About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Introducing the Guild Masters!

Introducing the Guild Masters!

Say hello to the Guild Masters.

Today I wanted to take a moment to announce the start of a new blog project. The idea came about after browsing through the Warcraft Guild and Leadership forums. Ran into questions and problems that guild leaders and officers were struggling with.

And you know what I realized?

There is no single place for guild leaders and officers to ask questions or gain support for common issues.

How should a guild leader handle drama?

How does an officer say no?

How do you “raid lead”?

What elements constitute a solid guild website?

Thus, the Guild Masters formed.

I’m hoping to expand a bit beyond that though. I’ve played League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive. All of those games involve elements of leadership but it’s not quite the same as leading in WoW. Eventually, I’d like to expand and incorporate those elements but for now, I’m going to focus on the MMO side of things.

If you’re interested, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter (@matticus) or add me to your battletag (Matticus#1773).

Conquest turns 7 years old this month. When I started, I didn’t really have that many resources available. I don’t remember the leadership forum having been created yet. I relied on mistakes observed in other guilds. I asked for advice and pointers from the few friends I had who were officers and leaders of their own guilds. I made my own share of screw ups along the way.

As a result, I laid down the ground work for the site back in April and started sketching out what I wanted it to be. It’s a site that’s targeted for newly promoted and minted leaders who might know what they’ve gotten themselves into. I’ve asked a few trusted and driven individuals to provide their own insight. But I’m determined to provide some help and assistance with the Ask A GM section. It’s been up for a month now so do check it out and let me know what you think (or want to see more of).

The small community back then gave me the confidence and skills into what I am today and I want to give back.

Here’s a small sample of posts that are up that’ll benefit you:

If you’re stuck with problems or want some advice, contact us and check out the forums! Guaranteed we’ve had similar experiences in the past.

Half a Year Later, Relieved at no Chat in Hearthstone

Half a Year Later, Relieved at no Chat in Hearthstone

That certainly took a while to reach.

Yes, I’ve managed to accomplish one of my goals for Hearthstone: Reaching Legendary status. Now I can relax some and experiment with other decks and classes before the next great hunter nerf. The deck I used was the one I linked to in my last post for Hunters. I can now begin focusing on trying my hand at tournaments. I was quite surprised to see that Legend players make up a really small percentage of the population. I guess that makes sense with around 20 million players but how many of them engage in the ladder, I wonder? I’m not a fan of the tournament mode where players are asked to bring 3 different classes but that’s the way it is. I’m experimenting right now on my Shaman, Priest, and Druid decks trying to decide which of them to use and which styles to play.

Anyway, my journey to being a Legend wasn’t quite the best experience. You’ll recall not too long ago about Blizzard’s decision to effectively silence and mute players preventing them from chatting with each other in the game.

Never have I been more glad for that decision. There’s plenty of sore losers out there who can’t seem to get over it and want to make themselves feel better by taking a parting shot at an opponent. I’ve been added after matches multiple times via the Battle Net friends list. Every time, I wonder if it’s going to be someone who actually wants to say good game or that’s a sweet deck, would you like to practice more?

Every time, I am constantly reminded of my own naivety. Players out there don’t seem to care about good sportsmanship. They’re bitter after a loss and just want to take it out on their opponents. I can understand that but it doesn’t mean I agree with it.

legend-rank2

First of all, I’m not actually sorry. Second, I am not a gentleman of African descent. And my scrub ass actually ascended to rank 2. The thing is, I would’ve expected this reaction no matter what deck I use.

legend-stuff

Like, what is it with the desire to send off one parting shot at your opponent? Adding them to your list, sending one well fired insult, and then removing them before they even get a chance to respond? It’s disappointing really. Incidents like these really magnify what the community is like because it’s the only serious exposure we get. When we as players square off against others who respond that negatively, it can be incredibly discouraging to other players who want to get involved in the game and take it more competitively.

Now, to be fair, I had the option to not accept the initial Battle tag request. That is definitely on me. It’s still a shame though that the only kinds of players willing to take the effort to add others are the types who we don’t really want to interact with in the community to begin with. I don’t have a a solution or any ideas how to even begin to resolve it. Perhaps if there was an in-game report button in the corner, it would be convenient enough to access and report the individual. I know the Battle Net chat frames have a reporting option for harassment.

What’s the point? To encourage better behaviour from players. Learned that from Riot’s playbook. Perhaps impose a penalty that gradually escalates based on reports received and examined. Unlike League of Legends, there’s no way to really gauge a player’s moves in games as being harassing or trolling or feeding since this is a 1 on 1 game. Perhaps what I should do is put my own cards where my mouth is and add opponents after every game and say GG instead. Sadly, I don’t think even that move will be received well at all.

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Face Hunter

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Face Hunter

I’ve been piloting the hunter deck throughout the month of August and peaked at rank 3. With a little more time, I think the deck would’ve been able to reach legend but I ran out of gas at the end. Here’s the deck list:

Face Hunter by Matticus
Class: Hunter

Hunter (20)

Neutral (10)

Here’s the win rates and percentages by class.

winrate-facehunter

As you can tell, the weakest matchups are against Rogues, Warriors, and Shamans. I’ve only won 2 out of 6 games against Rogues. Warriors are slightly better but expect to lose those matches 2 out of 3 times. But it doesn’t matter because all this deck needs to do is reliably win against the decks most often seen on the ladder: Hunters (55%) and Warlocks (67%).

