Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

crab

Phew! Priests and druids can breathe again as, today, Ghostcrawler explained the specific nature of the upcoming revision to out-of-casting mana regeneration. I’ll let the crab’s words speak for themselves, but you can read the whole interesting discussion here.

The goal is to have mana last about the same for all healers. We don’t think many players would be that interested in a style where you heal crazy good for a short period and then run OOM. How classes manage their mana varies a lot, and we are making tweaks to it for 3.1 to try and keep them in line. For example, the shadow fiend needs to be more reliable.

I am still not following the logic that Int now trumps Spirit by even more. It may have been a better stat already, but these changes shouldn’t affect it that much unless you A) skip Meditation and Intensity, or B) relied a whole lot more on OOFSR regen than the average raid healer of reasonable skill.

I will break from our normal practice and go ahead and provide the numbers, just to make sure nobody is guessing about the details when doing their estimates:

The amount of base mana regen granted has been reduced 40%. We called this “Spirit” in the notes, since most players associate OOFSR regen with Spirit, but in reality Int factors into the equation as well and we only lowered the constant, not the relative contributions of Int or Spirit. In retrospect, this probably caused more confusion than it alleviated, but mana regeneration is a fairly technical concept.

— The effects of talents that provide mana regen while casting have been increased by 67%. This includes: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac, and Spirit Tap. For example, Intensity and Meditation are now 17/33/50% mana regen while casting (up from 10/20/30%). For most dps classes who never got much mana from OOFSR in the first place, the results should not be noticeable. Boomkin may be a possible exception because of Innervate, and we’ll take a look at that.

This should leave mana regeneration while casting (even the contribution of Spirit) relatively unchanged, but reduce mana regeneration while not casting by 40%.

— Since paladins don’t rely on any of those abilities for mana regeneration, we lowered the healing penalty of Divine Plea to -50%. We are also likely to make Spiritual Attunement provide less mana for non-tanking paladins. We are not touching Illumination for the moment. Nor are we lowering the effects of Replenishment (though as I have suggested, it would be our likely next target if we aren’t happy with the results of these changes).

What’s the Difference?

Previously, accounts of the proposed nerf to mana regeneration were misleading. The net result is the same in either case–a reduction in the number you’ll see for regen outside of the 5-second rule–but the method is different. Blue poster Bornakk originally described the change as an adjustment to the contribution of Spirit: “To make this change, we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board.” Considering that statement, it’s no wonder that so many priests and druids panicked. Ghostcrawler amends this statement to the more reasonable proposition of decreasing the amount of O5SR regen we get by 40%, which is no insignificant amount, but his comment directly declares that the relative contribution of Intellect and Spirit will remain the same.

Why Does the Method Matter?

Blizzard could in fact have achieved their goal of reducing O5SR regen by reducing the contribution of spirit. At current, mana regeneration is arrived at by an equation that takes into account level, Spirit, and Intellect. For more information on this particular formula, I’ll direct you to some of Phaelia’s work on the subject–here I am in over my head. However, I can summarize. Spirit, at current, contributes more to mana regeneration than Intellect, but the formula uses them both. It has been theorized that, right now, the best mana regeneration occurs when a character has a Spirit to Intellect ratio of approximately 1:1, or perhaps 1.1:1 at higher gear levels. If the relative contribution of Spirit had been reduced, Intellect would have become, consequently, a more important factor in the equation.

But That’s Not All!

A directed nerf to Spirit would have caused other complications. After all, we don’t pick up Spirit and Intellect just for their contribution to the mana regen formula. For Priests and Druids, Spirit can affect our Spellpower and certain talents like Meditation and Intensity (which increase in-five-second-rule regen). Druids have the most reason to bet on Spirit in the Spirit-Intellect horse race. The following talents and abilities depend on Spirit: Intensity, Living Spirit, Improved Tree of Life, and Innervate. There’s a very good reason that most leather Spellpower gear prefers Spirit over mp5, which is a regen stat that does nothing but regen. Intellect, on the other hand, has become the new most-coveted stat in the healing game. It increases the size of one’s mana pool as it has always done, and it plays the same role in the regen formula that it has since patch 2.4. However, the size of the mana pool used to matter less than it does currently. Replenishment returns mana based on a percentage of total intellect–thus, we now have a way to refill those giant mana pools. Most healers believe that Replenishment made its way into the game to facilitate caster dps, and I agree, but without it, healer regen would be somewhat less than extraordinary. In my opinion, the devs made an excellent choice when they decided to keep Spirit and Intellect’s relative contributions the same as they are now–otherwise, Intellect would have gained popularity just like a runaway train on a downward slope gains speed.

Do I have to Re-Gear and Re-Gem?

The jury is still out on this one. If the nerf had been directly to Spirit, you certainly would have. You might have even had to throw away your Spirit trinkets–the Spirit-World Glass and the Majestic Dragon Figurine–which would have been a shame. All the Naxx Spirit gear might have suddenly seemed like an unwise purchase. It is true that Intellect is probably already the stronger stat. As such, as mana regen becomes tougher, and you become faced with needing to add more Intellect or more Spirit, you might choose Intellect–if you have a choice. For example, I might still pick the Darkmoon Card Greatness: Intellect over the Spirit version. I’ll also be heading to the PTR with a stack of pure Intellect gems in order to get a sense of whether re-gemming is in order. It does not seem, however, that mp5 will be gaining much status. It’s already the downtrodden healer stat of Wrath, and I expect it to make only slight gains now. You won’t throw away your Spirit gems for mp5, after all, though you probably won’t turn down a necklace or ring with mp5 instead of Spirit once 3.1 hits.

