Saturday, March 28, 2009

Attempting the Impossible.

We had a weird OS10 run. The initial plan was to run OS10+2, We had 2 tanks, 3 DPS, 3 healers and needed 1 more tank and 1 more DPS. So we hit LFG, and I noticed a Rogue that I had run with before. He's a great mutilate rogue, and would be useful to help dispel the enraged fire elementals. So we brought him in and were only pining for a tank. We spend about 15 minutes trying to find a tank that's well geared enough, when one tank and one healer, who apparently share the same power grid, lose power and go offline. The rogue at this point, and I swear he was waiting for this exact scenario, mentions that he has a tank, a resto shaman, and a warlock who are willing to come if we upgrade to three drakes. Something went horribly wrong with our decision making process, and we agreed to it. We agreed to pug OS10+3, the hardest encounter in the game... I blame sunspots for this. Such an audacious plan. It has been said, "Fortune Favors the Bold". So fortune must have smiled upon the sheer gall it took to attempt this... right...?

Wrong. We wiped probably 15 times. It was painful. We were essentially trying to piece together a working strategy out of heresy and duct tape. The big issue is the debuffs the drakes cause, it's disheartening for a tank to go from 38k health raid buffed to 26.3k. We eventually decided to have the 'lock, who was a jewelcrafter, use his voidwalker to tank Sartharion, with me picking up the adds, and the better geared prot pally tanking the drakes. The first wipe was almost immediate, the drake tank took the Tenenbron to the far west side of the island, when the flame wave came, he moved to avoid it, and the drake breathed on the rest of the raid in the safe spot. Instagibed. We adjusted positioning, however, the warlock wasn't very confident in his ability to move the VW, and the drake tank just instinctively took the drakes to where he took them on his guild's two drake attempt. The result was having Sarth on the far east side of the island, and the drakes on the far west side of the island. The adds funneled towards the healers, and there was too much ground to cover in between the healers to be able to pick them up before they killed the healers. People groused, and the rogue, who took over as raid leader decided to have the more experienced tank from his guild tank the adds, while I took the drakes. The other paladin ran into the same problems, and was a lot more vocal about it then I was. So we moved Sarth closer to the middle of the island.

This created a new problem. As soon as Sarth got MDed onto the VW, he angled, and tail swiped the rest of the raid. So we adjusted the positioning some more, and we finally found a winner, one with the drakes on the north side, and sarth on the south side, staggered so that the DPS could avoid the tail swipe, and the healers were funneling the adds to the same spot. This is where the failures of the DPS began to become apparent. We never actually got Tenenbron down. We came close on one attempt, which I personally found endlessly entertaining. The DPS had remembered their rotations, and were actually putting out enough DPS to kill Tenenbron before Vesperon landed, so I'd only have to tank two drakes at a time, and with the reduced distance, the other pally's shadow resist aura was reaching me, so I could survive the breaths. But as Shadron landed, I went to pick him up, and started attacking him to establish aggro. Apparently all but one DPSer was just using an assist macro to pick their targets, so they all shift off Tenenbron, who's at 15% health, and start attacking Shadron. This led to having both drakes still alive when Vesperon landed. Tenenbron was at around 13% and Shadron was around 75%. Vesperon landed, and all three drakes breathed on me. I was simply erased. Once I was down, the drakes went and ate the healers, and then the DPS. This is why macros can never replace a functioning brain.

After that wipe, the rogue gave up his nightfall aspirations, and suggested we switch it to a 2 drake kill. The warlock and Shaman dropped group immediately, leaving us with 2 tanks, 4 DPS, and 2 healers. Rather than open the pug of worms again, I suggested we do Less is More. We spent so long wiping on 3 drakes, that when we took our 8 man group to go kill Shadron, the trash respawned. So we cleared the trash again, killed the drakes, and engaged in a lengthy battle with Sartharion. We downed Sarth in one go, and walked off with an achievement, just not the one we wanted.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kif, We Have a Conundrum!

