Matticast Episode 9 – BOEs, Calling Wipes, and Picking Raiders

Welcome to Episode 9 of The Matticast. This week BorskMattKat, and Brian, discuss:

- The Economics of BOEs

- When to call a wipe.

- Resto Shaman Spirit Refresh

- When/How to test new raiders.

Sites mentioned

State of DPS

Posts referenced

When do you call a wipe?

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

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How to Melee DPS Without Making Healers Cry

This is a guest post by Shazrad of Zul’jin. One of the best players I’ve ever had the pleasure of raiding with. ~Lodur

As DPS it’s our job to do as much DPS as possible.  We can’t do that if we can’t stay alive. We can’t do that if we are irritating our healers to the point that they think it would be more mana efficient to res us rather than heal us. In truth, nothing irritates healers and raid leaders more than DPS who have little or no situational awareness.  With that said lets break things down a bit.

To start with let’s break down what DPS really is. I know what some readers are thinking.  “DPS means DAMAGE PER SECOND dummy!” I’m sorry but you are wrong.

It stands for this:

  1. Don’t stand in things that damage you
  2. Placement, placement and placement
  3. Stay alive

Any raid leader will tell you I am right.

Matt’s notes: He’s right.

Those 3 things are the most common obstacles that melee DPS face. Your rotation can be perfect. Your spells can be up without missing a beat. Yet if you fail in any of those 3 areas you become useless to your raid. In order to help you better understand what each item means I will break them down for you.

  • Don’t stand in things that damage you - This sounds easy. I guarantee you that almost every raid leader will agree that standing in fire/defile/desecrate/ (insert random boss ability here) causes 90 % of raid DPS deaths. Standing in things that damage does not just mean health dropping. Some things cause your attacks to slow, some cause you to miss more often and so on and so forth. There are rare occasions where standing in something will give you a DPS boost. Those instances are so rare, it’s best to just not stand in anything that appears on the floor during a boss fight. If you’re not sure, ask. No good raid leader will be mad at you for asking but you can bet that you will hear it if you don’t ask and die repeatedly to the same thing when all you really need to do is move.
  • Placement, placement and placement – Where you stand is just as important as where you shouldn’t stand. This typically means that unless told otherwise melee stands BEHIND the target, casters stand off to the side or behind the target. DPS who stand in front of the target are dealing with cleaves, parry, and everything else the tank is dealing with. It’s not somewhere you want to be on most fights. Always know where you need to be and be there and you will be loved by all. (Disclaimer: I probably still won’t love you I’m anti love unless you’re a chicken salad sandwich.)
  • Stay Alive – No matter what you must live. Dead DPS is not DPS; it’s a corpse. Corpses (unless you’re a ghoul) sit there and rot. So do whatever you have to do to NOT die.

If you can do these three things you are already a step ahead of the game.

Tips and Tricks:

In this section I will go over some basic things that will help you survive.

  • Keyboard Turning – Its bad! Do not do it. Keyboard turning is using your arrow or A and S keys to turn. This method of turning is to slow. Instead use your mouse to turn. Right click your mouse and move it to the left or right. It’s about 100000 times faster. Keyboard turning is just too slow for raiding. The abilities that bosses throw when you need to turn and burn hit so hard that if you keyboard turn you will most likely die. Dead characters are useless.
  • Jumping out of Damage – Its bad do NOT do it. Jumping in World of Warcraft is not like jumping in the real world. When you jump the game records your position. When you land it updates your position. So when you jump out of damage the game registers you in the damage until you land. In most cases your jump is farther than you actually need to go. This means you are taking damage the entire time you are in the air. It’s bad. Don’t do it.
  • Strafing – Is useful. When fighting most bosses they have a tendency to throw stuff right at your feet. Try to get in the habit of strafing left and right to move out of the damage. Moving this way is easier and faster than turning and moving.
  • Zoom Out – Zoom your camera out as far as you can. This allows you to not only see what you are doing but you can also see what’s going on around you. Knowing what’s going on in a fight is the key to winning.
  • Situational Awareness – Without this you might as well go back to soloing Dead Mines. Get yourself a good boss mod. Set it up so that the information it provides is easy for you to see. I try and keep all my important alerts right around my character. This way my eyes are always on what my character is doing. Try to avoid sticking it way off in a corner somewhere. With it up there you are having to constantly take your eyes off the action.  Also make sure you enable the audio alerts. These sounds will draw your attention to important details even if you’re focused on something else.
  • Stay Behind – Unless your raid leader tells you to specifically stay in front of a boss attack from behind. Attacking from the front causes you to miss more often (except in certain special boss fights).  Bosses also often have cleaves and other nasty effects that will usually kill you in a single hit.
  • Ask Questions – Do not be afraid to ask your raid leader a question. I know this is cliché but “There are no stupid questions unless you don’t ask them.” So ask. Even if you have asked before. Do not go into an encounter with a question. Unasked questions are the same thing as not knowing what to do. You will likely die or even worse you may wipe the entire raid out because you didn’t know what to do and didn’t have the guts to speak up.
  • Get Some Mods – There are plenty of mods out there that will help you with every aspect of a raid. Mods like Power Auras Classic and GTFO can be set up to let you know when you are taking damage. Deadly Boss Mods and Big Wigs are extremely good at letting you know when to move. These are just a few examples of mods that can help you know when to move.

