Totally Thrilled to Tank

I actually remembered to grab a screenshot!

Just a small update today; between packing for the trip and – ironically – writing other blog posts, I didn’t get around to writing up this post until very late at night! I’ve got some great ones all scheduled up and ready for you guys for the next week, so definitely enjoy them!

I wanted to do a follow up to a post I wrote previously about my first experience tanking, and report back that the excitement was definitely not a one-off thing! I wasn’t able to raid on the first raid night of the week, but for the second one, I once again strapped on my shield and threw myself at the tail end of Heroic Tomb of Sargeras.

Tonight’s raid was much, much smoother than last week’s (although, I highly doubt this was due to any better tanking on my part, we had many more bodies). We got through Heroic Maiden within twenty minutes, and very quickly were back downstairs at Avatar. Last week, we’d wiped there for the rest of the evening due to low turn out, alts, and some folks who were unfamiliar with the fight, which is nothing to be ashamed of since these runs are completely optional and most of the raid has gone on break until Antorus. However, our merry band was several bodies bigger tonight and that made all the difference in the world.

I discovered that, last week, I’d accidentally been murdering our melee quite a bit. I was positioning the Maiden too far from the Avatar, so when the tank swap would happen, it would take me a couple of nanoseconds after taunting to get within melee range of the Avatar. As a result, the big guy was using those spare moments to drop kick our poor melee players. This week, I made sure to keep the Maiden within the arc and things went a lot smoother! I only killed one person, and it was the raid leader, so who cares about that guy? (He totally got me back next pull though)

After about an hour’s worth of attempts, we got down Avatar! I rolled, and once again failed to get the heroic tier shoulders -boo! – but now I know for sure that I can tank Avatar. By the last couple of pulls, I was really getting the fight down-pat like I never had before, to the point where I was able to drag the Avatar off the platform right before he broke the last bit, in order to give us more time.

There was no time to celebrate for the scariest boss in the entire instance was left: Heroic Kil’jaeden. I’d heard horror stories about this guy, how his Fel Claws would hit like a cement truck barreling at you 100 miles per hour, how he would reduce tanks to quivering wrecks, how he would make you feel like you knew nothing at all about your spec. Luckily, I already knew nothing about my spec, so his power was gone!

In all seriousness, Heroic Kil’jaeden wasn’t as horrifically horrible as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, he still hit like that cement truck, and it still took me a couple of tries to really start getting a handle on my rotation for the Fel Claws. But, and it’s crazy even to me that I’m saying this, it wasn’t all that bad. Even though protection paladins are one of the hardest tanks to attempt this boss on.

A large, large part of my success, honestly, was due to my wonderful guildies. One of our main tanks plays a protection paladin and thus was intimately aware of when I should be using my CDs and, more importantly, when I should not be. My raid leader, too, had a great deal of experience with protection paladins, so he too gave me some very valuable tips. I highly doubt I would have been as successful as I was without their help. Thanks Xerra and Cloud!

Our first couple of pulls were pretty rough; we didn’t even get him to the first flying intermission. However, after rearranging a few of my cooldowns and, for the rest of the raid, remembering to prioritize soaking the swirlies, we starting doing significantly better. Each pull we got farther and farther into the fight, and I grew more and more comfortable with tanking it.

For the Fel Claws, I very quickly discovered that I needed Shield of the Righteous up for every single one. Period. I also needed another cooldown for the last couple of strikes, so I ended up alternating between Ardent Defender and Eye of Tyr, both of which reduced damage taken. My last major survival CD, Big Glowy Man (it has name other than this, I just don’t remember) was reserved for any panic moments.

In the end, we got him as low as 2% on the last pull of the night, opting to end on that high note rather than get sloppier and wipe at a higher percentage. While it would have been rocking to get him down my first try tanking, I’m pretty confident now that I know how to tank that fight. It’s a shame I’m figuring this out right at the end of the raid tier though!

So, I’ve most definitely got the tanking bug. And, I think I can say without being too boastful, I’m maybe not the worst at it! There is definitely things I know I could improve upon, but figuring out tanking has honestly been as easy as figuring out a different healing class (figuring out DPS characters is like rocket science to me). I’m really hoping that my raid will allow me to gear a tank set come Antorus because I’d really love to learn those fights from a tanking perspective as well as a healing perspective earlier than I did this raid tier.

Guys… I think I love tanking.

P.S. Huge, huge shoutout to my co-tank Alarys! You were the best tanking buddy ever and I’m so appreciative of your patience and understanding! ❤

Tentatively Thrilled to Tank

I never think to take screenshots at the time, so please enjoy these after the fact images

With Antorus on the horizon, we have official reached the twilight hour of Tomb of Sargeras. For my raid team, since we’ve all gotten our Ahead of the Curve achievements, this has meant that we are in a period of relaxation. Our typical raid nights have changed from progression focused to alt focused as we push as far as we can into Heroic ToS in the five hours we have each week.

