Be a Bear, Be a Bear!

Be a bear! Be a bear!
Show them all that you don’t care.
Nap all winter if you want to,
Who would dare disturb your lair?

I could not be who I am if I didn’t tell you about this MOST EXCELLENT Kickstarter project; The Bear Simulator.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330754003/bear-simulator/widget/video.html

Finally, the internet has achieved it’s final form – we can fund what matters most in life.

Some fools thought what is best in life was to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Bearshit.

What matters most is funding what we want; a game where we are a real bear.

We have come full circle, you and I.

Our natural enemy started strong with Big Game Hunter, letting them feel like they were somehow superior, but the circle of life demands balance.

And bears. Lots of bears.

To quote the Kickstarter project description,

It’s like a mini Skyrim but you’re a bear.

Even better. It’s already fully funded.

This isn’t vaporware, this isn’t an imaginary dream or a cautionary tale, this is a BIG BEAR DERRIERE wandering all up in your vale. Er, valley.

So go! What the hell are you waiting for? Are you going to let some damn GOAT take all the glory?

Fuck goats!

And if you’re a bear, you can, because who the hell is going to stop a bear from doing whatever it wants?

GO!

GO GET YOUR NAME ON THE BIG BEAR WALL!

Confessions of an Inveterate Bouncer

Once upon a time in a magical, far off land there was a bear.

The bear liked to growl and dance, and talk, and eat heaping piles of bacon.

But above all else, the bear liked to bounce.

From dragons and dungeons to instances and invasions, his big brown butt could be seen happily bouncing to the beat of nations.

Times change, talents were added, tweaked, moved and were lost, but the bounce went on.

Damage was mitigated, reduced, dodged and avoided, but the bounce went on.

Finally there came a day when mitigation became active, and something had to give. The bear could either be bouncy or be beat on, but not both at once.

With sadness, the big brown bear realized that if he gave himself over to being the most active, properly defensive bear he should be, he would have nothing left over to bounce with.

The bear felt his world turning quite gray and cold. Bearing on the bounce was what prevented feeling old.

“A bear without bounce, that just will not do! Oh bother,” the bear thought, “bouncing has gotten too hard to do! Perhaps it’s time to leave tanking for the fast-fingered crew.”

The bear settled down and his days turned quite slow, for he had no more oomph and no particular place to go. He rested in his tree and ate bacon all day, and wondered through the hours what new games he should play.

“I loved being a bear and bouncing all day, and swiping my paws in the enemies’ face. I wonder what’s out there, what else I could do to bring the good times bouncing back with a good swipe or two.”

The bear looked around, and read through the lists, of character creation and leveling kits. Monks and Pandaren, Priests and Paladins too, so many options to choose from but none that ring true!

But wait, what am I thinking, the choice is quite clear! It’s a pandaren hunter that can bounce it’s butt near. I’ll grab a big gun and have a funky dance, and when it comes to bouncing just watch that groovy ass!

Off the bear went, and felt his soul on the mend as he hunted Isle mogu with his dinosaur friend. Growls and stomping, leaps and chomping and a fat feast of feathers flew, the feral spirit was returning with a bear bouncing through.

The hunter tried raiding while shaking his fluff, and bouncing around goofily soloing stuff. The Island of Thunder got smacked with a bow and a gun shoved quite rudely where no gun should go.

It just wasn’t the same, some essential something was missed. Did he make the wrong choice in the character class list? The bear felt himself sitting in front of the screen, wondering “Should I keep logging on in, or start shopping on Steam?”

He didn’t know what to do, was his time over in WoW? If there was no more joy, stick a fork in it now.

He finally decided to make no sudden rash moves. “My father procrastinated, I’m going to too! Why act right away to decide what to do? I’ll putter and potter and mutter and ramble, and mess with some alts while I chat and I scramble. In time I’ll find out if the magic’s all gone, or if theres still some fat spark lurking deep in the wand.”

The bear played with his Pally, his Warrior and Priest, but though they were okay none of them bounced like a beast. The paladin felt clunky, the warrior lacked range, and the priest looked all awesome but couldn’t move worth a damn.

Then he tried something new, something he’d always abhored; he rolled a slimy warlock (but at least it wasn’t a Horde).

The Warlock seemed crappy, it had pets without style, everyone summoned the same with random names from a file. If you’re going to have pets, at the very little least you could let us enslave them for a variety of treats!

Why isn’t this Warlock the same as the Hunter I know, but with red and green fire and a staff not a bow? I want it all different, but also the same, because I want it new but still different, yes I’m completely insane.

Why not give it a chance, why not try out the specs, see what demonology is like, I hear it’s a tank with a pet.

I tried all the specs out, and was flabbergasted to see that the more that I played it, the more it was ME!

The warlock could leap and could bounce and could hop, all while spitting red fire and sending pets out to chomp.

Demonology meant you could leap forward quite far, be tough as a tank and chew bad guys like sharks. You grew giant bat wings and great honking horns, and the ground at your feet swirled with purple arcane forms.

