Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I have so many things to be thankful for this year.

My family, and my friends both online and out there in the 'real' world top that list. I am also thankful to be gainfully employed in a job I enjoy. I really have more blessings than I can count.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ding 73!

Just a quick not to start off from a comment I got. The commenter asked me to not publish the comment, but was basically asking how I felt about another player. Since the commenter didn't sign the comment, I can't respond to it privately. If you want to know how I feel about someone, whisper me or email me, I'll tell you. Don't assume you know.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way. I started doing quests in Dragonblight. The first quest had you mount up on a griffon to save villagers. When you grabbed them, your character says, "Come with me if you want to live." It was great to be able to fly again, but adding that line was wicked cool.

About that time my good friend, Aoesrus had logged on, so I headed back to Howling Fjord so we could quest a bit. Nights like last night are why I started playing World of Warcraft in the first place, to hang out with my friend who happened to move 3 time zones away. This was long before I even knew what a Raid was, or a phat epicz. We've been Taurens, Trolls, Humans, Dwarves, and even Night Elves.

We knocked out a bunch of quests, but there were some (like the quest where you become a robot) that I couldn't continue with him because I had already done them. I did discover a neat little trick that you can use. You need to complete the Harpoon chain that starts in Valgarde and ends with the quest "Let's Go Surfing Now". This allows you to pull a lever by the big harpoon gun in Nifflevar. You stand on the arrow as it flies you back to Valgarde. Then you do whatever it is you need to do in Valgarde and go talk to the Dwarf by the plane. He puts you in his plane and bada-bing, you are back at the Explorer's Camp.

We bumped around Howling Fjord for an hour or so before Aoes had to log off.

Once he did, I headed up to Winterguard Keep and started questing up there. It was some of the most fun I've had in game in quite some time. At one point last night, I got so wrapped up in the storylines that I didn't care if I needed the undead for a quest or loot. I was on the top floor of Town Hall retrieving a scrying orb. Why is it that it seems like everyone who makes a scrying orb loses it somehow?

Anyway, as I was walking back I saw a villager cowering under the threatening gaze of a giest. I hopped over the railing, landing a Judgment of Command before my boots even hit the floor. At that point, I started attacking any undead that moved and saved a couple of more villagers.

The night ended with me about to hop into a new Steam Tank. This certainly brought back some memories for Honorshammer.

I really should write up the backstory I made for him sometime, but part of it was that he is a veteran of the 3rd War. He started out as part of a Mortar Team ('Mortar Combat!'), and eventually got moved up to driving a Steam Tank and Gyrocopter. This is part of the reason I've kept Engineering on him. It's fairly lackluster from a gameplay standpoint as Tinkers don't stack with enchants like other profession bonuses do, and the Goggles are replaced in the first Tier of raids rather than the 2nd this time.

I ran back to Winterguard, so I could log out at an Inn. As I made my way back, I got jumped by a Level 80 Horde Rogue. Apparently this emotionally well adjusted person had sped his way to Level 80 so he could gank the poor sub Level 75 'noobs' questing around Wintergaurd. Well Mr. Rogue was in for a bit of a surprise. You see, this Level 73 (DING!) noob happens to be sports the equivalent of a full set of Level 78 Blues, and despite our level differences, I figured it best to go down swinging.

I stoneformed, then hit him with Hammer of Justice and started into my standard DPS sequence (Judgment, Crusader Strike, Divine Storm). Then I used an Art of War instant cast Flash of Light. He had me down to around 35% when I bubbled. I got a lucky crit and he slipped below 25%. Hammer of Wrath lit up and next thing you know I'm standing over the body of a rather dead Rogue.

I didn't get long to savor my victory because the graveyard was literally 10 yards away. With all my cooldowns blown, he came back and got his revenge before I could even finish my hearty meal of Pungent Seal Whey and Honey Spice Lichen.

I almost felt bad that I had won. Every time I kill a Horde as Ret I'm sure I create another person convinced that Ret is still overpowered. Blizzard has shown a propensity to do collateral damage to Prot and Holy every time they try to fix Retribution.

I wonder what the reluctance is to move Paladins to a some sort of Forms/Stance/Presence system that seems to be in place for every other hybrid. This seems like one of the core issues in balancing Paladins. Our Healing spells are never locked out when we are in DPS mode like a Priest or Druid. Our DPS never takes a hit by going into Tanking mode like Warriors and Druids.

The way Blizzard has chosen to address this is by making the Paladin talent trees 'top heavy'. Protection's mitigation is split between a relatively low talent that Ret can reach and a relatively high talent that Ret can't reach. The core DPS strikes are put way up high in Retribution so no Protection or Holy Paladin can reach them. This also delays a Retribution Paladin leveling up getting them. What other class has to wait until Level 60 to get all its basic tools (Seal of Command, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm)? I guess that's going to depend on what your definition of 'basic tools' are. Shadow Priests have to wait all the way to 40 to get Shadowform which us what I would certainly call a 'basic tool' .

Gearing Your Tankadin From Head To Toe - Part 1: Introduction

Basically what I'm going to do is run down your gear slots from helm to boots and show you the upgrades along the way in Northrend. I'm going to follow 6 mythical Paladins and show where each one will start finding upgrades along the way.

Allow me to introduce our team:

Rook - Just dinged 70 a week or two before the expansion
Badger - Badge geared as much as possible.
Justin - Tier 4 level gear
Crystal - Tier 5 level gear
Sixpack - Tier 6 level gear
Sunny - Sunwell gear

Now there are many approaches to ranking gear, and you will find many different gear lists out there. Let me briefly explain my methodology before we dive into the actual rankings and wishlists.

The ranking was based on a series of formulas that looks at how the item budget contributes to Mitigation (Armor, Defense, Block Rating, Parry, Dodge, Block Value, Expertise, Str), Stamina, and Threat (Stamina, Str, Expertise, Hit, Spl Power, Block Value). Then I take both the Mitigation Score, Stamina Score, and the Threat score and combine them to the overall total score.

Enchants are ignored because it's assumed all pieces in the same slot get the same enchant. For gems, sometimes I go for the socket bonus and sometimes I don't. Where I don't, I go all stamina. When I do match sockets I use:

Red (Defenders Twilight Opal Parry 8 Sta 12)
Yellow (Enduring Forest Emerald Def 8 Sta 12)
Blue (Solid Sky Saffire Sta 24)
Meta (Austere Earthsiege Diamond 32 stam +2% armor)

This post will also serve as an index to the individual posts that cover each item slot.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Toured The Fjord

This post contains spoilers about quests in Howling Fjord. Proceed at your own risk.

Last night I got some solid playtime in and continued my questing through Howling Fjord. I’ve only done about a dozen quests in Borean Tundra on the Hunter so I don’t feel like I can really compare the two zones. Having said that, I will say I really enjoyed Howling Fjord. The quests were excellent and I never had too much trouble with Horde.

From the moment you step off the boat, you are thrown right into the action with the Vyrkyl attacking Valgarde.

The Vyrkyl story is well laid out as you progress from Nifflevar to Baleheim to Skorn and ultimately to Gjalerborn. One of the main story arcs is about the King of the Vyrkyl, King Ymiron. You first meet King Ymiron during one of your trips to the Spirit World, which gives you a glimpse of the Vyrkyl from over 10,000 years ago. Ymiron is ordering the deaths of the mutant and deformed offspring of the Vyrkyl. You later discover these deformed offspring are, in fact, the first humans!

I don’t think the story every quite explained how the Vyrkyl returned, though perhaps those answers lie in Utgarde Pinacle.

In Gjalerborn, you find out the Scourge has had a hand in reanimating the Vyrkyl, but to me that would make them Undead and most of the ones I fought were Humaniod. It turns out King Ymirmon is also being reanimated. Well, I had to put a stop to that. When I did, I got a visit from none other than the Lich King himself. It seems he had other plans for Ymirmon.

I’ll tell both those idiots, we shall meet again!

Also in Gjalerborn, you have to stop a Frost Wyrm from attacking Westguard Keep. The Wyrm is a Level 71 Elite, but despite that, I still managed to solo him fairly easily. Fighting a Frost Wyrm was very cool. Big Bear Butt had asked about stories of people being really cool or really being jerks. I had my first run in with the ‘jerk’ variety last night. I was doing a quest where you had to drop some explosives. A bat would come down and drop guano (the quest item), and then you had to fight the bat. Blizzard has a serious thing for guano, by the way.

Well, this Dwarf Hunter was also doing the quest. But he was feigning death as the Bat dropped. The bat would fly back up to the his spot or aggro to me. He was free to just pick up the quest item. That was pretty creative. What was not cool was he’d wait until the bat I summoned dropped the quest item, and then take mine while I was engaged with the Bat. He walked up to me and said “Your guano, lol”

Ninjaing quest items gets a big ole thumbs down in my book.

