Focus Magic

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

When I see an Arcane Mage (what I consider to be (for now) my primary class to which the majority of my Cataclysm knowledge is contained in) using Frost Armor and not putting Focus Magic on people in the middle of an instance, it hurts me inside.

I know new players probably don’t know their arse from their head when it comes to skills, and it might just have been a vet who forgot to stick FM on somebody when he zoned in, but that doesn’t give you the right to be a total cunt when I politely say “you haven’t put Focus Magic on anybody” in whisper simply to help you push a little bit harder and give me the opportunity to roll some ‘phat crits’ into my HoTs.

If I’d called you out in the middle of the group by calling you a “noob who doesn’t know his class” then yes, I’m sure I deserve the slanderous response that I get when you hurl abuse at me because I’m just “an insignificant Tauren Druid healer”; perhaps even if I do it in a whisper, by patronizing you about not doing it right.

People are so unwilling to take advise these days. No, putting FM on somebody isn’t encounter breaking, and losing most of your mana regen from not using Mage Armor isn’t going to hurt anybody except you, but they’re likely down to idle mistake or lack of knowedge. So the next time I suggest politely that you boost yourself and your friendly Druid healer with a bit of FM love (or any other relevant character, I just happened to be the only caster), don’t chew me out and tell me I’m the one who’s playing badly. Playing badly would have been calling you out on it and insulting/patronizing you, or letting you suffer horribly because you have to resort to casting an AB1 rotation with 3% less crit than you could potentially have.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Another Day, Another Alt

May 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve neglected my blog recently, probably for no good reason, but let’s pretend it’s because I’ve been busy with University. Despite that, I’ve still managed to maintain a relatively active account, insofar as I now have three level 85 characters: a Mage (Arcane/Frost), a Priest (Holy/Shadow), and a Shaman (Elemental/Resto). The Mage is the only character that I actively play, my Priest (once a glorious Kingslayer) is now nothing more than a transmute donkey (spending her eternity in Uldum making Volatile Airs) and my Shaman a failed healer project (worth 20,000 gold) that does nothing more than ninja the odd item from the guild bank.

I’m quite happy to admit that during my entire Cataclysm experience, the only raid I’ve stepped into is a trash run that lasted just over an hour. I haven’t even looked at Baradin Hold, perhaps the easiest boss since Vaults of Archavon, and I have zero raid boss kills of any Cataclysmic description to my name. I haven’t finished the new 4.1 troll dungeons, and I’ve yet to get a character decked out in full epics. I’m taking Cataclysm slowly, I don’t have the motivation to raid three nights a week after Cliche, it was just too much hard work and not enough enjoyment. I play Warcraft for fun, if I wanted to have to sit for three hours a night doing repetitive tasks then I’d get a job as a secretary (and get paid for it!).

That said, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of modern Warcraft life. I keep up with class changes that I know will affect me, and while I can’t say I’m particularly competent with raid strategies, I’m more than capable at everything else. My months of raiding have taught me that fire burns, which is a lesson that a considerable amount of DPS have yet to grasp. Even worse, with a new gear tier now available to casual players (I’m talking about the 353 troll gear) people now assume that they’re more than welcome to stand in burning hot lava because “they overgear it”, or worse, “the healer overgears it so can heal me”.

I’ve yet to play a healer, but I do have a Druid in the pipeline. I have to say, I spent quite a lot of time on my Shaman (getting it from 1 to 85 in a single “sitting”, rather than playing for a couple of weeks then neglecting it for months, as I tend to do with my alts) with every intention of being a healer but it just didn’t work out. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by what I was playing, I’ve burned out from Shamanism after Icecrown, the same way that I’d burned out with Priest after Icecrown too (hence why that is equally unused). The only class I’ve never healed on comprehensively is a Druid, and while I know that my current Cataclysm experience is far from comprehensive, I’d still like to be able to run just a single Heroic as a healer to say that I’d done it.

Right now, despite all of the Heroic “nerfs” that came in January/February, I still worry about healing them. Things hit harder, heals don’t work as well, mana is actually an issue, it’s so very different from the playstyle I’m used to. At least I think so. The thing is, I’ve healed my way through most of Icecrown 25, Icecrown 10HM, Trial of the Circus 10/25/10HM/25HM and Ulduar, but does that really count for anything? The entire game has switched and now what I used to know is no longer at all relevant (see a previous post for elaboration on “veteran gamers”).

