Tales from the Dark Side

My shadow priestie has been 70 for long enough that I’ve maxed out my gear except for raids, heroic Magisters’ Terrace, and Badge Rewards.

Everything is properly gemmed and enchanted, and I float around 1050 shadow damage unbuffed. I’m pretty darn happy with that.

The Sidhe Devils has our own Kara run scheduled for the morning of Saturday, May 31st, where two of our powerful Feral Druids will be tanking away, and neither of them will be moi.

Instead, I’m gonna play mana battery, ranged DPS, and Shackler.

Now, I’ve only ever soloed as a shadow priest before. You guys know me; that leaves me nervous about my ability to properly perform my role, and not let the rest of the raid down.

So, I’d been keeping my eye out for two weeks now for a Kara PUG in the makings, to join and go in and learn my place and practise rotations and thinking on my feet, and mainly seeing what things look like from the back of the pack for a change.

The funniest part is, with my current gear, there are all of three upgrades I could get from Kara, and they’re all from the first two bosses. I’d be looking mainly for badges, and for fun. How often would you expect tha from a Kara pug? Someone that wasn’t out to be a loot whore?

As a shadow priest, I knew that my Shackle would be welcome, but it might be hard to find a pug that felt secure enough to take a non-healer priest.

Well, last night I was giving Alex a bath, and Cassie calls out that someone in Trade chat was asking specifically for a shadow priest to fill the last slot in an all-guildie Kara run.

WTF? Are you kidding me?

I looked at Cassie with my beseeching kitty-cat “can I haz kara run?” eyes, and she not only said yes, but she even finished up Alex’s bath for me so I could scurry off and log in. Yay!

The guild was Essence of Grandeur on Kael’thas, and although they usually run two Kara groups, I got the impression the US Memorial Day weekend had left them short one for a badge run.

They welcomed me quite warmly, asked if I could join Vent, and once I ran off to get my raid mats and consumables, threw me a summons.

The run was completely unlike any Kara run I’ve ever done before.

We started with an untouched Kara, took down Attumen, and kept rolling without pause until we reached the large room at the top of the huge ramp past the library just after Curator. We didn’t STOP there for the night, I just had all I could take without a bio break. 

So a pause to put Alex and cats to bed, and a bit of bio regen, and it was back in business. We started back up and kept on until Chess was cleared.

That was the longest single run I’ve done in Kara. Every Legatum run I’d been on, there was usually an acknowledged stopping boss about halfway through. And that was typically Curator. When we 7 manned Kara we went further, but we still bypassed Aran and Illhoof when we went on and cleared Chess.

This one, we went until we just got too tired, and in our case last night it mean we rolled on until 2 AM.

So, Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Romulo and Juliette, Curator, Shade of Aran, Illhoof and Chess, dead.

That guild has a great sense of fun and playfulness on vent. Definitely a nice group of folks to play with.

Let me talk a bit about some of the things I learned as a shadow priest in Karazhan for the first time, when I thought I was completely prepared.

1) Bring twice as many sacred candles as you think you’ll need. You’ll probably run short anyway. I brought about 40, needed a fast trip to snag 20 more. Next time, I’m bringing 80.  Why? When someone dies, I found it easier to redo the whole group buff for the full duration rather than just a ghetto buff of 30 minutes on one person. So they got used a lot more than I expected.

2) Don’t freak out if you have the cookie-cutter priest spec, that gives you +102 Stamina from your Improved Fort buff, and when you buff people, it displays a tooltip saying they got a +79 stamina buff instead. It’s a known bug that I was previously unaware of. I did the math, and after I did the buff, the tooltip showed the +79, but I really got +113 (from the +102 Fort and +10% stats from Pally buff).

3) It is vital to use a shackle focus macro that allows you to continue to provide ranged DPS uninterrupted to your target while keeping a second one shackled. Allow me to show you mine;

#showtooltip Shackle Undead
/clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus]Shackle Undead
/s Shackling %f

I did not create this. I am, despite all that Kirk could do with his series of posts on how to write macros, still macro-creating illiterate.

BUT, I now understand better what to look for IN a macro. So I went to the Shadow Priest forums and did some searching. 

In a thread about Moroes and Shackling Macros, way towards the end, a player named Acererak wrote that macro I listed above… and another player named MnilinM came by and helped explained what it did, an explanation even I could understand, so I will share it with you here.