Conspiracy Theories

How is it that two such very different accounts of the nerf have appeared? In my mind, one of two things must have happened.

1. The devs think we’re really stupid. This is the cause that GC hints at in his post. They might not realize that the community, as a whole, is very educated about their game and how it works. I’ve known that Intellect plays a part in my regen ever since 2.4 hit. If this is the case, I’d like to express my disappointment. To use an analogy from my own life, I get better results in my college classes when I treat my students like adults, capable of grappling with complex issues, than when I treat them like children who can only absorb one simple idea at a time. I’d never tell my students that Columbus “discovered” America. That’s an hour lecture on who encountered what and what it means to “explore” new lands that are already full of people.

2. They changed their mind. The devs might have realized that the current spirit-heavy druid and priest gear would become irrelevant. Rather than having to revisit all of those items which play up Spirit, it seemed far easier in the end to keep Spirit and Intellect in balance. It would probably have made people really angry to have to try extreme methods–like using the wrong armor type, or regemming for straight +Intellect regardless of bonuses–to get a competent level of regen with the gear currently available. If so, congrats to them. If they never admit to a change in thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised. All it means is that someone on that team has a few brain cells to rub together. I’ve never been one to think the devs are stupid–they’re just sometimes slow to anticipate the community’s reaction. Being a part of the WoW community, I’m much closer to that reaction and can guess it pretty accurately. If they changed their method of attack on the OFSR regen, they just made a really smart call.

In any case, I am one relieved druid as of today.

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

tierpiece

Updates:: This is another classic example of me not fact checking my stuff. This post sat in my draft queue since early January. Other things came up and I set it aside for the time being. Patches 3.0.8 and 3.0.9 were released and I forgot that some changes were made. Resto Druids 2 piece, Feral Druid 2 piece notes have been changed. Stop’s opinions have been revised. I split the tanking and DPS feral druids accordingly instead of lumping them together. Added another Enhancement Shaman perspective. Sorry! :(

Tier pieces have a history of granting bonuses. Blizzard has an even more illustrious history of giving set bonuses that are really good and some that are really bad. I don’t know everything about every class. Yet, as a member of loot council, I should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the various set pieces. Like it or not, set bonuses do tend to have an impact on decisions. One of the Resto Shamans in my guild was the first to get the 4 piece (because Archavon was kind and dropped 2 Resto pieces).

To help you understand and decide on your set pieces, I’ve consulted my guild and several other prominent bloggers and players in the community. I don’t know as much as I would like about other classes and it wouldn’t be fair for me to make any assumptions (without asking others about it first).

This post will be broken down into 4 different roles: Tanking, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healers.

Tanking

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Shield Slam by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Shield Wall by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

Several of the tanking Warriors I consulted weren’t impressed with the Warrior 4 piece. Prot Warrior blogger Veneretio only had this to say:

"It’s a great bonus if the 4 pieces fall into your lap, but the current non-set itemization is so strong that you’ll be hard pressed to even get the 2 piece. Basically, it’s go for the 7.5 gloves and another set piece (like shoulders or chest).”

Druid

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good (for both)

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Good for tanks

I had to consult Feral Druid Karthis about this one.

His thoughts on the 2 piece:

“While extra damage is always nice, Lacerate doesn’t form a crucial part of a bear tank’s output – Maul and Mangle generally outperform it (although Mangle is close).  Since threat is a non-issue in the existing content, this set bonus is even further trivialized.”

On the 4 piece:

“This unassuming-sounding set bonus is actually fairly significant.  Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% and usually lasts for 12s.  It is a spell that every tank should be re-casting as soon as it is off cooldown.  Boosting the uptime to 15s only improves an already must-use skill, and further reduces the total incoming damage that must be healed through.”

Paladin

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Hammer of the Righteous by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Divine Shield and Divine Protection by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

HoR is good AoE threat. 4 piece is irrelevant to raiding. (Thanks Myze!)

From what I’ve been told, the 2 piece is good. The 4 piece appears to be just average. The situation seems to be similar to the Warrior 4 piece. Divine Protection is probably going to get used more often in the same was Shield Wall would be. Thanks Anna!

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Plague Strike by 10%. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 3 seconds. Rating: Good

When Stop speaks, I listen:

2 piece: It’s still not fantastic… at all. Plague Strike is one of our lowest-hitting abilities, and improving its crit chance is not as useful as if they’d increased its crit damage. Basically, the 2-piece bonus is not worth going for.

4 piece: About the tanking gear 4-piece bonus: If you have to have a set bonus, this would be the one to go for. However, I don’t know if I’d pass up other gear just to get it, depending on your playstyle. Icebound Fortitude is basically Barkskin, and with some specs being squishier than others, some use it constantly while some use it like a moderately less effective Shield Wall. If you use IBF every time it’s up, go for this bonus. Otherwise, consider it a nice perk for getting this already-nicely-statted tank gear.

Melee DPS

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Slam by 10%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Bleed periodic effects have a chance to make your next ability cost 5 less rage. Rating: Moderate

Not that hot. Most DPS Warriors don’t have as much rage issues from what I’m told. But the Slam bonus is very nice.

