Posts Tagged ‘ tanking ’

Faction Champions Can Go Jump In My Litter Box

My frustration with this fight can boil down to one sentence.

Get your PvP out of my PvE.

Last night was a beautiful one-shot of the first two coliseum bosses, even despite my ‘doh moment of taunting the magnataur too soon, amassing five stacks, and then letting the other tank die. (I’m so high-maintenance). The Jaraxxus kill was everything I could have asked for and more. No one died, no one stood in the fire, no one was screaming at me to “Get this Infernal out of my face aaaaan infernals in my face!”

PS – that’s a fight where your lesser-geared (or lesser-skilled) tank can get some time in the limelight as main tank. So long as everything is interrupted/dispelled/purged properly, Jaraxxus hits like a kitten (and not the ferocious face-ripping kind, more like the lolferal pre-BC kind)

But then came the faction champions.

/grind teeth

We spent most of the night cycling through every form of CC we could muster in order to keep one healer locked down while burning the other (we had resto druid, holy priest, enh shaman, mage, rogue, warlock-with fel puppy)

We wiped, and we wiped, and we wiped some more. Granted, I saw some of our raiders rise to multitasking like I’d never thought they could (it was beautiful, really) But we couldn’t kill them.

In fact, we didn’t make any measurable progress until we adopted a more chatoic, blitz style, with myself running interference. (I know nothing about football, so forgive me if my analogies limp)

Everyone was to burn down the priest as fast as possible (He’s the squishiest, he can be interrupted, so we only have to deal with his (and the druid’s) hots instead of dealing with hots from the druid and casts from the priest if we tried to kill the druid first)

So, we’d burn the priest, then we’d bloodlust and kill the druid. Next we’d kill the warlock (thinking this would also rid us of the fel-puppy, no such luck there) and then we’d take out the mage, rogue, and shaman in that order.

MY job, was totem-stomping, and ping-pong.

Wait, whut?

Swipe is very good at taking out totems. Bear swipe that is. When I’m not swiping at totems I’ve got my camera zoomed all the way out and I’m using every taunt I’ve got, as often as I’ve got it, to pull the melee off of our casters.

This worked pretty well. I think tonight, if we go in with two tanks (we had an enhancement shaman tanking on his warrior alt, then had him switch to his shaman for the pvp bit) I think we’ll get this pretty readily. We’re replacing a shadow priest with an elemental shaman so we won’t miss the bloodlust from the enhancements shaman. We’ve still got healing priests to mass-dispell heroism.

We’ll kill these guys tonight, I’ve no doubt of that.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.


Who Haelz the Whu?

Shared Topic! Lookit me, all on the ball and crap.

The question was: I would love to read blogger’s thoughts on who they like to have heal them. Would you prefere a Holy priest of a Disc priest? A Holy pally or a Resto druid. Shammy maybe?

Now, normally, in raid, I run as a Bear Tank. Traditionally that meant that I had a stupid amount of armor and an ungodly deep health pool. Now-a-days, this isn’t so much the case. I’m still rocking a gook 41k health, but that’s a long way away from the 50k I was packing back during Sartharion 3D attempts.

These days, I’m a dodge/absorption tank. I can see that leading to some spiky health. Dodge, dodge, absorb, dodge, GIGANTOR HIT! Well, you get the idea.

Logically, from what I’ve learned raid leading, I would want someone with a lot of hots on me to even out the damage and maybe (if I were main tanking) a strong single-target healer just in case things got dicy.

Now here comes a bit of a confession: The reality of the situation is, most the time I don’t have a clue who, let alone what, is keeping me alive.

No, really, it’s true! I don’t know and I don’t care who’s got my back, so long as my back has been gotten. I can only think of one time where I asked specifically who was healing me and why I died.

The answer? It was a holy priest, and the only reason I died was because I was tanking Mimiron Phase1 during a Plasma Blast and my little pocket priest panicked for an instant and healed himself instead of me.

That was a case of saying, “Ok buddy, don’t panic, we have raid healers to take care of you, during Plasma Blasts I’m going to be taking so much damage that you can’t afford to devote even a moment of your attention to anything other than me.”

This is the same holy priest that complains to me when we do our jousting dailies before the citadel that I never heal my horse.

Heal my horse? I don’t heal myself! I have healers for that!

I was awarded with a /facepalm and a corpse run.

Yeah, I deserved that.

But the same thing stands- It wouldn’t have mattered who or what had been healing me, that mistake could have happened to anyone, and was a wonderful opportunity for learning, and since said priest did learn from the experience I don’t see it as any kind of a demerit to him or his class.

