Random Dungeon Slot Machine

I finally had a chance to play around with the new Random Dungeon feature in WoW…

The Good

As a healer, I get into random groups immediately.  Like, within seconds.  I first tried the new system out on Wednesday night.  I was planning to do some old world quests while waiting (tinkering with achievement stuff) and didn’t even make it to the Orgrimmar portal in Dalaran before being summoned for my first healing assignment.  Wow.

A moment later, my group and I were assembled inside the instance, which was … Not Oculus!  Yay!  😉  It was Nexus.  Easy peasy.  We blew through the place.  We greeded and disenchanted our way through most of the greens and blues, and the shaman got the healing mace for his offspec from Keristraza at the end.

The run was very business-like, too.  I was afraid that the random dungeons would be to pugs what battlegrounds are to Wintergrasp.  With no reputation to worry about, people were going to be the worst kinds of jerkfaces to one another.  Not so in any of the runs I’ve been on so far.  We had one tank tantrum (which I’ll talk about in the next section), but other than that people have been … professional?  Sounds weird, but I think that’s the right word.  Quite a surprise.

And as soon as one random dungeon run ends, I’ve noticed it’s very difficult to not queue for another immediately.  This new feature has eliminated much of what makes pugging so maddening:  the waiting.  You have to wait to get the appropriate roles filled, then you have to wait for people to finish doing whatever they were doing, then you have to wait for them to go back and repair because they forgot, or wait because their friend who needs help with Chillmaw just logged in, etc, etc.  Now, if you want to run a dungeon, there’s more immediate gratification.  That plus the unknown of what dungeon you might get gives it a sort of slot machine quality.  If I know I’m going to be online for at least 30 minutes, it’s hard for me not to queue up.

The Bad

I’ve noticed a trend with the tanks in these random dungeons.  They are ALL chainpulling.  While this can make it fun and interesting in many cases, it can also get the group into trouble.  The first random pug I ran with had an excellent bear tank.  He always stopped before bosses and if he ever noticed me at half mana, he asked if I wanted to stop and drink.  Most of the time the answer was “no,” but there were a few times were I was pretty low before a boss pull, so I’d mana up at least halfway.

In the next pug, however, the tank was not paying attention to the rest of the group at all and it did cause issues. We were in heroic Drak’tharon run and we had just finished killing King Drek.  People were milling around the body, looting, etc.  I stayed with the group and sat down to regen my mana.  Then I noticed the tank on my grid bar, out of range, with his health dropping rapidly. He had run up the stairs and started killing things by himself.

“Maybe you should have waited for us,” said the rogue, as the tank’s health dropped to zero.  The mobs started running down the stairs after us.  The rest of us were far enough ahead that we could likely get to the entrance, so we ran.  The tank asked why we hadn’t followed, and we said that we were waiting for the looting to finish, folks were getting mana back, etc.  “All of you?” he said.

“Everyone else was down here except you,” said the hunter.

We ran to the entrance.  I was the first one out the front door and as I stepped through, I honestly wasn’t sure where I’d end up.  Turns out I appeared in Dalaran on my home server … Oops.  I told the group where I was.  “It’s okay,” said the rogue.  “Just click on the eye to port back.”  I looked around for an eye.  Thanks to my addon which hides most of the buttons on my minimap, I didn’t see it right away.  In the moments before I found it, the tank quit the group.

After a brief discussion of the tank’s departure (turns out he was a member of the notorious Goon Squad, by the way), we decided to pick up another tank for the remainder of the instance.  Two folks turned it down (since it was a partial dungeon run at this point), but the third person offered the spot took it and helped finish it off.

Anyway, I have a feeling he won’t be the last tank to do something like that and get himself (or all of us) killed.  Another of the random dungeons I got was Utgarde Keep (if this is a slot machine, I think that might be the jackpot of easiness) and the tank decided to pull the entire group of protodrakes at once.  I’m a well-geared healer, but  I don’t think he was geared as well as he thought he was.  He was unable to hold aggro on all of the mobs so there was tons of party damage.  I managed to keep everyone alive except the boomkin. After being rezzed, the boomkin said, “lol fun,” so I guess he wasn’t too bothered.  I’m just not looking forward to the day I get blamed for crap like that.  I know it will happen.

Overall, I think this is a great addition to the game and could be quite good for our guild.  I worry a little about it being too easy to find a random group (it’s now faster to put together a random group than a guild one), but in the long run, it probably won’t change our guild culture much.  Folks do like running things together, and we do still have a subset of non-puggers who will always prefer the guild.

Beyond that, those hungry to run dungeons all the time will be able to find groups to do so, while the folks in the guild that aren’t in the mood to farm badges can do whatever they want and not feel guilty.  Folks may feel more inclined to gear up their alts, knowing they won’t always be depended upon in a particular role.  There are a few achievements and a pet that I’m looking forward to picking up from running the dungeons, as well…

And speaking of… it’s just after 5.  I wonder how many random dungeons I can get in before the raid tonight… 😉

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Healing Progression

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been finding the heroics pretty tough to heal in Wrath.  My mana feels stretched even during some of the regular pulls, and during boss fights, I often have to let people die in order to keep the tank alive.  If there are supplemental heals available, I breathe a little easier.  If I’m the sole healer, it can get dicey.  Sometimes, we simply don’t make it through.

I have to remind myself that the success or failure of a run isn’t always a reflection of my skills or my performance. Gearing of the tank, group composition, and DPS/CC abilities certainly come into play, as well.  Over the weekend, I ran a series of heroics with folks from another guild where I was the sole healer.  We cleared Utgarde Keep and the Culling of Stratholme, but couldn’t make it past Anomalus in Nexus.  We called it when the mobs started respawning in the halls on the way there.  I was a little bummed, but I have successfully healed groups through that fight before.  I know I’m capable of doing it.

It’s also been a little tough to get into heroics with the guild, given that we have so many more healers than tanks, lately.  It seems like a group forms early in the day/evening and sticks together through UK, Nexus, and CoT:Strat.  Sometimes I get into the group, sometimes I don’t.  (Depends who’s on.)  If I don’t and the healer has to leave, I sometimes get the whisper to fill in, though it’s usually for a tougher heroic since they’ve finished the easier ones:  “want to come heal heroic Pinnacle?”  Ugh.  Then, if we’re unable to get through it, I feel like it’s my fault.  Rar.  Again, I can’t totally attribute the failures to myself (and they probably don’t either), but it doesn’t exactly boost my confidence.

So, I’ve been relying on pugs to get into some of those easier heroics and it’s definitely paying off.  Sometimes the groups are wipefests, but are still good practice for quick thinking and learning how to pull the group’s collective chestnuts out of the fire.  That’s one thing I did not get much practice with in pre-Wrath raiding, since most of the groups I was healing were pretty well geared and we weren’t doing much aside from Karazhan.  (I did have some challenging runs in ZA, but nothing like these heroics.)  Perhaps even more valuable are the connections I’ve been making on the server through these pugs.  I’m starting to reap the benefits of these in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

On Friday evening, I got an invitation from a DK I’d run a heroic with to come as the third healer on their guild’s Obsidian Sanctum run.  I asked if I was geared for it, they said definitely, and within a few moments, I received the invite.  There were six folks from the DK’s guild and four pug folks.  We all got on their vent server and they got us summoned and ready to go.  They said to the pug folks that they really appreciated us coming along and that we were welcome to roll for the loot.  I was assigned off-tank healing. Very cool.

We got the three lieutenants down with little trouble and then made our first bid at Sartharion.  He kicked our butts, but what impressed me was the guild’s attitude.  They were thrilled by how much progress we made compared to their previous week’s attempt.  They were reveling in it, excited by the prospect of actually killing this dragon on this run.  This attitude energized everybody.  This is what I’m looking for out of raiding.  I experienced only a tiny bit of this before BC because I hit 70 so late into our guild’s raiding career, and really felt it only in those few ZA runs before the lolpatch.  After that, it seemed that we were expected to fully clear whatever dungeon we were running and if we didn’t, something was wrong.

