Case study: The Player Who Wanted More and the GM Who Couldn’t Care Less

Have you heard of the grass is greener concept? It’s a basic premise that there is something better elsewhere or on the other side of the fence.

When it comes to Warcraft, there are all sorts of guilds with different aims. You’re going to play alongside players with different goals. These goals aren’t static. People’s ambitions change. Sometimes life deals a curveball and the game has to take a back seat. The end result is the departure of a player.

One case I wanted to discuss is the departure of the player who wants more. I’m not going to delve too deeply on other reasons and there’s no hard feelings between myself and the player who left. I’m very liberal when it comes to stuff like that and I’ve learned long ago to not let people leaving bother me too much.

What it boils down to was that the player was ambitious. He wanted to do more and see what it was like in an a higher echelon guild. The environment in an extremely hardcore guild is obviously different compared to a simple raiding guild. He’s never been in a situation like that before and he told me he wanted to try it out.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I encourage everyone to try apping with or raiding with a top server guild at least once just to see what it’s like in that sort of setting. I believe everyone should experience it at least once.

What’s unfortunate is the way he did it:

  • Left in the middle of the raiding week – As a GM, given the choice between having a player take off midweek or depart at the end of the week after multiple attempts on hard mode, I’d rather they leave at the end of the week. It’s advantageous for both parties. That player still remains an asset to the guild until such time that another player can fill in and they don’t waste their lockout until the time is up.
  • Took an item – I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset about this one. I might have done the same thing if I were in their position. It’s incredibly bad form to take an item knowing that you’re planning on leaving if there’s another person in the guild who can also use it. But, we did award it to him because it was felt he deserved it after an increase in performance.
  • No advance notice – My only desire is he spoke to me first before leaving. Instead he opted to leave before consulting with any of the leadership about his attentions. I would’ve been happy for him to go and get the experience. In my view, there’s two things that can happen: Player leaves and raids with a higher end guild, discovers he enjoys the pressure and is able to sustain the high level of performance required or comes back after having his confidence shattered and realizing that high level of guild isn’t what he’s looking for.

How should a GM react in this case?

So this is where a bit of introspection comes into play.

Reactions are going to vary based on situation and individual. Why wasn’t I as upset as my officers? They were rightly pissed. I felt indifferent. He expressed interest in some gear which we awarded to him and took off with virtually no warning. I should have been super angry. Chairs should have been thrown against the wall. Headsets should have been smashed. Don’t get me wrong, I care about my players. I’m just not sure if any player warrants begging or groveling to return. Other GMs on my server would have pitched an absolute fit if a player deserted their ranks. I suppose I am just as mortal as others for not recognizing the signs and the symptoms.

I didn’t feel any shock nor did I feel anger.

But why?

The guild still has a some amount of depth. It may not be the most ideal, since I had to ask a Resto Druid to come in as Balance instead. It’s funny because on previous attempts on Heroic Icehowl, we were only 1 for 4 on dodging his tramples. It was disappointing. The other night we didn’t have any Hunters for de-enrage duty and we were able to pull off a 100% success rate on dodging the oversized Yeti Icehowl when he was trying to take us out. He was killed with 1 tank, 4 DPS and 3 healers down. Thankfully he enraged right after he crashed into a wall allowing everyone to pour a large amount of damage resulting in a kill.

As a sidenote, we were able to wax Heroic Jaraxxus after 9 or so attempts as well. Faction Champions was down after another grinder of 6+ wipes and reached Heroic twins.

I suspect my lack of emotion could be attributed to my inherent belief that everyone is expendable and replaceable (which is true to an extent). I do care about my players, but as a GM I also keep many people at arms length. Again, I wish I could explain why. It just feels like another day.

“Hey Matt, this player left today.”
“Alright, put the word out for that class. I’ll be in my ready room reviewing logs.”

On a side note, I’m looking for some additional ranged DPS and backup healers for our raids if there’s any free agents out there looking.

Two fantastic posts by new team additions Mimetir and Thespius earlier today. I’m putting the final touches on a post that addresses the idea and problem that Wrath is too easy and follow it up with a solution. Look for it as early as tomorrow.

