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.


Leading the Charge

Switching things up a bit today, I’ve decided to shy away from my many complaints about heroics and focus on my Death Knight, and the fabulous world of PvP.  If you’ve spent any time whatsoever PvPing, then chances are you’ve spent more time than you’d care to admit running around in Battlegrounds.

If you’ve ever looked at your raid section of the Character tab while in a battleground, you’ve probably noticed the battleground leader crown next to a player’s name.  And even if you haven’t, you’ve probably noticed the battleground leader tag in the raid chat for the BG.  These players are the first to enter the battleground, and therefore are meant to “lead it”.

But how often do you actually see the battleground leader, leading?

Very rarely.

It’s a symptom of the ease with which one can now simply click “Random Battleground” that the old ways of pre-made BGs are slowly going down the drain.  It’s rare to see a group in battlegrounds really coordinate the way they were meant to while playing the game.

Battlegrounds are meant to be as much about strategy as they are about raw PvP skill.  It’s a game of tactics as well as skill.  That’s why premades are so successful.  You can hop in and simply demolish the unorganized competition.  In an ideal world, this should also be possible with a PuG.  The players should recognize the logic behind a uniform strategy followed by all members of the raid, and stick to the plan.

It’s a sure way to win.  Seriously.

But it’s all too rare these days to find the players designated as the leader actually think for a moment, and lay down a solid strategy, even in the opening moments of idleness before the round begins.  It’s not unusual to find a group of players running off without a single line of discussion in /bg.

Even more seldom, does the leader take charge in times of strife.  If the alliance (sorry to all the gnomes out there- I’m Horde forever) is pushing us back, or the Horde line is falling apart, it should fall to the leader to call in the ranks, form up, and make a comeback.  Often in battlegrounds, when the opposing team gets ahead, the players will give up, start arguing amongst themselves, and lose even more painfully.  Let me say something here:

You can always make a comeback.

It doesn’t matter how far behind you are.  Organization, tactics, strategy and some solid PvP can make a comeback from almost every situation.

It’s easy to see the logic behind having a designated leader in a battleground.  Any PvPer will tell you that when the raid is organized you win.  But there’s a major problem with this perfect, ideal world of PvP domination.

People don’t listen.

Even if the raid leader says something coherent, and puts out a perfectly good strategy, it’s rare to have more than a third of the BG actually follow it.  You usually get people with different plans confusing the whole thing, or people that are just there to get some achievement and don’t care about actually winning.

It’s the same in 10 or 25 man raids.  The raid leader takes charge and lets you down the boss.  If the raiders don’t listen, you wipe.  The boss gets to live to fight another day and you have to shell out a hefty repair bill.  If you ignore the leader of you battleground, you are much, much more likely to lose.  I know the battleground leaders don’t get to choose whether or not they lead, but I think that they should either take charge, or pass lead to someone else.  And if you’re ever in a battleground, do yourself a favour.  If someone puts out a strategy- stick to it.  You’ll probably win.

So, in my own, long-winded way- I’m putting out the question to the community.  How far do you think a battleground leader should take his/her responsibility?  Should they be held responsible to actually lead?  Or are players better off fending for themselves?

Gearscore, or skill?

I’m sure that I’m not the first blogger to ask this question, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.  As I’ve gone from PvP on my druid into the world of PvE (raiding being my eventual goal), I’ve had to return to the world of being relatively undergeared for just about all the content that currently gets run.  I CAN usually make it into a weekly raid, but that’s about as far as my gear will carry me, and too far into Ulduar, I still can’t handle the content.

So, in a world of ilvl 277 BiS wearing raiders, the question that comes to mind, is just how important is gear, really?

Let me give you an example.  Yesterday the random dungeon finder saw fit to stick me into Heroic Pit of Saron.  Now, I was under the impression that without sufficient gear, one could not get into these new heroic 5 mans, as they are reasonably difficult.  All the same, clearly the RoF (Random Occulus Finder) counts my ilvl 245-251 PvP gear as raid pieces, and ignore the fact that they are of origin in the arena.

