Friday, August 29, 2008

F#$@. Respawn. Timers.

Yeah, so long story short, no f@#$ing ribs.

Sure, sure, they had baby back ribs on the menu.

I was very specific in my desire for beef ribs. The big dinosaur ribs like they put on the Flintstone's car and tip the vehicle over.

The substitute steak was pretty damn good, tho.

On to the raid.

We get 24 people from the guild together, which is pretty f@#$ing sweet. And the other night we had all 25 from our guild for the very first T5 run. Nice!

So this night, following the rib-less disaster of a sales pitch, we head into SSC, with aspirations of making a Fish Taco out of the Lurker Below.

Up to this point, we'd tried him 2 nights in a row. Clearly the T5 content is a little more demanding on the raid members. For a progression team, it seems tuned such that even a single slacker will cause trouble.

Head on in, relatively straight forward push through the trash.

Then the connection issues started up. One player was continuously DC'ing. Then another, then another.

And right as we clear the final trash pull that causes the water to boil and all the fish to be belly up, Amava begins her lovely waltz with the DC Monster.

Maybe 15 minutes or so, trying to log back in, reading the Blizzard forums which seem to indicate this is happening to lots of people.

Through it all, my Vent connection was perfect, so I was able to rule out my local hotel Internet connection.

So I made the call to replace me. We luckily had a Mage available, so off they go.

And I listened on Vent.


Just not fun to be blocked by technical issues, when all the other stars were aligned that night.

First few tries, same old, same old. People are having issues (A) avoiding Spout, and (B) crowd controlling the archers on the islands, and (C) allowing the tanks to pick up the Guardians on the donut, which is my pet name for the island that Lurker lives in the middle of.

Then one attempt, everything just seemed to come together.

Everyone was diving deep to avoid Spout. I had put a Hunter and a Mage on each island, and they all worked out how to properly CC the archers. Everyone was showing discipline and allowing the tanks to pick up their Guardians.

The boss was progressively heading towards a watery grave. The raid was suitably healthy, with nearly every member alive.

Amava was listening in on vent, pacing in the Hotel room, like an expectant father in the waiting room, unable to do anything to change the course of events, but hugely anxious for the outcome. (*)

Then. The Tragedy. The Travesty!

Somewhere around 27% or so, with things going strong, and a boss-death seeming imminent.

Everybody dives below to avoid a spout.

And all sorts of WTF's start flying around.

The damn fish in the water respawned, and wiped the raid.


We're so going back in there and kicking his ass. And I'll accept no technical issues, BLIZZARD!!!!!! /shakes fist

(*) This is the year 2000, and modern fathers play an active role in the actual delivery room, not pacing in the waiting room, smoking cigars, crossing fingers for a boy. I use the simile in jest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mile High Ribs

So I'm on a business trip.

Visiting some software vendor who stands to make a fortune I recommend to my company that we buy their software.

Naturally they have a vested interest in making sure they take care of my needs.

Their vision was to take me out, wine and dine me.

I told them "I raid monday and wednesday, so tuesday, you better stack a pile of Texas ribs higher than I can jump."

See, I like me some ribs.

I'll tell you tomorrow how the ribs are.

Back to the WoW.

Things have been pretty cool.

SSC. Two nights in a row. Total of 10 attempts at Lurker Below.

No boss kill yet, best attempt at 60%.

On a feel good note, tons and tons of positive feedback for Amava on how the raids run and how I keep the team together through hours and hours of wiping. That strokes the ego better than topping the damage meter.

If we struggle on Lurker some more, I think either Hydross, or maybe a visit to Void Reaver might be in order.

On a separate note, I tried out some Dual-Boxing action. Undead Mage and Troll Priest. Lots of fun. Nearly fully automated controls between the two windows, so I only have to use the Priest's WoW window to do quest related stuff. Not sure if it'll become my primary alt-related activity, but it sure makes for a neat diversion from time to time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I don't raid with that person

Other people amaze and astonish on a regular basis.

With the virtual social relationships that we form in WoW, where consequences are limited, and gear and class/spec are king, strange behavior is magnified.

We've got two folks in the guild. Well, we've got lots of folks in the guild, but this story revolves around these two specific folks.

Both are what I would describe as "colorful" people. Both heavily involved in defining the culture of the guild, whether it be active participation in gchat, jokes, random comments, emotes, both in and out of raids, and so on and so forth. Both players are lots of fun, but do border on excessive at times, sometimes getting on the nerves of those around them.

Both players perform reasonably well in their roles during raids. Both are generally available to run dungeons and help people out on non-raid nights.

Then comes last night.

I'm forming up the raid for Magtheridon. Invite one of the folks. The other is not online yet. A while later, the other one comes on. I send raid invite.

The following ensues...

"is [other person] in the raid?"


"i don't raid with [other person]"

decline raid invite


Nice. Classy. I'm a big fan of that move. WTF?

Now, at work, if I assign two people to a project together, and one refuses to work with the other, I generally try to get to the bottom of the issue, using all the nice touchy feely soft skills of getting people to play nice.

And at work, you've got some real tools you can work with, such as real life rewards like money and increased responsibility that might someday lead to promotions, and consequences like beating them with a sack of potatos.

Generally, in a professional situation, people are able to push aside most personal differences and find a way to work together, given the potential for reward for good behavior and the potential consequences for destructive behaviors.

In WoW? Not so many tools available, especially to the leaders in a guild that is just sort of on the cusp of having enough players to field a team to begin with.

The spiteful side of me wanted to /gkick on the spot. The raid leader side of me quickly discarded any negative thoughts about the situation and continued on with filling out my raid and killing a boss.

But the situation has to be dealt with. You can't expect to have a group of 25 people, in ANY walk of life, in game or out of game, and not find at least one person who you sort of don't like or would prefer behaved a little differently.

You gotta be able to put that stuff behind you, get in the raid, and focus on the job.

Guild-Funded Respec Costs & Repair Costs

Quick thought of the day.

Other than the big respecs, such as asking an excess Paladin tank to respec Holy for a raid, I never really ask players to do anything with their specs. Even when I do ask, I make sure the player knows that it is actually an option for them to say NO and its no hard feelings.

Last night, I was faced with a raid containing 4 Hunters, 3 Rogues, and 1 Fury Warrior.

Lots of physical DPS.

I had no Expose Weakness in the raid.

With all that heavy physical DPS, I wanted EW.

I asked the Hunter with the highest Agility to respec Survival to pick up EW.

I was left wishing that Blizzard would implement an easy to use feature to allow the Guild to pay for that.

Sure, the Guild Bank has some options for paying for repairs, and the guy could withdraw the gold directly.

I'd like it if I could give out a token to the guy. Redeemable for One Guild Funded Respec. And I'd give another for a free return trip.

If they gave a feature like this, we could keep the gold withdrawals limited to only a few toons, which is protection against hacked accounts or plain old ninja activity, while still retaining the ability to let the Guild fund activities like this.

A Parent's Job

One of my guild-mates is a recent high school graduate.

Like the rest of us, he devotes a little more time towards recreation/hobby activity than he should.

A few weeks ago, he more or less disappeared. He'd show up now and again, but not really raiding, just coming online for a minute or two here and there.

Discover yesterday that he doesn't really have a job. Not hugely surprising, given the fact that until recently, his primary focus was girls, no wait, WoW, no wait, drinking, no wait, oh i give up school.

Seems that his father thinks the amount of effort he is putting in towards finding a job is uninspiring.

He's been put on severe time limits, and actually has an ultimatum that the account will be shut off at the end of the month if no suitable employment was found.

In a conversation with some guildies about the situation, I said "Good for him (the father). Graduating HS is a pivotal time in life, and he's doing the right thing to give his son some consequences for his action."

Someone responded with "It sucks. We lose our best expose weakness"


Who gives a sh!t what we lose. We're talking about trying to get his head screwed on straight in real life.

We'll find another EW (see next post).

He's got to square away Real Life, not worry about some overgrown kids that he hangs out with online.

101 Details of Raiding

Raiding in WoW leaves a player with a huge number of details to keep track of.

