Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DKPs a coming...

Oh DKP - how I hate you. It's been a while, but S-a-S has finally had to implement a DKP system for Wrath raiding. We tried to avoid it as long as we could, but we're just getting too many issues with our /roll system.

Probably the biggest issue we've had with the /roll - and one we'll have anyway I'm sure - is our "Don't be a douche" rule. We kind of expect folks to know what's BIS for them, what's a real upgrade, and what would be better served in someone else's hands.

For example a retadin has an iLvl 213 and a DK has a 226 (BoH). A 232 drops - and the DK takes it. Douche move? Probably - but it's still an upgrade across the board. Same with say Pandora's Plea. BIS for a Paladin, decent trinket for any caster.

The problem with implementing a douche call is you get into Loot Council type modes. Who really should be determining which loot goes where? Even after the spirit nerf, it's still a big stat for trees and holy priests - yet warlocks gain spellpower from it as well. It's some tough calls.

So why I don't think DKP will solve this issue per-se, it will give folks the option of bidding big for an item they really want, and taking their chances with the RNG if it's an upgrade but not something they lust for.

Shroud DKP

Until WoWInsider, Blessing of Kings, and UnbearablyHOT covered this DKP system, I'd never heard of it. I like it a lot (in theory) - and am looking forward to using it in game - well, as much as you can look forward to any DKP system. It has built in controls for DKP bloat, allows raiders some measure of control for when they bid big, and seems fairly easy to implement.

I do wish we could run the loot on a pure /roll system, with no need to track who's won what, who should be passing, etc (like we do in our 10s), but there's always that one POS who rolls on everything, gets 20 pieces in one night, then disappears until the next content patch.

Here's hoping.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kids these days

OK - I don't want to rant for the next few minutes about gear and how easy things are in WoW today vs. Vanilla, but I do want to focus on some of the changes - and why I get so upset at a lack of effort by raiders today.

Vanilla WoW

Gear was tough to come by in Vanilla. Our Dungeon sets were eight pieces, and scattered across the whole of Azeroth. Rivendare had a habit of refusing to drop whatever leg pieces you needed, and of course you had to contend with feral druids rolling on your rogue gear.

Your only available upgrade was to travel to Molten Core, until the upgrade quest line came out for the Dungeon .5 sets which involved a ton of grinding, harder to come by money, and the 45 minute Baron run. If the RNG didn't love you though, you'd never be able to even get this far, as you'd be missing a piece of your eight from one of the final bosses in Scholo/Strat.

Molten Core was worse, with 40 raiders to compete with, and tier pieces being tied to individual classes. This was really awesome when they added Shaman/Paladin loot to the opposing factions loot tables. Nothing like killing Ragnaros as Alliance and getting Shaman T2 legs.

BWL was just as bad, with filler gear from ZG and AQ20 potentially filling the slots. Rep grinds were long and arduous (there were no tabards or daily quests), and involved months of raiding or token collecting (Bijous anyone?) to reach your rep goals. I still remember wondering why some mage in my raid (that I'd never heard of) was wearing BRD shoulders...

Burning Crusade

Faction rewards, Badges of Honor, and tier tokens helped alleviate some of the strain on acquiring gear. Rep grinds were still required, and resulted in running heroic and lvl 80 dungeons until your eyes bled - but at least you had options for gear.

When the Sunwell was released, there was even more end game level gear available, helping to close the gap between raiders and non-raiders. Coupled with PvP and Arena gear, you were able to build a decent set of gear without ever setting foot in a raid beyond Karazhan.

Wrath and 3.2

Badges, tier tokens, and free loot - OH MY! Faction tabards that allow you to grind rep regardless of the dungeon. Tier 8.5 being available (in 3.2) for badges farmed from heroics. Purchasable rep for your shoulder enchants. So much gear is available now that the difference (in gear levels) between the casual/socail palyer and the raiders will be almost indistinguishable.

Now, this isn't a problem - in fact it's a good thing. It's certainly easier to fill the ranks with geared players when they aren't two and three levels behind in gear. There is one thing that makes it difficult however.

They don't have the skills to pay the bills.

Raiders from Vanilla WoW aren't tougher - we're just more experienced. Content is easier for us because we've been conquering it for years. If anything the bosses are tougher in strategy, if easier overall, compared to what we used to have. How much decursing was reqired on Lucifron? Resistance fights for Ragnaros and Hydross? All of these things combine to make us smarter raiders.

This issue shines from things as simple as a request for a WWS/Screenshot (instructions provided in the application process), to the inability to avoid Flash Freezes. We have a DK that does AMAZING damage - but he can't avoid a Freeze to save his life. His net value to me is near zero in this instance.


I love raiding, and I love the feeling of downing new content - and the achievements help keep it fresh - but for the love of Pete please learn to not stand in fire and follow directions.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Goat Rope

Back in Vanilla WoW there was a lot of argument about Horde vs Alliance progression, as racials and classes played a large part in some of the boss fights. Horde had Shamans (WF Totems! Tremor Totems!), and Alliance had Paladins (BoK and BoS!). Alliance had the Dwarves handing out Fear Ward, Horde had to depend on the 5 second pulse of Tremor Totem.

These rants carried over to Battlegrounds as well - "WotF is OP!" "NERF THUNDERSTOMP", and even now I don't know a caster who wishes the Blood Elves had never gotten Arcane Torrent.

Raid stacking FTL

In BC we had to make sure our shamans and mana batteries were spred out evenly around the raid. Buffs were party centric, and not stacking your raid right could result in significant DPS loss - plus a healthy dose of QQing from anyone who felt they deserved that one spriest over another group.

