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A raiding week

This week our raid managed to get almost all goals done that were set for the week. We cleared Naxxramas in a record time for us because we were able to take one more damage dealer than we did before since we only took five healers along. The only thing that we have not been able to accomplish is to down Sartharion with the three adds up. But when we finally manage to get him down and get more secure with that encounter, we will be able to clear the whole 25 man content on one evening.

On one hand I am looking forward to that point since it will free up some time during the week and since our guild will be starting a ten man raid soon this time is well needed. But on the other hand I have to say that it really shows that there is not too much raid content at the moment. I guess that once Ulduar has arrived with the next content patch the situation will change but since we will not be doing the heroic Naxxramas at that point I doubt that Ulduar will take too long to complete when our raid is able to focus on the instance on our regular three raiding nights.

Maybe a thing would be to get a twink run going but I doubt the critical positions would be filled and since the raid group would almost start from scratch again, I doubt that there would be too much interest. So, right now I focus on the good side of things, like seeing the progression of the raid when we get through the instance a bit faster each week and manage to get the achievements that some members still have open on some of the bosses.

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Sartharion 3D Training

Starting last week our raid has been trying to down Sartharion with three adds up. Unfortunately we were not able to get it done and, after a long evening of wiping again and again, settled for downing him with only two adds. This beeing the first time for me that he was downed with two adds, the evening ended with an accomplishement for me.

But still wiping for several hours is something of a strain. Especially if there are stupid mistakes happening again and again. I myself died a few times because I did not manage to get out of the blue circles or did not manage to evade the flame tsunami in time. It can get quite frustrating to continue while not seeing any progression.

But then, with all the discussion about the raid content beeing to easy, I found myself thinking that trying out new challenges and getting better with an encounter is one of the main reasons why I like raiding. Sure, getting better gear is a nice thing but ultimately you are going to replace the gear you have quite fast. Yesterday I read a post at Pugnacious Priest that mentioned that raiders already talk about raiding being pointless because the gear will become obsolete really soon when Ulduar goes live.

So, even though it can get frustrating to wipe a lot while training, overcoming the chalenges and improving myself is what makes raiding fun. So bring on some more wipes …

A run with two deathknights

As I am still leveling my priest to 80 I am doing quite a lot of instance runs at the moment. Some where with pickup groups and some with members of my guild. Yesterday we ran the Halls of Stone with a frost specced Deathknight tank another Deathknight who was unholy spedded as a damage dealer.

I have previously complained a bit about some of the deathknight tanks I have grouped with in the past but the only complaint that I might have this time was that healing this time was … well … a bit boring since there was not that much to do for me.

The tank layed down death and decay and then used her death grip to pull. Sometimes when there was more than one caster in the group the other deathknight also used his death grip to pull that on into the aoe as well. Since he is wearing plate and can interrupt casters, that was no problem as well.

Despite the fact that this was more a guild run I would say the difference to some of the other runs was that our tank knew what she was doing and had taken the time to assemble a decent gearset for tanking. She was not at the 540 defence cap but close enough so that the damage was mitigated very well.

To me, that proves the point that Deathknights can be very good tanks if the player puts in the effort to make it so. And with the armor pieces that can be crafted it is not that hard to get started. Sure, if you want to tank heroics and have to get over the defence cap, that takes more effort but since tanks are still in high demand I would say that it is more than worth it.

Raid Speed

It is only natural that a raid that does Naxx every week gets faster as time goes by. For some time now, we have been able to clear Naxx on one day in the set time and the last few ids we had some time to spare. Now, to get through even faster we decided to take only five healers along and take one more damage dealer instead.

Some boss fights, most notably Patchwork, was a bit more challenging for the healers but for the most part it went really well. We were able to get through the trash pulls a lot faster and the bosses went down noticably faster as well.

For me as a healer this is both good and a little bad as well. Going through the trash mobs I found myself often running low on mana and having some problems keeping up with the tanks. And since there is a more to heal for the individual healer because there is one healer less, situations can become a bit frantic. Fortunately most damage dealers in our raid know to help us a bit by keeping track of their aggro and using a healthstone or a potion when it gets rough.

On the other hand the boss fights do not take as long as they used to which means that the healers do not run out of mana there. And that means that you do not have to conserve mana as much as you had to before. During very long boss fights mana was somewhat of an issue for me even with all the new spiffy ways to regenerate mana that came with the expansion.

But after all, the most important thing is that the raid frees up time for the rest of the week when the whole content can be done in one session. That might lead to the formation of a second group for the twinks or just plainly to some free time outside of the game. So I guess I will ultimately become a fan ot the five healer setup for our Naxx raid.

Dual speccing

Wowinsider reported about some changes with the dual spec feature that is coming with patch 3.1. Apparently players can use it starting at level 40 and there will be no need to have a reagent. In the previous incarnation it was said that you would have to have an item crafted by an inscriber but that seems to have been dropped. Now you only have to cast something which will take about five seconds and after that your talents, glyphs and action bars will have changed. And so you will be able to change your specc in the middle of an instance or raid.

