Tank like a girl
Dec 13 2010

Cataclysm Dungeons: Blackrock Caverns

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This is part 1 of my series of ‘How to’ for the new Cataclysm dungeons. This will be about the normal versions only. I might post an updated version once we get to Heroic, depending on different things are. I hope they will be!

Instance: Blackrock Caverns, level 80-81, average ilevel required 226.

How to get there: Breadcrumb quest from Mount Hyjal, at 43, 28. Quest giver is Finkle Einhorn, and he gets you a ride on a mole machine. Otherwise, travel to Searing Gorge or Burning Steppes, head towards the meeting stone and run downwards to discover the instance entrance.

Notable trash:
Mobs here do not hit that hard, so BRC is actually a very gentle introduction to Cataclysm pulls. Crowd Control can make pulls a lot easier, so it’s a great opportunity to actually get used to CC again. Most useful will be forms of humanoid CC, and in the latter parts of the instance a warlock’s Banish can be very useful. Most trash pulls contain casters, so make sure to utilize Heroic Throw, Spell Reflect and even line of sight pulls to cluster the mobs towards you.

Bosses:

Rom'ogg Bonecrusher
Rom’ogg Bonecrusher – This ogre is a quite fun start towards seeing interesting boss mechanics in Cataclysm.

Abilities:

  • Quake, an AoE ability that will cause damage to everyone in the party. To avoid it, move out of the dust cloud underneath your feet immediately.
  • Wounding Strike, a Mortal Strike ability that will reduce healing on the tank
  • The Skullcracker, which he will cast after he has done a magnetic pull of all group members, and chained them in Chains of Woe. The chains can and must be targeted immediately and burst down before the cast finishes. Run out and live! If you don’t manage to kill the chains, it is a wipe.

When pulling him, make sure you have pulled back all of the trash groups in the front half of the room. There are a couple patrolling mobs that wander from group to group. As soon as you pull the boss, he will call for help, and any trash left alive to hear the call will add to the fight.

Notable tank loot:
Shield of the Iron Maiden – Oh yeah. Let the mastery items roll in. I like the shield model too.

Corla, Herald of Twilight – Netherspite mechanics strike back! Oh golden memories of Karazhan.

Abilities:

  • Dark Command, a fear effect. If this hits someone who is standing in one of the beams, make sure that someone else blocks the beam in their turn.
  • Death Grip, same thing applies as above. Apparently she pulls people randomly with it.
  • Drain Essence. This is the main mechanic of this fight and involves blocking beams. I am getting pleasant Netherspite flashbacks.

Corla will cast two beams, and there will be two cultists alive who want to stand in the beam to get the Evolution debuff. After 100 stacks, the person in the beam will turn into an Evolved Twilight Zealot, a nasty drakonoid that packs quite a punch. The key to this fight is to control the evolution. As tank, pick up Corla and pull her to one of two beams. The other beam will be blocked by ranged DPS or a healer. As the stacks pile up fast, people will need to take turns. They simply need to stand in the beam. As soon as someone moves out, someone else moves in. People must make sure they do not get 100 stacks either, as that will mean they will be mind-controlled for the rest of the fight. It won’t take long until the non-blocked beam turns the cultist into a zealot, which you then immediately pick up to tank. The zealot gets killed first. After the zealot is down, head to the other beam, have it unblocked, kill the second zealot after he has evolved. Kill Corla. Win! What also works is that you block both beams and simply kill Corla without zealots, but that won’t be an option on heroic, so you can already practice the proper strategy in this normal dungeon.

Notable tank loot:
absolutely nothing to see here. Boo!

Karsh Steelbender – Here’s where you control if this is a wipe or success!

Abilities:

  • Quicksilver Armor. Reduces all damage by 99%. If this stays on, this could be a loooong fight.
  • Superheated Quicksilver Armor. Stacks, increasing damage on him by 5% per stack. Melee attacks on him cause fire damage.
  • Cleave. Your average Cleave, do not want anyone but the tank in front of him.

First, you have to pull the two Conflagrations back to the ramp, one by one. If Quicksilver mobs add, pick them up as well. The Conflagrations are no joke and deal a lot of party damage. Once the Conflagrations are down, you can move onto the bad boy. Make sure people are aware to not stand on the circular grate ever, because everytime Karsh gets the Quicksilver Armor buff again, a Wall of Fire will go up. Now, as soon as you Charge in, you have to pull Karsh into the pillar of flame at the center of the room. Every second he stands in that pillar, he gets a stack of Superheated Quicksilver Armor and you can actually do damage to him. However, with every stack, he will cause increasing AoE fire damage to the whole group that cannot be avoided. You will not be able to stand in the pillar indefinitely. I found that 3-5 stacks are ideal, so please do not linger too long in the pillar. Pull him out, and as soon as Superheated Quicksilver Armor runs out, you pull him back in. Rinse and repeat. I will have to admit that we wiped quite a bit here the first time as I had to learn how long is too long. 3-5 seconds are not a long time at all, I tell ya.

Notable tank loot:
nothing in particular, though there are two good upgrades for plate DPS. But for tanking specifically, nada.

