Archive for March, 2010

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An angry crew

March 31, 2010

Was talking to a friend who runs the Angry Guild Leader site the other day. Seems a lot of angry people have a lot of things to say, mostly about World of Warcraft. Seems like a trend lately, with nearly every post I see on blogs about this mmo turning into a rant. What is it about this game that has made so many people unhappy?

Anyway, I looked up some blogs and found a considerable amount of ones that are titled the “angry” raider, gamer, whatever. In the interest of curiosity, I thought I would post them here. Most of them are not even active, by the way. Which just goes to prove you cant stay mad forever. ;D

  1. Angry Guild Leader –  the original, orange and black site with various game reviews, guild leadership tips, awesomeness, etc.
  2. Angry Raid Leader – a site where the guy stayed upset off and on for about a year, then tapered off. Now he is living in Vegas and doing the kind of stuff that people do in Vegas. (side note, if what happens in Vegas, STAYS in Vegas, what do the locals do?)
  3. One Angry Gamer – a blog where the guy posted every few weeks for a few years, then signed off. He reported that he worked his anger issues out and had other blog projects.
  4. The Angry Raider – lost his love for MMO’s, and thus, lost his anger.
  5. The Angry Gamer Blog – apparently the now-defunct parent site that spawned The Ban Stick, wherein the author discusses how he is going to be doing table top gaming again. Very soon. He’s also got a podcast and updates fairly often about various games. nice site.
  6. The Angry Butterfly – Because you should be able to raid end game and love your spec too. The site title says it all. A nicely written, fairly often updated blog about a gamer in World of Warcraft.
  7. Angry Healers – I love the name of site, for obvious reasons. The subtitle reads, ‘Letting you die of your stupid since 2009″. Interesting. She is still blogging and raiding, by the way.
  8. Angry Rant News – last post, August 2009. About Ozzy playing at Blizzcon. Apparently they got a sponsor and stopped writing in favor of pod casting. Looks like radio killed the blogging stars.
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My lewt list

March 10, 2010

I find it odd that my guild has made it all the way to the Lich King with me still needing so much gear. Usually I am topped off on BIS gear about the time we start working on the end boss. Dunno if this is due to the easier mechanics of the new WoW endgame bosses and my guild is simply mowing them down too fast, or its because the guild Disc Priest has been benched 40% of the time since starting ICC. I suspect its the former and there are probably quite a few healers in a similar position.

Either way, I won’t worry about the past, I am far more concerned about the present. I am the kind of person who isn’t logging in each night for loot, I log in because I want to raid regardless if something drops for me or not. For me, loot is fun and rewarding, and it makes me feel good when I get something I have wanted for a long time. But the bottom line remains that it’s still only a tool to help me reach the next objective – or tier – in raiding.

However, many guilds don’t share my silly “just wanna play the game” mindset and utilize loot need as the deciding factor for slotting people for raid spots. I have to agree it is a pretty fair system, as I think most of us want the stuff =)

Since our new healing lead is using loot priority as a method to decide the new bench in ICC, I came up with an electronic version of the little notebook of gear I keep in front of me as I raid at night. Here is my list:

~=< Normal 25  >=~

Lord Marrowgar:
* Crushing Coldwraith Belt

Gunship:
* Althor’s Abacus
* Ring of Rapid Ascent

Saurfang:
* Conqueror Token – (pants)

Rotface:
* Death Surgeon’s Sleeves
* Corpse-Impaling Spike

Professor Putricide:
* Conqueror Token – (pants)

Blood-Queen Lana’thel:
* Blood Queen’s Crimson Choker
* Conqueror Token – (pants)

