Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dragons.

The first time my guild showed up on the radar of Warcraft Realms was July 27, 2006. Five years ago, today. I was not a member of the guild at the time. In fact, I was not a member of any guild at the time. I had only been playing WoW for a little over 4 months at that point, very on-and-off. I didn't find the Dragons until 2 years later and joined when the guild I was in at the time, Calentrai, was merged in.

I've tried for a couple hours to think about what, exactly, to write in this space. I kept referring back to a post on our guild forums by Dinaer that he made just prior to Cata and has maintained since, basically recounting our guild's history. I've finally realized that he summed it up better than I ever could, so I'm just going to repost it here, nearly word-for-word. Hopefully he doesn't mind.

The Beginning

The Dragons is one of the oldest continuously active guilds on the Sen’jin server. It was founded in July of 2006. There are still a couple of players in the guild from that far back.

Back then the guild was mostly a social/leveling guild. Most players were not at the level cap. There were two players who had raiding experience and they led us on some fun adventures. Many of our current officers joined back in late 2006. They had a very fun group that got along well.

The Dragons did our first guild raid (UBRS) in late 2006, but we did very little actual raiding as a guild. At some point we finally decided that we should try real raiding. We got all of our interested members attuned to Molten Core and arranged to join a 40 man raid along with some friends in another guild. Then, just days before we were ready to go, Blizzard announced the release date for the Burning Crusade expansion. With that information out, interest in raiding plummeted, and we never got to go into Molten Core.

Burning Crusade

The Burning Crusade expansion was released in January 2007. It took a while to level through it. We weren’t really focused on raiding. Our experienced raiders were gone. At the level cap we ran a lot of heroics but didn’t raid.

Sometime around June of 2007, the GM called a guild meeting in ventrilo. He told us that he had arranged a guild merger (without informing anyone else) into a large guild. The reason for the merge was to give us all opportunities to raid. This announcement was not met with the reaction he had hoped for. The majority of our members really liked the friends-and-family feel of The Dragons. No one wanted to go be little fish in a huge pond. In the end, the GM and a few of his friends left to go to the other guild while the rest of us stayed in The Dragons.

A few days later we had another guild meeting in vent to decide the future of the guild. We needed a new leader. Dinaer was about to nominate Hamacus for that position, but Ham was faster on the push-to-talk button than Din was and he suggested Din for the job. The guild agreed and Din was promoted to GM of The Dragons.

We decided that the best way to cement this decision was to start raiding on our own. Within days of the new leadership we set up a Karazhan raid. This had problems from the start, due to our lack of experience organizing raids. There were more people who wanted to raid than there were raid spots, and the selection process was handled poorly. Feathers were ruffled, and as a result a group of players left shortly thereafter to form their own guild (our first drama!).

We still had enough to field a raid team, so we pushed into Karazhan in the days to follow. Raiding was much harder back then. It took weeks of wipes before we even killed the first boss in Kara. We didn’t kill the second until October 2007 – three months after we started raiding there. Progress was slow, but steady and the learning process was fun. We had a fine raid leader who taught us much about raiding. By the end of 2007 we had defeated most of the Kara bosses. Along the way we added many excellent players that helped drive our success.

And then in February 2008 things just fell apart. We had a lot of strong personalities on the guild, and eventually there were disagreements and conflict. Our raid leader and his wife did a server transfer to get away from the negativity. When we had trouble fielding raids, others left for larger guilds. By March 2008 we had as few as 3-5 people logging in each night. We considered disbanding the guild, but chose to continue out of respect for the longevity of The Dragons name.

We knew that to continue we had to find a way to raid. Around March of 2008 someone stumbled across a forum post by a guild called Calentrai that was looking for a guild alliance for raiding. Din spoke to their guild leader and soon we were running Karazhan raids with them. Those raids went pretty well. Between the two guilds we fielded two full Kara teams most weeks, and we got along well.