Anyway, it took several attempts (and somebody labeling themself so we could follow them to dodge the lava waves), but we finally downed Sartharion.  Holy crap, it was exciting.  And when that achievement popped up in our guild chat, there was a lot of “OMG” from my guildmates.  Hehehe… I was saying the same thing.  The guild hosting the run thanked the puggers for coming along and said they planned to run that raid every Friday night.  They said they’ll keep an eye out for the same puggers to help fill in the next raids, if we’d like to join them again.  Awesome!

I took a break from my priest for a bit last night to level my hunter (pug story on that a bit later) and toward the end of the night, popped back on my priest to party up with my husband and a friend to knock out some lingering group quests in Dragonblight.  We were finishing up the last one when I got a whisper from a very nice hunter I pugged with a while back.  I’d added her to my friend list, since she was one of the few DPS folks that reciprocated my “keep me in mind if you’re ever looking to fill out a group” offer.

“Not sure if you remember me,” she said, “but we ran a dungeon together a while back.”  I said that I did remember her, that she was on my friend list.  I asked how she was doing.

“Great!  We’re putting together a Naxx run and are short a healer.  Would you like to join us?  It’s a guild run and we’re going to cancel in about ten minutes if we don’t get a third healer.”

I asked if she thought I was geared for it and she asked what my bonus healing was.  (It’s +1433.)  The invitation arrived a moment later.  I said that I needed to pick up some food, repair, etc, and then I’d be ready.

(Zoh mah gahhh!)

I scrambled to cook some Pickled Fangtooth and fortunately had a few Flasks of Pure Mojo that a friend in the guild had given me in the days before.  I only had one runic mana pot left on me, but I snagged some super mana pots from the AH.  (Not ideal, but that’s all there was!)  They summoned me and I joined them in their vent channel.  We buffed up and almost immediately started trucking through the trash pulls.  We hadn’t discussed healing assigments or anything like that, so I just healed the main tank.  Before I knew it, we were at the boss, so I figured I’d better ask where I should focus the heals.  Indeed, they wanted me for main tank healing for this run.  *gulp*

Anub’Rekhan was a right bastard.  There’s certainly a bit of luck with these encounters, with positioning and who the boss targets for their random damaging casts, and he didn’t cut us any slack at all.  In our old Kara and ZA runs, our heals were rarely all that focused.  I’d main tank heal, but sometimes spot heal the raid, and the other healer would to the same.  Didn’t matter — we were mostly overgeared.  There was NO margin for this in this raid (or the previous), however.  Everything I had went onto the tank, or, in a pinch, me.  I used every mana regen trick I had and even made up a few new ones.  It was insane.

And it seemed I couldn’t keep the tank alive.  Just not quite enough oomph on those first few attempts, with heals just not going off quite in time.  One time, I tried casting my holy guardian on him to let him croak and regain 50% health immediately, but the other healers tried to keep him up, the guardian faded, and the tank still died.  Argh.  During the corpse run, the main tank said that the problem was “just not enough heals on me.”

I tried (awkwardly) to explain what I had been trying to do, but reassured that I’d save that trick for a more desperate moment and not try it again without mentioning it.  I really started feeling like I was to blame for all the wipes.  Damn.  And we continued to wipe after that.  One attempt was going really well until I again just missed a big heal on the tank.  My fault again, I thought.  I apologized, but folks were reassuring.  “It’s nobody’s fault,” said the main tank.  “At that particular stage of the fight, we just need all heals on the main tank and everyone else is going to have to take care of themselves.”  Ahh… so not just a message to me.  I felt better after that.  I also got some whispers saying I was doing a great job.  The hunter said they were telling her she should recruit me to the guild as hard as she could.  I was relieved to hear I wasn’t botching things up too badly.

We kept trying.  We had a great fight going at one point until the whole raid seemed to get caught in the swarm.  We adjusted our positioning for the next few fights to avoid the swarm, but I was a little confused because I couldn’t actually see anything hitting me.  I was SO focused on my little healbot window and cast bar that I wasn’t seeing it coming.  I suggested that someone mark themself with a raid symbol perhaps, so I could follow that in my periphery.  Then someone said, “no, it’s just a distance thing.”  They explained you can’t see the swarm; if you’re within 30 yards, it’s going to kick your ass.  OH!  Well, why didn’t you say so… (I felt like a moron for my comment, but if I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t have known, since this was a spur of the moment run!)

One of the features of healbot is that it does also show when you’re in range of your healing targets.  Given that the main spells I cast have a 40 yard reach, I knew I’d be safe staying just within that range.  I did this for the next fight and we downed that big buggy bastard.  Hallelujah.  I don’t think I breathed for the entirety of the attempt either.

Faerlina was a much easier fight.  The main tank explained the encounter, but the DPS didn’t quite understand what to do.  They downed all the worshippers right away, so when Faerlina enraged, we all got destroyed.  Heh… oops.  He re-explained that you’re supposed to DPS (very slowly) the worshippers and then kill one when she enrages.  The second attempt went mostly well, but we must have gone over time, or something, because killing the worshipper didn’t do anything to remove the frenzy effect from her.  Huh.  Anyway, we got it down perfectly the third time.  Hurrah!

And finally, Maexxna.  It was after 1am by this point, and while I was getting very sleepy, I didn’t want to be the one to bail. During our first couple attempts, we sorted out that the range DPS should take care of the Web Wrap effect, because by the time the melee got there, the range folks had released the person.  Folks also started cleansing the poisons, which helped immensely.  On the third attempt, we got her down to 10%.  Folks were really tired, but we were so close that we decided to drag our butts back in there for one more try.  We didn’t get her much below 20% on that last attempt, so we just called it.  It was almost 2am.  I think everybody was exhausted.

Afterward, I spent 10-15 minutes answering whispers.  Seriously, it was all pretty good for my ego.  Very nice to be complemented on my healing, after having some doubts about it recently, and folks said they were adding me to their friend lists in case I’d like to join them for heroics and future raids.  Of course for the Naxx raids, guild members will always be placed first, but they said I was at the top of their non-guild healer list now.  That feels really damn good.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, this was always part of the plan for Wrath in making my priest my main focus.  I made a big effort to get myself out there and find ways to get geared even if the guild wasn’t running stuff regularly.  I never expected to forge relationships with other guilds though.  I have no plans to leave my guild — I adore them — but I have to say, it is nice to have options as I progress in my healing and through the content.

A New Sense of Community

My priest is now about halfway to level 79.  I imagine she could hit 80 in the next couple evenings of play, assuming I don’t mess around too much.  I’d hoped I’d reach the level cap by next year, but I never thought I would do it in the first week of December.  I guess I do play a lot…

Perhaps the most amazing part is how many zones she has not completed yet.  I mentioned before that she finished up the Fjord, and since then, she’s polished off almost all of the Borean Tundra and most of Dragonblight.  She’s done a couple of the sharable dungeon quests here and there, but most of the other zones remain completely untouched.  Wowie… there’s going to be a lot of gold out there when she hits 80.  The same thing happened with my hunter when she hit 70, but I never took advantage of it since I wanted to raid instead of quest.  This time, I’ll definitely be questing.  This is in part because of all that gold (to make up for the epic flying skill  just bought), but also, some of the quest lines have been amazingly good in Wrath.  Back in BC, I don’t think I ever heard a person say, “Oh, you HAVE to go do this quest line in Shadowmoon Valley.  Do eet!”  I hear this on a nightly basis about Northrend quests (and I’m lucky if there’s not a spoiler to go along with it, but that’s another blog post).

