The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend”, at least that’s what Aristotle says. I think he was on to something there. You can have an entire army facing you ready to run you through, but if you have one friend by your side you may just have the chance to win. Before when I started EVE Online and Lord of the Rings Online, it was hard to get into the game because my friends either couldn’t play the same time as me or were vastly higher level than I was. It made the games much less fun at the time than it was to play with a friends.

MMOs force you to get to know some one’s personality before anything else, this is especially true when you’re grouped up in guilds or clans. This is vastly different than what our human nature normally allows. As people our nature is to find others like us physically first, then discern intelligence and mentality. Video games have made it so we get to know the person’s personality before anything else. As a result, friendships you make through the game can create a stronger bond than even you may realize.

I’m sure you’re asking why all of a sudden is Joe going on about friendships and want-not. Couple nights ago my guild was working on Lich King (25) and we were coming back from a break when we got on a tangent because an old friend of many of the long time people in the guild expressed interest in not only coming back to the game, but finding a home on our server. We started talking about all the “old timers” we used to hang out with and it came up that someone I used to farm honor with late night that I hadn’t heard from in a very long time, passed away. I had no idea and that really bothered me. I mean this a person that I used to stay up all hours of the night shooting the shit, while shooting the horde. I remember being dog tired after a particularly long day at work and being JUST below my requirement for Knight rank in the old PvP system. This person was part of the group that convinced me to just queue with them and then let them do the work while I napped. Just so I could make sure I got the points before the next day’s calculations to get my rank. This person was also part of the group that when me and my girlfriend at the time split for good, decided it was city raid time to try and break me out of the slump I had fallen into. All the while joking and cajoling me trying to get me to laugh. Say whatever you will, these were good people.

The news of the death was a bit sobering sure, but it made me think of the other people I’ve made friends with through this game and how much their friendships impact my life. One of my best friends was found through the game. I’ve talked about it before but it’s still a good story. Back in BC we got an influx of new recruits, one of which was a smart-ass warlock. We always joked in game and always got along. One raid night I offhandedly mentioned having gone to a local coffee house before the raid. Erommon perked up on vent and started asking questions. Soon as the raid was over we met up, went to Deny’s and just hung out to the course of another 3 hours or so just talking. Needless to say he has become one of my best friends.

Another one of my best friends I met as a result of WoW. I had just been hired for my current job and we were on a break from training. I logged into my guild’s website to check raid sign-ups and my friend Dan happened to see it was a WoW website. We started talking and quickly found out we had much in common outside of the game. We became fast friends and now he is currently the person I’m working with for the 2D video game I’ve been working on.

I try to make myself accessible to guildies, but there are some I talk to more than others just out of shared likes and dislikes and play times. I’ve had guildies call me with real life problems at very odd hours just to vent and seek advice like they would from any long term real world friend. I’ve had guildies call me to make sure I was OK with things going on in my life outside of the game.

Even through the community there is this amazing bond that can be shared. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made through blogging and the community that surrounds it. If not for that community I never would have met my girlfriend or been introduced to such amazing people as I have been. Hell I’ve talked about Thespius from this site before, we hit it off right away when he joined my guild and through game time, this site and just chatting in general I’m happy to call him my friend, and would share a frosty pint with him any day.

Sometimes it amazes me and I have to sit back and take stock of it all. Today is one of those days. I mean how long ago was it that gamers were shunned covens of outcasts? Now gaming is it’s own social media giant that is allowing us to make some great contacts and meet people we normally wouldn’t have thought to talk to or get to know. Look back and think about all the friends you’ve made in the game or through the community. Do you consider them actual friends? Any stories to share?

10 Reasons People Don’t Heal

10 Reasons People Don’t Heal

I love healing. I have four healers, three of whom I play fairly regularly. I tend to be automatically drawn to healers in games. I’d shift out from Bookin and throw heals if the group’s dying. As plate DPS I run around telling people to stay still so I can bandage them.

Heck, in Team Fortress I default to the medic when my team’s limbs are flying freely.

But I know a lot of people who avoid healing like a Lich-bourne plague. Curious, I asked a few of them why it wasn’t their cup of tea, and thought back over some of my more negative experiences as a healer. I’m sharing these thoughts to see if anything rings true with you, whether you heal or not.

10. Visuals. Mostly we get to watch lil’ boxes rather than the pretty moving pictures on the rest of the screen. I’ll give that a moment to sink in. We don’t actually see the game we’re playing and paying for, whenever we’re healing in a group situation, just some bars going up and down. I can see why people wouldn’t want to watch that all the time. (Tho settling into the ‘healzone’ and watching those boxes can also be a reassuring balm for a healer. Or maybe that’s just me.)