Affliction meant you were a poisonous beast, and it was everything I hated in my original priest. I didn’t want to drop DoTs on a bunch of bad guys, and sit watching as they took forever to die.

Then someone suggested I give destruction a try if I wanted to bounce and tear around on the fly. “You get to rain fire and dance all about, lords a leaping and chasing and shooting green dragons up the snout.”

I gave it a try, it all seemed pretty cool, but I’m a bear in my heart and this warlock felt crude. I’m not about evil cackles and eating your soul, a chomp on some bacon’s as far as I’ll go.

I know it’s all fun and I’m having a blast, but do I really want to play some evil asshole in a mask?

Turns out yes I do, I just pretend I’m not evil, the fire is quite nice and doesn’t REALLY burn people. I’m a sleek deadly warlock that destroys all evil in sight, I like long walks on the beach, provided there is a warbringer to fight.

Yes, I know it’s not proper that a bear turns to fire, but the DESTRUCTION LETS ME BOUNCE WHILE I SET THING ALIGHT!

I can fire and torch baddies from morning til noon, and all the while bounce like a big fricken loon.

The pet thing turned out to be fine in the end, there is something reassuring about a dedicated tank friend. When my blueberry is out I know right away that it’s tanking he’s doing, I don’t have to respec a thing. If I want to shoot fire I whip out the imp, and when it’s time to turn freaky I bring out the whip.

The more I wanted to hate it the more my love grew, this Warlock all bouncing and in sweet evil clothes.

Now I spend all my time in the game like I should, bouncing around having fun like a happy bear could.

I may be purple and green and throw red fire about, I have a blueberry for a pet and scare things when I shout, but I can solo warbringers and kill DeGei with a portal and I can bounce all I want while I rain fire upon you.

I know it’s not proper for a bouncing bear butt to say, but in the heart of a warlock I found a reason to stay.

The End of a Druid Tank

This is going to be a very hard post to make.

I’ve been avoiding facing it for a while now, but I owe it myself to stay on target here. I started the blog by talking about Bear Tanking, and when something this drastic happens, it’s time I say so.
 
I’ve lost that Bear Tank feeling.

That’s not just a whimsical pop culture reference, it’s the closest I can come to the truth of what has happened to me.

A core belief of mine is that everyone has their own preferences in playstyle.

It could be as broad as melee versus ranged, or as narrow as instant attacks versus slow cast times, and anything in between. Visual feel, lots of buttons available to always have something to pop, fewer controls and lots of dead time to watch surroundings, everyone wants something unique to them.

There are raw numbers, which determine a baseline potential for a class. And then there is that amazing feeling, when you just “get” something, as if you and the class were meant to be as one that take you beyond numbers (or bring you to where those numbers say you can be).

It’s not just good class design, although that has a lot to do with it. Every class out there will have someone who, when they try it, find a second skin they pull on and become one.

For me, right from the beginning the Bear Tank was The One. The class that, when I pop Bear form, it’s instinctive, natural. Everything made absolute sense and went from being mechanics or buttons to press and instead became an obvious way of life.

Bear Tanking was as natural as bouncing.

What has happened to me is that as the mechanics have changed over the years, the class numbers may have improved in effectiveness or balance, but the class stopped being a perfect fit.

The fur felt a little tight around the wrists. I started feeling lower back pain from the new posture. Whatever you want to call it.

It didn’t happen all at once, but the addition of Active Mitigation has taken it the rest of the way. It’s no longer just a bit of a bad fit, now I just don’t have fun as a Bear tank in a real content group.

I can still Bear Tank, but I feel no joy at the thought. Not anymore.

And I HATE HAVING LOST THAT JOY.

That’s what it’s come down to. I no longer tank naturally or instinctively. It is a struggle for me now, to incorporate Active Mitigation in an intelligent way into all of the other changes, and still maintain spacial awareness of where the party and the mobs are so I can grab and maintain threat.

Perhaps I am simply not capable of playing at that level anymore. Maybe the problem lies entirely within my range of ability.

As a Bear Tank, or as any tank for that matter, when I manuever into the pull, I know where the bad guys are, where all entrances into the area are in case of new adds, I know where the rest of the party is and where they are moving to in relation to everything else, I know how much threat I have applied to whom, and who needs more, who is next on my priority list, and what to anticipate.

I find that, in adding Active Mitigation into the mix as buttons that I need to hit in different priority sequences, which can take some or all of my generated Rage away from my threat generating attacks… I can no longer keep all of it going all the time.

It’s a stupid analogy, but it’s true. There are too many balls in the air for me to juggle, and stuff gets dropped. What do I lose track of the most? Dodging, Frenzied Regenerating, and balancing charges/cooldowns against Rage volume timing.

I could learn it. I could force myself to just get out there as a Bear and solo groups in the Summit and try and try and try. I’m sure that, after a while, it would get better.

But I don’t know that I want to. It’s just not… it’s no longer fun for me to be a Bear. And while I know I could attain the skill level I expect out of myself, that’s not the same as finding that sense of joy, or that magical conenction to the class.

