Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tanking Isn't For Everyone

Several months ago I wrote a long post called "Raid Tanking Isn't for Everyone" that I ultimately didn't put up because I figured it would be too easy for guildies to identify the person I was talking about, but I had an experience last night (through the random Dungeon Finder of course) that reminded me of that older post and parts of it are still relevant.

I ended up joining a heroic OK that was already in progress. For some reason they'd lost a dps, and their tank DCed about a minute after I arrived. After it became apparent he wasn't coming back, we vote kicked him out and our replacement arrived.

He was sporting 25k health.

Obviously an entry level tank. Low enough to be concerning, but not impossible to work with, especially if he knew his stuff. People would just have to be careful.

He trucked over to join us and the first thing I noticed was he was wearing Shoulderguards of Enduring Order. Wait, he's sporting ilevel 245 shoulders and his health is only 25k?

I inspected at him, and besides the shoulders he had only a couple other epics, the CoS shield and a ring, but the only thing socketed was the epic shoulders (with an epic blue gem, so he did it properly). He left his blue helm, which had room for a meta, unsocketed. Not only that, but nothing was enchanted.

Here was someone who plainly wasn't going to bother enhancing anything until it was epic, and here he was to tank our heroic.

Most tanks I talk with or whose blogs I read are raid tanks, they take pride in their gear. To do anything less would be a disservice to the people who depend on them. They get a new drop and it's gemmed and enchanted before the next time you see them, if it's not done in the first five minutes after raid. (If the tank in question is a JC/enchanter it might even happen during the raid itself.) These tanks know they're the first line of defense and the maintenance of their gear is tied more strongly to their ability to do their job than any other role.

Though I wouldn't expect a pug tank who may never raid to have top of the line gems and enchants, when you're just starting out every little bit helps, gives your healer room to breathe. Our healer wasn't well geared either, being completely in blues. A few heavy borean stam kits are cheap compared to most enchants, and six of those would have given him another 1000 health. Green gems might not be fashionable, but they're also cheap.

Surely the thought that more health is better must register even with the newest tank, right? Those gems and kits could pay off in repair bills avoided while he gears himself (he once mentioned how much it cost him to repair). And he should have at least put a kit on his shoulders if he wasn't eligible for a Hodir enchant, since he cared enough to put an epic gem in it.

I kept my thoughts to myself. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I try to give people the benefit of a doubt. Sometimes they look undergeared, but they do their job just fine. The no enchants really bugged me though. It always does when I see a tank without them.

So we continue on our way to deactivate those orbs at the top of the web ramps on the way to the second boss. The tank ends up dying near the end of one the pulls and I pull an emergency bear form, growl, and barkskin to keep the mobs off the rest of the dps. The healer apologizes, saying he got spell locked, and rezzes the tank. I remember that being a problem back when heroics were still hard so this doesn't bother me too much. Both tank and healer are entry level 80s.

We beat the second boss without a problem, and then we entered the big room with all the cultists and their elemental pats.

We cleared the pat at the bottom of the stairs, and from there I usually see tanks grab a stationary cluster of four cultists to our right. What I don't see is the tanks hug the adjacent wall and start pulling the elemental groups.

This tank ignored the group of cultists and attacked the nearest stationary elemental group. This would have been okay if he'd actually pulled them back and up the steps, but we fought them more or less where they stood, which meant that the elemental pat came up behind us and attacked.

Had this been a raid geared tank and healer, it would have been survivable. But being who they were, they could not handle the additional adds. We wiped.

We came back and the tank attacked the same group again. I say attacked, not pulled, because there was no pulling away to fight in a safer area. So we got the adds again and died.

The tank asked, "Where'd they come from?"

The healer's response was partially bleeped out by my swear filter, but did mention that they were the same group of adds we'd just died to two minutes ago.

At this point the tank said he had to repair, so he ported out to repair (which was adventure in itself since he couldn't find an NPC near him to do it). While we waited for him to come back I decided I would start marking pulls for him.

When he did get back I told him to range pull the group of four cultists with the skull. If we cleared them that would give us the safety we needed to pull the elemental pat and then we could ignore the group that he was originally going for.

As I told him which group to pull he had shuffled over towards the elemental group (for the third time!) that we had yet to kill without aggroing adds. He asked why should he pull the marked group instead. And as he did the elementals aggroed on him just from his proximity. And then somehow, someone got knocked into that very group of four cultists, causing them to aggro, and I said "So that doesn't happen."

When we inevitably wiped the healer said the tank was the worst he'd ever seen and dropped group, followed immediately by the other two dps. The tank asked what did he do wrong. After all, he was holding aggro.

And I, feeling a bit sorry for him, since he genuinely seemed clueless, told him that there was more to being a tank to holding aggro. It was situational awareness, knowing how to pull the mobs, knowing which mobs to pull, avoiding unwanted adds, avoiding putting the party in a dangerous position.

But despite what I told him he insisted that he had pulled the right pack of mobs and was tanking them in the right spot, lol. (Yes, he did include lol's as he told me he was doing the right thing.)

I didn't know what else to tell him other than he asked for feedback and I gave it. I asked him, if he really did do everything right, then why did everyone leave?

It was blunt, but hopefully I gave him something to think about. I left on that note, because it was late and I should have been in bed already. I could have gotten on my high horse and said I'd tanked this before on both my raid-geared 80s, he was pulling wrong end of story. I could have asked him if he was blowing his tanking cooldowns. I could have said he was undergeared for what he was trying to do. One of my guildies suggested I should have asked him if he was defense capped (probably tough at his stage without enchants).

But there's only so much coaching a person feels up to at 1 am and I wanted to focus on why that specific pull resulted in a repeated wipe. He was undergeared, yeah, but we still could have made it if he played better.

The funny thing is… after one of the wipes, we'd lost a dps and so we had to re-queue. I made sure to queue as both tank and dps, in a vain hope he would have a dps off-spec so the dungeon finder would give me the tanking role and we might actually survive. But he only queued as tank, nothing else.

I realize there are some people who live for tanking, but oddly enough don't seem to have a clue how to do it. I've met them before. The subject of "Raid Tanking Isn't for Everyone" was one of them. That person ran every heroic under the sun, multiple times, wanted badly to raid tank, but had horrible situational awareness, didn't like to take advice on how to spec, and didn't like to read up on tanking strats. But man that person wanted to be a raid tank.

A lot of what makes a good tank comes from practice, so every tank is a nub at some point. One of my old guildies was a fabulous warrior who could tank Shattered Halls so well you'd think he was a paladin (back when only paladins were good AoE tanks), and he liked to tell me how bad he was when he first started.

But this 25k tank in OK must've had at least a few instances under his belt given his shoulders (45 emblems… probably at least eight or nine heroics) so he couldn't have been all that new to it.

I think it takes a certain type of person to be a good tank. A tank needs to be a good observer, because they need to know who and what's happening around them. A tank needs to be adaptable, because sometimes things don't go according to plan. A tank needs to be aware of their strengths and their weaknesses. A tank needs to realize the safety of the rest of the party resides first and foremost in him or herself. A tank needs to go that extra mile that others don't.

I'm not always a good tank, but I've run with tanks who are, and it's not always enough to just hold aggro.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Feral Druid Hits 80! Nub Kitty/Bear Coming to a Dungeon Near You!

Look out Shadowburn, you have a new 80 feral druid who's going to be jumping in all your Dungeon Finder queues looking for epics. I took a nice snapspot of Darkker in her newly minted level 80 cat gear. Unlike Hana and Gillien when they hit 80, she has nary a TBC epic on her. Everything she's wearing is pure WotLK gear.

The good news is, I made her dual spec into bear, so once she has a chance to do some more gearing that's one less dps Shadowburn will have to contend with and one more tank to take three of those dps on a romp through heroics. The bad news is she's newly 80 so while she likely has the gear to tank the older WotLK heroics (you don't need to break 40k health, or even 30k, to tank heroic Nexus), you're not going to see chain pulls from one end of the instance to the other and if you're a healer you might actually have to work a little.

She has 26k health and 30% dodge in bear form. I know tanks used to run with that, but it's been ages. I admit I'm a little shy about taking her out for a heroic spin as a bear. She might have the gear with a forgiving group, but I don't expect a Dungeon Finder pug to be anything resembling forgiving. It's far easier to go as dps and quest/do AH stuff while waiting for the queue. By the time she runs out of those sorts of things to do she'll have the gear she needs to be a proper chain-pulling, aggro-hogging tank for your average pugger.

And I did have five low level epics waiting for her too, thanks to leveling my leatherworking. I have both trollwoven pieces, the polar chest and boots (just for tanking), and the Ice Striker's Cloak. Avoidance isn't too hot with the polar set I know, but everyone's gotta start somewhere.

I plan to be kitty for any initial pug raiding though. I'm not taking Koralon punches like this, though I probably could squeak by as dps. Admittedly it's embarrassing seeing the achievements fly up for my fresh 80 since that just sends up a noob flag, but then there's a certain satisfaction that comes with getting that achievement and out-dpsing other people in the same run. I might be a nub 80, but I sure as heck do more than those slackers doing three digits dps.

After a few heroics I can safely say I pull about 1800-2000dps, depending on buffs and the types of boss fights. If the stars align and I get a Bloodlust on a single target boss fight I can break 2500, just barely. It feels horribly low, but it's just a gear issue, and in a way it gives me some perspective. I realize that I've forgotten how much dps a new 80 does in a 5-man.

