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SAN Weekend Raiding Update

We were hoping to raid with SAN Saturday afternoon, but we had issues getting people to fill slots, a narrow time window- basically, it wasn’t going to work so we agreed to try again Sunday. Later that evening, Reversion and I signed back on to try to recruit guildies to go visit UBRS and BWL for some classic WoW fun times. We got a great turnout!

Me – Divergent – as the paladin tank
Rev – on Consolidate with leet druid heals
HairyGiblets - the hunter
Daruma and Rogerstring - our shamans
Missholloway - an almost-level-appropriate paladin
Delwyn the Rogue – level 72 at the time I think
Invariant - my 58 warlock on the RAF account, along to give soulstones and that’s about it.

We wandered into Blackrock Spire and headed for the Upper part, slaying all who stood in our way. First notable accomplishment: the whelp room! We turned off Retribution Aura, made the shamans wait to throw totems, I ran around clicking eggs like crazy then we AOE’d and boom, filled Guild chat with achievement spam. Lots of Jenkins titles that night!

We finished tearing along through UBRS and found the BWL entrance. I zoned in, then back out since I wanted us to get the UBRS achievement and we hadn’t yet. Tip: zoning out of BWL and back in sets you at the entrance to BRS and you have to run all the way back…

Anyway, we killed the end boss for UBRS and proceeded into Blackwing Lair. None of us had been here before and we weren’t sure what to expect. We figured out we needed to mind control and have the big dragon kill eggs, but wiped twice trying to get the hang of it. Finally we realized that you really just need to ignore the adds because if you kill them they keep spawning. So I worked my butt off to aggro all the adds, Consolidate healed me, the boss, the raid, whoever, and the guildies took turns mind controlling the boss. They did great, I avoided killing the boss when he wasn’t mind controlled (I think I did that one of our wipes) and with a great sense of accomplishment, he went down.

You don’t have to take my word for it either! Hairygiblets videoed our fight and linked it on his blog: here

Oh, another tip: Our first wipe, we didn’t have to run back because Daruma Reincarnated. Our second wipe, we all died, and Consolidate volunteered to run back. Unfortunately, ALL the trash in UBRS had respawned and he and Hairygiblets had to fight their way back in. It seems like there’s a really short respawn timer. Actually the bosses and stuff were back too. I’m not sure what was going on there.

Having passed the first test, we were ready to see more. So we poked our heads into the next room and found a corrupted red dragon who needed to be put out of his misery. He has an annoying mechanic though; he puts a dot on someone, and after a couple seconds, they die from it. No ifs, ands, or buts. Every third dot goes to a tank… so we had a really limited window to get him down, and we didn’t. Got him about halfway. Unfortunately it was quite late so we called it. Next time we’ll bring more bodies as dot-soaking-targets.

A very fun little evening, though!

Sunday afternoon as promised, guild members signed on. We ended up with only five of us; Divergent, Consolidate, Hairygiblets, Datq the resto shaman and Daruma, so we picked up puggers and went to ICC, with me healing and Consolidate tanking this time.

Hairy got some video from this too.

To summarize, we made trash die, we one-shotted the first three bosses, we went to Saurfang, has blood beast issues like you’d expect with multiple first time people (some of the puggers were new too I think) and then a top dps’er ragequit, and some of us were running out of time so we called it.

Again, this raiding with SAN is a lot of fun and anyone who has a spare 80 or is looking for somewhere to role an alt could do worse than joining a blogger guild. Guild chat is never dull!

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The other half of dual boxing…

This post is the flip side of Analogue’s post.

As she said we have been doing RAF. We started things off a month or so back with her doing the ‘new’ and disposable account and power-leveling alts for me. The plan had been to pair that way and then when I had a few up near 58 or so we would swap roles and power level a bunch of alts for her with a different disposable RAF account. This worked well for a while but we finally thought hey, why not just multi-box and do it all at once.

Multi boxing

As many of you know people use this term for one player running several characters. Most people seem to do this with one computer and various mods and macros to synchronize their characters. I personally prefer using multiple computers. I have had a multi computer desk setup for a long time… er… probably 12 or 14 years. Some time in an old game called ShadowBane I started regularly running two accounts. In that game aggro was just a ‘whoever hit it first’ thing so it was super easy to have a meat shield and a healer/nuker. I just put the meat shield on a pack of mobs and then played the other computer until the fight was over. It was easy, effective, and fun.