So there I was, stuck in the second hardest heroic 5-man in the game, with less than half my triumph gear.  BUT I managed to get through it.  It was a little tense at times, and one or two of my party died on each boss, but we made it through without any wipes.  I was pretty impressed with myself.

Later that evening, I found myself facing a new loading screen when I queued for a random heroic, and my heart sank.  “Please don’t be Halls of Reflection,” I prayed silently.  I knew that HoR was actually considered pretty tough, particularly in heroic mode (and since I was queued for a random heroic, of course it would be.

And yes, it was HoR.  For the second time in a row, I was put into a random ICC 5-man, in heroic mode.  For this third member of the ICC 3, I knew I was seriously undegeared.  We wipped twice on the third of fourth wave of mobs (right at the beginning) and I got a charming “wtf.  Bad heals”, and group leave by the tank.

Thus the question.  Were my heals really bad?  Resto healing in heroics is not complicated.  I stood where I should have been standing, and popped the same HoTs that some ICC veteran would have used.  I like to consider myself a fairly competant healer (if not in PvE, I’ve been PvP healing for quite some time).  I know my role.  But I just wasn’t geared for the content.

When gearscore first made a big splash on the scene, everyone all over the game, and the internet were all freaking out about it.  “What if my gearscore isn’t high enough?  What if I get kicked for not having raid gear?”  The same questions were asked again and again.  At what point does gearscore constitute skill at the game?  When does experience and capacity to play your role start to matter less?

The conclusion most bloggers reached, of course, was that both were needed.  You had to have skill, but without the right gear, all the skill in the world was irrelevant.  I can’t say I disagree with this stance.  I could have healed my way through HoR easily with better gear.  But, when it comes down to actual raiding, I have a somewhat different opinion.

Once you step into ICC, and you’ve been at it for a while, the gear really levels out.  Everyone is at the same level of content.  A good chunk of all the raiding guilds out there, are now reaching the Lich King, and that means the gear curve is leveling out.  Everyone is running around in tier 10 gear, with ilvl 264-277 raid epics (unless you only run 10 mans, in which case your gear is a little lower).  At that point, gear stops muttering.  On the leading edge of content, where you’ve stopped regularly upgrading your gear, most of the upgrades you get are going to be pretty minor.

Once you start min-maxing, and playing around at the endgame of endgame, gear isn’t really what it is where I am now.  What really matters is skill.  Although yes, I’m not a raid leader, if I were, I’d rely less on “Dude, wth, you’ve only got 3.2k gs- what are you doing with your life?”  And more on, “Hey look, someone who can play.”

In a world full of idiots that just like to brag about how good their gear is, I think people should really take a step back, and look at what really counts.

I know that tree isn't me. But when in tree form, we bare a startling resemblance.

As you have probably guessed by the banner of this blog, I play a tree druid.  I started off determined to play a feral (even AFTER I leveled as one, as most druids do) all the way through endgame.  Then I found out they don’t really DO PvP, which is mostly what I began spending my time with on my druid.  I tried off-speccing balance, but at the time, boomkins were sadly neglected, and I eventually fell into the restoration tree, as my guild was in desperate need of PvP healers.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy playing a tree druid.  I would have stopped a long time ago, if I didn’t immediately fall in love with the spec.  I’ve PvPed pretty well exclusively resto since, but when I stepped into the scary world of PvE, I decided to go back to feral.  If you are a druid, and want to try feral dps, there are two questions you need to ask yourself.

1) Do I have a brain?

2) Do I wanted it fried?

Feral dps, is massively complicated, and I am just far too lazy to put up with it.  It was around the time I was failing to run heroics that I made a lovely discovery.

Heroics are easy.

So easy, in fact, that I could run heroics in my PvP gear.  And when you’re a tree, no one cares.  No one can even see my gear after all, and as long as people aren’t dying, you don’t get complaints.  Thus I ventured into the world of PvE, by healing heroics.

Now, any player in the game who has made it to 80 will have experience with heroics.  Even as a PvPer, I ran the occasional instance.  And with 3.3’s LFG system, people run heroics all the time.  So I am probably not the first overworked healer in existence to make an interesting discovery.

