Dear Ruby Sanctum: How Not To Be A Raid Encounter

Dear Ruby Sanctum: How Not To Be A Raid Encounter

Failraid

Last week I talked about what I thought the Ruby Sanctum had to live up to. I reminisced about the encounters that made Wrath’s raiding scene fun for me. Thanks for chipping in with your thoughts too folks – feel free to keep them coming and do the same this week. I’ll never forget my own favourites and if the Ruby Sanctum manages to come close to them then it’s on fire.

… Sorry about that one.

Anyway. This week I’m intrepidly heading back down memory lane to the dark alleys where the worst encounters lurk. The ones that caused me to daydream about throwing the computer out of the window whilst we recovered from yet another wipe. Or the ones that encouraged me to try taping my cat’s paw to the keyboard while I put the kettle on, because we just had to get through the encounter to get to the Fun Stuff ™. Worst of all, the encounters that should be truly inspiring but one design flaw let it – and me – down.

Beware, Ruby Sanctum. Here there be monsters. Quite literally. If you find yourself amongst them you’ve Done It Wrong.

 

5. Faction Champions – Let me make one thing clear: if I want to PvP I’ll go to a battleground or do some arenas. It’s great that they took the Priestess Delrissa fight from TBC a step further. That was chaotic fun. The ‘fun’ part translated badly into a situation involving 10-25 people, many of whom (including myself) are not ardent PvPers with a desire to hone PvP tactics. I’ve found that trying to organise (or be organised for) PvP-style opponent management when the 9-24 people you’re working with are either loyal PvEr’s or PUGers is just a headache. Don’t do it again, Blizz.

4. Lich King – I know I know. It’s the last fight of the expansion, of course it’s special, right? Special isn’t always good. First oversight: the quality of the dialogue between Arthas and Tirion before the fight. It’s frankly shoddy. If I’m being crude, most of it also has homoerotic undertones that I’m sure Blizzard didn’t intend. Go and read it if you don’t believe me. A ‘skip intro’ button as with Deathbringer Saurfang would have been really useful here. And if I’m being picky – might as well be – Arthas’s girth makes me think he’s only really a threat to pies.

But my main problem with this encounter was its mechanics. If you ask for tactics in any Wrath encounter at least one person will say “Don’t stand in the fire”. It is a joke but people say it through pursed lips. They’re tired of it being the basic tactic for most fights. The Lich King encounter is just that: you’ll be fine if you don’t stand in the fire black goo and move at the right times. Sadly, this really makes it the fight designed to finish Wrath off.

3. Sindragosa – I included Sapphiron in my top five last week because when the fight mechanics were fresh when we first edged into his lair. That didn’t mean I wanted a near-identical fight later in the game. Not only are the mechanics a rip-off but the boss looks the same (though has undergone a gender change since we saw him in Naxx). Sindragosa’s fight mechanics do have a different twist to Sapphiron’s. I just resent peddling the wheel like a good guinea pig to get through phases 1 and 2 in order to reach that fun part of the fight which would probably kill my group so I could do it all again. I can’t understand why having players repeat two long phases full of easy mechanics because the fun, difficult and adrenaline-inducing stuff is squeezed into a mad 30 seconds at the end got past – or to – the PTR.

2. Malygos – This encounter has a lot going for it. I quite enjoyed the large blue dragon flying around the room taunting during wipe recovery. I mean, for an arrogant dragon, it sounded believable. The fight mechanics were interesting up to a point – working with sparks provided an extra layer of challenge and the whole of phase 2 was particularly fun given the first character I took to Malygos was a melee DPS.

What? I’ve just praised it to the heavens? But wait, this encounter does deserve to be high on this list. Why? Phase 3. Partly because whilst being dropped on to a dragon looks cool, I don’t appreciate a game effectively saying “right! Quick time event. You need to already know and/or mind-read which dragon abilities to use while moving in 3d space – and we mean moving, ‘cos there are fires to not stand in!” But even that isn’t the real problem. That’d be the lights. There are too many in phase 3. They flash. They move. The pretty colours aren’t pretty so much as neon. I know people who get headaches from them and I’ve been in raids which have wiped shortly after the healer said “arghargh the lights.”