Rogues

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Rupture by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the Energy cost of your Combo moves by 5%. Rating: Ugh

“The two-piece bonus seems pretty useful but I’m unconvinced about the four-piece.” Seri, Snarkcraft

“Just that the two piece is a huge bonus for rogues while the four piece is lackluster considering the amount of energy used to perform the combo moves.” – Cassio

Druids

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Not great for DPS kitties

2 piece notes: “This is an important set bonus for a feral cat’s long term sanity.  Kitty DPS is stressful – there are four separate buffs/debuffs that need to be monitored.  By increasing the duration of Rip, a Druid is allowed more wiggle room to keep the other three (Rake, Mangle, Savage Roar) all active, which leads to consistently higher DPS.  “

4 piece notes: “It reduces the Tiger’s Fury cooldown by 3s. While TF is used every 30s, the top theorycrafters say that this new bonus is almost meaningless, clocking in at an extra 0.7% dps. There are much better gear choices that provide a bigger DPS boost than that.” (Karthis’ notes in the comments)

Shamans

2 piece: Your Lightning Shield damage is increased by 10%. Rating: Not so good.

4 piece: Your Flurry effect provides an additional 5% melee haste. Rating: Good

Not the greatest. Most Shamans don’t appear to pick up the Static Shock talent. Water shield is primarily used since they go through mana quickly. The 4 piece is decent as it results in overall faster hits.

On the other hand:

It is actually fairly good, static shock is a must take ability for an enh shammy. When I look at my WWS, lightning shield represents about 6% of my total damage output. Since I am at about 4k DPS right now that means my lightning shield is doing about 240 DPS.

Paladins

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Divine Storm by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of your Judgment of Light, Judgment of Wisdom and Judgment of Justice by 1 second. Rating: Good

An overall net increase in DPS. Your Ret Paladins will love it. From what I’ve been told, Ret Paladins have this in their rotation anyway.

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Obliterate and Scourge Strike abilities by 5%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Obliterate and Scourge Strike generate an additional 10 Runic Power when used. Rating: Moderate

DPS 2 piece: The only people who won’t benefit from this are dual-wielders. Every two-handed build in common usage uses either Obliterate or Scourge Strike, so for much the same reason as how Heigan’s sigil is great for pretty much every two-hander-using DK, this set piece bonus is fantastic for them. I’m still trying to get a set piece just for this bonus, in fact!

DPS 4 piece: I have no idea what they were thinking with this. I think they would’ve done better to try to rip off another class’s bonus, like, say, warriors? No DK should be having problems generating runic power, two-handed or dual-wield, period. Plus, again, this is useless for dual-wielders – both of the DPS plate set bonuses are geared exclusively towards two-handed weapon users. All that aside – I would never gear for this set bonus specifically.

– Stoppable force.

Ranged DPS

Priests

2 piece: The mana cost of your Mind Blast is reduced by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Shadow Word: Death has an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Not so good

From my Shadow Priests:

The 2 piece is nice but is purely for mana efficiency on Mind Blast and doesn’t really matter much if you have stacked Spirit and Crit like most Shadow Priests do. The 4 piece isn’t worth it because with itemization there are many pieces that add more DPS than the 10% critical chance to Shadow Word: Death.

Druid

2 piece: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance. Rating: Good

Boomkin ones are awesome all the way around. Insect swarm should always be up and 5% extra crit on our two major nukes is flat out gibbering insane. – Llanion, Moooonfire

Shaman

2 piece: Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%. Rating: Good

I play an Elemental Shaman in my off nights and I absolutely love it. I don’t have a ton of mana problems in the beginning. Fights are short enough that I won’t be taxing my mana pool. The 4 piece set bonus is great for me. Flame Shock guarantees that my next Lava Burst will crit. This means Lava Burst will get an increase of 10% damage no matter what. Normally I’ll do around 8000 damage per Lava Burst. This shoots it up to a little under 9000. Fights like Thaddius or Malygos where your damage gets increased will have Shamans see an extremely noticeable amount (18000 with Sparks)!

Mages

2 piece: You gain 40% more mana when you use a mana gem. In addition, using a mana gem grants you 225 spell power for 15 sec. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Your offensive spells gain an additional 5% increased critical strike bonus damage. Rating: Good

I consulted one of my Mages on this and he tells me that the 2 piece is nice for the extra mana boost. The 4 piece could potentially equal a 1%-2% overall DPS increase.

Hunters

2 piece: Your pet deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your ranged attack speed is increased by 20% while Aspect of the Viper is active. Rating: Good

2 piece bonus is nice for any spec, but it’s particularly good for MM or SV looking to close the gap in pet damage. The 4 piece bonus is kind of a nice boost to DPS while in regen mode, but nothing earth shattering, looks like. – Lassirra, The Hunters Mark

Warlocks

2 piece: Your Corruption and Immolate periodic effects have a chance to increase the next critical strike chance of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Casting Life Tap grants you an additional 300 spirit for 10 seconds. Rating: Good

“2 piece bonus is really good. 4 piece bonus is- OMG WHY DON’T I ALREADY HAVE THIS?”  – nibuca

Note: Nib immediately dashed off and could not be reached for further comment.

