Merging Raids: Step One

Merging Raids: Step One

So, you’ve got a core team of raiders. People whom you know are dedicated to the same goal that you are, whatever that may be. Despite your best efforts, you’re constantly short a few. You find yourself stretching to find good raiders. In your virtual travels, you come across another team that seems to be experiencing the same dilemma. Is it the Twilight Zone? Are you looking at your own team looking back at you? No. You’ve simply found a common problem amongst raiding teams: coming up a little bit short. A five-letter word starts materializing in your head. You try to fight it, but you start to give it more and more consideration: Merge.

That’s where I’m at. Well, where we’re at. My goal is to walk through the different phases of merging two struggling raid teams. Obviously you’re going to run into some of, if not all, of the following issues:

  • Deciding if merging is right for you.
  • Arranging & discussing the merge.
  • The first raid night.
  • Possible shifts in gameplan (or should I say, “raidplan”)
  • Potential headaches.

Is it the right choice?

As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to craft a 10-man raiding team with some of my closest friends. We all got together and decided that this is what we wanted to do.  We’re part of a slightly larger guild that likes to do whatever anyone feels like throwing together. However, it’s always been this core crew of us that always wanted to progress through raids. Let me introduce you to the crew:

- Arcas, 80 Arcane Mage – Jayme, a good friend of mine that I met while working at a piano bar in downtown Chicago. Similar mindsets, a blast to hang out with, etc. I’ve come to call him one of my closest friends.

- Naryamas, 80 Prot Warrior – Sam, a good friend that we’ve been playing with since we were all level 40s early on in the Burning Crusade expansion. He’s always dedicated to helping out, and is always the first to be open to suggestion. **Solely a tank**

- Discotheque, 80 Resto Druid – Scotty, another good friend since the same time we met Sam. Former Art teacher, now a Graphic Designer in Texas. Engaged to his girlfriend. Jayme and I will be flying down to Texas for the wedding. **Solely a healer**

- Kevorkian, 80 Death Knight – Aaron, some kind of genius when it comes to Nuclear Physics. Yet, when he came to Chicago to visit Jayme and me, we definitely made sure he’d lose some brain cells to some drinking around town. Awesome guy, can play the “bad cop” really well. **Can Tank or DPS**

- Dralo, 80 Paladin – Dave, this is the guy you’d want on your side in a fight. Not only vocally, but physically as well.  Former Army Ranger and holder of random wisdom. Regardless of the actual cause of a wipe, “it’s Dralo’s fault.” **Can be Holy, Retribution, or Prot**

- Jalla, 80 Arcane Mage – Pat is our newest acquisition. A cool guy from Boston, he grabbed a PuG slot one night, and now we can’t get rid of him! Only kidding. He’s become an awesome raider and team member to have around.

-Thespean, 80 Shaman – Me, David. I’m the “politician.” I just want to make sure everyone’s happy. =) **Can be Enhancement or Resto**

That’s who I would consider to be the “core” of this team. We have other members in the guild, but these people are the ones that seem to be the A-Team. I struggle because I know it’s borderline elitist to think of the guild that way, but it’s true. Here’s why:

The Core vs. The Friends

The Core consists of the people that usually show up on time when they click “Accept” on the invite. If they know they’re going to be late, they make someone aware. They’re usually always prepped with gems/enchants for any gear they may pick up that night. They have flasks and their own food at the ready, especially if it’s a Well Fed buff that you can’t gain from Fish Feast (Haste, etc.).  They study the fights beforehand and hold enough wherewithal to know what their classes bring to the fights. This is always key on progression nights.

The Friends are people that, unfortunately, say they want to progress, but they don’t put the level of effort forward that the Core does. Simply put, they show up late (if at all), aren’t prepared for fights, take random unannounced AFK breaks, and need constant re-explanations. It’s not that they’re bad people by any means, but the Core just doesn’t feel that the Friends are on the same level as we are. That’s tough, because we like playing with the Friends a lot. They tire of progression fights easily, which makes forward motion tough to maintain.

Raid in the Mirror

As hard as we’ve worked, we always find ourselves just shy of a full raid. Even though we may reach ten people, one is usually a frequent fill-in or is a Friend that’s not too reliable.  I’ve had friends like Derevka and Avalonna from Talesofapriest.com bring alts over to come help. Lodur has offered his help as well, but once Cataclysm hits, each of them goes back to their respective raiding crew to do the new content. Recruitment on Nazjatar is slim at best. I’ve had great response from people that are interested in raiding with us, but it’s a lot to ask for someone to completely transfer to a new server, especially to a guild that’s not at the breaking edge of content. We’re not World First, we’re not Server First, we just don’t desire to be on the cutting edge. We want to be on our own cutting edge. In general (there are always exceptions), people tend to transfer servers for much more hardcore-style progression. Since that’s not us, our recruiting is harder.

We found another guild on Nazjatar that’s having similar issues. Almost point for point, they struggle with similar problems. Although they have a bigger guild than we do, they just don’t feel they have the roster for the kind of raid they want to do. With Nazjatar recruiting being very slim, they also hit a similar wall.

The Deciding Factor

We had one raid night that just wasn’t pretty. I had to call people to get them online (after they clicked “Accepted”). We started about 30 minutes late. After a good raid the night before, there was just no focus, and the Core noticed it. We were having to explain and re-explain assignments. People had to leave early, but we couldn’t get the group focused to make the best of the time we had. People randomly left because friends wanted to hang out (I’m all for friends, but stick with a committment you made). One of our AFKs ended up being gone for about 20 minutes. Our warlock said she would be 15 minutes late, but she didn’t show up until over 90 minutes later.  In just over an hour of raid time, we got one boss down, and that’s it. Once the raid got called, we were ready to bring up the merge to the other raid team.  Those of the Core that were online all agreed. Putting aside our nights and not having similar dedication from other members just wasn’t fun for us.

And so the conversation began, which I’ll cover in the next post…

Have you dealt with a possible merger? What other issues have you had that pushed you towards or away from the decision?

