Tank like a girl
Nov 02 2010

Button mashing in 4.0.1 (or not)

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I actually managed to raid on Kadomi this last weekend, rawr, so now I feel confident in making some observations about warrior tanking in 4.0.1.

Throughout WotLK, our basic TPS priority got moved around quite a bit. You basically used the highest TPS abilities as they were available and kept mashing Cleave on multi-mob pulls and Heroic Strike on single-target mobs. Now what those abilities were changed from patch to patch, as abilities were changed.

But now it’s 4.0.1 and we have new threat values. Porcell over at Tankspot sorted it out with Satrina’s threat addon, so this is the gist of it:

(Note: All values verified build 4.0.1 (13164))
*Battle Shout _______________ 20 (modified) + 5*Rage Gained (not modified) (total split)
Blood Craze _________________ 0.50*Healing
Cleave ______________________ damage + 30 (split)
*Commanding Shout ___________ 68 (modified) + 5*Rage Gained (not modified) (total split)
Concussion Blow _____________ 2.00 * damage
Demoralising Shout __________ 41.6 (split)
Devastate ___________________ damage + 315 + 5% of AP
Enrage (Bastion of Defense) 1
Heroic Strike _______________ damage + 28
Heroic Throw ________________ 1.50 x damage
Rage Gain ___________________ 5 per rage (stance modifier is not applied)
Rend ________________________ damage only
Revenge _____________________ damage + 7
Shield Bash _________________ 60
Shield Slam _________________ 1.30*damage + 231
Shockwave ___________________ damage only
Slam ________________________ damage + 100
Spell Reflect _______________ damage only (only for spells aimed at you)
Social Aggro ________________ 0
Sunder Armour _______________ 395 + 5% AP
Thunder Clap ________________ damage only

Numbers. Crunchy numbers. Math is hard, so what does this mean in practice? That nothing much changed for us at all.

> Heroic Throw

Well, doesn’t that look almost exactly like the priority we had back when Wrath was released? Ayup! Only change appears to be that it’s now worth weaving Heroic Throw into the mix for TPS instead of simply for pulling. If you use Glyph of Heroic Throw, you even apply a Sunder stack with it!

Devastate doesn’t do that much damage at the moment, so it falls back to the bottom of our priority list. It’s the basic filler if other abilities are not available, as long as you keep your full stack of Sunders up for debuffing. The change from 5 stacks to now 3 completely went past me, but it’ll definitely help getting those 3 stacks up fast and then focus on our big abilities.

Not included in the priority are two abilities: Heroic Strike and Rend. First, HS. This ability is not tied to the Global Cooldown, so should be used in any situation where you are sitting above 50-60 rage. Which is surprisingly often. But it has a shared cooldown with Cleave now, so gone are the days where we always button mashed something. Now you will have moments where none of your abilities might be available. I am finding that it’s just as hard to untrain yourself from button mashing (or in my case mousewheel rolling) than to learn how to button mash in the first place. Overall I approve though, because button mashing is never good design.

I did not include Rend either. As orc having a talent called Blood&Thunder seemed incredibly appealing, but ultimately, it falls short. It’s an AoE talent that is currently not well-designed. In AoE situations in Generation WotLK, you do not have the time and leisure to charge, Rend, Thunderclap and Shockwave. In that time you will already lose the first mobs, unless your group is extremely patient. On top of that, Rend ticks for so little, and has no innate threat. My non-crits are 300ish, crits are 700ish, and that just doesn’t pan out that well. So I waved bye-bye and went with Incite, and in our Halion raid boggled at delicious 12k Heroic Strike crits. Yeah, I think I got the better end of the deal. I might spec back into it for tanking while leveling, but at the moment I shall repeat my sounds of MEH all over the place. General consensus seems to be that Rend doesn’t quite work for us at the moment. It will be interesting to watch what happens to this talent or ability.

As final remark, I actually had a blast raid tanking, and did not feel that warrior threat was weak at all. On single tank mini-bosses I had to stop using my priority and stick to debuffs or my threat was going up fast. On Halion himself (I was Twilight tank), I was pleasantly surprised that no one was close to me threat-wise. When we were working on LK pre-patch, I had a harder time with threat than I had on Halion, where Vengeance gave me such a solid threat lead. I am not unhappy in that respect at all.

So how do you guys like the ‘new’ non-button mashing warrior? I am still befuddled by the overall lack of change to the class, am I the only one?

Oct 11 2010

Kadomi the Kingslayer

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Yesterday, on 10/10/10, my guild Daughters of the Horde killed Lich King-10 for the very first time. We first pulled him on August 1, and yesterday marked our 10th raid day working on him. As we only raid 1-2 days a week, it simply took us that long to get there. 2 months of hard work on him.

Kingslayers are us!

The first couple weeks were marked by the brickwall of Phase 2. At first, we simply could not coordinate getting the valkyrs down fast enough. Practically every pickup meant the person would be dropped. We lacked the coordination to deal with valks and Defile close together. We simply could not keep people alive. It took us until late September to first see phase 3, which promptly meant we wiped right at the start of it.

