Boneheaded Bear Breaks Bow… and Butt!

Sorry about the title, we were talking about alliteration in guild last night.

In case you were ever in doubt, I’m for it.

Todays topic is:

Tell me the one thing you ever did in a raid, ever, that was so boneheaded you still look back on it and think, “I can’t believe I did that. What was I thinking?!?”

I started this raid week down exactly one Sigil of Wisdom from completing that part of Wrathion’s quest chain.

That left me eager to run Heart of Fear to try and get it, before queueing for Terrace to down the Sha of Anger.

Thus began my night of comedy.

I did get my Sigil, but the groups I were with were… sloppy. Felt half awake, going through the motions. Perhaps just hitting that wall.

We downed trash and bosses, but we usually had multiple people die per trash pull, half the group dead by the end of a boss pull, and we flirted with enrage timers and sometimes even went over them.

Elegon… let’s just not talk about Elegon.

My boneheaded, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment came during Will of the Emperor in Mogu’shan Vaults.

You know, the dude what can drop the weapon upgrade for me.

We played as sloppy as I’d come to expect on the trash right in front of the control panel, and over half the raid died before the trash finally went down.

Some folks released to run back, others were waiting for a ressurection, and some moron decided to start the encounter.

Oh, joy.

This has no bearing on my mistake.

I did my best. I know the fight, I have plenty of tools to work on the adds, and all I wanted was to get the fight over with, see if the bow would drop, blow an extra roll when it didn’t, and then move on with my week.

So, I’m running around doing the add killing dance as fast as I’m able, when halfway into the fight most of my buttons go dark.

Like, ‘out of range’ dark. Or, ‘you’ve been stunned/silenced’ dark.

I could still use my Kill Command, Glaives, all that extra cooldown and pet stuff, but I’ve got no shots at all. 

What, I ran out of arrows? WTF? I know I got tagged by that one Emperor’s Strength, but that stun only lasts like, what, 3 seconds? 

It took me over 30 seconds of trying to figure out what happened to finally get it.

My weapon was broken.

I opened up my equipment list, and sure as hell. All my epics were fine, durability 100 out of 180, or whatever.

The only thing I had broken at 0 durability was my 463 blue Tempestuous Longbow.

Apparently, it’s weaker and more susceptible to breakage than epics? And hey, guess what… I died a lot in that raid.

So… halfway through the last boss fight I intended to do for the evening, I ended up with no weapon, reduced to telling my pet to attack that target, now that target, okay Bestial Wrath and go Kill Command that one. And after that… well, i still had my fists.

Paws. Whatever.

I was reduced to punching the adds.

For over half of the fight, I’m running around punching bad guys and waiting for pet attack cooldowns to wear off.

That’s a long time to feel embarassed.

One of the healers locked out of the raid by the early start began telling us all how much we sucked.

Specifically, how bad us DPS sucked.

In fact, he began talking about the worthless sack of shit Hunter that was so bad he should get out of the raid and kill himself for being so bad.

For over five minutes, and then past when we did finally wipe, he kept up the stream of venom, directed at sucky DPS in general, and the one horribad sack of shit hunter in specific.

I was embarassed because, yes I can’t believe I was in a boss fight with broken equipment, total fail move, but even worse, getting called out for it by someone that really, with that language and hostility, I’d have liked to kick square in the nuts for being an asshole.

Worst part? The feeling that, even though the way he went off was nasty bullshit, I felt he had a point. I was terrible, and I did feel embarassed. I won’t go so far as to say I was ashamed, but yeah, that was pretty fail. There was no good excuse for my not knowing what my durability was going into a boss fight. 

The healer’s tirade increased, and he started linking meters to the raid channel, and calling person such and such with blank DPS out, and such and such did blank…

I suddenly realized something even more horrifying.

He wasn’t talking about me.

As bad as I was in that raid, spending most of it with a broken weapon, punching adds and controlling my pet as best I could, little though it was… I still ended that one fight with a little over 22k DPS.

I wasn’t the worst DPS on the fight.

I wasn’t even close.

It turns out I wasn’t the Hunter he was swearing at like a deranged beast. I thought I was, but he’d never called anyone out by name before. I just assumed I had to have been, by far, the worst in the run.

Nope.

