Tag Archive: akhyataj

Cub Tanking

(Or, feral tanking up to level 20).

I’m one of those people who generally likes their characters to begin as they mean to go on. In WoW, this sometimes leads to less-recommended leveling specs, like subtlety rogues or holy paladins, but for me the challenge is a big part of the fun. Also, I find it’s a lot less intimidating to learn your class and spec from the ground up, rather than suddenly deciding at level 85 when all your PUGs are of the  ‘gogogo’ variety that your feral druid is really a frustrated tank. Mind you, I’m not saying I’d never change my mind at later levels (far from it!) – but if I’m planning an alt to be a tank or healer, I usually start that early on.

In the case of bear tanks, this decision is not usually met with universal approval by fellow PUGees. I’ve heard numerous comments along the lines of ‘low lvl bear tank ftl’ and ‘get a real tank’. This is especially true in the very first few levels, before bears have most of the tools in their arsenal; in particular, they’re still missing an interrupt, any AoE or silencing capability at all, and a way to pull at range without having Growl on cooldown for the next 8 seconds.

This post in no way claims to be an authoritative guide – it’s just a collection of the lessons I’ve learned so far (some from my own reading, many painfully taught by Druids of the Fang and Defias Pirates). Also, it doubles as a way to collect my own thoughts so that hopefully my tanking doesn’t degenerate into ‘hit buttons and pray’ mode quite so often. Hopefully, as Taj grows up and adds some more toys to her skill list, it will be followed by others…but we’ll see. At the moment, it stops at level 20, because that’s where she stops!

Firstly, and of course suggested in many places, it’s worth looking into a nameplate addon that shows your threat at a glance. I love and adore ThreatPlates, a plugin for the TidyPlates addon, but there are of course others out there. ThreatPlates has the advantage of changing both colour and size as you lose control of the mob – red spiky nameplates mean ‘save the healer’, whereas a neat circle of green bars surrounding you means you are, as usual, in control. Right?

Obviously (I hope it’s obvious), if you’re planning to tank as a general rule, you’re feral spec. This gives you the lovely high threat skill known as Mangle. Previously not available until you talented into it at around level 60, this now comes as part of the feral package deal. Although the bear version does have a 6 second cooldown, it’s still a fantastic tool for quickly building a lot of threat. I like using it as part of an opener – more on that in a bit.

By level 20, there are 6 talent points available to spend. Predatory Strikes is entirely a kittycat talent, so that makes the first tier fairly straightforward (even for me) – 4% extra dodge and a bit of free rage when shifting into bear form don’t go astray. I usually find myself taking a point in Primal Fury first in the second tier, just because I hate being rage-starved with a passion…particularly when the trash mobs are displaying their great affection for the healer.

Personally, I find single-target tanking as a bear orders of magnitude easier than AoE tanking, especially at this level. No matter what the healer or the DPS are doing, as long as I’m alive, I don’t find it hard to stay ahead of them on threat. This may change in later levels, I’m not sure, but until then most of my worries are caused by packs of trash. Pulling them…ah, yes, that’s a whole different kettle of deviate fish.

My usual strategy when pulling groups is to switch targets quickly right at the beginning. I normally Growl at the first mob while running toward the pack, then switch targets and Mangle one, then switch again and Maul (if I have enough rage by now). This largely depends on whether over-zealous DPS have already peeled them off me and therefore I’m not getting hit, but it also depends on me being quick and accurate with click-targeting. As mentioned above, I use highly visible nameplates, which does help with that (since they can also be clicked to target the mob).

I don’t actually care much for tab-targeting, though I’ve seen it recommended elsewhere, for two reasons. First, you have no control at all over exactly which mob it switches the target to, and trying vainly to Maul an NPC in the next pack 40 yards away wastes precious seconds and throws off your rhythm while you work out what the problem is and fix it. Second, I am somewhat suspicious of the whole thing, because half the time when I do try to use it I hit ‘tab’ and my target stubbornly remains on the same mob. Whether this is my computer or the game (or the user…ahem) I don’t know, but I tend to prefer click-targeting anyway for the ability to pick my prey more accurately.

Because it's pretty. And a good habitat for bears.


Once I (hopefully) have three mobs chewing on me, Mangle and/or Growl is usually back off cooldown or nearly so, and I can then use it to pick up any loose ends. If the pull is more than three, or if the DPS are keen to Slay the Foe in record time, it may be necessary to leave stray mobs hitting various group members for a few seconds while you build up rage. With a reasonable group, of course, you can just ask them to hold off for a few seconds while you do just that…but I’m sure we all understand our chances, realistically, of finding a group who’ll do that. I’m not always lily-white myself in that area when I take Dhak for a spin…Ravage crits are such satisfying openers *cough* In any case, good luck with that, but if the DPS open up the second you do, you might need to let them have their toys all to themselves for a moment while you build the rage to gather them again. Being naturally protective, I dislike it when the mobs are hitting anyone but me, but in that situation I would prioritize peeling them off the healer first (if necessary), and then move on to the DPS in approximate order of proximity and/or squishiness.

