Friday, January 30, 2009

To Do Is To Done

1. Buy Libram of Obstruction
2. Buy Plantium Mesh Cloak
3. Enchant Cloak with Titanweave
4. Hope to get an invite to Naxx-25


I logged on and banged out a Heroic Vault of Archavon run. Then I ran over to the Badge Vendors and bought the Libram of Obstruction and the Plantium Mesh Cloak. I found a Guild enchanter and slapped Titanweave on that bad boy. Then I whispered the raid leader that I was available.


Badaboom, badabing. Invite. Thank you, very much.

We had a pretty good run through Naxx25, and knocked out Construct, Military and Spider. I was offtanking most of the night and it was something of a relief to have our regular Main Tank handling the pulls. I could pull my mob off and go to town. For Tanks it was me (Tankadin), a Warrior, and two Feral Druids.

I am still amazed by the threat generation that Ferals can put out, and the seeming invincibility of our very geared Warrior.

I got a chance to tank Baron Rivendare for Four Horsemen. I actually tanked his level 60 form during a Strath run. This was right after the Burning Crusade talents had been released, but before Outland had been opened. This was a little different of course. I had a single Resto Druid assigned to heal me, and he did a great job. We burned down the first horsemen, then the Warrior came over and taunted Rivendare off of me. I ran to the middle to let my stack of Mark of Rivendare fall off, and helped out on the last two horsemen.

For most of the night, the loot followed a particular pattern, Cloth, Mail or Leather and Spell Power Plate.

We did have two Defender's Codes drop. I tried very hard to not let 'purple blind the eye' as I looked at it.

My current Trinkets are Figurine: Monarch Crab, and Sonic Booster. I think that I'd rather have the Valor Medal of the First War rather than Defender's Code. Armor (from Defender's Code) would be nice, but I'd like to increase my avoidance a bit more. 20% Dodge just isn't going to cut it. I think Defender's Code was meant for Druids before the Armor nerf. If I understand it correctly, Druids don't get to apply the Bear Form Armor bonus to armor from Trinkets, Rings, and Necks.

I was fortunate to snag the Bindings of Hapless Prey from Maexxna. They were a guargantuan upgrade to my Tempered Saronite Bracers.

The bracer upgrade brought me up to 28.2k hit points.

When The Student Is Ready

I answered a call for a PuG Vault of Archavon 25 raid. It was a good hour before Mal Katai's scheduled Naxx25 run, and we would only have Wintergrasp for another 30 minutes. Given the rarity of the Alliance actually ever having control of Wintergrasp on Altar of Storms, I jumped at the chance.

They didn't say what they needed, only that they needed more people. When I arrived, the tanking assignments had already been figured out. A Warrior would be MT, and a Protection Paladin would be OT. I was a backup. This didn't bother me, I just wanted my two Emblems of Valor.

As the other Tankadin walked up to the front of the raid, I saw something that immediately got my attention, a Hammer of Judgment. Uh-oh, do we have someone who hadn't gotten the memo about spell damage weapons not being ideal?

I decided to inspect him. His gear looked okay, no other Spell Power pieces besides the Hammer of Judgment. He had a couple of level 70 pieces, trinkets for the most part. Apparently, he was checking me out as much as I was checking him out as he whispered me and said 'nice gear'.

We do the first trash pull, and I rip his mob right off of him. I apologized to him in whispers. He responded it was cool and asked me how I put out so much threat so fast. I told him I was just using the standard 969 rotation.

When he asked me what a 969 was, my Spidy Sense got a little tingly. I asked him if he had ever heard of Maintankadin. He, of course, had not. I told him to google it when the raid was over and proceeded to do a quick explanation of 969. I also told him that there was a quick quest he could do in Zul'Drak to get an upgraded tanking weapon.

He thanked me, and we finished up the trash.

I didn't belittle him, or call him a noob for having a Spell Damage weapon, or not knowing about 969. Not everyone knows about resources outside the game that can help them learn about what to do in game. Hopefully, I helped him out and made his guild just a little stronger.

Actually spell damage weapons aren't necessarily bad. They do pretty good threat, comparable to a 'tanking' weapon of the same ilevel. The reason we use 'tanking' weapons now instead of spell damage ones is that you get roughly the same threat plus get the defense stats on the weapon to boot.

It actually took two attempts to kill Archavon because our melee DPS like to hang out in the clouds. He actually dropped a piece of Redemption, but it was the healing piece.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Know Thyself

I'm trying to decide what to do with my Emblems of Valor and Emblems of Heroism. I'm currently sitting on 35 Heroism and 25 Valor.

When you face this decision, you can and should go read all the pick order guides you can find. There's a couple of excellent ones on Tanking Tips. We'll forgive Vene (Tanking Tips author) for being a Red Bar. He writes some very good tanking articles and if you are a serious tank his blog ought to be part of your reading. Just ignore the Warrior specific stuff.

But after you read the guides, and before you go plunk down your pretty Emblems, remember this:
Tank, Know Thyself!

The first thing I'm going to consider when deciding on a piece of 'badge' gear is looking for weak points in my current kit.

As I examine my tanking kit, I can see that I'm weak at the Bracers (Tempered Saronite), Back (Cloak of the Enemy), and Libram (Tome of the Lightbringer, my last piece of tBC gear). My Neck, Boots and Legs would be the next week points after that.

I can get a new Libram and Neck from Emblems of Heroism. I would need just 5 more Emblems to be able to buy both. So buying the Libram of Obstruction goes on the To Do list, as well as getting 5 more Emblems of Heroism for the Chained Military Gorget.

Bracers, Back, Boots and Legs are all from Emblems of Valor. My Bracers and Back are about equally weak. I only have 25 EoV. The question is, do I buy the Platinum Mesh Cloak now or save up for the Bracers of Dalaran's Parapets.

The Bracers are technically BoE, so I could try to find someone with more Emblems than they need and buy it from them. I've got to imagine that would set the ole bank account back a pretty penny though. My outside of raiding options are Normal/Heroic Oculus, Normal Utgarde Pinacle, Heroic Stratholme, and Heroic Old Kingdom. It will probably be easier finding a group for Heroic Strath than Heroic Old Kingdom.

The allure of getting something right now is certainly strong. Of course as soon as I do, something will drop in Naxx, but I really can't worry about that. I need to go into the raid with the best gear available to me.

To Do:
1. Buy Libram of Obstruction
2. Buy Plantium Mesh Cloak
3. Enchant Cloak with Titanweave
4. Hope to get an invite to Naxx-25 tonight

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taking The Wheel

I found myself in what's becoming a familiar haunt to Honorshammer, Dun Niffelem. While there I saw my buddy LeeJenkins asking for an Offtank for 10 man Naxx. Because my schedule doesn't mesh well with the schedule of the 10 man Naxx groups in the guild I jumped at the chance.

I had managed to grab a couple more upgrades since I last Raid tanked. The Titanium Earthguard Ring from Jewelcrafting and Bolstered Legplates from Heroic Violet Hold had been added to my kit. This pushed me into the 26k unbuffed HP range.

So get my Flask of Stoneblood, and my Dragonfin Filet and start flying out to Dragonblight. I started looking around the raid group, and I got really excited. It was a bunch of folks that I ran a ton with back in Burning Crusade, but hadn't been able to run as much with as of yet in Wrath.

We had 2 Protection Paladins (myself and one other) as tanks. Healers were a Holy Paladin, and Holy Priest. We had a Feral Druid, and Titans Grip Warrior as our melee. Ranged was a Hunter (not sure of spec, but I can't imagine Araxe NOT being Beast Master), a Mage (Arcane), a Warlock (no clue), and a Shaman (Elemental).

This was the kind of run I love. 10 online friends were going to hang out for a couple of hours on vent and kill some Internet villains.

I got a bit of a surprised when I zoned in. Lee told me I was going to be Main Tank. Okay, no problem. I had never marked the pulls, or led a group in Naxx, but now was a good as time as any to start.

We decided to being with the Spider Wing.

Okay, who gave the trash spiders Death Grip? That's the Death Knight spell where they yank you halfway across the BG. That was annoying as all get out, and it made getting the pull under control a bit hairy.

Our first boss was Anub. Mal Katai had never done him without a Warrior tanking. The Warrior would intervene a Hunter standing on the other side. I was tanking Anub and would have to walk around the edge.

Just in case you were wondering, falling into the slime is not a good idea.

We pulled again, and this time I managed to run all the way to the other side. When I got there, Anub proceeded to kill me. The fight was new for the healers as well and they were working out where they could stand to be able to reach me with heals but not be affected by Anub's silence.

It took a couple of tries but eventually we got him.

Something really odd was going on with threat, because I kept losing threat to LeeJenkins even though his attention was directed on the adds. I know I'm not perfect on 969 rotation just yet. Too often it becomes 9669 which is not as good. I did noticed that Lee would drop Consecrate where I would not, but that can not explain why I was losing threat.