Now that we were raiding again The Dragons started to thrive once more. Several members who had left during the down times would come back to us during this period, including the original GM. Between the two guilds, we had enough people to move into 25-man raiding. (For those who are new, in BC you did not have the option to choose 10 or 25 man raids. Karazhan was only 10 man and the later raids were only 25 man)

In April of 2008 we started in Gruul's Lair, and had that raid cleared by May. By June, The Dragons had enough people to run our own guild-only Karazhan raids and still have enough people left unsaved to do our joint Dragons-Calentrai runs. The guild alliance was moving right along, downing Magtheridon and moving into Serpentshrine Caverns.

However, Calentrai started to have its own internal problems. When the guild alliance started in March, the raids were 70% Calentrai and 30% Dragons. By August 2008 they were 70% Dragons and 30% Calentrai. After a lot of discussion, in September 2008 we decided to merge the two guilds. (San's note: By this time the co-GM's of Calentrai were taking a break from the game to work on personal issues. Norf had been promoted to active-GM and I was also given officer status to help try to keep it together until they came back. They never really did.) This turned out to be the most important decision in the history of the guild. About half of the current guild leadership came over in that merge.

There was a short golden age of Dragons raiding then. Blizzard nerfed a lot of the raids in advance of the Wrath expansion, so we blazed our way through most of Serpentshrine Caverns and Black Temple. We had a lot of fun in those last days of BC.

Wrath of the Lich King

As we went into the Wrath expansion we had a very solid core of players. The expansion was released in November 2008, and by December we had a group of players at the level cap so we started raiding Naxxramas. We had cleared it with a 10-man team by early January, only two months after its release.

At that point, we were hit with the type of drama that always plagues casual guilds. A group of our raiders wanted to push progression more aggressively. That didn’t fit in with our guild philosophy. When we didn’t go that route, a large group left to form their own raiding guild. We still had enough solid players to do 10-man raids, but our 25-man raiding was put off for quite a while.

Through the Wrath years the guild was pretty stable. Our officers have been around the since Wrath began. Din had been GM for four years, and I had been leading raids since the guild merger. We went through cycles where sometimes we had enough people to do 25-man raids, and sometimes we didn’t. In a guild with no attendance rules and no gear requirements, those sorts of ups-and-downs were bound to happen. Through it all we maintained our friends-and-family approach and always put fun as a first priority. We were joined by the members of more guilds during toward the end of the Wrath cycle - Guild Drama and Freedom Knights, bringing more good people into the fold. We did manage to defeat the Lich King and complete the raid content before the end of the expansion.


This expansion presented us with a challenge. Raiding was harder, and raid lockouts changed. No longer could we try to balance 10 and 25 man raids. We decided to go strictly with 10-man raids. We also imposed some gear requirements for the first time in our history. It was an adjustment, but one that helped in the long run. We have tried to balance two 10-man raid teams through this expansion. Its been tough, and one team has had more has had success than the other.

Despite the changes and the slow loss of players due to burnout, the guild has reached all-time new heights during the first six months of Cataclysm. We were the 13th Sen'jin guild to reach Level 25. We have stayed in the top 10 on the server in guild achievement points.

Most notably, we cleared all available raid content before any content nerfs or new gear was released. This is the first time in the history of the guild that we have accomplished that feat.

I can honestly say that I'm very fortunate to have fallen into this guild. The people are great, the atmosphere is always comfortable, and it's just an all-around great way to play. I don't think I could play WoW in any other guild for long without just calling it quits. (Except maybe the Effers. They seem alright.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

LF2M Heals, then G2G

As I alluded to a couple days ago, I'm looking for a couple more healers to round out my current raiding group. Right now we only have two regulars, one of whom would like to spend more time on the DPS side. Our third slot tends to get filled in by whoever is online and available.

Anyone interested will be seriously considered, though non-Druids will have preference. We have one Tree already (our lead) and are actively gearing another. I'd like representation from the other healing classes to keep a balance.

