We killed 8/8 tonight in 3 hours!  WOOT!  What a Valentine’s present to ourselves!

Group Makeup:
Tanks: Paladin/Death Knight
Healers: Paladin/Druid/Holy Priest
DPS: Paladin/Rogue/Hunter/Mage/Priest


Gratz guys and fantastic job!  Go Firestorm!

DK Tank Basics: Gemming and Enchanting

There have been a few people interested in this information of late, so I thought I’d write up a post 🙂

MetaAustere Shadowspirit Diamond [81 stam/2% armor]
Yellow –  Fractured Amberjewel [40 mastery]
Red –  Fine Ember Topaz [20 parry/20 mastery]
BluePuissant Dream Emerald [20 mastery/30 stam]

Helm –  Arcanum of the Earthen Ring – purchased from the Earthen Ring quartermaster in Vashjir
Shoulders –  Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz – purchased from the Therazane Vendor in Deepholm [or the Inscription from the inscription profession if you have that]
Cloak – Protection [250 armor] – materials are Hypnotic dust x8 and Greater Celestial Essence x3
Chest – Greater Stamina [Hypnotic Dust x10, Heavenly Shard x4, Maelstrom Crystal x2] OR Peerless Stats [Heavenly Shard x3, Maelstrom Crystal x3]  Cheap alternates: Mighty Stats [Lesser Celestial Essence x2] or Stamina [Hypnotic Dust x5, Lesser Celestial Essence x1]
Bracers – Superior Dodge [Greater Celestial Essence x5, Volatile Air x1]
Gloves – Greater Mastery [Hypnotic Dust x10, Greater Celestial Essence x5, Maelstrom Crystal x2].  Cheap alternate: Mastery [Hypnotic Dust x1, Lesser Celestial Essence x1]
Pants – Drakehide Leg Armor.  Cheap Alternate: Twilight Leg Armor [still has agility, but this is an alternative if you’re just gearing – just remember that agility does nothing for you].
Boots – Mastery [Hypnotic Dust x10, Greater Celestial Essence x3].  Cheap Alternate: Earthen Vitality [Hypnotic Dust x2]

Weapon –  Rune of Swordshattering.  This provides 4% parry as opposed to the 2% stamina of Stoneskin Gargoyle.  Both are options though I typically see the Swordshattering on more geared tanks and the Stoneskin Gargoyle on newer to 85 tanks.  Personally, I’d recommend starting with the Swordshattering.

While the debate still rages in some circles on what death knights should stack, I recommend, as I always have, a balanced approach.  You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket with reference to the important stats.  And the amount you have of each will go up as you gear up.  The stats to focus on [in no particular order] are Mastery, Dodge, Parry.  Hit and Expertise are nice where you can get them but are something you won’t need to touch with gemming or enchanting.

I’m NOT a number cruncher in terms of theorycrafting.  I read ideas and try out what makes sense and approach things with a balanced eye.  I’m a casual raider, not hardcore and I’ve been told by the healers I’ve worked with that I’m solid and not squishy [I chat with my healers occasionally to make sure I’m not making their job difficult].  In terms of what I run in defense stats, I like to keep at least 13% dodge and 20% parry.  I also like what mastery I can get without sacrificing other stats and that goes up probably most markedly in terms of the three as you attain gear.

Please do gem and enchant your gear [even if you use cheap alternatives]!  That can actually make a marked difference.

Thanks for reading 🙂

From Death Knight to Jedi Knight

Well… we’ve been in a few days now 🙂  We got in the second day of early access, in fact [yeah we pre-ordered pretty early on].  It’s intense, but it’s been fabulous!

A bunch of old faces are around – Inq, Kanrad, Mikhaill and Khaella – all of whom follow this blog and most have commented before.  Of course, hubby and I are playing.  We’ve also picked up some of Kanrad’s real life co-workers.  We’re in a guild called “The Nerf Herders”.  I know, it’s probably one of the more overused guild names… we’ve seen at least 2 other variations on our server already.  But we settled on it and we like it 🙂  We’re on Shadow Hand – one of the more popular PVE servers, apparently.  For the last couple of nights we’ve had to wait in 30 minute queue times to get in.  So we start up the game early and either play WoW, or do something else while it sits in queue.

