Tank like a girl
Apr 07 2011

Call to Fail

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This morning, as I was skimming through my Twitter timeline, I stumbled over Spinks posting about Blizzard’s new plan to get more tanks to use LFD: Call to Arms.

What a terrible idea. My immediate reaction to this on Twitter was the following summary: a terrible idea that won’t fix anything, aggravates healer and DPS players, and will breed terribad tanks.

I think we all agree that there’s a dearth of tanks using the LFD tool. I haven’t used it since WotLK, at least not on Kadomi. The reasons for this are manifold. I believe there are generally less tanks available than any other role, because it’s not as popular. The general consensus in most groups seems to be that tanks have to know every single pull, take responsibility for the run, and lead the group. Not everyone enjoys this, so there are less tanks. Add to this that LFD in WotLK created a new breed of player, who want to rush through instances at their own fast pace, and who are quick to point fingers at tank or healer after every wipe. Cataclysm heroics take practice, time and patience, and that’s all not factors you usually find in a PUG. In short, tanking can be extremely stressful.

If other tanks are like me, they did guild groups until they had sufficient raid gear, and just do the daily with guild groups. That’s my comfort zone. I know people won’t be stupid, will let me mark at my own pace, pull off CC flawlessly, are a blast to play with.

In comes Call to Arms, and the temptation of some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. Well, let me be pissed off for everyone else. Healers have an equally unthankful job, but there’s more of them than tanks. DPS are numerous, and are punished with long queue times. So in order to get a shorter queue, everyone has to watch tanks get rewards like that? Aggravating.

Also, that is assuming that tanks want gold, gems (dirt cheap on my server for the most part), flasks and pets/mounts. Well, I am sorry, if I want those mounts, I’ll just as well solo-farm them, getting lots of gold out of it for less time spent in a dungeon. For me, the biggest deal-breaker is that you have to solo-queue to qualify. I am sorry, but I like my pocket-healers, and I play WoW to have fun with friends. I do partial PUGs, but all the rewards above are zero incentive for me to queue. Why do something that will give me heart palpitations and will make me swear at my screen, and piss off the other group members when I get my goodie bag?

As further consequence, the people who are bad players, who already making LFD such a painful experience, they’ll only make it worse now. People have already mentioned it, but prepare to end up in groups with retribution paladins and dps warriors with a shield, frost deathknights in blood presence, balance druids in bear form, queuing as tanks to get a shot at the shiny, and just making it frustrating and impossible for everyone else.

I think the only way you could encourage tanks to queue up more often would be to give a Valor Point bonus. Change it so that you can do partial pugs, 2 or 3 random people, and offer additional points. And I still don’t know if that would fix it, but it’d be more incentive than dumping shiny things in the lap of a small group of players, and the majority gets nothing for their efforts.

Filed under : ramblings | 27 Comments »
Apr 06 2011

The road goes ever on and on

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When I started my WoW blog in 2008, it was at the height of my passion for this game of ours. The Burning Crusade was my holy grail (and still is), and I was passionate about playing and tanking. Over the years this has mellowed down considerably. My blog changed. From merely writing about my weekend raid adventures and personal progress, I tried to be a protection warrior resource, a guide. In some parts this was successful, my combat ratings and my gear lists were exceptionally popular. In some parts, it was not successful, because I felt pressured to churn out high quality content, when all I was was a widdle prot warrior raider who just wanted to gab about WoW.

In January 2011 I got my first real troll, but his message of me knowing jackshit and merely stealing/copying from Tankspot hit home. I didn’t feel like I knew my game anymore, and you know what? I realized that’s fine. The WoW theorycrafting world does not need me, and I don’t need to write guides anymore. Tanking hasn’t changed enough to dissect it in further posts. There are other warrior bloggers, e.g. Tank Hard who post boss strategies, Tankspot has videos, and EJ and MMO-C have the basic class guides.

What does this mean for Tank like a Girl? I might go back to my roots, and just post about whatever’s going on for me in WoW, which seriously is not much. I raid once or twice a week, and that’s pretty much it. When the next content patch comes out, I will release my new best pre-raid gear list, as I do every patch. It’s about as much for me as it is for the rest of the world. I am not dead, I still enjoy tanking, I just no longer have any pretensions that you guys out there need any of my knowledge to do your job. All the info below, as for how prot warriors actually tank, it’s still all true. The info is there. Take it, use it, and have fun slamming your shield into faces. I know I do.

