Progression is a Ladder NOT a slope

It still amazes me that people think that they don’t have to constantly work on their class to reach new levels, even after 80. Some people think that squeezing X amount of DPS on Y fight makes them automatically raiders, and that could not be further from the truth.

Being a progression raider is having the patience to wipe not just 3 times in a boss, but 30. While your progression group on 10 might be clearing content, a group gearing it behind it will wipe a lot more. Just having one uncommitted player will wipe a raid very easily, and that is not even counting the people that forget to switch specs, equip their weapon after fishing or having technical difficulties. After wipping over and over on a boss because people don’t seem to be able to kill the spikes, move out of the fire or poison or simply cannot run away when the wolf yells at you (not to mention how expensive things get when you have better gear); you cannot blame people for not wanting to do something over and over.

Enter our guild, our mantra has leaned more towards the constant wipes on the same content until everyone gets it. Now that we have grown, we have amongst us people that might want to help but are not really into the business of waiting for someone to “get” a fight. They see the game from the mechanics perspective and one a mechanic like “move out of the fire” is in their arsenal, they don’t understand why the pretty blue flames are any different or harder for people to grasp than the green flames or purple puddles.

I don’t blame them for feeling that way. I sometimes feel that same way too, however I play the game for the social aspect as much as I play it for the kill the dragon aspect. I love my guildies, I love that the guild gives them the opportunity to see content that they might have never reach in other guilds. I love watching the progress and getting advice from one of the people that gets study the class they play like a college course. Even before we got the talent that we now have we had already progressed beyond my wildest imagination where there was only a dozen of us starting out.

However there is something I want everyone to understand about progression and our guild. Every new boss requires you to use skill that you should already have but in addition there is coordination, gear requirements (resistance, DPS level), homework and attitude. You will see guilds that are very geared but still cannot get a boss down, and it happens because the teamwork is not there. To have progression you have to balance all of those things or you will be hitting walls over and over. No raider, even in our very helpful guild, will be happy to carry you to the next step, lend a hand sure, push your butt to the next step? no.

Progression is NOT about gearscore. Progression is simply about being able to do what you are supposed to do when the raid leader asks you to do it. Be it, move out of the fire, or only heal to 50% because anything else will actually heal the boss that you are about to kill. Also understand that that ladder can turn into a slide very quickly (almost like a cartoon mouse turning a switch on that pesky cat) when you lose a key player. Be patient, progression takes time, and if you are told you are not ready don’t get mad, ask what will make me ready? The cake is not green!

Even in the days of loot falling out of the sky, not many guilds are farming ICC. We are now right in the progression race and this week actually got to Sindragosa with one of our 10 mans. Like one of our guildies said, you can smell the lich king from there, and yes we do smell blood.

So Much Fun!

Having a conversation with a guildie and a raid leader from another guild this week made me realize I am not the only one having so much fun with the current content.

One of them is a very experienced player and the reason I have seen so much of ICC (I healed all the way up to professor last night), the other is a player that is raiding with us primarily but can know do a raid with any group on our server.

They both come from totally different spectrums in the play world of raiding from casual to hardcore and they are both having a blast with raiding the content that is in WoTLK.

The old time raider like me admires the work that has been put into encounter mechanics. How every fight and every pull requires slightly different skill, and mobility and targeting is not just something a couple of people have to be good at, but everyone has to do or the fight is over before it even starts.

The new raider is looking at the raid world for the first time and appreciating that our raid group is both patient and skilled. We don’t carry people, everyone works hard and that way all of our accomplishments feel earned. We try to bring everyone up to par, even if some of our DPS people are just getting outrageous and being able to count as two people… lol

Our guild has conquered several hard modes now, a couple of us got our Heroic Drakes, most now are wearing the Champion of the Frozen Waste and Nightfall titles. While a lot of it can be attributed to gear being so easy to obtain, I still see pugs fail in completing content constantly. While a lot of is puggable by many, you still require some skill to accomplish things. Just try to run VoA during the weekend and you will see what I am talking about (how hard is it to switch to the orbs – I have no clue because I only tank or heal). Putting those skills to test makes it fun, being with a group of friends makes it even better.