I haven't been in this position for a while now, since Hana and Gillien were both 80 before Ulduar came out, and it's kind of fun looking at a world where nearly every 5-man holds promise of a potential upgrade. I'm even looking forward to rep farming. Darkker is my only 80 on this server so she has to earn her head and shoulder enchants the hard way since I can't mail anything to her.

My worst fear, that I would be Vote Kicked for being a nub, hasn't materialized at all. Though my feral has been on a couple heroics where people have complained about the dps, the complaints haven't been directed at her. In one of them, a hunter that was doing about the same dps as her dropped group while we were waiting for our afk healer. The party leader, one of those "raid tanks" sporting a spiffy title, said something to the affect of maybe we would get a real dps to replace him.

I thought that meant he would have taken a dislike to me as well, so I prepared myself to be derided throughout the remainder of the run, but oddly enough he was perfectly friendly to me. And I have to wonder, given the postings by other bloggers, if perhaps it wasn't that this guy didn't like the hunter's dps, but the dps the hunter was putting out for his gear. I was trying my best in blues and a trio of low level crafted epics, I wasn't going to break 3k in a 5-man with my gear, but the hunter was fully purple.

I'm also looking into feral add-ons. I tried Feral By Night briefly, but it's too fast-paced for me. By the time the suggested next move registers in my mind it's generally gone and I don't feel like I really understand the underlying priorities that are telling me which move to use. I'm not learning as I use it.

I probably could adjust it, but I found that what I really was looking for was something like Squawk and Awe, the moonkin debuff/proc timer bars; something that would tell me in a bar form when my buffs/debuffs were going to wear off so I could make the decisions myself (and thus learn). So I'm currently using Bad Kitty at the recommendation of one of my guildies, and it looks like this one's going to work.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's already Christmas to some of you out there! It's not quite time yet for those in California like me. Either way, have a very merry Christmas. And if you don't celebrate, I hope you at least have the day off work to rest and relax.

I'll catch up with you folks later!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[Druid] Okay, Maybe I Will Try That Typhoon

I was reading Villainus's comment on my last post, where I described my annoyance with the Tankspot Typhoon strat, and while I do disagree with some of what he says, one thing struck me in particular. If you don't have a point to spare for Typhoon, you're wasting talent points somewhere.

At first I was annoyed because anecdotally speaking, I don't know any raiding moonkin on my server who use it and if one wants a greater sample size, the most common PvE moonkin spec does not include it (link generated by WoW Popular, formerly TalentChic). One has to go down to #5 on the list to find the first spec with Typhoon, which indicates that either a lot of moonkin are "doing it wrong" or it's really not as easy or necessary to spare a point as he suggests. Elitist Jerks does not consider Typhoon a must-have either, if you look through their moonkin article in their Theorycrafting Think Tank (recently updated for patch 3.3).

But, I run an unusual moonkin spec. You won't find it on WoW Popular at all. I suppose you could say I'm one of those "doing it wrong." I decided months ago that I didn't need my mana regen talents and dropped every single one of them. I even dropped the supposedly mandatory point in Moonglow and took a point in Genesis. I wasn't running out of mana. The dps increase from Genesis is marginal at best, but marginal is better than the zero, right?

If I could, I would take the point in Genesis and toss it in Typhoon, but I can't.

Villainus says that Typhoon is 2-3% of a high end moonkin's dps for any fight with at least two targets, which doesn't sound like much, but not bad for a one talent point investment. If I was to remove a point from my current spec for Typhoon it would be from Brambles, which is another marginal talent. This would decrease the damage done by my treants by 5% and my Thorns (I always thorn our tanks) by 25%.

My treants typically do around 30-31k damage. If I remove a point from Brambles they'll do 29-30k. If it's a long fight I'll cast treants twice. If it's a really long fight I'll cast it three times. That means at most I'll lose 3000 damage from my treants if I take out a point. That's not much at all. But what about Thorns? It's passive damage, but the boss isn't going to exactly stop hitting the tank, is it?

Our first 10-man Marrowgar kill, the boss took a whopping 74k from Thorns (not too shabby for a spell cast pre-fight). Taking out a point in Brambles would reduce that to 63k. Our first Marrowgar kill took seven minutes, so obviously the numbers generated by Thorns are better the longer the fight goes on, but we can look at Thorns as being roughly 10.5k damage for each minute of the fight; down 9k damage if I take out a point.

Let's get everything into similar time units. We'll go with three minutes since that's the time for Force of Nature to come off cooldown.

With 3/3 Brambles:
Force of Nature – 30-31k damage
Thorns – 31-32k damage

With 2/3 Brambles:
Force of Nature – 29-30k damage
Thorns – 27-28k damage

The damage lost for a three minute fight would be about 5k.

So for Typhoon to be worth it, it must do at least 5k in three minutes without disrupting the moonkin cast rotation (which would require more dps to be done by Typhoon to make up for the time the moonkin would normally be casting other spells).

I'm looking at it and suddenly it doesn't sound so bad at all. It's been a long time since I've been specced into Typhoon, but surely I could fit 5k damage over the course of three minutes when I'm running/shifting positions and I already have both my dots up.

Now, I still disagree that if a moonkin doesn't have Typhoon they are wasting points elsewhere, but for those who have the room, it looks like it's viable, and a better pick than a point in Brambles. Though, this does mean said moonkin will have to remember to cast Typhoon, because I'm not in the habit of it at all. And it does mean said moonkin will have to do a better job of pointing herself at the boss so the Typhoon actually hits him.

My guild's on a bit of a hiatus with the impending Christmas before us. We won't resume our regular raid schedule until January 4th (any other raid between now and then is purely optional and might consist of fun runs rather than honest raiding), so I can't say with any certainty when I'll get to try out a boss fight with Typhoon in my spec, but I think I'm going to give it a whirl and see how my World of Logs parse comes out.

I still won't be taking it for the knockback though, which was the reason for the eye-rolling in my last post. Now that I've read up on the 25-man strat I can see why that would be desirable since there are five blood beasts on Saurfang, but it's unnecessary for 10-man which only has two, and my guild only does 10-mans.

I'll also be glyphing [Glyph of Typhoon] to improve my ability to hit a target with it (wider radius) and use it when I can't cast anything else due to movement issues or to use as a cheap AoE. If it all works out, it should be a dps increase.

Of course when I show up with Typhoon now I'm going to have to explain that I don't have a knockback for it, but yes it really is Typhoon and seriously, I didn't decide to start PvPing on my moonkin.

(And amg I actually did a post with math in it!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

[Druid] I'm Not Specced for Typhoon, Quit Asking

Thank you, Tankspot, for making so many people suddenly think that all moonkin are packing this blue knockback spell and they've just been hiding it all this time. That's what happens when an optional raiding talent gets highlighted in everyone's favorite strat video series.

The fight in question is Deathbringer Saurfang. Two blood beasts periodically spawn and have to be dps-ed down as fast as possible while not being allowed to hit anyone, because if they hit someone they make Saurfang's blood counter go up, and when his blood counter hits 100 bad things happen.

There are a number of ways to keep the blood beasts away from people. Ranged dps can ping-pong threat between them. The beasts can be stunned or slowed by Frost Traps or Earthbind.

One of the methods specifically highlighted by Tankspot was Typhoon. Why Typhoon? It's a ranged spell that has a knockback effect, so the moonkin can use it to knock a blood beast away from its chosen target before it reaches it. It has a 20 second cooldown, which should be good enough for it to be used once a spawn.

Would I use it if I had it? Sure.

Would I spec specifically for this fight to get it? No.

Maybe if this was Arthas and we knew we'd have to be top of our game to beat him, I would. I did respec for our Twilight Zone attempts after all, back when that was the pinnacle of 25-man raiding. But Deathbringer Saurfang?

Now, no one's been asking me to spec for it. But last week we got to Saurfang for the first time and went over the strat and someone said, "Yeah, moonkin can use that blue knockback thingy of theirs." I explained that we have to spec into it and it's not really considered a raiding talent. He shouldn't expect a raiding moonkin to have it.

It was our first time meeting Saurfang. Explanation given. All good.

Second time meeting Saurfang. Different person. "Moonkin can use Typhoon to knock back the blood beasts."

Oh no you didn't. I now realize that I'm in all likelihood never going to get away from this. Even when pugs begin to regularly farm Saurfang there is always going to be that one guy who's thinking "That moonkin is being such a lazy ass and not using Typhoon!"

A couple nights ago a moonkin friend joined our guild run since the holidays had depleted us of a dps and he was also baffled by the Typhoon request, because we as raiding moonkin just don't spec for it. We could make room for it, sure. Our talent trees aren't that tight. But most don't bother.

So why don't raiding moonkin take it?

Typhoon is very situational in raids. It doesn't have a place in our rotations which rely on the core four spells of Insect Swarm, Moonfire, Wrath, and Starfire. It doesn't do enough single-target damage to be used every cooldown like our Force of Nature or Starfall spells. And while an AoE of a sort, it has a knockback effect which generally annoys tanks when used on trash and doesn't work on bosses. While it can be glyphed to remove the knockback, that defeats the purpose of why you would want it on Saurfang.

There are occasions where Typhoon can be useful; zombie chow on Gluth, blood beasts on Saurfang. When you don't want adds going someplace it's not bad to use it if you have it. But the problem is that it's situational. The vast majority of boss fights it's not necessary, so the moonkin interested in maximizing his or her boss dps generally will not take Typhoon when it is possible to take something else.