Well, hot on the heels of the drama bomb that went off and turned Mean Machine into a smoking crater, I've hit the recruiting trail. The first thing I did was ask a few people I pugged with, well, the competent people, if their guilds raided, and if they had any openings. Most of the 25 man raid guilds on Destromath operate on a website application process. I checked out a bunch, and sent applications to a few, then scanned /2. Spending that much time in trade chat was not healthy. I found a new raiding guild, called Lëgacy. It's run by a pretty chill Resto Druid. When I say new, I mean brand new. Given the failures of the previous two guilds, stability is something that I value, and I'm not sure where Lëgacy falls in that regard. Meanwhile, I have an application being processed with a guild called Degenerates. They're a fairly large guild, and have multiple naxx runs. They also raid on weekday nights, which is a plus for me because it doesn't interfere with my National Guard commitment, unlike Lëgacy's Friday-Saturday raid schedule. I hopped on with Lëgacy for this lockout period, to check out their guild.

That night, they had an undying attempt scheduled. Since I was the best geared tank they had access to at the moment, I offered my services. We stormed into naxx, and cleared it in about 3 hours. We hit the plague wing first, and lost our shot at the undying when the GM ran to the platform a burst early with Heigan at 2%. We decided to convert the run into an achievement run, so we burned through the spider wing and got Arachniphobia. We pushed through the military ward, and tried something experimental on Gothik. We left the whole raid on live side, and just AOE'd deadside when the gates opened. It worked. We didn't have the group makeup to try and drop the 4 horsemen at the same time. We downed Patchwerk in 3:15, and only had one person cross charges on Thaddius. The Skull of Ruin, one of the few items I could actually use dropped on Grob, and I rolled a 1 on it, so enjoy it OT. In short, this guild is really close. Then we got out to Sapphiron and took home the One Hundred Club achievement, and went to KT and grabbed Just Can't Get Enough. The OT seemed to have some trouble spotting the void zones when he grabbed the Guardians. He died on both attempts, the first time wiping the raid, the second time requiring me to grab one while a DK grabbed another. I got a Crown of the Lost Conqueror, which I'm now too poor to enchant and gem at the moment.

Later on that night, I get a whisper from the GM. He asks me what I think of the guild, and if I plan on staying. I mentioned that I still had an application with Degenerates out, but I'd make my decision at the end of the lockout period. He then offered me a position as Raid Leader, and garunteed me a chance at getting into Ulduar. I'm confident that if I get into Degenerates, I'd get my way into the Ulduar raids very quickly, maybe not as an MT, but certainly as an OT. But going in as a raid leader simply won't happen with them. It's kinda like having a chance to come in as a partner in a start up, or coming in as middle management at Microsoft. You aren't quite sure what you're gonna get with the prior, but the sky's the limit.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So much for a fresh start

Wow. I'm still not really sure what happened. I went down to Oregon to visit some family for the weekend. I came back and found the following guild message when I logged in.

gquit if you want, or stay, but either way, Mean Machine is now a leveling/alt guild.
That sucks. My friend who was an officer wasn't online, and wasn't answering his phone, so I don't know what went down, and neither did the few shell shocked members who were online. This is the first time in my raiding career where I've been without a guild, and not already had one lined up. I'm not exactly sure where to go now. I guess I'll try to get a hold of my buddy, figure out what happened, then maybe pug around until I find a guild. Unless any of you on Destromath - A know of any raiding guilds that need a tank. Any tips on how to handle being a free agent raider?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Fundamentals of Paladin Tanking

Every Paladin who decided to walk the road of group meat shield was a newb at some point. There are certain fundamentals that you need to develop in order to be a successful tank. These aren't in game talents or skills. While those certainly come into play, there is a wide array of potential combinations that can be used by protection paladins. I'll go into those in a later post. What I'm going to cover here are the attributes that you, as a player, need to hone in order to become the best tank you can be.

Perception: Particularly if this is your first time tanking a particular instance, this becomes very important. Before the pull, you'll need to have a solid grasp of the aggro radius of each member of your party in relation to nearby mobs. You'll need to know where the rest of your party sits with regards to health and mana, especially your healers. You'll also need to note potential LoS sites, and patrol patterns, to avoid getting overextended on a pull.

Once the pull begins, you still need to keep track of all those things, but you've also got to monitor threat and crowd control on all the mobs in the pull. You also need to constantly monitor the positioning of the mobs in relation to any AOEs, Patrols, and the raid. Your perception of how things should go, and how things are going will mold the actions of the entire group.

Planning: While most DPSers, and even healers, can get away with just showing up most of the time. Tanks need to know a lot more than just "what not to stand in". You actually need to research what you're hitting ahead of time. Particularly in Heroics and Raids. I got away with a lot in my younger days as a tank. For raid bosses, my suggestion is to go to, and watch those wonderful films Ciderhelm puts together for every raid boss.