9. Reaction based. Playing a healer requires you to think fluidly rather than do the same things over again, like DPS rotations. While this might be great at times it can also be daunting to commit to constant thinking in a ‘relaxing’ game. Not only that but healing’s very reaction based – current content tends to require quick twitch reactions both on plain ol’ healing and getting out of yon fiery goo. Those reactions aren’t something some people have permanently at their fingertips.

8. Personal preference. I believe there is a “role” in everyone. Some people ARE healer players. Some ARE tanks or DPS. What you play is obviously personal preference. But if you’re getting uppity when playing your feral cat character because you’re finding the rotation an absolute nitwibble, perhaps you’re unlikely to go for another stressful role – healing – as a change.

7. Perfectionism. I suspect a lot of healers are perfectionists. Deep down, we like to succeed in keeping everyone in tip-top shape. I don’t know about you but if people die from anything other than a one-shot, my thought is usually “I could have done better.” Even if that person died while I was a jot busy, like avoiding adds while jumping out of fire and cleansing a ticking disease. And healing the main tank who’s being mushed by an enraged boss. I can see some people might like to avoid engaging their inner perfectionist regularly.

6. People are stupid. Healing setups and assignments are things which some non-healers don’t think about and aren’t interested in learning about, whether or not it would help them support their healers and organise  more cohesive groups. The amount of times I’ve been in PUGs which have said “we need 5 healers anything will do” and we get 3 trees, 1 holy priest and an offspec resto shaman and are then expected to heal a Festergut25 attempt… which leads on to:

5. Blame game. Other members of the group tend to look to us healers first if someone dies or things go wrong. Sometimes the blame’s genuinely ours – everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, in PUGs or randoms particularly, we’re just the easiest ones to blame – people died after all, and that’s what wiped us. Yep. Can’t be anything to do with the hordes of uncontrolled adds chewing healers’ faces off. Other times people aren’t blaming us at all but asking for information on what we saw and because many healers carry the can of blame we can get used to assuming blame anyway. It’s an uncomfortable position.

4. Responsibility. Healers are often put in a spotlight. Your tank healer is standing in the fire and your top DPS has eaten a nasty DoT. Which one dies? If you falter then everyone will die, if you make the wrong decision then everyone will die. Everyone might die anyway. Those decisions can be hefty responsibilities to shoulder and it’s easy to have a rabbit-in-the-headlights reaction.

3. No influence. Think about it. If any tank says “jump down that hole” you jump down that hole. If a healer tells someone to do the same, the healer either gets told to “stfu”, kicked, or a reputation for being mouthy – before they’ve finished the sentence. Even when the other half of the sentence is “…because if you don’t those adds are going to rip out your ey-ohnevermindthen” Ah, the trials of being an unsung hero.

2. “Meh: Lose” situation. Being a healer’s far from win-win; there’s no criteria for personal ‘win’. If people don’t die then you’re performing adequately – at present. If people die, you’ve ‘lost’ or failed. The closest healers get to winning is on healing meters, which amount to superfluous and unfair competition given that different healing classes perform in different ways. The healing puppetry show is far more than “Heals Per Second – that’s the way ter do it!”

1. Mystery. Many gamers are used to “survive by killing that horde of zombies” or “save the world by sticking your sword in Mr. Mwhahahha until he falls over”. Not “save the world by by enthusiastically patching up your group’s assorted grazed knees and bumps on the head.” For players used to the former mindsets and styles, I gather that rolling a healer and then progressing through a game primarily with friendly and defensive abilities is a bit like “now go and live the same life as everyone else does using nothing but a chinchilla for defence.”

Now it’s your turn. I’m curious about this – do you have any reasons to add as to why you or someone you know won’t heal? Do you vehemently agree or disagree with any of these – or are you not fussed either way, given that it’s just a game? And do you think shedding light on these things will get healers a little more respect – if indeed we deserve more?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Still Going to Run 25s?

Still Going to Run 25s?

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The big Cataclysm announcement this week is the changes being made to raid progression. To summarize:

  • 10 and 25 raids will share the same lockout
  • Heroic mode will be toggled individually per boss
  • The difficulty gap between 10 and 25 raids will narrow
  • 10 and 25 man bosses will drop the same items
  • 25 man bosses will drop more items
  • Multiple, smaller raids instead of massive ones
  • Continued gating
  • Initial raids tuned for dungeon blues and crafted

First reaction? Surprised. It’s as if someone splashed me with cold water. Again, with the rewards changes and time investment changes, the game is shifted to further accessibility. There are some aspects that I like, and there are other aspects I’m a little wary of.

