The Sky Isn’t Falling

So Tuesday I posted what seemed to be a rather grim pronouncement that the Cataclysm raiding changes were going to signal the death of casual 25 man raiding as we know it.  On the day the announcements came it, it most certainly felt that way.  So like always I blog what I am feeling, and I felt fear and dread.  So after some time, and much talking amongst friends and confidants.  I have come to the conclusion that the sky really isn’t falling…  it is just changing colors.

Everything Will Change

This is just one more in a long line of game changing events that Blizzard has sprung upon us, and it honestly will change the way everything happens in game for the hardcore and casual alike.  However I am trying my best to adopt a "wait and see" attitude.  There have been so many times in the past that a blizzard pre-beta pronouncement never actually makes it into the final draft.  Do I think this is one of those cases?  Honestly probably not, this seems like a fundamental shift in design that could be happening for one of many reasons. 

My honest believe if that blizzard is trying to condense the raid experience and make it simpler to design and manage.  Right now we have so many raiding options, and as a whole the raiding content is more open to the masses than it ever has been at any point in the past.  However there are so many variants of raiding, and Blizzard has been attempting to make the game viable for all of them.  It has to be hard to balance encounters so they are challenging but doable in a 10 man strict guild, but at the same time offering a bit of challenge to players who are fully 25 man geared.  I think they have been disheartened by seeing all their un-gated content steamrolled in a matter of weeks.

When the designers asked themselves how these players are able to burn through content so fast, it is pretty obvious that they came to the conclusion that it was due to being able to run both 10 and 25 man raids.  You can see the evidence of this decision in the outrageous jump in price between t9 and t10 badge items.  The base prices for tier 9 were 30 badges for shoulders/gauntlets and 50 badges for helm/chest/legs.  We have an extreme jump when you go to frost badge loot to 60 and 95 badges respectively, when there are fewer zones actively dropping frost badges.  The designers obviously were expecting all serious players to be clearing both 10 and 25 man in order to get badges to purchase their gear.

Is it really a problem?

I pose the question… is it really a problem that players who are able to run both 10 and 25 man raids will accumulate gear faster?  I personally have never had a problem with the fact that more time spent in game equates to more rewards.  I am not jealous of the players who have racked up a full suit of heroic mode gear, nor am I jealous of the players who geared out their t10 before me.  Not everyone in this game can be equal, and since I am not on the hardcore track I am obviously going to be a little less equal than others.  Is it really worth the impending schism in order to fix a perceived problem?

I know it has to suck as a developer to spend 6 months of your life working on what you believe to be the ultimate dungeon, only to have to decimated by the most serious players within the first week.  But that is life, people are going to do things you didn’t expect, use tactics you never thought of, and literally throw themselves at the content over and over until it falls down.  I feel their heart is in the right place, in trying to make the entry level of content less confusing to players and make it so they don’t have to "mudflate" the prices of gear so badly as the expansion goes on.  However I honestly feel the current model creates far more opportunity for the casual players, than the proposed model would.

How things are now, it is relatively easy for a newer player to work their way into one of the many successful 10 and 25 man casual raids that form every week on my server.  If you show up at the right time, show the right amount of effort, and listen to the right things…  you can get a regular invite back.  All raid leaders are constantly looking for fillers, especially during the spring doldrums that we are going through.  Leaders often times use their 10 man as a more controlled environment to check a player out before unleashing them onto the bigger raid as a whole.  These changes will blow all of this away and resign 10s to "alt" raids, where they currently rely heavily on seasoned veterans to push through the content at a decent pace.

Positive Changes

While I am still not happy about the changes and the implications they are having, it has had at least one positive effect.  I have come to the decision that the future is far from certain right now.  With the changes to the raid structure and the impending guild rewards system looming on the horizon.  These things might very well spell the doom of casual raid alliances like Duranub.  This got me to thinking, much like when someone gets a dread disease.  If tonight were going to be the last raid we had together, how would I want it to be?

