Disappointment like broccoli ice cream (my not-so-triumphant return to raiding)

(I started writing this first thing Wednesday morning, but it would be lame to just speculate on why we sucked without a log, so I figured I’d wait to finish up until the log was posted.)

The Phailraid

I was so psyched to return to raiding after 3 weeks off, but our ICC-10 run did not go well last night.  We wiped on Marrowgar for 2 hours before calling it.

3 weeks ago, before I had to take time off for family visits, I participated in our first Marrowgar kill. Woot!  Shortly thereafter, the guild killed Lady Stinker and went on to complete the first wing.  YAY!  Another notable accomplishment during that time was killing Marrowgar without a pally healer (with 2 tanks taking roughly equal damage, bacon of light is incredibly useful.  Yes it is called “bacon” nom nom nom).

Last night we had no pally healer and one of our healers was an alt due to some unforeseen RL events for our scheduled healer.  I wish I could blame the DPS, but really, it seemed like the tanks were taking damage faster than the healers could keep up, so it was healer fail.  I wish I could say that I was the shining example of awesome, and that the other two healers were fail, but that wasn’t the case.  We were all “off”, and me shaking off the rust didn’t help.

The other group downed the entire wing. I wish I could say that they were the “A group” and we were the “B group,” but that isn’t the case.  I have no freakin clue why they succeeded where we failed.  They’re just dirty cheaters, obviously.

After the epic fail raid, I tried to cheer myself up by trying to get that scorpion trinket again. It didn’t drop, of course, and right about then, the achievement spam came across my screen as the other ICC-10 group finished the wing.  A fitting end to a craptastic evening.

Post-Log Analysis

Haha… FOOLED YOU.  I held off posting this until the raid leader had posted the log.  Except his computer ate the log!  I wish that I had run a log myself.

The mystery of the fail continues.  The only “clues” we have are as follows:

  • Gear scores of tanks and DPS were the same for both groups.
  • Gear scores of the other 2 healers in our group were lower than the gear scores of the healers in the successful group by a scientifically significant margin (but not a huge amount)
  • Gear scores suck.  Seriously.
  • Raid leader claims that he saw “people running around not doing what they were supposed to be doing” and does not think it was completely healer fail.
  • Husband has a dim recollection that I rocked the recount meters, for whatever that’s worth (not a lot since recount doesn’t count bubbles and we were running with a disc priest.)

Hrm, Watson, what do you think?  I think we wiped for 2 hours and without a log can’t really learn from our mistakes.

Balancing RL and game: being courteous to your guild mates while prioritizing RL.

As a casual guild, we make it clear that RL>WoW. If you have a test to take, if it’s your kid’s birthday, we don’t want to see you online.  If your spouse projectile vomits mid-raid, we’ll find a sub.

But some people take this to the extreme, blowing off guild events at the last minute with a flimsy nod to “RL”, not realizing that the other raiders put their lives on hold during that scheduled period so we can raid.

If your kid gets sick during raid time, that’s one thing.  But if your kid has been sick all day, just tell a raid leader that morning so he can get a sub. If the wife is demanding that you spend more time with her on Thursday night, don’t be surprised if she gives you an ultimatum Friday night right around raid time.  Don’t just blindside the raid with your “sorry guys, wife aggro” when you totally saw it coming a mile away.

Geesh, people, it’s not that hard.  If you think you can’t make it due to “RL”, then cancel. RL will trump, but waiting until the last minute to announce that trump is just being a discourteous jerk.

Addon test drive: Tidy plates

At the suggestion of tank like a girl and pwnwear, I tried Tidy Plates and it is indeed awesome.

  • It was easy for me to change targets and see pertinent information about my targets.
  • Raid icons easy to see
  • It seemed more responsive than Aloft (cast bar seemed less choppy)
  • it was ready right “out of the box.”
  • The casting bar is very conspicuous. As an added bonus, there’s a big icon that flashes next to it when the mob is casting something nasty.   It is very useful and eye-catching.
  • Threat monitoring:
    • I did not find it particularly helpful for monitoring my threat as a melee dps. The mobs were too tall and I was often staring at mob ass and could not see the plate over the mob’s head.   I’d often get the snot pounded out of me by a mob unexpectedly and have trouble figuring out which mob it was – let alone be able to figure out which mob was about to turn on me and leave a footprint on my head.   (However, I was being a swipe-tard… so I deserved whatever I got.)
    • As a healer, I did find the threat marker slightly more helpful because I could see the bars at all times since I was at range.   However, it would flip from green (you’re ok on threat) to red (omg the mob is pounding my face off!) instantly.   The only warning I really got that I was gaining threat is a color change at the exact same moment the mob turned menacingly in my direction and began to gnaw on the bark of this poor tree.

