Staggered Raiding with Swagger

Cool, it looks like not every raid is going to be available immediately after the game release. I’m cool with that and I know others are, too. It took me less than half a week to level to from 80 to 85 and I predict it’s going to take me around the same time to go from 85 to 90. That should be enough time to hit cap and hit up scenarios along with dungeons for whatever points and gear needed. There’s still that minimum item level needed to queue for LFR.

My personal goal is to at least hit that mark before raids open.

How Blizzard used to slow content consumption down in the past

  • Really hard raid encounters that were near-mathematically or skillfully impossible without exploits (Vanilla)
  • Attunements (early Burning Crusade)
  • Gradually releasing bosses (Wrath, ICC)
  • Limited attempts (Wrath, ToC)

Now there’s no gimmicks or tricks. It’s just a straight-up “We’re not releasing this completed instance to you yet”.

There’s still a remarkable amount of players that are rather “upset” about the whole staggered and delayed raiding thing (if recent blog feedback’s an accurate indicator).

I’m going to use an analogy.

Let’s use swimming.

What if the race started before swimmers even reached the pool? Phelps and Lochte would have to race each other to change into their speedos, get their goggles attached, and put on their caps before sprinting and diving in the pool and racing their medley.

But now all the swimmers start at the line at the exact same time. Their speed and performance can actually be gauged by their abilities in the pool as opposed to how fast they can get ready.

If you think about it though, there’s going to be two races going on: First to hit level cap and the first to raid kills/clears. One shouldn’t impact the other.

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

Derevka: The biggest change in Mists is how we look at mana

I jumped on an opportunity to speak with Derevka about the upcoming expansion and his thoughts on the priest class in general. We chatted about the state of both healing specs, raiding encounters in Mists, and spell usage.  Keep on reading for the full interview.

Matt: Hey Derevka, it’s been a while. You’ve recently picked up activity again on your blog, Tales of a Priest after taking a brief reprieve earlier in the year. You’ve especially been hard at work lobbying for some priest changes like Chakra and have put in some research on the mana regen talents.  So what do you think is the biggest change for priests leaping from Cataclysm to Mists, in your opinion?

Derevka: Tricky question, since I’d argue that Priests were affected least by the onslaught of changes that came in MOP— at least from a class mechanic standpoint. For the most part our healing strategy will be ‘more of the same’. Perhaps the biggest change in Mists will be how we look at mana. First and foremost we need to realize that once we hit 90, we will not be getting any more mana. 300,000 is our pool. Period.

Mana pools, since they do not scale, will be something we need to really keep an eye on. For example, Greater Heal in quest greens costs the same amount of mana that it does in full epic T14. The only thing that will scale is our ability to regen mana via spirit. We will need to balance spirit and know when we have too much or too little. Mana is a zero-sum game.

Purely spamming Prayer of Healing will quickly have you running out of mana; we’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents. It could be a steep learning curve for some who are too used to the Dragon Soul era of mana and are unfamiliar with mana management.

We’ll need to be more mindful of what spells we choose to cast as well as how to use our mana cooldowns, and talents.

M: Yeah, I found that out the hard way having to put Heal back in my bars again. Have you figured out any numbers for Spirit benchmarks or what we’ll need to hit at different stages of character progression? For example, how much are we going to need to adequately heal through heroic dungeons, challenge modes, or entry level raids?

D: Spirit numbers are tricky, as it really depends on your healing style. I will say that we’re going to want spirit on pretty much all of our gear in the first tier of raiding. Gone are the days of equipping non-spirit/dual stat gear!

For those who remember MP5 as a stat, think of spirit in that manner — it provides zero throughput: Just pure regen. We’ll have the ability to trade off spirit (via reforging) for throughput stats pretty easily, but it’ll depend on what your comfort level is. Personally, I would suggest being cautious with mana at first, and then pair back my regen instead of gasping for mana but my heals hit like a truck. It’ll be a fun balancing act, and will depend on individual healing style.

kite

M: What do you feel is the go-to Priest spec?

