Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

As you might have guessed, I was one of the privileged few to have been offered a slot in the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha that went live a few days ago. I was quite intent on making my mark in Wildstar’s Nexus but I’ll have to put that on hold.

Unfortunately, only the Horde side is available for play meaning I had to create a Blood Elf priest.

I’ll need to take a long cold shower after this play session.

I feel so filthy.

Anyway, I’m not going to delve too much into garrisons too much. The only base building I can do effectively is in Starcraft 2. But, head over to BlizzPro for their hands-on with garrisons.

Just as I’ve done in previous expansions, I plan to blitz my way to the max level as quickly as I can. Each expansion brings with it new tools, new systems, and new spells to help that process.

spriest-leveling

For Shadow Priests, Warlords made it a little tougher. The changes to Shadow and the loss of certain healing spells slowed down leveling. No Renew means I can’t simply keep refreshing Renew whenever it wears off. It means I have to stop and eat more to replenish my health. Flash Heal is obviously no help since it wasn’t designed to top a player off quick in Shadow. Prayer of Mending’s cast time means it can’t just be applied on the run either. Divine Star also lost the healing component.

Thankfully, I can still rely on Power Word: Shield to soak at least some of the damage. Vampiric Embrace, glyphed Psychic Scream, and Dispersion are going to be workhorse cooldowns during the grind.

At the moment, I’m capped at level 92 but level 100 talents are unlocked and can be selected. Auspicious Spirits is a neat talent but Clarity of Power seems to be useful when grinding or farming mobs since you can just go straight to Mind Flay instead of applying a DoT that isn’t going to last the full duration anyway.

draenor-perk-unlocked These Draenor perks are actually quite nice. They offer bits of quality of life improvements. I managed to obtain the Enhanced Shadow Orbs perk quickly after hitting 91 and Enhanced Mind Flay at 92.

More to come later! I’ve got a Shaman I want to try out.

I have never seen healing or DPS numbers this low in a long time.

Wildstar is no Threat to World of Warcraft

Wildstar is no Threat to World of Warcraft

I’m about five days into Wildstar now. I’ve advanced my Esper to level 24. Managed to complete an adventure and a dungeon. Most importantly, I participated in two world boss raid events to get a glimmer of what actual raiding will be like at max level. Wildstar does bill itself as Hardcore and there may come a day where it could even challenge WoW for the lion’s share of subscribers.

But not any time soon.

Simply put, this game is just not ideal for the casual player. Doesn’t matter if you want to attach the term casual to a player who doesn’t have the requisite skill or interest or time.

If you suck at moving from plainly obvious telegraphed markings on the ground, you will die.

If you suck at timing your key presses, you will not be able to take advantage of certain bonuses.

If you can’t invest the necessary time to grind out the cash or develop your character, you won’t be very effective.

The stark comparison between Wildstar and vanilla WoW is uncanny. I remember farming for Tubers. I remember farming for Dark Runes. I remember making the choice between spending my gold on new abilities or a mount so I can move around faster (Mount wins). This game just isn’t going to be as accessible to a more casual oriented audience. Not unless significant changes come later on in the game’s life. WoW has multiple modes of raiding and dungeon difficulty that allows players to pick and choose their poison. With Wildstar, you only get one and if you’re group isn’t good enough, tough. You’ll have to come back when you get better.

Almost all aspects of the game are gated against the casual player. If you fail at timing your key presses or hitting them at the right time, you can still perform the quest. It’ll just take ten seconds later. Combat itself can be unforgiving. If you die, you can find yourself resurrected at the opposite end of a zone (unless you shelled out some cash).

Let’s talk about raiding

I love it. I was a proponent of AVR back in the days of Icecrown Citadel. I assume Wildstar devs were too. Now this game has AVR mechanics (called telegraphs) all over the place. I was conversing with one of my raiders who hated Blade Lord Ta’yak (Heart of Fear, 2nd boss). They completely despised the tornado running mechanic. The raid bosses have different abilities like that which will make the game un-fun for people who aren’t able to handle it.

Here’s a quick image set to showcase how telegraphing works:

Mattycus.140603.111234

See the red lines that are expanding from the middle? If you stand in it, you’ll get struck down by something like this:

Mattycus.140603.111237

At the end of the fight, there’s an encounter breakdown which ranks you by your contribution. How much healing did you do? How much damage did you deal? How much damage did you take?

I would like to just say that I took zero damage in that attempt. But I didn’t screenshot it. Therefore, according to the rules of the internet, it did not happen.

Interrupt mechanics aren’t as simple as hitting a key to actually interrupt. No, sometimes you need more than one and they have to be synchronized. In the below image on the bottom right, you can see Metalmaw’s target frame. Just left of it, you’ll see the number 9 over a shield. Metalmaw is casting a large firebreath type ability. It takes 9 different interrupts to actually interrupt the breath. Everyone has to coordinate and hit their button at the same time. Otherwise the interrupt shield will re-activate after a few seconds. Some bosses have more.

