Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Was Tagged

Well, I do believe this is the first time I have been tagged for one of these but I shall do my duty and drop some light on this meme. ;) Did you see what I did there?

So let me thank Saunder from over at Non-Squishy Heals for tagging me in.

I am going to call on my buddy Fish to give us his perspective on lowbie healing and I am gonna see if I can get some Shamanistic rage on healing from the Doctor over at WTF Spaghetti. I also am going to shout out to my wife Eus to perhaps consider responding to this as well. She is not as vocal about her healing, but she is a damn fine healer.

So here we go :

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Alright, this one was easy. My main healer is Ruhtra. He is a light spitting, holy shocking Paladin who can not be contained to one holy spec and therefor had to duel spec holy.

2. What is your primary group healing environment? (ie raids, 5 man, PVP)

That is a tougher question and the honest answer is all of the above. I am rocking to healing specs. One is built for raid healing and the other is built for PVP. So call me the master of heals.

3. What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

I would say ask Edyion, Nymeros, Eus, Fish, Abbadonn or any other member of my guild cause they all know it is the epicness of the Flash of Light. It is blindingly delicious. I was spamming that when most of your characters were wearing diapers. (Cheap plugs are always nice aren't they?)

4. What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Alright, so I am going to clarify this one. I consider my healing spells to be Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock. The other spells I consider utility, such as Beacon of Light. So, the one I use least is Holy Light. Kind of weird that when you can crit that one for 17 - 20k that I would not use it right? Well, the simple truth is that the epicness of my heals lags our servers and blows guildies right off the web. True story. ;) Okay, the real reason is that I have built Ruhtra for healing Flash of Light since the beginning of my healing run. I get a nice HoT off of it when coupled with Sacred Shield. I then use Holy Shock in my rotation, sort of like how a gunslinger would blast the a sneaky baddie trying to get on their side. Yes, I think of myself as a one man sherrif of healing. Then Holy Light comes out with my auto crit ability and I save the day. Oh and Lay on Hands is for sissies.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

The biggest strength of a Paladin, in my opinion is that I wear plated gear. Those sissies who cannot carry the weight of true armor tend to drop from one or two hits while I stand there getting slapped in the face by a runaway mob laughing the entire time while I wait for a tank to pick up their lost child.

6. In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is the best healing assignment (in general) for you?

For some classes this may be a serious question, but for a Paladin we are tank healers. There is no question. Can we raid heal? Hell yes, I can solo heal Razorscale. True Story again. However, in a properly organized group they will recognize the fact that we were made to heal tanks. Our spells are single target oriented and as such we are best utilized for that and with 20k+ on-demand-crits and that sissy Lay-On-Hands spell, there should never be any debate on it. (If there is, get the hell out of that PuG!)

7. What healing class do you enjoy healing with the most and why?

Alright, that is a tough question. If we are talking me and just one other healer then I am going with a Druid. They are the Bonny to my Clyde. (Hee hee) In all seriousness, with the combined power of my solid one hit heals (although I am rocking three HoTs now) and the ability to spam Hots, Battle Rez, and Innervate, we make a potent team. Truth be told though, if I have a good healer as a partner I do not care what class they are as they will know the tricks of their trade. I have healed with every class, including one damn bandage spec Rogue.

8. What healing class do you least enjoy (hate) healing with and why?

The bandage spec Rogue? No, we are not going to accept that answer? Well, I do not want to alienate anyone who may take it wrong. I honestly do not care who I am healing with, but for the sake of this, I would have to say that I least enjoy healing with a Priest. Now please do not get mad at me you squishy people. My reason is that most Priest I have ran with absolutely try to be tank healers, even when they are sportin that flashy holy spec that gives them some nice group heals. That and they scare me.

9. What is your worst habit as a healer?

Looking at the television while healing. Seriously, at this point most content is boring to me so I am busy reading news stories online while healing. Sometimes I will catch a good show while we are raiding. I have some good conversations with my wife (so long as we are both not healing in the same group/raid). Okay, sorry I am in a good mood today. My worst in-game habit would be toying with my tanks. I love letting their health drop dangerously low and then drop a big heal on them just to let them know I can. Sorry guys. Really. I mean it.

10. What is your biggest peeve in a group environment when healing?

You have come to the right person for this question. I hate DPS (Dumb People Suck) who stand in the bright glowing stuff that is hurting them. Honestly, how stupid are you?

11. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PVE healing?

Absolutely. I know some folks tend to view Paladins as a one trick pony, but let me be the first to introduce you to the Paly school of raid healing. Beacon the tank and then drop Flashes all over your raid. They will be amazed and you will top charts (if you are into chart topping). I honestly am a firm believer in going against the traditional school of thought (ask my guild). I do not like boxes and aim to break through (good thing I carry a freaking huge mace).

12. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

This is a good question. The number one tool any healer will tell you is how many deaths compared to those left living. However, I completely disagree. It is a good judge for a guild, but if you are not running with your guild or spend time in PuGs, then you could be being carried or could be carrying a bad healer. I tend to look at the healing done and focus on heals per second. This let's me know who was casting during the fight. Then I view the overhealed information. If someone had a high heal per second but shows a ton of overhealing, then they get the worst healer award as they were covering someone else's target more than likely (now this is assuming that there is healing assignments). The biggest problem I had from jumping from five man to raid healing was not trusting the other members of the healing team. I would constantly spam heals all over. This often resulted in deaths as this meant I was not covering my own assignment.

13. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That we are only tank healers. We excel at tank healing no doubt. We are probably the best single target healer in this game, but it does not mean that we are incapable of raid healing. Now granted there are other classes who excel at raid healing and they could be awarded the title of greatest raid healer, but you still see raids where those classes will be the tank healers. It all comes down to skill and knowing where abilities and limitations are. I am just as comfortable healing a raid as I am leaning against the wall spamming heals to a tank.

14. What do you think is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

It is really hard to say. When I started healing, there was not any sort of blog telling me what stat to get or the best way to heal. I never used an add-on till the very end of the Burning Crusade. (Yes, I love pain and I hate change.) So, I said all that because I had to figure it all out and how it worked best for me. If I had to give one piece of advice for a new Paladin healer, it would be to not listen to everyone else. Find the style that you like to heal and heal that way. Some Paladins want to spam Holy Light with high haste. Some Paladins want a high crit rating and enjoy spamming Flash of Light. My single biggest piece of advice is simply find the style that suits you and then stick with it. My second piece of advice is heal for PuGs non-stop. PuGs are brutal in two ways. The first way is that a bad PuG will make you a better healer because they force you to push yourself. The second way a Pug is good is that if you are a bad healer they will tell you.

15. If someone were to evaluate your performance as a healer (via recount), what sort of pattern would they see (ie lots of overhealing, low healing output, ect)?

This is a great question, probably the best of this whole thing. If you look at my recount you will see a couple things. The first thing you will see is a traditional mark for all Paladins, high overhealing. We will always have that, no matter what we do. The second thing you should see is that I have a solid HPS number. This means that I am healing constant. I am not running out of mana. The third thing you will notice is that I am going to be either number one or two. No questions asked. I accomplish this by placing the beacon on my main tank and then spamming heals to everyone else. More often than not I will heal the off-tank, but if the other healer is struggling, then I will heal their assignments as well. The fourth thing you will notice is that I have a high amount of HoTs that will show. There should be a minimum of four: Sacred Shield + Flash of Light, Holy Shock crit from tiered bonus, Forethought Talisman, and Judgement of Light. (Word of advice to all Paladin healers, if you do not have at least the three class abilities, then you need to work on getting these into rotation.) The fifth thing you will notice is that my number one heal is going to be Flash of Light, my second heal will be Holy Shock, and my third heal is Holy Light. I have worked long and hard to develop my healing style and how I build my character. I never was one to buy into the idea of spamming Holy Light as it eats too much mana. I prefer to run a marathon and not 100 meter dash.

