The random ramblings of a casual tankadin

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New to Molten Front

So, you've dinged 85 later, or for some other reason haven't had time to do the Molten Front dailies. Now it's time to catch up.

The only really important question is in which order you'll open up the vendors.

No matter what I suggest you wait with filling up that moonwell as the last vendor. While a new stamina trinket is fun to have, it's simply not good enough to merit waiting for the other two vendors.

If you're a blacksmith, then it's easy. Get those armaments up and ready and craft yourself a new weapon with good itemisation.

If not, well, Ricket's bracers are a huge upgrade from the Ramkahen 359 you're likely to sport as a casual tank. So stick to those armaments.

That leaves the druids as your second pick. While the Lyagar ring is a good piece of equipment, it's not that much of an upgrade compared with the Justice Point option.

Oh, don't despair if you can't find the quest giver for the new quests when you have reqruited one of the mini-factions. Sometimes it's waiting at the secondary quest hub.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Difficulties getting that elusive slot

We have one very problematic slot as pugging tanks, and that is the helmet. While pugging Cata tier one raids is perfectly doable, a 359 helmet isn't all that much of an upgrade compared with the 353 one that eventually will drop if you farm the trolls for Valor Points.

So we need to find us a replacement. That replacement would be the 384 PvP helmet. Now, a PvP item doesn't sit all too well with most of us, but this one comes with a bucket load of mastery. The Resilence is, obviously, a dead stat, but at ilevel 384 it comes with a big chunk of armour and stamina to make up for close to 300 points of wasted stat.

Now, I'm not even remotely arguing in favour of this helmet compared to a 378 PvE one, but that's the catch. You need to pug down anything dropping a 378, and that might prove difficult for a casual tank. So we're stuck with a 359 or a 353, and compared with those the PvP piece doesn't look too shabby.

Now we have another problem. 2200 Conquest Points. Doing arena as prot is more or less out of the question. I've spent a lot of time dying to cram out a few wins, but you'll make yourself an unhappy partner.

Pugging rated battlegrounds, however, isn't entirely futile. A tank is quite often handy there, so you can pull your weight properly.

Still, you may be a casual tank for the simple reason you can't spend a lot of time gaming. Then you're unlikely to want to spend the time you have available smacking other players over the head.

So your last resort would be to convert Valor Points to  Conquest Points. At least it's done at a ratio of 1:1.

I'd suggest that you wait with it though. There are quite a few items which should come higher on your list, but eventually you're going to run out of truly appealing items to buy for VP. That's when this helmet, and of course, the PvP cloak starts to look appetizing. The helmet because it's the best we casuals are likely to lay our hands on, and the cloak because it's the second best there is in the game.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strange failsafe in 4.2

The failsafe tanking gear is somewhat confusing in 4.2.

First you get an absolutely fantastic cloak from the Thrall quest chain. Then it gets weird. The neck-piece you get after a day's worth of questing Molten Front is a threat piece, and a good one at that. The 378 cloak from Avengers of Hyjal is a direct downgrade compared with the Thrall quest one, unless you're desperate for hit-rating.

The 365 boots are a downgrade from the rep 359 ones, and the reward for pushing to honoured with the Avengers of Hyjal, a 378 belt, is suspiciously close to a side-grade from the crafted 359.

While you should eventually be able to grab some good bracers from the Molten Front quests, your 378 Valor Points option is likely a downgrade.

All in all we're getting stamina and armour force-fed to us, but the other stats are mildly put strangely distributed.

Now, the boring thing is that if the increase in stamina and armour is great enough, then it is indeed an upgrade, but as both stamina and armour are linked to the ilevel of the item, very little remains for personal configuration. At least in you stick with tanking gear. Now, if you go insane and start looking at dps and PvP gear, then you could find some gems of superior tanking gear.

Weird is weird.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The true joys of tanking pugs

There are moments, few and far between, when pugging is the best there is.

I hit Zul'Aman by means of the LFD. Queue is, as usual, immediate, but so is the player response. This usually means I'll end up in the middle of the instance, and quite often in an ongoing fight.

I brace myself.

15 minutes to rescue prisoners. The instance is virgin. As the stupid gong session is done, and the doors open, my healer opens us on party chat: "Kakad, I want a fast run."

Now, I'm just about as far from a proponent of the 'gogo' mentality as is possible, but if it's the healer who wants to give us a headache, then I'll give him hell. So I ride down the stairs, turn left, body-aggro the untauntable sentinel and pull from horse back.

One of the two mobs is ripped from me. I taunt back and watch my primary target getting ripped from me as well. It's dead before it reaches the offending dps.

