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Archive for the ‘Personal Story’ Category

So, Orphan’s Week. I do holiday achievements on my mage Invariant. It’s sort of an apology to her for not being my main any more, plus Analogue has flight form and doesn’t need a proto drake. So there.

I’ve gotten to needing Flame Warden (accidentally did that one on Analogue), two Hallow’s End achievements, and Children’s Week, which is the one I’ve been dreading. Saturday I spent farming up the Lovely Cakes and such that we’d need (they had gone to 100g on the AH when I checked) so that we could concentrate on School of Hard Knocks.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy PvP. In BC when Invariant was my only max level character, PvP was my end game. Heck I got her all decked out in purple shinies including the staff that looked like it might have questionable alternative uses (the pink glowing rotating… whatever… at the top. What was that anyway?). All from battlegrounds because I am not and never will be any good at arenas.

But you see, I have a really great mage pvp strategy. I spec into fire. I hate frost, just don’t like the playstyle at all. Then I run at a bunch of enemies and do as much damage as possible in the ten seconds before I die. This strategy works great when I get in a bg mood, which hasn’t happened lately honestly. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well for the School of Hard Knocks achievement, which requires me to accomplish goals with my orphan out.

Still. Ok, activate pvp spec. Check what I’ve got for pvp gear… ouch, not much, I did some pvp at the start of Wrath but I have very little. Still what I’ve got gives me 250 resilience which is better than nothing. I queue up and get started.

Arathi Basin has always been my favorite BG. It feels like the right size of battle, I can usually contribute and I know the strategies. In this case, I headed right for the Gold Mine – the Stables was the noob “click on the flag with the orphan out” honeypot – and get it done. Ten seconds in, we’re good, now I can enjoy this bg. Well I stay at the mine with a few other orphan tenders and when a horde guy comes by, we let him cap and then they recap a few times, and then the guy wanders away…. by this time every point has exchanged hands a dozen time and I realize this could be a long battle.

I look around for action. For a while there’s a bit of a fight at the Lumber Mill, but then the Horde take it pretty solidly and the Alliance doesn’t want to press there. So I go the the Blacksmith. It’s currently ours and Horde keep coming by to try to cap. I hang out by the flag and every time a group shows up – Tab, Living Bomb, Tab, Living Bomb, Tab, Living Bomb PYROBLAST TO THE FACE! How’d you like that? MWAHAHA. We held that flag against all comers for the next ten minutes; it ended up being the only place in the BG that actual pvp was taking place.

Lost the battle, got the objective.

WG next  – I come into a battle that’s already started and a Tauren immediately tries to stomp in my head. I manage to finish him off and notice that there’s a Troll picking up and dropping our flag, so I get that achievement too.  The game stretches on… and on…. and on… There were about two players on each side actually trying to run the flag. They got nowhere until five minutes from the end when the Horde decided to go on offense and we had to really fight to defend the flag. It ended up as a 0-0 tie. And frankly the most boring battleground I’ve ever been in. I had thought the AB was bad until I got to the Blacksmith for the battle there; that was nothing compared to dancing in our flagroom waiting for something to happen. (Go run the enemy flag yourself? I hear someone ask. Dude. Fire mage wearing non-pvp gear. That’s just not happening.)

Alterac Valley – fun BG usually. My first two tries dumped me into mostly complete battles where the Horde set up a gauntlet halfway down the map ganking anyone who tried to get to the end. No chance to try a tower. The third one, Reversion brought his hunter Approximate along. Approx is his pvp and holiday achievement character, and has a motorcycle and pvp gear. He got me into a tower in time to cap it. Yay! And then we puttered around killing things until someone managed to zerg rush the enemy boss. I mostly died a lot. I need better gear.

Eye of the Storm. Never a fan of this place. And right now, it’s a nightmare. The objective for the achievement is to cap a flag. I’m not sure I’ve ever capped a flag there. I’ll find out when I get it done as there’s an achievement for the first time you cap a flag. The first one I went to, we got three capped and the Horde kept the flag. Miserable failure. The second one, I ended up rousing the troops, running a solid defense of the Mage Tower  and Draeni ruins, pushing hard at the Horde; we had the flag the whole time and won convincingly. I never got near the flag. Clearly I’m doing this wrong. I envision a lot of EotS this week to get the achievement.

