Back to Raiding

With the return of the better half on hour celestial hunter team (Moon has not been able to do anything from being in dial up for almost a month) and the addition of DPS wizards Frotobaggings and smidgeon, we are shaping up a very solid 10 man group.

Hon has been working hard on switching from being a ret pally to tanking and last night we finally saw fruits out of the seeds we have been planting.

While most of us had been on pugs or with buddy guilds to Naxx, this was only the first time we actually downed a boss since our guild split. We have been gearing people up and this was the first time some of them had seen Naxx.

We cleaned trash mobs up to the first boss in the aracnid quarter like nobody’s business but then we had issues taking the boss down.

While it took us way longer than it probably should have, I think everyone that went learned that boss by heart now and there should never be an issue taking him down again.

Healers can find a pug a lot easier than tanks. Most raiding guilds have set tanks, so getting into 10 mans is very hard for someone just leveling up. Vault was truly not a training ground and 5 man dungeons are really not as conducive to learning “real” boss fights. Studying strats and watching videos is all nice and dandy but until the raid has been to a place, some of those mechanics just don’t click.

I am glad we stuck with it and got that boss down. While we might never burn through content like some others might, I think our progression is getting better. It was hard to lose key players in the past, but the “back ups” have stepped in. I never thought I would become a main tank since ours used to be so freaking good at it. I still miss being able to learn from him and ask him questions about tanking, but good riddance and even if its at a slower pace we will conquer the content.

Break from Raiding

I think the next couple of weeks are going to be less full of WoW. Ever since the last patch it seems that I have been doing a lot less raiding and a lot more cleaning of my banks, selling stuff, etc.

While most serious raiders will be moving to conquer Ulduar, I do not have any hurry to step in there just yet. I still have not seen any of the new tournament content yet.

I am however looking forward to a new group of 40 – 60 toons that my friends are playing. I might actually have to play both my DK and Priest and get them all into dungeons and actually slow down the power leveling for more structured adventures.

Going into old dungeons with my 80 is a lot of fun, but I think enjoying the content for the levels that it was meant to is going to be even cooler. So in the coming weeks I might be going to Ulduar or even Naxx, but I will be enjoying content nonetheless, hopefully even getting better at the whole healing and DPS thing.

FWM – Numero Dos

Here is another edition of the Friday WoW Meme!

1) Word Association

Vent ::

Young ::

Patch ::

Poison ::

2) What has been your favorite feature on the 3.1 Patch?

3) What is still not working that you think should?

4) List the servers you have toons on (or the first 5 if you are just that prolific) and how many toons you have there.

5) Do you have a toon in the other side?

Remember play and tag two people not in your blogroll!

The Road to WoW

I was very late to the WoW party.  TBC had already been out, and WotLK was already on its way.  I had resisted Ultima Online, got only to the character creation part of EQ.  Partly it was because of me playing RPGs before that got me to a point of frustration.  I loved Diablo and its progression, but some of the older RPGs would get to a place of just impossibility and I don’t like looking up tricks or cheats and I hated feeling like I had to.  I like being able to figure things out.

I like being good at video games and RTSs was something I was very good amongst my peers and decent at an online level.  Warcraft II where my nick comes from “Logtar” and later Age of Empires were games where I would come up with various strategies to dominate others.  Some of the most enjoyable gaming moments I had at the time was going agains very smart friends that had awesome strategies and me coming up with an overwhelming counter.  Those were easy to pick up, play for some hours and then leave alone.

The first game that had a level of high addiction for me was Gunbound, its similarity to probably one of the best room shooters Worms was very appealing.  You also had avatars that you can get stuff for which would show your “status” as a hardcore player.  It was even more enjoyable when in an international server I found someone from the same town I was living at.  I spent tons of hours playing and was good at the game, but it was addicting, very addicting.  I eventually moved onto play more Battlefield Vietnam and Counter Strike to fill up spots for the local buddies that I had made in the LanParty scene.

While in Michigan I had offers to play UO for free with a coworker, as well as invitations to WoW from both people in the LanParty scene and two other coworkers.  Addiction level warnings would go off and I would politely decline the offer.  Maybe a little prejudice towards WoW since half of our clan seemed to be spending all their time.  I don’t use Xfire anymore, but you can clearly see that I played tons of CS:S when I did use it.

Over the last couple of years because of moving and other personal issues I kind of left the online scene alone.  I would go into a CS:S server once in a while, but nothing constant.  Then Wook (the GM of TOS) started working for the company and informally talked about WoW, no pressure, check it out.  I told him the same thing I did before about me knowing about the addictive characteristics of the game… and he said it was all about balance.  I knew it was… however, I knew I would sacrifice other entertainment, I know I like to be good.  He then let me try playing one of his toons… and darn it, it did it.  I had never played a game that was so well made.

Its been a year and I love WoW.  I still like to do other things and I believe I have a good balance.  I also have discovered other aspects of the game I love, like how Raiding teaches people management and interaction better than some socialigy courses.  I don’t know if I will ever get burned out when they keep on making it better and better… blizzard has to have an addiction creation department.  There is still so much content I have yet to see, races, classes that I have not even touched.  I am enjoying the journey quite a bit.