Have a good weekend

Counterpoint: Wrath Saved WoW Raiding

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This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest and blogger of Healer By Nature.

With all of the talk going around that Wrath of the Lich King made things significantly easier and therefore "killed the game", I wanted to bring another perspective into the mix.  I believe that Wrath SAVED WoW.  Yes, that’s right, I said it.  I’m happier playing WoW now that the game has changed.

I will whole-heartedly agree that the difficulty level has dropped in the end-game content.  I was never around for Vanilla WoW, but my share of SSC/TK content and the little I saw of Black Temple was daunting.  My favorite fight to date?  Leotheras the Blind.  Getting 25 people to move away from his whirlwinds and not DPS until the tank reacquired aggro was one of the toughest things to do.  Having to force healers to DPS their own doppelgangers down was priceless.  A tank that wasn’t a druid, warrior, or paladin?  SO much fun.

By comparison: Toughest boss in Naxxramas? Heigan the Unclean.

(Pause for laughter)

I know, right?  Personally, I still don’t see the hard part about avoiding the lava waves, or helping to cleanse diseases. 

When I look back to the BC days, if I wanted to try to get a newly-minted 70 friend into raids with me, we had to run him through Karazhan, Gruul’s Lair, and Magtheridon’s Lair.  CONSTANTLY.  If I needed to take a break from WoW for a bit for work, school or family, I might as well /gquit.  I saw tons of people take holidays back in Karazhan.  When they saw the work needed to get up to SSC/TK levels, they ended up quitting altogether.  The condensing of difficulty into smaller bite-sized pieces makes the process of "catching up" a lot less daunting, thereby reassuring players that it’s OKAY if life gets in the way at times.

With "gearing up" a breeze, guilds can actually afford the "selectiveness" with which to form their raid team.  Elite raiding guilds in BC ideally had one requirement: gear.  If you had the right gear to enter SSC, you were good to go.  We were all compartmentalized by our gear.  It was as if we all came with little tags on us that said "put me here."  On my server, those with the correct gear were in short supply.  In those situations, you have to disqualify other pre-requisites such as team-oriented, ability to adapt, or the skill to actually play your class.  Few guilds back then (in my experience) rarely looked at your actual personality.  They looked at your contribution to the overall DPS, instead of your contribution to the actual raiding core.  "No amount of gear can upgrade a poor personality," I always like to say.

Now, if a friend, family member or co-worker just hit 80 and you want to bring them along in your 10man ToC team, it doesn’t take too long to get them up to speed.  Vault of Archavon, Onyxia, Heroic Dailies, Triumph Emblems are all viable (and quick) ways to get your selected raider up to speed.  Instead of dealing with geared raiders that don’t listen or cooperate, now you can get people you trust geared quickly to join you.  Thus, you make your team THAT much better than you would’ve been able to back in BC. 

The 10man vs. 25man debate comes into question as well.  I’ve heard the argument that making content accessible to 10mans has made the content too easy, since it’s supposed to be accomplished by less people.  This is true.  10 people would have a hard time clearing content only designed for 25.  Follow my logic:

  • In BC, getting a bonafide 25man raid together was tough. Coordinating 10mans in WotLK is much easier.
  • More guilds get the chance to see, experience and progress the 10man content.
  • 10man content is not drastically different than 25man.\
  • If you need to look for someone to fill in for an absent raider in your 25man, you’ve now got a bigger pool of available people who know the fights.
  • From this bigger pool, you can be more selective (like how I brought it all together?) of who you bring along. 

This transition into WotLK made it that much easier for you to form your raid team, even from your own realm.

And last, but not least, WotLK has made it more interesting for off-raid nights.  The guild I raid with runs 3 nights each week.  We primarily do 25mans but will do 10man content on occasion for hard mode experience.  On the off-nights, we can do other 10man content, "The Daily", even slightly lower content for Conquest Emblems.  Maybe a raider needs that vendor ring to replace his/her ilevel 200 one.  Instead of waiting for the next full raid night, you can be proactive in getting your other raiders up to par.

