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.”
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…
She has lurked in her lair and done battle with the many brave adventurers who travelled to that familiar location over the years. Now, in honor of the World of Warcraft 5-year anniversary, the dreaded brood mother Onyxia is being revamped to make a return to the forefront of Azeroth, as part of our big plans for the upcoming 3.2.2 content patch.
This permanent update to Onyxia will convert the dungeon into 10- and 25-player modes. We will be adding new items to Onyxia’s loot table that have the same model as some of the classic loot from this dungeon, like Tier 2 helms, with stats updated to match the current level of content. There will be a special new item too: a normal drake-sized 310% speed flying mount modeled after Onyxia herself called an Onyxia Broodling. We will also be updating the encounter mechanics to be more fitting for modern raiding, but we can guarantee players will get to experience the frightening horror of deep breaths once again.
The first time I ever ran with an Onyxia raid, it was the scariest, most amazing experience I’d ever been a part of in World of Warcraft. It’s still right up there at the top over three years later. If you didn’t play back when Ony was end-game content, you missed something pretty special. The old girl was hard. I mean, wipe-all-night hard. But more than that, the feel of the fight was just incredibly epic. This humongous dragon flying around dropping firebombs everywhere, clouds of whelps eating everybody’s face, the third phase of the fight where she’s fear-bombing and the floor’s shaking and lava is spewing out of cracks and the sound is deafening…daaaamn. It was amazing.
You have no idea how happy I am Blizzard’s going to dust off Lady Prestor and make her back into the bitch she’s meant to be.
AFTER-THE-FACT EDIT: Thanks to Spinks for pointing out that I got my swamps mixed up. Too late to change the title now, so I’ll just have to save face by claiming I did it for the alliteration and hope that y’all buy my line of bullshit.
The Anvil has been working on Thorim 25-man, off and on, for something like eight weeks now. Now granted, in that eight weeks, we’ve been unable to even take a shot at him three times due to roster issues. But still, that’s five weeks of hearing “…in the moooounntaaaiiiinnsss…” several times a night, followed by the most painful wipes this side of a bad case of hemorrhoids. “Cockblock” may be a vulgar term, but in Thorim’s case, it was appropriate. Only Kael’thas in Tempest Keep ever held us up this long…we even got Vashj in less calendar time, although IMO, Vashj was a hell of a lot harder.
We went back in to Ulduar on Thursday night with a full raid (for once) and a determination that we were going to beat the Yoggy out of(tm) Thorim. Once again, I was your friendly neighborhood gauntlet tank, preparing to lead an eight-man group to deal with happy fun trash and big fire-spewing minibosses while the other 17 folks chilled out in Thorim’s Mosh Pit and rocked out to Slayer under a big pile of about five hundred squillion iron dwarves. With lightning. And mullets.
By the end of the evening I was pretty much ready to give up and go find another line of work. Something less stressful and more tolerant of failure, like, say, brain surgery or nuclear weapon handling. The arena group, originally our Achilles’ heel, was on a roll, keeping great control of the dwarves and holding up under the heavy punishment. No, Gentle Reader, our problems on Thursday night were primarily with the gauntlet group.
And that means, with me.
Holy Saurfang, was I a failtank Thursday night. I broke sheep. I lost agro on Iron Ring Guards and let them eat squishy fase. I didn’t grab stuff fast enough when it followed us down the tunnel from the arena (that’s a new post-3.2 “feature” of Thorim–healers can agro stuff in the stands above the hallway in certain spots, through the ceiling, and when it starts moving, it’ll jump down and run into the hallway and hit the group from behind). I got tripped up and dropped on my butt right in front of flame pulses. I would’ve probably run across the center of the circles getting to Thorim and gotten paralyzed…had we even gotten that far. I had the leader on the gauntlet side ready to kill me, I’m pretty sure.
And after all that, we still got him to phase 2 for the first time ever…and wiped when we hit the hard enrage with him at 3%. Had we still had a warlock and mage alive that got killed in the hallway–because I lost agro on a guard–we would’ve gotten him.
That dwelled in my headspace all day Friday. I couldn’t shake it off at work, or after I got home, or at prep time for the raid. And as we were waiting for invites, I finally managed to focus and convert the “you suck”–which is not an easy task for me because I always think I suck–into “this will not happen again tonight, dammit.” We had our strategy worked out–adding one more DPS, my wife Rashona, to the hallway group for a total of nine people–and this time, I was determined, if we failed, it was not going to be because of me.