16. Haste or Crit and why?

This is another good question for Paladins. (We are going to assume that we all know that we need Intellect and Spell Power as our base stats.) I do not like to have a ton of Haste on my gear. I take just enough to get a moderate speed increase, but I prefer Crit above Haste. I also prefer MP5 above Haste. I pretty much only like to have Haste on two or three pieces of gear. Anything else, I feel is a waste of space (for me at least).

17. What add-ons or macros (if any) do you use to aid you in healing?

I use healbot.

18. Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others? Why?

I hinted at this in previous answers but pretty much we are going to get enough intellect and spell power from our gear that we will not need to worry about that. So for the little green stats on gear I look for crit and MP5. I prefer crit because I spam so many heals in a fight that I naturally will have more opportunities to crit compared to classes who may cast few spells or spells that do not benefit from crit. Now as a Paladin, we should be able to reach into our retribution tree and grab a free 5% crit increase, so that is important to remember. There is wiggle room to add some other stats in. This is where I get my MP5 from. It is important to remember that if you find yourself alone in a raid setting through bad luck or bad players, then you need to be able to go the distance. MP5 is the amount of mana you regenerate while casting. So, if you have a higher MP5, then you are going to be regenerating enough mana to hang in there for those last few crucial seconds. MP5 is what made the difference in many raids I have been in. (See jokes about single healing Razorscale.) A lot of Paladins will feel that Arcane Torrent and Devine Plea will give them all the regeneration they need (which it does provide a decent amount of mana), but the problem is that both of these are on cool downs and Devine Plea (which I was never a big fan of pre nerf) cost you a high percentage of your healing.

Well, I hope I dropped some useful information. I know a lot of this is pretty basic, but maybe it will do some good out there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Through The Eyes of the Leader: Special Edition

I have come to respect a lot of bloggers since I started reading, and gained even more respect for the really honest bloggers once I too started to blog. I was reading through my list of blogs tonight and I came across a post by Starman of Casual Raid Leader. I highly recommend everyone read this blog and really think about how it applies to the situation that you may be finding yourself in, especially those in small to mid size guilds that tend to be more casual.

A few posts back I had done a post where I talked about being truthful, but not just with others. It dealt on a lot of levels regarding a lot of things. One thing that I hoped people would get out of it was the fact that we need to be honest with ourselves. When I read this post today by Starman some of the things he was referring to, were very similar to some things that I have noticed within MAS. Now I know a lot of times that many people like to paint a picture of happiness through rose colored glasses. I would like to think that I am not one of those people. Now I am not going into details about a lot of situations but this post got me thinking about a lot of things.

At the top of the list is my desire to become more serious of a raider. One of the first things I have done is taken the opportunity to promote two individuals within the guild to be raid assistants. I want to focus on the key word there in that title, assistants. I think that when you have a great group of people who have shown a lot of progress you need to be very careful about how you interact with them. I think you need to be mindful of who you bring into your inner circle. I also think you need to give careful consideration to what you are trying to do. That is part of the reason why I have not called anyone, myself included, a raid leader. At the end of the Burning Crusade expansion, MAS was clearing Kara and parts of Zul'Aman. At this time, there was some high tensions as people were pushing to run stuff they were not prepared to run. Events happened and the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion came out and some of those underlying tones soon died down. Early into the year, we lost our then raid leader due to some personal circumstances and also some core members to what we had hoped to build on for raiding.

It was during that time that we had some serious decisions to make as a guild. We could either stay as a PVP focused guild or we could set our sites on a goal and work to achieve the goal. We decided we wanted to raid and therefor, because I had no other choice, I organized our raids for Naxxramus. The first few raids were rather funny. We called them guild runs, but if 50% of a group is PuG, I do not know how much you can claim for it. Nevertheless, each week we posted the run and we went for it. We cleared Naxxramas as a guild and then for some reason, we slowed our raiding down to a crawl. I take a huge amount of that responsibility as the guy who was trying to keep spirits high and make sure we raided. However, personal situations arise in all of our lives. Where I differ from the guild leader that Starman mentions is that I do not back away. I still say hello and speak with as many guild members as I can. I have no plans currently to back away from the guild, although I do have some self doubts and personal demons that I must deal with every time I log on.

I think what seperates us from other guilds is that no one officer is solely running the guild. Different officers have different responsibilities. In other words, when my work schedule changed and I was not on as often, there were other officers who were still on and who were still mindful of what was going on within the guild. Do we all ever agree 100% of the time? Aboslutely not and that is how I prefer it to be. It is what brings the balance to our guild. At least it has been what has worked up until now. As I write this post I am, for the first time, unsure of what the future of MAS holds. There are several differing opinions on a multitude of issues ranging from raiding, members, and recruiting. There is really not one incident or thing that has really occurred to make me start to analyze things, but it is my nature. I am a pessimist at my very core. I view situations and I see things long before they happen. I typically move behind the scenes to settle situations down and resolve the underlying currents. I am, though for once, tired of being the guy who is always trying to solve things.

In the article, Starman talked about the guild leader backing away and becoming less friendly. I wonder if anyone understands the aggrevation of running a guild? You have a multitude of personalities who play a game of their own freewill. You cannot force them to do any one thing, nor you can really do anything to prevent them from doing something. When things go good, many people want to step up and take credit for whatever it is that went good. That is a good thing. If someone worked their butt off to accomplish something or push for a certain goal to be met, then they deserve all the credit. However, when things go bad no one wants to step forward and take any credit. I think that people who are in positions of authority, especially in a game, tend to prefer to just slowly back away. For instance, if there is any sort of discussion (or perception) of something being off (or wrong) it is the guild leader who gets the whispers inquiring about it. If there is a situation between a guild member and a guild officer, who do you think typically gets drug into it? You would be correct to assume it is the guild leader. You see the guild leader has to always remember that they are looking out for the overall health of the guild, not just a few disgruntled members who did not get to run a certain instance, raid, or complete an event. A lot of people will say that they understand, but unfortunately they cannot understand. Only other guild leaders will truly understand.

So then you sit back and you look and you see these three or four individuals who are geared and wanting to run top end progression stuff. Then you look and you see these two or three members who have done a little raiding and they feel like they are ready to run the top end progression stuff. Then you have the members who want to raid but are lacking the gear to do so. Then you have a group of guild members who rarely speak to you but tend to always be on minding their own business. Then you have a group of guild members who are the chatty chat chatter members who are constantly talking about everything. You know the ones. They are the ones that if you say something, they jump right in and tell you all about their experience even though it wasn't what the point of the conversation was about. Then you have your brooding members who always seemed to be aggrevated over something, but they never leave. They always stay right in there and help out, even with their little storm cloud over their head. Then there is me (and maybe you), the guild leader, who has to figure out how to mesh all of these individuals into one guild.

To me running a guild is like putting together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle where you have no picture as to what it is you are trying to build. You hope you plug this person into the right spot here. You hope that this person you picked to take care of this situation was the right one. That is where I am at. I am hoping that I have plugged people into the right spots. I look at my track record and know that I am good at reading people. I also know I am good at moving quickly to shore up situations and quell issues before the blow up. Some of these skills were learned from not reacting quick enough or standing right in the middle of the explosion. Here is the kicker though. There comes a point where you have to step back. I cannot run this guild forever. I cannot log on every day hoping that the people who were on were able to group together and go out and do whatever was scheduled. It would be infair for me to hold myself to that standard. There comes a point where you have to step back and let things go. You could compare to teaching a child to ride a bicycle. You put that bicycle together and make sure every piece is tight and secure. You place the training wheels on it to keep the child from falling over and hurting theirself. As time goes on and you see the child begin to gain their balance you slowly start to remove the training wheels, but you stay there with the child. You walk alongside the child on the bicycle and then you run alongside them. Finally, the day comes when you let the child go alone. You stand there with fear and trepidation in your heart and mind hoping that the child is ready. They may very well fall over, but you know you will race to their side and make sure they are okay. Eventually the child will learn to keep their balance and will no longer need you to be there, but every time they take a spill and have a skinned knee that child will know that you will always be there for them.