My Druid however, is actually enjoyable. While I made a Druid during Wrath and didn’t feel like I clicked with it because of the “slow HoT heal” strategy, because I haven’t healed at all for such a long time it feels almost like a fresh experience, and one that I’m enjoying. I’m learning (slowly) that I can HoT somebody and know they’ll be okay for a few seconds, and I’ve even got to the point of facepalming when other healers don’t (I saw a healer today cast Renew on a half-health Warlock then immediately top-up with Penance, what’s the fucking point?). Equally with Druid, the only spec I actually enjoy is Resto so there’s no “scapegoat” spec (like Elemental) that I can just jump into and shirk healing forever. If I don’t like Resto then I’ve wasted an entire month leveling a Druid for nothing.

Since the summer holidays are here I can actually set in with some proper blogging again, for all the good it’ll do. And if I really get into it, I might even treat myself to a realm transfer to somewhere that isn’t utterly dead and vacant, though I get the feeling that diminished accountability due to LFG/guild finder/RealID is hitting every realm, not just Saurfang (more on that later, no doubt).

Categories: Squiggle

Vacation

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s been a fair while since I made a significant post (or any poster that didn’t involve me hating horribly on Hunters). I’ve been playing with my usual gusto, I still haven’t stepped foot inside a Cataclysm raid (trash runs don’t count, right?) but I have another level 85 added to my ranks (a Shaman). I’ve also done a fair bit of guild hopping trying to find somewhere to call home.

I finally settled into a guild called Blackwatch. I wanted to hound them since I first saw their guild advertisement calling for mature over 18s, though I guess nobody ever sticks to their Trade recruitment “promises”. We have a few under 18s but mostly friends/family of the officers, and they’re not the annoying whiny unbroken-voice-never-shutting-up-on-Ventrilo kinds so it’s okay. Most of the officer crew is made up of real life friends, which seems a bit odd but it’s not something I feel so strongly against that I’d question it (I prefer a variety of officers from different geological and cultural backgrounds to provide a more even spread of power; complaining to an officer about another officer knowing they’re best friends isn’t a great idea). The guild is friendly though, they don’t hardcore (or even softcore) raid, there are a clutter of events regularly, and they do daily Heroics if nagged hard enough. The guild bank is open to all, and there’s a feeling of trust running through the guild (some might say that an open guild bank is stupid, but from my month in the guild I’ve only ever seen one occasion where this has caused a problem). It also lacks the annoying fanboy cluster of “gz” spamming spoon-licking morons every time I get a mundane “achievement” like “Level 10!”.

I’ve been playing a Mage through the first three months of Cataclysm, but I’m so bored of running the same places knowing that I’ve “capped” all of my gear outside of Heroics, that there’s nothing for me anymore. It was a relatively new character at the end of Wrath anyway, so it’s not like I had a bunch of half-finished achievements/feats to complete.

My Shaman has been built as an Elemental/Resto dual-spec, though I’ve yet to use the Resto spec for more than a single (normal) Cataclysm dungeon, primarily out of the fear instilled in me by the stories of healers gone by and the new healing mechanics. I was a confident healer throughout Wrath, but knowing now that I can’t spam my best heals constantly and have to play triage is an idea that – even months after Cataclysm’s release – hasn’t quite sunk in. I’ve been vigorously gearing up for the past few days, and have a small number of 359 epics and an even smaller number of 346 rares, and I still feel like I’m falling short of where I need to be. The problem lies in the fact that I still haven’t shirked a few pre-85 items and they’re making me feel uncomfortable. The other problem is that half of my gear now lacks Spirit, which is great for Elemental (where I only need enough for a 6% hit conversion for 5-man bosses) but (even psychologically) makes me feel inferior as a healer, constantly in fear of running OOM. Half of the problem is that so many spells have changed for Shamans since Wrath that I look at my hotkeys and blanch. It’s something I’ll work around in time and hopefully come to embrace, but healing isn’t going to be particularly fun until I get stuck in and work through those first few inevitable wipes and bad groups.

