Guest Pass – Suckage by Design

So MrsBBB has played a bit this weekend. Instead of MrsBBB, we’re going to call her Cassie instead, since she has made two toons and seems to have chosen variations on that for her name….

The first person I see call her ‘Mamacass’ in game gets banned. 🙂

Oh, and wonder of wonders…. she chose a name with no goofy characters, no numbers, no ‘x’s, and it’s a good cool name…. and it hadn’t already been taken. Color me shocked.

Anyway, she played a priest up to level 8, and then let it slip that she wasn’t able to fight ‘face to face’ as well as she expected… her advisor had not really made it clear just HOW gimped a class is away from it’s normal role. Oops.

Allow me to give an example she used. In Kingdom Hearts, a PS2 game (and imo an excellent one), you have one main character, Sora. And you are given a choice early on to be a caster, a warrior or a defender, and your choice affected your playstyle strengths and weaknesses for the rest of the game.

Cassie had made the choice to be a caster, and when I described the different WoW classes to her, she made that comparison and decided she’d play a priest. She liked being able to heal herself while fighting.

The problem, of course, is that in Kingdom Hearts, the differences between a caster, warrior or defender is one of minute variations… no matter which you choose, you are still almost as good doing every role. Maybe a caster gets a teensy bit more mana. Or a warrior gets a couple more points of damage done. Not a noticeable difference unless you REALLY dig deep.

Anyway, she was having a lot of fun in the early levels where a viable strategy is to Smite from a distance to pull, then maybe get one more Smite in and then whack a mole with the mace. Cloth armor doesn’t make that big a deal.

In the first levels where stuff starts does make a difference, around 7 like when you are running to Jasperlode Mine and you’ll aggro two or three wolves at once, she started finding out that the strategy became ‘Bubble, Smite, Smite, bubble down, smite, bubble again, lesser heal, smite, etc, etc, etc’ and it got annoying that the mace was so puny. If she stuck with whacking them, it just didn’t make a dent.

So she stealth rerolled on me. 🙂

I have a level 6 gnome warlock that I had made a long time ago, intending it to be a level 19 pvp twink someday… until I realized that I just DO NOT have an interest in pvp. I figured it might be fun to run up to Stormwind and the Abbey, and start the same quests she is on and hang with her a bit… so I logged in on my system, took the tram and got to the Abbey, walked up to the first quest giver… and standing right in front of the quest giver is a brand spankin’ new level 1 rogue named Cassie-something or other…

I thought at first it was a funny coincidence… but for fun I /poked her and whispered “Are you sometimes known as MrsBBB?

I then ran upstairs, where I caught her online, looking back at my gnome. It WAS her! Sooooo busted. 🙂


She played her rogue, and I left her completely alone. She had mentioned that having a bunch of people hanging around waiting on her made her nervous, so I figured I’d just do quests, hang out in Goldshire, and if she needed help I’d be available, but otherwise, meh, she’d have more fun playing at her own pace… and if she wanted to pick-pocket kobolds for 2 hours, let her.

By the end of last night, she had reached level 8 almost 100% on her own, except for a little excursion into Fargodeep Mine. And along the way, many things came to light about Blizzards’ Guest Pass program that I thought it would be fun to point out here.

First though… I’d like to say that one of the coolest things I’ve seen is when she was level 3 and had the ‘Kill Garrick Padfoot’ quest. Padfoot is 5 and has an add that always pulls with him. I was over in the Vineyard doing Milly’s Harvest, and I sent her a group invite to ‘help’ her kill Padfoot.

When she accepted the invite, I looked at the map and saw she was already right on top of Padfoots’ location. I run that way just in time to see her stealthing away from Padfoots’ corpse… without saying anything to me, she had already figured out stealth, snuck over to him, killed him AND his add, and was stealthing her way back out again.

Now, that was cool. Try and remember back to your first day of WoW… I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck didn’t have that much on the ball at level 3.


Anyway, let’s talk about our old school first days of WoW…because when you have a Guest Pass, that is what you’re playing.

Do you remember you’re first character, the first day of playing? Did you nkow anyone else already? Or were you like I was, playing for the first time, not knowing anyone else on the server, broke and clueless, with the default bag, no money AT ALL, and no idea where anything is or how anything worked?


The purpose of a Guest Pass is to entice your non-playing friends to try the game, get hooked, and pony up the money for a subscription.

But on the other hand, Blizzard has had the hate of 8 million subscribers rain down on them for gold spamming and selling.

So what does Cassie get in a Guest Pass?

Well, first, she gets to choose from original game content. No Draenei for Alliance, no Blood Elves for Horde. Doesn’t matter that I have the expansion installed, the guest pass doesn’t recognize that. Okay, so Blizzard doesn’t want you using a free Guest Pass to play expansion starter level zones, I can see that. Of course, that means that if she gets hooked on her character, it means she is hooked on a character from pre-expansion that has the old quest lines to play, not the new ones that Blizzard themselves have admitted are more fun because they learned a lot from the mistakes they made in the original game.

Second, she cannot initiate a conversation with anyone that does not have her in their friends list.

Thats’ an interesting one. Obviously, Blizzard does not want someone creating a Guest Pass character, and using it to spam trade and general channels with gold ads. It has the interesting effect, however, of allowing her to add all of my long time friends’ characters to her friends list… but when they come online, she can’t tell them hello unless they see her first and initiate chat to her first. She also had problems not being able to chat in our personally created chat channel. No problem speaking in Party or Guild chat, though. Which explains the random group invites from player ‘sdounsej’ that I sometimes get in IF… someone trying to get me in party to spam some gold ads at me, I bet.

