Will you Lend Me Your Brain?

Will you Lend Me Your Brain?

Torch-and-pitch

 

Halloa folks! Just a brief post from me today. Today, I’m appealing for your braaaaaaaaaaaains.

No no, I’m not trying to get you to come after me with pitchforks blazing and braziers sharpened (or something). Instead I’d like you pitch in your thoughts to a brainstorming session I’m running at the moment. I’m looking for all sorts of people: bloggers, blog readers, forum users, theorycrafters – anyone. All you need is to play WoW and have some passing interest in the World of WoW blogs.

I have already spent some time recently visiting some forums and poking a few select folks first. You folks know who you are – you’re being most helpful and a pleasure to work with, so thank you – I really appreciate it. I have a few more on the ‘to poke’ list, whom I’ll be contacting soon.

But anyone who is interested in participating in a spot of research about the news and blog scene for our collective hobby is welcome to do so.  Be assured that I don’t want any information about your personal life and that the research has no-one’s, and no blog or company’s, interests at heart. The only interests at heart here are those of the community and, well, me, because this is an interesting topic.

So if you’re interested and you feel you fit the bill as described above – great.  Wave a hand, jump up and down, bedazzle me with chocolate chip cookies, anything you fancy. Put that pitchforks down before you set the cookies on fire and let me know you’re interested.

Other methods you could use to contact me (which might work better) include commenting on this post and dropping me a line at Mimetir @ googlemail. com, sending in a contact form or poking me on twitter. Send in a hail, let me know who you are, and we’ll go from there. If you don’t feel this is your cup of tea but you know someone who might like this flavour of research, feel free to spread the word.

What To Do When You Meet Lady D.

What To Do When You Meet Lady D.

So you’ve just met a charismatic, high-powered woman. You know the type. Legions of admirers. A woman capable of raising her followers up and empowering them on to great strengths. The sort of woman who reduces her enemies to insignificance with one touch. And then leaves them for dead on the floor. Oh, yes. You’ve just met Lady Deathwhisper. Want to take her down a peg or two? Here’s what you need to know.

This isn’t just hints and tips to help you get by. If you’ve met Deathwhisper and, more pointedly, the cobblestones in her lair, you’re the embittered adversary. You need a full guide on how to handle it. You need to know everything from basics to tricks for every role of your team. This guide is your friend. It’s going to walk you through the basic tactic for either 10 or 25 mans, and as a bonus I’ll throw in the alternative tactic for 25 mans and a note on the quest you may find yourself on to save Darnavan. It doesn’t matter if you’re there with a PUG group rather than a guild run. In fact, all the better if you are, because this guide assumes it’s not a given that your team know what to do. Just that they – and you – have a grudge against her Ladyship.

So an encounter with Deathwhisper follows a basic two-phase pattern. In the first phase the Lady will, like any leader-with-minions, stay at the back hiding behind a barrier while calling forth waves of minions to attack your group and doing some damage to random players with frostbolts and death and decay. You need to burn down her barrier – which is actually a mana shield – before phase 2 will kick in. Phase 2 is mostly a tank and spank affair, in which you just need to burn her down while she throws frostbolts, death and decay and angry ghosts at your party.

Tanks:

Left side will be 2 melee (fanatic) and 1 ranged (adherent) mobs. Any tanking class should be able to deal with this.

Right side will be 2 ranged (adherent) and 1 melee (fanatic) mobs. Ideally you want a DK or warrior on this side as they have more tricks for annoying ranged types.

  • Be aware that the fanatics cleave: don’t move them around any more than you have to unless you want withering glances from your enhancement shaman.
  • On 10 man the left and right side mobs appear alternately. On 25 man they appear at the same time, as well as an extra wave at the back, which consists of one random mob. You want to put your best kiting tank on the back wave: they tank that mob and take responsibility for kiting any deformed fanatics that spawn in the room.
  • When Deathwhisper’s mana shield goes down your tanks need to tank the Lady herself. She stacks a debuff called Touch of Insignificance on the current tank. It reduces their threat generation by 20% and stacks to five; have your tanks taunt to swap on three stacks.

Healers:

This largely depends on what classes your healing team consists of, and that may or may not change the more times you bounce. The basics apply – if you have a holy paladin he should be able to take care of two tanks, using beacon. Otherwise, put your disc priest, or if they’re confident to do so, resto shaman on tanks.

Healers should just be ready for a lot of damage. More than the fight merits, probably. People will stand in death and decay, probably for a jot longer than they should. Melee might get cleaved in their own rush to get stabbing things. Got a reanimated adherent loose? Oh yep, he’s going to merrily throw deathchill bolts around until someone notices him. Not to mention frostbolt volleys and some rather unhappy ghosts thrown into the mix.

  • Any healer who can cleanse curses – should. Everyone should drop what they’re doing and cleanse Curse of Torpor as soon as anyone in the raid is afflicted by it.
  • Priests can help out by mass dispelling Adherents when they put up the spell reflect shield called Shield of the Occult.
  • Watch your range – this room is just big enough to get out of range of your healing targets or them to outrange you. Be on your toes.

DPS:

Basic kill order:

Deformed Fanatic > Empowered Adherent > normal Fanatic/Adherent > Reanimated Fanatic Adherent > Deathwhisper

  • Some people place reanimated as a higher priority than normals – I don’t, because the less normal adds you have running around the less reanimated adds you might get.
  • Deformed/reanimated fanatics are mostly immune to physical damage: ranged DPS need to kill them. Empowered/reanimated Adherents are mostly immune to magical damage, so they’re meleers’ priority.
  • Normal adherents can be interrupted when casting Deathchill Bolt. They can also be deathgripped. Just be careful not to interrupt or deathgrip them while they have Shroud of the Occult up because it’ll bounce and you’ll be interrupted or, as our unlucky DK found, deathgripped to them. Adherents’ Curse of Torpor should be removed from the party by anyone who can (mages, boomkins, we’re looking at you).
  • Melee should watch out for Reanimated Adherents – we find it can be easy to miss them by assuming that adherents that drop dead are dead, rather than the actual case of the Lady about to reanimate them
  • Normal fanatics cleave. Melee: be sure to stand behind them, eh? Fanatics also have an ability called Vampiric Might, which can be spell stolen by mages.
  • Deathwhisper also mind controls party members on 25 man, one on normal, more on Heroic. DPSers should be ready to CC and snare/slow them before they cause havoc.
  • We also generally find it useful to have some pre-arranged DPS focus solely on the boss in order to get her mana shield down and phase 2 started. In 10 man we have one DPS do this (our enhancement shammy due to her mixture of magical and physical damage making neither add type overly suited to her). In 25 man, at least three should stay on the boss.
  • We’ve found that if you’re a DPS class with a pet it’s generally worth leaving the pet to DPS Deathwhisper unless your pet has an ability that makes him move quicksmart. Otherwise the travel time dragging him around the room will significantly reduce his overall DPS. And give him aching legs.
  • As a last tip and trick, our DK has also found that anti-magic shield is your friend in phase 2. It helps the healers and takes a bit of pressure off all round – and you get free runic power. Win.