Valithria Dreamwalker:
* Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape

~=< Heroic 25 >=~

Lord Marrowgar:
* Crushing Coldwraith Belt

Gunship:
* Althor’s Abacus
* Ring of Rapid Ascent

Saurfang:
* Conqueror Token

Rotface:
* Death Surgeon’s Sleeves
* Corpse-Impaling Spike

Festergut:
* Plague Scientist’s Boots

Professor Putricide:
* Conqueror Token

Blood Prince Council:
* Shadow Silk Spindle

Blood-Queen Lana’thel:
* Blood Queen’s Crimson Choker
* Conqueror Token

Valithria Dreamwalker:
* Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape

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Effective habits of world class guilds

March 9, 2010

Last night was another progression night on The Lich King. We hit ICC about 8pm and were up on the King’s platform by 8:20. It was a great night full of hopeful optimism. Everyone was primed. Everyone expected a quick kill. When we had left off on the Lk on Thursday, we had been successfully hitting the end of phase three and everyone was just finalizing the learning process. It seemed that all that stood in our way was perfecting Val’kyr positioning.

So, when we got up there, we learned the big change from Thursday was we had a new Main Tank learning the fight. The DK who had been respeccing  to Tank this fight cheerfully stepped aside and the Bear Tank who rolled in off vacation took his spot. I was really impressed with how fast our beloved Bear was learning the stages and positioning, and he rarely made the same mistake twice. He really is a great Tank. After about two hours of learning the ropes and other minor readjustments, it really felt like we were back on track with where we stopped last Thursday.  The Raid Leader was asked if we could take a break, but decided we didn’t need it because with a little more persistence and some luck, he felt that we’d have that fight down.

Well, as to be expected, the player base got more and more fatigued, and avoidable mistakes started happening.  For the first time we hit the end of Phase three and immediately wiped to Endless Winter and the cone shadow damage thingie (only ten of us in the raid had the kill on 10man and we were all caught off guard). Occasionally we lost key people to spell misses for Necrotic Plague. Val’kyr positioning got crazy when one of the raiders who was being helpful and marking collapse points for part of the night ran out of Elune Stones. Several people got tense as we tried to gather on the side of the middle without using any defining marks and started speaking over each other in vent to “go here” and “MOVE to the SIDE” forgetting that only they knew which “here” or “the side” they were talking about.

Well, to say the least, it was a challenging night. But I think that our experience is pretty typical of most top-end guilds and no better or worse than most. However, over the last five years of playing this game, I have met some pretty smart strategists and gamers. From conversations with these brilliant people, and from being one of the few players still around who has killed every single boss in this game and seen the same old mechanics repeated in new fights many many times over, you pick stuff up, you know? You have either seen it done or heard about it, and from running with new people on different realms you learn that there is always more than one good way to do anything.

One of the things I love about this game is it’s excellent combat structure and the ability to use your brain over brawn to complete many of the encounters. The best of the best raiders out there use as many “crutches” as possible to simplify and streamline encounters so their excellent player base can do what they do best: down the encounters FAST. So, I thought I would share some basic concepts about techniques that I have learned over my five years of raiding that would have helped last night’s raid – and might have even got us the kill we wanted last night. And yes, I offered all these suggestions to an officer before I posted these here.

Here is my list of four ideas that would have helped us kill the Lich King sooner

A) Most people know that Healers do not stack hit gear. Dispels and Cure/Abolish’s can and do miss which causes dispels to occasionally.. well.. miss. I have seen log files showing misses can happen up to 34% of the time DESPITE what people think they should do. The blue posters on the forums know about this and they gently remind us that its all part of the RNG; some fights will be better than other fights and the tooltip for Abolish Disease clearly states that the spell is an “attempt”. As well, not all spells that land on a player are level 80 spells. One of Blizzard’s little fun tricks is to have a level 83 spell land on a player, thus requiring hit gear to avoid the miss RNG. Repeating the mistake of expecting classes that aren’t hit capped to perform mission-critical dispels such as Fusion Punch on the Steelbreaker tank, removing the Mind Control in the pre-nerfed Yogg, and curing the Necrotic Plague disease the Lich King fight is leaving too much RNG to chance. While healers are fine for most dispel jobs, such as Faction Champs in ToGC, or Hodir’s Freeze, if you want a sure kill on the progression fight, raid leaders should request that hit capped DPS like a a ret pally, shaman or a shadow priest be put on that critical job. Greyson over at Fusion (a top 50 Guild) got a chuckle when I told him that most guilds don’t make anyone but healers do that job.