But let’s get to the meat and potatoes part of the pain.

Players on a Guest Pass CANNOT USE MAIL, TRADE SYSTEM, OR AUCTION HOUSE.

Think about that for a second, huh?

Blizzard has made absolutely certain that a Guest Pass CANNOT be used by gold sellers to move, trade, pass on or shuffle around gold or items with anyone else in any way.

But it has the effect of forcing someone that is brand new to this game, and tying it to see if it will be fun, to only ever have equipped what they themselves loot or buy from money received from loot.

Nor can such a person save some money from what they have looted, to go to the Auction house and buy an upgrade. They CANNOT use the Auction House.

Now, how many of you remember when you first started to play this game? For most of my readers, I imagine it’s been at least a year, more likely two. Maybe some, or even most, of you also started with Guest Passes.

But I didn’t remember just how insanely painful it is to watch someone play a new character, that you cannot give a bunch of 14 slot Runecloth Bags to so they can loot without running to town every 5 minutes.

Or how painful it is to watch a priest unable to buy a stack or two of lesser healing potions or mana potions from the AH for emergencies.


A good argument can be made that it makes her appreciate the rewards she gets on her own much more. That could be a fun conversation, right there. How much of your enjoyment comes from the value you place on the rewards you get from quests and dropped loot? Does having a ton of gold ‘given’ to you from a higher level alt or other friend make you appreciate your rewards less?

However, I’d like to point out that on a Guest Pass, the hope is that she likes the game so much she wants to go out and buy it to continue playing.

I’d suggest that it would be a smarter move to let, say, access to the Auction House for items useable by level 10 and under be permitted. Maybe with a ‘character can only buy’ lockout so buying/selling to make money can’t happen. It would keep the player having to kill on their own, but they could buy lowest level pots and gear.

It would open up a part of the game to a new player, the economy of the Auction House. I think the AH is addictive all by itself, and would be a big draw.

And let’s be honest… low level crafters would LOVE the added demand for their items on the AH. Make the level limit of items a Guest Pass could buy low enough that it doesn’t endanger twink gear, sure. Maybe level 12.

It is fun seeing my wife play. It is awesome seeing her play better than I did.

And it is frustrating seeing her swear at having only one bag and all white gear, when I have 2 Imbued Netherweave Bags, 4 Mooncloth Bags and 150 gold floating around waiting to descend on her to gear her rogue out.


I invite all of you to offer your suggestions to her on having fun as a rogue :).

Her only real play annoyance at the moment is getting used to moving with the mouse and keyboard. She never played computer first person shooters, so moving and looking around with WASD is foreign to her. She’s getting the hang of it, and loves using the number bar hot keys to trigger abilities, but she still has a few problems with the right-click mouse view causing the image on screen to tilt up and down wildly.

Since I’ve played FPS a long time and WASD is second nature to me, I have never looked at aternative movement options. Do any of you have suggestions on easier methods of moving around?

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What’s in a name?

A conversation with my wife, whom I shall call MrsBBB. This is a true story.

BBB: You know, having friends in WoW is wierd sometimes. I’ve known Tikky, Kemangi and Daak for a year and a half now, we’ve got our own yahoo group to chat in, we’ve got our own in game chat channel…. and yet I still don’t know their first names. They are Tikky, Kemangi and Daak.

MrsBBB: That’s because you’re a horrible person.

BBB: Well, I’m sure that’s a part of it, but I think the other part is that’s how I met them, that’s what I know them as, and that’s what we give a shout out to when we see each other. I wish I’d known at the time the name I chose for my first character would follow me forever… now I make all my alts start with Wind something so I don’t throw off my friends in chat.

MrsBBB: You are so not a Windshadow.

BBB: Hey, I’m a sad geek, I thought Windshadow sounded very cool for a night elf druid… I just got lucky that it’s something I like and makes a nice short nickname.

BBB: I swear, Blizz should warn you on the box cover, if you pick a name for your character, you better be darn sure you’re gonna be happy when everyone you meet shortens it to a nickname… I wonder if Melpo knew people were gonna call him Mel forever.

MrsBBB: Wind is a great name for you because you’re so long winded. And because you fart a lot.

BBB: ……

MrsBBB: If they knew you, they’d call you StinkyWind.

BBB: …… that is SO going on the blog.


Just for FYI, MrsBBB has, for the first time in the entire history of my playing this game, decided to try it for herself. We took one of my WoW Guest Passes, set up an account for her, and she created a Human Priest. She has so far reached level 5, and as I type this, she is upstairs running around looking for Milly’s Harvest.

She swears she hasn’t “Given in to the dark side” yet, but she seems to like this better than the sad examples of RPG games you get on the PS2 or Wii that she usually plays.

Wish her luck folks.

Why I do that thing I do

Kirk over at Priestly Endeavors posted something that kind of made me blink. Big Red Kitty has experienced something similar recently.

I’m talking about folks that read a blog post, or in BRK’s case an article, and respond in the comments something along the lines of “I read what you wrote, and I know more than you, and you did not tell me anything I wanted to know, and you are wrong, so you need to stop blogging or writing articles. You are stupid, your advice is stupid, so shut up and go away. kthxbye.”

lolwut?

[Pulls out soapbox, checks reinforcing braces, gets up on top and taps mike… “Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?”]

It’s okay, no need to fear a full on rant. I’ve been playing my hunter the last couple of days, so I’m in a mellow mood. Something about sending my ghost saber Moonclaw out to eat people is very relaxing.

