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Archive for July, 2009

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.


I’ve been writing Achtung Panzercow for about seven months now.  I started it just for fun, and honestly, that’s why I still do it.  I’ve done paid freelance writing in the past, years ago, in the flight simulation area; I wrote some stuff for Happy Puppy’s website in its infancy, and for an aborted start-up online flight sim magazine back around 2000.  But this, nah, no pay here.  This is just a labor of love, just me writing for the heck of it and hoping that I get an occasional ego massage or head pat, that people find my spewings entertaining, educational, or both.  I talk about prot warrior things, I talk about my raid, I post silly cheesecake pictures of my female alts, I just let fly with whatever enters my head.  It’s not always easy for me to grind out content; as you may have noticed, things have been a bit thinner of late because real life is curbstomping me pretty hard right now.  But I do try.

I don’t know whether I’m doing it “right” or not, but looking at the built-in stats on WordPress tell me that something seems to be happening.  I’ve had about 21,000 pageviews since last December, and tend to average around 200 a day.  That’s small potatoes when you compare it to the real heavy hitters of the WoW blog world, but that’s not the circle I’m trying to run in.  I’ll probably never be a Big Red Kitty or a Matticus, and that’s fine with me.

Still…I can’t be the only blogger who looks at his hit counter and wonders if people are actually reading the blog.  Commenters are a very small percentage of readers, that’s a given.  I see hits flow in constantly on things like So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior and occasionally ponder if people actually read and use what I’ve written.  Is Achtung Panzercow just a random link somebody clicks on page 4 of a Google search for “hot Tauren action,” or did somebody actually find what they were looking for here, whatever that may be?

Hit counters and stats pages tell you numbers, but they don’t tell you the stories behind the numbers, as it were.  There’s ways I could jack up my pageviews, I’m quite sure…hell, I don’t know, maybe stick meta tags for “naked lesbian draenei” all over the place, that should do it.  But what’s the point, if the people just look at the page for two seconds, say “oh, a game blog, that’s not what I wanted, and where’s the naked lesbian draenei anyway?”, and then hit “back”?

Sometimes, even with the reinforcement of “hey, you get 300 pageviews on a good day!”, it can feel like shouting into the void.  Is anybody reading?  Does anybody care?  Why am I putting forth all this effort on my (or my employer’s) time if it’s just flying off into the depths of the intertubes?

And then you get an email in your inbox that answers all those questions and more.  This showed up in my gmail a couple days ago, and it’s reprinted here with permission:

Hopefully the title didnt make you think that this mail was spam *smiles*. I just wanted to drop you a quic [sic] line and say thank you for writing your blob [sic], im sure you get messages like this all the time (silly fan boys). The reason for my thanks is because i started one of these myself a long time ago, and it got very neglected. Then one evening while randomly searching the interwebs I came across yours. Its made me go back to mine and actually give it some love that was long overdue.

Thanks again and I love your style of writing, never change.
If you ever get the the time its

Ujarak Ragetotem.

Holy.  Shit.  (That is, by the way, the first “fan” letter I’ve ever gotten.)

I sat and read that email over a couple of times and it kind of stunned me.  Somebody does read this thing, and not only that, it’s inspired them to pick up their own blog and get it going again.  Wow.  And he’s doing a very good job at it, may I add–go check it out and give him some love.

I’ve also gotten a couple of comments on SYWTBAPW, about how people have actually followed it and are having fun leveling up their Prot warriors and learning to tank, and that floors me too.  In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a little passionate about Linedan and warriors and tanking.  I’ve played a warrior in WoW more than all other classes combined.  I’ve played a Prot warrior in vanilla, in BC, and in Lich King, and I absolutely adore playing Linedan nowadays, even with all the problems that Prot warriors still have.  I like seeing people become interested in playing the class and spec, and more importantly, learning to play it well.  It’s not a faceroll-easy class to learn, and I’m very happy that people are finding my guides useful (and that I’m not totally full of shit on some of the things I suggest!).

So if you have blogs or authors that you find inspiring, that make you think or laugh or even get you mad, tell them.  Knowing that what we’re doing is actually reaching and connecting with readers gives us the inspiration to keep going and produce more and better content.  And when that happens, everybody wins.

A Latisha update (for reals this time)


I should have worn the red shirt, shouldn't I? Damn.

Now that I’ve gotten my silly cheesecake post for her out of the way…if you remember, Latisha Morganson is my little experiment to test how well my own So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior guides work.  I am leveling her according to the guides, straight up from 1 to 80 (or until I lose interest, whichever comes first).  When last we saw her, Latisha was level 22 and splitting her time in between Menethil and Lakeshire.