Nothing exceptional to report about my gameplay though. I’m working on the Guardian or Cenarius title for my Shaman but it’s taking a fair while. Twilight Texts, weekly Ahn’Qiraj runs and obsessive Coilfang slaughtering is taking its toll. I’m glad I’m not doing The Insane.

Categories: Squiggle

Un-fucking-believable

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Asaad is not a hard fight. Move into lightning field, move out of big electric storm. THREE WIPES we suffered there before we finally could vote kick the thick-as-shit Druid healer. No dispels, in the “bare minimum” gear (his first Heroic, actually).

So we kick him and get a new healer. I’m on my Mage, we have two Hunters. The 13k DPS well-geared Hunter DIES ON THE FIRST STORM. The 700 DPS broken bow Hunter SURVIVES THE WHOLE FUCKING LOT and still does less than the dead Hunter despite the fight lasting almost five minutes.

What the fuck is wrong with the world. Seriously.

Categories: Uncategorized

Guild Level Five – Cash Flow

December 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Cash Flow

“Each time you loot money from an enemy, an extra 5% money is generated and deposited directly into your guild bank.”

 

I can’t be the only one who thinks that this gives guild leaders license to anally abuse every single guild member without even dropping his pants. 5% isn’t a huge amount, but when you have 100 members (or more) all depositing a trickle of gold into the bank each day, it can stack relatively quickly. Insert unadulterated and entirely inaccurate napkin math below.

Total Cataclysm Quests Available: 150+115+125+108+95 (numbers pulled from loremaster achievement from each zone) = 593
Plus a ton of daily quests.

Now imagine that two thirds of all of these quests require you to kill mobs (for drops or for slay counts). Each one on average 8 mobs (napkin!)?

400 (or so) quests.
3200 mobs killed.

That can give you anywhere from 640 gold to 2880 gold (using lower cap of 20s per mob, upper cap of 90s per mob).

5% of that can be anywhere between 32 gold and 144 gold per person leveling (approximately) from 80 to 85. A hundred of those means anywhere up to about 14k gold sitting in a guild bank. Don’t forget that this then doubles with Cash Flow (Rank 2) at guild level 16.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but most guild leaders aren’t stupid, they’re going to notice a few hundred gold trickling into their guild vaults every day, and nobody’s going to see exactly how much they’ve deposited because it doesn’t show in the guild bank log. Most guilds also operate a policy of not giving free repairs to new members, or even only to officers. When you’re running a tight ship like that then where does the gold go?

Oh hi guildmaster, I didn’t see you there behind your armor crafted from Truegold and unicorn cunts.

Case Study: Social Guild A

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

In my time on Saurfang I’ve seen the majority of social players dominated by two different social guilds, Guild A and Guild B. I’ve been with Guild A for quite a while, I guess about six weeks or so (to me that’s long enough to “draw judgment” on a guild). I’m pretty unhappy with the guild in general, or was (since I have now departed) for a number of reasons. Now I’ve never been anything more than a regular member of any guild, I can’t claim to be an officer or a leader and I probably never will be, but I do claim to know what makes a regular member tick and I know that a lot of the practises exercised by Guild A are contrary to what a “smooth ticker” would want:

Recruitment Overload: The fact that two guilds dominate the whole social sphere tells me one thing – they’re trying too hard to recruit. A good guild should have a hundred or so members (maybe a third of those being alts), any less and it’s going to get lonely, any more and it’s going to get crowded. When there are sixty people all online at once talking then a train of thought can quite easily get lost, and there are so many extra ways a person can be misinterpreted (and lead to eventual drama on a much bigger scale). When there are ten or twenty people online then conversations are easier to follow, discussions progress better and there’s less fallout if drama arises.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: An average online count of 40-60 means that one individual voice is drowned out, there’s no individualism to a person because somebody else steps into their shoes instantly, only to be shoved aside seconds later.