If you could attack your own faction, I probably would have. Instead, I just left the area to work on another quest.

I made of note of his name and his guild’s name (love that you can add comments to your friends list). Karma is a funny thing.

Meanwhile, I got a quest at the Steel Gate that asked me to ascend Frostpeak Mountain and deal with my inner turmoil. You climb all the way up the mountain and have to fight your dark inner self that is being drawn and pulled to serve the Lich King. I am a Knight of the Silver Hand. I will never turn to the Dark Side!

What was cool was after you complete the quest, you get a 3 minute Slow Fall buff. So I mounted up the Charger and leapt off the mountain. It looked like my Charger was galloping through the air. Now I want Blizzard to give us a way to allow our Chargers to fly. I think it would rock. I probably flew a third of the way across the zone. This leads you on a quest chain where you become a wolf for a while and help out one of the Worgs in the area. I had a lot of fun on that chain.

The quests at the Dwarf camp were excellent. I enjoyed building my golem suit and then using it to explore the Iron Dwarf cave and my first encounter with Loken. One thing that puzzled me was he talked about the work of the ‘brothers to the north’. Last night, I started to put it together. He was referring to the Iron Dwarves near Fort Wildervar who where creating the Runed Stone Giants! Those Stone Giants are being sent to neutralize the defense of the Pantheon at Ulduar! Who is this ‘father’ they want to release? Perhaps another C’thun type of guy?

I also had my first encounter with a Horde Death Knight last night, and it didn’t go well. I know so little about the class, and I have no experience fighting them in PVP. I was able to burst on him pretty good. I feared his Ghoul, and then he summoned a Gargoyle. I thought I had him dead when he suddenly went Immune, then the Death Knight turned into a Ghoul. By that point I had let myself get too low and he got me. I’m going to need to learn how to fight these guys. I’m not really all that much in PVP, but on a PVP server, you have to know how to fight to survive.
Edit: Apparently, the whole turn into a Ghoul thing is something they do AFTER they die. I shall now consider this encounter a Victory in my revisionist history.
By the end of the night I had ‘Toured the Fjord’ and explored Howling Fjord.I was about 90% towards 73. I really wanted to press on, but I had already gone about an hour longer than I should have. So tomorrow I should hit 73.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Only Constant Is Change

Blizzard has announced some changes to Paladins coming in the next minor patch, which will come before the patch which will release Ulduar.

We have no ETA on the patch yet.

You can see the original post in all it's blueness here:

1) Divine Protection no longer causes an attack penalty. Divine Shield's penalty was changed to 50% less damage done by the paladin.

2) Sacred Duty: This Protection talent no longer affects the attack penalty of Divine Shield and Divine Protection, but grants additional bonus Stamina.

3) Avenging Wrath, Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Hand of Protection have a shared, 30-second cooldown. The Forbearance effect is no longer triggered by Avenging Wrath

Let's take these first three together because really it's parts of Blizzard's response the issue created when they caused Avenging Wrath to once again cause Forbearance. I highlighted an issue this caused for Protection in my "Come On Blizzard, Think!" post.

The problem Blizzard was trying to fix was a Retribution ability (at Level 70!) to basically instakill an opponent while completely immune by activating Wings (Avenging Wrath) while under the effect of Divine Shield aka The Bubble.

The Bubble adds an attack speed penalty so a 3.5 swing weapon becomes a 7.0 speed weapon. This balanced the Bubble until Ret got not 1, but 2 different instant strikes which would not be subject to the swing speed penalty. The original purpose of the swing penalty to reduce DPS under the Bubble was lost. Now when you Bubble, your DPS is reduced by 50%, but your swing timer is unaffected. The original balance of the Bubble will be restored. To me the Bubble was always intended as defensive tool.

Since they removed the attack speed penalty, the part of the Protection Talent Sacred Duty to remove the penalty no longer serves any function. To be honest, most Protection Paladins took Sacred Duty for the Stamina bonus. To use your Bubble while tanking meant the Boss would ignore you and go attack someone else. Usually, this was a Bad Thing.

However, the talent is now 'under budget'. So to compensate Blizzard will be increasing the stamina it gives by an unknown amount. Any additional amount is good and should be considered a buff. This will further narrow the base health deficit to Warriors and change the 'catch-up' point where Paladin's superior Stamina scaling allows them to surpass the Hit Point pool of a Warrior.

4) Judgement of Wisdom now returns a percentage of base mana instead of a percentage of max mana.

This is a nice buff for low mana casters like Ret and Prot Paladins as well as Enhancement Shamans. High mana pool casters will likely see far larger benefits from Replenishment than Judgement of Wisdom.

5) All mana drain effects now return a percentage of max enemy mana (making mana drains less punishing to paladins and other characters without large mana pools.)

As the parenthetical text indicates, this should make Mana drains (a bane to all PVP Paladins) less punishing. The new Arena season won't start until mid-December so we will have to wait and see on the results of this change. Though at first glance it certainly looks like a PVP buff.

6) Judgements of the Pure: This Holy talent now increases the damage done by Seals and Judgements.

Blizzard has stated they were concerned about Holy Paladin DPS for soloing and leveling. All Paladins were hurt by the nerfs to Seals and Judgements aimed at Retribution, but probably no one spec was hurt more than Holy. This talent essentially undoes the nerf for Holy, but not for Protection. Blizzard must continue to monitor all Tanks and their ability to generate TPS. In addition, if Blizzard is to believed that Tank DPS will matter, they must continue to monitor Tank DPS. Right now, Paladins have lower Tank DPS thanks to the large multiplier on Righteous Fury. Give us equal DPS and our TPS is OP. Make us do equal TPS, as is the situation is now, and our DPS is a little low. The question, which frankly we lack a large enough sample size of data to answer, is how much lower and is it so much lower as to make Protection Paladins non-starters for Tanking roles.

7) All paladins receive a single-target taunt (name TBD) as a base ability.

He really did save the best for last. A real single target taunt has been at the top of Paladin's wish list since near the end of Beta. For Four Horseman, and Gothik it would be nearly required (though Gothik was fixed.) This will make two Paladins tanks working together much easier, and it will also give us a nice fallback in the case that Righteous Defense resists.

This looks initially to be a great minor Patch for Paladins, but the ETA is MIA.

Ding 72!

Use Them Trinkets!

Big Bear Butt has a great post today about creating a macro to fire off your DPS trinkets everytime they are off cooldown. It goes step by step on creating the macro and even if you've never even opened up the macro panel before, I think it would be very easy to follow. Bear Bear writes in a very approachable manner and has a great sense of humor to boot.

If, like your humble author, you are leveling as a DPS spec (say Retribution) that you haven't played much, these little nuances of playing the spec are something you may not have picked up on yet (I know I hadn't).

Level 72

I'm still questing in Howling Fjord, and hit level 72 over the weekend. Right now Honors is based out of Fort Wildervar. I've been pursuing a chain that leads to a battle against Runed Stone Giants and Iron Dwarves. Part of Honorshammer character's background is something of a vendetta against the Dark Iron dwarves and he doesn't see much difference between the Dark Irons and these Drawves he's met in Northrend.

At one point in the chain, you are tasked with bringing down 4 of the Runed Stone Giants. Now I mention that here because the Runed Stone Giants are Level 70 Elites. At first, I wasn't sure if I could take a level 70 Elite by myself. Sure, if I was still Protection spec, I wouldn't have blinked an eye, but I'm a bit squishier as Ret.

The main danger they pose is from an ability called Dark Rune, which is a stacking DoT and after a couple of applications can really start to hurt. By using Divine Shield, Hammer of Justice and Cleanse, I was able to keep the DoT under control and solo the giants. If you are a class with a range attack, I advise you keep these guys at range and kill them quickly.

I received my first 'breadcrumb' quest for Dragonblight and I'm excited to be going there tonight. I've heard great things about the zone.

Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom

Whilst I was out questing, I received an invite from a buddy of mine to go to Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom. They had already cleared out the first two bosses and were heading towards the back end. After I made sure he was looking for Deeps and not a tank, I accepted.

Ahn'kahet is simply beautiful. From the architecture to the models, everything looks and feels right. It was amazing.

I was the lowest guy in the group at 72. We had a 74 Warrior from a guild I had never heard of tanking. Then we had a 73 Hunter, a 74 Druid and my buddies 74 Shaman.

We only had one wipe, which I caused by standing too close to an approaching patrol and pulling them. I owned up to the mistake even though no one had blamed me, and everyone seemed to still be in good spirits.

We took down the 3rd boss who would randomly float into the air and then activate an add to come attack us. It felt a little bit like the final fight in Uldaman.