Overall, I believe WotLK has helped WoW’s raiding base.  Utilizing hard modes and bosses like Algalon, it provides a tough challenge for the hardcore raiders.  For the casuals or the "hardcore casuals" (as I like to call myself), it affords us the experience and ability to sub in or even start our own group of like-minded individuals who pay their $15/month just like everyone else.  Getting ready to raid is no longer an arduous process.  Less time focused on gearing, and more time focused on actual raiding.

Social Study: The Wrath Effect Part 2

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This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

We broke off looking at the Wrath Effect last time for a chance to let the ringing die from our ears and to gather our thoughts. Thank you to the many of you who shared your opinions – and latterly, posts – both here and over at Larisa’s and Tobold’s blogs last week – all very interesting reads. Last week we left off pondering whether some of the content was worthy of existence in the World.

Of course there is a point in the content existing. For everyone who drops out of an Archavon kill there is someone else who’d like to be there, experiencing the content, maybe even for the first time. That may seem difficult to believe, though. WoW’s accessibility has created an illusion which some players subscribe to: an illusion that almost everyone is a hardened and seasoned player now. It masks the fact that everyone plays differently, for different reasons and has differing amounts of experience. I believe that the WoW community has become less tightly knit over the past few months and there is a gulf growing between player groups of different experience levels. This week I’d like to look at the effect that WoW has upon players.

I think it’s important to remember that the game isn’t as easy as we might believe. Hard modes have been introduced to provide serious raiders with more challenge and incentive to keep playing, though as many people pointed out last week those Hard modes are not necessarily engaging to all. Meanwhile, PUGs – love them or hate them – have enjoyed a renaissance in Wrath, to the extent that many players PUG any and all raids. Some of them can be difficult to PUG. Think of Onyxia 25. The tactics mostly remain the same to the classic encounter but have been tweaked enough to keep some more experienced players on their toes for now, and the encounter can be a monster to come to anew. Now factor in a group of 25 people who mostly don’t know each other. So why, for the love of epics, is there always someone in the group who says "lol this is easy no tactics goooooooooooog"?

I think that the very fact that people are happy to PUG these raids is having an effect on guilds. Many guilds have a high turnover of players; perhaps some guilds find that raiders have less incentive to be loyal or reason to show up. Some smaller guilds which have existed for a while and are fairly stable may be having the time of their lives – they can access the content. Sure, they may need to collaborate with a similar guild to get raids going, but hey – they meet new friends. Life is good. Newer small guilds meanwhile may be having a problem getting a foothold on the server. Established guilds already have working relationships with other guilds set up and some players don’t feel the need to join any guild, let alone one treading water.

Players don’t feel the need to join any guild. A curious thought mentioned in the comments by several folks commenting on last week’s article. It got me thinking – is that why the high profile of the top guilds on my characters’ realms seems to have dropped off? I remember back in the day when the guilds were strong and the players proud, trade chat would be full of people who knew each other – chatting, sharing an in joke, rejoicing when a black sheep returned to WoW. There were tight community microcosms of different player types, and trade chat and guilds were windows through which to glimpse them. I don’t see so much of it these days. It seems that many of those players are either subdued, rarely on their mains, or have checked out of trade chat and WoW. It feels like the windows have been closed and boarded up, not so much as a breeze passing between different types of players on a realm.

Perhaps the question in many players’ minds is "how best to find a sense of worth in this content?" For many players that’s no hard question to answer. There is a plethora of content of which raid instances are a small part. A player might sneak off for some rare monster hunting or seasonal fun – or focus on mastering the cooking achievements. Easy or not, Wrath has a lot more choice that a player could immerse himself into than WoW ever has previously. I wonder how much of that content is really passed over by the average player. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about raids and their effect but WoW is an entity of many parts – something for everyone, perhaps.

Yet there is a darker answer to the question above. Sometimes the answer seems to be to cultivate a mindset of being in constant competition. If the competition against the content isn’t enough then it becomes a contest with all other players; especially strangers, whom are often met with the increase in PUGs, high turnover guilds or guild collaboration runs. DPS meters are used to measure this competition – they are always spammed, usually repeatedly, by the people at the first or second spot on the meter. I’ve often seen such players go on to publicly pick on players at the bottom of the DPS meter, sometimes carrying on for the rest of a lengthy raid.

