Archive for the “Raiding” Category

Not guides, but my experiences in the field of raiding.

OK, before you begin reading this, you really do need to read Vonya’s post over at Egotistical Priest.  What I have written here was originally a comment on her post, but I discovered that I was nattering on for WAY too long, so I decided to make it a blog post.  As this is a response, I am not going to talk about the things Vonya has already discussed: that would just be boring and silly!

First and foremost, I have to admit that I am not even 80 yet (shock horror, I know!), so I don’t have personal experience in either of the Wrath raiding frontiers.  However, I have to say I have always found the ‘elitism’ that sometimes happens in the raiding community to be mildly revolting, and what Vonya is talking about here falls right into that category.

10 man raiding has always been viewed with an un-necessary level of condescension.  The ‘lolKara’ phenomenon does NOT take into account the fact that Kara was actually a difficult raid for people who were not overgeared for the encounters.  As many people have stated, 10 man raiding requires a level of co-ordination which many people do not give it credit for.  People can slack off in 25 mans easily (I myself have been guilty of that on some occasions – shhh!), while it becomes very apparent in a 10 man when someone isn’t pulling their weight, and it has a huge effect on the raid.  Does anyone remember the trouble of Moroes when the raid wasn’t in full epics?  The crowd control, the healing… it was not an easy fight.  Tanking the fight in itself was difficult at the time.  I don’t think I have ever been more frustrated with a raid boss, bar Felmyst (why did the middle have to look the same as the top or bottom!)

This ‘lolKara’ attitude has well and truly carried over into Wrath.  10 mans are viewed as PuG material, and a guild is not a true ‘raiding guild’ in most eyes unless they are raiding 25 man content.  This may just be a carry over from when most raid content WAS for larger groups, but it is a disturbing misconception that really needs to be rectified.  10 man raiding is not explicitly easier than 25 man.  This is bleedingly obvious when people are reduced to spouting ‘x encounter is harder on 25!’; ‘y encounter is harder in 10s!’  Clearly the encounters can not be perfectly tuned to be of equal difficulty in 10s and 25s – there are too many external factors.  It’s not about particular encounters, it’s about raiding as a whole.  People zoom in on specifics and lose focus of the argument at hand.

I have to say I agree with Aelinna (see her full comment on Vonya’s post) regarding drops being of a better quality in 25man raiding:

“I must say I think it’s a managerial reward. If 10s gave equal loot to 25s, most people would stop doing 25s and those that did want the larger setting and (arguably) greater challenge would find it very hard to do so. It isn’t about dissing the 10s, it’s about survival of the 25s. Blizz love the 10s, after all that audience is larger => creates more revenue. The 25s, especially the insane ones like old Naxx or SWP, are a PR piece in comparison.” 

Basically the greater reward is there for the ability to get 25 (sometimes more after swap outs, etc) people together into the same room and have most of them focus for a few hours.  It isn’t necessarily because the difficulty is that much higher.

My totally uninformed opinion – i.e. based upon what I have read and heard rather than what I have done - is that both levels of raiding are equally difficult.  Each presents its own challenges.  I arrived at this conclusion simply because too many people are vigorously stating that their level of raiding is harder (and therefore requires more skill – a less explicit form of epeening).  25 man is not the sole haven of good players, nor is 10 man the home of noobs.  The difference lies entirely in the amount of people a guild or PuG can field.

Edited to remove an errant apostrophe.  I so hate finding the wrong ‘its’ in something I wrote!

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A major aspect of any expansion release is the wave of people changing guilds.  The gear reset provides the perfect opportunity to move to a guild which is more in line with your current goals and ideas.  This is both a blessing and a burden for those who wish to change guilds – more guilds are recruiting, but there is an awful lot more competition for those raid spots.  This means you need to be impressive on all counts, and a major part of this is presenting a good application.  You could be the best player in the world – if your application sucks, no one is going to give you the chance to even test your skills.

There is a plethora of application guides out there.  By and large, my favourite is written by Auzara, GM Extraordinaire. However, sometimes you want a little more than a generic guide into how to answer it.  Think of this as your Destruction Lock Application Crib Sheet!

Each of these questions have been selected from a variety of guild applications.  I am not going to put links to the guild sites where I pinched them from, simply because they are fairly standard style questions that you will find most anywhere.  Likewise, I am not going to put answers to questions that are Warlock-irrelevant, since that would just be rehashing old ground!  My main advice for applications is to read the instructions carefully, read the questions carefully, read your answers carefully – that’s right, read the whole damn thing carefully!  I don’t know how many times I have seen people mess up the most basic instructions, and it makes me so frustrated.

OK, so here goes!

Armory Link: Not especially Warlock related, but something that I haven’t noticed anyone mention.  When you put in your Armory link, I always appreciate it if you link your talent build in WoWHead or something similar.  Why the repetition?  The Armory is not always online, and anything that speeds up the ability of the guild to assess your character is going to move things along a lot faster.

