Thursday, February 26, 2015

4.28. To Breach a Bastion

DoD wipes during an attempt
on the Nefarian encounter,
Blackwing Descent

100 Meter Lavastroke

"Our pillar needs help, down an interrupter."

"Which pillar?"

"Jungard's going. Blain's next."

"Just the next person's name, please. Cut the chatter."

"Insayno has this."



"East pillar."

"Raina's next."

"Raina's DEAD, already requested help!"

"I can get over there. Zedman can get over there."

"Calm down. Just everybody relax."

"Boney, you’re up, by the way."

"You'll be dead before you reach it."

"Too late, he's already in the lava."

"Heh, we got ourselves a fucking Michael Phelps here."

"Get a shield on him or something, Christ."


"Chatter down, please. Waiting for Electrocute."

"I think he’s going to make it."

"Can you get this next one?"

"I got it, I got it."

"He's almost here."

"Slow down. SLOW. DOWN. Let’s get everybody up before 70%, please."

"DPS off."

"...aaand, he's up."

"I don't believe it. Zedman is now at east pillar."

"Welcome. And you’re next."

"Are we clear?"

"Jungard, next."

"Hit mine, you're up Mature."

"Top everyone off, we're pushing Electrocute now."

Nefarian rattled, hovering far above us. Forks of electricity pierced the room, striking every living member of the raid. Healers bathed each pillar in light once Electrocute had passed. Panic turned to relief, and doubt reformed as confidence. We burned the Chromatic Prototypes, now able to stay ahead of the three minute timer, and watched as the lava began to drain from the room.

You’re up, Mature.

I beelined to the north pillar, targeting a gigantic pile of bones. Moments later, Nefarian exhaled, and a bright Shadowblaze Spark smashed into the floor next to me. Bones re-animated into constructs, tearing and clawing as they came to life. Upgrades were sparse since starting Tier 11 -- I rested hope on Throngus' Finger and Symbiotic Worm, the best two trinkets I'd been able to procure. With Death and Decay encircling the feet of the bone constructs, I pulled them away from the north pillar, out of the flame, and prepared to do my dance.

The path took me along the outside ring of Nefarian's arena, moving clockwise from noon to five: this delayed the amount of time the room was filled with flame. I kept them moving long enough to begin to collapse, their life energy draining as the blue flame snuffed out. But within moments of the constructs coming apart, another Shadowblaze Spark began the cycle anew.

I continued along the ring until I approached the south-eastern pillar, calling out for extra heals in the moments I'd be out of line-of-sight. This is where things consistently fell apart. Go behind the pillar, risk death, but give the raid extra time to DPS Nefarian? Or cut my path short, and cross the center of the arena? This was a safer bet for my own survivability, but accelerated the spread of blue flame -- an encroaching threat that reduced mobility, strained healers, and allowed for the occasional construct to take a pot shot at a raider.

I spiked wildly, healers struggled to keep me topped off, but I couldn't reach for a cooldown. All cooldowns had to be ready for Electrocutes, now striking us at a rate of one every 10% of Nefarian's health devoured. The spikes were too much for me to bear. I had to cut across. The blue flame was not burning out of the construct's eyes. Too many mistakes. Too much back-pedaling, not enough side-strafing (a faster way for a tank to kite). I zig-zagged through the middle, attempting to avoid the burning blue areas now painted in giant patches across the room. Constructs were getting away from me. Healers were dying. DPS was dying. I was dying.

I was dead.

Zedman's clutch lava bath had been in vain. We exited Blackwing Descent that night, our second full night of attempts on Nefarian, empty handed.

DoD kills Nefarian to earn a legacy
raid achievement and guild xp,
Blackwing Lair

An Undetectable Breaking Point

After two weekends of unsuccessful attempts on Nefarian, I worried about morale. In the days of Blackwing Lair, it wasn't unheard of to sink nearly all the raid weekends into one boss, pull after relentless pull. I was reminded of this fact frequently: every wipe in Blackwing Descent forced us back to the summoning stone perched atop Nefarian's old balcony, an outlook across the entirety of the Burning Steppes. It was hard to believe how fast six years had gotten away from me.

Running back, attempt after attempt, Kerulak resumed his position, while Annihilation and Ater prepared the warriors for their shout rotation, tiny bits of aggro that collected the Chromatic Drakonids. Dalans, Kadrok, Haribo, Klocker and I stood with the other healers and DPS in a tight clump, measuring our heals carefully, keeping people topped off, while casters like Turtleman and melee like Blain ripped minions to shreds. And oh, the screams that filled Teamspeak in those days, when bosses took months, not days, to complete.