Some moonkin will take Typhoon for PvP, or for flavor because they feel they have a talent point to spare, but because it's not considered a core raiding talent, it shouldn't be assumed that all moonkin have it, which is why the Tankspot video is potentially irritating. Because it's Tankspot, it's held up as the default go-to strat, and it makes it look like moonkin should have Typhoon because after all Tankspot says they should use it.

So this is what I do to control adds on Deathbringer Saurfang.

Two beasts spawn. All ranged focus fire the add on the right. I Wrath the one on the left to get its attention and pull it away from the tanks, melee, and anyone else. Then I root it at the bottom of the steps.

Add is contained (and for far longer than a Typhoon would keep it at bay) and I pew-pew the one the right until it dies. Then everyone focus fires the add on the left and it dies. Repeat.

Who needs Typhoon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dungeon Finder Redux

So I happened to get sick over the weekend, leaving me bedridden for the better part of two days and then even afterwards, not quite up to par for going to work, but well enough for messing around with WoW for short stretches at a time to alleviate boredom before lying down for another stretch of bedrest. (You guys in that random heroic Nexus? Your healer was healing through the power of holy germs.)

Between the period before I got sick and my recovery period, I've now used the Dungeon Finder for at least a dozen instances. Despite the fact that Blizzard originally touted the Dungeon Finder as being so fast you won't have to worry about questing during the downtime, I haven't found that to be true. If anything, my original assessment with my warrior alt might have been generous.

The two battlegroups I spend the most time in are Reckoning (home of my 80s), and Shadowburn (home of my feral druid and warrior alts), just in case queues differ much depending on battlegroup. While my warrior alt found groups relatively quickly, even allowing for the 15 minute late night SM Armory queue, it hasn't been the case for Darkker, my feral druid, even though they're in the same battlegroup. Even though she's in Northrend, where one would think more groups would be running, she's had to wait just as long for her instances.

Darkker has had 15-minute waits even during the early evening and she's had to wait for every single one of the three instances she's run since the new system was put in. I usually ran around and got partway or completely through with a quest during the wait. Though granted, I did not queue as a tank. She's specced PvP kitty (holdover from her BG days) and I'd learned from the time that I tanked UK that kitty spec was not going to hold up long term for tanking in Northrend. Too squishy.

But she did get a Shadow Lab group just as easily and in the same amount of time as a her Old Kingdom group, even though it was a Burning Crusade instance. She was the only 73 in her group, but oddly enough everyone except for the one DK was over level 70. Apparently some people are still interested in Burning Crusade instances, and it's easier to get groups through the Dungeon Finder with them.

My druid main has only signed up for queues as a moonkin, largely because I'm fearful of randomly being assigned any of the three new 5-man instances. I hate tanking unfamiliar instances and I don't consider my two runs of FoS and PoS and one run of HoR to be enough to be able to tank with authority. My only chain run through the three was also disrupted by having a potential guild applicant come chat with me so my mind was definitely not on what was happening in the 5-man.

So the wait comes out to about 8-11 minutes as dps for a random heroic, in Reckoning in the evening hours. Still, it's not quite so bad, because I actually don't mind getting a daily or two done while waiting. (My guild pokes fun at the fact that I'm still not done with the Argent Tournament, and I would like to get around to finishing that sometime.)

As a healer, the queues are easy though. I can hop on my paladin Gillien and less than a minute later I'm off. If the tank looks decent, I just let him know to chain pull and not to worry about my mana.

(As a humorous aside, one pug had a tank called Swiftpally, who was one of the slowest pullers I'd ever seen. I just couldn't resolve his name with the pace the run was moving and how slow he would be to notice any adds. I ending up "tanking" a few of them just because he wasn't paying attention.)

Oddly enough though, queuing as a solo healer seems to be substantially faster than queuing as a healer and one dps. You think it'd be the same or faster, because one of the dps is already there and as a healer I'd be a cornerstone of the group, and yet when my hunter friend and I queued together we waited for several minutes for a tank and the rest of the dps to queue.

Yet when we queue as a group of four guildies we launch very quickly. I guess it might have something to do with the "shape" of the group. It's easy to fit a single player into a pre-existing group of four, but if a lot of people are queuing as duos, trios, or foursomes, it can be harder to fit them together, especially if they're trying to slot them with existing groups.

Or maybe I'm totally off-base. I don't know. It just seemed weird to me. Maybe that night there were a lot of tanks running with personal healers.

But the thing that seems most remarkable to me as a dps is that the wait isn't really that bad. If you already have something else to entertain you in the meantime, that group is going to pop. It'll just take a while and you won't have to sit in LFG hoping someone will notice you or spamming that you're available in Trade. Probably the worst that could happen is that you're in the middle of doing some tournament jousting and have to decide whether or not you want to finish the match, but even that isn't too bad.

I feel a little bad that both my druids have been running as dps only (ah, that hybrid guilt), especially because one has a tank spec, but it's been a nice change to pace to 5-man dps on my moonkin, and to finally dps on my feral. I feel like I never got an honest crack at kitty dps until the new Dungeon Finder came out and let me sign up as dps without any requests to go bear.

Kitty dps is known to be difficult, but I've been quite happy with my performance given that I have no mods set up for it. As a level 74-75 feral I'm pulling almost 1100 dps in my blues and greens, which doesn't strike me as too shabby, and I've been the top dps on the last two pugs I've gone on. The hardest part of being a cat is definitely the combination of debuff and energy management. I've heard it gets better as one's crit rate goes up, so combo point generation is smoother.

I'm considering making Darkker's second spec PvE cat since I'm having a lot of fun as a kitty and I have no aspirations of joining a raid guild with her (oh noes... greedy druid has no tank or heal spec?!), but bear might be good at some point if I want to do any pug raiding. I suppose I could always give up on the PvP spec since I haven't PvPed with her since she left the 50-59 bracket, but I'd like to start up again once she hits 80. We'll see how it goes.

Overall, my experience with the Dungeon Finder continues to be positive. The vast majority of groups are successful, and the only heroics that had any wiping were the new 5-mans which arguably everyone was learning. There was one warrior tank though that couldn't AoE tank to save his life and eventually dropped group because he said he couldn't handle it (we were doing the waves of adds before the first boss in HoR, and yes we were LOS-pulling), but the tank was easily replaced through the new Dungeon Finder and we were on our way again with less than a minute's wait.

Oh... and if you're in Northrend but not 80 yet, you can still earn Emblems of Triumph by using the random regular dungeon finder! Definitely an option for giving your alt an early start on his or her level 80 gear.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dungeon Finding for Alts

While the Dungeon Finder is a good replacement for Looking for Group at 80, most 80s care very little which instance they run as long as they get some emblems and it's not Oculus. Prior to 3.3 my choice in heroic was largely dependent on whichever heroic happened to be the daily, though it was nice to at least know which heroic it would be. If I was tired of that particular instance I might not go. But even so, being able to do your "daily" heroic with friends who have otherwise already done their dailies is nice, so you can still get your two Emblems of Frost if you show up late for the heroic parade that evening.

But I've rarely had an issue getting heroic groups even when it came to pugging. Both my 80s can tank and one is specced for healing as well, so if I was so inclined as to find a group it wasn't hard.

What has been hard at times is finding instances for my leveling alts. Getting a group generally means playing on the weekend when a lot of people are on during the day or just being around for the perfect storm on a weekday night where for some reason there are three, maybe four, other people interested in that particular instance.

I was most interested in the Dungeon Finder for my alts. So when I logged on last night, I decided I'd put the system through its paces with one of them, someone who'd previously had trouble finding a group. Initially I thought I might use my baby resto druid, who should naturally gravitate towards leveling through instances, but then I thought I should really use a problem alt, someone who I'd logged on and off multiple times hoping to find that right mix of people online that I might actually be able to do an instance.

Maybe I should have picked my much neglected Alliance warlock, but instead I thought of my troll warrior. I had once complained that I never got to dps anything with her because I was always tanking. I remembered I had last been trying to get into an SM Armory run with her and I had logged on several times for a period of a few minutes each hoping to see something before she completely leveled out of the Scarlet Monestary range. At level 37, she was getting a bit long in the tooth (tusk?) for the SM instances. A little more questing and she'd level out entirely.

So I logged on to my warrior and looked through her quest log to confirm that I hadn't done SM Armory, and then discovered that I was missing the quest Into the Scarlet Monestary. Had I actually finished all the SM instances and just forgot? No, my achievements still listed Whitemane, Morgraine, and Herod as having not been killed. I'd have to redo SM Library.

I grabbed the quest from the new NPC in Undercity (apparently even if you haven't done the Wrathgate event you will still get the new NPC instead of Varimathras) and then queued up for both SM Lib and SM Armory. I noticed that I was only flagged as dps initially, and after thinking about it for a few seconds I left the Dungeon Finder and changed my settings to allow me go as either a tank or a dps. I was a little curious. Just how likely would it make me a tank if I gave it the option?

Probably less than 10 seconds later, I didn't even have a chance to leave the UC throne room, the queue popped for SM Library and I was given the role of tank. Big surprise.

Everyone teleported in almost immediately. I barely had time to even register what classes my party had before we were underway. Nobody said anything. No "Hi," "Hello," or even a "Gimme a minute to buff." I just looked around, saw everyone was present, shrugged, and then started pulling.