On Oct 3 we finally had the raid where we got into P3 just about every other try. We still transitioned with 3 Raging Spirits up, but we did not wipe when the first Vile Spirits were summoned. We were getting there.

Yesterday, it happened. We made it. It was a messy kill. I tanked the Raging Spirits in both transitions. Thanks to input from Naithin (psst, start reading his blog right now!), I tweaked my spec to sacrifice Damage Shield and Focused Rage in favor of Deep Wounds and Safeguard. My fellow tank Lashe had the Lich King in P3 while Spirits were up, and Safeguard allowed me to Intervene on her whenever Soul Reaper was cast, to give her a 30% damage reduction. The healers said it really helped them with dealing with the Soul Reaper damaged and allowed us to not taunt off each other in that part of the fight, until Raging Spirits were down.

Once the Spirits were down, I picked up Lich King and Lashe started soaking Vile Spirits instead. But I was sloppy, I did not always use my cooldowns at the right time, and so at around 25% I went down. I got a battle rez from one of our two druids. At 18% I went down again, hit by Soul Reaper. There was no more battle rez available. At first I was shocked, we were so close, should that be it? Our ret pally Kaylexanna who always helps me with leading the raids (and keeping me sane) asked if Pain Suppression was up for the surviving tank, which marked the point where I managed to shake out of staring at my screen in blank horror. From that point on I did countdown, asked the healers to use cooldowns and to keep Lashe up at any cost. Down his health went. At about 16% one of the tree druids died when she was harvested. Two healers left. We kept the raid moving away from the Vile Spirits. Down and down his health went. I was sitting there, shaking, frantically, seeing his health bar slowly going down. Finally he was at 11%, then he used The Fury of Frostmourne and our Vent exploded.

Kingslayers with Arthas' bodyI have no words to describe how happy this kill makes me. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to down the Lich King before 4.0, just like we hadn’t been able to down Zul’jin in the week before 3.0. We have come a long way since then as raid.

I think Ulduar taught us the most raid-wise. I think without the experience of wiping on a complex encounter that we got in our weeks on Yogg-Saron, we wouldn’t have been able to deal with the repeated weeks of defeat on the Lich King. Not when you’re from such a small guild with such a small pool of raiders. Both fights are complex, long, and require perfect execution. In general, I really enjoy execution-based fights, because eventually you get to the point where it clicks, and that’s awesome.

I will say that repeated wipes in Phase 2 of LK are an excruciating way to die over and over again. You have already spent like 5 minutes in the fight, to the point of utter boredom as Phase 1 is very easy, and then you run into a wall. Still, all in all a satisfying experience and worthy of being the final boss of the expansion. I am not really counting Halion, though we will now take the time to peek in on him.

Throughout Wrath of the Lich King, our roster changed a lot, from Naxxramas to Ulduar to Trial of the Crusader to Icecrown Citadel. We had a lot of fluctuation tank- and healer-wise. For quite some time I stopped tanking and healed instead, especially in the early days of Icecrown Citadel, when my tanking burnout was the worst it has ever been. But I rediscovered my love for tanking raids, Kadomi’s still my girl, and I am so happy that I got the Kingslayer title on her.

My big thanks go to everyone in my raid group who suffer through me as their raid leader and tank. I am neither the world’s best leader nor the best tank, and not always easy to deal with, so kudos to everyone for dealing with me. ;) I am particularly grateful to those who stuck around with DotH. I think all of our current raid members are excited to be a part of our guild, and that makes me very happy. Guild perks are awaiting us in Cataclysm, I am really looking forward to them. We will level more slowly than other guilds, but we’ll get there.

I can now take a deep breath and start looking forward to Cataclysm instead of suffering from WoW ennui. That feels good.

Jan 25 2010

Storming the Citadel

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-This weekend, my guild had its first ever Icecrown Citadel raid. We’ve never been at the cutting edge of progression and this is like the closest we’ve ever been timeline-wise to starting progression fights. It’s pretty cool. It’s one of the things that I love about WotLK. It truly has made raiding accessible to everyone. We have been able to visit all raid content in the game so far, this would have been inconceivable in previous incarnations of WoW. Kudos!

Now, this first ICC-10 raid was a really different raid for me. It was the first raid I wasn’t going in as progression raid leader and main tank. I recently stepped down as guild officer, after 3.5 years. There were many contributing factors. First, I have no tact. I don’t know if this is a German trait or just me, so I fail at anything that in any form requires tact. When I think someone sucks, I will not sugarcoat it. I won’t be insulting, but I won’t pat on the head either. I will offer advice, but I won’t coddle. As I have posted many times, my guild is all girls. We have little to no drama, but we have a repeating pattern. Girls who have been in the guild for months will leave with absolutely no warning to officers. I don’t know if this is common in other guilds, but it really just happened time and again. Bam, leaving, and mentioning in their apps to other guilds that they did not like something or another about us. The lack of constructive criticism towards the most approachable group of people I have ever met anywhere is baffling. I drew my own conclusion from this: people fear the bad cop, people dislike talking to the blunt, most vocal officer. One of my (many) character flaws is that when I feel pressured and pushed, I will push back and block. But you know what? I was one of 7-8 active officers we had at the time. Even with personal beef against me, there were other nicer, kinder, more gentle people available to talk to, even if it was to complain about me. Never happened. So I bowed out, because I love my guild, and I don’t want to be that officer.

