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Getting to Raid: Best Practices for Raid Priority

30 Dec

In a guild like ours where raid priority will be competitive for 25s (and has been for 10s), its important to know how to act.  The officer team is constantly evaluating players, both on and off the field.  Some folks see this as intimidating, but its best viewed as exciting.  Here everyone has an opportunity to prove their value and maturity as a player every day.  Believe it or not, you can do more to secure or damage your chances at a raid spot while benched than while in a raid!

Why Does the Officer Team Take a Given Player?

This is a complicated question and with all complicated questions there are a variety of answers.  The one everyone knows is “because Player A is extremely good at their class/role.”  This is important, as the goal is to give the best players an opportunity to secure spots.

Some people think that officers will select a certain player because they’re more geared.  This is partly true, but less true than one might think.  According to aggregate logs, the gear difference from players running Ulduar and players entering ICC was roughly 15%.  By comparison, raid buffs contribute to a gain of as much as 50% more DPS when compared to soloing.  After a certain base level of gear, gear becomes a much less significant factor.

That said, those who’ve taken the effort to get geared outside of raids make life easier for everyone.  Coming in needing fewer upgrades, they’re less of a burden on the raid.  Players who make this effort will always be looked upon favorably.

Finally, the officer team might not know what a player can do.  If we haven’t seen someone in action, or want to give them a fair shot, its normal to bench another raider to make this a possibility. This does not mean you’ve been replaced.  If you want your guild to succeed, you should be excited for this opportunity to grow.

Why Does the Officer Team Bench a Particular Player?

Let’s cover the obvious ones first.  If you’re pulled from a raid because you kept dying, two things are true: first, it isn’t the healer’s fault; second, you need to review the encounter and reasons for your death and find out how to personally avoid them.  Being pulled out here is an opportunity for you to improve.

If you’re not taken to a raid it could also be because there were people in your role who fit the reasons listed above better.  This happens.  Take the opportunity to listen in on the raid, if you can.  Don’t fill the space with suggestions, but prove your dedication and availability.  This goes a long way.  Also, re-watch videos and re-read strategies.  In short, be ready to step up and impress!

Best Practices

Do not assume because you’re in a raid that you’re better than those benched.

Do not stew with feelings of resentment toward the officer team if you are not taken to a particular raid.  Talk to the officer in your role or your raid leader.  Do not get upset without clarifying the situation.

Do not bother an officer if you only want to complain.

Be critical of yourself.

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.  If you’ve only watched the video once and are fuzzy on the details, watch another video.  Ask questions and listen to the answers.  Get a clear understanding of roles beyond your own.

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Leadership and Raid Direction

17 Dec

I posted the sign up for our first 25 player raid over a month ago. I published a conservative date of January 11th. My hope was to be personally comfortable with my class, gear, and content knowledge by then.

We’re not on a big server, by any stretch of the imagination. Pugging raid content will be unimaginable for at least a few months. This means that my opportunities to explore content before that date are limited not only by work and busy winter hours, but also by the work and seasonal plans of guild members. This can be a challenge.

Additionally, guild members are aware of how well we’re doing compared to other players on the server. I’m feeling pressure to post a more ambitious schedule or coordinate some 10 player runs.

Here’s why that’s tricky:

First, ten player runs depend very heavily upon each player. During the season’s limited level of availability, having a main tank close shop one night amounts to a rescheduled raid.

Second, in a 25 player guild looking at progression content, running 10s leaves several folks waiting on the sidelines. Two 10s seems like an obvious solution, but a 25 requires 2.5 tanks (which can lead to some players falling into roles we’d have to later bench them for).

These sidelined folks can get frustrated, and rightfully so. When asked why I chose Bill over Tess (or whomever) my answers are inadequate and unfair. Usually I don’t have a good idea of how strong a player Tess is, or Bill and I ran a lot of heroics together so I know what he can handle.