The above are exact tactics for 10 man version and extra explanations for 25 mans where necessary. There is an alternative 25 man tactic:

The entire group stands behind Deathwhisper. You can get into position before the fight starts. Melee adds will come towards healers and should be taken down on the way to them in a snare-and-AoE heavy zone created by the ranged DPS. The tanks draw ranged adds in by line of sighting them using the pillars. This tactic has the benefit of reducing run distances for melee and switching times for everyone: the entire group will get more time nuking through Deathwhisper’s mana shield. It’s not so great when everyone’s bunched together and a death and decay patch hits, though.

Oh, and if you find yourself charged with rescuing Darnavan from Deathwhisper’s charms in return for a Sack of Frosty Treasures, the following are all viable tactics when he spawns (usually in the first wave of adds):

  • Have a plate meleer (preferably with some tank kit) tank him off to the side. Be careful not to do too much damage to him as he doesn’t have that much health.
  • Have a hunter pet do the same. It may be difficult for the pet to get it away from the tank. Our hunter solved this with a distracting shot and a bit of kiting to a safe spot where his pet could taunt and tank
  • Have a druid root him, continually. Other CCs don’t work

So, that should be all. Follow these tactics and you should suitably reduce Deathwhisper – that is, to nothing more than a pile of gaudy wrappings under your boots. Ah, justice. Oh, and the elevator will likely land on your head. Don’t be alarmed, elevators aren’t nearly as painful as Deathwhisper laying you low.

How about you? Do you think I’ve forgotten anything glaringly obvious, or have any small tips and tricks to share? This fight is still one of those that can turn from peachy fine to disaster in seconds – do you regularly have problems with this fight?  Do you think there are any particular group setups which work better for this fight – or make it all the more challenging?

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

I confess. My raiders and I have been bashing our heads against a brick wall for a couple of weeks. Our heads have been filled by the red mist ‘o wrath. We’d got the first wing of Icecrown Citadel on farm but our next focus, Rotface, ‘brokseded’ us time and again.

The brick wall suddenly came down on Sunday night. We had an experimental snipe at the Princes and then marched into the Plagueworks to slaughter Festergut and have a positive pop at Rotface. So what happened to stop us seeing red?

Change.

What change has that effect, I hear you cry? Did we change players? Did we somehow plunder a trove of 277 gear? Did we hardwire exact playing requirements into our members while they slept? Not at all. We merely tweaked one of our raiding practices: breaks.

I’ve always said they’re important in raids – it gives your raiders a chance to breathe. Sunday night taught us that organised breaks are even better.

Really regular breaks. We announced to our band of brigands at the start of the evening that we’d be calling a three minute break every 30 minutes, and that we’d like them to be sure to wait until then for quick AFKs for drinks and the like.

Wow, every 30 minutes? Those are a lot of breaks, I hear you cry. It’s a wonder we got anything done, right? Wrong.

Give yourselves regular chances to slack – that is, relax – and you’ll come back after the break more focused than had you pushed on and sat for an hour, two hours, wiping. Your head won’t be full of red mists so there’ll be room for useful things like remembering to move out of slime spray.

Movin’ n’ shaking. Several of my guild play in the same room on raid nights. Usually during a break we stare at the computer screens and brainstorm tactics in increasingly stressed tones.

Instead we decided to test out a terrifying concept during breaks: moving away from the computers and out of the room. We strongly recommended to our raiders that they do the same. We found that the simple change in space and environment again helped us to feel fresh and focused when the break was over. Even just moving about and stretching helped relax some tension. If you have time and inclination to fit in a few actual exercises, you’ll feel all the more responsive in the raid.

Time, gentlemen. After each break we announced the time of the next one. Sounds simple, but I think this was the key to the whole break renovation. Raiders need their creature comforts, right? And if they don’t know when a break’s coming then they’ll slide off after wipe 20 and get the drink they desperately need or the smoke to relieve stress. Meanwhile the rest of the group grumbles while waiting for them to return from their unannounced break.

By announcing break times, we’re allowing raiders to plan ahead. It means they don’t need to feel guilty about making the group wait on them. importantly it also gives them some control back over their own comfort. Our lock wants coffee? He knows the next break is in 10 minutes and can hang on until then.

Content breaks. I don’t mean a break in gameplay. I mean mix your encounters up to get the balance right between learning the fights and actually still having fun. You’re sick to the back teeth of bouncing on Festergut? Right, about time you take your raid to meet the Princes. Perhaps later on go to pay Rotface a visit.

You’re not being inefficient by not forcing yourselves to sit there and practice a fight: quite the opposite. Cut yourselves some slack if you’re working hard and not getting anywhere; you might find you slaughter the next encounter you head to and earn yourselves a morale boost. That’s efficiency.

 

These are small changes but could be useful to any raid group out there. You’re a 3 year-old guild running your A team? Or perhaps you’re running a PUG (breaks are not a PUG killer any more than giving your raid a little bit of trust, but such PUG raid myths is a topic for a future post). In my opinion these changes are crucial for any sort of raid group. Why? Let me explain what I think a well-run raid group is:

  • It’s a social activity. If someone in our group is not having fun for some reason we get uncomfortable and more stressed. Then Rotface smashes us more easily, morale plummets, stress goes up. Vicious circle. Having a break allows us to peel ourselves away from the stressful game environment and remember that it’s a social occasion, too.
  • It’s a team sport. Sure, we don’t leave the comfort of our computer desks and run up and down a pitch for several hours. We do work together using tactics, formations and roles to achieve a common aim. Sports benefit from breaks; think of the oft touted stories of football players eating oranges at halftime, or a weight-lifter taking breaks between sets so they can achieve their best for longer.
  • It’s a company. Wait, that sounds a little mercenary – try ‘organisation’. Either work. Like most companies, we expect our members to perform a certain job and they’re paid for successful tasks with emblems – and occasional epic perks. We invest time and effort to skill-up our members so that they can achieve goals, and improve all the time. We provide a safe (and because it’s a game, fun) environment for them to perform their tasks. All of these are good practices for a company, at least according to a particular book (see below) on company organisation. And like any good company in accordance with this book, we’re flexible enough to cut them a little slack to give them room to be their best.

A person will work better, be more focused, if they feel they are trusted and have some space to relax. Running around like a headless chicken or battering your head against one encounter is not healthy. The benefits extend to groups of people, too.

