Is personal loot killing raiding guilds?

It’s been a rough couple of months both in and outside of the game.  I was sick with one thing or another for about a 2 month stretch and have finally kicked the illness!  The only thing is, now that I’m finally well again I’m tempted to invest in surgical masks to keep it that way.  My daughter brings home all forms of sickness from daycare and it just goes with the territory in this phase of life.  

Before the holidays I told you all how my guild entered into a guild merger which seems to have failed spectacularly but not in the way that you would think.  We were as egalitarian as we could be in these sorts of mergers and acquisitions.  Myself and the GM of the guild that were combining forces with entered into a co-gm type relationship which before now I would have balked at for being an smoke screen for disguising who was really in charge.  Turns out that it was me by default, since the other GM seems to have vanished into thin air.  On our third week as a new guild we had abysmal attendance and all of the former officers and big guild contributors had quit and were citing the game as the problem.  We had 30 people the first week ready to play together, and then 21 the second week and now 8 the third.  

I’m finally feeling great again, health wise, but find myself with the scraps of a guild, all my friends have decided that World of Warcraft is now boring and not worth their time (including my husband).   I still want to play, so what’s a girl to do?  For the last several weeks I’ve been joining pug raids, pug being the gamer term for Pick Up Groups, and have been enjoying these random encounters and variety of players I meet.  

I’ve been spending time on alts and should be spending time making money in the game but it’s so different from what I typically what do to make money that I haven’t spent the time to learn new methods of gold generation.  

Remember racing to a chest and hoping that you would be quick enough to grab it’s contents before the person next to you?  Oh the good ol’ days

I’ve also been day dreaming about World of Warcraft Classic and remembering a simpler time where people needed to actually show up if they wanted to get some loot.  Personal loot may very well be the death of a large number of raiding guilds since much of the incentive to stick with the same group was loot driven.  Why would anyone stick with a group if you could just walk into any guild and instantly get gear without having to go through a month long trial period or wait your turn for the most sought after items when your guild is using DKP or loot council?  What personal loot does is cater to the casual player and kills social communities that are bound together by their desire to better their characters through raiding.  It’s not all bad I guess, since I’m able to pug raid on my alts and not worry about having items I can use ninja’d away from me, which was the big argument for switching to this system.  As upsetting as dealing with this unfairness was, it pushed me to create strong ties in a community where I can play with the same people each week and make friends that kept me playing the game.  Assuming that personal loot remains a thing going forward, is WoW going to be a strong enough game to keep those casual players playing without the strong social ties that we typically create in raiding guilds? 

Guild mergers and acquisitions

It’s finally happened! I found the Goldilocks guild that compliments my guild perfectly. This last couple weeks have been exhausting both, looking for that merger candidate and recruiting players at the same time. After all this hard work and long hours spent on the non-game part of the game, we finally get to actually PLAY!

I found these guys by chance. After all the work I went through sorting through guilds on wowprogress.com and looking through logs and tracking down the guild leaders, I happened to see a guy shouting in game that they were looking for players. What stuck out to me was that their play times were very close to when we play.  By chance, we also had another long time player that joined these guys earlier in the expansion, so we had that mutual tie.

Within 10 minutes of taking to these guys I decided that I liked them and that they run their group similar to how we run ours. In under an hour we had all the leadership in agreement that we were going to give this a go.

We both decided that we had to go into this with a clear plan. We took our combined people and created our first raid group with basically an even split of players from each guild. Everyone involved in leadership worked fast to get this first group in place. Then we were off to the races!

Our first raid was on a Tuesday and I tried my best to take a step back and let the other guild leadership lead the group through the fight.   I talked less than normal and focused on my own performance as a player.  I felt a renewed vigor in myself and felt great.  I had more fun this night than any other night in the past 6 months in game.  I think we all felt this way.  Remember how I said that guild recruitment is like dating?  I think we found a keeper.

