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Archive for May, 2010

Like the previous Old Kingdom post I will do this completely from memory. Unlike the other post I will not do it ‘pull by pull’. This one will use more of the ‘yeeeehaaaa! Everyone diiiiies!!’ strategy of pulling.

Nexus is actually a bad one for multi pulls. It is bad because there are plenty of groups you can’t really move. I will cover those… a screw-it, no talky, gogogo

Pull 1: I need just enough time to pop thorns , GotW, bearform, enrage, and hopefully by now I am in range of the first pull. This one makes my bear cry. The reason is that there is just ONE target… AND it is far too far from any other group to do as a multi pull. I know, I have tried… it just is not worth it. (healer’s thoughts: oh noez it is one of THOSE tanks!)

Pull 2: With any luck the dog and guy spiral ramp patrol is near the bottom. This makes it easy to drag them into the first of the frozen guys. While you are at it grab a few more. (healer’s thoughts: that was not so bad.. where is he going? Oh ****!)

Pull 3: If you accidentally drop that first few frozen guys before you round up the next you will have to make up for it by pulling the boss with the group before or after or both. This is some of the nastiest multi pulling anywhere. Those archers are shooting multi shots at people; turn them around. The boss is whirlwinding; move him off your clothies. The clerics are healing; interrupt them. You healer is going into cardiac arrest; find your gnomish army knife. (healer thoughts: aaaiiiiieeeeee!!!! *urk*)

Pull 4: Finish off pulling the rest of the frozen guys and the next dog and guy ramp patrol. That is assuming you messed up and left any alive after your last ‘pull’. Now is a good time to check and see if your healer has dropped group. I have lost them about here at least once. If they have not dropped they are probably drinking and chanting ‘I can’t believe we are alive’. Make sure you get to the top of the ramp before he has time to type ‘wait’. (healer thought: waaaaiiit!)

Pull 5 Boss: These packs of 4 are great because they are all melee. Be certain to round up the first pack and then run for the next one. If the ramp patrol was at the top of the ramp you might want to only do that and the first pack. If so hang your head in shame. You can at least pull one pack with the boss and make up for your lameness. If you already got the pat charge for the second pack with the first and then pull the boss with those two packs. This boss is fun because you get to time your AOE hits while getting tossed around the room.  (Healer thought: O.O)

Pull 6: If the pat is at the top of the ramp you might have to do it by itself (/cry). (healer thought: We lived! wow… this is not so bad)

Pull 7: Make up for that lame pull by pulling through first platform and onto the second one. The first one has no rift, making this pull possible. You are probably going to drop the first caster though. Don’t worry too much. That one slow witted DPSer will probably solo it before noticing you are on the next platform fighting 7 guys. (healer thought: surely he can’t do anything too crazy here… where did the tank go?)

Pull 8: Jump off and kill the pack there. These guys are annoying to move around so just single pull them (/pout). But hey, with any luck the hunter’s pet will bring some more when it round around the long way.

Pull 9: You CAN pull this group up to the boss and do both. Having done it I don’t recommend it. Not because it is hard, but it usually slows down the boss fight. Plus you can’t move the rift so that is nasty. If you must you might consider getting the boss and dragging it back to the rift. Because you are insane to still be reading I will assume you did this and go right to the next.

Pull 10: Run though the pack below the platform and run up to the last one with a rift. That one you ran though has casters and so does the next one so this will be slightly tricky.

Pull 11-12: How far can you get before stopping to AOE them down? Those little saplings are annoying and the DPS insist on stumbling into random trees and dryads. With luck you can clear the ankle biter gauntlet with just two distinct fights. (healer thought: I had mana once. It was nice)

Pull 13: Of course you pull the last pack into the big elemental boss. Weeee! Ice makes a fun ride. The last time I did this we had two dps down and it sure was a long fight.

Pull 14: Run up the tunnel, jump down, engage, and drag that pack past the last Ancient. You can avoid him by hugging the wall. It saves a second or two. Make up for that cowardice by pulling a dragon patrol or two.

Pull 15: Naturally you are going to do the final dragon boss and the add near her at the same time (duh). Don’t let your healer’s whining or the out of breath panting of the DPS distract you from jumping up and down. That ice debuff still hurts.

Do all that right and your party will be in awe. Do it wrong and they will be blogging about your epic fail status.

Yes, I have done every one of these pulls. I did most of them yesterday.

Analogue says: please, please, for the love of God and all things holy, don’t listen to him, baby tanks! I think I need to stage an intervention here…

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Survival in an extreme tanking situation is about 3 things, reducing the incoming damage, Mitigating the incoming damage and healing the damage. Of course we all knew that right? So let’s apply them to multi pulls.

Healing

There is nothing the tank can do about the heals, right? You just take what you can get. Wrong. First of all you can do various things to ensure the healer is ready. Check they mana levels before you pull. Confirm their position before moving. Estimate how long it will take them to get into the healing action. Pay attention to how far ahead of them you are and estimate how fast they will be able to get heals on you.

