Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Running Out Of Gas?

We knew we weren't going to be able to clear all the way to Illidan last night, but we figured we would get as many bosses down as we could.

A couple of our core raiders were unavailable and as raid time rolled around, we only had 22 people online, and one of those people wasn't even level 70 yet. It's somewhat challenging to field a 25 man from 21 people.

We went ahead and cleared trash to Gorefiend hoping that 4 more would log on as we cleared trash. We got through the trash and were starting at Teron, but we realized our chances of 21 manning him were rather slim.

We thought about PuGing the last couple of spots, but Terron is not the most PuG friendly boss.

We thought about PuGing Mount Hyjal, but there wasn't enough interest.

We floated the idea of playing in Sunwell trash. Someone felt that the trash would not drop epics until the first boss was down. That was the first I had heard that suggested.

I had read on the trash, and a couple of weeks ago asked to lead a Dominion/PuG trash run. When the idea was shot down, I stopped preparing for Sunwell. At that moment I couldn't for the life of me remember the strategies nor could I find them quickly enough to try to explain the various trash packs to our Raid Leader.

We went ahead to Sunwell and tried a couple of trash pulls, but going in flying blind isn't a recipe for success. At that point we just called it a night.

Maybe last night was just rough because of the unavailability of a couple of our real core guy, but this was the second called raid this week.

I hope I'm wrong, but it just seems like Dominion is starting to run out gas. The finish line is in sight, but we are running on fumes.

Torn

Now I know you dont run an advice column, but I find myself in a similar situation one you were in and I thought you might possible give me the insight granted of your experience. Im currently in a very small guild. We've only got 6 core players. We're all friends from work. These friends are the reason I even started playing wow. I just dinged 70 and I find myself wanting more than my guild can give. We are barely in posistion to run heroics. And to be honest only 4 of our players, myself included, have enough skill to even be successful in the heroics. But I want to see more of the game then that. I know WotLK is coming and so of the dynamics will be changing, but still my guild is not in any situation to even be close to taking the new 10 man's. My dillema is that I have been requested by a guild who's doing Kara and ZA and running Gruuls and even venturing in MH. I dont want to leave my friends high and dry without a tank. They've helped me level and get my engineering up. But I feel like if I stay with them Im doomed to PuGs and will never really progress. I guess the rub is that i hate letting people down. And I feel like I'd be letting real life friends down. One of friends who's a hunter in the guild also feels the same way, but he's not leaving because he feels the same way about letting our other friends down. - Torn

Dear Torn,

You have a unique opportunity in that all 6 of your know each other outside of game.

I'd encourage you to identify the issues the two 'less skilled' players have. Are they DPSers who do low DPS, or are they healers who struggle to with mana management or tanks who have trouble holding threat or staying alive? Perhaps you can work with them and help them raise their skill level.

Let me give you an example from "Of Teeth and Claws", she writes:

We have a mage who was consistently clocking in at 500dps, which is pathetic for a 25-man raider. After speaking with her, it was decided that the deep fire spec she was playing was no fun for her (she had adopted it to try to increase her dps), so she went back to deep frost. In addition, it came out that she lagged badly when raiding. This was resolved by walking her through lowering her video settings. The difference these two changes has made was amazing - just this week I drafted her for an "A" team run into SSC.

Work with those guys and bring them up to your level. It will be a win for everyone involved.
I'd suggest you guys all go out to lunch one day and talk about what your plans are both individually and as a guild are for the Wrath.
When I started playing WoW I had no idea what the 'endgame' was or what 'raiding' was and the kind of decisions you have to make.

If the 6 of you agree that Raiding is something you want to do at level 80, all you really need to do is pickup about 9 more people that you meet in PuGs as you level up, and you can have a solid 10 man group.

As for right now, we are probably two or threee weeks from patch 3.0 hitting and really changing the game, especially for Paladins. Prot Paladins change probably moreso than any other class. (Note to self, do post on Prot Paladin changes).

Most guilds have stopped 25 man raiding at this point, or if they haven't, 3.0 will likely put a stop to their raiding as they adjust to the new mechanics.

I'd run with the Kara guild as long as they let you run as a PuG and let you stay in your current guild.

Now if you guys are split on whether you want to Raid at 80, then you have to decide if you want to turn your guild into a raiding guild or go join a raiding guild elsewhere.

Good luck, and don't hesitate to email me again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

BETA: Early Decisions

(This post contains information about Wrath of the Lich King)

Expansions are a great time for making changes: changing specs, changing classes, changing servers, etc.

first zone

One of the first decisions you'll face in Wrath of the Lich King is the starting zone. Blizzard has provided two zones from which you can choose : Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord.

Each zone provides content for toons level 68-71.

Alliance side, I expect most people will go to the Borean Tundra. It is the zone you are taken to from the new Stormwind Harbor. This was the pattern I followed initially. Go the Stormwind, check out the new harbor and board the boat for Northrend. It'll drop you off at Valiance Keep in the Borean Tundra.

But this weekend, I wanted to check out the Howling Fjord, and man, am I glad I did.

To get to Howling Fjord, you take a boat from Menethil Harbor. This is a little bit out of the way for most toons, and I suspect people will only go there if they already know about it.

First of all the boat ride in, is a little longer, but stop and take a look around, the scenery is really amazing.

If you are a Paladin, or you love Paladin lore, I strongly recommend you start in Howling Fjord, especially if you did Naxx at level 60 or are familiar with the lore. Some of the lore quests are absolutely amazing and I had a blast doing them.

The Howling Fjord quests are just as easy as the Borean Tundra ones, but they topography of the land makes getting to them a little bit harder.

I am really enjoying playing on a PVE server. I can relax and level and not have to worry about Horde at all. It takes some getting used to, and I still expect to be attacked every time I see a Hordie.

first toon

You will also have to decided which toon you are going to take first to Northrend.

Honorshammer has been my main through Classic and Burning Crusade. At the moment, I don’t see any reason he wouldn’t be my main in Wrath.

I enjoy the Hunter. I’m kind of been dismissive of him saying stuff like “oh, he’s just a farmer for Honorshammer.” Truth be told, he’s fun to play!

The new pets look like a ton of fun. I will definitely want to get a Rhino for him. I already know what I’m going to name my Rhino, Rocksteady! (again, bonus points for getting the reference, and no, it has nothing to do with The Whispers!).

I have my Warrior, he’s sitting at 56 right now. I created him to be able to continue my tanking career if Paladin tanks didn’t work out in the Expansion. Honestly though, I don't know if I could really switch over to my Warrior full time. I've got such a history with Honorshammer now. I definately see my Warrior spending some quality time in BGs as a Titan's Gripping death machine. (We will ignore for the benefit of my fantasy how bad TG is at the moment)

To be brutally honest, the verdict is still out on if Blizzard has succeeded in creating true parity amongst the four tank classes. No one will really know until we are actually into Wrath, anyway. Besides, I can still reroll later in Wrath if Paladins really look like they got the short end of the stick. I just can’t see rerolling out of a (at the moment) baseless fear that Paladins will be bad tanks in Wrath.

Even if we are not great choices for Tanks, I really love Retribution right now on Beta. I had given some thought to switching to Ret even in Burning Crusade, so that’s always an option.

I'm currently Retribution spec on the Beta for soloing. It is very enjoyable!

It helps that I'm not using a ton of mana to kill things. My Ret gear is good, but nothing that I would call amazing: S4 Gloves, S3 Helm, Chest, and Legs, S2 Mace, Blood Stained Pauldrons, Furious Shackles, Pendant of the Perilous, Bloodlust Brooch, and Warboots of Obliteration. Most mobs die in under 10 seconds, sometimes much faster depending on Crits. I drop an instant cast Flash of Light (from the new Art of War talent) and I'm off to the next mob.

death knights

Another decision is will you level your current 70, or will you roll a Death Knight. Again, this weekend solidified my decision for me.

Originally, I wasn't even going to try out a Death Knight, but then I read a blog of someone who basically said "I normally don't like playing evil characters, but I'm enjoying my Death Knight".

I don't like playing 'evil' characters myself. Of all the WoW classes, Warlock is the only one I have not leveled.

