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February 2010

Friday Five: Patch 3.3.3 Edition

  1. New Pets! Celestial Dragon, and reskinned rocket bot and racer pets for sell from the toy shop too.
  2. Jewelcrafting now with fewer chalcedonys needed for dailies!
  3. Overcloaks so you can stay classy and cover your assets while not having to look at your super awesome stats tablecloth looking cloaks.
  4. Cloth and Titansteel cooldowns are going away.
  5. Lazy fisherpeople such as myself will now be able to find severed arms within the confines of Dalaran, giving us yet another thing we can do while waiting for raid invites.

Of course, the highlight of my week was my new windrider cub. whoo hoo! What made your week? And what are you looking forward to in Patch 3.3.3?

Happy Friday!


Raider Performance Evaluations

At work, we just completed our annual review cycle. Contrary to popular P.O.V., I actually somewhat look forward to my annual review, because I appreciate getting an outside perspective on where my strengths are, and where I need to focus on improvement. And it’s really cool, since we solicit input from colleagues, to hear from the folks that work with you day in and day out how you impact their work.

Going through this process led me to start thinking about ongoing raid team evaluations, and how that could work. In a perfect world, I would be able to click on my name in a World of Logs/WoW Meter Online report, and come to my own personalized dashboard. In addition to it showing me how I did on that night’s fights, it would have a homepage that would chart, over time, how I am doing overall in my role over time, as well as allowing me to drill down on a boss-by-boss basis to evaluate my progress. Unfortunately, unless you have a player who’s ranked in the top 200 for their spec on that fight, you don’t really get to see that sort of data on WoL.

I did find some of that historical data on WMO, available on a raid and individual level by boss basis. It’s still not going to help track how you are doing on boss fights you are working on (it only shows boss kills) and its graph plot line is a little wonky, but it’s at least a step in the right direction. It can at least show you the highs and lows of any individual player’s attempts versus this boss.

I’m wondering how other guilds track performance over time, or if in fact they do. If yours does, let me know how they do it.


What if Vote to Kick Was Part of the Guild Interface?

Yesterday, while idly daydreaming about Cataclysm guild features, a funny idea popped into my head. What if the Vote to Kick system Blizzard put in place for 5-mans was somehow implemented into the new Guild management interface?

Now before you say "Anexxia has lost her marbles!" I could see it working a couple of ways...

Guild Member-Initiated Vote to Kick

I think we have all at one time or another, watched a hacked guildie's characters silently log on and rob the guild bank dry. Or have been offended by a guildie trolling trade chat, making everyone who wore your guild name plate look bad. Inevitably, these things happen when there aren't any officers on to help deflect the drama.

What if in such a situation, a guild member could initiate a guild kick vote? And if it passed (i.e. the majority of those members on at any given time said yes, or whatever threshold your GM set it at), said member would be demoted to a no-bank access and no gchat capability guild status level, and the next time an Officer logged in, they would have a blinking guild management icon alerting them they needed to read what happened and decide the guildie's fate?

Sure, in my guild, this could mean certain long-time members would probably, for lulz, be demoted on a recurring basis. But overall, it could save Blizz GMs some ticket time, and save many guilds some drama. And if you were lucky, if it was a case of someone behaving inappropriately, it would give the person some time to think about if it is necessary for them to be in a guild that is OK with whatever the behavior was, or if it may be time to be a better WoW citizen and knock it off to retain their place in your guild.

Guild Officer Quorum Required for Gkicks

One of the reat things about having a number of Officers in your guild is it increases the chances that someone will be on to catch a hacked account and boot them out of the guild until the issue is resolved. But one of the bad things is sometimes an Officer has a bad day. Or sometimes two Officers don't see eye to eye on an issue. And sometimes an Officer goes batshit and kicks someone out of the guild for spurious reasons.

Having seen, in my very first WoW guild, a petulant Officer boot out a fellow Officer for disagreeing with them (no, seriously) about something trivial, or making a joke they didn't like (it was truly so insignificant that I can barely remember the what) I can see what happens when the gkick command is used in error. I recall giving that Officer a piece of my mind and then typing /gquit. As did another Officer and several other members. Within the week, that hothead Officer had quit as well and the guild was all but dissolved.

In a diverse guild, with a number of Officers, requiring an Officers quorum before kicking out a member of a certain rank or higher could avoid such drama. As Officers logged in, they would see a flashy Guild management icon indicating they needed to take action on the issue. Once the vote reached a majority saying yay or nay, the kick would either happen or the vote request would close down and go away.

I doubt Blizzard would ever add this to the new Guild management interface (whatever that may be.) But it certainly gave me some daydream fodder, thinking about what the interface could possibly do, given the right tools.


