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Archive for the ‘Pug’ Category

L2P Nub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The tank is the leader of the party. The big cheese, the head honcho, el presidente…

Some of you are disagreeing already, assuming more than one person is reading this. To fully explain that statement we should take a glance at the nature of leadership and then put it in the context of WOW. Webster.com defines leadership as something a leader does…  yeah that helps. It defines a leader as someone who leads… hah. But further down it says that it means someone who ‘has commanding authority or influence’. Right, so tanks have authority. Hah! No really, they do. It is just a limited kind. It is limited in EXACTLY the same way all authority everywhere is. You get authority as people give it to you. In politics they sometimes call it a ‘mandate’. Like if the big issue in an election was ‘fix XYZ’ then the person that wins is said to have a broad mandate to do things about that issue.

Now think about a club. Let’s say you are the president of a card playing club. What authority do you have? Well you can decide what day you are going to play cards on. And people will go with that decision unless you pick a bad one. So you get to pick any day that works for the majority…. Ok.

And you can spend the membership dues on new cards. You have total authority there. You can buy ones with the checkered pattern on the back or ones with pictures from a gift shop some place. But you can’t buy a new car with the money. You can also decide who brings the snacks each week. But you can’t order one person to buy pizza every week. Your authority has a narrow river bed it flows down. You can do what you want inside those narrow banks, but if you try to splash your authority out of those narrow banks the other people just laugh and ignore you, or leave the club, or kick you out for embezzling the dues money. It is a voluntary organization and the leadership you wield has only the power to motivate people along lines they have implicitly agreed to in advance. And you have the responsibility to, within those confined channels of authority, make decisions and lead in ways that further what the people signed up for. In the case of a card playing club those things are playing cards on regular schedule and having fun.

Pugs are like this. Tanks have the authority that the other people give them. It comes with the responsibility to help make the run go well. You can give orders and make demands based on things they will think are reasonable. But within those bounds of reasonableness you have full command. If you say ‘I am going to pull this group LOS to this corner here’. That is a 100% reasonable statement. It is also an implied command for everyone to support that action. If some moron messes the pull up you have a mandate to complain to that person. The other members, assuming they are reasonable, and assuming you don’t take it so far you are ‘spoiling their fun’, will support you complaining to that player and telling him to not mess up your LOS pulls. It is this pact of peer pressure that gives the tank the mandate to give instructions that will further the group’s aims (finishing the run, getting loot).

For the good of the group the Tank MUST speak up and communicate if something is going wrong. It is the responsibility that goes with that authority. If a hunter left his pet on growl it is well within the mandate of the tank’s authority to say something about that. To a point. He/she can’t throw a hissyfit over it any more than the members of a card game club would be ok with the president flipping out over bad shuffling. They might be ok with some gentle remedial shuffling instructions or advice, but not with a full blown tantrum.

It is not ok for the leader to let something important slide. If some moron is pulling without you and you don’t say something about it you are failing as a leader. The other guy is making the mistake but it is YOUR duty to speak up and try to fix the problem. That is leadership. If the problem is fixed, everyone wins. But there is a fine line here. If the DPS is all impatient, and you stop the whole run to give them a lecture about impatience you are more likely to get a vote-kick than you are to get a smoother run. One of the things a leader has to do is make the most of the resources at hand. A manager can’t fire everyone who works for them for bad performance. Instead they must assign people to tasks that fit their ability, get them training where they need it, and fire people only as a last resort.

For example if the hunter can’t figure out how to turn off his pet and absolutely insists on picking a target you are not primarying you can point them toward a caster mob, even mark it for them. This is taking a bad situation, an uncooperative DPSer with bad skills, and assigning them to a task they ARE capable of doing. This also saves your sanity as a tank. Plus it helps the other person learn a skill and play style that is useful for groups. If the DK insists on gripping and pulling stuff, you might just let him tank that target. It gives you one less mob to tank and hopefully he takes enough damage to die in shrieking agony. But don’t be passive aggressive about it. If you just drop a mob and don’t say anything everyone assumes you are a bad tank. If you tell the dps ‘you yank it you tank it’ then they know you are making a stand on bad behavior and they can either correct it or tank their own mob. Again, stopping everything and throwing a hissyfit over either of these examples would only piss off the whole group. But even short of that there are active steps that can be taken to either fix or harness the behavior.

