Second Group of Kingslayers


The epic battle between Arthas and the BoondockSaints continues. Yesterday, after our amazing Cubby kitty DPS called for just one more try before we called it for the night, we downed him. It had taken us a lot of wipes, more than I would like to remember or pay for, but it was all worth it. We got something a lot more important out of the process than the Kingslayer title, teamwork.

Before I recount the downing of The Lich King I want to share something with you. Recently, a couple of our younger players decided to give hardcore raiding a try. One of them was up front about his desire which I fully supported. While it sucks to have any player leave your raiding group for greener pastures, I think it is great experience for people to see how hardcore really feels. After killing The King last night I got a whisper. The pastures were not greener, the hardcore raiding is too much, and he was wondering if he could come back to raid with us. I said “of course, you were honest with me about leaving and the door is always open for people that communicate their intentions.”

He stated that we do just the right amount of raiding, and even though we don’t raid as much as hardcore people do, nobody feels forced to raid like he is feeling right now. He also said that our family atmosphere is just where he feels at “home.” I replied “well, let me know when you are ready to come home.” I added the following: “The Lick King kill tonight felt awesome because I as able to hear my wife scream out loud in excitement and kiss her while congratulating her as a new Kingslayer.” What feels more amazing as a raid leader is that we accomplished it without having to “OMGNERDRAGE” on anyone and stuck to positive criticism through building the skills of this new 10 man group.

Also, before we continue to talk about the kill, I wanted to thank all the people that helped this group through Sindragosa and many LK attempts. Star, Moon, Froto, Berim, Mel, Juanca, Isa, Jess, Leon (on I think everyone of his toons) and many others made it possible for this second group to get there, and I think they are ahead of the curve on being part of the third group since they have clocked some “flight time” hours already.

Here was our raid composition:

Rextor – Prot Paladin
Theydrin – Blood DK

Hollogos – Disc Priest
Killerkain – Holy Paladin
Stanker – Resto Shaman

Cubby – Kitty
Mime – BM Hunter
Partygirl – Ret Paladin
Stompx – Elem Shaman
Trizilla – Destro Warlock

For the first LK kill I was a part of, we worked on the fight for about a month. We worked on that fight sometimes 4 days a week and the group was pretty consistent. Our healers for that fight were the same classes except that we had a resto druid instead of a paladin. This composition felt a lot easier for the initial phases and a lot more hectic for the later ones.

DK tanks rule this fight because of their “remote” AOE add gathering ability so necessary for many of the phases. If your group has not felt the pain of adds turning around one shooting people or silencing your healers, you have to give tons of props to your tanks.

DPS was actually too high for some of the phases, and as crazy as that sounds the 30% buff now makes this fight a little harder to time properly. You DPS too fast in the initial phase and you might end up with too many adds. You DPS too quickly and you will pull aggro from the tank not so much when he is tanking the LK but when tanking the adds. Our DPS quickly learned to actually stop DPS altogether during some periods of the fight. Its nice to say “guys slow down the DPS” instead of “we cannot do this we just don’t have enough DPS.” You guys do amazing damage.

Most of our wipes came in the toilet bowl frustration filled ability called Defile. The only way to get past this is to practice and get everyone to do their job. There is really no other way to do it. Even if you have a 12K DPS in the fight, when your lose one person you pretty much call it a wipe unless you are in the final phase.

Thinking back on it, we only had one true wipe in the final phase. We had arrived at it before with one player down, even during some of the earlier attempts but the second time we all got there alive we downed him. The timing of the Valks and positioning of where you drop the defile is what makes second phase a roadblock for most raids.

As a team we pushed through many obstacles and adjusted the strategy to serve the group. We started to back each other up and take responsibilities during the fight. In the end the execution felt almost “easy” because we had been preparing so well for it. While there is certainly a little luck as to who gets picked up by the Valks and also who goes into the sword, we managed to work our cooldowns to maximize not DPS but survivability.

I still don’t find this fight “easy mode”, even with a 30% buff. It still requires a lot of teamwork and plenty of skill in every single position of the raid. Again, this accomplishment feels amazing, not just because the end result of getting more people in the guild with the title, but because we did it as a group of casual raiders that don’t have world fame aspiration, nor even fame in our own server. We just want to have fun killing bosses and accomplishing things to share with our guildies that will ultimately strengthen our guild. Today, I am extremely proud to be BoondockSaint.

Player vs Player

Ah, the end of the expansion is coming to a close and we still have so much to do. We continue to raid a lot more than I thought we ever would but for the most part people are having fun. Recently I have entered the world of PvP and having fun learning about it.

While boss encounters, like the LK fight, have a lot of challenging mechanics that require a high level of team play and people knowing what to do; PvP is all of that in a short burst. You first have to see what the other team is going to bring and in seconds come up with a strategy. Then if it does not work (because the healer is just not running out of mana, or another player seems weaker) you switch strategies on the fly.

I am kind of late on this Arena season and have learned a lot. I recommend that if you plan on doing it start getting your experience now so that you don’t feel like a total noob when the next season is out.

I am playing only with my warrior and going arms and I have the good luck to play with all different classes in our teams, from a resto druid to a ret pally we have tons of fun winning. I even almost got the winning streak achievement the other day, but as you rating gets better so does the competition.

If you are interested on starting out, PvP gear is a must! Its the difference between making it lots of fun and frustrating. BGs and WG should get you the starting gear… or maybe you can spend some of those emblems you have no clue what to do with.

If you have a hunter check out Cata’s new camouflage ability, it makes me almost want to roll one… almost!

