Tales from the LFG Tavern

Bellwether wrote a post this morning, lamenting the degradation of her Paladin as a healer, rather than the massive DPS machine she originally envisioned, and for which she yet yearns to become.

I love being inspired by other bloggers. :)

So, there I am on my Paladin.

I’ve done a faction transfer, and my previously short and stout dwarf Paladin has been stretched, bleached, waxed (damn, that hurt… no, really, when you wax a dwarf, it’s a whole blody experience) and hair gel applied with a trowel.

Ta da!!! Instant Blood Elf Paladin, just add money.

I look around, I’m level 80, and I see this wonderful new world of anonymity opening up before me.

“Nobody knows me here”, I think, “I’m free to be as disgustingly rude and asshattish as I want, and nobody will know. Let loose the hounds of Gabriel and put the internet fuckwad theory to full display!”

And then I go ahead and act the same as always, because that’s just who I am.

But I could’ve done it! I had the choice! Freedom to be a jackass was within my grasp!

Okay, I know, many would say I already am one. Let’s move on.

As I was saying, there I am, level 80. I brought some money over with me, I was maxed level Engineering with my Goggles, I’d bought some crafted kickass epics, it was all good.

I started doing the Argent Tournament dailies, and worked my way to a nice epic weapon.

But on this brave new faction, all alone, where do I turn for fun? Where do I look for a little action? Sadly, Crapgame plays high stakes. I need some penny ante stuff to get my feet wet.

I know! The LFG tool!

I’ll just park my happy butt in there as a DPS Paladin, and wait for some normal group to form and off I’ll go to do some normal runs, get some blues. From there, why, someday heroics and Emblem rewards await!




Hmm, that Peggle addon is pretty cool, huh?

Wow, I’ve farmed HOW MUCH ore?

Damn, Saronite ore only goes for 10 gold a stack. Wassup with that?

Hmm, might as well go look for the Jeeves recipe.

Okay, got the recipe, might as well start farming mats.

I *AM* still in the LFG channel, right?

Okay, fine, whatever. Let’s go do BRD and get the recipe for the old skool freakazoid robot.

Hmmm, gonna need some Thorium. Off to Sillythis!

What, did I forget my underarm deoderant today?

Yes, still in channel. Browse channels, a whole crapton of DPS in there. Oh wait, theres a tank. Aaaaannnnnddd…. poof, he’s gone. Oh, there’s a healer… oh wait, there he went.


Okay, got all the thorium I could ever want… holy crap, that sells for HOW MUCH?

Back to Sillythis!


Woot! An unsolicited invite to group, without a whisper first! They DO love me!

/join party

Hmmm… a Warlock, a Hunter, and me.

“Can you tank or are you heals?”

Ummm… I’m a Ret Pally tallywhacker, said so in my LFG comment.

“You have been removed from group.”

Oh, come on!


I’ll go research tanking. Maybe I can get some tips and guides, get a spec, figure out some achievable quest and crafted gear and sign up as a tank for a normal run.

/time passes… slowly….

Okay! I have enough gear to adequately tank regular runs. Not heroics, but I could handle Nexus or Utgardt Keep. Let’s go!

[open LFG]

[sign up for normal Nexus… as a tank]

.0342 seconds later… “You have been invited to join a group”


So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?

Three DPS and me… waiting for healer.



“I’ll just be farming some Thorium until we get a healer.”

30 minutes later… people vamoose.


Eventually, groups form. Runs happen. 

I build up a reasonable DPS Retadin set for heroics. And some tanky stuff, too, of course.

Finally! Let’s get back to the real fun! Tallywhacker HO!!!!

/join LFG for heroic as DPS!


Oh, are you fricken kidding me?

[opens LFG]

Sure enough, a gabillion DPS, no healers or tanks.

A group forms.

A healer and two DPS.

I get invited.

And there we sit. And sit. Periodically, we all check in LFG and in /General and /LFG and /Trade for a tank, any heroic.

The plea goes out in party chat.

“Doesn’t ANYONE know a tank?”


I cannot believe I’m going to do this. This sucks. I don’t want to do this. But I could tank, and I’m not volunteering, and everybody is just sitting and waiting… and I’m being stubborn and not volunteering, and so I’m preventing other people from having fun because I didn’t want to tank…


“I can tank. But my gear is not suited to heroics. It’s at the normal instance run level. Really, I’m not being modest. I’m squishy. We would all die a horrible, violent death if I tank. Really. BUT… if you are all willing to take a chance, and be patient, and watch your threat, and IF the healer is an amazing rockstar healing GOD, maybe we can get through…. Nexus.”