Without a safety net

Without a safety net

For as long as we play this game, no matter how much changes there are things that will always stay the same. Standing in fire is generally bad (there have been very few exceptions to this and the exception does not make the rule). Cleave and Whirlwind are not things you should stand next to. Don’t break the sheep, and my favorite, always blame the hunters. These are simple truths that we have come to accept as we’ve played the game.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in the Cataclysm beta recently. I’ve leveled Lodur to the current level cap 3 times now (once as resto, once as elemental and finishing out the one as enhancement) and some of these simple truths are being expanded and brought back to the forefront. In Cataclysm, the developers have a goal to make healing harder and more involved. Our healing spells hit for slightly less than one would expect and mana is at a premium.

You see, previously healers have had an excess of mana either through large base mana pools, stacking MP/5 or getting high returns from intellect and talents. With mana flowing like water, healers have been able to compensate to a certain extent for players who “stand in the bad”. Now, it does not mean that no one died. There are still plenty of things that will kill a person flat out if they aren’t paying attention, but some feel that the game has become far more forgiving than it was in the days of Vanilla WoW.

By making healing harder in Cataclysm, they are doing something they moved away from inadvertently over the course of two expansion. They are placing the burden of living squarely on the entire group, and not just leaving it to the healer to be the sole life-line. I’m not saying healers shouldn’t be trying to heal, but rather just stating that the game is changing. Let’s break it down to the core components in play here as provided to us by the developers;

  • Mana is a concern for healers
  • Healers will be focusing more on triage
  • Fights will be longer
  • Situational awareness will be a factor again with a lot of avoidable damage
  • It will be less about brute force and more about survival and finesse

That is just the short list, since things are constantly changing in the beta.

Mana being a concern and the focus being more on triage is a big thing. Right now healing sort of devolves into whack-a-mole frantically trying to keep everyone up. Come cata however, healers will have to make judgment calls as to how to prioritize heals in order to conserve mana and maximize healing benefit to the group.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In the Throne of Tides (one of the new 5 players dungeons in the next expansion) the very first boss has a spout / geyser like ability that she forms underneath her. The tank and melee need to move out of this before the ability triggers, or they take a lot of damage. Healing this, I had the tank and a rogue stay in the “void zone”. The tank and rogue both took a massive amount of damage. The rogue was JUST far enough away from the tank to be out of Chain Heal range so I had to decide to drop the nuke heal on the tank or the rogue. Needless to say I picked the tank. The rogue died immediately after my heal landed on the tank (1.7 second cast time for those interested). Had either the rogue or the tank moved out of the ability, neither would have died as I wouldn’t have had to decide who got healed and who did not. A little situational awareness would have gone a long way here.  The boss also spawns adds that need to be tanked and dealt with. One of the ranged wasn’t paying attention and wound up proximity aggro-ing two of the mobs and he was dead before I could even cast a single heal on him. We wiped it after that and tried again, but you can see how paying attention counts for a lot there.

This same fight, at about the 2 minute mark I noticed my mana reserves getting low. The damage throughout the fight was pretty steady, but people not paying attention caused me to burn a lot more heals than I would have liked. The fight in total lasted about 4 minutes or so, but in that 4 minutes I had burned a mana potion, my Mana Tide Totem and ended the fight with around 5% mana. It was a bit of an eye opener. I was forced to figure out which heal was appropriate for what damage in order to conserve as much mana as possible, and had to make decisions on when it was safe to let the tank take a couple extra hits before casting a heal. Spam healing to keep everyone at max just doesn’t work anymore.  Keep in mind this is a normal 5 man dungeon not heroic, and I entered this with ilvl264/277 ICC25 gear. It was refreshing and scary, but not at all impossible. Now this will likely change in the raiding end game, but I wonder how much. The encounters in normal dungeons are already shaping up to be more involved than being simple tank-and-spanks, and one can only hope that the learning curve for endgame will continue along that path rather than decline. After my first run though it got easier, and I ended with more mana, but that is in part because the groups did everything they could to avoid damage and make my job easier. That in turn made it easier to heal through the “oh shit” moments.

Now, what does this have to do with non healers? Well to get to the point of my post, my guild constantly reminds players to “help your healers out”. This means avoiding the bad (looking at you here defile!). We expect the healers to heal and do their jobs well, but we expect all the other players to help themselves stay alive. Use potions or health stones, move out of fire, run to your linked partners on Blood Queen, stay vigilant and react quickly. This is not an uncommon sentiment, but some people seem to think they can stand in the fire and squeeze out one more attack while the healer keeps them up. In Cataclysm if you aren’t paying attention and don’t react to the bad things happening around you, it is very likely you are going to die regardless of how skilled your healer is. With all this going on, it becomes more about surviving for as long as possible in a fight. After all you can’t DPS if you’re dead right? So this means when you see a Healing Rain or Lightwell going down, it will be your responsibility to get to it as much as it is the responsibility of the healer to make sure it is placed optimally. It means managing your threat to make sure you don’t gank and doing things to keep the damage you take at a minimal level even if it means stopping what you’re doing for a few moments to stay alive. You will need to do it. It really seems to be shaping up to have more individual accountability by virtue of taking away what I like to call the “Healer Safety-Net”.

If the trend continues into raids, healers simply will not be able to compensate for bad decisions or poor situational awareness. They wont be able to heal through all the damage being done. Instead it will take coordination of the entire group, people paying attention to their environment and an understanding that the game has become dangerous again. We’ve gone from killing boars to resurrecting gods. The stakes have been raised and we will all have to adapt.

So remember to help your healers out, because it looks like that safety net is going away.

An Instance of Fail

An Instance of Fail

**Image courtesy of Universal Studios**

Matt’s note: After an actual good night’s sleep and further deliberation, I’ve exercised editorial control and removed the quote that was at the end of post as I determined it was unnecessary. The team remains committed to delivering honest and thoughtful opinion on the subject and content around the community, and it is never our intention to go after individuals.

I, like a good number of people that I play with, listen to The Instance, a WoW-based podcast featuring Scott Johnson and Randy Deluxe.  They’re an incredibly entertaining duo, and their show is produced remarkably well. Since their fame, they’ve been able to amass the largest guild in WoW, A.I.E., a Horde fan-guild on Earthen Ring.

Needless to say, they’ve developed quite a following. They score interviews with members of the Blizzard staff, host their own Nerdtacular Expo, and have even coined the famous “Obey Henry!” (a reference to Scott’s Hunter pet) phrase on bumper stickers and websites. They’ve got sponsors galore, and it shows.

