5 Things Jack Bauer Taught Me About Raiding

5 Things Jack Bauer Taught Me About Raiding

Jack Bauer 
Photo courtesy of Kiefer-Rocks

I’m into the whole action hero counter-terrorism deal. I read a lot of Tom Clancy  (Rainbow Six) when I was younger. I like to play special forces oriented shooters when I’m not playing Warcraft. I check out 24 every so often when it’s showing on TV. Jack Bauer is one of my favourite fictional characters. Hell, if I could have the guy as my Guild leader, I’d be all over it. I mean sure he’s a little intimidating, but if you can look beyond his torturing and his willingness to kill, he seems like a nice guy that gets things done.

He’d roll a Warrior, I bet.

There’s a lot of important lessons you can find from his quotes throughout the years and I feel that raiders would benefit from it. Potential new raiders would also benefit from the wisdom of Jack Bauer. So what is he trying to tell you? What is he trying to say? I will do my utmost to translate his words into something you can understand and interpret.

[to Audrey, who was held by the Chinese for a few months]
Jack Bauer: I know what it’s like to feel like it’s never going to end.

Welcome to raiding. It’s a huge time investment. You almost never know when it’s going to end. After a while, you’re going to wish that it will end especially on marathon nights when Guild leaders are in their "just one more attempt" mood. There will be nights where you will wipe repeatedly for a long time and it really is going to feel like it’s never going to end.

But hey, Jack Bauer was in a Chinese prison for 20 months. You’ve only had to wipe on Kael for 6 hours. Suck it up and move on, soldier.

[from Season 5 preview]
Jack Bauer: If you don’t tell me what I want to know, then it’ll just be a question of how much you want it to hurt.

At the top of my blog, there is a banner with five glowing words that encompass the overall principle that I hold dear not just in Warcraft but in life: Power Through Knowledge and Reason. Only with knowledge can one understand power. But only with reason can that power be used wisely. There are some things that players must know when raiding. There are gimmicks, traps, toys, and other random garbage being thrown our way. We have to know what they are. If we don’t know it, then we can’t prepare ourselves for it. If we don’t have a clear understanding of what we need to know, then it will hurt us big time.

Jack Bauer knows just about everything. If there’s something Jack Bauer doesn’t know, he’ll torture someone until he finds out. You just have to get off the couch and do a bit of reading and watch some videos.

Nina Myers: You’re lying.
Jack Bauer: Yes I am. But you’re still going to have to trust me.

Trust is a hard thing to do in a raid. No one likes to trust their fate on the ability of other players. If you’re like me, you’re a control freak and you want to be the only factor that affects your own fate. We don’t have that luxury in raids. I don’t deliver my promises all the time, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust my ability as a healer. Could you imagine what raiding would be like if no one trusted each other? Tanks would constantly break CC targets because they didn’t trust hunters to control them. Priests would bust fears on nearby mobs. Mages would blow ice block and blink cooldowns because they wouldn’t trust healers to keep them up. Nothing would get done! Sometimes you have to place your e-life in the hands of others to get what you want: phat lewt.

Of course, Jack Bauer doesn’t trust anybody. He doesn’t trust his friends, coworkers or his own government. Unfortunately, none of us are skilled as Jack Bauer when it comes to getting things done.

Jack Bauer: That’s the problem with people like you, George. You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty. I’d start rolling up your sleeves.

Raiding has some seriously enticing rewards especially to those that want to be the best. But you can’t just waltz in there and expect to get things handed to you. You have get down there and do the work on your own. Skill and talent or hard work and effort? I’d rather take the latter, personally. You can’t expect to stand there and spam one button to do the job, unless you’re a Resto Shaman. Going AFK isn’t going to cut it either. Raiding means that you have to seriously raid and work hard. Often times, it isn’t the most glorious of roles but someone has to do it.

From this, we learn that Jack Bauer is like most people. He rolls his sleeves up. Except when he rolls his sleeves up, it’s because he doesn’t want to get blood on his shirt.

Jack Bauer: I like working with you, Chase; you’re a nice kid. But don’t you ever come into my office and talk to me like that again, do you understand me?