I’ve come to the conclusion that  regardless of our future, I want to make sure we make the most of the tail end of wrath.  By this I don’t mean burn through all the content, I mean really enjoy the most of our time together.  I have been trying to really relax and enjoy the raiding experience, and hopefully my changed attitude will trickle down to the raid members.  The last thing I want to do is go out stressed, agitated and frustrated at what we aren’t doing.  I want to be able to enjoy the time at hand and relish all the things we already have.

I know this is a bit of a 360 from the attitude I had on Tuesday, but sometimes life does that.  It takes the realization that our time might be numbered to really be able to enjoy the time we do have.  So I challenge each of you, to really savor the friendships you have with your raid friends.  Cataclysm will be another bombshell like Burning Crusade, and we have no way of knowing right now how it may change each of us. 

So lets all enjoy what we have today.

Death of the Casual Raid

I ate lunch yesterday with a long time friend, one of the founders of House Stalwart, who has recently come back to the game.  I had originally crafted a long post in my head about the frustrations I have with the current state of 5 mans in general.  However when I checked the wow news feeds after lunch a much bigger topic had spawned.  My frustrations with the fact that 5 mans have been dumbed down to the point where a players performance can just be phoned in, was replaced by a brand new frustration. 

It was announced that in Cataclysm, 10 and 25 man raid loot would be equal.  This in itself is pretty great, gone will be the days of feeling behind the curve by raiding only the 10 man content.  The spiteful part however is the fact that 10 and 25 man raids would now share a lockout.  No longer will players be able to run 10s with one set of friends, and 25s with their normal raid group.

Guildpocalypse II: Poc Harder?

I had put out of my mind all the havoc and mayhem that was invoked by the first guildpocalypse, but now it is all rushing back in vivid technicolor.  Prior to the release of Burning Crusade it was leaked that the defacto raid size would be switching from the classic raiding 40 man construct, to a brand new 25 man size.  This unleashed a series of revisions that forever changed the guild landscape for Argent Dawn, the server I play on.  Guild after guild simply imploded as they attempted to pare down from the 50+ raiders it took to be able to maintain a working 40 man raid, to the 30+ raiders required to keep the new 25 man raid going.

The few groups that managed to weather the change, came out forever modified.  They were hardened and bitter for the hassle, and much more serious.  I watched personally as my raid group fell apart at the seams, causing our fearless leader to give up and transfer off the server.  The remainder of people left in the balance split into two communities.  The more hardcore raiders joined with the remnants of another raid, that suffered a similar death, and are now a successful 25 man raid on our server.  The more social/casual players for the most part got picked up by my guild House Stalwart.  The death of a raid is always a trying thing on all parties connected, and some players didn’t adjust well to the new roles. All in all, a good number of us stayed in contact and continued raiding together when Duranub was formed.

Same As It Ever Was

Having lived through the frustration and growing pains involved with a major raiding paradigm shift, I cringe at the thought of the impending storm on the horizon.  The key problem I see is that more than likely this is the death knell for casual 25 man raiding.  Attempting to keep a 25 man raid going every week is a constant battle.  A casual raid, more than any other is made up of players of vastly differing play styles and skill levels.  As a leader, you are always attempting to juggle the needs of your hardcore raiders, that are in truth the primary reason why you can down new content, with your more casual players who want to be able to show up and raid without much external work.  It is this constant tug of war that leads to endless torment and frustration for the officers. 

We suffer through, and try our best to make enough people happy to keep them showing up on a weekly basis.  The reason why we struggle, is because a casual raid like Duranub is based on longterm friendship, more than the progression.  The current raid construct allows for the more hardcore raiders to continue to do serious, focused progression at the 10 man level, while still rolling up into the larger 25 man raid.  It allows for both needs to be met, while not having to abandon your friends that you have struggled to be able to raid with.  As it stands now, I will have to choose between my 10 man raid, that is the high point of my week, and the 25 man raid that I have sacrificed my sanity to try and keep going.

