I have a bad feeling about this

Nope, not a Star Wars post, haha, fooled you. This post is part informative and part QQ!

Open up the evening with an attempt at a drake from Heroic Culling of Stratholme for our enhancement shaman that has been running H CoS for weeks to get it. Either we don’t make it in time or someone else in the group gets it.

Gave our paladin tank another shot at this. He was confident he could tank it. We were pretty sure it was a doomed venture from the start.

If you’ve never run CoS it goes like this:

You are teleported back in space and time to the human city of Stratholme prior to a zombie infestation. There is a dopey little pre-quest where you reveal the presence of plague-tainted grain to the locals of the nearby village. You then join Prince Arthas in his quest to purge the city of the undead plague. Note that “purge” means eradicate all life and unlife; nothing is to leave the city.

Oh yeah, you also look human for the duration of the run. /blech

The city is laid out like the Stratholme you may have run in the lower levels, the big difference being the amount of things on fire. This version of the city is still nice and pretty and you get to watch contaminated citizens get cut down by the guards at the gate. Irrelevant note: there are two high elf mage-priests at the gate. I want to see their talent trees, dammit.

The gimmick is that the demon Mal’Ganis summons “waves” of undead in random locations around the city to bother you (marked by a flag on your mini map), then you chase his minions through an inn, then through a smoke-filled alley way, and then you can face off against Mal’Ganis himself past Market Row. If you’re doing it timed, you skip Mal’Ganis, take the left turn and destroy the Infinite Corruptor before he kills a captive bronze drake. Success guarantees the drop of the bronze drake reins. Then you can face Mal’Ganis.

So you have 20 minutes to run around the city, plow through an inn, rush an alley way, and kill a special boss. One death is workable, a wipe spells failure.

The whole thing is scripted. There is no pause, no wait up I don’t have any mana, hold on so-and-so died, hey is anyone going to loot this. As soon as the wave is dead you have to be moving to the next wave. There are points where Arthas stops and you have to talk to him to progress to the next part, but on a timed run that is done as quickly as possible.

The first wave spawn seems to be consistent, it always has spawned at the first right turn. In the beginning. each wave is generally 3 elite undead plus a host of wandering non-elite zombies that bee line for healers. Healers are wise to either stand very close to the main combat so the tank can pick them off or very close to a mage that can Arcane Explode the zombies into bits. After the zombies, it quickly moves into waves consisting of a necromancer (caster that summons zombies), an abomination, and/or some nerubian casters. There are also acolytes that show up from time to time, cursing and chilling everything around them.

As soon each wave is slaughtered, the next flag appears on the map. The tank has to turn and run to it immediately. No looting, no eating. Just running. Marking the tank with a raid marker, like the green triangle, helps keep track of where he is so the soft squishies don’t out run the tank.

The 5th and 10th waves are bosses.

You meet Meathook (haha, stupid joke) first. He’s a standard abomination-sort with the additional feature of Chains. He has some bizarre formula that balances those that are low on the threat meter and furthest away from him, chooses one and casts a damaging stun effect on them. This generally tends to be the healer unless you take some precautions. Holy pallies can use Righteous Fury in this fight to push themselves up the threat chart, not sure what other healers can do. The easiest thing is to have a ranged DPS standing behind the healer in the hopes that the formula picks the DPS instead of the heals. It works pretty well, I’m usually the one chained 2/3 of the time.

The next boss is a humanoid, Salramm the Fleshcrafter. He drops a nice caster helm on heroic; looks stupid, but has nice stats and a meta gem slot. He does some casting stuff… there’s some adds… I do a lot of de-cursing… it all goes by pretty fast. The bosses themselves aren’t terribly tricky for a well-geared group.

You do have a few seconds to eat up after Meathook and Salramm. The add on Deadly Boss Mods is incredibly helpful here for knowing just how much time you have until the next wave. You also have time to loot the bosses, just do it fast, no time to dilly-dally and figure out if the drop is good for you. FFS do your research before heading in.

After Salramm, you head over to the inn. Arthas will join you there and become part of your company. Note that he is a paladin and uses Devotion Aura; if you have a pally already using that aura, switch to something else for the remainder of the instance (except the Infinite Corruptor, if you get that far Arthas does not go with you down that alley). If you are not running timed, you can rest a moment here. If time is of the essence, then talk to Arthas and head inside the inn.

Arthas talks to some NPCs, blah, blah, story, blah, blah, fighting! Fight your way upstairs and confront Chrono-Lord Epoch, a really big dragonkin that manipulates time and spreads curses. He’s vaguely annoying due to the time stops and time warps, but goes down easy. Talk to Arthas again… run through a secret passage into the “bad section” of town, where the streets are filled with smoke and rotting, ambulatory corpses. Visibility is a bitch here. Talk to Arthas again.

This is a bit of a harder guantlet than the first half of the instance. You are moving in a straight-ish line, but there are several elites hiding amongst the mobs of normal zombies. Your tank has to know where they are and get to them before Arthas does. Like all NPCs on an escort quest, Arthas has checked his brain, sanity, and self preservation at the door. Watch him like a hawk because he will run off and get killed.

The trick is to chain pull elites. Get the elite down to 10 or 20% and then move to the next elite in the crowd. Your DPS should be able to finish it off while the tank tangles with the next in line.

