What is your least favorite group behavior?

Let’s do something different.

I’m gonna ask you… straight out, no wriggling out of it…

What, of all the behaviors you’ve seen displayed by people in a group event, what is the one that pisses you off the most?

I’ve mentioned a few PUG stories recently, I’ve read some on other blogs, and you’ve shared some of your stories in the comments, and there are some reoccuring trends in instances and raids that just blow me away.

Now, I’d expect to get some great stories in the comments from this one, and that alone is reason enough for the post. Great stories, by definition, are ones that allow me, the reader, to mutter “oh, that’s just amazing” in tones of horrified wonder and awe.

But I think there’s more to offer about the topic than just the entertainment value.

I think that if you give me your personal pet peeves about things people do in groups, whether small instances or large raids, and I catalogue it and put up a poll with those choices to see which ones people hate the most…

Maybe, just maybe, someone that DOES them will see it and freaking STOP!

Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Let me toss a few of the behaviors into the ring just to kick things off.

Remember, these are just different behaviors in general that may or may not tweak you, and I’m looking for the bulk of the list to come from YOU…

Showing up with broken gear, or gear so close to broken that within the time it takes to reach the first boss fight, the person says, “I need a break, I have to go to a vendor to repair.”

The person that wants to go on the run, but once invited, makes no effort to get to the instance entrance on their own. They just automatically expect someone else will, and will summon them. I’ve even seen this for Violet Hold, believe it or not. Oh yes I have.

The person that dies in a fight and makes no effort to actually get themselves back to the instance on their own. They wait for a ressurrection, regardless of whether the entire team wiped and has to run back, or whether it’s in Trials where you can run back in during the encounter itself and your team might need you, or whatever.

An addendum to that last one would have to be the person that dies in a big boss encounter, and walks away from their computer immediately for a drink or something without a word. You find these folks out when you battle rez them and they never respond.

Someone that never, ever brings consumables, they count on someone else bringing a Fish Feast to the run, or lending them a flask or potion. And they don’t help getting the fish.

The person that ‘tunes out’ in a run, they don’t really try and play the best they can, they figure they’ve got great gear, so they can run the whole way using autoshot/auto attack while chatting with friends or spending most of their attention watching the new episode of Army Wives.

Someone that insists on talking about the strategy on the next fight, even though everybody on the run has been doing this same fight together the last four months (this would be me… yep, I do that).

Someone that doesn’t spend two seconds discussing strategy. They might, if you’re lucky, ask if everyone is ready before they pull the boss.

Those are just off the top of my head examples of things that may or may not irritate you.

I’d sure like to hear yours.

I’m going to take the answers I get over a week, and see if I can put together a poll for you to vote on the worst of the worst.

So let’s hear those stories!

God, I love your stories.

I think, if possible, the person that came up with the most popular idea will get a button or a shirt mailed to them. So don’t be shy…

Unexpected moments of awesome

A non-game related post, bear with me for a moment if you will.

Some of you that have been following the blog for a while may be aware that I was laid off from my previous position back in, what, January of this year.

I was fortunate enough to find, not only a new job, but a position doing what I love, for a company that is really moving forward and kicking ass.

In my position managing a maintenance department, I spend a lot of time dealing directly with suppliers and contractors on projects I’m sourcing. And one of the most common questions I get, that I never heard before this year, is “So, how’s business for you guys? You busy?”

And I can truthfully answer, “If I have a machine go down, I’ve got trouble, because we’ve almost got more work than we can handle… and as soon as we find more capacity, we get more work. We’re busier than heck, and going strong.”

Realistically… we don’t have more work than we can handle, because we’re expanding capacity at a rate that feels just right. We are carefully analyzing requirements and sales and improving our processes. In some places, saying that would be a snow job, but yes, we really are. It’s crazy, I’m not used to working with management teams that really DO care to improve and get things right the first time. Usually, you deal with people that say they are commited to process improvement and quality improvement… but really stopped thinking the day they got their MBA, because they knew it all at that point.

It’s not like that here. It’s kinda wierd, actually. You’re not supposed to look forward to getting to work to get cracking on the days projects.

The company I am with is in the flexible materials industry. What that means, is that we work with raw flexible materials and create beautiful, functional containers for the end user to fill with their product for the consumer market.

Okay, pushing aside the sales-speak… we buy huge rolls of plastic and foil films, print them using a roto-gravure press method that is capable of beautiful color graphics, laminate those layers of film to form complex combinations of materials with varying color and pliability indexes and UV resistance, then slice/chop, cut and seal them to form… pouches. With or without zippers, pull open tops, spouts to pour or drink from, you name it.

