Matticast Episode 6

Welcome to Episode 6 of The Matticast. This week Matt, BorskKat, and Brian discuss:

  • How to deal with raiders not pulling their weight, from both a leader and non-leader perspective.
  • Listener Topic: The State of Druids & Shaman or The Reason Why What Paragon Does Shouldn’t Matter.

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

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

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3 Different Raiding Roster Setups

Since raid groups can’t do the same raid twice in a week on both 10 and 25, raid leaders have to try to get creative when it comes to roster setups in a bid to ensure players stay warm and can see all the encounters. Players need to sit out (or can’t show up) from time to time and it helps to have others who can step in. Preferably, raid leaders want players with the experience. In order to get the experience, they need to get pulled into the raid.

How can a raid pull that off while maximizing their gains?

Baradin Hold

Baradin Hold is the Vault of Archavon style raid where there is a chance for players to receive their tier leg or glove pieces. Traditionally, I would try to get at least one player of each class and spec in the raid so that no matter what would drop, we wouldn’t have to shard it. Alas, it seems that we’ve been striking out with pure PvP pieces.

Priest loot drops when I’m not there either.

Farm content

I define farm content as anything that we’ve been able to consistently take down under 3 shots. For example, on a fight like Halfus which changes every week due to the different drake configurations is an encounter I would consider on farm. The raid leaders would bring in new recruits to assess their performance while the new players would see if the raid environment was a good fit for them. If things go sour and we’re not able to get a farm boss down, then we immediately make substitutions and transform into progression content mode. It’s also a great way to give veteran players a night off if they’re not feeling well or if they need to tackle a last minute paper (Guilty).

Progression content

This is where we activate the A-Team. We bring in the veteran players who have shown consistently high performance. In addition, we’ve started looking at the demands of the encounter and what is the best setup. If it’s extremely melee unfriendly, we’ll add a few extra ranged players. If we need a little extra healing, I’ll add an extra healer as necessary. We tailor the roster accordingly. The leadership is on the same page here. We want to get that initial kill as quick as possible. As our kills get smoother, we’ll start tuning the roster so that eventually everyone will get a crack at it.

Looking at it on a weekly basis

Right now, I’m debating the idea of combining both farm content and progression content bosses. For example, on day one of a raid week, I’d like to enter an instance and take out the farm bosses and then pushing straight for a progression boss. If necessary, I’ll make a substitution mid-raid to get the experienced players in. On day 2, I’ll do the same thing. I would want to enter a different instance and knock out the farm bosses there before making attempts on a progression boss. On the last raid day, I’d try to get down another farm boss before finishing off the week by working on a progression boss.

No matter what the case, no day is really wasted because there’s at least a boss that gets taken down. By spreading out the time in this manner, we have the capacity to get attempts in and then take a day to reflect or analyze an encounter.

I am curious. How do you determine which bosses to go after and what raid roster to bring?

Tough Call: Turning Down Epics

On this week’s issue of Tough Call, we’re going to discuss an idea that may seem counter-intuitive to some readers, especially at this point in the expansion;

Not taking epics!

Crazy, I know, but hear me out.

To be clear, I don’t mean that you should refuse to take epics, or that your gear doesn’t need to be upgraded.  Anyone who knows me knows that if the loot is on my must-have list, I will absolutely put in for it at the appropriate time.

No, what I’m talking about today is gear that is not BiS.  Your side-grades, your “better than what I have”, or that loot that’s a higher iLvl but not the ultimate piece you want.

Whether you’re running a Loot Council, a points-based system, or even some kind of Rochambeau craziness, you should still take into account the overall benefit that the loot is bringing to your guild. And that includes comparing it to the value gained by not equipping it.

My usual theory when it came to loot in Wrath and BC was “the loot will drop again”.  Nowadays I’m changing my outlook to “is this THE best loot”.  This is because, right now, most guilds should find themselves in a new position where there just aren’t enough epics being DE’d in order to get the maelstrom crystals needed for the best enchants available.

I know right now everyone should be hungry to preform better, and it’s easy to say “well, I’m under-geared” or “I need that upgrade and I can heal/tank/dps through this tough phase”.  Trust me, I really want to get rid of this 333 crap trinket I’ve been saddled with for a few weeks now.  That does not, however, mean that I will seek to equip any available epic tossed my way like a hungry hungry hippo.

Edit: Passed on 2x Jar of Ancient Remedies and used my Valor points on the Core of Ripeness instead.  Int rocks the body that rocks the party.

Let’s use a recent example, the other night we were in Bastion of Twilight and the boss dropped some cloth DPS pants.  Of course our warlocks were wearing iLvl 346 blue pants, yet none of them put in for the shiny new epic.  Their reasoning?  They were all within a few points of getting their tier pants and realized that the maelstrom crystal from disenchanting the pants would be worth more to the guild than giving them epic pants that they’d only wear for a week before they got their 2-piece.  Now that we’ve gotten the needed mats for Power Torrent, those warlocks are doing considerably more DPS than they would be with a pant upgrade that they were able to replace anyways.