Beauty – Not the puppies! They are making me kill puppies! :o

Abilities:

  • Berserker Charge. This angry dog momma will charge a random player and deal a good chunk of damage with it.
  • Flamebreak. Causing fire damage to everyone within 10 yards. Means all ranged should be a good distance away. Does a knockback.
  • Magmaspit. Fire debuff on a random target, with a DoT effect. Do not dispel, it’ll make them explode!
  • Terrifying Roar. Your average fear effect.

Beauty is a corehound momma with four puppies. Three of them are in the front of the room, the last one is far behind her, with the name Runty. If you kill Runty, she will enrage, so we can leave one soon to be orphaned puppy alive. :(. The other puppies can be pulled individually to the entrance of the room. Tank them against a wall, strafe out of the magma puddles. No one but the tank should be in front of the little ones. Once the three front puppies are dead, you can pull her. As Beauty does a knockback, you will want to have your back against something solid. There’s a rock on the left side of the room that I use for that. As warrior, use Berserker Rage to break the fear, and move back to your regular position. Mostly tank and spank.

Notable tank loot:
Beauty’s Plate – A tanking chest with parry and mastery. As Spinks noticed as well, parry is very predominant on early Cataclysm tank drops. Not a bad chest!

Ascendant Lord Obsidius – a boss that requires kiting. Do people remember what that is?

Abilities:

  • Stone Blow. 150% melee damage and a knockdown. I hate knockdowns.
  • Thunderclap. Around 12k damage to people around him, slows movement speed. Why does my Thunderclap not hurt like that?
  • Twilight Corruption. Magic debuff, a dot that does 4k per tick. Dispel!

The major mechanic of this fight are the two Shadows of Obsidius that hang about. You can compare them to the Dark Nuclei in the Blood Prince Council fight of ICC. They have no real aggro table, they will aggro on whoever hit them last. If they are in the vicinity of Obsidius, they will reduce healing on their current target. Worst case: tank pulls Obsidius, Thunderclaps, no one ever touches the Shadows, and eventually the tank dies to the healing debuff. So what should happen is that you assign one DPS, ideally a hunter, to simply tag both Shadows and lead them on a merry chase. Obsidius will randomly switch places with one of the shadows and reset aggro, so when that happens, you as tank need to be fast to pick him up, and the kiter needs to be fast to pick up the Shadow again.

Notable tank loot:
Carrier Wave Pendant – a parry/mastery tanking necklace.

Notable Quest Rewards:
Raz’s Breastplate – for the final quest of killing Ascendant Lord Obsidius. Didn’t replace my Cataclysmic Chestguard, but if you had any other WotLK chest, it just might!

Hope you enjoyed! If you have any other special strategies I forgot to share, as always please comment. :)

Jan 05 2010

Trying to be of /assistance

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I know that not all of my readers are predominantly tanks. Maybe some of you DPS will read this, or even healers (because it applies to some of you too).

  • Read ‘Do not spank the tank‘ over in the WoW European forums. Credit for discovering this gem goes to Heartbourne over at Project Lore.
  • When you start running an instance, set your tank as /focus.
  • If you are melee DPS, create a macro to assist the tank. It will start auto-attacking the current target of your focus, which should be the tank:

    #showtooltip Attack
    /target [target=focustarget, harm, nodead]
    /startattack
  • If you are caster DPS, change the macro to:

    /target [target=focustarget, harm, nodead]

Why the macro, you might ask? Just to provide some kind of assistance to the tank. I play DPS as well, and I always try to assist the tank and not pull aggro inevitably. Based on my personal experience, many people don’t care about marked targets, kill order or /assisting, and this macro would be such an easy fix for a lot of people. Try it, you damage dealers. It won’t hurt anyone, and will not kill your DPS.

As personal appeal: Please do not pull for the tank.

I have seen healers, mages, death knights, everyone and their brother pull. If the pace is too slow, say so, without using the gogogo variation.

Alternatively, I think tanks need to be more resolute, stop taunting off people who pull or kick them. I know I will, because it gets tiresome.

Filed under : instances | 27 Comments »
Dec 24 2009

Survival tips for fresh 80s tanks

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So now you’re a fresh 80, ready to jump into heroic content to get all the things from my shopping list.

First, the good thing: as tank you’ll get groups just about the moment you queue up. We’re still the least played role, even less so than healers, so groups will be all over you.

The bad thing: no one is under as much scrutiny as the tank. There will be times that you join a group and people will start bitching about your health pool, your blue gear, the speed of your pulls.