I am going to end today with two quotes that I feel sum up this rather long and odd post.


"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but
the silence of our friends."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)


"What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do." - John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

Rant Day: Blizzard, Usernames, and Authenticators Oh My!

I cannot tell you how much I have debated on doing a post about this. At first I was going to link a well known blogger who had come out and was feeling some unpleasant vibes towards Blizzard's announcement regarding all WoW accounts having to be linked to a Battle.net account. However, I got sick and it has been forever and a day since that post and to my surprise people are still ranting about this announcement. So what better day to discuss all of this than on my very own Rant Day? I am going to try to take this in a section by section look at things, but before I do this I just want to let everyone know that this is a good thing regardless of all the negative press (I guess bloggers could be considered press in a way) that this has received. I also want to say that I have not been payed for my viewpoints and there has been no incentive given to me from any organizations, but rather this is my own opinion based upon personal work experience, game experience, and one very large opinionated personality. You have been warned.

So how do I plan to back up my statement that this is a good thing? Honestly, there are a lot of reasons that I can say that this is a good thing, but the number one reason I am going to go with is that it will help secure our accounts much better. You have to be open-minded to this concept though. Set aside all of your complaints and worries. Trust me I understand that people do not like change. Wars are fought over difference of opinions because people will not look at both sides of the situation or simply because this is the way it has always been. The later is what applies to this situation with WoW and Battle.net. Most players have never played another Blizzard game and therefor the only thing they associate WoW with, is their WoW account name. However, Battle.net has been out much longer which means that it has been under the microscope (so to say) much longer than the WoW log in screen. Blizzard has even stated that this move is for the security of the accounts. Haven't many players screamed that Blizzard should do something to make sure that their account is not hacked again? Even though when we look at the root of the hack, it is typically from lack of security on the system, having bought gold, having power leveled, having bought someone else's account, or having shared their own information with a friend?

Now one could argue that they take care of their system and have never been hacked. I could even argue that point as I have never had my account hacked. I run daily checks on my system. I keep my network secured. I even run two seperate networks in my house. I use one for our systems that we run WoW on and the other for the rest of the house to use. My old account name was rather hard to figure out for most people. My password was alpha-numeric, meaning that it contained both numbers and letters. However, the flip side is that the particular name/password combination is used for multiple different things in my life. This means that I have a higher risk of having someone stumble upon my information and could then steal my identity. I could go a step farther and say that I rarely search the internet on this system, since I also use it to pay bills and access personal finance information, thus lowering my chances of clicking on a banner/add where there could be some malicious software (aka key loggers and viruses). So why would I then feel that being forced to merge with Battle.net would be a good thing? I mean it sounds like I am a pretty secure guy, right? This is true for all of the time that I am here at home with my computer system. However, I work ten hour days with a fifteen minute commute each way. I am married with a child, so you know I have to run errands and make trips for the needs of the family. This is all time I am away from my computer. During this time another member of my household could easily log onto my system and go to a site that could easily infect my system and thus gather my access information. You see that we can never be 100% sure that our systems are 100% safe.

Another point to remember is that even though we do as much as we can to safeguard our systems, hackers are constantly working to develop new software that can easily beat the best programs out there. Consider that most computer engineers who work on systems will tell you that there is not one anti-virus/malicious program out there that can catch them all. If they are being completely honest, they will admit that it is best to run a couple different types of software in order to try to catch all the nasties that could be festering on your system right now. So what? I mean this is all useful information and all, but how does this validate the fact that we are being forced into a system that we may not all want to be put into?

The simplest answer is that it is taking some of the control of the security away from us. I work for a large financial institution here in the US and when people go to access their information online, we know whether their computer is infected with a virus or not. When our system detects the virus, we lock their accounts. This creates some unpleasant calls I am sure, but what it does is safeguard the account. Is it 100% effective? Not always, like I said earlier there will always be hackers who are looking for ways to beat the safeguards of any system, but what it does is put the billions of dollars of Blizzard working for you. Like I said at the beginning, you have to be open minded to this view point. Is it a pain to be forced to change something that you feel is completely safe? Absolutely. Is it wrong to be forced to change? Unfortunately it is not. Another thing to remember is that you are basically renting your character from Blizzard. It is their property and they could effectively shut the game down tomorrow and there would be nothing any of us could do except get in line with hands held out demanding our monthly subscription fee back.

Some people had commented that they feel like their account would be less secure because of using an email address. I am sure the more sophisticated people out there are the ones who read our blogs. You have to be somewhat sophisticated to blog, whether we want to admit it or not. However, again I can go back to my days of customer service for another large financial institution that was into banking, credit cards, investments, mortgages, and every other financial tool you could imagine. I cannot tell you how many people would create a user name/customer ID/personal ID that would be their email address without the "@fillintheblankservice.com". There have been several suggestions about creating a dummy email address in order to keep your information secret. I would be careful how I coined the term dummy since if you need assistance or lock yourself out for whatever reason, Blizzard will ask you for the email address associated with your account. It is fine to set up a new email address strictly for your WoW account. I have actually set up several different email address for WoW, blogging, finances, friends, and many organizations, but the key thing here is to make sure that you either know that information by heart or write it down somewhere. I would recommend storing it with your account key information since this information is frequently used for assisting with an account.

Some people have gone on and said that this is a money making scheme by Blizzard in regards to the account authenticators. I cannot disagree more. We can squash that argument right there based upon some facts.
  1. The authenticators have been out for quite some time now. Sure if they were brand new, then you might have a point; however, they are not new and therefor this could not be a valid reason as far as Blizzard using this to make money.
  2. The price of the authenticator is relatively cheap. I am sure if this was a money making scheme they would have the prices set much higher. This is not the case. I believe they are in the nighborhood of $6 - $7 USD. That is not going to make them a lot of money since there has to be software that can respond everytime we press the little button for a new code. My guess is that it brings in just enough to make it profitable, but not enough to make them rich.
  3. Authenticators are not required. If you are not forced to buy the authenticator, then there can be no scheme to make money. We can end the discussion on that note for the financial scheme.
The final thing I have read recently is that the little vanity pet they are offering is not enough. That they should of spent more resources creating something special or making more of a variety out of it. All I can honestly say to that sort of thinking is get over it. I do not want to sound harsh (although I know I am quite grumpy when I am not feeling well), but they do not have to provide you anything at all for this. It is actually a simple choice that we all have. Do you want to play WoW or do you not want to play WoW? If you want to play WoW, then feel free to complain and say whatever you want, but know that in the end you will march onto the website and establish your Battle.net account. If you decide not to play WoW, then what are doing spending so much time on a subject that does not concern you?
In closing, I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt it important to shine a little bit of light on the situation from the other side of the railroad tracks. I know that people have predicted calamity and chaos, but honestly that will not be the case. In my own guild, a lot of members established the Battle.net accounts to get the Warbot. I also know of several people who had been hacked and when they went to restore account access, they were directed to establish a Battle.net account. I can even say that for a while here on several US servers, that at one point people were having problems logging into their servers and as soon as they created a Battle.net account, they immediately were able to log on. This actually happened to my wife. So relax, take a deep breath, get all the nasty grumbles out of your mouth, and then go back to raiding and playing the game because in the end this is one of thise situations that you really have no control over. All you can do is decide if you wish to continue playing or not.
PS: Did anyone catch the play on words of the title? Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh my!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Alternate Fridays: Emprius & Lrem

Alright folks, this week I have a double decker for you. Instead of talking about one alt, I am going to discuss two of my alts. Now one has been talked about much lately, which is my Hunter Lrem, and the other has been mentioned but nothing to profoundly deep about him, my Warlock Emprius. So let's not be waiting any longer and let's talk alts!

