Bill Roper Interview! (with update!)

Bill Roper Interview! (with update!)

BillRoper

So for those of you who may not know yet, I’m now co-hosting a weekly podcast called For The Lore. We dive into the stories behind games and what makes them good or bad, as well as share our work with our listeners.

Today however at 6:45pm est we have a special guest, Today’s guest is THE Bill Roper.

If you don’t know who he is, for shame, but here’s a wiki link anyways.

Bill Roper

The man is listed as number 41 in the top 100 game producers / designers of all time. He is part of the team that brought us everything from Blackthorne all the way up to Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne.
So if you want to hear us chat it up with bill, stop by our ustream to listen live.

For The Lore Ustream

Hope to see you all there!

*edit*
The show and interview went flawlessly, thanks for everyone who showed up to hang with us! If you didn’t get a chance to join us the episode should be up for free on itunes either wed or thursday. Bill hung around for the ENTIRE show and it was truly awesome to just hang with one of the greats in the video game industry. Feel free to download our episodes and leave some raiting love. I will warn you we do take some liberties with language so it might be NSFW or kids, but you should have a good time.

Thanks again!

Sig

Healer DPS: The Good, The Bad, The Unfair

Healer DPS: The Good, The Bad, The Unfair

good-bad-ugly1

The boss looms before you.  Psh!  Boss?  More like pansy!  You’ve worked on this guy for a whileand are just not yet on farm status.  You look at your raid frames and see that everyone seems to be taking minimal damage.  The tank is taking slight damage, but it’s nothing like the early days of learning Patchwerk.  Your mana bar is moderately full, everyone seems to have everything under control.  Your finger hovers over Smite/Lightning Bolt/Wrath/Holy Shock.

You start pressing.

In a very broad sense, this makes my skin crawl.  The hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  My ears start to bleed and my eyes start to fog over.  Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it certainly ignites a chain reaction.  Basically, a little bit of my soul dies.

The Good

There’s always a reason to need some extra DPS from the healers.  I usually only do this at the request of the raid leader.  He/She (He, in my case) is running the show.  I try to keep cycling Shadow Word: Pain on the boss when I can.  As Holy, I can use my Surge of Light proc to throw a quick Smite here or there. 

When working on Heartbreaker, I usually expect to stop healing, pop cooldowns, and Smite until that heart is dead.  Unless the raid is overgeared for the encounter, this is usually how I’ve seen it done.

Any fight that has a small “add” (Loatheb Spore, for example), it’s not detrimental to help the dps down it quick.  It usually requires minimal mana, and can help get the benefit to the raid quicker. 

If you’re running up against any kind of enrage timer, there may be a point when a little nudge from you could make the difference. 

Notice that I said, “a little nudge”.  The emphasis is on the word “nudge”.

 

The Bad

There’s a point when it becomes excessive.  If you find yourself DPSing to a point where you’re making a significant effort to damage the boss, then that’swhere I start to have issue with it.  I’ve seen it happen a number of times.  Thankfully, I’ve only seen this happen in PUGs.  I would really have a tough time in a guild where I continually heal alongside that kind of “healer”.

If you’re paired with someone else to heal a target or many targets, your shift into DPS mode then places responsibility of your original healing job solely on the other healer.  I have little faith that most “DPS Healers” will keep an eye on their original assignment if they choose to DPS instead.  Imagine carrying a TV up a flight of stairs with someone else.  Maybe they could feasibly handle it alone, but it makes it easier if you’re there to help out.

If you’re expending all that mana to do maybe a third of what the other DPS classes are doing, what are you going to do if something unforeseen happens and you have to go into overdrive healing mode?  Someone accidentally gets caught in a cleave, or another healer gets bombarded by too many of the wrong orb on Twins.  We all know accidents happen.  A raid’s strength is measured by it’s adaptability.  If you’re not capable of helping out when it’s needed most, then you’re not doing your job.

In my eyes, you’re running the risk of being disrespectful to the other healers in your raid.

The Unfair

Let’s say that you get through the encounter okay. Let’s say everyone’s alive at the end.  A key healing piece drops that everyone has been vying for.  You roll/bid on it?  In my opinion: No.  You just spent a majority of the fight DPSing the boss while the other healers did the healing work, right?  Why should we reward a player who didn’t do what they were supposed to do?  It’s like giving a raise to the guy in the office who sits on his computer checking Facebook all day. 

If you find yourself in raids consistently where your healing is not needed, then let a DPS class go in and take your place.  You’re essentially taking the raid spot of a player who can do what you want to do, but he/she can do it better.  If you’re determined to keep along your path, then re-spec/re-gear/re-gem into a DPS spec.  Healing has times of being slow.  It’s the nature of the beast.  If you’d much rather snipe some damage instead of heal, then guess what?  You’re not a healer.  You’re a DPS.  And as a DPS, you’re not specced or geared right.

