Hop Skip Jump

Individuals in our guild have done a lot of content from this last big patch, some even completing raids on the ToC area. Personally I have seen more content than I thought I would see this quickly. However, overall as a guild I think we have skipped too much content.

For me it all started with places that are not warrior tank friendly. Az N and Old Kingdom for example. Both fairly straight forward places now that I am over-geared for them. They are both mid 70 dungeons that should have been mastered before skipping them altogether, but it was a lot easier to do a place I enjoyed like DTK over and over.

Don’t get me wrong, some poorly structured content like Oculus should be skipped, but most of the dungeons that have been designed are pretty good training grounds for future raiders.

Now we have once again started doing the same thing. Instead of perfecting every wing in Naxx we are doing Ulduar and even H ToC raiding. Then people wonder why Ony is such a pain in the butt.

Ony is the perfect example of gear vs experience. No matter how good your gear is, if your party has not mastered movement and position awareness you will wipe there over, and over. It is already being pugged bu some people and it will be farm content soon enough, but the opportunity to learn is missed by just having an overachieving healer or tank or insane DPS “take you” through the content.

Raiding is about team mechanics, but specially about everyone doing their assigned job. Skipping content that shows you certain mechanics of the game does a huge disservice to you as a raider, and it hurt your future performance in a team. Another example of commonly skipped content is Heigan’s dance in Naxx. Overall not a bad fight, but one that people dread because it requires everyone to do something they are not used to doing… moving around.

Before you skip content on try to get into the next new shiny dungeon make sure you are at a point where you enjoy the current content you are geared and experience for. Understanding the fight mechanics is not just the raid leader’s job. Sure its fun to just say, let me know where to stand and I will fire my 9K DPS at the boss, but it does not help the group.

I have been leveling a priest and been loving the experience. As frustrating as it is to be the main target in every PvP encounter, it is also very rewarding to be able to make a difference and “save” things by getting the right heal out at the right time. There are comparable skills like rage management vs mana management, and watching threat… but it also has a lot more situational, like mobs just trowing something at you because they felt like it and interrupting you. That is not even counting someone pulling agro or standing on (yet again) the fire. Its a lot more fun than I thought it would be and will most likely ultimately make me a better tank.

Tanking New Content

I have only tanked an instance that I knew nothing about and did not get any advice one, Drak Theron Keep. Because of it, it is still my favorite instance. I discovered little things and ways of doing it along the way, and it is now something that I can do with most groups in about 20 minutes even on Heroic.

Most raids I have either watched a video online, read a guide or gone with an experienced tank and played OT. While it makes progression easier that way, it also feels like I am cheating myself a little.

As a video game player I have rarely needed a walkthrough. I have been playing Prince of Persia on the Xbox and I am amazed at how easy games have become. There are safety nets everywhere and help along the way. Wow Add ons like questhelper and DBM do the same thing. Maybe I should get burned by the fire more often so I learn where not to stand… maybe the poison should kill me quicker so I don’t stand on it in the first place.

I am amazed at the number of people that still get hit by the wall of lava in OS, and it makes me think that maybe calling the walls out in raid warning might be a bad thing rather than a good thing. The dance in Naxx is probably the best example of this mechanic, because different computers will paint that room at different intervals and there is a definite lag. If you are following someone blindly and don’t know where to stand or stop, you will get hit by a poison shower.

The more I play this game, the more I see how it mirrors real life in many ways. Managing a guild is a lot like managing a department at work. Teaching people to do things has the same parallels. Some people can learn from theory, some can learn from watching a video, most will only learn by doing.

We have people at all stages of the raiding curve at the moment and doing very well in Naxx and Ulduar but still not there with the full clears and still stumble in some bosses. Some of it is tiredness, some of these raids take long time, but most of it is knowing the content that is new to most. These is where the dancing beings.

Here is where tanking gets tricky and where I made my first mistake as a tank. If you have a DPS spec you will see content a lot sooner than as a tank or a healer.

Even though everyone says that DPS are a dime a dozen, this is not true. Sure, there are DPS out there that can do some serious damage, but DPS that can listen and help out in fights are hard to find. If a DPS warrior can cut a mob off while it is running towards a healer and take a hit and survive, you just saved a wipe. Also you get to see the fights live and see how the other tanks are doing it.

If you are lucky, the tanks on the fights you are seeing for the first time are already geared and you might end up with a new piece out of the whole experience.

