Tanking for Dummies

Frost Lotus Droprate Increased
February 18, 2010, 1:22 pm
Filed under: News, Raiding | Tags: ,

Listed below are recent fixes we have applied to the game. Keep in mind that some of these changes may not be active until after the realm has been restarted.

To review previous in-game fixes, please visit: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=21723843880&sid=1


  • The drop rate of Frost Lotus, from herbs in Northrend, has been increased by 50%. (Source)





You’re not Hardcore Enough: Icecrown Gating
February 11, 2010, 11:08 am
Filed under: News, Raiding | Tags: , ,

In case you missed it, the most pernicious part of Icecrown Citadel’s Gating vanished on Tuesday:

After each region’s maintenance this week, raids will no longer lose attempts on wipes in Normal mode for Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. There will still be limited attempts in Heroic mode.

We will continue to monitor developments in Icecrown Citadel in the future, especially since the Heroic difficulty has been unlocked by a significant number of raids. (Source)

I will admit, I was expecting this development at some point, but this felt too soon.  Should I feel ashamed or something that Axiom was not among that “significant number of raids”?  Or, you know, even among those that had unlocked the Lich King?

I can’t say that I am.  I can’t really speak for Seri, or others in charge, but since we’ve focused our time on working on the non-attempt locked bosses I’m assuming that they were laboring under the same assumption that I was – namely that we’d at least have a few weeks before the counter was removed from normal mode.

For those of you feeling like Blizzard just poked your Bloodrage button – I can understand.  The Lich King had only been unlock-able a week.  You could be forgiven for thinking that Blizzard only put this “feature” into ICC to put the reigns on the top tier of raiding guilds.  Which is to say it failed utterly since the Lich King was dead 24 hours after the potential to do so was made available.

The effect was really only to make it more difficult for the next tier of raiders to take down (or even take shots at!) the Lich King that first week.  A kind of double kick in the no-no parts of raider pride.  You cannot say now “Well, we’re not a top 100 raid guild – but at least we killed the Lich King when he required attempts to do so.”  Either you killed him in the first week it was available – or you’re just a scrub.

Oh.  Wait, there is that matter of the buff.  So there is some hope left to distinguish yourself from the unwashed masses.

Better do it quick though – no telling when Blizzard will start implementing that one.  Recent developments indicate it could be as soon as next week.

A Simple Reminder
February 1, 2010, 11:23 am
Filed under: Gear, Raiding | Tags: , ,

How do you measure the value of an upgrade?  The stats on the item? Gearscore rating? Perhaps a list made by a blogger?

Quantum Fluid Theory?

No matter what system you use for determining your list of desired upgrades, before you do boot up your armory profile and consider this little bit of advice:

An upgrade is only as good as the piece it is replacing.

Take, if you will, the case of Tarsus’ gloves. They’re Tier 8 (Ulduar) set gear.  I’m not still wearing them because they’re some sort of super itemized awesome piece – I’m wearing them because my Tier 9 options were downright underwhelming.  Given the sparsity of hit on Tier 9 gear, that 49 hit rating was quite valuable – and they didn’t exactly have another option available.  In terms of my list of priority – gloves were then at the bottom.

Now looking at what is available in Tier 10, I have other options.  Specifically I have an attraction to the Sanctified Ymirjar Lord’s Handguards, now that (come Tuesday) they have bonus armor on them.  Having that clear of an upgrade over my existing gloves moves them substantially up the priority list (now at priority one, since that is my last piece of Non-Heroic Tier 8 gear).

Sometimes this is easier than others, as described in the example above.  It is, however, more difficult when you have to weigh the impact on your entire gear set.  For example, you could pick up Last Word – but it has no defense, no hit, no expertise – hell it doesn’t have anything on it by stamina and that proc.  That is a pretty hefty hit when you compare it to my Sorthalis – I need to find some of those stats elsewhere before I can equip it.  Down on the priority list it goes (despite replacing gear of lower Tier).  I still need a weapon upgrade, but maybe I can stand to find some new boots first.

So, when weighing spending your DKP or just making up your list – remember that your tank is the sum of their parts and give some thought to your upgrades and prioritize.  You never know, there might be another tank in your raid that needs that piece more than you and you need to know how generous you can be.

Rotface is one ugly fight
January 18, 2010, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy, Stupid Tanking | Tags: ,

We have been wiping on Rotface enough that I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the way this fight is supposed to work.  I will say, however, that I don’t feel like we’re particularly any closer to beating him because of it.  Let me tell you, tank boys and girls, Rotface is one ugly bastard.

In this drama, I play the tank with the easier job – actually tanking Rotface.  Now, he can melee pretty hard, but mainly My job is to keep him in the middle of the room, and play monkey in the middle with him and the DPS.  By that, I mean that when he sprays, the DPS runs behind him, and right before he goes back to melee I step in front of him.  It keeps the DPS up by making them move only the once.

The harder job in this fight goes to a Paladin tank, kiting the big slime around the room.  There are several reasons for this:  First and most importantly is it gives the kiting tank control of dispelling Mutated Infection.  Second, Paladins have quite good ranged threat capacity. And Third, should it be necessary, the Paladin can use Blessing of Freedom to run through the green slime pools without be slowed down.