Nothing Says "Happy Anniversary!" Like a Chopper

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Today is our six year anniversary. Since tonight's a raid night and Monday is always one of the toughest work days of the week, we celebrated with a fabulous dinner out last night. So, in the spirit of celebrating a day early, I gave my guy his anniversary gift in game a day early: his very own Chopper.

It was a little less than a year ago that he finally got his first chopper made, on his gnome warlock. The same day he made mine if memory serves. I remember us saving gold up and counting our coppers from every auction that came in as we worked towards the goal of getting to make them. I want to say he got maybe a few weeks use out of it before I made the decision to make my horde main my primary WoW time focus, turning the page on three years of Alliance raiding and fun that felt increasingly stale for me by that point.

Once it was clear my heart was set on playing horde, he rolled his DK, Guld, on my new server. And the rest is history. It took me a year to save up, and took a sneaky guildie accomplice to craft it for me last weekend. It makes me happy we can now be our own little motorcycle gang of two again. Riding around Dalaran and raising hell.

RAWR!


Personal Accountability: A Raider's Checklist

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It's really easy to be that guy who posts a complaint in your guild's forums about how everyone did a crappy job last night in the raid. Or to start pointing fingers via raid chat and vent when things start to go south. But regardless of how thoughtful or valid your criticism may be, if you're not doing everything you personally can to help your raid be successful, your comments are going to fall on deaf ears. Because if you don't demonstrate personal accountability, frankly, no one is going to listen to your point of you.

What is personal accountability?

Personal accountability in a raiding setting can be roughly defined as being aware of how your personal actions and decisions contributes to the overall success or failure of the raid. That's right, YOU. Regardless of what your raid role is. Your choices and actions affected the outcome of that last raid in which you participated. Not just what everybody else did.

When tempted to start diagnosing the causes of a less than spectacular raiding night, you need to start with looking at yourself, and answering these questions:

Did I come to this raid prepared?
  • Did I read the strats/watch a video of the fights with which I am less familiar?
  • Was I online, gear repaired, with all my reagents/consumables, en route to or already at the raid location at invite time?
  • Did I ensure my significant other/parent/dog understood I was going to be unavailable to them for the course of the raid time, and was OK with me spending the entire raid time online, not tending to them?
  • If I know in advance that I can not stay through the end of the raid for some unavoidable reason (think called in to work, not buddy called and wants to go grab some beers), did I tell the raid leader beforehand so I could be replaced either for the whole raid or the portion I can not attend, or better yet did I line up my own replacement?
Now that I'm at the raid, am I focused on the task at hand?
  • Did I turn off IM, minimize the Farmville, turn off the TV so I can pay attention to the raid?
  • Am I listening to Vent/TeamSpeek at a reasonable volume so I can hear anything my raid leader is trying to tell me?
  • Have I turned off any downloads/backups/console Internet connections that might cause me to lag horribly or DC?

Am I correctly performing the role I am assigned?

  • Did I switch targets when the raid leader asked me to do so, or did I stay on the boss or AOE instead?
  • Did I get in your fair share of interrupts/dispells/cleanses? Or did someone else on the team get stuck doing all that heavy lifting?
  • If I was asked, for the good of the raid, to swap into my off spec, did I do so pleasantly, or did I grumble/whine/complain/threaten to log off and hold up the raid for 10 minutes while arguing that someone else should have to swap roles and not me?
  • If someone else had the same job assigned, did I perform roughly the same as they did?
  • Did I die in a pool of slime, or in a fire, or in some other place I should not have been standing?
  • Did I die from pulling aggro off the boss?
  • Was I the first to die in every fight, due to some sort of avoidable issue/mechanic?

Am I playing my class to the best of its potential?

  • Is all my gear properly enchanted and gemmed?
  • Do I roughly understand the stat weightings for my gems and enchants, to evaluate which gem/enchant is better?
  • Is my main spec gear appropriate? i.e. I am not trying to heal in hit gear, or tank in DPS gear, or DPSing in PvP gear.
  • Do I know what a good solid rotation is that makes the most of my special abilities and cooldowns?
  • If there is someone else in the raid with my same spec, am I performing roughly as well as they are? If not, do I know why not? (Hint: If they are doing 2K more DPS than you, blaming their two pieces of better gear is not going to fly as a reason for that disparity)
  • If I am in a raid with someone who plays my same class/spec and they are a superstar, do I check recount and raid logs and armory or even PM them to see how I might improve my performance?

Tough Love

This is a big checklist. And from time-to-time, we're going to slip up in one of these areas, such as by not knowing, after a patch, our most effective rotation. Or maybe we forget and put on a piece of gear we got last night and didn't yet gem. These kind of goofs happen and are forgivable. But if you can't confidently check off most of these items, you are not in the best position to be offering up your unsolicited advice as to what the raid's problems are.

Because you are, in fact, one of those problems.