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Each week my guild has been getting just a little bit better and a little bit bigger.  We has a large amount of interest in our guild the first few weeks that we were raiding in the new expansion.  I was talking to several people per day about how we run our group and what we expect of our members.  Some players I turned away, if they had never raided before or if they seemed to have a “my shhht don’t stink” type of attitude.  I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into seeking out recruits, they were mostly coming to me.  Things seem to be going in the right direction until a couple weeks ago when our steady stream of recruits seemed to dry up.  I went from talking to several people per day to talking to maybe 1 or 2 per week.

Last weekend I busted my butt to get our numbers up.  I had a goal of bring in 6 new people and ended up finding 8!  It was a lot of time and effort to get this many people but it would be worth it if we could just fill our raid group for both of our scheduled nights.  Tuesday started out well.  We got down the bosses that we killed in the previous weeks and moved on to start learning some new bosses.  We had exactly the number of people we needed to play but our group set up was far from ideal.  We were a healer short and melee heavy for 2 out of the 3 fights available for us to work on.  It was a rough 1 of progression but we got through it, which was more than can be said for the previous week.

Thursday was a different story.  Of the 8 people that I recruited the weekend before, only 2 showed up, 2 had work conflicts and the other 4 were just nowhere to be found.  We ended up running our heroic clear with less than clean execution.  We brought in a few friends of players that were just not great players and we were carrying them pretty hard.  I ended up sitting one of the friends due to poor performance and being dead the whole fight.  We also had one of our tanks leave in the middle of Thursday -_-  tanks should be the most reliable players in any raid group.  It’s such a coveted position, why risk it with absences?  I’m at a lose for which direction to go.

I’ve talked to a few different guilds about possible merger/collaboration but most seem to want to cherry pick our best players and leave the rest, and that’s not the direction that I want to move in.  If only I could get like 8 players that are here on our 2 nights that we have scheduled content…then we could move forward and work on some new bosses.

I keep telling myself baby steps will get us there, but it is super slow and I want to already be there.

Being a Woman in Gaming

Typically there would be at least one other female gamer in the guild that I was in.  I don’t know if this is because we tended to find each other due to the type of leadership that the guild had.  I had refused to play with certain guilds due to how I was treated, or if they had provocative pictures on their forum.  I am fine with pictures of beautiful women but I’ll be out the door if they is pornography in your player forums…just….no.

In my experience there is always a lot of flirting in games.  When your guild has a male to female ratio of 15:1 you tend to see the women getting a lot of attention.  I have benefited from lots of help over the years in the game, I will assume that it was due to being a female.  I always try to pay it back or pay it forward but I’m sure there is an imbalance in my favor.

Along with the attention, women can also be the target of unwanted harassment.  There have been more than a few times where I received inappropriate and unwanted private messages.  It was even worst if it came from people that I played with on a regular basis or members of my guild.  It was a difficult position to be put in.  If a woman deflects advances she gets called a bitch and I’ve seen this type of negative notions get spread throughout a guild because rather than nurse a bruised male ego quietly, it was done with rumors and trash talk.  For about 2 years I refused to play in the same guild as my husband (boyfriend at the time) because there was this ONE GUY that would call me a “little c**t” every time I joined up with them to do group content.  I told him to cut it out, but he saw that it irritated me so he kept doing it.  One of the benefits of being the guild leader is that people don’t test my boundaries like this.  If they were to call me any sort of derogatory term they would be out the door faster a speeding ticket.

I’ve been exploring the world of how female players are treated in gaming to gain a broader understanding beyond my own experiences.  I found the Not in the Kitchen Anymore where a Jenny Haniver publishes clips of negative interactions that she has with other gamers.  I will tell you that I’ve listened to these clips and was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were “yea I hear this all the time” and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  Have I grown complacent to the verbal abuse that we face in these games as women?