Here’s Kadomi’s survival tips for fresh tanks using LFD:

  • take a deep breath if people complain about your health/gear/skill. Remember that you will be able to find another group the moment you queue up, unlike the possibly bitching healer or DPS. DPS are looking at queue times of 10-30 minutes after all.
  • know your stuff. Being a fresh 80 is no excuse for ignorance. Know your rotation. Especially when it comes to building AoE threat. Your DPS will want to lay the smack down and focus fire is often a completely unknown method in PUGs, so AoE threat will be your game.
  • learn the pulls. There are no differences in trash pulls between regular and heroics. When in doubt, run them on regular first. Know which mobs are casters, which one are melee, what trash is problematic. Typical examples of trash mobs that you should know on sight and how to handle them: Anub’ar Skirmishers, Stormforged Runeshapers, Dark Rune Theurgist, Twilight Worshippers, etc. Understanding all pulls can make or break a run, especially in an instance like H OK where trash pulls can be somewhat unforgiving.
  • be polite. Egomaniac tank divas have a crappy reputation, well within reason. Just because you can get groups more easily than others, you’re not automatically a better player. You are not a special snowflake. You just chose to fill a role others didn’t want to play. Bonus points if you thank your healer for saving your butt on a bad pull. Allison Robert from the wow.com team wrote some choice words for tank divas as well, so I am only re-stating her point.
  • don’t rush it. There will be groups that will carry you to success. Overgeared DPS and healers with an endless mana pool make chainpulling easy. But wait a couple pulls into the instance to get a feel for your group. You gain absolutely nothing if you leave behind the fresh healer who’s drinking in the back. Learn to eye mana pools. Being considerate never hurts. As example, I had a newer paladin tank who decided he’d run to the end of the gauntlet in H CoS. Well, he forgot to pick up a couple elites who decided to eat my face off as his healer. He didn’t even notice that I was dead when he called for heals. Pay attention, tanks.
  • if you’re a warrior tank, watch the threat meter carefully at the start of an instance, to choose your Vigilance target. Especially if tanking heroics is still new to you, the 10% extra threat from a strong DPSer will be a great boon. Don’t forget to use Vigilance. 
  • above all, try to have fun. Gearing up and running instances has never been as accessible as it is today. Make the best of it!

Got your own tips for fresh tanks? Please share. :)

If you’re in battlegroup Cyclone and ever end up in a group with a female orc tank wearing a Red Winter Hat, don’t forget to say hi to me. ;) Happy holidays, all of you!

Filed under : guide, instances, patch | 12 Comments »
Dec 08 2009

Icecrown 5-mans for tanks

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3.3 will go live today, which means I have to work on my shopping list for plate tanks very soon. To tide you over in the mean time, let’s look at what tanking goodness expects us in the 3 wings of the new 5-man in Icecrown. Running the wings on normal gets you ilevel 219 loot, on par with Ulduar-10, and running it on heroic gets you ilevel 232 loot, on par with Trial of the Crusader-10.

The Forge of Souls

The first wing offers 2 bosses, Bronjahm, who will clearly be a sex machine, and Devourer of Souls.

  • Lucky Old Sun (Bronjahm, normal) – almost identical to Legacy of Thunder from Ulduar-10, with subtle differences (more strength, no expertise, less def and dodge, but parry), same baby rattle model. Not a true upgrade if you already have the Ulduar mace or Peacekeeper Blade, but not bad.
  • Sollerets of Suffering (Devourer of Souls, normal) – interesting name, for sure. These boots are for threat, with shield block value on them, so I personally prefer the itemization of Boots of Heartfelt Repentance. Nevertheless, that’s a good amount of stamina and strength on them. Spiked Deathdealers are still the best deal compared to those other two available outside of a raid.
  • Legplates of Frozen Granite (Devourer of Souls, normal) – these are pretty strong pants. Socket, oodles of stamina. Very high def and hit which has become a little bit more important for tanks in recent times. Do you know how much a missed taunt sucks? A lot.
  • Black Spire Sabatons (Devourer of Souls, heroic) – Now that’s what I am talking about. Those boots are a lot stronger. Still not as good as the Spiked Deathdealers as they have no sockets, but definitely very solid all around aside from that.

Pit of Saron

The second wing has three boss encounters, Forgemaster Garfrost, Krick and Ick and finally Scourgelord Tyrannus.

  • Shoulderplates of Frozen Blood (Forgemaster, heroic) – very nicely itemized shoulders, because I love expertise. I keep hovering around the dodge cap, so seeing more expertise on gear makes me happy.
  • Ick’s Rotting Thumb (Krick and Ick, heroic) – that’s a disgusting name and with Chill of the Throne in Icecrown, I don’t know that anyone would use this instead of one of the high stamina trinkets. Still, that’s a lot of dodge, and a Last Stand effect for Oh Shit! moments.
  • Scourgelord’s Frigid Chestplate (Scourgelord Tyrannus, normal) – another solidly itemized piece of gear. Not as strong as the T9 chest, but a great filler piece until you have enough Emblems of Triumph.
  • Rimefang’s Claw (Scourgelord Tyrannus, heroic) – very nice tank sword. Yay for catering to the Alliance masses. QQ for us poor axe-starved orcs, again.
  • Icebound Bronze Cuirass (Scourgelord Tyrannus, heroic) – another chestpiece, and probably nice for a hit set. I’ll still go with T9 chest instead, because of the sockets.

Halls of Reflection

The last wing is supposed to be amazing lore-wise. Let’s see how amazing the drops are along with that!