I won 55% of my games without a coin and 66% of my games with coin. So it’s a little more advantageous for you to go second.

Hunter percentages are slightly over a coin flip depending on the variations.

Against warlocks, I managed to hold a consistent 60% which isn’t too bad considering how strong they can be.

Mages are a slight coin toss and it depends on the traps that they manage to draw into. If they hold you off long enough, their spells will make short work of you.

Druids, Paladins, and Priests are all matchups that should go heavily in your favor.

Strategy

Your basic strategy is to lay out your cheap early minions as quick as you can. Feed your turn 1 Undertaker as much as possible with your Leper Gnome, Haunted Creeper, and Mad Scientist. Given an option between Creepers or Scientists, play the Scientist first. If it dies, your Explosive Traps will appear in play and it will help thin out your deck so you draw into additional threats later.

Use that Hero Power. Don’t be afraid to not play a card and Hero Power instead. Often times on turn 3 or 4, I have the option to play a spell or a minion using up all my mana instead of using the Hero Power. It’s okay not to cast a spell and hold it for later. An example is if you’re on turn 3 with an Explosive Trap and a Flare, you can play the Flare and use your Hero Power. On turn 4, you can drop the Explosive Trap and Hero Power efficiently using up all your mana crystals.

Your finisher is Leeroy and Kill Commands. Hold on to those until your opponent’s life is sufficiently low enough. Hunter’s Mark and Ironbeak Owl are used to either clear out any taunts or remove your opponent’s threats that could shut down your strategy. Make sure you actually have a beast in play before casting Kill Commands. I’ve made the stupid mistake of casting Kill Command with no beast out effectively stealing defeat out of the jaws of victory.

The Matchups

vs Druid

Keep: 1 mana minion, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper

Hold your Hunter’s Marks and Ironbeak Owl if you can for mid game. There’s two main druid deck variants here.

The ramp druid relies on accelerating early on into big powerhouse threats like Druid of the Claw (bear form), Ironbark Protectors, Ancient of War, and so forth. You’re going to have to win this game via early game and direct damage or else you’ll be shut out by the great wall of taunters. Recent variations now include Sludge Belchers, Deathlord, and Sunwalkers while Ragnaros simply pounds you to death. Luckily, if they burn their early mana ramp spells like Innervate and Wild Growth into Druid of the Claws or other an Ancient of Lore, a Hunter’s Mark with a minion will make short work of it. With luck, their hand will be depleted meaning less options for them to deal with your horde. Keep applying pressure. If you can draw both Kill Commands or an unchecked Leeroy Jenkins, you should take this game easily.

The token druid is a bit of an easier matchup. Don’t be fooled though as this is also a race. You’re on essentially a 7 turn clock before they can execute their Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo. Violet Teachers will be in play but the more tokens they generate, the more you can counter-engage with your Unleash the Hounds + Starving Buzzard. Stick to the plan and send your minions right at the druid to begin with. Ancient of Lore and Swipe may slow you down but it shouldn’t stop you entirely.

vs Hunter

Keep: Flare, 1 mana minion, Mad Scientist

There are often two variants of hunters and we’ll go over them quickly here.

The Midrange Hunter is slightly slower then the face hunter counterpart. It’ll feature uses of Savannah Highmanes and Houndmasters. They’ll try to control the board more with potential Freezing Traps, Misdirections, and some variants include a Deadly Shot. Lucky for you, you’ll be able to outrace them in a head to head matchup.

The Face Hunter is the mirror deck which relies heavily on attacking the opponent directly. In other words, same strategy as yours! It’s going to be a race no matter what.

When you Unleash the Hounds, make sure you actually clear out their side of the board before going for the face unless you have lethal. The worse thing that can happen is if they counter Unleash the Hounds against you and drop a Timber Wolf or a well-timed Leokk which doubles the damage done. If they have a Mad Scientist on the board and you’re holding a Flare, wait until the Scientist dies before casting the Flare. When you Track later in the game, you’re looking for Kill Commands and Leeroy Jenkins to close it out fast.

vs Paladin

Keep: Flare, any minion

Brace yourself, this is going to be a bit of a grind. Whatever you do, save the Ironbeak Owl for Tirion. Expect to see your board wipe around turn 4 from the Consecrate, but that’s okay. Hopefully you’ve been able to generate some offense and apply early game pressure. There’s a chance this matchup can go the distance because they have to run cards like Defender of Argus and Sen’jin Shieldmasta to slow you down. Expect to be set back further with Lay on Hands or Guardian of Kings. The trick is to hit early and hit fast so that those cards aren’t even a factor to begin with.

