Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

We killed Thok.

Damn, that was a rough encounter. I had a feeling this week was going to be a good week. We set a guild record for day 1 kills by clearing from Immerseus to (and including) Malkorok on day 1. Fast forward to day 2, and Spoils ended up being Spoils that took a little longer than I expected due to some confusion on cooldown usage. In the end, we managed to get it down just after the first hour of the night.

And now, the Thok Block.

We haven’t squared off against an actual progression encounter with an appropriate group composition in months. In fact, our last progression kill on Spoils was mid-February! The past three months was spent recruiting, re-gearing, and re-training players. Even then, we had a few players from Open Raid in the group who had came in for us on Tuesday to help us out last night. This was arguably one of the strongest rosters we fielded in a long time. I’ll admit, it did pain me that I was unable to get everyone from the guild to participate on the attempts and the kill. It sucks when you have to rely on people outside in order to get the job done but for composition reasons, it had to happen. We ended up having to field 7 healers on this one (4 Priests, 1 Resto Druid, 2 Resto Shaman).

Something my raid likes to do when it gets to a completely new boss is panic. This is doubly true when you’re staring down a really large dinosaur. As the leader, my job is to try to settle them down and remind them to get back to their routes. Stop overthinking things. Simply react. In this case, I recognized that the troublesome part was the kite path. We’ve reviewed it several times during learning attempts. Despite that, my players were still losing their cool. Sometimes the dinosaur went the wrong way. Sometimes they’d panic and run one direction before doing a 180 and dashing down in the other. Deep down inside, I was freaking out too.

The best way to battle nervousness is simply more training and discipline.

We kept telling our players two things:

  1. Visualize your route.
  2. Think of your escape plan in case a rabid dinosaur or yeti comes charging down the middle.

No one wants to be the guy that completely derails a solid attempt. I wanted to turn kiting into a reflex. I wanted to “program” their reactions. For example, if Thok targets me second, I would run to the rear corner where the fire guy is. If Thok targets me fourth, I take the portal all the way down the hallway. I had to keep drilling it in attempt after attempt until it was firmly locked in their minds.

The actual cooldown planning stages took much longer. But we were spoiled due to the number of Priests and other available cooldowns. We were able to stretch the stacks to 24 before transitioning out to the kite phases. Our raid leader called the individual stack numbers, the rest of the team hit their cooldowns which corresponded to their assigned stack number. I need to look into an addon for this instead of a spreadsheet.

Our first attempt we took him above 50%. Second, below 50%. Third, below 20%. Fourth was at 4%. Last one resulted in the kill.

Siegecrafter Blackfuse is next. Anyone have any pointers? The hunters appear to be reluctant to do the whole disengage on to platforms thing.

We’re looking for healers to help us finish out Siege and going into Warlords of Draenor. Check us out!

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

6 PM rolls around which means it’s time to raid.

Potions? Check.

Buff food? Check.

Drinks? Ginger Ale for me, not sure what the rest of you go with.

You get the invite to raid and glance at your party frames before doing a double take. Your name isn’t anywhere in the first five groups. Guess what? You’re in the ever elusive group 6. Your WoW Instant Messenger springs to life with a message from the boss. Looks like they’re going for a new composition which means you need to take a seat on the bench for the first few encounters.

At this stage in the expansion, compositions vary wildly based on bosses, who needs what, and number of trial players (if any). It’s pretty darn dejecting to warm the seats. It’s not done out of malice or hate. Your guild has decided on that specific configuration to get them through that specific challenge (or if it’s a farm boss, it’s they need to grab someone specifically for loot or trial reasons).

Hey, your guild is counting on you, too!

Even I, thee Matticus, gets called upon to sit. On the evenings I do sit, I have a myriad of activities at my disposal.

