Team Talk for all players from a tired Tank

I’ve talked about running instances from the point of view of a tank that wants to help other new tanks prepare themselves to do the best they can in groups.

I tend to focus on group play rather than soloing, and tanking rather than DPS or Healing. It’s what I mostly think my WoW related rantings on this blog are all about.

It’s what I do. Well, it’s what I do when I’m not doing something else.

I think it’s time to touch on first principles briefly.

I talk about group play in general because when you play solo, no matter how crazed or off the wall you may play, no matter how little you may know about your class spells, Talents, gear or playstyle, the only person’s time you affect is you.

If you want to try to level from 1 to 80 as a pacifist, never harming any other living digital creature… more power to you. Have fun! Send screenshots.

In group play, there are other people present who depend on you to act a certain way, play a certain way, and work towards a common goal together. You’re no longer just handicapping yourself; you’re bringing other people down with you.

So I talk about group play more, because in my mind playing well in groups in a multiplayer game is a higher priority that fine tuning solo performance. 

I talk about tanking because it was the single most challenging aspect of the game for me, personally, to learn when I started. I leveled as DPS Cat/Bear, and I raided as Healing at level 60 end game, but it wasn’t until I hit true Bear tanking in BC that I felt challenged… and rewarded for skillful play. It’s that feeling of satisfaction with Tanking as part of a group, and the enjoyment of doing something difficult very well, that led me to write guides and offer suggestions about it, to help others get started in a little seen aspect of the game and share the fun.

So, I talk about group play because I want to help people be the best member of their group that they can for everyone’e benefit, and I talk about tanking because that was the role of a group I personally found the most challenging to learn.

A statement of my tanking belief.

I feel that, as a member of the team in the role of the tank, it is my primary responsibility to do the best I can to be a team player, and work towards the success of the group. Everything else is built on the foundation of being a team player.

Building on the foundations of being a good team player, I feel that as a tank, it is my job to;

  • Keep all aggro from mobs on me instead of the team.
  • Regain lost aggro as quickly as possible to keep mobs from interfering with other members of the team.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the Healer to keep me alive through a fight.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the DPS to kill all mobs before I and the Healer are overwhelmed. 

Those are the core duties of the role. All are focused on being a good team player.

There are other aspects of playing a tank that may not be readily apparent, but when you think in terms of being a good team player, there are lots of things you can see to help.

Remember, my point is to approach the game with the attitude of being the best team player you can; to do what is within your power to ensure the group’s success, and to help everyone towards victory.

Examples of other things you can do as a tank to be a good team player;

  • Hold mobs physically stationary whenever possible so that melee DPS have an easier time of getting behind them. Melee DPS have to properly position themselves to achieve their most effective DPS.
  • Keep the style of your pull as consistent as possible to help your healer and DPS players anticipate what you are about to do (run in and turn around to face mobs away from the rest of the group, or turn to the side, or mark first and second kill targets, etc). This helps everyone else learn to anticipate what you will do, and be prepared for the best time to unleash their skills without pulling.
  • Move mobs and the party out of AoE effects as quickly as possible; don’t just get yourself out, reposition the mob so the DPS behind him are also free from pools/slime/kabooms.
  • Watch mana levels in the group and pause for clearly announced “mana breaks” when really necessary, so that Healers do not feel overly rushed from pull to pull. Encourage the Healer or other players to announce when they want a mana break, and do not listen to people who want to ignore the requests of other team members for a mana break. Only the player who is low on mana can decide for themselves when or if they need a mana break.
  • Pause before the very first instance pull to allow everyone time to buff.
  • Communicate clearly with the group, both with what you intend to do, and also what you would like others to do. Communication also includes asking if anyone is new to an instance, and providing tips before tricky pulls where appropriate.

These things are not written in stone as what a tank must do, but every single suggestion, if followed, can help contribute to a smoother run for the team.

If you are consistent, calm and clear, it helps to cut down on chaos in the party, and players that learn to know what to expect of your pulls will be that much faster in target selection and destruction.

Bringing the same principles to the other roles of a group.

What I listed above applies to tanks. Things to think about, things to watch as opportunities to help as a member of a team. There are many other things that tanks can do to help, as well. That’s why I’ve got a blog, to chat about them.

I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh the idea of good team work and group play in the minds of my readers.

It’s not just tanks that are responsible for being good team players. Every member of the team has a responsibility to do the best they can to contribute to the success of the entire run.

Talking about Threat

One of my first rants on this blog was about Damage Meters. The reason I ranted was because of the effect on a team. I believe that the obsession with reaching the top of Damage Meters indicates that the player is more concerned with scoring a high DPS number than he or she is with being a great team player, and that irritates me.

Let me be more specific. A lot of classes have threat reducing abilities. Paladins have Hand of Salvation, Kitties have Cower, Rogues have Feint and Vanish, Hunters have Feign Death and Misdirect, Mages have Ice Block, etc. Sure, not all classes do, but a lot do. There is no satisfactory reason to ignore the threat reducing tools of a class, because it is not the tank’s job to generate threat that exceeds every player’s maximum possible potential DPS. It’s not, and if you think it is, well, you’re wrong.

There is an excellent addon called Omen, which is a Threat Meter. If you install it, by default it will show you what your threat level is on your targeted mob, in comparison to other players, including the tank.

Even if you do not use Omen, WoW now has an option to enable a flashing red warning on the screen when you are pulling aggro on your target.

Even if you don’t use addons, there is still a way to get an indication when you are exceeding threat.

The most fundamental responsibility of DPS and Healer players as part of a team is to not pull aggro off of the tank. Period.

You can easily do this by using Omen, waiting for the tank to get at least one attack off on your targeted mob, and then opening with auto-attack or a low damage attack. Then you glance at Omen to see where you stand on threat. You do as much damage as you can, up to and not exceeding the threat the tank has on the mob.

If you are capable of doing 7500 DPS, but the tank is not capable of matching and exceeding your threat, then it is your responsibility to throttle back your DPS to the point where you can attack without pulling.

If you, as a DPS player, are not capable of throttling back your threat to match the tank, then you, not the tank, SUCK as a team player.


Because yes, while the tank has taunting abilities, those abilities are better used as emergency pulls when adds run in, or when someone gets a surprise critical strike that pushes them over the top,NOT as something to be used on every single cooldown just for you, personally.

If every DPS player in a group is pulling aggro off the tank, and the tank only has one taunt, then there are two other players that are eating their mobs, and while we can say we don’t care, you pull it you tank it, the fact is, this is creating chaos. It is stressing the Healer. It is stressing the Tank. It is causing the run to be a big, crappy mess.

This is the fault of the player that regularly pulls aggro. None other. And apologizing in advance that you’re going to be pulling off the tank regularly because you’re “lol so leet”, just says to me, “Hi, I don’t actually know how to play my class, but look at all the neat loot my friends got for me!”

Do you think I respect you because of your gear score, when you don’t have any idea how to manage your threat ina  group? Or, even better, don’t care? I have far more respect for any player that tries their best to be a good team player no matter what their gear. Far more

Every player in a group should be starting with the idea, “What can I be doing to help the group succeed?” If you’re not, why are you grouping? Chances are high it’s because of selfish motives. And I have no respect for that, either.

For DPS, here are some tips.

Watch your threat, and take care to not regularly exceed the threat output of the tank. You can use Omen, or again with the addon plug, you can use a Nameplate addon like Tidy Plates with Threat Plates. It works great for DPS as well. If you see you are about to pull aggro, use a threat dump like Feign Death, switch to auto-attacking for a bit, or switch your attentions to a different target.

Be prepared to protect the healer. Try to watch for adds that run after the Healer. Yes, DPS players can and should try to intercept mobs that escape the Tank to head for the Healer. That can easily happen if there are adds that are pulled, but have no threat done to them. Such adds are loose, and will go after the Healer as soon as the Healer creates healing threat.

