Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Update & Other Changes

Alright, so did you notice the title there? Another round of updating of what has been going on recently. Well, to be honest I have had a lack of runs with my Hunter so I ended up buying some more gear for him. I guess the joy of a strong auction house presence allows one to bypass the stresses of seeking gear. Trust me it is not due to a lack of trying. I sat in queue for four hours last night with no luck of finding groups. I finally switched and ran a Walani through UK with a guild member who was looking to form a group. Which by the way was a lot of fun. I love the enhancement build. It may be my favorite overall melee class at the moment, but I am sure we will have more on that in our Friday series (you know since that is where I cover my alts).

At some point over the weekend I ran Naxx 10 with the guild. One of our resident tanks wanted to form up and run to help our newer 80's get some gear. I have been sitting out of some runs to allow for more folks to go, but decided I would go and heal the run for them. So I partnered up with our resident Druid and we completely rocked the healing department. I am very happy with this healing set up. I have always felt that a Druid is the perfect partner for holy Paladins and this is proving to be correct. We plowed through the Spider and Construct wing with no wipes. It was a very refreshing run with little downtime. It got me thinking about some things and we will definitely be dealing with those coming up.

While I did not have a whole lot of luck on the runs with my Hunter, my wife has been cleaning up. Her gear is looking good and she is doing a good job with her Hunter. If I had half the luck for runs and gear I would be happy, but to me Ruhtra is still my main focus and I was able to finally acquire enough triumph badges to trade in for a new ring. I am feeling pretty good right now with the gear that he is sporting and I am looking forward to some more challenging content.

Speaking of challenging, now that work has picked up I feel like I am not really putting out a lot of posts (much less quality posts). Some of this is just regular life reasons and others have been from being annoyed and not wanting that to jade my opinion or turn this blog into nothing but one giant rant after another. It has made me think about starting up a blog that is completely non-WoW related where ranting is the whole subject. I have often thought it would be nice to see some sort of a blog or site where there was just no ranting that occurred but also would dive into good and bad relations with businesses. So, keep your eyes open cause one of these days my "Rant Day" series is going to expand into it's own blog where I can let out the rage and anger in a way that really doesn't matter.

On other news of changes. I am thinking that my "Raid Project" series is coming to an end. The whole goal was to show what went on while trying to turn our casual PVP guild into a more focused raiding guild. I do not know the success or lack of success, but we have become (at least I feel) a raiding guild. We can get a group together and at any time down Naxx 10 at will. Now this is going to leave my Tuesday spot open for a new series and I have already decided on what I want to do. Do not worry, I am not going to make you wait until tomorrow! My new series will be titled, "The Raid Project II"! I have never been a quitter and I feel we have enough solid players that have been in raids and are geared properly that we are now ready to step into the next raid. At this point I am focusing squarely on Ulduar.

That is right! MAS may be late to the party, but we have the people and skills to start working on it and I see no reason to slow our progression. With the return of a few quality players, I feel we are ready for it. If, as a guild, we wait to begin running such content until everyone is ready, then we will run the risk of losing quality players to other larger guilds who need bench warmers and extras for their 25 man roster. My goal was never to settle for anything but the best and that has not changed. Over the coming days and weeks I am planning to start pushing the guild into Uld and on this blog, just as we did with Nax, we will document the success and failure of this attempt.

Well, that is really all that I have for today!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alternate Fridays: A Whole Lot of Nothing!

It seems like just a week ago I was busting Lrem's chops in order to get him to level 80. I accomplished my goal and within one week took a toon to 80 through the battleground system. Which by the way had some unexpected changes. I discovered these from listening to the complaining on the trade channels. I rarely give credit to the trade channel for anything but found it interesting. So I jumped in queue for an AV with my Warlock (Emprius) to see if the rumors were true.

What I discovered with my first run with Emprius was that the experience earned per boss kill and bunker destroyed was cut in half. With Lrem I earned roughly 17-19k experience. With Emprius It was cut down to 8k experience. That is a huge loss of experience, but it was nothing horrible. Now Emprius is slightly higher than Lrem was when I started with him, so that was a little lower than what I initially felt was acceptable. However, before I could write a scathing post about losing my precious easy experience (which I had no intention of doing), they went and made changes again. I ran yesterday with my arena partner's Hunter and we were getting 12k experience per boss kill or bunker destroyed. Kind of funny that in less than a week of running AV that we have seen three different sets of experience gained from running.