  • Reading: It seems as if there’s not enough time for people to read as much as they want. Right now, I’m working on the third book in the Kane Chronicles (The Serpent’s Shadow). If not books, I’ll catch up on various blogs around the internet via Google Reader.
  • Gaming: I don’t think I’ll be get in a full League of Legends match, but I can squeeze in a game of Draw Something or Scramble with Friends on my iPhone. On the computer, I’ll pounce onto the guild Minecraft server (I’m working on a personal fortress but I need more cobblestone).
  • Alts: Great time to work on some questing or getting in some leveling time on an alt. Don’t have an alt? Great time to start one!
  • Watch a movie or a TV show: Netflix anyone? Been rewatching a few episodes of Family Guy (Be a banana!). If the raiding group needs me, they can just holler. Enough time for me to pause and switch back to the game.
  • Writing: So many post ideas and so many things to write, just not enough time to do it all! Great time for me to work on a post like what I do when I’m chilling on the side.
  • Raiding: Raid Finder on an alt? Working on my 5th Priest now.
  • Watching the livestream: The guild has several streamers now. I’ll usually have a monitor up to keep track of progress while doing one of the other activities above.

What if you need gear?

No problem! Send a tell to your raid leader letting them know that you’re really interested in coming in for a future attempt.

Here, let me write you a template. Use the terms appropriate to your guild’s atmosphere.

Dear [boss/captain/fearless leader/a**hole]

This is just a tell to let you know that I would really like to come in for the next boss. There’s an item that I want because it [upgrades an item/is off spec/is for transmog/makes my character look 5 pounds lighter than I actually am]. Could you find it in your [heart/soul/noggin’] to bring me in so that I might benefit from the spoils?

Sincerely,

Your favourite [player/monkey/badass/<class> of all time]

Anyway, tell me about your bench experiences. You cool with watching from the side? What do you like to do or work on when you’re on the bench?

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

Forget arenas.

Forget rated BGs.

Give me competitive PvE raiding!

Vodka and Method, 2 of the world’s best guilds, going heads up in the Dragon Soul challenge hosted by Athene for charity. Last time we saw something like this was back during BlizzCon 2011 when Vodka and Blood Legion went at it live with some of their members on a stage in front of thousands of people.  When I watched those two guilds go at it during BlizzCon, the announcers and the overall event was really exciting to watch. Blizzard had some cool camera tools at their disposal and the plays were called by Ghostcrawler and Daelo. Blood Legion took that one after Vodka succumbed to heroic Ragnaros at the end.

If one wanted to devise story lines, there are a few things. The question on everyone’s minds is can Vodka avenge their loss and come back in the latest raid tier? A more subtle angle is the battle between regions: One of North America’s finest guilds vs Europe’s best. No faction questions here since both raid teams are Alliance (although I did find it interesting that Method was planning the switch to Horde).

Vodka

Between Method and Vodka, my money was on Vodka for winning out this one. They have the experience in an environment like this coming out of BlizzCon when they took on Blood Legion. Their strategies for time trials involve a high risk/high reward approach. They deliberately underheal (bring in less healers) in favour of additional DPS. In long run, this strategy pays off with faster kills as long as their raid doesn’t get overwhelmed.

Method

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Method. They’re one of the top guilds in Europe, but without much of an idea of their raid comps or seeing how they plan, I’m not sure what impressions to had. I figured they’d had their own set system and would stick to playing their style of raiding that’s gotten them this far. Nothing super complicated or anything.

Thoughts

Spoilers below. But if you don’t care, go ahead and read on:

  • Nice approach on Mor’chuk with the tanking positions. Most guilds usually tackle the two bosses side by side but with the advent of the timer, both guilds changed the position so that one boss was at the top of the ramp and the other was on the bottom.
  • The wipe on Zon’ozz slowed Vodka down significantly. I cringed but they’ll go on to recover quite well.
  • Both guilds kicking the lore aspects of the instance since it slows them both down (Vodka, especially).
  • Madness of Deathwing: Ouch to Vodka for losing a healer in a weird fashion with the platform jumps. That darn bug.
  • Athene and Kina: Would have loved more commentary throughout the stream on more aspects of the raid encounters as well as additional insight in what’s going on in the different mentalities of the guild as they go from boss to boss.

PvE power rankings

Guild Region Record
Blood Legion NA 1-0*
Method EU 1-0
Vodka NA 0-2

* I ranked Blood Legion as higher on the tie break since they defeated Vodka at BlizzCon live in front of thousands of screaming people.

