Thursday, 23 July 2009

Main tank death

Your main tank in a raid is dying. What could the reasons be for this?

1) Your tank is undergeared for the encounter.

Go back and get more gear. In a 10 man encounter I personally think that the tank should have enough health to survive three melee swings in a row. This means that where the boss swings for 12k, you will preferably have 37k health. This means that even if you get a relatively unlucky avoidance streak your healers should have about 6 seconds to get a heal in before you die.

In general, it's a good idea to consider your tank's buffed health as a multiplier of boss melee damage. If the boss hits for 15k, for example and your tank has 29k health, then two consecutive unavoided (and unblocked) melee strikes will kill the tank. This will happen very often, and so you need very intense healing on the tank to keep him alive.

2) Something in your strategy is wrong

Perhaps your healing assignments are off, or you are having range/LOS issues. Consider carefully whether or not there is something you could change in your strategy to make the raid's job easier. It may be that you need to change your healers round, or that for certain periods you need a second healer to help healing the tank.

3) Your tanks are messing up

Are they tanking Steelbreaker so that he's standing in the blue runes? Is Razorscale being tanked in the blue fire? Anything blue, runic or on fire is generally bad for tanks or bosses to stand in.

Is the boss appropriately debuffed with an attack speed debuff and an attack power debuff?

4) Your healers are messing up

Hope it isn't this one. Healing is a bit of a dark art, and healers tend to be quite touchy - probably because it's very easy to blame the healers for a wipe without looking at what everyone else is doing. Trying to tell a healer how to do their job is a good way to start an argument. There is lots of stuff healers should be doing - starting the heal before the boss swing hits, for example, but often it's hard to tell whether they are doing this or not. Sometimes it may be possible to give your healers a kick and they'll concentrate more and improve. Sometimes it may not.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Stepping up

I am normally offtank for our Ulduar 10 group. In practice this doesn't mean that I never tank the boss - our MT is a paladin and so he's better suited to adds tanking. This means that although I've main tanked everything so far, I normally only tank Ignis, Kologarn, Auriaya and Freya in any one raid. Last Friday was a little different though as our MT was away which meant that I was the raid's main tank, assisted by a DK alt (who although wearing inferior gear had more health than me, annoyingly).

The additional responsibility of main tanking as well as directing operations on the trash was wearing and so the raid was quite stressful, but we culminated with Hodir. Now normally I dps (badly) on Hodir, but Friday was my first attempt at tanking him. We got him second try and it was absolutely terrifying.

Some tips

1) Frost resistance

I banged on about this for ages before the fight, to the extent that I was told I was being a coward for insisting on three pieces of FR gear. By God I was right though - with 417 frost resistance (buffed) I was being hit for about 16k on the frozen blows phases, plus the aura, and the healers could only just keep up with it. With 40k health and gimped avoidance I had my normal MT healer being helped out by a resto druid who rolled hots on me during the frozen phases.

Linear increases in magic resistance offer exponential increases in mitigation and are not subject to diminishing returns. I think next time I will take an FR ring as well as the armour.

2) Mobility

I learned the value of moving the boss so that dps could stand in the light beams. The boss's health dropped much faster once I remembered to do that.

3) Focus

Any boss fight which requires movement and awareness also needs intense concentration throughout the encounter. These fights are very tiring and stressful. You need to be at your best form.

There was one awful moment when I got hit by the falling ice just before the flash freeze and bounced a long way away from safety. Fortunately I was able to charge the boss and sidestep onto the snow at the last moment, but I must have had less than half a second to spare. Small differences like that change a wipe into a kill - I was daft enough to get hit by the ice, but was lucky to be in range to charge and reacted fast enough to save myself.

My heart was beating like a drum at the end of the fight, but it was a real buzz and an excellent experience.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


One of the factors that's really been holding me back from raiding in this expansion has been my network at home. I run a wireless network because I've just bought and decorated a new house, my "study" (ie games room) is three floors away from where our phone port is, and I don't want to run cables everywhere. My connection is generally fine for solo play and groups up to 10 man, but it is unpredictable and drops occasionally. 25 man raids were pretty much a no no.