B) Not using raid symbols or flares or Elune Stones to mark positions on a new boss fight just makes the encounter harder for everyone REGARDLESS of skill or aptitude. Might uses them, (a top 20 Guild) and in many world first videos I see these things thrown all over the boss’s floor or floating over player’s heads or whatever. Easily seen markers are not a crutch for bad players, and regarding them as such is just simple egotism that has no place in a top end guild. Symbols and markers are put in the game to help us. They make scanning the raid and repositioning faster for excellent players, and allows the less experienced players to keep up with the rest of the raid and not hold people back due to learning curve confusion.

C) Slotting someone new, no matter how talented they are, into the most critical spot of a complex, multi-stage progression boss fight that is still being learned and expecting them to not stumble or wipe the raid as they learn the fight is not matching expectations to experience and reality. No one, no matter how great they are, can walk into a boss fight as epic as the last boss in an expansion, and perform it perfectly without a few hits and misses. Well, maybe Chuck Norris can, but real humans cant. Failing to match expectations (of a quick kill) to experience (newbie) by training the new person about the positioning and the way the mechanics work with a few attempts as DPS, or by taking them on a ten man run before launching them into your 25man progression fight, is not fair to the rest of your team. Which leads me to my next point..

D) Denying modest breaks and expecting response times and reactions to be as fresh four hours later as they were at the beginning of a night is bad leadership and somewhat neglectful of the health of your raiders and the loyalty they place in your hands. Repeating the same pattern by only allowing breaks on farm nights, and not on progression nights when top performance and raid-aware game play is super important can be detrimental to fast progression. Announce when the breaks will happen, and start raids on time. If someone is still in IF or /afk when we pull, or needs to go back to the bank because they forgot whatever, be brave and drop-them-from-the-raid. Really. You can do it, and you know what? Guild members will benefit by seeing the effort to be prepared and on-time being rewarded by being slotted for runs. Plus the guild itself will gain a reputation for being punctual that will attract raiders who are mature and responsible. I know several top 100 guilds that take 20 minute breaks on progression nights. Its the farm nights that are usually the fast get-in-kill-them-all-and-get-out sort of nights.

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Raid slots

March 9, 2010

I am very curious to see how things pan out tonight in raid. Will we see fair slotting or will there be more of the same sideline sitting for the same crowd. I remain, as always, supportive and hopeful…

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LF39M MC – my experience using the new Dungeon Finder Tool

March 8, 2010

Ahh the lovely challenge of using the Random Dungeon finder tool.

Over on Blog Azeroth, we have been challenged with coming up with some positive stories from using the LFG system. Problem is, Most dungeon runs are pretty standard. You queue up, you go in and buff, force the tank to pull at light speed and you grab your loot and go. Its hard to come up with suitable tear moistening stories from such a routine occurrence.

Far easier to recount for your reading enjoyment is the tale of how I got kicked from a low level BFD run by a healer and his two buddies. It really is a positive story, I swear. The lessons I learned from it were rather good for me, it was terribly amusing overall, and after thinking it over carefully, the experience has made me a more considerate low level dungeon runner.

So there I was, running through the Black Fathom Deeps instance, DPSing like a mad woman and fending off mobs that kept magically pulling off the tank, when we came to the Twilight cultist’s boss room. We kill the boss quickly and I hop up on the dais and start happily lighting all the candles…   As I light the third candle, it suddenly dawned on me… >.< err… we aren’t level 80… We are gonna die…  oops..!!!! Belatedly I battled the waves of Adds valiantly trying to correct my mistake by killing them all before anyone died, but was overwhelmed in the end. As soon as I died, I typed my apology and explanation for being such a tard.

