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Archive for the ‘Playstyle’ Category

World of pet battles

This expansion is great! Yeah, I know I have behind… We were moving. We still have not gotten the raid back up yet. We will see there… But in the mean time I have been doing pet battles. Lots of them. So far I am at 366ish pets. It is a good think they upped the cap because I was releasing them right and left in order to stay under 500. The only tameable one I was missing prior to Tuesday was the darn minifernal. I have tried server hopping and a early morning log-ins but so far nothing is working there.
For other pets I have used persistence and good luck plus lots of wowhead research. Of the new 5.1 pets I have 4. The mecha cat, the imp from molten core, the kunlai yeti runt and one other I am completely blanking on at the moment. Oh wait, I also snagged a harpy before I left for work this morning. So I have 5 of them. Have checked for a few others, without luck. I ran molten core and only the imp dropped. I tried to run BWL. I think the new abilities razorgore is suppose to have aren’t working yet. They were there, but they did not do a darn thing. I wiped a couple times, put in a ticket and left. Tonight I might try the other two raids. If anyone is wondering, the raid pets are BoP, but once you equip them they are cage-able.
So far I have 19 lvl 25 pets, obviously some from every family. I am working toward the uber trap you get for having 30 max levels.

I have been checking my progress on wowprogress and I have been holding steady at number 2 on the server. A week or so back I rolled a noob hordy and whispered the number 1 guy. Well I don’t think I will be passing him soon. He has around a hundred more pets than me. The only way for me to get there from here is with CCG pets and some holidays that aren’t any time soon (children’s week). I had a hard grind to get this far because I was not a pet collector before. I had pathetically few prior to the 5.0.

So next up I am thinking to start trading. A lot of folks trade on the forums and such. I will have to gather up a bunch and make a list. I will post it here when I am ready to start swapping. Hopefully my wife did not auction all those spares I sent her.

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How To CC DESPITE the tank

So you have a tank that is trying the ‘gogogo’ thing or just plain has not asked for CC. There are more than a few ways you can use CC despite him, or try to. Here are a few. There are probably plenty of others. These tips are also useful of you have a tank that wants to CC but the DPS keeps breaking it.

Distracting Shot + Frost Trap

Distracting shot is a 6 second forced attack that hunters can use. If you tag a CC’able melee target with it and then drop a trap at your feet, you can pull that target off the tank and trap it.

Banish

Banish is a ‘lock ability that puts an elemental or demon target in a state where they can’t do anything and they can’t be hit. This is great because you can Banish targets that are in the melee and it will not break accidentally.

Deathgrip plus a friend

Deathgrip pulls a target right out of the melee pack. Then you can have a friend trap, repent, sheep, etc. Be careful though, if the target has a DOT on it then it will not stay CC’ed. And Deathgrip is also a taunt – so if the cc doesn’t go off, you will have a very angry mob up close and personal.

Mind Control

With Mind Control a priest can take over a target and use its abilities. The controlled target becomes an ‘ally’ for a short time so the CC will not be broken since the target can’t be hit.

Knockback plus something else

You can use Typhoon or Thunderstorm to knock targets way from the tank and then CC them. This is risky and disruptive but it can work.

Hex

Hex is very durable. It resists a lot of damage. It can take a few aoe hits and not break. So you could keep something, even in the melee, CCed for at least a short time.

Almost anything during ranged pulls

Many forms of CC work when the tank is pulling the group back with a ranged move. Traps, Hex, Sheep, Repent… just about everything except sap. And even sap works if you get in there fast before the pull starts and hit a target the tank is unlikely to hit with the ranged move. This is effective against DKs tanks that tend to use deathgrip for pulling (some do, but not all).

Hit one in the back while the tank is moving in

As the tank moves in for the pull, the targets aggro and move to meet him. The fight usually takes place about 2 steps in FRONT of where the first target of the pack is standing at the start of the pull. If you preselect a target that is far from where the tank will meet the first opponent, there is a very high chance you can CC it out of range of melee aoe. You can do this even as the pull is happening if you are fast. This can work with a ‘charge’ tank like a bear or warrior, and is very effective with a Pally tank. You may have to do it after a shield throw if you’re worried about the shield breaking your CC.

Hit the caster

If you have run the instance a few times you should know which targets are casters and will not move toward the tank. Many tanks that are not experienced enough to ask for CC also tend to leave a hanging caster out shooting at the party. If you know which those targets are likely to be you can CC them before they get a cast off. This is very effective with a bear tank because they lack a real ranged silence. You tank will be very thankful even if they did not mark targets properly.

Party Chat

Just offer to do it. Some tanks don’t ask for CC, not because they dislike it but just because they are being lazy or forgetful or they don’t like being demanding. Or they may be so new they don’t know what classes can do what kind of CC against which types of targets. If you offer to use CC they will often be glad to let you do it. You might have to pick and announce which targets you are CCing if the tank doesn’t. Many tanks, if you announce what you are going to CC, are happy to let you do it and try to avoid breaking it.

Keep trying

It takes time for tanks to get really good at dealing with CC pulls and just CC in general. It takes time for them to learn not to break it. It takes many tries for them to get the hang of the proper sequence of a CC pull. Keep trying. Help your tank learn. If they break it, don’t cuss them out. Remind them what target you are CCing and tell them how they can avoid breaking it. Tanks did not have to learn this stuff in the last expansion. Don’t be shocked if your tank has no idea how to work with your kind of CC. Offer to use it and help them learn how to work with it.