Why did you allocate your talent points where you did? 

As a Destruction lock, this is going to be a difficult one to manage.  With Destruction providing little raid utility, and less damage than Affliction, justifying your choice in sticking with Destro is going to be hard to do.  My reasoning for the spec I will be running with at 80 (initially at least, testing is not yet complete obviously) will be this:

‘My talents are chosen specifically to increase the damage I deal in a raid situation.  Specifically, I have chosen to forego Shadow based talents in recognition of Fire being the stronger school in the Destruction tree.  However, I have strengthened my Corruption and Curse of Agony in the Affliction tree as I will be using these spells constantly to try and proc Molten Core.  I have also chosen to take some talents which improve my survivability in raid situations, with Improved Soul Leech allowing me the occasional self heal, and also relieving pressure on healers when I Life Tap’.

While this may not be a perfect grade-A answer, there are a couple of things about this structure which work well.  Firstly, I talked about the tree in general, and why I overall made the selection that I did.  I then chose to highlight a couple of specific talents, and I discussed the ones which would appear to be a less obvious choice to anyone not intimately familiar with the tree.  This shows a knowledge of Warlock talents and what they are useful for, and also a knowledge of the three things we need to be successful in raiding – damage output, survivability, and utility (to a much lesser extent).

In your opinion, what do skilled players of your class and spec contribute to 25-man raiding?

This is a chance to show how well you know and love your class.  One thing which always makes me sad is when I see people answer ‘Damage!’.  There is much more to the Warlock class, and an answer that brief shows that you either don’t know your class well, or that you just can not think outside of the square.

‘Skilled Warlocks are able to contribute many things to a 25 man group.  Destruction Warlocks are able to offer a group buff (generally the ‘Blood Pact’ buff, but ‘Fel Intellect’ is also an option if required), excellent situational Crowd Control abilities through the use of Banish and Enslave, a wide variety of powerful debuffs in the form of curses, and high ranged DPS.  Destruction Warlocks are also moderately mobile with our ability to DoT targets, and need not rely on one school of damage where bosses have resistances or immunities.  Warlocks have the ability to buff their own weapons, which increases our damage output.  We also provide summons, healthstones and soulstones where necessary.

Skilled Warlocks can take advantage of these characteristics of the class and keep damage output at a respectable level, while ensuring that they do whatever a fight requires for them to survive.’

The biggest issue that I am having at the moment is that I can not think of a reason why a Destro lock would be valuable to a raid.  Quite honestly, I think that Affliction is going to be a much more viable raiding tree, with increased damage, mobility and survivability.  I expect that Destro warlocks will have to play very well in trial runs to prove their worth.  Hopefully we get some form of damage increase or more utility in the future.

You are preparing for a raid.  What do you pack?

This one is a bit of a toughy at the moment, and would require some research to discover what is best for you.  Unfortunately, I could not find a good list of Wrath Flasks and Elixirs.  Since the question is generic (that is, doesn’t name particular raids), you would probably be forgiven for not naming any particular resist or tanking gear. I would list: at least 40 shards; 2 flasks; 10 guardian and 10 battle elixirs; 2 stacks of bandages; and 2 stacks of your preferred raid food.  As a rough guide, this is what I packed for BC raiding:

- 2 Flasks (our raids ran 4 hours, and I preferred Flasks to an Elixir combo)

- 1 stack of Spell Damage Food (Blackened Basilisk/Crunchy Serpent)

- I stack of Spell Crit Food (Skullfish Soup)

- 50 Shards

- 2 Wizard Oil (Brilliant if I had the gold, Superior otherwise) (no longer relevant!)

- 10 – 20 Health Potions

I didn’t pack bandages because my First Aid sucks.  This is really not acceptable for applying to a raid guild.  I also didn’t run with a trash set/boss set of gear, I didn’t think it was necessary and my trash DPS was still significant.

Successful raiding is as much about preparation as it is about execution.  When you’re not raiding, what are you doing to prepare for challenging raids?

This question is basically there to ensure that you know the basics of preparing for a raid.  I stole this question from one of the ‘uber-guild’ forums on Cenarius.  In my mind, this means that they are expecting more than ‘I do dailies for gold and watch the videos’.  Most of the things you do in your non raiding time can be used to answer this question – you just need to put a raid related spin on it.

PvP – ‘I regularly engage in arena based PvP as it allows me to learn how to use the different abilities of my class in a wide variety of situations.  Often the creative use of abilities can translate well into PvE content, and also ensures that I do not fall into the ‘stand and pewpew’ mentality.

