Category Archives: General Noobness

Battlefield: Tank

A quick story to begin:

Vastant unsteadily sat on a bar stool in the Slaughtered Lamb. She liked going there in her well-earned gear. It contrasted from what she felt were the unsavory goings on in the tavern.

One drink became two, then three, then more. Suddenly, she looked up and said, “Did… did I ever tell you how I learned  how to tank?”

Jarel Moor rolled his eyes. “Here we go,” he thought to himself. He glanced about the bar, seeing only the drunken mage passed out in the back of the room. Jarel sighed, then leaned on the bar with his elbow, resting his head in his palm.

Vastant leaned forward, as if she was sharing a deep secret. “I learned by being on the … hic … battlefield.”

Jarel shrugged. “That’s what I’d expect from a warrior like yourself; fighting the Horde, spilling blood.”

“Not as a warrior, you fool.” She started to slur her speech more. “I learned by healing… yesh, you should’ve seen me.”

Jarel arched his eyebrow. “But… you have no way with the healing arts, quit talking like an…”

Vastant swung her glass suddenly, knocking her hand into her shield, which clattered on the ground loudly. She didn’t notice the commotion. “‘course not… I was a druid. Green and flowers and all that damn stuff. Well, I’ll tell you one time…”

Jarel had about enough. “Just shut up, you’re not a druid!” He began to turn away from her. She spun him back around, and looked at his with half-closed eyes.

“Well, not as a warrior, yeah. Druids are shape…shifters. They can be all kinds of things, like bears and cats and…”

As she held him by his tunic, she wobbled and slumped back in her chair. Her head fell with a clunk on the bar. Jarel shook his head, looked at the pile of gold and silver, and deftly took the pile as a tidy tip.

My main problem with being a tank is that I find myself looking at everything going on, and being overwhelmed. As a healer, all I really focus on is my little space on the screen where my raid frames live. All I need to do when I’m running around healing is keep the boxes full and stay out of bad stuff.

When I’m a tank, I have to pay attention to where mobs are, where to stand and all of my attacks and cooldowns. This works out well if I’m encountering the pulls as I expect them, but when things go bad, then I feel like I’m in a Benny Hill skit where I’m being chased from all directions, with “Yakety Sax” playing in the background. Only thing is, there are no scantily clad women chasing me.

Dimoniet Outlands

Oh Outland, and your conservative looking gear. *facepalm*

When I have chaotic pulls, even if I am able to save things and not wipe, I still am so stressed out and anxious that I typically take a break from tanking for a few days or years.

This is why I felt that if I really wanted to challenge myself during Waypoint’s Herald of the Titans project, I saw this as a way to up the ante. Not only could I get a great achievement, but exorcise some demons along the way.

Only thing is, I still was a bit shaky in dungeons. It still didn’t totally click with me, and many times it was more because of my set of BoA gear that would carry the day.

Moving away from Vastant for a moment, I’ve had a similar feeling to tanking as I did PvP. Whenever I’d try arena, or get involved with a scrum in a battleground, there was so much going on. I’d get flustered, forget what I was doing, and I’d be stressed out and discouraged.

One day, Cynwise asked in guild chat if anyone would be interested in doing some Arena. I had gotten to know him on Twitter, and he had moved Cynwise over to Waypoint. I was always in awe of his posts on PvP, but my PvP ineptitude always got in the way of my wish to jump in the arena.

On this day, I decided to give it a try. “Sure,” I said, marveling at how cool this was. I warned that I wasn’t very good, but he assured me that the main thing was to have fun.

Our first few 2s arena battles were me flailing about, and still being nervous and overwhelmed. Cyn was great, and he’s super calm and patient. He advised me to just relax, and let the fight come to me. Slow down. He was the original Panda Hipster.

So, I’d relax. Soon, I was finding I was able to pay attention to the entire fight. I was able to use all of my abilities, because I allowed myself room to think. We’d have fun. There were some epic battles we had. Half an hour fights that were so fun, but so tiring. I was having a blast at PvP, and I was getting good at it!

This brings me back to Vastant, sitting in the dungeon. A lightbulb went over my head, I yelled “EUREKA!” and ran out of my bathtub naked. Wait, no…

I realized that if I allowed the fight to come to me, to slow things down, I could control the chaos. I could be comfortable with the fight. So, I was thoughtful about how I set up my keybinds, I wrote some macros. I let the fight come to me.