I remember Ater's early concern with morale when we'd stagnated on a boss for six weeks. Six weeks! Raiders were made of sturdier stuff back then...they had no choice. The only way to shed the weak was by slaying internet dragons. You persevered because you were a bat-shit, crazy, out-of-your-mind kind of gamer, the only type of person who would be online this late in the evening on a Friday night, glued to pixels instead of a social life.

...except that this was social. Just an unconventional kind of sociality. There were thirty-nine other living breathing humans making this god damn raid work. Strategizing, coordinating, working out the kinks. Internet dragons weren't being slain in a vacuum.

As the memory of my shaman's ghost melted away, replaced by my death knight, few of those original faces remained: Blain, Sir Klocker, Turtleman, to name a few. Old-school raiders that knew what it meant to face a challenge and not give up just because they weren't seeing fancy loot. But so many of these faces were new, and how many of them were from Wrath era? How many had never experienced the suffering of weeks and weeks of work on a boss like Kael'thas, and felt the adrenaline rush through the veins of forty people screaming at the top of their lungs when a boss finally crashed to the ground? Screaming amid the knowledge that they were of a very select few on the server that were able to pull off such a feat?

Vets like Dalans and Annihilation and Haribo and Ater were being replaced with fresh faces like Dewgyd and Aetherknight and Rainaterror and Hygia. A raid comprised of leaders had morphed into one of followers. Boosts in morale wouldn't grow out of thin air. They had to want it. In Wrath, the shinies were perpetually dangling in front of their faces. Cataclysm, by contrast, was more like the days of yore: brutal, terrifying, and asking raiders to sacrifice of themselves in much greater quantities...but without the accompanying rewards.

DoD tore through raids in Wrath of the Lich King at such an alarming rate, that whenever progress stagnated like this, even just for a couple of weekends, I grew somber as I contemplated the current lineup:

How many more wipes before they start to consider a 10-Man?

DoD continues to refine Halfus Wyrmbreaker,
Bastion of Twilight

Wrangling The Wyrmbreaker

I didn't have to pitch a raid shift to Blain for the third week of attempts -- the line-up dictated it. Horateus, a paladin tank that Teras offered to us for a few weeks, was unavailable. The death knights acquiesced; Insayno, Soot and I all knew the limitations of our toolkit as they pertained to the off-tank portion of Nefarian's third phase. Rather than waste everyone's time on an encounter we were ill-equipped to refine, Blain directed us to Bastion of Twilight, with the hopes of making some...any...kind of progress there.

Halfus Wyrmbreaker was first up on our tour through the starfish-shaped citadel, floating high above the Twilight Highlands. We reached the Bastion via a portal nestled amongst dark violet spirals of architecture that twisted skyward like a pit of sacrificial daggers. Inside, deep purples and cobalt blues painted a glowing path down corridors which lead to the awaiting encounters.

The giant ettin stood on an exposed platform, a two headed bi-pedal monstrosity wielding a glowing mace. Narrow red slits in eyeholes darted around the room, casing for any unexpected sound or movement in the rookery. Near the edge of the exposed room flew a horrifically enlarged and mutated version of a proto-drake: Wyrmbreaker's pet proto-behemoth. Three drakes stood at attention around the perimeter of Halfus' platform. Two more lay chained, health bars indicating that they were in no shape to fight.

The encounter required us to have a tank pull the ettin while three members of raid all spoke to a drake, causing them to join the encounter. Each drake provided both a buff and a debuff to Wyrmbreaker (or his Proto-Behemoth) and with each drake we slew, Halfus would buckle, taking additional damage.

The trick with Halfus was to walk that ever increasing fine line of what your raid could dish out vs. what you could withstand. Either we released more drakes, increasing the risk levied on the raid, but ultimately earning a payoff in the form of increased damage. Or, leave drakes alone, potentially improving raid survivability, but handicapping our ability to finish him off before Wyrmbreaker the returned the favor.

Never mind the fact that the drakes changed from week to week, randomizing the encounter further.

We coughed and sputtered on an initial few attempts, but before long, found our groove. Drakes were pulled, separated, and burned. The ettin roared, knocking the melee back in a disorienting attempt to prevent us from interrupting his Shadow Nova. Goldenrod kept a close eye on the impending cast, counterspelling it before it blasted the entire raid with damage. Before we knew it, the two headed creature crashed to the ground in a heap.