Even for someone like me, who loves her Holy Paladin to the ends of the earth, these alt-nights have been a fun break from a spec I probably play too much of. Heck, even a fun break from a role I play too much of. For the first couple of nights, I brought a DPS character, and learned that, despite my best intentions, I am not very good at damage dealing classes.

Many moons ago, my mage was my predominant raiding character. I would sling ice at whatever threats faced Azeroth. I eventually switched over to healing full time (and never looked back) but my gnome mage has always held a special place in my heart. And one day, I always hoped to get back into the raiding groove with her.

My triumphant return was a lot less triumphant and a lot more terrible. I’d thought I’d kept my mage pretty well geared and prepped all things considered, but I could barely pull my own weight. Even more embarrassingly, I died almost every single pull. Keep in mind, these are boss fights I have done dozens upon dozens of times. I know them so well I can do them in my sleep. But somehow, I could not make the jump from healing them to DPSing them.

Alright so, mage is a bust, what about some of my other characters? Maybe a melee DPS? I brought in my monk and was met with even worse results, despite the fact that my monk’s gear is a tad stronger. Now this was just getting silly!

I was beginning to think that healing was just about the only thing I could do. That wasn’t the worst thing in the world; there’s enough different healing styles that I don’t think I could ever get bored. But I’m supposed to have a competent offspec for raiding and, judging by my performance, it’d probably make more sense for me to sit than to bring a DPS character.

But then, I found it. My second calling. And it was in one of the most unexpected places.

This past Saturday, more as a joke than anything else, I joined raid in protection spec on my paladin. My gear wasn’t the best in the world but really, the bigger hurdle was that, other than an odd mythic+ here or there, I hadn’t tanked all expansion. I only vaguely knew what my abilities did. I certainly didn’t know what the tank mechanics were other than the ones I had to heal through. And yet, there I was, joke-threatening to tank Heroic Maiden.

Maybe they had faith or maybe they were just as crazy as I was, but my guild gave me the go ahead and I, joined with one of the main tanks, gave it a whirl. And… we didn’t die right away. And then, when we did wipe, it wasn’t my fault. What is this sorcery?

As I discovered, quite literally on the job, Heroic Maiden isn’t too difficult of a fight to tank. The only major mechanic is the taunt off after every infusion or smash (depending on what your own infusion is). A quickie cooldown or Eye of Tyr for each Hammer Smash and I was pretty much golden!

We tightened up mechanics on Maiden a bit and then got her down within the first half hour of raid, no mean feat considering the number of alts and folks who’d never seen the fight before. I even netted a pretty slick tanking trinket (to replace one of my healing ones I’d been wearing because I was suuuuuper prepared). Next up was something a lot harder: Heroic Avatar.

As we’re riding the elevator down, one of the other main tanks who was on a DPS alt for the night whispered me, warning about the difficulties of the next boss. Grunty and Smashy, as they are affectionately called by my guild, are mean like bees and unforgiving to tank error. And, not only was I new to this fight, I was also playing a protection paladin, a spec that had encountered additional difficulties with almost all of the Tomb of Sargeras bosses.

Not pictured: Me flying off approximately 3 seconds later because of his knock back ability

Still, I wanted to give it at least a couple gos. After all, I’d just gotten a new tanking trinket and now had a somewhat stronger idea of what my tanking CDs did! I pulled up my belt, taunted the Maiden, and we were off.

I very quickly learned that Heroic Maiden is a walk in the park compared to Heroic Avatar. The fight features two mobs, the Avatar and a Maiden, that needed to each be tanked by one of the tanks for the start of the fight. The tanks would then switch who they were tanking after the person handling the Avatar got two stacks of Devastate. This is further complicated by the fact that the Maiden has to be dragged all around the room to intercept beams of fel that are empowering the Avatar. And it was all just as hectic as it sounds.

I started with the Maiden and I won’t lie, it took me a few tries to get the taunt swaps mixed with the movement correct. Those first couple of pulls, there was just so much going on that I’d lose track of my own health and then forget to use a CD when I needed to and would very quickly end up as a splat on the floor. But before long, I found a rhythm.

Once I found that groove, I really started to get into it. There was something so steady and dependable about taunting off at the two stacks. And yet, the movement around the room kept the fight interesting and ever-changing. It was fun, and fun in a way I would have never expected. As the patterns got smoother and smoother, the stress of having the entire raid rely on myself began to fade away. I knew what I needed to do and knew how to do it. Unlike my DPS characters, when stuff went wrong, I could instantly identify where the error had occurred.

Even though we were wiping, I could have kept going for hours. The zone, as I like to think of it, is something I love so much about healing – a mindset where I’m totally on top of the encounter but also completely relaxed. I’ve never reached that with DPS characters. And yet, on my first night of tanking, in Heroic difficulty no less, I found it right away.

