Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Underbog Undermines the Underguild

Ok, so I made up "Under Guild" but it made for a fun title.

And, ok, so it wasn't The Underbog itself, but rather the goings on in the Underbog.

Specifically, the reaction that a guild officer had to seeing a hunter who was pretty new to grouping. We'll call him OtherHunter, a level 67 randomly spec'd but mostly marksmanship Hunter. And notice that I don't call him Huntard, because as events play out, he may or may not qualify for the title, despite the first few things you'll read about him. To me, this is the exact situation that gives popularity to the label Huntard, even when its prematurely assigned to someone.

It really was interesting to watch. Friday night. The Underbog. We go in with OtherHunter, Warlock, Warrior, Priest, and me (BM Hunter, for those of you just tuning in).

Some background: Warrior is guild leader. Warlock is guild #2 guy, and also the Party Leader (PL) for the instance.

PL announces that the icons will be OtherHunter traps blue square, and Amava traps green triangle.

OtherHunter asks, "do you mean fire trap or explosive?"

I think "oh boy, here we go".

First pull only requires one mob to be controlled, so blue square goes up. You can see by his positioning and the fact that he didn't drop a trap that OtherHunter does not really know what PL expects of him. I select him and see through target-of-target, that he's targeting the skull (first mob to kill). Ok, I keep my mouth shut and let it play out just in case I'm misinterpreting things. If he does OK, then I save myself from being a bossy boss boss. If it fails, this pull is easy enough that we aren't going to wipe, so no biggie.

Pull goes down and he doesnt even drop a trap. Bam Bam Bam and they're all dead. Like I said, no problem.

PL asks what happened to trap. OtherHunter is clearly confused. PL explains that he's supposed to freeze the one with the blue square. OtherHunter seems to indicate his understanding.

Next pull, same basic thing as we start, same positioning, no trap dropped, I didn't look to see who he was targeting. This time he does end up dropping a trap, and it is a freezer trap, but he somehow gets the red x in there (supposed to be second on kill sequence). And no sooner does the mob enter his trap, then he's melee swinging his sword at it, breaking his own trap.

At this point PL is getting a little agitated. I've never run with PL before, but I have run with the warrior/guild leader. I whisper OtherHunter asking if he's ever chain trapped before. He says he's only run an instance a few times, and never heard of chain trapping.

Ok, I think I can work with this. Any immediate feelings of Huntard that were running through my head went away, and I replaced them with thoughts of ignorance, which is forgivable. I have been, and still remain, ignorant of a great many things, and its only through trying and failing and trying again and learning (and failing) that we overcome ignorance.

I ask PL to use green triangle for the next pull, so I can show him what we're talking about. Pull goes perfectly, tank handling two mobs, and two traps later, the third one sitting there as a nicely frozen turkey for us to burn down.

Next pull, there's 4 mobs, so green triangle and blue square both go up. He does get the blue square into a trap, but then wacks it with his sword and breaks his trap. I let him know to do anything he can to de-select the mob and stop attacking AS SOON AS it's changed direction and headed towards him after the pull (ie, he has aggro). Click somewhere on the ground, hit escape, select your pet. ANYTHING to de-select the mob so you wouldn't attack him and break your trap.

He had some trouble with this concept, and especially because we were getting to this part of the "lesson" just as we were getting to a slightly complex piece of terrain with a ramp and a platform and a sharp turn as you got up to a new walk-way, so the pulls and patrols were getting a little hairy.

The PL was getting more and more agitated with him on voice chat. I was trying more and more to whisper him text-wise to give him pointers, mainly on where to stand and position your traps, and how to coax your mob into the trap.

And here's the point where I think he showed me that he was just ignorant, and not a true Huntard, always to remain a Huntard. He was showing signs of improvement, and being that it was his first time trying this stuff, did admirably, under lots of stress and scrutiny. And he was very nicely letting us know how he wanted to be doing it better, and that he knows he's not doing it right and stuff. So he clearly was not just a coconut who was clueless. He's a bright guy who was clueless.

Then it settled down back into normal 4 and 5 pulls. And he started getting the hang of at least a single trap, backing away, not attacking/breaking his trap. The way we were doing it, for the 5 pulls, I'd off-tank with my pet for 1 mob, main tank would take two mobs, OtherHunter would single-trap one, and I'd chain trap the last one. Then we'd burn them down, first the two that the main tank had, then OtherHunter's turkey, then my turkey.

Worked OK, especially because I asked the healer to keep an eye on my off-tanking little Ruby, which he did an excellent job of. We proceeded to pwn the instance, and get some phat loot, including a nice piece of chest armor for yours truely, which is pretty rare for me.

To me, this is the exact situation that makes everyone jump straight to the Huntard label. Our crowd control is a little complicated to use. To do right, you've got to be aware of a number of variables, and show extreme discipline and attention to details to ensure that you AND your pet don't break your trap. All the while delivering damage down range.

Add to this, the fact that it really is easy to solo as a Hunter, and you end up with some relatively bright people reaching level 67 without ever really paying attention to the finer things in our bag of tricks (for instance, me and my "kiting"). Its a lethal combination, that really makes it hard to filter out the -tards from the -ers when you get to the upper levels. You join a party and people expect you to be as good a crowd controller as a rogue or mage standing next to you.

I'm no expert on the other classes, but my understanding is that its point-and-click to sheep, and all you have to do is keep an eye for when the sheep expires or gets broken, and then point-and-click to re-sheep. None of this tap dancing and head stands and cartwheels to keep a mob's attention and in the freezer.

