Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guest Post: Handling Raid Chatter

Jessabelle is a fellow alliance member and raid leader who sent me a wonderfully written email yesterday and told me I could publish it if I wanted to. Well, I want to. Its good to show other views and this one is from a priest healer/RL who has run with me at the helm on numerous occasions. As such, I definitely value her input on the situation and she makes some good points.

For context, you should realize that, as she points out, we are part of a casual raiding alliance. "Casual" being because scheduling is the hardest part of what we do. We have extremely talented players, many of whom do lots of research on more than one class. As such, vent can sometime light up with about 7 different ways to do things, all of which are completely valid and good. It just can make things chaotic in a pinch. I've often been known to give the directive: "feel free to ignore anything not from me, the RL".

It's not that we don't value every one's input; far from it. It's just that sometimes it gets in the way of focusing on your job, personally. As Jess points out, finding where to draw this line is crucial and difficult at best. You have to take care as a RL to encourage being helpful and discourage confusing people while not letting those work against each other. It is very much a tight rope walking act... or something like that.

Anyways, without further ado, read for yourself:

As our alliance is made up of several different guilds, we get separate feedback from our individual guilds. One of the complaints made in my guild is “too many chiefs” - Too many people giving orders. Most of the time, this is nothing more than a slight annoyance for people being led. Other times, it can have disastrous consequences, such as someone who is not the RL calling for a wipe, and there being complete confusion.

We also try to keep a very friendly atmosphere, and I personally will beat up anyone who is being rude or snarky. So it’s definitely not easy, as a raid leader, to assert one’s authoritay, and tell someone to stop shouting out orders during a boss fight. Especially if the boss fight isn’t going well, as it makes an already tense situation worse. It is a bit easier when the person in question is a friend or someone in your own guild.

This is probably a common problem for raid leaders in general, especially if you are in a more casual raiding environment where everyone has input. I like that everyone has input. Many of the suggestions people have given me in raid have been very good ones. "You mean I can cast circle of healing on someone other than myself? Duh." It helps us all learn to be better players. But, there is a time and a place for it.

While I like the idea of everyone having equal input, and things such as loot and boss strategies being up for discussion, the one time when it’s really not okay is during boss fights. I think this happens because in the heat of the moment, everyone wants everyone else to be doing their best. In many situations, it is an attempt to be helpful; not condescending or rude.

How you handle it, as a raid leader, depends on your RL style, and the person in question. You can kindly tell them to can it. You can speak to them via whisper, asking them to redirect their comments and suggestions to you so that you can give the raid orders. I personally think the most important thing is that you do not chastise them in front of the rest of the raid –this leads to someone being even more defensive, and causing other problems. Once you’ve addressed the situation privately with the person calling out orders when he or she shouldn't, then, if time and situation allows, it is a good idea to privately whisper anyone who might have complained about it that you are addressing the situation.

The situation needs to be diffused before tempers start to flare, and people really start to go at one another with claws bared. My biggest suggestion for this scenario is to handle as much of it as possible via whisper, so as to not publicly attack anyone in front of the raid, or on vent.

I and my sometimes-but-not-always-better half are backup raid leaders, stepping in whenever one of the other RLs need a night off, and last night we were in a raid in which we were not leaders. We had a similar situation, and, from my perspective, the RL handled it this way, and I thought he did a fantastic job. It’s not a great situation in which to find oneself, and you cannot completely prevent there being some bitterness on all sides when you walk away from the raid at the end of the night. However, the most important task as the raid leader is to keep everyone cool enough to function properly in the raid. Unfortunately, you cannot always avoid offending someone as the raid leader, but the best you can do is try to be fair and make decisions that are best for the group as a whole.

Well said, Jess. I think the biggest thing to note here is how walking that fine line between "too much" leadership and "too little" can often mean the difference between wipe night and KT downing cheers. A lot of that is on the RL, but not all. As a "follower" in a raid you also need to be willing and able to speak up, accept critique, and move on when a decision is made. If people hold onto grudges and don't focus on what's best for the team (as decided by the RL in which you've placed your trust by showing up), you won't have a very successful crew.

I think, as a whole, this is what really makes our alliance special. It isn't that we don't have the occasional problem that will crop up anytime you get 10 or 25 people together. It's that we keep focused on the end goal and realize that, at heart, everyone wants the same thing. We just may not always agree on how to get there. The key to being able to work as a team is being able to put the feelings of the team before your own feelings. Difficult to do unless you have special people.

Happy Hunting BRK

I have a guest post scheduled to come up in an hour, but I wanted to make a small little note about the whole BRK thing.

I'm still small but growing a decent rate and being as huge as a BRK sort of scares me. I like my little corner of the world with nice commenters (many of which I know in-game). It's safe. At the same time, it's rewarding to have people respond to your writing. I think the challenge then is to remember that this is a hobby and not a job. We all pretty much gravitated here because of similar loves of writing and sharing ideas. That's what it's all about.

I try to crank out a post a day because it's like working out to me. I want to flex my writing muscle a little bit (one that is sorely underused in my engineering job). Sometimes you don't have time to work out in RL too. I try to treat it the same way.

People are going to move on from this game. It is inevitable and healthy. While the marks of such giants as BRK and Phaelia are widespread and lasting, they leave the blogosphere behind better than when they found it, having been the inspiration for dozens of new writers. In the end, when this game has come and gone, we're not going to remember subscription numbers or theorycrafting stats, but the time spent sharing a passion and writing about it. In the end, that's what each blogger and player will take with them, because that's why it's worth it. Memories are not counted in words or gold, but tears and smiles.

Mourn not the fall of the giants, but see them in all their glory, having completed their journies in this neck the woods, and gone ahead for new adventures. With a wave, a tear, and a smile, wish them good fortune and many a star-filled night. Recall the good times. Cherish the memories.

So, thanks to another giant who "gets it". If we should see you back in our wood, then let the games begin once more. If not, happy hunting.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Give Me The New Rotation Already

PvP gearing from scratch is rough. I think its good for developing skills though. I mean, if I'm going 1 on 1 (or worse) with someone in a BG, I'm not going to win based on gear or class. In fact, I sometimes even get killed by mages, much to my chagrin. Don't even get me started on rogues. Therefore, to survive, I have to be quick and good in my crappy gear. Sometimes this works out, other times... not so much. In any case, its a challenge, which is good for when I do start getting gear. Mind you, I'm not even buying crafted crap... straight from greens to PvP purples is my goal :-).

I'm torn about this whole patch business. On one hand, it looks like my fun frost DK build is gonna get scrapped with the nerfing of Icy Touch and I'll have to go back to something less bursty and more disease-y. On the other hand, I'm quite ready for a little warlock shake-up. Having corruption return life is really nice, and I'm thinking more and more that DPS is made up in some extra shadow bolt crit. I'm not sure if its all win yet, but I welcome the change if only for the challenge. As its shaking down now, I'd go Corr, H, SB, (insert curse here appropriately), UA. I've said before that I mostly lead off with Corr just because of the instant-ness as I'm getting set up. It's just habit really.

Anyways, that's not a bad rotation. Certainly easier to keep up on complicated boss fights and easier to truncate for trash. To shorten it, I'd just leave off UA and the curse (depending on the expected length of life). It would also make corruption nice to use when running around PvP'ing in Wintergrasp and the like... just corr corr corr and laugh as you run away. I also usually throw on a CoA for good measure, then fear if they pay attention to me. There are far too many ways to get out of fear though, so running is usually preferable :-).

That's all for now... the Monday brain isn't firing on all cylinders yet...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ever Met A Coffeecrafter?

In WoW, we have theorycrafters. In RL, there exist a certain type of individual that could be called a Coffeecrafter. My cube mate is one such invidual. You wouldn't believe the amount of science and thought that can be put into making coffee until you talk to him for a bit. It's funny because he's sort of growing his own bootleg business around here. You see, we're not supposed to have our own coffee makers at work or anything, but he snuck one in and takes advantage of our filtered water to make some premium coffee. People stop by our desks just to trade coffee thoughts and experiences, and sometimes to drop off a bag of ground beans for the "next batch". It's almost like he's dealing drugs around here. If you've ever worked in an office environment, then you can probably understand how coffee would be analagous to crystal meth or heroine. People NEED their coffee, and they're willing to go to great lengths to get the stuff. Is it bad that I am totally intrigued in the coffee running activities of my cube mate? I'll be the first to admit, his bootleg is pretty darn good.

There really is no point to that, other than that we're sitting here laughing because someone just conspicuously dropped off a baggy of grounds...

