Monday, 19 March 2012

Rear view: two tips for tanks

My main character is a tank. He’s pretty well-geared, can handle the Hour of Twilight instances without much bother, and shrugs off most of the damage from the regular heroics without breaking a sweat.

I also like to think I’m a good tank player – I keep aggro, I get mobs facing away from the group, and I use my defensive abilities sensibly to make the healer’s life as easy as possible. I even pull fast enough that most DPS don’t get impatient!

Recently though I’ve been playing much more on my rogue, and have noticed a few things I also do on my tank that I didn’t realise were so important:

Keep still

This one is simple: if you have aggro, and all the mobs are in front if you, stop moving. You don’t need to, and when you do, the mobs will try to follow you. When lag is involved, they will often move very erratically, making life much more difficult for melee DPS players.

Playing on my rogue, I’ve been grouped with numerous tanks who just seem unable to keep still for more than two seconds, even when they have aggro on a pack and there really is no need to move around. They bounce around the place, dragging the mobs in various directions for no apparent reason.

I know sometimes you do have to move, perhaps because a mob is behind you, or new ones have turned up and are eating the healer. That’s fine, but try to keep your movements to a minimum, and if possible, move in a straight line. One larger movement is preferable to several small adjustments, too.

Move the boss away from the bad

This one comes up a lot on Peroth’arn in Well of Eternity: the boss puts a circle of fire under a player, and they need to move out of it. Simple, right? Not so much when that player is a melee and the tank doesn’t move the boss away from the fire – as a rogue, I need to stand behind my target to do my job properly, but so many tanks just think that because they’re not standing in fire, everything is fine. Never mind that the boss itself is standing in a large circle of green flames, so the melee can’t attack it without getting burned.

Sure, I could stand in front of the boss, next to the tank, but that’s generally a bad idea for two reasons: one, bosses (especially dragons) often have a cleave-like ability which hits anything in front of them, and two, by standing in front of the boss my damage output is reduced because I keep getting parried. Just as a DPS player pulling or getting aggro makes the tank’s job harder, having to stand in front of a boss (or being unable to attack at all) makes the DPS player’s life harder.


There’s other types of Bad, too, like little circles of light that heal the mobs, or smoke bombs, and so on. The tank needs to move the mob/boss well away from these things so the DPS can do what they’re there to do.

Or in other words

Think about the needs of the whole party, not just your own survival. Look at where the players in your group are standing, and think about what you can do to make their life easier.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Worldview: Searing Gorge

It’s not the first place one thinks of when talking photogenic locations on Azeroth, but then, neither was Feralas. There are plenty of interesting places in Searing Gorge, which has made for some nice screenshots.

The look of the zone lives up to its name – very hot and dry, with numerous smoking vents and lava pools. The searing was not natural, either: it was caused by the first summoning of Ragnaros to Molten Core. To the south, sitting astride the border with Burning Steppes, is Blackrock Mountain, a huge edifice that dominates the southern skyline.

The Dark Iron dwarves have a strong presence in Searing Gorge, with the mining complexes of the Cauldron and Slag Pit being their main operations

Thorium Advance 1
One of the land entrances to Searing Gorge is via the narrow pass cut by Horde forces from Kagarth in Badlands. This path leads to a camp run by the Thorium Brotherhood, called Thorium Advance.

Thorium Advance 2
As you approach the crest of the pass, you get a good view of the Cauldron, the large mining pit dug by the Dark Iron dwarves who are in control of the zone.

Cauldron graveyard
A little way west of the pass is a graveyard overlooking the Cauldron.

Mithril deposit on Firewatch Ridge
A mithril deposit on Firewatch Ridge, in the north-west. Blackrock Mountain is clearly visible on the far side of the zone.

Path leading up to Thorium Point
One of the two main flight paths in the zone, Thorium Point is a neutral settlement run by the Thorium Brotherhood, located on a plateau above the Pyrox Flats.

A war golem guarding Pyrox Flats
Pyrox Flats is a large Dark Iron settlement housing numerous cranes and other machinery supporting the mining operations below. These war golems patrol the area.

Dark Iron smelting operations on Pyrox Flats
Dark Iron dwarves operate large smelting machinery on Pyrox Flats.

A Dark Iron lookout tower
A Dark Iron lookout tower located at the top of the ramp that leads down into the Cauldron.

Ramp leading down into the Cauldron
A large steep ramp leads down into the Cauldron, overlooking a lava pit inhabited by fire elementals.

Walkways and lifts on the northern edge of the Cauldron
These walkways and lifts line the northern edge of the Cauldron, providing access to the Slag Pit quarry.

The Slag Pit quarry 1
The underground Dark Iron quarry below Pyrox Flats, known as the Slag Pit. Most of the actual mining work is done by slaves – captured Horde and Alliance folk, generally.

The Slag Pit quarry 2
The excavation in the Slag Pit is quite extensive. Dark Iron dwarves patrol, keeping the slaves in line.

Dark Iron miners
Not all of the work is done by slaves – there are living quarters above the quarry for Dark Iron dwarves, overseen by [Chambermaid Pillaclencher].

Lava below the Slag Pit
The lower reaches of the Slag Pit contain large pools of lava, and are home to flame elementals, all of whom are minions of Archduke Calcinder.

Iron Summit
The Iron Summit is a neutral settlement, established after the Shattering. It sits upon a large hill overlooking the western end of the Cauldron.

The entrance to Blackwing Descent
Located half way up the eastern edge of Blackrock Mountain is the entrance to the Blackwing Descent raid. This platform was also where the fight against Nefarian, the lord of Blackwing Lair, took place. In the distance are the mountains of Dun Morogh.

Southern entrance to Stonewrought Pass
Stonewrought Pass is a long tunnel leading from the north-eastern corner of Searing Gorge up to the eastern edge of Dun Morogh. Prior to the Shattering it was kept locked, but is now open for anyone.

Northern edge, bordering Dun Morogh
The northern edge of Searing Gorge borders the Alliance dwarf zone of Dun Morogh. The two are separated by a great chasm.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

World Re-View

Quite some time ago I wrote a series of ‘screenshot’ posts, each a sort of visual guide to the best of a particular zone on Azeroth:

Unfortunately after the first four it felt like I never had any spare time to make more (they take quite a while to make), and then I eventually stopped playing World of Warcraft entirely for a time, with World of Tanks and then Skyrim serving as distractions from too-much raiding and guild drama.

I am back, though, and with a fancy new computer that can take WoW with every graphics setting turned up to full without even trying. Moreover, I’m no longer in a guild that demands so much of my time, so I’m free to wander about Azeroth at my own pace, enjoying the sights and taking screenshots of them. This is somewhat easier now, with Cataclysm and the ability to fly everywhere, and it also allows for more variety of camera angles (I often wish I could fly in real life when taking photos!).

My original plan when starting the series was to document Azeroth as it was before the Shattering hit (so I started with… the Burning Crusade zones, which were unaffected. Good call), but clearly that was too ambitious a task for someone of my motivation level. So, the plan is now to show Azeroth as it currently is – something to look back on in years to come and remember fondly the time we spent there.

The only thing left to decide now is which zone to photograph next!