These spamming players may be dealing with their own lack of confidence in the game – and perhaps what they feel is their reduced display of skill – by boastfully declaring themselves better than others. I find myself wondering where the fun of a game is for the player on either side of the DPS meter in that situation: there isn’t any for the bullied person at the bottom and – well, is there any fun had by the person at the top?

This is just one way the inter-tribal competition has seeped into player interaction. I often heard stories in Wrath’s early days of players badgering others in the street to tell them that their gear was rubbish – no provocation or reason behind it.

Another favourite seems to be to bluntly tell another player that they are a bad player based on half a Heroic without knowing anything about them as a player or a person. Occasionally dialogue will occur – accusations of rudeness perhaps – and an argument ensues. The conversation leaves both parties insulted and a bit less … human. This extends to real life, too; an older player I know was approached by a stranger and a heated discussion followed. Upon finding out that she was an older player the stranger said they hoped she would drop dead.

Players sometimes forget that behind that other character they are denouncing is another person whose pride in their independence, character and achievements may be diminished both in and out of game: everyone gets something different out of it. Yes, WoW is just a game, yet many people escape to it to have fun and are proud of their achievements in it. They don’t stop thinking and feeling, don’t stop being people, while playing a game – regardless of whether they are a casual or hardcore, or anywhere in between.

I think that this forgetfulness is a trope which has remained throughout Wrath and now players of many ilks find themselves less satisfied with both the content and the social experience because the lack of connection between game and player is projected into the community.

I’m not painting every player in the community with this dye; there are so many shades of grey that it would take a thesis to examine them all. Many players do still find the game fun. Groups of players still exist in solid groups, guilds, tribes; whatever you want to call them. Like-minded folk still find each other. It just seems more of a struggle to do so when you have to clamber through the mud of a bloodied battlefield.

What do you think? Remember that this is about the game as a whole – including all types of content.

How often are players eyeing each other up over a broken bottle neck? Do you find yourself with new friends or impatient while playing: is the foam at your mouth the only remnants of your Vanilla/TBC war paint? Have you come to the content anew –what do you think of the community you’ve found? How has the performance of your raiders, however experienced, changed? Has the mood changed in WoW at all?

Twitter WoW Developer Chat Feedback

I was honestly not impressed.

For those unaware, the developers were staging a livechat on Twitter where users would submit questions and the staff would pick and answer them. Many of the questions answered lacked any real punch. Answers to most of these could’ve been found on most major WoW news outlets or blogs, or even on the official World of Warcraft site.

The questions I found most interesting:

Q: With T10, are we going to see tokens like in Ulduar? or like CC? CC style had every class and spec rolling on same thing.

A: With T10 we’re going to see a hybrid. The tier 10 items (the ones with item levels you’d find in the 10-player raid) will be purchased with Emblems of Frost.
The tier 10.5 items (the ones with item levels you’d find in the 25-player raid) will be obtained by getting a token (one that is specific to 3 or 4 classes, much like the Ulduar tokens) and using it to upgrade the tier 10 item that was purchased with emblems of frost.

Q: Any plans for a gated system in IIC like in Coliseum that prevents us from doing hardmodes from day 1?

A: We do have a system that unlocks bosses similar to how we handled TOC and Sunwell. We are restricting hard modes to raid leaders that have defeated Arthas in regular mode.

I can see why Blizzard wanted to inject a bit of light humor into the dev chat with questions like these:

Q: When do hunters get to tame druids?

A: Right after druids get a hunter form.

Q: Can locks have a summonable flying mount now please?

A: Now? As in right this second? No.

But at the same time, I know they’re on the clock too. It’s a limited interview. I guess I was hoping we’d hear more new information that wasn’t already known.

All the same, I am happy that they’ve started to expand to Twitter and made a conscious effort to try and address some questions. Lots of serious fluff answers in there though which made me a bit sad as there were some genuinely good questions asked. I hope they’ve learned from this experience and make the next dev chat better all-around.

PUGs: The Magic Recruiter

YoungFrankenstein1

This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest and blogger of Healer By Nature.