Mattycus.140603.160557

With respect to healing, it is a different game. There’s no raid frames to click on or players to mouse over. Most of your spells have to be aimed or placed. Find the biggest clump of players and unload your healing spells. If there’s a player at low health, you better hope they’re near you or else they won’t get healed up. In fact, I think the only way to heal is to activate friendly name plates which is going to be overwhelming at the 40 man level. If you had a hard time standing in Efflorescence, then you’re not going to have fun either. In WoW, I usually stand at max range to minimize prospects of getting hit by stuff. But healers could simply target my bars and keep me healed that way. Here as a DPS player, I’ve had to pay attention to the ground circles and arcs and actually stand in them to ensure I get topped up when I needed.

It’s not just the healer’s responsibility to dish out heals. It’s your responsibility to stand in them.

Mattycus.140603.155731

I know Tobold doesn’t think the game can be healthy long term if the state of the game is like this. I don’t agree. You can appeal to a certain subset of a population. I don’t see Wildstar hitting 8 million subscribers anytime soon. But it doesn’t need that many to stay financially healthy. All it needs is to hit that X number of subscribers which can power the infrastructure and provide resources for the devs to continue delivering on content. If it can hit that number, it’ll be fine. I haven’t seen any microtransaction models yet but there is that ability where players can swap in game credit and purchase game time (and vice versa from other players). I see many guilds in Wildstar advertising themselves as casual raiders. I give them 3 months tops (and that’s an optimistic number). But Warcraft has a diverse number of activities that will appeal to players of different varieties.

I am fully expecting Mythic raiding to offer the same challenge as what I’ve seen so far in Wildstar. I hope not to be let down.

If this the world bosses above are any indication, then raiding in this game is going to be challenging and fun. I would have loved to start a Wildstar chapter for Conquest but I can’t stretch myself out in that sense. No one wants to be an officer much less a guild leader. Can’t wait to reach end game though!

For those interested, I’m Mattycus on Stormtalon (Exile side).

Wildstar Opening Weekend!

Wildstar Opening Weekend!

I played Wildstar once during PAX several years ago. Boy has this game changed significantly since then. I had been meaning to give the beta weekends a shot, but was only able to play sporadically. I’ve created an Aurin Esper (Exile side, on the Stormtalon server) since I’d be paranoid without being able to heal. I’m sold on the leveling aspects of the game. I wish WoW had the quick dodge key tapping that other action games have. Wildstar implemented it and it’s great to rely on quick movement to get out of trouble.

The telegraphing components of the game make it a little predictable but it does add it’s own set of challenges. Reminds me very much of the old AVR addon that was shortly introduced during Wrath. It trivialized raiding then since the encounters weren’t designed to factor them in. But a game like this which includes that can set the difficulty appropriately to help adjust for it.

It doesn’t have the immersion level and massive dialogues of SWTOR. I was more interested in playing the game and the game never truly started until the end game. I just couldn’t be bothered to click through dialog and speech choices.

Speaking of end game, the raids look fun and challenging. WoW will still be my main game of choice but Wildstar will serve as an excellent distraction on the side. Definitely looks like a hardcore raider’s game since you can sign with a guild that’s 20 or 40 and the actual player skill level needed appears to be much higher. Movement plays a huge part of winning. Players that have lead feet and struggle with standing in fires in WoW won’t last long here.

I’ve lost a few raiders to Wildstar. One of my old players has decided to strike out on his own and sit on the GM’s chair himself. I couldn’t be more proud. I’m sure he’ll take a few pages from the ol’ Matticus Manual of Leadership.

His presence will be sorely missed.

I mean, I know the ladies will at least. I’m fairly sure it was Vin Diesel since he sounds so much like him. I keep trying to nudge him to say phrases like “I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters.”

If you’re interested in Wildstar, you can grab it for 20% off on Green Man Gaming. There’s a voucher on the main site that’s good until June 2nd.

Stop Covering for Other’s Bad Play!