He dropped a Battlechest of the Twilight Chill. It's actually pretty close in stats with my Tier 6 chest. But the differences are easily made up by the 3 sockets on the T6 chest. I don't anticipate replacing my Tier 6 chest until I can purchase a Breastplate of the Solemn Council from the Wyrmcrest Accord at Revered. In addition there are two upgrades in Heroics, Zigguarat Imprinted Chestguard from Heroic Drak'tharon Keep and Sun-Emblazoned Chestplate from Heroic Halls of Stone. In my mind, part of being a responsible player is knowing what is and what isn't an upgrade so you know what loot you need before it's in the loot window.

(Is there any interest in my publishing my 'loot list' showing what upgrades I'm after and where they are?)

Even if the Battlechest had been an upgrade, I would have felt like I needed to pass for the Warrior who was tanking for this group.

I mean I got invited to a run halfway through and you could tell this wasn't the first time this particular Warrior had run this instance. He may have even been running specifically for that chest. He didn't know me from Adam. He didn't know I had been a tank, or that I was going Protection when I hit 75. I was just a random Ret Paladin that the Resto Shaman in the group happened to know.

We moved on to the last boss. He was a lot of fun. He spawns a copy of each of your team mates. Like the Inner Demons in Leotheras encounter, you are the only one who can initially kill your team mates. I repented the Hunter, and took down the Warrior. Then I moved over and smackdown the Druid. I used Hammer of Justice to stop the Shaman from healing. Once they were dealt with, I went to the Hunter who was kind enough to melee me.

Once your adds are down, you are able to see and kill any adds that your party members are still engaged with. DPSers need to burn through their adds quickly so they can go help the healers and to a less extent the tanks.

It was a very fun mechanic and I enjoyed the fight very much.


I also received my first couple of Stone Keeper's Shards which I can use to purchase some rare Jewelcrafting patterns.

So far I haven't really done anything about leveling my Jewelcrafting or Engineering. I need to wait until I have time to run my Hunter around and mine some ore. I've been concentrating almost exclusively on leveling Honorshammer. I feel like I'm falling behind already.

I'll try to take some screenshots tonight. I've been really slack about taking screenshots. I just get so wrapped up in playing that I forget.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome Home You

When I left home to be who I am
Some people said "No Way"
But I laid it all down, gave everything
In my head rang the words that my father said

You're never far
I will be where you are
and when you come to me
I will open my arms

Welcome Home, you
I know you by name
How do you do?
I shine because of you today
So come and sit down
Tell me how you are
I know son, it's good just to see your face.

Those are lyrics to a song call "Welcome Home" by Brian Littrell, and my way of saying I've finally gotten off the fence and decided to return to my old guild of Mal Katai.

In the end, I decided that I just couldn't make the commitment and emotional investment I'd need to make to run a guild. It was an idea that was starting to sound better when I wasn't in game than when I was. One thing I noticed is how many guilds were fun by husband/wife teams. I'm not sure why that is. My wife does not play WoW, so I'd be flying solo in that regard.

I still believe there is a niche for a progressive 10 man guild, and that several guilds will pop up to fill that niche.

I received a very warm welcome upon my return, and I was humbled by all the nice comments thrown my way.

We never know what the future holds for us personally or for our guilds. Guilds, like people, change and evolve over time. But whatever happens, I can go forward knowing that I'll be journeying alongside people whose company I enjoy, and for whatever crazy reason, seem to enjoy my company as well.

For now, I can concentrate on leveling up Honorshammer and trying to make him as good of a Paladin tank as I can. I'll try to follow some advice my Mom gave me years ago and take things 'one day at a time'.

I'd like to say a 'Thank You' to the officers of Mal Katai for allowing me to return to your ranks.

With any luck, this will be the last 'Guild' post I have make for a long, long time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Response

I was wondering what I would blog about today since I didn’t do hardly anything in game last night. Luckily, a comment to one of my other posts filled the need quite nicely.

I started Comment Moderation when people started using my comments to advertise websites. As recently as this week, I’ve had to reject comments that were nothing more than an add for a Power Leveling service.

In the year plus I’ve run the blog there has only been one comment that I haven’t published, and even in that case I did publish it, but then deleted it.

I say all that to preface this post. I have chosen to not publish a comment I received as a comment. Rather, I’m going to reprint the comment in this post so that I may respond. I would have preferred to address this with the writer of the comment privately, however that wasn’t possible. This comment was left by Anonymous. I understand some people don’t want to be bothered with having to register for a site to comment, but you could always sign your post at the end as Fredykin does.

So with the preface out of the way, let’s move into the comment itself.

“You left Heroes when YOUR gear progression stopped.
You left Mal Katai when YOUR gear progression stopped.
You left Dominion when YOUR gear progression stopped.”

This is absolutely and patently untrue. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me or even making comments that are critical of me. However, these statements are not truthful. You might want to talk to the leaders of Heroes (Ferth) and Mal Katai (Dora/Brindall/Raistilan)because I’m sure they will tell you these comments are untrue.

I left Heroes still needing many upgrades out of Karazhan. In fact, we had just gotten Prince into single digits on my last run with them. The following week a kill was likely and would have seen our first Tier 4 helm.

My gear progression had not stopped.

With Mal Katai, the very last raid I did with them saw a progression kill on Leotheras and our first Tier 5 gloves. Knowing I was leaving, I passed on them, despite having the most DKP at the time. I also still did not have my T5 shoulders from Void Reaver despite Mal Katai killing him a couple of times.

My gear progression had not stopped.

My last raid with Dominion was our first go at Brutallus, which Dominion would get a kill on the next raid. I didn’t have a single drop out of Sunwell and still needed a couple of drops out of Black Temple.

My gear progression had not stopped.

I'm sure that in each case there were alot of little things that moved you toward the decisions that you made in leaving that you never blogged about.

This is absolutely true. In an attempt to not criticize my raid and guild leaders anymore than I had already done, I didn’t publicly blog about the other ‘little things’ that moved me to change guilds. I can’t tell you how many posts I wrote complaining about those ‘little things’ that upon further reflection I chose not to publish.

I can assure you those ‘little things’ played a far larger role than gear.

However, from this reader's perspective you are pretty much all about getting loot.

Then I have done a poor job of communicating what I’m all about, and for that I apologize.

Perhaps I’ve made too many ‘I got loot’ posts. But I got comments that readers actually enjoyed hearing about a new piece of loot I’d receive so I included them. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

I think anyone who has known me for very long knows I’m a lore fan (I’m also a Lore fan, but that’s not really germane at the moment). Lore is the driving force for me in the endgame, not loot, but they are connected.

Loot is what is needed to turn the page to get to the next chapter of the story, to continue exploring the lore. At first, it was just raiding. In order to continue to pursue the story lines and lore of the Burning Crusade you had to transition from quests to 5 mans to Raids. Then loot was needed to transition from one tier of raids to the next.

Who will you blame when you are the driving force bringing the loot into your guild?

I’m really not sure what this question means. I’ve designed a loot system for my prospective guild, which I’ll follow if I decide to go that route.

AoS is a well established server at this point. Which means that if you recruit from established guilds, the people coming into your guild are looking to step up from where they are... that means progression kills.

It is not my plan to recruit out of established guilds. I’ll be looking for ‘free agents’. I’m sure if my guild provides what people are looking for, people from established guilds will contact me.

You want progression kills, you need a raid leader who is online an hour before raid start time and then online a half hour after raid time to deal with all the BS that came up during the raid. How many nights a week can you commit to? Three? that's not very much to the really hardcore raiders... but its way too much for the casual raiders.

I believe there are many quality players who are looking for just that: a progressive guild with a limited time commitment.

I really don't know what might be best for you.

I don’t either. I wish I did, it would make making a decision so much easier.

Judging by the amount of critical thoughts you have for your past guilds, you would be better off leading your own guild. And by the same token, depending on your expectations of what your guild will be about... all your critical thoughts may very well doom you to failure.

I’ve never been truly happy with the way any of my former guilds were run, and I’ve made it known on my blog. There is a level of commitment that I need to make to the 14 to 20 brave souls who would choose to ‘follow old Obi-Wan on some damn idealistic crusade’.

I can’t go forward until I’m confident in my own mind that I will be willing to see this thing all the way through, to build and rebuild the guild more than once if necessary. This is why I’ve taken the better part of a week to try to come to a decision on this move.

I may decide I'm not willing to make the commitment of time, energy and emotion necessary to run a guild, but I may very well decide that I am.

I just need to get off the fence and make a decision.

Your CAPtains: Crit, Block, Hit and Expertise

10-7-2009: I wrote the original article almost a year ago, and it was in sore need of an update. I've now edited this post to bring it up to date.

Uncrittable Cap

The first and most important cap you want to reach in your gear is being uncrittable, which comes from Defense. At level 80 you need 540 Defense which equals out to about 689 Defense Rating. To quote Neo, "Whoah". It's a metric ton of defense needed. It is something you will need to actively work towards in your gear, but it is completely attainable with crafted items and rep rewards.