I started kicking some serious ass as a tank. I was having fun being a tank. I smile when I think that I learned how to tank by learning how to PvP heal on my Resto Druid. Learning is weird.

No, really. This time I mean it!

The same thing happens every tier I’ve raided.

I find myself saying things in raid chat like, “Sure, if no one needs that, I’ll take it for my Bear set.”

Laughter ensues, but the gear still goes to me. Abashed, I reply, “This time I mean it! I’m… I’m going to tank!”

A few months pass, and I inevitably find I’m having bank space issues. I survey my inventory and find the feral gear covered in dust. Ungemmed. Unenchanted. Unloved.

To the vendor they go, if they’re lucky. Some get the ignominious total deletion from the game. I console myself by thinking when I vendor something, it’ll reincarnate in the game in the future. It makes me feel better about being a wasteful slacker.

Honestly, I have intended to tank many times. I’ve rolled many alt druids with the sole intention of learning bear tanking. It lasts a little while, and they always end up Resto. I even have two Prot Pallies I’ve tried a few tanking excursions. It never clicked.

So, my guild wants to get a Herald of the Titans group together. If you’re not aware of this achievement, it’s defeating Algalon with the entire raid having gear obtainable from Ulduar 10 person modes (thus, iLevel 226 gear, 232 weapons) AND no member being above level 80.

A discussion began about who was choosing what, and our MT/RL Dee decided to bring her Bear into Ulduar and tank. At the time, we needed another tank or another healer.

I stated that I should bring my level 70 locked druid, Rosavin to 80, and I could tank.

“You mean HEAL, Rezz. Admit it!” Dee taunted.

I attempted to protest, but she was right. The temptation is too great to just slide into my healing robes and go tree-dancing. I can’t help it!

I decided that I had to choose a class that wouldn’t tempt me into sliding into a healing role. I had to get this monkey off my back. So, no druids, paladins…

This left me to choose between a DK and a Warrior. If I had to level another DK in the starting area, it’d be too soon. So, the Warrior wins!

I started to create my new hero. I imagined the best things of a warrior. The toughness. The determination. The resolve. The pigtails! Wait, pigtails? I’m on a roll, so I’ll let that pass. This time, I mean it!

I will be a raid tank!

With that, Vastant was born:

The pigtails give me +10 Adorable.

Vastant is a Latin variant of “Devastate”.

 

What? Don’t let the pigtails or freckles fool you. Vastant will crush you, and still be adorable.

Now that I’ve made the introductions, time to discuss the project. My goal is to level her strictly as Prot to 80. I will learn to effectively tank with minimal flailing (trust me, with recording all flailing here for humor generation). I will not avoid running dungeons because no one I know can run with me.

I will become good enough to earn the title:

VASTANT, HERALD OF THE TITANS.

YOU HEARD ME, ALGALON!

Algalon, I am coming for *you*!

… I hope.

On a side note, I’m working on this real cool “Bandage Spec” that I think can do wonders. Yep!

BANDAGE ALL THE THINGS!

To be continued…

Raiders of the Lost Noob (A Tree Grows in Azeroth — Part 4)

As there has been a bit of a gap in episodes, I thought it’d be nice to do a quick summary of the story leading up to this installment. A flashback montage seems to be what’s called for here:

A quick recap of this sordid tale.

I was very confused at this point.

With the three movies quoted above (Breaking Away, Rocky IV and The Karate Kid), there’s a common sequence of events:

  1. Hero is brought to a low point by almost everyone else by a series of events.
  2. Hero goes through an epic training sequence, showing their grit and determination.
  3. Hero gets to the penultimate event, and not only wins the event, but everyone’s hearts — INCLUDING THE ANTAGONISTS.

Think about that last point for a minute. Imagine the end of the movie, the hero has won the match, the race. Afterwards (or even during), the antagonists slowly come around and embrace the hero. The hero takes the admiration with humble pride, and the movie fades out.