  • Splintered Door of the Citadel (Falric and Marwyn, normal) – funny how the doors of the Citadel look exactly like shields from Ulduar. I call mine Harry, btw. But aside from another example of laziness with models, let’s look at the numbers, compared to the Shieldwall of the Breaker. Good news: the first shield available outside of a raid since Culling of Stratholme. Bad news: definitely not as solidly itemized as the Ulduar shield, but good armor, high stamina and defense. For anyone who’s still lugging around the Royal Crest, this shield is fab.
  • Eerie Runeblade Polisher (Falric and Marwyn, normal) – Cloaks for tanks are rare as well, so this is a very nice drop. It’s about on par with the Platinum Mesh Cloak, which I still think has a slight edge thanks to the expertise on it, but only a slight edge.
  • Falric’s Wrist-Chopper (Falric and Marwyn, heroic) – Well, hello thar. What a mighty fine tanking axe you are. Screw the block rating, I want you. I am an orc, shiny big axes belong in my strong hands. You’re no Ardent Guard, but I love you anyway, because of the expertise. Rar!
  • Crystalline Citadel Gauntlets (The Lich King, normal) – That’s a lot of SBV on those gloves, so nice for a threat set. Other than that, not convincing, Mercy’s Hold from ToC or the Conquest badge gloves are stronger.
  • Second Helm of the Executioner (The Lich King, heroic) – This is a very fugly model, ew. Blue socket, meta socket, oodles of stamina and high expertise are fabulous. The shield block rating we get dumped on our helmets not so much. But not bad. 
  • Fossilized Ammonite Choker (The Lich King, heroic) – very strong necklace. No complaints from me.

And that’s it. As summary, there are a lot of great pieces to gear up people and bring them up to speed with current content. Nothing I found is quite as good as any of the Emblem of Triumph gear nor better than any drops in Trial of the Crusader-10. I willl definitely try to get the axe, and maybe pick up some of the SBV stuff for a threat set (that I mostly use in heroics anyway), but I already have pretty decent gear. For everyone else playing catchup, or who never had much luck in Ulduar-10 or ToC-10, there’s some fantastic gear upgrades to get in there.

Good luck with patching, and have fun with the new 5-man! The upgraded shopping list for 3.3 will be published next week, so stay tuned. :)

Filed under : Gear, instances, patch | 10 Comments »
Aug 20 2009

Trial of the Champion

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The latest addition to 5-man instances in WoW is Trial of the Champions. If you look at LFG and /trade on my realm, you could almost think there is no other instance out there. Farmed and farmed and farmed and farmed. However, it’s easy to understand why. Both normal and heroic versions of this instance have pretty amazing drops for 5-mans, item level 200 on normal (on par with Naxx-10 or better) and item level 219 for heroic (on par with Ulduar-10).

What’s expecting you if you haven’t set foot in there? A very fast-paced instance (once you’re past the lengthy intro dialogue), on heroic a surprising amount of damage and hefty DPS as requirement to get shiny loots. Always remember that it’s got a super short corpse run, so if DPS dies, they can always come back, as the instance is not locked!

Encounter 1:
Faction Champions
You can get five possible champions here: a hax warrior, a mage, a rogue, a shaman, a hunter. The jousting part is easy enough. Charge and shield-break kill the three trash mobs in each wave, have the leader mark in what order you want to knock the champions off their mounts, don’t forget to trample them once they’re down and then…either pray that the pickup works, or do what most groups seem to be doing these days and have everyone run out. Due to the nature of the champions getting dismounted sprawled out across the room, it is incredibly difficult to pick the three champions up without one or two party members getting insta-gibbed, unless you manage to dismount them pretty much on top of each other (which we made happen once!) I wish it were different, because I hate the feeling of defeat of running out, but it is definitely easier.

Kill priorities: The shaman heals, so he’s a great target to focus on first. Always number one or two on the list should be the rogue when she is around (female dwarf rogue, wtf?!?). Her poison pools and FoK spam can be lethal and leads to a burden for the healer. Same with the warrior, his Bladestorm and the knockback charge plus Mortal Strike are a PITA. The only problems with mage and hunter are that they are ranged, so it can be difficult to cluster them with the melee mobs. This is more difficult with the hunter, as you can effectively bring the mage into melee range using Heroic Throw or Shield Bash if you are spec’d into Gag Order. Use the normal trick with NPC hunters, slowly move backwards and they will stay in melee range.

Summary: choose a good kill priority, interrupt casts whenever you can, move out of poison pools. Don’t forget to keep the ranged champions clustered with the melee so you won’t lose aggro on them.

Possible loot:

  • Legguards of Abandoned Fealty (normal mode): fantastic pants easily outshining the legs from heroic Violet Hold
  • Mark of the Relentless (heroic mode): fabulous ring very similar to Signet of the Accord, just without defense and increased stats. If you can pull off wearing it despite it not having defense, it’s awesome. I put a +30 stamina gem into it.

Encounter 2:

No matter which of the two bosses you get for the 2nd encounter, you have to deal with three groups of three trash mobs. A priestess, a lightbringer aka paladin and a monk. Unsurprisingly, the priestess heals and on heroic she also MCs, so make sure to interrupt both. The Lightbringer does annoying paladin things. The monk bubbles at the end which slows you down, and that’s just about all it does, annoying each and every person. Pull the priestess with Heroic Throw and tank and spank ‘em.