I don’t have that feeling that I once cherished, that sense that I was totally in tune with the environment and could have the time to look around me and see the bad guys and grab them before they ate someone’s face off, and see when someone is pulling and swap targets and taunt it off, and all the other little things that need me to be paying attention to the environment instead of my cooldown timers.

It sucks. I miss it. I really do.

I know that, just as I have lost that Bear Tank feeling, others will have found the changes bring the class more in line with their ideal. There is a balance in these things, and somewhere out there are new Bear Tanks that feel like the class has finally ‘clicked’ with something within and they are rocking the charts and their groups.

I wish them well.

For now, the only class I am playing since the changes that really has that perfect fit for me is Beartrap, my Beastmaster Hunter.

I haven’t wanted to admit it, but Beartrap the Hunter has become my new main.

I leveled my Druid to max first, and I focused on my Druid for everything up to now, but I have to admit it to myself. I don’t want to play my Druid in groups anymore. It feels… wrong.

So, my level 85 (now 87) Hunter is my new main, and not my level 90 Druid.

It’s sad, and in admitting this to myself and to you, I feel like I’m letting everyone down. As if I have a responsibility to be the Bear Booster until the end of time. BBB can’t ever not be in love with Bear Tanking.

I’m still in love with being a Bear Tank. It’s just that the Bear Tanks I am in love with are no longer the Bear Tanks I’ve got.

What I’m hoping is that in time the class will change and evolve in a new and different way, and bring it to a new place that gels with me again.

Never say never.

Until then, I will remain a big bear butt, but that butt will have a Hunter running along behind me, pretending she’s in charge.

I don’t know what else to say, except,

well SHIT.

A Guardian Druid Guide to Believe In!

To follow up on a post I made a few days ago, I did some searching to see what sources have been developed so far to guide a Guardian Druid in the changes coming in Patch 5.0.4 and the Mists of Pandaria.

By far, my favorite resource is to be found in the Icy Veins forums.

If you’re looking at what changes are being made and want to mentally prepare yourself, I really encourage you to go check it out. I’ve certainly got it bookmarked!

Icy Veins Guardian Druid Tank Guide

Swimming for Firelands

We’re living in interesting times.

The new expansion for World of Warcraft is just around the corner, and the 5.0.4 patch that will bring us new talent specs is less than two weeks away.

I am… not prepared.

I haven’t made any effort to get prepared, either.

Specifically, prepared to tank as a Guardian Druid Bear RAWR RAWR bash all the things tankity tank tank.

I could have spent my time these last several months doing research, beta testing things out, providing feedback to the devs, all that sort of thing. If I had, I’d be going into this expansion ready and able to take advantage of every gearing and playstyle opportunity that is heading our way.

I chose not to.

I decided, rather than spend my time these last few months as an unpaid beta tester and help influence the direction of the game, I would spend my time having fun in the live game I’m paying for right now.

While others were beta testing, providing valuable feedback and pointed guidance to help improve outr class and future gameplay, and coincidentally preparing themselves with the knowledge they gained, I’ve been busy.

I’ve been running Dragon Soul and Firelands raids with our guild when I can, playing with my family in old instances, and having fun with a bunch of you in Icecrown Citadel.

I’ve been pursuing achievements, leveling alts I’ve never tried before, completing pet and bucket list goals, just living the high life with my wife and son.

Everything comes with a choice… and a price.

That price will soon have to be paid.

The fun I have had along the way has been great, and I regret none of it.

My Mage dinged level 84 last night, and I can proudly say that I leveled as Fire spec every. single. squishy. day. I only bought Dual Spec last night because I wanted to answer the question posed by the immortal Chris Knight, “Hows it feel to be frozen!”

It’s true, ice is nice! But I’m still burning for you, babe.

When the expansion goes live, I am going to return to doing something I haven’t done in a long, long time.

I’m going to return to raiding… on my Druid.

As a tank.

At least, that is the plan right now. I’ve been asked to be one of the tanks for the raid team I’ve been a part of, on my Druid, but whether or not that goes live depends a lot on the team, who levels what first, who wants to do what, that kind of thing. The team I’ve been healing for has two really awesome tanks right now, and as far as I know there hasn’t been a meeting I’ve been a part of to talk about our future plans, so I really don’t know who, if either of them, were planning on playing something else rather than a tank at first.

I’m not trying to vague things up here, I just don’t really know what’s going on. I’m not an officer, a raid leader, or any of that. I am joe player, one each, and I just offered to play whatever part I was asked, asked who I should level first to be ready for the team, and I was asked to level my Druid to tank.

I’m cool with that. It was either my Druid, my Hunter or my Priest, and frankly, I want my Druid leveled to 90 and having fun first. There is so much more I can do with my Druid, for everyone.

Yes, I may even start posting Bear tanking things again here.

God help me, I’ve got a big mouth and I write about whatever I’m doing in the game at the time. Whether or not anyone would care is really irrelevant. It hasn’t stopped me posting anything else, why start now?

Putting aside future raiding and my state of preparedness or not, Imagine with me for a moment what the new expansion will really mean for us as small family or solo players.