1. Razuvious“Bring the player not the class” was Blizzard’s tagline regarding raiding in WotLK. A raid with any composition of classes can defeat any encounter? Great idea. So why did I often spend hours fishing whilst waiting for my Naxx25 groups to try to find two shadow priests for Insdtructor Razuvious? And then why did many of those groups collapse like a pie on Arthas’ plate after we wiped once on Razuvious? Because the hidden clause was that not just that we need two priests – and until it was hotfixed you need two with +hit gear – but to narrow it down further any group needed two who know how to mindcontrol-juggle-tank. Razuvious was an interesting fight mechanic spoiled by a deviation from Wrath’s goals, which would have just been more fun for everyone if any class could have stepped up to the orb in 10 and 25 man.

So providing the Ruby Sanctum doesn’t force us to PvP under a disco ball as a raid composed of 10 paladins – after a dodgy scene we’ll cringe at fifty times – it should be fine. Bring on the fire.

What do you think – what are your very worst memories of any WoW encounters, and why?

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.

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

In perusing WoW.com on my normal Monday morning shift, I tend to always follow Spiritual Guidance, usually when it’s headed up by Dawn Moore. Although I tend to go back and forth on my agreement with her, I’ve noticed that she’s taken an approach to encouraging people to participate more in PvP.  YES!  With the thrill of this expansion coming to a close, there are a variety of ways to continue to enjoy this game, one of which is PvP. 

Why am I so excited for this, you ask? Well, I’m an avid PvP’er. One of my favorite things to do is grab some guildies, and utilize the Random Battleground Queue until I’m blue in the face.  I particularly love Warsong Gulch, which makes me pretty excited for the upcoming “Twin Peaks” battleground.  Here’s the poop on what you stand to gain from becoming more active in PvP:

  • Increased Wintergrasp / Vault of Archavon Time: People consistently complain about how Wintergrasp is broken on their server.  Although I agree to a certain extent, a team of skilled, team-oriented PvP’ers has the potential to overcome any short-comings (**COUGH** Scale vehicle damage with Tenacity **COUGH**).
  • Off-set Gear: Although I don’t miss the days of “Welfare Epics” by any means, I am a fan of utilizing some PvP pieces until you get that PvE piece you want.  Sure, resilience does no good in PvE, but you can use that Wrathful Gladiator’s Cloak of Salvation until you get the frosties for your Drape of the Violet Tower or you get that Greatcloak of the Turned Champion to finally drop off of 25-man Saurfang.
  • Deeper Class Knowledge: By starting to play your class in a different environment, you start to learn things you may not have considered before.  The ability to change your focus and style as a player gains a lot of respect from someone like me.

However…

Although Dawn does a great job of laying out the basics, let me make it clear that I think it’s a bad idea to grind out Emblems of Triumph to get your PvP gear.  Sure, if you have them sitting your bag, by all means, spend them.  I know from experience how frustrating it is to go into battlegrounds wearing nothing but your PvE gear.  Let’s take a look at what you stand to gain by going the “Honor” route:

Gear Progression

First and foremost, I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of getting to spend my honor points on a new piece of gear.  I’m currently gearing up my Resto PvP set for my Shaman, and although I’ll toss some Triumphs at it, if I have them, most of my gear is coming from Honor.  I liken it to working out hard in a gym and seeing the results build, instead of sitting plugged into one of those ab-shock deals while I watch the Blackhawks annihilate the Flyers in Game 5 (I had to). You feel the hard work, hence the payoff is more rewarding.

