The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

The Antidote for Fifty Enemies is One Friend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Will Not Carry You

I Will Not Carry You

My good buddy Matt just wrote an article likening himself to “Samwise the Brave”.  The noble friend, no matter the circumstances, who is willing to swallow his pride to bring up the team.  It’s admirable.  It’s considerate.  It’s exactly what I would do…

…for certain people.

A friend, alt or no alt, who needs some help getting geared.  Maybe it’s his/her first 80.  It’s all good, because I know this person.  I understand that he/she is not trying to take advantage of the time and effort that I’ve put into the game for selfish benefit.  I’m more than willing to lend my knowledge to help make them a better player.  Because let’s be honest, you’re training a new class of raider/gamer when you do this.  I, myself, have 2 friends that I’m leveling alts with.  I teach them about kill orders, focus-firing, and CCing.  My hope is to get them ready for hitting 80 so they can come into raids with us.

Likewise, a new 80 who lays it all out up front.  Totally honest about their gear or their skill, and isn’t a jackass about it.  Someone who is looking to the veterans for guidance.  An under-cap tank that wants me to heal them through the early heroics to get some basic gear.  A dps or two that may need the fight to go on longer than usual because they can’t quite pull their weight yet.  I have no problem taking longer on a fight because they’re working on their rotation and getting numbers up (though that’s also what Target Dummies are for).

However, I can’t heal stupidity. 

I’m serious.  I may try to throw heals, but my finger goes numb and can’t press the hotkey.  I could try to shield, but the mouse button turns to stone.  It’s immovable.  I won’t hear that “click”.

Flash Heal won’t work on a tank that tells me he’s Defense-capped, but admits later that he’s only at 510 Defense while trying to tank the upper-level heroics.  “I needed a healer to carry me through so I can get PhAT lEwtZ”, they may say.

Prayer of Mending just refuses to bounce to that one DPS player that ignores the “Targeting You!” over the mob’s head, or dismisses Omen because it’s too distracting.  With all of the “aggro drop” skills that are available, utilizing them might break the healing immunity that seems to have plagued my heal targets.  Assisting the tank takes 1.5 seconds.

My new battle is trying to Shield the player that constantly hollers out “GO” while the tank is marking targets, or while the healer is drinking, or the other DPS are figuring out any CC that may be needed.  It’s especially difficult when that player has the “Patient” title next to their name.  Apprently that’s just a front, like a pub is a front for the Dwarven Mafia.  My PW:Shield is simply answered with “Invalid Target”.

I always try to be a great player to run with.  I’m always willing to help, if needed.  If you need a fight explained, sure.  If you need some advice on a talent or gear choice, no problem.  However, if you find yourself a version of any of the latter three examples, then I have to apologize for the ineffectiveness of my heals.  I can’t control them!  =D

Cheers,

Raiding: It’s a Team Sport

3RAR_0215

This is a guest post by Thespius.

If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s actually having fun playing WoW. I wasn’t around for "Vanilla WoW", but I am a 3 year veteran of the game. WoW is my hobby. I take it seriously, but it’s still the place I go to "escape". I’ve been in leveling guilds, raiding guilds (hardcore and casual), PvP guilds, and guilds with friends. When it comes to raids/groups, I’ve learned one thing that I bring with me at all times:

"How do you make the best party? Simple. Bring friends."

I don’t mean only invite the exclusives (guildies, RL friends, etc). It’s called the WoW Community right? How does one become a "friend"?

I tend to gravitate towards people that are positive and contribute to the group/raid’s success, not take away from it and hurt morale. Anyone that’s been in a raid knows how much smoother it runs when everyone has a positive, goal-oriented mindset.

Yes, this can be tough through wipe-fests or newer players in the mix, but there are numerous ways to contribute to keeping morale and spirits high: Attitude, Willingness to learn/help, and Courtesy among them. If everyone involved puts in that little extra effort, it keeps the fun alive.

Attitude

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Don’t get pissed if you wipe. This has caused me to stop raiding with a group more than anything. Most of us aren’t in the "uber-leet" guilds and are going to have problems along the line of progression. The best way to always handle it, in my opinion, is to shrug it off:

"We lingered a little too long before starting Phase Two of Mimiron. It’s all good. Keep at it, and we’ll get it next time." (In my mind, even the top guilds could perform even better if everyone focused more optimistically than pessimistically.)