I am at heart not a progression raider in the way it used to mean. There is too great a necessity to devote long hours on multiple evenings, time I spend away from computer a lot more than my online status may suggest.

Let’s just say I’ve been surprised to find my character still logged in and afk twenty-four hours after I left to take care of something “just for a minute”.

For those of us who do not raid regularly, or who enjoy playing solo or with just a few family members, level 90 is going to give us a lot of distance from Cataclysm content.

What ICC and Ulduar and Naxxramas are to us now, Bastian of Twilight and Blackwing Descent soon will be. Plus of course the heroic versions of Cataclysm instances.

Right now, a group of three LFR geared players can fairly easily clear most normal Cataclysm dungeons, especially if one of them is a tank.

Once we’re level 90, and geared appropriately from that, all of Cataclysm will open up to us like a pretty flower, and the gate won’t be gear or DPS or HPS, but management of the mechanics.

I’m really looking forward to those days to come.

I’ve found that with the right team, I do love challenging the new content and really pushing forward to do the best I can, but I also love taking a group into close to current content, stuff that WAS the baddest of the bad very recently, and just taking the time to laugh, to joke, to explore and sightsee our way through the content, beating up bad guys as we go.

When Ulduar was current content, I only got in there in raids a few times. When I did get in there, I was focused entirely on performance. I was watching the boss, the trash, and the other players to ensure I was doing my best to help the team win. I wasn’t looking at the graphical design of the architecture.

Likewise every other current raid I have ever done.

It isn’t until content is ‘old tier’ that I’ve able to go in and take my time playing tourist and simply enjoy the artwork, the designs and the amazing attention to detail that has gone into the game.

From something as simple as the floor in Gundrak in front of Moorabi that is so gorgeously detailed with elephants it could be a special collector’s edition china plate, to the room of Algalon in Ulduar that transforms into a stunning galaxy of light and color when the encounter begins, it’s breathtaking… when you are able to take the time to enjoy it.

As much fun as it is to progress in raid content, for me there is more satisfaction to be found in playing tourist, taking the time to stop and smell the rot in Sindragosa’s lair. For a place featuring an All You Can Eat buffet, ew. Dragon bits and bits and bits!

At a time when my thoughts should be turning to catching up with Guardian Druid gear plans, talent specs, ability synergy and active mitigation to tank a progressive raid group, I find myself instead already looking forward to when I can look back, and form cross-server reader raid groups to take down Bastian of Twilight and Firelands, to smile at the dragons and admire the electricity sparking down Onyxias’ side.

I am not prepared… but that’s okay. We gonna have us some fun!

A Farewell to Armed Bears

I woke up this morning to the farewell to WoW post shared by Precious and Soft.

There is so much to value in her post, so much to think over, but one thing I felt moved to talk about the most was her “fuck you” to asshats she has known and loathed over the years in her random groups.

In speaking of player actions that draw fire in a group, Kelly broke it down into two different categories; those who take a little longer than YOU think is right to act, and those people who don’t bother to do anything at all, up to and including just standing there in the fire.

I’ve talked about this before, and I’m sure at this point I’m speaking to an audience that won’t benefit by my saying it again. The people who need it the most wouldn’t get anything out of it, because it’s not a skill issue, it’s a respect issue.

I won’t let that hold me back, if I never repeated myself here then I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

So, you make a mistake. I make a mistake. In game, in life, at work, whatever.

So what? Mistakes happen. To EVERYONE.

Do you know the lesson I have learned from Raid Team Wanda in Band of Misfits, who have cleared all heroic modes for Dragon Soul AND Firelands?

I have learned that while they are skilled and reliable players, their biggest asset is they don’t give up. They try, and try, and try again, learning from each go, trying to make the next one just a little bit better.

Of course everyone makes mistakes. The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who never try.

If someone is trying, trying to play their class, do their part, contribute to the victory of the team, then awesome.

Is it frustrating to fail? Hell yes it is. Oh my god, yes. I’ll talk about last night’s Firelands raid in a minute, because it ties directly into that.

The important thing is, if you are trying and trying and not succeeding, it gets frustrating and miserable. Everyone loves victory, nobody loves wallowing in defeat.

You can find some joy in taking on the extremely difficult challenges and seeing success in incremental improvements. You may have failed to down the impossble boss, but did you get closer to phase two? Did you grab that add that sometimes slips out of your grasp, did you move out of the fire right on time rather than just by the skin of your teeth like the last four times? Those can be victories, and feel like it.

I get what Precious and Soft is saying, there are lots of people who can’t stand anybody doing things other than how they have it stuck in their head is the ‘right’ way.

There are plenty of others who will simply go off on you even if you ARE being perfect, just to be assholes. No, really, there are people that will tee off on you even if you are freaking flawless. I suspect there are some that just have a really bad day, are in a bad mood, and decide this is the moment to make someone else just as miserable as they are. Cynical, but that’s me.

It’s bullshit, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it happens, those people are out there.

I have my own hot button, and it falls on the other side of the action divide. When I think someone else is taking action to hurt the group intentionally, I get really pissed.