I was only at step 1 above, as we catch up to my tale. Kicked to the curb, my ineptitude was exposed, I resolved to switch over to a spec I never had played. Then, after I topped the healing meters, my raid would slowly start to applaud and smile at me, signaling they have accepted me as a good player now. I would then humbly smile at them, extend a central digit at them, and then inquire to them about their predilection towards apples.

Anyhow, now that I decided to go down the path of the healing arts, I had to figure things out. I’d love to say that the first thing I did was to go and devour every healing resource I could find.

If you’ve read my previous missives, you know I can’t do it the easy way. Honestly, after eating that huge helping of Humble Pie in Naxx, I really wanted to redeem myself by making a go of it on my own first. I sincerely took a look at the talents and my gear, and started over.

As was my noobish tunnel-vision, I never saw healing as anything more than something I’d use after a pull, so I didn’t have to sit and eat to get health back. So, for me, moving to making healing my emphasis was actually a huge risk. However, I love a good challenge.

I still had a patchwork (Patchwerk? D’oh!) set of gear, but I dove right into healing. My first heroic I healed was Halls of Lightning. I whispered my friend and told her what the luck of the draw gave me, and she went, “OMG, you’re so screwed!”

I did pretty well in it, and only caused problems due to me failing with Loken and his damn Lightning Nova. I could heal just fine, I just was a step too slow. All in all, I was pleased with myself.

I had Grid set up, my mouseover macros at the ready, and I was ready to get back into Naxx and get to show them my stuff.

So, I’m back in Naxx, this time running around as a tree. I had just downloaded Recount so I could pay attention to what I was doing, and I was pleased to find that I was topping the meters as we were clearing trash. I mention this to my priest friend, who hisses, “TRASH DOESN’T COUNT!” Suitably chastened, I move on and do an acceptable job healing. I was delighted and a bit shocked.

A few weeks after my initial success, drama takes full hold of our guild, and we disband. However, with my newfound confidence, I happily step into a few raids with friends of friends, and get compliments on my healing by some pretty good healers. I had started to actually study my healing craft more, with Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket fame being one of my first resources, and I was enjoying myself.

It was at this time I saw in the server forums that a raiding guild was looking for a Tree. I knew nothing of these people, and my old guild wasn’t a serious raiding guild. However, I just liked the posts I saw, and decided to give it a try, and I applied with Team Sportscoat.

The brought me in, and this was my first true exposure to a more serious raiding atmosphere. I had nowhere to hide if I messed up. When I joined TSC, Ulduar had just opened up. We were a 25 man guild, but also ran a few 10 man raids.

Our 25 group wasn’t progressing as quickly as the main 10 man, and I suddenly found myself chosen to be in the main 10 man. I was quite excited to be chosen, but I was stressing out, as I really didn’t have a ton of raid experience (which I was very upfront with). I was doing pretty well with everything, until we hit Hodir. Hodir exposed one of my biggest weaknesses, and it was quite shameful. However, Hodir also allowed me to break out and really step things up.

You see, my main problem was really movement. Now, I’m a healer using Grid, so I do my fair share of keyboard turning. When I need to, I can move quickly, but it’s a ton more comfortable for me to use the keyboard for movement when I’m healing. The problem was, I was using the ARROW keys for movement. You know, the keys that are on the right side of the keyboard, nearest the mouse (if you’re right-handed). That same mouse that I need to move on the raid frame to use my mouseover macros. Yeah. Um….

That’s what got me with Loken, and that’s what got me with Hodir. Hodir is a Resto Druid dream fight — at least it should be. It was a nightmare. I kept getting clobbered by the falling ice, mainly because I’d get tunnel vision healing, and not be able to move quickly enough out of the way. This was the only time I can recall being called out with a final warning:

REZZNUL! If you die to the ice again this next pull, you WILL be kicked from this raid!

I somehow was able to hobble through it and survive. Right after the raid, I realized I had to fix this, and fast.

I went online and watched the Tankspot video of Hodir. This time, I was watching the one Tree just running all over the place the entire fight. I watched the video a few more times, mesmerized. It had finally penetrated my thick skull that the strength of the Resto Druid is the ability to heal on the run. I used all kinds of tricks before to adapt to my arrow-movement disability, but it was just ridiculously hard in some fights.

