When Good Enough isn’t Good Enough

With Conquest taking down Throne of the Four Winds and Theraliona on heroic mode, we find ourselves now at 7/13 hard modes for progression (We could also greatly use another Rogue or Warlock).

At that progress level, I’ve had to make slight adjustments to our recruiting requirements. Namely, gear that was good enough to get through normal mode bosses such as players with a mix of crafted epics, reputation epics and other blue heroic quality gear just won’t be enough anymore. With the way the lockouts presently work, we only tackle heroic bosses. There aren’t that many normal mode bosses that we can really take on lest it compromise our progression. We generally don’t downgrade heroic bosses to normal because we usually take them down within a couple of attempts.

Because of this, we’ve raised our gear requirements from an average item level of 345+ to 356+. Why? Because we can’t spare the time and effort to go back through and “carry” players to get gear upgrades. Our directive is to go progressive and look forward. Granted, because of this, there’s going to be a slight gap. Players that draw in will continue to get to gear and I also need to take care that the players who are sitting on the side get rotated in the week after so they can get practice and shots at gear as well.

But how can I get better if I don’t get to raid?

Therein lies the kicker. As a player on the outside looking in, that player needs to do well enough to draw into the lineup. From there, they’re off to the races. But as a raid progresses through the different bosses, the minimum requirements will go up. What may have passed as above average months ago may not be good enough now. If there was one thing I missed about having access to separate 10 man raid instances, it would be the capability to gear players on the side during the weekend. The success of pickup raids on vary wildly from server to server. I get lucky joining 5/6 clears in Blackwing Descent on my alt Ret Paladin. Not everyone is so fortunate in getting in.

Player patience

The other thing I notice is that player patience drops the moment we take something down on farm. I know my guys tolerate the first 20 – 40 learning wipes. Once we get a fight down once or twice, people get agitated if we wipe more than 2 or 3 times. Wiping more than that is inevitable if we pull in several newer players who haven’t taken down the fight yet (much less seen it at work). I counter this by placing them in the most easiest and least stressing of roles. I don’t try to switch up the tanks unless it’s extremely urgent (such as a missing tank). I’ll place new and less experienced healers on raid healing duties until they see enough of the encounter for me to get them to specialize in certain positions (Tank healing, or kiter healing or tackling the stupid Rohash platform on heroic mode).

I face pressure from the veterans from trying to get through the stuff we’ve taken down on a timely fashion to get moving onto the stuff we haven’t seen.

On the other hand, I face pressure from the newer players who are also dying to get in on some of the action for loot and to see the encounter.

This new system makes it a little difficult to accommodate both. I’m glad those big nerfs are coming in 4.2. It’ll spur up alt and pickup runs again for sure.

The bottom line

Performance matters. Is it the only factor? No, of course not. But it still represents a significant portion.

You can be the nicest person on the planet and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

You can be the hottest guy/girl on the planet and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

You can have the best gear available and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

The bars on the DPS meters have a cutoff point where it becomes a liability to bring a player in. It’s up to that player to not be a liability. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stack the deck to help ‘em out or ask veterans to ease off the gas a little bit. It’s quite frustrating either way. I love the new lockout system and all. It’s freed up 3 hours of raiding that doesn’t have to be done, but it introduced an additional set of headaches.

With a 4.2 release but only weeks away, I struggle to find a line between straight progression to get as much down as we can or switch to gearing. If we go for the progression focus, I’m tempted to utilize lockouts to cut away the time. Right now, we’re operating on 3.5 hours for farm and 7 hours for progression. Basically, we spend our day 1 clearing to a progression boss and days 2 and 3 working on pulls, fine tuning and going through it completely phase by phase, minute by minute, attack by attack.

Heroic Nef is next. Could use some pointers.

Matticast Episode 20 – Cho’gall, Nefarian, and Top Tens

On Episode 20 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Cho’gall and Nef strats

- Top 5 Things You Should Be Prepared For.

- New Plus Heal Forums and  Our Latest Project.

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

 

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Topping Meters vs Assigned Role

Ask the healing community what they think about healing meters and you’ll get a varied response. Some people swear by them and attempt to dominate the healing charts or rank on fights through World of Logs (usually recent converts from DPS roles to healing). Other folks see them as a tool to measure spell usage and the overall feel of healing for a fight, not really caring what the overall numbers say.