Everything Is Cleared

Yep, totally. We went last night, took Ulduar by the throat, and stomped it flat.

It wasn’t an easy fight, by any streach of the imagination. The first pull in fact wiped all of our raiders multiple times. Here’s a killshot for the first boss:

Did I say that was OUR kill shot? No, that’s the Loading Screen boss killing us!

However, in the face of adversity we persevered!

Some of us made it past the infamous Loading Screen boss to be greeted with the Instanced Locked boss. I got to run around the (empty) staging area for the gauntlet and Flame Leviathan and get the lay of the land!

Eventually the Instance Locked boss let me go and, after a quick disconnect, I was ported back to my hearthstone area.

Not wanting to push our luck some of us went to go play in Karazhan. Shortly after (FINALLY!) getting my tier-4 glove token from curator (we’ll have to see tonight if I’ve still got it), we found Ulduar’s weakness.

Actually, we found everything’s weakness.

That’s right folks! We brought down the server! Woo! Go <Unemployed>!

Now where’s our phat lewt?


We’ll be giving raiding one more shot tonight (raid nights are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, remember) and hopefully, if problems still persist, we’ll be able to enjoy a fresh start next week.

Some Feral notes:

Savage Defense makes us look like we’re dancing, always jumping up on our stubby little bear back-legs. Even with the armor and stamina nerfs though it feels quite overpowered. Tuesday I ran heroic Violet Hold with some guildies and our healer actually asked me to put my DPS gear back on because he was getting bored. (I accidentally ran in DPS gear up until just after the first boss) I’m going to have to reserve judgement about how I feel about SD until I can actually tank something in Ulduar. While it might be crazy OP for heroics, it might be just right for T8 content.

The new swipe is fun, but it’s not exactly un-targeted.

If you’ve got the rage and you stand there with nothing targeted, you can’t swipe. If you stand there with rage and have an enemy targeted and swipe then you’re good to go. It’s more accurate to say that it’s un-ranged. The effect is still the same and the utility of it is amazing (I still don’t think the 360ยบ aspect was needed).

I’ve already got ideas for who will tank what when we get to Ignis.


I don’t know who the guenius behind this was, I just wish I had been clever enough to think of it on my own.

New Tauren Cat-Form, who's with me?

New Tauren Cat-Form, who's with me?

Leatherworking & Fire-Retardant Fur

So, this weekend I finally took the plunge. With our fearless leader (and dedicated Sarth tank) suffering a massive case of burn-out, someone has to step up to the plate and stare that dragon right in the eye.

Those eyes that are just beyond the long spikey snout filled with sharp jaggey teeth from which spews a VERY painful gout of flame.

Ya know what?

Fur is flammable.

But thanks to Kalon, bears have a resource to consult to help make flaming fur nothing more than a bad dream.

I finally took the time to get my feral goodies in order and construct an actual Stamina/Fire Resist set. It looks very goofy, but I’ll be damned if I’m not rocking 39.7k health unbuffed.

The majority of my weekend was actually spent knocking out quests in Icecrown. See, I needed the Pattern: Fur Lining – Fire Resist, and my drug dealer potion person needed the Recipe: Mighty Fire-Protection Potion. (That I would use in conjucntion with a Nightmare Seed to stay alive) I found that, conveniently, they both dropped from the same mob.

So, priest-man and I grouped up to go out together and farm for this shiz. I was dismayed by the miniscule drop rate listed on WoWHead and had prepared myself to withstand gruelling hours killing mobs over and over, spamming swipe until my face fell off.

We got to the same place and can you guess what we found? Phasing had come and whapped us upside the head. He had completed all of Icecrown. I had barely touched it. That’s right, we couldn’t farm together. So, he bid me adieu and I set out to grinding through (almost) all of Icecrown’s quests. I’m pretty sure that I did over 50 this weekend (and netted myself at least 2k gold in the process)

Now that THAT was out of the way, by this time it was getting late on Sunday and we hunkered down to start farming. Click through and read some of the comments about those Skeletal Runesmiths. The vendor trash was removed, they were only dropping money. What about my pattern? What about the recipe? Were they also removed? None of the comments indicated this, nothing I could find anywhere could tell me one way or another.

So we farmed without knowing if our efforts would ever bear fruit.

Then, about thirty minutes after we’d started a blip of blue popped up in a roll box. It was my fur lining pattern! Hooray hooray oh happy day! I eagerly slammed down a NEED roll and then trained that sucker straight away.