If you run into the aggro variant that has cards like Bluegill Warrior, Blessing of Might, Leper Gnomes, then this is going to be a race. You can do more burst damage. If they Consecrate you, not problem. If there’s enough minions out, your Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds can either neutralize their army or it can go straight to the Paladin.

vs Priest

Keep: Hunter’s Mark, Ironbeak Owl

If you get a chance to eliminate their Northshire Clerics, do it as early as you can. Even if it means burning a Hunter’s Mark against their Power Word: Shield buffed Cleric and suiciding your Webspinner, you do it. Otherwise, this should be a fairly straightforward win. I haven’t played enough against the aggro Priest variants to really say what to do against them. Against the standard Priest deck, hold on to your Hunter’s Mark and Owls to bypass any nasty surprises. You might have to dig in here for a bit. The Priest deck does take a few turns to get going. Holy Nova will ruin your day along with Sludge Belcher so save the Owl against that if you can and just rush them. The Priest is going to spend a lot of time deciding between self preservation or board control and it’s going to be a little difficult doing that with your constant pressure. 

vs Rogues

Keep: Explosive Trap, Flare

Ugh, I hate playing against Rogues. It’s like watching someone play solitaire against you.

Save a Flare against any concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneers or Van Cleefs. This is not a fun matchup against you. In almost 200 games, I’ve only played against 6 rogues so we at least have that much going for us. The odds of you running into them aren’t that high. They’re going to clear the board with Deadly Poison + Blade Flurry. Their center piece here is the Auctioneer. You silence it or neutralize it, then the deck won’t be able to go off and you completely stall out their engine. You can either cast Explosive Trap early to hold off against their early minions and hope you have enough follow up pressure or hold it for later in the game when you anticipate a Leeroy coming in your direction (I don’t recommend this since it’s difficult to time). This matchup is also going to be a race.

vs Shaman

Keep: Ironbeak Owl, minions, no more than one Hunter’s Mark, Explosive Trap

This is another tough matchup. Lightning Storm can swiftly remove your side of the board. Hex can slow down your buffed Undertaker. Their Ghost Wolves will often trade favorably against your minions and outlive them an extra turn. Save Hunter’s Mark for Fire Elementals or Earth Elementals (if you run across any). Ironbeak Owl should be saved for taunters or Nerubian Eggs. If Al’Akir gets deployed, the game is well beyond your reach unless you can last minute Kill Command them and deal sufficient direct damage. Shamans rely on controlling the board and making smart trades. Let them generate totems as it’ll feed nicely into your Unleash the Hounds. In your case, you don’t really care about that. Send everything you have against the Shaman. Get their health low enough so you send out Leeroy or use your Kill Commands.

vs Warlock

Keep: Explosive Trap, Ironbeak Owl, 1 mana minions, Mad Scientist

For Warlocks, you’ll play against two main types.

Against Handlock, you need to pile on damage and fast. Hold on to Hunter’s Marks and Ironbeak Owl. The Marks will be used to knock out any huge taunters in your way like Molten Giants. Ironbeak Owl lets you completely bypass taunt so the rest of your forces can punch through. Any chance you get to attack with your Eaglehorn Bow, you do it. Don’t skip attacking it hoping for your trap to proc because you might end up walking into a wall of giants.

That happened to me one game. During one turn, I had an Explosive Trap and an Eaglehorn with one charge while my opponent was at 10 health. I didn’t attack because I was greedy and wanted the extra charge. Then he dropped a pair of giants with a Shieldbearer. In my next turn, I drew a Kill Command. With a Starving Buzzard in play, I would’ve had lethal had I attacked him the turn prior (3 damage from Eagle Horn, the 2 damage from the Hero Power, and the 5 damage from Kill Command). Instead, I only took him down to 3 health before his giants made short work of me afterwards.

The second Warlock deck you’ll square off against is the Zoo deck. Their win philosophy is similar to yours. Attempt to swarm the board and establish control. Between Explosive Trap and your other cheap minions, you should be able to hold them off. You should be able to outrace them. The big threats is their Doomguard which you can mitigate with a Hunter’s Mark. Save your Owl for their Nerubian Eggs. It’ll set them back in a huge way if you can even silence one. Keep hammering away with your Hero Power and make smart trades with your minions (or just go for the face).

vs Warriors

Keep:

This is literally the worst matchup for hunters. Thankfully, there aren’t that many on the ladder in the grand scheme of things. Their hero power to armor up negates your hero power. Cleaves, will pound away and neutralize your early board minions. You might not have enough direct damage to get to them. Their win lies on holding out and surviving long enough until they can whip out an Alexstrasza or a Grom Hellscream and execute you in one stroke.

Final thoughts

On a budget? No problem. You can sub in Arcane Golems for Leeroy. Just remember that the Golem is used as a finisher. Don’t drop him early on in the game and give your opponent an extra mana crystal. Later on in the game is fine because it won’t be as relevant. All the other cards are either commons, rares, or unlockable from Naxxramas.

Win fast, win early, win hard.

Raiding Epiphany

Raiding Epiphany

You know that time when you’re working on a new boss and it just seems like you keep hitting that same block over and over? For us, it was Blackfuse. We’ve been working on the guy for the past month now. We kept bringing him down to about 65% but we’d keep consistently buckling during that first magnet phase. It was a combination of fires, mines, overload, or something else that was seemingly unavoidable.

Then all of a sudden, the clouds part.

Sunlight shines right through.

The players are struck with a wave of epiphany.

Our attempts improve dramatically. We made it past the the first magnet phase, then the second magnet phase, and now we’re breaching below 50% more often than not.

It’s like being able to breathe again after having clogged sinuses for so long.

That’s kind of where we’re at now. I call it cautious optimism, but if this level of improvement continues, then we’ll be on track.

