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Guild VS Raid

This week, I’ve read several posts about people’s guild organization, management, and member ranks. Vidyala wrote about it; so did Saga, Alas, Zelmaru. There were others too I just don’t have them all at my fingertips.

Reading all this made me realize Reversion and I got luckier than we thought when we moved to Winterhoof to join Crits and Giggles. We already knew it was full of friendly people, some of whom were bloggers, with raiding opportunities anda  culture we’d like. What I didn’t realize was how apparently rare it is to find a setup where raid != guild.

There are currently two raids in Crits; our Fri/Sat and a Sun/Mon, both ten man raids. As more people gear up there will probably be a third raid. We’re not likely to develop a 25 man, tens are our strength.

There are several guild officers in Crits. I mostly know because of who I have to ask for invites for new alts. Officers work hard behind the scenes to set stuff up – but so can any member that wants to. Reversion and I have not been hampered by our normal-member status; in fact it probably helped to create the raid we wanted, where every raider has an equal voice – but Reversion and I are the benevolent dictators because we do the organizing.

There are two ranks of “normal” member in the guild, one for all members who have authenticators, with guild bank access and repair funds, and one for non-authenticator-members without. That’s it. There’s no “elite” raiders or “unimportant” socials. No “trial period” for the guild. No need to remove people because their gearing up is slower.

Admittedly, we are not a Serious Raiding Guild. We are not trying for server first, or server tenth. Reversion’s and my raid has yet to down our first boss (Tol Barad guy does not count) while the other raid just killed their first Sunday (I got to step in for that). On the other hand, at 7pm Friday all my raiders are online, in vent, at the instance, ready to go. They listen and do what we ask and we have fun.

I want us to get some more bosses down so we can demonstrate that you CAN be a social guild with raiding success. That you can choose raiders based on their personality fitting with everyone else and demonstrated potential to not be bad, rather than their uber gear.  But what I like best is knowing that if someone doesn’t fit in our raid, that they may still fit the guild. When the two are not the same thing, there are options like that. We have a guildie who is a notorious PVP’er, the sort of guy who is server-infamous; we’re not a pvp guild and he does his own thing but for whatever reason he likes us. We’ve added a couple members in the last week from a similar level of raiding guild (ie, not very, but wants to raid) because we’re a nicer environment and don’t kick people because they’d rather be a shaman than a priest. We have people with ten alts in the guild, people with none.

It’s nice, it’s low-stress, and it’s our WoW home.

 

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This post is aimed at players in our raid but anyone is welcome to comment on it.

First off, our mission statement. We want to run a ten man progression raid that is able to take down current content. We are not aiming for server firsts, but want to be a serious raid. We raid two nights  a week, Friday and Saturday, 7-11 CST, every week.

Attendance and Performance

  1. First and most importantly, the consequences for raid-related behavior are just for our raid. This is not a ‘Guild Raid’. We have neither authority nor desire to impact your standing in guild. If you don’t work out with our raid, or don’t like our raid, you can stop coming and no one from the raid will give you any grief in guild or Vent. We try to play well with the other guild raids but we don’t consider this to be a guild run. The only ‘punishment’ for anything is not getting invited regularly, or at all.
  2. Second, attendance is important but ‘prior notice’ and ‘fair warning’ are even more important. I will have invites out every week early. Please accept or decline as soon as you can. If it’s going to take you to Wednesday to know if you can raid, sign up as tentative, tell me, and then change as soon as you know. Please communicate me if you decline as to why you can’t come; if you are burned out on raiding, I won’t bug you next week. If you just can’t make it this week but still want to be in the consideration let us know as early as possible. Reliability is a factor in deciding who gets invites.
  3. Once you have accepted, I try to set up “confirmed” and “standby” lists before Thursday  so you know. If you are standby, please hold your raid lockout open. Otherwise be free to do whatever you like that evening – as long as you’re willing to step out and join us if we need you. Feel free to ask me what “standby” means in your case: I may be able to tell you how likely you are to get in.

    On a side note: To be a successful reliable raid that is doing progression we have to have ‘standby’ people. It is important to the raid’s viability. No sports team goes to a game without the minimum number of players and expects to win. Likewise we have to have at least a mental list of those we call on when something happens or a fight needs a different strategy. Who is in the initial invite, who gets confirmed and who is on standby is variable based on what the raid needs most and what has the best chance of success. As we start actually making progression we will do what we can to get ‘alternates’ their shot at various bosses so they can keep gearing up.

  4. Raid time is 7 pm. That means be ready to start pulling trash at 7, with your flasks and  food buffs in your bags, not in a heroic, and not asking for a summons. We don’t have any authority to ‘punish’ but we stop putting unreliable people in the initial ‘confirmed’ slot, or will stop inviting them altogether. The raid must go on.
  5. Quitting time is 11 PM server. We plan to rarely pass that. If we have a boss to 1% we might take a vote to try one more time. If we take one you are free to say ‘no’ with zero penalty. The majority of the time we will end as near to 11PM server time as we can. This prevents raider burnout and also helps people keep outside commitments.
  6. Leaving early is frowned on. If you can’t stay the whole time, talk to Analogue about it BEFORE raid time/day. We can make adjustments in some cases but if you drop out early for something that is not an emergency we will take that into consideration the next time we send out invites. The raid must go on.
  7. Raid night is Friday AND Saturday. If you can only make one, be sure to let me know that. You will then have a lower priority for the other raid night that week. If I have to bring someone in to fill a slot on Friday, that slot belongs to them on Saturday if they want it. I don’t want to take advantage of people and get them saved to raids without any hope of finishing. It might take most of Friday to figure something out and it is bad for the success of the raid as a whole to be swapping people in and out too often.
  8. Performance: Gearscore and Recount are tools. We use them. We do not worship them. If you are the top dps but can’t do your interrupts and stand in fire, you are not as good as the guy doing less than you but not standing in bad. Period. Conversely if you are missing gear, we are going to ask that you find a way to fill those slots. A pair of  333 bracers is bad luck at the wrist slot; five pieces of green gear is a sign that you don’t really want to raid.  This is a fuzzy one. We take into account the numbers, the harder to quantify skills but also ability and willingness to learn, adapt or overcome. Attitude is weighed in and so is the vague general ‘fit’. Most of a successful raid is how well people work together. We will not bludgeon, threat, or cajole people to try and force them to fit in or follow the plan. We will just stop inviting them and find someone else.