For five mans, a quick browse of the instances Wowwiki page should be enough to give you a feel for the instance. There are some trash pulls that require more intense management then simply AOE Hellstorm. In wrath, they are few and far between, but when you do hit them, if you aren't prepared, you'll face wipe after wipe. The Anub'arak skirmishers in Heroic Azjol-Nerub come to mind.

For bosses, you'll definitely need to know which ones require kiting (Xevozz), which ones require strafing(Ingvar), and which ones require jumping around like morons (keristrasza). The moment you step into an instance, nothing should really be a surprise for you, because you've already done your homework.

Pacing: This is where the planning and perception come together. As the tank, you'll be responsible for pulling, and thus setting the pace of the group's progression through the instance. Unless you have an idiot in your group, in which case they'll appoint themselves the puller, and you'll wipe a lot.

Things to keep in mind are the experience level of the group, the mana and health levels of the group, the position of nearby patrols, and the complexity of the pull. If the group is relatively inexperienced, you might need to explain what is about to happen to them. You never want to pull if the healer is OoM. As you run more with a healer, you'll get a better feel as to where they're comfortable pulling, but initially, I wouldn't recommend less than 75% mana. Also, unless you massively outgear the instance, you never want to pull multiple packs at once. This means you might need to hold off on a pull until a pat moves away.

Those are the fundamental virtues of not just paladin tanking, but tanking in general. I'll get into the paladin specifics on a later date, but these are just as applicable to a bear, or warrior, or DK.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Fresh Start.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the guild I was in was suffering some serious problems in the absence of it's guild master. You'll note the use of the past tense there. I was raiding with my friend's guild during Gunned Down in Reno's hiatus. In short order, I had main tanked their first Naxx 25 clear, and tanked their first down of Sarth 10 + 1 drake. After some begging, I decided to do the trendy thing, and took Dammer to Mean Machine, the guild I was progressing with, and left my alt in GDiR to keep tabs on things. Ironically, the day after I left, GDiR's guild master came back. I tried to keep a low profile, as I still had some friends who hadn't left the guild, including the one who got me into WoW to begin with. I had kinda slipped out in the middle of the night, and was kind of hoping to blend in with the rest of the exodus, so as not to attract the ire of my former guildies. I know that sometimes that can be an issue. I don't know how GDiR's gonna go forward, but I just can't see them replenishing their losses and getting back into 25 man raid shape for at least a month. They hadn't managed to clear naxx 25 before the disruption, and now, with 3.1 bringing Ulduar sooner rather than later, GDiR will find themselves well behind the progression curve. GDiR, over the course of one month, went from a 25 man raiding guild on pace for progression, to a borderline social/alt guild that's stagnating. It hurts to see that, they will always be my first guild, and I wish them all the success in the world.

The problem that I think led to the collapse of GDiR is the makeup of the guild. It was essentially a cult of personality. The GM is a great person, great guild leader, great raid leader, and one of the best protection warriors I've ever seen. However, the remainder of the officer's corps was nearly nonexistent. When the GM took her sabbatical, raids ground to a halt, and there were stretches of a week at a time where we had no news of what was going on with regards to the guild. The rank and file raiders had little linking them to each other. Once the GM was no longer there, micromanaging the guild, it went directly to anarchy.

I'm not exactly sure how my new guild, Mean Machine, would handle a similar situation. The GM of MM is very similar. She's hands on, with both raids and guild affairs. The difference that I see is a much more visible officer corps. One of those officers is a friend of mine, so even in the event of a similar information blackout, I could still go outside the game to find out what's going on. Looking at how things have been going the last few raid periods, I think MM would handle an extended absence by the GM much better than GDiR did. I certainly hope I don't get to test that theory though.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

And My Paladin Brethren Get the Hose

Spiritual Attunement is no longer a baseline talent on the PTR. It has been turned into a deep Protection talent that has two levels, just as it is trained now. This isn't too big a deal for my fellow tanks, because Blizzard was kind enough to free up a few talent points by converting former 5 point talents into 3 point talents. However, where this hurts, are Holy and Ret paladins.

Holy paladins used SA as a mana boost in fights where there was a alot of raid wide damage going on, like Sapphiron. This allowed their mana supply to scale directly with the amount of damage being put on the raid. Combined with Divine Plea, this gave Holy Paladins for all intents and purposes unlimited mana on many boss fights. That needed to change, but nerfing both SA and Divine Plea might have been a bit excessive.