Second, as you add pieces over time, you realize which stats you need and which ones you don’t need.  When I was building my Discipline PvP set, I initially went for mostly +Crit pieces so I could proc Inspiration and Divine Aegis.  I realized halfway through that I was burning mana like an oil spill from an irresponsible foreign oil company. I switched it up and started getting more MP5 and Spirit on my gear.  Especially if you’re a healer, you have the choice of some caster DPS gear (except for the Paladin), which will be laden with more haste and crit.  Once you discover your play style, you’ll figure how to tweak your gear.  If you grind dungeons for all the badges for the Furious set, you may find that you’re too heavy on a stat that doesn’t do you much good, or that you’re lacking in one that you really need.

An option to consider while getting battle-ready is checking out the crafted pieces that are available.  They’re relatively cheap to make, and you’ll probably be helping out someone’s profession in the meantime.  They all involve more than just the standard Head/Chest/Legs/Gloves/Shoulders combination.  You can use these to get your boots, bracers or waist piece squared away. Here’s a couple examples:

Frostsavage Battlegear – Although it lacks any kind of mana regen, it still is better than nothing.

Eviscerator’s Battlegear – Obviously for melee classes like the Druid and Rogue.

Ornate Saronite Battlegear – The Healadin equivalent.

These give you good starting points to bounce off from.  Remember, you’re generally focusing on different stats than a normal PvE set.

A Different Style

Have you ever played one spec for SO long, and then decided to switch it up and play a completely different spec?  Say you went from Resto to Balance, or from Holy to Shadow, or Resto to Elemental. Is it the same playstyle?  Obviously not.  Sure, it may not be much of an adjustment, but think of PvP in the same manner. 

On my Shaman, I know very well that I’ll be dropping different totems depending upon who I’m facing.  I switch up my weapon imbues as Enhancement, and I pay much closer attention to my Earthbind Totem, Grounding Totem, and Stoneclaw Totem.  Those get little to no attention in raids.

On my Discipline Priest, I learned the ability to turn and burst an opponent, when I’m used to healing.  I started to utilize different heals like Binding Heal in order to keep myself and a teammate alive. 

If you’re stuck in randoms just doing what you normally do (I call the “Mental AFK”), then you’re not learning the intracacies of your class and spec, especially with how easy it is to outgear heroics now.  Go through your spec talent by talent and see what will help you and what won’t.  A talent you worship in PvE may not be worth it in PvP.  It’s okay to toss it to the side to get a little more utility.

Become Team-Oriented

Contrary to popular belief, not all PvP is based on killing the other player.  You may be able to put out some good DPS, but do you know how to peel a melee off of a healer?  Do you know how to pinpoint the enemy healer and not just kill him but lock him down so he’s useless?  Do you know what strengths your class has against certain other classes?  Do you have the ability to support the rest of the team, instead of trying to be highest DPS or get the most Killing Blows?

That’s what the benefit of actually being in the battleground gives you.  You end up learning that in order to hold bases in Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, you have to stand on or near the flag/node.  Fighting in the roads generally does nothing.  You also learn the value of defending those nodes, instead of just being part of the roaming Zerg group. 

These lessons all come with time, but I think it’s imperative that you learn them while you’re in the thick of it.  Once you learn how much easier it is to take out a group once the healer is down, you’ll encourage others to do the same.  You’ll figure out that there will be players that try to peel you off the flag in Arathi Basin so a Rogue or Druid can ninja the node.

You’ll simply become a stronger player, not only in PvP but in PvE as well.  PvP can help you avoid tunnel vision and enable you to help out other parts of the raid when you feel you can.  There’s only so much you can learn from doing heroics and raids over and over.  Spend the time in some battlegrounds, and I think you’ll be amazed what you can learn.

**Disclaimers: No, I’m not a 2400 Arena player. Yes, I’ve been PvPing since Burning Crusade. Yes, I understand there are exceptions to everything. Yes, I’m a Blackhawks fan of the fair-weather nature. No, I don’t think it’s too soon to insult BP for their pollution of our waters.**

 

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

 

 

 

Lodur’s Week In Review

Lodur’s Week In Review

A couple weeks ago we heard that AVR/AVRE has an expiration date. Simply put the addon just did too much by allowing a player to draw essentially in 3D on top of the in game environment. This really drove home how much players respond to visual cues. However not everyone is a visual based player. How about those that rely on sound for their notifications?