We hit level 10 that first night, got to 12 the second evening and have been steadily working and we’re now sitting at level 18, with our own starships already 🙂  I’ve got a couple of alts in the level 10-11ish range [getting to level 10 is easy once you know the basics… past that is more time consuming.  The altoholic I am, I already have one of each class rolled on our server, though most are still in the level 1-3 range.

But here is my main on SWTOR – Askevar, the Jedi Knight.  She did take the guardian tree [the one capable of tanking].  The most frustrating part at the moment is learning to keep threat…  it’s like starting all over again.  The main problem is that at low levels you have very little in the way of a method of keeping threat.  I did finally get a “presence” and a taunt… so it’s getting better.  We’ve done a couple flashpoints with guildies and some heroic 2s and 4s… so it’s just going to take time there.

On a further note, we are still not planning to quit WoW.  We did buy the access pass and such and are still raiding on our mains.  We’ll just have to see how multi-gaming works for us.

How NOT to Treat a Tank

I’ve been sick the last few days… sick enough that I didn’t log onto WoW till late in the day.  I felt like crap so I decided to queue as dps for VP… that way in case I did have to make a sudden exit/afk I’d be less of a hindrance to the group or could easily leave and not cause a problem.

Zone in – Halls of Origination.  The tank’s first words are “OMG I HATE THIS PLACE”, followed by “brb phone” and then he suddenly had to go.  I actually feel sorry for the people that actually happens to because I’ve seen that song and dance too much to actually believe it, but what the hey… we requeue and get a pally tank to replace him about five minutes later.  Not bad… until neither the tank nor the dps knew how to do the first boss… we managed it.  Me doing 25k didn’t hurt I suppose… and killing the snakes and hitting a lever… etc.  The tank naturally drops after that.

Well… I’m feeling okay at this point, so eh, I respec and requeue as tank.  We pick up a dps dk and continue.  We pull the next couple packs and get to the next boss room… where the healer is going  “WHO IS THE TANK?!?!?!?!”.  Okay, well maybe addons are screwed up or something.  I indicate I’m the tank now.

So we tackle the boss room with little issue and then come to the boss.  He does a decent aoe as he comes in that destroys all the troggs but also damages the party.  I give the healer, who has had a lot of mana trouble thus far, a moment to put it right and get their mana back [I sit and eat as well].  The healer then jumps on me about how now I need to be pulling the boss and gogogo!  He’s at half mana… which is not nearly enough… but okay.

I pull… he dies in the first set of alpha beams.  I rez him and get snarky comments about “threat fail”.  I’ve had the boss the entire fight… solidly… no moment of the boss running off right at the start or nothing.  But yeah, he dies again to the alpha beams and naturally that’s my fault.

I manage to finish the fight… through a very creative series of CD uses and Death Strike [how I loves that ability!].  Everyone else survives and the boomkin [doing a very decent 12k] drops party.  Okay, regroup and I attempt to vote kick the healer whose healing is subpar, but he’s become abusive.  Vote kick fails.  Fine.  I take the group to the last boss…  cue the 4k dps dk having a fit.  Not ASKING mind you for us to tackle the other bosses.

After all this, heck if I’m staying one second longer than I have to…  I’ve got an abusive healer who dies to bad and blames me for “threat fail” when the boss isn’t even near him or on him…  I’ve got a 4k dps dk who doesn’t have a clue and is becoming abusive…  And the hunter was decent, but nothing to write home about either.

Well the new person dies on the first inferno leap on Rajh… easiest VP they ever got.  The other dk either can’t be bothered to rez them or doesn’t know to and mine is already on CD from popping the healer back up.

Guys, seriously… if you want a full boss run, I’m one of the more accomodating people you’ll find.  But when I’m already feeling sick, waited a dps queue to tank and on top of that, am getting abusive language from the party for things that are beyond my control?  Yeah, not staying for that mess.  Good luck finding a tank who will.  The only reason I stayed as long as I did was because the rest of the party was happy for Rajh.

Maybe I’ll just stick to running instances with hubby from now on like he suggested…  At least I’ll have one ally then.

Raiding as a Couple from My Perspective

It’s always been amazing to me that the simple fact that my husband and I want to raid together is always taken as a sign that one of us [usually me] doesn’t deserve to be there.  I’ll fully concede that having space for two tanks is not always possible.  And we’ve paid our dues before and sat out together plenty of times.

