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June 2009

Baby Dr00ds

What's a girl to do when she's abandoned all her alliance-side alts? Why, reroll them horde-side of course.

I'd gotten a start on a new mage and shaman, and recently rolled a baby druid. And I was lucky enough to have a friend roll one right along with me. Baby Druids x2 = win for leveling!

While chatting about WoW and foodie stuffs, we sailed through Barrens collection quests and gained 3 levels -- bringing us up to 15. Not bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon.


What to Wear: A Shadow Priest's Guide to 25-man Ulduar

On the heels of my 10-man guide to shadow priest gear upgrades available in Ulduar, I bring you this heroic 25-man version. (it's going to be hard to retrain myself on that one.)

As previously noted, I'm not a math geek so I am not going to argue BiS (best in Slot) with the maths here. Rather, I am going to discuss your gearing up opportunities by boss, to help you prep your wish list. If you want to see BiS across all available 10-man and 25-man raids, including Ulduar hard mode boss drops, shadowpriest.com has an excellent list. With more math than you can shake a stick at.

Words of Caution: Much of the Ulduar loot lacks hit. So don't be quick to shard or sell your existing gear when you receive an upgrade. You may have to swap gear around for raids to ensure you stay hit capped.

Your boss-by-boss gear guide, after the jump.

Continue reading "What to Wear: A Shadow Priest's Guide to 25-man Ulduar" »


The Right Tools for the Job: Raiding Evaluations

How does your guild decide that they are ready to move on to a new instance? It seems as though many guilds do it by a popular demand or peer pressure route -- you know what I mean. By giving in when enough voices complain about being sick and tired for doing whatever your current raid instance is. We've all been there and done that.

Sometimes the voice of the guild is on target -- but other times you have folks "sick of" an instance you've cleared three times. And that makes it highly likely your guild actually isn't ready to move from a gear perspective. Rather than getting sucked into a round of my opinion is better than your opinion, there are some tools to help you objectively determine what your guild is ready to tackle -- and who should be your first picks for the new raid's slots.

Making the Assessment

Your first stop for assessing your guild's readiness to move on should be WoW Heroes. Many guilds use a personal WoW Heroes score as a guideline for being ready for a specific instance. But it can do more than that-- it can provide a snapshot of your entire guild's readiness. Here's an example from my guild:

WoWHeroes_Example1

From this overview, it should be pretty clear we are a casual guild with occasional raiding. We have a few folks who clearly have done some out of guild raiding. The bulk of the top 10 geared players can all use items from Malygos and 25-man Naxx and OS, but are able to start on 10-man Ulduar. Pretty good for a casual guild!

The next 10 players need to be signing up for Naxx 10 runs and getting their toes wet in some raids before thinking about heading off to Ulduar. It should be noted, however, that when you take a snapshot of the guild matters. If your bear tank is playing around in BOOMkin form their score is likely going to be lower. Also, you may notice some of your key players are missing when you do your first snapshot. This is easily fixed by going to the character tab and bringing up their character, choosing to pull live data from the armory. The next time you pull your guild results, you will see them there.

Individual Room for Improvements

After you've made the leap and decided to move on to new content, how do you handle the outliers who want to come but aren't quite ready from a gear perspective? Although some lazy raid leaders may just decide to drag those folks through the new content -- despite potentially burning out the players who are ready for it -- that is not your only option.

Individual raiders can start to assess their overall gear readiness by using Be IMBA. When looking up a character here, you get back a report that includes enchants that can be upgraded, missing gems (or ones that skip them socket bonus), and an overall gear score that shows where the character can pick up gear upgrades. If the character has a more common talent distribution it will also evaluate the spec. Here's  an example:

BeIMBA

Things to look for when evaluating:

  • How close are they to their hit cap?
  • Is there a reason for missing their socket bonuses?
  • Are there any missing enchants? Any inappropriate or significantly downgraded enchants?

