Archive for May, 2011




Guy #1: So then I said “LOL, srsBzNz”

Guy #2: Haha! What did that jerk of a CEO say to that?

Sign 1: Homless God Bless

Sign 2: —– 4 Food

Guy #2: nvrmind

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Whew, long weekend over! I played lots of WoW. Since the two times we did leave the house for any length of time we went and spent lots of money, or planned on spending lots of money, that’s probably a good thing. (We’re thinking about buying a kayak. With peddles and a sail. It’s kind of more of a boat).

Anyway most of the weekend that I wasn’t raiding I played my little shaman, Anastrophe. Raid went great – we downed 10 bosses this weekend. Nobody new but it was a record number of kills in a single weekend. But this post is about the shaman.

Friday morning she was level 48 and hanging out in Searing Gorge. I blasted through a bunch of zones and got  her to 58 Sunday. Did a few quests in Hellfire and started queueing for dungeons. She’s got an Ele spec for questing and a Resto for dungeons. The first time I queued, I signed up for “random Classic dungeon” and got Upper Blackrock Spire; I zoned in, planning to change specs and drink, to find my party halfway through fighting the big corehound. Ooops. And Vuhdo wasn’t updating because I was in combat and I have my other raid frames disabled (yes Reversion mocked me for that but – eh) so I hit “ctrl-v” a few times until I could see friendly unit frames, found the tank, and threw heals at him. We lived, I switched specs, we killed the final boss in there and dropped group.

That was fun.

Well I kept queuing between questing and by Monday was over 60. That’s when  I started doing BC dungeons. And we all know what comes with BC dungeons… Death Knights! Woot!

They  were all worgen, and about 2/3rds of them did not suck. 50% of the tank dks did not suck. There was one I tried to kick but he dc’d first. And then there was Shaaler.

I’m level 63 ish and I queue and get Underbog. Cool. I even have the quest for here. Three dks, all from the same server, two with complimentary names. No problem. The tank is very competent and the one dk is putting out great numbers, but Shaaler is…. not so good. His damage looks terrible and then – he rolls on intellect mail. Well, he rolls greed and complains that the game won’t let him roll need.

The other two dks start explaining to him, very reasonably I thought, that he doesn’t want that, and why.

This is the start of the exchange. It goes on for some time with them explaining what stats he wants, and him insisting that it’s ok that he wants intellect.

I decide to inspect him. Sure enough…



We get to the end of the instance. Now he’s pulling out the “I just came back to the game after two years” card. I point out that DKs didn’t use intellect two years ago either, and the tank claims to have only been playing for a month and HE knows how to gear so that’s just not a valid excuse.

We finish the run, I thank everyone and drop out. About five minutes later I decide to queue again. In the meantime I’m telling Repgrind this story.

I zone in. Slave Pens, cool! I can finish the quest to find all the missing druids. And then I notice Shaaler is back again. Ugh. And then…

Maybe I was rude but – seriously he though he was going to tank? Wearing intellect gear? This I have to see.

He runs in and kills trash. He has no idea where he’s going, so we try to guide him. We head up the ramp toward the first boss. This boss is a Bog Lord dude, and just before him there’s a pair of Bog Lord trash adds. They hit fairly hard but aren’t that big a deal, really.

The first clue I have that this is going to go badly is Shaaler putting a skull on the boss. And then he runs in. Without killing the trash first. They aggro on him and kill him in about a second.

I try to run away, die. Reincarnate too early and die again.

We run back in – by “we” I mean “me and the dps”. Shaaler doesn’t see fit to release. One of the dps starts telling him just how stupid he is.  As we’re running back, I start to put a reason into the vote kick box – when he drops group.

Well that saves us the trouble. We get back and his body is still there.

We get another dk tank. This one knows what he’s doing and the instance is a breeze.

Honestly I don’t mind dks, or dk tanks, even at that level, but this guy takes the cake for me.  He spends an entire run being told he’s wearing the wrong gear, that he needs to go and read up on his class, and then – he requeues as a tank. Unbelievable.

Anastrophe is 64 now! Watch out world, she’s coming up fast!

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Clearly Elitists


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Twice in the last week I’ve run something where I was on an alt, and there was a resto druid in the group. First was a raid night where I was healing on my paladin, and the other guild brought a resto druid. And then last night I took my Spriest to ZG and the healer was a resto druid.

Both druids complained about their mana regen and their weak heals. Both specifically said “resto druids are broken” or “resto druids need X” (bigger heals, more mana regen).

Both druids were running specs with 38 or 39 points in resto, and pvp gear.

