Saturday, May 23, 2009

As Good as a Rest

25 man attendance in Guild has, to put it mildly, nosedived.

It doesn't take a genius to work out why: it's 70 degrees outside today, it's gonna be lovely all weekend, and anyone in their right mind's gonna be outside enjoying it. If they're not in the sun it's a good bet they'll be in the pub. This is not Instancing weather. Generally of course, it's Summer and that's never a good time to be a GM. People who aren't playing now will come back when the weather is bad and expect everything to pick up where they left off. This does then cause issues when people expect progress but aren't there to facilitate it. Last year we tried to pretend it didn't happen, and we lost people as a result. This year, I have a plan.

I posted earlier in the week that 25 man was gonna happen regardless of the numbers, and that we were going to PuG the remaining people we needed. This met with a predictable set of responses (everything from enthusiasm to utter fear) but I was unfazed. I got a tip off that someone's other half had changed Guilds, a Guild I know a fair few people in and who I know are about at the same level of progress as us. He'd been talking to people, and double-teaming was a definite possibility. I e-mailed my main contact there and asked him if anyone there might be interested. He said he thought people would be and promised to post summat on their Guild site. Then I sat back and crossed my fingers. The biggest worry whenever you organise ANYTHING is whether anyone will be bothered to show up. 25 man Naxx does at least offer relevant gear, relevant badges and upgrades for all but the most committed. I hoped this would be enough.

So, last night I picked up ten people from Guild and waited. As start time rolled around I got a whisper from the other Guild: they had eight willing bodies. We had tanks, they had healers, dps was strong, but we were still light. I picked up a couple of bodies from friends lists and whispers and by the time I finally entered Naxx (for the second time, forgot heroic mode the first time ^^) we'd pulled together 22. I was confident. This was doable.

It was a night to remember. We had one wipe on Thaddius, and that was it. We cleared three wings in two and a half hours. We divided the loot fairly and with no complaints. It ran fast, clean and gave at lest 70% of the Raid some kind of upgrade. It also meant that we kept the people who wanted to raid happy without the need for a huge recruitment drive or massive amounts of werk. I suspect it will be the first of many trips over the Summer as well, without the need for either Guild to go out of it's comfort zone or change the way things run.

Change really is a good thing, if it works :D

Friday, May 22, 2009

Story Time

Rule #3: Always make sure that you know the loot priorities when setting out with a new group of people.

Zul'Gurub launched in Patch 1.7, back in September 2005. For someone who was casual, completely in blue and in no position to get anywhere near 40 man raiding, ZG was a very attractive possibility. The problem of course was getting there, and finding a group of people in our Guild Back Then was a tough prospect. There weren't even 20 people online on a good night.

One night in late 2005 my husband was asked by someone on his FL (lovely dwarf pally who I always wave to when I see him still) if he'd like to come along and heal (yes he was Holy back then) for a ZG run. They had a space for a dps too, would he like to bring me? As I congregated outside the instance with the other people I felt more than a little inadequate: these people were better geared and clearly all knew each other. I could only hope I'd be able to do my best.

We did the first two bosses (Bat, Snake) with a surprising measure of ease, I learnt later they'd been at it for some months. I scored points for doing as I was told and throwing out decent dps. Loot drops were all handled by rolling. There was no obvious bias towards anyone, if you needed you rolled. This seemed a great deal fairer than all the various loot systems I'd read about, especially fairer than DKP. Those three letters scared me. I stood at the back and kept quiet.

Then we arrived at Bloodlord Mandokir. This boss was tough. We wiped several times and it got close to the scheduled finish time. I learnt via a whisper that the group hadn't as yet pulled this boss down. We ended up exploiting the spears in the boss area (which of course they subsequently removed) and he died. There was much rejoicing, this was a significant kill.

When they cracked open the boss for loot, they found Mandokir's Sting.