The other day, I wrote a post on BlizzPro outlining the problems I had with people comparing themselves to others and that it compromised their own performance.
Today, I want to write about actually covering for someone else’s mistakes.
In a word, don’t.
Let them fail. It’ll be the only way your guild can grow stronger. If a player in raid consistently fails to execute a given role, one of these outcomes must occur.
  1. The player successfully learns and succeeds at a given task with enough time.
  2. The player fails and is subsequently replaced by someone who can.
Either way, the boss phase or mechanic that was inhibiting the raid from moving forward is no longer a problem. Now the raid can progress and deal with the next obstacle and repeat as needed.
Survival of the fittest, right?
If you find yourself constantly interrupting or CC’ing someone else’s assignment because they missed it, stop.
If you find yourself consistently sprinting to one of Malkorok’s puddles to prevent a raid explosion when it’s not yours, don’t.
Weaknesses in raids have to be exposed and identified in order for the group to grow stronger.
As a healer myself, I am extremely prone to not listening to my own advice. I will shield players who are standing in fire. I will Leap of Faith anyone who’s about to get destroyed by a Malkorok breath.
The thing is that I’ve ingrained myself to bail people out. The hallmark of a good healer is to be there when your team needs you. What I must continue to instill in myself is that it isn’t possible to be there every time. If the same player keeps failing to the same type of mistakes or sloppy play, the best thing I can do for them is to stop covering for them. My problem is that this is a habit I picked up in my younger years as a goalie. It was literally your job to help your team and make up for a defensive lapse.
It’s even worse for a GM or raid leader. You want so desperately for the raid to move on to the next boss and get to the next fight. You don’t want to wipe to the same thing repeatedly because you know if you do, morale is going to sink lower. Wiping to fights that were previously on farm? What a joke. What a waste of everyone’s time. We all want to wipe to the new stuff not the garbage that has been consistently cleared. So the GM puts everything on their shoulders. They find a way to put the raid on the back because it’s success at any cost and that’s the bottom line. Because if there isn’t success, it could eventually lead to a cascade of failures and a chorus of frustrated and annoyed players leaving for greener guilds.
In this day and age when recruiting is akin to fighting for scraps, GMs have to do everything they can to try to keep the veteran players around as much as they can and as long as they can. It often means doing some behind the scenes raid work and hiding the mistakes of other people from time to time. But there’s only so much that can be done.
I have watched guilds ahead of us disintegrate simply because their leaders and veteran players did everything they could to give their underwhelming players a chance to flourish. Whether it was due to a lack of caring or skill, the ones who tried just couldn’t do it. For whatever reason, they could not rise to the challenge. Seven years ago when I started this guild, I would’ve said I didn’t believe it. I would’ve said every player has the chance and the capability to succeed and match what was asked of them. Now, I’m not so sure.
Maybe I’m just getting bitter with every passing day. I was too blind to the reality that maybe, just maybe, some people suck. Call it a crisis of confidence. Not everyone can be a heroic raider. For the first time in my stewardship, I just don’t have a damn clue. Maybe the problems start at the top with me. Maybe a fresh change in vision in leadership is needed. Sports clubs undergo GM and coaching changes. It started off as just a whisper. Something tugging away inside in my head that maybe I am the problem. I just don’t know.
Anyway, back to my original point: Give your players the chances and opportunity to excel. But you can’t always be there to pick them back up.
Patch 6.0 can’t come soon enough.
Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Bullsh*t.

Horrible.

Complete clusterf*ck.

Those are some of the words on Twitter used to describe the ticket purchasing process this year for BlizzCon 2014.

First of all, congratulations to everyone that managed to secure and score tickets for this year’s BlizzCon! I managed to get some for myself and Conquest will be returning in full force again with some new faces (and old).

What exactly was different about this year versus previous years?

The Old System

Historically, Blizzard has done a fairly good job managing ticket purchases. You had to keep refreshing the page, select your order, and you’d get thrown into a queue. There would be an indicator that showed you what place in line you were. If you were 1356th in line and there were 10000 tickets available, you knew you were locked in for a ticket. Once the indicator reached zero, that meant all the tickets were spoken for and had been sold. There were no more left in the system.

The New System

This year, Blizzard opted for something different. They decided to use Eventbrite instead. A few of my guildies had used Eventbrite before and mentioned that the system itself had crashed during smaller events and concerts (with a capacity of 2000 seats). BlizzCon hitting the 20000 ticket mark made me wonder if Eventbrite could even handle the expected load.

My guild has done this annually now. We had a thread set up to coordinate who was able to buy tickets, what their maximum purchasing capability was, and who needed tickets. We were all on Mumble when the tickets went live and I hit refresh, selected four, and was thrown into their waiting room. Some of my guildies were faster on the draw than I was and managed to proceed right to the checkout page. I had given up hope. I figured if I was in the waiting room, there was no way I’d be able to get tickets. But I had no visual indicator as to how many tickets were remaining so I stayed on there.

Minutes later, I was thrown out of the queue and informed that the event had sold out and that there were no more tickets available.

Ugh.

My first year of not getting my own BlizzCon ticket. There goes my streak.

Or so I thought.

Resigned and frustrated, I kept slamming my F5 key just because. Then I noticed my page had changed. The sold out notice was gone. Tickets were available again. Perplexed, I decided to go for it. Changed my ticket quantity to 3. Was told that it wasn’t available, but I could buy them in singles. Said screw it, selected 1 ticket and was thrown into the checkout page again. By this point, all but 4 people in guild had tickets that were spoken for. 3 of us managed to check out in time and get order confirmations on our tickets.

The last guy was still stuck and wasn’t able to get his either as it had thrown him another sold out error.

On a hunch, he was smart enough and decided to wait a few more minutes before trying again. Sure enough, 24 minutes after the first wave of tickets had been released, he managed to purchase a single ticket for himself. Everyone who had signed on and committed to a ticket managed to get one.

Weird right? What the heck happened?

Based on what I saw and my conversations with others, tickets were held on the checkout page by people purchasing them. If people did not finalize their purchase or if their check out process timed out after 8 minutes, those tickets would then be released back available for purchase.

However, the rest of us in line had been thrown out and we would not have known about it. Why would it tell us that tickets are sold out if they weren’t actually sold out?

I felt that was absolute ludicrosity. Way preferred the old system. At least I knew for sure that I had a chance. And at least I knew that once the supply bar was empty, it was literally empty. I understand that the system this year had the unintentional side effect where people could show up late and purchase a ticket 20 minutes later. Neat in a way, but not exactly fair for the people who started the F5 refresh spam on the dot.

How can this be solved?