Retribution paladins used Seal of the Martyr to damage themselves. This freed up effective healing that would refil their mana, allowing them to continue DPSing at max efficiency. This nerf effectively kills Seal of the Martyr. Tanks are still loath to use it because of the risk it presents, and now all it really does is cause both a Ret pally's health and mana to go down. Not worth it in my opinion. What this is going to cause is ret paladins to switch to seal of command, which will make their damage more spikey, or possibly even seal of wisdom if they can't get enough mana back from judgements of the wise. This actually puts blizzard in an interesting hole. They've already gone on record as saying that they think that PvE ret damage is too low. However, because of the mechanics of judgements of the wise, they can't buff JotW because it would buff raid wide mana regen, which they've already stated is too high. They would also have a tough time buffing Seal of Command's damage to compensate, because that would make ret paladins even more bursty in PvP, which would drive people crazy.

Here's one possible solution. This post by Rohan, at Blessing of Kings, suggested folding SA into righteous fury so that any paladin could benefit from it if they found themselves off tanking. Personally, I think the nerf is at odds with Blizzard's previously stated goals of buffing ret PvE damage. Folding it into Righteous Fury would be good for protection paladins, but due to the increased threat generation, it would only be usable for off tanking for a ret paladin. I think the solution that best allows for maintaining the mana regen on the tank, nerfing the mana regen on holy paladins, and not nerfing the damage of retribution paladins would be to fold it into both improved righteous fury, and fanaticism, then move improved righteous fury down a teir or two in the prot tree. This would keep seal of the martyr viable, but having it as deep talents in the two non healing trees would ensure that it couldn't be used to buff the healer's mana regen.

Friday, March 13, 2009

He Who Has Last Laugh, Laughs Best.

My guild has been falling apart as of late. The GM is taking a sabbatical to get married, and the officer whom she left in charge decided to transfer all power to her little played alt, and take her main over to her friend's guild. That was kinda the beginning of the end. In rapid succession, our three raid healers left, the main tank left, and about the top 12 DPSers left. I'm not about to bail on our GM, who's a very nice person and skilled raid leader, until she has a chance to impress me with her plan for rebuilding the guild. But to be perfectly honest, at this point, she'd need to have met with Ensidia on her honeymoon, and convinced them to transfer servers here, swap to alliance side, and let me MT for them in Ulduar. Who knows, it might happen...

But in the interim, with the complete lack of guild raids the last three weeks, I began filling in with a guild that a RL friend of mine is an officer in. They were pushing their way through Naxx 25 progression, and needed some tanks to help ease the jump from a 10 man raiding guild into a 25 man guild. There are usually two routes people tend to take with regards to progression in Naxx. They either start with the Spider Wing, as it's the easiest and gives the group a chance to gel, or Construct, because you can punt all the people who suck if you can't down Patchwerk without worrying about getting them saved. The group chose to do construct first, and we did a pretty good job. We knocked down Patchwerk on the second attempt, after we convinced the melee DPS not to open up right away. We one shotted Grobulus with no problem, and killed Gluth with some minor difficulties. The main tank died right off the bat, and I had to tank Gluth pretty much alone for 6 stacks until he got brezzed and rebuffed, but the important thing is we killed him. Which brought us to Thaddius. Thaddius is one of those fights that you either get, or you don't. The raid didn't get it that day. People were missing the jump, crossing charges, and not dpsing enough. After about three wipes, we bailed out on Thaddius, and moved on to the spider wing. One shot, one shot, one shot. Easy as pie. The military wing went about as well. One wipe on Razuvious, but one shot Gothik and the Horsemen.

We called it a night at that point, and picked it up the next night. We decided to give Thaddius another go. The encounter glitched on the two adds prior to Thaddius. They threw a warlock instead for the main tank, and proceeded to rip through the raid group. Wipe protocol was enacted, and rogues were vanishing, Elves Shadowmelding, and paladins DIing anything that stood still long enough. The adds reset, and the people came out of hiding. The moment they dropped whatever aggro wipe they had, the adds would reaggro and kill them. So we went for a full wipe. We regrouped and headed back inside. As the group slogged to Thaddius, the adds reaggroed the moment we set foot in Gluth's room. Another wipe. We opened up a ticket, and went and did the plague wing. Noth was cake, as was Heigan, however, we didn't get the safety dance, a few people thought they could get that last cast off. They couldn't.