Later I did a lot of multi accounting on EVE online. In that game, if you have things set right you can be pretty effective with a pair. There were no mods to help but there are various ways to have one ship follow another of fly in formation. Also if I was doing asteroid mining running two machines made a boring task into something slightly less boring and twice as profitable.

With my setups I always use dual keyboards and mice. I never tried a KVM and can’t see how it could possibly help. Nothing beats being able to have one hand on each set of hot keys. Having to flip a switch would suck.

The center piece of a multi computer setup is the desk. I have this sweet one I found at a used office furniture place many years back. It has two halves, front and back. Each is about 1 foot deep and each is independently height adjustable. The whole thing is about 5 feet long. So there is room for a row of monitors in the back and a row of key boards in the front. I added an extra keyboard try on the upper deck so I can pull it out when I am using a third keyboard. Right now my main machine is a mac laptop. I have that mounted on a movable sing arm clamped to the desk’s upper deck. It’s monitor is directly in front of me and the laptop on the arm is off to the right. My second machine is one of our older gaming rigs, mostly build out of a machine Analogue had before we were married. Its monitor is on the left. Its keyboard is on that side too and the main keyboard is in front of me.

I have both mice on the right side of the keyboards. The left computer’s mouse is ‘above’ the other (i.e. slightly farther toward the back of the desk) This means if I am switching my attention to the left side machine I simply turn my head left while moving my left hand left and my right hand ‘up’ and left. Now I am on the other mouse and keyboard. For this multi boxing I actually have a USB gaming keypad between the keyboards so it is a short move from WASD on the main keyboard to the pad just to the left of it. And it is a similarly short distance to hop between the mice. This makes switching back and forth far faster and more intuitive than having to flip some KVM would be. I don’t have to check what a switch is set for, I know based on where my hands are.

WOW dual boxing, my style

I have dual boxed wow a fair bit before. Mostly on lowby characters. It was not all that easy or fun. It was not BAD, but it just was not as fun as playing only one. For one thing your efficiency goes down. So you can either be playing one character and only using the other to loot quest stuff, or you are trying to use two and not being 100% effective with either. This can be annoying. Looting on an offside is triple annoying. So this sucked enough fun away to make me not do it often.

RAF provides the opportunity to fix some of that. For one thing old world leveling is so nerfed that you can be effective even if you are not 100% focused on one character. With RAF the triple makes things SO fast that it is worth it to have an efficiency decrease in your play. The blinding leveling speed adds a ‘sweet!’ element that offsets the annoyance of swapping back and forth. Also the leveling bonus means you can skip most gather quests and avoid a lot of the headache of looting on your offside account.

My goal when we started this most recent dual boxing experiment was to do everything I could to make it simple and fun. More simple and more fun than my previous WOW dual boxing. I use two ways to go about this. One was selecting characters I was very familiar with. This gives me the edge of not having to learn my class at the same time. It works because SAN is on a new server to us and I don’t have a max level hunter there. Plus I had not leveled a hunter in a while. Ages ago I did several of them and the leveling got stale. Now it is all fresh but still familiar.

Let me tell you, for dual boxing hunters are a GREAT choice. Between auto shot and a good dps pet they can do 50-70 percent of their max damage potential just by pressing one key. In retrospect this would have been great for an offside character. The next pair we make I will make an offside hunter. With this pair I had my hunter decked out in the full set of heirlooms, chest, shoulders, trinkets, 2h axe and bow, everything except the ring. This gave me insane damage. Through the whole session the hunter was consistently 65+ percent of our damage for the whole party of 4. I wanted an nice AOE debuff pet so the first thing we did when I hit 10 was have Analogue’s max lvl pally run me to Northrend for a nice hawk (vultures are ugly). (There are level 7 hawks hanging out near Utgarde Keep, the lowest level hawks in the game.)

That covers my main account/computer but what about the offside? Druid ended up being an ok but not super choice. With Analogue healing on both of hers the healing aspects of the druid were not used. However, the druid’s durability compared to other caster classes was nice. I tried two different ways of setting it up first I will cover the one I liked best.

Offside Character Control

First off I used a follow macro like Analogue explained in her post. Super handy, fast, one button and the character is on follow. No targeting and right clicking. The auto targeting is what made that macro great and made it better than our older dual boxing experience.

First way

Of course I did not stop there. Next up I made some nice attack macros. This are the ones I use more than anything else and I LOVED how effective they were. Here it is.

