Why Resto Shaman Need a Defensive Cooldown, or Another Spirit Link Post

Why Resto Shaman Need a Defensive Cooldown, or Another Spirit Link Post

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve grown quite partial to the idea behind Spirit Link. I’ve talked about it recently wondering where it is. Before that I lamented its absence as the one that got away. Today I’d like to take a different approach to this enigma.

Tuesday I reported about the Cataclysm beta and how things looked so far. In that post I quoted the devs with their answers to many questions, including the state of Spirit Link. Their answer was not one I was all to keen on. Back on the 13th of July I appeared on the podcast Raid Warning with their Shaman Roundtable. I had the opportunity to talk with some amazing members of the shaman community and share ideas. While we were talking a fantastic point was made. Shaman are in need of an external cooldown.

Sure it seems like we have it all. Fame, power, sweet shoveltusk-ghost-shoulders, but the truth is we still have some holes in our healing arsenal that need to be addressed. Let me specify that a defensive cooldown is not an “OH SHIT!” ability like Nature’s Swiftness. I’m talking about cooldowns that are used in anticipation of something bad happening instead of reactionary (with a couple exceptions).

Let us compare to other healers.

Priests

Pain Suppression – Lets face it, this spell has come in handy on more boss fights than you would normally consider. Every 3 minutes Discipline priests can reduce the incoming damage on a target by 40% for 8 seconds. That is a large number, and while 8 seconds might not seem like a lot of time, 8 seconds can wind up being just enough to mitigate a boss mob’s large nasty spell or ability. If you Glyph it, you can even cast it while your stunned!  This is a great raid leading ( or heal leading) shot gun, and honestly has saved our rears quite a few times.

Guardian Spirit – Holy priests are not left without a big cooldown. Like pain suppression, this spell is on a 3 minute cooldown and increases healing received on the target by 40%. If the person dies while guardian spirit is active, the spirit will instead be consumed and the person will be healed immediately for 50% of their maximum health. It lasts for 10 seconds on the target and with the Glyph, if it lasts the entire 10 seconds without being consumed your cooldown gets reset to 1 minute. As a healing lead I love abusing this talent. It is a net, a nice cushion-esque net. You can set it on a tank and if you got OOM or have to move and cant push healing, it buys you time. Minimizing risk and compensation for “oops” is part of every raid leaders job, and cooldowns like this can help a ton.

Druids

Tranquility – 8 minute cooldown for a massive area of effect heal. There have been plenty of fights where this has come in handy, and rotations have been set up between multiple druids. Tranquility is another “buys you time” spell. It heals everyone around the druid for a sizeable chunk of health every 2 seconds for 8 seconds, but those 4 pulses of healing can spell defeat or victory as it allows you to help mitigate massive AoE damage and buys healers time to shift gears and compensate. It is often used when you expect massive amounts of raid wide damage.

Rebirth – This spell carries a 10 minute cooldown and a material component in order to cast it, but in this case the effect is greater than the cost by leaps and bounds. Rebirth brings a player who has died back to life with about 6k health and almost 5k mana. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot right? Well if you didn’t know, it is the only resurrection spell that can be cast while in combat. This is huge! Sometimes, things go bad and there is nothing you can do to stop it. A DPS ganks aggro and splats before you can heal them, but you need them alive in order to make the enrage timer. If you have a druid handy this is not an issue, they can bring that person back up and help complete the task at hand. If the druid is using the Glyph, it returns the target of the res with FULL health. This is an amazing cooldown to be able to call on in those particularly awful fights. While this one is a reactionary ability, I think it still fits in with the “defensive” cooldown abilities so I’ve made an exception and included it in the list.

Paladins

Hand of Sacrifice – 2 minute cooldown and it transfers 30% of the damage taken on the target to the paladin for 12 seconds or until the paladin takes damage equal to their total health. The paladin can still use their bubble while using hand of sac in order to mitigate the damage they are receiving and it can be very strategically used to bleed off normally lethal damage on the tank. Divine Sacrifice is an area affect version of this spell that redirects 30% of all damage within 30 yards to the paladin for a maximum of 40% of the paladin’s health times the number of party members.

Hand of Protection – 5 minute cooldown but it makes the target completely from physical attacks for 10 seconds. This can be a great way to drop physical debuffs or just to protect someone from getting 1-shot. This was very useful in Trial of the Crusader.

Shaman

I’m having a hard time thinking of anything I can consider a preemptive defensive cooldown. Hero-Lust is an offensive ability as is both of our elementals. Everything else we have that has a cooldown is reactionary (Nature’s Swiftness). I can’t count Reincarnation in this either as while it is nice to be able to resurrect yourself, finding the timing to do so with all the environmental effects and boss abilities are going off, as well as not being able to rez yourself at, you still only rez with a maximum of 40% of your health. With no buffs it is very easy just to splat again. In a large raid where there is a group of healers to pull abilities from this isn’t such a big thing. But when you start talking about smaller raids it is at that point it starts to become an issue.

