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Archive for the ‘Pug’ Category

I transferred my prot/holy pally to Argent Dawn to play in SAN Sunday afternoon. I’ve recently gotten her Holy gear at least viable. It was a weird mishmash of ilvl 200 blues and 251 purples for a while but oh well. Anyway SAN went to Naxx and I decided to to raid heal. I’ve done a few heroics but this was my first raid.

I set Vuhdo up (or so I thought) to show Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield and set my mouse click bindings and we were ready to go. Or not; as we started clearing trash I realized that Vuhdo wasn’t showing me what I needed to know. I like having my raid frames set to show class colors and have the bars correspond to health. So as the person takes damage his health bar gets less full, very intuitive. Well it wasn’t doing that; the bars were just sitting there, a dull dirty color. I knew why things were screwy – Vuhdo recently released version 2.0 and I haven’t figured out all the tricks, and since I’d just transferred servers all my settings were off. It took two bosses to figure out what was going on since you can’t change Vuhdo settings while you’re in combat (argh). Anyway I need to find resources for the new version of Vuhdo and link them because some of the changes were not intuitive. (If anyone had the same problem I did, it turned out I needed to select the “Health bar/class color” option on the Panels > Bars page, in one of the dropdowns there.)

That angst over, I settled into healing. I Beaconed the lesser geared tank and spammed heals on the other tank (Reversion’s second druid Consolidate was one of the tanks and a guildy Warrior, Craghammer, the other), just like my paladin research told me to do.

For a while I just spammed Holy Light but I started running out of mana so I had to remember to go Judge Wisdom and take some swings at whoever we were fighting whenever I could. That helped a lot. Then I tried using Flash of Light, since the tanks weren’t taking that much damage, and that worked pretty well too. I kept forgetting about that instant cast heal spell thing. Somehow paladin healing feels like it should just be spamming heals. Instant casts were throwing me off.

It was a lot of fun running old content with the SAN folks. We chatted on Vent and had a good time (and this being a blogging guild, Vent chatter included discussion of Wow demographics, whether women played healers more, as well as just strategy)

I failed at Heigan dancing – I’ll justify myself and say I *thought* I was a step forward of where I was when I stopped to cast a heal. I’m not used to not being able to heal on the run. Then I missed the jump from the platform at Thaddius – twice. Oops. Good thing the raid overgeared the place!

And we wiped spectacularly on the Horsemen, once, as we tried figuring out a strategy. We’d been nine manning it up to then because one of our pugged folks went afk after the first boss and got kicked. After that wipe one of our other puggers disappeared without a word, so we grabbed two more random people and finished the Horsemen off. No problem. Not even an interesting fight.

One of the new folks wanted to tank, so Reversion went heals and Enyss, who had been healing, went boomkin. We went upstairs, killed a dragon, and then took down Kel’Thuzad. Boom! Achievement completed! Actually that was my first Naxx full clear in one session. I didn’t really get into raiding until ToC came out. Even massively overgearing the content, it was an accomplishment. Still, I found the first few fights while I was getting used to paladin healing most interesting than later on. There’s just no sense of danger in Naxx these days, not unless you take off gear and nobody is willing to do that. It’s fun seeing the old fights but – they’re dated, and that’s sort of sad.

Monday night we took Consolidate and Divergent to a TOC pug. The pug took a while to form and they had trouble deciding what they wanted me to do. I ended up healing, along with Consolidate and another paladin, this one far better geared than me, if snotty. This was a full pug, nobody else from SAN along, and on the worms literally half the raid dies, including Consolidate.

Well both tanks are up and so are the paladin healers so I check that I’ve got one tank beaconed and the other pally has the other tank and I start spamming Flash of Light on the rest. The one dps’er and the two tanks. Yeah. We down the worms without too much trouble and in comes Icehowl.

It turns out that as long as the healers don’t run out of mana, Icehowl is kind of easier with only five people because there’s less chance of someone getting trampled. It took us ten minutes to down him but nobody got trampled even once, nobody else died, and I didn’t even run low on mana. I’d used pretty much nothing but Flash of Light and the other paladin commented something about how he was doing most of the healing. I said nothing, but by the end of the run, yes, Other Pally had almost 50% of the heals (versus Consolidate and myself) but was also beating Consolidate on overhealing. Beating a druid at overhealing doesn’t say much. AND he was keeping people way too high on phase 3 Anub… but that didn’t matter. We steamrolled TOC, I picked up some upgrades for Divergent’s healing set, getting her to almost that psychologically important 5k gearscore. She’s definitely ICC viable in both specs now.

