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Posts tagged “teh funneh

Unfortunate fashion accidents

I thought I was really rolling when I got Beltar into an ICC 10-man raid last week and got a Taldron’s Short-Sighted Helm, which uses the same model as the T10 helms for hunters.  For some reason (I don’t even remember why, there was number-crunching involved, I guess), I got him the helmet, gemmed it, and enchanted it.  Then, happy to ditch his old T9 helm which I never really liked the looks of, I put it on…

…that’s right.  My dwarf now has a giant saronite Mr. Happy growing out of his forehead.  I mean, yeah, he’s a dickhead sometimes, but damn, Blizzard, did you have to be that literal?

And if that wasn’t bad enough…over the weekend, my shaman Sakula finally got exalted with the Wyrmrest Accord while failing his way through heroic Oculus.  That left him just one of the “big four” Northrend factions he needed rep with, the Kirin Tor.  So I changed his tabard and finished the heroic run.  Then I took a good look at what a Kirin Tor tabard looks like on a male troll…and /facepalmed.

Clearly, Rhonin felt the need to overcompensate for something, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).


How to spice up a boring heroic run…

…have a small child (my daughter, aka Nublet, aka The World’s Cutest Four-Year-Old) watching over your shoulder as you run Azjol-Nerub on your hunter.  And then have her firing questions at you non-stop while you’re trying to work a marks hunter rotation that you’re rusty on from lack of play.

“Are those bugs?”

“Yes, honey, they’re bugs.”

“Are they mean bugs?”

“Yes, honey, they’re mean bugs and they’re trying to eat us.”

“They look like spiders.”

“They are sort of like spiders, yes.”

“Why’s that one got an arrow over his head?”

“I put it there so we know which bug to kill first.”

“Spiders eat icky bugs.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Look!  That bug has little wings!”

“Yes, yes he does.”

“Is that wolf made out of ice?”

“No, honey, he’s just a white fluffy wolf.”

“He looks like he’s made out of ice.”

He’s not, love, he’s just a big white wolf that follows my guy around.”

“Does he bite bugs?”

“Yes, sweetie, he bites bugs.”

“Hey, a bridge made of ice!”

“That’s not ice, that’s spiderweb.”

“But why aren’t you getting stuck?”

“I don’t know, love, that’s just the way the game works.”

“That’s a biiiiig spider.”

“Mm-hmm.  And now he’s a big dead spider, see?”

“Eww, you fell in an icky river!  Are you going to step on the little bugs?”

“No, sweetie, I’m just going to leave those alone.”

“Why?  Shouldn’t you step on the little bugs?”

“No, hon, not enough time.  See, there’s the big boss bug.”

“Where?”

“There.”

“Oh, yeah.  Hey, he’s gone in his hole.”

“Yeah, he does that, and he sends little bugs out to try and eat us.”

“I think he’s got a secret tunnel.”

“Mm-hmm.”  (at this point I’m frantically trying to dodge darters)

“Look, no more boss bug!”

“Yep.”

“Are you going to go back and squish the little bugs now?”

“No, sweetie, we’re done.”

“Are you flying away on your dragon now?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“OK.  I’m gonna go draw fairies now.”



My name is Panzercow…

…and I approve this message.  Not least because I can’t think of a better artist to filk for a song about tanks than the Man in Black, who was basically the Avatar of Badass wearing a guitar.

(Yes, I know it’s two years old, I just saw it.  Shut up or I’ll Shield Slam you so hard they’ll be picking your teeth out of your ass.)

Hat tip:  our raid’s Chief Cat Herder, Itanya Blade and her paladin’s Helmet Hair of the Gorilla.


Linedan’s Top Ten Predictions for Cataclysm

And now, live from the home office in Red Cloud Mesa, it’s the Panzercow’s own Top Ten Predictions for Cataclysm…

10.  There will be a troll city in Cataclysm.  It will be named “Zul’Masharekinababa,” which is Old Trollish for “sweet zombie Jesus, NOT ANOTHER ONE!”

9.  Concerned about losing his macho appearance as he ages, King Varian Wrynn will go to Gadgetzan for plastic surgery…which goes horribly wrong and leaves him with pectoral muscles on his chin.  Strangely, he doesn’t seem to mind.

8.  After Horde characters unlock certain phasing in Orgrimmar, they will see Basic Campfire attempt a coup d’etat and try to dethrone Garrosh Hellscream as Warchief.  There will be several exciting quests to assist the usurper, culminating in Garrosh being banished back to Garadar, where he will resume sitting in the dirt, listening to Simple Plan, and cutting himself while writing orcish love poetry.

7.  There will be an NPC in Gilneas with some play on “Snoop Doggy Dogg” as a name, there to film a production of Gilneas:  Furries Gone Wild.

6.  Azeroth will suffer a massive economic crisis when it is announced that the Steamwheedle Cartel has defaulted on its purchase of Icecrown Citadel and its attempts to turn it into a theme park called “Arthasland.”

5.  Speaking of Icecrown, with the Lich King dead, Tirion Fordring will retire as Highlord of the Argent Crusade and return to his simple life along the Thondrodil River as a thirteen-foot-tall hermit farmer.

4.  In order to expand WoW’s appeal even further, Blizzard will announce that Deathwing will be voiced by Justin Bieber.  One million tween girls immediately subscribe and flood existing endgame raids looking for DPS spots as hunters, all with white cat pets named “Iluvjustin.”

3.  The shock announcement that the World of Warcraft client will run on the iPad is marred by Steve Jobs’ sudden reversal on the deal.  When pressed for an explanation, he points to a paladin’s toolbar and exclaims that something called “Flash of Light” will never be allowed to run on his platform.

2.  After five years, the bridge outside of Lakeshire will finally be completed.  As King Varian Wrynn is about to declare the Bolvar Fordragon Memorial Bridge open for traffic, Deathwing appears and destroys it again.  That poor bastard who’s been hammering on the thing since release throws himself into the lake and drowns.

And the number one prediction for Cataclysm:

1.  Headlines across Azeroth scream:  GHOSTCRAWLER AND JAINA PROUDMOORE CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN EXCLUSIVE HINTERLANDS LOVE NEST; THRALL SAID TO BE SHATTERED


A little randomness never hurt

Lately, my blogging Muse seems to have deserted me.  So while I wait for her to return from wherever she’s gone off to–my guess, personally, is that she’s on a bus heading for a gambling weekend at the Harrah’s casino down near Cherokee–here’s some random and semi-coherent rantings for a Good Friday:

- 0.9% wipe on Putricide last night in The Anvil’s 25-man.  ZERO POINT NINE BLEEPING PERCENT.  Maybe 400,000 health from our first Putricide kill after weeks of trying.  That’s just brutal, especially given our track record of being short on people for Friday raids (and this week looks to be no exception).  We executed near-perfectly on him last night on all attempts, for the most part, but even with Hellscream’s New and Improved Buff of Pity, we wiped at 3% and 0.9%, among a few others.  It can get frustrating as hell when you do everything (or almost everything, as close as you’ll get with 25 people and lag and whatnot) correctly, the abomination driver noms up all the slime and keeps Putricide slashed up, nobody dies to the oozes, and come phase 3, you still can’t quite seal the deal.  And that’s the killer part–we know we own this dweeb, he just hasn’t actually fallen over and coughed up the loot yet.  We need to get The Good News Man down so we can move on to Valithria Dreamwalker, Team Edward, and Blood Queen Gaga.

- I guess the Random Dungeon Gods like me.  I haven’t had any truly bad LFD groups in a couple of weeks.  Oh, there’s always some with some durp durp here and some durp durp there, here a durp, there a durp, everywhere a durp durp, but in general, I haven’t run across any real mind-bending Stupid for a while now.  In fact, since I run almost all my randoms as DPS (yes, even on Linedan–sometimes I just can’t be arsed dealing with tanking when I’m tired), I’ve been fortunate to get a string of modestly-geared yet extremely competent tanks.  It warms my heart to see a warrior tank with 32k health do a whale of a job tanking Forge of Souls–not an easy dungeon to PUG even at Lin’s inflated gear level–and have the other four people in the group work with him, not bitch him out for being geared at the appropriate level for an ICC heroic.  Of course, the next night, I get Lin-as-Fury into a FoS group where he’s out-DPSed by the tank…a druid with 58,000 health pulling 4300 dps, while Lin did 3900.  Wow.