People ignore us.

As long as the tank isn’t dying, and as long as the dps can still pew pew, no one really notices the healer.  If we aren’t doing are job, it is always blatantly clear that this is the case.  But if people are NOT dying, the healer is just that guy standing near the back who doesn’t feel like  attacking the boss.

Not obviously in a raid scenario, this is absolutely not the case, people pay plenty of attention to the healers in raids, and especially in a group of people that know you.  You’ll be treated like  any other player, and get complemented for a job well done, and reprimanded for a poor performance.

But we’re talking PUGs here.  PUGs of heroics no less.  People outgear the content so epicly, that there is a widespread belief that you don’t even need to try.  This is true.  While I was leveling, and healing the odd instance druid healing (outside of raids) was explained to me like this.

Step #1- Pop HoTs

Step #2- /dance with tank

And this is the case with heroics (outside of the ICC 3, perhaps).  You really don’t need to put effort into it.  But there is a point a lot of people forget.  This is a 5 man.  It takes more than one person.  Even if you can ALMOST solo them, you need help.  This brings me to the purpose of this post.

When running a heroic, do yourself and the group a favour, look behind you.  You may notice a healer.  You need him/her.  They keep you from dying.  Dying = bad.

People wait for the tank.  The tank chooses when the pull, and only pulls when he/she is ready to pull.  Dps will not randomly charge boldly into a boss until the tank pulls this.  BUT, no one waits on a healer in the world of heroics.  I have often looked away from the computer, or taken a drink, only to return seconds later to find that my group is a fair distance away, dying to a very large trash pull (because, after all, why pull one at a time, we outgear this place to death).

If you do not wait for your healer, you will die.

/end rant

In all seriousness, yes you can breeze through heroics.  They are a joke.  Laughable, even.  But you should always do yourself the favour of making sure everyone is there.  This isn’t a daily, and you aren’t soloing content.  Without that little flash of green on your screen from time to time, you might have a lot more trouble.

/seriously.  I’m done now.

And so it begins.

At the beginning of many great things, there have been an assortment of joyous celebrations.  There has been people cheering in the streets.  Hockey games stop traffic.  Elections shape countries.  And here we stand, you (the unnamed reader) and I on the brink of something truly grand.  Something fantastic.  Something so incredible and undefinable that I’m not even going to try to define it.  I won’t blame you if you shed a tear… or jump for joy.  Those are all perfectly normal reactions, because this is the beginning of something really, truly, special.

This blog.

If you are reading this, then that means you’ve already discovered this blog, and how incredible it is.  This is most likely because this is the very first post, so if you’re reading it, we are probably months in the future, and you just love the blog so much you came back to see where it all began.

So you’re reading this.

If you’re reading this as I post it, you probably want some information besides the very obvious fact that this is post #1.  So here it is.

My name is Flairn, and this is my third attempt at a WoW blog.  I’ve tried a feral druid blog.  A hunter/druid blog with a friend of mine.  A druid PvE blog.   I even (almost) started a DK blog,  since there just aren’t many DK bloggers.  But they all mostly went down the drain, do to my own laziness and boredom.

But for some reason, that urge to write has taken me again, and so I’m heading back into the blogosphere, head held high, spirits on the rise, determined to make it work this time.

What am I making work?

Well this blog of course.  You my dear, fond, friend (and probably only reader) have found your way into a WoW blog, about WoW.   It’s going to be a bit about DKs.  A little about Druids.  Maybe some PvP.  Heck, I might even start raiding.  But the bottom line is, this is THE blog.  This is the one I’m going to keep writing and finish.  If you want a specific niche of WoW, you’ve come to the wrong place.  A blog about WoW is niche enough for me.

So if you’re interested in hearing my inane ramblings about the game we all play, stick around – you’re in the right place.  If you want to be entertained for five minutes every day, then please, put your feet up and enjoy.  If you want to laugh, and cry, and become emotionally attached to something on the web, be my guest – try the couch, it’s lovley.

Because for better or for worse, you have found your way into the Cognisance Council- bringing coherence to the World of Warcraft since right now.

Good luck, and happy reading.