Tuesday, 29 April 2008

What do you need?

So, Darkmaw is now level 70 and has a flying mount. Now when I feel like instancing I can really take my pick of which role I want to fill, which was the point behind leveling him.

I am really enjoying the simplicity of the shaman class too. Two buttons for damage and no waiting. Root your feet, use the time the tank pulls to plant totems and allow them to build threat and then unleash with lightning bolts. If there is only one mob then you can rotate in chain lightning too (or if you've got a tank that can actually build multiple target's worth of solid threat).

In PvP I can kite warriors and rogues (sometimes) using a mix of frost shock and totems. I can control a magic user for a while using earth shock and totems. I can stand at the back and chain lightning and lightning bolt the crap out of people for maximum honour kills.

It's really a lot of fun!

Now I just need to work on his gear a little and I'll be ready for Karazhan runs. It'll be a novelty to have someone in the run who needs the loot!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Officer Status

Because of one or two moments of Real Life, our guild was an officer or two down. They asked me if I wanted to take on the role. When I asked what I had to do they told me that I didn't need to do anything, just take part in the officer chat. I thought that I could easily fill that role so I accepted.

Now I'm a raid leader, class leader and an officer. How do I find myself with these ever increasing responsibilities? I had hoped to be one of the coasters again, like I was when I first started raiding (well, to be fair I didn't coast, I was just over-awed by the whole '40-man raid' thing and often didn't know what the hell was going on). Plan A out of the window then.

Class Leadership

A while back I was given the role of class leader for the druid class. I wasn't asked if I wanted it, or even if I knew anything about balance or restoration druids (which I don't). But, class leader I was. It was okay though, since being class leader seemed to involve doing nothing at all very much.

A few weeks back I was asked, in my capacity as class leader, to vet a new applicant. Fortunately the guy was a feral druid, so I was at least dealing with a spec I knew about.

I looked at his gear and it frankly sucked. It was fine for tanking easy 5 mans, but nowhere near good enough for Kara. He was missing easily obtained quest gear and had some total trash in their place. I then looked at his talents and saw that he was totally PvP spec. A more hard core guild would have told him to get lost, but we're a nice guild and so I instead gave him some pointers (such as talent choices and gear upgrades if he wanted to Kara with us) and accepted him into the guild.

He wants to come to Kara as a DPS class. With a feral build. I rejected him from the Kara run I organised on Friday because his gear was not good enough to be a feral DPSer. It's not good enough to tank either, and it could be made so with a little bit of solo effort.

He tanked a heroic guild run that had one of our paladin healers (with 2.1k + healing), and our best hunter (who consistantly manages over 1k DPS). Wipe city? You better believe it was. I checked out his new talent spec this morning and he's not maxed out Survival of the Fittest (an absolute must have talent), he's chosen to have Imp. Mark of the Wild (+35% effect on MotW) and Natural Shapeshifter (-30% shifting costs) over Furor (+10 rage for bear or +40 energy for cat when switching) and Naturalist (+10% melee damage). Apart from not maxing out Survival of the Fittest, his feral talents are good.

I wish I could see what gear someone had in their bags, I really do. That way I could tell if he means to tank with only 369 defence (without Survival of the Fittest, too) or if he has a bunch of defence gear in his bags and the armoury image is just his solo grinding gear or something.

He also signed up for our collaborative Gruul's Lair run... as DPS...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Gruul, Take Two

So, our second collaborative run of Gruul's Lair was just a short while ago. It could have gone better...

Firstly, our partners in crime, Team Foxhound, had only four members on when we should have been starting. Not good. We had 14 members online, but two of them were rejected because of gear and so we were bringing one person too few to the raid as well.

It took an hour and fifteen minutes for Team Foxhound to get their members ready and for us to find how many extras we needed. We then had to call in friends to fill the last five places (FIVE!). Fortunately one of our healers logged on, after having already told us they'd be much too late for the start, and we only needed to pick up people for four places.

To start with, we sucked. Big piles of suck. No one would move with the mage when they ran in to start the pull, so all five of the bosses would stomp him and then run loose. Nice. That happened about five times. Each time there was a count down, and each time the mage was mashed and the wipe inevitable.

Then we filled the last space we had with Someone Who Knew What They Were Doing!