You ever see Spam in the supermarket these days? Well, if you look, you’ll see they sell Spam by the Slice, and it comes in a sealed foil pouch rather than a metal can.

Yeah, we make those. Those exact ones. You buy Spam by the Slice, you bought our pouch.

You know Friskies cat food in the stand up pouches, and Mighty Dog dog food?

Yeah, we make those pouches, too.

We also make the sealed pouches that the 2pam chloride/atropine injectors come in for the military.

This isn’t a small time operation, is what I’m saying. We run strictly by AIB food procedures as well as medical standards in all areas of production, which means we are very, very clean and careful. We’ve got HVAC clean room requirements and food grade materials requirements that add interesting challenges to maintenance. We just had our AIB plant wide audit a month ago or so (which I had a massive share in pre-auditing) and passed with flying colors.

I’m in charge of the maintenance and facilities engineering department.

I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t mind saying, when I see the trend in the commerical products industry to move from cans to pouches, it fills me with a warm, contented glow of job security. 🙂

But nothing, nothing could compare to the feeling of awesome I had this morning.

I was walking through the plant, checking on areas of maintenance responsibility, making sure that assigned work was being done, and I saw our latest customer’s product in the assembly line for the sealing stage.

I just stopped dead in my tracks.

I knew that color. Anyone that had ever been in the military would know that color.

And the material we work with, that this particular product comes in… omigod. No, it couldn’t be…

I moved closer, and looked at the printing…

Granola.

Granola pouches.

US Armed Forces MRE Granola pouches.

We’ve started making pouches to hold MRE food for our armed forces.

OMIGOD.

I swear, I couldn’t be happier. The thought that we’re going to be contributing to something that so fundamentally affects the folks in the service is just freaking awesome.

I just HAD to go find the production manager, an old Navy dog that I get along with very, very well… and just point to the rolls, and make “Wha” noises.

He nodded and said, “How freaking awesome is that.”

Yep, that really says it all. How freaking awesome is that.

There is a potential downside, though, that only occured to me later.

Please… please don’t make us print pouches for Chicken A La King. I don’t think I could stand knowing that I was the cause of that much pain and suffering.

There's no "Get out of the fire!" in TEAM

Let’s have a nice, fun discussion about teamwork, shall we?

And no, this is not a QQfest about a recent pug. Just some thoughts to share, and opinions to solicit, on small unit teamwork and roles in WoW.

We’ve discussed mostly tanking related things when we’ve talked about the game here. But we’ve had discussions on DPS and healing as well. In my time in the game, I’ve done instances and raided doing all three.

A 5 person group is the most common situation, based simply on the fact that whether you’ve raided or not, everyone at some point, if they wanted the gear upgrades bad enough, has tested themselves in a group run. And the vast majority of group content in WoW is tuned for 5 players.

A tank. A healer. Three DPS.

The holy quintet of instance runs.

We’ve talked before about how tanks, being the ones to in most cases mark targets, set kill orders, and decide who to pull first, generally have become the ones expected to lead the group.

Is it necessary for whoever plays the tank to lead? No, of course not. Over the years, it has just become part of “How it is done.”

It’s about expectations. Over time, the expectation has become to expect the tank to be the leader.

I know plenty of great players that have avoided playing a tank, not because they feel they couldn’t grasp the intricacies of the role in a group (hint; it ain’t rocket science) but because of the greater requirements they feel exist FOR tanks in groups to perform as leaders. 

If you’ve never led a run before, the pressure of what you anticipate a groups’ expectations would be can feel enormous.

But there are more expectations that are learned over time by playing in instances than just “the tank is expected to lead.” 

One of those things is that, if you get too close to the mobs, bad things happen.

Over time, even without study, the DPS and healers tend to learn that bad guys sometimes blow up. Or drop rings of fire. Or whirlwind. Or whirlwind. Or whirlwind.

The bad guys can also sometimes whirlwind.

The ranged DPS and healers, if they have any choice at all, tend to move themselves as far away from the tank, and those annoying mobs that can hurt you, as they can.

Melee DPS, give yourselves a pat on the back for braving the dangers of the mob to get in there and get it stuck in, all up close and personal. Not the life of the long range sniper for you, no, you like to see the ring around his collar as you stick the knife in. 