Some specific suggestions that you used to see all the time; Hunters hanging out near the Healer, and dropping Ice Trap in front of the Healer to automatically grab the first add that runs after him. Warlocks that have their blueberry taunt mobs off the Healer (if it’s out) when they run in. Priests can Shackle if it’s Undead. Paladins can either bubble the Healer, or cast Hand of Salvation on them (or on other, super high threat generating DPS). And on and on.

Be prepared with your own bandages and consumables like Healing Potions. Yes, there is a group healer, and I’m sure they’re doing their best. But every Healer has priorities, and if the Healer is overtasked keeping the Tank or themself alive, you might not get a Heal when you want, and you should be prepared to spot heal yourself.

Don’t run ahead of everyone else to push the pace. It’s a team effort. If you’re in that much of a hurry to lead, then make a tank and find someone to heal you. If you are not the tank, then it is not your job to pull unless specifically expected to do so by friends or asked to by the tank.  It is not funny, it’s not cute, and it’s not helpful. It’s being an asshat in the minds of every team player I know. If you don’t like the pace of the random you got, then only run with friends. If you don’t have any friends willing to run with you, then maybe you need to think about why that is.

There are so many things that DPS players can do to help make a run smoother, it boggles the mind. Heck, I didn’t even mention using CC on loose mobs that the Tank hasn’t grabbed yet, or using other class abilities like Tremor Totem for Shamans when fighting mobs that Fear regularly, (or Priests likewise using Fear Ward on the tank when fighting a mob that Fears), or Druids Innervating Paladin tanks or Healers that are low on mana mid-fight, or…

Well, you get the point, don’t you? If you’re trynig to be a good player, browse your spellbook. You might find something there neat to try.

Priests using Mind Control to have mobs buff the team? Ever try it?

There is more to being a good team player for DPS than going all out on their attack rotation the second the tank pulls, and maxing the DPS Meters.

A few suggestions for Healers;

Watch your threat. Healers DO create threat. You gain threat for the healing that is actually done on your targets, divided amongst all the mobs currently aware of the target you are Healing.

If the Tank is running forward at the group of mobs, and is at max health, then if you cast a HoT, the HoT does zero healing on the first tick, and does zero threat. The threat does not start until there is actually damage to be healed, and only does threat per point healed, not based on the maximum potential healing the spell could have done.

If the Tank is below max health before the pull, you cast a HoT, and the Tank runs forward within the awareness range of the mobs, then if the first tick hits before the Tank has done ANY damage, every mob just aggroed on the Healer, and start running for, or begins casting attacks AT the Healer.

You can prevent this by waiting until a target or the Tank has done some threat before you heal them. Tanks in particular should be allowed to attack once or twice before you unload heals and HoTs on them.

Watch your mana level. Use mana regeneration abilities to top up on the fly, or be prepared to drink between pulls quickly. Others should try to give you time to regain mana, but be proactive in looking for opportunities to keep yourself topped up.

If you queued as a Healer, make healing the entire group your priority, and NOT dealing DPS. If you are so eager to top the DPS meters, queue as a DPS. The group needs to be able to count on your heals being there in an emergency. If you can drop some DPS into the mix, that’s fine, but never let it get in the way of performing your prime duty; keeping the team alive.

A few general suggestions for EVERYONE.

Be repaired, be armed with your proper Reagents, and BUFF PEOPLE. Few things say “lazy selfish bugger” to me quite as clearly as someone that just can’t be bothered to buff anyone else on the run. I don’t care if you think it’s necessary or not, the point is that as a team player, you have a way to contribute to the overall success of the group. So buff people.

Don’t queue up for a run unless you intend to stay for the entire length of the run. Within reasonable limits, of course. If the group is just completely fail, and you try and try to pull things together and people just aren’t willing to listen or work together, then no, I’m not saying stick it out for four hours. I am specifically saying, don’t queue for a group, get a group, start the run, and ten minutes later announce “Whoops, raid time, gotta go, bye!” and drop group.  That’s bullshit. If you don’t have ten minutes, then you don’t have time. Don’t queue.

I have never said all this stuff before, at least in so many words, because in my heart I thought everyone that wanted to group, wanted to do their best to be a team player.

I’m writing this in the hopes that people really DO want to be a good team player, but don’t understand how.

What I’m afraid of is that most people that act like selfish asshats in teams do so intentionally, because they really don’t give a damn about anyone else. Nothing will help that situation, except an ever-expanding ignore list.

I’ll end this with one very serious statement.

Having a high gear score does not make you a good player. Putting out 15k DPS, having 100K Health, or being able to heal a Squirrel through a Hurricane does not make you a good player. I will not kiss your ass. Those stats are loot based. Static. They say nothing of how good a player you are, they only indicate what kind of content you’ve run successfully in the past with other people. 

What they really tell us is that you’ve run in a group that had some good players in it. It tells us nothing about YOU.

What makes you a good player is how you behave as part of a team, in every team you join. You have to prove yourself fresh every single time you join a group.

In WoW, just as in real life, nobody cares how you played on your other character, on your main, in your raid group, or with your friends last week. All we care about is, how are you playing right now?

I invite all other bloggers to think about what their favorite class can do in terms of being a strong supportive team player, and write a post to help guide folks along those lines.

I know it seems, well, obvious, but seriously, based on the runs I go on it’s past time to be clear about this stuff, and bring team play back to the front of people’s awareness.


You think consumer Customer Service is bad?

Offtopic Bearwall rant!

Okay, a lot of consumer level Customer Service people are pretty wonky, but when you step up into commerical purchasing, it’s a whole new ball game.

In the comsumer market, you might think that when you’re buying a $120 DVD player, sure you deserve some reasonable customer service help if the thing doesn’t work, but you don’t expect someone to hop in a lear jet and fly out from corporate headquarters to hold your hand, right?

You’ve got certain expectations. You figure someone should really try to help you, but you know that, in the end, it’s a $120 DVD player, the person you’re talking to on the phone didn’t actually break it personally when it went out the door, they’ve got rules they’ve got to follow, they’re not being paid all that well in the first place unless customer service is only one facet of the responsibilities of their position, and if you’re being a tool to them in the first place, well…

What about consumer Customer Service for things other than goods? What about monthly services, like, oh, let’s just say for example cable internet?

That’s where you start getting into interesting territory in the consumer side of things, right?

Because I know NONE of you have ever been trying to log into WoW 30 minutes before raid time, only to find out your internet was dead, had no way of letting anyone, you know, online know what was wrong with you, and had to frantically call customer support for your internet service provider, desperate to get it fixed.

On the line is your current irritation at a momentary interruption in service, weighted against your inherent laziness when it comes to changing service providers. They know they don’t have to be good enough to win your business, they just have to not suck so much that they piss you off enough to throw off your laziness and switch.

God help you if they’re the only high speed game in town. Sucker.

Someone should actually do an audio montage of those phone conversations. That’s got to be one hell of a sub-cultural bubble, right there.

Protip: If you’re afraid it’ll be a problem in the future, have a “swim buddy” in your guild that you share cell phone numbers with, so if your internet goes out, you’ve got someone to get in touch with and let ’em know.

Okay, fine, so everyone has their customer service horror story.

When you step up into the commercial arena, you’d expect things might be a touch different, wouldn’t you? Sure, a $120 DVD player is one thing, but drop a few hundred thousand on some gear, you’d expect just a teensy bit more, right?

The first change is, in most cases, you don’t ever go to a store to make your selection or final purchase.

Instead, you start with a specific need, you identify companies that make products that fit those needs, you contact their sales offices, make appointments to meet with them, sales people fly out to meet with you and do the hard sell, you read their brochures, check schematics and characteristic data, and in some cases actually visit other customers already using the equipment, to see how they like it, see how they’re using it, and observe it in action.

When you’re contemplating buying a $250,000 to $1 million+ machine made in another country that will be designed and built from scratch based on your requirements, and that will have a several month lead time, preceeded by preparing a place in your production facility with appropriate power, water, pneumatic and exhaust capacity, it’s a whole other experience than walking into Best Buy or Sears.

If YOU were preparing to drop a cool million in another companies’ pockets, you might think that they’d treat you a nice, right?

And the sales people do.