On the advice of a friend I tried out powerline networking last night - this runs the signal from your router via your electrical wiring and is supposed to produce a much clearer, reliable signal. I am impressed so far - there is some lag and so it's not as good as a proper cable system, but the lag is certainly playable (about 150 ms). The main difference however is the clarity of the signal - I ran a levelling instance last night on my alt and had no slowdown whatsoever at periods of high activity. Lag spikes have caused several wipes for me in the past (eg tanking KT at 10% when a 5 second spike coincided with him casting a void zone on me - we wiped and I have still never killed him), and I hope that with this new system I will do away with them completely. I'm pretty excited about the benefits to my 10 man group, as well as the prospects for more serious raiding and 25 man stuff.

I also may level a healer, something I have stayed away from in the past because a lag spike is usually a wipe when healing.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Avoidance changes in 3.2

I've been thinking a bit about the proposed avoidance nerf, and how it will affect fresh 80 tanks as well as end game tanks. I also wonder if it is enough - one of our U25 geared pallies on the PTR reports an avoidance drop (before DR) of around 1%. The post-DR figure will be even lower (ie a bigger nerf) because more the the pre-DR avoidance is now parry, which diminishes faster. Still though, that's not a lot.

If Blizzard changed the way DRs are calculated then total net avoidance for well geared tanks could be reduced without harming levelling and lower geared tanks. There would be no need to change ratings, and no outcry over the changes from the community since it would require a lot of testing for the actual effect of the changes to become apparent.

I also wonder whether it is now time to stop defence skill increasing the mob's chance to miss you. It seems something of an anachronism, and I wonder whether druids are adequately compensated for lacking this non-diminishing avoidance stat.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Blue Thunder

A Thorim first kill on Tuesday.

[A short pause while Everblue hugs himself happily]

I'm getting more and more pleased with progress on the Keepers - we had one shots of Freya and Hodir, followed by our first two tries ever on Thorim.

The first try failed badly because of a misunderstanding about who was going into the tunnel, leaving us with only 2 dpsers in there instead of 3. We ended up with me and one healer trying to fight the second boss and 3 adds... Still though - the mobs go down very fast indeed and I was feeling really confident the second time. Sure enough we burned through the gauntlet on attempt 2, having to wait outside the final room to avoid entering hard mode.

We tanked the boss against the back wall of the arena and it seemed like tank and spank from where I was, but perhaps there was more going on behind the boss where I couldn't see. I dropped dangerously low towards the end, so low that I was probably saved by my blood draining enchant (I had about 500hp for several seconds - we'd lost two healers by that point, I was out of cooldowns and our druid could only just keep up with the damage output on me).

The boss completed my wonderful evening by dropping the funny shaped tanking mace which is an upgrade over the sword dropped by Kologarn, and the last EoValor I needed to by the ilevel 213 Emblem boots.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


From the PTR build re lockout extensions:

An ID can be extended more than once.

This means you can stick with an instance until you've cleared it. Brilliant change.

Monday, 6 July 2009


There have been a number of really excellent changes mooted for 3.2 (the silly arena notwithstanding), but the one which has the potential to revolutionise the way I play is the proposed optional two week instance lookouts.

When I saw that Ulduar was due to have 15 bosses (or however many) my first thought was "What a shame that I'll never finish it". I raid one night a week - sometimes I arrange this so that I raid twice in one lockout period, but the second raid is midweek and hence shorter - maybe 5 1/2 hours total. We raid in a pretty relaxed way - we goof around, try to kill each other, we drink (heavily). We rarely wipe more than 3 or 4 times in an evening, but it's rare that we get more than one watcher down (our record is Freya and Hodir down, and on that night we called a halt because people were tired and downed Razor before calling it). Similarly I have still (STILL!) not killed KT - I have 4 or 5 wipes on him in total I think, including a 2% wipe where I had a five second lag spike in a void zone and hence died.

This lockout change will be brilliant. I'll be able to start the fresh Friday night run on Thorim every other week. The last two keepers are supposed to be tough, but if we can START on them and have 2 hours of practice before people's attention starts to wander then I'm certain we'll down them.

There is no downside to this excellent change, and it really helps those of us who can't raid regularly see the later content. It isn't "catering to casuals" because we still have to beat the bosses - it isn't a short cut by any means.