There’s a certain kind of unspoken rule that needs to be followed when raiding. You should never openly question your raid leader. If he asks for help or suggestions, that’s okay. But never, ever override or tell others to do something else that the raid leader has already committed the raiders to do. That is a big giant no-no. You don’t talk to him in a condescending or disrespectful manner either. Because at the end of the day, he’s still your superior. If you want to continue raiding with the Guild you’re in, you better be able to follow those rules or else you won’t be in that Guild much longer.

Jack Bauer doesn’t take crap from anybody.

The Matticus Hypothesis

Even if instructions are explained over vent, there will always be someone who claims that they didn’t hear it.

As I write this, it’s a sunny sunday afternoon and we have just finished wipe one of a night that will be full of many wipes, I am sure.

This is what happened 5 minutes ago. The target is Archimonde. Our objective is to survive. Killing him would be nice. But our main goal is to practice airbursts and doomfires. The Guild QB starts speaking:

"If you see Doomfire coming in your direction, run in a straight line behind you. If you’re a healer, make sure other healers know that you’re running so that someone can keep a close eye on Lang. He’s going to be tanking this guy."

Another lead speaks up at this point, "We don’t want doomfires to encircle and isolate the raid and box them in. It is absolutely imperative and important that you run in a straight line behind you. Remember that we’re setting up compass positions for this one and we’re cheating slightly towards the cliff. I’m going to say again. If a doomfire comes towards you, run in a straight line behind you."

"Lang, call the ball."

Our MT then proceeds to pull.

30 odd seconds later, Doomfire appears. The affected run back in a straight line. So far so good, I think to myself. Archimonde is very much a survival fight.

Things suddenly turn from good to bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a fire that’s chasing a player who is doing twists and turns throughout the raid. He cuts towards the world tree then back towards the cliff face where we initially started.

I managed to smite Archimonde for a cool 6000 damage before I drop.

The friendly sounding raid QB is gone. His voice changed to that of a stock trader wanting to know why he’s losing money.

"Why was that doomfire chasing someone into the raid? Wait, more importantly, why did that person turn into the raid causing it to cut off players?"

He proceeds to single out one of the players and asks, "Why did you not run in a straight line?"

"I didn’t hear it."

There is stunned silence. It is so quiet that a library basement would have been more noisier.

"Okay then," the raid leader says quietly, "make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Thank goodness the legal drinking age in Canada is 19.

Prayers Were Answered

 

We prayed long and we prayed hard. Even though it took 9 attempts, I had a feeling the big loot god in the sky smiled upon us (after deciding to slap us around a bit). But then he pulled the rug out from right under us. What a cruel joke. Like honestly. First he picks the same guy like three times in a row. This is a guy who has NEVER seen the fight before and JUST got briefed on it 5 minutes after we got there. Not only that, after kill him we only get one real piece of loot.

Sure enough:

Totem of Ancestral Guidance
Shadowmoon Destroyer’s Drape

 

I look forward to seeing the Twisted Blades of Zarak drop next week.

I’d also like to point out that I did 2860 DPS on that encounter and was 2nd on damage meters. 150 APM (actions per minute) helps a lot. I will definitely have to make a video for this stage. This is like the only encounter in the entire game where I get to DO something aside from healing! *squeal*

Which Raiding Aspect of 2.4 are you Looking Forward To? [NEW POLL]


Image courtesy of thanx from SXC

The PTRs are chugging along. Every day there are new builds and new changes that are matched by restored abilities (such as the warlock buff). Most of the heckling now revolves around class balancing and the like. The changes to the 25 man raids are aimed at helping every guild at any level to progress in the game as much as possible before the next expansion arrives.

What are you looking forward to in raids?

So, this is a really large patch! There’s no way I can squeeze every change onto my side poll. Therefore, I’m condensing it to raid related changes only.

Increase in gold drops from 25 man bosses

This is a huge boon for players like me who don’t have the time or the energy to farm on a regular basis. It will help offset repair bills somewhat. I was told 25 man bosses would drop 500g resulting in 25 per player. On the other hand, there’s a screenshot out there in existence with Brutalis dropping 250g (10 per player).

Additional set token drops from 25 man bosses

I wonder now if they’ll end up increasing the amount of loot that drops from non-set token dropping bosses to equalize the amount of loot they provide. The extra token drops will help in terms of progression, that’s for sure.