Hoo boy was that embarrassing.

The healer was so mad at me he refused to res me. No one in the group said one word to me after my apology, and so I started the long corpse run back to the ruined Temple of Elune in the Zoram Strand. I received my vote kick long before I had made it back to the instance portal.

But long before the vote kick came, I knew this run wasn’t going to go so smoothly when out of the blue the healer’s girlfriend emote /slapped me for thanking the healer for an earlier res and offering cupcakes. I remember being stunned and thinking to myself, if this was an RP realm, I’d be honor bound to kick her skinny butt. Who walks around slapping people and thinking its not going to provoke a reaction anyway? I casually commented that she didn’t need to hit other people who are being nice to the healer. She didn’t say anything.

About ten minutes after that, I spied a chest near the Merloc cave and popped it open to see what was in it. Back in the day, we used to roll on the right to open them, because sometimes there were valuable greens inside. But a little bit after Burning Crusade came out, Blizzard instituted a group /roll system for greens in chests. People stopped rolling to loot the chests and whomever wanted the vendor trash usually popped them for the group. Well, apparently the Healer, Tank and Slappy all came from a realm that still rolled on them. It was bizarre being lectured by the healer like I was some recalcitrant child who never ran a dungeon before. I took the umbrage gracefully and explained my mistake and apologized. This was a new experience for me and from that moment on, the run took on a feeling of the unreal.

When the healer pompously starting lecturing my rather scrubby warlock friend about his unacceptable DPS in this level 20 run I just had to laugh. Here I was, dripping in heirloom items and AH huntard greens, leading them through a dungeon, and so obviously not a new player – I kept thinking to myself that no one can be that ignorantly pompous, can they? And for that matter.. WHO RUNS RECOUNT AT LEVEL 20?? really.. level 20! I know.. i couldn’t belive it either… I mean, my warlock friend is infamous for not being able to DPS at any level or any class – he is the ubiquitous scrubb and we love him despite is terribad playing skills. But this is a level 20 run.. not ICC 25 or a timed run or anything.

Suffice to say, when the imminent group kick finally came, I was glad to get away from the dysfunctional couple and their tanking buddy. My scrubby warlock friend didn’t realize what happened at first (I learned that day that it only takes three votes to kick someone from a run – he wasn’t even asked) and eventually he realized I was gone. He wandered around the dungeon a little bit then took off to do some solo questing.

Took me a few days to sort through my emotions, but in the end, I am mostly amused at the experience, and a little bit chastened for scrubbing it up like I did.

First, because being treated like a problem child in a dungeon run has so very rarely happened to me. I have always thought of myself as a somewhat polite person in real life, and I do my best to extend that to my game play in MMO’s. I try to be communicative and don’t harangue or harrass people when they make mistakes or get upset. Also, I have more than your average amount of instancing experience – I leveled my first serious avatar, a healing priest, five years ago. Healing your way up to level 60 through the dungeons made lots of friends and very few enemies. Although things were very different back in the days of Vanilla WoW, no one would kick a competent healing priest from a group. heck, i am not sure they would kick an asshat healing priest either, but I too much of a softie to be mean to people. Healers were in short supply back in the day, and I was proud that I was friends to so many others on my realm.

Second, I was rather amused at the girlfriend’s reaction. Something like that would never happen to me in real life – So unexpected and out of the blue to suddenly be slapped by another person. I imagined it to be like walking into a bar, ordering a drink and getting cold cocked by the person standing next to you. Not something one sees every day, or even in a lifetime.. lol.

Lastly, I was a little touched at the nostalgia of rolling on chests and using CC on low level dungeon runs. The Dungeon Finder tool brings so many different realm cultures together, it was nice being reminded to not assume everyone in a group was on the same page as far as low level loot rules went.

