Saturday, 31 January 2009

Fourth Naxx raid

A strange raid last night, but ultimately very successful. I logged on to find out one of our healers had gone into labour (4th child), and her husband (raidleader and main heal), plus two other family members (both mages and supposed to be in the raid) had rushed to help. So with the thought uppermost that RL was most important, I found some replacements and led the raid through the Spider and Construct wings.

We had one of our guild MTs with us - a prot pally who tanked pretty much everything in TBC and WotLK to date. I think he was even prot in vanilla warcraft. This guy was raid MT, and is great in stuff like this because he really knows what he's doing. He kept us going at a good pace all night, and there was a really good raid atmosphere.

The Spider wing was pretty smooth - I tanked Anub again and the intervene method is really really good - I just don't get hit by the locust swarm at all. It requires the rest of the raid to be on their toes to outrange it, but I stressed this firmly and repeatedly before the kill so everyone was well aware.

All the bosses in the Consturuct wing were new to me, but we one-shotted Patchwerk (me as MT) and Grobbulus. We took three tries to get Gluth, and it was one of those really satisfying fights where you come up with a strategy, it doesn't work, you adapt and succeed. We started with a dps-spec DK trying to kite the zombies with the help of a hunter and a resto shaman, but he eventually got caught and killed. Having wiped twice, I came up with a new, less subtle way of doing things - I figured that the DK could tank the boss for 8 seconds at a time so long as the healers were aware - he could pop bone armour, and only needed to keep the boss' attention for the debuff to expire from the MT. This prevented the debuff stacking more than four times on the MT. Meanwhile, I tanked all the zombies - I didn't bother with kiting - I just tanked them all on the grate. Occasionally I stunned them all with shockwave and ran away, but that was all. With some excellent healing I survived until right before the end, by which time we had the kill sewn up.

Thaddius went down second try - the first wipe was my fault because I got my left and right mixed up and ran to the wrong side. I had to write it down in the end, but the boss was otherwise pretty easy.

Great raid.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


Finally got it!

Monday, 26 January 2009

How to stay sharp

Most of what Veneratio has to say is worthwhile reading. Here's an old post from 15 months ago or thereabouts

It doesn't all still apply of course - AoE tanking in particular is much easier now, although even I remember the old days of Shattered Halls before glyphs and damage shield (but not the old old days when thunderclap couldn't be used in defensive stance).

The one thing that leaps out for me from here is to pull quickly. If you set a challenging pace for your group then they have to stay focussed and they don't have time to go and get a coffee, or to get bored. Nothing kills the hungry mood of a group than waiting for 2 minutes between pulls for the puller to chat to his mates in /g.

Keep an eye on healer mana though eh? And if the warlock has just lifetapped his way to full mana he's unlikely to be too happy about you pulling if the mobs do AoE.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Got asked to join a Naxx10 group last night. A very messy run - we started at 4horsemen (continuing from a previous night), and almost everyone was new to this boss encounter. We wiped 4 times and gave up, much to my disappointment - the first two wipes were due to a bad setup for the two caster bosses, while the last two were comedy wipes caused by a new healer who was running her first ever instance and was frankly pissed.

Ho hum.

Then we one shotted Noth and tried Heigan and it all went off the rails again. I disconnected during the Noth encounter for a couple of seconds, and then disconnected regularly for the rest of the night. I just could not stay online. I have no idea why - this is the third time that this has happened, each time it's happened in an instance and then WoW has been unplayable for the rest of the night. It isn't a connection problem for me, since I can still reboot and then surf the web, but every time I try to load warcraft I disconnect.

Soooo frustrating! It wouldn't be so bad if it happened outside an instance, but as a tank if it happens then you sit there looking at the loading screen knowing that 9 other people are tearing their hair out. Bah, stupid game.