I rolled a Dwarf Death Knight (are you surprised?). The starting zone is haunting, and creepy and felt very much like Undercity.

No disrespect to any Death Knights, or wannabe Death Knights out there, but I hated it. I hated the look of the class, the animations, the starting area, everything. I felt my stomach turn as the first quest giver told me I would learn to master the power of the Unholy.

It wasn’t for me. It was similar to how I felt when I took my Tauren Druid to Undercity. Basically it’s feeling like “Get me out of here!” I do almost everything on my Druid in either Thunderbluff or Orgrimaar. (Don’t tell anyone, but I also have a Blood Knight – Horde Paladin as well, Level 24 or so).

I love the Paladin class: I love the animations, the mounts, the lore, and the class specific quests.

I actually like the Seal/Judgement system, and it’s much better in Wrath. I love playing a buffing class and landing a Kings on a Random Hunter as I’m out questing.

So the plan going into Wrath is Paladin first, then Hunter, then Warrior.

professions

You will also need to choose or reevaulate your profession choice.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm going to stick with Engineering and Jewelcrafting. Once I get closer to level 80, the community at large will have a better grasp on how the various professions stack up and I can reevaluate it then.

Anything Biting?

I spent some time this weekend getting Honorshammer working on one of my pre-Wrath of the Lich King goal.

The Goal: 375 First Aid, Cooking, and Fishing

First up was First Aid. I had planned on AoEing my way through various mobs to drop cloth and level my first aid from where it was at 225 all the way up to 375.

Luckily for me, I ran into a couple of old friends, Saisuke and Rika who were kind of enough to gift me much of the cloth I needed to level up to 330. From there, I used a stash of Netherweave I had on banks and alts to finish the grind to 375. So, I now have maxed out First Aid.

My cooking is sitting at 366, and to finish leveling it up, I need high level fish, which comes from Fishing.

My fishing was sitting at 306. I did the fishing Daily's and got the Weather Beaten Journal (which allows you track Fish on your mini map) and the Weather Beaten Hat (which increases your fishing skill).

I spent time in Stormwind, Nagrand, and Terrorkar catching fish and skilling up. I managed to get from 306 to 321. I still have a ways to go. I'm storing most of the fish I catch on a bank toon for my Hunter and Warrior when they need to level up Cooking, but I sent some of the fish to the Dominion's bank to use for Raids.

At the same time, I did some dailies to cover my respec costs so I could be Ret for PVP and soloing.

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my plan right now is to stick with Engineering and Jewelcrafting. I will reevaluate once I get closer to the level cap again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

School Is In Session

Dominion is racing to get an Illidan kill before the ‘clock strikes midnight’ on Burning Crusade. At the same time we are facing the normal turnover that I would think happens in most raid guilds. People decide to raid less or stop raiding at all, or their real life schedule changes in some way that makes them unavailable certain nights.

It got to the point that we had to cancel Tuesday’s raid. They were able to raid on Wednesday, and successfully knocked out 4 bosses in Black Temple.

Our healing corps has gone through some interesting changes in my time with Dominion. When I first joined, the bulk of our healing corps was Paladins. It got to the point that I was Blessing Sanctuary on the Priests.

Then things changed and our healing corps was Druid heavy. Our raids looked like a veritable forest. Then it shifted again, and you could hardly move around our raid for all the Totems the Shamans had dropped. Now, it seems we have come full circle as we are once again filled to the brim with the Knights of the Silver Hand.

When we got to forming the raid Thursday night, we were again shocked by a lack of Roguery. Luckily, we had a new recruit in the raid so we had the requiste 2 for RoS.

Rogues hold a fairly important job on Reliquary of Souls. During Phase 1, a Rogue is a great choice to ‘tank’ the Boss during her Enrage. There is absolutely no healing allowed, so a Rogue with Evasion up is how most guilds handle it.

Then in Phase 2, Reliquary does an attack called Spirit Shock. If it hits, the person is disoriented and walks around like they got Shatter Shot. If this hits your Main Tank, RoS feels free to go destroy the next person on her threat list, which for Dominion is usually one of our Warlocks or Hunters. The only way to prevent this is to interrupt the attack and the best candidate for that is a pair of Rogues alternating kicks. Other classes lockouts vary and you need to get into a rhythm or you will face a situation where both interrupters are on cooldown.

So our new recruit has to learn how to ‘tank’ Phase and kick in Phase 2. One mistake meant a wipe.

All of us had to learn the fight when she was a Progression kill. Now our new Rogue had to learn it, too. I thought everyone was patient during the learning process.

You can read about a fight, and watch a video, and get an explanation, but at some point you have to pull and learn what it’s really like. We all complimented him when we got through Phase 2, but wiped because our DPS was being too careful. You get some of your damage reflected back to you, and if you hit her too hard before you get healed you can kill yourself.

This is generally considered a Bad Thing.

Everybody did a great job sticking with it, and on the next pull we made to Phase 3. I’m the Main Tank for Phase 3. Basically, you get me to Phase 3, I’ll get you a kill.

I had a really close call on my health, but blew my Lay On Hands. It’s a nice “Oh Snap!” button but it’s got such a long cooldown you really have to pick your spot.

The healers got back in rhythm and we got a kill with only 4 people dead. As a bonus, we now have another Rogue in our roster who knows how to help us kill RoS.

He Has Arrived!

I got my Figureprint!! I don't think any of the pictures really do him justice, as he looks much better than my camera has captured.

But here it is!


Apparently Honors tried to tank my cat.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Beer Me

Raid is called off. Now what to do?

Drink, and drink heavily.

Brewfest!!

I rode down to Ironforge and picked up the Brewfest quests.

I defended the Brewfest camp against the Dark Irons. I refuse to call those traitorous louts Dwarves. I rode the Brewfest Ram and put it through it’s paces, and I picked up a quest to dispose of Coren Direbrew in Black Rock Depths.

I haven’t been to Black Rock Depths since I was doing my Onyxnia Key stuff back at level 60. (Note for Horde readers: Alliance have a long quest chain that involves BRD for our Onynxia Key, or at least we did before Blizzard removed the Onyxnia key).

I saw a group doing a LF Tank for Brewfest in trade chat. I whispered them and chuckled to myself. They think they were getting RandomPaladinTank, but they were getting one of the better geared Paladin tanks on our server.

The Horde were camping the entrances to the zone. Do they really have nothing better to do? See the kind of ‘fun’ you miss out on being on a PVE server. I would have made it in but our healer had not changed it off of Heroic so I couldn’t zone in.

I was not entirely happy.

Anyway we zone in and take the Drilling Device down to the Bar. It reminded me of something out of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I appreciate that Blizzard didn’t make us fight our way all the way down to the Bar; it’s not a short trip.

You have to talk to Coren to aggro him, and his 3 flunkies. Actually you insult him. I was only too happy to oblige.

You fight him for a little while and he summons his two daughters. One of them stuns you, and Coren runs off. You walk around like you were scatter shot with a big barrel on your head, it’s pretty funny.

Most times by the time this happened he was almost dead. The PVP trinket will NOT get you out of the stun.

He is listed a level 73 (not a ?? Boss). I was actually thankful he could crush because dropping Holy Shield and getting a crush was about the only way I was getting any decent mana back. He hits very weak. Just to give you an idea, he crushes for about 1200.

The healer of the group was a tastefully named Paladin called Honorable. He relized he had a decent tank, so we rotated in various DPS and ended up killing Coren about a dozen times.

We would go to Ironforge and say “Tank and Healer LF3DPS for Brewfest” and get 7 to 10 tells almost immediately.

I saw 2 Swift Brewfest Rams, which I won one. I saw a Swift Brewfest Kodo, but lost the roll. I saw every one of the trinkes he drops EXCEPT the dang Coren’s Lucky Coin, which is the one I wanted. . I really do have horrible luck on drops.

I came away with the Healing trinkets and the Brightbrew Charm. It acts like a Healing Stream totem (hp over time). There is another one that summons a Brewmaiden to fight for you, but I didn’t see that one either.

I’ll probably try to do it a couple of more times for the Coin and see if my luck changes, but I hope to be busy raiding most of the week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Call A Doctor, Expansionitus!

Tuesday night I log in ready to assault Black Temple.

