As you may have inferred from the recruitment post, we've been having attendance issues and honestly, I've been part of that problem. We made one more go of it last night but again we were a couple people short. Tachi, one of our officers, contacted another guild on our server about running with them. They ran a similar schedule to ours and thanks to Flex could accommodate our group.
We made our first combined run last night. They are starting to work on Heroic bosses and had already downed both Heroic Gruul, and Heroic Beastlord.
When our officers discussed this plan I was concerned. Out of all the roles none is affected by a situation like this more than the tanks. DPS is just extra DPS. Healers are needed as the raid size increases. But no matter if you have 10 or 30 players, you always need two and only two tanks. If they were killing Heroic bosses in all likelihood they had their tanks.
I've been offset on Ret stuff for months. Actually, I haven't even been Ret for months as I can solo just fine as Prot with Seraphim and Holy Avenger. They opted to let me tank for the night and one of their regular tanks went DPS.
So here I was again, needing to prove myself to another group of players who never heard of the man, nay, the legend, that is Honors Hammer. We started with Heroic Hanz and Franz.
Heroics don't change any of the mechanics, everything just hits harder.
A lot harder.
Surviving the Suplex was our first issue. I usually try to wait until right before they are going to cast it and sometimes I miss it. On Normal, its not too big a deal - the externals are enough to keep me alive. On Heroics, yeah...
Squish. Like grape.
But Suplex was just the first problem. Shattered Vertebrae made surviving just the Bosses melee swings difficult. Movement is also was a much bigger deal. Unlike DPS or Healers, when Tanks move to avoid the stamping plates or the moving plates, we have to make sure to not turn on backs on the boss. If we do (and I did) we take extra damage because we can't block or parry and we can get killed (and I did).
We wiped several times, but the group seem to take it in stride. Their raid leader was great. He reminded me of Kreelix, DC's fearless raid leader. He tried to ascertain the issue, calmly explained what needed to be done differently and encouraged us to go at it again. Actually, everyone in the raid from the other guild seemed pretty cool. The stamping plates pretty much one shot Healers and DPS on Heroic so getting people through the stamping phase was key.
After several wipes, we had one of those pulls that in hindsight feels almost magical.
Tanks get hit in the face, healers make the bars go up, DPS makes the bars go down. The raid moves in a coordinated synchronized dance as if they are all of one mind. The mechanics are dealt with in textbook fashion and the bosses go down with nary a death among the raid. This was the first time DC had killed anything on Heroic in BRF after downing several heroic bosses in Highmaul. We represented well on the damage meter as well with Dirty Casuals taking the top three spots.
Next would come the loot and another test for this fledgling relationship. It was decided we would leave everything to a /roll. A plate helm dropped which would have been an iLevel increase over my T18 helm but I didn't roll on it since I was loathe to break my sweet two piece bonus. The loot was handed out without any drama as far as I could tell.
We moved on from Hanz and Franz to try Heroic Thogar. I was more than a little nervous as Thogar has never been a fight I've done particularly well on and getting the split coordination down with a new tank always takes a little time.
If you aren't familiar with the fight, at one point the trains fill the middle of the raid. Your raid needs to split up and deal with each side. If you don't split the mobs on the side without any players will throw lethal bombs at the players. That is generally considered A Bad Thing. The complicating part of the split for tanks is managing the tank swap debuff. Once separated, you can can't swap anymore until the phase is over. The best thing to do is for the tank without the debuff to grab Thogar just as the split phase starts. Otherwise the debuff stacks too high and you have a tank death which is hard to recover from. It took a couple of attempts to work that out.
That was just the beginning of our struggles. The moving trains are far more unforgiving on Heroic and getting hit pretty much one shots you. With just a little bit of lag, it can look like you are clear on your screen when you are really still in the Danger Zone. (Someone cue Kenny Loggins). We made several solid attempts making it to the second split phase once or twice before we had to call it for the night.
The team was just happy to be raiding again and there is already talk of running with them again next week. They are going for a full clear of Normal BRF to get their "Ahead of the Curve" achievements. I have to be honest, it would be pretty cool to get that. I don't think I've been 'Ahead of the Curve' since SoO. Some obviously wonder if this will protend a guild merger at some point, but that isn't something I think our officers will decide right away. Basically this was a first date. A good first date where you really enjoy the food and conversation and maybe even kiss her on the cheek when you say good night. But nobody is looking to pick out curtains together just yet.
I'm fairly certain my performance wasn't impressive enough to get a regular tanking spot and I'm actually okay with that. Going back to being the backup tank might just be the best thing for me. I don't want to get into the situation again where my ability to log on each night basically decided if we could raid or not. That's not a good situation for me or the guild.
There's another IRL move coming for me in the next couple of months and I'll be AFK for at least a week or so, and while its still several months away, I know that once we get into August and September, I'm going to want to be able to have my Thursdays and Mondays available. Most guilds have people who can't raid during the summer. I'm just the opposite. I have more free time for gaming over the summer than the winter.
All this means I need to get serious about Ret again. Thanks to the way gear works in Warlods, my Ret set is actually pretty decent. All my tanking plate does double duty. The biggest problem is my weapon. I'm still using the one I got from Highmaul LFR. I also have low iLevel trinkets, and the only cloak I have is my tanking cloak with Bonus Armor tanking cloak which admittedly doesn't do much for Ret.
I don't have enough Apexis Crystals to buy anything, and I'm loath to spend my precious gold. My options at this point are limited to LFR, trying to PUG Normal Highmaul or BRF or doing PVP.