/cast [target=focustarget] wrath

That is it. “target=focustarget” means the spell will be fired at whatever my ‘focus’ has selected. So the first thing I do when logging in and partying up is to set my druid’s focus on my hunter. Now, with that macro, my hunter has full control over who my druid targets and I never have to select targets manually on the other computer. That saves a lot of clicking and means I almost never need to touch the ‘offside’ mouse. I made a macro like that for Starfire, Wrath and, Moonfire. I made them the 1, 2, and 3 keys respectively. So now all I had to do, was target something on my hunter and then pick the 1,2, or 3 depending on how long I wanted the cast time to be.

Setting up a pull was easy. I targeted with the hunter, pressed ‘1’ on the offside keypad to start a nice long Starfire cast and then went to the hunter and selected pet attack (macroed to my #1 using “/petattack”). Then I waited a heartbeat or two (Starfire is a looong cast) and then pressed arcane shot or multishot, depending on the situation. WHAM! That target took a ton of damage. If I wanted to hit it hard some more I just pressed any of the 1-3 on the druid while hitting arcane shot or multi shot again (Mostly alternating them. They both hit hard even on single targets). Doing attacks this way meant that by threat was spread out over two characters so often my bird was able to hold agro even though the target had just had most of its HP blown away. Also it meant even if the pet did not hold agro most targets were dead before they even reached me(us).

In heavier combat it was easy to tab target on my hunter and then start a new attack on the druid, just one button press on the offside. With the hunter in full control of the targeting I was able to get a lot out of the offside account with minimal button pressing. Because I was in command of 3/4 of our TOTAL party damage meant that no marks or anything were needed. Whoever the hunter was targeting was automatically the primary target and it died rather fast. This made fights easy and fast. Being short a player (party of 4) did not hurt us in part because of tightly focused damage dealing.

I also made some macros that auto targeted my focus target for some healing. One button press to hit the focus target for some rejuv or healing touch. I found once things got into heavy fighting I did not bother with that. I let Analogue handle healing while I kept up the focused damage. Sometimes I did use my offside druid’s Vudo setup. That was as easy as grabbing that mouse and right clicking a few frames to spread damage around.

The trickiest thing was positioning. The druid was on follow on the hunter. So if we got over run with mobs she was not always facing the target. One way we dealt with that was for Analogue’s pair to move to the front of the pack as the fight started and throw some tanking moves. This kept things in front of the druid. The other problem there was that the hunter could not back up to get into minimum arrow range. That would face the druid away from the fight. Fortunately with the 2 hand heirloom axe Raptor Strike does a pile of damage. Between that and the ability of the druid to keep nuking without the fuss of maneuvering two characters, I did a lot of melee huntering.

For boss fights and a few others I would move the druid off ‘follow’ and pre position it somewhere. I would pick a spot with her back to a wall and a good 180 degree view of the battle. This way the hunter could do all the running, jumping, weaving, and shooting she wanted to do and the druid still had sight of her target. Any time I hit the offside keys the druid would deliver its nature-y destruction on target. :D

Second way

I also made some macros just for targeting various targets, the only three needed were the focus (partner), the target of focus, and self (/cleartarget). I found that I actually did not use them for the druid. What I did use them for was a short session where I was controlling both of another RAF pair we have. Using those three target macros, bound to some handy keys (F10, F11, F12) I was able to use all the ability bars that character had already set up for single account play. Those three macros and the previously mentioned follow macro were all it took to make an offside computer account, previously set up for one player use into a decent ‘offside’ character. This assumes a properly setup hot button bar (1-10) and easy access to the other keyboard (or a USB pad with 1-10 and F10-F12).

So those were the two distinct ways I have been messing with to control my dual setup. When the druid gets more abilities I might change things around. I need to find a fast and effective way to target Hurricane and Volley at the same time. I also need to respec the druid to full balance. I also plan to mess with using the hunter as the ‘offside’. On our next pair I am sure to use a hunter offside but I am still trying to decide what the ‘main’ will be. Since the main is the ‘keeper’ character I have to decide what I want to have leveled as well as what will work well in this sort of pairing.

