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Archive for March, 2011

We have some folks tanking our raid this week that don’t normally tank. So I decided to post the short short version of how to tank 9 of 12 cata raid bosses. This is VERY simplified and aimed at poeple that already know the fights as a DPS or healer and just need to know the tanky bits. Enjoy!

Magmaw

  • Get in range fast. Don’t ranged pull and then run in slow.
  • Try to not use big cooldowns when you get omnomnomed (mangle) but if you have to, use them.
  • When he comes up off the spike be sure you are in your tanking position and that you do some serious threat as fast as you can.
  • Use something to stay alive for the first 30 seconds after he comes up off the spike. That is the worst time for heals.

That is all. He is easy.

Omnomnomistron Defense

  • Pick up bosses fast on that first cycle. This is CRITICAL. Keep your camera on the next boss near wakeup time and have your taunt ready.
  • Don’t stand near bosses that are about to wake up unless you plan to pick them up fast
  • Know which boss is your turn and which is your partner’s
  • Tank your boss a 1/3 or ½ way across the room from your partner. If you are too close adds or fire beams can kill you or the other tank.
  • Be ready to click off your auto attack and stop hitting the bosses for 10 seconds when their shield is up. The shield last 10 seconds. When it goes down,  start up your rotation again.

-Fire guy

  • Keep him slightly to one side of the room. Think about where people are going to run from the laser thingy.

-Poison guy

  • Move out of the poison cloud FAST. Leave the boss in the cloud if you can.
  • Put him against a wall, or in a good spot and KEEP HIM there. Don’t move around. The kiters need a consistent spawn point for the adds.
  • Stun one add yourself if you can.

-Lightening guy.

  • Don’t move around a lot. People need to stay spread so just pick a spot and let them move around you.

-Arcane guy

  • Move him out of puddles fast.
  • Interrupt as much as you can.
  • Dont forget to still interrupt while he shield is up.

Maloriak

-Boss tank

  • Know who is doing what interrupts. If you are doing some do them right. If you are having trouble with them try to swap the plan around so you can do the storms. Infact, unless you really have a handle on the add thing, just do the storms.
  • Make sure you don’t accidently hit an add pack instead of a storm.
  • Hold the boss right where he starts. Use the first few seconds of the fight to line him up. Remember he runs back to the pot when he throws a vial. Don’t follow, just wait in your lined up spot.
  • If you get the first mark on your head don’t move, but pop some big cooldown to stay alive.
  • When you go to the back for the green phase, remember the boss will hit hard and there will be an arcane storm to interrupt. Move back to the proper boss spot as soon as you can while still interrupting all arcane storms. Missing one now will wipe the raid.

-Add tank

  • Pick up adds fast. Get plenty of threat and debuffs on them as soon as they come out. By the time you are at 3 packs you are going to be getting pounded. If the fire is coming when you have 3 packs, don’t stand in it.
  • Get the adds to the bottom of the steps FAST when it is green vial time.
  • If you get 3 packs in the second cycle they hit harder than the first time. Big time ouchy.
  • Get max threat on BOTH huge adds as FAST as you can when they come.

Chimeron

                -boss tank

  • Find your spot before the fight starts and STAY THERE (until the last phase).
  • Watch for the ‘double attack’ DBM announcement. When you see it don’t do anything, but start watching CLOSE for a big green/yellow vertical arc the boss does toward the other tank (or watch for the other tank’s health to dip). When you see it, taunt. If you don’t see it, but the boss is instead casting massacre, taunt anyway. The other tank usually picks the boss off you before the massacre starts and the boss should be back on you after it goes off.
  • When it is stack up time you don’t have to be doing much threat or being in tank mode at all. You can throw heals or whatever you want to keep people alive.
  • Be sure to be back in tank mode doing good threat as the stack-up phase (feud) ends.
  • In the final phase live as long as you can while dragging the boss to the back left corner.

-Off tank

  • Watch for the double attack announcement. When it goes off, taunt right away and then do your best threat for a few seconds.
  • After a double attack, remember to let the other tank have the boss back. Slow your threat if you have to.
  • Don’t forget to stack up!
  • If the double attack is really a massacre (DBM announces a nonexistent double attack before massacre) let the main tank have the boss back.
  • As you go into the final phase, run to the far right hand end of the room and try to live as long as you can.

