Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A word on verbiage

The word "guys" is no longer gendered. A woman could walk into a locker room full of naked women who all clearly have women parts and say "Hi guys!" and no one would bat an eye.

The word "pimp" now has two fully distinct meanings that can only be discerned via context.

1) (noun) A person who manages prostitutes, or (verb) the act of managing prostitutes.

2) (adjective/adverb) The state of being totally awesome, extremely impressive, unnecessarily expensive, or a combination thereof. A thing or action may be pimp or pimping (both have the same meaning). In the same vein, one may "pimp" (verb) an object by improving it so that it becomes pimp.

Use of the word "pimp" in the second meaning does not constitute a politically-incorrect endorsement of prostitution, nor the slapping of prostitutes. Pimping is not cool, but being pimp is, if you catch my drift.

Similarly, the word "bitch" has a variety of meanings. It is possible to call another person, perhaps one you have defeated in one on one combat, your "bitch" without being misogynist or demeaning to women in general. However, calling a woman a bitch for her behavior is mysogynist, and you deserve the retaliation you have coming to you, dickwad.

So those are a few words where the original meaning might have been a bit offensive, but they now have a new meaning which is not. Unfortunately, there are words that some people think also have various meanings, but they really don't.

For instance, "rape" only has one meaning, and it is a horrible meaning that should be taken seriously. Sorry, but if you're losing in Alterac Valley, you aren't being "raped", poor baby. It's insulting to anyone who has actually been raped (and there are a LOT more of those people than you think). It's similar to saying "We're being Holocausted", because it cheapens something that is actually pretty terrible. It's a lot like Godwin-ing a thread by comparing someone to Hitler. They aren't anything like Hitler, so at that point you can no longer be taken seriously.

Admittedly, that one is a minor quibble, and not really that insulting. I mainly mention it as an example of a word that does not have any secondary meaning the way bitch and pimp do.

The most egregious example is the use of the word "gay" to mean "bad". "Gay" is an actively-used title for a real group of real people who are unfairly discriminated against in our society. Equating the name of that group with everything bad and negative is not cool. No matter what kind of blather someone may make up about "it's free speech" or "it's just a joke, lighten up" to feebly try to defend themselves, there is absolutely no excuse for using the word that way. Using it that way at all means they are a bigot, and a bad person. If the person isn't a shithead then they'd never find that usage of the word humorous in the first place, so the "it was a joke" excuse doesn't even begin to fly.

Imagine if other groups were equated with "bad". Would it be a good idea to go around saying "Man, we wiped on Gruul again, that's so black!" or "AFKing in AV is jew!"? Because that's exactly what's going on.

In an MMO context, if you use "gay" that way, then intelligent people are going to shun you and decide you must be a child who isn't worth their time. It is in your own self-interest to refrain from using the word that way. That usage will reduce your standing with the type of people you want to have on your team (smart, good players whom you can rely on), and it will only increase your standing with bad players who are also immature people - the type of people who will ninja items from you or clean out your guild bank and server transfer.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WALL OF TEXT CRUSHES READER (or: I design the Demon Hunter hero class)

When Blizzard announced the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft, the biggest news was the addition of a hero class: the Death Knight. As an avid Warcraft 3 fan, I’m happy to see another of the hero types from that game make the transition. However, I very rarely played a Death Knight in WC3. Instead, my hero of choice was by far the coolest fantasy archetype I had ever seen: The Demon Hunter.

But at best, I’ll have to wait another 3 years at minimum for Blizzard to implement my dream class. To alleviate some of the pain of waiting, I decided to design the class based on what I think is missing from the game, and what fits the flavor of the Demon Hunter.