The Raid Team:
  • We run Thursday and Monday nights, from 8pm to 11pm server (Central) time.
  • We're a solid group that can play well, but is not hardcore progression. We don't have dead weight, but we won't be showing up on World of Logs rankings, either.
  • We started really raiding as a team in mid-April and finished T11 the night before patch 4.2 dropped and nerfed it. So far in the Firelands we've downed Shannox once and got Beth'tilac down to 9%.
  • My unofficial mantra for our raids is "fun, but focused." There's room to joke and laugh while we run. Mistakes are taken in stride. We /roll for blame. I don't think I've ever really had to rant or yell. If I do have to call someone out specifically (rare), I do it in whispers. I'm not out to embarrass anyone or make them feel bad. That's not fun for me or the other person. That said, we do want to progress. We know our classes and we play hard. When it's time to get down to the srs bsns of killing internet dragons, we treat it as such.
  • With the exception of Healers, we have more people at each position than we have slots. I hope to get there with the Healers, as well. What this means is that we rotate. Every so often you'll be asked to be on Standby for a lockout.
  • We use /roll for our loot distribution. Main specs get priority. It's inelegant, but we're a mature enough group that it's been drama-free since we started running together.
The Guild:
  • The Dragons is one of the oldest active guilds on the Sen'jin server. Less than a week away from our 5 year anniversary. About half our officers have been in their position for four of those years. The other half, for three. Point being, we're very stable. This isn't a guild that's going to blow up and disband any time soon.
  • We're also one of the largest guilds on the Sen'jin server. We have over 500 characters in the guild, representing probably somewhere around 100 players. Some, obviously, more active than others. Still, it's not uncommon to log in on any given evening and see 15-25 people playing.
  • The guild is mostly made up of working adults. Many with families. We understand life comes before WoW and we don't begrudge people who have their priorities aligned accordingly. We value maturity, stability, and friendliness.
  • Guild rules are pretty simple. Respect others. Don't swear in Vent, /g, /r, /p, /bg, or /s. Don't be a troll in General, Trade, or LFG. Stick to these even if they're not filled with fellow guildies. There's a few others, but people that can follow the ones above generally don't have a problem with any of the rest, either.
  • Level 25, all 8 bank tabs, most Vendor rewards unlocked. Guild Repairs.
What you need:
  • Thursday and Monday nights available.
  • Ventrilo (Mic optional. We'd love to hear your voice, but as long as you can hear us, that's enough.)
  • DBM or similar addon.
  • A minimum equipped 353 average iLvl on your healing set. We don't mind helping you get a few extra pieces to finish it off, but at this point we're not looking to spend a lot of time gearing you up, either.
  • T11 experience a plus. Minimum 4/12 prior to the 4.2 nerf good. 9/12, very good. More, even better.
  • A smile. Seriously. No frumpy raiders. No angry raiders. I'm as close to either as we're allowed and I fill the quota for both.
If you're interested or know someone who is, you can contact me at

Also feel free to check out our website.

You can also whisper me in game if I'm online. My character list is at the top of the blog on the right.

If you want to bring a lowbie into the guild to see what we're like before coming in, whisper any officer. There's almost always one available.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Bear's guide to the Firelands: Beth'tilac

Beth'tilac is what happens when you try to kill a spider with fire and it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Instead of no spider, you now have a giant fire spider. Toasty.

Beth'tilac's encounter is a two phase fight requiring two tanks for each phase. In the first phase the tanks are performing very distinct duties. In the second, there's taunt swapping.

Phase 1: Beth'tilac Tank
When you pull Beth, she immediately retreats up to the web above her lair. A moment later she will start raining down fire on the whole raid. This is unavoidable and she will continue to do this at any point during Phase 1 where she is not aggroed on a player on top of the web.

After a few moments, a pair of Spinnerweb Spinner adds (medium-sized yellow spiders) will drop down from the web, hanging off web strands a little bit off the ground, and start shooting fireballs at random raid members on a pretty short interval. There are two ways to get these spiders on the ground. First, ranged can kill them. This takes some time, though, and you need to get on top of the web fast to stop Beth's fire rain. The other way to get them down is to use any taunt or taunt-like ability. For us Bears, this means Growl.