On the WoW front, we got halfway through 25-man Naxx last night and I have to say... Instructor Raz on heroic makes me thankful that I'm not a shadow priest. That fight SUCKS. What's up with having to have a shadow priest too? Isn't that sort of against Blizz's policies of "bring the player not the class"? We got it down eventually, but, man was it chaotic, and there is NOTHING you can do as a DPS to help. You really just have to have faith in your brothers in shadow. I also hate the fight with Gothik. As a warlock, waves of trash really do not fit into my DPS style. Those two create back to back fights where I feel mostly helpless as a warlock.

In other news, I got in on a 10-man VoA run on my DK. She's still geared in nearly all quest greens (one blue), and not even really good quests at that (as I stopped as soon as I hit 80). The cool part was that with my facerolling frost spec, I did a respectable 1.5k DPS. I just basically hit IT > Howling Blast > BS > BS > Frost Strike... Then when I have death runes, I'll use IT or HB as they come up (throwing in the free HB when it procs). Basically, I lay out BS, IT, HB, and FS on 1-4 and faceroll over them (or at least that's what I feel like, even though I'm trying to be smart about it and time them up). I use the other abilities as they're called for, that's just the gist of how it works, and apparently I can put up some decent numbers even geared like crap.

We'll be finishing up Naxx tonight and then this weekend I'll continue with learning to PvP as a DK, gearing up along the way hopefully.

If you haven't left me a question on yesterday's post, I think I'm only up to 4 and there is some interesting stuff in there. Check it out :-).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Would Like To Thank...

*enter stage left, takes up spot at podium*

... the souls in my bag, for stacking so neatly and being generally helpful.
... my demons, for heeding my call, albeit sometimes unwillingly.
... Seed of Corruption, for wonderful explosions of pain.
... the warlock council that resides in the basement of the bar in Stormwind, for all their help and guidance through the levels.
... that one dude that sits out in the middle of the blasted lands, forgotten and alone, for teaching me to harness the Doomguard.
... each one of my wonderful DoTs, for doing what you do best.
... haste, because stacking it is like crack.
... spellpower, and all the benefits thereof.
... my wonderful wonderful shadowbolt, especially when you curve around corners, bringing death with you.

*gets "wrap it up" gesture from off stage*

... and um, my family? Wait no, killed them. Elune? Ha, right, like a warlock would...

*more emphatic "wrap it up" gesture*

... and finally, thanks to all the corpses left in the wake of my awesomeness... couldn't have done it without ya! Thanks!

*halfhearted clapping*
*exit stage right*

So, Larisa over at TPPI awarded me the prestigious "Pink Pigtail Inn Blog Award", and my Warlock accepted for me. I suppose I maybe could have sent a better representative, but the DK would have probably offered more of the same, and people would have thought the microphone was busted ("No, that tin can sound is natural").

This award, of course, is part of a much larger meme-type thingy going around the blogosphere in general (I believe it is actually non-wow specific, which is kinda cool. Sometimes its easy to forget that people, you know, blog about other stuff). 7 people is an awful lot of people to tag and 10 questions are an awful lot to manufacture, so I'm going to take my "minion of evil" prerogative again and twist the rules to something more to my liking.

First, I'd like give my own version of the award to just three bloggers that are near and dear to my corrupted and contained soul:

And, the Shiny Soul(s) goes(go) to...

Syrana @ S&S, Abigore @ Fear.win, and Nibuca @ the MC.

Syr and Abi are two of my most frequent commentors and fellow bloggers. I love what they do, I love what they say, and I thank them for their continued friendship to the blog and randomly inspired postings.

Nibs has long been my main warlocky squeeze when it comes to information and general afflictedness. I read her long before she even knew I existed and have used her wonderful maths and thoughts for inspiration both in-game and in-blog, so thank you.

Do not see the award as a tag, because I'm not exactly following the rules, but rather an acknowledgement that you three make my blogging world go 'round on most days. I have many other non-blogging commentors that I really appreciate (fin, jess, and ofcourse fuu, I'm looking at you guys in particular), but you kids don't have a place to link to (except fuu maybe here, but linking yourself is kinda lame).

To further break the rules, I will not post a random ten honest things, but will ask for ten questions to be submitted in the comments here that I will, in turn, answer in the comments. Only ten though, any more and I will clam up. Less, well, that's okay. I'll just feel sad that no one wants to know me (not really).

That's sort of following the rules, right?
(Workplace paint leaves something to be desired...)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Useless Wednesday Post

You're not gonna get a whole lot from me today. My mom is in from out of town and we're doing wedding planning stuff. I think most of wedding planning falls under the heading of "I'd rather be raiding". Then again, what doesn't in life? I'm just lucky that my fiancee probably agrees with me. Doesn't bode well for our productivity as a couple me'thinks. We'll have a very active and healthy pretend life :-).

My meme is spreading, which is cool because people seem to enjoy the topic, which makes me happy. Need More Rage was hit with it today, and I have always enjoyed time spent over there, especially for a non-warlock, not much theorycrafting blog. Just very entertaining writing.

I'm trying to noob it out as a DK and gear up by doing PvP. Why? Because I've never done it before. Any good guides out there that y'all might know of? I need some decent gear bad though because I feel way to squishy as a plate wearer. I really want to the PvP kitty mount though (and to get rid of the screaming horse). Oh, and I now officially hate Rogues. I don't care what class I am, they follow me, stun me, and kill me. How many stuns do they have too? I trinket out of the first only to get hit with another! I'll admit to being a complete PvP newb, but man rogues piss me off. Rogues and Mages. I don't have a good reason for mages... just *points to self* warlock.

I'll be raiding Weds, Thurs, and Fri. 10 man tonight, 25 man the other two days. That's a lot of raiding for me. Thurs and Friday I'll get to just sit back and be a normal DPS (not RL), which will be a nice little break. While I enjoy leading, it is sometimes nice to be able to just focus on your own crap.

Anyways, like I said... no substance. *shrug* I'm gonna try and at least find a funny picture, because work sucks and I need a laugh. (Okay, got one up... courtesy of one of my favorite sites: GraphJam, because as a certified and licensed nerd, graph jokes are hilarious to me. Plus, this fits with how much my job actually utilizes my education even in an engineering position. I'd have another gigantic bar in there from "blogging/WoW".)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's All In The Mindset

For those looking for class PTR note updates, Abi does a good job of summing them up here. I'm still trying to avoid them, but obviously that doesn't insulate me from Bloggers Gone Wild vol. 3.1. The updates that effect affliction look just fine. Free respecs with purchase of 3.1 at regular price (free) are also good. I'll hold off on spec stuff for that. I think I may even have to do a post from home so I can link what I end up deciding to spec. I think, just for the hell of it, that I'm going to purchase dual spec on both of my toons. I wouldn't mind playing around with two specs, even though it is completely unnecessary and probably not worth the gold.

The rest of this post is going to be expanding on a rather good thought I had when reading BBB's post today. As usual, he goes into far too much depth about the topic, giving us lots of words but some really good ideas hidden in there. He himself has admitted that he can be a rambling bear, but despite the rambling, he usual makes some quite valid points.

The gem of the day there is when he talks about how as a RL, while he may sometimes talk minimum specs and such, he often ends up dragging undergeared folks into instances and raids with him. I find that I'm pretty much the same way as a RL. If it comes down to running it with people I know who are undergeared, or having to PuG/not run, I'll choose the people I know any day, hands down. In my experience, this has often resulted in some very positive runs too.

Case in point: just this last Sunday we almost didn't pull together our Naxx raid and at the last second had 5 (out of a possible 10) new people offer to come through a guildy who was signed up with us. The caveat: none of them had really ever SET FOOT in Naxx, and, as such, weren't the best geared of folks. However, they were good people and willing to listen and learn.

Now, we were on the "home stretch" of Naxx (last few bosses of construct, Sapph and KT). Not exactly the best place to start, but whatever. They weren't the best geared, but whatever. We took 'em and ran with it. We had half a party of Naxx vets and half a party of Naxx noobs, most of which were DPS (though one was our OT on the always difficult Gluth fight).

Long story short: We only wiped twice (once on Sapph and once on KT), finishing the place off in about an hour or so. They were all awesome people and it was a great time. They learned fast, we got our run in quickly, and really did rather well given the circumstances.

We even had 6 melee too, which on the Kel'Thuzad fight makes it really tough, what with chaining ice blocks and all. We really had to stay on our toes for it. We were pretty much short on DPS for the entire night, squeaking by enrage timers and facing some VERY large bugs on KT, but we got the job done. When it was all over, the general feeling was that by all strats and "leet" accounts, we should have never been able to do it. And when you accomplish the "impossible", you tend to feel very good about yourselves. Ding, pride points.