Key points. Pay special attention to #5, as the entire concept simply falls apart without it:

1) WoW teams are always short on tanking and healing classes. Since healing doesn’t fit the Demon Hunter’s profile, we should go with a tank/dps hybrid. It’s important for the DH to:

  1. Have its own unique flavor.

  2. Be able to tank equally effectively in all specs. We will NOT be making another class that has to respec to jump between tanking and any other activity in the game. Role switching should require only a gear swap. Will have to be a slightly inferior tank overall to a purely specced tanking class, but still good enough to tank a raid in a pinch.
2) WoW lacks a true debuff-focused class. The DH will be that class. Similar to how a shaman has melee moves, caster moves, healing moves, and totems, a DH will have melee moves, caster moves, tanking moves, and debuffs. Its tanking ability will be predicated on high avoidance, magic resistance, and artificially-inflated armor in tank mode

3) Wears leather and Dual-wields swords or axes. Dual-weilding only bladed weapons fits the flavor. There’s no reason to give them daggers, it would only detract from the rogue’s flavor. Limited weapon selection will be an intentional weakness of the class.

4) Mana-using class.

5) Uses rogue stats, but those stats also buff spell casting at the same time. AP converts to spell damage, agility to mp5, and melee hit/crit to spell hit/crit. They will have tiny mana pools (little-to-no intellect on gear), but high regen. This will throttle their damage while increasing their sustained damage potential (basically extending the damage curve over time).

6) A special mechanic built around periodic transformation into demon form, a la Illidan. This will be the “expert” element that hero classes are supposed to possess.

7) Instance-friendly crowd control that breaks on damage, and some demon and undead control. We do not want them falling into the “I won’t bring a dps warrior to a heroic because they have no CC” trap, but we don’t want to give them a CC that is too strong in PvP.

Thematically, the class is built around its sixth-sense (all DH’s are physically blind, but have a magical sixth sense) and demon-fueled physical and magical strength. The hunter part of the theme is all about debuffs: using demonic power against the enemy, turning it toward one’s own ends. The demon transformation is another part of the flavor.

Races: Undead, Blood Elf, Orc, Troll, Night Elf, Gnome, Human. I will not compromise on the gnome, it MUST be an option. Think Yoda in Star Wars Episode 2. Suck it, gnome haters.

There is much, much more after the break.
Read More!

The demon-hunter’s flavor is that of an extremely agile melee fighter with high avoidance and magic resistance. The DH uses an even combination of melee and magic to deal damage. Through some action by the player, they will be able to periodically transform into a demon mode for a limited time, with higher hp and armor, that uses extra magic instead of melee. Part of the skill of playing the class as either tanking or dps will be knowing when to use the demon mode. Demon mode may even take some of the control away from the player temporarily. Perhaps the player will only have a general pet bar to control their character in demon mode.

So how do we make the DH able to tank without a respec, but keep them from being unkillable high-dps tankmages? By taking a new spin on the stance/form mechanic used by warriors and druids.

“Apparition form” gives the DH the appearance of a partly-ethereal demon. This form increases armor, dodge/parry, and magic resistance in a way that scales with gear (magic resist will uniquely scale with another stat, perhaps defense rating, for this class). Will use the same type of tanking gear as druids (leather with stamina, defense and avoidance) to limit gearing problems. The DH will focus more than other tanks on avoidance. This could make the damage they take too bursty, so abilities will have to be built in to compensate for this. Some options are:

