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Archive for the ‘Roles’ Category

WoW and Stereotypes

I’ve read a couple posts over the past few days that brought this to my mind:  Klepsacovic’s I Started Blogging To Meet Women and Would You Pay to Play With a Girl over at Pugnacious Priest, Pink Pigtail Inn’s Musing Over Boobs and a new one I discovered linked from that, Girls Don’t Exist on the Intertubes at a blog called Digital Incorrectness.

What’s sort of funny is how the assumptions being analyzed in these blogs are a bit contradictory. One blog is about guys paying for girls to play with them, another is countering the idea that girls suck at WoW. I assume the girls who are being paid must have some modicum of skill at the game, or it would just be frustrating, and I assume the guys who are paying for their company expect them to be at least competent. Maybe that’s a bad assumption.

Then the contrast between Klep’s post and Larissa’s, where Larissa muses that blogs are about a meeting of minds and therefor she doesn’t notice the sex of the blogger (as much) while Klep wonders if there’s a reason why there’s a disproportionate number of female bloggers.  Klep also brings up the stereotype of “women as healers” and I myself have noticed that all the Resto Druid bloggers I read are women. All of them. All the trees I currently know in game are women; the first one I remember, the one that made me say “Wow, druid healers are COOL” was a guy. A gay guy. (Stereotype affirming or breaking?)

But they’re all dancing around that same issue; men and women are different and those differences carry over into our playstyles. There’s a reason stereotypes exist; they are a distorted exaggeration of a truth. It might not be a truth that is universally applicable but somewhere some collection of observations supported the idea.

Stereotype 1: Women are bad at WoW.

Truth: not everyone who plays WoW is any good at it. People can be stupid and therefore play badly. People can have other reasons for playing besides being good (social reasons). This second group is less likely to give up when they know they are bad at the game because being good at the game is a secondary goal. My parents have played WoW; my dad liked it although he’s gone back to EverQuest, my mom followed him around with her priest, clicked the “heal” buttons when he said to, and picked flowers. She didn’t like the game but she played to spend time with my dad. I got into the game because a few months after we got married my husband wanted to get back to playing WoW and wanted me to come with him. I sucked at first, but I eventually liked the game and got better. If you’d seen my hunter the first month I played you would have classified me as one of those “Women who suck at WoW” players and you would have been right.

The solution is to find a way to convert this type of woman player into an active fan of the game. Once she is motivated she’ll become a better player. Blizzard does a better job of this than anyone else out there, hence their huge female market share. Trolls in trade or party chat calling these women out and saying “lol u suck girls cant play wow” will never improve things. This doesn’t inspire most women to get better. It’s more likely to get them to quit.

Stereotype 2:  Women who can play Wow, play healers

Hard to counter this. I have an arcane mage and a prot pally and I’m good with either one, but Analogue the resto druid is my main. She’s who I raid on, and I feel most in control of the situation with her.

Women tend to be more nurturing than men. Guys tend to be more protective/aggressive than girls. Women tend to work toward the success of the group; men strive for personal achievement. Both sexes are drawn to both goals, of course, but the dominant leanings tend to be as I’ve stated. Avoiding any discussion of whether this is good or bad, these tendencies would explain why there tend to be more female healers out there.

Everyone can think of counter examples; awesome female warlocks or warriors, terrific male resto shaman. But nobody is surprised when the tree starts talking in vent with a girl’s voice.

This is a good thing! Remember how I said about that for a player to be good at WoW, she needs to actually want to get better? Well, if she discovers that healing a party appeals to her, now she has motivation to improve! Healing isn’t easy, and the skills to do it well translate over into general Wow uber-ness. I am a much better mage since I’ve leveled up my druid. (And a better healer after I leveled my tank but that’s another matter)

So yes, I’m suggesting that we counter one stereotype with another. No, I’m not suggesting that you tell the fail hunter girl to go roll a priest. But be supportive of her if she wants to do it. Guys, if your girlfriend who tentatively follows you around in WoW expresses a desire to heal, don’t laugh at her because you know she’ll wipe you. Let her do it. If  you wipe, let her figure out why without yelling at her. You’ll have a lot more fun if you let her convert herself to a WoW fan than if you convince her to never play with you again.

One final note: the blogs I read I think are probably close to 70% female, because I read a lot of resto druid blogs and “Wow Social” blogs like Pugging Pally or Stories of Wow.