When To Call It Quits

Our guild is close, really close to being able to 10 man Naxx.  We have been missing one or two key players the last couple of weeks, but we are very close to having two new healers and a couple of other tanks join the ranks.  Actually if anyone knows a Shammy in Azshara’s Alliance side looking for a casual raiding guild, send them my way.  Most of our raid ready players have been pugging 10 and 25 man Naxx with a couple of other guilds.  While they are all nice people, the raids still have a pug feel to them.

One of the biggest issues with my group leadership is that I know exactly when to call it quits, but I fall pray of the what ifs.  What if we can do it with this DPS (even if we are lacking proper tanks and heals) or what if this is a great learning experience for the people that have not been here?

Some people DC and don’t come back, some others start talking down to people and start looking for someone to blame, some people (me included) start talking about their repair bill.  The thing is that I have developed a good spidie sense for when something is not going to work.  The exception again is if everyone is in for just giving it a try, but most people don’t know how to say no sometimes.  In the end we are all left depleated of consumables, huge repair bills and in some cases very frustrated players.

Last night in Naxx I knew we did not have the right raid composition for the bosses we were about to face.  If we had taken another route earlier and headed down a different wing (we were DPS heavy, and tank light, heals were good) we would have saved tons of money and time.  Not my raid, and not my decision.  I am not a main tank for Naxx just yet having only two tanking pieces that are newly acquired (trinket and ring).  Flasked and bugged I can get to 33K health, but I am still a better OT than a main tank when it comes to raids.  Last night we also had a lot of lag issues and disconnects, the server seemed to be buggy for whatever reason.  All of those things combined spelled problems that I saw coming and should have just politley told the organizers thank you but ask my guildies to step back from this raid.  I like the guild we were raiding a lot, they seem like great mature players, and except for the one moron vent screaming something dumb (which they vowed to curve in the future).

The problem is just the same as when someone I know invites me to tank a pug heroic.  I like the pople and I want to help, but I know when someting is not going to work after the very first pull.  I need to improve in this aread by just letting people know it is not going to happen and then offer one on one advice if I know what the issue is.  I think it will save both money and agravation, and if I am the one inviting people to a raid, I should also be the one giving them an out before the repair bill mounts and the frustration starts to set in.

Raid Satisfaction

One of the tough things of running with a casual guild is that we are under no pressure to pwn.  Everyone has their own speed and casual is kind of a catch all between people that enjoy going on raids but only once in a while, and people that are serious raiders burned by the attitude that some raiding guilds have.  While our guild is extremely lucky to have talented people on every position, we do have some people that lag behind at times, but its all good.  It will take us a little longer to get into Naxx than I had originally expected but when we do it will make be that much better.  That said, we have probably more patience with low DPS or Heals than most people that raid would.

Last night I decided to do 25 man VOA.  It was probably 7 guildies and the rest were pugs, complete pugs because maybe because of the holiday weekend or Naxx everyone seemed to be busy.  So a couple of “serious” raiders show up to the group and from second one they start pushing.  I tried to ignore it, and even gave into starting with 23 while we waited for the next two.  First pull was ok, but we figured out that the other tank had dropped and I was pretty much the only tank.  Thankfully a guildie jumped in and we got to be Tank and OT.

We clear the trash while dropping and adding people after every trash mob it seemed.  Then we get to the boss.  I had a hard time just giving instructions and going over the plan because Mr “serious” raider would not shut up about the low DPS, and how he was healing and dpsing and blah, blah, blah.

I am getting tired of the, pull, pull, pull chatter.  We had about 5 DKs (which is another post, those agro stealing…) and the killing of the boss was a fail, not epic but a fail none the less.  There were several mistakes and I don’t think I could have saved it even if I was not rage starved.  Our healers did underperfom and Mr. Serious raider did double and tripple everyone on the healing charts.  He started to say how everyone had to leave bellow a certain DPS.  However, when he started calling people out, including my regular healer I’ve had enough.  I did ask him to be quiet, but he persisted on going off and being a huge DOT on the whole raid.  So I kicked the highest healer in the charts and one of his buddies followed.  We lost prolly 5 people but we quickly replaced everyone.

I started getting tells by Mr “serious” raiders about how dumb I was for kicking he highest healer in the raid, and how he does not run with scrubs.  More blah, blah, blah.

We took our time setting up the second try, added a good healer and good DPS.  We kept all the low DPS people, the same two tanks and heals.  We then proceeded to PWN like I  have not even with a serious raiding group in 25 man VOA.  I don’t think I’ve had as much fun in a raid before… and it was very satisfyign to send a tell to Mr “serious” raider, we just pwned without you, without attitude and without having to talk down to people.

The Friday WoW Meme

Why a meme?  Well, Fridays are a day that is hard to find things to post about… sure you can say, I will do this and that this weekend, but meme’s are like the grinding of the blog world… you have to do it.  So here is the first one! I hope you play.