  1. Compensate with inflated armor in apparition form, similar to bear druids. Keep this balanced by not inflating HP. So it would be like bear form, only with a dodge/parry boost instead of an HP boost.
  2. Add active abilities (in the vein of shield block) or passive abilities (in the vein of the rogue’s cheat death) to mitigate burst damage
  3. Use the demon form mechanic to aid in survivability while tanking. This could be as simple as using demon form as an “oh shit” button like shield wall, or much more complex and integrated into the entire tanking strategy.
In apparition form, the DH will generate the bulk of its aggro by dodging and parrying, which infuriates the enemy (lore-wise, the demon form they take can be particularly infuriating, perhaps Puck-like). This is to compensate for the fact that the DH’s damage is severely curtailed in apparition form, to balance the enhanced survivability. It (along with class and talent buffs to gearing for avoidance) also helps encourage a concentration on avoidance over stam and armor. In this form, the DH’s melee damage abilities become unavailable and physical damage is reduced. Meanwhile, magic damage is either reduced or all spells have a long cooldown in only this form to prevent spamming. In place of the physical moves, battle will be made active for the DH by adding a few defensive moves to the form, along with strategic cost/benefits to activating demon mode while in the form (as a survivability boost during hard parts of a boss fight, for example). Sel-immolate will also be a factor, as it will somewhat limit mana while also causing unreduced damage and aggro. It will even deal damage when the DH dodges or parries, to avoid penalties for high avoidance.

The other key to the class is debuffs. Tanking may perhaps be dependent on these debuffs (such as an apparition form ability that compensates for low armor and hp by severely reducing enemy damage, but it must be constantly reapplied, so you won’t have dps DH’s in a raid trying to keep in active while another class tanks). Debuffs will also be a reason to bring them to raids and groups, as their raw dps may be a bit inferior (like enhancement shaman), but the debuffs help the group enough to make them more valuable than another rogue (also like a shaman).

Some sample abilities:

Melee strikes:
-Blade Spin: An instant strike with both weapons that can hit up to 2 targets. 6-second cooldown. Has a small chance to daze the targets.
-Slash: Instant melee strike that deals 115% weapon damage and also leaves a 5-second bleed effect on the target. 5-second cooldown.

Offensive spells:

-Demon’s claw: Melee instant attack that deals weapon damage as shadow damage. 3 second-cooldown

-Self-Immolate: Once activated, generates an aura of demonic flames around the caster that deals a small amount of damage to anyone within 5 yards every 2 seconds, and also deals a moderate amount of damage when the DH is hit or dodges/parries/resists an attack. The aura ticks cannot break crowd control, and only apply to capacitated enemies (so CCed targets won’t even get hit). Costs a tiny amount of mana every 5 seconds it is active.

-Shadebolt: Like shadowbolt, only faster cast time for less damage. Primary ranged attack. DH’s use a new item class called Dark Artifacts in their relic slot, so no ranged weapons.

-Void vortex: Instant-cast mid-ranged dot that deals arcane damage

-Mana burn

Debuffs: Only one debuff per DH may be active at a time.

-Bleeding soul: Target’s soul begins to bleed. All healing on the target is reduced by 40%, and melee attacks against the target restore mana based on the attacker’s attack power and weapon speed. Lasts 10 seconds, 1-minute cooldown. DH’s will put this up when they need to regen mana during a fight to increase their own longevity.

-Demonic Possession: Melee-range debuff. Target battles with a demonic spirit for control of their body. Slows movement speed by 60%, but increases damage dealt by 5%. This is the DH’s snare to keep foes in melee range. It has a strong downside, however.

Apparition-only spells:

The apparition form will have its own move bar, just like bear form. However, most regular moves will be available in this form. The main exception is physical dps moves, which will become unavailable. They will be replaced by a small number of defensive moves. The player can use regular magic to supplement aggro.

-Brace yourself: prevents the next attack that hits you from being a critical strike or a crushing blow. Lasts 5 seconds, 20 second cooldown.

-Heightened Senses: Spammable ability that raises your dodge and parry. Similar to Shield block, in that you have to make the decision to concentrate your mana and global cooldowns on either attack or defense.

-Demon scales: “lights up” (similar to warrior’s revenge or overpower) when you take a critical hit or crushing blow. For a small mana cost, instantly increases your armor by 20% for 8 seconds.

-Debuff: Shrivel: Reduces the target’s damage with melee and spells by 4%. Lasts 10 seconds.