Progress had resumed. And the raid evening was still young.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

4.27. The Race

"Tauren Warrior"
Artwork by TamplierPainter


I hope you get cancer and die.

The worst part of being a pack rat is the conscious awareness of your irrational emotional attachment to garbage. Whether facing a full bank in game or an inordinate collection of very important things in your computer room, sensibility wracks you with guilt. All signs point to the dumpster, yet you find ways to justify why cutting your refuse loose would be a bad idea. Textbook excuses are your crutch: a lack of time needed to organize, no guarantee you'll ever come across the item again, a hypothetical future need. Justifications only bury the core issue: an inability to admit defeat. It is the notion that you, at one point of sound mind and body, held a noble, rational argument for its value, seeing in it what others could not. And with a bit of effort, you could extract that diamond from a pile of filthy coal. You just needed to care enough.

Being unable to admit defeat convinces you that a diamond exists somewhere in your coal mine, so you continue to dig and dig, unaware that there is no mine at all...just a hole in the earth you dig for yourself.


Check your fucking facts, you piece of shit.

One of my newest members, inspired by the camaraderie he experienced as a member of Descendants of Draenor, brought an idea to me one afternoon.

"Well, I was thinking. I'd like to set something up, a race of sorts. Maybe something like from Thunder Bluff to Orgrimmar. Get everybody together that's interested and have them roll a brand new tauren and see who can make it to Orgrimmar first. Winner could get some gold, enchants, gems, things like that. Do you think that would be a fun event?"

"Absolutely. I'm sure a bunch of people would be interested in participating. In fact, let me sweeten the deal: I'll match the award. Whatever you are able to throw in for the winner, we'll double up by pulling from the guild vault."

"Wow, that would really be great! Thanks, I'm gonna go make a post about it now."

Following the forum post detailing out the date, time, and the rules for participating, an update to the guild Message of the Day caused word to spread rapidly. Some guild members even offered to add to the award pool without even being asked to. I watched the outpouring of generosity from our auction house players, and was proud of the melting pot of players who called DoD their home.

You don't have a clue what you're doing, do you? DoD is a joke, lol.

The day of the race arrived; a herd of naked cows perched at the top of Thunder Bluff's southwestern elevator. I watched the countdown in guild chat, and when the virtual gunshot fired, they were off: a blur of bovines stampeding through the green plains of Mulgore. The racers maintained a pack formation, following the path that slowly veered in a southeasterly direction, with their sights set on breaching The Great Gate, a defensive wall constructed by the tauren in response to Camp Taurajo's decimation. Beyond the gate, the relative safety of the freshly rolled characters could not longer be guaranteed.
"Shaman Draenei"
Artwork by Nadou

High Steaks

Though it is contested territory, the wide-open plains of the Barrens has long been considered Horde owned. From Vanilla through Wrath, Horde outposts stood diligently at select points along the outskirts of the arid savanna. Nearly all of the action ever faced in the zone took place at the Crossroads, a northern trade town connecting four distinct roads that lead northward to Ashenvale, westward to the Stonetalon Peaks, southward to the Thousand Needles via Razorfen territory, and eastward, for those bound for the Horde capital. Pockets of Alliance insurgents would make their random attacks, sneaking onto ships bound for Ratchet, or driving a southern charge via Dustwallow Marsh -- their geographic liaison to Theramore. These pushes would never last, and the Horde would rightfully put them in their place.

When the Cataclysm hit the Barrens, the dominance of the Horde receded. A gaping fiery tear in the land stretched entirely from western to eastern edges of the Barrens, cutting the Horde off and preventing them from effectively defending the southern, less protected areas. The Alliance moved quickly to take control of those southern points, setting up defenses at Fort Triumph and Forward Command. And ensuring that they remained the honorable, righteous faction they claimed to be, the Alliance slaughtered the undefended Camp Taurajo, to demonstrate how truly powerful and noble they were. This tear came to be known as The Great Divide, and is the reason the Horde lost its foothold over the zone.

Ask anybody and they’ll back me up. I had nothing to do with it.

DoD's freshly rolled cows passed through the remnants of Camp Taurajo, and within moments, the herd of cattle had dispersed. Now in hotly contested territory, imminent danger forced them to rethink. Running blinding through the Southern Barrens not only risked inadvertently aggroing high level mobs, any Alliance present for questing would most certainly jump at the chance to kill a naked tauren. Each racer had their own idea about the most effective route, and sticking together was no longer a winning strategy.