For years, World of Warcraft has been our thing together.  It’s what we do and what we enjoy.  At first that didn’t include raiding but it eventually evolved to that point.  And the reality is that raiding without my husband is ridiculous.  It’s asking us both to give up our evening together [which is our time together].  And while I don’t mind one of us filling in every once in a while, I truly resent someone telling us that we’re going to raid separately and like it or else.

The other assumption that we get is that we’re demanding to go on every raid.  We don’t. We’ve been truthful in being up front with guilds we’ve joined about what we want and what we expect. If they can’t give us what we’re looking for, we’re quite happy to look elsewhere.

In truth, we didn’t expect to be in progression with our new guild. Being the new kids on the block and both being tanks didn’t exactly put us in the number one choice spot, but we’d been given the alt run to co-tank and do with as we pleased. They didn’t have tanks for it or a raid leader to organize it and we could provide both those things. Circumstance happened and we ended up co-tanking the progression run and bringing a pair of alts to the alt group.

I’ve dealt with rostering couples before and while not easy, it can be quite rewarding if you’re able to get it done. You get two people moving in sync and that can be a pretty powerful advantage to the raid [one of my previous ten mans had 3 couples working togther and we could be an impressive crew if I do say so myself]. The underlying assumption we’ve always worked with is that both people in the couple will do their best to maximize and continue to earn their keep, as it were. That’s how we did it in our previous guild… if one wasn’t qualified and they wanted to raid together – they’d both get sat and told why.

As for ourselves, we’ve always taken running as a couple as challenge to do better and better. We both need to deserve it and, not to be conceited – we both do. Back in Burning Crusade when I was a lock [hubby was still a paladin], we actually raided very little, because they seldom had a spot for the two of us. It was all good – truly.

I’ve been asked before how I can stand to co-tank with my hubby… that fulfilling the same role as their S/O drives them batty… Well the reality is that it’s quite easy for us. Being co-tanks and having been co-tanks since Naxxramas days, we’re incredibly in sync with each other. Our raid and guild leading experience only enhanced that connection. You could even say that we push each other to become better tanks. It also doesn’t hurt that hubby is the one who taught me how to tank. Yes, I learned to tank as a death knight from a paladin. [I learned the specifics of dk tanking on my own of course].

A lot of the “most annoying” or “most challenging” aspects of tanking are gone – out the window with a tank couple. Tank swaps? Not a problem. No ego to worry about on the other tank who might not be willing to share aggro. Sudden tank death? Not an issue. Hubby goofed one week and fell off Beth’s web. I hop up to manage Beth between drones while they battle rez him – just in time for him to pick up the next drone. Perfect complementing each other, magical timing, anticipating the other’s moves… And it actually feels that good. 🙂 We don’t have to mark on trash, we know who’s going to pull what, when and have known for quite some time. We each have fights and areas we excel at – and one class might be better than another on some fights. We try and optimize that where we can.

Our rhythm is so good and so second nature in fact, that on our first run with the new guild we had to throttle it back… actually make some of the calls on vent and let them get a feel for how we work.

The most common question we get, to our amusement is who the main tank is. We actually don’t have one between us. When we started in Naxx, we would have agreed that hubby [Venoym] was unquestionably the main tank. But we maintain our toons so evenly that neither is “better” geared. And again, we both excel at different fights. Venoym also has at least a year on me in tanking experience. It honestly depends on the fight regarding who is actually the main tank… some fights a block tank is more of an advantage in a certain role – whether that be “main” tanking or “off” tanking.

I’m not saying we’re the best – by any stretch of the imagination. But we ARE good. We ARE solid. We’re good alone and even better together.

On another note – Please feel free to check out my husband Venoym’s blog – Holy Necromancy. His updates will probably be much more spaced out than mine as he’s not a big blogger but I’m trying to get him to blog more frequently.

State of the Toons:

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted so I thought I’d give a “state of the toons” post.  I have a few other posts in mind and some of those should get developed soon 🙂

My Main
Askevar – I’ve been busy.  🙂  Hubby and I actually ended up changing servers and now we’re on Azuremyst in Eff the Ineffable.  Askevar’s been capping her VP most weeks, or near enough and she only needs two more pieces of VP gear for mainset.  She’s tanked in Firelands once and is scheduled to go again tonight.  We also managed our Defender of the Shattered World titles.  We’ve gotten to see downings of Shannox and Beth’tilac as well as the Effer’s first Baleroc downing!  I’m currently working on all the new Loremaster achievements and edging toward hubby’s 11k achievement points :P.  I’m 6 pets shy of having 150 – so I really need to get on that too!