Now, a few weeks later, with 2 days and 12 hours played, Latisha has just hit level 39 and is, for now, going to be based out of Theramore while I rapid-fire the various Dustwallow/Mudsprocket quests to try and push to 40.  She is, as per the SYWTBAPW guide, 0/0/30, and now stands 62,000 or so xp away from the big Four-Zero, the ability to wear skimpy plate bikinis as opposed to chainmail halter tops (sigh, Blizz, just sigh), and most importantly, the Holy and Inviolate Shield Slam.

I’ll admit, I borrowed my wife and her level 80 shaman to blast me through Scarlet Monastery and pick up a few things.  Those are Scarlet Gauntlets and Scarlet Leggings she’s wearing, along with Herod’s Raging Berserker’s Helm, and her weapon is the SM quest reward sword, the very nice Sword of Serenity.  (No, she can’t kick ass like River Tam when she wields it.)  The rest of her stuff is a mixture of 30ish greens, either AH purchases or quest reward items like her Crest of Darkshire shield.  I haven’t been able to keep her quite as upgraded as I’d like, mainly because of the utterly ridiculous prices that mail and plate warrior items command on the Feathermoon AH.  Seriously, guys, WTF.  30 gold for a level 30 green set of boots?  Two hundred and sixty gold for a level 40 plate breastplate “of the Bear?”  Do people actually pay those stupid prices?  Well, maybe they do, but I don’t.  I’ll muddle along without, and so far, so good.

Nothing that’s happened to her so far has really caused me to change my original premises in SYWTBAPW.  Yes, you can level with a full Prot spec and have fun doing it.  No, you won’t kill as fast as a DPS warrior or any other class except maybe a prot paladin or holy priest.  Yes, you can survive stuff that would kill those other, higher-deeps classes.  But actually going through the steps myself has shown me a few things that may be helpful for anyone else wishing to walk the first portion of the Way of the Meatshield…

– Your #1 problem, if you choose to level via the sword-and-board route, is going to be rage generation.  I can’t understate how horrible your rage gen is in the 20s and 30s when using a single one-handed weapon.  You must learn to be extremely judicious with your special attacks because you won’t have the rage to spam anything.  Going in Battle Stance and using a two-hander–pretending you’re an Arms warrior–gives you much better rage generation and higher DPS, but you trade it off against taking more damage and needing more downtime.  The choice is yours.  Personally I have done most of my work with Latisha using 1H+shield, and just accepted the lousy rage generation.

– One rage strategy that’s easy to learn is this:  Switch to Battle Stance when targeting a mob, get in Charge range, hit Charge, and as you start moving, hit Defensive Stance.  If you time it right, you’ll shift into Defensive Stance before your first weapon hit lands, preserving that rage.  Even if you mistime it, you’ve closed the distance to the mob, stunned it momentarily, and bought yourself 10 rage.

– Rend is more useful than I gave it credit for being.  I still have it on her bar, although it may go away when she hits 40 and gets Shield Slam.  Most of your fights will last long enough for it to tick its full duration and it’s a good bunch of extra damage for the rage cost.

– Shield Block is so your friend at these levels.  Basically, with any sort of reasonable gear, hitting Shield Block will give you 10 seconds of effective frontal invulnerability against all but the strongest melee mobs.  In addition, it guarantees at least two, usually three Revenge chances in a 10-15 second span, and until you get Shield Slam, Revenge is your big whammy.  By level 30 you’ll have it talented down to 40 seconds cooldown; since you kill slowly, you’ll have it ready almost every fight.  This is an absolute lifesaver when you’re pulling an entire camp.  Shield Block early and there’s a good chance, with all those Revenges, that you’ll have one mob dead or seriously injured quickly.  Plus, again, since you do not kill quickly, you’ll probably have Shield Block back up later in the fight when you need the damage mitigation.

– I went with the Improved Disarm version of the Prot build, taking two points out of Toughness and moving them over to Improved Disarm.  This gives a 40-second cooldown on Disarm and causes the mob to take 10% more damage while disarmed.  I don’t remember to use it that often during normal grinding, but against things that are 3 levels over me, or the occasional elite, it’s very handy.  I’ll probably swap the points back sometime in her 40s.

– Get used to missing.  It’s hard for me going from an Ulduar-geared prot warrior who’s very close to both the hit and expertise caps, down to a mildly-geared alt with no +hit and only the human racial +expertise with her sword.  She whiffs and clanks her swings.  A LOT.