Fortunately most of this changed in WotLK when buffs became raid wide. Healers and casters rejoiced as replenishment filled their mana bars, and no longer was the perfect melee group warrior, rogue, retadin, shaman, feral.

Unfortunately, there are a few buffs that remain party only, and one of them is a major crutch for the Alliance. I'm talking about the Draeni +hit bonus, which gives everyone in the party a 1% increased chance to hit - and I believe has a nearly unlimited range (100yds or something). This has led to many raiders gearing up for 7% hit instead of 8%, and has led to constant raid shuffling.

Me: "OK, who needs a goat"
Fifteen raiders sound off.
/looks at roster and sees 3 goats.
Me: "Ok, 8 people get goats because we're keeping Mana Tide with the healers - who can hit the cap with a gear/food change"


Maybe I'm wrong here. Maybe the thought of gearing as if you wouldn't have the hit buff is wrong. I mean, what do you do if you're in a five or ten man and you don't have that buff? I hope you've got some Snapper Extreme in your bags. Personally, I consider not being able to hit the cap on your own to be unacceptable. If you get the buff, great - if not, don't be a hindrance to your raid.

I've even got players refusing to take upgrades because the item has hit on it. "I don't need it, I'm capped. With a goat". I hate them all. Maybe that's why I'm the healing lead and not the DPS lead, I'd hit them all in the head with my goat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some beef with Ulduar

As it sits right now, my 10 man group is one kill away from the Champion of Ulduar achievment - which while significantly easier than Undying or Immortal - still poses a problem.

See right now we're working on three things in 10s. Server first Algalon, server first Firefighter (which leads to Algalon), and server first Rusted Proto-Drakes. The problem is, we can't do both at the same time. In order to complete Glory of the Ulduar Raider, we have to work on One Light in the Darkness. Now, while we 'could' in theory one shot that event with nobody dying, I don't think that's going to happen. Because we can't send keepers back up however, we can't take our shot at a flawless kill - and then work on the rest after.

I think this is why I like the new 4 lockouts available for the upcoming raids. You can get your feet wet and learn the bosses on the normal lockout, then get your game on in the heroic. Folks might get burnt out faster - I don't know. I'm pretty sure that those I raid with won't though.

My biggest concern is that they'll be dragging my healing butt through heroics and Naxx on their alts for badges. I seem to be disconnecting......

Monday, June 22, 2009

Environmental Damage and You

I hate Naxx. Not because it was recyled, not because I can't seem to find that PuG group that can master Thaddius, or the one that thinks we don't need a deenrage for Gluth (Heal harder noob! /cry). No. I hate it because it made stupid raiders.

Naxx was supposed to get you ready for the next level of content, and in a way, I suppose it kind of did that. You started off with easy bosses, working your way up (lol@Loatheb) to harder ones, until you finally faced Saph and KT. The problem was, Saph's AoE was a joke, and KT let you lean on your healers. For example I never moved from Sapph's AoE, not once. I'd slap on my three pieces of frost gear, beacon myself, and then go crazy on the tank. It worked, and we were successful.

The problem is, our healing was so good that everyone else could do it too. Maybe we had too many healers - but unless you missed the insta-gib frost nuke, you'd live. KT's iceblock was the same way. I'd see three or four melee get chained, and maybe one would die....maybe. The only insta-gib was the shadow fissure, and there weren't a lot of those.

Sarth 3D upped the ante to some degree with this, but most guilds never attempted this encounter (at least on my server it seems). Hell, we still don't have a 10 man 3D kill on our server. At least here though there were dire consequences for missing out on environmental damage. Failure to react properly resulted in death, and generally losing one or two key players would result in a wipe.

Jump to 3.1

Hellooooo Nurse! We've got fire, ice, lighting. We've got one shot ice, laserbeams from the sky, rockets, and pulsing AoE like nobody's business. And nobody is trained to move from it.

Here's a few gems from our last raids that really drive the point home.
Me: "You going to stand in that light beam until it kills you? Guess so"
Dead Raider: "Sorry, wasn't paying attention"

Raider that kills others: "I'd rather hit a mine than die from the overload" (phase 2, she eats a laser in the face - gg)

These are the kinds of things I'm talking about. In Naxx, and to some extent the easy modes of Ulduar, you can brute force your way through encounters. Take the mine incident. Yes. In this situation she didn't die, and that's great. Hard mode and we'd be scraping her up. How can I trust that she's going to do the right thing when we're working on the next level of content or hard mode?

If you stand in lightbeams from heaven, or eat Thorim's lightning bursts, how can I count on you to avoid rocket strikes and shadow crashes?

For all my guildmates who read this - and everyone else - I hope the following list helps you out.

Flame Leviathan - Unless you're the Siege Engine, don't be near it. Definitely don't be in front of him, you're just asking to get rickrolled.

Razer - See that blue fire on the ground? Stay out of it. Yes - you will get hit with fire, but when DBM is barking at you, it's a clue you should move.

Ignis - You can dance if you want to, but don't do it on the big patches of scorched earth. Remember you can still cast while in the slag pot.

XT - Range check is your friend, especially on hard mode. Don't drop a shadow fissure on your friends, and if you've got a light-bomb on you, and you aren't melee, you probably shouldn't move. I love watching a caster run Left to Right all the way through the raid "look out, you missed someone!"

Assembly of Iron (IC) - Death and Decay (big green circle on the floor), and giant lightning tendrils. Other than that, you're probably fine.

Kologarn - Lord have mercy, there's no environmental here that you can avoid. Except for the exploding elementals that is.

Cat Lady - Don't kill the guardian in the raid, and you shouldn't have to worry about the shadow fissure. Of course this means you have to stop your AMFGDPS long enough for the DK to grip it out....

