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The Point.

Well, despite my lofty plans of actually playing WoW today, it seems that Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom have decided to release patch 3.3.5!  Good news, yes?  If you enjoy not playing, then yes it is!  Maybe I’m picky… but especially since I actually had time to play just as the servers should have come up today, the delay is getting on my nerves.  So, what’s a poor guy to do when he can’t play WoW?  Why blog about it, of course!

The Battleground.

Last night I was going about my usual business, which recently has involved a lot of BGs, since I’m into a PvP phase once again, and am working crazily towards finally getting my DK into some kind of respectable PvP gear.  So, I found myself running about AB for a couple hours (AV was on Call to Arms, but I just hit random.  So of course I get the same BG five times in a row… isn’t that what random means?).  It was during what I remember being the first AB, that something really remarkable happened.

I joined the game and found those dastardly allies were up a  painful 1400-1000.  400 points in AB these days generally seems to be a “GG, let’s let them 5 cap us”, so my heart sank as I realized I’d  just entered a lost cause.

But for a pleasant change, that was not the case.  In fact, the team wasn’t giving up as I’d expected them to.  It seems what had happened was that almost 2/3 of the original raid had gotten tired of losing and dropped the BG (it had probably gone long enough to not have them take a debuff).  And We the fresh players had no intention of just joining a BG to lose.  So people worked together.

They teamed up, communicated (as Gnome points out is the way to go), and co-ordinated in ways I’ve only ever seen a premade work.   It  wasn’t long before we had the allies down 3-2 bases, and with a big push we threw them out of LM, securing  a 4-1.  As the cap on LM ticked, I was carefully watching my DBM meter, which was cheerfully informing me we had around 1 minute before the allies took the game.  “Just wait,” I kept telling myself.  “The fourth base will tip it our way.”

Sadly that wasn’t the case.  Even after reaching 4-1 bases, the allies still had just enough of a lead they were still going to win (they were up by around 50 points at this point).  I realized we were going  to lose.   Everyone did.  The allies were all backed into the Stables, and there were far too many to take out in the 30 seconds we had to go.  But there was no complaining.  We all knew we’d given it our all.  It was the kind of game you don’t  mind losing.  We were only down by a marginal 50 points, and we all knew that if we’d joined an even game we most certainly would have won.

The Comeback.

It was while I was counting down to defeat that something miraculous happened.  The win meter changed from blue to red, with only seconds to go.  DBM now wanted me to know that the Horde would take the BG in 45 seconds.

Cheers went up across Arathi Basin.  Apparently what had happened was that the allies had decided to pressure our bases (God knows why, they were going to win anyways, after all) and this had divided their forces.  Although they assaulted the mine and got the blacksmith, they’d lowered the defenses on the stables.  And some industrious player (I was too far away to see who) managed to cap Stables.

This put us at 2-0 bases.  Meaning the allies wouldn’t get points.  Meaning we would win.  In 30 seconds.

With literally 2 seconds to go, however, the allies capped a base.  This left us at 1-1, and with 10 seconds to go on the ally win meter, they took the game 1600-1590.

BUT- even though we’d lost, we lost in the most epic way imaginable.   We put our hearts and souls into it.  And I didn’t mind losing to the allies.  No one was insulting our side in /bg,  and there were very few complaints.  After all, we put up a hell of a fight.

The Raid.

Later that evening I ran around 6 boses of Molten Core, with two guildies (my internet died before we can finish… GG Flairn).  I healed my through what used to take 40 people, with two friends.  It was a ton of fun.  And we managed to see the pattern for Enchanting Weapon:  Spellpower drop.  The reason  we were running it was for our enchanter friend who wanted the pattern.  He told me that he’d been farming the pattern for YEARS.  It turns out it’s an uber-rare 1% drop rate, on a dungeon you can only run 52 times a year (read: raid).  Turns out it’s one of the few enchants that work on heirloom weapons, and subsequently it’s easily one of the most rare, and most in demand Old World enchants out there.  He said there were only 2 other people Horde-side on the realm who had it.

I don’t know how you folks might have felt, but helping an old friend become the third felt pretty damn epic.

The Point?

It was throughout these simple occurences, that I realized something I think a lot of players tend to forget.  WoW is a game.  We play it to have fun.  In the mass of end-game raiding and arenas, in the rush for MOAR EPICZ, I think a lot of us tend to mistake something stressful for something fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I love endgame everything as much as the next guy.  But I think if more people took the time to smell the roses, and really drink deep of all the amazingness of the game, they’d enjoy it a whole lot more.