On the positive side, I’m gaining honor. Got to check a list for PVP gear for Invariant and maybe respec… I took Dragon’s Breath out and a knockout is great for pvp… she’s got a few arcane points she doesn’t actually need.

On the whole, Blizzard succeeded in making me want to pvp again with this achievement. They also succeeded in making pvp kind of boring. There were battlegrounds where I only died once or twice. That… doesn’t happen, not with my gear like this. Hopefully I’ll stay in a pvp mood next week when it’s fun again. Right now – well sorry hardcore pvp folks, I’m in UR BGs being a N00b. And sorry achievement mongers – I’m just good enough at the bg to mess up things for you. Don’t hate me – hate the shiny shiny protodrake-shaped carrot on a stick Blizzard is dangling at you…

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L2P Nub

So there we were in POS, Analogue in tree form and Reversion’s second bear tank, the undergeared one. Soon as we saw the loading screen we knew we were in for fun. His second bear is lightly geared, has some holes, and was running with an experimental high-agility build. That’s why I bring Analogue along when we want to run instances with that tank; she’s usually able to keep things up just fine, but I know some of the POS pulls are fun..

We get a warlock, a dk, and a paladin. The warlock hasn’t been here before on this character; he asks people to “share quests” and we remind him to talk to Jaina at the portal in. This is halfway through the first pull. He says “Ok, can I brb?” and we give him permission, starting in on the next pull. Then I notice his health bar is going down… and down… he’s managed to aggro the caster mobs that everyone always skips these days. So Reversion and I go back and res him. Well now he’s got the quest, so we keep going.

First boss is fine. Then we wipe after that because I’m careless and not looking where the tank is and run into the ambushers. Oops. That was dumb. We get back, clear to Ick and Krick, kill them, and start up the hill. It takes all my button spamming but the first two groups go down and everyone is alive. The paladin seems to have a broken cleanse button so we have to wait around after the fight for the diseases to wear off, but it’s going ok.

The next set of mobs, Reversion tells the DK to run to one caster and death grip the other caster on top. Wonder of wonders he listens, we take out that group. We go to do the second group – and wipe; I have no idea why. Everyone runs back, except for the dk. He didn’t run back last time either and this time he’s under the mobs and I couldn’t rez him if I wanted to. We tell him to release, wait for him to do it or reply or… nothing. So he gets kicked and a mage joins the party. A mage with a gear score higher than mine and an ego to match.

The first pull wasn’t bad; Reversion kept aggro, we’d already killed one caster and the mage’s blizzard didn’t pull off. Now it was time for the tunnel. Reversion gave the standard rundown; get to the middle, don’t dps till then, don’t get ahead of the tank. We run to the plate, kill everything. One of the dps goes down; I have just enough time to rez before we’re in combat again. We start off up the tunnel but it’s taken long enough there are a lot on the bear. Since this alt only has 29k hit points in bear form, Reversion stops to kill a few adds. The mage and paladin, however, don’t stop. I sigh as their health bars go down, and then ours go down, and it’s a wipe.

“???” says the mage. “You don’t stop in the tunnel nub”.

“You do if the tank needs to kill the adds,” Reversion points out.

“You fail as a tank. L2P nub.” And he quits party, just like that.

Needless to say we finished the tunnel and the boss fight without any trouble at all.

I think the problem is that for a lot of people, unless you’ve played a role it’s hard to tell the difference between “bad” and “undergeared”. You can tell good geared players easily. You can tell bad ungeared players really easily. You can even tell bad geared players – they’re the ones with a 6k gearscore and 2k dps. But it’s hard sometimes to tell if a player is bad, or just lightly geared. If you wipe on hard fights, sometimes it’s just because you’re short on health. I’ll point out that Reversion’s second bear is better geared than his primary bear was the first few times we ran H POS; gear inflation is insane these days.  But the mage wasn’t willing to stick around to see which was the case. We’d deviated from his knowledge of “how you do the tunnel”; he couldn’t see that the reason why was a good one, so he left.

Still, who’s the bigger idiot, the tank who stops or the mage who keeps going?

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Did I get your attention? Well this is not exactly what I used to think of blogging but it is close. Sure I knew there was some good ones out there. Some people wrote guides… but that was not really blogging was it? And some people would do some good (IRL) news or investigative reporting. But a whole bunch of people whose hobby was to post their thoughts on the internet as if someone actually cared? And there were people that made a habit to actually read them? What a waste of time!