The interesting thing about tank leadership is that you don’t have to do anything more than what you do… most of the time. Moving ahead from group to group, picking your targets, marking where needed, checking on the healer’s mana before a boss, throwing your cooldowns when needed, taunting mobs where they need to be, moving the melee tangle out of the fire, all these are what a tank should be doing anyway. But they are also all leading a group.

My dad once told me being a leader was keeping management off the back of his people so that they could get their jobs done. Things like helping them get their payroll problem straightened out with headquarters, or handling the annoying customer so they can get back to the register. Those are things a manager does to enable his or her people to get the real job done. In the case of a tank you are doing exactly the same thing. You are there to do anything you can to let the dpsers kill things. That is it. You goal is to line up packs of creatures for them to kill. Your goal is also to do it at a rate where the healer can keep up. In this way you are warding off the obstacles in that person’s way also. That is your job. But if one of the DPS is doing something that threatens the whole it is also your job to try, within the bounds of your authority mandate, to fix the problem.

If the rogue over behind the boss is standing in the fire then you can tell him to move, or you can shift the boss and force him to move. But you can’t do nothing and then sneer when he dies. That is not leadership and that is not your job. You forced him to have to decide between being in good back stab position and being safe and he chose wrong. Or he just did not notice, but YOU did. If a leader notices his people making a design mistake, or even flipping their burgers wrong, but does nothing about it, then they are all at fault and the group as a whole fails. But the leader is at fault most of all. It is only after the leader has done what he can to help the others fix the problem that the responsibility for the failure moves to solely rest on the ‘underlings’.

There are a lot of bad leaders out there. Most people just want to get along. So they say nothing and the group muddles along, or fails and re-forms. And often no learning happens. There are a lot of variables in a failed group and many people can’t see/admit what they did wrong to cause, or help cause the problem.

Anyway I think I have wondered off tanking and into advice giving in general so I will wrap this post up.

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3-Manning Oculus

This just happened over lunch:

So Reversion and I get on our mains to run a quick instance over lunch. Instaqueue, as usual, and we get the Oculus loading screen. No problem, we actually like Oculus and the extra rewards are just icing on the cake.

As soon as we get there, one guy drops, instantly. We move forward, Reversion re-queueing us, and then realize, halfway through the first fight, that one of the two remaining dps has “dc’d”. Yeah sure. We have to vote kick him. We get two more dps, one of whom instantly drops. Right about then is when I notice that the paladin, the one who has been there this whole time, is doing 400 dps and getting into fights really slowly. He also refuses to select a role, so we can’t get another guy to replace the most recently dropped one.

I ask him to please select a role. Nothing.I check his gear; mostly 200 blues, respectable gear that he should be able to get at least 1k dps out of, and since he’s used all of three abilities in his “rotation”, I am pretty sure he’s slacking. (Also; no Blessings, and no Aura up. After the instance I checked Recount; he used Crusader Strike and Consecration. That was it.) I point out that we could use the extra help  from another person since he’s not contributing much, this after three failed tries to get us re-queued, without him saying why he was declining the role check.

We get no response. Not a “yeah whatever”, not an “Ok”, not even a “Screw you guys”. Nothing. So I go to vote to kick him so that we can maybe get a full party – and it says we can’t remove any more players.

Oops. I guess the dc’d guy was our one kick of the instance. Argh. The mage – who came in after we kicked the dc’d guy – tries, and he can’t either. We continue on. The paladin shows up halfway through the first boss fight and promptly dies. Yes, I was not healing him; I was hoping he’d take a hint and leave. He didn’t. After the fight he released and came in and – did nothing.

No, the three of us got dragons, went on, cleared the instance, and this guy sat there at the dragon platform. He didn’t even get to roll on loot since he was too far away, but he sat there, silently, the whole time.

I don’t know if he got badges – there was no way for me to check. Maybe he did. Either way I thought it was an insanely spiteful waste of time. Guess he disagreed though.

