Resto Shaman: INT vs MP5

This is a guest post by Chloebelle, a Resto Shaman helping you decide between MP5 or Int as the stat to aim for

There is something that feels really dirty when you start stacking intellect. Like that’s what you would do if you knew nothing but what was on the WoW Tool Tips.

For so long MP5 was vital to ensuring you could last an entire fight. Now, thanks to Replenishment, intellect has stepped into the spotlight.

Replenishment restores .25% of max mana every second. If you have an 18k mana pool then you are getting 45 mana a second or 225 extra mp5. If you have a mana pool of 20k then you are getting 50 mana a second or 250 mp5. That is a lot of additional mana.

Solely looking at gems, check out what intellect could do for you:

Ignoring socket bonuses – if the average person has 7 sockets (not including meta) all gemmed with blue quality intellect gems they would have 123 (including 11 with talent) intellect, 1845 mana, 18 spell power (with talents), 1.5% to crit and 23 extra mp5 from a replenishment buff.

If you gem all your sockets with blue quality royal twilight opal then you have 63 sp and 21 mp5 (but you don’t rely on the buff). Less mp5, less mana, less crit, but 45 more spell power. If you socket all 6 mp5 gems, then you would get 42 mp5. I know it’s not realistic to think that you would socket all one way or another – but just as an idea.

Don’t forget that shamans also have Water Shield and mana stream to that will boost mp5 another 185 at least. That doesn’t even count talent points and glyphs that would increase it even more. On top of this, our gear has a great deal of MP5 on it already. Don’t waste a gem slot on 3 or 6 mp5. Use the slot to increase your intellect and let your raid make up do its job. Let the Ret Pallies, Hunters, and Shadow Priests handle your mana regen while you concentrate on healing.

As you gear up you are going to notice that you are rarely going to run out of mana. If this is the case, you can start replacing some of your intellect gems for haste or crit or more SP, depending on how you like to play. Chain heal healers will most likely enjoy haste, while Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Wave healers will most likely enjoy crit.

If you are guaranteed to have the replenishment buff – socketing for intellect is the smartest solution.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the buff – your larger mana pool will likely not make up for the mp5 and SP you will miss.

Matt’s Thursday Morning Copout

I have a class at 930. Sadly my buffer reaching it’s limit. Too many projects, not enough time. Raid Rx, the raid healing column on WoW Insider, may be returning shortly.

I’ll let you guess who’s penning it.

This also means I’ll be soliciting your ideas and questions for the revived weekly column on raid healing, organization, and all that fun stuff.

Not only that, I’ve ramped up the activity level of the WoW Insider Twitter account. I’ll be injecting a large dose of personality and interaction and it won’t be just “Read this post here” all the time anymore. Just bear in mind I won’t be the only one using it. But for the most part, I’ll be trying.

I’m also working on starting up another blog. Not quite as educational or informative here. It’s an interesting concept. More details to come. I know Aylii’s going to kill me after telling me I’m trying to do too much. Sorry :(. I am nothing if not ambitious.

So, stuff of interest for you to read today:

World of Warcraft

Blogging

Lifestyle

Leadership

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

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This is a guest post by Sylly Syll who writes about the cons of being a sought after healer.

Certainly, negatives might not immediately leap to mind for a healer who has a lot of friends, is generally considered to be talented and capable, and is offered seemingly endless opportunities to do runs for which other classes have to sell their soul to get a spot. (WTB Healer PST). However, for me there have been some definite downsides to this situation since WOLK hit. Specifically, being constantly whispered by friends, guildies, and strangers to heal. “Please, please, PLEASE heal this run for me so Ican get the much coveted Epic Boots of Awesomeness”, I hear, leading to me running more instances than I’d ever dream of initiating on my own, which leaves me struggling often with the following three issues:

1. Poverty: Repair bills, raid and instance pots, buff foods, enchants, gems vs. no time to raise gold to offset costs leaves me perpetually scrounging for cash.  And, of course, even when I find the time to quest or farm, healers are faced with the daunting task of boring mobs to death.  No lightning-fast, face-ripping pew pew for us. Alas and alack, none at all.  Over the holidays I blew through well over 1000 gold sending toys and purely frivolous fun things to dozens of people who make me smile on my server.  It was without contest the best time I’ve ever had spending gold in WOW.  It lit me up like a Christmas tree.   And as great as that was, a couple of weeks ago when I was scraping by to get pots for a Naxx raid, I almost regretted spending that gold.  Best gold I ever spent, and I almost lamented having spent it.  That’s pretty gristly food for thought.