Demon-mode only spells:

In demon mode, a pet bar will replace the action bar, and moves will cost no mana. Demon mode will only have 4 moves:
-Wing Shield: attacks against you for the next 6 seconds have a 50% chance to be blocked. This adds block to the attack table, and will push crushings and crits off in tandem with your high parry and dodge. 15 second cooldown.
- Void ball: mid-ranged shadow magic damage with some splash aoe. 2 second casting time
-Terrify: 8-second single-target fear. Only works in melee range. 3 minute cooldown
-Infernus: Single-target ranged spell that deals fire damage and applies an 8-second “burning” dot effect. 10-second cooldown.

The DH will have three talent trees:

Blood Rites (Melee-focused)
Demon Rites (Magic- and Form-focused)
Void Rites (Debuff-focused)

All trees will in some way have stam and/or armor boosts built into the slightly less-desirable dps or gimmick talents, so that every tree can buff tanking without sacrificing too much damage, and will be tempted to do so. Powerful tanking talents will all be deep in the trees, to prevent tanking DH’s from getting pigeonholed into a tri-spec that takes the best tanking talents, but can’t dps.

Some samples:

Blood Rites: Empowering the flesh. Comparable damage to other 3 trees, but more focus on melee damage and physical survivability. Will favor physical moves, but magic moves will remain competitive enough to use during physical move cooldowns.
-Raw crit and AP increases (which, as already mentioned, automatically boost magic spelldamage and crit)
-Melee crit bonus damage increase
-An extra melee strike
-A clickable defensive cooldown
-A brief melee stun (and raid benefit tacked-on) at 51 pts
-Prime Conduit: reduces mana cost of all shadow and arcane spells by 20%.
-HP increases for tanking

Demon Rites: Tapping demonic power. Will have comparable damage to other 3 trees, but more focus on demon form. Magic moves will be preferred, but melee moves will remain competitive enough to use during magic cooldowns.
-Spell crit bonus damage increase
-Increased spell-damage coefficients
-New mid-ranged damage spell (Arcane Shock?)
-AoE spell. Most likely a player-based shadow explosion
-Buffs to demon mode
-A “dash” move that increases run speed and damage for 5 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown as 51-point talent
-Demonic sustainment: reduces mana cost of all physical moves by 20%.
-Armor increases for tanking

Void Rites: Harnessing the darkness and despair of the Void
-Buffs to immolate (self-buff)
-Gives your self-immolate a small chance to stun when it deals damage
-Upon dealing damage, your self-immolate will apply a debuff to the attacker that reduces damage dealt and increases damage taken by 1% for 10 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
-Strengthens debuffs.
-New debuff that increases damage against the target
-Summonable Void Shade as 51-point talent
-Extra mana regen
-Buffs both armor and health for tanking, but in smaller amounts

DPS Playstyles:

Melee dps: works with any spec. Flavors:

1. Blood: spam physical abilities, use instant-cast magic when physicals are on cooldown. Alternate raid-benefit debuff and mana-regen debuff. Slightly stronger against clothies, and with more anti-melee survivability for fights with adds or cleaves. Some stun and immobilize resists.

2. Demon: spam magic abilities, with some physicals thrown in. Make optimal use of demon mode to push damage higher and conserve mana. Same debuff rotation, but with slightly less gain back from mana-regen debuff. Slightly stronger against high armor targets, and more anti-magic survivability for aoe fights. Some fear and polymorph resists.

3. Void: Apply debuff that increases all damage received by the target, use all abilities, and let self-immolate (with debuff) and pet boost your damage. Personal dps lower, but group contribution higher, and some neat tricks for pvp.

Ranged magic dps: A variant that works with demon spec. Stands afar using dot and shadebolt, then uses 51-pt charge in combination with mana regen debuff to rush in, get the most mana back possible, then walk back to range to resume dps. This would NOT be a primary playstyle, but simply an option that allows the DH to dps in fights where it might be too risky to stay in melee.