You have to walk before you run, specially as a tank. Brute forcing everything by overgearing everyone and heading to the greatest and latest content will leave you scratching your head when you start paying tons on repairs on fights that seem simple. Have patience, let everyone around you learn at their pace and you will have stronger and stronger groups.

Our guild has done this and we have a very good 10 man group, bring in only a handful of friends to our 25s. It takes patience and time, but it has made progression a lot more fun. Its all about the journey, not the destination right?

Ulduar Progress

Continued progress in Ulduar

The guild is making good progress in Ulduar now, partly due to easier access to better gear, but mostly because everyone is learning the fights. We were able to one shot three bosses Flame, Razorscale and XT-002. We also tried and defeated after only one wipe Kologarn.

We have reached a pretty good rithm for raiding with doing some easy content like old school raids or Naxx with 10 man ToC or Ulduar in between. We also continue to have plenty of alts with our hunters and mages all having new tanks either at 80 or in the works, it seems that I might have to work on my priest or finally roll a druid.

Speaking of my priest, the 50s went pretty quick, but the 60s seem to be dragging. I need to spend a weekend working on him and questing a bit. I have been slowly but surely just doing battleground and having fun healing and sometimes even topping the charts. It is still a big crap shoot when you BG.

As for Logtar’s gear, I just got a new pair of bracers that will help out a bit. Reading about the content that will come out for the patch 3.3 it seems that I will have to regem for stamina. The patch is getting closer so getting into our 10 man ToC might have to become a priority for me so I can replace a couple of pieces. The patch should help out with also upgrading the emblems to the same level so the gear can rain from the heavens again. I am sitting on 200 emblems right now that should probably go to building a better DPS spec, but I hardly ever really need to or want to DPS.

Everyone that has asked to join the guild lately, its not you, its me :)

We are at a good place right now and like the current group we have. We will add players to the guild, but they need to be have someone sponsor them in. We are slowly but surely talking about the next expansion and we want to have a strong core group to attack that content. Who knows, we might get our wish and have a pretty solid 10 man to start raiding content very early into the next iteration.

TBC Raids – The Battle for Mount Hyjal

The Battle for Mount Hyjal (achievement)

Last night I came in at the tail end of this achievement run put together by Mr Froto and Sal. For a 70 level instance with a group of about 20 level 80s it was still tricky.

The last fight has your standard get out of the fire goodness, but it also has a launch into the air part to it. You are given an item that allows you to slow fall but it is only effective right before you are about to hit the ground. Hit it to early and you are still a pancake. It took us an extra try, but after we all tried the whole jumping and hitting the special item it was a lot simpler.

Almost everyone in the guild got the The Battle for Mount Hyjal achievement, but I am sure that we will have to have an alt run soon. We will also need to do a For The Alliance clean up so all alts have their bear. I think almost everyone’s main now has dragons from timed CoS, now we need to start getting everyone’s alts the same.

We got Froto Yes We Do

One of the coolest cats on our server just joined the BoondockSaints. It came at just the perfect time also because we needed to push for a couple of new raid leaders and he is probably one that we can learn from the most.

Froto is a pro at pugging stuff, and when you pug stuff you learn a lot. You learn to deal with personalities and class mixes that probably are not adequate but you make it work.

He had been chilling in a small guild with some of his friend and now he and his lady are running with us in a official way. Froto had been filling up our ranks when we needed DPS or heals.

Froto and Mime are both great hunters and that output awesome DPS and they will help our progression. In the second night they were on they took a group to EoE which I have never even set foot into!

I have been running H ToC with some of my RL friends that are now 80 and having a blast. I am hoping this week we get 5 or 6 raids going since we now have more people that can lead. I am excited that I am not running any of the raids and I can simply be a participant.

We are also starting our PvP teams and I will sneak in as an alternate and maybe learn something. I will be purchasing the PvP set with all the conquest badges that I don’t have use for anymore and see if I can actually do any good as an arms warrior.

Hardcore Raiders

While my history with WoW seems to have begun just when an ex-coworker finally got me to try the game, it actually begins while living back in Michigan. It was the time of The Shaolin Drunks clan who played together BF1942 games as well as counter strike. Michigan gamers are a pretty cool group and the ones that I enjoyed the most are still keeping each other entertained and even some of them I keep up with on facebook.

Most of them are not just serious gamers, but actually pretty talented at the games. They also taught me a lot about community building and how to treat people with respect while allowing them to pick up the skills to pwn at a game. During that time of FPS madness and forum wars that even a flame suit could not keep you safe from the community started to lose people to WoW. I say lose because while Xfire did allow us to harrass them while they played, their time was all consumed and they could not be bothered with climbing the ladders of the tournaments anymore.