I haven’t ran a low level run since then. Partly in fear of that rough experience being repeated. Its enough to watch my son on the weekends struggling through the low level runs with the seemingly revolving door of people popping in and out of the average run. Although its awesome to finally be able to queue up for a low level run – they had almost died out before the Dungeon finder tool was instituted – seems its very rare to see the same five people who start the run actually finish it. Vote kicks are rampant as are people /afking and dropping group in favor of less harrowing experiences. I hope the next time I have the energy to run a lowbie run, I can help improve on this culture with good behavior and actually get a group to finish without unnecessary drops or drama.

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Why Having a B team hurts your guild

March 7, 2010

I found this excellent Q&A on the Lexington Guild Forums. It illustrates better than I could (being so emotionally close to the matter and all) why sitting some members more frequently than others is a bad idea for the health of a progression guild.

Why not bring the best 25 people online every night?

Carefully consider the effects: True, we might kill a particular boss slightly earlier. The best players would see slightly more invites than they do under our current system, and might gear up slightly faster.

However… The ‘lesser performing’ players would receive greatly reduced invites. They would then be demoralized, under-geared, less experienced, and less prepared. They would have less opportunity to improve and practice. They would be much more likely to quit. Then, when any of the ‘better players’ are out, we’d be bringing a poor substitute instead of another strong player. Or we might not have anyone available because they all quit.

Furthermore, a merit-based invite system has these effects:

  • unhealthy and miserable competition to see who is “good enough” to make the invite list
  • focus on pointing out other people’s mistakes instead of cooperating
  • focuses raiders on meters instead of on killing bosses
  • officers have to decide who is better than who. This would cause us endless arguments and drama.

Anyway, that sums it up pretty well how damaging sitting good people over other people can be for a guild. If you want to have a guild that doesn’t falter and stumble when things get tight, you don’t play favorites and you rotate people fairly.

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I’m on the outside looking in…

March 6, 2010

Been getting benched a lot lately…

I was recruited away from my home server of 4 years for a full-time position with my current guild by two dear friends.

At the time, it was clear that what I was being recruited for was a full-time spot and being your typical over-confident healing Priest, I didn’t listen very closely to the warnings their exiting disc priest told me about how he was benched constantly. I chalked his unhappiness up to not being an aggressive enough healer and not proving his worth and promised myself that *I* would be the Disc Priest that would show them how awesome Disc can be.

My trial month was filled with constant raid invites, PVP healing invites, randoms, etc. I loved it, and felt like things were really on track for me. I gained several raid achievements and even though I was still a recruit, my healing team peers advocated to get me slotted for a coveted spot on the team for Celestial Defender. Things were great.

After my trial period was over and I accepted the guild membership, things started to slow down. Several more healers were recruited to the guild and raid healing slots got very hard to land. I was turned off tank healing as it became obvious that the way to justify one’s spot in the raid was to dominate the meters. Disc healing and mitigation in general was called into question a few times after progression wipes, and even though I tried to explain how my spec and class works, and provided logs to show I was doing what I was supposed to, PLUS leading the charts by leaps and bounds, the RL and a few key officers didn’t really get it.  I found myself, despite near perfect execution on most of the fights, sitting outside of ICC more and more.

Eventually it got to the point where I was sitting more than I was raiding, and growing restless with inactivity.
My new server is a low population server and there is nothing fun to do that isn’t solo most of the time. Worse, I began to feel rusty when I was allowed to join raids and had been fighting a growing desire to just log out and play my Warden on EQII.

My healing peers were as baffled as I, and we all scratched our heads over the situation and made sure by scanning logs and searching our memories that the reason I was getting sat so much wasn’t my gameplay or raid-awareness. But in the end, there was little anyone could do to get me a slot because the person making the choices for raid slots didn’t understand the value of a disc priest.

Finally I came to the conclusion that even though I love my guild, and they don’t stint on gear or treat me badly, I am just too competitive to be happy sitting night after night listening in vent to my friends having the time of their lives. After talking it over with a few friends and officers, I faced the fact that I had to do some soul searching and make some decisions if I am to raid like I wish and enjoy this game.