When time for the raid rolled around, we were looking a bit short, especially in the healer department. I did a double take as my Pally Power dutifully reported a complete lack of Roguery in our midst. Lack of healers would be rough. Lack of Rogues would pretty much mean RoS would be impossible.

It seems Expansionitis has hit Dominion.

boredom with early bosses
I know many people don’t find the early bosses in Black Temple exciting anymore and many people have gotten all the loot they could want from them, but we still have to kill them to get the harder bosses people do find exciting and from which people do want loot.

For me, I was on because I enjoy raiding. It’s fun (or I wouldn’t do it). Loot is fun too and I love getting a new piece of armor for my character, but ultimately it’s raiding that I enjoy. It’s joining forces with 24 other people on my team and facing down the monsters and Bosses ahead of us.

It’s also the opportunity I have to tank which is my favorite thing to do in game. You don’t get to tank a lot playing solo. (Actually, you tank everything solo, but it's not quite the same thing).

dkp system contributes
I think another contributor to our lack of attendance last night may be our loot system. I’ve stated on other occasions that I’m not a huge fan of our loot system. However, it is the system that Dominion uses and the one I’ve agreed to use. Please don’t take this as me complaining out our loot system. My goal here is only to point out that the loot system, regardless of my feelings about it, may be a contributor to our lack of attendance.

We run a positive sum DKP system. This system is similar to zero-sum dkp, but it allows the guild to add points to the system for anything and everything, including attendance, contributions of gold, gems, etc to the guild bank, and progression. As with zero-sum, each item is worth a certain number of points, and when a player receives a drop, the item’s value is subtracted from her total. Main spec upgrades cost up to 180 DKP under our system. Players may go below zero. These systems tend to get very, very inflated, and the gap between the bottom and the top can be just crazy.

For instance, the top of our leaderboard has between 4000 to 7000 DKP. Some of our newer members have less than 100. Those at the top have absolutely earned their place. Some of them have been raiding with Dominion for almost a year solid.

If you are curious I’m 52nd on the DKP list with just over 600. I’m still behind a guy who last raided in April. To be fair, I only attend 75% of our raids so that contributes to my personal position as well.

Just to reiterate, because I don’t want to be misunderstood, don’t read this as me complaining about the loot system. This was only meant to demonstrate the kind of gap that can exist in this kind of system.

Because of the large gaps, most people’s position in the loot food chain is well established. The 1st place player would need to loot over 10 pieces of gear with the 2nd place person not receiving any, and assuming no contribution by either player, for 2nd place to pass first place. That's what I mean by the position in the food chain being established. Let me say again, I feel those people have earned their place through months and months and months of consistent raiding.

But you combine a lack of incentive from the DKP system with boredom with familiar content with an imminent expansion and you get what we had last night: A called raid.
While waiting to see if we could form up the raid a little later, I headed over to the Netherwing mines to work on my Netherwing Rep which is still at Neutral. I was lucky enough to find one of our Mages, Kho who was also working on his Netherwing Rep.

AoE tank + AoE farming class = Lots of Dead Mobs. We both got a Netherwing Egg and over 30 Netherwing Crystals each. Kho was also able to mine some Nethercite ore.
It was quite eye opening for Kho as he watched me dispatch 10 in about the same time as I could kill 1. My DPS solo is proportional to the number of mobs hitting me. With just 1, I do about 200 DPS. With 10, I do about 800 DPS. I try really, really hard to never fight anything just 1v1.

We turned in our quests and ported to Ironforge after the raid was officially called off.
Only time will tell if last night was an aberration or the sign of things to come.

Fireproof

Title inspired by the new Fireproof movie.


So this is the promised post on how I put together my Fire Resist gear for Illidan.


In this gear I have 13947 unbuffed hit points, and 4728 unbuffed mana. I have 295 Fire Resist unbuffed which means that with Fire Resist aura up, I sit at exactly 365 Fire Resist, which is the Resist cap.


I have 449 Defense which is well below the 490 uncrittable mark, but I make up for it with 86 Resilience. Combined the 449 defense and 86 Resilience give me a 6.14% Crit chance reduction. This is 0.54% above the needed 5.6%, which means I am uncrittable. It also presents and opportunity to lower the Crit reduction to closer to 5.6 and pickup either some additional stamina or spell damage.

Head: Tankatronic Goggle with Honor Hold/Thrallmar Fire Resist Enchant. BoP Engineering crafted item.

Neck: Amulet of Torn Heart. This is a quest reward from a long chain out in Shadowmoon Valley.

Shoulders: Lightbrinder Shoulderguards with the Exalted Aldor enchant. These are straight out of my main tanking set and provide an excellent mix of threat, avoidance and stamina.

Back: Wyrmcultist Cloak with Defense Rating enchant. This has to be bought from a vendor who you can only access when you have a special disguise you get from a quest. You can get the disguise again, but you have to have done the quest chain, which starts from a random drop from killing Wyrmcultists in Blade's Edge Mountains.

Chest: Inferno Tempered Chestguard with Defense rating enchant. Badges.

Wrist: Bracers of the Ancient Phalanx with Stamina Enchant. Badges.

Hands: Inferno Tempered Handguards. I have a +8 Fire Resist kit on it right now, but I'd love some way to rework things to get 2% threat. Badges.

Waist: Belt of the Guardian. Good stamina piece but also provides some nice spell damage. BoE Blacksmithing crafted.

Legs: Inferno Tempered Legguards. I put a 40 stamina leg enchant on it trying to increase my stamina in my set. Badges.

Feet: Inferno Tempered Boots with Boar's Speed. Badges.

Ring1: Signet of Eternal Life. This is from the 3rd timed chest in ZA.

Ring2: Sodalite Band of Fire Resistance. This should really be the Pheonix Fire Band, but I never did the original Tempest Keep attunement quests (Champion of the Naaru) so I don't have it. I found the Sodalite ring on the Auction House and picked it up.

Trinket1: Scarab of Displacement. Hydross the Unstable. I'd love to replacethis with my Crimson Serpent for spell damage and stamina, but I need it to be uncrittable.

Trinket2: Commendation of Kael'thalas. 3rd boss in Heroic Magister's Terrace.

Weapon: Merciless Gladiator's Gavel. PVP.

Shield: Merciless Gladiator's Shield Wall. PVP.

Libram: Libram of Eternal Rest. Sethkekk Halls drop.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Valiant Efforts

We began the process of learning Illidan last night.

Vlad (Warrior) and I got together before the Raid to practice our kiting paths. It really helps that you can practice it right there with Illidan since he doesn't aggro until you talk to Akama.

After getting in some good practice and both us feeling pretty good about our readiness, we started up the Raid and got going.

Phase 1 is pretty easy. Our Main Tank Warrior (Kee) does a great job of kiting Illidan and preventing himself from getting Sheared. Phase 1 is very similar to the Solarian "Bomb". When you get the Shadow Fiend debuff, you have to get out of the raid, and over to two mages who take care of the Fiends that pop. The little Shadow Fiends tend to die very very quickly. We only wiped in Phase 1 once or twice when we lost Kee.

I would throw a couple of heals if one of our healers got the Fiend debuff, or toss my Avenger's Shield at the Fiends (to daze them) or throw it at Illidan himself. A couple of attempts I ran in to do 'melee dps'. I never let my mana drop below 85%.

Then we would move into Phase 2, and now it was time for Vlad and myself to tank the Flames. I would drop a Consecrate on the Warglaive and Exorcism the Flame who would move to my starting position. The circle around Illidan is broken into sections. We used the lines that separate the various sections like yard markers on a football field to figure out where we were and when we would need to turn around.

The Flames have as many hitpoints as some early Tier 4 bosses. They do not go down quickly.

Threat was a huge issue for both myself and Vlad. Our DPS can nip our heals in full threat gear, so you can imagine how much trouble it was holding threat in our asbestos Fire Resist suits.

DPS was constantly shifting from my Flame to Vlad's Flame, trying to make sure they didn't pull threat. The Flames do breath attack that hits everyone in a cone and can wipe out a good chunk of the raid as we found out when one of our Rogues pulled threat and the Flame turned around and breathed on the raid.