So, how’d she get so far with just a few zones completed?  Not rested xp — that’s for sure.  Instead, I have been running loads of instances.  Thanks to all the pugs I’ve been running with, I’ve connected with a handful of really good tanks for whom I am now their go-to healer.  Seems like every time I log in, I get a tell from one of them: “Oh good, you’re on!  Would you like to come heal Violet Hold?”  Hell yeah.  I’m sure there will come a day when I’m tired of this, but for now, I’m basking in it.  I’m a little disappointed when someone asks me to heal Utgarde or the Nexus for them since they’re pretty far below my level now and I’ve run them both dozens of times, but I usually go anyway.  I can get shards from disenchanted stuff (not to mention those new shards we get if Horde controls Wintergrasp), plus the instances are so short.  It’s not like someone saying, “plz come hael WC, kk?” and you dread it because you know it will take five hours.  With a level appropriate tank, you can get out of most instances in less than an hour.  It’s awesome.

There have been some frustrating pugs, of course.  I have seen the usual loot issues (particularly on some of those very nice blue BoE’s), but my biggest frustration has been the overconfidence that some groups come in with.  I got an invite to run Violet Hold, for example, from a tank that was level 73.  The instance is level 75-77, but with enough DPS, I thought we might get through it.  I joined to find that the rest of the group consisted of a 71 mage, a 73 hunter, and a 75 DK.  Eesh.  I immediately suggested we might have better luck in a lower level instance, but the tank insisted and the DK backed him up: “No, VH is easy.”  Well, if you can actually -hit- the mobs.  It went the way you’d guess: the tank couldn’t hold aggro and the DPS couldn’t get the mobs from one portal down before the next portal opened.  After repeated wipes, the DK dropped from the group.  The tank suggested we look for a replacement, but I called it.  The mage admitted that only 50% of her shots were actually hitting the mobs.

Some of the pugs have been great, however, especially if I’m running with one of my new favorite tanks.  Often I’m the lone pugger on their guild run, which makes me hopeful that I’ll continue to run with them as we all get into heroics.  For these groups, I always ask them to keep me in mind if they ever need a healer.  I always used to do this, but the cool thing now is that people are taking me up on it and I’m online often enough as my priest to take advantage of it.  When I walk through Dalaran, training or dealing with dailies, I’m also amazed at how many names I recognize and how many people wave hello as I go by.  (I keep notes on everyone I pug with via the addon AuldLangSyne, so I can just mouseover their names, too, and see what instances I ran with them.)  I’m feeling like a real part of the realm community.  This makes me want to keep playing this character, instead of leveling an alt.

So, this is what it’s like to have a main… 🙂

Weekend snapshots

Lotsa healing!

I’ve been leveling my priest and jumping at every opportunity to run a dungeon with her.  I always say yes to guild runs and I’m always in the LFG while questing, just in case something pops up.  As good pugs are finishing up, I ask folks to send me a tell if they ever need a healer.  I’ve been taken up on this quite often and have several tanks on my friend list now, too.  🙂  It’s additional incentive to ride this wave, leveling the same speed as the folks on my friend list.

I think my priest might be my new main.  Lots of other folks in the guild seem to be focusing on their healers, too, so it will be interesting to see what happens with raiding as we all hit 80.  Some of us may actually have to respec to DPS builds!

Farewell to the Fjord

My priest finished up the Howling Fjord quests.  What an amazing zone!  I was a little sad to leave it behind… I headed over to Dragonblight and did quite a few quests there, but got bogged down with some of the Venomspite ones.  They were just … icky.  I know we run through this game slaughtering animals and humanoids and looting their remains, stealing things, and blowing things up.  Torture is different though.  Killing prisoners that can’t defend themselves?  Ick.  There will be some that call it hypocrisy that people have issues with those specific quests and not the rest, but for me they evoked an icky feeling and that is that.  So, I decided to head to the Borean Tundra for a while instead.  I had run out of rested xp, so killing green mobs would speed up the leveling significantly, too.

Bore-an Tundra

Haha, just kidding.  Some of the quest have been really cool, actually.  I’m not a huge fan of the zone itself (perhaps because I always feel like I’m running around in circles in Warsong Hold), or at least I don’t love it the same way I did the Fjord.  I certainly haven’t found myself stopping to take screenshots of the horizon.  It’s not a terrible zone though.  I loved the KTR bit comparing the two zones as pasta dishes, but in the end, I agree with Zenke — they’re just different.  I would recommend the Fjord over the Tundra if someone asked where they should start, but ultimately, I’d suggest that people do both.  You’ll want the quest achievements anyway, right?

Cuteness

The baby bear pet that Blizz sent for the 4th anniversary of WoW is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in the game.  It seems they’re bind on account, but I went through and picked one up on every alt on my primary server anyway.  I even made a death knight and logged into it.  Fuzzy baby bear doesn’t go along with the badass image of a DK, but … cute!

I am slowly working on collecting pets on each toon for the achievements.  It bums me out a little that I’m compelled to do this because for the longest time, each of my toons had a particular pet that I’d chosen for them to go along with their character. I don’t like it that they all have all the pets now (aside from a few that are different — the Children’s Week reward pets, for example). I do limit which pet I pull out when I’m playing them, so there is some illusion of keeping each character unique,  but it’s not quite the same.

Progress

My priest is the furthest along, about 90% of the way to level 75.  My hunter is the only other toon I’ve taken to Northrend and she’s still hanging back at 71.5.  I pulled her out once this weekend to run an instance with the guild (group already had a healer), but that was it.  Initially, I thought I might level her a bit ahead of my priest so that she could scout out the quests.  (Being able to track mobs really does make it easier to get things done.)  I had also planned to just level on rested xp.  I gave up this idea on Saturday though.  I wanted to play my priest, so efficiency be damned, I’ve decided I’m just going to keep playing her.  I’m having a lot fun with her, and in the next couple weeks I’d much rather have one 80 than two 75’s.

We now have two 80’s in the guild, one is an officer and the other is an initiate that I don’t really know very well.  After that, we have a handful of 77’s, including a death knight!  That guy is also an initiate and he plays a lot.  Holy moly.  Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll hit 80 by the end of the holiday weekend, but since we’re not traveling, it is a possibility.  I will potentially have a lot of play time, unless we decide to have a movie/tv marathon or something.

I was just looking at my blog entries from this time last year, recapping my progress over the long weekend.  I’d just gotten my new computer and was enjoying the boost in fps. My hunter had made it to 52, my mage hit 40 and got a mount, and my priest wasn’t too far behind.  Heh… makes me wonder where I’ll be in another year.  How many 80’s will I have?  If I’m still playing, that is.  (I suspect I will be, though one can never tell.)  Will the guild be raiding?  Might we have enough for 25-mans this time around?

If you think it’s too easy…

…pug.

Seriously. I hear a lot of people talking about how even the instances are too easy, but I can tell you that even if you’re decently geared, they can be challenging with a pick-up group.  Pugs offer some unexpected variables.

Last night, my priest ran instances with three pugs.  I went to Azjol’Nerub for the first time (Aahhh! Spiders!!).  The tank was level 71 and wearing what he described as “crap gear,” but we did pretty well.  It was definitely challenging enough to be fun, I thought.  Afterward, I did a second Nerub run with the same tank, but all different DPS.  The DPS was lower in this second group, so it got dicey at times and there were several wipes.  Nobody complained though.

As I was making my repairs after the second run, a DPS warrior from the first Nerub run whispered and asked me to heal his group for the Nexus.  It was already 10:30p, but I told him I could if they were ready to go.  I asked if they had a tank.  A few moments later: “Oh, I’m sorry.  They thought I was the tank!”  Heh… so he stepped out of the group, but they still invited me to heal.  We got a tank, did a bit more shuffling (there was a DK that wasn’t high enough level to be summoned, someone else had to drop to go eat dinner, etc), and finally all made it to the instance.

After healing a 71 warrior tank in Azjol’Nerub (recommended level 72-74), I was looking forward to a relaxing mission, healing a 73 warrior tank in the Nexus (recommended level 71-73).  To my surprise, the tank was getting hit really hard at the beginnings of each fight.  The damage let up after one or two of the mobs died, but when he was getting hit by four or five things during that first minute of each fight, his health repeatedly dropped below 50%.  If I didn’t cast successive Greater Heals on him, he’d be dead.

