How To Win Epics And Influence People

How To Win Epics And Influence People

Admit it. You like loot as much as I do. Maybe you oggle over stats on a new shiny with a calculator and spreadsheet at hand. Perhaps you spend a minute twirling your character around in the dressing room to see how a new item fits.

Whatever the case, you get that fuzzy feeling when you crouch over the still-sizzling and now gently glittering bit of the boss’ corpse and see that it’s dropped something for you.

But should you roll?

Minding your manners with loot is a basic expectation amongst WoW players in any group; organised, guild, PUG or otherwise for 5-25 mans. “Doin’ it rong” with loot could mean dire consequences for you. You could be laughed at, shunned by the community, or end up with your characters running around in eye-peelingly bright colours.

Doing it right, though, could mean that you get the loot you need and that people will consider you trustworthy. I don’t just mean regarding loot. Being sound of mind with loot etiquette is considered a signal that you are generally sound. Loot etiquette is about everyone getting the purples they want without unpleasant hold-ups. So if “your shinies or your life” doesn’t go down well, what is the right way?

I’m going to start off with some basic guidelines and then discuss a few of the finer points regarding loot. A lot of this column might seem like basic stuff to you if you’re a hardcore raider but it’s crucial stuff others have asked me to explain – and who knows, perhaps there’s something in it for everyone.

Either way it’s all subjective stuff and I expect – nay, demand, as any good highwayowl should – that it might inspire a healthy debate about how you expect others to mind their loot manners. But first hold your horses, on to the guidelines;

You should roll on an epic drop if:

  1. It’s a direct upgrade for your main spec. Sidenote: don’t feel guilty about rolling! A DK in my guild always used to feel guilty for rolling as though he hadn’t earned it. That’s tripe. You’ve as much right to roll as anyone else, especially if you’ve given it your all, no matter how little or large the meters ‘think’ that is.
  2. It’s a direct upgrade for your off-spec or a minor side-grade for your main spec if no-one else needs it as in point #1
  3. It’s a quest or seasonal item which you can reasonably assume that if people need it in order to complete their quest/achievement, they will roll. I’m thinking of things like Green Winter Hat. Frozen orbs also come under this category in random PUGs, these days

You should not roll on an epic drop if:

  1. It’s a BoE and you’re needing it for cash without asking/having a group consensus on doing this. I was in a PUG last week for which Avool’s Sword of Jin dropped from the first trash pack. Everyone greeded except the DPS warrior. When pressed by the rest of the group he said he needed it for his off spec. We asked him to equip it and he admitted he was needing it for his flying mount costs. This makes him a ninja, a liar and simply rude as he didn’t apologise at all – all in one. Don’t be that guy.
  2. The item doesn’t have your exact stats and other people need kit with those stats. The obvious case in point here is if you’re a priestie healer and you roll on something with hit on it when there are cloth DPSers in the group. They won’t thank you for taking their epix, and you’ll likely replace it with better itemized pieces quickly anyway.
  3. You’re rolling against someone you run with weekly and it’s orders of magnitude a greater upgrade for him than for you. Take this one with a pinch of salt. It depends on your own opinion, your interpretation of your stats and on how nice you’re feeling, frankly. Passing on a bit of kit for someone else occasionally (don’t do it all the time) can be a kind act and can win you a friend for life (or at least a fortnight) and upgrading Clarence’s iLevel 200 shoes might just benefit the whole group.
  4. Thanks to Phaythe for this oneStat sticks. That is, if it’s a bow or gun and it’s an upgrade for a hunter, melee DPS shouldn’t roll on it. It’s not as much an upgrade for you as for the hunter whose ranged weapon provides a large amount of his DPS. Likewise, hunters shouldn’t roll on melee weapons if meleers need them, for the same reason.

Basic principles that those are, they’re still shrouded by a grey miasma. For example, no basic etiquette list is going to help you if you haven’t got some grip on your class. You do need to know which stats are useful for your class and spec, to stop you getting laughed or nerd-raged at for rolling on tank loot as a fury warrior because it’s purple and you’re in greens, and that’s all you know.

But I’m no theorycrafter, I hear you cry. ” That’s fine. It is essential that you have a basic grasp of your stats but you don’t need any more than that if you don’t want to confuse yourself for whatever reason. Perhaps you’re a fresh 80 wanting to take it slow, just not a stat-interested person, perhaps you’re new to the class, or just get confused with amounts of stats – whatever the reason, step one is to remember that it’s ok to only have a basic grasp; you don’t need to be a human WoW stat splicer if you don’t want to be. Just get as far into stats as you’re comfortable with.

Step 2 in this case is to be proactive. Get that basic knowledge of your stats. There are websites out there with information for all classes and specs, and a lot of those sites have people who are genuinely helpful if you ask questions. You could also use sandbox websites like Warcrafter, customizeable stat-weighting addons like Pawn or programs like Rawr in advance and when loot drops so you know what items and stats to look for.

Likewise, you could also find friends or helpful players who can answer questions like “do I need more hit” or “is Hersir’s Greatspear better than Twin’s Pact for me?”

And yes, players should be willing to help. They should know it’s entirely possible that players can gear up in Heroics and then hit raids with gaps in their knowledge. I have, as a new bear tank who geared up purely in Heroics and is starting to raid from a bear’s furry perspective – looking straight at ICC loot. The end-game raids *are* the training grounds in WotLK.

If all else fails and the roll-timer is running low (it’s not that long if you’re agonizing over rolling) then you could always ask in raid chat whether it’s ok that you need X too. If the other rollers are nice and considerate they’ll either say “sure go ahead” or “no, because ABC good reason, for you”. An answer like “omg no feck off its mine noob” is a sure reason that they are only in it for themselves and you should probably roll.

You could also look at min-maxing if you do have a grasp of stats and you want to wring more out of your items. In order to avoid mis-looting in this case you’ll need an even clearer grasp on your class; which stats are useful and until which point (for example, soft crit cap if you’re a holy priest), how much to stack some stats while safely ignoring others. You’ll also need to keep updated with hotfixes and theorycrafting trends – and it’ll behoof you to be flexible if the theorycrafters turn a long-held cornerstone of your class on its head.

This is a real beartrap (or owl, or… you get the idea) as regards etiquette. If your stat requirements change due to min-maxing or trying new set ups, it might make you appear inconsistent or dopey – at best – when rolling for loot. At worst, it might make you seem plain weird or rude, because you might be rolling on things you weren’t interested in last week or items which other people think aren’t exactly suited to you.

I wasn’t kidding when I said loot etiquette was subjective. In this case the best method is probably to say “I want to roll on this because I’m over the soft crit cap and need some haste”; sounding reasonable is going to be more acceptable and trustworthy than, say, swearing and disappearing in a homely blue beam.

There is another form of min-maxing specifically related to PUGs vs. guild runs. I think of it as the loyalty <-> selfishness temptation. Say you’re in a PUG run and a piece of loot drops which is a side-grade for your character. Or maybe you think the item might be useful in one or two progression encounters; in reality it’d likely never see the light of day out of your backpack. It so happens that it’s also a huge upgrade for some of the other healers in your PUG. Do you roll on it because 6 extra haste might give you an edge in your guild’s progression night? Guild comes first, right? Every little helps?