The Great Sorting

Currently it is difficult to find the right kind of players for a casual raid.  Players who are socially motivated, and willing to accept the fact that we are going to progress slower than more serious raids, have always been a special breed.  Without benefit of at least getting better loot, I am not really sure if there are enough benefits to keep players struggling together.  I have to admit, it is a massive temptation to just say screw it, and leave 25 man raiding altogether.  It is far easier to balance a 10 player raid, and easier to find players who are willing to commit to showing up 99% of the time.  When someone can’t make it, it is easier to fill in that one slot for a 10 man, and if you have 9 seasoned players already the requirements are far more lax. 

So as I see it, casual 25 man raiding and 25 man raid alliances in general are going to die in the process.  It simply won’t be worth the struggle involved to try and keep them going.  Spinks mentioned in her blog post, that the temptation for the more hardcore members of your raid, to simply break off into a more stable 10 man will be far too great.  I helped to found our raid, and have been to many the figurehead… and I myself am struggling to find a reason why players SHOULD continue 25 man raiding.  Duranub makes up 3 different 10 man raids currently, and I believe given push to shove each of prefers the 10 man dynamic to the larger 25 man.  Out of those 30 players… how many are going to be willing to make the personal sacrifice, and give up the format they love for the good of the many?

The Personal Cost

When our raid formed, I made a personal sacrifice to make it happen.  Several of us had been raiding Tier 6 content, and out of the ashes of that raid, Duranub was founded.  However during the interim I myself was recruited by several different guilds on our server, all of which would have meant being able to continue progressing through Tier 6 content.  I made the choice to follow my friends, and signed onto to help lead the raid.  I have to admit however, that as we struggled to teach tier 4 and tier 5 content to a new group of players, more than a little bitterness set in. 

I knew that had I chosen the other path, I would be seeing new things, rather than wiping endlessly to content I was long bored running.  The sacrifice I made effected my attitude, and mental state for the rest of burning crusade and soured our victories.  I was unable to see the fact that we progressed through the content far faster than we had before.  I was unable to realize how fast the skill-sets of the various players were improving.  I felt like a child left out in the cold, looking through the window at the warm and dry table that was the path abandoned.

So now as raiders, we will be forced to abandon the fun we used to have in our 10 mans, for the good of the raid as a whole.  Knowing full well how stressful that decision was on me during burning crusade, I find it hard to willfully ask anyone to share the same personal toll.  So as I look forward, I am not sure what is the future of Duranub, and other casual raids like ours.  I think Blizzard has their hearts in the right place, but once again did not quite think through the ramifications this decision has on anyone who does not fit neatly into the "serious raid guild" mold.  This, coupled with the guild rewards changes, I fear signal the death of raid alliances that allow players to remain in their small family guilds.

It’s the End of an Era

The Danger of Down

Last night we went to Icecrown on our normal Thursday night raid, and as seems my tradition, here comes my “morning after” thread.  We are not nearly as far along in the instance as I might have hoped at this point, but we continue to make constant forward motion.  Problem is apparently I have been coming off as far more negative and downtrodden than I meant to be.  Much like a parent, I have been focusing on the things that have been going wrong, and trying to figure out ways to overcome those obstacles.

However to the raid apparently I have been sounding like XT and his refrain of no No NO NO NO!   One of my good friends in the raid told me that across the board we as officers have been very negative lately.  In our serious focus on attempting to tweak and fix all that was wrong, we were not taking the time to point out all the various things that were going right.  Stopping to think about it, the member was right.  We have become so zeroed in on the obstacles in our path that we had allowed our demeanor to start bringing the raid down.