I’ve tried to get into tanking multiple times. I’ve tried leveling solely as tanks, tried testing it in battlegrounds, even tried throwing myself into mythic+s. But apparently, the push I needed, hilariously enough, was the high stress atmosphere of Heroic raids. That is something I never would have guessed!

The test going forward will be to see if this newfound excitement persists. I’ll probably never move past my love of healing, but tanking is promising to become a close second.  I can’t wait for the next raid!

Out-trolling the Trolls

WoWScrnShot_010116_150125 (2)I think it could be pretty easily argued that some of the worst behavior in WoW shows it’s ugly face in leveling dungeons.  You have the dps who pull rooms before the tank, the tank that constantly LoSs the healer and the healer who hurls abuse at the rest of the group.  And a million other scenarios.  Sure, there are good apples in the barrel but there’s no denying the toxicity of some groups. I’ve been in heroic Hellfire Citadel pugs with less blaming than leveling dungeon groups.

Like I’ve touched on before, I’m a pretty fast tank.  I’ll run a dungeon in 5 minutes if the healer can keep up.  But that’s the catch- I go as fast as the healer is capable.  If the healer can’t heal me through all of that damage, I slow down.  Unfortunately, when I slow down for the healer is about when the dps start pulling even faster.

You pull it, you tank it.  If you’re going to run into a room when I as the tank am waaaaay far back, you can go ahead and take all those mobs down yourself.  Typically, I whisper the healer to not heal the offending dps, and I move past to pick up a different group.  If the dps lives, good for them, hopefully they won’t do it again.  If they don’t make it, too bad so sad, I pick up the adds and continue on.  I understand wanting to go fast but  I’m not going to pull any faster than what the healer can manage.  I don’t go slow.  There’s really no reason to pull for me, I’ve got plenty of ranged pull mechanics.

So the other day, I was chain running a bunch of leveling dungeons with a good friend from my guild, Vall.  I was tanking on my druid and Vall was healing on a mistweaver monk.  Vall’s a pretty good healer but he and I both know that mistweaver isn’t very strong while leveling.  Thus, I couldn’t pull everything at once- I needed to be more controlled with my pulls to make sure I wasn’t taking too much damage.

We zoned on into Dire Maul West and I right away began to pull trash.  The group was pretty silent  but that was nothing out of the ordinary. We worked our way through the dungeon, eventually getting to room with all the spirits in it.  At that point, one of the dps, a mage, decided I wasn’t pulling fast enough for his tastes.  He blinked ahead and proceeded to body pull a large group of mobs.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt and picked up the mobs as Vall healed him up to full again. But then the mage did it again.

This time, I was a lot less merciful. I sent Vall a quick tell to not heal the mage and pulled a different pack of mobs.  Being a mage, the guy went down very quickly.  I picked up those adds and the rest of us quickly burned them down.  Vall rezzed the mage, and we continued on.  Chat was still silent at this point.

We got upstairs and the mage, I guess he was just thick-skulled or something, proceeds to pull again.  He managed to survive this group but Vall stopped healing him entirely. We finished up downstairs and jumped down to the tree boss.  Then after killing him, we moved to the most interesting part of the run.

You know that big circular room in Dire Maul with the elementals all around and the demon boss in the middle protected by a blue energy wall? As a tank, its one of my least favorite rooms.  The adds are spread out and they run from all directions so it’s a touch difficult to make sure I’ve got all of them gathered. It’s one of those rooms where the group is best to stick together so we can finish it all as quickly as possible.

The mage was having none of that.  Again, he blinks forward and pulls a whole big pack of storm elementals.  They smash his face in.  The rest of the group and I continue on and the mage starts his long run back.  But for the first time, he finally speaks up in chat.

“Faster this way” he explains, despite the fact that we were heading the same direction he was.

Vall responsed “Not when you die”.  And he’s got a point.

At this point, the mage totally loses it.  I’ll just let you all read the chat as it happened, but let me tell you, it was wild.

Troll DialogueThis, my friends, is how you out-troll a troll. I’ve seen trolls  handled before, but never have I seen it done so masterfully. I was DYING at the end of the dungeon.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a very long time.  Mad, mad props to Vall.  That was beautiful.

Once the mage left the instance, the rest of the dps piped up and agreed that the mage had been way out of line. We were all rather shocked by how angry he managed to make himself.  But Vall’s responses had turned a potentially stressful situation into one that was humorous for all (except the mage).

I guess I was a little unfair to the mage in that I didn’t warn him in chat about pulling before me.  I (wrongly) assumed that it was a well known rule that the tanks set the pace and pull the mobs.  But really, given his explosion of vitriol at Vall’s calm responses, I doubt that it would have made a difference.

The lesson I learned that day was two-fold.  Firstly, trolls can’t handle people telling them they are right.  They just can’t.  Something inside of them breaks.  The next time I encounter an abusive player like that, I think I’m going to try the Vall method.  Tell them they are right.  Agree with them.  And watch them blow up in frustration and confusion.