“The difference between the time it takes you to [achieve your next progression] at ‘all prudent speed’ and time it would take you ‘at breakneck speed’ is your slack. Slack is what helps you arrive quickly but with an unbroken neck.”

- Slack, T. Demarco, page 208 (and a book I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to change their raiding style)

What do you think? Does this sound like a useful nugget for your raid setup? Have you been wanting to try something like this for a while and been worried that you’d not cover as much ground? Do you think I’m completely wrong and sticking on one encounter until you’ve got it is best? Or, possibly, do you think the wisdom of this vs. encounter battering is dependent on how many nights your group raids?

 

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin and restorman of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

ICC Plagueworks: How Not To Die A Poisonous Death

ICC Plagueworks: How Not To Die A Poisonous Death

So you’re standing in the heart of the citadel. You’ve just walked through fire to get here – quite literally. Before that you ran the gauntlet of the lower spire and left the Lich King’s doormen smattered over the walls. That place feels like home to you now.

But now you’re on the upper levels you’re choking on the Citadel’s hostility, which is no surprise given the fat ochre clouds seeping out of the Plagueworks nearby. You must conquer it – but how?

I’ve been there too, alongside nine others. Here are my tips for your group regarding the trash guarding the entrance, a strategy for Precious, and some healing advice for the Rotface encounter.

 

Getting your foot in the door – trash tips:

1. Bitesize the trash pull as it’s more dangerous the more you pull here. It’s very easy to get mobbed by everything lurking in the entrance to the Plagueworks. It’s also very easy not to do so.

From our experiments we believe that everything will pull if you set foot on the platform in front of the door to the Plagueworks, upon which the Blighted Abominations are standing. Have your group gather a bit back – at the blue brazier on the left-side platform perhaps – and have your tanks pull the abominations back to the group.

2. Healers! Be on the ball. When you engage the large trash group just inside the door in combat, be aware that it will be a hectic fight. Plague Scientists will be turning random group members into slimes, and those players will take the opportunity to bounce around playfully. Because it’s fun. Meanwhile (shackle-able) geists will be jumping on people and eating them alive. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the mobs will be inflicting various nature-based attacks on chunks of your group.

3. Be on your toes. That applies to everyone. The abominations will emit plague clouds. Yuck. Move whatever’s standing in it out, be that you as a healer or the mob needing a tank to kite him out.

Also, the Pustulating Horrors will start the 5 second cast of Blight Bomb when they’re nearly dead: a kamikaze move. Everyone should watch out and move away before it’s cast; it does a lot of AoE damage and DPS or healers may explode alongside the Pustulating Horror.

Precious tactic: Making the Dog Play Dead. Er.

When my group first met Precious we wiped. We’d stand and nuke him; sometimes we AoE’ed the zombies, sometimes we didn’t because our 10 man didn’t have many AoE options. Either way we died horrible deaths. So, we did a bit of research and brainstorming. This is the tactic we have adopted since.

1. Have your healers and ranged DPS stand halfway down the circular staircase. Pull Precious to the stairs. Kite him round past them (decide clockwise or anti clockwise beforehand). Have healers and ranged run ahead of you so they don’t become zombie chow later.

2. When Precious summons zombies, speed up the kiting a bit to get ahead of them. If you have any shamans or hunters – or both – then earthbind and frost trap really help to put some distance between you and the braaaaaain munchers. I’m sure other slowing effects work. Be creative. Don’t speed up so much that you lap the zombies.

3. Rinse repeat with kiting and earthbind/traps until the dog is dead. Turn round and deal with the zombies. AoEs you can run in, drop, then out – like consecrate – work well. Pre-positionable AoEs like shamans putting up earthbinds and fire totem/fire nova repeatedly while still running away also work. While we were perfecting this my guild had an attempt whereby the group’s several shamans finished off the zombies while everyone else ran in – er, I mean, recovered from temporary inability to help.

 

Rotface tricks for healers:

1. Surround him. Rather than clumping together in one huge mass, have your group stand in smaller clumps round Rotface’s…. well, I guess they’re feet. At least one healer to each clump. This has two benefits for healers. Firstly it reduces the number of people who may get hit by slime spray. Secondly it means that at least one healer should always be in range of the tank who is kiting the big ooze, wherever they are in the room, in case of problems.

2. GO team Heal! If another healer gets mutated infection and so has to run, heal him until it’s gone and he’s safe. This may sound silly but sometimes when the elephant hits the jet fan, healers assume that other healers can look after themselves. Yep, usually. But you should always remember you’re a team and work like one. Particularly here, where the infection ticks for a fair chunk and a lot of healers can’t heal and keep running at the same time.

3. Assume the worst. We all make mistakes: we’re human. But this is an encounter in which one person making a mistake can make things three times more hectic and it’s us healers who have to try to get the group through it. The retri paladin thinks he’s delivered his ooze to the big ooze but has actually dragged it into the melee and is standing there? Someone’s got two infections in a row and not realised?

Watch as much as you can. Watch for people making mistakes so you can go into overdrive. Watch your and other healers’ mana and pop things like mana tide or hymn of hope either early or at (an early) crunch time. Importantly, watch *your* positioning. You might think that concentrating on your own situational awareness might make it a bit harder to focus on healing when there’s a lot of damage. Instead, consider how doing so will make your job easier rather than if you get caught up in healing and, say, forget to move during an Unstable Ooze Explosion.

 

The Plagueworks is not a friendly place and only the bold set foot on its flagstones. Although, looking at Rotface I think Professor Putricide has other ideas about what feet should do. I hope your bravery is rewarded by victory, and that something here has helped if you were bouncing off those flagstones!

What about you? Have you got any tips, either general or class/healer specific, to add for any of these three encounters? Are you having trouble on any of them, or have been and are slowly getting better at dealing with them? Do you actively like or dislike these fights, given that they go in a different direction to the fights in the first wing?

Healer 101: How To Storm Citadels More Smoothly

Healer 101: How To Storm Citadels More Smoothly

ICCHealing1

Say you’re storming the Citadel on a fairly regular basis, massacring the Lich King’s advance nasties from Lord Marrowgar right up – literally – to Deathbringer Saurfang. You might be progressing through it at your own pace, or you might have it on farm and are running through weekly as a warm-up to pick up gear. Well, either way. Here are some general and some shaman-specific tips from my own experience on how to healing can help your group steamroller the nasties.

Lord Marrowgar:

1. Bone Spike Graveyard: Pain. In. The. There are two things you can do to mitigate its effect on your healing. Firstly, make sure you remind your healing  Marrowgar diagram 3teammates to watch out for bonespike on each other. For example, if your tank healer is spiked then you need to pick up the slack for him and heal the tanks. Just til he gets back on his feet. Secondly, standing behind Marrowgar as shown in the diagram will help your DPS get you un-spiked as quickly and safely as  possible.