Requirements for Raiding

  1. Deadly Boss Mods. No ifs, ands, or buts
  2. Ventrilio. You don’t have to talk; you do have to listen
  3. Vuhdo, Grid, or Healbot for healers, configured to show relevant debuffs
  4. One of the above or Decursive for mages, spriests, pallies, anyone who can remove bad things or apply good ones
  5. Gear to have at least cheap enchants and gems. We can help you with those; talk to us if you need enhancements. Armor packs are ok for tanks.  At least the lower level arcanum and inscription appropriate to your spec. This is very minimal. Further gearing up ‘requirements’ will be based on the need of the fight and will determine who gets confirmed and who doesn’t.
  6. Flasks and buff food. We’ll try to have feasts but at least have a stack of fortune cookies or something. You can use the 60/60 buff food, or the 90/90, your choice. Again, if you need things cooked, talk to Analogue.

Raid Composition

  1. Sometimes, for the good of the raid, we may not be able to take everyone who wants to come. If we have four dks who would really like to come, that is probably not viable.  If I have to choose between bringing a third druid healer or a paladin, I will probably bring the paladin. This is not a reflection on anyone. It’s just about getting bosses down.
  2. Sometimes we may ask someone to swap roles or even characters, or step out so we can bring someone else in. This will either be because of some mechanic (we need a knockback, so I have to go boomkin) or we just don’t have the right group composition (nobody with fast interrupts).
  3. These days buffs are fairly homogeneous so it’s unlikely that we’ll have to choose someone just because of a buff they bring. That said, if we have four druids and five plate wearers, we may miss some key ability, or even be running the risk of getting useless drops.  It probably won’t affect the raid as much as ranged/melee/tank/heals balance but we may take it under consideration.
  4. Swapping in and out people to tweak a strategy, fix an issue, improve DPS, increase healing, etc. will be done as needed for the good of the raid. We appreciate everyone having a good attitude about it. Please no drama over it. We value good attitudes. To be honest, someone with lower DPS that is willing to step out for the good of the group is probably more likely to keep getting invites compared to someone who has high DPS and a negative or abrasive attitude. LONG TERM success of the raid is as much a factor as week to week success.

In-Raid Behavior

  1. Everyone we invite is a mature adult (well, in some cases precocious teenagers are invited) who is another actual human being. Everyone deserves to be treated properly. Therefore, there is no insulting of other raid members in raid chat or vent. Mild and good natured teasing is ok; when it goes over the line and becomes attacking, that’s not ok. Use good judgment. If we have to warn you about it don’t be surprised if the invites stop coming.
  2. This includes trash talking. Some people love that stuff and can dish it out and take it just fine… but some people don’t. Don’t post your meters to brag or talk smack. If you want to call someone out for something whisper us about it. If you want to brag, do it in some other chat or after the raid. Our goal is the success of the raid as a whole. This requires a supportive environment where people can excel as a team.
  3. Drama and over sensitivity are likewise discouraged. And ‘blow ups’ are right out. If something or someone bothers you, say so. If you have a problem with someone, whisper us about it. If they stepped over the line tell them calmly, or tell us and let us deal with it. To a point… We aren’t mommy. We are here to raid, not to solve your personal frictions. We are not forcing you to raid so don’t force us to deal with your drama.
  4. Vent is to be kept clean. We’re not going to kick you for a slip of the tongue but swearing doesn’t make you a better raider. No sexist, racist, or hateful speech. I don’t care if you are, say, Polish, making “dumb Pollack” jokes is not all right. You can extrapolate from there to whatever minority group or opinion you like.
  5. Vent is to be kept clear. We won’t be total sticklers here either but during pulls, stay off the air. If the tanks miss a swap because you won’t shut up, that’s bad. If the healers don’t hear “Mana Tide down!” and go OOM, that’s bad
  6. Talking about strategy is fine. We love suggestions and insight. But once we have settled on a strategy, that is the plan for that pull. If we wipe, we can discuss it again later. Do not try to execute your own plan while we are expecting something else.
  7. After a fight keep the discussion to problem solving, trouble shooting, and simplify passing along information. Accusations and arguments do not help us get down bosses. Dispassionate discussion of what happened does. If we have to point out something you did wrong or ask you to do something different to tweak a strategy take it like an adult and don’t take it personally. We all make mistakes. Making mistakes does not get people kicked from a raid. Blowing up when called on a mistake might.
  8. If you don’t know, ask. We are willing to explain things and even re-re-explain them. If you are at all unclear on something before a pull please ask. If you don’t understand why we’re doing something, ask; sometimes the mechanics of a fight are complicated and need more than one explanation.
  9. Keep a good attitude. Wipes happen… in raiding they happen a LOT. We all know this and accept this. Complaining someone got us killed, whining about repair or flask costs do not earn sympathy. If you can’t wipe for hours with a cheerful attitude raiding is not for you.