This is the crux of it. We’re forced to make composition choices for progression that I’d rather make in an effort to evaluate. In the raiding I do manage over the next few weeks, I’d like to get more content on farm to use as a player testing ground.

Most hopeful raiders don’t even imagine the subtlety of these choices. I’m optimistic that our best raiders will carefully consider the reasons for being taken or benched before getting upset or excited.

Done leveling

8 Dec

Brief update here.

I hit 85 and turned off the computer.  It took me just over 26 hours.  I didn’t level in the best way (we instance ground with friends for the first good chunk of time) and I stopped for a few hours to grind out some professions and race change to goblin.  That said, 26 hours feels like a decent grind time.  Not the best out there, far from the worst.

Then I went for a run and slept.  Best sleep I’ve had in a while, I might add.  I made myself a real meal (not just salsa or peppermint gum) and drank a lot of water.  And had a shower.  Glorious, glorious showering.

What can I say about the grind?  The instances feel good.  The first few were easy with an ICC heroic geared group (and they should be).  The latter few we did required CC and attention, which was a welcome change.  For an all guild group in vent, doing these for the first time was fun and not painful.  I believe we only ever wiped when we got cocky.  I could see pugging these easily enough in a month.

The questing zones are especially well designed.  Goblins, Worgen, and new race/class combos feel like they’ve always been there (and to a degree, they have).  Uldum feels endless without it hindering your rate of questing.  Twilight Highlands looks beautiful and feels as epic as it should.  Garrosh is growing on me.

That’s all for now.  I have to get raid ready, which is going to be a whole other grind.

Excuse the Hiatus. Exciting Developments

24 Sep

My apologies for taking some time.  I’m a very busy lady, and the time needed to run and keep happy a large guild can be taxing.  I love it, and I love the culture and the people, but sometimes life catches up with you.  When “real life” and “guild life” both add intensity, “blog time” (my recreation and downtime) gets lost in the shuffle.  Rest assured, I will be posting with more regularity soon.

What isn’t exciting about WoW right now?  I mean, other than Icecrown Citadel (which we’ve farmed to death), bugs in beta and on the PTR (drowning in no water, for the win!), and the still missing release date for Cata.  Other than those things, game looks great, right?

Shadow on the PTR

Spriests have a few things to look forward to in the coming 4.0.1 patch.  Our shadowfiends should have higher overall uptime, our damage will come from a few additional sources, and we’ll have a risky but powerful execute move, in the form of a buffed Shadow Word: Death.

Level 80 is not balanced.  We’re OP at some things, and our mana regeneration feels off.  Blizzard is comfortable with this, as tuning is build around the new cap, of level 85.

Disc/Holy on the PTR

I dueled for a few hours with a retribution paladin friend of mine on the PTR.  Holy can win duels, and the new Holy Word series is exciting.  It was at this point that I decided to have Holy be my offspec.

And then I tried out Power Word: Barrier.  Let me just say that this spell is a visual masterpiece.  The detailing is perfect, and it makes the discipline priests–the specialization often seen as unnoticed in the meters and raids–bright and shiny in the middle of the action.

Mana management is more of a mini-game, but if the fights allow for it without giving healers a heart attack, I’m all for the change.  Beta reports so far are sketchy.

The Guild

I haven’t been responsible for the transition between expansions before.  I’ve put a lot of plans into place, recruited players with an eye to their long-term prospects in the guild, and kept the space as drama-free as possible.

But I haven’t led raids through a ton of new progression content.  That is, I’ve always had Tankspot.com, wowwiki, and a host of Youtube videos to go over first.  Tackling new Heroic modes with the guild has tested my abilities, but I’ve always gone in having has someone else teach the major parts of the basic fights.

I’m nervous, but excited.  More to follow.

Clever Arena Team Name

26 Jul

3v3 Matches:  Shadow, Frost Mage, Resto Shaman

We began the night with a long drawn out set of matches that had us losing roughly have the matches.  Unfortunately, despite a high MMR, this netted us a slight loss in points.