Mobs and leveling Alliance were the least of their worries.

After spending a few minutes trying to decide how to get through the Overgrowth, an area of rich vegetation now lining the borders of the The Great Divide, the naked cows made their way northward. Most had avoided death by this point; the race was still anyone's game. Within moments of passing through Vendetta Point, a new threat stood in their path. A level 85 draenei shaman, draped entirely in PvP gear, hopped off her flying mount, drew both weapons, and proceeded to brutalize the racers, wasting them in a frenzy of windfury. The tauren never had a chance.

Warnings spammed guild chat; the racers responded and adjusted as best they could. The draenei was out for blood, mounted quickly after each subsequent killing, scouting quickly in the direction of the nearest graveyard, waiting for the players' imminent release so the harassment could continue unabated.

At first, it was an interesting challenge to overcome. Perhaps the racers would find a way to stagger their re-spawns, or temporarily form allegiances to work together in mutual distraction. If they could at least make it to the Overgrowth, it could potentially provide some cover from a distance. It's the kind of optimism and hope you only see from the truly dedicated, those who make a habit of getting blood from a stone. 

These tactics were futile. 

It became obvious very quickly that a max level character with a flying mount had all the necessary tools to keep lvl 1 characters from moving only a few steps before turning them into ghosts. The "interesting challenge" quickly devolved into full-on harassment. It went on for an hour, yet the worst was yet to come.

OMG you are the worst guild leader on Deathwing. How's that feel?

A Real Team Player

Zedman was the first to whisper me about the lesser known details behind the draenei shaman.

"Did you know that there's a shaman out there that's killing and camping the racers?"

"Sadly, yes."

"You know who it is, right?"

"No, who?"

"It's Sentra's brother."

I rested my elbows on the desk and massaged my temples.

"You're kidding me."

"Wish I was. That shaman is Sentra's brother over on the Alliance side, well known gankers. They show up in Deathwing forum threads a lot. Sentra's feeding him positioning."

I popped open the guild roster. Sentra was online. I noted his position in the world: Southern Barrens. Un-fucking-believable.

[To: Sentra] Are you telling your brother to attack the racers?

[From: Sentra] Nope.

I took a deep breath.

[To: Sentra] Think it through. Are you absolutely certain this is the answer you want to give me?

[From: Sentra] Whatever.

I scrolled to Sentra's name in the roster, highlighted it, and clicked the Remove from Guild button. Miscellaneous cheers filled guild chat shortly after, with a few random whispers arriving to the tune of "Thank God" and "About Damn Time". 

All the effort I put into trying to see the good side of an otherwise d-bag player -- the long, late night arena matches, the wasted discussions on giving your word and sticking to it in an attempt to pave a path for him into the progression raid, the energy spent on giving him some credit long after others had written him off -- was gone instantly in the press of a button.

Sentra was furious. He demanded that I speak to him about it in Vent. I obliged, but his volatile, scathing rants brought nothing new to the table, nothing I didn't already know. Accusations littered with profanity and abuse told the tale of how I had no evidence and how there was no specific rule banning this kind of behavior anyway. I made it clear to him that all the evidence I needed was the knowledge of his presence in the Southern Barrens conveniently lining up with his brother's rampage. And as for the absence of a rule explicitly stating that a "guild member should not harass other guild members with malice"...I told him to go fuck himself.

You better hope I never come to Denver, because if I do, I'll be paying you and your family a visit.

Shortly after the kick/ban from Vent, he took to phone texting; we had exchanged numbers early on in our Arena history. Every few minutes another SMS message arrived, expressing curiosity as to acquisition of various diseases, telling me how incompetent I was, how hated I was on Deathwing-US, how I had no facts in the case, didn't know what I was doing, and how my guild was a joke. He even tossed in a classy threat of violence as icing on the cake. I wouldn't put it past him; if he could knock out a stranger's front teeth, I'm sure he'd pull no punches in giving me some free dental work.

The harassment from Sentra's brother extended past the end of the race, long after the awards were handed out, and we got on with our lives. Sentra, meanwhile, couldn't get on with his. Message after message caused my phone to continue to buzz, saying the same thing over and over, just in slightly different ways -- pathetic, empty threats from a troll with no ability to separate game from reality. Eventually, I stopped looking at it.


Late that evening, long after the kids were tucked in and Jul was resting comfortably in bed, I wrapped up a few more job submissions, /waved goodnight to the guild and headed upstairs. It was only a few moments after my head hit the pillow that a final SMS message arrived, vibrating my phone out of slumber. I rolled over, squinting in the dark to read the message glowing out of the screen.

