QQ

The Raid Boss Doesn't Care if You're Not a Raiding Guild

Standing victorious where the Council of Elders previously held court

"But we're not a raiding guild."

That little phrase has been the spark for numerous arguments in the various guilds I've been a part of in my eight years of playing WoW.

Inevitably, it's uttered on the heels of a night of working on a progression boss. A night that has ended up in repair bills. Or even one with a boss kill on the last attempt of the night. It is tossed about with mentions of how raiding used to be fun. And people are taking things too seriously. And how could you have shushed me in the middle of that attempt when I was telling that funny story about what I did over the weekend?

But here's the cold hard truth: the raid boss doesn't care that you're "not a raiding guild." If you and your team want to be taking down new content, at level, while it's still the top-of-the-line tier of instance, you are going to have to take it seriously.

You WILL do better if you have a static team instead of switching players in and out each raid night. Players WILL have to use consumables and ensure they keep themselves gemmed and enchanted to the best items available to them. And your raid leader WILL need to decide upon and coach the team through a winning strategy.

Otherwise, you'll keep hitting your head against the same boss over and over without making progress.

If you want to faceroll content while doing tequila shots, set up a retro raiding night and hit up content from expansions past. Retro raids are a great opportunity to casually play while getting to know guildies and garnering a last few sought after achievements. But it's unrealistic to expect to have a voice chat free-for-all chat fest while taking down new to you content. It takes time and dedication to make progress. And that's not a bad thing.

And that's my 2 copper.


Has the Tyranny of BOA Gear Ruined Alt Leveling Dungeons?

Need moar boomkins on dragons!

Philosophically, I am neither for nor against BOA gear for your alts. I have a few caster pieces, scattered across the three servers upon which I actively play. At best, on one server, I have head, shoulders, chest and cloak. On another I have weapon, chest and shoulders. Amassing a collection of alt BOAs has just not been a priority for me. I've put my badges/points to other uses over the years. But it feels like I'm in the minority on that, at least amongst the leveling dungeon crowd.

Frequently, I've been in dungeons with people sporting a full set of BOA gear, down to two trinkets. That's fine by me. Should mean more gear for my alts who are relying on dungeon drops to improve as they go. You see, I'm a firm believer in having my alts wear what they can make or they earn from quests and dungeons. I just don't spend gobs of cash on my alts' leveling gear.

In years past, this approach has gone unnoticed/unremarked. But in the past month, I've been on the receiving end of meter spamming, vulgar comments, and being called a bad for my characters in leveling dungeons not being tricked out. Yes, I'm serious: I've been called a Bad for not having optimized my gear in leveling dungeons.

The most annoying was in the level 80-85 grind. Therein were positively the worst LFD people I've encountered thus far. Until that group I couldn't fathom why people would drop group mid pull. Which is exactly what I did after I tired of the vulgar comments coming from the three wretched guildies who apparently trolled LFD to show everyone else how leet they were in their full sets of BOA gear and how fail everyone else is if they don't have it.

It's interesting to me, as someone who has spent most of her WoW time historically focused on raiding to encounter ruthless elitism amongst people leveling alts. Even when I was one of only three druids on my server, at the time, who had a full set of T2 gear, I was never compelled to go around and talk smack to other people. I was able to bask in my accomplishments and feel good about my character without putting down other people.

What is it about the current state of affairs that would compel people to become obsessed with maximizing their alts for leveling, and more importantly, to look down upon and bully others who are leveling without having that same focus? What happened to the game being whatever it is that you want to make of it? When did we get overrun by the tyranny of the BOAs?