I literally facepalmed when I saw the first druid, with 39 points in resto and two in balance. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. So I whispered her, mentioning that 3 points in Furor really help with mana. “I don’t usually have mana issues” is what she said. Which might be true if she doesn’t raid, but she was having mana problems that night.

The healer last night had the three points in Furor and the rest in resto. I asked her; she said she pvps in the same spec so she had taken pvp talents. But she was also wearing pvp gear. Including a Boomkin tier piece. She had one T11 resto pvp and one T11 boomkin pvp piece, so she wasn’t even getting a set bonus.

Look, seriously, it’s fine to run a suboptimal spec, if you want to pvp in your same spec. It’s fine to wear unoptimized pieces.  But gosh darn it, don’t complain about the class needing something when you’re the one who is  doing it wrong.

I had mana issues. I stacked spirit, and learned to use my trinkets and Innervate right, and my mana issues went away. I had issues with my heals being ineffective, so I learned how to heal with our Cataclysm toolset. I love my druid now. I can crank out meter topping numbers without going OOM. I’m a valuable part of our healing raid team. And it wasn’t that hard! I could just have googled some spec, stuck it in without even looking at it, and been doing better than those two druids.

Resto druid healing isn’t a faceroll, but we’re in a really good position right now. Viable at tank healing, still the best at raid healing, we’re an asset to any team.

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Keep on pulling!

I’ve been reading a lot of depressing posts lately. Peoples’ raids not raiding, having problems, or dying entirely. There’s an air of malaise and oddly it doesn’t even feel like 4.2 is going to pull us out of it. On my server, several of the more elite raid guilds have just stopped raiding. When Crits hits 12/12, we’re going to be in the top twenty on our server.

One guildie who wanted a Fri/Sat raid for an alt took that alt out and shopped hard for a 25 man raid, before finally joining a ten man raid because there just aren’t 25 mans any more.

Repgrind‘s horde guild has attendance issues – though I wish that we could match their dedication when they do get in! They beat us to Cho’gall and it sounds likely they’ll have Nef down before we do, seeing as we haven’t even started work on him yet.

My own raid suffers attendance issues. We have people on vacation, people with weddings coming up, people with business trips – basically, normal life stuff that gets in the way of WoW. Fortunately we have not yet had to miss a weekend of raiding. I think there’s a couple reasons for this:

Most importantly I have a crew of people who love raiding together and have rearranged their schedules to be able to raid. They work hard and have fun and we wouldn’t be 10/12 without everyone pulling his own weight.

Second, I have a firm policy that we raid at 7 pm Friday and Saturday night, if we have to 9 man things, get pugs from Trade chat, or green-geared alts from guild. I don’t care. We raid.  Yes, some weeks we’ve had three priests and two mages; what matters is that we raided. Yes, sometimes we’ve wiped on Magmaw because we’re breaking in a new healer. I don’t care.  We don’t bench our whole raid.

Third and I think this is key – Crits and Giggles has three raids right now, two nights a week each. I think we have at least 7 people who raid in two or more of those raids, and sometimes as many as 4 in all three raids. But that also means there’s a lot of folks who have one raid. And those folks tend to have alts that can come and help out when one of the raids needs a warm body. The guild has a critical mass of people who know the fights, who know how to raid, and who are ready and eager.

All three raids have different atmospheres. I think our raid is a little chattier in vent. We also run longer hours. Sun/Mon feels more businesslike. The Tues/Thurs raid is still getting its footing. Rev and I started running with them last week and the raid’s at…. 4/6 in BWD and the first boss in each of the other raids, with Twin Dragons scheduled to die this week.  That raid has some veteran raiders, in roles they don’t usually play, and some new raiders learning the game, and it’s really coalescing nicely.

It’s not a strategy that will work for every guild, but I wish more of the 25 man guilds that broke into two 10 man runs had tried an approach like that. If you’ve got 25 raiders, at least a few of them are the types to have multiple raid geared alts. Carefully schedule raids on non-competing nights and let people pick which works best for them. There will always be people who can’t raid Tuesdays, or Fridays, or Sundays, but who would love to raid anyway. Keep them in your guild rather than letting them go elsewhere!

I do recommend if anyone attempts this in their own guild – do not let any current raid leader add another raid. First, they’ll burn out. Second, there will always be one raid that they favor over the other and that will hurt the second raid. Third it becomes too much the “SuperproraiderX guild” and not the “Our Team” guild.

What if it’s too late? What if you really are trying desperately to raid every week and calling it every time? At that point you’ve got two options. Recruit, or die. It sounds brutal but it’s true. If you can pull in new bodies, you’ve got a shot to regenerate. If you can’t, it’s probably better to recognize that sooner rather than later. It may be possible to negotiate a merge with another guild rather than losing people piecemeal. I know with the advent of guild perks that guild changing and merging is less popular. Perhaps the upcoming “Guild rename” service will help.