2. Healing burnout: On occasion I just want to sit on a mountaintop and take in the amazing art of the game, or putz around Dalaran checking out all the vendor goodies, or doing some other innocuous, ultimately unproductive activity.  Sometimes I just want to quest all by my lonesome, where the only death I could possibly be responsible for is my own.  From time to time I just feel like parking my carcass in a quiet corner of the world and carrying on a long conversation (typed or otherwise) with one of the friends I treasure in the game.  Because of the healer shortage, finding time for these things can be hard, which can leave me a little grouchy, a little snarky, a little closer to trading bark for feathers and doing the Chris Farley bop.

3. Guilt: When I log on and my guild message of the day is replaced instantaneously by a sea of purple text with friends saying "omg now we can run!" "SYLL! come heal x for us!!!" "Have you done the daily?" etc. etc. ad infinitum, I feel instantly guilty, whether I tell one or none of them yes, because ultimately I have to turn someone that I like down.

Of course, all three of these issues could be solved very easily and with finality in a number of ways.  I could give up the wait for dual specs, jump into a feathery owl suit, and leave it to others to heal me. Or maybe I could come up with a list of runs that I either needed or really enjoyed, and categorically refuse to run anything else.   I could turn off WOW and go clean my house.  No, not really.  That third one was just silly. But I’ve come up with a couple of solutions that are not so drastic as these to keep this tree blooming and happy, willing to spread the leafy goodness around.  They are not perfect or complete solutions, but for me they seem to be doing the trick.  Even though I’m resto, this druid needed some balance in her life. 

Here’s some places I found it.

1. Loosening up the bank vault:  I’m a terrific hoarder of mats. Leatherworking mats, enchanting mats, gear for 3 specs (even though the moon will fall out of the sky before I use my druid to tank), all KINDS of goodies find their way into my bank, or my bank toon’s bank, never again to see the light of day.  I’ve recently started to let these things make their way to the auction house or the vendor.  Sure, some guildie might need me to make something for them and I won’t have the mats immediately on hand.  This is a possibility.  But then he can farm the mats.  Or I can.  Or we can together.  Surely the world will not end if I auction some of the goods I’ve leveled a profession to make, right?

2. Providing the hook up:  To assuage some of my guilt over saying no to healing a run, I’ve been trying to hook up friends or guildies who might not have otherwise run together. So when someone asks me to heal heroic Old Kingdom, I might say to them, “You know that run is almost impossible with a resto druid in the group, right?  Let me see if my holy pally friend is busy.  Maybe he can go with you.”  Even if the hookup doesn’t happen, I still feel better for having actively tried to help, rather than just saying “no, kthxbye”.

3. One hand washes the other: I’ve recently, when asked to heal a run, let some of my friends know that I need to get some work of my own done, and asked them if they would mind helping to speed me through some dailies if I help to heal their instance.  This is definitely a win-win arrangement for all involved.

4. Where’s Syll?: I confess; I hide on alts.  DPS alts.  This doesn’t cut out on all of my invitations to heal, as many of my friends know who my alts are, but it does reduce the number of invites when I just don’t feel like being a productive member of society.

5. Offpeak hours: I have a pretty strange sleeping schedule, and often am wide awake at 4:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m. is a wonderful time in WOW. Nothing is camped. Quest mobs abound. Quiet scenery is there for me to soak up at will. I get a lot done at 4:00 a.m.

Although these strategies are not perfect, they’ve made me a much happier healer.  I have a comfortable amount of gold in my bank, I’m quite a bit happier to run the instances I do run, and I have a clear conscience about how I’m spending my time in WOW.  No one wants their game to become their work.  I know I don’t.  It is my disposition to be most happy in the support role that healers inhabit.  As a rule, I adore healing raids and instances.  But WOW is a huge game that offers opportunities for me to indulge many other aspects of my personality, as well.  I can be social or introspect, helpful or greedy, ambitious or a big lazy sloth.  It’s a relief to work out these balances.  It makes my healing stronger.

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Achievement Tips: Arachnophobia

Players are slowly turning towards Achievements to see where and how well they rank compared to other guilds around them. With that in mind, I wanted to offer a few tips on how to get the them. Most of these tips are applicable to normal or heroic modes.

Achievement Objective: Kill Maexxna in Naxxramas within 20 minutes of Anub’Rekhan’s death on Heroic Difficulty.

In other words, you have 20 minutes to clear out the entire Spider wing. So how do you make your raid leaner in terms of time?

Loot decisions

The clock starts ticking the moment Anub’Rekhan’s carcass hits the floor. Assuming you have 1 tank and 1 healer who do not need loot, they can jet out the door and start clearing the next set of trash. Ideally, players won’t need loot from Anub’Rekhan or Faerlina at all and the loot master can wire all items to the disenchanter so everyone can move on.

