Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mid-day Quick Word..

I had, and still intend, on posting a real post later today. I was reading this on the Maintankadin forums. The topic is about being pressured to do content(which I don't feel in my guild, luckily...I'm one of the ones doing the pressuring....)

One of the posters had a great statement about what it means to be a tank, and I wanted to share for those who don't read the forum.

"When I first started learning about tanking, thinking about tanking, planning to gear a tank, I read an excellent guide (that I wish i could find right now) that had the following advice for people thinking about becoming tanks: Don't. Simply put, tanks have by far the most pressure on them of any raid role because they're always pivotal to the action. A tank has more ways to screw up than any other role. A tank cannot, under any circumstances, be cheap about enchants, gems, or even the slightest upgrade if he wishes to get respect from his guild and not be replaced by someone who's hungrier. To be a quality tank, you have to want to be the best. You have to have that bloodlust.

More will be expected of you as a tank than any other raider. Whether or not this is fair is entirely irrelevant; it is a fact of tanking. Even in pugs, you will be the whipping boy. How many "30k+ hp" trade chats have we seen for pugs? Far more, and far more significant than the spellpower requirements (also nonsense, but that's neither here nor there) for healers. If the tank dies, it will be assumed it is because he's not geared enough, even if he went 10 seconds without a heal. It simply doesn't matter. You will be blamed.

I agree with the other posters that it is likely, in time, your guild will find a tank with that bloodthirst. They will find a tank who wants to do that content with them. And you will no longer be their preference.

Decide now if you want to commit to excellence, or respec. It's not a fun choice. it's probably not fair. But as long as you continue being a tank, especially a tank in a raiding guild, people are going to ask more of you than you're prepared to give. You need to be willing to give it."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Its no wonder healers are so pissy.

I really do enjoy posting on my blog. But as is the case with several other WoW bloggers(including my own GL, the best pali healer walking the earth) sometimes real life just gets in the way. 10-11 hour days and a very very very very pregnant wife sometimes places a very large speed-bump in the way. Plus, if I'm blogging, I'm not playing Wow.

I could talk more about my favorite tank in the world, me. But every post is dedicated to him. Today I'm gonna talk about my newest 80 and how trying to play him on a random Sunday afternoon royally pissed me off.

Baratheon hit 80 on Saturday afternoon right before I switched to Nymeros to tank Ulduar. Baratheon is the 6th of 8 toons I've rolled on Daggerspine, but he's the 3rd to 80(I should give him second place over my DK, since that just didn't involve any work). As an Orc shaman, he leved his entire way as elemental, and I loved it. I did switch to enhance at 40, but it was not as fun as everyone made it out to be. I'd just leveled a dual wielding DK so I'd already done the two hand, wack everything in sight route. So elemental is what I leveled as, but as everyone knows, there is a severe drought of healers everywhere, and this holds true on Daggerspine. With an abundance of pali healers in our guild but only one priest and an offspec resto shammy, I decided to turn him resto at 80 to help out. Now as the guild's main tank, both in terms of availability and maybe content, I'll never prioritize my shaman first, but I figured I could put in the world and try to gear him up. More importantly, I wanted to learn how to heal well. I wanted to be a great tank. I was a good tank, but I stopped being afraid of PUGs, put in the money for lots of repair bills, and learned how to be a great tank. And now I think I am a great tank. Am I one of the ten best tanks on the server? No. Top 100? I'd like to think so.

Here is why, however, I may now have no desire to learn how to heal. People are assholes. I've complained before about the obsession with GS(who doesn't think this is a terrible plague on the game at this point?) but here is the point; people do 5 mans two ways now: they farm ToC for lvl 200 gear, then once they have the gear, they farm heroics for badges. The problem with this is that no one wants to do either of these with a noob healer.

