The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

The other day I had the good fortune of talking with our friends over at Wow relief and our conversation got me thinking about something.
Some of us have been around for a long long time in this game. We’ve lived through PTRs and Betas and now two expansion with a third on the way. We’ve seen many things change and many things come and go, and things that were promised to us never come to be. I got to thinking what I would love to see added to the game for my class. The answer actually comes from the Wrath of The Lich King beta.

Back in Beta, restoration shaman had a rather interesting 51 point tallent to play around with. It was unique and new and fresh and odd and I loved it.

Spell_Shaman_SpiritLinkSpirit Link (Rank 1): You link the friendly target with two nearby targets, causing 50% of the damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. After 2200 damage, the link will sever.

This little baby was awesome in my eyes. The concept behind it and the possible strategic uses of it, especially considering the health pools of both Druid tanks and Death Knights  intrigued me. It wasn’t your normal everyday spell. As a healer we’re used to playing healing triage as well as Cast X spell get Y result + / – a little. This you know the values but you can effectively use this to shift some raid damage around. Alas this was not meant to be and it was replaced by Riptide, which is a very good spell, but doesn’t lend itself to the same sort of mysterious awe that Spirit Link gave me. With cataclysm coming back I’d love to see this come back as a mastery spell or some such. It was a fantastic concept that I’m sad to say got left on the cutting room floor.

So, with that I turn it over to you our readers. Anything you want to see desperately added to the game? Why? Did you find something in a Beta or PTR that you wish would have made it to the live servers?

That’s all for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Sig

Pass the Parcel: When Raiders Won’t Roll

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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.

Loot.

Shiny items of [insert rainbow colour here] pot of gold goodness.

Many players actively strive to better their equipment and make that their main goal in the game. Better, stronger, faster, more purple pixels than before, able and willing to go forth and vanquish something corrupt for the good of Azeroth. Go on, admit it – we all want loot: if we didn’t, our characters would still be pattering around in recruit’s regalia and would be prone to splattering over the scenery as soon as they looked at an end game raid. Better gear is a must not only for those players who actively raid but also for the other people they raid with in order to aid smooth group progression. But what about the people who just… don’t go for loot?

Say a guild decides that they are ready for Trial of the Grand Crusader and choose to invite one of their regular and generally competent raid healers.

Call him Homer.

The catch is that Homer’s in Naxx25 kit and the Trial is, well, at Grand Crusader level. Homer struggles and there are a fair few deaths and extra strains being put on other raid members to keep the group alive. There is limited success and the road to progression is rocky; the guild is increasingly beset by much wailing and gnashing of hooves. These are effects which would quickly avalanche into morale killers and unnecessary wipes – and, the longer they continue, similar cracks may start appearing in the guild.

You might think that Homer would have better gear considering he is a good healer and turns up for raids regularly. Is he contending against 9 other clothies for his loot? I’d hope not unless their lock is an astonishingly good kiter. Has he been on runs plagued with plate drops? Not at all, he’s seen useable loot every week for the past six and counting. He just never rolls on loot. He’s been known to pass gear with twice as much spell power than his own in favour of the druid tank’s off off spec.

Twice.

Players like Homer are not as rare as you might think: I have seen many different players pass on loot which seems a boon giftwrapped for them from the loot gods.

What goes through a player like Homer’s mind? Perhaps one of the following:

I don’t need it as much as X does, give it to him. This reason is quite acceptable if it’s not a regular occurance. The player may just be a nice person – it’s sweet for players to occasionally pass loot for other team members and can bond the group together. But if a player regularly passes in favour of giving loot to others it may cause frustration and have other, deeper reasons behind it…

I have equal stats to [equivalent class] so I must be just as good without new loot. This reason can be somewhat deceptive and is the by product of a lack in knowledge of game mechanics and an over or underactive confidence. The player may truly believe what he’s saying, in which case nodding and smiling at him is probably the best initial reaction. On the other hand it may mean that the player doesn’t believe this at all and is trying to mask the fact that he’s hopelessly confused.

I use custom / old stat weightings and that item doesn’t fit. Not many items seem to. Stats are understood in different ways by different people – some people have trouble getting their head around them at all. Some players get a grip on stats and then hold on to that understanding for all time, even though stats change over time. These approaches are fine and can be addressed gently, starting with the basics – not everyone needs or wants to know the mathematics in depth.

I don’t understand loot and you’re waiting for a decision from me so give it to someone else already. Some players have never got a grip on loot at all. They may think that there is a complex maze of mathematics and stats behind understanding loot and be terrified of entering it. Alternatively they may not want to ask for help in case people think they are stupid. Whatever the case, these players may get easily irritated when attention is drawn to them during loot rolls.

