Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's that?

Altoholic decided to sketch, haven't done this in a long time.

Mr. Paladin seems surprised or entranced by something. I was thinking about it just being some sort of magical orb or some sort of invention, however, I'm tempted towards sketching one of my other characters (the non-speaking hunter) pouting at him and the object he's looking at being... an adolescent feline, or several. The unspoken question, "Can we keep them?"

He could also be looking at a gem, an engineering trinket, or casting a healing spell (but not flash of light, he never casts flash of light).

What is that?

Back to the Healing

In the past day or two I've begun running my assorted characters through the random heroic.

  • 13/23 - Hunter: I haven't had any trouble. I still feel like I'm sucking at it but my character does ok.
  • 17/23 - DK1: I'll only do randoms as a tank if I'm with my guild. I run as dps otherwise and suck it up but I haven't gotten vote-kicked.
  • 10/23 - Druid: My druid is amazingly undergeared but has some TOC normal epix and some PVP gear. I healed a speed run with little effort.
  • 14/23 - Shaman: I healed a run on my shaman with little effort or complaints.
  • 2/23 - DK2: Got comments from people because the character isn't in all epics. First heroic was oculus, the tank / leader told me to stay on my drake for the boss that does the lightning arcs, because apparently no epics + boa weapon = inexperienced moron. I did not die to the stupid on any fight in said instance.
The hunter has done the weekly heroic. I don't know his exact badge count. I also don't know the DK1's badge count, but he has done part of the new ICC instances with the 6 free frost badges.

The shaman, druid, and DK2 haven't done the icecrown instances or the weekly raid. It is possible that I could pull off doing some of those on the weekly raid depending on which raid it is.

This week it's the second boss in TotC10. My shaman could do it, but not the druid or DKs. I have lots of work to do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guild Recruiting: There has to be a better way - Redeux!

I was catching up with an old friend and I mentioned unto him this blog. He commented on my entry about guild recruiting, and how it would be so much easier and more successful with the proper tools to do so. Also thought that my idea would be capable of applying not only to WOW but to other places as well, and that it sounded like an idea for a social network.

I wanted to elaborate a bit more on the idea and how it would work just to write it down.

Playtime
One of the most important things to do when trying to match someone to a group is find schedules that match. I've seen a lot of sites do this with timezones and they don't always seem to work well and they make searching a pain.

The first thing a registering member would do, aside from register, validate e-mail address, jab at captcha, etc, would be to enter their timzeone and their full playtime.

Time values should be stored in military time at the GMT timezone and then converted and displayed accordingly. When someone enters their timezone, all dates and times for everything listed when they're searching will be listed as the time in their own timezone.

A guild that raids on Wednesday morning at midnight would appear as raiding on Tuesday at 11PM for someone in Central, 10 for Mountain, 9 for Pacific. If someone chooses to search for a guild, at this point the algorithm should pull up all guilds that have core activities based in the players playtime range. Default sorting would probably be if the entire mandatory raid time would fit or if only some of it would, then progression would be listed.

A guild registering could enter their core and optional playtimes and other related stuff. I would assume that optional play not matching a potential recruit's playtime isn't a bad thing because it's optional. Progression would be entered.

Values
Different people enjoy different things and have different priorities. Different people will put up with different things for the sake of progression. I've met players who are in raiding guilds that are completely miserable because of how they're treated.

A registrant could take a quiz or something that asks them a bunch of questions to determine what they value most and to determine their play intensity.

Some players may not care about atmosphere or guild climate so long as they're killing bosses and getting loot, while others would want to be among others with common interests. determining which elements have which weight for different people would ultimately effect how things are sorted and delivered to the user.

I would probably stay away from terms like 'hardcore' in favor of 'progression' or 'relaxed' 'low stress'. I know some players on a casual schedule who are extremely hardcore when it comes to skill, and some 'hardcore' people that suck more than 'casuals' do.

Interests
A'la LiveJournal, users could add in interests. They'd get a tag cloud and be able to see other users with the same interests. It's possible that a matching algorithm could be applied on a user to user basis to let users find gaming friends outside of a guild structure.

Players in guilds could also sign up and 'join' their guilds on the site. Like on wowheadhunter, personalities can be calculated. Interests could be displayed as well with tag clouds where the bigger the word the more people that have a particular interest.

You could find a guild full of goons or btards or furries (or all three existing in harmony) who enjoy dividing by zero, comicbooks, drawing, anime, blogging, alting and tragic canoeing accidents.

Playtimes other than the guild listed playtime, like, individual member playtime could be graphed somehow showing if people are on earlier or later.

Depending on someone's value, a guild with lower progression but higher similar interests and personality could show up on the recommended list for someone seeking a guild.

Progression and a guild's ability to clear stuff requires people, without people guilds can't progress very well. One or two more good players may be all some of the 'not as progressed' raids need, and the right environment, attitude, and interests could attract those people.

Fun for Guild members
It's possible that guild members could have fun with this as well. It'd let players break the ice with each other. Two people might have a common interest and not even realizing it.

I didn't realize just how much into Anime members of my raid were until we were running through a FoS and one of them mentioned watching Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, and the conversation from there evolved into everyone talking about their favorite shows, new ones, old ones, suggesting stuff to watch to each other.

Mentioning "Rune Soldier" prompted a response of "Louie Punch!" from one of my guildmates. I just about died.

It could make existing guilds a healthier place, too.
It could be made into some form of fun social network, too.


Unfortunately I fear the CPU power required to make such a keen site would probably make Dreamhost bitch-slap me and tell me to get a far more expensive dedicated hosting plan instead of my colocation plan. This means that the service would not be without either advertisements or premium membership. Perhaps member to member matching could be a premium membership feature. Perhaps it could be wired in a way that people's 'membership' stuff went straight towards account credits somehow.

For legal reasons, it'd be best that if I were to pursue some project to incorporate myself, which means talking to laywers and other fun crap.

Glee.

Rambling - ROBIEOETSRPCDU - Alphabet soup!

And now I ramble on moving from topic to topic...

Last week I didn't balance out the raiders in my guild for two ICC10 runs because of the holidays. I didn't know who would be around and who would be away so I grabbed people that wanted to go and we went in and punched it. Little did I know that more people wanted to go and that our second group wouldn't do as well. Part of that was that I just suck on my hunter but it's also partially due to mains that were preforming lower than my huntar. (There's no excuse for 900 dps on the boss. Evar.)

My hunter didn't do well, but was 3rd out of 5 on DPS for Marrowgar and when one of our dps had to drop I went up to second. I'm beating myself up over my hunter's suck and am working on figuring out what I'm doing wrong and how I can do better, but it's still a bad bad place for my guild that I'm in third place. This means that my alt is outplaying other people's mains, and my alt isn't the only one doing this. The difference between me and the other two dps that were low was that I didn't die to the fire and that I did target people that were boned and nuked them out as fast as possible.

With this in mind, I am now working on gearing my Hunter (so I don't suck) and my DK tank (for fun) at the same time. I'm also working on bettering my main, the Healadin, by shuffling through all my alts and getting ready to run the daily random heroic every day for 12 days straight. I may also hop the weekly raid when possible. My mission? To replace my iLevel226 crafted boots. I need 6-7 Primordial Saronite, one for the bullets pattern (so I can create both, yay), one for the blacksmithing pattern, and five for the actual crafted item. That's right, I'm using my alts to better my main. Altoholic advantage right there, but I digress.


My raidlings suggested that I split the groups more evenly so everyone can get a chance to kill the bosses (and so we don't get all of the lower geared / inexperienced players in one team). To this, I agreed. That's been my intention the whole time, but holidays come around and I'd rather get one group through than hold up raids and not go because people show up missing and have zero raids clear.

So I mentally worked out in my head who should go where and for what so we would have a good strong balance, with the less experienced slower learning players spread out. I slotted myself and another experienced players alt into spots for one of the runs so we knew we had some ok hitters who at least knew what they were doing.

When I arrived home from work, I heard that it was implied in guild chat that people were upset about alts going to raids over mains. It was pointed, once again, in the direction of the altoholics of the AA guild. In particular, I think it was pointed towards myself and one other raider, whose alts have been demonstrated as running equal to or slightly ahead of some of our slower players mains.

The other alotholic for whom this was pointed at was pretty disheartened and resigned himself to sit out for the night. I pondered the setup of groups and arranged to have a different paladin healer, a regular guest, go in my place, and also resigned myself to the bench. (We're usually, literally, found sitting on the bench just inside the door of the north bank in Dalaran on the left hand side. So we were, quite literally, on the bench.)

I put together the group, using my hunter as the invite source. I grabbed two tanks, three healers (one of whom was going on a trip today so had to go with that group), two strong melee dps, one dps dps shaman who could go melee or ranged (he has a level 1 humanoid and can't play all the time), and had two ranged spots. I gave the tanks promotions, set them as tanks in ora, threw them leader, left who they'd bring as their two other ranged up to them, and had them go ahead and roll out. I told them to grab the flasks from the bank and shooed them down to one of the raid channels.