On the flip side I was active at posting on various forums…. Heh.

So a few months back my wife suggests a WOW blog. Since I am actually a pretty big egotist I figured it might be fun to grace the masses with my amazing wit and wisdom. Starting the blog and then networking on it completely changed my view on things. Oh, by that point I was more open minded about them anyway. But it was still eye opening. So what did I discover?

Blogs are a slow moving forum inhabited by people that can actually write and think (mostly)

And, depending on how you set up your blog-roll you can tailor your ‘forum’ to be personalized with only posters you think are interesting and have something to contribute. Sweet eh? Of course since you are reading this you already knew that.

So here we are a few months later with lots of content and a couple people that sometimes read things. I am not sure we don’t have too much content… so most people just run more than one blog to break up topics? We have three series and a comic series going… And I am thinking about more. So far there is a series on tanking I am having a lot of fun with. Not going to link it in-line, the links are on the right.–>

I still have several more Tank 101 posts planned and more that probably will spawn.
Analogue also has one on healing and we both have done some for the pairs leveling series (need more in that one).

Since most of our series are guide oriented it seems lame, and pretentious, to spawn them off as their own blog. I would rather just have too many posts here.

So my newest idea is a series on wiping… Er, you know, in instances. I am not sure what I am going to call it yet. “Legends of the Fail” might be a bit much. “Why is my screen all black and white?” is probably too long (yeah I heard that in chat once). “The anatomy of a wipe” could be bad for the google search hits… So I am still not sure what to name it. It will be all about the ways a group dies. There are not as many as you might think.

Meanwhile I resolve to have more personal story posts. I keep finding myself saying to my wife ‘you should blog that’.

This post would be more suited for a bloggerversary but since we don’t have one of those anytime soon I just thought I would post it anyway. Thanks for clicking, we are not going anywhere for a while.

Oh, and the comics will keep coming. They are too much fun to do.

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This weekend it was time for some BC dungeon pugs with my disc priest and Reversion’s warrior. Thursday afternoon I had run around and gotten us attuned for Old Hillsbrad so we tried queuing specifically for that and got a party right away, to our pleasant surprise.  There was a paladin, a hunter, and a shadow priest. Reversion and I hopped on the dragon, the shadow priest right behind us, and took off. As we start in on the first guards at the gate the hunter says “We can’t make the dragon work”. So we tell them to get a new pack of bombs first and they make their way to us. I glance at the paladin and hunter – same server, different guilds, but I was betting they were friends or relatives in RL. Sometimes you can get that vibe.

We start clearing stuff, I ask the shadow priest for some tips on a face-melt rotation (thanks! It worked, I killed quest mobs most painfully) and then I notice something odd. When we’re fighting, Reversion is the only one in melee. The hunter and priest are staying back, as they should, but so is the paladin. And he’s… casting… Exorcism?

Yes, we had just encountered the melee hunter’s opposite number; the ranged Ret pally.

I let it slide. He’d occasionally run in and consecrate, and he seemed a bit awkward at the game. When we made it to the keep to get Thrall, he could not find the basement and the hunter reminded us that he wasn’t there yet before starting the escort phase; I was more convinced than ever that they were a dad and kid, or something similar. The paladin said nothing the whole run. His exorcisms hit pretty hard, actually, and things died well. So it didn’t matter.

Next there was an Auchenai Crypts run, not notable except that we got three hunters as our dps. It’s bad enough trying to convince one hunter that his pet is growling; trying to track down and identify which two out of three are doing it, especially when two are white corehounds, is just not fun.

That was Friday; Saturday morning we queued up and got Steam Vaults. I was thrilled; I’ve been in there perhaps twice before. It’s great fun running instances you don’t really know. We got a mage, a DK, and a hunter. We fought our way to the gnome mekgineer boss – then were stumped. Where was the other boss we had to kill? We backtracked and started clearing. Suddenly the mage said “I was right we just need a key” and takes off for the other side of the instance where the locked door is that the final boss is waiting behind. We ignore him since Reversion has already said he’s pretty sure we need to kill the boss over up the ramp from where we are.

“Guys I gtg” the DK says suddenly, and leaves. The mage follows suit without a word, and we queue for dps. We finish clearing trash and we’re still waiting, having found the naga lady boss and her elemental pets.