D: Hard question as they both provide some great tools and flavor. If I had to knee-jerk a response, I am going to say Holy. Holy always does well early in an expansion as it is arguably the least reliant on combat stats of the two  priest healing specs. I say this because Disc gets a good deal of it’s output from Divine Aegis. DA, apart from POH, is created by critical heals In low iLvl gear (aka Fresh 90’s) you’ll have innately lower crit chance due to less available Intellect on gear, and stats.  Now, do not misconstrue me and say “Derevka said to stack crit as disc at 90!” … No, that’s not what I am saying. I am saying that you’ll innately have lower critical strike due to your intellect and available crit, thus causing the creation of Divine Aegis more difficult (ie. 5 mans).

M: With that in mind, what does Discipline need to get itself back up to comparable level with Holy?

I do not think Disc is in a bad place at all. I think that Holy will just have an easier time early in the level 90 gear grind, only because Disc has a more strict gear requirement than Holy. Disc will be very powerful, particularly since it still has Barrier and access to the new Spirit Shell. Spirit Shell could be one of “those abilities” that winds up getting nerfed when used  “creatively”. I do worry that Spirit Shell will be used to bypass boss abilities. I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well. Remember people using Guardian Spirit to avoid Valiona’s Blackout in Heroic Bastion of Twilight? This could potentially be used similarly. Time will tell.  Spirit Shell is going to be perfect for those places where you would have POH/DA prepared the raid… except now, all that POH healing will be Spirit Shells!

I mean, you have the ability to prep a tank with a 60% HP bubble– then PW: Shield on top of that, and if you wanted, Pain Suppression as well.

scenario

M: In a previous conversation, we were talking about Mastery and how the points have changed. Do you consider haste the primary secondary stat for Holy with Mastery and Crit right behind it? What about Discipline?

D: Yes, Mastery should be a bit more transparent when it comes to its benefits on the character sheet. It’ll be much easier to understand now that they have streamlined the stat conversion straight to percentage gained.

That said, it is hard to provide a concrete statweight since a number of our spells are in flux when it comes to combat stat ratings; specifically regarding what affects them and what does not.  As of build 17882, we have Holy Word: Sanctuary now being affected by haste, which has me concerned, I did the math and its not good news– but it may be a bug. That said, since HW: Sanctuary is being affected by Haste, it does make breakpoints something to keep in mind. I have calculated the required Haste Rating for each Spell’s Breakpoint and will be publishing those numbers shortly. I do not think we’ll be ‘chasing breakpoints’ in MoP, but keeping them in mind will be critical–We’ll want to know where they are, so we can ensure we aren’t so close that we should change a gem or two. I do not think we’ll be gearing to get that additional HW: Sanctuary tick.

However, a Hymn tick on the other hand…

Preliminary simming is going to put Haste/Mastery pretty close to one another for Holy; however it will depend on how you heal. Are you going to be constantly spamming? Are you going to be weaving in more Power Word: Solaces? Are you going to burst heal and then slow down to regen? Are you single target healing? These all have different impacts to your statweights. If forced to chose, I would probably suggest gearing for enough Haste (raidbuffed) for the added Hymn (both), Renew tick and for a 10th Sanctuary tick… then Mastery. We’ll likely have a good deal of mastery  since a lot of the cloth drops and craftables are covered in it!

Discipline will enjoy Mastery since it now has a 3rd spell that benefits from it: Spirit Shell. Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Spirit Shell will all scale from Mastery. More simming will be needed to be done to get these stats, but for the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

For the most part Haste & Mastery will likely be our top go-to stats.

M: Level 90 talents. What do you think about each of them and what’s going to be your standard level 90 talent?

D: For raiding? Hands down, Cascade. I like them all (even beyond just the visuals). Halo is nice, but requires too much positional tweaking to make it really solid and is too expensive and too long a cooldown to be reliable. Divine Star will be great in 5 mans (I know I’ve used it a lot in heroics), and will work well in raids that have you all grouped up (a la Ultraxion). However, Cascade has proven to be the strongest for me in the test raids I’ve done. Even on 10 man— remember Cascade will hit 15 targets, and 10 man raids do not have 15 targets typically (pets).

halo

M: What about raid encounters? How about some previews for healing?