Finally, keep communication with your raid strong. If week after week you’re not raiding, or only raiding one night, let them know what your plan for the situation is. Tell them when and what they may go pug.  Don’t paint it as the end of the world, but don’t act like nothing is wrong. Your raiders are smarter than that and they deserve honesty.

Firelands is coming. I’m excited about it because I’ve got a strong raid and a plan to keep it strong. Look at it as the opportunity to rebuild, or to strengthen your existing raid.  But don’t expect things to just magically improve. If you want to keep raiding, there’s work to be done.

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This weekend I played with a lot of alts. Friday and Saturday were raid nights of course; we did two hours of attempts on Al’Akir, then killed everything that wasn’t an end boss for a total of 9 bosses down. Had some trouble with Chimaeron but overall not a bad weekend. And Logarithm came back Saturday night so we had two tanks Saturday which is always a plus.

In between I assessed alts. Divergent the paladin is now raiding with the third guild raid and her healing gear is acceptable for that task. Several holes to fill but that’s how things work. She can keep tanks up. Invariant, my mage, gets to do archeology and collect pets, mostly. Her gear is barely acceptable for raiding, she can do 10k on boss fights but she needs work if I want her to be able to come in. And Elucidate the priest…. had been ignored for weeks. But since I’ve got both my other healers committed to raids, I wanted to get her tuned up for emergencies.

So I got her out and looked her over. One purple, the alchemist trinket. Two 333 blues and some low level trinkets. Ok for heroics, maybe. If I could remember how to disc priest. Then again, prices on crafted epics had to have gone down, right? I tossed 8k at her and let her go shopping.

Turns out people set the bid price of epics below what my tailor could craft them for. Elucidate bid on pants and belt, bought a pair of gloves that must be from a troll dungeon outright, and put in a request for Analogue to send her a pair of boots sometime. Then I got to work, found a few gems and stuck them in sockets, and queued up with Rev’s warrior tank.

Well…. so…. one thing I’d forgotten about disc priests is how many spells they have. As a resto druid, I use four hots, one of which is an AOE and one can only go on one person most of the time. I’ve got two direct long-cast heals and in raids I basically ignore one in favor of the other. I’ve got Swiftmend, and my two cooldowns, Tranquility and Tree of Life. That’s basically it.

The priest has a shield, a hot, three different Heals, then there’s Binding Heal, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, Holy Nova if you wanted it, Power Word: Barrier, Divine Hymn, and I realized last night I hadn’t even been using Penance. It’s like if you took every spell my druid has, added all the paladin spells, and said here, here’s your toolkit.   Honestly it’s a bit overwhelming.

I flailed along and did the best I could and then next instance I switched to shadow. Partly because I wanted to see if I liked it, partly in the hopes that we’d get a better set up healer and the runs would be faster. That kind of worked. It took me about three runs to get any good at shadow but I started putting out some numbers eventually.

Last night, Reversion was helping the other raid out with tanking so I decided to queue up. After all, it was healer call to arms. I could have queued for a troll dungeon but the priest isn’t stupid so she queued for a normal random heroic. And got Deadmines, one boss in. The rest of the group was a guild group. We took out the trash and killed the bombs boss. I noticed the fight was taking a very very long time and my mana was not happy. Then I got the “kill rats during this fight” achievement and figured ok, they were doing that, it’ll speed up now.

Not so much. Somehow I finished the fight, even with no mana, and I noticed the boomkin was doing 2k dps. Curious how that could even be I inspected him. His gear wasn’t that bad… but he had a trinket with a melee strength proc. Um… Nobody else was doing well either.

We went on and wiped on trash because their dps was so bad they couldn’t kill things. Came back. “Sorry we can’t do this, not enough gear”, the tank announced abruptly and bang, there I was back in Stormwind. Oh well. I queued again, got Throne of Tides. Again, the healer had left after a wipe to the first boss.

I came in, we started. I saw why they were wiping. Nobody interrupted stuff, nobody did anything about the adds. I made suggestions. We changed things a bit. We wiped. We lost a dps. We came back, wiped. Lost  the tank. Came back, wiped. This time I spelled out exactly what we had to do – trap the one guy, mind control one, kill the other, then kill the cc’d adds. They did what I said and the boss died. Sigh.

We then blew through the rest of the place with little issue. I didn’t get my satchel though. I guess having to requeu when people dropped broke it? Oh well.