Shoutout to Kazaratfh of Auchindoun, an awesome mage who performed flawless, put out great dps even though he “only” had a gearscore around 4800, didn’t pull off the tank, and stopped frost nova-ing when we asked.

(Quick recap: we had three different dps drop or ‘dc’ as soon as they saw it was Oculus, one guy refused to do anything, and one guy who worked his heart out. I think the Oculus problem is getting worse. Here’s to the half-hour deserter debuff.)

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I love heirlooms. They make leveling alts so much more fun, I considered the chest and shoulders mandatory for an alt and a weapon almost mandatory, until we rolled alts over on Argent Dawn to join Single Abstract Noun. Now I know that heirlooms are threatening the game and need nerfing, fast.

Why do I say that? It’s not the XP boost, actually; I miss it dreadfully but I can live with the only-slightly-less breakneck pace of leveling that we have these days. Let me relate a little story first.

Analogue the Druid went into Deadmines with three others from SAN; Reversion the Rogue, and a warlock and druid. The other druid wanted to heal so in the interest of a fast queue, I signed in as a tank. I had never bear tanked before (except dropping into bear to growl quest mobs off other people) but I’m a pretty good tank these days, so I didn’t think it would be too hard.

As expected, we wiped a lot; we were low level for the instance and lost three random dpsers before we finally decided to just to finish 4 man. I kept aggro, mostly, things died, mostly, I stayed alive, mostly. All four of us were on a pretty similar level for gear and power, and we had fun. It ended with most of us dead, Van Cleef dead, and too many respawns to run back for his head, but oh well.

After that I got on Annalogue the Paladin, who like Analogue the Druid was 17, and queued up to tank. The first run was a Ragefire Chasm ten minute affair that left a bad taste in my mouth due to a jerk of a hunter who tried to wipe us twice and then took the tank sword from the boss, so I queued again and got Wailing Caverns and the Twinks of Doom.

A Rogue and a Priest (the healer) both four levels higher than me and wearing at least five heirlooms each (priest had both trinkets, rogue had two daggers). And so began my hour and a half of being useless.

It didn’t help that I don’t know that instance; I had to let the priest take the lead. But even when it came to fights, I could not hold or get aggo. The rogue did – literally – close to three times as much damage as I did. I didn’t have any aoes yet, which was bad enough, but the priest kept running over and aggroing more groups and bringing them to us to kill. And I couldn’t call the pair out over this behavior, because their gear allowed them to act with impunity. The healer stopped to drink twice. We wiped once, when someone else aggroed a group and we got too many sleeps cast on the healer. The rogue ended up doing over 50% of the overall damage. I relegated myself to keeping whatever mobs he wasn’t killing off the healer, occasionally taunting off him just to keep my hand in.

If I didn’t already have a max level paladin it would have been even worse. Those two could probably have two-manned the instance alone, and they knew it, and they let us know they knew it. The rest of us, dressed in quest rewards and random drops, were peons to their royalty.

If we could mail heirlooms across servers, I wouldn’t have had that problem, but what about brand new players, or anyone without a max level character to grind badges on? I don’t even remember what the other two players in that pug were, because they mattered so little. We were frustrated, useless, and bored. It’s not a good thing.

Blizzard needs to reduce the stats on heirlooms a lot. They should be fractionally better than the gear you’d naturally have at that level, not 3 times as good. Doing 10% more damage than anyone else? Fine. Doing triple damage? Not so good.

I will add that the level ranges for those dungeons doesn’t help; I was 17 and one of the other guys there was, I think, 25; hard to keep aggro off him at the best of times. But even so, it was the level 21 rogue in heirlooms that made life impossible for me.

This is not QQ; this is to point out a flaw that will only get worse as the game ages more. If Blizzard has given up on getting real new subscriptions, then it’s fine. Otherwise I think heirlooms may become a serious problem..

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Trust

Sometimes it’s easy to forget you’re playing with other people in WoW. Other times the game forces you to acknowledge that for some challenges, you have to be part of a group that’s bigger than just the players involved.