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We’ve been using Recruit a Friend to level up some alts on Argent Dawn where SAN lives, but the obvious flaw with this scheme was that Reversion was about to get multiple level 60s characters and I wouldn’t have any once the RAF account lapsed. So we did the obvious thing and linked an RAF account to my main account for him to play, making four active accounts for us for a while (Analogue main, Analogue RAF, Reversion main, Reversion RAF)

And obviously once you’ve got four accounts that can level at triple XP speeds, what do you do? Run all four at once, of course! So Reversion created a hunter (main) and a druid (RAF), while I created a shaman (main) and a paladin (RAF). Rev has two computers setup on his desk so he has one account on each; my offside machine is having video card issues so I hooked up a second monitor to my machine and ran two WOW instances in windowed mode.

Reversion is planning to discuss some of his strategies for getting the most out of his setup; he uses a lot of macros and interesting techniques. Mine are a bit less complicated and less effective, since I only have one mouse and keyboard to control things and I have to switch which WOW is the active one in order to do things on that character.

Some general things we’ve learned: We set up with me controlling both my accounts and Rev doing both of his, which works ok except we’re constantly having to check to make sure the other halves of our RAF pairs are close enough for XP. If we do another quartet like this we might have to swap accounts around.

Our mains have heirlooms for an additional 20% XP gain and some really hard hits. We have to work to keep the other characters close to the same level. Usually, we just pick some drop quest to only do on the lower characters and haul them back to level.

The hunter is doing most of the damage. With the heirloom chest, shoulders, bow, and sword, things just drop dead. If we’re out questing I run with the shaman and nuke things with lightning bolts and save the paladin for healing when things get sticky. Going to talk about our adventures in Deadmines in a bit and how that was different.

The key for me being able to do this successfully is Vuhdo, that queen of mods that I’ve rhapsodized in the past. Both the paladin and the shaman start out with one long slow heal; I mapped that in Vuhdo to right click. Later they gain a short heal and a dispel; I’ve set the short heal to the right side button and the dispel to the mouse wheel scroll up action. All I have to do is move my mouse to the correct Vuhdo setup and click. At worst I have to click twice, if I am trying to do something in the copy of WoW that was not active, the first click activates it and the second does what I want.

We quested in Teldrassil, then moved to Westfall where the killing is good and the quests are plentiful. Seems there was a plague of red-bandana’d Defias. And some gnolls. There were a lot less of both after we steamrolled across the zone, a multi-boxing killing machine of death. (Wait, killing machine of death? You’re getting carried away there…)

In ordinary questing, I pretty much ignored the paladin except to keep up buffs, loot quest items, and throw some heals. The one macro I did write on both accounts that was key was a follow macro:

/tar CharacterName
/follow

A neat trick for this macro is you can do as many /tar lines as you want. So if you’re doing multiple sets of RAF pairings, write one account-wide macro that looks like this:

/tar Character1
/tar Character2
/tar Character3
/follow

and you don’t have to keep recreating it. The downside is, if you have more than one of these characters in your party it will end up targeting the last one on the list, even if that character is not there, or offline, so plan things out carefully.

Anyway the ordinary questing went well. Reversion’s hunter did most of our killing, my shaman helped and my paladin threw around heals. Since I was mostly using lightning bolts on my shaman, I could set a lightning bolt casting, switch to the shaman, start a heal, switch back and do lightning, switch back and do heals… it worked really well.

We did all the quest chains leading up to Deadmines and dinged 20 on all our characters. I took my shaman to get her water totem, and then we went and manually found the entrance to Deadmines (how weird is that!) and decided to see how well we could do. We were a higher level than the instance, so we thought we had a pretty good chance.

I started pretty much the same way I’d done the questing, with the paladin basically just on follow. Then we got to the first boss, the ogre dude, and I figured what the heck, it’s easy to grab aggro with a paladin, so I turned on Righteous Fury, taunted, and let the paladin tank while I healed and threw lightning with the shaman. It worked really well. The guy dropped and we didn’t.

After that I worked harder to use the pair. Most fights didn’t last long enough, but when a patrol came by I’d grab aggro with the paladin, start healing with the shaman, and drop some fire novas when I could. Reversion shot things and Moonfired on his druid and we were just steamrolling through the place.

It helped a lot that we were higher level, that we knew the place well, and that we knew our classes and roles well. Reversion’s original main is a hunter and that class is like a well worn pair of shoes for him. I have a paladin tank and I set this paladin’s abilities in the same spot as that tank’s. I’ve never done a shaman past about 25, but I do know how to heal and I’d already set up Vuhdo to let me do what I needed; tanking and healing at the same time was not too hard.