Here we have the first ever PvE power rankings.

I personally believe that Vodka’s the better guild in the last engagement. The calculated risks they have taken have a potentially higher payoff and there were times where they came really close to clutching out and winning. But all those tiny mistakes and the assorted wipe does add up thwarting Vodka from getting their first win.

Another way to spice it up is adding an Iron man challenge of sorts. Finishing out an instance with the least amount of overall deaths. Wouldn’t just be enough to race the other team, but have to add that extra element of perfection.

To add a little diversity to future events, I wonder how feasible it is to revive some of the “older” raids. On a special server, adjust and inflate the stats of the older raid bosses so that they can remain challenging for the maximum player level.

The concept of a PvE raiding league has some merit. If it were up to me to start it, I’d set up an invitational 16 guild league (8 NA and 8 EU). it would take place over 8 weeks and then lead to playoffs. Each week would have it’s own instance/bosses of the week. Maybe week 1 would be tier 11. Week 2 would then be Firelands. Week 3 would be back to Black Temple. Week 4 could be Ulduar. Great way to recycle the older instances if it their stats could be made. Or the alternative is to lower the stats of the raiders so that they’re at level with the content.

But overall, I’m really impressed. Props to Athene, Kina, Vodka, Method and everyone else involved for an excellent event.

The Burden of Leadership, Lodur bares his thoughts

There are a lot of folks out there that think being in charge, or in a leadership role, of a guild is a big fun thing. You get to set permissions, invite, kick and all that other cool stuff! Truth is, at least for me, it’s another job. Being in charge means that, like at every other job, you are responsible for those beneath you and how they perform. On top of that you become involved in the day to day running of something larger than yourself. This is especially true if you are among the leadership of a raiding guild.

After leaving Unpossible after 5 long years, I had put the officer mantle in the laundry bin to be cleaned pressed and put under glass. Circumstances did not allow me to leave the mantle alone for long, and I find myself in a leadership role again. Over the last two tiers I’ve had a lot on my plate between being in game, my podcast For The Lore, still consistently writing for WoW Insider, and also writing a novel that I’m submitting for publication consideration in the following weeks. On top of various other personal things, it’s been a hell of a long year and I find myself with an over abundance of ideas on the topic of leadership in a raiding guild. So, bear with me here, because I’m about to dump my thoughts a little.

The burden
The wear and tear
The hard choices

Truthfully it wears on you over time. You have to make a lot of hard decisions that are not always easy, and certainly aren’t popular with everyone. Lets take on the topic of friendship in real life, and raiding in game. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s something that keeps rearing it’s ugly head over and over again. Being someone’s friend does not make you immune from being included in those hard choices a competitive raiding guild faces. This includes officers and the rank-and-file of the raid team. Sometimes,  you have to look at someone’s performance, and if found wanting must bench them or otherwise remove them from a fight or raid, until performance can be fixed. It’s for the good of the entire team, and the progression of the raid, and ultimately if that’s your goal that’s what matters most. Don’t take it personally, it’s not a slight against you as a person, it’s just that the numbers aren’t where they need to be. I’ll use myself as an example here.

Firelands was not very kind to restoration shaman. The fights were ones that didn’t let us take advantage of our strengths and as a result other healers tended to do better than us. In our raid team, there were many fights where I would sit myself for the other healers because they were that good and the numbers worked out better. I did the same thing with the second restoration shaman in our group. Do I think I’m a crappy healer? Do I think the other restoration shaman just sucks? No, I don’t, it was just better numbers to configure our raid healers a different way to optimize success.

When you have to bench someone who is a friend of yours, especially in real life, sometimes it’s hard for that person not to be upset by it. I understand that, I get that, but it’s not personal. It’s not that they aren’t your friend, or that you suck at the game, it’s just that things needed to be done a different way. It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometime’s it’s the necessary one You have to separate the leader from the friend when those decisions are handed down the same way you would if your friend was your boss at your 9-5 job. It’s not easy, but it is what it is.

