Tough Call: Time vs Talent

Tough Call: Time vs Talent

803068_47829639aWelcome back for another episode of Tough Call with me, Viktory.  Today I want to discuss roster evaluation, and specifically, two factors to look at when examining your depth charts.

You do have a depth chart for your raid positions right?

… Please tell me you have a depth chart for your various raid roles and you’re not just bringing whoever shows up first …

(For anyone who doesn’t get the sport analogy, a depth chart basically lists each position and ranks the players have that position in order. You have your go-to guy/gal, the back-up, the back-back-up, etc.)

Editor’s Note: Before we go any further, if you are of the steadfast opinion that nobody deserves to be benched, or that your best friends deserve a spot in every raid, you will likely want to stop now.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve got your full raid roster in front of you and you’re trying to figure out who’s going to make the cut and get a stable spot in your 25-man raid. Obviously you have certain roles you need to fill (tanks, healers, melee, ranged) and certain skills you need players to possess in those roles (AoE heals, interrupts, soak tank, kiting, etc).  You’ve got a lot of criteria to look at when deciding who is THE BEST player for you to bring to your raid. 

(Remember, “take the player, not the class” implies “take the best possible player”.

One of the more common downfalls I’ve seen leaders suffer, and one of the worst traps I’ve seen players try to spring on their Raid Leader, is the substitution of Time for Talent/Aptitude.

A few weeks ago I told you that “preparation is king”, and while that still holds true, by now you should be seeing who actually knows what’s expected of them, and who’s just reading a script.  In fact, if we think of raiding like a foreign language, we can come up with three archetypes.

Native Speakers

Some players have a lot of natural talent.  These players are the mage who always does crazy DPS and makes it look easy, the guy who plays a utility spec and still manages to do competitive DPS, the healer who can instinctively spot issues with the raid and react in a clutch moment (see Matticus in his prime*).  Everyone loves to have these guys around, especially when they don’t act entitled or get lazy because they think they’re too good to need to put in the grunt work.

*Note: I said “see”, not “listen to”.  He’s a horrible story-teller.

Fluent Professionals

Other players have to work hard to produce the output you’re looking for.  Think Rudy here, the guy with a lot of heart who does his homework and gives you the results you’re looking for.  As a leader you know that he’s always reading up on the relevant websites, maybe talking to other progression raiders who play his spec, and is constantly seeking ways to improve.  Through their effort, they are just as good, or nearly as good as your top tier guys.  The key here is that you DO see them improving, carrying their load, and not causing wipes.

I think a “perfect raid” is filled with a solid mix of these two personalities.  However, we need to minimize or weed-out the last group:

Tourists

The personality to absolutely avoid is the “trained noob”, to borrow a term from Pure Pwnage.  These are players who bring sub-par skill, spend a lot of time logged on, but instead of learning and absorbing their class mechanics, they may have only learned the accepted boss strat.  These are the guys at the cafe with their French-to-English dictionary out, trying to look-up each word the waiter just said, because they were not expecting that response.

Players like this will present a liability to your raid anytime things deviate from the norm.  Get bad RNG on a boss, or timers that don’t line up with the abilities the boss is using, and you can bet that these players will be toast.  Customize the Tankspot strat to meet the capabilities of your raid, and you just may find these guys out of position and thoroughly confused.

Don’t be fooled by people who have a lot of time and very little aptitude.  It all comes down to who can get the job done. 

It is up to you, as part of raid management, to spot the player who may have raid knowledge, but not raid awareness, and figure out a solution.  Determining who’s a “fluent professional” and who’s just a “tourist” will help boost your raid output (and morale) immensely. 

If it’s my call, I’d put that person as far back on my depth chart as possible, only bringing them when I must class-stack, or when other players are missing, and I’d definitely keep recruitment open until I found a good core that was made up all “native speakers” and “fluent professionals”.

Please leave any questions or suggestions for future topics neatly stacked in the comments below.  Shoot, if you’re so inclined, leave details of your most epic knitting accomplishment, too. Those are always cool.