On reduced commitment

Having the same lockout and having the same item qualities drop will free up time for players to do other stuff. Your raid won’t suffer a penalty either if a number of players unexpectedly drop out for a day due to vacations or dog shows or what not. If you’re short several players, you can still pull off 2 x 10s and not miss a week of gearing up.

It certainly does feel like the raiding progression game is going to slow down.

What needs to happen for this to work

Please, do not screw over the players who prefer to do 25s. I believe some of the extra rewards are badges, loot, and gold. The extra gold is nice and all but for most organizations, it isn’t a problem. Having extra badges will speed up the gearing process for sure.

1) Increased item drops: And I mean a lot more. To put it into perspective, if you take down Marrowgar on 10s and 25s, your raid gets access to 5 possible items. If you were wearing ToC or Ulduar level gear, any of those 5 items could have been an upgrade. What drove some players to run ICC 10 and ICC 25 was that any item, whether it was a 264 or 251 level, would’ve been used regardless. I know I’d like to see 6+ drops to truly make it worthwhile.

2) Other incentives: Mounts or titles? I don’t know. But there needs to be something that’ll keep players motivated to do 25s. I’m not sure if money and badges alone will do it.

3) Difficulty: I don’t know in what direction the raid difficulty it being switched to. Is the difficulty going down or increasing? It should be just as punishing either way, I think.

This is the fear. The fear is that players will opt to switch to 10 mans that is further into a raid instance than a 25 man when they’re only 3 or 4 bosses in.

From a player progression standpoint, would you rather be in a 25 that has taken down 2 or 3 bosses or a 10 man that has taken down 7 bosses in a zone? Knowing that the item grade is going to be the same, I’d say that most players will opt for the 10 man.

On the other hand, what some players seem to have forgotten is that there is only 10 players allowed. Someone’s inevitably going to have to sit. 25s feel a little more accommodating, and dare I say it, more forgiving. With more players, you get access to more outs to help put you over the top during encounters.

In addition, don’t forget about Kae’s point on difficulty. The reason that 10’s are perceived as easy is that players often run them overgeared. Doing ICC 10 with ICC 25 gear made it that much easier. But we’re using the same gear now.

I know that for now, I’m still committed to 25 man raiding into Cataclysm.

On raid instance sizes

I actually missed the mid-sized raid instances we had during Burning Crusade. In the closing months of the expansion, many players went through Karazhan, Gruul’s and Magtheridon then jumped into Black Temple, Mount Hyjal and Sunwell. It felt as if Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep weren’t as played as the others were. Right now, we’ve got the extreme of mammoth sized instances and short instances (I’d consider Trial of the Crusader short-ish) but there is nothing in between. Plus it’ll give us some more visual variety. I know there are players who got exhausted of running the same things whether it was Naxx, Ulduar and Icecrown. At least with an extra set of instances, the time it takes to get visually tired of places won’t be as quick.

One more question

Since 10s and 25s share the same lockout, will there be an option to toggle between a 10s and 25s mode if you’re already saved to it? Let’s say we clear out half an instance and the next raid day, power goes out for half the guild. Instead of calling the raid, I wonder if it’s possible to switch from 25s to 10s just so we can keep going with the players available.

Other reactions

I called out on Twitter for other bloggers who’ve written about their thoughts on the topic. Check them out:

What are Your Surprise Statistics?

When you bring up the Achievement window in game, there’s another tab for statistics. Looking through it, one can actually see their own history in the game. It’s mostly numbers but there’s a few intriguing facts too.

Character

Number of respecs: 37 (Ever since dual spec, never had much of a reason to switch)

Total gold acquired: 151102

Health postions used most: 1 (And it was a Bottled Nethergon Vapor from back in Burning Crusade)

Food eaten post: 1592 (I am one thirsty and hungry dwarf)

Combat

1,294,002,336 total damage done: (Probably from a combination of Flame Leviathan and Malygos drakes)

2,306,499,782 total healing done: (Malygos probably made up a chunk of that as well)

Deaths

Most deadliest Lich King boss: Loken 10 (First time I ran it)

Most deadliest Lich King 10-man boss: Sapphiron with 11

Most deadliest Lich King 25 boss: Sartharion with a jaw dropping 65 (All those 3 drake attempts)

Deaths in Naxx: 293

Deaths in Ulduar: 150

Deaths in Trial of the Crusader: 2

Deaths in Icecrown: 208

Resurrected by Priests: 38

Resurrected by Druids: 74 Rebirths + 56 normal resurrections (You can see who all the battle res’s go to)

Resurrected by Shamans: 48

Resurrected by Paladins: 67

Soulstones: 72

Ghouled: 3

Dungeons and raids

Boss killed the most: Archavon

Kel’thuzad killed: 20 times

Yogg killed: 7 times

Anub’arak killed: 18 times

PvP

Duels won: 4

Duels lost: 22

What about you? What character statistics about you are you surprised about the most?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

First before I begin I would like to say congrats to Matticus on his 10 man Arthas kill!