Retooling and rebuilding

Not long after the proposed schedule went out, I had a few members express their inability to commit to that schedule. As a result of that, I did end up losing some fine players and friends.

It’s a little funny how things work out though. I was approached by a previous raider who’d been out of the game for a while and with a different group. Turns out the players in there were looking to move on up and get into some of the more top tier content in the game. Instead of trying to transition from a 10 man to a 25 man guild, they were toying with the idea of flat out signing on with a 25 man guild.

The beauty of the current state of raiding is that players can easily cross-realm on any difficulty. For the past month, we’ve been raiding with many of these players and they didn’t have to change servers at all yet. A few of them made the leap earlier on because they liked what they were seeing. Some others are still holding off for now, but it seems an amicable solution for everyone.

Conquest veterans can be rested a little more on the earlier encounters to conserve energy and mental fortitude for some of the more challenging bosses like Thok and Blackfuse.

Newer players are embracing the challenge and accessibility of heroic raids. Many of them actually fit right in with no problem. Of course, a few of them are understandably upset since they used to be the top dog in their former organization but are now being completely out DPS’d by sheer differences in gear alone. But that’s obviously an easy problem to resolve.

Our raid has received a notable shot of adrenaline, at least!

A post-Blizzcon release

How about that cinematic, eh?

Along with the November 13, 2014 release date?

That’s quite some time away! I was really hoping for an earlier release but it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. Blizzard’s stated time and time again that they’re committed to providing a more timelier expansion release.

What are your thoughts on the 2.5 week leveling period? Raids don’t open until week 1 of December. In previous expansions, raids opened up exactly a week after. I understand their rationale for Warlords in that they didn’t want to release the game during Remembrance Day (November 11th) and then there’s the American Thanksgiving holiday the week after. In theory, I could relax my levelling speed a bit.

But c’mon, my pride is on the line here.

I was beaten to the level cap in the guild for the first time in Mists when I had been the sole title owner from Burning Crusade, to Wrath, and to Cataclysm.

By a non-Asian, no less!

Need to regain my title here!

For more thoughts on the levelling process and the release date, check out the recent episode of The Edge!

Win a Beta Key from BlizzPro!

BlizzPro has five beta keys to give away and we want to hand ‘em out to you! I’ll mention how to get them in a moment.

I know I don’t often plug the show here as much (shame on me). I’m going to attempt to make a concerted effort to do so. We’re steadily aiming to ramp up our content. More co-hosts have been added for a more panel discussion type of production. On the beta, I did get a chance to test most of the bosses that were up. There’s more happening later on today and I’ll try to get in on those as well. If you watch this week’s episode, you can see my efforts as a Holy Priest against Oregorger.

Quiet Matt! How can I get a key?

Easy! I’ll quote it from the post: The Edge: Win a Warlords of Draenor Beta Key!

On August 3rd, we will send a tweet out from The Edge account with #BlizzPro and all you need to do is simply retweet that message and follow @edge_blizzprotv, @Veliice, @ktjnwow, @GitErRaid and @matticus for your chance to win! We plan to announce the winners on Thursday, August 14 and Friday, August 15.

Good luck!

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Warlock Zoo Deck

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Warlock Zoo Deck

Everyone enjoying the new Naxxramas adventure mode? Managed to breeze through the normal and class challenges fairly quickly. I’ll admit I was fairly stumped by the heroic bosses for a bit until I reconstructed my ranked decks from the ground up and made the connection that I wasn’t playing against live players.

To out gimmick a deck, you must create gimmicks of your own. I’ll provide a list later of decks I used against the heroic bosses later.

For now, I wanted to illustrate an evolution of the popular Warlock zoo deck with new Naxxramas cards. Lists similar to this have started cropping up throughout ranked play.

Post-Naxx Zoo by matticus
Class: Warlock

Warlock (8)

Neutral (22)

The main changes from the traditional Warlock zoo deck is the removal of Scarlet Defenders and Shieldbearers along with the addition of Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper. There isn’t as much of a worry about overextending because if the Eggs or Creeper go down, they’ll turn into additional minions on the board.

The overall strategy here is to make smart trades and establish board supremacy.

Your Nerubian Egg can be activated over a number of different ways. Abusive Sergeant, Dire Wolf Alpha, Shattered Sun Cleric, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus can allow you to trade your egg into an opponent’s early minion to get an early 4/4.

Should be fairly self-explanatory what to do with aforementioned 4/4.

Mulligan any expensive cards like Doomguards, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus out of your hand. You want cheap minions as quick as possible. Always keep your opponent’s health total in the back of your mind and weigh it against trading against their board.

So far so good! Managed to shoot myself up from rank 7 up to rank 5.

Good luck!

Is It Time to Level Up the Guild?

Serious time.

I should mention that everything you’re about to read is something I’ve been thinking about. I haven’t committed to any course of action yet. But it’s all been weighing deeply on my mind.

There’s a couple of things I’m mulling over right now with regards to the direction that my guild should be going come Warlords. I’ve been wrestling with the guild’s identity for weeks now going back and forth over what I want. By many standards, the guild could be considered solid, stable, and successful. Other than that short hiccup during Throne of Thunder and the past few months with regards to attendance, I’d consider it a job well done.