Or they might just be so gung-ho that they or lazy they don’t want to CC. If you keep trying they may give in and let you do it. It helps the healer and often keeps you all alive so don’t be afraid to push the issue with a reluctant tank.

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I have two main characters.

Analogue became my main during Wrath and probably will remain my main for as long as I play; I’ve just so merged my identity in WoW with “druid healer” that I don’t think I can change it. She gets leveled and geared first, that’s the name I use in Vent and on blogs and, well, it’s my WoW identity. Symbolically, she became my real main when she got name changed to Analogue. Originally she was named Metaphor, but when we moved servers the first time, that name was taken, so I looked for something themically similar and chose Analogue. It works for me.

Then there’s Invariant – who, like Analogue, was originally not named Invariant but Variant. Again, first server move, that name wasn’t available so I changed to Invariant. Either works. She’s a mage. She’s not the first character I rolled, but she is the first that actually appealed to me enough to get past 40. She was my first level 70, my second 80, and my third 85. Poor thing. But despite being leveled behind my priest, I identify with her a lot more than with my priest. Elucidate is just “Analogue’s priest”. Invariant is…. Invariant.

I’ve been able to keep her identity because I use her for very different things. I’m not that into damage dealing these days; I’m too perfectionist to like doing a lousy job, and too haphazard to get 100% performance out of my mage. Oddly I don’t have the issue with my druid… but it’s the role, not the character. I give 110% when I heal; when I’m doing damage I just don’t.

But somewhere along the way Invariant became my achievement runner, my pet collector, my archeologist. It seemed logical enough; mages have some advantages like portals to everywhere. Makes them a lot faster at world achievements. She got 50 pets; then she got serious and scored 75. Now I collect them just to have them.  She has the first mount achievement, and works slowly on getting more. Her archeology is 525 and I’m looking forward to plenty more time with that.

Do you have a dichotomy like this? One character for “fun” and one for “serious business”? Or a PVP main and PVE main, or a different identity for Horde and Alliance?

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Loving the expansion. The dungeons are hard. Nicely hard. So far the only person I have heard saying how easy they were is a cocksure tank whose boast were not quite loud enough to drowned out the whimpering that was his healer, over in the corner, rocking back and forth moaning ‘oom… oom’.

FYI to all tanks, if you think you are doing great but your healer is a nervous wreck then you are not as good a tank as you think you are.

But this one is not about tanks… or rather it is not ONLY about tanks.  I just read another blog that had a nice description of some of the trials of these new runs. It mentioned that they wiped a lot due to OOM but that she thought they had actually covered for some lesser experienced players. No offense to the other blogger but those statements are a contradiction.

The healer’s mana is everyone responsibility

There is a lot of damage in these runs. LOTS of it… however, a huge proportion of it is avoidable. It is up to every single person in the run to do their part in avoiding it. Anything less and you get OOM heals and a graveyard run. These new runs will require everyone to learn all the little tricks of their class that they never had to learn before. Everyone should recite this mantra, ‘there is ALWAYS something more that I PERSONALLY can do to make the run better’.

Breaking the habit

I have now done every run on non-heroic and many of them several times. I have done all my runs with good players. They were mostly long time players with alts and varied experience. But even running with high class players I STILL see things they are not doing or not doing well enough. For example there are lots of things mobs do to us that are interruptible casts but very few people are interrupting them. The attitude of ‘just DPS as hard as you can’ is very very hard to shake. I know we did not really need CC in the last expansion, but it is much more than that. We needed almost none of the extra tricks DPSers could do and hence no one remembers they have them.

Learning the true meaning of Christmas helping the party

I always found discussions ironic and funny about ‘tanks versus dps’ or when people were whining about DPS not getting respect. I lost count of how many times some mage would say something like, ‘I do more than just dps, when at add comes after the healer I frost nova it and blink away.’ I just wanted to pound my head on the table and shout ‘That is not helping!’ I didn’t usually because it took too long to explain the reasons why that was a bad idea.

There are things DPS can do to help. Lots of things. Very few dps seem to know what they are or when to use them or how. This is not surprising. We have not really needed those tricks. How many druids here know where your hibernate button is and that it works on dragonkin? Just yesterday a VERY solid kingslayer boomkin had to go find it in her spell book because she had never used it. How many hunters here know that distracting shot is a ‘forced attack’ and works VERY well with frost trap to CC stuff by pulling it out of the melee? A couple runs back I taught that trick to an outstanding hunter that had played one since vanilla beta. This is not to toot my horn. I only know a few tricks, mostly from classes I have played a lot. There are lots out there.

I find myself in runs where over half the classes have spell interrupts or silences but I seem to be the only one using them. I probably missed seeing some of them, but that is not my point. My point is that even very good players need to be racking their brains and burning up the internet for more tricks and tips on what THEY can do to make the fights better. Learn more CC tricks. Dig through your spellbooks for long forgotten abilities and see what they can do. And…

DON’T STAND IN THE FIRE!

As I said above most of the damage is avoidable. Some of it is only BARELY avoidable so you have to move fast. We need to hit ourselves in the head every time we find ourselves doing our rotation while standing in the bad.