A sellers market
Make your own choices
Evaluate your position

There’s a saying that “it’s my game time and I’ll play how I want to play.” That’s all good and true, I mean you are paying to play the game. Consider, however, that you might not be in the best place to play the game the way you want to. A progression raiding group is going to be looking for a pretty solid set of criteria.  These include, but are not limited to the following

  • Are you willing to change your spec, gearing, chants and reforging to a more optimal setup?
  • Are you willing to play a spec you don’t normally play?
  • Are you willing to be benched if it’s for the good of the team?
  • Are you open to criticism about your performance and information to help attempt to improve your output?

If you answer no to any of these, then you should probably not try to get into a progression raiding guild. If you don’t want to budge on how you play your game it’s just not the right environment for you. Blizzard has made a big deal out of “bring the player, not the class, or spec or cooldown” etc. For the most part that’s true, but when you’re edging into hard mode encounters, or sometimes just a normal encounter in itself, and you want to get through it quickly and efficiently, then it simply isn’t always the case. See above where I benched myself for the good of the raid on a fight. No matter what, there’s always going to be an optimal setup. Whether it’s a raid full of paladins, or nothing but druid healers in a group, there will always be a tweak. Can you do the fights without the optimal group? Sure, but it becomes harder and harder as you progress through content. Sounds counter intuitive, but I assure you it’s true.

Another truth here is that right now it’s a sellers market. What do I mean by that? Cataclysm has royally screwed recruitment over pretty badly. Finding new members to add to your guild  can be a pain and prove rather difficult, especially when you’ve something specific in mind. It’s not that “beggars can’t be choosers” or anything of that nature, but a progression raiding guild might not be keen on accepting that applicant in normal Cataclysm blues and can’t spell their own name when the group is trying to kill heroic Deathwing. There’s a guild for everyone out there, and you need just look if you want to play a particular way that you aren’t allowed to where you are.

LFR
Doing what it takes
Better for the guild as a whole

This is something of a recent development, and something that irked me a little bit. A lot of guilds out there do LFR weekly as a group in order to obtain set bonuses for raiders, gear up new recruits and sometimes just to get a feel for the fight. It makes sense really, it’s an easy way to gear up and see the fights, and still have a bit of a safety net. Hell, my guild even did it for a few weeks to get some set bonuses in action. As a group we were going to go in, and just pound out the 8 bosses on LFR and then go back and do normal raiding. With the raid as geared as it was, LFR should have been easy and would do nothing but help everyone.

What got me about it was that some folks just simply said no and refused to participate in the LFR runs, even if it would help them and the raid as a group. I understand having a preference, I myself am not a huge fan of LFR any longer, but even I showed up for those runs because it allowed people to gear up, see fights and did nothing but raise the entire guild higher and help with normal raiding. What got me was that those same people wanted priority on invites to the normal raid, and expected to get the normal equivalent gear. When neither happened, they complained.

Not going to say someone should be forced into doing something they don’t want to do, but the way it was handled was bad. Immaturely logging out, refusal to listen to reason, and claiming that there wasn’t anything in it for them so they wouldn’t do it. Even when it was needed most, refusing to help the guild by tagging along. Like above, you have to be willing to give a little, especially in a group who wants to accomplish progression raiding. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you don’t want to do to help the group. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re in the wrong place.

In the end

This is what’s been on my mind for two tiers now. Working out ways to do what needs to be done, and convey that the decisions aren’t personal, that the raid group as a whole is a larger organism thriving on everyone in the group working to the same means. It’s hard sometimes. It’s frustrating, and borderline infuriating some nights. But, it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s the officers who bear an incredible amount of burden. Now, I’m not quitting or burning out mind you, just needed to gather my thoughts and get them out “on paper” so to speak. I appreciate my raiders and the ones that not only give me their all but also do more than that. The ones that send me funny tells in raid to keep me laughing or just making sure we’re progressing, I appreciate their actions and what they do for us the officer corp, and for the raid group as a whole.  Sorry for the brain-dump folks, but hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the skull of ol’ Lodur here.