There is so much going on as you try to tank these guys. Every few seconds they drop a flame patch on the ground that you have to move them out of. You can't pull them too far away from the Warglaive that spawned them or pull them too far away from each other or they Enrage and destroy you. So you have to be watching for the flame patch and making sure you are staying in concert with the movements of your other tank.

Initially, I was moving through my kite path much too quickly, but we got that ironed out after an attempt or two.

Meanwhile, you have to keep your full threat rotation going, and be watching for Illidan's Eye Beam attack. The Eye Beam travels slowly along the ground near the kite path and leaves a blue fire on the ground that will damage anyone that gets too close. If the Beam actually hits you, it's pretty much lights out.

Eye Beam hits were responsible for most of our wipes. They have a much, much wider radius than you would think they have just by looking at the graphic. I got nailed twice by them. We changed our kiting a little bit to give us better visibility of the Eye Beams and that helped a little.

At points I couldn't see the lines on the ground anymore as everything was covered in either blue or green fire, and I accidentally kited my Flame off the path and got too far away from Vlad. Her Flame charged me, and enraged and proceeded to wreck her.

We made progress all night after a while we were successfully getting through about 50% of Phase 2.

I'd love to be able to tweak my gear a bit and get some more threat and hit points out of my gear. Right now I'm Fire Resist capped, Crit capped (can not be crit), with about 300 spell damage (about half what I usually run) and 18k hit points.

I still need more work on my kiting, and my threat generation. I hope we get another shot at him soon, but that is going to depend on how the rest of the week goes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Say Chesse!

I didn't do much over the weekend but one of the really cool things I had a chance to participate in was Beta Paladins Unite!

Basically, we gathered up as many Beta Paladins as we could and went to a cave in the DragonBlight. We had Alliance and Horde Paladins together in the cave and we all got on vent.

On the way there, I ran by a Troll Shaman. I immediately dismounted, sealed up and got ready to be Earthshocked. Only it never happened. The troll stopped, and looked at me (you could almost see him tilting his head as if to question my action.)

Then I noticed, his nameplate was blue and not red.

"You rolled on the PVE Beta Server, noob!"

Thank you voice in my head. (See, Auz, you aren't the only one).

It was really exciting for me to see in game some of the guys who I had talked to over the MainTankadin forums and blogs. Myself, Modus, Mortehl, and of course, Galoheart. I couldn't actually talk to Galo, seeing as he is a mana addicted Blood Elf, but it was cool to see him in game.

So here we are:

Mortehl and I were the only Dwarves. All the other Paladins were either Humans or Blood Elves. The guy on the end is a Death Knight.

After the picture, a couple of guys flagged for PVP. I flagged, threw a Hammer of Wrath at one of the Hordies and executed a textbook Bubble Hearth combination.

Thanks to Mortehl to setting it all up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Council Is Dismissed

My team had done it. Wednesday night they had gotten Akama, Gurtogg, Teron, and Mother. That meant the entire evening would be devoted to a progression kill on Illidari Council.
I found myself back in my usual spot of handling Veras Darkshadow, the Rogue on the Council.
We were running 8 heals. After a couple of attempts, I was asked to bring tank the rogue closer to the raid so my healer could be in range of more of the raid while Veras was vanished. Our Holy Paladin was also helping my stunning the Rogue with Hammer of Justice.
I immediately started having more problems. With my original tanking location, I had a good idea of where the Rogue would spawn and I would be able to spot him as he came up. With my new tanking location, he seem to spawn just about anywhere, and would more often spawn behind me where I wouldn't pick him up as quickly.
He seemed to be getting Blessing of Spell Warding much more often in this new location, than he had in the old.
Then on the next attempt, I stunned him, and he immediately got Blessing of Spell Warding. It removed my Hammer of Justice debuff and he was free to wreck a couple of healers before I got him back.
My Raid Leader had had some reluctance to use me on the Rogue, fearing this kind of situation, and after that attempt, she assigned a Druid to tank him. I was really disappointed. Before this one attempt, anytime I had lost the Rogue, it was when we were already well on our way to wipesville. I didn't feel the Rogue was ever the cause of a wipe. We were having far greater problems with people bunching up too much for the AoEs.
She assured me I would still get my time in the 'limelight'.
Tanking is a strange gig in that you do often find yourself in the limelight. You are one of the most visible people in the raid and key to the raids success. Lose a tank, and it's pretty much a wipe.
Being in the limelight is not why I tank. I really could care less if I'm in the 'limelight' or not. That doesn't motivate me one iota.
I wanted to prove Paladins could tank this, and I wanted to prove I could tank it.
She told me it didn't have anything to do with my ability as a player, but moreso that this tanking situation was more easily handled by a Druid (Icarus) who had tools in his kit for both Blessing of Spell Warding and Blessing of Protection.
Disappointed that I didn't get another shot at it, I donned my healing set for the next attempt.
The Rogue got loose again, and wiped the raid. The Druid said his mouse had died.
So, we buff up and pull again.
The fight went much better. With me healing the Druid, it freed up the Shaman who had been healing me to Chain Heal the AoE damage that was going around and myself and the Holy Paladin could rotate Hammers of Justice on the Rogue.
At about the 50% mark the Rogue got Blessing of Protection, and the Rogue turned his focus to our Shadow Priest. I ran in and Hammer of Justiced the Rogue and after a couple of seconds he vanished. Even though I wasn't tanking him, I was still helping to control him, I was still helping my team defeat the encounter. I was still helping us win.
Then I got Envenomed for a second time that attempt, and my Nature Potion was gone. I hit Stoneform, but still took the poision damage. I thought Stoneform removed the poison? At that exact same moment, I got hit with Holy Wrath. I went for my Divine Shield button but I was already dead.
Now Icarus had no healer. The guy is an incredible Druid tank, but he would still need heals.
Over vent, I advised him to use his Bash (a stun), and the Holy Paladin used his Hammer of Justice as well, and we got to through til he vanished and Icarus could battlerez me. I got what buffs I could, and slammed a Mana pot.
There were some really close calls keeping the Druid up after that, but I got some help from the other Holy Paladin. (I'm feeling really bad that I already forgot the name of the new Holy Paladin we had last night).
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the Council fell. That is one loooooooong fight.
We got one of each token. I was too far down on DKP to even think about winning a token, which didn't really bother me much because I have the Inscribed Legplates of the Aldor. Even under the old Loot System where tanks and healers got priority on loot, I would have passed because the Badge legs are as good if not a little better than T6.
As much as I don't want to admit it, The Druid on the Rogue and me healing had worked better. Now that I've had some time to allow the inital emotion to subside a bit, I'm not nearly as upset. Yes, it stunk getting pulled, and I didn't like it. But I look at this way. There are 9 fights in Black Temple. The only one I don't tank on are Teron Gorefiend, and now Council. Sometimes I tank on Najentus and sometimes I heal. My Druid friend basically only tanks when I'm not there. So now I heal on Teron and Council. That's not unreasonable. (If my raid leader is reading, I'd love love love a shot at Main Tanking Teron, if I'm ever online when we kill him).
But none of that really mattered at the moment. We were 8/9 in Black Temple and only one mob remained, Illidan Stormrage. The frustrations of Council were quickly forgotten when I realized we were about to walk up the stairs to pull Illidan.
When the expansion street date was announced people set different goals for themselves of what they wanted to do before the Expansion pack hit. I had set the rather odd goal of pulling Illidan. Not even nessessarily defeating him, just pulling him, and we were about to do just that.
Illidan is something like Magtheridon in that he doesn't aggro until you talk to Akama and start the fight.
We decided to take our screenshot with Illidan.
Fancy (Resto Druid), who had killed Illidan on her Priest helped explain Phase 1. Kee (Warrior) would be Main Tank for Illidan. He had to drag him from where he started towards one side. Every now and then, Illidan would jump up in the air and leave a fire on the ground that Kee would have to move him out of.She talked to Akama and they started their dialog. I know it will get old after our many wipes to come, but this first time, it was very, very cool.
Then Illidan uttered the words, I've been waiting to hear:

"YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!"
Excitedly, we dove into Phase 1.
The challenge of Phase 1 is Shadow Fiends. A set of them spawn from a randomly targeted person and if they hit anyone that person will spawn two more. We handled the Fiends quite well, but Kee died just as Illidan flew into the air to start Phase 2. I went ahead and grabbed one of the Flames of Azzinoth. He proceeded to hit me for 11k (30k resist) flame breath.
Ouch!
We will have an entire night to work on learning Illidan on Monday. I'm really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Drop That Won't Drop

Raiding Black Temple

We started up another week of Raiding in Dominion. We need to burn through the Bosses faster so we have more time to work on Council and eventually the big guy himself. We now have a release date on Wrath so the pressure is on to accomplish our Burning Crusade goals in the limited time we have remaining.

