Matticast Episode 16 – Adopting Change, Unnecessary Heroics, and Patch 4.1

On Episode 16 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

- Adopting Change

- Are Heroics Necessary?

- Parting Ways

- 4.1 For Healers

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

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Matticast Episode 4

Welcome to Episode 4 of The Matticast. This week Matt, Borsk, Kat, and Brian discuss:

  • How to keep your raid team intact when progression stalls.
  • How to motivate raiders to be better than average
  • The listener topic this week tackles difficult boss encounters

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topic, and be sure to checkout and participate in the listener topic every Wednesday.

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

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Podcast Topic: What Dungeon/Raid Bosses Are Causing You Trouble?

Each week on Matticast we will be featuring a topic driven by our audience. You can submit your comments on this post, or e-mail us with your thoughts. You can even send us an audio clip (mp3 format please). This is your chance to have your say on what we discuss on World of Matticus. Also don’t forget, if you have general questions you’d like answered on the show, you can send them our way. Remember we record on Sunday nights, so get your thoughts in before then!

This week we are looking for the Dungeon/Raid encounters that are troubling your guild. Having healing issues on Vanessa Van Cleef, DPS troubles on Magmaw, need help with phase transition on Nef? let us know what bosses are troubling your guild at this point and we will do our best to help ya out.

Dual Unto Others

In a perfect world, we would all be fortunate enough to run with only our guildmates in Heroics and find that perfect unison of one tank, three DPS and one healer that could create that magic and that would ensure those hours of farming gear and Justice Points are nothing short of a blissful experience.

In reality, some have an easier go of it than others. Depending on who is online and who is already spoken for, you may find yourself being one of those stragglers who is forced to throw your lot in with the Dungeon Finder to get what you need. As DPS, the queue times can be unbearable. Not to mention the fact that PuG Heroics already have such a small chance of success that just downing the first boss can be seen as a huge victory.

Some enterprising DPS have decided to use their dual specs to become something that would allow them a much easier time of finding random groups to farm Heroics with – those of tanks and healers. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, this can create an even more painful experience for all involved. So, without further ado, here are my tips on how to use your dual spec to the fullest while trying to do Heroics.

Lesson #1:  Do Your Homework

If you’re planning on playing the part of a tank, healer or even DPS, when that’s not your natural role, you need to at least make sure that you can at least perform said role at an adequate level for the content that you are about to do. You won’t get very far if you can’t generate or hold aggro, if you can’t keep 4 other people and yourself alive or if you are not putting out the DPS to kill things fast enough.

Take a look at what others of your desired class/spec are doing, in terms of talents and rotations. Understand the mechanics and what the abilities associated with that spec are used for. I would put in just as much time learning your dual spec as you would put into your main spec, for something like this. If you’re not going to do it well enough to help your group succeed, then you’re basically doing all of this for nothing and that’s not good!

Lesson #2:  Look The Part

Once you have gotten into the right mindset to really understand the role that you’re trying to become, you then need to make sure that you are just as convincing on the outside as you are on the inside.

If you’re planning on becoming a temporary tank, make sure you have pieces that are fitting for a tank and that you have a generous amount of health and other attributes (like dodge and parry) to be able to take some hits.

If you’re aiming to become a healer, make sure you have pieces that a healer would wear. Anything with Spirit on it is going to be assumed as something that a healer would want, so make sure you have plenty of that on you. Make sure you’re not wearing any trinkets or using any meta gems that would be terribly obvious as DPS caster only.

If you’re in the rare bind of being a tank or healer attempting to DPS, possibly due to too many others like yourself in the guild needing upgrades and not enough runs to support them, make sure you are hit capped or as close to it as possible. If you play a class with CC capabilities, get comfortable using those abilities and become familiar with the symbol assigned to you for marking purposes. Watch your aggro and focus fire the correct mobs down, when it’s time to do that.

Lastly, make sure your gems and enchants go with the role that you are trying to perform, too.