Handling Raiding Couples

Handling Raiding Couples

Couples that raid together in the same guild can be a nightmare to deal with. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever had to deal with a small handful of them. There were some great husband/wife combinations and some not-so-stellar ones.

Interacting with them individually can be a chore at times because most couples share information with each other. There’s little (if any) secrets between the two and I get that. Talking to half a couple may as well be like talking to the whole couple because the other half will usually be brought up to speed about any decisions, events, or other information shared with them.

Here’s the worst part.

Ever tried giving criticism and feedback to one of them? Maybe they weren’t doing so  hot or they entered a streak where they just had some bad nights. Or maybe that individual just plain sucks at dealing with a certain mechanic. You drag them out to the side on an off night or send them a message trying to figure out what’s wrong. They reply back with “But I’m doing everything I can possibly do” and deep down inside you know for a fact that it’s not true because you just looked at 4 other players of the same class, progression, and gear level then coming to the realization that they really weren’t. You send back another message laying out the information you have found along with some additional pointers.

And then what ultimately ends up happening is the other half just swoops in.

“WHADDAYA MEAN MY WIFE IS TERRIBLE HEALER? SHE’S REALLY AWESOME! SHE HEALS MY ASS ALL THE TIME IN BATTLEGROUNDS AND KEEPS ME UP, NO PUN INTENDED”.

Naturally, a cursory glance at other logs and incidental information proves otherwise.

“YOUR INFORMATION AND INTERPRETATION OF IT IS WRONG. THOSE FRAPS VIDEOS OF ATTEMPTS WERE OBVIOUSLY DOCTORED WITH THE INTENT OF SLANDERING HER AND MAKING HER LOOK AS UNSKILLED AS POSSIBLE.”

It’s at this moment where you introduce your face to your palm.

“THERE IS A CONSPIRACY HERE DESIGNED TO THROW HER OUT AND SPLIT UP OUR MARRIAGE. WELL IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

inception

We’re not out to get you

Seriously, there’s no conspiracy. There’s no secret organization designed to screw over a couple and split their marriage. It’s an honest to Elune criticism of their performance and the fact that it’s lacking.

That’s it.

Just not worth it

After a while, I realized then that some couples just aren’t worth having around especially not with such an overprotective attitude like that. GMs need to be able to deliver that honest feedback without a vulture jumping in and protecting every chance they get. Handling couple applications usually warrant a much closer examination and the questions asked during any interview stages are going to be different then the solo applicants. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to blanket ask “If I said your significant other was performing poorly in this area, what would you do?”

On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.

Thankfully the couples I have in guild right now are quite mellow and I haven’t had a reason to punt any just yet.

Getting Rid of the Ready Check

The ready check is an easily understood command which has one question for players to answer.

Are you ready?

Traditionally, raid leaders use ready checks to ensure everyone has their buffs, cauldrons and consumables. It’s a last minute reminder for everyone to see if anyone has any questions before going into the pull. Anyone steal a ninja AFK to wash their hands or sneak a drink? The alarm would sound informing players to rush back to their desks or switch programs back into the game.

What if your guild stopped using it? What would change? How would the players and the atmosphere change?

In an upcoming interview with Mel, one of the powers behind the guild of <Edge> and a blogger at Sacred Duty, does not utilize ready checks at all. Here’s a brief excerpt where he explains his reasoning.

Rumor has it that your raid group does not utilize ready checks. If it’s true, how come?
Ready checks are an opt-in system, and opt-in systems deflect responsibility.  Instead, we make the choice to assume that everyone is at keyboard and ready to play when we’re raiding – when they’re expected to be.  We’ll often be discussing strategy during runbacks, so it’s a bad time to just take off the headset and run AFK anyway.  If someone has to take an emergency break, the onus is on them to inform the raid, and then we wait.  But I don’t see a reason to waste 20 seconds on every pull just to ask if everyone is actually at their keyboard, when I could just be informed that someone isn’t there for the one pull that it’s an issue.