Coming back to my warrior after having not played her for months was a bit difficult. The party was not very cooperative either. It was not uncommon for dps to be on two, even three, different targets, and one time the hunter even attacked enemies from a different room, causing us to get another three adds while I was tanking a different group. But the healer was pretty good, and gradually how to tank as a warrior was coming back to me. No one even died, even though I felt more like a TBC-style warrior tank than a WotLK one.

Seriously, by the second half of the instance it was Thunder Clap to get initial threat on a pack of mobs. Then sunder my first target, tab, sunder my second target, tab, sunder my third target. I'd weave in a Revenge when I could. But if I didn't do that Thunder Clap wasn't enough to keep someone from pulling, and my Taunt was on cooldown often enough as it was.

At the end of the SM Library run someone just dropped group and disappeared. No good-bye, no thanks for the run. Just gone. It used to be if you dropped group like that you were be teleported out in so many seconds and your hearth would be on cooldown. Did that still happen? How else would I leave? So I dropped group as well, just to see what happened, and I found myself back on my mount in the UC throne room.

Okay, that was quick, though a bit creepy with nobody talking, but what I really wanted to do was run as dps, because I'd never done that on my warrior. Tanking has proven itself a fast way to get a group, but dps-ing was that itch I hadn't been able to scratch. I wanted to actually use Berserker Stance for once.

It was past 11:30pm server, and being on the west coast, that meant most of the player base had already gone to bed. But surely across an entire battlegroup there would be at least five people interested in doing SM Armory? This would be a good test.

I unchecked the tank option and listed myself as only dps for SM Armory. Once of the nice features with the new Dungeon Finder is that you can see the progress of your group filling up by clicking on the icon by the mini-map. I could see there was a healer and a dps (me). Estimated wait time was 6 minutes.

Okay, definitely longer as a leveling dps during late night.

Time passed, the healer disappeared, but there was another dps and then a tank, then the tank disappeared and we got a third dps. I don't know whether the people were getting filtered into different groups because they'd signed up for multiple instances or because they got tired and left, but it was at that point that the estimated wait time had disappeared entirely. Bad sign.

I decided I'd go fly to Tanaris to pick up a cooking recipe since this alt hadn't taken advantage of the mass Thanksgiving cooking bonanza (though I did on three other alts) and if I didn't get into an instance by then I'd log.

Of course, as I took the blimp from UC to Org I heard the instance pop-up sound while I was on the loading screen between continents. I hopped off the blimp in a hurry and joined the group.

I think I'd been in queue for about 10-15 minutes before the instance had launched. It felt long, but only because I'd been watching the party add and subtract itself so much in between running around and doing AH stuff. It wouldn't have been too bad of a wait if I'd also been actively questing at the time, which I would have been if I hadn't been using the opportunity mostly as a test. But this does mean that if you're leveling, and you're not looking for a popular instance or you're playing late at night, that you might still be in for a bit of a wait.

The SM Armory group was a bit more fail, the ret pally wasn't a very considerate tank and we wiped once, but otherwise wasn't too bad. I even managed to snag the ever popular [Herod's Shoulder], which was a source of some rejoicing (this alt's on a server without an 80, so no BoA gear for her). I was also happy that I won it over the pally since I hadn't been very pleased with either his tanking ability or his ego.

This second pug didn't talk much either, other than the healer asking the paladin to wait for mana and the paladin linking dps meters to show himself on top. I suppose in that respect it was not so much different from any other pug. I still missed the old greetings and thanks for group at the end though.

One thing that's kinda nice for these pugs is the Luck of the Draw buff. I can't say it'll make or break anything, but it's little a pat on the back as if to say that the pug will be all right, here's a little sugar to help the medicine go down.

I do have to wonder though if people who can perform multiple roles will be less likely to do them with the new Dungeon Finder system. Ordinarily I'd offer to tank because waiting could be unbearable otherwise. I've been in leveling groups that get three or four people and just sit there. Last night I felt comfortable enforcing my selfishness in that I was going to dps and only dps. No doubt I could have gotten a group faster if I set myself up for tanking, but as dps it wasn't an unbearably long wait. I could have comfortably set myself up as dps and then quested while still being assured of getting a group before the end of my playing session. If I was playing during peak hours, would I have had to wait at all?

And given this knowledge, would this impact the population of would-be tanks and healers? In the past I've seen people say "Well, I could give it a shot." because the group has been sitting around for a half hour unable to find a tank. In a group with three feral druids one offered to heal so we wouldn't have to drop someone and look for a healer. I've been in 5-mans where we went without an official tank, just four dps and a reasonably alert healer. Again, I'm talking leveling instances.

Obviously at level 80 people are well entrenched in their roles and have to be reasonably specialized, but leveling is a time for experimentation, and it seems a pity that someone might not try healing or try tanking because there's no opportunity for them to be nudged into giving it a chance with the party understanding that they're giving it their first shot.

When I was leveling Hana in vanilla WoW I was fearful of being the only person with a heal spell in a 5-man. It was nice to be able to ask the shaman or the priest to be ready to toss out a few emergency heals just in case I got overwhelmed. It was a safety net I usually didn't need, but liked to have. Would I have signed up for instances as both heals and dps?

Probably, but I would have been more nervous about healing since it would have been expected that I shoulder all of the healing. After all, I signed up for it.

On the other hand, I really liked that I could join as dps. The Dungeon Finder is completely anonymous so the other party members have no idea just how long I've been sitting in queue as dps when I could have listed myself as a tank, and by the time we get going, we will have a tank so there's no reason for them to question me about my role in the group.

By the way… my warrior's dps is pretty crappy. I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong, but hey, at least I got to do it at all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

3.3 is Looming

So 3.3 is coming. If MMO-champion is to be believed, and he's generally pretty good about it, it could very well be tomorrow. The current build on the PTR is labeled Release Candidate after all. That's pretty soon. And as with any patch, I look at its imminent arrival with a bit of apprehension.

After all, I'm not done with 3.2 yet. I still haven't beaten Anub'arak on ToGC. My feral druid alt isn't 80 yet. (I blame Dragon Age for the latter. I seriously have much love for that game. If it wasn't for that fact I run a raid guild I probably would have been online far less these last few weeks.)

But there is much to look forward to. There's the new raid instance, the new 5-mans, and I'm really looking forward to the new looking for group interface. It's going to be fantastic for alts and normal versions of level 80 instances (which for me would be primarily for alts). Maybe I'll actually do a real Gnomer run. Or not. Every time I've gone to that instance the run ended horribly. I have so many leveling alts. I don't play them all that often but that's partially because of the way I play them.

I like running instances. So if I'm looking to run an instance and I'm concerned they'll level out of soon, what I do is I rarely play them. I'll log in once in a blue moon and checking looking for group. If there isn't a group starting then I'll log off and go to another alt or back on one of my 80s. The few minutes I'm in looking for group might only be however long it takes me to take care of my auctions. I have alts in perfect range for instances such as RFK, the various SM branches, and Sunken Temple. They just need groups.

Looking for Raid should be interesting as well. I rarely pug a raid on my druid main, but my paladin is very pug-tolerant (DI goes a long way towards saving repair bills) and if people actually use the interface it would be nice for any 25-man pick-ups or 10-man alt runs. Of all my leveling alts I think only my feral druid has a chance to make it to 80 before Cataclysm, but still… it could potentially be a handy tool seeing as she's on a separate server without a guild.

I'm not sure how to handle the weekly raid quests though. My guild raids two nights a week; we're very casual. So would the weekly raid quests be integrated into our farm night, or would we not bother and just leave those open to pugging? I'm thinking we should do them as a guild, but travel time and such could get annoying. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime we have at least one more ToGC run tonight. Hopefully we can get down Faction Champs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

[Paladin] Finding a Brother in Heals

So I'm a guild leader these days. And we want to do ToGC. So when I recruit someone, I need to evaluate how they perform. As dps it's easy. Can they put out a minimum amount of dps while following instructions and not dying in fires. Both Recount and World of Logs tells me their output, and when and why they died early. Following instructions is a little harder to spot, except by watching them visually.

Even tanks aren't too bad. Health is one measure, but put in a simpler fashion, an undergeared tank leaves healers gasping to keep them alive. If the tank blows cooldowns and still gets pancaked either they're not geared enough or they're doing something wrong. (And of course, following instructions is good.)

Healers though… I have a harder time evaluating them. Recount/WoL is good for telling who is doing most of the healing, and between classes it might show who's slacking vs. who's not, but there are variables like what kind of damage is being thrown around. I don't know what good output for a resto druid or a disc priest, because I don't play those specs, but I know how to heal as a paladin.

There is also the matter that instructions (beyond don't stand in the fire) are more flexible for healers. If healer A is the tank healer, but dies, then healers B and C should start healing the tank even if that wasn't their original assignment. Also, for some fights tank healing is easy, and other fights raid healing is easy, so someone's performance looks skewed based on assignment or the particularities of their class (druid hots not having enough time to tick).

But for the first time since I started the guild, I've found a new healer that I have a lot of confidence in, and he's another paladin.

Last night we were short a healer for our ToGC attempts. We'd never downed heroic Northrend Beasts before, but I was pretty sure we could do it if we had a solid group. But our resto druid didn't show for some reason. So there was our disc priest, and the new paladin who just joined us this weekend.

I know some guilds can two-heal ToGC, but based on prior experience I doubted this would be possible for my guild. So I hopped on my holy pally and we brought in a mage.

The other pally and I worked out our beacons and tank assignments, and set to work. And though we wiped, and wiped, and wiped, something beautiful emerged.

