How to Come out of Raiding Retirement

It took about two years. It’s nice to be acknowledged finally though. I don’t hold any ill feelings towards the WoW Magazine or Blizzard.

Picture this. You’ve retired from raiding. You have a nice, quiet home in the interior. Maybe there’s a river or a stream nearby. Everyday, you sit back on your Pyrium reinforced lawnchair with your fishing pole provided graciously by the Kalu’ak when you helped them out in Northrend those years ago. Some days you get a bite, some days you whiff and get nothing. It’s a peaceful life where you do nothing else but fish and drink beer everyday.

But you’re tired of it, aren’t you? You want to Brett Favre your way back into the raiding scene. Maybe Michael Jordan your way into the guild again. There’s a right way and then there’s a not-as-right way.

Go back in time for a moment when you explained to your leaders that you wanted to stop raiding. At the time, you probably figured it was a permanent thing. You had a new job, new spouse, or maybe you were just sick of the game. Whatever it was, you couldn’t commit anymore and your leaders understood, they wished you the best and said you could keep your characters there.

But then you said something like this:

“I’m going to quit raiding but let me know if you need me to pitch in for a day or something.”

Saying that doesn’t work for me. It’s nice of players to offer their services like that on a part time manner. The reality is that leaders have a hard time planning for unexpected contingencies. It’s not always possible to provide any kind of reasonable notice. If you happen to be online and the guild is desperate for a spot, sure you got lucky.

As a leader though, I don’t like being placed in that situation of having to depend on a person who has said they wanted to step back from raiding. Once I hear the plug pull, that’s it for me. I’ll still be friends with them easily and there will be no hard feelings. In my eyes though, when a player quits, they quit. There’s no inbetween. I’d rather pull in a new recruit and trial them in the raid. I would only pull in a retired player after every avenue was exhausted. I can tell you right now that no leader wants to rely on someone who said that they were quitting raiding.

Leaders prefer the safety and security of knowing that players will do their best to attend raids regularly. Having a question mark over the head of someone who decides to raid at their own whim doesn’t help the rest of the group.

So you want to come back

Then say so.

Let your leaders know that circumstances have changed. Maybe your scheduling is different or your living arrangements allowed you to raid again (or you sacrificed something important to your significant other for the ability to raid). You need to explicitly sit down with the officers and tell it to them instead of constantly saying “Hey, I’m around in case you can’t find anyone.” That just doesn’t work and it leads to a bunch of misunderstanding especially if the raid leader’s trying to respect your wishes and not have to resort to you, the retired player, all the time.

I never really understood it. Either you can (and want to) raid or you’re not able to. Just being in between seems to be detrimental to the raid at best. Maybe one of you readers can shed some light if you’re in such a situation?

I Almost Forgot

My blog is 4 years old today!

Thanks to all of you turkeys, clowns, gnomes and gators that have subscribed and put up with my insanity. Work must be that boring, eh? Hat tip to all the guest posters, the team and the supporters that have continued to give me the fortitude to continue writing.

So a quick informal survey. What’re you interested in seeing more of topics wise (or anything in general)? There are some days where I come up with a blog post idea and then realize I wrote about that back in 2009. Not that there’s anything wrong with revisiting old topics for discussion as long as I add a fresh perspective to it, of course.

Monocle smile.

EDIT: By the way guys? Your GMs called. They asked me to ask you to stop putting Amani Hex Sticks in the bank!

Upcoming Patch 4.3 Glimpses

Hot out of Gamescom is the announcement of things we’ll see in patch 4.3

  • Deathwing’s raid and a set of 5-man dungeons
  • Transmogrification: Ability to customize look of armor
  • Armor closet
  • Raid finder

Sources: Kotaku, WoW Insider, Battle.Net

This means the thrilling conclusion to Cataclysm is approaching. What an incredibly short expansion cycle. I’m quite curious as to what type of bosses we’ll be seeing in Deathwing’s raid. Perhaps some elementals? Other black dragons? Select minions that we stomped out in Deepholm?

On Transmogrification

Who knows how many typos are going to be made? Transmogrify, not transmorgify. I’ll need to remember this. On the feature itself, I am really pissed. Why? Because it means I have to go on the tier 2 hunt all over again! For me, it’s either going to be tier 2, tier 5 or tier 6. I disenchanted all of my old gear as we went from expansion to expansion because I simply ran out of room. I believe both tier 2 and tier 6 had the entire outfit (all 8 main pieces). Thankfully, I kept all my weapons (Val’anyr and Benediction).

