Sunday Morning Post: My Week in Azeroth

My Week in Azeroth is a weekly post detailing the things I’ve done in the game which I’ve found to be, either: A) completely cool, B) worth taking screenshots of, or C) something I know is only cool to me but my ego demands I post it anyways. Nothing in this post is serious; it’s a fun thing to do on the weekends when I’m normally very busy. Was your week in Azeroth just as cool as mine? Let me know in the comments!

I love slow weeks, don’t you? No hassle, no deadlines to meet, just you and the cold silence. That’s what this week has been like for me in WoW. I had no raids (indeed, no raid team), no dailies I have to do, no professions I have to level… which leaves me with time to just enjoy the game. Which is really nice. For the past few weeks I’ve been almost frantic trying to find a raid team in AIE who needs a hunter and, surprise, we seem to be too numerous. I almost quit the guild to join an afternoon progression guild on the same server, but thought against it when I was told the guild leader was a hunter and they had another one in their ranks. Now, gear isn’t everything, but I’d at least like a shot at something when it drops, yanno?

None of that right now, though. I can raid later. For now I’ve just been getting some classy achievements on Frite that I’ve been putting off for a while. This mostly included a mad-dash to get the Elder achievements, which I haven’t done in three years. The verdict? Make that FOUR years I’ve let the achievement/holiday slide by me. I’m really bad at this holiday thing. I wanted to do it, I really did, because I want at least one proto-drake, but… maybe next year? *SIGH* Procrastination, you win again.

In happy fun time fuck Tol Barad news:

YEAAAAH

I dislike Tol Barad. I disliked the Isle of Quel’Danas back in BC. I disliked the Argent Tournament in Wrath. Now, I don’t mind dailies, as I need something to do while my DPS dungeon queue ticks ever forward, but something about having a centralized daily hub that you go to every single day irks me. Maybe it’s the convenience. Maybe I just hate things for no reason. Either way, I’m not done with Tol Barad dailies, as I’ve yet to get the tabard/seagull pet/spotlight/ghost wolf. Sadface. I think I may have a problem.

GLORY TO THE SIN’DOREI

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Olim, formerly an Alliance scum, is back where she belongs in the Horde. I had a hard time choosing whether or not to be a tauren or blood elf, but in the end it came down to one thing: which do I think is cooler? To be honest, while I love the Tauren and actually have a few on other servers slowly leveling whenever I get tired of Earthen Ring, I don’t think that Olim was meant to be one. She’s a scientist. Her knowledge of the Light is academic and precise. I just can’t see her being anything but, and the blood elves fit that trope to the letter. The option of gender-changing her was another obstacle, as I think both genders have horrible casting animations. In the end I went with the one who looked less like an idiot: the female.

This means I get to heal again! Yay! And Frite gets free alchemy transmutes/Volatile elements! Yaaay! Everyone wins, but mostly I win!

The prospect of raiding on Olim as opposed to Frite has crossed my mind several times. I’m probably going to end up making her my raiding main because, let’s face it, healers are in far more demand than hunters. This was the case in ICC, and it always made me a bit sad not to be playing the character I refer to as my main, but it’s a rather small sacrifice to get back into raiding (something I want to do terribly).

ARCHAEOLOGY

I’ve gotten into it. I really have, guys. Its mindless fun, like fishing but with more time on my pretty new drake. Around 70 I got my first rare dig (Skeleraptor pet! Score!). Because Archaeology hates me, I didn’t get enough Fossil digsites to make it until around 145, but make it I did damn it!

He’s incredibly adorable and I can’t wait to get his older brother, the Skeleraptor mount.

PAZDINGO UPDATE

I decided to stop tanking for a few levels on Paz and just quest. No pressure, no key-spamming, no cursing at stupid DPS, just me and kitty form and a love for pouncing.

There are some hilarious quests involving this bloodmachine. A random goblin in Gadgetzan wants you to kill basilisks/rocs/hyenas and summon the small gidget so it can harvest their carcass. The bot loves his job, as you can see, and makes what would have normally been a dull “kill 10 pixels” quest into something I actually enjoyed doing. Blizzard’s learning a lot when it comes to quest design and the role that NPCs play in them. This little machine may not be a named NPC who will go on to kill Deathwing, but I’m certainly going to do his quests every time I level a character through Tanaris. Blizzard has been doing this all throughout Cata: Zen’Kiki from the Western Plaguelands (the entire REASON I made my druid a troll :D), Darnell from the Forsaken starting quests, and Orkus the Kingslayer from his quests in Hillsbrad all come to mind when I think of NPCs I won’t be forgetting soon.