Which brings me to the heart of today's alternate character, Emprius! I have written some about him in the past and I started to level him a few months back but became bored with looking for groups and finding the worst possible groups around. So I just sat him on the sideline and figured I would just concentrate on Ruhtra and get him geared. Well, I managed that and then for some reason skipped him in favor of Lrem. Well, Emprius was not too pleased with this and so I have dusted him off and brought him out to play.

The big thing about Emprius is that I have always been affliction with him, which I loved back in the day. However, I have read the blogs and forums and realized some issues with the affliction build that I may not like and decided that I would try something new. So I respec'd Emprius from affliction to a hybrid build. I went far enough down into demonology to acquire the fel guard and then have been spending the rest in the destruction tree to up my casting damage. This build has proven a lot of fun for running AV, but I realize that when I hit 80 I will have to switch to one of the cookie-cutter builds more than likely.

At the clos eof the day, Emprius was 74 and looking pretty good. I had some gear to upgrade his weapon and back piece. From here on out it will be the old arena gear and those two items until 80. At 80 I will craft some gear for him and look for some deals. Ofcourse I am going to run him through AV as I still think this is the best way to level. Worst case scenario, will be two to three weeks to level. Best case scenario is I get him done in this coming week. Either way, you will be able to read it here first.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rant Day: Special Edition!

Okay so I am pretty steemed right now. It has nothing to do with WoW for once, but something that irritates me more than the worst of corpse campers! What is it? Family members and friends who do not answer their phones! For over two hours I have been trying to get someone at my house and with no response. I have left messages, contacted cell phones, left voice mails on the cell phones, I have sent text messages and all without any sort of response.

To me this is just rude. I realize you may step away from the phone (or computer) but for two hours? At least in WoW you get logged off so I won't get my feelings hurt if you do not respond and it even flashes an "AFK" notice up.

At any rate, at least I tied it into WoW. On a side note if anyone who happens to read this sees any of the family members online, could you please have them contact me. I am sure this post will seem silly to others, but damn it, what the hell else am I supposed to do?

Call the police and have them drive by and check in?

/endrant

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Update: 9.13.09 - 9.19.09

Alright, so would of thought I would do a weekly update on Monday? It has been forever since I actually got one of these things out on time. So let's hit the high points shall we?
  • Lrem - As I have mentioned in other posts recently, I took my Hunter from 71 - 80 over the course of last week. I put in a huge push on Saturday to make it in a week and was extremely happy with the results.
  • I hit the auction house for Lrem and managed to pick up two nice pieces of epic gear for under 50% of the going rate. I collected two pieces of PVP gear using up some of my honor points. I acquired a helmet on a heroic UP run as well. I also took a green Polearm that dropped during the run to replace the low level axe that I had. Now I just need to go out and abuse some low level mobs to raise my pets and my weapon skilss.
  • My wife joined me in the battleground scene and was able to get her Hunter to 80 just a short time after mine. So now Lovkinja and Lrem can shoot varmits and mobs together.
  • I began working on my Warlock, Emprius. I plan to level him over the course of the next two weeks in the battlegrounds as well. I figure I have all of these higher level characters and this is a great way to level those characters.
  • I joined a Vault raid that was started by a guildie, as a favor, and ended up being promoted to raid leader to handle loot distribution. I offered to just be loot master, but I guess he felt more confy with me handling it as raid leader. The kicker was I went as Holy, informed the raid that I would roll for Retribution gear and then won every piece of gear that dropped. I almost feel bad for the folks who were there but those are the breaks of rolling against a legend like Ruhtra.
  • To celebrate the achievement of reaching level 80 (and I think because Abbadonn was feeling rage) we went to Southshore and annhilated the place with Abbadonn, Sneyk/Zeth (he would switch between them), Lrem, Lovkinja, and even Edyion joined in the fun. Didn't find much there though. Kind of sad, I remember the good old days where you could roll into town, turn a rock or two over and get yourself a real good fight. Oh well, I guess with the news that the place is going to be destroyed, folks are packing up and moving out of town. Looks like MAS really won that war!
  • Holeycow and the auction house crew made a hauling this week. Stone was selling like crazy for some reason. You have to love all those rich alts who are too lazy to go farming!
  • I leveled up Whoopy's jewelcrafting to the 420 range. As of late he has become one of my major crafters, as buying the uncut entry Wrath gems are fairly cheep and thus saves me some serious gold spending.
  • I have begun to finish up leveling Lrem's leatherworking skill. I think I am 390 with a stockpile of Borean Leather and getting more daily.
Well that is all that comes to mind for the time being. If I think of anything else I will edit it in. Take care and see you all later!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If It's Red, Then It's Dead: Alterac Valley

So, I have mentioned, in this past Alternate Friday post, that I was leveling my Hunter through the Alterac Valley. It had been a long time since I ran the battleground scene continuously and so have not really seen what it has become like, that is until this last week. So, let's take a little closer look at Alterac Valley for those who may be considering leveling in this fashion!