Easy. Put in something that the previous BlizzCon pages had: A bar that shows how many tickets are remaining. Calculate it based on actual tickets confirmed and sold. I think that’d go a long way towards placating many interested players.

Oh and don’t actually throw people out of the queue.

Why They Switched

Good question. Why did Blizzard switch?

One reason why we’re using Eventbrite is because there is a quick and easy system to help us monitor purchases and be able to take tickets back from scalpers/bots.

Source

BlizzCon is notorious for having a huge number of people trying to sell and scalp tickets. Listings appeared on Ebay weeks before the actual BlizzCon ticket sale. I’m not sure about the countermeasures or the success rate of trying to stop and minimize the effect of scalpers, but I loaded up Ebay and decided to search it up:

blizzcon-ebay-2014

Maybe it’ll get shut down? Who knows?

Active Mana Regeneration: Not a Fan

Active Mana Regeneration: Not a Fan

Have you seen the latest news for healers? They took away our Hymn of Hopes, our Innervates, and stuff.

Actually, they gave Innervate back. Have a gander at the latest section from the patch notes:

Active Mana Regeneration (New)

Another part of the changes to healing is providing a way for them to better manage their mana. There are ways to spend more mana for more healing but, we’re also adding methods for healers to trade extra time or healing or more mana to use later in a fight when they really need it.

Druid

  • Innervate has been redesigned to now have a 2-second cast time with no cooldown, and causes the Druid to gain 2.5% of maximum mana every 4 seconds for 8 seconds.  Spending any mana on a healing spell will cancel this effect.

Monk

  • Crackling Jade Lightning‘s channel duration has been reduced to 4 seconds.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent now also causes Crackling Jade Lightning to cost no mana, and restore 2% of the Monk’s maximum mana if the ability is channeled for its full duration.

Paladin

  • Divine Plea has been redesigned to be instant cast with no cooldown, and consume 3 Holy Power to immediately regain 7% of maximum mana.

Priest

  • Atonement is no longer triggered by Penance.
  • Penance now also refunds 1.1% of the Priest’s maximum mana each time it deals damage.
  • Chakra: Chastise in addition to existing effects, now also causes Smite and Holy Fire to restore 0.75% of maximum mana each time they are cast instead of costing mana.

Shaman

  • Telluric Currents is now a passive ability for Restoration Shaman and causes Lightning Bolt to restore 1.25% of maximum mana each time it is cast instead of costing mana.
  • Glyph of Telluric Currents: This glyph has been removed.

Huge, yes? Our combat regeneration has evolved quite a long way. During vanilla, we had to work with the 5 second rule: Stop doing anything for 5 seconds to unleash the full power of our mana regen. Then we went to a model where classes had different abilities to use on cooldown (while other classes just didn’t have to worry about mana at all). More changes are being worked with now to shake things up.

What happened to Druids?

I can see Druids are understandably upset with how Innervate’s going to work now. It was originally supposed to be removed but now it’s back. Are Druids really supposed to just sit there for 8 seconds and not do anything while Innervate does what it does? Any healing spells automatically interrupt it. But if you cast your damage spells, you’re negating the damage you’re regenerating.

Doesn’t make sense.

Unless you consider that Wrath isn’t going to cost you any mana.

Now you’ve got something to do while you wait for Innervate to gas you up. Spam that Wrath! But know that you can always cut Innervate off at anytime with a healing spell. Useful for those unexpected emergencies that tend to flare up during raid combat.

What happened to Priests?

Out of all them, the Priest mana abilities are the most interesting. And I say that not because I’m a Priest. I’m just that biased. Because Priests are the master class.

I’m a little concerned about the Penance one. It’s normally used on cooldown for me. There’s almost always someone that can benefit from a fast burst heal. So to use that on a hostile target instead of a friendly is concerning. Can’t quite place my finger on the why.

The Holy Priest side of things is going to be even more engaging. Now I have to actually bind a key to the Chakra: Chastise stance specifically. Priests will need to really get used to Chakra dancing. There were times through this expansion you can get away with being a little lazy and be in the non-optimal Chakra. But with the removal of Hymn of Hope, you have to pay attention and ensure you’re in the right stance or else you’re not going to have any mana left to do anything.

What’s this mean for healers overall?

Much of the regen mechanics are designed to give healers key decisions to make. Do I continue to burn through my mana reserves? Or should I take a moment now and risk raid integrity and regenerate mana? If you’re not already communicating with your other healers now, you need to start. Practice with mana potions or something. Raids in Warlords will typically be rocking 4 to 5 healers at most. If a Resto Druid needs to stop healing for a bit, the rest of the healers need to know. That’s 20% to 25% less healing power during those brief seconds. It helps to know the encounters inside and out. When are the less stressful parts of the encounter? When is the most stressful part? At what stage should I ensure I have a sufficient amount of mana reserves remaining? Not sure how tightly tuned the next raid instances will be, but you’re going to have to practice doing some DPS.

I’m going to miss just relying on Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend. As if we didn’t have enough to do already. Didn’t exactly sign up to DPS. I just want to stare at health bars and do what I do best: Heal players, not spend part of my time DPSing because I have to.

Eh, I have no doubt I’ll probably change my mind later when I can give the game a spin. Until then, I’ll just keep on griping.