Speak up

I have said in the past that more people need to be willing to point out the mistakes of others. I really believe that you don’t learn to play better until something pushes you or someone gives you a tip. I have learned plenty that way and I like to think I have offered a lot of helpful advice that way. And now is truly the time for it. There are so very many things in these instances that need to be pointed out to people. If you see someone doing something wrong please tell them. It is not being a jerk, it is being helpful (if you say it nicely). If someone can’t handle being told not to stand in that stuff then you should not be running with them anyway. And don’t assume because someone is a good player that they don’t have room for improvement.

Listen

This goes for all of us. There are always more tricks to learn and more skills to get. There are always new ways to use the skills we already have. If you think you can do more, ask. If someone makes a suggestion, listen.

Earn it

Some DPS whine that tanks and heals don’t give them enough respect… Time to go earn it. I don’t care what your meter looks like. If you are standing in the flaming whirlwind while not using your interrupts, mitigation moves, stuns, et cetera then trust me, it is not the healer’s fault she has no mana.

Do you die a lot? Maybe swap in a tanking trinket for a mitigation cooldown. Or grind some first aid. If the healer is leaving your health low he might have decided you are too expensive and expendable to heal up. So pop a bandage and a potion and help him out. Above all you should be focusing on getting your skill at avoiding damage up. In fact you should be focusing on that concept more than you focus on getting better gear.

Now tanks and dps say it with me all together, “The healer’s mana is my responsibility.” Put it on a post-it note and stick it to your screen. Tattoo it on the back of your mouse hand. Learn it, know it, love it.

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My pit

Sorry for the picture quality. As I have mentioned…. the new version of the wordpress iphone app is totally garbage.

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 In this whole ‘situational awareness’ series I have focused on maneuvering your character. That is because the art of being situational aware starts with being about to see and interact with your environment. If you are constantly distracted with turning and moving then you will not have the mental bandwidth to also observe and assess your surroundings. The smoother and faster you can move and look the easier it will be to assess things. If you become disoriented or confused situational awareness goes right out the window. So let’s get to something a lot of people seem to have trouble with.

Maneuvering and navigating in three dimensions

This really messes up a lot of people. To be perfectly honest I have to use my imagination to figure out why. This is something I do instinctively. I think a lot of that comes from my IRL experience with flying and also a lot of gaming experience with flight simulators. So why does all that help? And why do other people have problems? Because there are concepts in 3D navigation and maneuvering that are not in a land based game. More accurately they ARE in the land based game but they are so simplified that you don’t notice them. The big one is…

Point of aim

Now some of you are thinking “that is not it. I have no problem with that concept.” Maybe that is true but this is the big difference in WOW with flying versus walking. On the ground you are only concerned with direction of your travel. You have several ways of seeing your direction of travel on the ground.

You can look at your character and compare it to the land around you on the screen.

You can mentally draw a line straight up the screen from your character and see where that points.

You can just vaguely estimate what is way in front of you.

You can look at the arrow on your mini map

You can also look at the arrow on your big map.

Those are all ways you can see where you are pointed…. But the BIG crutch comes from having the environment around you. What I mean is that you CONSTANTLY get little feedback from everything around you and that lets you continuously update your characters heading as you travel. Do you ever point your character in a direction, press the auto run, and then walk away from the keyboard? When you come back are you exactly where you expected to be? Do you take short cuts across country or do you always follow the road?

If you are mostly using your immediate surroundings to navigate and orient your character then you probably tend to follow the road exactly and you most likely rarely just aim across country and then go hit the head or grab a drink.

What I am trying to get you to think about is that list of methods above. Which of those do you use? It is something we do so instinctively that we might not know. Once we start flying some of those thing are taken away from us. If we were heavily using one of those the flying will cause a sense of disorientation. If we were relying heavily on one of the ones that did NOT go away then flying will be no different than anything else. That statement is a simplification but I hope it gets the point across.

So what is the list of nav aids for flying? How do we orient ourselves up there?

Well the map and mini map still work…. Except they are only in one axis. They help us navigate in a plane (geometric plane, not aeroplane) but they are no help for getting us oriented in the other axis.

What else? We can’t draw a line from our character to the top of the screen. It does not work right. We can’t compare constantly to the objects around us because they are far away and don’t give high fidelity feedback. What I mean is they don’t move fast enough and far enough to give us an instant awareness of where we are pointed. You have to look at them more closely and then check again and even then you are off track.

So what does work? Aim point. In flying your point of aim is king (just be glad we don’t have wind to deal with). BUT! Once you leave the ground your point of aim changes! I expect this really messes a lot of folks up that are new to flying.

Normally in this 3rd person view point game you have a camera that is behind and above you. It is NOT on your line of travel. It is above your line of travel and looking down at it. By line of travel I mean what it says. I mean the line you travel along on the ground.

In this picture the eye is your camera and the figure is your character. We are looking at it from the side. The person is running straight to the right and the camera is behind them and looking down at an angle. If you pan your camera all the way down to the ground you would be looking straight along that ‘line of travel’. The character would actually block you from seeing where you are going. Where you will eventually end up is straight ahead, through your character and off to the horizon.

This is how the camera works when flying! It goes from following you from above and behind to following you just straight behind. Except that it does not automatically move. Your character does the moving. The instant you take off on your dragon mount your character pitches forward ‘nose down’ and is aiming, not at the horizon, but into the ground a few yards in front of you. The first thing you do when taking off on your flying mount is to drop your camera down to your line of travel.