- Speaking of Forge of Souls…I’ve taken to random specific heroics on a few characters, in addition to random dailies.  Linedan is stacking armor penetration as part of his Fury build…hence, trips to Forge of Souls for the tasty Needle-Encrusted Scorpion.  (Irony:  Beltar, my dwarf MM hunter who isn’t stacking passive arpen?  Got the Scorpion last week.)  My blood elf BM hunter Illithanis runs one of the three ICC heroics, because there’s something for her in each one–the Scorpion from Forge, the Felglacier Bolter from Pit of Saron, or the Orca-Hunter’s Harpoon from Halls of Waves of Trash.  For RP purposes, I’d prefer to get Illy one or two swords, as they seem more “elvish” a weapon than polearms or staves, but I’m not sure where I can even find hunter-itemized 1H or (especially) 2H swords these days without raiding.  No luck on the up-gearing yet, but it’s only a matter of time, right?

- I don’t get all the BM hunter hate.  Yes, I know, BM is weak sister to marks and survival in SRS BSNS progression raiding right now.  (Although we have a BM hunter in The Anvil who is absolutely wrecking shit…and proving a few people wrong about BM and raiding, at least in our behind-the-cutting-edge way, in the process.)  Personally, I think BM as a spec is slightly harder to raid with than MM.  I’ve got limited raiding experience in both, and honestly, I’ll take the somewhat trickier shot rotation of MM over the pet micromanagement of BM if I’m looking for “easy.”  MM feels like I’m more powerful because I’m seeing these crazy large numbers spamming down the right center of my screen…then I go look at Recount, and Illithanis, with modest gear compared to Beltar, is within 500 dps of the dwarf in heroics, and pulling solid numbers on her very rare ventures into Big Round Room.  Consistently.

- Highest Revenge crit since 3.3.3:  12,294.  Oh yeah.  I think I like this.

- But not even New Revenge compares to the power that is death nuggets’ new boosted Icy Touch–or, as the Twitterati have dubbed it, Icy Dickpunch.  Moody over at Death Grip My Heart (warning:  possible NSFW artwork of hot dead blood elf chick) has a pretty good post on it.  Short version:  It’s doing up to fourteen and a half times more threat than it did pre-patch.  And I believe it.  Revenge’s high damage has boosted our threat gen considerably, but now, our raid DK tank can accidentally pull mobs off me with Icy Touch crits.  Beforehand, if I could gain the threat lead on a mob we were both tanking, like Festergut or Saurfang, I could hold it without difficulty.  Now?  I lost the handle on Saurfang twice last night because of Icy Dickpunch crits pulling him back over onto the DK immediately after a taunt.  I thought I was suddenly missing taunts, but instead, it was just good old-fashioned accidental agro pong.

- Tamarind wrote a fantastic post over at Righteous Orbs on why “casual” raiding doesn’t–or shouldn’t–mean “roll in 15 minutes late and then go AFK to pinch a loaf.”  He said it a lot better than that, of course.  He’s British.  They do that.  Say things better, I mean.  (BTW, if you are not reading Tamarind and Chastity over at RO, you should.  You’re missing out.)

That’s pretty much it from the Panzercow Bunker.  Here’s hoping my Muse catches the bus back from Harrah’s, hopefully not too broke, next week.  Have a happy Easter weekend, kids.


Tirion Fordring is the Marlin Perkins of Icecrown.

(Disclaimer:  The following post is brought to you by Linedan’s player being in a very strange mood. You have been warned.)

For you young people who never had the privilege of knowing who he was, Marlin Perkins was the host of the long-running nature show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for over twenty years (1963-1985).  Aside from being one of the pioneers of the nature-show format, Wild Kingdom was semi-famous for having good ol’ Marlin sit back and narrate while his poor long-suffering sidekick–professional zoologist and dangerous animal target Jim Fowler–actually had to go out and do the real hands-on work.  Typically Marlin would be chillin’ like a villain either back at the base camp with the native girls or, more likely, back in some studio somewhere recording voiceovers like “Here’s Jim giving the angry musk ox a hernia exam while I’m at the hotel watching Spectravision and making travel reservations for our flight home.  Don’t forget the latex glove, Jim!”  Jim was a stud.  Basically, Jim was Bear Grylls when Bear Grylls was still wearing diapers.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you that Tirion Fordring is our Marlin Perkins.

Think about it.  Here’s Tirion, old veteran undead-wrangler, rebuilder of the Silver Hand, co-founder of the Argent Crusade and the Ashen Verdict (because we obviously needed yet another rep grind).  Compare that to Marlin, who was a respected zoologist and zoo curator for decades before he walked in front of a TV camera.  They’ve both been there, done that, and honestly, have probably earned the right to take a bit of a break from the front lines of either cleaving Scourge in twain or attempting to radio-collar a pissed-off grizzly.  (At least Marlin never had to stand in the same big round room all the time and listen to Garrosh Hellscream and Varian Wrynn neener at each other.)

But really, here’s the analogy.  Marlin always sent Jim out into the bush to do the dirty work while he sat back, right?  So does Tirion.  You walk into Icecrown Citadel, and there’s Tirion hanging out with High Badass Saurfang.  We get a brief glimpse that Bolvar Fordragon may not, in fact, be beyond saving, and Saurfang hauls ass for the Orgrim’s Hammer because hey, if Bolvar’s not dead, then maybe there’s a chance to get Wrynn and Garrosh to quit slapfighting long enough to actually do something about the Scourge.

At which point, Tirion says something like this.  I tuned out for part of it, but this is what I heard:

“Blah.  Blah blah heroes blah blah Arthas blah final battle blah blah justice blah blah shining suns blah blah Verdict blah.  Now let’s watch our heroes get overwhelmed by trash skeletons and sliced and diced by Lord Marrowgar, while I’m back here at base camp in the hot tub learning the finer points of the Pandaren tea ceremony from Lady Proudmoore.”

Or back at the Crusader’s Coliseum:

“Blah blah working together blah challenge blah worthy blah 15 badges of Triumph blah blah.  Now let’s watch our heroes save us from trifling idiot gnomes ‘working of their own volition’ (insert fingerquotes here) while I’m behind the screen discussing the finer points of Enlightenment philosophy with Argent Confessor Paletress.”

So there you have it.  Tirion Fordring is WoW’s version of Marlin Perkins.  Discuss!


Cross-server PUG culture shock

From my lovely wife on Google chat just now:

“We’ve been doing new dungeons but keep having to pick up one cross-server DPS.  I don’t think ‘Grampywraith’ was quite prepared for me and Jemjabari RPing our way across the Pit of Saron.

‘Jemjabari.  You may be somewhat confused.  The skulls are NOT YOUR FRIENDS.’  <pause> ‘Please stop petting them.'”

“Good thing Da ain’t seein’ this.”

"Ain't natural."

“Right, lad, I hear what yer sayin’.  It’s a nice bow, ain’t denyin’ it.  I know it’s better’n me old gun.  But it’s a bow, lad.  Dwarves, we don’t use ‘ese here things, aye?  Bent sticks’o’wood w’strings onna back, ‘em’s fer poncy elves prancin’ round th’forest.  A dwarf needs th’ feel o’a boomstick in ‘is hand, boy.  ‘Sides, last time I tried t’go on campaign w’a bow, ’bout damn threw m’shoulder outta joint fer a week.”

(EDIT AFTER THE FACT):  OK, the quick story behind this, and why Beltar is the Wildfire Riders’ resident loot trashcan extraordinaire.  While on last night, the call went out for a ranged DPS to help in Ulduar because Yva‘s connection crapped itself and she couldn’t get back on.  So I volunteered.  Despite his somewhat marginal gear compared to the rest of the 10-man, we got Hodir hardmode…and he got a nice cloak when the guy who won the roll saw that Beltar was still wearing a blue Cloak of Holy Extermination.  (Vent:  “BELTAR, GODDAMMIT, YOU ARE TAKING THIS CLOAK NOW.”)  Then we cleared Vezax trash…and the Golemheart Longbow dropped.  At that point, Yva got back on and I headed back out so she could take her spot back and they went on to get hardmode Vezax.