As I was pondering this weirdness, he said, “how the healing going?”

“Fine, I guess.  Having to toss some unexpectedly big heals on you, but no trouble with mana yet.”

“Good to know,” he said.  “I’ll equip my shield when we get to the bosses then.”

I had to laugh.  I’ve often heard of folks running with priests that played like mages, smiting instead of healing.  It seemed I just encountered my first warrior that was trying to tank like a death knight.  In all of my Outland pugs, I never once ran with a warrior tank that didn’t use a shield.

We worked our way up through the hall where the groups are frozen until you break them and wake them, and an extra group was accidentally pulled.  Oi.  I mostly kept folks alive, but the mage died and the hunter survived only by feigning death.  The problem was that with having to cast successive large heals on the tank, I couldn’t heal anyone else.  Big heals have long cast times and I had to cast them one after another to make sure enough healing got to him in time.  I mentioned this and the ret paladin suggested, “just cast lots of short heals.”  Er… heheh… I explained that 1) I’d run out of mana, 2) the tank would still die.  He was taking too much damage too quickly, even for that.  “Ok,” said the tank.  “Dual-wielding was a luxury anyway.  I’ll use my shield.”

I told my guild about it and a couple people laughed, “Wow, bad tank is bad.”  Heh.  I don’t think he was necessarily a bad tank for that, I think he was just having some fun.  I often run guild stuff with a druid tank that likes to tank with her cat gear when she’s running a lower level instance.  I think this is about the same idea, except the tank didn’t outlevel the instance.  He was pretty cool about switching to his shield, too.  He realized the issue.  A bad tank wouldn’t.

My only real complaint about the tank was that he was impatient and maybe a bit sloppy.  He wasn’t good about letting folks rebuff after wipes or before boss fights.  He also rushed ahead of the group, skipping mobs, thinking the rest of the DPS could just “take care of them.”  Again, this was a bit of a strain on me as the healer.  I didn’t complain about it, but sometimes the rest of the us fell behind because we were trying to get healed up, loot stuff, etc.  Then, the tank would be out of range of my healing and there would be three mobs between us and him once again. *sigh* We wiped more than once due to this.  “How’d you get so far behind?” he asked.  “How’d you get so far ahead?” I countered.  He responded by putting a skull raid mark above his head.  /eyeroll

He liked to skip groups of mobs, too.  When we were in the Arcane Sanctuary-looking bit, he’d jump down to lower platforms to skip several groups, and inevitably, some of the skipped stuff would get pulled when someone stepped too far back.  Sometimes this was me, sometimes it was someone else.  Sheesh.  I think if I got into tanking, I’d just demand that we do full clears (within reason).  Sometimes skipping stuff saves you time, but it seems like often enough, the mobs get pulled anyway.  A corpse run takes longer than killing an extra group.

ANYway, we killed the final boss just before midnight.  The paladin had forgotten to complete one of the quests, so he tried to run back as the rest of us headed out.  Guess what he found… skipped mobs!  It went like this:

Tank: Hey, could I get a port to Shatt?

Paladin: Uh-oh…

Paladin has died.

Mage has died.

Priest has died.

Tank: Looks like that’s a no.

Tank has died.

The hunter had hearthed out, so was the only one that made it out safely.

============

So, yes, pugs.  Not that these instances are necessarily where you want the challenge of your game to be, but the challenge can be there.  If you only run dungeons with your very competent and well-geared guildmates, then maybe yes, they are going to be easy and you will coast through with nary a wipe.  Maybe this is the point now?  If you’re always with a competent group, your challenges won’t come until end game instances and raiding.  They’ve been trying to make raiding more accessible, so perhaps this is part of that plan.  And to those complaining that someone has already beaten the game by finishing all the raid content, my question is: has your guild finished all the raid content?  If not, then don’t complain (yet).

I find it interesting that people are complaining about (or maybe lamenting is a better word) how easy leveling is, too.  It’s as though they secretly liked that grind they said they hated.  Of course there are times I’m not in the mood for it, but as I’ve said before, I find that positive work/reward ratio very satisfying.  It’s a big part of why I enjoy the game.  I don’t think Northrend is particularly easier than the Outland zones either (so far, anyway).  Hellfire was always a little tough initially, but once you got through the first round of gear replacement, it was easy there, too.  I think it’s that leap in gear quality they removed that’s making the difference there.  We’re were promised a smoother transition to Northrend than folks had from Azeroth to Outland and we got it.  I think that’s why we’re coasting.

Raiding Maniac

I did a lot of raiding this weekend. It was definitely a personal record, and probably a guild one as well, though some of my raiding was done outside the guild.  (Pug story alert!)

Friday!

On Friday night, we had a guild run to Karazhan. I brought my hunter, who has been a few badges away from the Leggings of Pursuit for about a month now. We did a full clear of the place in about two and a half hours, and it was a complete blast.  Nothing of note except that we had some folks come along that I hadn’t raided with in a long while because none of us had been going on the Friday night runs, and some of them can’t raid on our other night because it keeps them up too late on a work night.  Drank lots of beer, had lots of laughs, and I did pick up one upgrade, replacing my Ravenclaw Band with Garona’s Signet Ring.

Saturday!

Saturday afternoon, my priest joined up with a pug for Kara.  I wanted to practice my healing, maybe pick up a few upgrades, and I had a couple hours to spare.  So, why not?  I’ve always felt that pugging offers a nice crash course in dealing with those “oh shit” moments which are less frequent in guild runs (particularly if you’re running stuff that the guild has on farm).  It took quite a while to get the whole group together, and of course as soon as we found our main tank to fill out the group, the lag-outs began.  These were just like the lag-outs before the zombies showed up.  I had to repeatedly alt-F4 out of a hanging loading screen.  When I got back into the game, there was all sorts of new stuff… the necropoli, etc.  Seriously, can Blizzard find a better way of adding this stuff into the game besides lagging the entire realm out on a Saturday afternoon?

Anyway, we finally got our group together and into Karazhan.  Turned out that I was the better geared healer, so was in charge of main tank healing.  The main tank was a bit of a, uh, character.  He apparently had mods set up to count down his pulls, always starting from 15.  “Pulling in 15, 14, 13, etc,” for nearly every pull. (We get the idea, dude.)  Sometimes he’d also tell us when to CC as part of the countdown.  “5, 4, 3, sheep now, 2, 1…”   Once, he even whispered during this countdown, “shackle diamond NOW” and he hadn’t marked anything as a diamond.  I told him nothing was marked and he didn’t respond.

There were also some loot issues, though not of the type you’d expect.  The tank was master looter, and he had a similar countdown for looting.  “Roll now, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”  Sheesh.  I guess it kept the group moving.  Once he accidentally looted a purple BoE (that nobody needed) to me when I hadn’t won the roll.  People asked why the item had gone to me, and I said, “no worries — I’ll give it to the winner.”  I did.  Ten seconds later, the tank whispered to me, “give him sheild.”  /sigh.  I did. I also had to hound him to loot and distribute the Codex that dropped.  “It’s useless,” he said.  Three people rolled for it who clearly did not think so. “No point,” he said. I went into broken record mode, asking him kindly to please loot it and give it to the winner of the roll until finally he did, thankfully before I had to threaten not to heal him.  The lamest was after we killed Curator, the tank distributed the tier 4 token that dropped, but not the other item.  “Sry guys g2g,” he said.  He left without picking it up, so then none of us could loot it either.  Greeaat.