The other lesson was that I should never get on Vall’s bad side.

Barreling through with Bearbottoms

Charging into... MY HEART

Charging into… MY HEART

You’ve already heard about Yotaan’s expansion lull project, now you get to hear about mine! Introducing…

BEARBOTTOMS!

She’s a druid, guardian to be specific, and I’m totally loving her.  I’ve been leveling her up through tanking dungeons and it’s the most fun I’ve had in ages.

First of all, we have her name.  Its just… perfect! See, I have this thing where almost every single one of my toons has the word ‘pants’ somewhere in the name.  The other part of their name has to relate to the toon in some way, either by class  or by race or by spec.  This means I have toons like Yogapants the monk and Stancepants the warrior.  So when I sat down to come up with the name for the druid, I had to keep the moniker.  The only problem was, there wasn’t any good play on words I could think of involving druids and the word ‘pants’.

So with the help of my guildies, I thought a little outside of the box.  What other types of pants are there? Well, there are jeans and shorts and bell-bottoms and…. Bell-bottoms! Bearbottoms! It was perfect.

So now that I had my name all set, I had to pick a race.  I’m no so very keen on night elves and I already had a night elf druid on another realm so I needed to pick another race.  Worgen can be druids, can’t they? I got over my dislike of the female worgen models and we were all set.

The very first thing I noticed about leveling Bearbottoms was how ridiculously tuned heirlooms were.  It had been a while since I’d leveled a toon and I was not prepared for the scope of my OPness.  I was killing things with one moonfire.  I was dinging every other quest.  By the time I got out of the Gilnean pocket dimension starting zone, I was already level 15 and ready to run some dungeons.

First, a little background on how I tank dungeons.

While I might not be the most comfortable max level tank, I’m awesome at tanking leveling dungeons… provided you can keep up.  I know a lot of tanks complain about dps pulling, well, I pull so fast the dps can’t even keep up.  I clear most dungeons in under ten minutes.  Right now you must be thinking “Wow, she’s one of those“.  Well, in reality I am.  But I’d like to think I’m a touch better than all those agressively LoSing speed demons.

For one, I always wait to pull bosses until everyone is there.  I might tear half way across the instance with all the trash tailing me, but when we get to a boss, I’m waiting until everyone is in that room.  For another, I never activate quest items until everyone who’s gotten it needs it.  So you know that famous quest in Escape from Durnholde where you’ve gotta talk to Thrall but you never can because the tank activates him before you can complete the quest? I always make sure I wait to click him until everyone is all set.

The last thing I always do is because of my healer background.  I know firsthand how annoying it is to be trying to heal someone and they LoS you.  And then inevitably blame you when they die. When I tank, I might run out of LoS but I always make sure I’ve got the self heals and mitigation to survive.  And if for whatever reason I don’t, I own up to the mistake right away.  It’s my decision to pull like a crazy person anyways, there’s no reason to blame the healer.

Back to tanking on Bearbottoms.  This was my first experience tanking on a druid, but the experience was very similar to low level warrior.  Charge in (I took that talent), Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Thrash, Savage Defense, Cat Form and move on to the next pack.  If I’m getting low and the healer is far behind, quickly shapeshift and Rejuvenate.  But what was different from my warrior was my ability to survive.  I could pull the entire instance and survive without a healer anywhere. It’s almost unfair how over powered I am.

And on top of this, I’m still leveling extremely fast.  I can ding two level on average per dungeon if I do the quests, meaning I’m leveling up about every 5 minutes.  It’s totally crazy! Probably broken as well, but I’m going to enjoy it for what it.

I’m most likely going to take Boomkin as my offspec because the legion artifacts for Balance druids are super awesome.  Also, moonfiring things to death is kinda awesome.  I’m playing this druid entirely to have a good time, so I’m not going to worry about min maxing and ‘optimal playstyles’.  And I have to say, that in itself is a nice break from Heroic raiding min max all things mode.  Bearbottoms is my messing around toon.

So this is my little project for the expansion lull.  Will I get to 100 on her? Probably.  Am I worried about that? Not really.  I just want to maul some faces and stare at a pixelated bear butt as it flies through instances.

What are your guy’s expansion lull projects?

 

(Addendum: the amount of bear related puns I’ve created thus far is staggering.  I mean, look at the title.  Look at it.  It’s glorious!)

Times Change

Times ChangeIf you had told me a year ago that I would be raiding current tier progression, I would have looked at you and laughed.  If you had told me a year ago that I would be the officer in a guild 900 strong I would have shook my head and told you no way.  If you had told me that I would have tanked current raids, led three groups successfully to their Herald of the Titans achievement, or fallen in love with the monk class I simply would not have believed you.  And yet here we are, a year later.  And all those things are true.