So why do these men berate women in these games?  Is it a power thing?  Are the motivations to cat call women on the street or call them whores in video games the same?  I’ve often heard that women would be better off if they confronted the abuser and to this I am conflicted.  A few weeks ago I was the target of unwanted advances while at a fair grounds.  I will tell you that I did not give him an ear full for a few reasons, first – he was operating a ride that my child was on and I didn’t want her to become a target for retaliation after I rejected this man.  Second – I didn’t know what this guy was capable of, was he prone to violence?  or stalking?  I don’t know and I’d rather not put myself in a position to find out.

Barely doing Mythic + dungeons

So I used to think that gaming was going the way of catering to the more casual gamer.  Although, what I’m finding is that I can play some of the things but I’m punished for playing as little as I do.

Back in Wrath of the Lichking people lamented the use of addons like Gear Score and to our surprise Blizzard thought that scoring system for ranking a player’s overall gear was a good idea and implemented it into their base game and call it item level.  You can view a person’s item level when you are using the group finder addon and it is one of the few pieces of information that you see along with their name, class and role.  If you want to take your selectiveness to the next level you can use a website and addon called RaiderIO In theory this type of system is great for weeding out the inexperienced and poor performing players.  There was the occasion where I wish I had more information on the people that I was partying with people who end up freaking out in chat and then leaving.

The way that Raider IO scores a player is a little bit odd.  You get points based on how many mythic + dungeons you complete during the current week and you get more points for completing a variety of dungeons.  You get more points for completing these dungeons with a favorable time but you are penalized if you had a great completion the week prior and did not run that same dungeon this week.  So, in order to maintain your score you must continually do the dungeons.  I currently have a score of 211 which is considered pretty low, I have completed 4 dungeons for the week which were all between level 7 through 9.  If I had time I could complete a bunch of +4 or +5 with a great time and that would give me a better score than simply completing the 9 that I did where we didn’t make the time.  I don’t really get any points for completing raid bosses which is where my focus is for now.

I don’t have a ton of time this week to run these dungeons but I do plan on the future to do some sort of experiment.  I play a desired class for dungeons due to our roots and slows (frost mage) and I shouldn’t have trouble finding groups with my gear.  I want to run some +4/+5 dungeons and see how that effects my score.  I’m viewing my raiderio score as a metagame within World of Warcraft and while I’m a bit angry that I’m being excluded from groups based on this score, I would probably exclude players as well if I were the one making the group and wanted to succeed.

All of this being said, I love the mythic keystone system and its ability to challenge you.  I do want to form a more consistent group to do these so that I can do better.  I really need more practice since I’m a little fuzzy on the mechanics of all the trash and the boss fights.  There is a lot of information to remember and running through these dungeons more will definitely help with this.

What are your thoughts on scoring players based on a point system?  Do you find it helpful or hurtful?  How could raiderio be improved?

Early progression in Uldir

For a couple of expansions now World of Warcraft has been putting in place gates to their content in order to trickle out new things for us to do in game a little bit at a time.    In the past as soon as a new game opened up you would have access to all of the content including the large scale raids that require you to have between 8 and 40 people all at maximum level to be able to kill some bosses.  This often is where the best loot in the game was and was the goal of a lot of players to get to and through it.  The day that the expansion would launch you would have a mad rush to get to the end game, where many of us thought the game truly began.  We would play a crazy amount in that first week and it wasn’t unusual for my friends and I to clock in 16+ hours per day during this first big push.  Once we got to that final level we would switch gears and start hunting for the best equipment available to us outside of raids.  So this meant running the smaller dungeons which only require 5 players to complete, doing additional quests or any other task that the game developers decided that we would need to do to get some shiny new gear.  During this time, if there were attunements needed to get into the higher level content we would work on these as well.  A raid attunement is mostly a relic of the past and was just a way to further gate the content and slow down the progress of a player to reach this content.  Most of the time it was a time consuming task that we were forced to do in order to play the part of the game that we really wanted to play.  I realize that all this makes me sound like the grandma of raiding “Back in my day we had to do an insanely long quest chain in order to even step foot in Onyxias Lair”  and we did this backwards in the snow up hill, or something like that.  I only talk about the past to highlight how much better it is for those of us that enjoy raiding.