We killed Attumen, Moroes, and Maiden with minimal trouble, though the fights were a bit messy.  We had people unaware of the strategies for all these fights, but thanks to the nerf, we mostly survived (though there were a few wipes).  For Attumen, we had range DPS standing far enough away that they got charged after the merge.  I was good enough at keeping my mob shackled during the Moroes fight that everyone seemed to forget it was there, and after Moroes was dead, the loot distribution began.  (I had to point out the shackled mob to the tank during his loot countdown.)  During the Maiden fight, the tank never dragged her to the healers so her consecrate could wake them.  Still, the group’s DPS got us through the fights.  When we got to Opera, someone said, “how we do this fight?”  One of my guildmates (that I’d somehow convinced to come along) briefly explained the three fights.  I crossed my fingers for Little Red Riding Hood, but guess what we got?  Yes, Oz.  Again, somehow we powered through it.  Man, they nerfed the crap out of that place, hehe…

After Opera, we headed to Nightbane.  Last week, my priest main healed through Curator, but hadn’t been past it, so I was very nervous about healing through this fight.  Nightbane is unforgiving if people don’t know what they’re doing, and this group wasn’t operating with much strategy.  We dove right in and it was a mess.  Range DPS and healers were running around all over the place on both sides of the dragon, so people were getting tailswiped and there was charred earth everywhere.  Long story short, we wiped repeatedly.  I finally outlined the strategy our guild uses — all range DPS and healers stand together so that charred earth appears in one spot underneath them.  Then, they all move at the same time to to the same new spot.  The tank fights the dragon so that his tail is away from everyone else.  We knocked the dragon down in one shot after that.

Next, we headed toward Curator.  We wiped multiple times during the pulls in the room where the Curator patrols because the tank kept accidentally pulling Curator.  Lots of corpse runs during this part.  When there were just two elemental pulls left, he pulled both of them (seemed to be doing so purposely), and as Curator marched down the hall toward us, I said, “back into the room again!”  Nope.  He stayed and fought them in the room and pulled Curator too early again.  Dead dead dead.  Heh.   Anyway, once we got through those pulls, we downed Curator with little drama.  Well, except for the issues with the looting I described above when the tank decided to leave.

After the tank left, I waited with the group to see if we could pick up another to keep going, but after 30 minutes or so, I decided to go hang out with my husband and friends instead.  In the end, I did come away with a couple upgrades (though I can’t remember what they were, at the moment), but mainly, I came away with more confidence in my healing.  Despite the number of blues my priest is wearing, it looks like I can indeed main heal much of Karazhan already.  Can’t wait for that next guild run!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my guildmates has been leading us on some adventures as part of an RP story he’s taking his character through, killing world dragons and stuff like that.  For the next stage of his story, we needed to go to Gruul’s Lair.  Sunday at noon, the guild got 24 people together for a raid for the first time since … well, since I’ve been 70, that’s for sure.

First up was High King Maulgar.  We blasted through the trash and then the Maulgar pull was marked up.  We discussed the strategy for the pull for several minutes, as it was driven home that really, correctly pulling was the key to this fight.  It was EZ mode after that.  It was determined who would misdirect on who (I was misdirecting Maulgar onto the main tank — hehe, no pressure, right?) and after making sure everyone knew what to do, we decided to give it a go.  I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it definitely didn’t go as planned. We wiped!

We rebuffed and went in for a second attempt.  This pull went much more smoothly, and we had him down after a little over 2 minutes.  Hee hee hee!  So much fun.

After that:  Gruul.  We had a quick explanation of this one, and then we ran in, hoping for the best. I tried to keep moving and looking around to make sure I wasn’t going to get clobbered by a cave-in, since they’re hard to see if you don’t quite know what you’re looking for.  I tried to stay away from everyone else, too, but totally shattered and toasted one of the priests, unfortunately.  I was trying to get away from him, but I couldn’t control where I flew, basically, and ended up too close.  “Ess, get away from meh!” he cried out in vent.  Heheh, sorry, man.  We did one-shot Gruul, however, in just under 3 minutes.  Woo!

We hadn’t even been raiding an hour by this point, so on to Magtheridon we went!  Most of us didn’t expect to do this fight, so we hadn’t read about it.  One of the folks on the raid has toons in a couple of the major raiding guilds on our server, so he explained the phases of the fight, the clicking of the cubes, and so forth.  We had one accidental pull, followed by two unsuccessful attempts.  The first attempt failed because it was unclear when folks were supposed to click the cubes, and there was a lot of chatter in vent.  “Click the cubes now.  No, now.  Everybody click!”  Uhh… hehehe, that made it tougher to figure out when to click.

We reduced the vent chatter for the next attempt, and that helped a lot, though we apparently had one person not clicking.  Another person was stressing quite a  bit in vent that this was the reason we weren’t successful, but thankfully, everyone else (myself included) was reassuring, “no worries — we’ll get it next time.”  And, we did.  Downed Magtheridon on our third attempt.  Whee!

So, that’s a lot of raiding for one weekend, right?  I wasn’t quite done.  I also signed up for the Zul’Aman run on Sunday night!  I’d never been past the third boss and the last two guild runs (since the nerf) were full clears, so I was pretty stoked to be able to see the rest of the place.  We beat the timer (damn, that is so stressful) and one-shotted everything.  Some of the later fights were really exciting — I love the Zul’jin fight.  So stinking cool.  I came away with the Ancient Amani Longbow from Zul’jin, too.  Gotta farm up a bunch of ore now so I can have a nice scope made for it, though I doubt I’ll have this done before the next ZA run on Tuesday unless I buy the ore.  Or the scope.  Hm.

But wait, that’s not all!

Several folks in the ZA group had been on the Kara run the Friday night before, and so we decided to go after the new boss in Karazhan, Tenris Mirkblood.  First impressions: he is a pain in the ass.  Maybe he’s not so bad after your group gets the strategy down, but I don’t particularly have the desire to go after him again.  It was several minutes of running around with the tanks yelling in vent, “stop attacking! stop attacking!”  Then they’d never say when to start attacking again.  Hehe, what a mess.  We killed him and got our bat pets — I’m happy about that, anyway.  If I’m in on a Kara run in the next week or so, and folks want to go after him, I’ll go, but I definitely wouldn’t be going just to go after him.

So… yes, that was a lot of raiding.  Lots of fun, but I could use a bit of a break. Though I did notice another Kara sign-up for tonight, and my mage isn’t tied to a raid ID yet… hrm.  I’m going to need an intervention soon.

Adventures in Healing

My priest snagged a pug for Underbog on Saturday morning.  I’d have preferred to tackle Steamvaults since I still had a quest to finish there, but the UB pug needed a healer and I wanted the xp, so I signed on.

We had a paladin tank who mentioned immediately that he’d been a healer up until he decided to respec that morning.  We had a warlock, a warrior, and a hunter for dps.  All in all, it was a pretty good group.  I didn’t notice too many issues other than the hunter not following the kill order.  At one point, I asked for clarification of the kill order and the paladin restated it.  Didn’t really help.  Thankfully we had enough dps (and I had enough healing!) that it wasn’t a problem, but I still wished the hunter were following directions.  (I’m a stickler for that, I guess.)

It had been such a good group that afterward, the paladin asked if anyone would like to stay on and run Shadow Labs.  “Sure!” I said.  The dps warrior had to go, but the paladin was able to bring in another warlock from his guild.  I noticed that both warlocks now partied with us were in the same guild with him.  Cool.

The first pull in Shadow Labs was messy.  Aggro all over the place meant some frantic healing on my part.  Prayer of mending (which I lurrrrve and wish they weren’t changing) bounced all over, and I tossed out enough big heals otherwise to run out of mana before the encounter was done.  While drinking to regain my mana, I said that I might not quite have the heals to cope with this instance, but that I’d do my best.  The paladin tank whispered and said he thought I was doing great.  He reminded me that he had just respecced from a healing build himself, so he knew good healing when he saw it.  It was nice to get the compliment, but I was still worried.  It was going to be annoying to have to drink between every pull, and I was definitely going to have to do that if the dps couldn’t let the tank keep aggro.