Overall, I like it, though I wouldn’t uninstall Omen or anything.

On couples, kids, friends, and raiding in "pairs".

All guilds have “pairs” who prefer to do stuff together.  We have a father/son team, a father/daughter team, a few couples (oh wait, girls don’t play WoW!), a set of brothers, some RL friends, and in-game BFFs.

The problem is trying to squeeze those “pairs” into raid groups, especially in 10-man groups which are rather limited.

Sometimes, guilds take hard-line views on couples – that they either don’t accept “package deals” or they don’t make any effort to keep pairs together, or may even actively separate them to make a point.

The main argument for separation is that each person is an individual, and should be treated as such. If a pair must always be together, they are treated differently from the rest of the guild and may be given better or worse treatment, more or fewer opportunities to raid.

Other arguments for separation include:

  • Class balance of the group should trump. If Hubby dearest is a tank and wifey is a DPS, wifey is not as needed.  If she’s allowed to go every time hubby gets scheduled, that’s not fair to the dps.
  • Skill of the player should trump need to be together. Mostly this is directed at females, probably unfairly, but that the wife is a mediocre player, but the guild “needs” the husband, who is of course an awesome player because he has a weiner.
  • Separation will encourage the players to get to know other guildies and discourage cliquishness.  If those two are always together and yapping with each other, they won’t get to know the guild as well.
  • Raid leaders don’t need the extra stress of another factor to use in rostering. This one is a big one… raid leaders have enough to think about – class balance, who raided last week, who can go on tuesdays but not thursdays.  The last thing the raid leader needs is another variable to consider.

But, believe it or not, there are arguments for togetherness too.

  • Snappier communication. Husband and wife may play in the same game room and be able to communicate “heal meh now!” faster than even over voice chat.  I know from personal experience this is very useful for a tank and healer.
  • Together time.  The whole reason for playing the game is to socialize with the other person.    Sometimes it’s husband and wife, sometimes it’s friends or family members who live far away from each other.   If they’re not slotted together, the one who is supposed to be raiding may well cancel and hang out in a 5-man with his friend/parent/brother instead.
  • Raiding availability versus RL.  As a practical concern, a gaming pair has set aside that night for WoW playing and will be doing something else with the other nights of the week. If you have Husband raiding Mon/Wed and then Wife raiding Tues/Thurs, that’s 4 nights the family unit has devoted to raiding.  For most casual players, this will not be an acceptable arrangement.  You’re only going to get 2 raiding nights out of the couple, not 2 raiding nights from each member.  Make it count.

For me, the final concern is huge.  Often hubby and I will be raiding the same night, but in 2 different groups.  If we raid on alternating nights, that devotes too many nights a week to raiding, and makes us feel far more “burnt out” than simply raiding the same nights and taking the same nights “off” WoW.

So, dear readers, how do you handle pairs who wish to raid together?

How to coach the baby healer

Last night I ran 5-mans with a baby shaman healer in our guild who is learning how to heal (I was playing the kitteh).  He knows his spells and when to use them, and did not need much assistance on that.  However, there are some powerful lessons an experienced healer can give a noobie healer, even a healer of a different class.

1.  The Bossy Healer: Asserting the Expectations of DPS and Tank.

The poor shammie was healing between battles and running oom.  Oh. Hell. No.  I told the group in my most obnoxious tone that they had mage food, and they needed to sit down and use it.  Yes, as a healer, you can’t be shy to enforce the “rules”, and I let the little shammie know that he should do the same.  He then started calling out the aggromonkey mage (*cough* husband *cough*) who was having threat issues.  *Sniff* so proud.