Though the other paladin and I are specced differently (I went down prot for DG and he down ret for the extra crit), our spell breakdowns are almost identical; our percentage of total healing from each spell like looking into a mirror. This was a guy who played like me! And while it can be argued that I'm not the greatest paladin healer either, knowing that I now have another healer with output similar to mine and makes casting decisions similar to mine feels like an incredible relief.

I've joked about wishing I could clone myself so I could heal while dpsing. Now I feel like I have something even better (since the new pally is fully specced for PvE and my paladin is hybrid because I use his spec for both PvE and arena). I think we'll be in good shape with our new paladin, and it'll be fun to have someone to talk shop with.

I just can't get over how identical our performance was. I've raided with other holy paladins before, but never have I been matched so closely with one of them. It was a fabulous sense of synergy.

And aside from that, last night we managed our guild firsts of downing Heroic Northrend Beasts and Heroic Jaraxxus (woohoo!).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Raid Attunements - Are We Missing Something Without Them?

I was reading a post over at Big Bear Butt Blogger about how easy it is for people to enter raids these days and how he misses attunements. The remarkable thing was not the comment itself. Goodness knows there are plenty of people ready and willing to whine on the forums about how the unwashed (and ostensibly unqualified) masses are able to enter the highest level content if they so choose.

The remarkable thing is that the Big Bear Butt is a casual player, who raids on occasion but takes pains to make sure his readers are aware that his guild is not a raid guild by any stretch of the imagination. He is the kind of player most enabled by the removal of attunements.

Bear doesn't seem to miss attunements for purposes of elitism. He misses them because they told a story, of why we were doing what we did. Not everyone watches game trailers. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have no idea why they're going into Ulduar other than it was the raid that was released in 3.1. Whereas if there had been an attunement of sorts people would at least understand someone of the situation because there would have been a quest to go there.

I didn't raid in vanilla, but I'd heard about attunement, and was quite proud of having gotten attuned to MC. It was one of those just in case things. During TBC I eventually did the Onyxia attunement quest with an old school raiding group, and it was quite epic.

And of course I did the Kara key quest, twice, on both my druid and my pally. It wasn't really a pain, though I could see that being the case if someone really needed their alt ready to go now, but for a casual alt it was fine.

But I can see where the attunement mechanic broke down in TBC vs. vanilla. In vanilla not everything was attuned, and attunement difficulty varied. MC and BWL attunements were puggable, since they were in BRD and UBRS. AQ and ZG didn't have any. Naxx's attunement could even be solo-ed without ever stepping in an instance.

In TBC Kara was a bit of a run, but still 5-man material. The hard part was SSC/TK, and then MH and BT.

For SSC one had to beat both Nightbane in Kara (10-man raid) and Gruul (25-man raid). Like 25-man OS, people stopped going to Gruul once they didn't have to because it's a short raid without a lot of drops… that unfortunately requires a lot people; too many people for too little reward.

For TK one had to do a bunch of hard quests in SMV and then do several of the harder heroics, and TBC heroics were nothing like today's heroics. They were hard. I remember I was trying to ask some guildies if they would run heroic Sethekk with me so I could get my epic flight form, and they wouldn't even though we were in Kara at the time because heroic Sethekk was considered too hard. Heroic Sethekk was nothing compared to heroic Arc.

MH and BT required killing both the final bosses in SSC and TK, who were atrociously difficult (people still have their tainted core macros on my server… it was so bad even rank and file raiders made use of them). When the attunements were lifted guilds skipped past Vashj and Kael'thas to the T6 content and cleared a lot of it, because those two gatekeeper bosses were so hard in comparison to the fights that followed.

I admit there was something nice to knowing the Black Temple guilds from the still stuck in SSC guilds, you knew who was in a guild that got things done, and I think Bear misses that as well, but I only need to look at Ulduar to know what would have happened on my server if Tirion Fordring had only allowed guilds that had defeated Yogg to progress.

My server is not very advanced Horde-side. We do all right, but we've always been casual. Even our most advanced guild still considers itself more hardcore casual than hardcore period.

So when 3.2 landed it happened that out of the half dozen or so 25-man guilds that were at the end of Ulduar, only one of them had actually defeated Yogg. If Yogg had been part of a ToC attunement, very few people would have been enjoying the ToC loot piƱata. Of course we've had guilds go back and beat Yogg after 3.2 landed, but they were sporting their ToC gear.

With TBC-style attunement you couldn't go back to old content and beat it by outgearing it. You either beat it with what you had, you accepted that your guild would go no further, or you broke up and found another guild that you hoped would do better.

What would have happened to those five or so guilds that had stone-walled on Yogg? Maybe a couple of them would have eventually beaten it post-patch, but there's a good chance the rest would cease to try, either settling for being "casual" or breaking up entirely.

There was much flak given to guilds that had skipped into MH and BT, because they weren't doing it the "real" way, they didn't earn it, but in WotLK, guilds aren't put down for skipping Yogg for ToC. Almost every Horde guild on my server did it. And those guilds that might have broken up for lack of progress… didn't.

I find that I like the idea that the gating process is the gear. ToC still hits hard enough that it's a gear check. It's not necessarily hard in terms of execution, but needs a greater level of gear than Ulduar or Naxx, so the fresh 80 still has no place in it. This allows more people to see the content if they really want to.

But Bear has a point with the lack of story, the lack of epic-ness leading into the raid itself.

Icecrown is coming up and it's a huge point of lore. But will it have any quests to lay out the story, or will we just walk in there while Tirion Fordring gives a nice little VO that we end up not listening to because we're too busy discussing raid strats?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[Paladin] Arthas, Tacos, and Murlocs, Oh My!

It feels like time for a light-hearted name for a topic after my last post and not writing anything for a while. I've been busy with work, busy recruiting for my guild, and busy with Dragon Age (why yes I play games other than WoW). But rather than talk about the busy stuff, let's talk about what Arthas, tacos, and murlocs have in common, mainly that they're a component of my new arena team's sense of humor.

I hadn't been trying very hard to find a 5v5 team. I probably should have, but I've never been very good at pimping myself out in Trade; "Holy pally looking for 5s team. Experience at 1750+." It just makes me feel desperate and a bit sleazy. "I'm so hard up I have to resort to Trade!"

A former guildie of mine decided to pull the trigger though and start up the 5s team he'd been talking about. It sounded like it would be mostly a just-for-fun team, as he wasn't talking comps, strats, or anything, but I said okay. My last fun team did well enough for my Challenger title after all, and it's more fun playing with friends than strangers.

We ended up with a DK, a hunter, a ret pally, a holy pally, and a priest. We were thinking this could be good. The priest raids as disc so we were having sweet snacky dreams of Penance and Pain Suppression. Three dps and two healers. All good.

First order of business was to choose a name. And as anyone who's ever made an arena team knows, choosing an arena team name can be srs bzns. The DK suggested Be Your True Wipe, as a play off our guild name of Be Your True Mind. We were at one point considering Arthas Took My Candle as a guild name, so the ret pally suggested something to do with Arthas. The DK came back with Eat My Taco, which morphed into Arthas Ate My Taco, and then Murloc Ate My Taco, to Arthas Ate My Murloc's Taco.

Yes, arena team names are never glamorous.

There were many permutations involving Arthas, tacos, and murlocs until finally we ended up with Arthas Ate My Taco, and only because Arthas Ate My Murloc's Taco was two letters too long (can't say we didn't try).

Then we stepped into the arena, and we got plastered.

No problem. New team, just getting the kinks worked out. Priest has got to get better at staying alive so I'm not solo healing.

Rounds 2 and 3 saw us getting wiped again. Priest keeps dying and I don't mean worn down. I mean insta-gibbed. I'd seen him PvPing in BGs while outside of raids, but when I finally looked at him he's the only team member who is primarily in PvE gear. His resilience is probably less than 100. Apparently he's just getting back into PvP and hadn't done it since TBC.

Well, it's a just-for-fun team, I figure. I'll deal.

It's then that our hunter whispered to me. He'd noticed in the last fight that the priest was in shadowform. Turns out that yep, his PvP spec is shadow. Somehow this hadn't come up while we were putting the team together. I'd been solo-healing this whole time. Not that being shadow instead of disc really would have changed that. He still gets gibbed right off the bat and I don't think it would have mattered what spec he was with the gear he had.

We manage a few wins, priest is dead at the end of every single match except for one, which he said he lived through because he never got off his mount (I didn't check whether or not he was joking). We're essentially 4-manning every win and I'm solo-healing the whole thing.

On the bright side, it's surprisingly not too bad being a solo-healer, even as a paladin. The rest of the team is pretty sturdy. The rest of us already have 2s and/or 3s teams and sport a decent amount of resilience. We didn't have too many matches where we totally got blitzed down, even when we ran into a 2000 rated team and our priest was predictably dead in the first five seconds. But there are more issues to work with as a solo healer on a 5v5 team.

First of all, it's harder to keep track of everyone. I have no backup. My team members have to be more aware of what they're doing when they run away from me to chase after someone else. The worst instance was in Blade's Edge where half the dps jumped off the bridge to chase and the other half did not or could not. I can't heal people underneath the bridge while I'm healing people on top of it.

So I did what any good healer should and brought it up between matches in vent. It's all part of getting the kinks out of the system. If people want to jump off they just need to be aware of what it's potentially costing them and to let me know so I understand where they've gone. I try not to fall into tunnel vision, but sometimes it's hard to stay situationally aware of the locations of four teammates, five opponents, and who I have LOS on, and if I get a LOS error message I want to know what I can do to correct it, or know if it can afford to be corrected under current circumstances.