If you study the mechanics of threat, it only reinforces this tendency. The closer you are to the mob, the more threat your attacks and heals generate. It’s not a sliding scale, I don’t mean to imply that. I just mean that if you’re in melee range of a mob, your attacks and heals cause more threat than if you performed the same actions (where possible) at long range. So, what do I do if I’m ranged? I back the heck up.

So what happens? In a pug, without vent or other voice communication, unless someone provides specific guidance, if nobody is used to working as a team together, there are certain things you can expect.

The tank will pull the mobs.

The healer will be at max range waiting for the tank to establish aggro, and will be expecting to only heal the tank for the first little bit so as not to pull anyone the tank hasn’t hit yet.

The DPS, if ranged, will be at their extreme range, and spread out a little so each is not in the way of someone else’s line of sight for graphics on what’s happening.

The melee will rush in, either in stealth before or just after the tank, and get behind whoever the tank is beating up to start stabbity stabbing.

Tank tries to establish aggro on all mobs, the DPS kicks into gear, the healer starts healing whoever takes damage.

Mobs die. Next!

It’s what is expected. It’s cruise control instance running. These are static tactics that provide a ‘brain not required’ technique of playing.

Even more fun, the better the gear of the tank and the healer, the less likely anyone ever needs to engage the brain housing group during instance play.

If the tank is really well geared, his tactical consideration is probably along the lines of wondering, “How best can I pull all of the mobs in this room at once? Can I drag them to the next room too?”

In my opinion, the danger of this, besides it not being much fun to drift on cruise control, is that folks that are coming up and learning to play in groups for the first time can see this ‘accepted wisdom’, and stop thinking critically about what they can do besides wait for the tank to pull. 

Standing in the fire, while mentioned in the title jokingly, really sets the tone for what I mean.

There are people that play their characters in groups that don’t think to look for the fire under their feet, and if they do see it… don’t let it change what they do. They continue to pew pew, while standing in the fire.

Or, for melee, even when the raid calls out, “Flame Wreath, don’t move”, run to get behind the boss.

It’s action without thought. 

Perhaps the person isn’t paying attention to the environment around them, because they are more concerned with things that affect their status in the group (or what they think affect their status).

Things like standing still and maintaining their ‘perfect’ DPS rotation, because to take the time to move out of the fire will cause their DPS on the meters to drop.

If someone stands in the fire and dies, was it the sole responsibility of the healer to have kept him alive?

No.

Why? 

You all know the answer. Because yes, the healer tries to keep the entire group alive, but it’s your job to help the healer out by moving your ass, when your ass doth be on fire. 

Now, that’s an example that gets seen a lot. You may be patting yourself on the back right this very moment, congratulating yourself on not being the guy that stands in the fire.

But are you also thinking during the rest of the fight?

There is more at play in many instances than attacks that cause AoE effects to be wary of.

Some fights include situations where the adds are not present at the beginning of the fight. After the fight begins, after (usually) a boss is aggroed, adds spawn or path to the area to engage the group.

These new additional mobs can be scattered all around when they appear. There may be quite a few.

When this happens, how many folks take the time to think, “If the tank’s best methods of establishing aggro are based on being within melee range of the tank… maybe I should, just for a few seconds, run forward into melee range of the tank, so any adds I attract will naturally come to the tank from the beginning.”

Do you think about each fight, and think about how you can deal with the situation to help the group?

I can’t tell you how many times I, as tank, DPS or healer, have seen fights like the second phase of Black Knight, where the army of ghouls spawns… and all of the ranged players are spread out at max range from the tank, AND spread out in a semi-circle so that it’s a wonder the healer can reach them all.

Yes, we learn that corpse explosion and the green circle of smoking death hurt bad… but they don’t happen in the first 5 seconds of the fight.

How have I seen most groups handle it these days?

By outgearing the fight so badly that they can continue to perform as normal, tank and melee standing still and eating the explosions and green circle of smoking death while everyone DPSes the entire group around the tank so fast they all blow up at once.

Except… adds run loose everywhere during the fight. They spawn and instantly run to the healer, to the ranged, run everywhere but to the tank. And the rest of the group outgears the instance so bad that they just kill the adds themselves.

This… this is an example of something, but it ain’t tactical thought.

Rarer is when I see groups where the healer or ranged DPS will huddle in close at the start, so that any adds that spawn will congregate in the middle… and give the tank time to gather them all up before backing up and unleashing hell on them.

When do I tend to see that? When the group has marginal gear for the encounter. In order to win, the players look for ways to help out the tank and healer. When they think they don’t have to… they don’t. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you try and figure out ways to help the tank and healer out, no matter what your gear is?