PS My connection was fine today. Ran UK and UP heroics. Still no bloody sword - that's five tries now. Assuming a 25% drop rate (whatever wowhead says there are four epics on his loot table and he drops one of them) then the probability of running the instance five times and not getting the sword is 3x3x3x3x3/4x4x4x4x4 = 243/1024. Ie about 25%. I am officially unlucky. 15 more badges for my T7 chest.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Gear list

I've been making a list of what gear I still need to upgrade to epic. I figured I'd post it here because then I won't lose it. I've neglected Malygos for now, since that is a long way off for me.

Shoulders - There are some BoE epic shoulders which I could buy for about a bajillion gold. I won't be doing that, so I'll be interested in the shoulders which drop from Patchwerk, or the T7 shoulders which can be acquired from Loetheb.

Chest - The T7 piece from the Four Horsemen (or badges), or the drop from Sapphiron

Cloak - Sartharion drops a decent epic cloak, or there is a crafted cloak which has no defence on it and so I will probably avoid.

Bracers - Hmmm, this is where I start to struggle. There is a set that drop from trash in Naxx (I remember waiting for a year for the shadowpriest necklace that dropped from trash in Karazhan. It finally dropped when I was raiding on an alt...). I won't hold my breath for this. The alternative is a 25% drop from the last boss in Old Kingdom heroic. That's it.

Weapon - Red Sword of Loveliness from UP Heroic or the Slayer of the Lifeless from Gothik. Since the latter was "foretold by Salzman" it is much cooler, and so I'll go for that one if possible.

Ranged weapon - There's a gun that's crafted by enchanters. Not aware of anything else. I've got the rare thrown weapon with +defence on it, and there are no other upgrades.

Ring - Both Anub'rekan and Sartharion drop tanking rings. I already have one epic ring.

Trinket - There are epic tanking trinkets that drop in Naxx10 (two of them I think - will need to check) and a badge trinket. I'm pretty happy with my trinkets at present, and can't spare the badges for the epic one. I will not bother too much here, unless something drops for me.

So outside raids I need to focus on badges (another 40 will get me the T7 chest), and Old Kingdom and UP heroics. These two instances have a chance of getting me the last pieces of epic gear available. I also need to take my Naxx run to Sartharion when I get chance, as that bad boy seems to have two items on his loot table that he is literally dying to give me. Some light questing should get me the 1200g that the crafted gun sells for on the AH (or failing that I know an engineer who should be able to make it).

Thursday, 15 January 2009


Why is Warcraft so addictive? Let me count the ways:

1) The game engine itself is complex and well designed.
At level 1 of course the game is simple, but by the time you reach level 80 the optimum rotation is usually challenging. PvP, for all its current imbalance, requires and rewards skill, while PvE requires tactical thought, co-ordination and (to a lesser extent) everyone to play their class well. It's a fun game to play.

2) The game is beautiful
There are very few games that approach the status of art. The GTA series of games are certainly art, and warcraft is certainly not, but at times it does come close (from moonrise over Loch Modan, to the Northern Lights in Icecrown, with many highlights in between).

3) The game is social
I would have quit the game long ago if it hadn't been for my guild (who I've been with for over 3 years now). I've met some interesting and friendly people, and I've known them (virtually at least) for a long time.

4) Respect
How easy is it, in the real world, to get respect from people? It's quite hard I think. You have to impress them with your force of personality, your physical ability, your charm or your intelligence. You then have to make them aspire to emulate you. In Warcraft all you have to do is hang around in Dalaran in your T7, while riding on your Amani Warbear.
I remember a UBRS pug a couple of years ago. We were having the usual problems dragging a bunch of no-hopers through the dungeon, and our healer left. I asked my druid friend (now a tank, but healer spec at the time) to join us. He turned up in his full epics with 4 or 5 pieces of T1 gear, basically looking like something that had been dragged through a hedge backwards if I recall how the items looked. Our group leader immediately said "Now THIS is a healer" and began deferring to him in every decision. I laughed a lot about it, but by coming along to a few 40 man raids (and in those days you would drag anyone along just to make up the numbers) he immediately earned the respect of people who hadn't done that content.
Nowadays I have 25k health unbuffed and epic/blue gear. This has been mainly earned through grinding heroics but even this mediocre gear is sufficient to get me preferential status and respect in pugs.