But once the sale is made, what about when you need something later on? Like the machine ain’t working right and you need help figuring it out? Or a part broke and you need a new one?

Do you think when you call in to customer support on that big ticket machine, you get treated the same way the sales guy treated your company president?

Oh, hell no.

The majority of us in this position don’t expect or want trips to Cancun or other kickbacks when we call in with a problem, either.

We just want someone to do the bare minimum. Help us get going again.

What you don’t see the upper management types who will make the final decision considering is what happens AFTER the sale.

What is their support like?

What happens when you need parts to fix it when it breaks down?

See, when you buy a custom high-cost machine like this, you’re chaining yourself to their repair parts system. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. They built it, and they intend to make money off of you. BIG TIME.

You’ve got two choices when something breaks down. Buy it directly through them, or try to find it somewhere else on your own.

If you buy it directly from them, then if you’re lucky, they have some in stock, or know where to get it already, so you know it won’t take that long to get it. Maybe. BUT, they are buying it somewhere else, or having it made by a fabrication shop somewhere else to their specs, and then adding a fee on top of it before selling it to you.

If you find it direct from the manufacturer, it may be a lot cheaper, but it will often have a long lead time… like weeks or even months before you’ll get it.

Especially if you just bought a piece of equipment designed and manufactured in another country. Guess what? Japanese engineers seling machines to the American market aren’t known for looking for American solutions to engineering problems. The parts they choose to build from are sold, guess where? Japan!

So when you call in looking for parts, where do you think they’re coming from? That’s right!

Another fun issue is, companies don’t want you to go around ’em for cheaper parts. A lot of companies work deals with the manufacturer to use custom part numbers on their labels, and only sell those part numbers to the guy who makes the machines. You call, say, Koganei in Japan looking for a new air cylinder, and tell them the part number, and Koganei sees in their system that part number is for something they only sell to Toshiba… and they tell you to talk to Toshiba, ’cause they won’t sell ’em to you. You want one to fix your machine. Toshiba buys them by the hundred. Guess who they’d rather piss off.

And lots of manufacturers don’t want to deal directly with the end user. They’d prefer dealing with a middleman willing to put up with your bullshit. So they don’t sell to end users at all. They only sell to people that are set up as regional or local distributors. So, you have to find a distributor in your area… and hope that person is willing to help your one time purchase.

And if they are, you tell the distributor you want an air cylinder, they say sure, they email the manufacturer in Japan, the manufacturer in Japan sends the email to a translation department, a few days later they get it back, they get some info on your part, send their reply to the translator, then get it back, then send it to the distributor, who calls you, if they even remember you since a week and a half has passed since you asked for a quote on price, availability and lead time.

Now you can place an order.

Nice, huh?

But okay, you deal with what you got.

What blows my fragile little mind is how hard it is, even if everything works according to plan, in GETTING THE DAMN PARTS.

Every day, every single day, about half my time is spent calling people and asking where the stuff I ordered is, days, weeks or even months after I was promised I’d receive it.

That’s exactly right. This is not time spent ordering items.

No, this is time spent asking where the (%^ the shit you promised me is, damnit!

You won’t let me order it from somewhere else? Well, damnit, then you’d better sell it to me when I need it!


“Hello, yes, I do have a question. I’m trying to find out what the status is on the part I ordered on PO# P349087. Yes, yes I did order it. No, I’m afraid you’re wrong, I did place the order. Oh, you have no record of that on file?  I must have faxed it to the wrong location, or the fax didn’t go through, so it’s my fault you don’t have it? Well, what would you say if I told you that thanks to the last three times you’ve pulled this same exact shit, Amanda, I now document all phone conversations, take down all names of people from your company that I talk to, and that I email AND fax in all orders I place, and then call back to verify your companies’ receipt of said order before I consider it ordered? Do you remember the order now? Would you like me to fax all of that documentation in to you now to helpfully remind you?”

“Still don’t have any record on your end that I ordered that $5000 servoamp, huh? Must’ve been one of those famous computer glitches in the database, right? Dog ate the homework? ”

“Oh, is it a ten week lead time on getting one from Japan? Really? And now that it’s really ordered I should wait for ten more weeks before I call back if I don’t see it?”

“Yeah… that’s what you told me ten weeks ago. Thanks!”


You think I’m joking. I bet you do.

Here’s another example.

I am sitting here, telling this person on the phone, “My company has one of your machines, and cash. Your company made the machine, and presumably wants cash. Tell you what. Your machine broke. I need the part. You buy the part from someone else, and keep the part in stock. You actually charge us $150.36 for a part that the manufacturer charges us $36.54 each (real freaking example from 5 minutes ago), but I’m willing to pay you that extra $115 bucks right now because you have one in stock, right now, and the manufacturer wants a two week lead time to ship from Japan. So here’s what we’ll do. I’ll order the part, you’ll put the part in a box, toss it at your UPS guy for overnight express, and we’ll pay you. Okay? We get the part tomorrow, the machine will be back up and running after one day of downtime, and you’ll get money at a truly bullshit markup. Okay?”

You give me goods. I give you cash. You’ve made stupid profit because your design engineer used a substandard part for a high stress application in the first place, so the parts wear out frequently.

Sounds good, right?

And yet… AND YET… a week later, I’ll have made 10 phone calls asking WHERE THE HELL THE PART IS. I base this knowledge off of past history with this company.

Third example. This one is still going on.

We’ve got three machines made by a German-based manufacturing company. They’ve been in the plant about ten years, they cost a ton of money, and none of them have ever worked quite right. A lot of money has been sunk into these machines over the years, trying to get them to work reliably.

In particular, one machine has a Rube Goldberg invention for an outfeed carriage. I’ve been trying to get it working properly. 

About 5 months ago, I decided to start from scratch with perfect components, to make sure everything was set at zero per the manufacturers’ design, and then if things weren’t quite right we’d redesign things ourselves to increase reliability.

I ordered all the parts from Germany. I had to. They have all of the build drawings for fabrication. They are the manufacturer themselves, nobody else. They hold the keys to the kingdom.

We get the parts, we install them after the two month lead time, it still doesn’t work with a damn.


So I’m going over schematics, I’m reading exploded parts diagrams and design drawings, and I come across a mention, in a faxed memo in one manual’s folder pocket, about an engineer visit from Germany to install some modifications in 2007.

A what to the who?

I gather up all the manuals and documentation, and sure enough, in one manual out of the entire set, there is a note that the parts list shown is obsolete due to modifications designed and installed by the manufacturer to correct the very issue we’ve been dealing with.

But those parts as described ain’t in the machine, and haven’t been since I’ve been here. They do not exist on site. But now I do have their new parts list with a description of what they did.

The manual showing the changes was in our engineering library, not the maintenance OR production libraries. Nobody in the maintenance department back then, apparently, was involved in this project, and none of those people work here anymore now, anyway.

So, I’ve been fighting these problems for a year now, and I’ve spent thousands of dollars ordering things to repair this machine from the manufacturer, things that wear out too bloody fast, and here I find out that the very person in Germany that I have been talking to, and ordering from, is the person that according to this memo I found designed and installed an upgrade to permanently fix their machines’ original bad design.

I’ve been reinventing the wheel. And this guy has been letting me. “Oh no, no idea what could possibly be wrong, are you sure you set it up right?”

We even, and I’m not freaking kidding, we even flew this guy out from Germany to look at the machine and provide us with suggestions on making improvements. After all, he’s the expert, right?

When he came here, he acted as though it was the first time he’d ever heard of such a problem with this machine.

And he got away with it, because none of us were here when it happened. BUT, he also never volunteered any information about the modifications he had designed, the parts they had installed, nothing. He let us sit and spin.

So here I am. I need this thing fixed. So I tell him two months ago I need to order a full set of the parts from the modification, the CORRECT parts, so we can implement it. Again.

We’ll worry about how this all fell apart some other time. Fix the damn problem.

It’s been two months since I ordered the parts. Two months. I have followed up on this every week. Hell, several times a week.

I still… STILL do not have an estimated SHIP DATE, let alone the parts in my hand.