That is step one. The next step to travelling in the air is to stop key turning! Seriously! You can’t key turn while flying and expect to have any sort of awareness of where you are headed. When it comes to flying your right mouse button is everything. The only keys you need while flying are W and your right mouse button…. Well the space bar and X come in handy but I will get to that.

So here you are, flying. You hold down the right mouse button and hold down W and you are off. It is incredibly simple. You simply put your character on top of where you want to go. What I mean is that your direction of travel is though the mounted figure on your screen. If you are aimed at where you want to go that location will be in the dead center of your screen and covered up by your figure. Fortunately your figure is small enough that you can still tell where you are going. If your figure is NOT small enough then zoom out more. If you can’t zoom out enough go into the interface settings and crank up your max camera follow distance.

Navigating Oculus.

If you are one of those that is constantly getting lost in Oculus I recommend trying to ‘break it down’. Think of the place as a building with 4 floors. Each floor is made up of all the floaty platforms that are roughly on the same level as each other. Each floor has things you need to clear and a boss at the end.

The first floor is the ring you start off on It includes the ‘C’ shaped ring and the platform where you get your dragon.

 Once you get your mount you immediately go to the ‘second floor’. This ‘floor’ is made up of a ‘C’ shaped ring in the center and 3 platforms equally spaced around it. Two of those platforms have packs to kill and one has the boss. As soon as you spot which the boss is on your know exactly where to find the two with packs. You clear all the stuff on that floor and then do the boss.

As soon as you are done with him it is time to go straight up to floor three. Make it easier on yourself; just hold down spare bar until you get there. This floor has three ‘arc shaped’ platforms and a central ring. The ring is slightly lower than the platforms. The ring also has a second ring that is right below it but we don’t care about that one so don’t let it confuse you; just ignore it. If you go STRAIGHT up from the last boss you will be right next to the platform you need to start one. From there you just go clockwise around to the other two and then from the last one you go straight into the center ring to find the boss.

Now you are on to the fourth and final floor. To get there just fly out a decent ways from the boss you just killed and then hold down spacebar until you reach the top. This ‘floor’ is made of three tiny platforms and one BIG wide ring. The dragon flies in circles over the big ring. Most groups meet up at one of the small platforms so find the, meet up, and finish the place off.

This is a classic example of breaking something big and confusing into bites-size bits that are all understandable and all together form a simple pattern. You can avoid the confusion of the ‘3D-ness’ of the place by breaking it down into mental bite sizes that are all in 2D.

Navigating exercises.

Practicing navigation is easy but should be done anytime you have the chance. It is very simple. Start traveling somewhere. Aim where you are trying to go by comparing the horizon, mini map, and main map to your direction of travel. Do all that aiming stuff right up front. Then don’t touch the controls. Just watch and see how well your aiming worked. Allow yourself just one ‘mid course correction’ when you are about half way to your destination. How far off are you when you get there? Try doing it with no correction and challenge yourself to get it right every time.

If you don’t have an excuse to fly around, go to Icecrown and grind various daily quests. There are tons of them there and at max level they are good money. Just pick a few that you know you can do fast and easily and then run them. As you move between thempractice this exercise.

Maneuvering exercises.

Exercise 1: Buzz the tower.

This is for if you are not use to the concept of ‘flying’ your character by continuously holding down the right mouse button. Fly low. Buzz things. Try to get close to them without landing or hitting them. Once you fly past it make a wide turn and sing back for another pass.

Exercise 2: Aerial Slaloms.

Go find a forest. Western Dragonblight works. Fly low between the trees. Weave in and out between them. Now do it while trying to fly generally in the same direction. I mean try to keep going east while still weaving in and out. Even go around trees you don’t really NEED to dodge. Go out of your way to go around trees. But still try to work your way in a general direction. If the ‘weaving’ is too tough don’t worry about the ‘general direction’ thing. Just weave until you run out of trees and then turn around and go again. Feel free to use AQE and D to maneuver sideways a little. In fact be sure to mess with those some.

Exercise 3: Static Bombing Runs.

There are a number of quests and repeatable missions in the game involving dropping bombs on people, demons, fish, pirates, siege weapons, etc. These are great flying and situational awareness practice.  Why? Because they require you to maneuver your camera independent of your direction for travel and track targets with it as you perform a basic attack. That is great. For an advanced version that is still a static run (by static I mean you don’t control the path; it just follows a fixed path) you can do the dailies in Icecrown. The one where you drop off paratroopers is pretty unforgiving; so that is a good challenge. The bomber base up on the spire is also a good one for advanced practice. Those have bombing and air-to-air action so they require more situational awareness.

Exercise 4: dynamic bombing runs.

These are ones where you are maneuvering your mount, avoiding counter attack, AND bombing something. The two I can think of off the top of my head are both Skyguard daily quests. One is in Terokar to bomb eggs and the other is in Blade’s Edge and is bombing piles of ammo at the demon base. Both of those are far simpler than Northrend mounted combat but still require the situational awareness skills. You have to maneuver your mount, dodge in various directions and keep an eye on your health while still finding the targets and hitting them.

Exercise 5: All-Out Flying Combat.

In dragonblight there is a nice dragon flying daily. Also high above Coldarra there is a daily quest involving flying dragons that is pretty challenging. Both of them do not require a group so it is a low pressure way to practice your skills.

Cataclysm will have even more flying than ever so get your practice in when and where you can.