I can still even now remember how excited that piece of loot made me feel. It was my first ever chance at an Epic Item. I'd had Blue items drop before I'd felt the same way about as well, but this was different. This was actual proper Hunter Loot. There was only one other Hunter in the raid, a Night Elf, and I sat patiently and waited to be told when to roll. And I waited. When the call went out, I shut my eyes and pressed my macro button.

I won.

It was only after I was given the item that I realised summat was up. The hunter stopped talking to me. There were some awkward silences. I decided that I was just being silly, and looked forward to going back to Ironforge to make a quiver for the arrows I'd now be using instead of my normal bullets. There was a great deal of internal squeeing too of course... It was only when I'd left the raid and was selling stuff that I found out what the problem was.

'You won MY item :( '

The hunter whispered me and decided she'd tell me how it was. Apparently the bow 'was promised' to her should it drop, and I shouldn't even have been given a chance to roll on it. I was a Dwarf, my Racial was guns, why on earth had I even rolled? I explained as politely as I could that I'd been told what the loot system was, I'd done as I'd been instructed and I'd rolled higher. Therefore, the item was mine. She kept at me for nearly an hour until I logged in desperation. I'd never experienced Loot Rage before, but I knew now just how mind-blowingly destructive it could be.

In the end, the hunter got us both thrown out of that group. We raided for a few months (with some fun times when AQ opened in 2006) , I picked up a couple more items from ZG and AQ, but as a result of what happened the leaders introduced a 'Wish List' system where you had to say what item you wanted from the instance before you went again and you were only allowed to take items that no-one else wanted... it was a bad idea. In the end, their fairness to just let people /roll failed to take into account you need everyone to be prepared to be fair in the first place. If people won't, no loot system will ever work properly. It actually began my journey into 20 and 40 man raiding on a note of caution: make sure you know and understand ALL the rules before you go. I'd see the Hunter from time to time, but I was on /ignore.

I moved on.

So earlier today, I was up at the Tournament, LFG Chillmaw (as is my normal daily routine) when I was invited to a group by a mage. As I joined I watched as my bow-coveting Hunter left the group. Thirty seconds later the mage made a lameassed excuse about being needed in Guild and disbanded (as both were in the same Guild). I thought long and hard and then whispered him, telling him that three years to hold a grudge really was a bit pointless, and he should say hi to the hunter from me. I found another group for Chillmaw, and went on my way.

Thirty minutes later, the hunter whispered me.

We spent the next hour or so chatting: about how she was sorry about the loot, how she'd left that group as well and gone to a Guild with a bunch of people who are now with us, how that had fallen apart and she'd gone to a third Guild and then back to where she was now. She spoke about how she missed people who had left, how things have changed over the years. She seems to be running 10 mans on her own now (which I don't envy, I know how tough that is) and also seemed genuinely grateful to be able to talk to me about anything and everything. The fact she apologised speaks a lot for me: there's really not much point in life if you don't learn from your mistakes, and it was very satisfying to have someone be that honest and upfront. I also learnt that a lot of those people from that first alliance have gone: burnout, abuse, general lack of interest in a game that still makes me want to play it every day. It just goes to show that people play this game for a huge number of reasons.

It also proves the point that it's never too late to say you're sorry.

Honor Amongst Thieves

So then. Epic Achievement. Nope, didn't get an Ulduar trinket (though last night I did pick up the rather gorgeous Vest of the Glowing Crescent) I cheated. Well, that's possibly the wrong word, but it did feel a tad sneaky. Let me explain why.

M picked up a lot of WG honor a while back, when she didn't have a decent hat and decided to grind for the WG Marks one. Yesterday I took P out for some PvP action, and to spend the 72300 HP I had before I hit the 75000 ceiling. I bought myself a Medallion of the Alliance and then started looking about for other possible upgrades... and then realised that the Battlemasters trinkets have an i213 level (hooray for addons that tell me this :D) So, I logged M, checked whether she had enough honor, and went and bought a Battlemaster's Bravery. I equipped it in both trinket slots and... DING!