So awful, it was awesome

Everybody’s got pick-up group (“PUG”) horror stories.  If you’ve played WoW for any length of time, and grouped with total strangers to try and get a quest or instance or raid completed, you’ll quickly start building a list of tales of woe.  If nothing else, PUGs should make you feel much better about yourself, I think…after all, since you’re smart enough to be reading this fine blog, obviously you are a top-notch human being in general and WoW player in particular, and do not deserve to group with people so stupid that they have to put a sticky note on their monitor to remind themselves to breathe.

But even the best of us–and I–sometimes have to PUG.  And last night, I ran across a doozy.

I was on my hunter alt, and wanted to run the daily heroic, which was Gundrak.  Now Gundrak isn’t the easiest WotLK heroic out there, in my opinion.  Slad’ran (the poison snake boss) has wiped me more times than I care to think about; even with excellent players and a top healer in T7/T8 raid gear, his Poison Nova can throw out more damage than we can power through.  The Drakkari Colossus is a pain-in-the-ass pray-your-and-your-healer’s-latency-is-low movement fight.  Even Gal’darah, who’s pretty straightforward, will gib a strong tank if the tank has a brain fart and doesn’t get out of whirlwinds.  (Don’t ask me how I know this.  Please.)

But, against my better judgement, I joined the LFG queue for it anyway.  And a couple of minutes later, I got a whisper–“h gun?”

Let’s see.  No complete words, all lowercase, and this on an RP server.  I feel a winner of a run coming on.  Eh, toujours de l’audace, dude, what the hell…”Sure!”, I replied.  I immediately found myself in a group with the group leader (a boomchicken), a warlock, and a male human paladin–obviously the tank, since he had over 40,000 health–named…Hotbox.

Ohhhhh yeah.  The stench of quality is overpowering with this one.

I flew for Gundrak while the leader druid rustled up a healer (another druid), and the five of us headed inside.  I was immediately greeted with Blizzard’s lovely new feature…the “ZOMG are you sure you want to save to this instance??!?!?11?” dialog box.  Hmm.  That’s not supposed to happen.  Well, we were all a bit confused by this, but all of us accepted and thus saved ourselves to that heroic Gundrak instance.  And down the stairs we went toward Slad’ran’s area.

We got to the entrance, ate a Fish Feast, and the paladin “Hotbox” pulled.  Without warning.  Two groups.  Hoo boy.  A frenetic and confused fight ensued in which the warlock and tree died, but we got both the trash groups.  The resto druid popped (yay soulstones) and started rezzing the warlock…as the paladin pulled more trash without saying anything.  Ugh.  We four-manned the trash, got the warlock back in…and then the tree said, “no boss.”

We looked.  Slad’ran wasn’t in his alcove.  We walked over to the alcove and saw that the alcove bridge gizmo had been activated.  In fact, all the gizmos had been activated, the bridge to Gal’darah’s ramp was aligned, and had the trolls and rhinos in position.  That meant that Slad’ran, the Colossus, and Moorabi were all dead.

Now people started getting pissed.  The critchicken who had the “hat” denied vehemently that he’d been in Gundrak that day, as did the rest of us.  And yet somehow, we were looking at an instance where the trash was up, but the bosses weren’t, the worst possible combination.

So the rest of the party started jumping off the ledge into the water.  I was last because, of course, I had to dismiss my pet.  In that period of time, people started getting eaten by the fish.  A clusterfuck ensued, resulting eventually in us getting to the ramp with two more deaths, to which the group leader said, and I quote exactly, “lol.”

Yeeeeah.

We formed back up, buffed, and fought our way up the ramp to Gal’darah’s area…

…and he wasn’t there.  His bodyguards and their rhinos were.  But he wasn’t.

The paladin pulled the rhinos (without saying anything) anyway, and nearly died because we were all too busy going “wtf?!?” in party chat, but we got them.  A ferocious argument ensued where the boomkin protested his innocence and swore he hadn’t been in Gundrak for at least a week.  Hotbox also said he hadn’t been in Gundrak for at least a week.  The other two said it had been longer than that, and I hadn’t had my dwarf in there for literally a couple of months.

So there our tale ends.  Hotbox (!) the male paladin, plus the other four of us, all hearthed our separate ways, probably to never see each other again except amidst the bustling crowds of Dalaran…or in the LFG tool someday, God forbid.  I had a pittance of silver and a locked instance with no way to score the two Triumph badges I wanted.  Either somebody was lying their ass off, or had gotten tricked, or we had a bugged instance.  And it was 25 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

I balmed my wounded soul by wandering off to the Pig and Whistle in Old Town Stormwind for four hours of the best RP I’ve had in many a month…culminating in a raid by the Stormwind Guard, two near-arrests, three strained marriages, a couple of damaged friendships, and one of the Wildfire Riders’ red-haired paladins telling another of the Wildfire Riders’ red-haired paladins to go fuck themselves, while the third of the Wildfire Riders’ red-haired paladins stood there and shook her head in disbelief.

What’s two Triumph badges in comparison to that?


The Zombiepocalypse, One Year On

This time last year in WoW, we were fighting for our lives.  Or, maybe running for our lives might’ve been more appropriate.  Our towns and cities were overrun by gigantic hordes of shambling, terrifying zombies, and they only wanted one thing…braaaaaiiiinnnnss.

Yep.  Last year, in the runup to Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard decided to give us a world event we’d never forget.  Forget the 2008 recycle of the 2006 Naxxramas opening event, where you got to go out to various zones and then get camps of undead stolen from you so you couldn’t get those l33t [Jockstraps of Undead Slaying].  No, Arthas had a little more in mind this time than sitting there and waiting for us to smash up some crystals and scream at people for jacking our mobs.

Remember how it started?  Boxes of tainted food started appearing, mysteriously, in towns.  And then came the zombies…well, OK, ghouls, but they were called zombies, because zombies are cooler than ghouls.  If a zombie bit you, or you messed with a food box, or you splattered a tainted bug or rat, you got cooties.  If you didn’t get cured by the time the cootie timer ran out, you became a zombie, with a whole new set of abilities…including having to fight nearly-constantly or your health would drain away and you’d die.  Zombies aren’t exactly known for just standing around and chillaxin’, y’know?  They feel the need…the need to feed.

At first, the disease timer was 10 minutes and it was easy to cure…no worries.  Then the disease timer dropped to 5 minutes, and then two minutes, and then one minute.  By that time, it was World War Z time, baby.  There were zombies everyfrickinwhere, man.  Cities became deathtraps as guards and NPCs got zombified by the dozens.  Death and undeath were spread across Azeroth and Outland.

And just like that, it was over.  Grand Apothecary Putress came up with the cure, and the Argent Dawn delivered it…and all that was left was to clean up the streets of Orgrimmar and Stormwind, burn the bodies, and count the cost.

There’s no doubt that Blizzard absolutely swung for the fences with what we’ve termed the “Zombiepocalypse.”  This was not just another holiday, or some optional event for certain levels.  This was specifically designed to get the point across that the Lich King wants your ass dead.  Yes, you.  And he doesn’t much care about your daily quest grind or your current assignment to retrieve eight [Bear Asses] for some idiot in Thelsamar.  This is total war, son.

There’s also no doubt that the Zombiepocalypse was the most contentious and divisive world event Blizzard’s ever done.  It affected almost everyone who played during that week last October, whether you wanted to be affected or not.  The only way to “opt out” was not to play.  The potency of the disease in the last few days, plus the ease of catching and spreading it, made Hakkar’s old Corrupted Blood look like a minor sniffle.  You either loved the Zombie Invasion of 2008, or you hated it.  There was no in between.

Well, except for me.  I can find the in-between on anything.  (Yes, I am the world’s only wishy-washy tank.)

Let’s take a look at the bad, and then the good, that came out of the Zombiepocalypse, and what lessons Blizzard can hopefully take away from it for any world-shattering–literally–events they may want to try for Cataclysm’s ramp-up.  First, the bad:

- Griefing.  The Zombiepocalypse proved that there’s a population of people on every server who are nothing but raving assholes who get a good laugh out of ruining other people’s fun…but can’t handle it when their own plans get thwarted.  Stories ran rife of groups of level 70 player zombies tearing a swath through newbie towns, infecting the guards, causing level 1-5 characters to get one-shotted again and again.  Questgivers and flightmasters were dead or undead for extended periods.  Auction house bombing (run into an AH and zombie-explode, thus infecting everyone around) became an art form.  Protests from the affected parties brought forth streams of “lololol cry more noob.”  And yet, when a paladin or priest would “fight back” by actually, y’know, cleansing the disease off the zombie, oh, the four- and five- and twelve-letter bombs that flew from the newly de-zombified!  Newsflash, Griefer Boy:  If you get to run around and make life miserable for level 10s, then we get to cure you back from zombie form into douchebag form, even though your spelling and grammar is better when you’re screaming “braaaaiiiinnnnsss lol.”  Yes, I know the event was designed to force people out of a comfort zone–I get that (see below).  But like every other thing that griefers get a hold of, many times, zombiedom was turned into nothing more than an excuse to be a dong.