As a guild we have completed all of Naxx with almost every 80, 3 different 10 mans have now done EoE, we area about 8 bosses deep into Ulduar and complete ToC every week. I think this week we will get past CapnCrunch in ICC, and once we are done assisting on the 25 some of us have been lucky enough to take part of, I think we can bring the knowledge back and have a consistent 10 man doing ICC. We are not at the cutting edge of progresssion, but don’t be fooled by people that think that killing Arthras is simple, even with a 10% buff now. Only a small percentage of people is attempting hard modes at the moment in ICC, several groups are hitting walls in either healing or DPS.

Our group? We are enjoying the content that is both fun and challenging. Sure the shinny purples are pretty, but things like beating a boss tanks to a well placed bandaged can only be enjoyed with a fun group of people! Happy Raiding Saints!

5K DPS FTW!

During an AOE pull your helpful “recount” meter hits 5K and you go OMG! I AM READY FOR ICC! because gearscore and DPS of 5K is all it takes. At least that is what everyone in trade chat has been advertising lately.

Damage Per Second (DPS) is one of the most talked about subjects in WoW. The moment you start tracking it it almost becomes an obsession even if you are just a tank or a healer. The numbers are misunderstood a great deal though. Gearscore also does not make it any easier.

This week our server’s weekly raid is the first boss in ICC which created quite the stir all over the place, from trade chat now asking LFM ICC 5K+ Gearscore, checking gear in the South Bank; to our guildies still farming frost emblems asking, can we go to ICC?

We have about 2 ten mans that can clear the first 3 bosses of ICC. Eventually I think we will even have a 25 capable of entering and getting some loot out of there. I think only our 10 mans will be able to actually kill Arthras, but you never know. However, this week we need about 4 groups of 10s to get most people to get their 5 emblems of frost, and that is not an easy thing to do. What does it have to do with DPS? everything.

While we can teach people how to position, move out of fires, have the perfect strategy, and every flask and special food that should put us where we need to be… in the end WoW is a game on numbers. You need X number of DPS to kill Y boss in Z minutes, not even counting your healers running out of mana.

The first encounter in ICC is very simple once you learn how to do it. There are two things that are complex and one is a simple move out of the fire, and the second one is kill something (in this case bone spikes that just impaled potentially one of your healers.)

DPS also needs to be measured accurately. We have DPS that can in a multi mob pull do more than 10K DPS. They also can do about 5K in situational DPS, meaning moving out of a fire to another spot that you can DPS from. You can do unreal amount of DPS, but if you spend too much time getting back into position to do DPS, your DPS is lost during that period of time. That is why DPS as a number is inaccurate and damage done is more telling of what actually happened when you look at meters.

Those skills need to be learned and practiced, and gear will not get you to those numbers. Raiding is all about that, being able to do things that help the team achieve the goal. Standing in the right place is the first step, but also being able to consume the slice of life assigned to you by your group is essential.

So far we have done 2 ICC runs this week, one mixed with another guild that has been gracious enough to take us all the way up to Festergut so we can get our tanks some gear, and one guild only run that took some tweaking and learning but we killed the boss. I think we still are capable of running a couple of more and have plenty of people that can actually pug ICC for this week (since everyone in the server will be at least trying to do it.)

So be careful of how you measure yourself against those numbers, specially if survibability is the priority in a fight. Doing 5KDPS for the first minute will never compare with someone that does 2.5K DPS for an entire 5 minute fight. When we downed ICC this week as a guild, not just our progression people but regular guildies we did it with teamwork and everyone pulling their weight. We even did it with someone wearing their chefs hat!

Lady Deathwhisper and Gunship Battle Down

We are on a roll ladies and gentleman. Last night we took a mixed group between our original kill and new comers that were not saved and had our second kill in ICC as a guild.

Lady Deathwhisper was not as tough as originally thought and after one run through just to make sure everyone knew their roll pretty good we got into a great rhythm. We got to the second phase extremely quickly in our second attempt and knew exactly what to correct. Our DPS was amazing and our heals even better. Even with a couple of the healers only stepping into ICC for the first time ever.

