Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is the day when I have nothing to say

Can you believe that? I'm sitting here with some time to spare. And nothing.

Well, I supose it was my 1 year WoW birthday last Friday.

Hip hip huzzah!

You ever get to the last boss in a raid with like 5 minutes left on your buffs? So, before the boss, you drink your two elixirs, oil up your two hander, eat some fish, invoke a scroll, have all your buddies work their magics on you, and then go kick some butt?

Then you log out.

Next time you log in, you jump directly into dailies. Or maybe even a BG.

And you wonder why you're romping and stomping. Crushing Horde at the LM. Burning down skinnables in 3 shots. Crit'ing like a madman.

Oh, yeah, I'm still a fully buffed machine of death.

That's when you remember why you bring all those expensive consumables to your raid. They do make a difference.

Hey, lookie there. I found something to talk about :-)

Also, I never knew what a waterspout was. All my life, I've been singing Itsy Bitsy Spider, and had no idea what a waterspout was. Until this afternoon when some people at work came by my cube, gawking out the window at something. So I minimize my blog reader peek over and see this tornado thingie stretching from the surface of Lake Erie up to some of the nastiest clouds I've ever seen in my life. So that's a waterspout. Go figure. I always thought it was a gutter thingie that goes from the ground up to the roof of a house, intended to guide rain off the roof without tearing up the topsoil. Seems that a spider would be much more inclined to be hanging out near my house than on the surface of a Great Lake. Maybe its a homonym.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'Spitey Sense

The ongoing saga of our Guilds friendly competition to see which Karazhan could down Netherspite first and close the ugly gap that is our 12/13 record in the WoW Jutsu report.

We've been "clearing" kara for months now, but never decided to take the time to down Ole 'Spitey, always choosing to farm a few extra bosses for badges and loot.

With Team 1 on the verge of stopping Kara runs, and Team 2 romping and stomping through the place, we dropped our gloves and went for it. Who's gonna get the progression kill?

Monday night. Both Kara teams have a mostly cleared dungeon waiting for them.

Unfortunately only 16 raiders showed up (summer-itis, damn you), half saved to one Raid ID and half to another Raid ID (blizzard, damn you).

After much deliberation, the Command Decision was made to have Team 2 sit out for their first time so far, and provide one member who was not yet saved to a Raid ID.

This put us at 9 players, made up of a mix of T1 and T2. PuG a 10th. Discover 5 minutes later that he's saved to another Raid ID.

Doh. Now we're faced with not being able to run.

Having just come off a conversation with a member about the impacts of canceling raids I decided to spitefully cancel the raid, just to prove a point suggest we 9-man it.


"Chugga Chugga Choo Choooo"

Warm up with Nightbane. Bang.

Since we're in the mood to kill Dragons, lets go try out Netherspite.

Some analysis and discussion based off of WoW Wiki's write up.

First try. 38%

Ok, some fuss about ppl running through the red beam to get to their assigned beams after a phase transition.

Next try. Pay attention while running around immediately following the Banish Phase. (A) let the tank build aggro (duh) and (B) run around the Red Beam's generator. Use Aspect of Cheetah if you need to get to the Blue Beam quickly (silly hunter).

At about 80%, the Warlock who was blocking the Blue Beam DC's. We're at 8 people now.

Amava takes the next Blue Beam, which was planned, followed by substituting a Mage in on the next cycle.

At about 40%, the Warlock reconnects. Back to 9 people.

Netherspite. Bang.

Dead dragon. Guild First kill. 9 people, made up of players from both kara teams.

Continue on to one shot Illhoof and Prince with 9.

Nice ending to what started as a possible glum evening.

General Strategy we used:

Beam Phase 1: Red-Warrior (MT), Blue-Warlock, Green-Rogue
Beam Phase 2: Red-Prot Paladin, Blue-Hunter (me), Green-Warrior (MT)

And of course, during the DC, we had our Mage sub in the Blue Beam for the Warlock.

I just stood there and absorbed all ticks for the entire Blue Beam duration. No problems at all, although I did have a Holy Priest paying pretty close attention to me. The attack power boost is lovely and left me delivering about 1550 DPS for the encounter.

Maintaining Member Happiness

One of the biggest challenges of running a Guild and a Raid Team is fielding a team of 25 appropriately geared players of the right classes, the right talent specs, the right attitude and skill, who are available on the right days, at the right time, for the right relatively uninterrupted duration.

Along with that, comes the added challenge of ensuring each of the people involved is having enough fun to be interested in continuing to play with the team.

When surrounded by supportive people, the challenges are tolerable, because the shared sense of team accomplishment and spirit outweighs the cost of getting there. When I know the people around me are struggling to solve the very same problems that I'm trying to solve. When the people around me want the same things that I want, and are willing to work to accomplish them with me.

Then I get a tell like this...."we've canceled a bunch of raids this month. i joined to raid. i'm not saying i'm leaving, but unless you can guarantee three nights of raiding, i'll have to consider leaving."

Some facts:

A) Out of a possible 15 raid nights in the past five weeks, three nights have had cancellations by one of the 10-man units, with no night fully canceled by the Guild.

B) The person sending the tell is a respected member of the team who fits well with our Guild's culture and atmosphere.

B) The person sending the tell took a week off of raiding recently for family reasons.

C) The person sent this tell the day after skipping a raid for family reasons.

D) A group of four other raiders used the most recent canceled raid night to do something very special for this person.

Some Commentary:

A) I respect the fact that the person came to me with the problem rather than just ghost disappearing from the guild in the middle of the night, or spitefully quitting immediately following a canceled raid. Basic respect and open communication gives me hope that we can find a solution. I appreciate people who can constructively assert their needs.

B) The ultimatum of "unless you can guarantee....i'll have to consider leaving" nearly was responded to with an immediate /gkick. I'll skip every raid night from now until WotLK than continue on feeling like players are trying to hold a gun to my head. Show me that you're interested in helping solve a shared problem, I'll fight for your needs till my dying breath. Make demands and show no interest in helping? In the words of the Fresh Prince, "Smell you later".

C) Our Guild is a casual raiding guild, in that we take raids seriously while we're running them, but we have no attendance requirement, and we generally allow players to enjoy the game in their own way. The player in question has benefited from this casual policy in that their absences were never viewed negatively, and the raid adjusted, found alternatives, maybe even faced cancellations. But never any bad feelings.

D) During the subsequent conversation, I illustrated just how much we share the same desired outcome of consistent and timely raid nights. I asked for help, as we currently view recruiting as the biggest obstacle. The member skirted accepting responsibility for helping, with a response of "everybody on my friends list is satisfied". This leaves me with little hope that the member will be providing any help in the search for players, and will be looking to me and the other officers to solve the problem.

When it comes down to it, these sorts of issues are my biggest problem with WoW. When we get a team together, things are pretty healthy. Some drama as you'd expect with any group of 30 people, but generally folks work together.

Healthy, constructive communication, even if its about opposing ideas or difficult topics? Good.

Dictating ultimatums? Bad.

Helping your team solve problems that affect you? Good.

Looking to others to solve your problems? Bad.

This particular instance really has me sad. The player is a great member of the team, fits well with the Guild's atmosphere, plays their role well, listens to instruction, asks questions for clarity, is active on the Guild chat. All very good things that I value in a teammate. I hope we can get the player involved in some constructive team efforts to solve our communal problem before they bail on us.


During most of my WoW career, I've been working with Warrior tanks.

Lol, actually, while leveling from 20 to nearly 60, I did most of my work with dual rogue "tanks", evasion tanking everything along the way, so we must have been doing instances we were over level for, but whatever. It got the job done.

Warrior tanks, ranging in skill level, all the way from poor single target tanks, to excellent single target tanks, to excellent single target/mediocre multi target, all the way to excellent single target/good multi target tanks.

The occasional Bear, either a PuG , or now that one of our Guildies has his Druid at 70.

Very little Paladin tanking action. Not by choice, but just a matter of availability and perhaps cliquiness in the guild.

We do have some excellent pallies though, and I had the pleasure of working with one yesterday.

Heroic Shattered Halls.

Usually a royal pain in the rear. Endless multi-pulls including a few 7-mob encounters that normally involve every bit of CC, Misdirection, and off tanking possible.

Well geared Paladin? Solid Healer? Meh, forget the CC, lets go!

He throws his shield, runs in, consecrates, and we're off.

2 Hunters who can easily control 4 mobs together (trap 1, MD the other), and a Rogue able to sap the copious Humanoids inhabiting Shattered Halls.

Nah. Leeeeeeerrrroooyyyyy!!!!!

1 hour and 15 minutes later, we're standing at the end, completing the timed event execution quest.

I'm astounded at what a cake walk the dungeon was with the right combination of a solid AoE Tank, a well geared Healer, and 3 strong DPS'ers.

The icing on the cake:

1) Normal Mode Daily Quest

2) Heroic Mode Daily Quest

3) Execution Timed-Event Quest

4) Trial of the Naaru Quest

5) Several thousand HH rep, putting me at one half of a heroic run away from Exalted and the sweet Nethercobra Leg pattern.

Simply Pallyrific!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Completely Frivolous Computation

Never satisfied with things until I've totally overdone it, I went back into the BRK Bingo card generation statistics and played around.

Using some basic discrete math, I calculated the odds of randomly generating a valid BRK Bingo card at 0.17%

Unsure of how correct my calculations were, and full of some spare time and CPU cycles, I decided to run a simulation and see how things play out in the "real world".

Wrote a little Java program that would randomly generate boards until it created a valid board, and then report some basic data about the trial.

Then wrapped that whole routine in a loop so it could be repeated many many times.

Bottom line, after running a batch of 10,000,000 simulations the program reported that it nailed a valid board on the first try 16,848 times, or 0.168% of the time.

Pretty damn close to the 0.17% my calculations predicted. The difference is most likely explainable by either too small a sample size of ten million, or the fact that the Java Random Number Generator is not perfect, it is a Pseudo Random Number Generator, and thus can tend to have non-random sequences, although the amount of error is generally accepted as statistically insignificant.