- Non-consensual PvP.  Here you are, Joe Noob, level 11 mage, rolling around Westfall wondering why the hell Old Blanchy can’t just graze her own oats and HAY WTF LEVEL 70 ZOMBIE ZOMG I’M DED.  Zombies, see, know not of your PvP flags.  A zombie could attack, and be attacked by, anybody, anytime.  They were, effectively, their own faction…and you were always flagged to them.  Don’t want to PvP?  Tough toenails.  If a player zombie wants to PvP with you, you can outrun him, yeah, because he’s a zombie, but other than that, you’re PvPing regardless.

- Shattrath.  Nowhere did the problems with the event loom larger than Shattrath City.  Shattrath, of course, is a Sanctuary–no PvP combat allowed.  This included zombies.  Which means that once a player turned into a zombie, they were, for all intents, immune from attack from other players.  Similarly, player zombies could not infect other players directly…but they could chain the infection among the hordes of Aldor and Scryer and refugee NPCs running around, and those NPC zombie swarms could zombify or kill a player in short order, because of the additive nature of zombie bites–the more you get hit, the more it cuts the timer down.  As long as the player zombies could find the occasional NPC to nomnomnom, there wasn’t a damned thing zombie-fighters could do to stop the root cause of the problem.  It was a gaping hole in the “ruleset” for Zombiepocalypse, if you will, and it was exploited to the utmost.

- Melee need not apply.  That week was an awesome time to be a priest, or especially a paladin.  Everybody snuggled up close to you because, hey, hordes of undead are what you live for, right?  You can heal the sick, or you can protect the innocent, or you can just ret up and kick massive zombie ass.  Well, conversely, trust me, it was a shitty time to be a warrior.  The last couple days of the plague, the infection timer was a mere one minute…and each zombie bite cut it down by something like ten seconds.  Just a few nibbles and you were a zombie, whether you wanted to be or not.  There was no place for warriors in particular (although I’m not sure shamans could clear it off themselves, or if rogues could CoS out of it).  Even if I had a paladin behind me spamming cleansing on me while fighting a zombie horde, all it’d take is one resist or one lag spike, and poof, Zombiepanzercow.  I had really wanted to play Linedan through the end of the Zombie Invasion, but it quickly became so obviously pointless that my fearless Panzercow ended up not logging on for the last two days of the fight.  Beltar, my dwarf hunter, became my primary character, and I had a much better time.

Now, all that said, do I think Zombiepocalypse was a failure?  Hell no.  Here’s the good stuff:

- Arthas wants to eat your face.  Nothing drives home the fact that Arthas is the Big Bad like having your entire city overrun by brain-eating zombies.  We, as players of WoW (especially if we never played any of the Warcraft RTS games, as I didn’t), will never really feel the despair and desperation of the Third War, of the loss of Lordaeron and Stratholme and Darrowshire, the scouring of the Ghostlands and Eversong and the desperate stand at the gates of Silvermoon.  That one week, a week of increasing disruption and violence and vicious fighting in the streets, is the closest we’ll get.  If you’re a bit of a lore nerd like I am, that alone makes putting up with the negatives a ton easier.

- The RP was awesome.  Since I ended up on my dwarf for most of the latter half of the Zombiepocalypse, I ended up fighting in Stormwind along with his guild, the Wildfire Riders.  And there was crazy fighting going on.  The zombie-lovers were constantly infecting the Trade District and Old Town.  There were pitched battles in the streets all that last night, literally for hours.  Zombies were popping out of every building as vendors got infected.  The “front” shifted constantly, from the Trade District to the Harbor to Old Town and back to the Trade District.  We gave it a name…”The Longest Night.”  And the roleplay and stories that came out of the last night of the event still resonate among us to this day, so much that we’re having a little in-game get-together soon to remember the night that the Pig and Whistle became Old Town’s last redoubt against the forces of undeath.

- You got to be a zombie!  I had a rule of thumb.  I’d fight like hell against any zombie I saw, but if they got me, they got me fair, and I proceeded to go all-out as a zombie.  (My exception was Shattrath…the situation was so screwed up there thanks to the Sanctuary rules, I’d just go off in a corner and suicide.)  Why not?  Being a zombie, if you’re reasonable about it, is hella fun.  You can control NPC zombies, you can lurch around yelling “BRAAAAAIIIIINS,” you eat tasty human fase to regain health.  What’s not to like about it?

- Beltar got to pretend he was Bruce Campbell.  Sort of.  Shooting zombies in the middle of the Trade District while ripping off one-liners in /say?  Hell yeah.

I really hope that Blizzard has something as epic as the Zombiepocalypse planned for the Cataclysm rollout.  I just hope that if they do, they take a hard look at what went wrong last year (and there was a lot) and don’t just dismiss the legitimate complaints as “a bunch of noob carebear whiners,” like a lot of the forum idiots do.  Obviously you can’t have something like this without disrupting people’s play, at least some.  But with some thought, they should be able to at least mitigate some of the griefing and make it more enjoyable for more people, of all levels.


In the grim future of Panzercow 40,000…

Sometime late on Sunday night, Achtung Panzercow passed the forty thousand pageview mark in just under 11 months of existence.  I still don’t know how.  I mean, it’s just me, one fat guy in the American South, taking time out of his occasionally-busy workday to randomly wank about WoW, right?  A little roleplay here, some warrior advice there (some of which is even, on occasion, almost correct!), a bit of raiding in the middle, all garnished by snark and profanity?  Doesn’t exactly sound like a winning combination…and yet, a couple hundred people a day troop through here, day after day.  (And half of you forget to wipe your feet.)  Thank you all, so much.  I couldn’t do this without the folks who come through here and read and comment, and I wouldn’t want to anyway.

The Anvil’s raiding this past weekend was a mixed bag.  This was the weekend we decided we were going to start making serious pushes on some Ulduar hardmodes.  But first on Thursday night, we stopped through ToC for our weekly visit.  They really just need to put a vending machine outside the place…we do a retinal scan, it gives us our 15 Triumph badges, and we head on to something actually, y’know, interesting, instead of spending an hour and a half staring at the same room and listening to Garrosh and Wrynn stroke their peens.  (OK, an hour ten minutes staring at the same room and then 20 minutes in Anub’arak’s pad.  Whatev.)  We went five for five on one-shots, including the hated Faction Champions, culminating on a nice clean kill on Anub’arak.  We are, unfortunately, falling into that large gap between Trial of the Crusader and Trial of the Grand Crusader.  We’re able to cruise through 25 normal with relative ease now,  but 25 heroic would probably gut us like a fish.  It’s a somewhat awkward position to be in.

The second half of Thursday night was spent in Ulduar.  We went for Shutout on Flame Leviathan, with no towers up–a pure speed kill.  Well, how does fifty-four seconds flat sound for a speed kill?  (Pyrite spam is love, baby.)  Then it was on to XT, where we forced his hardmode for the first time by finally bringing enough deeps to destroy his heart.  We couldn’t quite bring him down–our best wipe was about 35%–but that’s OK, as it was the first time a lot of us had seen hardmode on XT and we’re still learning how to handle Life Sparks and voidpoo and whatnot.  We rounded out the night with Kologarn and Razorscale.

Thursday was interesting for me because it’s one of the few times–maybe the only time, come to think of it–that I’ve been pure DPS for every one of those fights except Faction Champions (where prot > everything).  My Arms gear is still at least a full tier below where it needs to be, not to mention badly itemized, and Arms is not a killer DPS spec for personal glory anyway.  But I managed, according to World of Logs, to squeeze out around 3500 DPS for the entire three hours, and actually beat a couple of other people on aggregate damage and DPS for the first time.  It’s still not my favorite thing to do, but all four of us who tank for The Anvil rotate in and out, and all four of us get our turn in the deeps barrel occasionally.  I got some deeps upgrades, ditched some of my excess +hit (maybe too much!), and once I get my new toys enchanted and gemmed, should be able to see a bit of an increase.