The point here is not that we're all awesome or something, I'm sure a lot of groups with good players all around could have done as much as we did. The point is to illustrate the old saying: "nothing ventured, nothing gained". We could have called the raid for the night due to lack of people. As RL, I could have taken one look at the gear and lack of experience of the ringers we brought in and said: "No way". We didn't, and I didn't, and it turned what could have been a bad night into a very good night.

Loot was even spread out fairly well as the loot gods smiled on me with my T7 piece I mentioned and one of our better geared healers with a pants drop that he didn't yet have (and, amazingly, no one else needed). Of course, the undergeared folks also got their share of pieces too. It's just amazing that when normally all the gear would go one way, to have those perfect "last needed" drops drop on a run you almost didn't go on.

The moral to take from this story: as Elleiras over at Fel Fire once put it by way of Matticus' feed reader quote by way of apparently Wayne Gretzky (you know, a friend of a friend's cousin's dog)... "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

(Note: the picture is mostly for Fuu cuz its funny and she hates skiing (which I love), but it also illustrates a good point through humor that goes along with what I'm saying: A lot of times in life, as in WoW, it's all about your mindset.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's only a "Meme"ory


Ok, since I was so delightfully tagged by a smelly, maggot eating Shadow priest, I will spill the beans on how I became Fuubaar.

Fuubaar started actually as Fuubar when I played my very first MMORPG. This of course was Final Fantasy XI and it was a total time suck for college! I had watched a TON of anime (still do when I have the time) mainly Samurai Shamploo, Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist, etc. etc. I fell in love with a character named Fuu on Samurai Shamploo. She was quarky and akward but always strong and self reliant. So, I rolled a paladin but you needed more than 3 letters for a name. So became Fuubar (alcohol was involved). Many people still, to this day, ask me if I was in the military or they just laugh. If you don’t know what F.U.B.A.R. is you might wanna look it up. Most people just call me Fuu for short.

Tamedfuu was my first alt that I rolled. Since she was a huntard, I had to name her something hunter’esk. Tamed popped into my head after I dinged 10 because I was ummm taming things. I slapped fuu at the end of it because I wanted people to know who I was and I HATE it when people name their toons things and I can’t figure out who you are darn it! The more interesting part of this is how I’m naming my pets. Once I reached the fine age of 20, I wanted to tame a Ghostsaber because of how cool they looked and I wanted to have a BAMF kitty by my side. I rolled with its name of Cat for a while so that I could have some time to think about its name. I’m going to keep that kitty for the rest of my toon’s long life so I better like it! I have a psychology minor and I really enjoy reading about Dr.’s studies so why not name my pets by their respective Psych. Dr.’s :) Enter Darwin. Darwinism is the study of evolution and survival of the fittest. Well, Darwin chooses who is fit & who survives. With Tamed at ranged and Darwin mauling your face, not much passes that test if you know what I mean. I do plan on naming a wolf Pavlov (I wish I could carry around a bell) and for the rest, I’m not sure yet.

Wildlace is my very first RP’ing toon. She is a Tauren Druid who loves to be natural. She received her name from a naturally occurring (aka weed) flower in Indiana. Often times, during the summer months, you can see entire fields over run with these. When this occurs it has the appearance of snow because of its massive white tops. The picture up on the top of this post is what it looks like. Imagine an entire field full of these… absolutely breathtaking!

Anyways, I have a few others that I named through RNGs then slapped Fuu at the end because they sounded cool except for Baggons who is, of course, my Homosexual human Rogue who likes to carry a flower & wear Fuubaar’s dresses around Stormwind. Yeah, he’s not ashamed to say that he’s a very stylish bank alt.

To Continue this Meme journey, I'm going to tag anyone who would like to join in! Is this a cop-out? Maybe. But I don't want to be the person who screws up Ful's fun. Or do I?

/shifty eyes

Turn Off The Exp Bar... Again.


Got my second toon to 80 last night. Woot! Also picked up my T7.10 Warlock legs in Naxx as we continued our "farming". All in all, a good night, but hardly anything to write about.

I'm holding off on spec work until 3.1. I'm also hesitant to get too excited about anything with all the changes I know are coming. For instance, my DK currently employs a very fun frost spec, but if they nerf IT like it seems they're going to, I may have to look elsewhere for a fun spec. Also, its tough to get comfortable in any warlock rotation when you know they're going to change it. The good news about that is if they just make UA and Immolate take the same "spot" (meaning you can't have both active at the same time), instead of removing fire damage bonuses, that means we can still use rain of fire, which is a good thing. I was going to be upset if we went back to only being able to seed. I mean, I love SoC, but sometimes you need the controllable, non-target needing area of RoF. It's nice to have the two options.

In short, until we get a live patch, I'm hesitant to get comfortable with anything because it's sure to change.

Maybe I'll make a list of the 25-man badge gear I'm looking forward to if we start that soon. How's the T7.10 bonus working for everyone else? Having just picked up only my 2nd tier piece (the purchasable gloves are a downgrade to the naxx drop "dark gestures" that I got, so I'm only sporting pants and robe now), I finally activated the first of the two bonuses. I'm wondering what it'll do to my DPS...

Friday, March 20, 2009

What's In A Name?

So here is my attempt to start a meme. I'm not really a "jump on the bandwagon" type of person, but this is something I thought might be interesting to do. Also, it is something I'm interested in reading from other bloggers. So, what is it?

Simple: I want to know how you chose your names in WoW.

For some, it may be as simple as RNG (where N is name and not number), but I would think a lot of bloggers really put some thought into their names, and it might be fun to "get to know your blogger" a bit more. I'm not sure if it even qualifies as a meme, since it doesn't have crazy rules, pictures, or witty sayings. I know some people already even have an "about" page where it may be already explain, or a link to an old post, or something. That's fine, lets dig those out and dust them off, because... why not? And since I would never ask someone to do something I wasn't willing to do myself, I suppose I will start the shenanigans to give you a better idea of where I'm going with this.

Personally, I'm somewhere in between RNG and deep thought, as my "main" name goes way way back to days of playing Starcraft on Battle.net when that first came out in the mid 90's. I happened to be in middle school at the time (I suppose that dates me in a good or bad way depending on the age of the reader), and one of the things that seemed clever to me (and still does in a very noobish way) was finding ways to say things in other languages. I've written before that I've always found Latin intriguing and magical for unknown reasons. Probably a lot of it has to do with being Catholic.

In any case, I started by picking out another something I really like: Thunderstorms. Just doing a general web search through a Latin dictionary netted me the base word: Fulgeo which means a burst of light... or lightning. I went with it. Looking for a masculine way to conjugate the word brought me to the finished product: Fulguralis. Is it grammatically correct? Hell no. Does it even mean anything at this point? Probably not. But it meant something to me, and that's all that matters, right?

So, anyways, I started rolling with that as my online moniker back in the day, and it has stuck with me through numerous games.

Getting to the alts, I first created a character called Kayoh. Why? Because it's like K.O. sounded out and its a rogue who goes sleeveless all the time. It completely broke my old naming pattern, but apparently that day I just wanted something shallow and fun (we all have those days right?). The rogue is still stuck at 20.

Fulgurante is my hot Spanish bank goat. I basically just took my name and gave it a Spanish twist. Simple enough, yet effective enough. She likes to look good and keep all the money. Women... am I right guys?

When I rolled my DK, I had an inkling that I wanted to invest more into this class than my other alts. I hadn't really levelled anything else extensively (loving my warlock and despising most other classes), but DK's held promise with DoTs and death. So, I went back to my old naming conventions, finding a root word roughly meaning killer, or death dealer: Decessor. Then I took and conjugated the word all feminine like and slapped a "ful" on the end so that people would know its me, getting: Decedereful. I really like the name too. I used the same thing when I rolled my RP toon over on Abi's server and went with Decedor, which is a more masculine conjugation I think for my male belf DK. I didn't add ful because it's not important that people know who I am over there (I'm not an officer or anything).

So, that's how I named my toons. I think for me, the more thought I put into a name, the more I get into the character. The simple fun names end up being simple fun toons that fade after a while (or are relegated to bank duty). The ones I spend more time on, I end up spending more time with. Maybe there's something there, maybe not.

In any case, I wanna know how a few other people went about their naming, so let the tagging commence. For my meme, three shall be the number of the tagging and the number of the tagging shall be three. No more, no less. Thou shalt not tag four, no either shalt thou tag two excepting that thou then procedst to three. Five is right out.

