Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Heroics

As you can see from the recent look at the armory, this week's big news is that my team has finally become a team of more than one level 80! Navarionae has been approaching the mark for a few weeks now, and the instance leveling has been a fantastic way for him to get easy tanking experience while also leveling at a reasonable pace. Once he hit the upper half of level 79, he logged a final instance run, which was CoS and finished up with some Icecrown questing to break through the final ding. I just had enough time to train his level 80 abilities and left the gear and other stuff for another day.

Well trying to figure out the calculus of how to get ready for tanking endgame content turns out to be quite annoying. You see, with healers, it's all about intellect and spellpower. We do not have to worry about hit, and we certainly don't have to worry about things like expertise, defense, and total health pools. We only have to hope our tank can figure all that out. What makes thing more complex is that defense rating does not correspond with the numbers on the gear. So if you get a neck piece that has 24 defense, your defense rating only goes up 5-7. When you ask people what you need to do to get ready to tank a heroic, even my closest tank friend says "you need def cap which is 535 for heroics and 540 for raids" and "you should have a health pool of 26k unbuffed." Apparently these people forgot how hard it is to find gear prior to running said heroics or grinding said emblems. I was able to get a great 245 tanking ring from the triumph emblems during daily regular instances, but even with buying gear on the auction house and putting all enchants and things together, I struggled to get past about 520 def. Not to mention putting every gem towards defense means my health pool is middling around the 20-22k range. In other words, the calculus says I will be hit with the occasional critical hit in a health pool that cannot soak it up well. Yikes.

Yet again, learning how to be a tank makes you appreciate those people who do it all the time even more. Perhaps with the changes to gear stats in Cataclysm (defense is going away), tanks will not be as hard-pressed to figure it out. I still think tanks now forget how hard it is to get defense capped and enough stamina on the entry level gear to endgame. Nevertheless, I was so geeked out over being able to run two daily heroics that I figured, well...let's just see what happens. After all, I should be locked out from the really hard stuff. I finished up by filling the final glyph spot on Navar and doing some business with my banker, then into the queue we went.

The first instance that pops is UK. Breathing easy, sigh of relief. Was actually with four guildies from another server, and two of them were clearly carrying two relatively new 80's. I died a couple of times along the way, which slowed down the run but at least we did not wipe. Some funny moments like after we beat the Prince and took out 5 iceblocks, someone asks "I did not get iceblocked, why no achievement?" Much giggles were had by all. Two of the other members of the group were death knights, so I asked for some helpful tips and they were glad to help. I think they were just happy they did not get silence or a drama queen in their fifth slot. After downing Ingvar, they asked for another run but I declined, saying I need to get over to my other character and grind up badges. So one success in the book.

Logged over, popped into LFG, and up comes a loading screen I have not seen in a very long time. That's right, the wait for Oculus to pop is finally over. I explain to my groupmates that it's been a while, so apologies in advance if things are a bit sketchy. But I do know how to use a drake. On the bright side, the other four people stayed and the group pretty clearly overgeared the place. So we got going and there were some dicey moments, but our DPS was very solid and things were just going down with ease. As we're approaching the next to last boss with like 8 minutes on the timer, I realize...hey we've got a damn good shot at the "Make It Count" achievement. And sure enough, the last two bosses went down with 3 minutes to spare, which is amazing considering we really did not rush through the instance at all. No drake in the extra cache, but not complaining about a new achievement and an easy Oculus run.

And here's the kicker. The minor detail I left out is that I queue'd up first on Ekat, second on Navar. Yes, that's right. My first ever heroic on Navar was Oculus. Not only that, but I got an achievement I don't yet have on Ekat, partially because the instance has never popped for her. We had such a fantastic group, it apparently did not matter that I had a DPS-level health pool. I got 2 of the 4 people complimenting me at the end of the Oculus run via whispers, and anybody who understands the tank shortage on our battlegroup understands why they would be nurturing. But they seriously gave good feedback and said I was doing very well for someone who dinged 80 yesterday (and got the "dungeon and raid emblem" achievement off the first boss). So there you have it.

I believe despite Blizzard's sick sense of humor, there is a Santa Claus. Must be if I can tank heroic Oculus and have a group good enough to carry me.

I did get a little more help from my real life friends who tank more, including putting together a Titansteel Destroyer and some epic crafted gear. Heroic number two was H-OK, which went fine until my computer crashed. It does this from time to time and I cannot figure out why. Most annoying thing ever with the new system, as people are very quick to replace. Too quick, I think. I log back on in 2 minutes and I'm replaced, even as a tank. Ahh well, at least it went pretty well up until the disconnect, so it's more of a disgust with the circumstances than with the tanking.

Oddly enough I've farmed ToC 4 times since hitting 80 on regular mode, trying to get the 3-4 good tanking pieces from there. I have very bad luck with drops so far, but I'm also really struggling there. So it's clear that I have a lot to figure out as a tank, but there's only so much you can do with this gear. It seems weird, but maybe heroics are OK for me at this point, despite my low health pool. I can only get better by getting gear, and that seems to be the best way. I'll just have to deal with the ego trouncing when people get mad at me for not being the most uber-tank ever.

In the end, it's really nice to have another 80. His next projects other than gearing are getting more mining done and leveling up jewelcrafting. It's definitely expensive hitting 80, but thankfully none of my other characters is needing to spend much gold right now. Plus, leveling J/C will give me more market bang. Until next time, may your Oculus groups be good enough to carry tanks like me!


  1. I want to play with Navarionae a bit more! I apologize for being a bit unwilling the other day in Oculus.

  2. Congrats on the new 80. Welcome to tanking, by the way. I tank and heal on my Pally, so :p
    All in good fun, but I wish I had some of the DK tools. Deathgrip for caster fights would be great. "No don't stand back there I want a hug." I just can't get into a DK playstyle though.
    My shaman got to level 71, and is a bar and a half from 72. She is very well rested, so I hope to get her to 80 in the next week or so.
    I don't know about your guild, but mine has an influx of "tank/dps", but not so much of healers. So I am slowly painfully learning the process of healing on a shaman. But I got my rhythm all the way to the last boss in UK last night. I couldn't avoid the Dark Smash though, argh.

    Strats for regular dungeons what...?

    And by the way, sounds like the people on your Battlegroup are much nicer than on mine. If I don't bring my own healer, or at least 2 dps, I don't bother. Queue times as a healer are only a few seconds longer anyway. And I am maintanking and offtanking ToC 10, Ony 10/25, plus the weekly, so I don't think it's me.

  3. OMG, two comments to respond to! /excitedgiggles

    @Cantique - don't sweat it, I'm on Navar more than Ekat at the moment. There is a good chance we won't get Oculus (although I'm probably doomed to it now that I have the drake).

    @Arkaneena - we have bad people in our battlegroup and a spanish-speaking server that drives me up the wall. I'm lucky compared to my friends, who email every day about the next "huntard" or "jerk healer"