Then I sold it back and got an honor refund ^^

M has no real intention of doing PvP seriously but P does. It does mean that Epic is doable on any of my alts with a bit of effort.

However, it really does feel like cheating.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Why do you play Warcraft?

It's a question I've been asked by many people, in the four years I have been. The answer tends to depend on a huge number of variables on any given day: in the end however it always comes back to the fact I love Azeroth. I never get bored of the landscape, the possibilities: progress and achievements notwithstanding I love to get lost sometimes: wandering around Arathi looking for mining, fishing in obscure places, simply spending some days rediscovering the simpler pleasures of questing alone. I spent a long time playing this game to begin with very early in the morning or very late at night whilst my daughter breastfed. Some days, it's just more fun to solo.

The great thing about Azeroth is that it allows a vast range of play styles and aspirations to exist simultaneously. You can have hardcore and casual existing in the same place, you can spend your tokens on heirlooms or a chef's hat, on PvP gear or mounts, all are perfectly acceptable. All it needs to work is the people around you to accept your desires. That's where the problems normally start. It's very little to do with the game and a great deal about the people who play it. Drama is a human thing, after all. The NPC's don't make it happen, the bosses don't generate it, but that lovely purple and blue (and even green) items they drop... once the humanity gets added to the equation things can get very messy, terribly fast. The flip side of course is if you find a decent and well- balanced group of people to play and hang out with, you're pretty much set for your online life.

My Guild is great in that respect. Yes, I could pull out many stories of drama and stress, it's not like we're a bunch of superhuman super-evolved mega-hyperbeings. It happens. However, what sets my bunch apart from most of the other bunches of people on my server is the fact they recognise that Azeroth is a place you visit but you don't live in. Sure, there are some people who do, but inevitably over time they come to grasp the inescapable truth that the best way to play this game is to know when to type /logout. The Open Door policy we have (which has let people back in after over a year of absence) works on the theory that everyone who takes part brings something unique and special to the mix, something no-one else really can. So, by definition no-one can ever be replaced. Long may this outlook be perpetuated by as many people as I can impress it upon ^^

I count myself as one of those people who could do occasionally with being reminded of the benefit of knowing when to stop. I have always been an obsessive type, forty plus years on the planet and I will still take things to extreme. Kids tend to help in that respect, but more importantly than that there has come in the past year or so an understanding that this kind of virtual community will play an increasingly more important part in the future of my kids and that I NEED to understand how it works, how people interact... and most importantly how Real Life has an affect on what goes on 'out there'. My son already has girlfriends giving him their screennames for any number of virtual 'gaming' communities... and he's not even nine. Azeroth will have a relevance I believe far beyond the time I spend in it, however long that may be.

I play Warcraft for a great many reasons. I've lost friends because of it. It's given me new relationships and a valuable sense of being a part of something more than simply a game. Why I keep doing it does occasionally flummox me until I realise that deep down it allows me to do whatever I want in a way I enjoy and with a measure of control I don't posses in reality. However, at the end of the day I can see the difference between what is real and what's not. I know when it's time to leave.

I do wish some days however that other people could see things as clearly as I do. More importantly, I wish some people would allow themselves the chance to enjoy the simpler things the game has to offer, without the need to be the best or have the most points or simply to be better than the person they think they need to aspire towards or beat.

It doesn't happen in reality nearly as much as I wish it would. Maybe I can hope for better in Azeroth.


So, WoW Insider has become Have to say, not liking the change. They say less cluttered, I see more ads. I've NEVER been a fan of ads on sites EVER. I am aware that the Internet has the ability to generate revenue, but I've really never wanted to use it for that. It's free, baby. Or at least it should be ^^

The jury will be retiring to deliver a verdict shortly.

I've added Aspect of the Hare to my reading list. Her shot rotation for Marks Hunters has revitalised my interest in P, added to some GM comments that Marks could be on the rise with Ulduar gears. All Ulduar and Naxx 25 ranged weapons are getting a buff. Watch this space.