A lot of people have been given the oppotunity to contribute to the success of “The Instance”, via the podcast or their blog.  Because of the “bragging rights” that come along with such an honor, it’s expected that people probably flock to get a chance.

Well, just because you get the chance, doesn’t mean you should take it.  Living in downtown Chicago, I have the chance to jump off bridges into the water below. Doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea.

The Culprit

I try to keep a good grasp on what blogs are out in the WoW world.  A lot of us on Twitter are really good about tweeting and re-tweeting blogs that we think are relevant. I find some great articles that way, and some real duds.  That’s what brings me to “The Instance”.

I came across an article posted by someone named Dills. I checked out some of his posting history. He seems like a fairly new blogger. His posts are succinct (good), and touch on relevant topics (also good). The article I read, however, hurt my soul.

In the “calm before the storm”, we’re learning what spells are going by the wayside.  Some spells like Sentry Totem are easily justified. Their mechanics make no sense. Other spells however, will make a lot of us shed a tear upon their departure. Dills, lacking the eloquence he usually displays, delves into his opinions of what should be on the chopping block.

First Offense

Although in the healing community we beg for the repair of our beloved Lightwell, Dills calls for its demise. It’s not really the call for the demise that bothers me as much as the poor thinking that it’s derived from:

The idea is not horrible but in today’s raiding environment does anyone have time to stop their rotation for a moment to click on something for a heal?  I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.

Wrong, sir. When you gear your tank to 540 Defense (or spec into Survival of the Fittest), you’re thinking about healing. When you gather your 251+ gear for your tanking set, you’re thinking about healing. If you’re NOT thinking about healing when you’re going through your “rotation”, then you’re just a bad DPS.  It is every raid member’s responsibility to contribute to the raid as a group effort. This is why one of the quintessential rules of WoW is:

  • Don’t stand in the bad; Do stand in the good.

When you stand in the good, you’re not just “upping your numbers”, you’re assuring that the fight will progress quickly so the healers won’t run out of mana.  With Blizzard’s desire to make mana an issue for healers, this will become paramount.  When you avoid standing in the bad, you’re doing the exact same thing by saving the heals for those that really need it.

But wait!! There’s more!

That’s what the healer is for.  I’ve got a great idea.  How about we put a little Shadowwell on the ground and the healers can click on it to dps things?  Dumb right?  Right.

Wrong again, sir.  Wrong.  How many times have you been working on a progression boss and you hit that last 5% with an imminent enrage timer, then wipe?  I’m willing to bet money that part of the reason you got to that 5% in the first place is because of your healer(s) Smite-ing/HolyShock-ing/LightningBolt-ing/Wrath-ing the boss when they had the global cooldowns to spare.  I can’t tell you how many times when I raided with Lodur’s guild that the whole raid (healers included) threw everything they had at a boss in the final 10%.  I’ll use Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example. One attempt ended in our guild first, with only 2 people alive, the other 23 dead. Healers DPS’d the boss, too. “That’s what the DPS is for,” right? So does that mean the DPS wasn’t doing their job? Nope. We succeeded, which means the raid did it’s job.

Secondly, it’s obvious that Dills hasn’t been following the new game mechanics, namely that Healers will be nudged to DPS in order to regen mana. In the current build, Priests have the following talents:

  • Evangelism – When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing damage done by your Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Archangel – Consumes your Evangelism effect, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana, and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack.
  • Atonement – When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 8 yards equal to 15% of the damage dealt.

So, sir. If we can DPS the boss, you can help with healing.

Second Offense

Although Amplify/Dampen Magic is getting tossed onto the cutting room floor, Dills seems to think it’s welcome. His primary reasoning:

I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.

How about Valithria Dreamwalker? Ever think about throwing Amplify Magic on her? And Dampen Magic, what about throwing that on your ranged tank in Blood Prince Council? I can think of a myriad of ways that this can be used on a case-by-case basis. Just because it’s not mandatory for each fight doesn’t mean that it deserves to go away.

More you ask? Sure…

I also don’t know a single Mage who is excited when I remind them to please “give amp magic to the raid please”.  They all have the same reaction, “Ugh”.

Wrong, sir. Any mage worth running with (in my opinion), is more than willing to buff the raid, if it’s necessary  or will aid in getting that solid kill.  To any player that gripes and groans because they have to buff the raid, I tell them essentially what they’re saying is “Oh noes! I have to give the raid a (possibly) better chance at downing this boss! /cry”.  It is these people that I don’t like playing with.  Our mage (also our DPS captain) always looks to see what little things the DPS can do to help out the rest of the team.

Three Strikes; You’re Out!

Last, but not least, Dills brings up Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. These are spells that I’ve become quickly familiar with through my raiding days.  Remember when CC used to be essential to getting through a raid?  Remember packs of mobs that needed to be Slept, Sheeped, Sapped, Hexed, Repented, etc? Does anyone recall Blizzard saying they’d like to see CC brought back in? I do. I welcome it. It actually makes it more interesting than “nuke da mobz wit aoe”. Let’s start at the top:

Priests can Mind Soothe which I guess could be useful while questing but if you can’t kill a mob reliably you got bigger problems than Mind Soothe can fix.

Dills, did you read the spell? Mind Soothe has no impact on the level of damage a Humanoid mob takes. It reduces the aggro range that the mob can detect you. For leveling, this means you can Mind Soothe a mob to grab that quest item you need. For dungeons, it’ll help you sneak by that one mob patrolling right near you or near a party member that was lagging behind.

I’ve heard of Priests using Mind Soothe on the Instructor Razuvious fight but I admit I have never confirmed that it really works.

Here’s some confirmation for you. In the Razuvious 25man fight, you need two priests to Mind Control.  Without Mind Soothe, they have to mash the Mind Control button as fast as they can to grab hold of the Understudies.  Why? Because when the Priest gets into range to cast the spell, he’s already in the Understudy’s aggro range. The mob starts running at the Priest, alerting the other students (and Razuvious) that he’s there. If the tank’s not fast enough, or the other Priest can’t get off Mind Control on time, the Priest is dead.

Now, with Mind Soothe, the Priest settles into this spot, casts Mind Control with ease, and there’s no mad dash to get it done. The tank can run in and get aggro on the other Understudies without fear of them charging after the Priests.