I don’t know what other people may expect out of a blog. I myself do not go to blogs looking for ‘the answer’, expecting a professionally researched, flowcharted, powerpoint slide presentation on the minutia of level 70 end game hunter gear, in stepped progression and difficulty of obtainment, with sidebar notes on preferred enchants and gem, and a break down of AH prices by server.

Maybe some do. Maybe some folks actually expect that kind of thing from the blogs they visit.

I don’t. And you won’t find it here.

One of the most amazing things, something that just continously shocks the bleeding heck out of me, is the number of bloggers that DO put that level of professional research and preparation into their posts. And to you writers, I tell you true.. you are wonderful, and your efforts are highly appreciated and admired, your dedication and commitment to helping others is inspirational, and I wish you nothing but the fame and adulation that you deserve by your adoring fans.

But thats still not why I read your blogs, nor is it the level of effort that I expect you to make. It’s great, and I love it, but I am perfectly happy when you just come out and playfully share your day with me.

If any of the folks that I described above, the readers that expect and demand absolute perfection, complete and total accuracy and a professional presentation from every post have made it this far, then let me point out something your little ‘cult of entitlement’ mind might not have grasped yet.

My blog is not for you.

I don’t write this for abusive asshats looking for the secret powerleveling guide. Not at all. Not one single post is written with consideration for your needs, wants or desires.

As an aside, and of little actual importance to the discussion, but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, I was a Marine for a loooong time. Long enough for more than two enlistments, and we’ll leave it at that. Maybe that is why I am as cranky at this kind of attitude that is prevalent on the official WoW forums as I am. But I honestly do not believe that anyone or anything in this universe owes you, personally, a damn thing without any effort on your part being made to earn it. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I am not here to make money. This is not a business. You are not my customers. There is NOT a customer service help line at the end of aisle 3. I do have a commitment to provide the best, most entertaining, truthful and informative blog I can, but there is no money back guarantee.

What this is, is the outgrowth of my admiration of other bloggers’ writing and helpfulness and humor towards others. I have read and enjoyed other blogs, and I have thought of the other players of WoW, just like me, who sat at thier computer and wanted to share their knowledge, their stories, and their love of this game we play with others who may possess that same joy, but have no friends nearby or on the same server/guild to share it with.

I have seen the great work of other bloggers, and in my hubris decided that, whether or not I had anything of real value to share, I would still like to try and be a part.

Because the community I have seen here talks to each other, follows the joys and triumphs of each other with delight and congratulations, responds to the sorrow of failed boss battles or painful guild drama with words of encouragement and sympathy, and shares with each other our ideas, our knowledge, and our insights.

This community is here because it has grown from a few wonderful people who started sharing their knowledge, ideas and stories. They made a place that we like to visit. They have become friends whose opinions we come to value and respect, and whose stories we love to read.

And if they are at all like me, they do it because the reward that we get is to have the pleasure of meeting and talking to others that love this game, and the satisfaction of knowing we have helped at least one person find an answer to a question they might not even have known they wanted to ask. Most often, it may be a question that we had ourselves, and now that we have found an answer, we wish to share that discovery with our other WoW playing friends.

Every time I see a comment from someone that says that what they read here has helped them in some way, that pleases the heck out of me.

But the people who drop me a line just to tell me they enjoy reading the blog and wasting a few minutes each day having a laugh or two… those people are the whole reason why I’m here.

Please don’t come in here looking for an answer on something, and think that you are entitled to belittle the efforts of me or any other blogger, or to be abusive or nasty in the comments to anyone else.

This isn’t the WoW Offical Forums. If you know so much, and our ignorance or inaccuracy offends you so greatly, then instead of being an abusive, derisive asshat, I invite you to start your own blog, and set the rest of us straight.

For the rest of you, for the people that come to read for fun or for a quick answer, or who yourselves write about your own amazing experiences and lessons learned…

Thank you very much for sharing, and making this community a place where I want to be.

Druid tank starter gear at 70

The following is gear that you can begin to look for in the Auction House or receive as quest rewards that a casual player can focus his playtime on. Each one of these pieces is fairly easy to get, and yet they are each solid pieces of tanking gear that you may find yourself still using well into Karazhan.

If you look for these items as your starting gear, you should have no problem at all in reaching 22000+ armor, 12000+ health and 25%+ dodge unbuffed in dire bear form, which is solid karazhan beginning tank gear.


EDIT: Also, this list of gear should help you achieve Defense 415. With the talent Survival of the Fittest, you only need Defense Skill (not Defense Rating) of 415 to become uncrittable from level 73 Elite bosses, which is what Raid bosses in Burning Crusade are set to. Therefore, you must keep in mind that whatever gear you choose, it is one of your major concerns to achieve 415 Defense. When evaluating armor, remember that at level 70, 1 Defense Rating = .423 Defense Skill, or 2.36 Defense rating = 1 Defense Skill. So if you need another 5 points in your Defense Skill to hit 415, you need 11.8 Defense Rating added to your gear. And Defense Rating can be obtained from more than just stats on armor pieces. You can use many different gems, for example the Enduring Talasite, which adds +4 Defense Rating and +6 Stamina, or the Thick Dawnstone at +8 Defense. Also, there are Shoulder Enchants obtainable from Scryer or Aldor rep that you can apply that increase your Defense Rating. There is a nice Bracer enchant, Enchant Bracer – Major Defense, that provides +12 Defense. And if those don’t do it, the Flask of Fortification adds +10 Defense Rating for 2 hours. You must get your Defense Skill to 415 to seriously be a Bear Tank.