Lesson #3:  Stick to the Script

It can be mighty tempting to want to fall back into your normal mindset in a group. You see that death knight made some strange talent choices or that the feral druid is letting his bleeds fall off too soon. You have experience. You know these things!

Except you’re there to tank. A little advice or a friendly suggestion is fine. Getting into blow by blow explanations and possibly even arguing with them over how things are done is purely bad form.

This rule seems exceptionally true for healers that place themselves into a DPS role. It can be tempting when you see life bars going down to stop what you’re doing and throw heals in rapid succession to save the day. That’s not why you’re there, though. Granted, if the run is on the unmistakable path to a wipe and you feel that you can possibly help save the day, by all means. I would expect any DPS to do the same thing. That should be a rare occurance and not a habit.  However, if you can cleanse something (such as a curse, poison or disease) that your healer cannot cleanse, then by all means, cleanse away!

Things not dying fast enough means the fights go on longer than they need to, which taxes the healing and can cause other problems. In short, do what you came to do, unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

Lesson #4:  Come Clean

There are some professions where you’re not immediately panicked by seeing someone wearing a trainee tag. The cashier at the grocery store. The busboy at a restaurant. That kind of thing.

Then there are those where you really don’t want to know that this is somebody’s first time doing a particular task. The person drawing your blood at the doctor’s office. The pilot flying the airplane you are on. The minute you discover they may not have that much experience is exactly when you start to doubt you’re in good hands.

With that in mind, feel free to state that this may not be your primary spec, but that you do feel confident enough to play it and don’t be afraid to ask for pointers.  This will go over a lot better than people assuming that you are a main spec tank, healer or DPS when you clearly are not.

Lesson #5:  Don’t Quit Your Day Job

At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you have to. You may enjoy what you’re doing, out of necessity or because it started to grow on you. But, remember why you’re really there. You’re there to get a shot at some gear that nobody else can use or to farm the Justice Points you need to buy better gear, so you can be ready to raid that much faster.

Do not get so attached to your dual spec that you start insisting on doing it in your actual raids. Do not think that because you made the most of your dual spec to get through a difficult time that you automatically know more about that class/spec than those that have been doing it since a previous expansion.

In closing, the journey towards becoming the best you can be so that you’re ready to raid should be an enjoyable one. You should be looking forward to watching your stats grow and your abilities hit harder or heal for more and it shouldn’t be something that you dread doing.

Slipping into a role that you don’t normally perform is not for everyone. Some people would rather deal with longer queue times than put themselves in a situation they’re not entirely comfortable with. Listen to your gut. If you know deep down that you don’t feel confident in the idea of tanking or healing (or even DPSing) or you know you don’t have the desire to put in the work to really give it your best shot, don’t do it.

Stick to what you know and what you enjoy. If you can still do that, while ensuring you are on the right path to being the best you can be, then you’re doing the right thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

It came from the PUG: Tanks but no tanks.

The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.

This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.

What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.

Day 1 of heroic ready healer

Throne of Tides: First boss

The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.

Day 2 of heroic ready healer

Halls of Origination: First Pull

The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.

Day 3 of heroic ready healer

Grim Batol: First boss

Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.

This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.

Day 5 of heroic ready healer

Heroic Deadmines

This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.

Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.

Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a

That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

It Came From the P.U.G.!: Why I Hate Gundrak

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

I really really hate heroic Gundrak. Not because it’s hard or that there is loot there I want but can’t seem to get to drop, but because it seems like every time I queue for a random, I get it. I’ve done it at least 40 times, and the vast majority of those times have been through the LFD tool. It’s not a bad instance I’m just tired of seeing the insides of it, and I think this last time my group was agitated as well.

It started out pretty normal, warrior tank, ret paladin, mage a boomkin and me. Pretty solid setup, everyone had gear that hovered around at least ICC10 so I figured it would be a nice, quick run. In and out of Gundrak, I’m all for that! Down the first boss like normal and we’re moving onto the second boss when something odd happens. The boomkin pulls threat off the tank on a trash pull. Tank re-establishes aggro and we move onto the next one. The boomkin pulls aggro once again but this time the tank doesn’t grab aggro. I heal the boomkin like crazy and keep him from dying and everyone stops after the trash is downed.

