Archive for the ‘Personal Story’ Category

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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*** To all RSS readers: sorry about the double post. Ignore the other one. ***

So we had another weekend of raiding and again no bosses down. But there was progress on some fronts.

Friday we went back to Halfus and tried him again. We were very hopeful because we got him down to 7% last week and into the teens several times before the enrage. We had more DPS this week so we were pumped to ‘geterdone’. Sadly it was not to be. We had nearly the same dragon combination but the difference was critical. We had the Slate dragon which gives the stacking debuff. No sweat. You just have to tank swap. Not worth it to wake him up. We also had the Time Warden same as last week. That is the one that gives the aoe fire rain. Ok, so we kill that one. Last was the Storm Rider. He was in place of last week’s Nether Scion. So in place of the tanks taking a little more damage we had raid wide aoe and knockback that that has to be interrupted PERFECTLY. Ouch. This combination was probably the worst possible. The raid damage is quite bad and the knockback is killer on the heals. We pretty much got creamed. We did change things up and bring in a enhancement shammy to help with the interrupts but it was just nasty. In retrospect we could have kept trying and gotten lucky, the DPS was there but the healing was having a lot of trouble. But we didn’t.

For the second half Friday’s run we popped over to Throne of the Four Winds and tried to learn that fight. Pretty interesting stuff. Big learning curve with all the jumping around. We wiped several times to people not getting to the bridge fast enough. And we were having an issue with the warrior tank being too soft. That closed out Friday. In retrospect we were making ok progress at learning it and should have gone back there Saturday… We didn’t.

Instead decided to go for Magmaw. I blame my eagerness to get something down. I was so hopeful about Halfus all week that I was willing to reset the learning curve and try a boss that was supposed to be ‘easier’. That was a mistake. Magmaw I chalk up to raid balance. We were short on hard hitting AOE at first. We had two mages, both went frost for the slowing effect, one boomkin and a lock. We started off having a big problem with the adds, naturally. We knew the theory and tried the basic strategy of moving all the ranged in a tight pack.

DPS was marginal, healing was marginal and our movement and kiting was marginal. By ‘marginal’ I mean it might have worked but it was so close to ‘barely’ enough that every little mistake was mercilessly unforgiving. So we wiped. We eventually swapped to the strategy where everyone is in melee except one sacrifice for the flame to target that Jaded Alt laid out on her blog.The “at ranged” was the lock. He also went to Affliction spec and that really upped his aoe DPS. That strategy started working by the end of the night and we made some progress. We managed to get Magmaw fully chained twice in a row several times, and got him to around 70%. Not nearly enough but good progress. I am convinced that if we had one of the mages go fire spec for more AOE dps (neither had a fire spec at the time. Karius of course went right out after the raid and swapped Arcane for Fire) or had brought in a good hunter that might have worked. Alternately having a DK aoe kite in place of the lock might have helped too. It is hard to say. I think we were starting to get it with a marginal raid makeup. With a slightly different make up it would have been easier. The boomkin knockbacks were very effective as were the mushroom’s slowing and the frost. But I don’t think the two blizzards and the shrooms all stacked… So there is some optimization we could have done. It looked like we were going to have real mana issues all around had we been able to get farther but it was hard to be sure.

Our DPS was looking better than ever this week except on Magmaw where the two frost specs really lowered the average of normally hard hitting mages.

We are still having issues with the warrior tank being soft. This week on the second trash pull before Magmaw we were able to compare apples to apples of damage and see he was taking almost 20% more damage than the bear. Prior to the last few raids I would not have though having a few slots of ‘DPS’ plate verus ‘tank’ plate would have made that large a difference. But apparently it does. Ouch.

Healing continues to be a challenge as is expected in this expansion. Having our healers hit a bit harder will be great as gear gets better, but so will the whole raid getting better about dodging things. On both counts I blame myself a lot for changing what bosses we went after. Next week we are going to pick just one and really cream it. If the drake combination is even slightly better that one will be Halfus. We have done him the most and know him best. If we had last week’s combination again he would have been down.

I was very happy with how well we went into fights raw and hit the ground running, trying things and learning new mechanics. I need to get better with the ‘directing’ side of things as far as calling out abilities or transitions.  I kinda wish there was an ‘observer’ role where I could raid direct without having to actually, you know, raid. Heh. Or at least not have to remember my rotation and cooldowns and what not.  The Throne of the Four Winds is pretty annoying for leading because you can’t see what is going on at all. It is just “Ow. Ah…. I am down” and health bars twitching all over. I should go find videos on each of the platforms… Well maybe later. I want to go after Halfus first next week.

