Screenshots

Keeping the World of Warcraft out of my Facebook

Forsaken shadow priest Anexxia checking out a remodeled house in Brill

Yesterday, on twitter, I started a small twitter poll, curious to find out if my policy of keeping my World of Warcraft life separate from my offline life was a common occurrence. It was fun to hear from a few folks about the real life meetups they've had with guildies, and how they'd gotten to know players better thanks to being Facebook friends. And still others replied that of course they did, as they didn't have anything to hide.

That latter comment stuck with me for a bit to ponder. Do guildies whom I've politely refused to RealID friend or to share my Facebook info with feel I must have something to hide? I hope not, since that's pretty far from the reason why I don't overlap, except in a tiny number of cases, my gaming life with the rest of my life.

You see, I like to log in to WoW and submerge myself as Anexxia the shadow priest, or Psychocandy the Boomkin. Someone calling me by my real name drags me out of the magical World of Warcraft, and puts back smack dab into every day me. Everyday me works as a digital marketer and manages content, and slogs around a cold and rainy city on transit each day to get to and from work.

Further, even my friends who game (and they are a minority) primarily play console games and have little or no interest in hearing about my WoW adventures, much like the people who unfollow me on twitter after I post about food or some sort of RL event didn't have interest in hearing about things outside of Warcraft from me.

One-on-one, I will talk to guildies and my warcraft buddies about all sorts of RL stuff. But please don't be offended that I don't FB friend you. You'd just be annoyed by all the social gaming SPAM and baby animal pictures anyhow...

:)

This is the point at which I must disclose that I have met a small handfull of guildies IRL over the years. They know my everyday name, have met our crazy cats, and I would friend them on Facebook in a heartbeat if only they used Facebook. But those folks have transcended being my gaming friends -- they are, blessedly, just friends at this point, with whom I'd be just as likely to talk about something tasty I baked as some awesome WoW achievement.

How about you? Are your Warcraft worlds and your Facebook worlds combined?


A Sort of Homecoming in Brill

Anexxia at her new office desk, thinking...

Anexxia had been at loose ends for a few weeks now, ever since walking out on her raiding team. They continued on with their never-ending fight against evil monsters, leaving Anexxia puttering about in Orgrimmar, restless.

One hot Sunday afternoon, she packed a small bag with her herbalism scissors and her sewing kit, and hopped upon the zeppelin for Tirisfal Glades. It was an easy decision to leave the dust and bustle of the City-- she'd never felt welcome there. It was merely the most convenient point from which to set out with the raiding party. With those days behind her, she was free to return to the only place that had ever felt like home -- The Dark Lady's kingdom.

Even from the zeppelin tower, it was clear that things had changed in the years since she left on her crusade for justice. Brill had grown up. No longer a hastily slapped together burg, it was now a respectable place to call one's home.

Anexxia kept her eyes peeled for for rent signs. The office was the easier find. But it took poking about in a number of unsatisfactory rooming halls before she found the studio. She'd nearly decided not to head up the stairs to look at the place after her encounter with the landlady. She was quite possibly one of the most dim-witted shadow priests Anexxia had ever met. Standing about with her flapping outdated bat-wing staff, not having been in shadow form in aeons. But her feet were getting tired, so Anexxia trudged up the stairs, and found the absolutely perfect place.

Nice rock hard bed, candles everywhere, cobwebs in every corner. Yes, this will do, she thought to herself. "I'll take it!" she yelled down the stairs at the landlady, who chirped back something about being just thrilled to have another shadow priest in the house.

Taking off her dusty boots, and lying down upon the bed, Anexxia still didn't know what she was going to do with herself. But at least she was finally home. And thus, she rested.

shadow priest at rest.



Friday Five: Recent Reads

What would be appropriate reading for this goblin lady, upon her throne?

Recent posts around the blogosphere that have caught my eye:

  1. Evaluating Holy Priests with World of Logs on Cannot Be Tamed.
    A long standing argument I had in a prior guild with my other raiding officer was around measuring performance and holding raiders accountable. As a healer, he felt only the DPS (my peeps) could be measured and held accountable for their performance via tools such as World of Logs. No matter how many times I wrote posts here around how to compare and evaluate players in all roles, he held on to that POV. And thus I am always thrilled to see folks taking up the accountability mantle and showing that yes, in fact, healers can be evaluated too.
  2. ilvl 365 Vicious Gear and the Phantom Tier on Cynwise's Battlefield Manual.
    I haven't PvP'd seriously in several expansions, but always love when Cyn takes a big PvP community dust up and writes one of his epic posts on it. Judging by the twitter response to this article, it seems to have really given folks some food for thought.
  3. Three-Legged Stools on Psynister's Notebook.
    This post touches on subject matter I've been meaning to address head-on for some time: my mojo in WoW is off, as is that of a number of the folks I love to play with the most. Not sure how -- or if we can-- climb out of this funk, but calling it out is definitely a key first step.
  4. Making a Buck While Leveling alt No. 2349 on Jaded Alt.
    This post inspired me to start mentally drafting a post on how I make my alts financially self-sustaining through crafting. This post, however, gives tips that even the laziest non-crafter can follow so that they're never that guy begging for Gs for repairs before raid (or worse yet, for epic flying.)
  5. No I Didn't Start Playing WoW Again on The Stoppable Force.
    I absolutely love online gaming and my group of friends and co-conspirators I've met through the WoW blogging community. And like TSF, I fully intend to keep on blogging and chatting away on twitter, even if a time comes when my focus shifts to another MMO. Like TSF, I am definitely going to be giving SW:TOR a try when it comes out (despite being annoyed at the prospect of having to install Windows on my machine to do so.)

What've you read recently that's truly struck a chord?


Friday Five: Firelands Screenshots 5

Because a screenshot is worth a million firey deaths...or something. ;p


It's a bird! No, it's a plane! No, it's Psychocandy suffering from creepy lag in Stormwind!