I'm not sure this team will amount to anything, the priest definitely needs better gear no matter which spec he uses for PvP, and it might be interesting trying a 4 dps, 1 healer setup, but for now it's just for fun. Arthas, tacos, murlocs, and all that good stuff.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Incredibly Disappointed

This is a WoW guild leadership post. I don't normally do them, but I was… well… incredibly disappointed and I'm stuck at work where I can't talk to the guy who started it and I need an outlet before I end up verbally punching someone in the gut who might not realize he deserves it.

So… the backstory is that after the breakup of my 25-man guild, about a half dozen or so of us reformed as a 10-man with help from our ex-guildies and new recruits. Everyone who came from the old guild knew the terms. We would raid 10-mans only, no hope of our new guild ever becoming a 25-man. The underlying subtext was, don't come if you're not going to be happy with 10-mans.

At this time, there was a relatively new 80 who only went to maybe one or two 25-man runs before the old guild broke up. He was in blues, totally unsuited for Ulduar and ToC, and was only in the guild because he was a friend of another raider. He hadn't raided before, but he was interested in coming to the new guild. I wasn't sure what to make of him, but we needed people so I gave him a shot.

He worked hard on his gear, running 5-mans day and night (only a mild exaggeration), and was in tip-top shape for 10-man ToC so quickly that we didn't feel we were carrying him. He turned out to be a very enthusiastic raider who watched videos, read up on fights, and wasn't afraid to ask for help to improve his ability to play. He went from a nobody to one of our best dps, a fantastic backup tank, and the makings of backup raid leader. I had figured in a few more weeks I'd probably make that designation official.

Then on Tuesday night he confessed to me that he wanted something more. He had been running with a couple other guilds in their 25-man spots, which I knew about and had told him he could do, but even though he was going with them on a semi-regular basis, he was tired of being "benched" when their own guildies were online and able to go. He decided that he really liked the 25-man raids, so he wanted to go to another guild.

Of all our guildies, he's the one I'd be most forgiving of this. He was new to raiding when he joined us, so he hadn't done the 25-mans unlike the rest of us who actually retired from it. The rest of us have no intention of going back. Some of our newer recruits have even asked to be sure there was no intention of trying to scale up to 25s.

So I told him that I understood, and he said he didn't want to leave us in a lurch so he hadn't applied to anyone yet, but he thought we were in pretty good shape now. I begged to differ, since we're still in active recruitment even two months after we started (need healers) and we even had to pug a couple people on Monday because we couldn't cover the expected absences of two guildies on vacation when a couple other people were unexpectedly absent as well. I told him that and asked him to wait so we could see what things looked like on Saturday once our vacationers came back.

I also thanked him for talking to me rather than just /gquitting and he said he something to the affect of not wanting to do that since he considered this to have been his first real guild. He said if we were ever short-handed after he left he'd be happy to fill in, and that was fine. I have no trouble keeping friendships with ex-guildies who leave in a classy way and it seemed like he was going to do that.

Fast forward to this morning (less than 48 hours later). I went to our guild forums and found a good-bye message from someone else, a friend of this guildie. The friend was quitting because the guildie who I had talked to had already left the guild and the friend didn't see a reason to stay around. Now, what gets me is that the friend, who is a non-raider, bothered to stop by and leave a good-bye message and the guildie did not. I shouldn't have to find out second hand from the guild web site that this guildie who said he wasn't going to leave until he was sure we were in a good spot has already left the guild!

I was not on Wednesday night since I have a weekly RL get-together, so pretty much he could not wait more than 48 hours to tell me before jumping guilds? Am I wrong for being upset?

A part of me wants to not only tell him how disappointed I am that he didn't wait, but that because of his actions I don't think it would be appropriate to extend him an invite to future raids even if we are short a raid spot. But he was well-liked in guild, and since I haven't been on since Tuesday night I don't know how other people feel or if anyone was even on when he left. Maybe they're less upset and more forgiving. He'd only talked to me about sticking around until we were in a good spot.

I have a suspicion that he doesn't actually think he's doing a bad thing. He might not have even been trying to sneak out. My thinking is that when I told him it was okay to start looking around he put in an app, got accepted right away, and the 25-man guild extended him an invite with the expectation that he would immediately join them (since that is usually the way of things) and he did. He probably figured that if he saved his 10-man raid IDs for us he could still be available "as promised" while enjoying his new 25-man guild.

I don't think he's being a jerk so much as he's being thoughtless, which in a way is more hurtful. Because if he was a jerk we'd sign off on him. But this way makes it harder. For instance, do I keep his alts in the guild or do I kick them? Will there be fallout with the other guildies for kicking his alts?

Then there are the logistics in that we will have to replace him. I hate recruiting, but we'll need another dps now. We can't have anyone be absent at this point or we just won't have enough to fill our dps spots. This was not in any way a good time for him to quit!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

[Paladin] Saving on Repair Bills in 3.3!

Come on, I can't have been the only paladin to look at the latest patch notes and think about how I can now save on repair bills once every 10 minutes!

Divine Intervention: Cooldown on this ability has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.

I've made good use of this during pug raids. I had nights where after four or five wipes I've only had to pay a single death's repair bill thanks to judicious use of DI by myself or other paladins. With the ability to use it every 10 minutes I'm going to have to stock up on Symbol of Divinity.

It's practically a given that if the raid's going to be a wipe I reach over for that Divine Intervention button and give it a click.

Okay, maybe I wasn't always that bad.

Back when I raided reasonably often with Gillien it seems I hardly ever used it. When it was a guild run things typically went well, or I would give everything I had because I had faith that somehow even when things went crazy we could make a recovery, and sometimes we did.

But now that the vast majority of raids I go on with him are pugs, it seems like I've been clicking DI way more often than should be healthy. Considering I die every time I cast it, maybe healthy really shouldn't be a word for it anyway.

My most amusing failed ToC 10 pug went something like this:

Attempt 1: Fail. I DI and save a repair bill.

Attempt 2: Fail. I eat it.

Attempt 3: Fail. I DI and save a repair bill.

Attempt 4: Fail. Bubble hearth and save the repair bill!

I would've felt bad about the last one except that as we were wiping the raid leader called it and other people were trying to hearth out as well. I was a little slow getting my cast started, so I had to bubble first, and by then I was the only one still alive and in the room. It's actually pretty scary seeing Acidmaw and Deadscale looming over you when you're a healer, but bubble lasts just a smidge longer than a hearthstone cast so off I went!

It still feels a bit like I'm a horrible person for bubble-hearthing out of a raid, but it makes for a good story. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

[Paladin] Healing Survey

I haven't been tagged with this to my knowledge, but Bellwether of 4Haelz said to consider her readers tagged if they hadn't been already, and why not contribute to the greater knowledge of healing?

This questionnaire was put together by Miss Medicina and you can find links to everyone's answers here.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Gillien, Holy Paladin.

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Pretty much whatever I can get into these days. Typically a mix of 10-mans, 5-mans, and arena.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

Without a doubt it's Holy Shock. I know the typical bread and butter spells are Flash of Light and Holy Light, but really that's just cheap, fast, small heal versus expensive, slower, big heal.

Holy Shock is instant sexiness. No cast time and I have the cooldown glyphed to 5 seconds, mostly for PvP purposes, but it doesn't stop me from leaving the glyph on while I raid. It's even better when paired with Divine Favor to make it an automatic crit. It's like getting an instant Holy Light on damage that also boosts your next heal by making it instant (if FoL) or giving it a higher chance to crit (if HL).

I first started healing back in TBC when Holy Shock was still too expensive to use regularly, but now I use it all the time and I can't imagine going back to just FoL and HL. In fact I tend to get very disappointed when I look at other paladins' healing parses and see that they don't use it. You can really save a player from the brink of death with one of those.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

It's a bit sad to say it, but I would probably say Holy Light. I know, I know, I'm a paladin, but I don't go on progression raids these days so most of my casts are FoL. I need to face some tougher content to really get back into HL bombing. I'm just not in a situation that warrants it often enough.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

This is probably going to sound odd, but I think it's that we can be competent tank healers while simultaneously contributing to overall raid healing. Yes, I'm looking at you, Beacon of Light. Ever since the change was made to allow overhealing to contribute to the Beacon there's no reason a paladin shouldn't be helping out with the raid while still keeping the tank up. Being able to help raid heal without risking the survivability of the tank (because all heals are copied over to him via the Beacon) is a fantastic ability.

It still boils down to us being great tank healers, but I've always wanted to be something more than just "the tank healer." Beacon of Light lets me do that.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

I think quite a few paladins would say the lack of an AoE heal, but really that doesn't bother me. Beacon already lets me heal one other person without risking the tank, and I'm fine with what Blizzard considers the paladin "kit" for healing. What does bother me is when I have to move, because if I'm moving I'm not casting. It's another reason I like Holy Shock, because I can use it on the go, but even glyphed, those 5 seconds are murder when you need it and it's on cooldown.

