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Acheivements, Alt Raids, Learning to Tank, and That Bastard Al’Akir

June 23, 2011

So, I’ve been pretty bad about updating recently.  Sorry about that.  I’ve had things I wanted to talk about, but then I open up the new post page and look at all that blank space and posting feels like so.  Much easier to run back into the game or go read a book or something.  (Lazy druid is lazy.)  :/

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

The Midsummer holiday is here, which means I was finally able to finish all the holidays and earn my Violet Proto-Drake!  Sure, it was a huge grind, but I enjoy the holidays so getting this achievement was generally fun.  However, I note that I’ve barely participated in PvP since Children’s Week.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Oh, Children’s Week!  How you have ruined my fledgeling enjoyment of PvP!

Starting up Alt Raids

About 3 weeks ago we decided it would be a good idea to start up an Alt Raid on Sunday nights.  Our first week was a great success – we had about 13 people show up and managed to down Magmaw, Omnitron and Maloriak, with some good attempts at both Chimaeron and Atramedes.  The second week we only had about 6 people show up, so we didn’t run it.  So disappointing.  😦

This last week we ran a poll to see which day would be best for Alt Raiding, and it looks like Sunday really is the best day for most people, so we’re going to stick with it.  I think it will be easier to field enough people once Firelands drops, because the alts will probably still be doing tier 11 content for the first while, allowing people to fill spots on their mains if necessary.

It’ll be good for us to have an Alt Raid going.  We’ll be able to gear up alts and new members.  Those who are new to raiding can get some experience.  People who are asked to sit out the main raid can still do some raiding with us.  We can test out new members in a lower stress environment.  I’m pretty excited about it, and I hope we have strong attendance going forward.

Tanking: Never Have I Been So Excited About Doing Something I Don’t Enjoy

I have a Druid, a Paladin and a DK at level 85.  All three of those classes are tanking classes.  And yet, I have long maintained that I am a terrible tank, and that tanking fills me with a bitter hatred for humanity.  I have asserted this based on my experience leveling my Pally from 10-40 as a tank in the dungeon finder.  How could I learn to tank when everyone just ran ahead pulling mobs as they pleased?  People didn’t want me to pull for them, but when I gave up and just started letting everyone do whatever they wanted they called me a terrible tank who couldn’t hold aggro.  What the hell did those people want from a tank anyway?  No matter what I did I got flak for it.  I either pulled too slow, or too fast, or not enough mobs, or whatever.  When I got to the really irritating maze-like dungeons everyone expected me to know my way around, and apparently it made me a bad tank if I didn’t know where to go next.  (Never mind that most other people didn’t know where to go either.)  As soon as I was able to dual spec her heals I never tanked again.  (And eventually I respecced her to Holy/Ret.)

I did tank on my Druid for a few months at the end of Wrath.  That was more fun, mostly because I only used my tank spec for full guild runs, (with the memorable exception of when I accidentally queued for a random as a tank, and then felt guilty about dropping group, so I tanked it anyway).  I even managed to successfully tank HHoR, which was not easy for a bear tank at the time.  Having a bear spec was also really useful for soloing old content and group dailies in Icecrown.

I never felt like I really knew what I was doing as a bear.  My aggro was shaky and I never got the hang of taunting mobs.  I lacked confidence so my pulls were tentative.  I still credit most of my success as a bear tank to the many skilled guildies who ran with me and saved my bear butt all the time.

Still, I’ve flirted with the idea of tanking for the last few months.  We’ve been so short on guild tanks, and I have three possible tanks at 85, so I’ve been feeling… almost guilty about not tanking.  Also, I really don’t like the new Ret playstyle, so I was thinking about maybe trying to tank on my Pally again… but it would be tough to gear up my Pally.  I hate playing Ret, so she has no Ret gear and I would do terrible dps in a heroic.  Her Holy gear is a bit better, but healing heroics on her is still dicey.  And honestly… I just don’t like Paladins in Cataclysm.