I got out and switched to Divergent, who queued for healing a troll dungeon. She got ZG. First bad sign. The tank was a dk with funny characters. Second bad sign. He ran off and  I followed as best I could. They went clockwise; all the other times I’ve been there we’ve gone counterclockwise.

Sometime around the third wipe, second boss, I realize these guys – who have been trashing the poor performing hunter the whole time – are all from the same guild. In fact they’re from my server, from a top progression guild inasmuch as we even have those. I comment on it and they make some embarrassed remark about not really living up to their name, heh.

The run is incredibly painful because the hunter is clueless, the dps warrior stands in bad, and the tank isn’t that good. We wipe multiple times. Finally we get to the end boss. The lock and hunter have a fight about who has to do the adds.

Long story short: I give them six tries. They can’t keep adds off me or burn the chains fast enough. It’s after ten, so I drop and go to bed.

I’m not sure if it’s my bad luck or not that I got two guild groups that were totally  useless this weekend, or if it’s just a side effect of Blizz tweaking algorithms but it really screwed me over. There was no way for me to suggest replacing a weak link, no chance that they’d listen to me, and as the easily voted out fifth wheel, my choice was to shut up and keep wiping, or drop.

Guess I get spoiled by bringing my own tank most of the time.

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Still awake


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Drama is funny…

When it doesn’t involve you!

I got to be an on-the-sidelines popcorn muncher for a couple bits of drama this week and it really made me appreciate how our guild handles things. First, on Tuesday I took my paladin to the third guild raid, the one that’s trying to get off the ground. Counting my paladin, we had two healers and we really needed three, so Jhudora the raid leader went and found us a resto druid somewhere.

Three or so months ago, I was short a healer for our raid. We’d brought in a friend of Karius from her old guild to tank, and he suggested we invite a rather new guildie of his, Jhudora. I did and she fit in great right away. Then it turned out she lives in the same town as me. So when I convinced her to be a part of our raid group, I hoped she’d move over to our guild. It took a few weeks but she eventually did. Yay!

Now she was raid leading, on her other healer, the one that doesn’t raid with us. And bringing in another non-guildie healer that none of us knew. I inspected the druid; ok gear, good stats, and a respectable spec. The night before I’d run with a resto druid who had a 2/0/39 spec. I didn’t even know it was possible to put 39 points into resto.

Anyway this druid was really good, and we downed Magmaw, Omnom, Maloriak, and 4 winds and would have got Halfus but ran out of time. Jhudora invited the druid back for Thursday, and throughout the raid we’d made remarks about her being welcome to come to our guild, we’re always looking for good players.

At the time the druid said no, she couldn’t do that, she even knew some of her guildies in real life.

Wednesday afternoon I log on and the first thing I see in guild chat is someone’s achievement. The second thing I see is that druid saying “Grats”.

I ask what happened and she said her guild yelled at her for raiding with us and so she gquit. Now, I don’t know any details. But I do know that she had only killed Magmaw and Halfus before coming with us, had seen some Omnomtron, but nothing else. The guild she was in wasn’t very advanced at all. Did she blow off her guild to raid with us? Did she get saved to something she wanted down? No idea. But whoever handled the situation in her guild, did it wrong, because they lost a very skilled healer.

Then later that evening I’m hanging out doing archeology and I start getting whispers from a new guildie, someone we’ve been raiding with, wanting advice. He’d just run a low-level guildie through a dungeon and the other guildie was asking for more runs, and gold. I’m not an officer but I am the new guy’s raid leader so I guess he felt comfortable asking me. I told him not to give the gold over, and then let an officer know what was going on. That officer hopped in vent with me and the kid and got the story, made sure everything was ok, and let us know that it would get passed up the chain and dealt with. And that no, nobody ever had to give anyone else money.

Now, we’ve had guild drama. Bad guild drama, and recently. Several times people have been removed or /gquit in a huff due to drama.  But what I’ve seen is that the officers and our guild leader Troutwort are willing to take time and work on drama. They try really hard to be fair but when it comes down to following the stated rules or keeping a long term guildie, they follow the rules. Which to me is essential. If you don’t do that, you don’t have rules, you have anarchy.

Any group of more than one person will have drama at some point. The important thing is how you handle it. Crits handles it well. From what I’ve seen, most of the people we’ve lost permanently have been no major loss to the guild. The ones who leave that I wish wouldn’t go, end up coming back. And when other guilds in our orbit have drama, we have a way of absorbing their best and nicest players.

