Politics in Your Guild?

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m Canadian and our current government in charge is literally called the Liberal Party of Canada. Our biggest “scandal” is the fact that our Prime Minister has decided to not revisit the electoral process (which was one of the platforms he ran on).

I don’t have a problem with political discourse in Warcraft. It happened during the Bush and Obama administrations and it’s only going to continue going forward. I’ve witnessed the odd (yet civil) back and forth about the Iraq War and it never devolved into name calling. But for whatever reason, it’s just more agonizing now when you’re bustling through Dalaran from your class hall to the flight master. It’s all non-stop memes and just seems to be highly magnified. It seems every WoW server is a Trump server based on General and Trade Chat metrics (and I’ve had to disable those channels because it’s just overwhelming).

What gets annoying is when discussion on the guild Discord starts leaning towards the news of the day about how something amazing Trump did or what liberals are pissed off about. I’ve often thought about interjecting and going “Actually…” but I’m still new in the guild, I have no desire to rock the boat, and I’m almost certain any attempt at a reasonable discussion is going to immediately be met with “LOL LIBRUL TEARS”. Now, I don’t for a second believe the entire guild is like that and I think the WoW population is large enough to the point where it can sort of reflect the real national demographic. To me, the game is an escape from reality. It’s a shame though because they’re fun players to be around when focused on Mythic Dungeons and the sort. It’s hard enough finding a guild with the right times, mentality, and progression. Last thing that needs to happen is for guilds to undergo some kind of philosophical or political test.

So for the time being, I stay focused on what I need to do. Raiding shouldn’t be partisan but it does feel demoralizing that I would be thought of as a lesser individual even though I’m healing what I need to (and can) without compromising myself and dying all the time. I’ll just have to treat the more outspoken individuals as the crazy uncles around Thanksgiving.

Anyway, if you’re out there reading this and you’re experiencing something similar, I’m right there with you. I sympathize with you and I’m just a northern neighbour.

Into the Nighthold

Hey team, it’s certainly been a while. I’m back into the grind again. Actually, I managed to sign with a guild shortly after New Year’s. I found the guild on Facebook in one of the Warcraft recruiting groups which just happened to be on my server and their progression was close enough to where I left off. Personally, the name doesn’t do much to inspire me and it reminds me of some vanilla names, but the group seems friendly and focused enough.

It’s called… *whispers* <Ninja Pirate Monkeys>.

Like, how can a monkey be simultaneously a Ninja and a Pirate? It defies all guild naming conventions.

Let’s talk about the guild for a moment because this is the first time in maybe 10 years where I can be just a player. After about a solid month of retooling, we’re currently 1/10 Mythic in Nighthold! That’s not bad for a two-night, six hour guild (with optional raid nights during the week or weekend depending on who’s around). Then again, Mythic Skorpyron feels a tad easier than Heroic Gul’dan. The loot system’s handled using EP/GP which is new for me. Only loot system’s I’ve experienced before was loot council and DKP (way back in Burning Crusade) so this was an interesting change of pace for me. The nature of World Quest drops, Mythic Dungeons, and Titanforged puts less of an emphasis on raid gear because of the multiple avenues of gear sources. This has the added effect of allowing me to be much more selective on rewards that drop because I might not need an item if I have something close to it from a Mythic Dungeon, for example. Obviously, we can’t forget the lucky tactical usage of seals for extra rolls.

The healing corps at present consists of two Resto Druids, a Holy Priest (me), and a Paladin. I’m tempted to reinvest into Discipline because there’s times where I don’t seem to make a dent compared to the throughput capability of Resto Druids (but my AP’s only at 46 right now).

Every guild seems to have that one kryptonite class. You know, the one class where they can’t seem to recruit anyone for it or if that class does join, they leave within a week or two? In this case, that class seems to be Mages. I haven’t had anyone make food in ages. So yes, we’re recruiting.

One thing I’d like to see of is more structure. I do wish Angry Assignments were used more often for different bosses. Hell, I’d use it just for myself to write down notes for my own use but I can’t seem to edit it because I’m not a rank that has the permissions.

Nighthold Thoughts

How about some thoughts on Nighthold now that it’s been out for about 4 weeks? It’s nice to be in a non-dark, well-lit instance especially one that takes place in a part of a city. As for the overall difficulty of the instance, it seems to be just right. I haven’t progressed too far into Mythic yet so it’s difficult to say for certain how the rest of it is.