Since I do play a restoration druid as well as a protection paladin, I am excited about this new feature. There are times when I would not fit into a group for a heroic instance because we would have had two healers and soon I will be able to go along as a damage dealer. Sure, I will have to collect some gear and actually have to learn how to do damage as a druid but I will at least have the option. I however doubt that this feature will be the solution to the tank and healer shortage. There are plenty of viable healers and tanks available right now and being able to respec will not raise that number. The problem in my opinion is that some people just do not want to tank for various reasons.

1. Responsibility
As a tank you are the one person in the group who has the most responsibility. You set the pace and you decide which mob to take care of first. If there is crowd crontrol available, the tank usualy decides which mob will be controlled. And if something goes wrong and another group member manages to grab aggro the tank has to react quickly and get the situation back under control. Aside from that, the tank has to know his own class and know how to minimize the incoming damage while generating enough aggro so that the damage dealers can do their job as well. So, generally it is easier to play a damage dealer since you only have to know your class and most of the time are told what target to hit.

2. Equipment
Getting to a point where one can really tank heroics and raid instances takes some time. It is not that easy to hit that magic at which when you become uncrittable. It takes some planning to learn in which instance the next piece of gear dropps or which faction will yield the next gear improvement. Sure, that is basically the same for other classes as well but when I look at most of the people I have grouped with it does not seem like many players really do that.

3. Conflict
When you are the one who is supposed to be the one who is setting the pace and there is a problem within the group most players will look at the tank to be the one solving it. This is something that some player shirk away from.

Undoubtedly, the new feature is a very good one and maybe I am wrong in my accessement. It might very well be that the option to have a tanking spec will lead to people getting interesting in giving tanking a try. If that happens there might be a few new tanks and that really would be a relief.

Twinking in Naxxramas

In our 25 man Naxxramas raid we are thinking about allowing players to come along with their twinks. Since it seems that most items are going into second equips or to our enchanter, this decision does not come as a big suprise. But as always there are some problems with taking twinks along. We tried to solve these problem by giving some minimums that the twinks have to bring. This way we want to make sure that the nessesary equipment and dps is there so the raid does not loose too much speed on our Naxx runs. But that does not solve the problem with the key classes. I guess our main tanks are not willing to take a great risk since the raid leaders declared that no twink tanks will be taken along. For me as a healer I guess that is not the worst thing since healing someone who is a bit underequipped can be challenging. But I wonder if the tanks should not have the chance to take their twinks along. But with the stats that are required so that a twink can go along, it will take some time before I could even think about taking one of my twinks to Naxx.

Good think my druid still needs some stuff from there for both his healing and feral gear … And for my protection paladin, I am still hoping that our small guild will manage to get a ten-man group going.  In BC we ran Kara and Zul Aman and really had fun there so I guess it will happen again.

Deathknight tanking

I am currently leveling a priest through Northend and since I am in a very small guild I did some instance runs with pick up groups.

On our server finding a tank for a pickup group is quite hard. There are just not that many tanks around. We had the same problem even though we had two paladins and a deathknight in the group. After some discussion the deathknight decided that he would try to give tanking Utgarde Keep a try. So a few minutes later he had respecced frost and we had easily found another damage dealer.

Well, I guess the player was a bit young and inexperienced but after loosing aggro with every group and very nearly dying a couple of times the deathknight randomly had a disconnect and did not come on again. Luckily for us, one of the paladins stepped up and respecced. With most gear from Karazhan that player was very easy to heal and the instance sailed by very smoothly.

Two days later I was invited into a group for Ahn’Kahet and suddenly the same Deathknight was invited into the group as a tank. I raised my eyebrows when he immediately apologized to another member of the group for having a disconnect earlier that day but I guess that is a story for another day …

To make a long story short, he tried to tank the instance at level 71 without really having defence gear and without much experience as a tank. Suffice to say that we could not get the first boss down. This time, the deathknight left the group but we were very lucky to find a warrior who did an excellent job at holding aggro.

Despite these two experiences I have to say that Deathknight can make very strong and very good tanks. The problem is not with the class but rather with the players who pick the class and do not really look into what has to be done to be able to tank. There are some talents that are very helpful for tanking and that really should be used to mitigate the incoming damage. And as a tank one should try to get a decent set of tanking gear. I am not saying that you have to be at the defence cap to be able to tank but as a tank one should at least try to get as close as possible to that magic number. It makes tanking easier and it really makes the healer’s job a lot more enjoyable.

Personally I do not think that the class will solve the problem with the tanking shortage. Sure, in theory every Deathknight has the potential to be a viable tank. But that does not make the player be suitable to be a tank. One problem is that in general, the tank is the one member of the group deciding the pace at which the group goes through the instance. He decides the order in which the mobs are taken down and mostly when and how to use crowd control. When a damage dealer or the healer grabbs aggro, the tank has to react and get the mob back under control. And last but not least he has to know the instance and the bosses. All in all, it is a position with more responsibility as the rest. It is easier to play a damage dealer where you basically can focus on your own skills and your own rotaion. So it is no suprise that most of the Deathknights on our server are played as damage dealers.


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