Hard to really nail this down simply. At the moment, some of the 10-man encounters have been wildly undertuned. For example, we accidentally killed Lei Shi in the Terrace of the Endless Spring due to dots when we tried to wipe/reset to get more testing/logs on the fight. Oops! Heroic Testing has just started, but has some promise to be challenging.

I will say that there are going to be some head nods to old encounters. Garalon, for example,  has a Professor Putricide-esque ability requiring you to pass a DoT/Debuff around via proximity. Not “recycled” content, but certainly some “oh this reminds me of X!”.

The one that I liked the most was Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. It is one of those fights that has different abilities in each phase of the fight, and then the final phase has all the abilities active at once. I enjoy these “progressive fights”; fights in which you learn how to manage and heal each phase, and then you have a capstone in the final phase.

M: Oh man, I love Professor Putricide. Always made jokes about who was dirty and who wasn’t. Vizier sounds something like Mimiron. If I remember right, most of these encounters were for normal mode and purely for testing of mechanics.

That’s correct as the only testing so far is Normal and it really was about testing mechanics. But the tuning of the mechanics are still important. Again, if you look at Lei Shi, you’ll see the latest patch notes took that feedback and increased some of the damage she does. Hopefully she won’t be quite the pinata she proved to be originally!

M: How much will I need to work Solace into my “rotation” (for lack of a better term) to see sizeable gains along the lines of mana hymn or fiend?

D: First, I’d be remiss not to ask people to calm down about Solace. People are really getting panicked over Solace. Yes, Solace provides the most regen potential, but there is a cost to that.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. Those GCDs have an opportunity cost. It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is. It might mean the tank takes a couple of melee swings and goes without a heal for 2-3 seconds. You’re going to have to heal that back up, but is the cost worth it? That is the question you need to ask yourself.

When you are casting (or chain casting) PW: Solace you are doing zero healing. […] It is up to you, to evaluate when you can fit those in and what the cost to doing that (vs healing) is.

Now, as far as how do you need to work Solace into rotation? You’ll want to find the gaps in damage–which can be hard the first time you see an encounter. I strongly suggest macroing PW:Solace with a mouseover/assist macro. This will allow you to simply hover over a DPS/Tank and Solace their target, all while not losing your current target (like the tank).

For PW: Solace to work out equal to Mindbender (assuming you’re also using Shadowfiend on CD) you’ll need to do 3-4  per minute (current build has it restoring 1.5%). Its actually 3.555/minute but remember its in aggregate. If for the first minute you got only 1 Solace in, to be on par by the end of minute 2, you’ll need to have 6 during minute number 2. Here is a link to an article I put together outlining how these talents work, and specifically how the granularity of the spells can work to your advantage.
I promise you, finding those GCD’s isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You just need to find the places to do it and weigh the opportunity cost.

divine-star

M: Right, yeah. I mean if we had access to Solace right now, we’d use it on Tendon phases during Spine (oh gosh, wouldn’t that just be so awesome to have right now?). In contrast, relying on Solace on Zon’ozz while the ball is active and bouncing around is probably a bad idea since you run the risk of losing players.

D: Yep! Finding the appropriate spots to use Solace will be the marker of a priest using it correctly. Of course, given that its clearly been under the watchful eyes of Blizzard and has been kept in check… 3-4 casts per min (in aggregate) is not a meaningless number as there may be fights where that much non-healing time is too much. However, if the Normal tests so far are any indication, you should be able to find time to cast Solace if you look for it.

Players and guilds are in a flux right now. This is going to be the time where players will be jumping around different guilds and M: situating themselves for Mists. Any advice for a 10 man Priest making the switch to 25 man and what they can expect with MoP raids?

D: 25 man raids will be interesting in MoP. I do not want to turn this into an argument about which is harder or if 25’s are dying. However, 25 man raids will have a challenge on a number of fights based purely on available real estate. A few of the fights seem to be reliant on spacing aspects like spreading out and grouping (even more so on Heroic, when looking at the Dungeon Journal). With the same square footage in the boss encounter, 25 man raids could find themselves in a position where they simply run out of space.

Healers in a 25 man raid, always need to be sure they do not have “I’m the Hero Syndrome”.