This isn’t a completely foreign concept to me since my guild utilizes a sign out system for attendance. We’re not the only ones as other progression oriented guilds do the same thing. Making the assumption that you are ready instead of asking if you’re ready is presents an interesting shift in dynamics. It places a bigger emphasis on players to really speak up if they’re not sure about something or if they need to step out momentarily. In the long run, if you multiply the time spent on ready checks before every pull on a per week and per month basis, the time really does add up. It’s definitely one way of shaving off precious seconds on a raid night.

I’m considering implementing this in Conquest. I might just try it out for a week and see how we respond collectively as a group. It might end up being a positive change for us.

On a side note, a warm welcome to Morynne who has joined the guild!

Valor cap the new softlock? Lodur’s opinion

Yesterday we got news that the valor cap is being lowered from1,250 valor points to 980. This may seem like an insignificant change by itself, but it comes among a series of others as well.

  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Rise of the Zandalari dungeons remains at 980.
  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Heroic dungeons remains at 490.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss in the Firelands is 70 in 10-player mode, and 90 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing Occu’thar in Baradin Hold is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss on Heroic difficulty in The Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four winds is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.

Raiders completing a full tier 12 raid clear will obtain 630 valor points from raiding 25′s and 490 points for 10′s. If they go back and raid heroic levels in the previous tier, they can gain another 585 (25′s) or 455 (10′s) points. Players running their heroic ZA/ZG will be able to cap out on valor points without having to set foot in a raid. So this raised a few questions, and quite a few opinions. I know I had a good run at it on my twitter account yesterday. So what can we take away from this?

The change really levels the playing field for obtaining raid quality gear and Tier 12 items. Whether you’re in a raid or just able to run heroics, everyone will be doing so at roughly the same pace. This can be good for those players attempting to play catch-up in terms of gear so that they too can raid. I understand that point, but I see a couple potential problems with this.

By lowering the amount of valor points in the previous tier, they are attempting to stem the flow of free valor points. I get that, but it partially removes the incentive for doing the tier after the new one comes out. Now I’m not saying this because I want to farm valor points, but it presents a problem. The raid lockout was recently changed with Cataclysm so that 10 and 25 man raids share the same lockout. As a result, for raiding guilds looking to trial out members it means they either have to take them on content that isn’t progression. This takes away from progression raiding time and can actually hinder a guild’s progression. Previously you could take the person into a 10 man raid and see how they did without disrupting your larger raid group’s progression. I personally was looking forward to having a testing ground in the previous tier of content to run recruits through and see how they do, but with the reduction in points I think it’s going to be quite hard to entice people to go back to the previous content. Also, I don’t know about you, but my guild doesn’t have many plans on keeping the previous content in the rotation when there’s new content to progress through, unless we’re going back for a Sinestra kill.

The idea of not being able to cap out from the current raiding tier bothers me. It means I’ll be forced to do heroics to reach the cap, or try to do so from some other method. I don’t like the idea of being forced to do something else, especially when I spend so much time a week already raiding. Sure it’s great for the non raiders who only run heroic dungeons, but I can’t help but feel it’s a slap in the face for raiders. essentially it’s forcing us to spend more time in game doing content we’ve been running since shortly after the game was released. With only 7 bosses in this tier (+1 for Baradin Hold) we’re falling short of our valor cap by 350 points if we full clear. We can assume we won’t be killing Ragnaros on day one of Firelands, so ultimately it means we’re going to spend even more time grinding in game on top of raiding.

It just smacks of an attempt to keep us in the game longer for the ever elusive gear chase. Right now, the new cap puts you at roughly about three weeks to obtain a piece of tier / vendor gear. That’s if you hit the cap every week. So if you’re raiding 15 hours a week, and you’re still learning the fights and aren’t clearing the whole new tier, you’re still forced to do several hours of either other tier raiding AND heroics, or just heroics. This is a significant time investment, and considering it’s content that a lot of us have already done to death, it has the potential to significantly increase burnout. I know a lot of people personally that have seen this and have already decided to stop raiding as a result. It also comes at a time where summertime burnout is creeping in, and this change doesn’t help matters any. Part of it is the fault of only having 7 new bosses in the game, part of it is just the gear grind in general.