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Blessed are the altaholics, for they shall receive heirlooms

Lissana over at Restokin had a long blog post today about Specialists vs Generalists as a play style. Pretty obvious this blog falls more on the generalist side of the equation! Reversion and I have three level 80s each and three other characters that we are actively leveling (each). We both have healers, tanks, and dps classes and play any of those roles pretty well. We’ve got most professions covered between us (don’t have a max level blacksmith and the leatherworking char is only at about 430 skill).

On the other hand, if you ask us who our mains are there’s no question. Reversion and Analogue, the druids, see the most content, have the best gear, and are definitely our most played. They weren’t our original mains by a long stretch but during the course of WotLK we began to realize how much more content we could see with a dedicated tank/healer pair than with a couple random ranged dps. I think our experiments with other classes have made our mains better. Analogue has become a better healer as I’ve gotten better with tanking on Divergent.

As Lissanna mentions,  one reason for alts is to see content you didn’t see before, particularly opposite-faction content. We’re trying that now with our low-level Horde alts. It’s fun, and I’m running a few other experiments at the same time (like whether we can run these guys up and afford epic flying without needing cash from our mains, thanks to gather professions)

She’s right that WotLK has been paradise for generalists, and her conclusion

However, I’ve come to accept that being a generalist is a viable play-style in WoW as of WotLK being released, even for end-game purposes. I appreciate handing out new gear and heirlooms and all the fun toys that generalists get to play with.

I agree with. In fact, I think that Blizzard has actively been pushing the generalist playstyle for the same reason they’ve made raids so much more accessible this expansion. They want to maintain their subscription numbers so the game can continue. In Vanilla WoW, hardcore raiders had a reason to play every day for many hours, but that never represented more than a tiny fraction of the population. In WotLK, anyone who devotes  a few hours a week can eventually see most if not all of the endgame content, and that makes Blizzard happy because players who feel like they are progressing continue to subscribe.

But, the player who really likes questing and leveling and running low level dungeons is just as good a source of cash as the end-game raider. In fact,  from Blizzard’s point of view he’s a better cash source because it takes few developer-resources to keep him happy.  I suspect most players fall somewhere in between those two extremes. My personal experiences make me believe that most end game raiders have some alts that they like playing with, and a lot of less-raid-oriented players still join pugs or weekly raid quest groups. I think that’s probably Blizzard’s intent.

Blizzard must like alts, because they’ve given us 10 slots per server and 50 total slots to play with. A lot of other games? Not so much. EVE Online lets you have 3 (I think) but because of the training system you really only play one character per account. Star Trek Online released with only 2 character slots as the default (you can buy more). On the other hand, Lord of the Rings Online supports the generalist playstyle and from what I’ve heard, that’s part of why people go back and play around in that game. It’s a lot harder to get totally bored of a game when you can just log in to a different experience every night of the week.

The day when you could claim that the specialist was the true WoW elite is passed. Nowadays, it’s the tank who can’t say “oh yeah I hate healing this goup on my shaman” or the dps who doesn’t mention “I know what a pain that pat is to LOS when I’m tanking” who is the noob. Anyone can be pretty good at one class, especially with the epics falling like cherry blossoms, but it takes skill to be uber at everything.

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The Addons We Need

(Warning: Written while sitting on the couch in extreme pain from throwing out my back. May not be very happy friendly lets-play-nice-children-esque)

GearScorePlus – when you mouse over a character you get a tooltip that shows how many incorrect gemming and enchanting choices they’ve made.  Will auto-initiate a kick vote for any DK with a spellpower enhancement. An extension, GearBusted, will warn me when a dpser zones into a dungeon with armor that’s below 50% repaired. I hate when the hunter dies (from pulling aggro) and then says “lol sword broke need to rep”.

OmenEnhanced: Puts up notices every time a player who is not the tank uses a taunt or threat-generating move (Ret pally using Hand of Reckoning because “it does damage”, hunter pet on growl even though “I already shut it off jerk”).

RecountTheFailRotation: Heck, I don’t know what abilities ought to make up a DK’s dps rundown, but my theory is that “Death and Decay (50%), Melee (45%) Heart Strike (4%)” isn’t right. How about a damage meter that shows me what they should have been doing?

DeadlyBossEasilyPredictedDamage: For healers only, mark the players who are about to be standing in the easily dodged fire/spikes/whatever so I can pre HOT/shield/whatever them.

