Friday, February 5, 2010

Posts already sparse are going to become even more so

So I haven't posted in a while. It's a combination of my work firewall blocking my main Blogspot page (can still get into the dashboard) and moving up in the world. Moving up how? Well, about 3 or 4 months ago I decided that I really wanted to see everything that endgame had to offer me and that I just wasn't getting that in my guild.

I knew my other much more progression driven friend wouuld come with me if I jumped ship (he was already really chafeing at the lack of progress in our guild), but I was concerned if my girlfriend would come with us. This concern was pretty much a non-issue since she was feeling it too and playing like it, logging in just for our raids and not otherwise due to a lack of anything to do.

After talking it over with the guild leader and his wife (an officer) and our good mutual friends, we explained and while he was sad to see us go, he understood our reasoning.

It was a long search to find a guild that matched our requirements. First off, my girlfriend and I live in California and I work, so I needed a guild that started raiding no earlier than 6:30 PST. Next, our friend lives in Texas, so we couldn't end too late at night either. Now, these two things alone wouldn't be enough to make it hard to find a guild, but every Tuesday night my girlfriend and I play D&D, which put one of the most common raiding nights out entirely.

After a long period of searching, we found Recognition of the Suramar server. They have two 25-man raiding groups, one that runs Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (I think), the other Thursdays and Sundays, starting at 6:30 PST. It was a perfect match and what's more they needed all three of our class/spec combos. We applied and transfered servers when we were given a trial run in ToC the following Thursday. Even the worst of the three of us did well enough to be invited to the following ICC-25.

We were made official members, able to bid on stuff the following Sunday, and have settled in to our roles, quickly gearing up (over the course of the last two nights my girlfriend managed to upgrade both of her weapons, and I recently bought my T10 shoulders, and our friend who's a hunter got his BiS bow short of ICC-25 heroic) and overall enjoying our time there.

Well this Wednesday I got an offer to run with the other team's ICC-10 man group. I was feeling pretty ego-tastic after that because they were originally aiming for Tuesdays (which is, obviously not free) then they were asking me what night I was free. So I was like "Wow, I'm such an awesome tank that the other team wants me to go with them and are willing to see what days I can join them." I declined then because I was already running ICC-10 with other people from my own ICC-25 group. When I was talking to the GM about it, he said something along the lines of "We wanted to get you trained up on the fights in ICC."

Now, what does that have to do with anything? Well the normal raid leader has been absent due to RL stuff for a while, and the back up had RL stuff that night to attend to, so they got a backup RL on an alt and then the train hit me. "And Alixander will also be the Raid Leader and will explain the fights." I nearly got whiplash from snapping my head to look at the monitor. "Wait... WHAT?" I asked outloud, but not into vent. At the time I figured it was just a case of "He's a tank, he's good at raid leading." But then throughout the night the other guy brought in on an alt as the "raid leader" kept trying to help me out towards being more of a leader of our group.

About halfway through the night, when I got a tell from this guy telling me more tips on what to do as the RL, everything fell into place (had I not been tanking, it probably would have hit sooner). The other group, which counts for a lot of officers, wanted me to join them, were willing to change their schedules for me. They wanted to "train me up". All this, combined with being almost pushed towards raid leading it just clicked: The officers were grooming me to lead my 25-man team since the previous leader had been absent for two weeks (not clear on the details, but she had some serious RL stuff going on it seemed) and would be gone for the foreseeable future.

Note: I am probably going to jump over to the other ICC-10 group to get better trained up on the fights and quickly gear up my DK to tank for my current ICC-10 group so they aren't lacking a good tank.

I don't have any problems with being the raid leader, mind you. Someone has to do it, and while it is almost entirely a thankless task I've done it before and (it seems) will do it again. It just blindsided me a good bit since I've been in the guild less than a month. Seriously. As of the writing of my last post on this blog, I was still in my old guild. Anyways, what little time I have, for now, is going to be focused on making sure I'm as prepared to run my group through ICC-25 as humanly possible. I know some folks can balance a blog and raid leading, but I'm not one of them. I'll post occasionally, but not nearly as frequently as I have been. Once we've gotten everything locked down, I'll try to post more. Anyways, happy hunting all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My thoughts on ICC-10

As I mentioned in my last post, I got into a PUG ICC-10 run which was successful and I managed to down all 4 bosses in one run (but didn't one-shot them).

