Under a bus

thrown under a bus Last week I had high hopes for things starting to settle down for me.  The last three days of the week were pretty hellacious, but I had managed to wrap up one project that was causing me a good deal of stress.  It seemed like I would be handling many of the issues that had stacked up while I was devoted to that project which all in all should have been a few low stress weeks.  However I was sorely mistaken.

Friday afternoon I got thrown under the bus, figuratively at least.  I work for a good sized municipality as a web developer.  The small team of web developers for the most part represents the tightest cluster of modern development skill-sets in the entire IT department, with the majority being what I would term as, “application babysitters”.  The result is that we often end up getting pulled in to things at the last minute, to serve as virtual ballast in an effort to keep the entire project from capsizing.

Friday I was steamrolled by one of these such projects.  Including a develop that seemed to be willing to do anything at all in his power to halt the progress of the project as a whole.  Due to other issues I had to leave midday, but when we last spoke I had a clear path outlined and agreed to work on a solution to act as a stop gap measure to keep the project on track.  Today I sat down to start working on the application only to find in a few short hours that everything had changed.

For this very moment, I appear to be out of the loop, so I am finally able to sit down and write a bit.  However everything is very much in a state of flux and could end up undoing itself at a moments notice.  Ultimately, I am tired of dealing with individuals who will do anything at all, to craft excuses as to why they can’t actually do their own work.  Without a doubt, I do fully understand why it is that postal workers…  go postal.  Dealing with governmental employees takes a whole kind of stomach that I have yet to full develop.

It’s Everywhere

It's a virus Part of my morning ritual involves stopping each morning at “Kum and Go”, a gas station chain in my area.  This serves as my morning caffeine destination, and gives me something to drink on for the rest of the day. Over the course of the year and some change we have been stopping there every morning, I have gotten to know almost all of the morning staff.  Even to the point of bringing the morning manager a small Christmas gift this past year.

One of these individuals who has warmed up to us over time is Tim.  Great guy, good sense of humor, and while he started out a little bit standoffish, he has warmed up and become rather personable.  At some point last week I was trying out the new WoW Mountain Dew flavors, and in checking me out I found out that he too plays WoW.  I am just constantly amazed and how widespread the game has become.  Now I just have to work my magic and get him to somehow transfer characters over to Argent Dawn.

More Guide on it’s way

Sorry, I was lazy this weekend The continuation of the groupcraft guide will be following shortly, but I wanted to get a quick note up to attempt to explain why I hadn’t been posting.  Depending on how long this break in the work storm lasts will determine how quickly I can get the next segments done.  In truth I should have worked on them this weekend, but after the insanity that was Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week I frankly needed a break from thinking. 

What better way to stop thinking than to grind away playing a horribly overpowered and mindless class…  aka the Deathknight.  I am going to pretty much have to eat all the nasty things I have said about the class as a whole.  While yes I am annoyed that so many players have abandoned much needed classes in order to migrate over to the unholy warriors…  I cannot at all deny how fun they are to play.  Friday I was level 66, and by Sunday evening I was level 71.  The time between seems to have somewhat disappeared on me.

GroupCraft: Preamble

groupcraft101

The Problem

One of the issues I have encountered over and over in this game is the issue of how to get groups.  I have sat around watching players get frustrated when groups do not just magically happen around them.  Honestly, I used to be one of these players.  Just like so many players I would pose the question, “Anyone want to do something?” or the dreaded “Anything going on?”.  Each time expecting someone to magically form a group for my own benefit around me, when in truth the only refrain would be that of dead silence.

At the release of Burning Crusade I came to a revelation.  It was not my guild, or my friends, or anything else that was the problem at hand.  It was the way in which I approached the problem of getting groups going.  I was in fact doing everything wrong.  I set myself to the task of learning how to assemble group, and after a few weeks of trial and error I was building them every single night and burning through dungeons with ease.

I’ve shared my knowledge with guild mates and friends in less complete versions, but here I am trying to distill all the basic theory I have collected into one easy to follow guide.

Preamble: You Need People – General Networking

If you are going to group up, you in the most basic sense need more people than just yourself.  Yes I am stating this to be overly obvious, but it leads it’s way to a key fundamental of group building.  You need a ready supply of players at your disposal, or you need a network.  Networking is a concept used often in business circles but in its most fundamental form you need a list of “known good” players if you ever hope to start assembly groups with a regular frequency.

Looking For Group – Pugging

Networking in WoW is a process occurs gradually, but is so fundamental to being able to succeed in this game that I feel it is best to cover the topic as a sort of, preamble.  The only real way to network is to get out and expose yourself to new group of players.  The most basic way to get access to groups of new players is through the use of the looking for group tool inside World of Warcraft itself. 

If you are in the process of building your network, I would highly suggest staying in the looking for group channel your entire time playing.  Often times there are random grouping opportunities there, but more importantly an astute reader of the channel can pick up patterns.  There might be a healer, tank and a couple of dps looking for heroics, and all that it really takes is someone paying enough attention to make the connective tissue and organize the ready to form group.

Friends List – Known Good Players

While you are spending time in pick up groups, take note of the good players you encounter.  I suggest you utilize your friends list as a way to track all of the players you encounter that seem to know their classes and can execute assignments well.  Before long in your friends list you will have a directory of potential grouping options, allow you to quickly assemble groups with a core of players you already have experience grouping with.

You will quickly start to notice patterns while grouping.  Certain guilds just seem to have higher quality players than others.  When you find one of these guilds that seems to be both active, and populated with really good players I have found it useful to create a macro that does a simple “/who guildname”.  This allows you to easily check and see which players from that guild are online, and zones they are sitting in.  If a player is standing in one of the hub cities, it is generally a good sign that they are not otherwise busy, and are potentially an option for grouping.  I have had good luck in the past at “cold” messaging players that are from guilds that I know to be solid.

Social Channels – Haven for Good Grouping

Most Servers have many active social channels.  Get to know these well, and join them.  An addon like Cirk’s Chatmanager makes sifting through channels for potential grouping prospects considerably easier but the default UI is more than adequate.  Social Channels are by default, populated by Social Players…  which in turn makes them much more open to the concept of grouping as a whole. 

Once you “hang out” in the channel for awhile, you will learn the various players personalities and who will be more or less likely to accept your group invites.  These channels open up a door to a whole body of players and make it easier to assemble a group rapidly.  Various raids and guilds have specific channels open to members and their friends, and these channels often lend themselves to potential raid invites later down the line. 

Next Topic:  Communication

Everyone else is doing it…

It’s that time again, another Tuesday, or to WoW aficionados…  maintenance day.  The day where little boys and girls sit by the warm glow of their screens cautiously watching for the sign to enter Azeroth once more.  For the Duranubs, it is another day spent wondering whether or not the server will be stable enough to raid.  For me personally sitting here trying to prepare for the impending disappointment brought by Titanguard  once more being fickle.  I am convinced that this will be one more in the long line of things that refused to drop: Shoulderguards of the Bold, Barbed Choker of Discipline, and Destroyer Shoulderguards.  It is a pattern…  certain pieces of gear hate me with deep dark brooding passion.