But the good news is, the checklist doesn't just show you potential issues, most items also include the "how to resolve the issue" portion too. No one expects their raid members to be perfect. But most folks do expect you to give a damn, and to make an effort. Addressing any gaps you have ID'd via this checklist is a great start.


Long Weekend Update Grab Bag

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Alts and Achievements

Slowly but surely, I keep pushing my alts up that leveling hill. My warlock hit the big 4-0 on Monday, which meant...PONY!! The druid actually hit 78 too, but all she got were some feral talent upgrades she'll never use.

;)

Anexxia got her Love Fool title while my shaman got started on it, and I tried to make a small dent in the Elders achievement as well. I get a little restless doing an achievement as unwieldy and far flung as the Lunar Festival with its trekking across the globe to honor the Elders. So I have combined it with outstanding area exploration and herbing. I do need to give props to Blizzard for replacing the TB Elder with Ezra Wheathoof. It was a classy touch.

Raiding

Raid-wise, we had a good attempt on Putricide in 10 (40% when most of us in the team had not seen him), and in 25 we got Festergut to 9% which far exceeds our prior attempts. It took a while to get the spore management flowing properly, and we had to suspend attempts while a raid member had an extended work-related AFK. But our final attempt showed we can do it if we get folks to show up and focus next week. It was a positive end to a week that found folks expressing frustration in our forums RE: the lack of progress in ICC over the past month.

Personally, I would, of course, like for us to progress more quickly. And I also get frustrated when folks haven't come to raids prepared (i.e. both knowing the strats and having their flasks/food.) And I understand how it can feel annoying when folks get caught up on fight mechanics that seem simple.

To be frank, given the turmoil we had earlier this month with all of our raid schedulers quitting that task, a healer and DPS giving themselves a multi-week time out from raiding and a tank and DPS leaving the guild entirely, I am happy we have tread water. And I am confident as things have stabilized that we can and WILL do better.

Furthermore, the guild's charter is to be inclusive with the raiding, which is always going to mean a slower pace. But since we don't even have a Cataclysm BETA in place, we are looking at not having another raid to conquer for what? 6 months? Thinking back to the end of BC, folks got to where they could get in BT (or not as the case may be) then defaulted to running their myriad alts through Kara. I personally ran and geared up 4 toons through there and made myself thoroughly sick of it.

We've got plenty of time to conquer the Lich King. And unlike Ulduar, which only 1 10-man in our guild completed, and only one time at that, we won't be running up against an easy loot pinata raid with better ilvl gear.

We have time to work on this and to improve. Folks just need a little patience.


Friday Five: Love is in the Air Edition

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  1. Despite the terrible lag that's made raiding -- and everything else -- a pain this week, it's small things like the love boats (seen here in Undercity but also available to visitors in Stormwind) that have made this holiday fun.
  2. Go to your faction's primary LiitA city (Orgrimarr or Ironforge) every day to get your daily (5 tokens), and turn in friendship bracelets to your faction leaders daily (20 bracelets total) to make your love tokens grind go faster.
  3. The Apothecary Trio in SFK are a blast, and are finally a holiday boss my power team couldn't easily do as a trio with my SP heals. Trying to be not bitter our only toxic wasteling drop thus far didn't make it into my pet window.
  4. This is not the week to try to do an AB. We are all there to Pity the Fool at the Blacksmith. Sorry! You can gank us as we hearth out tho.
  5. I did the candy achievements last year, but so far, it seems that everyone in my guild got their achievements with their first bag of candy/box of chocolates. So don't let last year's bad experience with it keep you from doing it this go 'round.
BONUS: I wish Blizz had made the plushie/in-game wyvern pet available for Valentine's day. Sniffle.

The Benefit of Being a Hybrid

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I have a thing for hybrids. My first character and long time main was a druid. And my primary BC alt was my shaman. And then, of course, there's my shadow priests. I guess I like to be able to pinch hit in the middle of a fight, and to have the day-to-day variety that being a hybrid allows.

I was reminded of this fact in our alt ICC this week. I got to bring my poor neglected shaman. We ran about 4 such alt runs this week since the weekly raid quest was Lord Marrowgar and thus we had a ton of interest. In our run, we ran into a few bumps along the way -- the bulk of them being in fighting the ice giant for the weekly ICC quest.

In true hybrid fashion, I started pumping out the chains of healy goodness whenever I saw things get hairy for our healers (or when we lost a healer.) Yes, this meant my DPS numbers, which had been great along the way as we cleared through lower spire, went into the toilet. But it also meant we were able in several cases to keep pushing forward instead of wiping.