Removal of attunements in Mount Hyjal and Black Temple

There’s been a ton of reactions to the removal of attunements. I killed Kael several weeks ago and all I’m about to get is some lousy title. I can kind of understand where players are coming from about their wasted time and such. To be honest, I’m looking forward to this change the most. Why? Because then I won’t ever have to step back into SSC and TK to attune ONE more player EVERY week. A lot of blogs I’ve read haven’t even mentioned that. I guess they’re too focused on the individual to think of the whole. Just think about all that time that is now freed up without having to go back into the T5 areas.

New raid instance and challenges

The last real world event we had was Naxx, wasn’t it? Even then, I never really participated that much. It’s nice to have another world event to participate in again as well as a new raiding instance.

Shiny new purples

Don’t kid yourself. There’s a small loot whore in every single one of us. We all want the best gear in the game. There’s a ton of new badge loot, faction rewards, and raid drops.

Honourable Mention

Druid nerfs

I was going to list druid nerfs as a possible 6th option. Somehow, I don’t think that would go over very well with several of my esteemed blogging colleagues. I might wake up one morning and find one of my wings on my shoulders shredded or something. Who knows what druids do for pranks anyway?

If what you’re looking forward to isn’t listed on the poll, then by all means leave a comment stating what you can’t wait to see!

Which Raiding Aspect of 2.4 are you Looking Forward to the Most?

  • All those new shiny purples! (30%, 136 Votes)
  • Additional set tokens from 25 man bosses! (27%, 122 Votes)
  • New raid instance and challenge! (25%, 110 Votes)
  • Removal of attunements into Mount Hyjal and Black Temple! (11%, 49 Votes)
  • Increase in Gold drops from 25 man bosses! (7%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 446

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Silly SSC Mistakes

I’ll have to skip out on my usual digest post this week sadly. It’s exam week and as a result, lower time spent. Don’t expect anything else until Tuesday evening.

This is the kind of stuff that can easily turn a 3 hour run into a 6 hour run. Kudos to the folks at Fallen Heroes for allowing us to borrow their instance (Lurker down). In this really short post for today, I’m going to let you in on some of the stupidest mistakes that top tier raiding guilds can make. You look at these errors and mistakes and it seems so plainly obvious. But when you’re actually in there in the heat of the moment, things can go from bad to oh crap at any given moment. We popped into SSC due to the lack of manpower for Hyjal ops.

Hydross

Wipe 1: Shadow Priest stood on the wrong side of the “line of scrimmage”. He didn’t wait the requisite 3+ seconds for our tank to secure Hydross. Sure enough, Hydross crossed and we pulled 8 elementals. Positioning is oh so very important! Make sure you stand on the side that Hydross is on. At least if you pull, you won’t make 4 new friends!

Tidewalker

Wipe 2: Simple miscommunication here did us in. We were at the 27% mark and our bear tank was going to mosey Tidewalker up from his spot and tuck him into the side between the pillar and the wall. Problem? Healer’s didn’t hear the tank. Yeah the onus was probably on our end to move up with him. By the time we realized what happened, he had already parked himself out of line of sight and took several shots to the face. He did call out that he was moving him in vent. Unfortunately, no one heard him. So if you’re in charge of calling out a particularly relevant and important piece of information, make sure you speak up. If you call it out and don’t so much as get an acknowledgment, yell it louder until you do.

Fathom-Lord

Wipe 3: My fault but my hands were absolutely tied. I think the worse time to get a disconnect in WoW is DURING a pull. What makes this worse is that I’m the only healer on the Hunter tank. You can kind of imagine how that worked out. I noticed too late that we were standing around much to long and vent was far too quiet. This was right after a ready check, as well. It just goes to show that players can fail under the most ordinary and routine of situations.

Leotheras

Wipe 4: Oddly enough, we didn’t even wipe to Leo personally. We wiped to his 3 cronies in front that kept him in place. True it had been about 6 – 8 weeks since we last foray’d into SSC. We also had 3 players that we’re trying to key up to increase utility. Like a bunch of sheep, several of the players stacked up in one area attempting to DPS down Leo’s mobs. What they forgot were the AOE mind blasts that those mobs cast. Every once in a while, players need to be reminded that they are not supermen. Just because you’ve picked up flashy T6 level gear does not mean you can stop doing the simple lessons that kept you alive in the first place. In this case, it was to take down 1 at a time.