Lrem

So with Lrem, I have been working my but off to find PuGs in order to run heroics. I really have not been interested to raid with him recently so the only avenue I have for gear upgrades would be heroics. My main reasoning for not caring too much was the fact I have never really planned on raiding with him; however, as this past week I switched my duel spec on Ruhtra from a PVE retribution build to a PVP holy build, I will now need to make sure I have a viable option for DPS if needed. So I took inventory of Lrem and really wanted to upgrade his weapons. The swords are nice, do not get my wrong, but I also realize that there are better options out there. My first thought was to go after the pole-arm from ToC, which I did run, but did not get the drop.

While, I did not get my drop from there I figured I would go ahead and run other heroics to collect the emblems and work on the upgrades of gear through that handy system. A side affect of not feeling well was that my doctor ordered me off work through the weekend so I had plenty of time to try to run heroics. So I hit up all the usuals and everything that dropped was either less than perfect (meaning leather gear) or I had better already (more often the case). Then we hit good old H VH. I pretty much hate this instance and I do not know why. It is one of the easier ones in the game in my opinion. I went ahead and accepted this group invite and we headed in. We actually plowed it under pretty quick and don't you know that the staff drops which was a good upgrade overall for me. Now, the downside was that I was in party with a Druid (Boomkin) who decided they needed it and a Warrior (Prot) who also hit the need. I was sitting there pretty pissed off at these two who were well geared and said nothing of needing gear for their off-spec. I gritted my teeth and hit need. I wond that staff with a 98! I was extremely happy as this was a huge upgrade for Lrem and it made me feel good to spend an entire day PuGn heroics and achieve my goal of replacing my weapons. Only down side is that my staves skill is a whopping two. Yeah I will be going out and whacking a lot of grizzlies upside their head over the next few days.

I also placed Lrem on a 2v2 PVP team. I will be completely honest here and say that it is only for the arena points to gather my PVP gear set a little quicker; however, I am way too competetive and get pissed when my team loses or I screw up (which happens a lot as I never was hardcore with my PVP on Lrem during BC). My partner is a DK and we went in and lost almost every match, except one. That is right, I was able to get my first win in arena with someone other than Ruhtra and it felt great. Basically my resillience was coming from my level 70 gear and a few pieces I managed to pick up from leveling through the battlegrounds. Now I will admit, I say I was not that good yet I had almost a full set of current arena gear so that does help even at level 80, but that is a post for a different day. So with the arena points I earned, I was able to get 4/5 Deadly Gladiator pieces! I was pretty happy all things considered. I had a ton of honor as I am always running saving to get the PVP gear through the battlegrounds that I cannot acquire through the arena so I had more than enough honor to cover the cost. Lrem actually has more Deadly gear than Ruhtra (but we better not tell Ruhtra about it).

Emprius

So let's switch gears now and take a look at another alt that I have and see how things are going there. Emprius is probably one of my favorite characters. Back when I finally switched over to Horde and created my first characters on this account, I made five characters right away: Ruhtra, Lrem, Whoopy, Emprius, and Galran. Of the five Ruhtra, Lrem, and Emprius have always been the first toons I level to the cap. Of these three, the most fun I have is typically with Emprius. I know kind of weird considering he is the last one I am leveling out of the trio this time around. I tend to look at it as saving the best for last.

So I learned a lot from leveling Lrem through battlegrounds strictly and I do not plan to make that same mistake this time with Emprius. So I am taking my time and working on mixing running battlegrounds with running instance groups. Which is working out quite well as I am gathering some really nice gear for Emprius along the way. I am also acquiring a sizeable amount of honor in order to purchase some nice PVP gear as well. After all, I will always be a PVPer at heart, no matter how much I raid. So I have been hitting everything up with Emprius from UK to HoS. Yeah I went into HoS at 75 and was scared that I would perform horribly. I was grouped in a PuG with a bunch of 77-80 level toons. I am not saying this to brag, but I out DPS'd them all, including the level 77 Hunter who was talking about how "leet" they were and even poked a joke at my 70 epics. I guess it just proves that this content can be beat with some skill, oh and on a side note I did not die at all. I was so happy to have performed that well and I picked up the flight paths for there so I can cruise up there any time I want.

The one thing I did though when I decide to level Emprius was examine his build. I have been affliction for so long that I did not like the other builds when I had tried them. I did however realize that affliction could not carry me with how I wanted to play currently. So I studied a lot of "cookie cutter" builds and other build recommendations. In the end I decided to throw it all out and I built down to grab the Fel-Guard in demonology and I am taking the rest in destruction, a truly hybrid build for sure. I am sure there are some great builds out there that I could look at, but one thing I have learned is I do not do well by looking at what someone else says. I do my best when I go through trial and error. So I have set aside a large fund for respec'n and duel spec'n when the times come. I will share the final look of this build when I hit 80 for anyone who may be interested in it. Well, I think that about wraps it up. There is much more I want to look over, but I can always talk a little more about that in a later post.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Paladin's Thoughts On All Things Holy: Retribution Paladins and the Bad Name That They Give The Rest of Us

That pretty much says it all right there in the title. Thank you and have a great day.

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Alright, I cannot leave it there, but I really want to. So please do not get mad at me on this one folks. I really do like retribution Paladins, they are always amusing to laugh at. Now I am not talking the ones who understand their class and know their role. I am talking about the ones who know nothing of their class and only rolled a Paladin because they are so "OP"! So let's take the one who I happened to be in a PuG H CoS with recently as an example. On a side note, if you need verification of this information, please feel free to ask my associate Mr. Fish.

So, I was on my Hunter all day today. I figure why not run some PuG heroics to grab some gear. It has been rough trying to get guild runs lately as we have been more focused on raiding and for some strange reason they never want me to bring my Hunter. So I get an invite to a group and I start to head there. The very first thing I see in the party chat is a Paladin talking about wanting to make a timed run and that they wanted to know who was after the mount. I kindly stated that I had it on my main so I did not care either way. We could run for it or we could run at a slower pace. Now they did not have a tank, so I whispered Fish and asked him if he would be interested. He agreed because it was me asking and the fact that I think he likes to get beat on in heroic instances still. So he joins and we all start heading to instance. I arrived first and went ahead and started the whole story line and cleared all that boring initial stuff. The entire time I am doing this, our Paladin friend is spouting off about everything under the sun.

So based upon his talk, I am expecting him to be putting out 3k DPS in the run. So here comes Mr DPS up next to me. I do a quick inspection and see some greens, blues, and epic PVP (aka charity epics). He was noticeably lacking in the area of badged epics. Of the gear that he did have, not one piece was enchanted or socketed. I inquired of him why and he replied "cause I haven't". Alright, so right there I knew that he and I may not get along. Here I am on my Hunter who I have not had the easiest time getting to run stuff geared out in some good quality gear from badges, epic drops that were BoE that I purchased off the AH, and fully enchanted. In other words I put my time in, put my gold in, and came prepared. I expect everyone to at least do that. I accept that not everyone will be geared out in full epics and able to rock consistently high DPS, but I expect them to do some of the basics. I even agree that sometimes it may be better to have a blue piece of gear or lower level item equipped because the epic alternative currently available may not suit your playstyle, but this requires someone to have a really strong understanding of the game and their own class.

I set aside my detest for the Paladin's apparent laziness and we begin to run the instance. We down the first boss with no issues. We then proceed to wipe as some folks ran farther ahead and that led to some sudden instant death syndrome for our characters. No worries, we rez and we go running back. All the while, our Paladin is asking if we can still do it in time. I honestly hit my breaking point here but bit my lip and politely typed out in easy to understand words that the wipe cost us too much time and our DPS was a little low. See I used the "our" word instead of the "your" word. So we clear out the zone up to the inn and the infinite dragons. When we get there, once again, Mr DPS asks if we can get the mount. At this point one of the members says that we cannot but do not worry about it, it is not important. Mr DPS says that it was important to him, which was all I could handle. I link the overall recount data that shows Mr DPS at a whopping 799 DPS. That is not a typo, that was his actual DPS. I can out DPS that on my level 71 Shaman. I can out DPS that on my Paladin in full Holy spec with my Holy gear on only casting Holy Shock once every six seconds. I then tell him that if it was so important to him he would have shown up prepared by having all of his sockets filled and his gear enchanted. I didn't even tell him it needed to be properly socketed or enchanted, just show that you at least cared enough to look like you put some thought into it. Mr DPS then proceeded to be quiet and not inquire about the mount any longer.