Healers

Priests

2 piece: Your Prayer of Mending will jump an additional time. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%. Rating: No, not really

Personally, I’d say go consult your WWS on this. Try to get a feel for how often you use Greater Heal and see if you can justify it. I don’t use Greater Heal as often. When you think about it, 5% off of Greater Heal is about 50 mana or so. I don’t use this spell enough to warrant the free payback. But if you do, then it is something for you to consider. Otherwise, go for 2 sets then defer the rest to the other classes (like Warlocks or Paladins). Obviously if the 7.5’s drop and you have nothing else better in the slots (like heroic gear), go ahead and take a stab at it.

Shaman

2 piece: Your Water Shield is 10% stronger (each tick restores 10% more mana). Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the healing done by your Chain Heal and Healing Wave by 5%. Rating: Good

Earthshatter set bonuses for Resto Shaman are awesome! Because they buff Water Shield as well as Chain Heal and Healing Wave, they manage to suit most of the various healing styles that Resto Shaman can perform (Anna, Too Many Annas)

Druid

2 piece: The cost of your Rejuvenation Lifebloom is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Nourish heals an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target. Rating: Good

2 piece is solid. Rejuvenation Lifebloom gets used frequently. With the 4 piece, Nourish becomes even stronger for Resto Druids. At least, this is what Syd tells me. Can’t go wrong here!

Paladin

2 piece: Your Holy Shock gains an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Holy Light is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

"Neither bonus is play-changing in the way that old set bonuses have been (4pcT5, anyone?) but both 2pc and 4pc bonuses are nice boosts to our mana-intensive spells." – Siha, Banana Shoulders

Hopefully this summary will help you in your loot decisions! For the DKP players, maybe it’ll even save you some points for other items instead!

Image courtesy of riyono

Ulduar Unveiled

Ulduar Unveiled

ulduar-unveiled

Update 1:32 PM

“Actually, the effectiveness of the vehicles in the Flame Leviathan fight changes depending on the quality of the gear. So someone in full Naxxramas epics (or Ulduar epics!) will have an easier time than someone in greens. “

Source

More information about Ulduar from this blue thread.

  • We know of four additional bosses: Thorim, Freya, Iron Council, and Hodir.
  • PTR will be on a testing schedule. Certain fights will be turned on at certain times so the encounter team can watch it.
  • Both 10s and 25s will be available

Some quick hits here for your Tuesday morning. WoW Europe’s released a lot of details for Ulduar.

Here’s all the stuff that may interest, you in a nutshell:

  • We’ll be engaging one of the Old Gods. Could be the final boss.
  • Contains two separate raid areas. Not sure if it means wings or two instances (a la AQ 40 and 20).
  • Seems one of the main areas will be where we fight the Iron Army. Humanoids (thinking ahead to CC types). I’m thinking a mix of elementals and mechanical mobs as well.
  • 14 bosses, 11 of which have hard modes.
  • Vehicles will be important. Motorcycles, demolishers, and siege engines will be used to breach the first set of Ulduar’s defenses.
  • Sick of vehicles in Malygos Phase 3? We get to use them against the Flame Leviathan (weapons platform), type boss. The Leviathan is a part of the V0-L7R-0N weapons platform (Reference to Voltron, eh Stop?). A boss that’s only touchable via vehicles. Once it reaches a certain percentage, players can then assault the tank’s back and destroy it.
  • Flame Leviathan encounter has four defensive towers that can be destroyed. The more towers left up, the more challenging the encounter. Ergo, better and more loot.

More details to come. Yours truly will be leading a task force in there on the PTR. As you may suspect, I will be writing up healing strategies for Ulduar as soon as I devise them. Expect the usual Photoshop diagrams to accompany them.

Raiding and the Bench

Raiding and the Bench

bench
Deciding who raids and who sits out on any given night is the second-most unpleasant task any raid leader or organizer has to face. (The most unpleasant, of course, will always be loot distribution). From a player’s perspective, it really sucks to ride the pine pony when you had been expecting to raid. However, maintaining a healthy bench is necessary for both raiders and guild masters alike–your bench players are the people you count on to get you through the bad times. As we all must know by now, in any human enterprise you cannot expect to succeed if your plans hinge on achieving a best case scenario every time. There will be ups and downs in any competitive activity, and the game plan has to account for that.

The Bench and Sports

I know I personally have bad memories of sitting bench from high school sports. During my sophomore year of high school, I was allowed to play on both the junior varsity and varsity volleyball squads. This meant that I got two sets of ill-fitting, 1970s-era uniforms, double the practice time, and, guess what? Almost no playing time on the varsity team. Whenever I hear the word “bench” now, I shudder, remembering that experience. However, high school athletes sit the bench faithfully, hoping that someday, somehow, next year, their turn will come. As for volleyball, mine never did–I didn’t even try out the next year. That’s always a risk with the bench. You may never move up.

Raiding with a Bench

In theory, high-end raiding guilds are run by grownups, and sitting bench doesn’t have to be the humiliating experience that many of us remember from high school. We can all share and share alike, right? Wrong. Perhaps because of our high school traumas, many raiders feel territorial about their raid spots, and people may not always volunteer to sit when too many players log on to raid. What you have to do, in the WoW context, is overcome the idea that only inferior players sit bench. That’s not true. Players sit bench for many reasons–class balance, space, attendance, etc. It’s usually not just a question of who’s better, as it almost always is in high school. How can a GM or raid leader manage this situation? The following tips should help a guild master or raid leader keep the bench under control without bruising too many feelings.

