Catching Up

"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings." - Lewis Carroll
Unless this is your first visit to Battle Medic (and if so, welcome!), you are aware that the month of April was dominated by the 20 Days of WoW Challenge. I wasn't really able to do much posting on topics other than the challenge itself, so I figured that it might be nice to pull up a chair, pour ourselves a drink and catch up on what's been going on.

"Reading the quotes you chose for the beginnings of these posts is awesome sprinkles on a cupcake of win." - Glorwynn of Heavy Wool Bandage via Twitter
Of all the comments and reactions that my 20 Days of... blogathon generated, the one quoted above is my absolute favourite.

I learned many things during the last month while I tackled the Challenge. I learned that I like writing and posting everyday. And even though I didn't accomplish my goal of posting each and every day, I like the feeling of frequent posts. I have never in my life written as much or as often as I did last month. It was a lot harder than I thought to consistently churn out quality content, even when the topics were set ahead of time. Overall, however, I am extremely happy with how the Challenge went.

There are several posts that I am unsatified with (Day 7 and Day 19 were fairly lackluster efforts), but there are many more posts that I am very proud of: Day 5, talking about the books of Azeroth. Day 15 surprised me since the post ended up having nothing to do with WoW at all, but reads well and felt really good to write. The post on Day 17 is special because I had a lot of fun doing the images of Southshore and Loch Modan for it.

I also realized that I really enjoy writing the little in-character fiction pieces that I included in Day 20: Denouement, and the older post Pushing a Boulder Uphill. It is a completely different style of writing; one that is quite compelling and something that I want to explore further. I am very pleased with how Denouement turned out, even though I wish I would have given it one final edit before hitting the publish button - I think the prose could be a bit tighter.

The 20 Days of WoW Challenge also taught me that I have a long way to go in terms of engaging my readers and generating more interaction through the comments. I was blown away by the reader response to these posts when it came to pageviews - I averaged about 120 pageviews per day, not including people using readers - but those views didn't translate into comments. It's something that I would like to improve on, but am not entirely sure how.


After several weeks of working on it to the exclusion of everything else, Shadowgarde finally managed to down Cho'gall a couple of times, bringing us to 9 of 12 bosses down in normal progression. Cho'gall still refuses to drop Holy Paladin gear, however, which puts him on my naughty list.

I find it amazing that once I got comfortable with what I needed to do and when I needed to do it, the fight becomes quite easy. The trick for me as the Paladin assigned to the tanks was to learn to anticipate the moments during the add phases that the Cho'gall tank would be taking extreme damage and to time the use of cooldowns accordingly. As well, convincing the Add Tank to stay within Line-of-Sight so that my Beacon of Light could heal him helped tremendously.

Unfortunately, we've had a bit of a setback in raid attendance. Our two tanks and several of our regular raiders have gone AWOL since Easter, leaving us scrambling for alternatives. We've been doing fine; we're still managing to get our farm bosses down without too much fuss, but our progression work on Nefarian has completely ground to a halt. And with Patch 4.2 looming on the horizon and with it the imminent appearance of the next raiding tier, time is running out to accomplish my 12/12 goal.


What does it mean when there are a dozen mobs running all over the place, spells flying every-which-way, so many things going on that I can't even begin to keep track of them all, and through it all somebody is constantly punching me in the face?

Oh yes, it must mean that I'm tanking.

I took Fannon 2.0 into the Scarlet Monastery Library last night to get the last experience points needed to finally ding level 40. In the process I dipped my foot into tanking for the first time since the Elemental Invasions that preceded Cataclysm, and for the first time ever on a Paladin.

Now, firstly, I was a full five levels above the next highest in the group and going into the SM Library at the very last level that I was eligible to do so in the Dungeon Finder, so I expected it to be a complete faceroll. I wasn't disappointed, either. We steamrolled the dungeon, and I was doing double the DPS of the next highest person - again, not unexpected given the level discrepancy.

I mention it because even given all that, Tanking is just as chaotic and insane as I remember. Trying to keep track of where the mobs are, who they're attacking and still keep up a threat/DPS rotation was a lot of work, whereas healing the same dungeon on my lowbie Shaman, Thallie, was a snorefest.

We succeeded and completed the dungeon without any casualties, or really even any real scares, even when I pulled Arcanist Doan somewhat prematurely. But the lesson learned here is that I need to do a lot of work before I can call myself an accomplished Tank. It gives me a new appreciation for what those meat-shields go through every raid.

On the other hand, my main's Protection off-spec (which arguably has better gear than my main spec), is a lot of fun to play doing dailies on Tol Barad.


The wife and Dwarfling went to visit family for six days over the Easter holidays, which allowed me the unprecedented opportunity to binge on WoW like I haven't done in months. And while I spent a fair bit of time raiding and instancing on my main, I also dedicated a great deal of time to my young, dungeoneering Shaman.

When we last left Thallie she still had the Level 30 achievement banner hanging off of her, and when the Easter weekend started that's just where she remained. Twenty-four hours after my wife left for her trip and dozens of random dungeon runs later, however, Thallie was sitting at a very pretty level 40. All told I probably spent about Eight or Nine hours running dungeon after dungeon and having an absolute blast.