The gunship battle is a lot simpler of an encounter and all about teamwork. We had that down path and spent more time just having fun with the jet packs. I need one of those just to have in game, that thing is cool.

It was getting late and we all had to work so we only attempted sourfang once but he does seem a little tougher than the previous bosses. I think this week we should have an easier time in the encounters we have already figured out and actually get to work on the later bosses more and more. 3 encounters down in one week is not bad progression. Hopefully this week we can get one more under our belt and continue to progress. We also had some awesome loot drop :) that is only going to make two of our top DPS even better. ICC is turning out to be a lot more fun than frustrating. We are also going back and clearing Ulduar, I think after a full clear there we will start attempting some hard modes. Happy raiding.

Lord Marrowgar

We did it! our first ICC boss kill as a guild!

We have been farming emblems every week and making sure that everyone gets their frost from the weekly raid. We are getting to know the new people that joined us and have been able to run things a lot quicker because of it.

So last night after we got done with the last couple of runs in OS to make sure all alts had their emblems of Frost we happened to have some of our top DPS and heals on. I was originally going to tank, but after the advice of Theydrin who practically ran the raid for us (he is up to Festergut with on 25) I switched to heals and let our other tanks do the tanking.

The fight is simple if you 1) get people out of spikes quickly and 2) stay out of the fires. Once everyone understand that there should be no hesitation to lose some DPS to get out of a fire or burn down a spike your success rate goes through the roof.

Our first attempt was a wipe, but we got him to about 10% and simply ran out of mana. We started very organized and positioned properly, but after the first bone storm we went all over the place and started to run into people out of reach of the healers. We did not lose anyone during the first bone storm, but by the second one we actually had to brez someone. We then got into a groove but even though we did not get close to the enrage timer all of our healers were out of mana.

During our second attempt everyone knew what to expect and our positioning was a lot better throught the fight. We did not have as many close calls as we did in the first one when it came to heals and bone spikes were burnt quickly. During the first attempt people needed at least two or even heals until they were brought back to full, the second attempt they were down very quickly and only ran into a snag when someone got spiked right over a fire.

We burnt the boss with time to spare and just enough mana. We moved onto the next boss and got a couple of very nice attempts, but since we all have jobs to attend to we decided to pick it at a later time.

We are making progress slowly and I am sure we will do another ToC this week, who knows maybe even TogC which takes less time and still gives cool loot!

Thanks again for everyone’s patience and hard work!

10 Man Progression

Ladies and gentleman we are advancing. This past week we completed almost every 10 man raid available to us except for ICC. The funny thing is that we have been doing it without a schedule or set times, it is just whenever we have a group on and a raid to go to we seem to simply go and get it done.

We now have one of our trees back, hopefully the other one is done with basic training soon. Our healing corps are doing amazing. We have two Shammans which now seem to be what everyone wants on their raid, and not just any Shammans but they are doing excellent.

This week we completed ToC and VoA as a guild on the same night and I believe that everyone ended both runs with a smile on their face. We even got the Salt and Pepper achievement from the Valkaries.

Hopefully this week we get a different raid boss so we can do more Naxx runs and start getting some more people the raid experience they need to get into the harder content. While I am thankful for the Emblems of frost from the weekly riad, they do end up getting most of our toons saved to different raid locks and prevent us from doing all of Naxx as a guild. Maybe this week.

Great job guys, and thanks again for the raid leaders that are stepping up!

Reaching the Latest Content

Blizzard has made it simple for the casual player to obtain not just gear but access to content. While I do believe that most high level raids still require above average knowledge of the game and the fight mechanics; in the next couple of months I think everyone that has the goal of at least killing the Lich King should be able to do so. That was not true in previous iterations of the game.