From then on it was lovely. We had another wipe on the High King before he managed to fully assert himself, then we downed the King and two-shotted Gruul. Lovely.

Sleeter also landed himself a pair of shiney T4 legs. Very nice. I also got the epic boots from SSO before we set off for Gruul, so I got myself some very nice equipment upgrades yesterday!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Gruul the Big Whuss

So, Coup de Grace (the guild I'm in) teamed up with Team Foxhound to make a run on Gruul the Dragonslayer. Being the first collaborative effort we undertook it got off to a slightly rocky start, but we were soon in the instance and taking down the trash.

It was wonderful to be attempting an instance which wasn't Karazhan!

We got to High King Maulgar and spent a while sorting out the order as well as who would take on what role. After about ten minutes of tactics we started the fight. I was there as Sleeter and was on healing duty for HKM's tank. I thought that it would require more healing than it did, to be fair. I was still on about 80% mana when the king dropped. First attempt.

So, either all the tactics and preparation from everyone paid off, or he's just a big whuss. I'm more inclined to think the latter, since it was a joint run on an instance for the first time (for most of us). We shouldn't be able to one-shot bosses on our first time in an instance unless the boss is a wimp.

HKM dropped two Hunter/Mage/Warlock tokens and a Warrior/Priest/Druid token. I rolled 10, so missed out on the token.

Then we went on to Gruul. We wiped a couple of times getting the shatter phase right, but then we started another attempt and my PC turned itself off (as it had been all night). I rushed to get the damn thing started again and loged in just in time to see Gruul fall over dead. Taking him one healer down? No worries!

Again, Gruul dropped two Hunter/Mage/Warlock tokens, but his third token was a Paladin/Rogue/Shaman token.

Another nice progression night for Coup de Grace though! Loverly juberly.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Nurturing Instinct

I've read a lot lately about the changes to Nurturing Instinct. Most of it discussion about whether or not it's a raid viable talent now. I'd have to say that, in my opinion, it's not.

The two forks of NI are:
  • Agility becomes +healing

  • Cat form gains 20% extra incoming heals

Now, if one considers that even a feral druid might be called on to heal, then the agility to healing looks very tempting. However, you shouldn't be called on to heal in your agility gear. And if you are then all the +healing in the world is unlikely to help you, since you're mp5 and mana pool are going to be totally gimped. You might get +500 healing from your agility, but if you're only able to put out 30 seconds worth of healing (for the rest of time, since you have no spirit either), what will it matter? It could be argued, I'll admit, that since your base agility is 66 then this will always yield at least +66 healing. It's a nice amount just from a talent, and if you were a healer and it was in the restoration tree then it would be a very nice talent. However, I personally don't have two points to spare, especially on making myself better at a role I've no desire to fill. At the moment I am trying to free up two points for Shredding Attacks which I should really have since the natural position for druid tanks is off-tank, which means we spend a lot of time filling a DPS role as well. Trying to then find another two points for NI would be even harder.

The other fork of this talent, +20% healing recieved in cat form, might be quite nice. I have healed as a holy priest, and I know that it's nice to heal a warlock because they take extra healing. However, I don't factor in the fact that a lock takes extra healing when I hit my button, so I end up over healing them a lot. I imagine the same taking place in this case. The healer wont be paying a lot of attention to the druid's form when they throw out their heal so there will be no increased efficiency.

I firmly believe that NI is a PvP talent. Where it will shine is when the druid shifts, spams a few heals on themselves and then shifts back to cat, meaning that heach heal has their +agi-as-heal on it and each heal over time has their 20% healing on it. Which would be very nice indeed and might mean the difference between life and death against a player. A raid boss isn't so easily impressed, though.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Epic!

I got my epic flight form, finally. I'd had the Sethekk Halls stage sat in my quest log for a good long while, then the other day it seemed like the perfect time to actually go ahead and get it over with. We were grouped to get the guild mistress' shadow priest Karazhan keyed (no, you don't need it any more, it's nice to let yourself in though) and once that was done the GM switched to her mage and we stormed Sethekk Halls heroic.

We only had a few little difficulties on the first boss, until we got the tactics sorted out and killed him with ease. We took out the raven god with very little trouble, considering our tactics at the start were along the lines of "What's he do? Add? Okay, we take them out, right?" No mention of his AoE sleep or his feather cyclone, or his fading or indeed anything else that might have helped us cope better with the fight. But we still did it, went on and took out the last boss, despite him wiping out the DPS, leaving only me tanking and one of our raid healers healing me. It was a lot smoother once he'd killed those pesky DPSers.