At this point, we were down to four of us as the Mage left when Mr DPS inquired about his mount. The group asks if we want to continue. I really seriously thought about ending it here. I mean I suffered enough through the run didn't I? Nope, I cannot stand quitting. I replied and said it was the healer and tank who needed to make the decision. I was just the muscle so it did not matter to me either way. We decided to continue on. We cleared the inn and the infinite dragons there. We cleared the gauntlet at a slow pace, but without deaths. We beat the final boss and completed the daily quest. Mr DPS was well behaved and he did not even seem mad at my loss of temper since he asked if we wanted to run something else. I politely declined as I needed to walk the dogs and he needed to run something that was his own level and not be carried through.

So this brings me to my title about the bad name that retribution Paladins are giving the rest of us. I mean we are supposed to be bearers of the Light and protectors of those who cannot protect theirselves. Instead we are becoming whining individuals who need to be carried through content. I beg you, please stop it. Take your class serious or go back to playing a Death Knight or Hunter. Seriously. I am not joking. Okay, I was joking, but I honestly am seeing more and more retribution Paladins who do not understand the first thing about their class. I honestly debated on whispering this guy at the end of the run and trying to explain to him about how to run his rotation (and yes there is a rotation for retribution Paladins, it is not just hitting two buttons), but I honestly felt that it would have done no good. That is why I am bringing it here. Please if you have a friend or loved one who is trying to "ret" it up. Please call us now at 1-555-Dont-Ret. We have operators standing by who can assist you with information on how to help these poor lost Paladins. Again that number is 1-555-Dont-Ret, please call soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raid Project II: Ulduar

Before I get into the heart of the content for this post, let me apologize for the last few days of nothing. I have actually been feeling rather ill lately and as such had not really been thinking so much about blogging as much as trying to hold my meals down. Well, I am still working on the holding meals down part, but having gone and seen the doctor Monday, at least I have some shiny drugs to help me through it. Now let's talk shop!

Week II

We had a strong showing for week number two. Too bad we had some new faces so it was somewhat like week number one. We started slowly coming online around our raid start time, but once again was around an hour late starting. On a personal note, that just drives me up the wall. I can understand life coming into play, but when it happens week after week it just becomes annoying. (I can rant about that perhaps some Saturday!) So we group up and head into Ulduar. Now the first thing I need to do is be really honest and say that there are quite a few people who are running this content that are really rather low for it, but they are dedicated and can follow instructions farely well; which to me is more important than your gear score, achievements, or any other silly thing we use to judge success in the game.

Our first task was to down Flame Leviathon again. We go over the basics of the fight with everyone and head on out. Now we did have one PuG in the group who was controlling my weapons on my siege engine and he did as best as he could I suppose. So we ended up wiping on the first attempt. I expected it and we reviewed some pointers on what to do and headed out for our second attempt. Just like last time, we downed the big hunk of junk and proceeded onto Razorscale. It was almost like deja vu because we also wiped once on the drake, but regrouped and made a few minor adjustments and took him down with a much better overall performance. Our next target was the annoying robot who refuses to drop my shield! Once more we did our traditional wipe, followed by a regroup and clear. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised as we had done this much quicker than the last time and so we then had to decide what to take on next. Would it be Ignis, the Iron Council, or the pop-up man (sorry his name escapes me and I am too lazy to look)? We decided for Mr. Pop-up and his eyes beams! In true fashion we wiped on the first attempt. We actually just had some bad luck as far as he grabbed our main tank and fried half the raid with an eye beam. No big worry, that was a moment to reflect on. We reviewed some basics with the raid and proceeded to topple the big guy.

I have to admit that I am proud of the progress that we are showing. Where we are hurting the most is in our DPS department. While our guys and gals do the best they can, we are lacking on solidly high DPS. I actually decided to end the raid at this point because in all honesty I did not think we stood a good chance of success against the other bosses that we could have faced and I did not want to end the raid on a bad note. Instead, people were happy and excited and talking about the next attempt already, which is what I was hoping for. My goal is to continue to work on downing the bosses that we can and gearing up off of their drops. We have seen consistant improvement in the raiders numbers and that will lead us to being able to take down another boss, and another boss, and another, until we have cleared all of Ulduar 10. It also allows us to develop quality raiders verses of the "carry me through" type of raiders that are seen far too often now.

Again, I cannot say how happy I am with the progress and proud of the members who are showing up each week and working to improve. We may hit bumps in the road every once in a while, but the dedication will always pay off at the end. I hope that in next weeks installment I can say that we added another boss to our downed list.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Alternate Fridays: _____________

What a great title huh? I have done absolutely nothing major this week with any of my alts. I have spent a lot of time either working, dealing with the real world, or raiding. I did however manage to get Lrem into the arena and I was able to go 4-6 on a 2v2 team. I felt sorry for the teams who lost to us as I know I suck at arena on my Hunter. Now give me a couple weeks and we shall see where he is once I have him geared to my standards.

This does leave this as an open post. So I am just going to throw a question up here. Out of all of the alts that you (or me) may have, which alt has the top spot as the number one go to guy?

As I post this question I still have not formulated an answer, but I am going to reply back with my answer as soon as I work through all twenty alts. I thought this would be an easy question...........

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Through The Eyes Of The Guild Leader: Truth

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revelutionary
act" - George Orwell
This is never more true of a statement than when leading a guild. It is often times hard to tell the truth and often times we would rather find a way to shy away from it. Perhaps we would rather just ignore it and hope that it turns out to not be the truth? Perhaps we are just completely blind to it? Or perhaps we just simply do not care any longer? What if the truth were something completely different? What if instead of looking at every external thing, that we instead look at ourselves? Was there something that we did wrong? Was there an area where we overlooked something/someone? Did we do everything that we possibly could have, given the circumstances? Have you ever had any of these thoughts while serving as a guild leader? I know I have.

Everytime you have a member who leaves a guild, you begin to examine first the guild and then yourself. You look at every facet of the guild and try to figure out what you did or did not do. Does this sound familiar? It should, because at one point or another in our guild leadership we will all experience it. I remember back to the beginning of this year when we lost several of our core group to another guild that could offer the world to them, or at least a few raids that we were not ready to run since we working on developing a solid group. I went through all of the thoughts I mentioned above. I realligned the guild. We reigned in the membership to application and officer approval for invite. We tightened the hatches and tied down the sails. I admit that the truth was the simple fact that I felt betrayed and hurt. In the game my Paladin can stand in the face of near immortals and gods and heal through any assault or massive strike they can muster, but in the quiet recesses of my mind I took each member leaving as a blow that struck deep and wounded even deeper.

Time heals all wounds and we soon removed the restrictions on memberships and once more began focusing on the raiding aspect. I led our core group into Naxx 10 and we cleared it with no problems (okay maybe a few folks with two left feet). We embarked on Uld 10 this past week and showed great potential. Then it happened. I log in tonight and I am hit with a whisper informing me of a guild member leaving. I look over the roster and notice another guild member that has left. A quick check of the armory and I find them together in a guild. I notice some other peculiarities, but those have nothing to do with this. I once again immediately begin to review events and think about what happened; however, unlike last time I blocked this blow. I spoke with a few of our senior members who were on and have reached out to a couple others via our forums and personal messages. I decided not to tighten the hatches or tie down the sails, but this time I plan to sail straight into the eye of this storm.