Bowing to peer pressure

Bad Ronald is Bad Well its not so much, peer pressure, but I still feel like I am somewhat jumping on the bandwagon.  It started with Larisa moving from pinkpigtailinn.blogspot.com to pinkpigtailinn.com, and then continued with Ariedan moving from wordywarrior.wordpress.com to wordywarrior.com.  It seemed like most of my favorite blogs were abandoning their cheap/free subdomains for the sake of a real domain name.  In a blatant act of following the leaders, I did a quick search and sure enough, Aggronaut.com was in fact available.

I snatched it up as quickly as I could rifle through my wallet for my credit card.  I have in fact had the domain for a few weeks now, but was waiting to make sure that my google analytics was in fact wired correctly and various other house keeping details.  So from this point on, both the original Aggronaut.housestalwart.com and Aggronaut.com resolve to the same location.  Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog and making it so surprisingly popular.  Had I not gotten the overwhelming support, I don’t think I would have ever “ponied up” for the “real” domain name.

Life and Limb

Trees are friends, not food Ysinnia has been an active support of me and my dumb actions for going on six years.  She helped me to found House Stalwart, acted as a gateway drug into heavy raiding, taught me to love and respect the power of the dwarven priest, and has been a great friend all along the way.  Though she has shifted in and out of the mix due to real life responsibilities she’s always been a great player.  When Burning Crusade was released, she shifted from her dwarven priest to her druid, and with the release of Wrath became one of the best Trees I know.

A few days ago, I added her new endevour to my blogroll, but haven’t really had time to give her a proper plug.  She is currently working on the Limb From Limb druid blog, in which she covers the life and times of a more casual player in wow.  We miss her horribly in Duranub, but real life has forced her to take a step away from the rhythm of the raid life.  She’s hopelessly addicted to the “Get That Achievement” game on the Achievements forum.  While I think she is nuts sometimes for it, she apparently enjoys being made to grind achievements by strangers.

Mostly I added that part in to fluster her, but I think it is a cool source of inspiration.  Limb from Limb is shaping up to be a good blog, and I highly suggest adding it to your RSS feed.  Great player, great sense of humor…  you just can’t go wrong.

Pathfinder

Doesn't make much sense... I was just feeling like a picture of Vampire Hunter D Every so often I write something that might be a bit more than just one of my random brain dumps.  When this rare event happens, it becomes a sort of guide that can be referred back to.  Stealing a page from the book of RollingHots,  I have decided it might be prudent to create a guides page so that it is easier for new folks to find these rare nuggets of wisdom, or at least not horribleness.  If you notice at the top of the site, there is a new link entitled…  wait for it…   Guides.

It took me hours to think that name up.  I hope people find it even mildly useful.  The real reason behind this is that I am working on a new guide for the site.  At the start of burning crusade I found that the groups were not coming as frequently as I wanted them to, so I set out to learn the ancient art of how to pull together a group from out of thin air.  The resulting guide was posted for my guild, and I am in the process of updating it to be more sane.  Hopefully in the next few days I will get it posted on the site.

A Final Thought:  Normalize Repair Bills

bleeding gold... In closing I want to through something out there.  I think the time has come for blizzard to seriously consider normalizing the cost of repair bills for plate, mail, leather and cloth.  Last Sunday, I ran Naxxramas with my boomkin.  At one point during the run, I looked down and noticed that all my gear was in the red, so I flew over to Wintergarde keep to repair.  I was expecting the worst, because I am used to the plate repair bills…  and was shocked at a full epic repair bill for the Naxx leather gear I was wearing was only 35 gold.

This figure may or may not seem normal to you, but I will tell you that on Belghast, that is less than two deaths worth of repair bills.  Even on a good night of raiding, I am dropping over 100g in repairs alone.  My worst night ever that figure climbed up to roughly 300g, and in truth it was a little bit over that.  I simply cannot make enough money each week to cover 4 nights of raiding on my warrior.  Honestly this is the point at which blizzard needs to either adjust quest rewards to compensate the difference in armor classes, or look at maybe finally normalizing the costs.

In the old world, the basic theory was this.  Plate classes had the least reagents to buy, so as a result they had the highest cost of repair to normalize things so that each class had to pay out roughly the same cost for a night of raiding.  However, as gear has increased, the costs of reagents have not increased to a level to keep up with the astronomical repair bills that most main tanks have each night.  I very literally watch my gold reserves draining every single night, and it is very hard not to do the math in your head.

You start to calculate, how many more weeks can you afford to continue to raid.  I’ve had friends help me out with money, but in truth this only serves to delay the inevitable point at which I literally run out of money.  The time has come for blizzard to finally address the disparity in the “cost of living” for the various classes.  So I ask you my readers, what are your thoughts?  Religiously grinding daily quests are not the answer, this simply adds more workload to an already overworked player.  We should not have to work a “second job” just to be able to afford to raid. 

Basically I feel like general motors, looking to blizzard to bail me out

I’m not dead yet

I promise that the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Quite honestly, as you can probably tell if you are a longtime reader I have been going through a bit of a rough spot.  My posts have become less informative and more emotional over the last few weeks.  This week many things seemed to come to a head and I just flat out exploded on some unintended victims.  While sorting through the rubble I came to the decision point that I needed to take a much needed break.

Life in the Wasteland

mmmm stable isotope So I spent most of the weekend determined not to log into WoW, and for the most part this was successful.  I tanked one minor runs with my closest friends, but otherwise only logged in to do the fishing daily a few times.  I have to say the break was pretty revitalizing.  I needed time away from the politics and emotions that being a guild and raid leader tend to bring to the surface.

Where did I spend my time you might ask yourself?  I aimlessly roamed the capitol wasteland.  I had honestly never really devoted enough time to the game Fallout 3, and used this weekend as a chance to get hopelessly addicted to it.  I was a huge fan of the two prequels by Black Isle, and can still easily replay them with the full amount of enjoyment I did the first time around.

I was more than a bit skeptical about the titles move into the world of three dimensions, but after a few hours the game “felt” like the original 2d click to move adventures.  Granted I am not playing the game like I am “supposed to” in a very quest centric style.  Honestly the quests DO feel different, and I think this is a lot of the issue many of the fallout diehards had with the game.  However if you are like me and just want to equip some gear, and roam the wastelands finding whatever you can along the way, the game plays EXACTLY like the original.

This is my Boomstick

watch it primatives I am not sure what it is about the shotgun, but for some reason this is the weapon I rely on in ALL games.  It doesn’t matter if I am playing Doom, Quake, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, or in this case Fallout 3…  I always end up gravitating towards the shotgun and the glory of one shot kills.  I have laser rifles, sub machine guns, and assault rifles in my inventory and more than enough ammo to choke a mule…  but at the end of the day the ONLY weapon I care about is the trusty combat shotgun, or currently the rare upgrade…  The Terrible Shotgun.

