7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

Are you suffering from an SAG?

That’s short for “Socially Awkward Guild”.

Most guilds have a site or some place to talk about stuff outside of the game. Forums are a great way to foster ongoing communication between your guild members outside of the game. For Conquest, the forums house information from strategy and feedback to guild sanctioned meetups. It’s difficult to get people to start using forums at the beginning especially if they’re not used to it or they’ve never been in a guild with active forums to begin with. Forum activity is one of those aspects of a guild website that takes a little time to grow and where success requires participation from other guild members.

The ideas you see below are common in guilds of all types. Don’t wait for someone else to start a topic. Seize the initiative and be social! I guarantee you that your GM will be thankful (or at least, grateful for the attempt).

Raid Attendance threads

Some raiding guilds prefer using a signup system while others stand by the sign out system. No matter which one you choose, it involves your guild indicating their availability for an upcoming raid. A signup system sounds a little tedious but can be managed with a group that doesn’t raid as often. Imagine raiding three times a week and being required to post a reply saying that you’re able and willing to come! It gets really draining fast. What happens if you forget and your spot gets forfeited? In contrast, a sign out system only requires you to post when you’re missing a raid due to an event that you can’t miss. I’ve had players sign out because of typical things like exams or overtime. In one case, I had a player put up pictures of raging wild fires near their house and indicated that they wouldn’t be able to make it!

Guild picture thread

We all want to know what the player behind the character looks like. The person who you envision when you hear them might not actually match up with what they look like. Mind you, this is all up to the discretion of the individual guild members and how they feel about putting their face out there on the internet. Also, as a word to the wise, there’s bound to be someone who’ll try to troll the rest of the team by putting a picture that isn’t actually them.

nph“I swear guys, I really am Neil Patrick Harris!”

Strategies thread

This is meant for raiding and PvP guilds. It’s great to consolidate all resources into one area. Members can share tips for struggling players or little nuances to squeeze out extra DPS. After every raid, I try to add any new modifications so that the players who weren’t involved in the recent attempts can stay up to speed on the changes. To keep things relatively clean and on topic, create a new thread for each boss that you’re working on.

What’s your job title thread

This one’s always at the discretion of the player and some people will choose to be as vague or as specific as possible. In the history of Conquest, I think we’ve had several Professors. We’ve had a police officer. A firefighter. Lots of IT and finance folks. Many players in science related professions as well. It’s a good way to break the ice especially a newer guild that’s just formed. Good way to find interests with other players outside of the game as well.

Post your system specs thread

In a WoW guild, chances are there’s enough tech geeks who would gobble all that stuff up. Some of the less technically minded might chime in asking for suggestions on upgrades or advice on how to get their system to run efficiently. Depending on how intense it goes, you might have to reign it in lest you end up inadvertently starting an nVidia vs ATI war.

Patch discussion thread

A thread like this will usually end up with a few people complaining dejectedly about the nerfs their class received. But it’s a good place for players to collectively spitball new ideas or discuss the new changes coming to the game. Bonus: Everyone enjoys a good “HA HA YOU GOT NERFED” fest.

Embedded chat room

With Enjin’s guild tools, I’ve added a little chat module at the very top of the guild forums. This is another way to bring people together as not only does the guild defeat virtual dragons as one unit but it functions as a place to to help people get through their day. Everyone loves to complain about something (in fact, I’m probably responsible for 25% of the whining on our chat about the most mundane things while my guild silently rolls their eyes at me).

This is just a start. The sign of an active and healthy forum correlates to an active and healthy guild.

What other forum topics have been successful in generating meaningful discussion? Have you incorporated any other cool addons or widgets to keep interest flowing?

The Time Bomb Every Guild Leader Holds

The Time Bomb Every Guild Leader Holds

The original Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clockface that first originated in 1947 by some really smart people (directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists). The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the entire world gets to a global catastrophe. Right now, the clock is at 5 minutes to midnight. As nations attempt to find ways to secure nuclear weapons, time gets added. If they’re unable to agree or if additional nations become nuclear capable, time gets removed.

Have you heard of the guild doomsday clock?

It’s this internal timer that GMs have. When it hits zero, the guild collapses in spectacular bits. The progression clock is naturally about raiding. If you recruit new players or get progression kills, time is added. If you lose players for any reason or wipe continually to bosses, time is subtracted.