– Shield Bash isn’t just your primary caster interrupt.  It’s also your best way to handle runners.  Go upside their head when they’re at about 20-25% health, since you can’t Hamstring in Defensive Stance.  And if Shield Bash is on cooldown, there’s always Concussion Blow.  CB hits hard enough that it’ll probably kill a runner instead of just stopping him.

Glyph of Revenge is awesome for leveling.  With your rage so hard to come by, a free Heroic Strike after each successful Revenge is too good to pass up.

– Don’t be afraid to pull more than you think you can handle.  More than likely, you’ll surprise yourself with how capable this class/spec combination is.  Just scout out a good spot to pull the mobs to to minimize or eliminate getting any adds, and also a spot you can safely rez if you do indeed bite off more than you can chew.  If you’re lucky enough to have a healer friend?  Pair up with them and you can work on your tanking skills while tearing a path of total destruction across the landscape…albeit slowly.

– One day, I’ll figure out why Blizzard had such a boner for putting +spirit on low-level warrior gear.  Spirit.  On warrior mail.  And it’s everywhere.   So not only is she running around in some bizarre scalemail version of bondage gear, it’s poorly itemized too?

Latisha: putting the “tank” in “tankini”


"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!

We interrupt our irregularly unscheduled programming…

…for an advertisement.

You’ve read here on Achtung Panzercow about my adventures with my Hordeside raid, The Anvil.  The Anvil is a long-standing multi-guild Horde raid on the Feathermoon (US) role-playing server…and if you’re a responsible, knowledgeable player who wants to kick some ass but only has a few hours a week to do it, we want YOU! 

Currently we are 8/14 Ulduar 25-man, working on Thorim and Mimiron.  The Anvil raids twice a week, from 9:00 pm to 12 midnight Eastern on Thursday, and from 9:30 pm to 12:30 am Eastern on Friday.  (Feathermoon is a Pacific timezone server, so server time is EDT-3 hours, or GMT-7 hours.)  Whispers for invites start one hour prior to pull time, with invites going out about 25 minutes ahead.

We use a Suicide Kings system for loot.  The raid keeps two lists, one for tier tokens and one for everything else.  When a piece of loot drops, people who are interested whisper the loot officer; whoever’s highest on the list gets the loot and then they drop to the bottom of the list and everybody else who’s there that night moves up one.  That’s it.  It’s a very simple system and works well for us, with basically no drama.

Now, there’s a few things you should know about The Anvil and Feathermoon:

– Feathermoon is a roleplaying server.  While The Anvil is not an “RP raid” per se and raid chat is out of character, most of the raiders are roleplayers of one sort or another.  RP in /say is encouraged.  RP griefers are not welcome, period, full stop. 

– You do not have to join a guild to be part of The Anvil.  We have officers and members from several different guilds.

– We are flexible in terms of attendance.  “Real life > raid life” has always been a motto of ours.  However, obviously, if you’re a prospect, we’ll need you to be there more regularly so you can be evaluated.

– Just because we only raid two nights a week in our main 25-man doesn’t mean the fun stops there.  We have a community chat channel and Ventrilo that are home to a larger extended “family” where you can find 10-mans (including one that has downed Yoggy and one that is close), heroic runs, “retro raids,” and PvP…including the occasional legendary city raid.

– Also, just because we are on an RP server and only raid for six hours a week doesn’t mean we’re soft.  You will be expected to demonstrate a knowledge of your class and proper gearing for Ulduar-25 level content (through Armory, etc.).  You’ll have to show appropriate ability in DPS or healing or tanking or whatever and will be expected to read up on fights ahead of time and know your role in them.  And you’ll be expected to come prepared with proper gems, enchants, consumables, etc., though the raid is more than willing to help out where we can.

– Raid chat and Vent can get decidedly R-rated at times.  Yes, we get raunchy.  We’ve raised the “your mom” joke to an art form.  If you can’t handle that, then we may not be the raid for you.  (Because of this, we generally only accept applicants 18 and over.)

– Finally, the most important things we look for are maturity and friendship.  It’s a lot easier to take a decent person and gear them up and teach them how to play their class than it is to take a great player who’s a douchemuffin and un-douche them.  Save the drama for yo’ mama because we don’t want it.

Now, what are we looking for?  Primarily ranged DPS.  Elemental shamans, mages, warlocks, hunters, and thunderchickens are our biggest need right now.  That’s not to say that melee DPS, healers, or tanks won’t get looked at, but our biggest holes to fill are ranged DPS first, and melee DPS (rogues, enhancement shamans, and DPS warriors primarily–we’re full up on DKs) second.  The summer raiding boss is wiping us hard about now, and we’ve had a few recent departures that have stretched us even further.

