Spine-less

Thanks for the title inspiration, Gorrik.

On Tuesday, we caught wind that several of our tanks would either be late or absent for Thursday’s raid. We were getting close to a Spine take down last week. Multiple consecutive attempts involved getting to the third plate, then getting to the second half of the plate. We knew that Spine would fall soon enough. We experienced a testicle crushing 6% wipe on the final tendon. But it would be the next attempt (or two) that sealed it.

Our tanks nailed it. Our warrior tanks (including fellow WoW Insider colleague Matt Rossi),  ran disjointed cheerios around the backside of Deathwing as if he were competing for the men’s 1000 meter.

Didn’t have to use Life Grip as much as I thought I would. But oh boy, No Mana Mattie was certainly living up to his name and reputation. Shadowfiends every tendon, two Mana Hymns, and assorted Spirit gear/trinkets to push every possible drop needed to buy players as much time in the world of the living.

We clocked in less overall attempts on Spine then we did on Zon’ozz. I actually thought we would’ve gotten more attempts, but then each attempt here is longer compared to that of Zon’ozz.

You guys see that bit about the guild mentorship program?

On the one hand, I’m a little disappointed that my organization doesn’t qualify. On the other hand, I wonder what’s being looked for and if I’d have the time to devote to it.  I’d love to have the chance to teach and mentor the next generation of WoW players and raiders. I didn’t really have anyone to go to myself when I was learning the game and working my way up the PvE ladder.

All the social “rules” and etiquette? Trial and error. I was a socially awkward panda back in the day (though, depending on who you ask, I still am).

If your guild qualifies, are you going to go for it? What would you teach the next generation of newbies that are leveling?

A Minor Suggestion to the Character Select Screen

A Minor Suggestion to the Character Select Screen

mail-icon

I’m not the first person to suggest it, but wouldn’t it be great just having mail icons appear on the character select screen for your alts? It can remind you of things like your auctions or if you’ve made any purchases or serves as crafting reminders. More importantly, I wouldn’t have to log into every alt just to see.

Someone over there make it happen!

The Story of Dobby – The Resto Shaman Who Could

Alright folks, gather around and take a knee.

I have a story I want to share with you today.

His name is Dobby. No, he’s not a house elf. Dobby’s story isn’t exactly unique, but I wanted to share how his work ethic and drive to raid contributed to his cracking the lineup.

When Dobby first came to us a few months ago, we were already well into Dragon Soul at that point. If memory serves, we were halfway through the instance on the hard mode stuff.

But there is no way Dobby could’ve made a meaningful contribution at the time.

  • He had been out of the game for a few months.
  • He was barely loaded with Firelands gear.
  • Completely unfamiliar with Dragon Soul mechanics, much less heroic mode.

We knew that taking him in would be a calculated risk. There was a chance he would flame out and not care about raiding anymore, or thrive on the opportunity presented and work his way into the lineup.

Now most recruits who get rejected tend to turn away and look around for another guild with (shall we say) more accepting standards. They don’t care about putting in the time required to get the gear or playing to gain the necessary skills. But we told Dobby he could hang out with us in the guild and keep chipping away at his gear and continue playing.

And that’s exactly what he did.

Whenever a guild member posted that they were looking for players for a Firelands run, he was the first to volunteer for it. Naturally, as one of the few mail wearer’s, Dobby obtained first pickings to everything and the Firelands heroic drops augmented his character quite nicely.

Looking for raid, another fantastic gearing out process, was available and he ran that on his own time whenever the raid week reset to roll on drops and secure Valor points to purchase specific upgrades.

To top it off, he watched our livestreams and idled our Mumble channel when we were raiding. Dobby stayed on top of the subtle changes that were made throughout all the attempts so that in the event he was called in, he wasn’t a liability. He seamlessly fit right in during the times he was called to action.

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Christopher Gardner (Will Smith), The Pursuit of Happyness

Dobby is a perfect model story for the ideal recruit who doesn’t get accepted right away. That’s the kind of work ethic that scores big points with recruiters and leaders. Recruits who understand their weakness and work hard to minimize or remove it are the kind of players that I look for. You can’t teach that attitude. Of course, he could’ve taken the easy way out and just gave up. But Dobby chose to do it because he wanted to raid with us. Once the goals were laid out, he just went out and did everything he could to earn it.

He’s not the only one. One of our Holy Paladins (I’ll call him Moe), just about did the same thing. We gave him constant feedback in areas he needed to improve on and he gradually improved his play to help anchor the tanks when they needed it.

Don’t feel dejected if you don’t get in the first time. At least you know what you need to do to ace it the second time.