Not being an officer felt like a weight is off my shoulders. I still schedule raids and lead them in off-weeks, but more for my personal pleasure and not with a look at the big picture anymore. On my personal raid to-do list I want to do a Sartharion zerg, because Kadomi of the Nightfall sounds sexy, and possibly Ulduar hardmodes, which should likely be ezmode, but I still want to do them. For fun. After all, WoW is for fun! I am also raid assist for our current raid leader, trying to help her out in any form. We’re a good team, so I think we’ll do fantastically well.

I also did not go in as MT, as I mentioned. In fact, our first night in, I was healing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know most of you come here to read about tanking. But in all honesty I currently do not feel good about the state of the protection warrior in WotLK. I have tried to avoid making whine posts, but I think most protection warrior bloggers like Tarsus, Linedan and even Veneretio will probably agree with me that currently, we get the shaft. Icecrown Citadel, or maybe progression content in its current form is not made for warrior tanking. Our utility and toolkit is supposed to be the buffer for our traditionally low DPS output compared to all other tanks, but that’s not enough for me anymore. Speaking of the toolkit, how awesome will Warbringer be for us when it no longer breaks snares? Thanks, PvP, I love that nerf. Same with Shield Slam damage. Now, there is a sustained damage buff in the air, and it’s likely going to be Devastate getting another buff. This means we go back to Devastate spamming. Big toolkit. Yay.

Yesterday, I was offtank on our second day in Icecrown Citadel. Never have I felt more useless as a tank than in the Plagueworks. Our current MT is a Death Knight. She’s excellent, I adore her, and she does a great job. She could have solo-tanked most of the trash, I suppose. All those AoE pulls where I hopeless spammed Thunderclap and Cleave til I was out of rage and basically only my current target was on me, everything else on the DK. Or on Precious, with all her zombies, where the same situation occurred that she was doing all the AoE tanking and all I could do was taunt Precious off at the right time. And let’s not speak of Festergut. Dead, dead, dead. Here I was, feeling helpless in battle stance, keeping sunders up, keeping Rend up, keeping debuffs up, pretending I was able to make any DPS contribution. I am not able to say that warriors do not have issues. We do. Please fix us, Blizzard. I’ll be on my ‘main alt’ in the meantime, my shaman.

Enough with the whining. Let’s hear some good stuff!

First off, our raid group is awesome. I can’t say that often enough. They bring it. On Saturday, our first ever visit, we went in and one-shot Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper and Gunship Battle. I had a blast healing, and got rewarded for my efforts, with the very sweet Midnight Sun.

Deathbringer Saurfang turned out to be our stumbling block for the night, after an 8% wipe. As we 2-healed this, I felt this was our first real healing challenge, holy crap. Healing a clothie with a Mark is really intense. Our two Blood Beast kiters got some good practice in, and we went back yesterday afternoon. That time I was tanking, not healing, and it was a very amazing one-shot. It was a beauty to behold. Our kiters did a fabulous job, Blood Beasts went down smoothly, our tank transitions were very well timed, and we got our first Mark at about 30%, much later than the day before. I love learning encounters and then kicking their ass.

We moved on to Plagueworks and banged our heads against Festergut for the rest of the day. All in all, I think our raid DPS just isn’t there yet. We need every DPSer to break 4k or it just won’t happen, not in such a tightly tuned encounter. But we did not have everyone break 4k, and those who did weren’t so far above that they compensated for the rest. We cannot carry. I hope that will be in every raider’s head for next time. We cannot carry any DPS. It’s A-game or we will only bring home a huge repair bill. I keep hearing the argument that tank DPS doesn’t decide an encounter, but 100, 200, 500 DPS, it still might mean you beat that enrage timer. I think next time we might have more success with a more execution based encounter as Rotface while we try to solve our DPS problems.

I really did enjoy what I have seen so far, despite my personal disappointment with my own tanking capabilities there. Trash mobs! Traps on the ground to watch for! Rep for killing mobs! You have no idea how excited people were when they got to buy their rings, just like in the good ol’ days of Karazhan raids. Unfortunately I am sitting at 50% rep towards friendly on both my characters now. Next time! The encounters in Lower Spire were all good fun, and especially Gunship Battle made people happy. The Plagueworks immediately set the bar with a lot higher difficulty, starting with the Vrykul trash pulls. It will feel amazing to clear it.

As an aside, I should note that my 24″ monitor I got for Christmas still makes me so freaking happy, and I am in love with my raid UI. Witness my screenshot of the Saurfang kill. Now only try to ignore the stupid quest tracker on the right. Really need to find a way to disable it in raids. I need to write another addon spotlight, to sing the praises for DXE. Deus Vox Encounters is fantastic, I love it, I fully endorse it. Must post about it soon.