1. Have Thoughtful Recruiting Goals

The first line of defense against bench trouble is a thoughtful recruiting plan. You do have to recruit more than 25 players for a 25-person raiding team. A good goal is approximately 15% more, or 4 extra raiders. These 29 players should all have equal ranking and equal access to raid spots. In a guild with typical attendance (75%), most raids will be exclusively composed of these 29 people, and only rarely will any of them have to sit bench. Make sure that sitting bench is part of your guild culture. Your raiders should expect that their number will come up once in a while. If you have far too many raiders at present, I have a piece of advice that doesn’t seem particularly proactive–just wait. Don’t gkick a bunch of your players or tell them there isn’t room. In the virtual world, balance changes in the blink of an eye, and there are always people leaving raiding, or the game as a whole. Any time you’re not recruiting, your guild is shrinking, and you can can just wait until the numbers come into balance.

2. Institute a Substitute Rank

Typical raider attendance, which I ballparked at 75%, can drop much lower in hard times. We’re in a difficult spot right now in WoW, with the Wrath content feeling stale to many high-end raiders and Ulduar still many weeks away. If your guild hasn’t had any roster shakeups in the last few weeks, you’re highly atypical. In order to get through the bad times, you may want to institute a substitute rank in your guild. In Conquest, Subs are players who are well-qualified to raid all content but typically joined at a time when we weren’t recruiting their class for permanent spots. Some Subs simply have more time constraints than our raiding policy allows for–often one or two raids per week is just fine for them, and they remain very happy at this rank. Many Subs joined Conquest for social reasons, but some became members of the guild hoping for an opportunity to move into the Raider rank. This has happened for very many of our Subs over the last few weeks as people’s interests have taken them in different directions. I am always happy to see a dedicated Sub get promoted. Of course, sometimes a Sub will move on to a different guild that has a permanent spot for them–to me, that’s great too, because it means that the player is closer to meeting their in-game goals.
If your guild uses a Substitute rank, it offers you a sort of pre-recruiting option. You will be able to promote from within when vacancies occur. After all, you never know when one of your players will disappear without a word. In the anonymous virtual world, this happens all too often. Thus, it’s in your best interest as GM to keep a list of subs and keep them happy. How to do this? Invite them on farm raids, 10-mans, Vault of Archavon, etc–whatever your guild’s more laid-back events happen to be, and give them a prize for their efforts. Most Subs will get loot naturally as many drops from farm content will go uncontested.

3. Have an Attendance Policy

My experience with attendance policies, both as a professor and as a raider, is that people tend to ignore them. They’re only usually enforced in the limit cases. I may have a policy on my books that says I lower a student’s grade after 3 absences, but I’m not likely to actually do it until they have 7 or 8. Despite this tendency, you need to put some kind of attendance policy on your books. It is true that it is not practical to demote someone who has 72% attendance when your policy says they need 75%. Yet, attendance figures should factor into some of the tough decisions that you might make as a leader. For example, if you need to bench one of your 29 raiders for an Obsidian Sanctum 3 drakes raid, and your choice comes down to two dps players, one with 70% attendance and one with 90%, let 90% guy have the spot. If your guild uses loot council, let attendance factor into the decision-making process. If you do enforce your attendance policy in any way, you ought to track it via your guild’s website so that people can see how they stand relative to each other. Matticus recently found a great way to do this for Conquest through EQDKP plus. As a raider, it’s a good reality check. I can see that I have 83% attendance, which is actually lower than I thought I had. I had forgotten that I took time off at Christmas. These sorts of selective blindness can have raiders thinking that decisions are unfair or arbitrary. It’s always good to see the actual numbers.

4. Keep Your Members Educated

The degree of success your guild has with the bench problem will depend almost entirely on how you communicate the matter to your raiders. Make sure that players know how attendance will be assessed and what will be expected of them. If you have a raider rank, get those players used to the idea of sitting out once in a while. In Conquest, those decisions are made based on the advantages/disadvantages of certain classes and specs in specific encounters. However, we try not to bench the same person too often. Sitting the bench is a responsibility everyone–even officers–should share. Another good policy is to ask for volunteers, especially if it’s a farm raid and class balance isn’t so crucial. Sometimes there’s a player who really just wants to go to bed. If so, be sure to thank them when you move a player into their spot. To me, a thanks from the raid leader or guild leader means a lot.

Conclusions

As the GM or raid leader, you can never entirely eliminate the bench problem. You can never recruit the exact perfect number for all situations, and you can never enforce any attendance policy so strictly that you will never fall short of filling a raid. I think it’s far better to have too many than too few show up to raid. If you’d like to keep your raiders healthy and happy, on bench and off, make sure to have clear policies that you enforce fairly. Make sure that many different players share the bench burden. When people see this happening, for the most part they will accept an occasional sideline, knowing that it won’t happen to them every raid, every time.

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Two Seagulls

So what’s the question on everyone’s mind?

Will you, as a player, need two sets of specs as enforced by your raid leader?

For most players, one spec should suffice. You were brought into your current guild and asked to perform in a role. That has not changed. What has changed is the ease in which you can switch from one role to another. You can go from raiding to soloing. You can switch between PvE work to PvP relaxation.

All this stuff can be still be done right now.

It’s just pretty darned expensive between re-gemming, re-enchanting, and re-glyphing.

Your guild policy

I suspect it will be similar to mine. After reading about it and thinking about it, I decided the best course of action was to allow players to select whatever secondary spec they like.