Similarly we’ve had melee DPS players pass on their side-grades or off-spec gear in order to get the maelstrom crystals.  I’m certain that when they weighed the stats, the 1000 AP proc on a Landslide enchant that those crystals could get them looked a lot better than the marginal/temporary increase gotten though a non-BiS upgrade.

Of course, the exception to this rule is players with enchanting.  Toss them the non-BiS gear and they’ll reap the benefits of the stat increase while getting ready for the real loot, and you’ll still get your crystals when they’re done.

Please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments below.  Additionally, if you happen to know the answer to 10-down on the NY Times Crossword, that one’s been bugging me all day.

Matticast Episode 5

Welcome to Episode 5 of The Matticast. This week MattLodurKat, and Brian discuss:

  • Randomize raid encounters
  • Why healers always get blamed
  • Update on the Druid/Shaman healing situation in progression raiding.
  • The listener topic this week tackles difficulties you face as a raider.

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

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

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Tough Call: Is Preparation Enough?

Tough Call: Is Preparation Enough?

683292_50743243Welcome to Tough Call with me, Viktory.  This column aims to answer some questions and start even more discussions about one of the trickier aspects of raiding, raid leadership.  Sometimes “raid leadership” will mean strictly talking about class composition, role management, benching policies and loot, and inevitably sometimes it will bleed over into overall guild leadership. 

Based on my own experiences and the conversations I have every week with current and past guild/raid leaders, I know that this is one area where there is almost no black and white, and everyone can use some help or constructive criticism at times. 

I can tell you now that my answers will not be the universally-applicable answer, nor will they be the happy/nice/”make everyone love me” solutions.  That simply is not effective; raid management isn’t a WordPress plug-in, it’s a graduate-level course in human relations and resource management and we’re all crazy for trying to do it. 

My aim is always to have the most efficient raid possible, so that we can get in, get the job done, then go have a beer and pat ourselves on the back afterwards. 
Bottom line, the intent of this column will be to discuss how to make the decisions that the 24 other people in your raid would hate to make.  After-all, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”; but hey, you get to wear a frickin’ crown!

Now let’s move on to this week’s topic.

Preparation is the bare minimum

This week, many of you will either be grouping together for your guild’s first serious raids this expansion, or will be seeing more of your guildies hitting the gear levels to be able to join your raiding ranks.  Either way, you should be in a position where you have to decide who you will take to raids and who will be coming in off the bench.

In order to field the best team possible as you roll into a brand new expansion, you cannot always rely on the players who were your all-stars in Wrath.  Some may have grown complacent.  Some may have life commitments that prevent them from gearing-up (or even leveling up) as the same pace as the rest of your guild.  Some may even be less interested in raiding than they were last go-round.  Regardless of the reason, you owe it to your group to take an honest look at every possible option and make the best decisions.

If your group is already 12/12, please accept this High-Five and check back with us next week.  If your group is exactly 10 people and you would never dream of raiding with anyone else regardless of how long you have to wait…  let’s agree to disagree

If you’re still with me, I assume you’re not in one of those first two groups, and you’re probably facing some of the same decisions I’ve had to make this week.

For the sake of argument, let’s presume you’re doing 25-man raiding and have a roster of 30-40 people to choose from.  Six months ago, you could have considered multiple factors: experience, achievements, badge-gear vs boss-drops, etc.

Today, preparation is king.

Preparation does not always mean gear.  Sometimes people can get lucky and every instance they run drops exactly what they need.  I’ve seen it.  That doesn’t mean that they are any more prepared to raid than they were the day before, it just means that they may have a larger margin for error.

  • Among your healers, who is most prepared to keep your team alive when you’re in those first raid encounters?  
  • Who has taken the time to watch the videos, read the boss breakdowns, and consider what parts of their class/spec are best suited for each fight mechanic?  
  • Which of your tanks knows what is expected of them on each fight and which one is just hoping you’ll point them towards a boss and let them button-mash?

It should be absolutely unacceptable for your raid members to expect you to give them boss breakdowns before each pull.  Efficient raids will already be slowed down by new class mechanics and everyone needing new loot, you absolutely cannot allow another 10-15 minutes per raid to explain the strat.  Certainly you may review how your implementation of the suggested strat may differ (where to group on Altramedes, which drake to focus first on Halfus, etc), but the concepts and fight mechanics should have been discussed on your guild forums well before raid day.  This includes making sure the vital roles (such as interrupts, counter-spells, DPS tranquilities, etc.) have been assigned, preferably including back-ups.  If someone cannot meet this minimum standard, then they are not prepared to meet the challenges of raiding in Cataclysm and have made your decision that much easier. 