Filed under : guild, icc, raiding | 25 Comments »
Dec 01 2009

The Secrets of Ulduar

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I recently had reason to look over my achievements, and it’s really interesting, to kinda read my guild’s raiding story via achievement dates. My guild started raiding in Ulduar in June. Every second weekend we would venture into Ulduar, plodding through. In mid-June we had our first bigger success, clearing both Siege and Antechamber for the first time. We moved on to the Keepers and managed to get Hodir for the first time a month after first clearing Antechamber. Another month later, we got both Thorim and Freya. Yet another month later we got Mimiron, killing all Keepers. Vezax we killed the first day we worked on him, and since then we’ve been working on Yogg-Saron. We extended twice, re-cleared to him, extended again.

On November 29, we killed Yogg-Saron for the first time, earning us the Secrets of Ulduar achievement. Five months after starting. It sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t feel like it took us that long, because that’s 20 weeks, meaning 10 raid IDs or less. We used the extension feature (am very grateful to Blizzard for implementing this) for Mimiron and Yogg-Saron to squeeze in an extra raid day to work on them.

From a tank perspective, I feel Ulduar offers a lot of very interesting fights, and it’s still a fresher raid to me than Naxxramas will ever be. Despite the relative urge of ToC I can only urge all up and coming tanks to try and go see this beautiful raid instance.

My personal favorites:

  • Hodir – It’s a very dynamic fight that requires a lot of movement, maneuvering him around to benefit from moonlight, while still busting ass to keep a threat lead and use of cooldowns for Frozen Blows.
  • Thorim – The gauntlet is fast-paced good fun and I enjoy tanking in there. I have yet to tank the arena, and that’s alright, I think DKs and paladins are universally more suited to excel there.
  • Mimiron – Another exciting fight where as a tank I feel I can shine. Use cooldowns properly for Plasma Blast, run out safely for Shock Blast, tank the head in P3, and then bring it all together in P4. Getting that first kill was exhilarating, and our first one-shot of him felt awesome.

I generally prefer fast paced fights that are not tank and spank, require movement and smart use of cooldowns. Where I have to struggle to stay alive and ahead in threat, without having to switch targets like crazy.

Fights I do not like that much:

  • Ignis – This is mostly due to personal failure on Ignis. I suck at tanking adds in this fight. By the time I have gotten one add Brittle, another is already eating healers for breakfast. As we have an OT who easily handles all adds himself, it must be me. I still find Ignis tuned stupidly for his placement in the raid. Thumbs down from me.
  • Freya – The whole area kinda blows. A little bit too much trash, and the encounter itself is kinda aggravating. I think I finally figured out assignments to make the elemental wave no issue, but the Elementals usually made or broke that encounter for us.
  • Auriaya – The difficulty of an encounter should not be based on ‘Can you pull her safely or not?’ Also, too much standing around waiting if you miss the perfect time for pulling.

Love-Hate relationship: Yogg-Saron

This has been the most complex encounter of my raiding ‘career’ and I can now understand why guilds broke up over Vashj and Kael. It took us 66 pulls to get him down. 65 wipes. A little over 12 hours of tries. Out of those 66 tries, we got to P3 around half a dozen times, around that number, so that should tell you everything you need to know about this fight. P1 can go horribly wrong, but it can also be executed perfectly. But oh boy, did I contribute to some horrible moments. With three guardians up, I couldn’t see the clouds around me and spawned lots more. There were a couple Leroy moments where my boss mod just went wild alerting me of guardian spawns. P2 was by far the hardest to learn. When we killed Yogg-Saron, we had perfect brain and tentacle DPS. It was the first time ever that we actually had downtime without a single tentacle up. There were no tentacles going into P3.

P3 itself had me shaking with sweaty hands and I was unable to spare a second of attention to pushing my Push-To-Talk button. Others had to do the talking, I was too busy tanking, trying to pick up Immortal Guardians before they oneshot someone. Unfortunately I failed and so our ret pally and our tree druid bit the dust, and we still pulled it off, in a 12 minute kill.

I really enjoy the complexity of the encounter. I love that it’s so challenging as solo tank, which is what we did, going in with six DPS. On the other hand, I felt more pressure than usual on me, because if you fail in P1 and someone dies, it’s basically a wipe. If you spawn too many guardians, it’s a wipe. If you don’t watch your sanity in P2 or suck at watching Brain Link, it’s a wipe. In P3 you need to be ready to pick up Immortal Guardians in that tiny window of 10 seconds, establish quick aggro and hold it against the DPS who are trying to get the guardians down quickly.

Yogg-Saron rewarded me for our diligence, I suppose, because I got the Royal Seal of King Llane that kill, which is amazing luck. Not sure if it will replace the Black Heart or the Brewmaiden trinket. Probably the Black Heart.

This is the first time that we have ever been at a point that we have beaten all raid encounters currently in the game. We haven’t done any hardmodes, but we have beaten all the normal fights. That’s a great feeling. I am looking forward to  new challenges in Icecrown. Right now I need to figure out where we’re going raid-wise in the meantime. Probably that one-room instance that I don’t enjoy so much. Hate Northrend Beasts so much. Or maybe Ulduar hardmodes.