Guild Management

When I started playing WoW I never imagined that the social interactions of a multiplayer game would translate so closely to real life situations. I have played multiplayer games online for years, but the communities that are formed in WoW are above and beyond even the groups of players that I used to have LANparties with. When it comes to guilds, the similarities between running one and running a company are hard to ignore. Everything that I have learned in management courses applies directly to guild management, and vice-versa. The things that I have learned in the game have also given me insight into managing people and even hiring.

Today’s topic will revolve around the creature we see running around Dalaran with a gear score that puts them “above” us mere mortals, the “hardcore raider.” For this discussion I want to define a couple of things. I consider myself and most of our guild casual raiders, and I put us in that category for the following reason. While we do like to raid and get the phat lootz, to us it is more important to have a peaceful and drama free community than to put up with rude and elitist attitudes. (see Friends > Loot.) I also define a hardcore raider as someone who’s goals in the game revolve mostly around raiding and progression.

WotLK has made the game more accessible. Ask a player that has been to MC when it was current content and he will tell you that the game is now easy. I personally find this a wonderful change because I think that as a consumer we should all get to see all of the content. Games have had a way to enable hard modes for a while and WoW in the past seemed to only allow some people to reach that level. Now raiding seems more accessible to the masses with hard modes and special mounts available to the more dedicated and skilled players. I think that is a good method of offering content, instead of not letting 90% of the players see the end game.

One amazing phenomenon I have observed is that when for whatever their reason (lack of time, weird schedule, family obligations, burnout) hardcore raiders end up in casual raiding guilds. We provide them with the flexibility of not having to show up to every single raid, and still be somewhat competitive. I can only assume than when Cata comes out this will be less appealing to them because what we provide for them for the most part is numbers. Filling up a 25, where the phat lootz are at right now is not easy for a hardcore raider that cannot make the time commitment most progression guilds expect. The interesting thing is how similar these group of people are to consultants in the real world.

Consultants for the most part are people that have a very specialized skill that is needed in a company but not necessarily a full time position. Because of their knowledge they are well paid, but the company wants to get their services and cut the cost as soon as possible. That is also the main reason casual guilds will ultimately take a chance on letting hardcore raiders in. They want the knowledge and the experience they have to help them enter the raids they also want to accomplish. Many consultants will train people in the companies they visit to perform some of the tasks they do, and in guilds it is the same. DPS goes up, strategies are laid out, healing teams seem to work better because of the expertise they bring to the table.

Like in the real world, there are good and bad consultants. I have seen that consultants fall into 3 groups.

Experienced Consultant – They have been there, done that and priced themselves out of a permanent position.
Temp Consultant – They have the knowledge and can consult but would like to be hired on.
Bad Consultant – They like the money consulting offers, but don’t have the experience or expertise to do it.

It was very eye opening to see that hardcore raiders also fall into these same categories when they come into a guild.

Most hardcore raiders that end up in a casual guild have done the content and come ahead of where the progression curve the guild overall has. They are very helpful because they have put in the “wipes” to learn what needs to be done. They offer valuable tips and their contribution to the raid in general is amazing. They will be top DPS, amazing tanks or can single heal fights if you lose people. I consider them all experienced consultants and they will be with your guild until their situation changes and they can get back to the hardcore raiding they really enjoy. They might be wonderful people, but for them the game is about raiding and getting titles, gear, achievements and making friends is secondary to them.

The raiders that I compare to temp consultants are people that for one reason or another got a taste of hardcore raiding (spouse, friend, a guild) and became good at it. They eventually end up at a casual guild for the same reason as those above and like the social aspect of a casual guild. They bring a lot of positive things into the table and might sacrifice that shinny carrot of progression for being part of a guild. They are the most likely to want to become a full participating member of a casual guild and make a home there. I think cata will be the prime time for these folks since you can make a hardcore 10 man inside of a casual guild and be successful. In the current content cycle a 25 hardcore inside of a casual guild is a very difficult thing to accomplish specially in a low population server like ours.

The bad consultant is also the bad hardcore raider. They are either extremely good and elitist thinking they are better than anyone else in the casual guild, or have had a taste of raiding without any real accomplishment but come in with “stories” to back them up. They are the most dangerous to your casual guild and even raid because they will turn casuals off raiding completely if they are not managed properly. The really good ones at the game tend to constantly talk down to others and chastise them for not doing their job. They are the ones constantly pointing the finger at someone so that they are not discovered as really non raiders because they don’t know basic game mechanics like focus targeting or staying out of the fire. They end up in a casual guild either to become a big fish on a small pond or dragged into it by a friend from the groups above. They will be unhappy and want you to change the guild to fit their speed.

Raiders can be part of a casual guild for a period of time as long as they understand that the core of the guild is casual and they are willing to compromise. Like a consultant they need to understand that they are there to bring expertise and become part of the team, but if they want it to be permanent they have to buy into the company’s culture or not become permanent. You can get a lot of them if your guild wants to see content, but you have to be ready to do damage control because they will rock the boat directly or indirectly. Any manager will tell you that bringing consultants in means that their job becomes more difficult because if they don’t keep a close eye the project will not advance.

As a guild leader always keep your goals clear and your team working together. Make sure that your officers buy into the idea of having a group of people come into your guild with raiding aspiration or you will end up alienating some of them. Also remember that its impossible to make everyone happy and any time you add people to your guild either by recruitment or merger personalities will clash. Just make sure that as a leader you have clear vision for your guild and don’t be afraid to change it if most people want a different direction. In the end everyone pays for their own game and they are part of your guild out of their own free will. Just don’t forget to have fun.