2. Coldflame is not cool. Really. Move out of the fire before it gets to you. Yep, I know it’s a pain and it seems to as soon as a healer has moved there’s more coldflame racing towards you. Standing at range will give you time to see it and move.

3. One shaman to another: people stand in fire. Us healers know it like we know the sky is (sometimes) blue. Bone Storm and Bone Spike Graveyard do damage. There’s a lot of it going round. So consider dropping mana tide early to have it ready again later if needed and using bloodlust after the first Bone Storm so that DPS get time to use it when Marrowgar’s not doing the tango.

 

Lady Deathwhisper:

1. Spread out. At least a bit. Deathwhisper’s room is just big enough that if you stand too far to either side you won’t be able to reach the people on the other side. Spread your healer team out so that tank healer A is covering the tank on the left, tank healer B on the right and raid healer in the middle. If you’re running two healers then they’ll need to be a bit closer to the middle for raid coverage. There’s also less chance you’ll all get caught in death and decay if you spread out.

2. Healer, cleanse… everything. This fight has some status changes which give Deathwhisper and her crew an edge. If Curse of Torpor is running amok on your raid then cleanse it, first on you then on other targets. If a Cult Fanatic casts Vampiric Might (magic effect) on itself then cleanse it in order to down it quicker. Or tell your mages to spellsteal it: they’ll love you.

3. Shamanic wisdoms: think about your totem placement; you might want to manually place them rather than drop all four in one place. Personally I drop stoneskin and healing stream well to the left with the tank I watch over. I then separately drop Flametongue and Wrath of Air nearer the middle/mid-back, depending on whether it’s 10 or 25 man. I re-place totems at Deathwhisper when phase 2 hits.

 

Gunship battle:

1. Welcome returning soldiers back. With a lot of healing. When the boarding party returns Muradin might well still be trying to kill at least one of them, probably with rending throw. In my opinion it’s best to play it safe: overheal them all as they come back over rather than waiting for them to take an unexpected damage spike they might not survive. If at all possible have one member of the boarding party announce when they’re returning.

2. You’re a field medic, not a pirate. I think healers should stay on their ship rather than boarding. Healing on the Edge ™ of the ship works just fine. Yes, you have to move out of the cannon fire patches but at least there is ample time to do that. Things can and do go wrong for the boarding party and the chance of that goes up exponentially according to how many people jet over. You don’t need to.

3. Shaman talk: Consider earthshielding a different target, particularly a DPS on the boarding party. My 10 man run usually has an enhancement shammy swinging over to swash some buckles, and full of health they’re not. If Muradin/Saurfang decides he doesn’t like her she’s the most likely to go splat quickly and she is aware of it. I put earthshield on her for this fight: not only might it help in a pinch but it also makes her feel a tad bit safer when jetting off to hostile territory. She hasn’t died here since I made that change.

 

Deathbringer Saurfang:

1. Healers need time to breathe. Mark of the Fallen Champion can make things hectic if everyone’s trying to deal with everything on this fight. Arrange for one person to deal solely with victims of the mark when it starts hitting. Personally I have our disc priest doing that while our shamans chain heal around the rest of the group. It just gives everyone enough slack to not turn into headless chickens.

2. Be prepared. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a healing-easy fight based on the first couple of minutes of it. Remember that the longer it goes on the more healing-intensive it gets, and its length is dependent on your group’s general level of kit and knowledge of the fight. Don’t let boredom tempt you into overhealing early on. Manage mana well and be ready for it to be challenged.

3. If you’re a shaman: Earth bind is your friend. Place it near-ish the platform to catch blood beasts as they spawn. It’ll just give the ranged DPS some breathing time, which should give you breathing time with less potential for blood beasts tearing up your warlock. Keep it refreshed. If you have more than one shaman co-ordinate to have your earthbinds cover a greater area.

 

World of Matticus: helping healers storm their local citadels since 2010. As with many fights at present the thing to remember above all else is to be mobile and flexible if the situation requires. I’ll also briefly be extolling the virtues and citing an example of shamans retreating to advance, later in the week.

How about you – are you a healer with any tips to add for the first wing? Any widely held tactics you’d particularly like to discredit? Any questions been troubling you about the healing on wing the first, whether or not you’re a healer? Comments are very welcome!

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

TheFuture

My guild is special. No, really. We’re like a guerrilla force descending from our airborne stronghold to plunge deep behind enemy lines in a surprise raid. This is, you see, an affectionate way of describing my guild’s raids.

We are a small, ten-strong band of fighters not all wearing the same colours because our roots are in a small core relying on PUGgers. It is sometimes a surprise when our raids get going, even though they’re organised in advance. Yet despite these things we’ve managed to storm the citadel right up to Rotface. Not only that, we’re thinking to scale up to 25 man operations. How I hear you cry, is that special?

My guild, you understand, is not a raiding guild. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Herding Cats is a small group of real life friends. But many moons ago we got together, grabbed a few random PUGgers, and poked our noses into Naxxramas, like guilds do. Northrend’s raids became second homes over the months.

In ye olde Naxx runs we decided we just wanted PUGgers to be friendly. Not imbah, not a great tactician, not rocking 18k DPS. Our raids might not be lightning fast but they should be jolly good fun, old chap. Whenever we found a friendly stranger we rejoiced. And kidnapped them. Oh, we didn’t recruit – only invited them to our raids. In this way we cultivated a network of friendly people who fit in with the raiding group.

Our network of non-guildies quickly outgrew the slots we had for 10 man raiding and priority was given to people who were already raiding with us. We thought it sensible to develop a core. Tactically the group would become a single unit capable of learning encounters and to work together in order to move forward. Naturally this had social benefits for our raid members, who were rewarded with progression, loot and group friendships.

The downside of this was that many Herding friends are left out. As the raid leader/organiser, I really feel bad about this downside, as we are lucky enough to have people ask every week if there’s a raid spot for them this week even though they’re often told “I’m sorry but we’re full at the moment.”

So my guild is special but not unique. I’d wager there are a lot of guilds either already in our position or considering adapting to something like it.

How can we include people? 25 mans. Our network is big enough to fill 15-20 slots of a 25 man raid. It’s one huge step for Herding-kind. Dangerous almost. It might bite. Going into the hydra’s den unprepared is a bad idea so we’re arming ourselves and going at it as a team. We’re still thinking about it but this is the current battle plan.