We worked our way up the curved hallway to the room with Ambassador Hellmaw.  Right away, the tank accidentally pulled one of the groups plus one of the Fel Overseers, but somehow, we survived.  We took the next pulls one group at a time and everything felt fairly controlled. The only thing that threw me was that the tank took us right into the Hellmaw fight after the last group pull.  In guild runs, we always pulls the last group as far back as possible so that we don’t aggro Hellmaw until after we’ve all had a chance to mana up.  (He then patrols while we ready ourselves for the fight.)  I pulled out my shadowfiend to get some mana back and all survived aside from the tank. I apologized as I rezzed him, but mentioned that I was below half mana when the fight started.  “That’s because I didn’t give you time to get it back!” he said.  Er, yeah…

In clearing the room with Blackheart the Inciter, we wiped a couple times.  Some of this was due to the hunter having trapping issues.  I understand, it’s not easy sometimes.  When my traps fail, I kite the mob as well as I can, often taking a bit of damage before I can get another trap down.  This hunter just stood there and said, “heal.”  You’ve got to be kidding me. After a few instances of this, I gave my usual spiel:  “If you notice your health getting low, there is no need to remind me to heal.  I am watching everyone’s health, and chances are, I’m either trying to heal you or I’m having to focus on the tank, so you may have to heal yourself.”  I was very polite and did not direct it toward anyone.

Next pull, the hunter broke his own trap.  “Heal me,” he said.  I let him die.  While I was resurrecting him, I said his name directly and repeated my previous statement:  you do not need to tell me to heal.  (I also shouted to my monitor:  “Grr!  Stop breaking your own traps! L2macro!”)

“KK,” he said.

Finally, we cleared the room and it was “time for fun.”  Blackheart the Inciter.  We did wipe once on this and everyone ran back except the hunter.  Now he was really starting to wear on me.  When we all got back inside, the hunter said, “rez me.”  /sigh

I also had the paladin whispering in my ear at this point.  He mentioned that the times I’d been killed while clearing out the previous room, it had been the hunter’s fault.  He told me that in his guild, they had Shadow Labs “on farm,” so it was very strange for him to be wiping on these bosses.  “It’s a pug,” I said.  “I always expect the unexpected.”  We finally downed Blackheart and moved on to Vorpil.  This is where things got really rough.

“North north south,” was the instruction from the paladin. Ohhh.  So, when I run this with the guild, we usually just run north a few times and by then, he’s dead.  I once pugged this on heroic and the group apparently preferred to run it north, south, then north, because when I ran north and then north again (and died), someone asked me if I’d ever run the instance before.  Jackass.  So, I was glad this tank clarified.  Well, I thought it was clear, anyway.  Our hunter?  Not so much.  While we all backed Vorpil toward the north part of the hall, the hunter stayed where he was, so when he pulled aggro, he pulled Vorpil south again.  Arrgh… so, we wiped.

Again, everyone but the hunter did the corpse run.  /glower

During the corpse run, the paladin explained once again what the strategy was.  He explained in more detail where we should run and why.  He asked the hunter directly if he understood and the hunter said, “ok.”  So, we ran it again.  North, north, south, … I wasn’t sure whether I should run north or south for this fourth leg, so I guessed north and was immediately out of range for healing and then blasted to tiny pieces by Vorpil. Another wipe.  Everybody released except for the hunter, so I told him to release, too.  I told him it was good manners to run if the rezzers had to run.  “KK,” he said and released.  He then proceeded to get lost on the way back to the instance.  (I should have just resurrected him.)

So, we were all back inside and almost ready for the pull.  Folks were working their way around to the north side of Vorpil.  The paladin was more than halfway up the hall and one of the warlocks was standing about where the hunter had been fighting in the previous pulls, just outside of aggro distance.  I can’t remember what the paladin said to his guildmate, but it was something like, “don’t stand that close unless you intend to tank him.”  The warlock said something like, “maybe I will.”  There was a brief pause and then the warlock pulled Vorpil.  WTF.  Wipe.  Again.

During this corpse run, the paladin whispered to me, “I am so sorry about that.  We were just messing around.  It won’t happen again.”  Hadn’t we wiped enough?  I wasn’t irritated until I realized they had done it on purpose.  Accidental wipes happen sometimes someone gets too close to the boss, believe me, I know.

“It’s fine,” I said.

“I just didn’t want you to think we were noobs,” said the paladin.  “We do have this place on farm, you know.”

To continue the comedy of errors, when I was running back behind Vorpil this next time (while typing and not paying attention) I decided to skirt him to the right instead of left, got too close, pulled him… aaaaargh.  Dead.  Wipefest 2008, ladies and gents.

Ok, so we decided to take one more serious attempt.  Explanations were provided once again (in case the hunter forgot, I guess), and the paladin asked him, “do you understand.”  “KK,” said the hunter.  “Do you speak English?” asked the paladin.

Wow.  The hunter said yes, he did, but … wow.

I asked for some final clarifications. “North, north, south, then…?”

“He should be dead.”

“He wasn’t last time though.  For the fourth leg, should I run north or south?”

“We should have him to 50%  before the first port.”

“Right, but after running north, north, and then south… which way after that?”

“Pulling.”  What the hell.

We DID get him down to 50% on the first leg this time.  Unfortunately, the hunter forgot to move north after we were ported to Vorpil the first time and we wiped once again.  The paladin passed leadership to me.  He whispered, “You can kick the hunter if you want to.”

“No thanks,” I said, passing leader back to him.  Again, what the hell??  Why did he want me to do it?  The tank whispered that he didn’t think we were going to be able to kill Vorpil with this hunter in the group.  I agreed, but said it would probably be nicer to just break group and reform than to totally kick him, so that’s what we decided to do.  Unfortunately, this also meant the instance reset.  Alas…

When the group reformed, both warlocks said they had to go.  The tank pulled in a shaman and a hunter from his guild, plus a rogue who was in the LFG.  He gave us his guild ventrilo information.  Interesting.  I’ve never used voice chat for pugs.  I’ve heard of a lot of women avoiding it because they feel like they’re treated differently once folks realize they’re female.  But then, maybe this tank was female for all I knew.  I decided to go for it.  I joined them in vent.

The tank very definitely wasn’t female.  In fact, not only was he male, he made it pretty clear in dealing with his guildmates (and the rest of us) that he was the alpha male.  (Side note: I was the only gal in the group.)  He was nice enough, there was just a lot of posturing.  He once again reminded me that he was formerly a healer and had just now respecced to tanking, that the guild had Shadow Labs “on farm” (I really thought it was funny that he kept saying this), and he also mentioned that his main was the main tank in Kara for his guild and that this was his tenth level 70 character.  Heh.  Good for you, bro.  He also had a bit of a tone.  At times, I felt that I was grouping with Gary Cole as the boss from Office Space:

“Uhh, we have sort of a problem here.  Yeah, you apparently didn’t keep the blue square trapped during the fight.  Mm, yeah, you see, we need to keep the blue square trapped so it doesn’t go kill the healer.  Did you see the blue square I put above the mob?  … Yeah, if you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on that would be great.”

Hehehe, ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it got a tad annoying at times.  I’ll spare you another long play by play, but the short version is that we killed Hellmaw with no problem, but Blackheart the Inciter kicked our asses.  We wiped on him no less than four times before the group managed a strategy (standing nearly on top of the tank at all times) that worked. (Again, “we have slabs on farm, don’t know why we wiped so much, I main tank Kara for the guild, etc.”  Hehe…)  We got Vorpil down in just one shot, so that was a relief.

For the Murmur fight, he instructed me stand out in the open and asked me not to run in the tent if I got Murmur’s touch — instead, I should bubble and heal myself or levitate to reduce damage on the fall.  Er, ok.  So, I tried to do just that, but I actually wasn’t up in the air long enough to hit either spell.  I took a lot of damage, and through vent, I heard, “Priest, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and heal yourself now.”  O RLY? If I ever said I was out of mana, he said, “Go ahead and drink a pot.”  Already have, it’s on cooldown.  “Go ahead and use your shadowfiend.”  Again, already have, it’s on cooldown.  Did he think I wasn’t thinking of these things?  Anyway, we did get Murmur down on the second try.

All minor annoyances aside, it was a pretty good time and I managed to get nearly a full level (from 68 to just shy of 69) out of it.  I got some good practice at healing, too.  Healing will be a lot less stressful with guild runs, but pugging really teaches one to improvise.