I actually enjoy working with people fresh and new to content and working it through together, or with people that want to get through something as a group. People engaging in active sabotage or trolling of groups, trying to make other people fail? Oh, that pisses me off. I am SO troll bait for that.

Even when it doesn’t hurt anyone else to the extent of a wipe, if I see someone I think is trying to screw over other people even when it hurts their own chances at success, I start looking for ways to block them or cause them to fail.

Here is a fine example.

In the Dragon Soul raid, the very first boss, Morchok, has a mechanic that affects a group of ranged players. A Resonating Crystal forms somewhere on the field, and lines of color shoot out from the crystal to link to 7 ranged players. After a short interval, that crystal will explode, causing Shadow Damage shared among all the players affected. The mechanic is, if you are linked, you are supposed to run towards the crystal, until you stand on top of it. Why? The further away each affected player is from the crystal, the more Shadow Damage everyone linked to the crystal will share.

So, if you have a line of color come from the Resonating Crystal to touch you, then all you have to do to reduce the damage all 7 of you will take is run closer to the crystal. You don’t have to make it all the way, you don’t have to ALL stand on it or it fails, just try to run closer. Each and every affected person who manages to run even a little bit closer to the crystal will reduce the damage everyone will suffer, damage that healers have to heal through.

Time and again, I’ve seen the Resonating Crystal form, and time and again there are always people who ignore it. Just blatantly ignore moving from it, and even from the Black Blood.

I don’t get irritated at that shit because it’s going to cause a wipe. The Shadowson Annoyance Test; did you wipe? No? Well, not so bad then in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t get upset because I have to click another heal, either. That’s what I’m there for, and healing LFR DS is a trivial exercise.

I do get upset because it shows someone who is playing a multiplayer game with other people who doesn’t want to do their part for the group as a whole to succeed.

But maybe they don’t know to run toward the Crystal? I know that you can see other people with the color line running to it, but some folks could be tunneling in on the DPS rotation, trying not to get called out by some asshat for having DPS too low, and so aren’t running. or maybe someone sinmply missed seeing the color line in a graphics lagfest sludge slideshow. Some fights cause gaphics cards to churn, and at times like that, all you can do is shoot and pray. I know I used to have issues in Ultraxion when all the twilight effects kicked in.

Maybe a million things. Who am I to say?

But if you watch, and you’re as cranky as I am, sometimes you can see that one person that, even if they are only 15 feet from the damn Crystal and is a healer and everyone is at full, would rather Wand DPS than walk a few steps. 

Even then, I don’t assume. I ask them, politely, if they knew that the Resonating Crystal did less damage if the linked folks all moved closer to it before it blew up. See, I try not to accuse, or to put someone on the defensive, but to follow Aunaka’s ideas on gentle advice.

I try.

If I get incredible, vile offensive shit spewed back at me? Well, there we go. 

I’ve had this a few times, but my favorite time, and one of the best reasons to play a Priest, was when I had one reply to me that he wanted to cause the rest of the group as much pain as possible, and fuck me too. I proceeded to use Leap of faith on him the very next time the Crystal was up to pull him in while he wasn’t moving.

The INSANE frothing at the mouth nutmonkey rantings he erupted with in raid chat brought so much joy to my heart I thought I was going to piss my pants laughing.

He was so enraged at being forced against his will to not screw the group for that one moment out of the entire run, I didn’t even have to Leap of Faith him again. The simple fact that I could and did force him to the Crystal blew his cool all over the place, and he couldn’t recover. He just lost it on raid chat until the group booted him. 

In my mind, the unforgivable sin in joining together to do group content is to try and screw the rest of the group intentionally. That kind of griefing should allow you to do a /ignore-account on that person, so you never have to see them again. Ever. Cross-server wide. Just block them from ever being in your groups or in your communications, ever again.

I want to focus my time on playing with people who enjoy working together, not with people who hate other people.

Last night, our guild had another Firelands run to further Pumpkens’ progression on the legendary staff.

Once again, we failed to kill Ragnaros.

They tried their best, and I tried my best, and each time we took a run at the boss I believe we did better and moved smoother. The last try we had Ragnaros to 42% and were holding so as not to push the next phase before splitting hammer was done.

It could have felt very satisfying to come closer each time, except for two things; the majority of the group were experienced hard mode raiders who killed Ragnaros on heroic, so this wasn’t shit to them. And we were under time constraints to be done before it was past Alex’s bedtime.

We kept failing, in small part because I wasn’t an experienced Firelands raider on Ragnaros, but in large part because I kept having serious problems picking up the closest adds to the splitting hammer and stopping them in time.

it wasn’t a knowledge issue, I knew what to do, I just had trouble translating that into doing it. I failed to perform.

I was, if not THE point source of failure, one hell of a major contributor, and I was getting very upset with myself over it. An entire group is trying to feel that moment of success, and I was preventing them from getting it.

Wanting it isn’t enough. Trying isn’t enough. You have to do it, and do it right, and be able to nail those transitions. If you are going to have the time to keep getting better until you reach that victory, then it’s not so bad. If you only have a shot or two befire it’s quitting time, oh holy crap.