Loot

  1. Currently, we plan on using priority rolls followed by main spec rolls followed by off spec. BUT, that is later, when we are getting several bosses down. For now things will be a straight single roll for main spec if anyone can use it or offspec if no one can.
  2. For BOEs, we’ve been pretty lax at letting people take them for alts and friends if no one in the raid can use them. That may change. We have people that have alts that are likely to be needed for swapping in and out to tweak strategies. Sometimes we might have to designate BOE drops for those characters. We will try to be as fair as possible.
  3. Don’t be a loot pig. If you get three drops in one run (yeah, not likely any time soon) be courteous and see who else can use them. Depending on the needs of the raid we might let you have all three or we might let someone else have something.
  4. Spirit is for healers. Yes, some dps casters can use spirit but healers get dibs. Hit is for caster dps. Healers can roll if the mages don’t want itRoll on gear that is appropriate to your class and role. If you roll on something that does not match we reserve the right to give it to tell you and ignore the roll. If you think we are mistake about it feel free to ask. We do not fly off the handle. Just being it up in a calm sensible fashion. We can admit we are wrong but we don’t respond well to dramatics.
  5. Veto Power: This early in the expansion we have lot of gear needs to make the raid viable. We, the raid leadership, reserve the right to redirect something based on greater need for the good of the viability of the raid. We don’t much because we are really nice people. The example might be to prioritize one person’s ‘off spec’ over another’s based on what the raid might need them to change to. We reserve the right to do this but in practice we almost never do. This might seem vague and annoying but frankly things like DKP drive me nuts. Way too complicated. And loot councils are cumbersome. We will retain full veto power but will listen to input from anyone that wants to say something. Then we will decide. In practice we just let the roll happen and award the loot. If someone has a really bad need for a particular item we might consider using veto power. I don’t expect this to happen much, perhaps not ever. If it does we will discuss it enough that everyone is reasonably happy with the decision. Just don’t confuse such a discussion with a council vote.

Have Fun

  1. Or else!

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Raid Expectations

It was the best of raids, it was the worst of raids; it was the strat of wisdom, it was the strat of foolishness; it was the pull of belief, it was the pull of incredulity; it was the heal-y zones of Light, it was the void zones of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way

Ok, so, apologies for the Dickens parody quote and from the wrong book at that (but honestly, Great Expectations was a terrible book). It just seemed appropriate for me. The weekend’s raiding was an emotional roller-coaster for me. Hopefully less so for my raid partners.

First off, we are not Serious Raiders. We are not a “raid guild”, nor is our run an official “guild run”. There are no apps and requirements but conversely Reversion and I have a free hand to manage things. Last week was our first raid at all, so it’s not like we have a bunch of super players who were ready the week after Cataclysm. I’m well aware that we’re weeks behind the world first but darn it, I am proud of my raiders because they try hard, they know their stuff, and they’re really pretty darn good. Gear will come; skill is, I think, there already.

So last week we raided only Friday and while we made a few token boss pulls in Bastion of Twilight, we were mostly there for the trash. Our dps was too low, our tanks’ gear was weak, the healers’ gear was lacking…. but we made the couple pulls and started to learn the basics of the fight. This Friday, we headed in with the determination to do some serious attempts.

First, though, I had to deal with my attendance issues. We’d had one raider tell me he just wasn’t feeling it, and wasn’t going to be raiding. One raider wasn’t levelled yet. One had horrible gear issues. One of my healers had to work until two hours past pull. And the other healer…. declined my invite.

Not a problem. I brought in another druid, Elia who has raided with us on her shaman or druid on occasion. I knew she was a solid player who’d have my back and heck, I’m always looking to expand my “healer bench”. Falahla, one of our two pro mages, got her hunter husband Ado to come along. He is a Serious Raider like we aren’t, but he was taking the week off so nothing kept him from trying boss pulls with us.  We pulled in Grom’s paladin, and a warlock who is in the other guild raid (to be specific, the player is in that raid but usually on a different character) and went.

We two-healed the trash without incident. Well, there was the time we accidentally pulled the second patrolling group while we were working on the first. “Everyone out!” Reversion ordered, and we made it…. except for poor Whodowhat the warlock, who had just zoned in and got eaten. Ooops. Elia and I coordinated our Lifeblooms, we used crowd control like the pros we are (if there’s one thing I want to boast about in our raid, it’s our crowd control. Reversion is expert at setting the pulls, our raiders are great at carrying it out and keeping things sheeped/frozen/repented, and as a healer I love that)

So we started making attempts on the boss. We had dragons 1,2, and 5 active, going around from the left; that’s the one that gives the boss an attack speed buff, the one that makes the boss stack a healing debuff on the tanks, and the one that makes the proto-dragon have a Flame Barrage ability. (I think; Reversion will have to correct me if I’m wrong [Rev: I edited it] ) The obvious first one to be released was the one with the attack speed buff. Healers couldn’t handle the tank damage otherwise.  Then we’d do the flame barrage one, so that we could see the incoming fire attacks and get out of it.

Well, long story short, the healing was brutal. Just brutal. We could keep either the tanks or the raid up, but not both. Around 9, our missing shammy healer came on and we asked the lowest performing dps to step out. He, being a good guy and knowing that his gear was terrible, graciously agreed and we brought in Chalandrae. That helped a lot.

Then one attempt, we get the second drake down and the healing gets so much easier. Everyone burns the boss. I throw some Wraths, Chalandrae fires off Lightning Bolts – and at 15%, he hits the enrage timer.

So we go back in, set up again, the tanks die. And again. We do some discussing and the healers all agree that the tanks felt squishier the last few attempts.  We check their gear. Reversion looks ok – well, now;  back at the start of the night, after doing all the trash and our first wipe on the boss, Ado asks in vent why exactly Reversion is wearing his fishing pole. Ooops. Logarithm’s gear has some pieces that are more dps-y than tank-y, and he definitely took more damage than Reversion. We decide that the good attempt, they just somehow used all their cooldowns perfectly and that’s so hard to replicate with our skill level (Rev: We do pretty well with cooldowns all the time but that first phase, if you have just one dragon out, is a real healing race with what the tanks take and what the raid is getting from the fire balls. That one try it just happned that what was falling from the sky, what the healers were casting, and what the tanks were poping, all dovetailed perfectly.) But it’s quitting time anyway, so off we go.