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My first main was a mage, through all of BC and a bit of Wrath. I love my little gnome mage – still do. Throwing fireballs at peoples’ heads is fun. At the end of BC Reversion and I leveled a pair of druids and I started healing as we went. Once we hit Outlands we basically leveled in dungeons with me healing and him tanking. Analogue the druid was my first healer character; I hadn’t played other games with the dps-healer-tank trio, I didn’t know that I’d like healing, so it was a surprise when one day I woke up and realized that not only was this druid my main, I was a Healer with a capital H.

I leveled  a paladin up as ret/prot, tanking my way to the top. Then I realized I needed her offset to be Holy. I still like tanking 5 mans on her – I don’t enjoy trying to heal parties as a paladin – but when I raid? I want to heal. Beacon, Shield, Holy Light spam is more fun than whacking things in the face and taunt-at-five-stacks.

I have a priest at 72, a shaman at 60, both dual specced, both with one really solid healing spec and one questing-dps spec. They are my most anticipated leveling projects. I want all four healing classes at max, and I’m not the only player I know with that desire. I read the druid news coming out of Cataclysm beta and I’m afraid I won’t like druid healing, so what is my reaction? Not “ok, maybe I’ll be balance” but “ok, maybe I’ll be a shaman.” My identity is not as a druid, but as a healer.

Why? I’m not really the most nurturing person ever. Actually I’m more of a bossy older sister who knows what’s good for you and will tell you so. I’m not an angel of mercy, swooping in and soothing your brow; I’m the “you screwed that up; here’s a bandage now get in there and do it right” battlefield medic.

I heal because I can fix everyone elses’ mistakes in ways that dps and tank roles don’t let you do; because I have to micromanage everything; because I can count on myself and never feel like I can count on every single other person in the raid. That’s why I like raid healing, too; when I see those dps health bars drop I want to swoop in and Swiftmend them.  It’s why I pug, even though I have to deal with morons. I heal through stupid, because I can and because honestly I expect it.

I heal because it’s binary; they live or they die. Eaking out 10 more dps doesn’t appeal to me. Striving to keep one more person alive, that does.

I heal because it’s more fun. It’s more complicated than switching to adds, or waiting for phase 2 to drop your cooldowns. Second to second, the situation changes and you don’t have time to breath or someone dies.

I heal because apparently I’m perfectly content to stare at a matrix of health bars instead of the lavishly-designed boss fights. Perhaps in another life I would have been a whack-a-mole champion.

I heal because I feel like part of a team, taking things down; when you aren’t actually smiting the evil, it’s harder to forget that the other people in your group matter.

I heal because it’s the most fun part of the most fun game I’ve ever played and until something can be as fun as this, I’m not likely to switch.

Yeah, some of those are contradictory, some of those don’t make sense – but gosh darn it,I love healing! And no matter what they do in Cataclysm I know one of my alts will find a niche to shine in. Maybe it’s the hour of the disc priest or the resto shammy?

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Let them die!

You yank it you tank it!

Ever thought those? If you have done any decent amount of tanking then yeah, you have. Even if you did not give in to the temptation you probably wanted to. Every time you got some jerkwad not watching his threat and pulling you probably wanted to let them die. I have let more than a couple such people die. But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the OTHER times you let people pull aggro and die.

Look, you can’t hold all the aggro all the time. I know, I know a good tank tries. Yes. I said as much in other posts. And a really good tank has a shot at pulling that noble goal off. But sometimes you just can’t. Most non-tanks might not agree, most non-tanks probably have never tried to hold aggro when you get an accidental extra pack, a patrol from the rear and some trigger happy DPSers critting their butts off.

Triage

The art of putting your efforts where it is most needed even if it means letting something else slip. This concept applies a lot to healers. Often they have to decide where that critical heal is going and who needs it most. However, when it comes to tanking we get in the same boat. It is very often we have to decide which of two or more targets to taunt and which to throw AOES at. Which to target for some extra hits and which to let run away from us.

Some of you are saying ‘I don’t do that! I just round them all up!’ Ah, but you do. You decide which to round up first and which to wait a GCD for. Or which to wait on your taunt cooldown. You might round them all up EVENTUALLY.  But there are always going to be a few moments where something is not on you. Often that something is going to have a chance to take a swing at one of your party.

With healing triage you heal the people that need it the most AND are most critical to the over all team. Keep the tank up, keep yourself up, keep that really solid caster over there alive. Let the noob DK get smacked around for a while. It does not mean you are letting them die, though sometimes that happens.

Tanking triage works the same, even if we don’t usually think of it that way. Moment to moment, we the tanks, decide what threat moves to use and where. When things go to heck we are deciding on the fly what to taunt and what targets to use what moves on.

Like healing triage this is not something a new tank is likely to do. Like a new healer a new tank will simply throw around what aggro they can and play whack a mole with targets that pull off of them. As you get more experience you develop a system and a sense for what taunts and threats to use where.

Why we triage

The point of triage is that we don’t want to waste our efforts in places where they do no good. Taunting the add on that ret pally is less useful than taunting that add that is hitting the healer. Things like that. If we take the time to taunt off both, something else might pull off of us. Also if we taunt off the pally first the healer could die. A tank that is not actively deciding what triage to do might just simply taunt the first one he notices. In a really bad situation that could lead to a wipe.

Your Priorities

Healer

The top priority is always the healer. That person absolutely needs to not be getting hammered. You have to taunt off them as fast as you can… mostly. If more than one target is going after your healer it might be best use of your precious time to move the fight toward them and use some more AOE. Some of your more exotic ‘oh crap’ moves may need to be saved for the healer alone.