Since I've been serving as the Raid Leader for our 25-person stuff, I find it simply staggering how many details we need to manage. And its usually 4 seconds before the boss attempt is about to begin that I realize I forgot something.

You've got some that happen way in advance of raiding, such as getting the right gear with the right stats (1), and remembering to get the right enchants (2) and install the right gems (3) with the right stats, but don't forget to fiddle a bit to keep your Meta gem requirements met (4), put some leg armor upgrade in there (5), and grind the right dungeons (6) to get rep with the right factions (7) for the right shoulder inscriptions (8) and helm glyphs (9).

Then you've got some details to manage shortly before a raid, each night. Log in at least 30 minutes early, taking note of your Server's silly timezone (10), get your repairs (11), empty all the stupid stuff out of your bags to make room for phat lewtz you're gonna get :-) (12), fill your quiver (13), get your foods (14), elixirs (15), flasks (16), drums (17), potions (18), bandages (19), your pet foods for happiness (20) and DPS (21), pack your trash gear (22), your +hit gear (23), your stamina gear (24), your oils (25), your scrolls (26). Other classes have shards, area wide buff consumables (candles???), sharpening stones, on and on and on.

Then you've got the things you do right at the beginning of the raid, and also after each wipe. Eat your buff food (27), feed your pet to happy, feed her again for good measure (28), feed her a Kibler's Bit (29), check you've got the right Pally buffs (30), the Priest buffs (31), the Druid buff (32), [edit: oye. I forgot the Mage buff, but no way I'm renumbering this whole thing, sorry Mages] drink your guardian elixir (33), drink your battle elixir (34), or check that your flask isnt about to expire (35), reapply mana oil if needed (36), eat a mage biscuit or Naaru ration to health and mana up (37), make sure the right Aspect is on (38), make sure you have the right player focused (if you indeed use focus for anything) (39), make sure growl is turned off (40), make sure pet is on passive (41), make sure your riding crop is safely stuffed in your bag just in case Outfitter went crazy (42), in fact, just check over your whole set of gear to be sure you're not still in that BG or Fishing set (43). Don't forget to grab some mage food (44) from the table and grab healthstones from each warlock (45).

Then you've got the details you need to manage during the raid. For the moment, put aside the details you need to keep track of for the specific boss fight, and just think of the ones you manage for your own toon. Lets consider a Beast Master Hunter in a basic tank-n-spank fight:

Before the pull, make sure you have any encounter-specific macros loaded on your action bar (46).

Start with the basic threat meter. Gotta keep your eye on that little puppy, first and foremost (47).

Along the lines of threat, you gotta manage your Feign death cooldown timer (48).

And your Misdirection cooldown timer (49). And you better make sure you cast MD on the right player (50), and then fire your shots at the right mob (51), within the 30 second timer (52).

Details details details.

Good, your tank has some solid aggro, and your FD was just successful (resisted FD, FTL), so now its time to pour on the juice. Gotta be aware of the cooldowns and availability of your Bestial Wrath (53), Bloodlust Brooch (54), and Rapid Fire (55) here.

And if you're a drummer, better remember to play them from time to time (56).

Do you have Improved Hunter's Mark? Better remember to keep that puppy up (57). Lots of lost DPS if you let that one expire.

How's your mana (58)? Better remember to manage your potion cooldowns (59) properly. Or if its real bad, flip over to Aspect of the Viper for a little while (60). But better not forget you switched, and remember to turn Hawk back on (61).

While you're looking at your mana bar, maybe glance at your health (62). Time to manage the Bandage cooldown (63), the Healthstone cooldown (64), and any other health or stamina related consumables you use (crystal charged green hexagon thingie???) (65). And if your mana was OK, maybe try a Health Potion (66).

Building up the pressure, didn't you just hear a Bloop recently? Yeah, that's Critical Alert telling you about a crit, so instruct Rover to Sick Balls (67). But that's like a Pavlov Response, or maybe automated in a shot macro, so this one might not require too much thought.

Speaking of Rover, he's a tough puppy, but better monitor his health level (68) and make sure Mend Pet is ticking (69, lol) if needed. If the situation is really dire, you might recall the pet (70), let a mend or two run its course, and then you gotta remember to send him back into battle (71).

Now, how about if you're the raid leader? I'll just go high-level on this one, and avoid the specifics of any specific boss fight (Cube Clickers, FTW)....

Better make sure you have 25 folks ready to raid (72). Of the right composition (73) for the fights you'll be doing (74).

Now you gotta get the parties right (75). This one alone could be like 50 details, but I'll just simplify and give it one point.

Set the looting policy to Loot Master (76) and specify who your LM is (77), assign two assistant raid leaders (78), set the loot level to Rare or Epic (79), however you fancy.

Make sure everybody knows their job (80). Make sure you review the looting policy incase of any visitors from other guilds (81). Make sure you've assigned a Healing lead (82), Tanking lead (83), Pally buff lead (84) (to hush up the coconuts who are nagging about not having the right blessings), Hunter Misdirection assignments (85), know who has soul stones (86), know the status of each Druid's combat rez cooldown (87), make sure you've got everyone on vent (88).

If you just wiped, or just killed a boss, better be aware of the time (89), and decide if you're going to make more attempts/push further, or call it a night.

Everything else I'm thinking of that I do as Raid Lead gets more into the specifics of an individual encounter, but you can easily double the number reached thus far.

I'll go with a few generics that're common to just about all fights: keep track of the overall health of the main tank and be ready to call out for the backup to step in (90), monitor the overall status (alive or dead, or maybe even mana levels) of your healers (91), keep track of your general raid DPS progress against any enrage timers (92). Keep an eye on the total raid health and alive/dead status, and call for a wipe if necessary (93).

Oh, boy, and if you're lucky enough to be the Loot Master (I am not, I personally make sure that the GM gets to handle that lovely responsibility), you've got to manage (94) any DKP, random rolling, and distribution of epics.

And if you're the designated Disenchanter, maybe you've got some crystals or shards to hand out (95).

And back to raid leader, you're disbanding now, make sure you thank everybody for coming (96), and give out homework assignments to let the team know what bosses they need to research for next time (97).

Almost ready to go to bed. But not quite yet.

Better remember to run the WWS report (98). You're a Beast Master, so take a moment to stroke your ego at the top of the meter (99). Then review the other Hunters to see who you need to yell at for not casting Kill Command or missing too many shots (100).

Anybody else exhausted yet? Its no wonder why I collapse at the end of a raid.

And, just to make the number come out nice, don't forget to log into your AH mule and leave an Auctioneer scan running (101) before bed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Primals, primals, everywhere

Talked things over with the Officers and it looks like we're going to try to accelerate our progress a little bit. We're all anxious that the xpac is on the horizon, and the raids that we're doing now will be long forgotten by Christmas. As long as we feel the team is overall geared up, even close to enough, we're gonna try to push past bosses as fast as we can. If a boss has already been killed, and is considered optional to a dungeon, pretty much gonna skip.

I was originally hoping to farm Gruul's and Magtheridon, and master each until we could do both together in a single 2 hour raid. After talking it over, we figure that we're pretty much ready to move on, and not linger too much longer. Kill Maggy a couple more times, just for the sake of proving its not a fluke, and to get a couple more pieces of gear for folks to boost up some healing capacity and maybe some under performing DPS.

That means SSC is coming up soon. If we have 20 ppl from the guild online this Sunday, we'll probably go in.

That means we need the specialized magic resist gear for our tanks.

That means we need primals galore.

Luckily, Amava's got a financial manager (AH mule alt) who likes to squirrel away valuables for rainy days, and so a couple of stacks of Lifes, Fires, and Waters went into the Guild Bank, getting us pretty close to what we need. Supposedly also need Shadow, but I'm all out. Time to kill some of the Void guys over by the Clefthoof farming grounds.

Its a little corny, but there's a part of me that likes the Guild-wide effort like gathering up Primals to gear people up.

Of course, there's also a part of me that thinks that specialized gear for just one encounter is stupid. And even more so once one of those players jumps ship, and takes their soulbound resist gear with them.

But, at least for now, I'm somewhat amused by the process.

Some things I want but likely won't get

Dreams and goals are a good thing to have.