Ever since patch 4.2, I've been doing a lot of air swimming in Stormwind on my druid. It seems to take a minute or so for the screen to catch up with the idea that she in flight form.


Remind me again how this chick is unarmed? She still has hands! And her spellcaster mace!

This one never gets old...how exactly is a spellcaster with hands intact, holding a mace, unarmed? Malfurion, honey, you need to buy some glasses!

Yeah, that's OK, you just ride around on your kitties looking cool -- I'll take care of all the trespassers myself...

All these NPCs prancing around and at best they can be counted on to waltz in and take the killing blow on a mob. Unless of course they are busy posing on their ponies, er, kitties. Mmmhmmmm.

Shouldn't they be giving us hazard pay for this? Or at least giving us a lead suit to wear? And who is this Aggra chick and why does she think she's Jaina??

Lady, I just met you. But Thrall and I go way back. What is all this true love stuff you are talking about? Who are you again? ANd how did you take over Thrall's heart? What's that? You have a book you want to sell me...?


Hangin' with my druid posse, yo!

The absolute best part of the Patch 4.2 content is my druid getting to run around as part of a druid posse. Most. Fun. In ages.

What are some of your favorite patch 4.2 moments?


Three Things I Learned in WoW This Weekend

Here, foxy foxy! Little shadow priest wants to play with youuuuu...

  1. Rogues can use spirit/int leather gear.
  2. It is perfectly acceptable for your mom to do your dailies and character leveling because you are so busy with work and things.
  3. The vanity pet RNG hates me.

On newbie rogues

True story...I walked myself into Stratholme this weekend, on my shaman's road from 45 to 50. It felt weird to be in there as such as a lowbie. But it felt even more weird to find myself arguing with a rogue about how it was inappropriate that he need rolled on a spellcaster chest. I especially enjoyed it when he told me I was dumb and should shut up. That's the point at which the entire rest of the party lit into him.

Thankfully, I was eventually able to kick him from the group. Nd for the first time ever I used the following as my reason for kick: Bad.

Here's the deal: I do not care what leather jerkin you had on previously. A spellcaster piece of leather is NOT an upgrade for you, mister rogue. No matter how much higher an ilvl. It's just NOT. I hold you even more accountable for this nonsense than all those mages and warlocks who keep rolling against my clothies on spirit gear (b/c at least that stat USED to be helpful for them last expansion.)

On slacker kids who live at home with mom

Kid: "OK, guys I'm out, going to work. So it won't be me on playing."

Me: "So, you are account sharing?"

Kid: "Nah."

Other kid: "His mom levels for him."

Kid: "Yeah, my mom does my dailies and my leveling for me. I am real busy with work and stuff."

Me: /facepalm

No offense buddy, but just wait until you move out into your own place and work a 40+ hour a week job. Get back to me THEN about being *so busy*. But then again you'll probably just take all your laundry home for mom to wash...

;p

On my inability to hit the 125 pet mark

I chased after Baradin foxes. I conquered Ahune daily. I killed creatures in EPL for hours. And yet my two pet collectors are still short of their 125 pet goals. Candy needs 1 more pet, while Nexxi is still 5 or 6 away from the goal.

/cry

At this point I am haunting my AHs trying to find affordable pets I do not have yet. Ended up buying the druid 4 pets yesterday otherwise she would still have not made any progress.

VANITY PET GODS WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME???


Friday Five: Five Ways That Gnomes Bring the Sexay

Sorry, Thrall honey, but I'm taken.

  1. We have the sexiest dance moves, both male and female side.
  2. We tell geeky jokes, and there's no humor sexier than geek humor, amirite?
  3. We can sneak up on you from out of nowhere, and drop the sexay bomb, and then run off, leaving you wanting more.
  4. We're the original ponytail rockers. 
  5. Once you go gnome, there's no going back. I mean, you've seen a male gnome doing a dance haven't you?

GO GNOME OR GO HOME!

Happy Friday.

xoxo Anexxia


Not Having an Application Process Can Ruin Your Guild

  this shadowpriest prefers a robust application process
I logged in to Anexxia's horde guild the other day to see a familiar name in gchat. This individual inspired one of my favorite posts of all time, "When the Raid Leader Says Everyone, This Means YOU."

He'd also led a fairly successful (11/12 in short order) new guild with the birth of Cataclysm. A guild he left in the lurch by selling his account and "quitting WoW." An action that screwed over all those who had built that guild up with him (including leaving an established guild to do so.) That decision seems to have lasted all of a month before he turned up, like a bad penny, in my guild.

How did this happen? Because my current raiding guild is run by someone who doesn't think process of any kind is important, especially such a silly thing as a guild application process.

Now, certainly, not every guild needs an application process. If you only invite friends of existing guildies (and by friends I do not mean some person they just picked up in LFD, something a former guildie of mine was notorious for.) But if you are running an even moderately successful raiding guild, it's a must.

Having a solid application, that asks some hard questions about why the applicant left their former guild and what made them interested in yours is a good way to get a glimmer of how someone will behave in your guild. It also gives their former (or even current) guildies an opportunity to put in a good word, or to tell you that the person is a drama queen who tried to recruit away half the main raiders to form their own guild. Without an application process, you can quite easily end up with a guild full of people who can easily ruin your guild's reputation-- and its team spirit.

An application isn't an insurance policy against recruiting bad apples into your guild, but it certainly can be a great early warning system. Don't step into Firelands without one.


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?


Friday Five: Five Things Every Guild Officer Should do Each Week

Druid coming in for landing...