Now I was judging Wisdom, and Lee was doing Light, but Blizzard was supposed to have removed the threat component to JoL. I wonder if that didn't get worked out completely the way it should have.

Next up was Grand Widow. We had to figure out some minor details like how close the boss needed to be to the Worshipers so she wouldn't enrage. I learned that I can not survive an enraged Faerlina for very long, and very long in this context equates to about 4 seconds.

Once we figured out the range thing we were able to stop her enrage and kill her.

I messed up some of the trash pulls and ended up overpulling at one point (I think we had 3 groups on us at once, or was it 4) which led to a trash wipe. You ever see those Southwest commercials that end "Wanna get away?". Yeah, that was me.

We pressed on and a trash epic dropped, a Medallion of the Disgraced . We don't DKP in a 10 man, just basically need/greed roll. I rolled off with the other Protection Paladin, and won. This replaced my Pendant of the Nathrezim.

When all was said and done and we buffed up for Maexxna, I was sitting at over 34k buffed HP. My defense was climbing well past 540. I felt like I could take on anything in there.

Maexxna would teach me otherwise. I couldn't see everything from my vantage point tanking her, but I usually died during an Enraged Web Spray. We eventually got her down though. She dropped the epic tanking cloak, The Cloak of Armed Strife. Both myself and my co-Tankadin were wearing 'blue' capes.

I opted to not roll against my co-Tank. I had just won the epic neck from the trash drop, and I have enough Emblems of Valor to purchase the Plantium Mesh Cloak. So I felt he would get more use out it than I would.

There was some discussion about where to head next. A couple of people mentioned Construct Quarter. Our TG Warrior put in a vote for Plague because he coveted a trinket off the final boss there.

After our struggles in Spider, we decided Plague was a good choice to try next. We easily had the DPS to handle the Gargoyles. Well, we would have if I hadn't pulled a Ghoul/Slime pack along with the Gargoyle. Yeah, not a banner night for Hammer.

We regrouped and started pulling our way to Noth. Noth would turn out to be our one and only one shot of the night, and everyone was happy for it.

Then came the Heigan. I've watched him be tanked 3 or 4 times now, but this time I was sitting in the pilot's chair. We had two people who were seeing Heigan for the first time, and one of those represented 50% of our healing. My co-Tank graciously offered to help offheal. He had some fun with it. "You got a heal coming, just taking a while".

After a couple of attempts I felt like I started to get the 'dance' down. I was right that it was something I was just going to have to do to learn. What I hadn't picked up on from watching the other tanks, or in any of the videos I had watched, was that there is a 'too close' / 'too far' dichotomy that you have to managed with Heigan. He can't be too close to the casters, but you can't be too far away or you will move them out of range.

I was beginning to have doubts we would kill him, when we managed to survive the first 'dance' phase. I picked him back up and started moving him around again. Somehow I lost my bearings, and had to ask the TG Warrior to help me figure out where to move next.

It was close and we really had to burn him down those last few percent, but we won! He dropped the Amulet of Autopsy. I was sitting with an epic neck and my co-Tank still had a quest blue, so I passed. I think the badge bought Chained Military Gorget is pretty much equal to the Amulet. That will let my co-Tank pick up his Badge belt sooner (which I already have).

We ran through the little grub gauntlet and soon we were facing down Loatheb. This fight is pretty simple from a tank perspective. I have to sit there and tank him and hope the healers keep me up during the small window they get to heal in. We used at least 2 Lay on Hands cooldowns, but we managed to get him down.

No trinket for the Titan's Grip Warrior, but Lee got a new pair of T7 shoulders. At that point it was getting late, so we decided to call it after two wings.

It was something of a rough run, and I knew it was going to be a learning experience. Hopefully it goes better next time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

(This post contains major HUGE spoilers. If you haven't done these quests in Storm Peaks, stop reading, and go do them. Proceed at your own risk.)

So I was continuing to quest in the Storm Peaks working on a chain from the Frostborn Dwarves. This chain was trying to find Norgannon's Core.

You start off by having to find a Dwarf. You find him, dying, of course. He sends you to a Watcher named Creteus. Creteus sends you off to 4 Temples in the area to try find out what happened. The little probe goes around and determines some sort of battle took place.

You get back he sends you into this cave where you have to defeat a ton of Water Elementals to get the Core. As soon as you do, everything changes. Two Frostborn dwarves show and tell you the cave is under attack by Iron Dwarves. You have to fight your way through the Iron Dwarves (who weren't there when you down into the cave). One of the Frostborn tells you that King Stormheart (aka Muradin Bronzebeard) is leading the battle to give you time to get out but they are 'helplessly outnumbered'. I'm starting thinking to myself, "Don't let me find Muradin, only to get him killed again."

You get back to Creteus and he sends into the Engine of the Makers, a long, seemingly bottomless pit. Down at the bottom is none other than Brann Bronzebeard. You hope on Brann's Flying Machine and he starts to fly out of the Engine of the Makers. You are standing on a wing while Iron Dwarves jump onto the plane and try to take it down. In the screenshot, I've just knocked the Iron Dwarf off. I tried to get a picture of him falling down, but I didn't.

As we came up out of the Engine of the Makers, we saw two Iron Golems standing over the inert body of Watcher Creteus. I've never seen a quest giver die in WoW before. I mean that had to stay alive so the next chap that comes along can get their quests.

Once we were to safety, the real fun started. Brann wanted to meet King Stormheart who had made our escape possible.

Brann immediately RECOGNIZES Muradin! The two talk for a minute and Muradin's memory starts coming back to him. Muradin remembers who he is. I was cheering in my chair.
But it got even better. Who should show up on the scene but King Magni Bronzebeard himself! Apparently, someone got word to him that Muradin might still be alive and King Magni hightailed it up to Northrend.
The Brothers Bronzebeard were reunited! I almost wanted to go to Ironforge and die my beard red.

Muradin remembered Arthas turning. He still seems to think that Arthas turned when he took the cursed blade, Frostmourne. I still maintain Arthas was already on that dark path long before that.

Muradin actually blamed himself for not trying to stop Arthas. He leaves the Frostborn Dwarves in the hands of a lieutenant, and heads off to Icecrown. Maybe he will show up again when we fight Arthas (ala Maeiev in the Illidan fight).

As a dwarf , and someone who loves dwarves, this quest had a special meaning for me. Muradin is restored, and joining us in the fight against Arthas, just as he should.
As an added bonus, I also picked up the exploration and quest completion achievements for Storm Peaks. Now, onto IceCrown.

Friday, January 23, 2009

25 Man Tanking

Thursday I logged in and saw that Mal Katai would be running Naxx25. I got my stuff together for both my Protection Set and Retribution Set and hung around Dalaran. I'm still not 100% sure how Mal Katai decides who is going to get an invite and who isn't. All I know is that sometimes I get invited and sometimes I get virtually ignored.

I got a whisper from Cryak asking me what spec I was. I answered in the way I usually do, "Prot at the moment". I hope he takes that to mean that I'm prot right now, but if you need something else, let me know. Maybe I should just say that directly next time.

He then queried me as to where my gear was at. I told him the truth, a mix of blues and epics and around 24.5k unbuffed health. He must have thought that was good enough because a few moments later I had an invite to the raid. The other tanks appeared to be Cryak and Zelena. So you had Prot Warrior, Feral Druid, Prot Paladin.

Most of the trash was just an AoE fest with Cryak dragging the last mob from one group into the next group and chain pulling. We were light on Priests (as in we had zero in the raid, and had to pull someone in for Faerlina). So we opted for Spider, Plague and Construct since Razivious would have been just a tad difficult.

Anub'Rekhan: The Feral Druid and I were assigned to pick up adds that spawned, and I have to admit I did a fairly poor job. I had a hard time finding the adds, targeting them and getting them under control. Several times, Zelena had to pick up both adds because I had failed to get mine. In Burning Crusade, I had a whole host of targeting macros for these situations. It's time I start making them again. Despite my general failure, we still managed to one kill Anub in one shot.

He dropped the Inexorable Sabatons tanking boots. I don't see them as much of an upgrade over my Tempered Titansteel Boots. I actually would wear the 'blue' tanking boots from Heroic Old Kingdome over either if I had them. What I really want is the Sabatons of Endurance off of Thaddius or the Emblem of Valor boots, Kyzoc's Ground Stompers. Since the Inexorable Sabatons are BoE, they went to the Guild Bank.

Grand Widow Faerlina: My job here was to control an add until it needed to be mind controlled, then call out the symbol of the next add I would break and tank. I was really enjoying the new Hand of Reckonging spell Paladins received in 3.0.8 for this fight, though I wish Blizzard had come up with a better name for it.