Their primary spec is going to be used for raiding. Of that, I have no doubt. If they didn’t want to raid, they’d just let me know and hibernate for a while. The players that are still around do want to raid and there’s no way they’d jeopardize that.

I’m not doing your job for you

I’ve always told my players to select whatever talent points they needed to excel in the role they are asked to do. I don’t have the time or the interest to research every class and spec in the game and tell them what to get. That responsibility is there for them. I can provide them with resources or point them in places to look, but beyond that I am hopeless.

Now don’t get confused between asking a player to switch roles and to pick out talent points. Asking a Panzerdin to switch from tanking to a healing job is going to require him to completely switch out some specs. What I will not do is tell them how to spend each point individually. This is based on the assumption that they want to and are capable of doing it.

Some misconstrued people on Twitter get into a knot when they assume I expect and enforce people to spec a certain way. That’s not true. I expect them to pick a spec that allows them to contribute as much as they can to the raid in a manner comfortable with them. While I understand guilds that enforce specs I’ve never been one to do that unless I desperately felt that it was an ability that is absolutely essential to successfully complete an encounter. And even then, I’d ask first if they were comfortable with the idea.

What if I’m a bonafide raid healer forever? I know if I were a raiding Holy Paladin, I’d select the standard PvE Holy loadout for one spec. But my second? I’d grab the one that stretches down the Protection tree deep enough to grab Divine Guardian. 12 seconds where the raid takes 30% less damage is a make or break ability that can give healers the time to weather the incoming storm. I do this with the knowledge that it offers my guild a second option in the event that it’s needed. Not like I was using it for anything else anyway.

Again, this is assuming I don’t PvP or dabble in other roles.

The other guy we all love to hate

Most guilds have that one annoying player that everyone hates.

You know who I’m talking about. He’s the guy that knows more about your class then you do. He can play it way better than you. He has the raid achievements and the epics to prove it.

But what if you had 24 other players who knew just about as much as everyone else? Constantly asking questions, pointing out strengths, identifying weaknesses and just making people think rationally about what they’re doing is a shift in environment that a lot of players would be unfamiliar with.

With dual specs, guildss can start expecting DPS and healers to start talking to each other more. I can see different players asking each other how they specced a certain way. Maybe they’re asking for advice on what points to take for a second spec after deciding on a role. I know I don’t have the faintest clue on what to glyph, enchant, or augment if I were to grab shadow.

My Shadow Priests ask me once in a while what my thought process was between this talent point and that talent point (like Serendipity vs Test of Faith).

What about off spec loot?

And the question that every raid leader hates to answer but has to for the sake of their guild is how should off spec loot be handled? This is something that’s still under discussion. It’s always good to hear everyone’s perspective.

But in the end, it’s up to the GM to decide on one. You can’t please everybody. And the GM has to pick a policy that follows in line with the rest of their organization.

Now the Bank of Matticus is a large corporation that requires resources to continue functioning. It helps  sponsors enchanting materials for the guild. In the future, a path is being explored where it can be used to help sponsor guild repairs.

It needs a way of generating income.

Some pointers

  • Main spec (role) will get a clear priority
  • Assuming no main spec raiders need an item, players that would like to use it for offspec can obtain it
  • Players that would like more than 1 item for offspec will be asked to compensate the guild accordingly. This could be in gold (like 100g), an Abyss Crystal, a stack of Infinite Dust, or half a stack of Greater Cosmic Essences.
  • This cap resets after one week. So a player can get a free off spec item once per week (on top of any main spec items needed)

This addition is still under debate. But I expect to have a decision rendered before this week’s raid.

The aim of this is to discourage players from attempting to assemble 4 or 5 sets worth of gear. I’m sorry, but no one needs that amount of equipment. It’s absolutely wasteful. Want a healing and Moonkin set? Absolutely, that’s no problem. Grab a few items here and there during the weeks where no players need it. Donate a couple of hundred gold and an abyss into the bank. Augment your gear with stuff from heroics or normal level raids.

You don’t need a tanking set, a cat DPS set, a moonkin set, a PvP moonkin set, a Resto set, a dreamstate set, and so forth. That’s absolutely greedy and unnecessary.

Dear Lodur, a Valentine’s Day Post.

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Welcome to the first edition of Dear Lodur, a column where people can ask me questions anonymously and get advice.   It seemed fitting that this inaugural post of Dear Lodur is centered around Love is in the Air, the wonderful (or heartbreaking) festival in Azeroth. With so many people swept off their feet of left sobbing in the streets, who would be a better Draenei to ask for help than Lodur?

Dear Lodur,

I’m a prot paladin and I think that my girlfriend is cheating on me. Lately she’s been healing an offtank (a feral druid!) on Patchwerk more than me and I’m the MT! She’s not responsive to my tells and she just doesn’t seem interested in healing me anymore. Should I be worried? What should I do?

Thanks,

Worried in the Construct Wing

Dear Worried in the Wing,

The relationship between a healer and their tank is a very delicate one, but one that has been around for as long as we can remember. It is one of those natural couplings. Because this is so natural to us, we tend to see our healers with other tanks as a threat. Are you sure her healing lead just didn’t assign her to the offtank? Are you trying to send her tells while she’s healing? I would say that if you are truly concerned you should catch her after a raid, sit her down and talk to her calmly and rationally. Maybe even bring her a dozen Roses . I’m certain you’ll find she is, at heart, a one tank woman and you have nothing to worry about.