Bind dragon (1 tank)

  • Tank the boss in the center of the room or wherever the raid leader says.
  • Tank him at max melee
  • Dodge the rings as good as you possibly can but try not to back up. Just move side to side
  • If the flame breath targets you or is headed your way, move! It might LOOK like it is going to go behind you but it still gives you sound.
  • Stay moving in the air phase but be ready to pick up the dragon when he lands.
  • In the later phases, just position the boss as best you can WITHOUT moving through any walls of fire. If people whine that he is in a bad spot mostly ignore them. Just do your best with the room you have to maneuver.

Throne of the 4 winds

                Go read my old post on this one. Tips for the conclave of the wind

Halfus

-Boss tank

  • Range pull then get on the boss.
  • Interrupt if you have that dragon.
  • Watch your stacks and clear them if you have that dragon. The stacks go to 20. Don’t let them get over 14 before you clear them. Don’t let them get over 9 without using some cooldowns.
  • Try to pay attention to where the other tank is if you are going to have to tank swap.
  • If you have the interrupts dragon be sure to spam your interrupts as you come out of the 3rd stun when he does the triple stuns.

-Off tank

  • Pick up the dragon as fast as you can.
  • Kill it while doing maximum threat.
  • They hit hard so use cooldowns if you need them
  • Be ready to pick up the second dragon fast when the first dies.

Twin dragons

  • Keep the purple one in a stable spot without plenty of space all around it for people to spread out.
  • Dodge the fire spray on the purple dragon.
  • When the dazzling swirls appear on the ground dodge them while running toward the center of the room. Run fast. Turn your back on the dragon. Use cooldowns.
  • Pick up the blue in the center of the room and do good threat even before he feet hit the ground.
  • Keep him in the center and faced away from the ranged group.
  • Don’t move around much and if you do, tell the melee in vent that you are moving.
  • When the fire strips come, remember you can move away from them without moving the dragon. If it comes in the middle just face him to one side or the other and you will be save. If it goes down on a side then just face him toward the stairs on either side.
  • If a void zone appears just shift to the side.
  • This fight is ALL about using the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys to side step and rotate the dragon.
  • After the 3 flame strip be ready for the purple dragon to land
  • Tank her in the center.

Elemental council of jerks

                You know… I don’t feel like explaining this one right now. Let’s just leave this at 8 of 12. :P

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The Shuffle

I’ve known for weeks now that Reversion and I won’t be raiding tonight. Unavoidable, and sadly not the last time it’ll happen, two weeks from now the same thing will happen. But life happens. Other than Repgrind I think every one of our raiders who has been with us since Cataclysm started has gone missing some week. And she’s got to go on vacation sometime right?

I didn’t think it would be too big a problem at first. I’d just find another tank and healer. We’ve got plenty of people who have told me they are willing to heal… but tanks, not so much. I don’t know what happened but we’re down to three regularly playing raid tanks right now in guild. For two raids. Reversion is both of our best geared bears and tanks both regular raids.  There are several other people with tank sets, or tank alts, but not who play as tanks.

Well my backup plan was always “Make Rep tank”. Her DK Kalyon is a nice tank when we have to pull him out of storage, which we’ve already done a couple times when Log has been elsewhere. She even volunteered a friend of hers to heal in her place, so we were good.

Then Log announced he couldn’t make it this weekend either, thanks to Uncle Sam. Sigh. That meant both our regular tanks were out and I had to find someone. I started whispering around guild, asking “Say, is your dk a tank” and things like that. The reply was invariably, “No, but why don’t you ask [DKTank]?”

Only problem was I hadn’t seen the fabled tank online for weeks and when I asked Repgrind she said “Didn’t he transfer servers?” So that was a no go.

I was going to ask someone else, but didn’t manage to get online at the same time as him all week. Then Wednesday night while I’m doing something, I see him in Blackwing Descent. Well, crud.