But that’s unlikely.

Faerlina

Have a Priest start blowing up the Worshippers. Yes, before she enrages. If you have every healer tasked to the main tank, then they should stay up. By blowing up Worshippers, you can save yourself precious seconds of DPS time.

Heroisms/Bloodlust

If you have two Shamans, you get access to 3 Heroisms. If you’re really good at timing, you can squeeze off one on Faerlina, one on the trash pull to Maexxna, and one on Maexxna herself.

Trash Pulls

There are a few pulls that you can skip. I know there are a pack of spiders that patrol up to the ramp that lead to Maexxna’s chamber. Time it right and you won’t have to deal with them. But if you have to take them out, try to slowly drag them up the ramp and kill them there.

Cooldowns

Speed is of the essence. Every trinket you have, blown. Every cooldown, used. Every nuke, critted. I spot the highest caster DPS on my active Recount and throw them a Power Infusion as soon as it is up.

If you can focus and channel your efforts, this will be an easy achievement to attain. Chain pulls are the order of the day.

On Lore, Culture, and Religion in Azeroth

On Lore, Culture, and Religion in Azeroth

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Sometimes when I’m scrolling through MMO Champion’s Blue Tracker I find something that just astounds me. This particular post and blue response have absolutely nothing to do with WoW gameplay, but nonetheless, they weigh in on an issue of great interest to me–the level of detail used to evoke the universe of Warcraft.

Unfortunately, the issue of Warcraft culture is couched in incredibly bigoted and small-minded terms. Let’s take a look at the original player rant:

All races exept gnomes and orcs can be a priest, druid or paladin. Priests and paladins cherish and worship the divine and holy, whilst druids are in contact with the ancient spirits. This of course, is fine. Not all races can have all classes. The thing I reacted against, and so should you all; the lore clearly states the gnomes as the most intelligent of races. They have advanced the furthest in technology, and have a passive racial that gives them more intellect. So, being an atheist, and a slave of Satan gives you a greater mind, eh?

The fact that the “most intelligent” race in WoW does not have a religion is like a stab in the back for me. To me, Blizzards message is “Oh, but intelligent people don’t believe in God”. I am vastly offended by this, and would like to see a change in the lore, where human missionaries convert the gnomes into believing in the divine, thus making them able to create a priest or paladin.

Yes, I am aware that my main character is a gnome, but after finding this shocking discovery I will most certainly reroll. Those little blasphemers will no longer be a part of my life. Any christians out there will and should agree with me.

As a caveat, let me just say that I think the player’s actual complaint about the lack of a gnomish religion is utter crap. As an educated person, I advocate religious tolerance in all situations, for all people. And by “tolerance,” I mean not just “putting up with” many different religious traditions, but celebrating their difference and encouraging dialogue among them. Tolerance includes virtual worlds–whether or not the player is a participant in a particular religion should not affect his or her experience of gameplay, and I think Blizzard does a pretty good job of being religion-neutral. However, even a bigoted post can sometimes bring up an interesting issue.

Blizzard’s response, of course, was to lock the thread. However, in among the dribble and insults, there were some interesting ideas.

One gnome poster, responding to the question of whether gnomes have a religious faith, asked: “How do you know they don’t?”

How indeed. This would have been exactly my response (except that I have sometimes suspected that gnomes might be intended to have things in common with Jewish culture–diaspora, a reputation for intelligence, discrimination in the form of gnome jokes–but that’s a topic for another post). In his misguided way, this hostile poster who calls gnomes “atheist servants of Satan” is actually hinting at a real problem in the World of Warcraft.

The Lore

The issue here is that the way The Lore (capitals intended) is handled conflicts with the nature of gameplay in an MMO. Most of the information that is released to the players about The Lore, either through previous games, graphic novels, novelizations, and Major Lore Quest Chains focuses on the famous figures of Azeroth. It’s not hard to find out something about Arthas, Jaina, Sylvanas, Varian Wrynn, or Medivh. These folks are major players. However, the vast majority of quest content has players interacting with nobodies–level 17 farmers, craftsmen, clerics, and ne’er-do-wells. What I want to know is what the peoples of Azeroth do when they’re not busy being heroic. We get bits and pieces of the history of Azeroth on that small scale–the Darrowshire quests are a very good example of this. However, we really don’t get to learn a darn thing about how Draenai education works, why dwarves tend to go exploring, or what it would be like to go to a troll wedding.