A month ago, I started telling them that if they are THAT busy, give me the design drawings, we’ll fab ’em ourselves. They refuse to give design drawings to customers, because then… hold onto your hats, folks… then the customer would not buy their parts from their company anymore! Their company would lose revenue!

Never mind that there is no way in hell we’re ever buying a machine from them ever again. I’ve made sure of that.

At the moment, I’ve actually cut away that section of the machine, and modified it to use a belt driven conveyor with a variable speed drive I designed and installed so we can run. It works. It ain’t pretty, but it works.

It blows my mind. It really does.

And now that I’ve ranted about this… I am going to pick up my phone and give them ANOTHER call, to see if and when I will ever get my parts.


I just don’t understand these people. I’m literally giving them enough money for some bloody-be-damned milled plates and a rail that, for the same amount of money, I could use to buy a car, drive it to the East Coast, buy a plane ticket, fly to Germany, rent a car, drive to their factory, and BEAT THEIR ASS IN THEIR OWN F’ING LOBBY. And then come home again afterwards, tired but satisfied.

Don’t think I haven’t considered it.

Oh, and yes, in case you’re wondering, my unit of value when making commercial value comparisons is based on car equivalents. “I could buy your air cylinder… or I could buy a new Hyundai. I think, just possibly, your air cylinder might be a bit overpriced. It’s 6 steel plates, a spring, a bronze bushing and two threaded holes for quick disconnect air fittings. And you don’t even provide the fittings. And you think this is worth the price of a Hyundai?”

Holy shit.

Look, if you’re going to put yourself intentionally in the position of being the only possible source for repair parts, PROVIDE THE DAMN PARTS!!!

Oh, as an FYI… this is why a proper maintenance management program involves analyzing machines for expected wear items and critical parts based on expected lead times, parts costs, and downtime. You figure out what is important, what you can’t live without if it breaks, how long it’d take to get the parts if they were ordered, how important machine downtime is, and then you build an on-site parts inventory to hold the most important stuff. And you also try to find alternate sources of supply for EVERYTHING.


A Call to End Prohibition – Sell Gold Now!

This last weekend, it was revealed that account hackers have successfully bypassed Authenticator security using “man in the middle” attacks; interposing themselves between player and server, and taking the player’s input for themselves, telling the player they failed to login, and then using the info themselves to get in and change things to suit themselves.

Today, I received an email from Intravax, who had a harrowing story to tell;

We had 3 of our members’ accounts stolen within the last month. No major damage as there are caps to what ppl are allowed to withdraw from the vault.

Then one of our officers got hit and that did a bit more damage, although it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be replaced in a week or 2.

Then, this Monday on 3/1/2010 it was like our WoW version of Sept 11th. All our officers got hit, including our GL (each of us have authenticators) and 6 other guildies.

The hackers were like a virus and multiplied by immediately inviting several dozen other characters and promoting them all to the highest rank possible, and we were cleaned out and all our toons were deleted (most of us had at least 3-4 Lvl 80’s all geared in T9 or above). As an added twist to the gut, before the toons were deleted the hackers used them to spam in /trade and /general for their gold selling companies, thereby getting our accounts suspended our reputation tarnished.

All 6 tabs of our vault were filled to the brink with top level flasks, gems, enchants, crafting mats, buff food, etc.  Additionally, we had over 75k gold which was donated by the officers and guild members to offset the costs of all the crafting materials that were donated.

Is it a claim made by a reader, impossible for me to confirm? Yes.

Do I believe the writer? Yes. Yes, I do. The entire email was very well written, it wasn’t asking for any kind of action or publicity on my part. Intravax was just letting me know what had happened to him, his friends and their casual guild, and giving me a heads up to be careful with my own casual guild bank settings, so that the chances of the same thing happening to Sidhe Devils might be reduced.

Thank you, Intravox. I can assure you, having been the victim of account hacking years ago myself, before Burning Crusade was released, I know at least a little of how it feels to come in and find that your character or account is trashed.

In my case, the hacking happened in mid-session, Christmas Eve several years ago, while I was on vent with friends in Undead Strat doing, as I recall, a timed Baron run. So, I got to hear, live and in person, the play-by-play details as my friends followed my character, still all in party together, through hearthing from Eastern Plaguelands/Strat Undead to Ironforge, watched me strip naked, and then, still in party with my main, watched as party chat showed my character D/E’ing all my stuff , mailed the mats off… and then followed my character as it ran back and forth from the bank to the mailbox, sending off all my stuff to someone else.

At least my character wasn’t deleted.

Merry Christmas, Windshadow!

Talk about wanting to just quit the game in disgust. That right there is a feeling of violation that is difficult to overcome. The emotional aspect, quite apart from the inconvenience of lost items, characters or gold that might be returned after an investigation, is hard to describe.

What is it? Why does this keep happening, despite the best efforts of Blizzard to prevent it?

Sophisticated methods for hacking player accounts are designed, developed, tested and implemented.

This represents a significant investment in time and resources on someone’s part.

What would be the incentive to cause folks to go to such extended lengths to get access to your account?

Here is my assumption; real world money is the incentive.

It is my assumption, my theory, that the majority of hacked accounts are performed by gold sellers looking for inventory to sell to a willing market, and not malicious punk kids with too much time on their hands.

A market of consumers that will seek them out and offer them real world currency in exchange for virtual world gold.

I don’t buy gold, and you don’t buy gold, and nobody you have ever known has ever bought gold… and yet, somehow… people still make money selling gold.

Funny, isn’t it?

It’s my understanding that there are several ways gold sellers acquire the gold they offer to fulfill orders.

First, there are people that work directly for gold sellers, that go out and farm and play the auction house to develop gold.

Second, there are people who may be regular players like anyone else, but they work as affiliates, independant ‘stringers’, and when they have gold available to sell, they contact the gold sellers directly and offer it to them… for less than the gold seller will flip it for to the buyer. The gold seller has the website contacts to sell, the stringer has someone they know to sell to when they have some extra.

Methods one and two, as I described them, are fairly safe for the gold seller, but they represent an investment, an expenditure. They have to either pay someone to play to harvest the gold directly, or pay a stringer to get their supply.

The third method is to hack a stranger’s account, loot all their stuff, ship it off to a third party to clearance it, and then delete the account.

This is fast, and aside from developing the hacking method and identifying the target, inexpensive on the part of the gold seller. Either the account is hacked or not, and with guild banks, the potential score goes beyond access to one player’s account.

This business all revolves around the fact that players have something that has a real world monetary value, and there are those out there that have the means and the desire to take from others to enrich themselves. And even better… where are the cops to prosecute them for the stolen goods?

“Excuse me officer, but I had $1500 in property stolen last night.”
“Oh, really? Tell me, where did the crime take place?”
“On Kael’thas, Alliance side. They got everything. Wiped me clean out. They got away with over 25,000 gold, enchanting mats, Frozen Orbs and epics with a street value of $1500. And they defaced my property by deleting my characters!” 
“Uh…. huh. Get the hell out of my sight, nutball.”

In almost all cases, I would be willing to bet that it is not a vindictive or malicious act; I really believe it is the real world monetary benefit that keeps them doing this.

So long as you have something they want, something that is valuable to them, and there is no actual risk involved to them in taking it, then they will continue to plot means of stealing you blind.

I would like to propose a possible solution.

Blizzard, please, open an official micro-transaction store and just sell the gold yourself.

Do it.

No limits on how much, make it legal, and price it so low that it’s undercutting the gold sellers.

Players are somehow able to find gold sellers online, so I’ve got to imagine, since you’ve got computers and the internet yourselves, that you could figure out where they are and how much they charge.

Give the player, the person that seems unable to tear themselves away from buying gold, a legitimate, safe and dependable location to get it from.

Remove any reason someone may have to visit a gold seller outside of Blizzard.

Tell the players, if they really cannot stand to farm gold for epic flying or that awesome epic hammer on the AH themselves, you will give them a place to go where they know they’re getting the best deal, the transaction will be safe, they will not be subject to viruses or hacking, and they will not be risking an account ban.