But something is going to change. I am starting a new blog. When I created the blog, I wanted the name to be in the same spirit as Tank like a girl (though maybe without the flak I got for using my gender as part of the title). The new blog is going to be all about my pursuits in my free time. I love books, especially SF&F. I have discovered that it’s possible to love other MMOs and be interested in the bigger picture. Bioware owns my soul, I play all their games almost religiously. My spouse loves boardgames, and I really want to play more of them. I am a proud nerd. I Live like a Nerd. I would be very happy to welcome you in my new blog, where I will post about all that. I am so thrilled, because I will be able to write about things that I am passionate about again, just like back in the day when I was excited to start this blog you are currently reading. And that’s a great thing.

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Jan 10 2011

Slowly getting there

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Happy new year! I know, it’s late, but it’s time for my first post of the year. :) Here’s a quick run-down of what I have been up to since Cataclysm dropped.

  • Leveled to 85. A no-brainer. Didn’t take anywhere as long as I feel it should have. As I actually enjoy the hell out of leveling, I really felt it just didn’t take long enough. I would have been with requiring all five new zones to get to 85, but it took me 3.5 zones to make it. Hyjal, Deepholm, Uldum, and some Twilight Highlands. Quests are polished and fun. I leveled as fury, and at no point ever felt really challenged by mobs. All deaths that happened were entirely based on me going afk in bad spots. I would have been fine with progress being tougher. Due to Victory Rush I didn’t have to sit and eat much at all.
  • Enjoying the storytelling. I actually really enjoyed the stories of all zones. I didn’t mind the Harrison Jones stuff in Uldum, though I know there’s a big ‘love it or hate it’ camp for those. If I have one complaint about Uldum, it is that I found the use of cut scenes excessive. Sometimes I just sat there and felt that I would prefer playing over watching yet another cut scene. I thought the finale of Hyjal was fantastic. The quests about the Maw of Madness in the Twilight Highlands were excellent. Above all, I enjoyed the character continuity. Especially the Earthen Ring shamans, but also the old Zul’Aman crew, have recurring roles. I was especially fond of that tiny, angry woman, Stormcaller Mylra. I really need to level my dwarf shaman. :)
  • Diving into heroic content. I will frankly say that I love the new heroics. I love the challenge, the difficulty, the CC requirements, the time investment. I love having to chain cooldowns and bringing my a-game. It brings a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment to me when I can complete one of those new heroics. I haven’t done all instances yet. So far I have completed Blackrock Caverns, Vortex Pinnacle, Deadmines, Halls of Origination and Grim Batol on heroic. I found Deadmines and Grim Batol the most challenging, for sure. The toughest individual bosses for me were Altairus, Admiral Ripsnarl and Erudax. Go DIAF, Erudax. *rages* Grim Batol was the first ever heroic I extended the lock for, so that we could go finish Erudax off the next day. However, the time requirement is biting me a bit in the ass. During the week, I just don’t have the time to run heroics, or my timezone prevents my usual crew from being around. But it’s all good.
  • Working on my gear. I have three pieces of 333 gear left that I hope to upgrade asap. The bracers will be replaced with the Ramkahen rep ones, the gloves just need to drop, and the legs will either be bought with JP or Neptulon will be kind to me. My biggest hurdle right now is expertise. I actually switched to a DPS axe from H Deadmines, because it gives me tasty, delicious racial bonus expertise. Reforging is awesome, yo. I am close to my expertise goal of 26, after that I will have to check my gear for balance before we start raiding in February.
  • Leveling my shaman. The shaman is 75% through 84 and will be my 2nd level 85 character very soon. I have been a brave healer and have done some pugged instances, mostly Stonecore. What I noticed is that I feel more confident about shaman healing again. So far I am not running into mana issues, but it’s definitely not the endless mana pool that we got used to in WotLK. I also noticed that not a single tank is ever using any forms of CC in those instances. I am not sure what’s up with that. My personal theory is that it makes their epeens shrivel and wilt away, I have no other explanation for it. Can I heal this without CC? Sure. Would it be easier for everyone with CC? You betcha. Will every tank in the world pull all three groups of Devout Followers in the Stonecore because ‘lol, zerg’? My magic 8-ball says yes. My magic 8-ball also says that I will likely not continue pug-healing when I get to heroics.
  • Not blogging. Should have been obvious. I really want to remedy this, because I started this instance guide and then kinda lost steam. Now that I am running those instances as heroics, I will probably focus the guides on tactics for both regular and heroic versions.