Crits has 450 members. A lot of that is alts; I think it’s a rule that you must have at least four alts to be in Crits. And there’s a lot of inactive members. But if there’s a raid going we often have 20 people online at a time. And even with all those people, I think we’ve had two bouts of drama in the 9 months or so that we’ve been over there. Not bad at all. Good job, Repgrind and Troutwort.

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Friday night we went straight for Bastion of Twilight, as planned. Logarithm’s still off playing Army Men so we brought the new tank who joined the guild last week, Sirius. He worked hard all week and got a lot more epics.

We started right on Cho’gall  – well, we had to kill trash first of course. But we started settling in to the fight. Everyone knew what they were doing. DPS switched to the adds, healers had a good balance.

We worked hard for two hours and then one attempt we got solidly into Phase 2. His health ticked down…. and down… and down. We started losing people. We called for the shaman to pop and keep killing him. He was at 1%…. then less…. then the last of us died. At .6%. That was a heartbreaker.

We did a few more tries that night but were getting sloppier so made the call to go to BWD and kill some farm bosses. We had a couple tries on Magmaw, then one shot Omnomtrom, then failed twice on Maloriak. It was pretty clear that the hard work on Cho’gall had made us tired and sloppy.

Next night, just before raid time I realized my third healer couldn’t come and we looked around for options. Kerick and I briefly discussed two healing it, but while I knew we could manage phase 1, I was really worried about phase 2. Fortunately we were able to get hold of Sharelore who runs with us a good bit. She agreed to bring her priest and we headed back.

This evening, our dps seemed even better but Sirius wasn’t surviving as well. After a good few wipes, we asked him to step out and brought in another guild tank. He did so pretty graciously and we got to work.

Things were a lot more stable with the new tank. He didn’t need as much healing and since he was a druid, his dps was pretty insane. He could even go cat when Reversion had the boss and get some real numbers in.

It took a few tries to settle in. Then we had an attempt that was working beautifully. Cho’gall was up on his throne calling eyeball adds. Our dps stunned and killed them. Our healers chained cooldowns. Both tanks took turns  using their Tranquilities. I died. Other people died.

Then Cho’gall died.

The achievement spam was awesome; not just the kills for all of us, but the guild achievement too!

We lined up for screenshots but none of mine seem to have saved. I don’t know what’s up with that.

For the rest of the night, we were on a high. Reversion stepped out and let Sirius come back and we went and one shot Maloriak, Atramedes and Chimaeron – technically Chimaeron was a two shot, but the first attempt, someone accidentally pulled before the robot came up. So I’m not counting that.

Everyone in the raid really stepped it up this week. Some of our dps added 4k to their average. Most everyone got new gear or used Ask Mr. Robot to optimize and it really showed. Our next progression is going to be Al’Akir; we went and tried him and got into phase 2 twice in our four attempts. I don’t think we’ll have as much trouble with this guy.

But anyway, after a lot of thought I’ve realized why I really like Cho’gall. It’s the best fight I’ve done this tier for emphasizing the the raid as a group. Chimaeron is about your healers being good. Other fights are about positioning. Omnomtrom is about DPS switching targets. Maloriak is all on the tanks. Halfus – well it’s a little different every week; the first minute is a healing check, then it’s a burn fight.

Cho’gall requires tanks to trade swaps perfectly, to keep the boss positioned right, and to handle adds that have to be very carefully placed. A good tank will use all his cooldowns many times on that fight.

Healers have to coordinate who heals whom, who runs around healing the raid during the adds phase and who stays with the melee. In Phase 2, stacking cooldowns is really important.

Ranged DPS have to switch to adds, burn them down, and get back to the boss. Slowing and killing the Blood of Cho’gall adds is absolutely key to the fight.

Melee really get to shine in phase 2 with the eyeball adds. A good melee-er can keep one stunned while he slaughters it. They can help a lot with the worshipping too, although we found a good trick this time; have the whole raid stack carefully and then set our fire mage just a little farther out. If he wasn’t mind controlled, his Blast Wave could break out the affected people instantly. It meant we really didn’t have to think about worshiping when the adds weren’t out.

And of course, everyone has to not stand in bad. I thought our raid is really good at this, and our Cho’gall attempts showed me that I’m right. We almost always went into phase 2 with most people at 10 or less corruption. The adds tank usually had the worst time with corruption because he’s flirting with those stupid puddles.

So, I really think this fight shone as an example of a really good raid fight. I hope we have a lot more like that in 4.2!

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Boss: Happy Friday. Here is your pay stub

Minion: Wait! What is this? It just says “12″.

Boss: That was your roll

Minion: Roll?

Boss: We stopped using time and switched to main/ off spec  rolls

Boss: Much less paperwork…Ted got 95 this week so he got all the pay… Good luck next time!

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