I think someone knows all of this. In fact, I bet the developers have a Big Book of Azerothian Cultural History–well, probably a giant scrapbook or stack of file folders. They would have to if they cared about making coherent quest content–which they certainly do. However, I bet it’s a hodgepodge of information, written by many different people, and I also bet that it doesn’t cover everything.

Maybe gnomes cherish small household gods that are closely associated with the family, like the Roman Larës.

Maybe gnomes get their best ideas while they’re meditating on the nature of life–or mechanical parts–for half an hour a day.

Maybe the gnomes hide their religion from the Big People in order to head off discrimination.

I bet Blizzard knows this, or could use that Big Book to come up with a logical answer.

The Solution

People love the World of Warcraft, and I think they would eat it up if Blizzard released some of their unpublished material on Azerothian culture. What they should do is set up a website for such questions–perhaps a blog–and employ a professional writer to maintain it. And I might mention that if they’re ever hiring this job, I’m applying. I love fantasy and fantasy worlds. Warcraft makes for an interesting universe, but most of The Lore is deadly dull. It focuses on Great Deeds of the Past and tends to be communicated in a very monotonous tone in Blizzard’s official publications. Have you seen some of those sentences? Someone should start charging the writers a 15c fine for each subordinate clause in excess of three. I’d hazard a guess that they didn’t hire a professional fantasy writer to produce their paragraphs about Arthas. Do I think that I could do a better job? Heck yes. And the number one question I would ask myself is–what about the little people? No, not just gnomes. All of those Westfall farmers, Southshore fur traders, and Feathermoon scholars–what makes them tick? That to me is very interesting.

4 Questions to Answer on the Respec Policy

4 Questions to Answer on the Respec Policy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post detailing the freedom that players had in their own play. Reader Revaan wrote a series of questions that I wanted to answer but I never got around to it until now. I’ll divide that post into two parts: One with a direct Q & A to his questions and the second half with a more detailed thought process.

Q&A

Revaan: The debating about consequences of respeccing seems to make it clear that every guild should have a policy about respecs. Do you require approval from anyone? If so who?

Matt: Yes and no. Players are free to respec on their own time for PvP or just for general farting around. I impose no conditions on their respecs. When it comes to raids however, they’re required to go back to the original spec they asked to be in when they joined the guild. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

Revaan: Do you have some sort of trial period with the new spec?

Matt: I usually give it a raid. I’ll compare that day’s performance with data from past raids and see if there’s a significant difference. If both specs are about the same, it’s a wash. I’ll let them decide what’s better for their style of play.

Revaan: What if the chosen role is full?

Matt: Tough. It’s first come first serve, usually. If there’s a set amount of tanks and another player wants to go Prot, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever get a spot unless one of the tanks decides to retire or spontaneously gets their account hacked. But that rarely happens.

(Actually, at the time of this writing, I just found out one of my main tanks had his account compromised. Go figure.)

Revaan: Are they first up if that role opens up or will the guild recruit and you need to compete with applicants?

Matt: Typically no. Players tend to have a certain amount of gear invested in them. For them to change roles like that is a messy undertaking for the guild because not only do we have to find a replacement for the spec they switched from, we also have to gear up that player again. It would be as if we were gearing up two players again instead of one. I would much rather recruit from outside but I will never say never. Situations like these are often resolved in a case by case basis.

Explanation

I don’t like asking people to re-talent themselves unless I have a very good reason to do so. I prefer to let players come to their own conclusion about what’s best for them.

Here is a list of the 3 goals for the 3 different roles in the game.

  • DPS: To deal an insane amount of damage
  • Heal: To heal or mitigate an insane amount of damage
  • Tanking: To survive an insane amount of damage

Respeccing within the role

Let me give you an example of a case where I approved a respec.

During the infant stages of Conquest when we were working our way through Naxxramas, we picked up a Rogue named Derek. He’s an extremely bright and skilled player. He wanted to try out a new spec because he had reason to believe that he could increase his DPS output.

I don’t know much about Rogues. But I figured I had nothing to lose. I was essentially trading a DPS spec for a DPS spec.

After the raid was done, I pulled up the Patchwerk notes for that day along with notes from previous raids and compared them.

Sure enough, Derek’s performance improved notably. It was partly due to gear and partly his style. But it seemed the spec helped a lot. Alas, from what I’ve been told, this upcoming patch may nerf it. You Rogues probably know what I’m talking about because I don’t know what I’m talking about. All I know is, he respecced and his damage spiked upwards.

Derek did an insane amount of damage before. After the respec, he did an insanely higher amount.

Allow your raiders to innovate and test new specs that allow them to excel at the same role. I had a Warlock (let’s call him Tom) who tried a new spec every raid for the first few weeks because he wasn’t sure what the optimum spec was.