Going one bit further, I wanted to see if I was lucky or unlucky in that it took me about 30 minutes of clicking F9 to generate a solution.

On average, during the 10,000,000 simulation batch, a valid board was generated after 586 trials.

Thinking back to my 30 minutes of clicking, I'll estimate that I spent 2 seconds per click. This is a giagantique estimate, based upon the fact that the 30 minutes had some small interruptions and the fact that I was not spamming the button, but was instead trying to go slow such that I wouldn't fail to recognize a valid board, since my spreadsheet had no "back" button.

30 minutes * 60 seconds / 2 seconds per click = 900 boards.

So I estimate that it took me 900 boards to get a valid one. Somewhat more unlucky than the 586 average that I predicted, but not so far out as to have me worried about getting hit by lightning in the near future. I could to a standard deviation analysis, which will probably show me that 900 is right there in the comfort zone, but I think I'm done. And the 900 is considerably more lucky than the worst-case found during the simulation of 9,364.

That should just about satisfy my curiosity on this topic. Time for that hogie.

Maybe I'll try out a batch of 100,000,000 simulations, which will take roughly 2 days, or maybe even bite the bullet and run a 1,000,000,000 batch over 18 days, just to see if I can keep the process uninterrupted for that long.

In case you're a raw data junkie, here's the output for a variety of sample sizes, adding an order of magnitude each time.

Completed execution of [1] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:00:00.20
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 846
Average Trials until Valid Board : 846
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 846
Number of times I got it on the first try : 0 (0.000%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 0 (0.000%)

Completed execution of [10] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:00:00.10
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 24
Average Trials until Valid Board : 521
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 1,112
Number of times I got it on the first try : 0 (0.000%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 2 (20.000%)

Completed execution of [100] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:00:00.110
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 3
Average Trials until Valid Board : 600
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 2,382
Number of times I got it on the first try : 0 (0.000%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 16 (16.000%)

Completed execution of [1,000] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:00:01.222
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 2
Average Trials until Valid Board : 581
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 3,690
Number of times I got it on the first try : 0 (0.000%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 142 (14.200%)

Completed execution of [10,000] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:00:15.422
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 1
Average Trials until Valid Board : 593
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 6,530
Number of times I got it on the first try : 26 (0.260%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 1,508 (15.080%)

Completed execution of [100,000] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:02:26.492
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 1
Average Trials until Valid Board : 583
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 6,881
Number of times I got it on the first try : 192 (0.192%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 15,566 (15.566%)

Completed execution of [1,000,000] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 00:23:09.501
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 1
Average Trials until Valid Board : 586
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 8,573
Number of times I got it on the first try : 1,652 (0.165%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 155,395 (15.540%)

Completed execution of [10,000,000] simulations...
Elapsed time (HH:MM:SS.mmm): 03:44:24.375
Minimum Trials until Valid Board : 1
Average Trials until Valid Board : 586
Maximum Trials until Valid Board : 9,364
Number of times I got it on the first try : 16,848 (0.168%)
Number of times I got it in less than 100 tries : 1,554,695 (15.547%)

Gear Rankings

A friend whispered me the other day "dude, you're ranked 185 on our server".

What? Ranked how? I know I can write my name in the snow better than your average cheep beer chugging bloke, but I didnt think Blizzard had a way of tracking that?


Seems they put together a score for your toon based on your gear as reported by the Armory.

Then they put together a listing ranking each player on your server, ordered by your gear score.

Paging through the results, indeed, Amava is reported at 185th on the server when logged out in my best finery.

I'm puzzled. Seems pretty high. I havent looked at census data to see how many players there are on Terokkar, but 185th?

Maybe its only for players who have modelled their toon on, and not all players in the Armory?

Looking at the toons near mine, the quick random sampling I did shows that they're all wearing at least one piece of T6 gear.

So I did some quick mathy math.

Currently WoW Jutsu puts my guild at 31st on the server across both factions.

For the sake of the argument, lets pretend that each guild fields only 25 people.

According to this assumption, ahead of us in the guild ranking is 30 guilds X 25 players each = 750 players.

Sure, in each of those guilds, you'll have a spectrum of gear levels among the raiders, ranging from the people blowing away the Damage/Healing/Threat meters down to the folks afk'ing their way through BT being carried all the way. But, you've also got more than 25 folks gathering gear in each of those guilds, so I think it's a wash.


Strange. I'm going to have to assume their data is only for people who have visited warcrafter, and not the full population, because 185 seems suspiciously high.

Or else, lots of other people are ignoring Arena Welfare, BG Welfare, and Badge Welfare as a source of some high quality stuff.

Ranting about Arenas

I'll just throw this one out there.....

Blizzards Arena Matching System Blows.

Going into the week, my team started at around 1475. We should be fighting other players like us. Moderate-to-Decent gear, decent resil (369 and 411), got a handle on the basics of PvP, just not all that good at execution.

Why, oh why, do you pair us up with teams filled with Challengers, Gladiators, Rivals, Duelists, etc?

Why is there Hand of A'dal fighting the likes of us?

Sure, its the beginning of the season, so maybe they missed the first few weeks and are just starting out at 1500.

But Blizzard, shirley you cant be serious?

They need to incorporate a "Games Played" factor into their calculation. Since we hover around 1500, we will NEVER actually get accurate pairings, we'll always brandy new teams that are destined for 2000 and glory or 1200 and rerolling. Even this early in the season, our 40 games played should have Blizzard looking for someone near us in ranking and with at least a handful of games played. That would help separate us from the recently formed teams that are gross mismatches for us.

Oh, and don't even get me started on the agony that is three consecutive matches against double Challengers.

Here's my interpretation of how their ranking/queueing system should work:

1200-1300 coconuts dancing naked.

1300-1400 teams dancing with gear on.

1400-1500 people who are trying but have poor resil.

1500-1600 players who have done their homework in BG and have the resil, but not so much with the Arena skillz.

1600-1700 people who are pretty good, showing more coordination and mobility, as well as proper team composition.

1700-1850 now we're talkin'. these guys have an excellent grasp on using terrain, LoS, coordinated CC and focus fire, endurance matches rather than quick wins, exploiting opponent weakness while maximizing friendly strengths.

1850-2000 same as the previous bracket, only these guys have better twitch reflexes, faster reactions, better macros, just better execution.

2000+ should be for the best of the best. Maverick and Goose, Iceman and Slider, Aspect of the Viper and Jester of WoW.

One of the matches had a guy in S3 shoulders. S3 Shoulders? Means he had a 2000 or better rating last season or a 1950 or so rating this season. Stop queueing me up with these guys! They're clearly better than me. I don't need to get pwned to prove it.

Stop it! By playing dumb and pretending you can't sort out the teams a little better than your simplistic 1500-starting-point algorithm, you're making your customers hate you with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand stuns suns.

Challenging matches, win or lose, are fun and invigorating. Blow outs, giving or receiving, are a mockery of my $15.

Unless the season starts to normalize, and teams start getting ranked and matched more properly, I think I'm gonna become a coconut dancing naked to cash in on my 250 points per week.

Unstable Flasks

Why do they make it such a pain in the tucckus to buy Unstable Flasks?

Doing my mana cells daily quest, I stumbled upon a Bash'ir Crystalforge in Blades Edge Mountain. It gave me a cog icon as I approached it, so I right clicked it. It let me buy some Unstable Flask of the Sorcerer in exchange for Apexis Shards.

I thought that Unstable Flasks were only available after doing some overly complex NPC escort/assault that only triggers every two hours, and aparently requires a sizeable number of people to complete.

Thinking I had randomly found the vendor after somebody else completed the assault, I gobbled up a few stacks of the Sorcerer flasks for my teammates. But I'm still in search of Bandit flasks for myself.

Research shows that Sorcerer is always available from the Crystalforge. No special world event required.

Anybody out there know how to get the Bandit flasks?

I'm thinking I'll try sitting in on the bi-hourly event solo just to see what its all about, with a thousand Apexis Shards in my bag in case I actually find the NPC.

What part of STFU do you not understand?

'Twas the night of a million whispers.

'Twas the night of eight pugged raid members.

'Twas the night Amava looked with nostalgia at the good ole days in Teldrassil, without any professions, with a Bear named Teddy, who was a good boy if not optimally min/max'ed for performance, with no guild and not a care in the world.

'Twas the fourth night of the Guild running Gruul's Lair, and my fourth stab at being a 25-person Raid Leader.

The Facts:

1) 15 people from the guild signed up. Summer-itis struck and many regular members sent their regrets. 17 guildies ended up entering the raid.

2) Located 6 players from friends lists and 2 from blind whispers.

3) Wiped 6 times on High King Maulgar, never making it past a third mob in the kill order.

The Good:

1) The most important thing for me out of the night is that the whole team maintained a pretty positive attitude. A small amount of grumbling over the wipes, which was pretty natural after the third or fourth, but no finger pointing or other destructive behavior.

2) Our first real struggle as a 25-person unit. We haven't really had to struggle on any of our first three nights with Gruul, so this was new for us. We kept tweaking our approach, improving slightly with each try, and generally, the atmosphere was positive. This gives me hope for future content where we really will have to wipe again and again to master the fights.

3) For the first few tries, we had a different Mage Tank than normal try out the job of handling Krosh. She did well, and I would have kept her on the job, but as part of the post-wipe analysis we determined that Krosh was running rampant. Hard to tell if it was the Mage or the Healer assigned to the Mage causing the issue. I'm always happy to see raid members try new and unusual jobs, and I'll be happy to assign her the same job next week.

4) After calling the raid, there was what I'll be so bold as to call an "outpouring" of support for what we went through and me in the job of RL. I was getting ready to hit the bottle to settle my nerves, when the raid chat, guild chat, voice chat and some whispers came alive with supportive messages, from guildies and visitors alike, of how I kept us together and stayed positive and maintained some order through the total chaos that is pugging and wiping. That gave a nice ending to one of the more stressful events I've been through lately, and reminds me of what a decent group of people we actually do have on the team.