We managed to down 3 bosses last (Najentus, Supremus, and Reliquary of Souls). We do Reliquary on Tuesday because Dominion loves me for Phase 3. Basically you get to me in Phase 3, and you’ve got a kill. I don’t raid most Wednesdays due to real life commitments, so they do other Bosses on those nights.

It would be really nice for our team to get Akama, Teron, Gurtogg and Mother tonight so we would have plenty of time to on Council, and maybe even get a kill.

There are few things I find more enjoyable in game than being in on a Progression Kill.

Loot Frustrations

There are few things I find more frustrating in game than waiting on your loot to drop. Yep, once again Tide Stompers did not drop.

I’ve talked in the past about the RNG and my luck or lack thereof with loot. It can be a fairly frustrating process to wait and wait and wait for the Boss to decide to drop your loot. It makes it exhilarating when it does finally drop, but the frustration of waiting can be rough.

It is nice to know that I am not alone in this. A couple of Tankadins on MainTankadin have had similar frustrating experiences with the Tide Stompers Greaves.

What if you could turn in unwanted loot for some sort of token that you could use to buy the loot that didn’t drop after you had a set number of tokens? Ah well, one can dream.

It was really nice when I was working towards so many Badge rewards during my time in Tier 5. The Badge alternatives were just as good if not a little better than what I could loot. I knew every Badge I looted was a step closer to my upgrade even if nothing else I could use dropped. Now in Tier 6, I am waiting for a couple of specific drops that I need to upgrade my suit. It’s mostly out of my control.

I feel like I’m capable of tanking anything in Black Temple or Mount Hyjal right now, except for Reliquary of Souls Phase 2. No amount of gear is going to put Spell Reflect on my hotbar. So I don’t necessarily need any gear to be a contributing member of my raid, but I know I’ve only got so many shots at Najentus before the Expansion comes and I’m stuck with troll feet until 80.

I do have another alternative. The Mymidon’s Treads which drop off of Akama are a decent replacement. I don’t know if our other tanks (who are ahead of me in DKP) already have them.

We run a fixed cost DKP system, and most of our Core raiders have 10 times more DKP than they can spend on any item. The way most people climb up our DKP charts is with DKP bombs which amounts to dropping thousands of gold on the Guild Bank.

I’ve never been a big fan of fixed cost DKP systems, but it really isn’t that big of a deal. I get plenty of loot. It’s more the RNG that’s the problem more so than any loot system.

One of my Warrior co-tanks is equally frustrated by her Tanking weapon. Because of our terrible luck with drops she is still sporting a Mallet of the Tides. With all our kills, we’ve only seen 1 Unbreakable Will and 0 Brutalizers.

It wasn’t all bad luck for Tanks last night as Reliquary did drop a Pendant of the Titans which went to Kee, our usual Boss Tank. He will be our tank for Illidan so I was happy to see him get an upgrade.

Exalted
During the night, I hit Exalted with the Ashtongue Deathsworn. The only Outland factions I’m not exalted with now are Netherwing, Kurenai, and Sporregar.

I picked up the exalted Paladin trinket, Ashtongue Tailsman of Zeal. I’m not sure if I’ll ever equip it. I have a Crimson Serpent for threat and a Moroes Pocketwatch for avoidance to go along with my Commendation of Kael’thalas. It might have a place in my healing set, where right now I’m sporting the Scarab of the Infinite Cycle (Haste) and a Ribbon of Sacrifice.

Loose Ends

I’m not sure what I want to do with the Hunter right now. He’s 70, but I don’t see much point in trying to ‘gear him up’ much. His main purpose in life is to mine ore so Honorshammer can level up Engineering and Jewelcrafting if I decide that will be my profession mix in the Expansion. I am waiting to see what they do with Engineering because based on how it looks right now it can’t possibly be finished.

Between Raiding, and World Server Is Down, I haven’t done much on the Beta server.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tank Gear in 3.0

I've generated a spreadsheet that shows the new values on 40+ common tank gears. Then I've ranked them from best to worst in the slot. Please note, this does not include all gear but a decent cross section of what's available to most people.

If there is a specific piece of gear you'd like to see added I can do that.

You can see the spreadsheet in it's entirety: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pxRKUgjn9TRr-KY-8OzuQRQ

Off To The Great White North (Beta Edition)

So Saturday, I decided to trapse off to the frozen north. Not long after logging in I said hi to Fridmarr and Jennsarri, two names I know from the Maintankadin forums. The quickly invited me to their guild, Order of the Silver Hand.
The first stop on my little journey was Stormwind Harbor. While the harbor itself is pretty remininscent of Menthil Harbor some of the architecture surronding the harbor is really nicely done. My personal favorite touch is the giant lion statue that reminds me of the giant panther statues outside of Bank of America stadium.
The boats themselves are beautiful, and as an added bonus you can stay mounted on the boat. Speaking of mounts, it seems like everyone in Beta has a Bear mount.
I took the boat and soon found myself at Valiance Keep. If you've never noticed before, I'll let you in on a little something, every Keep in the game is based off the same model, but not Valiance, This is a brand new model and it's pretty cool.
I ran around and picked up some quests and found the new profession trainers. The only one I couldn't find was the Engineering Grand Master. One of the guys in Order Of The Silver Hand told me that the Grand Master Engineer was only in Dalaran. Apparently, the Grand Master will be in Valiance at some point.
The Jewelcrafting Grand Master had a ton of receipies. The last time I saw my wallet get drained like that was filling up my car this morning. He also had a quest for me to learn Perfect Gem Cutting, whatever that is.
From there I headed outside to do some quests. It seemed some Crypt Fiends had escpaed from Mount Hyjal and were not attacking the Keep. It was up to me and a couple hundread of my closest friends to try to stop them.
Competiton for mobs and quest items was fierce all during my playtime Saturday. I was still questing as Prot and I seemed to be doing just fine. It was hard to compare any of the quest rewards to my current gear because none of them were really itemized for a tank.
I know I shouldn't be questing in a tank spec with tank gear, but I'm trying to get some repetitions in. I anticipate I will have plenty of time to switch to Ret and do some questing as well.
It seemed like the majority of people I ran into were either Hunters or Paladins. I don't much about the Hunter changes in Beta, but man all the new pets they had looked like fun.
One of the quests was bugged to where the mobs would spawn and despawn almost instantly.
I did maybe a half dozen quests before the lag just got to be unbearable. Waiting 3 to 5 seconds for an instant cast just wasn't fun. I managed to get about 10% through towards level 71.
I hopped into the Live realms and did some questing on my Hunter. I finished all the quests in Blade's Edge that I had skipped on Honorshammer. I went straight to Netherstorm at 68 as I had mapped out all the quests that gave you a good starter set for Karazhan. My goal was to get those quests and be ready.
In the course of doing the quests on the Hunter, I dinged 70! I ported him to Shattrah and then Exodar. I had been doing all my old world stuff in Ironforge because I was familiar with it from all my time on Honorshammer. But as Han would say "I don't think they had [Draenai] in mind when they built it". For his big ding, I thought it was appropiate to return to the place where he started, the Exodar.

We Have a Date


Helpful Macros

I love Macros. They can be really helpful in accomplishing many tasks in game. Most all the Macros I use I got from reading various threads on Maintankadin. It's a fantastic site, and I'd recommend anyone interested in Protection Paladins read the stickies.

Unfortunately, it's been something of a victim of its own success, and as it continues to grow in membership, it starts becoming less and less of a place where passionate Paladin tanks share their knowledge and experiences and more like the WoW General forums from which it used to be a nice escape.