The Darkside

The danger of down, is that once you start the path, your whole raid begins to mirror your feelings.  They stop noticing the little victories that are accomplished along the way.  At its very worst, they stop believing they can do better; that they really can succeed.  Negativity is like a feedback loop, the more there is of it the more it dominated the mood of any group.  If the officers allow themselves to indulge in these feelings, it is only a matter of time before the raid as a whole is a bitter and spiteful place.

When you are in the middle of face planting on new content it is really hard to see the positive side.  There will always be rough nights in raiding; nights when it seems like the fates themselves have conspired against you.  During these times is when you as a leader need to reflect upon the little things going right in the raid.  I am not an optimist by nature, and often times the optimism I have is hard fought to keep.  However there will always be something going right during any fight.

The Cure

I’ve brought up the concept of Legos before, when it comes to raiding.  If you approach a fight you can break it down into building blocks in your mind.  Last night for example we were working on the Blood Queen encounter and as we got our feet wet I started to notice the moving parts.  Breaking down the fight you can see it mostly falls into distinct categories that need to be handled:

  • Tanking – Keeping two tanks sharing the blood mirror
  • General Healing – dealing with the raid wide damage from vampires
  • Vampiric Bite – Making sure players are biting who they should be
  • Shadows – Making sure players are running the shadow trail to edge
  • Pact – making sure linked players meet at predetermined point
  • Fear – making sure priests fear ward to dispel/heal
  • Proximity – making sure everyone is far enough apart as not to splash damage

As you work your way through the fight, you can start to see how each of those elements is being handled and whether or not it needs tweaking.  While it is important to point out what is going wrong, it is every bit as important to point out the things that are going correctly.  While we did not down Blood Queen, we were getting very close.  Towards the end all of the elements were going extremely smoothly, except the biting.  So we as the leaders gave some positive feedback on those elements that were going well after the attempts.

I have been stuck in the rut of only looking at the bad things, so after each fight in my little synopsis of what happened, it started to sound like: “Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad”.  Where in truth, had I been more honest with myself and the raid the end result would have been a dialog that looked something like this:  “Bad Bad Good Good Good” highlighting the elements that were going well after delivering the items that were still going horribly.

As a leader last night, at the beginning of the night I had to force myself to be positive.  I fully admit it was a struggle for awhile.  We came into Icecrown and wiped on some farmed content, which only made the struggle to keep a positive spin going that much harder.  However as the night went on, the mood of the raid as a whole began to lift, and before long I myself was in a genuinely good mood.  It was almost like the curtains parting to let in the sunlight…  which is a cheesy metaphor I know.

I am not sure how much longer this new approach will last, as I am sure before long we will have an epically bad evening and my old patterns will begin to set in.  However I honestly believe that if we can manage to keep a positive outlook our “wipe” time will be all the more productive.  The cure I guess, is to change the attitude at the top of the raid.  We are the voices the members hear in their headsets, and if we are excited and positive… it certainly can’t hurt things.

Don’t Talk to Strangers

I thought the transition back to blogging would be a difficult one, but after one raid down I already have plenty of "blogfodder" to keep me going for awhile.  The raid I run with is fairly casual, and I have commented on this before.  Last night we were stung by a problem that has been occurring amongst a number of the casual and pug raids out there.  One member, not knowing what they were doing, committed the "icecrown sin", and told Wrynn we didn’t need his help.  As a result the entire raid had its buff stripped from them.  Were this a normal night we probably could have struggled through, but last night we had a concordance of two events that made this new variable very hard to manage for. 

Firstly we were running a little bit light on healing.  This had been a conscious decision in order to bring in an extra dps and at the same time force some of our weaker healers to have a bit of a workout.  Secondly we have made the decision to push for progression content after killing the first four bosses on Tuesday nights.  So we have been clearing Blood Princes, and moving on to attempts on Blood Queen.  We were honestly doing great, but as soon as we lost the buff it was like we had our legs chopped out from under us.