But how do you expect a new healer to learn how to heal? Nobody runs regular level 70-80 instances anymore! VH? Nexus? Gundrak? Not on regular, that's for sure. People(and myself is included) did some quests, ran some BG's, and had 2 pieces of heirloom gear on. My total played time from 70-80 may have been 4 or 4.5 days. And that's a whole lot of slacking and leveling professions. So I have no practical knowledge of healing. How am I supposed to learn if every pug I enter(and I specifically entered pugs on the suggestion of my aforementioned guild leader, who for all his bluster is a top notch healer. He feels pugging and learning to deal with the best, the worst, and every possible scenario will make me the best healer possible), whether normal ToC or a low difficulty heroic boots me as soon as they A.) See my gear and/or GS and/or achievements or B.) Asks if I've healed this before. I'm not a liar; I'm an honest person to a fault. So I say no. And I got booted. From NINE pugs yesterday. NINE. Several booted me without a word. I got INTO ToC and the other 4 players, NONE of which had better gear than me(and in my defense, other than my weapon I was in all level 76 or higher blues that were very clearly for resto shamans). They said "We're farming this to get geared up. It will take too long if you keep letting us die." This is, of course, before I was even given the opportunity to let them die once.

So I spent some gold, had 3 level 200 epics crafted to fill in some weaker spots….and then I logged off. The whole effort to not have accomplished anything drained me beyond belief. I don't mention this as much as some other bloggers do, but I have been with WoW since almost launch; I rolled up my first toon 5-6 months after initial release. I've seen all the stuff change that's changed…the gear, the content, the accessable raiding…but the thing that's changed most that hurts me to see is people's demeanor. There's always been the jerks all out for themselves, but now everyone wants everything thrown at them without helping in any way.

With such an shortage of healers, helping out and befriending a new one could reap huge benefits; I remember the names of the healers and other players all the way back from before I joined Daggerspine who helped me out; and the ones that I still know I'm willing to tank anything they need at any free moment because that's what you do. So when you wonder why there's no healers to heal your heroic ToC run, its because I can't, because no one was willing to offer a little time to make me want to help you back.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting to the point...

Is not something I do very well. I am an academic…I'm 25 and spent the last 20 years of my life either as a student or a student-teacher. I tend to be wordy and spend 200 words saying what I could clearly get through in 50. This is why my posts run long and I end up not being able to get to all that I wanted to convey. I will attempt to amend this in this post, as there's a lot to get to.
Our guild(the legendary MAS…maybe not legendary, but at least notable) has made large strides in the last two weeks as a guild raiding. I feel partially responsible for us getting such a late start on making headway, since I was forced to go MIA as raid leader for the guild earlier in the year, just as we were beginning to make progress. But Ruhtra, our GL, had managed to get the guild through Naxx during my absence, and now with a surge in interest in raiding amongst guildies, we have been able to attempt every current raid in WoW(in 10man form) as of today.

In the past two weeks, we have seen Naxx, Ulduar, Onyxia, Malygos, and ToC. And finished one :)

Quick summaries…

Naxx was 8 guildies, 2 pugged members. The first two wings, Spider and Plague, went by fast, even though the group was not taking anything seriously(people rushed into pulls, paid little attention to parts of strategy, did not pay attention to pats,etc). The dps was poor, and the only reason we made progress was the two tanks(myself and our guild's most experienced tank, Scrawny) were overgeared and competant and the heals were above average. Once we reached Construct and Military, this was not enough. Yes, we got through those two wings, but at the cost of a lot of time(3 hours), a lot of wipes(5), a lot of frustration, and you get the picture. We ended at Kel, after 6 hours and much pain. I will never allow any raid to go on that long and be that painful again. It is not worth it.