A year ago, I was a part of a small but cheery little guild.  While it was full of wonderful people that I truly enjoyed playing with, it just was not a good fit for the way I played the game.  A year ago I was an average pug healer.  Occasionally I would have some really good plays but I wasn’t much special.  I wanted to raid more than the pugs I could get into, but I didn’t think there was a guild out there who would want me with my unpredictable schedule.  A year ago I was terrified of tanking.  I couldn’t even lead a dungeon at max level, let alone tank any raids.  A year ago, I restricted myself to what I had at that time.  I rarely went far beyond my comfort zones and I hesitated before most opportunities.

What was that thing Garrosh said in the cinematic?
Times change.

Today I am a proud officer in <Of The Queue>.  I have successfully lead a number of events.  I have tanked all of Highmaul, most of Blackrock Foundry, and a bit of Hellfire Citadel.  I have become a much better healer, capable of using my cooldowns and abilities in a raid environment.  I am in a raid group that is 7/13 in Hellfire Citadel and progressing rapidly.  And I now rock a mistweaver and brewmaster monk as my second main.

So many times we stop short with what we have.  We are so afraid of change and of failure that we don’t move forward.  What we have is good enough, no need to desire more.  But the world out there is boundless in it’s opportunities. Even if we fall, we can always get back up again.

Have I had my fair share of failed ventures? Absolutely.  I worked so very hard on things that completely fall through.  I’ve said “Good enough” instead of finding ‘best’. I’ve let fear keep me from trying new things.

But I’m making the conscious effort to stop.  I want to experience all that the world has to offer (both in game and out).  Instead of saying no, I want to say yes to new experiences.  Because the world moves and world changes.  Times change.

I have found my niche in the game where I am happy.  I log in and say hello to all the people and I feel like I belong.  I’ve pushed beyond my ‘good enough’ and into my ‘great’. I’ve found friends to support me and taken opportunities that I never would have dreamed of getting.  And most of all, I’ve accepted that it can change.  Everything can change. I won’t be stuck in the past, grasping at the almosts.

So this is my message to you today.  A bit sappy, I willingly admit.  But genuine.  Seek out what makes you happiest.  Times change; let yourself change with them. Find your ‘great’.

A Walk back in Time

TimewalkingI finally got to enjoy some good old fashioned Wrath timewalker dungeons this weekend (after missing the first weekend of timewalking).  And while my only memories of these dungeons are from leveling, I still found the experience quite enjoyable!

The first (and arguable the most exciting aspect for myself) thing that I noticed about timewalking was that it scaled down your gear to level.  Not only did this help the level the playing field, but this also meant that gear from earlier expansions suddenly became relevant.  I was taking Yogapants out for the timewalking spin, the character that I had done Herald of the Titans on.  This meant I had a set of gemmed, enchanted, and totally awesome tanking gear saved in my bank from Ulduar.
Even though I completed Heralds a few months ago, it felt pretty awesome to get back into my old gear.  My transmog was saved as well, so I looked pretty amazingly stylish.  I also pulled out my singular Warglaive of Azzinoth.  If you’re going to do it, go whole hog!

Now onto the actual dungeons.  I had not actually completed these dungeons in heroic mode, so there were new mechanics (and in some cases, bosses) for me to learn.  But they were the same dungeons that I had spent so many leveling trips through.  The familiarity was welcoming.

My gear and level was scaled down which also meant my health and damage were.  As a tank, I found myself having to bust out more cooldowns than usual.  I had to be on my toes for interrupts, CCs, and bursts of damage. While that took some getting used to, on the whole I enjoyed the increased difficulty.  If these dungeons had been facerolls I doubt I would have done as many as I did.

The gear dropped was admittedly rather boring.  Sure, it brought back the iconic Wrath look (fur, spikes, and brown!) but the stats were meh.  And everything I got was either critical strike (boring) or versatility (gross).   While some of the gear was an upgrade for me, the stats were poorly itemized for my spec.  I could just have been unlucky, but I would like to see some mastery, multistrike, or haste gear if at all possible.

But I didn’t run the dungeons for the gear, I ran them for the experience.  And on that front, they did not disappoint.  I will admit it felt a little weird to be running in places like the Nexus and not watching an experience bar for a ding.  On the whole though, I had a very enjoyable time.  Would I want to see Timewalkers be an all-time thing? Not particularly, but as a holiday weekend activity they were quite fun!

Titanic Heralds

The team that could

The team that could

Completing something and earning a reward always carries a strong sense of satisfaction.   But when you complete something, and it was hard, and it took time, and it took effort, that satisfaction is greatly increased.  There’s this pride that just doesn’t come when you are simply handed a reward.  A fist pumping, ‘yeah I did this even though it was hard!’ pride that makes the whole experience seem so much more worth it.  It might have been difficult, but it doesn’t matter in the end.  You did it.