Recently there has been a resurgence in the camp of people that evaluate healing based on nothing more than the number on meters and logs. While normally this is relegated to what I like to call “outsiders looking in”, or rather non-healers attempting to evaluate healing, it has become an increasing point of measurement amongst healers in Cataclysm. It is with that in mind that I bring up the age old question once again; what is more important,  topping meters or performing well in your assigned task?

Top O’the charts to ye

There are a group of players that care only about the numbers, and only care about how they rank in relation to one another. They have an inherit need to be the top dog, the big boss, the head honcho of the meters. This is because they equate larger numbers with success. For DPS there is some merit there, and having that competition between DPSers can help push your raid’s DPS to rather insane numbers. Sadly though, this doesn’t work for healers or tanks quite as well. Being concerned with topping the charts can lead to some unfortunate happenings.

The most notable effect is that people who tend to heal with the sole intent of hitting the top of the charts tend to run on E longer than other healers, and sooner. They waste more consumables and waste more raid resources like Innervates, or force earlier Mana Tides just to keep going. The wasting of resources can lead to trouble for other healers down the line, and can jeopardize the raid as a whole. A second effect is that you tend to snipe heals from other healers. This means an increase in over-healing and a waste of mana. Every time a healer snipes a heal from another healer, you’re basically denying them the effective healing for mana spent on whatever spell was about to land. Lastly, you have the potential to spread yourself too thin, which can result in a dead raid. Topping the meters on a wipe, well it’s still a wipe.

…narrow of purpose and wide of vision

Another group of players follows their assignments with slavish devotion. They latch on to their healing assignment, and even when they can see other people in need of help do not deviate. They put on healing blinders as it were. This can cause just as many problems as people who try to hog the healing glory. A tank healer may keep the tank alive, but may end the fight with a full mana bar, where other healers may have struggled and ended the fight with no mana and a list of dead that shouldn’t have been dead. The raid healer who focuses on nothing but the raid, but ignores the tanks could see a dead tank.

Locking yourself into one tiny aspect can turn you into a dead weight that brings the raid down with you. If you and your assignment are the last ones standing, and everyone else in the group is dead because you couldn’t deviate from the plan slightly or adjust, well you just doomed them all.

The Question, the answer, and the in-between

Would you rather 1. Follow your healing assignment or 2.  Show up at the top of the healing meters ?

I posed this very question on twitter to see what type of response I would get from the healing community. Seems like both sides of the coin are tainted so to speak doesn’t it? The question is in and of itself a trick. Both answers are wrong. Adhering to a narrow view of the raid can be as bad as trying to garner meter glory. I was pleased that almost everyone responded with the correct answer, adapt.

While healers shouldn’t be concerned with their placement on the meters so much as making sure they are putting out the healing relevant to their current raid content, they shouldn’t abandon their assignments and just do whatever they want. Raid leaders and healing leads assign people to certain tasks for reasons. Whether it is to coordinate defensive cooldowns on a fight or to make sure the healing load is even, they (hopefully) have the best intent for the group and know what they are talking about. That said,they expect you to adapt to the situation around you and help out as you can. Don’t try to be the hero, trust your teammates, but keep an eye out on what’s going on.

If your healing assignment is stable and you see a problem area that needs a little TLC, help. If you are in need of a little help in your task, ask for it. If you don’t agree with your assignment don’t ignore it outright, talk with the heal / raid lead about it and see if you can make a better plan. Our job as healers is to deal with some of the most difficult things the game has to offer. We have to adjust to fluctuating damage, mix ups, mistakes all while dodging fires, void zones, raid bosses, and rabid hockey fans. You have to stay on your toes and be aware, and be prepared to adapt.

Screw the meters, our job is to make sure that we worked as a team to keep the raid alive through the encounter as best we can. You do the task assigned to you, and once your stable and comfortable you branch out if you can and help sure up the sides. To give you a perfect example, we had an encounter where a raid cooldown went off early due to a miss-click. One of the other healers immediately stepped in and filled in out of his normal sequence for cooldowns to cover the miss-click, without being asked to. The healing team was able to adjust and it literally saved the encounter. It’s all about balance in the end. You do what you can to help out the raid without trying to be a hero. I encourage you to throw meters out the window and focus on survival, survival of the raid, of your assignment and of yourself. THAT is what you should be worried about. You show me a parse where you pulled 32k HPS on a H- Chimaeron wipe, and I’ll still show you a wipe. If people try to evaluate you purely on your meter rankings rather than looking at everything you do, ignore them.