Do you prefer it when you outgear the content so much that you don’t have to do any thinking?

Honestly, I’m curious.

One of the ‘rewards’ of being extremely well geared is that content that would be challenging as designed becomes EZ-mode.

Is it that point that you look forward to? The point where you can solo Deadmines while yawning?

If the way the instances were set up changed, if instead of being static enemy levels and fights they scaled in intensity with the iLevels of your gear and levels of your characters… if Deadmines scaled at max level to be level 81 trash and 83 bosses… if you could not outgear content anymore, that what you played would always be a challenge regardless of gear or level, would it still be fun for you?

I’m thinking, for myself, that it wouldn’t be. A part of how I run my role playing campaigns is that I like the players to feel the increase in power of their characters. I like them to feel that, as their characters get more powerful, there are still people that used to kick their ass, that they could now go and beat up. To feel that awareness that yes, they are much more powerful than they used to be. I’ve personally played in games before where, if you were level 15, everyone else you encountered was level 15 or higher. You never got to a point where you actually met anything weaker than you. It’s kind of silly.

I think for myself I’d still like to seek out challenges… but it’s nice knowing that I have the option of going and feeling OP in Deadmines if I want to.

That’s mostly what I do now. More often than not, what I do in game is seek a group for Heroic ToC… not because I really want anything there for my Druid anymore, but because I feel there are still things I have to learn about the fight mechanics. It’s still a big challenge. The times I do other, easier content is just to get a drop or two for an alt.

There are actually drops in normal ToC I could use… but I never run that. It’s not as much of a challenge.

What do you folks think?

Ghostcrawler; epic thread, epic guy

There’s a pretty great thread going on, at least for it’s amusement value, for anyone that is able to think a little objectively and appreciate what it must be like to have a job you love… and have to deal with people who love to tell you that you suck doing it.

Think about that.

What an amazing gig it must be to work for a company like Blizzard, using your ingenuity and creativity, along with your skills and talent, and get paid for it.

There you are, going full bore kicking ass, taking names, and loving life…

You take a step away from your normal duties and do something completely unprecedented in MMOs. You take the time to visit the official community forums, read the customer feedback you find there, and provide as best you can constructive insight into the entire process. You try and bring a little light of understanding into the way things are planned and implemented to the community.

And time after time, as much as some folks love you and want to have your babies, a large community rises up, seemingly united in telling you that you suck because you have it in for them, or haven’t listened to them, or responded to them, or heeded their advice, or whatever. 

I write a blog on the internet, and I still can’t imagine dealing with the official WoW forums day in, day out, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

But he has bothered. He’s cared that much.

He cared so much that he read that shit day in and day out.

It’s been said that police officers may start out with a myriad of opinions about human nature… but after enough time spent getting sent to one trouble call after another, seeing nothing but humanity at their worst hurting each other, they start to assume that ALL people are like that. It’s all they see at work, all day, every day, people hurting each other, or being petty, selfish and downright evil, and pretty soon, if you’re not a cop, you’re just another person that ain’t innocent; you just haven’t been found out yet.

My dad was a police officer for over twenty years. I’m not making this up. All I knew, for the most part growing up, were cop people. Seriously. I’m not making assumptions about a small group of people based on limited sample sizes, here.

Want an eye opener? Read any of Joseph Wambaughs books. If reading the Choirboys doesn’t make you cry at points, and not in laughter, then nothing will. Want a gentler presentation of the message? The Delta Star is actually extremely funny… and no less brutally honest.

That being said, what do you think the impression someone who reads the official WoW forums would have of WoW PLAYERS, if they read those forums all day, every day, for the last two years?

I’m not saying Ghostcrawler is a saint.

I will say he’s a much better person than I am.

After a while, I think I’d start to plan nerfs that make no sense, JUST to screw with the idiots. I’d nerf something that nobody ever used anyway, and then add a fight somewhere where that one ability would have been very useful, but since the ability was just nerfed, it won’t get used for it, and watch people have a cow.

Like the way the Hunter’s ability to take control of their pet directly used to be used in Molten Core to send the pet a long way ahead and pull Baron Geddon back to Garr’s room so you wouldn’t risk pulling Shazzrah early. Some cute but tactically nearly useless ability that they could finally use… and nerf the duration to like, 3 seconds. OR make it a 15 yeard range. Something evilly obvious.  