No, we’re not a cutting-edge raid.  8/13 Ulduar with our only hard mode being FL +1 is not earthshatteringly awesome.  But for a six-hour-a-week raid, we do pretty damn well.  When we bring it, we bring it hard (that’s what your mom said!) and we bring it right.  We have a lot of fun doing it, too, and really, we’re a lot more than just a two-night 25-man raid.  We’re a big extended group of friends who do lots of other things together as well.

If this sounds like it might interest you, check out this post on our forums by our raidleader Malkavet.  It talks more about the raid’s Core Values and how you can get in touch with an officer to talk about joining The Anvil.  If you’re already on Feathermoon Hordeside, look for Malkavet, Dorritow, Fyriat, Davien, Nikkei, Ghaar, or Ambika.

My name is Linedan, and I came here to kick ass and punt gnomes.  And the last gnome just went over the cliff.

It takes a special kind of stupid…

…to play “let’s pretend I’m a terrorist” and announce, in WoW, that you’re going to hijack an airplane.

The 18-year-old from Johnson County, Indiana, said that he “was going to board a plane at 7:30 to Chicago and that (he) was going to try and kill as many Americans as possible,” reports Destructioid. Apparently, the moron in question repeated this claim more than once, which I imagine is similar to smashing your foot with a sledgehammer, then repeatedly doing it over and over again to see if it’ll still hurt.

Predictably, Blizzard employees saw the announcements and notified the proper authorities. The teen quickly backpedaled, claiming that someone had hacked his account, but that didn’t stop the FBI from seizing his computer to investigate the incident further.

The money quote from the article?  “Ten bucks says he was a blood elf death knight.”  Ouch.

Dramatis Personae: Moktor

Don't you wish your death knight was hot like me?

Don't you wish your death knight was hot like me?

Well, she’s my fourth level 80, and she’s been getting a big chunk of playtime lately, so it’s time to introduce the “lady” that’s displaced a few of my older alts…my death knight, Moktor.

  • Full name:  Moktor
  • Created:  November 2008
  • Level/race/class:  Level 80 orc death knight
  • Spec:  Blood (53/2/16)
  • Age:  21 (sort of)

If you follow the Blizzard explanation of death knights, they’re born of heroes of the Light that were turned to the Scourge by Arthas after they fell in battle.  Some people roleplay that their death knights actually volunteered (or were coerced) into taking the job.

Moktor is the proof that any rule has an exception.

Moktor, y’see, was nothing more than an Orgrimmar street thug.  Orphaned in the interment camps (I think I’ve got the timeline right on this), she lost her entire family and ended up falling through the cracks of the nascent post-demonic orcish society.  She ended up scraping out a bare existence in begging and theft, first in the camps and later on the streets in Orgrimmar, lean, hungry, and tough as raptor leather.

As she got older, she fell in with a troll rogue named Dabashi and his small pack of teenage urchins, where she began to learn the fundamentals of roguing…to a point.  She never was good at the subtle part of things.  Strong, wiry, and always willing to commit violence, she was the headsmasher of her crew, and when Dabashi fell under a Grunt’s axe, she became its leader as well at the tender age of 15.

To avoid Dabashi’s fate, a few years later she “went legit” and fell in with the Black Hand, and headed out into the world.  She’d just begun to eke out a living as a free agent when…Scourge Happened. To be precise, Arthas’ latest plague that his human agents unleashed on the settlements of Azeroth and Outland.  Back in Orgrimmar, still hungry and broke after an ill-fated expedition into the Stonetalon Mountains, she slipped into the inn and stole some food, including some bread made with the plagued grain.  And thus, Moktor became one of Orgrimmar’s first zombies.

For 99% of the people turned by the plague, the story would end there.  But Moktor, through whatever happenstance, retained a modicum of her former intellect and skills.  She hid.  She struck in ambush and kept herself fed.  And she managed to “live” quite well.  In doing so, she attracted attention.  The Cult of the Damned had agents in major cities, and through magical means, they took notice of this particularly hardy and effective zombie surviving in the midst of the chaos.

So just before Putress’ cure was deployed world-wide, Cult of the Damned necromancers cornered and killed zombie-Moktor, removing her soul as they did so and taking it with them back to Acherus.  Her orcish body was destroyed, so they found another one–not exactly the same as her old one, this one was slightly taller, more muscular, not nearly as lean and half-starved.  Her soul and consciousness was implanted into the necromantically-animated body, and thus was born Moktor Mark II.  She was put through the battery of gruesome and near-fatal tests to become one of Arthas’ chosen, a death knight, and as she had always done, she survived through sheer toughness.

