Monday, September 30, 2013

Change Roles?

I think I might be done with tanking after 4 full expansions of doing nothing but that.

It's a weird feeling to say it out loud, and I've said it before, but honestly, I think I might be done with it for good. The question remains whether I'll stick with my class or swap over to a different one, but still, as things stand now for me, I'm done with the role of tanking as my main spec after Pandaria (since it's pretty late for me to change roles at this point.)

The reasoning behind it pretty much split evenly between a fewfactors.

  1. I'm just bored with tanking, because honestly this is the second tier in a row where tanking is dumb and easy and with no real challenges or interesting mechanics to manage
  2. Tanking is such a core mechanic to the game that like healing, once you take on that role, it becomes very difficult to do anything else but be stuck in the role
  3. It is nearly impossible to find a tanking slot if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are looking for a new group, as most raid leaders will cut off their own fingers than have to recruit a new tank
  4. I'm honestly looking for a role that's more interesting and fun and dynamic than tanking
  5. Playing a DPS role also lets me be more flexible about my time. If a tank doesn't show up, raid doesn't happen. If a DPS doesn't show up, raid goes on

I thought about switching to Heals full-time but that's just not going to happen. Healing is something I enjoy occasionally, but it's never a thing that I love to do full time. And I also know it's very easy for me to fall into old roles too easily so I might wind up playing a class that's a pure DPS rather than a hybrid, simply to keep me on the straight and narrow, as it were.

My warlock has long been a dark-sheep favorite for me, often competing for my attention and even now she's my second-highest geared alt (which isn't saying much, but still.) But I'm a lover of melee overall, and would really love to play Retribution full-time, if not go dual-wield Frost (probably my favorite melee spec.) Choices!

I think it'll be good for me. Keep me playing the game longer, while switching to a more flexible role. Now, I just need to do something about pushing numbers and playing in a more competitive category...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Siege of Orgrimmar - More Tanking Tips (bosses 4 - 7)

The difficulty in Siege is bothering me a bit. I don't know if it's just dumb plain easier than I was expecting, or if the abilities being used at least in normal mode are scaled so that they can be powered through by out-healing or out-DPSing them by a team with sufficient gear from the previous Heroic tier. The team is certainly well geared, probably averaging out to the high 530s, which isn't that exceptional considering most heroic guilds are averaging in the mid 540s, but it's certainly a hell of a lot more gear than most normal-mode guilds. Anyway, we'll see how it goes in the second half of the raid...

After a (relatively) quick and painless kill of the Sha of Pride, we got a bit stuck on Galakras and wound up spending all of our second night on him, struggling to work out how exactly to transition into phase 2. We came back on the third night, and struggled again for a bit, but after dropping a healer, realized how quickly adds died and that made the transition quite easy. We wound up killing it fairly quickly at that point, I think. With barely an hour left in raid, we walked up to the rather intimidating Iron Juggernaut and after a quick wipe, wound up hitting enrage on the second pull with about 1% left on the boss. Unsure if we just got lucky, we tried again and killed him in a couple of more pulls.

With about forty minutes remaining we walked into Orgrimmar itself and began clearing out a ton of trash. The courtyard is about as crowded as you might imagine a player-populated Orgrimmar might be on a moderately populated server - probably a bit overboard, but at least it was simple trash and went down quickly. I was expecting to spend a considerable amount of time on Dark Shaman, but our first attempt got them to 50% and the second (or third?) one got the kill. I was fairly stunned at that point.

Now, I'm all for taking credit when it's due, and I think our team is quite strong, but this seems ridiculous. To kill the 6th and 7th boss in a raid instance this quickly feels.... weak. Throne of Thunder had Jin'rokh, Primordious and Twins, who were just as silly,  but they were three bosses out of a set of twelve and the others all demanded a fair amount of work. Perhaps these two along with the first two are the "gimmies" of this tier, leaving 10 bosses to work on, which I suppose is okay, but two bosses, back to back, that die quickly, to fairly sloppy play, feels... I guess weak is the best word for it.