Lady Vashj

Wipe 5: We breezed through most of phase 1 and half of phase 2 with no real difficulties. As luck would have it, we hit a crimp in our plans when our Strider kiting Warlock bit the bullet and went down. Our Shadow Priest took a multishot to the face. I also think we lost a mage there at some point. It all took place within a space of 10 seconds. The boss took a note of that and called a wipe immediately so that everyone could run to the stairs. What he erred out on was that our Shadow Priest got the call for a battle res and our warlock chewed down a soul stone to get back up. What was a deficit of 3 players was now of 1 player. We might have had an outside chance for that. I think what happened here was that our Raid Leader made a judgment call far too early without ascertaining what kind of resources were free to get the dead players back in action.

Wipe 6: This one takes the cake for the most stupidest wipe of the night. We forgot to change it from group loot to FFA loot. The first core was only lootable by our MT who is busy trying to stave off the Naga’s coming up those stairs. By the time he got to it, it had already despawned. Repeat that another 2 times and you can see that we were way behind the game on that one and would have been eventually overwhelmed. There are encounters where FFA looting is a requirement. Make sure you check to see if the encounter you are doing is one of them!

Healers: Simplify Your Healing Tank Targets

New hotness

Nowadays, our raids frequently carry as little as 3 tanks to as many as 5. Keeping track of who’s heaing who can be a bit of a doozy. Even the tiniest confusion or overlap can be wipe a raid. Here’s a quick tip make assigning heals easier.

Old and Busted

In older raids, we’d have only 1 main tank and maybe a handful of off tanks. Jobs back then were pretty static. A set number of healers would overheal the main tank while the rest of the healer benchwarmers and waterboys would keep tabs on the off tanks. It worked fine then because the encounters weren’t that complicated to deal with. But oh how times have changed.

New Hotness

I’m introducing a new concept of mine that I came up with a few months ago. It started when my Guild began working on Hydross. As you know, Hydross requires 2 different tanks to jump and hold aggro on him. It doesn’t make sense to say heal the main tank. There’s only one real main tank. Even then, that main tank might be rotated off to different roles or different mobs depending on things like resistance fights and such. For some fights, it’s impossible and even inconvenient to declare a single main tank. A great example is a fight such as Al’ar where you end up using as many as 4 tanks simultaneously. When you’re fighting Leotheras, half the time you’re healing a warlock who by most definitions would not be considered your Guild’s main tank.

Chances are your Guild’s already doing it. I’m simply putting a name to it.

The Active Tank

I defined the active tank as the player that’s currently holding aggro on the main boss right now. It could be any player or any class on the the boss at any time. It’s usually determined by the target of target window.

An example of healing assignments for Al’ar on Phase 2:

  • Pete the Paladin is healing Tim who is grabbing all the birds
  • Reginald and Riley, the 2 Resto Shamans, will be healing the raid
  • Penelope, Price, and Dominic (2 Priests and a Druid) will be healing the active tank which could either be Tyler, Thomas, or Tootoo

If you’re the healing leader, you’re going to recognize what a pain in the ass it is to tell your healers:

“Heal Tyler, Tootoo or Thomas, whoever happens to have aggro on Al’ar at the moment.”

It’s easier to tell your Priests to cover the active tank. By saying that, your healers should recognize that their job is to heal whoever has aggro on the boss.

I’m always on the lookout for different labels and methods to make healing assignments easier on a raid. Are there other ways that you use or that your Guild uses to simply healing assignments more?

Structuring Your Casual Raiding Guild

King and his Pawns

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to read Karthis’ post on Building a Raiding Guild. In it, he posed several excellent points:

  • Progression Results
  • Leadership Restructuring
  • Smart Recruiting
  • Identifying and Assisting Underachievers
  • Accountability of the Raid
  • “Pat on the backs”
  • Separation of Raiders and Non-Raiders

The other day, an ingame friend of mine asked me to help him create the blueprint of a raiding guild from top to bottom identifying positions and the like. I figured my current Guild model would be a good one to use along with an explanation of each role both within the Guild and within the Raid.

Gnometastic posted a request for input about diving into the T5 instances which I will also address at the bottom of today’s (long ass) piece.

The first thing I will stress to any casual raiding guild is the following: Drop the casualness. The moment you decide to step foot in you T5 instances, you are an official raiding Guild.