The worst times we had were with patrols coming up behind us – they do that a lot in Deadmines. It would take a while to grab aggro, and peoples’ health would get pretty low. But we got to the boat with no wipes!

We took down Mr. Smite easy – Reversion’s hunter hits like a ton of bricks and he took out the adds fast so we didn’t have any trouble getting through the stuns. Then we carefully cleared onto the boat. Being higher level here really helped. It is tricky at the best of times not aggroing half that boat down from above, and when you’re maneuvering multiple characters at once it gets hard.

We took down Captain Greenskin with only minimal “ack we’re going to die heal heal grab aggro ack DIE!” angst – nobody actually died – and then set up for Van Cleef himself. I set my totems, switched to the paladin, pulled, consecrated, switched to the shaman and healed, switched back to pick up more adds, back again to heal – and then the “Achievement Complete!” box popped up, we finished taking down the adds, and victory!

Of course after this screenshot we jumped down and killed Cookie. I stole his rolling pin, hah!

And we were done! Turned in quests, and logged out for the night. Whew!

It was a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to seeing what else we can pull off with a quartet like this. Might be slower than with actual other players, but on the other hand we don’t have to deal with idiots…

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Raiding with SAN

SAN was supposed to go to Ulduar Saturday afternoon, but we couldn’t find another tank or some dps (only seven SAN folks were able to attend) so we decided to do the weekly, Marrowgar. From SAN, we had:

Me, Divergent, as a holy paladin
Reversion as Consolidate, a feral druid
Harrygiblets the hunter
Enyss the Resto druid
Shifthappens the Resto druid
Edamaxim the DK
and (I think) Norinka the Boomkin

We pugged in another tank, a shaman, and a mage and set off to ICC to clear trash. Whee! Some folks had never been in there, but the SAN folks were all on vent and we had a good time clearing – until Enyss dc’d. We still had trash to clear so we kept going. Then she came back in Vent and told us her internet was dead (she was using dialup for Vent) with no sign of coming back, so we sadly decided to replace her. We decided to go with two healers and the pug tank brought in a hunter friend of hers.

We had some fun with giants and traps and wiped once – heh – but got all ready at Marrowgar. Gave the briefing and went ahead.

Well the bonespikes just didn’t get attacked, people didn’t stack back up after bonestorms, and we wiped. We had at least three people who were new to the fight so I wasn’t surprised. I told people to stack on the tree – Shifthappens was doing a really good job getting back into position and it’s very easy to spot the tree and stand on him. (Note to Blizzard: please let us keep trees around in Cataclysm…)

I glanced at Recount so I could remind people to switch to Bonespikes and I got a surprise: neither pugged DPS had attacked the bonespikes at all. A mage and an elemental shaman, I couldn’t think of any excuse for that since they’d agreed that they understood what they needed to do. Even the new SAN people who hadn’t seen this fight had some damage to the spikes! I called them out specifically and reminded them to switch to spikes and to avoid fire; they agreed.

We went again. THIS time, the spikes died. (Harry had been trying a /tar bonespike macro that hadn’t worked before; this time he switched manually. I don’t know if anyone else had the same problem but the change was obvious). People stacked back up after fires. It wasn’t a fast kill, but slowly Marrowgar’s hit points dropped until at last he was dead.

We were victorious! Loot got handed out and while the SAN folks were eager to continue, the puggers dropped and we couldn’t progress.

I checked combat logs after the fight and guess what? All the SAN folks, even the new ones, had killed Bonespikes like they were supposed to. That mage and shaman? Nope. The mage not at all, the shaman had a little damage against the spikes but not much. Yes they were high on overall dps but they hadn’t bothered doing what they needed to do. Sigh.

So anyway SAN raid group needs more people! We’ve got a really good spread of healers; what we need is another good tank and some solid dps. Ranged or melee. We’d like to do more. Daruma the shaman is about to ding 80 and be ready to raid with us; with just a few more folks we can start working in ICC. If a blogger guild raid sounds like fun, it is! So if you’ve got a spare character lying around, transfer it over to Argent Dawn US Alliance side… or level one up. Plenty of folks around to help you gear up and get ready.

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A New Project!

So last night we saw a group was forming to run Nax on Single Abstract Noun(Argent Dawn US). So my wife and I decided to take our spare tank and healer and server transfer them. So now we have a heal/tank and tank/heal pair on Argent Dawn –US in SAN with ICC viable gear for all those roles.