Healer: “Oh, I can keep you alive, no problem, let’s go.”

One miserable freaking pug later, endless wipes, everyone pulls aggro by exploding their DPS instantly…

“Arrghhh! Why? Why did I do that to myself? That sucked! I’m not ready, damnit! And I’m not liking it!”

Fast forward to many pugs, fit in here or there over the course of a week.

Fine. There we go. Since all I’m doing is pugging, all my Emblems are spent on tanking stuff. I’ve done everything I can to prepare my tanking stuff for heroics. I’m ready to go.

Wait, what? What the hell am I doing? I don’t LIKE tanking for pugs! These people are idiots. They just pull, pull, pull! Oh, is there a bad guy? UNLOAD HELLFIRE!!! Hey, Paladin, why can’t you hold aggro? I only have 6K+ DPS!! You loser noob!

I want to swing a big hammer and have fun! If I wanted stress and bullshit, I’d pug on my Druid some more!

This ain’t fun.

/retire toon.


Is my Paladin gone forever?


What is my Paladin waiting for?

The new LFG tool, that’s what.

I anticipate that with the new LFG tool, people are going to want to reap the benefits of using the “add a random person to form a group using LFG.”

But are most people going to want to just throw caution to the winds and form totally random groups?

No, I don’t think so.

I think most folks are control freaks. They want a sure thing. They want a known tank. They want a known healer.

But DPS… everybody discounts DPS. DPS are treated exactly the same way upper management and suits with no experience in the real world treat skilled machine operators and technicians… as monkeys.

As in, “Any monkey can pull a switch or hit a button, if we lose a lot of people, just hire in some more temps. It’s us important people in upper management that make the difference.”

To paraphrase the Rutger Hauer movie Blind Justice… “The business world is filled with suits with arrogant attitudes… and failed businesses.” 

Well, the WoW world is full of tanks and healers that think any monkey can faceroll a keyboard and generate 3K+ DPS.

So, I think that a lot of healer/tank combos are going to want to take advantage of LFG to get the extra rewards by adding random people… you guessed it, DPS.

It seems silly, but I really do think that the new LFG is going to mean I might be able to get some pugs in on my Paladin, as the spec I actually WANT to play.

And when that day dawns, my tallywhacker is going to come out of hiding, and have a blast.

Sure, it’s not TotGC25, but that’s not what I want to do anyway.

I’d just like to be able to sign up for the role I’d like to play, and not feel pressured to HAVE to tank in order to get in a group, or to offer myself up AS a tank to make a group happen.

Time will tell, time will tell.

Of course, the true moral of the story is; don’t pug, just run with your friends.

But if I only run with friends, how will I get these wonderfully vicious stories of asshats in pugs? Huh? I ask you!

Anyone can be a noob at times!

You’re gonna love this.

I like to think that I’m careful… that I arm myself with that most powerful of weapons before taking planned action.

No, not a Holy Hand Grenade, I’m talking about information.

I research. I study the how and the who and the what, but I place prime importance on the why.

When I set out to tank as a Paladin, I went out and looked for resources. I was already armed with a fundamental understanding of Defense and Weapon Skill and how group threat works and all that kind of jazz. It was the nuts and bolts of Paladin threat mechanics I needed to complete the picture.


Well, it turns out that all the research in the world ain’t gonna help you if you’re a dumbass.

Now, that may seem harsh.

Hold judgment for a moment here, shall we?

(See what I did dere?)

See, I worked with Cassie, and it is work, on a brand new initiative Sidhe Devils is launching to bring fun for all levels back to the forefront.

Doing that, plus work, plus real life, meant zip time for, well, you know… playing.

I had about an hour last night, and then off to bed.

I figure, an hour… maybe, just possibly, I can pop into hordieland and pug a Coren Direbrew gankfest for the crit trinket, or maybe pug a regular ToC and see if my tanking pants finally drop.

Something quick.

I entered LFG as a DPS with interest in regular ToC, and then checked out my gear.

Looking pretty good, looking pretty fine.


Why the hell on the second of the two heroics I ran, Utgardt Keep, did I keep having people pulling off of me?

I ran a Heroic ToC as tank and we kicked ass… and an hour later, I went in as tank with a different crew in Heroic Utgardt Keep and it was damn near a wipefest. I was working my butt off holding aggro, and I have to say, at the end of it I was doing okay, but it felt pretty shaky. Holding aggro with two well geared Warlocks and a Ret Pally was very, very hard for me.