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

Good gravy, so many new changes coming with the alpha notes! Instead of going through all of them, I’m just going to summarize my favourites. You can turn to BlizzPro later in the week for a more in-depth analysis.

Atonement nerfs

Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. For almost the entire expansion, Discipline Priests were considered top tier and a virtual must have in progression focused guilds. It wasn’t so much the temporarily healing buff from Evangelism, but the Archangel ratios which made us a force to be reckoned.

Let’s deal damage with any of our main DPS nukes. On top of that, a portion of the damage done is going to also heal. Oh and it’s a smart heal!

In a way, I’m disappointed that it’s lowered but I can’t help but think it’ll help equalize the state of healing classes a little more. At the very least, maybe it’ll lower Discipline representation some and allow us Holy Priest guys back into the fray as a better alternative. There was nothing really wrong with Holy (well, there was but we’ll cover that in a moment), but Holy just wasn’t quite as well sought after.

That’ll be different in the future largely because of…

Chakra changes

Remember when Chakra came into play? It was almost two expansions ago during the start of Cataclysm. It essentially functioned as a stance for Holy Priests. Certain spells would become stronger depending on which Chakra you had active and you’d gain access to a Holy Word spell that corresponded with that stance. It was intended to provide flexibility and allow Priests to select the role they were going to perform in a raid: Single target healing or multi-target healing.

If you were in a Chakra stance and wanted to do something outside of the benefit, your spells wouldn’t make quite as an impact. The alpha notes said it quite clearly: The buff from being in a certain Chakra “felt like a penalty for being in the wrong Chakra, rather than a bonus for being in the right Chakra”.

Chakra: Sanctuary provided a strong buff to Prayer of Healing which was great when I was covering groups but it was lousy if I needed to spot heal the tank for a few moments. Lowering the bonuses attained in Serenity and Sanctuary are a start. Saying “I’m only losing 10% of a healing boost instead of a 25% bonus” is much more reassuring. Instead, Holy Word: Serenity and Sanctuary are receiving more of a healing bonus. I suspect our normal baseline spells will be adjusted and balanced accordingly.

Removal of Mana Hymn

Gone.

Just like that.

How else am I supposed to get my mana back? One of our healing utilities is out the window as a victim of Blizzard’s crackdown on ability bloat. Now they’ve promised that mana regeneration rates and spirit will be monitored to offset the loss of Hymn of Hope. Now I’m really at the mercy of my own healing spells. I can’t heal full throttle and rely on Mana Hymn to provide me with a cushion anymore. I’m going to miss it.

New glyphs

To be more specific, I’m giddy with Glyph of Restored Faith. It can be used as an escape or a closer or if I just want to get next to someone. Maybe it isn’t that killer, but I really do like the fun I can get with this. I can pull myself out of harms way if I’m caught standing in a fire! It’s like a pseudo defensive cooldown!

Level 100 talents

You can find the new talents at the recently updated WoW Head calculator. I liked that old talent with Void Shift where you could use it as many times as you wanted but I guess that one was tossed.

Now there’s healing talents when you reach level 100 like Words of Mending. Every healing or absorb spell generates a stack of Word of Mending. Hit 5 stacks, cast a free Prayer of Mending! Worried about Prayer of Mending overriding itself? A minor change was introduced where Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests are able to be applied on the same target. Not only that, one Priest can have multiple applications of Prayer of Mending on more than one target!

I mean, yo dawg! I heard you like Prayer of Mending! So I put a Words of Mending on your Prayer of Mending so you can Prayer of Mending while you Prayer of Mending!

Holy Priests gain access to another talent called Clarity of Purpose. It replaces Prayer of Healing with a new spell called Clarity of Purpose. We know that smart healing spells are getting dumber. But if healing spells were given an IQ, I’m certain Clarity of Purpose would take home the smartest heal ever award. It’ll heal players within 10 yards of your target. Not only that, it splits the heal so that weaker players receive more of the healing pie.

Now that’s legit!

This is going to be a fun beta testing period. Warlords needs to come soon! I’ll do my best to keep track of any pertinent Priest changes and updates as we progress through the development stages of the expansion.

The Edge: April Fool’s, Mythic Rosters, and Shaking up Dungeons

Several weeks ago, I joined BlizzPro’s The Edge videocast team as a third co-host on their show. I still receive questions from readers asking about the Matticast. This was one way for me to return to the casting circuit. We’ll be talking about news (at least, only the pertinent ones). Along the way, we’ll offer what we can about classes, skills, and raids.

In the last episode, we discussed cross-realm raiding and preparing your guild for Warlords. This week’s episode 14, the crew takes a closer look at the different factors that go into planning your roster for Mythic. Meanwhile, faux patch notes kept us entertained for the day with nods and inside jokes along with pop culture references. Sadly, I think I only got half the references.

  • 3:35: April Fool’s recap
  • 10:42: Mythic roster considerations
  • 21:00: Heroic dungeons

I’ll add some additional thoughts about building a Mythic roster in a future post. This is the first expansion where I’ve had to really whip out my whiteboard and really think ahead about the roles each player will have going into an expansion. I wasn’t in such a position when we transitioned from Vanilla Warcraft to Burning Crusade (and going from the 40 man to the 25 man). I can only imagine what it was like for GMs in those positions who had to make the tough call of picking 15 out of 40 players to release.