Dailies – ‘I spend a small amount of my play time completing dailies to ensure that I can always afford the best quality consumables and gear enhancements’

Instances – ‘I run instances to test possible specs and spell rotations.’  A big added plus in my opinion if you test regularly on test dummies.  Testing new rotations on dummies shows an element of foresight which many people forget about, and also gives you a vague idea of which rotations are most successful (but remember – often you will not have full raid buffs in testing, and you are able to stand and nuke)

Research – ‘I regularly research boss encounters on a variety of forums, and watch relevant videos of these encounters.  However, I do understand that reading a strat does not mean that strat is the only possible way to down a boss.  I also regularly read my class forums on Elitist Jerks, and other useful websites such as …(think the Warlock’s Den, etc)’ Note – please don’t put down my blog!  I really don’t think this place would be seen as an adequate research tool!  If you do link blogs, link to informative and useful posts, which are referenced very well.

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I am sure that there are many different variations of these questions on guild applications, and possibly questions which I haven’t thought of.  However, these are the generic sorts of questions which most GOOD guild applications will ask you (at least regarding playing your class, there are also many more non class related questions).  Obviously take the points I have raised into consideration, but make the answers your own.  No one wants to see a bunch of copied material, and you ultimately are selling yourself, not someone else.

SHAMELESS PLUG:  Conquest (Ner’zhul, Alliance) is a progression guild that is currently recruiting for Wrath of the Lich King 25 mans.  They are currently seeking skilled Warlocks to fill their roster.  I imagine successful applicants would have similar goals to the guild, be progression focused and have a deep knowledge of their class.  For more information, I would suggest looking at their website.

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Raiding is an interesting activity, in that everyone who is there generally wants to be there, but is motivated by end results rather than the process itself.  I often think of it as very similar to my experiences at uni – I didn’t enjoy being in classes and lectures, but I was looking forward to the end result of my studies.  The problem with this is it gets very easy to stop putting in 100% effort when you aren’t all that interested in the current process.  When you have a raid of 25 people who suddenly aren’t interested in the process… well, things can get messy.  When things get messy, progression is slowed, repair bills go up, and people aren’t happy. 

What can you, as the raid leader, class leader, or even lowly raiding peon like myself do in this sort of situation?

1.  Ensure that you show you are as motivated as possible.

Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.  Do your very best to behave in a manner which shows you are looking forward to the raid, you are prepared, and you enjoy the company of those around you.  Even if you really aren’t feeling up to scratch, bluff your way through. Encourage your fellow raid mates, and please keep the conversation over trash light hearted and fun!  You have enough of that ‘serious concentration’ stuff to worry about on the bosses – if you feel comfortable with the trash, have a bit of fun while you are doing it!

2.  Keep everything fair and above board.

This is true for all aspects of raiding.  You just goofed up?  Admit it, apologise and move on.  Some loot just dropped?  Ensure that you (and everybody else, if you are in charge) adhere to the principles of the loot system in place.  I often go above and beyond the requirements of the loot system, following the basic philosophy that I only deserve one upgrade per raid, and if someone else needs an upgrade more than I do, I’ll think twice about taking it. 

Remember, people are often motivated by the loot at the end of the fight, and if they feel their chances at loot are hindered, they wont be so motivated to do their best.  Unfair loot distribution builds distrust and resentment in raids.  Establish rules with the guild and stick to them, but never be afraid to make amendments when a loophole is found and exploited.  You know there is something wrong when you have dedicated raiders who never seem to get upgrades, or some people who just get too much.

If you haven’t researched a fight, don’t be afraid to admit it.  While (generally speaking) you should do your reading before your raiding, you can occasionally be taken by surprise and not have enough time to read up.  Ask questions!

3.  When things are looking grim, keep your chin up.

Sometimes a raid will wipe.  A lot.  Sometimes on the silliest of things!  It can be exceedingly difficult, but complaining about how useless people are, your repair bill, or the time wasted can often do more harm than good.  Don’t be afraid to criticise, but criticise in a manner which is productive.  Rather than ‘What the hell were you all doing?’, try something along the lines of ‘This is what seemed to go wrong there.  Let’s work on that for the next time’.  People aren’t perfect, and allowances have to be made.  I mentioned earlier that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.  Well, mistakes also breed mistakes.  People get nervous in an environment where yelling happens after mistakes, and more mistakes are made.  Try not to let the cycle start in the first place.

4.  Look for a way to use your damage meter effectively.

I have talked about this many times.  Simply linking a damage meter and saying Players X, Y and Z need to improve isn’t going to cut it.  More often than not, this will leave your raiders feeling anxious or upset, which will lessen their output.  It also encourages elitism in the raid, which is just outright nasty.  Also discourage excessive boasting, as this does not foster a positive group attitude.

Feel free to point out those who did well in public.  Don’t always go for the straight ‘damage/healing done’ option, either.  Comments like ‘Healer X has really improved on cutting back their overhealing!’ work beautifully.  Take notice of exactly what other people are doing, and find something nice to say about it.  Find a player who’s slacking?  Whisper them with your concerns, don’t voice them in raid.  This is the sort of job that allows your class/role leaders to really shine.

