I’ve run Dragon Soul a number of times with Wizzadora now and figured that I had a fairly good handle on what was going on. So, on Friday, I decided to make a concerted effort to get Jezebelle geared enough to queue as a tank and give this a try.

 

Getting In

My average item level was 370 (you need 372 to queue in LFR) so I started off running the 5 mans as this seemed to be the best source of gear for those slots that were pulling my iLevel down. I made a point of letting my groups know that this was my first time tanking those instances and actually had some decent runs…

Arrora (Resto/Balance Druid, Guild Master & Real Life Friend) joined me for End Time and, aside from a Rogue who ran off and got himself dead (*), the run went really smoothly. The last boss died in record time and everyone parted company with thanks all round. Nothing useful dropped for me, but it was good experience.

Arrora had to leave before Well of Eternity so I queued solo (tanks were on Call to Arms so I got a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries out of the deal.) The run went really fast, and I picked up a tank ring which I realised after was only a side-grade.

Lastly I ran Hour of Twilight which was probably the most interesting group. I stated it was my first time tanking the instance and was reassured that it wouldn’t be a problem (it wasn’t). As we progressed to the first boss I quipped that when I healed it a couple of days before the tank and been a Pally in DPS gear with a 1h sword, no shield and Ret talents. The Shaman in the group replied with “Hey! I was in that group too!!” and we all had a good laugh. The run was quick & clean and I picked up a new cloak & sword which bumped my iLevel a whole 1 point leaving me at 371.

Saturday morning I hit the instances again and after a couple of runs through LFD finally managed to snag a trinket for my Ret spec that let me cheese over the iLevel requirement for Dragon Soul.

 

(*) Side Note: The Rogue’s death was totally avoidable… We got Jaina as the first boss and while the group started clearing trash the Rogue decided to stealth off to the far side of the room and try to collect the staff fragments. As soon as he dropped stealth a pack of trash mobs saw him and he was dead. Here’s the bit that pisses me off though: He refused to release and run back because, you know, why bother when the healer can res him, right? He was the complete other side of the room with 4 trash packs between us. So he just laid there while the rest of us cleared wasting everyone else’s time.

 

We’re In!

The iLevel requirement well and truly cheesed I queued for The Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and almost instantly got a fresh group. Here’s my impressions…

  • Morchok: Pretty straight forward fight; My first time healing I worked out most of the mechanics, so wasn’t expecting too much that was new. The only thing I hadn’t noticed previously was the stacking sunder armor debuff he applies to the current tank. Pretty standard mechanic so without discussion, I let the other tank get four stacks then I taunted off him. He returned the favour at four stacks and we kept flipping back and forth from there. The boss died on the first attempt and I snagged my tier helm token, happy days.
  • Warlord Zon’ozz: I managed to pull agro off the main tank within the first 10 seconds of the fight and he never made any attempt to taunt back off me so I figure this is one-tank able, which was fine by me. I knew most of what was happening from healing so I just sucked it up and let the DPS do their thing. I threw out Divine Guardian during the AoE phase, since I know that’s the only hard part to heal through. The boss died and I collected some new bracers. Two bosses down, two upgrades!
  • Yor’sahj the Unsleeping: This time I communicated with the other tank, he suggested trading agro at 3 stacks which I agreed despite not really being aware of what the debuff was. No worries though, I quickly figured out he was referring to Void Bolt and after that it was all gravy. Boss fell over, on to the next.
  • Hagara the Stormbinder: I’ve seen this entire encounter single-tanked so I just let the other tank get on with it. During the first phase, I dutifully rounded up adds and brought them to the middle of the room to be AoE’d but aside from that I could probably have gone Ret. (I didn’t since I figure in LFR the other tank is an unknown and might die to the first Focused Assault the boss casts.)

Achievement gained, on to The Fall of Deathwing…

  • Ultraxion: I joined a group that had clearly already wiped to Ultraxion at least once given that there was no pre-boss trash to clear. We buffed, pulled and wiped. People started cussing each other out and the other tank kindly explained the mechanics to me in whispers. Turns out I was doing it wrong! I was treating it the same as when I heal and hitting Heroic Will during Hour of Twilight. Second attempt started with only 3 healers in the raid so you knew it was going to be bad. Still, I watched for Fading Light and hit Heroic Will with about 3 seconds left on the debuff. I died and got a b-res from a kindly Warlock. The other tank died twice and it was all over. Some very vocal DPS started spouting off about tank fail (the other tank started the fight) so I figured if I’m gonna get VK’d I’ll give them some feedback and pointed out that there were only 3 healers in the instance and that I was <10% health before the boss even cast Fading Light on me. A couple of people acknowledged this and then turned on the Druid tank, someone pointed out he was wearing all PVP gear and he promptly got the boot. Another Paladin tank replaced him (boo) and we got the boss to 5% before wiping again. More insults were thrown and anyone doing under 15k DPS got kicked. Last attempt went smooth as silk and the boss coughed up his epics.
    I have to say that I think Ultraxion is the hardest boss in Dragon Soul, the level of raid coordination far exceeds anything else in there and the slightest fuck up can quickly result in a wipe. That said, it’s also probably my favourite fight for those exact same reasons.
  • Warmaster Blackhorn: Another fight with a sunder that requires taunting. I taunted on the third stack this time as it was applying a 20% debuff each stack rather than the usual 10%, this seemed to work well enough. Unfortunately, the first attempt resulted in a wipe, mostly because too many people were taking avoidable damage. No one really complained this time and we rebuffed and pulled again. One other difference I spotted was the stacking Brutal Strike that gets applied in phase one. I found I could let this reach about 20 stacks (60k damage per tick) before the healers started to have trouble keeping my up at which point I hit my Divine Shield to wipe the stacks. The boss died on the second attempt and I picked up a new shield.
  • Spine of Deathwing: Spine feels as easy as a tank as it does as a healer. I mostly concentrated on rounding up bloods while the other tank took care of the amalgamations. We one-shotted the fight and moved on to Madness.
  • Madness of Deathwing: I think Madness is more of a healer fight than a tank fight. As long as you can get here, all it really tests is how long your healers can last. There wasn’t any aspect of the fight that I couldn’t handle tanking without much thought, I let the other tank handle Deathwing while I hung back to pick up the Mutated Corruption as soon as it spawned. He’d then taunt off me as soon as I got impaled and I’d fall back ready to pick up the Regenerative Bloods during Hemorrhage. We wiped on the first attempt as people were taking too much AoE damage on the fourth platform. Second attempt was flawless and we downed the boss with the whole raid alive.

All told, I’d say that Dragon Soul is more interesting as a tank. As I pointed out in guild after, you have much more awareness of what’s going on when you’re tanking vs when you healing. I think that this experience will be useful the next time I heal the raid as it gives me a better idea of *why* people are taking damage spikes at certain points in fights. Rather having to pop a cooldown and react to something that has happened, I should be able to have a big heal ready to roll on-queue.

I like both aspects of the raid as they each have their own challenges and I’m looking forward to having a DPS toon geared enough to run it from that perspective soon.