Now, Fridays have been our bane lately.  We’ve really had to scramble to fill 24 or 25 slots.  Because of the number of subs we were running, we pretty much knew that hardmodes weren’t going to work on Friday, so it ended up being a relatively laid-back three-hour tour of Onyxia, Auriaya, Hodir, Thorim (who gave us a fair amount of trouble, more than usual), Freya, and Ignis.  I’m pretty sure our officers are going to extend the Ulduar lockout so we can take cracks at Mimiron (NO FIREFIGHTER), one of the IC hardmodes, Vezax, and Yoggy next week.

Personally, I’m pleased that Lin is closing in on a second piece of T9.25, because the warrior Tier 9 set bonuses are sweet.  My problem is, I don’t have a ToC 10-man.  All the 10-mans that my guildies, raidmates, and friends run are completely locked-in for tanks.  So I’m only getting 15 badges a week, meaning it takes quite a while to accumulate 45 or 75 for a T9.25 piece (or even 30 or 50 for the vanilla T9).  My wonderful wife tried to throw a 10-man ToC together on Saturday afternoon…yeeeah, it didn’t go well.  It’s easy to get cocky when your raid group walks through Northrend Beasts like a tank through a sheet of paper, and then you take a mixture of friends’ alts and a couple pickups in and Gormok hands you your ass after he’s bitten it off and had a snobold roast it.  It helps you remember that yes, it’s quite possible to dominate on Thursday night and look like a scrub on Saturday afternoon.

Oh, and Linedan, Azeroth’s Most Humorless Cow, has Hallow’s End wands.  Whether he actually uses them or not, we’ll have to see.  More than likely, he’ll accidentally hit somebody with one and be mortified.


Hit rating: How much is too little?

If you’re reading this expecting an answer to the question above…sorry, folks, I don’t have one.  Because, see, it’s my question.

As I posted in my latest installment of So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior on endgame gearing, there’s certain magic numbers that you strive to hit when you first move up to tanking heroics or raids.  One of those numbers is 263 hit rating, otherwise known as the magic rating number that gives you +8% chance to hit–needed to push misses out of the picture completely.

If you’ve had a chance to run through Ulduar a bit, or have looked at some of the items that come out of there, you may notice that it seems like almost everything’s got +hit on it.  I know many melee DPS, despite their best gearing efforts, who came out of Titan Disneyworld way, way over the hit cap.  My wife, a feral druid who Knows What She’s Doing, is stuck with 313 hit rating–and that’s after replacing some Ulduar pieces with Trial of the Crusader stuff.  Our raid’s Chief Cat Herder was pushing nearly four hundred hit rating–11 or 12 percent +hit–at one point.  Even Lin’s arms gear, a grab-whatever-I-can-find hashup of badge, Naxx-25, Ulduar-10, Ulduar-25, and a couple of ToC pieces, sticks him with 300 hit rating and not nearly enough expertise to balance it.

Lin in tank mode was no exception through Ulduar.  Recently, I finally got his hit rating to about 265, with his expertise in the low 20s–not quite dodge-capped, but close.

Enter Trial of the Crusader and other Tier 9 content.

Suddenly, +hit is gonzo.  Last night, I got a nice upgrade from Faction Champions in ToC-25…the very tasty ilevel 245 version of the Belt of Bloodied Scars, to replace his Shieldwarder Girdle.  The BoBS is great for his “boss” avoidance set.  More strength, more stamina, lots of dodge, parry, and defense.  But…no +hit.  The Shieldwarder’s Girdle had a lot of +hit.

And so, I, der Panzercow, the guy who just told you aspiring nubwarriors last week that you need 263 hit rating…is running around with 159.  Three full percent below what you are supposed to have.  At least I have 28 expertise.

I almost didn’t take that BoBS because of what it’d do to my hit rating.  A couple of my fellow tanks had to smack some sense into me before I went ahead.  But now, here I sit, with a 3.07% chance to miss on every swing.  Every taunt.  Every…well…everything.

Now here’s the weird part.  I’ve spoken to two people, one in my raid, one in another raid that’s slightly ahead of us in progression.  And they’re saying that from what they’ve seen, it’s now no big deal for tanks to be running around at 5% or even lower +hit.  Because, apparently, just as it seemed like everything in Ulduar had +hit, stuff in ToC and Onyxia’s Lair 2.0 doesn’t.  So tanks are having to adapt.

That brings me back to the question at the title of this post.  If you’re tanking a raid at this level–hardmode Ulduar, normal or heroic ToC–are you doing it with less than 8% +hit?  If so, how is it working out?  What are you doing to mitigate the chance of misses, especially on taunt-sensitive fights like Gormok?  Am I being a nubsauce for worrying about this?  Why does it burn when I pee?  And, of course, are we there yet?


Congratulations to Cadistra

All of us here at the Panzercow Bunker–uh, that’d be me, I guess–would like to give humongous tankycow cheers and hugs to Kelly “Cadistra” Aarons over at WoW, Eh?, for winning the September 2009 Blizzard comic contest with her hilariously accurate history lesson of exactly how the worgen came to be.  As with everything else in the universe, it’s the elves’ fault.

If you aren’t reading WoW, Eh? every week, you should.  It’s hilarious.  Plus, Cadistra?  Yep, you guessed it.  Tauren. Proving the inherent superiority of bipedal cows yet again.  Mooyah.


Faction Champions: a “worthless scrub” of a fight

I’ve decided that I, the player behind your kindly, warm, fuzzy Panzercow, am going to learn a foreign language.  Maybe Russian, that sounds pretty macho.  Or German…lots of glottal stops and hard vowels and eleventy-syllable compound words, and besides, my wife majored in it in college.  Heck, maybe I’ll just have some fun and go for Klingon.  Klingon is pretty metal.

Why, you ask?  Because English, as wonderful a language as it is, simply does not have enough nasty-sounding words for me to express just how incredibly fucking much I hate the Faction Champions fight in the Crusader’s Coliseum. 

Not even “fucking,” that wonderful all-purpose spiked warhammer of a dirty word, quite gets the point across just how much I despise the Delrissa-on-Steroids encounter–even if I use italics.  Let’s take a look at all the various bits and pieces of this lovely little ten minutes of computerized Hell and see how they combine to turn the entire thing into a giant toasted turd sandwich garnished with fail and lovingly drizzled in noobsauce, shall we?

First, there’s the setup.  My thoughts about the entire Icecrown County Fair in general have been well-documented, and need not be repeated in depth here–overall, I think it’s kind of stupid.  The principle behind the Crusader’s Coliseum kicks it up a notch…gee, Tirion, I thought your Light-worshipping kinder-and-gentler human kind had evolved beyond bloody gladiatorial spectacles.  And then there’s Varian “The Chin” Wrynn–former slave gladiator–standing up there getting off on the entire thing having a grand old time like he’s parked on the fifty-yard line on NFL game day.  I can see Garrosh thinking the entire thing is great fun, but Wrynn?  A guy who’s literally “been there, done that, got the scars to prove it” is standing up there whooping it up with a big blue “Alliance #1″ foam finger and watching people die?  I don’t doubt for a second that Wrynn’s various ordeals have knocked a few things out of alignment upstairs, but I have a hard time believing that somebody who was enslaved and fought beasts to the death for a living would wish it on anybody else, at least on his own Alliance.  (OK, he probably would love to see us Horde get nommed by not one, but two Jormungar.)

So then the entire thing takes a bit of a turn after Lord Jaraxxus eats dirt.  (As an aside, why don’t we just kill the gnome?  It’s more fun and saves a lot of trouble.)  Garrosh gets his ass up on his shoulders about the Alliance summoning a demon…well, duh, Einstein, Tirion Fordring said the gnome was a warlock and that he was working for the Crusade, not for the Alliance.  But of course, Wrynn loses his cookies like a seven-year-old at the swingset, and the “nuh-uhhh” “uh-huh” “no u” “no u” “ur mom” “no ur mom” flies back and forth over our heads for a minute until Fordring has to sigh and say, “OK, Varian, send your people down to fight their people if it’ll shut you two the fuck up.  Oy, I’m getting a headache.”

