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Archive for August, 2010

Dearest Pug,

To the heirloomed out warrior in the Dead Mines,
Thank you for your critical analysis of my tanking ability. For future reference a lvl 16 paladin does not have many tools to work with. Also note that if you are in the next room spamming thunder clap while the tank and heals are both drinking there is a chance the tank will not be able to ‘hold aggro for sh**’ as you so helpfully put it. You might also note that you did a lot better job tanking for us in the second half. I respectfully submit this had more to do with your party including the formerly tanking paladin that switched to backup healing you… a lot. On the other hand the party I had to work with included all the same characters except in place of the paladin (me) I had a warrior running ahead and pulling things the whole time (you). In light of this I am doubtful the difference in outcomes was related to your tanking ability (non-existent). My healer informs me she spent the second half of the instance healing herself, a lot.

To the gogogo hunter in SM graveyard,

I appreciate your eagerness to take a very short instance and turn it into a slightly shorter one by running ahead and soloing things. I was flattered by the request to run another instance after that one. I am sorry if you did not understand my response of ‘not with you’ followed by dropping group. Allow me to clarify. Yes I was talking to you and I would rather solo the place than run anything you ever again. Hope that clears up any confusion.

To the party in SM library who I ran with over lunch,
I know I directed my ‘you suck’ before I dropped at the druid who was pulling 9.7% of the overall damage. To be fair you all sucked. Yes, even the Lock who was ‘topping the meters’ at 25% of the damage done. You were all agroing things I was not on, running away from the tank, pulling things while the healer and I were drinking and generally playing like idiots. My Shaman I know it is very impressive that you can climb the bookshelves there near the end. I respectfully submit your chain lightnings work just as well from the ground floor and you have time to get more of them off if you don’t climb things. Mister Lock I would like to suggest that calling out ‘heal my pet’ when it is around the corner in the next room and the healer is out of mana is probably not going to get much of a response. I noticed you changed pets to a voidwalker after that and it stopped dying. I also noticed you continued to target your pet for things I was clearly not attacking. Nice try but you fail. I hope you all don’t think me arrogant to say that as a tank specced paladin with no heirlooms and being the second to lowest level in the party I probably should not have been doing 48% of the damage. No mister druid, the final boss sheeping you twice did not explain your 9.7% of the overall damage.

To the other 5 parties I played with in the last 24 hours,
Thanks. You killed things, mostly were not jerks, and generally played like you had a couple brain cells. Thanks.

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Moar DinoTam

So Alas finished her DinoTam poetry contest. I am reposting my entry here because I can. I apparently cannot follow directions. Instead of an ode, I wrote code

//Recommend using DinoBob, DinoFred, or DinoBarneyThePurple classes instead
public static Dinosaur::DinoTam
{

bool isHungry = true;
bool isAsleep = false;

//Note: the “edible” check is unreliable. Anyone interfacing with the “DinoTam” class
//is responsible for ensuring that inputs to this method are acceptable

public void doEat(object Prey)
{

if(Prey == edible)
{

nomnom(Prey);

isHungry = false;

//some sort of bug in this method. Won’t compile without this next line
isHungry = true;

}

}

//Intern hasn’t finished this function, contains no “wake” triggers
public string doSleep(Rock Rock)
{
string returnvalue;

if(Rock.isSunny == true)

{
returnvalue = “zzzzz”;
DinoTam.isAsleep = true;

} else
{
returnvalue = “DinoTam only likes sunny rocks, what what.”
}

return returnvalue;

}

//undocumented bug causes this method to trigger randomly
//probably user error
private void doMoisturize(object lotion)
{
if(lotion.isSmoothAndMoist)
{
lotion.apply(DinoTam.skin);
DinoTam.ContentedPurrGrowl();
}