Physically, there is no possible way that you can’t tell Moktor is a death knight.  She’s fishbelly green-white all over, with lank, dirty, stringy shoulder-length purplish-black hair.  Her pale skin is stretched a little too tight across her cheekbones, her fangs are yellow and nasty, and her eyes glow with the blue light of the undead.  She has several large scars across her torso (the wounds that killed this body’s previous owner), all usually covered by clothing or armor.  Her voice is harsh and creaky and has that slightly off-putting timbre that many death knights have, and oddly enough, even though she’s speaking Orcish, she has distinct trollish overtones in her cadence and word choice–one of Dabashi’s legacies to her.

The original Moktor was my attempt at playing a rogue.  Despite the fact that I am, in general, a physical DPS-loving guy (as witnessed by my alt list), rogue is the one class I never have been able to “get.”  Moktor was no exception.  I had plans to take her combat maces as just a brutish, face-smashing thug with a little bit of stealth.  Instead, she never made it past level 26 and eventually got deleted several months before Lich King came out.

My first attempt at a DK was actually a gnome with his own backstory (a nerdy scientist of Gnomeregan who fell in with the Cult of the Damned, was found doing necromantic research, killed by the Alliance authorities, and raised by Arthas as a very reluctant nerdy death knight).  I just couldn’t make it work in my head, so the gnome got deleted…and then I remembered Moktor.  The class didn’t work for me, but I liked the character concept.  Plus, female orcs are very rare on Feathermoon, not to mention first-rate booty-shaking badass in combat (their fighting animations are among the best of any race IMO).  And then the whole story just clicked together–instead of a mighty and tragic fallen hero, here’s an amoral no-name thug from the streets…who’s just become an amoral, no-name, much more powerful thug.  It was perfect.  It took that whole “woe is me, what have I become” thing and stood it on its head.

See, Moktor is the least angsty death nugget you’ll ever find.  While fallen paladins and turned blood knights curse their condition and struggle to deal with who and what they are in a world that hates them…Moktor has never been happier, because everybody (she thinks) always hated her anyway, so why not turn it up to eleven?  She loves being a death knight now that she’s free from Arthas’ thrall.  People are scared of her?  Cool, maybe they’ll do what she tells them.  You want to pay her to kill things?  She grins and says, “where do I sign up?”  Forget hiding in corners cutting purses and scrounging for garbage…she’s running around in heavy armor, with a huge-ass mace, her own deathcharger, the power to command frost and disease and blood…what’s not to like?  If ever there was a character whose personal motto was truly oderint dum metuant–“let them hate, as long as they fear”–it’s Moktor.

So even though she’s a total screaming bitch with no morals, Moktor may well be my most “well-adjusted” character in some ways.  She’s comfortable in her own slightly-rotten skin.  She totally accepts who and what she is.

On the other hand, this makes her hard to roleplay, which stunts her development from “idea” to “character.”  I’m shy, and it’s hard enough for me to roleplay my basically-decent characters like Linedan and Illithanis.  Beltar has his moments where he crosses the line toward darkness, but in general, he’s still not a bad dude.  Moktor, on the other hand, doesn’t have many redeeming qualities besides being good at killing bad guys.  I find it very difficult to let go and play a character with a negative personality, someone who’s bossy or manipulative or worse, a loner who doesn’t feel herself bound by any law or moral code at all–not even loyalty or friendship.  So because of this, I haven’t taken many chances to roleplay my little fresh level 80 thug a whole lot, and so her concept is not yet fully fleshed out.

Hopefully I can loosen myself up and work on RPing her a bit, because I think it would be an interesting experience.

Monday randoms

Hi folks.  I hope everybody had a good Fourth of July (or Canada Day, or just a normal) weekend.  Welcome back to your workweek!  (No, I’m not actually this chipper.  In fact, I’m dragging like crazy.  But I read somewhere that more people read your blog if you’re happy and upbeat, so I’m faking it.  Ssshhh.  Don’t tell anyone.)

A few random notes from the weekend…

– After 8 months or so of Wrath of the Lich King, Linedan finally has himself a title:  Linedan, the Argent Champion.  All it took for the final push was two deadside Stratholme clears, each one good for about 4000 rep with the Dawn once the 14-15 different Scourgestone turn-ins were done.  The Seal of the Dawn can finally get retired to the top shelf of Lin’s bank.  Now, 57 more quests in Kalimdor and around 260 more in Eastern Kingdoms, plus 20 or so (mostly group) quests in Icecrown, and he can get Loremaster.  I’m not pushing hard for that one, though, it’s more of a long-term I’ll-do-it-as-I-have-time thing.