A good tank does all of this on any run. Multi-pull runs are even more intense this way. But you are multi-pulling to save time, right? So get in the habit of checking the healers status so that you don’t have to take extra time for it when you deliberately make things harder.

Do NOT assume the healer can keep you up. In fact you are much safer to assume the heals will be bad. Pay attention on the first few pulls and adjust your pace to match what the healer can do. By a few pulls in you should be able to tell if pulling that one extra pack is going to kill you because the healer is maxed out.

Finally don’t assume good gear means they can keep up. Gear is cheap and easy these days. Also the healer might be distracted, talking on the phone, or feeding a baby, or any number of things. You can’t just say “Oh, nice gear. Time to go full speed.”
That is enough about healing. Our goal is going to be to not need any.

Reducing incoming damage

This means applying a debuffs you have. It also means being vigilant about spell reflecting, stunning, anti-magic shielding, interrupting, and just generally making it hard for the mobs to get you. This is not to be dismissed. A few well timed interrupts or a spell reflect can really cut down on how much damage you take. So can shifting the fight off the time bomb, out of the fire, or ducking around a corner to interrupt a cast. Pull out all the stops and do whatever you can to cut that damage down.

Mitigating damage

This is the big one. This is where the tank can do the most to survive on their own. This is cooldowns. Well mostly cooldowns. First it means doing other things, like being in the most defensive posture you can be and being gemmed, enchanted, and itemized to have the maximum health pool and mitigation stats you can. Unless you have serious threat generation issues you need to drop those attack power gems for some more stam (I saw that but Rev has a few gems that need replaced). Gear your 5 man tank like you are planning to raid and you will be in fair shape for multi pulls.

Cooldowns

But now for the real meat. Cooldowns are where it is at. Being able to reduce, absorb or regenerate incoming damage on demand helps makes a decent tank into an uber tank.
Let’s get straight to examples. If you remember the Profiling post and the Cooldowns post here is where I put it all together.

Here is a basic multi pull. Our bear is doing the two anvils in the hall at the start of UK.

The two packs are in black circles. The patrolling guys are in between. The tank (blue) moves in, throws ‘growl’ to the left and ‘Feral Faerie Fire’ to the right. Then he ‘Swipes’ like crazy and rounds up all agro.

This pull is a short run from where the party started. No long ‘down the hall around the corner’ stuff. This means the heals and DPS get in on the action fast. Lets plot it out.

Here we are. The damage the tank takes per second is in Red. The red line jumps up fast because both packs and the patrollers all get to the tank about the same time and start swinging.

The healing line reacts a little slow and then hits a reasonable sustained healing rate.
All the DPS uses AOEs hard and some the packs all die almost together. It is never exactly together because some of the damage will be single or double target.

Notice that there is a ton of damage that does not get healed. How can we cut that down? In the profiling post I looked at using kill order to cut down on the damage the tank takes. In multi pulls situations this does not make sense.

To explain why not we need to back up a little. For a quick recap here is one group down with single target and with AOE.

The Red line is the damage the tank takes (that does not get healed right away) with using a kill order. And the Blue line is the damage he takes when only AOE is used.

Here we shade the important areas in.

Just the blue area is the difference.
He takes a lot more in an AOE fight assuming the DPS is bad at AOE.
Here is the same fight more realistic, with the AOE taking less time than the single targeting.

The tank still takes a lot of damage when we kill stuff with AOE instead of single targeting down. That happens because the amount of time he is tanking damage from more critters is longer. This means more time taking more damage than the healer is able to heal. The chart shows if you can kill one or two of the pack fast you can get that incoming damage down to something the healer can handle.

Now lets look at two fights.

The bottom red line is one pack of 4 getting killed by following kill order and single targeting them down.

The top red line is TWO packs of 4 being killed in the same way. Just look how much unhealed damage there is. Again, the green line is how much the healer can handle. The space below the red line bug above the green is the damage the tank has to eat. In the fight that is two packs (double the citters) the damage that the tank eats is a lot more than double. Not only that but the time he spends eating more damage then the healer can heal is a long time. Longer than the whole previous fight.

Now we will overlay the AOE version of the two pack fight.

Here the red area is tank damage in single target and the blue is tank damage when AOE is used. Notice that now the blue area is SMALLER than the red area. So as we increased the number of critters and keep healing and AOE damage the same at some point it is better to AOE. What point that is varies depending on how good the healing is. BUT, fight length also comes into play because at some point people will go OOM.

Did that make sense? Let me try it another way. For single pack fights and moderate (not over geared) healing levels it is faster to AOE things down BUT the tank still takes more damage in that shorter period of time. As we add more and more monsters to this equation the amount of time it takes to single target them down gets down right crazy. And the damage the tank takes get unhealable fast. But in the AOE version of the fight while adding more mobs does up the damage the tank takes, it is not as bad as it is in the ‘kill order’ fight. At some point, as we keep adding more creatures to the fight, it starts to get easier to tank by AOE killing them instead of ‘kill order’ killing them.