Weighing those dreams and goals against real life constraints, and coming up with realistic milestones that you can control or accomplish is a constructive thing.

Thinking of some highly improbable things, and recognizing that they'll likely never happen, but still crossing your arms, pouting, stamping your poison ivy infested foot, and saying "i want it anyway" is childish. But fun.

In response to hearing someone say "I wish I had [impossible thing]", a wise man once said "you can put your impossible wishes in one hand, and a pile of poo in the other, they're just about equally useful."

So here's some of my poo-equivalent....

  1. Get Blizzard to retroactively apply the recruit-a-friend buffs to me and the gf's account. I created her account only a few weeks before the program was announced. We'd be in Outlands now if we had that. Instead, we're in Thousand Needles.

  2. Get a ZA Bear mount. This one is actually a possibility, a big stretch, but perhaps might happen if we get some magical motivation among our team. I put it on my list of "impossible" things, maybe to fire me up to accomplish the impossible.

  3. Get two pieces of Hunter T5 gear. I wanna see how many Clefthoofs I can load Condoleezza the Ravager up with without ever casting Mend Pet. I'll probably kill some T5 bosses before WotLK, but given how many damn Hunter-Mage-Warlock I run with, the chances of getting 2 T5 loots, nuh-uh.

  4. Break 1550 in Arena Season 4. Once I cross 1500, I face Hand of Adal and Rival teams. I get pwned. I die a little inside.

  5. Switch Amava from Night Elf to Orc. Kinda stinky that game design keeps me from enjoying the investment I made in Amava, and also play with some real life friends who happen to play Horde. Plus, I like the hips and curves on Orc women better.

  6. Get my Horde Paladin and/or Druid, and my gf's Shaman to 70 before WotLK. We will hit level cap eventually, but i'm not sure if it'll be 70 or 80 when we first do it. All three toons are at 30 right now. And have no recruit-a-friend buffs :-(

  7. And lastly...before WotLK, it is improbable that I'll actually make a decision on whether to stick with my lil Brazilian-dancing Night Elf, or to make the plunge and become a Druid-with-Paladin-alt Hordie. I love Amava, and the friends she's made, and the guild she's in, and the reputation she has on the server. But the lure to play with RL friends is pretty strong as well.

So, some things possible with a stretch and a push, some things highly improbable, some things just down right ain't gonna happen, and some good old fashioned indecision.

Sporeggar and my feet

Oye Vey!

I'm sitting here in my silly little cubicle at work, going utterly out of my mind, totally bat-sh!t crazy, from the worst case of poison ivy I've ever had in my life. Aparently I was careless out in the woods the other day, wearing flip flops, because its all over my feet, i mean all over, between the toes, on the top, bottoms, sides, up the ankles about a third of the way to the knees.

The texture looks like I dipped my feet into oatmeal with pureed strawberries mixed in it. Its such a thorough coating, you'd think that I danced a jig or something in a barrel of poison ivy plants.

Somebody please cast Abolish Poison on me. Or shoot me.

Simply going out of my mind sitting here trying to not scratch. And it wouldn't really be appropriate to whip my feet out and dab calamine lotion in the office.

So my recent stint of focusing on work and avoiding most of the WoW stuff during the day is out the window until my feet are human again. And you all get a bonus post or two today.

On with the show...

Last night, with feet fully soothed by a generous coating of calamine lotion, I ground out the last couple thousand points to ding Exalted with Sporeggar.

Just plain annoying grind. Either kill random stuff for the somewhat elusive Fertile Spores and/or do that stupid repeatable quest killing 12 male and 6 female Nagas.

Of all the rep grinds so far, this was my least favorite.

And no real reward. Sure, a tiny sporebat companion pet. He's cute. I like Muckbreath better, or the Olympics one until the Olympics are over.

Yeah, and it was fun to ding Exalted, go consult the Quartermaster only to discover that they want 30 Glowcaps for the Sporebat.

Luckily, I used to be a Herbalist, and a damn fine one at that, so I had tons of Glowcap nodes still recorded in my Gatherer. Made it pretty easy.

So that's the last of the solo-able rep grinds in the Outlands.

Still have Keepers of Time and Lower City to go, so maybe I'll start pushing for some heroic runs.

No reason, just for the sake of completion. Jeez, you think I'll like the Accomplishment thingie in WotLK?

Or, for real fun, and a couple random mounts, maybe I'll go farm Runecloth and exalt with the main Azeroth factions.

Felt Great. Felt Empty.

At the end of the previous night of ZA with a guest uber tank (T6/Sunwell geared main tank for most advanced alliance guild on the server), there were a few mutterings of a desire to return and finish off the dungeon.

We normally don't raid on tuesdays, so the concept just sorta died there.

But the idea festered overnight, and most of the team was online and thirsty for blood.

Aside: was also cool to see a bunch of guildies doing an in-guild PuG of Kara on an off-raid night. We took Kara off the official guild schedule and its nice to see that ppl who still want to get in there can do it without looking outside the guild.

Onward and upward, or something like that.

Waltzed in and sat the Hex Lord Malazras down on his ability-stealing rump in one shot. Actually, I think he died face down, but we forgot the screenshot, so who knows. Or cares.

Secret to the fight: three healers - two resto shammies, one tree druid.

Not sure if its a secret or not, but the dual chain heals during those Spirit Blasts were clutch. We also had some peeps put on some stamina gear pieces for added survivability.

Other secret: Keep a Priest waiting outside the instance. Have him buff the raid with fortitude, spirit, and shadow resistance. Kick him from the raid. Repeat after any wipes.

This little trick felt like cheating. The T6 guys said it's standard operating procedure. Whatever.

The fight went pretty smoothly, 'cept for when Amava died and received a timely combat rez from her friendly neighborhood Druid. Then died again with boss at 1%, along with half the raid. lol, dead boss, FTW.

On to Zul'jin. Naturally, never saw the fight before. Not planning on raiding on a tuesday, I hadn't read about the fight at all either. Quick read of the WoW Wiki article, quick description from our visiting tanky tank.

Couple wipes, having a really rough time with that Phase 3 and its damn Tornados and "you take damage when you cast spells" thingie.

I looked at my combat log after a wipe, noticed that Tornado is Nature Damage. Aspect of the Wild, FTW. I split the two Hunters into separate groups, and also the Warlocks, resulting in each party receiving an AotW nature resist buff and a Blood Pact stamina buff.


Dead Zul'jin

Zul'Aman cleared for the first time.

Felt great. Felt empty.

Nice accomplishment for a team mostly in T4 stuff. Gotta repeat it without the uber tank to really feel satisfied.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No fun + no rewards = smell u later

So I've just about had it with Arenas.

Season 4 is not normalizing at all. The opponent matching system isn't too hot for me, Dog.

Start the week at 1450.

PWN the first 2 teams. We're talking "zomg, i just 3-shot the shammy!" kind of pwned.

Easily defeat the next 2 teams, in matches that aren't even close, if not quite pwnage.

Pop to about 1525.

Get crushed. Crushed! We're talking "zomg, i just got 3-shot by that mage!" kind of pwned. For the next 3 matches.

One really good fight, could have gone either way. Took a little while, required some pretty good teamwork and resourcefulness. We lost, but by far, the only most fun match of the night.

Lost another one, not even close. Not a 3-shot, but they were at full health and near full mana as we crumbled.

Pwned the last team.

Went 5-5, ended the week at 1453.

Perhaps the least fun 45 minutes of my week, and if you knew some of the stuff I got going on IRL, you'd know that that's saying something.

My biggest issue is that its so clearly not matching us up with suitable opponents.

From 80,000 feet, sure, you could say we went 5-5, so it clearly is matching properly.

Yeah, right.

The difference between totally pwning and being totally pwned should be more than a 50 arena rating points.

Its been consistent like this week to week.

And since 1550 looks to be out of reach, there's no more gear in it for me.


My ultimatum to Blizzard: give me a reasonably balanced set of matches next week, or WeHeartWelfare is out of the arena business.

No fun + no rewards = smell u later


Yet Another Progression Kill. Kinda.