Skorpyron: Not that memorable. Your basic introductory boss. The mythic version is much more engaging with the coloured spikes and varied consequences of hiding behind different ones. A little dull for me to heal.

Chromatic Anomaly: Interesting change of pace especially with the slow time and fast time built in. Throws off my timing especially during slow time. Otherwise, straight forward and tolerable healing-wise.

Trilliax: It’s the beam phase. Go too fast one way and Trilliax can change directions and before you know it, a quarter of the rate is lightsaber’d in half with no chance of recovery. Thankfully, encounter itself seems to be forgiving. I like jumping on the Roombas before they detonate. Fun!

Aluriel: Fun to heal! Frost phase is the most tense for me just due to the number of things that can go wrong. Sometimes a person who just got a bomb collides with someone who had the bomb for much longer so the timing’s off. Ideally, I wish players with equal timings would run into each other instead.

Krosus: Also fun to heal. Nice sense of urgency applied with the gradual reduction in raid platform. Aside from the occasional player getting sniped from his beams, there’s a nice amount of damage that just gets thrown around with the slams.

Tichondrius: Challenging encounter. This isn’t one I look forward to at all. Always worried about missing the purple pool buffs because it seems to spawn on the green fire. Collisions can be scary especially if players just run in to detonate them before the raid is at a sustainable health level.

High Botanist Tel’arn: Fun to heal! Multi-phase fight means you need to keep track of different abilities that are occurring at different times. Slow buildup that crescendos into a chaos filled final phase.

Star Augur Etraeus: Actually, I really like the special effects and the background of the encounter with the different backdrops and skies. Visually stunning. I appreciate it more during moments where I can safely take a moment to look up. Though, those moments aren’t often

Grand Magistrix Elisande: More dependant on your DPS nailing the blue and red elementals at the right time to ensure that you have the necessary slows and buffs for the rings.

Gul’dan: One of the better end bosses I’ve experienced. Lots of awareness needed with the eyes. Placement matters so you don’t get thrown off the ledge. Reminds me of the ol’ Lich King encounter. The final phase and the dealing with the souls is one of the more tense parts of a fight I had to heal through. First phase is a little annoying though.

During one of the Elisande kills, I found myself with the Ephemeral Paradox trinket.  It seems to only work on the following healing spells:

  • Holy Priest: Heal
  • Discipline Priest: Shadow Mend
  • Holy Paladin: Holy Light
  • Resto Druid: Healing Touch
  • Resto Shaman: Healing Wave
  • Mistweaver Monk: Effuse

Yeah, casting Heal for that mana return takes just way too much time. You have to make a calculated risk on whether that extra second on Heal is worth it. In a raid group with Resto Druids, by the time the heal lands, the Rejuvs will already have done their jobs. Any player with lower health (like 25% health) generally needs healing right now and Heal isn’t fast enough nor strong enough to get that wounded player back to a healthy level. In my opinion, for a regen trinket, it seems pretty weak. I just need to get lucky on a high Titanforged Amalgam’s Seventh Spine drop.

Feels off to be writing again. But, it’s like riding a bike.

Back to Free Agency — 4/7 Mythic Just not Enough

The first three months of any guild’s inception are usually the toughest. If they can stick around and be cohesive for that long, then the guild’s odds of making it through for the rest of the expansion are usually in their favour.

Unfortunately, I am disappointed to say that Integrity stopped just two weeks shy of that benchmark.

Losing 1-2 players a week due to attrition is manageable. Losing 3-4 every so often is like losing 20% of your team and that’s usually much more difficult to recover from. Though the GM tried his best, he lacked the drive to keep going and had already burned out — Not necessarily due to the game, but due to the players.

The Post Mortem

If there’s a case study to be had here, the underlying lessons here would be to set and manage player expectations.