I’d do it. Oh, don’t even think I wouldn’t. I’d take great pleasure in finding the pet peeves of the most hideous and nasty of posters, and make their bullshit paranoic fantasies actually come true.

Two years of daily reading of those forums and taking all that is said seriously? As Val Kilmer once said, “It’s a moral imperative.” But without the popcorn and orbital death ray lasers.

I’d find it amusing.

Oh, and just for fun…

Temerity Jane, the blessed TJ, the goddess and a half, recently wrote a beautiful post entitled ‘The #1 Peril of Blogging”

I think I’d like to change that just a bit, to be the #1 peril of sharing your actual feelings or thoughts on the internet.

In my opinion, the #1 peril of sharing your actual thoughts on the internet, is that there are people who live to tell you that you suck, you are wrong, you don’t know shit, or you are too ignorant to have a valid opinion. And it doesn’t matter what you said. The very fact that you took a position is enough to ensure somone will take the opposing positon, even if they have to invent one, just to tell you that they know you’re wrong.

I love TJ. Have for years. She says what she thinks, and hell take the hindmost. Nobody will ever accuse her of taking shit from anyone.

But as part of her awesomeness, she cares. Her heart is out there. And the peril in this whole blogging, public posting thing is that when you say what you really think, someone is gonna be looking to cut you if they can, just to see if they can make you bleed. Just for grins and giggles.

It’s very true. If you can’t have a sense of humor and laugh at things, if you can’t step back and see that an asshat is simply an asshat, no more and no less, and unworthy of your time, you’re gonna get hurt. 

And if you don’t blow off steam sometimes or take a break from it, it’s easy to start thinking everyone is like that. 

You read that stuff Ghostcrawler posted… that sounds to me like someone that has a great sense of humor, and can still keep in mind that the way some asshats do things on the forums does not represent the opinions of all players.

I hope that I can continue to post on my blog, and keep in mind that, while asshats are very vocal because they need an audience or the whole point of being snarky is wasted, they don’t represent everyone. They don’t even represent most of the folks. They might not even represent a few of the folks. They just represent themselves. A single asshat, hating themself so much they look for people to hurt, to take down, to feel a little better about their life.

I’ve read that GC is planning on taking a break from posting for a while.

I say, good. I know it’ll drive TJ nuts, but I love getting advice from my readers, and I’ve got my own unsolicited advice just for Ghostcrawler.

By all means, take a break and get the hell away from the official forums. That crap will rot your brain. In fact, why not just go make a new Troll Hunter, head for Barrens and hang out for a while.

I think you’ll find the chat there a relaxing diversion, full of thoughtful conversation and interesting discourse.

As long, of course, as you know where Mankrik’s Wife is.

But while you’re there, why not whip out a fishing pole, ease back, and while you’re leveling fishing skill…

..and think about nerfing something just totally outrageous right into the ground.

No, really. Try it. I bet it would be a lot of fun!

Hey, can any of my readers come up with advice on what he could nerf? Or better yet, something GC could buff that would really send someone over the edge?

Come on, I’d love to hear it!

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.

Right?

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.

So.

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.

WTF?

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?”

Sigh.

Oh what the heck.

“Sure.”

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!

Grrrr.

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.

Omigod, I got a reference!

Holy shit, the world has come to an end.

When it comes to ‘in jokes’ and pop culture references, or references to just about anything at all in the world, I don’t ‘get’ them.

I may know where it came from sometimes, but I don’t ever get that “Oh, I am a special person and know JUST where that came from and why it was used a reference, GLEE!” feeling that so many folks I have known over the years have expressed.

At least I haven’t… until today.

I cruised through my normal collection of webcomics, until I came to…

Least I Could Do. (That other comic done by the Looking For Group guys. I explain, because I know my audience. If I wrote a blog about deviant sexual humor, I’d be referring to LFG as that other comic done by the Least I Could Do guys. Go with what works.)

I pop in to see what the daily funny is, see what Rahne is up to, and I read the comic… and then, as always, I read the title of the strip in the upper right corner, to see if, just for once, I have some clue as to what he is taking about, which is about a 30/70 on the over under.

And it happens.

Nerdvana!

I have read the content of the comic, enjoyed it, looked at the in-joke title of the comic… and had an explosion of joy!

I got it! I know where the in-joke came from, why it was especially relevant and added to the joke from the comic (if it wasn’t in fact the only real joke in the comic), and it came from my favorite author of all time!

I know who Ronnie is! Woohoo!!!!