Now, a funny thing happened on the way to Loatheb. We were milling around as a GM had showed up to help the officers sort out the Thaddius problem. Someone said something in vent that sort of sounded like pull. So a pug hunter pulled, with the 3 officers, 2 other tanks, and 2 other DPS players standing on the other side of the threshold. I picked up Loatheb, being the only tank in the room, and started going to town. Fortunately, all the healers were inside, so we just decided to go for it. After a long time, Loatheb went down. Unfortunately, one of the officers who was locked out was the Master Looter. That turned it into a group loot roll. All hell broke lose on vent. The ML was yelling on vent for people not to panic. Instead of having everyone pass, and open the group to potential ninjas, the master looter opted to have people simply treat it like a 5 man instance. Need if you need, greed if you can DE, pass otherwise. I got the Greaves of Turbulence from him. I think I earned it.

The response from GM was that the whole raid had to evacuate the instance and wait 45 minutes until the instance soft resets. Why they couldn't just reset it as soon as we were out is beyond my ken. But we were left with 45 minutes to kill. So we took the guys we had who weren't saved to OS25 and 17 manned it for the achievement. We reformed but at this point it was nearly 2 AM, and people were a little ragged, and after two wipes, we called it for the night.

We reconvened on Sunday, with just Thaddius, Sapphiron, and Kel'Thuzad left. Of the original three tanks, I was the only one left. They paladin and warrior had been replaced by two DKs. This was nice for me, because they didn't share the same loot table as I did, so pretty much anything with block on it, or any one handed tanking drops were mine. That was assuming we managed to down Thaddius. Which we did, on the second try. Now, we were in unknown waters for this guild. They had never made it to Sapphiron on heroic before. And this was where I began to get a real taste of progression style raids. We wiped 12 times. We'd lose people who grouped up on the ice blocks. We'd lose people who didn't stay close enough to get to the ice block. We'd lose people who just stood in the chill. Even when people started to get it right, they got it wrong. My personal favorite was when the RL got ice blocked on the snow drifts. This causes a glitch that allows the frost bomb through. Half the raid didn't know that, and it seems they were all hiding behind that ice block. We lost 13 raiders on that one. We lost two healers on one attempt when they got behind an ice block, only to find out it was a mage casting ice block, not one of Sapphiron's. After 10 attempts, the DK MT had to go, as he was one of those crazy east coast people playing on a west coast server. This left me main tanking a progression attempt for a guild I wasn't even in. Fun times. We picked up an extra healer to replace the tank, unfortunately this led to everyone thinking the other healers were on tank detail. I got one lifebloom and one renew thrown on me at the start, then was promptly ripped limb from limb when the only additional healing I got for 30 seconds were procs from my own Judgement of Light. I was not pleased. The raid leader fixed the healing assignments and declared this would be our last attempt. It went great. The healers kept me up, the DPS stopped standing in things, and we didn't lose anyone to frost bombs. Sapphiron went down, and vent exploded.

However, this left us in the unenviable situation of only having two tanks on Kel'Thuzad. Usually, it's better to have an OT take two adds, and the other OT take the other two, while the MT tanks KT. We only had one OT, and the RL wasn't about to go scrambling for a pug OT on a progression attempt at 1 AM for KT only. So, I was planning on seeing a few wipes here, then maybe, if I was lucky, picking it up on Monday. 12 wipes on Sapphiron, who's generally considered much easier than KT on 25 man, generally foresees many wipes on the Lich.

What happened, however, was impressive. We rolled into Kel'Thuzad's lair and crushed him. The OT picked up all four adds and held them, the healers kept us alive, and the DPS kept Kel'Thuzad from destroying me with frostbolts. When Kel'Thuzad went down, he dropped one of the two things on my wish list. Not the Wall of Terror, which, admittedly was my preferred choice. However, he did drop Last Laugh, the best in slot tanking weapon for protection paladins. However, it also has a massive DPS, so I was ready to fight tooth and nail for my right to it over either of the DW DKs who would undoubtedly be eying it as well. I dropped my roll, and watched it go uncontested. Hot Damn. I got Kel'Thuzad on a stick.