They did ask if altoholic tank and I wanted to bring our warlock and hunter. I privately noted I wasn't feeling too hot, and was pretty down on myself for my poor performance on my hunter, that I feel he's not ready for ICC yet. I also explained that people were bitchin' about others bringing alts, and that the tank and I would try to get a pug on our alts later, but that we were fairly content with the bench. The response I got from the players was that the complainers would just have to deal with it.

They wound up taking one of our slower players and a regular from a TotGC10 a handful of the team has been doing. (I've not gone for my own reasons.) I would assume that if the regular guest hunter was in there in TotGC and could beat the dps requirements for Northrend Beasts that they're probably good enough to make up for the slowness of the less experienced player.

I sat on the bench for a while. I kinda wanted to go because I loved raiding, and moreover, I was one frost badge away from my pretty new shoulders. I brooded for a few minutes and wondered if I did the right thing and questioned my own motivations and desired outcomes.

  1. I did make my best honest effort to give them a reasonably stacked group so they could succeed.
  2. I tried to keep groups of players (friends, significant others, etc) together for maximum happy and comfort in raid.
  3. At the same time, I also gave an honest effort to slot the people who could only make it that night. Level 1 humanoids and trips overseas happen sometimes.
  4. I attempted to appease the anonymous complainers by not slotting well geared alts of experienced players over others mains, even if those mains weren't as effective.

  • I genuinely wanted the group to succeed, I really genuinely and sincerely want to have two strong teams capable of clearing 10 man ICC.
  • I feel like I am being pushed to include some of our slower learning players on progression by other members, members whom I suspect are subject to listening to players complaining about how unfair things are and sympathetic.
  • I feel like when I include them others get frustrated by their poor performance, and players get frustrated at me for including them.
  • I wanted the decision to bring a player with sub-par performance to be up to the other players rather than me, so I am not the target of blame and frustration.
  • I kinda wanted others to learn what it's like to lead and have to make these tough decisions and learn for themselves why I do what I do. There is a method to my madness.
  • I'm tired of being made out to be the bad guy and getting hate for benching people. Seriously, one of my raiders spoke of me to my fellow raiders, in my presence, and said they wanted to throw me in a fire because I wasn't benching a regular to take them when they happened to feel like showing up.
I phantomed down to listen to what was going on at one point during the night and they were wiping on Saurfang. I cheered for them in gchat, listened to their last attempt on Saurfang, which was a really close wipe, and frowned. I was pretty sad and hoping for them to get it on their last try.

My brooding session didn't last most of their instance. It only lasted a few minutes and after over-thinking and worrying, one of my players who wasn't going expressed interest in the weekly raid. I collected the players that weren't in ICC10 and wound up with 8 people. We pugged a strong rogue from another raiding guild we're on friendly terms with, and one of my players found a willing holy paladin.

Gleeful, the pug healadin was one whose name I have on my friends list. They were one of the people who seemed to, according to wowprogress, disappear from the roster of a guild I used to be in around the time that one of my critics was bragging about gkicking people and implying I was a bottom feeder. Former GL critic has a tendency to trash talk former members, he did it when I was there, he probably does it about me too. The person probably was unsure about us when he realized I was leading the raid, likely having heard trash-talking of me.

Regardless, we went in and cleared the instance with little issue, and the paladin happily got several tank offset upgrades and the shield off of Anub by default. We gemmed and enchanted it too, and in the end he thanked me for the run, said he had a good time, to friend him (way ahead of him there), and if we ever needed a healer again to let him know, he'd be happy to run with us again. I gave him our friends and family chat channel that I send out calls on before looking externally, and he went on his merry way.

Hit a heroic on my tiny DK then went and ran with members of the group that went into Icecrown for them hitting the weekly raid on my hunter. They asked for anyone before they went to trade so I went along. Vent was quiet. Either people were tired or in an upset mood, and it's probably upsetness at me. =(


As a guild leader and a raid leader, I try do the following things:
  • Recruit - I spend time recruiting new people. I give them attention, welcome them, make sure they have what they need and have direction.
  • Organize - I schedule events and herd cats to go to them.
  • Balance - I choose who goes what what group so that things will be balanced. This can be pretty hard. Do I take everyone and spread our strongest players across two groups or do I make one really solid group and push progression?
  • Invite - I invite people to the raids.
  • Explain - I explain the strategies.
  • Observe - I observe what happens, what people are doing.
  • Evaluate - I evaluate how people are doing and what's going on.
  • Troubleshoot - I troubleshoot what went awry.
  • Solve - I present solutions to problems.
  • Reiterate - I reiterate important things that might have caused a wipe (like, seriously, spread out on Saurfang. Seriously don't let the beasts touch you, it's really really important).
  • Praise - I praise people when they do well.
  • Congratulate - I celebrate the success of the raid.
  • Diffuse - I try to difuse trouble and conflicts before they get out of hand.
  • Unruffle - And I try to unruffle feathers of people who are upset.
Sometimes I don't succeed, but I try, and that's really all I can hope to do.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guild Recruiting: There has to be a better way.

I've been following the exploits of an Alliance player on my server whom is hated due to douchebaggery long past. He can't find a guild and he's shooting himself in the foot by looking down at guilds that are smaller. He's so concerned with size, progression, and raid time that he isn't thinking about a home at all... and probably won't find one.

In my WOW gaming career I've been a part of 5 different raids and four different guilds, two of them were run by me. In both cases where I've operated guilds, we've been late to enter the playing field and struggling to reach critical mass. It's been easier with WotLK to keep and run a raid group, what with being able to remain small and run 10 man content, but finding people to go from 10 to 25 man content is immensely challenging.

Of course, 10 man raiding gets looked down upon on our server as being 'casual' and not as important. Having done 40, 25, and 10 man raiding, I'd have to say 10 man is definitely the hardest of the bunch and least respected.

With 40 man raiding, you were, theoretically, 2.5% of the total raid. Some raiders may have contributed 3.5% and others may have contributed 1%, but the total added up to 100%.

With 25 man raids each player contributes 4% to the total raid. Some may do 5% or 6% and carry others who are doing 1%. I've seen 25 man raid content cleared with 20 good people.

With 10 man raids each player contributes approximately 10% to the raid. It's much harder for a 10 man raid to carry multiple people who don't shoulder their own weight. (My group has been discussing doing a 5-6 man Naxx run with some of our most competent players.)

We really have to be on our A game when we want to really clear new content, we don't have the luxury of slacking or carrying folks as much, we have to be on our A game. I have to say to people, "Sorry, you don't do enough DPS and we want to clear new content this week" and bench them. I also have to deal with hurt feelings and others getting upset at me over me benching their friends. I hate to be the bad guy

A 10 man raider running equivalent content to a 25 man raider works 6% harder for inferior gear and no respect. If I could collect 5-10 more players who are capable of being 10% of a raid, and combined them, it's theoretical that we could be a 25 man raid that works harder than a normal 25 man raid, perhaps one that even gives people a run for their money and pushes server firsts.

But I digress... back on subject.

I frequent probably every guild recruitment tool out there, searching desperately for new players to invite to my community. While I've found some very good assets, the number of assets I've successfully collected is minuscule compared to the amount of information I've shuffled through.

When I read entries on WOWlemmings, I see people in badge gear want 25 man raids in ICC when they've never seen Kel'Thuzad or Yogg-Saron die. People want to be carried and geared out instead of working for it themselves.

Wowheadhunter can show personality types, others (world of raids, wowraid, wowmatcher) can show progression and raid times but seem to fudge timezones or aren't smart in matching.

What if there were a way to intelligently and automatically match players to groups, less searching and shuffling and hoping.
Not just by progression or raid time, but by values, interests, and personality too.

Imagine if finding a guild was like coming home, to a place, a community, among friends where you feel you actually belong. With people who you enjoy spending time with.

Imagine progression while being happy and having fun with people you find fun.

There's got to be a better way. If there's not, one must be made.
Once again I wish I were a programmer so I could make such a thing a reality.

Friday, December 25, 2009

LFG-Phobia

After an evening of farming ICC25 for rep on my hunter, and blowing 2500g, my hunter now has maxed out engineering and can make the epic arrows. Yeay.

I checked my Frost badges on my Paladin and I'm pretty close to a piece of tier gear, so my favorite tank and I hopped into a random heroic to put me a little closer, the heroic was DTK.

We wound up with a group of DPS pugs, one of which who was asking us to skip the 'optional' bosses, the other off whom was complaining about things going slow (I threatened to put on my RP gear and NPC walk the rest of the instance). We ignored the requests to skip bosses because badges are very useful, the person who was asking us to skip was still sporting some 213 gear.

After killing King Dread, one of the DPS got all uppity. He or she started yelling at my tank for 'sucking', not taunting, etc.

I politely pointed out that as Paladin tanks get more geared up, they begin to go through mana starvation, which makes it harder for him to generate threat. I mean, I've tanked things on my Paladin and I suffer from mana starvation and this tank's got gear far superior to mine, I can only imagine his pain. I have to sit down and drink once every few pulls when tanking.