I’ve seen this happen to a number of healers when making the switch from 10s to 25s. They simply do not rely on the other 4-5 healers on their team and either: deviate from assignment, go OOM from being inefficient, or ignore instruction. You really need to work as a team in 25s, arguably more so than in 10s as you have substantially more people working with you, and covering potentially greater areas.

Be the uni-mind.

M: Let’s talk about our favourite spell Lightwell. There’s a certain cost/benefit between having it clickable vs having it firing off when player health drops below 50%. Are you going to leave yours glyphed or unglyphed?

D: Well since Lightwell and Lightspring both are healing for the same amount, the only added benefit of not Glyphing Lightspring, is that you can control its output (assuming players click it) . However, there are not many Major Glyphs we can choose from and I predict this being the glyph that we will run 95% of the time, with the 5% of the time on fights that you will ‘order’ your raid to click it at a specific time (such as Chimaeron’s Feud).

Lightspring will be ‘what’s expected’ and running it unglyphed, you likely will hear “I thought it was lightspring and would auto heal me!”

lightwell

M: We were chatting briefly about the lack of Holy glyphs. It seems that there’s a certain 3-4 glyphs that are the most optimal for Holy right now. What spells would you like to see affected by glyphs for extra or altered functionality?

D: If I were to have a wish list? Whoo, boy. I’d like a glyph to allow us to channel Hymns while moving. I hate casting HoH and then having something spawn under my feet! Or perhaps something that makes Spirit of Redemption useful? I’ve always hated a talent that only is used if you die/fail. Perhaps remove the “on death” and grant something useful like an on-use throughput increase. (See Also: Archangel, Tree of Life, Ascendance, and Divine Favor)

M: Alright, that’s all I have for you, Derevka! It’s good chatting with you again and thanks for taking time out of your schedule to offer your thoughts on (what is clearly) the best class in the game. Bonus: Your MoP release date guess?

D: Well, we are in the potential final stages of testing heroic raids! I would imagine another 2-3 weeks of raid  testing before we get a date. I also will assume they’re going to test LFR as well. If I were to bet, we’ll have a release date when they debut the opening cinematic at Gamescom.

I am hoping the launch date isn’t in the two weeks where I have a vacation and big work conference in September. With that in mind I am going to say 10/2/12–but I will hope it lands before. My raid team has already been tired of farming Heroic DS since February! We want something fresh, and I know many people share that opinion!

Where’s my panda?!

The Story of Dobby – The Resto Shaman Who Could

Alright folks, gather around and take a knee.

I have a story I want to share with you today.

His name is Dobby. No, he’s not a house elf. Dobby’s story isn’t exactly unique, but I wanted to share how his work ethic and drive to raid contributed to his cracking the lineup.

When Dobby first came to us a few months ago, we were already well into Dragon Soul at that point. If memory serves, we were halfway through the instance on the hard mode stuff.

But there is no way Dobby could’ve made a meaningful contribution at the time.

  • He had been out of the game for a few months.
  • He was barely loaded with Firelands gear.
  • Completely unfamiliar with Dragon Soul mechanics, much less heroic mode.

We knew that taking him in would be a calculated risk. There was a chance he would flame out and not care about raiding anymore, or thrive on the opportunity presented and work his way into the lineup.

Now most recruits who get rejected tend to turn away and look around for another guild with (shall we say) more accepting standards. They don’t care about putting in the time required to get the gear or playing to gain the necessary skills. But we told Dobby he could hang out with us in the guild and keep chipping away at his gear and continue playing.

And that’s exactly what he did.

Whenever a guild member posted that they were looking for players for a Firelands run, he was the first to volunteer for it. Naturally, as one of the few mail wearer’s, Dobby obtained first pickings to everything and the Firelands heroic drops augmented his character quite nicely.

Looking for raid, another fantastic gearing out process, was available and he ran that on his own time whenever the raid week reset to roll on drops and secure Valor points to purchase specific upgrades.

To top it off, he watched our livestreams and idled our Mumble channel when we were raiding. Dobby stayed on top of the subtle changes that were made throughout all the attempts so that in the event he was called in, he wasn’t a liability. He seamlessly fit right in during the times he was called to action.