Boomkin: What the hell man? I wasn’t even doing anything to pull aggro! Did you forget how to tank?

Warrior: If you learned how to manage your aggro this wouldn’t be an issue.

Boomkin: Yeah but you just sat there while I was dying! WTF is wrong with you? Learn how to tank

The warrior runs forward and pulls ALL of the trash leading up to the second boss and then shadow melds as the boomkin is in the middle of AoE. All the mobs go hell for broke after the boomkin. I toss an Earth Shield on the druid and nuke heal until the pack is down.

Boomkin: Seriously? What the hell is wrong with you?

Warrior: Shouldn’t try telling me how to tank then

Me: Fine, fuck it. If you two are going to fight, I’ll just tank.

I switch to my PvP gear, run in and ES myself while frost-shocking the boss. I nuke heal myself and keep shocking and lava bursting on the boss.

the DPS starts in slowly and I’m holding aggro pretty well and eventually the tank runs in and grabs aggro off of me. I let him take it and switch back to healing. The boss is downed and we are all sitting there.

Me: So, we done fighting? I already hate this place, I just want to be done.

Ret Pally: Dunno, but watching a healer tanks was pretty funny. Think you could do that again?

Me: Sure, unless mr. tank and mr. boomkin want to play nice so we can just be done.

Warrior: Fine, proved your point.

Boomkin: Fine.

Rest of the run is done without any hiccups, no one is openly aggressive to each other and the rest goes smoothly.

The sad thing about this isn’t that the fight happened, but the fact that it is not the first time something like this has happened. I’ve seen players go at each other’s throats for seemingly small things or mistakes. It boggles my mind how people playing a GAME for FUN can have such a stick up their arse and be so aggressive. This has happened at least 3 times this past week, not me tanking (although I do threaten it from time to time), but the bickering. If you can’t play well with others, you shouldn’t be playing a game that relies on OTHER PEOPLE to do part of it, or just avoid that part of it.

So how about you? Any good pug stories this week? Any horror stories?

Well that’s it for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Heroic Entitlement?

Heroic Entitlement?

The place: Utgarde Keep.  The time: I don’t know, there are no windows in the beginning.  The people:  Me, the Resto Shaman.  A Mage, a Death Knight, a Ret Paladin, and a Prot Warrior.  Five players with an intertwined fate.  The goal: Frost Emblems.  The affliction: a tank’s self-appointed sense of entitlement.  Follow me now as I walk you through not one, not two, but three tanks that made this potentially 15-minute run a one-hour nightmare.

Chapter One – Prot Warrior

Everyone steps into the entrance.  Utgarde Keep.  Relatively easy, right?  Of course.  This is a cake-walk, even for a newly-minted 80.  Speaking of which, the Mage was brand new.  Supposedly, he also has a fully-geared main, which I could tell by the way he was talking.  We start to buff.

I obviously put up Earth Shield on the Prot Warrior, and set up my totems for a mostly-melee group with a DK.  I always try to be more conscious of totem selection with regard to group composition.  The Mage throws up Arcane Brilliance, and the Paladin starts putting Blessing of Kings on everyone.  The 10-minute version, not Greater Blessing of Kings.  Cue the temper tantrum from the Warrior:

Warrior: “What the fuck, dude? Give me 30min Kings”

Paladin: “Sorry, I’m out of reagents.  When the 10min falls off, I’ll rebuff.”

Warrior: “No, I’m not pulling until you give me 30min Kings.”

Mage: “It’s no big deal, he’ll just rebuff.”

Warrior: “STFU noob, GIVE ME 30 NAO, OR YOU CAN WAIT FOR ANUTHR 30 MINUTES 4 A NEW TANK.”