Anyway I love the versatility of the paladin. Paladin tanking is a lot of fun in 5 mans, although I find raid tanking boring. You get to set the pace, be the leader, in 5 mans, but in raids you just get hit in the face. I’d rather heal, where it feels like you’re helping out everyone else on the team to get their job done. Kind of like being a cheerleader. Only, you know, useful. And with better outfits.

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A recent post over at Ecclesiastical Discipline got me thinking again about how people react to ‘advice’. I had noticed a few things about it and thought I would share.

How to give ‘helpful advice’ in a way that gets optimum results

Everyone has probably heard the words ‘don’t tell me how to play my class’. If not that then you are sure to have heard some of the many of the other ‘witty’ things people say in response to being told of their failings. Even if you don’t regularly dispense advice you probably saw someone else do it and get rebuffed (not in the good way).

But first off…

Why give advice at all?

Because people really really need it. No you are not being helpful or polite by not saying anything. There MANY aspects to the game that are not instantly obvious. It was originally designed by gamers and fore gamers. Yeah it was easy to get into but certain concepts it was just assumed that you knew or would figure out. You might not believe how many times I have run into hunters with growling pets who did not KNOW how to turn it off. They thought pulling it off the pet bar was turning it off. I have had to explain the little glowing border and how to right click the icon to more than one level 80 hunter. This was something that was obvious to me and I figured out by messing with things somewhere around level 10 or 11 on my first hunter many years ago. It was obvious…. To me. But to huge numbers of people WOW is their first serious computer game. They just don’t know this stuff. Maybe they are 12, maybe they are dumb as a post or maybe they simply have found a play style that works and have not messed around with ever possible button.

It is only going to get worse. The increased need for CC in Cata is going to be ‘interesting’. I have a feeling huge numbers of players out there don’t know what CC skills their character even has to say nothing of being able to use them right.

But if they will not listen anyway? Why do it?

Because so of them WILL listen. And some of those that don’t will remember. I still remember the firs warrior tank that told me to stop tanking with my hunter pet. Did I listen? Hell no! What does a warrior know about huntering? Nothing! But I remembered it. And much later when I rolled a tank the depths of my transgressions were laid out before me by the unfolding of my memory. I wept. Well not really but I did regret being a jerk. Slightly.

I also still remember when a guild officer told me if I could not hold agro 100% of the time no matter what I should just delete. I had a snarky comeback and went away grumbling about his elitist attitude and abrasive personality. And then a bit later I got over it and started challenging myself to do just what he said. Now I try to make zero excuses and push myself harder than ever to hold agro at all times and in all places.

My point is even when you get a hostile reaction you never know what the long term effect might be. Don’t be afraid of adversity. The other person can use your help. Those hundreds of other poor puggers that are going to run with the moron later need your help too.

They have to hear it some day

It is important that people hear a complaint even if they don’t respond well. More than a few times I have gotten the response of ‘NO other tank ever told me to stop doing that BEFORE’. They say it as if that is ironclad disproof of my complaint. It isn’t of course, but if any other tank had bothered to ask them to stop death gripping, or frostnova-ing, or cyclone, or using typhoon, etc, then I might have had an easier time getting them to stop. Since everyone else was being ‘polite’ the player assumed that it was ok behavior.

That is how we find our limits. By pushing them until we get in trouble. If every healer just shut up and chugged potions then how was the tank to know he was setting a pace that was too fast? This is why we have to actually SAY something.

But how?

Giving advice for maximum effect

Prove you know something first

If I am tanking and see someone messing up on the first pull it is hard not to say something. Buuut, If I say something right away I am pretty likely to get a bad response. I know I know way more than them but THEY don’t… yet. If I wait until half way though the run, after I have done some crazy hard stuff and saved the day a time or two then they are much more likely to take a suggestion politely. They know for certain that I can do my job so they are more likely to believe I might also know theirs. They also know that I am not just whining to excuse bad tanking.