This works for any time you have to set up CC assignments before a pull. With the need for CC coming back stronger in Cataclysm, you’re gonna need Mind Soothe until you really outgear the content.  And guess what? Soothe Animal is the exact same thing, except for Beasts and Dragonkin!

I do like the idea of these spells upping the targets vulnerability to other spells though.

Where, oh where, did you even get that from the tooltips of those spells?  How does “reduces the range” mean “makes more vulnerable”?  Both of those spells are designed to help prevent face-pulling mobs by anyone other than the tank.

Head to the Dugout

In the end of Dills’s post, he says:

Leave a comment with any spells you hate or think should change or tell me how wrong my analysis is.

Gladly, sir. Let me say first that anyone is more than welcome to have their opinion. I encourage it. However, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth if you’re looking to spur a debate. The examples provided above show a poor thought process on your part.

Your thoughts on how healing is “not your job” is an insult to the people you depend on to keep you alive. It is your duty to make sure the raid succeeds, however you can contribute to it.

The ability to think outside the box on certain spells is something I highly recommend checking out. Simply because one raid leader said to use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang encounter doesn’t make it useless everywhere else. You’ve got raiders that groan at increasing chances of success? Get new raiders.

I can certainly say that I don’t like apples because they’re fuzzy and blue and taste like feet.  You’d say I have no idea what an apple is. That’s my opinion of you regarding Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. Try Soothe Animal in Ruby Sanctum. You may be surprised.

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

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

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

tentacle unicorn

Tobold’s post today is a refreshing look at how the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPSers might be re-balanced. His basic concept is that it should be made more rewarding – more useful – to players to play a tank or a healer, for their own interest. Rather than developers assuming that the laws of odds and sods means that some players will play them because – well, someone has to.

Tobold’s correct in that tanks and healers could benefit from their ability to mitigate being more useful in solo combat. I’m not sure that in order to achieve this it would be necessary to make DPS classes “feel more like the proverbial glass cannon”. Combat could be customizable so that DPSers can still enjoy doing what they do best but tanks and healers can make their mitigation work for them.

Without giving it too serious thought early on a Monday I can think of some brief examples; there could be a mechanic whereby tanks reflect an increasing or scalable amount of monsters’ damage back at them (RPS – reflect per second?). The irritation here is that those monsters who are less damage oriented themselves would take longer to kill. Or there could be an improved “thorns” like mechanic – the idea behind thorns at present being that it does damage when thorns’ beneficiary is hit. The improved version (and the mechanic could be given to any class) could mean that effective use of a tank’s abilities gives him a stacking buff which then accordingly deals damage to the monster – which would stack all the more (and slightly insanely) in aoe/quest situations, probably making it great fun for tanks to quest by gathering all of the monsters on the continent at once. I exaggerate. Slightly.

But what are us healers going to do with our mitigation abilities? Ours is not so much mitigation as reparation. So what, we’d heal ourselves at monsters? Now we get to a deeper layer of difficulty for balancing the roles.

This is where the aforementioned concept of “their own interest” comes under scrutiny. In my mind a fighter’s – therefore a tank’s – interest in surviving battle is entirely different to a healer’s. The fighter charegs into battle wanting to smash those monsters in. Those fighters who are tanks also happen not to mind being smashed back by the monsters. A healer’s interest on the other hand is to hoppity-skip around the battlefield amidst volleys of arrows and magic from both sides in order to patch up their teammates.

The point at which their interest intersects is in doing what they are good at; and, trickily, those skillsets shine most in group situations when there are other people around to benefit from them. Not everyone can get hit over the head with as much class as a tank; and fighters going into battle alone traditionally aim to kill the betentacled unicorn quicksmart rather than let it try to tear their guts out for longer than is comfortable. As to healers – how many rogues do you see prancing around with happy light beams streaming from their fingertips? Healers like stapling peoples’ guts back in, and not just their own.

The difficulty here is reconciling two different experience types. First, redressing the game mechanic practicalities of playing a tank or healer to make it intrinsically self-rewarding for players choosing to play a tank or healer. And secondly, not amputating the traditional ideology behind the role types. The ideology which makes roles what they are; antecedents of cultural mythology celebrated through oral story telling, written classics, and role playing.

One way to approach this may be to remember that it’s not all about the roles. You can take the mechanic to the water but to make it drink from it – make the water more interesting. Perhaps the quest system could be overhauled – it’s overdue anyway.

Instead of quest givers parroting the a-typical “kill fish because I want their feathers to make a pair of sandals”, they could have a wider, more imaginative range of ways we can help them. Something like, “get from here to there in <insert arbitrary time limit> because, er, I dunno, how do you feel about couriering misunderstood baby murlocs? And do it the way that best suits you. You look healery, maybe hoppity-skip along and do your nature thing. You don’t have to slowly attack/tickle everything to death.”

Tell you what though. I remember several RPGs where us healers were the big guns when our band of heroes were wading through undead. Back in my day, undead monsters really didn’t like being healed at.

What do you think? How do you think class/role mechanics should be rebalanced on the ‘experience type’ graph, and why?

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.

Article images originally on flickr, by Don Solo and merwing little dear.

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

In perusing WoW.com on my normal Monday morning shift, I tend to always follow Spiritual Guidance, usually when it’s headed up by Dawn Moore. Although I tend to go back and forth on my agreement with her, I’ve noticed that she’s taken an approach to encouraging people to participate more in PvP.  YES!  With the thrill of this expansion coming to a close, there are a variety of ways to continue to enjoy this game, one of which is PvP. 

Why am I so excited for this, you ask? Well, I’m an avid PvP’er. One of my favorite things to do is grab some guildies, and utilize the Random Battleground Queue until I’m blue in the face.  I particularly love Warsong Gulch, which makes me pretty excited for the upcoming “Twin Peaks” battleground.  Here’s the poop on what you stand to gain from becoming more active in PvP:

  • Increased Wintergrasp / Vault of Archavon Time: People consistently complain about how Wintergrasp is broken on their server.  Although I agree to a certain extent, a team of skilled, team-oriented PvP’ers has the potential to overcome any short-comings (**COUGH** Scale vehicle damage with Tenacity **COUGH**).
  • Off-set Gear: Although I don’t miss the days of “Welfare Epics” by any means, I am a fan of utilizing some PvP pieces until you get that PvE piece you want.  Sure, resilience does no good in PvE, but you can use that Wrathful Gladiator’s Cloak of Salvation until you get the frosties for your Drape of the Violet Tower or you get that Greatcloak of the Turned Champion to finally drop off of 25-man Saurfang.
  • Deeper Class Knowledge: By starting to play your class in a different environment, you start to learn things you may not have considered before.  The ability to change your focus and style as a player gains a lot of respect from someone like me.