We’ve all had moments and ventures with guilds that are struggling to get their membership up. I’ve 19-manned a couple bosses in Ulduar; I’ve accomplished the "Less is More" and "Dedicated Few" achievements only because we had no choice. Although there is something to be said about the pride that swells when you hear that magic "DING" sound and seeing your newly-minted bragging rights displayed, it’s hard to go into a raid night after night with low numbers. As people have stated in a variety of mediums, there are many resources out there to help build up your team. The recruiting forums, various websites, etc. all have ways of finding what you want. However, think maybe about a resource that few people ever tap because of how much we’ve grown to hate it.

Yes, I’m talking about the PUG. *shudder* *cue horse outburst and lightning from "Young Frankenstein"*

We’ve all been there. Remember? Guildless–finding your place in this crazy MMO. I joined because of my brother (and I curse him every day for it). He was already locked into a guild that wouldn’t accept friends and family, or alts, so playing with him was a no-go. Even his alt guild wasn’t accepting new people. I was forced to solo pretty much everything, until I started getting quests for Zul’Furrak. It was the hurdle that I needed to pass to get enough experience to get the next level so I would feel comfortable moving on.

In general chat, I saw a hunter named Frostyman looking for people to do ZF with him. I joined up.  Things went wrong, wipes ensued, repairs bills went up.  Despite all that, I had fun.  The tank we had showed and explained to me about kill orders, asked me to chain-fear (this new idea to me called "crowd control") a mob, and when to DPS.  They were helping me.  This was awesome. 

"Hey, Thespius, are you looking for a guild?"

"Umm… sure?"

-Thespius has joined "Sword Through the Horde"-

I found myself surrounded by people JUST like that.  If I had a question, they could point me in the right direction.  Another warlock helped me with my spec.  If I wanted to do something off the beaten path, there was always someone up for joining me.

Since then, I became…well…hooked.  I started researching more about my class, more about raiding, about PvP, whatever I could get my hands on.  I wanted to get better, and I wanted to feel part of the Team. 

My philosophy about my playstyle is entirely based off of that first encounter in ZF.  We’re all here because we enjoy playing this game.  It provides an escape, an adventure, a different world than we’re normally used to.  Yes, I even try to implement this philosophy when it comes to PUGs. *thunder/lightning*

I’m well aware of the initial global trepidation when it comes to PUGs. *thunder/lighting* Sometimes it’s plagued with ego and infected with fail.  A tank that chain pulls without the dps/healers at the ready.  DPS that have delusions of being the tank.  Healers that wand the boss while the tank is on empty.  Here, however, is where you can turn this all into your favor.

First, make a suggestion in a calm tone about how adjusting the strategy could vastly improve the result.  This is designed to see if the person is willing to listen or not.  If they’re not willing to listen, then you just hold on and hope you reach that Orb at the end with your sanity intact. If they are willing to listen, then keep your tone informative and supportive:

"Hey X, you’re doing a good job doing Y.  If you don’t mind, could you do Z so we can all ABC?"

This is much more warm and helpful than:

"Dude WTF!!  Put up CURSE OF ELEMENTS R-TARD!@!@!!@"

In most cases, you’ve just earned a spot on their ignore list by responding with the latter.  It’s easy to lose your cool, but it’s even easier to prevent your raid membership or guild membership from growing exponentially.  A lot of players I know want a friendly environment to raid in.  In my opinion, there can really only be a minority of players that like to be brow-beaten into success.

Fundamentally, you want the PUG *lighting/thunder* player to feel included and part of the process.  Here’s a couple tips to facilitate that:

  • If you’re doing chain heroics, ask if there’s anything in particular they’d like to run.
  • If in a raid and explaining a boss fight, ask if there’s anything they’d like to add.  If they don’t know the fight, make sure you take your time explaining and making sure they understand.
  • When it comes to loot, make sure they feel comfortable with rolling on something they need.
  • Be open to the idea of letting them roll for Abyss Crystals or other enchanting mats from unused gear.  They’re a part of the team and deserve as much of the reward as everyone else.

In a good portion of cases, you may find that this player has never been treated so fairly before.  Maybe they’re unhappy with their old guild and are looking for a place with like-minded people.  Instead of torturing them to get better, you’re nurturing them to get better.  What you’ve just done is encouraged somebody to want to play this game better. 