}

//users keep complaining about this behavior. Assure them it is their own fault
//and DinoTam code is working as specified
public void responseToAlasOrders(object Orders)
{
DinoTam.DoNothing();
DinoTam.GiveAlasTheEye();
DinoTam.doEat(Orders);

}

//!!Remember to take this out before public release!!
public void doButtSecks(object victim)
{

if(victim.DoesNotSuspect && (checkRelativePosition(victim, DinoTam) == true)
{
DinoTam.Yell(“Surprise Buttsecks!!!”);
victim.assault();
}

}

private bool CheckRelativePosition(object victim, Dinosaur DinoTam)

{
if(victim.IsInFrontOf(DinoTam)) return true;
else return false;

}

}

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I am going to do more of a series on various pulls. They will be short, and very specific. I will get right to it.

This is about the bear version of ‘charge’; not the cat or warrior versions. ‘Feral Charge – Bear’ is a ability that makes you dash in toward the opponent. It also interrupts spell casting and roots the target for 4 seconds. It can be useful in a fight for interrupting a cast when your ‘Bash’. I will cover that in a bit but the real focus here is on pulling with it.

When you get this:

You get this ability 20 talent points into the feral tree. Sadly this means you don’t have it until lvl 30. (Does anyone know if they are changing this in cata?)

Range:

The range on Feral Charge is 25 yards. It also has an 8 yard minimum range. The minimum does not matter if you are using it to pull but is a factor if you are trying to use it as a spell interrupt.

Additional effects:

Bear charge applies a 4 second ‘root’ and a 4 second spell casting lockout. Not that these add up to be similar to the ‘stun’ that a warrior charge applies but they are NOT the same.

Application:

The main use of this is of course, to pull. The goal of a pull is to round up all of a pack and get it on you. A charge is useful for that in two ways. One it gets you into the fight slightly ahead of your DPS and heals so you have a moment to build up some agro (maybe). Two it lets you get in close on the pack before they spread out. Spreading out happens when the melee ones run at you and the caster/ranged ones stand back to shoot at you. It happens because the targets spot you and ‘agro’ when you are still well out of melee range. By arriving fast you don’t give them time to spread. This means that ideally you use charge just inside of 25 yards but well outside of their ‘minimum agro radius’. I often do this by spamming the charge key as I am getting near the 25 yard point. Not that if you are doing content that is over your level the min agro range might be greater than 25 yards!

Option 1:

Generally tanks target the closest target in a pack. The idea is as I said above, to get in close before they even spot you. The technique is simple. Move in until your ‘charge’ hotkey lights up (it is gray when you are out of range) and then fire it off. You have to have a target selected for your button to indicate range so don’t forget to click one. Right click it so you will auto attack the instant you are close enough.

Follow up:

Now you are in the fight. You next step is still to round up the rest of the pack. This technique leaves most or all of the pack in front of you which is a good way to start the fight.

This works but is not always optimal.

Option 2:

It makes a lot of sense to instead charge a caster in on the pack and let the melee come to you. Since bears lack a ranged silence or any other ability to ‘move’ caster mobs around it makes sense to locate the fight where they are standing. Unless a caster is in the front of the pack you will probably have to charge through the pack to get to them. This means you probably agro them by your proximity before you even trigger your charge. Depending on the group you might even have time to hit one target in the front with a melee hit and then charge for the caster in the back.

This is a more tricky pull.

First of all it puts you in the back of the pack and it puts some of the pack behind you as you finish your charge. There are two big risks here. One, your dps has probably targeted someone in the ‘front’ of the pack and is not agroing them off of you. And two, as those melee come up behind you (if your party did not pull them off) they will be behind you. As all tanks should know (but often don’t) you take a TON more damage when targets are behind you. This is because you can’t dodge, parry, or block any blow coming at you from your aft 180 degree arc. Bears only dodge and don’t care about block or parry but this is still a big deal. Just the other day I was healing my brother-in-law as he tanked an instance and I had to point it out to him. You take a LOT more damage if you are surrounded. Don’t be.