This is not going to be apparent to most people. But every guild leader has that internal pressure on them whether they realize it or not. They have a mandate to uphold and goals to achieve. Every failure adds more pressure until they can’t take it anymore and disband. I’ve seen it to happen to guilds that I never would have expected to shut down. I run this organization everyday wondering if it’ll be the last and it’s been like that for the better part of a year. Fear is an exceptionally powerful motivator.

How does time get added and removed from the doomsday clock?

Subtracting time

  • Losing players
  • Losing officers
  • Excessive wiping on normal mode
  • Suspending progression
  • Missed raids
  • Drama issues resulting in splintering

Adding time

  • Gaining players
  • Officers who are stable and not burning out
  • Farming bosses in one shot
  • Meaningful, visible progression
  • Positive attendance
  • Overall satisfaction and happiness

Over the past year, I’ve seen the clock hands gradually tick forward to midnight. Officers have become burned out. Players schedules and their lives have changed. I’m not able to adjust fast enough. I still have no viable raid leader I can pass some of this load to. That alone is my biggest need and there’s no job board or recruiting forum I can go to for something like this. It’s hard to grow a raid leader if no one has the time, desire, or skillsets to do it. Stable raid leaders are a premium.

Thankfully, wee were able to raid with the bare minimum with 25. The fact is that there are still people here who wish to raid and see more of the game. I’ve almost all but written off this tier and am in the process of retooling for Siege of Orgrimmar. This is the time of year where it’s so hard to recruit because players are firmly entrenched in their raiding guilds or they’re taking a break to enjoy the sun. Thankfully, we’ve picked up a few more players in the past week and added some time to it but we’re still extremely close to midnight.

Senior man cutting grass with shears

It’s like cutting grass with garden shears, isn’t it?

Our current roster is just not quite there for hard modes. Some of the players don’t have the experience. Others don’t have the gear. I’ve had to make the unpopular decision to temporarily suspend hard mode progression until the bottom end can catch up appropriately. Everyone who has been here has been farming normal modes for months. We’ve been able to 22 man our way through most bosses past even Dark Animus. We took a player’s alt Ret Paladin which started off with a 460 ilevel and ended the night at 502. They didn’t really do much DPS, but they were a body and and an Aura Mastery. The fear? That people at the top grow impatient and have no desire to stick around waiting for the bottom end to catch up and repeating the cycle.

It’s pretty damn sad.

I’ve been in similar situations before in the past. But there was always a clear, well lit path forward. I had a large and familiar group of officers more experienced than I was at the time who helped steer me the right way (like Syd). But man, it’s super lonely right now. But like any true leader, you can’t show weakness. It’s easy to repeat that everything’s going to be okay. In the back of mind, I don’t like that because I like having actionable steps and plans to move up.

The best I can really do is recruit and pray.

A stable and sizable raid roster needs to be the first fix. But it’s going to be for naught if I can’t get a raid leader somewhere. Throne of Thunder may very well be the most disastrous showing for this organization since Ulduar. We’re an above average normal mode guild. But this roster has much to learn about heroic raiding. It’s the difference between the regular season and playoffs. Have to find that ON switch.

Tick tock.

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Kurn

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Kurn

One of the first regular series I ran on WoM nearly 5 years ago involved interviewing WoW bloggers. It was a way to peer into their personality both in real life and in the virtual. Unrelated, I remember the Newbie Blogger Initiative that took place year. I offered my own advice for new and veteran bloggers both. This time around though, I’ll be conducting interviews with other established bloggers specifically about blogging itself. Everyone has their own style, voice, and habits.

Kurn continues to be a powerful authority in the realm of guild leadership. She has blogged about the different facets of running a guild dating back to as early as 2008. She is a prolific holy paladin and blogger who has hung up her mace and shield in favour of retirement.

In this interview, we’re going to look at her blogging side and how she breaks through the typically challenges that tend to stonewall bloggers.

So who exactly are you and what do you do?

My name is Kurn and I have a sociology background. I’m an expert in online communities and a halfway decent writer. I am a former WoW guild master, raid leader, healing lead and raider.

What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger? That’s a tough question. I guess my guide-type posts were always something I both really enjoyed as well as dreaded. On the one hand, I always enjoyed writing about how to play on a somewhat basic level and then graduating to more advanced techniques, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to just give out basic information without overloading people with more advanced stuff all at once.

Where can we find your work?

My blog is found here! (Or in Matt’s sidebar).

Art of Productivity

How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?