Yes. So does it for the other healers in your PUG. They want to give their guild’s runs an edge, too, and they want to progress their character. In this case the etiquette really is personal preference. I’d say if it’s not that much benefit to you then be nice – it’ll make that healer’s day and may gain you another healer’s loyalty.

In any case, if the drops are perfectly stat’ed for your spec and it is an upgrade then you should roll, right?

Wait.

The only thing is – you’re a mail wearer, and the drop’s cloth. This is a frequent event for my resto shaman. I’m currently wearing two pieces of cloth from badges – but useful (and indeed on the BiS list for me) raid-drop cloth? Those I won’t get for a long time because there are clothies in my group. I wouldn’t even consider rolling against them. Generally you’ll be looked at askance and have some trust-points taken off if you ask to roll on loot that’s not your armour proficiency. It’s Bad Manners.

This is all particularly relevant when there are no loot systems in place. To a certain extent loot systems remove the need for etiquette towards other players, as they give you an incentive to wait for the thing you really need. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be nice, considerate, and win some friends with (or without) a set loot system like DKP or Suicide Kings.

 

What do you think? Are loot manners the stuff of life or of forgotten legend for WoW? Do you have problems with etiquette because you don’t know what to roll on and don’t feel you can admit it? Do you think loot systems are much safer? Are there any other grey areas that irk you regarding loot?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Article images originally by Migraine Chick and unforth @ Flickr

Focus Casting: Macros And You

Focus Casting: Macros And You

I had a revelation last week. It’s one I’m not afraid to share because I suspect there are a lot of players in the same position as me.

That position is peering out from round a corner with a bemused grin and crimson cheeks, watching the macro users of our raid do ten things at once while showering the raid in light and laughing at the boss. We’re cautious because they’re clearly performing some kind of common folklore which all players should know, right? And we shouldn’t even consider asking about macros?

Wrong.

If you’re in that position of knowing nothing about healing macros then we have something in common, you and I. Maybe you’ve just started a new healing class and know nothing about it. Maybe you’re looking to improve your WoW playing generally. Maybe you’re a raid leader, like me, and have been getting into macros via raid leading and now want to see if this macro malarky can do anything for your healing. Whatever the case, read on.

If you do know something about macros then have a read anyway – some of these might be basic to you, but you might pick up something that saves your skin, bark or cow-printed hide.

Paladins

1. Buffs up quicksmart

/castsequence [target=focus] Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield

  • This macro will put both of your essential healing buffs up on your focus, which is likely to be the tank.
  • TIP: you can use the addon Need To Know in conjunction with this setup. It’ll give you permanent timer bars for those buffs regardless of whom you’re targetting.

 

2. Easy judging

/cast [target=focustarget] Judgement of Light

  • Casts your judgement of light which both does healing and gives you a powerful haste buff
  • It won’t cause you to overaggro when casting your judgement as you’re using it on the tank’s target
  • Means you don’t have to mess around with tab or mouse targetting a mob to cast it on. You may need to re-target your tank but that’s less trouble than having to target everything manually.
  • TIP: you could use the addon Clique, which will allow you to set up mouse and key bindings for anything you could wish. Want to heal the tank? Sure, click the <insert mouse button here> and you needn’t retarget them after using your JoL macro.

 

3. Catch-all Holy Shock

/cast [mod,target=player] [nogroup,target=player] [target=mouseover,help,nodead] [target=targettarget,help,nodead] [] Holy Shock

  • If you have an enemy targetted it will automatically holy shock you
  • If you have *anything* else as target and a friendly unit as mouseover (or target) then it will holy shock that friendly unit

 

Priests – holy and discpline

1. “oh noes” button

/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast [combat,@player] Power Infusion
/cast [combat] Inner Focus
/cast [spec:1,@mouseover] Penance; [spec:2,@mouseover] Greater Heal
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

  • It works for priesties of both healing flavours. Yep, you read right, It’ll work by casting one of the spells, based on whichever spec you’re in. This saves you having two separate macros for holy and discipline
  • You could also add commands to pop your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) but be careful of the macro character limit.

 

2. Holy single target “oh noes” button

/cast [target=focus] Guardian Spirit

  • For you holy priesties. This is an “oh noes” button if you’ve been focussing on the raid and see that your focus, probably a tank, is wilting a bit and needs help now.

 

3. Discy Pain Suppression management

/cast [target=mouseover] Pain Suppression
/sw 8
/script Stopwatch_Play();
/say Pain Suppression Up!
/in 8 /s ***Pain Suppression depleted***

  • This is most useful for keeping track of PS cooldown and alerting you when it’s ready again – useful in fights where you need to time cooldowns and don’t have time to keep an eye out for them ticking down
  • TIP: this one may not work off the bat for you. The ‘in’ command is said to be provided through an addon, possibly the Ace3 library, though various people with various addon setups have got the macro working.

 

4. Discy raid-healing insta-bomb

#showtooltip Divine Hymn
/cast [target=player] Power Infusion
/cast Inner Focus
/cast Divine Hymn

You’re a discy priest so you’re probably healing tanks most of the time, right? That might be so, but sometimes you’ll be on raid anyway, and sometimes you’ll be on tanks watching the raid take heavy damage – and we all know how comfortable that isn’t. This macro will help you help the raid recover and soak up damage.

  • Try to have Borrowed Time proc’ed too for the (extra) haste
  • You’ve just given yourself power infusion which both reduces your cast time and mana costs
  • Bubbles! Bubbles everywhere! Your increased critical effect chance from inner Focus should mean more chance of divine aegis’ popping up.

 

Druids

1. Rolling Lifebloom
/target TankName/cast [modifier:shift] Rejuvenation ; [modifier:alt] Regrowth ; Lifebloom
  • Make a macro for each tank in the raid and you’ll be able to keep them all rolling on 3 stacks of Lifebloom, lag and catastrophe notwithstanding
  • This particular macro also has modifiers which give you flexibility in HoTs. Got a bit of extra time? Throw Tank1 a Rejuv. by pressing shift. Everything refreshed and got a couple of seconds? Stick Regrowth up by holding down alt

 

2. Quick response to tank death

#showtooltip Rebirth

/castsequence reset=600 Nature’s Swiftness, Rebirth

/run c=”Don’t release! I got ya.”if UnitInRaid(“player”)then SendChatMessage(c, “RAID”)elseif GetNumPartyMembers()>0 then SendChatMessage(c, “PARTY”)end

  • This is your “oh noes tank’s dead!” macro
  • It’ll immediately get him back on his feet and announce what you’re doing.

2a. Intuitive-res macro

#show Rebirth

/cast [@mouseover, combat, dead] [@target, combat, dead] Rebirth; [@mouseover, dead] [@target, dead] Revive

  • This is a similar one for other “oh noes” times – specifically when key people have dropped like lightbulbed flies. If you’re in combat it’ll try to use combat res, if you’re not it’ll use revive
  • Just be sure you’re out of combat after a fight’s ended before you use this, for fear of wasting your combat res.

3. Easy poison cleanse

#showtooltip

/cast [target=mouseover, help] [] Abolish Poison

  • This is a time saver anywhere there is a lot of poison kicking around. Its utility is simple: it allows you to cleanse your mouseover target without having to target them then retarget your healing target
  • TIP: I reckon this one works for all healing classes for their various cleansing duties.

