Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Feeling a bit happier today.

Ran VH again last night - much smoother and cleared it again without the shield being damaged. Picked up some rare gloves from the water guy, which is a fun fight, to replace the Daunted ones. We then ran CoT heroic for the daily. That involved about 9 deaths on my part, although none on bosses oddly enough. They were all to do with bad pulls - one where the dpsers were charging ahead to the next group and ran straight into them and wiped, one where the dragonkin spawn all round you, etc etc.

I think perhaps part of the reason I've been feeling discouraged about the whole tanking experience is that I'm quite a long way behind other guildies in terms of gear and experience. They talk blithely about farming heroics, whereas I haven't been to these places before and, while I am clearing them there is some difficulty. I hope that this will all be solved by a little gear and a lot of experience.

I think my tanking in general has improved since I started. I still really struggle when dps classes pull aggro (ie by nuking the wrong mob etc). When I have two elites with aggro on me, one of whom is a caster, and I have to run around grabbing aggro back or collecting incoming adds then I find it really challenging. I know the right thing is often to let the dpser die, to each them to be more careful about who they target, but it's hard to do that with friends.

Nevertheless, it's getting easier. VH again tonight, and maybe AN if I can find enough victims, erm, guildies I mean.

Monday, 29 December 2008



What a frustrating evening. Slightly drunk after a RL party - tanked VH heroic for the first time. We got the VW boss and there was a wipe there while everyone learned the fight, but the instance was otherwise really good and we got the Defenceless achievement. Then my evening started to go wrong - didn't get the tanking leggings drop, but hey, hakuna mattata.

Then tried to run HoL normal again. Wiped three times on the first boss. It was the first time any of us had done it, and we didn't know enough to fight him without his buff, so the healer just could not keep me up and left in a huff, presumably assuming that it was not his fault. (Tip - you have healing spells other than flash heal...). Bah. I was being MS-ed for over 10k, plus 5k cleaves and 2k normal hits.

Friday, 26 December 2008

First level 80 tanking experiences

So anyway, I jumped straight into a couple of instances.

1) Halls of Lightning (normal)

Joined a PUG who'd lost their tank after the first boss. The group was under-levelled - with an 80 retadin, 75 healer, 76 dps warrior and 78 hunter. We zerged the instance quite quickly, AoE-ing everything down. We struggled for dps quite badly on the bosses - the hunter and retadin topping out at 1200 or so with me at 800-ish and the dps warrior nowhere. Neither the sword nor the trinket dropped for me, so the run netted me some rep, plus experience of Loken which will help in the future. I'll need to go back at least once more, since I'm some way from being uncrittable and the defence bonus from http://www.wowhead.com/?item=36993 will really help.

2) The Nexus (heroic)

A whole different kettle of fish. I joined up with two of the officers from my guild, who are serious raiders, the GM of one of the top raiding guilds on the server, and one of their mates who is again one of the top ranged dps toons on the server. V scary therefore.

I ran the Nexus on normal about a month ago, and I had pretty much forgotten it. We wiped three times - on bosses 1, 2 and 4 - and at least two of those were my fault because I didn't know the bosses. The whole instance was fairly traumatic - we had a shadowpriest who had VE on for bosses and I really struggled to stay ahead of her on threat, we didn't use much cc or marking (not my call - I asked for marking on the tougher pulls and generally got it, but most of the time I was just trying to keep aggro on everything).

I picked up http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37728 on the first boss, which was a huge upgrade for me, which is really helpful, and got a chunk of rep. I also now feel confident I know the bosses, so again that is useful. Nevertheless I was really shown up I think for the novice tank that I am, and I need to focus more on:

- Shield Block - I turn it on at the start of the fight but then need to remember to push it on cooldown. It is such a huge ability in terms of mitigation that it's of huge importance to get maximum use out of it.

- Threat - When I remembered to use HS on each swing my dps (and hence threat) went through the roof. The problem I find with tanking is that there is so much going on all the time that it's hard to get into a smooth routine. Even if you don't have to move and you can just sit there you need to remember your GCD moves - to keep your debuffs up, to revenge when it lights up and to use SS on cooldown. Add to this your non-GCD moves such as Shield Block and Spell Reflection and using HS kind of gets forgotten. If you have to move the boss about then I just end up hitting buttons sometimes and my dps falls away really badly.