Tank healer got a snobold at a bad time? Tank healer had to move out of the fire at a bad time? I do use Lay on Hands from time to time, but sometimes it ends up being "Aw crap…" with the tank dead and I just LoH-ed myself because I was a second too slow. I think our biggest weakness as a healer is having a safe way to protect our targets when we can't cast. The best we have is Sacred Shield, but I would like a stronger bubble, maybe one with a longer cooldown so we only use it in those kinds of emergencies.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Without a doubt it's tank healing. Beacon one tank, heal the other. Heal the raid if there's only one tank. When Naxx was still newish it was a lot of fun healing Patchwerk because it was so built for paladins with Beacon.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Probably a holy priest, due to fond memories of duo-healing Karazhan with a friend of mine, but really anything that can raid heal is good company.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Another paladin. Seriously. It's mostly because there's less room for an additional tank healer than an additional raid healer. It used to be only one Beacon of Light would work at a time so two paladins meant that they would be overwriting each others Beacons if there was only one tank, and even now there's some overwriting of Sacred Shield. I've yet to figure out a way to display my Beacon of Light (and mine only) on Grid so sometimes I think I have Beacon of Light up and it's someone else's.

It's not so bad in an organized raid, but in pugs it's not uncommon for paladins to end up stacking Beacons. One 10-man VoA pug I ran with even had three holy paladins at once, which was a bit much.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

Reactive healing. Most of the content I go to now is too easy. FoLs all over the place. 90% of the time reactive healing is okay and proactive healing is just wasted effort. But because I don't have a solid group I regularly raid with I don't know my tanks' capabilities, so I have a tendency to get blindsided when I suddenly find out that the tank isn't as sturdy as I thought he was.

I can deal with wind-up boss moves, because DBM will let me know when they're coming, but sometimes the tank just gets plastered faster than I expected and I won't have an HL ready because I didn't realize it was going to happen.

I'm admittedly a bit concerned that this habit is going to get ingrained if I don't heal something harder soon.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

People who complain about the healing. Sometimes it's a legitimate concern. If the dps are doing everything right and are dying to unavoidable raid damage, then something's wrong with the heal team or the healing assignments. But usually the complaint comes across as very personal as in "Why didn't I get heals?" as if saving that one person's butt would have made all the difference.

I remember one run, which was only a 5-man, in which we got adds and the tank was too slow to pick them all up. The healer died first and one of the dps had the temerity to ask (as we were running back to the instance) why he didn't get heals. I promptly told the guy that the healer was already dead by then, at which point he said, "oh." /facepalm

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

I don't think of paladin healing as being balanced with the other classes due to the fact we have a particular niche that the others don't (except possible disc priests). It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes us different in that the other three classes can more easily shift between raid healing, perhaps even tank healing, whereas paladins are pretty much tank healers first and do so-so with raid healing. It's doesn't mean that a good paladin can't raid heal, but it's not in the class design.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

I use a mix of Recount and World of Logs. When I raided with my old guild on Gillien I always had WoL reports to look at, but since I don't take my paladin to guild raids anymore I usually just stick to Recount.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That we're only good as tank healers. Yes, it's our specialty, and skill being equal a druid, shaman, or holy priest is going to beat the pants off me raid healing, but it doesn't mean I can't raid heal. I know I just mentioned that it's not in our class design, but a good player can still perform adequately.

Back during TBC, I ended up solo-healing Moroes in Karazhan when my priest friend died to a loose add, and this was back before Beacon of Light existed. I ended up healing nine people using single target heals (all with cast times, because Holy Shock sucked at the time) and we somehow got out of it alive. It's not particularly pleasant, but it can be done.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

It's hard for me to center on any one thing, because there are a lot of things that a good holy paladin should be doing in a fight, so I'd probably say anything other than casting Holy Light and Flash of Light. Multi-tasking is the word. Paladin healing is supposedly simple, but there are actually other things that a good holy paladin should be doing.

Judging from what I've seen in raids, one of them is refreshing Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield. I knew one paladin who was particularly bad about it. He would do both at the start of the fight, and maybe he would refresh them later on, but more likely he wouldn't, and because he was a tank healer, he usually healed the Beacon target, which meant that every advantage he could have gained by Beaconing the tank in the first place was generally lost.

Another issue is judging. I judge every free moment I get that it's not on cooldown. Aside from maintaining the Judgement of the Pure buff, if we're short paladins the better uptime I can keep on JoL or JoW the more health or mana the raid gets.

Finally, it's recognizing and using Holy Shock. Some paladins don't seem to use this spell at all. Perhaps they never got in the habit of it, but as a clutch heal I don't see how a holy paladin could ever totally ignore it. Nothing's going to beat its speed, and though it's more expensive than a FoL, mana is rarely an issue for a paladin.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

They'd see a lot of overhealing for certain. I tend to sport somewhere in the ballpark of a 50% overheal ever since patch 3.2 landed. This is partially because of the change to Beacon, but also because I tend to use Judgement of Light now that it's no longer based on attack power.

The casual observer will probably think I heal just fine since I'm normally #1 on the meters for pug raids. I have my blindspots of course, but meters have been very kind to holy paladins post-3.2, so it looks very good to those who don't know better. I do take a bit of joy though in destroying other healers on the meters if they're meter braggarts though. It's probably the wrong attitude to take (my dps heritage I suppose), but it's satisfying.

Haste or Crit and why?

I used to really love Haste, but I think I have enough of it now that Crit is more helpful. From a healing standpoint (and not a paladin one) I can't count on getting a crit unless it's from my Divine Favor macro, so if I get more healing it's just a bonus. It's more important that I land the heal when I need to than for the heal to be big. Bad RNG will give me several normal heals in a row, so wouldn't it be better for those heals to be faster?

But my Haste is pretty good now so I can afford to give Crit another thought. For paladins Crit tends to be nice for the mana return aspects of it, but I generally don't have mana issues so I haven't felt the need to focus on it.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?

Priests for the most part. It's the only healing class I haven't played. I have a rough idea of all their core abilities, but I can't rattle off their spell names the way I can a druid's, paladin's, or even a shaman's.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I have a Divine Favor + Holy Shock macro that I love for raids and arena. It gives me a big instant heal and then an instant Flash of Light or boosted chance for a crit Holy Light. I've tried a couple other macros, but really that's the only one I keep using regularly.

As for add-ons I use Grid, just by itself, without Clique. I try not to be too add-on dependant, though more of them seem to be creeping into my Add-Ons folder than I would like. I've been thinking of adding some of the support modules to display raid specific debuffs and mana bars, but I've been too lazy to do so at this point.

Generally I just pay attention to DBM for raid specific healing needs like Incinerate Flesh and the like.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I prefer a balanced approach, because I'm not raiding enough where I'm exposed to a particular need that will always be there. I do have a bit of a preference towards spellpower on my gear, just because I tend to FoL heal so much, but it's just a mild preference. Lately I've been adding more Int than I have in the past, but it may be a moot point if I can't get into any pugs doing hard enough content for me to need the regen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cross-Realm LFG

I find I'm really looking forward to cross-realm LFG. Sure, there are bound to be some issues, such as an inability to filter people based on the reputation of their guild, or if there's a preferred class for an achievement run (I'm looking at you Less-Rabi), but imagine how much better this will be for alts! It's not unheard of to be the only person on the server sitting in LFG hoping to find more people interested in doing Sunken Temple. Or maybe there's only two of you in group and you spend half an hour or more trying to find another three.

But that's just on one server. Cross-realm LFG will open up the entire battlegroup. That's another seven or eight servers perhaps. Even if only half of the other servers have people similarly looking for Sunken Temple at that moment, it'll be enough for a full party. There still may be issues finding a healer or a tank, but it should prevent some of those "LF1M all we need is a dps!" moments when the party has to decide whether or not they can 4-man it or they really do need a fifth.

I suppose the biggest drawback may be finding the healers or the tanks. Let's say that at a given moment on a particular server, there are 2 tanks, 1 healer, and 6 dps looking to do the heroic daily. After the party forms there are 1 tank and 3 dps left over in LFG.

We open this up to cross-realm LFG and there are now eight times the number of people in LFG. There are 16 tanks, 8 healers, and 48 dps. After eight parties form, we are left with 8 tanks and 24 dps without groups.

The number of groups are the same as if they'd stayed separated on their original servers, but I wonder if the wait for dps #48 will be longer than if he didn't have to share with another realm. Those 8 tanks and 24 dps won't get groups until a new healer enters the system, and depending on how long that takes, it could be while. Dps #48 would only be dps #3 on his own server, so in theory he would go with next group to form, but here he would have to wait until the eighth healer to come along.

If his server is starved for healers, it may very well be that even waiting for the eighth healer it would still be faster than waiting on his own server. But if his server has a lot of pugging healers, then he may be waiting longer than usual because his server's healers will be going to other groups first.

I primarily play hybrid classes, so as someone with a tank spec on both my 80s and a heal spec on one of them, I don't think I will have much of a problem finding a group. If anything it'll be easier to get a group since those two roles are in higher demand and now there will be an even larger surplus of dps looking for them.

It does make me wonder though if I will ever pug as a moonkin. I rarely do anyway, though for the moment it's largely by choice. Most of the time I'm forming the group, so I automatically assume I'm going to tank. It saves me the trouble of looking for one. If the system is choosing my role for me, based on what I say I can do, I have a suspicion I'll be chosen to tank as well. It just makes sense when there are less of them.

But running a dungeon is better than not running, which is why I like playing hybrids. It's why I've done things like tank while holy specced on my paladin, or tank while moonkin specced on my druid. (Somehow it doesn't feel as impressive when I say I healed on my moonkin when we lost a healer. It's almost expected.)

I'm curious whether or not Looking For Raid will be cross-realm as well. If there's one thing I envy about Dark Iron (where my feral alt is) vs. Skywall (where my 80s are), it's the raid pugging situation. Skywall's not well progressed so raid pugs for anything other than Naxx have a horrible failure rate. There just isn't a large enough player base that knows what it's doing.