Instead of worrying about what I could have done different, I instead reviewed what we truly lost:

Player A - A whiner who the majority of the current members do not know from Adam and who do not care for. A player who decided that the guild needed a level 80 Death Knight rather than a useful class that could actually heal or tank. A player who was always out for theirself and never cared about the guild or assisting the guild. A player who used the guild to get gear. A player who left the guild claiming they wanted to raid more; however, removed their name from all but one raid in a week where four raids had been scheduled.

Player B - A player who had started to contribute to the guild again, after leaving in the large group of core member who abandoned the guild at the beginning of the year. A player who had mere days earlier left the guild without saying a word only to return without saying a word. A player who now left again, only this time with Player A.

I do not want to degrade these two individuals. I am sure they had their reasons for leaving. I would just be interested to know what the reasons for leaving were. You see LarĂ­sa posted a blog least week about if it was right/wrong to look for a new guild while you are in a guild. It was a good article and well thought out. There were a lot of wonderful comments on the post as well. I would recommed you to go and read it. I found her article to be interesting because it does pose a great question about how should an individual go about looking for a new guild? Well, I would like to answer this from the position of a guild leader that is trying to keep a core raiding group together.

I do not believe that I have made it a secret over the past (almost) year that I really hate when people leave the guild like a thief in the night. I understand that often times what an individual may desire is going to change compared to what a guild may desire. I am actually fine with that. What aggrevates me, is when people sneak away from the guild without saying anything. When I first had to deal with this at the beginning of the year, I lost my cool and was angered by it. I did not hide my feelings in the guild chat or in the guild forums. I cursed and told everyone that if they did not want to be a part of MAS to get the f**k out. I will never apologize for my feelings, but I was wrong in how I responded to the situation. It was a pretty rough time in my life in general as a lot of things had not been going right for over a year and this was just one thing that I released all of my anger upon. The thing I learned that time around is that the folks who sneak away are probably not as big of a loss that we may think they are. I learned a lot from that experience that I am able to apply now whenever anyone leaves.

However, to the question of how should one look for another guild? I would prefer someone catch me in a whisper or through some form of in-game mail, e-mail, or personal message from our forum site and let me know that their intention is to leave. I also love to receive honest feedback about what is right/wrong with the guild. I realize this could be uncomfortable for some members, but it really is appreciated. The entire time I have been a guild leader I have had only four people approach me as to why they were leaving. Two of the four had valid reasons such as their friends belonged to another guild, they wanted to raid content that we were not raiding, ect. The other two pretty much just jumped at the first opportunity to be carried through content, but at least they were honest enough to approach me and explain their reasons.

I tend to view those who leave without saying anything to myself or another officer as the individuals who want the easiest way to the end-game content. I honestly would prefer these types of personalities to leave the guild anyway as they tend to be the members who will always complain about something but never try to take the initiative to do anything about it. I also view these individuals as the people who are always demanding runs but never wanting to assist others in what they need. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything is focused on "me" and as such, we will probably never see the day where guild members will be honest and upfront with what they perceive to be wrong and why they feel they need to leave, much less let us know they plan to leave.

At the end of this very long post I want to offer some encouragement to other guild leaders out there. Never let one or two people push you down, much less don't let them make you push yourself down. Instead of thinking of what you have lost, take an inventory of what you have. As I thought about what we do have in the guild, I realized that only one of these two participated in our first attempt into Ulduar and that even though our members were not geared the best and wearing full epics, those who went gave everything they had. They listened to instructions and worked to improve their overall game. That is what you need to remember and those are the people you want to build on. I hope this helps anyone who may have doubt in yourself or in your leaders. The best advice I can offer is the quote from the very beginning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Paladin's Thoughts On All Things Holy: A Lone Paladin

Alright, so in the previous post I bragged about our guild and how far they have come in their raiding game. They are not alone in how far they have come. I have really grown a lot in many different aspects of this game and how I view certain things in it (some of these I will be discussing in other posts for different topics), but this post is going to be a little different from the normal posts that I place in this slot. Typically I will talk about things which I feel are of importance for us Paladins who are holding it down in the Light.

So you said typcially, then what is this post about? This post is about pushing the limits of what most people perceive a Paladin to do when they heal. I have always tried to push the limits of my abilities whether it was PVP or PVE. In PVP I am most happy when I have seven Alliance characters hitting me with everything they have and I can take it and more. When I die, it is just an opportunity to improve on my abilities. I had always believe that I would reach the pinnacle of healing as a Paladin when I was able to compete with Druids in PVP and PVE. I was able to reach half of that goal in PVP when my arena team fought to a stand still verses a team that was being healed by a Druid. I was completely excited by this and why should I not be? The only class who ever makes me feel like I have no skills in arena is a Druid and I am not complaining but that is where I set my mark to compete and by healing to a stand still is a tremendous step in that goal, especially considering the fact that I am only using my PVP gear but my build is strictly PVE with no talents set for any sort of stun, poison, or fear reduction.

However, I have always wondered where is the limit for healing in PVE? I do not know if I can ever top a Druid in healing in a raid setting since the nature they heal by is casting numerous HoTs all over. I accepted this and see how the different healing classes fit into the overall picture and have no problem with finishing second to a great Druid. We are completely different in nature where they heal entire raids and I typically heal the tanks. I run all heroics without ever stopping for mana. I am always trying to push my tanks to run faster and faster. Some tanks cannot believe the rate of regeneration that I have obtained and I often have to coax them into running faster, which is fine. I prefer a tank to be mindful of the mana of their healers as I realize not every healer will regenerate in this manner. I have always favored SP, Crit, and MP5 above all else. I never bought into the whole get a high haste rating and cast Holy Light non-stop and apparantly Blizzard agreed with basing our HoT off of our Flash of Light. Add to that the bonus of my trinket providing a HoT and I am at a unique advantage. So why all this talk of stats and healing? We all know I prefer to not number crunch, so what are you doing?

Stay with me and we will get to the point. My goal has been able to sustain long and handle anything that a group can throw at me. I have forced groups to run faster than they feel comfortable in H CoS so that they can get a chance to earn their Bronze Drake. Paladins are not known for being mobile healers and I consider that a great challenge. I feel disappointed in myself if I cannot carry a group to that boss, and I am not talking groups that are epic either. I am talking pushing fresh 80s to get it. It really serves two purposes the first being to help me work on my skills and try to find my limits and the second by not allowing people time to think they start learning to react which is what they need to do. To me healing is second nature. I know where my buttons are and I am able to anticipate where the damage is going. I suspect that other healers who have been healing since they wore diapers so to say in WoW are the same way. I know from running with certain players that they do not have to think about what happens, they have honed their skills to just act when situations happen.

Okay so that is all fine, but where are we going with this? The other night in Ulduar we had one of these moments happen. In a split second we lost our second healer (Priest) and I was left alone on the battlefield trying to keep two tanks and the raid up against Razorscale. I did not think about what happened, I simply acted. I did not worry about our DPS, I trusted Edyion to handle any orders that needed to be provided. I did not worry about our tanks as both Metalman and Nymeros are solid tanks who know their abilities. I simply acted. Razorscale had only landed once when we lost our second healer. We did not have any other healers so it was me, standing alone in the fire dropping heals on everyone. I heard a raid member call out they were down and I gritted my teeth a little feeling the pressure of the entire raid on my shoulders. The DPS was doing their part. The tanks were doing their part. I felt compelled to push myself. I could have easily had just called for a wipe and why not? It was an untested raid, but I have a hard time admitting defeat. I refuse to give up. I used every trick that I had, I used my enhanced auras ability to increase all of the Paladin auras. I used my protection abilities to decrease damage. When fire landed around me I used my bubble to avoid moving. I used my beacon on the main tank, sacred shield to the off tank, and massive Holy Lights to the clustered melee DPS. I spammed Flash of Light on my ranged DPS pushing the limit of what I could do. When the smoke cleared, the majority of the raid was standing and I still had mana to spare to revive my fallen raid members.