However…

Although Dawn does a great job of laying out the basics, let me make it clear that I think it’s a bad idea to grind out Emblems of Triumph to get your PvP gear.  Sure, if you have them sitting your bag, by all means, spend them.  I know from experience how frustrating it is to go into battlegrounds wearing nothing but your PvE gear.  Let’s take a look at what you stand to gain by going the “Honor” route:

Gear Progression

First and foremost, I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of getting to spend my honor points on a new piece of gear.  I’m currently gearing up my Resto PvP set for my Shaman, and although I’ll toss some Triumphs at it, if I have them, most of my gear is coming from Honor.  I liken it to working out hard in a gym and seeing the results build, instead of sitting plugged into one of those ab-shock deals while I watch the Blackhawks annihilate the Flyers in Game 5 (I had to). You feel the hard work, hence the payoff is more rewarding.

Second, as you add pieces over time, you realize which stats you need and which ones you don’t need.  When I was building my Discipline PvP set, I initially went for mostly +Crit pieces so I could proc Inspiration and Divine Aegis.  I realized halfway through that I was burning mana like an oil spill from an irresponsible foreign oil company. I switched it up and started getting more MP5 and Spirit on my gear.  Especially if you’re a healer, you have the choice of some caster DPS gear (except for the Paladin), which will be laden with more haste and crit.  Once you discover your play style, you’ll figure how to tweak your gear.  If you grind dungeons for all the badges for the Furious set, you may find that you’re too heavy on a stat that doesn’t do you much good, or that you’re lacking in one that you really need.

An option to consider while getting battle-ready is checking out the crafted pieces that are available.  They’re relatively cheap to make, and you’ll probably be helping out someone’s profession in the meantime.  They all involve more than just the standard Head/Chest/Legs/Gloves/Shoulders combination.  You can use these to get your boots, bracers or waist piece squared away. Here’s a couple examples:

Frostsavage Battlegear – Although it lacks any kind of mana regen, it still is better than nothing.

Eviscerator’s Battlegear – Obviously for melee classes like the Druid and Rogue.

Ornate Saronite Battlegear – The Healadin equivalent.

These give you good starting points to bounce off from.  Remember, you’re generally focusing on different stats than a normal PvE set.

A Different Style

Have you ever played one spec for SO long, and then decided to switch it up and play a completely different spec?  Say you went from Resto to Balance, or from Holy to Shadow, or Resto to Elemental. Is it the same playstyle?  Obviously not.  Sure, it may not be much of an adjustment, but think of PvP in the same manner. 

On my Shaman, I know very well that I’ll be dropping different totems depending upon who I’m facing.  I switch up my weapon imbues as Enhancement, and I pay much closer attention to my Earthbind Totem, Grounding Totem, and Stoneclaw Totem.  Those get little to no attention in raids.

On my Discipline Priest, I learned the ability to turn and burst an opponent, when I’m used to healing.  I started to utilize different heals like Binding Heal in order to keep myself and a teammate alive. 

If you’re stuck in randoms just doing what you normally do (I call the “Mental AFK”), then you’re not learning the intracacies of your class and spec, especially with how easy it is to outgear heroics now.  Go through your spec talent by talent and see what will help you and what won’t.  A talent you worship in PvE may not be worth it in PvP.  It’s okay to toss it to the side to get a little more utility.

Become Team-Oriented

Contrary to popular belief, not all PvP is based on killing the other player.  You may be able to put out some good DPS, but do you know how to peel a melee off of a healer?  Do you know how to pinpoint the enemy healer and not just kill him but lock him down so he’s useless?  Do you know what strengths your class has against certain other classes?  Do you have the ability to support the rest of the team, instead of trying to be highest DPS or get the most Killing Blows?

That’s what the benefit of actually being in the battleground gives you.  You end up learning that in order to hold bases in Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, you have to stand on or near the flag/node.  Fighting in the roads generally does nothing.  You also learn the value of defending those nodes, instead of just being part of the roaming Zerg group. 

These lessons all come with time, but I think it’s imperative that you learn them while you’re in the thick of it.  Once you learn how much easier it is to take out a group once the healer is down, you’ll encourage others to do the same.  You’ll figure out that there will be players that try to peel you off the flag in Arathi Basin so a Rogue or Druid can ninja the node.

You’ll simply become a stronger player, not only in PvP but in PvE as well.  PvP can help you avoid tunnel vision and enable you to help out other parts of the raid when you feel you can.  There’s only so much you can learn from doing heroics and raids over and over.  Spend the time in some battlegrounds, and I think you’ll be amazed what you can learn.

**Disclaimers: No, I’m not a 2400 Arena player. Yes, I’ve been PvPing since Burning Crusade. Yes, I understand there are exceptions to everything. Yes, I’m a Blackhawks fan of the fair-weather nature. No, I don’t think it’s too soon to insult BP for their pollution of our waters.**

 

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

 

 

 

What Will The MMO of Tomorrow Bring?

What Will The MMO of Tomorrow Bring?

Cataclysm is rapidly approaching and the game world we’ve known for the last 5+ years is changing. Towns destroyed, new races about and new powers for each race to play with. WoW is not the only game facing changes though, In fact the state of MMOs is changing as a whole, I mean let’s face it, in the coming months everything we thought we knew about this genre is going to go right out the window. The best part is, we as gamers are in the right place to enjoy the best of these changes to come … hopefully. You may ask yourself what am I talking about? Well let’s take a look at things that are going to be happening in the very near future.

Star Wars: The Old Republic


One of the most highly anticipated games coming up is Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). The game takes a popular franchise and is recreating the universe for a new MMO. So far it is shaping up to bring some new features with.

Every NPC / Quest is voiced: That is right, talk to an npc to get a quest, the whole thing will be read off to you by the character audibly. Pretty massive undertaking, and a pretty cool feature.