1. Delegation. There are a lot of hats to wear in a 25 man so we’ve agreed to split the hats between the five of us. We’ll have leaders for each role, and they will each have a chat channel to communicate with their players. For example, in the tanks channel the tank leader will ascribe tactics to the tanks and foster communication between them. The other leaders will do the same for healers and melee and ranged DPS. The raid leader’s task is to introduce the raid, keep an eye on the group chat channels, be the deciding force in conflicts and handle unforeseen shenanigans. We’ll also have someone acting as a mentor. Unofficially we’ll have someone else as a morale officer and someone acting as a raid HR department.

2. Housekeeping. This is a brief introduction to the raid, given by the raid leader, which sets out a few basic points. These include our core principles for the run – for example, that we will welcome people amicably and expect them to do the same in return. We’ll also set out other rules on behaviour, breaks, tactics and loot. I’ve spoken before about how important this is, and it can only get more important the more people you have to organise. Setting clear rules from the start creates a safe, fun raid for everyone, Herding Cats veteran or first-timer and gives everyone a fair warning of what’s expected of them before we start.

It relaxes strangers, too. I think that people can join PUG raids expecting an atmosphere of every man for himself; having to constantly defend their playing style, DPS, healing, gear, whatever. We’ve had PUGgers say they’re pleasantly surprised to find a group where this isn’t the prevailing culture.

3. Communication. I believe the more information you communicate the more time you’ll save on wipes. Tactics are fluid things, changeable in progression content and per player experience. We’ll explain tactics for all encounters, provide a chance for suggestions and encourage raiders to ask questions in chat or privately to raid officers at any time. Officers will also keep an eye on their players and have a quiet chat if they suspect a player isn’t clear on something. “Hello Mr.. rogue, nice work on adherents there but you didn’t seem to get any time stabbing Deathwhisper. Any questions about that?” Likewise, we’ll check in with random raiders at random times to find out how they’re feeling.

Communication is most important when things go wrong. When we wipe we have a quick brainstorm in Herding Cats Land. Then we talk to the raid, saying something like “ok, what went wrong there was a deformed fanatic getting loose as phase 2 started. Easy mistake, we’ll get it right this time. Oh, and nice work on her mana shield, guys.”

4. Social. I play this game for fun, don’t know about you. It’s not a single player game and I like interacting with other people. I hope our raiders do too, but in a large group it’s easy for negativity to spread. The morale officer will keep the atmosphere cheery. The mentor’s role is just as important. It’s his task to be there for anyone who’s in any way unsure or needing reassurance. They might be new to raiding, they might be unsure in group settings, they might still be learning their class (who isn’t?). We welcome new players – given the right encouragement they can turn out to be some of the most loyal and best you’ll find.

5. Networking. We can’t fill 25 spots off the bat. We rather like that. It means that we have room to do what we did way back in Naxx times: meet new people and kidnap them to our raids. This way our network will grow whenever we find a new person we like and the entire group will benefit both in raiding and social terms.

If we get a PUGger we don’t like? We call them ‘That Guy’. You know – the guy who backseat raid leads, continually pastes DPS meters, abuses other group members. The list can go on. Ideally we’ll have a very strict policy, backed up by the housekeeping which already informed people what standards we work by. Some people have different attitudes and expectations to raiding than what they find in our group: that’s fine, but if you join a group you go by their expectations.

If someone insults our group members or any Cat finds them annoying in some way, they’re out. Sorry. I don’t care if they’re saved for one raid lockout, I don’t care if they’re the leader of the server’s top raiding guild. I don’t care if they’re hitting 11k healing every fight. I’ll protect my own group over someone who’s just griefed the priest healer they know nothing about. I think this is the most controversial point of our game plan, particularly if we just find someone annoying.

So those are the basics of our arsenal. There are some finer points such as where to begin our venture: we’re thinking ToTC25 for the first raid. It’s relatively short and should be a good ground to help the raid find its feet and bond. Not only that but it should provide some folks with bits of kit for the real progression and leave everyone salivating over the prospect of more next time. We also have a raid spam addon tailor-made for our needs in the works.

And do we, the raid officers, know what we’re doing? Why, yes, old bean. We know the enemy lines and the guerrilla force we’re leading into the Lich King’s chambers.

What about you? Is your guild in a similar position, or considering something like this – are you worried it’ll be a lot more work than you have time for? Are you in a large guild that does in house runs? Are you a PUGger who wishes you did/did not come across more groups like this? Do you think leaning a bit towards carebearing is going to hold us back or benefit us in the long term (and what’s YOUR playing style)?

Your Wish List vs. The Need Before Greed System

Your Wish List vs. The Need Before Greed System

LEWT2

The other week, as a gift to you from us, we each offered to write and discuss a topic of your choice. Here’s what we came up with!

What do you want for Winter Veil? You want to wrap your boomkin snugly in an Ancient Polar Bear Hide or keep your holydin’s toes toasty in a pair of Mudslide Boots? Well you can’t have it.

Bah, humbug.

Patch 3.3 has hit just in time for the winter holidays – a time when a lot of us players manage to squeeze in extra time being a hero and getting shiny treasures. 3.3 brought a sled-load of new toys to play with in game, including the new dungeon finder system and its potential for random group member loot drama. As a result while using the dungeon finder we are all limited to needing only on items of our class’ armour type. You’re a paladin? You roll on plate. Plate, y’hear, no cloth for your healing set. Certainly no leather for you DPS warrior types! It’s not exactly ideal for anyone gearing up.

It’s the Winter Veil equivalent of a pair of socks: practical, but not exactly what you wanted.

What, I hear you cry? The 3.3 patch notes describe it best;

“Need Before Greed will now recognize gear appropriate for a class in three ways: the class must be able to equip the item, pure melee will be unable to roll on spell power items, and classes are limited to their dominant armor type (ex. paladins for plate). All items will still be available via Greed rolls as well as the new Disenchant option should no member be able to use the item.”

I can see the practical sense in this. It removes some arguments about loot before they’ve even begun. The rogue won’t get miffed at the shaman needing on and winning leather melee gear because the shaman just can’t. Likewise, the death knight who is prone to shiny object moments and rolls on spell power items accidentally – just can’t, and won’t have to explain himself to pitchfork wielding casters. Reducing the potential for arguments is a sensible, if slightly cynical, move in a system which promotes meeting random strangers who have no reason to relate to or sympathise with you.

Yet what does that do to your characters? It might be taboo but we all know that paladins do incorporate all types of armour into a healing set, have done since the beginning of the World … of Warcraft. A paladin friend of mine has recently started gearing up for his holy off spec. He would prefer plate items of course, but any type of item with spell power on it is better than healing with defence rating gear. We had the Azure Cloth Bindings drop for us just earlier today – and he couldn’t roll on them. Sure, he’d only have used them as a stop gap until something better and more, well, platey came along. But until then they would have seriously boosted his off spec prospects and none of the actual clothies in the group showed the slightest interest in wanting them anyway.