And now, my apologies as I scurry away to start re-reading that one. I haven’t re-read one of his books in at least 3 days now. I must be coming down with something.

Oh, and if you don’t have the faintest clue what I’m talking about, if you click this link and read the entire synopsis you’ll get it, but trust me… it just won’t be the same.

Although, if you read my blog and DON’T know where it came from… shame on you!

Questions about Defense and Survival of the Fittest

In continuing this trend where I answer emails, here is another one on another topic of long discussion, Defense and Survival of the Fittest.
John,

Long time lurker, first time e-mailer.  I loved when you were on the BRK podcast and you were my inspiration to actually roll a Druid.  I am trying to be the best druid I can be, so I am reading everything I can get my hands on.  Main spec is tank, off is resto.  I read something the other day and I had a question.  I decided to throw it your way and see what happens.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=11228423378&sid=1

From the post:
=============
Defense
Druid tanks do not need Defense gear.

The Survival of the Fittest talent reduces the chance to be crit by 2/4/6%, which means a Druid tank can achieve uncritable by only taking 3/3 SotF.

However, Defense is not totally worthless. Once you reach ~50% Dodge, due to diminishing returns, stacking Defense actually becomes better then stacking more Dodge.

Begin to stack Defense only after you have reached ~50% Dodge.

Note: Like with Crushing Blows, you must be Defense capped at 400 to be crit immune.

=============

I understand that Crushing Blows are different from Crits.  And maybe this is a stupid question, but is Crit Immune and Uncritable the same thing?  I though that with 3/3 SotF talent you were Crit immune period.  You could walk out there with your bare bear backside (pun intended) and be crit immune.  You do need the defense to be crushing blow immune, and I am ok with that.

Love the blog.  I am in the process of Tattooing the Beginning Wrath tanking guide on my arms.  🙂

Urak level 65 Driud on Cenarion Circle

Great email, Uruk. Thanks for the kind words!
 
The first part of that is the unstated expectation that your base Defense skill, which levels up as you take some smacks in the face, is at 400. If it is at 400, and you have 3/3 in Survival of the Fittest, then yes, even stark naked, you are uncrittable.
 
Uncrittable, Crit Immune, these are all terms developed by idiots like me that have to make the terminology for these things up as we go along. They all do basically mean the same thing; The boss enemy, that is exactly 3 or less levels higher than me, cannot score a critical strike upon me.
 
The math aspect to this is that Defense skill reduces your chance to be Dodged, Blocked, or Parried, as WELL as reducing the chance that you will be hit with a critical attack.
 
I flat out refuse to go over the combat table in detail again, I did it years ago in a Shifting Perspectives article for WoW Insider/WoW.com, but in effect what kind of attack event that can occur has a place in a combat table. If you get high enough in some categories, such as Parry, it can push other attack possibilities right off the table. If you want to melt your brain like I have, you can find out more on your own at the www.wowwiki.com website.
 
What’s important to the discussion is that the Defense skill you need to push critical strikes off the table changes depending on the level of your attacker, in comparison to yours.
 
Bosses in level 80 raid instances are set at an effective level, for the sake of Defense and what you need to hit them, at level 83. Survival of the Fittest provides exactly enough protection from critical strikes to remove the possiblity that a level 83 raid boss could critically strike a level 80 Bear Druid, when properly specced. Yes, even if naked.
 
What Survival of the Fittest does NOT do is provide any of the other bonuses to Dodge, Parry or Block that Defense skill does.
 
Now, the reason Defense skill is not considered a primary stat for Bear tanks is the same reason they gave us SotF; Bears cannot Parry or Block attacks. Therefore, we were previously (in Burning Crusade) stacking tons of Defense Rating on our gear to become uncrittable just like every other tank class, but we weren’t getting any benefit from the Parry and Block portions of the itemization.
 
Yes, there was a lot of whining about this fact. Including from me.
 
I personally did not resent it all that much… because the perception at the time was that Bear tanks weren’t supposed to be viable in the first place. I was too busy working at pioneering Bear tanking and proving them wrong than in whining about my Defense Rating.
 
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
 
There’s a few things to keep in mind about the SotF. First, the crit rate of enemies 1, 2 or 3 levels above you rises at a normal rate. Starting at 4 levels or more above you, the chance that they can successfully crit you rises dramatically. It just takes off like a rocket. If you are level 76 tanking a level 80 opponent with SotF, expect to still be crit at times. Also expect yourself to miss a lot. SotF, as I said, was aimed at erasing the critical strikes from enemies three or less levels higher than you, the situation that max level Bear tanks would encounter in raids. It doesn’t make you crit immune from everyone as you level.
 