Now onto the matter at hand. My guild is plugging away at the Lich King 25 man encounter, our 10 man team is just about to take him down as well. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of not only the content, but let’s be honest in this case the entire point of the expansion! This entire expansion has geared us up for this fight. Egging us on, pushing us to greater heights and taunting us at every turn. The Lich King has been found in so many quests, instances and cinematic events it is impossible to not want to kill him.

When Trial of the Crusader was released, I’ll be honest I was not impressed. In fact I down right hated ToC. I’m an old school raider, I like instances with trash and having to work at getting TO the boss. I mean in every book I’ve read the hero and the villain don’t just run into each other randomly and just go to town. The hero normally goes through various trials and or henchman before they get to the big bad. In James Bond movies, he has to go through the henchman before making his way to the final bad guy for the show down. To me that is what trash is in an instance, it is a warm up but it’s also story fodder. These are the creatures the various bosses thought good enough to guard them from US. So when I walked into ICC for the first time you can bet I was over-joyed at the amount of trash that lay before us. One of my fondest memories as of late was when we were first heading into the Plagueworks, I was flying solo leading the raid that night and we were coming up on Stinky and Precious. I didn’t warn the raid about them at all, instead as we pulled I laughed maniacally at the frantic screams of “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS GLUTH DOING HERE?” as the raid wiped. Everyone laughed about it afterward  and I felt happy that there was trash that was actually DANGEROUS if you weren’t prepared.

My guild has fought our way through all the bosses up to Arthas and there is a sense of accomplishment there. The fight itself is amazing fun, if for no other reason than because there is so much going on. So, why then am I feeling slightly ripped off with this fight?

Arthas is one of those lore characters that has shaped this game. Warcraft 3 was a game I played to death and out of it what I got was the setup for World of Warcraft. It was heart-wrenching when Arthas slew his father and you saw the darkness in complete control, it was epic when Illidan and Arthas fought. The story, even though it was an RTS, was colorful and rewarding.

So last night Unpossible was working on Arthas and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with the fight, that something was missing. After the raid I thought back to burning crusade and Black Temple. The Illidan fight felt epic. The scene opened up with Akama going to face Illidan and speak his peace, followed by him running off to hold off reinforcements and give the group time to deal with Illidan. Partway through the fight, a fed up Warden Maiev Shadowsong bursts in to help try and take down the demon prince. He had wronged her so much that she had to have her revenge. In short the fight felt epic. It felt like great payoff to all the work of getting there. I attribute this to a well designed encounter, but a lot of that had to do with NPC interaction.

When you reach Arthas there is a small back and forth between the fallen prince of Lordaeron and Tirion Fordring. To be honest the back and forth is a little weak, and Tirion is one of those characters I could do without. I mean, of all the people Arthas has pissed-off and messed with over the years they picked Tirion to be the one to confront him. I mean I guess I expected him to be there from the beginning, after all he is the bearer of Ashbringer, but I expected someone faction specific to be there along side him as well. I know Jaina and Sylvanas made an appearance in the 5 mans, but this is the big show, the big payoff. Personally I expected them to be there, or rather someone who Arthas has wronged on a deep personal level to be there.

Before you say anything yes I know the history of what happened between Arthas and Tirion and the subsequent exile. My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.

We have airships right? After we’ve taken down the Frost wing, why not have the ship fly up to assault Arthas only to have him blow it out of the sky? How about King Varian Wrynn or Thrall gets to deliver the epic speech debasing Arthas and spurring us to victory. Instead we get Tirion running forward, and getting hunter trapped.

I still love the encounter don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there are a thousand things you have to watch for and so many ways you can die. I like having fights that have consequence and Defile is the greatest thing EVER created (no sarcasm on that). I guess in the end I just wish there was a little more NPC interaction at the end to help lend the cinematic / literary climactic feel that the encounter truly deserves.

What do you think about the encounter?