The only option for my friend, or anyone looking to boost their off spec with drops forbidden by the loot system, is to greed the item and hope that RNG is kind to them and doesn’t shard it for someone else. Or of course to keep running Heroics, waving sadly at these drops, and waiting until they’ve enough badges to get the badge equivalents.

Take another situation. You’re a tree who is so bored you’ve taken root in the middle of Dalaran and didn’t bat a branch when children – sorry, gnomes – covered you in tinsel and shiny lights two weeks ago. You want to do something different. Something fun. You’ve had the cookie-cutter spec for a while, got the gear, done everything you want to do. So you start playing around building your own spec – something hybrid that allows you to heal and CC or DPS without changing spec. Yes, healing and DPS – you know it happens, especially when people are bored. And Heroics aren’t exhilarating, let’s face it.

Say you want your druid to be able to do all that in one spec – well then, you’ll need to play around a bit with your stat distribution and probably get some new armour. Would you like some hit with that? How about a new party hat – the cloth Sightless Crown of Ulmaas would do the job. Oh wait – you’re a druid – you can’t roll on cloth, even if the rest of the party consists of three death knights and a warrior.

There are still a couple of loopholes, too. To my knowledge death knights and druids are able to roll on loot with block rating on it. A pointless stat to them, but perhaps your death knight tank decides that he is so desperate for something to upgrade from his blue helm that when Second Helm of the Executioner drops it is a must have even though the itemization is aimed more at the group’s paladin who is only tank as off spec.

Well, gratz to the death knight for the upgrade – but it’s only a minor victory for him, and leaves both him and the paladin a bit cold. Should Blizzard further tinker with the need before greed system? Perhaps add class specific tooltips – “classes: paladin, warrior” – to the aforementioned Executioner’s helm. Similarly for every item, and a filter that only allows the specified classes to roll on items with stats meant for them.

If this came into play then it would likely automatically further restrict itemization choices for players. Every rogue of the same playing level would look the same. Every healing priest would be in the same dress, every restoration shaman would have identical mail shoulders for restoration shamans. That Winter Veil tree druid in Dalaran would have even less freedom to play around with his spec and try new things. But at the same time – everyone would get loot cookie cuttered to cater the ‘correct’ stats to their spec.

Say that our off spec tank paladin from earlier wants the correct stats – for his protection off spec – and rolls need on the Executioner’s helm against the death knight tank. Whatever his reason, I’d bet the death knight isn’t impressed with him rolling for his off spec. Would you be, if someone else rolled against your main spec items? We’ve all seen it. Perhaps the need before greed system should take specs into account. A priest is healing in a random dungeon? Right, says the loot system. He can’t roll on items with hit on them like Bracer of Worn Molars, under any circumstances. On the up side he won’t be able to ninja, on the down side he won’t be able to prove he’s trustworthy or improve his shadow kit if everyone else passes on the toothy armguards there.

These are ridiculous ideas, I hear you cry. They’ll never happen! Maybe you’re right, or maybe they’ll happen at some point. I’m just saying that the need before greed system is already restrictive – unnecessarily so, perhaps. I for one am perfectly happy with a holydin rolling on cloth items so long as no clothies need the item, and so preventing holydins from doing it seems a potential waste of an item. It may be a slippery slope we find ourselves on in the name of wrapping classes up in their own specialised cotton wool.

What do you think? Is the need before greed system protecting us just the right amount in random dungeons at the moment – should it be more or less protective? Are you getting infuriated trying to gear up your new fury warrior? Is all this an argument to make a premade group so there aren’t limitations on loot?

Your Winter Veil Gift, From Us

Winterveil

Winter Veil’s a’comin! The nights are closing in, the frost’s creeping over the tavern windows and yetis are Icehowl’ing in the snowy fields. It’s a magical time of year that we’d like to celebrate alongside you folks – what better time than to give you a gift? That gift is – a chat by the fireside with each of us. But we need your help to do it.

What we want from you is a topic of conversation. We want you to nominate a different topic to write on for each of us – that is, Matt, Wynthea, Lodur, Thespius and me, Mimetir (Syd is still AWOL being happy and busy, I believe). The topic can be anything at all you like – whatever you want that writer’s thoughts on. WoW related things are a good start for a WoW blog obviously, but as it’s Winter Veil – if you want us to write on something else, we might just do it.

You have until Monday 14th to reply to this article with your topic nominations for each writer. Of course we can’t write on every topic you guys nominate because if we try that we’ll miss Winter Veil ourselves! So once the five-day nomination time is over, Matt will make a list of the collected nominations for each WoM writer and make a secret santa roll to decide which topic we each write on. We’ll each then write an article on our individual topic, given by one of you, and post it up during the holidays.

Sound complicated? Sure, it does a bit. I’m a bird brain trying to explain something, been at the eggnog too much and all that. I’ll give you an example to clear things up.

  • Say six of you nominate different topics for Lodur to write on. That makes six potential topics for Lodur’s Winter Veil-time article
  • Matt takes a 1-6 list of those topics, ordered by when they chronologically appear in the comments on the article
  • He then does an independently adjudicated ‘Lodur roll (/roll 1-6)’ to decide which topic Lodur writes on (this does of course mean that RNG might decide it’s not your topic’s turn this year – but it might decide it is)
  • He does the same for the other four writers – me, Thespius, Wynthea and himself  – and announces the winning topics, along with details of when the articles will go up

Then you watch out over the holidays to read articles on the selection of topics you wanted to hear our deepest thoughts on. You then respond with what you think about your topic and our thoughts. Win.

So how about it? Help us give you something this Winter Veil. What do you want to talk about?

Dragon Slaying from a Healer’s Perspective: Onyxia

Dragonslayf2j

Every week I watch different players doing things in Onyxia encounters that could make healers spit flame. Not only that, I find myself reacting to and making the same mistakes every week. So what are these recurring things, and how can everyone make sure that healers don’t turn into fire breathing dragons?

Traditionally us healers don’t do much slaying of anything, especially dragons. We do something much more important. We’re the brave souls who sally forth calmly into the face of death to keep others in one piece, or at least standing vaguely upright. You know those others – the heroes who charge in bandying about a cacophony of curses. The ones who would get flamed into foil-packed toasted sandwiches or seared to a fowl-shaped frieze on the wall, or reduced to roasted bear.

But other heroes like to keep us healers on our toes. Hell, we like to keep ourselves on our toes. A dragon slaying party can make a lot of mistakes, and you’d be surprised how few heroes seem to know the Basics of Dragon Slaying. Many bands of adventurers charge into the dragon’s den without checking that everyone knows those basics, which I think is mistake #1.