This part of the instance is like a mini gauntlet, and I'm getting outaggroed left and right.

Now, get me right. I'm not a fantastic tank by any means, but I'm fairly competent. If stuff get ripped away from me, then someone is doing something seriously wrong -- or something extremely seriously right. Scanning my surroundings I notice that anything dangerous I lost aggro from is sheeped. Nobody is taking any damage, and things die at a speed I've never seen before. RF is on, I'm doing close to 20k dps, and things are lost all over the place, and die.

When we ride up to the boss I have time to watch recount for the first time. Two mages are solidly placed at above 40k dps, and one shammy is lagging behind at a lowly 30k.

I don't even ask if anyone is ready and pull the boss from horse back. He never even gets to the first storm cloud before going down, and I have to taunt him back twice at the start.

While this ought to make me happy, it actually makes me quite irritated. I decide to show the healer that things can be pulled even faster and more recklessly than he thought was possible. It doesn't matter. Things die at a staggering pace, and in a last attempt to test their mettle I just bomb the trash before boss number two without any communication.

Two targets sheeped and the remaining bears peeled to me as if we had been planning the CC a minute in advance.

Needless to say things die, as does the boss, and we continue the barrage. Nothing stops the maniac mages from out aggroing me, but they simply refuse to take any damage. I'm frantically using everything available in my arsenal, but they're simply too fast for me. I can't even make a mess of the last pull before the hatchling boss. Casters are sheeped immediately and the group falls over and dies.

The boss-fight, however, is a mess. Both adds are immediately killed, and the boss takes damage at an alarming rate. Before the second spawn everything is hatched. I flunk and forget to bubble my healer who dies immediately. Flipping all my cooldowns in short time, including a full self-heal I stay up long enough to see most adds vanish in a maddening cloud of AoE, and then there are three dps alone with a boss. Two of them manage to stay alive for over twenty seconds, and to my enormous surprise the boss keels over.

For the first time the healer complains, and rightfully so.

We burn our way to boss number four. This is a part of the fight I do in my sleep, so I concentrate on generating max dps. Still, close to 25k dps as tank isn't enough to hold aggro, but by now I just don't care. The group is superb, we hit the boss, it dies and I get some kind of funny achievement.

When I'm ready to pull the trash prior to the last two bosses I notice that two of my dps are absent. They stay absent. One of them continue to stay absent. Then a loot-message for some kind of mount pops on my screen. Realising I've forgotten to look at the cashe for speed-running the instance I decide to greed rather than need. All four pass and just throw me a 'congrats'. Now, that takes style. They could just have sped away together with me, but for some reason they decided to prolong the run by digging up a mount none of them were interested in.

The last part of the dungeon gets eradicated in the same style and I thank the group for the best pug I've seen in my life. The response is something along: "Yep, good run, decent tank."

That's about when it slowly dawns on me it wasn't really a pug. All four of them come from the same server.

What was the best run for me ever would likely have turned out to be a first class nightmare for a more green tank.

It made me realise you have to watch for what you wish for -- it might come true.

The joys of tanking pugs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trashing Firelands

Sporeggar EU is a convalecent backwater realm. Hence it should work as an example of how hard it is to get together proper pugs.

After doing my daily crap yesterday I saw a call for a Firelands trash run on /trade, I sent a whisper and got invited. Half of us, me included, had never seen the place as we zoned in.

There were some ugly wipes, the expected QQ, and then we started learning both trash and each other quickly. I'm pretty certain we botched quite a few of the mechanics during the run, but even so we didn't even bother with getting a new dps after one had to call it a day.

If our pug could nine-man most of the run with half of us neewbs, then there really is no excuse for staying out of these runs if you're a casual tank like me. One run saw me at some 1700 odd reputation, so I'll expect six instance resets to hit just below honoured. That's where easy trash stops giving rep, but I've come to understand that you could push above on a wipe-run on some of the harder trash if bosses are beyond your reach.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PvP gear for tanking

Even though it doesn't make me feel very happy, for those of you out there who never see a drop, the PvP helmets make a very good substitution.

The new ilevel 371 Vicious Gladiators Scaled Helm is better than anything you'll se before the Cataclysm tier 1 raids. You could get ilevel 359 tanking raid drop -helmets that aren't as good as this one.

The ilevel 384 cousin doesn't fare as well when compared with its Firelands ilevel 378 tanking cousins, but it's obviously a step up from the 371. Observe that 'not faring as well' still means that the 384 PvP helmet qualifies as a perfectly valid 378 tanking helmet, albeit poorly itemized.

The Ruthless cloak, at ilevel 384, clocks in as the second best tanking cloak in the game, only beaten by an agility based dps cloak. You have to love Blizzard for itemizing gear properly.