I have been lucky to experience this a few times in my video gaming career.  One huge time was when I finally, after months of trying, got my Ahead of the Curve Garrosh Hellscream kill.  I’d spent so much time and effort working towards it, that once I finally got that achievement, I felt on top of the world.  And just last weekend, I had another such experience.

It all started with a little wish for the Herald of the Titans title.  In the early days of ‘Of The Queue’, several people (including myself) had expressed a desire to work for that title.  Being an events coordinating officer, I did some research and set up a group.  That group quickly expanded to three groups, and we began cheerfully leveling and gearing up.

For about a month and a half, we made preparations for the real runs.  We ran leveling dungeons, and then once we were at level, we ran gearing raids.  Morals were high and we expected to gear up and get Algalon down easily.  After all, all of the resources we had found has stressed how easy the encounter had become.  Heck, two prot pallies had duoed the encounter at the end of Mists.

Unfortunately, the encounter was not as easy as we had been lead to believe.  Not in the slightest. We got to the first of the runs and commenced our first pulls on Algalon.

And that cursed messenger absolutely wiped the floor with our faces.

Our tanks couldn’t last more than twenty seconds even with our healers popping all their cooldowns.  I think the lowest we were able to get him that first night of attempts was 45% down, by bursting as much as we could in the first minute before we’d be crushed. We simply couldn’t handle the amount of damage he was putting out.  After a good 2 and a half hours, we called it quits for the night.

As I have previously written about, this was the point where I took up Brewmaster tanking.  The next night I very rapidly learned how to tank and we started our first pulls.

We were better.  We were definitely better.  We could hold together for longer, had a coordinated plan, and were able to better execute the mechanics.  The percentages on wipes slowly creeped down.  45%.  Then 35%.  Then 25%.  We worked just as hard if we had been raiding current cutting edge raids, doing the dance of dps, healing, and tanking.

But it just wasn’t enough.  Wipes got down to 19% but we just hit a wall.  Algalon was hitting like a cement truck and there was no way around it.  I would pop Guard, an ability that puts a pretty sizable shield on me, and Algalon would tear through it in one normal melee. Every special ability hit required some sort of cooldown and any tank mistake would end up in death.  If the heals missed even a single cast, someone would go down. The margin for error was tiny and as we got more tired, we just couldn’t tighten enough to get him down.

Again we called it for the night.  However, instead of picking up a new spec I went and did some extensive research.  At first I had been worried that our failure had been some fault of our own, but what I found out disproved that completely.

It seems that Algalon had become much harder post squish.  In fact, he was as hard if not harder than he was when the fight was current.  Apparently Algalon’s damage has not been properly reduced, so moderate melees became crushing blows.  As one poster reported, Algalon is capable of putting out 44k damage in a matter of seconds.  To give you some perspective, my fellow tank and I have about 50k health maximum.  A few moments of healing lapse and the tanks would go smush.

I also learned the vital importance of flasks and potions (we had figured this out in our owns raids, but further reading cemented the fact).  Every toon in the raid has to been maxed out to the nines, or we wouldn’t be able to overcome the encounter.  Armed with new knowledge, we attempted for a third time.

We got all ready to run but one member of our group had to drop because the encounter wasn’t letting her zone in.  We attempted to find a 10th member.  In desperation, I put up a group in the Group Finder.  We got a bunch of 100s, and then a whisper from one dude.  One awesome dude.  Duskraven-Lothar just happened to be skimming when he found our group.  He got on his semi-geared shadow priest and we were all ready to roll.

Right away, there was a difference.  The fight was just as hard as ever and many wipes were still had.  But we were executing mechanics better than ever before.  A solution was found for a difficult mechanic that had been the causer of many wipes.  Duskraven-Lothar dependably cast Dispersion and soaked the mechanic for us (seriously, this guy was awesome).  We started at higher percentage wipes but slowly but surely got down to less than 20% ones.

We were almost there, wiping a few percentages away from kill in the second phase.  But we had stalled, we just needed that final push.  One of our members announced that she would have to leave in ten minutes, and that was the motivation that did it.  Several more wipes and were were just about there.

And then the star aligned.  It was the last attempt for the day.  After weeks of practicing, we executed the fight perfectly.  Adds were going down properly, damage was being avoided if it could be.  We got all the way into the second and final phase with no one dead.  For a few tense moments, we gave it our all.  Heals, dps, tanking, all frantically done in an intense silence.

Then, Algalon despawned.  We stood, shocked, for a moment or two.

Across everyone’s screens flashed an achievement months in the making. Herald of the Titans.  We had done it.  We had done it!

The cheering that broke out in Mumble was matched by none in it’s enthusiasm.  For a solid ten minutes, we cheered and took screenshots with our brand new titles.  Months of hard work had paid off and we had what we came for.  We were Heralds of the Titans

I want to thank my team for their continued efforts at this.  Every time we ran, our members brought some new tips, tricks, or experiences to the table. For a team that had never raided before together, we tightened remarkably well.  You guys were the reason we were able to get this, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group.  Congrats and thank you!