Ranking Players with Elitist Group

Ranking Players with Elitist Group

elitist-group-head

I hesitated a bit when writing this post largely because I know how the community feels when it comes to “scoring” players. No one wants to be condensed to just a number or a value. At the same time, the idea of a player’s gearscore has evolved to into another concept where a players capability and potential can be scored.

Why rate players at all?

Its a good question. For raid leaders who are assembling their groups from strangers, it can be a bit of an exhausting process to individually armory players and figure out if they can compete in the level of content that is being worked on.

At the same time though, not everyone knows the strengths and appropriate stat weightings of every class or spec. I’m a healer. I don’t know much about Rogues or Hunters. I don’t know how to tell if they’re gemmed or enchanted properly.

When raid leaders are getting runs going, they have to balance two things: Players and time. We need to make sure we get ourselves a competent crew to run with. We need to make sure that we can assemble it within a reasonable amount of time or else people will simply leave because of time constraints. Between inspecting players, asking questions, and achievement checking, that time can add up especially when players get turned down.

What exactly does it measure?

Gearscore currently examines a players gear and assigns a value based on the overall “power” of their items. It doesn’t know whether a player enchanted or gemmed their gear wrong. It isn’t smart enough to determine whether a Ret Pally wearing cloth instead of plate should get penalized.

Gear does not determine player skill at all.

But it does determine the maximum damage, healing, or tanking a player can do.

Slide1

Let’s use a DPS player as an example. The above table represents in my mind the two qualities I look at when bringing in a player.

  • Gear: Like it or not, gear ultimately determines the range at which a player can do damage. The better the gear, the higher the potential. They can still do low damage even though they have competitive gear.
  • Skill: You can’t look at the skills of a player until after you run with them at all. Personally, I like to assume the best. I’ll rely on their achievements for a better look. While its true that people can get carried when clearing Trial of the Crusader, its difficult to say that when the player in question has killed Anub’Arak on Trial of the Grand Crusader.

Both aspects are intertwined to a degree.

gear-graph

These are extremely rough estimates and I know that encounters will have a huge determining factor in the overall DPS that can be done. Its also going to vary by class mechanics and so forth.

Lets just assume for the second its the same player on all four characters with different levels of gear. In all cases, he could do 1000 DPS. Maybe this Elemental Shaman would bind Lightning Bolt to every key and just faceroll all over it.

But if the player is using every cooldown and nailing every rotation, then what restricts his damage is his gear. Only one set of gear is going to allow Elmo, the Elemental Shaman to do or exceed 6000 DPS. Its all about potential.

Lets move on to Elitist Group

I wrote about this on No Stock UI this morning, but I wanted to mention the usefulness of this tool to raid leaders and what type of information I’d glean by looking at this.

elitist-group-1

This is the sheet of my Retribution Paladin, Valoray. Its a bit outdated. I picked up a new cloak and chest and haven’t gotten around to enchanting either of them. Anyway, according to Elitist Group, I’m using a tanking Libram (really?) There are a list of suggested dungeons down the middle that I can participate in. EG has tallied up what I have along with the gems I have and has assigned me a gear rating of 239. This means that my Paladin is theoretically able to compete in Icecrown Citadel raids as long as they are not heroic.

(Also, I need a reminder to switch to an Exorcism glyph once I hit a certain amount of expertise which I can’t remember the value of)

But what about my skills and my experience?

Over on the right pane, you can see the list of raids and achievements that I have completed.

Hmm.

No hard mode achievements. Fully cleared Trial of the Crusader. Made some slight progress in Icecrown Citadel. Didn’t knock out Ulduar entirely.

This Paladin fails. Lets move on to someone else.

elitist-group-6

And here we have my Elemental Shaman.

Still using that Deathchill Cloak. EG has red flagged my chest and legs. I’m using spellpower and stamina gems in them. And my legs are also using the spellpower and spirit leg enchants.

What a terrible Elemental Shaman.

Glyphs seem to be okay (although I heard Glyph of Totem of Wrath is making a comeback?) A gear rating of 237 indicates that my Shaman is slightly less powerful than my Paladin. But what about her experience? Mousing over the Ulduar 25 raids, we can see that the Shaman has at least 1 Yogg-Saron kill under her belt. She meets the EG recommendations for Icecrown Citadel on 10 and 25.