I also pointed out that tanks shouldn't have to taunt, that taunt isn't a part of a tank's regular threat rotation as taunt does not build agro. If he's having to taunt, it's because someone else is being too overzealous.

I also pointed out that the DPS should wait for the tank to get agro (wait for one consecrate) and to assist off the tank for the proper kill target, neither of which this DPS was doing. They still insisted we suck, when in actuality, he was the one being bad.

I said on vent, "I'm not going to heal this jerk warlock anymore." Our tank relayed that. I noticed the locke seems to lifetap his health down and expects a heal, I can just let him die. I put on my tier 2 gear and sit around looking pretty while listening to the locke egobitch. The tank does the same. We're standing around looking fabulous watching this jackass make a jerk of himself.

At that point the jackass pulls the next set of mobs, saying that he's going to get us killed. He says, "We'll see who dies." The tank DIs me and says, "Oh, I killed myself" and I stood there in the bubble happily in my fabulous mishmash of judgement and wrath epics. We waited, and the locke ran around in circles trying to run out of the instance, away from the mobs he'd agroed in his unsuccessful retaliative attempt to kill us.

One of the other players left, the warlock died, and we vote-kicked him and got two new DPS. One of them was a fury warrior in welfare epics (200s, 219s) from heroics and was complaining about his repair bills when he died to the stupid.

The instance was cleared and we moved on with our lives.

But this experience leaves me very apprehensive. If our TotC10/Totc25 geared MT is too 'suck' to tank heroics, what treatment am I going to get next time I'm in a heroic on my tiny DK tank who's wearing gear appropriate for the instances (blues with a few epics).

I'm starting to get terrified of looking for group because I don't want to have people abuse me to detract attention from their own personal shortcomings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tales of the Baby Tank: Part 1

So far, my general experiences on my death knight tank, aside from being grouped with guild, have been absolutely horrible. It's no wonder why tanks are in such short supply: Gearing one up without the support of a group of friends willing to help you go through heroics-n-stuff is amazingly terrible.

I'm pretty discouraged, I don't even have my first piece of tier gear yet.

Unlike players who have been 80 for a while, my character is a fresh 80. I do not vastly outgear the instances I'm running. This requires people to not suck and play intelligently.

I've gone so far as to make a generic and very snarky macro of assholism for the sake of tanking.
The macro pretty much says that my character is a new tank and that people should utilize basic wow skills and do things like wait for mobs to reach the tank before doing AOE and assisting off of the tank for kill targets. Snarky macro also includes a 'you spank it you tank it' clause and encourages the healer to not heal people who pull agro of their own stupid (aoeing before the mobs reach the tank).

My observations so far:
  • Groups of people want to go go go. They're in a rush. I don't like this. As a tank or healer, I'm tanking / healing until combat ends. I'd like to loot.
  • People DPS before the tank has agro.
  • People DPS before the mobs reach the tank, regardless of the layout of the pulls and their difficulty. (Some of the early FoS pulls are obnxoious.)
  • People get pissed off if they die because of DPSing before the tank has agro.
  • Overzealous DPS of the plate variety (warriors, mostly) snottily ask if I have a DPS spec the first time they die from whirlwinding before I have agro established. (They assume incompetence on my part, when it's actually .)
  • A majority of rogues don't know what Tricks of the Trade is.
  • Hunters seem to have lost their Misdirect button.
  • It's hard to turn off growl.
  • Paladins seem to fail at having Pallypower and buff reagents. If I get a 10 minute buff without good reason, I'm going to want to votekick. I actually ran into a Paladin who REFUSED to buff when I was on my healadin. They didn't get heals. :)
I'm hoping that while my character is in blues that people realize that I'm communicating properly with the language of gear. (I haven't been vote-kicked yet, so I think it's understood.) Every piece of gear I have is gemmed and enchanted appropriately. The only thing I'm missing is the epic bop JC gems, I need to do one more JC daily before I have the pattern I need, though putting them in my blues is silly, gonna hold off for some happy tier.
  • I'm raid defense capped.
  • I've got a decent spec.
  • I've got decent glyphs.
  • I'm using the correct gems.
  • I'm using rare gems in rare gear.
  • I'm using epic gems in epic gear.
  • My gear is enchanted appropriately.
  • I have a rare quality leg armor kit on my crafted rare pants.
  • I have helm and shoulder enchants.
I'm told tanking will get easier as I get more gear, but getting started as a tank sucks without friends.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twin Tanks go!

My tiny DKs are now all grown up and on the path to their career as tankytypes.

My first instance tanked was a non-heroic Forge of Souls.
I had a killer hard time holding agro, partially because of inexperience / gear, and partially because the other players failed at the basic idea of attacking the target that the tank is building threat on.

I didn't get vote-kicked and didn't die to the stupid. I got a 219 chestpiece and less than optimal 219 boots (block boots, bah). My plan at this point is to farm Forge of Souls until I have two tanky weapons off the first boss.

Trimph-badge wise I'll probably go straight for t9 shoulders, helm, gloves, boots, and chest. I may collect trimph badges on alts periodically to get enough crusader orbs (I think I threw 5 in the guild bank) to make a nice tanky chestpiece and bracers.

I've been told the tanking will smooth out once I have better gear. I'm hoping that's the case.

One of my guildmates was picking my brain about alting last night. He asked me what I was going to level next, or if I was planning on leveling anything, and if I level my alts for the sake of making money from them as they level.

I told him if I level any more of my alts, it'll probably be for the sake of being able to pick up Cataclysm level professions, that for now I'm going to focus on the six eighties I already have, mastering them, and getting them respectable before I create any more feeps to distract myself with.

When I do decide to level things, I have four immediate choices:
Rogue or Warrior with Priest or Mage.

With one more level, the mage can make portals, so I may push that one level out just for the sake of transportation.

The rogue is my leatherworker and could benefit from being higher level and leveling her skinning.

The warrior's my blacksmith but I have no real reason to level her, she's maxed out with her professions... though tanks are in need and I don't think this is changing any time soon. I'll likely have an easier time getting instant queues for stuff on this character than others.

My priest was one of my main focus characters in BC behind my hunter and paladin, she along with my warrior were my mains for the first half of BC. My dedication to the healing side of the game makes me feel inclined to level and play this character so I am up to date on the healing side of priests. I can't really be an insane multi-class grasping healy-person without actually brushing up on my priesting.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Of Authenticators, Icecrown, and Altoholic Advantages

Authenticators

Back in mid BC I had two of my raiders, officers no less, get hacked. They were real life roommates, they did share their accounts and computers with each other but it's not like they don't know where the others live, but two of them had their keys get logged.

The third roommate went to log into his roomie's account to make an armor kit and got a 'wrong password' notice. Called the roomie up at work to check the info, it was correct, they went through a password restore but to no avail. We demoted the character down to being locked out of bank access.

We did not detect, however, that the third roommate's account was compromised until it was too late. I was healing Heroic SL when he logged in, in the middle of the last boss. I noticed he didn't log into our 'friends of' chat channel and knew immediately it wasn't the real him.

The GL crown was on an alt and I had to finish the boss fight before I could log over and demote him. By the time I did it was too late and our enchanting mats and other valuables were gone.

I spent the next two weeks dealing with a large number of very upset players and it took me raging on the customer service forums for us to get our stuff restored.

I jumped on an authenticator as soon as I could and have encouraged all my players who have the money free in this recession to do the same. Access to the bank is now more restricted, though some unauthenticated officers people could steal 5 stacks of stuff. No longer will I have to fear unruffling feathers.

Icecrown
We hit Icecrown the thursday after it came out. We wiped on Marrowgar 10 times before giving up. He was hitting insanely hard, nearly killing the tanks on the way in, cleaving saber lash like crazy. After the bone storm the tanks would get instagibbed, faster than a hasted holy light, if I got boned the tanks would get smashed to death in seconds. I felt terribad.

I gained information from chatting with people on forums that supposedly he was dealing 25 man level damage in 10 man, that fixing the tuning or something was forgotten.

A few days later a few of my players went along as guests on another run that cleared it, one of the tanks that went who wasn't on our attempt was talking down to me telling me it was us being bad, not because the encounter was broken.

(Said tank wound up gquitting to go join the people he went as a guest for, GL of said group has tried to poach several of my members and is banned from my vent and have told my players about the poaching jackassery and encouraged them to avoid members of this other guild. Said tank left his rogue in guild and asks to still hang out in vent because his new lolhardcore 10 man guild doesn't allow their vent to be used for anything but raiding. I've been too nice to tell him to go eat a dick. Ahhh diplomacy.)

Apparently it had been debugged at some point, probably before the pug.

We went back in monday night before the reset and smashed Marrowgar with a one-shot then attempted deathwhisper. I got a pretty plate skirt. ^_^

Wednesday we went back in and roflstomped it.
Last night we got a few who didn't get to go earlier + alts and did the first two bosses. Yeah, ICC alt run, it's like that.