On the flip side, make it clear that if you DO catch anyone buying gold or selling gold outside their own store, you WILL still ban their account.

I didn’t want to make the obvious analogy with prohibition and alcohol… but seriously. If players, regardless of what the consequences may be to them, continue to go give the gold sellers money, then the gold sellers will continue to find ways of getting it to give.

Remove the incentive. Take away their payday. Reduce their market to nothing.

Make them go find someone else to rip off.

Now, I’m not naive. I know that the WoW economy is very involved, and Blizzard does a lot to try and balance the availability of gold through play with the number of things that you can spend it on. Blizzard is a world economy in scope, and they have to do a lot of work behind the scenes to battle inflation.

That being said… I think, purely my own opinion but what the heck, on a blog that’s what you get, pure opinion, but I think I can safely say people are sick and tired of wondering if today is the day some thief has hacked their account.

Just do it. Cut out the middle man, sell the gold yourself, and call it a day.

I won’t buy it, but someone out there sure as heck will, and you’d be performing a valuable service for the community if you can finally find some way of cutting the gold sellers off at the knees.

The journey to the dark side ain't complete, but it's slouching along

Ah, the rush of joy from the first few weeks of the new LFG!

How quickly it turns sour in the face of reality… or in this case, asshats.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I know my experiences are starting to mirror those Das Panzercow shared yesterday.

I’ve mostly been grouping with Windshadow the Druid, and that had given me a skewed perspective.

The very first couple days of 3.3, sure I did some LFG on my Paladin as DPS, but everyone and their little brother was online trying it out then.

Now, things have matured, Emblems have been won, and the self-centered attitudes of so many people are starting to come out, like stink rising off of… well, you know.

My Druid is dual-specced as Tank and Healer.

As a Tank and Healer both, I had long experience in running all Heroics that had been out successfully, frequently with guild members that had new alts. With the new LFG channel, all that happened was that in the pugs, most often there would be at least one raider that had better gear than I was used to seeing, so the runs, if anything, got faster.

Queueing up for LFG, as a Healer, I generally saw an instance pop in under two minutes, if that long. As a tank, it takes about 1 millisecond.

The longer queues would come when Cassie and I wanted to play together, and we’d group and join as Healer/DPS combo. Sometimes, it would take as long as five minutes.

Awww. Yep, I said I had a skewed perspective, right?

Switch to my Hunter. I was looking, and saw that my Hunter had 29 Conquest Emblems, and nothing at all worth buying from Conquest or Valor. Nada.

BUT… with just a few random Heroics, I could get enough Triumph to downgrade everything into an Heirloom Trinket. Still don’t have two of both Heirloom Trinkets, so hey! Cool! I could get there with just three or four random Heroics!

Yeah… welcome to the world of solo DPS queued for LFG. 15 minute to 25 minute wait times.

Damn, was I spoiled on my Druid.

So, now I can see first hand that, yes, it’s all much, much better than before, but it’s certainly not responsive equally to all roles. And really, how could it be?

If you’ll recall, my prediction prior to 3.3 was that solo DPS would be able to get a group far faster, but I never imagined that 20 minutes would seem long. I stated that I’d just be delighted if I could get a group without being online for two hours in the channel, and hell yes, that wish has been fulfilled.

I’m seeing more than just differing wait times, though. I’m seeing, as I said above, a rapid increase in asshattery. Or maybe laziness.

We could debate the RNG factor affecting what instances we get, and our suspicions that Blizzard has, ahem, weighted some to crop up more than others. But I’m sure it’s not the case. Ahem.

I’ll just throw my paranoia into the ring by saying I’ve had Utgardt Pinnacle, Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and OMG Oculus a LOT more often than anything else. And I still haven’t seen Culling of Strat, one of my favorites.

That’s not actually a complaint, since I like Lightning, Pinnacle and Stone. It’s just an observation, when Cassie and I see the loading screen, I believe her direct quote these days can be counted as being, “What, are you kidding me, Halls of Stone AGAIN?!?”

I tried to do my Hunter in LFG a couple days ago… I had Oculus for my first of the day, and as soon as the Tank zoned in to see where we were, he left party. Within 5 minutes of waiting for another tank, the party fell apart.

So I went and did other things.

Later that day, I went into LFG again. After my 20 minute wait, I got… Oculus again.

The new tank left the group again.

Got Azjol-Nerub after that. Two DPS both declined the group without even seeing what the instance was going to be, and when they got replaced, one of those DPS and the Tank left as soon as we zoned in.

Yes, in Azjol Nerub.

A Death Knight switched to tank spec, we re-joined LFG, got another DPS… and THAT DPS left group as soon as entering the instance. After that a Ret Pally came in and, OMG, stayed and we could run the place.

As we ran, the Tank and the Healer (a Shaman) took turns sniping bitchily at each other. The Healer kicked things off by being snarky at the tank’s gear, the tank got defensive in reply by playing the “I quit WoW for a year and only just got back so that’s why my gear sucks” card, then the Healer responded with questions concerning noobness about the tanks’s skill after so long away, then the tank would comment that at least he could tank and chew gum at the same time, etc etc ad nauseaum.

The whole run, two different people from two different servers entirely, bitching at each other. For No. Apparent. Reason.

The run lasted about 12 minutes from first pull to dead Anub. Okay, maybe it was longer, but that was a seriously fast speed run, everyone had over 3k DPS, including the tank… we even accidentally pulled Hadronox before he web wrapped the stairs because the tank didn’t know any better, and we still pulled it off.

Yeah, what the hell are these two crackheads bitching about? I have no idea.

But come on.

This trend, of tanks in particular leaving the party and taking the deserter debuff if the Instance is not to their liking, is happening with an ever accelerating pace.

Welcome to the world of primadonna rockstar tanks that think that the world really does revolve around them.

Nothing in the game is serving to disabuse them of that notion, anymore. Want a run as a tank? You can get one whenever the whim strikes. Don’t like what you get? Why not leave, there’s always another one whenever the fancy takes you.

A solo DPS trying to get a group in good faith, willing to stick out a run, will wait from 10 to 20 minutes after he joins LFG.

A tank looking for a quick and easy run can get an instance immediately, see what it is, get pissy, “Aw, AN again?” and leave group, and by the time their deserter debuff times out, that DPS is just getting his first group.

I was playing with PetEmote in Dalaran yesterday, PetEmote has been updated for Patch 3.2 and I configured mine for Voytek the Spirit Bear, and while testing my emotes, I saw this said in Trade Chat:

“Enjoy the runs in LFG while you can, noobs, as soon as all the Tanks get the last of the Triumph and Frost they want, and the new bosses are unlocked in Icecrown, you’re never gonna see another tank again. They’ll be raiding with their guilds and getting Frost and you’ll be shit out of luck.”

Well, I guess all tanks raid then, right?

Because guilds need SO MANY tanks, that everyone that wants to tank gets to.

Oh, wait… raiding guilds only need two, MAYBE three tanks in a 25 person raid.

Well, I’m sure that out of 25 people, only two or three ever really want to raid anything. I’m sure.

What happens when there is a scarcity of a commodity, and there are tangible benefits to be derived from providing that commodity?

Someone identifies it and fills the need.

In this case, my simple prediction is that as tanks continue to be scarce, more people seeing long wait times as DPS will dual spec if possible, and start gearing up a tank spec. Then they will expoit the fact that tanks get instant groups, and run to their heart’s content.

Please keep in mind, I never said they’d be GOOD tanks. 🙂

As was pointed out by Panzercow, the new world order as far as most groups go, is zerg the content, ignore Crowd Control, and blame the Healer if someone dies.

I did a random last night with Cassie, I was healing, and we got Heroic ToC.

The tank was a Bear tank, and we had the Hunter, Rogue and Mage.

The Bear tank stood in the poison puddle. Never moved.

I’m healing my butt off, since I feel it is my job NOT to just keep everyone alive, but instead to keep everyone at 100%. If a single Health bar dips, I get pissed. Lose health on ME, will you! We’ll just see about that.