The Hunter he was talking about had 12k DPS.

I still feel a little light headed thinking about it.

The healer, seriously, he could go die in a fire. Whatever moron started that run was the person to blame for our overall failure, not one DPS in the group. There is never any call to rant and rave and swear at someone else. You don’t like how someone else is performing, and if you truly think they are doing it on purpose, then you say what, and why, and who, and ask people to vote kick them. If enough people agree, then fine, you kick them and move on. If not, and you feel that strongly? Leave. Or shut the hell up and soldier on.

The swearing and venom? Shove a cork in your ass, I don’t want to hear it.

I feel okay about saying that now, seeing as how he wasn’t talking specifically about me.🙂

I am still trying to wrap my head around that. With a minimum iLevel of 460, a Hunter (a Beastmaster hunter at that, same as me) did 12k DPS on a  boss fight.

I did almost twice that with a broken weapon, punching the adds. Yes, my pet does reasonable damage on his own so long as I am using all of my Kill Command oand other attack cooldowns, but still. The other person is a Hunter too!  

In other words, as bad as I sucked, how could there have been someone even worse?

I feel like I entered in a “who can suck the worst on this fight” contest, and came in second place.

This did not make me feel better about myself. I mean, if you’re gonna lose, at least lose BIG. If you screw up big enough, spectacularly enough, there is a story in that.

Did I wonder what that Hunter was doing? Yes, briefly. Then I moved on. it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

It’s not relevant in any way. What he did is what HE did, not what I did.

I’m the one that fought a boss with a Broken Arrow.

About that Hunter… here’s a hypothetical for you.

You sit down, queue for a raid, and it takes 45 minutes to get one, which is what it took me. You expected 20 minutes, that is what you’re used to, and that’s what your addon told you was the current average wait time, so that worked for you. You’ve got limited time to play before you have to get your kids tucked into bed, but this is workable.

For 25 minutes after that 20 minute ‘average’, the duration kept getting extended by a minute at a time.  You thought, ‘okay, what is one more minute”, but that was 25 minutes ago.

Now, 45 minutes in, and the hour and a half you budgeted for the run is half gone before the first pull.

You’re running out of time. There are things you have to do with your family. But you can take it to the wire. Maybe this group will get it done fast and smooth. 

But no. The group sucks. Wipes on trash, AFK people, early pulls, all sorts of things that serve to drag this out.

Finally, you get to the last boss, the boss you came for because you’re a Hunter and you need a weapon and he could drop your weapon. You really don’t want to have to do all of this over again later, you don’t have much time during the week to play.

But it’s time to tuck your kids into bed, past time really, so you’re up against it, and when game and famliy go head to head, family wins. Of course.

So, as soon as this trash pull is done, you’re going to tell everyone you need to be afk for a few minutes, so you can at least go tuck your kids into bed.

Then some asshole pulls early, before people have even run all the way back or been rezzed. There are healers locked out of the instance, five people still dead…

Well, that’s an obvious wipe, so you say to hell with it, set your character to auto-attack the boss, sic your pet on it, and go get your children tucked into bed, tell your spouse you’re sorry that the run went so long, and get back to your desk to recover after the wipe.

Sound reasonable? Sound like an outside possibility?

Yeah… I’m not going to judge, and I’m not going to assume anything. It does not matter why someone else had issues, what matters is what I did, what I have control over, and what I can do better next time.

Our second run? Everyone was there, healed, buffed and ready.

We killed the Will of the Emperor easy as could be, and everyone, including that Hunter, did a great job.

After our wipe, I teleported out, repaired, and ran back. I had to, not a single person there would drop a repair bot for me. Fortunately, I got back in time before the pull.

Oh, and the healer that spent all that time swearing and frothing at the mouth?

Didn’t heal a single person the entire fight. Just stood there, metaphorically with arms crossed, watching as everyone around them did their jobs while just afked through the fight.

Isn’t that just special. So apparently, he was so offended at how people didn’t do anything the last run (while he was safely on the other side of the doors, doing nothing), that it gave him the right to do nothing himself to, what? Get back at us? Prove he can intentionally suck worse?

Whatever.

Doesn’t matter. We won without him, easily, so the only thing that got proved was how nobody needed him around in the first place. he was not a value add.🙂

What matters is, I have furthered the legend of the Huntard.