Edit 11/21: Petrus of Gorgonnash has put together a tidy list of gear that will get you to the Crit cap without relying on a single dungeon drop. You can see his list here: Well done, sir!

Block Cap

After you are Uncrittable, you should start working towards the The Block Cap. This may be a new concept for Paladin tanks, but it really isn't. The Block Cap is what used to be known as Uncrushable, i.e. a combined Miss, Parry, Dodge, and Block of 102.4%. Once you reach that point, any additional Block Rating falls off the table. You are 'capped' on the amount of Block you can have. It should be noted that since Holy Shield was changed to have its duration be longer than it's cooldown, it is now safe to assume 100% uptime on Holy Shield when calculating your Block Cap. Holy Shield is 30% chance to block.

Being at the Block Cap is very helpful because it means that every unavoided attack from the Boss will be a Block. Paladins are the only class now that can stay Block Capped 100% of the time. Each Block takes off damage equal to your Block Value. If the Boss hits for 20,000 and you have 2000 Block Value (not unreasonable), you effectively shave off 10% of the damage each and every hit. That can add up to a huge amount of damage reduction over the course of the fight.

It also provides Paladins with a predictable damage intake, and makes life easier for your healers.

The Block Cap is especially effective for tanking adds on Anub’arak.

So you can't be Crit, and every incoming attack is a Block at the worse case, what's next?

Hit Cap

Paladins are much like Warriors and we want Hit on our tanking gear. Math has shown that Hit is either the 2nd or 3rd best stat to increase threat depending on how much Strength you have.

Hit is what is checked to see if your Taunt resists. While your melee swings need 8% hit to connect, taunts are checked against spell hit, and require 17%. There is basically no reasonable set of gear that will get you to 17%, sorry.

The Glyph of Righteous Defense should help to eliminate most HoR and RD resists, and I suggest you take it. Paladins do have two taunts, Hand of Reckoning and Righteous Defense. The chance that both miss is small, however, it can still happen.

You need 8% to hit to be Hit capped. That translates to 263 Hit rating at level 80. If you can wrangle one of our Draenai friends into your group, you will need only 7% hit, or 230 rating.

You can't miss, but the boss can still Dodge and Parry you.

Enter Expertise.

Expertise Cap

Expertise is what stops the Boss from Dodging and Parrying. At 0 expertise, the boss has a 6.5% chance of dodging you, and a 14% chance to parry you.

Each point of expertise reduces the chance the boss will dodge you by 0.25% as well as the chance he'll parry you by 0.25%. Each point of expertise after 26 is half as effective as it was below 26, because the boss already has a 0% chance to dodge. Thus, expertise gets weaker above the dodge soft cap. It's entirely useless above the parry cap of 56, but this is rarely achieved in practice anyway.

Expertise affect Hammer of the Righteous and is in fact the only way to get rid of the occasional ‘Deflect’ message, which most theorycrafters seem to think is a parry of a ranged attack.

Expertise has also shown to be an excellent stat for reducing damage. Credit goes to Math genius Theck on Maintankadin. You can read the proof in this thread

Theck sayeth:

From the numbers in the latest stat analysis, expertise is 69% the threat of STR below the dodge cap (19.83/28.81), 34% above the dodge cap but below the parry cap (half of it's value below dodge cap), and 0% above the parry cap.

The avoidance value of expertise varies a lot, with multiple factors (swing speed, boss swing speed, avoidance, etc). I'm not sure whether I'd feel comfortable giving values quite as specific as you have. It might be fairer to say that it's about 40-70% as effective as dodge rating, and 2-3x more effective at reducing spikes, provided the boss has parry-haste enabled.

You can get 6 expertise from talents and 10 from the Glyph of Seal of Vengeance (skill not rating mind you). 26 Expertise is considered the Dodge cap. At 26 Expertise, the Boss can no longer Dodge your attacks. You need 56 Expertise to hit the Parry cap where the Boss can no longer Parry you.

Humans and Dwarves can get another 3 to 5 points depending on the weapon they are using. Humans get 3 Expertise with Maces and Swords. Dwarves get 5 Expertise with Maces.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walrus Men and Pirates

I had a lot of fun last night questing in Howling Fjord.

I headed over to the goblin who was in a dingy with a pirate flag. I immediately thought of the last scene in Pirates of the Caribean: Battle At World's End. In this scene Jack Sparrow has scene his beloved Pearl being stolen by Barbosa. Jack gets into a dingy and raises the pirate flag and starts singing 'Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life For Me'.

I took a boat ride from the Goblin's first mate over to the Pirate Island. There a whole string of quests opened up.

I thought the plane the Dwarves used to send me from Valgarde to Explorer's Point was cool. It ain't got nothing on the plane the Pirates use to send you over to the shipwreck to find one of the cursed Vrykyl artifacts they stole.

There was one quest where you had to kill this named Killer Whale. I found him but he was swimming around pretty fast. I would have given my left arm for some sort of ranged attack or distance closer (like Charge) so I could get into melee range of him. I just knew that I was chasing him down, someone else with the quest would come along and start fighting him. Eventually, I figured out his route and I was able to cut him off.

Then I got a quest to be a gunner on a ghost ship and take out some giant walking Tree guy. That was pretty cool.

The pirate chain ends with a quest to kill their deranged captain. Have you have noticed that a lot of people in World of Warcraft go all loopy and need to be killed? Anyway, this guy is a 72 Elite. I bet I could take him as Protection, but I wasn't willing to try it as Retribution.

Then towards the end of my playing time last night I ran into some Horde trouble. Up to this point, I had not had any Horde difficulty. I had been questing side by side with Horde most of my time in Northrend and riding past each other on the roads. It had only been at the Azjol'Nerub meeting stone that I had had any trouble at all.

I was coming back from the Walrus men village and as the lift came in Howling Fjord I see two Horde Druids fighting an Alliance Hunter. The Hunter died before I could unsheath my Axe. I wasn't sure if the Hunter had started something, so I waited a moment to see what the Druids would. Entangling Roots around my legs was my answer.

A quicky BoFreedomed myself and jumped the one in Caster form. I was in full PVE gear, but I burst him down pretty quickly. The other one was in Cat, so he stealthed.

I waited a moment and somehow saw him in stealth, so I opened up on him. All my cooldowns were back up from the other guy so I burst him down before he could even go to Bear.

It was only after they were both dead that I noticed the lovely Night Elf Priest who had been healing me.

The hunter grumbled at me, but I wasn't too worried about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guild Indecision

Over the weekend, I started thinking about what I wanted to do as far as a Guild. The main villain of Burning Crusade was Illidan the Betrayer, although at times I felt like that title could have been my own.

I’ve basically got it narrowed down to two choices. Those are either going back to a guild I was formerly with, or starting my own guild.

I’ve been unable to decide on which of those two choices I want to pursue despite giving myself several deadlines. As each deadline approached, I would graciously gave myself an extension.

I realize that no one other than me can make this decision, but I’m going to blog about it.

I spoke briefly with the Guild Master of one of my old guilds and there would be no problem with my returning to them. In fact, a couple of the members of that guild have expressed their hope that I will rejoin their ranks. Despite my own doubts (and the doubts of others) they did manage to make significant progress in Tier 6 content finishing Burning Crusade 3/5 and 8/9. These are good players.

They are also good people, and there are wonderful people in that guild who seem to genuinely like me. (Crazy thought, I know).

My reluctance to accept their offer stems from my desire to make this guild move my last one. I know many of the policies that frustrated me in my first go around with this guild would still be in place so I would have to go in knowing that. I don’t want to find myself bailing on them as soon as raids get ‘hard’ again (Tier 8 maybe).

I’m also concerned the guild will get caught in a 10 man / 25 man tug of war. What I mean is that if we can clear T8 10 man, will we want to do T8 10 man or T7 25 man.

The other option I’ve given serious consideration to is starting my own guild which would focus on 10 man Raids. I’ve written a charter, and gotten a website.

One of my old GMs pointed out to me that I’ve never truly been happy with the way any of the guilds I’ve been in have been run, and as long time readers will attest from these pages, for the most part that’s true.

Totally made up stat: 80% of groups and guilds were started by their Main Tank, who after much deliberation… with… himself …. gave … himself … the job.

I guess I have this utopian vision in my head of creating this guild where it has the closeness and friendship that I felt in Mal Katai and Heroes, and is full of people who take a dedicated approach to raiding and clears content. We go all the way from Utgarde Keep (first 5 man in Wrath) all the way to Arthas together.

My reluctance to go forward stems from a couple of issues.

First of all, it is no small task to get a new guild off the ground. It’s going to be a ton of work, and I need to be ready to commit to that.

I would also need to add some additional expenses to my WoW playing like purchasing a Vent server. It’s not a huge deal, but in a tight economy it is a consideration.

Most of the people I know on the server are in other guilds, so I would be starting with new people, most of which I wouldn’t know. Recruiting has never been a strong suit for me, so I would need to find someone to help in that area.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been sure I was going one way, but an hour later I was sure I would go the other.