Now, during the raid I determined that I had made a serious error. I had forgotten to put Saturday’s raid on the calendar, and some of my raiders thought we were only going Friday. I had to talk to a few and assure them that we were indeed going Saturday and please not to go with a different group that was rumored to be going.  But all day Saturday I was nervous. We were already having attendance issues and now….

Saturday afternoon I whispered with the healer who had declined our invite, asking him what was up, since I’d seen him online when we were. He said he didn’t think we were geared enough to down bosses; I said that we knew we had some weak slots, and one guy whose gear wasn’t that great and we asked to step out when we had a viable replacement and an obvious need for a stronger raider. He clarified that he meant tanks and healers needed “all 346 and one or two purples”.

Ok, I got mad. If you Wow-Heroes’d me (apparently a favorite of some guildies) you’d see I have a 316 trinket, because I haven’t got the heroic version of it yet and I prefer it’s spirit proc to any of the higher ilvl trinkets that I have. And 333 bracers because, darn it, there’s two pairs of heroic leather bracers out there and I can’t get either to drop. But I had just the night before gotten an epic staff from Bastion trash (it’s so cool; it looks like a Twilight Hammer symbol!) , we were gemmed, enchanted, and darn it we’d hit the enrage timer at 15% to go the night before. Which I pointed out.

Well, we got back after church and the other raid had started – but my core raiders were waiting for us in vent. I got us; seven of us. I added whodowhat, and then…. we needed another healer and a dps. Elia hadn’t come online, but Chalandrae had so I had a shammy healer, but after last night I knew we needed three.

Karius started asking around, and found us some people from her old guild; Squishi the feral druid, and Jhudara the shammy. So we were set. Two shammy healers and a tree sounded good to me!

We went and started making attempts, refining our strategy all night. Finally we settled on three tanking it – Squishi turned out to be a great bear as well as a cat – and releasing two drakes at once, burning them down, then killing the boss. It started being obvious that we could survive into the boss-burn stage with this. Once the healers OOMed and we wiped; I asked the shammies to drop their mana tide totems in a defined order and to call out when they were doing it, and that helped.

By the end of the night we were reliably into the final phase and hitting the enrage timer with 12% or less to go. Our best try was 9%. We discussed trying to two heal, or find a way to get more dps, but we came up against the end of the raid.

Now, this is why I titled my post “raid expectations”. That just seemed the theme of the whole weekend. That raider who didn’t think we were geared enough? The raid he went to didn’t do as well on the same boss; by 10 pm Saturday he’d rsvp’d for next week’s raid. Elia, who heals for the other guild raid, mentioned how much she enjoyed our expert crowd control usage. We’ve been having a discussion with some guildies who just don’t see CC as that important. It’s really funny but those guildies are invariably NOT healers.

Jhudora, the pugged in shaman, kept whispering me about how much she liked our raid for keeping Vent fairly business like and not having vulgarity and mean-ness in our raid chat. I admit, I was sort of taken aback, but then I remembered that that’s one reasonwhy I decided we should run our own raid; because that crude “humor” annoys me so much. I find a lot of women who run with us really enjoy the non-sexist, non-crude, affirming atmosphere. We often has 5 or 6 female players in our raid.

Well, I invited Jhudora to come with us next week too and hopefully she will – she’s exactly the sort of healer I want.

I did decide that the guildie who said we weren’t geared enough has a point (Rev: A small one. An average of one upgraded item per person and we likely would have had the boss down. The raid that person bailed on us to go to wiped hard and broke up early), and this week I WILL get exalted with Wildhammer for a couple epics there, we WILL upgrade some of Reversion’s gear, and we WILL work with our raiders to see a few upgrades, make sure they are enchanted, grind mats for flasks and feasts (we ran out halfway through Saturday night) and hit things really hard this weekend. I want Halfus to come down; then we’ll decide whether to push on or to visit Magmaw or Omnitron.

This already is a wall of text so  I’ll save my discussion of what I want in and from my healing team for later this week. Until then, I’ll just note that this week I have 13 invites out on my raid invites – and 8 confirmed,  4 tentatives.

Oh, and does anyone know a good addon for doing calendar invites and stuff? I want to be able to do Fri and Saturday’s invites at the same time without the hassle…

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Oh, hi there. How was your Christmas break? Did you play a lot of WoW?

Welcome to Monday. Hope it didn’t hit too hard.  Honestly it wasn’t too bad here; the water heater was on and that always makes for a good start to the day. Now here I sit, working – er, waiting for someone to get back to me – and it’s time to get some fresh content up!

So Friday was our first Catacylsm raid night. As a reminder, Reversion and I are wrangling a raid with guildies. It’s not a raid guild – ie, no applications for raid slots, no serious raiding culture – but we’ve got some darn good players. We’re not officers, nor do we have powers to reward or punish beyond just inviting or not inviting to the raid. During the end of Wrath, we ran with an open loot system; I’ll be doing Loot Master from now on but we’re still just planning to roll on stuff. Honestly Loot Council takes too much time in a raid like ours, DKP is a pain in the butt, and anything else just doesn’t fit us.

As always I sent out invites the weekend before. I had one straight “can’t make it” and one who warned me she was unlikely to be able to go; that was ok. I asked a backup, and we had two empty slots to fill anyway.

There’s another raid like ours in the guild, on Sunday/Mondays, so after asking around and finding out that they planned to start in Blackrock Descent, I decided we’d go to Bastion of Twilight. Some of our raiders are the same people, and until they get all their alts geared up they may be raiding on the same character in both raids. I didn’t want to worry about lockouts, or burnout. Plus, I figured if we had empty slots it would make sense to try to fill in with people from the other raid.

As Friday approached, my gear looked ok, Reversion’s was looking good, even my brother’s tank set was nice and shiny. He came to visit last week and we were able to do some good runs, as well as rep grinding to get gear. But I knew some others in our raid weren’t really ready yet. I decided we’d wait and see. Then Thursday night Repgrind told me that Bastion trash is dropping epics at a pretty good rate, and I had a plan. I sounded out several of my invitees and they agreed; we’d start with some trash clears and see how things went.