Toon Army
Askalaphos, Alika, Allixie, and Arica [now Aricaa] all came to Azuremyst as well.   Alika and Allixie are still my primary alts and Askalaphos and Aricaa I enjoy playing on occasion but want mostly for their professions.  Hubby also insisted I xfer my mage, Aulao,  to our third account for free ports yo.  Most of the rest of my toon army have gone into what I call “semi-retirement” on Thorium Brotherhood.

New Alts
To be honest, I’m playing less and getting more done, or at least that’s how it feels.  We raid – we’ve done t11, t12 and also some retro stuff in the last few weeks and hubby and I are leveling a couple new toons each.  I’m leveling a resto druid which is paired with this fourth pally on this server and I’m also trying to catch up a new shaman to his rogue [he’s leveling that to help with the insane title].  So in the evenings we often run a random or two on either those or our mains for VP.

Thorium Brotherhood
While I said truthfully that most of my Thorium toons have gone into some semi-retirement state, I did roll another Askevar death knight over there, named Askevar [but who I’ll dub Askevar3] who is already level 60.  And I also got a level on my resto druid over there – Poem [mostly because waiting for hubby on the other druid is a pain at time :P].

Argent Dawn
I still log onto Holykau over on AD – very occasionally.  I got invited by a guild group in that horde guild to do a ZA run and then got ditched after the second boss when one of them apparently didn’t get the item the wanted, so I’ve honestly had less time for that guild due to that rude behavior – Kau has always had better luck pugging than guild groups.  I’ve actually started working on the AD disc priest a little more ally side.  She was stuck at level 80 for months and months… well, really since Cata hit.  She’s now 83 and I’m catching a random on her once a day or every other day rather than questing, so she’ll eventually hit 85.  Askevar2 will probably be sitting till Brewfest hits and we have that holiday dungeon to hit.

That’s pretty much it.  Life is good, both in and out of game 🙂

Tanking and Healing Ahune

The Midsummer event provides us with another instance to grind every day for JP and 353 ilevel cloaks.  I’m going to recommend here and now that if you can viably tank or heal the boss – do so!  While both [though moreso healing] provide a few tense moments, the queue is much faster and will in turn make everyone else’s queue [including your alts] faster.

The messenger guarding the ice stone is inconsequential.  A single cloth dps can easily burn them down without problem.  Half the time he’s being killing as my screen comes up from the zone in and I honestly don’t care.

You talk to the ice stone to engage the event.  Immediately a large add pops up that you’ll want to quickly wrangle.  The add does a melee aoe, so if you’re ranged – DON’T stand in it.  Healing two people is annoying, three is dicey and 4-5 standing it in is going to probably be a dead group.  Healers, don’t be afraid to use emergency heals for melee and the tank here, there’s actually quite a bit of time to recover mana because the damage lulls somewhat after the big add.  You’ll probably be throwing efficient heals and keeping everyone up as long as people don’t stand in every single bad.

Once the big add is dead, you’ll deal with a flurry of little adds.  Do your best to “tank” them although you won’t be able to keep threat on them all.  Just keep throwing out aoes and dps and in most cases, half of them will die before they get to you.  Also watch out for runes on the ground that indicate where the ice spikes will come up – avoid those as much as possible.

When the boss submerges, gather up aggro on the last few little adds and go dps the boss.  You’ll want to kill him in two submerges at most [it can get dicey with healer mana beyond that] and one is even better.  Continue to watch for the runes because they do pop up in the snowy area and can be hard to see.

After each submerge phase, another big add pops up that must be tanked.  Rinse, repeat.

If the boss dies near to re-emerging, then take care to watch for an add because sometimes it glitches and spawns anyway.  Tank it, kill it.  You can’t loot the chest while in combat.

This DOES need a healer spec/gear to heal and a tank spec/gear to tank.  Please don’t try to tank or heal as a dps.  That’s already caused issues in several groups for me this morning with people that thought they could.