There isn’t a lot of crowd control available at such low levels, but it’s not greatly needed either. If you have a Sap-happy rogue who manages not to accidentally get caught, that can certainly be helpful on tricky pulls. So far, though, most of my runs have been basically CC-free zones. One thing that is worth doing ourselves, and that I keep forgetting, is to keep Demo Roar up whenever possible – it’s cheap and knocks 10% off the damage you take, which can ease the load on the healer a little bit.

Speaking of healers – if yours is struggling and you have the opportunity, it is certainly possible to throw up a quick heal on yourself. It does help to watch your timing a little bit, though – you lose all but 10 rage when you shift out of form, so try to time it for when you were nearly out anyway. Also, you’re naturally a lot squishier wearing clothes instead of fur, so right before the boss casts Hammer of Ultimate Doom is probably not the moment! If, on the other hand, your healer is healing you with ease (and your DPS are happy), it’s worth not pausing too long between pulls – that way you don’t lose the accumulated rage you worked so hard to maintain, which in turn helps to keep those unruly packs of trash in line from the get-go.

This is officially a wall of text! Well done if you made it this far. As I said above, this is in no way a definitive guide to doing anything (except perhaps frustrating your PUG members), but it’s helped me collect my thoughts…and after all, that is a major function of a blog.

Back to the altoholic nonsense next time, no doubt…

What’s Better than One Druid?

If you answered ‘two druids’, you’re half right!*

Anyone who’s troubled to look back to the beginning of this blog may have noticed that Dhakeilh is not actually the only character I had intended to feature here. Poor Aminyara, who really has been most shamefully neglected, was the victim of unfortunate circumstance; only a month or so after I actually started blogging properly, the regiment to which she belongs got put in indefinite hiatus due to real life issues with some of the other members. As she can’t level past where she is now and remain in the group, she has pretty much been on hold too, and I’ve been concentrating more on Dhak and various other baby alts.

Now that Cataclysm has dropped, however, I can finally do what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, that being start a second ‘main’ on an Oceanic server. In a BA shared topic back in October I got her name all picked out, but of course (being a worgen) she has perforce been waiting in the wings until now. Since I have finally given in to the inevitable and admitted that of all classes I much prefer druids, she is of course of the druidic persuasion. I’m quite excited about this – I’ve spent the last few months thinking ‘When I can finally make that new druid, I’ll…’

And here she is!

The yellow eyes are a particularly ferocious touch, of course.


Akhyataj, or Taj (as she almost immediately became) is intended to be my Alliance main for at least the duration of Cataclysm, and most likely longer. There are quite a few achievements that I’ve consciously ignored on Dhakeilh, although I love collecting them, with a view to creating a ‘real’ main character in an Oceanic time zone – things like mounts and pets that take a lot of grinding, and that sort of thing. She’s only level 20 at the moment, since I’ve been stomped by the Real Life boss this Christmas, but that will change…quickly, I hope. And, of course, there’s the all-important question of hair/druid form colour; I quite like black, but I haven’t really decided whether to settle on it yet or not. I suppose that’s what barber shops are for!

Then, of course, where there is Alliance there must be Horde (at least in my admittedly odd world view). Therefore, I would also like to introduce Andiyaba, who was not a part of my plan for Cataclysm, but who has settled herself into the collection of characters quite firmly already. Naturally, she is also a druid (what else?), but in a small departure from what I’ve done before, she will be resto rather than feral. Healing raises my blood pressure (just ask my poor, long-suffering guildies who get to listen to the complaints), but I haven’t yet tried it on a druid except in emergencies, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. So far I have yet to break myself of picking agility gear over intellect from quest rewards, though!

A druid in caster form is a new experience for me...


So there we have it, the ongoing projects that will hopefully last me for the foreseeable future (with, of course, plenty of other alts mixed in). I have a few ideas for writing projects based around the two of them, but that will largely depend on available time, and now is certainly not the moment to start anything new. In any case, just leveling two new druids should keep me out of mischief for a while…

Well, out of obvious mischief, anyway.

*Correct answer: More druids. Always, more druids.

Llani, from Pocket Heals, has supplied us with this weeks Blog Azeroth shared topic (which I might be posting just a little bit late). She asks,

“What takes the longest to choose, is the first thing people see, and is the one thing they always remember about you and your character?

Your name.

How did you decide upon the name for your character(s)? Did you delve into Norse, Greek, or Roman mythology? Did you choose a name from one of your family members? Did you mash the “Random” name generator button in vain until you stumbled upon something you liked? Is your name a play on aspects of your class, using spells or other traits? Did you play around with syllables, vowels, and consonants until you found something that you loved?