So we had the idea of a new project. We have been thinking about what we might want to do in Cata and even between now and Cata. We are getting fair results with PUGing ICC groups and getting into occasional guild alt runs but it feels like we need a smidge more… SOMETHING to get a push to downing Arthas. All we really need is a better pool of raiders to draw from then what we have been getting semi randomly.

 Basically our idea is to form a 10 man group inside SAN and to court enough 80s, either from internal leveling up or from getting MEMBERS (not strangers) to server transfer, and then to make those into a viable raid group.

We are not trying to ‘run’, ‘take over’ or in any way control the guild. This is a voluntary end game raid team pulling primarily from SAN members and open to any SAN. We will pug the rest of the slots as needed. We are going to be a subset of the guild, not setting any directions or agenda on the guild as a whole. If this project interferes at all in the atmosphere of ‘fun’ of the guild as a whole we will nix it and move on to some other project.

 We plan for it to be a viable group so while we are laid back and not picky we will be doing what we can to build the team up and advise people as needed to have viable dps/tanking/healing and to do their part.

We will not tolerate dead weight (in the long term) but will do everything in our power in a friendly constructive way to make anyone that wants to come into ‘non-deadweight’ including (within reason) gear runs and pointing people at class and fight resources. I think anyone can be built up into a viable raider. But raiding is not for everyone. This means no GS requirement and no experience requirement but come ready to learn and willing to work to gear up if you are short on gear or knowledge.

So come as you are and be ready to learn the fights, gear up, and do well.

 This is SAN so we are not going to bother with complicated rules unless a need for a stated policy pops up.

 We are targeting to raid 1-2 nights a week. That would get us into LK with only minimal raid lockout extensions. We might start by doing one ICC run and one ‘old raid’ run.

 Chances are 100% that there are SAN with far more raiding experience than myself of my wife. So we will be drawing on the knowledge and leadership of anyone willing to come and help. I am personally 10/12 in ICC 10 mans (I forget where on 25). We also have a lot of practice putting together PUGS of ICC and dragging them as far as we can.

 Because SAN is still short on geared 80s we will probably start with some more runs like the NAX run last night. Plus since our alts are also under geared we will have a strong early focus on gearing up.

 We are planning to start with 10 man but might run some 25 if there is interest. Also SAN seems to be heavy on tanking and healing so keep in mind you might be need a DPS off spec or alt (Analogue and I plan to have some DPS alts for the project).

 We are not concerned about perfect class balance or any other srsbzn. All we want is a desire to see new content. All we need is the willingness to work a little to get there.

 Currently we are targeting Friday night to get started by 8 server (EST). If there is interest in another time or day we will be open to it.

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This weekend I set out to do something new: heal as a paladin. I ended up doing two new things, one of which was my intended goal and the other…

Well, so there I was, logged in on Divergent the paladin. I changed her off spec to Holy a week or so back and I’d been collecting random drops for that set for a while now, so I went to the auction house and started looking to fill in holes. Found a bunch of random blues that would be “good enough” for me to get my feet wet. Couldn’t find a weapon or trinkets, so I started researching easily attained versions of both.

At the same time I’m keeping my eye on trade with the vague idea of tanking a weekly raid group – it was Obsidian Sanctum on our server this week, Analogue had single healed it with Reversion as the sole tank earlier in the week and it had stuck in my mind as a set of fights I knew well enough to feel comfortable tanking. Then I saw in chat a name I recognized as someone who had pugged ICC with Analogue a couple weeks back, an Australian shaman with an awesome accent and great skills. Looking for more for ICC10. Well Ana and Reversion had gone the night before, gotten past Saurfang and had people drop out for RL issues, so she couldn’t go. My mage wasn’t saved, and I’d been thinking of getting her into one, but he was saying that the dps so far all had 5.5k GS and Invariant’s is lower than that. I might convince him that was fine but…

So I whispered him and said “4.8k GS prot pally here. Interested?”

A few seconds later I get the invite. I mention to him that my main had pugged with him a few weeks back (after I got in vent he remembered me) and as the raid was forming, I got Reversion’s secondary druid Consolidate in as healer. Con’s GS is about the same as Divergent’s, and the other (also pally) tank was the same; the shaman agreed to go heals, we had a priest to heal the tanks, and all the dps were higher.