Shaman

1. Earth Shield ease

/cast [target=focus] Earth Shield

  • Very, very simple way of refreshing earth shield on the tank, providing that your tank is your focus.
  • TIP: you can also get the addon Shaman Friend to support this macro by playing a sound when ES runs down. Alternatively you could have it in place of the macro: it can be setup to provide a focus button for earth shield refreshing, and a box which visually tracks ES stacks so you don’t miss it falling off.

 

2a. “Oh noes” button version 1

#showtooltip Healing Wave

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/cast Tidal Force

/cast Healing Wave

  • Any resto shaman worth his salt has some form of this macro. Some shamans prefer not to attach a healing spell to it so they can choose whether to fire off a single target spell or a chain heal after nature’s swiftness. You could make both of those options achievable by altering the macro slightly, to this:

2b. “Oh noes” button version 2

#showtooltip Nature’s Swiftness

/stopcasting

/use 13
/use 14

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/Cast Tidal Force
/cast [mod, help] [mod:shift, target=mouseover, help] Chain Heal; [help] [target=mouseover] Healing Wave

  • This version will cast healing wave after blowing your cooldowns or, if you hold down shift, it will cast chain heal. It also uses your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) for extra “oh noes” aversion value.

In both of these you could also add a command to tell party chat or a specific target that you’re averting catastrophe this time by blowing all your cooldowns, and so won’t necessarily be able to save the day again. At least for a few minutes.

 

External links:

There look to be quite a few sites out there with musings and help on macros, ranging from forums to class-specific blogs to macro specific-all class sites. Some of them are better than others. Here are the ones I found to be either most useful for digging these macros up or, in the case of the third link, just a Very Good Idea:

  • Arena Junkies – Arena Junkies macro forum – for your PvP macro needs
  • Elitist Jerks’ various guides, forums and threads have some useful macros squirreled away.
  • Macro Explain – does what it says on the tin. You paste in a macro, it explains each line of the macro. The website also has links to other macro resources and addons.
  • PlusHeal – plusheal’s macro forum – you’ll find good discussions and very helpful folks here.
  • WoWWiki – WoWwiki’s section on macros has links to class specific macro pages.

 

Most of these macros have been tested but let me know if any of them make things go boom. Or worse still, make nothing happen at all. I hope these do work and help you have more fun healing. Perhaps it’ll even bring about that myth us healers have heard whispered about – less stress while healing.

What do you think? Are you a macro-newbie and had been afraid to admit it? Feel free to do so! Share your tales of macro learning experiences. Also let me know if any of these prove really useful or otherwise. Likewise, if you’ve been hit by inspiration and have just spent thirty minutes writing some new healing macros or perfecting existing ones, do share them!

This is a post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

(Macro image created by Emrank @Flickr, used under CC)

What To Do When You Meet Lady D.

What To Do When You Meet Lady D.

So you’ve just met a charismatic, high-powered woman. You know the type. Legions of admirers. A woman capable of raising her followers up and empowering them on to great strengths. The sort of woman who reduces her enemies to insignificance with one touch. And then leaves them for dead on the floor. Oh, yes. You’ve just met Lady Deathwhisper. Want to take her down a peg or two? Here’s what you need to know.

This isn’t just hints and tips to help you get by. If you’ve met Deathwhisper and, more pointedly, the cobblestones in her lair, you’re the embittered adversary. You need a full guide on how to handle it. You need to know everything from basics to tricks for every role of your team. This guide is your friend. It’s going to walk you through the basic tactic for either 10 or 25 mans, and as a bonus I’ll throw in the alternative tactic for 25 mans and a note on the quest you may find yourself on to save Darnavan. It doesn’t matter if you’re there with a PUG group rather than a guild run. In fact, all the better if you are, because this guide assumes it’s not a given that your team know what to do. Just that they – and you – have a grudge against her Ladyship.

So an encounter with Deathwhisper follows a basic two-phase pattern. In the first phase the Lady will, like any leader-with-minions, stay at the back hiding behind a barrier while calling forth waves of minions to attack your group and doing some damage to random players with frostbolts and death and decay. You need to burn down her barrier – which is actually a mana shield – before phase 2 will kick in. Phase 2 is mostly a tank and spank affair, in which you just need to burn her down while she throws frostbolts, death and decay and angry ghosts at your party.

Tanks:

Left side will be 2 melee (fanatic) and 1 ranged (adherent) mobs. Any tanking class should be able to deal with this.

Right side will be 2 ranged (adherent) and 1 melee (fanatic) mobs. Ideally you want a DK or warrior on this side as they have more tricks for annoying ranged types.

  • Be aware that the fanatics cleave: don’t move them around any more than you have to unless you want withering glances from your enhancement shaman.
  • On 10 man the left and right side mobs appear alternately. On 25 man they appear at the same time, as well as an extra wave at the back, which consists of one random mob. You want to put your best kiting tank on the back wave: they tank that mob and take responsibility for kiting any deformed fanatics that spawn in the room.
  • When Deathwhisper’s mana shield goes down your tanks need to tank the Lady herself. She stacks a debuff called Touch of Insignificance on the current tank. It reduces their threat generation by 20% and stacks to five; have your tanks taunt to swap on three stacks.

Healers:

This largely depends on what classes your healing team consists of, and that may or may not change the more times you bounce. The basics apply – if you have a holy paladin he should be able to take care of two tanks, using beacon. Otherwise, put your disc priest, or if they’re confident to do so, resto shaman on tanks.

Healers should just be ready for a lot of damage. More than the fight merits, probably. People will stand in death and decay, probably for a jot longer than they should. Melee might get cleaved in their own rush to get stabbing things. Got a reanimated adherent loose? Oh yep, he’s going to merrily throw deathchill bolts around until someone notices him. Not to mention frostbolt volleys and some rather unhappy ghosts thrown into the mix.

  • Any healer who can cleanse curses – should. Everyone should drop what they’re doing and cleanse Curse of Torpor as soon as anyone in the raid is afflicted by it.
  • Priests can help out by mass dispelling Adherents when they put up the spell reflect shield called Shield of the Occult.
  • Watch your range – this room is just big enough to get out of range of your healing targets or them to outrange you. Be on your toes.

DPS:

Basic kill order:

Deformed Fanatic > Empowered Adherent > normal Fanatic/Adherent > Reanimated Fanatic Adherent > Deathwhisper

  • Some people place reanimated as a higher priority than normals – I don’t, because the less normal adds you have running around the less reanimated adds you might get.
  • Deformed/reanimated fanatics are mostly immune to physical damage: ranged DPS need to kill them. Empowered/reanimated Adherents are mostly immune to magical damage, so they’re meleers’ priority.
  • Normal adherents can be interrupted when casting Deathchill Bolt. They can also be deathgripped. Just be careful not to interrupt or deathgrip them while they have Shroud of the Occult up because it’ll bounce and you’ll be interrupted or, as our unlucky DK found, deathgripped to them. Adherents’ Curse of Torpor should be removed from the party by anyone who can (mages, boomkins, we’re looking at you).
  • Melee should watch out for Reanimated Adherents – we find it can be easy to miss them by assuming that adherents that drop dead are dead, rather than the actual case of the Lady about to reanimate them
  • Normal fanatics cleave. Melee: be sure to stand behind them, eh? Fanatics also have an ability called Vampiric Might, which can be spell stolen by mages.
  • Deathwhisper also mind controls party members on 25 man, one on normal, more on Heroic. DPSers should be ready to CC and snare/slow them before they cause havoc.
  • We also generally find it useful to have some pre-arranged DPS focus solely on the boss in order to get her mana shield down and phase 2 started. In 10 man we have one DPS do this (our enhancement shammy due to her mixture of magical and physical damage making neither add type overly suited to her). In 25 man, at least three should stay on the boss.
  • We’ve found that if you’re a DPS class with a pet it’s generally worth leaving the pet to DPS Deathwhisper unless your pet has an ability that makes him move quicksmart. Otherwise the travel time dragging him around the room will significantly reduce his overall DPS. And give him aching legs.
  • As a last tip and trick, our DK has also found that anti-magic shield is your friend in phase 2. It helps the healers and takes a bit of pressure off all round – and you get free runic power. Win.