Follow up:

Your follow up has to be maneuvering so you are no longer surrounded and also checking on those targets you passed and getting plenty of threat on them if the DPS are ‘primarying’ them. This will involve a lot of moving, turning and AOE threat with swipe.

When thinking about this ‘option 2’ pull mentally include how you are going to maneuver immediately after the pull. One of the easiest options is to, while your charge target is rooted and interrupted, move ‘through’ it and then turn around on the other side. Now the whole pack should be in front of you. Also if you lost one of the ones you passed you will need to be ready with a taunt and/or a feral feary fire.

Other use of Charge:

As I said you can use it as a spell interrupt. For that you have to run away when they start a cast and then turn back and charge when you get outside of 8 yards.

You can also ‘chain charge’ and use it to zip back and forth between members of a pack that you just can’t get to bunch up. This works well but carries the same risks as the ‘option 2’ pull.

Macros and combos:

Feral charge does not have much you want to directly macro it with. You can put ‘enrage’ in a macro with it but that damage debuff is annoying. You might macro it up to remove the debuff also. You can also macro tanking cooldowns to it. This is particularly good if you are charging out of range of your heals.

Risks and drawbacks:

The big risk to charging is getting out of range of your heals. Particularly new healers are often not ready for you to charge and are left out of range. If you are a fast moving tank it is nearly certain that you will have no healing for a few seconds after you charge. Don’t be surprised by it and don’t blame the healer if it gets you in trouble. You can counter this risk by waiting for your party to catch up before charging, or popping tanking cooldowns as you pull.

In other news, bear charge and cat charge share a cooldown so ‘power shifting’ to get a second charge does not work L

Other ticks:

Charge can be done while jumping or falling. Charge can go around corners and in some strange paths, provided there IS a path. While in the middle of your charge, if you are fast, you can change targets and fire ‘feral faery fire’ at some other target for a little extra threat. In a multi group pull you can shoot that at one group and charge another.

Because you can use this in combat don’t spare it. Any time you are more than 8 yards from something you want to “RWR!OMNOMNOM” just fire it off. The instant you save getting there can save your party.

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There’s been a bit of chatter in the WoW blogosphere lately about women and WoW, whether WoW players or the game itself are misogynistic, whether women are as good at this game as men, etc, etc. I was reading Larisa’s excellent post over at http://www.pinkpigtailinn.com/2010/08/how-to-conquer-azeroth-go-fight-for-it.html and I wrote a long response over there to her comment that

And it hasn’t got to stop there. There are other areas to conquer. A certain headquarter in Irvine, California. How many times haven’t you heard about the guy who dreams about getting a job at Blizzard. But what about women? Isn’t it about time that we break into this business, aiming for the design team rather than the customer support? I know it takes more than being a passionate gamer to get a foot in there. It takes education and a willingness to work crazy hard for almost no money. But don’t let this stop you.

I don’t think we’ll see a solid shift in the thinking patterns and a breakdown of the outdated stereotypes until we have several women in positions that today are hold by people like Ghostcrawler or Morheim.

I honestly don’t know how we’ll get there. But I think that if more women become as passionate, competative and confident as the male players, it will help a bit.

And I wanted to expound on that here.  I have heard several times that if there were more women on the design team, you wouldn’t see X or Y. Back during the RealID fiasco this was a common meme – that only white male developers would fail to see the problem with having to use a real name on the forum.

But there are reasons why there aren’t [many? any?] women working on the top design teams at Blizzard, and it’s not because Blizz doesn’t want them; any American company would jump at the chance to get a female applicant for any position who is the most qualified because it looks really, really good for them when they have to justify their hiring practices to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission folks. Heck a lot of engineering firms have to find ways to count their secretary pool and their engineers in the same numbers so they don’t have problems… but that’s beside the point.