The Bad:

1) The whispering. The endless whispering. The constant incoming stream of whispers. I asked numerous times for the whole raid to cease and desist with the whispering. Whispering as we tried to find more PuG players. Whispering as I set up groups. Whispering as we buffed. Whispering as we laid out the initial strategy. Whispering as we wiped each time.

Nobody was whispering anything bad or angry or such. But just too much communication.

Some of it from the PuG members, who do not work with us regularly, some of it from the guildies. Too much.

Which part of STFU do you not understand? :-)

2) We had to fill in 8 players from outside the guild. I blame summer attendance and slow recruiting. If we are going to continue the momentum we had coming into this fourth raid night, we must fix that.

3) First pull was 30 minutes after scheduled start time. Normally this is my chief issue, but this week the PuG nature of the raid eclipses start time. However, the two are intimately related, and I remain hopeful that if we get more guildies participating, then start time will return to the happy 15 minutes we hit last week.

4) Lair Brutes. If you stand too far away, they ignore aggro and charge you, generally one-shotting you, and they scramble the mob's threat table, causing chaos afterwards. PLEASE LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY "THEY'RE LIKE ATTUMEN. STAND CLOSE OR DIE". If we had DKP, I would reward zero DKP for the night to any player who dies due to a charge. It is totally avoidable, and slows down the entire raid as we rez and rebuff you.

The Ugly:

1) The shivering fit my body went into after logging out. Maybe that was from the air conditioner cranked too hard, or the Labrador Retriever / Border Collie mix laying next to me breathing firey puppy nose breath directly into my arm pit, but never the less, 1.5 hours of staring at the cieling pleading for sleep to come. Ugly.

The Future:

1) Amava will not begin looking for substitute players unless 20 members from the guild are present at 15 minutes prior to scheduled start time. Each specialty must be well represented in-guild as well (at least 3 of 4 tanks must be from in-guild, at least 5 of 7 healers must be guildies, etc).The guild is welcome to continue on if we don't meet those criteria, with no hard feelings, but I will not be participating that night.

2) As such, recruiting efforts must be increased. We've had a rough time recruiting lately, so we will need to find more avenues through which to find new players.

3) I look forward to returning to Gruul's Lair and kicking @ss next week. Hopefully we can restore confidence and gain some momentum so I can seriously consider adding Magtheridon to the schedule.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Those arrows are gonna get heavy

WotLK beta hunter info gets released.

Yadda yadda yadda....

Steady Shot now uses ammo. In result, its bonus damage has been slightly reduced. Players can notice a damage increase based upon what ammo they use.

So, for us 1:1 Steady:Auto junkies, means we're gonna have to tote around quite a few arrows.

I bet they made this change purely to add some value to a new 30-slot leatherworking quiver or some such.

Gotta keep those crafting professions happy.

And with the changes to how drums will work (adding a "drummed out" debuff that only makes it wise to keep a single drummer in each party), LW is looking less attractive while I ponder the creamy goodness that was Dual Gathering.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Statistics still Bugging Me

This post is once again, going out to the statisticians out there, and is only contains mild references to WoW and/or popular WoW personalities.

I'm an obsessive dork.

Things get into my head and I cant let them sit until there's some nice closure.

I wanted to figure out the odds of randomly generating a BRK Hunter Bingo card without any duplicates. I didn't really finish it off, so I'm going mental.

To summarize...

The game involved creating bingo boards. Each board has 25 squares.

Each square had two values in it, a color and an equipment slot. There were 4 colors and 14 equipment slots.

No duplicate Color/Slot pairs are allowed on a valid board.

I think I figured it out, and so follow along. At least, I've figured it out enough to satisfy my own internal sense of closure, whether right or wrong. If you know I'm wrong, drop me a line with a decent solution, and I'll, I dunno, maybe give you a nice hearty "How's she goin!" on the the blog.

To find out the odds of choosing a valid board (ie, no dupes), first I need to find out how many possible boards there are, both valid and invalid.

Given 4 colors and 14 equipment slots, there are 4 * 14 = 56 possible values for each slot.

So, choosing 25 things from those 56, allowing repeats, you have 56 ^ 25 =


possible bingo boards, which is pretty staggering if correct.

Then we need to figure out how many of those boards have no dupliates.

To build a board with no duplicates, start by choosing one value. There are 56 possible choices.

Next, choose your second value. Since you already chose one of the options, you now only have 55 choices.

Likewise, for the third value, two of the possibilities have been taken, so you now have only 54 choices.

yadda yadda yadda

Likewise for the twentyfifth value, twentyfour of the possibilities have been taken, so you now have only 32 choices.

56 * 55 * 54 * ... * 33 * 32 = 56! / (56-25)! =


bingo boards with no duplicate values.

Dividing the no-dupe number by the total-possible number, you get 0.001706657

So, when I randomly generated my bingo boards, each time I hit F9, there was a 0.17% chance that it would be made up of 25 unique Color / Slot pairs.

Then the next question, which will continue to drive me mental, is "how many tries before I become worried that I'm still hitting F9 and I haven't gotten a valid board yet". If memory serves me correctly, its not quite as simple as just saying "well, if its roughly 0.1%, hit it 1000 times and you probably should have gotten a valid one". Maybe it is that simple, but I've a nagging feeling its a fancier solution than that, and I should expect a valid board way sooner than 1000. But oh well. I'll have to see if the inspiration stings me into action.

The other thing that will continue to plague me is "why cant you just let it go and forget about the stupid combinatorics and go get a steak hogie".

Casting on the Run

Random thought.

WoW Insider posted the following tidbit about WotLK for Paladins:

They're [Blizzard] working on building "mechanics that don't make running fights so punishing,

I have no idea what they're proposing, but, how bout making some spells able to be cast while running, but aren't instant?

Healing spell with 4 second casting time, but you do not have to stand still while casting it.

Can't be as powerful as a similar spell cast while stationary, but might give Paladins some flexibility in highly mobile fights.


Bottom line, men are just not good at buying shiny jewelry and gems. Its all these tiny little shiny objects, that leave you staggered at how something so small can cost so much. There's an actual physiological reaction where a man's body freezes up and his brain becomes mushier than normal at the mere mention of jewelry.

General consensus, in the literature as well as numerous comments here on this very blog, is that if you have a Meta gem that requires 2 Blue gems, you can have zero blue gem slots in your gear, and populate two red gem slots with purple gems, and satisfy the requirements of your Meta gem.

I tried this. A while ago.

The metagem still came up greyed out, as if to indicate the requirements were not satisfied.

My memory is fuzzy. Perhaps my test was flawed.

I will try this out again, and then I will slap myself silly for reaching into my gold stash so frivolously.

Where you really learn how to play

Been playing Horde with the gf some more. Elemental Shaman and Protection Paladin is a fun pair to roll. Sure, at level 20 and 16, not really deep enough in our trees to call ourselves by our specs, but it gets more specialized with each ding.

Most of the questing we do is straight forward. Same as solo, just you move a bit faster, die a bit less, and have to grind a bit longer if its a collection quest.

But then you come across a quest that really makes your duo shine.

For us it was in Northwatch Hold, an Alliance strong point along the coast of the Barrens. Some guy in Ratchet tasked us with killing 10 of the guards, and then 3 individual named Alliance leaders. We were level 15 and 19 at the time, and the quest was Red for both of us.

Lets Roll!!!!

10 Guards, no sweat.

Skip the first tower on the way up the hill, because there's an escort that starts in there, so save it.

Second tower, no fuss, one Alliance leader down.

Third tower, pretty easy on the way in, although the mobs are packed pretty tight and they run when nearly dead, and they have healers with them. Its a little more dicey than your standard quest.

Two Alliance leaders down.

On the way out, we get caught by a massive wave of trash respawns. Suddenly, what was a pretty linear, well controlled progression through packs of mobs turned into total chaos.

Targeting healers as they spawn right in the middle of the fight. Focus firing on a patrol as he jumps into the fray. Keeping Earthbind Totem up so the runners don't get very far.

Had to kill 12 mobs in a constant chain pull, with up to 5 alive and beating on us at any given point.

Finally get a chance to heal and mana up, before heading back to the first tower.

Easy clear up to the top of the tower.

At the top, you've got 3 mobs that can be pulled one at a time if you're really careful, and then a 2-pull consisting of the named Alliance leader, plus a healer.

6 levels above the Pally and 2 above the Shammy. Ugh, and we discover pretty quickly, he fears you every 15 seconds.

Took us 6 tries. Had to use out every capability our toons have. Tremor totems, Hammer of Justice on the healer, spamming Holy Light, all kinds of Shaman Shocks.

Best part was when I remembered about my bubble. When I saw the gf at 41 health, I suddenly remembered about Blessing of Protection. I cast it, and started screaming "Heal Yourself, Heal Yourself". She healed, I healed, we killed 'em.

Totally fun experience, and a huge change from the normal levelling questing routine. For the level we were, it required every bit of resourcefulness, every card up our sleeves, and tight coordination and execution.

Less grind, and more challenge like this, says I.

After dinging 16, I make the long trek from Barrens to Silvermoon City to have a sit-down with the Paladin Trainer.

16 is a wonderful level to hit for a would be Tank, as it came with Righteous Defense (3-target taunt), and Righteous Fury (boost to threat). Now it'll be easy as pie for me to hold aggro off of my 4-level higher DPS/Healer.

If only the economy wasn't so messed up, with level 15 Greenies costing 15 gold, I'd go out and get a proper entry-level tanking set so we can really play around.

Epic Flight Form

What do you do when a kara run goes poof?

Get your butts into some Heroic runs.

(A) Heroic Daily Quest was Sethekk Halls

(B) Druid just got epic flight training that very same day

Sounds like a match made in Heaven.