Now with Cataclysm on the horizon a few things are happening that make this an issue that needs to be addressed. First of all, raid sizes will be smaller. Now I don’t mean blizzard is taking away 25 man raiding, but they are evening out gear distribution and content to be consistent from 10 man to 25 man. The only difference will be how much of the loot drops from 10 man compared to 25 man. My prediction is that this will cause a lot more 10 man raiding groups to pop up. While the game has come a long way from 40 man raids, organizing 25 man raids can be just as stressful.  The ability to gain the same gear from 10 mans that you do from 25 mans removes some of the incentive to actually run 25 man raids. The facts is, organizing 10 people is easier than 25.

Healing is being tuned to be quite a bit harder both on the healer themselves in terms of mana management but also for groups in terms of damage output. Having had first hand experience in the new 5 mans in cataclysm I can tell you healing has become much more difficult. There were several times where I wish I had something I could toss up on a group member so I could keep healing the tank without having to choose which of the two would die (and there were several instances in which someone WILL die), or a few occasions where a tank was getting pummeled hard and could have used something to either help mitigate the damage or use as a life line.

It is in these smaller groups (5 and 10 man content) that our distinct lack of an external cool down to help those around us mitigate damage or act as prevention really is highlighted. This means in smaller group compositions another healer type may wind up being preferable. Keep in mind that in current content external cooldowns have been used to help tanks and raids quite a bit. Examples include but are not limited to; Vezaxx with pain Suppression and Guradrian Spirit were big deals and on hard mode you almost had to have them available. Ormokk the Impailer was cake with a paladin with Hand of Prot and bubbles, and Tranquility owns the air phase on Blood Queen. These are just a few examples

The Fix

The first thing that comes to mind is that we honestly need an external cooldown. The concept of Spirit Link could very easily fill that gap. Now there is a concern that players would use it to kill other players and exactly how the mechanic would work, but there are a couple ways this could be balanced.

You can certainly make it analogous to Divine Sacrifice. Traditionally and lore wise, shaman have always been the protectors of their people both in health and physical defense. Calling upon the powerful spirits and ancestors to guide them, making offerings to produce better hunts or harvests. The idea of a AoE Spirit Link on a long cooldown could be quite nice.

Spirit Link: Instant cast 3 minute cooldown

The shaman calls upon the spirits of their ancestors to watch over their companions and help ease their burdens and suffering

30% of all damage taken by party members within 40 yards is redirected to the Shaman (up to a maximum of 50% of the Shaman’s health times the number of party members).  Damage which reduces the Shaman below 20% health will break the effect.  Lasts 15 sec.

I could see something like that couldn’t you? Could also be handy if say it could also be affected by Ancestral Resolve, we could get that much more out of it. It also stays true to the original thought and feeling behind the spell.

Maybe make it like a healing Misdiretion, where it will still be on a long cool down but maybe transfers a portion of the damage off of x number of swings or impose a time limit. maybe something like:

Spirit Link: Instant cast 3-5 minute cooldown

The current party or raid member targeted will receive 30% of the damage dealt to a secondary target for the next 10 seconds. Any effect that reduces the targets health below 50% will cancel the effect.

These aren’t perfect but it is an idea at least. It really is the only tool we are missing. A long defensive cooldown. The other classes all have their cookies and flavors for this, and with groups potentially thinning down, and with healing being changed as it is, it is personally something I think the class needs. Just… call it Spirit Link to humor me is all I ask! Once we have that I think our healing tool-set will be complete, and then we will truly be princes of the universe! (bet you were wondering why I linked a Queen song up at the top ;])

So what do you think? Do you think shaman need that defensive cooldown? What would you make it? would you change any of our spells to fill the gap?

That is it for this week folks. Happy Healing!

When a Raid Member is Not a Team Member

When a Raid Member is Not a Team Member

Quick summary: When the announcement was made that 10mans and 25mans would be on the same loot system, I cheered. All things considered, I just enjoy the feeling of 10mans more. More responsibility on each member, the boss fights can be less forgiving.  Because of work reasons, I had to take a break from Unpossible, Lodur’s guild.  As much as it pained me to lower myself to the bench, it needed to be done.

In that time, I’ve been pieceing together a 10man team that will be Cataclysm ready. Starting with a core group of players that I’ve been gaming with since Pre-BC, it’s starting to flourish. And now, the tale begins…

First Incident

We’re keeping it simple. As our guild name implies, this is a Team Sport. Everyone plays a role. Those of us that are “raid leading” are putting forward the effort to bring these people together. We’re not the “you need #### gear score” or the “link acheivement” type. As I’ve posted before, it’s more about the people than the gear/class/loot. I’ve downed Arthas on 10man normal with Unpossible, but killing Putricide with my friends gave me an even bigger rush.  It may sound crazy, but it’s true.

We’ve been doing what we can to accomodate schedules. We’ve found that Tuesdays and Thursdays yield the most guildies. So, I put up the signups on the calendar. People click Accepted/Declined/Tentative. If they click Tentative, all I ask is that they contact me when they know ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. They all have my email, as well as my cell phone number. This leads me to “Kevin” (not his real name).

The first time Kevin signs up for raid, he lists himself as Tentative. After being a random no-show, the next time I see him, I simply say, “Hey Kevin, sorry we missed ya Tuesday. If you sign up as Tentative, would you mind shootin’ me a text when you know if you can or can’t make it?”  He replied, “Dude, that’s why I signed up Tentative.”  “I know,” I respond, “but I just need to know if we’re waiting for you or moving on.”  “Oh yeah, sure.  Sorry man,” was his final quote.