1. Word Association

Elf ::

Shard ::

Epic ::

Cream ::

2. When emote annoys you the most?

3. Gnome punting… bullying or sport?

4.  What in game food that makes you hungry IRL?

Tag at least two WoW bloggers not on your Blogroll, then do it, have fun and link back to this post!

Achievement Chasing

I’ve had achievement envy for a while.  I never purchased an Xbox, partly because its made by MicroSux and partly because the consoles I already own don’t get played much.  I have however admired the leader board aspect that was introduced with achievements on Xbox live.  It was very surprising that right before WotLK achievements were introduced.  In a sense I was like, whatever… but little by little it started sucking me in.

At first I figured that getting different achievements in different toons was going to be satisfying, but lately I want to just get everything on my main and then go to the other toons I have.  Exploration was a fun one and easy one to do.  Visiting all of the dungeons has also been fun, but in some cases it requires more people.  We are lucky to have a guild that still enjoys going back to see content that many never even knew exists (me included.)  I am even a little upset that with my cooking I messed up and sold a recipe that is only obtained via quest… someone told me that I could contact a GM and I might get it back… it might be worth a try to get the achievement for having every single recipe.

I am not more proud of my achievements than my gear, however it does feel more satisfying to get that little broadcast message once you have done something.  It also feels great helping other people get an achievment out of a dungeon you have figured out.  I have been fun getting all the Northren factions to exalted, but I think I am going to begin the questlines and try to get every single rep there.  I think when I originally leveled I did not get to savor all of the quests trying to hit 70 and become a tank, and with my other toons I follow almost the same patern… I know exactly where to go to level faster.  Maybe going and doing some of the old quest lines will be both quick and informative without the feeling of grinding for nothing.  So far, achievment gathering has been a lot more fun than I ever though it would be.

Tanking only what I like.

DTK has to bee my favorite heroic dungeon. I know how to do each boss, I know how to handle every single pull and even some neat little tricks. Like those scourge troll riders right before the big dinosaur, if you have a ret pally, repentance one and they lose their pet.

VH is my other favorite, and my only complain is that dumb ethereal Xevozz that has made me wipe more than any other boss in the game.  The wipes are due to bad tanking and not kiting him correctly, and having people not stay behind me when I tank.  All other boses have been single shotted ever since our groups have enough DPS and enough Heals to just overpower the void.

One of the things that I have not been very good at is at calling a group done when I know we are not going to be sucessful in the hopes that people are learning.  I have no problem farming a dungeon for gear when the party knows what we are doing, but wiping over and over because it is the daily makes no sense to me.  The 20g that you might get from the quest does not make up for the 40g in repair.

The thing that I am very guilty about is not going to an instance that I know we are going to wipe at… mostly because of lack of knowledge by everyone, but in great part because I just have not had any fun when I have gone.  I recently tanked a non heroic Azjol-Nerub for a group, and even thought we pwned the place I got no pleasure from it.  I have not done this one in heroic and I know I want to just for the achievement… but I keep on putting it off because I don’t want to spend the time learning everything about it and then passing on the knowledge for a place that I have no interest on.

I am looking forward to a lot of things with the duel spec that is coming up, but the one that I am probably looking forward to the most is being able to have my warrior speced DPS.  Going to an instance and being able to just DPS without having to lead will make going to Oculus, Old Kingdom and Azjol-Nerub that much better.

So what are some of your favorite or least favorite places to go to?

* UPDATE *

Thanks to Pug Checker you can see that I do not like any of the instances above. TH Nance from Alteracvolley.com

Balancing WoW and RL

My wife was terrified when I first brought up playing WoW. I love video games, always have, always probably will. We have both been divorced in the past, and she has been very involved with divorce support groups both online and off. She has only heard of WoW in a very negative light and how it can “split” people up.

I think WoW gets a really bad rep from many misconceptions. While the game can be addicting and time consuming, it is up to the individual to learn time management and prioritize their life. Same thing with relationships. I read it over and over how people have to quit the game because their personal life is suffering. What about balancing things before it gets to that point?

As far as losing your spouse because they found someone to cheat with online, I believe that is complete BS. It has nothing to do with the game and everything to do with a bad relationship. It is like blaming the car in a drunk driving accident, or the gun in a murder case. WoW is a tool that gives people the ability to communicate with other humans… just like a chat room or a bar would.

The secret to balancing things in real life for me is not clear yet. I think I do play a little more than I should, but it is the perfect stress relief for me. I also find the management aspect of raiding fascinating as well as the very rewarding acquisition of a rare item.

I still feel like I prefer real life interaction with people to WoW. I much rather go see a movie or go bowling with friends than raid… however the pull to do the other is stronger than I would have originally expected. In the end is a matter of choice, I chose to value real life interaction more than in game, I like to talk to people in vent and know the person rather than the toon. I like people, I enjoy people, and the RL relationships will always be more important than anything the game can provide me.