After six or so minutes in the queue we agree we have nothing to lose by trying, so we start in three man and wipe. No problem; I identify two things I did wrong, we note boss mechanics and discuss strategy as we run back. Reversion is explaining to the hunter how he wants to have the hunter use Distracting Shot and freeze trap one of the adds on one side of the room. As we’re plotting strategy we get just a tiny bit too close to the boss – oops. The hunter goes down fast, Reversion and I try until I get silenced, and we wipe again.

Back again, and we’re ready to try. Reversion charges in. The hunter pulls out an add, but it resists the trap. Reversion taunts it back, and then the hunter pulls it out again. They ping pong it for a few rounds as they’re dpsing down the other add. For an ad-hoc strategy it works great. They kill the first add then focus on the second one. I’m healing away – she keeps silencing me so I have to play catch up rather than dps – and then suddenly I notice my combat text: “Berrysnatcher has died”.

Berrysnatcher? Is that the hunter’s pet? Nope! In the middle of the fight we’d received our two new dps friends, a rogue and a shaman, who commendably had run straight into the fight and gotten creamed. Vuhdo, like most raid frame addons, can’t update during combat and I had not even noticed the two new guys were here before they died.

We took the boss down, I rezzed and apologized to the new folks, and we ran to the end boss and killed him down fast. It was great fun – I love strategizing kills rather than just brute forcing them.

And then after lunch and some baby play time (Nomster dinged one yesterday and I guess she’s not really a baby any more!) we queue again and get Sethikk Halls. Ah, yes…

So we get a hunter, a mage, and a dk. The mage is very “go-go-go” but I’m having mana problems so Reversion takes things at my speed. The hunter has to be told twice to take his pet off growl. He’s not very good and he keeps a constant stream of banter going that tells us he’s probably about 12. In fact, after some particularly inane comments, I ask him if he’s twelve and he eventually after some “lol” and “guess”  says he’s 11. Well, we’re warned.

We get all the way to the end and on the final boss wipe; I got polymorphed and couldn’t get around the pillar in time to avoid the arcane explosion. The mage says something rude and drops group; the rest of us run back and a nice shaman joins us halfway through. “Oh, that boss,” she says when we explain what happened. “Ugh. But why drop now?” Exactly my thought. I share the instance quests with her even though she can’t complete them since we’ve killed a boss she needs, but now she’s got them, and she thanks me. We drop the boss. The hunter dies; I don’t think he understands the need to hide behind the pillars even though we told him so. Reversion’s been whispering with the shaman, who wants to know if we’ll re-queue with her once the others drop. We agree and wait. The dk drops – and the hunter starts popping up the “requeue” screen. We decline and decline and decline. “Come on pick a role” he says. “You’re not very good at taking hints are you?” I ask. Finally, since we’re not getting rid of him, we take the queue.

Of course the last slot is a dk. He sets out immediately proving that he is less mature than the hunter; death gripping mobs to himself, being a jerk in chat, and finally bragging “Wow! I’m getting 1k death strikes!” which makes us all notice that his damage is, in fact, abyssmal. We point this out – he’s doing 125 dps. The idiot hunter is managing close to 500 – and he gets abusive, so we kick him.

His replacement is a paladin. A paladin who apparently thinks he is the tank. “Go go go” he says. I explain again that Reversion is catering to my mana. He doesn’t think much of this. He keeps over-pulling, grabbing other groups – and finally he runs into a room, aggros everything, I am sitting and drinking and we just decide to let him die. We end up wiping since he pulled three groups and didn’t kill anything before he died and on the way back from the graveyard he starts giving me crap about “you need to say something if you’re afk”.

I explain that I was not afk, I just wasn’t putting up  with that sort of behavior, and he tries to vote kick me. Reversion laughs at him and says “good luck with that, since I’m married to her, no way”. Apparently he tried again several times and then he tried to kick Reversion, with the same luck.

Unfortunately since we kicked the dk, we cannot kick this idiot, so I tell the shaman not to heal when he does his nonsense. Sure enough when we get back he tries it again. We ignore him, Reversion tanks the mobs he was planning to pull, I heal people who aren’t the paladin, the paladin dies, we clean up, and we leave him lying dead on the floor and head in to kill the boss.

The guy didn’t bother releasing. Why do that when you can pile invective on peoples’ heads? I guess low level instances are srs bznz and that my job as the healer is to heal people regardless of whether they are doing their job or trying to get me killed. Also I guess things like “doing what the tank says” or “paying attention to healer mana” are overrated.