The Gradual Shift to Inefficient Healing

I actually had to read this a few times to make sure I was reading it correctly. I swear, blue language happens to take a language on its own entirely. It’s like lawyerspeak but for gamers. This is a passage taken from the Firelands Q&A that was released a few days ago.

Q: It can be anticipated that mana regeneration and maximum mana will increase from gearing up with the new Firelands equipment. Isn’t there a possibility that healers can spam big heals again (and more quick heals) just like in WotLK? If so, is there any plan to handle this without class nerfs? – Whitewnd (KR)

A: As damage increases, healers will need to use their largest, most inefficient heals more regularly to keep up. That’s fine and was all part of the design. We just didn’t want players to opt out of mana regeneration too early in the content because then Spirit (and mana-related procs) on gear wouldn’t be attractive, and because we’d have to balance difficulty by making the tanks die in a couple of GCDs if not healed continually. Most progression-oriented healers still want large amounts of Spirit, often in every single slot. As they get more comfortable with their mana, they’ll be able to replace some of that Spirit with other stats, but the Spirit will still be valuable; more Spirit on a set piece for example might mean being able to use a different enchant or reforge on another piece.

This is still a much better place to be than we were with Lich King content, where mana stopped mattering in the first raid tier. Aside from the mana changes we’ve already made to Innervate, Mana Tide Totem and paladin heals, we don’t think an overall regen nerf is necessary.

The first two sentences pretty much gave it away. We started the expansion heavily relying on triage healing to get things done and to be as efficient as we could. Heal was extensively relied on as our filler spell (for Priests). Other healing classes had the same. Drawing back from the previous years and expansions, we knew that as encounters got increasingly difficult, our gear levels would rise with it. The only constant here is mana cost. The mana cost of Flash Heal stays the same whether we’re working on Tier 11 or Tier 15. So we’re seeing a trend where Heal is going to gradually be rotated out of our spell usage in favor of high impact, inefficient spells – Largely because of necessity. It appears that in Firelands onwards, mana neutral spells can’t even be considered anymore.

For example, during the first part of the expansion, I relied on Heal as my filler spell. I was always casting something on players where damage was expected. Now I’m relying mostly on Renew as a filler spell for Holy. I’m hoping healing in the final tiers of Cataclysm aren’t going to be as mind numbing or stressing as they were in Icecrown Heroic. With higher health pools across the board for everyone, we should still have some time to react to incoming damage. Instead of dying in 1-2 shots, players would die in 3-5 shots.

This appears to be part of the design intent (Sentence two). Rising gear levels means larger mana pools and larger secondary stats. We’ll have much more flexibility when it comes to stat allocation. Right now, we need around 2100~ Spirit to function. The rest of it goes to your Mastery, Haste or Crit (Whatever tickles your fancy). From Firelands PTR testing, we’re going to need a little more Spirit for sure to be do our jobs. We’ll have much more stats to move around though.

Have you seen the Discipline numbers on the PTR? 40000+ Divine Aegis crits and absorbs (stemming from the 200% bonus to crit instead of 150%). I wonder if stacking crit and mastery is the way to go. Decisions, decisions!

How to Own Your Trial Run Like a Champion

Been addicted to read the Game of Thrones series right now. Not watching the TV show just yet. I want to get through the books at least. Also, my hometown team of Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 17 years! Hockey has killed some of our raid nights with about 5 of us from Vancouver. We can still work and raid if it’s just the 5, but we could certainly use more players (DPS with off specs would be great).

Recruiting’s a bummer right now. Everyone that applies could be a stud or a dud. Today’s post is a story of how an undergeared player just strolled in and wrested a full time roster position into his grasp.

Step one: Getting In

At first glance, he didn’t have the best of gear. He sporting blue quality items. What sold us for the trial though was the application. One of our questions involved a spec explanation and what is done to maximize it. He lists the correct primary stat and then goes on to list exact DPS rotation and why it had to be modified due to additional factors like glyphs and secondary stat allocation. It’s easy enough to parrot the information that can be found on prominent community websites, but those typically demand precise gear levels before optimal equilibrium can be met. Most players applying to raiding guilds don’t meet that quite yet. A little explanation on the side helps. It’s an ideal world we live in where every player is expected to be optimal.