If I complain about people pulling off me at the start of a run there is a good chance (in their minds) that I can’t hold agro in a bucket. It is better if I wait and show by my actions that I CAN hold agro and I can even taunt stuff off of them repeatedly. Now they KNOW I am not just whining to cover my failings and they are more likely to tone things down. Even if I worded the ‘advice’ the same way both times, the timing of it and the situation can really change how people take it.

I have had this happen. Where I gave some advice early, got a very hostile reaction, including swearing. Then later in the run, after demonstrating a little of some ‘uber’ to the newish 80 they got aaaallll polite and friendly and even thanked me for advice.

Keep it short

If you halt in the middle of a run to give a dissertation on the meaning of frostnova in dynamic tactical environment chances are you are going to be dismissed as a crank. Keep advice compact.

Be polite

No personal attacks. Telling someone their rotation is suboptimal is not the same as calling them a noob. Yeah, people might blow up at even the most polite advice, but almost no one will responds to insults. Sometimes they do but most people will retaliate instead. It is a reflex action and it inhibits the listening.

Don’t let it hold up the run

Don’t stop the whole thing to give a dissertation. Unless the offense is really grievous then you should keep things going.

Be clear

Don’t get clever, obtuse or overly sarcastic. If the player was subtle and witty they might already have figured the problem out already. If you make your comment to obscure or tangential then you are likely to get a blank stare response.

Focus the advice on what they should DO

Include some of the ‘why’ if you have to, or if they ask. It important to get straight to the point. If you throw out a comment on the nature of ‘threat’ that is not the same is simply telling them ‘only use taunts after something pulls off you’. If you have to back something up to make it clear then do it but don’t start off when a lot of obscure ‘why’ before you get to the point of the ‘what’.

Back up your points with tools as needed

Recount is good when used right. One thing I sometimes do is toss out the recount, point out that someone should be able to get 1000 more dps and then mention checking google for some good blogs or going to ‘elististjerks’. Short, right to the point, backed up by data, and including a path to fix things. No big debate on rotations or a lot of QQ. Something like that is more likely to get a favorable response than just telling them how much they are a noob and should drop.

Don’t argue with idiots

They say don’t argue with idiots or they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience (at being an idiot). Don’t get drawn in. Try to avoid the burning need to have the last word. Get right back to the game and let your actions show you know your stuff.

Channel the Stupidity

You could spend half the run arguing with the DK about his compulsive grip habit… or you could just ask him to use it on the casters in the back. Some people are going to insist on being dumb. Think like Judo. You use the weight of your opponent against them by redirecting it. You don’t try to absorb a punch or a kick, you harness it and redirect its energy. Is the hunter someone who apparently has nothing in the spell book except ‘volley?’ Pull slightly larger groups and make use of that aoe. Mage can’t figure out how sheep is suppose to work? Don’t set your pulls up to need it. Side step the stupidity and either let it harmlessly pass by, or grab it and direct it at something useful.

 This is the difference between banging your head on a wall and looking for the door. Sometimes you can’t knock down the wall so find another way. If you KNOW that moron hunter is not going to stop pulling then use it as taunt timing practice. If the Boomkin has a typhoon fetish, ask if he can use it only when things are at 20% or less. Some people are far more likely to accept advice like that than they are to listen to a rant on while their favorite toy is stupid and evil.

There are probably many other tips out there for dealing with pugs while trying to be constructive. These are just the few I could think of.

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The last couple weeks have been pretty active for us in game. Not that we are playing any more than usual. In fact with the nasty stomach bug we got last week and the house guest over the weekend we have been playing less. But we have gotten into several decent raids and our personal gears and progression has been good.

Friday I got into a mostly guild ICC 10 and we made good progress. Then Saturday we had another go of that lockout and I ended up 10/12. It was only the second time I had seen the blood council and the first for both the queen and frostwyrm.  That 20% buff is pretty killer and makes things a good bit more forgiving. We dropped Saurfang with NO marks up. It was a surprise to me. Nothing like running with (mostly) alts of the number one guild to keep fights nice and tight.. With the buff only going up I am betting from here on out having any marks at all will just prove your group has a lot of fail.