Officer Structure: A guild relies on its officers more than most officers care to admit. I imagine it’s no easy feat to look after three hundred people when there are only four of you to three hundred other players. A good player to officer ratio would be fifteen/twenty to one, that is, five or six officers for a hundred man guild. Any more and you’re looking at fat hierarchies and conflicts of interests, any less and players don’t feel like they get enough support and eventually leave. Each officer should have a general level of HR abilities, talking to players, being objective in their views, and knowing where their limits are (and when to ask for help). Depending on the guild make-up the officers might specialise, some may work in recruitment, some may be raid leaders, some may be entirely player-focused, etc. Having four officers manning three hundred people with no guideline as to how to do their job is not a good idea. Officers need to know their own limits and the limits of others, and they need to know when they’re in too deep and to call for help.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: The four officers that the guild has are all pretty hidden. Only one of them is active enough to be considered “officer-like”, and that one is the only person people go to for help. The other three are only officers in name, they don’t do a whole lot and most of them seem to have been picked on the basis of favoritism rather than expertise and leadership abilities.

Guild Master: Oh wow so this is even more critical than an officer. I’ve seen many guilds have one “top guy” who deals with the paperwork whilst the officers deal with the players. This is no different to any big business, with a CEO managing behind the scenes and line managers dealing with people. I’ve also seen some guilds split their power between all officers, so that everybody wears the “Guild Master” title and has identical powers, and the fact that one person has the systematic ownership of the guild is unimportant. In the latter case, a big net of trust needs to be present so that whoever has this systematic power doesn’t abuse it. In the former case, officers need to be trained to know when to refer upwards, and more importantly, the guild master needs to know when and how to delegate. Looking after 300 people isn’t easy and shouldering the whole burden without allowing your other officers to help is not a good idea. Another flaw, and perhaps one that irritates me even more is that if the CEO goes away for a few days (or even weeks) and leaves the untrained and underpowered officers to cover, the guild may end up in a seriously bad way.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: The Guild Master has been away from Warcraft due to the release of Black Ops, and has no intention of returning for another two weeks. Now this is bad for two reasons: (1) the officers are power-lite, they have invite and kick and very little else; (2) a guild master who spends more of his time away from the game than in it gives a very lazy impression, and an impression that is not favorable when long-term players are looking for a stable and happy home. If he must spend him time away, then he should delegate accordingly so that his absence is less noticed.

Favoritism: The problem with a loose and often wishy-woshy officer system is that because there is no unity and no expertise present, the bar for “who can become an officer” is set very low. In a social guild, raiding expertise isn’t an issue, but expecting people to know the game seems to be a bare minimum. However, if people don’t have those skills in order to judge the skills of others, then picking new officers seems to be a case of “who am I more friendly with?”. Promotion starts to be less of an achievement and more of a cock-sucking contest. The problem is, when there are so few officers, the amount of time a person can spend with each is diminished, and there’s not even an opportunity to get their pants down before they have a new favorite recruit. This leaves a guild full of 280 initiates or whatever the base rank happens to be called, and only a handful of people considered “good enough” to be non-plebs.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: Being left to rot as the lowest possible rank is not a happy feeling. There’s no room for vertical growth up the ranks of the guild, and people remain stuck in an indefinite cycle of wanting to do better but having nobody watch them do it. Some people are happy to be initiates, they’re there for the free boosts to 80 then they’re off, some people are there to make a difference but can’t because the only people who get promoted are those that don’t challenge the status quo and keep things “nice and simple” for the underskilled officers.

Revolving Door Concept: When there’s such a large guild with such a small number of officers, the individual contact time and care given seems very minimal. There’s no room for vertical growth (as above), and the scope for horizontal growth is stunted by the fact that nobody cares about your individual achievement (I’m talking about social and domestic, not “Ding Level 80”). With nothing to keep existing players there, and all of the attention going on new players, then it’s no reason that 10 people per day pack up and leave. People use this sort of guild to get to level 80, scout the guild bank for a few useful items and then hot foot to a better guild. In fact, because of the lack of promotion, the guild bank remains locked to all but those twenty favorites who’ve managed to suck enough balls.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: The main aim of Social Guild A appears to be “get as many people as we can”, but that notion is flawed by the very fact that you’re recruiting as many people as you’re losing. You could recruit 12 people per day and lose 10 (for a net gain daily of 2); or you could split your attention to both sides, recruit only 6 per day but only lose 2 (for a net gain daily of 4). Not only do you achieve your guild goal of “xx number of people” but you promote a maxim of low player turnover. The less people you have leaving because your guild isn’t as good as they expected, the less bad press you’re going to get on Trade or word-of-mouth because that player left bitterly and has now blacklisted your guild along with all of his friends. Of course, the whole idea of “xx number of people” is a bad one, but if you’re going to follow it then at least learn to optimize for the sake of the guild, its players and its reputation.