Remember, positive feedback is much more effective than criticism.  While both are necessary, always try to find a positive comment.

5.  Reward your raiders

Whether this be a reward built into your loot system, guild ranks, or even a silly fun guild event, your raiders appreciate thanks.  Dedicated raiders give up a great deal of time, and quite often for very little thanks apart from the occasional piece of loot.  Remember to include all your raiders in your thanks – thanking just the tanks and the healers isn’t going to cut it.  However, your thanks also need to be sincere.  Raiders should also thank their raid leaders, who spend a tremendous amount of time getting ready for a raid, ensuring they know every pull backwards and forwards, and getting everybody together.  If being a raider isn’t an easy job, think how difficult it is to lead all those people.  There’s a reason why the expression ‘herding cats’ is often used in regards to raid leadership.

No doubt there are things that I have forgotten to mention here.  I do not mean for this to be a comprehensive list.  These are just the basics that many people seem to forget, or just plain don’t think of.  While this may not seem especially relevant at the moment with Burning Crusade coming to a close, much of this can also be applied to 5 man instancing, and raiding in the future.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it/ It’s the end of the world as we know it/ It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Now more than ever seems to be a time for reflection.  This reflection has come in many forms, whether it be reassessing the direction your guild is taking, or contemplating creating a guild to fit your own ideals.  There have been discussions of loot management systems, levelling goals, and achievement grabbing.  My own personal thoughts have been more focused on looking back, and working out what I enjoyed and what didn’t work for me.  My time as a BC raider is coming to a close.  With one day left on my raiding schedule, this is my reflection upon my experiences as a raider so far, and the reasons why I will probably not return to 25 man raiding in Wrath and beyond.

I guess the catalyst for a lot of this was talking to a friend who quit playing the game just before BC.  I quite often teasingly ask him if he is ever going to take the game back up (knowing full well that he doesn’t have the time – he often isn’t even in the same country for more than a month).  He expressed many of the same thoughts that I myself have had, albeit from a slightly different perspective.  He would much rather do heroic 5-mans (well, until I told him they just aren’t that rewarding as an end game exercise) and 10 man raids.  If he could form a guild with some good friends and raid the 10 mans, he would be more than happy to take the game back up.   However, he had no interest in large raids and all the organisation that came along with it.

I have found that a great deal of my experiences echo his own.  The disappointment with badly organised people in raids.  The inevitable person who afk’s at a crucial moment, the know it alls, the know nothings, and the myriad of garbage that has to be put up with as a result of being in a large group.  Especially when it is a group motivated, not by their own relationship with each other, or even necessarily the prospect of having a good time, but by progression and loot. And then there is all the stuff that comes along with that…

Look at all the people’

A wonderful (yet equally horrible) aspect of WoW is that it enables and encourages us to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds and places, and people that we would not usually associate with.  This is often good, allowing us to make friends with many people, but sometimes it lands us in situations we really don’t enjoy.  We all know the pain of raiding with someone that we just plain clash with, and with people who do not know how to do their jobs.  I have played with some fantastic players who I just can not get along with on a personal level.  While we manage to knuckle down and get the job done, they do drive me just a little bananas.  On the other hand I know people who are wonderful, lovely people… and just really don’t understand the concept of not standing in the fire, or not moving during flame wreath.  Grouping with both these sorts of people in a 25 man raid environment often made the experience stressful and unenjoyable.  Most people are afraid to say it, but it’s true.  Grouping with ‘jerks’ (people you don’t like) or ‘noobs’ (people who aren’t skilled) kills the experience.  More likely than not, I also often fall into both of these categories, and drive other people bananas.

Born to Run

And Run… and Run.  Every weekend.  All Day.  Hours at a time.  Raiding does take up an enormous amount of time, and I am really beginning to question the value of this time.  Sure, it has been fun.  The things that I sacrificed to raid, well, I didn’t enjoy so much anymore.  I shop a lot less now, which is great.  I don’t go to the gym anymore, which is not so great.  Some weekends I am hesitant to do things with my friends, and that is a problem.  Ditching real life because ‘They need me this week!’ or ‘But they might get that damned boss down’ isn’t good enough for me anymore.  My computer chair has a permanent indent in it, and every week I get slightly heavier, slightly more distant from my friends, and slightly more detached from the real world.  Would I say I have a problem?  Certainly not.  Do I want this to change?  Definitely.