Please let me back in the guild. This is all I have.

"Who is it?" Jul asked, stirring from her sleep.

I put the phone down on the nightstand, and rolled back to my pillow.

"Nobody important."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

4.26. All Good Things

What a Ride

It wasn't entirely clear what went wrong. Some things couldn't be said on-the-record, piles of signed confidentiality documents attested to that fact. Legalese buried who was at fault or why; I'd certainly never be cleared to know it. Gossip and speculation were the only options, words muttered behind closed doors and under bated breath. While the details of how things spiraled out of control so quickly would remain left to guesses, one thing was perfectly clear by the end of it...

I was unemployed.

Dust collected up into random piles on Jerry's desk in an otherwise empty office. Jerry ran the show, took a gamble on me three years earlier, instantly ending my career rut, my six years of hell. He was my boss's boss, the one who had final say, and who also happened to share an interest in a certain MMO. I'd catch the occasional glimpse of him, winding his undead rogue through Azeroth between conference calls, and think, that's a pretty sweet gig. Calling the shots at the office, setting up a team, and getting them to make some magic happen. All with enough time left over to check on your auctions before punching out. Jerry was king of the castle and a gamer to boot. They do exist!

I remember a few weeks after getting the job, firing up our then-recent kill video of Archimonde, taken from the point of view of a shaky shadow-priest. Jerry gave a nod of acknowledgement. He saw the raid flung up into air, a few of my guild coming close to cratering -- he knew the stakes. The other folks at the office paid no attention, but Jerry leaned in and watched closely. For a brief moment, the guy that could hire and fire all day long and a simple ColdFusion developer, were on the same level. "Got some computer games goin' on over there?" came a gibe from across the cubes, "Don't look work related to me!" Jerry and I looked at each other. They'll never understand.

One year in, Jerry was gone. His work was done, the team was self-sufficient, and he was off to solve bigger problems elsewhere. I resumed my role of "the only WoW addict in the office", but was lucky enough to build a kinship with my immediate superior, "the boss" Dave. Not a gamer, but definitely a down-to-earth manager that held his team in high regard, fighting to protect us from high drama and distraction whenever it surfaced. Dave mentored and guided me those next two years, helped me take pride in what I did, told me when my work was good enough, and gave me a place to vent when I didn't see the quality I wanted from others.

The respect and trust I'd earned in him made this process all the more difficult to digest.

Negotiations between the buying company and ours had broken down. Rather than give it another go, the company chose to call it a day with some shred of dignity intact, and leave those who helped build it with a bit of severance. The team I'd grown close to over the past three years, who'd come to learn of my WoW addiction, forever branding me as the guy with the Time-Lost Proto Drake, were now divvying up the office supplies and random hardware. The trunk of the civic was crammed with so many reams of printer paper that I am still, to this day, using up the last of it. Once clear of any valuables, Dave flicked the switch on the lights for the last time, locked the office, and shook my hand.

"Well, this is it," his eyes got wide as he shifted from professional to comedian, "Relatively sucks!"

I laughed, "Yeah. Sucks a lot." I reminded him to let me know if he found anything I'd be good at. "Keep me privy, would ya?"

He waved his hand in a motion of comfort, "Aaaah, it'll be fiiiiiiiiiiiiine."

I about lost it on the drive home.

They'll never understand, Jerry

The Worst Job in the World

You'd better be damn thankful for any job you ever get. There is a lineup of people outside the door just waiting to take it from you. Mom's programming was a double-edged sword in adult life. While employed, I gave it my all, did everything I could to impress (perhaps a bit too much), and was constantly striving for recognition and approval. The downside? When unemployed, I was a mess. Distraught, unable to think straight, I barely processed the day-to-day responsibilities. "Unemployment" was a swear word growing up -- another example of Mom's tendency to bucket things with such polarity. When Jul asked if I submitted my unemployment paperwork, I lied and said I had, desperately avoiding it, pouring that energy into finding work instead.

The uncertainty of it all is what makes looking for work the worst job in the world. The knowledge of coming home to a wife and two kids that rely solely on you as the breadwinner. What if finances dry up? What if I never work again? Are we going to lose the house? Be out on the street? Fear was not an alien concept as a motivator. Fear kept me at a job for six years, trapped by self-doubt. Fear kept decent, well-played gamers returning to raid leaders that shredded their confidence and self-esteem, turning them into a joke for all to point and laugh at, living on in infamy on sites like You're The Man Now, Dog-dot-com.