Disappointed, But Not Surprised

these are the moments I raid for

This time last month, I wrote about waiting it out to see how our raiding schedule played out for my shadow priest horde-side. Here's how it shook out:

  • Second early start time raid night added, for a total of 4 EP earning nights per week*
  • No additional Pacific Time weeknight progression/EP earning raid night added (Note: Pacific Time was the raid time for all the Wrath raids, which was a key factor in my joining the guild circa Ulduar)
  • An incredible # of DPS signing up for every raid night, with half those signed up, on average, being sat
  • Early start time raiders also signing up for and being seated in Pacific Time raids
  • After I got sat from my only raid signup one week, the raid scheduler tweaked the signup spreadsheet in a way that will probably usually (but not always) mean that I will be seated for the 1 weeknight I can sign up for.

Over the course of the past month, I've gotten to attend 3 EP earning raids. That was my typical weekly raid count for BC and Wrath. And in Wrath, the other raid officer and I were neck and neck the entire time after EP was implemented for the most EP. i.e. if there was a raid, I was there. If there was a first kill screenshot to stand in, I was in it.

Now, I'm "a casual." And not at all by choice.What does this change for me? It means I go to raids and am killing content that other folks have already been working on for a few nights, or have killed. I have to play catch up-- learning how the raid is approaching the fight, and getting into the groove with a boss fight, well behind the learning curve. I like to lead the charge. To figure things out. To be ahead of the curve. And that's simply not what's possible for me with this schedule.

Yes, I could raid on Saturday night if the seating chart gods aligned. However, Saturday is the 1 weekend day my SO and I both have off, and we often *gasp* -- do things offline on Saturday date night. So I don't want to commit to spending my Saturday nights in a raid group. And more to the point, I don't want to not know until 24 hours beforehand if I am going to spend my Saturday night in a raid group. 24 hours notice is not enough advance time to make a dinner reservation, or buy advance movie tickets, or make plans to grab a City Carshare in this busy city of mine. It just doesn't work that way.

If it was Sunday night instead, I'd be there. And I'd totally be there for the raid nights that are early starts now -- but I have this thing called work that I do that pays the Internet and WoW subscription fees, and makes it impossible for me to be able to raid at the time I typically leave work each night.

And thus, I find myself without much of a reason to log in to my beloved shadow priest.

Because it's the raiding I love. The raiding that gets my adrenaline flowing. The raiding that I spent so much time planning for and prepping for and writing about. And now it's out of my grasp. And I am disappointed. So very disappointed.

 

*the significance here is if you receive points (EP) for time spent in raid and for killing bosses. Thus, if you are not able to attend raids, you are not earning points. If you are not earning points you will have no points to spend to buy any gear in raids. If you do not gear up in this tier of raids, you will be woefully unprepared for the next tier of raids. And so on.


Keep it Clear!

I'm torn.

You see, I really love having a good conversation amongst the raid group between pulls, or as we wait to get started. I love that. But it seems that conversational vibe often spills over into the boss fights, which truly aggravates me.

I want to hear the raid leader call out if someone needs to take action. I want to know if a healer is down and we need to battle rez them or someone needs to drop and heal.

I don't care if our lowest DPS died. I also don't want to hear that floor hugger start chit chatting about miscellany.

NEWS FLASH: the fact that you died does not mean this is a wipe or that you are now free to monopolize the vent channel.

KEEP VENT CLEAR!

Because I don't want to have to be the one who hits their push to talk to shush you.

That's all. Carry on.


On the Importance of Learning to Say "I'm sorry."

Chopper ride through Elwynn Forest

(unrelated screenshot is unrelated. my poor bank alt is cowering in fear at the Defias plaguing Elwynn, not at Cyn's driving. Honest.)

In my 4 and a half years of playing WoW, I've had a few run-ins with folks who clearly stepped over the line of common courtesy into the territory of "oh no you didn't just say that to/about me>.<"

The things said are irrelevant. Because everyone has a bad day now and then. Or says something they don't mean and immediately regret. It's what happens after you are horribly rude or offensive that matters.

The mature thing to do is to own your behavior. Take responsibility for having behaved like an ass. And simply say, "I'm sorry."