I get perverse pleasure as I draw a bead on a radroach scurrying its way across the floor, and with a single catastrophic shot cause it to explode in a juicy fountain of vitreous. I find that blowing up ants in the many infested buildings is an equally disturbing pleasure for me, as well as the ever present headshot.  I find it bizarre that blowing off a Protectron head exposes something that looks much the same as blood and guts.   I guess part of me just finds it so appealing to blow things to bits with such a relatively simple weapon.  Some previous co-workers can attest to the annoyance of my addiction to this weapon, in our lunch and after work SoF2 matches (which I might add is still probably my favorite LAN game).

Ground Control to Major Tom

ARD189,1 Sunday evening my space capsule had a forced re-entry as I had planned to lead a 25 man Naxxramas for alts, under geared guildies, and friends of the guild.  This was without a doubt the most horrendous mindfuck I have dealt with in awhile.  I don’t want the people who participated to think that I was meaning the raid, because it went really well.  I am meaning being pulled back into raid leader role, on a character I had not really played for two weeks, while being barraged by 10-15 tells at a time with each and every person having a valid question or need of me.  To go from the pleasant cocoon of non-interaction that I had wrapped myself in all weekend long, to the stark reality that every single member of the raid needed some of my attention was more than a bit of a culture shock.

We managed to down 3 wings and 2 bosses in the time allotted.  I feel that overall this was a pretty smooth run giving the facts that we had several periods of afk-ness, and scraping around to find extras to fill holes as people needed to leave.  We had more than our share of issues with the Death knight wing.  Most of this really comes from the fact that the assembled group represented 4 different 25 man naxx raids, with 4 different sets of strategies.  In my reeling mind, I was doing a less than adequate job of explaining our intentions.  So many of the fights in that wing particularly took a few attempts for us to come to a compromise as to the method we would handle each boss.

The real win of the night however is the fact that we only walked away with 4 Abyss Crystals.  That means that many items found new homes in much needed main and offspec sets.  Any night you down a good number of bosses, see a lot of loot, and very few of the pieces go to DE is a massive win in my book.  It helps to justify the fact that we did in fact have a need for a Naxxramas 25 man run.  In the case of Duranub/Stalwart, we have been in need of some fresh blood, but the majority of our good prospects were not geared well enough to be able to perform adequately in Ulduar.  It was my hope that by running a few weeks of this, that we would manage to fill out the gear sets of these players.

Getting Council-ed

council_down Since the events that lead me to take a break happened Thursday evening during our raid, and I never got up the “oomph” to make a post Friday, I missed my normal Thursday night raid synopsis post.  We started the evening doing a little bit of cleanup, and going after Razorscale.  In stark contrast to last week, we pulled off a near flawless victory, with the only mishaps happening during the very tail end of the fight.  It was just a combination of me with too many debuffs, and I believe healers transitioning to the second tank before he had aggro.  However this bobble happened at 10% and really had little effect on the overall outcome of the night.

We proceeded on to the Assembly of Iron, otherwise known by almost everyone as the Iron Council (blame black temple and the Illidari Council).  On our first attempt we made some solid progress getting Steelbreaker down to under 60%, which made me very hopeful for our shots at downing the encounter.  We made some adjustments, and over the course of 3 more attempts we managed to push our way through Steelbreaker, and down Molgeim and Brundir as well.  Other than Flame Leviathan this was without a doubt our fasted time to learn a new encounter.  I don’t want to jinx us, but after the pure horribleness that was weeks 4 and 5, week 6 redeemed the raid as a whole and I think maybe signals us finally being back on our game.

ironcouncil 

will add loot later – since our lootmaster neglected to upload the file and my memory is crap this morning

More Indestructible

Iron Council also managed to drop us our 6th Runed Orb, and in the hopes of increasing my general “not dying-ness”, and the fact that I put in the first request…  they went to craft the insane new tanking belt.  During one of my trips into wow to do the daily fishing quest I managed to catch one of the crafters on Argent Dawn that actually have the pattern (thanks Riotus).  Special thanks go to all the people I pinged in the guild to do titansteel transmutes, and Rylacus who is freakin amazing for helping me with half of the bars I needed to craft the final product.  I love you man, and I totally DON’T want your Bud Light.

Indestructible Plate Girdle with 3x Solid Sky Sapphire for max stamina

Hopefully the week ahead will go smoothly, and I will be able to maintain the “better” mindset that a weekend of NOT playing Warcraft awarded me.  For anyone that I have had an unnaturally short fuse with these last few months, I want to post a very public apology.  I am hoping that the fact that I realize how much of an asshole I have been lately, and taking a bit of a break, will allow me to back down from the Raid Nazi mode I have been slipping into.

I couldn’t wish for a better group to raid with

No Bunny

Last night in Duranub it was a mixed bag, as is often with the night patches are released.  We pulled together the raid with plenty of time to spare and actually had to turn people away for the first time in awhile.  Our push to recruit, along with some of our less than regular raiders showing up last night forced a quite a few people to be left out.  For the folks riding the bench, it was probably a pretty horrible night, but for the health of the raid as a whole it was a good thing.  The officer doing invites kept track of the players who were ready and willing, but without room, so we will get them worked into a run as soon as possible.

Murphy’s Law of Patch Day

it is in fact... just our luck The shortened version of what I am coining, Murphy’s Law  of Patch day states that if a patch is applied to the client or server, Argent Dawn will eventually go down.  In the case of last night, we got a royal flush of horribleness.  The server was up and seemingly stable, but around 8pm server time lag started setting in.  Was there a problem introduced with the patch?  No…  Blackrock was down.

For those of you not familiar with the epic Argent Dawn versus Blackrock battle, the short of it is that the populace of the Blackrock PVP server finds it amazingly fun to try its best to crash our server when theirs is down.  This childish act started shortly after the release of the game and continues today as their version of a “proud tradition”.  While Blackrock is down our cities are flooded with an army of gnomes spamming memorable phrases like “Poop comes from the butt”.  Other piece of information you need to know is that without a doubt, Argent Dawn has the most lazy GMs of any server.

All of this fun aside, we managed to get all our members through the 500 player queue without much effort and prepped to start the Flame Leviathan event.  Clearly things were moving entirely too smoothly for a patch day.  Mere seconds away from us talking to Brann to start up the event, we saw  a dreaded server announcement come across our chat windows.  Yes, Argent Dawn would be restarting in 15 minutes.  So we sat there twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the server to do its business and let us back in to raid.

Thirty minutes later, we finally pushed out way back into the game and started out raid.  Considering we only raid 2 1/2 hours per night, and it took us a bit to get a few healers successfully through the queue we were standing on an hour and 45 minutes left to make some progress.  We pushed through Leviathan like normal and got a few of our members the Heroic: Shutout achievement.  I myself finally managed to finish Heroic: Three Car Garage.  I finally entered the age of modern tanking weapons Monday, when a Stoneguard dropped for us, and I figured that the act of putting Blade Ward on it would surely make the Titanguard finally drop.  Clearly Ulduar saw through my ruse.