Some of them are still play WoW and I actually been talking with one of them recently. His guild found a way to use a glitch in the game to repeat the direbrew quest over and over. Mounts and shankers rained from the sky until WoW caught up with them and removed the items. I am more on the side of not exploiting the game and not buying gold to power level yourself because I think it takes away from the enjoyment of the game, but I don’t judge them because I know they have fun. They all take their punishment without too much complaint and move on. I do blame this kind of behaviour on the hardcore raider mentality.

Hardcore Raiders are actually pretty lazy players. They rest on their knowledge of the game and while they tell everyone else to go read and watch videos of fights most of them never do. They have figured out the basic mechanics of the game and can get along with having figured out fights in pre-expansion WoW and can now come in and play an expansion for a couple of months and see all the content available. Then they get bored and quit playing.

I have had the opportunity to play with some of the top players on my server. Not sure about the top DPS people because most of the people in our guild are doing over 3K DPS and we have some that easily hit 5K in raids. When it comes to tanking and healing in our server Curan, Citronelle, Wabaam and Imten are some of the best players I have been around. They are all friends but they burn through content with their skills and are bored while everyone else gets geared enough to do the fights with them.

It would be awesome to have them all in the guild at the same time and be able to progress at their pace, but in reality the same issue would be true when they get through it. They would get bored and go on hiatus until new content comes around. We do appreciate the help and knowledge they have given us along with the opportunity to gear up players but our core players make our guild as strong as it is now.

We have added some top PvP people that incidently are just amazing at PvE. I am hoping we can get a solid PvP group and be able to learn from their skills. I still have not explored the PvP capabilities of my warrior and I am looking forward to that.

Everyone plays this game for their own enjoyment and while it is very social for most, some people just want to rescue the princes and move on. Having a Xbox now makes me see that this is where hardcore gaming starts go get very achievement driven. Some of the people in my friend list have beat what seems all the games in a blockbuster and they just burn through content like my wife burns through books. Different strokes for different folks, but I will probably not get to that point because I like enjoying things at a slower pace and not a fan of the wam bam thank you mam!

Brewmaster

Last year I was in Colombia when the Brewfest was going on, so I did not know any of the quest or what getting the Brewmaster achievement entailed. I was on early in the morning the other day and got a jump on all the fun right after Pirate’s day. The quests are pretty straight forward and require only enough patience to actually read the instructions. I am only a couple achievements away from getting everything related to this holiday which seems easier than any of the other ones.

Razorscale One Shoted on the first try!

Our Ulduar group is progressing nicely with getting 5 bosses down on their first try, almost all of them being one shots. We have grown to a pretty healthy size and now have enough tanks to have 4 heroic farming groups going in a good night. We are still trying to balance raiding with casualness but I think we have found a happy medium.

Bluearcher has a KODO now, and we are all pretty jealous. That has to be one of the coolest mounts an alliance can have!

Bear Brought To you By BoondockSaints

Achievements are a time sink that is lower in my list of priorities for WoW, which reminds me that I really need to go grind for some rep and get another flying mount. Achievements that give some kind of rewards are another story. I tried to put a raid together to go kill all the horde achievements, but more importantly that it grants you the reigns of [Reins of the Black War Bear].

The story begins a couple of weeks before. We’ve had a handful of guilds wanting to do run with us and had the chance to do Naxx 25 and OS 25 last week. Also some of them have been asking to merge, but we are not interested on dropping our name or having 1337 players that will tell our friends how much they need to improve. We have a couple of smaller guilds that are pretty much extended members and they provide us with whatever we need to fill groups. As far as mergers we were only interested on mature players that wanted to raid during the evenings and weekends. In our low population server this seemed almost impossible to accomplish, but we were not in a hurry. There was a guild that was recommended by one of our new members, so I started conversations with their GM two weeks ago. We set up events together to have most of them not available… they seemed interested but really could not seem make the effort. Most guilds seem to overstate their membership, and they told me they had 10 regular players but I never saw more than 5 online at once. I was not holding my breath, but it would have been very nice to fill the guild with players that would take us to being able to do a full 25 man with mostly BoondockSaints.

I have been leveling my priest. We really are goon on healers right now since our main healer is back from an extended vacation and we have added 4 new people that do an excellent job keeping our tanks alive. But I leveled Logtar extremely fast and did not get to enjoy the labor of love that is running things your level and working on your professions. I have been having fun healing BGs and old world dungeons with the priest.

