Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Razor's Edge

Sit-outs, alternates, and 'core' raiders. This issue is by far my biggest headache, not even loot issues have been able to surpass this issue.

Thanks to the homogenization of buffs (thank goodness), and a greater Bring the Player mentality, raid stacking has fortunately slid off to the side a bit. Normal Ulduar is not Sunwell, and the micromanagement of buffs is no longer required. We even manage to raid without a shaman most nights, and are still progressing along nicely.

S-a-S runs a fairly stable roster of 32 raiders. We have a few more 'friends and family' in our guild, but they aren't folks who raid often (if ever). Recruiting is closed, and we wind up sitting some amazing players every night. Fortunately, part of what makes these players amazing is that they don't throw a fit every time they're asked to sit.

You know it's gonna hurt

This Saturday is lining up to be a perfect storm for us. A few DPS have RL issues, a couple of healers are out, and at least one tank. I imagine we're going to ask someone to swap roles for the evening, as our 'friends and family' members are pretty much just that. The upside is everyone will probably get in who wants to raid. The downside is we're so lean that one missed meal will make us starve.

So what's the balance?

With 2 extra tanks, 3 healers, and 2 DPS - we have to wonder what the fine line between too many and not enough is. Obviously if we have to cancel a radi due to missing people, we're too lean. The same goes if we start to suddenly hemmorage our alternate raiders. I really hate calling them bench players - it has a negitive connotation which probably stems from my football days. Basketball players sit the bench all the time, and some baseball players sit all game waiting for that one moment to pinch hit or run.

Personally, I wouldn't say no to one more full time person - but the problem I have is finding a spot for them. Our raiders are loyal and some of us have been together since our first raid days in Molten Core. We've eliminated the fire standers, and some days it feels like we're trying to squeeze blood from a stone when it comes to improving performance.

It's a shame we can't get everyone in every night. I really wish the instance would scale based upon the number of people you bring inside, though I'm sure this would open up a whole new level of drama and difficulty. Can you picture all the fire standing players who would be pressuring you to get in since there's no instance cap? Makes me shudder to think about it.

Closing thoughts

For right now we're going to ride this edge until we get cut. The other officers are watching the guild closely, looking for the cliques that might splinter off and leave a gaping hole that needs plugging in a hurry. I imagine that as long as we're progressing through the content however, we'll have plenty of raiders to choose from. The real test will be when we're breaking our faces on hard mode bosses.

Of course, we could always go back to Naxx....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Val'anyr - Who gets it?

Yesterday Ferraro outlined Val'anyr the new healing legendary mace, and she did it much better than I could. If you're looking for a writeup on how awesome the mace is, that would be my first read. Instead, I'm going to layout how we decided how to assign the fragments within my guild.

First, a brief explanation on our loot rules. We don't use DKP, Suicide Kings, or pretty much any other method that requires administrative overhead to carry from week to week. We use a fairly straight /roll system, and we've managed to avoid any serious loot drama so far. You can see our complete loot rules here if you're really interested.

The problem that this opened up for us regarding Val'anyr was, how do we make it a significant investment for someone to get, and yet still keep the system fair? Back when I was tanking on my warrior in MC, I hoarded every DKP I could on the off chance that one of the coveted bindings would drop. I'm sure everyone has heard the horror storis of rogues getting the bow from KJ, and the drama-glaives were aptly named.


After much discussion, we decided that in order to make the commitment to Val'anyr worth it, we had to include some sacrifice. This was posted on our forums for a week, and in the end only 30% of our healers decided to opt in.

Legendary Mace

With the addition of a new legendary item, and our lack of DKP, we want to establish early on who will get the mace - seeing as the shards only drop off hard mode bosses and it may be a bit before we see any shards. Given the status of the mace however, we want to make sure that the penalty for being guaranteed this drop is significant enough that the decision to go after it is not taken lightly.

At this time, we have decided that whoever is going to be awarded the shards will have to sacrifice ALL of their need rolls on loot. This means you will be the last person to get your tier 8, and the last person to get need roll loot. Any main spec roll will beat you - however you can rest assured that the first legendary mace will be yours.

All those interested should post in this thread before next Tuesday. Raid attendance will be considered - so if you skip out on the early nights knowing you get no loot, you'll lose your claim on the mace later on.


Officers of S-a-S
Drumroll please

On our first night in Ulduar, like many guilds, we knocked out the Flame-Leviathan. Of the 3 healers who posted interest in the mace (given the loot rules), only two of us were online and available to raid that night. The thrid healer bailed at the last moment, and forfited his roll due to missing the raid. While no shard actually dropped that night, the lords of the RNG were with me. Two weeks in, and I've picked up one fragment - and my paladin partner is giddy with the prospect of all her free loot. Her dice suck and she knows it.


In the end, I don't think it matters how you handle this loot item - as long as your system is fair and consistant. We didn't add weight to someone's eligibility simply because they were an officer, or they always topped the meters (like those matter) in Naxx. We picked a system that was as fair as it could be, and we're sticking with it. Now I just need 29 more and a hard mode Yaggy kill...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Crazy cat lady and Mr. Freeze

After a long night of wipes, S-a-S finally knocked down Aunaya and her crazy cats. This was definately a trail and error type fight - where just like Mulgar, so much rides on a perfect pull. Looking back at our WWS reports from our two nights of attempts we had 45 wipes before we finally pulled it all together. One raider made a comment that it was nice to have a challenge, and that he would have been frustrated if we hadn't gotten her down.


I don't want to sound like my grandpa here "Back when I was a kid.." type story, but really? Four years ago (has it really been that long?) when I was in my first Molten Core guild, we spent weeks wiping on Lucifron - forget Ragnaros. Razorgore was a full month of tears and pain, and don't even get me started on the challenges we faced against Fankriss. Granted, we weren't on the top of the curve, and trying to herd 40 cats through content when PvP epics were being handed out like sample heroin vials was pretty tough.

Things are different now

I really do like the direction Blizzard has taken with raids and consumables now. With more dalies than you can possibly compelte (due to the cap), and a greatly reduced raid consumable requirement, more time can be spent enjoying the content for what it is. More guilds are getting to see the end content, and this can only be a good thing.

Hard mode designs and achievments were a brilliant idea in my opinion. This gives the extreme guilds something to keep pushing for, and it let's the more casual players have access (eventually) to the end-game before the next expansion.

From what I've seen so far, I think Ulduar is very close to being perfectly tuned. Guilds like Ensida and Vodka who spent months working on the PTR have already cleared the content. Matticus touched on this in a recent post about why guilds may be frustrated in Ulduar, and I think he hit it spot on. Ulduar will be puggable in a few months, which is just about right.

Going forward

I'm looking forward to an attempted repeat tonight. If we can pull off a repeat, I'll post up our strategy with a couple of screenshots.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


Welcome to Divine Plea - my new attempt at blogging on the happenings in The World of Warcraft. Postings will range from the informative to the benign, with a few rants thrown in for good measure.