Malygos was bad. Very bad. There was a lot of learning done, but we did not have the time to continue to figure it out, and a limited number of people who'd actually done it. I'm sure a few more attempts we'll get that blue bastard down, but we could not get past P2. While we had some slightly better dps, we started to run into a new problem; members of the guild who did not/would not get Vent. I cannot understand this for the life of me. No excuse of "I don't have sound of my computer" or something along those lines is acceptable. If you want to raid, you make the effort. This is more than just having your flasks and reagents(don't get me started on reagents) ready to go. It involves the real life stuff. Don't decide to not eat all day and then grab dinner 5 minutes before the raid starts. Get your addons. I never realized how easier raiding is just adding two little bitty things; DBM and Omen. Everything else is just sugar coating. DBM literally cuts out most of the "luck" involved in raiding. If you have DBM, and have faster reflexes than a drugged sloth, all you then need is to understand the fight and your role. And you can clear the boss 85% of the time.

Onyxia is a simple fight. One tank stares at her feet, the other stares at her leg; everyone else stay away from her ass. She flies, ranged goes pew pew, melee and tanks pick up 4.9 million whelps, she comes down, repeat part one. Its not a hard fight. What DOES make it hard is when your best dps can't stop going DC and your two best healers follow her into Offlineland on the best pull you get. We have the gear and the fight is easy; she will go down on our next attempt, I'm sure.

ToC, we knew going in, was going to be a massacre. Half of the raid doesn't have the gear to be in there. Over half the raid had never been in there. And even the ones who had were not comfortable explaining the fights(which I don't blame them, none of them I think had experienced that fight in any but one role). So we wiped a lot. And surprisingly, it was not(mostly) the guild's fault. People did their researched, they listened to explainations, and they responded the best of their ability. Two problems happened. One, see my previous rant about Vent. Two, we had to pug people to fill up. And we got the worst deathtard ever. Ever.Ever. I will not go into great detail about this DK(I wanted to bust him out fully, but I can't remember his name…Sunnysomething). He was there in a few 200 epics, quest blues, and resiliance gear. He did 1200 dps. He could not follow instructions…because he wouldn't get on Vent. But while I think we're a long way away from finishing ToC(and I was asked to PuG tank ToC the next day and we finished it without a wipe with a group that was extremely prepared and experienced in ToC) I now see what it takes and I do think we can at the least down Northrend Beasts soon.

Finally, Ulduar, where we're actually showing our skill as raiders and our ability to learn and work as a cohesive team. We've done it twice now. First time we downed FL, Razor, and the X002 robot guy. In our signature MAS pattern, we wiped on our first attempt on all three, and easily downed the boss on the second try. Well maybe not easily, but competantly. The second try we had to pug a heals as our raid healing priest Sactor had to back out. We picked up a very very good priest who was an immense help; we pushed her boundries with our inexperience, laid back attitude, and several longer-than-necessary breaks, but we were fortunate to have her come. After a screwup on FL, we downed it again, one shotted Razor and X002-bot and then downed…Koralon? Big titan guy, I just stared at his beltbuckle for 10 minutes. After that our borrowed priest had to leave, and we called it an evening.

I'm so incredibly pleased that a guild of incredibly opinionated, alpha-type people are managing to make progress, being respectful to each other and working hard to do their part. We're making fast, noticible progress and hopefully it continues.

P.S.On a side note, on Sunday I was asked to PuG tank H ToC, which I took up cause I still need the damn shoulders from there. And lo and behold….Sunnysomething, the terribad DK. He was once again at the bottom of the dps charts, with about a 1200 dps again. He had the nerve to tell everyone, who was looking at the charts, "What's wrong, Ive been doing 2400". Now I've spent most of my life as an asshole. I admit it, I'm a smart guy, I've done fairly well in the professions I've had, and I've got a bit of pride. But my wife has done a good job of letting me know that just because I CAN be an asshole doesn't mean I HAVE to be an asshole. But one thing I abhor is liars. Lying liars make me very angry. If you have bad gear, and you suck at your role, but no one is calling you out on it and realizing that we're carrying you, just count your blessings, take the drops, and please figure out why you suck. But if you bring the attention on yourself by referencing your dps and why you DON'T suck, make sure there's not a particular pally tank there who's seen you suck in other places. So I called him on it, and he lied some more. So I called him on his lying, and his suckage on top of that. He started to cry, and ask why I was picking on him. But he refused to admit his lying, so then I really laid into him. Then he admitted that he just hit 80 and had done the 10 man raid ToC in greens…which was ANOTHER LIE. WE CHECKED YOUR GEAR! You sucked so bad then, we had to know why. Yes you were in shitty gear. No, it was not green. So I called him out on lying for THAT as well. I frustrated him so much he left the party as soon as the Black Knight was down…without getting his badges and seals. And that's what you get for being at the bottom of dps as a dk and lying about lying about lying about sucking and lying about sucking, you liar.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My first raiding weekend in Wrath...