RangeAlert: let me know when anyone is so far away from the fight that they’ll be aggroing the pat behind us while the rest of us are fighting (hunter and mages only)

AutoIgnoreIdiots: auto-add people to my ignore list before I get grouped with them. This includes any dps who is going to fuss about how they don’t want to be bothered going after extra bosses and anyone who has ever dinged 80, queued for H COS, and, while contributing less than 800 dps, asked more than once if we were going to make it in time for the drake. Or any dk who has thrown Army of the Dead on the Saurfang fight. (bad memories)

DontCursive: Clearly mark when people in your party have diseases, curses, poisons, or magic effects that you can remove. This is so you know to whine at the priest who is not removing curses, the druid who is not curing diseases, etc.

Any other suggestions?

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Trust

Sometimes it’s easy to forget you’re playing with other people in WoW. Other times the game forces you to acknowledge that for some challenges, you have to be part of a group that’s bigger than just the players involved.

This week the weekly raid quest on our server was Lord Marrowgar. I don’t know about your server but on ours that means the chance of getting a good ICC run actually goes down. The guild runs multiple 10-man-alt runs and there are still folks left out.  Trade is full of angst and vitriol.  Our raid had all the makings of fail; instead we ended up with moments of sheer epic…

After the two scheduled guild alt groups filled up there were enough guildies left over that we started a scrub/alt/pug raid. We needed to fill three slots; two melee dps and a tank healer. The melee dps were easy to pull out of trade, got a paladin and a rogue to help balance out roles. The healer was tougher and after ten minutes I was willing to take the holy priest. It wasn’t til we got to ICC that I started worrying. The off tank, a guildie, was somewhat undergeared, and so was the tank healer. Both of them had slots that still didn’t have Triumph badge gear level items.  Still, we decided we’d start and see how things went.

Trash pulls went smoothly, no wipes. Got to Marrowgar, ran down the strategy, and we started. The off-tank went down. I b-rezzed him. Then he went down again. Bonestorm started, and Reversion popped out of bear to b-rez the OT and help heal the raid (he always throws rejuvs around during bonestorm, just because he can). Start back again – and the OT goes down for the third time. We’re out of druids, Marrowgar is at 50% – but everyone else is still up and taking very little damage, so I start fully healing Reversion. Every now and then I have to throw out rejuvs and wild growth for the raid, but we’re mostly stacked under Marrowgar so we don’t take a lot of fire damage, the dps are being great about taking down the spikes – and we’re doing it. Reversion blew every cooldown, potion, trinket he had, and Marrowgar went down. Nothing like having a tank with 48k health to eat those big hits.

I made sure to compliment all the dps-ers for their attentiveness. If they had taken damage, I would not have been able to help out with tank healing, and we would have wiped. Instead we one-shotted him. (I also will add, the pugged paladin judged Light consistently and it healed the raid up a good little bit, actually accounting for 10% of total healing during our whole run according to Recount; that was a nice buffer)

We went on to Deathwhisper. I dropped to the first set of adds; Reversion got me back up and although I was hurting for mana, I got back into the groove. We ended that fight with four of us alive; the priest went down thirty seconds before the end of the fight, the OT had died minutes before, but I saw the 4% health on Deathwhisper and threw everything I could to keep Reversion and the last dps alive long enough to take her down.

The pug broke up on Saurfang because people had to get off, but it was great.

So, after that long discussion, why the title of my post? Why ‘Trust’?

Because I didn’t, and wasn’t. I did not trust my healing partner and it hurt us. Some of the dps deaths to trash and to Deathwhisper were because I was dropping Nourish on the tanks and ignoring my own responsibilities. Usually in 10 mans I heal with a guildie, someone who I think is probably a better healer than me.  Our pugged healer was great, but I saw her gear and achievements and doubted. I couldn’t help it; I’m the sort who worries a lot over things I can’t control. I do that in real life too, but it’s not as obvious.  I don’t have fun with my mage any more in WoW for the same reason, because I see health bars and start wanting to fix them. My pally tank keeps trying to save the day in 5mans with Lay on Hands or Hand of Sacrifice on the healer.

It makes me a more conscientious healer most of the time, when I can force myself to let the other healer do her job and just do mine, but on raids like this last one, it can wipe us.  And I don’t know how to stop worrying about their jobs. It’s not easy for me.

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Pairs Leveling: The Druid

After doing the warrior post I decided it would be better to focus on the characters I know best. My top level Warrior is languishing at 59, whereas I have two max level druids.

Druids are outstanding pairs leveling characters.  I highly recommend them. They are survivable, have good dps, and have multiple ways they can be leveled. They stand with paladins as the only classes that can be all three roles: dps, healing and tank. They stand alone as the only class that can play all FOUR roles: healing, tank, melee dps and ranged dps.

They make a good choice for if your partner has their heart set on leveling a particular class. Because they are so adaptable you can tailor your play style and spec to match the person you are leveling with.