1. Abigore at Fear.Win

2. Syrana at Sideshow and Syrana

3. Elleiras at Fel Fire

(unrelated: Matticus watch 2009 continues with more random boldings. I got two in my feedreader this week: "This will be" on this post and then "another project" on this post. So far I have down: "fourth this will be another project". I'm thinking I may have missed some previous ones. Sign of the lich apocalypse or terrorist hordie communications? You decide.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Wipe My Own Pull

Fuu and I were having a discussion after our raid on Tuesday about pull mechanics. To set the context, I'll take you back through the last few weeks of raiding very quickly. You may have seen my picture book posts, noting that we've ripped through Naxx, showing many of us our first glimpses at all of the bosses.

I must say, the first time downing of a boss is my favorite thing as a raid leader. It doesn't get any better than that for me. When our alliance first announced that we'd be splitting off into two ten man groups (to adequately prepare for 25-man content), and that I would be leading the second group, I was a little apprehensive. After all, I hadn't really led any raids since Karazhan (we had raided Gruul, Mag, SSC with the alliance and another RL). I knew from experience that it can be stressful, hectic, but rewarding.

You also may have seen my post about the importance of setting a good pace for the pulls. The three qualities of a successful raid I pointed out in that post still hold, but how to manage these with the uncertainty of a casual raiding environment? As happens in such an environment, people get tied up with other things (ofter RL stuff), so the group make-up can vary greatly from week to week.

Here's an aside question... when can you officially say that you have a place "on farm"? Some had been tossing that term around since we'd had a full clear two weeks in a row, the second week nearly all of it in one night with the only wipe coming a the hands of Sapphiron and the unfortunate snow drift bug (which, if you don't know: even if someone is iced near the snow drifts in the back... don't use them as a shield, there is a small area near those drifts there the shield mechanic is bugged. It's probably only 2 character steps out, but, yeah, I found it). I wasn't so sure.

It wasn't that I didn't have confidence in our skills, just that I knew if we shuffled around a couple key spots, we could have trouble as people would have to relearn fights from a whole new perspective. Perhaps to me, "on farm" is when your entire crew knows the fights in enough of a variety of situations that shuffling people around doesn't cause a significant "speed bump".

After this Tuesday's raid, I think it's clear that we're very close to "on farm", but I don't think we're there yet. This week, our normal MT and probably our best healer had conflicts. Those are big shoes to fill. We had several people who were willing and able to step up and did a fine job, but I think it was definitely a learning experience for some of them. With a slightly different make up (we traded a pally healer for a druid and a warrior MT for a pally), you find yourself having to do things just slightly different. It was enough to cause us to slow down a bit, only clearing three wings (plus patchy), which is still very good, it's just not the smooth efficiency we had gotten used to in past weeks.

After the raid, like I said, the new MT (Fuu) and I were discussing why this is. Fuu is a very good tank. Our healers were also both very good. It wasn't like there was a major "skill level" change, just a different mix of folks and playstyles.

One of the small examples that I'd noted throughout the night was the overall sloppiness of the pulls. I think we, as a crew, had gotten lazy with our warrior healer who could charge ahead, thunderclap a group and then bring them back for us to open up with the AoE. That mechanic is just slightly different for a pally tank. She has no charge, her AoE is more of a DoT than the instant burst of the Warrior bringin the thunder. You can probably see where this is headed. Yep, we tended to open up with the AoE and pre-heals just slightly early in a lot of cases. It wasn't ever enough to really cause a wipe, but it seemed like someone would die every few pulls because of this. It also made the pulls a bit chaotic as mobs tended to be running all over the place.

We handled it very well as a group, but it wasn't very efficient. It took more time, and didn't allow us the one night clear that we came in kind of expecting. It's hard to tell everyone at the end of the night that it was still a VERY GOOD run, we're just not to the point of farming yet. We are still learning, despite breezing through last week. We're on the cusp of "on farm". It's a good place to be, but it's not "there" yet.

With that cleared up, I guess there are two main points to take from here today.

First, be careful about raidwide expectations and saying you have things "on farm". Small shakeups can mean small headaches and can become big frustrations if you're not careful. With the good people we have, it wasn't an issue, but I can easily see where it could have been.

Second, in this day and age of AoE tanking everything (I don't think I've done a trash kill order in ages), it may be important for everyone to know the difference between tank's AoE aggro generation mechanics and also for tanks to expect a certain amount of mistakes on the part of the group.

For DPS and heals, this means being extra careful about when to AoE and when to start healing. Glace at the omen (I know since the expansion people have kind of gotten into the bad habit of not watching, since all the tanks have been put on easy-aggro mode for a while). If you get adds on you, run them TO the tank, not all around making them hard to pick off. Calmly inform the OT that you have a problem and ask if they could please remove it. After all, it is still YOUR fault if you drew aggro.

For tanks, this means expecting that you most likely will have a mob or two go rogue on your pulls. Do whatever you can to minimize this. OT's expect this, keep your head on a swivel and pick that dude up for your MT. Our warrior really helps by staying far ahead of the group (I don't think he loots anything, which I'm not sure is a good thing, but I can't tell), that way when he pulls, everything is out of range for AoE, so you HAVE to wait. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but I'm sure there are other little things you can think of to try and help. I'm no tanking expert.

It isn't that we're all dumber, it's just that the nature of pulling has changed somewhat (and probably will continue to change with this next patch). I mean, back in the days of Karazhan, we followed a strict kill order (tank AoE aggro wasn't nearly as good, 'cept for maybe when we had our trusty pally), we sometimes used CC (*gasp* what's that?), and we kept our OT's busy. Remember those days? Yeah, they've changed now, but that doesn't mean we don't have to adapt and can just revert to old mistakes. The lessons are the same, the implementation is just a bit different.
(FYI - The picture had a caption of "Chuck Norris' TP", which I found amusing, if not really relative here)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


... IRL.

Do you ever wake up tired from a late night raid experience, berating yourself for getting to bed so late when you knew darn well you had a buttcrack of dawn meeting? Then, do you get to work and the meeting only to find that it is the same worthless drivel day in and day out? That you probably could have just stayed in bed, blamed your alarm clock, and been completely fine for missing the meeting?

Do you sometimes think: Wow, my job is completely un-epic? Do you view real life team roles as tanking, DPS, and healing, saying to your co-worker: "If only Bob would be able to push more dam... paperwork, we'd be able to cle... please the boss?" Do you find yourself trying to summon a minion or go into stealth mode at work, only to be disappointed when it doesn't work? If you've ever gotten a promotion or had a birthday, do you wish a bright light surrounded you with a cymbal crash so you could glance at the people nearby and say: "ding".

Do you say things such as "wife aggro", " boss aggro", or "[insert name here] aggro"? When viewing the downturns of the economy recently, do you find yourself hoping for a "patch"? Do you try to break down social situations into repeatable rotations of actions and reactions? Do you "buff" yourself with caffeine? Do you wish sparkly nothings rose from your food when you are sitting on the floor and eating?

Do you find yourself making strange hand gestures and hoping they carry some secretive and magical meaning? Do you think of your automobile as your "mount"? Do you call giving birth "rolling an alt"? Instead of going "steady" do you stay "static"? Do you fight a sometimes strange and inexplicable longing to wear robes in public, or armor? Does "class" take on a whole different meaning for you than it seems to for the rest of the world? Do you compare things like wedding planning to concepts like tanking?

Are you reading this post? Have you read or do you plan to read at least a handful of other posts in a semi-structured manner throughout the day, just like you did yesterday? Are you plotting your revenge on pixels for this evening? Do you spend more financial thought on "gold" than "cash"? Does you computer have its own room? Is your big screen TV vastly underused when compared to your 22" computer monitor? When the sun is shining, do you scheme of ways to take your desktop computer outside somehow? When you succeed at completing a difficult task, do you wish something would pop up in front of you, awarding you an arbitrary amount of "pride points"?

Do you feel the urge to list your raid/guild leadership experience on your resume because you think it says more about you than all the other crap you put on there? Do you find it hard explaining to others that you're part of a community of like-minded individuals that value you for who you are and what you bring to the table, only to have them scoff when you explain what that community actually is? Have you memorized computer specs even though you have absolutely no other technical background? Does the color purple make you ask just what about THAT is epic? Do you frequently find yourself using the term "real life"?

If you've answered yes to any of the above questions, don't worry, there is help out there for you. You just won't find it here.