I don’t have any interest in progressing this character but I’m relied upon to be here with this character. If this is the case the player will show no interest in anything to do with the run – gear progression, instance progression, tactic progression. They may become bitter and, gradually, an unreliable raider in more than the loot sense. They may also spoil for fights; in this situation regularly passing on loot would just be an indication that this player needs a break.

There are probably many other reasons but those are the main ones I’ve heard players use. All of these responses can lead to an uncomfortable atmosphere in the passing player’s group – just look at the effects Homer has on his guild’s progression run. Progression requires every member of the group to be of an equal standard in their role in order that the group knows they can trust and rely on one another. Homer’s loot behavior may inspire bitterness and futility in his healer teammates, for example; the longer it goes on the more uncertain they are whether they will have to keep an eye on picking up Homer’s role.

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A player who is in this situation regarding loot is also likely to be feeling uncomfortable himself. Whatever his reason for passing on loot regularly, Homer is likely to be aware that it is creating tension. He may also feel cornered and not know how or whom to talk to about it: he has, to his mind, a good reason for passing on loot but his group members’ teeth are wearing into dust and their hooves getting chipped. He may realize that on some level he is letting the group down. This may lead to a drop in his performance and skill level, and potentially to a voluntary or forced drop from the raid team.

A player’s reason for constantly passing, whatever it may be, is their reason – not an excuse. It should not be ridiculed or dismissed out of hand by anyone in the group, including themselves. Neither should a blind eye be turned to this behavior if it is causing tension in the group. I think it should be brought into the open and discussed in a supportive manner, either as a team if everyone is comfortable to do so, or one to one between the player and either an officer or someone who is close to the player, who is comfortable being a mediator. Most of the reasons listed above are easily addressed – the second, third and fourth could all be eased through a variety of methods. The player might be directed to theorycrafting sites such as Elitist Jerks to read around their class in order to nourish or update their understanding of it. They might be encouraged to start playing with sites such as Lootrank, Warcrafter or download Rawr. Class group discussions and workshops could be run within the guild. Hell, a few patient players in the guild might take it upon themselves to run a few more relaxed instances with Homer to have him learn more about his class or become more used to loot rolling in a less stressful environment.

The fourth and fifth reasons listed above are the most worrying ones for a guild. Those are the ones which most quickly lead to a player feeling like they are being forced to do something they don’t want to, and becoming alienated from the guild. The player knows he is relied upon and this fact becomes a burden. He becomes more stressed and disinterested with varying reactions depending on his personality: the progression path gets rockier for everyone on it.

In my opinion it is crucial to watch out for raiders repeatedly passing on loot. I’d say that from a raid leader’s perspective it’s important to open those lines of dialogue with a Homer-like player and get an idea of his mindset and what should, if anything, be done about it: Obviously as a raid leader you don’t want to be stuck with a player whose loot behaviour holds the rest of the group back and causes cracks to appear.

Of course, depending on your agreed loot set up, as a raid leader you could simply give loot you consider beneficial to the player even if he passes on it, but that may cause its own problems. Will the player feel even more cornered and forced to do something they don’t want to? Probably. Will they and other group members loose or gain respect for you and the loot system and will it cause more cracks or cement over old ones? Probably the former. Do you, in fact, know better than the player himself?

So if you know someone who regularly passes on loot – or are someone in that situation – get talking about it. There’s no shame in not understanding something and the mechanics of WoW are too vast and perhaps fluid to be nailed down in one in one brain at any one time. Whether you’re Homer or Homer’s group member you may just learn something about another class or person and become a closer, better, faster – more purple – group for it.

I’d be interested to hear what you think, too – be you the uncomfortable Homer, the gnashing group member, the exasperated raid leader/officer – or you’ve seen it before, from afar, and pondered on the subject. Do you think loot passing is something which happens often? Something which is a taboo subject, especially in raiding guilds? Something which shouldn’t happen if the guild or group is set up correctly? How do you think this kind of loot behaviour should be addressed – with sidelining or discussion and support?

Pit of Saron PTR Preview

There’s going to be a few spoilers in here folks, so click away if you don’t want to see anything.

Remember those spinning axes from the days of Black Temple?

Yeah?

Well they remember you too.

And guess what?

They’re back!

Anyway, I partied up with Alex and Matthew from wow.com along with Tristan, from the Elitists podcast. Had to use a pre-made for this since there’s a bug where players who have done the Argent Tournament questline aren’t able to see instance portals.

On a side note, there are no Dwarf Priest premades. What the heck is up with that?