I started thinking about this last week. I have been using Deus Vox Encounters as my boss mod of choice for a little bit and have grown pretty accustomed to it. Last week though, new requirements for a particular fight called for BigWigs to be installed over any other boss mod. I’ll get into the why of that in just a second. Making this switch really clued me in to how much I actually draw from audio cues. As a healer, and a raid officer, my attention is always in a thousand different directions at once. My own healing, watching where I’m standing and paying attention to the boss fights, but also watching all my healers and the other raider to make sure people are doing what they are doing. Even with screen flashes, and emphasized bars / buttons etc, I can miss things. Well let me be honest here, I WILL miss things. You can only divide your attention so much before it is spread too thin. DXE allowed for custom sounds for all major and most minor events, allowing me to play a different sound for an incoming Infest or a Pending Defile. This way I wouldn’t have to look for an alert, but rather just listen for a sound. I play with most of the in game sounds turned pretty low unless a specific encounter calls for something different, so it made it easy to add another layer of my awareness to playing.

Enter BigWigs. BigWigs has been a pretty common standard among raiders for a while now. The mod is pretty robust and allows you a lot of different choices in your notifications. The reason it became standard for raider was how it alerts you to defile. If you enable a mode called super enhanced, it will actually have a voice counting down the time to cast audibly. Some folks were having trouble with defile and moving away from it, so BigWigs enhanced mode was the answer, and to be honest I do really like that part of it.

This leaves me with two boss mods installed. I tried running this entire last week with only BigWigs and I just can’t do it. I tried, but all it did was make me realize how much I rely on those audio cues to keep my own rear alive while watching everyone else.  It does not have the same depth in the library of sounds that DXE does. Where I could literally have dozens of sounds in DXE, there is only a limited number in BigWigs. I tried adding new sounds by modifying the .lua files as well, but found that to be nigh impossible with BW, but it was something I’ve been able to do with DXE. So, for every encounter BUT LK, I use DXE. For LK I swap BigWigs on. Now if only DXE could do me a super enhanced countdown mode I’d be super super happy.

I’m sure you’re wondering what today’s post image has to do with my post.  This last week I realized exactly how much I love having a ret paladin and a boomkin in raid. I am a haste junkie, there is no denying it. I love the stat and its ability to give me 1.5 second (or lower) cast time chain heals. If you were to roll my character’s sleeves up, it is likely that you would find the tell-tale signs of haste abuse. Before we would rarely have one, and more commonly neither, but recently it has become much more common place to have both in our groups. Improved Moonkin Form gives all players in range of the aura 3% haste as does Swift Retribution these stack as a multiplicative effect with Wrath of Air Totem. With my current haste total, either of these combined with the totem pushes me to the haste cap, and let me tell you it is addicting. The added bonus for me is that our fairly recent new hire and boomkin Friskme is one heck of a guy. Good sense of humor, good numbers, knows how to handle himself in a fight, and as of recent has become my corner buddy on BQL and the sparkle council. We’ve gotten used to each others movements during the encounters and know exactly how to shift around each other without vocalizing. Also, he’s damn fast on the innervate button when I need it, and that makes me happy. I’ve always enjoyed the company of the druids in <Unpossible>, and Frisk fits right in.

Last but not least, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I have had a wonderful idea for a new project that a lot of people seem to be behind. Come Cataclysm I’m starting a fun guild up as a side project. No, I’m not leaving Unpossible, that will always be my home. Instead the guild I want to make will be more fun and casual with a slight character quirk. I’ll get more into it at a later date, but for now I need your input. There have been several choices as to where to start this little party, and so far there are 4 major contenders.

What Server Should the Guild be Started on?

  • Other (44%, 8 Votes)
  • Earthen Ring (33%, 6 Votes)
  • Nerzhul (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Feathermoon (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Zul'jin (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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So if you think I should start it up on one of those please feel free to vote on it. If you think I should start it on a different server, vote for other and let me know what realm and why in the comments.