What’s cookie cutter now could become outdated later.

As my former mentor Blori once told me,

There ain’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved without more DPS.

Inform your GM

Let your raid leader know. I guarantee you that they will generally be supportive (the good ones at least). Here’s the process:

Derek: Hey Matt, I’d like to respec.
Matt: Why’s that?
Derek: I think I can do more damage
Matt: Sure, go for it and let me know what you need.
Derek: Don’t forget to log me for Patchwerk so I can compare it to last week.

It’s that simple.

Respeccing roles

This one I am not as receptive as. A raid composition consists of a simple equation:

X healers + Y DPS + Z tanks = Dead boss.

By changing the equation, you risk rendering the problem unsolvable. A great tank does not necessarily make a great healer and you may find yourself short stacked on bosses from time to time.

It is an extremely tough sell to a GM. But that’s when everything is good.

On the other hand, if your raid has a few key role players absent, requesting a respec could end up being favorable.

If I’m short on healers and a DPS hybrid requests to go healing to help alleviate the stress, I am way more likely to approve it.

  1. Keeps the raid in house. I don’t have to outsource my important roles to trade chat.
  2. Solves a problem with little effort: It’s a good reflection on the guild member.

I guess my underlying philosophy towards respeccing can be boiled down to one line:

If it improves the raid group in any way, ask.

Image courtesy of marcello99

Healing Naxxramas – Sapphiron (10 man)

Healing Naxxramas – Sapphiron (10 man)

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You’re almost there. Get through Sapphiron, and Kel’Thuzad is next. I’ll walk you through what’s relevant and what’s not.

The position

As you run in for the first time, make a mental note to keep your camera trained on the animation sequence. There isn’t quite another boss in the game which has a similar or haunting experience.

Your tank should immediately run straight through Sapphiron and set up shop on the side opposite the entrance that you came in from.

I personally position my raid on one side. Pick Sapphiron’s left or right. For the purposes of this explanation, we’ll set up on the right (or north).

Phase one

Frost Aura – Everyone in the room takes ~1200 Frost damage per second.

Life Drain – A curse that will drain players for ~2400 health (Shadow damage). Sapphiron then gains about 5000 health every 3 seconds. 2 random players will get affected by it every so often.

Chill – Looks like a big Blizzard. A really powerful one. If you’re caught, you’ll take some big damage and your movement speed will be slowed.

Phase two

As you enter this phase, Sapphiron will start flying up into the air. Several things will happen:

Ice Bolt – He’ll fire off two Ice Bolts at two different players. Those players will turn into blocks of ice and become immobile. Any players within 5 yards of the Ice block will take significant damage.

Frost Breath – After the Ice Bolts are fired off, he’s going to drop a nuke that will deal lots and lots of damage.

sapphiron-iceblock

Wait until both bolts are fired before you move and start hiding behind them. Remember the Ice Bolt deals AoE damage upon impact. You don’t want to start grouping up together only to have the second bolt impale you and your cohorts, right?

Position yourself in such a way that the frozen player is between you and Sapphiron. Hide behind the block to avoid the insta gib that you’re about to take.

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Sapphiron will then land, and it’s back to phase one.

Rinse and repeat!

Execution

During phase one, your best friend is Prayer of Mending. Ensure that you’re firing these off as soon as you can. This is where the 2-piece Faith set really comes in handy due to the bonus (Your Prayer of Mending bounces an additional time). This will help against the whole Frost Aura crap that your raiders have to endure.

Against the Life Drains, task any player that can Decurse. This includes your Mages, Druids, and Resto Shamans. That curse has to fall off or else it will slow the kill down. This fight is a matter of endurance.

Keep an eye on the Chills that float around the room. Be liberal with your Power Word: Shield.

As you enter phase two, Sapphiron starts flapping his wings and flying. This is when you want to start falling back and spreading out. Top off as many players as you can. Wait for both bolts to land, then pick the one closest to you and hide behind it. Don’t stick around and wait. Use your instant spells to try and catch as many players as you can.

For the Holy Priests, slam your Circle of Healing. For the Discipline ones, Penance and Flash as much as possible.

Once the blocks shatter, resume phase one. Keep up what you’re doing, and you’ll end up in the clear.

Extra tips

Remember to Shadow Protect your raid.

Consider crafting around 2 Frost Resist sets if your healers are undergeared (or underperforming) to buy more time.