There’s a post about NPCs and how Cataclysm has changed their role somewhere in my head, but Rades can do that post a thousand times better than I can.

How was your week, gang? Any phat loot? Cool mounts obtained? RP gear farmed? I wanna know in the comments!

You are a good tank.

Remember how I said I’d frequently update? Yeah, I’m so sorry, guys, but I haven’t been (shock!). This blogging thing is new to me and it seems that, unless there is very real danger in not posting, I can’t be arsed to do it. But you know what? Eff that. Eff that right in its eff-zone, because I love posting, I love this blogging thing, and I want to do it more. So I’m going to. No more “meh but the idea I have is shit, I won’t blog about it” BS I come up with. Idea comes to mind worth posting about? I’MMA DO IT, GANG. There is no way I’m letting this be something else I give up on after five minutes.

LOOKIT WHAT I BOUGHT :D

So, today’s post. Yep. I’ve had this idea for a bit now, and I wanted to really share it in case there are low-level tanks looking for advice, or even players who have been around since Vanilla and haven’t tanked but want to. This post idea came about after a weird little Dire Maul – West run.

Now, to preface, allow me to strut my feathers like the good little boy peacock I am: I am a good low-level bear tank. I am, really. I know what to look for in gear (barring the few levels when I was starting out when I used Intellect leather, but guys I thought I would be a boomkin so shush), I know what the hell my abilities do, I can LOS pull, I can kite (I’ve played a hunter for six years – I can kite, baby, you just have no idea), I can do all of that hoo-hah that you level-capped tanks can do.

But there’s one thing I cannot do, and it is not my fault: I can’t reduce incoming damage. By that I mean I have no defensive CDs yet, so in essence I’m tanking au naturel. Big spike damage coming from the boss? LOL HEAL THROUGH IT PLZ. I don’t have Shield Block (gained @ level 28) and I do not have Divine Protection (gained @ level 30). What I have, by level 29, are two points in Feral Swiftness (4% dodge) and one point in Thick Hide (which equates to a metric assload of armor). At level 30, when both other tanking classes have one or more defensive CDs, I have none. Now, this is not to say that I have nothing going for me – quite the opposite! As a druid I have more passive mitigation in my dodges and the sick armor from Thick Hide (yay for 4.0.6!) to hold me over, so I’m not exactly keeling over every pull.

But, I’d be lying if I said that the lack of CDs were not noticible.

Preface aside, here’s how it went down: I zone in with a shaman healer, warrior DPS, paladin “DPS”, a hunter, and myself as tank. I grab all of the quests from the charming Dagg’thol (what? You want me to bow before your Master, do you? I dunno, Daggy, I have this thing about bowing before Masters who have less than five eyes… oh you don’t say. How many?) and Mr. Warpwood and trek forward. The shaman, upon inspection, is running low on mana. No problem, Innervate hoooo! and I’m back in bear form, popping Enrage and being a polite, patient deathmachine. Then I notice a shield. It belongs to my best friend, the paladin. Thankfully he does not have Righteous Fury on, so I assume he has no dual-spec and expected to tank (why he queued for tank and damage, I haven’t the foggiest). No big deal, this has happened before and the runs have gone smoothly.

My other best friend, the shaman, is bursting with mana, and so we adventure on. Faerie Fire (Feral) the big tree to my right, charge into the pack of treants on my left, and we’re off to the races. For those keeping track at home, the packs of treants come in two varieties: singular or triplicate. This pull happened to have three treants, so that puts us at four monsters hitting my furry behind at once. I’ve tanked more and lived, through liberal kiting, application of Demo Roar, and interrupts, so I honestly thought nothing of it. Dear readers, I came out of that pull with 2HP. There is no punchline.

As much of a tank as I am, I am also a healer, and a DPSer, so after the initial pull and I’m spamming Maul or Mangle for a few seconds, I like to see what everyone else is doing: what they’re casting, where they’re standing, if they’re AFK… the usual. The shaman (my other bestest friend, if you’ll recall) did not start healing until I was on the last treant. So! He was busy: his house was on fire, his grandma fell down a well, his baby was crying, his dog learned to speak and was cursing at him very harshly, his girlfriend was hitting him, his boyfriend was leaving him. It happens, I understand.