What IS casual

From my various experiences and chats with other guilds, casual to THEM means:

    Not reading up on strategy before hand
    Not listening to the raid leader
    Not paying attention or having any kind of situational awareness

And they wonder why they have such a hard time in SSC and TK.

This is what casual means to me

    Not spending more than 6 hours a night raiding
    Not spending more than 3 days raiding
    Not being stupid while having fun

1 definition describes a guild that is struggling night after night in T5 instances and wonders what they have problems. The other is having a blast exploring Mount Hyjal and Black Temple.

Guild Positions

Here’s the framework of our Guild:

Guild Leader

We only have 1. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. The ultimate decision rests on him. Any hard calls are his to make. We are not tied down or restricted in any kind of way. Your Guild Leader should be rational, intelligent, and must actually have a pair.

I’ve seen a lot of paper tiger Guild Leaders who were not willing to stand up for themselves and their Guild. Everytime someone made a request, they would immediately bend over backwards to accommodate them. The way I see it, if you’re not willing enough to say no to someone in your Guild, you are not fit to lead. I wrote more about Leadership earlier in the school year. Any aspiring GMs, I encourage you to read it.

Your Guild Leader obviously cannot run the show alone. But he must be willing to listen to opinion of his officers and guildies. The guild in turn must respect the decision he comes to. If they don’t like it, they’re free to hit free agency.

Don’t run a CO-GM kind of deal. In my experience, I’ve found that it rarely works well. When 1 GM puts their foot down, the other may not be as firm. In fact, the 2nd GM might even reverse the first GM’s decision. You cannot that kind of instability in a Guild.

Officers

If you read Kestrel’s interview the other day, then you can see his best advice to any GM is one simple fact:

    You can’t do it all.

These are players that people can turn to for help. There isn’t really much for them to do. They could assist in various day to day guild affairs. Honestly, whoever you put in these positions depends primarily on what your Guild Leader lacks.

If he lacks time and organizational skills, he can delegate an officer to help him set raid schedules.

If he’s lacking people skills, delegate a recruiting officer or 2 to help find some raiders and personnel.

What they do isn’t important.

The bottom line is that these are individuals that your Guild leader can trust and depend on. There is no perfect set of criteria that can define who is eligible to be an officer and who isn’t.

Raid Structure

Here’s the real meat and potatoes. I think our raid structure is a pretty damn efficient model.

Raid Leaders

Note the plural. We have 2 raid leaders who feed off of each other because it’s impossible for 1 person to track everything going off simultaneously. It’s nice to have another leader around to call out something the other might miss.

In addition, it helps reduces burnout on 1 person. We have 1 person research and call the play for 1 boss. We have the other raid leader research and call the play for another boss. For example, our GM doubles as a raid leader (let’s call him Bob). He calls the play for Lurker, Fathom Lord, Tidewalker, and Al’ar. The other raid leader (let’s call him Fred) calls the plays for Vashj, Kael, and Leotheras.

During trash pulls, they light up the marks on the various mobs. They call for what it is that they want to happen. They might want a sheep on square, a misdirect on skull, or a trap on circle. They don’t care who does it as long as it’s done.

They have delegated duties down the chain of command.

Mage Leader

The job here for the mage leader is to set up and organize sheeps, plain and simple. If Bob calls for a sheep, the mage leader picks a mage within the raid and tells them to sheep that target. There’s going to be pulls where there could be 6+ mobs involved and keeping track of sheeps can be difficult. It’s the job for the mage to know who sheeps what when. It’s also the job for this mage to be able to “oh shit sheep” a mob incase 1 of the other mages fall.

Set up a mage channel.

Hunter Leader

Typically, our raiding arsenal includes 2 Hunters. They’re usually good about working out misdirects and traps amongst themselves. If you have more then that, it might be valuable to set up a go-to hunter to work out which mob or boss gets misdirected to who by which hunter so that there are no overlaps. Our Hunters usually interact with the mage leader in case they run out of mages to CC with.

Hunters: The Plan B.

Heal Leader

We like to dub ours “Gold Leader”. We even have our own healing channel. His purpose is pretty obvious and straight forward. He assigns the rest of the healers their targets. He’s intelligent enough to reassign or switch people around if it’s necessary.

For the love of god, if you’re a healer, ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ASSIGNMENT. Echo back to him who you’re healing so that he knows there is no confusion!