The first thing you will want to have is a lot of patience. I cannot stress this enough. If you roll into any battleground when you are between 71 - 77, you will get a lot of grief from higher level characters. Be prepared for the fake "AFK Notification" messages and much complaining. The second thing you will need to do is keep your mouth shut. You may have a great understanding of what strategy works verses what strategy does not work, but this will not matter as you obviously are not 80 and could have no clue how to win. I realize this is not true, but no one will listen to you. So just save yourself the headache and do what you know will work best.

So let's talk some strategy. I pretty much have one simple method I follow when I play, regardless of my level. I start out and go straight for Balinda. This is especially important for those who wish to level. For every oposing boss and bunker you destroy you earn 18,0000 (low 70s) to 19,000 (high 70s) experience. Here is a piece of advice, if when you go into Balinda's bunker and you happen to see Alliance, then attack them first. At the lower range of the 70s, most of your attacks will be glancing or misses against Balinda; however, you can hit other players and therefore you will put more damage out and be more useful by attacking the opposing forces who may try to "turtle" you in that particular bunker. After Balinda goes down you collect your experience you will have two options available as to where to go next. The first option will be to move either to Icewing Bunker or Stonehearth Bunker and help defend those bunkers. Again, remember you can hurt a level 80 character. The second option would be to go and join a recap team and try to reclaim Tower Point and Ice Blood Tower. I rarely go on the recap teams simply because I feel it lessons my chances of survivial. My primary pick will be to always go to Icewing Bunker.

Here is another trick that works well for anyone who has a pet (so that means Death Knights, Hunters, and Warlocks). Once you have destroyed the bowmen, go down to the second level and position yourself right at the bottom of the stairs. Align your pet as close to the edge as possible and place them on the stay command. Also, switch them from defensive or passive to aggressive. This is your first line of defense in the bunker. Your pets will give you a heads up of when someone comes running in and slow them down tremendously, which provides you a few precious seconds.

Also for the Hunters out there, lay down traps. If you have multiple Hunters, then have one lay traps and the other one keep their flare up at all times. It is amazing how many Druids and Rogues do not understand that flare equals no stealth. Also Hunters, make sure and keep track Humans on as you can see a large group of red dots moving towards the bunker entrance and warn the other members defending. Another thing for you Hunters (and I promise I am not picking, but you are one of the best classes for defense), make sure and when you see the large amount of red coming, jump down and drop you ice trap that slows the oposing faction on the first floor as close to the door as you can. Next drop your immulation trap on the first floor steps. I say the immulation trap simply because it damages the target even when they move away from the trap and that is what we want because unlike PVE other players will not stand in the fire (unless they are really bad). Right behind your immulation trap make sure and lay down your snake trap. With the combination of multiple traps and pets, your first line of defense will provide a siginifigant amount of damage before they even have a shot at you.

Ranged DPS, you will move around continuously to lay down as much damage as you can as they come up the first set of steps. Melee DPS, you will wait and charge them if they make it to the second floor. Warriors should be using their charge ability and Rogues should be stunlocking them and slowing them down. Remembr you do not need to live just make sure and burn the tower down. You will earn your experience even if you are dead. If they make it to the third level, all hell breaks loose. Try to use distraction abilities and keep them away from your healers (if you have any) and the squishy clothies. Mages, do not forget you have sheep and the ability to freeze targets in place, feel free to use these when they hit the third floor. Any class who has a fear ability, make sure and use it. Remember, you want them away from your flag.

So, let's assume that you succeeded in burning down your assigned bunker, now what should you do? If you are in Stonehearth Bunker, then move immediately to Icewing Bunker and help beef up the defense there. If you are in Icewing, chances are that Stoneherth has already been burned down. If Stonehearth got reclaimed by the Alliance, then you will need to go join up with the forces there and retake it. These are your easy experience that you should get every game, and these are also important for winning the battle as well. If both bunkers burn successfully, then move ahead to the front and reinforce the bunkers or graveyard by Van. If you go to the front to assist on the fight with Van, please do not run in and keep starting and resetting the fight. All this does is drive the rest of the group nuts and may cause a few senseless deaths along the way, which could utlimately cause you to lose the battleground, especially if you get a healer killed in careless "fun".