As you can see from my BeIMBA report, I've chosen to skip over two of my socket bonuses to maintain my META gem requirements in one case, and because I didn't care about the spirit bonus in the other. Every gear upgrade becomes the great shuffle of the gems...You can also see I haven't shelled out the additional 4 Abyss crystals for the best enchant possible for my robe because frankly, I spent too much cash on enchanting mats the week I got it. And I am missing 7 spell hit from cap, which I could address with food or an enchant if it were significant enough to do so. I am putting both on my to do list.

My one quibble with BeIMBA is it can have some issues with hybrid classes. The suggestion I should have mana restoration over super stats as an enchant is a good example of this. My shadow priest doesn't run out of mana, so that would be a wasted enchant even though it would raise my BeIMBA score.

After digesting the Be IMBA report, the next stop should be WoW Heroes. Choose a player of the same class/spec and see how the character stacks up. Ideally, you want to pick a player you know who is slightly more progressed or your guild's best in class player to see where you might have room to improve.

WoWHeroes2

I picked a shadow priest I've run with a good amount as a point of comparison. He's in a more progressed guild but we have roughly equivalent gear, and substantially different stats. Where I've made sure to get close to the hit cap with gear and made up for it with spellpower gems, he's stacked crit gems. And as an enchanter he gets a leg up on the spellpower with two ring enchants. As we move through the WoW Heroes report we can see how this plays out.

WoW_Heroes3

In the end, he has a smidge more spellpower, and 3% more crit. His haste is 50% more than mine, while his MP5 while casting is about 1/3 less than mine. Two different approaches to the same spec. When the rubber hits the road, I've typically come out significantly ahead of him on the meters, even when less well geared. I chalk that up to his not being hit capped, which we have had lengthy discussions over. He weights haste and crit at the expense of hit, which makes his trash numbers look good and his boss numbers not as sexy. 

Reviewing his character sheet does give me the thought that I could be less stubborn and pick up that crit socket bonus on my pants by moving over a purple gem to my red socket and adding in a smooth autumn's glow to the yellow socket.

If you were a raid leader, looking at our two sheets, you would probably find us to be interchangeable, which I would agree with on the whole. The only way to get a more informed picture at this point would be to review WoW Web Stats/World of Logs / Wow Metre Online files from your most recent raids. Many other folks have gone into the finer points of dissecting each of those reports so I won't go into that here.

When reviewing your raid logs, you want to see that:

  • The spread between your top 3 damage dealers and your bottom damage dealers is not too significant. If your top DPS did 50% more damage overall than your bottom DPSers, there's a problem.
  • Likewise for your healers -- you want overall healing to be within a few % points of each other.
  • Look at the who healed whom charts -- does it stack up against the healing assignments, or did someone only heal the main tank/their best friends instead of the ranged DPS they were assigned to?
  • Is there a high DPSer with low damage overall? Were they ninja AFKing or splatted on the floor from pulling aggro (mister itchy trigger finger mage I am looking at you)

At this point, you should have a good idea of what raid instance makes the most sense for your guild, as well as who you want as part of your team. Take a hop on over to World of Matticus for some ideas on how to additionally apply some raid rules to ensure your next raiding adventure gets off on the right foot, with clearly defined expecations.

Happy Raiding!


Attack of the Absentee Raiders

Ah, Summertime! A time for sunny days and guild members who couldn't be bothered to sign up for anything in the last 3 months to come out of the woodwork clamoring for Ulduar slots.

It's especially vexing to raiders who toughed it out when the absentee raiders return. Does the guildie who didn't bother to show up for the last 2 raids she signed up for really think she deserves a spot in Ulduar over anyone else? Does the tank who ninja AFKs and leaves a raid full of people standing around twiddling their thumbs for 20 minutes really think he is the best choice for leading a progression raid?

You would be surprised out how out of touch some folks can be with reality.