That really depends on what the topic is. If I’m really familiar with it, not a lot of time at all. For the aforementioned guide posts, I could count on a solid four hours or so of researching and even more time testing certain things to ensure I know exactly what I’m talking about. Other types of posts are really just me retelling things or giving advice, so those tend to be less based on research and prior reading. In those cases, I tend to just let my thoughts spill out on to the page.

How do you prepare yourself before blogging?

I like to sit down during a time when I am not likely to be interrupted, preferably with a cup of tea, and just dive right in. Sometimes, I’ll write an outline, especially if the posts are comprehensive and long, but usually I’ll just start writing. The tea is helpful because I can sip at it while pondering how best to phrase something. (You can replace “tea” with any beverage of your choice.)

How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?

There’s no reason NOT to write what you’re thinking. Editing is part of the process, but worry about editing when you’re done writing. Sit down, just get the words down, then go back and see if it makes sense!

When is the best time of day for you to blog?

2 o’clock in the morning is my magic hour. I love blogging late at night. I used to be really productive in the early afternoon, but circumstances have changed such that I’m pretty busy during the afternoons these days. Late-night writing (including blogging) is great. No phone calls, no distractions.

How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging?

I blog a lot less frequently than I used to, but I probably spend about two or three hours a week dealing with my blog. By that, I mean thinking about writing blogs, responding to comments, tweeting about blogs and the like. I probably spend one or two hours a week writing specifically for my blog, unless it’s been a really busy week and I feel as though I should post more. More posts mean, of course, more hours spent writing.

How many days a week?

When it comes to writing for the blog, it’s really just one or two days a week at this point.

Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?

My inspirations generally aren’t people, but rather emotions. If something pisses me off, I’m going to write about it. If something makes me really happy, I’m going to write about it. If something happens to make me really think about things, I’m going to write about it. As to favourite authors, there are too many to name, but notable writers of late have been Chris Guillebeau, Chip & Dan Heath and Janet Evanovich (whose Stephanie Plum series of books is hilarious and great brain candy). I also really, really enjoyed Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series, even though it’s not great literature or anything. I think Rosenberg’s writing influenced me on a basic level because that series was the first fantasy series I’d ever read.

What quote best defines you?

That’s a tough one. I have a favourite quote, but it doesn’t really *define* me. So I’ll share this one by Mark Twain, instead:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

It resonates with me because I like to look out for the underdog. I always want to make sure people are being treated fairly. In my experience, once you’re in with the “majority”, that same majority will easily forget the problems of the minorities, even if they were part of the minority recently. When you’re in with the majority, that’s when you really have to examine everything from another perspective, I think.

What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?

My favourite type of music to listen to at all times is 90s alternative rock. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you.

Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?

I’ve spent most of the last several years blogging about intimate details about the World of Warcraft. Now that I no longer play (and haven’t, for over seven months!), I find I still have things to say about the game, but I have a much more distant view. None of the things happening in the game now affect me directly, so I have a different perspective. Due to that perspective, I find I can take a wider view of the game and gaming in general.

How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?

I definitely believe in it. Sometimes you just have to walk away from the writing and let it settle and percolate, as I’m fond of saying. I help rid myself of writer’s block by going for a run, playing silly casual iPad games or even taking a shower. Sometimes sleeping helps, too. Sometimes, just starting fresh helps. Don’t let yourself get blocked by what you’ve already written! You can *always* start fresh.

Follow up: Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?

When I was blogging frequently, pretty much almost every day, I tried to look at everything I was doing as a story that I could then recount on my blog.

Bad LFG in heroic Halls of Reflection? Time to blog about it.

Hilarious search terms in my Google Analytics? Time to blog about it.

I’d also spend a lot of time thinking about what I would want to read about. One other thing I did was to think about what others might be curious about and then pre-emptively answering those questions as best I could.

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?

I’m loud. I’m controversial. I’m opinionated. Frankly, I can’t be any other way. I am passionate about a lot of things and World of Warcraft is still one of them, even if I don’t play any longer. (That’s weird. I know.) I’m happy to call attention to things I disagree with and I’m happy to bring attention to things I think are great and all of that is regardless of what everyone else thinks.

Art of blogging

How would you define a truly great blogger?

A truly great blogger needs to have new content on a consistent basis. Not every day, but something consistent, probably about two or maybe three times a week. They need to write something that, most of the time, will make me think. They need to write something that inspires me one way or the other, that may spur me into action or may just rattle around my brain for a couple of weeks. A really great blogger should also be timely when it comes to news, although there should be plenty of posts that have very little to do with the news as well.