Amava tagged along for most of the quest chain, 4 shotting most of the bosses the Druid needed to kill, which was fun, and gave me a laugh as I read the comments on the WoW Head pages for the quests that say how hard they are. Hard for a Resto Druid solo? Sure. How 'bout if you bring some muscle with you? Not so much.

Then onto the dungeon run, where the Druid needs to summon some special birdie boss who then in turn summons two sets of lots of birdies.

Favorite Moment #1: In Sethekk Halls, you come across lots of pulls that contain a guy who drops a totem that charms people. He's wears cloth armor, and with Amava's Ignore Armor set on, its basically like he's naked. One died from a 3-shot combo of Aimed/Arcane/Auto, triple crit. None of the other DPS even got an attack off. There was much laughter.

Favorite Moment #2: First Boss. Summons 3 waves of 4 elementals. One strategy is to burn him down to 75%, let him summon the elementals, stop DPS on the boss, kill the elementals, continue to 50% and 25%, repeating the process. BOOOOOOORRRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG. We went with a strategy that someone called "Blow Him" but I think they forgot to say "Away" at the end. Either way, giving is better than receiving and the boss really didn't enjoy the process. Burned him straight down, ignoring elementals (or maybe fearing some of them), at end, only Tank and Amava standing. Tank at, no joke, 73 health. Amava at 150 health. Counts as a one-shot.

Killed off the special summoned bird boss guy, and then Ikiss for the Heroic Daily.

Favorite Moment #3: Fly with Druid to Cenarion Refuge and watch the conversion from slow Black Raven to speedy Purple Turkey Vulture. There was much rejoicing, as its the first Epic Flight Form ceremony the Guild ever had.

Side note: Wasn't it Ikiss who said fun stuff like "you no use trinket"? I thought I remembered him having fun emotes like that in a crazy voice, but I heard nothing of the sort as we slaughtered him last night.

How not to impress your new Officers

Strange Tidbit of the Day: you are rarely more than 6 feet away from a spider.

Guild trying to get 2 kara runs off the ground on a wednesday night. After some swapping and shuffling, one solid team is formed.

The other team is left looking for 1 more player.

Cant find anybody. Not in the guild, not on friend's lists, not on /who, not on LFM.

So we resort to General spam in Shatt City.

First response..."tell me the names of each player in the raid or i'm not joining".

Buh bye.

Second response...level 67.

Yeah, why dont you give me your business card and i'll have my people call your people.

Third response..."let me check with my guild.......sorry, i'm not allowed"


New member of the guild, joined a few days ago, logs in. 20 minutes after raid start time.

Better late than never, i suppose, lets go.

Everybody enable in-game voice chat, so I can explain the plan for the night, namely "Dragons Dragons Dragons", tonight's Nightbane and Netherspite night.

Looking at the little chat interface, i see the guy's got no voice enabled.

Says he has no sound card. Also, never been to Kara before.

Sorry, guild policy, gotta have in-game voice capability to listen to instructions. Also guild policy to meet minimum gear requirements for Kara. We can overlook the gear, since the other 9 can carry the load, but the speakers, we really can't do that on a progression night against Netherspite.

New Guy explodes. Totally snaps and begins whisper fight with the GM. On and on about how he might as well leave. KK, don't let the door hit you in the @ss. Three days in a new guild and you snap on your GM over a raid spot? Meh.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that that's probably not the best way to make a good impression and make your Officers want to invite you to future raids.

Sadly, no T1 run, no shot at Netherspite. T2 cleared through Shade, positioning themselves for the Guild First Netherspite downing.

Maybe I should put a 25-man run on the schedule for Monday to sabotage their efforts.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Hexed Toon

Guildies say the darnedest things.

I like to use the blog as a platform from which I can share the joys, the sorrows, the successes, the failures, the ins and outs of my WoW experience. Along the way, I cover some of the challenges that a guild faces as it transitions through all the many phases of progression. Some of it may come out as "dirty laundry" type stuff, but hopefully I maintain a constructive tone, intended to help others, or sometimes stray to vent my own frustrations, rarely calling any individual person out, and definitely not by name.

As an Officer, I have many conversations and situations that arise that never hit the press. Sometimes its sticky drama that's in progress, and therefore, I'll hold back until events unfold. Other times its just the mundane day-to-day stuff that comes from trying to organize 40 or so people towards a common goal. Still other times, its so personally insulting to someone involved in the situation that its just better left unsaid. While I reserve the right to blog about wtf ever I want to, I do want my fellow guildies to feel free that I'll respect their confidentiality if it truly is a sensitive issue.

But this one simply baffled me.

Shortly before a recent raid, I get a tell from a Guild member, asking for a moment to talk on voice in private.

Sure, what's up?

We party up and get on voice chat. Being a sharp cookie, I determine from the first word that this member is upset. Extremely upset.

Doing my best to not escalate the level of adrenaline, I try finding out what the problem is.

Slowly but surely, I determine that the problem is related to gear.

Still trying to calm the member down, I find out its also about our Gruul's raid.

Ok, I find myself becoming intrigued, because I really want to know the issue, but am having a tough time following the story.

The difficulty in communication appears to be only blurred due to anger and being really riled up, and although you can't be sure over voice-only communication channels, I have no reason to believe the person was drunk or high or some such, although the level of agitation would easily be explained by intoxication.

I'm pretty sure it was the anger.

This goes on for ten minutes or so, and raid time is ticking closer and closer, with the team really getting antsy to get the big gun invited, so I ask the person to summarize, because I'm having a tough time following.

My character is hexed. I will not be raiding Gruuls anymore!!!

Hexed? You don't say? Please do elaborate.

Ever since level 1, this toon is hexed and cannot roll higher than a 20

Now I'm getting a picture. Seems the player is upset because we distribute loot on a /roll basis, and if you truly and thoroughly believe that your toon is unable to roll higher than 20, your opportunities for gear are statistically limited.

I put on my computer systems diagnostic troubleshooting hat.

Do you have any alts with the problem?

No, I roll 90's and 100's on my alts all the time. This guy cant roll over 20.

Hmmmm. I'm puzzled. Maybe you can open a ticket with Blizzard, because if what you say is true, and there is really a hex on your toon, that would be pretty unfair, and maybe they can patch it or fix it or what ever you do to remove a hex.

I did that, back in my 60's. They said the roller isnt hexed.

ZOMG, I simply must get my hands on that ticket. I'd give anything to see that ticket and be in the room at Blizz when it got processed.

I explain that I definitely understand the frustration that comes with the feeling that one is limited to rolling 20 or less. The Officers have batted around the possibility of exploring DKP or other non-roll loot distribution systems, but have no plans to implement one in the immediate future. We love having you on the team, your contributions as a player and as a friend are without question. I'd hate to lose you due to some hexed dice. If you stick with us, I can promise you that we will continue to progress through the dungeons together, hopefully pushing through Magtheridon, as well as sizable chunks of SSC and TK before the expansion comes out, and you have a solid position on that team. What I cannot promise you, is any loot, other than what our Guild-wide loot policy allows.

I tell ya. I was flabbergasted.

At this point, the member seemed very much calmed down, and listening constructively, so we left off that he and I will monitor the situation for the next couple of weeks, and touch base to see how things have gone.

We shall see what the future has in store for the hexed /roll'er.

And to the guildie in question, If you're reading this, please don't think I'm making fun. I really and truly empathize with your frustration. You feel that your access to loot is less than your peers. That cannot feel good. I'm going to need your help figuring out how we can remove the hex and get your access to loot on equal footing with the rest of the Guild.

Fiftythree Hundred

edit: after writing, but before posting, this entry, I received a comment on another article that leads me to believe I'll get little sympathy from this story. :-( Please, do read on, and let me know what you think :-)

Anybody following the blog here knows that one of my favorite parts of WoW is being rich.

I started the game as a complete and total coconut. Somewhere around level 24, a newly acquired RL friend kicked me in the @ss when she saw me without any professions trained yet. What can I say? I was stuck in analysis paralysis, and couldn't decide. And I'm dumb.

That's the point where the days of dual gathering, and swimming laps in my pile of Dubloons, began and ever since the moment I plucked my first Peacebloom in Teldrassil and first Copper Ore in Darkshore, I've fully enjoyed a vast income, and always been frugal on the expenses.

Along came raiding. Some expenses, sure, but as a herbalist, not too much expense for Alchemy products, as I farmed all my stuff myself and my Guild has helpful Alchemists with all the recipes I need. I farmed my own foods, and I cook them myself. Only enchanting and gems cost me some dough, but lets face it, Hunters' really don't have any of the really brutal enchants like a Mongoose or Executioner.

Then I had to go read an article on WoW Insider saying that all the fancy folks use Leatherworking because drummers get all the chicks.

Blizzard hadn't implemented the economy crushing patch 2.4 yet, so I felt fine sitting on 10k.

Bye bye Herbalism/Mining, hello Skinning/Leatherworking.

And with it, bye bye endless income potential.

Skinning isn't too bad. Stacks of Heavy Knothide Leather and Thick Clefthoof Leather sell for a pretty penny. And while grinding Clefthooves you pick up some loose change from vendor trash. But it just feels like work.

LW has been pretty much exclusively for the Drums. I make leg armors too, but since they're BoE, I don't actually need to do it myself (lol, and i'm not exalted with HH yet, so I still have to buy my Nether Cobras). I've made a few items for guildies and friends, nice, but not like I have any rare patterns that make my crafting something special.

Mining & Herbalism just came naturally. Flying somewhere? Pick some flowers on the way. Cash in on massive profits.

Along comes Patch 2.4.3.

Haris Pilton bats her eyes at me and I fork over 3600 gold to get 6 additional bag slots. Bag space is always in short supply, so I'm a big fan.

Along comes Gruul's Lair.

I got a pair of gloves off of Gruul the other night. DPS-wise, they're sorta side-grade from my leather Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation, but they're Mail, so I caved and rolled.

