Thursday, March 26, 2009


People often invite me to duels out of the blue, sometimes they even ask first. In either case I usually accept unless they are either ridiculously high or low in level.

Somehow two duels that stand out recently were both against death knights. The first was outside ramps and I happened to be on my death knight as well. I was challenged to a duel out of the blue by a death knight a level lower than me, but sporting blues opposed to my questing greens so I went for it. Beat him without too much trouble and he gave me a nice set of green tanking legs afterwards. I was a little surprised and thanks him before going into the instance.

Speaking of ramps the most amusing world PVP occurred there a week or so ago. We have a guild alt run for ramps starting up and we were just getting finished summoning everyone and about to enter when I notice a flagged horde. My alt happens to be a resto shaman, but I attacked anyway. The resto of his party came at me including a couple death knights and I was put on the defensive doing all I could to keep myself healed. Of course my guildies chipped in and started attacking as well and before you know it we had a full blown brawl. With our two healers (and they say there is a shortage) and 3 dps (tanks are for sissies) we sent them packing. They ran back and straight into the instance except a couple lazy ones which didn't want to run back. The priest in their party came back out of the instance to rez them, but as soon as he started to cast he was flagged and we'd have none of that. After two deaths the priest gave up and so did we going ahead with our own run. Perhaps a little mean, but they deserved to walk back and it was a little funny.

Duels! That was the topic... yes. The second duel I had in mind was actually two duels. I was on my druid waiting with a couple guildies to start a heroic halls of lightening run. We were waiting on someone and got bored and somehow decided to duel eachother. I wound up dueling our death knight. I was in full dps gear and took him on in cat form. Prowl, Pounce, Bite, Claw, Slash and he went down and I was like at 30%. He asked for a rematch, but this time against my bear form. I of course flipped on my tanking gear healed myself up and accepted. I didn't lose more than 1k of health and dropped him and his pet easier than I had in cat form. Go figure, I was expecting a longer fight.

Oh one last duel I just remembered, again a death knight. I was waiting for my 25 OS run to start and was at the stone when one of our death knights started to prance around naked then summoned an army of the dead. I couldn't resist seeing how much damage the army could do to me so I challenged him to a duel. I won of course, but it was funny when he asked if he could put his clothes back on.

Not all my duels end in victory though, just this Tuesday I was leveling my death knight in Terrokar (2 bars till Northrend) when another death knight of the same level challenged me to a dual, I accepted and after a pretty long fight was beaten. After that I noticed I wasn't using rune strike at all, which would of flipped the odds in my favor for sure. Have that worked into my new macros now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bear "Rotation"

It all starts off with a flip to bear and if you stuck talent points into furor you get a little bit of rage to start off with. If you don't have 5 points in furor then you might not, but go ahead and try again; bears don't need no stinkin' mana anyway. Using enrage will add even more rage to start out with, but be careful with it as you take more damage when it is active. Most times the little bit of rage from Furor or whatever you have left from the last fight is enough to just charge in and go nuts.

Or maybe not, you remembered to buff yourself before you flipped to bear, right? No? Well darn, put thorns up on yourself as well as gift of the wild unless you have someone else taking care of it. There are some resto and balance druids out there that think they are doing you a service by casting thorns on you, but honestly how many of them can be counted on to refresh it every 10 minutes. I prefer to use my glyph of thorns for an hour self buff and not worry about the little bit of extra damage I could be doing some of the time when someone else remembers to buff me.

Most pulls will start off with some combination of feral charge, feral faerie fire, growl, demoralizing roar and swipe depending on the situation. The idea here is to get everything you are going to pull interested in you and keep your healer from pulling anything you hadn't gotten around to hitting. This happens very quickly and with good reason, you want to be done before anyone notices what you did. There are going to be DPS trying to do the same thing a second later and it is your job as a tank not to let them.

That isn't to say DPS doesn't have any responsibility not to pull things away from you; they do, but they will still do it on occasion. Even the best tank can't hold everything all the time and it isn't anything to worry about, unless it went after your healer and then you suck. Actually that happens sometimes too.