For example: I went to a 10-man ToC pug on my paladin where I knew the raid leader and she was asking that everyone be both geared and to know the fights. We got in there and found out that the OT's idea of knowing the fights was that she got up to Acidmaw and Dreadscale the last time she was there. We gave it a few shots, but she either couldn't or wouldn't follow instructions and a ToC pug is no place to learn how to tank a raid boss. FACE THE WORM AWAY FROM THE RAID AMG!

If Looking For Raid is cross-realm then I might be able to get into a pug raid with people from more progressed realms where pugging ToC or even ToGC happens on a regular basis. Of course, there's always the possibility that those people will be extremely snotty and won't take me because I haven't finished Icecrown on hard mode. Heh.

Edit: It's been clarified that Looking For Raid is realm-only. Ah well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

[Druid] Did all the bears go moonkin?

This post should have been posted last week, but somehow I forgot about it and left it with the rest of my drafts, but it's still pretty relevant, so I figured I'd post it now.

I was reading an article on about the dearth of bear tanks, and the column looked into why there might be fewer bear tanks. I'm not exactly sure why there are less these days, though the article does give a few reasonable speculations, but it's something I've noticed. On my server, the vast majority of tanks I've seen in pugs have been paladins followed by DKs. I might see a warrior, but I can't remember the last time I'd seen a bear, if ever. If there's a bear tanking for my group it's usually me.

The column presents various reasons why there may be fewer bears than there used to be; same boring bear butt no matter your level of progression, having to fight with rogues and other dps classes for gear vs. the abundance of plate tanking drops, looking like a clown wearing a mix of rogue and druid gear with a hunter weapon slung over your back… But the reason that stands out most to me is the flexibility inherent in the druid class. We are the only class that can be tank, melee dps, ranged dps, and a healer. It's honestly viable to be full-time cat in Wrath of the Lich King.

Look at bloggers Jacemora and Runyarusco, both TBC-era tanks, who now blog about kitty dps.

When Blizzard came out and reinforced during the WotLK beta that it was not going to be possible to be a good cat and a good bear with the same spec I even thought of making my feral alt primarily cat at level 80, just because I remembered having so much fun with it while leveling. Real cat dps? Nice!

So where did the bears go? Well, if bloggers are any indication, the love of being a dps kitty can finally be fulfilled, so ferals who were both bear and cat just because they came part and parcel in the past are now able to go with the form that suits them best, so I would not be surprised if a fair number of them are now indulging themselves as the cats they always wanted to be in TBC but couldn't.

I've mentioned before that there are now a lot more moonkin than there used to be. I hadn't really thought where they had come from before, but now that I do… could they possibly be former ferals? The article points out that the druid population hasn't plunged, so the druids are still playing. They're just different specs.

When TBC came out suddenly a bunch of druids, freed from the necessity of going resto for end game, were feral. Now with WotLK and moonkin being viable, are those druids now shooting their owlkin lasers?

So I decided to check out my favorite armory dataminer and see what data he'd pulled for level 80 druids.

According to this data from August 2009, we are split 25% balance, 36% feral, and 39% resto. By that measure we're still over a third feral, which leaves the question of where the heck did all the bears ago. But, if we look at dual specs, we can start getting a better picture of our level 80 druid population.

The most popular dual spec combination? Balance and Restoration at 31%. Feral and Restoration is close behind at 30%.

Given that almost 40% of the druid population has a resto spec this is not surprising. Unfortunately there is no way to tell whether the feral specs are cat or bear, but there is one more interesting data point.

Percent of the population with two feral specs? A mere 9%. And this is important, because the traditional feral tank keeps two sets of gear; one for bear and one for kitty. If a mere 9% of the druid population behaves as the TBC-era feral tank then it's no wonder that they're so rare!

It's entirely possible that a balance/feral or a resto/feral has a feral tank spec (I do), but due to the fact the gear sets do not easily overlap it's probably less likely that any of them primarily function as a tank for their guild. A feral who regularly tanks probably has a kitty off-spec because it's easier to function as both in a raid where they tank one fight and dps the next (and there's less gear to collect). In the case of a resto main spec, the feral off-spec could easily be for questing and doing dailies.

I do see druid tanks on my server. I can think of at least two progression guilds off-hand that use them, but when it comes to pugging they just aren't out there, which says to me that a bear tank either finds a guild that wants her to tank on a regular basis (in which case we never see her out in the wilds of pugging because she's always in a guild group) or she specs for something else.

What I don't understand is why there aren't more off-spec bears. I generally pug as a bear because it gives me more control. The first thing I do when I open LFG is search for a healer, and then round up the dps to fill out the group. It saves time when I don't have to hunt for both a tank and a healer. And if I'm a dps with a crappy tank or a crappy healer there's not much I can do to save the pug, but if I'm the tank, I can better deal with a crappy healer because of my cooldowns, my gear, and knowing how to play.

Of course, the same could be said for pugging as a healer, which I regularly do on Gillien, and maybe that's what the druids are doing, a good 40% of them. Maybe they're happier to pug as a healer than a tank.

There was a rogue I pugged with and a ring dropped. I wasn't certain it was an upgrade, so I only greeded it. The rogue greeded and won, but then shortly thereafter whispered me asking if it was an upgrade for me. I told him I wasn't sure and that's why I only greeded it. He opened up trade and told me to take it just in case. He said that he really liked bear druids but he hardly ever saw them around. I suppose it was his way of encouraging me to keep playing a bear, but it saddened me that he thought that we were that rare.

This was several weeks before the article ran, so I didn't think about it much, but looking back on it now, I guess bears really are rare. I'm guessing many of them went completely cat, went moonkin (because there definitely are more of us now), or went back to tree; especially because there are so many tanks out there now. I've seen as many as three tanks idling in LFG for the heroic daily at once, tanks are scrounging for guilds to join (my guild has had at least two tanks inquire even when we weren't recruiting for them), and maybe in that kind of environment it's easiest to just respec and run as something else.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maybe There's Hope for Garrosh

Most Horde players don't like Garrosh Hellscream. First he was this mopey orc sitting around in Nagrand whining about how he wasn't fit to lead and how he was a horrible person, not through any fault of his own, but because he had the shame of being Grom Hellscream's son.

Through a long and involved quest chain we managed to bring Thrall to Nagrand and he felt duty-bound to enlighten the sulking Garrosh and show him that hey, Grom redeemed himself. It's not shameful to be his son. Garrosh gave out a big ol' orc battlecry, buffing all Hordies in the zone with Hellscream's Warsong, and it seemed all was well in the world. Garrosh got his spirit back.

But then the next time we saw him he was talking smack to Thrall about taking out the Lich King and even challenged Thrall to combat. He was bloodthirsty and impulsive, and when we finally got to Northrend we found out he was the Overlord of the Warsong Offensive in Borean Tundra. Not only that, but he was dismissive of Saurfang's extremely valid concerns about their war effort.

Garrosh became headstrong and warmongering, concerned with glory in battle more than practicality and the need to find a peaceful resolution when peace could be found. Garrosh became everything that Thrall wasn't, but Hordies like Thrall, so we don't like Garrosh, and we especially don't like that he's going to become our new faction leader come Cataclysm.

But Blizzard has said:

Garrosh is a character with a lot to prove. I realize there's a great deal of consternation out there concerning the tales of what's to come, but I want to reassure you that we understand that concern. We know where you're coming from.

Why are we still going this route? With all respect, you haven't seen the entirety of who Garrosh is. You've seen a great deal of his faults, certainly, but people grow over time, and you may find, come Cataclysm, that he is not quite the disaster you portend. :)

(Mind you, that doesn't mean he's Thrall, either.)

Now, this is all that people generally consider when they think about Garrosh; just the basics, the highlights. Nagrand was a long time ago. But because I have been leveling my feral druid, I had the opportunity to revisit that quest chain this weekend, and you know? I do think we're missing something of Garrosh, that there is hope for him yet.

Take this dialogue from Greatmother Geyah:

He [Garrosh] just needs to believe in himself. He fears so much... He fears so deeply that if he lets himself go, his rage will consume him and all that would be near him.

Doesn't that sound familiar? Isn't Garrosh's rage at that point now that we're in Northrend? Perhaps Garrosh had a right to fear what he would become.

But at the same time, Greatmother Geyah believes in him, he is described as both strong and wise. The spirits approve of him, and from what we know of the spirits the orcs believe in, they're not exactly a bunch of warmongers either. They must be seeing something that we're not.

And when I talked to Garrosh during part of the quest chain, he had something more interesting to say now that we know what happens in Northrend.

He says: I will not... I cannot become the second Hellscream to damn the orcs.

I think prior to Cataclysm Garrosh will be hit with a wake-up call that will make him more sympathetic to the Horde player. Somewhere between the two extremes of warmonger and mopey warrior is the leader that Greatmother Geyah and the spirits believe in. He cares and at one point he cared so much that he felt that doing nothing at all was better than damning his people.

In Northrend he's may be doing the exact thing he wanted to avoid, and perhaps something will happen between now and Cataclysm that will cause him to realize, "Hey, this isn't such a good idea! We're going to lose out here!" After all, the Lich King has to be enjoying the Horde and Alliance fighting each other instead of him, and Garrosh probably won't like being a player for the Lich King's amusement.

That's a possibility for the future though. In the meantime nothing's going to stop me from doing this:

Maybe it'll help knock some sense into him later.