Me: “Hey hey, let’s all get along.  We’ll be done with this whole instance in 10 minutes.  No need to get uppity there, Mr. Tank.”

{Warrior pulls the first 4 groups, then teleports out of the dungeon.  Paladin throws up Righteous Fury, I spam Healing Wave, and we survive.}

To the Warrior: Congratulations! Your two-year-old temper tantrum just earned you a 15-minute Deserter Buff.  In the upcoming patch, it’ll cost you 30-minutes.  Beggers can’t be choosers.  We would all rather wait in the queue than put up with immaturity.

Chapter Two – Feral Druid

The four of us sit around and chat for a while, waiting for a new tank.  All four of us are actively engaged in conversation about alts, specs, our raiding experience.  All-in-all, a very nice group of people.  A Feral Druid joins the group and zones in.  We all send our greetings.  No words, he/she just starts pulling.  It’s fine.  I can keep up.

We get to the room with all the drakes.  The Druid proceeds to pull every mob in the whole room.  Now, my Resto Shaman is pretty decently geared.  I’ve two-healed 10man Marrowgar before.  A chain-pulling Druid is the least of my worries.  However, these mobs do a knockback, which puts a dent in everyone’s DPS when there’s multiple of them.  Melee are constantly running back in to get one hit on a mob before they’re knocked back by another.  My two cents about this:

  1. No need to pull each and every mob if we’re all here for Frosties.
  2. The constant combined knockbacks add more time than just pulling them in packs of 2s.

Also, in the Druid’s mastubatory aggro bath, everyone’s getting flame-breath’d.  I’m confident in my skills as a healer, so everyone lived, but is that chest-thumping display of “tanking” really necessary?  Are we all supposed to fawn over his/her amazing “skills”?  (Don’t you all like my “quotes”?)

 My issue comes with fighting the first boss, Prince Keleseth.  During the Love is in the Air event, Prince Keleseth drops the Bouquet of Red Roses, necessary for the Meta Achievement, Fool for Love.  The roses drop, and the Druid clicks Need, promptly followed by this jewel of a phrase:

“If you guys want me to keep tanking, you’ll pass on the roses.”

Now, I’m not sure if the Mage didn’t see that or decided to click Need anyways, but the Mage won and got his achievement.  Not two seconds later, the Druid drops the group without saying a word.

To the Druid: Dude, there are plenty of other places to get the roses.  This was the second day of the event.  Plenty of time left.  You don’t get any bonuses for speed (insert: “That’s what she said”).

Chapter Three – Prot Paladin

Well, we wait for another unimportant length of time, laughing about how ridiculous people are being today.  Our new tank is a Prot Paladin, and zones in to join us.  We let him know right off the bat that the first boss is down, and our first two tanks had attitude problems.  He/She asks what happened.  We give the whole truth, and the Prot Pally laughs.  Pulls incoming.

Things go swimmingly.  No aggro issues, and very considerate.  Only thing I notice is that as a Resto Shaman, I have more health than this Prot Paladin (~23k Health).  No big deal.  Everyone started somewhere, right?

We get to the final boss, and the fight goes along really well.  Let me just say that one point, way before the final boss, the Mage says, “I really hope Annhylde’s Ring drops.”  Sure enough, the ring drops.  We all congratulate the mage, seeing as he’s the only spell-caster there that could use the ring.  The DK, the Ret Pally, and I all pass.  The Mage clicks Need, and we wait.  The Prot Pally has yet to (we hope) pass on the loot.

Nope.  After about 15 seconds of silence, the Prot Pally clicks Need and wins the ring.  In my experience, it’s usually polite to ask permission to roll on something that’s not your main spec.  I’m sure that if the Prot Pally had mentioned something about wanting the ring for a Holy spec (I don’t know if that ring would be good or not), we would’ve had little issue.  When the Mage confronted the Paladin, this was the reply:

“u shud be lucky i tankd 4 u at all”

And promptly left the group. 