I wish I hadn't. I wish I had just passed them to another hunter. But, it was gloves. My one and only piece of Leather, so I went for it.

2 other hunters in the raid. Hunter A passes. Hunter B rolls. Amava rolls higher than B and wins the gloves. Gloves bind to soul. Instant looter's remorse.

Loot distribution continues. T4 shoulders. Amava and Hunter B pass on shoulders. Hunter A rolls, but loses to a Mage.

Hunter A grumbles about having passed on the gloves in hopes of getting shoulders. Meh. You shoulda rolled on the Gloves.

Well, my conundrum continues. The only reason I'm still using the leather gloves is the lovely Blue gem slot. The meta gem all raiding hunters should be using (Relenteless Earthstorm Diamond, +12 agi and +3% crit damage) requires 2 Blue gems. Seems as though purple gems in a red slot do not count as a blue gem, even though I thought I had read somewhere that they do count as one red and one blue, regardless of what color slot they're in. appears to not be the case.

So, now its time to find another piece that's useful and contains a blue gem slot.

Enter Belt of the Black Eagle.

Very nice. Not as good as my Guardian's Chain Girdle, but why not? Blue slot, Yellow slot, nice stats.

So, to make these new gloves work for me, I needed to:
1) Get two red gems for the gloves.
2) Get 2 Primal Air, 3 Small Prismatic Shards, and 3 Arcane Dust to enchant +15 agi on the gloves
3) Get 2 Nether Vortex, 10 Primal Air, 10 Wind Scales, 4 Heavy Knothide Leather, and 2 Rune Thread for the Belt
4) Get a blue and a yellow gem for the belt.
5) Find and tip a LW for the Belt (grrrrr, made me hate LW even more that I cant even make the stuff I need myself)
6) Find and tip a JC for the jewels.

Jimminy Christmas.

In total, cost 1700 gold.

So, between the bags, the gloves, and the belt, tuesday's cash outflow was 5,300 gold, bringing my gold savings to the lowest its been since March. I can't tell if the shakiness in my hands is from the 4 hours of sleep, the associated overdose of caffeine, or the gold.

All for 6 bag slots, what might amount to an actual reduction in DPS, but a little saving face with the guild because I didn't take the gloves and never equip them.

I'm feeling Herbalism/LW in my bones. Not sure how much longer I can hold out

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clippeth the Auto Shot, never more

Here's the post of a million questions....

So patch 2.4.3 goes live tuesday.

(A) bye bye 3600 gold. hello, 3 Haris Pilton bags and 6 new bag slots. That's first thing on the schedule. Lol, 600 gold per bag slot.

(B) I'm not 100% sure how to interpret the patch notes, but it says....

Hunters: Using an instant ability after Steady Shot will no longer lock out auto shot.

Well, at least according to a posting by Valdesta, that's what it says.

So does this mean we can never clip an autoshot? Seems that Steady Shot can, but not instants such as Arcane or Multi? Can you clip with SS today?

I haven't really seen a ton of analysis on what this will mean to our DPS, other than that it'll generally improve because people who are clipping like crazy today, will see a damage increase, without changing behavior.

But what about for people who were already paying attention to clipping?

I've been a 1:1 Steady:Auto macro fanboi ever since a commenter to one of my posts showed it to me, a short while after I dinged 70. My #3 key on my keyboard is more worn out than my favorite 5 minutes of video footage on an old VHS tape that's been watched/rewound a billion times since I was about 16 years old.

Is a new Golden Macro going to be published that'll keep my #3 key in business? Or will we just be hammering the same old macro, mixing in Arcane and Multi everytime the cooldown is up?

Will this convert Hunters from MQoSRDPS to a more bursty type of damage? If I can roll steady:auto, mixing in arcane and multi whenever cooldown is available without any clipping, I'm going to burn mana pretty damn fast. I'll never leave home without a Judgment of Wisdom, Shadow Priest, and/or Shaman again.

Is haste the new kingly stat for Hunters, or is there still an optimal amount of haste for each spec/weapon speed?

The Best Buffalo Wings in Azeroth

When I think of Buffalo Wings in WoW, my mind typically goes straight for Skettis, and my hate/hate relationship with the Kaliri flying around the place like overgrown mosquitoes. One of the more common daily cooking quests has you head up to the mountains and farm a Buffalo Wing off of one of them puppies.

But, last night we found out that the best wings in the game come off of Jan'alai in Zul'Aman.

Not quite as easy to come by as the Kaliri, but when we finally fried him up, it was quite the feast. Mmmmm, Frank's Red Hot.

Zoned into ZA. Our goal for the evening was Nalorakk and Akil'zon within the timed event, followed by attempts at Jan'alai with the hopes of killing him. Our previous attempts had us pretty close, but not quite there yet.

We also had a change in our team. Our previous Team 1 off-tank is having a rough time with the conflict between bed time and raid time, so he's opting out of 10-man stuff. So the team has a new Paladin tank, and visions of a dead Eagle Boss.

Here's where we admit the complete and total incompetence of our raid.

The Gong. That stupid gong that Indiana Jones bangs, and five of you need to bang in concert with him.

I think this is the hardest part of the dungeon for the team. We laugh on and on with the Guild Master as he counts down repeatedly to coordinate our actions. Never works. We wasted a full 9 minutes trying to bang the gong last night.

But, eventually the stars aligned and the timer began. Nalorakk, Akil. No sweat. Both timed events nailed, with what feels like a reasonable amount of time to spare for when we decide to try an additional boss within the timer.

The loot in ZA is outstanding. Nalorakk dropped some mail shoulders that look like little bear heads that rest next to your head. I passed on them in favor of our Survival Hunter, since they were agility upgrade for him. Expose Weakness, FTW!!!

Cruised through the Scout gauntlet section.

Made 5 unsuccessful attempts at Jan'alai. Each attempt was progressively better, but was mostly the same strategy each time, only tweaking the number of eggs we allowed to hatch each time.

At 30% health, he spawns all remaining eggs. At 25% health (or 5 minutes elapsed time), he enrages, painfully messing with his aggro table and wacking anybody he can find.

For the 6th try, we changed it up a bit.

Rather than treat the eggs as purely an AoE thing, we went hybrid.

When the first set of hatchers arrives, Amava kills one before he can hatch anybody. Concussive Shot does the trick, and he's dead before he even enters the bridge towards the eggs.

Everybody else focuses on the other side, with Amava joining in once his hatcher is dead.

The first 3 eggs get treated as normal, single-target mobs, not AoE. Pally tank picks them up, DPS hammers them down.

Allow the hatcher to hatch all remaining eggs on the one side.

Now its AoE time. Seed of Corruption, Arcane Explosion, Volley, 2xConsecration (Ret Pally, FTW).

So, in the first arrival of Hatchers, we cleared one full side in this manner.

Next arrival of Hatchers, same routine on the other side.

The reason we did the hybrid "single-target mode / AoE mode" approach was that the Mage doing Frost Nova had to wait for large quantites of dragons before she froze them in place. Plus, and I'm no expert on Warlock-iness so take this with a grain of salt, Seeds of Corruption would go off too early if he cast it on the 1 or 2 initial mobs. By waiting for the large pack of mobs to be present, maximum value out of the AoE damagers.

Now its just Pew Pew Pew, and avoid the fire bombs. When he starts throwing the bombs, rotate camera to directly overhead looking down, and the safe spots are clearly visible.

Hunters, save your Misdirection for when he enrages, because his aggro table will get all funky.

And that's all there is to it :-)

Its the first progression boss we've had to struggle through lately, wiping for two weeks, followed by a 6-try night ending with a kill.

He dropped a Leather chest with over 200 Ignore Armor. I was drooling over it, but no way I could justify using it over the Merciless Gladiator's Chain Armor S2 Chest I just got.

We probably would have DE'd it, but we really wanted the WoW Jutsu scan to register the kill, so we forced a Resto Druid to take it in case she ever wanted to play Cat Woman.

And we're now 3/6 in ZA, which feels pretty good for a bunch of jokers who just recently set foot in the Big Boy Raids.

Don't Leave Home Without It

My Blizzard Authenticator arrived Monday.

Cute little key fob. Register it in 4 minutes at the website. Log into WoW, press the button, type the code. Viola. My giant pile of gold is safe (well, safer) from key loggers.

And now, I can never leave home without my Authenticator. Big problem, because I play at two different houses on a regular basis, and I also travel pretty regularly and play on the road.

As a result, my Authenticator is now attached to my regular key chain with my car keys.

Are you happy to see me, or is that a Blizzard Authenticator in your pocket?

So, what's the first thing that happens, just moments after I affix the auth to my keychain?

I walk out to my car, only to discover the window smashed in and all the contents rummaged through.

Lol, the shthead didn't look in the sunglass compartment, so he didn't find the iPod he was looking for. I hope you got glass in your eye, you S.O.B.

So, the next morning, driving with a stupid plastic bag duct taped over the gaping window, I pull up to the Auto Glass shop for a replacement.

KK, can we have your keys, please?

Over my dead body. You're gonna try to steal my gold!!!!!!

Luckily, the easy solution is to just remove Blizzard Authenticator from the key chain and take it with me, rather than threaten them with bodily harm should anything happen to my WoW account.

Which, I'm sure will guarantee that I now forget my auth and end up somewhere ready to play, but unable to login.

I love the added security, but now its up to me to not be Forgetful Smurf.

The Race to 13

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that most raiders have some competitive side to their personality.

Its what drives us to keep pushing through those wipes, its what keeps us hitting BG's for that next piece of gear, its what makes us curse the Tiki God of Pseudo Random Numbers, its what makes us install Damage Meters.

Taken to extreme, competition can become unhealthy and cause destructive behaviors (aka, pulling aggro in an effort to do max damage and be on top of damage meter).

In moderation, however, it can be a powerful motivator.