Consequence system: Every choice you make in the game, every quest you take every mob you kill has consequences. It can alter what quests you have available to you as well as what powers become available to you. It is possible to play two different characters and get completely different experiences based purely on the choices you make. The other part that is interesting about this MMO is that your choices can lead to faction changing. It has been stated that a Sith can be redeemed and a Jedi can fall from grace, all based on the choices you make in the game world.

Advanced Class system: Each starting class can evolve into one of two advanced classes, each of those advanced classes has two skill trees it can choose from. This allows for a large variation among players and classes and lets you customize your character to suit your needs and play-style. The depth of this is not yet revealed but this can be very very interesting in the future of updating and personalizing your in game avatars.

A Whole Universe to Explore: Most MMOs take place on a comparatively small land mass or group of landmasses (EvE online is an exception here), and can often times feel very linear in its progression. This is a truly massive undertaking as they are creating many many worlds for us to explore and each world is to be massive in and of themselves. The sheer scope of this, and the potential for player freedom here can be an altering factor to MMOs to come after.

These are just things off the top of my head about the game, there will be more to come as the game is closer to release, but they are truly beginning to push away from MMOs as we know them.

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars received great attention when it was released 5 years ago in part because it was a free to play after you purchased the game, but also because it was (and still is)  a good game. The sequel is shaping up to be even bigger and badder than the original (which is a good thing), but like Bioware with SWOTR, Arenanet aiming to shake things up a bit.

Whole New Way to Quest: I’ll open this up with a quote from Colin Johanson, Lead Content Designer for Guild Wars 2.

When building an MMO, we had to examine every core piece of accepted content from traditional games in the genre and ask, “How can this be improved?” By looking at the traditional quest system used in basically every MMO ever made, we’ve come to the conclusion that quests have a lot of areas for improvement. To address these flaws, we’ve developed our dynamic event system.

Traditional quest systems involve walking up to a character who usually has an exclamation point or question mark hovering over their head and talking to them. From here, you get a massive wall of text hardly anyone reads that describes a horrible or totally mundane thing going on in the world that you need to help with. You run off, complete this task, then return and talk to this character again to receive another wall of text and a reward. Traditional quest systems rely on these blocks of quest text to tell you what is happening in the world; this is just an outdated form of storytelling.

In Guild Wars 2, our event system won’t make you read a huge quest description to find out what’s going on. You’ll experience it by seeing and hearing things in the world. If a dragon is attacking, you won’t read three paragraphs telling you about it, you’ll see buildings exploding in giant balls of fire, and hear characters in the game world screaming about a dragon attack. You’ll hear guards from nearby cities trying to recruit players to go help fight the dragon, and see huge clouds of smoke in the distance, rising from the village under siege.

That is fairly massive right there, I mean just think about that. Total immersion into the world. That is pretty impressive and really sells the world to the players. He goes on to say the following

There is a second fundamental flaw to traditional quest systems: what the quest text tells you is happening in a quest is not actually what is happening in the world.

For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character’s home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, “Kill 0/10 ogres” and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies. Since every player in the game needs to be able to do this quest, the ogres will never actually threaten the character’s home – they will just eternally pick daisies in the field. The ogres aren’t actually doing what the quest says they are – the game is lying to you!

At ArenaNet, we believe this is NOT good enough. In Guild Wars 2, if a character tells you ogres are coming to destroy a house, they will really come and smash down the house if you don’t stop them!

We’ve all seen it, we get the quest to go kill x of y because they are coming to hurt z, but in truth they are just standing around doing nothing but waiting for the players to come and kill them. This adds a real consequence to the game world and leads into the second big thing about the game.

A Living Breathing World: Every action you take has an effect on the world around you. This means if you don’t stop the ogres from destroying that home, guess what? The building is actually destroyed and gone. If an army lays siege to a town and takes it, they will occupy that town, until someone frees the town from the army. There is no case of say a certain inn in a certain western location being built for 5+ years. If a city or town gets decimated it is not outside of reason that in this game it will be rebuilt over time. Traditionally in MMOs once you complete a quest or a task, you collect your reward and you move on with no effect on the world (That damn Corki keeps getting caught by the Ogres…), here everything you choose to do — or that which you choose not to do — has an impact on the world around you and can cause a chain of events that you may not see happen from making one innocuous choice.

Bringing a Community Back to MMOs: Right now in most games if a player goes off to kill a named NPC and another player gets the same quest, unless they are in the same group together they have to wait for the mob to respawn. This has often let to things such as griefing and harassment. Arenanet aims to end that. I’ll end my section here with one more quote

All players that fully participate in an event are rewarded for doing so; everyone who helps kill a monster or blow up an enemy catapult will get credit for doing so. There is no kill stealing and no quest camping. Everyone works together towards the common goal of the event and everyone is rewarded for doing so. To help ensure there is always enough for everyone to do, our events dynamically scale, so the more players who show up and participate in the event, the more enemies show up to fight them. If a bunch of players leave the event, it will dynamically scale back down so it can be completed by the people who are still there playing it. This careful balance created by our dynamic scaling system helps ensure you have the best and most rewarding play experience.

Tell me that doesn’t sound pretty cool. Again this can help shape how players move and interact through MMOs to come, depending entirely on execution of course.

Tera: The Exiled Realms of Arborea

Recently I had the good fortune to speak with Producer Brian Knox and writer Robin MacPherson from En Masse Entertainment on the podcast. If you’re interested you can click here for the show notes and the episode is free for download on iTunes or direct link from the site. The information we gained from the interview is pretty killer. The game itself is being simultaneously developed for both the eastern and western markets. There has been some trouble bringing eastern games over to the west based purely upon the different ideas of what we want in a game. En Masse aims to not only break those barriers but redefine the MMOs while they do it. So what do they have in store for us?

Define Your Own Player Relations: As of now there are no factions like we are used to in World of Warcraft and other games, instead it is entirely up to a player to choose who they side with. You choose your allies and your enemies. There is no pre-set racial enmity so you have complete freedom here. This is kind of a big deal for some people, and hasn’t really been seen since the days of Star Wars Galaxies. Yes there is PvP in the game, but it is about groups and teams versus other groups and teams. It is very likely that at some point you will be facing off against members of your own race in gladiatorial combat! It really opens up a lot of opportunities for the players both in terms of the game and, if they so choose, role playing.