Doing a writeup of my initial impressions healing the place. Will edit this post and put a link to it when it’s available. Edit: Post is up! Here’s a few teaser shots for the time being.

WoWScrnShot_100309_165831 WoWScrnShot_100309_165939 WoWScrnShot_100309_165252

Matticus on the Starting Zone

Here’s a recent podcast appearance by yours truly. I joined Jesse and Mick on their podcast called the Starting Zone to discuss a few things about Priests. The podcast is specifically catered towards new players. In this show, I discussed what leveling Priests should know about such as spell usage and stats to shoot for. Comparisons of healing styles between Holy and Discipline are made and then simplified. Some basic Priest PvP tips are offered. What about items such as staves vs main and off hands? I give my personal preference there. Lastly, we exhaust what little knowledge I know of for Shadow Priests in a record amount of time.

In any case, a real pleasure recording with these guys. I have to admit, this is probably one of the better sounding podcasts I’ve been a part of. These two have that great radio DJ type voice which exude nothing but confidence and quality.

Here’s the link

Officers and Alts and Raiding Oh My!

Officers and Alts and Raiding Oh My!

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So very recently one of our Officers has been bringing his alt to our raids, not just farm content but our progression nights. This was obviously given the go ahead by raid leadership but it did stir up interest in a few raiders asking what was going on. As a standing rule my guild has never really taken alts on main raids. Normally alts are left to the alt raids on the weekends. We have in the past however asked very well geared alts along to fill gaps in our raid make up. So after taking care of a few guildies concerns, I figured it was something post worthy.
There seems to be a large concern about officers abusing their power to take their alts on main raids and get loot that would otherwise go to mains, or using their positions to get main raiders / toons to take their alts through content to gear up. While I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, because I’m sure it does, but I don’t think it happens as much as people think. Most time I see guild officers gearing up their alts to be able to pitch hit in a raid if need be. I’ll use my guild as an example. Most of the officers there have well geared alts, it breaks down something like this

GM DK tank main – Well geared Rogue alt

DKP officer/hunter class lead – Well geared Warlock alt

DKP officer/Warlock class lead – Well geared Unholy DK

Recruitment officer Dps DK – Well geared Paladin alt

Raid officer/Shaman class lead – Medium geared DK tank / low to medium gear Hunter

I put myself on the list because I am actively seeking to bring my hunter up to the well geared level of things. Other officers have other alts and such but you get the idea. The intent behind our gearing is something to help our raid and groups out. Let’s say our guild is doing two ToC 10 man runs, normally we have 6-7 raiding healers available. You don’t need 7 for two ToC groups. Let’s say one group is short a tank, my goal would be to be able to hop on my alt and fill that role so the group doesn’t fail to start. Another example and one that we’ve been using. We’ve been a little short on the melee front this past week. As a result the warlock class lead hopped on his Unholy DK for this weeks raids. It provided the same spell buff his warlock did to the raid but gave us the melee we needed for our encounter. It was useful to be able to pull someone’s well geared alt to fill the gap and keep the raid moving.

It should be noted that this isn’t required and that the vast majority of the time we spend gearing our alts up are through pugging instances and farming badges. That said it’s already proven useful a few times.

How to Handle Loot Priority:

So something that is key is to set up a loot priority for any guild raid even if it’s not a main raid. Our weekend alt runs we use a loot priority to keep things going smoothly.

Main spec > Off spec  // Main toon > Alt

Pretty straight forward  right? This has also encouraged more then a few people to bring their main toons to these alt runs as they are normally instances we don’t run anymore or alternate versions of what we are running (my guild is a 25 man focused guild so we do 10 man / alt 10 man runs on weekends) Everyone has fun and anyone can bring their alt along if they want, as long as we get a group composition we need.

Having well geared alts in a guild raid environment is a very useful tool that an be called upon when needed. It seems most people’s apprehension is when they see officer alts pop up in a main raid, I suppose I can understand that. If you’re in a situation that you feel like the officers or some officers in particular are taking advantage of the system, say something just like my raiders did to me.

Now, with all that said, this doesn’t just pertain to officers, but as the questions and concerns was about officers taking advantage of the system to bring in their alts to gear up that’s where we kind of hovered around. Raider alts can be just as helpful and there have been occasions when we asked a raider to bring in their alt. Sometimes this has even lead to them wanting to switch their mains for both their enjoyment and the good of the raid.

So, what do you think about alts getting geared up to raid? Do you have an alt army ready to take down Icecrown? Ever bring an alt to a main raid at the leaders request?

That’s it for today, until next timESig