I've used this leverage for recruiting and immediately filled 2/7 spots. All I have left to get is a moonkin, a ret, an enh shaman, a holy priest, a MS warrior or combat rogue.

Altoholic Advantage
I have two engineers. I'm farming rep on both.

I have four eighties I can do the random daily heroic on for frost badges.

By the time I have rep on both my engineers to get the ammo (as soon as next week) I should have enough frost badges to buy the currency to get the pattern.

Engineering + Honored + Alts with Frost Badges = Profit

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gear Fallacy

Gevlon has been talking for quite some time about gear being a fallacy, the whole clearing Ulduar in blues and looking at clearing all WotLK content in blues is pretty badass. I find it somewhat inspiring, and I've been thinking about doing this for a while but keep deciding not to.

Today I did it. I was running random heroics to help a friend of our guild gear up an alt so she can play with us, there's no harm in running heroics to do so, it's pretty darn easy. And we get into our random instance, Heroic Culling of Strat with a pair of people from another server.

One of the non-server players commented that she felt bad being around people in such good gear compared to her own. I exclaimed unto her something to the extent of, "Gear is a fallacy. Did you hear some people cleared Ulduar10 in blues? Hell, I'll do the rest of this instance in my RP gear."

So I slapped on the RP gear (6/8 Paladin T2 + engineering tank goggles + Hand of Rag), then slapped on my regular healing mace, my shield, a belt (I'm missing the Judgement belt), and kept right on healing.

One of the PUGs said that my average iLevel in my RP suit was 165. For reference, that's about the average level of loot from Violet Hold regular. Mind you that I wasn't wearing a healing helm and Paladin T2's itemization is absolute crap, so 165 is generous, it was probably much lower when it comes to beneficial stats.

We did just fine. I did slap on my regular suit for the gauntlet simply because I wasn't sure if the pugs would get agro, nor if I had enough power to heal one of them through undead agro. We had... 6 or 7 minutes left on our timer. A wipe would have lost the drake, but since one of them had mentioned interest in getting a mount, implying that they'd not been in groups that had completed the timed run before.

One of them did get the dragon and I chatted it up with them briefly afterwards. I invited them to come chat with me on our server and said I'd try to /friend them when the battlenet changes go live that will let us talk across server.

Regardless of if I ever get to talk to them again or not, I'm fairly sure that the heroic run where one of them got a drake and got healed by a crazy belf in T2 is one they won't soon forget.

I'm thinking I should do a whole bunch of pug runs in that gear just to record the reactions... I'll probably grab a guildling or two so I can't be vote-kicked. I'll probably do the gear with a few tweaks (enchants, a slight regemming so I'll still have my meta bonus (2% int) and wearing the 232 judgement helm instead of the level 72 epic goggles).

This is going to be fun.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When ignore fails...

The AA guild has taken over a corner of the north bank in Dalaran around one of the benches. It's not uncommon for our members to be found lingering in that general area. It was late and I sat on the bench on my hunter, alt-tabbed over to my Paladin. I got daring and listed myself as "tank" "healer" "leader" and threw myself into the random heroic queue and got Oculus (FML!). One of our tanks and a disc priest that runs with us sometimes were there with me to witness what unfolded.

An alt of my former guild leader (whose guild I am now in direct competition with) and some other person in another guild were talking about their guild related stuff. Said former colleague commented about how they hadn't cleared the first wing of ICC25 yet because he'd /gkicked a bunch of people. Jokes were made at my expense for leading pug raids and that I might 'pick up' the people that got /gkicked.

I usually have his alts on ignore, I just happened to overlook that one alt on my one alt. He sat there and talked crap and threw flares and volleys at my character, who sat idly on the bench. I gave no response or reaction, give him no satisfaction, and I told the friends sitting there onlooking to do the same. So we sat there, above it all, minding our own business.

Eventually I tired of the unentertaining ego-blabber flooding my screen (at least trade is entertaining) and slapped ignores on the annoyances. After finishing my OC run (FML!) I hopped on out and spent a few moments pondering.

I realized: This former leader of mine has forgotten his own roots. He used to be a bench warmer for a large, very progressed, raiding guild on that server. One that everyone made fun of behind his back. He got started leading pug Karazhans and eventually made his own guild. He even had his own channel for raids, "raidleadersnamekara" or something. I joined his raid when they were struggling (and having to pug a few) to do T5 content, as in the first week I was there, they only ran Kara. They had to pug people in for T5 stuff.

Maybe I will bottom feed and take in a few of those people who got gkicked (or more likely exodused because they got sick of the crap) and finally inflate my team to be large enough for 25 mans. Maybe in doing so we could surpass this other guild in progression. Wouldn't that be ironic?

He can talk shit about me in public all he wants. My team has fucking amazing PR.

He gkicks people, treats them like dirt and uses them to better his own gear and ego. He lacks basic understanding of his class, trash talks ex-members in raid--he did it when I was there, he probably does it about me too. If they take guests to their runs they make up rules on the spot to deny outsiders gear.

My guild, on the other hand, works with people, gears them, teaches them, turns non-raiders into raiders, operate fairly, gem and enchant all gear won on our runs. We don't yell, or scream, and aren't terribly destructively negative (unless I'm exclaiming how much I suck at healing TotGC). We don't trash talk ex-members, especially not during raids, we welcome anyone to our raids regardless of guild so long as they're not douchebags. (We have alts from other raiding guilds, including the one the ex-GL was a bench warmer for and alts from ex-GL's guild, attending our runs.)

Those players he /gkicked will be fanning out to other guilds, probably spreading the bad word. Meanwhile, the players we've helped fan out to other guilds, spreading the good word.

When progression becomes equal, who will stand strong and who will fall?

There's a reason why my personal mantra is, "Never ever underestimate me."

PS: My DKs are now 79.

Friday, December 11, 2009

WOW Guilds as an attention economy

Several years ago, a real life acquaintance said unto me, "Attention is the currency of the future." He's said this to many other people over the years, often at game industry panels, and it applies quite well to online communities.

The AA guild consists of 15-20 different people who interact with each other on a regular basis. I wear the 'leader' hat a majority of the times, though some of my more socially aware players occasionally pick up on when I'm distressed or burnt out and organize and operate fun runs with some good enthusiasm and let me have some time to just play.

A WOW guild is an attention economy.

As The Leader™ I pay my guildlings with attention.
  • I run heroics and raids with them.
  • I chat and be social with them.
  • I praise them when they do well--but I don't overdo it.
  • I thank them when they're helpful.
  • I invest time in them if they're behind.
  • I try to unruffle feathers and smite drama before it goes overboard.
  • I listen and remark.
Unfortunately, sometimes I get spread thin. I work on detecting which players within my group are self assured and worry less about giving them attention and worry more about those who need the encouragement. I still thank the more self-assured players, however, they don't need it and may fall into similar attention patterns, lessening the burden on me by making sure that people who may not get enough attention from me will still feel sufficiently welcome and part of the whole.


Sometimes my players behave badly and I intentionally stop paying attention to them. I stop paying them with my attention. This is pretty rare but it's something I'm doing with a few of my less active players at the moment.

Here are a few non-payment cases:
  • Undergeared player "Wants to raid", even sets it as their note (which I removed). They're in Naxx gear, they're not online often, and they don't seem to put effort into getting better. Sure, we've brought alts other players of the same class in equal gear into raids before and had them do just fine, but those were alts of people who'd invested the time and effort to be the best they can and are willing to be flexible. They have skill and experience. Now I would be more than happy to help "wants to raid" but "wants to raid" is mysteriously not around often. "Wants to raid" does not help herself, therefore she gets little attention or help from myself or anyone else. When "wants to raid" wants to actually raid, they can get online and start completing some random heroics.
  • "Le Sigh" is another player I'm currently not paying much attention to. His schedule kinda sucks, he's not always around, and he seems to be playing a bit sub-par. His heart isn't in it. When he is around he expects us to do things for him, to make spots in our raids (bench someone reliable). He will sit around and be all pouty, he also expects us to go out of our way to grab him and involve him. No, I'm not going to call you or go get you out of the channel that makes it so you can't hear anything. Be present, be active, step up your game, and stop with the self pity.
  • "Roleplayer" has some behavior issues and has been drama-queening lately, somewhat due to RL stress and other issues inappropriate to discuss here, which is why I am amazingly patient with this person. Again, another person who has been busy with real life but expects us to drop everything when they're there. They want the guild to run them through stuff instead of using the new LFG tool and seem to get upset that people don't (when people are currently running that and busy). When "roleplayer" is having a tantrum or feeling unhappy he'll go to another channel and complain and drama-queen. When he engages in such behavior and then asks what we're doing, he's probably not going to get an answer, let alone a raid invite. He does occasionally step back, realize he's being a douche, and give sincere apologies for his behavior.
  • "Lag" is a slow learner but generally well meaning. She listens to people and somehow gets caught up in drama. I don't think she's entirely guilty or malicious, but she isn't innocent either. Myself and several of the self-assured folks spent a good deal of time helping her get her DPS to not suck and then her hard drive died. She's now on an old laptop that doesn't run very well and complains about lag. She mopes around wanting raid invites when we're trying to do currentish content and hardmodes. She can't be on her A-game on the machine she's running and in a 10 man raid where we're doing progression or hardmodes we need everyone on their A-game. She sends signals that she wants us to buy her a new one as she doesn't work and for whatever reason turns up her nose at quick temp job suggestions. I think one of her parents is getting her a new drive for the holidays. I've given my sympathy and suggestions, I'm not going to dwell on it, I have two accounts plus a vent server and web hosting to pay for (along with food, gas, insurance, utilities, and rent).
Usually, when I stop paying players with attention, they act out as an attempt to get attention. They may go off and cry to each other or seek attention from other self-assured attention-givers. Sometimes those players come to me about the problem and I tell them point blank what's up and those other players tend to back off as well.