Other Things to Know

I’m going to make a comment directed to Gnometastic in particular to all of his main points that he wanted to know more about.

Main Tanks

Carnage runs 1 Main Tank and 1 Off tank. The MT is a Warrior and the OT is a Druid. We also run 2 DPS Warriors who can slap a shield on and help with any extra parts of an encounter. We also have a Holy Paladin who’s willing to go Prot and vice versa as we need depending on the encounter.

Speccing into Raiding

As quoted by gnometastic:

I believe in freedom of choice and as long as you can play it you should be able to (within reason) spec it.

Normally, I’m inclined to agree. But this must be balanced by asking the following question:

    How badly you want to progress?

The 2 DPS warriors I mentioned above? They are willing to respec prot if the encounter requires it or there is simply too much healing required. Both of them respecced prot to allow healers an easier time during Kael.

On the flip side, if I were asked to do something like respec to Shadow, I would not. I’ve never played or levelled as Shadow. I wouldn’t know what to do. I would gimp the raid even further. I have no objections to sitting out a night in favor of another Shadow Priest.

If I were to become benched for the remainder of my time, then nothing stops me from parting company on good terms. I’m sure there are Guilds out there looking for a veteran healer.

Looting System

Hmm, it’s a toughie. It depends primarily on the Guild. Guilds have to start being strategic with their loot at some point. No matter what system is used, always ensure that Officer discretion can come into play at some point.

Carnage had the past policy of awarding MT priority on loot. That is, if it’s a substantial and noticeable upgrade for the tank, he gets first option no matter what his DKP is. If you think the MT might abuse that privilege, then I say to you to go find yourself a new MT.

There was a situation the past where a Defender token dropped. It would have been a marginal upgrade at best for the MT, but the 2 piece set bonus would have been a huge boon for the Priest. It was lobbied quite hard by our healer lead to have the MT policy revised to keep things like this in mind.

PvP vs PvE Gear

I made a quick note about this a while ago as a response to a reader. Before I believe that PvP Gear could not subsitute for raiding. Now I believe that there are different factors to take into account when deciding this.

    Raid Encounter
    Which season of gear

Although I still would not suggest raiding with full on Season 3 gear, I am open to the idea of substituting a a piece of gear or 2 depending on how the fights are. The Vindicator’s bracer would hands down blow away any kind of bracer that Attumen drops.

In any case, the gear choice isn’t that different for DPS classes I don’t think. But as a healer, I would value PvE gear way more then PvP gear.

By the way, be hit capped before worrying too much about spell damage and crit. That’s what my colleagues tell me and if you think about it, it does make sense. After all, what is the point of having insane spell damage if your spells get resists half the time?

Attendance and Raid Breakdown

From my experience with certain DKP systems, I’ve discovered that you can also apply a certain decay rate over DKP via a simple formula. For example, DKP earned x percentage of raids showed up to over the past 60 days.

Raider A has 100 DKP but his attendance has slackened to 30% attendance to real life factors. His effective DKP is now 30.
Raider B is new to the Guild and has 30 DKP so far but has been to 100% of the raids. He doesn’t have a penalty applied since he has showed up to all of them.

Here’s the standard Carnage configuration that we bring:

4 Tanks

  • 3 Warriors (2 of which can be DPS)
  • 1 Feral Druid (OT)

14 DPS

  • 2 Hunters (BM, I think)
  • 4 Mages
  • 3 Warlocks
  • 1 Shadow Priest
  • 1 Enhancement Shaman
  • 2 Rogues
  • We keep an extra Rogue, Shadow Priest, Elemental Shaman, and Hunter on standby depending on what we need more of.

7 Healers

  • 2 Holy Priests (1 with Imp. DS and 1 with CoH)
  • 3 Holy Paladins
  • 1 Resto Druid
  • 1 Resto Shaman
  • We keep an extra Paladin around in case he is needed.

For Voidreaver, Gnome, bring a Resto Shaman or 3. It makes the other healer classes kind of moot. I always wonder what I’m doing there when we do Voidreaver.

In terms of attendance, we do it inversely. If you can’t show up you make a note on the forums in advance. That gives the Raid leaders time to go scramble a replacement instead of having to do it last minute. We build the raid out of whoever is there with the core members. They are the ones that usually show up 9.9 times out of 10. I think I’ve only ever missed 2 official raids ever since I signed with Carnage back in May. The guys that should be raiding are the ones that want to raid and are willing to make the dedication for it.