It definitely seemed that most players had their own idea of what direction the guild should go and how things should be handled. To a GM, that can be overwhelming to parse out what’s relevant and what isn’t. Here’s two of the most common opinions that I heard about:

  • “We should be raiding Mythic on Tuesdays and not Heroics.”Mythic requires 20 players, period. If 20 isn’t an option, then Mythics isn’t an option. Second, players can still benefit from trinkets from select bosses. In the weeks leading up until now, it was only a 90 minute investment from first pull to finalizing loot distribution from Xavius (out of a 9 hour raid week). Granted, we disenchanted perhaps 3 out of 4 items that dropped but that didn’t mean there weren’t legitimate upgrades. Once one player was done with Heroic and no longer needed anything else, they seemed to possess a “Screw ’em, I got my loot” mentality which is dangerous and does not align with a guild first philosophy.Answer: My solution here would be to take a close look at what bosses players needed and target them exclusively. Ursoc and Illy trinkets were still in high demand. Going after Nythendra, Ursoc, and Illy and then backing out and switching to Mythics right away would have been an adequate compromise between those hellbent on progression and those who still needed upgrades. We did this too late though. Even then, when we did, it wasn’t enough. I would have banked Heroics for later in the week as an option if we didn’t have enough for Mythics.
  • “That player sucks, kick them.”Vendettas appear to be a real thing in a virtual game. Personally, my belief is that a player needs to worry about their own performance first and foremost before examining someone else. If a player’s performance is lacking, it’s up to the leadership to try to address it. But at the same time, the raid is subject to the reality and logistics of Mythic raiding — If you have exactly 20 players, and one of them isn’t firing on all cylinders, dropping one of them means you’re not going to be able to do Mythic at full strength unless you want to pursue it short handed. It’s almost always better to try to address and identify player performance problems because the cost of finding a new player, training them up, and gearing them to the appropriate level can be just as costly.Answer: Removal from a guild should only be used for the most egregious of offences. However, I am of the opinion that if a player is having an off night, telling them to take a seat for maybe 2 or 3 pulls to get their stuff together is not a bad idea. Consistency is a huge part of the game. If you give the ball to Steph Curry, you expect him to make those 3 pointers on a night to night basis. If the same player is the first to die on every pull when they normally don’t, that’s a problem. Steps should be silently taken to continue recruiting but the guild can’t advance without fresh players coming into the organization. We didn’t do a good enough job of recognizing  and addressing that. This lead to player frustration because of the perception that we didn’t see or want to do anything about it. The reality is that we did see it, but we were handcuffed due to the logistics and restrictions of Mythics. In most cases, it seems that of the three important attributes of a player, they only possess two of them: Attendance, game awareness, and high DPS.

Next Move

I’m officially a free agent. I’m heading out of town over the Thanksgiving weekend and will be back early December. I hear Chicago’s nice this time of year (and I’m really stoked to watch Hamilton). Once I’m back home, I can get back to guild hunting and pounding pavement. Faction changing is off the table so I’d rather stay Alliance. Weekday evenings strongly preferred. Realistically, I’m at the point in my raiding career where I’m okay with not having to be a starter. I find myself caring less and less about being one of the first to secure a progression kill. Obviously if I can help contribute, I’d be delighted to do that. I’m just as comfortable coming in later on a farm night or to help provide healing relief for a healer that needs to take a night. As long as I still get to participate and see the kill at all, right?

Anyone have a lead for an 878 Alliance Holy Priest?

Bear-ly Making It: Mythic Ursoc and Legion Time Management

I sat out on our first night of attempts two weeks ago. We had a Discipline Priest, Holy Priest (me), Monk, Paladin, and a Shaman available in the lineup. But we deduced that five healers would be too much and we didn’t think we had the DPS or throughput to try with three healers. I was the odd man out and decided to take a seat. It proved fruitful as the team was able to push Ursoc down repeatedly to enrage and just beyond but couldn’t muster the damage to close him out. Sadly, that night ended but we knew we were close. Another weekend of Mythics dungeons and another night of Emerald Nightmare Heroic clears should’ve made up the difference.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday and we had the same issue occur again with five healers available. However, we were stretched thin as many of our starters were away (as many as seven). This time, I brought up that my Ret Paladin was available at a serviceable 864 item level with that delicious Holy Power generating ring! Some opening pulls were conducted and to my delight, the Paladin was competitive and keeping up with everyone else. Now we were getting closer. Ursoc’s health was reaching the single digit percentages.

Sure enough, we bagged ourselves a giant bear (who’d make a great rug for the class hall, by the way, though I imagine you Druids would frown greatly at that). While I was sad I wasn’t able to get that accomplishment on my Priest, I’m happy that I was able to get in on it with my Paladin.