What platform do you blog on?

WordPress, self-hosted.

Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?

There are quite a few blogs I read, but the one I *always* read as soon as I can is Rohan’s Blessing of Kings. Rohan has a ton of great ideas and information and, most importantly, different perspectives on things. I don’t always agree, but I’m always left thinking more on the subject.

Is there a specific program you use for blogging?

Nope, just log in to my WordPress install in Firefox, Chrome or through the iPad app.

Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task? I just try to minimize the distractions. I also discovered, while doing my university degree, that I work best in small chunks of 45 minutes. So I’ll set a timer for 45 minutes and will force myself to take a short break after the time’s up. Focusing for 45 minutes is easy compared to “an hour” or more, at least for me!

What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?

Several.

Lots of people are jerks.

Lots of people are sexist misogynists.

The first thing I did to help myself out was write a comments policy.

You can disagree with me all you want on my blog, but you do it with respect, or I throw out your comment and ban you from commenting. I also dealt with feeling as though I had to censor myself, or at least write differently, when I restarted my guild at the start of Cataclysm. While my blog had previously commented on “idiot guildies” (from other guilds I’d been in during Wrath of the Lich King), I had to restrain myself from venting any frustrations about my guild on my blog and my Twitter, for fear of giving the wrong impression of myself and my guildmates. Most of these frustrations were very temporary in nature (oh God, why can’t this person hit Heroic Will properly?!?!) so it wasn’t too hard to restrain myself, but it was very different from how I’d previously written.

Have any strategies on staying organized?

I plead the Canadian equivalent of the Fifth Amendment. (Section 11 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in case you’re curious.)

How do you unwind after your day is over?

Generally, I like to watch a bit of television or Netflix or write until my eyes can’t stay open any longer.

Art of fun

What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?

People who don’t take the time to learn more about whatever it is they’re doing. There are resources out there for just about anything you could ever want to do. Go out there and LEARN MORE. Please. Pretty please.

Do you have a slogan that you adhere to?

Practice random acts of kindness. I’ve even got that printed on my cheques. (Not that I use them that often, but still.)

What has been your proudest achievement?

In Warcraft, probably getting server first Heroic Hagara, Hand of A’dal or my Rhok’delar. In real life, definitely getting my university degree. In terms of writing, succeeding at National Novel Writing Month twice. Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with. THEEEEEEEE Matticus! ;) Okay, seriously, probably Anita Sarkeesian. I would LOVE to pick her brain about feminism, cyberspace, meatspace and various other things. If she’s not famous enough, let’s go with Felicia Day because I’d love to pick HER brain about writing, The Guild, WoW and how she used her WoW experience as a starting point for all the amazing things she’s had a hand in creating. Alternatively, I would love to sit across from the Stanley Cup during dinner…

What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?

Canoeing, kayaking and skiing. I love canoeing and skiing and have been doing those since I was a kid, but both of those (and kayaking, actually) tend to require my going to my parents’ cottage. So I’d like to do more of those activities, but I’m unsure if I can manage to get around the parents’ cottage requirement. Also, more writing. ALWAYS more writing.

You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?

Keep everything (addons, software, etc) up to date lest PHP injections hit your site and it takes six months for Google to remove the “This site may be compromised” tag from your listing. (Seriously.)

Where can readers find you online?

In addition to my blog, I’m also on Twitter.

Finally, a new site is in the works and you’ll be able to find some of my current projects at Kurn’s Guides.

What else would you like readers to know?

Three friends and I had to do the old Jailbreak! quest twice in a row for our friend, Majik, who died on the first attempt and thus failed the quest. Seriously. Jailbreak. Twice. IN A ROW. At something like two in the morning. Also, Wil Wheaton (and Stand By Me) is indirectly responsible for several of the most meaningful friendships in my life. Strangely, he is also aware of this fact. (Two very long stories.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper behind the scenes without an actual look at their battlestation where they work. Thanks for sharing it with us, Kurn!