I haven’t felt so embarassed in a long, long time.

I’m in ur raids, punching ur mobs. 

/cry.

So tell me, make me feel better. What is your “I cannot believe I just did that” moment?

That was intense!

Panda-man ALWAYS intense!

Gotta love Harry Dean Stanton.

Tonight, I completed the Hunter rite of passage.

I successfully tracked down and tamed one of the new Pandaren rares, Savage!

And Repo Man or not, that was freaking intense!

I did not do this on my own. My inspiration was Cymre (of Bubbles of Mischief fame) with her recent post about tracking him.

It wouldn’t have happened, though, without Euphyley’s awesome post (At WoW Rare Spawns) detailing the how, where and why of Savage, with maps and all. And of course for the reminder that right now, before 5.1 is released, tracks are still displayed backwards, so backtrack ’em.🙂

I was inspired by Cymre to try my own search for this beautiful white jungle cat with the blueish-purple eyes. I have always loved tigers, and the look of this white tiger is simply stunning. Of all the rares, Savage was the one I hoped the most to be lucky enough to find someday.

I started at the western-most point of the Jade Forest on Euphyley’s map, just below the bridge to the Valley of the Four Winds.

I kept tabbing in and out, comparing where I was on the map to landmarks, trying to get oriented in my mind where to go next. “All right, so if I move to that grove of trees, then I can do a southeastern loop around that lake, then head up toward the mine entrance, staying to the left of the village.”

I stayed on my flying mount for the trip, not expecting much luck on this first excursion, walking slowly, criss-crossing where I thought the trail might be.

I went the entire route, all the way to the eastern coast, when suddenly I saw it! A dot that showed up as a Bloody Track!

I checked the orientation of the paw print, and it showed the claws pointing ahead of me… which meant he was actually heading back the way I came.

I whirled around, popped a flare… and nothing. Uh oh. Oh wait, there’s another track back the way I came!

And thus began a half hour stalking session.

That was intense. I had people whispering me, and I didn’t respond to anything. I couldn’t, I might miss a track or it would fade away!

I was fixed on the screen in front of me, analyzing every trace of land for the sign of the next Bloody Track.

It seemed like no matter how far I went, there were always more tracks in front of me.

It wasn’t until I was almost all the way back to where I started, at the southern shore of that lake south of the mine, that I felt I finally got ahead of the tracks. The southern part of the lake is bordered by a trail and mountains, so it’s a natural choke point. It became slightly easier to see the tracks, and to feel I was ahead of him. It also gave me a better feel that the flare might encompass where Savage would have to walk.

I popped that flare, and the thrill when I saw the giant, white-furred head push into view was amazing.

Seriously, if you are a Hunter, and you haven’t done this yet, please do yourself a favor and go on the hunt for one of these special rares.

Visit WoW Rare Spawns, look at the various rare Hunter pets in Pandaria, and set yourself on a safari.

Wow, what a rush!

Look ma, I’m a real Hunter now!

Thank you Cymre, and thank you ever so much Euphyley!

Out of the Mouths of, well, You Know

Blizzard was kind enough to send out some “Recruit a Friend” emails to long-time players recently, invites that allowed you to give someone else 30 days of full free gameplay, unrestricted, in World of Warcraft with Burning Crusade.

I was quite pleased to get one, because with this invite, you can give someone else the full experience, with trading, chat, grouping, all that sort of thing.

I created an account for my son, who is eight years old, and got his computer set up to play.

Today, he played, and I mean truly played, World of Warcraft for the first time. He’s dabbled on my account before, but this time he was on his own personal computer, and I was able to be online in the game at the same time.

He created a Draenei Warrior, tried that for a bit, and decided that the Rage mechanic sucks. Hey, I didn’t influence him at all.

Then he created a Dwarf Rogue, with flaming orange beard, and gave that a go.

Around about level 3, I flew down to the dwarven starter area in dragon form, and took him for a ride around the frosty dwarven homeland.

I brought him up the valley, and I let him get off the dragon and chase a little boy down, and purchase his own pet bunny rabbit. Cassie taught him how to make the pet bunny his friend, and bring him out into the world to hop around and follow him everywhere he goes.