Analogue notes: I am really happy with my healing team. I have three other ladies who run healers as needed for us – usually some combination of two druids and a shaman or two shaman and a druid. I also have Karius as my backup… she’s got a Holy paladin and is gearing up her Holy priest, but it’s hard to turn down her awesome mage-ness! We are getting to learn these fights and I think picking up really well on what we need to do. I’ve started to do combat logging and if I can just figure out how to use information out of World of Raids, we’ll be set. I think our heals Saturday especially were a little light; one of my two shaman are a bit undergeared, but she’s working on it. That dragon combo was kind of killer and it was with that input that Reversion made the call to switch. We just couldn’t keep tanks up, or the raid dropped.

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I have two main characters.

Analogue became my main during Wrath and probably will remain my main for as long as I play; I’ve just so merged my identity in WoW with “druid healer” that I don’t think I can change it. She gets leveled and geared first, that’s the name I use in Vent and on blogs and, well, it’s my WoW identity. Symbolically, she became my real main when she got name changed to Analogue. Originally she was named Metaphor, but when we moved servers the first time, that name was taken, so I looked for something themically similar and chose Analogue. It works for me.

Then there’s Invariant – who, like Analogue, was originally not named Invariant but Variant. Again, first server move, that name wasn’t available so I changed to Invariant. Either works. She’s a mage. She’s not the first character I rolled, but she is the first that actually appealed to me enough to get past 40. She was my first level 70, my second 80, and my third 85. Poor thing. But despite being leveled behind my priest, I identify with her a lot more than with my priest. Elucidate is just “Analogue’s priest”. Invariant is…. Invariant.

I’ve been able to keep her identity because I use her for very different things. I’m not that into damage dealing these days; I’m too perfectionist to like doing a lousy job, and too haphazard to get 100% performance out of my mage. Oddly I don’t have the issue with my druid… but it’s the role, not the character. I give 110% when I heal; when I’m doing damage I just don’t.

But somewhere along the way Invariant became my achievement runner, my pet collector, my archeologist. It seemed logical enough; mages have some advantages like portals to everywhere. Makes them a lot faster at world achievements. She got 50 pets; then she got serious and scored 75. Now I collect them just to have them.  She has the first mount achievement, and works slowly on getting more. Her archeology is 525 and I’m looking forward to plenty more time with that.

Do you have a dichotomy like this? One character for “fun” and one for “serious business”? Or a PVP main and PVE main, or a different identity for Horde and Alliance?

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We’d just hit 84 and were off in Uldum, helping Harrison Jones, when suddenly, the world went red.

What’s going on?


Wait… what’s that heading for us in cloud and shadow and flame? That’s the biggest dragon I’ve ever seen and he’s heading right at me!


Your World Will End in Flames.


And, of course, in an achievement. Sweet! Even dinging 85 wasn’t as much a rush as seeing that giant dragon of doom coming toward us. How are we going to kill this guy? I can’t even imagine..


And a bonus screenshot of the best thing since RocketBare:




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So let me set the stage… A few days before that Cataclysm dropped I got my warrior to level 80 (yaah). So I queued for a few runs because I was bored. Most of them were normal mode. Here I am, fresh dinged 80 with no gear to speak up and I got in a couple runs with raiders that were helping an alt get a trinket. One of those runs was a normal PoS run and I think all the DPS were averaging over 5k dps. It was some of the hardest tanking I have done. Why? Because I challenged myself to hold all the agro. Sure those guys could take the hits. I probably could have gone AFK. But nah, I like a challenge. So I tanked it. And while I did not so much ‘hold’ agro, I did juggle it so that most of the critters hit me most of the time. Really I pulled out all the stops, hammered keys, bounced around like crazy, and in the end really impressed myself with what I was able to keep up with.

There is a point to this, and it is not to brag. Right after that I got in a Heroic PoS and, despite again really pulling out all the stops and stretching that little gnome warrior, I just could not get Tyrannous down. At some point you hit a wall of ‘gear’ where the tank can’t take the hits and the healer (who was good but also under geared badly) can’t heal them.

So that is the stage going into Cata. We started leveling our main druid pair first and it went well. I knew bear swipe had been nerfed 20% according to the patch notes. I also knew I was losing my 20% swipe 10 set bonus. Also I knew that healing was nerfed and everything was going to be hard again. All that means I expected it to be somewhat challenging in places, and in places it was.

And then we ran instances. Yep, challenging, very challenge. I marked stuff, our very good DPS friends (like RepGrind) CCed stuff. We usually had good DPS levels. Almost 100% of our runs were with guildies. And it was hard but it went ok. Love the new instances, love the new mechanics, but this post is not really about that. I ran a few runs with another tank in the guild and we did less CC on those. I also ran with one of the other raid leaders and he commented how the other runs he was on they CCed less and stuff. Honestly it really pissed me off. How dare anyone think these Cata runs were easy, they were HARD.