To the Paladin: If I would’ve known you were a d-bag, then ‘u shud be lucky i heald u at all.’  A simple, “Hey, can I roll Need for my off-spec?” or “Hey, Holy is actually my main spec, so if it’s alright, I’d like to click Need.” would’ve saved you some trouble, and saved me the trouble of writing your chapter.

Epilogue

I know that as a healer, it’s relatively easy for me to get groups, but that doesn’t give me the right to go flaunt my “huevos” as God’s gift to LFG.  It could very well be that I just got a really bad sample of the community within one Heroic Dungeon, but it got me thinking.  Do we, as healers, feel a sense of entitlement with regard to our role in a dungeon?  Do we feel more entitled to certain benefits because we are one of two roles in short supply?  How about this:

  • If there’s no tank, the healer dies.
  • If there’s no healer, the tank dies.
  • If there’s no DPS, the mob never dies.

Granted, that’s very generally speaking, but everyone in that group deserves every chance at what drops.  No need for anyone to feel “holier than thou.”

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

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Image Courtesy of Geico Insurance

The patch 3.3.2 includes a few amendments to Heroic Dungeons and how they’re played.  Entire packs of mobs are being deleted.  Bosses abilities are being shortened or being made less frequent.  Fight mechanics are being made easier.  In essence, Blizzard is giving us more opportunities to blow through these dungeons with little to no effort.

I’m an educator at heart.  Seeing as though my life “endgame” is to be at the front of a classroom, it’s important to me that people learn the skills necessary to go through life.  How to write a proper business letter, how to analyze a novel or article, or how to put your thoughts in order and present them in a proper argument.

How does this translate into WoW?  Teaching players how to follow a kill order, how to manage small and large cooldowns, or how to CC a mob.  Remember some of the cardinal rules of this game that we’ve all learned?

  • If the ground changes, get out of it. Pretty standard stuff, except for rare circumstances
  • If the boss starts spinning with his huge weapon, move away from it.
  • If a really annoying mob is causing havoc, CC it. If possible, avoid DoT’ing it.

We learn these the hard way.  And, we have to utilize and execute what we’ve learned in the current content.  Ground changes?  Sounds like Rotface’s ooze pools on the ground.  Spinning mobs?  Marrowgar.  The need to CC a mob?  The mind controls in Lady Deathwhisper.

“You are not prepared!”

With the level of difficulty amongst the endgame content, more and more groups are getting frustrated with the lack of skill within the community of 80s.  I equate this to meeting people in the real world that don’t demonstrate even a sliver of mastery of their native language (slang and colloquialisms are fun choices but shouldn’t be your foundation).  How do you get through school without being able to speak or write properly?  How do you get to start raiding without having a knowledge of the fundementals?

Take Ahn’kahet (AKA “Old Kingdom”) for example.  Jedoga Shadowseeker is the boss that floats in the air, summoning an add to sacrifice.  If she succeeds, she hits a temporary enrage.  I remember wiping to that when people first started doing heroics.  The tank had to manage a cooldown; the healer was spamming big heals. This fight demonstrated the need for DPS to turn up the heat to down the add.  Even I as a healer would Smite/Lightning Bolt the add.

Now, it seems that Madame Shadowseeker only does this once.  Does this just mean everyone blows all their cooldowns (Shield Wall, Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, etc) to endure her short enrage and then they’re done?  The key to earning respect as a player with me is demonstrate a finesse of your skills, not be all RAWR OMG WTFBBQ DPSPWNAGE!!  You can be great player and still utilize all of your classes abilities efficiently.

“Time is of the essence!”

As these Heroics are being made easier and easier, that means people will be blowing through them faster and faster.  Making the value of the gear that people are getting lower and lower.  Follow this math:

Average of 4 badges (+ 2 from random) = 6 badges per run.

Clearing an instance in 15 minutes means 24 emblems an hour.

A whole set of T9 costs 210 emblems.

210 emblems / 24 emblems per hour = 8.75 hours.