The Friday session of that raid was interesting. It was the first time Analogue and I have been the two tanks in a 10 man. Well it was only her second time raid tanking at all. She did not make it  to the continuation so sadly she is still 8/12. But now that I have seen the next couple there is better chance we can get there in a pug of our own creation. We are still alternating between pugs we built ourselves, mostly guild groups put together by someone else, and other people’s runs we find in /trade.

She still prefers healing but Analogue is not now a very solid tank. It was a ton of fun tanking with the OT being right there in the same room. It made for a very quiet Vent but very smooth tanking. Quite probably the best taunt trading I have experienced on Saurfang (hence no marks). We have done a lot of raids with one or both of us DPSing, tanking and healing in a pair and both of us healing but the dual tanks was a new one.

We got in a 25 man ICC pug monday night and were reminded yet again that gear<skill. They were being sooo carful to only get 5.5k GS people and checking achieves. We knew that was going to backfire pretty early on when we saw one of the tanks was a failtank from a run we were in a few weeks ago. 5.6+ gear and the intellect of a box of hammers. I am sure he had the achievements too. But if you can’t hold aggro on the Deathwhisper packs you fail. Big time. Sadly the rest of the pug was not much better. I was in on my hunter (5.4 GS) and pulling the #3 slot for overall damage. Not that my DPS was #3. But not being slow, and using macroed misdirect means I can get in a lot of extra hits. We gave them a couple wipes on Deathwhisper before we bailed. I can be as patient as any hardcore raider for progression wipes, but the handwriting was on the wall with this one. Oh well, the weekly was Marrowgar and we got all three sets of ‘mains’ in to drop him. Sometimes that is all you can ask for.

Not that anyone cares about any of this but I figured I would post SOMETHING in text before I tossed up another comic :D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was the other tank.

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

Marrowgar dropped and the whole raid congratulated each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into the Fire, Pinky!

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So I’ve joined close to a half dozen GDKP raids now, both ToC and ICC. I’ve gotten really lucky with upgrades for both my mage and my resto druid and think I can speak with a bit of authority on the subject. Since “GDKP” seems to be a search term leading people to this blog, I thought I’d post some tips.

First and most importantly: DO NOT BUY GOLD

If you honestly don’t know why, the short version is that gold sellers are thieves, liars, scammers and hackers. They primarily make their gold by hacking accounts, stealing whatever virtual goods are on them, turning it into gold and sending it to mules. Or they’ll turn hacked characters into botted farmers. Everyone knows someone who has been hacked. My own brother was hacked (he has since admitted that maybe making his WoW login name and his main character’s name the same thing was a bad idea). Friends and guildmates have been hacked. It’s not funny.

Gold selling is not a victimless crime.

If you need gold, go read blogs like Greedy Goblin or JustMy2Copper or Phase3Profit. Spend some time grinding gold. Back in TBC I ran the Sunwell dailies religiously for three weeks to afford epic flight. Since then I’ve learned to use the auction house and my own skills better and can usually show up at a GDKP with about 30k gold for Reversion and me to spend.

Digression over, on with the show.

1. Know How It Works

In general, a GDKP will be a 25 man raid of as much of the top raid as can be reasonably cleared. Whoever organizes it is responsible for raid makeup and must balanced geared players with rich ungeared players. The geared players may be coming for one trinket or just the gold; the ungeared players, for gear and to see content they might not get access to otherwise.

When a boss is downed, the loot master will link the drops in raid chat and then take bids on them using an addon that does the auctioning work for him. The minimum bid may be whatever was agreed upon; 1000 gold is pretty common, with recipes and components perhaps lower. There is also an agreed bid increment, usually 100 gold. You place your bid in raid chat. Whoever has the highest bid, gets the item.

At the end of the raid, the pot is divided equally among the raiders.

There may be variations in these rules, such as penalties for being an idiot, or disobeying orders. There may be rules for what happens if you leave early or are kicked from the raid. Get this in writing; ask the raid leader to type the rules in raid chat before the start, for everyone’s protection. If you have to file a complaint later, having the details in raid chat gives Blizzard a place to start their investigations. If all details are conducted over Vent, it’s just your word against theirs.