Finally I noticed something…. Some adds were quite simply ignoring my aoe threat. They would run right through it when no one else should have had much threat on them. Hmm.. strange. Maybe I need to get Thrash fired off more often. Maybe move a few abilities around. So I went looking for some macros and stuff. Had to Google around to see how they changed the syntax on a swipe macro…

Then, just as I was almost done tuning my macro I ran into a link to this on wow-head’s swipe entry:

[Analogue edit: this thread is an even more detailed “whodunit” sorta rundown for number muncher types: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1118442888]

I checked the numbers they posted against what my meters were saying and it is pretty much right. Bear swipe got somewhere around a 75 to 80 percent nerf.

80% reduction? To swipe? EIGHTY PERCENT??!?!!!

Holy freaking crud no wonder those runs were so dang hard. I have NO AOE threat. How did we even get through those? Why did it take me that long to notice?

Well that last question I could figure out. I had just been on that warrior, for the last few runs before cata. Really compared to those runs it was almost easier. It took me getting my bear to 85 before it really sank in that the runs had been nearly has hard as having the whole party with vastly better gear. I had literally run every other instance in the expansion and was starting the last one (Grim Batol) when I figured this out.

Bears are broken. I hate to say it be they are. Bliz needs to fix this bug ASAP.

Interestingly I had noticed that my ‘how to work your bear in 4.0.1-4.0.3’ post from the other week had been getting a lot of google hits. Now I know why.

For those not yet leveling in Cata who hope Thrash will fix it for you, it will not. It does similar damage levels as swipe, and only adds a tiny little bleed effect. For those of you that are not 85 and were hoping max level would fix the issues for you, it will not.

But hang in there. It IS possible to tank everything here as a bear, you just might need a tiny bit more gear than your pally friends (may they and their three target taunts and their ranged multi target silences and their non-nerfed aoe dps all die horribly in a fire). But you CAN do it. Some of the fights are going to be so hard as to challenge you. Remember to use tab and spread around some other threat besides Swipe. And mark targets for your DPS. If you don’t at least give them a skull to shoot at you will have much much more trouble.

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Holy Shock, Batman!

So this weekend we transferred my paladin and Rev’s spare druid over to our new home on Winterhoof. I pulled the paladin out and started figuring things out. We were planning to do an alt raid that night and I needed to get either my tank set or my holy set back up.

I decided to start with the tank set. I grabbed a belt, added some new gems, and queued up for heroics. I’d gone ahead and re-specced her already so I thought I was ready. It had been a while but paladin tanking had always been fun, I’d pulled 3k+ dps while holding aggro like a pro. No problem. Right?

Ouch. After an instance run where I struggled to pull more than 900 dps, couldn’t keep anything on me to save my life and was absolutely lost as to what I was doing, I went and read more details. Ok… so either Crusader Strike or Hammer of the Righteous, but not both. Excorcism Consecration (edit: brain fart. Thanks for the comments) maybe but it’s not as good as it was. And Holy Wrath is better than before. Let’s try again.

Three hours later I was still miserable. Tanking just wasn’t fun any more. With reluctance I switched spec and gear. I stared at my blank talents, going “uh….” and then went over to Blessing of Kings and grabbed a spec and plugged it in to my own talents. Then I replaced my 219 shield with a ilvl 270 pvp shield, queued as healer, and we’re off.

Ok… so. Beacon still works, just not as much. And Holy Shock gives me holy power. And Word of Glory is a nice heal when I’ve got enough HoPo. And heals-with-a-cast-time on my beacon target generate HoPo… hmm. I can do this. No Sacred Shield but that one was always dumb anyway. And Holy Crap I Can Shoot Lasers From My Hands.

Wait… this is FUN! Whoa!

See, I never really like paladin healing before. It felt like a one-note pony: beacon the tank, roll flash of light or holy light. Meh. And in 5 mans I just didn’t have the tools I really needed to keep people alive.

Now I have big heals, little heals, fast heals, slow heals, instant heals, auto-self-heals, auto-Beacon-heals, and an AOE. Seriously? It’s like being a druid! I have choices and have to change my priorities second by second.

One guess what spec I took to that raid! I had a blast there, healing in a team with another pally and a shaman. Way too much fun. I think I’ll keep this holy spec… but I may have to switch from prot to ret.

Or a dual-Holy-build. Some of those other talents look fun.

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There’s been some brouhaha in the blogosphere recently about the role of DPS classes in 5 mans. Are they just supposed to obediently follow the tank, should they be given more consideration, does the healer regard them as nothing more than useless mana-sinks? Really it’s the sort of thing I don’t think we’re going to be talking about any more once the expansion hits, at least not for a year or so, because we’re resetting the gear curve and things are going to be hard again.