Clearly, grasshopper, you’re doing something wrong.

Rotations? Check.

All those other things like the single target taunt, multiple target taunt off a team member, Avengers Shield, all that jazz? Check.

Mana stuffs? Check.

Heck, using Ret Aura instead of Devotion? Check, even.

Hmm, damn, does my gear suck that bad? It’s almost all epics!

No, shoot, it looks great to me.

I must just seriously suck.

At that point, I get an invite for a regular ToC. “Can you tank?”


Oh what the heck.


I then take another glance at my gear, and notice that I DO have my new dodge rating trinket from Coren Direbrew equipped, but I DON’T have the “on use” function mapped to a macro yet.

I decide to hook it to Consecrate (since I flip between different Judgments), so it goes off whenever it’s off cooldown when I use Consecrate, and when is there going to be a time when I don’t want to use Consecrate?

And as I do so, I do the normal lazy man’s macro method.

I copy a previous “on use” macro tied to a spell, something from my Priest I think, and then clear out the name of the old item, open my inventory paperdoll and click the item to have it’s name automatically entered into the macro, then clear out the name of my old spell, and open my spellbook to click on the spell and have THAT name automatically entered in.

As I leaf through my spellbook, a certain jarring note of discordance tingles in my mind.

The spell I moused over on my button bar was Consecrate Rank 4…

The one in my spellbook goes up to, like, 8 or 9.

Wait, what?

Oh no.

Oh no freaking way.

I start mousing over the spells on my button bar for my tanking spec, and comparing them to the ones in my spellbook.

Wow, I must really rock, being able to almost hold threat using level 50 spells, huh?

Oh yeah, that’s right, baby.

Good old master Big Bear Butt went and tanked heroics in group without having the most current, within 30 levels, ranks of spells on his button bar.

A word to those of you who do not wish to be a dumbass like me.

If you dual spec very early, and you have a damage dealing leveling spec as your main, and an infrequently used spec like healing or tanking as your second (or a PvP spec as your second), and you do not ever actually DING on that second spec…

Your second spec’s button bars do NOT automatically update to the most recent spell like the active spec.

Now, why does this make me a dumbass?

Because I bloody well KNEW that!


But no, I went dual spec the first chance it was available on my Paladin, and I never, ever let the thought cross my mind that the spells I put on there were the same ranks as the day I started the spec.

Yep, changed things around, went through and updated, went in and tanked that regular ToC, and the group was so delighted that we went in and blew it apart a second time, in less time than it takes to eat a good waffle.

Had a crew with insane DPS  just trying for those rarely seen items like the Black Heart that never seems to drop, and we had no problems whatsoever.

I did get my new pants. :)

Seriously, that’s just lame.

Oh, and FYI before anyone mentions it… you do not need to have the spell rank listed in the macro, if you just use the spell name, it automatically casts the highest level one.

Just wow. Makes me glad I waited to dual spec my Druid until after I’d been 80 for 6 months. No chance I didn’t have the max level spells on that one.

That would have been really embarassing.

Not as embarassing as Mannyac on his Hunter, though.

I’ll never forget the day I was chatting with him about his then level 56 Hunter, back when there was no Burning Crusade, just vanilla WoW.

He was complaining about how hard it was for Kortenharig as Beastmaster to fight mobs without pulling aggro off his pet kitty.

I asked him if he’d gone out and tamed the critters with the highest rank of Claw so his pet was doing more damage. 

His response was, if I remember, something on the order of “There are different ranks of pet skills?”

He was still using his one and only pet, the kitty he tamed in Dun Morogh at level 10.

With level 10 skills.

Yeah, that makes me feel better every time.

A Bears' Eye View on Paladins

Recently, I’ve been spending some time developing my level 80 Paladin towards a dual spec of Retribution and Protection.

Along the way, I’ve made some observations that I wanted to share with you. For Paladins, these will come as no surprise. For Bears, this might bring you to a closer appreciation of your class.

Gearing a Protection Paladin for heroics, to be blunt, sucks.

If you do research, then you are told, up front, that it don’t matter how great any of the rest of your gear is, if you don’t hit 535 Defense for heroics, or 540 for raiding, then you are still crittable, and you suck.

Well, have fun getting there with quest rewards, because to reach that goal, you need gems. Big, fat expensive +Defense Rating gems. And guess what quest rewards mostly don’t have on them?