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Christopher Gardner (Will Smith), The Pursuit of Happyness

Dobby is a perfect model story for the ideal recruit who doesn’t get accepted right away. That’s the kind of work ethic that scores big points with recruiters and leaders. Recruits who understand their weakness and work hard to minimize or remove it are the kind of players that I look for. You can’t teach that attitude. Of course, he could’ve taken the easy way out and just gave up. But Dobby chose to do it because he wanted to raid with us. Once the goals were laid out, he just went out and did everything he could to earn it.

He’s not the only one. One of our Holy Paladins (I’ll call him Moe), just about did the same thing. We gave him constant feedback in areas he needed to improve on and he gradually improved his play to help anchor the tanks when they needed it.

Don’t feel dejected if you don’t get in the first time. At least you know what you need to do to ace it the second time.

 

Raiding Needs an Off Season

It’s that time of year again.

Hockey’s over and congratulations to that-team-that-must-not-be-named for taking out my boys in blue in round 1 and then taking out the second and third seeds en-route to the cup finals before winning. Now it’s going to be another few months before hockey picks up again. This is the time when players, agents, and GMs start figuring out what kind of deals to make to bolster their teams for next year.

If WoW were to have a raiding off season, I’d say it’d kick in effect in the month leading up to Mists of Pandaria. But, the sooner there’s a release date, the better. Raiding activity seems to be at a low. Even in my guild, I’ve lost 2 players to Diablo 3 or other games because they needed a break (However, one of my legendary wielding players is coming back off reserves so that’ll help).

Like it has been in previous expansions, I’m expecting activity to pick up in that crucial month. That’s when many players will slowly start trickling back in after they find out that [flavor of the month MMO] wasn’t quite the game they envisioned it to be. It’s when players will be leaving and joining new guilds and jockeying for a good, stable position once Mists debuts.

And it needs to get here soon.

You Screwed Up

You Screwed Up

You let the tank die.

You missed the interrupt.

You didn’t line up your cooldowns properly.

You died to the fire.

You dispelled the frost bomb in the wrong place.

You got hit by the ball.

You hit a healing cooldown on a purple ooze.

You faced the boss and it cleared the whole raid.

You didn’t hit the Heroic Will button.

You want to quit the raid in shame and disgust at yourself for failing so hard.

No way. No how. Not a chance.

You learned something that cost the guild bank hundreds, possibly thousands of gold.

Make that gold count.

Look, I get it. You screwed up.

You can punish yourself, if you want to.

You can deposit money in the guild bank, if you’ll feel better.

You can apologize profusely to the raid, if you think it will help.

Everyone deals with personal failure in their own way.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you learn from it.

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

6 PM rolls around which means it’s time to raid.

Potions? Check.

Buff food? Check.

Drinks? Ginger Ale for me, not sure what the rest of you go with.

You get the invite to raid and glance at your party frames before doing a double take. Your name isn’t anywhere in the first five groups. Guess what? You’re in the ever elusive group 6. Your WoW Instant Messenger springs to life with a message from the boss. Looks like they’re going for a new composition which means you need to take a seat on the bench for the first few encounters.

At this stage in the expansion, compositions vary wildly based on bosses, who needs what, and number of trial players (if any). It’s pretty darn dejecting to warm the seats. It’s not done out of malice or hate. Your guild has decided on that specific configuration to get them through that specific challenge (or if it’s a farm boss, it’s they need to grab someone specifically for loot or trial reasons).

Hey, your guild is counting on you, too!

Even I, thee Matticus, gets called upon to sit. On the evenings I do sit, I have a myriad of activities at my disposal.