Friday night rolls around. One of my raiders doesn’t show, one of the new invites. I find out later his internet choose that time to explode. We gave him twenty minutes, as we went out there (pro tip: there’s no summoning stone at Bastion of Twilight, so get there early) and got arrangements made. Then we pulled in a  dps DK to replace him. She was in the other raid so I figured we were helping guild raiders anyway.

We start clearing trash. It hits hard, but we had an expert guide – Ado, a hunter who used to be in our guild and whose wife is a core raider in our run. He’d been in here enough to be an expert on setting up the pulls, and was willing to clear trash for a chance at epics, even if he couldn’t help with boss attempts. It sure made the first few pulls a lot easier! Not to mention his 14k dps…. anyway. Toward the end of the first trash clear, a one hand sword drops. I’m conflicted. The stats are more dps-y than tank-y, but my brother’s warrior really needs the sword. The DK, who is not a member of our run, could definitely use it. Finally I tell them both they are eligible, they roll, and my brother wins the sword.

I believe there may have been some discontent with my decision but hit is a tank stat when you’re not hit capped against raid bosses yet! And I allowed both to roll, I didn’t just award it to my brother. Regardless, three pulls into the next run, it drops again and goes to the DK, who was thrilled. It dropped again later that night and we gave it to the same DK, so she’s dual-wielding some pretty sweet swords now!

We reset trash five times and had five epics drop; three of the sword, the agility trinket, and a gun that went to my brother as the only person there who could use it. The trinket went to someone not in our raid. So as a gearing up attempt, less than stellar. As a learning experience? Just great.

So after the fifth clear, the natives were restless and we decided to try some pulls. We read what abilities the active dragons would do and decided to release the whelps and the guy-who-gives-giant-aoe-damage ability. First time through, we released both and once and died. Ooops. Second two attempts we released the larger dragon first, and died to fire. Final attempt, we took the whelps first and died, more slowly but as surely from being knocked around. Honestly we knew going in that we didn’t have the dps for it.

I’m hoping the night served as a reminder to a few people that they still need some gear, maybe enchantments or flasks or whatever else. I’ve got next week’s raid scheduled and some personnel changes to make, perhaps (apparently the person I thought was tanking the other raid, does not in fact have a raid slot at all right now. I need to talk to him and see if we can change that) All in all I had fun though I’d like to actually start downing bosses soon. I’ve got the raiding bug!

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I love long weekends. Seriously love them. They give me time to play WoW and also do other things I love (cook elaborate turkey-based feasts, work on NaNoWriMo, watch the toddler tease the kittens, check out the Playstation Move Gladiator Combat game [ow, stiff arms today!]). Mostly play WoW though.

This was definitely a healer-centric weekend for me. From least advanced healer to most:

My Gnome Priest, Elucidate, dinged 80 yesterday. That makes four pairs of 80s for Reversion and me. Three pairs of tank/heals, including one pair that’s tank/heals/heals/tank. Huzzah! We got them enough gear to get into regular TOC and the ICC 5 mans (did anyone else notice they raised the gear requirements on heroics and such?) by raiding the guild vault, buying a piece or two, and crafting a couple ilvl 200 pieces. Then we ran TOC and FOS/POS on regular a few times for some gear. Yeah, it’ll be obsolete but hey, a few pieces will make leveling to 85 easier. And my trinkets were really really bad.

The best bit was, I’d been queueing all day as dps/heals. Halfway through our third TOC I was thinking how easy it was to heal this time. Then I saw a Living Seed on myself. Then I noticed the druid wasn’t showing up on Recount. Ooops. I’d forgotten to check what my role was, and I was supposed to be dpsing! I switched to Shadow, apologized, and dotted the Black Knight to death. Ahem. Ooops.

So she’s disc/shadow. I’m not sure I’m good at disc yet, at least not beyond “bubblebubblebubbleSMITE” but I can keep the party alive most of the time. And PW:Barrier is cool. Too short, but cool. Even if people always run out of it. Sigh.

Divergent, my Holy Pally: this is backwards chronologically but I want to whine about druid heals at the end so, Saturday we did an alts run on ICC and I brought Divergent. I like paladin healing right now. Charging up Holy Power and using either Word of Glory or Light of Dawn feels amazing. With Beacon and my self-healing, I can keep myself and one tank alive with basically no effort. It’s very nice. We went 9/12 with a couple heroics but the group wasn’t our normal one, we had alts and some guildies who don’t really run with us and while it was fun I didn’t feel like we made as much progress as we usually do. Still, I like having the pally heals available.

Analogue the Druid. Oh, my. Friday night’s ICC we extended a lockout that had just Sindy and LK. Try as I might I could only get 9 guildies in (turkey casualties were high this weekend) so we ended up bringing in a friend of one raider as a third healer. So our heals setup was druid, paladin, disc priest. I thought we were in trouble when the other healer observed that the disc priest wasn’t gemmed and enchanted. Oh well; the two of us were well set up.

It took a couple tries to get Sindy down but it always seems to. I don’t know if that fight ever feels really clean. Well, I’m sure it does if you’re really good raiders but ours always feel chaotic.

Then we went up to Arthas. Reversion explained the fight, we got into position, I prepared for the usual slowly progressing wipes. I was confident in our ability to get him down though. I mean, we had most of our normal raid, the dps looked fine, the heals were fine…

It was a nightmare.

Infests were killing us. I’m not going to assign blame there: all three of us could have done better. The disc priest could have pre-bubbled us, but he wasn’t running any raid frame addons (sigh. And insisted he didn’t need to. Sigh.) Multi could have timed his Light of Dawns to have three holy power and go off at just the right second. I could have timed Wild Growth and Swiftmend perfectly. As it was, we were wasting cycles healing Infest victims back up (and, as the disc priest couldn’t freakin’ see the debuffs, since he WASN’T USING RAID FRAMES, he wasn’t helping at all there. Can you see I’m ticked about this one?)