We also don’t switch our MT/OT combinations. The MT is made the same no matter what. However, there are certain encounters where a Bear tank is better suited then a Warrior tank (Leo).

Class Balance

It honestly depends on the boss and the instance. We like to bring in 7 AoE. It makes killing things that much faster.

In the end, it does come down to how serious and committed you are. I think 20 hours a week is a bit much. Attrition will take it’s toll sooner or later. I know some successful raiding Guilds going at 6 hours a week. We clock in about 12 hours of 25 mans plus an additional 6 hours of optional 10 mans if we want.

This piece is probably one of the longer ones I’ve written. I probably should have broken it up and divided it. At the least, I would have had material for 3 days worth of posts. But you’re always welcome to bookmark and come back to it at a later time. I’m hoping the experiences I’ve had can benefit you in some way.

I’m kind of curious as to the experiences of other raiding readers. How is your guild set up in terms of class balance and leadership? Is there only 1 individual leading the entire raid including direction sheeps, heals, and so forth (Bless him)? Have you had any success with other styles of leadership?

Guest Post: Synergies Between a Priest and a Hunter

This is a guest post from Trackhoof. Check out his blog at Survival Hunters Anonymous.

Well, Matticus wanted a nice little guest post, so’s he’s gonna get one!

I felt it’d be appropriate, as he plays a priest, and I play a hunter, and I used to play a priest, to talk about the awesome, ass-kicking synergy the two classes have for each other.

We’re talking Tango and Cash, Mick and Keef, Jay and Silent Bob, Glenn Tipton and K.K Downing, Jet Li’s left foot and Jet Li’s right foot; some seriously awesome kind of teamwork that creates things that are truly awesome.

First off, you have Hunter + Healy-Priest. This is still a solid combination, but more Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston than Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone. The priest does their job, keeps everybody in good health, and makes sure they’ve all got plenty of team spirit.

The Duty of a Hunter

The Hunter, on the other hand, is the wrangler. If possible, assign a hunter to protect a priest, or any other healer, all the time; they’re amazing DPS, but even better at peeling loose mobs off healers and sending them back to the tank. While boss strategies may require a different approach than most trash pulls, if possible, have a hunter protect each healer.

Hunters have lots of high-threat abilities, but even more importantly, the ability to re-direct threat to where it needs to go; so that rogue add who’s about to smack down your priest will get popsicle’d and sent back to your sword-and-boardsman in the space of ten seconds. Priests do have Fade, and while that DOES help with aggro, it won’t help as much as a good hunter will.

By the time you have them in raids, Hunters should understand the basics of their class, but also understand their dual role as an assist; they are the kings of emergency crowd control.

If they have pets, even better. If they’re Beastmastery, you have something even better than regular crowd control; crowd control with teeth. Intimidation, Growl, and threat-building abilities will make a mob’s head spin faster than a merry-go-round with a jet engine.

Marksmen should be masters of the Scatter-trap, and Survivalists have the almighty trapping skills. Wyvern sting is not something I’d recommend for this if you need more time to bring the tank over, but if you slap a Misdirect and unload on the sucker immediately, it’ll more than do the job.

Discipline Priests

Now, second, we have Discipline priests. They have great survivability, but above rules apply. Hunter = bodyguard. But it’s like giving a bodyguard to somebody that can fend pretty well on their own, but still needs the help anyway. Like assigning Chuck Lidell to be Jean-Claude Van Damme’s bodyguard.

Shadow Priests

Finally, we have the most synergistic of the combinations: Shadow Priests and Hunters.

This is what I’m talkin’ about!

First off, Shadow Priests take less physical damage, and can still use Power Word: Shield. Score! That makes life easier for any Hunter providing emergency CC.

Secondly, they have Mind Flay. It slows the target down, and makes them easier to intercept. Psychic Scream is another good one.

Thirdly, and most crucially, they have Vampiric Touch, on top of massive amounts of pew pew. I havent done any straight-up number crunching on the subject, but trust me, the proportion of Hunters who want Shadow Priests in their raid groups for this very reason is staggering.

We, as Hunters, are mana hogs. We are the SUV’s of mana conservation. Pairing us with Shadow Priests is like driving along and having somebody fill up our tank while we’re driving. If we happen to be Survival Hunters, then that SUV just became a Hybrid.