Final Thoughts:

In closing there are three things I would like to stress:

  1. Anything on the floor be it fire, funky red glowing circles or a big fluffy blue line is probably bad. Get out of it unless your raid leader says to stand in it.
  2. Know the fight before you start the fight. Watch a video, read a strategy, ASK YOUR RAID LEADER! Know when to move.  Don’t be that guy…
  3. STAY ALIVE NO MATTER WHAT. If you die you are useless to the raid.
Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook

Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook

There is a book for everything it seems. Some will tell you how to hack an iPhone, others will tell you how to cook rare and exotic treats. In the gaming world there has been everything from strategy and content guides to art books and everything in between.

A few weeks ago a new book hit the stands, The Guild Leader’s Handbook by Scott F. Andrews. Scott is not only an accomplished and long time  guild leader in World of Warcraft, but also the author of “Officers’ Quarters” on wow.com. His book takes a look at what it is to run a guild in today’s modern MMOs and offers readers both looking to start a guild and those who have been at it a while, a cornucopia of information from his collected experiences. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the book with you.

Before we begin I’d like to make a few things clear. Firstly, Yes I do write for wow.com as one of the class columnists. This does not mean however that I will be unfairly biased towards the book. I have had little to no interaction with Scott and anyone who knows me or has listened to my podcast knows that I do not temper my criticism and critiques based on acquaintances or tangential relations. In short, friend or foe I try to tell it exactly as it is and as unbiased as possible. In mathematical terms we would call this “Correlation does not imply causation”. Secondly, while I myself am not currently a Guild Leader in WoW, I have lead numerous successful guilds, super-groups, and various other groupings in many other games. I am however still the Healing Lead and one of the raid officers for the guild I call home, and thus in a leadership position within the structure.

The first thing I noticed when opening this book, is the level of accessibility. It was very well written and very easy not only to read but digest. The concepts and ideas in the book are thoughtfully laid out and the way the topics are grouped not only make sense logically, but allow the material to be more easily digested. Potentially confusing concepts are quickly explained, often times with a real life scenario that the author has experienced himself. The second thing I noticed while reading this book is the confirmation of the author’s depth of experience. The familiarity he writes about the topics is comforting and also conveys a sense of certainty that is easily lost when writing something of this nature.

The book itself covers many topics such as;

  • Forming a guild and making it successful
  • Choosing a guild size and focus
  • Dealing with guild drama
  • Differences between leading a guild and leading a raid
  • Loot distribution
  • Alternate styles of guilds (PvP, RP)
  • Choosing officers
  • Guild Morale
  • Planning for the long term
  • Dealing with Real Life

Seems like a lot to cover in such a small book doesn’t it? It is, but the author cuts out most of the unnecessary and leaves in the most relevant information to the topic. Each topic is subdivided and dives into specifics and does so with the perfect amount of detail.

There were a few pieces that really stood out to me while reading this. First was the section on forming a guild. Beyond setting a size and focus for your guild, the author talked about a topic that I think deserves some attention. Forming a guild identity and presence. For any established guild or group, their name and longevity carry a certain weight to them. If you think about any guilds, corps or fellowships you may have come across, I’m certain you can find at least one where their name is well known. For a new guild starting out it can be hard to forge an identity and establish a presence. The author offers some solid advice for creating a server presence. This ranges from specializing and becoming rock solid at a particular goal, having a history of cooperation with other people and guilds to having fun contests and events. One example that I found particularly enjoyable was the idea of taking a completely meaningless piece of land in the game and claiming it as your own, while challenging anyone to take it from you and doing anything you can to hold on to it. That would certain generate some notice, and could be a particularly fun event.