– Moktor, my orc death knight, hit 80 on Sunday.  She is my fourth level 80, and I celebrated by taking her to a few heroics.  I think it’s an indication of just how crazy the death nugget class is in general that I can walk into heroic Gundrak, Drak’theron, and Stratholme in a mixture of mid-70s dungeon blues, quest reward greens/blues, and one kickass piece of gear (a Titansteel Destroyer Linedan made her)…with me having very little of a clue about how to work a rotation on multiple mobs…and still pulled 1500 dps for all three runs.  And I thought beastmastery hunter was faceroll easy.

– Friday night, I was just chillin’ like a villain on my dwarf Beltar when my guildleader Tarquin whispers me:  “So, I hear your raid fell through this week.”  (The Anvil had too many people out of town for the Fourth, so we took the week off and Linedan got a bit of a rest from offtanking.)  I answered “yep.”  So Tarq says, “want to come to Ulduar with us?”


Tarquin also runs Totally Raiding, Inc., a successful, in-character, roleplay 25-man multi-guild raid.  Want proof that you can mix roleplay and raiding?  Try a “RP raid” that’s 12/14 Ulduar, with only Yogg-Saron and Algalon to go.  And he was asking me–Beltar, in his oh-so-l33t Naxx-10 welfare epix–to head to a 25-man Ulduar not just to kill a few bosses, but to be there for TRI’s first serious pokes at The Yoggster.  I think my reply was something to the effect of “well, you know I’m undergeared liek woah, but if you’re crazy enough, HELL YEAH I’D LOVE TO GO.”

They were crazy enough, and I got to go.  So I got to see Vezax and Yoggy for the first time on my undergeared dwarf alt, not my raiding Tauren main.  Go figure.

Vezax is a fun fight to be a hunter on.  No mana regen?  No problem!  Just pop Aspect of the Viper.  OK, we’re only doing 60% damage, but that’s 60% more than the mages are doing while they’re standing around waiting for a Shadow Crash puddle to stand in.  Bang bang > pew pew, biatch.  The mechanics of the fight are interesting without being too nasty, but then again, I’d say that as a hunter because that’s a simple job–know when a Shadow Crash is incoming and get clear of it, know when to pop saronite bubbles, throw a Silencing Shot in on Vezax to help back up the interrupters on his wicked flame AOE, and otherwise, just lean on the trigger until one of you goes down.  I might have a different opinion of the fight once I see it on Linedan, either as tank or as offspec DPS.

And then, there’s the Yoggmeister.

That fight had to have been designed by a bunch of half-drunk Red-Bulled-up Blizzard developers who got together and decided, “OK, listen, we’ve got all these cool mechanics in Ulduar…let’s put all of them in one fight!  It’ll rock!”  And thus was created Yogg-Saron, god of death, insanity, and HOLYFUCKTENTACLES.

It looks so innocuous to start with.  There’s Sara the Vrykul, floating above the floor in Yoggy’s bachelor pad.  (Aside:  “Sara?”  “SARA?”  What the hell kind of Vrykul name is SARA?!?)  She is surrounded by orbiting clouds of pee, I guess because she’s been in there a really long time with no bathroom break.  Anyway, the pee clouds orbit like planets, in fixed orbits around her with a clear space in the middle where she is.  They cover maybe half the room or a little less.  It smells bad.

The trick is, if anybody touches a pee cloud, it summons a big Faceless Horror with 900k health, and he’s pretty pissed at having to clean up the Sara pee that you’ve gotten all over the floor because you bumped the cloud, you big oaf, so he starts beating people up and throwing 6k+ Shadow Bolt Volleys all over the room.  I think more of the things are summoned on a timer as well.  The only way to get to phase 2 of the fight is to kill the Faceless Horrors next to Sara 8 times; each one knocks 12.5% off her health, because they explode for a metric shitton of damage when they die, something like 20,000.

So the strategy TRI used was to have one of three tanks grab each add as they came out, and pull them to the pee-free spot near the door, where they would be beaten down to about 30%.  At that point, DPS switched to another target, and the tank would drag the wounded add–slaloming through the pee clouds so as not to summon more Faceless Janitors–over to Sarah.  There, a designated “center group” of 4 or 5 ranged DPS, including yours truly, would finish them off, all the time dodging both pee clouds and the lethal explosion when the add died.  It’s basically a “don’t stand in shit”–uh, “don’t stand in pee”–fight, except that the consequences for bad positioning are much worse than taking a little damage.  Too many adds will wipe the raid in very short order.