Anyway, great weekend. I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between jerkwad behavior and “I’m 11″ behavior. I’ll put up with 11 year olds but people who are just annoying and mean get to suffer.

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Hitting the wall

Hitting the wall is when you run into something that you just can’t get past. It can be suddenly and in your face or it can be a dawning realization. With all the demands of tanking it might hit you several different ways. The cause of it be different. Heck you might never hit one. With the arrival of ICC the gear levels are so high any new tank between now and Cata might not even hit one. Or they might hit one while leveling.

Let me tell you about my wall. I started tanking somewhere during the leveling of my first druid (Reversion).

Actually that is not true, I tanked as a warrior a couple years ago.

Actually that is not true either. I started tanking with my pet starting at level 10 on my first hunter not long after WOW’s launch. A hunter pet is not a real tank of course but you get a lot of the ideas from it. You have abilities as a hunter+pet to generate threat, dump threat, and move threat around. You get many of the concepts of tanking as you play one. Having leveled several alts a little, and two a lot, I found my first warrior tank both familiar and eye opening. There were many things different about being a main party tank instead of just the pet tank controller for a leveling pair or trio. I mentally apologized to every tank I had ever had prior to that point for all the sins I had committed against them.

But that is another story. The point is that the concept of tanking was familiar to me and I picked it up fairly fast. I did a few dozen levels of tanking on my warrior. Then the warrior spent time in storage and eventually I leveled a bear tank. Going from warrior to bear was very intuitive and I was soon feeling very comfortable with the role of tank. I did my homework and got the talents and gear I needed. I was doing pretty good as a max level heroic tank. Then TOC came out. Remember back when most pug players only were wearing 200 purples? Times were very different. I was pulling around 860 dps as a bear tank which I thought (at the time) was not bad. Most dps were only doing 1200-2k back then and for most fights it got the job done.

On one Friday night I ran a TOC heroic pug and was completely unable to keep aggro on the three heroes fight. I am pretty sure it was the hunter mage and druid but I am not 100% sure. After a few wipes the group lost a few and then some Uldar geared tank came and finished the run. I was annoyed but did not think too much of it. I probably blamed the DPS for not following kill order. Anyway, the next morning I got up and while Analogue and the baby were sleeping in I tried another run of it. BAM! I was at the wall. The same thing happened again and I realized suddenly that this WAS a wall.

I knew at that moment that my gear, spec, rotation and skills just simply were not up to generating the threat I needed. It was a WOW epiphany I will never forget. What made it so critical was how I dealt with it. I went out and read stuff. And then read more stuff and then studied some more. From all these I made three very small, very subtle and extremely critical changes.

1: Maul. I had been using Maul. I used it a fair bit…. But I did NOT use it on EVERY melee swing. You see Maul is one of those things you trigger and then it goes off on the next regularly scheduled melee swing (like Heroic Strike). It does not blow the global cooldown. So unless you are hurting for rage you should be using it on EVERY swing. So the subtle change I did here was to move it from the 7 or 9 button (I forget which) on my hot bar and put it on 4. What this did was to put it right under my usual hand position and with my other spam able buttons.

2: I discovered the ‘glyph of maul’ that had somehow previously escaped my notice. This maul made my maul hit two targets instead of one!

Now these two changes ALONE boosted my DPS by around 50% and those I was putting out much more threat. What is more I was spreading that threat around better. My biggest damage dealing attack was hitting two. This meant that in a fight at least two of the enemies were glued to me pretty solidly.

3: The third change I made was even more subtle. I read some more about what ‘growl’ did. I had read the tip text before so I KNEW that it did nothing to targets that were already attacking you. I knew it, I mean it is right there in the tip so how could I miss it? But somehow it did not really sink in deep. You see, the hunter pet ability ‘growl’ does not work that way. It is something that just applies a set amount of threat to the target. So it makes sense for the pet to keep spamming growl on whatever it is fighting. What I read after I hit the wall was the math behind druid growl. The math is this. Whatever target is at the top of the threat list, you get that much aggro +1. For some reason reading the actual numbers like that had far more impact on me. The tool tip more or less says the same thing but not as clearly.