Prosthetic Nipple of Doom

kologarn_down We switched up strategies on XT a bit, and after a few attempts managed to down him rather easily.  This allowed us to push on to Kologarn and put in some serious time on him.  Last week we had gotten close, managing to get him to around 10% during one of those slow wipes that happens while learning new content.  Had we around thirty minutes more I think we would haves sealed the deal last Thursday.  However we had to call it and set our sights for him this week.

From out of nowhere, success came back to be our friends.  On our second “true” attempt of the night we managed to pull out a win to the big dumb giant.  Also…  I am convinced that it is not a clasp but a prosthetic nipple, because the lost his real nipple in the war.  It’s an inside joke.

kologarn

Shoulderpads of the MonolithMaliceLeggings of the Stoneweaver

 

Dumb and Dumberer

Dumb Player is Dumb I said earlier that we downed Kolo on our second “true” try of the evening.  One of the attempts featured what was quite possibly the dumbest move I have ever witnessed a player do on a raid.  We were prepping to pull kologarn and over the officer channel I hear one of our mages saying, make sure to click off bunny.  I thought nothing of it, because last I looked down everything was normal.  I tend to play zoomed out at maximum range, and right before pulling Kologarn I ask for the raid to group up on the yellow band at the edge of the room as a sign of readiness.

So I fire my incoming macro, and start running towards the boss only to realize a few seconds later that I in fact was one of the players who had the bunny costume cast on me.  So as I am moving towards the boss with the raid following behind me, I am quickly trying to find the buff and click it off and at the same time screaming a string of expletives over ventrilo at whoever the dumbass it was who thought it was cleaver to apply the buff to the main tank.

For those of you who were not familiar with this effect, the bunny costume is yet another effect that prohibits you from using any abilities while the costume is in place.  So here I stand, the main tank rushing headlong into an almost certain wipe.  We attempt to hold things together, but I am furious beyond words.  Casting this effect in a raid is the single stupidest thing that I have ever seen a player do.  I never in a million years thought that we as a raid would have to put in place a rule to prohibit the use of wands.

To make matters worse, ventrilo was dead silent.  No one was fessing up to doing this or offering any apology.  This is one of those situations where if a player had stepped up to the plate, and offered an apology, it would have faded quickly, but the fact that we had to parse the logs to track down who did it, means that we will be taking punitive actions.  I thought we were adults, but apparently some of our members don’t take progression seriously.

All that said, we managed to still pull out the win and everyone came together in the end.  But that player owes the entire raid a repair bill, and hopefully they think that over carefully the next time they get the grand idea to do something that phenomenally stupid.  As a result we will be adding yet another rule to our stack along side the no trains and dance trinket, put in place only for the sake of mitigating idiocy.

Another joins the fray

wowscrnshot_060109_232313_thumb Much like Ariedan’s Wordy Warrior inspired this blog, apparently I have in turn inspired one of my guild mates to start his own blog.  Gweninu is a longtime member of the guild, raid, and by no small measure a great hunter.  The blog is titled Out of Ammo and features hunter issues and much like this one, his adventures in WoW.  So far its shaping up to be a great little blog and I highly suggest you guys check it out as well.

Tank Interview

I was approached this morning by a friend of mine that runs the druid healing blog, Rolling Hots.  Sylly had this brilliant idea, to interview a bunch of different tanks from different classes and report on her findings.  The goal of the project is to help healers better understand the issues that the different tanks have to deal with and as a result better adjust their healing to fit each class.  So today I am posting her questions and my answers here on my blog.  It is a bit unusual but I was impressed with project.

The Prompt

Dear Tanks,

Thank you so much for your willingness to take the time to answer some
questions for me about tanking.  I intend to use answers from each of you
for a series of posts on my blog intended to educate myself and my readers
about how it is that you do what you do, and how we might best be able to
help you to get it done.

Some quick instructions.  If you are a blogger, there is a question where
you can put your blog information and I will be most happy to link back to
your site with your answers.  If you play more than one tanking class,
please answer the questions twice, once for each tanking class.  Answer
only the questions you are interested in responding to, although the more
answers the better!  You will find the full list of questions below.
Please respond to this email with your numbered answers.  Your generosity
with this project is very much appreciated!

Best,
Sylly

The Questionnaire

1.  Your name?

Belghast (Mark Temple)

 

2.  Your blog information if you have one?

Tales of the Aggronaut (http://www.aggronaut.com)

 

3.  What tanking class do you play?

Protection Warrior – I leveled from 1-80 as prot spec.  Yes I am mental…

 

4.  Can you give an overview of the tanking style and abilities of your
class?  How do you get the job done?  You can be as specific or general as
you’d like, but remember your audience is a bunch of healers, so basic is
good here.

Warriors are to tanking like priests are to healing.  They tend to be the jack of all trades tank.  In the past AOE tanking was a true challenge for the class, with our only real option spamming tab and sunder/devastate to hold aggro on multiple targets.  The tail end of burning crusade and the 3.0 patch both redefined the class greatly giving us a good number of ways to hold aggro on multiple targets. 

The true strength of a warrior is the large number of "oh shit" buttons we have.  A good warrior keeps these in reserve and uses them to pad spikes in damage, and periods where healing drops out.  A properly geared warrior tends to have a very predictable pattern of damage intake.  There are several abilities we have to help the healers keep us vertical.

Last Stand
In our bag of tricks we have Last Stand which acts as a temporary increase in our hit point pool, giving us that extra bit of life to survive a barrage of attacks.  The cool down is 3 minutes, but if glyphed you can shave it down to 2.

Enraged Regeneration
This acts as a heal over time giving us back 30% of our total health over the course of 10 seconds. This cool down is 3 minutes.

Shield Block
Shield Block used to be our bread and butter ability to lower our damage intake, but 3.0 saw this ability severely nerfed.  This ability increases out block chance by 100% for 10 seconds.  The dynamic used to be considerably different and it allowed us to keep it up at all times, but now it sits on a 1 minute cool down.  Most warriors hold this in reserve as a minor "panic" button.

Shield Wall
This is the king of the panic buttons.  When used it reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds.  This ability is by far our best way to curb incoming damage, but it also comes with the longest cool down of 5 minutes.  If talented and glyphed however you can get a version of the ability that only reduces 40% of the incoming damage but is usable every 2 minutes.

Thunderclap
While not an panic button, this is an ability warriors can use to lower incoming damage.  It reduced the attack speed of mobs by 10%, and if talented by 20%.  This greatly reduces the amount of incoming damage and if possible should be kept up at all times.

Demoralizing Shout
This ability reduces the attack power of mobs by 410.  Along with thunderclap it is a good way to reduce the incoming damage the tank receives.