Ado mentioned a friend who might tank, it sounded great. He asked, and the friend couldn’t help. Sigh. Meanwhile one of my raiders was whispering me that her sister wanted in as heals or dps this weekend if we had a slot. Argh! Not a tank! Don’t need dps or heals! Nobody else in raid has a tank!

Well… but… there IS someone who mentioned he could try tanking for us if we ever needed it. I whispered Ado and he agreed it sounded like a plan.

Um, Grom, I know you weren’t online last night when I was, but you do still have that tanking mace from Magmaw right?

I can’t wait to see how many bosses they get down tonight! Hope they’ll save me Chimaeron and Atramedes, I need pieces from both of them. Saturday night we should be back in time for raiding, tired as we may be, and I’ll get to hear how well this goes….

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I did a little work on leveling my paladin this weekend. She’s working through 84. Sunday she got the Twilight Highlands opened and joined a quest for Crucible of Carnage. Since she’s going to be holy at max level I’m picking up int gear as it drops. Not a fan of ret; I either have no buttons to push or too many. Ugh.

So now and then I heal an instances to work on her xp, instead of questing. Sunday it had been a while since I’d healed but I queued with some guildies and we got Stonecore. I think we had three guildies but the tank was a pugger.  I know Repgrind was along for sure.

First, the tank drops group. Ok. So we wait a bit and a minute or two later here comes another tank. He charges in. Thankfully Repgrind interrupts the guy who turns into a whirlwind because I don’t think the tank believed in interrupts. Or crowd control.

So we proceed through the dungeon. Now my standards for tanking are pretty high, because Reversion is an awesome tank, but even so this guy is not good.  He’s not terrible, he holds aggro, but that’s it. He doesn’t use CC and he doesn’t communicate with us. We kill the first few bosses and proceed to Orzuk while killing as little trash as possible – which wipes us once and nearly wipes us another time. Sigh.

And then he sets up to pull Orzuk… without killing either of the trash packs closest to him. I ask in guild if it’s for real but decide to let him try – because I want to laugh. We start. He fails about half of the time to run far enough away from the pound thing. Sigh.  And then it happens – the group we didn’t clear gets pulled, and we die.

We run back and kill that group and then Orzuk. Sigh. Why we couldn’t just do that at first…

The final fight I managed to kill a lot of the adds because I know how to make them stand in bad stuff. Not sure the tank did much of anything. Repgrind interrupted lots of Force Grips and it ended up being pretty easy to heal.

Fade to black.

Monday night Reversion was tanking for the other raid so Repgrind and I queued up together, again me on the baby holy pally and her on her warrior. This time we got Vortex Pinnacle. Once again the tank disappears almost as soon as we reach the instance – a dc this time. I was going to give him a  minute but someone started a “kick” vote immediately. Five minutes later a new tank appears and we start.

“Gogogo” says the mage. Why must it be a mage who always does this sort of thing? I love mages, I was a mage before I was a healer, but man they seem to be the worst. And I pride myself on keeping mages alive!

“Gogogo” was about all he said and he said it every few minutes. We were making good time too! Then we killed a boss and jumped platforms…. and the mage sat there on the other platform… and sat…. and sat. Finally he moves. “Back,” he says, not having said he was going afk in the first place. “Gogogo”.

We keep going. We clear the first of the groups by the lightning triangle things, you know where there’s a set of steps up after them with star balls at the top. Well we’re recovering after the fight…. and Mr. Mage says “gogogo” and runs up and starts. Well I saw a dot moving and followed, then realized it was the mage and the other three party members were still downstairs. So I stopped healing him. The rest of the party comes and starts joining in. I tell Repgrind “DPS slower!” as the mage’s health creeps down… and down…. and then he dies. Victory! We kill the stars and I rez him. He doesn’t say anything…

We finish the trash pulls, go down, kill the other stars, and are looking at the boss. Mr. Mage is still upstairs. Finally he comes down and says “Gogogo” so we pull.

I was trying so hard to see if I could get him killed that I…. let myself die. Fortunately at that point the boss was almost dead and they finished without me. I think it demonstrated pretty clearly, though, that I can’t heal stupid. Not stupid tanks, not stupid mages, and not even myself when I’m stupid.