Second Incident

Kevin signs up for the next night as Tentative. Totally cool. Obviously, real life takes precedence over WoW, and it should. Time ticks down to the first pull of the raid night. No text from Kevin. No email. No in-game mail. His status still listed as Tentative.  So, I text him. His girlfriend has been sick, and he’s taking care of her. “Oh, sorry to hear that. Awesome you’re taking care of her. If you could just shoot me a text if you know you’re not gonna make it, that would help out a lot.”

His reply: “Yeah of course, no problem.”

Third Incident

This time, Kevin signs up as Declined. He sends me a whisper, “Hey, I’m signing up as Declined because I’m not sure I can make it or not.” I say, “Cool, we’ll count you out for the night. If that changes and you can come, just text me and we’ll see what we can work out.” “Yeah cool!” is all he says.

Raid starts a little late because our MT got bogged down with work and needed time to do it. We grab a couple new Applicants to the guild, a few of our usual non-guild friends we raid with, and we set off into ICC to at least get through the first wing.

Approximately 3 hours after the raid was scheduled to start, Kevin signs on.  “Hey guys, how goes ICC?” “Pretty awesome, actually. We just started,” I answer.  Raid continues, we only get through Saurfang with the 45 minutes we had before we started losing people to family, work, sleep, etc.

Face-off

After the raid is over, I get a whisper from Kevin. Here’s essentially the conversation:

Kevin: “Hey man, whatever happened to Team Sport?”

Me: “Not sure what you’re getting at.”

Kevin: “You had 3 Applicants and 2 PuGs in there. What happened to full members getting priority?”

Me: “Well, you signed up as Declined, and didn’t let us know you were coming.”

Kevin: “The Team Sport I know would boot one of the Applicants or PuGs to get a full member in there.”

Me: “Actually, that’s not the way it’s been. If you would’ve given advance notice you were coming, maybe we could’ve work ed something out. I’ve made myself available for you numerous times to get in touch with, and you haven’t taken advantage of it once. Just because you wear the tag is no guarantee, Kevin.”

Kevin: “Whatever dude, I’m out”

**Kevin leaves the guild.

You get the point. I was also called selfish, and accused of not caring about the Team. In actuality, it’s because of this team that we’re trying to make it work. The core of us could go anywhere to raid. We could join random guilds just so we could see and conquer the endgame content, but it’s not how we want to do it. Building and filling out this group is vastly more important to us. If other guild members are up to the task, awesome. If not, no big deal, there are other options to explore.

There’s only so much reaching out we can do.  We can’t do much for people that don’t reach back.

TL;DR – Raid Leading is hard.

**If you’re interested in possibly becoming a part of this team, email me at the link provided below. We’re building a small 10man group of talented and friendly team players. Particularly looking for dps with off-specs in healing/tanking. Even if you don’t fit that bill but are still interested, email me all the same**

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Introducing A New Site For Your Reading Pleasure…

Introducing A New Site For Your Reading Pleasure…

Melting Pot

I mentioned yesterday that I’d be posting some happy MMO news. I said it’s all hush hush – you know – toodle pip wot-wot, under your hat old chap. …Yep,I know you’re all looking at me a bit oddly now. Anyway, the news has been a tightly kept secret all right – until now.

A few months ago I put out a call asking you folks to lend me your brains. Thanks to everyone who responded! Since then I’ve been beavering away on designing a website. Originally it was going to be a purely WoW based blog doin’ things my way; then the idea grew. It grew to include a wide range of MMOs, and have a community side too.

A couple of weeks ago it split into two projects and the primary site morphed into something different again. Doh. Flexibility for the win.

The Melting Pot is a manual aggregation site for MMO blogs. We actively look for interesting, witty or intelligent opinion-based articles from around the blogosphere – currently from mostly WoW blogs. We then link what we find to let you guys know they’re there. We also give some thoughts of our own to get the discussion started, ‘cos hey – we’re bloggers too, and find these discussions genuinely interesting.

Now, it’s still a lil’ site and adapting daily but it’s ready for general perusal. So without further ado as its Editor in Chief I’d like to invite you to have a gander at MMO Melting Pot.

Feel free to add its feeds to your RSS filters – we’ll be posting daily, from a ever wider selection of sites and games. Prod the shiny comments system with your own opinions – it won’t eat your children. Tip us off about interesting articles you’ve stumbled upon – we’re open to suggestions. And, when you least expect it, community bits n’ bobs might shuffle onto the menu bar too.

So. Drop in, say hi, grab a cup of coffee from the Pot – you might not know what’s in it, but it’s good stuff, mon.

Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

*update* Real ID is canceled on official forums Blizzard most definitely listened, and it’s a good thing!

So, Vaneras over on the EU forums just informed us that Real ID will be making an appearance on the forums. Needless to say there is a slew of comments slinging around about this. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some say it will be the new life of the forums while others think that this marks their imminent death. So I thought it would be good to talk about it a little bit here.