Two things to keep in mind. First, when a piece of gear has sockets for gems, you can put any kind of gem except a meta gem in those slots. The only benefit you receive from putting the correct color gem in a socket is the ‘socket bonus’, which often is not worth the benefits you get from good gems. Remember;

Solid Star of Elune (+12 Stamina [Blue])
Delicate Living Ruby (+8 Agility [Red])
Shifting Nightseye (+4 Agility, +6 Stamina [Red/Blue])
Enduring Talasite (+6 Stamina, +4 Defense [Yellow/Blue])

are your best choices of AH gems.

Which you choose really depends on whether you want to boost your health, your dodge, or your defense against crits.

Another thing to keep in mind is your early choice of Aldor or Scryer as your faction in Shattrath. If there is a pattern or item from reputation that you just have to have, then that’s fine. Go with what you like. But keep in mind that each faction has it’s own unique quest chains, that provide rewards that the other faction does not have access to. And the Aldor Netherstorm quest chains have one of the best Leather shoulder pieces for early bear tanking available as a quest reward. If you haven’t made your choice yet, check out the quest rewards below and keep that in mind.


Two Handed Weapons

Braxxis Staff of Slumber
A random BOE world drop and equippable at level 64, it may surprise you to find out that, until you reach level 70 and exalted with the Cenarion Expedition, there is no finer bear tanking weapon. 550 armor, +39 Stamina and +234 AP in Cat or Bear form.

Earthwarden
The reason you work so hard to run every quest for Cenarion Expedition reputation, in Zangarmarsh and in Blades Edge Mountains, is to claw your way to exalted and get this two handed mace. The best tanking mace prior to end game drops. 500 armor, +39 Stamina, +27 Defense, +24 Feral Combat Skill, and 556 AP in bear or cat. It may seem close to Braxxis, but with the defense, AP and hit you’ll hit more often against level 73 elites, you’ll have better crit protection, and you’ll hit much harder. All excellent ways to help hold aggro.


Head

Stylin’ Purple Hat
An excellent crafted hat for bear tanking that is BOE, and fairly easy to find on the AH. You can start using this at level 69.


Neck

Necklace of the Deep
Another excellent BOE crafted piece, that has amazing flexibility. With two Shifting Nightseye it provides a total of 29 Agility, 32 Stamina, and +3 Hit rating. With two Delicate Living Rubies it provides an incredible 37 Agility, 20 Stamina and +3 Hit. And with two Solid Star of Elunes in there it’s +21 Agility +44 Stamina. Better still, this is equippable at level 65. A very flexible must have for the starting bear tank.


Shoulder

If you are Aldor rep, then you are in luck. There is a quest reward that is a very nice piece of gear for your starting tank.
Cleansed Fel Pauldrons
These shoulders are not bad at all, and a lot better than any other alternative you are likely to have prior to instance runs. The quest chain that results in these shoulders starts here. Once you have these shoulders, you are good until either Black Morass or Sethekk Halls drops (see below).

If you are already Scryer, then you’re alternatives look more like this to start;
The Dreamers’ Shoulderpads
A fairly common world drop reasonably priced and often found in AH, useable at level 68. Since they ARE so easy to find, this is the item I recommend you start with. There are a couple of better shoulders from early instance runs such as the Mantle of the Dusk-Dweller from Keli’dan the Breaker in Blood Furnace (normal mode), but if you pick up The Dreamers’ Shoulderpads, you can hold out until you are ready for one of these two;

The Sun-Gilded Shouldercaps
Drops from Chrono Lord Deja in Black Morass.

Even better the Shoulderpads of Assassination
Drops from Talon King Ikiss in Sethekk Halls. The Shoulderpads of Assassination, with two yellow gem sockets, is your best non-PvP reward tanking shoulder option prior to Karazhan, but remember that these are Rogue set shoulders… please do not ‘need’ them without talking politely (oh, so politely) to any Rogue that may be in your party. If they need them, they should have them first.

There is one last option that is still, in my opinion, a casual route you can work towards that provides better shoulder armor than any of the other options listed so far.

Grand Marshals’ Dragonhide Spaulders or High Warlords Dragonhide Spaulders
Obtained with 10,098 honor and 20 Arathi Basin marks from PvP. This is non-arena gear. If you get involved with Arena matches, the Gladiator set shoulders are even better, but harder to save towards. I have not personally run PvP since pre-BC, but I have been told that it is possible to earn 2000+ honor in one night, from running Alterac Valley a few times, and of course you get 1 Arathi basin mark per loss or 3 per win in that battleground. Your mileage may vary, but this is a reasonable time investment for such a nice shoulder item.


Back

An excellent early instance drop Cloak is;
Bogstrok Scale Cloak
The Bogstrok cloak is an outstanding cloak that will last you well into the game. With 271 armor, +22 Stamina and +16 Defense it is quite outstanding. It drops from Rokmar the Crackler in Slave Pens, normal mode.

If you don’t run instances, then a slightly weaker option is;
Cloak of the Valiant Defender
Still a very nice cloak for bear tanking, and a quest reward from Ar’kelos the Guardian, the end of a long Netherstorm quest chain that starts here. The Cloak of the Valiant Defender has 262 armor, +21 Stamina, and +15 Defense rating.
It’s a very nice cloak for bear tanking, not quite up to the Bogstrok Scale Cloak but very close if you haven’t gotten lucky on the drop.

I’ll be honest with you, however. At the time of this writing, I have still not completed that quest chain.

