Thursday, 31 December 2009

More tanking practice

I've been trying to get a random group for Old Hillsbrad for Shank to tank, to compare with the death knight experience of the place. Since it still has an attunement it's not worked for me so far, but I do find the queue for randoms is quick.

There's still lots of room for improvement in my tanking - things like remembering to use Last Stand or potions (or even remembering to keep an eye on my own health), remebering to put Vigilence on someone in the group, and re-marking skull once the first target goes down (although frequently enough skull is the last target standing...!).

I also can't always remember which skills I have already on Shank, and which only on Grulgok, such as Intervene.

There are also various things about my setup to address, such as ensuring my camera is zoomed out enough to see caelNamePlates properly and what's going on in general. I also need to get a tanking configuration for Grid, especially to show me if anyone other than myself has aggro.

I'm getting there though - and finding warrior tanking a lot easier than in the old days (walking uphill both ways through snow, etc...). Thunderclap (and Shockwave where necessary) are amazing against large non-elite packs, such as the skeletons at the end of Auchenai Crypts.

Meanwhile Grulnak half way to friendly with the Ashen Verdict, in search of a rather nice ring upgrade.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My least favourite role?

Having decided to quit the Alliance I'm going back through my list of things to try out properly by doing some instances on my Night Elf hunter!

I wanted to make sure I had a decent view of the pure dps role, and ever since hunters were the definitive raid pullers (and the better ones the kings of crowd control) the class has appealed to me.

I'm glad to have tried it, having found that their utility and survivability - plus the tactical aspect of having a pet - makes them my favourite DPS class.

Thanks to Dungeon Finder I managed to find a couple of groups to Hellfire Ramparts. Although the main lesson there was don't use DF during daytime, with one of the groups turning out to be incredibly juvinile.

In one group the tank was very inexperienced - but was good enough to forwarn us of the fact - so I even got to do some old-school hunter pulling. The tactical view that you get as a ranged DPS, the ability to rescue the healer with your personal tank (and be gratefully noticed!), the ability to survive bad pulls - or even complete them yourself after a near-wipe - all add an extra facet to the DPS role that makes it more than about the numbers.

To do the role full time I'd need a lot more practice, but in the meantime I'm happy to put Adanadel to the top of my DPS alt list. And then retire him again.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Why I ??? tanking

Best feature of patch 3.3? Clearly the cross-realm Dungeon Finder. On the end-game side it may weaken the ties of guild, as PUG runs now appear to be the norm. On the enormous plus side, not only have the PUGs I've seen so far been far better behaved than you might expect (although no brighter or able to express themselves without l33t speak) but also it's really revitalised the pre-end-game experience, as you can now realistically run instances again with same-level groups.

I've been tanking on my death knight and druid (in the latter case despite signing up for tank / healer / dps) and really enjoying it. It seems as though, since everyone's clear that it's a totally random PUG, players' expectations are lower and hence they (generally) play their class properly and give thought to things like threat. Or it may just be that, since damage meters don't work cross-realm, one major source of idiot play has been removed.

I'm currently back to the view that tanking is my favourite role, in a way because of the leadership it confirs. In a good group you set the pace, decide which groups to pull, and so on. In fact, my major source of stress in the past has been when I'm tanking but not to a pace I'm comfortable with, usually due to some pushy dps who wants to kill stuff now! I'm currently too slow, and also not fully aware of the big picture, but that will come if I get a chance to practice and the more basic parts of tanking become second nature.

I still enjoy healing, especially in the harder instances that have come with the patch. The downside to healing is that sometimes you just feel you're following the group around and watching green bars, but in challenging situations you do get a chance to put your skills to use and really make a difference. Sometimes your efforts even get noticed by the group! Another upside to healing is that I can realistically gear up to a suitable level for end-game raiding, something that I don't think I could commit enough time to as a tank.

And so dps would seem my least favourite role. Partly it lacks the significence of the other two roles - not because dps isn't important, especially in raid situations, but because you're just one cog of 3 in a group. This is part of what I think leads to the obsession with meters - given what's seen as the least important of roles, there's a natural desire to be the biggest fish in the smaller pond. That being said, I'm really glad of having an elemental dual spec - not only is it really handy to switch between roles in some raid fights, but it's also great being able to blow stuff up really quickly while questing!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The view from the other side, revisited

While waiting for the patch to hit I've been spending some time on my Alliance druid, as with Conquest emblems about to become outmoded I'm not really motivated to do many end-game instances. I'm really enjoying the versatility of a druid - while feral levelling spec'd he can still pretty much heal so can fulfil any role I wish. I also rather enjoy being a buffing class. On the down side I'm still not a fan of feral dps, although I do enjoy stealth and by now I have sufficient talent points and abilities for the power of the spec to offset my fundamental lack of comfort with energy-based classes.

Sad to say, my current view of the Alliance side of things is that it's rather bland. On the one hand it's all as it should be, but the familiar genre staples rather pale when compared to my usual experience of dealing with proud, threatening orcs or amoral Forsaken. I also find that the graphical style of the game really doesn't suit humans, or to a lesser extent night elves, which look somehow unconvincing. Dwarves, and the Horde races, suit the style far better.