She even has 36% completed in Trial of the Grand Crusader having taken down heroic Val’kyr Twins twice (although to be fair, that group lucksauced it with the door strat).

Given the choice, I’d probably pick the Elemental Shaman because she has done a bit more in the game then the Ret Paladin has.

(Although in due practice, I clocked about 4900 DPS on Saurfang last night on 25 so I’m questioning my Elementaling abilities, sadface)

elitist-group-3

Lastly, the Notes system can be used for further information in the future. After you finish a run, you can add a rating from 1-5 and leave a little comment. Each comment you leave overrides the previous one. You can use it to leave useful things like:

  • Has dual spec and can tank or heal
  • Only wants to run for Emblems
  • Has a DPS alt named <blank>
  • Managed to outheal Matt (Invite him, it makes him look bad)

(If you’re wondering about the comments on the screenshot, I happened to be doing some Ebaying of MTG cards at the time. Speaking of MTG, I started another blog specifically for it: Topdeck.me)

In any event, use Elitist Group. It condenses most of the information you need into one accessible place. You can see what they’ve done and get an idea of what the character is ready for. To a healer like me who doesn’t know enough about other classes to make snap judgments, this advises me on whether or not I should outright reject a player or consider them.

Then again, I rely on other experienced players to handle the inviting :D.

Hey Everyone! Look at the new guy!!

Don’t recognize the new name being tossed around the site, do ya?  I hope it doesn’t scare you.  All will be well.  I’m going take a minute to get you acquainted with that sexy bald dwarf you’ll be hearing from more often.

Hopefully, you’ve started to become familiar with some of my guest posts here, here, here, and here. 

Well, Matticus finally decided that he was tired of me sending him post after post after post and actually gave me this little promotion.  Boy, what a mistake that was!  Mwa-ha-ha!  (Just kidding, Matt.)

Why I’m Here

I’m here because I have a profound passion for this game, and I really like to blog about it.  Namely, the community, the escape, and everything the game has to offer.  I try to remain versatile and familiar with all aspects of the game.  I raid, arena, BG, whore myself out for acheivements, and anything else I can do with good people.

I play two 80s right now.  A feral tank and 2nd shaman are in the leveling mix.

My Dwarf Priest, Thespius, is specced Discipline.  I can proudly tout myself as one of the members of Lodur’s elite healing team in Unpossible on the Zul’jin server.  He and I have found an awesome synergy and work really well together when it comes to big green numbers.

My other 80 is a Draenei Shaman I play on the Nazjatar realm.  It’s my casual toon that I play with some RL friends.  My brother plays over there as well.

My Gaming History

I used to always be a console gamer.  NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD (yes, I owned it), N64, Playstation, PS2, Xbox, and now Xbox 360.  Some of my favorite games of all time are still Legend of Zelda (all the titles on NES and SNES, but I could never get into the N64 series), NBA Jam (Sega Genesis), and Final Fantasy VII.  I can still play those games for hours on end.

In 2003, some friends roped me into buying Star Wars: Galaxies when it launched that summer.  My first MMO.  For those that remember the game, I did the whole holo-grind, the 32-ish profession grind that lead to unlocking my Jedi.  The most fun I had in game wasn’t necessarily the game itself but the people I was gaming with.  MMO seemed like a fun genre.

My brother tried to get me into WoW just after it launched, but I was so into my Jedi grind in SWG that I couldn’t make the switch.  It wasn’t until the fall of 2006 that I started my warlock, Thespius.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

My History

Without boring you guys TOO much, I’ll just go over the basics. 

I live in Chicago, IL.  I was born and raised in the area.  It’s home and I love it.  My undergraduate degree is in Acting Performance, and I pursued a full-time acting career for the past 6 years.  After a fairly successful run (mix in some odd jobs to make ends meet), I’ve decided the whole “starving artist” archetype wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life.  I still perform around the city in my spare time, and I also pursue a small voiceover career on the side.

The goal from here?  I’m in graduate school for Secondary Education in English.  I’m open to the idea of eventually working up to a professorship at a university, but we’ll see.  Other than that, I’m just enjoying life.  I’m excited to see where my love of WoW takes me.

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Twitter: @Thespius       Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com