5.  What are your class’s strengths in comparison to other tanking classes
in your opinion?  Your weaknesses?

The lines between the tanking classes have been greatly marginalized, but there are a number of strengths the warrior has.  Firstly we have the most panic buttons of any tanking class.  If properly used this can give us a greater freedom to recover from situations where the damage is either sporadic or unpredictable.  On top of this thunderclap and demoralizing shout give us a solid way to reduce the amount of incoming damage from mobs.  Commanding Shout gives us a strong buff to increase the total hit points of the raid.  Charge gives us a way to move from target to target in battle quickly.  Intervene gives us a strong method of reducing the damage taken by a single target, and Vigilance causes one player in the raid to have their total aggro generation reduced. 

The warrior is the jack of all trades.  They have very solid single target aggro generation, and the ability if talented and glyphed correctly to have some formidable AOE tanking ability.  I personally run dual protection talent specs in order to maximize this potential.  One of my specializations is built to take advantage of all of the AOE tanking tricks we have.  The other set of talents is designed to give me a 2 minute shield wall and last stand and all of the possible survival tricks I can get.

Our greatest weakness is that we often times have trouble with rage starvation.  In order to use our abilities we need to get hit, and as we get better gear we are getting hit less often.  This causes our total rage incoming to drop massively.  While progression content will always give us the ability to keep a nearly full rage bar, as we move back into a tier below our gear or lower we start having issues holding aggro because we are quite literally starved for rage.  My secondary spec has a few tricks to offset this problem, but for a warrior with a single protection spec geared towards progression content they will have trouble handling the lowered rage that older content gives us. 

If your group is patient and gives the warrior plenty of time to acquire aggro then there is rarely an issue.  However it is important to note as healers that on trash and older content it is important not to front load your heals too much.  You can quickly overtake the warrior in aggro generation with your healing, especially if as a druid you drop all of your HoTs on the target at the same time.  We ride a thin line between too much rage and none at all.

6.  How would you characterize your own relationship with your healers
during game play?

I feel the warrior more than the other tanking classes has a symbiotic relationship with the healer.  Our healers are our lifeline, and when our constant string of healing is broken we can only do so much to stay vertical.  As a warrior, our panic button give us the ability to stay up through bad situations, and as a result we need to communicate regularly with our healing staff.  When we use last stand it is important to let the healers know, because visually it will appear that the heals are no longer landing for as much health since we temporarily have our health increased.  If we use shield wall, it lets the healers know they 12 seconds to catch up on healing and throw out any critical group heals.

Since we have so many gearing options available to us, we can tweak our gear to make ourselves fit the healing styles of the raid as a whole.  Balancing mitigation and avoidance often times makes you easier to predicatively heal, and as a result more conducive for healing styles like that of the druid.  However you can also stack avoidance for those fights where you know your health bar is going to ping pong anyways, making you the ideal candidate for a spam healer like a paladin or a disc priest.  It is very important for the warrior to know what kind of healing he will be receiving so that he can adjust accordingly.

7.  Under what circumstances should healers be paying special attention to
your class?  When are you most vulnerable? (i.e. if a certain tanking
ability fails, during melee/spell damage spikes, etc.)

Warriors are weaker than most classes to incoming spell damage.  There is only one talent that can really offer any sense of protection against spell damage, and the majority of boss attacks are immune to spell reflection.  So this gives us a chink in our armor, and in scenarios where a large frontal breath is going to be a regular occurrence the healers are going to need to time heals at the beginning of the breath so they land and top back off the tank in preparation for the next big hit.

Movement is another weak phase for the warrior.  If the warrior is not skilled in strafing and mob placement, he can easily expose his backside to the boss.  Warrior avoidance and mitigation is a purely frontal ability, so when we need to turn our back to the boss we are losing the majority of our damage reduction.  Stuns will also leave us vulnerable in much the same way.  As a healer if the tank is running away from a mob, or stunned you should expect his damage to increase by as much as 60%.

8.  What is your experience with being healed by Restoration Druids?  Is
it a healing class that you enjoy working with?  Why or why not?

The predictability of the way a warrior takes damage often makes it an opportune scenario for druid healing.  The warrior needs a steady stream of healing, and druid hots are an ideal way to receive this.  In the case where the warrior is the main tank, it is ideal to mix druid healing to cover a baseless of heals per second, with that of a disc priest of holy paladin to cover the spike damage intake.  Druids are the perfect additive healer, in that they help to pad the incoming damage with a predictable stream of health.

9.  Can you give one strong piece of advice for a healer in your group or
raid?

The key to warrior healing seems to be a steady stream of healing.  On bosses like kologarn where we are taking hits for upwards of 20k health, it is very easy to get behind the curve when trying to reactively heal fights.  However through the steady application of predictive heals, the warrior damage in take can be smoothed out so that you only occasionally have to throw a big heal to top off.  Get to know your warriors, each one has a different play style and as a result a different pattern of damage.  Each one however should be predictable.  Encourage your warriors to tell you when they are using panic buttons, so that you can adjust accordingly.

10.  How deep is your understanding of how different healing classes work?
Do you think it would help your game play if you knew more?
 

I’ve played a healadin and a resto druid, but in truth my greatest understanding of healing comes from being healed by various classes.  When you are the main tank you can tell a difference in the way your health bar moves depending on who is healing you.  I’ve always big a big fan of priest healing, so I tend to be biased in that direction.  However with the 3.0 patch the resto ability to keep up with large hits was greatly increased, and as a result I enjoy being healed by a tree equally well.  Paladin healing is still great for its pure spammy nature, but in general I prefer the more surgical healing style of a druid or a priest.  Shaman seem generally ineffective as a single target main tank healer, so as a result we try and push them more into a role of group healing.

11.  Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’m hoping some of the things I have said prove helpful to your readers.  I think this is a great topic, and look forward to seeing the results.

Blog Azeroth: Deconstructing Westfall

For those of you who have read the blog for awhile, you will recognize the “blog azeroth” prepend too today’s topic.  For everyone else, Blog Azeroth is an amazing resource for the “WoW Blogosphere”, where various bloggers can meet and share ideas.  One of the constructs of the website is the “shared topic”.  The general idea is that multiple bloggers write on the same topic.  I’ve done a few in the past, but always horribly past the “due date”.

The topic chosen for today is from Spinks over at Spinksville.  Inspired by a post on massively, the basic idea is to take your favorite quest, questline or zone and deconstruct it telling everyone why you love it so much.  I can’t say I will be near as successful as she was, but I am going to try anyway.

Westfall needs Heroes

The Farms of Westfall  I remember back in 2004, I got my first taste of the wow crack with the File Planet sponsored “Stress Test” weekend.  I had been playing City of Heroes at the time, and managed to get into the test with a good number of my cadre of friends.  Initially I had rolled a Tauren Warrior by myself, and while enjoyable, the Mulgore area was thoroughly uninspiring to me.  When I joined with my other gamer friends, we decided to roll humans, since most everyone could find a class they wanted to play there.

Elwynn Forest was a good deal more interesting and we quickly progressed through the starter quests.  Before long we were fighting a curious band of thugs known as the Defias.  The storyline surrounding them was pretty scant but I definitely thought they were a cool villain.  Everyone needs a brotherhood of evil to foil their plans, and as we moved through the newbie quests we started to see some glimmers of an emerging plotline.