But, we don’t live in an ideal world. We adapt to what cards we’re dealt and make it look awesome.

Step two: The Trial Run

This is where the applicant shone. He had never seen any of these heroic encounters before first hand. But you don’t need previous experience to understand that stuff on the ground is generally bad, or to run to a specific location with a bad debuff. Stand out applicants pick up mechanics within one or two attempts and maintain a high level of consistency in play.

Absolutely nailed it. You know you’re off to a good start when no one calls a Rebirth on you because you didn’t die. If you don’t stand out negatively like that, you’re golden.

Step three: The Aftermath

Didn’t do so hot there? That’s tough. I daresay most guilds allow recruits additional time to get acclimated and comfortable. You might get a second or third shot later on where you can really rock their world. The line that annoys me the most as a recruiter is the “I don’t have enough gear to make an impact” argument.

Now, I get that.

But if gear level really was that low, they wouldn’t have been screened through in the first place. This applicant barely scraped by our minimal expectations laid down in an application but came in and nailed DPS rotations and survived like the best of them. Their numbers were on the low end of the curve relative to the other players. But they kept quiet, made no excuses and did the absolute best they could. They didn’t complain, they didn’t whine when they weren’t brought in at all knowing that sooner or later their chance would come if they continued to appear. Summer is here which means roster sizes are going to be all over the place.

For me, it’s always been about the attitude. It really annoys me when performance is blamed on stuff like gear. I second guess their mental fortitude after that. What happens if they have a crappy raiding night later on? Is it going to be blamed on gear when they’ve already been outfitted with what’s available? Relax a little and do what can be done, listen to the feedback given by evaluators and run with that. Not everything needs to be a point of contention.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit your ass down and shut your ass up. Don’t be difficult. Our new player acknowledged his short comings and resolved to try harder. Since then, he’s worked his way into a starting spot.

* Bonus step: Fitting in

Hang out with the guild for a while after raids. Just be sociable and get to know people. They’re your new guild. Find out what makes people tick and just try to be friends. Don’t start off holding grudges against other players who do better than you or getting too competitive. No one likes a loud mouth who comes in trying to rock the boat. It just makes them seem desperate for attention.

Matticast Episode 19 – Bank Management, Burnout, and A Legendary Redux

On Episode 18 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Guild Bank Management

- Combating Burnout

- What Not To Do With A Legendary

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

 

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WoW, What If…

This is a guest post from Wistoovern, the voice behind the Automated Healing Line. Have you ever wondered what the World of Warcraft would look like if things had gone a bit… differently? What if Sargeras was never defeated, or Archimonde was just looking for gardening tips from the Night elves? Well today we bring you a set of patch notes from the future of an else-worlds of WoW. Suspend your reality and enjoy some comedic entertainment!

We have it here folks, the latest notes gripped data-mined from the latest PTR!

- The Orc and Troll races have put aside their differences and are recovering from what was known as “The Tusk Wars”.  The cursed, seeping hole in Garrosh Hellscream’s chest is being tended to by the troll’s best healers as way of apology, but Warchief Vol’jin is still chuckling about it.

- Groundwork for the next full expansion is under weigh.  The land of Azeroth has been under monstrous forces in the last handful of years; the destruction and recrowning of the Lich King, the sapping of arcane energies by the Blue Dragonflight, the aftermath of the Cataclysm, the spread of poisonous gasses from the charred wreck of the Exodar, the extensive damage to the Stonecore and World Pillar, the warped fel forces behind the Dark Portal, the faded potency of the elemental plane with the death of Ragnaros.  Looking back on the success of redesigned instances like Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep, the next expansion will be redesigns of several previous expansions and patches: Rise of the Burning Call of the Secret Cataclysm of the Crusading Lich King (or, which our developers are jovially calling, “Just Take The Old Crap And Repackage It; Those Idiots Will Never Know“).  Get ready to see some old favorites making their way to the surface again!

GENERAL:

- Using /flirt on Jaina Proudmoore no longer Sheeps your character and Teleports you to Ironforge.

- Using /flirt on High Tinker Mekkatorque no longer causes him to hump your character’s leg.

- Using /flirt on Alexstraza no longer causes Krasus to shapeshift and aggro.

- Using /flirt on Chromie now contacts your local police department.  Pervert.