So what did this realization do? Not much. I was already using growl properly to taunt things back when someone else pulled them off. What I was not doing was saving growl for ONLY that. After I read that I made extra certain to never use growl except when it was actually needed. Well, really I do bump it a lot… and sometimes I fire it off before I get the right target selected. But basically I save it for what it is really meant for, for those times when someone pulls off you. What this meant for me was that the cooldown on growl was almost always ready when I needed it. It was a very subtle change to how I used it. And I had already been using it mostly right. But that extra assurance of having growl every time I needed it was huge!

So that was it; one hard and solid wall that I hit head on and three fairly small and subtle tweaks. The result was that I obliterated TOC the next time I ran it. That wall was totally blown away.

My conclusion is this: there are a lot of things to do with tanking. Doing any of them weakly might someday run you hard against a wall you just can’t beat. The trick is to recognize it for what it is and go seek out the information you need to overcome it.

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That is what I heard after an AN run. So there was this hunter who was managing pull off me quite a lot. The worst was where he pulled the final boss off me just as he was about to cast pound. So it would turn towards the hunter and cast it right into a melee DPS. Now for all you DPS out there that think that is the tanks fault think again. We only can do so much threat, there is a limit. Beyond that there is only skillful use of taunts and forced attacks. And beyond that there is nothing. So when I am doing 1500 dps (my under geared new bear, not Reversion) and you are doing 3600, over half of which is crits, then sooner or later you will pull off me. And if you do it right before he starts channeling which makes him ignore taunts (or at least not turn around until the channel is over) then there is not a darn thing I can do about it.
I called the guy on it at the end saying he should MD and FD more. His response? “I only MD, learn to hold agro”. Of course he dropped group right after so he did not have time to learn more about his stupidity. There are two problems with that statement. The first is that MDing once at the start of a fight is not ‘using MD’. That is just sort of a nod in the general direction of MD when it comes to boss fights. Second if the tank is holding agro almost all the time, even if there is something more about agro he needs to learn, he is getting the job done. Which means it is up to the DPS to do their part after that. What you have to do is manage your threat. Just throwing MD at the start of a fight is no more managing your threat then just simply owning a savings account is managing your money. It is a necessary start but nothing more. If you don’t know how to manage your own threat beyond that, then you need to go learn. Maybe I will do a post on that some time. But for HUNTERS it is so stupid simple that the very idea of some hunter not doing it and then blaming the tank really burns me.
Step one: Macro MD
Write a macro that says this: /cast [target=focus] Misdirection
With this all you have to do at the start of an instance is focus the tank. Next go download Omen and use it. When you get high on the threat list, use MD again.If you are even close to pulling off the tank hit your FD. That is it. A level 80 hunter should never be telling a tank to hold threat, even one with tissue and bubble wrap for gear. Other class have their own versions of that.

There are a lot of bad tanks out there. But if you are not an expert in your classes threat reduction skills and you seem to get more bad tanks than you think is possible… maybe the answer is not in the tanks. I had to instruct a mage the other day that his mirror images don’t do EXTRA threat. He was avoiding using them. They actually split up your threat and are therefore it is a really nice ‘dump’ skill. Every class has stuff like that but it seems most people would rather blame the tank than play their own class well. This is akin to ramming other cars on the road when they cut you off. It is a lot better to accept that other people do that and if you want lower repair bills you learn to use the brakes.

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In Oculus tonight I was healing in caster form and noticed that I was getting a weird visual effect…

It’s triggered when Althor’s Abacus heals someone. To put it bluntly, my boobs start glowing.

Where exactly am I keeping this thing?

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I’m a bit of a control freak.

(Reversion is not allowed to make a comment on that statement)

I’ve always had control freak tendencies. Sometimes they come in handy, like when I was applying to grad school. Or organizing a bookstore run with my younger siblings. All six of them. No surprise it would spill over to WoW; the biggest surprise is how long it took me to roll a healer.

As a Resto druid, my inner control freak is very very happy in 10 man raids. I feel like I’m responsible for keeping everyone alive and I like it. Even if I’m supposed to be raid healing I can keep an eye on the tanks for a good time to drop a Swiftmend or my Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch macro.

25 mans are another beast. “Ok Analogue you keep Rejuvs on groups 3-5″. There’s my healing assignment. Drop a WG on the melee if I can spare the GCD. Otherwise, Rejuv, wait for the order to battle res. Drop a hot on the tanks. Don’t even think about Nourish, unless the fight goes to heck and the healers start dropping.