Soft DPS… sometimes

Many soft DPS are either fast with their ‘oh crap’ moves or they are dead. Mages are the big example here. They actually have a lot of moves for saving their own lives. Based on my experience they don’t remember they have half of them and they are usually to slow with the ones they DO remember.

Soft DPS are important to save… except they are probably dead by the time you need to save them. So if you can’t get them in time, cut your losses and let them go. No reason to waste a taunt cooldown taunting a critter that has already finished off your friend in the pointy hat.

Bosses

You have to keep the boss on you. Really.

Adds… sometimes

Most of the time adds have no real threat built up yet so you don’t need a whole taunt to get them to come to you. Still it is better to get some of them on you any way you can.

Adds are usually in a pack. And adds are usually going after someone that is not you (at first). Which means someone is about to bet blasted. So you need to soften that blow as fast as you can. Taunting one of the adds as they come at you is a good way to do it. So is getting closer and throwing AOE. Whatever you can do. This is more important than taunting off of people that just are doing too much threat.  Why? Threat pullers are usually pulling one target. And they usually do it often enough that the healer and the person doing it are ready for it. The healer may NOT be ready for the mage in the back to get omnomnomed by a whole pack of tiny velociraptors.

Adds happen. Dealing with them fast and effectively is the mark of a good tank. When adds happen is when a weak tank/group wipes. So the faster and more effetely you can deal with the changing situation the better. You want to round up those things so fast and tie up their threat so tight that most of the party does not even realize you got any adds.

When NOT to taunt off.

A big challenge in tanking is to not get tunnel vision. If you panic when you see a target pull off you then you stand a very good chance of losing threat on another target. Focusing on that first one caused you to miss a threat move or two and not keep building up your aggro on everyone else. So it is important to know when NOT to worry too much about a target ignoring you.

Taunt off of other dps…. Rarely.

I mean really, why bother? Melee DPS are mostly plate wearers and rogues. Plate can take a few hits and if a rogue can’t dump their own aggro they aren’t worth your taunt cooldown anyway.

And hey, the more threat that DPSer builds up before you taunt the more threat you will have after you taunt.

Hunters, just about never taunt off them. Seriously, feign death and misdirect? What the heck else can anyone need?

Don’t throw threat moves to save someone if there is a higher priority issue. Don’t taunt off that melee DPS if you have not sewed up that pack of adds with enough AOE yet. Early in a fight AOE is more important than taunting. Let me say that again…

EARLY IN A FIGHT AOE THREAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAUNTING

If someone pulls off you early and you stop some AOE to get that target back you are highly likely to lose someone else. Don’t do that.

I will get back to that in a second…

What moves to use when

Moves like Intervene, deathgrip and that one that taunts three targets that pallies get. Maybe you save those for the healer and maybe you don’t. It depends on how often you need them and what the chances of getting adds is.

It depends on your play style as well and what your personal strengths are. You don’t want to save a move for saving the healer if you never can remember where you put that obscure hotkey. If you can’t hit it fast and easy then it is not the right move to pick when saving a high criticality target. A lesser move fast is better than an uber move too late. You need to get to know your more obscure options and try them out BEFORE you need them. If you are not use to using something then it will let you down when you need it.

Some ‘oh crap’ type moves need macros to use them most effectively. Even if you don’t use macros for much consider using them for a few critical things as needed. In another post someday I will cover ‘oh crap’ moves and when to use them. Your main categories are these.

-AOE threat

-Focused threat (might be more than one target still)

-Taunts

-‘Other’ oh crap moves.

Here are your top priorities as the fight changes…

1) Opening instant of the fight:

->Get some small amount of threat on EVERY target.

2) First few seconds of the fight

->Build up a lot of threat on the target or targets your party is focusing on.

->Build up some AOE threat on every target

3) Middle and late stages of the fight

->stabilize any situation that developed early on.

->round up targets that pull off you

->watch for adds

4) End of battle

->stop runners

->check on your healer

->plan your next move

Notice how your focus and priority changes. Also that phase three one ‘->stabilize any situation that developed early on’ is a big area. It might be that your health is going down to fast, or that someone is off in a corner soloing something. It could be a lot of things. But you can’t get distracted by those until you have done the ground work early in the fight. By the time targets are half dead you could almost stop tanking entirely and the fight will end favorably. It is those critical first few seconds your agro generation has to be a high priority. It still matters later. But later, if you drop threat on a target or two, it is unlikely to cause a wipe. If you do that early on it is quite likely to cause a wipe.

Order of business in the triage world.

Stabilize the patient

The party is your patient. If you have to amputate (let someone die) to keep the whole body alive, do it. The first thing to do is to stabilize the situation. What I said about getting to a pack of adds fast? That was stabilizing the situation. Taunting off someone is the same. It is that initial minimum thing you need to do for things to stop being ‘bad’. Even if for just a moment. This can take many forms. Lots of ‘oh crap’ moves are good for stabilizing different situations. AOE force attack moves are great for buying you a few seconds of stability. Antimagic shell is a bit of a stabilizing move, if the issue you have is magic related. Shockwave’s area effect stun is a nice little stabilizing move if timed right.