The point of this post is not so much directed to one class but rather to all classes. Look for the ways to push your limits. Don't look at wipes as a disappointment, but embrace it and think about it. I never leave a raid, instance, arena, or battleground without thinking what could I have done to improved my chances of survival/victory. If you want to know the secret to being a truly elite player it is in how you handle those moments. I feel that too many people get focused on leveling to 80 instead of learning their class and all the aspects of your class. I have spent unbelievable amounts of gold on respecs, socketing gems, getting enchants, and item enhancements to just turn around and change it. Squeaze every bit of stats out of items. be prepared to spend a lot of gold on wasted items and gems. Learn to push your abilities. Learn to go beyond where you feel comfortable. Do not let anyone box you into one specific role. If you had told me two months ago that I would single heal Razorscale I would have laughed at you, yet when I was placed in that situation I didn't even stop to think about it. I simply acted upon those same instincts I had been honing in instance runs and battlegrounds. It doesn't matter if it is seven Alliance or one very large pissed off mechanical drake beating on you. The trick is learning what abilities prolong your life. It is in learning where the line is between crit, SP, MP5, and haste. It is finding that one class that you love above all the others and playing it no matter what anyone says about it. It is about believing in yourself and shuting out all of those who may want to say it can't be done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raid Project II: Ulduar

So in a previous post I had stated the fact that I felt that as a guild I could officially place the "Done" stamp on Nax 10. This left me with one question, what to focus on next? We have around 40 - 45 level 80 characters within our guild. The problem is several of these are on the same account, while others rarely log on and show little interest in raiding. (Which since we started as a casual guild focused on PVP, I have no issue with their lack of interest.) So we could look at trying to form a 25 man Naxx run, but honestly I do not have the patience to organize 25 people for a run. Not to mention that we have a problem with folks staying on for the whole run. This has actually been a blessing as we are capable of rotating many members into a run and this has increased the gear of the overall guild.

I had considered looking at focusing on doing Maly 10 and perhaps chasing the OS with drakes up. Both of these are good options, but rarely worth focusing on for our schedule raids. So then I got to thinking about where Ruhtra should be. In all honesty, Ruhtra is at a point where he is rather bored and definitely looking for a challenge. As I looked over our guild roster I noticed other members who are in the same boat as Ruhtra or even more gear. So this led me to think that with the five to six main raiders (and by main I mean those who have been on here for quite some time taking the lumps to learn these runs in PuGs or alternative groups) and I realized that we could make the difference and that the time was now to push MAS into Ulduar. Which is exactly what we are going to be doing every Saturday.

The first week I posted for an Ulduar run, we had a good response from those who I selected to come on the initial run; however, the run fell apart and I did not wish to grab PuGs to round out a raid that was supposed to be for the guild. Then my schedule change hit at work and I was unable to really focus on some of these things. It was slightly before my schedule was to change that our former raid leader returned and has been on regularly. He has a strong desire to raid and so he and another member approached me about scheduling two raids. The first was to be on our old raid night and would continue to be Naxx 10. I was fine with this and agreed. I posted it and passed moderator status to the two members. I am happy to say that the raid went on as schedule and even Ruhtra made a guest appearance at the end of the run, although he was tired and ready to pass out.

The second raid they requested was Ulduar. This fit perfectly into my plans for where I wanted to take the guild. I agreed to schedule the run and posted it for Saturday. My schedule has me off on Saturdays and this was perfect. Instead of selecting those players who were geared to put out the best numbers and met what most people consider to be the minimums for raiding; I instead opened the run up to all level 80 characters. In all honesty I was inspired by the Greedy Goblin's post about downing Ulduar in blues. (I apologize I do not have a link up, but I will go back and look for it and update it as soon as possible.) So, we ended up having one tank on at the start of the run, but this did not matter to me. We rounded up all the guild members who were on and level 80 and headed for Ulduar. Now we cannot resist any PVP opportunity so some Alliance players did die as were waiting to enter Ulduar, but that is life on the PVP server.

I really was just hoping that we could down Flame Leviathon without folks becoming discouraged. We tried to place the higher geared players in the siege vehicles to get maximum hit points out of these. Also, those who were better geared had some experience in Ulduar. Without going into too much detail, we downed Flame Leviathon on the second attempt. I am going to try to keep my pride down, but that was damn impressive for a group that only had four or five people who had been in Ulduar and none of us have ever led a group there. We next targeted Razorscale. Now at this point we had to ask the last DPS who joined to step out so we could bring in another one of our main tanks. With the switch we then hit Razorscale with some solid efforts. We ended up wiping on Razor but regrouped and through some extremely solid game play managed to take Razor down on the second attempt as well. You could hear the excitement in vent and people were generally excited about how well the run was going. The next on the hit list was the robot. I was somewhat worried here as we are not always the most coordinated guild on the earth. As was par for the night we wiped once but then pulled ourselves together and ripped the screws out of that annoying machine.

I was absolutely surprised and happy with the performance of the guild and the fact that we went in raw and unchallenged in both leadership and skills and managed to perform beyond the expectations that I had. I will admit openly that I understimated our abilities and to that I apologize. If you were to look at those who went, you would see they are geared well but not nearly well enough to perform as solidly as they did. I think what this speaks to is the fact that if you have a good solid group of people who understand their classes and can follow directions and adjust their mechanics on the fly that you can take down this type of content. We are walking proof of that. A couple months back when I started trying to get us into raid shape I truly did not know where we would end up or how well we would perform. Three months later all I can say is that I am proud of those who have stayed with us and those who have joined and contributed, without you all this would not be possible. Again I thank you all and I look forward to raiding with you all and seeing how far we can go.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekly Update: 10/5 - 10/11

It has been such a long time since I had any sort of update going on, but let me try and just go over some basics of what I have been up to.

  1. I have been working on minor upgrades for Ruhtra. It is getting to the point now where there is not much that is an upgrade save from either Ulduar 25 or ToC 10/25. Do not get me wrong, there are still a few pieces here or there that could drop, but in reality I need to start thinking about getting into more raids as those raids will have more of a chance of dropping multiple items verses running looking for one or two specific pieces.
  2. My focus as of late has been on Lrem. I have worked very hard to get the best gear out there for him given the circumstances of not being able to find a lot of good groups. My most recent upgrades were picking up the tiered helm for badges and getting the crossbow to drop in H UK. I replaced my Vengeance Wrap finally with the Furious PVP back piece as well. At this point there is only a few more pieces of gear that I can gather for him prior to going into raids, which means I am going to have to break down and actually buy his flying finally.
  3. I decided I wanted to level a tank and so have been playing my Orc Warrior Galran. Now truth be told, Galran was the original Guild Leader for MAS, but when Ruhtra joined, he relinquished control and has since served in several support roles from auctioneering to storage. We will see what becomes of him as the coming days unfold, but I would say that getting him from 32 to 37 in a couple days is pretty good considering how much both he and I dread leveling.
  4. I respec'd Whoopy to subtlety as I have been doing more PVP with him than anything else. I liked the idea of the combat daggers build and when he hits level cap I may duel spec him back to a more PVE oriented spec, but for now it just makes since for me to stay with the spec that I will get the most use out of.
  5. As I am typing this a little gnat is getting on my last nerves. I thought that would really set this post off to let you know the little things.
  6. I had stopped messing with the auction house because quite frankly I had way too much going on in my personal life to be able to play my characters and play the auction house. As things are settling down more I am getting back into the auction scene and checking out some of the changes. I have read a lot of posts lately that the inscription market is getting pretty crowded due to an article on a large site. We shall see if this is the case in time.
That is pretty much all I have at this time. As you can see I have not really been doing a whole lot lately. I feel out of touch with the guild even as this is the first week I have not been on a whole lot during the hours that the majority of them are on, but they should know I am always watching and looking out for where we need to go and I hope that they actually continue to make progress without me being there every moment that something major is going on. I was happy to log in late on Thursday and see that they had managed to get a Naxx 10 run together. That was extremely encouraging to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

If It's Red, Then It's Dead: What's Broken With The Battleground System?