Potential exploit: I don’t know if this is intended or not and I’m not sure if it’s been fixed. But I’m saying it here so that I can raise awareness. During phase 2, players can run toward the back of the room onto the grated area. By standing there, you can avoid the Frost Breath that lands. Don’t even have to worry about using the blocks to line of sight.

sapphiron-grate

The Matticus Command Center

The Matticus Command Center

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After Kestrel posted his deskspace when I asked him to, I felt it was only fair for me to do the same.

My left monitor is a 24” Samsung T240 and my right’s a 22” BenQ FP222W H. My macbook takes up the right side. Conversations on Twitter have revealed to me that there are players out there sporting dual 30” screen setups.

That is some real real estate.

A closer look at the picture shows that I have two keyboards: A Mac keyboard on the table (which wires to my Macbook) and one in the tray right below that’s plugged into my PC.

My Steelpad is holding my black Razer and my Mac “Egg” mouse. I configured my right monitor to also plug into my Macbook so that I could mirror the display there.

Anyways, with a setup like this, it allows me to raid on my left screen and look up valuable information on the right (such as hockey scores).

I may have to take a page from the Kestrellian one and pick me up a new backlit keyboard. The characters on mine have all but rubbed off. Can’t see when it’s late at night and sometimes I end up hitting the wrong key.

There’s an ongoing thread on Plusheal where I asked players to share their setup (attachments are enabled). I would love to take a look at yours!

Reader Question: The Double Bind of Casual Raiding

Reader Question: The Double Bind of Casual Raiding

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Those of you who have kept track of my posts know that I love answering reader questions. This one was originally for Matticus, but I decided to take it on because it’s an issue that’s very close to my heart. Essentially, the question is the classic debate of the casual raider: do I stick it out with my guild, or do I move on? However, reader Adam is experiencing an interesting twist on the problem, as he’s a guild master who’s actively working to improve performance in his own guild. Let’s see the quandary in his words, shall we?

So, as a mixed minority I hate generalizing… but I seem to be having a problem in my guild concerning ::duhn duhn duhn:: DPS classes. Tank/Healers tend to enjoy their positions and willingly choose to do them. They read strategies, the seek out gear upgrades in their free time, they put effort into the game. As of late the DPS classes have been showing up expecting amazing loot without wanting to work for it.

Our guild is sizable enough to be running 25 mans every week, but the DPS classes aren’t pulling their weight. None of them will run Heroics to get their own gear, they expect as many drops as the people who have put effort in… none of them read boss strats so I’m forced to review every boss fight beforehand and we still wipe.

I KNOW things can be better because when our “best” do 10mans (just for the hell of it now, no one needs the gear) we can clear everything in one shot with 2 healers (myself and a Resto Druid). Hell, I’ve seen PUGs do better in 25mans than some of my guildmates.

The problem, then, is two-fold:

a) If I don’t let the sub-par DPS into the raids we won’t have enough for Naxx25. No matter how good the rest are you can’t clear it with 15 people. And in a lot of cases the bad DPSers actually hinder our performance (ie putting Grobbulus clouds in awful places, failing to make the jump on Thaddius and then rushing into the fray with an opposite charge, etc).

b) There are a lot of 2 or 3 friend groups within my guild. One is a good player, but he wanted his friends to come along too. They suck, and I can’t say no to them without the good player being hurt, etc. And when I say suck, I’m talking people in 50% Naxx10 or better epics doing 1,000 DPS. I’m not kidding. I did that at level 70 with my Priest in shadow and we currently have a few mages and warlocks consistently performing under the 1,500 mark with full raid buffs.

Recruiting isn’t helping much. I don’t get many people expressing interest in joining and the ones who do message me aren’t exactly cream of the crop. Am I screwed? Should I take my ten best players and start from scratch? Should those ten and I try to merge into another guild? I’ve led guilds since level 60 and I usually have a good idea how to proceed. Right now I’m at an absolute loss.

Such a thoughtful question deserves a somewhat lengthy answer. I’ll do my best to analyze what’s going on, and then I’ll make some suggestions for future actions. As you all might have guessed, there’s no easy fix for this one.

The Double Bind

What is this “double bind” I refer to, you might ask? The word refers to a situation in which a person receives conflicting and contradictory messages about how to behave, such that one behavior would negate the other. It’s similar to what’s referred to as a Catch-22, after the awesome Joseph Heller novel of the same name. Working mothers are often placed in a double bind; so are ethnic minorities, as they try to both stand out from and fit into majority culture. I’m going to put casual raiders right up there with these two put-upon social groups. A casual raiding guild typically tries to follow two conflicting sets of imperatives. I will note that Adam doesn’t refer to his guild as a casual-raiding organization. I mean no insult–I just inferred from the text of the question that the guild is, at present, casual-raiding. Perhaps Adam would like it to transition toward being more of a bona fide raiding guild, but I’ll address that prospect below.

