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.
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.
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:
- Recruitment like-minded players who want to play the same what that I like to
- Raid fight research and strategy development
- 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…
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.
- 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
- Check the companion app for azerite quests
- Finish Weekly Tasks:
- Complete a high level mythic keystone
- Complete Warfront activities
- Expeditions for the weekly bonus
- Kill the world boss
- Complete the weekly if the reward is good (this week it is complete 4 mythic dungeons)
- Raid preparation: I wrote about preparing on my mage for raid last week
- 10 Flasks
- 40 Crit Food
- Intellect Potions – I’m currently poor in game so I used these sparingly
- Stat Runes – Also use these sparingly
- All gear gemmed and enchanted
- Complete additional Mythic + dungeons for gear upgrades
- Complete world quests for Azerite and war resources
- 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.
Angry is one of those guilds where people tend to hang around. The group of players hasn’t changed much in the past 7 years since I stopped raiding on their schedule. At the start of every expansion a lot of people, myself included, return to dip their toes back in the WOW waters and see how the game feels. Since my guild was done playing through the raid for the week I asked to tag along to the Angry raid and get some more practice on some of the bosses that my guild was stuck on and also practice my arcane rotation.
As the raid group began to fill I saw so many names that I remembered and started to reminisce about Throne of the Four Winds and Firelands some of my fondest memories in WOW. I remembered our group playing with a quiet intensity pushing ourselves to complete boss encounters and raid achievements. This was also my first year going to Blizzcon where several of my guildmates met up to see all of the new announcements for our game. Being a member of this guild was a commitment which formed a bond between us that has persisted through the years.
The Guild Master of Angry is someone that I will always remember for grilling me via in game whispers for 4 hours before he would consider giving me a shot in his guild. He had his doubts that I would stick around, rightfully so since my husband (boyfriend at the time) was in a competing guild on the same server. I spent a lot of time convincing this guild that my intentions were sincere and that I had no interest in playing in my boyfriends guild due to how they treated the women that played there. It took a while but I think I showed that I was in it for my guild and ended up playing with them for a year and a half through two tiers of raids.
The raid started and I jumped right in having much more confidence in my abilities than I did 8 years ago when I first joined Angry. There was the familiar banter over our voice chat and the calm coordination that was typical for this group. I chatted with a few people that I remembered about some current game related things and tried my best to tone down my raid leader muscles and let them run their team the way that they did. I did my best to pay attention and play my role in this group. I offered some insights since my guild had spent some time on the same bosses the night before. I took note of what they did better and how they communicated and assigned tasks. It was a well oiled machine of players that were comfortable with each other and trusted in each other’s ability something that I strive to build in my own guild. We worked on two fights and were able to kill them successfully.
Once we were done for the night the high spirited chatter in our voice chat surged. Everyone’s voices were a little bit clearer than I remembered, probably due in part to my muffled memory of that time and also due to advances in voice over IP technology. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia remembering all of the good times as we chatted about who were the oldest members in the guild and how they came to be members, that time when someone left the guild only to return 18 hours later, and who had the most epic failures when it came to devastating mechanics. I could have stayed up and listened to the stories all night. Of course the reason that I don’t play with them now is a difference in schedules. They end their night at about 1am my time which is a bit too late if I want to be able to function at work the next day.
I remember explaining the relationships that I formed in MMOs and how I wasn’t playing with strangers every night, I had grown to know these people over the years and we had built friendships with our common hobby being the anchor point that held us together. This was of course back when the internet was a scary place, at least in the eyes of most parents, with predators lurking in every chat room. It was a hard concept to grasp if you hadn’t experienced it but these people that I played games with and only ever spoke to over the internet were my friends! We would spend hours together every night fighting monsters and exploring caves. I’ve made some amazing friendships over the years and there are not many places that are steadfast but Angry is one of those places that will always feel like home.