It also, in part, seems like a soft gate. Keeping players under-geared longer means it will take longer to get through the content. With only 7 bosses in the tier, I can understand that to a point, but then it puts us in a position similar to what we were in when ICC was out, stagnant. It’s going to be doubly annoying if you hit a DPS wall that only new gear can fix, but you’re weeks away from that relief coming. How about a boss that is a hard healing check, that healers just simply are behind stat-wise through no fault of their own, to heal through. It will take longer to gather the gear to push through the bosses to down the content. While that is partially true of every tier, the limited number of bosses in this tier combined with the new cap in points makes this take that much longer.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out as this eventually rolls to live, and how players will react to it. Me personally, it just means I’ll be spending more time grinding points on my shaman so I can keep up with the raiding content, and a whole lot less time enjoying myself on my alts, if only because there are only so many hours in a day and I can only spend so much of them at my computer desk.
What do you think about this change? do you love it or hate it? How will it affect your time in game?


Matticast Poll: Loot Systems

This week on The Matticast we are going to be covering the pros and cons of various loot systems, but we wanted to get reader feedback first. Which loot system has worked best for you? Have ones you just hate? Answer our poll and leave us your feedback in the comments.

Which Loot System Do you Prefer

  • Loot Council (24%, 63 Votes)
  • EPGP (24%, 62 Votes)
  • Need/Greed (23%, 61 Votes)
  • DKP (13%, 33 Votes)
  • Suicide Kings (10%, 26 Votes)
  • Other (Leave In Comments) (6%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 261

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Raiding Highlights from Cataclysm

Past few months have been nothing but good times for the guild and for me. There were obviously some lows but much more highs. I had gigs upon gigs of videos from learning attempts scattered on my hard drives. So I decided to put a little something together showcasing the good, the wipes, and the stuff that makes you go “What just happened?”.

Many of the clips do feature heavy usages of Leap of Faith. You can see instances where it is used as intended. There are other cases where it is used but… misfires. If you’re a new Priest, I strongly encourage you to practice learning Leap of Faith and when to use it. I’ll have a post coming in the near future with practical usage tips and things to keep in mind, but it’s an extremely reflexive type of spell. It’s not a spell that you intentionally plan ahead of time to use (at least, not usually). I know there are still Priests out there who do not believe in using it to get people out of fires and stuff. And I agree with that sentiment, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on them. As players, we need to do all that we can to try to salvage attempts using whatever skills we have at our disposal even if it adds a bit of embarrassment to someone else who didn’t react quick enough. Besides, there are times such as the Atramedes clips where players are doing everything possible but are still going to get beat.

But that’s where we come in.

I guess it’s my mentality from being a goaltender in hockey for so long.

I will gladly bail out my team.

I got their back. And I know they got mine.

P.S. Ever wonders what happens when Priest A Life Grips Priest B who Life Grips a Pally? Watch the end. But if you want the spoiler:

Priest B gets pulled to Priest A while the Pally gets pulled to where Priest B was originally before the pull.

All in the name of science!

Tough Call: Fighting Progression Frustration

Image courtesy of leonardobc

This week the crew has been hitting our heads against a progression boss, and the talk around the campfire has a decided air of frustration to it. As a leader, you need to be aware of your team’s motivation levels when tackling new challenges. Encounters surpassing your raid team’s ability level can often turn frustration into futility.

But how do does a raid leader handle this precisely?

The same way we handle any problem – with planning and execution.  Sun Tzu, who probably would have been a Vodka/Paragon level raid leader, teaches us:

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

It sounds simple, and when you’re doing it well, it really is simple.  Knowing what needs to be done ahead of time and adjusting as you go along are the two key ingredients to successful raid progression no matter the size of the raid or the strategy being used.

Below are a few points I recommend keeping in mind when your raid team is approaching difficult content:

Planning For Raid Progression

  • Read, understand and analyze the intended boss strategies as dictated by your raid leaders well in advance of attempting the fight. This allows you to see mistakes as well as make changes easily.
  • Be honest with yourself about the capabilities of your team. Have an idea where your weaknesses and strengths lie. This could be include aspects ranging from movement, DPS, healer skill or people with high raid awareness.
  • Know when to call a wipe and when to extend an attempt to see the next phase. Part of your team being dead might still allow the rest of the raid to practice key mechanics of the fight.
  • Experimentation is good. Figure out what works and what doesn’t when you deviate from a typical boss strategy. It might just be easier for your team.
  • Ensure your team is on the same page. Present a united and focused front for your troops to follow.