 

kurn-desk

21 Things You Don’t Hear in Raid Finder

  • I think all the classes are balanced the way they are right now.
  • Ghostcrawler? Hell yeah I agree with everything he’s said about my class!
  • I would much rather queue for Raid Finder on my own that go with people from my own guild who I trust!
  • I have no problems doing dailies after because I love them!
  • That’s okay. I know I didn’t get the drop I wanted but I’m sure I’ll get it soon!
  • I’m just running raid finder for fun. I don’t need valor or loot.
  • My trinkets are proccing right when I need them to!
  • We don’t need to use Heroism or Bloodlust at all.
  • I’m sure the Priest who Life Gripped me meant well when he pulled me into the void zone.
  • Sure, as the off tank I’d be happy to taunt exactly when you need me to!
  • I respect your opinion. I think it’s absolutely valid.
  • You’re right, I’m not at the top of the DPS meters. I’m clearly not playing at my best.
  • Gee guys, I’d love to queue up with all of you again!
  • Our healers are doing an excellent job!
  • I ended up at the last boss again, but I don’t mind killing him even though I needed only the first two.
  • Congrats Warriors/Hunters/Shamans/Monks, we got three Prot shoulder tokens again! –  (Thanks @metao)
  • Whoo! We killed the boss! I got exactly what I wanted!
  • You must all be veteran, experienced players who know what they’re doing and have researched every boss fight in here!
  • I am happy with getting 16 gold on a coin roll I’ve used for the 10th straight week in a row!
  • It’s okay, I don’t need a summon!
  • That’s okay, we don’t have to kick that obviously AFK Mage over there who’s not casting anything.

What else would be extremely unlikely for someone to say in Raid Finder?

Emergency AFK? 6 Ways to Handle It Like a Pro

Emergency AFK? 6 Ways to Handle It Like a Pro

Have you ever heard of the perfect storm of raiding?

Not a single cloud in the sky. Calm and steady waves. You have enough players present even though 1 or 2 players have signed out for the day. But you can’t quite shake that feeling it’s just too good to be true.

For us, it started out much the same. But then, a series of unfortunate events occurred. Lodur had a computer shortage. I had to race through the streets to pick up mom. Some people were going to be a little late due to overtime at work. We were ultimately left standing with 22 people. What could we do until everyone had returned to their battle stations?

On the perfect day, none of these things would have happened. But every so often, you get that day where the universe just likes to screw with you and cause havoc for players. As the GM, I admit that feel uneasy and anxious when not raiding. All that time is being wasted just by sitting there.

stormcloud

What do you do if you don’t have a full crew to work with? Are there options when someone needs to step out briefly for a few minutes?

If there’s trash still up, go do what your parents yelled at you to do when you were younger and take out the trash! By the time you clear it, the player should be back in business and ready to go.

1. Switch another player in

Easiest solution. Is there any other players online that you can pull in? Most raiding teams have a bench or maybe you have a recruit who is willing to step in. Activate the members you have around who you can grab.

2. Make some attempts in, even if it’s short handed

Just because there’s a player out doesn’t mean you can’t at least get warmed up and give exposure to your players. Have them get a handle for the opening phases. Start practicing some of the mechanics. Get them thinking about how they’re going to react to the different phases. By the time your other raider gets back, they’re the one that has to play catch up.

3. Downshift and clear (Heroic)

This is generally not a first option. I’d only consider this under a few circumstances. First, it’s clear that the players gone aren’t going to be back anytime soon. We’re talking an internet outage or a computer exploding or some other case where it’ll take longer than the rest of raid to resolve. Second, the raid group is nearing the end of the raid week. Maybe the raid is on a day 2 or a day 3 and it’s clear that there won’t be enough time left. Lastly, if there is still valuable loot to be had in the rest of the instance. Certain trinkets, weapons, or 4-piece drops that players are missing will warrant an instance clear.

4. Alternate content

Within instances like Naxx or the first tier of raids in Cataclysm, you had options on where to go and what bosses to do. Throne of Thunder is completely linear. In previous instances, your raid could have switched to a different wing and gotten down a different boss (preferably one on farm) while you waited for the lone player to return.

5. Wait and call an early break

Easiest solution on the planet. Give people a breather. It’s not uncommon for players to switch screens or alt tab and browse other sites (like this one) and catch up on other things going on. If you’re on a progression boss, the wait can allow players to catch up on additional information. Or be like me and sneak off to grab a quick bite from the fridge. It’s free time to spend!

6. Flex it up

Enough said. I’ve written about it a few times here (and here). No need to elaborate here! But it’ll be available in the next patch as something to kill prolonged time with.

Don’t despair like me at the thought of an underwhelmingly numbered raid. There’s always something that can be done until your group is back to full strength. However, if you find yourself consistently at less than capacity, then you’re going to want to start addressing that.

Do I Really Need to Run 3 Raids a Week?

Do I Really Need to Run 3 Raids a Week?