This means I’ll need to set up raiding expeditions into:

  • Serpentshrine Cavern
  • Tempest Keep
  • Blackwing Lair
  • Black Temple
  • Sunwell
  • Caverns of Time: Mount Hyjal

Damnit.

On Raid Finder

Finally, Chilton explained a new feature coming with the patch called “Raid Finder”. The Raid Finder essentially operates like a dungeon finder, automating the search for fellow players on the hunt for a good raiding party. It will be built into the game’s updated user interface when the patch hits, they said.

The current iteration of the LF raid tool isn’t the greatest. I daresay a majority of the community doesn’t know it exists and relies on trade chat to fill up their players. For me, when I’m on an alt randomly doing stuff in the city, I’m not actively scouting for a raid group to join. But when I see someone that advertises LFM 25 man BoT, need DPS/healers, I’ll whisper that guy and try to get in on the group. Now with the addition of the raid finder though, that’s going to automate the process entirely. I’m really anxious to see what it looks like. The possibility exists where the system can be “gamed” like the current dungeon finder where it’ll organize and invite players according to gear levels. As a raid leader, I can foresee using these for older raids (or at least, raids that are a tier behind us or so). I don’t know how desperate I would be to use it for current raid or progression content.

It’s not explicitly stated that the raid finder is going to be cross realm so we don’t know yet. If I were to hazard a guess, that’s a probable yes. It might give us the capability to raid with people we know from other servers.

Bonus: If it does go the route of cross realm raiding, that means the ability to raid with Real ID friends won’t be far behind. Pretty soon raid leaders can offer tryouts to players without the risk of server or faction transfer costs.

Would love it if this feature would be enabled for all previously discovered raids. Sometimes it can be hard to fill up older raids.

Where is the Matticast?

Just a quick update on the podcast. Originally, we were planning a two week hiatus because of summer and all the different events that we individually had to deal with and such.

But then an update was released which affected some of the behind the scenes technological wizardry we had going on. As such, we’re going to be out of action for a brief while until that fix gets resolved. We have explored alternative options but nothing has really been appealing. I promise we’ll be back as soon as we can. Besides, it’s a great time for us to regenerate, recharge and revitalize our creative energies.

Penny Arcade Expo

Anyone hitting PAX next week? I’ll be at the convention myself and I’d love to meet and greet any fellow gamers/blog readers in the area. Games I’m looking forward to playing the most:

  • League of Legends: Dominion
  • Counterstrike: Global Offensive
  • Guild Wars 2

There’s probably more that I’m missing. I’m not much into the table top stuff so I’ll be hanging near the PCs and console stuff. Any suggestions for other titles to check out? I’m primarily into shooters and RTS games.

Common Recruiting Terms

Hey everyone! The other day, I gave you a quick method on narrowing down the collossal amount of search results you’d get from recruiting and compiling a neat, orderly list to work with. Today we’re going to hit up the actual recruiting forums and pick out some common jargon for new recruiters who are confused with the terms or have difficulty reading between the lines. Some of these are serious and some are rather tongue and cheek. I’ll let you decide which is which!

“We are exceptional <class> looking for…”

What they really mean: They think they’re really, really good and clearly there is no one in the entire 11+ million pool of players who are better than them. Not just some average Joe Raider. It’s just no one wants to take a chance on them on their server. Like seriously, it seems that half the recruiting ads I see are from players who believe they’re really exceptional. But if everyone says they’re exceptional, how can they all be exceptional? Unless they were the exception to the exceptionism.

E X C E P T I O N

“US Top 100 only”

What they really mean: They’ve been around since beta. They’ve seen it all and done it all. They’ve got lots of time to spare for progression. Whatever needs to be done, I can do. Looking for the best guilds only! These types mean business. Either that or they’ll wash out when they realize the raid leader really can remove them from the raid and they’re not the center of the universe.

“Progressed realm”

What they really mean: Clear desire to get off their low population, backwater server. They need a life line and they need it fast. Thinks they have what it takes to raid at a higher level but have trouble finding other like minded people.

“No less than 5/7 Firelands”

What they really mean:  Clearly they took a break at the end of tier 11 and missed the first few weeks of Firelands. Probably just started Firelands for the first time and got trounced. Wants to get back into the thick of things again. Probably stonewalled on one specific boss for a long time and cannot seem to muster the man power or skill to power through.