The above are exact tactics for 10 man version and extra explanations for 25 mans where necessary. There is an alternative 25 man tactic:

The entire group stands behind Deathwhisper. You can get into position before the fight starts. Melee adds will come towards healers and should be taken down on the way to them in a snare-and-AoE heavy zone created by the ranged DPS. The tanks draw ranged adds in by line of sighting them using the pillars. This tactic has the benefit of reducing run distances for melee and switching times for everyone: the entire group will get more time nuking through Deathwhisper’s mana shield. It’s not so great when everyone’s bunched together and a death and decay patch hits, though.

Oh, and if you find yourself charged with rescuing Darnavan from Deathwhisper’s charms in return for a Sack of Frosty Treasures, the following are all viable tactics when he spawns (usually in the first wave of adds):

  • Have a plate meleer (preferably with some tank kit) tank him off to the side. Be careful not to do too much damage to him as he doesn’t have that much health.
  • Have a hunter pet do the same. It may be difficult for the pet to get it away from the tank. Our hunter solved this with a distracting shot and a bit of kiting to a safe spot where his pet could taunt and tank
  • Have a druid root him, continually. Other CCs don’t work

So, that should be all. Follow these tactics and you should suitably reduce Deathwhisper – that is, to nothing more than a pile of gaudy wrappings under your boots. Ah, justice. Oh, and the elevator will likely land on your head. Don’t be alarmed, elevators aren’t nearly as painful as Deathwhisper laying you low.

How about you? Do you think I’ve forgotten anything glaringly obvious, or have any small tips and tricks to share? This fight is still one of those that can turn from peachy fine to disaster in seconds – do you regularly have problems with this fight?  Do you think there are any particular group setups which work better for this fight – or make it all the more challenging?

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

I confess. My raiders and I have been bashing our heads against a brick wall for a couple of weeks. Our heads have been filled by the red mist ‘o wrath. We’d got the first wing of Icecrown Citadel on farm but our next focus, Rotface, ‘brokseded’ us time and again.

The brick wall suddenly came down on Sunday night. We had an experimental snipe at the Princes and then marched into the Plagueworks to slaughter Festergut and have a positive pop at Rotface. So what happened to stop us seeing red?

Change.

What change has that effect, I hear you cry? Did we change players? Did we somehow plunder a trove of 277 gear? Did we hardwire exact playing requirements into our members while they slept? Not at all. We merely tweaked one of our raiding practices: breaks.

I’ve always said they’re important in raids – it gives your raiders a chance to breathe. Sunday night taught us that organised breaks are even better.

Really regular breaks. We announced to our band of brigands at the start of the evening that we’d be calling a three minute break every 30 minutes, and that we’d like them to be sure to wait until then for quick AFKs for drinks and the like.

Wow, every 30 minutes? Those are a lot of breaks, I hear you cry. It’s a wonder we got anything done, right? Wrong.

Give yourselves regular chances to slack – that is, relax – and you’ll come back after the break more focused than had you pushed on and sat for an hour, two hours, wiping. Your head won’t be full of red mists so there’ll be room for useful things like remembering to move out of slime spray.

Movin’ n’ shaking. Several of my guild play in the same room on raid nights. Usually during a break we stare at the computer screens and brainstorm tactics in increasingly stressed tones.

Instead we decided to test out a terrifying concept during breaks: moving away from the computers and out of the room. We strongly recommended to our raiders that they do the same. We found that the simple change in space and environment again helped us to feel fresh and focused when the break was over. Even just moving about and stretching helped relax some tension. If you have time and inclination to fit in a few actual exercises, you’ll feel all the more responsive in the raid.

Time, gentlemen. After each break we announced the time of the next one. Sounds simple, but I think this was the key to the whole break renovation. Raiders need their creature comforts, right? And if they don’t know when a break’s coming then they’ll slide off after wipe 20 and get the drink they desperately need or the smoke to relieve stress. Meanwhile the rest of the group grumbles while waiting for them to return from their unannounced break.

By announcing break times, we’re allowing raiders to plan ahead. It means they don’t need to feel guilty about making the group wait on them. importantly it also gives them some control back over their own comfort. Our lock wants coffee? He knows the next break is in 10 minutes and can hang on until then.

Content breaks. I don’t mean a break in gameplay. I mean mix your encounters up to get the balance right between learning the fights and actually still having fun. You’re sick to the back teeth of bouncing on Festergut? Right, about time you take your raid to meet the Princes. Perhaps later on go to pay Rotface a visit.

You’re not being inefficient by not forcing yourselves to sit there and practice a fight: quite the opposite. Cut yourselves some slack if you’re working hard and not getting anywhere; you might find you slaughter the next encounter you head to and earn yourselves a morale boost. That’s efficiency.

 

These are small changes but could be useful to any raid group out there. You’re a 3 year-old guild running your A team? Or perhaps you’re running a PUG (breaks are not a PUG killer any more than giving your raid a little bit of trust, but such PUG raid myths is a topic for a future post). In my opinion these changes are crucial for any sort of raid group. Why? Let me explain what I think a well-run raid group is:

  • It’s a social activity. If someone in our group is not having fun for some reason we get uncomfortable and more stressed. Then Rotface smashes us more easily, morale plummets, stress goes up. Vicious circle. Having a break allows us to peel ourselves away from the stressful game environment and remember that it’s a social occasion, too.
  • It’s a team sport. Sure, we don’t leave the comfort of our computer desks and run up and down a pitch for several hours. We do work together using tactics, formations and roles to achieve a common aim. Sports benefit from breaks; think of the oft touted stories of football players eating oranges at halftime, or a weight-lifter taking breaks between sets so they can achieve their best for longer.
  • It’s a company. Wait, that sounds a little mercenary – try ‘organisation’. Either work. Like most companies, we expect our members to perform a certain job and they’re paid for successful tasks with emblems – and occasional epic perks. We invest time and effort to skill-up our members so that they can achieve goals, and improve all the time. We provide a safe (and because it’s a game, fun) environment for them to perform their tasks. All of these are good practices for a company, at least according to a particular book (see below) on company organisation. And like any good company in accordance with this book, we’re flexible enough to cut them a little slack to give them room to be their best.

A person will work better, be more focused, if they feel they are trusted and have some space to relax. Running around like a headless chicken or battering your head against one encounter is not healthy. The benefits extend to groups of people, too.

“The difference between the time it takes you to [achieve your next progression] at ‘all prudent speed’ and time it would take you ‘at breakneck speed’ is your slack. Slack is what helps you arrive quickly but with an unbroken neck.”