~Lodur



Dear Lodur,

My guy has recently started up Alchemy, and now every time he has extra Pygmy Oil around he downs it and turns himself into a Gnome! Lately I see him with a lot of Gnomes in the Eventide bank as well. I asked him to stop but I still find the empty vials laying around the sewers after his arena matches. I’m concerned this is going to turn into an unhealthy obsession and addiction. What can I do?

Thanks,

Distressed in Dalaran

Dear Distressed,

Get help for your loved one right away! Gnome morphing can become a serious addiction very quickly. Get your mutual friends together as well for it may be time for an intervention. Tell him how it is affecting you and how concerned you are for him. And if all else fails, wait till he Gnomifies himself, then hire a couple Tauren to drag him to Darnassus to get the Priestesses of Elune involved. I hear they did wonders for King Wrynn’s Pickled Zevhra hoof problem. Good luck and make sure you guard your ankles!

~Lodur


Dear Lodur,

I’ve been dating a elemental shaman for awhile now. We’ve raided a little bit together and everything seemed fine. Then he asked me to do some battlegrounds with him and who was I to say no? We were waiting at the gate in Arathi Basin when he shifted into Ghost Wolf (something he hadn’t done while we’ve been dating) and since then I can’t stop sneezing! He’s asked me to join his arena team, but I think I’m allergic to dogs. Help!

Thanks,

Allergic in Arathi


Dear Allergic,

Being in an arena team with someone is a large commitment, especially when balancing a potential health issue like allergies. There are a variety of solutions, though it is almost impossible to determine which will be best. First thing you need to do is figure out if you are allergic or not. Get him to transform and see if the sneezing fits continue. If they do then it’s time to disclose your allergy and talk about solutions together. As a shaman, I can say that you might want to suggest your significant other take a bath in Ghost Wolf form, as many shaman often forget that even the spiritual elements of what we do need to be cleaned once in a while. You’re reaction might just be to slightly dirty wolf hair. If that fails you may be able to work something out where there won’t be a need for him to shape shift, perhaps buy him a mount. I hear Kodo are hypo allergenic. The most important thing is that you talk about it and come up with solutions together. You need to agree in advance that you won’t fight about this or build up resentments, and that you will both give it your best shot.

~Lodur


Dear Lodur,

I’m a Nightelf priest and my best friend forever is a dwarf hunter. She tames all these different animals, sends them off to fight and some of them even die! If they don’t die, she’ll just abandon them when she has no use for them. She does the same thing to all those poor cats and small pets she picks up everywhere, just abandoning them whenever she gets bored. How can I show her what she’s doing is cruel and unusual punishment to these poor creatures?

Signed,

Ally of the Animals

Dear Ally,

Your situation is not the first I’ve heard of this. Unfortunately hunters have been brought up this way, and as a result this learned behavior is so ingrained in them it is often times nigh impossible to break. I do however have a suggestion that just might do the trick. What you need to do is find yourself a sympathetic mage and then ask a little favor from Breanni in Dalaran. Convince your friend you’re going to Breanni’s to buy some pet supplies with your mage friend. When you’re there have the mage Polymorph Cat the hunter! Get Breanni to lock the door and unleash Stinker . After being chased around for a while we’ll see if your hunter has a new respect for her poor pets. If that doesn’t work I hear Arthas has a great Re-Education program…

~Lodur


That’s it for this installment of Dear Lodur, feel free to submit your questions if you have any at all. Till next time remember,anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart!

I would like to give special thanks to Sientina from Mug’thol for her help in this post.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

And a hearty happy single’s awareness Valentine’s day to all you wonderful readers out there!

Just a quick summary and weekly highlights for the blogosphere for today (and links I liked over the week).

Last week I issued the WoW Bloggers Valentine’s day challenge and a number of you answered the bell!

Warcraft

  • Treebound Cat – An open letter to my Guild: Wherein the Maerdred-ian one suggests his guild scraps Naxx 25 until the standard of raiders increases. Disappointing to read that it has come to this. But sometimes, such actions become necessary.
  • Fel Fire – The best application I ever denied: I’d rank Fel Fire as one of the hottest WoW blogs to enter the community. Posts are very compelling (and at times, edge of the seat, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-screen). Definitely added to my A-List blogs on Google Reader. Keeps this up, and I’ll have to shuffle Fel Fire into the blog roll down below.
  • Shadow Weaving – Avoid Non-Perma-Pets on Thaddius!: All points bulletin issued by Shadow Weaving for newer Priests who may not be aware of this. Your Shadow Fiend can get positive or negative charges. Potential to wipe the raid!
  • Daily Druid – A great one stop shop for all your Druid needs across all specs. It’s just a simple blog that scours for everything Druid related and publishes it here. Great resource! Wonder if he’s going to launch a Priest version.
  • Simply Serae – 5 Tips for the starting Class Leader – I never bought into the whole class leader philosophy. I’ve embraced a performance based philosophy where everyone’s knowledge adds up together. I don’t think the knowledge and thinking should revolve around several key players. How did I go through this approach? I recruited players way smarter then I am in terms of theory crafting, raid strategy, and so forth. These are players who like to learn from each other and ask questions so that they can get better. However, I am aware that the class leader system still remains prevalent. And this post has some great tips for that.