We went in with 24 people, including several subs and first-timers, making jokes about “the Anvil man-down rule” that we usually do better with 24 than we do with 25. We blew through Ignis and Freya, and soon we stood before Thorim again. We charged in and massacred his little gladiatorial party. He launched into his “…in the moooounntaaaiiiinnsss…” bad voice-acting again, and off we went through the opening gate.
First group. Sheep left, let the hunter misdirect the acolyte toward me, don’t worry about him, grab the ring guard, tank him. DPS burns down the acolyte (he hits like he’s got pillows on his hands), then my guard. Bust the sheep, grab it, oh fuck get away from the fire. OK, it’s dead, lather rinse and repeat on the second group.
Boss tiems. Grab him, turn him, tank him, easymode. Oh snap, Runic Barrier, call across the room for Rashonakitty to get out. Sweet, he’s at 80k. “First boss going down” over Vent, and I’m already turning and opening the door to bitchslap a guard across the face with my shield before the big guy even eats floor. Two steps up, grab the second group, back up, Shockwave, booyah. Not tonight.
“Get the boss, Lin.” Right. Drag the two up the stairs while a hunter and my pocket priest go with me. Here comes the boss. Shield Block and settle in for the tank, tab target, spread the love, oh fuck a guard is getting loose, Challenging Shout, GET BACK HERE BITCH. Thunder Clap, Shockwave, DPS is burning down the guards first, not exactly the way you’re “supposed” to do it but it makes things easier on the healers, and besides, they’re shredding like paper. Quick glance at Grid, nobody’s dead, way to kick ass arena group.
Second boss keels over…holy crap, we’re gonna hit phase 2 on our first attempt. Run to Thorim, the shouts of “NOT THE MIDDLE, LIN!” still echoing in my head from two weeks ago. One of the hunters agros him as they jump down, I pat him on the back as I go too. He lands. PHASE 2, BABY!
Settle in again. Watch DBM for Unbalancing Strike messages and the telltale “doooong,” hit Taunt when it comes up. Sometimes I get him, sometimes one of the other tanks do, no worries. People on Vent yelling about the adds, “no, we killed them all.” Constant calls of “lines!”, “move move move!”, “taunt!” Eighty percent. Sixty percent. Forty percent.
I try and do the math in my head of the delta on his health versus the enrage timer, and the equation’s coming out in our favor…barely. Thirty percent. “Ten stacks.” He’s hitting hard as hell now, 14k or more. Get on those taunts, dude, remember, if we fail tonight, it won’t be because of me. Twenty percent. A couple of people are dead, our DPS slows.
Dooong. Taunt. “Twelve stacks.” Fifteen percent. Reach for Shield Wall on general principle–I’m not really even at low health but it’ll help stretch the healers’ mana–and FUCK I’M DEAD WHAT KILLED ME. I’m face-down in the Sprawl of Shame and he’s still at twelve percent. Two tanks left…”Gore, Kel, it’s on you guys, go go go.” Ten percent. Eight. Five. “Fourteen stacks!”, a note of panic creeping in. Less than one minute to enrage.
Three. Our other offtank drops dead. Two. Shit, our MT just died, no, dammit, no no no! One…
“Stay your arms! I yield!”
I slump back in my chair, put my face in my hands, and realize that they’re shaking. I don’t cry tears of joy and relief…but it’s a close thing.
Epilogue: We got Mimiron to 22% in phase 3 the very first time we saw him. I’m not getting cocky yet, as phase 4 of that fight is supposed to be total chaos, but I think we’re in pretty good shape on him. Make out your will, you shrimpy little twerp, you’re next.
…you’re Arms DPS on Hodir, you get a Storm Cloud buff, you reach for Bladestorm that you’ve bound to Shift-6…
…and you hit Mocking Blow that you’ve bound to Shift-5.
Just like you did last week.
…and I’m an addon addict.
It’s pretty amazing, really, that Blizzard made the WoW interface so extensible. I remember in the old days of the original Everquest, where the UI was the UI and that was that, period, end of sentence, and attempts to alter it one tiny bit would get you banhammered with lightning speed. (And what a godawful UI it was, at least before changes in one of the early expansions.) But not so with WoW. Here, you can download literally thousands of different addons to tweak your experience in Azeroth exactly the way you like it. Don’t like how–or where–your character’s health is displayed? No sweat, take your pick of unitframes. Don’t like that big clunky bottom actionbar with the dargons on the end? Here, have umptysquillion different bar mods.