Instead, I saved the money and farmed the mats for;
Resolute Cape
A BOE crafted epic cloak. This requires a Primal Nether to craft, so I personally paid a Tailor 150 gold for their crafting and their BOP Primal Nether to make it for me. Your mileage may vary, so do what works best for your time investment. All in all, it may not be that big an upgrade over the Bogstrok Scale Cloak, but at the time I wanted a Cloak for tanking and I had very little time for instances or lengthy quest chains. At the cost of some material farming and some gold, I was able to get a nice upgrade.

Once you have the Bogstrok Scale Cloak, the Cloak of the Valiant Defender, or the Resolute Cape, your next best upgrade prior to Karazhan is;
Thoriumweave Cloak
Drops from Mechano-Lord Capacitus in the Mechanar, normal mode. There are other better cloaks as well, by all means pursue them. But if your time is limited you might want to let your old cloak last you until you can run the Mechanar.


Chest

For Chest, there can be only one option;
Heavy Clefthoof Vest
This is just one of the three crafted BOE Heavy Clefthoof set pieces. Each of the three pieces can be found often on the AH, and are truthfully your best bet for a long time, if ever. 500 armor, +24 Defense, +45 Stamina, two yellow sockets and a blue socket make this an unbelieveable bear tanking chest piece. Requires level 70, as it should. My recommendation on this one is to ignore the socket colors and either put three Solid Stars of Elune or even three Shifting Nightseye on this, to really pack on the health and dodge. With three Solid Star of Elune, this gives you 500 Armor and +81 Stamina, and if that doesn’t make you cry with joy I don’t know what will.


Wrists

For wrists, I wish I could give you more options, but there really is only one choice prior to serious raiding.
Umberhowl’s Collar
A quest reward in Shadowmoon Valley. It is the final reward from a very, very long quest chain. The quest starts here, on through to here, which gives you three quests, each to fnid a different son. You want Borak, Son of Oronok, which is the quest chain for the Third Fragment, which starts here, and finally culminates in this.
Yes, it is a very long chain. However, along the way there are many rewards, and from what I remember as a feral druid almost the entire thing is soloable depending on your gear at the time. The Umberhowl’s Collar is famous for being a ridiculously nice bear tank bracer that you will wait a LONG time to ever find an upgrade for.


Hands

Again, there is only one choice for starter bear tank gloves;
Verdant Gloves
A quest reward in Shadowmoon Valley. The quest chain starts here (Scryer) or here (Aldor), depending on your faction.

Make no mistake, this is a very hard quest chain. Before it is done, you will need to make a trip to the Arcatraz. You do not need to actually kill anyone in Arcatraz, you can be brought into a party that has already completed the Arcatraz and cleared it, since all you need to do is to find the body of Seer Udalo, the NPC for that part of the chain to complete it. But keep in mind that you will have to enter the Arcatraz to do this to proceed.
Yes, I know this does not seem like an easy path for a casual player. The reason I insist that this is the only choice for a 70 druid starting his tanking set, is that these gloves are equivalent to Tier 5 armor for bear tanks. There is, short of a drop in Shattered Halls (Wastewalker Gloves) that actually have worse armor but better agility, no better gloves for you prior to serious end game raiding.


Waist

Again, your best option is a quest reward in Shadowmoon valley;
Manimal’s Cinch
A green item quest reward that is ridiculously good for bear tanks. Providing massive armor, high strength, good agility and stamina it is very nice indeed.
The quest chain starts here. Why yes, yes you saw that correctly. This item is a reward from one of the early quests in the exact same chain you must do for your Umberhowl’s Collar. Isn’t that sweet? You do one long quest chain and get TWO of your best bear tanking pieces! Isn’t Blizzard nice?


Legs

Heavy Clefthoof Leggings
This is your best choice. Crafted, kick ass, and found often on the AH. Do yourself a favor, and go buy them. 503 armor, +33 Stamina, +29 Defense, and 2 blue sockets, one yellow socket. Again, stack three Solid Star of Elune in here and have a total of +69 Stamina from one piece, or add some Nightseye to boost your Dodge. Useable at level 70.


Feet

Heavy Clefthoof Boots
Again, best choice. Crafted, kick ass boots often found at AH. 394 Armor, +30 Stamina, +21 Defense, and one yellow and one blue socket.


Rings

I hate rings. There are very few easily obtained true bear tank rings. And often, you are competing with warriors that want to ‘need’ the drops because they ‘might be good if they decide to respec someday’ /cry.

Delicate Eternium Ring
Crafted BOE so it can be found on the AH. Nice ring, it provides +25 Agility, +15 Stamina and +16 Dodge. It is unique, there can be only one equipped.

Arcane Loop is a rare BOE drop in Netherstorm sometimes found in the AH, and it can have many different kinds of stats. If you are lucky you might find a ‘Of the Monkey’ or ‘Of Stamina’ in the AH, which are also good tanking choices.

Mok’Nathal Clan Ring
The first (and easiest) instance drop bear tanking ring. It drops from the chest that appears after killing the end dragon boss in Hellfire Ramparts. It is notable that it is NOT unique, and therefore you can wear two of them. 180 armor, +16 Stamina, and +14 Resilience. Pretty darn nice for bear tanks. Some 70 druids have been known to stealth to the end boss and solo him just to farm for two of these rings.

Iron Band of the Unbreakable
The next instance run ring drop to look for, it drops from Lieutenant Drake, the first boss in Old Hillsbrad (Caverns of Time) in normal mode. It also does not say unique-equipped, so I believe you could have two of these equipped at once. However, as you will see next, if you are entering Karazhan a much better ring that is a quest reward may soon be yours, so plan ahead before farming for two of them. Iron Band of the Unbreakable has 170 armor, +27 Stamina, and +17 Defense. IMO, Old Hillsbrad is extremely fun, fairly quick, and running it at least once unlocks Black Morass for you to play in, where some really nice drops also happen to be found. I enjoy running it more than any other except Black Morass. You may find it fun to come here and try for two rings, especially if you never expect to be part of a Karazhan guild.