Anyway. Last time I covered the first 3 bosses, and now it's tips time for the next 4.

Sha of Pride
This is fairly easy for tanks.

You'll be swapping with your co-tank on a very tight timer, so you need to be extremely alert to the Wounded Pride debuff. Do not let the boss melee your co-tank when that debuff is up, and never taunt while your debuff is ticking. Other than that, we handled one of the two prisons along with a healer who cheated in our direction, and picked up the small adds from casts of Reflection.

Leave the Manifestation of Pride to the DPS - we actually tanked in the opposite direction of the room from him, so that the DPS could take turns soaking the Pride rather than have it splash us all the time.

Lastly, as your Pride grows, watch out for casts of Swelling Pride, step AWAY from puddles below 50 Pride, step INTO your puddle after 50 pride, stand AWAY from people after 75 Pride, and at 100.... well, kill the boss before the next cast of Swelling Pride or you'll be permanently MC'd.

This one isn't too terribly hard. Same Heroism/Bloodlust for when the boss hits 30% and rip into him before he turns your entire raid.

Galakras
You'll either be the tower tank or the add tank. If your Healers overgear the instance, 2 healing it makes the fight a lot more manageable. 3 healing it leads to extra adds hanging about a bit longer, but it's not that big a deal.

Add tanking is fairly simple, keep Shaman interrupted and stunned as much as possible, kill banners, and for gods sake, watch Fracture that the Bonecrushers will cast on the Faction leaders. If the leaders die, the fight will reset. Stuns are great for interrupting them, then taunt them back, or have an Elemental Shaman or a Druid stand behind them and push them away. That's probably the hardest part of tanking the adds.

Tower tanking is also fairly simple, run in, agro the adds at the bottom, run up the stairs, don't fall down, engage the mini-boss at top, don't get knocked off. I found turning off unit frames and turning off floating combat text for this fight helped considerably, as the area is small, the graphic is confusing, and doesn't display the area affected, and your line of sight is interrupted by flying drakes. Once the mini boss dies, drag any adds up to the archers and cleave everything down. Do that twice and you're ready to transition.

Ideally, you want to transition without any adds. Shaman will heal the boss and Bonecrushers will still try to kill the Faction leaders, and if they die, you will still wipe.

We wound up lining up in a row, everyone stacked behind the boss, person with the Flames of Galakras ran to the back of the pile to allow the orb to be soaked, and people moved in and out to manage their own stacks. We tank-swapped at about 5 stacks, and then whenever the debuff dropped after that point. Make judicious use of raid-wide CDs, Warlock cookies, personal CDs and so forth as Pulsing Flames will start to hurt quite a bit about half-way through.

Iron Juggernaut
Position the boss close-ish to a wall so you don't get tossed too far during Siege Mode, have the raid spread out between the boss and the wall, and we held the boss parallel to the wall, to keep range on the tanks. We swapped at 3 stacks, making sure the first swap came just before Crawler mines came out.

The most important job for tanks on this fight is to dodge shit in the ground, swap for stacks of Flame Jet and soak as many Crawler Mines as possible. I found that I could easily soak 2 each time, and if they weren't too spread out, I could soak all 3. Since the damage is physical you can mitigate quite a bit. If you time it right, you can have Shield of the Righteous up for the first, heal up and take the 2nd one with a Glyph'd Divine Protection. If you need to take a 3rd naked, it shouldn't kill you with ~800k health. With a 30 second DP you should have it up every time your turn to soak comes up.

You can also Bubble-soak all 3 during Siege mode quite easily and take no damage at all as everyone is being tossed about, though watch out for the oil puddles. Honestly, that's all there is to this fight.

Taunt as stacks reset, use a cool-down for the third cast of Flame Jets (it starts to hurt quite a bit around there), have a plan to soak mines, collect loot.

