Last night, hold onto your bacon folks, last night Beartrap ran… a heroic instance!

Crazy, cats, simply craaaazy.

My first heroic instance since the expansion shipped!

Well, the first one I did where the group finished the run, and my first attempt to join one in over four months, so it still qualifies. I think.

What made me do something that out of character?

Why, having friends to play with, of course!

Beartrap the mighty hunter ventured forth, set to wage war in partnership with Hedwig and Matheo, because… well, because they felt like doing a heroic and asked me along.

What, you expected something more? Sorry, they wanted to play and I think I’m finally heroic ready, so I went with ‘em.

Picture this, if you will. Beartrap the Beastmaster Hunter enters the random queue for a heroic with Matheo the Bear Tank and Hedwig the Healing Priest.

*I* get to follow along and watch a Bear Tank lead through a heroic. A heroic where two other players, NOT the tank or healer, are pugged in.

This has all the possibilities needed for postworthy drama, don’t it?

Where we ended up was Vortex Pinnacle.

I’d like to say that if other instances are anything like Vortex Pinnacle, I am going to have myself a mighty fun time in WoW from now on.

Vortex Pinnacle, under the talented paws of Matheo and with good healing from Hedwig, called to mind all the best memories I have of running heroic instances from both Burning Crusade AND Wrath of the Lich King.

Bold words, I know, but lemme explain.

When I think of Burning Crusade heroic instances at level, what memories do I call forth?

One thing that I loved was that the intelligent use of crowd control was not just an option, but an understood necessity. Not just that CC was needed, but that the group walked in KNOWING that it would be needed, and worked together accordingly.

I liked that because I felt more involved as part of the team when I went as DPS, that I had to be prepared to bring the Ice Trap skillz.

Likewise on having things that needed to be removed, such as curses. Having Static Cling on the final boss fight in Vortex Pinnacle, and needing it to be cleansed off so I could move again made me VERY aware of how much we needed Hedwig in the fight, and not just as a healbot.

I liked that feeling in Vortex Pinnacle. We had mobs marked for traps, I was given the go ahead to trap ‘em, and boy howdy did I! We also had a tank that used Skulls and Xes and Squares to mark mobs, and I always love seeing that in a run.

Another thing I liked was the architecture provided plenty of opportunity for line of sight pulls, and they were taken advantage of. That was great fun as well.

There was tension, there were mobs off the aggro table running around as a free for all, there were interesting boss fights, it had it all.

But what it also had was the shortness of Wrath of the Lich King heroic instances.

Even with the CC and mechanics, and the hopping from tornado to tornado, it only took a half hour to complete the instance.

I loved how short Wrath of the Lich King instances were, but I felt that they achieved that by being straight line runs from group to group with little in the way of tactical variety. Charge in, AoE, burn fast, next group, rinse and repeat. The uber-heroics in ICC were an improvement, but groups had been trained out of how to play by that point. Why look, the unfun!

What we had last night had the complexity and teamwork requirements of Burning Crusade, the interesting variety and lessons learned from both expansions, and the quickness of Wrath of the Lich King.

There was just one more element that was needed for me to feel rejuvenated and eager to begin playing group content again, and I got it;

An entertaining conversation with friends over Ventrilo.

Nothing is more fun to me than chatting with friends about the fights AS you are doing them.

Where else do you get the opportunity for such awesomeness as saying, “Wow Mat, you almost bit it on that pull”, and having Hedwig reply, “Oh, I wasn’t really paying attention on healing him.”

When you’re having such a good time chatting that you forget how to play, you know you’re doing it right.

I know that the heroic instances have a reputation for being incredibly long, so I’m not assuming that a sample size of one represents anything.

Vortex Pinnacle may have been great, but heroic Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep or Zul’Aman may be three hour slugfests for all I know.

But that’s all right. What I know is, I had a lot of fun in a group last night, and I didn’t expect to see that happen again. Even if the other heroics suck in comparison, if the fun in group is there, if the great conversation with friends is there… why, we’ll have fun despite it all.

Oh yeah, and tank aggro with the changes to Swipe? Much, much smoother response time on grabbing large groups. Matheo reported enjoying life a lot more than before as a tank. 

Geez, if I keep having friends to play with, the next thing you know I’m going to transfer my Druid over and start tanking for groups again!

Of course, if I did that, then I’d have to start developing gear lists, and I’d have to work out the math on stat priorities…. on second thought, maybe I’d be better off taking a hammer to my hard drive now and just going fishing.