Overview

Druids are in touch with nature and use its power to obliterate their foes, or smash them in the face, or sneak up and rip their guts out, or, for the nicer druids, to nurture and restore their allies. At level 10 they get Bear form and turn into a baby tank. At 20 we get cat and can do mad crazy dps. Around 50 we can become a tree or boomkin, and either have uber heals or good ranged casting. Because we don’t get to pick those paths right from the start, we adapt our play style over time. This might require respeccing at key points. It also might mean saving a few pieces of gear for an upcoming spec change. How you handle all that will depend on who you are leveling with.

I am going to further break things down into level ranges.

1-10. In this range there is not much variety. Just Wrath things to death with some staff ‘thumping’ thrown in until you hit 10. You will basically be a ranged caster with some melee ability (easier if you have the BOA weapon).

Levels 10-20

At 10 things start to diverge. Not a lot, but they do. You get bear form once you do the level 10 quest. It is about now you have to ask yourself ‘am I going to tank?’The answer to that lies partly in who you are partnered with. You have the choice in this level range of spending most of your time as a bear or as a humanoid caster doing ranged damage and/or healing. You have to decide what you want to do if you are going to run an instance. If you want a fast queue you can chose to tank or heal. You can make that decision in advance and practice the play style by questing mostly as a bear or a caster.

A Bear plays like a warrior. It uses rage is its fuel and the major abilities are all analogous to warrior skills. If you are familiar with warrior tanking a bear will either be comfortably similar or boringly the same. Of course since a druid has an extended bag of tricks you might still love it.

Caster druid, 10-20

One strategy in this level range is to stay humanoid and throw spells around. This is versatile since you can cast or heal as needed. You will not have a large pool of spells but you will have a nice variety.

If you are planning to run instances later as a healer you should probably be getting familiar with your healing spells at this time.

In the future playing as a caster could mutate into Tree or Boomkin (or you can respec completely). If you want to be pure dps and want to be a cat but don’t like bear form, you can stay in a caster spec until you get cat form and then respec. If you plan to do this don’t forget to hang on to a few pieces of agility gear as you level up.

Staying in caster mode is very good if you are paired with a pure melee class. This is even truer if your partner is a tanking class. Casting alongside a warrior or Paladin (or a bear druid) is a very good combo. The pair will be durable as heck and able to take on many foes at once.

Druids are durable enough that you can even distract things while a rogue backstabs them.

With a warlock or hunter partners you can let their pet tank while both burn things down.

Mages are soft and have little ability to keep things off them. They focus mostly on killing things fast, before they kill them. You can both burn things down pretty fast and not have to worry about taking a lot of damage. If you pair with one as a caster you will want to get familiar with your ‘root’ skill and the mage will want to be using frost abilities to slow things up. This will be a pretty soft pair however, so if you get in trouble you might be doomed.

Comboing with a warlock that does not like tanking with their voidwalker will be much like pairing with a mage.

Comboing a caster druid with a priest gives you redundant healing but not a lot more durability. This pair will require more finesse to play.

Comboing with another caster Druid will be similar to the mage and priest.

Comboing with a Shaman will be a little of everything.

Bear druid, 10-20

The main reasons to go bear at this level are to practice tanking or to keep things off a softer partner.

Bear is going to have a little lower dps, so if you are not trying to do one of the above things you might not want to level 10-20 as a bear. One other reason might be so you will be ready when you get cat form. It is not really necessary though, because you can always respec when you get to 20.

One of the nice things about being bear (or later cat) is that you almost always have full mana at the end of a fight. This lets you heal yourself and your partner up for the next round.

One final reason to go bear would be to have both partners have the same range. If you are paired with a melee class it can be frustrating to have everything be half dead by the time your partner gets over to it. Keep this in mind if you are playing a bear and paired up with a ranged dpser. This consideration (and the heals after fights one) makes a rogue+bear pair a good choice.

Basically bear is a good choice to match an melee class played as dps or a soft caster. It is a bad choice for any melee class played as another tank

Recommended pairings: 10-20

Pally + caster druid

Hunter + caster druid

Mage + either

Warlock + either

Warrior + caster druid

Shaman +caster druid

Priest + Bear

Rogue + Bear

Pairs druid, Levels 20-40

Feral druids, 20-40

At level 20 the druid learns how to be catty. Or at least how to turn into a cat. A cat is a baby rogue. It uses energy and is all about combo points and finishing moves. It has a lot fewer abilities than a real rogue so if you are a hard core rogue addict those missing bits might drive you nuts (no vanish, no sap, no fan of knives, etc.). But, if you love all the versatility a druid offers then you are going to love having ‘cat’ in your bag of tricks.