Combat and Healing: The developers of Tera aim to make a much more involved combat system. There are no auto attacks here, there are no infinite stun locks, Tera’s tactical combat system gives players more control and constant involvement in the the game-play. No more point-and-click or just cycling through a palette of spells and skills, you really have to pay attention. This is not only true for damage dealers, but also for healers. They gave us two great examples on the show. One of their healers has a multiple target heal, it is activated by the player and held, the player is then required to select the target of the heals by clicking on them and then releasing the heal. Another can drop a series of orbs that will be used to heal players as they move around, requiring tactical placement and attention to the fight. They also are working to not make healers so fragile that they fall over in combat, but not so powerful that they just can’t be killed. They will have offensive capabilities so that they can hold their own in a fight, both PvE and PvP. One of their goals is to make healing more involved than playing Green bar Whack-a-Mole and to add some more excitement to that particular role. They aim to draw more people to the healing class through interest. The enthusiasm Brian Knox and Robin MacPherson had for the development of their combat system is rather infectious and they are excited to be able to showcase it in more detail soon.

Collision Between Players: Most MMOs don’t include collision in their games, you can run through bosses and other players. This reduces griefing in cities, and helps take a little stress off of planning some encounters and spaces. In Tera when a player is in a city there will be no collision, but when they step outside of the city there will be collision enabled. This is actually a pretty big move and adds a new level of complexity and strategy to combat, both PvE and PvP.  How many times has a boss gone waltzing through the tank and smack a healer dead in one shot? How many times in PvP does the healer or clothie just get burned down because no one can stop them? In Tera that is no longer the case. Tank types can intervene and try to place themselves in harms way to save a squishy. This also means that tank types in PvP are useful as tanks keeping players away from healers or fragile casters and giving their teammates time to react and adjust. Think about in WoW in a battle ground, when you see a warrior, druid, paladin or death knight you rarely will find them in tank gear and spec. It just isn’t useful because PvP in WoW is mostly about burning things down quickly. This also adds a level of strategy to PvP and PvE we haven’t seen before and will require people to work together in more involved ways. This can lead to varied and interesting strategies between different groups to accomplish the same goal.

Political and Economic System: Players make up the world for the most part in any game, we out number the NPCs and aside from driving auction house prices, have little impact on the world. The same leaders are in place and if you go to buy a consumable from an NPC the price largely stays the same. The developers of Tera have been pretty tight lipped on this system but I hear rumors that they may be explaining this in more detail soon. On the cast the stated that players will have a deeper impact on the economy of the game and that players will be able to be elected to offices for their server. Again no details are available yet, but if they do it like SWG did (but better) I think that will be an interesting change. Allowing players to have a deeper impact on the game and a larger investment in their time spent playing.

If you get a chance stop by their website and check out the trailer for the game, it has a glimpse at the UI as it stands right now and a view of some of the PvP action and starts to give you an idea of the size of the world they are creating.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Another of the years most highly anticipated games, Blizzard Entertainment has been hard at work to give us not only an expansion to a game we’ve come to love (or hate in some people’s cases), but to take time and change the game. We’ve been keeping up pretty heartily with things that are changing but let’s take a look at some of the highlights so far.

Stats and Class Abilities/Talents: They are re-balancing stats, pruning excess and making it easier for players to understand their characters. They are doing this not only with classes in mind, but also player roles. It will be easier than ever to know if a piece of gear is meant primarily for healers or DPS. While they are hard at work pairing down stats, they are also taking a look at all of the classes core abilities and talents in the game. In some cases their are some radical things in the works while others will receive some minor tweeks. We have had some information given to us from their twitter dev chat, as well as their class previews that were released not so long ago. New talents are being added and taken away, some find themselves converted into base abilities or trainable spells for the characters, and while they are at it they are adding a whole new talent system to the game called mastery. Rewarding players with key abilities and stat boosts as they invest points in their chosen roles. Tanks become better tanks passively by spending points, healers become better int heir roles and DPS do just that much more damage. This allows players a certain freedom while choosing talents and is working towards eliminating “cookie-cutter” specs and allow for more diversity.

New Races and Race/Class Combinations: They are adding two new playable races to the game just like they did in Burning Crusade. Worgen for the alliance giving them access to a monstrous race that is heavily steeped in the games lore, and Goblins for the horde with a very compelling story for the little green folk. While they were adding new races to the game they also decided to add new race and class combinations to the game. Trolls can become Druids, Humans can become Hunters and so forth. Some of these are based on lore (Dwarves in particular come to mind, but that is a post for another day) others are based on logic and the changing times of the game. Either way it opens up new avenues for players to enjoy the game and immerse themselves in the world the Blizzard has crafted.

New Graphics and a Changing World: Blizzard is simultaneously destroying the world we’ve known for the last 5+ years and making it more inspired at the same time. The game has been around for a long time and as a result the older content does not compare graphically to the newer content we’ve been seeing. Blizz is taking the time to update everything, from the polygon count and character models of the races, to the water and fire effects in the game. This is a huge leap forward in the ever escalating graphical war between game developers these days. While they are upgrading the technology of the game they are also doing a few things to the game world to add an feeling of epic grandeur to to the game breaking zones and cities and creating new areas to explore, bathing the world in fire and destruction and bringing new life to places long since thought dead, and in doing so they are expanding the lore of the game and bringing new life to an old world.

Changing Mechanics: When Wrath of the Lich King was released, tanking had been updated and changed around. Threat generation, tank DPS and the overall feeling of tanking has evolved since that expansions release. This time around Blizzard aims to change the way healers interact with the world. They want to make it a less stagnant role by moving it away from whack-a-mole and having each heal, each use of mana mean something and require not only thought and planning, but for the healer to pay more attention to the encounters and what is going on around them to try to predict where damage will be coming from. This includes adding spells, changing mana consumption and regeneration as well as a myriad of other factors we have yet to see. I think we will see the mechanics of healing change over the course of this expansion as much if not more so than tanking changed and was updated. Also by doing this they open up a multitude of avenues to re-invent boss fights and create new and dynamic encounters within the game that previously they could not do.