I am not talking about different fights. I am talking about just one fight were we try the same pack again, in the same way, but there just happens to be one more creature than the time before. Somewhere the numbers balance out and AOE is the better option. How many critters it takes to get to that point depends on many factors but it is almost ways way past that point when you have enough critters for two full ‘packs’ of some average size.

There is another factor that makes longer fights your enemy. Cooldown durations.

Here is a chart where the tank used a bunch of nice big cooldowns to mitigate damage. Now the damage the tank takes in an AOE fight (blue area above the green) does not look all that different from a fight with just one pack. And the fight was the same length. So the healer has the same ability to heal it.

If the fight last longer and the tanks cooldowns wear off the fight gets hard again. When multi pull tanking and using cooldowns time is your enemy. The fights need to be short and brutal and then packs need to die fast.

There is another obvious reason to AOE…. It is easier. There are far to many targets in a multi pull for people to find the one with the X and only hit that. They waste all kinds of time changing to the right target. The rule of thumb for fight length is above 3 targets the fights are faster to use AOE instead of single target. At 3 targets it is about the same and with 4 or more it is faster to AOE. The speed boost starts to level off above 6 targets and somewhere (15+??) it gets slower to AOE. I think… Not sure really. There is a diminishing returns factor. It really does not matter because NO ONE will single target a pack of a bazillion. Someone else can do that math. I don’t care.
Basically over 3 targets, if the tank can take the extra damage, AOE. Over 6 or 7 AOE even if the tank can’t take it (unless you are trying to kill at least one before you wipe) (On a side note, if you are DPS, when you realize you are 100% sure to wipe you should go single target and try to drop at least one).

So let us get back to the basic multi pack pull chart.

The damage drops off, as I said before, because something all ways is taking more damage and dies early no matter how much you AOE.

As before what we care about is the red area.

That red shaded area below the red damage line and above the green heal line si the damage that goes onto the tanks health bar and does not come off until the fight is over (or the red drops below green for a while).

So how do we make that red area smaller? First off we can use our debuffs religiously.

Here we see the dashed line is the reduction of damage that the tank can get using whatever debuff moves his class has.

The effect of those is more or less the same as if the healer just was able to heal a little more. So lets just bump the healing bad up.

Now we are assuming you are using those debuffs… but there is still a big area to deal with.  How else can we fill it in. Here the tank drinks a potion.

Not much eh? The effect of the potion is a drop in a bucket compared to serious incoming damage. (maybe I dezagerated it a bit (of course that is a real word.. stop asking dumbquestions)

So healing pots don’t help much and we can take only one. How about popping a damage mitigation cooldown before the pull starts. Here is a bear using Barkskin.

Nice. we filled in a good big. But notice how some of the ‘virtual heals’ cause by the cool down were wasted off to the left? That is because barkskin only reduces damage as it comes in. To get the most out of it you have to be tanking damage the whole duration. What if we use a damage absorption effect instead? Here we use the Coroded Skeleton key.

This cooldown absorbs a maximum amount of damage in a given amount of time. It does not matter if we pop it early as long as we are sure to take the maximum amount of damage before the time runs out. This sort of cooldown in a very high damage situation wipes out all your incoming damage for a very short time. Much shorter than the ‘duration’ the cooldown claims to have.

As we can see from these two examples, different cooldown types have a different ‘shape’ when compared to damage and heals. It is useful to understand this because we want to get the most out of those ‘shapes’.

here we have a tank popping a large number of cooldowns early on in the fight.

Notice how the the cooldowns were wasted. All that area above the redline was wasted. That was mitigation of damage that did not actually happen.  What if instead of popping all his cooldowns at once the tank had just popped some and then waited and popped the others later.

Here we have a tank spacing cooldowns out and getting great coverage of all that red space. This tank did not take much damage at all.

To better understand overlapping cooldowns lets look closer. Here the tank will wait only a few seconds after popping one to use the second one.

This is good strategy. The tank just used some of his cooldown arsenal and then waited a few seconds to see how well they worked. The tank noticed his health bar was still going down so he popped more cooldowns. Now he could see that his health stabilized almost completely. This lasted until the first cool down wore off.  The second wore off right after that and the tank started taking heavy damage. But this tank had a cool head and saw that the packs he was fighting were more than half dead. He estimated that the amount of health he had left would last until the packs died. Hopefully he also notced that the healer had enough mana to keep going. Either way he decided to not pop more cooldowns. This is being ‘cooldown’ efficeint. To be able to do multipulls one after another you will need enough cooldowns to always have one or more for each fight. Well that is assuming your gear and healer is nto so over powered that you don’t really need cooldowns. But even in that situation it is useful to always have some in reserve.

Cooldowns are like taunts. Getting good at using them when you need to and conserving them when you don’t is part of the path to being more uber as a tank. A tank that is good with them can get get through many fights without any healing at all.