Hodir - Jump around, jump around...or at least find a cozy fire. Make sure you stand ON the giant snow mounds during the deep freeze. Use your self heals (pots, stones, etc) during his frozen blows.

Thorim - See those beads of lightning on the ground? That's the center of a 45 degree arc of lightning. Move out of it. Also, stay more than eight yards away from your neighbor, or you risk chaining lightning onto him. By the way, if FB says you fail at lightning, you really do. Hard Mode - stay out of the blizzard too. Yes we can heal through it at the start, but once the tanks are taking instagib type damage, you're going to die.

Freya - Roots (you can break them yourself), ground tremors (/stopcasting), and beams of light make this fun for the whole family. Don't kill your friends with Nature's Fury, and don't stand on exploding green balls in phase two. Bonus points if you don't kill your healers by killing lashers in quick succession on them.

Mimiron - Oh my. Don't stand in front of his big guns in P2 and P4. Run out of the overload WITHOUT hitting mines in P1 and P4. Rockets in flight, afternoon delight! Yeah - move from that red circle on the ground in P2 and P4 as well. Oh, and watch the bomb bots in P3. Hard mode you're on your own. If you're ready for Firefighter, you're not going to get much from this post.

Vezack - Stay out of the shadow crashes fool. JoL is getting nerfed (from the ret paladins anyway), so it'll take longer to heal yourself up. Don't risk it.

Yogg-Saron - Stay out of the clouds. It's not environmental, but I'm going to yell at you anyway.

Tonight - repeat on Yogg if we can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

3.2 Holy Changes

Chicken Little is having a field day on the forums right now I'm sure. I just poked my nose on the healing forums (I haven't braved the Paladin ones yet) and cries of "The sky is falling!" are worse than they were for 3.1 (if that's even possible).

Note - these are PTR notes and who knows how they'll change between now and live.

Right now I'm going to focus on some of the Holy Paladin changes, a few cross spec changes, and then look at how this will dovetail with the other healers in the raid.

Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.

This. Is. Huge. This is a definate boon for leveling paladins who are trying to heal through their first dungeons/heroics, as well as to raiding paladins. It really sucks when your heal target is topped off by someone else, and the healing that needs to hit your beaconed target is wasted - leaving you further behind. While HL spam is going to take a hit, when you couple this change with the HL glyph and the changes to JoL, we've got some nice raid healing going on.

Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.

This is going to hurt some. With the way it scales with BoK, we're going to lose a nice chunk of mana/crit/SP, and there's no way to look at this other than a straight nerf. I'm not excited about it, but it's not the end of the world either. My only concern is that with the nerf to Illumination and to Replenishment, that this will be a double hit and may be too much. The sky isn't falling yet though.

Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.

Ugh. While I wasn't healing on my paladin (heck, I didn't even have one back then) when the first Illumination nerf came out - I can't say I'm surprised by this. One of my first blog posts was about how mp5 was going to make a comeback, and this is one way to force it on us.

With this change - assuming no Glyph of the Wise, 4pc 7.5, or Libram - our HL will now cost us 892 mana per crit (715 per crit with the above) - up from 333. This change, coupled with the change to SS and FoL (below) is an obvious push for us to use HL as the big nuke it was in BC, with FoL becoming our go to heal.

Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal-over-time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.

I love this change. I've already started going to a FoL/HS setup as my off-spec, using a 51/20 build and the 4pc T8. This change will allow me to Beacon/SS the MT, tap the raid around me, and then put a FoL HoT on the MT again every few seconds. Running Glyph of Light, Glyph of Holy Shock, and Glyph of Flash of Light should see some good returns.

Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.

Basically another HoS use, though probably not on every attempt given the 11 min (talented and glyphed) CD.

Judgement of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.

This is a total red-herring, I actually laughed when I did the math on this. All I see across the forums is how OP this will be, when in reality it's a straight nerf to Ret/Prot paladins. Right now it's better for Retadins to apply JoL since it will tick for about double what a Holy paladin's will (8-900 vs 3-400). All this does is bring it in line with what Holy Paladins are getting, and keeps it from running out of control as Retadins get more AP/SP with gear.


Nerfed from .025%/sec to 1%/5sec. This falls in line with the desire to add a straight mp5 buff, though it's still an overall 20% nerf to the talent. From the looks of things, many classes/builds are getting some other form of mana return to balance this out. I won't stand up and say this is aimed at Holy Paladins directly, but it kind of feels like it. Again, we'll have to see - and again, it may be a double whack with the change to Divine Intellect.


The writing was on the wall for this one - though I don't think it will be enough for us. All mp5 on gear will be increased by 25%. Woohoo! Now the 19mp5 on my gloves is almost 24! Look out baby...

Something Shiney
Potion Injectors now increase the amount gained by 25% when used by engineers. Quantity produced by recipes for Runic Healing and Mana Injectors has been increased.

I'm sure it won't, but it'd be pretty amazing if this stacked with an Alchemist's stone.

So what do I think?

I think these changes might be a little over the top, but I have faith (yeah, I know) that they'll be pulled in line by the time the PTR goes live, or at least they'll be tweaked fairly soon.

One thing is that I'm already healing the way they seem to want us to - running a high FoL/HS rotation as opposed to pure HL dumping (when I can). This seems to work best when there's two Healadins on one target. I guess you can say I'm skeptical, but I'm not burning GC in effigy yet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Applicants - how I love thee

The Big Bear had a long post today about politeness, and how his guild isn't a raid guild by any stretch of the imagination. They run kind of ad hoc, and focus more on having fun than raiding. Personally I think raiding is fun - but that's one of the things that makes this game awesome, there's something for everyone.