Even if you play 3 hours/day, you could have full tier 9 in 3 days.

Given that, do I think it’s possible to really have a grasp of how to exist in a raid setting, possibly having an aspect of the fight rest on your shoulders?  I won’t say a flat-out “no”, but I’m hesitant.  I learned how to play my class through dungeons and heroics.  A fight like Rotface or Blood Princes is going to confuse players that haven’t had the ability to build an understanding of their class.

Consider it a slightly less horrifying version of a person who just bought their character on eBay that day.  Regardless if you’re a completely new player, or just levelling an alt, I fear that we’re starting to lose the building blocks to being a good raider to the ease of too much convenience.  (Sidenote: Notice I said “too much”.  I’m all for crafting the game so everyone has a shot, but there is a point when it goes too far.  I don’t want to go back to the days of needing to run alts through Karazhan to begin the gearing process for Black Temple.)

It’s like the economy (I know, a touchy subject).  If you start pumping more gear into the game faster, it devalues what’s already out there.  I guess the good thing is that people will be less freaked out by GearScore.  If everyone has a high gear score, more emphasis will need to be placed on player skill.  What good is a high GearScore if everyone has it?

“Lazy Sunday!”

“…WAKE UP IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!”  Sorry, a little sidetracked.  I love that skit.

Anyways, with Blizzard making things easier and easier, I fear they’re going too far.  ICC trash is already becoming AOE-able.  People are complaining about there being too much trash (yet, people complained about Trial of the Crusader not having ANY trash and being too boring).  Oculus is getting even bigger rewards.

I don’t want this game to become “just go in and blow stuff up”.  I like the challenge.  I like the dedication.  I like the workout.  I like the strategy.  Do I know how to create a balance with this?  Of course not.  If I did, I would be working for Blizzard.  I just don’t want the laziest crowd in the game to win over the hearts and minds of the game designers.

Now, I enjoy the mechanic of earlier ICC wings getting easier over time, allowing less progressed guilds to see the endgame content, but the latest epidemic of clueless raiders is troublesome to me.  How do you make the game more appealing to everyone, while still teaching those fundemental rules that we’ve all learned over the years?

What do you think?  Do you feel heroics are being made too easy?  How do you promote an understanding of class and basic fight mechanics amongst your raiders?

It Came From The P.U.G.: GearScore Edition.

It Came From The P.U.G.: GearScore Edition.

For those who might not know yet, my gluttony for abuse knows no bounds. As a result I find myself in a rather large number of P.U.G. groups. At the end of the day I bring you, my readers, the stories of my travels in the random grouping of Azerothian adventure!

This week I’m going to focus on a mod that’s been getting a lot of attention for a while now, (both good and bad) Gearscore. The irony of this event is it comes right after listening to a podcast (no not mine) but the resident gentleman Dorf himself Brigwn over at The Hunting Lodge podcast. They had the creator of the addon as a guest and asked him all sorts of questions about the mod. Why it was created, if this was it’s intended use and where it’s going from here. Gearscore is a quick comparison of gear assigning a number based roughly on stat allocation per class / role on the item. It does not, in any way shape or form reflect skill. Simply put it tracks maximum potential for a role, the higher the number the better potential healing, dps or tankage you can do. You’re probably why I’m bringing this up. Well here’s why…

Last weekend I got bored and didn’t feel like doing heroics on my Shaman, and my Hunter needed a night off. So I did something I haven’t done since Naxx was THE place to be, I broke out my Death Knight Tank. She was the bomb when Naxx was the raid zone of choice and as a result has Naxx level tanking gear. Not the best, but not the worst. More than enough for heroics, which I can then convert the badges into T9 tanking gear. So I put on my tanking gear, change my specs, and hop into the queue to tank. 20 seconds later I find myself in AN with similarly geared people, everyone sitting there in Naxx (25) level gear, and seemingly good attitudes. So we buff, and I head down and start making pulls. First pull, no problem. Second pull, no problem. Then we get to the watchers. I pull the first group and pull them wayyyy back. I Deathgrip the caster onto me and drop Death and Decay. All of a sudden the healer leaves group! Not a word, not a disconnect, not lag and no vote kicking. Just up and leaves. One of the people in the P.U.G. Happened to be on the same realm as the person, so he shot them a tell asking what happened. The response he got back sort of shocked me.