Last week was the first time that I healed the new boss in VoA in 10, but also tanked it on both 10 and 25. I had not been able to do that with Ony when she got her upgrade to 80. I did go in the first week and tried for a couple before she actually went down. It was not until this week that I actually got the Mord Dots Achievement. It felt good to be able to see and conquer new content the week it was released. ICC has been a little slower to progress, but the guild is making progress and we have 3 players going to a 25 every week and they are advancing, and one of our healers in another 25 that is even further. It is only a matter of time until our 10 gets going and we can have the accomplishment down for our guild.

When I started playing in BC one of that things that really bothered me about the game once I started to understand it was that you truly don’t get to see all the game unless you raid. There are tons of content and story lines in the game that you can explore through quests, but he culmination of most of them comes in the form of a dungeon encounter. That cool special mount you want? yeap, you have to go to a dungeon or a raid.

I have heard over and over how even in BC the game was watered down from the days of 40 man raids and I don’t disagree. I don’t find that fair that a game would not give you access to the cool things that were built unless you have above average skill. I think Blizzard is doing a great job of making the game accessible and easy to pick up and level. I even sound like an old timer when I tell my wife that it was not that simple to get a mount and your time walking around in the past was not counted in days but months.

It still does not take away from the game for me in any level. There are plenty of achievements and hard modes that are badges of honor. That and having a guild that has grown at a very slow pace but with players that want to hang out and do stuff together. We have an easier time putting a 10 man on the spot now than a couple of months ago and have completed things that at first seem unsurmountable for a casual guild. Sure, some of it is the access to easier gear and being able to level a lot quicker now, but it still does not take away from having a bunch of people always willing to help one another achieve their individual goals.

I am super excited that I have been able to run dungeons with real life friends, and I know that is only thanks to being part of a great casual guild. I look forward to taking down ICC, and it might not be a world or server first, but at least I will be with a bunch of people that has made every night we play a source of endless jokes and entertainment.

Can my tokens buy badgers?

Nuke’s comment to a previous thread made me realize that I am starting to assume that everyone is up on the WoW lingo and so lets help out a bit.

Gear in WoW comes from three main sources.

Crafting: Someone makes the stuff
Drop: You kill a dude and after decimating you something useful is left behind (where do murlocks keep their gold?)
Badges – Tokens – Honor: If the encounter did not give you a new shiny, it most likely gave you a token! WOOT (Quests, Arena and BG can also give you such things)

Gear in WoW becomes outdated every time there is a major patch. When harder content is released, all other gear currently hard to get its automatically easier to obtain. Since I have been playing WoW there are ways to obtain gear if you grind. Many pieces that are meant for PvP can be used in PvE while you get a drop or grind some more… but it applies mostly to DPS classes, and to some extent healers. Tanks are probably the hardest to gear since there are no really good PvP tanking… but that can be debated.

Right now tier 10 is what the top tier set is. The t9 set is very simple to get since all the dungeons now give you Emblems of Triumph. This set is not purchased in Dalaran, is actually sold right outside of the ToC area. There are also several pieces in between t10 and t9 that come from killing mobs in the new dungeons. If you get a toon to 80, farming the new instances every day will allow you to get geared in a quick fashion, probably the quickest that the game has allowed. Also, the Emblems are downgradable, so if there is trinket or back that might be from a lower tier set (sold in Dalaran above the portal room), you can downgrade your badges and purchase it.

This is the main reason that most raiding guilds will laugh at someone with even a set of blues for their raids. It has become pretty easy to purple yourself out in days instead of weeks like in previous iterations. I believe that it used to take even months to get just a piece in the original WoW raiding, and most people did not even get to wear purples. BC made it weeks to see a purple, and months to get a complete set… I would say about 75% of the people did not get to even see a full set, but most got at least some purples. In Wotlk getting a purple is just a matter of entering a heroic dungeon, and in days with the right grinding you can have a full set of tiered gear.

Getting items crafted is very expensive. You can sometimes get them from the auction house, but it will most likely cost you over 1K gold for any current gear. Again, since pieces will become outdated, it is likely that you can get something crafted from the previous set at a lower price. Patterns to make the best stuff come from the latest content, so it is unlikely that you will be crafting your own pieces unless you are already raiding the latest content. I would not steer you away if you have a lot of gold, but for most people this is not the route to go. Specially if you plan on actually raiding because a drop most likely will replace something that you got a week ago for 3K gold.