- Slack, T. Demarco, page 208 (and a book I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to change their raiding style)

What do you think? Does this sound like a useful nugget for your raid setup? Have you been wanting to try something like this for a while and been worried that you’d not cover as much ground? Do you think I’m completely wrong and sticking on one encounter until you’ve got it is best? Or, possibly, do you think the wisdom of this vs. encounter battering is dependent on how many nights your group raids?

 

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin and restorman of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

ICC Plagueworks: How Not To Die A Poisonous Death

ICC Plagueworks: How Not To Die A Poisonous Death

So you’re standing in the heart of the citadel. You’ve just walked through fire to get here – quite literally. Before that you ran the gauntlet of the lower spire and left the Lich King’s doormen smattered over the walls. That place feels like home to you now.

But now you’re on the upper levels you’re choking on the Citadel’s hostility, which is no surprise given the fat ochre clouds seeping out of the Plagueworks nearby. You must conquer it – but how?

I’ve been there too, alongside nine others. Here are my tips for your group regarding the trash guarding the entrance, a strategy for Precious, and some healing advice for the Rotface encounter.

 

Getting your foot in the door – trash tips:

1. Bitesize the trash pull as it’s more dangerous the more you pull here. It’s very easy to get mobbed by everything lurking in the entrance to the Plagueworks. It’s also very easy not to do so.

From our experiments we believe that everything will pull if you set foot on the platform in front of the door to the Plagueworks, upon which the Blighted Abominations are standing. Have your group gather a bit back – at the blue brazier on the left-side platform perhaps – and have your tanks pull the abominations back to the group.

2. Healers! Be on the ball. When you engage the large trash group just inside the door in combat, be aware that it will be a hectic fight. Plague Scientists will be turning random group members into slimes, and those players will take the opportunity to bounce around playfully. Because it’s fun. Meanwhile (shackle-able) geists will be jumping on people and eating them alive. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the mobs will be inflicting various nature-based attacks on chunks of your group.

3. Be on your toes. That applies to everyone. The abominations will emit plague clouds. Yuck. Move whatever’s standing in it out, be that you as a healer or the mob needing a tank to kite him out.

Also, the Pustulating Horrors will start the 5 second cast of Blight Bomb when they’re nearly dead: a kamikaze move. Everyone should watch out and move away before it’s cast; it does a lot of AoE damage and DPS or healers may explode alongside the Pustulating Horror.

Precious tactic: Making the Dog Play Dead. Er.

When my group first met Precious we wiped. We’d stand and nuke him; sometimes we AoE’ed the zombies, sometimes we didn’t because our 10 man didn’t have many AoE options. Either way we died horrible deaths. So, we did a bit of research and brainstorming. This is the tactic we have adopted since.

1. Have your healers and ranged DPS stand halfway down the circular staircase. Pull Precious to the stairs. Kite him round past them (decide clockwise or anti clockwise beforehand). Have healers and ranged run ahead of you so they don’t become zombie chow later.

2. When Precious summons zombies, speed up the kiting a bit to get ahead of them. If you have any shamans or hunters – or both – then earthbind and frost trap really help to put some distance between you and the braaaaaain munchers. I’m sure other slowing effects work. Be creative. Don’t speed up so much that you lap the zombies.

3. Rinse repeat with kiting and earthbind/traps until the dog is dead. Turn round and deal with the zombies. AoEs you can run in, drop, then out – like consecrate – work well. Pre-positionable AoEs like shamans putting up earthbinds and fire totem/fire nova repeatedly while still running away also work. While we were perfecting this my guild had an attempt whereby the group’s several shamans finished off the zombies while everyone else ran in – er, I mean, recovered from temporary inability to help.

 

Rotface tricks for healers:

1. Surround him. Rather than clumping together in one huge mass, have your group stand in smaller clumps round Rotface’s…. well, I guess they’re feet. At least one healer to each clump. This has two benefits for healers. Firstly it reduces the number of people who may get hit by slime spray. Secondly it means that at least one healer should always be in range of the tank who is kiting the big ooze, wherever they are in the room, in case of problems.

2. GO team Heal! If another healer gets mutated infection and so has to run, heal him until it’s gone and he’s safe. This may sound silly but sometimes when the elephant hits the jet fan, healers assume that other healers can look after themselves. Yep, usually. But you should always remember you’re a team and work like one. Particularly here, where the infection ticks for a fair chunk and a lot of healers can’t heal and keep running at the same time.

3. Assume the worst. We all make mistakes: we’re human. But this is an encounter in which one person making a mistake can make things three times more hectic and it’s us healers who have to try to get the group through it. The retri paladin thinks he’s delivered his ooze to the big ooze but has actually dragged it into the melee and is standing there? Someone’s got two infections in a row and not realised?

Watch as much as you can. Watch for people making mistakes so you can go into overdrive. Watch your and other healers’ mana and pop things like mana tide or hymn of hope either early or at (an early) crunch time. Importantly, watch *your* positioning. You might think that concentrating on your own situational awareness might make it a bit harder to focus on healing when there’s a lot of damage. Instead, consider how doing so will make your job easier rather than if you get caught up in healing and, say, forget to move during an Unstable Ooze Explosion.

 

The Plagueworks is not a friendly place and only the bold set foot on its flagstones. Although, looking at Rotface I think Professor Putricide has other ideas about what feet should do. I hope your bravery is rewarded by victory, and that something here has helped if you were bouncing off those flagstones!

What about you? Have you got any tips, either general or class/healer specific, to add for any of these three encounters? Are you having trouble on any of them, or have been and are slowly getting better at dealing with them? Do you actively like or dislike these fights, given that they go in a different direction to the fights in the first wing?

Healer 101: How To Storm Citadels More Smoothly

Healer 101: How To Storm Citadels More Smoothly

ICCHealing1

Say you’re storming the Citadel on a fairly regular basis, massacring the Lich King’s advance nasties from Lord Marrowgar right up – literally – to Deathbringer Saurfang. You might be progressing through it at your own pace, or you might have it on farm and are running through weekly as a warm-up to pick up gear. Well, either way. Here are some general and some shaman-specific tips from my own experience on how to healing can help your group steamroller the nasties.

Lord Marrowgar:

1. Bone Spike Graveyard: Pain. In. The. There are two things you can do to mitigate its effect on your healing. Firstly, make sure you remind your healing  Marrowgar diagram 3teammates to watch out for bonespike on each other. For example, if your tank healer is spiked then you need to pick up the slack for him and heal the tanks. Just til he gets back on his feet. Secondly, standing behind Marrowgar as shown in the diagram will help your DPS get you un-spiked as quickly and safely as  possible.

2. Coldflame is not cool. Really. Move out of the fire before it gets to you. Yep, I know it’s a pain and it seems to as soon as a healer has moved there’s more coldflame racing towards you. Standing at range will give you time to see it and move.

3. One shaman to another: people stand in fire. Us healers know it like we know the sky is (sometimes) blue. Bone Storm and Bone Spike Graveyard do damage. There’s a lot of it going round. So consider dropping mana tide early to have it ready again later if needed and using bloodlust after the first Bone Storm so that DPS get time to use it when Marrowgar’s not doing the tango.

 

Lady Deathwhisper:

1. Spread out. At least a bit. Deathwhisper’s room is just big enough that if you stand too far to either side you won’t be able to reach the people on the other side. Spread your healer team out so that tank healer A is covering the tank on the left, tank healer B on the right and raid healer in the middle. If you’re running two healers then they’ll need to be a bit closer to the middle for raid coverage. There’s also less chance you’ll all get caught in death and decay if you spread out.