So with that I bid you all a good day, hopefully next week I’ll be writing you as King Slayer Lodur. Until next time, Happy healing and may all your heals be swift and your mana plentiful!

Why It’s A Problem That Healers Don’t Communicate in PUGs

The end is nigh.

Healers don’t communicate properly in PUGs. It’s a can of worms waiting to explode in Cataclysm.

WotLK minted many new practices, including PUGing raids. While the level and quality of communication in PUGs has always been unpredictable, there’s been decline in healer communication since the LFD tool was introduced.

People don’t seem to want to engage in communication unless pushed. I rarely see anyone bring up the topic of healing assignments. I usually wait to see if anyone else will initiate communication to sort tank and raid assignments and then organise it myself. The favourite responses vary from “sure”, “just heal ffs” and the particularly fine “lol Apeorsa tht healing setup is so naxx”.

Considering how players might feel these days I’m not greatly surprised at this lack of communication. As the root of group play, random 5 mans are largely to blame. They tend towards brief and impersonal affairs at best and arenas for bullying at worst. Sure, nice runs do happen – but for some there’s little incentive to be nice with strangers they’ll see once. There are no seeds of trust and friendship, and that dearth puts cracks in the foundations we build bigger PUGs on.

I’m sure some healers think communication in PUGs is unnecessary. From their POV, they’re kinda right. Think of a tree – call him Furtree. He’s used to raiding with his guild. Perhaps PUGs just don’t feel the same – he doesn’t get the mutual comradeship and pride he does with his guild. Perhaps VoA25 isn’t the challenge he’s used to in his guild’s ICChardmode runs. He has no reason to show loyalty or effort; he’s only here for a handful of badges to put a minute edge on already spiffy gear.

As a seasoned raider he might have a lack of patience with less experienced healers, or anyone inclined to ‘overtalk’ the situation – he just wants to get through the fast content as fast as possible. Many of us – including me – have been guilty of these at times. We’re slightly bored by now. I’ve even seen healers hiring themselves out as one-man-band progression healers, effectively amputating dialogue and shared learning.

At the other end of the spectrum we have new, struggling, healers. Imagine Timmy the timid priest who’s hit 80 and has blues and 219s. He wants to PUG for kit and badges, but PUGs can be harsh. Timmy’s more likely to be laughed off than invited to PUGs. When he does get an invite to his first ToC25 and the raid wipes to Burning Inferno because the healers didn’t communicate on Incinerate Flesh, Timmy’s may well get the blame.

Healers not talking mean that new healers don’t learn their own versatility in encounters or specifics behind healer setup. Sure, Timmy can read and watch tactics, but there’s an equation for learning encounters you’ve never seen plus how to heal in the first place which doesn’t necessarily = 2, for new healers.

equation2

A lack of teaching and support from other healers could have several effects. Timmy might get bored because the other healers have it covered. Or Timmy may believe all wipes are his fault and he can’t heal. Or he’ll have been given the easiest job and will think he’s brilliant – then he joins a guild and his lack of knowledge sticks out like a sore thumb. All of these can turn a new healer off of healing. There aren’t many of us to start with!

It adds up to a vicious circle in which there’s no incentive to communicate in PUGs. As in random five mans you’re unlikely to see these people regularly. As in random five mans it’s easy to believe you needn’t be loyal to anything but your character’s gear, for various excuses from improving it for guildruns or because you have something to prove. As in random five mans the atmosphere can be of distrust, which increases the chances to wipe when no-one’s healing the tank, and then snipe at each other with Blame Bullets. Frankly, I’ve found that people are grateful and relaxed if you run groups saying there’ll be oodles of communication.

Communication is the foundation of relationships. By not engaging in it any more than necessary healers distance themselves from possible ‘relationships’ in game – be they new friendships or just networking for team members. We should never, ever forget how to socialise in a game we play with other people.

If that’s not incentive enough consider this. Cataclysm is going to challenge us in ways Wrath wasn’t meant to. Healers may face changes to mana and even role setup. We’re going to need to communicate. It may come as a shock; falling into apathetic and uncommunicative habits now is signing our characters’ – and WoW’s – death warrants.

Crucial tweaks to the LFD system – like cross-realm friends lists – would encourage us all to communicate better. Whether or not that happens we can all take responsibility now, in content we might be bored of. Take fresh interest in ‘healing’ the foundations – just by putting a bit more effort in. For The Cataclysm!