But it’s time to make a decision. I just have no clue what that decision will be.

(If you'd rather give your advice/opinion privately rather than in comments, you can email me. My email is my characters name at gmail dot com).

Ding 71!

Honorshammer is now level 71 and still questing in Howling Fjord. My playtime started with me putting on the robot suit for the Dwarves at the Explorer’s Outpost and ended up on an island full of Walrus people.

I was sent to investigate a cave at Baelgun’s Excavation site. Inside there was a very Titanish looking guy talking about Uldar (a future raid zone in the Storm Peaks). What was strange was that this guy was talking about undoing the work of the Pantheon. The Pantheon is the Titan High Council, and this guy looked like a Titan. Why would one Titan want to undo the work of the Titan High Council?

I love this kind of stuff.

I was a little confused by the first quest that the Walrus man gave me. He sent me to investigate Shield Hill. When I got there it was crawling with Undead. I picked up some clues from some ancient Vrykyl. I go back to him and he sends to me to his village but starts talking about pirates. Did I miss something?

I'm supposed to go talk to a Goblin so maybe things will clear up when I talk to him.

I am starting to feel a little behind the curve. I just hit 71 last night and most people I know are already up to 73. Of course, then I remember that there are people who are waiting for Wrath to appear under their Christmas tree. I think I’ll be okay.

I’ll keep plugging away at it tonight and hopefully find a group to run The Nexus with as a Tank or DPS.

Edit: I've noticed a palatable pressure to level quickly this Expansion, that I didn't notice in Burning Crusade despite being in the initial leveling curve both times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

First Instance Runs

So far I’ve run two instances, Utgarde Keep and Azjol’Nerub. Both were fairly easy and quick. I was a little surprised at how easily and quickly we completed Azjol’Nerub since most of those mobs were level 72-74, and my party was mostly still 70. The only one over 70 was a Hunter. It literally took us 30 minutes start to finish.

This instance is not for anyone with arachnophobia. The whole instance looks like you are transversing a giant spider web and the mobs are all spiders and spider variants. The second boss is probably the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in World of Warcraft.

The final boss in Azjol’Nerub was none other than Anub'arak. He was a Hero Unit from Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, and accompanied Arthas on his long march through Azjob’Nerub to the Frozen Throne for his confrontation with Illidan.

Anub’arak dropped a Signet of Arachnathid Command. I greed rolled for it. The ring is lacking in Defense which it seems like I’ll need a ton of to stay uncrittable as I level. I would definitely look to pick this up if your Tanking ring is from SSC or Kara. I would rate the Hyjal Ring, the ZA ring, and the 60 Badge ring a little better.

Utgarde Keep was pretty cool and the instance really connects well with the quests from Valgarde in Howling Fjord. It was the only instance we wiped in. Our tank (Warrior) failed to move out of a Dark Smash, and got…well… smashed. Utgarde is filled with mostly melee. All the casters seemed to be female Vrykyl while the males were melee. Kill the casters first. Our tank could handle entire packs hitting him at once and this was with an Elemental Shaman as our only healer.

I made a macro to help with healing on the boss. I hit it whenever I get an Art of War proc.

/tar [tanks name]
/cast Flash of Light

I think it helped a bit on that final boss.

I asked to see my DPS after the first boss in Azjol’Nerub. I wasn’t interested in ‘showing off’ to other DPS. My main interest was just to see if I was carrying my own weight. I was clocking about 1300dps and I was in neighborhood of the other DPS. So I felt like I was pulling my own weight and didn’t ask to see DPS again.

Replacing Epics

I’ve already replaced my first epic. I had Pendant of the Perilous from Serpentshrine Cavern, but replaced it with Razor-Blade Pendant from the quest Disarmament(Alliance) (Horde version) which requires a run through Utgarde Keep. The quest also rewards a very nice tanking neck called the Woven Steel Necklace. This is clearly an upgrade to either the Barbed Choker of Discipline or the Frayed Tether of the Drowned. Depending on how much you like expertise, I would even consider this if you have the Collar of the Pit Lord from Brutallus.

My Shield Arm is Aching
Both instance runs I was Retribution. I speced Ret right after I installed for leveling purposes. It’s been a blast, and I tear through most mobs pretty easily. If I can get a couple of procs and crits, I can 3 shot a mob. I’ve never been able to do that, and the feeling is quite exhilarating.

But I miss being Prot, and I especially miss tanking. It’s not that I’ve run with bad tanks, in fact, both of the tanks I’ve run with so far were very good. No, the problem is I just miss tanking. I just don’t want to have to respec every time I go to run an instance. So I’m going to give Prot leveling a try.

My original plan had been to wait until 75 to spec Protection full time, but we are going to make some adjustments. I really wish Dual Specs were in.

Initial Impressions

Server Stability

First of all, let me give some major kudos to Blizzard. The servers were up when I logged in, and they were silky smooth with no lag, or ques. I was quite impressed. I played off and on Thursday through Saturday and never once got a ‘World Server Is Down’ or ‘Server Restart in 15:00’. The game was imminently playable.

Speed Leveling

I’ve already seen a Level 77 on my server, and others have reported there already being a couple of level 80s.

Some people view 70-80 as a barrier, an inconvenient interruption to be rushed through so they can get back to raiding. I see 70-80 as its own journey. I want to raid again, but I don’t see the point of rushing the leveling process to get there.

We all should play a game we enjoy, but at times it doesn’t seem like we are playing the same game.

It seems every time a question is asked about a quest in General chat the answer that comes back is for the person asking the question to get the mod QuestHelper. I love QuestHelper, it’s a great mod, but right now I have it turned off. I want to explore, to get lost a time or two, to accidently wander into a Horde town.

I hope no one reads this and gets the impression that I’m saying my way of doing things is right and rushing is wrong, because that’s not how I feel. I am stating that for me, it’s more fun to take it slow, and explore and do things. You play in whatever way is most fun for you.

Fjord versus Tundra

It seems like my theory about the starting zones was accurate. I took Honors to Howling Fjord, while I took my Hunter to Borean Tundra.

Howling Fjord is less populated than Borean Tundra. In the Tundra, I was fighting for quest mobs, and the entire area was overcrowded. The chat in Borean Tundra also has an almost ‘Barrens’ or ‘Trade Chat’ quality to it. I haven’t noticed that in the Fjord. People are questing and grouping in Fjord, but for the most part it feels like any other zone you quest in as far as population. I’ve never had any trouble getting quests done.

I really like the way the game offers you transportation to outlying areas. When I had to go to a Dwarf camp north east of Valgarde, the Dwarf quest giver offered me a ride in his plane, and it dropped me right down at the camp where I could begin questing.

The lore quests in Fjord have been outstanding. I especially like the quests where you get to go back in time and see the Vrykyl as they develop. My favorite quest so far has to be the quest in the Catacombs where you are tasked with recovering an Ancient Artifact.

Another quest has you take control of a huge harpoon gun and shoot down dragon riders out of the sky. That was cool. Later you fire yourself back to Valgarde to turn in a quest.

The quests have been varied and very fun.

In both zones, whoever made the quest rewards had a serious liking for Haste. It’s everywhere.

PVP Server

PVP hasn’t been too bad. In fact I haven’t engaged in any undesired PVP except around the summoning stones. At least a dozen times, I rode past a Horde on a road from here to there and neither of us so much as dismounted.

My friends leveling Death Knights in Hellfire have reported roaming bands of Horde killing every DK in sight (but leaving the other classes alone). One story I heard was a Druid alt leveling with a DK friend. The Horde ganked the DK but left the Druid untouched.


I’m really regretting being double production right now. All the crafting materials are rare and when they do show up on the Auction House it’s at ridiculous prices. A stack of Cobalt Bars was going for 200g. There are no uncut gems on the AH, just cut ones. I haven’t even been able to finish the initial Jewelcrafting quests.

In fact, that is a big reason why the Hunter has gotten as much play time as he has. Since he can mine and skin, I’ve been running him around looking for nodes and skinning animals (but to D.H.E.T.A’s chagrin). Of course he’s not a leatherworker so I can’t combine the scraps into leather. Every quest reward is a major upgrade for him.

Hunter Alt

I’ve tried a couple of different pets since the patch, but my favorite so far has got to be my Rhino, Rocksteady. I absolutely love all the tricks he can do like Intervene and Last Stand. And let’s face it, what could be cooler than a Big Red Rhino.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goodbye Dominion

"Your destiny lies upon a different path from mine" - Obi-Wan Kenobi

After much debate, I have decided the time has come for me to leave Dominion. I hereby announce my resignation from the guild effective immediately.

I guess you could say this is a natural consequence of my earlier decision to not run 25 man Raids with them, but as I began to evaluate the options and paths available to me, I saw that each and every one of them led to me being in a different guild.