This week the weekly raid quest on our server was Lord Marrowgar. I don’t know about your server but on ours that means the chance of getting a good ICC run actually goes down. The guild runs multiple 10-man-alt runs and there are still folks left out.  Trade is full of angst and vitriol.  Our raid had all the makings of fail; instead we ended up with moments of sheer epic…

After the two scheduled guild alt groups filled up there were enough guildies left over that we started a scrub/alt/pug raid. We needed to fill three slots; two melee dps and a tank healer. The melee dps were easy to pull out of trade, got a paladin and a rogue to help balance out roles. The healer was tougher and after ten minutes I was willing to take the holy priest. It wasn’t til we got to ICC that I started worrying. The off tank, a guildie, was somewhat undergeared, and so was the tank healer. Both of them had slots that still didn’t have Triumph badge gear level items.  Still, we decided we’d start and see how things went.

Trash pulls went smoothly, no wipes. Got to Marrowgar, ran down the strategy, and we started. The off-tank went down. I b-rezzed him. Then he went down again. Bonestorm started, and Reversion popped out of bear to b-rez the OT and help heal the raid (he always throws rejuvs around during bonestorm, just because he can). Start back again – and the OT goes down for the third time. We’re out of druids, Marrowgar is at 50% – but everyone else is still up and taking very little damage, so I start fully healing Reversion. Every now and then I have to throw out rejuvs and wild growth for the raid, but we’re mostly stacked under Marrowgar so we don’t take a lot of fire damage, the dps are being great about taking down the spikes – and we’re doing it. Reversion blew every cooldown, potion, trinket he had, and Marrowgar went down. Nothing like having a tank with 48k health to eat those big hits.

I made sure to compliment all the dps-ers for their attentiveness. If they had taken damage, I would not have been able to help out with tank healing, and we would have wiped. Instead we one-shotted him. (I also will add, the pugged paladin judged Light consistently and it healed the raid up a good little bit, actually accounting for 10% of total healing during our whole run according to Recount; that was a nice buffer)

We went on to Deathwhisper. I dropped to the first set of adds; Reversion got me back up and although I was hurting for mana, I got back into the groove. We ended that fight with four of us alive; the priest went down thirty seconds before the end of the fight, the OT had died minutes before, but I saw the 4% health on Deathwhisper and threw everything I could to keep Reversion and the last dps alive long enough to take her down.

The pug broke up on Saurfang because people had to get off, but it was great.

So, after that long discussion, why the title of my post? Why ‘Trust’?

Because I didn’t, and wasn’t. I did not trust my healing partner and it hurt us. Some of the dps deaths to trash and to Deathwhisper were because I was dropping Nourish on the tanks and ignoring my own responsibilities. Usually in 10 mans I heal with a guildie, someone who I think is probably a better healer than me.  Our pugged healer was great, but I saw her gear and achievements and doubted. I couldn’t help it; I’m the sort who worries a lot over things I can’t control. I do that in real life too, but it’s not as obvious.  I don’t have fun with my mage any more in WoW for the same reason, because I see health bars and start wanting to fix them. My pally tank keeps trying to save the day in 5mans with Lay on Hands or Hand of Sacrifice on the healer.

It makes me a more conscientious healer most of the time, when I can force myself to let the other healer do her job and just do mine, but on raids like this last one, it can wipe us.  And I don’t know how to stop worrying about their jobs. It’s not easy for me.

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I am a jerk

Been reading some other blogs and I guess I am a jerk when I heal. I say ‘gogogo’. It is another way of telling the tank ‘Hi, I am in good shape. My mana is fine. Feel free to continue pulling.’

I also aggro other groups on occasion. I don’t do it if the tank is having trouble holding aggro. I don’t do it if I can’t HEAL through it, and I don’t do it if I expect the pack is going to two shot me. I just heal-tank them until the tank shows up. Yeah. I am challenging the tank and pushing him to be better. If they say anything about it, they usually say that. Or they say how hardcore the run is. Some tanks like a challenge. I don’t do it all the time. And if I mess up and wipe the group I apologize. I will even pass on a few rolls to give the rest a few more G for repairs.