But there’s a dangerous, inconvenient downside to this endless tweakability. Without fail, come time for a patch, especially a big “point-zero” content patch like the one that dropped yesterday…your shit is gonna break sooooo hard.
It started off small, as most addictions do. In the beginning, there was Cosmos. But Cosmos kept trashing my chat channels, and eventually, I found the nice, all-in-one CTMod, pieces of which I still run 3+ years later. Then I decided I wanted a better set of action bars, so I tried a few different bar mods before settling on Trinity. Then I discovered the sheer Heaven-sent high of XPerl Unit Frames. After that, it wasn’t long before I was waking up in dark alleys after a bender of chugging BigWigs modules and mainlining Titan Bar plugins.
One of these days I’ll do a detailed “here’s my UI, you can stop laughing now dammit” post. But here’s just a partial list of what I ran during 3.1.x, unlinked because I just can’t be arsed to link everything…
- Unitframes: XPerl
- Bar mod: Bartender4
- Timers/buff mods: ElkBuffBars, DoTimer, Quartz, OmniCC, NeedToKnow
- Gear: ItemRack, Rating Buster
- Raid and combat mods: Grid, oRA2, Deadly Boss Mods, Scrolling Combat Text, Omen, Recount
- RP: FlagRSP2
- Appearance mods: Tekticles, TipTop, FuBar plus a lot of Fu stuff
You get the idea. Now I know there’s some duplication there; I don’t really need four timer mods, probably. I only use NeedToKnow for timers when I’m in Arms spec and need to keep Rend up on my target–and honestly, I may switch to Power Auras for that anyway, given the good stuff I’ve heard about that addon. (See? It just gets worse!) But after all that tweaking and downloading, I had a fully-custom UI that was set up just the way I wanted it, with everything arranged just so…more or less.
The problem is, of course, the administrative nightmare of keeping all that drek current. It’s hard. Half my addons were out of date before 3.2 even dropped. I’m slack about updating stuff like DBM that changes frequently, unless it’s obviously broken. Now throw in a large content patch that will cause half or more of those addons to break, sometimes spectacularly, and you see why I completely write off doing any playing on the day and night of a patch release. (Well, that and lately, Feathermoon and the Cyclone battlegroup in general have been down longer and more often than any other set of servers when Patch Day comes.)
So there I was this morning, in front of the computer at oh-dark-what-the-fuck, starting to pull down addons to get ready to raid with No Bads tonight, assuming they get some new hamsters to power the server. I got a few unpleasant shocks, as usual, worst of which was that XPerl, my beloved, awesome unitframe, wasn’t yet updated for 3.2. This is Not Good, friends. My UI, like a lot of others I’ve seen, has all the frames down near the bottom, where I can see them without having to flick my eyes to the top of the screen. (The layout is largely inspired by Anna’s UI, though it’s not nearly as cleanly laid-out.) Moving those frames back to the top left with the Blizzard default frames…uh-uh, kids. It would not be a good thing with me trying to tank Ulduar.
So, somewhat frantic, I grabbed the Pitbull unitframe package…and then spent 45 sleepy, sunrisey minutes beating the damn thing into submission with all sorts of virtual sledgehammers until I got it looking the way I wanted it. I still miss my XPerl, but this’ll do for now, and who knows, it might grow on me. That’s how I’ve tried many other addons…a patch breaks one and it’s not updated on release day, so I grab something else just to try and wind up sticking with it.
(I note that even as I write this on Wednesday afternoon, XPerl has been updated to version 3.0.4a, which is patch 3.2 compatible. I think I’ll probably try Pitbull tonight, and then if I don’t like it, back to XPerl I go.)
I know some people who have broken their addiction to addons and have gone back to a more vanilla interface. Blizzard is actually making it easier to do so, really, as they seem to be very attentive to the better user-written addons out there and incorporate their functionality into newer versions of the game (without breaking the ability to use the user-written versions, which is a damn nice touch). Me, I’m too weak. I can’t do it. I’m too used to the crutch of having Omen dancing in one corner of my screen while my target frame sits near the bottom with pretty cast bars in between, and having six or seven nicely lined-up small 12-button bars bottom center. To me, the default UI looks like a hideously inefficient use of space.
But take heart, default UI-users. There’s always my wife. She has seven level 80s, that’s three more than I do. She raids with me on her feral druid Rashona and is consistent top-two DPS in 10-man and top-four in 25-man, cranking out 4500+ dps with ease. And she does it with a UI that’s 100% bone-stock except for FlagRSP2 and Deadly Boss Mods.
Oh yeah…and she clicks half her abilities, too. How’s that taste?