Went, for the most part, better than expected.

Before I get into my weekend and how my raiding went, I will say that I realized that I’m not as comfortable as I thought I was. After being back for a little while and doing heroics on a regular basis, I felt that I was very comfortable with everything. But as most people know, raiding and heroics are two very different skinned cats.

I have a very hard time NOT worrying about what everyone else is doing. Its one thing protecting 4 other people against 4-5 mobs. Its another thing keeping an eye and protecting 8-9 people against 6-10 mobs. In hindsight, running Naxx the way it was run probably did not do me any favors. But you learn in many ways.

For those who don’t know, I was the raid leader for our guild at one point. This was less because I was familiar with the raids(both in BC and then in Wrath) and more because I was organizational and willing; I wanted to raid, I wanted the guild to raid, and I felt I could do a good enough job getting them there.

I am not raid leader anymore; however, I have been pushing harder than most to get the guild raiding again. Unlike my stint as raid leader, though, it seems the guild has much more willing raiders this time around.

Thursday I got to do Naxx for the first time. I can’t lie and say it was my first time in Naxx, as I had several weeks ago jumped in for about 30 minutes and did one boss in Plague(Grob? Can’t remember) to fill in for a missing tank before I logged for the night. This time we started from scratch. I was the only raider who hadn’t seen the raid. Scrawny, who is the guild’s most experienced tank(I’ve played longer; he’s played/seen more), lead the raid. He did a great job letting me know what was expected from me in each fight. However, we had 3 pugged members and two of those, along with a guildie or two, could not be bothered to wait on instructions and/or stay organized as we made our way through that dread undead floating ziggurat.

Another problem is that people, whether it was due to lack of gear, skill, or effort, had terrible dps. The entire first 70% of the raid was carried by a single DK wearing T9 and equivilant gear. The only wipes we had were after he left; our dps was just terrible. When your two tanks are in the top 5 dps for the raid, there is a problem. If not for having 3 healers and 2 competant tanks, we would have embarrassed ourselves in the entry level raid. Overall, I’m still rather shocked that we only wiped 3 times the entire raid; Horsemen, Instructor, and Kel. Kel was a wipe simply because it was 2:15am and the raid had been going on for 6 hours. We were down to about 5 of the original 10 raiders and fatigue had set in. Also, again, one or two of the people who stayed were severely hindering the raid. I’ll take a cue from my GL and not say names, but dying on every boss and being last in dps(including tanks) from a class that’s normally near the top means you shouldn’t have been there.

Ironically enough, I got every piece of loot from every boss in the entire raid, minus 2 pieces. This was due to the fact that every single boss dropped its piece of healing plate. And I was the only paladin in the raid and not a single person there was a DE. So now I have, more or less, an entire holy set. I had no intention of dual-speccing with my paladin. I have a 77 shaman that will be resto so I can have a healer. I have an 80 blood DK for a melee dps class. And I am leveling a hunter to have a ranged dps class to be able to contribute in any way. I don’t feel like trying to keep up with 2 or 3 sets of gear for each character when I can just use a different character. I understand the “switching on the fly” bonus, especially during raiding. I just don’t like it. However, it’s a shame to waste all that gear(and some of it is very nice gear) and the guild is terribly short of healers (Its also terribly short of tanks, but what can ya do?). So I guess at some point in the near future, I will gem and chant up that gear and purchase my dualspec and figure out how to heal with the guy. Not that I’m gonna make it any sort of a priority, because I have healed on a paladin before, and I hated it. True, that was……pre-BC. I’m sure things have changed. We’ll see.