Scaling the Game: One of the biggest problems games that have been around a while have is scaling with the players. As you gain levels and powers older content loses its appeal and difficulty. Sometimes this can lead to players becoming bored as they outgrow the content put before them and start looking back on the previous content. Constantly adding new challenges is something that all MMOs do, but adding content that keeps you feeling as if you are in the midst of an epic world takes talent. Back in Vanilla we faced gods, elemental lords and children of dragon aspects and it felt epic. In BC we faced demon lords, specters of the worlds history, demon lords and NPCs that were super powerful and integral to the story and lore of the world, even after Vanilla it still felt epic. In Wrath we fight to face the architect of much of the worlds strife, and along the way face dragon aspects and a plethora of political intrigue as well as beginning to unravel the mysteries of Azeroth’s birth and forgotten lore, again even after BC the content moved in a steadily increasing arc. Now in Cataclysm we are working to uncover more about the titans that shaped our world and that still live somewhere among the multitude of worlds, are working to safeguard the world from a tormented Dragon Aspect that could have likely shrugged and destroyed Icecrown Citadel and crushed the Lich King. It seem that the arc continues as even now it already is starting to feel epic and it appears to be scaling properly with our ever increasing level and powers.

The game is still in alpha stages right now, but information is slowly trickling in and Blizzard has yet to reveal everything they have in store.

In The End: Needless to say the next year is going to be huge for the MMO industry, WoW is still the standard by which most people gauge an MMO, just like Everquest before it was the measure of the genre. The industry seems to no longer want to make another WoW, instead they seem to be working towards re-inventing the MMO genre. The best part is, in the end it is us the gamers that will benefit from this. We are at the horizon of a new age in gaming , everything is updating at an increasingly quick pace with new graphics, stories and game-play. This is an evolution of social gaming that has been long anticipated by the masses. In the past year alone we have had more choices in games of various shapes, sizes and types than ever before. I think there is a new arms race about to begin amongst the super powers of gaming, and I personally can’t wait to sample each of their wares and play with some shiny new toys.

So how about you? What do you think? Do you think that MMOs are going to evolve? What are you looking forward to the most? What would you like to see developers tackle? Are you excited for what is yet to come?

Well that is it for this week, until next time.

 

Pros and Cons of Recruiting the Raid Leader

Pros and Cons of Recruiting the Raid Leader

recruiting-raid-leader

This is the most important position you’ll ever fill throughout the entirety of your guild’s existence. In fact, it is so important, guilds will often disband if there isn’t a competent nor capable one. If working on farm content, raids can typically get by with zero to minimal guidance. Everyone runs by the same playbook and routine strategies are done without any problems (usually).

But once you hit progression content, you’re going to be stuck. If your raid is leaderless, it’s going to be painful and you need a plan.

So, do people really recruit raid leaders? In many cases, the guild leader and raid leader are one and the same. There are some exceptions (such as in Conquest where the positions are separated). But back to the original question: Do people recruit raid leaders?

Typically, most raiding guilds do not. Raid leaders are usually promoted from within. There are two basic things I look for when deciding on a raid leader. Without these two qualities, I skip and move on entirely.

  • Competency: Now this encompasses a wide range of leadership skills. I just lump them all together in here for the sake of simplicity. These are things including but not necessarily limited to skills, charisma, vision, tactics, and so forth. Basically, does this player have what it takes to lead and deliver the necessary results?
  • Desire: Do they actually want to do it?

And that second point is a super important question. That raid leading wannabe you want to quarterback your raids might be the perfect person to do it. But if she has no interest or desire, it’s not going to work.

Where do I go to get raid leaders from?

In a nutshell, either you have a sleeper raid leader within the guild who emerges to take the flag when things look grim or you look outward and see if you can fish up one.

Option 1: Promoting from within the guild

These are usually the players that have stood by you for a long time. The existing raid leader left a void to fill. There could be people from inside who are looking for a chance to step up and take a larger role within the guild. Or it could be that they sense the guild is on the road to failure unless someone takes over and that person wants to be the one to do it.

Again, your group may run into the problem of not having the right person who can do the job. A skilled player who is familiar with the game and their class might not have the appropriate leadership qualities. Or maybe they work in a management type job and doesn’t want to deal with that level of responsibility on their off time. If your search for a raid leader comes up short, you’ll need to come up with options. Try to figure out why that person isn’t a good candidate. You can’t change their desire. However, you might be able to help improve their competency.

Ultimately though, hope for the best. Be prepared for the worst.

Pros

Familiarity with guild culture

Players used to the leader’s personality

Intimately familiar with players and capabilities

Cons

Might not be anyone qualified from within to take the job

Potential prejudice or favoritism to specific players

Option 2: Recruiting outward

This isn’t exactly the most common approach. You don’t see many guilds advertising for a powerful position like this one either. I suspect the main reason would be on trust. Everyone in the guild has had time to get familiar with each other. Not only would you be introducing an outside player, your guild is being asked to follow their commands. That bond between raid and raid leader just isn’t there yet.

It’s like a new manager being brought in. No one really knows who she is. Is she lenient? A hard ass? Accommodating? By the book? No idea!

Don’t forget that having a new player calling the shots from outside the guild means they’re largely unaffected by any guild politics and will have a fresh perspective on raids. Of course, you never know what you’re getting. If you truly plan on going this route, raid leading applicants need to be screened a lot more carefully.

Pros

Fresh perspective and new ideas

Unaffected by any guild influences

Cons

Players have no idea how to react

Lack of initial guild chemistry

When my raid leader hung up his claymore months ago, I was in a tight spot. The short list in my mind for replacement raid leaders had no desire to do so simply due to other responsibilities. There were other players I had considered asking, but I didn’t know if they had the skills to pull it off. The only way to know for certain is to assemble a raid, pass them lead and say “Here ya go!” and one of the senior raiding guys who had been with us for a long time wanted to give it a shot.

It was a leap of faith. Either he would sink or swim. To my delight, he did a pretty darn good job after he shook off a few raid leading jitters during the first few days at the helm. But it was to be expected.

Had he not spoken to me beforehand, I would have had no choice but to turn outwards and look off guild for someone to help coach the raid. I can’t honestly think of any moment in my experience in the game where I’ve read about guilds specifically recruiting raid leaders that were outside their organization. What commonly happens is a player either gets the nod up from management to take over or the guild implodes due to lack of interest and focus. The latter is not an option for me. I’ll admit, it would have been a remarkably interesting process (and experiment) to start off raid leaderless and end up with a fully situated quarterback acquired outside the guild.

It’s like hiring a new coach for a team. Players are so used to certain plays and systems. The new coach comes in and throws things out the window.