No, the reason there aren’t women on the design team is because they aren’t applying. The reasons stretch back many many years. To prove I know what I’m talking about I need to give a couple relevant personal details: I’m a woman, obviously. I was homeschooled. I went to college for computer science. Three colleges, actually; a junior college for two years where I got a very technical education, a liberal arts school for three (I went part time and worked in the field) where I learned more abstract stuff, and then a state university for two where I got my masters’ degree. Then I got a job doing software application design and coding. I currently work contracts out of my home (and if any readers just happen to be looking for a contract worker who is awesome with C# and Java and has designed specialized industry multimillion dollar applications, let me know…)

Anyhow I suspect it starts in public schools, but I don’t know because I never went there, but by the time they apply to colleges it’s too late; men outnumber women in computer science departments 9 to 1. Literally. I never had a class with more than three women in it. Colleges throw money at women who want to study computer science, especially in grad school. For computer science the rule of thumb is no American should ever be paying to go to grad school here, if they don’t pay you they don’t really want you. But women get above and beyond. My gal pals and I compared notes and we all got the exact same “extra” fellowship that none of our male cohorts got…

Once you are in a computer science program, though, you have the twin hazards of Business and Babies to watch out for. Business seduces away a lot of female comp sci folks. They go study databases and get a minor in Business and five years later they’re running teams of programmers, not programming themselves. Success stories? Yes, but not in ways that will really impact game development.

And Babies: most women want them. Most women want to take some time out of their career, or slow down, to have babies. And most women have babies at the same time that they might be having the most successful years of their careers as computer scientists. It gets really hard to pull the all nighters after your thirties, and you have a choice; spend them at work fueled up on Diet Coke meeting that coding deadline, or spend them at home changing the baby’s diaper. Even women who don’t take time off will choose a lower-key career, something that doesn’t require 80 hour weeks and multiple all-nighters right before release.

More subjectively, there’s the drive. Anecdotal evidence I’m sure but in grad school, we girls went hiking in the mountains on weekends or did housework or relaxed as well as our school assignments. We’d come in on Monday and the guys had been in the lab all weekend, writing compilers to make their code 3% more efficient because they just had to have the highest score in the class. That is what Blizzard is looking for, that sort of dedication and drive, and frankly most of us women seemed to be more interested in having a balanced work and life. If we applied at Blizzard we’d see it as a job, not a life.

Again, that’s generalized. Not every guy is like that. But say 1 in 5 of all comp sci folks have that drive. Well, if 90% of all comp sci folks are men then most of those driven ones are men too.

I knew a very talented woman who applied to Google. They turned her down because they could tell she wasn’t the sort to spend 80 hours a week at work. Most CS jobs are salaried, not overtime, so to a manager there’s nothing but upside to getting someone who has no life other than to work. Companies like Google and Blizzard – change-the-paradigm cutting edge companies – need those folks to make it work.

If a trained, driven, dedicated woman who loved computer games applied for an opening at Blizzard and was as good or better than the male applicants, they’d take her. That she isn’t on the team is not Blizzard’s fault. They just haven’t found the right woman yet.

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The old grind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tragic Dilemma

Greetings,

DinoTam here. I have been getting a lot of negative criticism about what others see as a ‘carefree’ life style. It is readily apparent that others simply do not understand me and the agonizing dilemmas with which I contemplate every day. Far from carefree, I find myself torn between enticing opportunities which constantly contend for my industry.

To better help the ignorant masses I have commissioned this work of art to capture the essence of what it is to be me. I hardly imagine it can succeed to communicate such depths to you but perhaps you may get some glimpse into my soul. I doubt it.

 

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A lot of any user interface is personal preference. However there are a number of factors that are universal and that you should consider no matter what your preferences are. I have had professional experience with the design of aircraft cockpit displays and one of these days I want to talk more in depth on the subject of ‘human factors’. But for today I will keep it confined to tanking.