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

…but Epics are her everything.  Loot distribution is a gnarly problem in large scale raiding.  There’s only so much loot, and so many people who want it!   This means that generally, some form of loot management system needs to be implemented.  Unfortunately, no system is perfect.  Every system I have seen has some potential for exploitation, and none of them will work properly unless they are managed and maintained well by the guild.  Ultimately, there are 2 driving forces in end game raiding:  Loot and Content.  Players want to have shiny loot, and they want to see as much content as possible.  This means that every player wants to have the very best loot, and sometimes they will do almost anything to ensure that they do.  This causes problems when people exploit loot systems.  The person exploiting will feel well within their rights to do so, since it will be ‘by the rules’.  Other raid members will feel wronged and cheated.

Sometimes someone will get a great deal of loot.  So much loot that they really don’t need anything else from that level of raiding.  They will sometimes look for a guild that has progressed further, in their desire for loot and content.  This can also leave a guild feeling wronged.  While a person may have gear, this gear is sometimes viewed as communal guild property.  Too many people do this, and a guild is left stagnant and unable to progress.

I’ve been through both of these things, and in the latter example, been on both sides.  I’m not saying that these things won’t happen in 10 man raiding.  However, I am hoping to raid 10 man instances with some close friends that I have made over the years, and I for one am going to adopt a personal philosophy of ‘It’s just pixels and numbers’.  I have already started as best I can – I no longer run a damage meter, and I try (and unfortunately fail) at not caring about gear.  If we don’t get through more than the first level or two of raiding, well, no biggie.  I want to learn how to enjoy raiding all the time, whether it be a night of wiping it up or a night of downing bosses and getting loot.  THAT is why I am untying myself from the raiding treadmill, come Wrath.

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…Or, the correct use of Damage Meters.

Damage meters can be a wonderful tool in raids.  With the more complex meters being able to provide detailed information at the click of a button, they can be used as an effective diagnostic tool to tell when someone is slacking, and when someone is perhaps not using the best rotation.  It can also show who works the hardest in your raids, and who is performing their job well.  Excellent examples of this include showing top decursers, crowd control breakers, and DoT Uptime displays.

However.

Damage meters can also be used for evil.  Their beautiful intent can be turned to the sole purpose of epeening in front of the raid.  Examples of this include the people who consistently link the meter while they are first (often at any random point), and people who truncate the link to one or two people for the sole purpose of showing off.  Want to know something?  It doesn’t make you look good.  It makes you look like a douche bag.

Personally, I have some very strong ideas when it comes to damage meter linkage.  You want to see how you went, that’s fine.  Either run your own meter, or ask someone to whisper a link to you.  Straight damage meters should not be linked in raid chat, unless at the request of a raid leader.  Why?

They encourage people to not do their job.  All of a sudden people start slacking on critical aspects of a fight such as positioning and crowd control in order to increase their damage output.  Others forget that they should be watching the threat meter (which is infinitely more important) and pull aggro and wipe.  Of course, some people could increase their damage output.  Others are doing the best that their gear, abilities and the encounter will allow for.

So, how do we use a meter correctly?

1.  I would strongly advise having someone run WoW Web Stats.  While meters like Recount are useful for on the spot assessment, WoW Web Stats allows for a complex break down of a fight.  This is much more useful than a damage meter.  It also shows where people were afk’ing (to an extent), and what buffs they had on at what time.  For example, the ones linked below dob me in for not having flasked or foodbuffed until Bloodboil.

2.  Raid leaders should be consulted before public posting of a meter.  It keeps everyone in line, and prevents a lot of egotistical garbage.

3.  Run your own meter, but don’t use it to compare your performance to other people.  Compare your own performance from fight to fight, and note where you have improved and where you could have done better.  Always remember to allow for differences in the fights!  Example:

a) This is a WWS report from a Teron Gorefiend fight.  This fight is a simple stand a nuke (when you don’t get killed and turned into a ghost, anyhow).  My DPS is always higher on a fight where I don’t have to move around or watch for AoE.

b) This is a WWS report from a Supremus fight.  This fight requires a fair amount of movement, which makes nuking very difficult.  Yes, my DPS is overly low (I did horribly this fight).  However, most people also had lower DPS, because you spend a great deal of the fight dodging volcanoes, fire, and running from Supremus himself.  You also have to ensure you don’t have a stack of DoTs running during his phase shift back to Tank ‘n’ Spank, just in case the tanks don’t get him in time.  All this allows for a lot of lost damage.  Don’t beat yourself up too badly on high mobility fights!

4.  Don’t just look at damage meters.  Remember other useful information contained within them, such as ‘friendly damage’, ‘CC breakers’, and ‘debuffers’.  These are just as important as damage done.

5.  Please, Please don’t tell everyone to copy the spec of whoever is top of their class (especially if you don’t play that class!)  Quite often there is a reason for them to spec the way they are, and if you aren’t very familiar with their class you can come out with egg on your face.  I know someone who likes to make these sorts of comments all the time, and sometimes sounds silly because he forgets to make allowances for gear differences and other factors.  I am a firm believer of letting people play what spec they like (within reason – most raiding guilds want you to have a spec that works!), and not having all your classes specced identically.