(An aside:  Where are Thrall and Jaina through all this?  Why doesn’t Thrall turn around and lay the Doomhammer upside Garrosh’s punk head?  Why doesn’t Jaina raise one perfectly manicured hand and tell Wrynn he’s being a doosh?  Listen, you two, stop making goo-goo eyes at each other from across the arena and act like you run things, k?  K.)

The concept behind the fight itself is simple enough.  25 of you, 10 of them from the opposing faction, chosen from 14 different characters.  (On 25-man heroic, I think it’s supposed to be 25v13.)  It is a pretty straight copy of the Delrissa encounter from Magister’s Terrace.  The faction champions don’t have normal agro tables.  They switch targets frequently.  They have, and use, almost all the capabilities of their designated class–especially the annoying ones.  So the arms warrior pops Retaliation, Bladestorms, Mortal Strikes, Hamstrings, etc.  The resto druid pops various heals, thorns, etc.  The shamans (one resto, one enhancement) drop appropriate totems, they pop Heroism or Bloodlust, they heal, etc.  It’s a fight where you can’t simply say “tank this, offtank this, burn down this,” because you can’t control their agro.  It favors crowd control over raw DPS.

That’s the theory.  In practice, it combines the worst elements of PvE and PvP into one big spring roll of suck.

Where it runs into difficulty is in the entire concept of “locking down” certain faction champions, and the concept of “diminishing returns.”  We all know that things like taunts and stuns are on diminishing returns timers…by the fourth time or so that you use any one of them in rapid succession, the target is immune.  Now in PvP, that’s not always that big a problem, because your target’s got maybe 40 or 45 thousand health, max.  If you can keep them stunlocked or controlled and you have a couple of people to focus fire on them, by the time your control mechanisms become ineffective, your target’s going to be dead.

Try that when the target has 1.9 million health.

With 10 (or more) champions to worry about, unless you dogpile everybody on one or two and let the others roam free, you can’t truly “lock down” any of them, even the healers.  They will get heals off.  You can partially control them, but not totally.  Your hope is to reduce their effectiveness to the point that they aren’t contributing too much to things.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter if you’re a tank or not.  You’re getting stunned.  You’re getting shept.  You’re getting crowd-controlled and bitchslapped by bladestorming warriors and FoKing rogues.  Your AoE damage is reduced by 75% to keep you from just piling them up in the center and having everybody burn them down.  Their AoE damage isn’t reduced at all.  They have 2 million health each.  You have 25 to 45 thousand.

People call this a “PvP fight,” because certain pieces of PvP gear like CC-breaking trinkets help.  But it’s not.  It’s nothing more than a clusterfuck of a PvE fight where agro control is basically unworkable, where you have to try to use certain PvP-like mechanics to survive.  As a tank, these types of fights are mind-blowingly frustrating to me, because our job–the entire damn reason we’re even in the raid with our l33t 2000 dps–is control.  We are the controllers.  We make order out of chaos.  We control who attacks what (on both sides) and where and how the fight happens.  If you take the ability to control out of the fight…I think you can see how infuriating that can be.

And then, there’s the folks who just don’t really like PvP all that much.  Yes, skilled PvPers can be more effective in this fight because they’re used to the total chaos of it all, the fast target-switching, the situational awareness.  If you’re a raider who doesn’t PvP, doesn’t like it, and never learned it, why should you suddenly have to act like you’ve got a 5v5 rating of 1900 in order to get through a PvE raid fight?

Another reason I hate it?  I hate what it does to my raid.  We’re a fairly even-keeled bunch.  Yeah, we get frustrated after repeated wipes, but for the most part, we constructively channel it into thinking about strategy and how we can do better next attempt.  The first week we did Faction Champions, it took us seven tries to beat it.  By the fifth one, our Chief Cat Herder was probably thinking “if you kids don’t stop, I’m going to turn this raid around right now.”  People were snapping at each other like I hadn’t heard in quite a while.  Faction Champions raises the frustration and anger level of people like no other fight I’ve ever seen.

Finally–and tied in with the previous point–there’s a little piece of atmosphere Blizzard throws in for good measure.  Every time one of you dies, Wrynn (in our case) says something.  Sometimes it’s just “HAH!”  More commonly, it’s “Worthless scrub!”  Think about that.  The King of Stormwind, Big Cheese Kahuna of All Humanity and the Alliance and Yes, Even Gnomes, is using the word “scrub.”  (I’m sure Garrosh is equally charming when my Alliance friends have to go through this little ordeal.)  Hey, Blizz, was that really necessary?  You’ve already constructed a fight that sends PvEers like me into rabid convulsions of anger, do you really need to add that little extra cherry on top of Varian Wrynn verbally teabagging the casualties from the peanut gallery?

It’s all enough to make me convinced that the Alliance should’ve just let Wrynn get eaten in his slave pit, and I should’ve left Garrosh sitting in the dirt in Garadar those many months ago, listening to Simple Plan and cutting himself.  The world would’ve been made brighter thereby.


The Anvil Wants You, Part Deux

Hi. I’m Linedan.  And it’s time for my every-so-often raid recruiting blog post.

The Anvil is a Hordeside 25-man raid on Feathermoon-US (a Pacific timezone RP server).  We are currently 12/14 Ulduar, with only The Yoggster left to go on non-hard-mode 25, and 4/5 25-normal ToC (more on that later) with a few Ulduar hardish modes under our belt.  We raid Thursday nights from 6 to 9, and Friday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 (Pacific time).  We also have a couple of 10-mans that are not technically part of the Anvil but are run by and composed of Anvil members, and we have a chat channel and Ventrilo available for use for raids, instances, PvP, Silvermoon cyb0rz, whatever.  You do not need to join one of our component guilds to be a part of the raid.  

Right now, Real Life has cost us a couple of our regular healers.  So, we needs us some replacements.  We need healers, of any class, that are good, competent, strong, and secure in the knowledge that the big cow in the plate is the one that should really be getting most of the heals. Really.

I know nothing about healing other than needing a lot of it, so as far as I know, here are the prerequisites for the job:

- You need some spellpower. I think somewhere between “a lot” and “a metric shitload” (which is, as you know, 0.6 of an Imperial shitload) is sufficient.
– The more flashy procs, effects and symbols that happen when you cast, the better. If you can singlehandedly cause an epileptic seizure by casting a Flash Heal, that’s bonus points.
– Disc priests are wonderful, but Regatta may challenge you to a trial by combat, or a bake-off, her choice.  Watch out for the pig, he’ll cheat. 
– Bonus points also if you’ve got a DPS spec and would be willing to pew-pew or bonk-bonk on some occasions. Flexibility is always good. And remember, Smite is a valid spell.
– The ability to psychically interpret what Ghaar says during healing assignments and understand that when he says “whelps,” he means “you’re healing the raid.”
– A love for burop soup, burop fish, burop chowder, burop strudel, and burop fish chowder strudel a la mode.
– The ability to keep both tanks alive while simultaneously cranking out bad puns.  Also, a deep and heartfelt desire to teabag Varian Wrynn is a huge plus, especially if you want to rip his own testicles off and use them to do it. 

If you would like to join our merry band of maniacs as we prepare to turn Yogg-Saron into so much gelatinous loot pinata and impress the hell outta the ladies in the crowd at the Argent Tournament of What the Fuck Are We Doing Here Instead of Kicking Arthas’ Ass, please head over to the Thundering Hammer Clan forums to get in touch with one of our highly-trained raid occifers for an interview, drug screening, psychological profile, and prostate exam. Bribes happily accepted.  Operators are standing by, call now! 

Mmmmbuhbye!


So You Want to Be A Prot Warrior: Endgame Gearing, Part I

You’ve arrived.  You’re level 80.  No more level grinding for you, no sir!  Now it’s time to go forth and tackle the real game of World of Warcraft!  TO HEROICS!  TO RAIDS!  LET’S DOOOO IIIIIITT!  (Done in my best TF2 Demoman voice.)

Not so fast, Spanky.  Uncle Panzercow is here to give you a little 411 on the reality of being a prot warrior starting at the endgame.