What guild that ends up being is something that I'll have to work out in due time. I don't feel it's right for me to go out and start discussing a future with another guild while I still wear the Dominion tag.

Dominion is focused on the raid scene and I’m sure they will be knocking out Alliance side first kills left and right. It would be great to see them beat the top Horde guild, Cynosure, to a server first or two.

Again, I'd like to thank all the members and officers of Dominion. I truly appreciate all you did for me during my time with Dominion.

I’d also like to say a special thank you to Agamegnome for recommending to Dominion when their Paladin tank decided to leave the game. I've been places I never thought I'd be and seen things I never though I'd see.

It’s been a fantastic ride.

I'm still on the server so don't hesitate to drop me a tell or send me group invites.

A Message

The assembly of Knights marched through Stormwind on their mighty chargers. The beasts measured gait belying the power each held. The Knights assembled in a straight line near the massive lion statue that dominated the Stormwind Harbor.

Theodurn Bronzebeard looked up and down the line of Paladins that stood with him. On his right was Baelor, his massive two handed mace strapped across his back. On his left was Psiven, a fellow dwarf and one who had been a great instructor of the Knights. As Theodurn looked up and down the line, more names came to lips: Mortehl, Modus, Fridmarr, Invisusira, Sabindeus, Garath, Jensaarai, Guillex, Zaephod. All these men (and fellow Dwarves) he had served with and learned from during the Outland Campaign.

A dark shadow loomed over the Harbor. The biggest Frost Wyrm Theodurn had ever seen was leading a group of Abominations into Stormwind itself.

Baelor leaned over to his friend Theodurn, but addressed him by his nickname

"You ready, Honors?"

"Aye!", Theodurn replied.

Fridmarr, at the center of the column raised his blade, Unwavering Will, and lead the Knights into battle.

The assembled Paladins charged into the Undead ranks and exploded into a shower of Light energies.

Soon the battle was ended. The undead lay in heaps and the Frost Wyrm had crashed into the Harbor.

All that remained was the shadowy visage of the Herald of the Lich King.

Before the Herald faded back into the great shadow from whence he came, he was addressed by the Knights.

Fridmarr would speak for them.

"You take this message back to your master, Herald.

Your time has come, Arthas. There's a storm coming, our storm, a Divine storm, and when it comes it will shake the universe.

Lich King! We come for you! We come for you!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honorshammer Picture Gallery

As I prepard to headoff to Northrend, I thought I'd take a look back at how Honors has progressed over his playing time.

Level 1 Honorshammer. If I only knew then what I know now.

Honors as he is getting ready to step through the Dark Portal at level 60. 'Blue' PVP Shoulders, The Immovable Object, Soulforge Bracers, Lightforge Chest, Gloves, and Belt, Helm of the Holy Avenger, PeaceKeeper Boots, Serathil

One of my very first nights in Kara. Crystalforged Sword, Aegis of the Sunbird, Timewarden's Leggings, Felsteel Helm and Gloves, Boots from that awful escort quest at the end of Mana Tombs, and Warchief's Mantle.Hey I finally got some Righteous Armor (Dungeon Set 3)! By the way, Laj, I STILL hate you.

Starting to get some Kara gear, Eternium Greathelm, Boots of Elusion, and Maiden's Guantlets.

I got Moroes Belt and I finally finish the grind for my Season 2 Gavel.
Tier 4 Shoulders!Engineering grind done. Man would I wear those goggles for a long time. Honors almost doesn't look right without them.Starting to collect Badge gear. Amani Punisher, Shield of Impenetrable Darkness and Sabatons of the Righteous Defender. I STILL have those dang boots.Hydross wouldn't know what hit him. Resistance gear is not the best looking stuff going.ALD! ALD! ALD! ALD! Tanks and their shields, what can I say. Tier 5 Shoulders, Tier 6 Glvoes, Inscribed Legplates of the Aldor, Hammer of Judgement. Same dang Boots.Tier 6 hat. Same dang Boots.Kaz'Rogal's Hardened Heart, Tier 6 shoulders. Same dang Boots.My Fire Set for Flame tanking

Full Tier 6 (sans Sunwell), switched to Suneater

Retribution 'leveling' gear for Wrath.

Meet The Hammer

In the very unlikely event any of my blog readers live in the Greater Charleston, SC metro area and would like to meet up tonight at the Midnight opening for Wrath of the Lich King, here's my plans for the tonight.

There are 3 Gamestops doing midnight openings in Charleston. I'll be at the Gamestop on Rivers Ave in the Target shopping center.

I'll be the the geeky looking guy in the MainTankadin T-Shirt.
All my wonderful plans for getting Wrath prep done last night were dashed by server issues. Altar of Storms never came up.

I've never understood the people who get really emotional about server down time. You've read the forum posts, too I'm sure. Some of those posts just crack me up. Sure I'm paying for the time, and I wasn't able to access the service. I'm out about 50 cents.
I ended up playing some older games I have and watching TV.

Apparently ALL the servers are STILL down. This is not a good sign with the Expansion less than 15 hours away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Last night was kind of a quick night for me in game. I was hoping to knock out a couple of Dailies while my wife watched her “Dancing With the Stars” show, then I could grab the TV and watch a little “Monday Night Football”, (/cue theme music) and what a great game it turned out to be!

But in my short time online, I realized that I had not done a good job communicating with my Raid Leader. The misunderstanding stemmed from my decision in regards to raiding 25 mans with Dominion.

I didn’t do a good job of communicating that my decisions applied to both current Level 70 raids, as well Level 80 raids. My Raid Leader had understood it to apply only to Level 80 raids. So she was most surprised, and a bit disappointed, when I turned down the invitation to raid with them last night. One of our Druids had recently decided to stop raiding at Level 70 so I didn't think what I was doing was all that unusual, but it certainly caught my Raid Leader by surprise.

However, I must not have been the only person to decline to raid because not long before I logged off the Raid was called off.

Communication is a skill I’m going to need to continue to work on improving, including what I write in my Blog. I need to develop my writing to such an extent that I can state the facts, and even disagree with decisions that are made, without vilifying the people I’m talking about or maligning them.

All my Guild Leaders / Raid Leaders have been targets of various rants and had me express my disapproval with various decisions they made about running their Guilds / Raids.

While my words were never untrue, they were often unkind.

To a certain extent, it’s difficult to avoid charged emotions anytime you discuss a disagreement with the way someone is running a group.

It’s a similar problem to what my company’s Sales Team runs into with our customers. To sell our solution, we essentially have to tell our customers they are doing things the wrong way.
To our customers it must sound like our Sales Team is saying something along the lines of “Your baby is ugly”. I’m sure my Guild Leaders must have felt a similar sentiment as I disagreed with various decisions they made.

It’s something I’ll need to continue working on. Hopefully I’ll get it right more often than I get it wrong.

Excited For Wrath

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Blog, I give the floor over to Mortehl.

I have to say, I am very excited for wrath. I was sort of Meh on TBC because the Naruu is such a gross departure from the Azeroth world that Warcraft belongs in. Wrath on the other hand, from the architecture, to the colors is a true return.

Outposts LOOK like what you remember from Azeroth, down to the color schemes. You actually have entire outposts where the roofs are painted the same color, etc. I'm sure a lot of people in this community is looking forward to the leveling process as something that is in the way to raiding, but stop and enjoy this. Wrath from it's music score, to the background visuals is the -World- of Warcraft at it's finest. You will very much feel like you're are living breathing part of the game, as opposed to someone traversing a 2 dimensional painting.

Also, there's a lot of stress here about where our role is. Don't panic. Unlike in TBC where we literally had the entire deck stacked against us, by Blizzard's own admissions this time around, they want us to be maintankadins. Seriously, don't worry about those few percent in either direction. Enjoy the game. Its a big world and there's a lot there are many opportunities for us who play paladins in all sorts of roles. - Mortehl

Well said, Mate!

Veteran's Day

I just wanted to take a moment to say "Thank You" to the men and women of our armed forces on this Veteran's Day.

Your sacrifice for our country is deeply appreciated.

Happy Veteran's Day!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

2 ZA Runs

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to run Zul’Aman two times. The first run was with group from Mal Katai.

About 30 minutes before they invited me, I had switched from Protection to Retribution. I had been working on a new quest that recently opened for me from the Netherwing called Disrupting the Twilight Portal. It seemed pretty straightforward. Go to Nagand and kill the Twilight mobs. What I didn’t realize until I got over there was that there were 3 or 4 pathing level 72 Elite mobs. The other problem that presented itself was almost all the mobs were caster types.

It seemed like I’d pull Elite every time I was fighting these casters. I managed to solo one of the Elites, but at the end I was almost dead.

After a couple of frustrating runs, I decided to hearth back to Shattrah and portal to Ironforge. Next thing you know, I’m a Ret Paladin. It was far easier to take out the Twilight mobs as Ret and I managed to avoid pulling the Elites.