Personally have my cooldowns mapped via Bartender to the F1-F8 keys. In a pinch I can always lift my fingers off the WASD or 1-5 keys and just hammer a few more F-keys. It is not always efficient but it has saved me many times.

Before I wrap this up let me remind you that pacing is critical for a ‘gogogo’ multi pull instance run. Even if you can handle a certain pull under most situations, even if you have done it a dozen times that way, you still need to check that you have your cooldowns off cooldown and that your healer is not 3 rooms back drinking and OOM. Getting carried away is the main killer in multipulls. And remember, if you wipe it is YOUR (the tank’s) fault.

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Money Talks

… or at least gets you raid invites for GDKP.

At more or less the last minute I managed to whisper the raid leader for the guild-run but not guild exclusive GDKP yesterday afternoon. I told him “I have 30k and I still want Trauma” – Reversion and I have been on this run several times and have made good purchases. I bought Althor’s Abacus two months back, and I still love that proc. Trauma would complete the effect and give me the two pieces of loot I’ve been drooling over since I saw them. Stats are cool and all, but healing procs are sexy.

So I got an invite. Reversion didn’t, sadly, but he was very gracious about me getting to go. I was the only resto druid in the raid. I’ve never been the only tree in a 25 man before. At least I didn’t have to worry about stepping on anyone else’s toes.

The GDKP is a pretty well-oiled machine now. They do Gunship on heroic now, which was actually too bad; Ikfurus’s Sack of Wonders or however you spell that chestpiece dropped and if it had been on normal, it would have been BoE and I was going to try to buy it for Reversion.

We had one wipe in the Lower Spire. We came across the weekly quest to kill the rotting giant, and while we downed him with only a half dozen casualties, for some reason the disease didn’t go away. We all stacked up on each other, all got infected, and all died in a terrible orgy of diseases. DBM went nuts telling us all about it. Wish I’d gotten a screen shot.

I kept sneaking looks at the healing meters and was satisfingly in third place most of the time, sometimes fourth. One shaman and one pally were playing tug of war with me for the 2-3-4 ranking. I know I ruled on the overhealing meter though! Nobody can top a druid for overheals!

Festergut is disturbingly easy to heal as a resto druid in 25 man. I asked for an assignment on him – most of the fights we’d been winging it – and then healed my two assigned groups, dropped WG on melee when I could, and waited for him to drop. I like that fight a lot more on ten man. Actually I like all the fights more on ten man. Seems like the price of “epic big raid” feel is that you feel more like just one cog. Being one of two healers is totally different from being 1 of 6.

Then we were on to Rotface, who I’ve only downed a handful of times and the whole time my hands were shaking because I wanted Trauma. Still, I did my job, I didn’t die, and then when he went down I clicked to look at the loot – and there it was.

They wouldn’t auction that first, oh no. First they had to sell the stuff nobody actually wanted. Then Trauma – “2000″ I typed, only to be instantly outbid. It was up to over 10k in no time, so I decided to drop my bomb, and bid 20k. That got some comments in Vent. I explained I’d really been wanting it, didn’t really feel like a bidding war, and asked if anyone was going to try outbidding. They didn’t.  I handed over the gold – 2/3rds of all the gold that Reversion and I have between us – and got the mace.

Money talks.

Was it worth it? Well, I had been keeping a running tally in my head of what my share of the GDKP was going to be. It ended up that I got back more than 5k gold, making Trauma effectively a 15k purchase.

The stats, combined with the Shriveled Heart offhand I’ve been keeping around just for this, are actually worse than my Mag’Hari Chieftain staff off of Saurfang-10. I lose a lot of haste. On fights like Saurfang I’ll probably swap back to the staff. I’ve got to redo my gear a bit to add more haste, I might even need to spec back into CF.

But yeah, it’s worth it. First, because this is that piece of loot – the one you see in the loot table when MMO-Champion mines them and say “That’s mine”. The one that represents something – to me, demonstrated that I have gotten further into cutting edge content right now than at any other time in the game, proof that I’ve invested time and love into my primary spec.

And it works. After Rotface we went and did Putricide. My first time on 25 and I hadn’t killed him on 10. We wiped four times, none of which were remotely my fault. One accident, one person not listening, one person who apparently wiped us on purpose and then got kicked with extreme prejudice. One I don’t know. Final try was chaotic. Adds everywhere – an orange one targeted me and I flatter myself I kited it really well, staying out of ooze and letting the dps burn it down. I got hit by the goo a couple times, my fault, but I was alive when the Professor dropped and I got my achievement for the Plague Wing.

I am now at 8/12 ICC. Months behind, perhaps, but progression indeed.

Anyway after the fight I looked at Recount, at my personal healing. 90% was Rejuv, with ~3% WG (I mostly skipped it because we weren’t staying clumped up very well).  The other 7% was procs – the Abacus was about 2.5% and Trauma was 4.5%. That means a huge chunk of my healing was mana free, GCD free.  It just happened, boom. I love that! Yes, it’s random and I can’t count on it to save the person I need to save, but over a long fight those numbers do add up.