Here’s to hoping Icecrown will be as satisfying as Ulduar was to me.

Thanks for all the support of you friendly readers, I got some great feedback for Yogg-Saron, and all your encouragement to keep at it and not succumb to burnout. Rock on!

Oct 22 2009

This and that

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It’s been a while since I have done…story time! The mindless rambling of stuff that I have been doing day to day in WoW and which I used to post on Mondays. However, between the Sunday raiding and having to be at work at 7 am, I just have to squeeze it in this late in the week. So what have I been up to? Not much, and yet at the same time a lot!

First off, my shameful leveling project. It should be a testament to the ease of leveling in general, but in particular hunters when I can proclaim that my hunter just hit 70. I rolled her in the first week of August, and give her a playtime of 3-8 hours a week tops, which is very little for me. Yes, the one class I vowed I would never level because it’s so boooooring. But you know what? Boooooring can be very relaxing. As officer and raid leader, I go through bouts of burnout and stress, and that’s when the hunter comes in. True, I could just send the pet in and auto-shoot my way to glory, but it’s been very relaxing. Tiraxi is currently a BM hunter in absolutely craptastic gear (I have done one on-level instance, Blood Furnace), but at 80 I am looking forward to going Survival and might even raid with my German friends. Maybe. They raid a lot more than I do and are all gung-ho about hardmodes. But who knows? I might fit in. And if not? That’s also a-okay.

On Kadomi, I have drastically reduced the amount of heroics she’s doing. After tanking every single day of the week, in a frenzy to save up Emblems of Triumph, it all kinda deflated after I got the 45 emblems shoulders. I have been trying to get some achievements in while doing heroics, and that is an aspect I still enjoy. If timing wasn’t such an issue, I would be all over an achievement group. Me and mah favorite gals, we keep talking about it, and then never act on it. One achievement I had never tried for was Abuse the Ooze and though we completed it, I can see why people might skip it. Those slimes can get out of control very quickly, sheesh!


I recently finished the Champion quests for all Argent Tournament factions and woohoo, I am a Crusader. *yawn* Those quests get old, I tell ya, but I am a pro at jousting now. As Crusader I am pretty happy, because those dailies are short, fun, and in a nice route of getting nice gold and Champion Seals into my pocket. The first reward I saved up for was the Pony for my squire. After all my squire looks like mini-me (if I’d ever take off my helmet). Adorable! Disappointing that I can only use mailbox, bank or vendor, instead of all three in a timed window. Boo!


Then one night one of our guildies had an interesting bug. She sold something to a vendor and bam, she got the Gruul’s Lair achievement. Bizarre! This started some sighing from people who never got that achievement, and I decided to drum people up and off we were to Blade’s Edge, to re-visit the big guy. 10 level 80s, ready to take on the world! High King Maulgar and friends was an adventure. Our Krosh mage tank didn’t know how, our enslaving warlock couldn’t keep perma-fearing Olm off me, and those ogres laughed and mocked us. It took us four tries before we finally had enough control over the fight that we pulled it off. Not so easy still, that pull. Gruul himself was pretty much a joke. I seemed to have an endless stream of dodges and had fun stuff like -312 (3400 blocked) in my combat log when he managed to hit me. People were happy about their achievements, and I got to rar for justice, because they finally were mine. My QQ post about my SO outrolling me on the T4 shouldertoken is still a vivid memory for me, so when HKM dropped two Protector tokens, I was all over one! Right after the raid my friend Cariad and I went straight for Aldor Rise and then I got on a table to be at her level. Yay, Warbringer Shoulders!


The loot gods are so very kind to me lately. We did VoA-10 and Onyxia right afterwards, and Gleaming Quel’Serrar dropped. I only took it for looks and to maybe be my threat weapon in heroics (stats > unreliable proc), but I also won the roll for Onyxia’s head. Bye-bye Seal of the Pantheon, hello Purified Onyxia Blood Talisman! You might not be the best trinket in the world but in gear sets where I need def over stamina, you will now be my precioussssss.

As added bonus, Auriaya then coughed up a shield for the first time, and I won the roll, and am as happy as a tank can be. The same raid ID, we managed to clear to Yogg-Saron within our six hours of alotted raid time, with maybe 30 minutes of tries on Y-S himself. I extended the ID and we will devote a full raid to learning this fight. As our three tries were pretty disastrous in P1, any advice is welcome. Oh god, I want to kill him so bad, and I am so happy he’s such a challenge for us. Killing him will feel super-awesome, I know it. :)

So yeah, I guess I have been busy. What’s up with y’all? Getting excited for Icecrown? :)

Oct 12 2009

And we did move on

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Yesterday was raid day. We were in the middle of our first real Trial of the Crusader since all bosses were released when our hunter says ‘Hey Kadomi, you’re on WoW Insider!’ I quickly had to check on that and indeed, there it was, discussing the post I made last week of when it’s okay to move to the next raiding tier. Hi wow.com visitors!