So, now I get my instant cast epic, which I can do my skinning in and not get stunned out of. Wonderful!

Sort of makes up for the stuff I've been reading about druids not being able to tank in T5/T6 content. Only sort of.

Self-Destruct Time?

So, as always happens, I'm staring down the barrel of a guild self-destruct. We have had a minor splinter of people leave the guild, mostly because one left and pulled the rest 'of his friends' with him then that was followed by the GM handing over power for personal reasons, which took her husband, another officer of the guild, out of the mix too. Their both still there but they're sitting back for now.

Arse biscuits? You betcha.

I was really starting to enjoy the guild. We were honestly on the verge of stepping into Gruul's Lair. Now that's all been kicked in the nuts and we're on the verge of falling into the abyss. Or at least spending a good while longer being trapped in Karazhan. If that's the case I can see more people leaving us, which will result in our further fall from grace.

How do people manage to hold guilds together for so long? How do guilds manage to find 25+ people who aren't asshats or drama llamas? When you get right down to it, how can you avoid Real Life Factors biting your guild in the butt?

On a brighter note, my activities as raid leader look like their on their way back. I was asked to take over last night's Kara run and we managed to down up to Curator (excluding Nightbane), each boss taken out in one attempt. All that despite the guild drama happening before our eyes, as three members left (only one of which was an actual raider, but a damn good raider) and the guild leadership transfered hands. We lost a few people on Attumen, lost a few on Maiden, had a few people die on trash pulls, all due to the major lack of focus. I think we did well to get as far as we did with most people's minds being totally elsewhere.

I said we'd start on Nightbane on the next run, since we were all so unfocused. The off-tank argued saying that he only wanted to Kara for one item from Nightbane. Everyone else seemed up for a few tries on him, and we'd one-shotted all the bosses. So we tried Nightbane. It was abundantly clear that no one really had the focus for him, so the raid was called. Sometimes I hate being right, other times it's nice to think that you know your team well enough to sense when they're going to manage a fight and when they're not. Shame I couldn't avoid the evening ending on a sour note, really.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Bear Tanking is Dull?

So, I was reading this blog entry over at Elitist Jerks. It struck me that I'm the oposite of this individual. I like tanking because it's much less stressful. I don't have to watch bouncing health bars and feel I must do something about them. I don't feel I have to compete (unless we bring along a PUG tank who feels it's his duty to show how large his e-peen is by pulling agro) because the only thing that is my responsibility is keeping agro and maybe bear-charging to the rescue.

I was just interested in the difference of opinion here. I know a lot of people say they prefer it if things are 'interesting', but I find bear tanking interesting, I keep my rotation up, use my rage as soon as I can, get as much threat as I can muster and watch the mobs hit points vanish. That for me is interesting.

I also like the fact that I can tank better than a warrior in almost all situations. It's good.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Raid Loot Rules

I can't think of anything more likely to cause guild drama than the loot rules the guild implements. Strict systems of DKP can lead to DKP hording, meaning that people who could potentially be gearing themselves up and helping the raid more choose to have a potential upgrade sharded because they're after a 'better upgrade'. Lax systems which don't use DKP can lead to coveted items going to someone who is just lucky, rather than to someone who is recognised as deserving it.

Which system is better? I think it depends on the instance and on the group of people you have at your side. If you're in a friendly, helpful, unselfish guild that is raiding ten-man content then rolling could well be your best bet as the group you are in will likely be able to see past their own wants to the guild needs and let the person who needs the loot most have it.

If you're in a large guild of drama llamas raiding 25 man content then you probably need a solid DKP system to stop people bleating about the unfair allocation of loot to new people, or whatever they're about to bleat about. With a strictly defined system of loot allocation there is little room for people being unaware of who a given piece is going to, should it happen to drop.

Is there a middle point though? Can you have a DKP system without DKP hording? Can you have a roll based system where people are rewarded for the effort they put into progression runs? It's almost impossible to design a system that will work for every single guild, because the drama llamas in one guild might be mighty beasts, able to make drama out of something others see as perfectly fair and reasonable.