The two possible bosses have similar loot tables, but they’re not quite identical, so I will list all possible loot for them individually.

Argent Confessor Paletress
The scantily dressed clone of Scarlet Monastery’s Whitemane that listens to confessions on the tournament grounds is the more annoying of the two bosses and on heroic is a serious DPS check. If your DPS does not break 1.5k DPS, you will have a hard time here as some serious damage is flung about that will tax the healer. When she first aggros after the last trash mob is down, she will cast holy spells like Smite and Holy Fire. Smite has a very short cast time but you can time your Shield Bash and force her into melee, which looks funny, and the healer will like it. Once she’s at 25%, she will knock people back, cast a reflective shield on herself and summon a Memory. No matter which Memory you get, be it Heigan or Hogger, they all have the same abilities. The Memory fears for 3 seconds, causes shadow damage and slows down, and puts a bleed on people. Ah, and not to forget the melee damage. The Memory has a big healthpool, 390k to 485k depending on which mode you are in. It’s ideal to have a shaman with a tremor totem, but if that’s not available, use Berserker Rage to break fear. The Memories fear frequently, so BR might be on cooldown still at times.

Once the Memory is out, the encounter turns into a DPS race. The Memory needs to be burned, because while it fears and all the good stuff, Paletress will cast Renew on herself and the Memory and she will smite without any kind of aggro table, which places a strain on the healer. It is only when the Memory is down that her reflective shield drops and you bring her down. Dependent on how long it took you to get the Memory down, she might be at full health again. Dispel all subsequent attempts at Renewing with your friendly Shield Slam and collect some shiny gear at the end of it all.

Summary: burn her, interrupt her holy spells when you can. Burn the Memory, break fear, bring high DPS. Once the Memory is down, it should be no problem to get her down as well.

Possible loot:

  • Mercy’s Hold (normal mode) – lovely gloves, easily beating our T7 gloves
  • Regal Aurous Shoulderplates (heroic mode) – say it isn’t so, but these shoulders are fabulous. I will have to replace my beloved T7 shoulders with these boring looking ones. But the stats are awesome.
  • Helm of the Crestfallen Challenger (heroic mode) – same ol’ look as the Tempered Titansteel, this winged helmet is heavy on parry, stamina, hit. It’s a steal. And a blue socket. This can be turned into a stamina monster.
  • Peacekeeper Blade (heroic mode) – turkey knife, or lovely itemized tanking sword that has no no defense? It has a yellow socket however, so you can gem it for defense without losing the expertise bonus, or whatever you want to stuff in there. WTB more tanking axes.

Eadric the Pure
Compared to Paletress, he’s a harmless loot pinata. As a paladin, he will throw his Hammer of the Righteous at people. This can be dispelled. Or you throw the hammer back at him, as your main action bar will be replaced with a hammer button once the stun wears off. Other than that, you only need to pay attention to his Radiance spell. He loudly announces the cast, you turn your back to him until he’s done, and then you continue. Harmless, easy, tank and spank.

Summary: tank and spank, turn your back on him when he casts Radiance.

Possible loot:

Encounter 3:
The Black Knight
This three phase encounter is the most heal-intensive and challenging of the three encounters. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I myself am at times having problems keeping phase 2 under control.

Phase 1:
The Black Knight is a pretty default DK, who uses diseases and summons the herald he killed as ghoul. As the herald will annoyingly jump around siwtching aggro and will also explode after a while, he should be quickly burned at the start of the fight. I have not been able to interrupt Death’s Respite, which is the knockback he casts on random party members. This is a very easy phase.

Phase 2:
He comes back as a skeleton who immediately starts casting Army of the Dead. It’s easiest here if everyone piles up on the tank because trust me, running around like a headless chicken peeling single ghouls of the 8 ghouls that are summoned is no fun whatsoever. If everyone’s on top of the tank, it is a lot easier to keep this encounter under control. These ghouls need to be killed quickly. If you see them start growing you must run out immediately, as the explosions hurt a lot. It is important to move out of the Desecration that the Black Knight will cast on random targets. If you can get rid of the ghouls quickly, this is not too bad at all.

Phase 3:
This is the ‘Let’s pray enough people survive’ part of the fight. It’s made infinitely easier by having Shadow Protection from a priest or paladin available. The Black Knight will cast a stacking shadow damage attack at people, plus he will cast a non-dispellable debuff on someone increasing damage by 200%. So basically, if you’re unlucky and the healer gets hit, this can get rough. Save cooldowns for this part of the fight, and blow them all, this is the ultimate DPS race.

Possible loot:

  • The Black Heart (normal mode) – this trinket makes the place the place-to-be for any tank. 126 stamina and a frequent proc is amazing. Do it, become a member of the Black Heart club!
  • Girdle of the Pallid Knight (normal mode) – definitely on par with the EoH belt, and a very welcome addition to a weak slot in ilevel 200 gear.
  • The Warlord’s Depravity (heroic mode) – the BK’s only tank drop on heroic is a pretty nice necklace that has dodge and a whopping 104 SBV. I merely use this for threat fights, the very easily obtainable Shard of the Crystal Forest is far superior as far as necklaces go.