Get to Market Row and the air clears. Arthas stands by, patiently awaiting you to inform him of your readiness to continue. Screw Arthas and run to the path on the left, assuming you have made it there in time. Tear apart the Infinite Corruptor and claim your drake. Then stroll back to Arthas to fight ol’ MG.

Scared yet?

It’s really not that bad… with a good group. I’ve completed it within 20 minutes a few times now.

Having a mage along for the ride is a big help, we bring strudel (if you’re good on time, you can stop and get 1 or 2 ticks off a strudel in between waves, you don’t want to waste normal food like that), Arcane Intellect to increase the beginning mana pool of the casters,  de-cursing that does not detract from healing being done (removes mana stress of the healer as well), we also spellsteal the buff on Mal’Ganis (failure to remove the buff results in damaging attacks healing him or some bullshit, making the fight drag on forever). And we rock the DPS charts, Blizzard is awesome for the adds on the elite fights. Alternatively, a warlock with a fel puppy can provide the intellect buff as well as remove the buff from Mal’Ganis. SoL on the curses though. We really like to bring a shaman (besides the fact he’s the one that still needs the drake) for nummy mana totems.

Good DPS is a must, 1500+ minimum for a smooth ride. On a good run, I do 2.2k+ overall, with spikes over 3k on the bosses.  The tank should also be rocking some good numbers here. The healer has to be spot-on, no sneezing or wondering if the last boss drop loot was picked up by someone (both have happened, both have caused wipes).

But the most important person is the tank. The tank has to set the pace, and it is not a leisurely one. The first part is random, so reacting ASAP to the next location is a must. From the inn onwards, the scripting is a little tighter, it’s possible to predict what and where most of the mobs will be. The initial threat has to be huge in each encounter or the DPS can’t support the tank. The tank cannot allow mobs to get behind him or he’ll tax the healer too much by not avoiding blows.

This is not a test of a tank class’s mechanics, I have personally run this successfully with a DK tank and a druid tank. I have heard of warrior and pally tanks doing just fine. I have never seen a LFG demanding a certain type of tank or excluding another.

This is a test of the tank’s skill. Sadly, our pally tank seems to be lacking in that department.

Targeting, as usual, is an issue. I think a good part of his threat issue is that he spends time targeting corpses and party members. A lot of time. He’s a clicker for targeting and it shows.

Moving between waves is slow, even when someone is calling the locations out. It’s like watching a scene in slow motion as his character stops, waits, turns around, stops, waits, then moves forward. I’m already halfway to the next wave, clearing out zombies on the way, and then aggro the next elite and die. Never happens with the other tanks I’ve run this with.

Boss is up and he inquires if we’re ready. It’s scripted, we’re on a timer. It is your responsibility to pull the mob and our responsibility to be ready to kill it or heal you. We’ve had this discussion before, just pull it already. I’m all for courtesy, but there is a time and a place. Timed CoS is neither.

There is a tricky pull in the hallway of the inn. Arthas walks into the hallway, stops in the middle and two mobs appear on each end of the hallway. The healer and DPS wait out on the landing, the tank follows Arthas in. The tank has to grab the two on the far end (which are the ones Arthas runs towards like a ninny) and drag them back to the other two that are closer to the rest of the party. This is the only pull that I’ve found I have to sit on my fingers for a couple seconds to let the tank get a firm threat lead, even the DK tank.

The worst part of this pull is that you have two mobs behind your tank, unless he strafes back to the entrance of the hall. We called for the tank to strafe back to us. “You want me to strafe to them? What do you mean?” He ended up sitting in the middle and eating craploads of damage from the rear. The next pull was even worse, he let the mobs manuever behind him, it ended up being more than the healer could heal through.

The last gauntlet was bad. I can’t even explain it. We were already way past the timer, having wiped twice, and we still had issues trying to do it at a normal pace. At one point, an elite got behind him again. He hadn’t built aggro on it yet, so none of the DPS could safely attack it. He finished off the current target and stood there, just stood there. We’re calling in vent for him to turn around, to drop a consecrate, to do something. The healer counted 5 full attacks from the elite before the tank turned around and engaged the mob.

He enjoys playing his tank. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t enjoy playing with his tank. 5 minutes into any run and I’m already biting my tongue to keep from saying something that I wouldn’t regret (but I don’t want to deal with the guild drama), my stomach is in knots, and I feel a headache coming on. If our DK tank tries to offer suggestions, it all boils down to, “DKs are OP,” and that ends the conversation. Never mind that the DK tank is just a BETTER PLAYER OVERALL.

He also has a druid, currently specced for heals. And he does a decent job of it, usually better than our pally healer. I would even like to point out that he has successfully healed a timed run on his druid.

We have done everything we can think of to coax him into playing his healer more. Need gear? Let’s go get it for you. Need rep? Let’s run something for you. You want to tank? Errrr… the other tank is on right now, and look, the other healer suddenly doesn’t feel well and has logged off. Looks like we need you on your druid if you want  to run something…

I think I’m finally at the point where I want to be happy when I run an instance, I have recognized that I do not enjoy being the DPS to his tank, and that may require me telling the truth in the near future.

I have a bad feeling about this.

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