The Officers, made up of people from both Team 1 and Team 2, met before Monday's raid for a normal weekly meeting. During the meeting, the topic of WoW Jutsu came up. Since I got our guild added to the scan, and since we nailed Gruul, we've been using the rankings as a motivator to progress. Most notably becuase we've got lots of friends in the guilds that are ranked near us.

Sure, we're not at world first, realm first, or anything remarkable to your casual outsider. But for us, this is the cutting edge of our progression, and we take it seriously.

There is a gaping hole in our Karazhan progress. We never killed Netherspite. In fact, Team 1 only ever faced him once. So Jutsu reports us as 12/13 Kara, while all our rival guilds are 13/13.

To remedy this, along with our general Kara problem of trying to make sure people still get Rep, Gear, and Quest runs in, we came up with the idea that Team 1 will keep running Kara on wednesdays until we kill Netherspite.

So we leave the Officer's meeting and head off to our respective raids. T1 to Zul'Aman, and T2 to second half of Karazhan.

A little while later, Guild chat becomes ablaze with T2's announcement that they just One Shot Nightbane for their first time ever, and their sights are set on Netherspite.

Well, that was an eye opener for T1, to say the least. Even to this day, we struggle on Nightbane, usually killing him but rarely one shotting him. Good job by T2.

As the night went on, they didn't get Spitey down, but they did do pretty well.

So now its on. Its sooo on.

As a member of Team 1, I sure want to be part of that first Netherspite kill, but, I think the members of Team 2 really deserve it. There's no freebies around here though; they're gonna have to work for it if they want that progression kill first.

A little friendly competition to see how fast we can get the Guild to 13/13 in Karazhan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pondering Kara

We're at that strange place in a Guild's progression.

You've been running 10-person raids for months. One team is basically done with Kara, the other is still needing lots of gear from there.

You've got 1 night of 25-person raiding going. Gruul getting better and better each week.

Time to add Magtheridon into the mix.

Ultimately, you want Gruul and Maggy in a single night, maybe 2 hours long. But not yet. For now, Gruul is 1 quick night, and Maggy should be given a nice solid block of a couple hours of undivided attention.

The first step is to redo our Karazhan teams.

We've got to get the folks who still feel they need Kara gear into a run that clears all the bosses they need in a single night.

Unfortunately, that is roughly 15 players across the guild. Which means we'll need to mix in an extra 5 players who really dont need anything from kara, but they'll run to help the team out, and also to get badges.

BUT, that then limits Zul'Aman runs, because we need some of the 20 kara-bound players for that raid.

Bottom line, we'll either need to put ZA on hold, or we'll need to tell some players that they have enough Kara gear to move on. Sure, they don't have every piece of gear they want from in there, but, clearly, the team is capable of moving forward, so not everybody will have every piece before we retire a dungeon.

How do your guilds make these decisions? When is it time to move on and leave a dungeon behind?

A Third Night in Gruul's Lair

Welcome to Part Three of my ongoing series of becoming a brandy new Raid Leader in Gruul's Lair.

On the surface, there's not a whole lot to talk about. We came, we saw, we kicked his ass.

But I'm never one to leave a short story sitting there all alone, so allow me to elaborate.

On a separate note, please, continue to give me feedback on this ongoing series. I got a few comments and emails about the previous one, which I really appreciate and will try to incorporate.


To start with, I personally did more prework for this one than I did for the previous 2 raids.

The first thing I did was to write a few paragraphs on our guild website, summarizing what went well and what things we are trying to improve.

Next up, I changed the Guild Message of the Day, asking people to signup in advance via Group Calendar and also to go check out the website and read over the article.

During the week, I also randomly spit out messages in Guild chat, asking people to signup if they are interested in coming.

Finally, early on Sunday morning, about 12 hours before the raid, I made a spreadsheet to let me plan out the raid. It basically lets me enter each name who's signed up and their class and role. There's a nice summary of roles and classes up at the top. I also added in a field where I can then indicate if the person is actually invited or not. This allows me to have one summary early on before the raid where I can map out who is planning on attending, and another section that I use during actual invites to map out who is actually online and ready.

So, sunday morning, I recorded all the signups in the sheet. This gave me a nice view of what classes and roles we were light or heavy on.

Starting Up

60 minutes before the raid, I got my own personal consumables and stuff ready and flew on up to Blade's Edge. It was extra complicated because I was bringing a raw jewel to be cut and mats for Exceptional Stats on my new Merciless Chest. But I got my personal sht squared away and then flew on over.

45 minutes before the raid, I went over my spreadsheet again, whispering a few people who were logged in, but hadn't signed up. Those few had indeed signed up via Group Calendar, but it was showing them as "pending", and I could not see their requests.

As it would turn out, we had 22 people sign up. 5 tanks (which is 1 too many for our 4 tank strategy), 6 healers (which is 1 too few for our 7 healer strategy) and 11 DPS (with no single class either over nor under represented).

30 minutes before the raid, I started invites. Of the 22 signups, 19 were online and ready.

20 minutes before the raid, I began seeking out substitute players. We were missing 6 players, with 3 signup/no-shows who we were hoping would show up.

At the scheduled start time, we were at 23 players, missing only 2 DPS. Along the way, we had a Protection Paladin respec to Holy, which as a RL, I hugely appreciate his flexibility and willingness to fill a different role to meet the team's needs. This is in part due to the flexibility of his class, but more importantly, his spirit as a team player. If you're reading this, thank you, its that kind of attitude that makes the team a success.

It took another 12 minutes to locate the last players and fill out the roster.

Pep Talk

As has become standard, I left the dungeon on Heroic mode during all the forming stages.

Once the roster was full, I gave a pep talk. I covered damage meters (we dont use them so dont post them or ask to have them posted. wws is available after the run), loot policy, and our goal.

The goal was to kill HKM and Gruul in an hour and a half. We would be focusing more on speed than in previous weeks.

I also thanked the team for signing up and showing up on time, this is by far the most efficient startup we've had.

It is amusing to imagine what the raiders think of my little 2 minute speech. Part of me thinks they roll their eyes "ugh, amava's at it again", and part of me thinks they're like "whatever". And the part of me that likes the frosted side of the Mini Wheats thinks that they're paying attention, and keeping the little tidbits in the back of their mind during the raid.

At 15 minutes past start time, I changed from Heroic to Normal. First pull went off at 20 minutes past.


Trash. Nobody seems to listen to my message "group up close to Lair Brutes, if you're too far away, they charge like Attumen", so we consistently lost 2 players minimum on each trash pull that included Lair Brutes. Wasted time that I'd like to eliminate in future attempts.

Along the way, we did accidentally pull some patrols, and the team reacted perfectly, with tanks picking up targets, me throwing icons to help sort out the chaos, and everybody generally staying calm and doing their job.

HKM. Our first one-shot of Maulgar ever. Pretty quick planning session. I did have to review the whole fight because there were 4 people who never saw the encounter before, including one of the tanks.

Gruul. 3 shots and dead. First attempt was shaky, but important learning for the new folks. Second attempt was pretty good, but unlucky positioning after some of the tosses left us with way too much shatter damage.

Third try. Put raid icons on healers. When tossed in the air, healers would only look at spacing themselves against other healers. DPS players were then to find a safe spot and not kill the healers. Worked like a charm.

As usual, I guided the team through a wipe analysis each time we died. There remained a positive atmosphere, and some people gave good input as to what went wrong and creatively coming up with ideas. As RL, I had to intervene after a certain amount of discussion and lay out which of the ideas we'd be implementing.


Before the run, I reviewed the looting policy.

When we looted HKM, I think people did an outstanding job of maintaining radio silence (and text silence) other than what was required for the loot distribution process. Things went very smoothly and efficiently, with little confusion. This was good.

When we looted Gruul, there was much more peanut gallery conversation. Voice remained clear, which was a positive thing. Text chat was full of some semi-constructive stuff like "oh that's good for ret pally" and also some needless contributions like "doh" after rolling a low number.

The text clutter really made things confusing. When we have 7 people rolling for an item, if nobody adds any extra lines of text, I can just fit all 7 rolls into a single text chat window. This makes things easy. With 8 other lines of text mixed in there, its really tough.

Believe it or not, there's pressure on your Loot Masters and Officers during looting. They want to get it right, and never deny somebody their fair chance at gear. Please respect it with silence. Everybody knows you want to say gratz to people, everybody knows you are unhappy you rolled a 7.

Future Planning

The portals to Shatt City were opened at 10:37, which was 1 hour and 17 minutes after our first pull. I'm thrilled with that. A combination of getting started nearly on time, and maintaining a resonable pace paid off. If we eliminate the 2 wipes on Gruul, this is easily completed in under an hour, which is my goal for next week.

The Officers shared with the team some ideas we have for changing up the raid list, hoping to open up 2 nights for 25-person content.

Generally, people are excited, with a few left concerned at what seems to be less opportunity in Kara for those who still want some gear out of there.

We've got some ideas, but that'll wait for another post.


Two main things made the night a success:
1) Signups and most people being reliably online on time.
2) Increasing familiarity with the dungeon.

We started earlier, and spent only minimal time explaining the fights.

As usual, the whole Officer corps did an excellent job working together and ensuring the raid was well cared for. The raiders did a great job being on time, and then performing their jobs in the raid. Everybody kept a positive attitude, and reacted well to learning from wipes.

Looking forward, I still see startup time as needing improvement, even if only 5 minutes. Additionally, we had to fill a few slots from outside the guild. We are recruiting to try to bring players in to fill those positions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On a totally separate note

This post goes out to any statisticians out there. I don't care what people say, I think you guys are interesting, exciting to talk to, and good at making decisions when faced with ambiguity.

BRK did his Bingo today (the "today" that I wrote this, not the "today" as you sit here reading). I didn't participate, but was lurking. I'll give him credit for coming up with a fun, random event, which is especially important as the whole WoW community is off speculating about new talents in WotLK.

Aside: I love when people see new talents that may or may not be what's released in the xpac. They see a new 51 point talent and drool ZOMG this is so OP. Yeah, if everybody else stayed at their 41 point talents, then sure, that such and such talent would dominate. But we're all getting 51 point talents. Go back to sleep.