First off, lets talk about the current state of the forums. There are some good threads there. There are some helpful guides and bits of information. But for each helpful bit there is a counterpart. People that just show up to cause issues, scream drama and pick Internet fights. I know a lot of people personally who avoid the forums just to avoid those specific people. This is a sad thing though, as the forums are set up to help build the community and not to be a source of drama or argument. On a personal level I hate having to weed through 15,000 posts of people complaining to get to the 1 that has a valid point in a discussion. This is obviously an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Let’s face it, the Internet is a place where people can hide behind a fake name and say and do whatever they want with little to no recourse. This can be simple complaining out outright just being an ass-hat.  This Internet anonymity is what Blizzard is trying to take away I think. How many times have they posted a proposed class change only to have intelligent well thought out responses from posters get drowned out by the wailing masses? How many times has a person asked for advices on gear or spec or spell priority only to be called a noob for pages on end? It happens, trust me I know.  So I can see what Blizzard is trying to do here, by eliminating the ability to hide behind a character name, that person is held accountable for what they said or do.

Quick story here. I know a guy who in real life is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Intelligent, well spoken and would give you the shirt off his back. When he logs into game or on the forums however, he does a complete 180. He yells at people, argues incessantly, turns into a complete womanizing bigot and has a completely abrasive personality. This sounds extreme but it is a lot more common than you think. When you don’t have to be held accountable in real life for your actions, the rules change. The Blizzard forums have been plagued by this from day 1.

By adding this level of accountability Blizzard I’m sure is hoping to cut down on the forum slop by discouraging the trolls from posting, and making people think twice about just posting empty whining.

There is however another side to this coin. There are a ton of people who try very hard to separate their real life from their game life. They post helpful guides to trade-skills, or how to level efficiently on the forums for general reading. They offer insight to class changes and constructive criticism when people ask for help. This group of people also has something to lose by this change going live, as does the community in general if they stop posting. Some people like the anonymity of their toons as a way to just separate their lives into distinct parts. If they stop posting because of this change, that will be very sad indeed.

Some are concerned for their safety. They fear stalkers and real life harassment and fallout from the forums following them into real life. As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim. A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township. Your internet providers work very hard to keep that information private as do most websites, banks etc. It is in Blizzards best intrest as well to keep this information private, and so far they have done a pretty good job of it. Unless you have a one of a kind name and are publicly listed in an international phone book or public websites with your pertinent information, the chances aren’t too great that your name will give up enough information about you to harass you outside of your online personae.  I understand the concern there,  it is a valid reason for being against the change. But it can be rather difficult to find someone .

Another argument is that this goes against the originally stated purpose of Real ID. It was toted as an optional, convenient way to keep track of your friends across servers and even games. Some people feel that being forced to use it to interact on the forums violates this and removes the “optional” portion of the feature. This is a valid argument as there is no way to circumvent this at current.

There are also those of us that this has absolutely zero effect on. Those of us that already live in the public eye and have our names out there will see no change in how we do business essentially. Me personally, doesn’t phase me one bit. My name is out there from the For the Lore podcast and WoW.com. Having my real name show up on the forums isn’t a big deal at this point. I also have the good fortune to have a name that is not exactly unique. Joseph Perez is the Steve Smith of Hispanic names. Try looking it up in the phone book sometimes, it is rather hilarious.

Here are some facts to remember about this

This will only affect the new forums created when SC2 and Cataclysm launch. Old forums and old posts will remain untouched (for now, hopefully this won’t become retroactive)

Blue Posters are not immune to this, and will also be showing their real first and last names

Having your name does not compromise your account security. Email, password (and hopefully you’re using an authenticator) are what let people in. Even if you call Blizzard customer support and say you are “so and so” you have to provide a LOT of proof of identity.

So what do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Will it be a new beginning for the Blizzard forums or will it mark its death?

UPDATE

Let me clarify something real fast. While the change doesn’t affect me personally I still do NOT like it. I understand what they are trying to do with it, but I don’t think it was thought out enough. On facebook I can go silent, I can turn off chat and no one has to know I’m on. I can hide details like my email, phone number and location, and if I so choose I can change my name on the account. Here we don’t have the option. I do NOT like the idea that choice is being taken away from the gamers. We choose to play this game and who to interact with. Why do we not have a choice in this? I think that the overwhelming response people are having to this is a good thing and hopefully Blizzard will see it and make some changes. But again, I am NOT for this change, but I don’t think it needs to be attacked with nukes instead of calm rational discussion. It is a lot easier for people (i.e. Blizzard) to dismiss an over the top emotional response to this (which don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly valid response from us as users to be passionate about this change) as opposed to when people calmly lay down why they don’t agree with it. That’s all.

Lodur on “Totem Recall”

Lodur on “Totem Recall”

In case you haven’t heard yet, there is a Shaman Round Table on the horizon. On July 13th the folks over at Raid Warning will be hosting the latest in their series of round table discussions. You may also remember that back in February Thespius and Matticus were featured on Power Word: Fail the priest round table. I am very happy to inform you all that I have been asked to join in on this installment of their series Totem Recall.

The previous class discussions have been great successes and if you want to listen follow the link above.

I’m really looking forward to this. There is a great lineup and there is sure to be a fantastic series of topics for discussion. I can’t wait!