My opinion on the fights, all from the perspective of a tank:

Lord Marrowgar: The coldfire during the BONESTOOOOOOORM! phase makes it very hectic. I would imagine that it's just as hectic in 10-man as 25-man but for different reasons. In 10-man there are few healers which means you have to be careful of the fire and being too far from a healer, lest you nom on too much of the chilly burns. I would imagine that in 25-man, since (as I understand it) he moves from person to person, if you stack up, you or others will die, while if you spread out you get burnt.

But it's a fun fight, overall. Some movement, spacial awareness, plus the tanks need to move in tandem which gives an additional challenge.

Lady Deathwhisper: Phase one is a mad house. Both myself and Thornir would be on the same side wiping out the adds, then run over to the other side. We had little time to rest. When we finally got to phase two we made a few mistakes with early threat generation, but we got her down in one try (mostly because we didn't want to do phase one again).

Deathwhisper has an interesting twist on the semi-standard "tank until you get X amount of debuffs, then other tank taunts off you until the debuff wears off, back and forth" during Phase two. Thinking about the fights where this concept shows up, in most cases it takes the form of a DoT, so if the other tank doesn't taunt the target off you, you'll take too much damage and the healers can't keep you alive. Instead, this one either decreases your total threat by a set percent as long as the debuff is on you, or decreases the threat you create by a set percent. Either way, if you let the debuff get too big, the DPS will overtake you in terms of threat generation and they'll start dying. A very innovative way of using this concept, also meaning that this fight will always require a second tank since you can't overgear it and just heal your way through it.

The Gunship fight: Even without being the one that goes over to the other ship, this is a fantastically fun fight. There's a semi-frequent stream of mobs that portal over to your ship and you need to gather them up while tanking them all and avoiding the hail of rockets randomly hitting your ship. And you can't just keep rounding them up and letting them be, or they will become too powerful and squish you flat.

If you are the one who goes over to the other ship it's even better. You learn to be cognizant of the sound of your opponent calling for a mage to freeze the turrets, then you need to quickly hop over to the other side ahead of your DPS (and healers... at the time wasn't aware of the strat of pulling the leader to the edge of the boat so you can be healed from yours), hold threat on a boss that hits harder and harder, then get away before you become dead meat! Then get in a little extra DPS on the adds that the first tank is keeping before jumping back over! Wow! This is a technically challenging fight that I really really want to do again. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.

Deathbringer Saurfang: This is a technically challenging fight, but it's very different. It felt, very much, like I was almost completely divorced from most of the fight. I just had to keep Saurfang on myself and my co-tank, swapping back and forth between as one of us got a the debuff. The challenging part was being aware of when the beasts would spawn then making sure not to use any sort of AOEs. This made it hard as I needed to not fall into the pattern of the 969 rotation, and to cut out HotR and Consecration at key times (in fact I found myself rarely using Consecration, just to be safe).

I'm sure a bunch of stuff was happening over to my right, but it was off screen and there was little I could do to impact it beyond maybe cheering people on. I couldn't afford to do anything to the beasts lest I get aggro, so I just focused on the boss. Next time I'll rotate the boss so that my back is to the door he enters so I can see what's going on (plus it will make it so that the Blood Beasts don't run through me, decreasing the chance for an AOE to hit them).


Final assessment: Other than the Gunship fight, the encounters in ICC10 are fairly reactionary. You move out of the cold fire/death and decay, taunt off the other tank when you're supposed to, DPS these adds, don't DPS those adds, etc. OTOH, the Gunship fight is thrilling! High mobility, thinking on your feet, reacting to a situation as needed. Whew! Fantastic! Yet, despite my complaints about the other encounters in ICC, I still find the fights fun... I just think that the Gunship fight stands out in my mind so much that the others seem to pale in comparison.

And now with the next wing open, next time I go back to ICC, I'll go even further!