  • Reading: It seems as if there’s not enough time for people to read as much as they want. Right now, I’m working on the third book in the Kane Chronicles (The Serpent’s Shadow). If not books, I’ll catch up on various blogs around the internet via Google Reader.
  • Gaming: I don’t think I’ll be get in a full League of Legends match, but I can squeeze in a game of Draw Something or Scramble with Friends on my iPhone. On the computer, I’ll pounce onto the guild Minecraft server (I’m working on a personal fortress but I need more cobblestone).
  • Alts: Great time to work on some questing or getting in some leveling time on an alt. Don’t have an alt? Great time to start one!
  • Watch a movie or a TV show: Netflix anyone? Been rewatching a few episodes of Family Guy (Be a banana!). If the raiding group needs me, they can just holler. Enough time for me to pause and switch back to the game.
  • Writing: So many post ideas and so many things to write, just not enough time to do it all! Great time for me to work on a post like what I do when I’m chilling on the side.
  • Raiding: Raid Finder on an alt? Working on my 5th Priest now.
  • Watching the livestream: The guild has several streamers now. I’ll usually have a monitor up to keep track of progress while doing one of the other activities above.

What if you need gear?

No problem! Send a tell to your raid leader letting them know that you’re really interested in coming in for a future attempt.

Here, let me write you a template. Use the terms appropriate to your guild’s atmosphere.

Dear [boss/captain/fearless leader/a**hole]

This is just a tell to let you know that I would really like to come in for the next boss. There’s an item that I want because it [upgrades an item/is off spec/is for transmog/makes my character look 5 pounds lighter than I actually am]. Could you find it in your [heart/soul/noggin’] to bring me in so that I might benefit from the spoils?

Sincerely,

Your favourite [player/monkey/badass/<class> of all time]

Anyway, tell me about your bench experiences. You cool with watching from the side? What do you like to do or work on when you’re on the bench?

The Substitute Raid Leader

The Substitute Raid Leader

Remember the days in school where your favourite teacher was away?

Maybe she was sick or needed a personal day.

Then the sub would roll in with a giant, CRT television that was Velcro strapped to a cart and you thought to yourself, “YES! It’s going to be one of those days!”

Getting a substitute teacher is like a day off. Subs were mainly there to supervise and hand out homework. Sometimes they weren’t able to teach the lesson plans your main teacher already had in place.

Once in a while, you dice rolled into a teacher who unexpectedly knew their stuff (I once had a Caucasian teacher who spoke fluent mandarin and taught the class pretty well. Not bad).

In your raid, what happens when your raid leader’s out cold? Maybe he stayed up too late watching Starcraft 2 tournaments while excessively drinking.*

* That has never happened. It’s completely hypothetical.

Chances are you have several fall back plans at your disposal:

  • Cancel raid – Worse case scenario. Wasted raid night. Players get to relax and have a night off.
  • Delay – Not a bad option. Instead of tossing the whole night, you end up tossing 30 minutes or an hour. Dismiss your players and have them regroup at a specified time. This allows them to engage in other activities.
  • Run a different raid – Could go knock out a specific raid achievement that doesn’t require a full roster or tackle another boss that has a specific drop that are still improvements for certain players.
  • Down size – Only applicable to 25 man raid groups. Viable option if a progression boss is later on in the instance. You can speed up the process by sending in a small team to knock out some of the earlier bosses that aren’t needed. Downside is that this isn’t applicable to hard mode raiding because you’ll end up being saved to that specific lockout (and it applies to raid size).
  • Run with someone else quarterbacking – Every raid leader needs a number 2. This is their chance to prove they can function as a number 1.

In most cases, the last option is the most viable. A 25 man guild is likelier to have other players capable of stepping in to lead compared to a 10 man

The problem.

Like the substitute teacher, the substitute raid leader suffers from 1 problem:

No one takes them seriously

The newly promoted raid leader is usually one of the boys who’s a raider or an officer not normally known to raid lead.

Guys!

There’s still a raid going on! There’s still internet dragons that need to be killed!

Just because there’s an absence doesn’t give you the license to mess around card. He might have a different style of running the show but you as a raid team need to give him that support! They may not have the months or years of experience that your primary raid leader has but give them a shot! It’s upsetting to see that when the cat’s away the mice will play. Most of you don’t raid 7 days a week and you have nights off where you can relax and do other stuff anyway. Of the nights where you do raid, your raid leader (whoever it happens to be) needs your undivided attention and focus.

Don’t just dismiss them.

Give them a chance to show what they can do.

Dragons don’t just spontaneously lie down. They still need you and your raid to work together.