Uncluttered

Before I go into what to clutter your screen up with I should mention the importance of having an uncluttered. Think about your display as having two ‘layers’ The first layer is the world. It is everything out there that you see in game. If you turn on movie mode you will see nothing but this layer. Take a good look.

Visibility

Everything you add to this view does two things. They give you more information , options or convenience and they cover up some of the ‘world layer’. This is the great UI trade off. The more you add the more you take away. That is, the more things you add to your user interface layer the less of the world you can see.

You have to ask yourself if the utility of what you are adding is worth the lost visibility. Often it is and often it is not.

Distraction

In addition to covering up the world everything you add to your user interface will distract you with bits of information or fluff. Bars and indicators and scrolling text, all of that is vying for your attention. Your brain has the capability to take in an incredible amount of information. As you ad more, however, you will slowly degrade how well you can focus and comprehend. This is subtle. It creeps up on you over time. This is like a frog in a pot who does not jump out when the heat is turned up slow. One day you wake up and your brain is boiled…er I mean you realize your display is super cluttered and your performance in the game is suffering.

Active Interference

Some add-ons can actively get in the way. Tool tips, chat windows, automatic buttons and automation options, many things can get in the way of your mouse clicks actively and passively. So in addition to making it harder to SEE the world, they can make it harder to interact with it.

Those are three big things to keep in mind when adding things do your interface: Visibility, distraction, interference. In addition to those considerations there is also ‘confusion’ and ‘learning curve’ but I will not get into those here.

So, now that we got that out of the way… what DO you need to add to the bare world in order to tank.

Target Health bars

Press ‘v’ and get those health bars over the targets. This is handy stuff. Yeah they can clutter things up. Don’t be afraid to toggle them on and off if they are blocking something. But it is VERY handy as a tank to have instant visibility to the health levels of every target near you.

Combat text

I don’t use it. Too much information that is not useful. I don’t need to know how big each of my hits are. Scrolling combat text, while nifty, is a superb way to fill your screen with distracting information that is almost zero value to a tank.

BUT! There is something in there that is useful. Open the interface menu (escape then click interface) and find the combat text menu. Now turn on the check box in the upper right. The one that says ‘target effects’ (or something like that). This gives you one very useful little notification. Every time a foe changes to a different target text pops up over their head that says ‘changed target’. This is super useful for giving you instant knowledge of when something ‘pulled off’ of you. It is also instant feed back on if your taunt worked or if that pack you just LOSed has changed to coming for the healer instead of you.

View distance

As a tank you want to see yourself and the area all around you. This means you need a good size viewing area. Scroll your view all the way back. Now go back into the interface menu and select the ‘camera’ page. Notice there is a slider bar for ‘max view distance’. Crank that sucker up to max. You might not keep your camera zoomed all the way out but it is good to have the option.

Why? Well there are a lot of things behind you that you want to see. For one that is probably where half your party including your healer are standing. Naturally if any adds show up back there you want to know about it. Of course the camera view distance does not replace getting good with camera control (see situational awareness 1 and 2) but it does help.

Indoor camera bouncing

If you are in a tight space and find your camera is jumping around in a distracting way zoom it in closer. It does that because the camera is bouncing off the ceiling as you move. If you zoom it in until the camera is not glued to the roof it will help a lot. You have to zoom a lot. If your normal setting is WAY zoomed out, and you are into a very small tunnel then it will take a lot of zooming in before your camera is not glued to the ceiling.

It helps me to think about it like this. You camera is a literal camera that is invisible and floating around following you. Anytime you go indoors with a low ceiling your camera will float closer to you until it is inside the room with you. But the room has a bumpy ceiling. Every time you move the camera follows you. As it moves long the ceiling it runs into those bumps (rocks, beams, tapestries, whatever is up there). Your view in the game jumps around as your camera bumps up and down over those bumps.

