Thursday, 30 April 2009


I've been wondering what difference gear makes to dps.

For example, I've been practicing as arms on the target dummy in IF. With crap enchants, greens, blues and a few purples I pull 2k (although this may be skewed a little high because of the bug where the dummy is at 1 health so I can execute a lot). It will be lower in real raids of course, unless I can AoE during encounters with bladestorm.

I aspire to be above 3k in 10 man raids and I guess to get there I need synergies from raid members, some buffs, some practice (aka skill) and some gear. Realistically however, I wonder what sort of difference gear will make. Can I really expect a 50% increase in my dps simply by getting better gear? I think not.

Is it reasonable to assume that if I upgrade my levelling greens and blues to ilevel 200 purples then I will see a 25% increase in dps?

Is it reasonable then to assume that 10 man raid buffs might add another 10%?

I just want to really understand how much of dpsing is gear, and how much is skill. I see people in my raids in Naxx 10 gear pulling less than 3k dps, and I look at some of the top dpsers in our guild who beat 4.5k regularly. Surely that 50% can't all be gear and 25 man raid buffs?

I have done one 5 man instance as a dps warrior (one instance ever, including levelling) and pulled 1.4k dps thoughout the instance. This I found really depressing. BUT there was a lock in the group, mainly in ilevel 200 purples, who did 1.1k... What was he doing? Seriously? Was he not trying? Watching television? I used to pull 1k in Mount Hyjal on my undertuned level 70 shadowpriest.

I don't understand how people who nominally play dps classes can slack off during groups and raids. It is incredibly easy to see if a dpser is not pulling their weight - the feeling you get when you are bottom of the charts is dreadful (been there). It's much harder to see whether or not a tank or healer is slacking unless they do something stupid.

I find I am getting less and less tolerant of mediocre dps as I get older, which is as it should be I guess.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Ulduar nerf

I see the first few bosses in Ulduar have been nerfed hard yet again. I don't know how I feel about this to be honest. I've only killed XT002, but that felt like an amazing achievement. I wonder if I'll feel the same when I kill Ignis or Razorscale.

I certainly felt nothing like that sense of achievement in Naxx, other than Anub'rekan and Sapphiron.

Don't get me wrong - it's great that I'll see more of the instance now. There was a good chance I would never have cleared all the way through otherwise, but to be honest I wonder if I'll feel as good about doing so. I hope that's the last of the nerfs.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Emalon - tips

Tried Emalon the new Vault boss yesterday. No kill, but we were learning fast and got him to 15% with a melee heavy group before my daughter had a screaming fit and I had to go and deal with her.

Some tanking tips

- Main tank - the boss was hitting me for around 11k. Not too fast either - melee dps should not be an issue. Tank him on the right hand side of the room as you enter. The boss casts the AoE that does more damage the closer you are to him. The range is not huge and there is a cast time. I wonder whether or not if you have an intervene macro and you are fast enough you could intervene on a healer to avoid most of this damage, then charge the boss straight afterwards to reposition him.

- Offtank - the offtank role is critical and the hardest in the encounter. The four mobs hit for around 4k each, 7k when enraged. BRING BLOCK GEAR. I was getting 75%+ additional mitigation from block. For this reason, warriors and paladins are ideal for offtanking the adds. Also, the adds cast a nature damage spell which can be reflected. Keep spell reflect up whenever possible, and if the MT has improved spell reflect, and you are in the same group, then you can reflect a high percentage of their magical attacks.

The pull is difficult without a hunter - with a hunter mark all four adds and have the right hand pair misdirected onto you. Pull the left two with heroic throw and taunt.

Tank the adds on the left hand side. If the boss is positioned right against the wall on the right you don't have to be all the way over.

When the boss enrages an add the mob's buff will show up. Cycle quickly through all four mobs, calling out the one that has the buff over vent. Focus on this one until it is dead. A new mob will spawn - taunt it (vigilance on the MT helps here) and mark it with the same mark that the dead mob had. For this reason the OT needs to be raidleader or raid assistant.

We got the boss to 15% on our best try, before losing a dpser to the AoE (arms warriors should presumably charge to get out of the AoE) and then failing the dps race on the add. He's definitely doable though.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ulduar raid 3

As I'd hoped, the new strategy on XT-002 was much better. Right away we were getting him to 50% and below, and despite the usual silly wipes we eventually got him after I think around 10 tries.