If you leveled up as a bear so far you might want to opt for a cat/bear hybrid. Such a hybrid is viable for either tanking or DPS up until high end lvl 80 instances and raids. I leveled my first druid this way. For most fights you are going to want to be cat. Cats do a large amount of single target damage. But, unlike rogues, they can pop into bear form at any time. If you are leveling with a caster or other soft DPSer you will want to get good at dropping into bear on demand. Even if you don’t get good with bear form it will do you good to know have to work the basics. At a minimum you will need to know how to work your taunt (growl) and some swipe for aoe threat and damage. With just those abilities (and maybe a couple more) you will be able to not die on demand.  Going Bear is not like a pally bubble, but it is fast and effective for either pulling a mob off your softer friend, or being able to take more hits while your friend heals you or dpses the pack down. You CAN live without learning your bear as a feral druid… but it is well worth it to set up its hot bar and learn your way around a few of its moves.

Caster druids 20-40

As you start getting up to 20 and 30 talent points you will, as a caster druid, get pretty far down one of your trees, balance or resto. So you will need to decide how you are mostly playing the druid and take as much healing or dps as your pair needs. Play it by ear and don’t be afraid to respec. You probably will respec at 40 anyway so don’t sweat it. In the past, leveling resto, even in a pair, was annoyingly slow and not really worth it. Today, with LFG, you can level mostly in dungeons where a dedicated healing spec will speed things up, not slow them down.

Recommended pairings: 10-20

Pally + either

Hunter + caster druid

Mage + either

Warlock + either

Warrior + either

Shaman +either

Priest + Feral druid

Rogue + Feral druid

Notice most say either? Here is why… as a hybrid class any druid can heal, and with instant cast hots you can throw at least some healing around very fast. Additionally, unless you put all your points into resto you will still do decent DPS. What this all means is that you don’t want to over specialize while leveling in certain pairs. For example if you are leveling as a caster with a priest you can get away with almost no healing ability. But if you are leveling feral with a warrior you would be well served to get good at dropping out of cat and throwing some heals at your friend. Again, play it by ear. If your pairs keeps dying, practice dropping out and throwing heals.

We’ll talk about post-level-40 in another post.

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Why Every Healer Should Roll A Tank

Because tanking is harder and if healers realized that they would stop whining? NO. Running some instances as a tank, getting ok at tanking, will make you a better healer, and here’s why.

You’ll know what the tank is going to do next, and why. If you’ve been healing for a while you probably already have instincts that tell you when a tank is going to LOS a pull or charge into the next one, but once you’ve tanked those pulls yourself you’ll know why. There is no substitute for actually doing it.

You’ll know what a tank is capable of, and what he’s not: This will make you more tolerant when he loses aggro,  remind you to keep an eye on those dps-ers pulling 5k damage, and know when to have your emergency macros on hand.

A change of perspective helps: I’ve run Northrend dungeons dozens and dozens of times on my mage and my tree, but it wasn’t til I tanked them on my paladin that I realized certain things, like that some of the portals in VH always spawn groups while some always spawn a single mob.  Or that those stupid orbs on the platforms in OK do LOS. Or that there’s an invisible wall in TOC by the door the enemies come in that they can get through but you can’t, so you can’t hit them.

You learn what healers do that makes tanking harder: I often start dropping HOTs on the tank as he pulls. Turns out it can be a bit annoying when the healer instantly pulls off you when you’re tanking. Makes life tricky. I’ve started looking for other strategies.

You learn just why tanks are always wanting to go-go-go. Oh, rage really is a pain to regain once it’s gone. And Divine Plea needs to stay up, so either start the next fight in less than twelve seconds, or wait out the cooldown til it’s ready again. And the mobs move around, so waiting ten more seconds changes the battle space.  Not that any of these concerns match “healer has no mana”, but maybe if I’m in all tier 9.5 or better and have 70% mana I can handle another trash fight…. yeah, probably.

Because there’s nothing you can’t do: We all dps, for daily quests or leveling. You know deep down you might not be as good as the rogue who tops the damage meters, but you can do it. But tanking seems like an esoteric skill. It is, but no more so than playing whack-a-mole with 25 health bars WHILE staying out of the fire. Give it a try. Most healers will probably find that they still like healing best – I know I do; I think raid healing 10 mans is my favorite part of the game by far. But I can tank, and I can tank pretty well, and just knowing that is empowering.

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