What’s been up with you guys? Busy raiding again? Doing heroics? Just leveling up? Hope you are having a good time. Happy WoW year. :)

Filed under : ramblings | 21 Comments »
Dec 09 2010

Cataclysm: First Impressions

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Cataclysm is here, and like millions of people I have set out to level to 85. Current progress: level 82, questing in Deepholm. I started in Mt. Hyjal on day 1, to my frustration. The masses, the camping, the named mobs beleaguered by 30+ people, it just wasn’t any fun. Day 2 was highly improved, people had moved on to other zones. I briefly want to mention that I thought Mt. Hyjal was an absolutely fantastic zone. The final event almost beat Battle of Undercity for me, it was just that awesome. I feel bad for everyone who gets ushered in when it’s almost over. Freaking win.

Weird Shield fashionI have my frustrations with professions. I feel like I won’t be able to level my blacksmithing along as I go. I am in Deepholm now, and there’s only Elementium there. But I need Obsidium. This is sub-optimal. Farming the ore is full of frustration at this point. I should do that today, because the crafted gear is quite awesome. Despite having weird things like the Hardened Obsidium Shield that is worn in new and different ways. >.>

I played around with archaeology for a bit, but felt that it was just a tad bit tedious to level. I will work on it later, for sure, but right now other things are more exciting. Like throwing bear cubs at trampolines. ADORABLE. Nothing can go wrong with this plan.

I am actually leveling as fury, which is something I haven’t done since TBC. Most of the quest rewards are actually for DPS classes. There is very little to no tanking plate as quest rewards, and what is there is inferior to what I already have. The DPS gear is something else entirely though. Within five quests I had replaced both my 2H-weapons from ICC-10. At 82, I have replaced nine of my mostly 245-251 DPS epics. On the tanking front, I have replaced my shield with the above mentioned Hardened Obsidium Shield, and won a tanking necklace in Blackrock Caverns. Two pieces replaced, and my health went from 47.8k unbuffed to 62.6k. Holy crap!

I have only run one instance so far, Blackrock Caverns, and totally loved the hell out of it. I thought the bosses were all using very interesting mechanics. They will be kickass on heroic, I hope they make us weep and wipe us over and over. Only with challenge can I get satisfaction. Please, don’t let them nerf stuff! We used CC, mostly Polymorph on a caster, and later an additional Banish on fire elementals. I felt very good about my threat. It was a guild run, everyone was very good about holding DPS until I had gotten some threat moves in. It was great fun. I haven’t had fun like this in an instance for a long time. All my threat doubts, they are gone. For now.

Watch for my little Blackrock Caverns guide and gear list soon. I will write short guides once I have run an instance, for the latecomers.

What have your impressions been? Have I been the only one who loved the hell out of Hyjal? Most of my guild went to Vash’jr instead. Would love to hear how Cataclysm’s been treating everyone. :)

Oct 26 2010

Farewell, Veneretio

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I’ll let you in on a secret. One of the reasons I started blogging was because I got inspired by another blogger. His name is Veneretio, orc warrior extraordinaire.

It was in late 2007, and I was an orc warrior lady who had just started TBC heroics. I tell you, I miss them. To this day I love TBC heroics fiercely. I had some of my best times running those 5-mans with friends. I had Badges of Justice to burn, but couldn’t figure out what to pick first. So one day I idly googled and ended up right up at Tankingtips.com. I was amazed! Someone who had done all the work, compiled, compared and helped me figure out what upgrades I had to focus on. Even better, he engaged in conversation with people who commented. I was hooked.

Tankingtips was the first blog I ever added to an RSS reader, Bloglines at the time. It basically opened the world of the WoW blogosphere to me. One by one I added more blogs. It was a time when the big name bloggers were BRK and Phaellia. Five months after discovering Tankingtips I started blogging myself. I started very plainly with some guides to the content I was doing, so mostly Karazhan and heroics, and started writing my very first gear list.

The niche I saw for myself was that I would be the blogger for the casual prot warriors, or the beginners, or everyone who was not neck-deep in content in Black Temple or Sunwell.