But I’m at the stage now where my ambition is slowly starting to take over. I had a conversation with my raid leader about our expectations. He believes we can clear out first tier Heroic level content within the first few weeks and challenge for Mythic within the same month. I had to admit, I’m a little more reserved in that judgment. I’m not sure if the current culture or schedule would allow that. Some of our players actually want to make a run at server first. A quick glance at our realm progress shows that we have a guild that’s at least US top 70 or something.

I could be content with where we’re at. We’ve floated around Top 500-600 for the past two expansions. During Wrath when 25 man guilds reigned supreme, we were hanging out at the Top 1000 mark. I earnestly think that with some of the players here, if sufficiently pushed and “encouraged”, we could maybe move up to the top 200 or 300 mark. Top 100’s a little out of our reach. Another goal would be to at least to contest faction firsts.

So I asked myself the following question:

“In order to challenge for faction first or Top 200 US rankings, what must be true?”

Simple answer:

  • More hours spent
  • More efficient use of time
  • Stronger caliber players
  • Raid composition flexibility

Rearranging the Schedule

What was it Allen Iverson once said? Something about practice? I’d love to be able to get to the point where we completely clear out content within a day or two. It’s odd that in order to spend less time raiding later, it’s common to invest more hours raiding and frontload the learning near the start of a tier. The fact is, we need to spend more time practicing pulls and trying new strategies. Granted, we could be more efficient in how we spend our time to begin with. I’m always looking for ways to cut corners. I’m looking to add anywhere from 1.5 hours to an additional 3 hours a week. That would mean an extra 30 minutes per day to an hour per day.

Seeing as we raid from 6-9 Pacific, I can add an hour in front or add an hour later. If I add the extra hour in front, it means many of our west coast players won’t be able to make it due to the time. An extra hour later would wreck the schedules of our east coast players because they’d be settling down and attempting to sleep at 1 AM Eastern. No matter which direction I go, I’m going to lose a segment of our players either due to scheduling or a difference in focus and personal objectives.

But if parting ways needs to happen to further guild goals, I’m prepared to do it.

Secondly, I’d want to go hard during the start of the week. Instead of raiding Tuesday, Thursday, and Monday, I’d drop the Monday and move it to Wednesday. That gives 3 consecutive days of raiding allowing raid strategies and repetition sink in. Practice makes perfect, after all!

Revisiting the Alt Policy

During certain progression nights, we were hampered because we were missing certain class compositions. As a result, we ended up shifting back to normal mode and clearing out the rest of the night. I don’t for a second believe that having 3 extra Paladins during Thok all those months ago would have resulted in us killing him then. But I do think it would have allowed us to get more practice and grow comfortable quicker.

For the longest time, we’ve had a strict no-alt policy unless it was under exceptional circumstances. I’ve started reconsidering this. A good player is a good player no matter what class they’re on as long as they put in the effort to learn it and gear it. Many players spend their off times pugging raids on their alts.

It would be too much to ask to make having raid worthy alts a requirement. But I’d definitely encourage those interested to do it.

There would be strict conditions to this, however.

  • Profiency: The alt must be able to perform at a level that’s satisfactory performance to other raiders who main the class.
  • Gear: No blues or greens. They need to be raid geared and ready to go. It’s up to the player to find ways to do it. Between crafted gear, raid finder, and other drops, it should be easy to pull it off.

One player brought up a good question.

“Would I be punished for not having an alt? What’s in it for me?”

I had to think about that one for a second. I suppose the gain would be a more flexible raid allowing the group to work it’s way around various obstacles. There’s always some flavor of the month or certain classes that are better than others before nerfs or new content drops. Another tangential benefit? I have a suspicion players wouldn’t be bored as much raiding on the same character doing the same content. I believe raid content becomes a lot more interesting on a variety of characters just due to being in a different role or perspective. Raid burnout often kicks in if players have been working on the same thing for months on end with seemingly zero to little signs of progress. Do it fast enough, and it won’t be a problem.

Warlords has given us an excellent opportunity to manage all of this. Mythic and heroic will no longer share lockouts. Early tier will be spent working hard through heroic content. An optional raid night on the weekend focused on normal (or flex) can provide a boost to the players who want to do it. The fact that it’ll be cross-realmable means I can pickup other players on other servers to help serve the needs of the group composition for that night. It won’t be a requirement, but there’s players like myself who actually want to raid more. When it gets to the point that normal raids no longer serve our purpose, we can shift normal clears to that night instead. Hopefully, by that time, we’ll be well into the mythic rotation.

This is all new to me. I’ve stayed the same course during my tenure as GM. Never really changed my values or my goals. I’ve never made a venture down a road like this before. Definite about-face for sure.

Remember that scene from the original Matrix?

The one where Neo’s in the car and Trinity and Morpheus are with him and speeding down the road? Morpheus offers Neo the red pill or the blue pill. He can get out and Trinity reminds him that it’s the same street with the same buildings and the same people. He’s been down that path before. He knows what’s waiting at the end. That’s kind of what going through my mind at the moment. Either this works and I manage to find that fulfillment I’m looking for, or it’ll ruin me. It’ll be a gamble.

Let’s ante up!

I haven’t written to “you” readers in a long time. Not really sure what I’m looking for.

Warnings?

Affirmation?

Disagreements?

Validation?