I’m not whining; there are positive cases and it’s not all bad. I’m genuinely concerned. Question is -what do you think? Have you noticed a difference in communication or has it not been too bad where you are? Do you think this could turn into a longterm problem or am I doomsaying? Do you think we’ll be flexible enough to adapt out of bad habits?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image2 originally by Tim Trueman @ Flickr

Matt, Slayer of Kings

Matt, Slayer of Kings

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So much weight and pressure off my shoulders. Arthas was taken down on 10s. Now that I’ve seen the entire fight from beginning to end, I’ve got a better idea on how to handle stuff on 25s and what calls to make. Took about 12 hours of learning in total, I think. The hardest part for myself personally was coordinating Defiles and Valks. I wasn’t sure whether to play the Defile position first or Valk positions first. But I figured quickly that the Defiles were the more threatening of the two.

Go figure. Our first kill was done without a Shaman. It wasn’t the most optimal group make up, but I wanted to go with players who happened to be available at the time and zero in for a kill.

Group

Disc Priest (Me)
Resto Druid
Holy Paladin
Death Knight (tank)
Death Knight (DPS)
Shadow Priest (DPS)
Balance Druid
Hunter
Ret Paladin
Prot Paladin

I’m a little disappointed that I never got a chance to see the inside of Frostmourne. From what I heard, there was zero difficulty.

There are a few things I do want to shore up though on that final phase. The first two times they swooped in, I called for DPS on them from the Shadow Priest and the Balance Druid. In hindsight, I’m not sure if that was the most effective play. After the second set of explosions, we opted to spread out and rely on defensive cooldowns with the 3 Divine Guardian specced paladins and Divine Hymns. Once Arthas approached 14%, I just called for all out nukes on him and forget the ads. Once he hit 12%, vent exploded and erupted in cheers since we knew we had it.

So what dropped?

2 x Valius, Gavel of the Lightbringer

Yeah. Two healing maces. Does anyone else find that ironic that the first weapons that drop for my guild on Lich King happen to be two healing maces?

Anyway, LFM for Lich King on 25?

In Which I Attempt to Bring Order to Chaos

Lich King attempts. Recruiting. Thick skin. Compromising principles. It’s been a while since I last wrote about my guild and I don’t know where to begin.

The Lich King

We’re getting better. With every attempt, we last seconds longer. Phase 1 and 2 have been all but mastered. I play Discipline during the encounters and focus on Infest prevention. At the moment, we’re struggling with breaking through the Defile and Valk phases. Some of these defiles have been absolutely spectacular. It’s difficult for us to set our stuns and slows around the valks though since we just don’t seem to know who is available and who isn’t. Both 10 man groups have also reached Arthas and are working on him as well. One of them managed to reach the second transition phase. If we can just carry that experience and that momentum into 25s, then I expect we’ll see him down soon enough.

In order to do that though, we need to hit that consistent roster. Unfortunately, we don’t have that. I’ve gone on a fairly massive recruiting spree lately. Some of them stick around, others join and then disappear after a week. When our A team roster is here, then we should be able to hit it. Sadly, this is the time of year where real life just manages to slap everyone and the face and show them who is the boss. I got some players that are moving. I got some players who on the injured reserve. Others can’t seem to show up because of a variety of reasons. I suppose I should be glad that we’ve been able to field raids at all.

Compromising Principles

You may wish to check out the Bossy Pally’s musings about a recent recruit before coming back here. Not exactly one of our star hires, but recruiting is extremely tough right now at this time of the year. From what I’ve seen, most players are either looking for hard mode guilds or are just starting to work their way into ICC. This is exactly the same thing we saw during the tail end of Burning Crusade as most guilds were either hard at work on Black Temple, Hyjal, and Sunwell or were just getting their feet into Karazhan, Gruul’s and Magtheridon. Guilds that were in Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep kept folding simply because there just weren’t enough raiders within that raiding bracket. As it stands right now, it doesn’t seem as if there’s any players interested in the late ICC 25 normal raiding bracket.

Ideally, when it comes to players, you want them to possess these three following qualities:

  • Skills
  • Gear
  • Respect

In most cases, players only come with 2 of them.

Skills: The thing about skills is that players will either get better or show zero signs of improvement. You can give them all the theorycrafting, have them watch all the videos, and read all the material. This doesn’t guarantee any improvement at all whatsoever. I call them dead-end players because there’s nothing more that can be done for them. If you want to push on and succeed in later raids, they need to be cut in favor of someone else who is better.

Gear: A lack of gear problem can be easily fixed. It requires players to take an active role and do what they can in farming for badges or getting their gear crafted. When they do come into raids, any holes in their gear can be plugged in appropriately. The problem? You can’t take an undergeared player into Lich King and expect super positive results. It takes time to reduce that gear gap to an acceptable level. These players I take in and have them brought on early bosses of ICC before swapping them out accordingly.