On a related note, I hate Warlocks. There you are, keeping everyone alive fighting the trash after Ick in Heroic Pit of Saron, the Flamewraiths are AoEing everyone and porting and the tank isn’t on them, they’re not getting interrupted, and why the hell is it that one bastards’ health keeps plummeting like a stone?

Why, the Warlock is Life Tapping to get mana back as he struggles to be leet DPS, of course. While standing in the AoE fire. That prick.

Anyway, so Heroic ToC, Bear tank is standing unmoving in the puddle of poison, just standing there. Cassie is melee DPS and she’s not able to both get on the mobs AND avoid standing in the puddle. Cassie is bitching to me about the noob tank that is too stupid to get out of the green bloody-be-damned fire, and I’m agreeing “yes dear” as I’m actually reduced to spamming Nourish on the tank to keep him alive.

The fight is over, nobody died, loot box appears.

The Bear tank asks how he’s doing tanking.

I do a /inspect, out of curiosity. His gear is a pretty solid mix of iLevel 200 epics and a few Triumph items right off my list. A Darkmoon Card: Berserking trinket seems an odd choice, but really, not bad. Certainly more than adequate for Heroic ToC.

Out of politeness, I accentuate the positive, and mention that he held aggro very well.

I am having a hard time thinking of how to politely phrase the concept, “Next time you might want to get your furry butt out of the green puddles so DPS can get it stuck in” when he says, and I kid you not…

“Oh good. And great heals! I knew you were a great healer when I saw I’d been standing in the poison and I didn’t have to move because my health wasn’t going down.”


Way to encourage them, Bear. Nicely done. Dumbass.

If I’d let him die, or even let his health hover towards the low end, maybe he would have been inspired to work more on his mobility next time, or pop his cooldowns.

But no, I kept him alive, and reinforced the idea that you can brute force things, and it’s okay. Zerg, zerg, zerg.


Please, if you have never tanked before and want to step forward and join the ranks of the new tanks, please.

Do so. Do so without regret, and without fear.

But here are some tips. Serious tips, not snarky ones.

First, if you CAN gear up from going as a different spec on LFG in Heroic, by all means do so. There is no shame in running as DPS or Heals, and rolling on tanking offset gear and using Triumph Emblems to buy tanking goodies.

Dechion, I’m talking to you. 🙂

Whatever you choose to do, when you first set out to tank, use LFG to select normal early instances, such as Nexus, Utgardt Keep, Drak’theron Keep, Gundrak and Azjol-Nerub .

Take the time to go to, say, Wowhead and look at their zone descriptions for the instances. Create little cheat sheets, one page instructions breaking down what each boss does, or tips to watch for from the trash.

As an example, have a sheet for Azjol-Nerub that details Skirmisher abilities on the first boss, so you are prepared for when it ignores you and heads for the most distant player to destroy. Or mentions on Hadronox that if you stand in his green poison cloud, your lost health is healing the boss.

When you zone into a specific chosen instance, let the rest of the group know that, regardless of your gear or the level range of the normal instance, you are there to practise your tanking skills, and ask if everyone is okay with taking it a little slower than they may be used to, to help give you a chance to learn how to do it right. Depending on the group, you may even get some folks willing to offer helpful, non-dickwad suggestions.

And above all else… practise. Be serious about getting better.

Identify the normal situations… what to do when a ranged caster doesn’t come to you, what to do when you’ve got a large group on you and you lose aggro on one mob, learn how to mark, etc. 

Take the time, if you don’t already know it, to familiarize yourself with the different options of crowd control that other classes may have.

As a Bear tank, you can’t silence distant caster mobs to force them to come to you. But you can always ask other players to use their CC, so long as you and others don’t break it. 

You can also do what I do, use an addon like CaelNameplates to see aggro on all mobs, at once without tabbing, and be ready to toss Growl/Feral Faerie Fire on ranged mobs that you see you lost aggro on. Or Feral Charge them when your current target dies. Or whatever.

My point is, if you want to learn to tank, remember you don’t HAVE to LFG a random Heroic in your new full set of Triumph gear, get a Heroic Halls of Reflection, and be left wondering what the heck to do next.

Here’s hoping that things ease out soon, we get more people inspired to tank, and happy tanking!

Crazy Days

As you probably noticed, things have gone off the rails this week in terms of follow-through.

Have no fear, I shall post part two of the gear list (the analysis is done, it’s writing a post that has dozens of bloody wowhead links that takes time) and there shall be more fun posts as well. Assuredly.

Work is simply building to some form of operatic conclusion, and I fully expect, in the grand tradition of any opera, that there shall be tragedy before it’s all over. Perhaps the plant shall burn, while a mezzo-soprano sings about thermal updrafts beneath the wings of her steed.

At any rate, I find myself at work long after I should have gone home, attending to one emergency after another. By the time I get home, all I’d like to do is decompress. It shall get better. Of this, I’m sure. After all, once the plant HAS actually burned down, well… at least they can’t page me for another emergency, right?

Moving on…

As I said, once I do get home, I make it a point to chill when I can be in game.

In the game, it’s been more fun than ever. The game itself, for the last few weeks, has been probably the most exciting and fun that I’ve seen in a long time.

We had a fun event last week, dancing in front of the gates of Orgrimmar taunting the Horde, but mostly, yes, it’s playing with my friends in the new LFG randomness… and flying solo just to see what I get, as well.

You know, before 3.3, if someone mentioned running a PUG in a Heroic, chances were you’d hear the other party say something along the lines of, “Hell no! I’d rather run with my friends than a bunch of random strangers.”

There are always exception, and I know a few folks who have long commented that they love running in PUGs, and never had a problem to speak of.

My own experiences before the new LFG were rather scattered. Sometimes, I’d meet some really nice people that became friends (or at least got added to my friends list), and other times I’d meet, well… the opposite. 🙂

But damn, things have changed. People are openly running in Pick Up Groups a lot since the new cross server LFG got started, and I have to wonder what it is.

I can’t speak as to why other people are loving it. Or hating it, for that matter. All I know is what I like.

First, I like that the rewards for being in a randomly chosen heroic or regular Dungeon are granted simply for going random, and NOT for being with strangers. If you and four friends want to run some heroics, you don’t get penalized for not having any strangers in your group.

Sounds silly, I know, but there was some talk before the Patch went live that you may have to be grouped with randomly chosen players in order to get the extra Emblems. Wouldn’t that have been ridonkulous? 

  • “Sorry Bob, I know we’ve been doing 5 mans together for years, but if we’re going to get Frost Emblems, somebody’s got to go, and we’ve voted you off the run. Tough luck, man.”
  • “But… but I’m the tank!”
  • “Yeah, about that… we never wanted to tell you but… you kinda suck.”

The extra Emblems are a nice reward for being willing to take the luck of the draw on Heroics… and for me, right now, it adds a certain amount of spice. What’s it going to be? Huh? Which one do we get?

The second thing, of course, is that by making it cross-server, there are conceivably more folks available ready to do something. You add that in with the novelty of three new instances with awesome new loot, extra Emblems for going LFG, and a TON of Tier gear available from those Emblems, and yes… right now, LFG is being heavily used.

Give it 3 months, and I think it’s safe to say that things will calm way the hell down. But for now… well, it’s Christmas for runs!

So what happened? Everything bright and wonderful now? All win?

Well, I don’t think so.

I know that I mentioned earlier a warning to pay attention to what’s being needed or greeded in your groups… which some people took in a weird way, but if you really get offended at the idea that folks should be cautioned to follow the rest of the group in how you roll for loot because different servers have different customs, hey, that’s your choice.

Regardless, it’s pretty obvious that there are some bugs in the woodwork in how loot is being handled.

I’ve gotten used to not worrying about loot, since first, I don’t really care, and second, you can trade loot you get with other people that were in the instance with you.

It’s been an eye opener that, at least the times I have tried it, you cannot make that trade if the other person is from another server.

I think this is a bug, because from what I’ve read by Blue posts, you are supposed to be able to trade items so long as everyone is still in the instance together.

