Friday, May 16, 2008

Let It Be Known. . .

. . . that on this, the sixteenth day of May, in the year 2008, at six o'clock in the evening,

Mr. David A. Brush


Ms. Susan M. Snyder

Have been joined in marriage.

No, this isn't a joke. I really am getting married today (in fact, if this post scheduling thing works right, at the exact time that this announcement goes up, the cerimony is beginning). Sorry ladies, you missed your chance, I'm officially off the market (not that I was really available before, anyhow). And yes, this has been part of the reason I haven't been posting much lately, too. Continue reading 'Let It Be Known. . .'

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big News on the Horizon

. . . and you don't get to know what it is until this friday at 6:00 PM when the announcement, which I have already written, goes live automatically. Wanna know what it is?

Too bad! I'm not telling. Well, not my blog readers anyhow (And if my guildies spill the beans, I'll smack the lot of you!)

Is the suspense killing you? Too much for you to handle? Well, ok, I guess I could give you a hint. . .

*points to the label for this post*. Yeah, that's all you're getting. Too bad if you don't like it, thats all I'm giving you. Heck, that's all I have time to give you (Oh, could that possibly be another clue? Perhaps. . . )

Continue reading 'Big News on the Horizon'

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Jump To Heroics

Ah, heroic dungeons. Every time I level up a new character nowadays, one of the things I look forward to is getting them into heroic runs, both because the loot is better, and the challenge is. . . well, existant. Honestly, whenever I run a nonheroic instance, even on a character who isn't decked out in blues and purples yet, I look forward to one of two equally unappealing outcomes: The group is good, and the instance is a snorefest, or the group is BAD, and the instance run makes me want to tear my hair out.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (yeah, I miss posting 5 times a day too), Jasminne hit the big 7-0. And much to my surprise, it was only a couple of days until she found herself decked out in blues from doing a few select quests, grinding some rep, and buying some BoEs from the Auction House. I found myself going through the nonheroic instance loot lists, and thinking to myself "Wow, these are extremely minor upgrades, at best". And yet, I look at my stats and cringe: 12k health, 12.5k armor, 45% avoidance. . . the only decent stat I have is my spelldamage! Great, I'm a tank who can hold aggro just fine, until I die to a trio of lucky 4k hits. Hence my current dilemma: I'm stuck in-between normal instances and heroics!

So what is a tank to do, faced with such abysmal stats? Well, fortunately this isn't the first time I've faced this dilemma, but since Surania was in this situation well over a year ago, I had forgotten about it. Not to mention that at the time Surania was first hitting heroics, it was the norm to struggle running them. Heck, I can remember the excitement I felt the first time I got asked to tank a run for what was THE raiding guild on the server at the time, and how amazed I was at how few wipes we experienced by the time we finally killed. . . Quagmirran!

Alas, these days most people are used to Kara/PvP geared epic tanks with 16k+ health and tons of avoidance and mitigation. Nobody wants the scrub who just got his first set of blues to tank. Heck, if I were a healer/DPS, *I* wouldn't want me to tank particularly! But like I said, to get the gear I really need to run heroics the way people are accustomed to running them, I have to get the gear FROM those heroics. But how?

Well, your first option is to just keep chugging away at those nonheroic runs, using them to grind reputation with various factions for their rewards. But if your server is like mine, you'll never get enough Shadow Lab runs to buy that sweet spelldamage mace, or Tempest Keep runs for that lovely shield, or Steam Vault runs for the ever-so-sexy hammer. Grinding rep with the Aldor/Scryers for your shoulder enchant, or the Shattered Sun for an epic necklace and shield, is a reasonable pursuit, but many factions are likely to be out of reach (and anyhow those faction grinds are obnoxiously long). So, back to the drawing board. . .