Next was explaining the differences between leading a guild, and leading a raid. The distinction is one that sometimes goes unnoticed. A lot of players seem to feel the two are always synonymous. The author explains the characteristics of a guild leader very well and talks about the shift in personae needed to lead a raid. The two can often times be polar opposites of each other. A guild leader is at the end of the night the ultimate authority of a guild. They can control who becomes officers, who is kicked or invited and tend to be looked upon as the arbiters for any guild disputes. Compassion, openness, friendliness and approachability all play very well to a guild leaders station. A raid leader has to evaluate performances constantly while keeping the group focused. They have to play the role of team captain, coach and player all at the same time. Leading by example, but also calling out problems and fixing issues as quickly as possible. This can sometimes involve not being very nice and squishy in your assessments. I was quite pleased to read this section here and it would be something I encourage not only people in leadership roles to read, but also those in a raider position. It is very much like being friends with your boss outside of work. When you’re at work you still need to work, and it’s your bosses job to keep you focused.

Another part that particularly stuck out to me was the section detailing real life interactions and issues. Even though this is a game, it is a social network. You are interacting with other players regularly, and you are devoting time out of real life to play this game with other people. As a result real life will always impact a gamers life and a game may affect the life of those that play it. This section of the book covers topics like dealing with addictions (both substance and potential video game addiction), Depression and mental illness, sexual predators, relationship problems, family problems, burnout and criminal confessions. These are real life topics that can and do affect people who play MMOs. This section offers advice to deal with these situations as they arise. Let’s not forget it wasn’t so long ago that a criminal was tracked down through WoW by law enforcement.

This section also talks about planning real life meet-ups. Investing as much time as you do in a guild there may come a time where you want to meet the people behind the avatars face to face. It sometimes requires a lot of planning, but can indeed be exceptionally rewarding.

So in the end what does this book really have to offer?

For the new guild leader or leadership role

A plethora of information that is neatly gathered in one place for you. There is a lot that goes into forming and running a guild. This book takes the information and neatly bundles it for you for easy consumption. The information contained in the book is very accurate, and is very universal in it’s approach. The advice offered is solid, well thought out and has been tried and tested by the author himself. The book may have items you never thought to consider, or just did not occur to you. It offers a new officer or guild leader a chance to be prepared and also educates you on exactly what you can expect. Everything from personalities in the guild and group dynamics to planning for the future and longevity of your guild. All the basics you could possibly need to know are detailed here for you.

For the old-hand

Even if you have been playing MMOs for a long time and are quite experienced at leading groups, running guilds and leading raids, this book will offer something that can often times be lost over time. Perspective. We fill these rolls for so long that things become second nature to us. Like everything sometimes it’s nice to have a refresher. No one is perfect 100% of the time, we all make mistakes or forget things. The way I view it is like this. Next to my computer I have a series of books for programming, APA style and formatting guides, marketing and business books and a variety of other reference material. No matter how long I’ve been doing something, there will be things that I will forget. Having these books handy gives me a reference. somewhere I can go to clarify questions and vague points or remind myself of things I may have forgotten. This book now has a permanent place on that shelf. For us old hands this book is a perfect reference to when we need to get back down to basics.

For the non leader

Even if you are not in a leadership role this book can offer you a great insight you might not have otherwise. Ever wonder why your guild leader made a particular decision but don’t really want to ask them? How about when a raid leader does something that you’re not quite sure of? This book will give you a basic understanding of what it is your guild’s leadership has to go through and constantly juggle to make sure the group remains stable and that you have a place you can unwind and have fun.

I applaud the author for this book. I found it easily accessible, accurate and a fantastic read. I was able to identify with the examples he presented right away and could have compared them to any number of stories from my own past in gaming. This book is a great starting point for anyone looking for form a guild, new to an officer position or for those who just want to understand what happens behind the scenes of their groups. On a personal level, reading this book allowed me to catch something happening in my very own guild that I almost missed simply by reading about it and being reminded of it.

The only criticism of it I have is that I feel it could have been longer.  Some of the sections could have been more fully explored and may have benefited from having a little more room to breathe. The book ends at a surprisingly short186 pages.

I feel it is well written, logically put together and is a must read for anyone seriously involved in MMOs and guild structure. Even with consideration of the length I feel that is well worth the money, and even more worth the time you would invest reading it.

The book retails for $24.95 us ($31.95 CDN) and can be purchased directly through the publisher’s website.