In the event that you lose your bunker and have no graveyard upfront and find yourself back near your base, you will need to go on defense there. I am not much of a defender actually, as I hate turtles; however, a couple good spots are on the gate over the entrance to the main area for ranged DPS and at the top of the hill of the entrance for all DPS. Alot of folks will fight at the lower levels of the base and Frostwolf Graveyard, which there is nothing wrong with, but I have never seen a group hold that position as the enemy will use a ramp and jump your walls avoiding the main defense force. At the top there is no way around. They will have to fight straight through and that is where you group them up and pummel them with massive AoE damage. As a last resort for defense you can take around 5 to 8 really solid players and go inside of the General's room. I have stayed in there on my Paladin and watched us win because we were able to hold them off and burn down their reinforcements, this is the exception and not the rule.

At the end, it is important to listen to the battleground group and see if there is a set strategy. If the strategy sounds solid then follow it sinse a victory will yield more experience and honor. Do not just focus on taking down a couple towers and Balinda, but focus on the overall win. You receive additional experience and honor for each graveyard, mine, and tower that you hold. Roughly expect around 3-5% of a level for each battleground where you can take a couple towers and down at least Balinda. Oh and one more thing, remember to have fun at it and remember it's a game!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alternate Fridays: Battle Hardened

So for today I want to take a look at another one of my alts on my main server. Towards the end of the Burning Crusade I leveled my Hunter to 70, but because of how short the time frame was I did not spend nearly as much time on his development as I did Ruhtra and Emprius. Now do not go feeling sorry for Lrem as he had a full set of epics at 70. The difference for him was that I used his Dragon Leatherworking abilities to create his gear along with a cloak I made from Emprius. I rounded his old gear with some PVP shoulders and the weapons from battlegrounds. Shortly after Ruhtra and a few others reached level 80, we started running some older content to help out alts in the guild. During one of those runs I acquired a nice set of PVE shoulders and a bow. (I will go back and edit the actual names in; however, at work I cannot access a lot of the resources to get the specific names so I apologize for this.) So you can see that my Hunter was well geared to begin his grind to 80.

So maybe a few weeks after Ruhtra hit 80, I started playing with my alts. I leveled my Priest to 68 before burn out hit. I leveled Whoopy to 70 and have been having a lot of fun with him, but it has been more slow since switching his spec and taking the time to learn the class. Emprius I took to 73 and just dreaded the thought of running instances and questing the same stuff I just had gone through with my Paladin. Alright, I did bypass most of the Wrath content by leveling at the end of the BC content and running nothing but instances, but as a healer I could always get a group so it was easy to level in this manner. I leveled my Warrior, Muel, up to level 46 in order to equip Kang the Decapitator, and messed around with a few other alts.

Then there was Lrem, whom I really loved to play. The main reason why Lrem was the last character I leveled to 70 during BC was that we have always had around three really good hunters within our guild. Well, since Wrath launched we are down to one really good Hunter which means there is a possiblity to be able to utilize Lrem for actual guild raiding and other functions. Another thing that has worked out well is the timing. We have a few extra healers working on their characters, which let's me not have to be the "main" healer. So I decided at the beginning of the week that I would work on my Hunter. He was sitting at 71 and was itching to get out there and shoot some baddies!

Now Lrem is a beast master Hunter and I have no intention to change that. After all I am afraid Smiley would be terribly upset if he was not allowed to come out and play. However, I do not use the standard Hunter pets that most beast master Hunters will use. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against the cats, dogs, and wolves of the game, but there is just something special that Widowmaker and Lrem share. I do not know if it was the near 30 times of dieing while trying to tame her back in Silverpine or the fact that everyone has always told me to get rid of the "spider" as a pet. Whatever the reason, Widow and Lrem are as tight as Snuggs and Ed.