A Kingdom in Need

Farmer and Mrs Fulrbrow and BlanchyAs soon as you cross the bridge from Elwynn into Westfall you are presented with the start of the zones central conflict.  Ahead of you, curiously at the side of the road are Farmer Furlbrow, his wife, and his their horse Blanchy.  Some thugs have overrun their farm, and in the rush to escape with their lives they forgot their most prized heirloom.  Being the consummate hero that you are, you offer to help them out in their struggle.

Low and behold, the “thugs” ransacking their farm house are none other than the Defias brotherhood you had seen so many of in Elwynn.  After making short work of the thieves and recovering the valuables, the good farmer suggests that you look up the militia at Sentinel hill.  On your way across the land, you encounter more farmers that tell similar tales.  It seems that Westfall is not only blighted with a horrible drought but also besieged by the mysterious Defias.

The People’s Militia

Sentinel Hill When you reach sentinel hill you are told the tale of the people’s militia by their leader Gryan Stoutmantle.  It seems that Westfall is not receiving much help from Stormwind, and quickly enlists you to help him investigate the activities at several nearby mines.  It seems that not only are the Defias pushing back the farmers, but they are also tunneling deep into the earth with the help of the local tribes of kobolds.

You had encountered Hogger the leader of the river paw Gnolls back in Elwynn and as a result knew the fury brutes were nothing to be trifled with.  If the Defias and Gnolls were in fact working in coordination it meant great trouble for the struggling farmers.  After a few skirmishes, Gryan realizes that the Defias are not a band of cutthroats but instead a serious organization.  He determines that you must get to the bottom of this threat.

In Search of the Leader

Leader of the Defias Brotherhood Gryan sends through Elwynn to Redridge and the town of Lakeshire, where he knows a man called Wiley the Black can help you infiltrate the Defias.  Wiley lets slip that the Stonemasons guild might have something to do with the organization. Upon returning to Westfall, Gryan sends you off again to verify this information with Mathias Shaw, the head of SI:7.

While talking with Shaw you find out that the Stonemasons’ Guild was run by a man named Edwin VanCleef. VanCleef was responsible for rebuilding Stormwind after the orcs razed it in the First War. Apparently, VanCleef and his men were unhappy with their treatment by the King after the reconstruction was complete.  This information fills in a few pieces of the puzzle.

Kill The Messenger

The Mysterious Messenger Once you arrive at Sentinel Hill, it is quickly determined that you must find the location of the Defias hideout.  Gryan has scout reports that a Messenger has been seen on the roads between Moonbrook, the Gold Coast Quarry and the Jangolode mine; all of which were locations of heavy defias activity.  The militia asks you to obtain the message he is carrying at all costs.

The message is firm proof that VanCleef is in charge of the brotherhood, and this escalates the need to find their base of operation.  With a stroke of luck Militia operatives caught a Defias thief trying to steal Farmer Saldean’s wagon.  The brigand has offered to lead you to the Defias hideout, in exchange for sparing his life.

You protect the traitor as he leads you along the roadways of Westfall, heading to Moonbrook.  You are ambushed many times by his former allies trying to keep him from revealing the truth.  After fighting your way into the Defias enclave of Moonbrook, he shows you to the entrance to a series of interlinking caverns known only as The Deadmines.

Assassinate VanCleef

Caverns of The Deadmines You gather with you some stalwart allies and make your way inside the Deadmines.  As you climb through an intricate series of mine shafts, you find the secret entrance to the hideout.  Inside you face greater resistance in form of defias, miners, goblins, and gnolls.  You fight your way through mine shafts, a goblin foundry, and into a great underground dock complete with a warship.

Throughout the battle you have to fight your way past a number of members of the Defias brotherhood.  Rhahk’Zor the Ogre and his two lieutenants guard the first passage.  Next you are confronted by Sneed and his Goblin Shredder, that tries to make mulch of you.  In the foundry, the master engineer Gilnid turns the fire of his forge against you.  After using gunpowder to blow your way into the docks, you are confronted by Mr. Smite, who attempts to overpower you with his mastery of weapons.

Once on board the ship, you must fight your way past tiers of pirates.  Even Cookie the ships cook, tries to flatten you with his rolling pin.  As you mount the top of the ship, you are confronted by Captain Greenskin and his retinue, who attempt to skewer you with the harpoons.  All of this leading to the top deck, where the mysterious Edwin VanCleef stands awaiting your challenge.

Edwin VanCleef is a very formidable fighter in his own right, as his attacks quickly put your party on the defensive.  Just as you regain your footing and begin to cut through his offensive, you are ambushed by more Defias rogues.  You can’t really expect the leader of a crime syndicate to fight fair after all.  Though the battle is tough, and it taxes your skills, you and your allies persevere and laying before you is the corpse of leader of the brotherhood.

The Beauty of Westfall

The Lighthouse This was the questline, that plain and simple, hooked me on the game.  Prior to wow, you had never really seen this level of intricacy and storytelling.  The game pioneered making quest lines both easy to find, and engaging at the same time.  In Everquest, you had to dig with obsessive fervor to be able to find a series of quests and complete it.  But here for the first time, quests evolved themselves in a very organic way.

The Westfall storyline is basically every good pen and paper adventure, distilled to its purest essence, and recast in MMO form.  Your character is drawn into the conflict slowly, and through the series of the quests you are given foreshadowing of the events that are to come.  Each quest giving you a piece of the puzzle leading up to the final reward.  The first alliance dungeon, The Deadmines.

Deadmines in itself was groundbreaking as well.  This was the first time in an MMO I had seen such amazing scripted events.  Each boss unlocked a piece of the dungeon, with its own flavor, giving you access to something new.  My jaw literally hit the floor the first time I aggro’d the ogre boss, and he announced “VanCleef pay big for your head!”.

Later when you collect gunpowder and use it to blow open the door to the docks.  This was a level of interactivity that simply did not exist prior to wow.  Players who were new to the MMO genre really missed the sense of amazement that all of us felt, seeing this content for the first time.  This was truly ground breaking stuff, giving the player a level of immersion into the storyline that we had never really had before.

Improved by Never Replaced

The Battle of Wrathgate Next to some of the newer content, the Westfall series seems dated.  But in my heart it will always have a special place.  It was the first time I was given a glimpse of what this game could truly deliver, and was the dealer giving me my first real hit of crack.  After playing that first stress test weekend, City of Heroes no longer felt as shiny as it once had.  The bar had been raised, and nothing short of World of Warcraft was going to scratch the itch I now had.

I’ve recently started a new warlock, and while Goldshire is a wretched hive of scum and villainy on a role-playing server, I am dealing with it in order to experience Westfall again for the first time in 3 years.  There is almost a certain amount of giddiness I have at the thought of playing my way progressively through the Westfall quest lines once more.  I might even go so far as to pug my way through the Deadmines, trying to experience all the content as it was intended.