I play tank and heals and dps in pretty equal amounts. I know there is a fine line between being a jerk and not. For example if I pull three groups on my bear, pop cooldowns so I am easy to heal and we AOE the crud out of them, nothing wrong with that. If I was a failtank and simply aggroed two groups and then cussed out the healer for letting me drop I would be a moron. I don’t do that. I do pull two, and often more. I think my record is 4, or two groups and a boss. Depends on the boss though. Still, it is usually my wife healing me so no one can complain. And If I screw up and get the group killed I say ‘sorry’ and I pull more sanely. This is not being a jerk. This is trying to get a run that is not insanely boring to a 5.4+K geared tank specced and gemmed for ICC. I don’t even need heals for any single pull in most instances. So why would it be rude to a healer if I pulled two?

If I am healing and pull a second group back to the tank, what is the issue? No really… if we don’t die, he had no trouble getting aggro, I had no trouble healing, and the dps was all good, what is the issue? If I did it when the tank was AFK or not ready then yeah, that would make me a jerk and I would deserve the boot. But if he is downing the last on in a group and another group comes over, no biggy. I play a tank, I know what groups to aggro and what groups to stay the heck away from.

Oh, I am more of a jerk than that, I also complain about DPS. Yup, I sure do. If I get in a run with some guy pulling 700 dps I say, ‘hey buddy, you should read some blogs or something because you should be able to do more.’ Is that jerky? Some people thinks so. Other people in the group will be all, ‘his gear is bad, lighten up.’ To everyone that thinks that, FYI, I can do 1200 DPS on my hunter naked with just a bow. That is right, in my undies. So don’t tell me that 700 DPS on a rogue with a mix of quest greens and blues is ok. It isn’t. If I let that rogue know (as I did Sunday night) that he should use some finishing moves on occasion because melee and fan of knives should not make up over half of his 700 dps I don’t think that is being a jerk. If everyone is too nice to ever tell him that that is unacceptable how will he ever know not to?

Take the dps warrior I ran with on Saturday. I had to tell him a couple times to stop using Heroic Strike. If someone can’t figure out what they are doing wrong on their own then someone HAS to tell them. I mean, I think it is pretty clear that if the guy doing 3 digits of damage keeps pulling aggro of a solid AOE tanker there must be SOMETHING not right.

But I am an even bigger jerk that just all that. Yeah I even check gear scores! *gasp* I know, total sociopath, right? Not just that but I will tell people that 1100 dps is NOT ok for 4k gear. I am nice about it though. I will suggest reading blogs and such. I will even add that doing that is how I get better when I think I should be getting more out of a class. Oddly, most people either say nothing or thank me. My wife and I use GS to judge people all the time. But not in a vacuum and not before the start of the run. Nope. We wait for a few pulls and compare GS to DPS and often even check their rotation with the recount logs.

Oh it gets worse. Sometimes I even link recount. Or dare to complain about their underranked spells.

I don’t kick often though. No, I usually just try to offer some advice. Gevlon (http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/), rip up my ‘jerk’ card and stamp ‘social’ on my forehead. Sometimes I do kick though. If someone is really lagging the dps meter, had gear that is way better than his performance, ignores the 9 down ranked abilities that rankwatch is spamming him about and only seem to use 3 abilities in the recount log… yeah those people are likely to see the boot. But we are pretty forgiving. If someone even tries to fix their down ranks and takes constructive criticism with a ‘ok, thanks. I will look into that.’ then they get a pass. Everyone was bad at some point. Show me a glimmer of willingness or ability to learn and you are in. Ask for real advice and I will give you an earful. Come across as genuinely in need of practice and gear and I will invite you on a few runs. And, if you are getting serious performance out of ‘been 80 for an hour’ gear then you will get thanks and praise.

Yeah I judge. But I don’t do it in a vacuum. Some people DO suck. Pretending they don’t will just mean we are stuck carrying them through Cata heroics a year from now, or a year after than when they finally catch back up.

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Pop Quiz!

Dear DPSers: This is your midterm exam. All topics are open-book and may be answered as short essays or interpretive dance, your choice. Signed, Your Healer.

Question One:

Your party comes equipped with a tank. His job is to get the skeletons and dragons to hit him. This is because he has a shield, or shiny armor, or… really thick fur.  You, however, are wearing tissue paper (wet tissue paper, if you’re a mage). Even if you think it’s plate, it’s not, it’s just really shiny tissue paper.