Most of the Macros I use today are Pickup Macros. They are used to help me pickup targets quickly and make up for my 30something years old reaction time.

Halazzi (ZA)

In ZA, I use a macro for picking up the Spirit Lynx during the Lynx Boss encounter.

/cleartarget
/targetexact Spirit of the Lynx
/cast [exists] Judgement


The biggest mistake I make with this macro is NOT having a Seal up.

Fathom Lord Karathress (SSC)

This is for tanking Fathom Lord's Hunter, Sharkkis. He can summon one of two pets so you need to be ready for which ever one you are going to get.

/cleartarget
/targetexact Fathom Lurker
/targetexact Fathom Sporebat


A'lar (TK)

I use this for picking up the Adds that are spawned during the Al'ar encounter. This works for both Phase 1 and Phase of Al'ar.

/cleartarget
/targetexact Ember of Al'ar


I don't use a cast on this because I need to wait for them to come down in Phase 1.

Anetheron (MH)

Anetheron, the second Boss in Mount Hyjal. If I'm not tanking Antheron himself, I'm on Infernals. I found this macro to help me pick them up.

/cleartarget
/target [nodead] Towering
/cast Exorcism


I spam that as soon as I see Anetheron casting while trying to run in the general direction of the person targeted.

Azgalor (MH)

Usually I'm on Doomguard duty.I Consecrate on top of the person in case I'm silenced when the Doomguard actually spawns, then I use.

/cleartarget
/target [nodead] Lesser Doomguard
/cast Exorcism



Flash Divine Shield

#showtooltip Divine Shield
#show Divine Shield
/cast Divine Shield
/cancelaura [modifier:alt] Divine Shield


If I spam it with alt down, it casts Divine Shield then cancels. With no alt down it stays up. I use this in a couple of ways. For one, it's my Fear break. I hit this Fear is gone and I'm back in action. It's also a debuff remover. Hit this, debuff is gone. Most of the time when I use this, I get aggro back so quick, the party doesn't even know I bubbled.
Healthstone
/use Master Healthstone
This will use the highest Healthstone you have in your bags so you don't need to bind a key for each of the 3 different Healthstones you can get.
Trinkets
Top Trinket Slot:
#showtooltip
/use 13

Bottom Trinket Slot:
#showtooltip
/use 14

Both:
#showtooltip
/use 13
/use 14

This is really nice as I'm constantly changing up my Trinkets, but I can keep them bound to the same key/button.
Downrank Consecration
/cast [nocombat] Consecration(Rank 1); Consecration
When you are not in combat it will use Rank 1, and if you are in combat, it will use Max Rank. I use this in Arena (there are a TON of Rogues and Druids in 2s) when I don't see any targets.

Bubble Hearth
/castsequence reset=3600 Divine Shield, Hearthstone
You aren't truly a member of the Paladin class until you pull off that first successful bubble hearth.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Everything Changes

I logged into the Beta server and found myself right where I had left off in Shattrah. But already I was different. All my gear had been changed and was now loaded with +STR, and all my talent points had been reset.

On Live I have 532 spell damage.

I have 16457 hit points. Here are what my Melee and Defense tabs look like:First things first, I had to respec. I decided to go with a Prot spec that was more of a Raid Tank spec. Respec fees are only 1c in Beta so I could afford to do that.

Once I had all my talents points arranged I looked at the results.

I took every Stamina talent I had in live but I have about 500 less HP because they changed Combat Expertise to give less Stamina. Not really excited about that, but I'm hopeful when they do the 'numbers pass' they will see if it's a problem.

I have about 1200 less mana.

My spell damage became Spell Power and went up by about 100.

My Attack Power and Hit Rating went way up. In addition, my Crit went way up. My Dodge went up, but my Parry and Block Rating went down.My Defense is a problem. 481 isn't uncrittable against a level 72 or 73 (Boss). That's a problem for the 3.0 patch.

I switched my Band of the Stalwart Protector for a Ring of Sundered Souls and got to 489 Defense. That should suffice against anything but a Boss. Then I switched in my Belt of the Guardian and got over 490 and put my HP back over 16k.

Next I checked to see what new toys the trainer might have.
Your old Judgment spell becomes Judgment of Light and you have to train Judgment of Wisdom and Justice. Basically your Judgment debuff is independent of what you have Sealed. You can Seal of Righteousness and cast Judgment of Wisdom and get the Seal damage Judged plus put up the Judgment of Wisdom debuff.

Summon Warhorse was a new spell that teaches you to summon the Blood Elf version of the Level 30 mount. Here you can see it in the new Pet/Mount interface:At this point I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole Beta. I need to rethink my entire gearset and decide what is really better based on the new stats and mechanics.

I decided to go to the Isle of Quel'Danas to try the new stuff in a familiar surrounding. I did the "Kill 6 Demons" quest. The first big change I noticed was when I fought the large Fire demons. These guys usually give me fits on Live, but in Beta I was able to take one down without much problem. I did find myself going through my mana bar quite quickly. Of course I was questing in Tank gear. In live I would never solo in this gear.

Interestingly, you DO get XP for doing these quests and rested experience is working, but you don't start generating rested until your XP bar reappears.
The beta server is pretty laggy right now, but so far it's interesting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hey Beta Folks!

IT'S HAMMER TIME!!!

Manamenna

Raid leaders are more than just good players and good organizers, they have to good at managing the morale of a guild.

Last night we were going to take on Gurtogg Bloodboil in Black Temple. He's probably the most difficult fight for healers in the entire Instance. My Raid Leader was also aware that she was working in a couple of new healers, and wasn't entirely sure how the fight was going to go.

So to lighten everyone's mood, right before the pull she had us watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNbFYSXON6Q

I was a fan of this clip before it got the subtitles. It was one of my favorite skits from the Muppet Show. The person who made this video did a really good job. I think he should have made Kermit a Paladin, but that's just me.

Gurtogg did prove to be something of a challenge, but in the end, our new healers learned the fight and we got him down.

Come Heal Me

My guild, Dominion has an opportunity for those of the healing persuasion. I'm talking to all you wonderful Holy Priests, Resto Shamans, Holy Paladins and Resto Druids.

And now that you can transfer from PVE servers to PVP servers, we would love to welcome you to Altar of Storms.

Dominion is a PVE focused guild on the PVP server Altar of Storms. We are currently working our way through late Tier 6 with the goal of completing all Tier 6 content before the Expansion. We are currently 5/5 7/9 and have begun working on Illidari Council.

As we are short on time to complete our goals, we would prefer candidates who are already geared for our level of content, but Badge gear (with high level gems and enchants) works well for many classes.

Our raiding schedule is Monday through Thursday, 8pm Server to 12:00am Server. We will on occasion go as late as 12:15am server. Altar of Storms is an EST server.

You can find our website here: http://dominionguild.guildlaunch.com Please fill out an app and we will get back to you. Expect to have your gear and spec analyzed by our officer corps, so try to make sure you always log out in your best PVE gear.

If you have specific questions you'd like to ask, feel free to make a level 1 on Altar of Storms and look up Vladimeir, Fares, Thunderbolt, Icifire, Biberon, or Cfchief/Cfcchief.

Addons / UI

Hi! I recently started reading your blog. I love it. I play a prot pally. I am just getting to ZA, so I will probably never see some of the content you are currently blogging about. I was wondering what addons you use?

My UI is something that I continue to struggle with. I need something flexible enough to allow me to be an effective tank, a decent healer and a solid member of my PVP teams. I still feel like my UI is entirely too cluttered.
I'm not really going to do much with my UI until I reset it for Wrath. All the mods will break and I will need to replace them, plus I'll have the entire 70-80 leveling time to learn my new UI.

Despite being pretty computer savvy, I tend to get lost when it comes to Addons and Macros. I choose to not spend the time to customize them to any degree.
Let me briefly give an overview of the Mods/Addons/UI that I use, and why I chose each one.

My main UI is a combination of Xperl and Fubar.

Tankadin - This mod will flash your screen yellow if Righteous Fury is about to expire or gets purged. It has a handy Uncrushable calculator so you can see immediately if you are uncrushable. It displays all your important tanking stats on the main frame, and it allows you to quickly send your tanking stats to party, raid, or whisper. As a bonus, I can shrink it down to next to nothing when I'm PVPing as Ret or Healing.