Bored in my cubicle, I decided to play with the bingo thing, and so I made a little Excel spreadsheet that will randomly generate a Bingo sheet according to his rules.

Basic rules: generate 25 pairs of X,Y where X=(White,Green,Blue,Purple) and Y=(Head,Shoulders,Necklace,Cape,Chest,Bracers,Hands,Waist,Leggings,Boots,Ring,Trinket,1H,2H), and no duplicate pairs of X,Y are allowed in your 25 pairs.

So easy peasy job to make a spreadsheet to pick a random number from 1-4 to choose a color, and another number from 1-14 to pick a slot. Easy enough to copy and paste this formula 25 times in a Bingo-like grid.

The tricky part was the "no duplicate pairs". Seeing as how I started this little exercise at 10:00am and, although I wasn't planning to submit an entry, I still wanted to adhere to BRK's 11:00am deadline, just for the sake of seeing if I could do it.

So I quickly ruled out any VB scripting or using Excel's Solver tool, which would be perfect for this, but not quite enough time. (lol, after the fact, I did use Solver, and all it did was optimize by making a full set of Purple gear, followed by a near full set of Blue gear. True, its a legit bingo card, but not very fun).

I settled for some tricky hidden cells that allow me to easily conditionally format any dupliate entries. Supposedly Excel 2007 has this built in since its so common (the dupe part, not the condy formatting, that's been there forever). But not '03, which is what I was on.

Ok, cool. Hit F9 and a new bingo card generates. Any duplicate entries highlight red. Hit F9 a few times, watch as it regenerates and watch a different 2, or 3, or 4 cells turn red each time.

Hit F9 a few more times. Always at least two identical entries.

That's when I got to thinking statistics. I wonder what the odds are that you'll get 25 unique pairs?

My days of Discrete Math in college are long gone, and with all the brain cells I've killed since then, so is my ability to figure this stuff out.

Suffice it to say, the chances are low, because I spent the next 30 minutes clicking F9. Yes, yes, my job has its boring moments where I can kinda zone out, hence this blog, and hence 40 minutes of F9'ing.

I wasn't rapid firing too much, because there's no "back button" in this little calculator, so if you get a solution, and accidentally hit F9 again, poof, gone like Kaiser Sose.

I finally did get a solution, no duplicates, about 5 minutes after BRK started his little thingie.

Then I tried to figure it out to see if I was lucky to have actually gotten a solution, unlucky in that a problem with a very common solution just randomly took me a large number of tries, or if I'm just so bored with work that I'd rather be killing ogres for the painfully slow Kuranei reputation grind, which I basically refuse to do.

To start off, there's 4*14=56 possible (Color,Slot) pairs

So, if you want to create a bingo board with no dupes, pretend that those 56 items are actually marbles in a sac. If no dupes are allowed, then you have 56*55*54*......*31 = YYYYYYY possible no-dupe boards.

But how many boards could you create if you wanted to allow dupes? 56*56*56*56*.....*56 = 56^25 = A HUGE NUMBER

So, if I could do this here math, i'd then divide (YYYYYYY) / (A HUGE NUMBER) = (30 MINUTES OF PRESSING F9)

There you have it.

If you're reading this and it says stuff like YYYYYYY and A HUGE NUMBER, then that means I left work without solving the problem, and then just posted it without trying to figure this out on my own time. But I gotta go pick up the kid, and my timesheet is due, and I'm trying to figure out where to bill 30 minutes of pressing F9.

Guardian's Belt and Dory's Embrace

You've heard of Double Coupon Tuesdays, where a grocery store allows you to use two coupons to get a discount on the same item?

Well, how bout Double Epic Thursdays?

Left for work with 39 AB Marks of Honor, only 1 away from qualifying for the Guardian's Chain Belt, the sweet'tastic new S4 PvP Belt, providing a small chunk of additional stats over the Vindicator's Belt. It's also one of the few Guardian's pieces that has no Arena rating requirement tied to it.

Got myself into a killer of an AB. Upon entering the BG, I see a distant friend from my own server who is a priest in full S3/S4/T6 gear, and just insane. So I became a stalker. I followed her everywhere, like a shadow. With a big crossbow.

The two of us were a killing machine. My favorite was when the Alliance decided to abandon the LM because of the 6 Horde up there. Well, I was playing follow the healer, and she ran up there, so the two of us killed all 6 Horde. My health wouldn't dent, with probably just one of her renews running. She was healing my boar Ruby also, tyvm.

Alliance lost, despite my little friend. But no matter, new belt, she be mine.

Also, along the way, I inspected a Hunter who looked pretty cool.

And I was reminded of a cloak called Dory's Embrace, costing 60 Badges of Justice.

I've got a bunch of those laying around, so why not? New cloak, and another pile of Ignore Armor.

Returned to Arathi Basin with my new belt and new cloak.

Tore the place a new one. 5 consecutive wins, all down to the last few hundred points or even closer. And that got me half way to the 30 marks I need for the S2 chest which is in my sights now.

The difference the Ingore Armor makes is just nuts. Without trying to pad stats or fight needlessly, Amava blew the damage charts out of the water, in one AB actually doubling the nearest other player's overall damage from either faction. Cloth goes down so fast, my arrows ignore basically all of it now.

Druids? Normally my bane in BG? Well, still my bane, but I was out damaging most of their heals, which was so-so before the new loot.

Long story short, I'm a big fan. Dory might even become my PvE cloak also, but it lacks agility and hit which my Drape of Dark Reavers has. But Ignore Armor is so juicy.

Arenas, you're going to give me a 1550 rating. NOW!

/hug Dory

Go Brush Your Teeth...

...because you've got Muckbreath.

I've been intermittently doing the daily fishing quest. Mostly taking it if its the Mudfish one in Nagrand, because I usually catch a stack or so of Mudfish before I catch the World's Largest Mudfish, and I like the buff food that comes from my Muddy friends.

Crocolisks in the City. Why not, I'm on my way to Stormwind to cash in on some PvP loot, so might as well.

3 casts, and I catch the baby crocolisk.

Get my PvP loot, hearth to Shatt, fly to fisherman.

What's this in my bag but a little Muckbreath companion pet.

He's awesome.

Muckbreath has become a permanent fixture to my Battlegrounds. Upon rezzing, I whip out Muckmuck, become a hawk or viper, and mount up.

He looks especially nice as he tries to move his little legs fast enough to keep up with my epic mount and riding crop.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Does Blizzard listen?

Lots of talk out there regarding Blizzard and how they decide what changes to make in World of Warcraft.

Seems that there's lots of people out there who think that Blizzard is hugely reactionary to the forums. Classes complain about imbalance or OP'ness or whatever, and next thing you know, Blizzard makes changes that then cause the next round of flames and whining.


Is anybody silly enough to think that Blizzard doesn't have a pretty good idea what they're doing?

Do you really think that a few hundred posts from a bunch of whiners single-handedly influences the direction Blizz goes with their products?

Come on!!!!!

Do they listen? You're room temperature.

Do they know how to filter out raving lunatics from well thought out and communicated ideas? Getting warmer.

Do they carefully analyze the feedback they get from customers and see how the views match up with their own internal vision? You're starting to heat up.

Do they then go on to weigh ideas that come from customers against their own vision, PLUS trying to factor in how any changes will impact them financially? You're on fire, baby!!!

Blizzard does two basic things well. They make entertaining video games, and they run a business to make a profit. Maybe there's other stuff they do well along the way, but those are the foundation.

To make an entertaining video game, you need to take in ideas from diverse sources, which would definitely include the player base.

To run a business, you have to listen to your customers. Listen, yes. Implement exactly and literally what your customers ask for? Not quite. You balance your own ideas with your customers' ideas in the hopes of optimal profit.

BBB proposed the question of whether they rolled out the Blizzard Authenticator as a response to customer demands.

Was customer demand for better account security a part of their decision? I'm sure it was.

Was it the only factor? I'm sure it was not.

I think the Blizzard Authenticator represents what a company loves to have; a situation where your own corporate goals align nicely with what your customers want.

They had internal drive to find ways to thwart gold sellers. One of the ways gold sellers get their supply of gold is by hacking accounts of rich toons. Blizzard Authenticator will help shut off that source of gold for the sellers. Blizzard also wants to try to reduce account sharing, because, it cuts into their revenue if somebody avoids purchasing a subscription (or a second subscription) by sharing with somebody else. The Authenticator will make it harder to share accounts for most people.

In the end, a successful company like Blizzard operates by gathering as diverse data as possible, and then performing careful analysis on that data and coming up with solutions to problems. Any change to the system costs them a fortune to develop, implement, and commercialize. They do not make changes on a whim, or as a knee jerk reaction to some whiners.

Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. Over time, a pattern of successful games shows that Blizzard generally gets it right.

Or, who knows, maybe I've got them on a pedestal. Maybe they've got the world's best Magic 8 Ball and base all product design decisions on its all-knowing aura...

Should we nerf warlocks because dying a full minute after you happened to pass by a 'lock in a BG sux ballz...."Signs point to yes"

A tale of two BG's

Hot on the trail of 70 Arathi Basin Marks of Honor, Amava's been spending all her non-raid time in the Battlegrounds.

This morning provided two interesting matches, in which we see some actual learning, evolving, and improvement among an Alliance Battleground PuG. 'Tis a full moon, indeed. (*)

Match One

Waiting in start up area. Coconut chimes in with "i've lost 10 in a row, can we just lose fast. 1 mark of honor in 2 minutes, versus 1 or 3 marks in 20 minutes".

Oh, boy, its gonna be one of those. Of course, nobody listens, Alliance runs out to a fast 4 cap. At around the 1000 resource mark, the Horde shows up. Not the Horde we've been fighting up to that point, but the HORDE.