So what are the most common and basic mistakes a do-gooder can commit while trying to saw Onyxia’s head off? And what can us healers, whatever class, do so we don’t feel like taking a deep breath and belching fire at people? Well, a long career of healing dragon slayers has taught me a lot.

Here are my top ten observations for both us healers and your actual slayer of dragons to remember while venturing into Onyxia’s den, especially if braving the fight with a motley crew of unknown quantities.

I always see tanks or DPS…

1. Getting cleaved. Obviously this is a hazard of the job for tanks. But every time I go to Onyxia there are some foolhardy melee DPSers who like to stand face to face with their foe. I always find myself politely telling them that if they stand behind the trash they will do more DPS and won’t die from cleave, which is something most monsters in the den do. This is always after at least two DPSers die once or one of them dies twice

2. Going out of Line of Sight. There is a hill on the path to Onyxia’s den. And just over that hill is – well, is your tank. And he’s found himself facing an angry dragonkin whom he can’t move for fear of cleaving the party apart. Positioned just right so that if you stay safely at range you’re over the hill and far away for healing purposes, but if you go in close you’re in danger of getting cleaved (see above)

3. Killing people by big-add AoE proxy. I’ve seen tanks pick up big adds on phase 2 and move to tank them next to healers and ranged folk. I sometimes don’t see this until the add’s AoE has fried me because I am looking at healing addons and frantically trying to keep everyone standing upright rather than watching the pretty pictures on the screen. Likewise, melee folks should run away from this AoE, but don’t always do so.

4. Panic-position Onyxia. This happens when she lands in phase 3. Things are hectic and every tank has a different idea where’s best to position a large angry dragon.

  • The tank might place her at the back of the cave: if he does then players are likely to get feared into a tail swipe and bring out many whelps. Handle it.
  • The tank might instead place her at the side of the cave: if he does that then players will get feared and tail swiped but probably not into the whelp eggs.

5. NOT dealing with whelps. Whelps are hungry when they wake up and there are a lot of them. If they’re not controlled and killed then they will quickly attach to a healer and start munching, or gobble up the mage they noticed AoEing at them. Hell, I’ve often seen tanks bashing away at a clutch of whelps all on their lonesome on phase 1, with no DPS bothering to go to them – unless you count those flying past into the whelp eggs and skulking back out again, leaving the tank to deal with more.

Tips for healers …

1. Watch where you stand. Particularly during phase 2. Make sure you’re not too close to the southern area where the big adds spawn, especially if the tank on big adds is a bit sleepy. Said big add may appear, set eyes on you and think you’re the tastiest target. It’s also easy to get out of range of people, especially ranged folk who are doggedly following Onyxia up and down the cave. Avoid all this by trying to strafe across the middle of the cave in p2.

2. Be on your toes during deep breath. Get out of the way of it, of course. Start heading back into the middle of the room as soon as it’s passed in order to beat fires out on anyone who didn’t manage to get out the way in time.

3. Never assume the tank is in safe hands. Healers get themselves tail swiped and cleaved too – I’ve seen it. Heck, even phase 2 is dangerous – deep breaths may mean that the tank and healers are separated. Last week I was in a run in which all the healers dove to one side of the room during deep breath and the tank went the other way – we all assumed one of the other healers would stay near him. Panic mode ensued. Try to stay in range of the tanks at all times but not too close. That way fried healers lie.

4. Run diagonally. Sounds weird, but look at the shape of the cave – very long, and the monsters tend to spawn or be tanked at diamond points. The tank’s making the pull? If you run in a strange line – and next to the tank – you’ll get cleaved or tail swiped right away. I saw a priest do just that last week. Run diagonally in and you’ll always be in range to top off the tank as he’s moving Onyxia and you’ll end up standing in a safe place. Likewise throughout the fight, diagonal lines will often get you near other players and away from fire and adds the quickest.

5. Be aware of your space. You will be moving around a lot – move your class specific tricks with you. As a shaman I move my totems to where the rest of the group moves for each phase, so people retain the buffs. As a druid I’ve run around like a rootless sapling trying to keep the tank alive in the north end of the cave and combat resurrect the top DPSer from the south of the cave. Assume in a reactionary fight like this that people will make mistakes: use your class to the full to make it easier on the whole group.

So those are the basics as I see them. They might sound simple – they are. But how many times have you seen some of the above happen? They’re intended to give dragon slayers and healers food for thought rather than offer strategies on how to heal; this isn’t a fight with challenging tactics, just one that needs everyone to stay aware of the situation. One last tip for free: if you want to get the bounty without repair bills, don’t assume everyone knows the tactics. They might not. Everyone has to start being a dragon slayer – maybe in a foreign tongue – sometime in their life.

I’ll be following up by talking about my observations and practical tips on healing Sarth3d in part 2 in the near future. Meanwhile – is there anything I’ve missed for Onyxia – any warnings about the dangers of dragon slaying? Or have you often committed one of these mistakes and just can’t help it? Are there any tips you can give to other healers in danger of frying out there? Any thoughts on how critical group make-up is in this situation?

A PUG’s Doom Knell: Link Achiev Or No Inv

SegasIdiot

This PUG will self destruct in five seconds. The first whiff of a short, lit fuse? A group leader spamming the beastly phrase “link achiev or no inv”. I believe it’s a doom knell for any PUG. It makes Dalaran and trade chat more dangerous places for a group than a fire breathing dragon with left-side whelps.

Perhaps you’ve not heard the phrase. It’s often used as a recruitment method by PUG leaders.  They are demanding that potential group members whisper them with a link to their completed achievement for the relevant instance. It does seem to have benefits for both group leader and applicant – call them Lichknig and Armand:

  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand knows tactics for the encounters
  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand is well-geared enough to do the instance, having done it before
  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand doesn’t have the attention span of a concussed goldfish, as shown by his completed achievement and the fact that he bothered to link it
  • Armand can suppose that the PUG has a good chance of completing the instance as everyone is being vetted
  • Armand can suppose that the PUG has a good chance of filling up and starting quickly as Lichknig is regularly singing out on trade and recruitment channels

Lichknig’s request of players to link an achievement and then Armand’s linking of the achievement is like a negotiation. It gets both players what they want. It also creates a sort of trust between Lichknig and Armand, and an identical bond is created between Lichknig and each player that joins the raid group. The group’s parameters of teamwork, or safety nets, are set.

The terms are not necessarily fair, though. The unspoken subtext is that Lichknig is washing his hands of error – he’s looking for an easy raid with little input from him. He’s saying “you’ve done it before – you will just do it again” to his group members. He and others like him don’t want to put the effort in to lead or direct the group. Lichknig wants to be able to crack open a beer and sit back; the group should run like a machine for him. He can put in as little interaction as he likes – both with the instance, which he will be carried through by his mechanical group – and the players, whose questions he doesn’t necessarily need to answer.