- Due to the popularity of Barber shops, the next patch will also release Tattoo Parlors, allowing any character to get a tattoo.  Simple designs start at 75g, but more complicated patterns and styles can raise the price dramatically.  Some tattoos will increase reputation gains with certain factions, but may lower gains with other factions.  Choose wisely!

- Sorry, no dance studio.  Please try again later.

INSTANCE:

- A new 5-man party instance is being implemented with the next patch.  The newly-crowned Lich King, overwhelmed by the necrotic forces battling in his mind, has sent a new floating citadel into Azeroth.  Combining the forces of the Seven Deadly Sins, these seven new bosses have become a force to contend with.

* Pride – Blood Elf warlock casting deadly mirrors that transfix party members…before a laser impales them!

* Sloth – Orc death knight, still suffering from the effects of the Malaise, finds it a valuable tool to cast on your party; slowing you and sapping your will to live!

* Envy – Undead Alchemist resents you for your life – and resolves to steal it away!

* Lust – Night Elf priest using Mind Control enchants your friends to fight for her!

* Anger – Worgen feral druid with nearly endless rage and speed buffs.  Rawr!

* Gluttony – Dwarf shaman with a Beerkeg Totem inebriates his enemies…and sends them falling off the edge of the citadel!

* Greed – Goblin rogue slowly strips you of your weapons, your armor, and your life!

QUESTS:

- Due to overwhelming demand, the Gnome-slaying quest in Uldum is now a daily.

- The quest “Locate The Leprechaun’s Lucky Charms” can no longer be completed with raid markers.

RACES:

- Worgen Rogues have learned Ventriloquism.  This allows them to throw their sniffling thirty yards to confuse and distract nearby NPC targets.

- Inspired by the “Fastball Special” from Marvel Comics, in light of the outcome of The Tusk Wars, Trolls can now be hurled like spears.

- Undead characters that die and are resurrected by Spirit Healers will be able to go back to where they died, find their old corpse, take limbs off, and graft them onto their new bodies.  Doing so will raise their attack or movement speeds and lower casting times, but the grafted sections can wear no armor, and will increase damage taken in combat.

- Dwarves are always drunk.  Always.

CLASSES:

Death Knights:

- Death becomes these undead masters of the blade – but death has its down sides.  When in the lower levels (100 and lower), these fearsome fighters were unparalleled in their skills.  However, as they are corpses and have been around QUITE a long time, high-level Death Knights will no longer be able to go AFK without a new debuff called “Rigor Mortis”.  A fellow party or raid member applying Fish Oil will lubricate them enough to get them going again.  Undead characters  will not have this limitation, as Sylvannas keeps her subjects well-lubed for various reasons.

Druids:

- The Druid transformative abilities are undergoing a radical reevaluation.  The current forms to shapeshift into (Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, Aquatic, Flight, Stag, Snake, Marmot, Jackalope, Monkey, and Weasel) will all have Dire equivalents.  Light help us all.

- Druids in a party with other druids will be able to focus their powers into more powerful forms.  A two-druid party will be able to shapeshift into a two-headed ogre (moonkin-like abilities), a chimaera (cat form-like abilities), or a corehound (bear form-like abilities).  A three-druid party will be able to shapeshift into a Cerebus (bear form-like abilities), a Hydra (cat form-like abilities), or Chimaeron himself (each head a spellcaster, moonkin-like abilities).  A five-druid party – should such a thing come to pass – will all be shifted into cat form and be teleported instantly to the newly created zone, Arus.   There, they will battle King Zarcon, Lotor, and the Robeasts that they generate between them.  Blazing Swords will be provided.

Hunters:

- Deathwing from the old Cataclysm days is no longer tamable as an Exotic Pet.  Those who have him tamed need to release him before the patch or he will raze the city that they currently inhabit upon patching.  Let’s not have that happen again.

- Ranged attack power is being increased by 50%…and then decreased by 50%…and then increased by 50% again…and then decreased by 50% again…and finally increased by 50% again.  Yes, we could have said that ranged attack power would be 93.375% of what it currently is, but you people seem to prefer doing the math.

