Thursday, July 30, 2009


EDIT: minutes after I wrote this post, I went to my rss reader and saw Daxenos Open Letter to Amava, and died a little inside. Thx for the post, you made me smile big time. Ok, so the dying inside thing was a bit of an exaggeration.

Here's the long awaited "farewell" post. And I'll try to do it with my favorite wall o' text style (jump to the mushy emo stuff if you don't want to hear the full story)...

Starting this week, I've retired from raiding and WoW blogging. The blogging retirement has been informal for a while, so lets make it offical with this post.

And too bad there isn't a 401k or pension to cash in on, but I suppose the payout is with the most valuable of resources: time.

Why the change?

The change stems from three big factors, in no particular order:

1) The Hunter is just no longer fun in raids. None of the raid specs has a rotation that feels natural or intuititive. Ulduar is very pet unfriendly. The end result is a need to continuously stare at cooldowns for whatever priority shot is available next, and continuously micromanage my pet and hope my fellow raiders dont blow up any Mimiron mines and one-shot the little furry guy.

On relatively stationary fights (think Iron Council), my DPS output is excellent, so you know the potential for the class, my gear, and my skill level is there. However, on high mobility fights like Hodir or XT hardmode, its as if I didn't even bring my bow to the raid, autoshots barely ever fire and you can kiss your 4 piece tier 8 bonus goodbye because you're never going to stand still long enough to cast a steady shot. I tell ya, the second you find a cosy fire, the ceiling caves in and you have to cancel your steady shot mid-cast.

And then I wont even get into people who analyze DPS performance on Freya. In your raid, do you ever see DPS nuking her while she's still got massive HoT's rolling because there's still 4 waves of her minions left to go? Yeah, that data goes straight into the damage done reports, but gets instantly healed the moment the spell strikes. And lol at anybody who says "i'm activating my trinket". Sure, I believe you. I do. No really, we all believe you. But I digress, that's not a Hunter thing, but rather relates to #3 below.

Bottom line, none of the Hunters I raid with say they're having very much fun with the class lately.

2) The summer schedule is interfering with family time. Prior to the summer, my daughter would be in bed before raid invites, so I'd be able to properly tuck her in and have quality bedtime rituals that will hopefully give memories that will last her lifetime. With the summer's arrival, her schedule changed and she's awake later now, so I've had to miss some of this.

Prior to this schedule change, the biggest family impact was to my time with the uber gf. Amazingly, she's got the patience and caring to support me through 3 or now 4 nights of raiding per week for the last year and a half, which I'm truly thankful for. Hell, shes so awesome she even helps me farm saronite for the endless supply of arrows 4 raids per week burns through.

But now raiding is taking me away from all the people closest to me, and that is unacceptable.

3) My guild and I have diverged in our views of what makes a high performing team. What kind of communication, what kind of feedback, what kind of leadership, what kind of command presence during combat, what kind of coaching fixes under-performance, what kind of individuals should make up that team.

It'd be fun to write a scathing post chock full of drama. When I go back through my volumes of unpublished material, I find I often went that route, and its likely at the heart of why I stopped posting because I don't want to bad mouth anybody. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant, but how we conduct ourselves is.

I did my best to share my ideas on how a team should work via conversations on vent, text chat, guild forums, even one visit in-person with my guildmaster (Coincidentally had to make a business trip to the city where he lives. We had prime rib and beer and talked about So You Think You Can Dance. It was fun). Not everyone, but enough of the vocal players of the guild have views that are dramatically different from my own, enough so that we are no longer compatible on the same team.

So the best course of action is to remove myself from the situation before things become toxic for all the people involved.

How does it feel?

When you take the three items above, it is a pretty obvious decision to make: stop raiding.

You ever read or see Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring? You remember when Bilbo has to give THE ring over to Gandalf? And he has that moment of hesitation, where he knows what he needs to do, but there's something inside him trying to make him stop? And then he does it and drops the ring on the floor and walks away?

The feeling he expresses at that moment is the only way I can describe the sense of relief at sending the email to the GM saying I'm done raiding.

I'm sorry if it puts the team in a temporary bind as they look for players, since they've actually had to cancel a raid recently, and had to cut one back to just a few easy-mode optional bosses to finish a raid week that should have ended with General V, Yogg, and Hard Mode IC. But again, I digress.

The guild deservedly has a fantastic reputation on our server, and has a strong track record of success. Plus, the GM has a very public spot in the WoW community, so attracting players is not quite the challenge that a run-of-the-mill guild is faced with.

I hope to read at WoM about continuing success through the few remaining Ulduar hardmodes, the new Coliseum (soon), and what ever lies beyond. It remains a great team, so I expect nothing less.

So what now?

Stopping raiding and blogging is in no way a slow-down to my WoW action.

Still love the game, and quite frankly, removing the social constraints of locking in 3-4 nights per week actually makes me want to play the game more.