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Today I ventured into Black Temple with the old guild for a bit of a run around. As you can see on my ‘progression’ list, pre-patch 3.0, we were at 4/9 BT. Respectable enough in my opinion for about 8 months of raiding, at any rate. Not the best of the best, certainly not high enough to escape the scoffing from those on the server who were venturing into Sunwell, but higher than most.

Today, that all changed.

gorefiend In we went, expecting things to be somewhat easier. Knowing full well that everything had been nerfed and that we wouldn’t have as hard a time of it as usual. However, things were much easier than we had thought. The first 4 bosses went down easy as pie, no wipes. It was easy to the point of total carelessness – on Teron Gorefiend we had two groups of constructs get into the raid, and we still managed to down him. We had people dying to spines on Najentus (myself included) because people were too lazy to pull them out of people, and he still died within 2 shields.

On bosses which you have already downed, it is merely amusing to watch them die so fast. On bosses you have struggled with however, it is outright annoying.

We downed 2 new bosses today: Bloodboil and Reliquary of Souls. We died on each of these once and once only. Bloodboil was a total balls-up from the beginning, with no one calling out group rotations and people dying of the debuff. Despite this, we still somehow managed to get him to 13%. The second attempt was much easier, with only one death. On RoS, the tank managed to walk down the ramp a bit before we had AoE’ed the mobs down along the way and started the event. This of course led to confusion as half the people were still killing mobs, while others were on the boss. The first and only real attempt on it went much smoother, to the point where we were confused when the fight ended.

Now, I can say in all honesty that no one complained about getting loot. Of course they didn’t. However, I also can say that I wasn’t able to take any pride in downing those bosses. There was no challenge, no real ‘fight’, and no fun in it. I was raiding well below my usual standard when it came to damage output (which I suspect had to do with issues with my new spec, spell rotation and having a new interface to adjust to while raiding), and everything was STILL disappointingly easy.

The reasoning that I have heard for the nerfs does make some sense. Yes, people need to adjust to new spell rotations and specs. My damage went down significantly (as I suspected it would – a subject for another post), but most people’s went up equally significantly. Our Boomkin and I swapped places on the meters, with myself coming towards the bottom and him at the top. The nerfs also give people an opportunity to get through some new content and see what everything looks like. However, it is difficult to take any pride in being able to down nerfed bosses. I truly feel for guilds who were struggling with Sunwell content. Sure, they might finish the raid now, but it can’t feel good knowing that those bosses would most likely still be standing if they weren’t nerfed. I am totally devastated that we got bosses down with people making horrible errors, people afking, and all in all just doing sloppy raiding. High end raiding is supposed to be about skill, coordination and team work. Today, it was about being ‘over geared’ for the encounters. Sure, our gear didn’t change. The bosses have just decided to take off their big girl panties and don clown suits. And while clowns may look scary to some people… they just aren’t that hard to kill with their water pistols and big hats. Unless it’s the clown from It perhaps.

Quick irrelevant note: I have noticed for quite some time that my posts look incredibly… odd in a reader.  Unfortunately, while they format to look all nice and pretty on the actual page, they come out looking really odd in a reader, with pictures moved all over the place.  Apologies to those who view this in a reader.  I am trying to work out a fix.

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I will try not to let the real life anger float into this blog post. I will be nice and happy, I swear (although it is hard after having some 15 year old boys spend an hour swearing at you and being little jerks).

Firstly, a small administrative issue. I was looking at my blog today at school, where they only have internet explorer on the computer (heathens!) and I noticed that all the things in my side bar had bullet points next to them. These do not show on my computer in IE or Firefox, and I was just wondering if anyone else had this issue. If you have bullet points appearing, just email me or leave a reply and let me know. I will try to find a solution, although that could be hard considering I suck at this CSS stuff.

Once again, I am inspired by Kestrel to draw yet another school/raiding parallel. Funny how it works like that! I was complaining in Twitter about the students in my class this afternoon, and Kest asked if they were in my raid. Well… it was kinda like a raid in a couple of ways.

1. Generally one kid is a ‘boss’, the rest are just trash.

Nasty sounding parallel, but it’s true. My class on a normal day has one kid who is the leader of them all, a couple of followers, some kids who are fine if you don’t do something to stir them up, and some genuinely nice kids. If you get the ring leader under control, most of the time the whole class is fine. If you don’t, the rest of them aggro as well.

2. Preparation is everything.

If you aren’t prepared for a lesson, you will wipe. Almost a 99% guarantee there. Especially in a rough class, where they will go nuts if you aren’t 100 % organised. Today was a valuable lesson in point, where I had organised a powerpoint to be projected in the room. However, a crucial cord had gone missing, which meant that the kids had to try and see it on a laptop screen. As some were too lazy to move and couldn’t see, they misbehaved. If you aren’t 100% prepared for a boss fight, he will do something that you don’t expect… just like kids!