MnlinM described the macro as doing the following;

Show the tooltip for Shackle, instead of just a random macro icon/name
Clear the focus target IF I hold alt, OR my current focus is dead, OR my current focus is friendly, OR if my focus doesn’t exist anymore.
Set my current target as my focus, only if I don’t have a focus target set
Cast, using my focus as the target, Shackle Undead
say “Shackling [target’s name]”

So… it’s a nice macro. Works great. Kinda does everything I can see that I would need in the heat of battle. In actual use, it kicks ass. I target the mob that has been marked for Shackle. At the pull, I hit that macro, and it makes my target my focus, and Shackles him. I then can target the Skull or X and begin blasting away, and I have a dot-timer mod that shows me Shackles’ duration even if I don’t have that mob targeted. And every ten seconds I just hit the macro button and it recasts Shackle on my focus, without changing my current DPS target.

So.. I macro-Shackle the purple diamond, retarget on Skull and mana dot death dot blast death flay mana dot blast reShackle death flay mana dot… you get the idea. As long as I keep my eye on the Shackle in case it breaks before the ten seconds I give myself to reShackle, I’m good.

Now, a few lessons learned from the run itself.

Essence of Grandeur seems to have always used a Paladin Tank as their main tank. As most of you are well aware, I am used to a warrior and feral druid, or mostly the two feral druid tanking combo.

I have only once ever played with a Paladin Tank, and that is when Gerolan the incredibly awesome tanked Steamvault and I was on my Hunter.

A paladin main tank in Kara was a very, very different experience.

I had heard before that a Paladin using Consecrate and AOE tanking, especially against undead, is an amazing sight.

That is an understatement.

Basically, if the healers could keep the pally alive, the team wins. No matter what else happens. It was shocking.

I made a mistake early on, body pulled a group on the run to Attumen while trying to back up to make some space/LOS to the fight we were on… I died right away as the three mobs came charging me… the Pally picked them up, and they kept right on trucking. No other deaths.

The group did have a warrior as well, for off-tanking, but the bulk of the fight was on the Paladin, and the first thing that surprised me was that he did not use pulls from the hunter’s misdirect to bring mobs to him, instead he charged in face to face to body pull.

In hindsight, it’s obvious why, since if you don’t have a ranged pull or Linkin’s Boomerang, you must get into the habit of running up and saying “hi” all nice and personal every time.

But what that does is bring all the mobs automatically into the range of your Consecrate, making Shackle useless. Shackle/break, Shackle/break.

They used Crowd Control, don’t get me wrong. But it became clear they used it only on those fights where they had problems in the past with the ‘pally rush in’ technique.

I’m just used to always walking up to every fight wondering how to apply the crowd control we have on hand to the given fight to break it up into bite sized pieces…

So I was there in a cautious mindset looking for things to CC, and they were there in a ‘blast the doors down, matey’ mindset.

Their way is much more fun.

But there were not as many chances to Shackle as I was hoping for. I practised it a lot, damn it!

But yes, I have seen firsthand now, what people mean when they talk about Paladins being awesome tanks, especially in Karazhan. No question.

What came to my mind was to wonder, if a newer guild started out for their very first raids with only a paladin tank, would having that incredible threat generation holding a group of mobs cause the new raiders problems in higher-progression fights?

Some fights are very CC dependant in other raids. Do you think having players used to NOT being able to pull aggro easily would cause problems in the learning curve?

These guys didn’t have that kind of problem, Moroes is a CC issue and they had it locked down, the hunter chain trapped very well, and BRK would’ve been proud. but it did make me wonder, seeing as how I’m going into Karazhan in one week with a group of my own guild’s, many of whom haven’t been far inside… if the Tank is that good, does it prevent your other players from having to stretch and struggle to master their own abilities to get the job done? And can that hurt a guild in the future, if they are used to success, and then suddenly hit a brick wall in progression?

Oh, and as long as I’m talking about the Hunter… this is hilarious…

So, we down Illhoof last night. And we have a very strong boomkin in the group. She stayed locked onto number one on the DPS chart from minute one, just great DPS output. Very cool. In case anyone cared, the DPS chart looked like this;

  1. Boomkin
  2. Warlock
  3. Me
  4. Rogue
  5. Hunter

Considering the Hunter was in a lot of blues and even some greens, it wasn’t his skill, it was just his gear. And he got some damn nice upgrades. That Steelspine Faceguard, for example.