Your job is to shoot things and make them die. Sometimes this makes them mad at you. Then they will come and hit you. I will try to keep you alive but it won’t work very well. At this point, there are three things you can do.

1. Stop hitting the dragon and hope it loses interest in you. This strategy obviously doesn’t work because no one ever tries it.

2. Keep hitting it and hope it dies before you do. This is the preferred behavior for mages and other suicidal maniacs.

3. Run screaming away from the tank while it tries to eat you. For best effect, bring it right over to me! After all, I am there to heal you, probably I’ll be even more able to do that at close range. And if not, maybe the mob will decide I taste better than you do.

Question Two:

Ooops! Now I’m dead. Assuming you notice this, Mr. Shadow Priest, what are you going to do?

1. Continue doing what you’re doing and hope they all die before you do

2. Try some of those weird spells from the “Holy” side of your book?

3. Hmm, what’s this “Shadowmeld” button do?

Question Three:

We survived! But I have no mana. What is the proper course of action?

1. Write a couple jokes in party chat while you wait for me to drink and then stand around waiting for me to heal you?

2. Same as above, except, since you’re a warlock, Life Tap as soon as I stand up?

3. Ask me for an innervate after I have finished eating and drinking?

4. Get bored and pull the next group?

Question Four:

Who can remove curses?

1. Druids and Priests

2. Druids and Mages

3. Druids, Priests, Shaman, and Paladins. This does not take any time at all in fights and if you ever have a curse on you after a fight, it means your healer sucks and should be booted.

Question Five: Why is my queue 30 minutes long? I want to go now!

1: It’s long because there are lots and lots of dps out there, and a lot fewer healers, and even fewer tanks.

2: It’s long because Blizzard hates me

3: It’s long because I have been a bad person and gotten on the ignore list of too many tanks

4. It’s long because sometimes tanks and healers get burned out and want to mindlessly dps things, or decided to go watch reruns of “Star Trek” instead.

Final Question, For Bonus Credit:

As a dps’er, the most important thing I bring to this pug is:

Gear?

Skill?

Situational Awareness, ie, noticing when I have aggro, taking the aggro’d mob back to the tank, picking up healing or tanking if the real healer/tank drops, knowledge of basic instance courtesy, and an understanding of what other classes can and cannot do?

The first two items directly affect your performance on meters. The third is unmeasurable, yet far more important. Your healer and tank may never say they notice, but they do; they always do. And it helps prevent tank burnout more than anything else out there since dual spec.

Reversion’s Bonus questions.
For extra credit answer the following multiple choice. Which answer best describes each of the following abilities.

Feign Death:
A: A great tool for role players for their little charades. Of no use to actual game play.
B: Skill that lets you get some rest and take a break from combat. Good for mana regeneration.
C: Useless skill that does nothing but lower your dps.
D: Skill to dump agro or get stuff off you. Not ever to be used in parties. After all it is the tanks fault you pulled agro, right? I mean blizzard gave that skill to you for… well no reason really, so please don’t use it. Ever.

Invisibility:
(See above)

Fade:
(See above)

Vanish:
(See above)

Army of the dead:
A: Really funny movie.
B: Great way to up your dps numbers at any time and any place.
C: Something tanks whine about when you use it at the wrong time and place. They are stupid liars so ignore them.
D: A great skill to relieve loneliness.

Frost Nova:
A: Freezes things near you and keeps them from moving away from that blizzard you are casting. That way I can build up lots and lots of agro with mobs that the tank may not be able to reach. Very handy for when your ghost needs to get out and some exercise.
B: Ability for keeping monsters from being able to get to the tank. This is useful because it allows the poor misunderstood monsters to take out their aggressing on any rogues, healers or mages that happen to be standing near them when you cast it.
C: None of the above
D: How can a nova be made of ice? Blizzard is stupid.

Final double extra credit question. Essay.
Someone has suggested you need to use a different skill, or update your spell ranks, or that you should be able to get a lot more than 1200 dps with all T9 gear. In 1000 words or less explain how they are clearly dumb, annoying, spamming you, making no sense, or could not possibly know anything about your class or gear. (hint ‘Huh?’ is an acceptable answer). For triple extra credit macro your answer to the number 1 key.

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