20 Responses to “How Bear got his groove back”
  1. Neil says:

    Woot! That sounds like an awesome way to return to heroics. Glad to hear the Big Bear Butt (or is it the Big Bear Trap now?) is back in action!

    I’m thinking about coming back and dipping my toes into WoW again over the summer. I’ve been gone since Cataclysm’s release, the longest break I’ve taken since creating my account in Sept 2007. There are so many exciting new things in the game, though, that I’m increasingly tempted to come back … I think I’ve finally gotten the hardcore-playing bug out of my system (late Wrath raiding killed it pretty hard), which means I might actually have some fun this time around :P

  2. Faeldray says:

    I do love VP because it’s the easiest and the shortest. Other heroics however…let’s just say that I’ve spent way too many hours in places like Grim Batol, Deadmines, and Shadowfang Keep.

    I found that being a CC bot as a hunter got old pretty fast, but it’s good to see that it’s enjoyable for you. :)

  3. Rades says:

    That’s great to hear that your first run was so good! :D I also like Vortex for the same reasons you listed – you have to play properly and with skill, but it doesn’t take 2 hours to slog through. Throne of Tides isn’t too bad either, even doing the optional boss. Some of the other ones are pretty long though, and the new Zul ones are almost mini-raids, even in a guild/friend group of all awesome players.

    Just a quick pointer for next time you end up in VP, you can actually avoid the Static Clings if you jump before the cast finishes. The timing is tricky at first but if you can get it down it makes the healer’s job much easier!

    • Fangtastic says:

      Yes, time your jump so you’re in the air as the cast finishes and you should be able to avoid it.

      Healers in low gear will love you if you do this, each druid’s dispel costs 3K mana now so if 5 people get the cling 3 times, thats 45K mana.

  4. Xew says:

    VP is quite fun. (Note, you can jump to avoid Static Cling – help your healer out!)

    My most favoritest dungeon is Lost City – it’s also fairly short, great rep grind, interesting bosses…

    I’ve begun tanking with my paladin after getting my main (tree) completely rep’d and geared out of heroics. Going from healer to tank has been a lot of fun; learning the mechanics of the fights that I routinely ignore while healing has been a hoot. It’s even more fun as guild healers have commented that I’m a lot less squishy than when I first started tanking (gear helped, but I think it’s more I’m learning how to tank).

    I’m a big advocate of the adage “To be the best, play the rest.” Learning mechanics of different fights from tanking, healing and dps makes you a better player in whatever your current role is. You learn which fights are burn fights and which are dances; where the healer needs the dps to be proactive in avoiding damage and where there is no ‘galaxy poop’ to worry about. But even if you’re just playing one role of one class – it’s helpful to understand what everyone else in the group brings to the table… the more you know… and knowing is half the battle… and all those witticisms we grew up on :)

  5. Hedwig says:

    YAY! I’m glad you had fun! I think you might have convinced me to log on tonight for another heroic.

    • Apple says:

      Y’know, I have a Dwarf named Hadewig on Azuremyst, who only got the older version of that name because someone already WAS “Hedwig”. Now I know who to blame! *fist shake*

      • bigbearbutt says:

        But she is the *best* Hedwig!

        • Hedwig says:

          Thanks BBB! :) LOL, I’ve been Hedwig for over 5 years now. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan so most of my toons get their names from HP books.

  6. Savvy-Savvage says:

    If you have a spriest you can mind control the humanoids off the level to their deaths one at a time : )

  7. Ben says:

    The expansion only lasted two months for me .

    glad to hear the fun you had , Bear.

    Wait till you do dead mines for the first time :)

    Its more pacy than a terminator movie !

  8. Grim says:

    Ya, static cling is avoidable. On my hunter, I typically go into Fox for the fight and just jump up and down the entire time. The beauty of that is that you can do most of your shots while “moving” with Fox. The rare times I mis-time it, I smack Master’s Call, and my pet runs to me and frees me.

  9. Ngita says:

    As others have said you can jump for static cling and you can jump for quake, Not having to spend 4 gcd’s on dispells and quite a bit of mana makes a big difference. You don’t have to jump all the time, just timed so your in the air when the cast finishes.

  10. Gameldar says:

    I like VP too – although the first pulls (across the bridge) are a pain as a tank because they like to stun you/banish you etc as you head in … just as the DPS unleash. And you can do fun things like mind control and run mobs off the edge as the form of ‘cc’.