Fear works, but it's no way to live.

The weeks to follow were spent with WoW on one screen and on the other. I cared for a recovering wife, toiled over kids, and tried to focus on the biggest problems facing the guild, while images of unemployment lines danced through my mind. Resumes went out the door while I refreshed my email, waiting for applicants to respond to my questions about their ability to tank, their experience in previous guilds, and whether or not they were selfish human beings.

More than once, I wavered -- the mouse cursor dangling above the "Delete Email" button, but never actually killing the idiotic applicant. I caught myself letting some slip through, the poorly written and the badly sold -- the kind of guild applicant I'd end on sight. With my own resumes out the door and being judged somewhere else, it became increasingly difficult to axe a potential guildy for a typo or some other trivial infraction. By the evenings, I was a zombified mess, exhausted from the constant second-guessing of the very rules I swore to uphold. Where once sat a full plate fit for a king, there now lay a crusted dish of rotten food overflowing to the floor.

For weeks it bore down on my shoulders, yet I still had time to show up to raids. Every Friday, every Sunday. Like clockwork, I was online and overseeing invites, ensuring spots were filled on time and by-the-book. I kept it together, because the 25 was the life blood of the guild, and no amount of inconveniences IRL were going to put a stop to that. I kept it together because it mattered.

But I wasn't coming out unscathed.

The 25-Man team waits patiently for the
lava to drain from Nefarian's arena,
Blackwing Descent


Two full nights of work had gone into Nefarian, ending in depressing wipes and no perceptible progress. The hunger to clear Blackwing Descent intensified. The last encounter of the instance, in which we did battle with both Nefarian and his dead sister Onyxia simultaneously, was rough. Each of the three phases floated DoD's baggage back to the surface, mechanics long dormant were now plaguing us, long after we'd emerged from WoTLK as champions. Aggro between the two dragons in phase one, while swimming through lava to pillars of safety in phase two presented their own challenges. The structure of the encounter had an unfortunate tendency to isolate the mouth breathers, and make it very easy to point the finger at the biggest offenders.

Perhaps too easy.

Ultimately, the Nefarian encounter hinged on a player that wasn't entirely representative of the type of player I wished the roster would emulate. It hinged on a player lacking the intended proficiency, a known offender guilty of making poor judgement calls under duress, a person very good at spamming buttons, rather than staying calm under pressure. In short, a spaz.

Nefarian hinged on me. And I was blowing it.

Things went south during the transition from phase two to three. In a nod to the original Nefarian 40-man encounter, the great dragon would raise an army of dead minions that required an off-tank to collect up and kite. A meticulous orchestration was necessary. Various players did what they could to create as tight a pile of death as possible. The goal: have the minions collapse into a single spot in Nefarian's circular arena, dying in a clump, which was vital for the OT -- it meant an easy pick-up, once rezzed by Nefarian's blue flame.

Controlling them was so textbook, so understanding the mechanic was a non-issue. Nefarian's blue flame, if under their feet, would bring them to life -- and in order to ease the pain of phase three, an OT was to drag them away from said flame, keep them moving, forcing their life essence to expire. Without the blue flame, they would eventually collapse as lifeless bones, giving the healers some breathing room for a few moments. Then, the blue flame would alight once more, and the process would repeat. Textbook...especially for a tank that, at one point, was the envy of all other tanks in the game, thanks to an outrageous toolkit that excelled in AoE situations.

The minions were incorrigible. Random ones would flake off, wack healers, and kill DPS. When they weren't getting away from me, I was tripping over my own feet, not moving far enough to avoid blankets of blue flame. Every misstep, every accidental drag through fire reconstituted their undeath, and our healers were granted no reprieve.

Insayno was right. The warrior's AoE stun, Shockwave, trivialized phase three, and kiting the undead minions was cake for them. Shockwave was godly, and every raid in their right mind with a warrior tank on staff leveraged them for this particular role.

We had no warrior tank. We had me.

So, I struggled like the spaz I was, switching between Death and Decay, Blood Boil, and Heart Strike, keeping as many on me as I could, backpedaling like a cripple in my attempts to stay alive and keep them out of blue flame. My play was lackluster and rife with mistakes. Ending so many attempts in defeat gave me flashbacks to those first TBC raids I thrust Zanjina into. Dying. Failing. Contributing nothing to the damage meters. If my strategy was to lead by example, I was undoubtedly creating a raid rich with sadness and despair.