The Veteran Handicap

One of the difficult things about being a raider who has literally been raiding since Molten Core, is trying to get into the mindset of a player who doesn’t remember when Onyxia deep breathed more in phase two.  The fact that we have so much game knowledge crammed into our heads is honestly a handicap towards attempting to lead players who are new to the game.  It’s easy for us to relate to things in terms of, it’s like *** Boss, but when a player has never experienced those fights it is hard to compress that package of learned experience into words.  I personally find it very difficult to comprehend the fact that we have members who have literally never had a max level character before Northrend.  When something goes wrong and it is one of those "classic newbie raider" mistakes, it can be difficult to dial back the annoyance enough to realize that these folks are cutting their teeth on this content with no "formal education" to rely on.  So in an attempt to jump start that formal education… 

Classic Raid Mistakes

Don’t Talk to Strangers

Since this is the one that bit us in the butt last night, I will lead off with this.  Most of us in Stalwart/Duranub learned this lesson back in Blackwing Lair with Vaelastrasz, but the same lesson has carried through most of the Blizzard Raid and Dungeon Content.  Talking to any NPC can often cause negative effects for the raid.  I realize we are curious creatures by nature, and telling you all never to talk to NPCs is like putting a shiny red button on your desk and saying not to push it.  Simply taking the time to ask whether or not a certain NPC is safe to talk to can save the aggro of your raid.

Don’t Stand in Stuff

This is without a doubt the most common raid problem.  It plagues both newbies and careless veterans alike.  In the long illustrious history of WoW, it has only been good to stand in the fire during one fight.  With those overwhelming odds, you can darn near guarantee that if you see crap on the ground, and you are in fact standing in it…  that you should get out as soon as humanly possible.  A dead player has zero dps, and if you are doing something fundamentally dumb like standing in crap on the ground, no one will fault a healer for simply letting you die.  This problem isn’t just a DPS thing however, healers are often times too busy watching the green bars to be bothered to move out of environmental effects.  Your most important trait as a raider should be situational awareness.  I know I would rather have a player who does ho-hum damage but always avoids environmental damage, that one who is leading the meters but always dead.

Don’t Precast on Pulls

We are so used to having misdirect and tricks of the trade that as a community we have forgotten the fundamentals of what used to be known as the “3 sunder rule”.  In classic raiding, the rule was let your tank get 3 sunders up on the target before you opened up.  However in the modern era, I am constantly seeing players casting on the target before the tank has even reached it.  Aggro is a quirky science, that I can go into more detail on in another topic, but the basics is this:  Don’t make your tank work harder than they have to.  If you consistently ride that line between control and chaos, you are ultimately going to hurt your raid in the long run.  Making sure your tank has acquired the target and has a few large hits in on it before you start casting does not lose you that much dps time, but the general raid stability it gains is monumental.

Don’t Run up on Targets

After playing the DPS role for awhile now, I understand that overwhelming desire to make things dead now!  However if you allow your tanks to pull targets back to the raid, you generally have much more stable results.  The biggest problem I see here is that a tank will call that they are pulling back, but as soon as the aggro starts everyone runs up on the pack of mobs.  This keeps the tank from doing what they need to do, and makes it far more likely that you will pull aggro while the tanks are trying to place things.  On the pull the only players that need to be up near the targets are the tanks, and any crowd controllers.  If you do not fit either of those roles then please stay back until the tanks are done moving.

Don’t Turn Your Back to the Next Pack

Just like the defacto tank rule of pulling is to turn the mobs away from the raid, the defacto rule for everyone should be to make sure your back is not facing the next pull.  There are many dynamics in the game that cause you to lose control of your character for a short time, be it knockback, fear, or daze.  These effects paired with your proximity to live targets add up to be a ticking timebomb for the raid.  If you make sure you always have your back facing either a wall, or the path you just cleared, you will minimize the risk of your carelessness cascading into a raid wipe.

