Thursday, June 30, 2011

Post Patch Post

What? I like alliteration. Don't judge me.

My patch-day-jitters were ill-founded, and though I still hold on to some trepidation, things seem stable for the time being. I think we have - more or less - a steady group at this point with only one or two floater spots and I hope to fill them in soon. We even picked up a new Hunter on Tuesday night. Anyway. Enough of that - let's talk about how the last couple of days have been.

HOLY SHIELD:
After two nights of using Holy Shield - I'm still getting used to having an extra cool-down. Trying to figure out when to use it is interesting, I keep expecting to use 3 Holy Power immediately to keep Holy Shield rolling, but of course, I don't need to. Using it as a mini-cool-down every 30 seconds is fine, but I keep finding myself wishing I had it up again right after I use it and the cushion drops after 10 seconds. I'm going to need a lot more practice before I'm comfortable with this little bastard.

Right now, I suppose I'm happy to have it rather than just loosing 10% damage from blocks, which Blizzard could easily have done and called it a day.

TIER 11 in 4.2:
I wanted to do one last run-through of Tier 11 and grab a few items to slot in those blues, and boy howdy, the nerfs are something. The most common comment from healers? "I'm bored", and "I'm swapping to DPS." I'm pretty sure everything can be two-healed with a steady and solid group (except maybe Nef) and pretty much any mistakes you are making can be covered by three healing everything and just blunt-DPSing through the mechanics. We were breaking prior kill records by a minute to two all over the place. Though I suppose it's now tuned to people in blues and a few epics rather than a team with an average iLevel nearing 359.

We finished all of Bastion of Twilight in a little under an hour and all of Blackwing Descent in a little over one hour. The only wipe we had was on Nefarian when there was a miscommunication in Phase 2. Anyway. If you've been waiting for Tier 11 - now is your time!

FIRELANDS:
The raid itself is... well, not lovely, but it looks epic, and the layout is well-designed, I'm not quite sure how big it all is, but it feels roughly the size of Stormwind, maybe a bit larger. It's on par with Molten Core, AQ 40, Black Temple, and  Hyjal anyway, in terms of sheer space. The amount of trash is also a pretty shocking sight to take in at first, even after BoT's trash-filled rooms. And it's fun trash - for the most part you can just pull, AoE tank and burn it down, and when we did use CC it made the trash stupidly easy. The Hellhounds are the only except, and treating them like the kitties from Ulduar's Crazy Cat Lady helped.

It took us about two hours to clear up to Shannox without really pulling aggressively with a couple of wipes, and we did a pull or two wondering why taunts were not working (hint: they're taunt-immune) before we lost a healer and with the 2-hour trash re-spawn looming we had to run out and reset. Only later did I find out the Shannox trash was on a 4-hours lock out. Cest la vie.

We pulled much more aggressively and got all the way up Beth'tilac in about 30 minutes, which was much more reasonable. A few pulls went into Beth but we had trouble figuring out DPS balance between Drones, Spiderlings and Spinners, and with raid-time looming and people being tired, we just killed some more trash to get everyone up to Friendly with the Avengers of Hyjal so that they could pick up cloaks.

Aside from rep, there were some trash drops. My co-tank picked up the Scales of Life trinket from trash, and I picked up the Tanking boots pattern for my Blacksmith so I'll be crafting those once I get my hands on some Living Ember. By the way, the tanking cloak from Avengers reputation vendor is terrible for Paladins with Parry and Hit. Ugh. The quest reward is significantly better with Dodge and Mastery. I have both enchanted and am swapping them to see which I like better - the higher stat budget, or the purely better stats.

This is our three-night raid week so we will go back in tonight and I'm hoping we can kill one of the two bosses we saw last night which will give us a head-start for next week. I'll report back with details once I've hammered some out - likely after next weeks raid.

Good luck out there!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patch Day Jitters

It's 4.2 day and I'm excited to have a new zone, quests, new raid, and three-nights to attack it with, all in the same week! Excitement abounds and I can't wait to go home and revel in the disconnecting, crashing, buggy hell that is Patch Day Raiding! But who cares, after all? This is what we're looking forward to!



Evidently, I've been looking forward to 4.2 for some time with anticipation, excitement, hope - and no small amount of trepidation.

There is a small worm twisting in my thoughts, a dark cloud behind that silver lining, and I can't keep a bitter note from ringing through this excitement. I don't exactly know what it is that is making me nervous, what's to happen will happen and much of it is out of my control.

After the recruitment hell of 4.0 and 4.1, I'm worried about going through that all over again, especially with summer looming. The guild leveling thing is an issue that murders me dead every time I PUG someone awesome, check their recruitment status and they tell me they don't want to leave their level 25 guild. Most of my guildies are playing alts in other guilds or servers (and to be fair, I'm hiding on an alt myself lately), and I'm just worried that 4.2 will be no different from 4.1 for me, and I'll have to beg, cajole, plead and drag people to fill a raid team.

On another hand, while I'm not very competitive on the raiding ladder (I think the best we crawled up to was the mid-teens in ranking last tier after we killed Nef?) I don't really want to fall too far behind either. When I see people walking around in raid gear and titles and mounts, I start to get a bit ornery and grumpy and jealous because I know I can play at that level, and what's holding us back isn't gear, or ability, but the pure logistics of filling a raid.

Anyway.

The last tier of raiding just about broke me. It is the closest I've come to quitting the game out of sheer frustration. I've written about all my issues before, and I won't rehash them again. Running raids and guilds isn't always fun, or joyous. There are certainly moments when you realize why you suffer and struggle through it, and those moments just about make up for all the shit.