Simply target the one you want to tank and hit Hand of Reckoning. The sheep/pig/turle/penguin/whatever else mages can turn it into will break and you will be at the top of the threat list. I felt like I did a pretty good job here. One time the mind control was applied too early so it wore off before it could be used. I simply grabbed another add and we used that one.

The Grand Widow had a little surprise for me, a Sand Worn Band! My rings had been one of my weaker points, so I immediately put in for the Ring, and won it. I'm not sure if no one else was interested or if I just had more DKP than others. The ring is considered 'Best In Slot' so I was very excited to have received it.

Maexxna: Here again, I was on add duty. I did a little better than I did on Anub'Rekhan, but not anywhere near well enough. Again here, I think a targeting macro would do wonders for my performance.

Everything was going along great, and then we lost Cryak. Maexxna turned around and started working over one of the Death Knights who had the presence of mind to switch into Frost Presence. That bought us a couple of hits, but soon the Death Knight was ...well....dead.

Now Maexxna sits at about 15%. We're clearly in the Execute zone. Cryak asked if I could pick her up. So I taunted. Cool, now a Big Spider was wanting to chew on my little dwarf behind. Uh, Enraged Big Red Spider wanting to chew on little dwarf behind! I hit my Monarch Crab, and Bubblewall. My heart was pounding in my chest. I watched as Maexxna's health slowly whittled away. 5%, ....4....3...2...1%, dead Spider mama.

It felt really good that I had been able to pick up Maexxna, and that the healers were able to keep me alive.

With the Arachnid Quarter complete, we moved on to Plague.

Noth the Plaguebringer: Again, I was on the Adds. And again, I would have to say my ability to pick them up was sub par. I've got to work on it. Luckily, I once again had Zelena there to help bail me out. He dropped the Gauntlets of the Disobedient. I'm really torn between these on the Gauntlets of the Master. It would seem Disobediant are the better Gloves, but I really like the Dodge on Gauntlets of the Master. I'm also not sure what I want to enchant them with. I should probably go with Armsman, but part of me wants to use Hand Mount Pyro Launcher. Both enchants enhance threat, but Armsman also gives a bit of Parry, and it’s more threat, but dag-gum I want to use my Engineering!

Heigan the Unclean: Time to put my dancing shoes on. I didn't do a whole lot better, but I also didn’t' die. I don't know if you have more room in 25 man, or if the extra healers gives you a larger margin of error, or if it was fact I was tank spec. I still don't feel real confident that I would know where to go if I was asked to main tank. I should watch the tank spot video a couple of more times, but I think until I actually do it, I won't have it down.

Loatheb: For the most part of the night, I had tried to be real quiet and just kind of blend in. These guys have been raiding for over a month now. I knew a good portion from my first stint in Mal Katai, but not all of them. I'm just trying to fit back into the group, show I’m a team player, and earn some confidence and respect. But I may have let my mouth get me in trouble.

We were fighting Loatheb and everything was going along just fine. Cryak was main tanking and I was ‘dpsing’. Someone asked me over vent if I wanted to grab a spark (the thing that makes you crit more). I replied I wanted to leave them for the 'real dps', and that's probably where I should have stopped, but I continued and said 'The way I'm climbing Omen, I don't think I should grab one.' I think that might have come off as bragging, and showing off. I didn't intend that, but it's not what you intend, it's how people take it.

If I had had a brain in my head, I would have clicked off Righteous Fury before I began 'Dpsing', but I didn't. I did get a tell from one of the DPS telling me he thought I did a good job for doing 1300dps as Prot spec. I know real DPS can do two and three times that much, but I guess every little bit helps.

Loatheb drops the Tier 7 Shoulder token and sure enough there was a Conqueror on the body. We had no Priests, but plenty of Paladins and a couple of Warlocks. I put in that I was interested. Ryken (Guild Master, Master Looter and Retribution Paladin extraordinaire) asked me to link him my current shoulders. I was wearing Crusaders Square Pauldrons. These are some of the best pre-raid shoulders you can get. There are two others, but both are Heroic drops that I had not seen yet. I went into the raid with the best Shoulders I could have had given the machinations of the Random Number Generator (RNG). Ryken saw the Tier token was a huge upgrade for me, and a smaller one for him, so he passed, and I wound up with the Tier token. This led to a little bit of a problem when I got back to the town after the raid as there were no Fel Armaments on the Auction House and my Sons of Hodir rep is sitting at Honored. So I don't have an enchant on them yet.

With Plague Quarter down, we moved over to Construct. We had a little trouble with Patchwerk's trash and specifically the slimes that need to be AoE'ed down by ranged dps. We had no trouble getting through the first time, but then we somehow aggroed them again when we were fighting the trash.

This led to a series of wipes where half the raid releases and half the raid is rezzed, then the half that released is stuck behind the slimes. With Blizzard's new bug on Warlock Summoning (2 mintue cooldown, thanks Bliz!!), we eventually had to get everyone to die and just do it all over again but we lost a lot of time.

Patchwerk: Then we came to Patchwerk himself and here I got a clue that I might have upset my Druid friend. The Druid and I are assigned to take Hatefuls, while Cryak (Warrior) main tanks.

The Druid opens up and his threat generation goes through the roof. He was putting out just amazing levels of threat. I wasn't worried too much about keeping up; because I knew I only needed to stay above the melee DPS. The Druid put out so much threat that he actually pulled threat and started main tanking moving Cryak to eating Hatefuls. Our healers adjusted beautifully and adjusted again as Cryak reestablished threat and moved the Druid back to Hatefuls.

Did my earlier comment at Loatheb make the Druid think I was crowing about my threat gen, and he wanted to show me he could put out some mean threat, too, or am I just reading way too much into the situation?

I haven't seen my health yo-y0 like that in a long long time. It was crazy, but we still got Patch down in one shot.

Grobbulus: Next up was Grobbulus. I found myself on add duty here as well. For the first time in the night I thought I did a pretty decent job of picking up adds. Cryak moved him around flawlessly and he was dead before we completed a circuit.

Grobbulus had a Chestguard of the Exhausted on him. I hesitated to show interest. I had already gotten a ring and a Tier token. I was very concerned that showing interest in the Chest would make me look like a giant loot (*&!^. I also already had my Tier 7-10 Chest, so it wouldn't be a huge upgrade.

I explained my dilemma over vent. Cryak told me it was much better than Tier 7-10 and Ryken encouraged me to roll despite my earlier drops. So I won my third drop of the night.

Gluth: Gluth was next and my job was pretty simple. I would taunt off Cryak when his Mortal Wound debuff got too high and he would taunt back once it fell off. Simple.

Only we lost Cryak at the first Decimate. Now I was tanking Gluth. Zelena (Feral Druid) quickly switched to Bear and helped taunt off me when my stack got high. Cryak paid me a really nice compliment "You take like no damage, that's really good." I don't know that there's a much better compliment one tank can give another.

Zelena and I worked together well, but in the end I died. “I’m down, I’m down” I called out over vent. “So is he.” was the response, so it was all good.

Thaddius: Our final boss of the night turned out to be Thaddius. I was tanking one of the minibosses to start the event but I didn't know about keeping him close to the Tesla Coil. We lost some DPSers and couldn't beat the timer.

During the next attempt, I kept running the wrong way. I was running to the right place, either with negative or positive charge but I was taking the right path. Left and Right kept getting changed around, until someone finally said counter clockwise. That clicked.

On the next one we lost Cryak and I actually ended tanking Thaddius for a good portion of the attempt. We again didn't have the DPS to beat the timer. At that point it was getting late, so we had to call and end to the raid.

I was really happy to have been given an opportunity to run Naxx25 with Mal Katai and to be able to tank a little bit. I was also very grateful for the drops that had been given to me. The added defense from the new items allowed to switch out my Daunting Legguards for the Legplates of the Infinite Drakonid, and still have the required 540 defense.

I'm right on the cusp of 26k unbuffed health, and I got a chance to tank in a 25 man. When people are looking for tanks for Heroics, 10 or 25 mans, hopefully they will think of Honorshammer and give me an invite.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Still Questing

I know I stopped talking about my solo/questing as soon as I started raiding, but I wanted to give you an update. I'm still questing.

I've continued working my way through the quests in Storm Peaks. The Titan Lore is really good and the quests are fun. There's even an Engineer only quest which rewards you with a schematic for a Scrapbot, which as far as I can tell is the new Repair Bot. Mats are fairly cheap only Saronite Bars.

One of my favorite quests has you doing battle with a Giant Robotic Gnome. And you thought the real ones were scary!

I've also reached the conclusion of the Thorim / Loken chain. Most everyone will start on the Thorim chain because it opens up the quests to start gaining Sons of Hodir rep. You continue the chain and ultimately there a mono y mono between Thorim and Loken.