(This post started as one of those drug commercials in my head. If you can, try to visualize a hot chick and a puppy running around in a field on a sunny day and some crazy words popping up on the screen. They don't even have to be at all related to the message, because that's how it goes. Also, feel free to add your own "symptoms of the gamer". This is actually not the meme I was referencing, but I found it humorous to try and think of traits we look for to "out" other gamers. For instance, if you're around the water cooler at work and someone says something was "epic", don't you feel the curious urge to strike up a conversation with them and "feel out" how much they know... Maybe that's just me. I would encourage any other bloggers to share their thoughts... though again, this is not a meme and I'm not tagging anyone. I just felt a random longing to be random today.)

(Unrelated: I only get Matticus in feed reader, so maybe I'm not sure If my reader is playing tricks on me, but is he embedding secret code into his posts? Here's the last one. Now, call me crazy, but it looks to me like there are a few single bolded letters that spell out f-o-u-r-t-h. Fourth what? Did I miss something? Is he sneaking hidden messages in his posts? Or am I just crazy?)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Headlines? Me? Whaaaa?!

Syrana unintentionally has contributed to today's lack of posting substance. You see, she very nonchalantly dropped the bomb on this little site. Clicking the second link should bring you to a "WoW headlines" website.

The first thing that struck me was its splendid layout. Its small description says it all: "10 Classes, 144 Blogs, 2833 Links", and they're all nicely sorted out for you to boot. What more could one want when hoping to procrastinate at work and browse some new blogs. Just rolled a hunter? Want to find a blog on that? I'd head here. Sure there are a couple other good places with lists of blogs, and updates, but this is really the prettiest one I've seen to date (plus its completely unblocked at my work for now, which is completely baffling considering "wow" is in the url).

Then, what really sold me was when I scrolled down to see what was happening among warlocks and saw my own post staring back at me. Wait... I've never been here before. Woot! Someone liked me enough to make sure I get in here. Thanks mysterious reader person! This is certainly the first site of its type that I've gone to that's known about me before I've known about it. Pardon me, but it's kind of exciting, and how could I not share the linkage then?

Syr's up there too, which is good, plus a new warlocky blog that I've never seen before called Curse of Senility. There is some good stuff up there, and it's nice to have another afflictionado out there. Definitely warranting of a blog roll add.

In any case, I may now spend some time wading through this new resource (which will get link appropriately on the right as well).

In other news, I may have more raid ramblings tomorrow after yet another Naxx foray tonight. We have a slightly different crew, so it should be interesting. I don't know that there is much else to say about it, so I'll try not to bore. It'll be nice when the patch actually hits and we can start covering new material in the blogosphere, though I always feel suspiciously behind of all you other crazy raiders.

I also may try to start a meme. Can one do such a thing? Do you have to have credentials to do that? I don't know. I mean, I did make headlines right? More on this later ;-).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cold As Ice

I've been actively avoiding reading any PTR notes because I'll probably just end up freaking out and QQ'ing along with everyone else who reads them. There have been a lot of changes already, and that trend will probably continue right up until 3.1 is released. The good news is that it appears things continue to get better for warlocks from what I'm able to glean from "not" reading the notes. DK's are a completely different story. There are far to many pages of changes for me to concern myself with.

However, I do know that one of the changes may be moving around the talent for Howling blast in the frost tree. This dismayed me somewhat because I really like that spell. I had toyed around with a frost spec on Abi's RP server before time dried up and I sadly haven't been able to play that toon in a while, raid leading being srs business and all. That, and if you've ever planned a wedding, you probably understand that the enrage timer seems very short and is most certainly undispellable (indispellable? Neither are really words). Wedding plans are more of a time sink than achievements and rep grinding put together. How's that for a WoW/RL comparison?

I guess I haven't had a whole lot of time is the main point of that paragraph above. Oh, right, that and that Howling Blast is cool, but might change soon. As a warlock, I don't exactly have what one would call "burst" damage. To me, howling blast is the epitome of burst... it is a decently high damage, instant cast, AoE attack. Awesome. Since I'm pretty much levelling my DK to be my fun/faceroll toon (I don't think I could consistently raid on the toon without feeling like a complete git), I wanted to try out other specs.

I've always avoided Unholy because I'm sick of dealing with pets. I love my warlock demons, mostly because I just pop them out and let them do their thing... no micromanaging. If they die, they die, no biggy. It's nice to have some of the utility when needed (the felpup's silence is oh so handing when running with a pally tank, since they don't have three ways to silence like a DK... PvPing a DK is like suicide for a warlock... then again so is pretty much any PvP right now), but they don't really need attention. This is sort of similar to unholy, and I've just been sick of not being able to jump anywhere because my pet aggros a room, or whatever. It's nice to just not think about it for once. Granted the ghoul is only a small part of unholy, but this is not my min/maxing toon.

I started out in blood because the idea of killing someone and healing yourself at the same time is very warlocky. The spec has been great for levelling, but it left me with something to be desired. Thus, when I rolled my RP DK, I started mucking around in the frost tree. When I picked up howling blast and frost strike, I felt ZOMG powerful on world mobs. I pressed like three buttons and... dead. Cool, burst damage! AoE to boot. This would be great for farming.

Thus, this weekend I bit the bullet and respecced even though I was trying to wait until 80 (I dinged 78 this weekend too). I'm looking at something like a 15/53/0 spec (is that the right number of talent points? Normally I talk about specs at home where I can access the talent calculator). I did pick up the 51 point talent even though its not a great DPS talent... I just hate going deep to not pick up the top tier. It seems like a waste to me.

I have to say, I love the spec. Put my blood strike on key one, IT on 2, Howling Blast on 3, and Frost Strike on 4. Let the facerolling commence. It's nice when you do a couple BS's and get the death runes (from the talent) and can chain like 4 IT's in a row (or HB's if you're killing a group). It's fun to just hit IT, Pestilence and then HB when you can. One would think this would put up some great damage. I'd love to get into an instance sometime soon to try it out, but even so it's just plain fun to quest with. I was still able to keep the run tap for healing too.

So I guess the point of all this rambling is that if you wanna try out a fun DK spec with some good AoE potential and no real dependency on diseases (it does help to put the frost disease on anything you want to blast, but no plague strikes), check out frost. It's not just for tanking.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Nuns Woulda Just Hit Me With A Ruler

Perhaps the biggest struggle anytime a group of people come together to accomplish a common goal revolves around the concept or rules or guidelines. What do you have that defines how you will work together? These things can take the form of charters, rulebooks, laws, even constitutions.

WoW raiding groups are no exception. We need rules. People need to know what's expected of them. End of story.

As our Alliance continues to grow and we push for 25-man content. The comment has come up that we really need to hammer out some rules. We've always had more of a loose coalition, but recently we've been gaining more members and more momentum as a group. Thus, the necessity for more concrete rules has sprung up.

Lately, the rule of discussion has been being late (ha ha, see what I did there? lately... late... ha). How do you deal with people being late to a raid?

Lets said the posted start time is 8PM server time. To me, that means the goal is for the first pull to start at 8PM. As leader, I will be on at least a half hour before the posted raid time in order to get myself ready, get to the instance, and start invites fifteen minutes prior to the start time. What happens when everyone isn't there at start time? What happens when someone has indicated that they may be delayed (we have a nifty little check box that one can check indicating a possible latency)? This is where the rule needs to come in.

Here is what I propose:

We will try to begin invites 15 minutes prior to the posted start time. If you are not on prior to the start time and have not indicated to anyone in raid that you may be late (be it by check box or verbally in some manner), your spot is in jeopardy and you may be replaced at the start time. If you have indicated in some manner that you may be late, you will be given a 10 minute waiting window before your spot may be filled as well. Abuse of this policy will be handled on a case by case basis with the person in question and by a consensus among the officers.

So what do you think? To harsh for a casual alliance? To lenient? Just right like baby bear's porridge? I'd love some feedback on this.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lazy Link Thursday

Every once in a while around here, you'll see me get lazy and just post up links of other people's stuff. Usually I try to keep it topical and fun, but it's just been a busy week for me. That and last night I went out and had sushi with Fuu and we took a WoW night off (*gasp*). What with the increased pressures of raid leading (when you see success, it seems people turn to you for answers, which is good because I normally have them... just can be time consuming), the increase pressures of wedding planning (who would have thought getting married requires more patience and effort than leading a 25-man Naxx raid of PuGged asshats), and other miscellanea, I just needed a night off.

As such, I don't really have any clever ideas today.

I will, however, pass along some good reading to keep you WoWtertained (I like creating words... unwarlockerly was my new favorite today).