2. Healer, cleanse… everything. This fight has some status changes which give Deathwhisper and her crew an edge. If Curse of Torpor is running amok on your raid then cleanse it, first on you then on other targets. If a Cult Fanatic casts Vampiric Might (magic effect) on itself then cleanse it in order to down it quicker. Or tell your mages to spellsteal it: they’ll love you.

3. Shamanic wisdoms: think about your totem placement; you might want to manually place them rather than drop all four in one place. Personally I drop stoneskin and healing stream well to the left with the tank I watch over. I then separately drop Flametongue and Wrath of Air nearer the middle/mid-back, depending on whether it’s 10 or 25 man. I re-place totems at Deathwhisper when phase 2 hits.

 

Gunship battle:

1. Welcome returning soldiers back. With a lot of healing. When the boarding party returns Muradin might well still be trying to kill at least one of them, probably with rending throw. In my opinion it’s best to play it safe: overheal them all as they come back over rather than waiting for them to take an unexpected damage spike they might not survive. If at all possible have one member of the boarding party announce when they’re returning.

2. You’re a field medic, not a pirate. I think healers should stay on their ship rather than boarding. Healing on the Edge ™ of the ship works just fine. Yes, you have to move out of the cannon fire patches but at least there is ample time to do that. Things can and do go wrong for the boarding party and the chance of that goes up exponentially according to how many people jet over. You don’t need to.

3. Shaman talk: Consider earthshielding a different target, particularly a DPS on the boarding party. My 10 man run usually has an enhancement shammy swinging over to swash some buckles, and full of health they’re not. If Muradin/Saurfang decides he doesn’t like her she’s the most likely to go splat quickly and she is aware of it. I put earthshield on her for this fight: not only might it help in a pinch but it also makes her feel a tad bit safer when jetting off to hostile territory. She hasn’t died here since I made that change.

 

Deathbringer Saurfang:

1. Healers need time to breathe. Mark of the Fallen Champion can make things hectic if everyone’s trying to deal with everything on this fight. Arrange for one person to deal solely with victims of the mark when it starts hitting. Personally I have our disc priest doing that while our shamans chain heal around the rest of the group. It just gives everyone enough slack to not turn into headless chickens.

2. Be prepared. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a healing-easy fight based on the first couple of minutes of it. Remember that the longer it goes on the more healing-intensive it gets, and its length is dependent on your group’s general level of kit and knowledge of the fight. Don’t let boredom tempt you into overhealing early on. Manage mana well and be ready for it to be challenged.

3. If you’re a shaman: Earth bind is your friend. Place it near-ish the platform to catch blood beasts as they spawn. It’ll just give the ranged DPS some breathing time, which should give you breathing time with less potential for blood beasts tearing up your warlock. Keep it refreshed. If you have more than one shaman co-ordinate to have your earthbinds cover a greater area.

 

World of Matticus: helping healers storm their local citadels since 2010. As with many fights at present the thing to remember above all else is to be mobile and flexible if the situation requires. I’ll also briefly be extolling the virtues and citing an example of shamans retreating to advance, later in the week.

How about you – are you a healer with any tips to add for the first wing? Any widely held tactics you’d particularly like to discredit? Any questions been troubling you about the healing on wing the first, whether or not you’re a healer? Comments are very welcome!

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

TheFuture

My guild is special. No, really. We’re like a guerrilla force descending from our airborne stronghold to plunge deep behind enemy lines in a surprise raid. This is, you see, an affectionate way of describing my guild’s raids.

We are a small, ten-strong band of fighters not all wearing the same colours because our roots are in a small core relying on PUGgers. It is sometimes a surprise when our raids get going, even though they’re organised in advance. Yet despite these things we’ve managed to storm the citadel right up to Rotface. Not only that, we’re thinking to scale up to 25 man operations. How I hear you cry, is that special?

My guild, you understand, is not a raiding guild. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Herding Cats is a small group of real life friends. But many moons ago we got together, grabbed a few random PUGgers, and poked our noses into Naxxramas, like guilds do. Northrend’s raids became second homes over the months.

In ye olde Naxx runs we decided we just wanted PUGgers to be friendly. Not imbah, not a great tactician, not rocking 18k DPS. Our raids might not be lightning fast but they should be jolly good fun, old chap. Whenever we found a friendly stranger we rejoiced. And kidnapped them. Oh, we didn’t recruit – only invited them to our raids. In this way we cultivated a network of friendly people who fit in with the raiding group.

Our network of non-guildies quickly outgrew the slots we had for 10 man raiding and priority was given to people who were already raiding with us. We thought it sensible to develop a core. Tactically the group would become a single unit capable of learning encounters and to work together in order to move forward. Naturally this had social benefits for our raid members, who were rewarded with progression, loot and group friendships.

The downside of this was that many Herding friends are left out. As the raid leader/organiser, I really feel bad about this downside, as we are lucky enough to have people ask every week if there’s a raid spot for them this week even though they’re often told “I’m sorry but we’re full at the moment.”

So my guild is special but not unique. I’d wager there are a lot of guilds either already in our position or considering adapting to something like it.

How can we include people? 25 mans. Our network is big enough to fill 15-20 slots of a 25 man raid. It’s one huge step for Herding-kind. Dangerous almost. It might bite. Going into the hydra’s den unprepared is a bad idea so we’re arming ourselves and going at it as a team. We’re still thinking about it but this is the current battle plan.

1. Delegation. There are a lot of hats to wear in a 25 man so we’ve agreed to split the hats between the five of us. We’ll have leaders for each role, and they will each have a chat channel to communicate with their players. For example, in the tanks channel the tank leader will ascribe tactics to the tanks and foster communication between them. The other leaders will do the same for healers and melee and ranged DPS. The raid leader’s task is to introduce the raid, keep an eye on the group chat channels, be the deciding force in conflicts and handle unforeseen shenanigans. We’ll also have someone acting as a mentor. Unofficially we’ll have someone else as a morale officer and someone acting as a raid HR department.

2. Housekeeping. This is a brief introduction to the raid, given by the raid leader, which sets out a few basic points. These include our core principles for the run – for example, that we will welcome people amicably and expect them to do the same in return. We’ll also set out other rules on behaviour, breaks, tactics and loot. I’ve spoken before about how important this is, and it can only get more important the more people you have to organise. Setting clear rules from the start creates a safe, fun raid for everyone, Herding Cats veteran or first-timer and gives everyone a fair warning of what’s expected of them before we start.

It relaxes strangers, too. I think that people can join PUG raids expecting an atmosphere of every man for himself; having to constantly defend their playing style, DPS, healing, gear, whatever. We’ve had PUGgers say they’re pleasantly surprised to find a group where this isn’t the prevailing culture.

3. Communication. I believe the more information you communicate the more time you’ll save on wipes. Tactics are fluid things, changeable in progression content and per player experience. We’ll explain tactics for all encounters, provide a chance for suggestions and encourage raiders to ask questions in chat or privately to raid officers at any time. Officers will also keep an eye on their players and have a quiet chat if they suspect a player isn’t clear on something. “Hello Mr.. rogue, nice work on adherents there but you didn’t seem to get any time stabbing Deathwhisper. Any questions about that?” Likewise, we’ll check in with random raiders at random times to find out how they’re feeling.