Second, Critical Strikes as mentioned are not the same as Crushing Blows.As far as I was aware, Crushing Blows were removed from the game entirely. They just don’t happen anymore. Maybe I’m wrong on that, I’m at work and can’t access research sites or log in to check records, but that is my understanding. I don’t believe it’s a question of level or gear or Talents, I believe that Crushing Blows themselves were simply removed. Maybe that’s only from level 71 – 80 content, though.
 
Finally, as far as the Defense stacking versus Dodge stacking. As I said, Bear tanks cannot Parry or Block.
 
This next bit requires understanding itemization a little bit. Gear that is item level 200 and blue (rare) quality has a certain number of possible stat points that can be spread amongst armor value and the other stats and abilities. An item that is level 200 and purple (epic) quality has a larger budget of points.
 
Either way, when comparing two items of item level 200 (epic) side by side, for the same equipment slot, they are each supposed to have an equivalent number of potential points that could be allocated to stats.
 
Therefore, when analyzing gear upgrades, if an item is very good, and comparable to another, but the difference between them is that one has Defense Rating, and the other has Dodge Rating, then the Dodge Rating one is considered more valuable to a Bear tank because none of the itemization points were wasted on stat benefits Bears don’t get. Bears get all the potential benefit from Dodge Rating, and only get the Dodge benefit portion of Defense Ratings’ Dodge, Parry, Block and reduced chance of Crit.
 
This is where you see the phrase “that item has wasted stats” for some gear, because if the item didn’t have points allocated to that stat, then maybe something useful on the gear would be higher instead.
 
Oh, and I’m not going to go into the point allocation of gear itemization any deeper. I could, like how points get allocated if there is only one stat on a piece of gear rather than two stats, or three. But I won’t because my head still hurts from having combat tables brought to mind. Hint; if all stats on the gear are useful, then having more than one stat on the gear provides more total benefit, because you get more stat per point allocated if it gets broken up among multiples. No, I don’t know why.You might see an item with 55 Agility, and another that has 35 Agility and 35 Stamina. Oh, and no, 1 Agility does not equal 1 Stamina as far as point allocation goes, Stamina is actually cheaper when allocated than other stats, so you might see a 35 Agility/35 Strength side by side with a 35 Agility/50 Stamina… sigh. Shut up, Bear, you don’t want to start that discussion. Right, shutting up now.
 
The end result is that I think I broke down all of this Dodge versus Defense stuff in greater detail in my sticky on the website sidebar about Level 80 Hit Rating, Expertise and Dodge. I may be wrong, though. If you’ve got more questions (or just want to chat), just respond in the comments.
 
Thanks for the email, Uruk!
I hope I answered your questions in some way!

Questions on threat generation

One of the most common emails I get is a request for help on basic threat generation strategies. I also get some terrible tales of the perception of Bear tanks as, well, sucking in threat generation.
We’ll see if the recent reduction in threat generation of Paladins and such has any long term impact on that perception, but the fact remains that I get a lot of folks that are concerned that they may not be doing the best they can to put out threat, or aren’t doing it the ‘right’ way.
Obviously, gear comes into question with these issues, and it’s hard to know what kind of situation people are in. Does the person worried about threat generation have enough Hit Rating and Expertise on their gear to make sure the hits are getting home when needed? Are they using Agility and Stamina AND Hit Rating and Expertise, as well as Crit and Attack Power, keeping a sensible balance between avoidance/mitigation and threat generation?
We don’t know. But what we CAN do is try and answer the question that is asked… what kind of advice can I give on threat generation for Bear tanks?
The email below is just one to represent the awesomeness that are you, my readers.
BBB,
 
First off I want to say thank you for writing a great blog. It has been a great help with getting me started with bear tanking. Which is a great change of pace from playing my hunter. Though I am running into an issue.
 
The issue I am having is maintaining threat in a group pull. My group is really good about letting me build a nice start but, as soon as they let the damage fly I start loosing agro. So what is the best way for me to keep ahead of them on threat besides them throttling down some. I use swip/maul and demoralizing roar on rotation. So any advice would be great.
 
I will also provide a link to my underwere so to speak if you have any questions about gear/spec.
 
And please keep on writing.
 
Thanks again
Direye

Direye, thank you for your email!