Hope this is helpful to some of you. Enjoy running the place, and may the loot gods grant you better tank favor than they’ve granted me lately! *mumbles about spellpower plate*

Filed under : Gear, guide, instances | 13 Comments »
Aug 11 2009

The week after

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The first week after a content patch is always one that’s a) busy as people are trying out the new content and b) ripe with frustration at the numerous bugs that need to be hotfixed. With 3.2, both is the case, as my guild has seen record numbers of people being online, while being plagued with bugs in several instances.

Two of the more common bugs appear to be buggy encounters in the new 5-man, but also bugged raid bosses, e.g. Gothik, Thorim and XT. I’ve run into the Trial of the Champion bugs several times. The champions of the first encounters won’t stay down, e.g., or the trash groups before Paletress/Eadric are clumped together.

Speaking of the new 5-man, it follows the tried and trued Magister’s Terrace model: definite step-up in difficulty compared to the other instances, with the same increase in loot quality. I have had beautiful groups of friends in there where we just tear through the instance, or I have had groups where DPS was so abysmal that we had to call it on Paletress. My advice to anyone who wants to do this on heroic is to really find a group that brings it in all three departments: tank, heals and DPS. Don’t drag your groups down when you just can’t break 1.5k DPS, be sensible. Yes, this also includes my guildies.

The new 5-man does of course offer very tasty tank loot and I was able to grab most pieces the many times I have run this place now. I’d first like to proudly declare myself a member of the Black Heart club, along with such ‘famous’ members as Veneretio and Spinks! It took me about 5-6 consecutive runs on normal mode before I finally got it, which was pretty happy-making.

On heroic, I have scored the Mark of the Relentless and Warlord’s Depravity. The latter is a very strong SBV neck, despite the not updated Wowhead tooltip, and the former is a wonderfully itemized ring that is a stamina dream. It has no defense, but I have gotten a lot of defense heavy upgrades that I can actually wear it now. I also broke a personal milestone, I hit 30k health unbuffed. Finally! I wouldn’t mind getting the other two tank drops in there, preferably the helmet, and I am sure I will eventually.

A common argument of the people who don’t like the badge changes is that it provides gear to casuals who don’t need upgrades, but they are forgetting the big part where upgrading your gear just fills great. It’s a sense of personal accomplishment at any level of play. Gear upgrades make people feel happy, and that’s why everyone’s running Trial of the Champion over and over again, and why people run chain heroics. I managed to snag two emblem purchases, Platinum Mesh Cloak and Gauntlets of the Royal Watch, and along with the drops from ToC, it’s a great feeling. Every emblem naysayer should think about that. Let other people have fun too!

I will admit that this first week after the patch was more filled with frustration than I have experienced in a long while, and those of you who follow me on Twitter will likely have seen screams of outrage that are a bit unlike me, at least to this public extent. Stuff just boiled over for me. A big contributor is that most days my guild is only able to field one group into heroics during my playtimes, and yet, no one ever asked me along on the fun. People are running chain heroics, and yet here I am, the guild officer who has to PUG. That was incredibly frustrating. By now, I know I am not the only one who feels left out, and we’ve been able to do runs on our own. I guess it’s an issue in guilds of our size that can’t be helped. It’s still been a hurtful experience.

I have had more personal issues as well, and the only thing I want to say about that is that it’s not polite or nice to whisper other people in your character’s main spec every single drop you’ve been getting. It doesn’t accomplish anything but breed resentment, especially if that’s the only kind of conversation you ever have. This might seem hypocritical seeing as I at times use this blog to tout all the new gear I have acquired. But I think there’s a difference.

In a later post, I will post about my experiences tanking Trial of the Champion, it certainly has a lot to offer on the challenge plate, and I will of course have to talk about our first visit to Thorim in Ulduar, and pick your collective brains for advice.

How’s the first week of 3.2 been treating you?

Jun 19 2009

The Emblem Debate

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I called it, didn’t I? Back in March, when Blizzard announced their 3-tiered Emblem plan for 3.1, I posted my critical view of their plan, and how it would kill heroics.

Turns out I was right. Since my DK hit 80, I was able to get her into 3 PUGs. One was OS-25, the other two were H UK and H CoS. It seems easier to PUG 25-mans than to actually find groups for heroics. Thankfully, my guild is accomodating, and so I have been on quite a few heroic runs. Yet whenever I am on and park myself in LFG, nothing happens whatsoever. I click through LFM for all heroics, and there’s a sporadic person or two but that’s about it. I would love to see numbers for this, but I am sure Blizzard has noticed an impact, or they wouldn’t have announced their rather surprising and drastic measure to fix things: bye-bye, 3-tiered system, hello 2-tiered system. I just wish they had done this for 3.1 and not for 3.2.

In an ideal world, Blizzard would have phased out EoHs in 3.1. Heroics and T7 content would have awarded Emblems of Valor, T8 content both 10 and 25-man would have awarded Emblems of Conquest. Both kinds of emblems would have had an option to downgrade to EoH for BoA gear, gems and entry-level raid gear. Does this sound familiar? Oh yes, because that’s exactly what they’re doing for 3.2. It would have solved some fundamental issues that the 3-tier system introduced. At least they’re trying to fix it now. I am really hoping they’ll stick to the 2-tiers for good, whenever they introduce the next raid’s Emblems of Uber-Awesome.