Headed on over to Zul'Aman. In an attempt to more seriously focus on the timed events and maybe even push further into some progression bosses, we formed up a raid of our best performing toons.

Only sticking issue was that only one of the tanks that were on is appropriately geared for ZA.

So 9 of us went looking for a tank. Fire out a general message in Shattrath City.

Get a response from The Man!

A well-known Paladin tank, revered as the Main Tank for the most progressed Alliance guild on the server. Fully geared in T6, progressing in Sunwell Plateau.

Apparently, since nearly every one of his friends already has a Bear Mount, he has trouble getting ZA raids together, and he's looking for a piece of gear from Hex Lord.

I let him know that we've never beaten Lynx boss, and never even seen Hex Lord, to give him the option of bailing out before we even start. He's good to go.

Our guild's Main Tank wisely says The Man should lead, so I let him know a little bit of what level of raider he is dealing with. He should feel free to set the pace and try to treat us the same as any raid he normally runs with. I was pretty excited to see what sort of pace and cadence for pulling he would work with.

The goal was to do Akil'zon and Nalorakk within the timed events, and then progression attempts at Halazzi.

Nice 'n Easy, two bosses down within the timer. Then on to Halazzi.

There's a short-cut where you leap through two huts to bypass a bunch of trash on the way to the boss. Both weeks that we've tried doing it, just miserable. Gonna have to get people to be more aware of their pets and their own toons during this little trek.

But we made it.

And we spanked Halazzi.

Not sure if we get to consider it a Guild First kill or not, because an overpowered visitor was Main Tanking the boss. Everyone else was from the guild though, so I'm gonna go with "Yes", just because I want to.

Went over to kill Jan'alai. A little sloppy, but we one-shot him, which is not unusual for us.

Then, on to some new territory, forging the way up to Hex Lord.

Based on The Man's suggestion, I had a Shadow Priest respec to Holy to make 3 healers, and our Protection Warrior respec to Fury to make 6 DPS.

Made lots of attempts at Hex Lord, came close, but in the end, only got him to about 20% or so.

So, here's some thoughts I had about working with someone who is among the top 3 progressed tanks on the server...

  • I'll start with attitude. I was expecting impatience with us bunch of n00bs. Not at all, he was great. He consulted with us about our normal strategies, he provided suggestions but never mandates. He explained fights well. He didn't treat me as a n00b raid leader, but instead asked me what I wanted in most situations. At no point did he make the people in our Guild feel inferior or that he was holier than thou. Very grounded and relaxed about his approach, which made the rest of the raiders feel comfortable.

  • Perspective. At one point, he said "these two guys are just like those guys in Black Temple". Um, er, yeah. We just killed Maggy on wednesday. Got another way to describe the mobs? We all got a chuckle out of that one.

  • Pace. It was eye-opening to see that the pace between pulls was very similar to what our Main Tank normally pushes. The Man did go a little faster, specifically during transitions between a boss kill and getting ready for the next trash. Once the boss was down, loot, and he was mounted up and already stationed at the next trash pull location. I can definitely see this as an area we can learn from and improve.

  • Kill order and pull-planning. The pulls were not very planned. Only when absolutely necessary was there anything besides his primary target marked. When CC was needed, he communicated clearly via voice and raid icons what was needed. As an overpowered pally tank, it really allowed lots of room for error. The only thing I'd like to change about how this went is to have the DPS use an assist macro. We've never used one before, and in a situation like this, all we'd need is for one player to choose targets and everyone else to assist that person. No need to communicate a kill order, just make sure that Main Assist player is smart about choosing targets.

  • Buffing. Dead toons were given nearly zero time for re-buffing during trash. Rebuff before bosses, definitely. He did not allow downtime during trash, which I am a huge fan of. None of our toons absolutely NEEDS buffs during the trash, and we're going to move faster overall if we do not waste time rebuffing until the bosses. This left some of our raid feeling upset, but I think it is a really good habit for the raid.

  • Relative difficulty of bosses. Leading up to Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk boss, The Man was actually pretty concerned about the difficulty level. Not sure if it was the "inspiring" performance we were putting in up to that point, or if it was a result of his previous experiences in ZA with his normal raid, but he was worried about how tough that fight is. I assured him that we've killed Jan'alai 6 times or so, including some one-shots, with our all-T4 team. He seemed satisfied, and we then went on to one-shot the boss.

  • Changing raid composition. The tank felt pretty strongly about swapping players in and out of the raid to tailor the composition to each encounter. We've never done that before, plus, we had the best performing toons from our guild already in the raid, so not too many options there. I compromised with the Shadow/Holy and Prot/Fury respec before Hex Lord. But it was another eye-opener to discuss with him how frequently and often his very advanced guild does this. It is a normal, accepted way of life for their raids.

  • Threat Management. I was happy to discover from my overall feel for threat and aggro management is that the tanks in my guild do a great job generating threat. Sure, The Man put out a little more threat than I'm used to, giving me a little more room to open the flood gates on the DPS, but not a whole lot more room. Amava's resisted FD's were still brutal to our progress through a trash pull.

It was a great night, filled with fun, new boss encounters, and even some tension at not wanting to seem like scrubs in front of The Man.

I felt bad at having to call the raid without killing the one and only boss that our visitor was here for, but it was late and we even threw in two more attempts after our normal end time.

The night left us with some good ideas for how we can improve our team's performance and speed. I'm thinking I'd like to try to have a quick de-brief with him to hear what the experience was like for him. We take pride in trying to do a good job, and I'd love to hear the first-hand reflections of a more veteran raider.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Can Haz Wheaties

I had a bowl of Wheaties this morning, 'cuz its the breakfast of Champions of the Na'aru.

What a hell of a night.

In case you don't want to be crit'ed by my wall of text, here's a taste of what's to come:

  1. Start the night with a lil helping of drama

  2. Delegate decision for Shammy group positioning and get great response

  3. Rocky start with some sloppy clicking

  4. Wipe a bunch of times

  5. Take a timeout to allow everybody to regain some focus

  6. Wipe again

  7. Respec from Shadow to Holy

  8. Kill Magtheridon

  9. Get confused about what his head is for, but WoWHead to the rescue

  10. Visit to A'dal and get Champion of the Na'aru title

  11. Visit to Honor Hold and take screenshots around giant head on a pole

  12. Much Rejoicing

  13. Amava informs DM-topping Rogue that next time, he's on clicking duty, lol

Start the night with a lil helping of drama

Start off with one of our most dependable DPS'ers giving some drama about not wanting to leave the guild, but wanting to run in TK with some other people instead of raiding with us wednesday night.

Not so much.

On an off-raid night, no problem, we may or may not even get to TK before the expansion. But on a raid night? And telling, not asking, but telling me that you're doing this, 45 minutes before our scheduled raid? Go ahead and join your fancy TK friends or guild or whatnot. Then try some baloney like that with them. See how long you last. He ended up not raiding with either group wednesday night.

This kind of stuff is unfortunate, because he really is a big part of the team, and brings tons of flavor to the Guild's culture. Normally very dependable, but sometimes the lure of more advanced content clouds things.

Delegate decision for Shammy group positioning and get great response

Fresh off of the shenanigans, I start forming up the 25-person raid.

The sun was shining and we actually had 4 Shammies with us. Actually gave me some issue trying to figure out how to optimize their positioning in the raid groups, since I know very little beyond the surface of what a Shaman brings to their party, I've had so few of them to work with. So I did what any good leader should do, I made someone else make the decision delegated. I turned to the most veteran Shaman and asked him to suggest which party to put each Shaman in, and provide me a reason for his suggestions. Additionally, he should tell each Shaman what totems they should drop to make his suggestions work.

Was great. He came up with some solid ideas for each player, shared reasons for the decisions, and clear communication to each individual Shaman on what totems they need to drop. Feels great when you can delegate responsibility to people and get strong results. Makes the entire raid work better.

Ultimately, we formed up the raid and got moving 20 minutes after scheduled start time. In cosmic irony, we spent the last 12 minutes of those 20 looking for 1 more DPS only. This, on the same night we have an issue with that one raider earlier.

But, we got the team ready to rock.