Sean wanted to take a page inspired from Diablo. Why not have loot drops completely randomized in a limited pool? But I don’t think anything can be done that can really entice me to jump back into heroic dungeons when I’m well already into raiding. Let’s face it, the first week or two of a new expansion, I’ll be dungeon diving repeatedly to get my priest at a level where he can adequately compete for raiding and then never going back again.

If there’s a system mechanic that increases character progression in addition to raiding, I’m going to be annoyed. Raids should be the ultimate way to progress a character’s power (excluding PvP). Dungeons just aren’t my thing and I hope we don’t have to run them to get some kind of currency or items that augment our gear. Just isn’t necessary. In my mind, you should be running heroic dungeons because:

  1. You want to get started for entry level raiding.
  2. Certain vanity rewards like pets or mounts (or challenge mode gear).
  3. An activity you enjoy with a smaller group of people.
  4. You need the 3000 valor points for the legendary cloak on your 4th alt.

Look, if you like dungeons and stuff, power to you. I’m just not a fan. I can’t think of anything they can do to really encourage me to go back in after I’ve had a taste of raids. There’s a finite amount of time I spend playing WoW per week and I don’t want to split up my time being forced to do something I don’t want to do for the sake of maximizing my character’s power.

They can’t exactly utilize the mechanics from Diablo’s adventure and bounty modes. You’re controlling a character with 6 abilities in that game. All areas of a map are randomly generated. All the loot stats and features are also randomly generated. In Warcraft, you’re playing your toon which has all these attacks and cooldowns. All the heroics are on a set layout. Lastly, each dungeon has it’s own set of loot rewards from each boss. Does WoW need anymore RNG? Right now, I know that if I wanted a weapon, I could run a certain boss in a specific heroic over and over again until I attained it. Chance says that if I do it enough times, eventually the dice roll will go in my favor*. At least I’d know what I can do increase the odds. With completely random loot tables, it wouldn’t matter what I did. I’d have a roughly equal chance no matter which boss I came to.

*In practice, I have the worst luck.

What about you? Are you a dungeon runner? What drives you to propel your characters through 5 mans? What would you like to see to improve your experience within them?

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

The news that cross-realms are allowing players to raid on other servers on both normal and heroic mode is a god-send! Players are no longer restricted to paying server transfer fees in order to raid. Cross-faction raiding isn’t going to be a thing anytime soon (and I doubt it ever will), but at least players can now raid across servers. This is a great way for a prospective player to “try” a new raiding guild before they commit to transferring. It’s great for guilds like mine to help fill out a raid in case we’re short players by using a service like Open Raid.

Another benefit? You can start selling guild runs and kills. It’s also known as “guild boosting”.

There’s a market out there for players who want the normal mode achievement. There’s players who want the gear that your guild has been routinely sharding week after week. People might scoff and laugh, but there’s always going to be a buyer. People want the loot, the achievements, and the mounts but aren’t necessarily able to commit the time required to a proper raiding guild. Just keep in mind that gold and loot still can’t be traded on non-connected realms so they’d have to transfer a character with gold plus the items that are the rough equivalent to the price negotiated upon. I’ve seen some players willing to transfer an alt and then boosting their main.

Want to make it even easier? Make sure the alt is the GM of their own guild. Last I checked, guild bank transfer limits were at 1 million gold. The character needs to meet the requirements though.

How does one go about it?

I’d strongly suggest doing this with a 25 man raiding team. I imagine it’s significantly harder to carry a person on 10.

Step 1: Discuss it with your guild

I’m using the word “discuss” in a loose term. It should be pretty easy to sell your guild on the idea. Remind them that that funds coming in are going to guild repairs and to the next expansion (recipes, crafting materials, enchants, etc). Will your participating raid members obtain a small cut? If you’ve already made that decision to sell runs, let the guild know. Any dissenters can be silenced with sound reasoning. If they still disagree, well that’s ultimately up to you to decide. No one has to participate if they don’t want to.

We’ll get to the actual agreements in a moment.

Step 2: Advertise it

You can sell something but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to be able to make any gold. No one’s going to come to a run they don’t know about! Hit up trade chat and see if anyone local is interested in the kills. Failing that, see if anyone on Open Raid is willing to go. Advertise on your server’s forums! They’ll ask you for a price and that’s going to fluctuate greatly based on things like your server progression, what they’re entitled to, what bosses are going down, and so forth.

If you have a guild website, consider creating a page dedicated to this information. Make sure you include the important stuff like the price and what they get. Include who they should message about it. Throw in the dates and times if you know it for a fact. If loot prices are different, specify that too.

In fact, some guilds have websites with full pages dedicated to just selling runs.

That’s where the next step comes into play…

Step 3: Settle on the terms and price

Are clients paying for just a Garrosh kill? Do they want a specific item? Do they want all items? Are they expecting a full clear? Heroic boss kills? All of those factor into. Speak to your client and figure out what they want. It seems the going rate for a straight up Garrosh kill with whatever loot they want is 15k.