“I looked at the Gearscore for the tank, too low I can’t heal that.”

I had a good chuckle at that. My DK might not be ready to storm into ICC at all, but she tanked Naxx 25 and is more than adequately geared to handle some measly heroics. So as me and the rogue are laughing about this the Warrior of the group drops, for the same reason as the priest. So what remains is a rogue and a mage and myself, all laughing about it. You would think that the story would end there, but it doesn’t. People joined and dropped the group 4 or 5 times before eventually a healer and a dps stuck. The kicker? The healer was in full tier 9, the DPS was another DK, in full heroic ToGC / ICC gear. I jokingly asked

“I have a low gear score you guys sure you want to stick around? already lost a handful of healers an dps”

Healer looks me over says

“Nope you’re fine, just keep shit off me”

the new DK pipes up.

“If I can’t manage my aggro on you, then that’s on me, no worries let get some badges”

Finally, after waiting for nearly 30 minutes we start really pulling, and blow through the instance, I don’t lose any mobs to the healer, there are no close calls there. And the DK ganked once, stopped attacking so I could taunt and then didn’t gank again. The run was smooth, and quick. With my badges in hand I hearthed back to Dala and logged for the night.

The funny thing is that was my first hands on experience with Gearscore ever, and I do mean ever.  I heard about it when it was created at the beginning of wrath and wrote it off as something I didn’t need. Eventually as people kept talking about it and how it ranked gear and assigned a value, I pushed it aside from my thoughts. When I started seeing requirement levels in gear score for easy content, I got a little bit angry at it’s creation, but I had never run across it in all my travels in Azeroth.

Thanks to The Hunting Lodge, I now know the mod was created at the release of Wrath and it’s original goal was to show that the heroic blues (ilvl 200) were on par with the 70 purples (ilvl 154ish) so that people weren’t excluded from Naxx runs. It has since become this oddity that has people calling for 5k Gearscore for heroic runs. Without listening to that I probably would have looked on the above chain of events with a much heavier heart, and some abject hatred to the mod.

To put this in perspective, I installed the mod and had a look-see at all my characters and even the members of my raid. Lodur, my main who is decked out in T9.5 and Tier 10 / 10.5 only ranks about 5795 on gear score. My alt hunter Abigail, in T9 with heroic level trinkets ranks 4900. My tank, in Naxx gear is somewhere around 3799. Most of my raiders are in the 5500 – 5700 score mark and we’re clearing ICC25. It just seems odd to me to cling so hard to a scoring system that only appraises gear, and not skill or personality.

In other P.U.G. related news, I hit a random up last night with my main Lodur, wound up getting Gundrak. I’ve done this place a million times, yet somehow never managed to get Less Rabi achievement . We stacked a group from guild one day to try for it but for some reason it just fell out of reach each time. So we get to Moorabi and the tank pulls I instinctively wind shear the first transformation, and I notice his health is dropping like a rock. I wind shear the second and pop heroism and drop my elemental. he goes for the third transformation, the DK pounds him with a mind freeze and he dies. I see the achievement pop up and I’m one happppppppy Shaman. The hate tells roll in from some of the guildies yet to get it and I log off to go to bed one contented man.

So, how about you guys? Any interesting stories from the P.U.G.-Verse? Have any run ins with Gearscore? Good or bad?

Until next time, Happy Healing

It Came From The P.U.G. : The Val’anyr Curse!

It Came From The P.U.G. : The Val’anyr Curse!

Every night at 3am server time I log back into game and queue up for my daily random heroic. Normally it’s amusing when people inspect me as the healer and see that I have Val’anyr equipped. They normally make comments about feeling more at ease especially when the random is heroic Halls of Reflection.