It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. I see more of the fights in 25 man. I’m glad I did Rotface in 25 first; I have a really good idea of what to do in 10 man now. But I’m not in control. How could I be, as one of 25, one of 7 healers? It’s as bad as being DPS. In 10 man, I’m one of two, maybe three, performing my role. I can challenge myself a lot more. Should I Swiftmend the tank or heal up that mage over there that took a few ticks of fire damage before moving? Do I need to focus heal the Mark target? Doing my own thing and actually thinking for myself is an asset. In 25 man, I’m part of a team, greater as a whole than as a part. We can do some awesome things together – but deep down inside I feel insecure.

Do other healers feel this way? I bet it’s more of a Resto druid thing than, say, a Holy Pally thing. I think we probably are more likely to feel like we have to heal everyone at the same time rather than focusing on assignments, but I might be wrong.

And how, when the tank’s health bar keeps going down, can I NOT heal him?

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GDKP

I think everyone knows what GDKP runs are these days; if not, the quick version is that when loot drops, you bid gold on what you want, high bidder wins, and at the end all the gold spent is divvied out in equal shares to the raiders. Guilds often run GDKP raids for their raiders’ alts as well as a few pugged potential buyers.

Tuesday after the ICC zone buff was raised to 10%, one of the officers of our guild announced they’d be doing a GDKP run of ICC this Saturday. I immediately went to town, clearing out my bank vaults and doing some serious auctioneering. With six 80s between us, Reversion and I have most of the professions covered and mine are especially lucrative; jewelcrafting, enchanting, tailoring, and my pally tank has a glyph business that has been netting us a few hundred gold a week. Basically, Tuesday my mage, who is our auctioneer and has all Reversion’s and my money, had about 14k gold; Saturday we had 32k. I sold a couple primordial saronite from frost badges that my alts had collected but mostly it was bank leftovers, bags, and gems. Also a weird quirk on my server has runed orbs selling for more than 4 times the cost of frozen orbs and I took advantage of that.

Anyway, Saturday rolls around; the raid leader asks Reversion to bring his hunter instead of the druid, which he’s happy to do, and I get an ok to come on Analogue. This will be the first time we’ve actually gotten past Marrowgar on 25 man ICC and I’m looking forward to it immensely. An hour before it’s time to go we hear a horrible thumping and crashing from the garage. We go out and find our washer has walked off the pedestal, fallen on its face, ripped pipes out of the wall and there’s water going everywhere.

Great. The joys of home ownership.

We shut off the water, move the boxes off the floor, start hacking at pipes. Reversion assesses our tools and gear and we make a quick run to Home Depot. Five minutes before raid time, we’ve got a fix that lets us have cold running water, the washer is on its feet and given a tentative “maybe it’s ok” verdict, and we decide to raid.

Marrowgar gets one shot and a pair of caster leather gloves drop, which I buy even though it breaks my Tier 10 2 set bonus; they were just too nice to pass up. Deathwhisper takes two attempts and some nice hunter pants drop for Reversion’s hunter Approximate; we both got lucky and got these pieces cheap as my competitor druid was afk during bidding, and Approximate was the only hunter around.

Then Gunship, and I’m holding my breath the whole time and then it drops: the Abacus, the trinket I’ve been wanting since I first heard of it. The bidding war is fierce but once it gets past 3k gold it’s down to just me and a holy priest; we bid it up to 4.9k before he drops out and lets me have it, telling me privately that if Trauma drops off Rotface he’s not giving up so easily. I tell him it’s on and don’t tell him that I still have close to 20k if Trauma drops and man do I want that mace.

Saurfang gets one-shot. So far the fight that I’ve found the most different on 25 versus 10 man is Deathwhisper; the mind control and the sheer number of adds made that one interesting. Most of the fights are actually easier for me as a healer, since I can concentrate on raid healing and just spam Rejuvs and WG everywhere.

We head to Rotface first. It takes two tries, and the second time we succeed even though one of the pugged guys does not take his small ooze out of the raid – someone managed to pull it out after two minutes. That’s the first time I’ve seen that fight and I enjoyed it even though I ended up dying twice on the second attempt – bad luck with slime puddles.

Trauma, of course, does not drop. Argh. I’d been setting myself up all week but I guess when I’d already got the Abacus I couldn’t be too greedy.