As the Summer doldrums set upon us, and all of Azeroth gets lulled into complacency pre-patch, I bring you today's Friday Five...five things you should be doing every week as a guild officer:

  1. Talk to a guildie you don't know very well (or at all.)
    In numerous guilds, the Officer team can become an insular little group, mostly talking to-- and playing with-- each other. But to be able to represent the best interests and needs of your guild, you need Officers to get out there and mingle.
  2. Take a visit to your guild forums.
    You do know the URL to your guild's forums, right? It's amazing how many Officers I've seen who rarely participated (or rarely even read) their guild's forums. A good part of leadership is showing up-- and the forums are a part of your guild's communication infrastructure. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with your guildies.
  3. Peek at the Gbank.
    Your gbank is probably overstuffed at this point in the expansion. At some point, you need to find a good home for it all. Do you have enough mats to make a guildie an epic armor piece? Or some engineering pets? Or why not send some newly active alts some gear they probably didn't notice that's rotting away in the middle of the overstuffed gear tab? And by all means sell those trepix that drop for your guild every week and stash the money in the bank to use for something fun for the guild later.
  4. Organize a 5-man.
    Remember what I said about insular Officer teams? This is a good way to break out of that rut-- or to squish any perceptions of an Officer clicque. Content doesn't matter-- do the new 5s, or schedule a lowbie run. The point is to play and socialize with your guildies.
  5. Re-commit yourself to being an officer.
    Sometimes, you're not feeling it anymore. You don't feel like showing up to raids or to officer meetings or what have you. It happens. Wallow in that feeling for a day or two. But make sure that each week you take a look in the mirror and evaluate if being an Officer in your guild is something you can commit to and embrace. Because if it's not, you're doing everyone, yourself included, a disservice.

Happy Friday!


Meeting my Cataclysm Goals: Sandstone Drake, Check!

Whose a cute fuzzy wuzzy shadowy dragon? ME that's who!

Each expansion, I've had a goal in mind. For WotLK, it was to save Bolvar Fordragon. This expansion, from the moment I saw the Sandstone Drake, it was to be able to shift into a shadowy dragon. And as of this weekend, that goal is complete.

I didn't want to get the Vial of the Sands for Anexxia, since she already has an awesome mount for shadowform-- the Blazing Hippogryph. Thus, my Alliance shadow priest being the lucky recipient.

I'd burnt out on trying for the Vial on my alchemist after the fourth canopic jar full of nothing more than mummified remains. Thus, I'd started searching for the Vial on the AH every time I logged in, to get a sense of how much it was going for, so I could save up accordingly.

Just last week, I'd seen it up for 75k which was way too rich for my blood. But then something funny happened over the long weekend. Suddenly there was a price war, and we had three of them up with buyouts under 49k, and bids for 44k. Still a ton of cash, but then again, it cost me a lot of cash to make my motorcycle back in the day as well.

For those wondering just how I happened to have so much cash on hand, well that's a direct result of being used to supporting raiding costs on two characters, but not doing any raiding, on the whole, for months. Instead of using up all my consumables and materials on myself, I've been selling stuff as I accumulate it. And continuing with my usual crafting. But not having anything to spend the cash on meant it piled up on the bank alt.

And thus, I've met my one Cataclysm goal to date. It's great timing too -- I'm about to be even more busy IRL due to a promotion at work. So even if I don't play seriously for a few months, I'll still be able to feel I've gone out in a blaze of glory, so to speak. And no, I'm not quitting WoW and I'm not stopping the blog, but I am a bit preoccupied with life outside of Azeroth at the moment. Catch you on the flipside.


Try, or Don't Try, but Don't Waste Our Time

Look Into the Moonkin Lights...You are Getiing Verrrry Sleepy...

I recently had a conversation with a buddy who hasn't been feeling the raiding urge this expansion, and felt bad for not turning up for raids. But I assured him I don't mind if folks don't feel like raiding and thus are not turning up for raid nights.

What drives me up the wall are those who DO turn up, unprepared, and unwilling to actually make a real effort, and proceed to waste the time of the 9 other people on the team who actually logged on and wanted to raid.That's right: people who show up out of obligation but make no real effort to be a productive member of the raid team are my pet peeve.

I do not mind a night plagued by unavoidable failures due to DCs or power outages or bugged bosses. It happens. I do not mind a night of attempts getting progressively closer to a boss kill without success. Learning the strat takes practice. But I DO mind raiding nights plagued by people ninja AFKing, or having no clue about the bosses we're fighting, or dying  due to continually standing in crap on the ground they can move out of, or having mysteriously changed their spec so they are no longer able to do their assigned job in the raid. This sort of thing makes me want to log off in a nerd rage.

World of Warcraft raids are not a spectator sport. They are a team effort. Perhaps with the latest nerfs, pro guilds can carry through more slackers and malcontents. But perhaps not. And regardless, I'm not your mommy so I don't WANT to carry you through content. There -- I've said it.

When did going to raids become an unbearable chore that one slogged through, seemingly trying to do as poor a job as possible so it would get called early and you could go back to picking herbs? What is it exactly about Cataclysm and its raid structure and guild changes that has made this seem like an all too common and prevalent issue?

I don't have the answers. but I do have a request: if you are not feeling like raiding: please don't sign up or accept the raid invitation. Everyone is entitled to a night off. And if you're not willing to come in and give it your A game, you're doing the rest of the team (many of whom spent time farming food and flask materials and repair money) a disservice.

Try, or don't try, but please don't waste your raid team's time.

xo

Nexxi

 


Spirit: Still Not Just for Healers

elemental shaman can use spirit too mister pally pants!

I've been leveling my goblin shaman in large part through LFD groups. I've been enjoying the under 10 minute queues, and seeing the old instances in new level ranges. But what I haven't been enjoying as much is the non-stop arguing about who gets the spirit gear.

While in Dire Maul, I rolled need on, and won, mail spirit gloves. Our healing paladin, who, in that same moment, won the shield off the King, immediately started berating me. The conversation went roughly like this:

PALADIN: " Why did you roll need on those gloves, shaman???"