I was offtanking the adds and generally trying to stay alive without needing the dpsers to help me. I think I ended up tanking 5 adds on my own, of which I (slowly) killed one. The four I had left eventually nuked me down, but by that stage the boss was at about 100k health, and despite people dropping like ninepins (including our bear MT) we got him. The buzz was amazing - the best feeling I've had from warcraft in months. I've been thinking about this raid all week, planning, worrying and anticipating. To have it pay off with a first kill was awesome.
Then we tried Razorscale, only to find the fight bugged with no adds spawning in phase 1. So the only challenge in the fight was the tanking and dps race in phase 2, which we one-shotted. It felt like we'd almost been cheated of the kill to be honest, as there was much less challenge than normal (phase 1 is basically the whole fight, and to have everyone alive and with full health and mana in phase 2 was just tremendous). Nevertheless, the loot will help, and you don't pass up a kill when it is handed to you I guess.
Still - a great raid.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Ulduar first impressions

I've been to Ulduar a couple of times now. We killed Flame Leviathan after a few tries on Friday night, and then spent a few hours wiping on XT-002 and Razorscale without looking like killing anything.

FL is a fun fight, and quite easy. Problems generally occur when he aggros a Demolisher, since they are generally not prepared to kite him and die quickly, taking a big chunk of dps with them. I think it won't be long before we are doing this with towers active (hard mode) to increase the number and quality of drops.

Razorscale is an add fight. I hate add fights. The 10 man seems conceptually harder than the 25 man, for the basic reason that you need to do everything with 2 tanks, whereas the 25 raid will have a spare tank if required. The mobs come in waves from the left and right, with the occasional mob spawning in the centre that needs to be zerged down very fast. We got a lot better at it throughout the night, and could reliably get the boss to the ground twice, but did not have the dps to bring him below I think 70%. After thinking it over we were focussing on the medium mobs ahead of the small ones, which was an error. I also need to pay attention to the mobs' chain lightning attack. Otherwise I think this is just practice tbh.

XT-002 we wiped on for several hours, to the point of being depressing. Our best try was around 65%. Where I think we went wrong was not dpsing the boss during the adds phases. The strategies I saw treated the heart phase as a time to kill adds. That's totally wrong. The heart phase is the time to dps the boss as hard as possible, with a few seconds in the transition between phases to mop up any adds left over. I think if we change strategies we might have more success.

We still had two dpsers in our raid doing less than 2k dps. That's not good enough for Ulduar I think.

Overall, other than the first boss the difficulty is way ahead of anything I've tanked before, including Kara. I would also say that it is harder than Zul'Aman, which was a real surprise as I expected it to be around that level of challenge. I was reminded of Blackwing Lair in both the scale of difficulty and the requirement to learn special techniques for killing the bosses.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


I'm an officer in my guild. I'm in a bit of an unusual position, since I am the only non-raiding officer. This means I am rarely able to sign for 25-person raids at the guild's scheduled times. Instead I run 10 man stuff on the side which starts a bit later on.

I was asked to become an officer a couple of years back, and basically I do the crappy jobs - telling people off when they step out of line, dealing with recruitment admin, and trying to stop arguments.

We had our first loot argument of the expansion the other day - over the Legendary mace which drops in Ulduar. Because this mace doesn't drop from a particular boss and needs to be earned over time by collecting shards and completing quests we decided that we would give priority to one person first, so that this person gets all the shards until they have a complete mace. We selected the person who gets the first shard by rolling, on the basis that if we made it a dkp bid then healers might hoard their dkp for the mace quest item, rather than gearing up naturally through the dungeon. The winner of the roll will get all shards until we have the full item, so we get a mace in the raids as soon as possible. The question to be resolved was who we allowed to roll.

There was an argument about who "deserves" to roll, and it was quite a large one, by historical standards. We haven't had a serious loot argument since I think BT, so it was good to be back.

Friday, 10 April 2009


I feel a bit better today. I'm away from the game for a few days over Easter visiting family, which is excellent for gaining perspective.

The way ahead for me is to change my attitude to raiding and grouping. In future I will be tanking something every time I play - whether a raid, a guild heroic or a PUG. I think this will sharpen my skills so that I'm better at progression raiding when it counts. I will also change my attitude to 25 man raiding I think - I will make a real effort to be there for my guild's 25 man raids (which are generally at dreadful times for a guy with a demanding job and a young family).