You may or may not have noticed something very important above. It's that I didn't say "I'm sorry, but..." Or "I'm sorry you were offended." That is, in fact, a very important period. If you have upset someone else, they do not want to hear your myriad justifications as to why. Your rationalizations are irrelevant. Your childhood traumas not a valid excuse.

If you want an example of how not to apologize, just look at that woman who tossed a poor friendly kitty into a recycle bin. She is a textbook example of someone "apologizing" and in fact digging themselves into a bigger hole.

Of course, in the World of Warcraft, no one is going to make you apologize if you don't want to do so. You can totally choose to piss someone off and continue on merrily as though nothing happened. But here's the whole truth of the matter: especially if your offense happened publicly, that person isn't going to forget about it.

Oh yes, I know, it's "humiliating" to apologize.  It puts you in a less powerful position than the person being apologized to. Or it makes you feel bad. Tough luck! How do you think you made the other person feel? Suck it up already -- it costs you nothing but a moment of misplaced pride to do the right thing and apologize. And it can sour your relationship with someone else permanently to be too proud to admit you messed up and to ask for forgiveness.

I've been on both ends of this spectrum. I've lost my temper and been an ass. And immediately, publicly apologized to those who bore witness to it, and to the person I put in a bad position. I've also been the wronged person, who had someone else sat from raids when they refused to apologize, and as soon as they did -- through gritted teeth-- gave them a second chance. No, we didn't become BFFs, but we did in fact become more friendly than we had been before the incident of unbridled rudeness.

I'm starting to feel old fashioned in my wanting folks to have personal accountability, be civil, and own their behavior. Don't folks teach their children any manners these days?

Hey kids! Get off my lawn! And if that ball comes into my yard, I'm keeping it!


Guild Retention Strategies

This post was written in response to a recent Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

With Patch 3.3 and the Icecrown Citadel raids and 5-man looming on the horizon, and Cataclysm still pre-BETA, guilds are likely to be in for some growing pains. Players leaving because they want to do hard modes or change mains or raid on all their characters. And then there's those folks who hadn't shown much interest in improving their playing or gearing their characters since Naxx was on the schedule who have suddenly reappeared and started to rattle their sabers about being included in ICC raids.

Although the competing agendas of your guildies may be enough to make an officer want to stick their head in the sand and wait for the Cataclysm to hit, that's not your best strategy if you want your guild to stay strong and active between now and then. The key to making that happen is:

  • make a concerted effort on the part of your leadership team to keep players engaged
  • keep guildies apprised of the road map for the content ahead
  • make an effort to reach out to guildies who might be on the fence as to their future with your guild

Keeping Players Engaged

It can feel daunting, especially if you have a large, active guild, to do a pulse check with all of your guildies to ensure they're still feeling like part of the team. But the bigger the guild, perhaps the more important that officers divide and conquer and do just that.

One way to hit up a number of guildies all at once is to put a poll up on your guild forums. Allow the guild at large to help make some decisions about how the guild will spend its time as a group once 3.3 hits.  Be sure to schedule time for low-impact fun runs and events to make sure even those who can't make as much time for raids can feel like they have a chance to participate with the guild.

Our guild fun runs through old raid content allows players not ready for prime time raids to get to know players they might not otherwise have much opportunity to play with, and gives friends of the guild an opportunity to see if they might want to jump aboard at some point.

Officers can also make a point of trying to informally check-in with one guildie per day (split them up according to class, who knows whom or whatever feels right for your guild.) Ask them what they're most looking forward to doing once 3.3 hits -- it's a topic most of us are more than happy to talk to you about.

Outlining Your 3.3 Road Map

Once you have a good idea as to what content -- and with what frequency -- your guildies want to see, define the requirements for participation then put up an activity schedule so they can plan for it, and stick with it. Spontaneously deciding to pull in your best 10 players for an extra night's shot on a new raid boss is a surefire way to lose friends and alienate guildies -- don't do it! Transparency is key if you want to keep your guildies excited about learning the new content and in your guild.