Obviously, it will be very difficult to balance these abilities to prevent them from being overpowered, and doing so would be a top priority. However, I am confident that a hero class like this could be made balanced without sacrificing its core tenets. The main concerns would be making sure the damage stays in line with the survivability, and making sure that the DH can be an avoidance-based tank without being too susceptible to burst (to the point that no one wants them to tank), while at the same time not being clearly superior to other tanks (and in fact, very slightly inferior).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Your first Karazhan part 4: The Iron Maiden


I think the name “Maiden of Virtue” is supposed to be “ironical”.

I mean, she’s not really that virtuous. First of all, she kills people. A lot. Last time I checked, that doesn’t tend to land in the “good deeds” pile.

Though on the other hand, each of us did slaughter thousands of people, animals, and monsters to get to the point where we could fight her…but I digress…

Second, she’s got, like, no clothes on.

Third, she is guarded by various seductresses and succubi who joke about demonophilia while whipping you:


In fact, considering that the hallway leading up to her is lined with lavishly-decorated bedrooms and populated by seductresses really seems to indicate one thing: she’s the mistress of this demonic brothel.

She’s a 3-story tall, stone-cold pimp

But at the same time, considering that she’s roughly 30-feet tall and made of cold, unfeeling stone (actually, that reminds me of a date I had once…), it’s probably a safe bet that she’s a virginal maiden, as the mechanics of it being otherwise are a bit mind-bending. So there’s that. I guess one out of two ain’t bad.

Regardless of my speculation impugning her virtue, the maiden nevertheless uses mostly holy attacks, so be prepared to enjoy:




Big Freakin’ Stone Fists! (OK, these aren’t exactly a holy ability, but they hurt no less for it.)

But before you can initiate a sado-masochistic relationship with her, you’ll have to fight through her stable of “escorts”. If you know what I mean.

Maiden Trash

After cleaning up Moroes, backtrack to the large staircase in the previous room. From there, your entire raid should stick together and hug the right wall. You should be able to sneak around the outer edge of the room to the corner, turn left, and make it to the small opening near the next corner without engaging more than a few ghosts. When you reach the door, it will be guarded by Phantom Valets who look just like other ghosts. But don’t be fooled: the valets will EAT YOUR TANK FOR LUNCH. They hit hard. Have your healers spam-heal your tank for the entire pull, and, for the love of god, do not pull aggro off the tank!

Next, head through the door and up the two flights of stairs to a large, open room full of ghosts. Your destination is the door along the right wall up ahead. Clear however many of the familiar ghost packs and single elite ghosts it takes to reach that door safely, but don’t just go barging in. There are patrols in the hallway on the other side of that door, so you’ll want to send your tank ahead to scout it out and signal the rest of you to follow when the coast is clear.

Pulling carefully in this hallway is key, as there are a number of patrols that can really ruin your day. Once through the door, your destination is to the right, down the wide stone hallway. There are bedrooms through doors along the left wall of the hall. Don’t bother fighting the enemies in those rooms. Instead, keep against the right wall (or risk aggroing the rooms) of the hallway as you move forward, killing only the groups in the hallway.

You may have a quest asking you to pick up a journal in one of these side rooms. Ignore it for now. Once your group has downed Maiden, simply wait ½ hour after everyone has left the tower and the instance will “soft reset”, despawning all of the trash that is linked to bosses you’ve already killed. At that point, you can waltz right up to the quest item completely unimpeded.


You’ll encounter two types of pulls. The first are armored guards who come in pairs, and summon spectral dogs to come to their aid. Try to keep the dogs off of your healers, but these pulls aren’t very dangerous. The really scary pulls are of the groups of what appear to be seductive human and high elf women. As it turns out, they are actually either ghosts or demonic succubi in disguise. Again, sounds like dates I’ve been on. They won’t transform until they start to get low on health, but still be prepared for them to bust out an aoe seduce and then start whipping your healers. Have a warlock banish the women labeled as “Demons” while your group shackles or traps the undeads.