This is why I got the gold in the first place, for gear that lets me see more content on my terms. I don’t need a mammoth; I’ll take the shiny useless purple pixels with a cool proc over the shiny useless purple pixels with vendors attached.

I just wish it didn’t look so much like a feather duster when I hold it.

The funny bit came after the raid, though. Remember I said we kicked someone during Putricide? Well, he wiped us, we looked and realized he was doing less damage than the tanks with a T10 four piece and appropriate other gear, and then he stood there dancing during the first part of the next attempt. So boot. He didn’t get any gold, which was the upfront terms; if you get removed from the raid for being an incorrigable idiot, no gold. Well two hours later there he is in chat, spamming “[Guild Name] will cheat you and take your gold – they kicked me from their GDKP after 8 bosses and I lost 4-5k gold”.

The guild gets a lot of flack on the server because they server transferred in about six months ago, so some of the guild folk are really good at playing with trolls. One of them said something like “Thanks for telling everyone how good our GDKP runs are”. Another pointed out that it was boss 7, not 8 (just trying to be helpful). And more confirmed than yes, [Guild] is made up of cheats and liars and nobody should trust us.

Somehow I don’t think he was hurting our reputation as much as he thought.

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There is one in every group

Corporate Raider

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Friday night is Reversion and my’s “ICC Pug Roulette” night. Some weeks we join someone else’s pug, some weeks we build our own. Sometimes we steamroll through six bosses and look at new content, sometimes we… don’t. Last night was, well…

First problem was that none of the people we’ve pugged with recently were online and available. The few I did whisper had real life obligations. So other than one guild member’s alt, this was going to be a total pug.

I started asking in Trade. Got whispers too. One was  a DK I checked out on the Armory. When I saw he had no experience in ICC and a bunch of slots that had 200 gear, I turned him down. He kept whispering me: “Cmon, I’ll be good”, “Please please take me”. Finally I told him we were full on melee (more or less true) and he gave up. Then he started spamming Trade himself, finally including “4500 gearscore” in his message, at which point I had to tell him flat out that nobody was going to take him with that gear and he should go run the new heroics for more gear. Gearscore may be overrated, but it does tell you when someone does not know what content is appropriate to their gear.

Anyhow, we slowly build up. Get a pally tank who looks solid, says he’s good, and then adds, “I know the fights up to Marrowgar”. Reversion laughs, and then it quickly turns to “…” as we realize he’s serious. Well, everyone learns somewhere so Reversion starts whispering to him while I keep building. No healers, anywhere. Finally I take a solid shaman – we wanted one of those anyway – and an undergeared tree and we start.

Trash isn’t bad, except when I pop out to fill the tenth slow (we had someone who said they were coming and then wouldn’t) and they activated a trap and half the raid wiped. Ooops. Someone dropped after that so I grabbed two dps out of trade and we went back.

First bad sign: clearing the Deathbound Wards, the pugged tank refused to stand on Reversion (instead Reversion had to eat the whole cleave) and stood to one side, ….casting Exorcism. I called him on it. “But it automatically crits!” he says. “Don’t ever use anything with a cast time when you’re tanking!” I told him, and he meekly agreed. Reversion explains what “stack” means, why it’s important, and how to do the Marrowgar fight. The guy says he understand and we start.

It’s a disaster. Right from the start, the tank is nowhere near Reversion. Because he’s not there, a melee guy bites the dust, right off. “Stack on Reversion!” I yell as I frantically heal the Cleaves. Fortunately Reversion’s got enough health to eat them but since we don’t have a ‘real’ tank healer, I’m having to work hard to keep him up. The undergeared tree was down, leaving me and the shaman to keep people alive. Then the shaman drops – a bone spike, fire, and me working on Reversion were the end of her. But! She pops back up by the power of Reincarnate and we’re back at work. I Brez the other tree, heal her, and look away; she’s down again almost immediately, I have no idea how.

For the next eight minutes Reversion and I experience a sense of “how bad can this get… how awesome can we be” as we dodge fire, stay alive, and marvel at the Other Tank. Picture this:

Marrowgar at the door, hitting a sad lonely bear. Most of the dps and heals behind him. One mage off way to the other side, on a bone spike. And the Other Tank… standing at the bone spike… hitting it with his mace.

About five minutes in Reversion and I are talking about how we are going to kick this tank and that we’re going to intentionally wipe if it looks like we might somehow pull this off so we can be fair to whoever we get to replace him. Not that there’s much chance of this; we’re down to 6 players left alive and that means only 2 dps are up. Marrowgar’s health is going down very… very… slowly.

One of the dead guys, a hunter, say, “Well thanks for the invite guys” and drops group. I didn’t have time to say anything to him but I thought that was pretty rude behavior when we hadn’t even finished wiping, so I didn’t bother to whisper him and tell him we were getting a new tank. DPS are a dime a dozen on Friday nights.