However, I'll be playing it in 100% casual mode.

EDIT: Funny that Daxenos wrote his Open Letter to me today, because I've actually been holding onto his ideal for enjoying the game at a casual pace and not letting that sense of urgency dominate the play time as it seems to always do. When it feels like I'm in a rush to get something done, I'll put it down and do something else, just on principle. Go go Tango lessons!

Gotta go AFK, no problem.

Want to go see an outdoor play at the little park across the street from my house that only runs on raid nights, no problem.

Uber gf wants a quick piece, no problem.

Want to watch So You Think You Can Dance on the actual night it airs so that you don't need to invoke a cone of silence of all media channels for the day or two following an episode lest some radio DJ spill the beans on who got voted out, no problem.

Uber gf wants a not-so-quick piece, no problem. Well, at least no schedule problem :-)

Here's what I suspect is in my WoW future:

1) Amiva the Insane: I've been working on the rep grinds for Insane in the Membrane achievement for about 6 weeks now. Projecting out the remaining requirements and my own schedule, I'm estimating I'll ding Amiva the Insane during the October Darkmoon Faire.

The real question is am I completely off my rocker and going to follow up with Moodyswinger the Insane? The jury is still out.

2) Alts: As part of The Insane, you need to pickpocket 1405 (yes, you read correctly, fourteen hundred and five) junkboxes. Only a Rogue can do it, so I levelled one up to 68. And wouldn't you know it, I actually had fun.

Why was it fun leveling this alt as opposed to some other toons in the past? Because I have no end-game goals for this girl. If she took a year to get to 68, I wouldn't have cared a whiff.

I'll probably end up with like 10 level 80 toons by the time I'm done with this game. Or maybe just 3.

3) Casual Raids: I might find myself in an off-night naxx raid here or there. Or a VoA or an OS. Who knows, after everybody out-gears Ulduar, maybe I'll go back in there for a night.

But nothing scheduled or repeating.

4) Gold: I'm nearing 50k, earned via a combination of gathering high level herbs and ores, daily questing, selling the looted stuff from close to 300 dire maul runs (part of The Insane), and also buy/craft/sell value-added manufacturing of crafted goods.

I've got a very loose goal of hitting 100k before I quit the game, but that just sort of happens along the way, so no pressure, which is nice.

5) Battlegrounds: I love healing BG's on my druid. She's maxed out on No-Arenas-Required pvp gear right now. When the new arena season starts and the next tier of pvp gear becomes available from BG's, I'll probably hit the queues again like a crazy man.

6) Healing Heroics: I healed a few VoA's. I didn't like it one bit. I healed a few heroics. Its kinda fun. My favorite thing is letting an aggro-hungry Mage die when he refuses to (A) assist the tank and (B) stop with the nukes if he's close to the tanks threat level. I think its up to the healers of the world to teach people proper threat management via stopping fixing stupid mistakes, and I'm doing my part, one Mage at a time.

7) Rep Grinds: I dunno, I just kinda like zoning out and grinding sometimes. Its relaxing. I recently did the Explorer's League one-and-only daily quest for the 137th time, dinging Exalted and putting me at 38 factions.

Next up will be Ravenholdt, but only after roughly 1300 more junkboxes pickpocketed, which will be 39 factions.

40 is the big one, with "the Exalted" title. If I continue down the Insane path, it'll be Shendralar that dings me that. However, I need to loot 40 more librams for that. Took me close to 300 Dire Maul runs to net those first 42 librams, so who knows how long this mutha will take.

I might take a quick diversion to do Cenarion Circle as my 40th, and the Guardian of Cenarius title that comes with it. I like multiple simultaneous achievement dings, so I'm leaning towards this one next.

After that, I'll start jumping into every Black Temple and Mt Hyjal raid I can find to get Asstongue Deathsworn and Sands of Time exalteds.

Then maybe I'll take a look at more old-world raid reps, which I really don't know a whole lot about. As long as I can solo stuff on my druid tank with my Hunter following, I can solo my way to most of these.

8) Fishing for Profit: I fish a lot. I've been providing the fish feasts to my guild since fish feasts were introduced to the game. Some guildies chip in some fish here or there, but most of it comes from my pole (ewww).

Well, its time to fish for me now. Stacks of the ingredients for fish feast go for close to 50g if you time your auction right.

And I kinda want a turtle mount.

I also want that damn sewer rat, but it's not very lucrative to fish in there.

Anything else on the video game front?

If anybody knows a good current Realtime Strategy Game (like Warcraft II, or C&C, or Dune 2 from back in the day), drop me a line. I've got some room in my schedule for another game :-)

Or if any of my readers (you know who you are) wants to play some Rock Band, we can probably make that happen.


That's all, folks!

So this is goodbye. /tear

Last night was my first raid I was sitting out from.

