Archive for the ‘Raid Leading’ Category

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When The Going Gets Tough, Real Hardcore Raiders Dont Get Squishie

May 5, 2010

Larisa over at The Pink Pigtail Inn wrote a great blog on which qualities make a guild truly Hardcore. In her article, ‘A Hardcore Guild in its True Sense‘ she states:

It’s in those moments that your guild will reveal its true nature. How does it look beneath the surface – are you solid when you’re put at trial? Are you a hardcore guild in its true sense – meaning that you have a core that will endure and find ways to overcome the challenges? Or are there squishies among you, players who get cranky, bitter, blaming others, not taking responsibility or just hiding away from the problems when the success doesn’t come easily?

And it got me thinking. I mean.. my guildies, while they are great people and fun to be around, don’t always fit into the mold of a true hardcore guild. I often wonder if we got more professional about how we react to things, if we wouldn’t be even FURTHER along than we already are. I think its undeniable that if most guilds were mature in their dealings with frustration and constructive criticism they wouldn’t have recruitment problems. Look around at the forums, in this pre-catalyst expansion era, with raid leaders blogging that they can’t fill slots, guilds with a solid positive atmosphere aren’t hurting for the best of the best recruits.

But I can’t complain, most of the time it’s all good. People get along well enough, and the few personalities that are habitually bitter seem to be aware that they tend to implode and usually hold back. But it only takes one night of setbacks, and the same few people who always get flustered when things aren’t a face roll, start in with gripes and complaints and the usual passive-aggressive comments.

Last night the fuss started up over dispelling Lady Deathspeaker’s Curse of Torpor. One person was upset over who does it and who doesn’t. Unfortunately they lost their composure and made passive aggressive comments in vent and in raid chat instead of politely approaching the other dispel people directly. The negative feelings spread to a few others; folks chiming in, posting recounts, and questioning class responsibilities and what not, and before you knew it, people were walking on eggshells desperately trying to not set off the more intolerant volatile personalities. I kept wanting to pipe up with advice and remind them that it doesn’t MATTER how many dispels they or another person had done, as long as it gets done. But I knew from past experience that trying to help defuse things would only further ignite the griping to an all-out attack if they realized they had an audience.

Maybe its just me being a grumpy 42 year-old mom, but I think if people are responsibly mature and genuinely “hardcore” they won’t behave like real life “squishies”. Instead they will focus on getting the job done and be a pleasure to have around when things get tough. If the officers wont guide us, it lands on the shoulders of the guild members to be proactive and amicably take the initiative to work out simple raid duties like dispels.

It’s a comfort reading other blogs and seeing the guild recruitment posts. They all point out that I am not alone in being dismayed over having to spend my evening around folks who display such poor coping skills. Most guilds are trying to flush out gamers who display inadequate conflict resolution. As the average gaming population ages, and WoW becomes more mainstream, things are slowly getting better. But things are still far from perfect. Even the best guilds have a few entrenched people who act like spoiled children when things get rough. Those of us that enjoy progression nights and work hard to stay focused and effective, end up dragging the grumps through the content. I figure that those kind of gamers, while undeniably talented and a seeming asset to the raid team (until you realize just how many people their griping have driven out of the guild), stubbornly stick it out on hard nights soley for the glory and the loot. It clearly doesn’t seem like they are enjoying themselves.

But I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. Plus, I recognize that everyone goes through this learning curve at some stage in their life – it takes a bit of time for humans to grow up and decide to be a positive force rather than dependent on others for their happiness and prosperity. Being professional and truly “hardcore” takes practice, and sometimes, a little advice. Here are some tips you can share with your guild when people get discouraged or angry over lack of progression:

1) Don’t add to the Din: if you are getting mad at someone or notice they are struggling with the same content – no matter how angry they make you – step back and try to decide if adding your voice to the advice they are getting will affect things positively. Sometimes too much advice or too many people coming at someone trying to help only makes things worse. Its called performance anxiety and the spotlight on another player not only magnifies any faults they may have, the extra attention can also cause more problems from the added stress.