We farmed for maybe 20 minutes more when priest-man called a halt. He’d dug through his alchemy tab and discovered that, whoops, he already had the Mighty Fire Protection Potion. Well, no harm no foul. I had everything I needed!

As of this week, I am ready to tackle that dragon!

Progressing Backwards – Teaching Your Raiders How to Learn

I’ve seen it twice now.

The first incidence went largely unnoticed by me. It happened right when I was joining the guild, getting insta-geared from Kara, Mag & Gruul’s, and just learning how to tank. Every new encounter was a new experience to me, everything was fresh. I had no concept of ‘on farm’.

A wipe on Al’Ar was just a learning experience to me. Struggles with Leo were just kinks to be worked out. For the rest of the guild though, they were painful slaps to the face. This was content many of them had already seen and conquered and suddenly, through attrition and replacement, they were fights with which they were struggling.

I knew all this, but I didn’t know how they felt. I couldn’t understand why they were having trouble filling out the raids, why people didn’t want to sign up. Surely if we push a little harder these bosses will be conquered again right? It’s just a little hiccup, just trying to get the newbies (like me) up to speed, right?

I guess some didn’t see it that way and were quickly becoming disenfranchised. And so fewer people signed up to raid and more were recruited and needed to be brought up to speed until I’m sure it felt, to some of the old hands, that they were running with an entirely new group of people.

And so, progression went backwards.

As for the second time I’ve seen it? Why, that was last night. Three hours of raiding, plague down, Saph down, Kael down, Malygos still lives.

We really were having a pretty good night up until Saph, then things started turning pear-shaped. There wasn’t particularly anything I could point to specifically though, just a lot of little mistakes that kept adding up. Kael was even worse and while we did eventually kill him (along with doing Just Can’t get Enough) it certainly took us long enough and was a sloppy kill on almost all fronts.

Then, as we are wont to do, we headed over to Malygos. I can’t remember if we took two or three stabs at him. We’d all ressed and were buffing when someone mentioned that unless we could kill the dragon in 2 minutes the raid was over (It was 9:58, we usually call raids at 10). This was answered by a few immediate disconnects.

Without a word.

I think that upset me the most. It wasn’t the fact that the dragon is still alive, it’s that we had raiders who left without a word. Traditionally, when it’s time to call the raid and the boss is not yet dead we take a vote of who wants to continue and who wants to stay.

We could have done A Poke In The Eye if some people weren’t so hot to light out at the first signs of trouble.

Now, I can even understand why some people are feeling discouraged, but I’m starting to get mad. I combed through the WWS report and made a spreadsheet of who died to what and when and who dropped before the tanks. I know who’s not pulling their weight.

There’s also nothing I hate more than calling people out for their own incompetence. When I mess up I like to know it, but I don’t want to be screamed at. If there’s something I’m having trouble with I try to fix it. If I can’t fix it I try to find out why. I’m always looking for the roots of problems. If a leaf is sick but the stem is healthy is there something wrong with the trunk?

With that mentality I hate pointing at someone and saying “You are screwing this up, fix it!” That’s not the right way to fix a problem. I can’t stand in front of my car and stare at the dented hood and scream “You are dented! You are fail!” Nor can my neighbor stare at me and say, “Your hood is dented, it offends me greatly, fix it!”. I have not the money to pay for fixing my hood, his ridicule does nothing to help me magically find the werewhithal within my budget to fix my hood.

Same with guildies who are performing sub-par. Just like I know very well my hood is dented and that it doesn’t look very nice, there’s a good chance that under-performing guildies know they’re underperforming. The trick is making sure they know there’s a problem and being able to offer help in finding a solution.

I’m not advocating fixing the problem for them, but helping them learn how to troubleshoot their own shortcomings.

I noticed night before last that sometimes Swipe was insufficient to pick up the second landing drake. Someone mentioned a targeting macro and my thought process flowed something like this:

Swipe is on the GCD -> Sometimes the dragon aggros a healer and gets out of swipe before it can land -> The dragon needs to be targeted and Faerie Fired at

What followed was an attempt where I first tried to right-click between dragons. I kept grabbing guildies and other ancillary mobs. Then I tried tab-targeting. Ancillary mobs were still targeted and it was taking too long to cycle through from dragon to dragon and I was getting confused about what I had targeted. It was taking too long. After that wipe more thinking was done:

Manual targeting takes too long -> I need one button that does this -> make a macro -> will the GCD be a problem? -> /target mobname aspects of a macro have nothing to do with the GCD -> Can I have more than one /target mobname aspec to a macro? -> I don’t know, but I’ll sure as hell try it out.