Westfall was to my Warcraft career, as the Dungeons and Dragons boxed set was to my role-playing experience, or Pong was to my video gaming history.  As the game ages and matures, I hope they can keep recapturing the magic of the Defias brotherhood.  With Wrath of the Lich King they seem to have taken the art of MMO storytelling to a new level, and they gave us some equally epic quest lines like the Wrathgate storyline.  This gives me great hope for what the future will bring.  But for me…

…It All Started With Westfall

One Wild and Crazy Month

over10thousand It’s been a pretty crazy week here, so many of my routines have gone by the wayside including regularly checking Google analytics.  I find that website completely fascinating, and I enjoy seeing exactly where my readers are coming from.  I think its amazing that I have multiple users reading my page in Thailand, Qatar, Malta, some hits from Iraq, and 3 users from the Isle of Guernsey, that until today I didn’t even know existed.  So in the daze of this ending week I completely missed the fact that at some point on Tuesday evening I passed the 10,000 unique visitors mark.

I am completely amazed that in just a few days over a month I have been able to bring that many people to read my content.  I am feeling validated on one hand, but on the other hand extremely expose considering I have had that many people digging around in my head.  For the most part, my blog entries are my stream of consciousness, and expound upon thoughts and ideas I have built over the last five years playing the World of Warcraft.  Regardless of the website showing some signs of success, I still feel very amateur and am still “finding my voice”.

I realize that a good deal of the readership came during the wowinsider bump, but each day I keep getting linked from more high quality blogs, and more regular readers.  I want to throw out a blanket thank you to every one of my readers for the support they have shown.  Also I want to thank the wow blogging community for quickly accepting me into their numbers.  Blog Azeroth has been a great community with tons of good ideas, helpful tips and constructive criticism.

Thanks for the Continued Support

The Clover is the Key

Yesterday I honestly did not have it in me to make a post.  I won’t lie, the raid Tuesday night was pretty horrific.  Combined with the feeling of general uselessness that I had been feeling, the general “badness” of our attempts the night before pushed me in to a stupor.  This combined with not having a good deal of time to even formulate my ideas (still pushing up against a tough deadline at work), caused me to fail once more to make my daily post.

I spent a good deal of the day bickering back and forth with one of the other raid leaders, trying to figure out what went wrong and how to keep it from ever happening again.  The source of my frustration is that, we as a raid backslid.  The previous week we fought hard to down XT, and when we finally did I thought we had reached that magical click moment, or at the very least it felt like a click.  However this week, in our push to get some solid attempts in on Kologarn, we skipped Razorscale and Ignis and instead spent the night wiping over and over on the big dumb bot.

The failure of a few players to be able to react in a timely fashion to bombs caused us to wipe over and over.  There is nothing more disheartening than having a perfect attempt go south when a single player detonates the entire raid.  We fought valiantly, and our players kept trying to recover from the same few people failing to react.  I tried my best to keep calm, but officer chat quickly became a long string of obscenities abbreviated by the bit of sentence structure. 

We finally adjusted our strategy to be a bit more forgiving, and managed to pull out a win, but the whole process left me angry beyond reason.  The last thing I needed to post were back to back “emo rants” about how players need to “pull their heads out”.  So instead I refrained from posting anything at all.  Today I am feeling more confident and looking forward to playing cleanup on the bosses we left behind and then pushing on to get those illusive tries on Kologarn.

Springtime for Ignis

Last night I logged in not really sure what I would be doing.  Wednesday is usually the night I end up tagging along with some non-guild/raid friends on 10 and 25 man instances, getting a much needed break from tanking on one of my other raiding alts.  After the “failure to launch” of a 25 man Naxxramas, and the horrible fail that was a PUG 10 man Malygos, I settled down to dps as my retribution paladin in a 10 man Ulduar run by a friends guild.

I am one of those players that learn most by doing, and whenever given a chance I like to tag along with a different raid group and see how they approach fights differently.  Last nights run yielded an amazing gem.  Up until now we had been doing what I like to refer to as the “Box Method” for Ignis as illustrated by the Tankspot video.  The basics of the strategy are to move ignis in a 4 point path around the room as to minimize the scorch damage. 

The negatives of this method are that it causes the raid to spread out, and you have to have players capable of doing 5k single hits watching both pools.  This makes the healing assignments fairly spread thin, and AOE healing becomes fairly inefficient.  The other major issue you have is that during the fight Ignis will run to a random player and dunk them in the fire pot at his crotch.  Because of the travel time for players on the outskirts of the room guarding the pools, it can cause Ignis to lay patches of scorched earth in unpredictable locations.

I’ve drawn this diagram to help out my raid adjust to the new strategy.  Because of the way it looks on the diagram I have decided to start calling this method the “Clover Method”.  The melee becomes the stem of the clover and the scorch path I will make with the boss becomes the pedals.  The pull starts with me standing on the horizontal line that divides the room directly between the pulls.  One of our hunters will misdirect Ignis onto me, and as he moves into place, I will spin him so that my body is standing on the A in the diagram.

The first scorch always comes quickly so I will need to move to where I am standing on the B within a few minutes of the initial pull.  I will be standing just out of the range of the first patch of scorch.  The melee should not have to move to stay in range with the backside of Ignis.  The diagram places the Ignis dot for scorch B a little higher than it would actually be, but the diagram is easier to read this way. 

I will continue to move him to point C at the next scorch, still trying to make sure the melee can have constant contact with the boss.  When the third scorch lands I will circle strafe until I am back on point A, which should now be clear thanks to the timer of the first patch.  This process is repeated for tanking the boss until he dies.  The next issue in the fight is managing the adds.

Always in the past we have had 2 casters that are capable of shattering the constructs guarding each pool.  In this scenario the only pool where a construct will be shattered is the left side.  This allows us to have fewer casters tied up tending to the pool, and gives us a greater ease of recovery if one of them happens to go down.  We will continue to alternate our two deathknight offtanks, but the scorched earth will be in closer proximity and should allow for the adds to become molten faster.

This strategy worked beautifully on 10 man last night, and I am thinking it will translate extremely well to the 25 man version as well.  It takes care of many of the issues we seemed to have with the fight, and should make it more recoverable as a whole.  The biggest piece I believe is that the add maintenance should be far more reliable, since we are only really working in one smaller quadrant of the room.  Healing assignments should be much easier to maintain as well, and with everyone being clumped up we should be able to finally utilize our chain healers.

Raiding 101

BOY_SCHOOL_SWEDEN Apparently players are starting to think I actually know what I am talking about.  How I managed to fool them is a complete mystery, but Nibuca of Mystical Chicanery has asked for my assistance on her newly adopted project:  Raider 101.  The goal of the site is to be a Wiki document to help players who want to improve their raid game by offering tips, tricks and tutorials.  I’ve only just learned about the site’s existence today, but in the small amount of time I have looked around it seems like a rather valiant effort.  I will be looking through some of the warrior related information specifically and helping to tweak it a bit, so I will try my best not to screw things up.