But my favorite chain thus far has to do with the Frostborn Dwarves. Once you start doing quests for them they send you out to take their Warrior test. On the way, your guide starts describing events that have happened. I immediately recognized the character in the story. I could be wrong but I believe I've found out what happened to Muradin! I only wish there was someway I could tell him who he is, and what he's done! He should join us in our fight against Arthas!
I've recently started questing in Icecrown itself. The way the zone changes is just amazing. When I got there an Argent Crusade base was under attack. After we held off the attack, I could see the bodies of the defeated Scourge and the Argent Crusade fighters were cheering! An area that had been covered in Nerubian spider webs was ablaze from the battle. I can't wait to get back to Icecrown and continue questing there.
Questing doesn't have to end just because you hit the level cap. If it's something you enjoy, continue doing it. The quests in Wrath are extremely high quality and fun. The stories are engaging, and the characters memorable. Even if you don't need any of the quest rewards, there's still some rep to be squeezed out and achievements you can earn. You don't have to lock yourself away 24/7 in dungeons. Enjoy the full game. Blizzard put a ton of work into the quests, enjoy it!

Patch 3.0.8 and Helms

One of the changes in 3.0.8 was a buff to the Tempered Titansteel Helm, adding a Meta Socket and a Blue socket with a Defense Rating socket bonus.

So let's compare it to other helms around it's level. We'll compare it to the Armored Titanium Goggles, Thanes Tainted Greathelm, Platehelm of the Great Wyrm, T7 and T7.5.

In most of my analysis you will see I disregard 'threat' stats like Strength, Hit and Expertise. This is done with the belief that threat is a minor issue right now. Gear decisions should be based on Survival stats alone. You'll get 'enough' threat stats that come along for the ride.

Also each person has to evaulate the chioces based on their gear.

Armored Titanium Goggles

This is the Engineering only helm that you can craft use as early as 72. The trade off here is 12 Strength, 14 Defense, and 43 Expertise for 51 stamina. The Engineering helm has a yellow socket instead of a blue with an Expertise socket bonus. I wouldn't try to gem the Engineering helm for the socket bonus.

As long as you can afford the loss of 14 defense, I wouldn't use the Engineering helm. It seems the intent of the Engineering helm is get your from 72 to 80 where you would replace it with the Titansteel helm. This is odd because you have to buy mats that only drop in Level 80 content (Frozen Orbs) and power level your Engineering to 440.

Thane's Tainted Great Helm

This drops from the 4 Horsemen in Naxx10. Using it you gain 12 Str, 39 dodge, and 44 Parry at the loss of 51 stamina and 6 defense. Thane's has a yellow socket versus a blue for Titansteel.

I think what is clear here is the choice between Thane's and Titansteel is what my buddy calls Armina (Armor plus Stamina) versus Avoidance. Thane's is clearly an avoidance piece while Titansteel is an EH (Effective Health) piece. So you have to look at the rest of your gear. Do you need more stamina or more avoidance. I think where the two pieces are offered works quite weel. When you are a new tank, a fresh 80, you need the Effective Health to try to meet the minimums of the encounters. Once you've gotten into Naxx a little ways (and 4 Horsemen is near the end) you probably have 'enough' Effective Health and are starting to look to increase your avoidance.

I think if I had Thanes and Titansteel, I'd wear Thanes for most stuff, but Titansteel for Dragons.

Tier 7 Heroes Redemption Faceguard

The difference between Tier 7 and the Titansteel is you gain 11 Strength, 74 Block Value, and 30 Expertise for the loss of 51 stamina and 3 defense. You also have a less desireable Expertise socket bonus on Tier 7 compared to the Defense socket bonus on Titansteel.

This looks like a Stamina versus Block Value choice. There are times and fights where I want the Block Value helm (fast, light hitters, AoE situations, etc), and times when I want Stamina (slow, big hitters, Dragons). So as crazy as it seems Tier 7 for Trash clears and Titansteel for Bosses.

Platehelm of the Great Wyrm

This drops from Sapphiron in Naxx25. Using it you gain 39 Str, 2 Defense, 38 Dodge, and 67 Block Rating. You lose 11 stamina and the sockets (meta and blue). You could gem the Titansteel Helm with Defense to make up for some of the Block Cap loss from the 67 Block Rating.

This happens to be the helm I'm wearing in my current gear. It's tempting to change it out for the new Tempered Titansteel Helm just because I'm fighting so hard to stay at the Crit Cap (540 Defense). I could socket the Titansteel Helm with Defense and open up a lot of freedom in the rest of my gear.

Tier 7.5 Valorous Redemption Faceguard
Okay so the last hat we will look at is the Tier 7.5 from Naxx25. This, like the Platehelm of the Great Wyrm actually has a higher item level than the Titansteel Helm.

What's the extra item levels grant you? 19 Str, 77 Block Value, 20 Defense, and 35 Expertise. You also get an Expertise socket bonus, and you still give up 35 stamina.
The analysis hear is two fold. First of all, do you need the 20 defense to stay at the Crit Cap? If you do, you need the Tier 7.5.

If you don't it's a question of nearly 90 total block value (when you factor in BV from Strength) versus 35 stamina. You would only need to get hit 4 times for the BV to come out ahead. I have to think in this case that the Valorous Redemption Faceguard would be used in all cases over the Titansteel Helm.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back To The Future

Last night had a bit of a rough start to it. On Altar of Storms, you couldn't stay logged in for more than about 10 minutes before you would get booted off. Then when you tried to get back on, you would get a World Server is down message.

I finally got in and was able to stay online long enough to turn in all my Relics of Ulduar for Sons of Hodir rep, and do a couple of dailies. I check the Guild Message of the Day to see when various groups were running their 10 and 25 mans. It was really disappointing to see that Group 1 AND Group 3 would be running Naxx on Wednesday night. I had run as an offtank in Group 3 last week, and thought I might run with them again.

I don't expect people to make their schedules around me. You have to run the groups when most everyone is available. I actually ran the idea by my wife of changing our schedule around a little bit to free up Wednesday night and that went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

So after I turned in my Jewelcrafting daily, I started to head over to Icecrown. Then I got a whisper from my buddy Raistilan. They were doing some alt runs and wanted to see if I could help them out with a couple of dungeon runs. I remember even as I leveled up, that groups were hard to come by, so I offered to come help out. Raist was on his Prot Paladin, but he volunteered to go Ret. At that point, I really wished my Hunter was high enough level to run it, but he's still Level 70.

We were running Drak'tharon Keep which actually worked out for me because I had a couple of quests for Drak'tharon Keep still in my Quest Log.

When I joined the group, one of the members commented that if I was tanking it would be a good run. Now maybe that's because I'm level 80 and it was a lower level dungeon, or maybe people really think I'm a pretty decent tank. I'm not sure. I decided to take it as a compliment.

The run was pretty smooth, and good practice for when I run that place on Heroic. After we were done, they asked if we could do Halls of Stone. I figured sure, why not. I loved Halls of Stone the first time I ran it.

But as we were flying up to the Storm Peaks, I got another whisper, this time from my buddy Saisuke who was on his Shaman. He needed a tank for Heroic Stratholme Past.

I was in something of a quandary. Saisuke had been very helpful to me with acquiring my Titansteel gear, but I had already agreed to help out Raist's group. I hadn't had a chance to do Strath Past, and I really would have liked to do it. So I asked the group if they would mind me taking the group with Saisuke. They told me it was okay. Raist's Paladin went back to Prot and they found another DPS in the guild.

Strath is one of the dungeons I've been looking forward to running. I played Warcraft 3 and remember well the Level this dungeon is based on. This is the place where Arthas disbands the Order the Silver Hand and makes his break from Uther the Lightbringer. Even Jaina's love can not sway Arthas from his path. I always thought that the moment Arthas took Frostmourne and supposedly killed Muradin was the moment he went over to the 'dark side', but you can see from his actions at Stratholme that taking Frostmourne was merely the last step in a process that was already well underway.

"And once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will..."

Culling of Stratholme was something of a gauntlet run. I felt very fortunate to have a group that was obviously familiar with the instance and an Unholy Death Knight who could help keep the pulls under control when I fell behind.

It wasn't until near the end of the run that I noticed the timer at the top of my screen. I immediately remembered the timed Baron runs back at Level 60 and I wondered if something similar was going on here.

Turns out there was because we got to the 'extra' boss with only a minute left on the timer. He went down pretty easily, and Saisuke's shaman won the roll on the Bronze drake. Congrats.

We finished up the instance by defeating Mal'ganis. He didn't drop the Shield, but I did pick up a new Necklace, though now that I look at it more, I'm not sure I'll wear it over my Burning Skull Pendant.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tanking Naxx10

Saturday night, I got an invite to join Snowson (Feral Druid) in Mal Katai Group 3 for Naxx. Group 3 had been created the previous evening when I had been offline. I got on really late, but managed to snag a VoA-10 run.