Some fights may require more healers than others.  Dual spec is a fantastic thing.  Make your off-spec a solid DPS spec, complete with proper gear.  When you know a fight’s coming up where your heals aren’t needed, recommend to the raid leader that you switch into your DPS gear.  If you find yourself in your DPS spec more than your healing spec, it’s time to consider changing your “main spec”.  I would be significantly upset if someone was getting healing gear over me, although they DPS’d more than they healed.  Would you give awesome tanking gear (an upgrade for the main tank) to the 2nd off-tank who only tanks for 1-2 fights each night?

Is “Healer DPS” taboo?  Yes.  Why?  Because in the eyes of this Discipline Priest, you shouldn’t do it unless the raid leader calls for it.  Remember, raiding is a team sport.  Maybe you need to take a step back and figure out which part of the team you really want to be on.

ThespiusSig

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

Want a Free Guest Post?

You bloggers work hard. Wouldn’t you like a day off from all the thinking and the writing? Here’s your chance. I am willing to write you one guest post on any topic of your choice. All you have to do is give me a topic (yes, any topic you like), an approximate word count, and an email address to send to (Blog URL helps too so I can link it back here when I’m done). I’m going to cap it at the first 20 requests or so I get either via comments or contacts.

What’s the catch?

Absolutely nothing.

Why am I doing it?

Guys, I’m in a rut. It’s like hitting the accelerator and feeling the wheels spin but the car is staying the same. You’re only getting yourself deeper in snow and not moving. This isn’t writers block mind you. That’s like running out of gas and a busted engine block. What I’m hoping to get out of this is that a guest post for someone else might spark something else for me later on down the road.

So say you? Are you willing to help me by letting me help you?

A Happy Healing Thanksgiving

A Happy Healing Thanksgiving

thankful4u

Perhaps not everyone observes Thanksgiving as an actual holiday.  That’s perfectly fine.  It’s still a great reason to stuff your face, watch some football, and be thankful for the things you have around you!

As I sit in my office (people still have to know the traffic), I’m inclined to be thankful for a lot of things.  The usual:  I’m happy I have a job, my health, my happiness, and a roof over my head.

However, I’m going to take one extra moment to be thankful for why I’m here writing this.  Yes, I’m thankful that my brother introduced me to this game 3 years ago.  I’m thankful that it has become a part of my life. 

In its integration, this game has introduced me to a wealth of great people.  Some have come and gone, but others are here to stay.  Some I leveled with, others I’ve met since my attainment of the top level of this game.  I’ve raided with these people, PvP’d with these people, cursed and praised the game with these people.

I’m thankful for the people I’ve found upon my joining the Twitter community.  Without my introduction to Twitter, I never would’ve transferred to Khadgar, where I first started learning about the expansive blogging community we have.  I never would’ve started reading World of Matticus.  I’m thankful that the passion I found within this community has expanded my own passions.  I’m thankful that this path eventually introduced me to Lodur and Matticus, which led me to find such a great raiding guild to be a part of, Unpossible. 

Finally, I’m greatful for the support and warmth that this community provides.  We all come from different walks of life, and we can all come together to share our passion of this game.  We can disagree at times, but that’s what makes it so great.  Where we go from here…

Let’s kick Arthas’s ass!

Happy Holidays from your friend neighborhood Thespius.

ThespiusSig

Case Study: Anub 10H vs Holy Paladin

anubcowerglow

This is a guest post by a Ophelie, a new Holy Paladin who has recently joined Conquest. Check out her blog: The Bossy Pally.

So Monday night, I was formally introduced to Anub 10 man on hard mode and was lucky enough to get his number. Matticus suggested I write about my impressions so that others may be amused, and by amused I mean informed, about how one heals this fight for the first time as a holy paladin. I prefer writing stories to strategies, but for all you practical people, I’ll have a list of things learned the hard way at the end.

Now, had I been clever that night, I would have taken advantage of the pre-fight confusion of “we have to cut down one healer and bring in a dps” to do some last minute reading on differences between the regular and hard mode Anub. Of course, I didn’t think of that until after the fight and I had full confidence in my ability to follow instructions: something about a first ice patch, then running south, then more about ice patches and about not playing hero… Yep, watch what everyone else is doing and copy them, got it.

(Read: Save yourself some confusion and always do your raid homework before trying a new fight.)

Once we were set up, we buffed, I put up frost resistance aura and we pulled.

First phase?

Cake. Beacon on the pulling tank in case he gets out of range during positioning? Check
Nestle myself happily under Anub’s rear end? Check.

I try not to think too much about Anub’s rear end because, you know, not pleasant. Flash of Light (little heal), Holy Light (big heal) heal to taste. Adds spawn, but not my problem. With beacon on my side, I wasn’t worried. It did seem like the adds were zoning in on me though. Hmm. Maybe I should remove Righteous Fury (damage reduction, but threat boost)?.

Second phase?

I breathe a bit while Anub goes underground and plays tag with the raid. Pop Divine Plea? Sure, why not. There’s not much to heal so I might as well regen some mana. I judge some of the many little adds that spawn. Hey, I gotta do my share like everyone else! Suddenly, DBM flashes on my screen, “Anub’Arak is chasing YOU!”

Ooooooo kiting time! …Wait. Why can’t I run? I look down at my feet. I’m on an ice patch. I can barely move. Uh oh.

Tag, I’m it. I was dead before I saw what hit me.

Raid leader: It’s a wipe.
Person X: What went wrong?
Me: My bad, I was standing on an ice patch.
Person Y: Don’t stand on ice patches.
Me thinking: You must be one of those who wait until people fall down to say “it’s slippery”. (Matt’s edit: So true)
Person Z: You should be able to use Hand of Freedom to get off of ice patches.
Me: Good to know.

We run back and try again.

First phase?

Cake.

Second phase?

Same as above until Anub is after me again. This time, I was ready! I run north, he gets stuck, I don’t wipe us. I’m a pro now! I feel rather proud of myself and take a few seconds to secretly gloat.

Third phase hit before I knew it.

Things got real fun, real fast. As one tank dealt with giant bugs and the other with the boss, Anub smacked his lips and started leaching our health. Quick! Bubble, Divine Sacrifice! Let’s slow down the damage as much as possible. I had beacon on the adds tank and was healing the main tank.

Flash of Light, Flash of Li- no! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light, OMG!

Oh, look the rogue is going to die. Holy Shock the rogue.

There’s nothing like a swift instant heal saving you when things get scary. Oh no, the tank! Holy Light! Oh man that was close. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

Oh, look, I’m going to die.

Holy Shock myself.

Eeek, the tank! Holy Light! That was close! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

I’m going to die again but I can’t risk losing the tank. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy L- interrupted, I die.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who died: Anub’s lifeless carapace slumped next to me as I hit the ground. Ha! I was overcome by satisfaction, knowing I could get a rez and Anub would have to wait until Tuesday’s reset to run back from the boss graveyard.

So little paladin, what did you learn?

  • Make sure one paladin has frost resistance aura up. The penetrating cold debuff gets nasty towards the end.
  • Your Righteous Fury can help the off tank pick up adds, but check with the tank first.
  • During phase 2, don’t stand on ice patches (ha!) and as much as possible, position yourself so that there’s always an ice patch between you and him.
  • Hand of Freedom should be able help you or someone else in a pinch.
  • Mana shouldn’t be a problem before phase 3, but play it safe and use phase 2 for Divine Plea.
  • If there are other paladins in the raid, coordinate your use of Divine Sacrifice at
  • the beginning of phase 3 so you can stretch out damage reduction as long as possible.
  • On phase 3, you have to trust your raid healer, beacon one tank and spam Holy Light on the other. If your tanks are geared, you can get away with the occasional Holy Shock, but it’s risky.
  • Keep Judgement on Light up on the boss, preferably for the whole fight, but especially on phase 3. Either do it yourself or make sure another paladin in the raid is doing it.
  • If you run out of mana before Anub dies, it’s game over. Don’t run out of mana. Start phase 3 at full, use mana potions, lay on hands, anything, but don’t run out of mana.
  • After the fight, /hug your raid healer because he’s probably sweating buckets.

Oh, and since no epic boss kill tale ends without some sort of cooing over loot, I won Heartcrusher from the Tribute Chest, Crusader’s Glory for my tanking set and a trophy (yeah, I know, I’m spoiled). How I choose gems and enchants for my new gear is epic tale for another day.

The Gearing Process to ToC 10 for a Priest

This is a guest post by Aleph, who chronicled his early end game gearing process.

Upon levelling my priest to level 80 and looking at joining my guild’s raid team as a healer, I found that I hit a barrier where I simply had no means of gaining any new gear that would get me up to Naxx10 level and therefore enter the raiding circuit as it were.

Before I continue I should make a few things clear.

I play in seasons. I play from June/July to September, then break until December and play until early January, taking a break until Easter time where I play for most of April. This makes it take amazingly long for me to achieve almost anything in WoW.

So, brand new level 80! How to begin?

Develop a routine

Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is start developing a daily circuit. The length of your circuit (and therefore the amount of dailies involved) depends on your playtime per day. I had a very limited playtime and so I found it was easier to focus on one zone at a time. I started with Icecrown and the Knights of the Ebon Blade faction. I began at the Shadow Vault and gathered up the daily quests available there. I completed these and flew down to the quest hub at the Overlook which is on the cliff just east of the Scarlet Onslaught Harbor. I Completed all three of the dailies there, then flew to the Skybreaker and collected the daily quests there (I omitted the pvp quest because it took me too long to complete it). What people miss sometimes are the two quests on the ground. Upon completion of these quests you can either head over to the Argent Tournament or return to the Shadow Vault depending on the amount of play time you have left. You should repeat this until you have enough reputation to purchase some of the items from the Ebon Blade Quatermaster then move on to another faction.

Build up reputation

Make sure to go around and buy a tabard from the four factions you can get a rep tabard from, Kirin Tor, The Wyrmrest Accord, Knights of the Ebon Blade and The Argent Crusade. While doing your Daily rounds, go to the LFG interface and chose from the level 80 dungeons. These are: “Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme”; “Trial of the Champion” (this gives excellent loot); “The Nexus: Oculus”; “Ulduar: Halls of Lightning”; “Utgarde Keep: Utgarde Pinnacle”. Run at least one of these a day with your tabard for the faction you’re working on reputation for until you no longer need reputation with that faction. Then switch to another tabard and start the process again.

Do homework

While doing this, ask around for the generally accepted stats for your class/role for heroics are for your realm. On my realm it was around 1.5k spell power for a holy priest. It is possible that disc priests (or other classes) may have an easier time healing the easier heroics thanks to the damage mitigation. Luckily I had the dual spec and had shadow as my secondary spec. Some of my guild mates offered to take me to Violet Hold Heroic mode as a DPS. I accepted and got a lot of reputation and even a few healing items. If you get a chance to join onto a heroic as your off-spec, go for it; don’t worry about being a fifth wheel.

Buy gear

Once you’ve done a few days worth of daily quests and have built up a decent buffer of gold, visit the auction house and look for any BoE Epics or Rares that you can buy. If you are unsure about what items to buy, ask your friends or guild mates. I bought two items, one epic and one rare item, these allowed me to begin running heroics.

Farm for badges

By now you should be almost ready to start doing heroics. This is where our tactic changes. You’ll want to set your hearthstone to one of the inns in Dalaran as this will be your new base of operations. If you haven’t been doing so already, you should start picking up the normal daily dungeon quest. Each day, log in at Dalaran and go to the Violet Hold where you will find two daily quest givers. On your left as you enter is where the normal dungeon daily quest can be found and on your right are the heroic versions. We’ll be turning right and collecting the normal daily quest for now. Once you have the daily quest put yourself in the LFG for the level 80 dungeons, making sure you’re queuing for the one the quest is located in! Then go out of Dalaran and continue with your daily quest circuit until you get into a group for a dungeon. Go to the dungeon then at the end, hearthstone (or take a mage portal) back to Dalaran and hand in the quest. It is important that you hand in the daily dungeon quest before the daily quests reset. The idea here is to gain as many badges of heroism and triumph as possible in the shortest time. As you may know, Badges of Heroism drop from bosses in heroic dungeons and Badges of Triumph are gained (at this point) from handing in the daily dungeon heroic. With this in mind, it is advisable to (If possible) try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Otherwise continue with your other dailies.

Once you have collected enough gear from these activities and think you will perform well enough in heroic mode dungeons, join the LFG queue for Utgarde Keep (Heroic mode).The heroic dungeons are in a separate list to the normal dungeons. Go on the Utgarde Keep run and see how well you perform. If you think it is necessary, ask the other group members how they think you performed. If you did well, start joining some more difficult heroics. Look up which are the easiest and do those first. Then, as you get more gear, advance up the heroics. By the time you can do heroics like Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and Oculus, you should be looking at entry level Naxxramas, depending on the gear you have accumulated. If you haven’t, don’t worry. By now, you should have collected quite a few Emblems of Conquest and perhaps some Emblems of triumph from the heroic daily quest. These can be spent in Dalaran in the Horde and Alliance sections of the city. Each badge type has its own vendor. Look at the vendors and look for items which would benefit you the most. Work out what you should buy first (always go for the item that will give the biggest increase) and buy it. After a couple of days, perhaps weeks, depending on how many heroics a day you run. If it is possible, try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Also, don’t forget to get the heroic and normal daily quests each day because you can complete the normal quests while in heroic mode as well.

A good measure for when you are Naxx ready is when you have over half of the superior achievement completed. That means getting at least eight i187 items or better before setting foot in Naxx. Some PUG Naxxramas groups might require you to have the entire superior (and even sometimes the epic version as well) but for guild runs, get a guildy to /inspect you to check out your gear. They will generally say whether you are undergeared or not in comparison with the rest of the guild. Just make sure you let the raid leader know that you are now available for raiding and they should factor you into the next run or two. At this stage, you will probably be under a trial period, in which make sure to put 110% effort into the raids so that the raid management see you as a player who benefits the entire raid and not someone who is a liability.

Get your feet wet

This part is one where it is almost required to be in a guild. If you want to get up to ToC 10 level, you will want to be making regular forays into Naxxramas 10. So, once you’re in your guild run, clearing the quarters, gathering up loot left and right, how do you improve and get to the next level of content (Ulduar10)? Well, the best way to get to the next level is for your guild to get to the next level of content. At this point it is inadvisable to join any PUG raids as you will want to be fully focused on guild progression. If you think your guild is not moving fast enough, offer to take more responsibility in raids, work on tactics that work specifically for your guild, offer to set up the healing assignments or, even offer to set up another night of raiding for the guild (make sure you have the green light from above before doing this). This post is not about progression however. Once your guild has cleared the four quarters and has made decent attempts on the last two bosses, you should be able to begin Ulduar 10 raids, depending on your raid team’s gear/ability. Also look for any Obsidian Sanctum 10 or Eye of Eternity 10 raids as the two instances offer some nice items which can help a lot in Ulduar10.

I would recommend that, once your guild is in Ulduar 10 and has cleared a few bosses that you join a Naxxramas 25 pickup group in order to gain a few items that will help you to advance in Ulduar. Guilds seem to advance fairly steadily through Ulduar, provided that their gear is adequate for the level of content and also that they have the drive to progress. Progression will be faster with a group of dedicated, intelligent people who generally know what they’re doing. If you are hoping to find guides to the bosses here, you can find Ulduar healing ones and Trial of the Crusader ones.

If your guild has really got stuck into Ulduar10 and have arrived at Yogg-Saron, I would recommend attempting to take him down before moving on to the next raid. You don’t have to, but it’s a great fight in the way that all of the players must be on top form and concentrating 100% for the entire fight. So! Once you have successfully cleared Ulduar, chances are you have already attempted the newly refurbished Onyxia’s lair. You will get some nice gear upgrades from here, mainly the helm, but once this has been done, you are pretty much out of content before ToC10. This is where you have two options.

  1. Go on to ToC10 and give it a try.
  2. Return to Ulduar and gear up some more.

I would recommend you give ToC a try unless you’re woefully unconfident with your gear level. This is where we utilize one of the great tools of the internet.

What’s the next step?

You don’t have to follow this next step if you disagree or disapprove of this practice. I am talking about LootRank. There are a few sites out there that offer this service but I use Guildox for it. Mainly because if you are not familiar with the parameters you want, you can pick one of their sample templates which fills out the information based on the class/spec combo you use. You can also link your characters gear to it which helps by highlighting any items you already have. Once you press view loot ranking, a list will appear which has a section for each slot (and enchantments) which are ranked from 1 -7 in the order they appear. A good idea is going over to WoW Head and using the item comparison page to double check if the items are for you. This way you can make sure you’ll get what you need. You can check where the gear drops so for example I see that the top staff for me would be the Icecore Staff. I can see that it drops from Hodir in Ulduar10 H. It is important that you see the H as the staff only drops if you defeat Hodir before he shatters his rare cache. It is advisable to use this tool as you look to enter ToC10.

After several raids at this content level, you should be more than ready to have a valid attempt at ToC10. However, perhaps your guild has not been gearing up as zealously as you have and do not want to go into ToC 10. While they will most likely leap at it, if they do not, you may want to look around your server to see if any other guilds are running it and see if they have a space for you on their next raid. If that fails, you could always attempt to PUG it, although this may not be very successful. The best plan, I think is to help your guildies to gear up quickly by giving any hints or tips you might have learned on your journey to ToC10. Patience is a key requirement for this stage. Please keep in mind that most guilds will charge into ToC10 before even defeating Yogg-Saron and so the last paragraphs or two are completely useless.

Now you should be ready for ToC 10 man! Good luck and happy raiding!

Bubbles and Crits, part 2: What the Hell Took you so Long?

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Way back on September 15 I posted ‘Bubble and Crits: 3.0 to 3.2’.  In that post, I examined the development of Holy Paladins from the release of Wrath up to the much-feared Great Illumination Nerf of 2009 (i.e. Patch 3.2), and looked at how the changes to mana regeneration across the board in that patch ‘encouraged’ Holy Paladins to go from a Holy/Ret Crit-based spec into a Holy/Prot spec that focused on mitigation through Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.  I concluded that the Illumination nerf didn’t hurt these so-called ‘Bubble Spec’ Paladins that badly after all, and vowed to follow up with a look at how ‘Critadins’ were holding up in the mana department.

Obviously, it never happened.

While you shouldn’t accept flimsy excuses (and I try not to offer them), allow me a moment to explain. Just after the article posted my guild headed back into Ulduar, with me planning on firing up the old reliable 51/0/20 spec and seeing for myself how my mana pool held up.  Would I be soaking up Innervates, sucking down Mana pots and leaving my partner stuck on a limb? Would we need a third healer just for me to get by?  I was a little worried, but thought it would be a good experiment. Off we went.

After clearing Flame Leviathan we rode down the hall straight to Deconstructor – ‘Crybaby’, as we call him. The trash was dispatched with no trouble, my mana was fine so far, and we began setting up. As I watched Crybaby doing his calisthenics, two words popped into my head:  Tympanic Tantrum.  I looked at the raid. I looked at Crybaby. I thought about the potential time wasted and gold spent on repairs if we wiped, and thought about how much damage Divine Sacrifice can absorb.

And I swapped into the Bubble Spec.

When we got to Kologarn I thought about how I was likely to get Eyebeamed at the same time my partner would get gripped (it’s happened before). ‘Hmm, that’s a great situation for bubble-sac’ thought I, and I stayed in the Bubble Spec. Hodir?  Frozen Blows, nuff said.  Mimiron – well, Divine Sacrifice seems like it was made with Mimiron in mind. In short, for every situation we were heading into, I found a reason to stay in my Bubble Spec.

My inner Critadin never got off the bench.

A promise is a promise, however, and I aimed to deliver something to Matticus. My next step was to post a new thread at Plus Heal asking for feedback from holdout Critadins. Unfortunately, most of the responses came from Bubble Boys talking about how much they loved the spec, so that turned into a dead end as well. This was getting tougher by the minute, but I pushed on.

I tried to pore over World of Log reports for other guilds to see how Critadins were doing, but that proved a bit too tedious – I have my limits, after all. I finally succumbed to a variation of the latest scourge to hit the world of the World of Warcraft – gear score.

I’m not a big fan of gear score, to be honest, but I thought it might work for me to some degree. I believed that checking the proportion of Critadins to Bubble Boys at the highest levels would give me an idea of how the spec was faring – after all, if the Crit spec fails, nobody would be using it, right?  So I checked the Holy Paladin list for my realm at WoW-Heroes and ran down the top 50 and checked their specs (I could have kept going, but my eyes started to bleed). 

The results were pretty interesting. 

Of the top 50 on my realm (based on gear score as supplied by WoW Heroes), we had 25 Critadins, 23 Bubble Boys, and 2 You Really Heal With That Spec? types (69 points in Holy? Really? But they must be doing something right, they’ve got better gear than me). 

Further food for thought

In the top 25, Bubbles led the way, 14-10.

Positions 26-50 saw Critadins outpace Bubbles 15-9.

The top 4 spots were split evenly between Bubbles and Crits.

What does it mean? Well, it means that Holy Paladins really are in a good place right now.  We’ve got not one, but two viable healing specs that can be used. Bubble Boys may bring a bit more utility to the raid, but there’s still a place for the Critadin, even in Hard Modes.  The giant-sized crits can keep up with the hardest-hitting bosses, and we have enough mana management tools available to keep from running dry.  It’s enough to make me think about hitting that ‘Activate These Talents’ button again…..

Next up from me – an evaluation of the changes Cataclysm brought to Paladins. Due six months after WoW 5.0 is released…

Monday Night Insights

It’s late where I’m at right now. The clock just turned 10 PM. So what’s been going on lately?

The blog

One of the suggestions made in my recent reader survey was to update my blog links on the side as many of them have called it quits or have been (presumably) abandoned. I couldn’t agree more. It was about time for a changing of the guard anyway. I like to deliberately keep the list limited (under 20 or so) so that it maintains some degree of exclusiveness. That, and I find blogrolls with 30+ links difficult to go through as I never know where to start first so I figured a small selection is the way to go.

Miss MedicinaShe was dumped recently. Maybe a link here will cheer her up. You’ll recognize her as the source of the original healing questionnaire.

Shields Up – We came close to losing drug. Great Resto Shaman posts and is no slouch when it comes to tracking down addons to try out. For some reason, my spam filters like to flag his comments as spam (I’m sure it has something to do with his name, heh).

Divine Aegis – The tag team of Lilitharien, Lyriel, and Oestrus have been hard at work here for a while. They’re currently on a brief hiatus (I hope).

Restokin – A product of Lissanna which as you can tell by the name centers around Druids of the deciduous type (I think that’s the one where foliage is shed, except these trees don’t really shed). Some space turkey action is rotated into the mix. Has some great stuff planned, too.

Bossy Pally – Another recent addition, Ophelie not only made it onto the list, she’s been a welcome addition into the guild. Appears to be suffering from a bout of insecurity and nervousness though. I don’t know why. She’s held her own in heroic mode 25s after barely a week of being invited into the guild and came through when needed most in a heroic Anub 10 (which was two shot after). That’s way better than me as it took me about six shots to get down on my first time. I’m still hoping she gets my hint and cook up a guest post for display here. But then, maybe you guys can help with that.

What kind of blogs are on the blog roll?

Active – When you visit, you’ll generally find new content. It’s updated fairly frequently. I’ve been lax about it lately, but in the past I’ve always removed blogs from the list that aren’t updated or the blogger has gone MIA.

Recommended – These are blogs that come straight from my personal reader. That means I’ve read them myself and that I personally vouch for them.

Value – You’ll get something for your money’s worth when you read it. These blogs tend to offer some insight and wisdom. At the very least, the posts will make you think.

Sorry guys, bribery doesn’t work.

The raid

We were lacking some muscle tonight and the decision was made to not engage Faction Champions on heroic. Instead, we split into two 10 man groups for hard modes and finish up the raids that were started last week. We’re at the point now where we can successfully field two full groups for hard mode and clear them within a reasonable amount of time. Faction Champions continues to routinely thwart us, but every week, new lessons are learned and adjustments are made.

We’ll typically use three healers on most of the fights for the sake of raid stability and increased success. Dropping down to two healers is necessary for Faction Champs and Anub’arak as the extra DPS is a requirement. Unfortunately, with three main healers who do not have secondary specs that can be switched to, it becomes a problem when deciding who sits.

For example, on Anub’arak:

  • Resto Shaman
  • Holy Paladin
  • Holy or Disc Priest with Val’anyr

Keep in mind, the Resto Shaman is the only Shaman in the raid. In this case, the superior combination of the two would be Resto Shaman and Holy Paladin. Having a Heroism and Holy Light bombs with Divine Sacrifice is a formula for success. Granted, I didn’t need any gear anyway and I had a heck of a hard time as Discipline healing in there (by the way, case study of Anub 10 heroic to come up this week). The Shaman (joined last Thursday) and the Paladin (Ophelie’s blog is linked up there) were new healers in to the guild. I’ll admit, I was worried that sending two new healers into one of the hardest healing fights in the game wouldn’t work.

I’ve never been more delighted to be wrong.

The two of them cleaned it out in two shots.

The guild

It’s about the time of year when things slightly slow down for the holidays and such. Some effort was made to pick up extra players in anticipation and I’m glad to see it has worked out quite nicely.

How has our healing corps changed?

healers-year-ago

 healers-now

I hope I counted that correctly. Knowing me and my counting ability, I’m off by 1 somewhere.

5 total Priests (Technically it’s 4.5 since he doubles as shadow)
2 total Druids
4 total Shamans
4 total Paladins

In a year, we’ve more than doubled the amount healers in the guild. My greatest worry has been finding ways to keep them occupied and busy doing stuff. So far it seems as though they’ve been doing a great job of staying busy on their own. Inactive healers are players who’ve had to take a brief break from the game due to stuff happening in their lives.

For the new players, it’s nearly the same story. They join the raid and and get a few upgrades. Then we do hard modes and one of our top 7 healers has to step aside as something has come up. We insert the new guys in, and they continue to impress.

On a side note, I need to work on my bar graphs.

Trying to be a good host

Sometimes I forget what it’s like to be a new player in a foreign guild. Just transferred over and don’t know anyone, right? Want to make a good impression? Believe me, the same thing works the other way around. I remain conscious of the fact that these people paid money to get their character over here and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Another thing is to integrate them in with the rest of the corps. They’re new and they’re not accustomed to the Matt way of doing things. Sometimes I’ll have less than a raid to get them familiar with the system. Players making the jump from guild environments that aren’t as disciplined to one where every cooldown is meticulously timed and serves a purpose can be a shocking experience.

New players are like new hockey goalie equipment.

They’ll feel a bit uncomfortable and it takes some time to break them in.

The best way to do that is to put them through constant use and continue adjusting as necessary. Either they disintegrate under pressure or they’ll hold up and withstand the toughest of shots.

What is the system?

After a couple of raids, most people manage to pick up the highlights of how things are done fairly quickly.

  • Immediate feedback: Doing something wrong? We’ll tell you what and how to fix it.
  • Goals: If you have a specific job or purpose, we’ll tell you. It can come at any time such as before encounters or during encounters (if the attempt is about to take a nose dive).
  • Mission critical information: At the same time, there are certain things we need to know during the middle of the fight. Sometimes we can’t find the visual warnings or we want to confirm. If a cooldown is available, and it’s asked for, players are encouraged to snap a yes response. Silence usually means no. Speak freely if what’s on your mind will contribute to the success of the raid.
  • Mistakes are allowed: Feel free to screw up. It happens. We learn best by watching and experiencing failure so that we know what not to do in the future. It’s not like we’ll dock DKP or anything. But show evidence that you’re at least learning from your mistakes by not repeating them. I can’t remember the last time I’ve switched a player out for dying in fires 5+ times. We are clearly too lenient.

Geeze it’s almost 1 AM. Time to log some hours on Modern Warfare 2.

A Prescription for Raid Morale

A Prescription for Raid Morale

medicine

Raiding can always be stressful.  Although the content has been called “too easy”, some of us still struggle with certain encounters.  We’ve cut our teeth on Normal Modes, and make the step up to the Heroic.  Haunting are the nights of banging our heads against Icehowl cause one raid member is just a little slow on getting out of the way.  We shake our heads in disgrace because a DPS class is too used to “being carried” when we try Yogg+Anything.  Raid nights get called early, curses ensue, and it’s just not a pretty sight.

Whether it’s in raid or out of raid, I firmly believe it’s essential to insert breaks and morale boosters.  And by breaks, I don’t mean “Take 5 for bio and beer.”  I mean something active.  A couple examples:

In-Raid

Trivia Games

Kalheim, a feisty paladin in my guild, holds trivia games during downtimes in the raid.  While waiting for invites to go out or waiting for that last member to come back from an AFK or bio break, he puts up topic-centered questions for us to compete for the fastest answer.  These quizzes will encompass a variety of topics, usually gaming-based.  He pulls out Classic WoW Lore, the names of BC Boss spells, Super Mario trivia, and even gaming company trivia.

You can reward your raiders with anything you want.  A gem, some gold, free flask/food, whatever you want.  The key is simply to make the questions challenging but not impossible.  A topic or genre you and your guild talk about often; you can include everyone.

The Whipping Boy

First off, this is pretty much a voluntary position.  In no way do you want to ostracize one of your raiders who cannot take the brunt of it.  In our guild, this whipping post has a name, and that name is Zabos.  He’s an incredibly likeable guy, but he’s really easy to tease.  He can take it, because as a player, he’s really good at what he does.  He’s one of our officers, and talks a lot of smack, so the guild will lay it on pretty thick.  The guild has built up a tradition (before my arrival) of /gkick’ing Zabos out of the guild when a new boss goes down.  It adds an extra level of fun to progression and cohesiveness of a guild.  The phrase “Shut up Zabos!” gets passed around a lot.  It just makes me laugh.

Random, Off-the-wall “Attempt

This should explain itself.  After a long night of progression, you need a break.  Something to make you laugh or wake you up.  We specifically have a Morale Officer in our guild, Shenweh, who is responsible for making sure everyone is in good spirits.  When things are getting tense or tired, it’s her job to create little fun events like this:

Out of Raid

Actual Alt Dungeons

I have several alts at a variety of levels, and I have some real life friends that all stick together.  They play super casually–usually only once each week, if at all.  Although I have two 80s, their level 45 character is their highest.  The other night, we managed to get all five of us on together to do a run of Uldaman.  There was no run-through, there was no level 80 to accompany us.  Because the healer and our hunter were lower than the rest of us, we really had a chance to take advantage of crowd control and focus-firing.  Since they’re all new to the game, it was a great chance for me to be able to show them a fragment of what makes this game so great for me.  I hope that at some point they may be able to step into a weekend/off-night raid with me.  Here, I lay the groundwork. =)

If you have friends that are trying to learn the game, take the time to actually play it with them.  I know how much that means to both people.  It also gives you a little break, and a little time to relax.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

In my opinion, always have at least one person you know well to go on this adventure with.  Arenas can sometimes be a great way to get out some frustration (if they go well).  If you turn off the Battleground Chat in a Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, they can actually be pretty fun with a group of your friends.

Achievements/Holidays

Blizzard has given us this interesting little outlet to occupy our time when we’re not raiding.  Even little mindless ones involving pets or an Azeroth raid can be entertaining enough to ease your mind.  See if any of your guildmates have never seen AQ40 (I just had my first encounter before writing this).  If there’s a slew that have never been inside, show them around!  Especially if you’re in a leadership position, this shows your raiders that you’re invested in how much everyone’s enjoying the game.  Gotten all the achievements you want/need? Then just tag along for your friends’ benefit.  Share funny stories.  Reminisce about things that happened in those old raids.

———-

You can decide to do these on raid nights or outside of your standard schedule.  Think of it this way.  Although this game as fun, you want to avoid having progression start to kill your soul after a while.

What sort of things do you do in order to keep your raid’s morale high?  What do you do, as a player, to detox in-game?

ThespiusSig

Warning: Jade Tiger Pet a Scam

If you get this in your email, don’t follow through on it. These fakes are getting better and better.

Note: You can usually tell by the “To” field. This one wasn’t sent to my registered WoW email address.