If you’ve read it and would like to share your thoughts on it we’d love to hear your opinion on it.

 

Girls Hate Chuck Norris: On Women and Raiding Guilds

Girls Hate Chuck Norris: On Women and Raiding Guilds

hearts

This article, including the title, is inspired by some of the comments on yesterday’s post from Matticus about gauging the success of raiding guilds. I thought that the issue of women and raiding, which appears on the original checklist, deserved its own post. However, I am quite aware that every time a blogger makes a post about gender and raiding, he or she gets excoriated in the comments. Gender issues–and more particularly, women’s experience in WoW–has a tendency to cause temperatures to rise. On the one hand, some commenters protest that there’s no gender-influenced experience in the game. Men and women play exactly the same way, and after all, women are just men with boobs. Still others complain about the bad behavior of women players, claiming that they’re princesses, bitches, or femmes fatales who love to take advantage of gullible men. Another group, mostly women posters, laments the poor treatment they’ve received in the past. I do realize what the comments for this post will look like, but I’m going to give you my take on the gender issue anyway. After all, I didn’t start blogging because I don’t like to speak my mind!

First off, I’ll tell you my overall stance on the issue. I would like to forward the radical notion that women raiders are people. By this, I mean that they are multi-faceted, flawed, and idiosyncratic, just like male raiders. However, women and men are not the same, neither in the game nor in life. We are each influenced by our culture, and how culture treats each of us has a lot to do with gender.

However, I also think that WoW is unique in that it lets us perform–or not perform–our biological sex as we like. I do, by the way, subscribe to Judith Butler’s notion that gender, in general, is performative. By this I mean that what men are, and what women are, is a collection of behaviors that individuals may or may not subscribe to. It is possible, if difficult, in society to “perform” a gender that does not conform to one’s biological sex. In WoW, it is incredibly easy to do so–after all, how many men play women characters? This doesn’t make them weird–they are just taking advantage of one of the fun and imaginative aspects of gameplay. Women occasionally roll male toons as well. I know I personally used to borrow Briolante at level 60 because I liked tanking more than healing and was too lazy to level a warrior of my own. All this is to say that virtual environments like WoW allow us to have a more abstracted approach to gender performance. We can perform differently though our avatars, through guild chat, and through vent–and all of this adds up to some really interesting situations.

At some point, I think I’ll do a whole post on men who play women characters, but for today, I’m really interested in whether women ACT like stereotypical women in the game, and how they go about doing so.

In order to really explore this question, I’d like to look at some of the most common generalizations about women in WoW and share how I respond to each of these issues. I’m not trying to be representative of all women here–as always, I only represent myself. Take from it what you will.

Stereotype #1 Women Are Bad Players

I have put this stereotype at the top of my list because to me, it’s the least true of all. This idea comes from a cultural bias. It’s true enough that video games aren’t often considered toys for little girls, and many women raiders (including me) probably grew up watching our brothers play video games. But you know what? I can sure as hell play WoW now. The #1 thing that gets my goat in terms of stereotypes about girl gamers is the idea that I can’t play my toon because I have boobs. Maybe they get in the way? I’ll assure you, it’s not a problem for me or any of the other girl raiders I know. Estrogen doesn’t cause my addons to fail, and it sure doesn’t entice me to turn with the keyboard. The truth is that there are good and bad players of both genders. Women might be slightly more noticed when they lack skill because that’s what people expect. There’s a natural human bias toward finding examples that correspond to one’s expectations. That doesn’t mean that the old hackneyed ideas are correct–far from it.

Stereotype #2 Women Get Offended Easily

I’ve followed up the least true stereotype with the one that is most true, especially in the context of WoW. Women’s experience of the world is a little different from men’s. A lot of us face gender-related challenges at home or in the workplace. I know I’ve been treated differently all my life–by parents, college, work, relationships–than my brother, and we’re really similar in ability, personality, and upbringing. I can’t generalize what kinds of behaviors bother all women, but I will share the things that do and do not annoy me in-game.

1. Epeen
Some people think women are offended by in-game boasting, but I don’t mind. I’m not sure if I’m typical or not for a woman raider, but I do think that I’m not a participant in the all-boys-big-epeen-club. I don’t mind it, though. When the boys are jockeying for position on the meters, or for the main tank spot, I think that’s funny, maybe even charming. It’s good to have something to strive for.

2. Foul language
I’m not bothered by foul language. Most of those 4-letter words don’t offend me at all, because they refer to things that are universal. For example, anyone can be an asshole, regardless of gender, religion, social class, or race. Therefore, it’s ok by me to see that word–and a host of others that Matt wouldn’t let me write on the blog–in guild or raid chat.