“25 man only”

What they really mean: Possibly prone to screwing up. Likes to hide along the relative anonymity of other players. Has a 4% chance of being blamed for a wipe on 25 man instead of 10% on a 10 man. Hates the closeness of 10 mans. My kind of player.

“LF adult guild!!111”

What they really mean: Likes to make lots of sex jokes. Possible cybering involved. Use caution.

“Immediate core position for <class>”

What they really mean: Wants to feel like that special snowflake. You know, like the only Shaman or Boomkin in the guild. Wants to feel really unique and indispensible. Yeah. That guy. Works great until you discover they can’t sustain their Molten Feather stacks or circumvent tornadoes properly :(.

“Must be able to accept all 3 of us”

What they really mean: Will quit if even one person is deemed not good enough. Must accept all or accept none. Strong desire to stay together.

“Professional environment”

What they really mean: Likes to raid with really loud music. Doesn’t want Mumble chatter to impede what they’re listening on iTunes or what they’re watching on Netflix. He’s the guy who constantly blasts top 40 music whenever he speaks.

“No female officers“

What they really mean: Deemed “sexist douchebags”, according to one player. I’ve actually seen a recruiting post once that specifically stated no female officers. May have suffered some type of traumatic experience earlier in their gaming career and doesn’t want to go through it again. If I remember right, the reasoning behind the original poster involved something about cattiness and snark because the applicant was also female as well. Maybe Kat would know more about this than I would. All the female officers I’ve ever interacted with in my own guild or other guilds seemed pleasant enough.

And now you too can navigate the murky waters of recruiting! In any case, good luck to you young recruiters out there and may all your apps last long term!

Maximizing your Recruiting Time

Managed to take down Shannox, Beth’tilac, Lord Rhyolith and Baleroc in one night. The kills are a little rough around the edges at times, but every week shows a marked improvement. Learning Alysrazor once was a pain. Relearning it again is a trial by fire to be sure!

Also for all you budding young hunters out there. Never have growl turned on in a raid setting under any circumstances. The rest of the raid will be eternally grateful (and not want to injure you).

For recruiters, looking for players often cause anxiety because you never know if you’re going to find the right players to help you. There is a whole plethora of players still looking for the right guild. I’m not sure what the ratio of 10 man guilds to 25 man guilds are but no doubt there are way more 10s than 25s. There are players looking for PvP guilds, progression, casual, hard mode, RP and others!

We’re going to focus more on raiding guilds. When I’m out shopping for players, I generally shoot for overall experience as the biggest indicator. Gear is a secondary concern. If a player has taken down the first six bosses in Firelands, that tells me a lot more than his 370 item level. Players looking for guilds typically state what number of bosses they’ve killed in the current tier.

Example

6/7 Priest LF progression guild weekdays
2/7 Mage LF raiding guild weekends
7/7 Rogue LF hard mode guild only

With so many players looking for guilds, you could take the shotgun approach and reply to every single “LFG” forum thread. But that’s too tedious especially with the one post per minute limitation. Your time is precious and you can’t possibly visit every thread, track down every player in game, or add every individual on real ID. You need to manage your time better and maximize your returns! Naturally you’re not going to shoot for classes that you’re already stacked to the brim of. Nor are you going to go after people who can’t make your raid times or days.

There is one more indicator you can use.

Try bracketing

Experience matters a lot. You don’t want to pick up a player who is too far behind you. On the other hand, you don’t want to shoot for a player who is beyond your progression unless they explicitly state what they’re looking for in their ad. The first step is to determine how low you’re willing to go.

  • A guild that is 6/7 Firelands might be willing to go for a player who is 3/7 or they could aim for a player who is 1 hard mode boss in.
  • A guild that is 2/7+ Firelands (+ meaning hard mode kills) might go for a player with a low end of 6/7 normal modes and a top end of 4/7+.
  • A guild that is 3/7 Firelands is okay with taking chances on new players who haven’t stepped foot into Firelands or players working on 5/7 or 6/7.

For your own sanity, do not waste the other player’s time. Don’t waste your own either. Don’t aim too high and don’t aim too low.

So what should the experience spread be?

Personally, I like to use a 4 boss spread. That is, I will actively pursue players who are either 2 bosses ahead of where I’m at or 2 bosses behind. If they don’t have kills, that’s okay. As long as they can demonstrate that they were working on some of those bosses and wiping to them, I’ll count that as experience. Obviously that spread is going to vary wildly depending on where you are on the progression path. It also depends on your guild’s current state of raiding. I think 2 is a nice number because if they’re 2 bosses behind, we can accelerate their learning a bit. Chances are they’re familiar with the unkilled bosses anyway and they ran out of time for it. If they’re 2 bosses ahead, they can offer some insight or little tricks to help your raid group get there.