If you haven’t checked it out yet, WoW Insider has started releasing a series of weekly Google Hangout videos. On the WoW Hangout, it’s a group of us WoW Insider folks talking about different topics on a week to week basis. This week, we talked about Flex raids.

One of the questions posed was “Do you think it’s going to be mandatory for players to run three sets of raids? Isn’t that extreme?” I wanted to expand on my answers.

It all comes down to what you want out of this game. Over the years, there’s been this mad rush to get your character as geared out as possible so that you can do all the harder and fun stuff. Flex adds a third potential raiding lockout that you and your raid group can take advantage of. I feel that a small percentage of people will actually do this and try to blitz through all three lockouts. However, we need to remember that Raid Finder and Flex will be gated on release day. I remember reading somewhere that Flex will be on a slightly faster timetable (Can’t source it, so I may be incorrect).

It’s not something you can simply queue into either like you would for Raid Finder.

flex-toggle

If you actually do choose to run three raids a week, you should be able to get the armor and gear you need for your character quickly. That’s three sets of “loot pools” to choose from. Eventually, you’ll reach an equilibrium where there’s no longer a purpose to running the Raid Finder. You’ll be bouncing between Flex and Normal. After that, you’ll (at minimum) have items that are at least equal to the Flex level of drops. Won’t need to run that anymore, either. Your time should then be freed up to running just the Normal a week.

At least, that’s under the generous assumption that the loot Gods are kind to you. Did you remember to make your monthly Murloc sacrifice to appease them?

I really think that once all of the raid lockouts are available, players in raid groups that are ahead of the curve won’t be running all three week. Don’t kill yourself running this.

Plus summer’s here!

As for me, once Matticus is done being all geared out, I won’t be bringing him into those side raids anymore. If anything, I’ll activate Saphfira (Elemental Shaman) and Denesia (Frost Mage). That’ll keep giving me a reason to run Flex raids on our off nights of raiding (Wednesday nights). It’s completely optional and it’s the perfect environment for players with alts or working on offspecs to get some practice in case we need to call upon them on the main raid. Until Flex comes out, my guild and friends are content with running parts 3 and 4 of ToT. Part 2 simply takes too long because there’s so much trash and snails. I’m not inclined to run part 1, either.

Some of our retired raiders have even expressed some interest in coming back just for that. It’s a lower stress environment and they know that the group we have has the capability to smash through it.

I’ve seen the projected map for the new Siege of Orgrimmar raid. It’s expected to contain 13 bosses. My worry is that we may not be able to get through all of that in a single night. If that happens, we’re going to need to split the run into a week 1 and week 2 deal where we can knock out as much as possible in the first day before coming back next week and cleaning up.

Here’s another blue post with more details about how the lockout will work.

“Will the lockout be similar to LFR where you can run it again (with only 1 chance per week for loot) or will it be like normal, where you can only kill a boss once per week?”

Right now, the idea is to have FR lockouts work very similarly to lockouts in LFR.
You will be able to repeat bosses, and that will actually still be somewhat rewarding, you’ll be able to use additional bonus rolls, earn Valor Points, and potentially loot some shinnies from trash…

There’s something unique about FRs though, I’ll explain it with an example:
Let’s say you join a 12man and kill the first boss, leave the raid, and join a 20man, you might have to repeat the first boss.

“Might”, so how does that work?
If everyone in the new 20man raid has already killed the first boss just like you did, then that boss will not spawn.
But even if only 1 of the players in that 20man has not killed the first boss, he will spawn again and everyone else will have to repeat the encounter.

Source

Yikes! Maybe the whole week 1/week 2 raiding thing won’t work as well as I thought! That’s assuming we bring in a new player the next week. Being able to farm the same bosses repeatedly for valor points? Hrm!

Are you thinking about running all three lockouts or are you content with just one or two? What plans do you have about your alts (if any)?

Patch 5.4 Preliminary Priest Thoughts

Patch 5.4 Preliminary Priest Thoughts

General

  • Leap of Faith no longer has a facing requirement.

Say hello to the no-look life grip! I promise, I will only use this power against trolls. In all due seriousness, it’s a minor quality of life change. I can move and face the direction I want to go and not have to whip my camera around mid movement to pull a fellow player away from danger.

Talents

  • Angelic Feather now increases allies’ movement speed by 80%, up from 60% and the feathers have a duration of 10 minutes, up from 5 minutes.
  • Divine Insight for Discipline Priests now has a 100% chance to activate its effect after using Penance, up from 40%.
  • Twist of Fate’s damage and healing threshold to activate has been increased to 35%, up from 20%.