Mages:

- In honor of the upcoming release of Portal 7, “GLaDOS & GLaDYS Explore Black Mesa”, Mages are undergoing a radical redesign.  While they will still be player-controlled, they will no longer be individual characters anymore.  All mages are being ‘transformed” into Portal guns that will appear in the inventory of party and raid leaders.  The portals that they generate are the end portals of other, pre-set locations.  They will have a specific portal that food and drink will fall out of, along with portals to expose enemies to the open portals in the Elemental planes of Fire, Ice, and Magic (thus representing the mage’s three trees).  As this will lower the worldswide population of Gnomes by 25%, the change is being embraced by all admins, beta testers, and cinematic directors.

Paladins:

- The 41-point Paladin Holy talent, “Holier Than Thou” is being scaled down.  Instead of the Smug buff for 45 seconds, increasing attack speed and power by 50%, the paladin’s single target receives a Shame debuff, which applies attack speed and power penalties of 25% for one minute.

Priests:

- Priest no longer regenerate mana through Spirit.  In order to use any spells that day, all priests must complete at least fifteen daily quests at the chapels in Stormwind or the Undercity.  Daily quests there will charge their mana pool.  In order to regain mana, they will need to complete more quests.  120 quests have been added to the chapels in each area, and they include quests to sit in place and pray for half an hour, change out candles, listen to confessions, and polish pews.

- Discipline Priests, your concerns have been heard.  The days of nerfing your shields are over.  Weakened Soul has been removed from the game and the shield is now an instant cast.  Also, the shields stack to 3.  As of the next release, your shields’ strengths will be doubled to a massive total of 2 damage blocked per shield.  However, in light of the powerful change, the cost of the spell is being increased by 20% to a base cost of roughly 15,000 mana each.

- The shadow priest ability which augmented Shadowform to allow the priest to walk through walls has been removed from the game. This is due to the increasing complaints from Tyrande Whisperwind regarding her private quarters.

Rogues:

- Rogues are now no longer able to bribe nearby guards into overlooking their covert actions – except in Goblin Zones (including those of the Steamwheedle Cartel).  In those areas, the bribe price has doubled.

Shamans:

- Electric Fence, a new Elemental Totem augmentation, sets a Lightning Charge between a shaman’s totems.  Enemies crossing this barrier endure 12,000 Nature Damage each tick.  Destroying any of the totems causes an instant feedback of 50,000 Nature Damage, but the totems are all destroyed and cannot be recalled for 30 seconds.  A glyph involving the electric fence is in development.

Warlocks:

- Demon Multiplication is being removed from the game, as too many players are removing unused demons, replacing them with additional succubi, and equipping the “Pimp” title from the last expansion.

- Draenei are now able to roll Warlocks.  Doing so warps their forms into quasi-Eredar, allowing a stronger Demonic Link to their familiars.

Warriors:

- Who?

ITEMS:

- The various Focusing Lenses available through Jewelcrafting are now effective in PvP.  When used, all cat-form druids will be Mind Controlled into running to the target of the Focusing Lens.

- Glyph of “I’m Taking You With Me” allows falling priests to cast Leap of Faith on nearby non-falling targets.

- Glyph of “Better You Than Me” allows falling priests to use Leap of Faith to exchange their position with a nearby non-falling target.

- Glyph of “Death Blossom” has a chance to lock a rogue into Fan of Knives for 5-10 seconds, allowing AoE damage in addition to their normal attacks.

- The soul of an ancient enemy has been reclaimed and forced into fel servitude.  Glyph of “Summon Hogger” will replace a warlock’s felguard with a familiar fighting face.

- Got old Dalaran Cooking Rewards laying around doing nothing?  A new Cooking Mount is being introduced: an “Ice Cream Truck” for 400 DCRs.  The mount will contain an NPC that sells frozen confections, but the truck will also play music incessantly  – and un-mutable – while summoned.  This mount is in addition to the 200 DCR “Hot Dog Cart” that was announced last patch.  Wearing the Chef’s Hat while using either mount will increase travel speed by 50%.

TRADESKILLS

- Gnomes and Goblins will be allowed to use their fishing skills with seaforium.

- Dwarves and Trolls will be allowed to use their fishing skills with ranged weapons.

- Druids will be allowed to use their fishing skills in aquatic form, by catching fish in their mouths.

- Mining has a rare chance to proc a disease called “Black Lung”.

- To expand on the use of Decahedral Dwarven Dice and Worn Troll Dice, Inscribers can now create “Character Sheets” and “GM Screens”.  Yo Dawg, we heard you like to role play.  So we put some role play in your role play so you can role play while you role play.