2. Healer as Group Manager: Support abilities and cooldowns.

It is the healer’s prerogative to manage support abilities and cooldowns, and call for help.  For example: to ask the DPS toons to decurse, to call for an innervate, tranquility, or brez. I told him the dirty secret: that non-healing druids still have the insanely overpowered tranquility at their disposal, and he as the healer had the right to request it (except if the druid is tanking).  Ditto for shadow priests and divine hymn.

3. The Nagging Details: Mod setup.

Grid is daunting to set up… and though guides exist, they are not easily accessible while you’re in game and alt tabbing out for instructions.  If you walk your baby healer through an addon question by giving instructions on vent while the baby healer follows along through the menus, the baby healer will save a lot of time and frustration.  It doesn’t cost you more than a few minutes.

Anonymity, PuGs, and good players gone bad.

Confession time: I have almost done something creepy but haven’t had the opportunity to test my morals.

I really want the scorpion trinket thing.  And after a few more runs I’m going to feel even more entitlement than I already do.

I’ve talked to husband and we’ve gone back and forth about whether, in a pug, he would roll as well to increase my chances of winning it.

Which is terrible!  I shouldn’t even be plotting this treacherous conspiracy!  And probably would not if it were not for the anonymity of cross-server pugs, where the consequences for being a jackass are virtually nil.

In quasi-justification of abnormally jerkish behavior, there are so many variables you just don’t know about your pug-mates.  Is this throwaway alt #4 that you’re rolling against?  How many times has the pug-person run this instance to get this item?

In a guild group, you know who “should” get the item.  Unlike the Pug group, you’re emotionally invested in your guild mates and you want them to do well.

As Elnia comments in  The Porn Star and the Pug, it’s not necessarily a good thing to have a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” sort of PUG experience, even if you do get everything that you want.  Just as you like seeing your guildmates get upgrades they need, is it as awesome to get the upgrade you have been working for so hard without your guildies around to congratulate you? When you’re in a pug and you finally get the thing you’re looking for – don’t you excitedly link it in /gchat with an “OMG OMG OMG” and get “ZOMG grats, you have been WORKING for that” from your guildmates and subdued “grats” from your PUG groupmates, if they say anything at all.

On a pure utility argument, in a guild group, if you don’t get the item, the item will end up  benefiting  you indirectly, because you will run with your guildies in the future.  It’s the “greater good.”  In a Pug group, that item is gone, lost in the cross-server abyss, and might as well have been sharded for all the good it’s going to do you in the future.

But this makes me a complete hypocrite.  I’ve argued (in response to Tam’s refusal to rez a pug idiot) that behavior from Pugs does carry over. You’re not just acting in a vaccuum in a Pug.  Your actions have ripples. If we take the time to “train” an asshat in a pug group, maybe he will behave properly for the next healer.  If you show kindness toward a new 80, maybe he will pay it forward in future groups.

We’ll see whether my greedy nature gets the best of me.  I’d be interested to see what others have to say on the issue.

Eep, shaking off rust: srs guild bizness and raiding

Haven’t raided in 3 weeks.   Hope I don’t suck too badly.  I haven’t signed up for ICC this week… I’m gonna dip my feet back in with TOC-10.

Raid leader crisis was (mostly) averted.   Last week, you may recall, we lost a raid leader because he was leaving WoW.    We just promoted an ICC-ready experienced raid leader from one of the new recruits – bringing the total back to 4, 3 of whom can do ICC.  Being new is not a bad thing, but I feel like overwhelming the new guy is bad form… in a perfect world I’d let him get to know the guild a little better before tossing responsibility on him.

On Burnout and Alts

Confession: I don’t want to gear my alts.  Don’t get me wrong… I want to play them.  It would be fun, but I don’t want to have them geared enough that I could possibly raid with them.  Short of purposely destroying loot, it would be very hard not to get raid-ready for ICC-10 (given the new instances, badge gear, etc.)  But I don’t wanna!

Background

2 toon rule – alt raids

As a healer, I’m very sensitive about healer burnout.  As such, I want the healers in the guild to have the opportunity to DPS, Tank, or do whatever their little hearts desire occasionally.  I’ve seen too many healers say “screw this, I’m only playing my mage” because they just can’t take the stress of always having to attend the raid or it won’t happen, and to get all the healer-grief dumped on them.