Remember, your roster should be a living document, constantly changing to meet your needs, and hopefully constantly improving as time goes on.  If you bring in the player who is most prepared, the one who went through the beta, has cleared every heroic 20 times, did 10-man raids before your guild had 25 people ready and thinks they know exactly what to do on each fight; that player can still fail.  They might have learned all this to mask the fact that they suck as moving out of the fire.  Preparation doesn’t show skill, but it does show dedication to the ideal of efficient and knowledgeable raiding.

Preparation is king, but it is not a guarantee.  Pick the guys who know what is expected of them so that you stay alive longer and can get the best possible looks at the new content.  Then, after a few nights, go back and use this experience to help you pick out who your top performers are.

Podcast Topic: Life As A Raider

Each week on Matticast we will be featuring a topic driven by our audience. You can submit your comments on this post, or e-mail us with your thoughts. You can even send us an audio clip (mp3 format please). This is your chance to have your say on what we discuss on World of Matticus. Also don’t forget, if you have general questions you’d like answered on the show, you can send them our way. Remember we record on Sunday nights, so get your thoughts in before then!

A couple week’s ago we asked what your challenges were as a Guild/Raid Leader, now its time for the flip side. What issues do you have as a member of the general raid/guild population?Keeping up with raid attendance, dealing with the guild bank, unorganized raids? What frustrations would you like to vent to the leadership of your guild?

Podcast Topic: What Dungeon/Raid Bosses Are Causing You Trouble?

Each week on Matticast we will be featuring a topic driven by our audience. You can submit your comments on this post, or e-mail us with your thoughts. You can even send us an audio clip (mp3 format please). This is your chance to have your say on what we discuss on World of Matticus. Also don’t forget, if you have general questions you’d like answered on the show, you can send them our way. Remember we record on Sunday nights, so get your thoughts in before then!

This week we are looking for the Dungeon/Raid encounters that are troubling your guild. Having healing issues on Vanessa Van Cleef, DPS troubles on Magmaw, need help with phase transition on Nef? let us know what bosses are troubling your guild at this point and we will do our best to help ya out.

Which Cataclysm Raid Boss Should You Attempt First?

There’s no rush on shooting for raids at the moment. The holidays are over now and I know a number of guilds have scheduled their raids after New Years. While Conquest began informal raiding operations in December, I know that one question I struggled with was trying to decide what raid bosses to go after first. Each boss had it’s own set of challenges which made some easier than others. Raid composition also plays a role as some (Most?) encounters are ranged friendly compared to others.

You know you’re ready to raid

  1. You’re bored to tears of doing heroics repeatedly
  2. You’ve gotten all the epic gear you can get from reputations
  3. You paid an arm, a leg, and auctioned off the naming rights to your first born to buy epic quality gear
  4. Full set of augments including shoulder enchant, helm enchant, normal enchants and superior gems

You have 9 or 24 other people that are in the same boat as you are. It’s not enough that you are ready. You need to have a composition that looks like a competent raid group. Make sure you have enough tanks, healers and DPS players. If you’re serious about giving some of these bosses a shot, you don’t want to go in with 4 tanks, 4 healers and 2 DPS. While you might get certain fights down eventually, several of these encounters function as DPS checks with enrage timers.

Let’s take a look at what your raid leader need to figure out.

  • Can your raid group handle dynamic encounters? The Omnitron Defense System varies every attempt. You may not get the same sequence of Trons. Your raid group must be able to respond to different sets of abilities depending on which Trons are up. This is ideally suited for players who can pick up abilities quickly. It can be frustrating the first few times especially when your group is learning how to deal with poison clouds, ch ain lightnings, red lasers and so forth. But if you log enough hours on the encounter, you’ll eventually get a feel for the mechanics.
  • Does loot matter? Scout out the loot tables of the various bosses and see which one offers the greatest variety of loot which can be used. I wouldn’t worry about this too much though as this is the first tier of raid content. I guarantee at least someone will want something.
  • Is time of the essence? This may not be a big deal for some guilds, but others have extremely limited raid hours. Blackwing Descent only has one set of trash per boss. Bastion of Twilight has multiple pulls which involve up to 10 mobs on 25. Throne of the Four Winds has no trash at all. If you want to start throwing yourselves against a wall instead of grinding through the fun that is trash, then Throne of the Four Winds or Blackwing Descent will be the instances you’re looking for.

Great! So which boss should I aim for?

This is the order I would personally recommend and why.

Argaloth: I refer to him as Brutalus’ brother. This is a great DPS check for your raid composition to see how they do. If Argaloth repeatedly enters the berserk phase and your raid is unable to take him down without dying, it’s a good bet that some of the players need to acquire more gear somehow to meet the requirements. It also awards tier gear and PvP gear.