Violet Signet
A ring that is the Karazhan reputation reward from Path of the Violet Protector. When you reach friendly with the Violet Eye, the faction that gives you rep for Karazhan quests and kills, you can choose one of four quest chains from a quest giver standing just outside the entrance to Karazhan. The Path of the Violet Protector gives you this ring. Each time you increase a reputation rank with Violet Eye, your Ring gets upgraded to incredible levels. If you ever do enter Karazhan, after completing the long attunement chain, you will be only at most three nights worth of runs from getting friendly and having this ring. Make no mistake about the quest chains, choose the Violet Protector and get this ring. At the lowest (friendly) level it already has 294 armor, +27 Stamina, and +13 Defense. And it rapidly gets much better.

Ring of Unyielding Force
If you are skilled and fairly well geared, which if you have most of these pieces you will be, then you might be running some heroic instances. When you kill any boss in a heroic instance, every member of the party earns 1 Badge of Justice. For 25 Badges of Justice you can purchase this ring from the vendor in Shattrath City. As a bear tank, it is one of the few rewards you can buy with Badges of Justice that really kick ass. 294 armor, +31 Stamina and +22 Defense.


Trinkets

If you’re lucky, you still have;
Mark of Tyranny
from a quest chain in Azeroth. That sucker is still good, even at 70. 180 armor, +10 Arcane Resistance, (useful in Karazhan), and +12 Dodge rating.

If you have the gold, then keep an eye out at the AH for the BOE
Badge of Tenacity
I have seen it around 1500g, but is worth it at 2000g. If you work at the Ogri’la quest chains, you can earn the right to take on the SOLO event that has a chance to drop the Depleted Badge, from which this trinket is made. The Badge of Tenacity is wonderful. Well worth the money, or the time you spend in farming it. 308 armor equipped, (yes, 308!) and on use it increases Agility by 150 for 20 seconds. A very nice ‘I need more dodge NOW while healer regains mana’ item.

There are many other trinkets, that each do strange or unusual things. Engineering has trinkets, as does PvP and reputation rewards, but the thing to look for is one that either gives you a very large Agility, or a nice chunk of Stamina.

The Darkmoon Card: Madness and Darkmoon Card: Vengeance both have other effects, but mainly give you +51 Stamina when equipped. Also, enchanters can make the Smoking Heart of the Mountain for an armor boost and resists. You’ll have to use your best judgement and consult your professions for your best options when considering trinkets.

What do you mean, you DI’d the tank?

I thought I’d seen it all.

At least, I thought I’d seen every darn thing people could do to throw me a curve ball in this game.

Last night I was forcibly reminded that I am a casual player, because I’m sure every other tank has had this happen to them before, but I was totally without a clue when it happened.

“When WHAT happened?” I hear you ask?

Well, let me tell you a little story… [grin]

So there I was, in Karazhan again. This time, it was gonna be different. Group 1’s main tank Joppers was going to spend the week straightening Group 2 out, and he had plans for us. Big plans.

“We’re going straight in to Attumen, then we’re going to take down Moroes and after that we’ll take down Maiden.”

Pretty bold plan for one night, considering he’d never run with Group 2 before. A Group that still has yet to down either Moroes OR Maiden due to what I like to call ‘10% issues’*.

I was pretty excited though. Seeing as how none of us had any prior experience in Kara, having someone along to drive us forward that knew how the flow should go could make a massive difference.

So in we go, and from the first it is clear that the tank is going to have none of this ‘coddling the casters’ crap. He does a quick run down of what he expects, Blue Square for ice trap, star for shackle, x for off tank (me), Moon for fear, burn such and such down first, etc. Then he says “Everyone when you need mana get it on the run and stay on your toes we have a lot to get done and I’m not sitting around”.

BOOM! With that the first pull begins and it’s just pull pull pull after that.

Attumen was downed in about 21 minutes from entering the instance, and I had a blast the whole way. As a main tank, I usually pretty much stayed bear and did my thing.

But here I had a clear agenda. The main tank was marking, and if there wasn’t a red X, then there was no off-tanking. That meant that when the tank started a pull, I could be in cat form and gear for DPS on the tanks’ targets, switching to bear only to grab broken traps and such, or shift into caster for spot heals and innervates, etc. I got to actually feel like a versatile class helping out all over the place. Lots and lots of fun. 😉

Like I was saying, we downed Attumen in record time. We were gratified to hear that we pretty evenly matched Group 1 for time to progress to this point. Then we got the next surprise, as instead of heading for the ballroom, the main tank said we’d be taking the shortcut through the pantry to Moroes. Shortcut? Okay, cool.

Well, I don’t know that it was shorter, but it was fun to do something a bit different.

We blasted through at top speed, and it was great seeing the Group come together. The main tank was pushing as fast as he thought right, and the group rose to the challenge. He clearly expected everyone to be on the ball and do their own jobs without coddling. There was no babying, none of the “Is everyone sure you’re ready?” stuff that I tend to do. He treated everyone with respect, with the expectation that they were mature and skilled enough to do their jobs without being told, and most of them responded by damn well doing them. I was amazed and gratified. If there was a pull he thought might be difficult, he’d stop for a second to caution us that so and so would hit hard, and to be on top of things, and he’d pop a Ready Check and then boom! off to another pull.