Oh the excitement is palpable! FOR THE WARCHIEF, ‘MON!

Would you pay for Premium?

Blizzard’s Mobile Armory which now offers guild chat capabilities? $2.99.

Recently announced cross-realm Dungeon Finder feature? More money.

Additional mounts or non-combat pets? Those range anywhere from $10 to $25.

I’ve seen people upset that all these extra cool features are costing additional money. We’re paying 15 bucks a month already. Shouldn’t we be entitled this stuff? I’m not so sure. I do have a different take on it. Things like the Mobile Armory, the cross-realm Dungeon Finder and stuff, those aren’t exactly essential game play services. Blizzard typically doesn’t charge for content (Exception: Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm). If it’s something related to stuff we can do in game, there’s no extra cost to it. We just pay the monthly cost and that’s that. I have a difficult time understanding why some players are annoyed over an optional feature.

At school, we have a universal transit program. For an additional 105 bucks a semester, we get a pass that lets us travel anywhere via public transit in the Greater Vancouver area (that’s 26 bucks per month of go anywhere). Many of my friends complain because they drive to school, to work or to shop. They have no use for such a pass. Yet the school makes it mandatory. The only way this deal would’ve worked between the University and the public transit system is all or nothing. Given the option, they’d rather opt out of it. I can’t blame them.

The point I’m trying to get to here is would you rather pay a higher monthly cost for included services or have a lower monthly cost along with optional services? What if the monthly fee went up to 20 bucks instead but came with the ability for you to interface with the armory remotely through your mobile device? Not only that, you’d get to be able to use the cross-realm Dungeon Finder feature. And just for kicks, having the active premium subscription service means whatever new mount of combat pet comes out of the Blizzard Store goes straight to your mail too. I’m not interested in this stuff as much (that’s a lie, I bought a celestial pony and a pandaren monk). I’d even consider the cross-realm Dungeon finder just to have a chance to play with potential off-server recruits who were of the same faction to see how they’d fair (fare?) in a 5 man environment at least.

I like the opportunity to pick and choose what additional premium features I want access to. If it costs extra, that’s okay because then I can see what I’m willing to pay. Otherwise, the other alternative option is a higher price with no say in customizable features.

15 bucks a month for WoW. I had to pay 18 bucks to watch Thor last weekend. Great movie, but remind me not to watch stuff in 3D again.

Uh, anyway, anyone need heals?

Matticast Episode 18 – Raid Lockouts, 4.2 PTR Changes, Adjusting To Your New Guild

On Episode 18 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Raid Lockouts

- 4.2 PTR Changes

- Adjusting To A New Guild

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

 

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How EPGP works

This is a guest post by Valen who has graciously offered to clarify the EPGP loot system and the process behind the usage.

Hello! I am Valen, Guild Leader of Temerity, an efficiency-focused progression guild on the Windrunner server. I also happen to be helping maintain EPGP while its author, Disht of EU-Sunstrider, takes a well-deserved break. My hope is to provide an introduction to EPGP and demonstrate why many people believe it to be a superior loot system.

What is EPGP?

The EPGP loot system, nicknamed “dkp reloaded,” is a mature, established loot system that has been in active use by many guilds for a number of years. Sometimes known for being somewhat “mathy,” EPGP tries to provide a fair, transparent, configurable, deterministic, and reasonable loot distribution system. EPGP is somewhat more complicated than most loot systems, but thanks to addons that simplify calculations and management, both the master looter and all members of a guild will find EPGP to be a fluid and effective loot system.

The word “fair” is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to handling loot, and is highly subjective. Can loot systems be fair to every member of a guild, and to the guild itself? Probably not, but when people think about fair loot systems, often words like “unbiased” are used, with sentiments of objective, even distribution. EPGP provides such features.

Many familiar loot systems, such as DKP and its variants, use a single point pool, whereas EPGP uses two. Those two kinds of points in EPGP are in the name — EP and GP. EP, which stands for Effort Points, encapsulates the contributions of a raider to the raid (primarily attendance). GP, which stands for Gear Points, encapsulates the loot a raider has received from the raid.

How does it work?

Dividing a raider’s EP by their GP determines a raider’s Priority. When a piece of loot drops, the player who is interested in it with the highest Priority gets the loot along with the Gear Points the loot is valued at — there is no randomness or rolling in EPGP. This therefore increases the player’s GP, which lowers their priority once the division takes place, putting them below many other players (depending, of course, on the other players’ EP and GP values).