Finally with a minute left on the enrage timer the other healer goes down, and then me, and it’s over. The Other Tank says something like “Urgh” and I kick him. Maybe it was vindictive, but we had shouted multiple times in the raid “[Tank] stack on Reversion!” “Stand on the bear!” “Get over here!”, etcetera. He had claimed to understand the strategy, had failed, and that was it. So I told the raid I was going to Dalaran and asking for “1 dps any type if you can pull 2.5k and not stand in fire, 1 tank who knows the first four fights”. In three seconds in trade I had a tank, Dwarfpally, whisper me. And then another hunter and we were off – not so fast; the undergeared tree decided to leave without a word. I sighed and picked up another dps; there were just no focus healers to be had and we really didn’t need another raid healer.Ms. Shaman Healer and I would just have to work it out.

Marrowgar went down so fast it wasn’t funny. Nobody died. Bone spikes were nuked down. People stood in the right place. This tank actually got in Vent, discussed strategies with Reversion, and knew what he was doing. The other healer was awesome and I told her so.  We moved on, cleared out Deathwhisper’s adds, and started on her.

Well, the mage starts whispering me during the trash “What time is it?”

“8:30″, I whisper back, puzzled over what he means.

“Lol thanks watch broke. AM?”

“Um, pm,” I reply. I have no idea what he’s on about. Surely you can tell the difference between AM and PM? Even if he was from some different time zone, why would he ask me?

I’m pretty sure that this was related to why, thirty seconds into the pull, he dc’d.

So we’re 9-manning it. Goes well until someone doesn’t listen when we shout (vent and raid) “STOP DPS” because we don’t want Deathwhisper down while there are adds up… and it happens anyway. The other healer gets cursed, I was too slow to dispell it, and we wipe.

I kick the dc’d mage and we get a friend who had just come online to come. Deathwhisper goes down this time. Head for lootship, no comment on that fight. Is there ever? Except Reversion mistimed his last jump and went down with the ship. Heh.

And now we faced Saurfang, Destroyer of Pugs. I don’t even know where to start. Punchline first; he didn’t die. Not the first time, not the eighth time. One attempt, we had 5 blood beasts running around. I didn’t know that was possible. Once I look over and see the shaman healing herself as a blood beast hits her. “KITE IT!” I yell. She didn’t know that you had to not get hit; she said every time she’d done this fight, the dps killed them before they got to her.

It was largely an issue of dps not burning down and controlling adds, with a side of not enough heals. A shaman and a druid just have trouble keeping up two tanks plus one or more marks during that fight. I was constantly kiting adds around and mis-timing heals. I know I contributed to the fails but am convinced it was largely a dps coordination issue.

It ended up being a frustrating end to the night. I’m still optimistic about once a week pugged raids, though. The more people we pug with, the more I have stored in friends to ask. One of these days the buff will go up again and we’ll get farther. These days we can usually get past Saurfang.

Anyway from now on I will be advertising:

“LFM ICC10 need tank who knows what ‘stack’ means”. I didn’t think it was that hard…

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Worpress ate a big chunk of my Multi-pulls Part 2 post I have to spend time rebuilding that. In the mean time here is a post that has been sitting in draft for a while….

It can be really hard when you’re healing a pugged tank to figure out what he’s doing. Why exactly does he run up to some groups, while ducking around corners for others? Why does the fight get moved around halfway through? And why didn’t he see those mobs that ate me?

Assuming the tank is doing things for a good reason (not always a safe assumption), you can guess what he’s thinking by what he’s doing. Keeping one step ahead of the tank is the key to keeping him alive. Ever been getting a heal off on a tank who’s at the edge of your range, only to have him charge a mob and go out of range just as the heal would have landed? Annoying, but as a healer we need to know to move forward so that the farthest off mobs are still in our healing range.

Here’s a diagram representing the area the tank can see. He can see lots in front of him, and a little behind him depending on how scrolled in his camera view is.

Most fights, the melee dps will be right up next to the tank. He can see what they’re doing, no problem. Instinctively, the ranged dps and healer will be behind him, closer to where the previous fight is. Most pulls go like this: Tank runs in, starts fight, melee run in, ranged and healer move as close as they need to to get their spells off, things die, healer and ranged move in to loot, tank goes ahead again. It’s sort of a slow motion leapfrog.

Here we have added a circle showing the tank’s AOE threat area. Any mobs standing in this will be getting some damage and threat from the tank, whether or not he specifically targets them. How much depends on how much aoe damage and threat he does; lots from a paladin tank, less from warriors and bears. But see how the healer is standing well away from that aoe threat area?

Oops, here comes a pat – it sees you standing back there waving your branches and decides you look tasty. What to do?

Option 1: run away. But this puts distance between you and the tank. It’s his job to get the adds off you, but taking them away from him makes this harder. He might not have time before you’re dead, or he might not even notice.

On the other hand, if you run IN to where the fight is, as soon as the adds get to the tank’s AOE threat area, they’ll start getting aggro from the tank instead of you. The tank may still need to taunt them, but it makes things a lot easier for him.