When the badly behaving players find their stunts aren't working and that people are just thinking they're acting like tools and attention whores they step off it and curb the bad behavior and actually get better (or quit).

When their behavior improves attention payments resume.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

What do you think of attention economies in WOW?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's back!

Sometimes a screenshot is worth a thousand words:

Going in blind?

AA is a late night group, I'm talking midnight EST, so with any luck the servers will have stabilized by our raid time.

We have a few options:
We can have an offnight or two, let the servers stabalize, level alts, run heroics.
We can go plow through TotC10 and Naxx10 as speed runs for an easy 30+ badges (bonus if the weekly raid is one of those).
We can go into ICC, there's risks of the encounters being bugged to hell.

If we choose the later, there's another question, do we go in blind or do we go read others' strategies?

Honestly, some of the most fun I've had with encounters is going in completely blind and figuring it out. I remember we cleared Koralon the night he first became available with no DBM or knowledge of the fight, we wound up having one tank solo tank it, and after a wipe I figured out what to shove into my grid to show me who was in fire and needed heals.

In the end, it's up to everyone else. I just hope everything is stable enough to actually let us do something.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dissent in the Altoholics Anonymous Guild

Survival of all or none.
One raindrop raises the sea.
Weapons are enemies, even to their owners.

Give more, take less.
Others first, self last.
Observe, listen and learn.
Do one thing at a time.

Sing every day.
Exercise imagination.
Eat to live, don't live to eat.
Find the light.
-- Code of Dinotopia

My apologies if this is a bit ranty, but I have to get this out there to see what others think of the situation.

As you may have realized, Dear Readers, I refer to my guild as Altoholics Anonymous in this blog not as a thing of ego, but as a majority of my core players have 2+ geared characters. I've previously blogged about how this is beneficial.

It's the beginning of the month and some members of our team are getting their paychecks. One of my players
(our MT)
, as a holiday gift to himself, recently transfered his warlock from Alliance to Horde. The character was almost 80 and had full rest and now has access to BOA items and will probably hit 80 shortly.

Through whispers and IMs, I catch wind that some of my raiders are complaining amongst themselves. The word "selfish" came up, that the player already has a few eighties. They're afraid the new character is going to take their caster loot.

Chances are, this won't happen. It certainly won't happen anywhere that matters, such as raids. Why does it even matter? With the next patch, he'll be able to pug using the new LFG system and go along with me on my planned grind to get "The Patient" title.

If people want to gear out their alts with their free time, so be it. It's none of anyone else's business.

If there's whining then something is wrong and needs to be fixed. The leader in me says that singling out one player is wrong and that if I must impose limits on the number of eighties someone can have in the guild that the limits must apply across the board to all players, especially to me.

But with the accusations of greed and selfishness about someone with their fourth character floating behind my back, I can't help but feel a bit attacked myself, after all, I'm working on 80s #5 and #6 right now in preparation for the patch. If people are whining about one of my raiders leveling a fourth toon, how do they feel about me? I have four at eighty and am leveling too more.

The other altoholics tell me not to feel bad about playing characters other than my main, that no one actually thinks I'm selfish, but this issue arising triggers a huge feeling of doubt. It feels like I'm a bad person for leveling all classes and learning everything I can about them, like I'm a bad person for leveling a second healer to help establish a second ten man raid so no one gets to miss out. I'm a bad person for having a hunter and a pvp druid with epic flying so I can mine and herb even if most of the proceeds do go to providing gems, potions, enchants, and flasks to the whiners.

I level my alts with the idea of helping others. Several others on my team do the same. We provide flexibility to make sure we can suceed no matter what loop gets thrown at us. In essence, we operate under the mantra of Others first, self last. Somehow that is selfish?

Nevermind that I paid for most of the guild bank tabs out of pocket, plus a five tab bank, plus a three tab bank for overflow. Nevermind that many of the supplies in the bank exist because of the assortment of Altoholics and their array of professions.
Gems, Belt buckles, Enchanting materials, Food, Potions, Flasks, Enchanting scrolls? They're all made by using alts. Yet somehow people are selfish for having alts.

To avoid further drama, I've gone ahead and removed all but my four eighties and my enchanter from the guild, all of my lowbie have been kicked. I made a funny by making jokes as I booted each one. This way people can't whine, complain, and call me selfish and greedy for having, leveling, and gearing my alts.

I'll just keep my mining profits, my gems, my enchanting materials, my herbs, my frost lotus, my several titansteel smelts, my epic gem transmutes, my cloth cooldowns, my jewelcrafting dailies on three characters, etc all to myself. Maybe I'll use the proceeds buy a hog or two for my alts.

I'm pretty sad because it's really fucked up that I can't do something I love (alting) while spending time with people I enjoy (in my own guild) because a few members of my online family feel what I do is selfish.

It's a huge bummer and I'm feeling pretty unappreciated.
Hopefully the whiners will get hit by a good clue-by-four when they realize I'm not playing in my own guild because of them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alting in prep for 3.3 and Surprise Hardmodes!

Last week, I predicted to my guildlings that we'd see 3.3 in "three weeks". Ghostcrawler has implied "more than a week, less than a month".

Now I'm hearing that MMO-Champion is predicting it next week. We'll see.

I've decided in my downtime, rather than farm for badges to gear out my characters better (3/4 of them are done anyhow) I might as well just finish leveling my next set of toons to 80.

My death knights are at 75 and therefore are the closest and the obvious choice.
Last night I proceeded to collect 33% or so of a level in about an hour and will likely spend post-raiding time tonight pushing them up to 76. With luck,t hey'll be 80 by the time the patch does drop, or shortly after.

I can play them in my spare time and get them nicely geared out in T9 (which they'll look fabulous in) by having them tank pug heroics using the new LFG system, and save my other toons to run with guildmates.

A funny thing happened in Ulduar the other day...
We had some alts and some people who'd just been returning to the game after eight months of being away. We decided to go into Ulduar and kill some bosses for badges and getting token pieces for people who needed them (or LOLRP for those that didn't). Half the time we lacked Replenishment.

We reached Thorim and split up, it'd been a while since we did him, we sent our druid in the tunnel with me healing, to rogues, and our terribly undergeared newly returned DK (in blues). We made it through the tunnel, popped up, pulled Thorim, and jumped into the Arena.

I beacon one of the tanks and heal the other and begin peeling debuffs and doing other healerish things. I think to myself, "My, I don't recall so many debuffs to peel. People sure are taking lots of damage, they must not be avoiding the stupid. Why's there a blizzard over there... Hey Siff is frostbolting people. Why is Siff in the arena?!? Oh shit!"

We'd engaged hardmode... and it hurt. A lot. Surprise hardmode!

We decided since we could do it, we'd bang our heads against it a few times. Had we filled the under-geared and lagged peoples spots with high DPS and swapped out the alt tankadin and the alt rogue for their mains (tankadin and a hunter, yeay replenishment) we probably would have defeated it. Needless to say the words, "Let's try some hardmodes next week" rang through vent.

Speaking of Hardmodes...

TotGC, ouch.
The guildlings have been carrying on for a while now wanting to do TotGC. I honestly don't think we're ready for it, and I'm certainly personally not ready to heal it with two healers. After TotC10 which we cleared in about an hour, they asked for TotGC and I said, "I'm not comfortable with this, I don't think my skills as a player are up to where they need to be."

We went in anyways and made about five or six attempts on the northrend beasts.

We wiped and wiped and wiped and most, if not all of the wipes, were the result of mistakes on my part, one missed cooldown, one second of beacon being down and having a tank die. All me. In some cases it was the same mistake more than once, meaning I wasn't catching and correcting the mistakes.

I stepped up and immediately took credit for my own fuckups.
I also beat myself up pretty hard over it--Not being able to correct said screwups make me bad... and I don't want to be bad.

It's ok, right?
I warned them I wasn't feeling like I, personally, was ready, right?