Well that’s it for this past week, how about you? Do anything fun? Find out anything interesting?

Special thanks to @immamoonkin for this week’s article image. Thank you!

Will Ruby Sanctum Compare To Wrath’s Best Bosses?

Will Ruby Sanctum Compare To Wrath’s Best Bosses?

shrine

I’m one of these weird people who doesn’t read up on content before it’s released. I like a surprise. So the Ruby Sanctum’s got me thinking: is it going to be a patch on my favourite bosses from Wrath? What are my favourite bosses?

After all, I am looking forward to the Sanctum. In about the same way one might look forward to a shopping centre opening up nearby.

I’m vaguely aware it’ll open sometime in the near future and when it does I’ll probably make plans to go trundle round it immediately. But I’m expecting it to be just like any other local Sanctum/raid shopping centre. There’ll be modern lighting trying to hide the fact that the decor is all too familiar. The staff will breath smoke at you as soon as look at you, and their uniforms will look like they’ve been stolen from another shopping centre and dyed a different colour. Oh, and the wares will be updates of last month’s fashion, alluring only inasmuch as being on buy-one-get-one-free and so must be good offers.

The Sanctum’s got a lot to live up to compared to my favourite bosses in Wrath – let me show you.

5. Thaddius. For those who met him when TBC wasn’t yet a distant memory, Thaddius was a well-timed and comforting reassurance that it wasn’t all Big Change. That some fight mechanics had been passed down through the expansion; Mechano Lord Capacitus’ polarity charges could be a fun challenge back in TBC days and here they were again. Better yet, with a twist that put an emphasis on teamwork and introduced raiders to the idea that no, bosses now really do have that much health – and by the way: if you get it wrong you kill your group. Besides, it’s a good sign for a fight mechanic when PUGers regularly spend half a raid session arguing that their nigh-identical method of doing it is better. I was grateful that this wasn’t one of the many tactics dragged out time and again through Wrath – it gave me memories of a unique fight in Naxx.

4. Sapphiron. Bones rising from the floor to amass into a huge nitwibble-off dragon in your way. What better start to showing players the shape of future mechanics? Sapphiron was a really well constructed fight, and well placed within Naxx’s structure. He effectively compiled individual basics which raiders had encountered in earlier bosses in Naxx. Tactics such as moving to the correct place when targeted, a’la Grobbulus, or moving out of the nasty AoE, like Anub’s Insect Swarm. Back when it was a new encounter, moving around – for a long, endurance fight – was quite refreshing to me. I also have fond memories attached to Sapphiron: the first time my guild raided was at our first HerdMoot when we headed into Naxx. It was Sapphiron we found ourselves wiping on at 5 AM.

3. Mimiron. When we hit Mimiron he had a reputation which preceded him, and he didn’t let us down. He was the first four-phase fight in Wrath in which everyone had multiple roles, or at least different tasks to do. He also shared the responsibilities out a bit more evenly. Suddenly tanks had different things to tank at different times. Melee had responsibility past stabbing and kicking things. For many raid groups, he gave a ranged DPS the chance to prove that they’re not all paper (so long as they have a good healer behind them). And for us healers, he gave us the chance to prove we can be flexible. For better or worse, Mimiron was one of the first fights in which healing on the run with twitch-reflexes was showcased. Its originality made it fun.

2. Valithria. I’d not considered as a healer that I rarely had a direct combat role with a boss, nor how this affected my fulfilment as a raider. I’m a healer – therefore my fulfilment should come from making sure other people stay alive so they can do the dirty work, right? So I thought. Until my healers and I were lumped with the responsibility of dealing with Valithria’s health – even if that was to make it go up rather than down. It’s a long deserved fight mechanic and is balanced perfectly: no-one feels left out, as the tanks and DPS have an increasingly manic (and as I understand it, fun) time of keeping the adds in control, and the healer roles are not only varied but accessible for any healing class.