This was probably one of the proudest moments of my WoW career.  Just thinking of it brings a smile to my face.  My team and I completed something insanely hard together despite the odds being stacked against us.  It was a powerful learning experience with a worthwhile reward and I’m so glad that we decided to embark on this quest.

And I’m never going to take that title off now.

Brewmastering

Me and my bull bud

Me and my bull bud, taking awful selfies

I am not a tank.  Have I tanked before? Yes.  Do I have a general idea of what tanking is all about? Also yes.  But I am a tank? No. I don’t have the reflexes or knowledge to tank with any regularity.  The best I can do is a few leveling dungeons. Which is why the story I am about to tell is so shocking (even to me).

As I have mentioned a few times, I am currently running a Herald of the Titans achievement group.  I, Iike I always do, went healing on my monk.  However, so did the majority of the other players who are part of the achievement group.  So when it came down to putting together the 10 man groups, we had plenty of dps, a plethora of healers, and not enough tanks.  Not even remotely enough tanks.

The day of the run came, and still no tanks had appeared.  Instead of postponing the whole group, I bit the bullet and switched my offspec to tanking.  Fifteen minutes later, and we were getting set up for our first pulls.

Now I had never tanked Brewmaster before, ever.  I knew vaguely that they had some sort of stagger ability, and something to do with flying kegs.  Other than that, I was completely in the dark.  I had a decent amount of gear (since I had been gearing up Windwalker and most of the gear is easily translatable) but other than that I was thrown out in the world without a clue in the world on how to Brewmaster.

I hurriedly set up my action bars as best as I could, read the tooltips of my abilities, and mentally prepared for the fight.

A little background on the Algalon fight.  There are a few adds during the fight, but the tank doesn’t really need to handle them.  The boss is hard enough.  Algalon, it seems, was not squished properly with 6.0.  His attacks are incessant and he hits like a cement truck.  Within the space of a few seconds, Algalon is capable of throwing out 44k damage.  And considering the tanks had about 50k health, this makes Algalon extremely dangerous.  Knowing your cooldowns and abilities is a must.  And here I was, a brand new Brewmaster, going in to tank this cement truck.

Unsurprisingly, the first few pulls did not go over so well.  As soon as the tank swap came, Algalon would turn his fist of fury on me, and gnome monk would squish everywhere.  However, I am super glad to be part of a supportive and encouraging team, so we picked ourselves back up and kept at it.

I started to get smarter, building up my Brew stacks so I could pop my Elusive Brew when the boss started smashing on me.  Instead of lasting three seconds, I lasted five, then ten, then until the other tank picked the boss up again.  I was actually getting better at this!

Over the next two hours, I went from completely inexperienced and confused to ‘Hey I actually know sort of what I’m doing’!  As someone with a chronic fear of tanking raids, that was a really empowering moment.  I began to feel that I actually knew a thing or two about tanking.  I began to conquer my fear of being the punching bag.  And while we wiped a lot, I feel like I was actually accomplishing something.

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with our attempts to down Algalon.  As we found out later, that fight is now as hard, if not harder than it was when it was current.  We simply weren’t prepared for an encounter as bleeding edge as it was (this is not me making excuses, that fight is more wicked than many of the current encounters I have done). However, we did get it down to 19% and I have high hopes that we will be able to conquer it next weekend.

After the raid, I went and read all that I could about Brewmastering. Unsurprisingly, there were things that I had been doing wrong.  But not as many things as I feared.  As it turns out, I had actually managed to figure out a lot about brewmaster tanking in my first two hours.  Whether that it testament to the ease of the class or my skills at picking up tanking quickly, I cannot say.  But I’m still really proud of that raid.

I’m always looking to improve and expand my interests and abilities in WoW.  Tanking was a huge area of the game that I had barely touched up until now.  After playing for a large portion of my life, its pretty thrilling to discover parts of WoW that I don’t know yet.  Tanking world, here I come!

 

Addendum: Remember to go enter in the contest!

They call me…. Tank?

Thunderclaps
I did it.  I queued up as a tank.  I tanked an entire dungeon.  And then I did another.  And another.

And I figured out the trick.

You see, it doesn’t matter at all how good your gear is, or how well you keep aggro.  No, tanking is all about knowing how to communicate with and manage people.

I’ll use my experiences as an example.  The first run I did was Deadmines.  I zoned in, grabbed my quest, and began to explain to the group that I was new to tanking, but before I could finish a dps pulled and I dashed off to get aggro.

The entire dungeon went like that.  Me frantically trying to keep up with this rather rude heirloomed monk and keep the aggro.  It was stressful, tense, and frankly crappy.  At the very end of the run, I asked the dude why he pulled like he did.  His response was noncommittal and brief before he left the group.  So, I was shaken and nervous to say the least.  That had to have been one of the worst experiences tanking I’ve ever had, and it sucked that it was my first one.