3. Discriminatory or harrassing language
On the other hand, I am extremely upset by racial or religious slurs, and also by “rape” comments directed at female bosses. I don’t like anti-gay language at all either. I think for me, the language question is all about whether it’s hurtful to somebody specific. However, I’m not offended by this type of language because I’m a woman. It’s my life experiences–my job, my friends, my politics–that make me think the way I do about discrimination. It has nothing to do with gender.

4. Being treated like a sex object
I almost never have to deal with this problem. I am never flirtatious in guild chat or whispers, and it annoys me when women behave that way. I’d rather not have my raiding–or instancing, or whatever–be about sex in any way shape or form. But the few times someone–always someone I don’t know–has made a lewd comment to me have really pissed me off. Mild flirting is ok, and I can see how it could certainly enhance a single woman’s experience of the game, but I make it pretty clear to my guildmates that I’m taken.

Stereotype #3: Women are troublemakers

I will amend this one to people are troublemakers. I’ve seen men whine over meaningless things, and I’ve seen women do it to. I’ve seen both genders start dumb arguments over nothing, and I’ve witnessed both genders do their part to break up guilds. WoW players have a tendency to QQ, whether on the official forums or in guild chat. It has very little to do with any certain demographic.

Stereotype #4 Women hate each other

We’ve all seen those tv shows where catty women waggle their fingers and scream at each other without apparent cause. I think that women raiders tend to get along quite a bit better than that–or at least, we’re polite on the surface. I don’t know quite what it is, but competition style does seem to me to be influenced by gender. The men post damage meters, and the women make snide remarks to each other about other women. I’ve met and played alongside women who consider WoW a boys’ club with room for exactly one girl. That’s not me. I feel a lot of solidarity for other women players and I am much more likely to promote and encourage them than criticize them. I don’t get jealous or competitive with other women–I want them to keep playing, more than anything else, so I don’t have to break into the All Boys Treehouse–No Girls Allowed.

Stereotype #5 Women want free stuff

I see this one pretty often, and it really puzzles me. I consider men and women equal. I expect to pay full price for everything I get or buy. I don’t want preference on loot, and I don’t want free money. Now, if you want to give me some greens because I’m leveling enchanting and giving free enchants to guildies on the way up, awesome! I’ll take them with thanks. But if you send me a gift because I’m a woman? I’m sending that crap right back. I have to think that most of the stories of women getting free loot/gold are the virtual equivalent of urban legends. Sure, somewhere there was a basis in truth, but it’s not a widespread occurrence.

Stereotype #6 Women love cute things

Hearts. Puppies. Rainbows. Flowers. Hugs. Lolcats. Yes, I adore these things. And it’s not just me! In my former guild, Eieldin, a female hunter, had a very enviable collection of non-combat pets–before everyone was collecting them. Jesmin, also of my former guild, told even more cat stories than I do. However, I am of the opinion that deep down, everyone loves cute. The object of our adoration may vary, but everyone has a soft spot. What was the one thing that convinced me that Kimbo, Conquest’s raid leader, had to be a nice guy underneath the gruff exterior? He owns a cat. In terms of the game, I play for aesthetics during my casual time. I dress up my bank alts in pretty dresses, and I get a lot of haircuts on my lowbie characters, but you know what? All of that goes out the window when I’m raiding. I put away my little dragons and kitties, shift into Rotten Broccoli form, and get down to business. During downtime, though, I’ll be asking Kimbo about the latest thing his cat did. Kimbo’s cat is awesome.

Conclusions

One of the things I appreciate about Conquest is that, rude and crude as some of the boys are, I’m not treated like a sex object or a giant bitch. In fact, I’m neither. I am myself, full of quirks and foibles. I can do my job a well as anyone else can. The great thing about WoW, and gaming in general, is that men and women have equal potential. Performance in the game doesn’t come down to upper body strength, and all of us can learn how to play our characters at a very high level if we want to put in effort and time. It saddens me that some people have preconceived notions about women gamers, especially when the game world does such a nice job of leveling the playing field. Our virtual representations, our avatars, erase differences–they blur out class, race, religion, creed, and even gender. Heck, the slang and leetspeak so commonly seen in WoW even erase differences in education. You never know who’s behind the computer, and I like it that way. Here’s hoping that the potential for equality someday becomes a reality, if not in WoW, in the next generation of MMOs.