As you can tell, I made the decision to schedule a Trial of the Crusader raid just to see how we would do. We had been there before when only Beasts and Jaraxxus were available, and we had struggled with the Beasts quite a bit. But yesterday we just breezed through. Yes, compared to Ulduar bosses, ToC is pretty relaxed. None of the fights has the intensity that I connect to our firstkills of any of the Keepers in Ulduar. The only fights we struggled with were Faction Champions, which is an encounter that fills me with rage. I don’t PvP, so it was very difficult for me as raid leader to suggest any working strategy. We were facing the pretty unpleasant combo of resto shaman, resto druid, shadowpriest, arms warrior, retribution paladin and warlock. It took us forever trying to figure out how to get the healers down, but the first time we got both of them down, the fight was ours. I was busy keeping the arms warrior under control, which was not as easy as it sounds in theory. HATE BLADESTORM! Ugh.

The Twin Val’kyr fight was two-shot, I kinda liked it, but I also thought it was somewhat confusing. Anub’arak took us like four or five tries learning it, but we steadily progressed through it, and thus, 2.5 hours after the start of our first full ToC raid, we cleared. Go us!

As is par for the course, there was not a single tank drop in sight, but our casters got to ooooh and aaah about shiny drops. Most raid members got a drop, which is always nice. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean full-time ToC now for us, next week it’s back to Ulduar. That gives me time to figure out how I can permanently weave ToC into our raid schedule without crippling our Ulduar progress. That one boss has got to fall, you know?

In my current raid gear, I broke 34k health unbuffed yesterday. That was a real high for me. We’re doing great. I have cleared ToC-10, VoA-10 and Onyxia-10, all this week. Our raid is pretty damn successful. It’s a fabulous feeling. Go go DotH. :)

Oct 06 2009

Of raiding tiers and when to move

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Despite a writer’s block, I’ve still been playing and raiding as usual, since Mimiron’s demise that I last posted about. In the meantime, I have managed a few firstkills with my guild, namely General Vezax, Onyxia, Emalon and Koralon. Of those bosses I feel the greatest satisfaction about Vezax, who was not as easy as he seems to be in web strategies. It took us quite some time to figure out Shadow Crash and Vapor management, and how not to miss any interrupts. The only part that was no problem were the Surges of Darkness, yay for two minute Shield Walls and Pain Suppression, and fantastic healers. I am also eternally grateful to the many suggestions of putting Heroic Strike on mousewheel. In our Vezax kill, I managed to pull off 171 Heroic Strikes, which accounted for 27% of my damage, versus 43 white damage hits accounting for 5% of my damage. Yay, I think I fought one of my biggest weaknesses as warrior tank successfully. :)

We didn’t have the time to try Yogg-Saron after learning the Vezax encounter and unfortunately this week had reduced raiding time, so that Mimiron is still up. I have decided that I would rather not extend the ID if Mimiron’s still up, because we will need all the time in the world for Yogg-Saron. My original plan was to down Y-S first before moving on to the next raiding tier, but in this weirdly non-linear raiding world, this might not be what’s best for us. People are eager for the shiny higher ilevel loot that ToC has to offer, and I think given our skill set, we should be able to go ToC 5/5 very soon. We’ve only been there once, in the second week, and managed to down both bosses, so if we can get past Faction Champions, I think we’ll have this. But you know what? It doesn’t feel right to me. Yogg-Saron still lives and is sending his foul tentacles of evil out in the world, and I won’t be done with Ulduar until he’s down.

I am still pretty enamored with Ulduar over-all, it’s a beautiful raid with diverse boss encounters. My probably least favorite encounter is Freya, but that’s because after, what, four kills of her we are still struggling with the *%*!$&$ยง& elementals wave. We must be doing something elementally (haha) wrong. Once we get the first of those waves down, we kill her, but getting there is making me go gray even earlier. One mob always goes down earlier, comes back and messes everything up. Aaaargh. The Freya encounter always manages to make two things happen: I get really frustrated and I feel like a crappy raid leader.

I enjoy the new Onyxia encounter, but this weekend made the mistake of trying it with 2 healers, which pretty much backfired on me. I felt like a wet loaf of bread, squishy like a clothie. That did not go so well. Again, it’s somewhat hard to find out where in progression this encounter might be based. Lootwise, beyond Ulduar, but not in difficulty in terms of the encounter.

We’ve recently run into a new problem, and the officers of my guild are currently working on a solution, or rather bridge. As a new 80, it gets more and more difficult (and at the same time easier) to get into recent raid content. It requires determination and pretty much a gear plan to get up there for Ulduar and beyond. We used to run Naxxramas in off-weeks, but that pretty soon turned into farm badge runs for alts instead of introducing newer 80s to raids. It’s going to be interesting to find a solution, but we have a game plan and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. I am interested in hearing how other guilds handle bringing newer 80s up to speed, so please share.