With the summertime draw down, we've gotten quite a few new applicants lately - especially with the recent implosion of one of the other raid guilds on our servers. I know this is something I touched on briefly in the past - but I wanted to expand on it today simply because it drives me insane.

We Raid - Full Stop

Our guild isn't called 'Hello Kitty Happy Fun Time' for a reason - we raid hard and we raid smart. We're not as hardcore as we could be, but given the server we're on, and the amount of time we're willing to put into it, we're somewhere in the upper 20% or so of serious. We're in the top 1500 (yeah, it sounds lame when you actually read it) US guilds in terms of progression in both 10s and 25s (damn 3D 10s...) - and we're down to just Mimiron before we can see Algalon in our 10s.

Raid spots aren't guaranteed for anyone - though we do have our 'core' raiders who have been with us from the start. Recruits are told they may never see a raid, or they may find themselves thrust into "I Choose You Steelbreaker" on their first night. We don't set 10 man groups - they just kind of form. You're on your own for getting in one or starting one.

Why do I mention this? Because we've gotten a few quits recently for the following reasons. Not getting into raids, not enough social activities, and no pre 3.1 stuff (Naxx, Sarth, Malygos). Really? Did you not read the application form? Did you not get 'The Talk' from an officer when you joined?

To those that left, I wish you the best of luck. Same to those that quit raiding with us.

Learn to /who

As an officer of S-a-S, I get my fair share of whispers regarding applications, openings, recruitment, etc. Now I'm not the most social person in the game, another of our officers is a damn social butterfly, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out who an officer is in a guild.

So then why can't they extend that thought process out to doing a /who before sending me a tell? A week or so ago we had a hellacious Saturday raid. We had 10 man Uld, Sarth 3D 10, and then 25 man Ulduar. I think I spent 8 or maybe 10 hours in raid zones that day. Sometime around hour 6 I was suddenly assaulted by three different applicants (did they coordinate?) asking about applications that had been submitted.....wait for it....THAT MORNING.

That's right - it's Saturday night, and they want to know why it's been 12 hours and they haven't gotten an invite yet. Are you kidding me? One at least said (towards the end) "I would have waited, but you've been in a raid all day" - which means this person had been essentially stalking me all day before bothering me in the raid.

Let's be honest - there's very little in this game that requires your immediate attention, hell even RL doesn't have these constraints. Would you call a potential employer knowing he was in a meeting? Fuck no you wouldn't. Send me an in game mail, or a private message on the boards. You're an applicant, and if you're bothering me the same day you applied, you've just lost what few points you might get from a good app.

Right along with this is the person who sends you a tell while you're in a raid/dungeon asking you to join their run. As we were about to pull Freya+++ last week (on what would be our first Freya+++ kill) I actually was asked if I'd come heal H HoL. Uh - yeah, let me just drop this raid first you inconsiderate prick. That's a good way to get ignored in my book.


Know what you're getting into - don't expect a guild to change just because your needs aren't being met - and quit sending me tells when I'm raiding.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How to not get healed

I have an ego. No, it's true, I have one - and there are days when it's big enough that Malygos's chamber couldn't hold it. On other days it's smaller than that urn you use to summon Nightbane. Fortunately, it generally floats somewhere between the two, in a healthy medium of confidence and fear.

Most of this ego comes from my days of tanking, when I was fortunate enough to have some amazing healers at my back, and learning more than one lesson the hard way. Because of this though, I have a healthy respect for the healer/tank relationship - and I understand where the DPS fits in this psycho family as well.

Situational Awareness

It came as a great shock to me, though I should have known better, that many players (especially DPS) don't run with tank/healer frames - much less all raid frames. I personally don't understand it, though I suppose it lets them DPS in ignorance. They wander aimlessly around the encounter, out of range for heals, and then wonder why they've died.

There's also the DPS that even after what, five months in Naxx, still haven't figured out that the Death Knights in the military wing have giant cleaves? I had the (dis)pleasure of running with an arms warrior in my last Naxx (Damn you TT for not dropping again) who quickly moved down my priority list for heals.

Where you rank

Let's be honest, we're not all equals, especially in raids. My job is to heal the tank - anything else is a pure bonus. My healing order is generally MT>OT>Me>Other healers>DPS>Pets>Dumb DPS. That's right, I'll heal that pet named "Cat" before I'll heal your cleave eating self - providing the hunter isn't part of the Dumb DPS group.

There are several ways to move yourself up/down the list however (Jong at Forebearance has a post touching this as well), and I'll give you the quick run down of the Minus and Plus tips.

1) (Minus) Don't call for healing. Ever. Doubly so for hybrids who have heals available to them. Especially if you're a tank. Calling out "Joetank needs heals" is pretty dumb. You're the tank - of course you need heals. By the time your brain has registered that you have low HP, you say it on vent, it gets to me, I register it, then cast...you're either dead or you've just irritated your whole healing team. ***Exception - if you're picking up adds and will be taking a world of damage, call out you're picking up adds - that's what we need, and that's because we're not going to get a break.

2) (Minus) Don't call for cleansing. Again, our raid frames show it. You're either out of range, or have been triaged down for healing or someone who follows the plus rules.

3) (Double Minus) Don't get lippy about heals after you've died to something dumb. Whoever that Arms warrior was who kept lipping off "WTB Heals" after dying to cleaves - guess how many more heals that guy got from any of us? (As poetic justice - he died in the very first Shadow Fissure on KT).

4) (Minus) Don't post the DPS meters in raid/party. We didn't get to participate in them, and you're just stroking yourself. Maybe next time we'll take pity on the guy in 3rd and just let you spend some extra time looking at the floor.