Best bet is to run as a different spec, like Ret, while someone else tanks, and you pick up heroic drops with sockets along the way.

Well, great. So what we’re really saying is, if you want to tank as a Paladin in heroics, someone else has to tank for you first. Blech.

Oh, there are certainly crafted items, but good lord….

For Bear tanks, all you do is make sure you’re fully specced in the talent Survival of the Fittest. You throw any old feral agility/stam gear on from leveling as a kitty, and boom, automatically uncrittable. Is your gear optimized for tanking? Of course not. Will it be perfectly feasible for tanking with a decent team? Yes, absolutely. No special stat requirements of any kind. If you’ve got gem slots or enchants, go with Agility or Stamina. There, done.

My hats are off to the Paladin tanks out there. God, did you get screwed.

I’m sure Warriors and Death Knights are in similar positions, but I don’t play either, so I never had it rubbed in my face before.

Another difference, is Paladins have tons of abilities, each having a special situational use. I’ve tried to get them all on my button bars layed out in fancy formats, and holy crap, that’s a lot of confusing shit. Practise of course improves reaction time in using just the right thing for the right situation, but when you’re tanking a pug of crazy people that attack anything that moves, it’s amazing watching the mobs run past you thinking, “Which shiny button among these dozens of buttons do I press?”

Bears, on the other hand, have single target Growl, and Challenging Roar. And if the target is being passively pulled from healing threat, ranged Feral Faerie Fire, or a good old Feral Charge.

Okay, not a good example, Bears do have lots of situational tools as well. I just know in my gut how to use ’em. Nevermind.

Anyway, I’ve been working on improving my Paladin as best I can in the hopes of doing some tanking and making a laughing stock of myself. After dinging 80 just barely a week ago, I’ve finally managed to get a set of gear that hit 540+ Defense.

It took spending a ton of money and time crafting gear, buying gems (or having them donated by a friend), and the complete and utter destruction of Icecrown in pursuit of a quest chain that led to my getting a main hand tanking weapon. A weapon that, of course, was immediately replaced by the Argent Tournament axe. /sigh.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the sources I found for information that made it possible for me to have any kind of tanking plan at all.

First, Honor’s Code.

Seriously, my single most referred to website during all of my researches was Honor’s Code. I may not have followed his suggestions and advice slavishly, because he is thinking towards raiding success and I just wanted to do the best as a 5 person group tank in heroics as I could, but for Paladin Tanking thoughtfulness, suggestions and resources, this is simply the awesomesauce.

In particular, not only is Honor’s Code excellent in his analysis, but he also presents information in a fashion that should be the standard for blogs that want to help out new players of a class wondering where the hell to start. I know that I’m going to use his style of Protadin 101 sticky as the basis for a new one on my site, because it did indeed give me one hell of a solid place to start from.

Second is Pink Raid Frames, for helping me understand some of the whys and wherefores, and making Protadin sound so much fun! The description and video Pink Raid Frames put together really helped me visualize the 969 rotation in a way that made it easy for me to learn what each ability did, and arange them so that I used them not only in the proper cooldown-efficient fashion, but also knew how to change up order of activation depending on what I most needed at the time, such as a Consecrate to hold threat instead of a Judgment at a critical initial moment of a pull.

Pink Raid Frames looks to be taking a break since Blizzcon… why does this always happen when I start grooving on the awesomeness of a blog?

Third would have to be Maintankadin… but not really in general, more the work of Petrus in particular. Petrus is a genius. I love his cut and dried ranking posts, sometimes you just want to know, no bullshit, what are my options? And damn, does he have an answer.

Petrus’ Gear List, even though it hasn’t been updated for a while, gives a solid place to look for what you could get and from where, and for the newer stuff, well, you should be able to look at the stats on what you’re curous about from Atlasloot or MMO Champion, and compare them to things on his list, and figure out where it would fall from there.

And his Gem and Enchant list… well, that’s just damn spiffy.

What I’ve ended up with, in the most general terms to start out, is the following setup for turning on tanking when switching from Retribution spec to Prot;

  1. Activate Devotion Aura
  2. Seal of Corruption (Blood Elf)
  3. Righteous Fury
  4. Blessing of Sanctuary
  5. Use Divine Aura at all times when off cooldown, work it into the rotation.