ME: "?"

PALADIN: "Don't you know anything? You use AGI not spirit, dumbass."

ME: "Actually, as an elemental shaman, with a resto offspec, I can use spirit in either spec. I have the talent that converts spirit into hit."

PALADIN: "Obviously you don't raid."

ME: "Yes, I actually, I do. Your point?"

PALADIN: "If you raid then you should know main spec before off spec."

ME: "As already noted I'm elemental and have the talent that uses spirit for hit. And you not only got plenty of other loot this run, you can wear plate so you didn't have more right to win those gloves than I did."

/ignores paladin

ME: "Next time, before you start berating a stranger in an instance over loot, be more informed about your topic."

That's right. The paladin and I both rolled on mail spirit gloves, in a run wherein they had won a ton of loot, and he threw a hissy fit about my winning them with a need roll. I am not making this up.

Back in October, when I first wrote about the changing face of spirit, I expected we would have some short term hiccups. I did not anticipate, however, that my hybrids (and I only really do instances with my SP/boomkin/ele shaman) would be the target of non-stop harangues from healers who felt that every item that dropped with spirit on it was their priority over mine.

Yes, I understand that healers really really need spirit. But hybrids also can use it. And especially when you are talking about the mail and leather gear, there isn't a plethora of non spirit gear awaiting my picking it up. And it's ridiculous to expect me, in PUG 5-mans no less, to pass on any item with spirit on it in case a healer wants it. That'd be a great way to be wearing level 20 quest gear up to 60.

Warlocks and Mages: Still Don't Need Spirit

Probably one of the more vexing related issues that crops up just as often is warlocks and mages rolling on cloth spirit gear, or my worst case so far: melee DPS rolling on and winning a spirit trinket. I know that Blizzard spent an entire expansion trying to convince locks and mages that they should have a teeny bit of spirit in their gear, but those days are past.

Yes, as someone pointed out to me in their argument as to why I was wrong that they don't use spirit at all, your rate of out of combat mana regen is dependent upon spirit. That would technically be considered "using spirit" but having a stat on your gear that you mostly reforge away because it only affects your out of combat mana regen does not really fit in with my definition of "using it" the same way that casters who convert it into hit (which you need whenever you are fighting something up to your hit cap.)

At this point, I'm going to have to make a macro to spam before the first boss drops his phat loots, that says something along the lines of: "Since it always comes up, please be advised that boomkin/elemental shaman/shadow priests actually use spirit as hit; I have it talented. It's not just for healers. Cheers." Not that it will do any good, but it will save my wery fingers from typing these worn out arguments at least...


Goblin Shaman Says: For the Dark Lady!

goblin lady on a bony pony

Oh what a glorious thing it is to reach your goals.

Early this week, the adorable goblin lady you see here hit exalted with the Forsaken, on her march to level 40.

This sufficiently incented me to crank through a couple more levels (thank you LFD and your 4-9 min waits for lowbie dungeons) so I could get her a pony.

OK, actually, I got her...7 ponies. But this is her favorite.

Yeah, the epic tryke is flashy and all, but this is what she really wanted.

Because nothing shows your allegiance to Lady Sylvanas more than prancing around on one of her ponies.

Awwwww yeah baby!

10 more levels then I can train up my professions again, but I have an 82 and an 84 who need some questing as well.

So much alting to do and so little time....

Happy Friday!

 


I'm at At Loose Ends

sometimes, all you can do is dance with a friend.

Two months ago, I left  the guild I'd raided in through most of WotLK and been an officer in for over a year, and joined a friend's raiding guild. Alas, our friend's guild had a bad case of Main Tank Syndrome plus a RL revolving door and start time. Although offered the opportunity to run the B team raid and thus have complete control over the RL and start time, in a guild that is now 11/12, my SO and I both put raiding on the back burner for the first time in over 5 years (5.5 years for the SO.)

Truth be told, my RL schedule has been too hectic for the past month to take on progression raiding prep, let alone leading a raiding team. But this leaves me at loose ends. Yes, I have a whole army of neglected alts who would love some attention. But my World of Warcraft -- from the time my druid hit 58 and stepped into MC to heal our META guild's raid-- has revolved around raiding. Not always cutting edge, top 5 on the server raiding (though there has been that too), but I've always been a part of a regularly scheduled raid team since that first night of raiding.

It feels weird to not need to make any flasks.

It feels weird not to be watching tank spot videos and pestering people to read Jaded Alt's strats.

It feels weird to be poking around on alts in the evening instead of slaying Internet dragons with friends.

I don't think this hiatus from raiding will be permanent, but I do think it'll be longer than a vacation break. It's absolutely exhausting to think about trying to find a guild that raids horde-side, 6 PT start or a bit later, with fun and friendly and interesting guildies. I am positive it can be done, but I don't feel like I have the energy or the time to do it right now. And my schedule with the classes I'm taking means I don't have a more open schedule for raiding at the moment. But I know that once 4.2 hits the live servers, the urge to raid will likely tip the balance back to "must raid!" from the "not enough time to find the right fit in a guild."

One thing I know for certain is raiding progression is not enough reason to stick it out in a guild where you don't connect with the other people, or worse yet, they don't even connect with anyone else. I've already spent too much time in guilds where folks were only all about the raid and were PUGging 5-mans alone in a sea of 25+ guildies online, in-between bouts of snarking at each other in the guild forums. I want more than that. And I'm positive I'll eventually find it.