A roving death squad of 5 players. 2 Rogues and 3 Druids. They stealthed up to each node, attacked in unison. I have no idea if they were premade or not, but their coordination was precise. No stopping them.

Alliance freezes up, Horde death squad makes a mockery of our lil Pug. What was a 4-cap is now a 4-cap, just of a different flavor. Coconut boy from the beginning is spamming "i told you so".

1 Mark of Honor in 20 minutes.

Match Two

Requeue. As tends to happen at 7:00am on a weekday, you get the same general bunch of 15 people in your BG's.

Coconut, same deal. Amava's all "zomg, [coconut], stow that attitude or leave the BG", followed by 13 other supportive messages, indicating that we're playing to win, even if that makes our Mark of Honor grind sub-optimal. Playing the Game > Grinding the Gear, even though I'm technically here to grind the gear :-P

Starts same way, Alliance 4-cap.

Around the 500 resource mark this time, Death Squad. I'm defending GM alone. Instant de-stealthing of 5 monsters. I don't like when Horde takes my node.

But, I'm a sharp cookie, so I gets to thinking. Hmm, if we just do our normal routine, this is gonna be ugly. Today's daily BG quest is AB, so I'd sure like to complete the quest before I go to the awful gear money grind I call work. Conclusion: lets mix things up.

So I ask the BG if they'd like to form up our own version of the Death Squad. (A) Lets have all defenders announce when DS shows up to attack. When they do, nobody respond to the "inc" call, but rather, flee from it. (B) Our own group of 5 will continuously attack the previous node that Horde DS was attacking.

Since we started with a few hundred resource advantage, if we pull this off, there will basically constantly be two nodes "changing hands", ie, one that the Horde DS just zerged in the process of capping but not yet earning points, and the one that the Alliance DS just reclaimed in the process of capping but not yet earning points.

If we hold two other nodes, which seems realistic since the Death Squad seems to be their only offense, we win.

And, holy jimminy christmas, we did it.

Played out exactly as I was hoping. Everytime somebody called "DS inc [node-A]", Alliance would abandon [node-A]. As soon as the next call of "DS inc [node-B]" went out, the Alliance DS would go attack [node-A].

3 Marks of Honor in 35 minutes.

It was a sight to behold. Took forever, since nodes were continuously in non-point-generation mode, but whatever. Sure, Coconut was angry and grumbly, but ask me if i give a crap?

Proof positive that Alliance PuG BG can actually learn from experience, and react in a positive, coordinated way.

(*) I had to look it up, its a half moon right now, so must be the proper alignment of Uranus.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just a small feel-good moment

I've been reading through some posts at Lume the Mad about running a guild and running a raid. Very interesting stuff if you've never seen it before. Probably interesting even after you've seen it, but I wouldn't know that yet.

Long story short, he runs a guild that's in Sunwell Plateau, competing with other guilds for first kills and such on the server. So pretty advanced content, to say the least.

I got a small feel-good moment of the day when I was reading a post. To paraphrase, he's talking about assessing healer performance, how you might view a healer as bad because a number of their assignments died, but you can't just look at the raw data, because maybe those assignments stood in the cave-ins on Gruul's fight.

Felt warm and fuzzy to hear somebody killing the final bosses in the game talking about the same bosses my guild is killing. Perhaps a steak and cheese sub to celebrate, although I hope the sandwich is warm but not fuzzy.

Oopsie, you forgot your tokens

I get on Amava for some early morning battlegrounds. Hoping to complete the daily, Eye of the Storm.

I'm about 2k honor away from the Guardian's belt which will be a PvP and PvE improvement for me, thus prime candidate for next gear upgrade.

Nail EotS with 3 quick 4-caps and one hard fought victory, in which yours truly capped 4 flags, as the team was clearly going for the 2-cap-plus-flags strategy. There was much rejoicing.

Port on over to Stormwind, mount up and ride over to the PvP Vendor house, nearly falling into the canal along the way, because I like to cut the corner and jump off the bridge, but I'm still a clutz.

Happily talk to the vendor with the Guardian's loot.

He says "kk, that'll be 17k-ish honor and 40 AB tokens, please".

Doh. Silly tokens. Brb, they're in the bank.

Double Doh. I've only got 18.

Coconut that I am, I recently exchanged about 30 or so sets of four tokens for honor in that repeatable quest. Major brainfart in an effort to get a necklace quickly. Totally lost sight of what my future needs would be. Gotta love impulsive decisions in search of instant gratification.

So now I'll be hitting all AB, all the time. I need a total of 70 tokens for the S2 Helm and the Guardian's Belt. Uggy uggy uggy.

Organic Progression

Any long-time readers of this blog have watched as my play has progressed from clueless leveler, to clueless n00b 70, to clueless Heroic 70, to clueless 10-person raider, and now, to clueless 25-person raider/raid leader.

I call this "Organic Progression".

That is, when I was leveling, my guild was totally made up of other levelers, nobody was 70 in the guild, or an alt of a 70. When I was first dinging 70, I was in a guild made up of other dingers. Progressing into Heroics, I was surrounded by other folks in their very first Heroic dungeons also. That was a glorious time, 4 hour wipefests in Heroic Slave Pens, with MAYBE killing one boss. But damn, did we have fun.

When we hit Kara, everyone on the team was a brand new raider, with only one or two previous exploratory visits to Kara by a few individuals. Likewise, hitting the 25's, we're all in the same boat. Nobody is a burned out T6 raider who's slumming with us.

I really am curious to find other folks who joined WoW after Burning Crusade, and have gone through this same Organic Progression, never jumping ahead to join an already established group, because I'd find it really interesting to compare notes and experiences.

For the record, here's where I think we're at right now....

With our Gruul kill, we've risen to the 18th most progressed Alliance guild on our server, according to WoW Jutsu. 18th might not seem to be that good, but we're very happy with it, given our extremely late start to raiding. I'm not overly concerned with rankings, but it does feel nice to be on the short list, and it definitely gives the Guild a sense of pride.

One team farming Kara in a single night, considering ending our visits to Kara. That same team is 2/6 in ZA, with likely progress to 4/6 in the next week or two, including the first two timed events.

A second team, farming early Kara in one night, killing up through and including Prince on a second night, nearly considering the place farm status.

Collectively, we combine forces for a single night of 25-person raiding, two weeks in, we've killed Gruul. No where near farm status, but reasonable to expect we will kill him weekly, reducing wipes and increasing speed each week.

The officers are debating moving the guild to 1 night of 10- and 2 nights of 25-person raiding, dependent largely upon how Team 2 feels about having only 1 night available for KZ.

We are roughly 40 members in size. Generally drama free, with a decent atmosphere. People can pretty much get groups for Heroics when they want. A little bit clique'ie, due in large part to the 2 Kara team divide, but since we've started Gruul's, that's changing a little.

We do not use a DKP system, and instead use a random roll. This has only led to drama situations a few times in the last 6 months of raiding. We've considered going to what I think is called Suicide Kings (everybody is randomly put in order. top person on list who is present when loot drops gets first pick. if you take loot, you drop to bottom of list, if you pass on loot, you stay at top), but have not really felt the need to implement it.

Our recruiting has been somewhat unstructured until the past 2 months. We're still recovering from a way way earlier GM who did unrestricted recruiting in an effort to hit 400 members. We are left with the solid people and players from the hugely unfiltered masses we used to have, but our class balance is out of whack (double the number of hunters than any other class, etc). Since embarking on 25-person raiding, we've narrowed our recruiting to a few very specific needs.

Upon starting Gruul's, we've also had a little bit of turnover. 3 members left the guild, one to jump to T6 raiding guild, one because the late nights impact work life too much, and one because we have 3 times as many Hunters as we have Hunter Raid Spots. While I'm sad at losing the people, because they've been a solid part of building the character of the guild, I'm not really surprised by any of the departures.

We have two main issues right now, and both are related to eachother. One is that we are missing 4 specific things on our 25-person raid. One healer (any class suitable), one tank (Druid or Warrior), an additional Warlock, and one more non-Hunter-Rogue DPS, preferably Shaman.

The second issue is our start time for 25's. I blame this largely on the fact that we have to fill in 4 or so slots from outside the guild each night, and that takes too much time. By and large, the 20 or so Guildies who sign up, reliably show up on time, so I'm hoping that if we fill our recruiting needs, then we'll have a big improvement on start time.

Looking forward, I see one potential issue on the horizon. Once the novelty wears off, and we settle into a rhythm of two and ultimately three 25'ers weekly, we will likely settle into a core group of 20 or so regulars, and will require a pool of substitutes. I'm a little worried about how to maintain sufficient numbers and diversity such that we're not hurting for attendance on any given night, and at the same time, keeping those folks who we cannot invite to each and every raid happy.

Any ideas on how to maintain a happy pool of raiders without requiring attendance, knowing full well that you need to have more members than available raid slots, would be welcome.

So there you have it, my personal WoW progression in a nutshell. When I think it over, the organic path is challenging, and is driven by a pioneer spirit every step of the way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When will S4 Normalize?


When the f will the S4 ratings sorta normalize so I can play against opponents that are realistically matched to me?

In week 1, we rose to 1549. Right, 1 point shy of qualifying for some nicer gear.

So, going into week 2, we expected to face slightly better opponents, what with being slightly above 1500, where every Tom, Dick, and Gladdy(ator) is starting out.

Played 11 matches.

5 were against Contenders.

3 were against Hand of A'dals

1 was a disconnect where the other team didn't even show up, insta-victory but no rating change.

1 was against a single toon, lordy knows where his opponent was.

So basically, out of 11 matches, exactly one was against what I would consider to be a realistic opponent for us. Long, hard fought victory, seemingly well matched in gear and skill.

I wonder how many weeks it'll take before the teams that're on their way to 1800 or better are out of our bracket, and we're left with the average-ish folks like ourselves.

If we hover around 1500, are we forever destined to be mismatched, since anybody who starts a team will be at that rating? Or will the S4 change to Personal Rating and Team Rating matchups fix this as the season progresses?