Omen - This is my threat meter. I'm generally not satisfied with the numbers it shows me regardless of what they are. I'm always pushing myself to try to produce more threat.

ElkanosBuffBar - Turns your buff bar into a long vertical list. I have something a love/hate relationship with this mod. I wish it took up less screen real estate but I've gotten really familiar with using it. It breaks out your buffs from your debuffs. It is really handy for spotting debuffs.

PallyPower - I don't know where I'd be without this mod. It makes it quick and easy to assign who is buffing what to whom, and it allows you to coordinate between all the different Paladins in the raid.

SCT and SCTd - Scrolling Combat Text and Scrolling Combat Text Damage. Yes, there is scrolling combat text in the default Blizzard UI. What I like about SCT is the ability to separate out incoming damage, outgoing damage and incoming heals. I put incoming damage in the center of my screen, outgoing damage on my right and incoming heals on my left. This is one of the few mods I really customized to any degree.

Deadly Boss Mods - Timers and Alerts for all those nasty tricks the Bosses throw at you.

DurabilityFu - This puts a percentage in your FuBar to let you know how badly your equipment is damaged and when it's time to repair.

Decursive - I love this mod. It's made me a much faster dispeller on Teron Gorefiend. I find this mod to be extremely helpful.

CEnemyCastBar - This puts a series of bars in your UI that shows you the spells a Boss is casting and helps you track cooldowns. I consider it a must have for my UI.

Grid - I didn't like Xperl's Raid Frames. I thought they took up too much screen real estate so I replaced them with GRID. It's small and shows me the data I need.

Healbot - For those times when I need to throw a heal, Healbot is wonderful. It estimates incoming heals, shows when people are out of range and when they need a heal. I turn it off when tanking and turn it on when Healing.

ItemRack - This Mod is such a time saver. I think I have a dozen profiles saved. I click the profile and BAM I'm in the right gear. It allows me to customize a set of gear for each Boss if needed and pop into that set whenever I needed.

Ratings Buster/TekKompare - These are two separate mods, but together they form a powerful tool. Ratings Buster shows the actual conversions on the Item tool tips. You'll see how much Dodge% is gained from the 38 or whatever dodge rating is on the item. Then tekCompare shows you how much it's higher or lower than what you currently have equipped. Here is an example of it working:
I like very much.
MobInfo - This handy little mod shows you that you were at 1% when you finally wiped on the Boss.
OneBag/OneBank - When your bank and bags are as full as mine are, you really get tired of clicking to open each bag. OneBag shows you all your bags at once as it was one giant bag with 92 slots.
Prat - This is a Chat addon. It shows me the Class/Level of each person and I feel it makes Chat easier to read.

Auctioneer - I hate the Auction House. I love going up to the Auctioneer, clicking on Appraiser, waiting an moment for it to scan and then hitting Post Auctions. I never have to think about it. Saves me time and makes me money, that's a good combination.

PerformanceFu - Shows you your Framerate and Memory usage. It's great for diagnosing which Addons are eating up all your Memory (I'm looking at YOU, QuestHelper).

Recount - I only use this one when I'm Ret or on my Hunter to track how much damage I'm doing. It used to be really helpful for figuring out how I died but that functionality broke a couple of patches ago.

Proximo - Very helpful for identifying and targeting your Arena opponents.

Sqeenix - Makes your mini max square.

QuestHelper - For Alts only as it's a major memory hog. It helps you complete quests by showing waypoints and locations.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leaving Heroes

Tomorrow, I'm publishing my UI/Addons post. Then Monday, I'll be publishing my Helpful Macros post.

I almost feel like a real blogger.

Now onto today's post.

It was 1 year ago today when I left my first guild, Heroes Inc. I had applied to a guild called Bloodsky when they had put a post out saying they were specifically looking for a Protection Paladin.

At that point and time, it was very rare for Raiding guilds to use Protection Paladins in any capacity. I was so shocked when I saw their recruitment post on the AoS forums that I applied, fully expecting to be rejected. Bloodsky was a 25 man raid guild working on SSC and Heroes was still working on Karazhan. In our best attempts, we had gotten Prince Malchezaar into the single digits. Remember, this was a year ago, before the 2.3 or 2.4 badge gear. I'm not even sure that Season 2 was out yet.

When I was accepted, I had to make a choice. I have a place I go to when I need to think, and for me that's Uther's Tomb in the Western Plaguelands.

Ultimately, I decided to leave Heroes Inc.

The guys survived and Wichita took over Heroes Raiding, which I had been leading. They would eventually move into 25 mans, downing High King Maulgar, Gruul, Magtheridon, and Lurker.

Heroes eventually called it quits on 25 man raiding. They did quite well with 10 man raiding with full clears of both Karazhan and Zul'aman.

I think Heroes would have really benefited from the 10man/25 man raid split Blizzard is introducing in Wrath of the Lich King, and I have every confidence they would have progressed as far as they wanted to in the 10 man tract.

It actually didn't work out for me in Bloodsky. I could make their start times, however, they did invites a good half hour earlier, which was usually before I could log into the game.

I'm still friends with most of the guys in Heroes, and I still keep tabs on them. One of the Heroes guys is my 2s partner, and I might be joining a 5s team with them, which would be cool. I am very happy to have been able to rebuild and maintain a close connection with those guys.

Never Never Forget

We will always remember those who lost their lives in the Terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Change And the MainTankadin Community

My only regret is that I didn't write this myself, give it a read: http://www.failsafedesign.com/maintankadin/viewtopic.php?t=13335

I've got 5 or 6 post in draft mode, they will up as I finish them. I don't want overwhelm readers with too many. Enjoy them as they come.

In other news, I'm now listed on the Twisting Nether Wiki.

Another Opportunity In the Spotlight

Dominion went back to Black Temple last night. At the same time we were forming up, Mal Kati was also forming up their raid. I felt like a guy at a party when his ex-girlfriend walks in. Everyone in Mal Katai was super nice and a couple of guys said hello.

We pulled to Najentus, and I had already switched into my healing gear when my Raid Leader announced I would Main Tank for this fight.

I relish every opportunity I get to Main Tank. We may several very skilled and knowledgeable Tanks in our Guild, and each of them does a terrific job when called upon.

The attempt on Najentus wasn't going as smoothly as everyone would have liked and I could discern a level of frustration in the Raid. One of the healers commented that they felt like I was taking more damage than our usual tank.

They said this in a private Healer channel, which they probably didn't think I was monitoring. I offered, in said channel, that the major difference would be if Demo Shout or Thunderclap were not up.

This morning I got a chance to look at the WWS, and Thunderclap was up, but sure enough I couldn't see Demo Shout listed in the Debuffs.

I've been a Protection Paladin for a long time, and this is hardly the first time I've heard the complaint that Paladins take more damage than Warriors. In the past, I would have let this get me angry and probably have caused an issue between me and the healer who made the statement. This time, I decided it was probably just a side effect of everyone being a little stressed over the kill, and aside from my pseudo explanation, I didn't say anything else about it.

I would later learn that my buddy, Araxe (Hunter) from Mal Katai, had scored the Halberd of Desolation off Najentus. This guy has been farming for a Trollbane forever, so I was really happy for him to get the Halberd. The funny thing is that Dominion still hasn't seen a Halberd drop (or Tide Stompers, QQ).

We moved on to Supremus.

At one point, our healers got cut off from the Tanks and we lost Kee (Warrior) who was Main Tanking him. Supremus has two Phases that he shifts between during the fight and drops aggro between each Phase.

My normal course of action on Supremus is to not actively work to pull aggro from the Main Tank on Phase shifts. It is easier on the Healers to not have to be switching through multiple Main Tanks during the Phase shift. What I noticed was that for whatever reason, sometimes Supremus would eat a DPS or Healer before he got on the Main Tank. When that happened, I went into full aggro build mode to try to get him off the Healer/DPS. I was too late, and we lost them, but a couple of times I ended up pulling aggro and Main Tanked him for a Phase.
Our next target was Reliquary. On the way, I whispered the Healer who had made the earlire comment about me, wishing him luck on getting a drop I thought he wanted. It turns out he really didn't want to the drop, but I could tell from our conversation, that everything was cool between him and I. He may have been oblivious to my reaction to his comment, which would be a good thing.