Rocky start with some sloppy clicking

Yours truly was the culprit. One time, I stood too close to my cube too early, a Conflagration dropped on me and my cube, killed me, then my backup came to click and she got burned also.

Ouch. And Uggy.

Sloppy start.

Next attempt, I was clicking again, and just taking massive amounts of damage. I'm not sure what was hitting me, because I was definitely avoiding any damaging effects I could notice, but at the moment the Main Tank went down (very prematurely), I was less than 1000 health, and I had just bandaged, health stoned, and health potted, so something is very very wrong. And it wasnt Blast Nova, no ticks of that got off during this attempt.

Wipe a bunch of times

Did a few more tries.

Wiped a few more times. Nobody was saying anything negative, but you could hear the energy level going down in their voices.

We got him down to 14% before one of the wipes. These are pretty long fights. Wiping after 11 minutes of battle is a little deflating.

This is our third night of wiping on Magtheridon this week.

But I give huge credit to the team, because despite the dropping energy level, the tone was still positive.

I had to do something to change the momentum.

Take a timeout to allow everybody to regain some focus

Everybody go, take 5 minutes, do bio stuff, get drinks, punch walls, but please don't break your knuckles, we need your fingers for the next hour or so.

I did a few yoga moves, some of the simpler ones that my still-recovering-from-surgery hand allows me to do.

Pretended to smash my bar stool on the floor.

Got my game face back on.

Oh, and this time, lets have Amava NOT be a clicker. She's clearly mentally challenged in this capacity.

Wipe again

Not being a clicker, I was free to do full DPS. This is just plain old FUN. Clicking is stressful, and leaves me out of range for Mend Pet for lots of the fight. Standing basically in one spot and pew pew pew'ing is nice.

But, we actually lose the primary and secondary clicker for one of the cubes, so I had to Aspect of the Cheetah and run all the way across the battlefield, avoiding frontal cone cleave, and sub'ed in. We wiped anyways.

At this point, its clear to me that our DPS is sufficient. We are burning down 4.75 Channelers before Magtheridon activates, assuming Amava's first or second FD doesnt get resisted. Its strange, how much of a huge difference a one magical resist on a single player can actually impact the raid. One attempt, my first two FD's resisted, and we only got 3 Channelers down before Maggy. On another attempt, my first FD resisted, and we got 3.75 Channelers down. On attempts where my FD works properly in the first 2 minutes of the encounter, we get between 4.5 and 4.75 channelers down.

But I digress.

Respec from Shadow to Holy

Knowing that DPS across the whole raid is sufficient, I decide that survivability is lacking.

I asked our Shadow Priest to spec Holy, and we'd try it with 8 healers.

Seconds before the pull, our new healer gives me a gentle nudge "Amava, you did put a replacement on my cube clicking assignment, didnt you?"

Oops. Thx for the reminder, glad somebody is paying attention.

So I return to official clicking duty.

Kill Magtheridon

Everything came together perfectly.

Good progress through the Channelers, no resists on Amava's FD, good handling of the Abyssals, good healing of the tanks/raid/clickers.

Was one silly Battle Rez that got me a tad irked with my Druid.

We had 5 tanks. Once Channelers were down and Abyssals are de-spawned, one tank was Main Tanking, a second tank was backing him up incase MT died, two of the tanks were clickers, and the fifth tank was simply performing minor DPS on Magtheridon.

That tank died.

Without any instruction, one of the Druids announced that a BRez was being sent out.

I tried to call out "He's an off-tank with no tanking job right now, save it", but it was too late, Druid called on voice AFTER the cast was already committed.

Not happy, but W/E, lets keep the fight moving.

Properly handled the transition past 30%, including a small pause in DPS at the 33% mark to allow a Blast Nova interrupt to occur, and to allow the Healers and self-bandagers to ensure all raid members were topped off before the ceiling collapsed.

And then smooth sailing from there.

Dead boss.

Get confused about what his head is for, but WoWHead to the rescue

He drops lots of goodies.

A bunch of T4 tokens, a 20 slot bag, some plate belt, and a Magtheridon's Head.

Nobody had any clue what the hell this thing was for.

I checked WoW Head.

Ah, turn it in for a ring.

Ok, everybody who didn't get something yet, /roll

Lots of posing for screen shots, including lots of Olympic Tabards and Companion Pets.

Visit to A'dal and get Champion of the Na'aru title

Nothing eventful here, just a little line of text telling me that the Na'aru are big fans of my work.

Then some fiddling with the Interface options so we could all look at our own names and titles.

Mostly just basking in some ego-stroking glory.

Visit to Honor Hold and take screenshots around giant head on a pole

Then we all flew from Shatt over to Honor Hold to let the guy who won the head turn the quest in.

And we all took great joy in posing on our flying mounts around the giant head on a pole.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a screenie of it, but supposedly somebody's gonna post one up on the guild website, because it was nice.

We put all the Swift Purple Gryphons together in front, then all the dark colored Netherdrakes up above, and all the light colored Netherdrakes around the edges.

We're dorks, but it was lots of fun.

Much Rejoicing

Oh, wait, i already covered the rejoicing up above. kek.

I'm hugely thankful at the contribution of each and every raid member. We all stuck together through three nights of wiping on this guy, and only hit pay dirt at the very end of the third long night.

For a casual guild, trying to maintain that level of involvement while facing difficulty is a challenge. The team worked hard, stayed positive, adjusted to mistakes and new strategies, provided feedback, and also joked around a bunch. I'm really proud of my teammates, even the damn Rogue who topped me on the damage meter for the progression kill. I told him that he's being put on clicking duty next time :-) Its good to be the RL.

Seems that a little progress has infused some fighting spirit back into the Guild and our Officer corps. Everybody's gung-ho to get back at some Gruul and more Maggy, with sights set on getting these two into a 1-night affair.

And then the big moment, two weeks out, we're gonna get started in T5 country with Serpent Shrine Cavern.

How long till November?

Making progress on Magtheridon

In a guild-first, we formed up a 25-person raid two nights in a row. You probably dont think thats much of a milestone, but for us, in the middle of summer, struggling with pre-expansion blues, its big.

And we also made more progress on the big guy. Not the kind of progress I'd really like, but we did get him down to 21% in our best attempt.

It was a blast though. Really feels like a crazy fight. I can only imagine what it was like before the semi-recent nerf, but ho hwell. Nerfed or not, he is our big obstacle right now.

One important difference about this night over previous nights was the choice of the clickers. And more importantly, the choice of the click leader. We made sure that it was all in-guild clickers who we trust (both skills and latency) and one out-of-guild clicker who has done the job several times before and was confident. For click leader, the big change was to have someone besides the Raid Leader perform the job. In previous night, I served as both RL and Click Lead, and it was just too much to handle. Before the raid, I got the officers together and asked them to nominate a person, who wasn't me, for the job.

The click leader was almost exclusively concerned with watching Maggy's cast bar. The moment the boss de-selected the tank, it was time to call out for clicking. As soon as the interrupt was successful, he called for the clicking to end. He was spot-on with his timing and communication.

I was one of the clickers. It was reasonably straightforward, although it was some what stressful when Magtheridon's bouncy move would get you out of position. Also gimped me by about 200-300 DPS, so looking forward, may want to pick someone else for the benefit of the raid. Part of that gimp was due to not really getting appropriate attention from any healers, so I was bandaging pretty much every time the cooldown was up.

We did figure it out though and were reliably interrupting most Blast Novas through the night.

We did much more tweaking of the small things. Maybe some of these tips will help any new guilds coming across Maggy.

Short on tanks, we needed to free some people up to help contain the Abyssals. So we put one tank on the first Channeler, and a second tank on the next two Channelers. Previously, we had our Main Tank handle the first two Channelers. The reason for this switch was to free up that first tank more quickly so she could handle Abyssals. And we had proven to ourselves that we very reliably had those first 3 (and 4th and nearly 5th) Channelers down before Magtheridon became active. This helped tons.

Once that first mob was down, we all moved over to the Main Tank who was handling 2 Channelers. We were DPS'ing the X, and he was also tanking the blue square. In early attempts, square was healing X with Dark Mending, so I adjusted and had a Rogue and a Mage go directly to the blue square and interrupt everything they could, and not participate in DPS on the X. Worked like a champ, Dark Mending pretty much never got through.