It’s a sad fact of life, really, but a fact nevertheless.  You, as a prot warrior tank, have extra steps to take before you’re ready to sally forth and start acquiring tasty, tasty epix.  See, because of the bog-standard “1/1/3″ method of instance grouping (one tank, one healer, three DPS), Joe Scrubdeeps can finish opening his package from Rhonin and promptly walk into a heroic dungeon…and if the other four members of the party can write their own name and all five of them aren’t the product of a brother-sister marriage, generally, he can survive.  It’s possible to carry one weak DPS through a heroic…hell, even two, if your third DPS is really tricked out and your tank and healer are either very good or very overgeared, or both.  It’s also difficult, but possible, to work with an undergeared healer in a heroic–again, everybody else has to be on their game, the composition has to lend itself toward crowd control, and the healer has to be very good at what they do, just lacking high-level items.

You can’t do that with a tank.  If you walk into a heroic–or God forbid, a raid–wearing a mish-mash of level 77 greens and a couple of quest-reward blues, rocking 500 Defense and 19k health, and try to tank it, you’re going to die.  The DPS can’t just turn it up to 11 to compensate for you, because then they’ll yoink agro off you and they’ll die.  There’s no way around it.  The one member of the group that absolutely, positively, has to be geared up somewhat before they can enter a heroic is you, the tank.

Fortunately, things aren’t quite like they were in Burning Crusade, where if you were a warrior, it felt like you needed to be wearing Tier 5 epix from SSC/TK before you could even think about tanking a five-man heroic.  If you’re smart about your gearing and willing to be patient, you can be quite ready to run a heroic without setting foot in one–and you don’t need a raid willing to carry you through Ulduar and give you a full rack of T8 to do it, no matter what that idiot death nugget told you in your last PUG.

So what I’m going to do here is tell you what stats to prioritize.  I am not going to give you a hyper-detailed gear list.  There are a lot of them out there that are much better than anything I could come up with.  A number of the excellent tank websites like Veneretio’s Tanking Tips, or Elitist Jerks, or Tankspot, or even the Blizzard warrior or tanking forums, have great and specific lists of gear that you can look for.  I’ll mention a few pieces, but not many.

The two most important things to worry about first off, in my opinion, are Defense and Stamina.  Stamina is a no-brainer, of course–more health is always good.  But especially in the beginning of your heroic career, you simply cannot brute-force stack enough stamina to handle a heroic without also loading up on Defense.  The reason is critical hits.  Defense reduces your chance to get critted.  Pushing critical hits off the table smooths out the damage that you take and makes it easier on your healer(s).  Damage doesn’t necessarily kill you, but damage spikes will.  And a crit is the ultimate damage spike.

You have a base 5% chance to be critted by a mob of the same level at level 80, plus 0.2% for each mob level over 80.  So since heroic bosses are level 82, you need to reduce their crit chance by 5.4%; skull-level raid bosses are always considered your level +3 (level 83), so you need 5.6% crit reduction.  In order to completely remove your chance to be critted, you need 535 Defense skill for heroics, and 540 Defense skill for raids. 

I italicized “skill” because the pieces of gear you get will have Defense rating on them, and as you should know by now, rating != skill.  At level 80, to reach the “floor” of 540 Defense skill (often erroneously called a “cap”), you need a base Defense skill of 400 augmented by 689 Defense rating from your gear.  It sounds like a daunting number, but actually, stacking 689 Defense rating isn’t that hard.  Defense stacking should be your number-one priority when getting ready to tank a heroic, and Stamina stacking should be number two.

Fortunately, you can load both stats off the same pieces of gear.  Blacksmiths can make some really good “starter” gear for the budding heroic tank–for example, Daunting Handguards and the Tempered Saronite set (especially the Tempered Saronite Helm) are easy to make, relatively cheap, and provide the basics of Strength, Stamina, and Defense while filling in gaps in your current set.  If you have built up a significant amount of money–enough to afford things like Titansteel Bars and Frozen Orbs from the AH–then you can go for the high-end blacksmithing gear and be really good to go–the Tempered Titansteel Helm and Treads, and the Titansteel Shield Wall.  Expect to pay several thousand gold to get all three of those crafted, though, unless you have friends and/or a guild to help out.

If your healer’s willing to risk it, of course there’s nothing stopping you from tanking a heroic with less than 535 Defense skill.  Each point of Defense below 535 means there’s a 0.04% chance of you eating a crit, every hit.  Hey, if you want to swim with great white sharks wearing nothing but a chum bikini, go for it.  Me, I’d take the safe route and load up my Defense first.

Now, on to Stamina.  Once you get your Defense up to scratch, start adding in +Stamina pieces as you can.  You might be wondering, “how much is ‘enough?'”  When I first started tanking heroics on Linedan several months ago, he had between 22,000 and 23,000 unbuffed health.  Compared to the 33k+ he’s got nowadays that doesn’t seem like much, but add on a PW: Fortitude or Blessing of Kings and Commanding Shout and you’re looking at between 26,000 and 28,000.  That should be more than enough to handle some of the “starter” heroics like Utgarde Keep, assuming your healer is reasonably competent and your DPS pumps out enough pain to kill stuff before your healer runs out of mana.

This same refrain–Defense and Stamina–holds true for enchanting and gemming…up to a point.  I’ll talk more about enchants in the second part of this post, for now, I’ll just say this about gems.  Do not gem for Defense or any other rating-based skill (parry, dodge, hit, crit, expertise, etc.) unless you absolutely have to.  Why?  Those slots can be better used giving you more Stamina or Strength, depending on what type of set you’re building.  (More on that in the next part, too.)  If you’re turning up a few points short of 535 or 540, then go ahead and slap in something like a Thick Autumn’s Glow.  But remember, you’re only going to get about 3 points of Defense skill per blue-quality yellow “pure” +Defense gem, and slots are precious on “starter” heroic/raid gear.

In Part II of my extremely long-winded treatise on endgame gearing, I’ll talk about why you, as a level 80 tank, need not only one set of good gear, but two–a set for big bosses and a set for small trash.  I’ll talk about avoidance versus health, enchanting, and after all that, I’ll throw in how version 3.2 throws the old gearing paradigm out the window because of the easier availability of badges and Tier 8-level gear.


Revenge of the fuzzy kitten

Yes, Gentle Readers, someday I will get back to solid, practical posting on warriors and whatnot.  But after being repeatedly kicked in the mental nuts by Real Life over the past couple weeks, today is not that day.  Instead, have a funny story from The Anvil’s Ulduar-25 last night.

I was the main tank.  So you could say I was a bit of a stress puppy, because that’s how I am (as I tell my wife, it’s part of my endearing charm, dammit).  We’d gotten through Flame Leviathan, XT, Auriaya, Hodir, and Thorim, and with a few minutes left before stop time, we went back to clean up Ignis.

So there I was, tanking Ignis around in a little triangle, leaving scorch spots on the ground for the construct tanks.  We were just tra-la-la-ing along, and then…I died.

Me dying on some content is not unusual, but on Ignis?  That wasn’t supposed to happen.

See, I have this pocket disc priest, Regatta, who is so good she smells like awesome wrapped in bacon.  Seriously.  When Reggie’s around, I don’t worry about my health, at all.  I’ll get a heal or a bubble exactly when and where I need it; if the situation is salvageable, she’ll salvage it.  She is a wicked good tank healer, and she was assigned to me for Ignis.  And yet there I was in the Sprawl of Shame(tm), in the middle of a Scorch patch.

So the rest of the raid cleaned up Ignis and then Reggie started apologizing profusely on Vent…something to the effect of, “Lin, I’m so sorry, my kitten just killed you.”

*blink*  “Uh…what?”

See, Reggie has a new kitten.  Her (yes, her) name is Radical Edward.  Radical Edward, being a kitten, gets into everything.  So it turns out that mid-Ignis-fight, Radical Edward climbed a nearby lamp and started playing with the lampshade.  Reggie tried to remove her from the lampshade.  Radical Edward, taking offense, proceeded to jump on Reggie’s head, knock her glasses off her face, and start dancing.

While she was healing me, she suddenly had a kitten doing a Mexican hat dance, with claws, on her exposed head, dangerously close to her eyes.  There was shrieking and flailing and flying kitten.  And when she could look back down, there was dead Panzercow.