So we set off. The other tank hadn’t tank any of the fights either. Both healers were a bit less accustomed to their role (the shaman usually dpsed and Rev, of course, tanks)

We get the trash down fairly easily. The usual random people die, get rezzed, spring traps… but the other paladin and I knew to stack on each other for the giants, kept the casters turned away from the raid mostly, and it went well. This was Divergent’s first time in ICC and I was keeping a keen eye on her rep, just waiting to get friendly so I could get the ring.

We came up to Marrowgar, discussed strategy, and started. It went pretty well. The other tank and I had a little trouble moving together out of the flames, but the first two bonestorms came and went without a hitch. And then, over vent – “Guys, I dc’d!”

That was the other tank.

Bonestorm started again as he worked to log in. I followed the boss around, picked him up when he came out of bonestorm and dragged him over to where the other tank stood motionless. He had dc’d, but not disappeared from the instance and worked just fine to soak up the cleaves! We had to stay and get hit by flames, but the healers worked overtime and kept us up until he logged back in.

Marrowgar dropped and the whole raid congratulated each other.

Deathwhisper was really fun to tank. We each would grab one of the adds that appeared at the side and drag him to the middle add, then kill them all. The raid pounded away on the boss. I was impressed how fast they got her shield down, or was it just the change in perspective? Healing raid fights leaves me breathless, spamming keys, desperately fighting to stay alive. Tanking was… suprisingly easier. The boss’s shield came down, and we had to watch each other; my taunts didn’t always seem to hit and I had to be told to move her back up out of the raid. But we got the hang of it, swapped taunts, stayed alive – and another boss went down. Whew.

Upstairs, charge in and kill trash. As the first group dies, someone lets out a whop – “Quest!” The raid quest to kill the rotting giant appeared. Divergent needs all the frosts she can get!

We cleared toward the giant and then another whoop – a trash mob had dropped a BOE necklace. I hadn’t realized 10 man ICC trash would drop the BoEs, I had thought they only appeared in 25, but there they were. The hunter begged, and we agreed to give it to him; it was a serious upgrade and he equipped it right away. Then it was frost giant time. The other tank and I started tanking in the middle of the hallway, but after the healers complained about us getting knocked back out of range (I thought it was fun!) we stood with our backs to the wall. Not as fun, but effective; the giant died and we got badges. Wheee.

I got the easy job on gunship, just stood in the middle and picked up adds. One of these days I’ll actually jump over to the other ship. I’ll probably fall off. Or get stuck over there at the end. I’ve been to ICC dozens of times now and never once jumped.

Saurfang, the fight I’d been dreading. I pulled all my AOE abilities off my bar, triple-checked that I was using Seal of Vengeance and not Seal of Command, and got ready. I tanked first, then the other tank taunted; I stopped my dps for a minute and breathed a sigh of relief as Saurfang changed his attention. Blood beasts appeared, and went away, and died; I didn’t have to worry about it. My turn to tank again; I taunted, the other tank let me have aggro, and we were in the swing of things. I didn’t have to care about blood power or healing Marked victims or kiting blood beasts.

Why hadn’t anyone ever mentioned how, well, easy raid tanking is?

Saurfang died. He died. Destroyer of pugs, we one shotted him. Bane of newbie tanks, I took him on with a gear score most pug builders would laugh at. It felt incredible. And – just a little boring. Don’t tell anyone I said that.

Halfway through the trash to Festergut I got Friendly with the Ashen Verdict. I went downstairs for my ring and while I was gone, someone got too close to a dog and they wiped. I laughed, we went upstairs, rebuffed, and tried again. And another wipe. Ooops.

More carefully this time, we killed both dogs. Then went to Festergut, planned our strategy, agreed I would tank first. We ready checked, I pulled – and instantly lost aggro to a hunter, who died. We fought him down to 30% before Reversion’s tree got Vile Gas and puked in the melee, wiping us.

Second try. Exact same thing happened. But a lot of people were new to the fight, or to their role, so we went back, tried again – and I held aggro. Swapped with the other tank at the right times, dps burned him down and we made it with over 30 seconds to go on the enrage timer.

Wish I could say we steamrolled the rest of the place that easily, but we didn’t. We made two attempts on Rotface, but then people had to go just as I was getting the hang of slime tanking (hard!)

Later that afternoon I played (utterly useless) third tank in a TOC 25 man raid. And Sunday afternoon, tanked Obsidian Sanctum. In between I set up my healing set and did my first few dungeons as a holy pally! Which I intend to talk about in a seperate post, but I see this one is already too long.