Ultimately, it was the Officer's night to mess things up.

In one attempt, our Tanking Officer started the pull when he was on 3 of his countdown from 5...0. Wipe.

In another attempt, our Healing Officer had a momentary brainfart and forgot to heal, resulting in MT death shortly after Maggy activated. Wipe.

In another attempt, our Guild Master and Lead Clicker forgot to press his push-to-talk button when calling out the signal for the clickers to begin clicking. Wipe.

In my personal favorite (read: least fav), our Raid Leader got nailed by some effect that pinned him in place, about a millimeter out of range of being able to click his cube. Wipe. With Maggy at 21% and the raid going really strong at that point.

I was really upset that I messed that one up. We really had good momentum, carefully managed the transition past 30% and the roof collapse, and nearly the whole raid was still alive, in good health, and enough mana to bring Magtheridon to his knees. If I had only positioned myself directly behind the cube, rather than behind-and-to-the-left of the cube, I'm confident it would have been a boss kill.

After that attempt, we had two failed attempts that never really got off the ground. I think everyone was getting tired and losing focus, so I called it a night.

On another note, one strange thing happened that has me, wearing my RL hat, puzzled. Early on in the 21% fight, a solid DPS player died. Unclear of if it was due to pulling aggro on a Channeler, or if he got nailed by 3 shadow bolt thingies from 3 different Channelers simultaneously. Irrelevant. He was dead very early on. Our only Druid calls out on voice "Amava, you want me to battle rez [dead guy]?" "No"

I needed to save the battle rez for later in the fight, in case one of our two Maggy-capable tanks went down, or for a healer.

Short while later, while the fight was still going on, [dead guy] disconnected. Could have been a hardware/network issue, but I find the timing suspicious. He's otherwise a great member of the team, has traditionally never been involved with drama or spiteful behavior, but this one will require some attention, because I won't tolerate that.

In the end, the night really built our spirits up. We showed that we know and have exactly what it takes to kill Magtheridon, and had the whole team stretch and adjust and accept a variety of different roles and small performance tweaks along the way.

I'm pretty stoked and can't wait to get back in there. Hopefully wednesday will be the night!!!

Slow down there, guy

Not that any strange lapses in posting or chronological and logical gaps between large walls of text would be a surprise around here, but I'm trying to make the best of a new-ish work situation, and therefore am going to put the large bulk of blog reading and writing to the side.

Hopefully that'll mean less fluffy brain dumps, and more focus on quality or whatever.

Sorry to disappoint, I know everybody's itching for some Amava.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More random thoughts: selling cloth

Seems that something went crazy with the market for Netherweave Cloth on the Terokkar AH.

Netherweave Cloth used to be a staple, list it for the Auctioneer Recommended value, sells every time. Maybe a random dry spell here or there when no buyers are around.

But its gone insane now. I'm listing such that the price leaves me making only a small profit over the alternative of making Heavy Netherweave Bandages and reaping 6g per stack by vendoring those.

And nothing is selling.

I've got two entire Guild Bank tabs filled with Netherweave Cloth.

That's quite a bit of cloth. One tab is on purpose, as I was saving it in case I ever decided to keep expanding Amava's family and leveling up her Priesty brother's tailoring. The other tab is just housing all the expired AH listings.

Its the damn Isle of Quel'Danas, I tell ya.

Curse that place, its flooding the market with too much cloth.

I suppose I'll have to see if any guildies need it, and if not, just put Amava on autopilot, making stacks and stacks of bandages.

Random thought: battle animations

Playing a Hunter, my standard solo action involves sending in my pet, allowing between 1-2k threat build up, depending upon how aggressive I feel, and then opening fire. Sometimes Aimed Shot, just because I love the ricochet sound fx played by Critical Alert, or more sensibly with a serpent sting and a steady/auto rotation.

Not a whole lot of fun visually in this routine. Perhaps the best part is watching my Ravager Condoleezza scuttle about when she does a Dash, usually when she's 90% of the way to the mob already, lol. Wasted Cooldowns, FTW!

However, playing my now level 28 Protection Paladin, its a bit different visually.

The best is when she's facing off with mobs that are substantially larger than her.

This morning, fighting in Ashenvale, against the Satyrs in the northeast.

They're pretty big, but not unrealistically so. Rotate the camera so you kinda look up at them for full effect.

And when my Pally dodges or parries, it just looks so cool.

And the shield? Sweetness.

Her body positioning, posture, arm movements, shield blocking, all look pretty realistic. Well, I have no idea what "realistic" means, since I've never witnessed any real sword & shield combat IRL, but it at least matches my imaginary vision of what that kind of combat should look like. Maybe too static, as I doubt someone in a real life situation just stands there trading blows, but we're dealing with a certain fantasy aspect here, ppl.

And its a good thing its visually appealing, because unlike the Hunter, whose visually boring fight lasts 4 shots, with the Paladin, its 30 seconds of beautifully animated battle sequences, just to kill an equal level mob.

BG as a Low Level Hordie

The Olympics show up, and along with them, a tabard and companion pet.

So the GF and I decide to take our first step into Horde BG. Her first step into BG entirely.

What a hoot.

I was a level 26 Prot Paladin and she was a lvl 27 Elemental Shammy at the time, so we clearly were not a big help to our teams, getting pwned by 29's left and right.

But lots of fun.

I have absolutely no idea how to play Paladin in PvP. Hell, i was slamming my #2 button while following flag runners to Wing Clip / Raptor Strike them. :-)

Did a little healing, got spanked.

Tried grabbing the flag and running it back, got spanked.

Tough not having an instant-cast heal. At least the gf could ghost wolf and run ahead of the FC and then heal as they run past. If I got CC'd at all, no real chance of catching up to the pack and contributing.

Did enjoy casting Blessing of Freedom and the occasional bubble on flag carriers.

Got a loser's tabard, which is fun to wear, for no real reason, but its ugly which I like.

Now, we're thinking of heading back in at level 29 to see if we cant eeek out a win and a companion pet before dinging into the next bracket.

Open PvP is more Inclusive than PvE

Tobold writes about guild hopping and other such goodies in a recent post. Near the end, he covers the idea of open PvP being more inclusive than PvE.

I couldn't agree more.

In PvE, you need a very specific number of players, and each encounter requires a very specific type of classes and gear levels. If you don't get enough people to show up, you can't raid. If you get enough people to show up, but they're all Hunters, you can't raid. If you get enough people to show up, but they've all got different levels of gear, you likely can't raid. If you get too many people show up, some people have to sit out. If you are half way through a raid and a player has to leave, unless you've got spares waiting around, your raid is done.

This aspect is the completely and totally exhausting part of raiding for me. I have no trouble farming for mats, researching encounters, honing my skills, ensuring my gear is repaired and my bags are packed. I do have trouble finding the proper 25 toons at the right time. Several times a week.

Contrast this with PvP.

I've never really participated in open PvP, but how about pre-made Battlegrounds?

Some of the most fun I've had in WoW is playing in pre-made Battlegrounds.

Form up a raid group. Who really cares about composition. Sure, its nice to have a couple healers. Its nice to have some tanks for flag carrying or NPC tanking. But, if you get 10 hunters to show up? Why not give WSG a shot? Or enter EotS for a partial pre-made.

Or, how about if you get your perfect 15 players and you're rocking and rolling in AB? You've got a nice blend of classes, specs, whatever. And somebody's mom comes into their room and yells at them to get off the computer and clean up the mess they left in the kitchen?

If you're in a PvE raid, the raid will stall at best, or maybe even totally stop, dependent upon the specialized role of that player and the availability of subs.

Playing in a BG? Ok, maybe find a replacement, or maybe just let Blizzard fill in the spot for you.

With BG's you still suffer the issue that if you get too many players, somebody will have to sit. Sure, if you have 15, and another shows up, you can go play AV, but if you're specifically farming EotS, then somebody's out. Those left out are not exactly up sht's creek though, since they can just PuG BG while they wait for a pre-made spot to open up. But in theory, the'll be excluded from the Guild activity.