My main defense against overzealous DPS is to put a skull on a single target. Sometimes it is a priority target and sometimes I just put it up to give the DPS something to look at. Basically if all the DPS go crazy on one target while you are busy dealing with others it makes your job easier. It is relatively easy to stay ahead on threat on one target and worst case scenario you only have one thing to taunt if it takes you a little more effort than expected to corral everything.

While your DPS is concentrating on skull and and everything is under control you have some time to start building threat on everything else. Once skull dies you have two options: you can decide you have enough threat on everything and it doesn't matter what anyone kills or you can mark another skull and continue working. Depending on your group you can forgo the skull entirely, only marking priority kill or crowd control targets when applicable. Sometimes if everyone knows that mob X does something terrible they will attack it first and you don't have to worry about marking at all. I recommend a macro for marking a skull just to make things easier and 99% of your marking will be just that macro. You can find that macro as well as others in my listing of macros linked on the right.

I totally glazed over the whole pulling and whole making threat portion of that when it came to which abilities and when so lets fill that in now. First you have to get in melee range of your target(s) and for that there are two options: you feral charge or run in to them or you feral faerie fire and/or growl and make them come to you. It all depends on the situation. If there are casters in the group they generally wont come to you unless you hide behind an obstacle like a wall or column. That is called a line of sight (los) pull. Generally with casters it is easiest to just run in to them, but if there are other mobs around you dont want to pull or multiple casters spread out then it is often easier to bring them all together to you by getting thier attention and turning a corner.

If you just run/charge in you will start with demoralizing roar, which will reduce the damage things hitting you can do, and swipe to hit everything around you. You'll then position yourself so that everything is in front of you spamming swipe all the while as well as other focuses attacks as needed. If you marked a skull for example you are probably going to need to hit it with more than just swipe. When you are letting things come to you the process is much the same except that you might just want to swipe and then demoralizing roar only after everything is around you.

For your more focused attacks you will be using mangle and faerie fire every time they are up in addition to lacerate which you spam while mangle and faerie fire are on cooldown. You will also refresh demoralizing roar as needed. Your primary threat/damage generator is maul which you queue up for your next autoattack which it then replaces. Basically you have a button to hit every single potential white attack, but of course that is stupid so instead you will include it in macros combining maul and all your other attacks and forget it even exists. With one minor exception if you have the glyh of maul, which most tanks will, you will have to keep in mind you will always be hitting two adjacent targets. I have my macros set up so that if I need to I can hold down a modifier key like shift and not use maul when I need to only hit one target when there is crowd control nearby or such.

So here you are in a puddle of mobs making sure they stay where you want them. You should cycle through them by clicking or tabbing to see if any need additional threat and in general just to bop them on the head a couple times for good luck. Should one run away you can growl to bring it back and them make sure to whack it good and hard so it sees the error in its ways and doesn't try it again. Ideally we'd hit the DPS, but that is an invalid target. In addition to growl which only matches threat of whoever pulled it you can faerie fire it as well to put yourself a little bit ahead.

If your growl is on cooldown and you like that DPS enough to not let them be pummeled then it is time for a field trip. Charge the mob or run after it being careful to strafe to avoid being hit in the butt too much and set up shop again once you have it. Tanking is a very fluid process and a lot of what you do is in reaction to changing circumstances.

Sometimes you will have adds come into play, sometimes body pulled, sometimes part of the fight and sometimes they are close and you just want to hit them. If there are only one or two you can generally faerie fire or growl at them to get them to you if there are more or they are casters and don't more you will have to run over and collect them like you would any other pull instead of treating it like someone pulled it off you.

There are occasions where you can't get everything together and you are forced to tank a couple casters in two places at once. If your DPS is concentrated on one like they should be then you can concentrate on that one and use faerie fire on the other to keep it off the healer as well as staying ahead of any splash AOE damage that might be hitting it. If DPS are hitting both then you run around like a crazy bear and try and keep them focused on you. That would also be a good time to pull out that skull macro and mark one hoping they take the hint.