I just had to get my thoughts out somewhere on print so I can review it. If things get written down, it becomes a little more real. Everything in my head tends to just stay that way – An idea. My raid leader’s going to be in for a surprise when he’s back.

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Time to take this beta Disc Priest out for a spin and see what he can do in a dungeon environment. I needed a tank, but where could I find one? I happened to be idling in Shrine keeping an eye on trade chat and noticed one of my bear tanks was online!

Time to con her into being my pocket tank.

She agreed and we appeared on the beta servers ready to queue up. I should’ve done a quick pass over my binds and abilities to ensure everything was in place. It took until the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines before I finally configured everything to my specifications. There were periods where I had to open my spellbook and manually click on select abilities.

Anyway, I’m here to gripe about Disc Priest healing. Here it is:

Lack of Healing mobility: Prayer of Mending has a cast time. We’ve lost access to Renew. Divine Star has a cast time. Penance can be glyphed to allow casting while moving. Holy Nova has a really short radius (and we’ll touch on this in a second).

As a healer, I move around a ton. I don’t mean just simply dodging projectiles or dangerous boss abilities. Sometimes I have to kite or run away from any mobs or ads that are activated. Other times, my tank has screamed ahead and I’m trying to play catchup while stabilizing the rest of the group. The Hunters, Mages, and Rogues are busy trucking on trying to help the tank. Meanwhile, there I am huffing and puffing attempting to keep everyones health up while being unable to move. In Mists, we have all these tools that allowed us to help players recover some health as we were moving from point A to point B. It wasn’t that strong or efficient, but it was something. And yes, shields are great at absorbing inbound damage but they’re not the greatest at restoring health. An absorb simply buys you a little more time to dump heals on your target whereas actually healing your target has the effect of both negating the damage they’re about to take and healing them back.

This must be what a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin feels like sometimes.

Proposal: Glyph of Mobile Mending – Allow Prayer of Mending to be cast while moving. Exclusive glyph.

Weak Multi-target Healing: Holy Nova is the new efficient Discipline AoE heal. Prayer of Healing has a 30 yard radius. Holy Nova has a 12 yard radius. It’s hard to insist that every player remain stacked. There’s attacks that will prevent the party from doing just that. Holy Nova appears to be enough to keep a players health bar from trending down long enough but it won’t be enough to shoot them back to full right away. That’s a tradeoff at this stage of the game since we’re testing dungeon content at reduced item levels. At the same time, functionally speaking, Holy Nova might not be able to reach the rest of the party if everyone has to split up. You’re reduced to a slightly weaker Prayer of Healing option. Alternatively, you can play the executioner and focus on healing yourself, the tank, and 1 or 2 other players while opting to sacrifice the fifth for the good of the party.

Proposal: De-couple Holy Nova from the Priest. Make it targetable like Prayer of Healing. Allow Holy Nova to heal any player in range of the target up to a maximum of 5 of the weakest players. If you’re still spread out, at least Holy Nova might be able to catch 2-3 other players in your party at a time.

Lack of time: As healers, we have to think of time as a resource. Is there enough time to bring the tank out of range of lethal if I use this spell? How many seconds can I buy my group if I spam this AoE spell until the deadly AoE ability stops being used? Is that player a lost cause or should I try saving them? As mentioned before with the cast time spells, choice becomes important. For example, you and your tank are within lethal range after suffering an unavoidable hit. You have about 2 seconds before the next blow comes and you’re looking at a wipe. A 2.5 second Heal might hit slightly harder and save you more mana. But a 1.5 second Flash Heal would’ve allowed the tank to survive the hit. A Binding Heal would’ve saved both you and the tank*. Most of our direct healing spells are a cast time now. A Holy priest can Renew blanket but a Disc Priest is playing catch up one target at a time.

*The correct play is to either shield one, and Penance/Prayer of Mending/Flash Heal/Desperate Prayer the other and pray the shield holds. The god play is to have never arrived in this situation in the first place.

Regardless, Binding Heal is one of those spells that allowed you to inefficiently heal yourself and your target really fast to get out of lethal range. This is a tool removed from the Priest toolbox. If Flash Heal is the wrench, then Binding Heal is the duct tape because it’s a quick fix and not necessarily the permanent solution. Sometimes you just have to be inefficient or else players die.

Proposal: Bring back Binding Heal. It’s already tough as is for AoE healing as a Disc Priest in a party.

The next step is to give Holy a shot and see how well that performs in dungeon environments. Bloodmaul Slag Mines was a piece of cake but I certainly struggled a fair bit in Upper Blackrock Spire and the Shadowmoon Burial Ground instances.

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

We killed Thok.

Damn, that was a rough encounter. I had a feeling this week was going to be a good week. We set a guild record for day 1 kills by clearing from Immerseus to (and including) Malkorok on day 1. Fast forward to day 2, and Spoils ended up being Spoils that took a little longer than I expected due to some confusion on cooldown usage. In the end, we managed to get it down just after the first hour of the night.

And now, the Thok Block.

We haven’t squared off against an actual progression encounter with an appropriate group composition in months. In fact, our last progression kill on Spoils was mid-February! The past three months was spent recruiting, re-gearing, and re-training players. Even then, we had a few players from Open Raid in the group who had came in for us on Tuesday to help us out last night. This was arguably one of the strongest rosters we fielded in a long time. I’ll admit, it did pain me that I was unable to get everyone from the guild to participate on the attempts and the kill. It sucks when you have to rely on people outside in order to get the job done but for composition reasons, it had to happen. We ended up having to field 7 healers on this one (4 Priests, 1 Resto Druid, 2 Resto Shaman).