This puts group under unfair pressure to perform. This is particularly hard without direction. Almost everyone recruited into a linky linky group will have slightly different tactics from their previous PUGs or guild runs for each encounter. Think about it. Without solid direction from the leader, the group will employ three to seven different essence tactics in the Twin’Valkyr encounter, merrily exploding itself and saving the bosses the hassle.

Armand and his fellow group members have little room or excuse for error during the run. The trust bonding the group is tenuous as it can be broken as soon as someone makes a mistake; players are almost absolved of having to be patient with their teammates by the terms of negotiation. Not so long ago I was in an Ulduar25 PUG – as soon as we wiped someone reacted with “WTF? I thought you invited people who knew tacts”. What linky linky group members are under strain to prove is their worth; why they should be included. This may result in such a chilled show of professionalism that the atmosphere is icy cold and no-one says a friendly word. It may also result in players pouncing on the chance to blame someone else as soon as anything goes wrong. I mean anything – whether a tail swipe in Onyxia leads to a brief but controllable flurry of whelps or a messy wipe, players may be ready to draw attention to it as long as it diverts attention from themselves.

This isn’t a problem if the run is successful – the group may even bond if the run is fun and there’s some good humour going round. Say that doesn’t happen or someone like Armand makes a mistake, though. The initial parameters of the group will be revealed to be superficially flimsy – not a real safety net. Lichknig and the rest of the group are not guaranteed to show any patience and so Armand may find himself insulted, chased down or simply kicked.

Armand being kicked may be a bad thing for the raid. He may be a great tank and was just using slightly different tactics or his own initiative to rescue a bad tactical situation – but who knows what’s right if Lichknig hasn’t spoken since trade chat? Now that Armand’s gone the group will spend a fun two hours sitting in LFG waiting for another tank who can linky linky. Meanwhile, Lichknig’s reputation may be on a slippery slope as Armand tells his friends and guildies about his experience. Not only that, Armand may have assembled another group and led them to victory over the same instance by the time Lichknig links up with a replacement.

That’s just one reason why a linky linky group could doom you to an evening of frustration.

  • It damages recruitment chances by needlessly cutting out great chunks of potential recruits who may genuinely have the skill to learn the instance anew or the knowledge to do it from experience on another character. All because their toon doesn’t have the achievement.
    • A friend of mine has a geared but unachieved alt who keeps getting declined for the last spot of linky linky Onyxia 25 runs, yet his main regularly main tanks and raid leads successful Onyxia 25 groups
  • It’s all about ‘ez mode’. Linky linky groups want the run to be fast, almost mechanical, with as little difficulty as possible. It’s almost like expecting a group of strangers to boost you, and at level 80 end game content, for Pete’s sake

EZMode

  • It’s exclusive and Not Too Bright ™. If you teach more players the tactics or encounters then you personally will have a bigger pool of competent players from which to recruit. They’ll be used to your tactics and be grateful for the experience
  • It’s prone to turn into a needlessly competitive environment in which players forget that their teammates are other people who they might enjoy chatting to, just as much as they forget that epics are just purple pixels. I’ve actually seen people insult other DPSers of their class in VoA runs, and have often wondered if they’re trying to reduce the competition for loot
  • The longer term effect of ‘linky linky’. All of the above can combine into a solid mindset that seeps into a player and through a realm to produce a tendency to make snap judgements about other players’ skill based on very little information

So what am I talking about with the last point? I was recently PUGging on my restoration shaman Apeorsa alongside a tank friend of mine. We’d not long hit 80 but were both gearing fast and are experienced players. We’d had bad luck in PUGs that week but the ‘caek’ was really taken on the Friday evening when we joined a VoA25 group. The raid leader was not exactly Mr. Chatty (albeit hereby christened so) and when my tank friend asked who the MT was, she was unceremoniously kicked. Apparently this was payment for her asking stupid questions like who the tanks were and for having “pathetic” health.

All very sad but so what, I hear you cry. Well, I think Mr. Chatty’s attitude was partly born from the longer term linky linky effect that I mentioned. I’ve noticed an unpleasant tendency for some PUGgers to assume that everyone who wants to be ‘on their team’ will be kitted to the teeth with iLevel 245s – or at least they jolly well should be, by gosh. Anyone who isn’t so kitted is in danger of being automatically weighed, measured and found wanting before they’ve had a chance to prove they’re more than their gear. Indeed – it happens the moment they set foot in the raid or draw attention to themselves by asking the simplest of questions.

And once attention is on them – well, it’s too late. The other player will judge them based on mis-information, forget that different classes and players prioritize different stats, or just look at half a picture of their stats – such as Mr. Chatty looking at the tank’s health and drawing conclusions. Heaven forbid that he might look them up and get a full picture of composite stats. My tank friend wandered off after the disastrous and brief recruitment into Mr. Chatty’s VoA group to easily tank Ony25. Mr. Chatty, having lost a tank and main healer team, was still in LFG 25 minutes after the incident.

There also seems to be a nasty accompanying assumption by some players that basic group information doesn’t need to be shared and that anyone who asks questions is away with the fairies – or that possibly the fairies will sort everything out so they don’t have to. Not only that, there’s the simple fact that my tank friend felt thoroughly dejected after the response he got from Mr. Chatty. Why should we care? Simply because this is a social experience. Being an unfriendly twerp isn’t going to improve the game for anyone involved.

So all in all I firmly believe that the linky linky mindset is destructive and can be emotionally taxing – or even turns its players into machines. I agree that it can be important to vet PUGgers for some things – particularly higher end raids. Personally I favour an approach which allows anyone to apply for a group spot regardless of their knowledge of the encounter. It’s important to take a player’s gear into account to some extent. I check everyone on WoW-Heroes before deciding if they get an invite. This gives me a better indication of their overall gearing level and stat logic for an instance than does merely looking at their total health. And to be honest – the other thing they need is not to be our Mr. Chatty. I can teach someone tactics; I can’t teach them to be a Nice Person. That’s when their wheels fall off as far as I’m concerned.

So what do you think? Do tell, as I’d love to get a debate going on this one – it’s been a bee in my bonnet for a while now. All opinions welcome! Am I being too harsh on linky linky? Do you like the peace of mind the mindset conjures and look for raids which require you to compete and/or prove yourself? Have you had any really bad or good experiences in such a raid? What do you think the real effects of this particular – or other – types of PUG are?

And FYI – this week’s picture has been photo-shopped to remove trade spam and protect the identities of people involved.

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin of a raid leader. You can find my twitter feed here.