Full disclosure:  I used to consider myself to be super hard core.  The way these games used to be meshed well with my play style.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve witnessed the genre mature with me.  To my delight I can continue to play how I want to play and the game rewards me, perhaps not as much as the poopsocking-hard-core-world-first-striving raiders…but I feel like there is still a place for me and I am satisfied with the majority of how WoW feels today.

This time around we got a generous span of time to level up and work on our characters.  What the gates to Uldir finally did open, we were itching to get in there.  The layout of Uldir was reminiscent of Wildstar’s Datascape and Zul’gurub from WoW classic.  There were blood hexers and lots of pulsating blood graphics, which I personally don’t care for.  The fights were messy and chaotic and if your group had high damage output, many of the fight’s mechanics could be bypassed.  Some of the heroic fights were a little too easy and I know that once we clear the heroic version of Uldir we will be clammoring for them to introduce cross-server mythic raiding.

My guild is more community than guild at the moment.  Over the years we have formed lots of friendships with players that love raiding and communities have allowed us to play together without having to force everyone to pay for a server transfer.  This is great for us but we are faced with having to wait an estimated 3 months for the mythic raids to be available to us.  There are achievements for being one of the first 100 guilds of each faction to clear Uldir Mythic, I believe in order to make an effort to re-balance the factions.  More and more people each year are playing the Horde faction because…hello?  Bloodelfs!  The imbalance is especially prevalent at the very highest level of raiding.  Only 5 of the top 50 guilds as of today play the Alliance faction.

Wow Progress

Encouraging raiders to switch factions is a smart way to spread out some of the population.  I know that when ever I’m looking for a faction/server to play on in any game I look for:  1. a high population server and 2. Where ever the best guilds play.  I’m not alone in this.  Take a look at my server Illidan.   There are a lot of raiders on my server which makes recruiting much easier and is very attractive to players that like to raid since there are so many options for guilds if one doesn’t work out.  And if you really want to shoot for the stars we have some of the best guilds in the US on our server.

I’m hoping that Blizzard will decide to open up mythic raids for cross server sooner than the 100/100 clears.  The idea of a guild is changing with addons, cross server play and communities we shouldn’t be squeezed into the green-text guild box the same way that we played in the past.  We are evolving as a player base and measures like gating us out of content is not good for business.

 

Prioritizing play for a casual raider

I’ve come to dislike the term casual raider probably due to all of the negative connotations that go along with it.  When you called someone a “casual” or to really make the insult sting “filthy casual” it meant that as a player you were not very good at video games and lacked the ambition that made the rest of us “hardcore raiders” play so much.  Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I know what used to be the dirty word “casual” is an entirely different market of gamers that developers are now catering too.  First of all I like to let people know that I’m not casual, I’m a working professional with a family and all of that takes up time that I would otherwise be using to play video games.  As a working professional gaming enthusiast, I have had to take a hard look at my priorities in game and ruthlessly cut down my to-do list.  There is no way to do everything that I want to in game each day or even every week.  The following is how I have been balancing life with my insatiable need to play WoW.