I love having that utility -- to seamlessly swap between roles mid-fight to keep things rolling. But it is interesting that with few exceptions (such as a druid in our raid team who has dropped into bear on more than one occasion when a tank went down, saving us squishies from insta death) I don't see a lot of that. I see shamans insisting on putting down fire DPS totems when a totem of wrath would help the raid as a whole. Or standing and dying, DPSing, when they could easily toss a heal on themselves instead.

Yes, I feel the pain of the shadowformed priest or the Boomkin form druid who lose time and mana by popping out of their forms (I know I hate to do so except when necessary.) But it seems like for too many folks, the meter humping necessitates their never feeling there *is* a moment that warrants making an on-the-fly decision to swap their role for even a moment or two in the spirit of helping the team deal with an unexpected hurdle.

Whyfore all the meter humping? You don't do any DPS when you're dead. And no one cares how much DPS you pumped out on the boss attempts that failed. It's about the attempts where the teamwork was there, and the boss goes down. Not about how much DPS any one of us individually did. It's about how we played our role in the team as a whole. That MM part of the MMORPG.


Friday Five: Weekend To Do List Edition

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  1. Kick Mimiron's butt in hard mode, then mosey on over to Algalon to do the same.
  2. Clean out everyone's bank and carry-around bags, freeing up bag space for Love is in the Air.
  3. Figure out which characters need what for the Fool for Love Meta-achievement (last year I focused on thi for my Alliance characters, plus I have 2 new alts created since then.
  4. Try to find time to do the RDH on my 3 horde 80s and squeeze in lowbie randoms on my alts as well. Need moar badges!
  5. Keep slowly but surely leveling on the alts, playing through rested XP then letting them rest.
What are your plans this weekend? Excited about the holiday starting on Sunday? I've been hearing from a few guildies who are bah humbug! about it...

Gathering That Primordial Saronite

My SO was honored to be announced as the raid member who would get to complete the Shadowmourne quest line. After the shiny happy feeling wore off, we had to turn our attention to the obvious: where the heck would we get all that primordial saronite?

There are three primary places to obtain your saronite:

  • From your guild, who obtains them through random boss drops in ICC 25 (random as in some night every other boss drops them another night you get zero)
  • Buying them with 23 frost emblems a piece from the frost emblem vendor
  • Purchasing them in the auction house

We'd already been in the thinking about our saronite acquisition strategies due to the many shiny crafted pieces that 3.3 brought with it. I made myself the boots a few weeks ago, in fact. Our strategy has been as follows:

  • Purchasing them in the auction house when they are up for 2k or less (i.e. there goes the SO's mechanohog fund)
  • Pimping out the alts and making them gather emblems for us:
    • (3 for me and 3 for him) they can make 2 frost emblems per day doing a random daily heroic, plus 5 per week doing the weekly raid quest
    • Pushing those close to 80 alts to 80 to make them badge farm for us as well
It will take a little bit of time, but we don't need them all until we get our upper spire 25-man kills, so we're doing pretty well already. I've personally cranked up my crafting a bit to make some cash as well. Bringing in the saronite takes some time, but it's not nearly s horrible as you might imagine. Wish us luck!

Keeping it to Yourself: Lich King Edition

I've previously made the case for keeping Patch 3.3 Spoiler Free. And I have been happy to have kept myself in the cone of silence until I was able to see things for myself. But yesterday's buzz over the data mining of the Lich King cinematic makes it a good time to revisit the topic.

As soon as I started seeing the twitter buzz, I made my plea:

internets plz 2b keeping your lich king spoilers clearly marked so peeps don't get spoiled not by choice.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Re-Tweeted a few times. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to experience Arthas 1st hand when we eventually get to him. I wouldn't have watched a Sephiroth FFVII spoiler back in the day either. I don't shake my Christmas presents to try to guess what they might be. I don't read the final page of a novel first. I do like for a few things to be in the moment surprises.

First of all a big THANK YOU! to MMO Champion and WoW Insider for keeping their article headlines, which show up on feed readers all around the Web, clearly marked as containing spoilers inside, and not hinting at what they might entail.

I can totally understand the curiosity about what's going to happen next, and that some folks want to know now. I don't care if others ant the spoilers; I just hate when I get them not by choice. I'd like to think folks don't purposefully spoil stuff for others, rather that they get caught up and spill the beans. But the same way you wouldn't blab the ending of a new movie or the seasonal finale of LOST this year if you are on the East Coast to everyone, if you choose to read the spoilers, please think twice before sharing them some place the unwary can't avoid them.

GOOD: Behind an LJ Cut, behind a blog cut tag with lots of SPOILER! copy around it. BAD: On twitter, in guild chat, in various and sundry WoW chat channels. MARVELOUS: the #wrongspoilers the tweeps I follow were posting last night. Not only did a number of them make me LOL, they'll be sure to confound google real time search as well. mwahaha.

Happy Adventuring and thanks everyone for keeping this patch as spoiler-free as you have.