5) Goals
In real life, if you do something positive, or that requires hard work, you don't often get an immediate tangible reward. In warcraft you often do - gold, rep, purplez, whatever. It feels like you've achieved something if you gain 5,000 honour in a day, whereas effectively you've been playing tetris for three hours and have achieved precisely nothing. The illusion of actual achievement is very powerful though.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Oh ye of little faith...

We had our second night of Naxx yesterday.

I rotate the leading of the raid with a friend of mine (a holy paladin), and he wanted to do Maexxna first. I am at heart a bossy control freak, one of those guys who insists on explaining everything to everyone and attending these raids as someone other than the leader is a little difficult for me. I recognise that if I try to take over all the time I will just piss people off, so despite some misgivings over whether we would be able to take down Maex I held my tongue and we gave her a shot.

It went well in the end - we wiped about 5 times, pretty much all on the enrage. Most of the wipes were I think because I was positioning the boss badly, and we were losing people to the cocoon because they were too far away to rescue in time. On our ultimately successful attempt the boss positioning was better and despite going 2 web wraps into the enrage, they were able to keep me up. I'd heard that a second web wrap is usually fatal, but I used shield wall for the first (she was hitting me for 4k max), and all my regen cooldowns for the second (plus having 2 HoTs on me). We got two pally healing items, which is excellent news because once our pally is geared up he'll be a really really good healer.

We then took on Noth and, to my delight, one-shotted him. I was tanking the adds, which was fairly straightforward, although the AoE mobs caused problems during the second teleport phase. We had a real "uh-oh" moment on the last curse, as both of our more reliable mages were dead (to the AoE), and our most junior mage was the sole decurser. Since a missed decurse would have meant a wipe, I was halfway to headbutting the screen in frustration when I saw that he'd decursed flawlessly, and we then proceeded to kill the boss. I had a warm and fuzzy feeling. I had a second warm and fuzzy feeling a moment later whent the boss dropped the tank boots for me.

Monday, 12 January 2009

A fellow blogger

I liked this guy's blog

It made me feel like I wasn't alone.

EDIT Reading this again today that looks a bit bleak. It's just heartening to see that this guy is clearly having the same problems and challenges that I'm having, just a few weeks ahead. He appears to have more time to play than I do though, the blighter.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Have courage.

I'm always quite cautious when it comes to doing new content - I'm always really worried that I will let the group down, and so get quite stressed about learning the instance beforehand, bringing consumables, making sure my gear is high quality and enchanted etc. I find that this has got worse as a tank, since if the healer can't keep me up then the instance is a non-starter.

This is why I've been farming heroics so hard recently - to make sure I have the best gear going into Naxx that I can. This is starting to pay off, and there only two ways I can improve my gear via instance drops are now bracers and weapon. The epic bracers drop from the Old Kingdom (which I have never done) and the oh-so-desirable Red Sword of Courage drops in Utgarde Pinnacle heroic, which I did for the first time last night.

I'd avoided UP heroic because I'd heard it was very tough. I was wrong. It is very easy, apart from the last two bosses. We AoE'd down the trash, with me often tanking four melee mobs at once and rarely going below 75%. Our dps was poor - with me second on the charts, but it was absolutely fine - even on the third boss, once I'd worked out that we had to rush the end as fast as possible then we had no problems. I'm now going to run this instance until I get the sword. It will be mine. Oh yes.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Welcome to hell

Well, here I am, bloodied but unbowed.

We got down 2 bosses in the end - Anub'rekan and the Grand Widow.

Many wipes on Anub - I think about 12, including one heartbreaker at 2%. I initially had some real problems with the kite - I would start running as soon as the cast animation began, but would still accrue multiple ticks of the debuff which just couldn't be healed through. After a while we changed it and I intervened on my healer using a macro - this was much better, but required me to kite the boss on the inside of the slime ring rather than the outside, and there were countless occasions where I lost people to the locust swarm who were standing too far over. Getting Anub made me remember how good raiding can be - I don't care that Naxx is supposed to be super easy - we had some newbie raiders, some undergeared people, and 5 of us (including me) had never seen Naxx before.