Want to be involved? Submit your questions for Totem Recall on Raid Warning’s Epic Advice thread and vote for your favorites to be answered on the show!

Here’s the line up for this round table

Joe “Lodur” Perez of  WoW.com and World of Matticus
Rich “Stoneybaby” Maloy of WoW.com and Big Crits
Borsk of Borsked
Jhaman of Castaclysm
Pewter of MentalShaman
Binkenstein of Elitist Jerks
Masanbol of Elitist Jerks

Make sure to swing on by and give it a listen. Should be a great time!

Image courtesy of Raid Warning

Lodur’s Week In Review

Lodur’s Week In Review

A couple weeks ago we heard that AVR/AVRE has an expiration date. Simply put the addon just did too much by allowing a player to draw essentially in 3D on top of the in game environment. This really drove home how much players respond to visual cues. However not everyone is a visual based player. How about those that rely on sound for their notifications?

I started thinking about this last week. I have been using Deus Vox Encounters as my boss mod of choice for a little bit and have grown pretty accustomed to it. Last week though, new requirements for a particular fight called for BigWigs to be installed over any other boss mod. I’ll get into the why of that in just a second. Making this switch really clued me in to how much I actually draw from audio cues. As a healer, and a raid officer, my attention is always in a thousand different directions at once. My own healing, watching where I’m standing and paying attention to the boss fights, but also watching all my healers and the other raider to make sure people are doing what they are doing. Even with screen flashes, and emphasized bars / buttons etc, I can miss things. Well let me be honest here, I WILL miss things. You can only divide your attention so much before it is spread too thin. DXE allowed for custom sounds for all major and most minor events, allowing me to play a different sound for an incoming Infest or a Pending Defile. This way I wouldn’t have to look for an alert, but rather just listen for a sound. I play with most of the in game sounds turned pretty low unless a specific encounter calls for something different, so it made it easy to add another layer of my awareness to playing.

Enter BigWigs. BigWigs has been a pretty common standard among raiders for a while now. The mod is pretty robust and allows you a lot of different choices in your notifications. The reason it became standard for raider was how it alerts you to defile. If you enable a mode called super enhanced, it will actually have a voice counting down the time to cast audibly. Some folks were having trouble with defile and moving away from it, so BigWigs enhanced mode was the answer, and to be honest I do really like that part of it.

This leaves me with two boss mods installed. I tried running this entire last week with only BigWigs and I just can’t do it. I tried, but all it did was make me realize how much I rely on those audio cues to keep my own rear alive while watching everyone else.  It does not have the same depth in the library of sounds that DXE does. Where I could literally have dozens of sounds in DXE, there is only a limited number in BigWigs. I tried adding new sounds by modifying the .lua files as well, but found that to be nigh impossible with BW, but it was something I’ve been able to do with DXE. So, for every encounter BUT LK, I use DXE. For LK I swap BigWigs on. Now if only DXE could do me a super enhanced countdown mode I’d be super super happy.

I’m sure you’re wondering what today’s post image has to do with my post.  This last week I realized exactly how much I love having a ret paladin and a boomkin in raid. I am a haste junkie, there is no denying it. I love the stat and its ability to give me 1.5 second (or lower) cast time chain heals. If you were to roll my character’s sleeves up, it is likely that you would find the tell-tale signs of haste abuse. Before we would rarely have one, and more commonly neither, but recently it has become much more common place to have both in our groups. Improved Moonkin Form gives all players in range of the aura 3% haste as does Swift Retribution these stack as a multiplicative effect with Wrath of Air Totem. With my current haste total, either of these combined with the totem pushes me to the haste cap, and let me tell you it is addicting. The added bonus for me is that our fairly recent new hire and boomkin Friskme is one heck of a guy. Good sense of humor, good numbers, knows how to handle himself in a fight, and as of recent has become my corner buddy on BQL and the sparkle council. We’ve gotten used to each others movements during the encounters and know exactly how to shift around each other without vocalizing. Also, he’s damn fast on the innervate button when I need it, and that makes me happy. I’ve always enjoyed the company of the druids in <Unpossible>, and Frisk fits right in.

Last but not least, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I have had a wonderful idea for a new project that a lot of people seem to be behind. Come Cataclysm I’m starting a fun guild up as a side project. No, I’m not leaving Unpossible, that will always be my home. Instead the guild I want to make will be more fun and casual with a slight character quirk. I’ll get more into it at a later date, but for now I need your input. There have been several choices as to where to start this little party, and so far there are 4 major contenders.

What Server Should the Guild be Started on?

  • Other (44%, 8 Votes)
  • Earthen Ring (33%, 6 Votes)
  • Nerzhul (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Feathermoon (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Zul'jin (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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So if you think I should start it up on one of those please feel free to vote on it. If you think I should start it on a different server, vote for other and let me know what realm and why in the comments.

Well that’s it for this past week, how about you? Do anything fun? Find out anything interesting?

Special thanks to @immamoonkin for this week’s article image. Thank you!

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

Last week I Herded Cats.

Well, all right, not really cats. I’m not a crazy cat lady and my guild members aren’t felines with string addictions. But our annual guild meet up – or Herd Moot as we call it – finished last week. But what does this mean to you?