Throughout TBC and WotLK, Veneretio always delivered. He always came up with emblem pick orders, compared trinkets, exposed the value of expertise for warriors, delivered solid, great content. On top of it, he always engaged with his readers, and always managed to stay positive about warriors as class. No QQ to be found there! I tried to follow in his footsteps, with my gear lists, with some basics, with staying positive, even when it often seemed that other tanks overshadowed us.

Veneretio was the first non-guildie to leave a comment in my blog, and I remember feeling totally awed by this. Sometimes we mailed. Pretty sure he was one of the people who talked Ciderhelm into linking my blog on the front page of Tankspot, which scored me the highest amount of hits in one day ever (October 12, 2009, 5509 hits). He talked me into signing up on Twitter. He was still my warrior hero, who always passionately defended our class.

On October 24, Veneretio announced the end of his time as WoW player, and the end of his blog. While he had mentioned it before on Twitter, I hadn’t quite believed it. But it’s real now.

For me, Veneretio was the pillar of the very small warrior blogging community. An excellent blogger, a great guy, and the inspiration to several other tank bloggers, all rolled into one person. He’s leaving very big shoes to fill, guys. I’ll try my best to keep up blogging in the spirit of Veneretio, but number crunching theorycraft is not my forte. Nevertheless, I will try.

Now is the time to unite as warrior bloggers, so I will start to compile a warrior blog reference page. If you are a warrior blogger not currently in my (outdated) blogroll, please contact me! Hopefully we can inspire other warriors to pick up blogging. If I can only inspire one person the way Veneretio inspired me, I will have done well.

Farewell, Veneretio! Thanks for your outstanding work, and I hope you will still post about your gaming adventures on Twitter. And maybe, just maybe, Cataclysm will lure you back in eventually. Anything is possible. Take care, wishing you all the best! *orc salute to the chest*

Filed under : blog, links, ramblings | 12 Comments »
Oct 19 2010

The week after

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It’s been a week since the patch, so I thought it would be time to talk about my first impressions on the three characters that I have actually spent talent points on.

Protection Warrior:

Kadomi was of course the first character to receive any attention. I chose a 2/2/32 spec, going for Field Dressing in the Arms Tree and Blood Craze in Fury. I then tested the waters in a Zul’Gurub fun run (which got me to Exalted, yay!) and immediately the threat pingpong started. Even the most sensible players in my guild seem to struggle with the concept of having to wait before DPSing, so it’s going to be an interesting ride.

I find that virtually nothing about the playstyle has changed, with the exception that Cleave/HS now have a cooldown. If you knew how to play a protection warrior then, you know it now. The priorities remain the same. SS > Revenge > Devastate. Concussion Blow is back, but I will need to do some research to figure out where it ranks on the priority scale. Spam Thunderclap to get 3 stacks of Thunderfury and deliver whammy Shockwaves. Thunderclap does the AoE threat of a wet noodle now, so in that ZG raid, I had bored priests that smited non-focused mobs and thus drew aggro.

Shield Slam has been boosted by a lot of talents, so it is now more important than ever to not miss any Sword&Board procs. Keep your eyes open for the Blizzard aura thing and hit mobs in the face with your SHIELD. I love Shield Slam.

I ran a couple heroics with guildies and actually went back to marking pulls. If I didn’t mark a skull, things were a bit hairier. But again, if people were waiting just a little bit for the first Shield Slam, then it felt like nothing had changed.

I have been sniping Naithin’s excellent Power Auras setup from his guide, but need to set up an aura for the HS/Cleave cooldown. I find myself having so much rage that it is my reflex to start spamming, and that doesn’t work anymore.

I do know that I am already facing my first respec, because Blood and Thunder sounds fun on paper and in the current game is one of the most pointless abilities ever. As you need to Thunderclap right at the start of a pull and then Shockwave, you can only apply the AoE Rend on the second Thunderclap, and by then, mobs are almost dead already. Rend doesn’t tick for enough that it’s even worth it to keep the talent for a nice Rend refresh via Thunderclap. you can’t feasibly expect any group to wait til you have used that many GCDs to apply that stuff. My horde heart is bleeding with some thunder, but the talent is going away. My points will be much better spent in Incite as you still have plenty of rage to use Heroic Strike regularly. Might as well have it pack a real punch.