A full heroic 14/14 run with loot, achievements, and the mount went for upwards of 800k gold.
A full heroic clear with just the achievements and no loot went for 300k.
Heroic gear: 20k Heroic Warforged: 30k
Heroic weapons: 35k
Heroic Warforged weapons: 80k.

Naturally the going rate of this stuff is going to be influenced by demand and the progression capabilities of your server.

Figure out and set your guild prices for:

  • Loot (Both normal and warforged)
  • Achievements
  • Mounts
  • Titles

Talk to your client and figure out exactly what they want and what they’re paying for. Once you have that step figured out…

Step 4: Arrange payment

Take a deposit.

Some guilds ask for non-refundable 15% up front. Other guilds ask for 50%. Consider cutting a deal on the price if the run is scheduled to occur on the day of. Again, this obviously isn’t going to work if the player is on a cross realm since they can’t trade gold but if they’re willing to transfer servers on an alt, take that into consideration. I find that the more well-known a guild is, the higher the deposit they can command. Reputation seems to play a big part. Guilds that routinely top the kills race ask for a higher deposit because they don’t want to be ripped off. Buyers can rest easily knowing that these are guilds who are also quite serious and skilled at what they do.

Step 5: The logistics

This up to the raid leader to decide. Which player is going to sit? Is the client going to attempt to participate and contribute? It might just be easier for them to die immediately and AFK lest they accidentally mess up the kill. This is where the client can pay up the rest of the fee associated with the run.

Does all this sound ridiculous? Unrealistic? Who’d pay that much gold for this stuff? Y’know, there’s over 7 million subscribers. There’s going to be a select few who are willing to buy their way to the top.

Last minute reminder: There is an absolute ton of risk involved in these kinds of transactions. There’s no guarantee the guild can carry a person from start to finish. There’s no guarantee a person is able and willing to pony up the rest of the mentioned fee. Either party can get ripped off at any time. If something doesn’t sound right, walk away. I doubt Blizzard GMs will be able to assist with this type of stuff if someone gets scammed or ripped off.

6+3 Lessons on Guild Leadership: Don’t Make These Mistakes!

6+3 Lessons on Guild Leadership: Don’t Make These Mistakes!