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They All Fall Down

Not every boss in Cataclysm, but a good share of them, met their demise at the hands of Crits and Giggles raiders this weekend. We went into Bastion on Friday night with our entire raid group there, ready to raid, and excited. We even had a hunter – Ado wasn’t saved on his hunter so he could come on that instead of the spriest – and I knew it was going to be a good night.

Two purple epics before Halfus were a great sign. Especially when one was the bracers for Falahla! Her mage is really getting epiced out! And then the staff dropped for our holy priest – I’ve already got one – so yeah, awesome.

Halfus was a slightly tricky combo. We lost Empyrean, the priest, at about 30% – but I brezzed him and we ended up with everyone standing when the boss went down. One shot – we’ve been one shotting him for weeks now.

The twins died in one attempt too. It wasn’t always the prettiest attempt but we’ve got those two pretty well figured out. Some trash, and then it was time for our progression fight, the Twilight Council. We’d put in enough work on them that I was pretty confident they’d die.

We did really well at keeping the dps balanced between them, everyone was alive at phase 3, and I started holding my breath. Could we do it? I popped tree and healed my heart out and then – they were down. One shot. First kill for raid and guild both.

And we had over two hours left in the raid so it was time for some Cho’Gall attempts! Several of our raiders had already seen him so the rest of us got an explanation and we started working. Long story short, quite a few attempts, we made some real progress, but we weren’t downing him and when the trash respawned, we headed to Blackwing to get some farm bosses down. It was getting late and we were sloppy; it took three attempts on Magmaw. One attempt somehow our ret pally couldn’t get on his head – not sure if it was a bug or what. But he died. Then we went and looked at Omnotron, but wiped and it was closing time.

Saturday we came back, exact same setup for once! We one shot Omnotron and took 3 minutes off our best kill time.  Then downstairs to Maloriak where we…. wiped. It was going beautifully, too beautifully, in fact, and we realized we needed to hold dps on Maloriak to make sure we got our second green phase. So several of us ran over to where the adds were – myself included – just in time to get out of line for the fire blast and die horribly. I felt like such an idiot since I’m pretty sure I was the first to move to the wrong place…

Came back, did things right, kill him. Got the healing trinket again, we almost always do. Kerick won it but then let me have it. Hurrah! I’ve given away about four of those so far… very cool toy.

We did a bit on Chimaeron, didn’t down him, then decided to go try a few attempts on Cho’gall. Again, we made some good progress and I know we’ll down him eventually but we need to be better with stuns and interrupts, and possibly find a way to two heal it. That or make all our dpsers pull 20k. I like that plan better.

So we went and one shot Four Winds so fast I think we only had two complete cycles. It was nuts.

Next week we have problems. Friday night we’re going to be down two tanks and a healer from our regular rotation. I’m working on filling slots but we have a sudden horrible tank shortage in guild. I think we have three full time tanks right now. It’s bad – and this is speaking as someone who is married to a tank and so gets runs whenever I want. Reversion is tanking both guild raids on his two bears. Not entirely sure what happened, we had more tanks a while back.

But I will do my best to find people. Reversion and I won’t be raiding Friday so I am eager to hear how things go. The best test of how well we’ve put together this raid is how it performs in our absence, I think.

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Hey, Rev here.  I have not posted in a bit so I figured I should get some sort of update out. So I have been raiding 4 nights a week. Ug. Actually it is not too bad but it does blow a lot of nights out of the water. The other guild raid, the raid formerly known as ‘raid 1’, runs on Sundays and Mondays. There was an attempt at getting a third raid off the ground, opposite Analogue’s and my run on Friday Saturday but it looks like that might not be going on any more. I think the guild could support another raid but really mid week might work better for the people that want such a run.

Anyway, Raid 1 had been having some personnel swaps and ended up with a tanking hole. A few weekends back they asked me to fill in with ‘squishy bear’. Also known as Reciprocal, squishy bear is my other 85 druid tank. People ask why I have two 85 bears…. Well… I like them, heh. Reversion’s gear is looking pretty sweet (just 2 blues left) but Reciprocal is still lightly geared (all blue with a handful of purple). Fortunately for Raid 1 I knew the fights they were in so I did not have any issue stepping in with the spare bear.