When I tried it, our group got a message, “You can only trade conjured items with players from another server.” Or something to that effect, anyway. The conjured item thing is what stuck out, Strudel is fine, just not that shiny Spellpower Dagger the Warrior won through the Greed roll.

Later on, I ran into another slight drawback with the system. Killing the last boss of Pit of Saron, we had three Plate wearing DPS/tanks, a Shaman and me wearing Leather.

A nice Cloth spellpower item dropped… and everyone started Greeding as you’d expect. Well, I wasn’t permitted to click Need. Neither was the Shaman, or the Paladin. And people had already started rolling Greed.

So, sure enough, we had to all roll Greed… and the Warrior got the nice caster Cloth item as well. And could not Trade it to anyone else.

Those are a couple points to keep in mind. Great upgrades for you can drop, and even if you’re not a careless distracted goofball like me, you still may not be able to get it because it’s not exactly the same as your normal armor type.

But with all that, still the LFG is being used aggressively. I know I’m having fun with it.

So, what’s the upside again?

For starters, you want to run something with friends, be it anything at random or something in particular… there is no travel time there anymore. No more waiting for two people to fly from Dalaran to Nexus for the Summoning Stone.

And when you’re done? No more Hearthing to get back to whatever you were doing, unless you don’t want to go back where you were.

By traditional MMO thinking, this is terrible for Blizzard. The idea is supposed to be, isn’t it, that you want the customer doing long, time wasting tasks so that they spend more time in game to get something done, and that corresponds to subscription fees.

No time wasted on a flight? No time hanging around waiting for people to get going?

But you see, isn’t this the best thing? It sends a message to me that Blizzard is so satisfied with the amount of things there are that we WANT to do in the game now, that they’re willing to remove the obstacles that keep us from doing them instantly. 

This teleporting folks into and out of dungeons is just wonderful.

But what else?

I’ll tell you what else.

It’s a people watcher’s dream.

As a Tank, I’m watching all the mobs and the environment with an eagle’s eye, wary for aggro opportunitues.

As a DPS, I’m watching the primary kill target, and planning my next move.

But I ain’t doing the PUGs as a tank or DPS… I’m going as the Healer, bwana.

As a Healer… I’m watching the PARTY.

I get to see what the DPS are doing, and laugh or cry or whine to Cassie on vent, whatever the case may be.

But even better, I get to watch what the tank is doing, and just be all judgmental on his ass the whole run.

This has been a cause for pure joy. Good run, bad run, wacky run, I’m seeing the entire range of personalities and playstyles, and it all rocks.

I get to see the Warrior tank that runs all the time, and pulls no matter where anyone else is, or what mana levels they have. As I like to call them, the “Run far, die fast and leave a splashy corpse” style of tank.

I get to see tanks that mark, and tanks that don’t, and see that, you know what? If you’re in a PUG, the melee DPS seem to like to know who to unload on or chase after, and the ranged don’t care. And the more AoE someone has, the less they think anyone else deserves a kill target mark to follow.

I get to see tanks that run fast as hell from group to group… but pause for that critical split second needed for mana to hit 75% or so before taking off.

I saw one such tank that took heroic Pit of Saronwrap at a dead run… except for when everyone’s mana was below 50%. A brief, just slight delay and then back on the run. And kiting mobs to bigger mobs, based on how his health had been doing and how well I’d been keeping him alive. Great job.

And then there are the groups where you just watch in amazement, as the Rogue posts Recount stats not just after every fight, but even DURING the middle of the boss fights. No, his DPS hasn’t changed, he just posts it over and over, perhaps in case we forgot. He’s died to aggro from various unmarked mobs 4 times before the third boss, and used Jeeves to regain Durability as though he is long used to doing this, too.

There is the Mage that Blinks into the middle of a pack of undead before the tank can get there. Yes, the Mage led the way. Mage tanks, now? What WILL those crazy kids think of next?

There is the Paladin tank that spends the entire time asking in party chat how to tank as a Pally, and whining about his mana regen sucking, and asking the party for advice on how to Pally tank… while he’s wearing all Tier 9 tanking gear with heroic ToC weapons, running Heroic Pit of Saron again.

There are the Hunter’s I’ve come to love, quietly sending in pets, dropping traps, doing damage and getting the job done. It’s easy to miss them, since they’re not causing any drama.

And how about that Shaman, who, after the Brann escort for Halls of Stone is activated and mobs are running into the room in waves, announces in party chat “Oh, I’ve got lag, I’m going to log off” and leaves the party. We 4 manned it easily, but Cassie was with me in that run and we were chatting in vent, and we mutually said “Oh, what an asshat. LOL, who bails AFTER the fight is started?”

There are just so many awesome things to see people do in runs.

Sure, I saw them before. But with all the delays built into the system, it could take all night to get two heroic runs in purely from LFG.

With the new system, you can pop out three in an hour, and end up looking at the clock after thinking, “Wow, it’s only 8 PM? Normally it’d be bedtime by the time I had three runs done.”

I don’t care how bad the run is now… because it took no time getting there, it’ll take no time to get back where I was, and there will be another group coming along 5 minutes after this one. So sit back, relax and /popcorn!

Is that the secret to the success? We’re all just having an amazing time meeting so many crazy people, and watching what happens next?

I enjoy the camaraderie of our guild runs a lot, but in the greater scheme of things… I guess I like watching failpugs from the cheap seats, and people are getting so insanely overgeared from Triumph Emblems that they can get away with the most amazing behavior, and still win.

I love it. I can’t get enough of it, in fact.

Attunements – your mileage may vary

Welcome to a rousing edition of “Back in my day, we walked to school, in the snow, uphill… both ways.”

Also known as comparing old school gameplay with the new world order.

But I wanna do something NOW!

Blizzard has recently announced that the much anticipated Icecrown Citadel raids are not going to be released as one huge content release. Instead, they will be unlocking a certain number of bosses at regular intervals, with spaces of perhaps a few weeks in between each release.

This, it is supposed, will allow guilds to concentrate on the awesomeness of the first group of bosses, and really pay attention so as not to lose out on any of the cool features of the released challenges. Otherwise, if they released everything all at once, why, guilds might give the fights scant attention, due to just trying to ‘rush through’ each fight in their eagerness to see how far they can get in the shortest possible amount of time. 

Or maybe they’d just like everyone to relax and not get so caught up in raiding over the holidays. Who knows? My interpretation of the reason is certainly open to debate.

The point is, there is a new big raid coming soon, but you won’t be able to do it at the pace your guild is capable of, you will be limited to going no faster than the pace they have chosen for you.

And you can be certain that there will be multiple hard modes for encounters.

I wanted to mention it, not because it affects me all that grievously, but because sometimes in the midst of day to day events, it’s easy to lose sight of what brought you to this pass.

Stay awhile, and listen

I recently decided to do something silly.

I decided to get my Kara key on my Paladin.

I always liked Karazhan. Why not go see about getting the key so I can pop in there whenever I want?

And more, how about the Urn as well? The whole 9 yards, the quest chains inside and out, everything.

Thinking about the prospect brought to mind how I felt the first time I approached this on my main, Windshadow.

I’d reached level 70, I’d run some regular instances, I’d run some heroics, but here was the big time. If I wanted to raid with a guild, I’d have to be able to get into Karazhan. I’d have to get the key.

It took effort. It took some planning. There were goals. There was a lot to do.

And there was a lot of anticipation. You knew you were taking on a big challenge to get it all done, but at the end, you would be all set to enter Karazhan whenever you’d like.

You start by going on out to Karazhan itself, where you are directed to complete a few quests, getting some essences and divining the locations of ley line activity.

From there, you travel a great distance, where you introduce yourself for the first time to the Kirin Tor, at the blasted ruins where Dalaran once stood. There, you present the findings of your investigations, and are sent to go forth to Shattrath, to begin following up with the mysteries of Karazhan.

Traveling to Shattrath, you talk directly to legendary Khadgar himself, and you discover that, to enter Karazhan itself, you must recover three fragments of the fabled Key to that legendary edifice. These fragments were hidden in locations that once were quite secure, but now, with the shattering of Outlands, has resulted in them being quite difficult to obtain.

