Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hardmode VoA - PuG Stylez

You know how sometimes you pull off something amazing, and there is nobody there to say 'well done?' Nobody to at least verify that what you just did was, in fact, awesome? Poor little ego starving for attention, but no dice?

Well last night, I was of the awesome. All by myself. Nobody saw.

What's the bloody point of being awesome when there's nobody around to even notice?! Thanks for coming ego, but you could have stayed home, nothing to see here. Move along.

So... what is this awesomeness of which I speak?

Well, once upon a time, on a server far far away, It had been a dark and stormy night of wipes in 10 man ulduar. We killed Ignis and we killed the Iron Bitches but we just got drilled by Thorim.

Well, we would have got drilled by Thorim - if we managed to kill all his friends fast enough for him to actually bother with us! He just stood on his balcony and watched us die over and over to waves of his little bastard mates.

Raid called early, WG happened, we won and it was VoA time. I managed to score a spot as tank in a one-of-each-class ten man, which soon became one-of-each-class (unless you are a dk or a priest then suck it up and learn to share)... ten man.

Oh well. It was getting late and any VoA is a good VoA the day before reset... so. We gather. We buff up and we readycheck.

I pull the first trash, no problems. DPS looks good. Heals look good. Excellent. Moving on...

As we work our way to Emalon I notice I'm tanking everything. Like all of it. I can handle it sure, but where's the other stupid DK who is meant to be helping? Surely he must be here somewhere, why isn't he taunting the extra mobs off me? Lazy bastid DKs! No matter...

All trash cleared. We are staring down at Emalon, checking buffs, and then the raid leader says

RL: "Ok Nikitar - you can single tank it lol!"
Nikitar: "wtf"

*I notice we only have 9 people in the group*

Nikitar: "OIC is that what happened to the other tank... ?"
RL: "go go single tank it you can do it"
Nikitar: "ur fucken mad, but OK then"

Is he seriously serious? He wants me to tank the whole lot of em? The big ugly boss with his nasty aoe, the 4 adds that get killed and respawn and need to be picked up, not to mention enraging and doing wtfbbq dmg? He wants me to just run in there, aggro the whole room, and stay alive, not to mention hold aggro?


*.... at least I'm the only DK.*

So I ran in, and I threw down my death and decay, and I tossed up my diseases, and I taunted and I death gripped and I summoned my soon-to-be-sacrified ghoul. I blew one cooldown every 30 seconds and somehow, managed to stay alive.

No doubt being the soul beneficiary of 3 healers worth of heals had a lot to do with it, but we one shot that boss, walked down the hall and spanked his buddy Archavon as well.

Throughout the whole ordeal I think we only had 2 deaths, and it was the rogue both times.
Funny thing about rogues, they die a lot. Then again they dodge wipe repair bills all the time with their OP vanishing skills so excuse me if I don't feel sorry for them.

And that, dear readers, is the story... the story of how Nikitar the DK soloed tanked the whole of VoA with an extra serve of awesome, in a group of 9, and only PuGs saw it happen.

Now wheres my goddamn achievement Blizz you buggers!

le sigh.

There wasn't even so much as a guildy online for me to bragg about it to...

Oh well ego, better luck next time....

PS: no lootz >.<

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How to spot a bad tank?

In direct response to a comment from ByStander on my last post, here are some of my thoughts around tanking, being bad at it, and being caught being bad at it.

A bit of background, I played a mage in vanila and in BC. Tanking was someone elses problem, and healing was nice and all but couldn't really be relied upon. Mages were then, and are now, close to the bottom of the priority list when it comes to heals.

It wasn't until I reactivated and upgraded to WotLK that I even played a melee class in WoW. I was uninspired by my mage. Sure he has great lv 70 raiding gear, but I still almost died on the first random mob I encountered in northrend. I may have had my action bars in a mess. I might not have been able to find blink or frost nova. I might have neglected to spend any talent points post-patch.

In short, I spent 7 months playing Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, and of course my beloved DotA. In AoC I don't even remember what class I played, it was a pretty bad game. Warhammer had much more potential and in warhammer I played a tank. A chosen. A badass, plate wearing, proper tank.

And it was FUN.

None of this getting one shot by mobs. None of this oh shit please dont hit me please dont hit me snare kite run nuke snare kite run nuke fiasco that mages go through all the time.
Oh no... It's more like GET OVER HERE AND HIT ME YOU BIG WIMPY BOSS! Leave my squishies alone! Cmon hit me like you mean it ya big girly monster, etc etc.

Totally more fun than wearing a dress.

So at risk of having already rambled on too long, lets talk about tanks. Bad ones.
I know about bad tanks, I've been one, and I dare say it takes one to know one. I definitely had no idea if the tanks in my vanilla and BC raids were any good. They must have been because my guilds progressed, but all I know is that they didn't die a lot.