I still love me some Regatta, and I still love me some fuzzy kitten.  But I am going to suggest that maybe she needs to wear safety goggles and a hard hat for the raid tonight…


Ulduar at 40% scale

So after a few days off to recharge the ol’ WoW batteries, I found myself in an interesting spot last night.  See, there’s this 10-man Ulduar raid, called “No Bads,” that is made up mostly of folks that run with The Anvil’s 25-man Ulduar.  I’ve run with No Bads once in the past as desperation oh-crap-we-need-a-warm-body-let’s-grab-Lin-nobody-else-is-on DPS, but earlier in the week, Haicu, the raidleader and DK offtank, approached me and asked me to offtank their Wednesday night run for the next two weeks while he’s out traveling on business.  Of course, to help friends out, I said yes.  (Oh, gee, tanking Ulduar, twist my arm.)

This left the raid in an interesting position, because it gave them what is no doubt a rarity nowadays:  a 10-man raid with two warrior tanks.  And, it was the first time I had tanked Ulduar in a 10-man as opposed to a 25.

Haicu has built his tank build specifically for AOE tanking as a death nugget, and he’s pretty scary good at it.  I like to joke that he’s a seven-foot-tall troll Roach Motel for trash, because mobs get stuck to him and they just do not frigging come off.  Now, this isn’t necessarily a rant about how a DK with good gear can tank their ass off while still doing well north of 2k dps, and then flop specs and do well north of double that on a boss fight where they aren’t tanking.  (That’s a rant for another time, trust me.)  But it did leave me wondering if I could fill his slot effectively.  I have no doubt of my ability to tank anything in the front three-quarters of Ulduar on Linedan; over half his gear now is Ulduar 25-man stuff or equivalent, and I’m a competent enough player to take advantage of it.  But let’s face it, we warriors can’t approach a paladin or death nugget at the fine art of AOE tanking.  With Haicu in the raid, the DPS could go ape with their Blizzards and Hurricanes and Volleys right off the bat on a pull and never be in any danger.  Not so with your friendly Panzercow.

Well, I’m pleased to say that overall, it went very well.  Flame Leviathan +2 towers, XT on hard mode, Kologarn, Auriaya, Hodir, Thorim, Freya, and Iron Council, all fairly clean, in less than three hours.  Yes, the DPS had to modify things a bit, and we were actually helped by the fact that we were a little short on AOE DPS (only one mage, no hunter).  We only had a few agro problems, mainly on Conservatory trash (stupid little flowers) and Hodir trash (stupid little worms).  I think I only got a few people killed, which is a distinct improvement over what I was fearing going in.

The interesting thing to me is how different the difficulty feels on some of the fights.  Auriaya felt like an absolute pushover on 10 compared to 25; still long and arduous and frenetic, and I still hate the Feral Defender, but we were never in serious danger.  Thorim, our current 25-man cockblock, was no sweat; the four of us assigned to the hallway gauntlet ripped it apart like nothing and the folks out in the arena had no worries.  (And now I know what not to do as I run to pick up Thorim and pull him down on the 25 this week…or as our poor priest yelled into Vent right as I got paralyzed, “NOT THE MIDDLE, LIN!  NOT THE MIDDLE!”)  The stuff in the hallway has something like one-fifth the health on 10s that it does on 25s so it just dissolves.

On the other hand, Freya felt harder on 10 than 25, probably due to having one fewer tank for the triple-spawn adds, or maybe it was just me having trouble with the big tree add.  (Hint:  If the tank doesn’t have the big tree under control under a mushroom, DON’T ATTACK IT.  And if you do, don’t run AWAY.)  Kologarn felt harder but that may have been because I was tanking rubble, which is a notable fear of mine after I repeatedly cocked it up in the 25 a couple months ago.  Then again, on 10-man, Kologarn never manages to put two stacks of his crushing debuff on the tank, so there’s no real need for tank-switching.  Iron Council has the same two tanks/three mobs dynamic that makes things a bit more interesting (for one of the tanks, anyway) but it’s really no harder.

Now maybe some of the stuff last night felt easier because most of us are already geared in ilevel 226+ stuff, and not rocking our Naxx gear anymore.  Maybe.  But it was surprising to me that something like Auriaya, which is still a knife-edge dance with disaster for us in 25s, felt more like Anub’rekhan in the 10.

No loot for the Panzercow, but bah, who cares.  I had fun.  I learned some useful stuff for this week’s 25-man.  And I got to work on my multiple-target agro, which I haven’t had to do in a while because we had such good AOE tanking with Haicu, there was no point.  It’s easy to get sloppy with a good backstop like that, so it’s good to occasionally remember that yes, multi-target tanking as a warrior takes work.

Oh, and Fusion Punch still hurts like a bastard, I don’t care how big or small your raid is.


Latisha: putting the “tank” in “tankini”

latishatankini

"Take the damned picture already so I can put some clothes back on!"

Because protecting the femoral arteries is totally not important at all, right Blizz?

(BTW, the items in question?  Mail Combat Armor and Mail Combat Leggings, which obviously should be named Male Combat Armor and Male Combat Leggings.)

I’ll have a real update on the Latisha Experiment coming soon.


Visual aid

Go here, and let Ambrosyne tell you how to tank as a warrior.  Complete with handy flowchart!


Meet my personal night elf druid

What?  You were expecting an in-game screenshot?  Please.

(Yes, it’s blurry.  Cellphone cameras FTL.)


Why my daughter will probably end up on a PvP server

This morning I got to sleep in a bit and wound up chilling out in bed while my three-year-old daughter (aka Nublet) “read” me a story from an illustrated book of cat poems.  (And by “read,” I mean she looks at the pictures and makes up her own words.  Thanks to a healthy dose of Dr. Seuss at bedtime, the girl actually has a frighteningly good sense of meter and rhyme.  She is a nascent bookworm and geek, and me and my wife are thusly Very Proud Parents.)

She got to a poem with a drawing of two cats at a cat show, one smugly wearing a blue ribbon and the other sulking.  She stared for a second, and then said:

“I’m a winner.  You’re a wooser.  A big, biiiig wooser.”  *pause*  “My skin is furry.”

Whaddaya think, gang?  3v3 arena material when she gets a little older?


The best raid analysis tool ever

There are a lot of really excellent raid analysis tools out there these days.  There’s WoW Web Stats, the original; there’s WoW Meter Online; and there’s the new kid on the block, World of Logs.  They’re all very helpful at parsing combat logs and pointing out areas where there could be problems.  I use WWS all the time, along with my personal Recount, to see how I did on a raid and improve my personal performance, and our officers use them to post-mortem (often literally) our attempts and see what happened.

But I’m pleased to announce that Feathermoon’s own Father Bregdark has come up with a tool that will make all of those log parsers obsolete.  And you don’t even need to send it a combat log!  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it uses state-of-the-art technomancy to be 100% accurate as to why you just wiped.

Just mash here and this tool will tell you exactly why you wiped.  Do it.  No, really.  DO EET NAO.

(EDIT:  Be sure to hit refresh on the Wipe Analyzer once or twice (or more).  It helps with the accuracy.)


The joy of searches

It’s a fairly common meme in the WoW blogosphere.  Every so often, it’s fun to go through and see what the most popular search terms are that bring people to your blog.  I don’t know about how it works with you folks hosted on other services, but here on WordPress, we’ve got stats we can access that tell us what our most popular search terms are, every day.  So here’s a smattering:

“breakfast club” and variations thereof:  Ever since I did this post on Malygos and threw in some gratuitious references to the 1980s movie The Breakfast Club, this has been far and away my #1 search term.  I guess a lot of folks are maybe looking for some Molly Ringwald/Ally Sheedy pr0n, but wind up on a website with pictures of a male Tauren.  Sorry.

“panzercow” or “achtung panzercow”: Well, durr.

“80 tauren warrior,” “level 80 tauren warrior,” etc.: Again, durr.  I also get a fair number of searches for “hunter” variations since I occasionally mention my two huntards.

“about moose physical characteristics”: Hmm.  Well, my RL nickname is “Moose,” and my other (rarely-updated) blog is called Moose Droppings.

“honey rider”: Ah, this one comes from my gratuitious Illithanis bikini pic in her character introduction.

“castration big boar youtube”: Uhhhh…DO.  NOT.  WANT.

“honest to the point of recklessness”: Well, I do try.

And probably the worst one of all, which turned up twice today:

“black mageweave thong”

On a Tauren warrior?  OH GOD.  MY EYES, THEY BURN.


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