I might have answered some of your questions about how to generate threat in a previous post, but for the life of me I don’t know which ones might help, or where I would have gone over it in detail, so here are a few things to keep in mind.
 
1) Feral Faerie Fire costs no rage, and does a large amount of threat. You should compare it’s TPS as shown on Omen (addon) with other ‘one target’ abilities you have, such as Mangle or Lacerate. Depending on your gear, you may find that it’s every bit as good as a damage causing attack when used to maintain threat, and better than some.
 
2) On single targets, do not use Swipe. Instead, use a rotation that uses Mangle when it’s off cooldown, Feral Faerie Fire, and activate Maul EVERY time Maul is available. Maul is your single highest threat and damage generator. The downside to Maul is that it replaces one of your normal attacks, so it’s not an ‘instant on’ when you activate it. You activate Maul, and on your very NEXT normal attack action based on bear wing speed, you will Maul instead of the regular auto-attack. Since you generate Rage from normal auto-attacks based on damage done, but you do NOT receive Rage from damage done by a Maul (hey Blizzard, change that for me please) then Mauls are a tasty treat that may be too expensive to use in easymode sessions when the mobs aren’t hitting you for enough to generate Rage from damage received. Like, when farming BRD. Lacerate is good, and should be used when Mangle is on cooldown. The Glyph of Maul will help give you a free second Maul on another target when in a group, so even in a group fight, especially in a group fight, keep Maul going.
  • Feral Faerie Fire.
  • Maul on, Mangle.
  • Lacerate x3, keep Maul on, replace Lacerate with FFF or Mangle when off cooldown.
  • Repeat as needed.
3) With groups, you should have a primary kill target marked with a skull so most focused DPS is headed for that target. People with single target attacks will then have guidance on who to attack, and that of course is the mob you are applying Mangle and FFF and Lacerate and Maul on. The rest of the group you are keeping in line with Swipe as a AoE threat attack, and one other mob is getting the second Maul from your Glyph.
 
For single targets, then, an easy attack scheme is to pull with FFF, hit with Mangle initially when in range, activate Maul, Lacerate while Mangle is on cooldown, keep activating Maul when available, replace a Lacerate with FFF when it’s off cooldown, and replace a Lacerate with Mangle when it’s off cooldown.
 
For multiple mobs in a group, a typical attack scheme is to mark your primary threat target with a Skull, pull the group with FFF (or charge the entire group with Feral Charge if there are casters mixed in, so you can keep the entire group within range of your Swipe), open with a Swipe when in range to counteract initial healer group threat, Mangle, Maul, Swipe, Lacerate, Swipe, and in effect so long as you have more than two targets, use Swipe whenever it’s off cooldown but mix in your normal attacks on your primary threat target as normal. If your initial pull or Feral Charge left you with some mobs, like casters or the Faction Champion Hunter out of range, drag you butt over to them so your 360 degree Swipe radius will pick them up. Maybe target them and hit them with a FFF or Mangle before moving back to skull.
 
When you switch to a new main threat target, pop a Skull over his head to help the rest of the group know who to focus on next.
 
In groups, some folks will use AoE attacks like Volley or Blizzard, but others like Rogues and Ret Paladins will be all over one at a time. Giving them a Skull to help them focus on the target you’re dumping most of your threat on helps a lot.
 
For help in fast Skull marking in mid-fight, you can assign Skull to a keybinding directly from the Keybinding menu. Simply go to the Main Menu, choose the Keybinds option, and scroll through the list until you find markings like Skull, X and Moon. I have Skull on F1 and X on F2, and I rarely if ever use anything else. For those times when I will be using crowd control, I have Quickmarks (addon) available. With the keybinds, though, it’s easy to simply target and attack as normal, and tap a quick F1 to apply a Skull mark.
 
This is, seriously, a fast and dirty and completely strategy-free rundown on threat generation. The art, as with anything, is in how you handle various situations such as split groups. The mobs aren’t always in nice neat packs that come when you call. But this should get you started on testing your threat.
 
My suggestion to you is, armed with the above advice, go to a level 83 target dummy in a capital city, make sure you have Omen (addon) installed and open enough to display your TPS (threat per second), and then start actually USING these abilities. You’ll likely have to Enrage immediately before your cycle, and you might want to bring a Rage potion or three with so you have enough Rage to go for a bit, but watching your TPS as you go, and have the leisure time to make some changes to what you’re doing, will help get you accustomed to what works and doesn’t work.
 
I hope this helps!

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?

Sockets.

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?

Protadinbear

Ain’t he a handsome cuss?