1. Yogg Saron. Tentacles. Many-eyed blob in the floor. Sanity loss. Need I say more? This is the most unique fight in WoW. Yes, in terms of fight mechanics, it’s a “this is your final test, what have you learnt up to now?” There were fires clouds to not stand in, there were adds to control in a certain way, there were target priorities for DPS. But it didn’t feel like a final test: every wipe felt like a few minutes of unbridled, chaotic fun. Even going into the brain room and coming out before going mad, while a ‘do this before X time’ mechanic, wasn’t as annoying if someone failed; it was almost funny for people to miss the chance to come out of the brain room and so go mad. No other fight has had my Herd raiding to the sound of “Tentacles!” and “If I were a Deep One“. A pure stroke of genius to incorporate Cthulhu mythos into WoW without it feeling forced or misplaced.

 

My main metric here was how much fun I had in a fight, regardless of how long it took to best. But most of these also did something unique or at least were the first of their type. The Ruby Sanctum has a tall order. We’ll see! Perhaps I’ll have a pleasant surprise when I’m panicking that the fire’s getting away and I should be standing in it or be lost in time and space.

I am amused that those bosses aren’t a fair representation of all of Wrath – I’ve left the bosses from Trial of the Crusader out in the cold, and there they can stay. While I was whittling this list down I was also compiling a list of the worst bosses. I have a feeling those will be harder to choose between … though I certainly know which luridly-lit fight tops that list. Perhaps I’ll share that list at a future date!

What do you think? What fights in Wrath have you particularly enjoyed – and why? They don’t have to be raid bosses, any encounter you remember having fun whilst redecorating the walls with your character’s innards – let us know. Do you agree with my choices – or are you sitting there asking why on earth anyone enjoyed Mimiron? Which encounters would you like to see a variant of in Catacylsm?

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 image originally by hawk684 @ Flickr
Guild Survival Guide: How to Apologize

Guild Survival Guide: How to Apologize

apologize

You screwed up big time. You’ve infuriated a good number of people. Whatever it is, you made a mistake and you need to own up to it.

The problem?

You’ve never really apologized to anyone in a game before. Something I’ve noticed when playing online video games is that egos can get in the way of someone apologizing. GMs and officers screw up. We’re not perfect and we do make mistakes. The least we can do is own up to it.

Step 1: Figure out what they want to hear

Do you know how you offended them? Are your listeners justified in how they feel if you were in their position? Keep in mind what would be going on through their head when deciding your respond.

Step 2: Has it been a long time?

The intensity of the resentment will scale depending on the length of time they’ve waited for you. That means your apology will need to scale accordingly.

Step 3: Can it be made up?

It sounds cheesy, but see if there’s some way you can make it up to them. Try offering up some gold or buying them a gift. Offer to run them through an activity like an instance or a quest. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong when asking “Is there anything I can do to help you feel better about this?”

Step 4: Go full audio

A lot of communication and meaning is lost when typing messages to other people. At the very least, if you’re apologizing over a voice program, your sincerity and tone can help add to the strength of your message.

Step 5: Be sincere and straight to the point

“Look, I screwed up. I’m sorry. What I did was wrong. I know I can’t really make up for what happened but I will take full responsibility for it. This might not make up for it, but it would mean a lot if you’d accept this item/gold/activity from me. It’s a minor gesture, true. You’re pissed and I get it. I will do my best to make sure it won’t happen again. If there’s anything else I can do to make things cool between up, please let me know.”

Step 6: Give them the opportunity to speak

Don’t say anything and give them their chance to say something. Listen and don’t offer up any excuses or explanations for why you did the things you did unless you’re asked to. Once they’re done saying their peace, apologize again.

It might not fix everything. The apology might even get rejected but at least you’ve shown the willingness to take responsibility for your screw ups. It is up to them whether or not to accept and you have to be prepared for the worst case scenario. If that player was a big asset to you and your guild, they might just leave over such a grievous offense. You can’t win every battle.