In some more personal gear accomplishments, I finally managed to a) save up enough Emblems of Triumph to get the Shoulderguards of Enduring Order that are such a significant upgrade and b) I snagged T8 shoulders and gloves in the recent Ulduar raid, so that I can now face encounters like Mimiron wearing the 4pc set for the incredible bonus. Of course, I now always have to make the decision of when to use the T8 gear, in which encounter, so I should really look into that. I am a bit sad I am getting the bonus via wearing the shoulders, when my new EoT shoulders are so superior. Hopefully I can get the legs very soon, via Hodir or Emalon, so I can ditch the shoulders again. And now totally gratuitous, a current look at Kadomi in her orc glory:

Sep 21 2009

Ding-dong, the bot is dead

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After all my recent worrying over losing one of two progress-raiding tanks, I have to say that this weekend totally made up for all the worrying I did. Even more exciting, this weekend proved that having two protection warriors in Ulduar means a lot of asskicking too.

On day 1, we progressed very smoothly through Ulduar, downing FL, XT, Ignis, Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Auriaya, Hodir and Thorim in 3 hours. That’s 8 bosses, 6 of them one-shots, and the two keepers being two-shot. We had an annoying bug on Thorim. We breezed through the gauntlet, I jumped down into the Arena, ready to pick up Thorim, he jumped down as well and despawned. What gives? Very annoying. I finally managed to score a little bit more Ulduar loot, getting Legacy of Thunder off Thorim. Woot!

On day 2, we started with Razorscale, which was extremely confusing. I have never seen so many Sentinels show up in my life. From there we moved to Freya, who really gave us more difficulties than I thought possible. We are still struggling with the Elementals, consistently downing them at the same time is hard. I must read up on strategies for that, because the rest of the fight is really a breeze, it’s only the two waves of elementals that cause us problems.

And then it was time for Mimiron, who I had never main-tanked. The first two tries were wipes that I caused. I did not realize the first Plasma Blast is so early and was too slow with Shield Walling. The second time, Shock Blast ate me. From that point on, it was P4 just about every try. After six wipes, one of our raiders had to leave. We replaced her, and I set a time limit when we would call it. Those last two tries P1-P3 were a dream. P1 over after 2 Plasma Blasts. P2 done with only one Barrage. No issues whatsoever in P3. We almost had it, that perfect execution.

In the last try of the day, people stayed alive. I called out DPS switches, for our ranged to switch over to the middle, then the bottom. It was looking good. The Leviathan tank died, I picked it up, and tanked it, while continuously spell reflecting the Plasma Balls from the head. Two DPS went down, we had a battle rez, then another DPS death. Numbers were ticking down. I was too rattled to call out more switches, DPS intelligently did it on their own. First part went down, then the dreaded self-repair bar showed up and then, boom!

The Keepers of Ulduar

It was pretty deafening on Vent, and I squealed loudly too. I think this moment beats our Hex-Lord kill as favorite raiding moment for now. It was pretty amazing. I am so freaking proud. We don’t even raid every week (though we kinda have since the extended raid lock, more often than not), and it took us 19 pulls spread out over two different raids, to kill one of the two big challenges in Ulduar. Next week I expect us to down General Vezax, and then we’ll pay a visit to Yogg-Saron. I am so freaking excited.

We had a fabulous guest raider again, Naissa, who tanked in Ulduar for the first time ever, and did a fantastic job at it. She kindly posted more screenshots, and I totally want her computer. If that’s not some badass screenshots, I don’t know anything. :)

Aug 31 2009

Wipe-a-thon, the Mimiron Edition

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Last week I extended our raid ID, to get a shot at Mimiron. It was as wipetastic as I expected it to be, but I also walk out of the experience knowing that next time we do this fight, he’ll die be freed from Yogg-Saron’s clutches. So yes, we didn’t down Mimiron yet, but we were well on our way to accomplishing this.

My goal for the day was to see phase 4. On our third try, we got into phase 4. From thereon, some minor mishaps aside (how about both tanks dying to the first Shock Blast in P1, mmm?), we consistently managed to hit P4. Our best try we had the Leviathan at 10%, the middle part at about 15, and the head was at 40ish. That’s not bad at all, if you ask me! Execution is everything here. Everyone living to make it to P4 is another. My plan was to get all parts to 10%, then 5, and then burn them. And next raid, that’s what’s going to happen.

All in all, I thought Mimiron was the most fun encounter so far. So much stuff going on, P4 is just crazy, and yet we were doing so great in parts. I can’t wait to try him again.

On Tankspot I read a strategy where you do not have a ranged DPS tank the head in P3, and that’s what I went with. Our paladin MT’d in P1 and P4, while I basically did nothing but slapping sunders on, keeping Thunder Clap up and waiting for my grand spot in the sun: P3!

The strategy works fantastically well. Basically, as soon as the Aerial Command Unit becomes active, you Taunt it, Heroic Throw or Shattering Throw, and then use Spell Reflect for the first Plasma Ball. From that point on, you do nothing but Spell Reflect and Heroic Throw every cooldown, to keep threat up on him. As you stand right underneath him, you can see every Bomb Bot spawning. Taunt the Bomb Bot when they land, whack them with any attack and keep them from carrying their damage into the raid. That way no DPS needed to pay attention to them and were all able to focus on the Assault-Bots. It worked really well. I managed to reflect about 125k of damage back at the head, and that’s a lot of mana saved and contributed DPS. Not bad for a tank who just stands there for the majority of that phase. You will carry this threat over into P4 and can just keep on doing this. However, make sure that while you keep running around avoiding Shock Blast, mines and Laser Barrage that you continue Spell Reflecting, or you’re going to eat a lot of damage.