Communication is most important when things go wrong. When we wipe we have a quick brainstorm in Herding Cats Land. Then we talk to the raid, saying something like “ok, what went wrong there was a deformed fanatic getting loose as phase 2 started. Easy mistake, we’ll get it right this time. Oh, and nice work on her mana shield, guys.”

4. Social. I play this game for fun, don’t know about you. It’s not a single player game and I like interacting with other people. I hope our raiders do too, but in a large group it’s easy for negativity to spread. The morale officer will keep the atmosphere cheery. The mentor’s role is just as important. It’s his task to be there for anyone who’s in any way unsure or needing reassurance. They might be new to raiding, they might be unsure in group settings, they might still be learning their class (who isn’t?). We welcome new players – given the right encouragement they can turn out to be some of the most loyal and best you’ll find.

5. Networking. We can’t fill 25 spots off the bat. We rather like that. It means that we have room to do what we did way back in Naxx times: meet new people and kidnap them to our raids. This way our network will grow whenever we find a new person we like and the entire group will benefit both in raiding and social terms.

If we get a PUGger we don’t like? We call them ‘That Guy’. You know – the guy who backseat raid leads, continually pastes DPS meters, abuses other group members. The list can go on. Ideally we’ll have a very strict policy, backed up by the housekeeping which already informed people what standards we work by. Some people have different attitudes and expectations to raiding than what they find in our group: that’s fine, but if you join a group you go by their expectations.

If someone insults our group members or any Cat finds them annoying in some way, they’re out. Sorry. I don’t care if they’re saved for one raid lockout, I don’t care if they’re the leader of the server’s top raiding guild. I don’t care if they’re hitting 11k healing every fight. I’ll protect my own group over someone who’s just griefed the priest healer they know nothing about. I think this is the most controversial point of our game plan, particularly if we just find someone annoying.

So those are the basics of our arsenal. There are some finer points such as where to begin our venture: we’re thinking ToTC25 for the first raid. It’s relatively short and should be a good ground to help the raid find its feet and bond. Not only that but it should provide some folks with bits of kit for the real progression and leave everyone salivating over the prospect of more next time. We also have a raid spam addon tailor-made for our needs in the works.

And do we, the raid officers, know what we’re doing? Why, yes, old bean. We know the enemy lines and the guerrilla force we’re leading into the Lich King’s chambers.

What about you? Is your guild in a similar position, or considering something like this – are you worried it’ll be a lot more work than you have time for? Are you in a large guild that does in house runs? Are you a PUGger who wishes you did/did not come across more groups like this? Do you think leaning a bit towards carebearing is going to hold us back or benefit us in the long term (and what’s YOUR playing style)?

Rot-Face the Music, People!

Rot-Face the Music, People!

The second wing of Icecrown Citadel has been open for just two lockout periods.  There have been the outcries from all sides:

“It’s too soon!”

“Thank God, it’s finally here!”

“Why can’t we just fight Arthas already?”

But my new personal favorite, has GOT to be:

“Rotface is too hard!”

First, let me go on the record that I’m thankful for fights like these.  I’ve mentioned here before, and also when I’ve guest-hosted on Raid Warning (shameless plug), that I loved bosses back in the BC days.  Fights like Leotheras or Al’ar took coordination, teamwork, and dedication.  I remember the guild I was in never took down Al’ar.  Primarily, we lacked perseverance.  We would spend 3-4 attempts on that bird, and then people would gripe about how hard it was and we’d move onto Loot Reaver, I mean Void Reaver.

My point is that in Wrath, we’ve essentially seen easier bosses in raids.  Yogg was hard, Faction Champions held up a lot of guilds, true.  Aside from examples like those, we haven’t seen any fights in ICC thus far that have resembled the challenging nature of a true raid boss.

Rotface as a challenge?  I welcome it.  I think we, as raiders, get tunnel vision too easily.  Most of the fights have been the following:

  • Switching targets to an add or group of adds
  • Stay out of the stuff on the ground
  • Heal through this bout of incoming damage

Hence, Rotface is a breath of fresh air, even if it’s the leading cause of my healer-rage on any given raid night.  Healers, because of the instances of raid damage, have to step it up.  Any combination of the following mechanics will make for a bad experience:

Mutated infection – [UNAVOIDABLE] The primary mechanic for the fight.  Your choice to cleanse it early, though I wouldn’t recommend it unless your raid is totally on their A-Game.  You have to get on top of this as fast as possible because of the Mortal Strike-styled healing debuff.  When I’m assigned to the mutated peeps, I throw PW:Shield, Prayer of Mending, and a quick Penance to pile on Grace.  It’s better to keep them topped off than just keep them alive.

Slime Spray -  [AVOIDABLE] This is a pain in the butt to deal with if people don’t move out of the way.  At roughly 5k each second, multiple victims make healing rough, especially in the later stages of the fight.  It’s a short cast but on a regular timer, so it’s easy to anticipate.  If you keep your raid clumped behind the boss, a simple run-through to the other side is all that’s needed.  Don’t always assume it’s going to the majority of the raid.  Rotface may target the slime tank/kiter.  I’ve seen attempts almost wipe because people ran right into the spray without thinking.

Ooze Flood – [AVOIDABLE] The standard WoW rule of “Don’t stand in the crap on the ground!”  A lot of raiders claim to be taken by surprise, but I don’t buy it.  Not only do you get an audible warning from Petricide, but you see ooze spouting from the pipes before the flood appears.  At crucial moments of kiting or fleeing the ooze explosion, it’s not impossible to miss these entirely.

Radiating Ooze – [SEMI-AVOIDABLE] The only time anyone should be taking damage from this is the person merging an ooze with the big ooze and possibly the player kiting the ooze.  They’ll take damage from their own smaller ooze, which is less, and then momentarily from the big ooze.  I see too many people run INTO the ooze to try to get it to merge.  In actuality, you just need to get the ooze into the 10 yard radius of the big ooze for it to merge.  Even at that, it’s best to wait until your disease is gone to step into that area.  A near-full ooze will tick for a lot of damage, and a half-heal debuff is horrible to try to work through, let alone the tick from the disease itself.  It’s easy to die to this, even with a lot of healers on you.

Unstable Ooze Explosion – [AVOIDABLE] It’s simple.  It’s like the orbs in Void Reaver, except smaller.  Once the ooze explodes, and not before, you should start running away.  From personal experience, try not to be by the tank when it explodes.  If the tank is caught in about 4-5 of those projectile oozes, he or she is a goner.  Don’t run into ooze puddles, and don’t run near other oozes that are still growing.

—–

I highly recommend that you read and know each of the mechanics that I’ve explained above.  These debuffs and mechanics aren’t just for the healers to heal through but for every raider to avoid.  One or two of them together is manageable, but when you’re consistently not paying attention to the different intricacies of the fight, it just makes my soul hurt.

I know there’s a tendency to just want muscle through some of the fights, but on some of these Icecrown fights, it’s imperative to actually know what you’re being afflicted with.  Your little extra focus can get you through that last 30% that most guilds may be struggling with.

 

Your Winter Veil Gift, From Us

Winterveil

Winter Veil’s a’comin! The nights are closing in, the frost’s creeping over the tavern windows and yetis are Icehowl’ing in the snowy fields. It’s a magical time of year that we’d like to celebrate alongside you folks – what better time than to give you a gift? That gift is – a chat by the fireside with each of us. But we need your help to do it.

