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.

Method gets world first G’huun in Uldir

Method has not been shy about showing their progress to the world as they work on the final boss of Uldir.  This is an unusual move for a high profile guild since most opt for secrecy when working on their own world rankings. Many of Method’s raid team have been dominating the top stream spots for World of Warcraft for the past week.  At current tally Method streamers are responsible for 78% of the all of the World of Warcraft viewership today on twitch.tv.   After following their progress It is apparent that the production value of their content is incredibly high and is reminiscent of the Olympics coverage on NBC.

They are being supported by Discord, Wowhead, Redbull and many other mainstream companies throughout their up to 16 hour days spent throwing themselves at the bosses of Uldir.  We’ve seen an outpouring of support for the raid team through twitch subscriptions, and over $3000 in contributions and not to mention the branded merchandise that they are selling on Method.gg

I only point this all out because I think it makes a lot of business sense the way that they did things and managed to win the day! They gave us a reason to be excited about WoW by including the masses when most guilds would have shut us out. The only sad part is that now that the top spot is taken we won’t be seeing as much excitement around the race. I’m already looking forward to next tier 😂😂😂😂

Great job to everyone involved with the race, the raiders of Method, the hosts, production crew and everyone that made this amazing show possible.

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.

 

MMOs, old Guilds and Intense Nostalgia

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.

Mage Consumables for Raiding in BFA

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.

flas of endless Fathoms

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 rune

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.

Companion apps are awesome

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.

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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!?

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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.

 

Logging in to Game Server

Oh Azeroth, how I miss thee.  Today was the day!  Months of anticipation all lead to the start of a new war…the Battle for Azeroth.  The night before I sharppened my sword, polished my plate male and packed up my Goblin Glider Kits.  I was ready.

There a lot of reasons to be on a high population server.  There are always people to play with and you get a really big pool of players who want to do the raid content, which is what we tend to focus on.  When your server is know for being the home of 5 guilds that are in the top 100 in the world, that’s a big draw for people.  I know when I’m looking for a server I want to have lots of options for guild prospects.

Of course there are drawbacks to being on a high pop server.  If there is going to be issues with log in queue or server stability, odds are it will hit the high population servers first.  This is exactly what I faced last night as I watched the hours tick by looking at this screen.  Oh how I hate this screen…

Logging into game
Watching the clock tick by while my games decides if it wants to log in.

I sat there, just waiting for my time to charge into battle and catch up with my friends who were lucky enough to be on a stable server and enjoying their BFA launch experience.

realm list
This screen is such a tease. You think you’re almost in…only to be completely disconnected 5 minutes later.

Sometimes I would get a little bit further and I would just be disappointed.   It was nearly 9pm before I could log in.  Some of my friends couldn’t log in for the first 6 hours of the new expansion.  I got a whopping 2 hours to play before it was time for bed.  Tomorrow is a new day!  I’ll be hitting the leveling hard.