The thing is, a well geared poorly played tank can still be kept up by a skilled healer, let alone a bunch of them sprouting the latest healing epics.

So the people most likely to notice that the tank isn't much chop, are likely to be the healers, or the other tank, if he is paying attention.

So, for the rest of us, heres my list of ways to spot a bad tank. Some of these things could be caused by the encounter or supporting players not doing their job, but not all. I'm saying dont write your tank off if you see one or two of these things on occasion, but if you see lots of them all the time... something isn't right.

1. The Bad Pull.

Everyone knows this one. You see the pat incoming but the tank pulls anyway. Complete failure to control and / position the casters. Pulling more than one pack and causing a wipe, pulling when people aren't ready, pulling when people are dead, pulling when people are out of range, pulling when healers are out of mana...

2. The Bad Gears.

Harder to spot but with a little investigation anyone can come to know how tanks should be gemmed / enchanted / geared. Is your DK tank packing parry gems and agility enchants? Is your pally under the defense cap? Does your warrior think he can tank with a two hander?

3. The Bad Threat.

This can be hard to spot if the DPS isn't enough to make it an issue, or the DPS classes are skilled enough that they watch threat and adjust their output accordingly. Essentially a tank who threat caps a DPS is generally doing it wrong. Tanks have some abilities which have a +threat modifier and as a rule of thumb they should spam these when possible. Lots of them are only available after a block or a parry or something, so the tank needs to be on top of his game to get full use out of them. If used correctly threat capping will only happen when the DPS significantly outgears the tank.

4. The Bad use of Cooldowns.

Once again hard to spot, how are you supposed to know if the tank is popping his anti magic shield at the right time to mitigate sarths next fire breath? A tricky one. I know when I'm doing it right, my health stays higher, and takes less scary spikes than when I do it wrong. If your tank's health is like a yoyo on crack, this might be an issue.

5. The Bad... dealing with multiple mobs.

The thing about lots of mobs is that there are lots of them, and the buggers rarely stand where you want them to. Some adjustment is usually required to make it so that the whole pack is standing in your aoe, and not hitting you in the back. Tanks turning their back on mobs often die a sudden death. Sometimes you simply have no choice, say your taunts are all on CD and a mob is beating on your healer. You may have to run over there and save the day, and hope you dont take too much damage from the mobs chasing you. Protip: use strafe at every opportunity to keep your back safe.

6. The Bad pace setter

It is up to the tank to set the pace of any instance or raid. Is he taking waaay too long? Is it moving too fast for the rest of the team to keep up?

That's what I got for now.

What other ways can you spot a fail tank?

PS: A DK who pulls when in unholy or blood presence, or any tank who pulls in his DPS gear without realising... may not be a fail tank, as such, but they may be having a fail moment. Give them a second chance, its not the kind of mistake you make twice in one night...

Yes... I've done it plenty of times!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where nothing really changes...

O hai!

I just wrote a comment over at clearcasting about these badge changes that have got everyone's knickers in a twist. Then I thought hell, if I'm going to go around posting long-winded comments that are basically posts in themselves on other people's blogs, why aren't I posting here?

So, inspired by this, here's my take on the upcoming badge changes. I realise this topic has been done to death, but I haven't heard anyone make this particular point before.

First of all, what other people are saying...

Lots of folks are sore that their gear won't be special anymore. Even more people are upset that there will be noobs running northrend in awesome gear, "taking your raid spot, stealing your lootz" all while standing in the fire because they are -still- crappy raiders, just like they always were.

On the other side of the virtual fence, we see the people who love the change, are looking forward to gearing up their alts, realise they will have all the best gear first anyway because they are successful progression raiders, and are generally in favor.

I obviously lean over to that side. I won't be fooled into thinking someone is awesome because they have great gear. I'm not fooled by gear now, and I don't plan to start anytime soon.

Introducing noobX

A perfect example springs to mind here. There is a rogue who we shall call noobX on my server. I first grouped with this guy when tanking outland dungeons. He was chatty, obviously friended me and was always wanting to run dungeons with me. He was nice enough and I really paid him no mind to begin with.

Then I started noticing his dps was poor. Really poor. Like, you are doing something wrong or you are doing nothing at all poor. Like my pet is doing more dps than you poor. Like is your weapon broken or something poor. Like... anyway you get the picture. It was terribad.

So I mention this to him. Friendly like, because I'm all friendly and stuff. It went something like this:

Zupa: "So mate, your dps is pretty bad. Whats going on? "

noobX: "Oh lol I need some upgrades for my gears. "

Zupa: "Ok link me your weapons." *links 2 blue daggers*

Zupa: "Well, they look fine to me. What items do you need upgraded? I can have a look at my atlasloot mod and help find which dungeon we should run next. "

noobX: "Oh that would be great I need a helm and gloves."