What we want from you is a topic of conversation. We want you to nominate a different topic to write on for each of us – that is, Matt, Wynthea, Lodur, Thespius and me, Mimetir (Syd is still AWOL being happy and busy, I believe). The topic can be anything at all you like – whatever you want that writer’s thoughts on. WoW related things are a good start for a WoW blog obviously, but as it’s Winter Veil – if you want us to write on something else, we might just do it.

You have until Monday 14th to reply to this article with your topic nominations for each writer. Of course we can’t write on every topic you guys nominate because if we try that we’ll miss Winter Veil ourselves! So once the five-day nomination time is over, Matt will make a list of the collected nominations for each WoM writer and make a secret santa roll to decide which topic we each write on. We’ll each then write an article on our individual topic, given by one of you, and post it up during the holidays.

Sound complicated? Sure, it does a bit. I’m a bird brain trying to explain something, been at the eggnog too much and all that. I’ll give you an example to clear things up.

  • Say six of you nominate different topics for Lodur to write on. That makes six potential topics for Lodur’s Winter Veil-time article
  • Matt takes a 1-6 list of those topics, ordered by when they chronologically appear in the comments on the article
  • He then does an independently adjudicated ‘Lodur roll (/roll 1-6)’ to decide which topic Lodur writes on (this does of course mean that RNG might decide it’s not your topic’s turn this year – but it might decide it is)
  • He does the same for the other four writers – me, Thespius, Wynthea and himself  – and announces the winning topics, along with details of when the articles will go up

Then you watch out over the holidays to read articles on the selection of topics you wanted to hear our deepest thoughts on. You then respond with what you think about your topic and our thoughts. Win.

So how about it? Help us give you something this Winter Veil. What do you want to talk about?

Seven Ways to Your Raid Leader’s Heart

Seven Ways to Your Raid Leader’s Heart

I was having a discussion with a fellow officer last night after our raid. We had just completed ToC 25, Ony 25 and VoA 25, with relatively few speed bumps. My friend and I were talking about what makes me happy from a leadership perspective in a raid. I decided to type out the list I came up with as what I look for from my raiders.

Sign up! – One of the biggest problems any raid leader or anyone who organizes a raid is knowing peoples availability. My guild is very raid oriented and we do have raid sign-up sheets as well as a section for people to post when they are out of town ahead of time so we know who is available and when. We also ask our raiders if they can’t show to sign up on the list as not available. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to track down people to make a raid happen. There has been many a time my guild leader has sent me a text asking where certain people are. The end result is both of us (more him than me due to my work schedule) scrambling to find people to fill gaps so that everyone else who signed up isn’t left in the cold without a raid.

Bring Consumables! – My guild supplies flasks, food and elixirs to raiders. We have officers and raiders that are potion and elixir specced so even if you don’t have access to the raider tab of the guild bank, you can get your consumables made. Often times us crafty types won’t even need all the mats, usually I just need the Frost Lotus and I can whip up a ton of flasks. We also have raiders who bring a ton of fish feasts so there’s always food buffs available as well. There’s very few things as frustrating durring a raid as waiting for people to buff up with flask and food or to hear someone didn’t bring any. If you need flasks, ask before the raid!

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Have Your Gear Ready! – Before showing up to a raid make sure you’re gear is properly enchanted and gemmed. If you have that shiny new piece of gear you want to wear to the raid that is fine and dandy, but make sure it’s ready to use! It’s incredibly frustrating to see a raider show up with empty sockets or no enchants. I know in my guild, we supply Abyss Crystal’s for guildies to use on enchants, and enchanters will supply the rest of the mats 9/10 times. JC’s are always available and we stagger patterns for the most part so there is always someone who can cut a gem that you will need.

Make sure your gear is repaired before starting the raid. One boss in it’s not fun to hear some one’s gear is in the red. Also make sure you’re using the right gear. Some people will fish or cook before the raid and sometimes forget to take off their fishing pole before heading off to the run (*cough*fishingpoleZabos*cough*) and then do part of the instance in the wrong gear.

Know The Fights! – Most raid leaders will have the information readily available and posted for you to view well before the raid begins. I make it a point to sticky all the boss strategies and videos at the top of the thread aptly named “Raider Forums”. With the Internet around and sites like bosskillers, tankspot and our own little space here at WoM there is a plethora of information available on most if not all fights in the game. At least have a general idea of what is going to happen, it makes our job a little easier when we’re explaining what we need you to do and it helps keep the pace of the raid up.

Don’t Ninja AFK! – Having players afk or ninja off of ventrillo without saying a peep to anyone is very annoying. Calling out for someone to do something over vent and get no response is not fun, nor is waiting for someone to get back from the afk before a pull. While I used ventrillo as an example, this holds true to raid chat, party chat. Basically just pay attention to communications. If you need an afk break just send a tell to the raid leader and say “afk 2 min” just let us know!

Mind Your Attitude! – This is a very social game. In a group or raid you are interacting with 4, 9 or 24 other people all with the goal of having fun in mind. We all understand that real life happens and things outside of your control will affect your mood, but when you’re in such a dour mood that you’re bringing everyone around you down or you’re spending more time kvetching rather than raiding, it might be time to take a break for the night. Getting snippy, pitching fits or the like is non conducive and counterproductive to a raid. You need to be able to check the baggage at the door and unwind and have fun for a little while with a group of people.

To quote Matt “Either leave it at the door or just leave”.

Don’t Stand in the Fire!!! – Since the dawn of raiding, players have been drawn to standing in the fire. It’s warm cozy effect lulls them into a sense of security and happiness. As a raid leader there is nothing more frustrating than watching someone stand in the fire / void zone / thunderstorm / aoe damage and just die instead of moving. It is the bane of all raid leaders! Yes sometimes things happen like lag or graphics bugs. But as I told one raider last night, if you don’t see a spell effect and your health is going down maybe move a couple feet to the left or right and see if it stops! Help us help you stay alive! Remember you can’t DPS if you’re dead!

Leading a raid is often times thankless and almost always a very frustrating job. We see to the happiness and well being of a multitude of people and try to make sure the raids happen in such a way that people are still having fun rather than feeling more worn down at the end of the night. We appreciate any help we can get in making things go smoothly. When your raiders come prepared and happy it makes things so much easier not only on the leaders, but the raid as a whole. My raiders do the things above and I can honestly say I love raiding with my guild because of it. It lets us goof off and have a good time enjoying the game together and less time worrying about making sure everyone is ready. Yes hiccups happen but for the most part they are all on the ball, and that makes me very happy.

What about you? What do you do to help make raids and groups easier?

P.S.

A total non sequitur here but like matt I too have my own projects I work on when I’m not writing for WoM. If I could I’d like to take a second to plug my latest project (Thanks matt for the go ahead to plug =D).

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know this but for those who don’t I’ve recently started co-hosting a podcast about gaming with two other “gentlemen”. Rodger / @wowdawgs from www.wowdawgs.com and Enrique / @spoonwolf from www.spooncraft.com. Our podcast is For The Lore and is available free for download from iTunes. Direct links can be found at Forthelore.com. Join us for all things surrounding story driven gaming. We stream live on mondays through ustream with pre show starting at 6:45pm est. We cover all games with a story there as well as our own works of fiction writing and game design. We do cover WoW but not exclusively!

That’s all I have for today. Until next time, Happy Healing!

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Image from druidheal.com