Friday Five: Five Things I Look for in a Raiding Guild

  WoWScrnShot_043011_190315

  1. You have set times to raid.
    Specifically, you raid at 6 p.m. pacific or a little bit after. This does not change based upon whimsy. Or enough people being on earlier. Or your raid leader not liking someone who can't get online until 6 Pacific and thus trying to get things started before they log on. 
  2. You confirm your raid slots in advance.
    No, not 30min in advance; a day or two in advance. Or better yet, you have a set raiding roster, and I'm on it. No one, including me, want to rush home form work to warm the bench.
  3. Your loot policies are clear, and not subject to change.
    Loot isn't handed out based on their personal relationships with the raid leader/guild leader. RL/GL don't get "dibs" on all the loot. Officers don't get special consideration for special drops. There aren't special requirements you've never heard about previously when a mount or a legendary drops.
  4. You have people on in your non-raid times.
    If your guild is a hot bed of activity during raid hours and a dead zone thereafter, that says to me there isn't much camaraderie or community other than your raiding. And even if that's very successful raiding, you're not gong to be a good fit for me.
  5. Your guild leader/raid leader/officers are experienced and well respected.
    I am sure that there are many children under the age of 18 and people who've only been playing 6 months who are excellent guild and raid leaders. but so far, I haven't encountered them. I'm a cranky 5 1/2 year veteran of WoW, and enjoy playing with people who are pretty experienced, mature, and with whom I have things in common in addition to playing this game.

What are the things you look for when shopping for a raiding guild?

 


Alt Attack!

WoWScrnShot_042911_194734
Due to a real life work and continuing education schedule that hasn't left me with much spare time, I haven't raided in a few weeks. Instead, I've spent an unusual (for me) amount of time playing my alts. And creating new alts. I blame @psynister's influence!

;)

This past weekend, I indulged in some profession power leveling on my two goblins, speeding them through inscription (maxing out what's possible for level 35) and tailoring/enchanting (making good headway for a level 11.) But that's not even the half of it:

  • I moved my Tauren druid, who hadn't been played since the expansion hit, to the server whre I've been rolling my goblins to play with some great tweeps. 
    • And proceeded to earn her a level, bringing her up to level 81.
  • And despite all that, I still had time to push my Alliance warlock to 84
  • AND get all my toons the Legacy of Arlokk staff
  •  AND do a wee bit of Children's Week on my primary characters.

All of the above in a few short hours this weekend, in-between bouts of homework! So while all around me I am hearing about boredom and burn out, I'm back to having a nice solid "to do" list, across a half dozen characters. And that's just the way I like it.

Next up, I'll need to decide if I want to leave any of my hordelings on Bronzebeard at all. As of now, I'm leaning towards not leaving them there. In the 2 1/2 years I've been there, the server environment has changed as far as not having as many PUGs going for raid content, and not a very wide selection of raiding guilds. Plus many of the folks I really enjoyed playing with there have either left the server, or stopped playing. Our friend's guild is 11/12, which makes it great on the casual raiding front, but it's really not exactly what I'm looking for from a social standpoint, truth be told. Given all this, I'd prefer to have my beloved shadow priest on a server where she had a number of raiding options, so that she'll never again be stuck in a less than inspiring guild situation all for the sake of a raid slot.

But that's all stuff to figure out later. Right now, the class and homework schedule, plus work busyness means not thinking about raiding at all short term. For the first time in 5 years. And yes, it feels pretty strange to not have any raiding progression targets on my "to do" list. It will remain to be seen how well not raiding works out. And where I end up.


Friday Five: Five Patch 4.1 Favorite Things

My Druid's got Legs...the new Outlands Children's Week pet!

It takes more than a week for me to settle into a new content patch. And in the case of the past two weeks, I've had not nearly enough time to dive in to what the patch has to offer. But I do have a solid five favorites to share with you today:

  1. New Children's week pets!
    In addition to this adorable spindly creature, from the Outlands orphan scavenger hunt quest chain, you can get a snail pet from the Azeroth quest chain. And allegedly, you can finally get the Northrend pet you didn't choose the first time (I've not had the opportunity to actually DO that yet, so we'll see.)
  2. The triumphant return of mind sear!
    Mind sear, no longer the shadow priest's practical joke for the damage meters. Not quite at its WotLK peak #s, but a damn fine improvement. I actually bust it out again now. And have hit 40k #s on select 5-man trash. This is highly acceptable. And awesome.
  3. New cooking and fishing dailies!
    Some of them are pretty creepy, like the one wherein my druid was attacked by crawdads, thanks to some foul-smelling dwarven beauty cream. I like having a variety of new quests to choose from, and that we can do them in places other than the two cities that we've been hunkered down in since Deathwing singed the world.
  4. More Vanity pets!
    Not one, but TWO kitties, seen here. And many more new pets to come. It's starting to make that 125 pet goal on Candy and Anexxia not seem *quite* so crazy. Sorta. ;p
  5. New 5-man content!
    ZG was one of my favorite all-time raids, and ZA was a place only my mage ever got to raid ("Please?? Please bring your mage? We really need a good cc'er...please bring your mage??"), so it's cool to see them turned into 5-mans. I'll be happier once this content is more easily PUGgable on all my servers. Right now, it truly depends on if you have a raid-geared healer and tank who are able to think critically about the encounters. So far, I've PUG'd ZG and mostly 1-shot the bosses, and had a ZA that couldn't get past the Eagle boss. But I know it will get easier for folks eventually.

BONUS Five: Regaining the feeling that I can pick a capitol city other than Orgrimmar or Stormwind to call home.

What  have been your favorite 4.1 changes or additions?


Why I Prefer to be Part of a Set Raid Team

It's a bummer that Magni is now Crystal Clear; likewise it's a bummer when your raid seating priotiy is not.

One of the hardest things I've had to adjust to since leaving behind my more serious raiding guild days, and joining a series of casual guilds that raided, is the loss of being part of a set raid team.

There was the guild that seemed to have a core raiding group, of which I was apart, raiding every night for a year until I was unceremoniously sat for having reminded the tank's brother to turn off his Crusader Aura while we were on Kael. Or the raid group where the raid leader would never tell any of us standby folks if we were needed or not, then get huffy when asked if we were needed or could be released to go do something else.