Widow was fun - was totally chaotic with people ignoring instructions and killing adds all over the place. The first time we ran out of worshippers at 75% (!!!). The second we ran out of worshippers at 20-25% and she immediately nuked our MT down. I'd been (badly) offtanking the adds, so I taunted her, slammed on shield wall, then as that ran down used shield block and last stand + enraged regen. Once that all ran out (25 seconds) I called for spam healing from the healers. She went down nicely and we didn't lose anyone else.

Can't wait to go back.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Jam tomorrow

Tomorrow I'm leading my first raid of the expansion, to 10 man Naxx. I am *very* excited about it. The group I'm taking is a real mix, but generally my role in the guild is to take people outside the core players. Our hardcore team have cleared everything in the expansion now except for Malygos 25 and the hardmode Sartharion, but for a number of us this is our first time in any WotLK raids.

I have two real newbies coming along who have little or no raid experience at all outside of Karazhan and so I am a little worried about those guys but otherwise we should be fine. I have 1 healer in T6 and MH epics, and a second in blues, but our third is well geared, and I have three very good dpsers.

I hope to knock off the easy bosses - Anub, Faerlina and Noth, and then I will have a think about what to do next. Realistically, we will probably only get time for four bosses, but it would be great if we could do all four to give us some experience and confidence for future weeks. Oh, and a bit of gear, obviously.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

It's only a game

My luck on epic drops appears to be turning - I got an epic belt from Azjol Nerub last night, and a rare trinket on the same run. It was really smooth and I am starting to feel really comfortable with that instance now. With the rare trinket I was finally able to replace the trinket you get at level 61 in Hellfire Peninsular - the quest is called Overlord. My other trinket is the Netherwing Revered trinket, which is not a tanking trinket per se but has 45 stamina on it so will do until something better comes along.

Flushed with success, I went into VH heroic with some friends. We had a strange group composition - a mage, DK, holy priest and holy paladin - and it was one of those late night groups where everyone is there because you are mates. In the end our lack of dps, combined with my unwise kiting strategy on Icheron, did for us and we gave up after a couple of wipes on the second boss. We could have done it, and it galled me not to complete what is an easy heroic, but it was late and we all had work in the morning.

The nadir of the instance run however was when a rare tanking trinket (which would have been my second of the night) dropped from Laventhor. The holy paladin needed it, and then won the roll. I must confess I nearly lost the plot at that point and I had to get a large dose of perspective, telling myself repeatedly that:
- he's a mate
- mates are more important than warcraft
- it's only a trinket for goodness' sake
- he wants to tank eventually and so will use it
but I was a little disappointed, to put it mildly. Hey ho. I congratulated him on it and left it there. I guess I will have to keep running the instance until it drops again, although the chances are quite low (I think about 10% in any run). In hindsight it was probably a good idea that we didn't clear the instance, because if he'd rolled on the epic tanking leggings and won those I think I would have thrown my toys out of the pram quite spectacularly.

Friday, 2 January 2009

On the importance of skill

It is amazing the difference that running in a good group makes. I ran DK heroic last night - my second time in the instance having done it on normal while levelling. We had a paladin healer in (gasp) blues and purples who really impressed me. Very professional, knew the instance, and the healing was flawless. We cleared the whole place in about 45 minutes with no wipes. On the raptor boss (who apparently hits hard) I don't think I went below 50% health at any point - and I was tanking an add plus the boss for most of the time.

The rush from an instance like that is the reason I got into tanking, and is something I hope to get more of. Grabbing an epic ring from the last boss rounded the evening off nicely.

I have decided to group only with skilled players who have good gear in future.

I also think that it is possible that my early trouble with heroics may have had something to do with my gear. Since I have added about 4k health and armour, and about 5% avoidance (now sitting at 23k-ish health and armour and 37% dodge+parry) I have started to find the whole experience significantly easier. This I find heartening.