But he had a green for a weapon… and a certain Staff dropped off of Illhoof…

And since the balance-specced Druid didn’t want it…. well…. that’s just awesome. Yes, yes he did. The Hunter won the roll on Terestrian’s Stranglestaff.

And he had a great time emoting ‘the tentacles brush up against xxx leg’ and similar for the rest of the fight… oh, it was priceless… the jokes about all the people that would be seeing him with that staff that would QQ in Ironforge were perfect.

If you live and play in Kael’thas and happen to see Essence of Grandeur around, give ’em a /salute, they’re a damn fun, and mature, group to play with.


16 thoughts on “Tales from the Dark Side

  1. Anna’s right – it may be fairly common practice for groups to use more CC early in their Kara progression, and more AOE later as their gear lets them survive it. If you had been with a group that was new to Kara, I bet you would have had lots of CC duty.


  2. I just did my first Kara run this weekend (Feral Druid) I was the OT for the run and we had a pally MT. He held aggro like a true champion. The problem I found was that if I didn’t shout at the X mark to get his attention, I would have to fight the whole pull with very little rage. I need someone to hit me to build rage and this pally was so good at holding aggro, that the only way I could seem to pull aggro off of him was to use a growl early on so I would have enough rage to mangle and lacerate my X. On a side note, I think I was extremely lucky on drops, got the staff off of illhoof (i just love the graphics) and also the kitty treads from a trash mob. First run, big fun, super hectic, a little overwhelming, but i cant wait for next Sunday.


  3. As a dpser, I ran kara until twice exalted with a paly MT. Super easy mode (except the very long time between pulls). Then I joined my ‘serious’ raiding guild and ran it with a warrior. Huge difference! I was pulling aggro left and right. It was a bad night. I did get better though, pretty quickly. Pretty much the only issue is that to make sure you have omen and the warning bell setup. (also make sure you have the FD resist bell). Wait a few seconds before threat generation (dps). That’s it. I think playing with a warrior makes you much more careful in the raid and more focused on everything. As opposed to paly MTing, where if there’s a oh shit moment, the paly will just pick those 2 or 3 or 10 more adds.


  4. Our guild recently went back into Kara after a guild explosion. The guild explosion happened after a ‘setback’ in Karazhan, where they were clearing relatively regularly to Prince in two or three days, to suddenly wiping on Curator or Shade every time.

    Lots of people left, it was like the Exodus. So in terms of what you ask above? Can it cause issues where people feel frustrated with a setback? Oh heck yes. It’s why if we have a bad week in Karazhan, we actually have a place on our guild forums where everyone posts what went wrong and what to fix it. We don’t keep silent about it to save people’s feelings, since saving one person’s feelings on what they did wrong winds up hurting 9 other people.

    However, what it (guild blowup) did was let us rework our Karazhan runs and get some people in who deserved to be in there versus those who were going as body-spots. (Ooh, ooh, need a spot to fill up. Let’s grab Newb-70! They don’t need the key anymore!)

    So, with few exceptions, our two tanks for Karazhan have been usually one of these rotations (given that we have only four tanks in our guild)
    Paladin Warrior
    Paladin Druid
    (The warrior druid combo isn’t run often (actually, never that I can recall) due to my guild being one of the only guilds in existence that is SHORT on DPS consistently and our warrior doubles as a warlock. And I obviously double as a druid tank or a warlock (or a healer), so if both of us were tanking, suddenly we’d be without a lot of DPS and the ability to do Illhoof.)

    And since our change up and a change of tanks, we’ve been doing Attumen to Prince in about 3.5 hours. This includes Illhoof but is minus the dragons.

    We do still use shackle on some of the big pulls up to Attumen and on the Ushers and the one four pull on the way to Maiden, but otherwise we’re really shackle free except for the Moroes fight.

    So saying, having a paladin tank, IMHO, is almost a must for Karazhan! Have him be top on Moroes and put sacrifice on the second tank and he’ll never stay blinded.

    Have him bring healing gear to Maiden and he can do cleanse duty for Holy Fire and keep the tank up during Repentence (if you don’t already have a paladin healer!)