When we were short tanks for the Alt Raid the other week I jokingly suggested that I could put a tank set together on my DK… and the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me.  So I now have a DK tank.  It actually wasn’t too hard to gear her up.  I’d been squirreling away some BoE tank gear, just in case I went insane and decided to put together a tank spec.  (In other news, I have officially gone insane.)  I was able to fill some of the slots off the AH and with Valor boots.  (I know the Valor boots aren’t ideal, but I don’t have the rep yet for the better boots.)  A few lucky drops filled my remaining holes and suddenly, voila!  I have a decently geared Blood DK!

Putting together my action bars was more difficult.  Thankfully our off-tank is a DK and he was willing to go over all my abilities with me.  (He also helped out a lot by explaining tanking stats and looking over my gear.)  Unfortunately, the way I usually set up my keybindings for DPS didn’t seem to work with the large number of tanking abilities that I have, so I had to completely re-design how I keybind.  This has been mostly successful… I’m not entirely used to it yet, but it is set up more intelligently than before.

So far I have successfully tanked a number of heroic guild runs, including Stonecore and Zul’Gurub.  (Ozruk was a pain in the ass, but we managed to one-shot him despite my horrible tanking.)  I still don’t want to pug tank, though I did pug the Midsummer holiday boss yesterday because I didn’t feel like waiting in a 20 minute queue.  It went well, and holy crap!  Instant queues are totally awesome!

I’m finding DK tanking to be easier than bear tanking.  The ranged silence, D&D, Blood Boil, Death Grip and Death Strike are all awesome abilities that make tanking so much easier.  What’s really surprising though is that I’ve been having fun.  That’s right, me!  Having fun tanking!  Who knew?

That Bastard Al’Akir

Our guild is 11/12 on Tier 11 content.  We’ve managed to down Cho’gall and Nefarian.  The only boss we have yet to kill is Al’Akir.  I hate Al’Akir so much.

I can see how Al’Akir had potential to be a fun fight.  Unfortunately, the random RNG nature of the first phase combined with the horribly frustrating flying in the third phase has turned it into a fight that absolutely no one wants to work on.  (Which is why we didn’t work on it for so long… no one wanted to do it.)  It’s like this expansion’s version of Malygos.

We finally seem to have a handle on the first phase, and were blowing through it rather quickly last night.  There were still some attempts where one group would have a bad string of RNG and die, but it seems more manageable now.  Phase 2 is also going much better.  The Stormling adds are dying in a more timely fashion, so we’ve been able to get the Feedback up to about 4-5 stacks.  Occasionally the Stormlings seem to bug out though… There were a few times when he just didn’t seem to summon any for an outrageously long period of time, which caused the stacks to fall off.  We were just waiting, looking around for Stormlings… nope, still no Stormlings… wait some more… It was frustrating.

Phase 3 is the real bitch right now though.  Memo to Blizzard: Please stop designing fights with flight mechanics.  They are frustrating as hell and we hate them.  We don’t want them.  Do not force them on us.  Kthx.

I’ve been reading over Al’Akir strats today, and I think there are some changes we can make so Phase 3 is hopefully a little easier.  I really want to get him down this week before the nerfs, which means we only have tonight.  😦

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2011 4:20 pm

    Phase 3 is easy if everyone stacks up. The only person who should move is the one with lightning conductor. They should move down below the raid. Once the lightning clouds come out then everyone needs to move down. We had a guildie tell everyone to use their sit key (I guess it is the X button) to move down. That seemed to help people.

    The fight boils down to people being able to avoid the bad. If you have people who have problems with that then the fight is horrific.

    Personally, after killing Nef, this guy was a cake walk.

    • June 23, 2011 5:29 pm

      See, you’d think that Nef would be more difficult, wouldn’t you… The problem is partially one of morale. People feel like this fight is unfair – too dependent on RNG and with a crappy flying mechanic. I feel like people don’t really want to try because they feel like it doesn’t matter how well they play, the RNG is going to get them anyway.

      Stacking sounds wonderful, but doesn’t he continue to do chain lightning in phase 3? I figured that the chain lightning would make it impossible to really stack.

      • June 23, 2011 5:32 pm

        I honestly don’t remember if he did. I do know that we only had one person dead in our kill of him and I think he died before phase 3.

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