In any event, the intro to this posting promised of stories of guild drama and intrigue. Bah, seems anti-climactic at this point, but here goes....

The next day, there's all this crazy chatter in guild chat about how to run an instance and team attitudes and how the guild is being run and what not. Seems that guild leader and guild #2, both of whom were in there with us, were having a spat about how PL handled himself with someone trying to learn new skills. And then he fires back with all kinds of personal shots about how the guild leader (who you know I'm a decent fan of his leadership) runs things and what not.

Lots of strange snippets of guild chat and voice chat on two different voice channels (which made it really hard to keep up with).

Ends up with #2 PL-guy leaving the guild and a handful of others leaving with him. Eh, whatever. Probably better off, both him and us, clearly a different approach to the game in both camps.

/cast true-inner-feelings-hidden-by-shroud-of-sarcasm
/yell And its a damn good thing that mutha f'ing Huntard didn't out roll me for the chest piece, or I'd have flipped out
/grin [modifier=crooked]



Anonymous said...

"I'm no expert on the other classes, but my understanding is that its point-and-click to sheep, and all you have to do is keep an eye for when the sheep expires or gets broken, and then point-and-click to re-sheep. None of this tap dancing and head stands and cartwheels to keep a mob's attention and in the freezer."

This may be a touchy path to go down. If you've only ever played one class with any regularity, it may look to you like you magically stumbled upon the one that takes brains and real skill to play, but how would you know?

For example, from my end (and I KNOW this isn't truly the case, but only because I can talk to the guy in the room with me playing the hunter), it APPEARS as if hunters just send in their pets and stand back, hit auto-shoot, and wait for the fight to end. Know what I mean?

Every class has its intricacies, even if they aren't readily apparent. =)

~Amanda, who has never played a mage

Kestrel said...

@ Amanda: There are some dynamics to CC as a hunter (which is why some people mistakenly believe hunters aren't CCers) that don't manifest themselves for other CC classes. Just one example: It's very difficult to freeze trap a caster, because it's much harder to pull a caster to a trap than it is a meleer. OTOH, sheeping or shackling (or rooting, etc.) a caster is trivial for a mage/priest/druid.

@Amava: Good job on teaching the hunter the tricks he needs to know. And good job on the GM for not letting the PL get away with the disruptive behavior. Better to lose a few people now because the GM cares, than to lose the whole guild later because the GM doesn't care.

Anonymous said...


Don't get me wrong, I understand that there's some skill involved. My fiance is a 70 BM hunter, and we leveled up together. I've heard allllll too much about what enormous skill is involved. ;-)

My objection, one by which I stand, was more to the dismissive tone of "all you have to do is point and click...". I don't play a mage, and hell, maybe it IS just that simple, but I wouldn't presume to know that. And it seems like there has to be (or should be, anyway) some skill inherent in all CC situations, what with people breaking traps*, or having to deal with immunities, etc.

This is why I'm content to just drop my totems, sit back and spam lightning bolts. Point and click, baby! Point and click.


*We were in some instance a few days ago, and a cockroach set off a trap before the mob got to it! I didn't even know that was possible.

Anonymous said...

@all: "point-and-click to re-sheep."

Actually, it's EVEN EASIER, and I *have* played mages and priests and druids and warlocks.

My (main) druid is 70, I had a 43 lock and have a 41 mage and have a 20ish priest but I had before one in the late 30ies as well.

Using a simple macro:
/cast [target=focus] <insert your class CC ability name here>
you can have your mob sheeped/hibernated/shackled/banished again WITHOUT even letting go of your target or what you're doing...

So Amava *IS* right in saying that hunters have the most difficult to master CC ability in the game, because it's simply that! Of course, hunters have an edge here: VERY few mobs can't be frozen, while all other CC methods are more selective on what mobs they apply to.

But the truth remains: hunters and trapping *IS* a lot more complicated than hitting a 1 button macro with no further targetting other than the initial /focus on "your" mob...

And even for players dumb enough to NOT use macros, it's just a click-and-hit-button thing: no big worries if other mobs will get into your "CC" instead of the proper one and even if you "sheep/etc" the wrong mob, you just do that again on the correct mob without waiting 30 seconds to lay down another trap.

All classes take some skill to play well, but that doesn't make other classes CC abilities harder to use than the hunter's CC! And before you answer about DoTs, AoEs and such, those apply ALSO to the frozen mobs and the hunter will NOT be able to lay down another for a sizable chunk of time!

Hunter's CC *IS* the most hard to master. Period.

Amava said...

I had a long response ready, but the discussion has hit on most of my points, so good job, on both sides of the story.

I'll just chime in with where my animosity was focused that night. Its not focused at mages or rogues or any other class crowd control. Its not their fault that CC is straightforward for them.

My anger was towards people who group with a hunter and automatically assume that hunter will be seamlessly chain trapping and delivering DPS.

I wish they'd have a better understanding of why its challenging and show some patience for a hunter who's learning, assuming that the hunter is showing lots of signs that he's not just an idiot (because we've got tons of those), but rather, someone who's trying to learn and someday will be pretty good at it.

I would love it if other classes would share with us the things that they are expected to do in a party that they find complex. I don't know what, but I'm sure each class has some duty that they're powerful with, but is tricky and needs expertise. If anybody has examples, please share them here.