5) (Plus) Thank your healers, and compliment them on a job well done. Clutch heal saved you a repair bill? Smooth run overall? Give your healer a quick pat on the back and he'll remember you next time.

6) (Plus) Don't. Stand. In. Fire. Can't say it enough, yet to this day, you see people standing in fire/poison/ice/shadow. When was the last time standing in a pool of inky death was a good thing? Other than Hodir, when is hugging someone shooting lightning out of their eyes beneficial? Yeah - quit standing in the poison in AN too you idiot. I'll let you die just so the bear can t-bag you.

7) (Plus) Watch the CC breaking. If you're not the tank, and you're breaking CC, I'm going to let that punch to your face bleed a while before I heal you up.

8) (Plus) Know the healing classes. Here's a tip, from MT to Raid healing, your best options are....Paladin, Disc, Tree, Shaman, Holy. Don't put your Holy priest on the MT and your Paladin on the raid. Sure, they can do it - but if they aren't smart enough to switch on their own, they'll silently hate you forever.

9) (Plus) Help us help you. Use the lightwell. Use your healthstones. Burn a GCD to toss an instant heal on yourself. Stay. In. Range. We understand it might lower your personal DPS, but we have limited GCDs too you know.

10) (Plus) Be helpful. Don't bitch when you're asked to cleanse, bubble/HoS, BR, or whatever. Do it and get back in the rotation. We'll remember it later.


Bottom line is don't be the stereotypical dumb DPS that we all curse about in PUGs. Remember that your healers are generally doing their best, and only occasionally 'let' you die.

A weekend of firsts - and the nerfbat

Our 25 man group finally knocked Yogg over this weekend, and it was a bittersweet victory to be sure. Now don't get me wrong, the fight is still complicated, and it's easy to wipe at 5% when you have a tank DC and the Immortals start eating your melee, but the victory was almost cheapened by the recent nerf.

Up to this point, we'd managed to sneak past every boss the week before they were whacked with a nerfbat. Everyone in the guild knew that a nerf was coming to Yogg, the only question was - when? I'm not 100% certain of course, but I had a pretty good feeling that we would have gotten him this reset regardless. Now we'll never know.

10 man progression

The 10 man I run with is smoking along nicely, though the dice gods have forsaken me and I still haven't won the quest item off IC yet. We're down to just Mimiron now (to unlock Algalon), and I suspect that will be the major focus of our attention. Once we're able to get our hour a week on Algalon, we'll start polishing off our remaining undying and rusted drake requirements.

Oh, and Sarth 3D is still on our radar. I'd love to get that knocked out, since it's still a nagging tooth from pre 3.1.

Don't nerf me bro!

Nerfs happen, it's the nature of the game. Everyone wants to be unkillable and have the ability to destroy opponents in 2 CDs, and nobody wants to be the guy begging for a raid slot (early BC Ret pally comes to mind). I imagine bosses are the same way though.

Ghostcrawler: So Yoggy baby, we've noticed that you're proving to be a bit too tough for a disproportionate number of guilds out there. We're going to try and tune you down just a touch.

Yogg-Saron: Get them off me!

G: Easy there big boy. Just because you're on a RP realm doesn't mean you have to be in character all the time.

Y-S: Sorry. Habit and all that. But really, why am I getting nerfed?

G: Technically we're not going to nerfy "you", we're just going to make a small change to your minions.

Y-S: Oh this should be rich. They already damage me when they die nearby, what's next - they kill me from across the room?

G: No, no - players will still have to navigate the clouds, and we're actually going to increase the speed thy move at (p.s. - Onyxia deep breaths more). What we're going to do is remove the Mind Control aspect in phase 1.

Y-S: WTF! I'm an OLD GOD - I managed to manipulate the bloody Titans - and you're telling me my minions can't change the actions of a few paltry adventurers? This is bullshit.

G: Hey, calm down or I'm going to have to lock this thread.

Y-S: Alright, sorry. At least I can still get some extra adds when Hodir muddles about and freezes someone in a cloud.

G: Actually...

See, now that would be funny. Of course the other bosses would all have to step in and remind Yogg that he's OP, and that they need buffs as bosses because they're too easy. I bet Void Reaver made that post a lot.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dear applicants

Over the last few days I've spent a bit of time reworking our application process, to include some clarification and instruction. I've even gone so far as to post instructions on how to complete some of the more 'difficult' parts of our application (posting a WWS and a screenshot of their UI in combat) which are regularly left blank. There's also a reading comprehension test though, and I think that will be the big catcher.

Why we ask

I'm sure this will turn into some kind of applicant FAQ on our site, but here I'll once again explain why it is that we ask the questions we do, and why they are important.

This should be fairly straight-forward. If you can't remember your own alt-code though (like È is 0200) you should probably look that up instead of saying "My name is Ed, but the E has one of those thingys over it". In his defense, Ed didn't do that, it's just a short name that I happen to know the alt code of.

How long have you been your current class/spec?
We want to know what kind of experiences you've had with your toon. If you tell me you were Holy in BC, but switched to ret pre-Illumination nerf, and are now trying for Holy again, you may be in for a shock. Plus even though my Paladin is Holy/Ret - I know way more about healing that retadin'ing.

What are your goals, progression wise, for a guild that you join?
We are a 25 man guild. If you're goal is to see 10 man farm content, or get your alts some hot gear - this probably isn't the place for you. If however you're willing to spend all night wiping on hard mode bosses so you can chase some server firsts..then let's talk.

What do you expect out of a guild and its officers?
Honesty is important here - but really, don't kiss our asses. We've been doing this way too long, and can smell your bullshit. Short, sweet, and to the point is the way to go here.