While lazily taking an alt through Blades Edge Mountains, I saw the game generated announcement in my chat window that some guild just dinged the Realm First Algalon kill.

If it happened even one day earlier, I'd have felt jealous or envious or some other less-than-constructive emotion. But last night?

It echoed my relief at being off that treadmill.

Over the past nearly 2 years of blogging and 1.5 years of raiding, I've met some fantastic people and had some outstanding times with TagTeam/Kishi Kaisei during TBC, and in WotLK with Conquest.

Thank you all for reading, commenting, playing, and coming along for the ride. The experience has been memorable.


Daxenos said... can still blog!!

You know, blog about the play you saw.

Or the great time you and your offspring had watching the fireworks.

Or about the funny time you and the uber gf had with the...uh, don't blog about that...

And, I'm glad that I could throw a wrench in some sprockets for ya...

Fitz said...

LOL'd at the uber gf comments, that is seriously true. I'm married and it's still true. A piece > WOW in every sense of the word "greater."

I'd been silent until now, but I enjoyed your blog as well. I'll leave you on my favs list for a good while so if you do choose to write about anything else or casual wow, I'll probably still be enjoying it. If not, farewell and enjoy the extra time away from Conquest!

Kimbo said...

You know it is odd because over the past month or so I had to sit back and think about what I wanted and expected and maybe scale it back somewhat. I often thought I was the problem with our guild and I was the one that was pushing people harder then perhaps they were capable off.

The only way I know how to lead is the hard way. Previous guilds I was in had some very hard guild leaders and while we were successful it was a very hard and demanding place to play. I can go even farther back to the Counterstrike days and I was a very hard task master then as well.

What I found with this guild is the hard Task Master persona just would not work with this group. Too many people had other ideas that a guild could be succesful without one dominating presence in its raid. While we are some what successful in what we do now I do not think though we will ever be as successful as some of us want to be or think we can because of that.

Anyways Amava I Just want to say If I ever offended you I apologize for that. It was never my intention to do so. If you want to play casual I recommend that you stay and play on what is a pretty fantastic server for pugging raids and doing PvP. As for the future of Conquest we are kinding talking about what we want to do and what we should be doing right now so if you ever change your mind I hope you feel you can come back

Pazi said...

My hunter is after the same achievements XD, although I still "raid" 25 naxx/ulduar 2 days a week. Currently I'm completing outland-stuff like loremaster/fishing/cooking/reputation-grinds (just got my netherwing-drake two weeks ago, only 6 days from neutral to exalted - I guess they changed the egg-spawn-rate because I found 84 by just doing the dailies). I collect pets too, 72 now (looking for someone horde-side to exchange the 5 AT-pets). I do PvP to get the PvP-mounts some day. My rogue is 70 and farming tyres hand whenever I have half an hour. I created a bank-alt with his own guildbank to collect books. I soloed mechanar normal with my bear in beastmaster-mode yesterday (yes, all bosses, full clear because I need rep, it was the daily). Once I'm done with outland-stuff I'll start farming the ZG-mounts.

Do kill the mobs in dire maul too or do you try to avoid them (books drop from any mob, right?).

Amava said...

@dax - My daughter was with her mother this year for the 4th so no fireworks with me, much to my chagrin. The play was rained out, stupid outdoors venue. And me and the uber gf? Yeah, that part has been pretty cool :-) You've always played a big role in the community over here at my little corner of the Internet, and I appreciate your involvement.

@fitz - thanks for commenting and reading. Hope its been fun for you. I know its been fun for me.

@pazi - In DM key runs, I killed minimal mobs. My goal was to get a key to free Knot, hopefully get another key so that next time I come back in, I'll already have a key, and loot the tannin on the second floor. So I kill as few mobs as I can. In the process of getting Steamwheedles from 0/36000 hated to 999/1000 exalted, I looted 42 of the librams. Actually, that's a lie. I think I've bought 4 of them off the AH, so looted 38. Amazing how rare they are on my server, I check the AH at least twice a day for these babies for about 6 weeks now and only found 4.

To get the remaining 40 librams needed for Shendralar, I'll be going back in with my Druid and killing everything. When I ground the Bloodsail rep, I did it with my druid doing most of the work killing Booty Bay Brusiers, and my hunter following her. With the hunter now at exalted, the Dd is going to repair her Steamwheedle rep, up to at least neutral so she can go to goblin cities, and loot librams along the way.

Sound like a plan?

Oh, also I strayed from the "kill minimal mobs" for a little bit, because I found myself with not enough Rugged Leather to do the Tannin quest turnins. So for a while (the last 50 runs or so), I would bring in a skinner toon and kill all those hyenias in that first room of DM:N and skin endless stacks of Rugged off them bitches.

Amava said...

I'm not sure if I can even fit this into a comment, but I'll go for it anyways, I've never been one to shy away from a wall of text...