I know a lot of guilds meet up. I know some would like to and aren’t sure where to begin. I figured I might share a few pointers with you in case it’s something you might ever consider organising with your guild, whatever game you play. Pointers you wouldn’t necessarily think of immediately, and which I’ve learnt both during this Moot and through organising similar knees-up in the past.

It really is worth it. More’s the point, it really isn’t impossible.

We had folks travel from other parts of the UK, and from Finland and Norway. I deduce from the fact that everyone said they didn’t want to leave and some have made a point of saying they’re now actively looking to move here that everyone had a good time. Heck, we’re vaguely considering through the post-Moot recovery haze that we might organise another Moot for later in the year.

So, a few things to keep in mind for you as an organiser – or you as a participant supporting your organiser – to help your own Moot go smoothly.

1. Flexible plans. You’ll select precise times/dates. Be prepared for participants to either choose to travel on slightly different times/days which best suit themselves and their finances, or simply get it wrong, without checking with you first. For example, I organised our Moot for Friday-Monday; it ended up being Thursday-Wednesday due to peoples’ flights. You don’t need to stress if this happens, or worry if you have obligations like work on ‘extra’ days – the group can look after itself for a bit! Stay on top of travel details and keep in mind how many of the group are around at any one time.

2. Intensity. Think about how important it is that your group spends all of the meet together. Think about how long your meet is; if it’s quite short – 24 hours – you might well spend the whole day together as a group. if the meet is a few days then it’s likely to be part-meet part-holiday for anyone who’s travelled. Leaving them some time to themselves over the few days for exploring a new place on holiday might be just what both them and you need!

3. Health. Always ask anyone you’re ‘overseeing’ if they have medical conditions you should be aware of. Reassure them that you won’t make a big deal of it and it’s for your reference in case anything goes wrong or they fall ill. It’s highly likely everyone will have niggling little issues that they won’t think it worth telling you about when you ask, but which will probably come out during your meet when they suddenly remember their bad knee doesn’t like the long walk the group’s halfway through. Give them plenty of opportunity to think of telling you anything pertinent; if you’re planning a walk, tell them in advance, and how far, and if there are options to stop halfway through. For ‘active’ pursuits it’s also useful to have an idea of your group’s general (and lowest) fitness level. We found that half our group weren’t as up for long, pretty walks as others were.

Also, get basic health supplies in. I believe a first aid kit is vital if hopefully unnecessary, and last week found me handing out painkillers to various Cats for migraines to hangovers to general aches.

4. Finances. Your group will probably reflect a range of financial situations. Try to get an idea of the range of your group’s finances early on by talking to individuals quietly and in confidence. Then plan a spread of activities accordingly. Remember that money is a sensitive thing for everyone, whatever their position – don’t blather publicly about who can afford which activities. if necessary plan a couple of options for any one time that differ financially; people can decide for themselves which they want to do.

5. Gaming. You do want to spend some time together playing the game you all have in common – it’s great fun to all be in the same physical space playing it. Even so, strike a balance between ‘real life’ activities which don’t involve WoW/whatever MMO you play, and playing the MMO. For us, that balance was one main evening session and a smaller, less organised session, over 6 days.

6. Booking responsibility. Everyone participating is responsible for booking something. For you that’s ensuring there are arrangements for a place to game. That might be a LAN in someone’s residence, which requires cables and technical equipment, or booking an internet cafe or hotel conference room.

Any participants travelling to the meet need to take responsibility for their own travel and accommodation; unless they really really want to give you their credit card details (big nono for so many reasons). The only help you should give them is to encourage them to book early and have either yourself or someone with knowledge of the area research/suggest some affordable accommodation options and travel sites. Bear in mind some people may not have travelled much and may need more help organising themselves than others.

7. Communication. As the organiser you need to be approachable. Maintain a dialogue with participants in the run-up to the meet. Less intrusive/immediate forms of contact like Facebook are ideal as it gives others the opportunity to reply in their own time, and you the ability to chase them up if they take too long to keep you posted. IM services such as Skype or MSN also work well, particularly the closer the meet is, and particularly if you are having to chase particular individuals for details.

On a more specific note, if your group doesn’t often use voice software while gaming and you have people coming from other countries, they may be worried about speaking English (or whatever language). One of our guild members was particularly worried about his spoken English; we reassured him as much as possible and I also offered to talk to him on a voice skype chat before the Moot as a ‘practice’/’soft’ speaking run before he got here.

8. Recognition. You’re all about to do something scary: go out of your way to Meet Faceless People Off The Internet. Most people in your group will be nervous to some degree. You should share your details with participants to help them see you’re not a betentacled monster and so that you can stay abreast of travel details on the first day. Mobile/cell phone number exchange is crucial, as is a picture of yourself.  Hopefully by setting this good example you’ll inspire them to share theirs back with you.