I gave him some gold, taught him how to buy upgrades from the vendors, train skills, and then set him loose once again on the starting area. I’m in the same room with him as he plays, his computer is in my office.

He reached level 5 before the evening was done, and as we tucked him into bed, he had some very revealing things to say about the game. He had few preconceived ideas, nothing to get in the way of his imagination, he had played for a bit, but he knew nothing of what was possible or what limitations the game held. Everything was possible to him, or could be, and he had no way of knowing unless he asked.

This is what he asked us and told us as we tucked him into bed tonight;

“My pet bunny is level 1, does that mean I can teach him to do tricks, and level him up? Can I teach him to attack? That would be so cool!”

We explained that the cute little pets like the bunny don’t fight, or ever level up. They’re friends to travel with you, and they can never be hurt like your character can. But, we said, there is another class where you can have your own pet that fights with you, and that class is a Hunter. And you can have cats, and bears, and wolves, and when you get even more powerful, you can tame dinosaurs to be your pets!

“Can you have a moose as a pet?”

Sigh. No, I’m afraid you can’t have a moose, sweetie. Ghostcrawler promised us a moose, but we still don’t have one yet. I’m sorry.

“Oh.”

“Well, if I go in the water, can I have a shark for a pet?”

No, I’m afraid not. You’re right, that’s a brilliant idea, whoever would have come up with that idea when Vash’jir was released was a genius, but no, you can’t have a shark for a pet underwater. But Hunters CAN have your normal pets, and they will swim along with you and fight underwater just fine.

“Well, what about a goldfish?”

A goldfish? What, as a friend or as a pet that fights for you?

“A goldfish to fight with you! He could be in a fishbowl and everything.”

Okay, the goldfish would be in a fishbowl. I guess the fishbowl would protect him like armor, I can see that… How would he move around?

“The fishbowl would have legs! And the goldfish could charge forward in the fishbowl and attack things!”

O.o

Okay, Blizzard, here’s the deal.

I haven’t asked you for much, but this time, it’s for reals. I challenge you to match the imagination of a child.

We don’t have moose combat pets, and we don’t have water-combat pets like sharks, but this…. this you can do. You know you can do eet.

You can make an Engineering-crafted Goldfish Assault Bowl on little mechanical legs, with little external saw blade and arc-welder waldo arms. The goldfish, genetically enhanced of course, can ride inside the little fishbowl with his head sticking out the top to see, and drive the bowl into battle.

When I imagine a Gnome Hunter, that’s now what I’m seeing for his pet.

I beg of you, at least think about making a Bad Guy Gnome boss that is like this. You’ve got Gnomeregan, the Gnomes are going to truly assault that place and wrap that storyline up some day, give the players a boss that will truly scare the hell out of them with the horror of a gnome mind unleashed.

Failing that, you’ve got the engineering goggles, you’ve got all this awesome Hunter stuff built into the engineering profession… just let your mind run riot, man. Let the Hunter Engineers make their own combat pets.

Now, I know it may seem over the top, maybe you’d be tempted to let it go with something sensible, like a mechanical dino-raptor. Don’t give in. Unleash your inner Steve Martin. Be some wild and crazy guys and gals, and give us the Goldfish Assault Bowl. Something about it just sings in my head and won’t let go.

The only way this could be better, would be if some great artist like Tish Tosh Tesh* drew up some stylized sketch of it poised for action.

I can see it now, walking into BlizzCon wearing a shirt showing the crazed face of a goldfish driving this over-the-top goldfish bowl war machine, shit-eating grin on his (or her) fishy face, with the words “Hunter + Mad Science = I Don’t Know What It Is, But It’s Got Aggro” written around it.

I can see it, I swear I can. It’s right there. And someday, in some role playing game somewhere, I am going to USE that idea. See if I don’t.

Challenging assumptions, making impressions

I’ve attended a few raids now on my Hunter. My Druid is distracted by shinies, gathering non-combat pets and studying Archaeology on far-off planets, so my Hunter is getting all the raid face time.

I hope to improve my Druid to be raid ready someday, but it’s hard to prioritize when you’ve got one character already set and ready to go. I acquired epics while raiding with my guild, so I should put them to use in progression when they ask, isn’t that how it works?

