Every day we’re raidin’ and raidin’…

Quick update on our raid progression, since I’ve been lax about updating on it: the hunter became the hunted, and Shannox went down… And earlier this evening, we got Beth down ^_^. This was, of course, after my healer yelled, “Stop plundering the Beth’s hole!” many, many times. But that’s besides the point! We had fun, and that’s what mattered.

On a side note, we did a BoT run afterwards, that consisted of three PUGs, a guildie who hadn’t done the raid at all, and a guildie tank who’d DPSed all the bosses but only tanked up until the Ascendant Council. In the end, we cleared the place with no wipes ^_^. Sure, we had a death or two, but I was VERY proud of my folks for clearing everything as cleanly as they did.

Until next time!

Status report, Mr. Spock – also, how do I use this cooldown?

I’m aware I haven’t posted here in what feels like forever, but that’s just the way things are, I’m afraid. I’m not the kind of blogger who can assure you they’ll have something to rant about at least once a week. I’m steadfastly dedicated to ensuring this blog stays on the topic of World of Warcraft, with possible deviations for other related MMOs, so if I’m not feeling the “itch” to talk about something, then there’s only so much I can put here.

To recap what’s happened between then and now, we’ve successfully crossed the bridge into the realm of 4.2 – aka, the Firelands. Far Riders successfully downed Cho’gall pre-patch, and on our first day post-patch, we downed Nefarian and Al’akir (despite it being our first attempt at Al’akir at all). On our last raid night, we got the pat from hell (also known as Shannox, I hear… but I prefer my name for him) down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2mil HP. I admittedly wasn’t paying his health as much mind as I was systematically popping all the cooldowns I had for myself to level out any incoming damage and to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic death for my companions. I obviously didn’t succeed in that regard ^_^’

How exactly do I use cooldowns?

But the “systematic popping” of my cooldowns brings me to a topic that’s been bugging me lately. I’ve recently been assisting a guildie with their tankadin alt, and on several occasions, the topic of rotation for both spells and cooldowns came up. I gave her my opinions relating to spell rotation (and also pointed her to Rhidach’s site, since he was a big help to me when I first began as a paladin tank), and in regards to cooldowns, I provided a simple answer: “Just be sure you’re not using Ancient Kings and Divine Prot at the same time.” In reality, the truth is much more complex, and the proper use of cooldowns can make or break you as a pally tank. In my personal opinion, the sheer variety of CDs we have is what makes us the most versatile tank on the market, but too often, I see folks using these skills post-damage instead of in anticipation of a huge hit. This article sums up the topic I feel, but to put it in my own words, we have the toughest job in the raid: being clairvoyants. We need to know the fight, and I mean know it well! While there will always be a degree of flexibility to fights, thanks to our good friend RNG, there’s an underlying flow to how fights work, and tankadins need to use that to pick where there CDs will have the most effect, and then put them into play.

A good example (that most people know by now, I’m sure) is Nefarian’s Electrocute - otherwise known as “crackle.” The activation of this ability is easy to anticipate, as long as your raid’s dps is steady, and there are numerous things pally tanks can do to help their healers out here. For the raid itself, we have Divine Guardian, and while 20% doesn’t seem like much, you can easily prevent ~25k damage to your nearby raiders; this naturally requires some positioning on the tank’s part, but that’s half the job, I’m afraid. For ourselves, we again have Divine Protection, but more importantly we have Ancient Kings. Like I mentioned above, the key is to NOT use these abilities together, as their damage reduction doesn’t stack. And while many tankadins would argue that we should be using Divine Prot on CD, I’d argue this isn’t the case in some fights. Following the example of Nefarian, it can be awfully tempting to use the ability on CD for many portions of the fight, but you can smooth out your incoming damage (and make your healer’s life easier!) if you focus it’s use. I tank Ony in phase 1, and I find the best time to use Divine Prot is for her breath attack and/or when you have her turned for her lightning attack. The breath is massive damage and during the turn, it can be more difficult for your healer to keep you up, so using this CD for either will help them immensely. Another applicable CD for the breath, if you have the correct trinket, is to pop your Mirror. This provides a large magic resistance boost, which can easily be the difference between life and death, if the situation is dire.