The Day Ultraxion Fell (Heroic)

The Day Ultraxion Fell (Heroic)

Took us about two weeks and around 7 hours of attempts. Managed to crush Ultraxion last night just before the expected nerf that kicks in today. Some of the pointers I can offer you:

  • We used 4 healers
  • Use your 3 minute cooldowns at some point between the first and second hour. You’ll want it up again around the 5 minute mark.
  • Tank 4 piece bonuses are a godsend. Finish those as quick as you can.
  • Respec and glyph specifically for the encounter. Cut out talents you don’t need (like movement speed bonuses).
  • Get in position for the coloured crystals early so you can run back earlier.
  • Use Mana potions instead of Concentration potions if you find you don’t have the 8 seconds to spare.
  • If a healer is using a Hymn of Hope, have another priest counter with Divine Hymn to offset their 8 seconds of inactivity.
  • Put the team on your back and carry them like you’ve never carried before. :)
  • Sadly, no VODs of this encounter yet. Largely because I didn’t want to compromise my computer’s performance during the raid. Will try to get one this week though.

    Crappy part of killing a new boss? Having to update every single recruiting thread and forum across all the different sites you have ads up on.

    Oh, and if you’re reading this in an email or an RSS reader, I changed the look of the blog. Keeps many of the same colours but I’m aiming for a simpler approach.

    I also changed my permalink structure. So if you’ve linked to any of the posts on the blog, chances are it’s not going to work. Just modify the URL so that it removes the date from the slug (For example, worldofmatticus.com/03/26/12/post-name is now worldofmatticus.com/post-name).

    Forgot how exhausting this process can be. But, time to raid!

Is Team Melee the New Hotness?

Lodur did a great job last week when he recruited 4 additional players. The catch? They were all melee players. We snagged a Rogue, a Paladin, Warrior and an Enhancement Shaman. Our melee roster now looks something like this:

4 Warriors
4 Rogues
2 Paladins
2 Enhancement Shamans

Gunship 2.0 turned into a challenge with just 6 ranged DPS players.

The guild historically has been melee heavy but not to this extent. As much as I would prefer having more ranged players as options, the raiding reality is to take the players we can get and find a way to make it work. Between the end of this expansion and a new MMO that’s holding player interest, it’s a little tougher to pick up players of the right class.

I’ve found some perks with a melee heavy raid, however.

Stuff dies really fast

That change to the melee buff (where it’s now 20%) makes a bigger difference. With trash and adds dying faster, it means overall less healing needed.

Closer proximity

Melee players typically stand in one location – Right behind the butt of the boss. I don’t have to worry about being out of range. Spells like Holy Word: Sanctuary are that much better since the melee players are in one tight location.

It’s nice to have a comfortable number of raiding players again. Holiday season is always tough. The next areas we need to shore up are ranged DPS and healers.

Now that we’ve gotten Deathwing down, we’re starting work on Heroic Morchuk (Norris). For those of you that have knocked it out already on 25 man, what would you suggest?

8 Raid Leading Mistakes That You’re Not Aware Of

I stopped raid leading a long time ago.

Who would’ve guessed that raid leading might mean a loss in ability to heal effectively? I leave that in the hands of my capable team. We’ve all made our fair share of errors and mistakes. Chances are, yours did as well. I’ve always felt that there was no reason for every player to make a mistake to learn from it. You don’t need 25 players to stand in a Void Zone to experience that it’s a bad thing to do.

So allow me to give you several fouls that I’ve committed over the years.

Pulling too fast

This is one of my biggest faults. I get pestered about trying to get pulls going too quickly. Sometimes there’s a pat coming around through a 4 pull. I’ve also been with tanks who keep pulling trash mobs even when a significant portion of the raid is down or on their way back. Generally speaking, if there’s over 5 players dead, I’ll call a stop and burn a mass resurrect followed by quick buffs before getting under way again. Keeping an eye on healer mana is important. If everyone’s fresh out of gas, give them a few seconds to replenish (I use Mana Hymns and Mana Tide totems on trash to accelerate the process).

Pulling too slow

On the other hand, you want to make sure things are going according to a schedule. There’s always time to socialize outside of raids. I used to raid with a player who flat out screamed that he was missing Blessing of Kings on trash.