Despite my QQ, when things are starting to fall together with your raiding crew, it really is an exciting time. Do we push on to 25? How to get everyone geared? What new strats are we going to have to learn? How to spread out the talent and experience? It's exciting stuff and why I love to raid. I wanted to pass along two other recent posts that seem to share in my raid-love with their messages: Larisa over at Pink Pigtail Inn tells a great tale about staying positive in the face of raiding adversity (and not letting your raid crew get "fat") and Elleiras exemplifies the old adage about how you "miss 100% of the shots you don't take" by providing an excellent example of what can happen when you take a chance.

If you've already read both of those, then I suggest catching up on Looking For Group. If, like me, you've just now discovered this wonderful WoW comic (love the warlock character), you probably have a lot of reading to do.

If you're caught up on that, then you have even less of a life than I do and I feel I must suggest that you find a pretty girl (or handsome boy *coughcough*) and go get some sushi because, my friend, you need to get out more. (And if you don't like sushi, go get a cheezburger or something.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Importance of The Pace Car

Living near Indianapolis, I can tell you that one of the biggest events of the area each year is the Indy 500 race. Around here, it's kind of a big deal. In fact, we were advised to not schedule our wedding on the same weekend because all of the hotels were already filling up (>6 months prior to the event). One of the key elements to any good Indy race is the selection of a pace car. Each year, probably based on contributions to the event and other criteria, a new car is selected to set the pace for the race. If you don't know anything about racing, rest assured that the pace car only comes out when necessary, the rest of the time is pure unbridled need-for-speed joy.

I mention this because, like the race, getting to drive the pace car is kind of a big deal as well, and this analogy can transfer loosely to WoW. How, you may ask?

Well my brain got started when Fuubaar asked me a very simple question after our raid last night. Before I get to that... some background. You see, our raiding alliance found it necessary to split into two teams recently (red and blue, my team being blue). We're on that awkward cusp where we don't have enough to reliably do 25 man teams, but we have far too many to do just one 10-man team. Thus, two teams fits us well right now.

One of the natural things that arise out of a two team system is a bit of friendly competition between the two groups. Who will be the first full clear? Who will down which boss first? Etc... If you've been seeing my picture posts lately, you can probably guess that it has been my team that has had widespread success in Naxx recently. Unfortunately for the Red team, they stumbled a bit coming out of the starting gates.

Both teams have very good players and very good leaders. So, when Fuu asked me the simple question "why do you think we had better luck", I wasn't quite sure what to answer. I basically came up with two things. The first, and I think the most important: Having a good pace car.

Ah, so now we see the link in my random ramblings from above. The pace car, right. When selecting your MT, you must keep in mind that you're also selecting your pace car for the night. Each tank will have their own pull style, and the speed can be anywhere between frenetic and f-in slow (the only way I could get alliteration). Somewhere in between is the healthy medium where your tank knows the most direct lines through the trash to each boss, pulls as soon as everyone is ready with very little downtime, and the world keeps on spinning.

We are lucky enough to have a very experienced tank that knows the paths, and is constantly on the cusp of fast and too-fast. As long as he doesn't pull when I'm distributing loot, though, I let him do his thing. Any good raid leader knows when to butt in, but the best leaders know when to butt out. The pace definitely takes some getting used to, as we don't really wait for people to mana up (unless its both of our healers). We make sure to get gathered and rested before all boss fights, but trash is trash, why waste time when you all know what you're doing?

The goal here is to get in that area where you are almost moving at an uncomfortable pace. You don't want to be uncomfortable, but you want to be efficient. It can be tough to find that sweet spot, but when you do... you feel like a well-oiled machine and it makes raids a thing of beauty.

The second major benefit is that we synergize extremely well. For healers, we have a Paladin and a Shaman (or sometimes Pally, Priest, Shaman off heals). Both of our healers are very good players, and their class strengths really shore up each other, shammys being excellent party healers and pallies being excellent single target healers. For tanks, we have a Warrior and another Paladin. Again, both good players whose talents fit well together. For AoE pulls, you have the instant warrior AoE thunderclap thingy, and then the more DoT-like pally consecrate. It's perfect.

I know I said that DPS'ing is hard too, and I stand by that (we have some very good DPSers). But, I can't emphasize enough the benefits of class synergies at the tank and healer spots. DPS synergies can help, but the won't put Naxx on easy-mode like the other positions.

Finally, we have at least one VERY strong player in each spot. These individuals are overgeared, yet still surprise you on a constant basis with what they do. I think we have all good players, but I'm sure you've come across the type of player that is just... wow. You're not sure how they do what they do, but sometimes it takes what looks like certain wipe and twists it to failure.

Our Paladin healer is a fine example of this. It is very much a team effort, but I'm reasonably sure he has solo healed us through AoE boss encounters before (due to an unfortunate death or two), totally breaking the stereotype I have of his class. It seems that his only barrier is going OOM. As long as he has mana, we live. Don't ask me how.

In short, I can point to three important raid qualities that can take you from "good" to "great":

  1. Pick a good pace car, then try not to micromanage - Many a good RL fall into the trap of trying to manage everyone. If you pick good people to come with, trust that they can do their job. Sure, offer tips and advice, just don't nag.

  2. Synergize your spots when possible - I'm planning another article about what I call the "swing spot" in my raids, so I'll talk more about this there. The bottom line here is that good RL's know class strengths and should try to balance them. Not always possible, but when it happens... mmm boy.

  3. Spread your talent out - Not every role is for everyone, if you have a choice though, spreading your special players out can really help. I pick good people over good players any day. Sometimes you're lucky enough to get the whole package... make sure you don't waste it.

I think our Red team will get there. They stumbled early because they were still figuring out the three points above. Once they find their pace, find their synergy, and start making use of their talent... they too will see a lot of success. They have the tools, they have the technology...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last Naxx Picture Book Post

I swear this is the last one. I mean, there are no more bosses left to pwn :-D. Awesome run last night by all involved...

The night started with a "few-shot" kill of 4 horsemen.

The Apocalypse is Gonna Hafta Wait

Then continued with a personal best on Patchwerk as we cleared the construct wing.

4k, Here I Come!

Then we few-shot Gluth...

Bad Dog!

Continuing to Thaddius, I must say that this boss really appealled to my inner electrical enginerd. Really a fun fight.

One Shot, You're Shocked I Know (Aha).

With the big "Mo" on our side, we went into what was for 9 of the 10 people (including yours truly the RL), our first look at Sapphiron.

One Shot Again, No FR Gear, Just Pure Awesomness.

It was getting late, but we figured "what the hay" and finished up with a few-shot of Kel'Thuzad, completing our alliance's first full clear.

Freeze This.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Most Complicated" DPS Rotation

Last week, I was emailed a very interesting post by Flyv making a case for how Cat Druid DPS is possibly the most complicated DPS rotation in the game. You can find the Post Here, but I wanted to make the case for warlocks.

Now, before you turn this into a contest of "who's is bigger", my point is not to try and out do the post, but only to point out that we, as warlocks, also have a very complicated rotation that should be respected.

My first comment on this discussion is that I think any spellcaster rotation is going to be more unforgiving than any melee rotation inherently. That is to say, caster classes don't have the "white noise" component of damage. We aren't up there doing melee attacks automatically, every portion of my damage comes from a specific button click. As a warlock, if I don't apply the DoT, it doesn't do damage. It's not like I can go into "auto-attack" mode at any point. Thus, if I hit the wrong button, miss a button, or just plain space out... I get ZERO damage per second (sure you can have DoTs running, but I would have had to apply them first). My point here is just that melee classes will always have some portion of their DPS which is automatic, and this makes their rotations a little more forgiving if they mess up.

On the flip side, I think the decision making issues are equivalent across most class BY DESIGN. Ideally, I don't think Blizz wants "facerollers" to put up the best numbers (except apparently with DK's... jk sorta :P). I would expect that if we looked hard enougth, most DPS classes would have at least a moderate amount of difficulty in order to put up high numbers. Again, this is how it is meant to be. DPS is NOT just a cake-walk on auto-mode. For the most part, it does take skill and brains. Thus, if someone is putting up big numbers, I will respect them as a player, regardless of class. Even hunters have to use their brains sometimes :-).

With that being said, Affliction Warlockery has long been held to be the most difficult DPS area, at least in my experience. Affliction warlocks are seen to be the brainy, theorycrafting type I think, especially with more recent rotations. Destro may sometimes have been accused of shadow-bolt spamming their way to the top, but I don't think an affliction warlock has ever been accused of facerolling to put up good numbers. Our tree just doesn't work that way, and that is what I love about it. Is this envisions sense of respect entitled? You decide, but I think we can all agree that warlock rotations have long be respected.