  • People would still have had a reason to run heroics, to gain gear of ilevel 213. This would be a step up from EoH gear, but not overly so. At the time 3.1 was introduced, people were already done with their respective content for the most part, so hardcore raiders were diving into ilevel 226 or higher raid gear right away. Not a huge gap.
  • Currently, people who are running 10-man content exclusively are looking at a very low ratio of Emblem-to-gear reward. After two Ulduar raids, I have 10 Emblems of Valor, and we are doing a lot better than other guilds who raid casually. Still, my first EoV purchase is quite some time away, and it is often gear that I can actually replace with Ulduar drops. It feels like a thing on the side, not a reward. To maximize your gear, you would still need to jump in on Naxx-25 farm runs, something that a lot of us casual 10-man raiders either do not want to do, or cannot.
  • Rewards aside, a lot of WoW players that also raid seem to forget one thing: heroics are something that a lot of people enjoy, for their own sake. Encouraging people to enjoy what used to be the heart of the game is not a bad thing, IMHO.

Reactions about the badge change are very strong, e.g. over at Destructive Reach. There are people who immediately say ‘Hell yeah!’, and those are most often people on the casual end of the spectrum, or people with lots of alts. And Twitter was full of people who were shocked because they are upset that people who might never set foot into a raid instance will have access to Ulduar-25 level gear. I can understand the criticism, it’s a drastic departure from their (not very) old system. One argument that I read was that’s outrageous because people who don’t raid don’t need access to such gear. But who’s hurt by non-raiders having such gear? Egos. Yes, hardcore raiders work hard to get access to gear, but they have access to hard-mode drops, Best-In-Slot gear, the vast pool of Ulduar drops, so how does that hurt them? Assuming you have talented people who unfortunately are just some time behind the expansion time curve, they will now be able to gear up and maybe be recruited for guilds that are already in Ulduar. It’s possible.

The only really strong negative reaction that I have with this change is that it will re-introduce farm raids. Karazhan was farmed to death for Badges of Justice when the Sunwell heroic gear was introduced. I imagine Naxxramas will be similarly farmed. This is a step back for my guild and I refuse to conform to it. While I will still set up Naxxramas raids to gear new raiders, I do not want to raid Naxxramas forever. We have Ulduar to clear, and then move forward to Argent Coliseum, and then to Icecrown.

I am not 100% convinced it will actually go live. If Blizzard changes anything around, I do still hope EoH are phased out for EoV instead. We will see. But all I am really asking for is that people look at the change as a fix for something that Blizzard really broke, instead of the slap in the face that Ulduar raiders perceive it as. Also check out Aurik’s view over at /hug, it’s a view I pretty much agree with.

Mar 27 2009

Heroics killer in the making?

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As I have posted before, 5-man content is probably my favorite content. Give me a good guild group, and heroics are the most awesome fun that you can have. Hell, even Suckulus was fun, if really frustrating. WotLK did a lot of great things with 5-mans. The length is ideal, they’re fast-paced, they’re diverse. Good job. On the other hand, I personally find it too easy to get into heroics, people diving on the first day at 80 is common, and for a casual player it takes away some of my personal sense of progression. The latter might just be me.

The reward ratio for running heroics is great. You get Emblems of Heroism, and the gear drops are clearly superior to normal instances, and sometimes on-par with 10-man raid drops. The emblem gear offers a relatively small selection of great items to gear up with, including T7 tokens for the perpetually unlucky or those who’d rather not count on RNG to get their bonuses. I personally was never concerned about the low number of things you could buy for your emblems, I reckoned the emblem vendors would receive fresh gear sometime. It’s here where I was completely wrong apparently.

In 3.1, Blizzard is introducing the Emblem of Conquest. Said emblems will drop in the new 25-mans, that is Ulduar and whoever that new Wintergrasp boss is going to be eventually. People who run Ulduar-10 will get Emblems of Valor off every boss, the currency that’s currently used in all existing 25-mans. Ulduar-10 raiders are supposed to gear up with the Valor reward gear that current 25-man raiders are already wearing. There will be no gear on either the Valor and the Heroism vendors.

What does this mean for the crowd that likes to run heroics? It means that you will sit on a large pile of emblems that you can only use to buy heirloom items for twinks, blue gems (which will likely go worthless when epic gems are released), or frozen orbs. I’m already at a point where I have spent emblems on everything that I wanted and am now only pondering offspec gear. I understand the reason, I do. It’s to fight the battle of complaints from the raiding hardcore, how casuals were able to get gear on par with T5 without ever setting foot into SSC or Tempest Keep. Badge-farming in Kara was hip back then, easy content rushed through for badges. I mean, when WotLK hit I was wearing all the Sunwell badge gear, some pretty great pieces of gear. I am not crying because I want uber-awesome epics for my heroics fun-time. I just want something more, something new for people who primarily run heroics. Fun-toys, non-combat pets, something.