Respect: Sigh. I’m guilty of turning a blind eye to stuff that goes on in guild chat. I don’t like it and it’s not particularly something I’m proud of. But it doesn’t mean I won’t step in if it gets too far. I’ve got principles of my own. And yet, there are times where I have to temporarily shelve them for the sake of getting a raid going. Does that make me an inherently evil person? I don’t know. But my number 1 priority and mandate has always been to get a successful raid going. Sometimes I’ll play with the nicest people and they’re awesome personalities to boot. But they just can’t hit the benchmarks or performance targets I set. So what can I do? I don’t want to hold back 24 other people no matter how nice and courteous some player is. At the end of the day, we’re all about killing bosses.

Don’t misinterpret that as an unwillingness to take action. I’m quite capable of ejecting players when things get out of hand or go too far. What’s different is that my level of tolerance is arguably far greater than most players.

Thick skin

Players need more of this. I see some of the stuff that’s said in different chat channels and it’s like “Really? Of all things, that sets you off?”. I don’t know. Another possibility is that I could be an extremely insensitive jerk. But as a GM, I’ve got to know where and when to pick my battles accordingly. I don’t like having to deal with players who come complaining to me over every little thing. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened. In most cases, players are strong and able to stand up to themselves. No GM wants to deal with baby sitting problems and resolving conflicts in raids. Those are bad problems to have. Good problems to have are issues like deciding who gets to go in raids, which boss to take out, which tactics to use and so forth.

Human resource problems between players? Arguably the worse thing to deal with in the world.

What’s worse is that when there are issues between two players that get escalated by both sides. I attribute that mostly to an ego problem. No party is willing to stand down or lose face. If ego was taken out of the equation, I’d guarantee like 95% of problems would stop before they reached a breaking point. I took a course on policing years ago and one of the chapters was on crisis management. Police officers routinely deal with all sorts of people on a daily basis. There were some important lessons I learned in that class which I’ve managed to carry over into the whole GM thing.

We’ve been bleeding players right now and we’ve hit another rebuilding phase. Some have left due to work or lack of interest. The guild’s at a crossroads right now. My plans for the future have been to carry on into Cataclysm. I face a lot of internal pressure right now, mostly from myself. I want Arthas dead as soon as possible. There are days where I start doubting myself and my own capabilities. Everyone keeps telling me the same thing about having faith and things will get better. It doesn’t always work that way. I can’t just sit back and expect things to get better. I have to work hard for it and attract the right players. Sometimes a little luck helps.

Now I just have to find me some DPS players and healers. It ain’t just for the short term. Players in Icecrown will be auditioning for Cataclysm as well. I’ve got to go look for the long term players who buy into the system and are willing to commit.

I wish Syd was around. She’d always know what to do or what to say. I imagine she’d say something along the lines of “Just listen to yourself” and “You already know the answers and what to do”.

Hope for the PvP Healer

Hope for the PvP Healer

If you’re like me (and frankly, you might not be, but I hope you’ll keep reading), you enjoy a good amount of some world PvP.  Beyond Wintergrasp and the Storm Peaks dailies phase, I’m talking about moments like these:

“Oh sh**! STUPID [insert class]”

“What happened? You get ganked?”

“Yeah, I’m just farmin’ [insert mat]…”

“Where are you?”

“I’m out in Sholazar Basin.”

“On the way.”

…and after 20 minutes, you’re in a real world 5v5, 7v9, 20v17, whatever! You can Rebirth, you can Lay on Hands, you can rez at your corpse.  It’s a “No Holds Barred” cage match.  At least, I think that’s the reference.  Wrestling, right?  Kidding.  Anyway, my point is that I’m an avid fan of PvP.  It’s not my main focus, but I certainly spend a decent amount of time in it.

I love PvP, and I hate a skilled rogue.

Now, not because I think they’re OP, but because when a rogue is good, it’s near impossible to survive.  Again, let me say that I’m meaning this more as a compliment and not a QQ thread.  With that “rogue ego stroke”, I’m grateful that an announcement was made (I know, it was back in March) with regard to what we’ve come to call the “stunlock”:

Rogue burst is also scary today because they can deliver it while a target is chain stunned. We’ve also said that’s not a particularly fun place to be (for attacker or defender) and we need to shift rogue defenses away from short-duration immunities (which includes the stuns) and more towards being able to stand toe to toe with other classes a little better.