That’s my theory, see: ease of content is promoting an attitude of “I can do it all myself, what do I need these other four losers for?” even in basically decent players. How many stories have you heard of a tank-and-healer out-dpsing the three dpsers – and laughing at them? Or the hunter who did 12k, pulled the boss off on himself, but got the pet to tank it so it was fine?

In less than a month we’ll be back to the old dance, where everyone had to know his part and follow it. But for now, here’s some thoughts. First, from my uber-geared-healer side: Shut up and follow the tank. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe he’s nuts and pulling three groups at once (Hi Reversion love) or takes forever to pull just one, or is going some really non standard way – I once had a tank go RIGHT in Nexus, can you believe it?

But he is standing between me and nasty big things with teeth and curses and I will let him do that. If you stick near us, you’ll get heals. I throw them at anyone who is in range. If you aren’t? If you’re on your own optimal path, or see some side path you think needs exploring? Don’t expect me with you. This is for your own good.

No, really. See, when you pull more than you can handle, you’ll die. If I’m there, maybe I can keep you alive. Maybe I can’t. Either way the mobs are going to attack me too. Then I die. Then we have a long run back.

However, if you die nicely where you are, maybe the tank and I will come and rez your butt.  Heck, I might even innervate you if you’re a mana using class. I won’t need that spell for myself until Cataclysm.

See, there’s only one of me. Even if I could guaranteed keep you and me alive – what happens to the tank in the meantime? Or the other two dpsers? There’s four of you. Assuming you all come into the instance and run in different directions, I can only be with one of you at a time.

Now, the other side of things. This weekend I ran a Deadmines on my level 20 hunter alt. She’s heirloomed up, she has two different pets to choose from, she kills things so fast it ain’t funny. I get a group: there’s a priest healing and a druid tanking. There’s also a paladin and a shaman.

The druid goes tearing along like you expect. Then he gets to the room with the first boss. Somehow everything gets pulled at once (no it wasn’t me doing it) and he dies. I switch my pet to growling, keep aggro off the healer, the healer keeps us up, we finish, we rez the tank, who says something really dismissive to the healer. And then the tank rolls Need on the cloth gloves that just dropped, that the priest rolled on.

The priest asks the druid not to roll on intellect cloth. The druid says, and I kid you not, “I use mana too”. And then again criticizes the priest’s healing.

I chime in to say that intellect is spellpower, now, and a tank doesn’t need it. I get told to “shut up huntard” and asked whether I know how to druid tank. I refuse to play this epeen-waving game and we continue.

The druid now is in cat form. He stays in cat form the rest of the instance. The paladin throws Righteous Fury up and soaks a lot of aggro, I keep my pet ready to growl things off me if I can. However, I’m doing so much damage that basically every mob runs over and beats on me.

The healer does an amazing job and I don’t die, but my damage is now terrible because, well, I’m a hunter and all these things won’t stay at range. So now the tank starts mocking me. I point out how if he was doing his job I could do mine. “Learn 2 hunter” is his reply.

What exactly should I do? Feign Death? Don’t have it. Freezing trap? Don’t have it. Misdirect? Don’t have it. Disengage? Don’t have it.

At some point we finally get out of combat long enough that the priest is able to initiate a vote kick, reason “ninjaing loot”. I vote yes. The vote fails.

“Stop being loot whores” is what one of the other two dps say. I sigh.  The group continues.

This is the incredible thing to me. The healer is being mocked, when his skills are actually above average. He’s not getting most of his loot. He’s dealing with inconsiderate, jerkish people. Me? I would have sat down and not gone any farther, or let the tank die, or something. But he didn’t.

As a low level dpser, I had two choices: drop group or keep putting up with this crap. I stayed. Maybe I should have dropped  but at that point I was rolling need on spell drops so I could give them to the priest. It felt like I’d be abandoning a comrade in a pit of suck to leave now. So I shut up and followed the tank.

On thinking about it, I am depressed but think it was still the best choice. It was that or leave, and it didn’t really violate my principles enough for me to leave in a snit. What I didn’t do was head off on my own and kill something I’d decided needed killing, because that wasn’t my job and because that would have made it harder for the healer, who at that point was the only person in the instance I thought was innocent of blame. Even though the tank was wrong and he sucked, I could only have made the situation worse by independent action, not better.

But I don’t think I’m going into lowbie dungeons without at least Reversion again. Two of us makes a powerful force against stupidity.

Still, I think all of us need to steal a motto from somewhere else. I’d suggest “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”, but man, that  one gets harder all the time. Maybe “First, Do No Harm” would work?

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