Here are a few things I thought about when reading the article (keep in mind this is comparing an Affliction Warlock spell rotation to a Cat Druid Melee DPS rotation as laid out in the article I referenced)

Looking at the effects a druid has to balance, I think we have to balance the same kind of things. While a druid would be looking at energy and combo points... I'm watching my mana and health bars (when to life tap, when to demon tap). Recall that 'locks are not very mana efficient by nature. This is further complicated because where druids are in complete control of their energy and combo points, my health bar can take weird spikes of damage sometimes making it very hard to judge when to use a life tap. This may get harder when a life tap glyph is introduced which gives a spirit bonus, but the point is just that I can't always control my own fate here.

Affliction warlocks have to immediately gauge how fast something will die. This is a learned skill, not something all players inherently have and will make a huge difference when it comes to trash DPS and what rotation to go into. This has to be an almost immediate decision too. Sometimes, I think melee classes are spoiled with being able to basically start every fight the same and then balance it as you go, especially when you rely on energy or rage to open up your abilities. Each playstyle has its difficulties, and I just wanted to point out that this is a skill that I think is often overlooked.

I think there are equal positioning pros and cons for melee and caster classes. In a kiting fight, its probably more difficult for a melee class. In a fight with avoidable AoE and stuff like that, the movement is on the casters. Each boss can really slant to a different strength, but I would call this area a straight wash. I don't care what class you are, you need to be aware.

The article I referenced lays out 9 different heirachal steps for Cats. Affliction warlocks currently have to manage 7 debuff timers alone. This is not inlcuding spontaneous decisions like when to life tap, when to soulshatter, or any pet management at all. Each debuff has its own priority as well. For instance, I know I can't cut off CoA, so that one has to be pretty much applied as soon as it hits its last tick in order to avoid downtime. Most of the others can be cut off with the only downside being mana inefficiency (which increases the decisions when to tap and decreases overall DPS), but balancing when they all run out is certainly a headache. We try to prioritize based on which do the most damage, but a lot of times you just paint yourself into a corner and just have to let a few drop to keep up, and that is REALLY annoying.

Oh, and did I mention how difficult it is to manage damage over time spells? This is another underappreciated skill IMO. I mean, it's one thing when you just put up the occassional DoT, but when they make up the entirity of your offensive offering, simple game mechanics can become exremely trying for you. Take, for instance, aggro drops, or any other mechanic that neccessatitates a call for "halt DPS". We can't just shut it off like a faucet, we leak a bit. There is no button to just "stop" our DPS, it takes planning and understanding of the flow of a fight. It also usually results in a lot of warlock deaths when the tank isn't ready to throw down a taunt immediately after an aggro drop. Our DoTs aren't insurmontable, but you have to be ready for them. I'm sure every Affliction warlock has bit the dust at least once when a boss dropped aggro and ran at you before the tank figured out what was going on.

Luckily, having levelled with our normal MT, she's very good at anticipating this. I just realize that that isn't neccessarily the norm... and no one likes to get called out on vent: "why'd you pull aggro?" What am I supposed to fire back with? Because I was still attacking the boss while it was impossible for anyone else including the tank to attack the boss through no fault of my own? And, as we all know, vent commands are almost always given with plenty of time to respond accordingly... yeah, right.

I think the bottom line is that for each "ying" in cat DPS there is at least a comparable "yang" for warlock DPS. Even though my bias shows in my thoughts, I really don't think one is that exceedingly tougher than the other, especially if your goal is to top the charts. It would make sense that both require a decent amount of skill to be "the best".

I do stand by the point that I think Kitty DPS is more forgiving, however. Like the author even pointed out, you can do a sub-optimal rotation that is simpler and still do decent DPS. You can't really do that on a Warlock. All of our attacks all sort of synergize together right now with stacking buffs, debuffs, etc. 3.1 may bring a simpler rotation where there will be more wiggle room to be able to keep things up, but not really a whole lot less to pay attention to; maybe one less debuff, if we're lucky, two.

I think the case Flyv was making was that when you get the difficult rotation down for a cat, you're rewarded with some impressive numbers. You HAVE preform at that level as a warlock or you're bottoming out the DPS charts in my experience. There really isn't an inbetween right now. Maybe that'll change with upcoming patches, but who knows?

The short answer though, is this: it takes skill to be a good DPS'er. Contrary to popular belief, we don't just sit back in auto-mode when compared with tanks and healers, and that should be the main point you take from this and Flyv's articles. If you're a tank or a healer, give your DPS a pat on the back sometimes when the put up good numbers. After all, if stuff dies quicker, it helps you out in the end too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Continuing With My Commenting Trend

There was another comment I responded to today over on a dual spec post at Fel Fire, which was in response to a whole 'nother issue I have with the way dual speccing is being proposed. I apologize for beating this dead horse, but I think its more interesting and widespread than recounting the fact that I dinged exalted with Sons of Hodir or picked up a 25 Emblem neck piece last night (and once again wondered aloud why the purple badge gear seems to be worse than my heroic blue drops).

Anyways, the suggestion was made in comments that as an Affliction Warlock, doesn't dual speccing really give us the fringe benefit of being able to spec, say, destro for trash mobs now. That way, we can stop complaining about how much we suck at trash, and just swap. In a way, some people already do this with gear now, but it is hardly a spec swap, as the suggestion intoned. There is a lot of validity to this argument, but here is my response.

The problem with that point of view arises when I don't *want* to play destro/demo. I specced Affliction because that is the playstyle I enjoy. If the tree is fundamentally broken for trash, shouldn't they fix that instead of just saying "lol spec destro/demo?" It's a cop-out. And like Elleiras said, I'm okay with not having great trash DPS if I can blow it away on the bosses. That's what I like about my chosen spec. Why should I be expected to swap from the way I enjoy? I want my tree to keep its identity and I want my small community of die hard afflictionados NOT to be expected to do just what you suggest. However, as it stands, why shouldn't we right? There would be no barrier to stop us from switching on the fly and then staying affliction through trash could be construed as selfish since you're not helping the raid as much as you could had you swapped. I, for one, rebel against this whole concept.

I'm all for playing the spec and playstyle that fits you, and then getting good at it. I don't care if you're a hybrid or not... if you like to heal, then heal. Tank, then tank. DPS... well you get the idea. If you happen to be good at multiple roles, then go you, but should all of us be forced into roles we don't want to play just because its now completely easy-mode?

Perhaps this is all a bit dramatic, but do you see the point I'm getting at? Stubborn? Sure! Wrong? You decide.

Short and sweet for sure, but what else is there to say? I don't want to go roll a fire mage any more than I want to respec destro. I'd love to try a demo PvP spec just to be able to pop meta and scare people, but that hardly has anything to do with raiding trash. In the past, Affliction has been awesome on bosses, mediocre on trash, and thus can fight for the top spot on overall meters. If we're just mediocre on bosses and sucky on trash, we can no longer fight. The solution then to just swap specs to be mediocre and mediocre would solve the "not being able to fight" problem, but at what cost? It's just a band-aid for the larger problem of the tree needing some work.

It looks to me like Blizz is still planning to pay proper attention to individual trees, so hopefully it stays that way. I'm just scared we'll start sweeping real problems under the dual spec rug.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some Of My Best Work Comes In Comments

For some reason, I find I write more poignantly when inspired by the comments of others. There is a very interesting "dance" going on between Larisa over at Pink Pigtailed Inn and Gevlon at the Greedy Goblin. The basic question is do you choose a skilled player who is an asshat over a friendly player who is unskilled and the justifications thereof. It's probably pretty obvious where I might stand on the issue and to get the full context you should probably head over to the post linked above, but I think the comment is a valid read in its own right.

Very interesting and glad I caught this. For some reason my blog list doesn't like telling me when you write a new article. I'll have to look into that. I have two very long comments (apologies in advance).

1. If you have every played a sport, especially at higher levels, or follow a sport, you KNOW that any great leader makes those around him better. Look at Michael Jordan. He was amazing, but he also made everyone around him better. A team is never just robots doing their job, but a very dynamic group of interpersonal relationships intertwined to either succeed or fail as a group. Henry Ford's interchangeable parts theories won't function in a true team environment. Is this what we have in WoW? For me and my raid teams, yes. For others... maybe not.

