The random ramblings of a casual tankadin

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Random battlegrounds: Eye of the Storm

This one is rather fun for a tank. Four towers, one flag.

The general strategy is to leave the flag alone and capture towers ASAP. A semi-decent team will have two smaller groups capture the two towers closest to your starting spawn, and either one massive or two smaller zergs fighting for the tower/s closest to the enemy starting spawn.

For a tank this presents a golden opportunity to do it all wrong, provided that you clearly state what you're up to before the battle starts. You're hitting the flag, and you don't want any help.

Most often this is a suicide mission. You get to the flag and blow every defensive CD in your arsenal in order to keep enemy players tied up by a flag they shouldn't have come to in the first place. If you can keep four or five players busy there for some thirty seconds, then your reward is likely to see three towers captured in the absence of defenders.

Sometimes the enemy team has a working leadership, and you'll end up by the flag alone. Not much to do about it. Collect and head back home to capture it. The lack of a single tank at the towers is outweighed by the extra points you get by capturing the flag.

If you're followed by a bunch of teammates to the flag, just ride through the area and attack an enemy tower. You're up for a bad start with a group of people hitting the flag instead of the towers, and the best way to do something about it is to go suiciding at one of the enemy towers in the hopes that your presence there will see the enemy team move more players to defence. It's unlikely, but I've seen it happen.

After the battle has started in earnest you should rotate between three types of duties. Defend an undermanned tower, attacking an undermaned enemy tower or hitting the flag if there is an enemy group at it.

If you're defending, do call out incoming enemies. Your job isn't simply to suicide. Your job is to stay alive until reinforcements can arrive.

If you're attacking a tower alone, then you are indeed suiciding. Make an effort to get inside, or behind a corner, or whatever you can do to move the defenders away from a position where they can see incoming forces. Chances are they'll call out for reinforcements to a defence which really doesn't need any.

If you're hitting the flag, then you're suiciding to keep enemy players busy at a location they shouldn't be in.

Sometimes you can even help your team by fighting on the roads. This will only be true if you can grab the attention of three or more enemy players.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nerf to the ground

As you might have noticed we got ourselves another BH earlier this week. Now I'm situated on an all but dead realm, but you really ought to get out there and start pugging FL if you haven't done so before.

By shredding the bosses you ought to be able to take them on rather than being satisfied with a trash pugging run. Semi-abyssmal dps ought to be enough to take out 4/7 bosses.

With decently competent healers and tanks Belth and Shan should be quick work. Dps still needs to be able to steer Ryl, and obviosuly everyone has to be able to rotate shards on Bal.

Still, give it a shot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random battlegrounds: Isle of Conquest

So, let's have a look at the other mass combat BG.

Just as when comparing WSG with TP, you'll notice how Alterac Valley is positively huge when compared to IoC. Just as with TP this means you can actually change your mind as for wether going defensive or offensive.

As with Alterac there's very little you can do as well as any other role until the enemy boss is engaged. Go for a siege engine and get those gates down, or follow a parachut drop team to get inside and do the same job withou having to get gates down.

To a minor degree you can defend objectives, but the fight lasts for so short a time that taking enemy held objectives are rarely worth it.

You should expect the team rush madly for either the workshop or the docks initially. Preferably they should do both, but in a random BG with 40 players on each side there's very little coordination going on.

You'll just have to go with one group. Preferably the smaller one as you could make a difference in how long it takes your team to finally lose the initial struggle for that objective, and time is worth gold.

When the time comes to tank the boss, swap to PvE gear, pray enemy players are removed and make sure the boss stays in his room. You don't want the wiping buff to kick in. Use your raidwall (if specced into it) for the first jump (one of two boss special attacks) and drop your area heal at the same time. It's helpful if someone in the assaulting team could drop a bloodlust or similar just after the pull. Hence it's a good idea to communicate this on chat before pulling.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Random battlegrounds: Alterac Valley

This is one of the large scale battlegrounds, and to be honest my knowledge of the overall strategy for this one is rather shady.

With very little to do when it comes to handling enemy players I usually ride to the very opposite end and start picking off archers and burn down two bunkers.