Don’t Run From the Tank

I realize I could have simply said, “Don’t Pull Aggro”, but the aggro issue is always a multi headed thing and sometimes you can’t control how attractive you are to a mob.  One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is when a player pulls aggro, they tend to run away from combat.  I realize proximity plays a key role in aggro mechanics, but if you already have the attention of the target, it is far too late for that manner of triage.  The best course of action is to run to the tank and announce as calmly as you can that you have aggro.  The tank will beat the mob in the face, and when the “target of target” shows you no longer have aggro, it is safe to move away.  There are various reasons that can cause the tank to take a second or two to pick the target back up, so it is very important for you to keep your wits about you, and give them the time needed to reacquire.

Don’t Blow Up the Raid

There are several encounters in the game that involve the mechanic of getting away from other players.  Don’t be the guy that blows everyone up.  If you are poor at eyeballing distances, I highly suggest a proximity mod.  Both Deadly Boss Mods and Deus Vox have excellent ones, that will show you when it is safe to stop running.  Equally important to running away, is to pay attention to the placement of the other raid members.  Situational awareness is something that never goes out of style.  As you are running away it is important to make sure a flock of players is not trying to arrive at exactly the same spot.  There will be natural voids in the room, where no players happen to be at any given time.  If at all possible, it is best to aim towards one of these vacant areas to free up space in the more populated ones.

Don’t be a “Special Snowflake”

Just like the fact that there are times you need to get away from players, there are a number of times where you will need to clump tightly with other players.  These clumps usually start out fine, but as the fight goes on the casters tend to migrate to the outer orbit of the main group.  The clump of players should be tight enough that it is hard to pick out individual players.  If you are clumping in melee range with a target, your hunters should be forming a second group at minimum range tightly orbiting the main colony.  When players filter out from the main group, it becomes more difficult to find the nexus that players need to gather upon.  What starts as one player getting some breathing room, quickly escalates into an uncontrolled mess.  As the topic says, do not be that delicate and special snowflake that has to do their own thing.

When Failure Comes to Visit

The basic thread through all of the elements above is situational awareness.  It is the most important skill that a wow raider can develop, and is a trait that all great players have.  However through the course of raiding you will inevitably screw things up.  You will eventually do something clueless, which cascades into a horrific raid wipe.  When this happens the way you approach your failure makes all the difference in the world.

Admit your Failure

Own up to your own mistakes, nobody likes it when someone sits quietly when they have screwed up.  Raid loggers can tell the culprit after the fact, so it is not like you have anonymity in your favor.  Admitting your failure is the first step in smoothing the annoyance and aggression that your raid will be feeling.

Don’t Make Excuses

It is human nature to want to try and explain why you screwed up to players.  In the course of a raid this does no good, and only serves to waste the raids time while having to listen to your complicated explanation of your failure.  You screwed up, you admitted it, and for most players that is all that needs to be said.  Making uses for your performance does nothing to undo whatever just happened.  The best course is to pick up the pieces and move on.

Do Better

Accepting a momentary lapse in ability is one thing, but you need to make sure whatever just happened does not happen again.  As a player, you need to be able to diagnose the conditions that lead to the problem, and take necessary actions to keep it from happening again.  If you pulled aggro, then use your aggro dumps more proactively.  If it was a placement issue, adjust where you are standing to make sure it is no longer an issue.  Figure out what went wrong, and keep it from going wrong next time.

Be Humble and Thick Skinned

When you do screw up, you are going to take flak from the raid.  It is just human nature to get frustrated with whatever is impeding your progress, and right now in the eyes of the raid, you are that impediment.  As a player you need to stay calm, keep a humble attitude, and be willing to take a bit of ribbing for your mistake.  You screwed up, so own that mistake and handle it with a bit of humor. 