What I want to talk about comes from who I am, and where this blog comes from.

I spend my free time doing what I find enjoyable. Playing World of Warcraft is a big part of my free time, and an integral part of my enjoyment in WoW is playing how I like to play. 

My blog is called the Big Bear Butt, and it began with my adventures as a feral Druid, because feral Druids weren’t cool so there was some stuff to talk about. Blizzard didn’t approve of us for serious things. Old ground, won’t go over it again, if you’re not sure what I mean, check out the Tier itemization for Druids in Molten Core. Those feral pieces are pretty awesome… oh wait, there weren’t any. Druids were supposed to stand back, shut up, and heal.

I didn’t play a feral Druid to be cool or fill a niche, or to be a rebel. Nobody wanted me and there was no support for me. What I did was in spite of the mechanics, not because of them. I played feral because I loved it. I loved transforming from a person to a sleek panther to chew the faces off my adversaries, I liked transforming into a massive bear to maul all those that would challenge my authority.

I especially liked figuring out ways to use what WAS implemented in the game, the gear and the mechanics, to work out how to come as close as possible to being a ‘real’ tank. I loved being a furry bear tank, plain and simple. It wasn’t pixelicious, it was a big old furry bear butt filling my screen, and it was great. The day when furry Bear tanks stormed Karazhan successfully was a wonderful day for me.

I thought that I could write a blog sharing some of the stuff I’d done so others with the same wacky mindset could have the same fun bear tanking and loving it. That’s all. I also like to rant and ramble a bit.🙂

Blizzard has long since taken bear tanking mainstream, it’s a recognized aspect of the class, and they work hard at balancing the class function with other tanks. How well they succeed or not isn’t the point; the point is, bear tanks have gone mainstream, but even if Blizzard announced they really were serious about the Druids only allowed to heal thing, I’d still be a feral Druid. Nerf ’em to the ground, I’d be unhappy, but I’m not going to change my preference. I have played tree healing and like it, but that’s not why I roll or HOW I roll. It’s just a fun bonus.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that I play my Hunter as a Beastmaster because I love the concept of the Beastmaster. That concept was what drew me to the class, and it is my concept of the class, the things about it that excites my imagination, that are the reasons I keep loving it.

The core of my love for Beastmaster is that it is the spec that fulfills the dream I had at the beginning; you and your pet, together against the world, fighting side by side, each a valued team member.

Over the years, Beastmaster has undergone a lot of changes. Sometimes it has been weak, other times strong, most often right in the middle. During most of Wrath, it was pretty weak in raids in comparison to the other two specs.

A lot of people dutifully followed the DPS, looking for maximized raid performance. There were a lot of arguments back and forth, and valid points were made. Do you go on a raid with what is known to be a spec that does not perform as well as, or does not have the same potential as, another spec? If you do, regardless of how you are performing, if there is potential that is lost, aren’t you screwing the rest of the raid?

It’s a big discussion.

With my Hunter, I’m the same as with my Druid. If my blog wasn’t Big Bear Butt, it could have been “From BM with Love”. I am a Beastmaster. I’ve always been a Beastmaster, and I imagine I always will be.

I am also someone that likes to do the best I can with what I have when in groups with other people.

What that means is, if I have chosen to play as a Beastmaster to satisfy my own need for fun, and if I choose to bring the pet that I want to bring for my own fun, then that leaves me responsible to do everything else I can to drag the most performance out of Beastmaster when I’m grouped.

With that in mind, I read the wonderful BM Hunter thread at Elitist Jerks, where I was delighted as always to see that there are other freaks like me that love Beastmaster and are sticking with it. I used Zeherah’s Hunter DPS Analyzer (the online updated version of Shandara’s DPS Spreadsheet), I spent LOTS of time on Ask Mr. Robot disagreeing with optimizing results but studying the gear recommendations, and in general delved into all that study we love so much.