Casual Raiding and Unenforceable Promises: So many casual guilds love to have a casual raiding team, but the problem is that there is not an easy line to draw. You can’t enforce players to come, because then the guild ceases to be casual and moves to being hardcore; and you can’t just let players come whenever because it only takes one person to not turn up to ruin a casual guild run (I’ve noticed an extreme reluctance to recruit outsiders into casual guild runs). I’ve only ever seen one guild completely succeed with casual raiding, and that was a guild that was split down the middle. Half of it was a raiding guild, with enforced raids and punishments for breach, and half of it was a social guild with social events (usually organized by the alts of raiders). Both sides of the coin get their fix, and both sides of the coin have a grey area where they meet. Whilst this sort of layout takes a huge amount of looking after (and thus a higher number of specialized officers) the effects it can have on a guild are staggeringly good.
Why this is important to Social Guild A: I once toyed with the idea of heading up the social raiding aspect of the guild. The guild wanted to raid but nobody would step up and do it. My idea was simple, to have a separate “wing” of the guild that was for raiding, and lead by a different set of officers to those who ran the social aspect. Those officers would have no social powers, but would be able to organize events and see them through. A level of dedication was expected of people, they shouldn’t sign if they didn’t turn up. There were no sanctions, but people who failed to show repeatedly were simply lower priority for invites for future raids. The idea was great, however at the time there was no power to see it through (the leader who had all of the power (as said above) was on holiday) and the idea eventually flopped. At this point, I faded into the background after having my five minutes of fame. I still walked away as an initiate despite pledging to give hours of my time and dedication to the guild. Now though, the guild is about to undertake its first raid this coming Friday. Despite the fact that I’ve already left the guild, I have a friend who remains in it who is going to feed back on the progress. I’m not expecting much, their raid leader (as a Warlock) has Strength gems to boost his pets and can only just push 2k DPS in regular dungeons (despite T9/T10). Now, the guild is social and there isn’t a lot to be expected, but 4/12 seems a bare minimum and if they fail to achieve even that, then I don’t see their Cataclysm “raid wing” going very far.

 

I’ve joined a new guild, Social Guild B, for the time being, and the fact that it (already after only a few hours) is showing signs of the “good things” listed above is a positive aspect. There are a lot of players, but players seem to be cared for and recruitment has taken a back foot as of late. The officers are all available, their expertise listed for all to see and players are encouraged to speak to them if they have issues. People are promoted fairly based on their character and abilities, and the player turnover is considerably lower (in regards to players leaving per day) than Social Guild A. The raiding has a sanctioned aspect, and players are encouraged to join but not forced to. Players who commit to raids are punished for failure to show, and this shifts the blame entirely onto the player for their own mistakes. I’d like to see good things, but it’s too early to tell and I shall reserve judgment for tomorrow when the guild is busy and I can see truly the effect of 300 players on the officer board and overall structure. That said, optimism is a rare occurence for me and I consider myself (right now) quite optimistic for the future.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Shattering: Elemental Invasion

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment

I can’t say that the constant bombardment of elemental attacks are appreciated when I’m trying to level a new character. When a considerable amount of dungeon quests (and more importantly – Pilgrim quests!) are based in Thunder Bluff and Orgrimmar but are entirely inaccessible because of the eight-times-a-day raids I start to get tired of hanging around. I don’t play for long each day, and when I log on and am unable to hand in several quests because most of the quest givers have vanished from the face of Azeroth I just sigh a little inside at the lack of forethought on Blizzard’s behalf.

It’s great providing level 80 players with something to do, but the event should be once or twice a day, or phased for level 75+ characters only. The loot is 251 stuff, which is entirely wasteful since we’ll be rolling in 300+ stuff in two weeks anyway. And to cap it all, Thunder Bluff is the least loved city next to Silvermoon – waiting around to hand in a few quests is an hour’s work. It seems like this event was just pulled out of a hat one night and approved without any care to the fact that half of the WoW population is less than level 80, and thus going to be adversely affected by the constant interruptions.

Categories: Uncategorized