I’m playing a mage this expansion and I know that dealing damage is a much more competitive scene than how I typically play, which is healing. As a group be are going to be maintaining the stance that you are not required to use the expensive raid consumables this first week. The normal and heroic versions of Uldir will be out today and we plan to get through all of normal and some of heroic. While we are not requiring consumables this week I do know that most of my group is competitive and will be using them anyway. I want to be prepared and will be using my consumables if we are not able to kill a boss in one or two tries. I may not be using all of the items that I bring in preparation but it is nice to have the option to if I want.
If you are going use any consumables at all the best one to start with is a flask. The great thing about flasks is they will last the entire one hour even if you die. This is not the case with most of the other consumables which will only last through one death. Knowing how many flasks you need is a simple calculation of how many hours you will be raiding. A gain of 238 of our main stat is a huge increase and will definitely help make up for the lack of gear that I was able to get in the first few weeks of the expansion.
There are different levels of food consumables and depending on what your stronger secondary stat is you will want either crit or haste as a frost mage. An easy way to find out your ideal stats is to do a quick sim in raidbots. This will tell you what type of food is best to use. You can choose a food that will increase a single secondary stat by 41 or 55 points, and you can only use one food at a time.
Augment runes are an item that was first introduced in Warlords of Draenor and served as an additional consumable which you could get as a random drop in dungeons, reward from follower missions and can also be bought and sold on the Auction House. During the first few weeks of a new raid tier the price of these will sky rocket. Since these do not persist through death you could potentially be using a lot of these on new content. I have some of these runes but plan to hold onto them until we have a strategy down for a boss and just need that extra damage to hold us over.
The final consumable that I would use would be one of the battle potions which grants great increase for a short period. You always want to make sure that you are timing these potions effectively. I’ll be using these along with my Icy Veins during our initial burn phase making sure to use it a couple seconds before the boss is engaged and then again when I have cool downs available. You are able to squeeze two uses out of these potions if you time it correctly but they are expensive.
One thing that never seems to change with the game is that raiding is an expensive expensive.
As someone who has spent the majority of the past couple years revisiting the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions of WoW I have come to appreciate the group finder tools in game and how far they have come over the life of the game. Gone are the days where you would type in chat “/who priest” and whisper everyone that came up to come heal your dungeon group. The current looking for group tool allows you to group for anything you want with it’s highly customization options and categories. I mostly use it for dungeon and world quests but you can find some role playing or transmog or other various farming groups.
We do have quite a large community group and guild currently, but sometimes we still need to pug someone for our dungeon groups. “Pug” means that you are finding someone that you don’t know to come help your group complete a task and is often viewed as a gamble. This person could be good or they could be awful, it’s really hard to tell. There is a ton of information out there about your character and if someone has the patience to do the research they can find out a lot about how you play. In game there is a quick and dirty way of selecting your hypothetical best option and that is by choosing someone with a high item level.
I’ve seen a lot of people on twitter pointing out that one week into the expansion there is a lot of unreasonable requirements for finding a Mythic dungeon group. The next level down’s gear is a 325 item level and the mythic is 340. There are lots of groups out there that will require someone with a 340 item level to just join the group. “Why would someone with that high of an item level want to run a dungeon with this group?” The answer is, most of the time that requirement is not met when people sign up to be considered. As someone who forms a lot of groups and uses the group finder to find players to complete our party, I will tell you that most of the time we are too impatient to wait. Now there may be some people that are amendment about finding a super geared player, and they are out there but are they willing to wait for the perfectly geared person? Probably not.
Applying to join these groups reminds me of a statistic that I heard somewhere surveying men who were applying to jobs. They would go after jobs that they only met 40% of the criteria in the job description. Having a more impressive resume (or item level) will definitely help you land that position both in a job or in a dungeon group. So I urge you, be bold if your endeavors but also keep grinding that gear 😉 When all else fails, make your own group 😀
I am absolutely in love with the new World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth. So that is where most of my free time is being spent. Since I have other obligations such as work, I love having little ways to keep in touch with my in game characters throughout the day.