I'd like to apologise for the intermittent nature of posts generally in the last couple of weeks, but the kids health really is my main priority on any given day. The little girl is getting better, and hopefully this means Normal Service very soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

All in a Night's Work

Ooh, it's been almost a week. In my defense I have a girl ill with Tonsillitus and slept about five hours in total over the whole weekend. So, bearing that in mind there's actually a heck of a lot to catch up with...

Ignis fell at the weekend, thus granting M with the 'first four Ulduar bosses' points. The new tactic Mr Chief Pally gave us worked a treat (tank all the adds, no sticking them in the water to shatter, Boss by a pool so the Scorch gets swallowed by the water) worked an absolute treat. Next up will be The Iron Council, but it does mean that the first 4 bosses are effectively on Farm Status.

Yesterday, after having finally got my daughter to sleep after an emergency trip to the Doctors (she has medicine!) I decided I'd finally do some work on my AQ40 Questline.

The last thing I did (apart from go get lightly toasted by a Green Dragon in Darkshire) was pick up Chapter VI of 'Draconic for Dummies' from Onyxia. Chapter IV was causing me some problems, what with it being located above (in the Undercity) However, a bit of a scouting trip revealed a reasonably pain-free route to pick it up via the Sewers. As it transpired I only had to kill three Patchwerk guards to get to the book. Of all the parts to secure, what I thought would be one of the hardest ended up as the simplest.

That left two chapters: VII from Ragnaros and I from Dr Weavil on Alcaz Island. Last night we started with a full MC clear (four of us, three of whom benefited from Hydraxian rep, one who is working on Thorium Brotherhood rep and so was gifted all the cores and Core Leather I skinned) The Druid Tank landed four pieces of T1 (including the chest, M is jealous) and I picked up both the Major Rejuve and Flarecore Wraps patterns for altage. The Force Reactive Disk also dropped... had this been Vanilla that would have been one of the best MC's I'd seen in terms of craftable drops. Once Raggy bit the dust (T2 Hunter legs!!!!!!!) we popped over to Duskwallow and eradicated Ony *again* before strolling over to the Lair of Weavil.

The Good Doctor owned us the first two tries, it must be said. His MC ability reduced our tank to a 2-shot killing machine (much to his and our amusement) and it took a moment of genius from Mr Pally to give us a decent shot at him. Getting our Retri Pally to engage alone and then pop a bubble at the MC we got 90 seconds to grind the Good Doctor to the ground. Needless to say, it all worked out just fine.

Those 8 Tablets? WEEKS worth of Work, I tells you!

So, I freed up six bank slots (five tablets, one book binding) last night and picked up the rather lovely Gnomish Turban of Psychic Might for my troubles. It's really rather satisfying to have finished this step, especially as it's involved so much Old World entertainment along the way.

Next step's a bit of a pig, though ^^

The MC trip was notable for one drop, which after four years I FINALLY won without having to worry about rogues or DKP.

I remember how much I wanted this when we ran MC in 40 man. I dreamed about it (no really I did ^^) and I always made sure I kept enough DKP *just in case* (on many occasions in detriment to other upgrades) Now I have it as part of my Old Skool Set, with Crul'shorukh, Edge of Chaos as my Dual Wield weapons of choice...

So, while we're here, there's summat else from the weekend worth reporting: this was the time when I finally sorted That Jousting Thing at the Argent Tournament:

Look! SEVEN Champions! I even picked up Lance a Lot as part of a fabulous sweep that included 22 Dailies (I'm back on the Netherwing Bandwagon for even more rep!) I'm halfway to Champion with the Darnassians and then it's just Exodar to do and I'm sorted. Plus it will mean Exalted with the Silver Covenant to boot, which is likely to become Exalted Faction #32 purely by happy accident.

I sense a great deal of factional faffing in the week to come...