At the same time, the guild was sometimes struggling to fill raids with the right class balance, and we wanted to do 2 raid ID’s but recognized that we might need to use an alt or 2 to fill out the 2nd raid ID.  So we created the 2-toon raiding rule.

The 2-toon rule stated simply that you could only have 2 raiding toons.  We’re not gonna run your 4th alt through Naxx.  2 toons are beneficial for the guild for role versatility and filling out a 2nd ID.  More than 2 is overkill and dilutes loot.

My preference on this would have been for the 2-toon rule to dictate that your 2 toons had to be different roles… such as 1 tank, 1 dps.  But ultimately that idea was scrapped because we don’t have required specs, and some hybrids had 2 equally good specs and gear sets.

Continue reading →

Vent foot pedal (Stealth Switch 2)

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to push-to-talk – but don’t want to go open-mic? I had a hell of a time trying to PTT and still be able to continue throwing heals, getting out of the fire, and other such things.  No matter where I bound my hotkey, I always had to “pause” in some way to talk on Vent.

Then I found the foot pedal of awesome! Stealth Switch 2

The basic premise is that you bind it to a keyboard key, any key, and it fires that key off when you hit the foot switch. You can still use the keyboard key for the same purpose.

I ordered it on a Wednesday and it arrived in my mailbox Friday afternoon. So far, I love it. I bound it pretty easily to my F12 key (after unbinding F12 from “open bags”), and have been using that as PTT on vent.

It was easy to program, though it has some issues with Vista. However, after some swearing, I went to the website and they had simple instructions for getting it to play nice with Vista.

I love having both hands free to play and not having to worry about PTT slowing down my healing or dps. You don’t have to hit the pedal hard. I play barefoot and i have the edge of this resting under my big toe, and I shift my foot a little to click it on. You can get quite the leg cramp if you try to hover your foot over it for an entire raid!

A word of warning: This is NOT the same as stealth switch (original). The original is designed to close windows and stuff to prevent your boss from seeing you goofing off at work. I don’t think it’s meant to work with Vent. Even though it is cheaper, it probably will not be good for your purposes.

(Oh yeah, I’m not affiliated with Stealth Switch 2 and I’m not getting kickbacks or anything.  Just a product that I tried, used, and luuuv.)

Why I have this blog

So… last week in the midst of doing way too much reading about Wow and way too little PLAYING WoW… I decided to make a blog.

Why?

Because I’m a WoW research nerd and my current outlets for out-of-game nerdiness are lacking…

Audience: Guildies

I am the repository of information for my guildies.  I usually at least skim my blogroll daily (I have a feed thingy set up, all the blogs in categories, very professional.)  I look for tidbits that would interest guildies – first just for healing, but now for just about everything.  Rogue nerf?  I post about it.  New guide posted?  I add the link to the appropriate “sticky” on our forum.  All neatly catalogued so that guildies can easily find everything about their chosen professions. (Less so, about boss encounters, I’m workin on it.)

We got a new website in October.  I have 838 posts, 25% of total posts on the website.  It says I average .06 posts a day, but that’s just because it also says I registered December 31, 1969.  I kinda feel like I’m talking to myself.

After doing all this out-of-game work to help people get better, I login and well… get questions about stuff already on the website, painstakingly organized, and checked as much as possible for currentness.  I point people to the website, and that helps somewhat, but it seems that they just don’t want to read it.  Sigh.

Audience IRL

(This my actual dishwasher, though it now reads “Pirates > Ninjas”.)

Besides husband, I have only a few friends who play WoW.   We used to be in the same guild, but a few others wandered away for the horde side, and others are in a guild we left (awkward).  We don’t really talk much about WoW stuff out of game, except to each other.

Of course, bringing raid strat printouts to a restaurant because we forgot to study up for that night’s raid, we wanted to eat, and we had limited time before Twig had to go to bed… height of romance.  Really.

Twig is not quite ready to discuss the finer points of gaming.

Me: Mommy is a little tired of healing this dumb aggro monkey.

Twig: Monkey “oot oot oot”

Me: That’s right, monkey says “oot oot oot”.  Pug people are idiots.

Twig: Chocolate milk?

Me: Omg, did he seriously just pull that entire group?

Twig: Hee hee I fall down.