So since then I have been getting roped in week after week. Trying to convince myself it was just as a fill-in until they get another tank… well it looks like a long term arraignment. I have had some disagreements with a person or two in that raid… but hey, we are raiders and raiders know when to buckle down to business and ignore meaningless stuff. The raid is business and the show must go on and all that. And ‘go on’ it has The group is quite experienced and well balanced and for the last few weeks we have had the same crew each time. That helps a LOT. Our own raid, Analogue’s and mine, has had issues with that, as her last post mentioned, and that has really slowed down our progression.

The interesting thing about running with two groups is seeing strengths and weaknesses and seeing what works despite differences. For example the Friday Saturday crew tends to do a better job keeping the magmaw adds out of the melee. But the other raid, who sometimes fails at that tends to get them killed faster. The strats we use cause this difference as a natural outgrowth. One has everyone stacked in melee. That causes more rdps to not have to move and they get their firepower on target faster and harder. But that also means there are more chances for someone to be too far from melee and drop a set of adds on the raid. The other group has more people at range. This keeps the adds one where they can’t get to tanks and such but it also means the rdps is moving a lot and can’t kill them as fast. Interesting differences and tradeoffs.

I love tactics. I guess that is why I like raid leading. It does get hard being in someone else’s raid. I have to bite my tongue a lot. I have to keep my interjections to a minimum. Thinking of myself as a fill-in actually helps with that. I can shut up and let them do it the way they want to. That raid already has a lot of ‘cooks in the kitchen’ so one more, even if I have a high opinion of my own ideas, does not actually help the strategy. At some point more inputs just muddy things up. So for me it is an exercise in just looking for those critical bits I think need mentioned, or else just the bits that apply to my part of the fight.

So where are we at? Well ‘raid 1’ last week cleared 5 of6 in blackwing and this week we came back, did 5 of 6 and spent a whole next night wiping on the end boss. They also popped over and after a few wipes got their first kill in the Throne of the 4 Winds. So right now both raids stand at 7 of 12 bosses. Each raid has gotten ‘guild raid first kills’ on 4 bosses. The Friday-Saturday crew got got first kills on Halfus, Omnomnomitron, the 3 wind bosses, and the twin dragons. The Sunday-Monday crew has took first on Magmaw, Maloriac, Chimeron and Atrimedies. In three of the four of those on both sides the other raid went in soon after and downed that boss.

As you can see we are neck and neck. It is great that this guild can field two progression 10 mans. Right now overlap between the raids is 2 people on a regular basis with 1 or two more swapped in on occasion. Those people are usually alts. We have many people with multiple raid ready alts. (I have been killing raid bosses on 3 of my 4 85s)There is plenty of cross communication of strategies as well. We also are coordinating what epic level enchants we buy so the both raids will have access to the good stuff.

Each raid has gotten down one boss the other has not so the guild wide progression is 8 of 12. We have made guild attempts at two others. So as a guild we have fought 10 of 12. Personally I have been at the first downing of I think 7 of them and for 11 of the ‘raid first’ kills if I remember right. We expect to get a minimum of one more next week, perhaps two, and there is a smaller chance of 3. If we get lucky we are just a couple weeks from fully clearing all 12. More likely we are 4 to 5 weeks from that. Also it is the outer edge of that before any one raid or even one character gets all 12. Right now the Friday Saturday crew is working on the Ascendant Council and planning to go right into Chogall after that. The Sunday-Monday crew has been working on Nefarian but is considering if they want to go hit somewhere else first. I logged off before that discussion was done so I am not sure what that plan is for next week.

What I am trying to say with all these stats is that we are doing great! Grats to all Crits and Giggles raiders and keep up the good work! If Bliz holds off 4.1 just a little longer we can down all the normal heroic bosses before more content is out. And we are sure to get them down before any new raid content is out.

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That Worked

How many people out there raid with their full perfect team every week? I envy you. I don’t know we’ve ever had our “perfect” team. Seems we always have to pull someone in. This week may be an exception; I don’t know. After that we’ve got three weeks in a row where Reversion and I will be out definitely twice and possibly more. That’s not going to help.