Communicate with your other tank prior to the pull on who is going to get which Spinner. (i.e. "I'll taunt the one that's on the right.") Their positioning is somewhat random, so things like "right" can be arbitrary, but it usually works out. You want those first two on the ground as quickly as possible so that the tank and a healer can get up to Beth and get her attention.

When the Spinners are brought down--regardless of the method used--the web strand they were attached to is left on the ground for a short period of time. This is what you use to get up onto the web with Beth. Mousing over it gives you the typical green-arrow vehicle cursor.

The first strand should always be used by the Beth tank. The second should be used by a healer.

It's generally a good idea to use Barkskin as you're being carried up to the web. It may be a few seconds before your healer can join you and you'll want to mitigate some of the damage you take before they get there.

As soon as you're on top of the web, target Beth and get her attention. Your initial pull will have generated no threat, but the healer coming up after you will have some from throwing heals. You obviously want to make sure Beth doesn't start hitting them. Growl and F3 for sure. Once you have her attention, try to tank her near the large hole in the center of her web. Just be careful not to fall through it.

Tanking Beth isn't that tough. You don't have much to do. Optimize your rotation for damage. The more you do while up there, the easier Phase 2 will be on your raid later. Depending on your raid's composition and ability, you may have a DPS helping out. This is ideal, but not always possible. Add control on the floor is important. It's also harder on the Beth healer when more people are up on the web.

Beth hits fairly hard and will also be casting a fiery AoE blast pretty regularly. Paladin and Shaman healers work well on top of the web for their access to elemental resistances. If you're having survival issues, you may want to consider moving some talent points around to spec into Perseverance.

The one avoidable thing you have to watch out for is Meteor Burn. Watch under your paws and get ready to move if a lava puddle appears. You'll have a few seconds to react before a meteor lands on the web in that spot and burns a hole through it. (It looks less like a hole and more like a small, fiery eruption, but believe me, you can fall through it. And that's bad.) There will be around four of these active at any given time after they accumulate, so watch your positioning. If you do have a melee DPS with you, try to keep Beth positioned to where they don't have to worry about them, either.

The final thing you need to do is watch Beth's energy/mana bar. It slowly drains over time. When it reaches 0, she'll cast Smoldering Devastation, which will kill you. When the cast starts you need to drop back down to the ground level. If you go through the big hole in the center of the web, a few web strands will catch you and slow your descent. Otherwise you'll take some fall damage. If you absolutely have to fall through some hole other than the center one for some reason, shift to cat form on the way down to reduce the fall damage you'll take. It's almost negated by this.

Once you're on the ground, you have a few seconds before a new set of Spinners appear and you're able to get back up on the web. Toss F3 on any Drones your other tank might be holding to help get them down faster. If there's a nearby pack of Spiderlings, feel free to Swipe and Thrash a couple times to help burn them down.

As soon as you see Spinners hanging off the web, taunt one down (the one furthest from the other tank, if possible) and get back up there.

You're going to repeat this process three times. After the third Devastation, Beth drops down to the ground for Phase 2.

If there are any Spiderling packs active during the transition, go Cat and help burn them down as quickly as possible. Just make sure to go Bear again in time to pick up Beth when she hits the ground.

Phase 1: Add Tank
The second tank needed in Phase 1 is an add control tank. Bears are very, very good at this job, thanks to the ease of our mobile AoE tanking.

When the phase starts, get ready to Growl at one of the Spinners that drops off the web so that the Beth tank and healer can get up top ASAP. But don't get cozy. After those first two, there will be six more. They need to be brought down quickly, or their fireballs will overwhelm your healers. They do much less damage on the ground than they do hanging from the web.