Look guys, while you might wipe to trash here and there, it isn’t because you are missing Kings. Buffs can always be done on the fly. You don’t necessarily need to wait for all of your buffs to fire off before pulling.

Are there tanks present?

Are there healers present?

Is there enough DPS around?

Then it’s time to pull and let the WoW gods sort out the rest.

Not knowing when to tap out

Sometimes your raid meets a boss that they’re just presently not capable of. Maybe there’s only 15 minutes left in raid and you’ve been working on a new progression boss all night that you just killed. Now there’s a new boss standing in front of you that no one has any idea how to take on. You could always do a for fun pull and play the game of “Let’s see who survives the longest”.

Actually, where this really takes effect is around the holiday season. Maybe you don’t have enough players to field a full group. Now I dare say most raid groups can run short handed 1 or 2 players (unless you’re in 10 man). But if you suffer enough absences where it represents a significant portion of the raid, cut your losses and give everyone a night off.

Not enough sleep

Get some sleep, guys! No one likes it when a player misses a raid because they wanted to catch a quick nap and oversleep their alarm!

Makes me wish I could dock DKP for that!

Excessive consensus

Let’s be real here. If you’re raid leading, chances are you know what the hell you’re talking about more. You’ll most likely have studied up on the encounter extensively. You’ve mentally orchestrated your unit about what needs to happen. There’s generally one or two ways to take down a boss. Run that raid with a fist of steel and stick to your plan. Do not instantly agree with every new radical proposal or idea that occurs after a wipe. Stick to making minor adjustments as needed but don’t overhaul the general strategy. Chances are, your strategy is sound but the rest of the team needs to adapt and make their own individual changes to make it work.

But don’t run a raid or take on a boss in a majority rules fashion.

Too much Hand Holding

This really bothers me. It shouldn’t be the job of the raid leader to micromanage every player’s DPS rotations and individual skills. I’ve heard stories shared to me by players where their raid leader would tell a new recruit exactly what to do and when.

“Okay, Lightning Bolt… then Lava Burst … trigger your Earth Shock … Lightning Bolt again and refresh your Flame Shock.”

We try to do everything we can when it comes to recruiting applications to figure out what players know. There’s a minimum threshold of knowledge that is required. I’d say having a solid idea of how your class works and any rotations would be on the “must know” list. For other progressive guilds, knowing every ability on select hard mode bosses is a plus. Perhaps knowing how to fluently play in an off role would be a requirement. It all really depends on your guild.

Your raid leader should not be the person teaching players as they go how to play their class. Your raid leader is the guy people look to when they’re trying to figure out the overarching strategy on taking down a boss. Vik addressed the difference between a raid leader and a guild leader quite nicely last year.

Being too accommodating

There’s this great quote by Steve Jobs that I keep on my wallpaper.

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

Press the buttons that you feel will actually result in action. Don’t press buttons for the sake of pressing them. Remember that you’re in the business of raiding. Your focus and dedication is going to vary. No matter what it is, figure out what your limits are.

Someone needs a quick glass of water during a trash pull? Sure, I can live with that.

Baby just started crying right before pulling a boss and needs to be dealt with? It’s a teeth grinder and a stress ball destroyer but I’ll survive until I can get a replacement.

Need to AFK for a smoke right when you clear the last pack of trash to a new encounter? Get the hell out of my raid.

That last one especially is one of my biggest pet peeves after playing this game for so long. I’m sure it’s influenced by the fact that my dad used to smoke and I hated the smell of it. While flexibility is a great strength to have, be careful that you’re not going too far in the direction at the cost of progress.

Not pulling the trigger on decisions

Cold feet on which boss to go for?

Can’t seem to switch out the healer for the DPS?

Trouble deciding on which strategy to use?

The best raid leaders are the ones who come to a decision within a quick and reasonable amount of time. Indecision is never the right way to go. Consult with officers or other players as needed, but don’t drag your feet too much. Pick one and run with it. If you’re wrong, at least you’ll know what to do for sure next week.

One more thing

Don’t be afraid to give your raid leader feedback. Just do it after the raid is over, not during. Doing it mid raid is enough to throw them off their game which isn’t a good idea if the raid is working on some new encounters.