OK, so the teaching/WoW analogies might be getting a little old… but it’s all I can think of after a stressful day! /hug everyone!

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Today Arcis continued their plunge into Mount Hyjal. While I must admit I was somewhat dubious (and disappointed) about heading in there rather than venturing further into Black Temple, it was an interesting experience to have our first go at Kaz’rogal. While we didn’t get him down, he seems to be a fairly easy boss, and I found that the trash before him is actually much more difficult. We got him to less than 20% on our first and only attempt, with three people blowing up the raid (which I found to be both stupid and disappointing).

The trash is an absolute nightmare, especially when you have not experienced it before. We had some difficulty killing waves fast enough, which resulted in prolonged periods with no drinks. This wasn’t so bad for me – life tap FTW! – but the healers were getting pretty antsy by the end of it. I found gargoyles difficult to AoE as well – only once did I manage to get them all together, and let me tell you, I was taking a heck of a beating from them! Sure, one gargoyle may not hurt much, but 8 of them all at once is nasty. We wiped a few times on the fifth wave, but eventually made it through with some well organised CC, and got to the boss.

I honestly believe that this boss is fairly straight forward. I don’t have any of the shadow resist gear yet, but with Prayer of Shadow Protection I managed to successfully resist between 50-80% of the damage from other people’s explosions. Exploding from lack of mana is pretty easy to avoid as a Warlock obviously! The main things I noticed were that people were unwilling to sacrifice some DPS in order to stay alive – rather than run away from the raid if they knew they were going to explode, or ease off and auto attack for a short while, they would continue running through their mana and blow everyone up. One of the paladins managed to do this to the whole melee group. I suggested that he could perhaps not be in the melee group and help heal or something if he felt he couldn’t effectively manage his mana, but people vetoed that idea ‘It’s a DPS race! We need his DPS in there, not him helping with healing!’. Well… sure, his damage would be nice (although it’s not really huge, since he is a Prot Pally), but I can guarantee the damage from the other melee is much better! It would be nice to not have them killed!

Other people also didn’t take the advice to run away from the raid if they knew they were going to blow up, and killed over half the raid in doing so. Thank goodness he goes down very easily – the fastest I have certainly ever seen on a raid boss. Another couple of attempts, where everyone knows what they are doing, and we should be fine. More people are getting some shadow resist gear for the next attempt, although I am far too poor at the moment (as usual). Of course, I will need it for Azgalor, but I like to take these things one step at a time!

Tomorrow’s schedule appears to be Shade of Akama, Teron Gorefiend (uh oh, because I fail badly at the simulation!), and Kaz’rogal if we have time. I will keep you posted :)

Finally, I made yet another video (glutton for punishment, aren’t I?) answering the questions posed to me by Elf. Currently it refuses to upload onto YouTube – not sure if it is an internet issue or what – but I am testing alternatives. Since I am having difficulties uploading, it may be up tomorrow. Here it is!

Also – thinking I might do a BlogTV thing tomorrow after my raid, which finishes at 10.30pm Cenarius server time (don’t ask me what timezone that is, sorry – hopefully someone knows), which is 3.30pm Australian EST. I would estimate a 4pm start for me. I know thats kinda late for most people, so it’s not like I expect a huge attendance! Just let me know if you are interested by commenting please. It will be at http://www.blogtv.com/People/Saresa . I make no guarantees about my personal appearance – my weekend uniform generally consists of gym pants and a baggy jumper. Yep, I’m a slob!

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Anetheron is finally dead as a door nail. No cheats, no hacks, we killed him fair and square. But oh, at what a cost to the guild…

The raid started simply enough. We rocked up to Hyjal, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Rage Winterchill went down a bit roughly, because half the raid forgot to equip their trinkets, but fairly easily nevertheless. We handed out the goodies, and went on to Anetheron. We wiped on him at about 30%, fixed a couple of issues and went again. We wiped again after that at about the same mark, fixed a couple more things, and tried again. We started on the trash, then all of a sudden our rogue started disconnecting. By the time we got to Anetheron he was basically never online. This meant that he didn’t have the poison on him, which slowed down our DPS dramatically. Eventually, we wiped, but we all agreed that had things gone well, he would have died. So THEN we got an extra person in to replace the rogue, we were feeling confident… and the Pally tank somehow miscounted the waves and put his fire resist gear on one wave too early. Needless to say – wipe.

At this point one of the officers requested that Vent be kept clear so that directions could be given and there would be no misunderstandings. Another officer disagreed with the request, arguments ensued very loudly over Vent… and all of a sudden they both /gquit and dropped raid. Drama llama!!