In Coup de Grace we have a very loose set of raid loot rules. Primary specs can roll for an item, but if you win an item you're expected to set aside your right to roll on the next item. You don't have to, you can roll, but if you are rolling against someone deemed to be in greater need of the item then your roll may be ignored. If no primary specs want the item then the off-specs get to roll. If no off-specs want it then it gets sharded and the shards put in the guild bank. It has served us well so far, some runs yeild loot like water for one class which is the way things go some times. Other runs only serve to boost the prowess of our off-spec abilities. But most people are happy to pass over their priority if it means gearing someone else up who needs it.

We've been considering implementing a DKP system for our progression into Gruul, but it's hard to know how this will change the dynamic of the guild. Will people suddenly start to feel entitled to items, even if they can't really make use of them? Will our newbies start to get shafted, only ever getting the detritus no one else wants? It's really difficult to know what is for the best.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Karazhan from the other side

So, my first week as a raid leader is over. We did two days of Karazhan, on the first day we did everything up to Curator and then went on to Shade of Aran and then the Chess Event. It went well, we had a little trouble on Aran like always, but the group knows the encounters well and mostly just one-shotted the bosses.

The group composition wasn't the greatest. We had three rogues, a mage, a shadow priest, two holy paladins, a holy priest (me), a protection paladin and a protection warrior. The amount of melee DPS would come back to haunt me when it came to taking out Prince.

We had the Romeo and Juliet fight for our Opera Event. I'd made the call that we'd just go in an do whatever spawned for us, because I had faith in my team. However, I over-looked the fact that one of our tanks wasn't actually a guild tank, he was from the guild the GM used to be in, and was just filling in for us. To say he lacked confidence would be a bit of an understatement. He was a good tank, so long as he wasn't worrying about not knowing what to do when. We told him his tank target and he was on her when she spawned. However, he then went and tanked the next boss as well. So that caused us some problems. We also lacked a bit of co-ordination when taking them both down and it meant we had to start all over again (no wipe, just start that phase again). As soon as the non-guildie tank was on his target in the third phase he seemed to be happy and it went well.

Whatever they've done to the Prince fight, I hate it. He now seems to position his infernals to be just perfectly in the wrong place at the wrong time. In one of our attempts he threw three away from us and then dropped a fourth, making a line of infernals which we couldn't get past without running through the flames. Well, we could so long as we moved as soon as the infernal dropped, which most didn't. Sadly, the only boss which remained at the end of the second run was Prince. He mocked up by going down to 5% on one try and 6% on another, but because our melee DPS kept getting themselves nuked by the enfeble and nova we didn't have enough DPS left going into phase three to actually take him down.

I am quite happy with how it went as a run, and although my healing suffered because I was trying to monitor everything and call out what needed to be done I don't think the run actually felt my drop in healing. I think I prefer just being there and doing just my job, rather than trying to make sure everyone's job got done at the same time as trying to do my own.

I have to admit, the most stressful part of the entire thing was having master looter. The possibility that I'd totally mess up and assign a tanking shield to a rogue was always present in the back of my mind and I double- and triple-checked each click I made to ensure the right people got the right loot.

Also, remember how I said I wanted to go as my healer so that I wasn't assigning loot to myself? Yeah? Well that didn't work. There were two drops for my healer. For one I was uncontested, but for the other the GM decided that the item was a priest item, not a paladin item and so although one of our palas wanted it, it was to go to me. Foo. Maybe next time I raid lead I should go as my tank 'so I don't have to assign loot to myself'. Maybe he'd get some damn tanking drops then.

The lessons I learnt? Well, for one I found that my natural cool temper was very beneficial. Whenever a wipe happened I was able to keep cool and just be encouraging to the things that were going well and hand out advice for the things that were going wrong. Because the majority of the people who attended had done it before my job was really easy, so I didn't have to do anything drastic and people helped out when I was explaining things like the Netherspite fight. I was also allowed to do my own tactics which was great.

Everyone said it was a good run at the end, but they would since it's not right to kick a guy for his first attempt. The guild officers and I decided as well that next week there wouldn't be a second Kara run, since this week the group one followup run had to be cancelled due to a lack of tanks and the group two run had to borrow a tank from another guild. Also some people are taking their raiding spot for granted, which they can when there are two runs and only just enough people to fill the slots. So, although I might retain the raid leader title I wont be leading a raid for a while.