So basically being a bear means spamming a lot of buttons and keeping an eye on things. It doesn't even really matter what buttons you use half the time so long as you have things under control. Over time you will develop a sense of when certain abilities are better than others, but it always depends on the situation and how you are feeling that day. Sometimes you just want to hold threat and other days you want to try and out DPS everyone at the same time.

Now that you have a bunch of things hell bent on beating you senseless you have to think about staying alive. Sometimes you know when you are going to take more damage and sometimes you don't. For the times when you know it is coming you can make sure you have a cooldown ready to use to negate it. Otherwise you use your best judgment of what to use when and how many defensive cooldowns to blow at any one time.

Your most commonly used cooldown is barkskin for a straight up damage reduction for everything that ails you. It is on a relatively short one minute cooldown with can be shorted further with a set bonus. It is good to use even if you notice someone else is getting low and you are taking constant damage just to take pressure off the healer(s).

Next up we have trinkets which are generally on a two minute cooldown and have a variety of effects. The ones we are interested in using more often are the ones that increase armor or dodge and those that absorb damage. The trinkets that restore health of award temporary hit points are useful in other situations mentioned later. These trinket cooldowns require a little more thought than barkskin which helps with everything for example an armor increase isn't going to help with spell damage. When a trinket is applicable to you current situation use it like you would barkskin, but more sparingly. If things are really bad you can use barkskin and a trinket at the same time.

Our last line of defense is survival instincts and frenzied regeneration both on three minute cooldowns. They are most effective when used together, but it is often beneficial to save one when you can. For example if you healer goes down and death is imminent use both, but if you took a couple big hits in a row and your healer has been keeping up otherwise then just blow survival instincts and save the frenzied regeneration. Frenzied regeneration on it's own is still a very powerful cooldown and even better when coupled with the glyph of frenzied regeneration which increases healing done to you while it is active. Which means anything a healer does to you in that time is amplified. Trinkets which temporarily increase your maximum health are also good to use before frenzied regeneration since the amount healed is based on your total health.

The hail mary saves are healing potions, healthstones and any other trinkets or items that restore health. When you are getting really low and are pretty sure you will die then the few thousand health granted by these items just might be enough to give your healer time to get a heal off. There isn't really benefit of using these at any other time as the amount healed just isn't enough to warrant it and then you'd of lost the ability to use it later in the fight when it might help.

One of the most important parts of being a bear tank is to remember that you are also a druid and have more flexibility than any other tank. For starter if you are tanking an instance with someone else you can flip to cat form when not needed to tank for extra damage. Given our wearing a lot of DPS gear to tank and the fact that many talents are used for both tanking and damage we can put out pretty good DPS in a tanking spec and tanking gear.

Sure you should be in bear form whenever you are being hit, but sometimes for a pull of a lull in combat while a boss ignores you to do something there are opportunities to use other forms and abilities.

Before a pull you know if going to have a lot of up front damage you can hot yourself up.

You can use cat form and dash when you need to be somewhere in a hurry. The best use of this I have found so far is in violet hold where you have the portal on the far left that spawns a patrol that splits into two directions. You can cat dash from the opposite side and flip to bear to catch them all in place before they split.

You can stealth to check things out around a corner or to mark before making a pull.

Balance spells can be used to pull targets from multiple places at once if you use a wrath on one, moonfire on another one or two, flip to bear and faerie fire a third or fourth before they reach you. There is always hurricane as well to AOE a group and pull them from a distance.

You can do your own crowd control by rooting, cycloning or hibernating to pull. If you have enough distance on your targets you can even do two or all three in a single pull.

When you find a moment you can resurrect your own healer in battle or innervate them if they are low on mana. Often there isn't the opportunity, but sometimes there is.

If things are going really bad and you think you can get away with it you can even cast tranquility and heal you entire party. Many bosses and mobs don't hit the tank all that hard, but pummel the party or raid which is a perfect opportunity to pop tranquility and heal yourself and those around you. Even if you take a little more damage you are healing yourself.

Still you are a bear most the time, but those few times you get to be a druid can really make a difference.