    I’ve found as I’ve been going into all the heroics again as my bear (rather than my pally tank) that they seem to be running quicker now than they used to. This is a combination of generally more experience with the fights, and generally better gear – and well for me bear dps is awesome. I’m not sure how it’ll fair now that there are two tiers of heroics and the better geared players are likely only running the troll instances (and the troll instances feel like the other used to – a wipe fest of dropping healers because people don’t understand the mechanics – they’re not too difficult once you get a handle on the mechanics – well ZG at least – haven’t run ZA yet).

    In terms of length – Deadmines and Grim Batol seem the longest although Stonecore has always been a longer run than it should as well. I’ve done SFK in 30 minutes – which was an absolutely awesome run in terms of fun – I was having to work hard to maintain a threat lead against a fury warrior pulling 22k dps, a hunter pulling 18k dps…(and a mage that did a respectable 9k dps and still ended up in fourth spot… and this was before the bear dps buffs) and we were all the while chatting away. And that was from a complete pug too.

  11. Unglar says:

    As many have said, VP is one of the easier and quicker heroics, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to run or any less of an achievement to do as your first heroic. I remember chain-trapping in Magisters Terrace on my hunter (before he retired) and having to fear a pet on High King Maulgar on my lock in Burning Crusade, and they are good memories. Other heroics are longer, but if you’re running with a good group all of the heroics from release should be doable in 45 minutes to an hour.

    I really enjoyed reading something so positive about running heroics, between people complaining they are too hard, too easy or just that every single other player in their groups are ‘bads’, I was starting to despair, so kudos to you Bear for cheering me up.

  12. Fangtastic says:

    I am glad you had so much fun in there Bear, it is nice to see a post from you getting your groove back in WoW.

    Of the “old” Cata heroics, I like Grim Batol the most. Its a total hoot to tank, many opportunities for CC, delicious line of sight friendly architecture and many an unsuspecting dragonkin to hibernate. Shadowfang Keep is another great instance.

    Personally though, I’m loving the ZA / ZG heroics now. Just so much fun, been getting great pugs in there too.

  13. Ursa says:

    As a druid of many forms, I really enjoy the new instances. There’s something for everyone to do aside from just standing there mashing a button. The retooled troll instances are well done – ZG in particular. I won’t spoil any of it for you though – go forth and conquer!

  14. Suxxy says:

    B3, get thyself to ZA. Hats off to Blizz for re-createing it as a 5 man with all the feel from the 10 man raid. I never did the original ZG, but that’s so much fun too (WTB portable ice cauldron).
    But even the non-Z Heroics *are* fun.
    Without spoiling things for you:
    – Fun to watch new tanks try to aoe trash pulls where there are 2 healers in the pack, keeping each other alive (that can make for some long fights);
    – One particular boss spawns 3 ads, and even pugs seem standard on cc’ing 2 of them;
    – Having 2-3 dps have to dance to block beams (think Kara dragon boss);
    – Some bosses require the *tank* to dance; and
    – Having a dps off-tank driving a mechanical Reaper.

    Just a few things to look forward to :)

  15. Pawzy says:

    Yay! It’s great to hear that other people are having fun with heroics as well! I’ve recently found myself guild-less after being chased out of a guild by a person who was the most manipulative and two-faced word I won’t type here on a respectable site. Said person had me questioning my abilities about everything I could do in WoW as a priest.

    There I was, a lonely and listless 85 priest, looking for something to do. I’d done heroics plenty of times… as shadow spec. So, I said to myself, “Self, why not do something you haven’t done before?” I dusted off my holy spec, did a little re-gemming on my gear, took a deep breath… and solo queued as a healer for a random heroic. First run, it was a little hairy on mana, but no wipes. “Good heals!” all four of the puggers told me. Second run, by blind luck, 3 out of the 4 puggers are from my realm! Once again, no wipes. The other 3 people seemed to think I was okay, so we chained up for 3 more runs before they finally had to log to sleep. We added each other to the friends lists. Now, every other day, we try to hook up and bang out a heroic or two!

    Do I miss my old guildmates? Terribly so, but I won’t be going back until that bully is gone. Immature on my part? Maybe, but I’m not playing $15/month to be made to feel horrible! And he/she shows no inclination of leaving, yet. So, I roam the wilds as the rare guildless healer. I’ve started making a few new friends, and finding out that everything that bully said about me was wrong, DEAD wrong. It feels good to be growing my confidence back. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get brave enough to pick up my bear-alt where I left her and try tanking again? :)

  16. Finwe says:

    I know I’m really late in reading this post, but I wanted to ease your apprehension on the bear tank gear. It’s actually gotten really easy in this expansion. Just grab Agility gear. If the ilvl is higher, it’s an upgrade. Then, AskMrRobot. He should tell you to reforge everything to dodge rating. It’s that simple.

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