Angelic Feather change? Neat, I guess. Still not quite attractive enough in a raid setting. Too much effort, I think. Harder to work with on 25.

Power Infusion is the primary staple in the fifth talent tier (in most cases, anyway). Divine Insight triggered quite often for Holy Priests but not very often for Discipline. It should make it a little more lucrative. It’s essentially an extra Prayer of Mending Power Word: Shield on targets.

Twist of Fate change is agreeable. An extra 15% buffer means more frequent activations. Should come in handy in large, multi target ad fights for Shadow (like Primordius). It’s good news for raid-assigned healing priests (whack the mole with the lowest health first).

Shadow

  • Shadowform no longer reduces all damage taken by 15%.

Now I’m going to get two shot by Rogues instead of three. Sad smile

Class Armor

  • Restoration PvP 4-piece set bonus is no longer an area-of-effect and only affects the character that dispels Vampiric Touch.

Aaaaah, this might’ve been too strong in PvP. It was fun while it lasted, at least.

Tier 16 bonuses

  • Priest T16 2P Bonus (New) Serendipity also increases the healing of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing by 50% per stack. While Archangel is active, your critical chance is increased by 10%.
  • Priest T16 4P Bonus (New) Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending casts increase the effect of your next Holy Word spell by 50%, stacking up to 10 times. While Spirit Shell is active, you gain 10% haste and 3,500 mastery.
  • Priest T16 Shadow 2P Bonus (New) Shadowy Recall effects have their critical damage bonus increased by 100%.
  • Priest T16 Shadow 4P Bonus (New) Each Shadow Orb consumed for Devouring Plague increases the damage of your next Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Death, or Mind Spike cast within 12 sec by 20%.

Not sure if the two piece bonus is going to stay. But the Holy side of it is incredible. Increased potency of Prayer of Healing alone with just two Flash Heals (and the Serendipity effect)? However, the 10% crit is nothing to completely sneeze at. I think maybe it should go up slightly. 15% seems like a good number. If you’re not automatically triggering Archangel, this better be a good enough incentive for you! As for the four piece, I can see Circle of Healing and Prayer racking up some big time Holy Word charges. Nice for Blizzard to sneak in a pseudo-buff to Sanctuary and Serenity. The Spirit Shell bonus is no joke either. Try to time Archangel and Spirit Shell together for extra Divine Aegis proccing fun.

The Shadow bonuses are certainly cool on their own. I think Shadow Recall refers to our little Shadow copies that periodically run into the boss. The four piece is good in the sense it doesn’t really need us to change anything in our rotation significantly. We should still be using them at a full charge of Shadow Orbs, I think.

Don’t think this is going to be final just yet.

Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

I recently purchased a Flex plan from my cell company where I’d be charged monthly based on the amount of data I actually used. I don’t know if I’ll always be near a wireless access point or not but at least the charges will scale accordingly.

Speaking of Flex plans, Blizzard’s taking a page out of that book and introduced a new type of raiding: The Flex Raid difficulty.

  • We can bring anywhere from 10 – 25 people and the bosses will scale.
  • We can invite friends from other realms via battle tag
  • Item level is between raid finder and normal but loot will be handled via raid finder loot system
  • Separate lockout from raid finder, normal/heroic

I’m still digesting the news. Usually my raid will run through raid finder once a week. We’ve started bringing in and carrying our alts. People are still running raid finder to grab their Titan Runestones at the start. Raid finder is great if I just want to mind numbingly get my way through an instance, gear up an alt, and just generally not have to think but mash buttons. I can eat every void zone, stand in every fire, miss every interrupt, and can live (most of the time).

What kind of example am I setting, right?

Why it’s good

This is great for guilds and cross realm raid groups. Players don’t have to transfer their characters from server to server to raid. I know there’s players out there who have a whole train of alts with assorted professions designed to support their main. If that player is satisfied with raiding on the flex plan, then they can still see the content in the game without committing money to move their supply train.

Second, from a recruiting standpoint, this is a huge tool for a prospect to raid with a potential guild and see if they’d fit in. Right now, we run livestreams and invite possible recruits on to our Mumble in order to give them a look at our raids. I can see a day set aside where recruits can jump in and raid with the team – And the beauty is a whole 25 man team isn’t going to be needed either.