I wasn’t quite finished with the quest when I got the invite. I explained I was Ret, but Rika who was the group leader said she’d take me anyway. The tanks ended up being Saisuke (Warrior) and a Phalson, a Druid from a guild called Para Bellum.

The run went pretty well even though it was Phalson’s first time in ZA. We only had significant problems on the Dragonhawk boss. Phalson was having some trouble controlling the adds that spawned. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I put on my tanking gear and helped gather them up. That worked better and we got him down. Then we proceeded to complete a full clear.

For the first time I saw the The Pauldrons of Stone Resolve drop. I debated rolling on them, but I decided to pass for Saisuke who was using Tier 4 Shoulders. I would use the shoulders in a specialized Block Value set. I think Sai would use them all the time.

Then at Zul’jin, I passed on a Jin’rohk since I had just dropped 150 Badges for my Blade of Harbingers.

Then the next night, I got invited by Raistilan to go to ZA on my Hunter with another Mal Katai group. My Hunter has no business in a high end instance like ZA and pre Patch 3.0 his low DPS would have been a real drag on any group going there.

I actually hadn’t been on him since the Patch so I had to respect him and I’m sure his spec is something of a mess right now. I also hadn’t tamed a new pet so I still had Honorsclaw, my Zulian Tiger with me. I was the only DPS in the group not doing 1k plus DPS.

Maybe I was doing it wrong (in fact, I’m sure I was doing it wrong), but it seemed like Hunter DPS in raids is nothing but Steady Shot spam and hitting Kill Command every cooldown. There’s got to be more to it than that, right?

With my Warrior not yet 60, it looks like I’ll need the Hunter to be my Miner in Wrath.

I hate to feel like I’m being carried in an instance, but I couldn’t figure out anyway to do more DPS with him. Outside of Tier 4 Shoulders, he’s horribly undergeared.

The other crazy thing about the run was that the tank loot was flowing. The tank shield dropped off of Dragonhawk, the tank ring dropped from the 3rd chest, and the tank axe dropped from the Zul’jin. Of course no Hunter type loot dropped. I actually would have rolled on the Axe had it dropped the night before.

I thought it was super nice of Raistilan to invite me.

As soon as we were done I jumped back on Honorshammer, and joined up with Homerjay for Arenas but we decided to run Battlegrounds with Heroes Inc instead.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hanging Them Up

So last night I talked to Vlad, my Raid Leader and co-GM of Dominion. She had been asking everyone to tell her their plans for Wrath of the Lich King so she could plan and recruit accordingly.

I had been really struggling with a decision, and I flip flopped in my own mind a dozen times or more. In the end, I decided that I wouldn’t continue to raid 25 man raids with Dominion in Wrath of the Lich King.

This was not an easy choice. I know I’ve got virtually a guaranteed raid spot in the top Alliance guild on my server when raiding starts again. That’s not a small thing to throw away. I do really enjoy raiding, and Dominion is home to some of the best raiders on the server.

I’d like to say thank you to Vlad, and all the people in Dominion that I raided with over the past few months. I'd like to thank the rest of the tanking team (Vlad, Cuch, Iccy, and of course, Kee). I also want to thank my healers (Lady, Phat, Chief, Arbo, Az, Raroeb, Marsallas, Crit, Ali, Das, Sandrine - I would try to list out all the names, but I know I’d miss someone). I'd also like to thank our DPS team including Aga, Thunder, Fares, Fletchy, SonBull, Face, Bibby, Cor, Addic, Nymage, Rhonrob, Kho, Dottie, Gaulden, and all the rest - (I know I'm forgetting people).

When I joined we were 3/5, 3/9 and in our time together we got all the way to killing Kalecgos in Sunwell Plateau. Along the way I managed to complete my Tier 6 set (Sunwell drops not withstanding). We also completed our goal of defeating Illidan before the Expansion!

It’s been a great ride and I’m very grateful for every opportunity you guys provided.

While there were many factors that went into my decision, I think the tipping point for me ultimately was my schedule.

As of right now, I can only make 75% of Dominion’s raids (3 out of 4 nights), and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. This puts me constantly behind in learning fights, and behind in DKP, and consequently behind in gear.

Then in some strange coincidence, every time we killed the end boss of a Tier, it was usually on a Wednesday night. I would have to find a way to be online if I wanted to be in on the kill. This was true of Vashj, and of Kael, and of Illidan. I don’t recall the first time Dominion downed Archimonde as I wasn’t in the raid that night, but I want to say it was a Wednesday as well.

So what's next for ole Honorshammer? Vlad asked if I was going to try to go back to Heroes or Mal Katai. I wasn't planning on it as of this writing. All I know for sure is I'll be leveling up to 80, and I'm very excited about starting Wrath on Thursday. I'll have to cross the Raiding bridge when I come to it again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Opportunties

Last night there was a strong push from some of the members of Dominion to go kill Kael and Vashj one last time before the Expansion Pack to let people get their Rings and Titles.

It turns out that if you had the quest for the Vials of the Eternity in your quest book when Patch 3.0.2 hit, you could still get the title from completing it.

The night started out with a real treat when I saw Aoesrus got an invite to the raid. Aoes and I have very disparate gaming schedules so we don’t get a chance to run together very often. It’s always nice when we do.

Lady Vashj

We quickly cleared Hydross’ and Lurker’s trash and activated the bridge to Vashj. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen it - that is a seriously cool way to get to a Boss.

Vashj was the very first boss I went to with Dominion, and because it’s a two tank fight I had to go Holy. (What is it with the ‘Hat’ bosses; I had to go Holy for Archimonde as well). I was actually worried Vlad would ask me to throw on my Healing set and help heal.

As much as I would have loved to say ‘No’ when asked to Offheal, I don’t believe that’s acceptable. When you join a raid, you are implicitly agreeing to follow the orders of the Raid Leader. If she says stand in the corner and dance, you best head for the corner and hope you like your toon’s dancing animation.

I stayed in my full tank gear. Kee’s connection was acting a little strange. I think in my entire time with Dominion I’ve seen him have connection problems only once or twice. So Vlad and I charged in to take on Vashj. Kee came back somewhere in Phase 2.

We all worked at picking up Naga. It seemed that as soon as I would get one, one of the dang Strider's would hit me with a fear.

Vlad had 3 Naga on her as Vashj came up so Kee and I went after Vashj. Only I think he may have had connection issues because next thing you know, I’ve got Vashj’s attention squarely on my little dwarf self.

I ended up tanking her all the way to the end. That’s something I never would have had the opportunity to do pre Patch 3.0.

But it seemed that somewhere in Phase 2, Aoesrus computer had died. He disconnected and didn’t get credit for the kill. I was able to log into his account and loot the Badges from Vashj, but the Vial of Eternity wasn’t there.

I switched back to Honorshammer and we moved on to Tempest Keep.
Prince Sunstrider
A couple of people need to kill A’lar in order to continue on their quest for the Hand of A’dal title.
Usually for A’lar I find myself handling the Embers that spawn, but this time I was put up on a platform to tank A’lar himself. I had never had the opportunity to do that before so that was pretty cool. I almost got assigned to the Melt Armor taunt rotation for Phase 2, but she decided to put a Druid on it instead.

After A’lar, Chief switched from his Priest to his Paladin. If I understood correctly, each of his toons had killed one of the Bosses before Patch 3.0, and now he needed to kill Vashj on his Priest, and Kael on his Paladin. His Paladin was Prot which gave us about 4 Prot tanks plus a Feral druid.

Vlad was a little concerned since we had so many Prots so I offered to let Chief tank and I would go back to Ironforge and respect Ret. We had a new Warlock and Vlad was a little concerned about having a new Telonicus tank as well. So she asked me to stay Prot, which was fine. Chief ended up staying Protection as well. We decided that if we had DPS issues we would address it after the wipe.

Only a couple of pulls away from Kael, Vlad announced a change to the Loot Rules. All night, all loot had been Free Roll with one epic per person for the night. I had decided to save my roll for the Verdant Sphere which drops off of Kael as a quest item. But then it was announced that at Kael, if the Mount dropped, it would be DKP.

I think it’s wrong to change Loot Rules in the middle of the run, and especially so when it’s done to benefit the Raid Leader. Vlad has more DKP than anyone in the guild, so basically what she was saying was, ‘Everything is free roll, except what I want'.

As the proud owner of one of the best flying mounts in the game, I certainly understand her desire to have a cool mount. But that should have been stated PRIOR to the run.

It was really surprising to me that no one really challenged her on it. Of course, I didn’t either so maybe others were thinking the same thing I was. It wasn’t a cool thing to do, but just not worth an argument.

We get to Kael and I set up to pick up Telonicus. Man, did he go down like a sack of bricks. We jumped up on the stage and I picked up the Phaseshift Bulwark. It wasn’t quite dead when I headed over and picked up Telonicus again.