That first night they had knocked out Spider, Plague and a couple of bosses in Military. We were headed for Construct, the only quarter of Naxx I hadn't seen yet. I pulled up Maintankadin's Naxx guide and read over each fight so I would at least know what to do.

We had to PuG out final 2 spots in the group because we didn't have enough people in Mal Katai who didn't already have a Raid ID.

I got really excited as the buffs started going up and I watched my hitpoints climb and climb. My mouth hung open as I looked at the final total, over 31k!

The first Construct we would be facing was none other than Patchwerk himself. I've been playing WoW since Level 60 was the cap. I've heard so much about Patchwerk from back in the day and now with Naxx redone as Level 80. I've really been looking forward to facing him and seeing what all the fuss was about.

Our tanking team was Protection Paladin, and Feral Druid. We both knew what would work best would be for the Protection Paladin (me) to main tank Patchwerk while the Feral (Snowson) took Hateful Strikes.

So we engage. I was a little shocked by out fast Patchwerk hits. I was truly loving my 1.3k Block Value. The healers didn't have any trouble keeping me up until we hit the enrage. I used BubbleWall but then we lost Snowson, and he called for the Holy Paladin to DI the Priest and it was over.

I looked over my Recount and saw that there was a DPS class below me. I've been told that is a sure sign of trouble. I've been that low DPS before in a group so I didn't say anything. A couple of others in the group did, but you got the impression it was friendly, good natured jabbing, and not zomgufail!

We pull again, and this time we were able to get him. I'm not sure what changed exactly.

He dropped a sword and a dagger, neither of which I was interested in.

With Patchwerk dead I made the amazing discovery that I fail at Frogger.It was the first time I'd seen it, and I only died to it once, but I thought it was funny nonetheless.
Next up was Grobulous. I was again tagged to Main Tank him. It sounded a lot like Flame Tanking on Illidan. Wait for Grob to drop him poison and slowly kite him around the room.

It took a couple of attempts for the DPS to learn where to drop their bombs, and for me to get my kiting down. We got better with each attempt. I remembered to tilt my camera up so I was almost looking down on him. A couple of times, I would get all the way around the room and just run out of real estate. Our final and last attempted ended with Grob having about 132k hitpoints left. Unfortuneately it was getting late so we had to call it.

Back in tBC, a night like that would have sent me into fits of apoplexy (fit of extreme anger; rage). Basically for the entire reset I saw one boss in Naxx10 die. But for whatever reason, it didn't bother near as much this time. We had tried out best and just came up a little short. I can't tell you what is different this time around, but I just seem to be much calmer about this kind of thing. Maybe it's because I know in the back of my head that those bosses I was so torque about not killing, I killed so many times that I literally didn't want to go back. I guess I just don't feel the same pressure this time.

Cracking The Vault

Friday night, I had some time to kill I figured I would go do my daily penance before the great Sons of Hodir, so that some day they would see fit to enchant my shoulder pads.

As I'm doing that I got contacted by a Snowson (Feral Druid). He was asking if I wanted to do Vault of Archavon with him. This is a 10 or 25 man raid in Lake Wintergrasp that can be accessed only when your faction controls it. Being a PVP, and generally outnumbered, it is not very rare that the Alliance on Altar of Storms owns Wintergrasp.

Snowson puts the group together. It's basically a majority Mal Katai PuG, but I was happy because I was finally raiding as Protection, and not Ret. I've enjoyed raiding Ret and I hope I get to do it again, but Protection is what I enjoy the most.

Despite my best efforts I couldn't find much on the Lore of Archavon. All we know for sure is that he is an Iron Giant guarding a Vault. The Iron Giants originally served the Titans and then came under the sway of Loken.


So I've decided that the Titans actually built Wintergrasp Keep and the Horde and Alliance are just fighting over control of a nice pre-built fortification. Underneath the Keep, the Titans left a Vault of Treasure, and guarding that Vault is Archavon. What comes out of the Vault is whatever you loot off of him when you defeat him.

Now to the actual encounter. We start pulling the few trash mobs. About a pull or two in, I got 1 shot. Not good. I look back at the combat log and see that I took a hit for 22k. Not a crit, either. At that point, I was having a crisis of confidence. Could I do this?

I was rezzed and we continued on. Before you know it, we are facing Archavon.
Snowson wants me to Main Tank so he can switch between Kitty and Bear and help out with the DPS. The fight is all about beating a hard enrage timer, and Snowson figured he could help out by providing some DPS, then switching to Bear Form when I got grabbed. See at points during the fight, Archavon will grab the Main Tank and lift him off the ground, shake him up like a soda bottle, and toss him away. While all that was happening, Snowson would switch to Bear Form and taunt him. Then when I could control my character again, I'd run over to Archavon, and taunt him back. Snowson would go back to Kitty and start scratching away at Archavon's back.

Simple really.

We had no trouble killing Archavon in one shot. He dropped some PVP gear that wasn't Class: Paladin. I really didn't care. I had finally gotten back to tanking, and I had been able to survive tanking a Raid Boss.

Even though I didn't get any loot off Archavon, I did loot 2 more Emblems of Heroism. That meant I had enough to buy the Waistguard of Living Iron. Comparison done against the Tempered Saronite Belt. Green all the way down makes for an easy choice on what to wear.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On Comparing Gear

Good Day Honors,

I am curious now that you are 80 and getting back into the swing of things with raiding how you handle comparing gear upgrades? I am a frequent reader of most blogs, Maintankadin, and tankspot and it seems like every place you look it has items listed in different positions on a best to worst list and everyone seems to think their math backs up their claims. Well I suck at math, and other than knowing I need to stay above 540 defense and work towards 102.4% after DR I am pretty much clueless and thus I depend on a lot of other peoples logic and math to assist me with looking at gear upgrades. The problem is with WoLK almost all the Tankadin experts disagree on what item is better. So in times of trouble I return to the person who has taught me the most about the tankadin class, you, for some assistance with finding my way again. Thanks for any insight you can give me.

GunningForGear of Terokkar

Making gear lists and the math behind them is one of the more fun meta-games I play with WoW. I have a good friend who now plays a Tankadin, and previously played a Warrior. We've talked for hours over the math behind the gear lists, and more often than not I learn something from each of those conversations. GunningForGear is exactly right in that there are several gear lists floating around the various sources and many of them contradict each other.

What anyone using a Gear List must keep in mind is the Golden Assumption. I first read about the Golden Assumption in a post by Ponthas(formerly Aleyona) of Srs Bsns.

So what is the Golden Assumption?

    THE GOLDEN ASSUMPTION
All theory crafting is inherently flawed because you cannot create a linear guide that will work for every situation. The individuals who read these guides are living breathing human beings with a brain of their own. They have the knowledge and capacity to understand that said guide will not always work. They have the ability to adapt and overcome these predicaments on their own and do not need to be spoon fed every possible variable involved.


Even if they disagree, Gear Lists can still be helpful. One of the main benefits of any gear list is learning what is available and how it is obtained.

Let's go real world and see if I can explain. You are wearing the crafted Tempered Titansteel Treads. You know your guild is going to clear Naxx25 this week. You look through a couple of Gear Lists. You could possibly see Inexorable Sabatons drop, and you could also see Sabatons of Endurance drop. You also discover that you could obtain Kyzoc's Ground Stompers from the Emblems of Valor you will loot from the Bosses in the run.

That is solid information and very helpful to you even if Gear List Alpha has Inexorable ranked higher than Kyzoc's, and Gear List Bravo has Kyzoc's better than Inexorable. You now know what the possible options are. But now you have to evaluate for your own circumstance.

What you really want to know is if I have Item A, and Item B drops should I bid DKP on it?

What you want to be able to do is to go to a gear list and look at Item A and see if the person who created the list thinks it is better than Item B. The problem is that Expert 1 thinks it is, but Expert 2 thinks it isn't. Remember the Golden Assumption!

What you have to do is what my Dad would call a 'Sharp Pencil Exercise'.

So let's go back to our Real World example. (And yes, I appreciate the irony of using 'Real World' example for a fictional game).

First you need to compare your Titansteel boots to the Inexorable Sabatons. You would give up stamina and defense in exchange for Block Rating, Block Value and a Socket.

The first question you have to answer is can I afford to give up 11 Defense Rating in my gear. That's about 2 Defense Skill. So if your Defense isn't above 542, then you will drop into Crittable range if you equip the Inexorable Sabatons. That's a deal breaker right there.

But if you can survive the less Defense, you have to decide if the loss of a good chunk of raw stamina is worth the gain in Block Rating and Block Value.