In a one-on-one standpoint, this was nigh-impossible to survive.  With a Cheap Shot, Kidney Shot, Blind chain, I’ve been forced to just sit and watch my health go from 100% to 0% in a matter of seconds.  Before you all “LoL L2Trinket” me, trust me, I’ve done it.  Like I said, a skilled rogue is a nightmare.

So, in the Rogue Preview put out, this lovely morsel is given:

In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.

Obviously, the intent is to make a rogue tougher to kill, but I look at this from a healer’s standpoint: fewer stuns means more chances for us to survive.

Cataclysm is going to bring about a lot of changes, and we all know the constant struggle to balance PvP and PvE.  Since I’m a fan of both, I’m excited and scared of what the future will bring to the table.

How do you feel about the upcoming changes and how they’ll affect you in the arena/battleground?  Rogue feedback is welcome as well!

 

Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Lodur Abides

It Came from the P.U.G.: The Lodur Abides

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

So we’ve had one hell of a couple weeks haven’t we? I know I was busy with talk of addons and macros but more importantly, last week we had the Shaman class changes. Don’t worry I won’t gush about it, there will be plenty of time for that later.  For today I’d like to share with you the latest in my P.U.G stories.

Tuesday I logged back in a couple hours after the raid to get my auction house items up and then do my daily heroic. It is about 2 am est at this point which is my normal heroic time. That night however I get Heroic Culling of Stratholme. Now I haven’t done CoS since they updated it with the fast forward button. We start out and I take a look at the group, bear tank decently geared, shadow priest and warlock ok geared and a fury warrior. To give you an idea the sp and lock were hovering around a 4k gear score, the fury warrior was just about 5k and the bear was almost at 6k.

It should be a quick run right? I forgot that you could talk to Chromie and port right there now, so the tank and twoDPS start before I get there (D’oh!), but they don’t die. I show up and we blow through the first two bosses and their respective waves, and head into the town hall. We down the first wave and head upstairs, the next group spawns and the fury warrior goes down. I look around and notice that the tank was still sitting downstairs. I heal the hell out of the priest and lock and eventually the tank comes upstairs and wrangles everything. I quickly rest the warrior and the tank apologizes and says hit a massive lag spike. It’s ok it happens so no harm no foul. We get through the hallway and kill the third boss, and then the tank DC’s. The warrior freaks out “should we wait? the timer’s running out”

The priest pipes up “we can probably 4 man it, the healer’s good. As long as he’s ok with it that is. “

I say sure, set my focus macros and head off careening for the gauntlet. What happens is the fury warrior and I both wind up tanking. I just keep getting aggro from healing and apparently he only had dps specs (fury and arms caught me off guard). We tear through the gauntlet and make it to the corrupter. I frost shock and start healing. Corrupter goes down and chat starts up again.

Priest ” told you we’d be fine.”

Warrior “wow, that was cool, but shouldn’t we find a tank for the last boss?”

Me “pfft, I got this we’ll be fine”

I run in aggro Mal’ganis and immediately drop Earth Elemental. Toss an earth shield on the elemental and start healing. The group manages their aggro and the elemental tanks Mal’ganis for the entire fight. We end successfully and there are three very excited people in party with me

Warrior “that was seriously awesome, I don’t think I’ve seen something like that before”

Priest “thank you for that, most fun I’ve had in a while”

Warrior “yeah never realized shaman could do that”

Me “np, had a blast myself. “

Everyone parts ways and I have a huge shit-eating-grin on my face. Late night tanks are still hard to find, getting one to stick around when the instance is almost over is even tougher. Being able to finish the run, and have people have a blast while doing it is priceless to me. I play this game to have fun and honestly nights like this are some of my favorite moments. I get to do something out of the ordinary, and get to make some people happy. All in all a good night I’d say.

As some of you know, I’m big on community. I like helping members of the community out, so when someone approaches me and asks for a shout out, I’ll look it over and if it doesn’t seem bad I’ll go ahead and give it a push. So a moment of your time if you please. This one is a favor for a friend’s friend. Ginny who did the lovely artwork for my Dwarf Shaman and the artwork featured in my spells and totems article on wow.com asked if I would be so kind as to help spread word of her friend’s attempt to raise money for charity. This is from will draw 4 food who is attempting to raise money to donate to the Jake Wetchler foundation. The foundation’s focus is the research and treatment of pediatric cancer.  Their main site should be done in may so feel free to stop by and take a gander.

That’s it for today folks.

Do you have any interesting pug stories? Anything fun you did this week?

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Image courtesy of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Gramercy Pictures and the Cohen brothers.