Scarlet Monastery Library, Armory and Cathedral, Razorfen Kraul, Maraudon, Dire Maul Warpwood Quarter, and Uldaman were all knocked down in exceptionally short order.

In the process I was fortunate to run into a couple of extremely good groups of people. On two separate occasions the random groups were fun and chatty and above all competent, and so stayed together for multiple instances. As fast and anonymous as the Dungeon Finder can tend to make instance runs, it's still a wonderful feeling when you run across that great group that is a lot of fun to play with. It's a pity that it doesn't happen very often.

Aside from the dungeons, though, I also decided to get Thallie her first title. Noblegarden has been my favourite WoW holiday ever since I did it for the first time on my priest, and "The Noble" is probably my favourite title as well. I ended up gaining about two levels just from doing the holiday quests and the few quests required to get the boat needed to cross Thousand Needles so I could do [Desert Rose] and [Hard Boiled].

Bunnies! Bunnies, it must be bunnies!
The tricky part of the Noblegarden meta achievement for me was finding an Orc female, which apparently are as rare as a Blood Elf with a mullet on my server. I even tried running Battlegrounds to see if I could find one there (which ended up getting me another 2 levels). I ended up riding to Orgrimmar (Water Walking for the win) and using Far Sight (also, FTW) to spy on the entrance to see if I could spot one. It took me two evenings of searching, but I eventually found that green, fanged goddess, stuck bunny ears on her and got my achievement. The Hordies that were outside Orgrimmar only killed me a little.

They were rather short-sighted considering Thallie is a relatively rare Dwarf Female, and was also wearing the Elegant Dress - perfect for their holiday achievement needs.

Oh well... say hello to Thallie the Noble, level 44.


  1. A nice addon for tanks is tauntmaster - this is a raid frame that shows you your group's health bars and when they are pulling threat. You can bind (and it does so automatically depending on your class) your taunt spells or ranged attacks so when you see someone go read, you can hit that to taunt, rather than look for them and target the mob.

    it supports l/r click plus modifiers, so I have hand of reckoning and (the spell that causes several mobs attacking the target to target me instead), plus judgement and avengers shield as backups.

    I use Dhud, and position this just to the left of it, so I can see straight away what is happening. It also means that I don't need to fiddle around with my spell bindings for vuhdo so I can off heal at a pinch when I have a threat lead using my holy setup.

  2. I would recommend TidyPlates too, in particular the Gray - Tank theme, with nameplates NOT overlapped. Particularly until people hit level 80 and start Cata dungeons where things actually HIT hard, DPS is very reluctant to /focus you as tank and choose your target on pulls.

    I have a level 70 warrior I've been leveling mostly through dungeons and Tidy Plates plus a short macro:

    "/party Howdy, please set me as /focus and attack my target. I don't taunt for dumb DPS or intentional extra pulls because you want to AoE while I die
    /party P.S. DKs please turn off Blood Presence!"

    Particularly once I hit 58 and Ramparts, Blood Furnace etc the Death Knights could start to be exceptionally obnoxious choosing their own targets and ignoring my Skull kill targets.

  3. I'm still too afraid to tank... I keep trying, but one run of Deadmines (old-school DM, that is) was enough to have me hiding under a blanket vowing to never tank again. I still WANT to, I just... clearly need four friends to level with me, heh.

    ...also, thanks, now I want to watch Once More With Feeling and I don't have time before I have to leave for work. >:|

  4. Must admit I've been tanking on my dk who is now 76 and you need a thick skin lol

  5. @Jamman: I must admit that I haven't heard of either of those addons. Tauntmaster certainly sounds like something that would work well and solve a few problems for me. I'll have to check it out.

    Gla: You know, I've been meaning to install Tidyplates ever since I first tried out tanking back in Wrath, but I have never got around to it. My interface is, aside from grid, completely stock and hardly optimal for tanking. I get by just fine while healing, but there are a lot more things to keep track of when tanking that Grid just can't handle.

    Apple: Based on my whole one dungeon of tanking experince, the newly tweeked lowbie instances are a great way of getting your feet wet when it comes to tanking. The mobs seem really underpowered compared to a level-appropriate party, and the tank doesn't really have a lot to do. Even if a mob does get loose and start pummelling a DPSer or your healer, the mob will normally die before it can do much harm.

    It certainly is much easier to learn it at lower levels where people have fewer expectations than it is to try during Cata regulars or heroics where people are a lot twitchier.

    "I can bring whole cities to ruin,
    And still have time to get a soft-shoe in."
    Now go watch it again. :)

    Martin: Very, very true; it makes it a lot easier when you don't care what other people think of you.

  6. Another extremely useful tool for running dungeons is the addon SkullMe (one word) which places a Skull raid icon on your current target.

    It has a setting for how long you need to be targetting a new mob before it changes, so tab targetting (which I do a lot of as a warrior tank) won't keep switching your mark :)

    @Apple: I first levelled my Warrior in Burning Crusade as a levelling partner to my wife's Shadow Priest. I only started tanking on him when our guild tanks all left (amazingly all three quit WoW completely due to RL). I stepped straight into BC heroics and learned very quickly how to tank. I am now a full time prot warrior, even for BG's and Arena.

    My advice would be to read up as much as you can on your abilities, practice your key bindings (particularly tab targetting) on groups of three or four low level mobs and jump right in at the deep end.