Zupa: "I see, we should be able to find something. Link me what you are using now."

noobX: "I don't have any lol"

Zupa: "Why the fuck not? What the hell man?"

noobX: "I had to solds them to get repair money."

Zupa: "OMFG are you serious? so you have NOTHING? no helm? no gloves?"

noobX: "Yeah lols I need upgrades but dont know which dungeons to get blues from."

Ok thats it. Friendly Zupa has left the building. You-just-wasted-more-than-your-quota-of-my-free-time Zupa will be your host for the rest of this conversation...

Pissed Off Zupa: "Dude that is ridiculous. You have no business in any 5 man group without a full set of gear. Go buy some greens from the AH to use until you get the drops you need."

noobX: "Oh I don't have any money"

Pissed Off Zupa: "Go do some quests or farm until you do then."

noobX: "Id rather do dungeons with you, we never wipe!"

Pissed Off Zupa: "Ok how about this. I'm not doing ANYTHING with you until you at least have a full set of gear. It's just retarded."

*fast forward about 2 months*

Scene: Random group for random heroic with random pugs. I see this rogue (noobX) is in the group. He goes "oh hi remember me?"

LongTermMemory Zupa: "Have you got a helm yet?"

noobX: "Lol you still remember that?"

Like I was going to forget the single most incompetent player I have seen with in WotLK?

Not likely little rogue. Not a chance.

Naturally I check out his gear, and cut off me legs and call me shorty, but this guy is decked. Proper decked. All tier gear and naxx 25 epics and valor badge gear, not a blue item in sight.

WTF?Zupa: "Holy crap man you geared up nice."

noobX: "oh what? yeah I got a naxx run on wednesdays... blah blah." *not listening...*

We start the instance. Things go OK.

So how much DPS does this rogue with the OMG hectic gear manage to pull off? 2k. not 2.1 mind you. not 2050. 2k flat.


So... he might have talked his way into a guild and a naxx run. He may have kitted up his toon with all manner of sweet gear. But a shit player is still a shit player until such time as they make an effort to not be shit anymore.

Sadly, making an effort was never on this guys agenda. He always wanted someone else to make him not shit anymore, either by me running him in dungeons so he can get loot without pulling his weight to earn it, or by talking his way into whatever raid he is now a part of, regardless of his blatantly poor skills when it comes to playing his own class.

Well, noobX got his gear, but he never got his skills.

Gear means nothing. If you are shit, you are shit.

If you are good then gear is much less of an issue.

The same applies to healers, but that's for another post. There are plenty of healers in full epics who struggle to keep my tank alive in heroic dungeon X, but a healer who knows what they are doing can keep me above 80% all the way through a heroic wearing nothing but the blues they dinged 80 in.

So hows this all actually about the upcoming badge changes in 3.2???

Well, I guess this rogue, noobX, is an example of what the doomsayers are predicting will happen a lot.

Poor player gets good gear and still fails. (omg?)

It's already happening. It may happen more after the patch, but essentially the number of poor players vs good players is a static number, and no amount of welfare epics will change that.

So for me, nothing changes.

Anyway here's my comment from the post over at clearcasting...

I have made it purple because purple is awesome.

How do you feel about people who are unable to obtain tier gear in the current state of play?

There could be any number of reasons for that to be the case. It could be anything from a physical disability that means they simply can’t raid properly or constraints on their game time. Perhaps they cant afford a PC that is stable in a 25 man group. Maybe they don’t speak the native language on their server.

I think these people should be able to get at least some of the best gear around. They pay as much as anybody else to play. I remember very clearly not being able to play properly for a week due to an injury i received. I could still log in and run around but couldn’t do anything that involved pressing two keys at one time.

I’m lucky as it was temporary. Not so for some others.

Lets fast forward to the point where these unlucky players have some tier 9 gear, obtained slowly and painfully over a long period of time.

They still can’t raid for the original reasons, my gaming experience is entirely unaffected, but perhaps they are a little bit happier playing the game in whatever capacity they are able?

Nobody would assume they are more skilled than they are because of their gear. They still wont have a heroic sarth + 3D achievement, but perhaps they won’t feel like second class players anymore?

So while Tier gear is your holy grail, and very important to you, can’t my buddy with the disability get some too one day without it affecting you, your game play, your raid, or your personal sense of achievement?

I think he can. You probably wouldn’t even notice =)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Zupa on the PTR

... almost ...

At first I thought "Oh how clever, it just downloads the changes and copies the rest of the content from your normal WoW install location"

Now I think it's a good thing I never put a dent in my download allowance for the month...