2) The guild really isn’t as scrubby as it appears right now: If your fellow guildie is making mistakes or the raid isn’t moving though content at a normal pace that night, refrain from commenting about it in vent or raid chat during the raid. While it may seem that everyone around you is a screw-up, the fact that your guild is advanced to this stage of progression means your fellow guildies actually do have skills to do things right. Remembering that the people behind the avatars, and the voices in vent, are skilled gamers who want to kill the boss just as much as you do, helps you keep your perspective when you are frustrated.

3) Composure = respectability: If it gets bad, and you are only seeing red or can’t stop the negative thoughts, just log out. Do it politely and exit gracefully. Any good officer will understand and support you in this – especially if they see you making progress in your reactions towards others. You do yourself and the guild a HUGE favor by stopping the chain of negativity – not allowing your mind to dwell on negative things and preventing negative behavior towards others. Remember, only YOU can choose how you spend your evenings. You decide if you want to spend the night arguing and fussing and being upset, or if you wish to spend your night smiling, laughing, and having a good time being around good friends.

4) They make the big bucks, let them do the hard work: If you have a tendency to let your aggravation over the situation come through in your advice, sometimes asking an officer to intervene with constructive criticism is the best choice. In fact, that is why they are officers – they get to wear the asbestos panties. People usually don’t resent an officer pointing out their faults and helping them with their performance – but you can bet that most players don’t like it when other players attempt to do the same, no matter how good the intentions.

I hope this helps someone out there. I know I have seen many people in this game grow up emotionally over the five plus years I have been raiding. Its always a delight and a joy to be in a raid or a guild with well-behaved gamers that put effort into maintaining a positive hardcore progression environment. As in any sport or competitive hobby, expecting the best and getting excellent results doesn’t mean you gotta act like spoiled children towards each other. In fact, that sort of mature behavior is what is considered the standard for labeling people “pro’s”.

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The rise of the Great 25man Social Guilds

April 26, 2010

This post was inspired by: Still Going to Run 25s? | World of Matticus.

Blue Poster Nethaera released the a groundbreaking statement today on the forums about the future of raiding in Azeroth. Read the full thread here. A lot was said about the future structure of raiding, but the points that interested me the most are:

  • Heroic modes will all be toggled on and off per boss like we do now in ICC.
  • Ten and 25 man raids will share the same lockout period.
  • The same loot will drop of ten man bosses as drop off 25man bosses.
  • Amount (not ilevel) of gear dropped is scaled up for 25mans to compensate for more people in the raid.

While I get that this is supposed to not affect the viability of 25man raiding, I don’t really see how we can avoid human nature. Like water choosing the easiest path downhill, I can see how this news will endanger the future of 25man raiding. The news is good for the clique raiders, and the small groups of exclusive buddies and even for the lucky few who made friends on their server before the new Dungeon Finder Tool shredded the traditional way you met other gamers in your community. They will all now have their 10mans and don’t need a larger group to get their kills and their loot. But what I foresee for the rest of us that try to cling to the old way is endless 25man pugs which eventually dwindle into the ten-man snatch-and-grabs much like we see in VOA 10’s today.

i WILL heal you and you WILL like itFurthermore, I don’t know about you… But I work much harder as a healer in tens than I ever have had to do in 25’s. Unless you over gear the instance, I find many of these fights are tough for a disc priest. Combine it with “hard modes” where you have another single-target  healer like a pally and you are looking at a quick trip to the respec lady in IF if you want to keep your raid spot. Furthermore, the pace is more hectic and less enjoyable. With less room for error, and less opportunities to have a mana break or take your eyes off the screen for a nano-second if there is an emergency or whatever, I foresee a faster burnout pace than I did with the 25man raids.

Lastly, 10man raiding doesn’t have the social epic feel that the old 40mans do. Nor do they have the cool large-group of buddies feel that the 25mans do. With less reason than ever to get along with various personalities for the good of the group (and the gear drops, lets face it), its going to be the death knell for a lot of us. I know I will be less inclined to stick around in a 25man guild if there are jerks in raid and Ventrillo clowns like we put up with in 25’s. There have been plenty of times I thought about shopping for a 10man that gets the job done in half the time, but was stopped for the reason that the gear and content isn’t as cool as the 25man level stuff. And you know what? I bet each and every Raid Leader, Guild Officer, and many of us regular old raiders, etc., have had the same thought a time or two ourselves.