Then we started getting into the transition and I realize that I popped Innervate already and I’m at 17% mana. In transition 1. What the heck? Well, it’s a wipe anyway. I’ll pay more attention.

Next attempt I watch and notice that I can see my mana pool go down every time I cast anything. This should not be. I have a mana pool that makes paladins cry. I end the LK fight with 70% mana. I haven’t worried about mana in a year. What is wrong?

I’d noticed a mana problem on Sindy, and asked the arcane mage to switch to frost so we’d have replenishment. Had she switched back? Nope, there’s replenishment right there. I ask Multi and he’s hurting too.

Wipe after wipe, we’re struggling to handle infests and running out of mana. We’re not even getting into phase 2. I’m starting to tear out my hair: I can heal the infests back up, but if I do, I won’t have any mana for later in the fight. As we’re buffing up from a wipe, we discuss strategies. Multi pulls out some flasks of pure mojo. I take one, and then look at my stats.

Oh. There’s the problem. I’m regenerating 600 mana per 5 in combat. Rejuv costs 900 mana. If I can cost 3 rejuv in 5 seconds, that means I’m using three times as much mana as I’m regenerating. Innervate is basically worthless, I get one potion – and they freaking nerfed replenishment; it returns half the mana it used to. Wow. No wonder.

Ok. I understand this is the Cataclysm healing philosophy. And I know the 4.0.3a changes to druids hurt and they may have to change us back. But I realized as I stood there, staring at my stats, that we had probably seen our last LK kill until we were 80. The math just doesn’t work any more.

My mana pool, all buffed up, – I forget what the numbers were this week; I think they were lower than usual. Let’s say 40k. That’s 45 casts of Rejuv. With replenishment and Revitalize, let’s pretend I’m regenning 700 MP. That means if I do my usual Rejuv spam, I’ll be OOM in…. let’s see. Math. If I cast 3 Rejuv in 5 seconds, not counting mana gains I would go OOM in 75 seconds. However in that time I’ve regenned 10,500 mana. That’s another 12 Rejuvs. So there’s another 20 seconds. Say I popped innervate and a mana pot in there, and be generous and say that buys me another 45 seconds.

Total: 140 seconds. 2 minutes 20 seconds. Or, Transition 1 of LK.

(Math not intended to be theorycrafting, just envelope calculations like I did in my head standing there on the platform)

So don’t rejuv spam. But how am I supposed to get everyone over 90% health every time Infest ticks?

That is what makes me angry. Not what I might or might not be able to do at 85. That’s weeks away. I care about today, about those last chances to down the Lich King,the Kingslayer title for some of my friends, the fun I can salvage at the end of an expansion. I have faith that if the numbers are really bad, Blizzard will fix them not long into Cataclysm. But right now, I feel like they cut my legs out from under me. They gave me the new healing model while I’m still trying to play encounters designed for the old model, and it just doesn’t work any more. Spout your lines about wanting us to use all the tools in our toolbox, Blizzard, but sometimes that nail really is a nail, and darn it, I want my hammer.

Anyway. I’m not really angry. I obviously had a lot of fun this weekend. I just wish I thought this next Friday, which hopefully will be our last ten man night before Cataclysm, will go better than my last attempt to raid on my druid. I think we’ll just work on the Lich King and see if we can kill him one last time. I’ll adapt my strategies, we’ll work even more closely as a team and we’ll see what happens.

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Once, months ago, I read a lovely blog post over at Righteous Orbs about a Naxx Run featuring a Real Girl Paladin Healer Who Could Solo Heal This Place.

Friday night, I was that healer.

Ok, so I hope I wasn’t that snotty, and I was a druid, not a paladin, but we went to Naxx and since I was setting the thing up I had the pleasure of telling everyone they could go DPS on most fights. We were eight; we were doing the “fewer than 9″ achievement for completing Naxx. We had my brother, who hadn’t been in Naxx before. Reversion and I didn’t do Naxx on anything like a regular basis, so we were going for the fun. We had a great group of guildies – Repgrind, of course, was one – and man, we had a blast there. Multi the Shaman went heals on the fights where we needed two healers, like Thaddius and the Horsemen.

It was like being Superman. Things died so fast they didn’t have time to do their schtick. Heigan? We wiped, once. The second time he died before the first dance phase. Wow. We got the time achievement for the spider wing without even trying. Gluth? Died before he could call his zombies to him, or decimate, or anything.

Yes, we wiped. Once on the dance, once on Patchwerk. Apparently if you don’t clear all the trash before him? Like the two rooms full that we walked past half of? It aggroes on you and eats you from behind. But we were – seriously, I think the top dps’er was doing more damage than some whole raids I was on, Back In The Day. Ok, those raids sucked, but still!

The night still being relatively young when we got Naxx done, and some of us realizing all we needed to be Champions of the Frozen Waste was Malygos, we went off to Eye of Eternity. Wow… what a nightmare. All this time I’d thought people were complaining about the mechanics of using a dragon, and couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I didn’t realize the graphics in that place were like a bad acid trip. And a migraine. On a boat. In a hurricane. In Fairy Princess Candyland.

Wait, where was I? Ugh. Well on the third try, Malygos died. I am never ever ever ever going back there; I was sick the next morning from that place.

Druid heals are so overpowered right now. I adore my mastery. Rejuv and Regrowth are awesome, I love love love Efflorescence. Healing Touch? Not touching that. I’ll use Nourish if I have to but I’m glorying in my flash-healing, hot-dealing powers of Nature-y nurturing. You know how overpowered I am?

I one-healed Saurfang and didn’t break a sweat.

Yes, my group was awesome. No, I didn’t intend to do any such thing. It’s just after our third wipe on Heroic Saurfang Saturday night, we set it to normal and I went to start him up. “That’s funny,” I said as I clicked him. “The boat disappeared.”