Now look at open PvP, like assaulting an enemy capital or sieging a Keep in Warhammer Online? The more the merrier. Come one, come all, lets go rumble.

The key to opening up PvE raiding to the masses will be to bridge this gap. Allowing 10-man versions of all the WotLK raids is a step in that its easier to find 10 than it is to find 25, but you still need specific roles, and if 11 show up, someone is going to be left out.

Clicking in...3...2...1...Click

Fresh Exhausted from my interesting night of "sleep" camping in a thunderstorm, I return home just in time for a 25-person raid.

Well, actually just in time to go buy a new dog leash, and then the raid.

See, the dog took umbrage to the fact that during one of the 30 minute sunny periods he was left tied to a tree while we went fishing. He told me what he thinks of that, and chewed through his leash, only to run around terrorizing the surrounding camp sites until we were able to wrangle him in. Thanks, pup, like we're not having enough fun already on this trip. Only to be trumped later when, amidst a giant thunderous downpour, the two dogs decide to start playing rough and accidentally tear down the awning/tent that we were all taking shelter under. Once again, thx pup.

So I make it home and get ready to raid.

Not looking good with only 13 signups and only 12 logged in an hour before start time.

Well, ok, I'd actually rather watch some Olympics than do a raid tonight anyways because, other than fencing, all the outfits are pretty skimpy, and the athletes take pretty good care of themselves, lol I like the sense of international spirit and people pushing their limits.

Raid time gets closer, 20 people from the Guild on, some friends available, lets go see what we think of Magtheridon.

First pull was 30 minutes later than scheduled start time which was annoying, but oh well.

If anybody has been reading this blog for a while, you may recall that back in January, when we were progressed maybe 2 bosses into Karazhan with one team of 10 people only, we decided to raid Magtheridon as a team building exercise. Ended up being a team crushing exercise, but oh well. Water under the bridge, however we did clear all the trash which is actually something to be pretty proud of given the fact that most people were in greenies, not even bluies at that point, and very few had ANY raiding experience at all.

So, we return to seek revenge.

Such fun to waltz through the trash like it was nothing. All the players who were present in January had a good laugh at that.

Took a while to explain the fight.

A few people had seen the fight before, but nobody had ever done the job of cube clicker.

So, I chose three of the tanks who won't need to be tanking, and two very responsible Mages as clickers.

We all knew the general idea of clicking to interrupt Blast Nova, but nobody had an idea of the precise timing of when to do the click.

So we started up, cleared the Channelers easily. On our best attempt, we had 4 channelers down and were started on the 5th when Maggy activated, so our DPS was on the money.

Cube clicking.

Uggy uggy uggy.

We successfully interrupted Blast Nova twice during 5 attempts.

Just couldn't get it nailed.

At first it was probably due to confusion about the Deadly Boss Mods timers. Not really sure when to do it.

As the night went on, I think I figured out that there was a long DBM timer for Blast Nova Cooldown, followed by an 11 second timer for Casting Blast Nova.

I started my countdown of "Clicking" as soon as that 11-second timer started.

Doing it that way, we interrupted twice, but all other times, failed and wiped.

I'm thinking it was down to execution, rather than a badly timed countdown, because I started looking for the purple beams to show up and wasn't seeing all 5, so somebody was messing up.

Best attempt was Maggy to 75% after 3 Blast Novas (first two successfully interrupted), so I think we have all the raid-wide stats and ability, just need to master the clickery.

Gonna try again Monday night, so hopefully we'll get another 25 together and really try this out.

Probably will try with a different set of Clickers. Not the ideal players, because I'd ultimately want these folks to be all-out DPS'ing, but until we figure out how to properly interrupt Blast Nova, we may have to try something drastic.

Real Life Elemental Shaman Rite of Passage

In WoW, a leveling toon is wise to sleep at an Inn. Nothing beats the bonus XP you get while rested. Well, used to be that nothing beats it, however the new recruit-a-friend program gives even more, but forget that for the moment.

Once you hit 70, not quite as important to sleep at an Inn, but my experience this weekend pretty much convinced me that Blizzard needs to give some boost for a good night's sleep, regardless of level.

Went camping IRL.

Only one night. This should be easy.

Coupla fishing poles, a bag of marshmallows, some steaks to char on a stick.

Four kids between 3 yrs and 9 yrs old.

Two dogs between 1 yrs and 5 yrs old.

Two adults between 32 yrs and 39 yrs old.

Good times ahead. This should be easy.

One thunderstorm between 36 hrs and 48 hrs long.

To be fair, it was more of a teasing thunderstorm than a sustained one.

See, the sun would shine brightly, blue skies, birds chirping, kids laughing, tails wagging.

Seconds later, the darkest of dark clouds would roll in, the winds would kick up, and rain drops the size of grapefruits started falling. Kids definitely not laughing. Tails tucked way down between drenched, furry legs.

20 minutes later, the sun shining, blue skies, birds chirping, kids laughing, tails wagging.

Repeat this hourly for two days. Anytime we got the fire going again, enough to dry out the surrounding fire pit and allow the fire to get big enough to cook on or dry out clothes, then wham-o, down she pours.

'Cept for night time.

Then the sustained rolling thunder was simply unreal. The ground was shaking.

The lightning bolts were visibly hitting the ground and the lake 200 feet away.

Both incredibly spectacular and utterly terrifying at the same time.

I kept telling myself that an Elemental Shaman was undergoing some rite of passage, and the heavens were opening up to celebrate.

Soaked to the bone, trying to keep the kids and dogs something close to calm. Maybe 2 hours sleep total, scattered here and there in 15 minute increments.

Bottom line:

(A) we ultimately were able to cook the steaks. outrageous.

(B) at the end of the trip, my daughter's first camping experience ever, which at moments was a huge nightmare, she says...

"Daddy, I like camping, can we do it again?"

Sure thing, peanut, anything for you :-)

You mean I'm supposed to be out front?

Ran Shadow Fang Keep and Wailing Caverns for the first time each.

As a level 24/25 Prot spec Paladin.

It truly is strange standing in the front of the party.

As we turn a corner to a new room, I'm supposed to run into the mobs and bring them over to the party.

When a mob is loose and running rampant, I'm supposed to bring them back.

Eerie as hell, but a giant learning experience.

In even this short stint in my tanking career, some quickies I learned:

1) DPS'ers, respect the damn kill order. Your tank will be laying the highest threat moves on the first mob in the kill order. Don't be a silly goose and pull the other mobs.

2) If your tank is out of mana, sit your ass down and be nice. Maybe even dance with him.

3) Hunters, turn growl off. You're not special because you can pull aggro with your pet.

4) Let the tank walk out front. If for no other reason than common courtesy. Or for the more practical reason of letting the tank be the one who discovers, and aggros, hidden or patrolling mobs.

5) Start a pull before the tank is ready and you've just given your tank the biggest power in the game, he gets to choose whether you live or die. I allowed one warning. After that, you die. I let this one warlock die 7 or 8 times in the 2.5 hours we were playing together.

6) If you are playing a druid who specifically answered the call of "LFM WC, need healer then gtg" (A) you should actually drop a heal every now and again, and (B) if I catch you in bear form taunting aggro off of me, you're getting removed from the group immediately.

That's about all I've got to say about that.

Playing tank was fun, twould be even more so with a group faced with a challenging instance at an appropriate level for the instance, and therefore was paying better attention to doing their jobs.

Alts + Beer = Fun in Kara

Finally got the other officers in the guild to agree that it would be good to form up a team of the 10 highest performing toons in the guild and make some serious push into ZA.

Of course, the summer being what it is, we only had 5 of those folks show up.

So we formed an alt raid for Kara.

And we drank lots of beer.

And had a blast.

Guild's main tank respec to Fury.

Holy priest tries out Shadow for first time since level 55.

Somebody's Bear alt tries tanking Kara for first time.

Another persons Priest alt sees if she can keep us alive.

For giggles, here's what Curator looked like.....

Why LW?

Lacking anything else interesting to talk about today, I figured I'd justify to myself share with you why I keep Leatherworking at this point.

As far as I see it, there's three probable reasons a person would be a LW:

1) To craft gear they can wear to benefit their own toon.