Taunt as frequently as possible to get them down. Enlist the help of any Paladins, DKs, Ferals, and Hunters (Distracting Shot works, too) in the raid. Get ready to grab the Spinners off of them when they come running to you. They don't hit all that hard, so group tanking them usually isn't that big of a deal.

In addition to the Spinners, you'll also be tanking Cinderweb Drones during this phase. They are fairly large, red spider-taurs that emerge from caves around the edges of Beth's lair. The important thing to remember when tanking them is that they have a long-range, frontal cone AoE that hits pretty hard. Make sure they're not facing the raid at any time. The first one will appear about 10 seconds after the first set of Spinners fall off the web.

The last thing you need to watch out for as the add tank is the Spiderling packs. Like the Drones, these spawn around the edges of the lair. Unlike Drones, you don't tank them. In fact, you need to stay very clear of them. Once spawned, the move relentlessly towards any active Drones. If a pack starts getting close before your DPS can burn them down, you need to move. Drones will consume nearby Spiderlings, healing 10% of their health in doing so. You don't want this happening.

Things can get pretty frantic on the ground will all the adds and all the movement and all the taunting. Keep cool, keep your eyes open, and you'll be fine.

Phase 2
Heading into Phase 2, if you don't have any adds currently on you, look for Spiderling packs and help burn them down. Like the Drones, Beth will consume nearby Spiderlings for a health boost. This can negate all the work that was done whittling down Beth's health on top of the web and you do not want that.

(Note: The range at which Beth will consume Spiderlings has been hotfixed and greatly reduced. It's now fairly easy to tank her well away from any packs while the DPS finishes burning them down. Still, your best bet is just to kill them outright before then.)

Once Beth hits the ground for Phase 2, she seems to aggro reset. So whichever tank is going to tank her first will need to taunt. Usually this is the Beth tank from Phase 1, but if all the adds on the ground are dead, it can be either tank.

From here on out, it's a straight DPS race. Beth will continue to cast Ember Flare, which will now hit the entire raid. Additionally, she will be in a stacking Frenzy state, which increases both her physical damage and the damage of the AoE blast. This is why you want her health as low as possible when the phase begins.

Beth will also be casting Widow's Kiss on her current target. This is where the tank swapping mechanic sets in. When one tank gets this cast on them, the other needs to taunt.

For this phase, your raid should be forming a triangle around Beth. Each tank should be at one point and the rest of your raid should be stacked up at the third to help with healing. Tanks need to make sure they're 10 yards apart from each other and the raid so that the pulsing damage they put out while under the effect of the debuff doesn't hit anyone else.

The deadliest part of this phase (for the tanks) is the swapping. Between the damage of Beth's physical hits, plus the her fire blast, a tank can drop very quickly after a taunt if the healers aren't ready. If you have DBM, watch your timers and make sure to communicate with your healers when a swap is approaching. Saving Barkskin for just before taunting is also a good idea.

If you have Berserk available during this phase, you have a couple options. You can either wait until Beth is taunted off you, then do some Cat burst damage or you can use it in Bear form after gaining high stacks of Vengeance for some crazy Mangle damage. Otherwise, stay Bear when not holding Beth. Your damage output will be comparable, and it gives your healers more breathing room.

Try to save Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration for as late as possible.

Beth drops a few good things for Bears. The Cinderweb Leggings are a good holdover until you can your T12 legs along with the 2pc or 4pc bonus. The Widow's Kiss is a nice ring. You'll be reforging Haste to Dodge, but it's still good. Finally, there's the Spidersilk Spindle. The mastery is nice, even if the proc isn't that great. Most tanks will eat up that shield in one blow. It's mostly intended for non-tanks in AoE or random damage situations.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So hot

I haven't been WoWing much since my last post. The A/C in my house crapped out...just in time for the hottest temperatures of the summer so far to kick in. The room that Norf and I play in is the hottest in the house, due to a number of factors including the running electronics, being south-facing, being the smallest room in the house, and being in a weird place for overall airflow.