Anything Special?

Warlock: Banish “demon” women

Priest: Shackle yo’self summa dem spooks

With hopefully little ado and not too much arousal, you’ll reach the end of the hallway, and be face-to-face (well, face-to-shin) with the lady who puts the “OW!” in bowing, the attitude in beatitude, the hurtyou in virtue…the Maiden!


The Maiden of Virtue

The Maiden is standing in a circular room, waiting on a central circular dais with little stairs leading up to it. The dais is surrounded by pillars.

The Maiden is like some sort of super-paladin. At all times, she will be dropping a consecrate-like effect called Holy Ground, which, aside from a few hundred damage every 3 seconds, will also silence anyone in range for 1 second. So obviously, you want casters to be out of the range of this if at all possible.

Her other paladin-on-crack move is called repentance, and like a retribution paladin’s repentance, it incapacitates a target. Unlike a regular paladin’s move, this one hits the entire raid (except for the tank), and does about 2000 damage to everyone. Oh, and it lasts twelve seconds.

She also has a few non-paladin moves to deal damage to accompany her formidable melee.

The first is Holy Fire, which hits one target for about 3500 fire damage, and ticks for nearly 2000 damage every 2 seconds after, for 12 seconds. It is absolutely imperative that you immediately dispel this every single time she casts it. Few of your raid members will survive that type of damage, especially if they are also standing in the aoe.

The second is Holy Wrath, a chain-lightning like spell that she will periodically cast on a random target. It will chain to anyone near the target, damaging them, so it is important that your raid spread out as much as possible to avoid this.

Taking these abilities into account, you’ll come up with a few guidelines:
-spread out.
-keep everyone’s health high.
-keep casters off the dais.
-dispel Holy Fire
-have some way to keep the tank alive during Repentance

You can enter the room without starting the fight, so the first thing you should do is arrange all casters and ranged dps around the outer edge of the room, like so:


Once the fight starts, they will all move forward and take a position between two pillars. They should all take different pillars to avoid standing too close together. You should also try to put a dispeller on each side of the room, so that no one is ever out of range to get Holy Fire removed.

Once everyone is in position against the wall, the tank should run in and start the fight, tanking Maiden in the center of the dais. Conveniently, Holy Ground only reaches to edge of the dais. Casters can remain out of range of the silence by standing at the edge of the dais, on the first step. Don’t stand too far back, or you may be out of your dispeller’s line of sight because of a pillar; get as close as you can.

Meanwhile, melee dps should spread out behind Maiden as much as possible to mitigate Holy Wrath damage. You might be surprised to find how far away from her you can stand and still hit her.

Dealing with Holy Fire:
Holy Fire is a magic effect, and can therefore be dispelled by:

-Priest’s Dispel Magic
-Paladin’s Cleanse and Divine Shield
-Felhound's Devour Magic (leave it on auto-cast)
-Mage’s Ice Block
-Rogue’s Cloak of Shadows

It can also be blocked by the Shaman’s Grounding Totem. Make sure you assign specific people to dispel specific targets. I’ve watched people die before because all of the dispellers thought Someone Else was going to dispel. I’d like to meet this Someone Else guy someday, and ask him why he never does anything he’s supposed to do.

Dealing with Repentence:
Obviously, if your healers aren’t healing for a full 12 seconds while incapacitated, your tank will probably die. There are many ways to deal with this. Use any combination of the following, depending on your group make-up, level of skill and gear, and your anal-ness:

-Paladins bubble out of the repentance, or leave blessing of sacrifice up on the tank when they think repentance is coming (damage the blessing redirects from the tank to the paladin will snap the paladin our of the effect)
-Keep a lot of heal-over-time spells up on the tank.
-Have the tank use cooldowns such as shield wall, potions, nightmare seeds, etc.
-Since the Holy Ground will break melee out of repentance quickly, melee dps that can heal can run out of the aoe and heal.
-Have the tank move Maiden toward a healer so Holy Ground damage will free the healer. Remember to move Maiden back into position afterwards. Similarly, a healer could just stand in the aoe in anticipation of an incoming repentance, though this method is risky.