Consider planning an activity schedule that is a mix of weeknights post-work and weekend days, again, to allow for more participation. Many times you can lose good players who are highly engaged with the guild over an inability to make key raid nights. No raid schedule will make everyone happy, but it's good to do a check-in with your most engage players to see how your plans measure up to their expectations, and adjust accordingly when possible.

If you have more players interested in content than you can handle in your raids, decide how you plan to handle it. Options include cycling players in and out on a set schedule (i.e. rotating nights/weeks), recruiting to start an additional raid team, and coaching players not quite ready for prime time so they can fill out additional teams. Be sure you clearly state your sign-up policies in advance and again, stick with them, to ensure no hard feelings.

Reach Out to Players on the Fence

Much online ink has been spilled over guilds who have shockingly just lost their main tank/ lead healer/best DPS. It's typically seen as "coming out of nowhere" leaving everyone surprised and scrambling for a fix. Frankly, I don't buy it. I'm not in the first guild I joined. And when I think back to when/why I left prior guilds, not even one of them was an impulsive decision. Especially the raiding guilds.

As an officer, you should be paying attention to your assigned guild duties. You should notice if a formerly talkative player has gotten quiet. Or if you've received a number of concerned mails from a guildie who is unhappy over a change in policy or another member's behavior. A raid leader should notice if a player stops signing up (or showing up for) raids. Or if someone is fixated on loot, and complaining about other team members getting a drop they felt entitled to. These are all pretty common signs you have a player who's on the fence about their future in your guild.

It may be they're not feeling the guild is a good fit. Or they have RL issues that have come up and aren't comfortable bringing them up with an officer. Regardless, if you want to retain a member who is showing signs they may not be as engaged as they previously were, you are going to have to make the first move. Reach out and acknowledge you've seen/heard their issue, and ask them if they want to talk about it. This small bit of effort on your part is not a fix-all. But a failure to reach out to a player who has either directly or indirectly let you know tat something is bothering them will frequently lead to a /gquit, or perhaps worse yet, festering resentment and snippy /whisper commentary.

With a little extra care and feeding, patch 3.3 should be an opportunity for your guild to thrive. You've got multi-winged 5-man, 10-man and 25-man content to tear through, lore aplenty to soak up, and a shiny new expansion a ways off in the horizon. Safe travels.


Friday Five: 5 Things More QQ Worthy Than Blizzard's New Pet Store

shadow priest with Pandaren Monk

  1. The likelihood that, given the sound file transcripts from 3.3 and how everyone dissects such things to death in forums and on twitter and in trade chat, we will never again get to experience a spoiler-free raid instance for ourselves the first time.
  2. As of 3.3 players will no longer need to kill the final bosses in all four wings of Naxx in order to teleport to Sapphiron. Teleportation orbs have been added to allow players access back and forth from Sapphiron's lair. This presumably makes Sapphiron and KT farmable without the PITA of Thaddius.
  3. Everyone hates their Tier 10 gear. Mine makes me look like a Harry Potter movie escapee but at least I can cover it up with shadowform.
  4. We still know very little abut the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday that starts this Sunday, but we do know there are achievements that involve cooking, and that makes everyone who hasn't leveled cooking see red even though this holiday's achievements are not part of the violet drake meta-achievement.
  5. Macabre Marionette didn't get deleted from our accounts after Day of the Dead, but it is still an item taking up a bank slot that summons a friend to run around with you instead of being a learnable vanity pet you don't have to worry about accidentally tossing out.

Gosh so many things for us all the complain about...or not. Maybe this is a good time to reflect on past years where we had queues up to 1k players and DCs left and right and zombie plagues keeping us from spending our happy free time in game. So if these are the top of our complaint lists right now, then perhaps we should count ourselves lucky.

cheers!