What happens next?  Just keep doing the same thing.  Maintain a fun supportive environment, keep inviting that person along when you have the room.  As long as you and your group/raid feels comfortable, start treating that person like an applicant/guildie, without saying, "Come with us and we’ll give you 1, 2, and 3."  Bribery only attracts the gear-hungry guild-hoppers. 

I know the counter-argument to this: "But then everyone knows we’re giving stuff away!" Maybe, but by giving yourself the reputation of being open and equal, you can build a big base of people to choose from.  People you know are there to do well, have a good time, and who won’t take advantage of your kindness and generosity.  It affords you the ability to exclude those bad apples that are detrimental to raids and guilds worldwide.

This method, of course, isn’t a guaranteed 100% recruitment outcome, but it can definitely increase your chances.  You can find and cultivate some pretty amazing raiders this way.  Not to mention it ups your status as a "great guild to run with".  All while simply doing dungeons or raids, which is what we PvE’ers love to do anyways.

By the way…. PUG!  *thunder/lightning/horse*

PTR Live stream (Over)

I’m on the PTR right now and I just joined a pug.

You can see me in action if you like. My first time using this. So we’ll see how it goes. Might do more in the future.

Update: Switched to Ustream. Is this any better?
Update 2: Festerbutt finished testing. Going to do a random heroic 5 man.
Update 3: So that went well. Going to stick to Ustream and Manycam from now on. Slightly higher FPS was what I heard. Will be back tomorrow for Gunship battle before my raid.
Free TV : Ustream

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

It Came From the PUG: A Resto Shaman Story

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For those of you who are new to here as readers or are just tunning in, I have an addiction to PUGs. I think they are a fun and amazing animal to play with. It came from the PUG is my column where when something interesting happens when pugging, I can share it with you.

With the Tier 9 content requiring  badges for all gear, I find myself trying to do the heroic daily every day. My normal Modus operandi is to log back into the game around 2 am EST and hit trade chat / LFG and find a group that needs a healer. I’ve been doing this for weeks no problem. Log in, pop in LFG usually no more then 4 minutes go by before I’m scooped up and on my way to the instance of the day.

Thursday though something odd happened. Something that hasn’t happened to me in a long long time. I’m talking beginning of BC long time. I log in, 1:45 am EST. I pop into LFG add a comment about being Tier 9 geared. The daily is Heroic Culling. Easy mode for me, I never have to stop to drink I can roll Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave pretty much the entire time and then go home with some badges. After about 15 minutes I notice no one’s sent any invites out and that I haven’t recieved tells. I just think that maybe there’s a ton more healers on tonight pugging then normal. So I hop into trade chat.

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

I don’t spam trade but I make sure it’s seen. After another 10 minutes of no response I see someone asking in trade chat for a healer for CoS. I wait to see if a second request goes out and after a few minutes don’t see any so I figure someone got scooped up quickly. So I toss into trade again

“T9 Resto Shaman LFG Heroic CoS pst”

No more than 2 minutes go by before I see the same person send out a request in trade for healers for CoS. I think to myself well this is silly I’ll just send them a tell and we’ll be off in no time. Still plenty of time before the reset at this point.

“Hey, I’ll come heal for you guys.”

I get no response. After a few minutes I send them

“If you found another healer it’s cool. “

Then I see in trade chat again the same person asking for healers for CoS. WTF!? Does this person have me on ignore? Maybe the tells are just getting lost in the sea of trade chat spam? I don’t know so I send him another tell.

“Hey, I see you keep posting in trade you’re looking for a healer for the daily. I’m willing and ready to go. Are you not receiving my tells?”

This time I get a response;

“no, I’m getting them. Just don’t want you healing.”

I scratch my head at this one a bit. What the hell did I do to this guy?

“I’m sorry that’s a rather ominous satement. Did I do something to offend you or something?”

At this point I’m not mad, I’m just ridiculously curious why.

“you’re a Shaman, you can’t heal a heroic.”

The reply was very matter of fact and that’s all I got.

“You can’t be serious. Really it’s because I’m a Shaman?”