While we’re talking about talents that sound good on paper, I skipped Impending Victory completely and have no intention of speccing into it anytime soon. It just doesn’t convince me enough as a talent, despite self-heals being sweet. Has anyone tested and loved this talent? Would be curious to hear.

Short version: the sky is not falling, almost nothing has changed, and we can still put out good threat, if your party is working with you. I do not know how our threat compares to the other tanks, as I have yet to do a raid, but I am not overly worried.

For further insights into the current playstyle of prot warriors, also check out Spinks’ review of how she is playing in protection in 4.0.1 or Baenhoof’s overview of not knowing if she wants 4.0.1.

Resto shaman:

Ah, taste my salty, bitter tears of QQ here. My shaman was always my main alt throughout the expansion, and for a long time it looked like she would be my Kingslayer, not Kadomi. I love my pig-tailed orc girl with the golden chains of healing. But I might have to stow her away in a box for a while, or replace her golden chains with the pew-pew of lightning bolts.

The short of it is that shamans probably aren’t broken, but that I personally cannot handle the changes, or enjoy them. Much like protection warriors, resto shamans didn’t get any really new toys. Sure, I can weave in DPS spells now to boost my healing and regen mana, but I wouldn’t call those breathtaking playstyle changes.

In Wrath of the Lich King, you were predominantly using three healing spells as shaman: Lesser Healing Wave as the ‘flash heal’ style heal, Riptide, and Chain Heal. Healing Wave was in the realms of slow heal that you would use with Nature’s Swiftness or if you had it hasted to top off a tank. But Lesser Healing Wave is gone now, replaced with Healing Surge. Healing Wave is now a medium, slow heal that for me heals piddly amounts of health. 5k health heal in 1.8 seconds unhasted? Piddly. Greater Healing Wave costs almost 4 times the mana, and heals considerably better.

Healing Wave is supposed to be our bread and butter, the spam heal. I only find it sustainable if you can keep it hasted with Tidal Waves, which means you need to keep casting Riptide to keep the buff up. On Saturday, we went to Ulduar, where I 2-healed with a druid. I felt clumsy and useless. I had the druid take care of the tanks for the most part, and tried to play the raid healer, and feel I failed miserably. I tried to heal Cataclysm style, and it didn’t work out. Healing Wave really was not worth my time to top people off. The heal was too small to quickly top them off. I should have used Healing Surge instead, because my mana knew no limits, but instead I tried to conserve mana. After all the new healers are all supposed to do that. In the meantime, the druid rocked it with Rejuvs, Wild Growth, Efflorescence, while I struggled to find the right spell for the right situation. In 10-mans you can’t just spam Chain Heal, and I feel like none of the new tools fit my 10-man hands at all.

Ultimately, the druid did more than 50% of the total healing in the raid, with me at 36%, and that has me all sadface. We are similarly geared, and in the past always came out even, so it’s definitely my issue. The only fight where I shone was Assembly of Iron hard, but only because the druid was focusing on the Steelbreaker tank, and I healed the other tank and the raid.

I am undecided yet what my shaman’s fate will be, but I just know that I had no fun with shaman healing, for the first time since I went resto at level 74 sometime in 2008.

Resto druid:

I originally had not wanted to level the druid. She was my last character to hit 80. I decided to level my discarded TBC druid as resto, when we hit a snag on Sindragosa. At the time our healing corps was mostly shaman, and having no real HoTs on Sindragosa was horrible. So I leveled my druid, enjoyed playing her, and ultimately had her at 10/12 in ICC, 2-healing everything but BQL and Dreamwalker with her. But my shaman was my healing first-love. Then above happened, and I got jealous of all the interesting abilities of resto druids. The change to tree form never bothered me much, I think my cow is extremely cute, and she can still jump around a lot.

So off I went, went resto with her after spending some time over at Restokin and TreeBarkJacket, and then did a couple quick heroics. I had fun! Admittedly, I SUCK at keeping lifebloom rolling. I was a tree in TBC very briefly, and even then I sucked at keeping lifebloom rolling on multiple people. Now I suck at keeping it up on one, but I mostly need practice. :) Besides, a full 3-stack of Lifebloom seems extremely overkill. I was boggling when that bloomed for 23k. Very powerful. I had to experiment with using Nourish to keep it rolling, but mostly, that was not a good strategy, as Nourish was all overheal for the most part. I like the feel of Regrowth as quick emergency heal. I can still cast Rejuv on people and don’t feel punished by the Wild Growth increased cooldown. I had no reason to use Swiftmend, so no shiny Efflorescence just yet, and I also had no reason to use the Tree of Life cooldown, but I can see how that would be amazing fun and super-powerful. Lifebloom and instant Regrowth for everyone! What an amazing burst healing tool. No wonder our druid owned me so much in Ulduar!