Kitty "Rotation"

I start out stealthed and do the whole flying cat thing (feral charge) opening followed by a pounce. The bleed effect ignores armor so is usually more damage than a ravage, plus if the mob can be stunned it is leaving me a window of opportunity to go ape on it while the tank is still building aggro. For short fights where the mob will die sooner than your pounce would last or for a lot of up front ravage is a better alternative, be careful with that initial aggro though.

First thing is first, have to get mangle up and keep it up. I am glyphed for a longer mangle which makes life a little easier. Once mangle is up it is time for a rake which is a cheap combo point or two as well as another bleed effect now enhanced by the trauma of the mangle, and more importantly 20% more damage on attacks from rend and tear since you have a bleed effect on your target. By this point it is possible to have 5 combo points, but probably only 4 so I shred up to 5 then savage roar.

Important: Mangle is a straight up replacement for claw so as soon as you take the mangle talent at level 50 or so. Remove claw from your bar as soon as you have it or you will be mocked.

Usually your first finisher is going to be savage roar to provide a nice damage boost the rest of the fight, but on short fights it is often not worth it. For extremely short fights, your target is going to die the next time you hit it, just use a ferocious bite. If it will take a few hits use a rip which will tick for more damage than a ferocious bite and is unaffected by armor. Sometimes if the fight is short enough and you know you are going to be entering combat it is beneficial to use savage roar anyway and have the buff ready for the next fight.

In general given a longer fight savage roar should be kept up all the time second in priority only to mangle. In the time it takes savage roar to run out it is possible to get off two rips under ideal circumstances. If I get really lucky with a chain of crits or otherwise have an increased chance to crit I may have some extra combo points to burn on a ferocious bite. It is important to make sure there is a bleed effect on the target before using a ferocious bite so that it is much more likely to crit given talent points in rend and tear.

Rip is third in priority to keep up as much as possible and if rip is not up then rake to keep that target bleeding as rend and tear gives a 20% damage boost to shred on bleeding targets. If possible it is best to fire off a rip after a trinket or tiger's fury to do more damage. Trick is an empowered rip will need to run out completely before you can rip again since a more powerful effect will be active if you try to reapply the debuff earlier.

Once savage roar is up it is a good time to start using trinkets, tiger's fury and berserk. Keep in mind that when talented tiger's fury will return some energy so try not to use it unless you are long on energy and will get the full benefit. Just the opposite is true of berserk, you want to have a bunch of energy ready to go to get the full benefit. Also note that you cannot use tiger's fury while berserked so if you can use it right before to boost your energy and damage up right before. That is pretty much the perfect recipe for a swipe spam right there if AOE is appropriate.

In the downtime between abilities I take the opportunity to faerie fire my target(s). It is an instant and it is ranged so if you get knocked back or thrown in the air or are otherwise unable to hit your target in melee then this is a great time to reduce their armor with faerie fire. The sooner you get it up the better I usually get it after my initial opener while I am waiting for energy to return.

For more than 3 targets and sometimes 3 for kicks swipe is my best friend. For an AOE group I often start with a pounce and maybe even a rake to get a couple combo points for a savage roar. Then if I am really feeling vicious I berserk in addition to blowing tiger's fury and trinkets before starting to swipe. Berserk cutting the cost of swiping in half leads to some serious burst AOE damage in a short amount of time. Sometimes a good time to use barkskin and survival instincts if you are talented for it to do a little "off tanking".

Another important thing to keep in mind when AOEing with swipe is that it isn't channeled like most other AOE abilities other classes use. This allows for some flexibility in how you use it as the situation changes. While those other loonies are using the rest of their AOE cast on the one or two mobs that are left you can switch to single target DPS right away and take them out much faster. Also if there are 3 mobs and someone pulls aggro leaving only two in AOE range you can flip to single target until that third one comes back.

Monday, March 16, 2009

3.1 Changes

Looking over the latest patch notes there were a few changes that caught my eye. The first of which was bear swipe being 360 degrees and not requiring a target.

Not sure what other bears think about this, but I actually prefer it the way it is on live. Call me old fashioned, but I like to use crowd control once in a while. I am already a bull in a china shop with my maul hitting two targets so I've always had to be extra careful which way I am pointing around crowd controlled targets. Takes a pretty dense tank to want stuff behind them anyway so even if I can hit things back there I doubt there will be anything to hit 99% of the time. The not requiring a target is kind of nice though.