Something my raid likes to do when it gets to a completely new boss is panic. This is doubly true when you’re staring down a really large dinosaur. As the leader, my job is to try to settle them down and remind them to get back to their routes. Stop overthinking things. Simply react. In this case, I recognized that the troublesome part was the kite path. We’ve reviewed it several times during learning attempts. Despite that, my players were still losing their cool. Sometimes the dinosaur went the wrong way. Sometimes they’d panic and run one direction before doing a 180 and dashing down in the other. Deep down inside, I was freaking out too.

The best way to battle nervousness is simply more training and discipline.

We kept telling our players two things:

  1. Visualize your route.
  2. Think of your escape plan in case a rabid dinosaur or yeti comes charging down the middle.

No one wants to be the guy that completely derails a solid attempt. I wanted to turn kiting into a reflex. I wanted to “program” their reactions. For example, if Thok targets me second, I would run to the rear corner where the fire guy is. If Thok targets me fourth, I take the portal all the way down the hallway. I had to keep drilling it in attempt after attempt until it was firmly locked in their minds.

The actual cooldown planning stages took much longer. But we were spoiled due to the number of Priests and other available cooldowns. We were able to stretch the stacks to 24 before transitioning out to the kite phases. Our raid leader called the individual stack numbers, the rest of the team hit their cooldowns which corresponded to their assigned stack number. I need to look into an addon for this instead of a spreadsheet.

Our first attempt we took him above 50%. Second, below 50%. Third, below 20%. Fourth was at 4%. Last one resulted in the kill.

Siegecrafter Blackfuse is next. Anyone have any pointers? The hunters appear to be reluctant to do the whole disengage on to platforms thing.

We’re looking for healers to help us finish out Siege and going into Warlords of Draenor. Check us out!

BlizzCon: Networking 101

BlizzCon: Networking 101

When the first set of alpha invites came out for Warlords of Draenor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of disappointed people. Hey, completely understandable. Everyone wants to get in and take a sneak peek at the upcoming expansion even though it’s all partially developed and incomplete.

Here’s what bothers me though.

I observed on my Twitter stream (among others) that many people felt that they deserved to get a shot at it. They blog about the game. They create videos for it. They’re an influencer or someone who is up and coming in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself “Who are these people?”. Yes, it’s one thing to produce quality work. Yes, your work should speak for itself. But no one’s going to know how awesome you are unless you network and promote yourself. I get that as gamers, many of us tend to be introverts. We shy away from large crowds. We don’t like doing the hand shaking or the high-fiving.

Actually, even if you’re not some content producer and you want to meet some terrific individuals, then this is a post for you.

If you really don’t give a fajita about meeting other people at all, then skip the post.

If you want to maximize your BlizzCon experience and build some terrific memories and relationships, for cryin’ out loud keep reading.

Really though, you can take these guidelines and apply it to meeting just about anyone. It could be a Blizzard employee, a cosplayer, shoutcaster, a blogger, YouTube personality, or what have you.

The preparation

Shower. It’s a wonder I even have to mention this. But please shower and apply some deodorant. For the men, I recommend Old Spice (but not Fiji because that one’s mine). Go easy on the deoderant spray. Holy hell, let’s not turn BlizzCon into the boys locker room where people were spraying Axe willy nilly. It should go without saying but, brush your teeth too. Actually, just practice good hygiene in general.

Know who to engage. This is a bit of a no-brainer. I’m assuming you have an idea of who you want to go up to and say hi.

Dress to impress. Don’t dress up like a slob. Luckily, you’re at BlizzCon so the dress code isn’t too formal or strict. Literally anything that’s a t-shirt or better will do. For the men, if you want to go one-up, shoot for polos or a dress shirt. Shorts, jeans, or slacks will suffice for the bottom. If you’re Canadian like me, then you’re limited to shorts because damn it’s hot. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing around, so pick shoes that will help you feel at ease.

For the women, I asked BlizzCon veteran Elke (@plumwd) for her thoughts. First thing she said to me was to think comfort during the day! Wear comfortable shoes, because walking on the concrete inside the convention center will quickly kill your feet after a few short hours. Save the heels for hanging out afterwards.  If you’re frequently cold, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater to wear inside the con. Despite the masses it can get chilly (at least, for her it does). Ultimately, you’re going to want to be comfortable because you’re going to be standing in many lines or sitting for a long time waiting for your favorite panel. If you wear makeup, be sure to bring what you need for touch ups with you such as oil blotting tissue, lipstick, powder, etc. You’ll be happy to have it handy.  Plan outfits for both day and night. Think more causal and comfort for while you’re inside the con, and then maybe something dressier for the evening. You never know who you’re going to meet or the opportunities that may present themselves for adventures in the evening. I always bring at least one business casual outfit just in case.

Best practices

Approach from the front, not the sides or rear. Chances are, the person you want to speak with is already in a conversation. Wait for a gap in the conversation. Make eye contact or even do a little wave. It usually catches their attention.