Kor'kron Dark Shaman
I don't know how much I can say about this fight. I'll just outline our plan going in:

- Each tank picks up one Boss and one wolf
- Kill the wolves quickly without putting any damage on the bosses
- Swap Bosses every time stacks of Froststorm Strike every time they reset
- The tank not currently soaking Froststorm Strikes should  pick up adds spawned from Foul Gyser from range (they do a huge amount of pulsing damage around them and do further damage in the spawning area) and then kite them while ranged DPS burn them down
- Move away from.... pretty much everything else

We started near the barrier by the Bank, kited back towards the gates, then moved up towards the Drag. That's it.

--

New week tonight - hopefully we can put these seven on farm and move into the second half of Siege. Other than the wonky difficulty, I'm enjoying the tier quite a bit. I only wish I was under a Blue banner instead of Red.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Siege of Orgrimmar - First Impression & Tanking Tips (bosses 1 - 3)

First night into the raid wasn't as productive as I'd hoped, but it was still a very good evening and nothing to cough over.

The first three bosses went down in Normal mode with a little over two hours of actual work - we had some trash wipes to overpulls, and some connection issues, and stopped a bit early for Flex - and then we took another hour to clear through all 4 bosses available in Flex.

There's not much more to say about Immerseous other than that it's the loot-pinyata of this tier. After looking over the journal, I was worried about the Fallen Protectors - it looks extremely complex with 8 NPCs all using different abilities, and I thought, similar to Horridon, it might become a huge stumbling block for Normal mode and more casual guilds. In execution, it was ridiculously simple, we 2-shot it rather easily with three healers and no issues over enrage.

After an absurdly long train of Sha-trash through the Dark Heart of Pandaria scenario space, we came up to Amalgam of Corruption (aka Norushen) and that was the first encounter that required a few eipes and planning and positioning but even that only took two attempts after we swapped in a third healer, though the kill was razor-thin, as the killing blow landed at the same second as the insta-wipe Enrage. But that's more of an optimization issue. Fun times.

Anyway, here are some quick tanking tips:

Immerseous

You cannot take a  Corrosive Blast with the debuff. Just don't do it. Flank him and leave about a 45 degrees gap between you and the other tank. Don't stand in puddles, kill adds, and then collect loot

Fallen Protectors

Leave Sun Tenderheart alone, she's untankable, one tank should hold Rook Stonetoe next to her for the initial burn to get some good cleave action going, while the other tank kites He around the outer perimeter to drop off poison puddles. The only thing that the Rook tank needs to worry about is positioning so that no one else is hit by Vengeful Strike. The He tank should be careful to avoid Gouge by turning away from the boss or use a CD if you did get hit.

Pro-tip: Glyphed Divine Protection with a 30-second CD thanks to the new Unbreakable Spirit is awesome for both He and Rook. Especially since you can use it while stunned.

Desperate Measures: Rook spawns three adds that should be tanked, keep avoiding Defiled Ground and don't run into Inferno Strike or you'll bring the ground debuff with you. Interrupt Embodied Gloom if you can, and this is a very easy phase. You can't do much to help with He's Measures, but you can provide Hands of Protection and Hands of Sacrifice if the person with the mark needs help. Lastly, Sun's Measures require you to be inside a small dome to avoid taking the raid-wide AoE. You can soak it with chains of CDs but there's no need - position yourself right at the edge with Rook facing you out of the sphere, and no one else will get hit by his frontal cones.

Amalgam of Corruption (aka Norushen) 

Survive the tanking challenge, tank swap the boss on high stacks of debuff, pick up the big adds, help kill/interrupt/stun small adds when you're not tanking, soak 4 puddles of Residual Corruption each, and dodge the cutter. That's honestly all there is to it. The amount of AoE damage going out is very high, but three healers eased that part of the fight considerably, along with liberal use of Devotion Aura and other raid-wide CDs for casts of Icy Fear sub-40% or so depending on how many CDs you have (Devo, Tranq, HTT, Spirit Link, etc.)