A couple other trivia/pet peeves thus far:

1. Tanks, don’t let the healer tank the little adds in favor of dpsing the boss on the submerge phase.  Secure the adds FIRST, then dps the boss.  All dps should go immediately to the boss.
2. Hunters – your pet isn’t going to get heals if you send it on the boss.  I recommend to keep it on passive and send it in on the big adds and the submerge phase.  Same goes for melee who dps the boss while he’s not in submerge phase.

If you’re not sure about your tank/healing sets, just give it a single go and pug it.  Worst case scenario is that you get cussed out by people you’ve never met and will never see again.  Big whoop.  Best case, you practice your skills at tanking and healing, get a faster queue and possibly some loot.

Bribe? Declined.

The Call to Arms thing is under lots of discussion in the blogosphere.  It’s THE topic to discuss.

Bribing me to tank randoms for randoms as a solo queue for mounts/pets/gems/gold/flasks?  No thanks.

My main [the death knight tank] has all the mounts and pets she can get.  She can cut her own gems and I have alts to farm raw materials.  She has the gold to buy what she needs and I have a flask maker of my own as well as several guildies who’ve given me a hand.

My alts?  Well…

the pally that was prot/ret went holy.

the feral kitty/bear doesn’t use her bear spec anymore

the prot/fury warrior is now fury only…  I paid the money to drop the tanking spec and leave it blank.

I might throw a tanking spec on my second dk… maybe.  But I won’t be queueing for random heroics with her – normals at best as a tank and I’m not really enticed to do that.

No Blizz, this isn’t enough to get me into LFD tanking randoms for morons who sit there and sling abuse at me.

What would?

If tanking were an easier job I might throw some tanking specs back on my toons and queue.  Fighting the people AND twitch gaming in the instances is too much to ask.  If I queue on my main solo – it’ll be as a dps – even given these perks.  I’d rather wait the 30-40 minutes than deal with the abuse of pugs.  Well, personally, I’d rather just run with guildies and short-circuit the whole LFD thing.

From queuing on my hunter in heroics it seems the expectation for tanks is to now be chain pulling groups without CC – even in heroics.  If the tank or healer can’t handle that – abuse is thrown their way.

Blizz, you’ll get a small upswing in the number of tanks queuing for heroics… but you’re addressing the symptom – not the problem.  In a month or two, we’ll be right back here where we are now – presuming this upcoming patch drops sometime in the next couple months.

But yeah, I’m declining this bribe.  Here’s hoping you can hook some actual tanks and not more dps tanks.

Random Thoughts…

Well, I took part of my morning and cleaned my account of most of the extra toons.  I kept a few on servers where I have friends [ie the Effers] but other than that I went through and deleted all the extras…  I still had level one toons that have been sitting for two years and never even played.  I deleted total about 20 toons.  The lowbies just got deleted and all the extra death knights picked someone at random and traded them the gold they had.  Someone might as well use it right?  And with the BoAs supposedly becoming bind to BattleNet, I may want to roll some new toons at some point, or develop the ones I have on other servers first :P.

My priest is 3 Tol Barad commendations away from having her spirit trinket.  It’s a little frustrating as we’re sure not to win today again.  The win quest alone would get me what I need.  But alas, I shall get the trinket tomorrow for sure.

Cardboard Tanks
I’ve discovered a new phenomenon.  The “Cardboard” tank.  We all know what a tank is, and what a “dps tank” is.  But what is a “Cardboard tank”?  They are a special breed with decent gear and appropriate tanking specs that are insanely squishy – as in, I have to dump most of my mana bar each pull – on just the tank.  When I run across one of these on my healer, I just bow out of the instance.  To be fair, I always give them to the first boss, then politely bow out.

Now how can someone have the right spec and gear but still be squishy as a tank?  It’s very easy!
1. Don’t use your cooldowns – AT ALL.
2. Stand with your back to half the mobs
3. New tank.  [not a bad thing to be new but new tanks do tend to be more squishy]
4. Don’t take the talent in your tanking tree to be uncrittable
5. On top of any and all of the above – refuse to use CC.

Now your healer is dumping BIG heals on you and draining their mana each pull to keep you alive.  Even worse, Cardboard tanks RARELY watch healer mana.

On an aside, Lost City of Tol’Vir is also the bane of my existence as a disc priest because of the aoe damage, especially on the third boss.