I try to lead by example. If I can't fix my mistakes when they're causing wipes over and over again, how can I expect anyone else to get better?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pugging TotC25

So, my guildlings have been pretty bored. I've considered doing an Open 25 man Ulduar run but recently I've attended a few pug TotC25 runs.

I began last week writing rules (and loot rules) that would be applied to such a run. I was planning on doing it next week because people were out of town for the holiday.

Then my guildmates decided we were going to do TotC25 last night and pugged up a team out of trade... at 2am est.

We got a surprisingly good mix of people, several people who were alts of raiders in other guilds, including several from the guild I /gquit due to eight months of poor treatment and being driven insane by a rabid e-skank who flirted her way to healing lead despite having no understanding of any class but holy priest.

We were oversubscribed on holy paladins (four) and shaman, having about 5 of each. While I wanted to bring my Paladin, we were also oversubscribed on healers so I got on... my Huntard. One of the other Healadins got on her resto Shaman.

I had FPS trouble. I am beginning to believe the problem is shaman totems, where more than one shaman is dropping the same totem and the auras trying to overwrite each other constantly. Mental note: Coordinate totems before the raid starts.

We downed the Northrend Beasts, I think on the first attempt. It was a slightly messy kill but it went through alright.

We did ok on Lord J. Got him down on the first attempt.

We downed Faction Champions on the second try. We had to alter our kill order to do it correctly. Priest - Shaman - Holy Paladin - Warrior - Rogue - Shadow Priest - Warlock - Hunter - Mage wound up being the kill order.

We had some difficulty on the twins. I think it took three attempts. We found best results having everyone attack the white one with black auras, and bringing the black one over to the white one, tanking them both on the black portal on the right hand side by the door. I shot the opposite one, misdirecting onto the other tank and soaking up white orbs as much as possible.

We discovered, by chance, that three tanks were ideal on Anub. (haha)
I shot ice out of the sky. It was kinda hard, I need more practice.
Our DPS was really really slow. We went through three submerges before enrage.

Some of the people from my ex-guild were being negative Nancies, eventually we called it because it was like 4:30am server time and people were tired.

We had good healers and tanks, we just needed some stronger DPS. I'll try to get better dps for the planned run, but doing 4/5 from a trade pug at 2am isn't bad at all.

Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranky Open Letters: Part 2

In this addition of Cranky Open Letters the subject is healing, cleansing, and Altoholic's growing prejudice against PUG Discipline Priests.

Dear TotC25 Raid Leaderess,

I attended your open raid on my hunter. Thank you for giving me a chance after I gave you a honest answer regarding my DPS (it's a little low). Thanks for giving me a crown so I could set up targets in oRA2.

You're a healer priest and that's pretty cool. The run was a little rough, especially faction champions, and I think you may be a little lacking on the knowledge of how to properly assign, balance, and utilize your healing core.

There was a healadin or two, a resto shaman, some priests, and I think a resto druid. People left and were replaced with others. Such is the nature of PUG raids. When one of the raid healers left, a discipline priest was invited to the raid, making four priests... and so you changed healing assignments in a way that made me nearly have an aneurysm. I bit my tongue instead.

You told the holy paladin to switch to raid healing.

...

WTF?!?

Seriously, WTF? Why would you do that?
Paladins can only predictably heal single targets. One heal per GCD. They may have a glyph that will let a small splash heal people near the target for holy light, but, really, this isn't good. This isn't the most ideal way to utilize your poor little healadin.

So we got to Faction Champions and were having a miserable time killing the priest/shaman/paladin healer combo. People were dying, a lot, and worse, the enemy healers weren't dying.

I kept shooting the priest on my hunter and noticed that renew and earth shield were on it near constantly. Being a good little huntard I began to shoot the buffs off of the priest every time my tranq shot was up but it wasn't enough.

We wiped and while your guild's MT started yelling incoherently through his muffled mic at people for dying (claiming everyone who died did so because they were not running away from the the enemy team's physical dps) I started doing diagnostics. Adding the occasional snark to point out I was killed by the mage's frostbolts and the warlock's spells that weren't being cleansed from me, I noticed something very interesting.

The disc priest assigned to be mass dispel bitch was first on the cleanses.
My hunter was second with about 35.
Then there was everyone else, 20-30 or so less than me.

The elemental shaman wasn't purging.
The priests weren't dispelling offensively.

I noticed something else: All four priests in raid were Discipline (and you made the paladin raid heal instead of having one of the priests switch to holy, again wtf).

Maybe what your MT's blame-gaming people on vent for not running away wasn't the right diagnostic. Maybe people were dying because there was only one person casting group heals, the lone resto shaman. Maybe if you and two other of those disc priests went and respecced holy, or threw prayer of mending, or made yourself useful by dispeling stuff we wouldn't have wiped until the raid gave up.

There is no excuse for a hunter to beat you on of dispels. That's just fucking shameful.
My guild's DPS DK (who sustained 9k+ dps on that fight) didn't even know hunters could dispel. His jaw went through the floor.

In the end, you asked how many people my guild had that were ready for TotC25 and if we wanted to make a joint effort. I said no thanks, that I'd had bad experiences with guild alliances in the past (the MT in that run pissed off several of my raiders with his blame throwing), but that several of my raiders had more than one character geared if she ever needed a few extra competent people.

Learn how to utilize your healers and tell your MT to keep his maw shut.
-Altoholic

Dear Carried Discipline Priest,

You know me, you got pissed off and gquit on your paladin over this bit of drama.

You were in a pug 25 man Onyxia and maybe a Vault with some of my guildlings after your drama unfolded.

My guildlings told me how they were in this raid with 2-3 holy paladins and you were there. You were asked to heal raid and you refused and complained loudly. How dare the raid leader tell you, the priest, to heal raid when the paladins can do it.

I mean a discipline priest can only heal one person and gave up their ability to change targets or heal more than one person when they specced Discipline, those blasted Holy Paladins should use their AOE helaing buttons.

Oh wait! Nevermind!

Newsflash, princess, you have buttons that allow you to heal parties. Prayer of healing can be targeted on a member in a party and heal them and those around them in that party. You can renew, prayer of mending, holy nova, you can proactively bubble people before predictable bursts of damage come out.

Paladins can play whack a mole with beacon on the tank, however, they still can only reliably heal one target per button press. They are inferior group healers in every regard.

So you have three choices.

You can stop being bad and use your entire toolbox.
You can respec holy and make yourself useful if you can't dump the tankhealer mindset when there are other tank healers who can't do anything but tank heal.
Or you can ask your guild to carry your paladin instead of your priest.

Stop being bad.
-Altoholic

Dear TotC10 Pug Raid Leader,

I attended your run on my hunter. We had to start on the second boss as one of your other friends was already saved, and that was fine.

I got some keen boots, thanks.

Your rules were that we roll random 100, when we win a piece of loot we go down to /random 99.

So we get to Anub and Anguish drops.
I roll a /random 99 and get 97
A DPS DK rolls and gets a 20 something.
A DPS warrior rolls and gets something less than 10.

You give it to the DK because he hasn't won anything yet, even though I rolled higher. What's the point of even letting someone roll if they have no chance of winning? Why not have just said, "One epic per run"?

My guildmates were prying on what dropped, so I linked the loots. I told them that Anguish dropped and that I lost the roll to a DPS dk.

The guildmates were pretty unhappy that I lost due to the weird math thing. Edge of Agony is superior to Anguish for a DPS DK (and other weapons are superior to both. As I understand it, the top DPS DK spec right now is dual wield unholy).

I'm told the weapon is not all that great for a DK and the Agi isn't as beneficial as it would be if the stats on said stick were strength and that it probably would have been a pretty helpful for my little hunter.

I hope the DK gets good use out of the item.

RL, in the future please explain loot clearly. If you're going to ignore rolls once someone has won something, just tell us not to roll and don't get my hopes up.

-Altoholic

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Confessions of a Gender Bender

My first experience with an 'online game' was about ten years ago, the game was but a crude graphical chat with androgynous sprites. People could set their flag as 'male' or 'female' but there was no way without actually checking to see what gender someone identified themselves as.

I identified myself as female, and socialized as many others did. I enjoy a good debate, good logical conversation, and I'm a really blunt, honest person. Blunt, honest, and openly female on the interwebs world translates to 'bitch' and 'outspoken'... as well as being the target of "get back in the kitchen" jokes. I became infamous on the chat, loved by some, hated by others, mimicked by preteens, harassed by insecure guys, stalked by some staff member's creeper boyfriend, you name it.

After a few years I decided to slip under the radar and hang out only with my friends and totally ignore the rest of the population. I've had a much better time since then, but I can't help but wonder if a blunt and honest guy persona would have been received better than my female persona?

When I got WOW, classic, my friends and I all selected a server to seriously level on and began our adventures in the world of Azeroth, I had a decision to make, a very important one: Gender.

I had heard that on games where there was a visual difference between male and female that female avatars were treated differently than their male counterparts, and that people of both genders would choose to play the fairer sex to take advantage of young guys trying to interact with wimmenz on the interwebs.