But for all that, I like resto druid healing ICC a lot more than tanking it. It’s just more fun for me. But I’d tank it on my paladin anytime!

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Once upon a time – ok, Monday night – a crazed gnome warlock (Invariant) and an even more crazed gnome mage (Profusion) queued up in dungeon finder. Then they went and killed lava spiders for a while. About 900 spiders later, the BRD loading screen popped up. Since they were questing in Searing Gorge, this saved them a whole five minutes of running to the stupid instance, a nice convenience. Which would only make graveyard runs more annoying later. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our gnomish heroes were greeted by a shaman healer and a night elf rogue. “Hi,” they replied back, as Invariant checked the cooldown on her soulstone and told the shaman it’d be ready in ten minutes, only to have the shaman run away from her. Was it her felguard pet? No, it was the heretofore overlooked gnome warrior who had charged the first pack of dwarves he saw and was bashing them with his axe. With a sigh at the impetuousness of plate wearers, our heroes got to work.

Profusion cast Blizzards and Fire Blasts. Invariant – after checking that the healer was solid and had a good mana pool – followed her instincts, ran into combat, and started trying to Hellfire herself to death. Fortunately the healer was better at keeping her alive than she was at killing herself, and things proceeded at a fast pace. The tank seemed to know where he was going. He charged down halls, into packs, around corners, all the way to the Ring of Law, through it, out the other side, over the bridge, jumped down, attacked the Fire Boss, and started heading for the room full of dwarvish crafters and giant statues when something seemed to bother him.

“LOL, [Bracers with Spirit]?” he asked. “noob”.

It took our heroes a moment to realize he was speaking to the rogue. This rogue had been a pleasant companion and kept up very nicely, and he had indeed recently equipped some bracers with spirit as well as stamina on them.

Profusion began to defend the rogue, pointing out that when you are levelling, sometimes you wear inappropriate gear. He didn’t mention all the times his max level characters have worn inappropriate gear, such as the Lovely Dress spotted on his hunter just a few weeks previously, as this was irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

Invariant asked whether the tank had not ever been tempted to equip pally plate. “lol not I’m not a noob” he said. Invariant pointed out that sometimes it’s still an upgrade. The tank said something obnoxious. Meanwhile, the rogue left the party without a word.

“Good l2p noobs shouldn’t play this game” said the tank.

“Yes,” Invariant agreed. “No one should play this game until they have mastered it.”

“The real noobs are the ones who are qq’ing about stats in a level 52 dungeon run,” Profusion said.

At this point, the tank began using truly foul language. Invariant was a bit surprised, as she runs with the profanity filter for a reason, then realized that this person was actually using special characters to get around the filters. After dropping the two most foul words he possibly could, he dropped group in the middle of a fight. Invariant’s loyal minion tanked the rest.

“Good, that saves us from having to kick him,” we agreed, and waited.

After a few rounds of shuffling players, they started off again, lost the healer, finally getting another warrior and a druid to perhaps finish the instance. They went along merrily. At some point, the third tank disappeared. Invariant, being impatient, had her minion try to tank a group only to have everyone go horribly squish.

“Sorry,” the druid said. “I couldn’t click on your pet fast enough.”

“Do you have a healing mod that’s set to show pets?” Invariant asked, her inner healer instincts coming to the fore.

“No, I don’t use mods,” the healer replied.

“Ah, but you should try Vuhdo! It makes healing a lot easier.”

They arrived at the instance again as another tank joined the party and the healer – a truly excellent druid, mod-avoidance-issues notwithstanding – tried to settle the argument with an appeal to authority:

argument from irrelevant authority
Unfortunately Invariant knew to counter the “argument to irrelevant authority” debate tactic by showing it for what it was.

The new tank charged merrily along to the Ring of Law, then stopped in the middle. “We already did that,” they explained. “Come on.” Our heroes went upstairs to go find the statue and gain the key to the city. But the tank did not join them, and suddenly his picture went to the unhappy “disconnected” logo. With a sigh, our heroes waited, then booted him.

Finally a new tank appeared, a white knight in shining armor, wielding the power of virtue and light. This paladin, this paragon of holiness, lead the way courageously through the now largely empty instance as our heroes explained that they really had cleared most of it.

The following conversation was mysteriously retrieved and is displayed for your edification. This is the last we know of what became of our brave adventures.

Into the Fire, Pinky!

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