Paladins also have several abilities that many wouldn’t inherently call a “cooldown” but can certainly serve in that capacity, given the right situation. One such ability is Avenger’s Shield, due to it’s interrupt capability. Yes, we still have Rebuke, which should be our “go to” interrupt, but on fights where interrupts are important and interruptable spells occur often, we need to manage when we use AS. Cho’gall’s Conversion is an excellent example of this because most of the classes that have long range interrupts don’t have one that has a measly 15sec cooldown (less, if Grand Crusader procs). Besides the interrupt ability, we also need to be sure to use a grand crusader proc’d shield AFTER we use Crusader Strike/Hammer of the Righteous. After all, if you miss with CS/HotR, then you’ll get no holy power but can fill the 3sec gap with the AS (which gives you holy power even if you miss, or so I’ve seen). If you used the AS first and followed with a missed CS/HotR, then you’ll have 3sec that you have to fill with a non-HP generating ability.

Word of Glory is another spell that many wouldn’t consider a cooldown; in fact, many paladins felt it was nothing but a nerf, when Blizzard added the 20sec cooldown. Although I do agree that it nerfed are ability to be an “off-healer,” I want to point out that this makes it much more important to manage when we use the skill. If you know that a big hit’s coming up, then can use WoG; even if you’re at full health, you’ll put a shield on yourself thanks to Guarded by the Light.

Divine plea serves as a two-fold cooldown. It replenishes our mana, which is the same use it has for ret and holy paladins, but as prot, we have a bonus use thanks to Shield of the Templar: it’s a holy power cooldown. When fully spec’d into Templar, we get 3 holy power from activating Plea. What does this mean? If you need mana, then you should aim to use Plea when you have no holy power, giving you the maximum benefit of the HP gain – that saves you from having to generate it through CS/HotR/AS!

The most recent addition to our arsenal of cooldowns is the controversial Holy Shield. Patch 4.2 changed this from being a buff activated by CS and HotR (also WoG, if you specced into it) to being an activated CD. This article covers the topic expertly, but the quick and dirty explanation is to use this in the same way I mentioned above with Divine Protection. Although you CAN use it every 30sec, I’d argue the best method is to use it when you anticipate heavy physical damage coming up.

Last but certainly not least, we have Ardent Defender – aka, the “OH S#&%” button. This ability mirrors Divine Protection, but it’s added twist of saving you from a near-death experience means you should NOT treat it the same. The trick here is, once again, to anticipate how the fight works and to pop this ability when you know you’re about to die. Falling back to the example of Nef’s crackle, then you should use this ability if you know for a fact that Electrocute will kill you. Be sure to alert the healers that you used the ability (use a macro, call it out in Vent/Mumble, etc), so they know they don’t have to use their own CDs in an effort to keep alive through the crackle.

To sum it all up, tankadins have the cooldowns to survive nearly any bad situation, but we can’t use them effectively if we don’t know when to use them. Learn the fights by heart, know their ups and downs, and you’ll be an unstoppable force.

Wait, there’s more?

The other issue I see some paladins making (not just tanks, but holy and ret pallies as well) is the proper use of their seal. No one seal is a catch all, and like our cooldowns, having the right seal up is a matter of knowing each seal’s strengths and weaknesses. So, in the interest of helping my fellow pally tanks, here are the seals I use and when I use them:

  • Seal of Truth: The single target threat seal. Use this seal when you need sustained aggro on a single target. When this seal is glyphed, it’ll also add 10 expertise to your stats. This is one of the highest stat gains you’ll ever get from ANY seal, so unless you’re expertise capped and don’t need it (which I would argue you shouldn’t be, but that’s another topic altogether), then you should look into this glyph.
  • Seal of Righteousness: The multi-target threat seal. This seal works with any melee attack, which includes the physical component of HotR. Also, it works with seal of truth’s glyph as well, meaning it still grants the bonus 10 expertise.
  • Seal of Insight: The mana seal. This one is often overlooked or used incorrectly, so I want to clear the air here. If you’re starting to get low on mana, then the first thing you need to do is use judgment in a blank spot between HP-generating abilities, regardless of the rest of your rotation (never use it in place of CS/HotR though!). Next, you should use Divine Plea, both for the mana regen and the instant Holy Power. However! If you’re still low on mana after all of this, then swap seals to Insight (again, you’ll want to wait until you’re between HP-generating attacks like CS/HotR). Using judgment with this seal active restores MASSIVE amounts of mana, and you’ll be near full mana again in no time. Once you’re in an acceptable mana range, then return to either Truth/Righteousness as applicable.
  • Seal of Justice: I can’t think of any situations for dungeons/raids that you’ll want to use this seal as a tank. The few situations where you’re tanking only one add will usually be hindered by the add being slowed. Cho’gall’s Corrupting Adherent, for example, needs to get to the back of the room (or wherever your raid leads them) fairly quickly, so using Justice would be a bad idea.
As I said before, never switch seals in place of CS/HotR. Holy power is invaluable, so you’ll never want to lose a chance to get it! Otherwise, the key here is assessing the situation you’re in and picking an appropriate seal.
Good luck!
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written here or about something I failed to address, then please feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’ll answer as soon as I’m able!