World of Warcraft. For some, a game. For others, a replacement for our doctoral thesis. You ever hear the joke, God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world? Yeah, the modern version should read God created MMOs to keep geeks from ruling the world

Oh, what was my bone of contention with Ask Mr. Robot? Mr. Robot seems to think that Mastery as a stat comes far below everything else. Everything. I tried some tests, and I swear if there was Mastery on something, it wanted it gone. On the other hand, Elitist Jerks seemed to think that Mastery was somewhat on par with Haste, and a little below Crit. I’ve always been a fan of a teeny bit of balance, so having any gear with Mastery on it thrown out the ranking window felt, to me, to be twisting the recommendations a bit. Then again, I modified things my own way and I’m happy with it, and isn’t that JUST what we love to do? Read everything everybody else recommends, study up, analyze, and then in the end do our own damn thing regardless?

At least that’s better than MaxDPS.com, who still hasn’t bothered to update their BM or Marksman settings for Cataclysm. If I was a newly 85 Hunter and went by that, I’d assume Survival was the only possible way to go.

Well, so here I am. Raiding on a Beastmaster Hunter.

Beastmaster Hunters got shit on a lot in Wrath of the Lich King, in terms of raid performance and reputation. It seemed like every other tweak, Survival got top, then Marksman, then Survival again, but no matter which was the chosen one, BM got a rock. 

The trade off, I think, was the Exotic pets. It was like Blizzard was saying, if you get to have the Exotic pets, then you can’t expect to do good DPS too, otherwise why would anyone play anything else?

My answer to that, of course, is why design things so the only reason you play a spec is because that’s the one with the biggest numbers, or because you bribe them with pretty toys? You should play a spec because you like the playstyle or core concept first and foremost, not because you’re a numbers whore.

But fine, if that was the tradeoff, I took it quite happily. Spirit Beast Bears, and Devilsaurs, and Core Hounds, oh my.

I’ve done a few randoms with my pet Devilsaur in heroics in Cataclysm. You know what reception I get?

I’ve had more than a few BMlolz, Huntard lrn2MM, Moron, and, I’ll admit, a few “lol love the pet name” for AnnCoulter.

I don’t play for accolades from the pug group, but I’m quite happy that my DPS is consistently in the 16k range now, plus I’ve got my CC trapping and my Misdirection. It tends to shut up the “BMlolz” crap. Very few people continue to talk shit when their DPS is less than yours. There are still some, though, there are still some.

I’ve been to guild raids, and I don’t feel that my DPS is holding anyone back. My IGNORANCE may be holding the guild back, but not my DPS.

The most telling thing for me, though, is how often I hear the following after a run, both after guild raids and from random heroic pugs.

“Wow, I’m amazed at the DPS you can get out of BM, that’s amazing.”

It’s a nice thing to hear as a player, but I hate what it continues to say about Beastmaster.

Thanks to Wrath of the Lich King, a large portion of the player base has the assumption that BM damage inherently sucks, and even this late into Cataclysm, over 6 months now, the characterization is still going strong.

Most people do not want to bring a sub-optimal spec to raids, of course. If the perception is that BM is bad, then people won’t bother trying it. They’ll wait for Frostheim to tell them what his results are, and that will be that. Or read up about it on Elitist Jerks, of course.

Until something comes along to challenge the assumptions, the legacy of Wrath of the Lich King is going to linger like a bad cheese. If you don’t suck, people will be surprised. If you have a fancy pet, people will assume you don’t raid, or are on your off spec.

That’s pretty sad.

Me, I’m happy exactly where I am. Maybe my DPS would be higher if I was Marksman or Survival, but then again I probably wouldn’t handle the flow right and my DPS would drop. My own preconceptions would get in the way.

Maybe I’m screwing my buddies every time I zone into a raid as BM, and deny them an extra potential 500 DPS.

Maybe.

But I’m doing all right, and when the Firelands hit, I know that while everyone else is polishing their guns and bows, I’m gonna be hunting those 8 new exotic BM only pets, hunting them down and taming them, and having a wild old time.

Whatever assumptions other people make about BM, whatever impression people have of our DPS potential, whatever attitude people want to have about BMlolz, when it comes to awesome exotic pet fun, this expansion is OURS!

The time of the Beastmaster is come, and woe unto those that love cool pets that forsake it!

How Bear got his groove back

Last night, hold onto your bacon folks, last night Beartrap ran… a heroic instance!

Crazy, cats, simply craaaazy.

My first heroic instance since the expansion shipped!

Well, the first one I did where the group finished the run, and my first attempt to join one in over four months, so it still qualifies. I think.