My Ulduar experience to come next…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No, I didn't forget about you..

But I'm soooooo tired...

My lack of blogs over the last two weeks are due to really, one thing; exhaustion. The toll of 10-11 hour days, plus the demands on my free time by a nearly 8 month pregnant wife has left me little time to sit and think and type. But as I finished lunch early today, I figured I'd try to get something in.

I decided late last week to stop being the only person left in WoW anywhere without a hunter, so I rolled one up. And, obviously, its absurdly fun. I've only logged 6 or 7 game hours but I'm at level 21 and leveling is absurdly easy with two pieces of heirloom gear. Other than one time I pulled about 7 mobs(you can take the tank out of the boy....) I haven't died and everything has been a breeze.

We get mounts at 20? WTF?

As I noticed a little message in my inbox at level 20, I thought it had to be a mistake. I know I missed alot during my time away, but riding at 20? I just freaking got Aspect of the Cheetah like 4 levels before! And its only like 5g for the training and the mount now. Just silly.

I've gotten lots and lots of new gear(who hasn't?) on Nymeros. I've decided that I absolutely have to break myself of the belief that I can't tank something, or that I should be afraid to tank something. I am, in fact, a pretty decent tank. I've been doing it a very long time, and I've realized that other than a few exceptions, this is what my mindset should be:

If you are skilled with your class/role, and you have decent gear, you can do anything.

Really. Due to my limited time every evening, I've only been doing Tournament dailies(finally got Exalted Argent Champion of the Horde, or whatever the massive freaking one is, last night). But last night I got asked to tank H ToC. Now I'd only done reg ToC twice, and was warned by guildies that the heroic version was a pain. Now, I have about 33k hp unbuffed(and about 35-36 with Sanctuary and MotW thrown on), nearly 102% avoidance when Holy Shield is up, and about 27k armor. I'm not rolling around in T9, but I'm not in quest blues either.

And the heroic was easy. Even when the healer went down 3 seconds into the Black Knight and I got through 80% of the fight without one, it wasn't hard. Even with the cleric chick with the old boss summon. Because I had decent gear, and I was aware of how to play my class and carry my own weight. Which makes me sad, because...

I want to do Naxx, but I know I'm overgeared for walking into Naxx for the first time. If I go with anything resembling a competant group, I will be disappointed with what I thought would be a challenge. I've never been so far behind raid progression, and its depressing.

I did part of MC(as a 60), and AQ 20 and ZG as a level 62. I did Kara multiple times at 70, and did a some of ZA. And I never succeeded, but I tried Gruul's multiple times.

But I've been 80 for nearly a year, and running heroics nearly that long, and I haven't done the entry level raid. And the guild members that I feel comfortable with running the raid: Ruhtra, Eus, Edyion, Scrawny, Stig, and some others have already progressed to Ulduar, and ToC, and more. What interested would they have in taking hours of their free time to do a raid they have no benefit in running?

Nevertheless, I'm going to give Naxx, and maybe more raids, a shot this weekend. I'm tired of feeling I've wasted my weekends waiting to do a guild raid and having it fall apart. No one is to blame for this but me; I was the raid leader for MAS at one point, and I know what it takes to get it together. If I want it done, I need to get it done myself.

On a final note, to let off some steam I think I'm gonna do a little more pvp. I just respecced my DK to blood from unholy as I didn't like how he was playing since I returned. I plan on giving it a shot on Friday when I'm off work and seeing how I do. I've never done much pvp, so maybe I'll like it, since I won't be playing a prot pali :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

My WoW Weekend...