To my mind, you are looking at a situational upgrade with the Inexorable Sabatons. There are times when Block Value (and Rating if you are not Block Capped) are worth the loss of Stamina, but there are times when they are not. It will depend on the attack speed of the boss and how hard the boss hits. I'd love love love the Inexorable Sabatons for main tanking on Patchwerk, but I think I'd rather have the Titansteel when tanking Grobulous.

Now you have to know your loot system and what it's going to cost you to bid on the Inexorable Sabatons. After my analysis, I would put a low priority on winning the Inexorable Sabatons.

Then you look at the other drop from Naxx25, the Sabatons of Endurance. You compare them to your Titansteel boots and it's a different story. You trade a small amount of stamina for Dodge and Defense. To me, the Sabatons of Endurance look like a clear upgrade to the Titansteel Treads and I would put a high priority on obtaining them. If I was questioned as to why I didn't want the Inexorable, I would reply that what I really wanted was Endurance from Thaddius.

But what if Sabatons of Endurance don't drop for you.

The other item to keep in mind here is the Emblem of Valor Boots. The EoV Boots (Kyzoc's Ground Stompers) are very, very similar to the Sabatons of Endurance, and provide a very similar upgrade to the Tempered Titansteel Boots.

Since they are so close that this is how I would set up my DKP strategy. I would buy the EoV Boots if the Sabatons of Endurance had not dropped before I had enough EoVs to buy Kyzoc's. I would not spend much on the Inexorable Sabatons if I could avoid it. That will depend on your loot system. I certainly wouldn't let them be sharded as they do have a purpose, albeit situational.

What we try to do when we create an algorithm to rank gear is to put values and weights on various stats that the author thinks are important in tanking gear. It's a good starting point, but ultimately, you have to evaluate it each piece in comparison to your own gear and what else is obtainable.

Another great 'Real World' exercise is debating between the JC Ring (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42643) and the EoV Ring (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40718).

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Cold In Here

As soon as we were done kicking dragon butt, I started spamming Guild Chat for Heroics run. I can't control if I get invited to 10s and 25 mans, but I can take responsibility for my own 5 man runs.

I quickly found a healer who wanted to run Heoric Nexus for a Mace off the last boss. Finding 3 DPS was not difficult at that point. Since I had just completed a Heroic Nexus run the day before, I felt pretty good about knowing what to do. Of course you wouldn't have known that from the fact I wiped us on the Horde boss. See, I didn't pull him far enough back and the Death Knight in the party got feared into another group. My rogue (Sneakyfeet) kept telling me I could run out of the Bosses Whirlwind. For the life of me, I couldn't seem to time it right. The only time I actually avoided it was if I dodged or parried. Regardless, we managed to down him that time.
He dropped the Cloak of the Enemy again which I let Reddrick (Holy Paladin) take for an offset.
So we continued on and took out Grand Magus. We didn't have much trouble with her at all. I'm not sure if her spells are interruptable, but we had both a Rogue (Sneaky) and a Death Knight (Bandalia). They did a great job on taking out the adds when she split.
With that done we started working our way towards Anomalus. About halfway to him, our Mage announces he got an invite to Malygos-10 and left the party. Everyone was a little surprised. I don't know that I would have made the same choice, but I understand why he did it.
We started spamming GChat again for a replacement and soon we have another Death Knight. After he's summoned we start working our way back towards Anomalus. Our Rogue had taken the opportunity while we were seeking a replacement to take care of something which caused him to be AFK. We finished pulling to Anomalus and waited to see if he came back. After a couple of minutes, we decided to try to four man him.
It was a rough fight, and both Red (Holy Paladin) and I had to use nearly every trick in our book to survive it, but in the end, we managed to down him.
Sneaky came back and we reminded him to go loot his Emblem, but he said the boss was gone. I didn't think it would have despawned that quickly.
We continued on and pulled our way to the Tree guy. After having 4 manned what some consider the hardest boss in the place, we felt very confident in our ability to wax this guy. We started the fight and I notice I'm getting lower and lower and lower. I got distracted for just a moment looking for an Oh No! button and missed the spike spawn, which meant I ate a spike and fall damage. Wipe!
Red apologized and said he got D/C'ed. Everyone was cool and we regrouped and repulled and the Tree guy went down like a sack of bricks.
Now it's just Keristrasza and us. I would be 'jump tanking' again and watching for her root. I told Red that I would get my own cleanse so he could concentrate on the DPS.
The dragon proved to be no problem for our group. It was a perfect ending. We finished the instance, she dropped the epic Spell Power mace Red had been wanting and I got an Achievement.
The Emblems from the run put me at 40 exactly which means I'll have enough to buy a Belt of Living Iron. I mailed off the mats for an Eternal Belt Buckle to my friendly neighborhood Blacksmith. Once I get those back, I'll have a new Belt!

Sarth 25 Man

I jumped on last night and headed over to Grizzly Hills because I wanted to buy the Venture Company Libram of Retribution. Unfortunately, once I got over there I saw that the Horde had control of the area, and that the Alliance vendor was not up.

But while I was over there, I saw Cryak looking asking if anyone wanted to come to Sartharian 25. I offered my services. As has been the norm since I hit 80, I was once again told I would have to come as Ret DPS. Apparently, they had all their tank spots filled.

I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be able to go as Protection, but it would be 4 more Emblems of Valor and a shot at the Glove token, so off I went to Ironforge to respec. A few moments later, I was all set to lay down the hurt.

First pull of 4 dragons and we send in a Druid named Zelena in to grab them all. My eyes about popped out of my head when I clicked on him and saw he had over 40k health.

We burned through the trash without any problems. I managed to get myself killed on one pull. I'm not sure if it was one of those fireball things or a whirlwind. It was one of those times where you are swinging away and all of sudden you're dead.

We were originally going to try Sartharian with one Drake up, but after looking over the DPS, Cryak decided we would kill all the Drakes first. Cryak would be on Sartharian while Zelena would take care of the adds. He mentioned something about being worried about threat 'in this spec'. I thought it an odd statement, but concentrated on my job.

We engage. The fight was going well, but we lost a couple of DPS to Lava Waves. A couple of people had not seen the fight before, so it was a good first try. I was very happy with myself for two reason. Number one, I had not been hit by a single Lava Wave. Number two, I had come in in the top 10 DPSers with nearly 2k DPS.
So we regroup and get ready to pull again. The first Lava Wave comes. As I panned around to look for which direction it was coming from my hand slipped and suddenly I'm looking at the ceiling of Sartharin's cavern. By the time I got my bearings, it was too late for me to avoid the Lava Wave. It had hit about a half dozen of us. I couldn't bubble because I was using Avenging Wrath every cooldown to increase my DPS, and it had given me Forbearance. I quaffed a Health Potion, but it wasn't enough. I started to que up a heal, but it was too late and I died.

Luckily, they were able to complete the encounter without me. He dropped a Mail Helm, and a couple of tokens. I rolled on the Conqueror token, but tied with a Warlock, so we had to roll off, and I lost the roll off. I was disappointed, but there's always next time.

At that point the group broke up. I went back to Ironforge and respeced back to Prot. 100g spent for 4 Emblems of Valor. That's not a horrible deal.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heroic Double Dip

Tuesday night I logged on, not entirely sure what would be going on. As far as I've been able to to tell Mal Katai doesn't have a set raid schedule. There are currently two full Naxx10 groups running. Both those groups fromed before I hit 80. There has been talk of a 3rd group forming, but so far I haven't heard anything about it.

Not long after I logged in I saw Araxe (BM Hunter) looking for a tank for some Heroic runs. Araxe was one of the guys I was close to during my initial time with Mal Katai, so I quickly offered my shield to his cause. The group was filled with old familiar friends, Celoria (Resto Druid) and Deeslock (Warlock). Then we rounded out the group with a new face in Marktradegy (Mage).

No one had a strong preference as to which Heroic to do, so we did Heroic Voilet Hold. Now I had attempted Heroic Violet Hold once before in a PuG, but we had not been successful. The group, as most PuGs tend to do, fell apart after the first wipe. That wipe had been caused by the tank (a very humble and handsome dwarf paladin, I might add). He failed completely at Orb kiting. Granted, it was the first time he'd tried it.

For this group, the first Boss was Ichoron, the Water elemental. We didn't have much trouble with him at all. When he split apart, Araxe grabbed a crystal that destroyed all the adds. He dropped some 'blue' tanking gloves that I didn't need since I had the ones from Naxx. So everyone just greeded.

Then we fought this Voidwalker looking boss named Zuramat. He summoned little black crystal that sprayed out AoE Shadowbolts. We were taking a ton of damage. Celoria did a wonderful job keeping everyone up, but I ended up dying. We were fortunate that Araxe, Dees and Mark were throwing down some serious DPS and he was burned down before we wiped.