2. Know The Organizers

First, you’ll want to be sure the raid is going to get somewhere. It’s no fun being locked to a raid ID that only downs Marrowgar. Look for GDKPs run by the top guilds on your servers. Sure, it’s probably their alts that are going but the alts of top raiders are usually well geared and competent.

Second, make sure you can trust them. If XXArthaaasXX is spamming trade for “TOGC25 GDKP run” and he belongs to “Dæthz Knightz”, be careful. The pots can get really big and you don’t want someone walking away with all the gold. Again, big name guilds usually care about their reputation on server and won’t scam someone without a good reason.

3. Be Prepared

If the guy organizing the raid has been spamming trade all week advertising it and asking you to sign up on the guild’s site or the official realm discussion board, don’t expect to get a slot at the last minute by whispering him. You might get lucky, you might not. Follow the rules, sign up or send an in game message ahead of time. They may ask for armory page, specs, gold you have available to spend – don’t be tempted to lie here. Be upfront. A good GDKP is an ongoing phenomenon and you would probably like to be invited back.

Gather your gold together on the character you want to take to the raid before you go. You don’t want to have to zone out halfway through for more gold.

Act like this is a real raid, because it is. Get your flasks, potions, buff food, gemming, and enchants ready beforehand. Bring gems and enchants for anything you might want to equip right away.

Know the fights. Again this goes with knowing the raid. If you have done the first four ICC fights and that’s as far as the GDKP is going, great. If you’ve done the first four but the GDKP advertises that it regularly downs Putricide, then learn the fights you haven’t seen. Watch a general strategy video and read advice on whatever roles you might be asked to perform. Note: not “what role you normally are”. Sometimes they will ask you to play as your off spec, even if your main is better geared. GDKP runs are about filling holes with bodies, not about letting YOU do what you really want. If you want to run ICC as a resto druid and nothing else, join a guild or pay a guild to take you in that role. If you want to pay money for gear, do what the raid leader asks.

Get Vent, if you don’t have it. Any successful GDKP is going to use a voice server; there’s just no other way to manage 25 people. If you are not at least listening in Vent, you may (and probably should) be kicked. You need to know when the raid leader wants you to move, not just do what you think is best.

Get Deadly Boss Mods, or your equivalent mod of choice. Make sure it’s up to date.

4. Know What You Want

Before the fight, go look at the loot tables for every boss you are expecting to down. Write down a post-it note list of what pieces that boss drops that you want, and how much you want it.

Why not just wait and see what drops? Several reasons. First, you want to make a mental budget. If you know the one item you really really want drops from Marrowgar, then if it drops you can spend as much as you want on it, and if it doesn’t drop, go ahead later and spend money on things you didn’t care as much about. On the other hand, if you really want a Gunship drop, then don’t blow all your money on Marrowgar.

If you have an offset that you are thinking about gearing: again, prioritize. Don’t spend 10k on a drop from Marrowgar if your main set might get three or four drops later. But if a piece is going for a song, bid on it! I picked up Niebulung, a caster staff for my offset the last time I ran ICC for the minimum bid because no one wanted it.

A word about BOEs: some bosses drop loot that is Bind on Equip, not Bind on Pickup. Check these while you’re researching. If they happen to be best in slot for you, be prepared to spend a lot of money because chances are, some capitalist on the run will try to buy it to re-sell on the Auction House. Is that person you? Make sure you know what it’s really worth. Don’t spend 2k on primordial saronite if they usually sell for 1800 gold; don’t spend 12k on Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye if it sells for 6k. And remember that the heroic version of the BOEs are NOT BoE; don’t bid on one if you can’t use it! The raid leader will probably hold you to your bid…

5. Bidding strategy

If you’re like me, the moment you see that one of ‘your’ items dropped, your adrenaline kicks in. Forget about the boss fight, this is the real action! Your heart races, your hands shake, you start messing up as you type – and all of a sudden you just bid 18000 gold instead of 1800. Ooops. Or you mistyped and whispered your bid to your friend. Even more oops.

By having your priority list mentioned above, you should have an idea of how high you are willing to go. Start low, see what competition you have. Prices will pretty quickly get to the range where people who don’t want the item that much drop out. Then you either win, or get into a one on one bidding war.