Needless to say, I've been avoiding being home as much as possible. And when I am home, the computer room is the one I least want to be spending my time in. Molten Front dailies and Shaman gearing be damned. (That said, there was something disturbingly authentic about sweating my ass off while raiding the Firelands on Monday night.)

I'm working on a Beth'tilac writeup for Bears, which I should have done for tomorrow. We haven't killed her yet, but we're close. (9% was our best attempt.) I've tanked both on the ground and on the web for Phase 1, so I've got a pretty good grip on what needs to be done.

I'm also working on a call for Healers. My raid group could really use a couple more. There will be more details on that coming, but if you're looking to join a group of level-headed adults and can raid Thursday/Monday nights, keep an eye out here in the next few days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Bear's Guide to the Firelands: Shannox

Shannox is the first boss a lot of guilds will be tackling in the Firelands. When you first enter the raid, he's not around. You have to start killing trash to get him to eventually spawn. A lot of trash. Which is good. Because unlike any boss that's come into the game since Molten Core, Shannox doesn't have a little area of the raid to call his home. Instead he pats around the road that circles the big, open area in the center of raid. And if you want to deal with him without worrying about trash, you have to clear a good-sized area in which to fight him.

Once Shannox does spawn (you'll hear a third "horn" sounding and a /yell emote), he moves very fast. Make sure you're not anywhere near the road unless you're ready to pull. He can come down on you in a hurry if you're not careful.

This is a two-tank fight. One tank will be on Shannox. The other will be holding one of Shannox's Hellhounds, Riplimb. Shannox's other Hellhound, Rageface, is not tanked.

Both tanks
Shannox, in a what can only amount to a giant EFF-YOO to every Hunter in the game, spawns more traps than the Noblegarden bunnies spawn offspring. And they persist until triggered.

He has two types of trap.

The first is an Immolation trap. It doesn't look much different than the standard Hunter Immolation trap. Just bigger. It has an orange dancing flame above it. Walking over one of these does big fire damage and applies a hefty DoT.

The second trap is a Crystal Prison Trap. Basically an Ice trap. When triggered, it locks the target in a Ruby-colored crystal block that must be DPS'd down to be broken. It's not trivial, either. It will require several seconds of focused DPS by your raid (not just one or two people) to break. This trap has a deep red, elongated octahedron floating above it.

Both tanks should avoid stepping in either trap. The longer the fight goes, the more difficult this becomes. Occasionally it can be necessary to kite your target to an area of the raid that's nearly empty of traps to give you more room to work with. Communicate before you do this, as it will force almost everyone to reposition.

It's also worth noting that both of Shannox's Hellhounds can trigger the traps. This is important later.

Both tanks will also be receiving stacks of Jagged Tear from their respective targets. The key to this fight is getting those stacks to drop. More on how to do that below, but I'm going to note here that one of the key factors in making this happen is tanking Shannox and Riplimb well away from each other. 60+ yards away. 80 is better.

Just don't go too far. There's some point (we don't know exactly where it is...100 yard range, maybe) where Separation Anxiety kicks in. This is bad, mmmkay?

Finally, none of the enemies in this fight are tauntable. That becomes most important late in the fight, but just keep in mind that if you lose control of your target, you have to actually hit it to get it back.

Riplimb Tank
Other than avoiding the traps Shannox is laying everywhere, the Riplimb tank has two specific things to deal with.

The first is Limb Rip, which is the attack that stacks Jagged Tear on the the Riplimb tank. There's nothing you can do about it. Just be aware that it's happening.

The other is Hurl Spear. Shannox will frequently toss his spear towards Riplimb. You can tell where it's going to land because of a bright red column of light that appears. You've seen this before on Mimiron (his missile attack) and on the adds prior to Om(nomnom)notron with their Laser Strike. When this appears, you need to move. The further away (without inducing Separation Anxiety), the better.

Prior to this point, it's a good idea to keep Riplimb clear of traps, as well. When he hits a trap he becomes immune from other traps for a short time. In an ideal situation you'll be looking for a nearby Crystal Prison Trap and kiting Riplimb over it (without going over it yourself) when Shannox starts to toss the spear.