9. Visibility. Buy sticky labels. Have everyone wear one with their character name and real name for the first day or two. Sounds geeky, right? Mayhap, but it’s also practical and puts folks at ease with remembering real names and using them. You could commission individual t-shirts or hats displaying names and character information or pictures too, if you really want to push the boat out and add a memorable touch given that labels are easily lost and not much of a fashion accessory,

10. Age range. Some guilds have people of a range of ages playing. Be aware of the youngest and oldest ages you have. You may need to generally think round activities that all age groups can enjoy. On a more specific note – don’t make alcohol a part of your meet if you have folks under the legal drinking age (doh!). If you have really young folks, keep a general eye on them. This all may not be a problem for you; it wasn’t for us as we’re one of many guilds of a similar age range. But it’s easy for age differences to slip your mind when you’ve known people online for so long without actually ‘seeing’ them.

 

I hope some of that is useful to you and your guildies. It might look like a lot of work or a scary concept when laid out in practical tidbits but fear ye not. Guild meets can be really special events creating long-lasting memories and deeper relationships. Particularly if you keep an open mind for practical details!

What about you – are you considering doing something as crazy as this? If so, do you have any questions/worries? Have you organised meets, and have tidbits to add or any stories to share? Or do you think the idea of meeting up with the pixels you adventure is weird and wrong?

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

Herding Kingslayers

Herding Kingslayers

HerdingKingslayers

I regret to announce that my planned post for today has to be put back to a later date.

Why?

Herding Cats and friends downed Lich King 10 last night. OK, the post title was a bit of a giveaway.

Excuse me a second.

w0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000t!

 

I’m really happy. And really proud of my group. And really excited that we got it. And really, that’s a lot of reallys. Why? Well, any guild leader or raid leader is proud when their group achieves what they set out to do. But I’m particularly fond of my group and I hope you don’t mind me rambling like a proud parent today but it’s true: we’re not your Usual Suspects, and it goes to prove that you can achieve it no matter your setup.

For one thing we’re a casual guild. We only raid one to two nights a week – Sunday and every other Wednesday.

We’re also not a full ‘guild’ – Herding Cats started off raiding as a real life 5 man of friends filling the spots with PUGs. We went hunting for friendly and mature instead of imbah skilled players. We ended up with a network of people to work with – and a core 10 which melded together as a single unit. Herding Cats became Herding Cats and Friends.

We’ve never all been on voice comms. Some of us play in the same room, adding one or two over skype. The rset of the communication has been achieved through everyone working towards clear text communication.

And, like any raiding group, we’ve had our share of drama. We all found it stressful at points, there were clashes and strains. Heck, it was just two weeks ago while we were learning the Lich King fight that one of our Herd Friends suddenly dropped news that he was going to another guild.

Through all that – we achieved – and I’m proud of us. The line up:

Ulram (bear tank) – managed to overcome finding tanking really stressful to do a perfect job with crazy amounts going on – including finding the time to do extra hybrid crazystuff. Also came up with some cunning tactics including the last piece of the puzzle which got us through Vile Spirits to victory. Can put more varied inflections into the word “arse” than anyone else we know.

Ekatrina (paladin tank) – and dedicated co-raid leader. Took to tanking like a foodie to the Fat Duck. Never made the same mistake twice; often didn’t make the same mistake once. Always knew where the fack to stand and tough enough to calmly eat Soul Reapers for breakfast in strict 10 man gear. Came up with the very practical (and immensely satisfying) idea of making us practice the Defile Dance with Tirion Fordring playing the role of Arthas.

Pitil (discy priest) –  started out a tad unconfident months ago: ended up as the healer performing the most complex and versatile role in LK fight – and professionally so. Also, our raid’s provisioner of cupcakes/vital provisions.

Gorgakh (resto shaman) – rock solid. Always totally reliable and consummately calm, which in healers are nigh-godlike qualities. Even when he had a kitten attacking his foot.

Thrakha (Fury warrior) – example of what someone *can* do if they really work to be the best. And inspired that in others too, keeping the tanks sharp ;) Currently to the best of my knowledge raiding with three different guilds at once, with corresponding numbers of fish feasts.

Urkra (Unholy DK) – went from being very unconfident as a wow player to topping our DPS meters and rarely making mistakes and keeping an open mind on play improvement and new tactics. Achieved all that on a non-official Hardmode: completing half of the bosses unable to talk on skype due to playing in the same room as his wife watching X-Factor.

Nergalian (enhancement shaman) – Sharpest reactions of everyone despite a slightly different style of playing – and despite the kitten Conan, slayer of raids. Her bouncy multi-cultural pop music and fish feasts also kept us all going up on the Throne.

Karkass (destro lock)always cheerful and positive, which is a raid-saver at times. Also, always willing to be flexible on filling different roles, which in turn helped keep us all sane. Karkass’ brainwave of teleporting back from the Valkyr was also something of a lifesaver. Overall: Karkass the Lifesaver.

Simbaria (survival hunter) – having missed most of ICC, he joined us at the last minute and picked the LK tactics up immediately and flawlessly. Impressive.

(Ahem, I’ve been instructed to put this in by Kat):
Mimetir, aka Apeorsa, figured out every fight mechanic first time, bent the needle on the healing meter, pushed through raidleading challenges from a vanishing raid member to general stress levels, and NEVER STOOD IN DEFILE. Seriously, not once.

So what now? A break from raid leading – just a couple of weeks to chill. Then in a couple of weeks we’re all meeting up for a Herd Moot/guild meet, and we’ll look to our next goal then, probably with the help of copious amounts of ale.