I chose to make my first character a male troll mage. Only my friends knew my actual gender. I never got onto voice chat. I never told strangers of my gender. I blended in using a male persona. A majority of the people I raided with didn't even realize which character the female voice on vent belonged to when I finally did start talking. When they discovered "cute girl on vent" was ugly male troll mage, they asked me, "Why?"

I answered that I wanted to level and experience the game without handouts or help. That I wanted to do things on my own. I wanted to be viewed as a good player and a cool person before being viewed as female.

As time passed, I discovered that I hated my mage. Mages at the time had to spec into instant arcane explosion and could only create four of the newest type of water per cast. I hated showing up for raids a half hour early to make water for 40 people.

I eventually transitioned to a female troll warrior and a female troll priest.
Though I preferred the warrior, the priest was often used more as healers are a bit more rare than tanks are.

I received mixed reactions. Other female players, friends, and a few open minded people were very supportive of me tanking, while the more gender blinded, and the male tanks of whom I wounded the egos and epeens of... were not so supportive.

While the other tanks would scream and freak out over vent, I'd remain calm when tanking. My first moment to really shine was what appeared to be a wipe on Ony40 where all the other tanks had died, the pickup at the beginning of phase three had gone terribly wrong. I had happened to convince the raid leader to let me take my warrior. With only myself and a fury warrior standing, I picked the dragon up and tanked her.

I calmly requested my warlock friend hand me a healthstone after she does her happy deep breath. As our loud main tank screamed that you can't trade and tank at the same time I received my heathstone just fine. I rocked the stance dance to avoid fears and we fifteen manned the dragon with my warrior, wearing no fire resist and some blues, tanking. The dragon died, I got positive tells saying "You should be our MT, not _", life went on.

In BC my priest became my main, as I'd mentioned before, because healers were more needed and I'm a team player type of person. I played a female troll priest.

People who'd never seen me shine as a tank had little faith or respect for me when tanking, while they seemed to treat me like some sort of delicate (and stupid) flower when healing. I got no respect from anyone outside of my own guild of people, the people that knew me and had some small amount of respect for me as a player.

Our guild's healing core was all priests so I rerolled Paladin. Sick of being patronized by people who could only view me as the fair little healer girl, I opted for my paladin to be male (well, as male as a blood elf can be). I didn't like blood elves. In fact, I've always hated fantasy elves but the wonderful Cam Clarke's voice acting, the flawed nature of Belves, and the amazingly swishy animations hooked me. I wasfabulous!

After having played WOW for five years, I have to say I prefer being one of the guys to being 'that girl'. While some of my female characters get playtime I greatly prefer playing a male.

I put a male persona forward, I use male pronouns when talking about myself in text. I try to be one of the guys. Many people that pug with me get to know me as "that guy who does ___ well", or "that guy who makes bad puns", or "that guy who seems to know all the strategies".

If I talk on vent, I'm not always specific about who I am and people have to tab out and check their vent to connect male character with female voice. If I'm interviewing people from offserver, I encourage them to sit in vent during one of our raids--they meet me as 'leader' rather than 'boobs'.

I'm Altoholic and I'm a closet girl gamer.
I gender bend the other direction.


PS: I'm not interested in you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saronite Shuffle and then some!

Markco posted a brief article about something called the Saronite Shuffle on his blog, which in turn pointed me to an entry written by Carbon, over at A Gnome's Conquest.

The Saronite Shuffle, apparently, is the act of taking and prospecting Saronite, using the green quality gems (red, orange, yellow, and blue) plus bits of crystallized earth to make many shardable green quality rings and necklaces. This is something I've been doing for months, in fact, I blogged about it back in may, particularly about trying to fill up the (now three) guild banks with ore. If you do the Saronite shuffle regularly you might find the macros in it useful.

I had noticed on my last roll through the shuffle that I was getting more dust per disenchant. These other blog entries confirm it, and that makes me happy.

I haven't seen an increase of profit because I don't usually do the Saronite Shuffle to make gold, though it might be a good idea to try and do so occasionally, I do the Saronite Shuffle to keep a well stocked guild bank with enchanting materials and gems.

I have a feeling that Gelvon would probably advise that selling the materials and putting gold in the bank would probably be more helpful, but I'm a packrat and I've found a well stocked guildbank to be pretty helpful.

Since I started keeping a well stocked Guildbank, others have joined in the cause. It's not uncommon to see the bank full of ore, leather, herbs or meat. The end result has been mostly awesome for the guild, everyone is gemmed and enchanted, everyone has potions and flasks and their repair bills subsidized. They have to spend less time doing things they don't want for gold that'll be wasted away on raid costs, and more time hanging out with friends, having fun, playing the AH for profit, etc.

Managing the bank:
Sometimes I open the bank up and I look inside and my head starts to hurt... in a totally awesome way.

Holy fucking meat!
One of our guildlings has been trying to farm Arctic Fur. He's trying to get a business in it going and is fairly unsuccessful. The result is large amounts of Borean Leather flooding one of the bank tabs, and an even larger supply of meat. Delicious meat. As the supply started to increase I began sending it to the overflow bank and it now takes up most of the third tab of the overflow bank. That's a ton of meat!

Between him and me leveling my hunter's gun skills from 0 to 450 in one day, we've committed massive Rhino genocide. Our Rhino Meat count is about 800. Our Chilled Meat supply is somewhere in the 1500s. We've also got a healthy amount of mammoth meat, maybe 500.

The rate at which we acquire meat is faster than the rate we consume said meat for cooking dailies. Something must be done else we'll be consumed by delicious meatstuff. Telling the player to stop contributing would be looking a gift horse in the mouth and is not an option. I appreciate everyone's contributions and the contribution for cooking dailies are great and will assure that our spice will flow for the rest of the expansion.

I've decided to sell it, not vend it, sell it. To do so, I've created a female blood elf hunter with dark skin, big hoop earrings, a slightly stern face, a diamond tipped cane, black hair and pigtails. She wears a lovely black dress. Her name? "Thebutcher". Her game? Providing the meat for your cooking dailies right when they roll over as well as the occasional raiding buff food or pet food.

I'm on a RP server and expect the name to be reported (though it could be played off as a RP nickname so I could win an argument with a gm about it), but I've set her FlagRSP title to say, "Seller of meat." Any RP naming Nazi who tries to give me shit will be roleplayed at... by the Gothic lolita meat vendor from hell offering them four-packs of rhino dogs for 5g.

The meat costs me nothing. I've taken 10g from the overflow bank to use to start my business with. Once I reach 20 I'll put that 10 back and from then start taking gold made and throwing it in the guild bank, which can be redirected to other materials and repair costs.

All that leather:
We acquire a large amount of Borean Leather from the above arctic fur farmer.

I struggle to figure out what to do with it. Sometimes I make it into cheap dust, but with the buff to the Saronite Shuffle we've had a healthy amount of dust.

I've settled on two things:
Our tanks seem to like Heavy Borean Armor Kits, mostly for their gloves. I try to keep a stack of these around.
Dream Shards: Dark Nerubian Leggings and Dark Frostscale Leggings take 4 heavy borean leather and 5 crystalized water. I can't get rid of our eternal water, this will help keep the supply from becoming overboard and replenish our thin supply of Dream Shards (we powerleveled an enchanter and she's been buying all the patterns with our dream shards).

For now, though, I think I'm going to start stashing borean leather in its heavy form to pick up arctic fur from the vendor next patch. I want a healthy full stack of each epic leg kit.

Ore:
We acquire Saronite in bar and ore form, both types are useful. With this ore we usually get eternals and titanium.

Things made from Saronite:
The Shuffle: Prospect. Save blue gems. Turn green gems into bling, and bling into dust.
Belt Buckles: I like to keep a stack of belt buckles laying around.
Dream Shards: Combine seven saronite bars with two crystalized air and get a dreamshard thanks to Deadly Saronite Dirk.

I also keep some bullets laying around using a saronite bar and some of the tons Volatile Blasting Triggers we have from killing salvagable bosses in Ulduar. The number of bow weapons in Wrath is dishearteningly low (I love bows and hate guns due to the noise element) so there's no point in making arrows at this time.

We rarely prospect titanium! Titanium is usually made into Titansteel if there is not at least a stack of 20. Only if we have a stack of 20 Titansteel and 20 Titanium bars might we prospect. We can transmute epic gems and be sure the item we get is the one we want when we want it. With the new patterns coming out, we may stock up to 40 or 60 titansteel so our plate team may get items crafted faster.

All those rare gems?
I distribute rare gems and eternals to an assortment of alchemists who happily make epic gems for the bank. I also give cut gems out to guests on our runs who win gear in our runs and they go to use on alts.

Herbs:
I make the herbs from the bank into potions and flasks with my respective masters.
I rarely make elixirs as most of my raiders wind up using flasks instead, so I don't make them unless they're needed.

Occasionally we end up with too many herbs, or herbs that aren't useful for making endgame related stuff. Those eat the mash of my scribe and become inks which are made into vellums and fortitude buff items.