But standing here, at the mouth of a new patch, staring down three or four months of raids - I'm worried. I don't know if I have the stamina to go through this again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Shield & Paladin Block Capping

This is a tanking post and I'll go on a bit excessively about Paladin tanking, so you may skip it if you're not too interested. Go ahead, I won't be offended.

/jam hands in pocket
/kick a rock
/sulk

And I don't even play a Blood Elf. Zing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To My Esteemed Raiding Colleagues

Dear Raiders Upset About The Coming Nerf,

How are you, dear friend. I am sorry we haven't been able to speak as often as we used to, or even write like we did once, but our schedules match up so rarely.

You, after all, have your three, four, five night raiding schedule, while I'm limited to my meager six hours and when I am not absorbed in a raid, my son and my wife, my other hobbies and the banality work take up so much of my time. Where does it all go, my friend? Why can we no longer just get together and ride across the breadth of Azeroth as we used to, lo so many years ago?

But I digress.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Encounter Journal Has Killed Raiding (Not)

With the Encounter Journal coming out, and every boss ability laid out, bare and squirming, for all the PvE guilds to dissect and build strategies around, the raiding game is done, right? All that's left is execution. Might as well stop raiding now. Right?

Well... 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Exhausted

I went through this last year after we killed the Lich King and it's happened again now, where a lot of folks are just done with raiding and nobody logs in. It is so frustrating to deal with this kind of thing after working so hard, and it's not like I haven't set expectations - everyone knows I wanted to progress into heroics but this week has seen a steep, steep drop-off in attendance. 40 - 50% of the raid just didn't show up. And I'm left scratching my head.

Am I doing something wrong?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tier 11 done - again

My first major project on this blog is now finished. I wanted to write detailed and full guides to doing every boss in Tier 11 and I posted the last of it yesterday.

It's very gratifying to wrap up writing projects, and I hope the guides will be of some use to people, particularly the guilds going into T11 after 4.2. I will likely do a pass over all the bosses in one post as an addendum after the nerfs hit but the guides should work fine after 4.2 as well. If anything, they'll play things a bit too cautiously and that's never a bad thing.

Whew. I'm kind of exhausted after that and I'm surprised how much I thought about having to finish this up - but I'm glad it's done. Here is everything:
I'm hoping to be more timely with the Firelands guides - I'll probably wind up writing them up as we kill bosses.

Speaking of killing bosses in Firelands, we seem to have had a steep drop-off in raiding interest since killing Nefarian and I'm looking for some folks who actually want to continue raiding consistently and pushing into heroics - I play Alliance side on Moon Guard and raid twice a week (Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 7 to 10 server, which is Central).

You should come help me kill Ragnaros. Hit me up here, or on our guild forums.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HOW TO: Nefarian

This is part 9 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.

This is a very Paladin-tank specific view, and you'll excuse me for that, I hope.

HOT TO: Conclave of Wind and Al'Akir

This is part 8 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Still Queue As Tank For Dungeon Finder

I've talked earlier about my bad experiences in the Dungeon Finder system and I'm certainly not immune to the frustrations that come from dealing with DPS and Healers who have refused to recognize that I know what I'm doing, that the way I'm doing something is feasible and has worked in the past consistently, and refuse to accept the slightest criticism or suggestion offered up with a smiley.

But I still enjoy tanking for Dungeon Finder as there are some rewarding experiences to be had - I ran a few cap-heroics last night and here is how they went:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Banner

So far, I have been using screen-shots of night-time Stormwind or from the Blood Queen's boudoir as the Blog Header but I wanted something a little more personal and I was jealous of all the blogs with their own, custom header images.

One of my guildies and old, old friend Arte who is a wonderful artist offered to make something up for me when I was whining about it on Vent and this is what she came up with. Pictured are the two main characters that I play - Innana, my Draenei Paladin and Merricat, my Human Warlock, having a night out in Stormwind and spotting someone to make trouble with.

However cool the banner is, it diminishes the awesome detail that Arte put into the characters, so I will show you the original sketch she did as well so the detail can be appreciated (don't kill me, Arte!)


The great thing about it is that the drawing captures the themes and moods of these characters that I haven't done any roleplay on in a way that gives me a solid grip on their identity - Innana's cocky, kind of reckless devil-may-care attitude comes across loud and clear (which is so different from the human I used to play my paladin as before Cataclysm, it's enough to give me whiplash), and Merricat's moody, secretive, dark nature is somehow made absolutely adorable - yet still a bit dangerous.

She promised me more drawings in the future and I'm super excited to share them with you, or she can share them herself when she decides to start her Warcraft art blog. Thanks so much, Arte! :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

HOT TO:Maloriak and Chimaeron

This is part 7 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finishing Tier 11

Last night was a culmination of something I started at the end of January. It took us four months to get from pulling Magmaw to killing Nefarian and now we're done with all the normal mode raid bosses in this tier. Nefarian was the ideal place to end it - I think Al'akir would've felt a bit underwhelming if we had saved him till the end.

Killing Nefarian felt like it was the crowning glory of this tier. It literally felt like we had finally toppled this beast. As I've mentioned before, 12 bosses at the scale of difficulty that Tier 11 came in with, for a 6-hours a weeks raid, was just overwhelming and we really had to stretch our wings to get this far.

HOW TO: Trash and Atramedes

This is part 6 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HOT TO: Magmaw and Omnotron Defense System

This is part 5 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.