What should a guild and its officers expect out of you as a member?
This is your moment - right here, right now. Tell me why I want you over the 45 other DKs that applied for our melee DPS opening.

We raid on Saturday (5-10pm server), Monday, Tuesday (6:30-9:30ish server) and cover a lot of content in those three days. Will you be able to make the majority of those raids without scheduling conflicts (at least 85%)?
Here you go short answer guys - the one answer that really all we want is a yes or no. If you can, great. If you can't - some explanation will help. We all know RL > WoW - so saying "Unless something comes up" is kind of dumb. Trust me, I mock every applicant that does this.

Although gear is not normally an issue to an extent, please include your armory link (this is mandatory).
We're going to look you up no matter what. Making us chase it down will just piss me off. Bonus points if you include a link to both the Armory and to something else, like wow-heroes. Minus points if your link is broken.

How many badges of Heroism have you earned total on the character you are applying on?:
This question also (now) includes Valor and Conquest. We don't care if you have 875,000 badges between all your toons across the servers - we care about this one particular one. Guesses don't count - we know how to find the actual number. You should too.

Please list your current guild, as well as any guild you have been a member of.
We mean all guilds. Again, we have ways of checking. Don't be stupid and tell me you were a member of Ensidia - I mean, I know the game changes, but they still don't allow EU-US transfers - much less Horde-Alliance. We're going to follow up and do our research, and we're going to call you on gaping holes in your timeline. Having an answer up front will be better.

Why did you choose to leave these previous guilds?
Another non-optional question, and we're going to follow up. Generic open ended answers just make our bullshit detectors tingle, and make it more likely that we're going to probe further. Also, telling us to "ask in game" pisses us off too. We're going to either record or screenshot your interview anyway - might as well put it on 'paper' now.

The next three questions are more "tell us about you" types. Asking if you're easily offended, what kind of music you would want on an island, and if you're a sinner or saint is more about giving you an opportunity to tell us about you. We know there's a person behind that keyboard, share a little.

The last three questions are the ones that are non-negotiable. Failure to answer any of the three will get the appliction of Jesus himself rejected.

Please link a W.W.S. report where you are performing the role you have applied for. (Required)
Maybe it's the 'please' that throws people off. We're not asking, we're telling. There's instructions in the applications forum thread on how to do this. We don't need a WWS from a 2 hour 3 healer Naxx clear, any WotLK heroic will work. This question let's us get a sneak peek at you - and shows us that you're willing to follow directions to accomplish a goal.

Please link a screenshot of your U.I. during combat. (Required)
I don't care if you think it's stupid or not necessary. I want to see what you see in combat. Do you have DBM/BigWigs running? Is Omen out? Is recount the center of your screen? Again, detailed instructions in the Applications thread for your viewing.

Finally the Test - one question that is based on the "Read this before applying" post on our forums. Missing this one means you're pretty much an idiot.

This process isn't for my benefit. Do it or don't, but don't come asking for an explanation of why you didn't get a ginvite when you can't be bothered to fill out an application.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unexpected downtime

Back when we first started raiding, we made a decision to never raid on Tuesday nights - there was always a risk of a bad maintenance day. Somewhere along the line (when Ulduar was coming out) we got away from this rule and added Tuesday to our Sat/Mon lineup.

Last night we got bit.

Our battlegroup was down for emergency extended maintenance for about 3 or 4 hours. Go us. A lot of us messed around with alts on another server, but at the end we had to cancel our raid in favor of another night. Who knew it'd be this big a challenge to reschedule.

It seems our raiders really do have lives after all, since we can't get a good consensus on when the best night to raid would be. People have scheduled work/Significant Others/family, etc around these days. It's pretty unfair of us to expect them to change at the last minute, especially when we try and run a loose ship anyway.

So now we're going in on Friday (canceling our 10 mans) since it seems to work best for those involved. With any luck we'll have enough of our core raiders on to at least clear the early content, and maybe we'll be able to try out some new recruits at the same time. Who knows - this might just work out for the best in the long run.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On summertime swings

Last night was another fine example of the summertime swing we see in WoW. The game certainly does have it's ebb and flow of high and low times - and summer is definately a mix of both. More kids are out of school, but summer vacations and jobs for the college kids take over. It's nice out, and physical fitness drives us outdoors (not a bad thing). Families change, priorities shift, and then....you get the dumbs.

A good break

My best friend retired from raiding this week. It's not uncommon, as we've both taken our breaks over the years, and I'm glad he's gotten better at realizing when he needs a break. Guy has a new baby in his life, a wife who's far from home (I think she's imported from a small third world country - some call it Georgia), and he's looking at deployment to a place where they shoot at you for real. So Mini if you're reading this - I don't think you're flaky bud. Just realize that I'm going to teach your boy to light his farts before you get home - I don't care that he's not even a year old yet.

The regular breaks

Another of our top DPSers has gone for the summer. It's nothing new, happens every year in fact, but it still sucks to have this gaping hole in our roster. On larger servers this wouldn't be an issue, but on a small server it's sometimes tougher to fill that gap. Of course we wouldn't be in the position we're in now if we were on a larger server - so it's a mixed blessing.

Another of our top DPS is leaving for a month. A starting healer is out for three weeks. This list continues, but these are regularly expected breaks from the game. The ones I can't stand are...

The dumbs

These are the jokers who either ragequit, or who milk all the gear they can and then log on one day to say they're leaving for Hello Kitty or something. From a personal standpoint, it's their time, if they aren't having fun then they should move on. It's the fact that they don't seem to respect that there are 9/24 other people who are left holding the bag, and that there are real people who they play with.