Why is Casual Raiding So Hard?

Like the aforementioned working mothers, casual raiding guilds often try to do it all. They have two basic principles behind their organization, and those principles are mutually exclusive. Below, I’m going to try to generalize what most casual raiding guilds might say about themselves.

Principle #1: Our guild is about friendship and freedom. We value the relationships people have made with each other in-game and out. We try to keep friends and loved ones raiding together. We also let our members play as they like. They have the freedom to set their own schedule and play style.

Principle #2: Our guild is about successful raiding. Everyone has to play a certain way, and we can only do so at set times. Only people who meet certain benchmarks for performance can raid with us.

The very conditions required by raid content impinge on the freedom of the casual raider. In addition, friendships cause trouble, as in Adam’s case, when guild members understand friendship as a means to a raid invite. These two conflicting principles cause some members of casual raiding guilds to work a lot harder than their raiding guild fellows for less results. It takes a lot more hours to clear content with a less-than-committed group. One of my previous guilds, Random Acts, could best be described as a casual raiding type. During the summer we started Karazhan, we raided for maybe 12 hours a week, but the wipes were such that it took us three months to clear the instance. In addition, because of a need to accommodate people’s schedules, we did crazy things like make attempts on Moroes at 6 am. He owned us, by the way. Both times I changed guilds, I went further in the direction of a progression raiding guild, and each time the number of hours in game reduced for me.

Do One Thing, and Do It Well

In my mind, these are words to live by. This is simply, what works for me, and why I appreciate being a member of a guild that focuses on a specific goal. I have, however, been in a guild, Collateral Damage, that offered some benefits for their more casual members while being very successful at raiding. They actively worked to treat all of their players as equals (even down to taking Kara-geared folks on Black Temple runs). Incredibly, they managed to do this fairly successfully. I know first-hand, however, that the officers and players worked really hard for that, and also that, as a result of mixed messages from the leadership, drama was high. “We can have whatever we want,” was the guild mantra. It’s admirable, I think, to try to be all things to all people. The leadership of that guild is extremely altruistic. However, in the end, it was too much pressure and conflict for me. It’s worth noting, though, that CD always did and continues to do very well in raid content. They just put in a lot more time in other stuff–what I call “casual time” and “administrative time”–than raiding guilds typically do. My current organization, Conquest, which defines itself very strictly as a raiding guild, has its flaws, to be sure, but the one thing it does do is focus on raiding success as it’s only goal.

What to Do With Adam’s Guild?

Short of renaming his organization Catch-22 and just trying to laugh about it, there are a few things this guild leader can do to improve his situation. He has to decide what is most important to him personally. I am guessing that what Adam values most will be one of these things.

1. Progression
2. Friendship
3. Power

Solutions

#1 If progression is the most important, what’s needed is probably a change of guild. It seems like what Adam wants will be extremely difficult to achieve with the current group. He can try to take 10 friends with him and split off to form a new organization, but in my mind that is not the most certain way to better progression. Right now it’s a player’s market on guild recruitment. Almost all guilds are recruiting with Ulduar in mind, and players of all classes can pretty much pick and choose from the guilds at their skill level. It’s a great time to make a move. Sometimes you can do so with one or two friends, but mostly you have to go it alone if you make this choice.

#2 If friendship is most important, Adam should probably stay in the current guild and make the best of it. This means working one-on-one with low-performing dps and trying to encourage them into better behaviors. This means educating the guild about what raiding requires. I saw Collateral Damage take many players through this very education process, and in some cases casual players improved enough to become top-performing raiders. However, the success rate is not particularly high. Most players approach the game as they want to. What’s most important to Adam’s guildies might be things like the freedom to raid how and when they want to. Their personal goals might conflict with Adam’s, and there’s not much he can do about it. As I say repeatedly in my posts, we must all seek our bliss in this game. Sometimes you can turn a team of casuals into a team of raiders, but they have to want it. Even if Adam sits down with each underperforming dps and analyzes their gear choices, talents, and rotation, they still may not improve.

#3 If power is the most important, Adam actually has two choices. The idea is to remain guild master. Either he can work within the framework of the current guild, as in #2, or he can take his 10 best and form a new, smaller guild. I can see how it would feel very important to be in charge. Adam probably has a sense of responsibility for his guildies and wants to take care of them. A lot of guild masters are like this–and I used to be. However, I made myself miserable trying to fight every bad policy, as I saw it, in my previous guild. It didn’t win me any friends. In my current guild, I’m just an officer, not a GM. I speak my mind, but I can pick my battles now. I don’t have to fight them all. If Adam does split off from his current guild, he can expect a lot of work and drama incoming. The surprise factor will probably be that many of his coterie of good players will not want to move, even if they join with another similarly-progressed raiding guild. This always happens when guilds merge or reform. If you’re considering something like this, just be expecting to take a step back in progression for a few weeks as you recruit to fill the spaces in your team.