Anyway, this week we were missing our mage, the lovely Falahla, and Saturday her husband our shadow priest would also be unable to play. I started recruiting a guildie early in the week but he tentatively was helping out a different raid. He promised to keep me posted. And one of our semi-regulars would be available Saturday but not Friday so at least that was one slot filled.

Friday rolled around and I asked Repgrind to make sure that either we got the warlock or someone else – because I was going to be over in the next town standing in line for an ipad. I’d be back before raid time, but maybe not in time to find our tenth man. She promised to help out, of course, and I set off on my quest without any concerns.

I get back and find that Whodowhat can after all! Huzzah! Lock buffs for me! But…. where’s our hunter? She logged off right before raid time…. I got into a conversation with her sister and it turned out there was some RL stuff going on. Ok. RL comes first… but now I have to find a replacement. We get someone and head to Bastion.

Halfus dies easily but the Twins take a bit. Actually even Halfus and his trash took us a while – yes we one shot them but things just felt slow, like we weren’t all really feeling it. I certainly wasn’t and I couldn’t identify why, but raid just felt off.

After far too many wipes  – I think 3 maybe 4 but I’d like to two-shot those guys, at most – we got the twin dragons down and started clearing toward the Council. We wiped on that trash, came back, cleared it, and just before we started discussing the pull, two of us dc’d.

We waited…. and waited. Nothing. Finally we gave up and decided we’d switch to BWD and do Magmaw and Omnitron. We got some guildies’ alts and went over. We decided to do Omnitrom first; it took a couple tries. Then we went to Magmaw, wiped, and we were past quitting time so we disbanded. A bit disappointing, really, only three bosses down in the whole evening and no attempts on our progression fight but that’s how things happen sometimes.

Saturday night, rinse and repeat – again had to get a spare guildie in to fill a slot. Only… what we could get, was another healer. Empyrean, our new priest healer, isn’t comfortable dpsing. Kerick would have swapped to her mage but we really needed those paladin heals. We were bringing in a  disc priest and I realized sadly that the best person to go dps was me.

Probably I should have gone for my mage but I do want to be able to boomkin respectably, and there’s gear I need, so I just swapped specs and we started on Magmaw. The first couple attempts didn’t go to well; Empyrean was trying to heal our whole ranged group and it wasn’t working. So we had the disc priest come out too, and Kerick kept Logarithm and the melee alive. That worked and the worm died.

Downstairs to Maloriak. We one shot him, just like last week. Logarithm is an awesome off-tank and does a great job rounding up the adds. I never get healing aggro  from the giant untauntable guys. We did better on that fight than we ever had before because our setup was just a bit more AOE heavy. That was probably the only fight in BWD that night that I felt like I was really doing my job as dps.

Reversion and I had previously discussed strategies for what to do Saturday nights after Maloriak and had sort of agreed we wanted another look at Chimaeron. So we went over there. We ended up using a four healer strategy…. and the fourth healer was not me. Nope, we had our elemental shaman go resto and I… stayed boomkin. There were a couple wipes as people learned the fight, but eventually we got everything down. Reversion and I used our Tranquilities at specific Feud phases, we had two shaman casting Healing Rain, and just enough dps to get through it.

When Chimaeron went nuts and started one shotting the dps, I wasn’t totally sure we’d make it before enrage, but after the tanks died, he went after Grom, who bubbled and managed to keep his attention for a long time. It gave us the edge we needed, and he went down.

I am really glad we got that kill, but selfishly – it’s  healing fight, and we didn’t get it until a setup where I wasn’t healing. It kind of makes me feel bad. It was the right call for our raid setup but I just don’t enjoy dpsing, not when I should be healing.

 

We did a few tries on Atramedes then went over to Throne of the Four Winds to do Conclave. Had a couple new people so we had two wipes. After the first, I went heals and swapped with the disc priest. She hadn’t been there before and I know how to heal that fight in my sleep and we were all tired… so after the third try, when they went down, it was more a sigh of relief than of triumph.

It worked. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had with this raid, but I did enjoy myself.