I immediately trotted over to the auction house and blew all my cash for picking up the most expensive weapon enchant I could find, Accuracy. I'm so stoked. I'm ready to smash some faces with the Last Laugh.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The PvP Milestone

I got several PvP achievements all at once tonight. I notched my 1,000th honorable kill, killed Thrall, and earned my Black War Bear. There are two possible scenarios with this. The first, and more likely scenario, is that Thrall was killed by some random DoT tick, and my 1,000th honor kill was one of the Horde players who tried to saved their beloved leader being nuked down by the raid. The second scenario, and the one I choose to believe took place, was that my 1,000th honor kill was Thrall himself, and that the last thing the Warchief saw before his death was my Royal Crest of Lordaeron coming in to cave in his skull. The second one is definitely the one I'm going to tell other people.

Death to the Warchief was the last of the For The Alliance! achievements I had left, and it was certainly the hardest to get. This was my fifth crack at Thrall. The previous four had all failed for various reasons, being launched at 3PM on a sunday, healer DCing, half the raid took a wrong turn, Senjin hexed the raid... I was begining to think I might not get Thrall down. But this raid group actually got it done. We went at 10:30 PM, had healers and MT and OT, and enough DPS to burn him down. Of course, there were still enough horde players on us that mage ports were out of the question for escape. So, like any good grad of paladin S.E.R.E. school, I bubble hearthed. Or, bubbled that is, it turned out there was still fifteen minutes on my hearth cooldown. At this point, things went haywire, the members of the raid who were still alive all bolted, and I was right with them. Unfortunately, I don't spend a lot of time in Orgrimmar, so I wound up running the long way, out the front gate, through the cloud of players by the bank and AH. I managed to survive that with trinket cooldowns, and made it to the front gate. Whereupon I was promptly murdered by a swarm of angry duellists. Right, Orgrimmar is their Ironforge...

I'm still really strapped for cash while leveling my new professions, so I opted not to hit on the spirit healer. 35% damage to an epic tanking set is fatal to the wallet. I ran back to my corpse, bubbled away from the duellists, and got a screenshot of my Zorro-esque escape from Orgrimmar. I bolted across Durotar and the Barrens on my crusading charger, hopped the boat in Ratchet, and fly to Stormwind from Booty Bay. I checked by mail, and found a grateful letter from my liege, King Varian Wrynn, and also found a Black War Bear. The mailbox is like Mary Poppins' purse I guess, much bigger on the inside. After extricating the very large bear from the very small box, I took him for a test drive, culminating in this stop in Stormwind's Valley of Heroes. He runs like a dream, thank you very much.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tales of Fail: The Hunter

I pug quite a bit. My guild has almost no reliable healers left in its ranks, so most of my runs are healed by healers from other guilds with whom I've built a reputation. It works very well for five mans and heroics, although raids are a little tougher to come by. One of the healers I run with has a little circle of friends she runs with, her boyfriend and a couple other RL friends. They decided that they wanted to all get Bronze Drakes together. Sounds like a lovely little bonding process. One snag though. Though they had a DK and a paladin, they had no tank. That's where I came in. I've built a reputation as a bit of a specialist when it comes to timed CoS runs. The DK and the Healer were kind enough to step in on a naxx pug I threw together, so when she asked me if I could tank CoS timed, I promised I'd run them through until they both had their drakes. But I had to do it with their foursome. A frost DK, a holy priest, a Ret Paladin, a survival hunter, and now a protection paladin. A fine group.

I hop into the portal in the Violet Citadel, and fly down to the instance, where I begin to get to work clearing the crates and moving the cut scenes along. It's fun to watch for the first time, but it becomes a somewhat annoying waste of time the 5th or 6th time you run the instance. I ask the group members where they are, the paladin's clearing out a quest and will hearth to Dal soon. The DK is waiting on an enchant in dal and the healer is flying to dal. I see the hunter is still in Borean Tundra, so I ask him if he can get to Dalaran and take the portal. He says he doesn't want to waste his hearth. I point out that he could fly to Dalaran for something like 80 silver. He says he doesn't have that kind of money to spare. This already started to grind my gears. I don't usually summon people to CoS, considering that the portal in the biggest hub of the game drops you off closer to the instance than the stone does, I don't like to summon people who are already in Northrend. It's a different story if you're say, in Ironforge. It's kind of like corpse running after a wipe, sure, you could wait for me or the healer to come rez you, but it slows down the group a little, and it just comes off as lazy.