Third, what about guilds that are looking to scale up from 10 to 25 man? This is another excellent way for them to gradually expand. It’s often a nightmare to make an immediate jump from a 10 man to a 25 man raiding guild. Sometimes the pool of player availability isn’t always there. The flex raid allows them to slowly (but surely) change their raid size until a consistent 25 raiders is found for the inevitable shift to normal modes.

But at the end of the day, Flex Raid isn’t a normal raid. It will never carry the prestige or reputation that normal and heroic kills grant. I doubt it’ll be taken seriously but maybe that’s what the main point of the flex raid is. It’s not designed to be cutting edge or challenging. It’s supposed to bring you, your family, and your friends together to raid where you don’t have to deal with potential morons in raid finder. You get to raid on your terms with whoever you want with relaxed restrictions.

Will you flex?

I’m still weighing the costs and benefits of working in Flex raiding for Conquest. I’d remove guild sanctioned Raid Finder from the list of activities and swap to this instead. At minimum, I would have to have at least two tanks available for this. With Raid Finder, I’d be able to go in with whatever composition I had available. The potential drops are better than raid finder anyway. I imagine my current raiding gear from Throne of Thunder will be better than the Raid Finder and flex drops in 5.4. If anything, Flex will be used to help ease our way into progression raids or on nights where half the raid is unable to attend.

Where does the flex raid factor into your guild’s raiding plans? What about your raiding plans? I’ll end up changing my Wednesday night raid finder to the flex raid instead.

Lei Shen: A Hollow Victory

Lei Shen: A Hollow Victory

This was more of an “about time” feeling then a “YES, WE GOT IT” feeling. I always knew Lei Shen was within our grasp. But something always came up that got in the way of really getting it. We yo-yo’d from wiping on first intermissions to 2% wipes with a debuff stack of 110 on the final phase and back. The attempts were never really ever consistent but I did what I could to try to keep the groups static and in the same positions. The lineup shuffled from raid to raid, but if even 18+ players were in the same spots with the same players, they would be able to get used to it.

I had set a target deadline of being in hardmodes in May. We killed Lei Shen on 25 just before June.

Oh sure, we killed it a couple of times on 10 man late at night before the raid reset. But I don’t consider progression kills on 10 man as progression kills for the guild. We’re a 25 man guild, first and foremost. If we don’t kill it with 25 players, then it never happened. I have no qualms if the team wants to go in to get practice on a progression boss on 10 man or try to squeeze out loot, but it means nothing.

I tell myself that the delay could’ve been attributed to newer players coming in. Some of them weren’t even equipped to properly do the content yet sporting LFR gear from the first Mists tier. Have to factor in the time training and showing new fights. I put these recruits into the frying pan on the nights our veterans are unable to show. But no, as much as I want to blame real life, I can’t.

Jobs, relationships, and school will always remain a constant factor. Unless I suddenly inherit millions of dollars and buy my own raid team, it’s nigh-impossible to expect everyone to make commitments. People get sick. There’s explosions at work. Imminent wildfires about to engulf the home. I can’t help but be bitter and curse the dice of real life rolling against me and my team. Must be punishment for the times I’ve gone to the casino in the past.

It’s your job (as a GM) to foresee these problems and account for them. Stomaching the occasional 1 – 2 player absence is doable. Raiding with an almost 20% deficit from a roster is just not going to get the job done on an end boss. Oddly enough, I was quite amazed at the play and effort of everyone when we raided short handed. It’s as if players automatically knew that they had to step up to really offset the players that weren’t here. They played their asses off and we pulled off some kills that were really close shaves (I didn’t think we could do some of them but was delightedly proven wrong).

Although, I bet the 5.3 item upgrade had a slight boost in there.

In the end, I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get this kill for our previous main tank.

I regret not being able to kill it for Haddion and Sweet who were claimed by real life.

Players that were with us from the beginning of this tier deserved to at least see this guy go down before retiring but we could not finish and limped over the finish line.

Did I not say the right words enough? Did I not make the necessary enough adjustments to our tactics? Did I get caught blindsided by attendance problems again?  Probably a combination of all of the above. It’s easy enough to look back and dissect what went wrong. The solutions are so easy in hindsight. I look at myself right in the eye when I’m in front of a mirror. You know what I see? I don’t see a field general. I see a guy who loves the game and his guild, but that’s just not enough. Not anymore.

I’m pissed off at myself more than anything else. But there’s no time to feel angry and sorry.

Heroic raids are coming up and we have some serious catching up to do.