Once we got into Phase 4, I decided to try to interrupt one of Kael’s Pyroblasts. I think I actually got one (it may have been just a fireball though). If you weren’t aware, Blizzard added an effect to Hammer of Justice to interrupt a spell cast from a mob immune to stun. I’ll have to try this in Heroic Magister's Terrace sometime.

I helped out a bit with the Phoenix in Phase 4 and 5 and soon Kael was out of commission. Vlad decided that since the Verdant Sphere was a quest item everyone should roll, regardless of any prior loot gained during the night.
I didn’t win it. (Technically, I don’t NEED the quest reward, but I’ve never won a boss quest item going all the way back to Onyxia’s head at level 60).

After the raid, I saw a group advertising in Trade chat for a UBRS run for the LEEEEEEEEEEEROY achievement. I joined up and we headed over to Blackrock Mountain.

We cleared to the Rookery and I went running willy nilly through the eggs until my screen was filled with little baby dragons. I laid down my consecrate and went to town. A few seconds later, I was Honorshammer Jenkins!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

500th Post

This will mark the 500th post in this blog since I started it back in late May of 2007. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog for another 500 posts.

Where Were You When Obama Was Elected?

Me, I was in Black Temple, and not watching the Election coverage. I voted, and then let the chips fall where they may. Regardless of who won, the sun was coming up this morning, and life would move on.

What was cool about last night was Chief, my Paladin Class Officer got a chance to raid as Protection. So when we got to Najentus, I suggested that he be the Main Tank. The guy did an excellent job and soon we were NOT looting Plate Boots from him.

I started doing a little research since it seems my fate to have Sabatons of the Righteous Defender until I quit the game. It looks like as soon as I hit 75, I can switch over to my Jungle Stompers. Then somewhere around 78, I can run Stratholme Past (Normal) and hope to get Slaughterhouse Sabatons to drop. Failing that, I can pick up Toxin-Tempered Sabatons from the Knights of the Ebon Blade at Revered. Then at 80, I can pick up Tempered Titansteel Treads from a Blacksmith. So, I'll have Troll Feet for a while, but I don't plan on being Protection from 70-75, anyway.

I'll be Retribution and wearing Warboots of Obliteration.

We've pretty much gone to AoEing nearly every pull in Black Temple. We knocked over Najentus, Supremus, Akama, Reliquary of Souls, Teron Gorefiend, and Bloodboil.

Just to underscore how badly Black Temple has been nerfed, we had a brand new Priest get the first Mark of Death from Teron Gorefiend. As with most people who experience controlling the ghosts for the first time he had some problems. Prior to the Patch, messing up the first Ghost would mean a sure wipe. Last night, we just burned Teron down before the Ghosts became a problem.

Akama was interesting in that I got to tank the Defenders since our normal Druid tank wasn't there. My Raid Leader mentioned something about Paladins not being a great choice for tanking Defenders. This is something I had never heard. She put me on the Defenders regardless and I had no trouble picking up or holding the Defenders. We only got 3 before the fight was over.

I did manage to score a little loot. Even though Najentus wouldn't cooperate with Tide Stompers, Reliquary dropped a Pendant of the Titans. Since this was the 4th time it dropped, I was finally able to snag it.(Comparison shown to Frayed Tether of the Drowned)
On the subject of loot, here are the screenshots from the other loot I've gotten recently: Lightbringer Legguards,(comparison shown to Inscribed Legplates of the Aldor)
and Girdle of Mighty Resolve.
(comparison shown to Belt of the Guardian)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Birthday Party For Raistilan

I had an interesting situation come up on Saturday night. My plan had been to log on and maybe work on a little Netherwing rep. I’m only Honored and I don’t think I’ll make it to revered before Lich King.

I received a message from Leejenkins (aka Raistilan/Dotslover) from the previous nights Zul’Aman run. He wanted to know if I was saved to Mount Hyjal. I wasn’t. He invited me to a ‘trash’ party that he was putting together to help celebrate his Birthday.

(Happy Birthday Raist!)

Raistilan was one of my close friends in Mal Katai and we still talk quite a bit. I've helped him as he leveled up and then started gearing up Leejenkins who is a Protection Paladin. I also seem to have influenced by previous GM in Heroes Inc to roll a Protection Paladin, and he's even made a couple of posts on MainTankadin.

My guild, Dominion, is generally not really cool with you running 25 mans with another guild. I knew I wouldn’t be online again until the Tuesday reset so I knew there was no danger of locking myself out and being unavailable for Dominion. Plus it was just a trash party, no bosses were going to die.

But I still felt I should talk to my Raid Leader and make sure it was okay for me to run with them. I looked up and down the guild roster, looking for either my Raid Leader or my Paladin class officer. When I saw neither on, I looked for any officer I could find. I finally spotted the Warlock Class Officer and basically told him I was going to a trash party with Mal Katai and please don’t freak out.

He whispered me back saying have fun and then sent me another message saying he wasn’t an officer anymore. Doh!

Then I saw my Arena partner online, and I message him to let him know what was going on and that I would bail out of the trash party once it was time to do Arenas. He messaged me back and asked if he could come. I waited a few moments and then Leejenkins asked if I knew anybody who might want to come along. Next thing you know, Lakini is in the raid.

We started with 21 people. There were a lot of familiar faces in the raid that I haven’t seen since I left Mal Katai early in the Spring. Everyone seemed really friendly towards me, and it didn’t appear anyone had any hard feelings from my leaving them. It was great to be hanging out with those guys again.

With 2 Protection Paladins just made an AoEfest of the place.

We hadn’t really intended on killing any Bosses, but when we got to Winterchill it was kind of like “Why Not?”

The point of the raid was just to hang out with those guys and maybe get some people some epics to take into Wrath. The trash had been rather frugal so the Bosses would have to do.

I got to Main Tank Rage Winterchill as she floated into the camp. We lost Lakini right off the bat to an Ice Tomb. Mal Katai was actually killing Rage even before I left them so the battle was never seriously in doubt.

With Rage down, I was now ‘saved’ to their instance. People wanted to keep on going so we kept right on pulling.

I think Mal Katai had struggled with Antheron largely because they didn’t have a Fire Resist tank. I asked for a port and went and grabbed my Fire gear out of the bank. We blazed through the trash with little problem and soon we were at Antheron. We put Leejenkins on Antheron and I asked for 2 or 3 DPS to take down the Infernals. It wasn’t enough and soon we had multiple Infernals up and I was soon dead.

After that we decided to have ALL the range DPS switch to the Infernal. Either people logged on, or decided to come to the raid because the next attempt we had a full 25 man raid.

We pulled the trash again and started getting some trash epics: A spell power mail chest, a spell power neck, and a couple of patterns. I was hoping the tanking cloak would drop for Leejenkins but we had no such luck.

We get to Anetheron again and start banging away. At 20%, I told the Range to just stay on the Boss. At like 1% we lost Leejenkins, but range was able to finish him off before he killed everyone.

Loot was ‘free roll’ and the tanking sword dropped again but I rolled like a 17. I guess I’m destined to go into Wrath with Suneater.

Honestly, if I could JUST replace my dang boots, I’d be a happy camper.

Mal Katai had never seen the Horde camp, so we rode over there and said hello to Thrall. (Yes, I warned them to clear out before talking to Jainia). It took me a second to get my bearings and find the little road up to the Horde camp.

I explained Kaz'Rogal's trash and we pulled. For it being their first time there, I thought Mal Katai adapted well to the pacing of going back and forth between the front and the Gargoyles in the back. The Frost Wyrm has my vote for the single best trash mob in the game.

I had planned on tanking Kaz’Rogal. I was a little nervous about using a Paladin because I didn’t want to blow up. We mishandled the pull and Leejenkins grabbed him. Rather than try to pull it off him, I just said over vent to heal Lee. He did fine and anytime his mana dropped the healing brought it right back up. Mal Katai had no Shadow Resist gear to speak of, so the healers and mana based DPS were eating every Mark of Kaz’Rogal. Despite that, they still managed to down him before people started blowing up. That marked two progression kills for Mal Kati on the night, and a one shot on their very first pull of Kaz'Rogal.

I explained the Azgalor trash, especially the trick of banishing the Fel Hunter in Wave 5 to prepare for Wave 6. They did a great job and soon Azgalor was wading into the Horde camp.

We had significant trouble with Doomguards getting loose and destroying our healers. So I switched from Az to Doomguards. That worked great, until I got Doomed, and rezzed and Doomed again. Holy Bad Luck, Batman!!

Unfortunately, it was getting late and we had to call the raid.

I hope everyone in Mal Katai and Lakini from Heroes had a really good time Saturday night and got to see some new Bosses before the Expansion Pack.

I also hope I don’t get into too much trouble with Dominion for taking the run.