We two-shot Reliquary mainly because our DPS was overly cautious on not killing themself on Phase 2. You get a percentage of the damged you do reflected back to you, and a big crit or two can easily kill you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We Are Not A Committee

(Bonus points if you get the reference from the title)
Our merry band returned to the Black Temple last night.

The evening started by distrubuting Shadow Resist gear to our new Raiders because we were going to face down Mother Sharaz.

Mother's trash is some of my favorite in Black Temple. There are a bunch of AoE groups which are fun for a Protection Paladin. Be careful if you tank them, because much like how the birds in A'lar's trash can shut you down with their silence, these mobs have an annoying stun. The good news is you don't loose aggro when they stun you, but it can frustrating trying to get off your next Consecrate and unable to do so.

We've only killed Mother one time, and that was a couple of weeks ago. Several people in our Raid had not seen the fight yet. It took a couple of pulls for everyone to really understand the fight and get the movement down.

Offtanking Mother is not the most exciting job in Black Temple. It's more of a soak job than a tank job. I started out trying to throw some heals, but Mother has a long silence that makes it challenging to get heals out. So I ended up keeping Judgement of Wisdom up for the casters, and 'DPSing' with Consecrate, Seal of Vengeance and Exorcism in between siliences.

We had one of those agonizing 1% wipes where you hope that last tick of Shadow Word Pain will finally kill the Boss, but then we ended up tethering her and she reset. After that, we were more determined than ever to get her, and we killed her on the very next pull.

Both of our Warrior tanks napped Tier 6 as did my old buddy Aga. Mother did not drop the Libram, but some clothy pants that made our Mages and Warlocks happy.

With Mother down, we started to work our way to Illidari Council.

One of the reasons I like to raid is to see more of the game than I had previously. Part of this, I'm sure comes from the fact that WoW is my first MMO. In all my other computer gaming experience, the goal was always to 'win', to beat the game. You really can't 'win' World of Warcraft. You don't ever really 'beat' the game. So I've set a rather arbitrary benchmark for myself, Illidan. When we kill Illidan, I will consider to myself that I have 'beat' the game of Burning Crusade.

Illidari Council's trash isn't too bad. You get a single pull of a Robot which is like the Tempest Keep Robots on steriods. He picks one person and winds up this big blast of doom. It's up to the healers to Power Word Shield and heal the person quickly. It took us a couple of pulls to defeat these guys without losing anyone.

The other trash is a coupe of packs of Mages, Paladins and Rogues. I was usually assigned to tank one of the Battlelords (Paladin type). They actually use Divine Shield aka The Bubble when they got low, and it can be Mass Dispelled.

I had to chuckle when someone in the raid mentioned "Well at least he didn't hearth".

After a short bit of trash we found ourselves face to face with Illidari Council.

This is another multimob boss like Moroes, High King Maulgar, Fathom Lord Karathress, or Hex Lord. Much like those encounters, the first hurdle to master is the pull. Council consists of a Paladin (Garithos), a Mage (High Nethermancer Zerevor), a Priest (Lady Malande), and a Rogue (Veras Darkshadow). Most of them appeared to be decked out in full Tier 6, or at least the Paladin was. I'm not really familiar with other classes Tier set graphics. I guess High Nethermancer is the next step from High Astromancer like Solarian on Tempest Keep.

The initial strategy we tried was to have your humble author run in and bubble, then Blessing of Protection Kho, who was our Mage tank, then click off my bubble, and grab Veras Darkshadow.

That didn't work so great. One of the reasons I prepare myself so diligently outside of game is make up for some of my ingame deficiancies. See, I'll let you in on a little secret, I'm not that good of player. I don't have those lightning quick reflexes I had 10 years ago when I was playing Quake and X-Wing Versus Tie Fighter.

I managed to run in and bubble. I know I got the Blessing of Protection off on Kho because it went on cooldown, but by that point Veras was freely destorying my raid.

We tried again. This time I was to run in and grab Veras while the other tanks were Misdirected and the Mage Tank grabbed Zerevor. So I ran and SPLAT! Dead Hammer. It turns out I was still supposed to bubble myself.

So we try something different. Another Paladin put Blessing of Protection on Kho (Mage Tank), and I had Veras Misdirected to me. That pull went much smoother.

Veras, being a Roguey type, will from time to time, do a Moroes like Vanish. While he's vanished, he goes around and puts poison on a couple of people in your raid. It is similar to Garrotte from Moroes and can be removed by Stoneform, but mostly you just have to heal through it.

After a short time he will reappear and needs to be picked up by the tank. I had set up several macros to help me grab Veras. The Avenger's Shield macro flat out would not funciton. My apologies to Arbolito and Estigma who suffered quick deaths while I figured out that it wasn't going to work.

So I went to the Judgement macro. That worked great, but a couple of times it would Judge him before he was fully back and he seemed to ignore the Judgement and run loose. I did not see Blessing of Spell Warding on him.


Usually the first two or three pick ups went well, then I would miss one. I do not believe Veras was ever the cause of a wipe. We were having larger issues with people not moving out of Flame Strikes, and Blizzards, and being hit by Divine Wrath. By my estimate, I'll need at least 10 clean pickups on Veras for our first kill.

Veras only got Blessing of Spell Warding one time and I already had established Aggro so it wasn't an issue. I was actually using my Sun Eater on this fight so I would have more aggro when he got Blessing of Spell Warding.
Next time we face them, I am only going to do a Target macro. I will fire off my Judgment, Taunt, or Avenger's Shield manually.

It was really cool to see a new encounter. I have every confidence we will defeat it.

Remove Head From Sand

Yes, this is about Wrath, and it might contain a bit of spoiler, but I assume many of my readers are Paladins, and Prot Paladins at that. You (and our Warrior friends) need to be aware of these changes.


I know Wrath of the Lich King is still in Beta. I know a million things could change between the way the Beta is today and the way it will ultimately ship and be playable on the Live realms

One of the reasons I haven't blogged much about Tankadins in Wrath is because the situation if very fluid. What I post today will in all likelyhood be totally changed by the time we actually zone into Northrend. I don't see much to be gained by analyzing what will come.

(Okay, the REAL reason I haven't blogged about Wrath much is I haven't gotten a Beta invite).

HOWEVER, there have been two rather significant changes on the Beta server that even those not interested in keeping up on every twist and turn of Beta needs to get up to speed on.

First one is that Anticipation no longer provides Defense, instead it gives Dodge. What you need to do is see what your Defense is in your gear WITHOUT Anticipation. Since I had been Ret for the weekend, I put on my tanking gear to see what my Defense would be.

Not 490.If you don't want to go to the trouble of respecing, just subtract 20 from whatever your Defense is right now .

The other major change is all tanking gear has been reitemized. That is, the current gear you and I have on our toons right now. Whenever 3.0 hits, we will have different stats as soon as we log in the first time.

This is relevant for what you are doing right now. The change will effect Tier 6 Paladins who may have passed over 'Warrior' items in favor of 'Paladin' items. Now those items must be compared again. It also means I need to revisit my Badge Pick Order post. Items that may have been less appealing may now be more appealing.

Here is my current Chest:

When 3.0 hits, it will look like this (I'm not in Beta, this is a screen shot from MainTankadin):

Basically a straight swap of Spell Damage for Strength.

Not everything was a simple. Some pieces lost Defense, and Avoidance to add Strength.

So what should you be doing today in Live to prepare.

Check your Defense, and have materials ready for Steelweave for your chest and back.

Next grab some uncut gems and be ready to have some Defense/Stam gems cut. Good thing that Talasites are dirt cheap.

Lastly look to get a melee type weapon. Slow speed would be nice. One option open to you at any Tier is the Merciless Gladiator's Slicer. If you can handle Heroic Magister's Terrace, Kael drops Breaching Comet. In Tier 5, Morogrim holds the Talon of Azshara, and A'lar drops Netherbane. At Tier 6, you have Syphon of the Nazerium off Supermus, and Najentus drops Rising Tide.