Left unchecked, EP, which grows as raids are attended, and GP, which grows as loot is received, would increase unbounded since neither are reduced inherently in the loot process. Instead of spending points, both simply accumulate. To prevent infinite growth, EPGP uses the concept of decay — at the start of every raid, or every raid week, or any other interval, everyone’s EP and GP are reduced by a fixed percentage. This results in EP climbing quickly at first, but then eventually sloping off towards a natural cap. GP, on the other hand, tends towards zero as it accumulates only when loot is rewarded rather than every raid.

The above is intentionally vague and lacking in specific numbers. This is one of the areas where EPGP is configurable to meet a given guild’s needs, but also where it tends to intimidate users.

  • How much EP does a raider get?
  • What earns EP?
  • How much GP does a piece of loot cost?

The latter question is the easiest to answer; by default, every piece of loot has a fixed cost across all guilds and servers, based on the slot it is used in and the item’s level (aka, ilvl). Deep inside the game, there are formulas used to determine how much of a each stat such as Haste Rating or Intelligence a piece of gear has; this formula is based on the ilvl and slot, so, for instance, an ilvl 359 two handed sword has more strength than an ilvl 359 one handed sword or ilvl 359 ring. EPGP uses this formulation to derive a price for each piece of loot, normalizing around a chest piece with an arbitrary cost of 1,000 GP. Weapons cost more than 1,000 GP since they have a bigger impact than a new chest, whereas rings, carrying smaller item budget, cost less.

EP is more fluid; typically guilds award EP based on attendance, both who is present at the beginning of raid and who is present throughout its duration. Even players on the bench receive EP and thereby loot opportunities when next they are in raid.

EPGP in action

Each guild decides themselves how much EP to award and what to award for, so rather than a complicated explanation, I will use a concrete example and explain how my guild uses it.

Fifteen minutes before raid starts, a decay of 7% occurs. Then an on-time bonus of 1,250 EP is awarded to each member in the raid. Every fifteen minutes thereafter until the end of raid, 300 EP is awarded to anyone in the raid and on standby. Finally, at the end of raid, another 1,250 EP bonus is awarded. The net result is a typical, 3.5 hour night of raiding results in 7,000 EP.Some guilds opt to also award EP when bosses die (with different amounts of EP depending on the farm status of the boss) but we choose to not award the kills themselves.

The values chosen are largely arbitrary; we settled on a 7% decay as it is a decent rate to prevent hoarding as well as to encourage taking loot (since GP will decay at a decent rate). We chose 7,000 EP per raid because it has the mathematical property that, a player with perfect attendance across an infinite number of raids, would cap out at 100,000 EP — the point where a 7% decay equals the EP awarded for the evening (7% of 100,000 is 7,000, of course).

We also choose to award a small, fixed weekly amount of EP for consumables — specifically, raw herbs and fish. This was a new experiment for us as early Cataclysm consumables were extremely expensive until supply grew and guild perks kicked in, this helped us supply flasks and feasts — a significant competitive advantage.

The EPGP system itself is managed via the EPGP addon. Earlier I mentioned that EPGP is transparent; this means, thanks to the addon, any player can see any other player’s standing and priority from within the game. In fact, this addon keeps all EPGP state in-game rather than on an external website. Therefore, it is never a surprise when someone receives loot as any player can, at any time, see other players’ EP, GP, and Priority. Likewise, the addon places the GP cost to every item in its tooltip, so you know the exact price an item would cost by simply mousing over it.

In addition to the EPGP addon itself, there is a third party addon named EPGP Lootmaster. This addon handles the loot process itself, providing very simple push-button distribution and vastly reducing the time it takes to handle the many drops off of the typical 25 man heroic boss. I highly recommend using both addons together for a tremendously smooth and simplified loot process.

Hopefully this has provided a relatively math-free explanation of EPGP. I’ve personally used it for over four years, and while certainly imperfect, it is an excellent combination of transparency, fairness, and efficiency that is suitable for guilds at all levels of progression. Once the initial setup is done, there is very little maintenance and the distribution of loot itself is very quick — important attributes for efficient raiding!

Further resources

EPGP’s website, mailing list, and bug forum
The addon itself
The Lootmaster Addon