I setup the button bar for the 969 rotation, with the two ‘6″ second cooldowns on the left, Hammer of the Righteous (whack primary target plus 3 extra) and Shield of Righteousness (whack your main target with your shield). Needless to say, I generally pick Hammer for group threat first if I pulled a bunch of mobs.

Setup the button bar with the three “9” second cooldowns on the right. Holy Shield to provide boosted Block (and my first actual activated ability in the 969 sequence), and to deal Holy Damage per block while there are charges up, Judgment of Light or Mana depending on group, and Consecration for AoE threat.

The biggest thing, as I said, was knowing what to use, and when.

There are, as I said, tons of other situational abilities, but I’m slowly getting on top of them.

My biggest concern right now is mana. I stop and drink all the time, and I’ve run out of mana on long fights more than a few times.

So, how’s it been going?

Well, let me put it this way.

Last night, I main tanked my first ever heroic instance. It was also my first ever main tanked regular instance.

I main tanked Heroic Trial of Champions.

We had no issues until the last Black Knight phase, when three of the party died on the last phase from the damn AoE deathbolts from the ghostform. We still won, we just had three dead on the floor.

At the end, I felt wrung out. Usually, Bear tanking leaves me bouncing around and happy to go grab another tail to tweak. Tanking on my Paladin left me wanting a margarita and a nap.

Oh, and of course, I’d JUST equipped the crafted Titanium Earthguard Chain and put an epic gem in it, and lo and behold what should drop that I win but The Warlords Depravity.

Noth that I’m complaining, you understand. But still. That was an expensive upgrade, and I didn’t even get a chance to wear out that “New Upgrade” smell from the upholstery.

Wanna see the face of evil tankitude?


Ain’t he a handsome cuss?

Congratulations are in order, I think!

This very evening, I played in two heroics on my Druid.

We did Violet Hold, and Culling of Stratholme.

The healing in these two runs was simply awesome!

Oh, wait… you misunderstand.

*I* wasn’t healing.

Oh, no.

No, it was Cassie on her level 80 Paladin. :)

Her first time ever as a healer, and she healed my bear butt through two heroics back to back, and the gauntlet of Culling of Stratholme went flawlessly.

One thing you have to admit, Healers have the most intense trial by fire of any class.

As a DPS, you’re learning your role as you level. As a tank, you can still DPS well enough to go full on tanking solo on multiple mobs and see how well you survive and manage them.

As a Healer, you pretty much have to grab some suckers and convince them to let you try and keep them alive and see how it goes.

First time you develop and fiddle with your Healing skills is with an audience… a very captive, attentive audience.

You did wonderful, dear. Congratulations on kicking ass!

Or healing butt, as the case may be.

Bear offers Ret Pally advice, world ends, film at eleven

Yeah, yeah, I know. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.

I’m playing my Retribution Paladin alt, having fun, soloing in Borean Tundra lately.

Along the way, I came across something that I did not know, got irritated, figured out a quick solution, and then had the thought, “Maybe somewhere out there is another noob Ret Pally like me, and they could use this too.”

The situation?

The Retribution Paladin Talent “The Art of War”, when 2/2, increases the damage of your Judgement, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm abilities by 10% and when these abilities critically hit your next Flash of Light spell becomes instant cast.

Nice, right? Insta-cast self heal in the middle of a scrum, no interruptions.

On my interface, when one of these three activities crits, a little buff icon (with timer since I have the buff timer activated under Inerface Options) pops up showing The Art of War is active for 14 seconds, and of course during that 14 seconds, any single Flash of Light cast is instant, and consumes the buff.

The problem?

Fine and dandy, but on my interface, the only way to tell it’s live is by actively looking at my buff section, and trying to see if it’s popped up or not.

When you’ve got Replenishment popping up and down, auras for various trinkets going off and on, and, oh, I dunno… you’re in a stressful situation where you might actually NEED an instant cast Flash of Light, I personally find it a pain to try and keep an eye on the buff section and see if I can recognize The Art of War active up there before I take time to click the heal.

My solution?

Well, I use Scrolling Combat Text, have for years, and I love it dearly. It already has the functionality built in to display messages. It’s what it’s for.

It has, by default, many of the special moves various classes use already built in and active, and when a buff goes live or a special ability becomes active, it pops up a message letting you know it’s time to activate it.

The Art of War, for some reason, is not one of the defaults built in.

So, you can do what I did, and create a custom event to make The Art of War display.

Here’s how.

First, a simple screenshot of the settings I used in Scrolling Combat Text “Custom Events” to make it work.


And now, as I promised…

Film at eleven!