As you can tell, I am much more enamored with the new resto druid than the new resto shaman. Then I did Headless Horseman and she got the reins. It might be fate now. I will now grind heroics a bit to pick up all the frost gear I could possibly want, and think this will be my healer for a while.

This week I will actually spec the DPS offspecs of all those characters, so next week you will be able to read my impressions about the DPS specs: fury, elemental and balance.

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.

Sep 15 2010

My top 5 WotLK things

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Inspired by Spinks and LarĂ­sa trying to stay positive about WoW, I thought I’d add my voice to theirs. Yes, I have hardly played any WoW recently, and I am as bored as the next person, but we all know that when Cataclysm comes, all the loudest critics will pick it up and play anyhow. I still appreciate this game, even if after 5 years of playing, it bores me at this moment in time.

That said, here’s my list of 5 things I loved in WotLK.

  1. easy accessibility of raids – In TBC we raided Karazhan and Zul’Aman and had a lot of fun with it. Yet there was always the nagging feeling of missing out on so much content. I did Gruul and Magtheridon as well, and 2 bosses in SSC, but 25-man raiding is not my thing. I was ecstatic when they announced 10-mans for all WotLK raids. It’s been great for my guild, as we’re able to see and kill exactly the same raid bosses all raiding guilds have seen, if maybe at (a lot) slower pace than other guilds.
  2. Ulduar – for me this is the highlight of all Wrath raid instances. Large in scope, beautiful in design, with great encounters. Some of the hardmodes have great mechanics, so to this day it’s a great raid for me. As much as I still have nightmares about the Yogg-Saron fight, it’s everything I expect from a final raid boss.
  3. Warrior utility – This is a tricky one. I hate how WotLK has been the Age of AoE. But I love how our warrior toolbox was expanded to give us AoE tanking capabilities. I am not a paladin and I am not a death knight, but Shockwave is awesome in my AoE toolkit. There are fights where our array of stuns and interrupts make us really shine. Assembly of Iron is just awesome as warrior tank. There have also been quite a few val’kyrs in the LK fight that were stunned as a last second save, by my Concussion Blow or Shockwave.
  4. Phasing – This has made a huge difference in questing, because phased content finally gives us a chance to feel the world evolving. Of course it always brings awkward moments too, like invisible folks mining your nodes in Icecrown, or being your lonesome self by the ICC meeting stone, despite all the other dots on the mini-map. I am curious to see where phasing is going in Cataclysm, but I heard that it’s quite involved (if maybe a bit on the buggy side in the beta).
  5. my guild – especially our raid group had its ups and downs, as we had a lot of people cycling in and out. I would say from the days of Naxxramas to today, there were always a few who did not make the transition to the next raid, either leaving for greener pastures or simply quitting wordlessly. Nevertheless, our guild core is a bunch of wonderful people who I love raiding with and who have made this expansion a great 2 years to play in. DotH is a place full of friendly guild members, who are giving and helpful, and I hope we will stay that way for many years to come.

And that’s the goods. I should warn you all, next week you’ll get a list of the things I hated in WotLK, but until then, I’d love to hear what other folks loved. WoW is hardly a positive community, but we can all strive to be a little positive about this hobby of ours, right? :)

Filed under : ramblings, wotlk | 8 Comments »
Sep 14 2010

Tanking in LotRO: the Guardian

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The World of Warcraft is a strange one, because right now it’s hard to get away from the absolute lull between expansions. Unlike the transition from TBC to WotLK, my bucket list is very very short, as I only want to add Kingslayer to my collection of titles and otherwise am done with it. I am done with daily frost emblem farming. I am done with reaching my gold goal of going into Cataclysm with 100k gold. I am not quite done with my Zandalar rep farming, but I am 8% through Revered.

So what’s a girl do when not raiding in WoW? Checking out other games! In not raid-time I currently play Lord of the Rings Online. Back when it launched in 2007 I played the beta for a while. It didn’t hold my attention at all. It was too similar to WoW, and at the time WoW was too exciting, with TBC almost ready to launch, so I never dedicated much time to beta-testing.