Alright, so I want to talk a little bit about the overall battleground format and why it is not working. I think a big clue we can take from Blizzard is during the last major patch they accidentally changed the levels for grouping up in battlegrounds. Now I completely agree with the changes, however I feel it shows how little work they really put into the battleground system in general. I am not a computer programmer, but in a previous job I did do systems testing for development prior to implentation of said system for a large national financial company and a change like that is not just something you accidentally flip the switch on or accidentaly impliment. So I think it is safe to say that Blizzard doesn't really care that much for the Battleground system based upon the fact that it would be almost impossible to "accidentaly" throw it into the patch.

How can I say that with the new battleground they added? Well, have you played it? It has no creativity in it at all. It feels like to me they just went and through all the battlegrounds into a bag and shook it around and when they dumped it out they gasped in awe at the work they had created. I will admit jumping off of a ship and attacking from inside the keep is cool, but how original was that? That was litteraly the only new thing they added. Their previous battleground addition has, in my opinion, been crap. Now I realize we can never go back to the old days of WoW and what the "old timers" loved about the game, but I think that they could put a little more thought into the overall battleground system.

Let's step back from the bitchfest that we could have about the development and implimentation of the battleground though and let's examine our options with both the good and the bad. Now this is from my persepective and I do not claim to be unbiased or non-opinionated, in fact I am just the opposite!

Warsong Gulch

The very first battleground experience that we get is Warsong Gulch. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say that they hate this one. The biggest complaint was that it took too long. I really disagree with the overall opinion of those who feel that way. Warsong Gulch was a battleground that required skill and teamwork. You had to have a solid group of players to defend your own flag while a skilled group went out to retrieve the opposing faction's flag. The problem was that for most players the idea of working together and utilizing a strategy is simply not there. Most players would run in and do one of two things:

1. Charge straight for the opposing faction's flag room leaving no one behind to defend their own flag and thus create a long game of who will drop the flag first.

2. Charge to the middle of the field and proceed to farm honorable kills, but not contribute to the goal of the overall battleground.

In reality, when we look at Warsong Gulch we see that it was not really Blizzard who ruined this battleground originally. It was instead the players. We did not wish to play by the "rules" so to say. Sure there are no rules and all is fair in love and war, but the battlegrounds were established for players to experience PVP, but with a goal. It was not so bad way back in the day because you had only players from PVP servers playing other PVP servers and the same for the non-PVP servers. However, when Blizzard mixed the battlegroups to include the non-PVP servers with the PVP servers, the quality of the battlegroups went down and we were tossed into battlegrounds where the non-PVP server players were simply there to farm honor. You cannot reason with them nor can you do anything about it, after all it is their only way to earn honorable kills in large amounts.

Now let's flash forward to the present. We have all gotten use to how the battlegrounds are, but Blizzard decides that they want to change Warsong Gulch one more time by adding a timer. Apparantly people are mad because they do not want to be in a neverending battleground. So instead of Blizzard coming up with a way to cause players to actually try to reach the goal of the battleground they simply put a time limit on the battleground. While I understand their reasoning in that it keeps it at the same time frame of most other battlegrounds, it did nothing at all to address what is truly wrong with the battleground overall.

So how would I approach this issue if I were in Blizzard's position? Well, there have been plenty of topics on this matter and plenty of ideas around it as well. I think one way to solve the issue would be through utilizing a system that would not award any honorable kills for a losing team. This would deal with those who wish to farm honorable kills, but what about the ones who are using the battlegrounds as a method to attempt to level? I know when I ran AV to level my hunter from 71 - 80, I did not care about the win as much as taking down Bal, IWB, and SHB. Sure a win was even better but if the group was solid enough to take those three it was around 5% of a level each game. A loss was actually a quicker method for earning experience verses winning a long drawn out fight. I would institute a system that did not award experience until the end of the battleground. I would then assign a set amount of experience to the whole battleground rather than individual targets. As an example, let's say that Warsong Gulch is worth 50,000 experience for both factions at level 79. I would then throw the experience into a large pot so the total experience combined would be 100,000 experience awarded. Then the winning team would receive 75% (75,000) of the total experience and the losing team would receive 25% (25,000) of the experience. In this simple strategy, you now give every player a reason to want to win. It would also then be able to utilize the AFK system for those who are reported and do not partake would also lose any experience thus removing the lazy players from receiving any experience as well as no honor.

I had intended to take a look at all of the battlegrounds as I think each one deserves a little seperate attention and I guess in the coming weeks I will look at each of the battlegrounds and discuss possible fixes for each. I did not realize how much I would actually have to say on this topic, but I feel it is a valid discussion as so many players are now running the battlegrounds to level and creating a whole new set of issues and concerns.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rant Day: Names

Alright so first let me apologize for the long period of not having published anything new lately. A couple things have changed in life recently, the largest one being that my schedule at work now has me working evenings and that has caused me to have to switch around my daily routines. Now if you ask my wife, she probably will not feel so sorry for me since it has made my own life much easier. I leave that topic open for debate, but the truth is that the change in my work schedule is taking some adjustment. I do not want to quit blogging though and figured what better day to pick back up the old keyboard than on Rant Day!

So as the title implies, today I want to discuss names. More importantly really awful names that took all of five seconds to come up with and definitely reflect this. Now I am not going to even attempt to say that I am immune to this. I have had my share of poorly named and misspelled toons. But I have to wonder for instance why a someone would name their toon "Tastemymace" and then proceed to two axes? Honestly, if you have a name that has a specific weapon in it, then please remember to carry that weapon at all times. Or how about any name that has holy or heals in it and then it turns out they are a DPS? Why name a toon after something you have no intention of doing? I mean you probably are not new to the game because you at least understood that the class could attempt to heal. I just do not get it folks.

Another naming style that drives me nuts is when you see someone who includes "pwn" in their name. Even better is when this "pwn"er attempts to actually "pwn" but instead is "pwn"d by the very target he had hoped to make the "pwn"ee. I guess they could consider changing their name to "Roflstmped" and then it would be more correct. Thinking of name styles that annoy me, what about the people who use the fancy characters? I hate when someone has a friend who wants to run and they have fourteen special characters for their name. Sure I can sit there and search for the correct combination of keys to push, but why? Seriously why? I just do not get it.

On the concept of not getting it, how about people who think a name is cool and then attempt to copy said name. (I may be guilty of this but not in direct copying, but rather the name was taken for Holycow and therefor Holeycow was born.) Honestly, it is one thing when you just want a name, but when you go out of your way to either rename your character or create a new character with a similar name.....I just do not get it. Of course that pales in comparasin to the four thousand guilds who have attempted to take the name . I would congratulate the orginaters of this name, but absolutely hate the copy cats out there. I just do not get it.

I think the reason I do not get it is because I have always tried to find names that suit my characters. My first couple characters were names created by using my name or my family's names. After that I have used google to research diety names and other language names. Now I will admit that for my Tauren I have recently started making a play on words that end in "able" and switching it to "bull" coming up with such classics as Invincabull and Honorabull. I have not seen this done and started using this a long time ago and it fits into how some of those characters are named, but honestly.....Wtfpwnedbyanub??

I just do not get it......

/end rant

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interruption!!

ATTENTION!

WE ARE INTERRUPTING THIS LONG PERIOD OF NON-POSTING WITH THIS IMPORTANT QUESTION!

Galran an Orc Warrior has never decided what professions to select and has recently been pondering a question. I do not know the answer to this question and so I bring it here to the blogging community for an answer.

With the professions in Wrath, they added the profession only "buffs of sockets, embroided items, and furs correct? (That is not the question.) Galran is wanting to know if he took blacksmithing for the extra sockets and leatherworking for the nice comfy fur lining, would he be able to utilize both of these items on bracers?

I have not been able to find an answer and my comrades have no consensus either. Please respond with a yay or nay.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THIS LONG PERIOD OF NON-POSTING.