2. Regarding Maslow's hierarchy of needs (In case you're wondering, Maslow's Pyramid is a theoretical structure used in psychology to indicate the hierarchy of human needs, putting the basics at the base like breathing and eating, and indicating social needs have far less importance, such as friendship); Maslow himself wrote: "By ordinary standards of this kind of laboratory research... this simply was not research at all. My generalizations grew out of my selection of certain kinds of people. Obviously, other judges are needed." Generalizations; pause for a moment and reflect on that word. If you take any classes in psychology, you'll quickly learn that, like the English language, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rules. I would point to close familial bonding as one such exception to Maslow's generalizations. Love breaks this "rule of thumb" every time, hands down. The very essence of love is putting someone else before yourself, shattering the very foundation upon which that pyramid is build. Do you love the game and the people you group with? To some extent, I certainly do, but that is another personal question you need to ask yourself. And if you don't love what you're doing in an optional hobby, why do it? What do you get from WoW if not enjoyment?

This game, like many other things in life is most certainly what the individual makes of it. I maintain that you're going to get out what you put in. Feed it love, compassion, and hope... you'll get those returned 10-fold. Feed it malice and hate? Well, you do the math.

Naxx Picture Book Vol. II

Another picture book post today, and I probably won't have time to make a real one. It's a busy week for me. I did want to post about choosing a character name and complicated DPS rotations at some point. We'll see if I get the chance.

Below you'll find more pics of Naxx firsts for our alliance that I need to link. We cleared two full wings last night, one-shotting almost everything we'd done before. It was really nice. The instructor, which we had struggled on before, was a cake walk after we figured out that "exit vehicle" DOES NOT WORK. That's right, if you're mind controlling, don't try to use that one as it doesn't work. You have to use the manual pet dismiss method. That is to say, you much right click on your raid frame that shows you mind controlling and select "dismiss". If you've ever had a combat pet before, it is the same thing. Then, you basically can have your tanks to a 2 taunt rotation, where every two taunts they dismiss and reacquire. This gives plenty of room for overlap so that the boss doesn't run wild through your DPS. Also, it helps to drop heals off of the mind controlled fellas at the end to make them easier to kill. All in all, it was a good night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kel'Thuzad Cliff Notes Version

I was given the opportunity last night to help with some tries on Kel'Thuzad (25-man). The guild I ran with was very much a progression guild with focus on 25-man content, so there were a lot of good players here and it was much more of a "hardcore" environment that I normally run in. Still, everyone was sharp, polite, and it was fun although we did not taste success. I wanted to relate a sort of "cliff notes" version of the fight for future reference, so see if you like this summary from a ranged DPS perspective:

KT is a two phase fight.

Phase 1 - The entire group will run together into the large circle in front of the big guy. This will start the encounter. Trash will begin to come slowly from all sides. The group remains in the circle and kills the trash as it comes. There are three basic flavors of trash here. Skeletons are easy kills, Abominations must be tanked when they reach the circle (or have a DK pull them in), Banshees will remain at a distance and can be ranged down. After a set amount of time, phase 1 will end.

Phase 2 - Kel'Thuzad himself now joins the fight. The MT must pick him up and position him accordingly (normally near where he started), DPS must finish off any remaining adds and then spread out, giving at least ten yards of space between each ranged member. Melee will be behind the boss. At this point, after the tank has aggro, you unleash the beast on KT. You have to watch out for a few things:
  1. He will mind control two random members of the group. They need to be CC'ed accordingly (sheeping, etc...).
  2. He will put a "bomb" on a random member that explodes with a 10yd range. If you get this bomb, it is your job to make sure you don't kill anyone else with it. If you're spaced right, should be okay, but you really do need to check.
  3. He will ice tomb random members as well, this is reason two for spreading out, because I believe it has a similar 10yd radius of effect.
  4. He will do lots of AoE damage to keep healers on their toes. About halfway through the fight (depending on DPS speed), adds will join the party. These need to be picked up by tanks and managed as the DPS stays on KT to burn him down. If all goes well.. success!
I must say, we were only able to get him down to 14% with this strategy, but it was just bad luck here and there it seemed. The group I was with was still very much in the learning stage. Feel free to recommend pointers, but I just figured I'd pass this along while it was fresh.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Group Screenshots

Pay no mind to this post... I'm putting this pictures up so that I can link to them on our alliance website.

Future Rotations and Other Ruminations

Last night saw my first true raid leading experience in Naxx. This week, our raid alliance is getting split off into two groups, so right now we kind of have a "lead by committee" approach, with different capable people leading each run just to get "back in the swing". Last night was my turn, and it went well. We saw our first downing of both Heigan and Loatheb. We have this funny trend of struggling and wiping on an early boss, only to go and one-shot whatever we try next. That's what happened on Loatheb, which can be a tricky fight, but everyone was dialed in and we have some great healers. We'll see how the split goes this week.

The loot goods have deserted me for now, so I'm stuck hovering around a 2.1k average DPS, climbing to around 2.6k average on bosses (more on some, less on others). I still have only broken the 3k mark on that one occasion, but I also have plenty of room for upgrades. I did finally pick up my T7.10 chest this weekend, which was nice. Now if I can get the shoulders... The gloves are kind of "meh" in my opinion, since I got the Gloves of Dark Gestures from Naxx already. Next on my list up emblem upgrades is the 40 badge sash.

Before I get into my thoughts on how a 3.1 rotation might shape up, I wanted to relate the following new glyph that was brought to my attention by Abi over at Fear.Win.
  • Glyph of Life Tap - Using your Life Tap spell will increase your spellpower by 20% of your spirit for 20 seconds.
As Abi pointed out, this will probably become mandatory post 3.1. I, for one, will be picking this up for sure, and you'll see why when you look at my rotation.

I QQ'ed a little before, basically being scared that with the effective removal of two DoTs from our "standard" rotation, we might lose DPS. This still remains to be seen, but the ramifications of the change with respect to simplifying the rotation are growing on me.

Right now, most aff'locks are using some variation of the rotation I'm using: Corr, Haunt, Sbolt, UA, CoA, SL, Immo. I think most will put a SB first and rearrange them a bit, and I don't always follow the same order myself. I almost always throw up Corr first because it is instant and I never have to apply it again. This can very easily be done as I'm getting set up to be able to do my casted spells, thus not wasting those early seconds of a fight.

It's good to throw up H and SB right away to get your Shadow Embrace bonus up. This will not change in 3.1, just will only affect shadow spells. So far, the front end of my rotation looks the same. I will still probably follow with UA and some sort of Curse.

I feel like I must point out here that I move my curse around in my rotation a lot. I normally don't use a curse on trash because they just die too quick. Thus, I usually won't apply it right away until I can gauge how quickly something is going to go down. On bosses, I may try to put it up in that positioning window I talked about earlier, so right after Corr goes up. If I'm using CotE, I try to get the curse up always as early as possible. The long duration ensures that you don't have to watch it as much as CoA.

Now, the butt end of the rotation is SL and Immo. SL will be gone in 3.1 (most likely) and Immo will not receive the bonus from Haunt and Shadows Embrace. This greatly devalues the application of the spell. I don't think it'll be worth it any longer. Thus, you can just drop the entire butt end of the rotation in favor of more shadow bolts. This will also give you a nice window to take a quick breath between reapplication rounds. Before, it had been hard to throw even one bolt in there before needing to refresh. Post 3.1, this shouldn't be the case, giving us a little more wiggle room.

Of course, still throw some drain soul in at the end if you wish, but the basic rotation will now look like this: Corr, H, SB, CoA, UA. Simple, clean, easy.

Getting back to why that glyph is important, every time I reapply Haunt, I life tap. If you do it immediately following your Haunt spell, you will get healed up by the returning haunt right after you've life tapped, making for almost a free tap. This is great stuff already, but with that glyph... wow. Its like a nice little trinket pop every time you tap, and I tap once every rotation... this should almost always be up. With 'locks already carrying decent spirit numbers due to fel armor, this glyph is a no-brainer. Woot!

It's also important to realize that Corr will now return some life to you, so use it gratuitously. For instance, one thing we do on Grobbulus is have a lock or two throw the random dot onto a slime to help the OT with killing it. I almost always switch over and throw both Corr and SL. The life return can save your butt if you get hit by a muta and have to run through a cloud, plus it helps the healers which is good. Now, that will just be one GCD, one DoT. Yay! I'm sure this is going to be our bread and butter, if it isn't already. Nightfall, damage, and life return in one DoT... yes, please.

Anyways, that's just what I'm looking forward to about 3.1. I'm sincerely hoping there's no damage nerf, but at least the rotation will be a bit nicer. I may even welcome some more shadow bolts back into my life...