Your zoom distance is not like ‘zooming’ the lens on that camera. No, it is instead requesting a new distance for your invisible camera to float behind you. If that new distance is STILL way farther back than the ceiling then your camera view will not change. You have to keep zooming in until your requested ‘float distance’ is less than the height of the ceiling. Now your invisible camera is not glue to the ceiling and so he glides past those bumps instead of hitting them.

That is it for the default UI stuff. Rest assured that you can tank great with only that stuff. But if you want to mess with your UI more here are some pointers concerning…

Addons

There are a lot of add-ons out there. They do a lot of things. Many do basically the same things. Some people prefer one sort of thing and others some other thing. I am only going to cover the minimum. With more research you may find other things you prefer. Remember what I said above. Always ask yourself if the utility of an add-on out weights the issues of visibility, distraction, active interference caused by clutter, and if the learning curve and possible information overload is worth it.

Omen – threat meter

Omen is threat meter. It works well. It give you a running list with the threat that your target has against everyone in your party. It only does it for one target at a time so it does not help you monitor threat on things you don’t have selected.

There are a LOT of interesting things you can see with omen. For example you can watch see visibly when taunts and threat moves go off. You can get a feel for how much threat each person in your party has. You see visually if someone is about to pull off of you. You can also see, by watching the bars move, if someone has used threat reduction moves. For example if that hunter unloaded on the boss really early you can quickly see if they used MD or not.

One time I watched as a DK on Ramps used deathgrip on one of the bosses. It was in the melee so it would have been hard to see normally. It was interesting one second I was well in the lead. The next moment the DK’s theat shot to the top and then vanished as he got one shotted. Pretty darn funny. I checked the logs later to be 100% sure it was death grip he had used. Prior to that I was not 100% sure that grip did a ‘taunt’ effect or that the effect works even if the ability does not move the target. Good stuff. I love Omen.

Another good way to use it is early on in a run you can see who in the fight is pulling a lot of threat. If you know early that one person in particular is doing a ton you can take steps to deal with it.

Recount

A lot of people whine about how recount is used. Recount is just a tool. Like a gun. Guns shoot holes in things but it is up to the user to determine if that bullet is robbing a bank, shooting up a school, or if it is defending lives in the hands of a police officer, soldier or responsible person involved in self defense. The tool is the same. Any tool can be misused. Recount gets a bad rap but there are a LOT of great things you can do with it. One way is as a poor man’s threat meter. Knowing someone is pulling double your dps can warn you they are likely to pull off you.

Also you can use it in conjunction with other tools. For example if that pally is doing as much as you on Omen but is less than you on recount then there is a VERY good chance they are accidently using threat moves. I have found noobs taunting many times, as I said, using Omen. The way you can check is if they are low on the damage output but abnormally high on threat. As a tank this important stuff to know. I might be that you are bad at holding argro or it could be that some moron DPS is in frost presence, righteous fury, or defensive stance. Rather than checking their buffs manually you can just watch the meters.

You can also use it to check logs and see some of who did what. Mostly that is good for seeing how much people suck but that does not tell you anything you can use for tanking IN the fight. Also you can use it to check how much healing is going on.

Big brother

I don’t use it but I hear you can set it to tell you some of the things like I talked about above. Such as checking if a DPSer is using tanking moves. I can’t say more about it because I don’t use it. Just be aware that such things exist if you desire them.

Unit frames add-ons

There are a lot of unit frames add-ons out there. They come in three flavors:

-Ones that are to replace your normal party frames over on the left.

-frames that are for raiding and put a large number of frames in a big block to help you with healing and other raid functions

-frames that replace the health bars over the Mob’s heads.

Unit frames

Unit frames are to swap the party picture/health bar stuff on the left. Some people love these. I can take or leave them. They do give you some additional information about the members of your party and their status so they can be useful.