Next time though, I’m making Kerick switch. So what if the tanks die? I think we know what’s important here…

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So Friday I stood in line for an iPad. That wasn’t the original plan, I was just going to order one, but when I realized it wouldn’t arrive in time for my upcoming trip, I sprang into ation. Reversion and I coordinated our attack plans and desired stats and used our phones to communicate. I tried the Best Buy in the next town per but was turned back by the overwhelming line without even parking my car. Instead Nomster and I got to Walmart. Reversion meanwhile was in line at Walmart in our own town. Long story short, success! I have a lovely iPad in black, even, and a fancy cover on the way.

Well of course Friday night is raid night and I set up my new iPad right next to my computer. Let’s see… I can check email while inviting people to raid. Cool. Or read blogs without alt tabbing out. Or wow insider, or… You get the point. But I could also pull up encounter guides, videos, or even just look up spells, without needing to look away from WoW. Hmm I could like this…

Saturday I need to check my invitees for the raid…. iPad has the armory app on it already, pull it up, check the calendar. There we go!

Sunday afternoon I get on and do a little archeology. Why look! I can surf the web, play Angry Birds, lots of different ways to kill time while flying between dig sites. This is cool!

And now? What do you think I wrote this post on? Takes time to get used to the keypad but it’s not much slower than the normal way.

Yes, this pad is going to fit my lifestyle just fine….

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Dealing With Baby Aggro

WoW bloggers having babies is a popular theme right now, with Fannon‘s Dwarfling and Angelya’s Sprout being the most recent. Angelya’s isn’t even here yet! Of course, the Murlocs have a Twig, there was a baby over at HotsAndDots last month (followed by the site mysteriously going dark… hmmm) and of course Phaelia at Resto4Life left blogging in part to concentrate on her baby.

And it’s not just bloggers, but people in guilds and around the servers that have kids too. In our regular raid, we have a couple that has two little ones. Other guildies have to take baby breaks too – almost as many baby breaks as puppy breaks (Hi Grom and Log).

Since  we’re coming up on two years’ worth of Playing While Parents, I guess we’ve learned a few tricks. I’m not claiming we’re experts on balancing WoW and babies but hey, it’s a topic I like so here you go.

First off: babies are actually really freaking easy at first. They scream, they eat, they poop, they sleep. That’s about it. They also like to be held a lot and sung to and coo’ed at but the sleeping bit happens a lot more than you might think. If you’re fortunate enough to have a baby with dependable schedules, schedule your playtime around her naps.

Second, there are some awesome devices you can get that help you snuggle or feed the baby while playing. I really really recommend the “Boppy” pillow or similar. It’s a giant horseshoe shaped pillow, probably my favorite little baby gear ever. When Nomster was nursing, I could have it on my lap, her on top of it, and manage feeding her with one hand while I healed with the other. As long as she didn’t need to switch or start fussing, we were good. If she did, well… I did have this song, “Baby wipes the raid”…

There’s also various slings that can let you cradle a baby hands-free. These are awesome for shopping (way more convenient than those carseats you’re supposed to lug in!) or chores, or playing WoW. Nomster really loved sleeping in a sack next to Mommy’s heartbeat and it left my hands free for raiding!

When they get bigger, they get more demanding but also more predictable. Bedtime starts being a thing you can really plan on. You can either plan your playtime for after the baby’s bedtime, or schedule a baby-break into your plans. We’ve had a graduated series of containers to keep Nomster in near our computers; a pack and play when she was little, a big play yard now. She hangs out and plays and visits with us for a little while between dinner and bedtime, we play WoW. Since we’re both right here, when she needs something, one of us can take the aggro while the other covers in-game.

Make sure you communicate with your party or raid if you’re doing some group activity. Saying “BRB baby aggro” has never yet gotten me any negative feedback.  Don’t abuse it; if the baby aggro is a little bruise or a new diaper, go for it. If the baby needs playtime or a bath, well, maybe you’d better let them find a new healer…

Solo activity works well naturally; I recommend doing your daily quests and such while you have active baby time, and save instances and raids for bedtime. If some of your WoW time is on a laptop in the playroom while Toddler shows you what he just picked out of his toes, solo stuff is probably your best call. At the very least be prepared to explain to your party that when you just said “wetgwrebvfastew” what you really meant was “Ooops, kiddo got the keyboard”.