However, I could not wallow in self-pity.  I had promised to you blog readers and to the Internet that I, Fussypants the Holy Pally, was going to tank.  So I gave it another shot. This time I zoned into The Wailing Caverns.  The big difference from the first time though, was that I was able to get that first message off.  I was able to explain to the group that I was new and that I would probably be slow.  They were perfectly fine with it.  We ran the dungeon, and while it was still difficult for me, it was nowhere near the level of panic in the first dungeon.

The huge change between dungeon 1 and dungeon 2 was communication and management.  The first dungeon was terrible because I did not explain to the group my predicament.  I did not inform them of my need to go slower.  I had no management over the group.  The second dungeon was just the opposite, I communicated and could manage the situation pretty well.

Another big part of tanking, is realizing that you are the defacto leader.  You set the pace, you pick the route and the bosses hit, and you ultimately make any executive decisions for the group.  With my healer mindset it is very hard for me not to take the backseat and just follow.  For, as the tank, I am the leader.  I choose when to engage in every mob and I get to decide how fast or slow.  Knowing what I can handle, and more importantly, what the group can handle is key.  If I am going too slow the dps will start pulling.  But if I am going too fast I will lose aggro or my healer.  Balance is vital and as the leader you must maintain it

Going back to my dungeon runs, in the first one, I did not take leadership, and basically was not able to tank effectively.  But in the second run, I grabbed leadership and was able to control the run significantly better.

The last important part of tanking is rhythm.  This is the one part that I still struggle with, and I think will come with time.  As a tank, I found it important to maintain a certain speed with my attacks.  Okay, Charge in, spin the mobs so that their backs are facing the dps, Shield Slam, tab, Thunderclaps, start walking back to the next group while I spam my other abilities.  This was my ‘rotation’ of sorts, and once I figured it out, I was golden.  No, I am nowhere near perfect in execution, but I know what I should do and when.  As a tank, it’s important to know what your rhythm is, and if it will mesh with the group.

At this point, I’ve leveled from 24 to 34 purely by tanking.  I’ve figured out the basics and have gotten pretty fast and relatively good.  And most importantly, I’m having fun.  I love the flipping animations of undead females as I bounce from mob to mob.  I crave the exhilaration when I charge into a group, knowing full well that I’m not going to die.  I revel in the speeds at which I can run a dungeon.

So, this is your advice from a noob warrior tank.  You are the leader as a tank, so you must communicate, manage, and control the others in your group and the speed at which you go.  Do this, and the experience will be far less stressful, and much more fun!

Tanking the Future

Hello all! I'll be your tank for this dungeon

Hello all! I’ll be your tank for this dungeon

It seems I’ve done it again.  Only a few short months after leveling my druid to 90, I’ve embarked upon another leveling quest.  Ranzine, fierce undead protection warrior has risen from the grave to fight for the Dark Lady.

This is becoming somewhat of a problem.

But, Ranzine won’t become merely another healing alt (I mean, she is a warrior), no she is destined for much higher heights of greatness.  For, you see,  Ranzine will become my first real tanking character!

This whole fiasco started on Fussypants, way back in the day (it couldn’t have been more than a year ago, really.  Early MoP at the very earliest).  There is a little known fact that Fussypants, my somewhat famous holy paladin, was actually a prot pally.  Yup, I tank almost solely up to level 70 on her.  Then, something happened.  Something terrible, yet wonderful.  I discovered the wonders of healing.

And I never looked back.  That one spec selection has since birthed three separate healing alts, and a rather talented healer.  But wait, what about Fussypants’s tanking?

Well, that’s where the problem lies.  I am now too scared to try tanking again.   From what I now realize of my tanking exploits, I was bad.  I was really bad.  My rotation was made up of ‘glowy button! oooh! more glowy button!’ and my gear anything with the highest amount of +green numbers.  I’m pretty sure I walked around in a mixture of mail, plate, and leather.  And by that point, I knew what the difference was.

So, I kind of have this stigmatism that if I were to ever tank again, that I would suck.  That all those little mistakes would be called out and ridiculed, and that people would kick me from group and insult me.  And that terrifies me.  It’s utterly ridiculous; I face almost the same consequences on my healers, and yet I’ve never been nearly as frightened of healing.

This is where Ranzine comes in.  I’m going to try to level her exclusively through tanking, and whenever I hit max level, continue tanking.  This whole thing could blow up in my face, or I could really learn to love tanking again.  I’m going to do it.  No backing out, no switching to healing, just tanking.  And I’m going to stick with it, no matter how many groups I get kicked from.

In my mind, the best way to try something new, is to just throw yourself out there.  So that is what I’m going to do.

Addendum: So, if any of y’all have horde side characters on US realms, I’d love to come tanking with you.  Currently I’m level 24, so if anyone wants to dungeon crawl with me, I’d love to have you!  You can email me or leave a comment if you are interested.