“yeap, sorry.”

So, complete B.S. reason right? Maybe. Maybe this person had a really bad run in with an enhancement shaman who said “OH HI I’LL HEAL YOU” but didn’t actually spec into Resto or use any spell gear. Either way I had a good chuckle about it and I responded with the only thing I think I could at the time.

“Dude, I’m so blogging about this! Make sure you stop by and see it! www.worldofmatticus.com, Good luck and have a good night =D”.

At this point the daily was changing over, so I decided to call it a night without getting my two badges. Just goes to show you, sometimes you don’t even have to get it IN the group before something interesting happens.

So, how about you guys? Anything fun to report from any PUGs?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Podcast Appearances

Here’s a quick summary of my recent podcast appearances.

Lodur and I were featured on WoW Relief (Part 1 and part 2)

I spoke with Tristan from the Elitists. There was a part in here where my mom randomly barges into the room and asks if I want blueberry juice and begins making all these weird noises. Sigh mom. I think Tristan cut the part out (for which I’m grateful).

I appeared on Episode 112 of the WoW Insider show. Mike put me on the spot with this one. “We didn’t talk about healing the last time you were on so go ahead Matt, talk about healing!” Had to really think on my feet about that one.

Upcoming appearances

Will be sitting with the Twisted Nether crew for a round table discussion. It’ll be done live with a chatroom and all that. That will be this Friday on the 23rd.

What I Want Raiders to Know

This post was inspired by a post I saw on Chris Brogan’s blog. I figured it’d encompass most important raiding aspects nicely.

Do your raiders believe they know all that? I listened in on a pickup group the other day for an Onyxia 25 and it was utterly amazing how lost some people appeared to look. All sense of discipline was lost. It was as if they had just turned 80 and started raiding again. These are bonafide raiders. I suppose to be fair they were on alts of a different class or role.

Once again, let’s get back to the basics.

Raid leaders

  • Know the gimmicks of the fight
  • Be quick and effective when explaining (Don’t drone on)
  • Marking kill and CC targets
  • Delegating someone to handle healing and tanking assignments or doing it themselves
  • Knowing what the “weakest link” is during an encounter and how to resolve it

Tanks

  • Every possible method they have to generate large amounts of threat
  • Opportunistic times for their own survival cooldowns
  • Ideal tanking position on bosses
  • Spotting loose mobs and grabbing a hold of them

DPS

  • Recognizing when their threat is too high and way to slow it up
  • The best times to use their damage cooldowns
  • Avoiding the dangerous crap on the ground
  • How to survive as long as possible in the event they are unable to escape
  • Maintaining CC on targets when necessary
  • How to buff mid combat on players who are brought back alive

Healers

  • Knowing how to move and heal
  • When to use defensive cooldowns
  • Managing their mana
  • Knowing when tank healers are unable to heal and going in without asking
  • Knowing where the tank is and keeping up with them

What other basics would you expect your raiders to know?

Social Study: The Wrath Effect Part 1

betweentbc-and-wotlk

This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

Here’s a dangerous statement: Wrath of the Lich King (Wrath) made World of Warcraft/Crack/Crass(WoW) too easy.

It’s one you’ve heard before, of course. But have you thought about the impact that had on players?

WoW’s player base is numerous enough to man a small empire complete with its own inter-tribal competitions, family feuds and military factions. So to bandy such a statement about – even to whisper it – is enough to have it echo around the becrooked spires and bounce between yon bloodied hillsides and have warcries ululated in its wake. Yet many people have said something akin to that statement since Wrath hit our beloved World. Surely there must be some truth to it? Surely, too, players must have been affected by such a shift in play – but how?

One of Blizzard’s biggest goals with Wrath was to make raid content more accessible to players who wanted to raid in The Burning Crusade (TBC) but didn’t have the time to invest or guild to support them. Wrath meant the TBC days of needing to be in a large, battle-honed raiding guild whose Z raiding team were armed to the dyed and pointed teeth, were gone. WotLK was one giant step towards not only ensuring that everyone saw at least some of the insides of raids but felt the sense of achievement as they progressed through them at whatever pace. This was likely a result of a continuous background hum, developing into an angry buzz, from would-be raiders during TBC’s raid progression lifespan. The longer TBC went on the more spectacular the content was; The Battle for Mount Hyjal and Sunwell Plateau were things of beauty, but would-be raiders had increasingly slim chances of seeing such places.