Gaming and learning

There’s been a lot of talk about incorporating gaming into learning, and without hoping onto a soapbox, I want to affirm that I believe STRONGLY in the power of video games both as a teaching tool and as a power in the entertainment industry. With that said, I propose this: if you believe in the power a video game has to impact the life of a child, watch one (or however many) of the following videos, and do whatever you can to spread the word about this school of thought. We make the future daily through our actions – help steer it towards a future where learning can be fun again.

http://manalicious.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/why-mmos-are-good-for-your-children/

http://www.wowhead.com/blog=157418/games-to-teach-the-youth

http://www.wowhead.com/blog=128763/gaming-can-make-a-better-world

How to lose a PUG in 1 minute AND conclave schmonclave

Tonight, I couldn’t stop laughing for easily 5min after some crazy shenanigans some guildies and I pulled in a heroic. It was something I normally don’t do, and I’m not sure if that added to the absurdity of the situation somehow, but here’s the story: I was approached by a fellow guildie named Ang who wanted to do a heroic Halls of Origination run for a healing trinket off of Isiset. I agreed to help, since he switched to healing on his druid for our raids (he was previously my fellow tank). We grabbed two folks from the guild and queued up for the dungeon. Right from the first pull, we noticed that something was off with our pugged member. It was a rogue who was doing low dps, didn’t talk at all, and kept managing to take damage from odd sources. But Ang told me to just keep pulling and that he’d handle anything, so we could make this a quick run.

After we made it through the first boss, Ang – who is notorious for dropping dungeons for random reasons – asked in Vent what we were going to do if his trinket didn’t drop: “ragequit” (as he put it) or see it through. Right away, I answered that we were going to finish. After all, Rajh isn’t hard and is right next to the boss in question. However, Dark – one of the other guildies in the party – replied, “You two should pretend to have a lover’s spat.” I froze and blinked a couple of times. Had I really just heard that? Dark is by no means a strictly “by the book” player, but to hear him suggest such an outrageous possibility… I was sorely tempted to do it, purely for the laugh of it. We all laughed at the idea at the time and proceeded onward through the dungeon, and soon enough, we downed Isiset. Naturally, Ang’s trinket didn’t drop, so having forgotten all about the earlier conversation, I start proceeding towards Rajh. That’s when I suddenly spy in party chat: “Neh – why don’t you look at me during.”

Without even thinking about what I was getting myself into, I quickly replied with something to the effect of, “You don’t want to know.” Before I knew it, Ang and I were “fighting” over last night’s sex, and our two guildies were inserting jabs like, “Not this again” and “Honestly, every day!” I’m not sure if it was my artistic nature compelling me or not (I’m a music major, so I’m “artsy”), but I couldn’t help but follow through with the act, now that I was a part of it. I eventually made my way to this line: “Ang… I… There’s something you need to know. There’s… someone else.” And after he replied with, “NOOOOOO!” I threw out a quick, “I… need to go” and dropped party. And despite feeling horrible about abandoning this rogue (the other three followed shortly after), I immediately burst into laughter and couldn’t contain it until several minutes later. Aiyah, that shouldn’t have been so funny! =)

Hope you enjoyed the story! … Oh, a raid update? Gosh, I guess it has been awhile o_O. Well! As of right now, Far Riders is 8/12 overall after downing Conclave on our first try on Monday night. We decided to try a Monday night two hour raiding block to get extra time to work on Throne of the Four Winds, and despite having to pug two dps this past Monday, we finished the encounter after about 5-6 tries (cannot remember exactly), taking up about 75min of actual raiding time.