I’ve been using any app that’s available for mmos. It started with rift app and then the mobile AH in wow and then Legion companion app. I’m a big lover of in game economies and always am looking for ways to make money in game. The Mobile AH for wow was one of my favorite apps. I fondly recall someone in one of my college classes having the money sound that the app makes go off. It was one of those “yea, I know you’re a video game nerd” moments.
I just wanted to leave this image here as large and colorful as it is, since a tiny phone screen can not do this app design justice. The detailing is beautiful and the menu is intuitive and takes from the basic design from the Legion app which I used extensively. The app has a limited amount of things that you can do on it, one of which is sending your companions out on missions which you can only use it for as long as you have resources to do so. I mainly use it to send out my followers on missions to assist with the rep grind. I found that it was hard to keep up with resources on my alts when I was using the app in Legion.
This app has some odd bugs. Notice the green check marks? This is supposed to mean that if you have a companion that counters a mobs abilities effectively. What I’ve found is that sometimes if you select the companions that complete all the counters will sometimes give you a low success rate compared to some of the companions that do NOT counter the mobs. Not sure what that’s about!?
I both love the simplicity of this app but also wish that it included some additional features that the WoW armory app does. I would love to have access to community and guild chat while on my phone and the ability to look at the items in my characters inventory, buy and sell on the AH. I know they got rid of this and have no plans to bring it back but I hope they reconsider! I would also love to be able to craft since that’s mainly a task that I do when I’m not parked in front of my computer anyway. Even if it was time gated I would be OK with that. Maybe someday we’ll be able to play more of WoW on our phone or tablet.
As we close out the first full week of the new World of Warcraft expansion I’m feeling accomplished. I didn’t put in as many hours as some did but felt like I got a respectable amount done. I played about 14 out of the first 30 hours that the game was out (don’t judge me). Once we hit level cap, the hubs and I decided to do what all the hard core players were recommending which was to grind out all of the World Quests. We did that the first night and that was all that we had time for. Not wanting to spend 5 hours per day doing world quests, the second night we did minimal amount of world quests and began to explore the game. I spent some time working through some of the story that I hadn’t finished yet, working on my professions, and doing some casual dungeon groups with our new community. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday night I worked on the Mythic difficulty of the dungeons since those had some of the better gear rewards. I was on track to complete them all when my high population server started to stutter. We had a group and had completed one so far and were heading to the next zone when we got an error of “Instance Aborted” and were sent back to where we came from. I don’t recall this happening before and it may be the rose colored engineering goggles but I think this may be one of the worst wow expansions launches in recent history. First we had a 6 hour period the first night where we couldn’t log on and now the server was having problems and preventing me from completing my last two mythic dungeons. So sad 😦
On top of this being a busy week of exciting new video gaming, I also found myself extremely busy with work. I’m part of a fairly fresh team and there is a lot that we want to do. Anytime there is something that we want to do I add it to my list to work on. Last week I was about to cross off 6 things from my list but ended up adding 10 more. This is not the way you complete a to do list…There are a lot of technology challenges currently with the way things are set up and it creates a lot of roadblocks to automating tasks. I’m a macro/automation junkie and I’m having a hard time when I need to manually do a task that will take me several hours if not several days. On top of these challenges I’ve been slightly distracted at work last week, making sure that I bump my recruitment posts every hour. I’m definitely not doing that this week since we seem to be in a great position with guild/community recruitment. We have a general interest meeting next week that will give us a better idea as to number of players that actually want to do the large group content in the game.
The state of my house has been suffering a bit from last week’s video game binge. We got take out for dinner more than usual, we almost exclusively used paper plates and the clean laundry has been living in a pile on the couch for the past few days. At least I’ve been keeping on top of dishes, which I cannot neglect or we will soon have an ant problem. My house is only moderately messy, thanks to my cleaning spree in preparation for the gaming that we planned to do. Also my two year old need some more outdoor time this next weekend. We normally go to the pool, but this past weekend it was cold and rainy and I think she got a little cabin fever from too much sitting around. This weekend ACTIVITIES WILL BE HAD! I’m making it a point to not be gaming while my daughter is awake during the week. That few hours that we get to spend together during the day is precious and requires my full attention.