Then we go to Festergut and we wipe and wipe and wipe, mostly by hitting the enrage timer. I end up pulling out my mage, we swap out the worst dps (the aforementioned pugged warrior who didn’t move his slime) and finally – finally – get him down, after a heartbreaker attempt where the last one of us died a nanosecond before he did.

Why am I writing all this up? Because I wanted to emphasize how awesome GDKP runs are for people who have skills, ok gear, and not enough time to commit to a real raid schedule, or just don’t want that pressure regularly. If it had been a “real” guild raid some of the wipes would have been… unpleasant, but because everyone there was a customer as well as a raider, the raid leaders had to put up with a bit of idiocy. The idiots’ gold is just as good as anyone else’s.

It takes gold to make gold of course, but at 80 the gold comes rolling in with minimal effort. Dailies, or auctioneering, or a good profession, add up fast. I’ve never ever bought gold, but I have four characters with dual spec, three with epic Northrend flying, crafted gear, and been a high roller on two GDKP runs in the last four months. And I have a trinket that I’d have given my eye teeth for, a fun afternoon of content that for me was progression, and an achievement in my log.

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Did a lot of different stuff in WoW this weekend, mostly on my 60 Draeni priest and my 25 Tauren shaman. Healing on both, even though the shaman is supposedly leveling Enhancement. More on her another time, this is about Hellfire and damnation. Or death knights, anyway.

Anyone who’s run dungeons in the low 60s level range know how many dks seem to be lurking there just waiting for you. I needed two levels on Verdandi, the priest, to catch up to Reversion’s warrior gnome so I queued her up and got Hellfire Ramparts. The good news is that you have a pretty fast queue as a healer; all the dks waiting to be healed make things snappy.

This group had two dks, a mage, and a balance druid. DK tank starts out by overpulling and I heal like crazy, then sit and drink (this group was very good about letting me drink and the mage thoughtfully made me water that was better than the stuff my still 59 priest was forced to use). Meanwhile I checked the dk tank… level 59, wearing the starter gear, all the points in frost, in frost presence. I mentioned that if he put a couple points in the other trees he could get really nice talents that would make him a little less fragile. No response.

Another pull and we barely survive, thanks to the druid going bear and growling things off the mage and the dps dk tanking two creatures.  We asked why the tank wasn’t using Death and Decay. “Dont have it”, he said, and I later looked up and saw that you train it at level 60. Which means he was trying to keep aggro with… not much of anything for tools.

The next pull we wipe. We run back in, I rez the dps dk who has been making suggestions to the tank dk. The mage has been complaining about how bad dk tanks are at this level and how you should level a warrior or paladin as a tank first, not switch right from hunter.  It probably annoyed the tank dk but since he said nothing, I don’t know.

We wipe again, and again, and we kick the tank. Sorry, maybe you didn’t have all the tools yet but that’s a good reason not to queue as a tank. The other dk offers to try tanking for a while and we get a rogue. All goes well up to the first boss. We down him – and then the rogue stealths forward and manages to pull three packs of mobs. We wipe, the rogue drops group. Now we get another dk, this one level 64 when the rest of us are barely 60, so we ask him to tank since our tank dk can’t hold threat off him. He launches into a lecture to our dk about not queueing as tank if you’re not willing to tank – we cut him off with agreement but add a “Dude, you have no clue what we’ve been through”. We finish the place off and drop group with relief.

Now Reversion gets on and will tank for me, we get Hellfire again and this time a dps dk of the “Death Grip is leet funz!” type. First four pulls he grips a mob out of the pack to him and stands there and dpses it. Reversion gives him the “You yank it you tank it” warning after pull 1.  The first few times, the other dpsers help him. Then I think they noticed that he wasn’t getting heals and the tank wasn’t taunting it off him, and realized what we were doing. The next time he came close to dying. “I’m not taunting it off you if you Death Grip it over there,” Reversion says, and I add “and I don’t heal anyone who is making the tank’s life harder.”

Oddly, he got the message… and I didn’t even have to let him die. He slipped up once or twice but his health bar going to 30% seemed to keep him on the straight and narrow.

The next three dks we got all knocked our socks off! Every one showed knowledge of when to use DG. They’d pull casters into the melee and let Reversion get them, and one even pulled back a runner that was about to aggro the patrolling boss! We gave each of them kudos. Is there something in the water?

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