Cel rezzed me and we got ready for the next boss.

Our final test was the blue dragon, Cyanigosa. Basically I engaged her, and everytime she would 'eat' us, I would need to taunt right away. I received a nice compliment from Araxe (BM Hunter) because each time I was able to taunt before Cyn killed his pet.

From Violet Hold, we decided to do Nexus. I was feeling really good about the group, and really enjoying the run so far.

I went into Occulus first, but eventually figured it out and got into Nexus. Araxe was helping me get around. I had run Nexus one time as I leveled up, but I was Retribution at the time.

We used CC through out the run. Araxe got to show me the new Hunter trick called Freezing Arrow, and Celoria hibernated the Dragonkin while Mark would sheep or pig or penguin the humaniods.

We took on the Horde boss first. This is an extra boss that you only get on Heroic. The biggest challenge with him was his Intimidating Shout. Sometimes, the 'flavor' of Paladin tanks lacking a fear break doesn't taste very good to me. We pulled him far enough back that we didn't have any problems.

He dropped a tanking cloak called Cloak of the Enemy. Here you can see a comparison between Cloak of the Enemy and the Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions from Wyrmrest Accord rep. Basically, it's a trade of 2 stamina for 1 defense. These cloaks seem too much alike, especially when one is a item level 187 and the other is item level 200. I'm sorry, but something is wrong here.

You are telling me I had 13 more item level points and all I got out of it was a lousy 2 stamina, and even that at the cost of 1 defense. Either the Cloak of the Enemy is underbudget or the Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions is overbudget. I can't tell you which.

We continued on to Grand Magus Telestra. She didn't prove to be much of a problem. She would spilt up and I would Consecrate to try to get aggro on all 4 of her adds. Then she would pull herself back together.

Once she was dealt with we made out way down to Anomalus. Here again, Consecrate was key to help pickup the adds he spawned, and we burned him down with little issue. He dropped a new pair of Retribution boots for me called Rift Striders. These will replace the Trollkickers I got from questing in Zul'Drak.

Next up, we headed to the Treants area. We got stuck between two patrols and the constantly spawning little guys. That lead to us overpulling and wiped. So we ran back into the instance and took the path from the front of the instance rather than the path from Anomalus and we were fine.

Ormorok himself was pretty easy. All I needed to do was watch for the little spikes on the ground and move away from them.

Last up was the dragon, Keristrasza. I had planned to jump tank her to avoid getting stuck to the ground and taking major damage. I really wanted to get the achievement for not letting my stack of Intense Cold get over 2. What I had failed to understand was that she would basically shackle me from time to time. I was too slow on my Hand of Freedom, so I let the debuff stack too high. We had a couple of close calls, but Cel is an amazing healer and kept us all from dying.

She dropped a Flame-Bathed Steel Girdle for my Retribution set.

The group actually wanted to do another Heroic. With Cel healing, and the groups DPS, I felt like we could take on anything the game had to throw at us. I would have LOVED to have done another one, but sadly, I was out of time and had to log off.

This was the first all Mal Katai 5 man group I'd been in since I returned to Mal Katai, and I have to say it's about the most fun I've had in game in a long time. There was light banter over vent the entire night. I really missed nights like that. It's groups like this that give you that 'home' feeling in a guild. I know I won't be able to always run guild groups, and I'll still need to PuG, but I'll sure look forward to those times that I can.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back With MK

I had a pretty good idea about what I was going to do with my evening when I logged into World of Warcraft Monday night. I was going to head to Ironforge and buy the mats I needed to finish the last 5 skill points I needed in Engineering to get me to 440. Then I would craft both the Retribution and Protection Engineering Goggles. After that I would start advertising myself as a Tank for Heroics both in Guild Chat and in LFG. While waiting for a group I’d be doing Sons of Hodir quests in Storm Peaks.
It was a solid plan, and I made it as far as Ironforge. While riding my Charger down to the Auction House, I got a whisper from Cryak. As far as I can tell, Cryak is the Main Tank in Mal Katai, and helps organize and lead our 25 man Raids. He wanted to know if I was available to raid and if I would mind coming as Ret. I told him I’d love to come, but I was honest with about my DPS. It was improving, but don’t expect me to pull 2k. He told me if it was a problem they would sub me out later on. I thought that was pretty fair.
So I turn Dodge around. (Yes, I named my Charger.) A few moments later I’m respeced and ready to go. They summoned me up to Naxxrammas. Names familiar and new flooded my raid frames. I have to admit I was a little nervous. I'm fully aware of what I gave up when I left Mal Katai towards the end of Burning Crusade. Regaining and rebuilding their trust in me is something I'm just going to have to work towards.
As we approached the first boss I got a whisper from Ryken. Ryken is the Guild Master of Mal Katai, and apparently the guy who handles loot in the 25 mans. He asked me if I wanted to gear up as a tank and be a tank for 25 mans once I had the gear to do it. I told him that’s exactly what I wanted to do. He told me to bid on Tank gear. I’m thinking to myself, “Fantastic, but it’s not like I have anything to bid with.” The fact that it was my first run with them, I was sort of treating it like a first run with a brand new guild. I wouldn’t expect any loot on a first run with a new guild, so I didn’t expect any on this run.
We head into the Death Knight quarter, and start pulling towards Instructor Razuvious. I was stunned as I looked at Cryak’s and Daywin’s health bars. I had never seen 30k+ health before. On a Druid, maybe, but these guys were not Druids.
It really helped that I had JUST done this wing in the 10 man with Wichita’s group. We almost didn't do Military that night, but I was really glad that we had.

There was a good discussion between the Tanks and the Priests as they talked about Mind Controlling the Understudies. You get 4 Understudies in the 25 man compared to 2 in the 10 man. I would come to find out that this was Mal Katai’s first foray into the Military Quarter on Heroic. I listened carefully to their discussions and pulled up Maintankadin’s guide to Naxx, and scanned through the bosses. As I’m doing that I’m realizing that is talking about when I tank the encounter, not DPSing it.
It took 3, maybe 4 attempts to sort out everything, especially passing off Razuvious between the Understudies but we got him. Everyone was very excited. I wasn’t going to win any prizes with my DPS, but it was still fun being there, and I looted my first Emblem of Valor.
From there we made our way over to Gothik. This time I was on the ‘Live’ side. Gothik proved to be little trouble for our group. He dropped a Libram of Resurgence. This is an upgraded version of the Libram of Eternal Rest from tBC. When no one whispered Ryken that they were interested, he asked me if I wanted it for tanking. I tried to explain to him that I would use the Libram of Obstruction in most tanking situations. He had a really hard time hearing me over vent, so he gave the Libram to me. I went into my vent settings and turned up my outbound. Ryken whispered me and told me to bid even if I didn’t think I would win because he wanted to know who needed what.
With that taken care of, we moved onto the Four Horsemen. The fight was explained and everyone got into positions. As DPS, we were split up between the two front Horsemen. We had two Holy Paladins tanking the back two along with a fantastic Resto Druid. One of the issues Mal Katai has been dealing with is trying to get a feel for how each fight ramps up between the 10 man and 25 man versions. Some fights feel almost the same between the versions while some fights feel more difficult. Gothik had felt almost the same as the 10 man. Four Horsemen was definitely a step up.
Just like my 10 man group with Heroes we were having problems with one of the ‘Ranged’ tanks dying. And just like my 10 man group, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, we switched out one of the Ranged Tanks. The other change we made was to not split the DPS, but have all the DPS try to burn down the first Horseman before moving to the second.
This worked out better on both counts. We were able to burn down the first Horseman and make our way through the second. This opened up additional healing resources and the tide quickly turned in our favor.
With the Four Horsemen defeated I received the Achievement for the Heroic: Military Quarter.
Now we faced the deadly Chest boss. Your raid must successfully loot 25 Emblems of Valor before your Raid Leader enrages. I think we just made it under the timer.
We took a short break while people went and grabbed their Frost Resist gear. I had no Frost gear to speak of, but I went back to Dalaran and cut a few gems for people in the raid, and got 4 or 5 skillups to boot!
A few moments later, I was standing face to face with Sapphiron.
I had read on the fight and felt like I had a good conceptual understanding of what I needed to do. But understanding something conceptually and actually executing it are often two very different things.
Our first go at Sapphiron I got turned into an Iceblock. Okay, no biggie. Something happened (I’m not sure exactly what) and the Raid Leader called ‘Wipe’. I ran to the door and waited for Sap to finish off the raid.
We came back and tried again. We got to the first Ice Block stage and I spread out. WHY ARE THE ICE BLOCKS WAAAAAAY OVER THERE!! Bugger, bugger, bugger, I muttered as I dashed towards the Ice Blocked players. Despite Pursuit of Justice working for me, I was just a second too late and got nailed by Sap’s blast. I would spend the rest of the encounter inspecting Sap’s rather chilly floor.
Undaunted by the loss of my considerable DPS, and I’m sure burning with rage to avenge my death, Mal Katai hit Sapphiron with everything they had. I kept my eye on Cryak to see what he did. It looks like the real trick is getting out from the Ice Block and picking Sapphiron back up with out cleaving half your raid. Cryak did it flawlessly.
Progression, Heroic Sapphiron, Two shot.
He dropped a tank helm, and I followed Ryken’s direction and expressed my interest. I figured I had zero shot at it, but I wanted him to know I needed it for future reference. Apparently, I was the only one that bid. They really need to add a feint emote to this game. I was completely surprised and excited. Now I’m the proud owner of a Platehelm of the Great Wyrm.