Magmaw: This boss will be easy to take down after a few attempts at it. Your raid will know what to watch for and expect during the two same phases.

Omnitron Defense System: A little tougher compared to Magmaw but the learning curve is steeper. Your raid group will need to make repeated pulls to cycle through all the Tron abilities and see for themselves what to do.

Halfus Wyrmbreaker: The trash leading up to him is a good check of DPS, tanking and healing. In the past 3 weeks we’ve taken him down, we’ve always gotten at least one epic item from trash. In fact, last night we received two Chelley’s Staff of Dark Mending. I grabbed one of them and we looted the other to a resident Resto Druid. I believe the heroic version of the staff is one of the best weapons out there for healing priests.

Conclave of Wind: The loot from this boss is an epic belt or epic ring which has a random enchantment on it. In other words, we don’t know what we’re getting when we take down the boss. I’d rather aim for the bosses where we do have an idea of what will drop. Conclave is also slightly more technical in the amount of coordination among the different groups that is required.

Regardless of what you choose, remember that you’ll experience all of them soon enough.

Raid Leading 101: What’s your motivation?

Welcome to Raid Leading 101! I’m Thespius, and I’ll be writing weekly about the in’s and out’s of what we see (or what you can expect to see) stepping into this coveted leadership role. I plan on covering a variety of individual topics: Tips, Lessons, Conflict, Loot Systems, Recruitment Systems, Scheduling, Add-ons, and whatever you feel needs to be covered. I am a new Raid Leader myself, so I look at this entire experience as a discovery. I’m certainly not perfect, but then again, no one really is.  If you have a topic you’d like covered on “Raid Leading 101″, email it to elder.thespius@gmail.com.

On your mark, get set, GO!

I don’t believe any of us woke up one morning thinking, “Wow, I think I’m gonna be in charge of 9/24+ people!” For the most part, our desire to lead has come from experience. You may have started raiding for the first time, and saw the command that the raid leader had. He/She knew the encounters inside and out and what everyone’s job needed to be. People listened to that “General” and obeyed orders.

OR, you had a horrible Raid Leader. Maybe you felt he/she didn’t have a good hold on the situation, using out-dated or unrealistic strategies. You just felt that the job wasn’t being done correctly, and you started to see all the things NOT to do. Therefore, you take it upon yourself to be a better and wiser Raid Leader.

In either scenario, you most likely learned from what you saw. Something in your past experience guided you to this position. You’re taking the lessons you learned and the stories you lived through, and you’re putting it towards your own system. You have a great trust in what you think is helpful and what is not. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Why?”

Meaning of Life My Leadership

I got my raiding feet wet in Karazhan, and I wanted more. My original guild <Sword Through the Horde> didn’t have the roster to do Serpentshrine Cavern or beyond. I joined <Rise of the Phoenix>. Drama on a low-population server tore it apart. I joined up with the newly-minted <Team Sport>, but the raiding was just too casual. I got cozy with <Concedo Nulli>, but drama crumbled that fun to the ground. I aligned myself with Lodur’s <Unpossible> and found a great home, but it was missing something.

I was missing the friends that I “grew up with” in the game. You’ll probably hear about them throughout this “column”. They’re near and dear to me, which is why I decided to go back to <Team Sport>. However, I knew (as they did) that we needed to implement a more solid structure. They all loved hearing the stories of our boss downings in <Unpossible>, and I would even invite my friend Jayme over to watch our Lich King kills. They were slightly jealous and wanted similar. It was at this point I started to tip-toe into the leadership position.

I’ve discovered that the most important thing to me is to progress through raid content with my friends that share the same mindset. There are 6-7 of us that share the similar belief of a light schedule but with solid progression. Hence, I’ve tasked myself with creating a Raid Team based around that. My closest in-game friends and I taking on 10-mans with force.

Your turn, Grasshopper

So you have to take an inward glance. If you’ve ever thought about taking the “Reins of the Raid”, you have to ask yourself, “Why?” It’s not an easy job, so you need to be passionate. Know what it is you want to accomplish, and stay true to what got you here in the first place. Maybe it’s friendship, maybe it’s hunger, maybe it’s adrenaline. Whatever it is, take some time to identify it. It’s going to be the backbone of your leadership.

What drives you to be the Raid Leader? What is it that convinced you to take on the role?

Matticast Episode 2

Welcome to Episode 2 of The Matticast. This week Matt, Borsk, Kat, and Brian discuss:

  • How to spend those first Valor Points
  • How to deal with a guildie who is not enjoying their class (or what to do if that guildie is you!)
  • Are Druids and Shaman really not useful in High End Raiding
  • Community Responsibility to the Average Player

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

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

Play