On the other hand, I can see how casual and social guilds will be MORE viable at 25man level. 10mans are simply harder as a result of less class diversity when you are pushing progression. There is always someone in every 25man guild that is there because we like them more than their skills. You know who I am talking about. The lovable but not as savvy players that are tucked away in the corners of our guilds. Hanging with us, BGing with us, and being awesome in guild chat, and filling in the raid spots when attendance is low. I foresee there being more room in 25man raids for this kind of player than in 10man progression guilds. Maybe Cataclysm will see the rise of the great social 25man guilds.

Waiting to see how this will pan out.

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giggle/rant/sob of the day

April 20, 2010

Reading this post about healing the Lich King fight and I come across the humorous line,

“if for some reason you still run with a group of window lickers that still don’t understand the benefits and abilities of a discipline priest, this fight alone should change their mind.”

I cant help but laugh. I mean, I cry a little too, but I am laughing. My guildies certainly don’t think they are window lickers (in fact some of them kinda have a high opinion of themselves), but there are still far too many of the influential people in this guild that honestly think they are carrying the guild disc priest. You know.. the one who is always so low low low on direct healing numbers.

It’s not like I am a bad. I do my part, I research the fights before we get to a new boss and I don’t make any more mistakes than anyone else. Plus I am a priest, I survive some crazy stuff due to my CD’s and burst healing. But because the default healing chart that comes with Recount is only for direct heals, and mitigation is a new concept to most WoW players, there are some who look at that chart or any deviation in my performance as proof I am not pulling my weight. Human psychology dictates that once a person is convinced that another is a bad at something, even if this person isn’t any better or worse than any other, the person in question must work ten times harder to disprove the erroneous opinion. Any mistake or error on their part is normally magnified ten times worse as proof of their earlier (and in this case wrong) opinion.

On the two non-disc friendly fights I keep my head above water. On BQ I float in the upper middle of the chart and on dreamwalker I just focus on tank healing, PI the Pally, and feel grateful I am not sent out of the room in shame. But in the rest of the fights my output varies from leading with as much as 44% of the overall healing to being head to head, toe to toe with the two other top healers in the guild.

But it doesn’t make for a fun evening when you are being doubted and constantly under fire. From being called out  in vent by an officer about my low healing output in Dreamwalker, to having one guild member recently flip out and Gquit during a raid after telling me that the only reason I am in this guild is that people feel sorry for me, it’s a nightly struggle to just keep my sanity over what I know I am contributing. The worst time I have of it is in my ten man group where every week I have to gently but firmly point out that whatever heroic encounter we are learning at the moment would not be better done with me as a Holy Priest. Usually posting the Heal+absorb meter quiets the demands for me to stop being a Disc Scrubb, but the ensuing comments from showing just how much further ahead my output is on the meter switches to resentful statements like “gee wish I only had to spam one button to top meters” (a resto drood said that last week) and “you can tell a healer is good based on their direct heals”,  and my personal all-time favorite, “your legendary mace is healing for you, so absorbs don’t count on the meters”. You really cant win if people don’t want to change.

All this would come to naught if it weren’t for two really awesome officers in my guild. Without these two people having my back, I probably wouldn’t have made it past the first month with this guild. They lobby constantly to educate others on how a Disc Priest heals, and always show support for me when the other officers question my abilities and direct heal numbers. And to be quite honest, not everyone feels this way. Most guildies understand that a disc priest’s most beneficial utilities to a raid wont show up on a direct heal meter, and the others trust the healing lead who advocates on my behalf.

That said, I think it’s disheartening that my two friends have to work so hard for tolerance of such a necessary raid healing class at a time in the expansion when everyone should know what the other classes can do, and show team support even if they don’t. But there you have it. People are people and they will always fuss and fidget about everything under the sun.

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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…