Pugging the Library

I haven’t had much luck getting pugs Alliance-side yet. I tried twice to get a pug for Gnomer, but both times it appeared I might have a group, it didn’t work out. Each time, I got a note from one of the party members asking me if I wanted to join. I’d say yes, and wait for the invite to the group and then never get invited. The first time, I saw the group composition and noted that if they added me, they’d be lacking either a healer or a tank. I pointed this out after noticing it, and the person never responded. The group disappeared from the LFG list, so I guess they must have found someone else. The second time, after the whisper, the person said, “I’ll invite you as soon as I’m out of the BGs.” So, I waited. And waited. And … nothing. I kept an eye on their location, and after the BG they were inside the instance. I whispered and asked if they had decided to invite someone else instead, but the person never answered. What is it with people not whispering back to say they’re not inviting me after all? I think this is rude. Just tell me instead of keeping me waiting. Sheesh.

Last night, my Alliance mage completed the pre-reqs for the Scarlet Monastery quests, so hopped into the LFG for the Graveyard, Library, and Armory, and hoped for the best. This time, I got a message and an invitation almost immediately. That’s an improvement! There was a paladin, a hunter, me (mage), and a fourth player not of the tank/healer persuasion (though I don’t remember their class). I was about to ask whether it was a healer or tank that we needed when another mage joined… uhhh…. And then I noticed that the newly added mage was a 70. I almost excused myself, as I normally do in these situations, so I can find a level-appropriate group, but then I decided what the heck… I took the run-through. I came away with a staff and a new pair of shoulders. Awesome.

Everyone left the group except the paladin and I, and he asked if I’d like to stay on for a second group. I agreed to, so we hopped back into the LFG. He immediately picked up another paladin and another mage, so e ran out to summon them and wait for a fifth. Within 2 minutes or so, folks were clamoring to just try to 4-man something. I suggested Graveyard, given that most of the group members were level 33 or so and there were only four of us, but they wanted to do Library, so in we went!

I’ve mostly been running stuff with guild folks lately, so this pug was a shock to the system. First, there was no marking. Second, there was no tanking, unless you count what the other mage was doing. The paladin that I was in the previous group with usually did the pulls and tried to hold aggro, but the mage always ended up getting attacked because he never waited long before casting his first frostbolt. (All the blizzards he cast didn’t help either.) The mage was only other person in the group with a threatmeter, so I pretended he was the tank and laid off the damage as soon as I approached his level of threat. There were enough consecrates that sheep never lasted very long, so I just tried to hit what everyone else was hitting, and stay alive as best I could.

We made it down the first hallway, and when we got to the courtyard, I spoke up and recommended that we pull groups inside the hallway. I taught the paladin how to do line of sight pulls of the casters and range attackers, and after a pull or two got the hang of it. The other mage still pulled aggro every time, pretty much, so both paladins kept him healed. And then… Loksey.

“This guy is kinda hard,” said the paladin “tank.” “Anyone have any ideas?” I kept my lip buttoned, wondering what kind of strategy they’d come up with.

“Get Loksey first, and then the dogs,” someone else said.

“KK,” said the tank, and without further ado ran in. Loksey and the dogs swarmed him, and I waited for him to cast consecrate before I shot a fireball. And waited, and waited… finally a consecrate, but really, it was too late. The other mage got aggro, we didn’t put a dent in Loksey, and the dogs ate us for dinner. Heheh…

Ok, second try. We ran back. “Cast consecrate as soon as you run in there this time,” suggested the paladin healer. “It draws a lot of threat, so you’ll be able to tank all of them.”

“But I have to save mana for heals,” said the tank. Er…

“Heals?” said the healer.

“Yeah, to heal you guys when you get hit.” Um…

“Don’t worry,” said the healer. “I’ll heal you, and you just cast those consecrates.”

“KK,” said the tank, and in he went… seconds after the dogs attacked him, he cast his first consecrate. I waited for the second before I attacked Loksey. And it was great!! He was tanking!! All the mobs stayed focused on him, and I have to say, I was really proud of him.

I think it’s a better idea to burn down the dogs first, but they wanted Loksey dead first, so that’s what I focused fire on. The other mage took a more creative approach to the fight, however. He’d shoot some frostbolts at Loksey, then turn one of the dogs into a sheep. The sheep would then either be broken by the next consecrate or by the mage’s blizzard… *blink blink* (I am not making this up.)

Just as Loksey went down, the healer ran out of mana, the dogs killed the tank, and all hell broke loose. I was the last to die, and for a moment, I thought I might be able to get away and run out of the instance, but the dogs killed me in the hallway. Hehe, oh well.

We all commended each other on the excellent attempt, and then I excused myself, calling it a night. I didn’t think we’d make it much further and it was pretty late.

Although there were a couple of clueless folks in the group, I was impressed with how respectfully people treated each other. I’ve been in so many groups where someone new does not realize how to play their class/role, and rather than offer helpful suggestions, another group member decides to be a jerkface and yell at them the whole time. There’s nothing in the game that teaches you how to group other than the people you group with. I very often sit back and don’t say anything, particularly if I’m in my Jane Goodall mode. (All this really makes me want to start up Year of the PuG again!). I wonder if I should say more, however, when I encounter groups like this one, that may be receptive to advice.

Ah, Pugs

My little undead warlock has fallen behind the rest of the alts in the new guild a bit, so on Sunday, I took her around to pick up the quests for RFC. Someone in the guild mentioned a possible run, but I decided to go ahead and look for a pug to get a potentially more level-appropriate group together. (I could run it again with the guild later.) I really want to learn to play this class, and if other people are blasting the mobs into oblivion before I can get my second DoT up, it’s not going to get me anywhere. Plus, between guild runs and pox adventures, I haven’t run with a pick up group in ages. So, on Sunday morning, as soon as I had all the quests, I popped into the LFG and found a mostly formed group! Woo!

Within 10 minutes or so, folks were heading toward the stone. We had a warrior, two druids, and a hunter. I summoned my imp, passed out healthstones and elixirs, and crossed my fingers for cloth drops. 🙂 The warrior actually hadn’t made it into the instance yet when we went in, but everyone else seemed unconcerned so we proceeded without him. One druid tanked, the other healed. We plowed forward, no marking, just the steamroller approach. Sort of.

Our DPS was reasonably high, but rather unfocused. The hunter kept drawing aggro (often firing his first shot right before both his pet and the tank reached the mob), but rather than run toward the tank, he ran away. “If you draw aggro, please run toward the tank,” I said. “Im kiting,” he said. Uh… this isn’t the time for that. But, he did it again and again. I didn’t want to sound like a jerk, but I said again that he should really run toward the tank. “Hes kiting,” said the other druid. “Yeah,” I said, “away from the tank so he can’t get aggro back, and probably out of line of sight of the healer, too.” I told him that it is good grouping technique to run toward the tank so that the tank can get aggro back. No dice. This hunter was not interested. What an idiot. If you’re out in the wilds by yourself, kiting is fine, but I don’t think that was appropriate in this situation.

The warrior eventually showed up and started tanking as well, so we two-tanked (or three-tanked, if you count the “kiting” hunter) our way up the hill to Oggleflint. We killed him, and just as I was saying, “hey, good job folks,” somehow, someone aggroed every remaining trogg in the instance. “RUN RUN RUN,” someone said. I almost made it out, but they got me right by the door. Doh! Apparently someone got too close to the edge somewhere (though I’m not sure where), and we were ambushed by about 20 angry troggs. It was actually kind of funny.

We moved along pretty speedily after the corpse run. We plowed through the cultists to Taragaman the Hungerer, who dropped Crystalline Cuffs. These were a huge upgrade for me since my other ones were like Flax Cuffs, or some such starting area reward. As the greed rolls went by, I said, “those would be an upgrade for me, may I roll need?” “Yes, that’s how it works,” said the warrior. Well, I always like to ask so nobody gets pissy…

And the need roll was won by … one of the druids??? “Sry,” he said. “I didnt have a bracer.”