But recently two events have occurred and seem to be reoccurring since. I’m referring to it as the Val’anyr curse.

About two weeks ago I was doing a PUG heroic on a Monday in the early afternoon. A decent chunk of my guildies were on, and it was a rather enjoyable day. I queue up to do my random of the day and like any healer will tell you 20 seconds went by before there was a group ready and waiting. The random instance it selected was Halls of Lightning. Not a bad instance, all things considered it’s fairly easy. I look at the people in my group, Full i245 lock, hunter mage and paladin. We all inspect each other which seems to be the custom of the pug tool when the paladin exclaims;

“HOLY SHIT! Wet got ourselves a [Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings] !!!! That means I can do this!”

and then he takes off running. He hits the first group, tags them both, and keeps going down the ramp for the second group. Ok, that’s pretty normal, I’ve had a lot of tanks do that no big deal. After a couple seconds of Consecrate being down he moves on to the group on the right, dragging everything with him. Ok healing gets a little more difficult but still bearable, dudes got some good gear and can take the abuse. Again though after a  couple seconds he drags EVERYTHING with him to the next set of adds. Oh, and the boss was there fully lightning charged too. At this point healing is ridiculous. To the tanks credit he manages to hold aggro on it all and the mage and lock are happily AEing to their hearts content, meanwhile I’m playing Yo-Yo with the tanks health as he’s taking a ton of hits all at once. We get through it somehow and he goes

“That was awesome! Lets do that again!”

and before I can even sit to drink he’s off pulling mobs leading up to the gauntlet room and through. At this point I sit down and drink. The dps is smart enough to stay with me and when the tank does die I see in chat from the tank

“too much huh?…. sorry =( I’ll be good now”

the rest of the run was smooth but I’ve seen this behavior become more and more common in the last couple weeks. I’ve had 9 out of 14 tanks see the hammer and just go careening off. I know it’s the hammer because they ALL said something about the hammer before trying to pull half the instance. I asked in guild chat and none of the other healers had seen this behavior either.

The second event was just a few nights ago. I was in a pug Forge of Souls rolling heroic, we were going to do FoS, PoS and finish with HoR, after the first boss is down the tank gives me a compliment on heals, one of the DPS in the group, a Feral Druid, says

“He’s only good because of the hammer, Shaman can’t heal this shit otherwise”

I laughed at first but then the following statement was uttered

“I’m not kidding, I have a Resto Shaman, I know you can’t heal this shit without that mace”

obviously I’m using better grammar than he did but you get the point. So I relay this to guild, I get a tell from one of the newbies

“So… un-equip the hammer, do it without it you got another caster weapon right? Maybe just do it without a weapon I know you can do it and that will stick in his craw for sure.”

I thought it over for a second, and then off came the mace. Second boss went down, the druid made another comment about

“you must be really thankful for that mace”

I casually reply,

“Oh, that. I haven’t had it equipped since you made the first comment. Don’t plan on putting it back on either, matter of fact bet I can do all the rest of the two without a weapon at all.”

Druid tried to call bullshit, but kept inspecting me. A successful (and flawless) PoS and HoR run later the Druid apologizes and leaves the group. So I asked around to some of my friends on the server that have the mace, and sure enough they all said they had similar experiences. The mace is a fantastic healing weapon, it really is. It’s a great lore piece and a sign that a guild is willing to put in the work necessary to construct it, but the general mentality of non healers that it is a godly healing weapon seems to be rather prevalent. So my New Years resolution in wow has been born as a result of this. When using the LFG tool I will no longer equip the mace. I’ve dubbed this the Val’anyr curse, it gives some people false expectations of your abilities.

So how about you out there? Have you noticed people being treated different in PUGs when they have the mace? Do you have the mace and noticed it as well?

well, that’s it for today, Until next time, Happy Healing

Image courtesy of MMO-Champion