I had not intended on playing WoW at all this weekend; my wife and I had a planned trip to our college alma mater, the University of Mississippi(Ole Miss for those in the South and sports fans) to see our home football opener. However, this fell through early in the week when we realized my wife is just not in good enough condition to travel 6 hours, now that she's 7 months pregnant. Therefore, we had a weekend at home.

I had a fairly preductive weekend; gaining several gear upgrades and lots of achievements.

I had every intention of full-steaming ahead with leveling Bara to 80, and Friday morning started off as such. Our resident guild mother(and my resident therapist, God Bless her) Eus was on her hunter and wanted me to level in AV with her, which I was happy to do. After about 4 hours of that, and nearly and entire level later, I gave the BG's a break after lunch when the wife came home from her halfday, and after doing my dailies on Nym, I gave WoW up for the day.

Saturday and Sunday were different stories altogether. Nym was on-call for tanking duty, and he was certainly used. 5 ToC runs, 3 heroics, 5 Direbrew fights, and a 10 man run of the three Watchers in WG. I'm certainly feeling very comfortable again with my tanking, and confident to take on more difficult challenges. Having great heals from our top quality healers in my guild certainly did not hurt, either. I also grabbbed lots of gear, upgrading my hands, waist, legs, feet, and trinket.

A few things I've noticed, as someone who was gone for a long time and has recently returned to the game:

1.)Pugs, for the most part(and pugged players, in extension) are much more competant now. I'm sure this is a result of more time with the content; however, even at the end of BC after two years with the content, people still couldn't figure out their a$$ from a hole in the wall. It just seems that either the players are learning their roles better, or.....

2.)The content is stupid-easy. I know, I know, I've seen this said by everyone from Blizzard programmers all the way down to George W. Bush(just kidding, he still hasn't even seen Naxx). But for someone who left 3 months into WotLK and was grinding heroics to get geared for Naxx(looks like not everything has changed) and heard how even geared people could get slaughtered if they didn't know the fight, things have changed. I sauntered into Naxx halfway through for the first time last week, on Grob. I, along with 4 other members of the 10-man, had never seen Naxx. We swept through our first two bosses in Construct Quarter without a wipe with half the party just winging it. I OT'd and never came close to dying, neither did Jake, our MT. And it was with 2 healers(we had a 3rd, who was incompetant to say the least). I know its the entry content and once I get into Ulduar soon and then on from that, I may eat my words. But for now, someone who has essentially been playing for two weeks has been kicking ass.

3.)Blizzard seems to try REALLY hard to make the game fun. They really do. Cataclysm will probably be the best X-Pac to any MMO I've ever played, and I've played a few(WAR, SWGO, EVE). But once you get to 80, most of the Now, I play WoW in this percentage:

PvE content/raiding/heroics-50%
Social interaction/guild/crafting/Bullshitting-40%

And that PvP is regligated to two areas: AV and World pvp.

But if it happens that you just can't be on at the "appropriate times", the game can fall flat for you. I work 4 10 hour days, Monday-Thursday. That leaves about an hour free Mon-Thursday night I can't do much more than check my AH. My play times are Friday/Saturday/Sunday, from about 8am until about 9pm. And I know that part of this is my fault due to my availability, but as a tank I find my options limited. Yes, I can pug heroics. But what else? I'm worthless in Arena. And in BG's. And dailies only take so long. I think more effort should be put into things that can be done alone once you're 80 to keep you involved. I think I've heard that Cataclysm will do some of these things, like more rewards for putting more effort into your crafting, or things to do for your guild that will up its level and advancement.

Ahh, that's a long rant. I had more to say, but it can wait until later. Next up, the pain of trying to find time to level/play an alt that no one needs when they do need your main. :)