While I wait for more people to join I continue killing off the NPC:s, and eventually I swap to my PvE tanking gear and hit the enemy boss when we're ready for the final assault.

I'm a bit unclear as to how important it is to clear out every NPC at the enemy starting base, but in order to make the ordeal as short as possible I'll drag the elite ones out of their buildings and tank them in plain sight of my team mates. This almost inevitably leads to them being burned down in seconds as people have a tendency to attack anything that is being fought close by.

The final fight is a pure tank and spank fight with no finesse involved at all. Don't forget to swap to PvE tanking gear as it makes the fight a lot easier for your healers. You can't do anything about remaining enemy players more than pray your team keeps them CC:d rather than getting involved in in an outright fight as this slows down the boss fight considerably.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Random battlegrounds: Strand of the Ancients

Let's have a go at what I believe is the most tank-hostile BG of them all.

Basically, we have nothing to offer here, or almost nothing.

The battle is split into two rounds. One attacking and one defending. Attackers protect siege engines, pick up bombs and commit general mayhem to gates in a wild race to the last gate. They need to remove slowing debuffs from the engines, slow defenders, capture graveyards and get to the final goal in short time.

Defenders, well, they have to make this not happen. So, slow engines, slow attackers, defend graveyards (within reason) and overall become a major PITA at all natural choke points.

We have poor snaring abilities, a stun on a long CD, are suspectible to CC, do abysmal damage at close range and more or less no damage at all at long.


As an attacker, try getting up on an engine. The driver doesn't use any abilities anyway. Just drive and destroy. When your engine is about to blow up, desert it and get up on your mount. Ride the hell away if possible and pick up a new engine.

Later, always pick up bombs before picking up your engine. Same rule as above for almost destroyed engines, but this time you drop at the gate and deploy the bomb. Now our much maligned Consecration shines. People taking damage don't defuse bombs. Stay on top of the bomb and suicide while using every AoE attack in your arsenal. Anything that makes that bomb go off is a bonus.

If you're at the relic chamber when the gate breaks, and if you have the ability available, bubble immediately and rush for the relic.


Don't bother getting down to the dirty job. We have little to offer. Go grab a cannon instead. Bomb away at anything that moves, especially engines. When the gate you defend goes down, jump down on the enemy side of the gate. Take the portal to get back home faster.

We're doing poor damage, but we're still good at AoE tanking. Tank the graveyards. People taking damage can't capture any graveyards, and you can survive longer than a squishy. Suicide time again.

At the last choke point, and definitely at the Relic Chamber, please do bubble your healers. You're on defusing duty if the attackers allow you. Doing poor damage, remember?

So, are we entirely worthless? Well, we share a small benefit together with Frost DK. When a gate breaks down, ride at +20% speed and capture the graveyard associated with the gate that is still intact. Chances are you'll be alone capturing it, and you'll get a head start at picking up bombs and start driving for an undefended gate. It's not much, but it's something.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Random battlegrounds: TP

Twin Peaks is WSG on speed. They're very much alike, but they aren't identical.

To begin with the flag areas don't have the excessive amounts of attached areaas where you can run around and hide. They also lack the opportunity to back into a corner at the very place where you want to dump your flag.

TP is also smaller than WSG. Swapping between defence and offence is a lot faster.

All in all this calls for a slightly different strategy for the PvP tank.

When you collect the flag, ride in through the front door, but exit through the side entrance. Don't stay, just grab the flag and get the hell out.

When returning home I personally prefer going back through my front door. The reason for this is that I've seen too many abyssmal accidents result from having your team split in two groups because you're trying to sneak in through the side entrance together with your escort.

Going home through the front door means hacking your way through the choke point. Again this isn't as bad as it sounds if you have solid team  mates. You take fire because the flag you carry aggroes just about every enemy in sight, and your healers keep you up, remove snares and occasionally Holy Leaps you a bit closer to home. During the entire chaos your escort gets the opportunity to give enemy healers a hefty gift of hurt.

Obviously, if your team sucks, then going through the front door is suicide, but you're likely to get stomped all over anyway, so it really doesn't matter all that much.