Legion’s Time Management Problem

All of this was partially possible because I managed to invest just the right amount of time in developing my Paladin. Think about all the activities in the game right now which can both contribute to artifact power and a legendary drop chance:

  • Heroic dungeon daily (especially as a healer with the bonus)
  • Mythic dungeons (and keystones)
  • World quests
  • Raid finder
  • Normal raid
  • Heroic raid
  • Mythic raid
  • PvP

My guild has rotated normal raids out of the rotation so now I have to look for those outside our schedule (though I admit, as a healer, it’s quick to find groups for that). I don’t PvP so that’s out of the question. My Priest will knock out as many artifact power quests as possible regardless of which faction emissary is active. I can queue into raid finder whenever. Thankfully, Heroic and Mythic raids are still in the schedule but with the impending release of Trials of Valor, I don’t know how long that will last.

On the other hand, the Paladin is a little harder to upkeep and maintain. On average, it takes me around 8 attempts before I find any Mythic dungeon group that will take her. World quests are reduced to just faction emissaries. Raid finder is on the list for easy Artifact power accumulation. Heroic and Normal raids are a little tougher to break into.

By then, my entire weekend is gone.

Granted, just about all of the activities up there are optional. But if you want your character to remain relevant and competitive, you have to be able to keep up. This is doubly true if you’re attempting to maintain a second character.

I should hope that no one is complaining of boredom and a lack of things to do this expansion. I’ve seen some community feedback on the desire for more single player stuff because of the refusal to do dungeons, raids, group quests, and other content.

“I’m bored because I don’t want to do any of these activities in the game.”

I mean, I guess that’s fair but on the other hand, it is a multiplayer game. A Star Wars: the Old Republic form of quests in the World of Warcraft? We did get a step in that direction with the class halls and the Suramar questline has been expanded. Doesn’t appear to be enough though. Maybe a break from WoW is needed or something because it doesn’t seem to be hitting the spot anymore? Anyway, more on this later.

BlizzCon in just a few short days. Man, this year blew by. I can’t seem to find the awesome Panda badge Cadistra made for me last year. Where did it go?!

Matt’s Razor: Where Second Kills are Harder than the First

It’s been over a year and a half since I last stepped foot into any sort of Mythic raid. Nervous? A little. But jumping back into Mythic raids is like getting back on the bike after shelving it for the winter. You can’t slack off, you can’t coast, and your decision making can’t suffer. We did get manage to get Mythic Nythendra within a day of real attempts and ended with a handful of players alive at the end. Unfortunately, as I always say, the hardest part of any Mythic boss kill is the sophomore kill — That is, killing a boss the second time. I don’t know what it is about bosses, but taking down a boss the following week almost always seems to result in more attempts than the first kill. After that though, it becomes more routine. Is it just pre-game jitters? Is it the expectation to kill a boss not quite on farm is so high that players just get in their own heads? People playing more careless just because they’ve already killed it and gloss over the moves that led to the kill in the first place?!

I call it Matt’s Razor — The second kill is always harder than the first despite having secured it before. You can let me know if your raid can prove or disprove it.

The next move is to challenge Elerethe and she’s going to be a tougher cookie than most. We’re almost at the point where we can consistently play through all of the first platform without casualties. Cooldowns have been timed for the first and second, giant green circle run away ability along with the Ji’Kun flappy wing ability.

You can tell my memory for ability names is lacking.

What’s stalling us right now is the transition and execution over to the second platform. We’ve split the raid into two groups to eat the winds, but we’re still getting shredded. I suspect we just need more looks to get accustomed to it. Sometimes, you just need to pull the boss because you can’t explain it any harder.

Hooray for finally unlocking the third golden trait in T’uure. I kinda went backwards though ever since the game came out as I picked up Light of T’uure last out of all the traits. Whoops.

Double hooray for lucking out and getting my second Legendary with the belt, Al’maiesh, the Cord of Hope. You can all hate me now.

Triple hooray for getting the Shadow artifact appearance off Illy. Now I fully expect to not get drops for the next month.

I should be at a casino. What am I doing playing this game?

Mythic dungeons

Speaking of Mythics, I wanted to touch upon a different set of Mythics. I can easily heal through dungeons at the Mythic 6 or 7 level but I start struggling at anything higher than that. I’m not sure if that’s a me thing or if it’s a Holy thing (or a combination thereof). The perception is that I (or Holy) has to work much harder than some other healing classes for the same result. If I were to put groups together, I’d almost always take a Resto Shaman in largely due to Wind Shear and Capacitor totem. Holy Priest has the option of a stunnable Chastise or an AoE knockback with a slow.

Playing on my Ret Paladin has been tons of fun though! It’s just hard to get into groups as well :(.