Another nice thing was the removal of fishing and cooking training books, now you just learn everything from a trainer. They also got rid of the nat pagle quest requirement as well as the clamette surprise one. Makes life on alts easier. Now if only they did the same for first aid, or maybe they have and didn't mention it.

And last but not least, when you or someone else loots a badge everyone else gets one. That will save me a lot of double checking and even better let me skin sooner without having to wait for those looting slackers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I got it!

The essence of gossamer is all mine and I even got to play with it in a couple heroics after I got it. A very nice upgrade.

This also means I have no more feral upgrades to be gained from heroics with perhaps the exception of the helm from heroic oculus. Still I am thinking my chances of getting a better one raiding before then is pretty high so I am not too worried.

So it's time to start running heroics for healing gear! I have a list of a half a dozen heroics or so which can drop healing upgrades for me last I looked, will have to go through my healing gear again as I tend to upgrade it raiding and not update my list.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Time of the Alt has Come

My druid is pretty well set for gear and such so I have been spending increasingly more time on my alts. Sure the essence of gossamer still hasn't dropped for me so I run AN every chance I get, but other than that all my upgrades will come from raiding which I do 8.5 hours a week (seems a lot when you look at it).

So my two up and coming alts are a resto shaman and a rogue; there is also my good old hunter which was my first 70 and main for a while. It is looking like my shaman will be the next to hit 80. I am waiting for the hunter class to settle down a bit before I work on my hunter again, didn't fancy respeccing and pulling aggro off my pet with autoshot using aspect of the viper got old fast. My rogue is mainly a disenchanter for my own convenience as well as a tailor to make bags, so my goal it to just keep it leveled to the point where I can max my professions.

My resto shammy, Shiksa, has been resto since level 1, even though my first talents weren't till level 10 and I think I stuck my first few talents in enhancement anyway. Still aside from a few points in the enhancement tree for some flavor I am full resto. Back in the day my hunter was my DPS, my druid was my tank and this was to be my healer. Things changed, feral dps became viable and dual specs are looming on the horizon. Come 3.1 my druid will be a jack of all trades, literally. So that left my alts without purpose aside from me becoming more self sufficient with added professions and eventually having a second 80 to raid with (goodness knows one is not enough). I did enjoy running with two guild 10 mans back in BC.

I also have a death knight over on the horde side which I play with from time to time. My realm is pretty alliance heavy so the horde side is a little sad. My guild has a horde alt guild which runs 5-man content once or twice a month. I have been meaning to look into other guilds I may get more out of, but it is a lower priority since my work on the alliance side takes the majority of my time still.

So as far as leveling with a resto specced shaman goes, I like it. I get a good grasp on healing keeping myself and those around me from dying which keeps the skills sharp and lets me tweak my hot keys over a long period of time. I may not be able to kill things very quickly, but they can't kill me at all so there is a trade off. And actually when I get really crazy and pull 4 or 5 yellow mobs and a 6th and 7th comes along I think I dps pretty well comparatively since my magma totem scales very well with more mobs. Water shield keeps me topped off mana wise to lay in with chain lightening between heals. All in all a very interesting and different way to go about leveling. Now for a priest or druid I would not see resto as a very good leveling spec, but I have very little experience with priests.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hadronox Denied

I've been running Ajul-Nerub as much as I can trying to get the essence of gossamer trinket like a good little druid, but I swear the 2nd boss has to be one of the buggiest in the game.

I've only gotten guildies brave enough to run it a few times and of those 3 times twice Hadronox was bugged. The first time the adds never stopped coming and the boss never came up. We googled the issue and found that waiting outside the instance for 5 minutes resets the boss so we were able to kill the boss after doing just that.

Last night was a much worse bug, the trash actually killed the boss. I was totally not expecting that or I would of tagged the boss so I could loot it. So we never got to kill Hadronox at all and just went on and killed the third boss. Even checked back after the same group went to violet hold to see if the boss respawned, but he stayed dead.

It is almost as if some unseen force was trying to deny me my tanking trinket!