The level of the bar was certainly changed in Wrath. I think there is enough evidence to say that some players felt the unstated rules of WoW had been re-written overnight using pictures sketched with crayons. Other players felt that the rules were crystal clear for the first time. They were now understandable and applicable to them, not just to the few players on their realm who had reputations of being armed to the dyed and pointed teeth. The idea that Wrath’s content was generally accessible to all quickly took root in the WoW community’s shared consciousness.

This idea didn’t automatically mean that all players knew how to approach the now accessible content or what sort of challenge they faced at the beginning of Wrath. I saw a lot of players encounter the new raids; all armed with a new spec, new stats and uncertain expectations. Many players were perhaps unused to being in this position. Perhaps they didn’t understand their spec yet, perhaps the new stats hadn’t sunk in. Perhaps they weren’t used to thinking about raiding and the very idea of conquering them was a seductive yet terrifying high. What I believe Wrath did mean was a sudden internal crisis of confidence throughout the WoW community: the content bar may have been lowered but the pride and competition bars were raised.

Less experienced players could suddenly take part in the same fights as the legendary players of their realm. They may even have felt pressured to do so because players was scoffing at how easy the content was. They might wonder what was wrong with them as a player if they couldn’t do it or couldn’t get to grips with the changes to game mechanics: changed mechanics yes, but apparently such easy mechanics that Dalaran was dead quiet two weeks into Wrath because half the realm had run out of things to do and had retreated behind an army of previously abandoned alts.

Take Heroics as an example: they are considerably easier in Wrath than they were in TBC. The fact that you had to grind reputation in order to get into Heroics in TBC meant they could be a reward in themselves. Many of them had some challenge to them – I for one never finished Durnholde Heroic. Not only was there was a sense of achievement on completing some of them but it was acceptable for a group to be torn apart by wild dogs, because there usually were groups of wild dogs so battle hardened that groups needed to fight them individually and hope for the best. Wrath’s batch of Heroics are quite the opposite: easy and quick, many experienced players find no thrill or challenge in them. A melee player who doesn’t know to get out of poison nova in Heroic GunDrak will probably die and be given short shift for it. Likewise I’ve often seen tanks who kite Xevozz incorrectly in Violet Hold be met with "omg dont u no to kite nub".

Firstly I’d like to know where this monster called "nub" which they want kited resides, and secondly I’d really wish players would remember that not everyone has done all the content and learnt all the tactics already. A quick check to make sure everyone knows a dungeon or is comfortable to ask and answer questions in a friendly manner will go a long way to building trust in a group. It may only take 20 minutes to run the Heroic but a helped player will know what to do for next time, and will feel secure in their ability to give it a go.

My guess is that the experienced raiders have and had their own pressures when Wrath appeared. They had honed their skills and proudly won their rewards – taken down so many difficult challenges during TBC – and now the content is, to their standards, laughable. This may have had a variety of effects on them, including making both them and their past achievements feel depleted. Even achieving completion of the new content and getting the grips with the new mechanics seems trivial. Their reason for raiding was diminished – content was already bested, loot was sometimes not worth farming. The level of teamwork required in TBC raids? Not needed in large chunks of Wrath. Just bring brute force. Naxxramas now floats lonely as a cloud over yon hills, full of drops no experienced raider needs and many didn’t need at the start of Wrath, as a reminder of how abandoned some raiders feel. Players drop out before we get to Archavon every time I run VoA. The unspoken question in these players’ heads is likely "is there any point in this content still existing when no-one needs the loot?"

…and that’s it for this week. Next week we’ll continue in this vein by looking at the extent of Wrath’s effects as a deep rooted problem affecting players’ attitudes and interactions. What do you think so far? How easy is WoW these days, and how do you feel about it? How did you feel about it when Wrath first arrived? Do you think WoW needs to be easier, more difficult or just be given a chance to stabilise? Did *you* finish Durnholde Heroic in TBC?