Either way you choose, Adam, you can’t have everything. My best advice is to think about it during this next raid week and really weigh the things you value against each other. Then, make the best choice that you can. It’s hard to get out of the double bind, but you will be happier if you have some clarity about what it is that you really want.

Battered Guildie Syndrome is a Serious Problem

Battered Guildie Syndrome is a Serious Problem

bgs

You might not have heard of this name. Although I’m certain you’ll have seen it in other players. Maybe you have even experienced it yourself.

Throughout this post, I will refer to Battered Guildie Syndrome with full caps in front as it deserves that sort of attention.

Let me tell you a story.

There once was a Mage named Miranda. She was one of the top spellcasters on her server. The guild she was in was formed like how most guilds are: A foundation of friendships. Over time, it expanded until the Argonauts had enough to launch 25 man expeditions.

This is the story of most typical guild startups.

Unfortunately, like most fairy tale guilds, there was a problem.

And that problem’s name was Larry the Stable Guy.

Note: The nickname was coined for his dogged insistence at watching Stables all the time so he could surf the net while everyone else did all the work. Sometimes he’d get so involved that he’d miss out on Horde players gaining possession of the flag from under him.

His tongue was so sharp and so smooth, he eventually worked his way to the top of the guild as an Officer.

Raids became more difficult. The atmosphere was loosening up. People weren’t hitting their tears. They were dying for stupid reasons and simply not doing what was expected of them.

But not for Miranda and her cohorts. She bought the best consumables and augments money could buy. If elite players had a spokesperson, she would be it.

Not everyone around her shared her attitude about trying hard. Why bother doing your best when bosses were dying anyway?

Slowly but surely, Miranda’s spirit and those of her friends were worn down bit by bit. Her friends couldn’t handle the atmosphere anymore. One by one, they said their goodbyes and left until Miranda was the only one left. By now, she was an Officer. The Argos had a large number of talentless players and bozos. Week after week they’d enter Naxx and continue to be stoned by Patchwerk. She was growing tired and increasingly frustrated.

One day, Miranda’s friend Faith contacted her to touch base and see how she was doing. Faith’s guild had cleared out nearly all the content Wrath had to offer. They had a starting position for a DPS caster and Faith happened to remember Miranda.

Faith practically begged and pleaded for Miranda to transfer over. These guys knew their stuff, he said. Their policy of progression is in line with yours, he argued.

But Miranda adamantly refused. She felt that she could still change the guild. Not only that, they depended on her too much. She felt she would have betrayed them had she just packed up and moved. Because Miranda didn’t budge, Faith eventually gave up and never talked to her again.

Miranda continues to feel weary and disappointment. She was in a casual raiding guild after all. But she wanted to do much more. Every time she felt like leaving, she just couldn’t do it. She felt an obligation to stay. She was afraid of the guilt that would’ve washed over her.

This is just a dramatic and fictional account of what a typical player with Battered Guildie Syndrome goes through.

Symptoms

How do you recognize a player with Battered Guildie Syndrome?

  • Inability to make a decision
  • Difficulty saying no
  • Obsessively sacrificing their needs “for the good of the guild”
  • Playing down guild infractions as nothing serious
  • Continues to go back to their guild despite wanting to leave
  • Frequently talks about leaving
  • A strong sense of loyalty
  • Personal goals do not appear to coincide with guild goals

Battered Guildie Syndrome is a very serious problem. It continues to ruin the lives and experiences of thousands if not more players to this day.

Treatment

Players at advanced stages of Battered Guildie Syndrome considered irrecoverable and untreatable. Treatment is a complete longshot at best.

For those in the early stages, a healthy dose of reality and a good wake up call have a 50/50 chance of working. Some studies show that applying a large amount of peer pressure is enough to cause players to realize that their guild isn’t working for them.

At this time, there is no known 100% effective treatment available to combat Battered Guildie Syndrome. The ability to logic and reason with the patient may have mixed results especially if their sense of reasoning is already damaged.

In the end, Battered Guildie Syndrome patients may end up continuing to be a part of their organization. Until treatment can be found, we have to face the fact that they may suffer from Battered Guildie Syndrome forever.

Image courtesy of hamma