How do you make sure you’re making the best effort you can? Take the time to do it right the first time. The easiest way to waste time and boss attempts is to rush through them. Mark your targets, /readycheck, communicate. Our paladin tank (an ex-Army Ranger) always reminds us: "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Fast is deadly." Truer words were never spoken. Be focused, but not rushed.

Once you get that in place, HAVE FUN! It’s a game. We all play it to enjoy it. I love joking around in raids–as long as it doesn’t distract from the raid itself. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone may share your brand of humor/sarcasm. Pay attention to the reactions of others and be mindful of possibly "crossing the line". If you want the raid to continue to go well, avoid making comments that can make it go sour really quickly. I know I’m a stronger healer when I’m having fun.

Negativity is going to breed more negativity. Even an optimist like myself is going to fall victim to it. It’s easier to make 5 people mad than 2 people happy. I actively take up that challenge to keep the raid’s spirits up. That’s my "hard mode" – Get through the raid night without people getting up in arms. I tend to call myself the "Guild Politician." I try to keep everyone happy. I’m a healer in game, and a healer by nature.

Willingness to Learn/Help

We all had our first toon. Mine was a Human Warlock (the original "Thespius"). I stepped into the world of Northshire Abbey and had NO idea what a spell was, or Intellect, or even that I would eventually battle with Talents. After playing this game for 3 years, I’m still learning new things every day. I personally love how this game is constantly evolving. New mechanics introduced, new thoughts shared. In this, I know I’m not perfect.

Avoid elitism. Be confident, but not pompous. I think when it comes to healing, I’m pretty confident. Am I the best? No. Do I think I’ll ever be the best? No. Do I strive to BE the best? Of course. I do that by staying open-minded, listening to those around me, and paying attention to the online healing community.

If I encounter someone who seems to be struggling with kill order, or threat, or healing "rotations", I could choose one of two ways to proceed:

  1. [Party]: HAHA!!! THIS N00B DOESN’T USE RENEW!! HAHAHAHAHA WHAT A LOSER!!
  2. [Whisper]: Hey, I noticed you don’t utilize Renew a lot. Is there a reason why you chose to do that?

I hope everyone can see that the second option allows room to suggest a change rather than belittling the person for not knowing. Who knows? Their reasoning may be solid, and may open your eyes to a different style that you can build on. I hope that others would exercise the same kindness if I’m having trouble with something. Remember, optomism over pessimism.

Courtesy

This is where you can make a raid stronger or label yourself as "selfish". A chain is only as good as its weakest link, right? We’ll start with the basics:

Make sure you’re not going to have to go AFK a bunch of times. Obviously extenuating circumstances arise (family, roommates, etc.). Ready to go means a stock of snacks/drinks and an empty bladder. We’ve all been there.

If you do have to go AFK, make sure you have clear communication with the raid leader that you’re gone. Raid Leaders, make sure you’re paying attention (or delegating that responsibility) to chat/vent to see who needs a momentary break. If you MUST go AFK, try to save it for a good downtime in raid. If the whole raid is going to take 5 minutes, go restock your supplies and empty the bladder, even if you don’t NEED to. Get back as soon as you can, and make sure people know you’re back.

If you must leave for the rest of the night, give as much notice as you can. This allows the Raid Leader to decide how to proceed. If you consistently bail at the last moment, it’s likely you won’t be asked back. It also puts undue stress on the raid, dampening the mood. Remember, easier to promote negativity than positivity.

However, I try to be most considerate about loot/upgrades. I serve as my own loot council. If there’s someone in the group (yes, even a PUG) that could use the gear more than I could, I’ll gladly pass to them. That gesture is usually a huge comfort to people, and promotes the Team environment I’m trying to build. In our raids, we give PUGs equal shot at gear. In doing this, we’ve created a great little niche of people to pull from when we need subs. We’ve also gained a few new guild members because of it.

Throughout all of this, our guild and its members have the reputation of being the best to run with. Why?

  • Our attitude is positive and team-oriented. We’re out for everyone to succeed, not just the individual. It makes every run fun and memorable.
  • We take a proactive approach to helping those that need it. We don’t belittle people for not being familiar with a certain aspect of the game. It allows for people to be honest about not knowing something, or being open to suggestion.
  • We exercise courtesy with everyone we play with. People know that they’re not going to get "screwed over" in a Team Sport run. Anyone that contributes to the run’s success should be rewarded.

Just mind the bad apples in the game, because they are out there. Keep your heads up.