Sometimes, though, even our best-laid plans… well, you know what happens.  So the question becomes, what next?  What do I do when my team is getting weary, my strategies are in question, and I need a win quickly?

First of all, do not ditch your plan just because it isn’t working.  A strategy can fall apart in a lot of places. It may be execution, it may be a certain raid composition due to attendance; it could be any number of factors.  Find out where the strategy is failing and decide which elements you can change.  Can you swap personnel?  Slight positioning adjustment?  Time your cooldowns better (this is often a fix in Cataclysm raiding)?
Whether your plan needs a complete overhaul or just some minor adjustments, it is still crucial to address the frustration of your raiders and regroup.

  • Do not avoid the tough conversations. When your members bring up their gripes, listen to them. Answer appropriately.
  • Know the difference between toxic negativity and someone just blowing off steam. Sometimes people just need to vent. However, there is line between getting out some frustration and poisoning the morale of your squad.
  • Give responses that are logical and concise. You need to lay out for your team exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it that way,  and why you don’t think it can be done in an alternative way.  The more details, the better.
  • Accept suggestions and give them their due consideration. After all, if the 9 or 24 other people in your raid aren’t intelligent enough to help you with their observations, then you probably shouldn’t be raiding. Applaud valuable and constructive criticism from your raid.
  • Kill the boss and go out for beer!

Remember, the future is brighter.  Your raid will down this boss and will continue downing bosses. Success breeds further success.  Get out there and prove you’re all winners.


Reader Question

Last week, regarding my post on Real Officer Set-Ups, Kalette asked:

“Do you have any comments on how to incorporate this into a 10 man guild with two separate 10 man teams?”

Recently I had a conversation with Matticus about different ways guilds could operate more than one progression-oriented raid team within the same guild. (See Matt’s post here for his thoughts.) My feeling on the idea is that when you’re setting up policies for your guild, (attendance, loot, recruiting, critique, etc) they should apply to everyone playing that portion of the game, not just your raid team.

Clearly each raid needs their own raid leader, both of whom will need to be equally trusted by the GM, and trusted to work alone, because at least one of them will likely be raiding in without you overseeing them.

Beyond that, I think you could pull off a two 10-man raid guild with the same positions mentioned before.  You may have to get creative about which officer raids with which team, but in theory your role officers could oversee recruiting, critique and mentoring for every raider under their domain.  Since we’re talking about smaller numbers, they would each be responsible for roughly the same amount of players as they would in a healthy 25-man team, they would probably just need to be better at analyzing WoL logs parses since they can’t see everyone first hand.

Another approach is to combine a few roles, and have those role leaders cooperate with each other.  Tanks and melee DPS can easily be combined, and you could put ranged DPS and healing in a group together.  Then each 10-man raid would have one officer over each of those pairs.  Outside of raid, you may naturally specialize and have one ranged/healing role leader who is more attuned to healing and another who is better at the pew-pew, but so long as they can learning from each other, you can benefit from both being specialized.

By the numbers:
1x GM
2x RL
1x each Role Leader

Alternative:
1x GM
2x RL
2x Tanks/Melee Leader
2x Ranged/Healing Leader

I think the key caveat I’d make is that recruiting should still be done on a scale of “does this person meet our guild’s standards”, not just will they meet the needs of Raid A or Raid B.  When you’re fielding two squads who are both responsible for pushing progression and increasing your guild’s standing, it’s important to make sure that every raider meets the criteria to deserve that guild’s name above their heads.
Kalette, great question; I hope this helps.  If not, call me dumb and I’ll give it another look.

As always, leave your questions/comments/paternity suits in the comments.  I’ll lovingly read them all.  Also, if you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future episode of Tough Call, just let me know.