Identifying the Bad Apples

An excellent example of this is a raider in my most recent 25-man Ulduar. We will call this person "Failpally", or Fail for short. Due to our regular healers having gone POOF!, we took Fail with us on a progression night despite having never run with her. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It quickly became clear that despite Fail having some pretty solid gear, she had clearly been carried through content. How could we tell? It was pretty easy:

  • Doesn't do their class job. We had two pallies in the raid. The primary pally kept up devotion aura and applied Kings to the raid. We did not have a second aura or pally buff until and unless the raid leader and other members asked Fail repeatedly in vent and in raid chat to have this addressed. If no one reminded Fail, we got nada.
  • Doesn't complete requested raid tasks. Even when Fail did toss out some buffs, she couldn't be bothered to buff the priests with wisdom. After one wipe, she had to be asked verbally by the raid leader twice to do so. In addition to being asked by the priests and other raid members to do so as her buff was all we were waiting for to pull.
  • Does not display common courtesy and respect to other players. Fail never ran back after a wipe. Not when told to do so directly, or when the entire raid was told to run back and get situated. When asked directly why she was not running back when everyone else was, she replied "Because then I can't get snacks."
  • Resistant to changing behavior in the face of constructive criticism. These were not isolated incidents. This rinsed and repeated throughout the raid. It's OK to not know what is expected of you once. But if you do not show any ability to learn, or even to carry out raid instructions, why would you expect to be kept in a group or ever invited back again?

Thanks in part to Fail pally, who additionally eeked out a mere 900HPS, the raid was scrapped that night after a few mostly unsuccessful  hours.

It is hard to know if Fail was an absentee raider, returned after long absence and not back into the groove, or if Fail was a guild princess used to being brought along and coasting through raids. Regardless, neither type is one you want in your raids.

Absentee players may show up for a couple nights of raids, and scoop up loot they want, but that loot is not going to be put to good use in your raids. These hit-and-run raiders inevitable tire of raiding at about the point you hit a progression block and are not seen or heard from again until the next new content is patched in.

Your loyal steady raiders, if they have been around the block a few times, may refuse to heal absentee players in the hopes that their repeated dying in a fire will hasten them back to their not logged in for 2 months status. Yes, it's passive aggressive, but they are fighting fire with fire. It's best, however, if things don't come to this.

How to Weed Out the Bad Apples Before They Ruin Your Raid

  • If you have the luxury of more players than raid spots, consider implementing an activity-based priority for raid spots. Those players who have X% raid attendance have priority for raid slots.
  • Use WoW Heroes or BeIMBA as a starting point. Be aware, however, how much of their gear was earned through raid sweat versus how much was bought from the AH/crafted by their more progressed buddies.
  • Consider implementing a raider designation of some sort. After a month of inactivity, move players out of this rank.
  • Be sure any DKP or Suicide Kings loot system involves decay from inactivity. You may not think this is necessary, but the first time you have a 6-month absentee raider scoop up your first tier chest their first (and only) night back after weeks of your hard work, then you will see why this is necessary.
  • When you need to PUG a tank or healer raid spot, be sure the person suggesting the PUG-ee has actually raided with the person before. Their gchat buddy may be a hoot, but that doesn't mean they know their class or play nice with others.

No-Raid Tuesdays

This morning, I reflected upon one of the things I am most grateful for in my raiding life: we don't raid on Tuesdays.

My 40- and 25-man raiding guilds all insisted on keeping up Tuesday night raids even in the face of serious patches. I have not especially fond memories of standing around in front of the Eye for 90 minutes watching folks DC, log off and on replacing mods only to go in and have everyone get stuck in the instance. Oh yeah, fun times...except not.

Do yourself a favor raid schedulers: just say no to Tuesday night raids! Yes, some weeks there isn't extended maintenance let alone a patch. But think of all the angst you will save yourself on the nights there *is* one or both of these server terrors unleashed.

Tonight/this afternoon, at least we have the The Sims 3 launch. Oh yeah, baby. I am definitely going to be trying to push the character customization tools to replicate my Forsaken priest.


World of Logs Explained

Not by me, but by Kadomi.

Looks like my Firefox seemed to block my ability to see some of its tabs etc., hence my being vexed when I would try to see more details. Now I have homework tonight of going to look at our most recent log through WoL and see if I can follow her well-documented point-and-clicks.

Personally, I still like good old fashioned WWS or WoW  Metre for giving an overview of how *all* the dps or healers did against each other and their classes. But World of Logs can be another tool in your arsenal of figuring out the good/bad/ugly of your most recent raiding attempts.