I remembered to go Furbolg! Yay!

An image with UI included, if anyone was interested in seeing my UI =P

Nefarian! You are not prepared!

Woohoo! Tonight, Far Riders completed two progression kills: Maloriak followed by Atramedes! Maloriak went down rather quickly, taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-4 attempts. Atramedes… took longer (/cough 20-25 attempts? /cough). We suffered from every kind of minor mistake from standing to close to the boss (harder to dodge the sound discs), to forgetting which way to run (Me in vent: “If he targets you, you run clockwise… Like a clock. If not, then run counter-clockwise… Unlike a clock), to getting caught on imaginary steps while running from the fire breath in air phase (that was me – I swear, there was nothing there!). Regardless, I was very proud of the guild tonight. We made some serious progress! We spent our remaining time killing off Halfus and the Twins for the sake of gear, but next week, Nefarian is going down!

Shockingly enough, I remembered to take a guild photo of our kill of Atramedes /gasp! Totally forgot to do one for Maloriak, but considering I also forgot to grab one for the other 6 bosses we’ve killed… I’m not surprised.

What? He was handicapped? ... The kill still counts!

Incoming!

My apologies for the delay in posts. My guildmaster and I have been dealing with issues within the guild for awhile now, but tensions reached a peak over this past week. On top of that, my university’s spring break was this past week, conveniently at the same time as the release of Pokemon Black and Dragon Age II (/cough DA2 is awesome /cough).

All of that aside! I’ve been inspired to continue in the footsteps of Idkittens, a blogger over at Sword and Board. I first started tanking as a full-time job when Cata hit the servers (prior to that, I did it as my off-spec), and whenever I had issues with a particular boss in a regular or heroic dungeon, I consulted the tanking cheat sheets posted by Idkittens. I continued the trend of following the advice posted on Sword and Board when my guild first began to do the cata raid content, and I was deeply saddened by the fact that only three were posted (Halfus, Magmaw, and Omnitron).

So… Since I found the advice in those posts so informative, I’m going to follow the trend and do some similar posts here. I don’t intend to do anything Idkittens already posted – just continue where the posts stopped. Look forward to those coming out sometime soon!

And on a quick side-note: Far Riders currently has 5/12 down. Halfus, Valiona and Theralion, Magmaw, Omnitron, and Chimaeron (and Argaloth, if you count him). Maloriak is the next intended target – we’ll see what the week holds!

I’ve a work in progress upcoming, detailing the methods I use for tanking

/failcheck: Mitigation and Expertise Caps

There’s been a lot of forum posts about this and/or related topics, but today, I’m posting to say that I’ve actually managed to meet the mitigation and expertise cap simultaneously =D. Thanks to the Porcelain Crab trinket I acquired recently and copious amounts of testing various reforgings with test dummies, I officially have the following mitigation stats: 11.58% (dodge) + 11.61% (parry) + 53.5% (block) + 5% (base miss chance) + 21.47% (extra block from porcelain crab’s mastery proc) = 103.16% mitigation (the cap is 102.5%). When I first equipped and used my crab (doesn’t that sound wrong?), I was actually in the 106-107 range, so I cancelled any reforging of hit to dodge/parry, then based on the information at Elitist Jerks that expertise is the most important stat after mit cap, I reforged my hit to expertise. I was able to manage 16 expertise, so by using Glyph of Seal of Truth, I can reach the expertise cap of 26 as well!

In the couple of heroic runs I’ve done since reaching this goal (I haven’t had a raid yet, since I’ve had to perform in three concerts this week, preventing me from going), I’ve noticed that I seem to be taking in less damage overall, but it’s hard to tell, since I don’t maintain logs of my damage intake.  However, I do remember that I pulled just under 8k in regards to damage, which is between 1.5-2k better than previously, so that’s a very clear improvement. I would probably be taking less damage, if I were using Seal of Light still, but I’ve been using Truth to keep up 26 exp. Overall, I’m very pleased with where I am stat-wise, and I thought I’d pass on my results to you all!

Quick screenshot of Neh at (technically, just above) the blockcap.

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