Well, whatever, let's get this going. We cranked through all the lovely dialog and got into the run proper. We worked our way to Meathook, and downed him, but we were already at 21 minutes, which is about a minute behind the curve I like to run on. I toggled off the combat hide on my recount and began checking the data as I pulled. I usually don't bring a DPS who can't do at least 1,600 sustained DPS throughout the run. The DK's doing 2,100 DPS, good. The ret paladin was doing 1,950 DPS, also good. I was doing 2,050 DPS at that point, yay for AOE undead. The healer was at the bottom, as she should be. The hunter was doing 890 DPS, well, there's the problem right there. But the other two DPS were doing great, and I was having one of my best personal performances ever. I decide we have a shot at it anyways, and push the tempo up to compensate. We pushed through Salaam and the Chrono-Lord and ran right into the gauntlet. I went right into pulling, gaining enough aggro on each elite that the DPS could kill it without aggroing it and pulling the next one. It got a little dicey at times, but the healer was a pro, and kept us alive. We broke out of the gauntlet with a little over two minutes on the clock. I yelled out that no one should talk to Arthas, and went right to the Infinite Corrupter. I popped wings and went to work burning him down. The Infinite Corrupter went down with 6 seconds left on the timer. The ret pally, hunter, and priest all rolled on the Bronze Drake. The DK and I already had ours. The paladin won the roll. I told the priest we'd run it again tomorrow and I'd get her a drake. I chatted with the DK in whispers about how I've never pulled a timed run off with a DPSer as low as that hunter. The DK said he didn't think we'd make it. We drank up, and went back to find Arthas. Turns out that no one had spoken to Arthas to start out the gauntlet, so we ran back to him. The entirety of the gauntlet respawns when Arthas doesn't make it across, both the horde of normal zombies, and the elites. The hunter apparently didn't notice this, so he starts launching volleys to burn the zombies. He hits three elites, then feigns death onto the DK. The DK gets eaten alive, and the mobs go right back and one shot the hunter. The Ret pally hit holy wrath to stun them, and at that point, the priest and I, who had been drinking and thus were a little behind came up. The healer tried to save the paladin. I threw up righteous defense, and pulled three normal zombies off him. Thank you RNG! The elites crushed the paladin, and zoomed towards the healer. I threw up Holy Wrath and consecrate, and tried in vain to save the group. The elites wound up killing me, and killing the healer. Well, I almost had a wipe free run.

At this point, I didn't know that they were friends with the hunter. I figured he was just some pugger they picked up. I told the priest that we should pick a better 3rd DPS for the run tomorrow. She said she would, and we parted ways for the time being.

The next day, the healer invited me to the repeat of CoS. The hunter was already chilling in the group. I asked the healer, and she explained that they were all RL friends, and they just needed a tank. She also mentioned that his DPS should go up, as they had gotten him the Accursed Bow of the Elite last night. I started the run, and pushed the tempo at about the same rate as the day prior. Things weren't as slow as the last time, but still behind the curve. As we finished phase one, I checked the recount. The DK was pushing 2,300 DPS and I was at 1,950. The ret paladin was apparently a little embarrassed at being out DPSed by the tank last time and stepped his game up, notching 2,100 DPS. The hunter, well, his epic bow did bring the promised DPS increase, he was doing 910 DPS this time. After we downed Epoch, the hunter rather rudely reminded me to talk to Arthas at the start of the gauntlet. That started to get my hackles up, so I rather acidly replied that I would be too busy pulling, so the lowest DPS should stop to chat with him. To his credit, he did talk to Arthas this time. We cut a swath through the gauntlet, and tore into the Infinite Corrupter. We brought him down with less than a minute on the timer. The hunter and the priest rolled on the drake, and the priest won it. My promise was fulfilled and my obligation complete. Mal'Ganis went down, and I split.

The next day, the DK and Priest whispered me asking if I'd help them get the hunter a Drake. I had just received an invite to a naxx 25 from my RL friend, and I had the choice between helping someone I liked and getting loot, or helping someone who annoyed me and getting nothing. I chose the former. I picked up a couple upgrades in Naxx, the Greaves of Turbulence from Loatheb, and the Pauldrons of Unnatural Death from Anub'Rekan, and bought Kyzoc's Ground Stompers with the Emblems. My friends didn't fare as well in CoS. Apparently their backup tank wasn't very good at CoS. They wiped three times, and the timer ran out before they hit the Chrono-Lord.