It definitely looks like a great resource to send your guild, raid and friends to who are looking for help answering various class related issues.  Unlike wowwiki or elitist jerks, the information is distilled down into easy to read basic howto guides.  If you are looking for some assitance, especially with alts, I would highly suggest you spend a bit of time browsing through the wiki.

A Pirate’s Life For Me

ed3cheeks2 The last little bit today is a shameless commercial plug.  One of the founding members of House Stalwart,  Ed/Saggart/Sgian/Shadoes, has been working on a side project for the last several months.  At great personal expense to sanity he has become a member of the pirate band, The Musical Blades, and over the course of the summer has been touring the renfaire circuit with his unique brand of showmanship and musical prowess.  Many bands that frequent that scene are what I would call a Gimmick band, but in the case of the blades they are all truly amazing musicians capable of standing up against any act out there.

This past weekend they released their latest CD, “Live at Pubs and Pirate-Core”, which is a compilation of live recordings, piratecore and a few unreleased bonus tracks.  From what I have heard of the various tracks of the course of several lunch outings I would say its a good release.  I know over the past weekend at the St Louis renfaire they sold a good deal of copies.  While it still lacks my favorite track, “Run out the guns”, which is waiting in the wings for their next studio album, I was glad to see Derelict make its debut.

I would check out their myspace music page for some good examples of their repertoire, or if you are in the greater St. Louis area, they will be playing the next two weekends at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival.  I’ve gotten to hear a good deal of their unreleased material, and I have to say the next Studio album will be pretty amazing.  This is coming from me, who doesn’t normally go in for this style of music.  The festival atmosphere combined with perfect five part harmony is pretty near impossible to beat.

Main Tank’s Burden

weight of the raid on my shoulders Forgive me readers for I have sinned…  it has been 4 days since my last confession.  Friday was an extremely busy day for me, and then we had our long memorial day weekend here in the united states.  During which time I had zero desire to sit down and think of something worth reading.  I have all these “rainy day” topics in my head, but have been unable to bring myself to sit down and actually formulate them.

To further my sinning, I have begun to play a deathknight.  This is only a sin for those who know me well, and have heard me lament the fact that so many players abandoned “useful” classes to level a deathknight.  I lost my tanking partner in crime, an amazing feral druid named Sanctifi, to the dark class.  In addition to that we lost our best healing shaman to a deathknight.  However both were very open and up front about this, and both have become the two deathknights I look up to the most.  I patterned my DK after Roisen, at least in that I am leveling blood spec for maximum survivability.

I have to say that right now, leveling as a deathknight is much like I typed IDDQD in my chat window and turned entered “Degreelessness Mode”.  I started the weekend at 56 and as of last night was halfway through 64.  Right now he has taken the spot that the boomkin had, of my favorite non-raid activity.  If I keep this obsession up I will end up with a fourth 80 before I know it.  Yesterday I was happily playing along and “accidentally dinged”.  You can tell I am enjoying myself, when I am not watching the xp bar at all.  I need to slow down a bit, I have blown past my “leveling buddy”.

Dealing with the Guilt

does the empty chair go unnoticed? As the main tank of our guild and raid, I carry with me a large package of responsibility, and with that comes a large degree of guilt and pressure.  Last night we had planned a second night of 10 man ulduar, in an attempt to push on and get Assembly of Iron and maybe Auriaya.  However yesterday I woke up with immense back pain, which I attribute to the extremely uncomfortable chair I was forced to sit in at the lake on Sunday.  As the day drug on the pain got worse, and when we arrived home from the movies yesterday afternoon, I took one Flexeril that I had from a previous back injury.

It completely knocked me on my ass.  I tried laying down for a bit before raid time, which caused me to get online a few minutes late, but this really had zero effect.  As I stand there, in the rooms just prior to the Assembly of Iron trash, I was quite literally unable to keep my eyes open.  I knew that without a doubt I would wipe the raid multiple times that night.  A few players noted that they too were not really feeling up to raiding, so I thought that if I stepped up to the plate and announced that I just couldn’t handle it, the raid would eventually dissolve. 

I am finding out this morning that this was not the case.  So this morning I am dealing with a severe case of guilt as I abandoned the raid, and the other players who were also not feeling up to raiding, apparently swallowed it down and pushed onwards.  So for other players who bring to the table a key role in a raid…  how do you handle the guilt when you can’t make it?  I still feel like me stepping out was the best option both for me and the raid, but I can’t seem to get past the sense that I failed as a whole.  Had I known the drug was going to have such a serious effect I would have just dealt with the pain.

Dealing with the Obsolescence

feeling like I am ready for the junk heap The other thing I am struggling with this morning is the general feeling of being obsolete.  It is really hard not to feel like the fate of the raid rests on your shoulders.  When you are reminded of the fact that your presence really doesn’t matter that much, it is kind of hard to swallow.  Last night, not only did the raid move on without a hitch in my absence, but they apparently downed a brand new boss.  Which of course, dropped a new piece of tanking gear, giving our off tank one more piece of gear ahead of me.  So this morning I am also struggling with that feeling that maybe my raid doesn’t need me at all. 

There are times I feel pretty bulletproof, but there are also times that I feel like I am wearing paper armor.  I am one of those players that strives to make sure I have the best possible gear for every situation.  It feels like, especially in Ulduar, that our class is even more gear dependant than it has been in the past.  With the crappy luck that I have had recently in getting the upgrades that I really need to remain viable, I am feeling very outmoded and ready for the recycle bin.

I should be excited and happy, that I have somehow managed to build a raid that is self healing and can keep moving along happily in my absence.  On so many levels I am, because I am proud of the fact that we have so many leaders in Stalwart, that any one of them can pick up the slack when something goes wrong.  But at the same time, it is very much a blow to my ego.  How dare the world not grind to a halt when I can’t be there!  I say that in joking, but at the same time, it is a bit disheartening that things went so smoothly without me.

Leading by Example

Giving of myself, the good and the bad I felt it was important to make a post like this.  I have posted a good deal of raid and guild advice in the last few weeks.  All of it has been nurtured and compiled over years of leading a guild and raid.  But by the same token, I think its important for you the public, to see that even though the final product comes together smoothly, I have the same fears and doubts that every player has.  I am by no means special in any way other than the fact that I have a good bunch of loyal friends who will seemingly follow me to the gates of hell itself.

I am very much the type of person who will admit when I don’t know an answer.  Often times I don’t know, or don’t even know where to look.  However I am always willing to work through things as they come along.  Right now I feel guilty for abandoning my raid for the good of my own health, but I know that it was the right decision as I hit the pillow at 8 pm and didn’t wake for a second until the alarm went off this morning at 5 am.  Right now I feel obsolete because of the shitty luck I have had with gear, and the success that the raid has had without me.  However I know that many players simply feel more comfortable on the nights they are there, and that while things go successfully, they don’t necessarily go smoothly.  Me making this post, is in a way working through the issues I don’t know the solutions to publically.