Yes, it doesn’t have a Meta socket, but it certainly is an upgrade over my Saronite Helm. It’s even better than the Engineering goggles I was going to craft to start the night, and with all the Block Rating it should really help me reach Unhittable.
So now it was down to Mal Katai and KT, Kel’Thuzad himself. We assigned melee DPS into 3 groups. Our main targets would be the Aboms, and then the 3 groups would separate around KT.
We got through the initial rush of Skeletons, Aboms, and Bashees, and then Kel’Thuzad himself entered the fray. I got Ice Blast for a second time and wound up once more inspecting the cold hard tiles of the floor. I think your maid missed a spot, KT.
Mal Katai battled on though, and soon the Guardians of Icecrown were summoned. We lost our offtank, but Cryak picked them all up. You couldn’t even see Cryak anymore, he was surrounded in a mass of Crypt Lords maws. Somehow our healers were able to keep him up and Kel’Thuzad was defeated. Mal Katai had completely cleared Naxx25, and Kel’Thuzad was a one shot to boot. Amazing job!
We rezzed the dead, and passed out the loot. KT actually dropped the tanking axe, Last Laugh. I whispered Ryken that I was interested, but also told him that it really should go to one of the other tanks. He agreed, and it went to Cryak.
I was so happy that I had gotten an invite and had been there with them to experience their first kills of 4 Horsemen, Sapphiron, and Kel’Thuzad.
I know I’ve got to keep working on my Tanking gear, and I need to work on my Ret gear as well. I know they won’t always be able to take me as a Tank, so I need to be ready with my offspec gear. Man, Dual Specs can’t get here soon enough. I leveled at my own pace and I couldn’t help the two weeks I took off just after Christmas.
Bottom line, I was back raiding with my friends last night. I didn’t realize how much I had missed that. Thanks for the invite guys. I hope we can do it again real soon.

Pictures Are Worth 1000s of Words

I've been really slack on posting screenshots of my latest adventures, so here they are. Consider this something of a slide show.
First up we have Honors in his first 10 man Raid with Heroes Inc fighting Anub'Rekhan.
Now we get ready to battle Instructor Razvious.
Then we fought with Gothik.
This is how Honorshammer looked in his Prot gear at the beginning of my raiding career. I haven't actually raided in this gear yet, because I keep getting invited as Ret.
Now for the new loot I've gotten. First up, a major dent in the old pocketbook, my Titansteel Shield Wall.
This parenthetical numbers are in comparison to my old Saronite Bulwark. The mod is a combination of Ratings Buster and EquipCompare.
But I didn't stop there breaking the bank, I also got the Tempered Titansteel Treads.
This is compared to....well...themselves because I was genius enough to vendor my old Saronite Boots before I took the screenshot. Brilliant! I recognize these aren't the strongest boots going. Even the 'blue' from Wyrmrest are almost as good, but as of right now, I don't have the rep with Wyrmrest. There is also a Heroic drop that is quite good, but until it drops, these are the best I have available to me.
I also realize I've now posted a significant clue as to the identity of the generous blacksmith who helped me craft these. Allow me again to say thank you, sir!
Now to the drops that I was so generously given from Heroes. First up, the gloves.
This is compared to the Refined Ore Gloves.
Then we have the Sword.

This is compared to my old Hammer of Quiet Mourning. I haven't enchanted it yet because I wanted to see if the new patch came out today (13 January). The new Titanguard enchant will be slapped on that thing as soon as the servers come back up.
The last piece of new gear was the Tier 7 Chest.
This is compared to the Siver Plated Chestplate.
So Honors now looks a little different.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shopping Time Again

This weekend, I got invited to run Sartharion 10 again with Heroes Inc, once again as Ret DPS. I had the benefit this time of watching one of their Ret Paladins who was much better geared than I was. I didn't hold out any hope of keeping up with him in DPS, but I tried to watch to see if he did anything different than I did.

The one thing that I did notice was that he used Consecration much more than I did. I came to the conclusion that I'm being too frugal with my mana pool. I'm so worried I'm going to run OOM that I don't tend to use Consecrate in single target situations.

I also switched from Seal of Command to Seal of the Martyr.

With those changes I broke the 1500 dps barrier and posted 1700 DPS despite really poor gear. If I'm going to keep running as Ret, I need to start saving up for a Titansteel Bonecrusher. That would be the single biggest upgrade I can get. My preference would be to start running stuff as Prot, but my flexibility to go Ret when needed has meant that I've gotten to get some experience with the fights, and I've picked up some Emblems, and a little bit of gear to boot.

Case in point, I managed to win the Sack of Spoils from Sartharion, and the Emblems inside took my total to 25.

So I pulled up WoWhead to see what I could purchase with my Badges.

Hmm, there's a bunch of stuff to send to low level alts. That's nice, but not a priority. They've got a bunch of 'blue' PVP stuff you can buy. Again, nice, but not a priority for me.

All right, here's the good stuff. For tanking, they've got a necklace, a shield, a sword, a libram, a dodge trinket, and a belt.

I've already got the Titansteel Shield Wall, so I'm going to dismiss the Shield for the moment as a low priority need. I also have Slayer of the Lifeless, so the sword is also low priority.

The Libram is a big brother of the Mother Sharaz Libram that I have. The Libram of Obstruction would be 162 more Block Value every time I judged. It only costs 15 Emblems.

The neck costs 25 Emblems and is an upgrade, albeit not a huge one, over my Burning Skull Pendant.

The Belt is a nice looking piece of gear and costs 40 Badges. It would be a major upgrade over my Tempered Saronite Belt.

So the question is do I go ahead and buy either the Libram or the Neck or wait until I can collect 15 more Emblems and snag the Belt. The Belt is clearly a bigger upgrade than the Neck over what I currently have now in those slots. So despite the urge to want to go out and buy the Libram and the Neck right now because I can, I'm going to wait and save my tokens until I can afford the Belt.

Dear Honors,

Hey there, glad to hear you're raiding again. I've myself hit 80 just a bit before you posted you did, and heroiced ever since. Or tried at least. I'm currently standing on uncrit, 21K health, and 23K armor, and yet 70% of the heroic groups I try to get into say i'm not geared enough. Now,i know that good tanks at the moment on my server have 30K+ health, but, how am I supposed to gear myself, if I can't get to heroics? I got almost every rep upgrade to my gear I could get,and enchanted every stamina enchant that's better than it's fellow enchants to the same piece of gear, yet still, I can't find a group to the harder instances.What buggs me the most is that with friends, I finished HoL heroic, I even Offtanked Archavon on a time(even outthreated and lived our full epic MT), and I know I have the skill to tank almost every thing in this expansion, considering the time I spent as tank, and the fact that I leveled prot 58-80. How can I get out of this situation?

Thanks, - Hurting For Heroics, Sporeggar EU

PuGs want overgeared tanks. They always have and they always will. It's perfectly fine for the Hunter to show up with a level 75 pet, or the Mage to show up with empty sockets, but the tank better have all his gear up to snuff and then some. This was the hidden truth of the 'tank shortage'. There were always enough raid tanks, but never enough PuG tanks.

So what can you do to make the situation better. First of all, no one is going to care if you leveled from 1 to 80 as Prot or if you just respeced to Prot 5 minutes before the run.

I saw that you mentioned running a successful Heroic Hall of Lightning with your friends. That gives you two possibilities.

First of all try to run Heroics with your friends whenever possible. Get as many of them run as you can. Then when someone in your PuG questions whether or not you are geared enough for Heroic X, you simply link them your Acheivement showing you've successfully completed it. If you haven't completed that exact one, I'd link the Heroic HoL one because most players know that is no walk in the park.

Continue to gear yourself up. You can't control the RNG, but look for crafted stuff, and Badge stuff to fill out as much of your kit as you can.

Keep offering yourself to groups, but start forming your own. I know I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but start being more proactive in your grouping efforts and spend the hour in LFG and trade piecing your group together.

Put good healers on your friends list. On my server, a tank and healer can find 3 DPS fairly quickly to form up a group.