Exposure to adult content  – you don’t want your toddler having nightmares. When I was playing Dragon Age I made sure only to play when Nomster was sleeping. I didn’t need her seeing that violence or even the sound was just too much. I don’t really want to wake up at 2 am to a heartbroken toddler sobbing incoherently. WoW is pretty darn mild. The blood is basically nonexistent, death is fairly tame, and the sounds aren’t very scary. Vent, however, can be another matter. Remember if you hang out with people who use language you don’t want your toddler picking up, that headphones might be a good call.

Before very long, your little one is going to want to play right alongside you! Now that’s a topic for a totally different day! I always get a kick out of reading about bloggers’ six year olds running around Goldshire killing sheep. But Nomster is only 2, too young even for a death knight with all the keys bound to Death and Decay.  If we’re still here blogging in four years you may get some posts about ways to incorporate WoW into educational stuff…

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Maybe next time

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Over the weekend I read Rhii’s post about saying what needs to be said – including the positive things! and how innocent comments can lead to drama. And then Bossy Pally’s followup, about taking and giving constructive criticism.

And because you can’t read things without seeing parallels to events happening to you, Saturday night’s raid gave me a chance to see two different situtations where there was a problem, and fixing it.

Friday’s raid was awesome. We had a new priest healer and a replacement ret paladin for our usual one who was out doing cool RL stuff. We one shot Halfus and two-shot V&T – our second kill, first kill for at least three people in the raid, and put them firmly on farm. We worked on Twilight Council until trash started respawning, then went and downed Council of Winds and Omnotron before quitting time.

Saturday night we formed up and went to take on Magmaw and didn’t have the easy time we were expecting. The new priest had killed him, but in a different raid. We had someone playing a hunter who usually heals, our substitute ret paladin usually tanks Magmaw and so hadn’t done chains before, etc. So we wiped a couple times.  I noticed I was having a harder than usual time healing the raid, and the tank was doing a lot more dying than usual.

So Reversion wanted to give Logarithm, who is our Magmaw tank, a few suggesti0ns. He had the three of us switch to a separate vent channel so that they could talk quickly and efficiently. Because we know Log – he is my brother – and he knows we respect his skills, we knew he’d listen to what Reversion was saying and see where he could improve.

At the same time I was whispering the new priest. He’s a friend of Repgrind’s and had been doing a great job for us, felt like a great addition to the raid, but I didn’t know him as well. Again, neither Log nor the priest had done badly. They weren’t being called on the carpet. We were just having trouble with a fight we should have on farm, and needed to change things up a bit.

So I asked him for a little more aoe-healing help. We’d already switched so Kerick was beaconing me (because I get healer vision sometimes and let myself die!) and keeping Log alive. But even so, when Magmaw was mangling him, sometimes I had to throw some hots his way. If the raid was pretty healthy, that worked great, but if I was trying to keep us alive then it wouldn’t work.

The priest saw my point at once, we reminded people that Lightwell is their friend, Log made whatever changes he was planning to make, and we downed the boss next attempt. Picture perfect.

When there are things the whole raid, or large parts of them, are doing wrong, for instance, not getting out of fire fast enough, then the whole raid needs to hear the correction. (I just used up my daily allotment of commas there). When it’s a small change for one person, a whisper works well. A larger changeup makes Vent a good tool for discussion – but when the change only involves a single person, keeping it private can help make sure the person understands he’s not being called out or picked on. If Log or the priest had thought they were being accused of failing, it would have been harder for them to hear the advice.  They weren’t failing, but when they made the changes the raid’s performance as a whole picked up.

I’m very pleased to have a raid full of people who can listen to each other and take suggestions. We are still at 6/12 but Twilight  Council is on notice – if we’d had 3 ranged and not 2 in our best attempt Saturday night they’d be down now, 7% and we just had too much melee for that phase – and then we’re going to talk to Cho’Gall.   (After we downed Magmaw, we one shot Maloriak. That was satisfying; it meant for the week, we had 3 one-shot bosses and 2 two-shots. Magmaw was our only farm boss to give us lip!)

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