This goes for when you’re dpsing too; mages have a really bad tendency to run away, take mobs with them, and then frost nova and blink out. Usually leaving the mobs next to someone else who doesn’t really want them either. Instead, run to the tank. Frost nova them there and everyone’s happy!

Line of Sight Pulls are really popular for bears especially since they don’t have a ranged silence. Pay attention if your tank is trying one!

Why is he hiding behind the corner here?

What does LOS mean exactly?

Come on, he’s trying to get you to cooperate here… what more do you need?

Oops. Well… maybe the paladin will rez you after this fight…

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Edge toward the door

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Only made four levels on the noobs yesterday, even with triple XP. I thought I’d take a post and explain a few points about Recruit-a-Friend leveling with regards to established paired players, but first, our story:

Over lunch we made two levels in Darkshire killing some skeletons. Reversion works really close to the house so we can get forty minutes of playtime in if I’ve got lunch ready to go when he gets home. Usually we run an instance; right now, it’s easy to get a level or two on our RAF noobies. Run around, nom some food, ding. It’s that easy.

About four o’clock in the afternoon the power went out for a second. It does that around here kind of a lot. One of the many reasons that the power company may be my most despised utility. They have to beat out the internet provider and that’s a daily competition. Whose commercials do I hear more on the radio that day? Do I have to call up and yell at the internet guys that no, we don’t have cable tv, we don’t want cable tv, I don’t care if it’s only $5 more, go away and die. Or… do we get stupid unexplained power outages.

I get up, check all the parts of our network, turn my computer back on (I know, I need a UPS. Bleah) and wait… there’s a blinking yellow light on the new Airport Express that runs the gaming rigs’ half of the network. Ugh. I find the tool I want on Reversion’s Mac (we’re a mixed marriage; Catholic Mac fan to Presbyterian Windows user) and try restoring settings. It doesn’t work, I decide I’ll leave it and just play with the Nomster. She’s cuter anyway.

Reversion gets home, we set the network back up. He logs into WoW as I try to figure out why my machine isn’t getting a connection. I plug some  cables back into the switch. The network goes down.

We spend the next hour or more trying to figure out why, now, we can’t see the devices we could see before. Finally in the midst of brainstorming, Reversion looks at the switch… where I’ve plugged both ends of one cable in. Making a loop. This is a Bad Thing. I know it’s a Bad Thing. I have a masters degree in Computer Science. In grad school, I was a systems admin for our department. Go ahead, point and laugh.

Evening’s pretty much shot but we log on for 45 minutes, get two levels, pick up some flight points, and chat a little with folks that are on in SAN. It’s really cool saying Hi to people you know from blogs. Way more fun leveling up over there.

Anyway. The actual content of this post is about RaF leveling in pairs. First, a warning. Please don’t get your girlfriend an RaF account and nag her into playing WoW with you. Leveling goes too darn fast. She’s likely to end up with a level 60 character she has no idea how to play, a whirlwind trip across half of Azeroth, and a bad taste in her mouth. Honestly the best approach there is to let her develop an interest in the game and then use RaF to power level a character she wants to play, if you’re determined to use RaF at all.

Ok, that out of the way, RaF is great for pairs who play together and want to power level some alts. Decide who gets the new account and who is the ‘veteran’ player. The Veteran will get the loot (sweet rocket ride) so you may have to do this twice to make sure nobody gets left out ;-) Anyway the Veteran emails an invitation to the other member of the pair, who clicks the link in the email to create a linked account.

You can have this linked account on the same Battle.net account as your real WoW account. You just have to be on a separate Battle.net account from the Veteran account.

Now, this new account is a trial account. It can’t level past 20, or trade, or join a guild, or whisper people, or invite to groups. Thank your friendly neighborhood gold sellers for this one. If you are doing this to get the mount, what you do next is buy two game time cards or time card codes – these you can buy from Blizzard’s online store – activate your account as a real account, and apply the time cards. Now you have an active account with three months of playtime on it. When you add the first month of playtime, the Veteran account receives one month free playtime. When you add the second month, the Veteran gets the rocket mount.

The rocket can only go to one character on the Veteran account. You select which from the RaF website showing what rewards you’ve received, and the character gets the rocket in in-game mail.

A note about upgrading from a trial account to a real one: the leveling restriction is removed right away but the other restrictions may take a while. I upgraded mine around noon Saturday and did not get an email saying that the upgrade was complete until late Sunday. Meanwhile, I’d dinged 25 and was seriously hurting for cash.

Thanks to triple XP leveling speed, you need to train all the darn time and you have to do so little questing, you just don’t have money.  For this reason you might want to make the new characters on a server where you have friends or other characters who can loan you cash. Don’t bother taking gather skills and trying to mine your way to gold; you level way too fast for that. Fortunately we had a hundred gold or so on Argent Dawn already thanks to our previous time in SAN.