Things were going so well, that before we knew it we were at the first pull from the chamber where Moroes and his dinner guests reside. That doorway is guarded by two stewards, and the main tank warned us that they hit hard, and he marked a red x and skull, then pulled. I dutifully shifted to bear with bear gear, grabbed my x and dragged his ass off to the side so everyone could see the skull clearly.

Now it was at this point that something went wrong. I don’t know what, but people started panicking as if there were a horde of adds or something among the casters. As far as I could see, as I spun my views around, there were still just the two stewards. Then the main tank went down and all holy hell broke loose.

I still don’t understand what happened to cause the complete panic that I heard on Teamspeak. It’s not as if we were strangers to wipes or uncontrolled chaos. Our previous runs should have taught us to be adaptive and prepared for the worst.

At any rate, when I saw the main tank go down, the skull he was tanking broke for the casters in a straight line. I Feral Charged, picked him up and spun him around on me. Seconds later he died and I still had my original X on me.

Absolutely no worries, right?

YES, there were a couple players dead. But we had three paladins, me and a resto druid, and a priest. We had so much rezzing power that we ALMOST could wipe scores of times and jump right back up.

And thats when IT happened. IT.

Let’s recap… a couple players down, including the main tank, and one steward well and truly focused on me.

Well, what happened next is partly my fault. I still do not know by heart the moves and special abilities of every mob that I will be facing in Karazhan. If I did, I would have reacted a lot faster to find the reason for what happened to me, and I could have fixed it before it was too late.

This is what happened. As I began lacerating the steward to keep aggro firmly rooted on me, my buttons stopped responding, and my movement keys and mousemove stopped responding, EXACTLY as happens when stunned.

And here is where I made my critical error. I assumed that the steward could stun, and had stunned me, and that it would break in 3 seconds. And instead of looking away from the action to check the timer that should have been counting down stun duration next to the minimap, I kept my eyes on the screen, spamming my growl hotkey in anticipation of the stun wearing off so I could stay right on top of things.

And stun didn’t wear off. And still didn’t wear off. And as I waited and waited it STILL didn’t wear off. And I continued to wait in growing panic as the mob finally took off from my still, unresponsive form, and went to go tear the group a new one. And I could only watch in horror as it took down every single other player, and then, instead of coming back after me, it left the room to go back where it came from!

I just couldn’t believe it! I still stood there stunned and unable to move… except, now that I wasn’t surrounded by spell effects of casters and swipes and special effects and heals, I could see there was some sort of glolden glow around me… almost like…

And someone announces in guild chat that they DI’d me so I could rez the group after the wipe.


Someone… cast Divine Intervention on me… without saying a word in Teamspeak… so I could rez the party after the wipe… when we had a soulstone up…. and when we HAD NO WIPE INCOMING!!!! I was on top of that one lone mob so hard it wasn’t even funny. It took FOREVER for it to break off of me and go after the rest of the party.

At this point I gently put my headphones down, and swore bitterly at the screen for two solid minutes.

After getting the swearing out of my system for the moment, I calmly went looking through the 20+ buff icons in the upper right portion of my screen… and sure enough, there was the Divine Intervention icon, with a timer showing about two minutes left.

I gently right-clicked it to shut it off, just as I could have if I’d been smart enough to know that it wasn’t the mob that stunned me… it was one of my own teammates.


Honest to god, that is the very first time ever that anyone has cast Divine Intervention on me, as the main tank, in the middle of a fight, no matter how bad things looked. Ever.

I remained calm as I typed into my friends’ chat channel, to my buddy Jay, who was on the run with me…

“Someone DI’d me in the middle of the fight when we were in no danger. That is SO going in my blog.”

He lol’d


* 10% is a phrase from my Marine Corps days.. back then we took it for granted that we Marines were the ‘best of the best’**… but that even among our ranks, there was that “10%” of worthless asshats that would never do anything right if they could help it. From boot camp on, anytime we’d talk about a situation where one person screwed it up for the rest of us, that person was a ‘ten percenter’, or the situation would just be referred to as, “Well, there is always that 10%.”

** Of course, we also took it on faith that the Navy had 40%. 😉

Just kidding, folks. Just kidding.

What do you like to solo?

Let’s lighten the mood around here, shall we? After all, I am cranky when my buttons are pushed, but generally I am a pretty silly old bear. Let’s talk about druid fun!

As druids, they call us hybrids, but I prefer ‘jack-of-all-trades’.

Hey, we get to sorta melee like a rogue, heal like a priest, tank like a warrior, or blast like a mage. Sorta. Kinda.

Sure, we don’t come ‘out of the box’ as versatile at any one role as a ‘pure’ class does. I’ll accept that. Sure.

On the other hand, the druid class really favors fast thinking, flexibility, and improvisation.

I tend to approach life from an ‘in your face’ point of view, so it should come as no surprise that I favor moving in as a cat in stealth, getting my hits in, and switching to caster to pop some HoTs and then into bear for the long haul if things go wrong. But there are plenty of other approaches to playing our class, and they are all fun!

One of the things I like the most about druid is something rogues have long delighted in; going into group content solo in stealth, and taking on bosses for fun (and profit).

Granted, there isn’t much challenge for any 70 in soloing something like Shadowfang Keep, no matter how much fun it may be.

But there are things in this game that can bring a challenge and lots of fun, even for the 70, and I’d like to hear what your favorites are!