Tanking Challenge: This one is pretty damned simple, once you realize you don't have to kill the add, you just need to survive for one minute. Shield of the Righteous (and I imagine, other Active Mitigation abilities) will diminish most of the physical damage you take. He uses four abilities more or less on cool-down. Most dangerous to least, and what you do:

1. Titanic Smash - 2 second cast spell, can't interrupt. Frontal cone attack. Run through him or strafe well to the side. It hits for 1 million damage (before armor, absorbs, etc.) You can (barely) survive it with ~800k health, but there's no reason to get hit.

2. Hurl Corruption - 2 second cast spell, you need to interrupt it, the cooldown is a second or so longer than your interrupt cooldown so you can get every single one. Make sure you're in range if you're strafing too far for Titanic Smash. If you have it on CD for some reason, Avenger's Shield will do the trick. It hits for ~700k Shadow damage and is painful. Watch the timer and don't get hit.

3. Piercing Corruption - 1 second cast spell, can't interrupt. Physical attack that hits for 600k, Shield of the Righteous makes it very trivial.

4. Burst of Corruption - 2 second cast spell, can't interrupt. 300k health shadow damage AoE. Heal it with WoG/EF or soak it with SS, it's not a problem.

Also, keep using your defensive abilities, it's more important that you survive. No need to save them for later.

One minute of that and you're done.

--

Sadly, no loot for me so far, but I've only used one coin, as the second and third bosses aren't offering great items for upgrades. But I did finish off my Legendary cloak, and that's pretty awesome. However, it doesn't feel awesome. More of that in a later post, I'm sure.

Anyway, I'm not going to comment about Flex as we it was very late, and we burned through it rather messily with 15 people with eyes drooping. You'll be fine.

Tonight, I'm hoping we make it at least past Galakas - though I secretly hold out hope for killing Iron Juggernaut. Enter the gates of Orgrimmar will be very satisfying.

Good luck. everybody!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blame Kare

Oh, hello, again!

It's been a while. Two or so months, now? I had a lazy summer, but I still managed to complete and publish a small anthology of stories with some friends, and that was a very gratifying process, we're going to continue and do a much bigger book in the spring. You can read about it here on my writing (and general interest) blog (where I will probably be writing more often, if you're especially hungry to read my stuff.)



Unable to help myself, I tipped my toes back into raiding as well, with some friends, or tried to, but it didn't work out very well. My dear, long-suffering friend Thistleberry and I were aching to do some heroic raiding and when our old group of friends splintered (it never really jelled in the first place), we decided to shop around. Finding space for a Protection Paladin and a Discipline Priest isn't easy, let me tell you.

But we lucked out and Nephilim of Hyjal was rebuilding their team and we happened to fit into their gap. Two weeks of rather intense catching-up to heroic-raiding later, we find ourselves ready to enter Orgrimmar with a new team.

I don't know how motivated I was to start writing again, until I found out last night that one of the new healers who joined about the same time we did was none other than Kare of Ysera's Daughter, and after a few whispers about blogging and bloggers (yes, we might have talked about you) mid-pull, I found the itch for the old Warcraft blogging community returning.

Raiding with Ophelie back at the start of the expansion was a lot of fun, and I liked that feeling of reading her posts and seeing the raid through her eyes, getting her impressions and chatting in vent (which we didn't get to do as much as I'd have liked!) And while I was raiding with Aliena, it was again, really fun to be part of her videos and contributing to the community in some way. It's a fun feedback loop, to raid with other members of the Warcraft creative community at large that motivates one to enter the fray again.

Thus, the title, blame Kare for motivating me to write again.

Tonight, we'll be going into the massive, the daunting, Siege of Orgrimmar for the first time, and while I'm quite excited to wreck Garrosh's house, I'm sorely disappointed that I won't get to do it under a blue banner, because Nephilim is a Horde guild. Alas, my beloved Lion of Stormwind won't be cresting my armor as we cleave through rows of Orcs but I suppose I have my warlock and flex raiding over on Proudmoore Alliance, and that will give me a chance to plunge my sword into that narcissistic bastard's throat.

Symbolically, of course.