Once the spear lands, it will crate a large fire spiral around the impact point. Find a gap between the flames before they erupt.

At that point, Riplimb will stop attacking you. He runs to the spear, picks it up, and runs it back to Shannox, and finally runs back to you to keep attacking. This is where you drop your stacks of Jagged Tear and it's the reason you want to trap him in a Crystal Prison. It gives you a lot more time for the stacks to drop. Depending on the exact timing of the debuff application and the spear toss, you could need up to 20 seconds. That doesn't sound like long, but in practice it feels like forever and can be very tricky.

Whether or not you manage to trap Riplimb, do what you can to slow his movement once he picks up the spear. Bears are probably the least capable tank for this. During this part of the fight, Riplimb gains a buff that prevents him from being slowed below 50%. He definitely can't be rooted. I also believe he's immune to stuns.

For Bears, this means the only thing we can do is our very best to apply Infected Wounds before just letting him go. You don't want to chase him to keep it up, as the run-back time after he gives Shannox the spear is also important to dropping your Jagged Tear stacks.

This cycle continues until Riplimb dies.

Your DPS should down Riplimb before Shannox gets to 30% health to prevent him from going into a Frenzy.

Shannox Tank
The Shannox tank's job doesn't differ too much from that of the Riplimb tank. You're still avoiding traps. You're still watching Jagged Tear stacks.

One of the key differences is that Shannox has a frontal cleave with a 10-yard range. So make sure to keep him facing away from you raid. This is also the attack that causes stacks of Jagged Tear.

When Shannox hurls his spear he loses the ability to cleave and, by proxy, to stack Jagged Tear. This is where the Shannox tank tries to drop his stacks. Much of this depends on how well the Riplimb tank does their job. If they sufficiently slow/trap Riplimb, you're in the clear. If not, you may have to do some kiting to increase the time it takes for Rimlimb to give Shannox back his spear. If you find yourself in this situation, Stampeding Roar can help a lot.

At the start Shannox doesn't hit too terribly hard. But each time one of his Hellhounds dies he will gain a Frenzy stack, increasing his physical damage and attack speed by 30% each. Make liberal use of Barkskin and Survival Instincts throughout the fight to help your healers.

After Riplimb dies, Shannox will begin to drive his spear into the ground in front of him, instead of tossing it. Functionally, this has the same mechanics as when he tosses it, minus the massive damage at the impact point.

Since he's no longer tossing his spear, and since he can't be taunted, you can't drop your Jagged Tear stacks anymore. The fight is a race at this point. The DPS have to kill Shannox before he drops the tank and then makes quick work of the rest of the raid. (It goes without saying that if you can time entry into this phase to a point where you have 0 stacks, you should.)

The general idea is to have Shannox as close to 30% as possible before killing Riplimb. This leaves Shannox with the minimum amount of health you have to burn at the end of the fight while still preventing Riplimb from going into a Frenzy.

I like to save Frenzied Regeneration for this phase. I also do what I can to make sure I have Survival Instincts at some point during this phase. Obviously, still roll Barkskin every time it's available.

Once Shannox dies, you're hoping to see the Gloves of Dissolving Smoke drop. It's the only thing he has to reward you for your efforts.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A little secret

A lot of people are making a fuss about Valor Points right now. Is it too hard or too easy to hit the weekly cap? Are Heroics faster than raiding? What about the ceilings? What about people who don't have time? What if you're a responsible adult and you have to prioritize limited play? And what about your alts?

There's an easy answer to all this worrying about VP. Three simple words you can say to yourself to make it all go away.

You ready for these?

"It doesn't matter." (Other candidates include "Get over it," and "I don't care.")

Seriously. It's okay if you're not rocking your 4-piece T12 bonus yet. It'll be okay if you still have a few pieces of 359 gear at the opening of the next raid. I promise the Firelands bosses will still fall and all will be right in the world.