I think that it will come with practice - this was only like my 8th instance run ever as a warrior tank - but right now it feels like I have a long way to go.

Ho ho ho

My new PC arrived on Christmas Eve and it's a real beast. It's like playing a different game with all the settings up to maximum and a new bigger monitor. I celebrated by dinging 80 at last. Oh and opening some presents etc.

Monday, 22 December 2008


I am at heart a bit of a closet roleplayer. This is I admit one of the reasons I like playing a warrior so much, although it works pretty well for warlocks also. As an example, on my warlock alt I have a macro that goes

/cast summon succubus
/say Arise thou foul strumpet! I require thy service! Give heed!

and another that goes

/cast drain soul
/say Mwahahaha! Your soul is mine!

This is amusing for a while, and serves to wind people in your group up no end. To indulge my RP side on my warrior I have macroed a couple of /y commands to use after a boss kill in dungeons and raids.

/y Rex Aegyptus sum!

(from Robert Westall's book "The Cats of Seroster"), and

/y Who's fucking next?

(from the excellent "The Steel Remains" by Robert Morgan). I am trying to think of some others.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


Some of the other warriors in my guild were having a strokie-beard meeting about blocking yesterday, and the consensus is that they expect a nerf pretty soon.

Apparently it is already possible at T7 level to build a "crush immune" set so that every attack is blocked irrespective of whether Shield Block is activated, and one therefore wonders whether this will be the norm at T8 and beyond, which would put Druids and DKs at a serious disadvantage.

My theorycrafting is pretty rule of thumb, but I understand the general principle that diminishing returns are necessary at high levels of gear, because "expected time to live" (ETTL) increases exponentially rather than linearly at high gear levels.

Example - suppose you are fighting a boss that hits you every second for 100, and you have 1000 health. You would therefore expect to live for 10 seconds without a heal landing. Now add 25% avoidance - you would expect to live for 13.3 seconds. Add a further 25% avoidance and you would expect to live for 20 seconds. You have therefore had more benefit from the second slice of avoidance than the first.

All those clever people at EJ and Tankspot have done some pretty graphs to work this out in detail (for example http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f200/37241-power-avoidance-preliminary-results.html ), but you get the idea.

Anyway, this is why I could understand Blizzard applying DRs to avoidance in Wrath of the Lich King - I had thought that the DRs would smooth the ETTL graph to a line, in the same way as the armour DRs, although I now understand there are different curves for parry and for dodge, for some bizarre reason.

Block value (and to a lesser extent block rating) still however provide an exponential benefit to ETTL for a linear increase in gear and since Druids and DKs can't benefit from this I guess there will be nerf sooner or later.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Slow going

Due to work and family (my daughter is 5 months old and not sleeping much) I am still not level 80. And now my computer has decided to self destruct with some kind of hardware problem. I am literally champing at the bit.



A bit about me to start with.

I started playing Warcraft in mid-2005 and it has exerted a depressingly firm grip on my free time since then. I initially played dps classes - a mage in vanilla Warcraft, and a shadowpriest in the fiery hell of Outland. I enjoyed the caster dps role very much - the big numbers rolling round give me a warm fuzzy feeling, and certainly my fire mage had a huge "bang" factor. Nevertheless, I spent a great deal of time raid leading in Karazhan and Zul'Aman and, while one of my close friends is a very talented bear tank, I often struggled to fill the second tank slot. It also struck me how reliant a raid is on a skilled, geared and experienced main tank. Just prior to the launch of Wrath I was therefore inspired to roll a warrior, Everblue, and this I hope will be my story of MTing in Northrend.

I've got a family and a job, so remain assuredly a casual player, but have the excellent fortune to be a part of a raiding guild which achieved some success to date. I do have some raiding experience therefore - I was at our second ever Ragnaros kill and a few first kills in ZG, plus first kills of Tidewalker and Gorefiend pre nerf. My guild was the 5th Alliance guild on our server at the end of TBC, mainly due to our excellent GM and officer/classeader team, and some very good players.