What I Like About Set Teams

My first, and most serious, raiding guild helped shaped my expectations, and preference, that raid seating be transparent, and communicated in advance. And it also showed me the power of having a set raiding team, with designated backups, rather than having some sort of round robin seating. When we started up our raids each week, there was no need to spend excessive amounts of time re-explaining fight mechanics for farm bosses. Previously killed bosses were summarily handled, leaving us with maximum time to head in and work on our progression  boss or bosses of the evening.

Because we had the same base team each raid, and didn't constantly change up strat, folks had a chance to practice their role, learn how to optimize it during the fight, and set goals for exceeding the prior kill's perfection in execution. We knew which raid member would pull out all the stops if there was a mishap, whom was best suited for which special task, etc.

In the last 2 years especially, I've primarily raided in situations wherein the raid had an entirely different make-up week-to-week. Different healing classes, different distributions of DPS, entirely different players week-to-week. While I do understand how for guilds with too many raiders for a 10-man raid and not enough raiders (or desire) for a 25-man raid can see rotating people in and out of one 10-man to be the path of least resistance for raid seating, I also think it is a key contributor to slowed progression through the content.

From my personal perspective, I'm just not as sharp on a boss I am only seeing every few weeks as I am on content I've done on a regular basis. And it takes time to build raid synergy and relationships. If you are spending 30min of your 3-hour raid time explaining fights to people who have never seen them before, you're not left with much time to build camaraderie -- or to work on new content either.

And What I Hate Most About Unschedulers

In the case of the unschedulers, who can't confirm people When I've hurried home from work to make a 6 p.m. raid start, only to find the raid has started in my absence, or to be told I'm being sat for a new person, it's peeved me. I could have gone out for a drink with a colleague, or stopped by the Farmers' Market, or finished up one last task at my desk. If only the raid leader had changed my status to Out for that raid I signed up for 2 weeks ago.

We are all busy people. If you are working 40+ horus per week, it's hard enough to schedule your raid nights around everything else you need to get done. So when you do those scheduling feats, or spend $30 to catch a cab home to be there for your raid team, it truly sucks to be warming the bench for the night. Yes, it takes extra time for the raid leader to confirm people, and yes it requires those who sign up for raids to be committed to actually attending them, but I do believe having a set slate of raiders, confirmed in advance, is the best course of action to progress through raids.

How to Deal With Backups

Now, when I've gotten into heated discussions int he past with folks over this issue, it's often been due to the thought that a set slate of core raiders causes a team experience gap for the inevitably needed backups/fill-ins. But I disagree. My most successful raid team had several slots set aside in each raid to rotate backups in and out to ensure they learned the new fights and could keep up on the farm content. Yes, in a 10-man you have less leeway than in a 25-man, but it's still doable. You can set aside a healing slot and a DPS slot that rotates people each raid night. If you are in the envious position of being a guild with a surplus of tanks, you can also rotate your off tanks from DPS to Off-tank each raid.

In my opinion, having a more disciplined approach to your raid seating can strengthen the camaraderie of your raid team and be a solid base for progression success. What are your thoughts on raid seating?


Friday Five: Five Ways Guilds Can Help Their New Members Integrate

New member! Parachuting in! Handle it!

Earlier this week, I talked about how hard it can be to be the new kid in the raid and guild. Although the bulk of the responsibility for getting to know folks does, inevitably, come down to the new member, there are still some things guilds can do to make transitioning in a lot smoother. And thus, today's five:

  1. Have a guild application that can illuminate the applicant's personality and interests.
    Those former applicants are your new members. If you have a hard-working guild application, current guildies should feel like they've already gotten to know the new member a little bit, which will make it a whole lot easier for them to start making friends in your guild.
  2. Have a welcome committee.
    Seriously! You don't need to bake them a fish feast, but have an officer or a friendly guildie welcome the new member to the guild. They can also point the guildie to any members-only resources on your forums, talk about the trial process (if you have one), and show them where to find the Vent/Mumble server information. Sort of like having someone walk you around the office on your first day of work.
  3. Clearly spell out guild policies and procedures on your website.
    What's your raid sign-up and seating process? When do trial members attain permanent status? Who can take what items out of the guild bank? And for that matter, are items from the guild bank free, or at a fraction of AH cost? These are all things that a new member probably wants to know, but doesn't know whom to ask (or if asking any of these might set off someone's hot button.)
  4. Be friendly!
    A guild with gchat that only consists one one-upping or worse yet, silence, doesn't give your new member a warm welcome. You'd think this would be an obvious statement, but believe me, many guilds are not only not especially friendly to new members, I've seen guilds wherein new members join and walk into a hotbed of hostility from folks who are concerned they might usurp their raid spot.
  5. Plan social events that can help new peeps get to know the old guard.
    Depending on your guild's interests, this can be retro raids, scavenger hunts, group completion of holiday events -- whatever reflects your guild's personality. The point is to have the occasional event planned that allows for conversation, and that can be open to a wide spectrum of your guild community.

What are some of the tactics or activities your guild engages in to make new members feel welcome?


How Not to Make a Good Impression in Your First Raid

shadow priest Anexxia stares down Cho'gall

On a recent raid night, we somehow ended up one DPS short of a full raid (hold the jokes, please ;p). Thus, we ended up taking with us a member who had just joined the prior evening.

As it turns out, the officer who had invited this person, must not have known them very well, if at all. I say this because if they had, they wouldn't have suggested bringing him in so far into the instance. Why do I say this? Because I'm pretty sure it was his first ever raid instance.