 

Discipline: The Cooldown Spec

Flipping through the various Priest spells in anticipation of MoP, I noticed something about the cooldowns. Discipline has a little more than Holy. Anyone else thinking it’s starting to look a little cooldown heavy?

Both specs

Holy

Discipline

The cooldown on Spirit Shell’s a minute long. DIscipline’s playstyle feels a little different now. I’d feel a little better if Spirit Shell could be switched to a stance akin to Chakra. You could toggle Spirit Shell on and off between healing and absorbs instead.

But I digress.

The main point I wanted to go with is that it feels like we’re starting to juggle a rather high amount of cooldowns now. The game isn’t quite as simple as it was before. Cooldown bloat? Seems like it’s getting there to me. Here’s what the required cooldowns for healers should be (at minimum):

  • A tank save
  • A raid save
  • A mana replenishing save
  • A class specific save

Those are all should be what’s needed. Every healer has something to help protect the tank and the entire raid with. They get an ability to help restore mana (either to themselves or to the raid). Lastly, they get one other cooldown that’s unique to their class (Lightwell, Rebirth, etc). With Discipline, you get one that makes your next spell free. You have another one that increases your healing done and gives back mana. Power Infusion would’ve belonged onto that list if it wasn’t made available to all specs.

Hope they don’t add too many more in the future.

Going to try to heal more instances and such as Discipline though. Really want to try to master that class. But I need to relearn when to use which abilities when (truest of Spirit Shell).

EDIT: I didn’t list any of the CDs accessible via talents. (Power Infusion, Cascade, etc)

No Attunements: It’s a Good Thing

No Attunements: It’s a Good Thing

Remember Burning Crusade? It was WoW’s first expansion. Whole new continent to explore. We were able  to challenge Illidan for supremacy of Outland. Heroics were introduced for the first time. Content was difficult and everyone was going through it at a manageable pace. Progression felt like progression because it seemed like stuff would take forever to do and you had to wait for everyone else to catch up.

We’re not talking a simple BRD run to get attuned for Molten Core, either. We’re talking full fledged chains and reputation requirements.

Seriously, the only real “fun” aspect of the system was that you could lord it over other people who couldn’t do it. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I used to be one of those people.

“Oh what’s that? You can’t get into Serpentshrine? Sorry to hear that man, I gotta go raid it right now.”

I wasn’t proud of who I was then. But I was young, I didn’t know better, and it felt like a status thing to me. I could get into this one instance that only a select few people could get into. Tempest Keep was like the prefect’s bathroom of Hogwarts that only the best and hardest working could get into. It was another way to measure and compare your character’s “worth” against others.

Look at this diagram below (Can click to expand).

830px-WoWRaids

Look at what a mess the entire Burning Crusade tier was.

You had to get keys and hit revered with certain factions just to hit different raids. The benefit attunements came with is that the players who went through the entire gauntlet were well trained at the end. They put in the hours, the wipes, and were well equipped to handle the raids. The attunement process took them through so many instance runs that they had to inevitably gear up through drops or valor that by the time they finished, their character could survive and contribute to the raid.

Not a bad raiding initiation and training process.

Pre-nerf Shattered Halls.

Pre-nerf Shadow Labyrinth.

I’m hoping challenge modes return or exceed that level of difficulty.

Actually, I will grant that there is one thing I liked about the way everything was laid out. Progression was clearly laid out. There wasn’t a recommended path or anything, but you clearly knew based on the quests received what you had to do in order to get to the end. Cataclysm was a little more open ended at max level. Call it a hunch, but when given too many options or choices, I suspect people might freeze up and not where to go. I believe it’s called Decision paralysis. Does it apply? Maybe. So much selection and not knowing where to go.

I’m hoping Mists will have some signposts that offer some insight on where you should go first.

With the first raiding tier of Wrath, you could waltz into Obsidian Sanctum then onwards to Naxx. But only after taking Sapphiron’s key could you assault Malygos in the Eye of Eternity.

So bottom lining this, I’m not in a rush to see Attunements return. But I’m not opposed if a minor gating mechanism was in place for select bosses. The way Algalon’s was setup or Sinestra is one way you can place a pseudo-attunement in place. In addition, I was internally debating with myself the idea of either select guild attunements or account based attunements. Not sure what conditions or settings would have to be in order to pull it off, but it’s something in the back of my mind.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

Being Canadian, I don’t celebrate it, but I know many of my American friends do. Was down in the States over the weekend (Portland, to be exact). Beautiful drive on the way down. Anyway, just wanted to add to celebrate responsibly and don’t get too hammered out there.

Highlight of that trip? Bacon maple donuts from Voodoo Donuts. What a recommendation. I wish I had more time to stay and explore the city.