Well back at home you'll want to stick close to the flag until you have incoming enemies. Then you should move to a corner which can't be targeted from the platform above you. That way ranged enemies have to get down on the floor where they can be targetted by your own melee. Make sure your healer stands close to you as well.

As with WSG, hiding above the flag is taking a huge risk. You can be separated from your escort and go down in seconds.

TP also differs from WSG in another way. Three tanks isn't all that excessive in TP. The reaon is that even a short delay can be golden. If you have three tanks in your team, then having one suiciding by crashing into the enemy train heading for your flag is good use of your money. If the enemy dismount to kill your offending tank (and they usually will) then you've just split the enemy into two separate groups even before they collected the flag.

In the best scenario this results in a slug-fest when your own flag carrier returns with their flag and they're still busy collecting your flag. You can afford going all out aggressive here, because even if you lose your flag by getting killed you still have ample time to collect theirs long before their flag carrier can return back home. Obviously you could get lucky and down most of their team before they can exit the building, and if that happens you're very likely to kill their flag carrier during the next wave of combatants incoming from the grave yard.

Just as with WSG the battle will usually boil down to you waiting at home with the enemy flag while your stacks of damage debuff tick away. The difference is that incoming waves of enemies come quicker compared with WSG, and an offensive team have a far greater chance of going defensive due to the shorter distances involved.

In the three tank team (or a two tank one with a squishy collecting the enemy flag and returning for a drop off) this means you want one tank being a major PITA on the bridge separating the playing fields. If that tank and a healer can keep three or four enemies busy in the middle you're likely to have superior numbers where it matters. It also slows down incoming attacks.

As for the flag carrier back at home, you'll have to take much higher risks compared to WSG. You're a weak damage dealer, but a damage dealer still. During enemy waves you'll simply have to take an active part in reducing them. This will mean you risk being CC when your own team kills the enemy flag carrier, in which case they'll pick up the flag before you can capture it. If your healer is a priest this isn't a problem as long as you have spoken beforehand. Have your priest healer heal you from the capture point and Holy Leap you immediately if your own flag is returned home. Obviously never fight out of reach from your healer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Random battlegrounds: WSG

Two flags, get the enemy one, stay alive and have your friends kill the enemy flag carrier.

This is a BG where a tank shines.

I've learned to dispense with all finesse. Just ride across the field, keep a little bit to the right to avoid getting caught up by enemy CC. Ride straight through the front door and keep running.

This can be done even without escort, but if the flag is guarded by more than two people you're dead. Preferably you have a squishy with you to grab enemy attention.

Get the flag, and avoid getting involved in any fights unless you're zerging the place. Run back out the same way you came. Don't forget to check for the speed-buff.

What I've found working out best is to cross the field somewhat on the outskirts of where fighting is going on. You're likely to draw attention, but unless the team you're grouped with are hopelessly bad you'll also get yourself a pretty strong escort.

The reason getting slightly caught up in battle mid-field is actually pretty good is that you'll draw fire onto yourself. Your healers are likely to be left alone, and with a live healer you can crawl all the way to the flag-deposit point without going down. I even go as far as backpedalling the last bit to make sure enemy players don't lose interest in me. By that time I've stacked up an impressive amount of vengeance, and reds quickly learn that a flag carrier actually hurts pretty bad.

The kind of attrition fight described above should normally give your dps a decent opportunity to catch the enemy flag carrier in superior numbers. The reason for this is that while you slowly fight your way home, the closer to your own spawn point you get. As players die left and right you'll generate a continuous superiority in numbers simply because the enemy has longer to ride to get back in action.

Back at home you just cram yourself into a corner by the deposit point. Hopefully you have a small escort including a healer staying with you.

I know a lot of people prefer staying upstairs, but my experience is that this is all too often a very bad idea. If an enemy DK pops into the fight you're likely to be physically separated from your healer. It's a lot harder to split up the defending group if they're close to the flag.

When the enemy arrive, and they probably will, you'll need to check their numbers. If they're few you most likely want to leave your protected position and assault in order to help with local numerical superiority. Use SoT and let them eat shield.

