Buried up to my neck in raids, is where I've been.
Almost a month since I last wrote, and it's a bit of a shame - much of the normal-mode progression is already done, and I failed to document it. Ah, well. Still only about half-way through the tier, so there's more stuff to talk about.
This is the best state the class has been in a long, long time. One of my biggest complaints throughout Cataclysm was that Vengeance had made Hit and Expertise irrelevant for tanks but with Active Mitigation, we've got a reason, not just to soft cap Expertise, but actually get up to 15% so we can skip Parries as well. That's unbelievably awesome.
For one, we put out tons and tons of damage. Seeing 200k+ DPS isn't unusual for me on certain fights, like Heroic Stone Guard, or Wind Lord. Even on Will of the Emperor I can manage to squeak into the top three for damage done and not to mention the unbelievable healing numbers I get from Light's Hammer, Sacred Shield and Seal of Insight. Word of Glory becoming a cool-down has lowered its overall numbers, but it's certainly a life-saver at times, healing me for nearly 50% of my health with a 5-stack of Bastion.
And I hope I'm not the only one swapping glyphs and talents in and out just about every fight to optimize my play-style for that particular boss. Suffice it to say, paladin tanking is unbelievably fun right now. I have half an article written as an introduction to Paladin tanking that I'll be posting shortly.
The raids continue apace, bosses die, they drop purples, and we move on. Heart of Fear continues to impress, though the bugs (get it?) are frustrating, especially when they keep us stagnant when we should be progressing. Last night, Wind Lord kept enraging because Recklessness failed to stack on the boss despite a number of different things we tried, and we finally gave up and went to bed only to find a blue post on the bug-report that it is, indeed, a bug.
It's one thing for a raid to fail because we misunderstand a mechanic or lack the gear, or whatever, but to fail to a bug after hours of attempts is just plain frustrating on a helpless level. Especially since it's a new bug introduced after a number of guilds had already killed the boss so we're working with a handicap at this point.
To further the point, there is the humiliation - hyperbole, to say the least, but I can think of no better word - the embarrassment of having to go in and clear the second half of Heart of Far on LFR before I've even gotten to see the Empress or the Amber-Shaper on normal-modes. It distresses me - but it also motivates me to push ahead and try for more this week. Though, of course, this week, we venture back into Mogu'shan for some Heroic raiding, but I hope we'll be able to make things work in Heart of Fear as well.
Heart of Fear
Despite the bugs (heh) mentioned above, the raid itself is quite fun. Vizir and Blade Lord are both good fights and continue the strand of personal responsibility and execution that Mogu'shan began. If you as a raider are asleep at the wheel, it's going to be difficult to carry you or to kill the boss at least in this phase of the tier. Garalon took a bit of doing, but we did kill him twice - coming excruciatingly close at times before wiping to the enrage. My favorite wipe was the one where he went immune with a single hit-point left on a leg while he had less than 2% health left. Did you know his enrage Crush goes through immunities? Heart-breaking. He died the next night without too much of a bother.
That's two out of three excellent raids already and tonight, Terrace opens up. I'm disappointed not to be going in there at 7:00pm server tonight, but such is the way of things. Perhaps next week if we manage to kill the Empress this week - though that seems remarkably optimistic. This staggered release was excellent, but for this two-week buffer between Heart of Fear and Terrace - I feel that another four-week gap would have been excellent, and it would give guilds the time to kill all normal modes and get a couple of heroic kills in before focusing on Terrace.
Content is coming too fast - and 5.1 is on the horizon! Perhaps I'm getting too old for this.
And lastly, I was made a full member about a month ago. I don't know if I mentioned it or not, I don't think I did, but there we go. It might seem amusing, but I was a bit nervous - I know I'm a good player, but I don't know that I'm great and part of the nerves came from knowing that I had nowhere to go if I didn't cut it here. Regardless, I'm very glad to be in Occasional Excellence, and very glad that I made the cut. One of the big reasons for this change was that I had issued a challenge to myself - could I play well enough to be in a hardcore guild and remain, if not on the cutting-edge, then in the vanguard of raiding guilds? The answer, I suppose, is that I can. It's gratifying.
As one of my favorite Sandman comics said about falling from mountains, "Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly."