Oculus Gets a Facelift

Oculus Gets a Facelift

OCULUS

Image credited to Blizzard Entertainment

Since the days of Burning Crusade, we’ve seen the rise of the Heroic.  Five brave heroes banding together to take on our favorite dungeons, but the foes are much more formidable.  The badges/emblems, the epic loot, the reputation, the Nether/Orb, and the Heroic Daily.  These have become staples of our WoW community.

My personal favorite?  In BC, I loved Shadow Labs.  People whined about it taking too long, but I loved it.  In WotLK, it’s hard to choose a favorite.  Nexus, Utgarde Pinnacle, and Halls of Lightning certainly rank among my favorites.

However, as a WoW player from any walk of life, you’ve probably been a part of this conversation:

“Hey, does anyone wanna do the daily?”

“Sure, I’ll go!  I still need emblems for my heirloom piece.”

“Yeah, me too!”

“Has anyone checked what the daily is?”

“Lemme check.”

(Pause for dramatic effect)

“Oculus.”

“….F*** that.”

“Yeah, forget it.”

Oculus is the second dungeon in Coldarra, the subregion in northwest Borean Tundra.  There it sits, laughing at all of us.  It touts itself as the most hated heroic we’ve ever set foot in.  Even Heroic Shattered Halls was manageable once you got geared enough.

Trouble usually comes from coordination and orientation.  Being the first 5-man to introduce flying mounts, I’m grateful that I can’t lose my driver’s license by the horrible flying I do in Oculus.  And trying to get a PUG, or even a late-night group of post-raid guildies, into a focused mindset to handle the rotation needed to down Eregos is a chore unto itself.

Combined with a slew of other issues we’ve all come to hate, Oculus has become the least-run Heroic in the game.  People loathe it.  Forums and blogs feed the hatred.  I have yet to complete Proof of Demise, simply because I can’t stomach the thought of doing Oculus.  Even in my guild last night, I heard someone say, “I’ll run any Heroic but Oculus.”

A Brand New Day

Thankfully, Patch 3.3 is going to bring us some treats to ease our anger.  It was just announced in the patch notes that Oculus is getting nerfed.  **Pause for roaring applause**

  • Many bosses and creatures have had their total health reduced.
  • Several bosses and creatures have had cooldowns on specific abilities increased, effect durations reduced, and damage on some of these abilities reduced.
  • Ring-Lord Conjurers and Sorceresses now hang out in packs of 4 instead of packs of 5.
  • Vehicle scaling on the drakes based on the rider’s item level has been increased to make them more powerful.

Perhaps Blizzard has finally noticed the dust collecting below the portal of this monstrosity.

Oculus was by no means impossible, but it definitely was a bit too challenging for its level.  Especially now with the Emblem grind going full force, this shift puts Oculus into the mix of “Chain Heroics”.

I’m looking forward to trying out the new Oculus to see if I can heal through it without wanting to pull my hair out.  I also look forward to trying my hand at some fancy achievements that I never got to try before, such as Amber Void, Ruby Void, and Emerald Void!  Another step toward my goal: Glory of the Hero.

Do you agree with the negative stigma surrounding Oculus?  Are you looking forward to its facelift in Patch 3.3??

ThespiusSig

Email me: elder.thespius@gmail.com  |  Tweet me: @Thespius

Running a Raid: 10 Golden Rules (part 1)

Raid-Rules-1

So you want to be a raid leader? Well, you gotta ask yourself one question. Do I feel…

Ready?

I don’t know everything about raid leading by a long shot but I thought I’d share some of my musings on the hows and whys of this arcane practice.

Many players are shouting out on trade but it’s not to bawl their profession at passing trade watchers or haggle over the price of Poached Sunscale Salmon. Much of the cacophony in the traders’ market seems to be about recruiting to groups; quite often to PUGs, so much so that the LFG channel is making a permanent return. That means there are a lot of groups, and many players wearing the raid leader sash these days. So, this post is for everyone – people who raid lead and people who are led in raids.

1) Introduce the raid at the beginning. I call it ‘housekeeping’. You should work out your own style. This approach is fair on the players in the group and particularly important in PUGs – it puts everyone on level ground. They know what is expected of them. You’re also introducing yourself and presenting as a bit more than a shadowy stranger wearing the master looter crown.

Personally there are a few things I like to talk about here. In Herding Cats we have a strict zero tolerance policy against griefing and bad manners – or as my guild leader puts it, ‘That Guy’. I make it clear to the group members that we expect them to be polite and friendly. This gives everyone a fair warning in advance and introduces the raid as a safe place. I then also assure the group that they don’t need 10k DPS, we don’t expect everyone to know all the tactics and that we’ll explain them, but remind them that fun is the main aim of the game. Then we get onto less exciting things such as hush in the librar- sorry, raid spam, and loot rules.

Several times I’ve had players whisper me during the housekeeping saying that they feel they’ve joined a mature raid and they appreciate knowing there are boundaries and safety nets applicable to the whole group.

2) Interaction. Remember that your group will get much further if they trust and respect you – and you them. Talk in full sentences. Keep your tone polite at all times. Join in on banter and jokes. Keep the chatter going – ask people what their favourite chocolate bar is, if you like. Answer questions, particularly as the raid is forming – that’s one of the most likely times for a raid to fold. Above all: pay attention to your group. They will feel like you know what you’re doing and just maybe you’ll feel that too.

People judge on first impressions in real life – they do in instances, too. Make a good first impression and then keep it up throughout. I’ve joined several PUGs recently being led by strangers who have ignored my questions about tanking or healing assignments. Just the other day a random raid leader decided that our PUG didn’t need two shadow priests for Naxx25. These things do not inspire confidence in me as a raider; put yourself in your raiders’ shoes and think about what would make them feel comfortable.

3) Be approachable. Let the group know that they can whisper you or another group member you trust with questions, comments or suggestions. Also let the group know that they can offer suggestions for tactics in raid chat at an allotted time, such as after tactic spam – and that you will listen to the suggestions and decide on the final tactics. This can be a useful group to keep a group interested if it’s a new encounter for the group or even you, or something is proving very difficult for whatever reason.

In Herding Cats we usually make it clear at the beginning that players can whisper myself or Ekatrina if they need something cleared up. If a player has a specific role in a fight – such as dealing with brittle adds during the Ignis encounter – we whisper them to check they’re ok with the role. We also try to get a general idea, group size permitting, how experienced each raider is so that we can keep an eye out for anyone who might need support or to be whispered to check they’re clear before starting the encounter. Some might say this is extra work or babysitting but there’s nothing wrong with it – it can make a new or less confident player feel supported and can avert a wipe for the whole group. Indeed, we’ve acquired several extremely loyal and friendly raiders because we took the time to care for them when they first raided with us.

4) Tactics: don’t assume. Don’t assume for a moment that everyone knows the tactics if you’re in a group with one or more PUGger or new guild member. This is relevant for any encounter. Remember that new players are getting to 80 every day. Some veteran players are coming anew to raiding from other styles of play or have their own idea of tactics. Some players will have suggestions – some of them will be good. Make time for those and take them into account for the final decision on How It Will Go. Explain your tactics for the encounter, even if it’s just the bare essentials of what a player needs to know to not kill the raid.

Also don’t assume players know YOUR tactics. There are several fights which can be done slightly differently. Plenty of times we’ve led a brave PUG to Thaddius and said +++++Thaddius—— only to have two or three people adamantly insist it’s the other way around. A lot of the time it doesn’t matter which way round you do the tactics; what does matter is that you make sure that there is one, clear set of tactics.

5) Know your stuff. Have a solid idea of the encounter’s tactics. You might know the tactics from a melee DPS point of view but you need to be able to advise *everyone* in the raid, whatever role they play. Read up on encounters on sites like WoWwiki or watch videos on TankSpot and Youtube. The trick then is to explain the tactics in a clear, concise way that players will listen to.

If you have time and think you will raid lead regularly then I recommend writing documents in advance with your own tactics spam for more complicated fights so that you can copy/paste or read it out during the raid. This is what i did when leading a group into Ulduar, many of us for the first time. There’s a lot going on and a lot of things that players need to keep in the back of their mind, so I split the spam up with an ‘everyone’ section first and then descriptions by group role. This lets ranged DPS, for example, know what will affect them directly and reduces the loss of focus during tactic spam; it also provides for those players who are curious about tactics for other roles. Writing it in advance also allows you to pare down irrelevant information rather than getting carried away during the raid.

In my opinion those are the first five of the widely applicable basics. They are very much my own opinion. i appreciate that everyone has their own style of raid leading and approaches it differently. Not only that, different situations need to be handled differently. Look out for the other five golden rules in the Book of Mimetir coming soon.

What do you think – do you find any of these helpful and plan to adopt them in your next run? How essential do you think careful raid leading is in a PUG and/or a guild group? Do you think I’m too much of a careowl and people should just “STFU u nub”? What’s *your* favourite bar of chocolate?

Ask Lodur!

Ask Lodur!

It’s been a while since we’ve had enough questions for me to do this but today happens to be one of the days I DO have enough! For those of you who don’t know about this I take questions over Twitter you can find me at the LodurZJ user name or you can use the hash tag #asklodur. Ask lodur is where I take the serious and the silly questions from our readers and give them an answer. Think of it as a Dear Abbey WoM style ;)  So without further ado, here’s today’s Ask Lodur!

Dear Lodur,

Will the new pet store cause the fall of WoW civilization as several WoW-“experts” have suggested?

Sincerely

The Zet

Dear Zet,

I can honestly say I don’t think so. Not unless they decide to let you buy say…Onyxia as a pet that you can unleash in PvP! Honestly though the addition of a pet store is nothing more then cutting out the middle man in the quest for more shinny non combat items for us in game. I hardly think that this break the game, and it is a FAR cry from being the Micro transaction model that other games such as Dungeons and Dragons Online and various other MMO’s have employed. This is no different then buying the cards for the collectible card game and getting an in came code.

Dear Lodur

Do you condone breaking and entering? Would you be ok someone broke into Blilz HQ for the supersecret t10 Shaman gear?

Kirby

Dear Kirby,

Well I personally don’t condone breaking and entering, I feel that the fact that Blizzard has not released the Shaman tier 10 to be as good a reason as any to look the other way >.> While I myself wouldn’t do it… if it happened to find it’s way across my desk I wouldn’t ask where it came from ….
Dear Lodur,

In the absence of trustworthy feedback, how do you evaluate your healing performance? Especially as a rsham?

Sincerely,

Herselftherogue

Dear The Rogue

An honest judgement of how you evaluate your healing performance can be done a few ways for a Resto Shaman. The first thing to look as is… Did the raid wipe? If the answer is no, then you’re pretty good to go. If the answer is yes then you need to look a little bit deeper. Was the cause of the wipe the target you were assigned to heal? Was it caused by a “stupid” death that you couldn’t heal through? Honestly it’s very hard to judge your performance individually. Basically if no one died or it isn’t a wipe, count it as a win ;)


Dear Lodur,

boxers, briefs, none or “other”?

Sincerely,

Shamanfan

Dear Shamanfan,

um… I don’t really know how to answer that one. Honestly though, it depends on the gear. If I’m in a kilt, there’s no reason not to go full dress! If I’m in actual chain maille pants well… that’s another story.

Dear Lodur

I have this thing were I feel the need to only cast PW:S on everyone. Do I have a problem?

Sincerely,

BubbleBoi


Dear BubbleBoi,

YES! seek help immediately! There is more to life then bubbles alone! If you continue down this path you will develop Bubbleitis! This is a very serious problem that results in tunnel vision, blurry awareness and can escalate as far as deadraidsyndrome! Get help before it’s too late!

That’s it for todays Ask Lodur, be sure to use the contact form on this site, or pop on twitter and ask away!

Until next time, Stay Classy Azeroth

Sig

It’s My Party and I’ll Spec How I Want To!

It’s My Party and I’ll Spec How I Want To!

brat

You’re the one who sits in front of your computer.  You’re the one who has to look at the back of your toon’s head all night (or day).  You’re the one who has to put the gold into gems, enchants, and glyphs.  You’re the one doing the necessary rep grinds.  Most importantly, you’re the one paying $15 each month to play the game you enjoy.

Hence, you’re entitled to play how you want to play, right?  Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean people are always going to want to play alongside you.  If you’re a chain-pulling DPS Death Knight, it might be tough for you to find dungeon groups.  If you’re a mage who is trying to mass-bandage people in battlegrounds instead of DPS, expect to get laughed at.  Most of us strive to play our characters in a way that helps and benefits a raid, battleground, or arena team.  We’re going to look at things from a raiding perspective.

If you’re an aspiring raider, two guys named “Min” and “Max” always come into the conversation pretty quickly.  Wikipedia describes this practice as:

…the practice of playing a role-playing game, wargame or video game with the intent of creating the “best” character by means of minimizing undesired or unimportant traits and maximizing desired ones.

Obviously, this doesn’t only have to do with spec, but also relates to gear, gems, enchants, and spell/skill rotation.  How beneficial is it to tweak all of these to get the most desired output from your character, whether it be healing, DPSing, tanking, etc?

PvP vs. PvE vs. Hybrid

If you really want to be effective in a raiding environment, leave your PvP spec, or your “hybrid” spec at the door.  Although it is perfectly viable to heal in a PvP spec (I usually do it after Wintergrasp), you’re lacking in true PvE potential if you’re not specced properly for raiding.  Taking talents such as Improved Ghost Wolf or Reflective Shield are not effective for raiding in the slightest.  The points you spend in talents like those are much more useful in talents that boost your raiding skills/spells.

Granted, you may be able to find yourself in a guild that doesn’t mind you being a hybrid spec.  Perfectly fine.  Just don’t be too upset if your raid spot is handed over to someone with a pure spec.  Keep in mind that the effort you don’t put into raiding has to be made up by the other raiders.  In effect, you run the risk of making their job harder.  It can be handled for a while, but there’s an often-reached breaking point.

Rusty Cookie Cutter

The term “cookie cutter” usually refers to a globally accepted spec to accomplish a certain job.  PlusHeal.com, TankSpot.com, OutDPS.com, and WoWWiki.com are all great places to get yourself a “cookie cutter” spec for whatever role you’re filling.

I usually reserve using a spec like those for when I’m first learning a new playstyle.  As a Discipline Priest, I’m not too familiar with Holy.  I lined myself up a “cookie cutter raid healing” spec, and learned the mechanics of that style that way.  The more I get comfortable with the abilities, buffs, debuffs, etc., the more I can tweak the spec to what I need, as well as what the raid needs.

If you’re joining up with a raiding guild that’s new to you, take a look at what kind of role you’re going to be filling.  If it’s foreign to you, start with a “cookie cutter” and go from there.

Juggling Stats

At a certain point in gearing, you reach a point where you can start adding on a certain stat over another.  For tanks, it’s the defense cap.  For DPS, it’s the hit cap. (Remember the expertise cap, too.)  For a healer, this point basically involves being able to keep your assignment up comfortably without running out of mana.  From there, you can stack:

  • Haste – Faster heals
  • Spellpower – Consistently bigger heals
  • Critical Strike – Chance for bigger heals / Chance for bonus procs
  • Mana/Mana Regen – Longevity

Each method serves a purpose.  Whichever path you choose, you essentially keep the minimum amount of everything else to function as a healer, and maximize what your goal is.  If you lose your ability to keep a target up or sustain mana in a fight, you’ve “min’d” too much.

The Good

If you min/max correctly for the role you’re filling, then you’re incredibly good at your job.  If you’re a tank-healing Discipline Priest in consistently short fights, and you gem into a higher Critical Strike Rating, then Inspiration and Divine Aegis are gonna stay up on the tank most of the time, making the other jobs easier.  If you’re a Resto Shaman healing the raid with a lot of AoE damage, and you gem for Haste, then you’ll be firing Chain Heals off like mad.

It also makes it easy to judge your gear upgrades.  You know what you’re aiming for, and you know what stats you don’t really need to focus on.  In fact, you may have some stats you may be able to start scaling back on to accomplish your goal.

The Bad

You go too far, and you lose versatility.  If you’re gemmed out for big heals, but don’t have longevity, you’ll be tapping out quickly.  If you’re stacking mana, but don’t have a lot of spellpower to back it up, you’re going to have a tough time lending a hand in short fights that pack a lot of punch.

A lot of us know the value of being able to think on your feet.  A good raider needs to be able to pick up the slack when someone goes down.  If you’re a one-note player, you’re going to have a tough time switching around.  A raid leader needs to fill specific roles in a raid, but he/she also needs people that can adapt if circumstances change.

Thes’s Solution

Staying within the role of your spec, do what you can to make yourself a well-rounded player.  As a Discipline Priest, my primary role is to keep the tanks alive.  However, if my target isn’t taking any damage, I’ll throw some HoTs and Flash Heals on the raid to help everyone else out.  It would be unwise of me to try to work my spec and gear to be a full-blown raid healer.  It’s a waste of my talents and spells, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help out when needed.

What do I do? I hit a point where I got comfortable with my mana pool and regen.  I could easily get through longer fights with my mana cooldowns (and keeping up my end of the healing).  I started swapping out my Brilliant King’s Amber gems for Luminous Ametrine gems.  This lets me keep my mana efficiency while upping the power of my heals.

If you need something more specialized for a long fight or for nuke heals, start building an alternate set of gear that’s more gemmed/enchanted for the task.  With all of the options for getting gear out there, it shouldn’t take that long to build a “special set”.  It’s an easy way to avoid being a one-trick pony.

Remember: Raiding is a team effort.  You have to put a lot into it if you want to get a lot out of it.  Cutting corners with spec/gear, or maxing TOO much of a certain stat can runs the risk of putting you on the standby list real fast.

ThespiusSig

Follow me on Twitter: @Thespius

It’s a Pet Store not a Gear Store

Blizzard’s opened up the virtual pet store where you can purchase the first of several pets to come. I don’t actually know this, but I’m fairly certain we’ll be seeing more purchasable pets later.

What’s the big deal?

In a nutshell, the micro-transaction MMO model involves consumers paying for certain items. I have a friend of mine who plays Maple Story and I routinely tease her about buying a wedding dress for 5 bucks or other stuff only for it to disappear about 3 months.

Gear has an expiry date it seems.

The Korean “free” MMOs employ this model very well. I’ve briefly participated in some but I broke off from it seeing as I couldn’t sustain it. Figured I was better off investing in WoW instead.

Anyway, there seems to be this slippery slope argument that’s making the waves on Twitter and in some of the comments I’ve seen.

“If Blizzard sells in game vanity pets for real money, we’re now one step closer to being able to purchase real epics and gold for real money too!”

Since we can buy pets, we’re much closer to being able to buy weapons and other equipment to boost our characters and make them that much better.

I don’t think so

This is a great move by Blizzard from a profitability standpoint. Being able to purchase pets isn’t something that’s brand spankin’ new.

Players can redeem loot codes from the CCG booster packs for in game bonuses. I’ve got guildies with the Ogre Suit, the Turkey mount, the Spectral Tiger and so forth.

Being able to directly buy the pets removes the RNG aspect of popping open card booster packs and wasting money until you found one with the vanity item you want.

I don’t quite see this as being a punch in the face of players who spent countless hours farming for those Raptor eggs. I had guildies who would stay up late riding around and tying to find the right raptor for that particular pet.

A Pandaren Monk does not equal a raptor pet, just like the Rusted Protodrake does not equal a Spectral Tiger.

Players who invested their time and efforts into getting those bonuses earned them. If Blizzard was actually putting up Ashes of Al’ar or the Mimiron head mount for sale, then an argument and an uproar could be made then. 

But guys, it’s just a pet.

It’s a vanity pet.

It does not increase your stats.

It doesn’t do anything to increase or decrease your performance. It doesn’t affect your game in anyway. All it does is grant you a simulated neon sign above your head that says “I CAN AFFORD A PANDA THEREFORE I AM AWESOME!”

I can see them adding like tabards, more in game pets and mounts. These are items that you can already acquire from the CCG. It’s logical to assume they wouldn’t be out of bounds.

Save your rage for when it really matters.

If the day comes that Blizzard decides to sell gold, weapons, or the shirt of +1000 stats, feel free to raise hell.

Because I know I will.

Now I think I’m going to pick me up a Panda.

Exclusive Shaman Tier 10 Preview!!!!!!!!

Exclusive Shaman Tier 10 Preview!!!!!!!!

So I’m sure many of you are on the edge of your seats, wondering with baited breath what our armor is going to look like. Well I have exciting news for you!! Here at WoM we have the exclusive on the new armor graphics for the tier 10 shaman set

Are you ready?

Truly?

Honestly?

Are you sure?

It’s pretty epic!

Here it comes!

386195602_fvZ4J-M

CARDBOARD SAMURAI!!!!!

Made you look!

Honestly there still is no news on the tier 10 armor set models for Shaman and it’s a little disheartening. We’ve seen the sets for everyone else (good or bad) but not for ours.

What could be taking so long? Maybe they are really trying to figure out what it should look like. Maybe they have something in mind but want to spring it on us like a nice holiday surprise. Maybe they are just embarrassed by what they slapped together and are scrapping it to start over. I wasn’t very impressed with the Tier 9 Alliance set, it looked decent on the male models and it looked good on Dwarves but on Female Elves and Draenei it just looked misshapen. It also didn’t seem very shamanistic to me, especially since Hunters got the same armor graphic. I need something with at least a little bit in the way of elements to make me happy. Hell I’ll settle for a dead bird hat Druid style at this point. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see their model for it soon, but until then I have a challenge to lay at your feet.

If you want to try your hand at making a mock up of what you want Shaman tier 10 to look like or what you think would look cool, post it here! Break out the photoshop and MS Paint and let’s see what you got!

Sig

Image courtesy of http://www.rosepolenzani.com

The Significant Owl Goes Hoot in the Blog

Mimetir-intro

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

Well, if not significant then *peers around owlishly* the only owl in the blog, at least. And yes, I do shine my beak, thank you. Nothing strikes terror into an opponent more than the eerie glow of an eclipse proc reflected in the beak of an overgrown bird I tell you.

Matticus has kindly invited me to make something of a more permanent nest here as a regular member of the team, along with Thespius. I’m grateful to many of you for sharing thoughts and comments on my posts so far, which have looked at hybrids, looting and social Wrath. I’ve enjoyed the discussions which have come out of you pitching in your two-hapeth alongside mine – so, thank you, and I hope it continues!

Meanwhile I’d like to introduce myself a bit more thoroughly. Sure, I say I’m a giant owl – but who’s the person behind the feathers and what kind of WoW player does it make me? I’ll meander around and about the facts of my life in and out of game for a short spell. Are you sitting comfortably?

I’m an English Literature graduate who has a longstanding and deep rooted dislike of (some) Shakespeare and of Middlemarch. I took great pleasure in studying fairy tales, post colonial texts and war literature. I still love learning and a good old yarn.

This is a big influence on my gaming – it must be said that WoW is a huge and complex game to learn. Three years into playing I’m still revelling in learning and improving in different classes, roles, fight tactics. More importantly I still sometimes feel a bit of the “new player” magic that many of us get upon entering WoW at first – that it’s a huge world to explore with breadcrumbs leading bit by bit through the epic storyline.

As a  British Red Cross volunteer I have worked with refugees to try to help them integrate into society or find their families after being separated from them through war, conflict or disaster. I’m also someone who has lived with a disability for most of my life. These things have taught me patience and empathy with other people – and players – and that people are really just people. Everyone has within them the strength to make what they want of their life and live it.

That extends, too, to WoW. I personally don’t like to turn away from a challenge though at the same time I remember everyone plays different parts of the game, so try to help anyone who asks for it. I try to treat all players I meet equally. I expect – even ask – that to be returned and shared in a group situation. If a player turns out to be A Nitwibbling Little Horror (you know the type of player) in my group, then my boot, claw or hoof quickly helps them out of the instance portal.

I grew up as the only child of a small family in a seaside town in England. I’ve played computer games since an early age – my parents bought me a Nintendo and we collected consoles as they appeared. I played many of the best, earliest RPGs with my mother – think Final Fantasy II/IV, Secret of Mana, Suikoden, This may conjure an atmosphere of peaceful safety of a gamer in training in your mind…

Perhaps that’s so, looking at my time on Ravenholdt. One of my mains is a fury warrior named Gramm – he’s guild master of a small, family-type guild. We try to be a place of safety and friendship for players of any sort, so long as they have something of the ‘bimbler’ about them. And yes, my mother also moved from console RPGs to WoW. I’m not sure if she thanks or curses me for getting her hooked on it.

Online gaming has had its claws in me for ten years now. Scary thought. Most of those years were spent playing tick based games such as Planetarion. I was one of the founders and then leaders for a long, long time of an alliance – a group not unlike a guild. Over time the alliance became a strong community and many of us became friends, with ensuing alliance meets in different countries.

This has translated straight to WoW and raid leading. My other main characters are Mimetir, my boomkin, and Apeorsa, a newly minted resto shaman. Their guild is a small group of real life friends. We aren’t big enough to run guild-only raids so we have a wider network of players we have met at random, enjoyed running with, and regularly keep in contact and raid with; we meet new folk all the time. This style of running means raid leading can present different challenges to a guild-only run.

I’m now living in Edinburgh after an unexpected and happy turn of events during a guild meeting. This, apart from anything else, reinforces my belief that WoW and similar online games are not to be scoffed as communities. I happily stand as proof that it is entirely possible to meet and build solid relationships with new friends and even your “other ‘alf” in these games – and it’s no bad thing to be brought together partially through a mutual love of gaming.

So that’s me, pretty much. I’m thoroughly enjoying blogging and contributing to this site. Watch out for my thoughts on the “link achiv or no raid” style and why I disapprove of it, to what extent micro managing in raids can do as much harm as good – and, well, whatever else takes my fancy, hitting a blog near you.

Oh, and … Hoot.

Enchanting 3.3: Don’t Get Worked Up

Some enchanters are disappointed at the upcoming addition of disenchant as a loot option. I’m personally quite happy with it. I have an enchanter of my own and I sympathize with the hassles that enchanters go through in instances and the like.

The enchanting process now

Here’s the steps involved in taking an item and sharding it for the group:

  1. Need roll the item
  2. Look for it in your bags
  3. Select disenchant
  4. Find the item again because you forgot where it was
  5. Actually disenchant it
  6. Tell everyone to roll
  7. Wait an extra 15 seconds for the AFK guy to roll
  8. Open trade after closing within range
  9. Actually trade it to him

The enchanting process in 3.3

If there’s an enchanter, all the group needs to do is hit the disenchant button. The process of item sharding and trading is done for you. The sharded item goes straight to the winner of the role without the enchanter having to do anything.

Thank goodness for this feature.

Enchanters benefit because they don’t have to spend the time or effort fishing for the item, looking over the rolls and figuring out who gets the item. Is this actually a pain in the ass? No. The first few times, it’s manageable. But if you’re in a raid and you’re handing out shards at the end or if you have a lot of items to hand out, it can get annoying. Just for a streamlined process alone makes it worth it.

Everyone else benefits because there is little risk of having shards stolen or conveniently “forgotten” about. Heck, I’ve forgotten to distribute shards once or twice (or more). Right now, I just greed stuff in instances hoping to win it and keep the shard for myself. But with this in place, the group will immediately know if there’s a disenchanter present and can get a crack at the shard legitimately via the updated looting system.

The argument against

Actually, this is a stance that has gone back for a long time. The traditional argument goes something like this:

Herbers, miners and skinners get to keep their own loot that they acquire. Why can’t enchanters keep the shards?

It’s only fair right? No one rolls for herbs or for ore nodes unless they’re an herbalist or a miner. It’s assumed to be theirs with little discussion. Why then are we enchanters not allowed to be entitled to these shards? We did invest a ton of gold and time to our professions. It’s only fair that we reap more of the benefits. I know I personally experience runs where there are 4 drops and I don’t get one at all.

Why I disagree

With that in mind, an enchanter then would have every right to roll on every drop in the instance regardless of whether or not they can use it on their character. Every item is viewed as something usable that contributes to the enchanter and pays off for the time and gold they’ve invested into enchanting.

Hey, I totally understand where they’re coming from. I must’ve sunk 5000 gold into it myself just from getting from level 70 enchanting to level 80 enchanting.

But just imagine how chaotic it would be if enchanters had the right to roll on anything just so they could disenchant it.

I can’t buy into that.

All tradesmen have paid their dues in leveling up their skills and each has their own unique set of perks and benefits.

In the item’s base form, without an enchanter present, it would be greeded and vendored.

In shard form, the shards can be greeded and then sold for greater value. I just don’t quite see how the presence of an enchanter automatically means they get all the shards simply because they’re the only ones able to disenchant it and convert it into a form that can sell more.

What you can do

Remember that setting loot rules ahead of time can always be done no matter what you’re doing.

As an enchanter, I’ve politely requested asking specifically for one shard if it is determined that we’re on a shard run. Group members will usually understand. Try asking for a change.

Of course, you could always do the completely dick move and wait for everyone to hit “shard” on the loot option before hitting “greed”.

A Change of Recruiting Strategy: World of Raids Tool

This raid cycle is about to end soon and I know there are many guilds who are gradually bleeding members to life and other obligations outside of the game. It’s becoming a tough stretch to even field a full competent crew for ToGC 25.

Right now, even though we’re recruiting for ToGC 25, I personally don’t know if anyone’s going to bite. What I did decide to include is an extra note that says we’re also recruiting for Icecrown.

Another stipulation that I’ve added is that quality of gear players have when applying won’t really matter to us. In other words, I’ve relaxed the gear standards.

Why?

Because I know Icecrown’s just on the horizon and will debut within 4-6 weeks. I projected a late November or early December release.

That’s 4 weeks for a new applicant to get themselves geared up so that they can be effective in Icecrown. Even if they’re a fresh 80, running a constant stream of heroics or getting carried in farm or alt raids is enough to build a supply of badges to purchase tier 9 gear.

So in other words, I’m enacting a two tier strategy. The first priority is to recruit players who can help fill our raids and contribute. Failing that, if they’re not at the level they need to be, we’ll still draft them for the future.

I’ve gotten some bites on trade chat, but they’re mostly inquiries for now. Twitter has again proven fruitful as I’ve had a few interested players from there apply. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to use the official realm forums as everytime I post it says “Invalid Option”.

I was actually tempted to include in the recruiting message that the leadership had Icecrown experience as I’ve participated in all of the PTR tests so far. When you’re competing against other guilds for players, every edge helps right? One would think that foresight and knowledge into the next tier of content might tip the scales in favor.

So let’s look at the World of Raids recruiting page.

What are you looking for?

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The first thing you’ll notice is that there are a variety of search filters at the top. Use those to narrow down the guilds that fit your criteria.

1. This is where you select the Realm. Obviously, since I’m a Dwarf Priest, I am going to select Alliance. Even though I live in Canada, the closest realms to me are in the US. I prefer PvP servers just because of the extra variable element they add to my day to day affairs even though I still hate Rogues.

2. If there’s a specific realm you’re looking for, you can enter it here and it will isolate only guilds that are from there.

3. You set your class and specs here. For me, I’ll put down Holy Priest as an example.

4. If you care about progression, you’ll want to look for a guild that’s in your area. This takes a bit of trial and error as there’s no absolute guideline on this. Just for the sake of it, I said narrow it down to guilds that are in the top 2000 around the world.

5. Raid times can be narrowed here. If you prefer to raid on certain days and times, simply choose the day where it matters and then use the buttons to select the start and end times. Setting a large range works best. It will display guilds that happen to raid on the days that you choose. Note that the guilds may raid days in addition to the ones you have selected.

Make sure you set the time zone appropriately.

The search results below will show guilds that best match your criteria. A green bar on the left signals how close they match your filters. The rest of the information is shown on the bar such as classes, progression rank, and times.

And hey, look at that. There’s a guild called Conquest that happens to be recruiting. I think I might give those guys a shot. Let’s click on that page and see what happens next.

What am I looking for?

Now that you’re on my World of Raids guild page, you can see all of the necessary information listed in one area and it’s very handy to applicants and recruiters alike.

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At the very top, it displays some basic information. The icon on the left signifies which faction, Horde or Alliance, the guild is. The server and battlegroup along with the guild’s website is shown beside it. On the right side, applicants can see where this guild ranks on the progression curve. The Apply button is in bright yellow box that’s difficult to miss.

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As you’ll see, the top part of the page displays what classes I’m looking for. At the moment, the classes that have a color background behind them signify that I will consider those classes. All we could use right now are bodies to help us in our raids and I won’t be too picky when it comes to class. If you can reach a certain threshold of DPS output and in game “smarts”, it’s good enough for me.

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Right below that, you can see a neat graphical representation of progress. It takes a while to update as the data is pulled from WoW Progress and is reflected here. Under Crusader’s Coliseum, note how there are two levels of progression. Half a bar represents the boss has been taken down on normal mode while a full bar means it’s been done on heroic.

Ulduar is below that and it also breaks down individual boss achievements into fractions. Freya, for example, is broken up into 4 parts which represent her and various amounts of elder kills.

Sadly, this isn’t up to date as we took down Heroic faction champs last week and killed Yogg with 3 keepers active.

You can also see a link to 10 man achievements in the top right corner of each raid instance.

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Below that you can see notable accomplishments and a simple mouse over will display what has been achieved. I like the fact that it also highlights when a certain achievement was achieved. For example, Kil’jaden on the far right was killed prior to the release of 3.0.2.

Unfortunately, as this tracks everyone’s achievement, even if one person has Immortal, it will still display it as a guild achievement. Such was the case here because we weren’t able to get Immortal together as a guild.

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Finally, the right side bar displays information that can’t easily be expressed or pulled from a third party source. This is where the administrator enters extra information about their guild. The raid times are shown at the top and is displayed in a 24 hour format to minimize confusion. The timezone that the guild operates on is also shown. These are settings that the administrator can control which ranges from MST, CST, EST, and so forth. I don’t recall what the European ones are.

The about section offers a brief description of the guild and what it’s about. It’s important to not go all out here. You want to sell your guild and garner interest, not scare them away with a giant wall of text. This is not the place to paste your guild’s core beliefs. You don’t have to enter in duplicate information. Remember, guild progression is already shown in the main area. Just tell potential applicants what you’re all about.

Some things include:

  • What you do? (Raid, PvP)
  • How you do it? (Push content within a narrow time frame)
  • What sets you apart from other guilds? (We hold players accountable)

Applicant expectations are where the guild administrators state what their expectations are. Again, be fairly brief here. Think of this as a brochure instead of an operations manual. This is the area where the qualities of the ideal applicant are listed.

One example would be something simple as must be mature and have thick skin so as to not take negative feedback personally.

Great I’m ready!

Once you’re ready and this looks like the perfect guild fit, it’s time for you to hit the apply button. There are 3 options that administrators can set.

  • Apply via World of Raids private message
  • Email
  • Website

For me, I selected the website because I like to keep all applicants in one area. Not every guild has such a luxury and you may wish to use email or PMs to handle that.

It’s certainly a well polished tool and I hope more players and guilds make use of it.

Circle of Healers

For some reason, I hardly seem to get tagged for these anymore. My friends tell me it’s because I’m supposedly all big and popular.

Hogwash I say. I’m not sure how many of you remember when I was but a young blogger still struggling to make a mark in the WoW community. I was once a small time blogger too, you know. Even though my time has diminished, my interest has not. I’ll do my best to respond to them if I feel they’re fun to do (or if I’m dodging a really important paper that’s due on Tuesday).

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Mallet, Discipline Priest. I’m ambi-spec-trous and will go Holy if the situation calls for it.
  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) Primarily raiding environments.
  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why? Power Word: Shield. Sometimes I think Protego to myself when I cast it. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a field of bubbles.
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Renew. That’s only when I’m Discipline though. I usually have better spells to respond with. If I’m idling, then I’ll use a Renew. But I’m rarely idle.
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? The ability to protect and to extend the health buffer of a player is the difference between life and death.
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? Weak raid healing. All we have is Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova. But then again, that’s not supposed to be our jurisdiction. We can raid heal, just not very well.
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Anything that enables me to watch playoffs. Generally, I prefer covering the raid. I’m a twitch healer.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Priest. It’s the oldest healer I have and I have a diverse array of spells to use.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? Paladins. I once nodded off in the middle of a 5-man. It was a truly boring experience.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer? Not staying on target. I’ll sometimes cheat and heal a different player than my assigned target if I feel I can get away with it. About 1 in 25 of those situations will result in the death of my assigned target. It’s like base stealing. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it bites you in the rear.
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? Dying to avoidable deaths. Healing is not a cure for stupidity. There’s only so many chances we will offer.
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Yes I do. Discipline has come a long way.
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? I rely heavily on Recount, Obituary, and World of Logs or WoW Meter Online. I mainly look at the cause of death the most to determine whether or not it was something that I could have prevented.
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? That Disc sucks for healing in raids (not raid healing, I mean having the spec in raids).
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? How to do things in addition to healing. Many new healers are caught staring at their bars when a fire lights up on their character. Try moving your head back a few inches to get a larger perspective on the entire screen. Move your camera back too. Awareness of bad stuff will get you far in this game.
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)? Lack of healing because they don’t have the Recount Absorbs addon installed.
  • Haste or Crit and why? Haste. Speed is life. The faster the spells, the faster you can cycle to different targets and cast them again.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least? Druids.
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? I rely on Vuhdo for all my healing needs.
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? On my Priest, I’ll stack a ton of intellect via gems and break socket bonuses if necessary. It’s not uncommon for me to reach over 35000 mana with full raid buffs. This adds to Replenishment, Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope. The more mana I have, the more options I’ll have at my disposal. That and spellpower are stats that are universal to Disc and Holy Priests. There’s no sense in grabbing Spirit as it’s not going to do much for my Disc side anyway.

Thanks to Sushicookie for reaching out and tagging me (as well as sending me a direct tweet about it since I usually miss these things). Of course, this was the brain child of Miss Medicina. You can find the rest of the responses from other bloggers here too.