Assess the situation

This happens in a nano second. If you are having trouble with assessing the problem might be that you are having situational awareness issues. I can’t cover those here so go read other posts :P

Part of assessing is measuring the situation against what you are personally capable of. Can you handle a pack of adds that big? What would have to happen in order for you to survive? Can you keep agro on those casters over there and still keep the big melee all under control? If you can’t handle the situation as it is, what would have to change about it for you to be able to handle it?

Prioritize

See above. You have to decide what area needs your attention the most and focus on that. If there is something you have to do to get things under control, do it. If there are things that are getting in the way of you getting control, stop doing those. Now is the time to do what you KNOW will win the fight. Don’t play threat tug-a-war with an over geared DPSer if you think something else about the fight is at risk.

Cut your losses

Let people die that are going to do. The most important thing in the world is that at the end of the fight one of your party with a rez spell is still standing. Everything else is optional. Sometimes this means you the tank have to die to buy time for the rest of the party. So be it. Your survival is optional. Failure is not optional so be certain that whatever you do, SOMEONE that can rez is alive at the end.

Usually this means you need to preserve yourself, the healer, and one decent DPS. As long as those live you can usually finish things. Sometimes you might be the last one standing or you might only be able to save the healer. Triage is about making the tough choices fast so that the whole survives.

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ME109’s shot down -8
Hurricane’s – 0

 We win! Wait… no… Wrong RAF.

Refer a Friend is over. Well it is almost over for the account I had linked up. Analogue still has a month or so on hers. Actually I am not sure exactly how long. We had better check that. We don’t want a repeat of last night.

You see, earlier this week we realized my RAF was about to run out. I was SURE it was not going to be gone until a week from this coming Sunday. I was all set to have a weekend marathon of leveling up the last couple alts. Because it ended early I am left with a couple alts short of the finish line and some a long way away. Still, the results of this RAF stint are nothing to sneeze at.

–Note: I use the term ‘offside’ to mean a character you are playing in addition to your ‘main’. That character usually gets less attention and is used less efficiently compared to the ‘main’.

Despite not playing much in the last few weeks and my miscalculation of the end date I still have a lot to show for it. I now have the following alts.

Mage – 60

This was the first RAF we did. It was leveled as a pair with Analogue on a warlock. That went ok. You can kill things fairy fast. The mage can provide food for both and then lock can do a little pet tanking. But this pair does lack the ability to survive serious ‘oh crap’ situations. It does have a lot of AOE later on though. You just have to employ in carefully and not bite off too much.

Shaman – 61

This one was also leveled mostly as a pair. It was mostly with a paladin. That makes a very solid combo. We have used that pairing now about 3 times and it works well. It was leveled as a combination of Resto and Elemental. Despite the bad press it gets Elemental is actually fairly good for leveling. It is quite good if you are leveling in a pair or with a lot of LFD.

Rogue – 58

This one was level mostly using the ‘grant level’. Hence I have not played it much and don’t really know how it works. Oh well. I have done some Hellfire with it. It is geared for the outlands and ready to level.

Hunter – 55 (just a bit short of the goal)

At some point Analogue and I suddenly decided that leveling as a pair was silly and we should be doing quads. We talked a bit more about this in the posts we did earlier. This hunter was part of the first ‘quad’ set we did. My offside partner was a druid. My wife Analogue was running a Shaman and an ‘offside’ pally. This set worked well with the hunter doing as much damage (with heirlooms) as everyone else put together. This set showed us some things. For one we did not need that many healers in one party. Also hunters make very good choices for the ‘offside’. With a hunter you can get a large fraction of their damage output with just one button press. Just autoshot and petattack put out a lot of damage for almost no effort.

Priest – 50

This was my ‘main’ in our second ‘quad’ set. My offside was a hunter. Analogue was running a mage main and hunter offside. This quad was very solid. I spec-ed the priest disc and was able to toss out some instant cast heals and shields as needed. Stuff died fast. I mean stuff just sort of exploded when we looked at it. And with dual tanking pets (bears) we had all sorts of off tanking. That first ‘quad’ was durable but this was durable and also cranked out the damage. As you all know killing stuff fast is its own sort of ‘durable’. So the survivability was actually better with this pair. If things got bad we did not lose as much dps or healing. Actually things almost never got bad because stuff died so fast. This quad got to just over 30 before we realized we were out of time. I got the priest to 50 using level grants.

Warrior – 44

This one was mostly level grants. It was paired with an alt of Analogue before we turned RAF on.

Pally – 17

Warlock – 4

Both of these were where I tossed the last few grantable levels. I wanted to get them higher but the time miscalculation got in the way.

Conclusions

If you have two people that want the RAF rocket and lots of alts, do them both together as quads.

Quads work much easier If you can do one or more of the following:

-Have a second computer. Set up some macros to control a few key abilities and pick a class like a hunter that does not need a lot of attention to be helpful in a party.

-Get a program that does synchronization between game instances on one PC. Pick two of the same class and level them as a set.

-Or, use an offside character that you can mostly ignore. /follow and forget.

Other realizations include the following:

-Heirlooms are fine. Use them on if you want. Just be ready to skip a few quests on that one to keep it synced with the other account.

-You ‘main’ and your ‘offside’ do NOT have to match which one is the disposable RAF account and which is your real account. You can control the disposable character and have your heirloom geared alt on /follow. This actually helps when you want to just do the collect type quests on the non-heirloomed one.

-If you want to you can easily get 1 of every class leveled up with a single use of RAF. We did a lot of slacking and still leveled a ton of alts.