Like everything else, I hope that this can be solved with hard work.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


So as I'd thought, we wiped 10 times and called it - our best try was about 62%. Haven't been this depressed about the game in a long time.

Still. Lock it down. Learn. Reflect

What did I do wrong?

Some of the wipes were my fault. It was incredibly hard positioning the boss so that I was in range of the healers, so the sparks would pass over the raid, and so the boss was tangental to the inner circle. I just can't seem to do that and dps at the same time, so all the dpsers were threat capped. The boss got sparked on all of the first four attempts, and that was my fault I think.

I don't know how to fix this. Perhaps it is practice - I reworked my buttons for this fight, changed everything to make it so I could strafe better, so that I could strafe with one hand and dps with another, I changed my UI so I could see the sparks better. Maybe if I use this new setup more and more it will be better.

But. BUT. I have tanked this boss before and, frankly, it was easy. I don't know why it's hard now. We cruised through P1 every time. When I successfully tanked the boss I didn't bother strafing - I just backed away to give the DK room to deathgrip the spark. I didn't have a DK tonight so fine it was harder, but DPS was criminally slow to hit the sparks and a couple of times I saw them pass over the raid and hit Maly with no DPS at all on them.

Three times tonight I got nuked down by an unsparked Malygos. With 2 Naxx25 geared holy paladins healing me. That is not good enough.

Maybe (gasp) this time it isn't my fault.

So a brutal assessment - we had an awful group setup for the boss, which put more pressure on me and more pressure on the DPS group. I struggled initially, but positioning was good later and I think I coped ok. DPS performance was not good enough I think. Healing was just not good enough either. I'm not flattering myself - I know I am still a novice tank. I don't want to give the impression that I think I am better than the people I raid with (a common tanking trait) because I know I have loads to learn, and my performance issues (which I do have) are masked by easy content (heroics and Naxx) which I overgear. Malygos is not an easy fight, and it tests me to the limit and perhaps finds me wanting. I will get better, because failing is not fun, it is not why I play the game, and it is not how I live my life.

What action to take? I need to practice more and get better. I've been rusty since I came back from my hand injury (it is still not fixed), and I need to stop playing my alts and concentrate on the main. I also need to take a hard look at the people I raid with, which scares the hell out of me to be honest.

But for now, I need a fucking drink, and I need a break.


I have another crack at Malygos tonight.

Haven't been raiding much recently due to real life stuff and just bad luck (the nights when I've been free to raid there is a 25 man raid booked an hour before I can reasonably get home from work and everyone is doing that instead, for example), so am looking forward to it unreasonably. There is so much I still want to do in the game (Sarth + drakes 10 man) and I'm running out of time to do it before Ulduar hits, so tonight is important.

I ran Old Kingdom heroic last night, for another crack at the epic tanking bracers that drop from the last boss - I've been wearing an epic dps bracer with strength, stamina, hit and expertise, which is a nice threat generator and so not completely unsuitable, but it will not cut it in Ulduar. No joy, and in fact we had a number of wipes, two of which were my fault (I pulled two pats on one occasion, and lost an add on the first boss who killed our healer). I felt quite depressed about this, as I always do I when I make mistakes. And then the bracers didn't drop again.

That won't cut it tonight. We have a paladin healer and a holy priest (and one to find), so we are short on snap healing, and we have no DK for the sparks. I need to be on the ball, and if I am not on my game then the raid will not work. Must do better. Must do better. I sometimes miss the old days of dpsing, where so much didn't depend on me playing well.

Oh, and I resolved the bracer issue by getting drunk and transferring 2k gold from one of my alts, which I used to buy the BoE Emblem of Valor tanking bracers. A successful (kinda) end to the evening.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Ulduar 10 tank loot

So far the following loot is known (source - MMO champion).

Storm Tempered Girdle - Razorscale (3rd boss)
Legacy of Thunder - Thorim (10th boss)
Archaedas' Lost Legplates - Auriaya (7th boss)
Cloak of the Iron Council - Iron Council (5th boss)
Signet of Winter - Hodir (11th boss)
Shield Wall of the Breaker - Auriaya (7th boss)

There is also hard mode loot, loot which is listed as "unknown" and so will presumably drop from other bosses, and tier 8 tokens to consider.

(rubs hands)