I’ll start the ball rolling by saying that I like to go into BRD and have me some fun in there. I’m a miner, so all that Dark Iron Ore is nice, plus getting to the Black Forge to smelt it down whenever I want. But beside that, if I am looking for fun I can stealth on by the trash and take on darn near any boss I feel like. If I want a true challenge, then I dare myself not to use stealth at all. Take on the trash too! A lot of those early dark iron dwarf pulls are trickier than you might think, what with the multiple healers in the pack.

Obviously, soloing the Scarlet Monastery in search of the rare Tabard drop is something that many folks do at some point, but what else is out there to solo that you enjoy?

Maybe you like to run the Deadmines as a speed challenge, just to see how fast you can get a 100% clear.

On a seperate but related topic, how many of you have put together all-Druid (or druid/rogue) 5 mans to stealth run higher end content? All-60 druid/rogue stealth tribute runs used to be quite a lot of fun.

Come on, share with the bear… what do you like to run?

That’s one way to reduce aggro

Talked about Damage Meters yesterday, and somewhere in that muddy post there should have been two points. I’d like to revisit them a little, since it’s early and stuff in guild last night came up that kind of tied in.

The first is that I see Damage Meters abused by people that want bragging rights over other teammates, and in pursuit of the coveted #1 damage dealer position cause damage in excess of the tanks’ threat, pulling aggro away and causing many bad things.

(And most of the commenters have pointed these out, but I wanted to recap quickly… if you pull aggro away from the tank, not only are you yourself now going to find out how good your armor is, but you are now causing the healers to redirect their mana on you in a desperate attempt to keep you up, because they hate to see a player die on their watch. You are also causing the tank to hit his ‘panic overdrive’ to re-establish aggro, because he hates a player to die on his watch. And you might be pulling the mob into melee range of the Hunter(s), which drops their damage output on that mob just when you need it most. All in all, it’s asshattedness at it’s finest.)[Is that a word? It should be.]

The second point I was trying to make in there is that I see players who are not guild or class officers, use the rankings in a judgmental way towards other players, in a derisive or mocking fashion.

Now, in my own personal opinion, it is the second point that really frosts my butt.

The first situation is usually self correcting. It doesn’t take long for people to put their heads together, compare notes after a run, and come to some hard decisions.

“You know, if that (x-class) didn’t pull aggro away from the tank on every run and die, causing chaos and confusion, we wouldn’t have had any of those wipes.”
“Did you ask him to wait for the tank to get 5 sunders before kicking the DPS in, and watch his threat?”
“Yes, but he is still doing the same thing, anyway.”
“I guess we’re going to have to ask him not to go on runs with this group, then.”

Sadly, this apparently happened in our group last night.

I wasn’t on last night, instead I enjoyed a little time with my family… ok, maybe I logged in and did some daily quests quick, but other than that I was off.

But I did see that our group was in Kara, and after a very short run was already at Maiden. I wished them well, and the mood in the group at the time was festive, almost jubilant. Confidence was very high.

When next I logged in, hours later, to check the AH, I find out that the attempt(s) on Maiden were unsuccessful… and some players were asked to leave the group while they address certain, well, threat issues. It’s always a hard thing to ask a guild member, a friend and compadre, to not play reindeer games with the group. I certainly don’t envy the officers their decision. But not everyone can handle threat bombs like our friend Karthis does.

That’s a lot of yakking about obvious crap. I should go back and delete it, but what the heck, you already know I’m long-winded. Stream of consciousness rambling is the only style I got.

Point, point… I had a point when I started, and then I got off topic on asshats, and then I went to get coffee… where the hell was I? Oh, yeah! Right!

It’s one thing for people to throw up their Damage Meter score, in the interests of friendly competition, joking with some buddies. I see that once in a while in PUGs, in 5 man runs, and I certainly see no harm in it at all. Everyone enjoys something different, and I’ve PUGged with a pair of friends who both had Mages, who delighted in taunting each other with their Damage Meter ranking after almost every single pull. And honestly, they had me laughing my butt off, because they were taunting each other with who could do the most damage without going over my threat and pulling aggro. And they were both damn good. It was fun to be a part of. It spurred me on to greater heights of tanking, trying to really establish some serious threat on my mobs to let them play.

It’s another thing entirely when any player uses Damage Meters, or any other measurement, in an effort to belittle, judge or mock another player in game. I don’t care if it’s a guild run or a PUG, there is no excuse that I can think of where it’s ok to dump a bunch of crap on another player when they are being nice, playing the game, and having fun.

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but most of the people I play with or meet are great players, fun people, nice people, generous people, people that are playing WoW to have fun and hang with friends. There is always the hunt for better gear, for higher reputation, for that next rare crafting pattern, whatever. But at the heart of things they are darn great folks to hang with.

So the players I run into that like to hurt other peoples’ feelings or make someone else look like crap in some effort to make themselves look better or wahtever, just pisses me off.

Those players are the ones that make me wish there were no Damage Meters, not because meters themselves are bad, but only because the use to which they are put can be so easily twisted to serve a total asshats purpose for the moment.

I know that if it weren’t a Damage Meter ranking, then it would be using Armory to be judgmental over a players’ gear, or ridiculing their reputation advancement, or their spec, or whatever else they could find to hurt someone else to make themselves feel special. The core issue is not the Damage Meters, but the existence of the asshats themselves.

But I have this horrible dilemma.

My ignore list is full!

Please, Blizzard, please, make the ignore list larger…. much, much larger.

I do go in every 6 months or so and delete every name in my ignore list to make room… I have found that I almost never see any of those names pop up again. Almost as though the players I put on ignore for their behavior in the first place never stay on that toon more than 6 months.

But I’d like to have a list long enough where I don’t have to run that risk.