If you’re having trouble with attendance and filling up raids, you might need to expand.

If your roster is stacked as is, you can tighten up the restrictions to a 1 boss spread (or even stating that you’re not going to pursue players with experience below what you’re working on).

One more thing

Make sure you scan LFG posts. Look for keywords such as their availability, preferred loot system and progression. Note raid sizes. In some cases, they’ll indicate rankings. Some players will even indicate specifically what guilds they’re looking for.

Here’s a few examples:

  • US Top 100 only
  • Must be active in PvP and raiding
  • No less than 5/7 Firelands
  • 25 man only
  • Immediate core position for <class>
  • Must be able to accept all 3 of us
  • Professional environment
  • No female officers*

* Not making this one up. Actually saw it in an LFG post on the official WoW forums. 

Not sure what any of that means? Don’t worry! In an upcoming post, I’ll help you interpret the subtle needs that players say they’re looking for but what they really mean.

Are You Ready to Heal Tier 12 Raids?

There was a great post last month on Plus Heal wondering what the minimum requirements for getting into tier 12 are. That’s not an easy question to answer because you can’t pin a magic number. I entered tier 12 with many heroic item pieces from tier 11 with an average item level of around 370. But that’s not indicative of what the lowest stats are. The poorly geared or skilled the healer, the more powerful the rest of the raid needs to be to offset it. Tanks have to have amazing survivability. DPS players need to make devastating impacts and be incredibly nimble in taking only unavoidable damage.

It’s a good thing I have multiple Priests.

Going into Firelands with an item level of around 358, I was able to secure attempts and kills on Shannox, Beth’tilac and Lord Rhyolith. So if you’re worried that your gear isn’t good enough, here’s a rough idea of where you should be at:

  • Item level: 359
  • Stamina: 5200 (or around 118000 health)
  • Intellect: 5100 (or around 105000 mana)
  • Spirit: 2600 (or around 3200 mana regenerated every 5 seconds while in combat)

Mind you, those are the approximate stats for my alt Holy Priest. These aren’t precise but generally if you can ballpark those figures, you’ll be fine. Those figures don’t include things like stats gained from buffs, feasts or flasks. You can factor those into consideration as well.

What about my skill score?

That’s a harder question to gauge. If you were able to make it through all of tier 11 unscathed, there’s nothing new here that’s overly challenging. A lot of these encounters just take repetition and exposure to get down. Alysrazor is a multi-phase encounter and you just need to keep healing it and watching for all the little gimmicks that are going on before everything “clicks”. There is a ton of fire all over the place. Plan ahead on where to stand before you start casting your spells.

The ability to respond and dodge stuff is an excellent skill to have (Shannox traps, Magma Flows on Lord Rhyolith, just about everything on Ragnaros). I like to play League of Legends to keep my reaction time as quick as possible.

Alternatively, if you have a few minutes to spare, check out some of the different reflex games over at Mission Red.

Playing Atonement and the All-Purpose healer

Looking for more reading material? I’ve been covering for Dawn (WoW Insider’s resident Priest columnist) and you can read up more on playing Discipline as Atonement in Firelands.

Playing a discipline priest is all the rage these days, it seems, especially now that many raiders are busy messing around in Firelands. There is a small selection of discipline priests who exercise the Atonement and Evangelism style of healing to great effect. In the past, I wasn’t really a fan of it at all because I felt that there were better options. The buffs Blizzard made to Atonement back in patch 4.1 involving Holy Fire made it increasingly more attractive. Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance.

Spiritual Guidance: Playing Atonement

It’s been my biggest belief that my ideal healing team would consist of players who could tackle any healing assignment without too much difficulty. 

When it comes to setting up healing in raids, we like to lump healers into different specializations. We have players who strictly tank heal or raid heal. In some cases, there is a specific role they need to play within the encounter (like kite healing). Blizzard has done a great job of trying to equalize the healing classes to the point that they can do everything competently. Even then, we continue to instinctively place the different classes into specific healing roles. If you are a healer who has traditionally done only one type of healing, then it is time to diversify.