Currently I’m playing the new Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft and while some of my friends are able to put in 10+ hours per day into developing their characters, I have about 3 to 4 hours at night and maybe a 6 hour block on most Saturdays to play.  First I look at what my big picture goals in the game.  Currently I want manage a successful guild/community and have us on a consistent raid schedule – further down the road I will want us to clear all of the current raid content.  In order to do this I start with a list of priorities:

  1. Recruitment like-minded players who want to play the same what that I like to
  2. Raid fight research and strategy development
  3. Character development

I’ve talked a little bit about how I’ve been recruiting players and how that’s been going.  I’ve had a lot of luck building out our community through advertising on the WoW forums.  Most of my time recruitment has been spent chatting with people that are interested in playing with us.  I’m terrible  at multitasking when it comes to playing and talking.  If I’m enjoying a conversation I can’t be playing the game at the same time or I’ll get distracted.  So I need to choose either playing or talking to applicants.  Our community numbers are over 200 players with about 60-70 online per night and last night we were able to fill our raid with 26 people.  I’m hoping to grow our numbers even further and get a second group going during a weekend night.  Of course this means that I’ll have to find time to level an alt if I’m going to be part of the second group.  One of these days…

mage

Raid fight research and developing strategies is an area that I want to dedicate more time too.  I typically have a ‘jump in and see where we land’ approach to learning a raid fight.  We can talk about the mechanics on a basic level but I believe that people (I) really need to see how something works to be able to learn how to do it. The first week of Uldir was a rough one for me.  I had done less research than several of my members and they ended up doing the fight explanations.  This week I was on point and spent a lot of time analyzing where our boss kill strategies were lacking and ways to simplify the fight for the individuals through group directions.  Basically means I tell people where to stand, when to stack up and spread out and what to kill and when.  If you can communicate this to your people and they are able to understand the general concept of the fight, we will be able to get that kill.  The more I see a fight the more I’m able to understand how to explain it, so when I had the opportunity to get additional hours on a few of the fights with one of my former raiding guilds I took it.

For the last month I have been spending the bulk of my time in game developing my own character.  No one wants to see the guild leader at the very bottom of the logs, and that’s where I’ve been.  I would be happy if I could sit more middle of the pack but it’s a challenge to do so while still making calls over voice chat.  I’ll sometimes catch myself just watching things happen without hitting my buttons just so that I can fully understand what went wrong so that I can correct the errors.  Sometimes this happens and we kill the boss anyway and then my lots REALLY suck.  I can pull some decent numbers if I keep my mouth shut and just focus on playing correctly.

I’ve finally gotten into a rhythm and will work on certain things every night.  Emissary quests can build up to 3 at once and do them all and that’s how I’ve typically been completing them.  I haven’t missed any yet!  The list seems long but I built this list based on what I’m actually doing and not what I’m trying to get done.

  1. Daily:
    1. Complete every emissary – these are the bonus rewards that you get for doing 3 or 4 of a specific type of world quest.  They also give a ton of reputation which I’m focused on getting in the most time efficient way possible
    2. Check the companion app for azerite quests
  2. Finish Weekly Tasks:
    1. Complete a high level mythic keystone
    2. Complete Warfront activities
    3. Expeditions for the weekly bonus
    4. Kill the world boss
    5. Complete the weekly if the reward is good (this week it is complete 4 mythic dungeons)
  3. Raid preparation:  I wrote about preparing on my mage for raid last week
    1. 10 Flasks
    2. 40 Crit Food
    3. Intellect Potions – I’m currently poor in game so I used these sparingly
    4. Stat Runes – Also use these sparingly
    5. All gear gemmed and enchanted
  4. Complete additional Mythic + dungeons for gear upgrades
  5. Complete world quests for Azerite and war resources
  6. Farm Gold

Since farming gold is so far down on my list, my in-game money has been dwindling.  I’ve been stingy with my consumables and since I’m an alchemist my flasks last 2 hours which cuts the amount I need to buy in half and saves me about 6,000g per week.  I’ve only started to get to an uncomfortably low amount of gold and started looking at some ways to refill the coffers.  One of my characters is a Tailor/Enchanter so I’m currently looking at an item that I can craft a bunch of and disenchant for a profit.   I’ve crafted a few of the alchemy items called Potion of Herb Tracking, which goes on your companions and they return herbs when completing a mission.  I’m confident that I can make enough gold to pay my subscription and replenish my battle net currency back up to the cap of $350.