Well, one of them came back, we replaced the other… wiped a couple more times, and I for one was starting to feel tired and discouraged… when we some how did the perfect fight. Well, close enough to perfect – we downed him, and that is certainly the main thing! And yes… I ‘Squee’d in real life, the rumours are all true. Then I got to mine for epic gems – hehehe! We netted 4 epic gems out of it, gave one to the other guild we run with, and kept three for ourselves (because we are greedy buggers… and there were more of us!) It is just a shame that the excitement had to be marred by drama – urgh.

Lessons to be learned:

1. I don’t give a damn whether you are a lowly peon (like me!) or an officer, you are not a unique and special snowflake! Deal with it!

2. Everyone knows wiping… repeatedly… especially to stupid crap or from just being unlucky sucks. Suck it up, move on. No need to get snarky about it.

3. Saresa is clearly awesome. Not sure why, but it sounds right anyway.

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Once again I have been thinking about loot systems and how they work. As you probably know, my current guild works with Suicide Kings (also known as SKG from the name of the mod – Suicide Kings Geo). For the uninitiated, here is a brief run down of how the system works. SKG is based upon having master lists of everybody in the raid. We use a three list system: one for Tier, one for Raid (armour and weapons), and one for Miscellaneous Items (trinkets, relics, off hands, etc). The purpose of having three lists is to ensure that items of equal value are banded together, which makes it fairer (because all suicides are not equal after all).

At the beginning of the system, everyone used a random roll to establish their place. Raider rank members of the guild rolled 500-1000, and non raider rank members rolled 1-500. This ensured that those with Raider rank maintained their first preference for loot (at least to begin with). People who join the guild, as well as PuGs, join the list at the very bottom.

The system then works by having people ‘suicide’ for an item of loot they want. Suiciding simply means you sacrifice your position on the list and move to the bottom. When more than one person suicides, the person highest position wins the item. Everyone in the raid then moves up a position, while the people not in the raid do not. This is SKG’s way of rewarding people for attendance.

I think SKG sounds to be relatively fair in theory. Everyone has a chance at all loot (rather than DEing items because people have insufficient DKP, or other happenings people have heard of). Pugs also get a chance at the loot if no one needs it, which I believe is preferable to it being DE’ed or given to someone for an offset that they will never use. However, there are some major flaws, which I think really need to be addressed.

- There is no real reward for showing up when you have a character who is ‘fully geared’ (to farm content).

- Alts in our system run off the same list as the main – i.e. If I wanted to take Hermia to a run, I would use Saresa’s position on the list to suicide. Saresa has built up a fairly high place on the list by holding back from suicides, and can now take loot that would perhaps be better served going to a new recruit.

- In some ways, luck still plays a fairly major role. A great example is the Tier pieces. I have awfully bad luck when it comes to drops most of the time. I also make basically every required raid (if I had to guess, I would say I have 90% attendance). Through sheer dumb luck, everytime we downed a boss who dropped Tier gear I was away, or they didn’t drop a Hero piece. Of course, if it only dropped when I wasn’t there, all the other Warlocks, as well as the Mages and Hunters, advanced ahead of me on the list. It got to the point where people who attended far less than me had 3/5 of Tier 5, while I had none.

- Pugs can end up ahead of guildies. An instance of this happened today. We had a warlock applying to the guild who we decided not to let in. Now, for some reason or another, they have been present for a couple of raids throughout the application process (three I believe). Through this attendance, and the fact that I suicided for my T5 shoulders last week, they were above me on the list. When 3 Hero T5 Pant tokens dropped today, I felt fairly confident that I would get them (because most everyone else had them or better). Instead, one of the guild mages won them (perfectly fine), a guild alt-become-main got them (OK I suppose, although I still disagree with being able to swap an alt to a main simply because your main is now fully geared), and this app warlock got them. That really ticked me off, because the officers had decided half way through the raid that he would be rejected, because, frankly, he was not at all good.

I think that these issues are a major problem for our guild. The encouraging of alts to raid is a detriment to progression, as is letting upgrades go out of guild. People have no real incentive to show up, which means our core has deteriorated, resulting in the need to recruit and train. Of course, a loot system surely can not be the sole cause of guild trouble, but it helps.

My Ideal Loot System

- Rewards raiders for showing up to farm content

- Rewards raiders for raiding with their mains, despite the fact they may not need anything else from that place.

- Rewards people for showing up to ‘wipefests’ (new difficult content)

- Rewards people of Raider rank (or equivalent) before non-raiders

- Ensures that guild mains ALWAYS get upgrades before pugs or alts

- Discourages people from ‘main swapping’, as this often hinders progression.

- Rewards people for being punctual, reading strats, and being prepared.

- Discourages people from leaving upgrades in order to ‘save’ for more significant upgrades (DKP hoarding)

- Is ultimately beneficial to the guild’s progression.

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