I immediately began to retrain myself to move using WASD, freeing up my right hand completely. I was running all over the place, throwing HoTs on me like a maniac. I really was amazed at how effective I felt now. I also felt embarrassed that I allowed myself to have waited this long until I got to this point.

The next week, we’re back in Ulduar. We’re clearing trash to Hodir, and I’m getting pretty nervous. This is my first time really getting to put into action my hard work, and I’m afraid I’ll go back to old habits midway through and choke.

The fight begins, and I just do what I saw in the video. I run, I dodge, I can catch everyone with HoTs. It was so effortless, so much fun. Hodir died. I didn’t.

I look at the meters for the fight — I did over 60% of the healing. Our other Holy Paladin (a well-known meter whore) was cursing Druids at that point. I’d have to say that this was my biggest learning step that took me to another level in effectiveness.

The next time we ran 25 Ulduar, I get a whisper from that Paladin. Previously, he had given me crap about messing up at times, and I felt he didn’t like me (not that I cared). The message was:

“How do you heal?”

At first, I was feeling defensive, as if I had to justify what I did to him. So, I ask him why he was asking. He responded:

“I want you to teach the other druids to heal as good as you.”

We then had a nice discussion about my healing style, and he thanked me.

Afterwards, I was amazed at my journey. I went from almost getting kicked out of the raid, to being someone they considered a good authority on playing my class.

How about them apples?

———-

Movie References: Breaking Away: “Do it for the Cutters!”; The Karate Kid: “Get him a body bag! YEAHHH!”; Rocky IV: “You can’t win!” and “I must break you.” Back to the article.

Exposed! (A Tree Grows in Azeroth – Part 3)

This is my high school nightmare all over again.

I’d love to start this post by saying that I cleared up my noob-tendencies once I hit 70, and everything ended happily ever after.

Then again, if that was the case, this post sure would be short. Good thing for me (as a blogger), I was still floating through Durotan blissfully ignorant about most things WoW.

Did I care? Nope! I was having fun messing around, and doing the odd run-through for random peeps. Of course, they saw my greatness:

 

Sexy Beast!

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Of course, I didn’t think I was the best player ever, but I never thought I was bad. It was just a matter of getting into some stuff and gearing up, if I felt like it.

I had started to make friends in the game, and they started to invite me to various shenanigans. After a patch put in Don Carlos’ Famous Hat, they all wanted to go get it. Yay for fun hats!

Everyone started heading over to Caverns of Time, and I mentioned I’d have to be summoned… as I didn’t have the rep to be ported from Shatt. That should’ve been the first warning sign, of course.

Well, they summon me over, and we set things to Heroic, and walk into the instance. Well, they walk in, I can’t. So, it begins:

What? You don’t have enough rep for the Key of Time? You’re terrible!

So, I did what made sense at the time. I attributed my lack of rep to my lack of free time to play. Of course, this is a complete lie, as I just goofed around all of the time. I just didn’t know how to grind faction rep in dungeons.

So, I pathetically sat outside the instance entrance, stewing. Every once in a while, one would come out, show off their coyote companion from the hat, then pop back in.

I was so disappointed about being left out, I finally started to do research into things… I wanted to figure out how to do a lot of the fun things I may have barely heard about, but never did. I actually started to pay attention to reputation, not just to get into heroics, but for upgrading my woeful gear. My gear was still a shameful mishmash of greens, blues and a few welfare-style epics. My exposure as a noob wasn’t complete, however.

 

Hi Naxx! CAN I HAS PURPZ?

You are not prepared! Oh wait, wrong instance.

My friends from the CoT fun were restarting their 10 man guild, and said I could go along and Moonkin it up in Naxx. I was excited to go, as this was my first big-boy raiding experience.

Let’s ignore the fact that I’m still not really raid-ready. I didn’t know about fight guides (and even boss mods). I went in there blind.

Honestly, as an officer and raid leader now, I wouldn’t have let me raid being that unprepared. But, let’s fast-forward to Patchwerk, the meter whore’s dream fight.

I was horrible. I didn’t do a decent rotation, I didn’t watch my HoTs at all… I was doing so much less than the tanks. It’s not like we were outgearing the fight, either, so I really was being a drag on the raid. So, I stepped out.

I forgot to leave Vent, however, only to hear:

WOW! This is so much easier this time with some REAL DPS!