Three pulls laters, I’m dead. Now, I have no shaman past 20, nor have I any idea how they heal (I know they like putting stuff that looks like floating poo around me, which is awesome in a 5th grade sense of humor). I do, on the other hand, know how to heal. I know that spamming your low-cost, long-cast heal when the tank is getting hit steadily is a good thing, nay a great thing. I also know that when my HP drops below 20 and I can do nothing but watch while I die, you better pray to all the Loa you can think of, ’cause I wanna see that high-cost, fast-cast heal firing. In essence, I’d like you to heal, and to do it with some semblance of knowledge. I saw neither of this. Instead, I see this:

“god youre terrible. let the pally tank.”

I’m sorry, I blacked out there. For a second I was swimming in a sea of red with shapes moving beyond my sight, indeed beyond my realm of kin, with all of the hate the universe could ever dare produce pumping like magma in my chest. I’m… I’m what?

Friends, let me fill you in on a secret: I am emotionally involved in this game. Let’s define that! It means I care about the people I play with and value my time spent in game. I am invested in this blogging community we have, with the shithole we call an official forum, with the dickheads and the carebears. I care, is what I’m saying, and sometimes I care with my hatred of everything “brotacular” and sometimes I don’t.

I was offended. I was also hurt, I really was. I denied all responsibility to myself. It’s not my fault, I told myself, it’s Blizzard’s for not giving me the tools to perform my job… to his… standa- Wait. To his standards? No. Nononono. Negative, Ghost Rider. Though I still felt that pang in my chest, the one which always follows the slights of LFD dickmuffins, I also felt something like indignation. (“Oh, I’m not good enough for Mr. Shaman, eh? Really? Shall I go respec prot warrior and Last Stand/Shield Block my way to e-fame for your whims? Art thou not entertained, Caesar?”) In a moment I’m proud of, though, I said simply, “Why?”

“idk i just like healing palas. just fucking let pala tank gees”

“Again: why? Do I get a reason or is it ‘because I said so’?”

Nothing. No answer. Nothing, really, from the shaman after that, except some random garble before he left group about “putting *something* near the silljin”. Though, I did get to contend with the hunter pulling every goddamn thing in sight and the warrior making love to his Taunt ability. It was rough, but I did it, and do you know why?

Because I am decent. I know my speech at the top of the post was full of bravado, but guys, honestly, I’m only pretty good, not great. You may see me in a LFD PUG and think “I’ve had better” but I guarantee you’ve had worse.

And this brings me to the title of this post (I applaud you if you’ve made it this far): you are a good tank. I promise you are, no matter what the dickpants in LFD PUGs say. I know you. I’ve leveled alts through LFD. I’ve probably healed you before, or DPSed while you tanked. You’ve made mistakes, and sometimes we’ve wiped, but that’s okay, because I’ve had fun during those times. We may have never seen each other again, but put me behind a healer while you tank and I’ll remember you vividly from our times in Scarlet Monastery/BRD/BC dungeons/Wrath dungeons. Do you know why? Because you’re a good tank, and let me tell you, you’re a fucking dime a dozen.

You will mess up, my friends. You will hit one button when you meant to hit another, and you will wipe. You will focus on the boss while adds are swarming your healer and you will wipe. You will die because you’re eating a sandwich. It’s okay. I promise that you’ll learn, that you’ll adapt and, eventually, people will make level 1 alts on your server/faction just to ask you how they should gem/enchant their gear. All it takes is practice and the devotion to your craft to power through the shitmongers and idiots and just get better at your own pace.

Back in Vanilla, there was a semi-spoken truce among druids: Horde or Alliance, PVP flagged or not, you just didn’t hurt each other. The druid population was dwindling, and support for the class seemed non-existent. This was before Alamo’s famous DURID manifesto. At the time, if you played a druid, you played it because fuck yeah druids best class ever, not because you were OP. Where is that these days? Camaraderie, my friends, I’m looking for the camaraderie.

More examples: in junior high (for my friends over-seas, this would put me in about 7th grade), I had geek friends. I was not all that popular, but the best friends I had then were my geek friends (apart from one friend who was a jock, and we’re still friends to this day). If someone picked on one of us, we’d group up at one of our houses and play video games and tell stories about how we heard that bully was caught picking his nose on the bus or something equally stupid. We bonded together through our adversary.

As adults, our adversaries are immaterial things like money, the time we have left to live, or simply how to survive. We have nothing concrete to direct our anger at. Instead, some of us turn to video games to calm down our aggression. Killing this internet dragon feels good because we are powerful in this game, because we are not John Doe who has ten bills to pay and little money to pay it with. We all do this at some point in our life. Everyone who plays World of Warcraft shares this, and is united by this.