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

A New Day

Some quick updates are in order.

Me

I got a new job. Shouldn’t affect my bloggingness on here or on WoW.com. It’s to do with motorcycles! Nervous? Just a little.

My blog

There are some things I want to hash our further on the blog. It’s hard for me to find things that I want to reference. Solution? Set up dedicated pages for tips on each class which link within the blog. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I just have to make time for it.

My characters

The bright side is that I scored 4 piece for all my toons so I don’t have to run the daily heroic as much anymore. This’ll free up more time for me to work on other stuff (or at least, regain it).

In the beginning of the year, I took a quick break from the game by playing Mass Effect 2 heavily. I’d only show up for raids. I wanted to vary up the routine a bit to mitigate and reduce burnout as well as fatigue. After that, I took a heavy interest in running a few of the hard modes in Ulduar with several guildies who wanted a shot at it. Even with full regalia, some of the encounters still posed a challenge from a technical execution stand point.

My guild

Rolling 2 full lines on 10 man is an incredible chore. The lineup on day 1 may not be the same as the lineup on day 2. One of the groups was able to score a Marrowgar hard mode kill. We actually wiped on gunship once because I underestimated how hard those axethrowers would actually throw. Tonight it’s back to work on Sindragosa on 25. We had two heartbreaking wipes at 9k health and 22k health remaining respectively. It’s all about consistency and we’re not hitting it right now. I’m still looking for more ranged DPS and healers to challenge for top spots (or alternatively, as long term prospects when Cataclysm comes out).

Out of curiosity, do you remember what your first day at your job was like? Any good stories?

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend”, at least that’s what Aristotle says. I think he was on to something there. You can have an entire army facing you ready to run you through, but if you have one friend by your side you may just have the chance to win. Before when I started EVE Online and Lord of the Rings Online, it was hard to get into the game because my friends either couldn’t play the same time as me or were vastly higher level than I was. It made the games much less fun at the time than it was to play with a friends.

MMOs force you to get to know some one’s personality before anything else, this is especially true when you’re grouped up in guilds or clans. This is vastly different than what our human nature normally allows. As people our nature is to find others like us physically first, then discern intelligence and mentality. Video games have made it so we get to know the person’s personality before anything else. As a result, friendships you make through the game can create a stronger bond than even you may realize.

I’m sure you’re asking why all of a sudden is Joe going on about friendships and want-not. Couple nights ago my guild was working on Lich King (25) and we were coming back from a break when we got on a tangent because an old friend of many of the long time people in the guild expressed interest in not only coming back to the game, but finding a home on our server. We started talking about all the “old timers” we used to hang out with and it came up that someone I used to farm honor with late night that I hadn’t heard from in a very long time, passed away. I had no idea and that really bothered me. I mean this a person that I used to stay up all hours of the night shooting the shit, while shooting the horde. I remember being dog tired after a particularly long day at work and being JUST below my requirement for Knight rank in the old PvP system. This person was part of the group that convinced me to just queue with them and then let them do the work while I napped. Just so I could make sure I got the points before the next day’s calculations to get my rank. This person was also part of the group that when me and my girlfriend at the time split for good, decided it was city raid time to try and break me out of the slump I had fallen into. All the while joking and cajoling me trying to get me to laugh. Say whatever you will, these were good people.

The news of the death was a bit sobering sure, but it made me think of the other people I’ve made friends with through this game and how much their friendships impact my life. One of my best friends was found through the game. I’ve talked about it before but it’s still a good story. Back in BC we got an influx of new recruits, one of which was a smart-ass warlock. We always joked in game and always got along. One raid night I offhandedly mentioned having gone to a local coffee house before the raid. Erommon perked up on vent and started asking questions. Soon as the raid was over we met up, went to Deny’s and just hung out to the course of another 3 hours or so just talking. Needless to say he has become one of my best friends.

Another one of my best friends I met as a result of WoW. I had just been hired for my current job and we were on a break from training. I logged into my guild’s website to check raid sign-ups and my friend Dan happened to see it was a WoW website. We started talking and quickly found out we had much in common outside of the game. We became fast friends and now he is currently the person I’m working with for the 2D video game I’ve been working on.

I try to make myself accessible to guildies, but there are some I talk to more than others just out of shared likes and dislikes and play times. I’ve had guildies call me with real life problems at very odd hours just to vent and seek advice like they would from any long term real world friend. I’ve had guildies call me to make sure I was OK with things going on in my life outside of the game.

Even through the community there is this amazing bond that can be shared. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made through blogging and the community that surrounds it. If not for that community I never would have met my girlfriend or been introduced to such amazing people as I have been. Hell I’ve talked about Thespius from this site before, we hit it off right away when he joined my guild and through game time, this site and just chatting in general I’m happy to call him my friend, and would share a frosty pint with him any day.

Sometimes it amazes me and I have to sit back and take stock of it all. Today is one of those days. I mean how long ago was it that gamers were shunned covens of outcasts? Now gaming is it’s own social media giant that is allowing us to make some great contacts and meet people we normally wouldn’t have thought to talk to or get to know. Look back and think about all the friends you’ve made in the game or through the community. Do you consider them actual friends? Any stories to share?