Tidy plates / theat plates

These sorts of things go over the targets heads. They are GREAT for giving you an indication of which targets have threat on you and which don’t they can be set to give you warnings when things are about to ‘pull off’ and also to show you when you lose something. You can also have them show a small threat meter. They can also clutter up your screen. So use them with caution and mess with the settings until you like how they work. I personally use the ‘gray tank’ setting in tidy plates. Some settings in there have way to much glow and highlight effects. Ug, makes my eyes swim.

Raid frames

These can be used in various ways. Personally I used vudo. It is intended for healing mostly but I use it for some tanky functions. I have it set up to I can, on my warrior, right click a frame and automatically ‘intervene’. Also I have it set to show me who has agro so it is another way I can monitor that.

Unit frames have a lot of options and settings. Far more than I could go into here.

Power auras –cooldown and effects addons.

There are a few of these out there. The goal of these is to give you an easier way to see when you have various procs and cooldowns active. I don’t use them for tanking. You can I suppose but I don’t. If you are looking for some way to see such things more visually then check something like this out. I just look at my buttons.

Bartender –hot button addons.

The default buttons work… but there are some addons like bartender that give you a lot of extra functionality. I will only talk about tanking related features. One thing you can do is set some of your bars to vanish when you are in combat. This is something that in the avionics/aviation world is called ‘declutter’. The idea is that some things you don’t care about are removed when you don’t care about them. For example you could put all your buff food button mount buttons and other things you don’t use in combat on bars and set them to vanish in combat. This will give you more screen viewing area when you need it most.

Also button addons let you move bars around. So you can put them where they are easier to see, or easier to click on. Which is of course great when you are tanking and don’t have time to search around for something.

Also bartender makes it easier to do key bindings…

Key bindings!

Great stuff for tanking! If you use WASD to move while mouse aiming, as I do, then you can only get to the numbers 1-5 or 6 while maneuvering. Anything else forces you to move your hand. But you can use keybindings to get some more abilities into reach of your fingers. The cool trick I discovered, which has saved my furry butt a great many times, is to bind your tanking cooldowns to the F1-F5 keys. So many times when I have gotten in a pinch I have been able to just reach up and hammer a few of those. If it is a really bad episode I will just run my finger down the keys and trigger a whole bunch of cooldowns at once.

Key bindings can be done with the default user interface but addons like Bartender make it easier.

Another thing I use key bindings for is to put the raid marks (skull, X, etc) on my number key pad. The big ‘0’ key over there is skull. That is great when you need to quickly tell your party to focus fire on one target. Or, as with many of my parties, inform them which one to save for last. I swear half the servers in my battlegroup must use the convention of ‘skull means save for later’.

Anyway, that is most of the tanking UI stuff I can think of except for…

Macros

I am not going to cover much on tanking macros. Just be assured there are some. Google up some for your specific class and then bind them to some key. I use macros on my bear and warrior a lot. The bear has maul bound to everything. The warrior has two bars. Normally I have all my stuff bound to ‘heroic strike’ but if I press a quick ‘shift+up-arrow’ then my 1-10 bar swaps for the one with cleave macroed to everything. I also have a variety of ‘charge+other things’ macros.

That basically covers it. There are other tips and tricks out there but this is the basics of the tanking user interface.

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Invariant the Mage is now one pet closer to 75. This achievement is a pain. I spent a long, long time bouncing up and down in front of bookshelves. Fortunately I could log in on my offside while I worked…. would have been way more painful if I couldn’t.

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Guest Post: DinoTam

Greetings. Had this bear here do a portrait of me. Here I am relaxing in my den. It is more refined than a sunny rock though far less satisfying. I am not sure it captured my best side. I might have to pay him a visit later.

I mean REALLY… How can one be expected to sneak up and retain the element of surprise with ‘tropical breeze’ wafting off one’s hide. Intolerable I must say.

All this stress of poetry and what not. Really a bore. Still, that hunter that follows me around seems to enjoy it. Too bad she does not give him scales as much attention. I will have to let her know my displeasure.

DinoTam

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