Blogging

  • Mashable – Personal Branding 102: How to Communicate & Maintain Your Brand: Read the section on evangelize, pitch media (replace reporter with blogger), comment on blogs, write articles and careful listening. A lot of great blogs have difficulty with the promotional and marketing side of things (and are wondering how to attract more readers).
  • Freelance Switch – How to Get Stuck Words to Flow Again: Great for guys like me who get stuck on some days wondering what to write next. Sometimes it helps to just fall back to the basics and stick to the system.
  • Write to Done – How to Make Your Writing Matter to Your Readers: It starts with writing for your audience. And you know what? Your best audience is you. If you like to read about making gold, then focus on writing about making gold. If your heart is into healing, write about healing. By writing what you would read, you attract readers who are interested in the same things as you are. Start from there and branch out.
  • Blogopolis Blueprint – Building Your Blog’s Tribe: If you only read one link from this list, read this one.

 

Leadership

  • Leadership Turn – Ducks in a Row: As you think, so shall you lead: Two important principles. It could help you realign your and re-examine your beliefs. It’s all about your culture. The first? People are intelligent, motivated, and they genuinely want to support their [guild] in achieving its objectives.
  • Slow Leadership – Who are you?: Your identity. Do you know what it is?
  • Triple Pundit – Top 10 Reflections from a First Time TEDster: I love TED. I love watching the videos and presentations that are released. It’s helped me become a better communicator at school, in life, and in game. Given the chance between going to TED or Blizzcon, I’d probably pick TED by a narrow margin.

Say Hello to Lodur

For the past month, I’ve been on the look out for Shaman and Paladin contributors. I’m happy to say that I’ve found a Shaman  I’d like to take this time to introduce Lodur!

Lodur is a Restoration Shaman who is currently an officer in the guild Unpossible on Zul’jin as well as their current Healer Lead. He is helping to push his guild through the current end game and is helping to prepare them for Ulduar and beyond. The Shamanistic one has been a gamer for over 15 years and has experience ranging from pen and paper role playing games all the way through the games of today. In World of Warcraft he has been around since the beta first hit, and has experienced the game from level 1 through end game many times over on different toons, and from different perspectives. He is an active member of the of the healing community at PlusHeal, and thoroughly enjoys the craft of healing.

This Shaman blogger from Way of the Totem who answered a call to contribute at World of Matticus hopes to highlight the shaman class while providing pertinent information for up and coming shamans. He also intends to use his experiences in game to help healers and raiders alike, while still having fun along the way.

Upcoming Topics

  • Why play a shaman?
  • Friend and Foe – (how to deal real life friends who are raiders)
  • Mythology of the shaman – From real life to warcraft lore, from Odin to Thrall
  • Guild morale in times of rapid changes, patches, nerfs and buffs. How to keep them going.

Previous Posts by Lodur

Meanwhile, the hunt continues for a Paladin…

4 Points of Crisis Management

4 Points of Crisis Management

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”
Chinese Proverb

As individuals, we’re exposed to conflict on a daily level. We get into arguments with loved ones. We curse at the guy who cuts us off on the highway. We become angry because of decisions made by other people that affect us.

One of the Criminology courses I’m taking in university is called introduction to policing. Today I wanted to share some important lessons I learned that day. It’s something that law enforcement go through often in their careers. It’s a great skill that benefits all of us regardless of what your jobs or interests are.

It’s about crisis management.

People need time

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See that poorly drawn graph above? The shaded area is a person’s “rage” meter. This is when a person is at the peak of their anger. Give them time to calm down. Don’t rush anything just yet. Some people get extremely fired up at first and their judgment gets clouded. After some time has passed, the “rage” meter will start to decrease and come down.

Watch your tone of voice and conduct yourself appropriately

Many summers ago, I had a job as a carnie. No, I wasn’t the guy that dressed in the clown suit. I was the guy that had to make your kid wait in line in front of that Scooby Doo or Spongebob Squarepants bouncy castle. It continues to be my observation that when a parent’s kids are involved, all sense of logic and reason goes out the window. The supervisor on deck never stopped preaching to us to watch what we say and to not lose our temper. Direct any extremely flamboyant customers to the supervisor. But above all, don’t lose your cool. Because by raising your voice, you’ll only escalate the problem even further.

And no, I didn’t clean up when your kid peed in my ride either. I got people junior and I to do it. Hooray for seniority (and bless the guy that invented Fuh-breeze).

Reflect on what they’re saying and keep talking

Try and understand their perspective. Keep the conversation going. Try and find common ground. Learn to compromise. What exactly is the subject fired up about? Is there a way for you to help and resolve the situation?

Give them space and distance

When dealing with high risk offenders, keep your distance and give them a lot of space. It doesn’t hurt to have a lot of objects (or tables) in the way especially if the person in question is pissed off at you. It just means there’s more crap they have to navigate through in order to injure you. This also means not deliberately trying to set them off even more. You can tell when someone is mad. But you can also tell when someone is downright pissed. They start saying things they wouldn’t otherwise normally say. Their volume and tone reaches heights it wouldn’t normally reach. It’s not a cue to keep pressing their buttons. Its a cue to just stop.

Guest Casting on the Rawrcast

I mentioned Monday that I would be appearing as a guest on the Rawrcast.

Stomp asked me to help her out and solicit some questions from the readers here. I believe the topics will be on:

  • Dual specs

  • Mana regen
  • Ulduar
  • Anything else is fair game
  • Go to this post and flood her comments (or email) accordingly.

    I’m getting grilled tomorrow (Friday afternoon).