This past weekend I had the best group in a long time. The pace was good, the people were funny and polite and we just had a blast in Sunken Temple. It made me remember the times when I grouped with Moon and Star back when we were all 40s. So after we finished the dungeons I asked if there was anyone over 20. Someone replied and told me they were over 30 but would not say how old. We stayed and chatted for a bit and what do you know… there was a small guild of people that were trying to do heroics, and they were all real life friends all over 30. Not just that, they were looking for a guild our size to come to. I did not get too excited, I discussed it with the officers as a just maybe type of deal. The following day some of them got to run with one of your heavy DPSers and we exchanged tells back and forth.

The next day I get a tell… hey, someone wants to ask you a couple of questions… I said sure. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then, ok, we’re ready. We all want to come over… O.o

Seriously? Yeap, our guild merged just like that… the next day everyone was on vent and their personalities fit right in! So now with over 20 people on we said, hey lets do For The Alliance… and BAM, full raid in about 15 minutes.

We had attempted to kill Sylvanas Windrunner in The Undercity not too long ago, but we had maybe 15 people in the raid we knew and the 5 extra just did not push us over on DPS. We got her half way down and then THE HORDE showed up. I did not have high expectations because I have seen what happens when a horde town is attacked and how quickly they come and counter any attempt.

To my surprise though, the group did awesome and we not only pwned the Windrunner, we pwned the resistance that showed up at Undercity. We did so well that we headed to kill Lor’Themar Theron in Silvermoon City and got him even faster. People started talking about Ogrimar and my death alarm started going off, but I said what the heck… portals up, lets get it on.

This is when the heavy horde numbers started to show up, but we pushed through even as we got separated and had to do the fight with Warchief Thrall in Orgrimmar with almost half of the people from the raid on ghost form. This was at 9:00 P.M server time when most people in our server play. We struggled but we killed him… had a harder time getting out of Orgrimmar but prevailed. That is when we got a little too confident and when we showed up to kill Cairne Bloodhoof in Thunder Bluff we were outnumbered.

I was not sure about attempting to finish it the next day, but when we had almost 30 people in the guild on, and getting a couple of tells from the people that got on our raid the night before, I said sure. We slowly got a lock and a small group to the north of Thunderbluff, got everyone summoned and with only a handful of people besides the twenty some from our guild we killed eat more Tauren. We circled around and killed the Windrunner again since not everyone was on the night before, but were stomped in Orgrimar since we lacked the numbers we had the night before. Most people in our guild now have the Warbear, and now its just a matter of getting it for other alts. Its a neat achievement to complete because you truly need to be able to lead a raid of 40 which is like trying to get 40 monkeys to sit still.

That was tons of fun!
Ogrimar Down

Raiding – Am I Ready?

Raiding is one of the funnest things you can do in WoW. Coordinating a group of people to accomplish a goal is the most exciting and challenging thing about the game IMO. I get questions quite often about how to run a certain dungeon or when will I be ready to run a raid… so I wanted to write something that applies in a general level to people that want to get started in the raiding world.

As much fun as raiding can be, it can also be nightmarish and time consuming. Nobody likes to have a repair bill with nothing to show for week after week. Some people don’t mind doing the same content over and over, (check out my pug checker, I can do DTK every day and still love the place) but die enough times and it will grind a group to a halt. Lucky for us, our guild has been very relaxed and even though we have not advanced as much as some people might like, we still love the game and playing with each other which I think its the most important thing.

That said I wanted to be very honest about how involved raiding can be, and how the following are some of the things you seriously have to consider when you start raiding.

Every class in WoW has very specific intricacies that put together in a raid group lead to killing that freaking big dragon. While every class is extremely different in some respects and the level of customization in the game is the highest I have ever seen for a video game. All of that flexibility makes things complex enough that you can truly hurt yourself with your character build. But, when it comes right down to it, playing the World of Warcraft raiding does have some basic principles.

Movement

From the first time a whole raid was charred to a crisp fighting in Kara I learned the frustration that can dismantle a group after a wipe. Don’t move means serious, don’t move… no seriously, let go of the keys, don’t try to get that last spell out, don’t try to move a little bit to get a better angle view, just seriously don’t move. At the same time, RUN AWAY, means just that. So many elements of the game have to do with where you are, how far you need to be from something or other party members… don’t stand in black circles. Whenever you are not sure about an encounter, you need to ask and follow the directions of the experienced people.