The emblem change has already taken the wind out of my sails in regards to running heroics. I just got the Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement. I could try the heroic achievements for the proto-drake, but that’s about it. I won’t be the only one feeling like that. The raiders certainly won’t want to run heroics at all, why bother? For me it makes heroics pointless, until they add more 5-mans, if that’s in the books at all.

Will you continue to run heroics when 3.1 hits the live realms?

Mar 26 2009

Heroic Suckulus

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That’s my name for it, and I am sticking to it. Not too long ago, Blizzard asked for feedback on heroics and ran a poll on which one’s the toughest. The Oculus came out on top by a large margin. Now, I needed one more instance run for the Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement, and we finally decided to try this with a guild group. It was with some of my favorite people, great DPS, awesome heals, and yet, it turned out to be the most sucktastic instance I have run for a very long time. Really, it makes all other heroics look fantabulous.

Let me count the ways. First, you have those extremely annoying whelp pulls that are nightmarish to tank. They’re all ranged, and spell reflect does only so much. Just annoying. Then you have the element of flying around on drakes that don’t have the abilities of the final encounter, so if you’re reckless, you can’t even get healed. Get separated? Too bad. Then you have Mage-Lord Urom, one of the most melee-punishing bosses I have seen for a long time. We’re usually melee-heavy, so it’s suckage. But ultimately, you end up with Ley-Guard Eregos, in the only encounter of the game that you can never outgear. We wiped on him for three hours. Three hours of my life I’ll never get back. And of all the wipes, just about most of them were 2% wipes. A couple 50ish% wipes, and then 2% wipes for the rest of the instance. Inbetween we had to reclear whelps to get new drakes. Then wipe some more. It was almost 4 am my time when we finally got him down, and, well, let’s say I got a unique perspective to his death, as I fell to my own when he had 11k health left. Yes, nekkid Kadomi action, how ’bout dat?

Suckulus

 
We all vowed to never go back. I know there’s people who read this blog who have all the Oculus drake achievements, and I have to say, kudos to you. I have no idea how you did it. We tried 2 ruby, two emerald, one amber. 1 ruby, 3 emerald, 1 amber. Back to 2/2/1, and that was how we killed him.

Dungeon Hero is done, but I doubt I could ever get the proto-drake, simply because of Oculus. Ugh.

Filed under : instances | 21 Comments »
Jan 19 2009

My first week of heroics

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I wish I could say it’s been a hugely successful week in Kadomi-land, but I guess I’ll get there eventually. I didn’t PUG as much as I thought I would, it was mostly almost full guild-groups, as I mentioned. I managed to complete the easy heroics at least, with some blood, sweat and tears. I had a very good Nexus run with only two accidental wipes, and then a disastrous, called Violet Hold run. It makes me dread going back. The next day I grabbed a couple guildies and friends, and we ran Utgarde Keep and Nexus and it was ugly. Extremely wipetastic, so many tank-deaths, I felt like a noob again. Our healer had terrible lag in Nexus in particular and thus I went down so many times. It was a really low point in my tanking career, felt a lot like when I was an undergeared fury-spec scrub wiping the floor in Shadow Labs.

Nevertheless, I don’t give up easily, so the next day Drak’tharon Keep was the daily, I grabbed two guildies, managed to snag the PUG healer of the successful Nexus run, and had a smooth and easy run with no wipes. The Prophet kill was a bit messy, but all in all, excellent run. Some trash was so kind to drop Waistguard of the Risen Knight, which was a huge upgrade, and the final boss dropped Keystone Great-Ring. Wearing the ring and no def trinket my defense is down to 535, but that’s fine for heroics, and I am only waiting for 3.0.8 now to get fully enchanted for raiding. Today I promised to help the most-geared guildie who’s been pugging heroics and Naxx like crazy with Halls of Stone, so wish me luck.

Speaking of raiding, I just scheduled our first Sartharion/Archavon (if up) raid for the last weekend of January. Should give people some time to gear some more and get their stuff together. If we can make it happen, it looks like I’d be tanking, but that also means we might be short a healer. I’ll know more soon.

During the weekend, I mostly played my shaman, for several heroics, including one I hadn’t done on heroic, Halls of Stone. I think the tuning of the instance is like completely off. All bosses are a walk in the park, no challenge whatsoever, but the freaking Brann Bronzebeard event? Eight wipes, always at around 30 seconds til end of the event. The amount of mobs just got too insane at that point. Even in our successful try, most of the group was down, we got lucky. As a healer I felt the whole event was unbalanced. Searing Gaze starts at about 3:25 into the event, anything before that was easy to heal. There was not that much damage. Then you get Searing Gaze, people standing in it a tick too long, mobs everywhere, golems stunning you, etc. I know it’s supposedly easy-peasy tanking on the stairs, but that’s where mobs were tanked, and it still didn’t work out easily.

Speaking of the difficulty of heroics, it’s like back in TBC. The raiders are all saying ‘Yawn, heroics are caek, lol Blizzard we want more content’. The non-raiders who are just starting heroics, especially the ones with low DPS, they struggle. Blizzard recently started a poll asking which heroic is considered the most challenging, and the comments are full of ‘lol, where’s the option none’. Bothers me. But then, it’s the official forums, what to expect?

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