/sigh

So lame. But, whatever. Onward.

We were going up the hill toward Jergosh, and had a few pulls where we took on more mobs than we initially bargained for due to aggro radii and so forth. “I need mana, please wait a sec,” I said before we went in to get him. “Use ur wand,” said the warrior. “I can do better damage if I use curses and spells,” I said. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. What a charming group of individuals.

We killed Jergosh and then wandered up to kill Bazzalan. Someone knew a shortcut to him that I’d never seen before, so at least I got something positive out of this pug. 😛

I was telling my guildmates about the whole thing after, and one of them was saying, “Well, were any of them in guilds?” No. “Did you tell them what the loot rules were up front?” No, I rarely do this. “Maybe they have no one to teach them?” This may be true. This is RFC, after all, which is the first instance ever for many folks. And was it the most horrible group I’ve ever played with? Definitely not. In fact, of the things that bothered me, the one that bothered the most was the last thing, the guy that would not wait for me to get my mana back. Obnoxious.

I took two things away from this experience…

One is that even if a dungeon is low level, I still believe it’s worth doing right. It happened sort of here, but more specifically in previous pugs — I hate it when someone suggests something that is reflective of good grouping technique, and someone else says, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just __(low level dungeon)__.” That’s the first thing that bit about not stopping for my mana regen said. To me, it does matter how the dungeon is approached, even if it’s a forgiving, low level dungeon. Not only does it help me practice good technique, it can teach others good grouping techniques as well. (I’m looking at you, Kitey McHuntard.)

The other is that I am probably a fool to expect random people to be courteous to me in this game. I really have been spoiled lately by the poxers and my other guilds, where people are more than courteous when it comes to grouping. We are helpful to each other, mindful of the needs of each character and the feelings of each player. It makes for a much more pleasant playing experience. As I start doing a bit more pugging, leveling up these new toons, I need to remember to lower my expectations again. Kind of sad, but that is that.

Lil warlock is now level 15. Just before bed last night, she turned in the necklace to have Lady Sylvanas sing her a lullaby.

Shattered Pug

My hunter’s quest log is a mess, but I didn’t feel much like questing last night. (I think I really just don’t like the Blade’s Edge Mountains zone. It’s boring.) Instead, I did some dailies, farmed motes and leather in Nagrand, defended Halaa a bit, and put myself in the LFG for a few instances where I still had quests to complete. I finally got a bite for a regular Shattered Halls run around 9:30 pm. This was a bit late to be starting an instance on a week night, and Shattered Halls is a pretty tough instance, but what the heck…

To my great surprise, the pug was awesome. Like, amazingly good. I wondered if my pug members had secretly been replaced by guildmates. We had a druid tanking and priest healing, with my hunter, a mage, and a warlock supplying DPS and crowd control. We had a few screw-ups early on (the warlock’s succubus pulled an entire room, so we all had to run out of the instance), but after that the crowd control was good and even when we accidentally pulled a group of 8 instead of 5, we improvised well. As a bonus, the tank always re-marked the current kill target with a skull, so it was clear what we should be firing at next. There were a fair number of compliments going around (particularly to the healer), and the tank also gave a bit of advice to folks about what was happening along the way to those new to the instance.

During one of the early pulls, the blue square I was trapping either resisted the trap or broke it early. I’d already set a second trap, but the tank grabbed aggro on the mob before it ran into it. I did manage to get aggro on it again, but by then, the timing on the traps was a bit screwy and … well, it just didn’t go perfectly. After all the mobs were dead, the tank said, “Please keep trapping the blue square and putting the succubus on the pink diamond. Keep the CC going.”

“Yep, that’s my intent,” I said. “If the square isn’t trapped, it’s because it resisted the trap or it’s on its way to a second trap.”

“Succy, too,” said the tank.

“K,” said the warlock.

We continued on through the gauntlet, and the tank let us know we should keep moving and conserve some mana for the big fight at the end of the hall. I didn’t remember this earlier when I was relaying the story to my husband, but I’m remembering now that someone said, “don’t worry about mana — I have some tricks up my sleeve if we get low.” I think the priest then died during the battle, at which point someone (maybe the tank?) quipped, “Maybe we should conserve health instead.” The priest was soulstoned, so they resurrected and we all buffed again.

Just before the room with the gladiator packs, there were a few afks, bios, etc. I left briefly to refill my water glass, and when I came back, there was a fight going on. I jumped right in, and everyone seemed to be back except the mage. I didn’t say I was back because I knew the mage wasn’t back yet, and I’ve noticed that sometimes, as soon as the first person says they’re back, the pug just pushes forward. “Is everyone back?” asked the priest.

“I am, but <mage> is still afk,” I said.

“A ready check would have been appropriate,” said the priest.

“Just picking off a few lone guys in there,” said the tank. “Easy to handle, and I’d like to keep us moving.”

The mage returned and the tank marked the next big pull for us…

Now, the way the room is situated, there are four pockets of guys fighting each other along the sides. I ran this instance with my guild, so know that you’re supposed to wait until their health is low from fighting each other before pulling, and then you can burn them down pretty quickly, no CC necessary. The guild group wiped a few times before getting their timing right on this, so I was pretty sure this pug would wipe a few times, too.

The odd thing was that the tank didn’t mark the nearest set of fighters on the left — he marked the next group further up. Hm. Maybe he knew we could skip the closer group? (In the guild run, we talked about skipping all of them, but the daily required that we kill some of them, so we didn’t.) The tank pulled, and the further group grabbed the closer group as they ran by… uh-oh.

Tank: oops LOL RUN!!!

I started to run, thought of my upcoming repair bill and tried to feign death, but was immediately pummeled by the pack of angry gladiators. Hehehe… it was kind of funny. Not as funny as when the apes in Stranglethorn chase me, but still, a funny beatdown to witness.

As we were doing our corpse run, the priest said:

“Maybe if you spent a little more time studying the next pull and less time telling people how to play their class, things like this wouldn’t happen.”

😮

Tank: “Are you kidding?”

Priest: “No, I’m not.”

Tank: “I was just offering some advice since we have people that have never done this instance before.”

Priest :”You should have some faith that people who are level 70 are capable of playing their class.”

(Hahaha… ok, this person must not pug very much. 😛 )

Priest: “You said you were offering constructive criticism, and I hope now you are willing to accept some yourself.”

Tank: “<mage> said she was new. I just wanted to let her know what was going to happen next.”

Priest: “Heh, my point stands.”

Priest has left the party.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!! 😦

The tank said he might have a replacement healer if folks wanted to wait a sec, but the mage said, “I guess we’re done” and left the party, and the warlock followed moments later. Dammit, with that group, we definitely could have finished the instance. From my point-of-view, that was a really good pug. From the priest’s? I guess it wasn’t…

After all the stupidity (and illiteracy) I’ve seen lately in the BGs, maybe I’m a bit more open to dealing with the kind of advice the tank was doling. I also realize that the hunter class is very easy to level, and it’s very possible that someone could get all the way to 70 as a beastmastery hunter without ever having to chain trap anything in an instance. He told me something I knew, I told him I already knew it, done, no big deal. Last night I was thinking the priest may have been offended on my or the warlock’s behalf, but remembering some other things that happened (memory jogged as I was writing this), he may have been personally offended by some of the other stuff. Or he must have thought we were all incompetent. Either he has much better luck with pugs than I do, or he rarely pugs at all. Frankly, I go into pugs with pretty low expectations, so I thought this group was a delight. I wonder what percentage of pugs this guy ends up bailing on in a huff?

After, I told my guild about it, and one person said, “text is a funny thing — people can read a lot of things into it that aren’t there.” True. I guess if the priest thought the tank was crap, he was reading his comments with a different tone than the rest of us were. I stuck around in the group for a bit after the priest left and assured the tank I didn’t find his comments offensive. “I wasn’t trying to be patronizing,” the tank said. “I was trying to help.” Oh well.