One time in Vault of Archavon I was tanking the very last trash mob before Archavon himself.  I unwittingly broke one of the above rules; I put my back towards Archavon himself.  The trash mob died, blew up, sent me hurdling into the boss, who in a few unhealed swings killed me.  The entire sequence of events was rather comical, but nonetheless entirely my doing.  I owned up to my mistake, accepted the ribbing from the raid, and we moved on and killed the boss.  It doesn’t matter how long someone has been playing the game; you are never beyond screwing up.  The great players, are the ones who learn from their mistakes, and keep moving forward towards the goal.

So Pick Yourself Up, and Keep on Raiding

Life Happened

Sometimes we go off the road It has been 265 days since my last confession.  It is somewhat staggering when I put that number on paper, but my absence from the blog has been a pretty extreme one.  The longer I went without writing something, the harder it was to put virtual pen to paper and make something worth reading.  So for the last several months, my blog has sat here collecting dust staring out from the darkness as a constant reminder of my failed experiment in blogging.

Various sundry real world events happened, but if I were to condense a timeline of in-game events it would look something like this:

  • Server Unplayable
  • Years Behind Fails
  • Raid Struggles
  • My Account Gets Hacked
  • I Get Horribly Burned Out
  • Shift to Deathknight trying to fix low raid dps
  • Start regretting the decision to switch mains fast
  • Form new 10 man so I can continue tanking
  • Get burned out again raiding 4 nights a week
  • Quit one night of raiding and start playing other games
  • Start plotting my switch back to tanking

There are various sub events tied to each of the above, but thats the basic lay of the land.  The most traumatic of the events was probably getting my account hacked.  Blizzard did an amazing restoring everything that was taken from my various characters and the guild vault within 24 hours.  The however hacker took one of the things that really mattered to me, that can never be restored.  House Stalwart was formed on the day WoW was released and this was a point of pride.  The Hacker moved Belghast my main to another server, and in the process disbanded our guild.  Now our re-formed guild date commemorates the day I got hacked, which is not quite as enjoyable.

The shift to Belgrave my Deathknight was a pretty major event as well.  I reached a point where I flat out didn’t trust my healers anymore.  I had taken too many needless deaths in a row and had gotten gunshy.  I could only do the things I have been able to do, because of the extreme faith I have had in my healers.  I knew no matter what trouble I got myself into, what measures I had to go to to attempt to hold aggro, they would keep me standing.  When that faith waned, I started playing like a shell shocked veteran.  I became slower, more cautious, always trying to make sure I had an ace in a hole for when the heals just stopped for large blocks of time.  I got physically angry with myself, my raid, my healers when I ran out of "oh shit" buttons and nothing I could possibly do could save me.  I came to the realization that something needed to change.  I was going to have to either stop raiding as Belghast, stop raiding entirely, or just outright quit the game.

I chose to switch to raiding as my Deathknight, because at the time we were struggling in the DPS community.  My DK had been my "help friends raids" character, and for the most part was better geared that much of the active dps.  We’ve since recruited more players and solidified our DPS camp, but at the time me switching over allowed us to take down the content with more wiggle room.  But since the first raid I went as a Deathknight, I had the little pangs of remorse in the back of my head.  My identity has been wrapped up in Bel the Tank for so long, that it was difficult for me to accept the transition.  As I look towards Cataclysm I am planning on making the shift back to Protection Warrior as my primary raid focus.  If this ends up meaning I will need to leave the raid I helped form to make this happen so be it, but I know without a doubt that I am not as happy as a DPSer than I am as a Tank.

As I come back to blogging, I still very much think of myself as an aggronaut…  a tank at heart.  While now I wear the hat of a Unholy/Frost DPS Deathknight during raids, I still approach the game as though I were the tank.  I plan on still covering tanking topics, but mixing in a few DPS issues now and then.  I plan on still posting regularly about guild management and raid maintenance, and even now and then throwing in a topic like rotations.  I can’t promise to be nearly as regular as I once was, considering my life is in general more busy than before, but I promise to keep posting.

Thanks for letting me back on your screens