When everyone is counting on everyone else to do their best, and YOU are the one that is letting the team down, it feels like shit.

In a perfect world, everyone could start fresh together on new content, learn it together, make mistakes together. it’s hard to feel like the outcast moron when other people are making silly learning mistakes too.

When everyone else is the old, experienced hand and you are trying to learn everything and master it in the first shot… it doesn’t matter if logically you know shit happens. Emotionally, you’re letting down the team, and it sucks, and you feel like  failure.

How much worse would it be, at that moment, where you feel like a worthless shit already because you keep making small mistakes or aren’t reacting quite fast enough, and then some cockbite starts in calling you what you’re already, in your head, calling yourself?

The TL;DR version would be the same old tired shit we’ve all heard. Everyone makes msitakes, yes even you, so stop being an asshat to anyone that isn’t doing it the way you think they should, because who died and made you the Lord of all creation?

But if you want to screw other people over in groups, don’t be surprised if someone else is going to get up in your case and try to figure out how to really annoy the piss out of you.

If you find those two statements contradictory… yep, they are.

THAT’S the biggest problem. Who can really, 100% be absolutely sure that what you’re seeing is learning curves instead of active sabotage? Isn’t it better to never say anything, ever, so as not to be the one that adds incredible hurt to an already overloaded stressful situation?

But then, if you do… I really do believe that assholes should be opposed. Always.

It’s a judgment call. I know I want to be damn careful not to mistakes confusing someone trying and having problems with someone actively being a seditious dillweed.

To me, that means it can only be the most obvious, blatant, “are you kidding me wtf” forms of asshattery that I respond to. I’d much rather err on the side of kindness than cruelty. Even that one person on Morchok, I whispered them in a non-aggressive way first, and only unleashed the Grip of Flail when they started swearing vile crap at me.

I  also won’t just let everything slide. Is it a failing? If it doesn’t do any good, it’s just drama right? I don’t know, but I do know that it feels real good to see someone trying to hurt other people, and helping to be the instrument that turns the tables on them.

That means I am arrogant enough to take it on myself to mete out rough adn ready street justice to LFG offenders, and looked at honestly, that makes me an asshat too. 

The real solution to all this?

The only way to win is not to play the game.

No wait, I kid.

No, the only real way to take all this kind of stress off and get away from it is to form friendships and only play with people you trust. people you truly trust to not laugh at you, screw you over, or even worse, act like they are oh so superior to you and pity you.

That’s the rub, right? To go away from the current trend of finding fast, easy and impersonal groups with strangers, and try to form groups with people you really get to know and feel you can trust.

If you can’t find a full group of people you trust who want to play with you because they really do like you and want to hang with you and do crazy shit with you first and foremost…

Well, I guess we see what the solution is from Precious and Soft, and the World of Warcraft community will be poorer with her moving on.

But Warcraft’s loss is craftings gain! Have you SEEN her Craftypodes site?

WTF is with all these Emerald Dragonfails!

I know I haven’t been writing about tanking or even Bear tanking for a bit, but still.

Tanking 101.

Healer aggro, and the counteracting thereof.

Also to be known as “Keep your healer alive, you idiot!”

Look, from the heroic runs I’ve gone on, it’s clear that the old arrogant tank days of Wrath of the Lich King heroics are coming back.

Fine.

There is a simple formula that even the most arrogant tank has to recognize.

Your modern tank has high health and many mitigation/avoidance cooldowns. May even have self-heals. Way to go, tools in the toolbox, AoE threat, very nice, very nice. If everyone else dies, you can survive in some cases for minutes, all by yourself.

All by yourself…

Fine. Goodie for you, Tankie McTanknspank.

The reality is, if your healer dies, no matter how good you are, you are on your own. If there is any bobble in your boogie, any swivel in your sidestep, down your ass goes. And cooldowns eventually do JUST THAT.

The formula is really dead simple; any heals, even bad heals, are better than NO heals.

Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it.

End Time is an interesting instance.

Much like Bubba Gump, you never know what you’re gonna get. Spin the Wheel and see what the boss-o-rama has in store for us this time.

I’ve got my favorites, and I’ve got my flat-out “damnit not again!” bosses.

Sylvanis? I love seeing her. So long as the DPS all focus on the same target and everyone gets out of the bad, piece of cake. No random deathfail involved.

In fact, I love seeing all of them on the basis of their mechanics, although the extra trash on Jaina is annoying. Group after group after group ignores DPSing the lightwells, and it pisses me off.

How hard is it after all these years to internalize the concept “Kill the healer AND their healing toys”? Especially those lightwells. Look, when you see an enemy lightwell, just think of it as a totem. Or a cockroach. And then STEP ON IT!

But despite that, yes, I like them all.

Except the Emerald Dragonshrine, and the Echo of Tyrande encounter.

As the healer, I hate it. I hate it with a white hot passion that could re-ignite failed stars, and a fathomless depth that could crush a liquid-filled diving suit.