2) To craft gear and item enhancements to provide for others or sell for profit.

3) They like to play the drums.

Probably more reasons out there, but these, specifically #3, are the biggies.

So for Amava to keep LW, lets see which of these apply....

#3) I do enjoy the drums, but with only one other LW in the guild, who's raid attendance is spotty, its not like we're stacking LW's to chain cast and keep a permanent haste bonus on any raid groups. Its a small buff to my own group on boss fights, which is nice, but very few players that typically end up in my group know how to alter their shot/spell/attack rotation to make best use of the 30 seconds of haste, so the benefit of this one is minimal. Fun sound effect though.

#2) Occasional tips for crafting Nethercleft and Nethercobra legs, nice to provide them free to the Guild and friends, and a couple entry-level BoE patterns for druid healy gear that I picked up have been crafted for friends. No where near the profit required to consider this one a valid reason for me, and also no where near enough goodwill from hooking friends up either.

#1) Having leveled up to 70, getting my toon epic'd out from drops, badges, rep, and pvp, I've never personally equipped anything I've crafted, save for a couple leg armor packs as my gear upgrades. This one is currently not the driving force behind my LW.

So what gives? Three good reasons to be a LW, three reasons that Amava really doesn't get a large benefit from any of them.

Well, I'm banking on the hopes that reason #1 will once again become important in WotLK.

By the time I started playing WoW, Blizz had pretty much made LW obsolete. All the entry-level epic sets you hear more old school players talk about were practically useless by the time I started raiding Karazhan.

But, a few months from now, when I'm sporting a fresh level 80 character, perhaps there won't be quite the plethora of options available for preparing a toon for raiding. Maybe at that point, it'll be beneficial to craft a set of BoP epics via LW.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The server will restart in 0:15 seconds

You ever been logged in to WoW when they're taking the servers down?

Tuesday mornings. Planned maintenance. You're vaguely aware that a restart is coming, but you're merrily involved with your questing or grinding or whatever.

Then you get that rude awakening.

The server will restart in 15:00 minutes.

Now your sense of urgency kicks in. You start to quest a little faster. You start pulling more mobs a little bit more recklessly.

With each passing minute-long tick, your heartbeat increases, your sense of urgency heightens.

Then the real fun. At the 5 minute mark, they nail you every 15 seconds.

And it becomes frantic.

What can you accomplish before the shutdown?

The race against the clock.

Logged in this tuesday morning with about 2 hours before reboot time.

Was about 6,000 rep away from Consortium exalted.

Zaxxis Insignias in the Heap was the calling. Grinding grinding grinding. Slaughtering mobs. All morning. Chain pulling, keeping mend pet running, misdirecting more mobs whenever the cooldown was up, keeping snake traps up to grab as many mobs as I can, bestial wrath, rapid fire, blood lust brooch.

I was pushing so hard, I was actually chugging Fel Mana Pots from time to time to eliminate any downtime between pulls.

Making great progress, lots of Zaxxis Insignias, lots of Etherium Prison Keys. Nice.

Then the 15 minute mark comes along.

I'm 2,000 rep short, but I have enough mats in my bags to get 1,500 of it.

Cool, just need to grind out 20 more Zaxxis to get the remaining 500 rep.

Took 7 minutes.

Fly on up to Area 52 and cash in the Zax. Fly on over to the north west where you can do the Prison Keys.

For anybody unfamiliar, you use a Prison Key to let out a hidden prisoner. Sometimes its a bad guy, you kill him, and he drops a ticket that's redeemable for 250 Consortium rep. Sometimes its a good guy who smiles at you, and grants you roughly 500 rep with a random faction, not necessarily Consortium. The good guys don't give you the ticket for Consortium turn-in.

I need 313 rep to ding Exalted at this point. I've got two keys in my bag.

The 5-minute mark for the reboot comes up.

Use the first key.

Bad guy. w00t. Kill. Loot ticket worth 250 Consortium rep.

Use last key.

DOH. Good guy. Would have granted 500 Cenarion Expedition rep if I wasn't already exalted with them.

Grrrrrrrr. Not that it matters, because I'm only grinding Consortium rep for the sake of doing it. No real reward I need, maybe just the bigger monthly gem bag.

4 minutes left.

KK, why not give it a shot. See how many Zaxxis I can grab before the reboot. Just for fun. No way you'll have time to fly to the Heap, grind out 10, then fly back to Area 52 for the win.

I land at the Heap with 2:15 to go.

Grind grind grind.

Best. drop. rate. ever.

Only had to kill 13 mobs. Got all 10.

With 0:45 to go.

Heart is racing.

Took 30 seconds to fly up to Area 52 and cash in the last stack.

Ding Exalted.

The server will restart in 0:15 seconds

Maybe I'll go check out their faction vendor and see if I get anything nice. Perhaps a leatherworking pattern that's long since obsolete?

Sporegaar, you're up next. I want that 'shroomy tabard.

Its our JOB to make Command Decisions

Sure has been quiet over here. What's the deal?

Maybe burnout.

Maybe spite.

Maybe summertime.

Maybe pressures of trying to help run a guild.

Maybe annoyances with impatient people.

Maybe jaded feeling from a few recent ship jumpers.

Maybe hatred for Blizzard's Arena queuing mechanism which still has me facing Hands of Adal and Challenger/Rival teams, 6 weeks into Season 4, rated at 1450.

Probably all of those.

I think summer and pre-expansion blues has hit my guild square in the nuts.

We've been raiding 10-man content since January 2008.

We just started raiding 25-man content a month ago.

Some people are adamant about getting their last piece or two from Kara.

Some people rather not visit Kara anymore.

Some people have been farming early ZA for months, and are itching to push further. This would require consolidating more of the Guild's talent onto that ZA progression team. Doing so would leave the remaining players without most of the leadership that keeps the raid together, so we haven't made that difficult decision yet.

Some people are still playing for gear. Gear that has a guaranteed shelf life of no longer than November 2008.

Some people are playing for content. Content that will be rendered obsolete in a few months, nothing more than a passing fancy to be visited by 15 level 80's sometime in mid 2009.

A week ago, we had the best-ever guild turnout of 23 raiders. We had a tough time in Gruul's Lair, but stuck together, tried some different strats tailored to the specific people in attendance. We got the job done and killed Gruul, starting only 15 minutes late, but ending 30 minutes past bedtime.

A week later, Magtheridon on the schedule, only 16 people show up. Combination of vacations, active military duty, ship jumping, new girlfriends who don't let their boys raid (lol, not mine, she's uber. And her Orc shammy is gettin pretty bad@ss), and I think that's it. So no raid. Amava went and grinded some Kuranei rep.

The night following the canceled Maggy, only enough show for a single 10-man upper Kara run. So Amava went and grinded some Consortium rep.

Sorta feels like we're a bit too late in the WoW lifecycle to make a serious push at 25'ers.

Seeing BRK's Aetherial Circle posting that even well established 25-person team is struggling, well, gives me minimal hope for our brandy-@ss new raid.

For the foreseeable future, I think my heart is in Zul'Aman, and I only hope I can convince the officers and members that consolidating talent into a progression team is the right thing to do, and is not meant to be elitist or arrogant or sticking with a clique.

Professional Hockey teams have four lines of offense. Only one group of three players gets to be on the starting line. Only a few players get picked to work on the power play, or to play shorthanded. The coach, with the help of his assistant coaches and team captain, is responsible for making that decision. The guys who don't get selected for the first line sometimes get upset at the choice, but in the end, they realize that on any line, they have an important role to play for the team. And if they truly desire a position on the starting team, they bust their tails during practice, watching game films, studying their opponents, working out between seasons, enchanting their gear lol.

When picking DPS for upper Zul'Aman, difficult choices have to be made. If half your team is only outputting 600 DPS on Nalorakk, Halazzi is simply not an option.

I guess I'm just ho hum at the concept of farming kara, farming early ZA, all the while, seeing that there's suitable talent in the guild to push further if the other officers would just agree that its OK for us to make the command decision to consolidate the highest performers and kill some progression bosses.

Nay, its not OK. Its our JOB to make command decisions.