Finally - the casuals

There's a lot of discussion on the web these days about what a 'casual' really is. As much as some of his posts are off base, Gevolon (Greedy Goblin) makes a good post here about the real difference. Our guild has lot's of casual players. OK, a dozen or so. These are players that could step into our 25s (and many have been key players for a while) and do quite well, yet choose to not raid - or only do 10s.

I think these guys are great. They certainly provide a more social aspect to our guild, and provide a wider base from which to draw for PvP, 5 mans, PuG raids, etc. I know many of the core progression raid team is only online to raid and occasionally farm up some cash or mats for consumables. This means that the 10 or so who play all the time need a family to hang out with - and these guys are it. Plus they've been willing to fill in a 25 slot in a pinch.

To be clear, I have no room for dumb people in our raids, and being dumb does not a casual make. I'll accept accidents or learning curves. Last night a recruit got caught in a tentacle on Yogg. Now he'd been with us for a whopping two raids, and I think we'd seen Phase 2 clean maybe 3 times. He got caught, and didn't realize he could keep casting - so he died. Guess what though - he didn't make that mistake again, and that is perfectly fine. It's when you see the same mistakes over and over from the same person that drives me crazy.


We'll get through this phase like we do every year. I really want the server first Yogg and Algalon kills though...and my mace...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Arena fun

So this week my 3s team managed to eek out a 1450 rating (yeah, I know) with a rogue, boomkin, and me healing. We had been going with a full DPS crew, but as we've gotten higher I've started healing.

Originally I was using the 51/20 healing spec, giving me a little more survivability and access to Divine Sacrifice. After a bit I moved to a 19/52 build for the silence off Avenger's Shield, survivability, and a 20sec HoJ. I found the spec to be decent, but it's lacking a few things.

1) I don't have all the requisite PvP gear yet. I'm still running in PvE rings, helm, bracers, and cloak.

2) I miss Holy Shock.

3) I don't think Redoubt and Holy Shield work while casting.

4) I miss the 40yd judgement.

5) I have no clue what seal I should be running, or if it even matters. I usually run Wisdom or Justice - figuring mana never hurts, and if I get a stun on a lucky hit - then so much the better.

I thought about Sheathadin for the instant heals from AoW, but the healing in Arenas seems to be too spammy for that to be effective. The HoTs ticking from SoL would be nice though....

I will say that healing in Arenas is a far cry from running around with my Stunhearald screaming "BOF! BOF!" at my paladin healer. How he must have hated me...wait, I know how much he hated me. He told me on a match by match basis, and reminds me of it to this day.

Fortunately with SS and high crits on FoL (I was seeing 9k the other night) it's really not that bad, as long as they stay in range. I'm working on getting my BoP (err - HoP, but still) and Freedom's worked in faster. I think distract is OP - if taunt can't change my target, neither should distract.

Overall I like the pace of 3s right now (yes, I know 1450 isn't high - leave me alone) and I've found PvP to be a nice little change from PvE. Even if I am still healing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lessons I've learned the hard way

Over my term in WoW I've filled the role of MT/Raid Lead, raid/MT Healer, and melee DPS. I dabbled a few times with ranged DPS, but I never quite got into it. From MC to Ulduar, with all the raids in between - there's a few lessons I've had to learn the hard way. So in no particular order - I give you WoW's lessons from the streets.

Don't outpace your healers.

Chain pulling is all well and good, but your healers are quick to let you know when you've overstepped your bounds. It may be a simple request for mana, or letting you dip a bit - or it can go so far as to warning the OT that you're about to die. Also, don't leave them behind by charging in at the mob. God (Chris Metzan) gave you a ranged pull or mis-direct for a reason. Use it.

LoS is serious business.

I will never forget (partially because the healer won't let me) the 3v3 Arena match where I learned this lesson so well. It was in the Nagrand Arena (I think - the one with the 4 pillars) and it was our pally/mage/war combo (I was the war) against two trinket/PoM mages and something else. I just remember charging at the mage, getting pillar humped, and hearing Toby cry 'NOOOOOOOO' as I ate two trinketed pyro-blasts and was insta-gibbed. Toby and Frog managed to pull that one off somehow - but I spent a lot of time looking at the floor.

Nobody really means it when they say stand in the fire, except of course when they really do.

During an attempt to teach SSC to a former guild, we were clearing out to Leo. I saw numerous raid members standing in the rain of fire - taking significant ammounts of damage. I piped up on vent - "Don't bother moving out of the fire - the healers need the practice". One hunter was ballsy enough to actually ask 'Really?' - he claims he was being asked by other raiders, I think he was just being dumb (<3 to you Chris). I let him have both barrels on vent. It was pretty funny.

Of course when a wipe is called, we really DO want you to stand in the fire. Yeah, it's confusing if you're three. Deal with it.

Pugs make you better.

Really. Think running heroics is too easy with your normal crew? Hop in LFG and heal/tank/dps the first thing that comes along. I guarantee you'll use more cooldowns than you have in a month, and you'll finally find a use for the poultrygizer.

Stealing this one from Tobias - like your job.

Dude told me today - if I've taught you nothing else, I hope I taught you that you have to love your job. Because nothing is sweeter than pulling off a near wipe and having the tanks let you know they felt it. You have to be humble of course - but you know what saved the day.

Triage counts.

Remember that quest on Theramore where you have to bandage the wounded soldiers before they die? That's raid healing - and knowing that someone is going to have to bite the big one on a given pull is just part of the game. It's ok to let someone die. Especially if they are Nickleback fans.

Finally - Have a DPSer somewhere.

