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.

A Tale of Two Guilds

I hadn’t been looking for a merger but one seemed to find me. Our guild was doing well making steady progress through the game, killing a few new bosses with each week that passed. My officer and I were hard at work tapping into a health pool of eager raiders. Since heroic raids both were cross-server and flexible in size. We were able to bring in player without too much investment. Many years ago a player could only play with a guild if they were all on the same server. This meant that in order to even get a shot at raiding you had to shell out $25 to move your character to a new server. Time have changed and the barriers that once kept us apart have evaporated…unless you want to do the hardest content. We are close to completing the heroic difficulty of Uldir which would mean we are ready to start those super hardcore mythic raids that only 1% of players experience. We want to get there but we have a logistics challenge – we need more players. Unlike the heroic version of Uldir which scales up and down between 10 and 30 players, the mythic raids are for 20 players and 20 players only. We are a bit short of the mark and my officer and I have been pounding the internet pavement looking for those perfect players for our guild.

When we started building up our roster I talked about how one way to get a big influx of players was to merge with another guild. Merging is a scary thing. You work hard to build up the type of community and culture that you want and if you look to combine forces with another group there are usually sacrifices that need to be made. One of the big questions that is usually at the forefront is “who will be the guild leader?” Back when my guild was struggling in Wildstar we looked to merge with another guild who wanted to retain absolute control and make me an officer. This was a deal breaker for us and something that the other guild was unwilling to compromise on so we ended up not merging.

We have in the past absorbed some struggling guilds and found these type of transactions benefit us greatly.

This merger was messy, as combining 2 groups usually is. There were some people pushed out and a few pushed up. The greatest circumstance that the leadership of the absorbed guild was that the day before we agreed to bring in the tank to trial, one of our current and I would consider him our “main” tank decided that he didn’t want to raid anymore. This left a vacuum in the tank positions that were then able to be filled by the two tanks from the merger.

Tanks are such a crucial position on a guild. Consider them the leaders in their own right. They control the big epic boss battles from start to finish. Ideally you want someone who can be there 100% of the time, can follow instructions and can communicate clearly both expected changes and changes that need to be made on the fly. There is a lot of coordination between tanks so having a pair that can work well together is also crucial. If you have two people that are forced to be partnered on a project and they dislike each other that will cause your guild nothing but problems.

SSC and Guild Drama

Today I wanted to share an old story about my guild.  At the time these events were very upsetting for all of us. I was a holy priest raiding in Dies Irae which was one of my very first guilds in WoW and we held the #2 spot on the server in terms of progression.  When you are not quite the best but still have a lot of great players, it makes you a target for sniping members and attacks on your team’s moral.  I will tell you the story from our perspective, since this reporter didn’t seek out quotes from both guilds involved and the only quote used was a whisper of a guild member that was not representative of our guild as a whole.

So here is the story from our perspective:  Clockwise was a guild lead by the brother of a Nightmares Asylum member who started a Karazhan pug with around 3 people from Clockwise and at least 3 from Dies Irae.  They killed a couple of the early bosses in the raid instance and then the pug raid ended.  Using the general pug rules, a couple guys from Dies Irae who were part of the pug decided to continue the pug raid.  Later that night the Clockwise guys started another group to continue the raid as well.  When they attempted to zone in, they could not since there was the max amount of player in the raid for that specific raid ID.  Of course the perceived “stealing” of the raid ID was not done intentionally or with malice.  And I’m sure you can decide for yourself if the raid belongs to only the raid leader?  Or does it belong to each and every person who participated?  I’ll let you decide.  I can’t say what was said between the Clockwise member and my guildie because I can’t view their whisper history but it sounded like the Clockwise leader was flipping out and because of his attitude, the players that were already in the raid decided to just continue and finish the raid.

At this point in time raids were assigned a unique ID number which locked you to the progress of the players that are saved.  If you were saved to different raid IDs you could not play together.  This feature has since been been changed to allow any player to join and leave any raid that they wish.

What happened next was a bizarre turn for our guild.  We were working on the last boss in SSC and before our scheduled raid time, Nightmares Asylum created a raid group and whispered one of our raiders to help summon someone.  Him being a nice guy said “sure invite” when he was expecting to join a party of 2 or 3 players he instead saw a full raid group and was promoted to leader which allowed Nightmares Asylum to zone in under our raid ID.  They went on to kill the boss that we were working on.  It was a shitty thing to do and I’m still mad about it ten years later.

I wanted to save the contents of this post just in case it ever gets purged, the original post can be found here.

DI Vashj

Today’s story comes from the realm of Smolderthorn, home of one of the U.S.’s top Horde guilds, Nightmares Asylum (obligatory note: Blizzard apparently doesn’t let you use apostrophes in guild names.)

Our tale begins in Karazhan this weekend, where the guild Clockwise was just learning the instance. They didn’t have enough people for a full group, so they invited in some puggers to help them down some bosses. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to kill too many bosses, so they left half of the instance for the next day. One of their puggers, who was a member of the medium-level guild Dies Irae, invited in some of his guildmates’ alts to clear the rest. Dies Irae claimed they didn’t know it was another guild’s instance at first, but only decided to kill Prince after Clockwise’s guild leader got angry at them and told them to get the bleep out. Whatever the cause, no one disputes that it ended with Dies Irae’s alts clearing Karazhan on Clockwise’s raid ID.

Now it gets interesting. Apparently Nightmares Asylum decided it was time to stand up for the little guy and get Dies Irae back. So Monday night, they asked one of Dies Irae’s members to help them on a quest. Suddenly, the DI member was promoted to leader and kicked out of the group as Nightmares Asylum members ran inside their Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern instances. (SSC, by the way, was completely clear except for Lady Vashj, who Dies Irae was planning on working on — Nightmares Asylum apparently no longer runs SSC.) Nightmares Asylum then proceeded to kill Vashj, made a screenshot of her dead with their raid members forming the letters DI, and — this is the best part — tracked down various Dies Irae members and disenchanted the Vashj loot they would have gotten in front of them. Man, I feel bad for that rogue who watched the Fang of Vashj dissolve. DI claimed not to care, since it “gave them another day to PVP”, but the attempts to report Nightmares Asylum say otherwise.

So who’s in the wrong here? We don’t know the full situation, but both sides have given their account. Dies Irae says they didn’t intentionally steal the Kara ID and only cleared it after being provoked by the other guild’s leader, while Nightmares Asylum was malicious in their thievery. Nightmares Asylum defends their actions as karma and standing up for the little guy, and it’s pretty obvious they didn’t do it to get the phat loots. Ethically, they’re both probably wrong, since stealing raid IDs is pretty nasty, but I can’t help but feel a soft spot for Nightmares Asylum after this. They may have done a vicious, petty thing, but they did it with style.

What do you think about this situation? Should there be a way to remedy the “stealing” of raid IDs, or should people just be careful who they accept raid invites from?

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.

 

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.

Mythic dungeons and why your ilvl is never high enough

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 😀