And so I made my macros that I talked about yesterday.

I like to think that I’m a smart cookie who learns quickly and picks up things easily. But, believe it or not, learning is a learned skill. If someone is going to suss out their own issues and find solutions they need to know how to go about it.

This is where the raid leaders come in. What should follow are low-key, one-on-one meetings with a focus of finding the root of the problem (be it ping, a too-cluttered interface, a habit for (poor use of) key-turning, etc), and once the problem is found, an offer to help find a solution.

It won’t help anything if you find the problem and just tell them to fix it. If you know the solution don’t just shove it in someone’s face, ask questions. Nurture their innate sense of logic.

If you drop breadcrumbs of questions that your troubled raider can follow they will eventually arrive at the solution themselves, you will only have guided them.

This might sound like more trouble than it’s worth. You might think “I already know what the problem is, why can’t I just come out and tell them?” Because, if you do that you’re only giving them fish. A good raid leader teachis his (or her) raiders how to fish.

By helping them walk through a logical progression towards a solution you have shown them what that path of thinking looks like. You will have given them a new set of problem-solving skills and the next time they have problems they’ll be more likely to ask those questions for themselves and will eventually find themselves perfectly capable of diagnosing and fixing a problem on their own.

I am personally a wonderful example of this.

When I started playing I was always linking gear into guid chat and asking which was better. This continued for a VERY long time. I had a vague idea of what I wanted but I couldn’t tell you if I wanted that piece with more hit or that piece with more agility. I really didn’t know the difference.

Then someone told me I could hover over the numbers in my character panel and it was like a whole world of understanding opened up to me.

I used to get so frustrated looking for quest mobs and items then a friend took me by the hand and showed me Thottbot. Eventually I found my own way to WoWhead. A google search for feral tanking consummables for raiding kara led me to The Big Bear Butt. I noticed he wrote about a lot of other things to do with bears too, I noticed he had links. Clicking through led me to other bloggers and then the blogging world started to open up to me like a flower greeting the dawn.

I realised “Hey, I can do this too, maybe putting my thoughts to the keyboard will help, maybe others will come and help me”

And so I started the blog.

I didn’t start playing WoW knowing how to play, or even knowing how to learn how to play.

Tutorials get you up and moving enough to be functional, but to nurture true excellence and dedicated, knowledgeable, and quick-learning raiders, you must help teach them how to learn.

BEARS : Now With Divine Fur!

So, this whole hullabaloo about bears’ health and armor nerf coupled with the addition of Savage Defense has had me vaguely concerned for a little while now. I’ve never been one to fly off the handle at proposed changes to game balance, but this one has had me keeping my eyes open.

I’ll admit, I’m very sad to see my big health numbers going away. I love nothing more than getting into little, light-hearted e-peen contests with our other two tanks when they start bantering back and forth about health. Shift to bear, pop Survival Instincts and ain’t no one touching my 57k health.

But that’s all they are though, numbers. In the course of a fight it’s very rare that I’ll even use Survival Instincts. It’s one of my emergency buttons, and our healers are doing such a good job that I rarely find myself in an emergency-producing position.

I don’t know weather Savage Defense will be enough to make up for our health and (more worrying) armor nerfs, but we’ll have to see. Extensive testing by Kalon over at Think Tank shows that it’s buggy as all get out, but does block attacks from behind, and appears to have no internal cooldown. Oh, and apparently it lets rage through too, so my worries about becoming rage-starved are (so far) unfounded.

What has me all kinds of giddy and excited though, are the changes to Swipe.

If you’ve been reading me for a while I’ve gone on at length about my frustrations with swipe.

Now, however, on the PTR Swipe has become un-targeted (oh joy, oh rapture, or unbridled glee) and un-coned.

What that means is we now have super-ultra-spammable-omni-swipe. Last night I tanked the zombie chows on Gluth and had my usual scramble to make sure I was picking them up. I wiggle-wormed my way all over the room, turning to swipe those behind me, tab-targetting to get those in front and wiggling around to do it all over. The whole time I couldn’t help but think how much more amazing this was going to be when 3.1 hit and I had my omni-swipe.

The new swipe, coupled with Savage Defense (which procs off of critical strikes) is going to make bears rival paladins in the category of utility. I don’t think we’ll overtake them by any streach of the imagination. Swipe is on the GCD and must be pressed while Consecrate is like one of those ‘fix it & forget it’ crock-pot meals; similar to Death & Decay for the Death Knight.* But I can definitely see myself being asked to tank lava blazes and whelps on Sarth while our warrior takes care of the drakes. It’s currently the other way around.