EDIT: nope, max of 4,096 chars per comment.

@kimbo - Its nice to see you write this. You never said anything to offend me regarding raid performance. I don't agree with everything you say about raids (for instance, some of the recent micromanagement conversations), but there's a big difference for me between disagreeing and being offended. Now, the things you say about general life stuff are sometimes ridiculous, but that's not what we're talking about here :-)

I still look at Conquest as an outstanding guild, led by and made up of people who are fun to play the game with. The level of success and progression the guild has seen is very good if you look from the outside, but you can tell from the inside that there is angst to do better among many players.

Amava said...

@kimbo continued....

The guild needs to take action to soothe that angst, either by shutting it up and accepting the current level/rate of progress -OR- by taking action to change the rate of progress. A guild sitting on the fence between wanting more progress but not really doing anything to make it happen is likely to be torn in two.

As I've said on our forums, I think that direct, specific feedback is the most effective. It places responsibility on the player(s) that caused a wipe. If delivered properly, the player won't feel attacked, and can focus on fixing the problem.

IMO, each wipe should be followed up by someone (maybe the raid leader, maybe someone else, but it needs to be a specific person who's name is announced at the beginning of the raid, and not just anybody who cares to speak up on any given wipe. I think IceIce would be good at this for Conquest) calmly talking through the first death or two. Who died and what was the cause of death (the names of the spells/attacks that killed them, directly from the Recount death log). This is completely objective, no reasonable person should feel offended or attacked from this because it is raw data and not somebody's interpretation. Who died, and what damage killed them.

For successful kills, any deaths should be analyzed in a similar fashion during looting. Damn, how bad I wanted Immortal from Naxx. If we had been scrutinizing deaths like this from the early days, it was within our grasp.

Even if the discussion ends there, the team (and not just the individual who died or wiped us) is able to learn from the wipe or death.

Personally, I think the conversation should continue a moment longer and include a sentence or two about what needs to be done differently. Does this player need to move quicker to avoid fire, does their class have an ability that would be useful that they might be overlooking or burning the cooldown elsewhere, or try to figure out which player lightbombed them causing them to take so much damage, or maybe player died due to acceptable/normal incoming damage (ie, wasnt standing in a fire, wasnt lightbombed by a slow-moving neighbor), so look to healing assignments and name the player who was supposed to keep them alive or the tank who didn't pick up his assignment.

If the person doing the death reporting remains calm while doing this, it can greatly improve overall team success. The people messing up either fix their issues, or if they're continuously the source of problems (night after night, wipe after wipe), it'll be very visible and they will either remove themselves from the team, or at the very least will not be surprised if an Officer approaches them after a raid and says that they need to improve or be replaced.

If a team builds this into every single wipe, it becomes habit and people get used to it. No player is being singled out. However, the fact is, we DID die and there IS a reason. So we talk about it. Every time. And if you were the first to die, or if you caused the first person to die, you will be publicly asked to fix it.

I think if Conquest puts Kimbo back in as RL, with the caveat that he keep quiet for the minute or so following a wipe while someone else (IceIce or Maller) performs the death analysis, progress would skyrocket without any other major changes.

This is my opinion of what will work given the goals of the guild, and also the personalities of the Officers and the core group of raiders.

kat said...

I've been gone due to touring and moving and such... I'll miss you, Amava :)

~ krin

Sydera said...

Hi Amiva!

I'd just like to say that I miss you in the raids. I've always agreed with your philosophy on raiding, and I wish I'd been more vocal about it.

Brio and I are firmly in the camp that wants to just accept where we are as a guild and go with it. We're not that ambitious, probably because our interest in WoW in general is waning. There's very little desire to deal with the drama, but then again, I said we were in until the expansion's done and I'm holding to that.

I think things are changing in guild, and I'm seeing more recognition of the level of guild we actually are (decent, but not record-breaking). I think that's the way to in-game happiness.

I selfishly wish you were back in the raiding corps as you were one of my favorite people. I'm holding out the hope that I'll run into you sometimes in game!

Many hugs,

Durgan said...

No longer can I live vicariously through you! Sorry to see you go Amava, was great reading your stuff, sorry I never got around to writing that guest blog for you. I've stopped playing WoW altogether myself, but still follow whats going on in the community and other blogs.

I can understand the time thing though, thats why I had to quit, the raiding situation and everything that goes along with a higher end raid guild I cannot relate to though.

See ya around, GL on getting the Insane achievement.


Silk said...

You know I checked this blog pretty much daily for the last 2 months and when I finally broke myself of that habit you posted again.

I'm not sure if you'll read this but thanks for all the content you've posted over the years. I know I've enjoyed reading your work for quite some time and I wish you all the success in the world going forward.

It looks like you've left the scene for the right reasons so don't regret it and have a great time!

Silk :)