Doesn't matter what server, class, or spec. Have a face melter in the shadows that you can decompress with. Nothing helps relieve the tension of a night of wipes like smashing faces in PvP/Arenas. Just don't take it too serious.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Learning to heal again

This last weekend I had a complete clusterfuck of an internet outage. Between pulling up fiber, capping the wrong person's access point, and a bunch of tom-foolery on the part of my cable company - I wound up missing night two of my 10 man, and almost missing night two of our 25 man Ulduar.

What I did have was a wireless modem that was supposed to give me 2.0 Mbps of full duplex connection (2.0 up and down) - which is at least satisfactory. I usually play on a 3.0 down and 1.5 up connection - so I figured it'd be alright.


I don't know if it was because the connection was wireless, if it was shared bandwidth, or what - but I spent the night trying to heal while bouncing between 800 and 3000 ping - and close to 15fps. I normally run 150ms with 60fps - even during the most intense Naxx AoE fests. Now though I was struggling to land any kind of efficient heal, and I was afraid I'd have to bow out to another raider. My biggest fear of course being that of missing out on my fragments...

What happened though was that my effective healing actually went up. I had to anticipate damage more than I have in the past, and really had to push to get heals in on time. Trying to gauge the time by keeping one eye on my lag and one on health bars meant I couldn't watch the raid like I usually do (for people in fires, etc) when leading - but at least I was healing strong.

Now that I've got my fast connection back, I am trying to keep that same mentality instead of slipping back into the comfort zone of reactionary healing. Obviously we're preemtive healers in Wrath anyway (same as in BC) where you're throwing heals out knowing that at any second the tank could be dropping. With all the haste we have now, it's tough to stop those casts from going off - even with a stopcasting macro.

In short, playing with a high lag made me a slightly better healer. Though I'm still letting the ret pally die...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Salute to MacGyver

One of the great things about WoW is the incredible flexibility and ingenuity that can go into playing the game. Coming up with off the wall ideas for handling bosses or instances, coming up with a strange new spec that is suddenly genius, or even just working through a complex mechanic - all of these allow the WoW player to flex thier brains along with their epeen.

I'm sure we all have our moments of genius, but here are a few of my favorite "MacGyverisms" I've seen or personally know of in the game. Some are genius, some are just pure talent, and some are mind-boggling crazy.

In no particular order....

Boomkin tanking...on Moroes. When we first ventured into Karazhan we were running one tank (me on my now dusty warrior - in greens), two healers (paladin and priest)*, and a mix of DPS. We certainly weren't ready, especially for Moroes. After single tanking the Huntsman - Thunderfury, I love you still - we roll up to Moroes. We spent the next few weeks tanking this fight using a flasked up Boomkin to tank when I was gouged. Oh backwards tanking trick - where were you then.

Holy Paladin tanking...on Skeletal Ushers. Again in Kara, along the same timeline as our Moroes kills, and before you could CC the Ushers. Our healadin would pop wings and just faceroll the keyboard to try and hold agro long enough for me to come out of iceblok, with the boomkin healing like her feathers were on fire. We'd usually lose one or two people on a pull, but damn if it wasn't funny to watch.

Solo tanking Hydross...minus the adds. I know I'm not the first person to have done this, but after having worlds of issues with getting tanks geared for Hydross and then having them leave the guild - or issues with threat on transitions - I built up a set of tanking resist gear that worked for both phases. It was an ugly set of gear, relying on a whole lot of void spheres for resistance - everything that had a socket slot was usable. I just wish I'd had the paladin AoE threat necessary to tank the adds too.

Five man of love

When I rolled into BC I teamed up with a couple of guildies who I really didn't know that well. Hell, I abused them while raid leading in Vanilla. Over the course of getting through Kara and leveling, we lived in 5 mans. Our little group was a healadin, a boomkin, a narcoleptic hunter (Oh Swiftin - where are you now), and a mage.

Back when CC was mandatory, especially for a warrior tank, we pulled out some amazing saves through luck and quick thinking. Without a doubt, I became a better tank during those runs - something I think new tanks are missing out on in current 5 mans and heroics. Shatterd Halls, Shadow Labs, Arcatraz...these instances were no joke. Unless you were running a prot pally, you couldn't just AoE your way through the place.

I turned 80 on my paladin in Wrath, hit a heroic in leveling gear, and waltzed through it. Seems kind of watered down. I think these skills are starting to be missed in the new raiders - they're not used to following marks, CC, or having to be quick on the keys to pick up adds.

Kids these days. They've got it easy.

*The healadin recently transferred over to our server, and it was like being re-united with a lost brother - even if he is ret now. Much like that lost brother there was much fighting and name calling, but that guy taught me what I know. He also writes the best guild apps ever, which is particularly entertaining.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On answering questions

one of the many jobs of being a guild officer is reading applications. I've seen everything from the three word answer to novels - and everything in between.

One thing that always boggles my mind however is when someone either doesn't answer a question, but instead posts some other type of information - or when they flat out refuse.

Recently we added the requirement of including a screenshot of your UI while in combat. We do this so we can see what kind of addons you're running, if it's totally custom and you might have problems on patch day, etc. It's also one of those "lets see if they can follow directions" type posts.

Regularly we get a list of addons, but no picture. Things from "I don't believe in posting shots of my UI" to just ignoring the request. It's my stance that failure to follow directions here will transfer directly into the raid instance. If you can't even be bothered to post a screenshot - or ask where/how to do it - I question your ability to stand where you're supposed to and work like a team.

Not all the officers feel this way, but these apps are an immediate no from me - just like a bad resume at work. Elitist? Maybe. But it's my rules, and I choose to stick with them.

More tomorrow - hopefully with a working Yogg strat.