More RAF details: you have to be grouped together to get the bonus XP, and fairly close . Watch carefully, you don’t want to miss any of that precious precious XP! Pick up the “Kill Ten X” quests and not so much the “Bring me 18 tongues” quests. Takes too long. Plan ahead and pick up quests for instances, then run the instance and do all the quests. You’ll probably only go once before it’s not worth it for XP.  We did Stockades with the full set of 6 quests. By the time we could even get the Wetlands quest, some of them were green. Between running Stocks and turning in, we got four levels.

Strategize: once per hour each of you can summon the other to where you are. Set your hearthstones in different locations and use it as a quick travel method. (One at the trainer, one at the quest hub works nicely). Train every fourth level, or you’ll be running back to the trainer all the time. And look for quests that reward gear…

The newbie character can grant levels to a character on the veteran account, one level per every two that the newbie has. So if the newbie runs a character up to 60, he can grant 30 levels to a veteran character. To do this you have to be in the same location so it’s same server only.

You also gain a little more reputation than otherwise, I think it’s 10% extra. Just FYI.

So why would you want to do this? There’s the mount, of course. There’s having some level 60 characters fast – nice for figuring out if you actually like a playstyle, since many characters don’t really handle like they will at endgame until at least 40 if not 60. If you want a stable of alts on another server, this works well.

Cost: $20 for the new account plus $30 game time if you’re doing the two months = $50. If you’re paying for the veteran account from the same budget, subtract the $15 of free time the veteran receives = $35.  Any characters you transfer off of the newbie account are $25. I’ll probably just abandon mine  and we’ll RaF again so I can get a mount and permanent characters.

So far: our characters are level 34 and our /played time is something like 16 hours, and that includes leaving WoW logged in and walking away.

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Stockades are Srs Bznz

As Reversion mentioned yesterday, we are Refer-a-Friend levelling again. I’ve got a warlock and he’s got a mage. Never got a lock past 30 – they just combine all the things I don’t like about hunters with the survivability of a mage and then go emo to boot – but I figure I might like it at higher levels so why not see on a totally disposable character?

Anyway, we picked up all the Stockades quests and as the first one was going green, queued for Stocks. Fifteen minute queue times are not my norm  but signing up without a tank or healer, you take what you can get.

The tank starts pulling pretty much the instant we get there. I frantically start trying to share quests – manage to get the first one shared just before we killed the guy it was for, so yay. I notice the bear tank is avoiding most of the rooms on either side. He heads down the hall, then turns right and clears that way. He stops in every door, looks in. If there’s a chest in the room, he charges in, clears the room, and takes the loot. Yeah, ok, so the greens get rolled on but not the white items and at this level every little bit of money helps.

We steamroll through, me being torn between life tapping and annoying the healer. I hate life tapping locks… and now I am one. It’s that or use my wand. Which I did, sometimes. The tank sure isn’t letting us drink.

All this time, the tank has not said one word. The other puggers said “thanks” when I shared quests or “chest” if they saw one – it didn’t matter, the tank had already seen it and opened it – or “pat”. The tank? Not so much.

We went and killed the end boss and got the “Dungeon Complete!” mark as I hurriedly looked for quests I hadn’t yet shared… ah there it was, the one of the guy at the end of the other corridor. I shared it, said “He’s down the other hall” and wonder of wonders, the tank accepted my quests and charged down.

I looked at my other quests. I was very short on the “Collect 10 Bandanas” and we weren’t getting enough Convicts and Prisoners for Quell the Uprising. I told Reversion and he started pulling extra mobs out of other rooms, running them to the tank and frost novaing them in place. The tank says nothing to this. I ask in chat if we can get more of them for my quest. Nothing.

We kill the named guy, loot his head. The Stockades has more “Bring back his head/hand/whatever so I know he’s dead” quests than anywhere else in the game, I think. I’m sure my bags were dripping gore… let’s not ask about where I was keeping my Conjured Rye bread. Anyway, the tank drops, followed by the healer and the other dps. Reversion and I sigh. I pulled out the voidwalker and we assessed what we still needed; 1 convict, 4 prisoners, and 7 bandanas between us.

We went back along and found rooms that had only a couple guys left in them and played it real safe. Reversion would sheep pull, or aggro using a small damage spell. I’d set my voidwalker on whoever came out of the room, we burned them down, used Frost Nova to keep them from running, and ate between every fight. Fortunately we were level 28 and they were mostly 23 and 24; if they’d been our level it would have been a lot harder, but we downed them and Rev got all his bandanas. I was short three so we kept it up. Only came close to death once, in a room with three guys and very stubborn sheep.

Job done, we left the instance and started turning in. Dinged twice just turning in quests. Triple XP is awesome. Of course our gear is getting really ridiculously bad, we’re on a server where we don’t have any high level alts to bankroll us and you can’t really level gathering skills using RAF since you skip out of zones so darn fast. Oh well. We’ve got training money and our mounts anyway.

PS – these alts are in SAN on Argent Dawn, Profusion the Mage and Invariant the Warlock.

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Slowing him down

Corporate Raider

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