As a tank, I love it. It’s a piece of cake.

As a Bear tank, Emerald Dragontrash* is a joy. I put a star on my head, I tell everyone to stay on top of me, and I use my AoE Swipe and other threat generating abilities as I run from circle to circle, my Threat Plates showing me who I’ve got aggro on and who might need a Growl or other form of special attention.

Big Bear’s home for wayward mobs, I gather ’em in, make sure they’re all well taken care of.

If someone runs off and their role is DPS, well, screw them. I told them what to do, I put a star on my head so I stand out in a crowd, my big bear butt is the only huge fuzzy posterior in the domicile… get with the program or die, all the same to me.

But the healer… if the healer slows down, perhaps to drop a long cast-time heal on someone, I stop with them and keep mobs off their back.

That is my job as a tank. I take the hits because I’m the only one specifically designed to take the hits in the group.

I am not super hard to hurt because I’m a better class than everyone else. I’m tough because my class and spec as a tank were specifically coded to make me tough, and the gear designed for me enhances those traits. And I go ahead and wear that gear rather than the pretty cloth dress that goes with my fur.

If I intercept bad guys about to munch on a healer and take the hit in their stead, I am not lowering myself to save the lazy healer who should be healing themselves through it on their own… I am doing my job as intended.

Tanking 101. If the healer dies, we’re ALL screwed.

If you are a tank, you are assuming the role of defender of the innocent, protector of the squishy, and general meat shield about town. You get gobsmacked and abused because you like it, you eat the pain like candy.

And you’re durable. You’ve got to be durable.

But you don’t do enough DPS to down multi-million health bosses on your own, and you may keep yourself alive for a few minutes, but you do exactly squat to keep the entire group of DPS with you alive as well.

Famous last stands using your survivability and mitigation to eke out a win only work if the whole party already whittled the boss down to vapors in the drain.

As a healer, time after time, I see Emerald Dragonshrine, and I follow the same process in an attempt to stave off the inevitable.

I buff. I eat. I mark the tank with a pretty star. I follow the tank, I stand on top of the tank, and as we run from circle to circle I do the bare minimum healing I can get away with in an attempt to minimize healer aggro. I even Fade.

I stand on top of the tank in the desperate hope that when mobs come charging in, the tank will drop a single AoE of something. Anything. And not a “I hit a mob, whee!” attack but an actual honest-to-goodness threat generating attack that pulls stuff off, oh, I dunno, the healer.

But no.

Time after time, I end up getting eaten as we cross the river to the second to the last puddle of light.

Time after time I am reduced to Fade, and then to chain-casting heals on myself as an ever-increasing menagerie of cats and riders masticate my meager manhood, and then, well… I fucking die is what I do.

I die while the tank is obliviously single-target attacking, or, more often, running on to the next circle because hey, yo, there’s a light over at the frankenstein place, let’s go quick to the lab and see what’s on the slab, oh boy, oh boy.

What did I forget? I’m forgetting something. Oh, right, the healer!

It has been a long time since I went over how healer threat works, so perhaps the fault lies not in willful disregard, but instead on an ignorance of underlying principles.

It’s been a while since I wrote a guide, so I may be a bit rusty, but I’m going to give this a shot for old times sake.

*ahem*

AGGRO and THREAT

When you as a tank run up to something close enough, it knows you’re there. It becomes aware of you. If it’s naturally cranky, it’ll try and take a bite out of you just because it doesn’t like your looks.

BUT… until you actually HIT it, you haven’t caused any direct threat to it.

Now, any other mob that it was tied to becomes aware of you as soon as the first mob did. They’ll all come running after you, too.

But here is the trick.

Say that first mob ran up to you, and you smacked it in the mouth. Okay, that mob is pissed at you. It will continue to fight you. If you are the tank, then you do lots more threat than anyone else in your group, so that mob, we’ll call him Frank, he’s gonna stay right on you like a tick on a hound.

Frank’s friends, on the other hand, maybe they didn’t really like Frank all that much anyway. Maybe Frank took them all for big money at the weekly mob poker game the night before, and they really don’t mind seeing ol’ Frankie take a reaming from your tank.

Those other mobs, so long as nobody did direct damage to any of them, sure they will run to the tank and hit ’em, but their hearts aren’t really in it.

They have not had ANY actual threat generated on them yet. They’re hitting on you, the tank, just because. You are the mountain, and you are there to be climbed for shits and grins.

Ah ah ah! BUT, as soon as anyone else hits them, anyone at all, those that got hit will peel off and go after the smartass son-of-a-bitch that just tagged them in the butt.

Now the tank, as we said, inherently does a lot more threat than anyone else. It is super easy for the tank to get that mob’s attention back. A quick change of targets, a growled “Yer mother is so fat she’s a world boss for two continents. Both at the same time.” And back it comes running.

Simple? Easy?

If you hit it, you generate threat. If you don’t actually hit it, then you don’t actually cause any threat, and it’ll go running off to whoever gets there the firstest with the mostest.