New approach. First of all (and this applies at all points in your WoW career), know what the hell you're doing. I've always said that Skill > Spec > Gear, and even in a situation like this, where your gear is a major limiting factor, I hold that to be true. Skill can make up for a lot of blue gear, especially when it comes to knowing those fun little tricks to things like Dash Pulling or rezzing people while tanking. For example, last night Jasminne tanked heroic Slave Pens. An easy instance for most of us, but let me tell you that she was just BARELY staying vertical. And one of the biggest saving graces for me was being able to use my bubble, even while tanking (Note: if you are a tank, you should have a macro set up for divine shield that both casts DS and /cancelaura's it. Hit it once to put up the bubble, hit again to drop it). My bubble saved my butt many times, including a couple times I bubbled to give the healer time to bring my health back up, then broke bubble just before the mobs got to said healer and tossed my shield at them to regain their attention, and the time I dumped Rokmar on the poor enhancement shaman long enough to get a heal and drop the debuff (poor guy got hit for 95% of his health, bet he's glad for every point of stam his gear had!)

Secondly (and this applies doubly to Paladins), you have to remember your crowd control. Yes, this coming from the guy who does 30 minute Heroic Shattered Halls runs with no CC for fun. The fact is, if you dont have the gear to survive getting beaten on by half a dozen heroic mobs at a time, you need to not be GETTING hit by half a dozen mobs at a time. I think that as Jasminne I surprise people when I start putting up marks for sap, trap, and sheep on pulls, but I know that if I try to, for example, tank all 4 Bogstroks at once, I'm going to faceplant real quick. Don't be afraid to ask for unusual forms of crowd control, either. I'm sure that rogue will be glad to toss stuns on one of the mobs, and I know of at least one frost mage who revels in frost kiting mobs around SH just because.

Third, don't be afraid to go to Karazhan. No, you wont have the gear to maintank Malchezaar and Nightbane, but if you're in a decent set of blues, even if you're like me and have yet to reach crush immunity, you should do just fine as an offtank. Most of the trash in there is actually MORE survivable than your average heroic pull, and you probably have 2-3 healers there instead of just one (albeit one will be working on keeping the MT up as well). Of course, if your guild doesn't have Karazhan on farm yet, it may be a bit more challenging, but I assure you, it isn't going to be as bad as you think. And with 22 badges and at least 23 epics dropping on every full clear, you'll have TONS of opportunities to upgrade as you go!

As I mentioned, I'm still crushable. But thats not as big of a deal as you might think. Most of the fights in Karazhan aren't so bad that getting crushed occasionally will spell your doom. Crushing blows on Nightbane will mess you up, granted. Getting crushed by Netherspite can really hurt (though one of the effects of the red beam on that fight is actually a stacking defense boost, so you're not likely to stay crushable for long). And Prince Malchezaar in phase 2 will really mess up a crushable paladin. . . but at the same time, Prince Malchezaar has a huge Dual wield penalty during that phase, so even if you are for some reason trying to tank him in the crappy gear I have, you probably ARE crush immune during that phase. But I digress. . .

On a similar note, you could always try to get in to some heroic runs as an offtank, or respec to DPS or healing for them. You don't have to be the tank to pick up tanking gear, necessarily (though I would advise making sure the tank for said groups doesn't need what you're looking for). The fact of the matter is, its a lot easier to make a group run with undergeared DPS than it is to do the same run with undergeared tanks and (to a slightly lesser degree) healers. There's no shame in taking a slightly easier road to purple bliss. Just realize that running heroics as an undergeared tank can teach you a LOT about your class and capabilities!

And finally, some of us are lucky enough to be able to obtain crafted epics to tank in. There's a cloak thats great for starting bear tanks, some really nice plate bracers, a handful of beautiful belts (And if you happen to be a blacksmith or leatherworker, a set of matching boots), a couple of great stamina trinkets, etcetera. Sure, crafted epics will cost you a pretty penny, but these days its easy to do a week of dailies and buy a purple with the proceeds. And as an added bonus, some of those dailies have a chance of giving you a shiny Badge of Justice as a reward (Just don't count on getting them, so sayeth the paladin who has been at 34 badges for the last ten Supply Pouches, just one shy of a new cloak)

I leave you with one small piece of advice that I had to (re)learn the hard way. Remember that not all heroics are created equal. Slave Pens, Underbog, and the Mechanaar are good places to start earning epics. Shadow Labyrinth, Magisters' Terrace, and Black Morass are not.
Continue reading 'The Jump To Heroics'

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