We have this execution down really well, we on the tank team.  Yet, despite this, the following problems occur:

  • A shaman (generally) pulls healing threat on the small slime that spawns right after Mutated Infection is dispelled, resulting in a small slime in the raid.  Supposedly, this is impossible, but I’ve seen it often enough to know that this is not really true.
  • Same as above, but as the result of the mutated infection victim dying.
  • During the Unstable Ooze Explosion, we run out too early, spreading the explosion way too far and killing people.
  • Same as above, but too late and getting people with lag killed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we can execute this dance of death repeatedly without incident very very often.  However, the major block for us right now is the fact that each time the dance gets a little faster (and hence, the above conditions happen more often) and eventually it nails us.

And here is the clincher after a fashion:

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.(Source)

We have a limited time to do this with our pride as raiders intact.  Now, my understanding is that this won’t start up until after the Lich King is available – but if we’re stuck trying to get to Putricide until after that buff goes off – it is going to hurt.

Happy (Belated) New Year, with Deathbringer Saurfang!
January 4, 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy | Tags: ,

Been a while, hasn’t it dear readers?

Last we left, Icecrown Citadel had all but just been breached.  And tomorrow, tomorrow, TOMORROW, the Upper Spire will be revealed at last.

But all that would be for naught should you be unable to conquer Deathbringer Saurfang.  It’s no surprise to anyone he’s one bad dude.  He is, after all, the son of the most bad dude (and who can blame him for not wanting to kill his own son, even in undeath?).  And, well, it’s not every day that you get a chance to step up to the plate and help your friendly High Overlord.

The key to this fight is all about reducing the amount of Blood Points he gets.  He gets them every time someone is hit by a special ability.  Axiom has downed him once so far, so I have a good sense of what works and a very good sense of what doesn’t.

So, for the record, the following does work:

  • Using an off tank (a Paladin or Death Knight would be good, if you have a spare) to kite the Blood Beasts and reduce the chance that people will get hit by them.
  • Spreading out the ranged DPS and Healers using a range finder in a boss mod (almost essential in 25 man). This avoids too many points from Blood Nova.
  • Using Hunter Traps to slow the progress of the Blood Beasts.  Cone of Cold can function as well.
  • Go into every taunt (as the two tanks on the boss) assuming that you are going to be resisted and readying your back-ups – just like on Gormok.

By contrast, the following we found to not work:

  • Frost Nova.  Tell your Mages to remove it from their bars.  The Blood Beasts will absolutely turn and nail anyone in range if they get stuck.  Getting them stuck in range of our Melee DPS made for very large blood point counts.
  • Relying on a boss mod to announce Mark of Blood on the tank.  Turn on Target of Target and watch your buddy’s portrait like a hawk.  It’s the only way to be sure. (and it’s not like you need to move much in this fight anyway)
  • Blowing cooldowns to max DPS before the First Mark of the Fallen Champion.  Yes, it gets a lot harder once that thing is up.  You need it a lot more once Frenzy hits, trust me on this.
  • Having more than three Marks of the Fallen Champion out before Frenzy is almost certainly going to result in failure.
  • Standing around like a post after the Blood Beasts phase and not moving back to your previous spot (see Blood Nova).
  • Stacking Avoidance.  He gets Blood Points when mark of the Fallen Champion is out, whether he hits you or not.

Also, for the record, these are the number of things we’ve observed that give him Blood Points:

  • Damage taken done by Blood Nova
  • Damage taken done by Blood Beasts
  • Damage taken done by Mark of the Fallen Champion
  • Damage done by Blood Boil
  • Healing done by Mark of Blood

The one thing we haven’t tried thus far is letting the recipient of the First Mark die.  I’ve heard this strategy a lot.  Frankly, I totally understand why this would work, but as a strategy it sucks because there are certain people (such as healers or tanks) that you can’t let die – so it blows to need to wipe your raid just so you can have it land on the right person.  I mean, in our raid comp, that’s almost a one in three chance.  Not my idea of a good time.

The funny thing is, in terms of strategy, Deathbringer Saurfang is very straightforward on paper.  You avoid blood points to delay getting Mark of the Fallen Champion as long as possible using the points I’ve mentioned above.  When he Frenzies, start DPSing like mad and don’t let the Marked people die.  The difficulty comes in the execution, and given that you can waste a lot of time (very long intro to the boss fight, can be difficult to tell when to wipe) the number of attempts you get on a given night is limited.  A little stupidity early on in the fight can have serious repercussions at the end, so this is not the fight to slack off on.  However, this isn’t Heroic Northrend Beasts, the thing that kills you isn’t a bad roll on the RNG.  What is needed is simply good execution, if you can get that, you’ll be dancing in the Fleshwerks in no time.

Wrangle-em Cowtank: Lady Deathwhisper 25-man Strategy
December 18, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy | Tags: , ,

While it is still fresh in my mind, I want to go a bit more in depth with my description of killing Lady Deathwhisper – more so than I did on Wednesday.  Of the fights available, Lady D is probably the most technical from a tanking perspective, so it wouldn’t hurt to touch on the strategy that Axiom used to take her down.

The important elements of this fight are as follows:

  • Appropriate division of Melee/Ranged DPS.
  • Focused DPS
  • Effective Crowd Control.
  • Quick mob recognition.

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I <3 High Overlord Saurfang
December 16, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , , , ,

Last night was the best night of raiding since 3.2 came out.

It didn’t start out seeming like it was going to be the win that it turned out to be.  We had some trouble with Lady Deathwhisper on Thursday, and we were coming at her again with an off-spec tank and only 5 healers.  But with some changes in strategy (using crowd control on the mobs closest to Lady Deathwhisper when they spawn, and keeping 3 shadow priests on the boss through the whole of phase 1), we brought her down the second time we made it to phase 2.

Which means we got to do the gunship battle.


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