Drops is the best way to gear up. You have to create a list of where you can get the best gear from. Raids will obviously get you the best, but dungeons can also gear you up quite a bit and get you ready to raid. Be efficient about your time and run your toon through dungeons you actually need, unless you are still looking for tier pieces where I would suggest you get as many emblems as quickly as possible.

Once you get the gear, then you go for enchants and gems… but that is for another post and another day :)

Progression does not mean left behind

After another very fun guild meeting with taking down 25 man OS right after, a group of us started trying to shape our new 10 man group. The next day people logging on see a raid forming and start feeling automatically left behind.

Our guild has 3 speeds of players.

Serious raiders that like to get content done but don’t want to deal with the annoyance of a “hardcore raiding guild” that will mistreat their members at the first mistake or kick them out for a no show.

Casual raiders that want to raid, but don’t have the time to commit to set raid days and times.

Last but not least we have the people that play and are not interested on the raiding aspect of the game.

The problem arises when someone from the casual group wants to go do what the serious raiders want to do, but don’t get a spot on a run that they have the time for. For the most part this does not become an issue because several of our raiders are used to pugging and will gladly step aside if a guildie wants to go on a run. It becomes an issue the moment we start saying progression because it means that we are making that raid with the best players available in an attempt at doing slightly more challenging content.

We have several ideas on how to make everyone feel included, but for now we are settling for two 10 mans. One we are calling our progression 10 man which will be doing higher content ToC, TogC, ICC and hard modes. The other one (or two others since we now have plenty of extra 80 alts) will concentrate on gearing people and just getting people familiar with raiding if they are new in Naxx, OS, Vault and Ulduar.

Honjuder had the great idea that we devote one 10 man per day starting on Tuesday to the weekly raid. We will still wait for the schedule to be ironed out and put in game hopefully before the end of this week.

Froto has stepped up to lead our more serious raiders and I will be using my alt to lead other raids as needed. Since some of the content will not intersect, I might even be able to run some of the gearing runs. Simply sign up for the runs and be ready to show us what you can do. The raids at the progression level will be formed to have the best chance to succeed.

So check out the calendar in game for upcoming events and be part of the fun! The key to a raid besides showing up is being a good team player.

Also see one of the officers if you want to schedule other events, we are going to go on another bear run in the coming weeks.

Patch 3.3 LFG

Since I started playing WoW the game went from BC to WotLK and even though the changes to the game were fantastic and big nothing has changed the game like the latest feature implemented. They removed the annoyance of travel to dungeons altogether and let you earn money, mats, rep and emblems for as long as you can stomach it.

Even though there have been about 25% crappy groups, the chances of you having to group with those people again makes it a non issue. Besides the people that don’t know the fights at all, even gear seems to be a non issue in most heroics, minus of course the new content.

At first I though I was getting paired up with people with my same gear level, but that is actually just a side effect of the people on the first night who had downloaded the patch prior or had a faster connection. I’ve had some amazing groups that impressed me by their level of both play and good manners. I’ve also seen the lowest of the low. The question is now, why do I need a guild?

Raids – You will still your guild to run raids. Raids require good communication and knowing people’s play style. Even in the harder dungeons can turn into a wipe fest if people don’t communicate.

Enchants and Gems – Unless you have an unlimited amount of money and a good AH, you will have an easier time getting that shinny new gear ready for raids with a group of good crafters working together and everyone sharing the greens that are raining from the sky.

Fun groups – As much fun as it is to burn through a instance without stopping it gets mechanic and old quickly. Its nice to be able to run with the people you know when they are online. Specially now that we are all going to be so overgeared! Also with partial groups being filled so quickly, you and a couple of guildies can have tons of fun with the LFG system.

Cataclysm – I cannot wait for the new expansion and all the changes that will be attached to guild achievements. Having a solid guild going into the new expansion is going to make it 100x better.

That’s all I have for now. I am halfway to getting my pug and loving the experience.