Have a conversation starter in mind. It’d be a little embarrassing to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then have nothing to say. Have a conversation topic or two in mind. Remember, that you’re at BlizzCon and you’re there largely because you’re passionate about Blizzard’s universes.

For example, if I were to meet my buddy @Elvinelol for the first time I’d say something like “Hi Elvine! I’m Matt! I wanted to thank you for establishing the LF BlizzCon site. It really bailed out some of my guildmates who almost couldn’t make it”. If you’re really not sure what to talk about, just remember you’re both at the same convention.

Potential icebreakers include:

  • What did you think of that panel on [game/feature]…?
  • What are your thoughts on [feature/hero/gameplay aspect/character]…?
  • What inspired you to start getting involved with [project/video/blog/game]…?

A firm hand shake. Don’t be limp. Don’t lock them into a vice grip either. Since you may be drinking, ensure your beverage is in your left hand. You don’t want your first handshake to be super cold to the other person. If your hands are clammy or super sweaty, wipe them on your pants first.

Know when to disengage. Have you ever had a friend overstay their welcome when you invited them over? You’re all relaxing and having a good time watching Game of Thrones and sharing stories about your recent escapades. The next thing you know, it’s 2:30 AM and they’re on your couch completely oblivious to the time still expecting you to entertain them. Look, you’re not going to be the only one going up to and saying hi to your favourite personalities. Give them a bit of space. Keep the time of day in mind. It’s one thing to approach a person you admire during the day. It’s another when it’s late in the evening. Ask them for a card or their email if you wish to continue to stay in touch. If not, close off with a "It’s great to meet you!" and meander away. 

I would not end a conversation with a hug unless the other person initiates and if you’re comfortable with it. I’ve witnessed many “oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I being hugged” faces and it did not look fun. Hand shakes, fist bumps, or waves are acceptable.

(Seriously, personal space).

Body language matters. Chest out. Shoulders wide. Smile. Doesn’t have to be a cheesy or fake grin. But a half smile or a slight smirk will make you look more approachable. No one’s going to want to talk to someone who has their arms crossed and shoulders hunched over with a frown on their face. You’re oozing signs of “I don’t want to talk to anyone, leave me alone”. Look approachable! Your mental state has a subconscious effect on your body. When you’re down, you tend to look a little more dejected. You might have a slight frown. But little known tip, it works both ways. Faking it till you make it can trick your mind. Adopting a more confident and cheerful stance seems to have an impact on mood. Works for me, it might for you! If you’re apprehensive out there, stand up straight, force a smile, and throw out your chest. You might feel like an idiot but it’s a good thing people won’t be able to tell what you feel by looking at you. They’ll see a confident and inviting person who just might be cool to get to know.

george-clooney Seth Rogen michael-cera

mila-kunis zoe-saldana

There’s a slight progression from George to Michael. But it’s all natural. No grins or anything but a slight smile is all that’s really needed to feel at ease. No one’s really showing any teeth here, except for Mila. Even then, it’s just barely noticeable. God, I love her.

Stupid Ashton.

Have a business card. If you think people are going to be able to recall your email or Twitter handle after a few days of partying and drinking, you’re sadly mistaken. Get a few business cards printed out. I suggest Moo Cards. Have your name, your website, and email or Twitter handle. I try to make an effort to email and message the individuals I’ve met up with as a follow up and to acknowledge their contributions to the WoW community.

How to make an introduction. I actually did a whole lot of this in previous years (@Itsxia and @Kristin can attest to this). I had friends and guildies who wanted to meet certain Blizzard staff or podcasters who I already had met before. Not only do you look like a hero, but you’ll help break the ice. “Hi AWESOME PERSON, I’d like to introduce you to my friend. She’s a big fan of your YouTube channel and plays a Priest. If you have a moment, she has a quick question about being a PvP player.” Then politely and quietly disengage out (and hit the bar).

Assume good intentions. This is a big one. Most of your interactions tend to be in the evening. Some people will be tired after walking around all day at the convention and might not be in the mood to talk right now. Maybe they’re giving you the cold shoulder. Try not to take it personally. Try to catch them later.

Accept defeat. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone who just isn’t interested in getting to know you. No matter how hard you try, they’re sending out all the wrong signals and just want nothing to do with you. It’s not your fault. It takes two to tango, remember? If you can’t dance with this partner, go find another one. Again, it isn’t your fault. This isn’t a game. You can’t simply just level up your social skills by annoying people. Going up to someone repeatedly when they turn you down isn’t going to make them want to open up to you after try number 30. These kinds of individuals are rare. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and cordial at minimum.

Follow up. This is a big one. Once you’ve arrived at home, follow up with the people you met! Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t. Drop them an email. Send a message saying that you were delighted to meet them in person and mention your own blog or project for them to check out.

Nerves getting to you? Take a drink. Loosen up a bit. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time. The ones that don’t want to meet people usually bolt to their rooms or are off to the side somewhere within their own fortress of friends. No big deal.

At the end of the day, the BlizzCon experience is entirely what you make of it. No matter what happens, have some fun! Don’t be discouraged.

Of course, you’re free to say hi to me at any time. I promise, I won’t bite.

To the veteran con go-ers, what other pointers would you offer to the wid-eyed, bushy-tailed first time BlizzCon attendees when it comes to meeting new people?