A few days later the DK asked me to run CoS again. He explained that the other tank wasn't as skilled, and that he'd owe me if I did this for them. I was sitting at 60 emblems of heroism, and needed 5 more to get a Bloodied Arcanite Reaper for the warrior alt I was making. I decided that it'd be a good way to pick up the last five emblems, so I agreed.

The first thing I noticed when I hopped into the group was that the ret paladin was gone. In his place was a mage from their guild in half blues and half greens, who had never done a timed run before. That was a red flag. As we got into the run, we downed the first two waves, and I noticed that 3 minutes had already elapsed. I checked recount, and the Hunter was still doing a hair under 1k DPS, and the mage was only doing 1.1k DPS. My tank sense was tingling now. I whispered the DK and told him that we weren't going to make it. Keep up the pace, was his reply. The DK did a phenomenal job of attempting to put the run on his back. He did 2,700 DPS through Chrono-Lord Epoch. But it wasn't enough. Epoch went down with 4 minutes left, and the hunter began yelling at me to chain pull the entire gauntlet. At that point, I shut the attempt down. I told them that I wasn't going to wipe the group to try and do the impossible. We were going to walk through the gauntlet and down Mal'Ganis. The healer, who doesn't keep a meter running on her own, asked what went wrong. Deciding that the blunt truth was the best option here, I explained that it's hard to carry one person on a timed run, you simply can't carry two people. We went into the gauntlet, and pulled at a fairly leisurely pace.

When on a non timed run, the chain pull rules are gone, and the only people I want pulling are myself, and Arthas, because you can't stop that paladin from channeling his inner Leeroy. Into the second half of the gauntlet, I threw my shield to pull a ghoul, then used both my taunts to pull a Crypt Fiend and Abomination off of Arthas. Then the hunter breaks the rule, and pulls another ghoul. With both my taunts on cooldown, I watch as the Ghoul charges the hunter, and begins to consume his face with gusto. What does the Hunter do at this point? Does he misdirect the mob back onto me? Does he run up and drag the mob into the AOE storm that's brewing around me? No. He feigns death, while standing right next to the healer. The ghoul charges the priest, and knocks her down to about 5% health before Hand of Reckoning comes off cooldown and I can get the mob off her. We narrowly avert a wipe there.

I am very protective of my healers. Especially when they get put in danger by DPSers who have better means of dealing with aggro. I whispered the hunter, and told him to never FD onto the healer again. At which point he rather profanely informs me in party chat that I shouldn't let mobs get to the hunter. I was pissed, but I tried to keep my composure. I whispered the DK, and told him his friend was getting on my nerves. The DK says he's dressing the hunter down in vent. Fighting off the urges of the demon on my left shoulder, I didn't release Mal'Ganis onto the Hunter right off the bat. We downed Mal'Ganis, and I bounced.

While cruising through my Sons of Hodir dailies, I get a whisper from the Priest, asking if I'd tank the Heroic Daily, The Old Kingdom. I still needed that quest for my Proof of Demise achievement, but I consider OK one of the hardest instances to tank, because if the healer doesn't know what's going on, we wipe, if the tank doesn't know what's going on, we wipe, and if even on DPSer doesn't know what's going on, we'll probably wipe. You learn real fast who know what Line of Sight is in that dungeon. I told her that I'd do it, but only if they left the Hunter at home, as I'd had my fill of him for the day. She needed to talk to the rest of the group before making that decision. Within 45 seconds of me saying that, I start getting tells from a lvl 21 paladin containing a lot of profanity, and insults. About the only coherent phrase I saw was "I go where they go!". "That may be, but I'm going to make sure that you don't go where I go." I replied, shortly before throwing the lowbie pally and the hunter on my ignore list. I few guildies decide to run Old Kingdom, so I tank it for them. Just before we pulled the Herald, I got a tell from the DK. "Come tank OK for us. No hunter, just us." I told him that I would, if I wasn't already precipitously close to face pulling the Herald right then.

Thus, hopefully, ends the saga of that hunter and I. I'm not averse to carrying players on runs. As long as we can finish our goals, I really don't care about what your DPS is. However, what I will not abide for long is rampant asshattery. I don't care if you're pushing 6K DPS, don't be a dick. You will quickly build a reputation, and you won't necessarily be able to undo the damage. I would have gotten the hunter a drake, but instead, this guy found himself blacklisted by his friends' preferred tank, and they chose the tank over him.