Just my two cents.  But it’s something to think about.  Maybe I’m just late to the party, and people run into stuff like this all the time.  But I think sometimes players get lost in the rush of endgame, and forget the simple fun of working together to achieve something really cool.

After all, isn’t that the point?

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Woah.  That’s sort of all I’ve got to say right now.  If you’ve been following the Cognisance Council over the past week or two, then you know that I’ve been working on gearing my druid up for raiding.  That’s been my eventual goal at least.  But last Thursday, my guild was short a player for our regular ICC 25 run.  That’s right.  ICC 25.  Not even just ICC 10.  And just like that, I was whisked off into the hardest normal mode version of the latest content in the game.  Pretty crazy stuff.

Of course, before getting to a boss, a storm blew in and knocked out my wireless.  C’est la vie.  But the fact remains that my guild has, for whatever possibly misguided reason, recognized me as a raider.  That means that, if everything goes according to my loosely defined plan, I’ll take my first real steps into ICC next Tuesday evening.  With this whirlwind of PvE I’ve really not had time to do anything else.  Suddenly I’m mildly concerned that I need to rank up with three or four factions for enchants.  Suddenly getting Sons of Hodir all the way up seems really pressing.

Needless to say, I’ve been farming rep and random heroics like a mad-man.  I still need around 3 upgrades from random heroics, and I need to rank up with (I think) three more factions to get all the enchants I need.  With all this PvE craziness, I’ve decided to do up a post explaining just how to get raid ready.  And how to do it in a few days (which is what I’m trying to do… for better or for worse).

To start things off, this isn’t a comprehensive guide by any stretch.  It isn’t even really a guide, more of just some helpful tips to get you on your way.  If you’re looking for some really helpful guides, check out places like WoW.com.  For druids out there looking for gear, Shifting Perspectives (WoW.com’s druid column) has some great posts about gearing a new druid.  The resto version for my fellow trees can be found here.

Heroics, Heroics, Heroics.  If you need to get gear pre-raiding, heroics are the place to do it.  If you’re in a PvE guild (which makes life oh so much easier, trust me I’ve tried it without), ask around.  Usually people are more than happy to help a guildy out by running some quick instances.  Of course with the new LFG tool you can PuG anything relatively fast, but you’ll go even faster with guild-mates, especially if you’re a dps and don’t want long queues.  People you know will also pull all the bosses in an instance, instead of skipping to the last one for the two frost badges.  If you have no other option, PuG, but if your guild is willing, running with friends (even if you have to random one or two spots) makes life a hell of a lot easier.

Shop Around.  If you can, ask an experienced raider in your guild with your class/spec about what you should look for in gearing a new toon.  They can be extremely helpful and informative for people wanting to learn a new spec.  Even if you have a main raiding regularly, learning a new alt at 80 can be tricky without some help.

If you don’t have a veteran raider conveniently on tab, widen your search.  Hit up blogs and other resources for your class.  Generally speaking, most class-specific bloggers have some tips for gearing/ playing their class.  For instance, Mystic Chicanery has a great flow-chart basically explaining exactly how to gem up a new affliction warlock.  Even just googling the gear you’re struggling with will often bring up a solid list of opinions from the greater blog-o-sphere.  Post a question  on the forums (either official WoW ones or otherwise).  Use the community.  That’s what we’re here for.

Rep Up.  Although this seems kind of obvious (much like heroics), if you’re a totally fresh 80, work on running dailies to rep up with factions you need for enchants.  If you can spare badges, convert extra triumph to reputation from the vendors in Dalaran.  It might seem like a lot of work for a head, or shoulder enchant, but once you’ve got all your gear enchanted, it makes a huge difference.  It’s like the difference between running about without socketed gear, and finally breaking down and acquiring some gems.

Be Selective.  If you’re planning to raid with your guild, make sure you actually enjoy raiding with your guild.  Don’t run with a group of people you don’t have fun running with.  Whatever you end up raiding (10s, 25s, hard modes, etc.) it’s no fun if you don’t enjoy the people you’re with.  And this is a game (much as some of us tend to forget it).  Whatever you log in to do, always make sure you’re having fun.  That’s a big part of it.

Anyways, having read my brilliantly creative tips, go forth and pwn some bosses for me.  Seriously.  I’ll be here.  I’m waiting.  I want to see some dead Lich Kings with “Flairn” carved into their necks.  Just let me know.

Oh… and have fun!  That too.