Enchanting Materials:
All items that are earned in our runs, regardless of the guild tag someone wears, is enchanted by us. (We also provide free rare gems, and may provide epics in trade for an eternal of the appropriate type, depending on our supply.)

I try to keep one stack of Bolts Imbued Frostweave laying around and one stack of normal Frostweave Bolts.

Frostweave, which we get a lot of, winds up being recycled into more dust, into bags to help our new people / alts, or made into Spellweave, Ebonweave, and/or Moonshroud, all of which I am trying to complete a full stack of.

Assets:
The bank has a lot of assets.

Perhaps someday we'll decide to try and use those assets to make some gold and start us up a biker gang. It could be a fun treat for everyone for working so hard. I already have a bike so... 24.

960 Cobalt Bolts
48 Arctic Fur = 480 Heavy Borean Leather post patch
288 Titansteel Bars = 864 Titanium Bars + 288 Fire/Shadow/Earth eternals
300,000 gold

This might motivate me to really work on working the AH. I can du it, right?

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's Wrong with this picture? Survey Says?

The recently race changed Blood Elf Rogue seems to have retained its PVP rank -- First Sergeant (rank 5).

This is unusual because Blood Elves weren't around for the time when you could get said titles and cross faction switches to Belf from an Alliance race do not carry over titles for that reason.

It's neat that my character has it, but it's inconsistent and not terribly fair to others.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

After depositing Ye Olde paycheck, I got a race change to my female troll rogue to a female blood elf.

My reason? Almost all of my female trolls look the same. There's only one pretty face and few attractive hairstyles. Oh, and the amazingly catlike female belf stealth animation is amazing.

But here's a screenshot of her armory entry.
What's wrong with this picture (aside from the obvious bluring)? I'll tell you later.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dualboxing Deathknights

The words "Dualboxing Deathknights" make this scene pop into my head. It's not the most logical idea, melee classes don't lend themselves well to dualboxing due to positioning problems and follow breaking upon melee combat.

Until recently I settled on the idea of simply playing one and /following on the other and just having that extra be useless dead weight. Combine with the fact that they're leveling in tank specs because I'm too cheap to buy them dualspecs and the fact that leveling multiple toons at once is slower than soloing they've been a total drag.

Two days ago I fired up Keyclone just for the sake of making them talk in unison, because what's worse than creepy twin DKs? Creepy twin DKs saying the same thing at the same time. I decided to give playing them both at once with the help of Keyclone another shot.

Think inside the box.
When I pull something with the leader character, the mob's hitbox is usually out of range of the follower character.

The problem is I need to get follower into range of the mob in order to use him correctly, this would require me moving him into position for each pull, something that can become very tedious very quickly. It won't work.

I realized my leader was in frost presence, not blood presence. He should regen health in blood presence as a blood DK so I shifted him. The other twin is frost specced, his icy touch and crap is improved. After pondering a moment I set him to frost presence--making him more threatening than his blood brother.

I set up a macro to /assist [target=focus] /cast Death Grip and affixed it to my - key then shoved my 'follow focus' macro on my = key. I put empty macros on the leader's - and = key just so I had visual icons to remind me what is there.

With this, my follower gets the mob, gets threat, and maintains it. My leader attacks the mob while standing well in the hitbox.

I found that when Death Grip was down I could have both of them icy touch a mob and it'd usually land on the follower. It was really quite simple, I just had to put two and two together. Now I just have to refine the art.

The creepy twins:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Altoholism Ahoy!

The author of The Angry Alt spent a little time blogging about Alotholism to which I responded to. I wanted to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on alting.

The benefits of alting:
I believe there are six perspectives to PVE raiding in WOW. Main Tanking, Offtanking, Melee DPSing, Ranged DPSing, Raid Healing, and Tank Healing.

In my years of playing I've raided from every one of the six perspectives and I honestly think I'm a better player and a good raid leader because of it.

I can tell people in the proper language what they should do. I know what rogue poisons do what and where they're applied, I know what stats benefit what class roles the best and how to utilize everyone in a manner that will make them shine the most. I know that hunters don't need expertise so that pug hunter wanting an expertise dagger over a rogue can get a kick in the shin.

I've been the main tank. I've been the offtank. I've been the tank that has to chase after the mob that just got pulled by the DPS who's not attacking the right target. I've had the other tank taunt off of me with tank envy.
I've been the bored ranged DPS in classic waiting for the warrior tank to get his sunders up.
I've been the melee dps having to interrupt the casters and run out of the whirlwind.
I've been the group healer throwing my chainheals, wild growths, circle of healing, and even prayer of healing around. I've been the tank healer. I've endured "OMG HEAL ME" from tanks untrusting tanks and bad DPS.

I try not to yell for heals (though I may be like, 'omg altoholic is frost blasted' because I know people zone out sometimes), I try not to pull agro, if I do pull agro I run to the tank, I try to hurry up and threat faster and harder so the DPS doesn't have to wait, I get out of the stupid. I don't taunt off of other tanks.

I've found that other players have had changes in their playstyle after playing multiple classes. People that pull agro frequently getting to try being a tank and dealing with the other side of things curbs such issues. People yelling for heals learning to play healers has a similar effect. It's made my players far more patient and capable of stepping up their game without stepping on people's toes.

And thanks to badge gear (doubly so come next patch), there is icing on the altoholic cake in the form of flexibility. A pack of altoholics have the flexibility to mix it up and keep it fresh by changing up roles. If a key member of the pack is missing, someone else can fill in and a person can be pugged.



I don't want to be that guy:
Several of the players on my Ventrilo server speak less than kind words about a particular member of one of the top raiding guilds on my server. This member has a variety number of level 80 characters, just like me and the members of my guild.

Word is, that this guy is a jack of all trades, master of none. He's got a lot of characters but he sucks at playing most of them, but they're all geared because he's an officer in his guild.

I don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be viewed as someone who sucks or who's using his guild for gearing out a personal army. Because of this, I focus on gearing one character out at a time and I'm generally not insistent on which character I take. I take what's needed to help the group progress.

People tell me I'm not like that guy, and my guildmates tell me to not feel bad for going on heroics with them on characters other than my main (or secondary main), but I still worry about being viewed as greedy.

My shaman is pretty much done with badges, 13 more then all I need is triumph stuff and raid stuff. I'm reluctant to switch to my druid or hunter for badges because I feel greedy.

I decided I wanted to get my DKs, who have been sitting at 74 for a very long time, up to 75. I succeeded in doing so last night and am starting to get my leveling groove back once again, I've figured out how to effectively dualbox DKs, which I will probably explain later.

But I'm left unsettled from a remark from a member of my guild's left ringing in my brain: "Do you really need more 80s?"



Solitary Activity:
Alting is a solitary activity. I mean, I can group with other people, but I spend a lot of time just grouped with myself. I may spend quiet time letting my mind wander as I zone out and watch my eyecandy twin belf DKs kill things while smashing my 'assist focus deathgrip' button (-) then pounding 123345123345 until the mob is dead then pounding follow focus (=). I may listen to whatever really obnoxious song is stuck in my head on repeat over and over again.

The content we can clear at this time is being cleared in under 2 hours. People groan at the idea of Ulduar10, a series of unfortunate (in one case) and dickish (in another) circumstances will prevent us from TotGC this week. What can I really do?

I need things to keep me busy and alting is something I can use to keep busy while working towards a clearly visible goal (leveling). I need something to do when I need a break from cat herding and being the defacto leader for everything.

Alting is that thing.



Now's the time:
If you want to get one or several alts to 80, now's the time.
I'm leveling my DKs to 80 and then I may shift to push the other four (Priest, Mage, Warrior, Rogue) to 80 as well.

Get alts to 80.
Stockpile crafting materials.
???
Profit.

Here's why:
With the next patch Blizzard is doing the following:
  • Shifting all badges in heroics and raids to Triumph.
  • Adding a better LFG system that will build groups.
  • Enabling cross server LFG.
  • Giving achievement awards and non-combat pets for people who group with 100 different random people.
This means you can take your fresh 80 alt, provided it's got tolerable gear (craft some stuff), throw yourself into the random heroic system, and get heroics. With several servers for each battlegroup, the likelihood that there'll be heroics running at any time of day or night is pretty high. If your character is capable of being a tank and a healer, put on your tanking/healing pants and you'll likely have a never-ending supply of heroics.

This will be especially true in the first few weeks where people running heroics will be trying to get their non-combat pets.

People probably won't mind your lack of gear if you:
  • Are polite.
  • Don't stand in the stupid.
  • Know basic game mechanics/the instances.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of playing your class.
When I go into an instance on a character that I'm new to playing, I tell people that my character is new with sub par gear, I tell them I'm a "long time player, fairly new to this character." I ask them to evaluate me, to give me feedback. Constructive criticism is how you learn. (I usually get positive feedback.)

Skill and knowledge is greater than gear. Someone with 245 gear will still die if they stand in the stupid.

Good times ahead.