Raid Rx: The All Purpose Healer

Guild Rebuilding 101

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. The past week has been extremely hectic and straining as recruiting efforts kicked into over drive. I am pleased to announce that Conquest is on the way to finalizing a roster going into Firelands. We actually went back in last Tuesday. All in all, I think its a fair bet to say that we experienced the highest turnover in a raiding roster but managed to recover within a span of about 4-5 days. This included solidifying the main tank and off tank positions, numerous DPS in addition to a new raid leader.

Pulled that off over a weekend. We’re stable right now which is good. We’ve got a consistent group of veterans combined with newer players who are just stepping foot into Firelands. I consider myself extremely fortunate and lucky. I daresay most guild leaders would have definitely thrown in the towel and called it a career.

What were the steps?

Step 1: Reassure everyone

When a potential guild crushing event occurs, the first thing to do is say everything’s going to be alright. This involves damage control out the ying yang. 

The first thing I did was explain to every player what was going on and what our plans were going forward. Our plan was to rebuild and develop our player base back to a number which allowed us to comfortable go into Firelands. After that, we would then begin the process of gradually cutting or developing players as needed to get them at a skill level consistent with what was needed to get us through the bosses. I had no illusions that it was going to be easy. I wanted to be back in Ragnaros’ door step within 4 weeks. The Vanguard (Rated BG division) offered their services by signalling their willingness to alter their PvP teams so that some of them could participate. Their offer was touching but I didn’t want to handicap their schedule.

Step 2: Get the word out

Once I finished assessing the overall damage and losses to the roster (no tanks, a completely depleted melee roster, no casters but a relatively unscathed healing corps), the next step was to get our numbers up again. Thankfully I had the whole weekend to try to pull that off. It would take a completely herculean effort to get players onboard. I would be targeting players who were looking for a fresh start or who were just getting into Firelands. Messages were sent to every player who applied but were turned down because we didn’t have the room. In essence, we were reactivating the reserved list. We told them that there were numerous roster spots available and that they would have a crack at earning and securing them.

Then I received a rather interesting proposal and this where the luck factor came into play. Turns out one of the players who I declined earlier told their present guild what had happened. The two of them started talking and before I knew it, I was dragged in. It was a 10 man raiding guild that had made some progress into Firelands but they were experiencing a myriad of attendance problems. In other words, I was presented with the offer of a potential guild merger. I didn’t even have to stress over sharing officer status or anything. From what I was told, the leaders were tired and wanted a new experience where they could just focus on their game and didn’t want to worry about things like recruiting anymore.

Again, that’s the luck factor coming into play. On Monday, we held a trial raid. We didn’t have the numbers to pull off attempts on Ragnaros (and I wouldn’t dream of going back in there, at least not for a while). The next course of action was to get both groups acclimated and used to each other. I wanted to see if there were going to be any potential personality conflicts. We ended up stepping into Blackwing Descent on 25 and had some fun in there for the next few hours blowing up as many bosses as we could before time ran out (and wow I didn’t realize the extent of the nerf).

Step 3: Meet with every new player coming in

With every recruit who was interested in joining and every player who was coming in, I did my absolute best to sit down with them and answer their questions. You figure players who are getting pulled from their sense of familiarity into a completely brand new setting are going to want to know what they’re diving head first into. I set aside some time and hung out with them on their voice servers and addressed their concerns as much as possible. The biggest thing here is be honest. If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. While GMs are often expected to know everything, that expectation is far from reality.

Even though the guild took a fatal blow, we’re going to be okay. The guild is evolving from a simple WoW guild into a truly multigaming community (League of Legends!). Although, I’m disappointed at losing several friends. These were players who I trusted and confided in. This experience only goes to show that you never truly know who your friends are going to be in this game. Some people change, some things don’t. That’s the way it goes.

Heck, we even picked up a weekend raiding 10 man guild in the process. If any players out there are looking for a solid 10 man group to run with on the weekends, look us up (4 PM – 730 PM Saturday and Sunday afternoon).

Bonus step: Reflection

This is a great time to reflect and think about your guild some more and what you want to do with it. I’ve had to make compromises and look the other way at times for the sake of guild cohesion in the past. After this though, I’ve developed a better understanding of what I wanted to do and what I expected from the team. As Mel said, it’s possible to have elite players without the berating elitism. Even though the process will take longer, it’ll be better for recruiting and for the atmosphere in the long run.

It’s a good thing Enjin allows us guild leaders to create multiple application forms.

We’re about to finish out our first week in Firelands. We’ll be back in front of Ragnaros in no time.

Has your guild experienced a rebuild? What steps did you take after the fact? Did it ultimately end up working? Was there anything you wish you could have done differently?