We’re gradually getting better.  It felt like the first half of the night was all loses, and the second half was all wins.  Its hard to know for certain what we’re doing wrong.  Many strong PvPers I know also have a tendency to lose 3 or 4 games and want to call it.  As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways this can go.

First, you could call it early to avoid tanking your rating.  If one person is having a bad day, or your team just isn’t clicking, there isn’t much point to endlessly losing because of it.

One the other hand, you could be fighting teams you have little experience against.  In this situation, changing tactics and pushing through might be the prudent play.  Also, for folks who work and raid and try to fit WoW in, play time during the week can be limited.  Often, the best thing is to just get in more time with the team, regardless of what that does to rating.

Its hard.  I don’t have a deep enough understanding of play to suggest any one of us is doing something specifically wrong.  I also know both of my arena partners have more work cut out for them on the comp.  PvP is serious business, you see.

2v2 Matches: Enhance Shaman, Shadow Priest

There was a fellow advertising in trade he wanted a shadow priest.  That’s me, the spriest.  There are some marvelous things about this comp.

First, the shear amount of passive healing is stupid strong.  When he’s got wolves going and I’m able to free cast, neither one of us can reasonably be killed.  This state of invincibility lasts for about 45 seconds.  In that space we have to get a kill, and quickly reset.

And let me tell you, the rests are AMAZING.  Hexing a dps or fearing and then having us both able to off-heal is smooth.  I’m glad most teams can’t rest this easily.

Our matches haven’t been a “faceroll to the top” series yet, but we’re learning to play together.  Everything I’ve learned about support and CCing for kills goes completely out the window.  We literally just have to burst, REALLY HARD.

More on success and failures coming soon.

The Lich King will Answer for his Crimes!

14 Jul

Our guild is working on the Lich King encounter in 25.  Our 10 player group has drakes and has finished every hard mode available, so we have a good group of players.  Our issue is getting them all to show up.  I’m excited that having a soul-numbing and challenging encounter will give us all something new to play with, but I’m concerned about attendance preventing us from getting this kill.

There is a movement in our guild to extend the lockout and give him a week’s effort.  I held off doing this last night to see how far we could get with a dedicated push.  We made it to him with 30 minutes left in our 3 hour long raid.   That’s a lot better than I expected, but a few of the folk in there last night are alts from another guild.  We won’t have them tonight.

We cut back raiding significantly to give everyone a break for the summer.  We’re raiding 25s 2 nights a week, 3 hours a night.  This was a manageable commitment for ICC, but with the hopes of a focused push for the Lich King and still farming the Ruby Sanctum for that hot new loot, I feel like we might need a third night.

I put it to a vote on our forums.  We’ll decide by consensus.  The challenge of any kind of leadership role is your accountability to your team.  As a raid leader and an officer, I’m here to make this game more enjoyable for 24 other people.  When they’re happy, I’m happy.

We’ll see what tonight brings.  I have mentally prepared myself for weeks of wiping and re-assessing.  

On the Proper Care and Feeding of Shadowfiends

14 Jun

Healers experimenting with shadow will recall these friendly guys. They only hand around for 15 seconds or so, but they’re your best friend for every second of it as they completely refill a mana bar. Shadow priests with entry-level raid gear are welcome to continue to use the SF as a mana source, but once well geared mana issues almost completely disapear.

Since changes with 3.1, shadowfiends now do decent DPS. I personally use mine as a DPS cooldown, and pop it early in the fight. This enables me to use it two or even three times in a fight, for a nice boost to dps. Usually if I was going to have any mana issues, this takes care of it naturally while maintaining maximum dps.

If a gimmick of a fight somehow leaves you significantly show on mana, popping Hymn of Hope before unleashing the fiend will significantly increase the mana return.  As a blood elf, I also use this trick to get more mileage out of Arcane Torrent.

I encourage anyone using this fiendish little friend to give him a nickname.  Mine is named Rupert!

Fiendishly Friendly!

Rupert, Part Time Mana-Butler