Next up we will be doing some experimenting with trios and pairs as we finish out Analogue’s RAF period. I think there is a few weeks left on it… pardon me while I go check.

Last night we cleaned out all the little alts in the disposable account and got it ready to sleep. Battle.net says I have until 8pm tonight… whenever that is. So I plan to try and get a few more levels on the priest. Since all the alts are gearless I will do it by running instances and then afterward standing next to a nekid RAF alt while I turn the quests in. That way my wonderful wife can keep killing Zerg while I put this thing to rest. I will let you know how it goes.

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If, Rudyard Kipling

First stanza of Kipling’s famous poem should probably be on a sticky note on every healer’s monitor. I’m not saying that the other roles in the game don’t require laser like focus and attention to detail, but I know I personally have to be totally in the groove every GCD to heal at the top of my game. On my mage? Hit Arcane Blast a billion times, pop cooldowns when they’re available, don’t stand in fire. On my druid? Watch for who needs a heal, who needs an emergency cooldown, who is about to take damage and should be Rejuv’d … and still stay out of the fire.

More than that, I don’t know if it’s a me thing or a healer thing but if I’m healing the raid and we wipe, I feel guilty. Really guilty. Like “that was all my fault if only I’d been a better healer that wouldn’t have happened.” I don’t feel nearly as bad tanking, and dps? Psssh, not my fault. I did my job. But when I’m healing, I feel like I ought to be doing everyone else’s, too.

And what about when people are saying it’s your fault? Do you just let them, or get defensive, or even say “yeah, it was me”? Like the poem says – you have to trust yourself, but if everyone is saying it’s your fault, you have to look at yourself and make sure that’s not true. Not trusting yourself will lead to wipes. So will not trusting your partners – the other healers, the tanks, the dps. A druid throwing Nourish on a tank when she should be trusting her Disco priest buddy can wipe the raid easily – or save the day if the priest got distracted. What do you do?

So: some specific strategies that I use. What do you use? I’m always looking for new tips.

Keep a Cool Head – learn to accept and react to a situation rather than panic. Important when you’re out of mana and the tank just aggroed two more pats. If you panic, you die. If you can quickly prioritize your problems and do things in the right order, you live. Slap a shield or an instant HOT on the tank, blow your “get mana back” cooldown, drop a big cooldown on the tank to get him back up, and play triage.

Zen and the Art of Raid Maintenance – watch the raid like a mama bird watches her stupid, half-blind, flightless chicks. They’re going to try to fall out of the nest, choke themselves on half-eaten worms, and go play with that friendly hawk perched at the top of the tree. Don’t let ‘em, but don’t get mad at them when they do. Heal through the stupid because you can.

Screw it, I don’t care if the mage dies – the opposite of the above. After the nth time that warlock life taps right before combat or the mage runs away from the tank in order to frost nova mobs right by you – they’re too stupid to live. Think of it as evolution in action. Let them die that others may live. Mentally pretend their health bar is already gone, stop wasting mana on them, and concentrate on the tank and the ones who aren’t being stupid.

Honestly, if you’d just read “Hogwarts, A History” – know the fights better than anyone else. This is important if you’re pugging but comes in handy if your raid leader is one of those odd ones who doesn’t know doesn’t care about healing stuff (like the first time I fought Saurfang, the Disc priest asked if there was a strategy for her and was told to ‘just shield the tanks'; we didn’t down him that night but if the raid leader had known to have her drop shields on the Marked victims too, we might have.) The theory here is that by knowing the fight, you can drop hints to others on your healing team and then, assuming they do as you say, you don’t have to worry about them. I’m guilty of not doing this as thoroughly as I should; to date I still haven’t actually, you know, watched an LK fight video. /embarassed

It’s easy enough to discuss strategies like this but implementing them is something else entirely. For that, I practice in 5 mans. Deliberately keep your mana low so you can learn to assess priorities and how to regain mana fast when you need to. Let a warlock die (it’s good for their souls anyway). Think two steps ahead of your party members and have them shielded or hotted before they take damage.

The most challenging situation I think a healer can be in, as far as state of mind goes, is the pug raid healing job, where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Often you won’t know anyone, or many, in the raid. The leader may or may not know anything about healing. Your healing team may not be optimal and probably hasn’t worked together. You can make one of two fatal mindset errors here: you can decide it’s all up to you, or you can decide it’s all up to them. In fact it’s neither. You are not responsible for the success of the raid as a whole, but you are responsible for doing your part.

One thing I’ve often found in pug raids is that the leader will give some vague directions like “druid heal ranged shammy heal melee pally on tanks”. Ok… but how do you easily tell ranged from melee? Nobody sorts groups these days… Well, I have Vuhdo set to show “class colors” as the health bar for each person in the raid. So mages are light blue, paladins are pink, etc. I can instantly tell class by looking at my Vuhdo setup. Makes following that sort of vague instruction easier.

I’ll whisper other people on the healing team and ask relevant questions. If I’m on my paladin and there’s another holy pally, I’ll ask “Who are you Beaconing?” and then Beacon the other tank. If there’s another druid, I’ll set up Rejuv priorities (“You do groups 2 and 3, I’ll do 4 and 5, both of us do tanks”).

Anyway, those are my strategies. Anyone have any they can share?

And if all else fails, and your concentration goes to hell and you lose it entirely – well, the run back from the graveyard is a perfect time to practice your deep breathing and work on your patience.

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