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Archive for the ‘Pug’ Category

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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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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