How long did it take you to come up with your name? Do all of your characters share the same ‘theme’ or naming convention? Have you ever run into someone who had a similar name? How did you feel? Does your character have a partner with “the other half” to your name (such as “Salt” and “Pepper”). Do any of your characters have a “themed” guild that goes along with your name? Do you have a nickname that your guild, friends, or significant other has given your character?

Has your character name become your online persona, or maybe the other way around?

Do you have any tips for naming your characters in WoW, or any other game? Resources, name generators, mythology websites, sources of inspiration, etc.

If you are an avid roleplayer, how was your name decided upon by family/friends? Did your character choose the name later in life or were they given it at birth? There are whole stories behind naming/birthday celebrations that I am sure are floating around out there.

So much can be said about names. What does yours say?”


Wow. I could go on for hours (but, to everyone’s relief I’m sure, I won’t). And not to disagree with the Bard, but I’ve always felt that the name you choose for a character has a significant impact on how you feel about them and, by extension, how much you want to play them.

Warning: wall of text in 5…4…3…2…1…

Names, for me, are very important – perhaps because I’ve never cared much for my own real life one! While I have occasionally been known to use a random name generator or look at baby names (or adapt obscure book character names *cough*), as a general rule I simply invent them. This can at times be a long process, since I won’t stop until I actually have it right. If the character is important, it can go on for days or weeks before I’m happy enough to actually settle on one…and, of course, they usually end up with nicknames as well. In the interest of answering some of the questions Llani puts, I thought I might write about the process of choosing a name for one of my real characters.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been considering names for a character I hope will be very important – she will be sharing the ‘main’ honours with Dhakeilh when Cataclysm comes out. Dhakeilh, while lots of fun and definitely a going concern, is on an EU server; this has certain disadvantages when attempting to find a raiding guild if you live in Australia and everyone raids while you’re at work/at church/asleep. Therefore, I have decided that the most sensible thing to do would be to develop a second character in a place where, when someone says ‘Monday evening’, that actually translates to ‘Monday evening’ in my time zone!

No doubt I will say a great many things about this new character in due time, but in a post about names, I’ll (try to) keep it relevant. This character will be a worgen and a druid, and is intended to be a tank, so I want a name that doesn’t look ridiculous hanging over the head of a generously proportioned bear or a humanoid wolf; however, she will also be female, so I’m not going to call her ‘Grarh’ or ‘Maulpow’ either. Her name will need to be something that’s easy to say, doesn’t shorten to anything obscene or stupid, doesn’t contain any English words (it’s a name, not a charter document) and must be something I like the sound and ‘taste’ of. So much for the initial considerations.

There are certain combinations of letters and sounds I like (k, t, s, dh, y) and others I really don’t as a rule (p, g, b, u). Female names, to me, should sound feminine; I almost never create characters with names ending in ‘ok’ or ‘um’, for instance. I will admit to an enjoyment of odd combinations of letters that we don’t use in English, but all of my characters must have names that are pronounceable by the normal person and easily typed, without weird characters or clever accents.
That all sounds terribly regimented, but it doesn’t work that way in practice – getting this far only takes a few seconds. It’s the next bit that’s time-consuming – finding a ‘base’ syllable or sound that I think suits her, and then playing with additions and changing letters and so on until I come up with the perfect combination. I’m doing this as I write this post, so I have no idea what her name will be either, but it should be interesting to find out!

‘K’ and ‘t’ go together well, and they both suit a combative sort of character. Shying away from the Kate/Katrina names, perhaps I’ll put them in the middle of the name – Akata works as a starting point. Serendipity being what it is, I typoed and added a ‘j’ to the end of that, which actually I rather like, so now we have ‘Akataj’; if she were going to be a mage of the Kirin Tor I might stop there, but I think something a little softer is needed for a druid. Aekataj? No, not quite right. Akhataj? Still evokes a mage, though it’s closer. Akhyatajh? Too complicated and rather affected, though I’ll admit I like the sound of it. Actually, I have too many characters with ‘kh’ in their names already, so perhaps I’ll shift away from that a little; also, ‘A’ is one of my more common starting letters. Changing those two things, we come up with…

Kahatya? Too evocative of kitty druids, which this one likely won’t be, and of Russians, which I’m not (I already have a Nadezhda who gets all sorts of whispers in Russian, which I don’t understand). Unfortunately, I keep getting drawn back to the complicated but pretty ‘Akhyatajh’ I dismissed just before; did I mention I have a weakness for strange combinations of letters? Every now and then a name just grabs me, and that seems to have happened here, so I’m going to disregard the previous comment about similarites to other character. Maybe if I remove the A, thus coming up with Khyatajh? No, that actually makes it paradoxically harder to pronounce. Perhaps I’ll get rid of the last h instead…or not…no, I will.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. If you made it this far through a maze of rambling and stream-of-consciousness babble, I’m very impressed! At the end of a convoluted but enjoyable process of name generation, and in spite of the fact that she won’t actually exist for another two months yet, I would like to present…