Your CAP

The thing that will dictate a lot of what you do when it comes to raiding is your “CAP” which means that you have hit the maximum level for your more important stat. However, there is other caps along with that one. While a tank being 540 is very important so he does to get “crited” anymore, his hit rating and expertise are also crucial so he lands the hits and does not get dodged or parried. Once you know your goals, then you can start planning your gear shopping list

The LOOT

Loot at times feels like chicken and egg. Blizzard just made things a lot simpler and even though I was already playing a simpler game than original WoW raiders, this latest patch (3.2) equalized a ton. You have the Tournament of Champions, a place that you can get 10 man raid level gear with just 5 people. That and now all the badges put into two groups make it very stright forward to obtain new pieces of gear without relying on the luck of a drop and the chance at a /roll.

With LOOT though, you have to once again do more research. You need to know where the loot drops that you need. If you are still missing that amazing neck piece and your DPS is still towards the bottom of the list, you need to read up on where to get it. Gear will help you achieve tons, but it is only part of the equation.

The other important thing once you have the gear is to get it enchanted and gemmed.

The Build

So you have the gear, but your (DPS, Healing, Threat generation) still are lacking? The next thing to consider is your build. Your build simply put is the methodology you use when assigning your talent points, and also what glyphs you use.

The easy way is to look for someone’s build and copy it, however this is not the answer. You don’t know how that person plays. Some people have no problem using 5 or 6 abilities, some people use simply 3 or 4. That does not include cooldowns. I will caution you on your builds and glyphs to make sure you don’t spend valuable talent points or spots on your glyph slots that you just don’t use or use very little.

The Rotation

What buttons you press on what order is as important as everything else in the game. If I don’t hit one of my shouts or charge into our DPS and my rage will suffer. If I am DPSing and don’t hit my trinket that gives me extra attack power right before I hit one of my special abilities, I am not doing a good job. If a high DPS hunter does not misdirect on me when we start an encounter, their DPS might pull agro from me.

While your primary abilities are important, knowing what secondary abilities you need to use in what situation makes a huge difference in a raid. It also ensures that your DPS, Heals or tanking stays constant. It does not matter that you hit 4K DPS once, if you cannot maintain it over the course of a run.

How do I know when I am ready then?

The baby step for almost everyone is to join a guild that raids, casual raiders will probably be more patient than people that are doing the hardest content and consider themselves hardcore. If the guild has people that know the class you want to play and are willing to share their knowledge you have struck gold. Keep in mind that they will be able to steer you in the right direction. They can only open the door, you have to actually go through and learn the theory behind things.

That said, there are tons of ways to “cheat” to acquire the knowledge above about your character.

There are several add ons that will tell you where the gear is “hidden” all over WoW. Also there are gear evaluation add ons, and a new nifty interface built right into WoW itself that will compare the gear you want with what you have currently on your character.

The internet is full of resources, class specific blogs and “evaluators.”

So if you want a straight answer, Imba can tell you where you are ready to go based on your gear (check out the Gear-O-Meter at the bottom), and WoW Popular will tell you what is the most popular currently. But you cannot replace everything with shortcuts, and if you want to raid, you need to do your homework and practice.

Feel free to post the resources you use in the comments :)

Guild Meeting



Last night we gathered on the stairs of the StormWind Cathedral to have a guild meeting. The officers and I wanted to share the rules and our vision of the guild. We are averaging about 20 people online every night and are very happy about our new regular players. Last night we had almost everyone there at the time of the meeting except for those that had family visiting from out of town. After we had gone through all the information we needed to discuss Aloea’s new little addon started counting down Wintergrasp and we decided to head there as a guild, plus a couple of our friends. We had our own raid and had a blast actually taken over with about 10 minutes to spare. The we decided to go raid Undercity since we had an actual guide with us.

We entered via the sewers and did quite well until the horde started showing up. Our raid had 20 people and was able to get Sylvanas more than half. I perished when I tried to take some of the hunters that showed up only to encounter about five others around. They picked us off quite easily after our big bruisers all of our plate wearers were subdued. We try to start it back up again but guards plus horde were too much. If we would have had a full raid, which is what we will do next time :) she would have been down. It is an interesting encounter, and a lot more fun than what I thought it was like. My previous experience has been simply defending Ironforge and a failed attempt by a mostly pug Thuderbluff attempt, and for it being our first time as a group I was impressed.