The first key fragment you must acquire was placed deep within the Shadow Labyrinth, in fact it is now in the same chamber within which Murmur now tries to force his way into Auchindoin. Go forth, and recover it!

You travel to Auchindoin, and prepare to go in and get the key fragment.

But wait! The doors to Shadow Labyrinth are locked, and you must first get a key to unlock those doors, before you can proceed (or be a Rogue with lockpicking of 350, etc). The Key to Shadow Labyrinth drops from the last boss of another of the Auchindoin instances. Are you prepared to face Talon King Ikiss of Sethekk Halls?

That’s right, you must triumph against Sethekk Halls, and once that is done, THEN you are free to enter Shadow labyrinth, and get the first key fragment.

You return to Shattrath, and there you learn that the last two key fragments require you to go to two other instances… Steamvaults in Zangarmarsh, and Arcatraz in Netherstorm.

You enter Steamvaults, and find that this key was concealed deep in a pond, which is not too far from the entrance. Well, they can’t ALL be at end boss areas, now can they? These areas were supposed to have once been secure, and what happened to  make them difficult to reach happened afterwards. Mission accomplished! Whew!

Then, you journey across the Outlands to the far off distant Arcatraz.

You rush to enter, but wait! This, too, is locked! You need a Key to the Arcatraz to get in!

Okay, that’s fine. How do we do that?

Well, it involves going to Area 52, and befriending Nether-Stalker Kay’ji, who is having some problems with those darn Zaxxis and Warp-Raider Nesaad. Why don’t you help him out?

After a while of doing him favors, then his boss, then his bosses’ boss and head high muckety muck Nexus-Prince Haramad, you eventually do more than just gain the Key to the Arcatraz. You actually recover the Ata’mal Crystal, and are sent to return it, as a sign of peace, to A’dal himself in Shattrath.

This is the shit, in case you’re wondering.

NOW you are told that bad things are brewing, and in order to find out more, you must obtain the key to the Arcatraz. This involves killing two entities, that just happen to be the end bosses of… wait for it… Botanica and Mechanar. Once you have killed both of them and obtained their two pieces of the key, you will be able to open the Arcatraz, go all the way inside to the final boss, and get the third fragment to the Key of Karazhan. 

Holy crap, that was awesome, wasn’t it? Damn, I earned that Kara key!

But wait… that sense of accomplishment was good, but you’re not quite there yet.

You’ve got the three key fragments, return them to Khadgar, and wait patiently for the Kara attunement.

Unfortunately, even though you’ve got the pieces, the Key won’t work unless it has Medivh’s blessing on it. Yes, Medivh is dead, but that’s okay. If you travel to the Caverns of Time, you can enter the Black Morass, traveling back in time to speak with Medivh… personally.

While he’s in the very act of opening the Dark Portal.

Holy crap again, right?

Okay, we can do this. Off we go to the Dark Portal. Hummina hummina.

But wait! What’s this? Khadgar may have sent you, but the Bronze Dragonflight are in a sticky situation. They need help in restoring the fragile balance of events, and want you to go take care of something for them in the distant past… and they control the portals. You cannot go into the Black Morass until you first help them rescue… Thrall!

That’s right, you must go back in time to when Thrall, then a young orc ophan, was held captive in Durnholde Keep, being trained as a gladiator, kept enslaved and taught the strategy and tactics of the Alliance races that he would one day turn on the Alliance itself, founding the Horde of today. 

War Chief. Shaman. Thrall himself.

There are those beings known as the Infinite Dragonflight that seek to go back in time to destroy him, and you must see to it that he is rescued, and goes free.

Man, this shit is epic, dawg! Sign my butt right up!

Off you go, complete the Escape from Durnholde Keep, and prove yourself to the Bronze Dragonflight against the forces of the Infinite Dragonflight.

Now that you’ve done that, they send you in to see to it that Medivh survives to open the Dark Portal unhindered by the Infinite Dragonflight… and along the way, you get to show Medivh your key.

He sees it… but decides to keep it to give to Khadgar later, and gives you his very own key to Karazhan in it’s place!

Congratulations, my friend. You have completed an arduous and complicated process that has led you through many instances, many epic storylines, and culminated in granting you access to the fabled halls of Karazhan.


A place so immense, with it’s basement cellars overrun with beasts and bugs, it’s dining halls and kitchens, it’s secret demonic guests, dragon skeletons and dragon spirits, gaming diversions and mad parents full of “Flame Wreath, don’t move!”

A place so incredible, that running it in all it’s glory, week after week, happily kept players occupied for a year and more!

Is there a point in here, somewhere?

Yes, there is.

I ran down all these epic events that must be followed before Karazhan could be attempted. But I could have done the same thing concerning attunement to fight Onyxia, except that the attunement for Onyxia has been removed. The Karazhan attunement process is still live, and can still be done for those that want to seek it out and enjoy it.

Once upon a time, it was accepted that a part of the process of preparing to raid was to follow a certain amount of preparation. We were fortunate, I think, that the quests and storylines you enjoyed to do this were so epic in scope, so diverse and imaginative.

Sometimes some parts seemed to drag, others were choke points of varying difficulty, and after your third character hit 70 it got old trying to find someone in your raiding guild to go back and bring you through the whole thing again. Appeals for sanity were made.

And change happened.

Attunements were simplified, reduced, and eventually, removed.

I really think that was a mistake.

I love the quests, the stories, the rich world all of this takes part in. Karazhan had a ton of stuff going on, and you played through all of this backstory long before you went in there. And once inside, it took a long time to make your way through, and after the halfway point, it really picked up steam with boss after boss after boss, each rich in history and legend.

Things are certainly more accessible now. Ding 80, throw some stuffs on and in you go, whereever it may be.

Now, if it’s your third max level character, sure. You’ve been there, you’ve done that, it’s all good.

But what about your first?

Does Ulduar seem as epic if you haven’t done any quests at all? Does Heroic Trial of the Crusader?

What about a middle ground? You have the attunement, the Key, the incredible storyline and quests that take you in and out of the world of warcraft content, meeting and interacting with key figures in the story…

But once you’ve done it, the attunement or key is Bind to Account?

One other thing.

Part of the old school of raiding had been bragging rights on which bosses you had completed. How far into the progression you were.

With the inclusion of hard mode variations that are achievement based and optional, it’s become much harder to feel where any particular guild may be, or to feel that you are part of a competition with other guilds, because one guild may skip hard modes to clear first, and others may stay on one hard mode entirely before moving on, or skip some hard modes in favor of others, etc.

Why not change things up a little, so that hard modes themselves cannot be attempted until every member of the run has completed the regular version, in it’s entirety?

That’s right. An attunement you obtain by competing the normal mode, from start to finish, that allow you to enter the hard mode.

And make the entire raid be the hard mode. An entire step up, instead of bits and pieces.

Again, with the Bind on Account attunement, this would mean a guild would only have to get their team through once per player in normal to be attuned. Does that truly seem unreasonable, that new players would have to see the content on normal first before moving on to the advanced mode?

It would certainly return competition at one level… once again, a guild would be able to show where they were in progression, by naming one boss they were at. “We’ve cleared Iron Council Hard”.

I don’t concern myself with advancement or progression, but I do admire competition, and I miss some of the epic feel of the preliminaries to raiding. I miss that feeling that, stepping into a new raid, I had to climb a long way to get there, anticipating how cool it would be the whole time.

Did you hate some attunements? I don’t think that knowing there were bad, pointless or endlessly grinding attunements means that an argument is made that all attunements are bad and should be removed.

Instead, I think that it shows that, when an attunement is done right, it adds to the entire experience, it brings a sense of depth and meaning to what you are doing that really adds to the immersion of the entire experience.

It’s there in Wrath of the Lich King… there are insanely awesome quest chains in Icecrown, in the mountains around Ulduar, in the heart of Dragonblight…

But they are not tied into, or unified together with instances and events to bring you, ultimately, into having to do them once before entering the massive end game raid that they eventually lead into, driving the story to a meaningful conclusion.

And that, my friends, is a shame.