I’m still concerned weather Savage Defense will make it to Live in a de-bugged state and weather or not it will be enough to make up for the health and armor nerfs. I think AoE trash tanking we’ll be fine, but single-target boss tanking might start to get painful, but we’ll see.

* PS, Corpse Explosion freaks me the hell out.

And Here We Separate the Men From the Boys

Or the Women from the Girls in the case of myself and miss Warlock.

What am I talking about? Why… This of course!


The screenshot was taken by our hunter who’s got a snazzy little addon that takes screencaps whenever he kills a boss, gains an achievement, or levels up. I think it was called something like Scattered Shots, or something. Either way, there it is!

I don’t have my own screenshot because I was too busy squealing and hyperventilating and shaking and by the time I remembered “osh*t screencap” the achievement had faded away.

Here’s the break-down:

We did the bulk of Naxxramas with only 9 people. First we went and killed Razouvious, then we went and took out the Plague quarter, eager to get Heigan out of the way. Next we took a break and breezed through the Arachnid quarter. Actually, that wasn’t a breeze, we had some unfortunate AFKs and we were trying to take things carefully. Trash was done messily but everybody smartened up right quick for the boss kills.

Next we sauntered over and laid the smack down on the Construct quarter and finished up the night back in Military with Gothik. By this time we were debating how we wanted to handle the Horsemen. We knew we could 8-man it, but we were going for Undying so we really wanted another healer for insurance. So, we called it for the night.

Tonight, we went back in with our extra healer, stapled him to a tank, and got down to business. Melee was forbidden on Zeliek and there was much calling out of void zones on Blameaux just to make sure everyone was on their toes.

Once they were dead we moved to Sapphiron and we all donned one pice of Frost Resist and had our Pally toss up frost aura. We weren’t taking any chances. In fact, both the rogue and I (only melee apart from the tank) had to make sure to stay on our toes and out of the blizzards, sometimes even running away from the dragon so that we didn’t get hit. There was one rough moment early on when a blizzard rained down on a group clustered behind an ice block during the first air phase, but our healers were able to valiantly struggle through.

After the dragon came the moment of truth. Would we be beset by lag and find ourselves in failure, or would we be able to rise above, pull together, and claim our titles?

Well, you already know the answer, so I’ll let you know how the fight went.

As per usual, I would be off-tanking this fight. Bell (warrior tank) and I kept the incoming Abominations under control until about 30 seconds before KT popped, then it was all me. The last thing we wanted was for him to have to juggle and Abomination and worry about stacking as much threat on KT as he could.

After that I stepped back and spent most of my time in bear form and kept Faerie Fire (Feral) up on the boss. It’s much easier to keep 2 people in melee apart from each other than it is to keep 3 people far enough apart. Once again, plan for problems, plan for people to get confused, and do your best to make a situation where problems can be fixed on the fly.

Then, 40% came and went and the big bugs came out and it was my turn. I picked one up quickly and had the other mis-directed to me. I had a minor heartattack moment when I’d been tanking for a few seconds and realised I’d forgotten that I needed to pay SPECIAL attention to void zones. I immediately strafed to the right and acertained that no, I’m not in immediate peril (giant bugs wailing on my face not withstanding).

Tanking the adds can be tricky for the sole reason of the void zones. Even if you can outlast the bugs, they get to be so large that you can no longer see your character and if a void zone pops underneath you… well, you won’t see it. So what I do is whenever DBM tells me one has spawned I look around for it. If I don’t immediately see it I strafe. More often than not it’s somewhere I didn’t look and strafing wasn’t needed, but sometimes it is, and it’s those times that can save your life.

So then, after what seemed like an eternity, I happened to mouse over the boss and saw his health was a mere sliver of its previous robust glory. My pulse quickened and my fingers flew. I reminded myself to keep watching for void zones and I prayed that I didn’t get ice-blocked.

And then….

The Undying.

It felt amazing. It’s the feeling I used to get on a first kill back in BC days. It felt like the first time we killed Rage Winterchill in Mount Hyjal. After weeks of working, we’d finally done it!

THAT, my friends, is what true progression feels like. I miss those edge-of-your-seat fights where you hope and pray that everyone has brought their A game and that maybe, just maybe, tonight will be THE night.

And when it is?

Ooooh baby you’re on top of the world.