And if you're worried about not being the first person on your server to be the best geared, let me help you with that: It's too late. Someone already beat you. You can stop worrying now.

Since 4.2 dropped, I've accumulated a grand total of 140 VP. That's it. I haven't downed a raid boss yet (though we're close on Shannox) and I've run a grand total of two heroics. One was just because the group needed a tank and the other was because I was trying to get a Chaos Orb.

Here's the craziest part, though...I'm perfectly okay with this. My hair's not falling out, I'm not crying into my keyboard, and I've had no shakes or convulsions yet. Not even a burning desire to justify my behavior. And--despite this sacrilege--Blizz hasn't canceled my account. The game loader still lets me log in. All my characters are on my select screen, with their gear, and still sortable. The game even allows me into the Firelands when I step through the portal. As the RL, no less.

I know. Wild, right?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ambitious Alts

If you look over on the right there, you can tell I'm a little bit of an alt-aholic. Not as bad as some, but I have my share of issues. Most of it comes down to the fact that leveling offers a sustainable, solo-able goal. Short of times like now, where there's new content to work through and conquer, this is somewhat lacking. So I roll and go.

At the moment I have four 85s. Five, if you count Sanele, but she's on the back burner for now. She fulfilled her intended purpose. (Incidentally, as of last night we are a classy guild. No, Sanele was not the last missing link. She's been 85 for a couple weeks now.)

I do enjoy playing the other 85s that are not Saniel. I've been taking each of them through the rounds of daily content that the Molten Front has offered because it's finally given me a reason to spend time on them. Yes, it's somewhat repetitive doing the same set of daily quests 4 times every day. And when they all unlock the 3rd and 4th phases I may have to start picking and choosing who--other than Saniel--I work on each day.

But for now, it's still fun. I don't use them often, so the different mechanics keep it interesting. Feral, Enhancement, Beast Mastery, and Shadow all play very differently. Plus Daluaan and Siaaryn are still in more questing gear than not. So that offers even more challenge.

I've also been putting some effort into beefing up Daluaan's healing set as of late. It's what I created him for way back in BC. And, every now and again, he's still needed for that. (Mostly in dungeons.) He's woefully undergeared, though. So that's given me a good reason to put some time into him.

But at the end of the day, what I really love about WoW is raiding. It's where (in my mind) you really get to see what you can do with a given character. And it's only once in a blue moon that I don't add the most value to a group by bringing out San and going Bear. It's not that I mind tanking. I love it. And I'm happy to do it. But the opportunities to spend time on my other toons is too limited.

I've been toying with the notion of shopping Grevioux around my server a little. Of all my toons, he's the least helpful to my guild in any group situation. We don't have many Shadow Priests. We have fewer Enhancement Shaman. And there's always need for a healer. But we're overflowing with Hunters.

Add to that the fact that I've really come to love playing Beast Mastery. It's just fun. No two ways about it.

In an ideal situation, I could find a raid group somewhere on my server that needs the occasional rDPS to fill in. Between my responsibilities to my own guild, plus my out-of-game activities, I'm committed to stuff 4 or 5 nights a week (depending on the week). I don't really want to lock myself into another one every week.

But I would really like a chance to raid current content on a toon other than Saniel occasionally.

And I do definitely want to keep him on Sen'jin. In my guild if I can. He's my scribe and I'm about 6 weeks away from knowing every glyph that I don't need a book to learn. He's also my herbalist with access to Bountiful Bags.

Of course, as a raid leader, I know this is a pipe dream. If someone approached me and said, "Hey, I'd like to be a part of your raid team. On an alt. Standby only, because my schedule's kinda full. And I want to stay in my own guild. Just run with you," I'd laugh and then /ignore them. How could someone like that be accountable?

I mean, I know I'm an exception to the rule. But there's no way to convince someone else of that.

Also, today is my 256th post. Which is not only a square, but also a power of two. This makes my (not-so-)inner geek very excited.