This player kept asking what color dot he needed to follow on the mini map and was clearly perplexed when asked to just visually look at his screen to see where folks were standing and moving towards. After partially wiping the raid group by running fire in the opposite edition (he literally ran me down), over Vent he asked repeatedly why the instance wouldn't let him back in. And when he finally was in and we were about to go for what was his third attempt, he asked us to wait when the ready check popped up, and proceeded to ask why we didn't all just spread out instead of moving around on the fight.

I believe we gave him three attempts before we cut him loose. And I don't foresee our taking him with us ever again. Why? A few key reasons:

  • He didn't say he was new to raiding before accepting the invitation
  • He demonstrated an inability to follow instructions
  • He talked over vent almost non-stop through the attempts, distracting the entire team from doing their jobs
  • Despite having no idea what he was doing, tried to tell the raid leader and team what we should be doing differently, on a boss we'd previously killed a number of times.

Start with Baby Steps

Now, I do understand why someone without any raiding experience would want to join a raiding  guild. And why they would be excited to be invited to a raid. And we do al have to start somewhere. But if you have no experience with grouping for raids, unless you are a WOW savant, a difficult boss towards the end of an instance is not the place to do that. You really need to start with an easier fight, and to have prepared for it.

Your best bet for getting your raiding feet wet is Baradin Hold. A slight bit of trash, only one boss, and a likelihood your guild can carry you through the content makes this a good starting point. You'll be able to start to get familiar with the dynamics of coordinating 10 or 25 players to achieve a common goal. And gain an understanding of the tasks your class and role may be asked to perform in a raid.

Once you start to feel like you are keeping up with the group, you can start thinking about hitting some of the entry level raid bosses. But you'll want to make sure you go watch a video of the encounter and read a description of what your role does in that fight, so that you are coming into the raid armed with enough knowledge to give it a good try. Be sure that your raid leader knows you are new to the instance, and ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of what you personally are being asked to do.

I understand it can seem scary to admit to being a newbie, but we were all newbies at one point or another. And a good team of folks will appreciate your 'fessing up, versus not understanding why you are having trouble with executing on something they consider to be on farm mode.

Further reading:


Friday Five: Five Keys to Raiding Success

shadow priest uses gnomish powers to narrowly escape the dreaded elevator boss

It's Friday, and we've got five keys to raiding success:

  1. Raid leaders must remember their raid members are not mind readers.
    If you need someone to do something, tell them -- in advance of pulling the boss. Yelling at someone for not doing something you didn't ask them to do, on a boss they've not seen, is not cool, and not effective.
  2. Select and confirm your raiding teams a few days in advance.
    If you have more people who want to raid than you have slots, this is imperative. It's no fun to log on, revved up to raid, then get kicked to the curb. Many of your raiders are fitting raiding into already very busy lives. If they aren't seated for a raid, and know that in advance, that gives them the opportunity to go do something else offline; it's a lot harder to pull plans together last minute, after not getting in.
  3. Let your raiders know your instance plan for the week.
    THis allows them to watch videos the day of working on a new boss, prep their action bars with any macros, or go out and poke around blogs for tips on how to maximize their performance on that boss your team inevitably struggles with.
  4. Make every attempt a serious attempt.
    Don't pull a boss while someone is AFK. Or before everyone is buffed and ready. Ask folks to get their food buff on and be running some sort of flask or elixir. Hand out -- and use -- healthstones if you are lucky enough to have a warlock on the team.
  5. Keep finger pointing and backseat driving to a minimum during the fight.
    Keep Vent clear! The raid doesn't need to know that the spatially unaware ranged DPS died unless they have a specific task that needs to be assigned to someone else. The know-it-all tank doesn't actually know that it was the melee's fault for whatever minor hiccup (that you just recovered from) happened. Mid-fight, when people start in with this stuff, or worse yet, rambling on about things completely non-related to the fight, it distracts the other raiders from doing their jobs, and can cause a wipe. Do your postmortem AFTER the fight, not as a play-by-play while the raid team is still working on it.

As always, YMMV, these opinions are solely mine and do not reflect those of any specific raiding team, and no fluffy animals or raiders were harmed in the making of this Friday Five. What are some of YOUR tips for raiding success?


Warming the Bench...Mid-Raid

Cho'gall will have your heads!...all of you!

A close cousin to the raid leaders who get thte twitchy strategy changing finger every attempt, the raid leader who can't just make up his mind as to whom to bring to the raid each night poses similar challenges to the morale of the raid team.

Put yourself in this position:

You're in the middle of doing a 5-man, or your dailies, or whatever it was that you had planned to do with your WoW time tonight. Then out of the blue, your raid leader asks you to please come and help on Boss X. You agree, and are summoned in so fast you don't even have time to read a refresher strat. Which is fine since after one go at it, you've got a new role to play (i.e. you are now the OT or a healer -- whatever your OS is.) An attempt later, you hear over Vent "Sorry Bud, we are going to bring in X instead" and find yourself removed from the raid.

Do you...

    A. Log out of the game in full nerd rage.

    B. Sit in Org for an hour pondering what you did wrong

    C. Stick pins in your raid leader voodoo doll

    D. /gquit

I've seen all of the above (well except for the voodoo doll -- people tend to keep that quiet) happen in this totally avoidable situation. As a raid leader, you need to be well versed in the strategy you are using for a boss, and know, in advance, whom you need to make that happen. If you think you are going to want someone to come in with an offspec to facilitate that, you need to tell them in advance, give them a couple of minutes to prepare by watching a video or reading a strat from that perspective, and give them a couple of attempts to learn that new role.

It's incredibly insensitive to ask someone to drop what they are doing to come help you then not give them the respect of the ability to give it a good shot by not allowing them time to prep. Chances are your weary raid team could use a bio or make-an-adult-beverage break anyway.

When raid leaders make a habit of this behavior, they may find those last-minute calls to help out will go unheeded. Which makes sense. No one wants to help out someone who treats them as a disposable cog in the raid machine, versus as a person.