    Some of those four ghosty invisible pulls on the way up are cake if you have a good paladin tank just hold all four and have the OT and DPS single shot them off one by one.

    And if you have a warrior for your other tank, the paladin can again slap on his healing gear and heal during Curator (good hateful bolt soaker healer!) and Prince (good phase 3 healer for the group and overall health topper upper!).

    I’m surprised your paladin didn’t use exorcism to pull though, given that it’s a whole raid instance full of undead?

    To sum up my long rambling unnecessary comment.. I’ve fallen in love with hybrid tanks that can tank one fight where a tank is necessary and become a third healer or extra DPS when a second tank isn’t necessary. Oh my God, the versatility makes me drool. *slobber*


  5. Try Kara runs with two Pally tanks chain pulling mobs. It’s a blast and very fast. We run through in about 2.5 hours for 22 badges. Very fun! Oh, take a Pally tank with you to heroic Bot too…


  6. If you are looking for a good addon to assist with your rotation you should try out Darkness. It’s an Ace2 addon and its fabulous. It prompts your next spell so you don’t have to worry about watching dot timers and your cooldowns for MB and SWD.

    Our guild uses pally tanks and you’re right they are awesome for the majority of Kara. I wouldn’t worry about newer guilds not learning the fine art of CC with pally tanks though, a new pally tank wouldn’t have the damage mitigation to stay up in some of the large trash pulls.


  7. I use this as a holy priest, but it would work also for shadow.

    Mind Vision your rogue if he’s sneaking in and marking. (Our rogue is our Main Assist). Then, when he gives you your shackling assignment, click on the mob, then /focus in the chat box. Now, your focus is set.

    Then click on what you want to attack (in your case) or the MT to heal (in my case).

    When the pull starts, I can already be tossing out a PoM or Renew on the tank as my shackling target is running towards the fight. Hit the macro without dropping your current target. ’tis glorious.


  8. damn! I have run that damn Kara so many times, and have never seen that staff drop. It only has 2 more chances, as after that the Forest Lord is mine, and illhoof’s will be a void crystal


  9. I’ve gotta say, having fairly extensive Kara experience with all three types of tanks (starting out with the pally and moving on to warrior/druid) that it doesn’t REALLY make a difference AS LONG AS the people in the raid know their class. People figure out how to CC fairly quickly as long as they have done it before – or if they’re at all smart. Having a pally tank is definitely the easiest way to run a lot of instances/raids, but its not a completely game changing difference. The real key is to just take things slower without one. Learning more CC oriented fights just will take a bit more time if you’re used to having the pally hold everything for you, but its not something that should make you unable to complete the later fights, assuming again you have a decently smart, decently skilled group.


  10. I seem to remember telling you some time back that I always carry at least 80-100 candles at all times (cause there are always lazy priests out there who don’t buff ppl) As for pally tanks I just love them and good luck with your run for kara if you need a mage send me an ingame mail( I check once a day) 🙂


  11. I’d take that staff in a second on my hunter. We have no druids in our Kara group. Of course, my hunter’s not in the Kara group either. It’s not so good for a priest.

    Great insight into the Pally tank–and from Anna as well. Our OT-soon-to-be-MT (I think) is a Tankadin, and I know she will appreciate the insight.


  12. On the above macro, if you want to switch back to your last target after shackling (I usually Tab, so I find it good to have around), add “/targetlasttarget” after the last line.


  13. Having a paladin tank around, especially in Karazhan and then later on in SSC/TK really does make a huge difference. Since my husband is our illustrious fancylad tank, I’d actually never done Karazhan without one.

    I will say, though, that as we were learning the instance, back when we were all relatively new 70’s, we used just as much CC as any other new group would. He would throw his shield, we’d shackle two adds, etc. Loose mobs on a new group are just as deadly with a paladin as with any other kind of tank. But I think we “moved past” the CC issue faster than a group with another type of tank. Nowadays we don’t even shackle on Moroes, since most of us are tier5+ geared.

    Pally tank just charges in and tanks the lot of them.

    Also – a fun trick that a pally tank can do, on the pulls before Illhoof/Aran that have the summoners and imps. If everyone stands back, the paladin can run in and divine shield. Since they can’t shoot at him, they’ll all run into melee range, where he can drop the shield, consecrate, and the rest of the group can let loose on the AOE pain. It’s quite fun!


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