Fast forward to summer 2010 and the announcement that LotRO would be going Free to Play in fall. Back then I already planned to revisit the game, and so that’s what I started a couple weeks ago, downloading the client and getting a trial code for LotRO in Europe. I then enjoyed the game so much that I picked up a copy of the game plus the first expansion for a whopping 4.99 Euro and continued playing. Big advantage: I got to say hi in game to Spinks and Arb from Welcome to Spinksville. Yay! I intend to play LotRO casually until Cataclysm comes along, and F2P will be a blessing. Even when my sub runs out (though I have yet to subscribe, but likely will), I will still be able to log on and play.

Naturally, I felt drawn to the tanking classes. First observation: LotRO has no shortage of tanks whatsoever. When you look at their LFF (looking for fellowship) channels, healers are in high demand, specific utility classes are as well, but tank spots are usually filled. I have only run one instance so far, The Great Barrows, and our 6-man group consisted of FOUR tanks plus healer and DPS.

LotRO has two classes specifically designated for tanking, guardians and wardens. Guardians are LotRO’s version of protection warriors, but with a twist. Wardens are a so-called premium-class and require access to the first expansion or that you unlock them for a fee if you are a F2P player, and are…well, don’t know how to describe them. Javelin-and-spear wielding leather-clad woodspeople who use HoTs as their form of mitigation.

My Guardian Kadowyn on US-Brandywine is now level 17, so very far from the level cap. Still, I think I can compare a little bit to warriors in WoW.

Guardians just like warriors have different stances they can fight in. At my level I have 3 different stances: a block stance, a parry stance and Overpower stance which foregoes a shield and adds more melee damage. I tried going the 2H route for solo play, but you don’t really have enough non-tanking skills at my low level to make any effective use of it, as parries are few and far between. I mention parries because guardians have multiple reactive abilities. Kinda like Revenge, but with a twist. They have two lines of abilities, the first called Block and Counter and the second Parry and Retaliate. The first line of abilities get used when you block an attack. Like Revenge you then get to do a Shield Swipe, and once that’s hit you get another powerful attack called Bash. Alternatively, instead of using Shield Swipe, you can use Draw your Breath after blocking to self-heal yourself. When you parry an attack, you unlock Retaliation and that ability in turn unlocks Overwhelm. Instead of using Overwhelm, which is a single target powerful attack, you can use Whirling Retaliation which can hit up to 5 targets and transfers threat of all group members to you. How awesome is that? Screw Vigilance, here’s everyone’s threat!

What I really like is that you get two very distinct sounds that make it possible to immediately identify when you have blocked or parried. Two different kinds of chimes. Using DXE has taught me to respond to different sound queues in game, so I really appreciate that and wish Revenge had a unique sound now.

That’s just the basic tenets of the class, there’s a lot more. It really plays a lot like a warrior. You have a single target taunt, an AoE taunt, big threat attacks, stances. The major difference really is the range of the reactive abilities. Now, my tanking experience on this character is limited. You get a few escort solo instances, and in those I have no problems tanking. I also did a few fellowship quests with friends who started the F2P with me on Brandywine, and though they were 3-4 levels above me, I surprisingly managed to hold mobs on me for the most part. I think at level, this will turn out even better, and I think guardians pack quite a punch threat-wise. Their solo abilities are good too, though it’s all a bit slow. LotRO in general is a lot slower in pace than WoW.

My biggest beef that I have with tanking is that the controls are slow and the way combat animations work. Let’s say I whack a mob, lose aggro and then taunt the mob. In WoW I press Taunt and the mob is mine. In LotRO, I press taunt, my guardian does a taunting animation, and only after the animation has finished the mob turns to me. Some of the combat animations of abilities are loooong, though that’s less of a problem with guardians and more those of a warden. More about those at a later time. It just feels like the controls are not anywhere near as responsive as they are in WoW, and as a tank, that matters.

As I have not tanked instances or skirmishes yet (scaleable encounters in LotRO) on this guardian., I will leave it at that, but might tell you a bit more about Kadowyn another time.