Don’t go over your budget. Make your highest bid amount mentally and stick to it. Conversely, don’t take yourself out of the game prematurely; if you were willing to spend 5k gold on that hat, bid 5k!

If you see a bidding war forming up, you can try the “money dump” method; bid something like 2/3rds of your ‘high bid’, if that will take the amount a good bit higher than where it currently is. This shows your competitors that you are serious, that you have at least that much gold, and that they’d better be serious if they want to compete with you. Psychology is a weird thing. If you sloooowwwly creep up to, say, 5k, in 100 gold increments, you are much more likely to bid 5100 gold than if the price goes from 2k to 5k instantly.

Don’t be afraid to go for broke. Unless you screw up royally, you are going to come out with 1/25th the pot – that’ll at least be repair costs for you until you can earn a little money back. Again, don’t take more gold than you’re willing to spend. Don’t borrow gold from a friend; that’s a good way to ruin the friendship. Borrow gold from your spouse or partner, yes, if you can’t give that money back then you have more problems than I’m going to talk about ;-D

Final Notes

GDKPs are a lot of fun if they’re well run. I highly recommend them. Remember that the other people on the raid are coming for gear or cash, not just the pleasure of your company, and treat them that way. Be respectful and honest. Don’t waste their time; time = gold on these runs and if you waste time, you may find yourself out in the cold.

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Money Talks

… or at least gets you raid invites for GDKP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money talks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lol thanks watch broke. AM?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway from now on I will be advertising:

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

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Stockades are Srs Bznz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Instances are a dance. They are a dance of destruction and death and hopefully a dance of life and success.

The tank leads. Leading is not about going at your own pace, it is about setting a pace your partners can keep up with. You don’t set the pace too slow or your partners get bored and either leaves or tries to lead. If your partners are more accomplished dancers you may have to push yourself hard to keep up with them while still leading. The tank may even have to lean on them a bit or ask one of them to lead for short periods of time.

Leading in a dance does not mean you are in control. It means you make the first move and you signal as much as you can to your partner so she can keep up. Ignoring your partner almost totally only works when you know they for certain can keep up. When you do know they know the tune and the steps then you can cut loose. But if not, you will quickly find yourself dancing alone. A good tank is a good dance partner no matter who his partner is. Fast, slow, waltzing or break dancing a good tank knows them all. Leading also means finding out how NOT to step on the toes of your partner. It also means being polite when your partner steps on yours… but not too polite unless you like sore toes.

The DPS and heals all follow. Following means reading your partner’s moves and matching, echoing or merely complimenting them. It also means pusing yourself when they are challenging you to keep up. If the lead partner is good they will set a pace you can handle even if it is a whirlwind. You might surprise yourself as you stretch to keep up. You might get burned if they prove to be a poor lead, but you will never know unless you step out and allow them to toss you in the air every now and then. It might be a frightening at first but better to embrace the challenge than to refuse to be led.

This analogy shows how BOTH sides have to adapt. You might have to read their intentions and follow. The lead has to communicate those intentions and be sure all partners can keep up.

The dance is never more smooth than when you partner with someone that really knows you and your style. My best partner is my wife. I have run with some great healers that were able to keep up, but when it comes to knowing my rhythm she is best. It certainly helps that she has crazy uber healing gear. However, even uber gear will not keep me alive when I pop cat form and dash two groups ahead and start AOEing the crud out of 4 packs at once.

In some ways though, a very good and very familiar partner will make us complacent. We stop trying to read every move and just fall on familiar patterns. An unfamiliar partner forces us to read and learn as we go.

Most of all we cannot refuse to dance. If our partner for a swing-dance drops and starts spinning around on their head we must be at lead willing to shrug and follow along as best we can. If you refuse to dance to all except one sort of music you will find yourself unhappy and short of partners. But when it comes to pugs don’t assume you will know the tune, the song, or even get a flat dance floor.

I wanted to toss this post out there as background before I get to my upcoming post about multi pulls and go-go-go tanking. It is important for a tank to keep in mind that even as he/she is setting a whirlwind pace their partners are still there and still being considered. How you consider them might be different but even the best geared tank can-not do things alone. (well maybe technically they can but that is a different topic)

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