What made me do something that out of character?

Why, having friends to play with, of course!

Beartrap the mighty hunter ventured forth, set to wage war in partnership with Hedwig and Matheo, because… well, because they felt like doing a heroic and asked me along.

What, you expected something more? Sorry, they wanted to play and I think I’m finally heroic ready, so I went with ’em.

Picture this, if you will. Beartrap the Beastmaster Hunter enters the random queue for a heroic with Matheo the Bear Tank and Hedwig the Healing Priest.

*I* get to follow along and watch a Bear Tank lead through a heroic. A heroic where two other players, NOT the tank or healer, are pugged in.

This has all the possibilities needed for postworthy drama, don’t it?

Where we ended up was Vortex Pinnacle.

I’d like to say that if other instances are anything like Vortex Pinnacle, I am going to have myself a mighty fun time in WoW from now on.

Vortex Pinnacle, under the talented paws of Matheo and with good healing from Hedwig, called to mind all the best memories I have of running heroic instances from both Burning Crusade AND Wrath of the Lich King.

Bold words, I know, but lemme explain.

When I think of Burning Crusade heroic instances at level, what memories do I call forth?

One thing that I loved was that the intelligent use of crowd control was not just an option, but an understood necessity. Not just that CC was needed, but that the group walked in KNOWING that it would be needed, and worked together accordingly.

I liked that because I felt more involved as part of the team when I went as DPS, that I had to be prepared to bring the Ice Trap skillz.

Likewise on having things that needed to be removed, such as curses. Having Static Cling on the final boss fight in Vortex Pinnacle, and needing it to be cleansed off so I could move again made me VERY aware of how much we needed Hedwig in the fight, and not just as a healbot.

I liked that feeling in Vortex Pinnacle. We had mobs marked for traps, I was given the go ahead to trap ’em, and boy howdy did I! We also had a tank that used Skulls and Xes and Squares to mark mobs, and I always love seeing that in a run.

Another thing I liked was the architecture provided plenty of opportunity for line of sight pulls, and they were taken advantage of. That was great fun as well.

There was tension, there were mobs off the aggro table running around as a free for all, there were interesting boss fights, it had it all.

But what it also had was the shortness of Wrath of the Lich King heroic instances.

Even with the CC and mechanics, and the hopping from tornado to tornado, it only took a half hour to complete the instance.

I loved how short Wrath of the Lich King instances were, but I felt that they achieved that by being straight line runs from group to group with little in the way of tactical variety. Charge in, AoE, burn fast, next group, rinse and repeat. The uber-heroics in ICC were an improvement, but groups had been trained out of how to play by that point. Why look, the unfun!

What we had last night had the complexity and teamwork requirements of Burning Crusade, the interesting variety and lessons learned from both expansions, and the quickness of Wrath of the Lich King.

There was just one more element that was needed for me to feel rejuvenated and eager to begin playing group content again, and I got it;

An entertaining conversation with friends over Ventrilo.

Nothing is more fun to me than chatting with friends about the fights AS you are doing them.

Where else do you get the opportunity for such awesomeness as saying, “Wow Mat, you almost bit it on that pull”, and having Hedwig reply, “Oh, I wasn’t really paying attention on healing him.”

When you’re having such a good time chatting that you forget how to play, you know you’re doing it right.

I know that the heroic instances have a reputation for being incredibly long, so I’m not assuming that a sample size of one represents anything.

Vortex Pinnacle may have been great, but heroic Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep or Zul’Aman may be three hour slugfests for all I know.

But that’s all right. What I know is, I had a lot of fun in a group last night, and I didn’t expect to see that happen again. Even if the other heroics suck in comparison, if the fun in group is there, if the great conversation with friends is there… why, we’ll have fun despite it all.

Oh yeah, and tank aggro with the changes to Swipe? Much, much smoother response time on grabbing large groups. Matheo reported enjoying life a lot more than before as a tank. 

Geez, if I keep having friends to play with, the next thing you know I’m going to transfer my Druid over and start tanking for groups again!

Of course, if I did that, then I’d have to start developing gear lists, and I’d have to work out the math on stat priorities…. on second thought, maybe I’d be better off taking a hammer to my hard drive now and just going fishing.