I am excited about trying him again, and hopefully by next raid, I can report success! :) Strangely enough, he reminds me of my favorite boss kill of all times, Hex-Lord Malacrass. Hex-Lord was similarly crazy and dynamic, and I think downing Mimiron will feel just as good.

Filed under : raiding, ulduar | 4 Comments »
Aug 24 2009

Deeper steps into Ulduar

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First-kills feel dang good, don’t they? We’ve had 8 bosses down in Ulduar so far, but we definitely want to get more keepers down and progress. Seeing new content is pretty exciting, even for casual scrubs like us! :)

On Saturday, we mowed through Flame Leviathan, XT-002 Deconstructor, Kologarn and Auriaya, all clean one-shots with no difficulties whatsoever. The only stressful moment was when one of our druid’s rez macro went haywire and she kept announcing midfight that she was rezzing me, then herself, then the other tank healer. Heart attack time! I wasn’t dead, was I? Hee. I was pretty pleased that I finally listened to Veneretio and re-bound Heroic Strike to mousewheel. 2.1k DPS on Kologarn, 25% done by Heroic Strike. It is weird to see Devastate up there. I decided to help melee DPS with sunders on XT’s heart, which led to 36% of my damage coming from Devastate that fight. It’s time to re-write my old tank priority chart to include the new and improved Devastate.

We then did Hodir, and had a heart-breaking 12% wipe killing our streak of one-shots. However, as we’re still struggling on him, that was already an accomplishment. Lots of people (including me being bounced around by an icicle like an idiot) got flash frozen, every single time someone got frozen, and I guess my lecture that people needed to step it up helped, because we all got the Cheese the Freeze achievements for no Flash Freeze victims. That kinda felt good as raid leader! :)

We had enough time for a couple of tries on Thorim. I was gauntlet tank, my partner tanked the arena as bear. From the start, it was easier than our first visit to him, with a lot less arena mobs from what I hear. Gauntlet tanking was fast-paced, and fun. On the try where I did the pep talk that we would first get him into phase 3, we actually did, which also felt good, after the wipefest of the previous raid. Unfortunately, people, including me, were getting tired, and I could feel it wouldn’t happen, at least not on Saturday.

On the second day, we always start with Razorscale as way of warmup, and what a warmup it was. We got A Quick Shave, getting her grounded permanently the second time she landed. Admittedly, she had just tossed us back when she hit the magic 50%, so it was indeed close! Also, I had amazing 73% avoidance in that fight, which is such a sweet thing to see. All my recent gear is very parry-heavy, so I have just about the same distribution for dodge and parry right now. Sweet!

Off we went to Thorim, and started with a misunderstanding in the gauntlet. The second time, we pulled it off flawlessly in the gauntlet, got him into phase 3, our gauntlet boomkin arrived just in time to battle-rez a healer, and we took Thorim down. Not that difficult once you survive phase 2. I think this will be a farm encounter soon.

We then headed to Freya, and I was really unprepared for the trash pulls. There is a lot of trash there, oy. After a few mispulls, we figured it out and soon made it to Freya. I was tanking Freya, and uber-pally was on adds. We had big trouble with the elementals waves who kept coming back. I think at one point we had three waves of adds up at the same time, it was that bad. The Detonating Lasher and the tree waves were no problem, but the elementals need some more work. Nevertheless, the team pulled it off and just as I died a second time on Freya, they brought her into phase 2. She got picked up by our paladin, and they killed her. It felt eerily familiar to the Icehowl kill, with me kissing the floor and the rest of the raid doing the job. It made this firstkill a bit bittersweet for me. I will elaborate more on this tomorrow, I think, today I want to be all happy and uplifted as I should be.

We’re extending our raid ID to get some shots at deeper Ulduar. We have four bosses left standing: Ignis, Mimiron, General Vezax and Yogg-Saron himself. It’s a tough decision to make. Extend the raid ID and risking little to no loot for the raid, or starting fresh, doing farm encounters and having the risk of having to call it before you can do new bosses. We would have had time for one or two tries on Mimiron yesterday, but that would have been it. Tough call. I might change my mind and remove the extended lockout again. Needs some discussing. General consensus seemed to be to extend it.

I’ve been excited about Cataclysm and 3.3 news. I think we’ll actually have cleared Ulduar by the time Icecrown drops, so the timing is great. I don’t know yet if I want to invest much time into the filler raid TotC, because the idea of the Faction Champions encounter is such a turn-off.

Overall, I am just super-proud of my guild this week. We’ve been to Ulduar five times now. Less than 30 hours total, and we’re 10/13 in Ulduar. We’re pretty damn good.

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