Also, notice the handy Repentance countdown BigWigs puts on my screen:


Whew. That was complicated! But don’t worry, once you try it a few times, it will feel like second nature.

Anything Special?

Priest: Dispel Holy Fire immediately.

Paladin: Dispel Holy Fire immediately. Use bubble and blessing of sacrifice to break out of Repentance if needed. If retribution, cast some emergency heals during Repentance if needed.

Druid: Keep HoTs up on the tank. If feral, cast some emergency heals during Repentance if needed.

Warlock: Keep Felguard’s devour magic on autocast to dispel Holy Fire.

Mage: Ice Block out of Holy Fire if needed.

Rogue: Cloak of Shadows if you get Holy Fire for some reason. You should not be getting Holy Fire'd in melee range.

Shaman: Grounding Totem. Chain Heal melee. If Enhancement, cast some emergency heals during Repentance if needed.

Everyone: Keep as far away from others as possible, and healers keep everyone’s health topped off.

Once you’ve got the Maiden horizontal (not the first time she’s been there! Ba-dum-bum!) and had your hopes that the $&#* healing mace would finally #@*&ing drop thoroughly dashed, you can turn back around and head for an evening at the Opera.


Next: Lions, Tigers, and Bears. And Wolves. And Dogs. And Witches. And Robots. And Star-crossed Lovers.

Oh my!

Plus: Despite what your mother may have told you, running around in circles can save your life!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Excuses, excuses

The next chapter of the Kara guide was all ready to go up yesterday, but then I decided at the last minute that I would try to integrate some of my Horde screenshots into the mix, so you could get a break from looking at Alliance characters. It should be up today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, my guild cleared Karazhan for the first time this week. We have a 3-raids-a-week schedule, and when I joined a mere month ago, the guild was taking 2 days just to get to Aran, and unable to get any further. Last week, we cleared everything but Nightbane and got in a few good attempts at him over our 3 days. This week, we cleared the entire place in 2 days. Our first-ever Kara clear, and we did it in under 7 hours.

Flush with victory and self-confidence, we decided to keep our third raid on the schedule, and go to ZA for the first time as a guild.

We grouped up at the gong just inside the instance on Sunday evening, giddy with anticipation and optimism. The question was not "will we succeed", but "how much will we succeed beyond even our expectations?"

Turns out the question should have been "did I bring enough money for these repair bills?"

Read more!

After 1 shotting almost every boss in Karazhan, we ran headlong into a brick wall in Zul'Aman. The early trash posed no issues: bears, their riders, and troll shaman all fell to our onslaught. That is, until we reached the final pull before the bear boss: Two bear riders flanked by two shaman. We tried everything we could think of - stunlocking a shaman, mind controlling it, bringing in an extra mage so we could sheep both shaman, having our shadow priest switch to healing - but nothing was enough. The incoming damage was just too heavy for our tanks and healers to handle, our tanks were getting burst down before the healers could react. We were doing everything right, such as separating the bears, assigning healers, and using consumables. We just couldn't get past that pull. So after a few hours, we retreated, bloody and broken, to go get our gear repaired and duel naked out in front of the instance.

So next week, I hope more gear drops for our tanks and healers in Kara. We were using an undergeared offtank (mostly great blues, but few tier 4-level upgrades), so that may have been one of the sources of the problem. I was very surprised by the difficulty jump from Kara to ZA. I had only been there once before, with a group of Alliance alts, and had main tanked the first 3 bosses successfully on my warrior. I guess we were well-geared enough that we didn't notice how much harder the instance was. We did not expect the initial trash to be such a gear-check.

So hopefully next week we'll come back with better gear, and give those bears the what-for.