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In the World of Warcraft, tanks arte often portrayed and percieved as the “A Type” personalities of the game.  They’re the gun-ho, crazy people who, instead of staying back where it is safe- run screaming into the most dangerous parts of the world.  They are the adrenaline junkies.  The skydivers and roller-coaster nuts of WoW.

And in the WoW of today- the late-expansion play-style, where everyone is running about in T10, decked out in crazy ICC gear, tanks are almost under more pressure now than they are at the beginning of an expansion.  NOW, they have to deal with expectations.  Like being able to pretty much solo a heroic, or take huge hits like they’re love taps.  Some tanks can do this.  Some tanks live up to this expectation and excel under the pressure.  They are, quite literally, tanks.

I like to maintain that somewhere out there, there is a “Golden Tank”, the ultimate tank who is so good he doesn’t even need to be healed.  He just solos everything.  The tank who can run into a heroic, pull the whole instance, then grab a coffee while the dps AoE it down.  And my worry in this era of late-expansion playing, is that too many tanks try to live up to that unreasonable fantasy.

New tanks often bow to the pressure, and waltz into heroics, and actually TRY to pull the whole instance.  Even tanks that are grizzled veterans will sometimes bite off more than they can chew.  Is this a bad thing?  Well, when it wipes a raid… obviously- yes.  It’s bad to wipe.  Is it an unforgivable crime for which I would condemn a tank to an eternity in… I don’t know… the occulus?  No.  Of course not.  Tanks are human too.  But in the interest of preventing further wipes- I would like to put this out there to all the tanks, young and old, who find themselves occasionally doing stupid things.

Disclaimer: I do not play a tank.  I have tanked some low level randoms.  That’s it.  I am by no means an expert.  These tips are given through the eyes of a healer, and occasional dps only.  They do not reflect the best way to tank, and this is not a tanking guide.  More like tanking suggestions.

/end disclaimer

Tip #1–  When tanking, make sure everyone is ready before you pull.  There’s nothing we not-tanks hate more than having the tank glance at his health, see it is full, then run off into the pull, only to realize the healer and the mage were drinking, and the hunter was switching specs before the run.  Typing a quick “Ready?” into party/raid chat goes a long way towards common courtesy and keeping your party/raid/random/whatever happy.  People won’t complain or say “hurry up”.  They’ll thank you for being considerate.

Tip #2–  Pay attention!  Yes, as a tank your primary focus is keeping aggro off the squishies.  But if you find that the healer isn’t pulling his weight, or one of the dps is a fresh 80, take a deep breath, and  SLOW DOWN.  Seriously.  Pull one trash group at a time.  Give everyone a second between pulls.  Make sure everyone can handle it.  Nicely point out that the DK is dpsing in Frost Presence.  Although all classes and roles should pay attention, it’s especially up to the tank, who controls who pulls what, when.

Tip #3– Do NOT overpull.  This is my all-time biggest pet-peeve with tanks.  While gearing my druid to heal (I’m still in this process, just much further along), I once got a random Pit of Saron.  We reached the trash before the first boss, and the tank said this into party chat “Mount pulling.  Be ready with heals.”  I had no idea what this meant.  Mount pulling?  Huh?  Are the mobs on mounts?  The tank then mounted up and pulled every group of trash up to the boss.  Expecting me, the undergeared healer to heal through it, and the dps to AoE it down.

Take a moment and look at gear.  Notice that “Wow that healer isn’t raiding yet.  He’s in random heroic gear.  Maybe I should take it slower.”  And really, unless you are running with guildies, whose abilities you know inside, outside and backwards, you really shouldn’t ever be “mount pulling.”  You should pull in easy doses in a PuG.  Don’t expect everyone to be uber leet.

Back to my example tank- later on in the dungeon, at the point just before the ice tunnel leading up to the last boss, the tank ran up the steps leading to the tunnel.  Note that this was after I told him I wasn’t very geared, and asked nicely if he could take things a little slower.  He pulled all the groups on the hill he could pull, at once.  Never do this.  Never make a huge, ridiculous pull if you aren’t 342% sure your team can handle it.  And if the healer has already asked you to slow down… seriously?  Need I say more?

Tip #4–  My fourth and final word of advice for tanks from a resident Not-Tank.  Know your own limitations.  This goes for any class/role.  Know what you are capable off.  If you can’t handle showing off with enormous pulls- don’t.  Just step back, and take it easy.  People might not love going slowly, but I can guarantee they dislike repair bills even more.

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