Assuming you blow 8 Faceless Janitors up next to her, phase 2 starts.  The pee clouds go away.  This is good.  The downside is that they’re replaced by tentacles.  LOTS of tentacles.  We’re talking a hentai fan’s wet dream here.  Yoggy pops up and starts taunting people while the tentacles go to work.  There are ones that grab people and crush them (think Kologarn’s right arm).  There are ones that cast nasty debuffs.  There are big ones with ridiculous health that crush people near them.  And they’re EVERYWHERE, man.

At some point during this madness, portals open into Yoggster’s brain.  People run into the portals and kill stuff and DPS his brain (the only way to damage him) and have to come out quickly or they’ll get mind-controlled, yadda yadda.  I didn’t get that far.  I was too busy shooting every tentacle I saw before it tried to do nasty, nasty things to me.

Our best attempt was 91% on phase 2.  Might not sound like much, but trust me, that was serious progress.  Phase 1 is much tougher than it sounds, because you need to put serious DPS on the adds but not too much or they’ll die away from Sara, which is wasted time.  Your tank and center DPS have to get the add on top of Sara and kill it, all the time dodging pee clouds, failure of which will wipe the raid under a swarm of Faceless Janitors.  (Although it’s fun to have a feral or rogue hit Dash/Sprint once you call a wipe and see how many he can spawn.  Our record was 27.)

So that was my weekend.  When I wasn’t WoWing, I was cleaning out a flooded dishwasher.  Judging by the smell, I think I’d rather have been dealing with more pee clouds.

Meet my personal night elf druid

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

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

So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior: Levels 71-80

OK, gang, this is it.  The last 10 levels.  You’ve hung with me this far, and I appreciate all the great feedback and comments that I’ve gotten over the last few months of writing the various chapters of SYWTBAPW.  (And it’s not over yet, more on that later.)  So let’s get down to it, and start grinding through Northrend to get you those last 10 levels and arrive at your ultimate destiny–the endgame.

When we left you back at level 70, your build looked like this:  5/5/51.  For this guide, we’re taking all 10 of your last talent points into the Arms tree to reach the “cookie-cutter” 15/5/51 build that’s the most popular prot warrior build right now, and for the foreseeable future.  As we go through the talents, I’ll explain why we’re going 15 deep into the Arms tree, which might seem surprising considering we’re, y’know, tanks.  There’s a reason behind it, don’t worry.

Levels 71-73:  3/3 Improved Heroic Strike.  One of the more messed-up mechanics of the warrior class (IMO) is that when tanking, in order to maximize your threat, you will be spamming Heroic Strike every time your rage permits it.  If you’re tanking heroics or raids, there’s a very good chance that your rage will always permit it, hence you’ll literally be smashing that button on every weapon swing.  With that in mind, having it take 3 points less rage can’t hurt, and it will let you spam it more in situations where you have decent, but not unlimited, rage.

Levels 74-75:  2/2 Improved Charge.  This is a tossup.  We’ve got to put these two points somewhere in the Arms tree in order to open up the third tier of talents.  You can make a case for putting them in Iron Will instead for the stun and charm resistance, especially if you PvP a bit on the side.  (Note that a dedicated Prot PvP spec is very different from what we’re working with here.)  I put them in Improved Charge because I rarely PvP on Linedan anyway, and the ability to generate 10 extra rage on a Charge, for a total of 25, gave me more options when initiating combat.  Improved Rend would be a waste; it doesn’t do a lot of damage with a one-hander anyhow.

Levels 76-77:  2/2 Impale.  Increases the critical strike damage bonus of all your “abilities”–i.e., yellow-damage attacks, really anything but a normal melee swing–by 20%, giving you +120% damage on crits instead of +100%.  You don’t have the high crit percentages of a DPS class as a prot warrior, but with several talents giving you +15% crit chance to some hard-hitting abilities (Shield Slam, Heroic Strike, Devastate, Thunder Clap, and Cleave), you’ll crit enough to where this talent adds noticeable damage output.  Plus, it’s required for…