The key here is mob awareness. You might think you’ve got the attention of every mob, because they’re all on you at the moment. But if you are only doing damage to one of them, all the others are only pounding on you out of solidarity. Power to the people!

They’re a fickle bunch. They’ll go charging after anyone else that does damage to them first.

But they only go after who they are aware of.

This gets to the heart of what healer aggro really is.

A single mob only knows who the mob sees, knows who hits them… or who his FRIENDS see.

As soon as any member of the group does some damage, casts a buff, HEALS SOMEONE THE MOBS SEE, etc, then the person doing the healing or damage or buffing gets noticed. By ALL the mobs at once.

Damage done generates threat. Simple enough. If I no shootie, then I no cause threatie.

Ah, but what about healing?

Healing done also causes threat.

If you heal someone, it is the same as if you just did damage to every single mob that knows about the person you healed. All of them.

Now, it’s not as much threat as if you did direct damage t all of those punks. The mobs don’t look at each other and say, “Shit, that hurt, lets go git ’em.”

No, the threat your heals cause would be the same as the equivalent amount of damage divided amongst all the mobs that are now aware of you.

So, if the tank is doing proper AoE on a huge group, and you are chain healing the tank, the tank is doing TONS o’ threat to each and every mob, and your single target threat is spread out among them all… in itty-bitty bits. You’ll never pull aggro.

But… what if the tank doesn’t do any damage to the group? What if he’s just smacking one mob all by it’s lonesome?

What if… let’s just run a hypothetical here.

What if there were 8 mobs all running in from all sides, the tank hit only one of them, and the healer then cast a heal on the tank?

The mobs come running in, see the tank, and the tank hits one. They all go for the tank.

The healer casts a heal on the tank, the mobs now ALL see the healer because you healed the tank, and your heals on the tank caused actual points of threat on every single mob, and all those mobs that were only aware of the tank but hadn’t actually been hit? They peel off the tank and come running right for YOU.

And as 7 mobs begin whaling away on you, you heal yourself, doing more threat to all of them, and then more, and more, until you’re glowing like the sun trying to survive, other DPS try to pick them off of you but they do straight DPS and threat, not the magnified threat of a tank so they can’t pull off your supernova of healing threat generation (because your threat is incremental, it just keeps adding onto the threat value before so long as the mob is alive, growing and growing with each heal), and the tank, your only hope of pulling the group off of you…

He’s in monte carlo drinking a daiquiri.

Now let’s go on to case two.

Say you have a group of bad guys come in, the tank DOES do AoE threat to all of them, and most of those mobs are burnt down.

Just one or two mobs remain, they’re almost dead, and the pool of light you’re standing in winks out.

The tank decides to run straight for the next pool, and everyone follows. It’s not a big deal, he has aggro on those mobs, so they’ll chase him. You’re fine.

As the next group of mobs comes running in, they meet the ones chasing the tank, and while running along, they compare notes.

The old mobs tell the new ones about this asshole tank up ahead… but the tank has one of your HoTs on him, and thanks to the old mobs, the new ones become aware of the tank, and of YOU. And guess what? You’re the only one generating actual threat as each tick of your HoT heals for another point of damage.

So instead of running after the tank, all those new mobs run after… yep, you guessed it.

This is basic healer aggro. These are the fundamentals that every healer and tank should understand.

If a healer heals any target that mobs are aware of, the mobs then become aware of the healer and the healer causes actual threat to them. Unless the tank or someone else does something, the healer WILL pull aggro.

Just running from circle to circle, doing nothing at all to any mob until you reach a circle, doesn’t cut it.

Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe this is all pretty behind the scenes kind of stuff, and it’s not easy to find or understand how it all works.

I know not everyone spends time wondering and testing how the game rules actually function by forming groups and trying this stuff out.

“Okay, now I’m going to pull this group, and then hit just one mob with auto-attack. You see if you can eat that Pine Nut Bread.”

“Okay, now try and mount.”

“Okay, now buff me with Fort. OOPS! Okay, there they all go after you, Fort pulls aggro. Mark it down and burn ’em out, next group up!”

I dunno.

What I do know is, I died three times today out of five End Time runs that all netted me Emerald Dragonfail.

A fourth time, I simply managed to heal and Fade enough to survive eating the entire pack of mobs. Tank was oblivious.

The fifth time? Tank did it up RIGHT. I never even took a hit.

One in five tried to keep me alive. That’s just embarrassing.

All that being said, it’s still fun as hell being a Holy Priest. I’m part of Team Snuffy now, and we did normal Dragon Soul this evening. I had a blast, we managed to kill Deathwing and everything, and I got my Destroyers End title as a healing Holy Priest. It felt great.

It just gets frustrating sometimes. Yes, powerful gear is great, it eases many things, but just because someone put together a really powerful tanking set and followed a recommended spec from a website doesn’t mean they can tank. It’s not about the gear, it’s about understanding how to put that gear to good use.

I’d rather run with an undergeared tank that knew what they were doing or TRIED to do it up right any day of the week. At least then, while I’m chain healing them, the mobs wouldn’t be nibbling on my damn face!