 It's a fine line to tread between being responsive to changing raid dynamics and asking folks to fill a variety of roles and being a jerk. How has your guild managed to achieve that balance?


Can Progression Raiding and Alts Productively Coexist?

Don't mind me Atramedes, I'm just sightseeing, said the shadow priest as she crept closer...

We're at a point in this tier of content wherein serious raiding guilds are well on their way into defeating the heroic modes, but many more casual raiding guilds are finding themselves stuck at 9/12 or 10/12 on regular mode. So you know what that means -- folks are starting to want to bring their alts. Worse yet, the people who want to bring their alts are typically the folks who've geared themselves out thanks to having attended all or most of the runs (yes, I'm looking at you MT/Raid Leader/Core Raid team members.)

A guild leader's first impulse is probably to say "OK..." when their raid leader comes to them and says "I don't want to bring my geared out toon to raids any more; I really want to play Character X." But there are a number of reasons you should think twice before sealing that deal:

  1. Often this is not the first-- or the last-- time this player has pulled the old switcheroo. Are you prepared for them gearing up this character then cycling in their next alt?
  2. You've just set a precedent. Now that you've let them swap out to their alt, why can't player X do the same?
  3. So, player Z who has stayed on their main and lost a lot of loot to the swapping player, and is now losing more gear to their alt is starting to hate them.
  4. A raid team wants to feel like a team, not a loot delivery system for the raid leader. It can be hard to respect a leader who is continually fine tuning a situation to their advantage-- raid synergy be damned.
  5. Typically, no matter how much we love our alts, they will not perform nearly as well, or have the same utility as our mains on whom we've spent months raiding.

In my raiding history, once the alts started coming in, progression ground to a stand-still. Tempers flared. And frequently, good players left my raid teams.In many of the cases, this behavior was tolerated because it was done by the raid leader-- and everyone was afraid of losing the raid leader to the extent that no one spoke up about it. But there was a lot of discussion going on in the background amongst the raiders it affected. And none of it sunshine and kittens related.

To be clear, I'm not saying a raid leader shouldn't grab someone's healer alt if a raid won't go without that happening. But allowing players, at their request, to swap characters at this stage in the game, after gearing themselves up? That has a real possibility of derailing your progression momentum.

So, What Can You Do to Avoid a Blowout?

If this issue comes up in your guild, you can't just ignore it. It won't go away. But there are a few ways you can diffuse the situation.

  • Start up an alt raid.
    You probably have enough experienced raiders with moderately geared up alts who want to raid on them. Put them all together, and let them start re-clearing the raids. Bonus points for this approach making folks work for it, versus coasting off mains' hard work.
  • Put it to a vote.
    If someone is truly adamant about wanting to make a switch, put up an anonymous vote on your forums and let the raid team decide. And do the same for if EP/DKP is allowed to roll over or if there will be a penalty spend or freeze for a specific timeframe to discourage the loot and run syndrome.

How has your guild dealt with these situations?


When is the Right Time to Change up Your Raid Strat?

If the shadow priest's gear is broken, it's probably time to change the strat.

This weekend, on twitter, @slowpoker said something that resonated with many of us:

STOP CHANGING THE MOTHERFUCKING STRAT. CAN'T PRACTICE WHEN YOU CHANGE IT EVERY FIVE ATTEMPTS

Amen.

When someone posts on twitter in all caps, and curses, you know it's serious business. So raid leaders, please stop and reflect for a moment, before the the next time you utter the phrase "Let's try a new strat..." and answer these questions honestly:

  1. Did you succinctly explain the strat?
    No, I am not asking if you droned on for 5 minutes about all of the boss abilities. I don't care about the boss abilities. I want to know what I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it, and where I should be. If you want an example of some well-written strategy descriptions, go check out Jaded Alt's blog.
  2. Did all of your raid members know their personal special role to be fulfilled, if any?
    "OK, someone needs to kite the adds, and I need two of you to click the chains" does not fulfill the above. Why? Because it doesn't assign a specific person to a specific task. Thus, no personal accountability. "Someone else will do it...." all your raiders think quietly to themselves. And then, no one actually does it.
  3. Did your raid team actually execute the strat?
    Now this is where things can get heated. But answer this honestly: did folks actually play out their roles as requested? Or did they do something sorta similar, but not quite the same? If the latter, then the strat hasn't actually been tried out and deemed unworkable for your team. I saw a lot of this in ICC. FOlks claiming we needed a new strat for Rotface and Festergut when in fact, multiple folks were not even coming close to executing the decided upon and communicated strat.
  4. Have you spent some time using the strat, and not gotten close?
    OK you're executing the strat perfectly, but you're not getting closer than 35% on the boss, ever. That's when it's time to take 5 and evaluate what your issue is. Are your healers overtaxed? Is someone standing in the fire? Is there a sub-10k DPSer in the raid? Is someone talking on the phone while raiding? Try to isolate the failure points. And NOW, you're ready to change up the strat. If you're getting down to less than 10% each time, however, you need to work on your close, not change up the strat.

 In my five+ years of playing this game, and coming up on my five-year anniversary of the first time I set foot in Molten Core, I've found that the most important factor in raiding success has been practice. Having the same folks playing the same role, over time, is what makes raids go more smoothly and efficiently. The more practiced we become in our roles, the better we get at them. What once felt like a chaotic fight eventually feels like a well-orchestrated ballet, with every raid member playing her part.

So the next time you get the itch to change up the strat for a fight your team is just learning, please just pause for a moment and determine if that's really necessary, or if you are just unnecessarily stressing out your raiding team.

Resources

For my Alliance guild, I compiled a list of Jaded Alt's posts on Cataclysm Raid strats, because they really are that good. Here it is for your reference:

BoT


BWD


Throne of the Four Winds