Levels 78-80:  3/3 Deep Wounds.  I covered in a prior post several months ago why a prot warrior can get good use out of Deep Wounds.  The quick recap:  ANY crit will make your target bleed for 48% of your mainhand weapon’s damage over 6 seconds (3 ticks 2 seconds apart), and it “rolls,” basically stacking as the 6-second durations of several Deep Wounds applications overlap.  The numbers don’t seem huge at first.  Linedan, in largely Ulduar and Naxx-25 gear, puts about 280 to 290 extra damage on a target with a single Deep Wounds while raid-buffed, in three ticks of 95 or so points each.  But, remember, Deep Wounds activates off any crit, and warriors throw out a LOT of attacks…including the passive damage from Damage Shield.  So you will be able to keep Deep Wounds on your targets quite a bit, and over a fight, the high uptime means that the damage adds up to surprising numbers.  Looking back over the last four Ulduar raids I’ve had him on, Deep Wounds is between 6% and 10% of Linedan’s total damage output.  That’s a lot when you consider that he’s doing between 7 and 9 million damage output on a three-hour raid night.  And it’s all bonus.  More damage = more threat.  More threat = the other DPS being able to push hard without fear of me losing agro.  More DPS = stuff dies faster.  It’s win-win-win all the way around.

And hey, there’s three new spells you get to play with!

Level 71:  Shattering Throw.  You throw your weapon at the target, doing some damage, reducing their armor by 20% for 10 seconds, or removing any invulnerabilities.  Basically, it’s a ranged five-stack Devastate.  The trick is that it removes invulnerabilities–yes, folks, Shattering Throw will literally burst bubbles.  Or Ice Blocks.  It’s primarily a PvP move as far as I’ve seen, and I don’t think I’ve ever used it in anger, but I might going forward, because it hits harder than firing a gun or bow, and while I haven’t been able to confirm it, it may apply the silencing effect that Heroic Throw does due to the Gag Order talent.  I’ll have to check into that.

Level 75:  Enraged Regeneration.  Yes, you, a warrior, now have a self-heal.  You have to be Enraged to use it, but with 2/2 Improved Defensive Stance and decent defensive stats, you’re Enraged most of the time anyhow.  Hit this, and it burns the Enrage (and prevents reapplication of an Enrage for the duration), and heals you for 30% of your total health over 10 seconds.  Protip:  If you really want to get the most out of this, pop Last Stand and then pop Enraged Regeneration.  ER uses whatever your total health is at the moment you hit it, so it will calculate that 30% heal including the extra health from Last Stand, making it more like a net 40% heal.  Three-minute cooldown.

Level 80:  Heroic Throw.  This is Shattering Throw’s more useful cousin.  It does a reasonable amount of damage, silences the target for 3 seconds (if you have Gag Order), and generates significant bonus threat, which Shattering Throw doesn’t.  It’s an awesome pulling maneuver, and something I use frequently.  Bloodrage for initial rage, and Heroic Throw to pull, and pulling casters is now no big deal anymore.  It does, unfortunately, have a one-minute cooldown.

As for how you do your leveling from 70 to 80, it hasn’t really changed.  You are at the peak of your survivability.  You are one hard mofo to kill.  Grinding entire camps of Northrend mobs should be a non-issue, if you’re keeping your gear up to date.  You can easily hammer down some of the wussier elites solo.  But again, let me emphasize–the point of this spec is to tank.  You should be tanking instances every chance you get.  I’m a broken record, I know.  (Or a “skipping CD” to you younguns.)  But if you’re not going to tank, there’s very little reason to go prot and stay prot.  Keep tanking instances to keep your skills sharp–warrior tanking is a lot more than just hitting “969.”

Your tanking rotation does not change between level 70 and level 80.  You will have more pulling options with Shattering Throw first and Heroic Throw later, and Improved Heroic Strike makes your Heroic Strike spam easier, and you’ll have new ranks of your same old friends, but the foundational basics of how you gain and hold agro, and the priority of your attacks, haven’t changed.  What you’ll find in the Northrend dungeons is, mercifully, a move away from the godawful huge five- and six-mob mixed melee/caster groups in Outland instances like Shattered Halls and Shadow Labyrinth.  You’ll still have casters and melee mixed up, but rarely more than four at a time, which makes handling them much easier because you’ll need to stack less crowd control in your groups.  Maybe even none, once you get more confident.

Just because we’ve dinged 80 and gotten our special present from Rhonin in the mail, though, doesn’t mean the grind is over.  Ohhhhh no.  Far from it.  In the next installment of SYWTBAPW, our talk will move from talents and skills to gear and enchants and gems, as we talk about your progression toward being ready to tank Northrend heroics and raids.  In another installment down the line, we’ll talk about alternate warrior specs–why dual-spec is a fantastic thing for many tanks, whether you should use that second spec for DPS or not, and possible other tank specs besides 15/5/51.  We’ll also be looking at the differences between raid tanking and instance tanking, which are bigger than you’d think.