Before anyone asks, no, I am not quitting WoW and this is still predominantly a WoW blog. But it doesn’t hurt to post about other stuff as well, especially as I still tank like a girl. :)

How about you guys, have you tried the tanking classes in other MMOs? Tempted by the F2P releases of LotRO and Everquest 2? Speak up! :)

Filed under : lotro, ramblings | 7 Comments »
Aug 16 2010

The Formspring Edition, Part II

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Here’s the 2nd and for now last part of the Formspring mailbag, but once questions pile up again, I will answer them again. As a reminder, you can go here to ask me any questions, anonymously, or leaving your name, whatever you want. :)

1. If you play(ed) Dungeons and Dragons, what class would you pick? Also, if you have played or still play, which version do you prefer? 3.0,3.5,4.0 etc.

It’s actually been years since I last played D&D. The last version I played was 3.5. As for characters, I’ve always leaned towards playing melee classes, so either ranger, rogue or warrior. Rangers are probably my D&D favorite.

2. How do you generate AOE threat with disparate mobs? I’m thinking about (for example) the waves in HoR. DKs can taunt, DG, and silence to bring in ranged mobs. How do you do it as a warrior?

As a disclaimer, I am not the best HoR tank. I tank it for friends only, and even then I will curse a lot. The waves in the last part get increasingly more difficult to tank as warrior. Heroic Throw has a 1 minute cooldown, so you can use it once in the 2nd wave and once in the last wave and have to figure out other means to handle those mobs in the first place. Definitely spec into Gag Order so that Heroic Throw will silence and then bring the casters to you. You can also Charge/Intercept the casters, but you do risk that the abominations will vomit all over the melee in your group.

Ideally you have people with interrupts. Taunt casters, spell reflect to gain aggro on them, and if you then have someone help you with an interrupt, they should wander over into your Thunderclap/Cleave range. If you do not have interrupts in the party, you will need to head there yourself and Shield Bash a cast, then cluster the mobs together again.

Another example for disparate mobs that I have seen tanks struggling with would be the two large groups of casters in Forge of Souls. As warriors this is actually easy to tank for us, as long as you can grab initial aggro. Charging the Soul Horror in the Center, Thunderclapping and from thereon using Spell Reflect every cooldown will let you tank this fight comfortably. If you lose one of the casters in the back, you can taunt, Intercept, Heroic Throw or head over for Shield Bashing. Mobility is our advantage, so don’t be shy with charging from mob to mob, interrupting as you can and send those shadow bolts right back at them. Yes, unlike HoR I actually love tanking FoS.

For further writing I have done about clustering a pull, see this entry of mine.

3. When someone writes an e-mail to you, do you prefer being addressed as “Kadomi”, or is using your real first name permissible?

I am not hiding my name, it’s mentioned on my About page, but when it comes to WoW I mostly identify with my name as Kadomi. It’s just who I am in WoW. :)

4. I would imagine that you’ve been fluent in English for some time now. Even so, do you ever encounter a piece of English slang that confounds you for a moment when you first hear it?

I pay for my WoW subscription as staff of a bilingual helpdesk, so I am surrounded by all sorts of native speakers who work in my office, mostly Brits. They will regularly use terms that I do not understand, so it’s always an experience here. It doesn’t even need to be slang to confound me. My SO has a huge, extensive vocabulary and in her verbose description she will use terms I have never heard before. So yeah, my English’s definitely not perfect.

5. How easy would you say you are to be friends with?

That’s a can of worms! ;) I would describe myself as an extremely loyal, caring friend, but I do need time to warm up to people. I am blunt and do not have the ability to sugar-coat my words convincingly which has often led to headbutting with people. A diplomat, I am not. If you can deal with all that, it’s definitely not that hard to be friends with me at all.

6. Xtian913 wants to know: Kadomi, I know you said in your blog that your SO stopped playing WoW, but… why? I know everyone needs a little time off from the game, but so many years of enjoying it, why just stop? :(

SnailsWhen I read this question to my SO, she thought I was shitting her and that I set her up, but no, it’s a real question! Her answer remains the same as it did when she quit: ‘I got bored of pressing the right buttons in the right order for hours.’ She says she doesn’t think WoW sucks, but that she is just bored of it. I’ll continue to woo her back for Cataclysm, but chances are really really slim at this point. I think she said only riding snails could bring her back. Hello Blizzard, think you could use those snails models for mounts instead of non-combat pets? I would love you forever!

And that covers all questions for now. Hope you enjoyed.

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