Tick tock.
That’s the sound of an expansion getting closer and closer to release. It hasn’t quite started yet, but players are starting to gradually trickle in and return to the game. Abandoned guilds are coming back online.  Some players are looking to try their  hand at starting their own guilds.
Does that sound like something you and your friends want to do? Like the Pandaren say in game, slow down! Take some advice from a few of my friends and the mistakes they’ve made when they started out.
One of the first mistakes I made in the formation of my guild was one that a lot of people make: we mostly relied on “common sense” to dictate what was and was not acceptable. For whatever reason, “common sense” was fine for the first couple of months, but after more recruits joined us, it became apparent that we actually needed to sit down and write out rules to let people know what behaviour was expected of them. The worst part of it all is that my officers and I were just dumbfounded at how poorly some people could behave! We honestly could not understand how anyone thought X or Y behaviours were appropriate. As such, most of the rules we wrote had a “private name” used to refer to them by the officers, as they were named for the guild member who caused us to write the rule in the first place, along the lines of “the Kurn rule” or “the Majik rule”. It definitely made for some memorable moments, but what I took away from it was that you have to be clear about your expectations from the start!
Conquest hasn’t really had a hard and fast set of rules. Going into Warlords, I knew I wanted to have a stronger foundation in place and really figure out what I wanted the guild to turn into. There were times where I felt it was too lax. I wanted to tighten that belt. It took us over a month and several revisions before we settled on the language that I felt reflected what I wanted my guild to become. It helps to have two or three goals in mind then ask yourself if the rules you are setting down will ultimately lead to those goals. If they don’t, reconsider them.
Rhidach (@Rhidach) | Rhida.ch
We had a raider early on who had a really difficult personality and didn’t get a long with a lot of our long-time raiders. Problem was that he was really good DPS, and I found myself with a dilemma after he caused a kerfuffle with some of my players. I had to choose between showing him the exit and hurting overall raid DPS, or attempting to smooth over the row and investing some of my credibility into him. I chose to do what I (mistakenly) perceived as being for the greater good and worked things out, but there was an even bigger incident not much longer after that and he really had to go that time. Trying to find a compromise (and compromising my own integrity) only kicked the ball down the road a little ways. I should have ripped the band-aid off quickly, and I paid for that dithering in the end.
Sometimes it isn’t always easy to control player behaviour. You want to do the right thing and let them go, but you might not be in the position to do that because removing a player means your guild doesn’t get to raid for a few days. It’s harder to pull that off in a 25 man raid because there’s almost always going to be conflicting personalities. It isn’t always easy to find 30 players who are able to raid effectively at a high level and be friendly with each other. But ultimately, the boss has to reconcile the differences.
Actually, there’s three ways that you can address it:
  • Find a way to deal with it: Involves muting, not socializing, or other methods.
  • Find a way to change it: Involves talking to the player and asking them that their behaviour needs to change.
  • Remove the problem: The ol’ gkick strategy.
Adam Ferrel (@FerrelES) | Epic Slant
One of the hardest lessons I learned the first time around is that people aren’t actually expendable. When you’re in a highly competitive environment with a ton of applicants it is easy to forget that. Everyone wants to be “uber” and kill the top monsters. As a motivation tool my officers and I leveraged this. We’d remind folks that there were people in the minor league waiting for the slot on the roster. It really demoralized more than it motivated. Later on I focused more on developing talent and retention. Keeping even average players for an extremely long time yielded far better results.
This one’s always a tough one. Some players end up being late bloomers. A player that might’ve not been the greatest in one tier could become an all star in the next largely due to class buffs or raid mechanics. Go with the sabremetrics methodology. How many fires do they stand in? What’s their survivability rate? Can they react to incoming missile attacks? Can they be counted on to nail every interrupt? Have they allowed any Malkorok puddles that were in there area to go off? Clearly Brad Pitt knew what he was doing when he built the Oakland A’s (I liked that movie).
Amy Emmence (@amyemmence)
While not an original or very early on officer, I feel when I became an officer, I felt a bit less than worthy and did not try and actively do more for my guild than I had done before.  I realize now that I was asked to be an officer because I was “worthy” of the role and respected in the guild and let that guide me now.
When the GM taps you on the shoulder and asks for your help, there’s usually a reason for it. It’s because they see something in you that can help uphold what the guild is doing. The great thing about being an officer is that the buck doesn’t stop with you. The GM is always going to be the fail safe and can ultimately veto anything that might not work.
Of course, you can always say no. In fact, maybe you should just say no. Much easier that way.
Liore (@Liores) | Herding Cats
Sometimes you have to be a jerk. Don’t farm it out to officers, don’t put it off, don’t hope that things will magically get better — part of your job is making people feel like you are securely in charge and protecting the guild community.
The world needs jerks. But it needs the right kind of jerk. The kind of jerk who’s willing to put their boot down and stop other jerks in their tracks. It’s a dirty job, but it has to be done. Officership comes with both prestige and responsibility. Liore recommends not farming it out and you shouldn’t the first time it needs to be done. I’m of the opinion that if a GM can’t directly tell a player that they’re no longer a member of the guild, then they’re not fit to be a GM at all. Now if you’re a veteran GM who’s looking for a successor, this is a great way to evaluate an officer’s fitness to eventually take over. Just be present for it and supervise.
When I took over as GM, I set expectations for officer activity too high. As an example, in the first month of MoP the role officers were expected to give raiders written reviews every week so we could nip any performance issues in the bud. After the first month, these were expected to be done monthly. This was great while it lasted but after a couple months sitting down and writing 8 healer reviews (or worse, 14 ranged reviews) really wore on people and the activity dropped off, causing some disappointment. A couple officers even stepped down from their roles – this wasn’t the only reason, but I’m sure the workload was part of it. The lesson? Set realistic expectations. It’s better to do things well, even if that means those things happen less frequently. People can only dedicate a certain amount of time and energy to the guild before they start burning out.
Burnout management is huge. If you need to tell a player to take a week off, you do it. They might go kicking and screaming, but they’ll be the better for it. But the flip side is also important. You have to manage your own burnout levels. I’m not impervious to it. My guild doesn’t realize it, but I try hard to not show any signs of burnout. In reality, I’m struggling hard to keep my game face on and the last thing I want to do is just flip out on someone for pushing my buttons too hard or something else that’s trivial. Pick and choose the days you need off and make sure there’s someone to cover for you. I need a vacation.

Shawn

My biggest mistake was a significant lack of game/life balance. I poured an unfortunate amount of trial-and-error into the guild in the early years, lacking any formal knowledge of what it took to build and maintain a successful guild, to the detriment of those around me. Guilds are demanding (especially raiding ones), but all can be managed if you have the necessary tools and know where to set boundaries.

Yup. See above! Shawn isn’t kidding!
(@Zaierpally)I think the biggest mistake I’ve made is not having enough communication.  I’ve had a couple of different instances where I thought everything was going great and then it all blew up in my face because there hadn’t been good enough communication.  I’ve had situations go from good to terrible because of a lack of communication both between myself and other officers/the GM and between myself (as an officer) and the rest of the members of the guild.

We’re not psychic. Even I need to remind myself that we may be on the same page on a philosophical standpoint, it doesn’t hurt to keep pestering people about stuff. Keep talking to the officers and make sure everyone understands what’s going on week to week. What’re the goals? Which bosses are we going to kill? Do we plan to reset or extend? Who’s the new person that just applied and did they get the introduction?
Outside of me as the guild leader, the leadership had no structure. Officers had no specific tasks and I simply promoted every “founding member” regardless of ability or desire to lead. Committed and organized leadership is a key part of a successful guild, and the lack of it made everything way more difficult for me in the early going than it should have been. Fortunately, many of my officers stepped up in a big way when I needed them, or the guild would have died in its infancy.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If an officer is charge of overseeing melee players, outline that out. Tell them they’re there to assign interrupts, offer opinion on new melee apps, and that they have to tell you if a rogue is starting to fall off the wagon. Guild treasurer? Good. They need to make sure the bank is liquidated of crap, and that there’s money coming in somehow. You might think it’s obvious, but get each role defined.
Still want to do this? Make sure you examine the articles I have on Guild Management. It ain’t easy, but being the GM usually never is.