So, in summation – Holy Priests, come with us if you want to live. Discipline Priests, we respect your crazy asses, we’re here to help. Shadow Priests, don’t waste mana. Raid with a Hunter today.

-Track

Finally: The Kael’Thas Death Story

Kael'Thas down

I was debating between that title or 40 Raids and 40 Wipes.

But he’s dead. What a thrill! =)

We started him at 4:00 and killed him about 40 minutes later. First attempt of the night! That gives us about 4 hours to play with Mount Hyjal. Whoo hoo! Expect a Priest primer on Kael in the coming days and how to assign healers to the various assignments.

Anyways, can’t blog much right now. We’re heading into Hyjal.

A Glimpse in the Mind of a Priest

In 10 seconds, anything can go wrong. In upper level raiding, there’s a certain element of micro management that needs to be done. We tried Kael again today and we still could not polish him off. Our best attempt was at 57% in Phase 4. It’s like your trying to get a good solid grip on running water. You can feel it through your fingers but it continues to slip away elusive to your grasp.

Here’s a scenario of a crazy, paranoid, overanalyzing Dwarf Priest in overdrive on a Kael fight during Phase 3:

00:00

Thought process

Tank at full health. Weapon swing coming in half a second. A quick glance at the Heads-up display reveals a Fear happening in 3. Thaladred’s gazing at a Priest adjacent to me and is heading to my direction (Gaze means he’s going to walk towards a player and hit him hard).

Actions

Activate a shield on my healing assignment, and start moving north away from the incoming mob.

00:03

Thought Process

I currently represent half the healing on my tanking assignment as the other Priest is busy evading Thal. Big heals are a must as is the fear ward.

Actions

Fear Ward, Renew, Prayer of Mending.

00:09

Thought Process

Gaze is off my partner and is now on a hunter next to me who just went flying through the air and is sitting at 45%. A quick glance at my assignment with 80% health shows my partner has him targeted with a heal on the way about to land in 0.7 seconds.

Actions

Hunter’s not going to be able to sustain another hit. Target him, Shield, Renew, switch back to healing assignment.

00:14

Thought Process

“FEARED!”

I recognize that voice. It’s my Priest partner. There’s a tremor totem on the ground from the shaman in our group and it pulsed 2 seconds ago. Not enough time. Hunter should be fine and in the clear. I’m going to be on my own for the next several seconds on my assignment.

Actions

Prayer of Mending. Better hope the WoW gods are listening and that it is able to mitigate more damage then the tank is taking. Tank’s health returns up to 60%. Activate Divine Illumination. Additional 25% chance to crit is better than 10%.

00:18

Thought Process

Blue rings shimmer around my assignment. It looks familiar, what the hell does it mean? Too late, I think to myself. It’s a Remote Toy. That equals stun. Stun equals lack of ability to take defensive measures by my healing assignment. Which also means not good. He’s down to 35%. Adrenaline’s already coursing through the system. The coffee I had earlier in the day is all but exhausted. He needs a big time crit heal now.

Actions

Slam max rank Greater Heal now.

00:19

Thought Process

XPerl shows my colleague starting to cast a heal not a moment after I did. Wait a minute…

…He’s casting a Greater Heal, too.
…There’s only 2 of us healing him.
…Which means he has less then 2 seconds to live based on weapon swing timers from the boss…

Action

Do the simplest action to cancel a heal which is move. At the same time, blow a PW: Shield and pray it can withstand a hit. Oh no, Thal’s arm is up, and that means-

00:20

“MAN DOWN”

Thought Process

Oh crap. You failed the team. One simple miscalculation. One wrong heal at the wrong time. Sanguinar is now free and goes forth rampaging the raid.

Game over.

Priests are so easy to play. There are so many options to choose from. It’s easy to scrutinize one’s play in hindsight. But when you’re in the moment, the difference between raid success and failure can hinge on a something so insignificant as using the right heal at the right time.

Over 5 options to choose from and I picked the wrong one. Kael could have died tonight. This is going to haunt me for a long time.

It’s quite possibly one of the worse feelings anyone can experience in the world. It’s not being told what you did wrong by someone else. It’s knowing what you did wrong and knowing that it could have been prevented.

I should have rolled a Hunter.