A minute later, and some muffled semi-cursing, I look and see Reversion, who was going to help me heal that fight, has – just disappeared. Yes, somehow he fell off the ledge. There was some sort of “Wait my run key is stuck – oh crap!” thing…. and I had started the event, we had no choice but to try the fight.

And four minutes later, after a single mark, Saurfang died. I wasn’t even out of mana. It would have been impossible if the raid had taken much unneccessary damage, but they killed beasts and avoided splash damage. like pros.

So druids, spread your newly-leafless wings and glory in being the healing gods that we are for this brief shining moment…

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So last week we were invited to a ten man serious ICC raid by our new guild. A couple of their regulars kindly stepped out to give us a shot at the Lich King. We spent most of Monday evening dying to Defiles.

Last night we got back together and went back. With one major change: Reversion had brought his hunter the week before, but last night, a tank was missing, so he brought in the bear. I’d had a chance to heal the first 11/12 fights the night before on 25 man (the new lockout system is weird but hasn’t screwed me up… yet…) and so I was feeling confident in my druid-y healing power. Incidentally I have a post in the works about that too, but right now…

We got set up and started. First attempt, my face got eaten by a ghost of some sort. Raging Spirit, I guess. I didn’t even see it; my nameplates were buggy. I got Tidy Plates turned back on and that helped a lot.

We started getting cleanly into the second phase, and having bad Defile placement, or a stun not going off on a Valkyr, or just random bad luck. But I could see we were getting better. I was feeling more competent, even if I wasn’t entirely sure what my best healing strategy was.

Then, suddenly, we were transitioning to third phase and I realized I had no idea what to do. We died, I got clarification, we came, we tried again, we failed in second phase, we came again, we got into third phase  – but the raid was torn in two by a defile and we wiped.

Back again. First phase, perfect. Transition, good. Second phase – good! We were careful with defiles. Second transition – clean this time. Nobody died. (I asked us to switch to using Resist aura instead of Ret and it seemed to give a nice edge)

Then suddenly, Reversion gives an exclamation behind me. He just got pulled into the sword. I’m too busy healing to look, but  I hear him say “Oh crap, I pulled off the guy”. I guess you shouldn’t taunt the mob in there! [Correction: Reversion pulled off with straight threat, not a taunt. Sorry, I was healing and heard things wrong!] But he got the thing killed and was back outside. I was in a groove of healing at that point, coldn’t have told you what the Lich King’s health was at – and then suddenly I was dead. But everyone on Vent was screaming – wait, we were ALL dead! We’d done it! I hadn’t even realized it, but we’d done it!

Teranas rezzed us, and I moonfired-spammed the Lich King. Now that was fun.

And then, he was dead.

A big thanks to the guildies. We’re so glad we transferred! Kalyon was the other tank, and the whole team was great.

So where do we go from here? Mostly depends on the guild’s needs. We loved raiding with this particular group, and the schedule worked great for us, and we’d love to stick with them but we know that their needs might not include us. We’ll see. In Cataclysm, we want to raid, and personally I like 10 man size better. There are just fewer headaches.

But at least this expansion, I feel like we “won”. We got Arthas down before Deathwing replaced him as the Big Bad. Months behind, yes, but….

We did it together!

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Start the weekend with a 25 man raid on ICC on Friday night with the guild. End it 48 hours later in a ten man. In between?

I had one weekend goal: to get my various collection of badges and stone keeper’s shards turned into heirlooms before the patch hit and the cost was prohibitive. Problem 1: I don’t know what my worgen is going to be. Goblin will be a shaman, but worgen? No idea.

Problem 2: turning in my stone keeper shards (over 500 on each of my two characters) requires us to win Wintergrasp. Which isn’t something you can count on….

Saturday morning Reversion wakes me up to tell me we own WG for the next 12 minutes so I should get it done now. I hop out of bed, grab the mage, buy some shoulders, grab the tree, buy the rest of the shoulders and the caster staff. I’m pretty sure whatever I roll will be  a caster, so I decide to get the cloth, leather, and mail caster gear. Ok, so if I roll a hunter I’ll be sorry, but maybe I’ll keep that for later in the expansion.

That done, I decide to stick around and help defend WG. I guess the Horde were sleeping in, because we knocked down the southern towers, defended against both pushes the made, and kept the keep. Ok! So let’s grind enough badges to get the chest pieces to go with the shoulders. I needed about 40….

Reversion tanked, we grabbed some guildies, and were off on a whirlwind grinding session. Wheee! I  got most of the way to my goal before time to go get our traditional Saturday burrito lunch. Came back, joined with the guild to run the weekly raid – XT needed to die, and we were just the ones to do it.

Those raids are so fun with a vent full of cheerful people. I drove a demolisher (working toward the win-in-all-three-vehicles achievement) and we skipped from FL to XT. On the way to XT, I made too enthusiastic a gesture and my mouse flew off my desk and hit the floor. Hard. I picked it up. The cursor moved… but the buttons weren’t clicking any more.

I scrounged around and with Reversion’s help, got an old wired mouse plugged in before the pull. Ugh! Good thing I was healing easy content, because with no side buttons I was having to target and use keys to throw anything besides Rejuv. I’ve gotten so used to click casting….

So after XT died, I told Reversion we were going to Best Buy and we piled in the van for the trip. It’s a good half hour’s drive – along the coast, with the ocean  on one side and the bright blue sky overhead and the windows down. Worth the trip just for the driving.

And there we were at Best Buy, staring at gaming input devices. Mice, keyboards, keypads, weird combo items… I’m drooling over the Naga and the WoW gaming mouse, but I know they’re useless to me. You see, they’re right handed. So am I – but I mouse exclusively left handed. (Don’t ask). I need an ambidextrous mouse.

Turns out there is such a thing. I pull the SteelSeries Xai out of the box (don’t tell! I felt guilty doing it) and fell in love  almost at once. A little large for my hand but not unworkable. Two buttons on each side. The best feeling mouse I’ve ever set hands on…. mmm.