If they're a crap-ton, make sure you're seen and back into that corner again. Hopefully one or two enemy melee dps beeline directly for you, giving you a superb opportunity to tank them PvE boss-style. Even though some 25% block chance is rather poor, it's a lot better than zero. Add that your measly dodge and parry both activate if you're fighting frontally. It all adds up. Your stun is a defensive cooldown as well. Use it.

This is also the point when you need to decide if you're going to bubble before going down or if you're going to risk being CC when you need to pull the LoH off. Always remember that bubbling makes you drop the flag, so this has to be timed. As for the general fight just distribute your defensive cooldowns evenly and keep a very close eye on your healer health. You'll want to bubble him/her when things look dark.

Also don't forget your raidwall (if you're specced into it) and the measly area heal you have available. You should probably fight with SoI rather than SoT when overwhelmed numerically as well. WoG at CD, so use that SotR sparingly. If you have time and are able to see anything, free friendly melee dps from slows.

Usually nothing funny will happen until the flag carriers have collected four stacks or more of the damage debuff. This is also when enemy zergs usually occur. Eat food, bandage and throw self-heals between attack waves. Also, don't forget to buff up occasionally.

When the flag has been captured you need to know if you're one or two flagcarriers in your team. Sometimes a squishy grabs the enemy flag. In that case you need to get out to orchestrate a drop off. If you have a proper tank picking the flag up, then you should join the offensive team. Not because you're especially good at killing anything, but because you want to be close to the enemy flag when it spawns after the next capture.

Now get out there and tank your way to glory.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Random battlegrounds: general

I'll give my input as a casual tanking PvP player. Hence BG are always the atrocity called random battle grounds.

I'm assuming that you're joining in some kind of tank spec, possibly in your main tank spec.

I'm also assuming that you have access to a semi-decent set of PvP gear. Say the 371 you collect for honor. If you don't, just don't bother. You're made of paper the moment a caster shows up.

You'll be doing bloody awful dps, so your goal is to stay alive in a constructive way. Or you'll suicide in an equally constructive way.

When suiciding, try getting a message away that you're planning to do so, and that you don't want any help. Your mission is to buy the rest of the raid a few extra seconds by keeping some opponents busy killing you. Just burn every CD you have available for survival and pop whatever CD you have for getting out of CC.

When staying alive you're either waiting for reinforcements to arrive, in which case you do as when suiciding, or you're jogging around with a flag. In the latter case you're trying to reach teammates unless you already have an escort with you. Use defensive cooldowns sparingly if you have a healer with you. In that case, attack as many targets as possible. You want people hitting you and leaving your healer alone.

When people refuse to hit you, or you're getting chain CC:d, Hand of Sacrifice a friendly target who's taking a beating.

I'll follow up with some more specific articles for casual BG-playing as a tank.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Those last twenty

If you don't have access to raiding spots, something which all too often happens to me, but still grind out the 980 VP weekly, then you're likely to run into the revenge of the twenty.

You did a couple of randoms, and then BH opened up. After that you did more randoms, and now you're stuck with 960 out of 980 weekly VP.

So, do them or not?

For practical purposes, don't. They're worth just a bit above two percent of your weekly gain. In order for the difference to make up for even the trinket you need to grind those twenty out for 35 weeks. That's about the lifetime of the entire content patch.

If you have nothing to do, sure, but at least don't live under the illusion that it'll make any noticable difference.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A short piece of advice, shards

"It's pointless to run Tol Barad / Random battleground / weekly heroics."

Heard that one before? Even said it?

Well, if that's the case, my respect for you.

I've also heard it from people who believe I should hand over WoW-gold because I have so much. Dream on!

When you do mass-PvP (as in TB or BG), or when you run your weeklies, you amass a staggering amount of Honor and Justice Points respectively. This just happens, no matter if you're interested in it or not.

Now, watching someone capped at 4000 honor or JP, who's stating in a deadpan voice that they are unable to produce WoW-gold is a bit like watching a kid firmly in belief that a baby will never be able to walk because it's currently crawling.

Walk to the honor/JP trade goods vendor. Buy Heavenly Shards at 600 honor/JP each. Then walk over to the auction house and list them. In a worst case scenario you should make an extra 100 gold daily. It's not much, but it really didn't cost you any effort either.