SHHHHHH. He’s still in vent. *laughter*

Of course, I felt like a total turd after that. At first, I had the attitude that, “Well, all I need is gear and I’ll do better DPS, but if you leave me out, how can I improve my gear?”

I find it ironic that I don’t accept that excuse from guildies complaining about not getting raid spots. Well, it’d be ironic if I didn’t quickly reassess myself and find that yes, I am the problem. Sure, the gear makes it harder, but it all comes back to the player in the end.

The thing is, I wanted to help the raid out, and actually get to experience some content. So, I did some self-evaluation, and looked at our raid makeup, and asked them if it’d help if I went Resto. They were dubious, but I said I wanted to help out however I can, and this is the best way.

That decision marked my turning point from hopeless noob to trusted raider. But, that is for another day.

It takes talent! (A Tree Grows in Azeroth – Part 2)

Looking back at things, I realize where I went wrong.

When I finally gave in and tried WoW out, I had such a good time with the experience of it, that I just wanted to play. I didn’t want to learn such silly things as class mechanics.

It took me perhaps five or ten *cough* levels after getting talents to realize I had points to invest. I was having fun, though, dammit!

So, I saw all these tasty points and thought to myself, “Well, let’s see… I like THIS and THIS and THIS… OH! That looks nice!”

I felt like I was at the farmer’s market on a summer morning, and saw all this tasty produce in front of me. Sure, I have no clue what this weird vegetable is, but I’ll find something to make with it, I’M SURE.

My brother-in-law whispered me in-game, and asked me what spec I wanted to play. Did I ask what he meant by that? No. I saw myself as a Orcish Army Knife. Why pigeonhole me as one thing or the other? SPECIALIZATION is for noobs!

Let’s just pass over this part, though:

He asked, “Are you going to be balance?”

I thought, “But… I do have my talent points balanced.”

Yep. Let’s move right along, nothing to see here!

After being yelled at for a horrible spec (at that precise moment, I still wasn’t sure how he knew I had such a bad spec), I trundled off to Thunder Bluff and spent a little of my hard-earned silver on a respec.

Even after I did that, I still wasn’t exactly a student of the talent trees. I still was too stubborn to really understand how your spec choices influence the best way to play your character.

Of course, I look back at things and can’t believe I made it that difficult. However, with great struggles come great things. Right? Right??

The other day, I was taking my young Worgen through Wailing Caverns. The tank dinged. I provided my congratulations, then we sat. And sat. And sat.

The tank then said, “Sorry, talent point.”

I cheerfully told him no worries, as I chuckled to myself,  “Taking all that time to choose that ONE talent point. That noob.”

Oh, wait. DAMMIT. *grumble*

Dear Diary..? (A Tree Grows in Azeroth – Part 1)

I hate introductions.

I’ll say, “Hello, nice to meet you.”

They say, “Hi there.”

Then we sit, and I pray that a fire breaks out.

*click… click… click… (damn lighter)… whooooosh*

Ah, now that there’s a nice distracting fire, I can be more myself.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a resto Druid deluxe by the name of Rezznul. Along with my Team Sportscoat guildies, I heal my way through the treacherous Bloodscalp progression rankings *cough*.

However, I’m not here to guide you on healing, or raid leading, or even running a guild. There are plenty of guides out there, lord knows I’ve read them all.

You see, I’m a hopeless noob. Sure, I cover it up quite well, but beneath my crunchy raid-tested coating, there’s a tasty center of noob-nougat that seeps out at times, like a defective Three Musketeers bar.

A friend of mine, you may know her, she has this little old blog called Disciplinary Action. I seemed to amuse her at times on Twitter (duh, I’m hilarious), and she convinced me I should give blogging a try.

As I was leveling yet another druid on Liala’s server, I remarked how easy it was to level now that I know how to play a druid. That sprung into a discussion of how I just can’t help but do things the hard way, and some of the embarassingly noobish things I’ve done in my WoW life.

With that as an inspiration, I at first was going to have the “Red Noob Diaries” be a featured column of the blog, but I like the name so much, I had to go for it.

I suppose I am going to be providing a guide.  It’s just going to be an Anti-Guide — do the opposite, and you’ll be great.

All right, I need to go put out the fire before I burn the place down.