Reversion meanwhile was looking over mice too. He decided to try the WoW branded gaming mouse (he ended up taking it back and going with a different one for reasons I’ll let him explain himself). And then we stared at the keyboards…

They had a handful of “gaming” keyboards. One was just a normal keyboard but with glowing lights and a funky shape. But the Logitech one actually looked…. cool. There’s a bank of 18 keys (three groups of two rows of three keys) on the left, and you switch them between three modes to toggle different modes. We could see some immediate applications… and the little led screen at the top looked cool…

Long story short, we walked out of Best Buy with a new keyboard and mouse for each of us. We spent the trip back discussing how we’d set things up. Then we were really really good and did our yardwork :) while our new toys sat inside for us.

And then it was playtime! We’re planning a real in-depth post on it later, but basically we used Bartender to make the keybindings work. Now I can have my healing and utility spells in one bank; press the mode key and grab the buff/out of combat stuff spells.

I had to do a screwy work-around to get two of the buttons on my mouse to work right. I love this mouse, but unlike most smart mice it doesn’t have enough key-click options. Two of the mouse buttons are mapped to “tilt right” and “tilt left” which didn’t seem to do anything that I could read. So I mapped those buttons to F11 and F12 and then had those keys trigger mouseover macros for the spells I wanted. Result, the clicks work the way I want to and I can just hang my mouse over the Vuhdo frame and do anything I want.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Church over, it’s time for some laziness before the evening 10 man. Only I signed on and immediately got asked to a TOC25. What the heck, sure. Pop in,  beasts are dead, so we start on Jaraxxus. Get him done, get Faction Champs. Time for times. The raid leader is explaining the fight for those who don’t know or can’t remember, and there’s a few of those. Doing a good job of explaining to – and then a hunter pulls. Argh. We pick it up, we fight, a few people die, we get it under control and they drop. Loot gets handed out. The hunter who started the pull dc’s. Apparently he wanted the trinket, didn’t get it, and so was done. We make a try at Anub, bleeding puggers, and break up. It happens.

6 o’clock and time for the ten man. I’m excited. Analogue and Approximate (Reversion’s hunter) have been invited to an excellent ten man group that the guild runs. We’ve got an hour to get as far as we can before most of the raid goes to a 25 man continuation of a different guild’s run. We’ll do more Monday night. We get in, get pulling, and clear the first wing in 45 minutes. We thank them for the invite and go to make dinner. Reversion is playing Final Fantasy with the baby while I cook, when I hear voices in Vent in the next room. “Looks like they’re afk,” says the raid leader. I run back and there’s an invite on our screens. I accept and ask what’s going on. The 25 man didn’t happen so we’re getting back together.

8 o’clock, baby in bed and food eaten, we start again. We do Rotface on heroic – my first one that wasn’t lootship! We wiped once but it was fun. Other than making my fingers hurt from all the healing, it wasn’t too bad at all. We do Festergut normal since the weekly quest was Fester/Rot, and then try Putricide  on heroic twice before swapping back to normal and downing him.

Oh yeah- so we started Saurfang before we switched the difficulty back to normal, accidentally, and while we did switch the difficulty, he started with 100% blood power. So we did that whole fight with one mark out. Don’t try this at home, kiddies.

Anyhow. We were at quitting time but we decided to continue and knock out the blood wing. I hate the Princes fight. It’s just so much running around, trying to heal, trying to find the people who need heals… but they died. And so did the Queen, although we wiped on her the first time.

Tonight we’re going in, killing some dragons, and taking a long, hard look at Arthas. This group has all mostly killed him before and we’re thrilled to get the chance to try, alongside them. We transferred servers and guilds hoping for a chance to down Arthas before the expansion is over. It would make me really happy to do it tonight, the last time I can be a tree for the whole fight…

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Wait, I have a mage?

My mage, Invariant, was my first main. She’s been somewhat neglected in the last year, doing the holidays and grinding pets and other “fun” stuff but not getting much real playtime. I like healing too much, and raiding on two characters just wasn’t for me. So she’s mostly in TOC25 gear she bought on a GDKP (lucky run where all cloth dropped and nobody wanted it so I got it cheap)

We moved both our sets of 80s over to Winterhoof and into Crits and Giggles last weekend and since then I’ve raided three times – twice on my mage. Monday and Tuesday nights I took her to an ICC 10 man. The Monday night raid was awesome though we only downed  3 bosses – Reputation Grind wrote about that here. And last night we got 6 bosses down and some good tries on Putricide. It was late though and I had to quit. Morning comes too early these days…

Anyway it was neat. Arcane mage rotation is… nice and simple. I’ve macroed most of my cooldowns into one giant macro that I just pop every few minutes, otherwise it’s stack Arcane Blast to 4, wait for Arcane Missiles to proc, fire. Shoot a little on the run. Profit. My gear is weak but I was putting out a respectable amount of damage, which pleased me.

Being a healer has made me a better mage, no question. My situational awareness is way higher than it ever used to be. Get out of the fire? No problem. Stack for spores? No problem. Switch to bonespikes? Got it! I was really thrilled. It’s always nice when skills in one role translate into skills in another role.

And the fights – wow! You really see so much more of them when you’re not staring at healing frames. I’ve been running ICC for nearly a year now and there are things I’ve only just learned. Lady Deathwhisper’s adds, for instance, which ones a mage is supposed to hit. And how you can kill yourself if you shoot the wrong one (fully stacked Arcane Missiles spell reflected back = dead mage. Ow. True story). That the axe throwers on the ship get stronger if they’re not taken down. And just how pretty some of these fights are.

It’s not going to make me switch my preferred roles, but perhaps with the new tighter lockouts, Invariant will get more playtime. At the very least I feel like she’s got a new lease on life. Something beyond “pet collector” and “achievement monkey”.

So that said… where’s all the mage blogs at? Other than Frost is the New Black I just don’t know any….

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