So, what's so interesting about these metal hats? Well, you can buy Honor for Justice Points, and you can buy Conquest Points for Valor Points.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Joys of pugging

Having done my dailies, pushed my poor hunter to 75, spent 4k gold on the AH buying every scrap of Savage Leather there was and realising I'm stranded at 510 Leatherworking, I gave up on upgrading my leg enchants.

Sporeggar EU is a backwater realm, so I wasn't too surprised seeing that the AH gaped empty on the upgrade for the second day in a row. The old one would have to serve me for a while longer.

I caved in to the ilevel greed and crafted myself a second Elementium Earthguard, lost a minor amount of CTC as I downgraded my shield from the 353 drop in one of the Zuls. At least I gained some armour and stamina.

I had, as is usually the case early after a content patch, run out of excuses to delay getting on with the VP grinding. It was time for LFD.

Now, I'm sitting on an average ilevel 359 goto raiding set with some 32% avoidance and 60% block. A full tierlevel above the Zuls it means I'm taking a risk when it comes to threat due to Vengeance scaling at glacial speed. At the other hand you never know what cards you will be played concerning the other four people you'll be grouped up with.

I hit Zul'Aman.

I was dealt a silent DK who occasionally managed to break the 10k mark, a healer I never got to measure as I take very little damage, and two people playing the druid class, one who spent most of the time in bear form focussing on something in my tertiary AoE circle and complaining about my tanking.

You see, a paladin tank has a primary target, or circle if you so want. That's the object or objects who receive our single target attacks. We also have a secondary circle consisting of the targets who get hit by our multi target attacks, usually Avenger's Shield, and the occasional direct hit if threat starts running low. Then there is the tertiary circle. Those targets should normally have been the subject of CC during the pull, but if they're not, they only get the attention of our pure AoE damage.

Anyway, as we disgustingly slowly grind our way through the gauntlet to the first boss I find myself both topping the charts an throwing taunts on cooldown. The druids target just about everything in the tertiary circle and then some. I let the worst offender die twice to get a cleaner run. While losing a dps is usually bad, the 6k lost is in effect neglible.

Eventually we hit the boss, and we wipe horribly. I'm aware I'll have problems doing decent damage in my gear, so I'm slightly surprised seeing myself at a steady 10k. That's a pretty good sign the small adds aren't killed fast enough. After the wipe I check my Recount and am stunned. The DK runs 9.5k dps, which places him firmly in the top of the three dps. The druids lumber in at 5.5 and 6.5k respectively.

The 5.5k genious is livid about me not tanking the big eagle carrying away people, and I realise this will be a never ending run unless I get out. I inform the group that boss-fight dps below the tank is unacceptable, and that doing well below 50% of the minimum dps given the gear requirements of the instance is a joke. To my great relief I'm immediately kicked.

The next group is a business minded 13k dps (apart from the berserk 45k AoE hunter who never uttered a word of complaint) and environmentally aware healer. We have a lock who's strangely silent after I expressed my hopes for a better run and referred to the numericals from the previous disaster. After a few trash pulls going slightly slower than I expected one dps reminds me that five players might come in handy at the boss. I'm a bit surprised, but it turns out the lock is AFK, and I never noticed, something I remark upon. My friendly, present, dps links the overall 5k dps delieverd by the lock this far, and he's kicked. Stuff dies, we collect our VP, politely share thanks for a pleasant run and disperse.

I want 280 VP, so a new group it is. It's the usual semi-decent dps never attacking skull and breaking CC gang while complaining about retarded tank. I've grown too old to react on those by now. They usually, and inevitably did, quit halfway through the instance. I got a new set of those as replacement, and they proved that I can't tank two casters and three melee throwing crap under my feet while someone collected reinforcements from the light knows where. They also quit.

The last replacement is decent. 16k or so dps, environmentally unaware and firm in their belief that their paladin tank should use his two interrupts on a six second CD each to handle all incoming spells. I tell them they're sadly misinformed about the paladin tank, but recount shows zero interrupts done by the entire party, which either indiactes a bug or rather awful lag. There's very little QQ in the end. We reform, focus and stuff dies.

So I'm sitting here, firmly reminded why quite a few tanks avoid pugs. To be honest only the first run was an utter disaster, but then I've evolved armour as every true tank does. Being called a retard by players who are unable to do their part doesn't concern me overy much, as long as they produce enough damage to see me further into the instance before they quit.

So, 280 VP and three typical types of pugs. It could be worse.

Maintankadin failsafe gearing guide, 4.2

I have updated the guide so that it's current. Please inform me of any mistakes I've made.