And yet instead the culture sees how my gear is better than yours or how I love blood elves and you love dwarves or how I love Uldum and you love cheese. Does it fucking matter? Really? Why do we have to be so goddamn rude to each other? Yes, I’ve read John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but I hold a unique position of being completely opposite of that theorem (more on that in another post) and thus am forced to wonder: why?

(Addendum: This spiraled out of control, really. It went from rant to actual post to me ranting again about idiots on the internet. To note: I, honestly, am not upset at the shaman for being rude. What I am upset about is the culture within WoW which believes him a hero for being a douche for no reason whatsoever. That’s all, really.)

How to bear tank: levels 15 – 20

Today I’m going to be talking about the basics of the basics when it comes to low-level bear tanking. Later on I’ll get into some tips that I’ve learned in my experience, but the majority of this post will be going into discussion about what spells we get and how to use them. Most of this will be basic on a level bordering inanity, but I feel it’s necessary to assume that at least one person reading this has never touched bear form as this entire blog is dedicated to a lower level of gameplay (as opposed to the level cap).

Quick note: tanking is going… well, it’s going. At the start my two biggest problems with tanking were survivability and maintaining aggro. At around the 20th level most of my aggro problems had been resolved (by better gear and just plain being a higher level) but the survivability issues are still there and in a very big way. This topic warrants a post of its own, but I thought I’d share my experiences so far before getting into the nitty gritty.

After the cut we’ll stop the jabbering and get onto the meat of this post.

Continue reading

Starting out.

Before I got the idea for this blog, my only concern was leveling a druid. I had been watching guildies enjoy their moonkins and kitties and bears and thought, “y’know, I have a baby druid already, but he isn’t a troll, which is an obvious tragedy.” So I rolled a new one.

Nothing big planned, just a new alt of many. My initial thought was to level Paz as a moonkin because of my love of ranged and the badass red moonkin form. I had it all in my mind already: the fluffy harbinger of all things starry and death-flavored, barreling down Azeroth, spraying starstuff across the wilderness, meeting hot babes and rescuing dragons from other dragons. I was going to be a badass. Continue reading

Hello world!

Hello. I am going to be performing an experiment.

As luck would have it, this experiment involves playing a lot of World of Warcraft and writing about it. (Nothing strenuous here, no sir, not from me.) Specifically it involves playing a druid (spec’d Feral to tank) and leveling him through the Dungeon Finder.

Why, you may ask?

A number of reasons: I love bears. I really do. As a tanking class, I love the fierceness of tanking with no heavy plate armor, no shield, no gleaming swords: only your claws, your powerful bite, and your thick fur stand between the hulking boss before you and your squishy friends. You growl, they listen. Your roar intimidates even the greatest of dragons. From your claws drip destruction: a fury more righteous than any paladin, more bestial than any warrior, more blood-caked than any death knight. You are, singularly, the Tank. Your body is your weapon, and you wield it with extreme mastery. (I just got chills, guys, feel my arms.)

But there exists a problem greater than any one person’s love for a class/spec: bears are damn hard to tank as while leveling. Our AE is very silly until we get Thrash at 81 (limited to tab-targeting on a level no other tank has to deal with), our defense is paper-thin until we get our critical dodge talents around the 30th/50th level, and our fundamental “tanking buttons” (Frenzied Regeneration, Barkskin, Survival Instincts, etc.) do not come into play until very high levels. Up until these three things are remedied, tanking on a bear can be hard, requiring more attentiveness and a sharp eye to keep threat on more than three targets. The learning curve is far too high for newer players, in essence.

So… exactly how hard is it to bear tank at a low-level? As much as I can guess, I don’t know. That’s why I’m starting this experiment, to see how far the ball has been dropped on low-level bear tanking or to see how out of proportion the experience has been made into.

I’m starting a new druid, no heirlooms, no gold, no powerleveling, on my home server,  Earthen Ring-US. (Edit: Pazdingo has been made.)

CRITICAL FINAL NOTE: There won’t be anything brain-wrenchingly new on this blog, or even anything remotely new. Everything I say, have said, or will say has been done before by people smarter than I am, with degrees in World of Warcraft Theorycraft. If you’re looking for in-depth analysis on bears, tanking “rotations” or stat priorities, or anything hereby deemed Smart, I encourage you to check elsewhere. All I can give is my impressions of mechanics, encounters, and tanking tips. Someday soon I will compile a list of blogs/resources that know far more about bear tanking than I do, with the hopes that anyone searching online can find what they are looking for.

Thank you, and welcome to Tusks&All!

OHAI! o/

- Paz