So, I started messing around with Lrem on Monday. I was trying to work up the desire to go out and quest my little heart out to gain levels. I failed. I sat there staring at the screen. I contemplated logging off and working on the auction house or going and watching a DVD. Then the thought hit me. I was bored, when I use to get bored I would run battlegrounds. So why not run a battleground? I remember Blizzard was now giving experience for running battlegrounds and thought I would check it out. So into the Alterac Valley did Lrem and Widow go. I was greeted by the usual "OMFG!! A lowbie!!" type of comments. A few people whispered me asking about my arena shoulders. The battle began and I ran out of the cave and mounted my Black War Kodo (that was my very first epic mount for Lrem) and charged down the field heading towards Bal. I got to Bal and a bunch of folks were standing there doing absolutely nothing. I hit Beastial Wrath and sent Widow in. The folks followed suit like good mindless droans and we burned down Bal. It flashed on my screen and I sat there stunned in disbelief. I received over 18,000 experience for that one kill. I charged out of Bal and headed to Icewing Bunker where I captured the flag and guarded the tower with a couple other folks. The bunker burns down and there it was again! Another 18,000 experience.

It was at that moment that I found the path for leveling my characters. I charged out and headed back to Stonehearth to retake that bunker and burn it down. Again, 18,000 experience rolled across my screen when it burned. Since Monday I have spent only a couple hours per day in the battlegrounds with Lrem, yet I have gone from 71 to 78 in only four days (8 hours roughly of play). That is rediculous experience for a battleground, yet I think it is fit. At this point trying to find groups is a chore. Not because there are not groups available, but the players in the groups I am finding now are lacking in skill (that is putting it mildly) and for some reason I have a hard time getting a response in guild chat when I ask for help. So for me, the battlegrounds are very viable option.

Some of the positives to leveling Lrem in this manner is that I have met some pretty nice people who I only get to see when in the battlegrounds. It is nice to roll into a group and know half of it. It definitely helps for communication and organization. Another nice aspect of this is that my wife has been working on her Hunter (Lovkinja) as well and we get to watch our pets rip face while we blow their heads off together. The family that BGs together stays together I guess could be our family moto. Another nice aspect is that it is relatively easier to go after battleground achievements in the pre-80 groups than at 80. I have tried for several achievements with Ruhtra (who has full arena gear for PVP) and have not come close; whereas with Lrem, I am burning the achievements up right and left.

Now it would not be fair if I did not list a couple of the negatives for leveling in this manner that I have seen as well. The biggest negative to me is going to be gear. At level 77, the majority of my gear is the arena gear from BC. Deminishing returns is going to slap me like a pimp slaps a ho when I try to run soemthing at 80. The only positive side is that I have earned quite a bit of honor and have been acquiring level 80 PVP gear, which will allow me to hold my own in some key heroics to acquire some PVE gear. The down side there is that it will take me a little longer to gear than it did with Ruhtra I am afraid. The other big downside for Hunters is that our pets do not gain the experience from the towers and bosses that our characters do. This means that when I hit level 80, Widow will only be level 75. This does not bother me so much as Widow is not really the pet I will use in PVE content anyway (that honor will be Smiley's). So I have always realized that I would end up having to work on finishing up the leveling of a pet.

All in all I am extremely happy with this method of leveling. I earn way more experience by running battlegrounds and enjoying the game verses running instances that I dispise and spending countless hours trying to complete quests. Is it perfect for everyone? Probably not, but if you follow my blog then you know that I am way happier fighting Alliance verses beating on some guy that has already been beat down by hundreds of thoursands of other folks. Call me crazy but you rarely end up with the same thing happening in a battleground and that I like. Sure it is aggrevating to get ROFLSTOMPED into the ground by a group of 80s, but it is extremely satisfying to watch an 80 think they will ride right through me only to get webbed by Widow and burned down. In the end, to me, it is about enjoying the game. I have one character who is geared and able to do whatever I want. The rest, for me, is all about having fun, and that fun jut happens to focus on killing other players.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Raid Project: The Raid Leader

So I think I have figured out what I am doing wrong in my temporary role of being a raid leader. I have taken some notes and really learned much from this video:



I hope you were not at work with your speakers up for that one!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Alternate Fridays:Whoopy

As you all know I have a serious issue in WoW. I have six characters (Methuselah, Popebutch, Whoopy, Walani, Lrem, and Emprius) stuck in the 60 to low 70s range. I have tried many different ways to level them and typically end up just getting them bunched closer together. So, in an effort to break one from the pack I started playing my Rogue, Whooopy again. I had been having some fun just running around doing a quest here and ganking an Alli there, but was not sure if I wanted to commit to a melee DPS class. (Ruhtra hates melee!)

I had been looking to take Whoopy into some instances as I had not really done much five man stuff while leveling to 70 with him. So a couple weeks back I managed to get in a group for UK. We tore the place up and I was in the middle of the pack for DPS. I felt pretty good about it and was satisfied by what was going on. The background here is that Whoopy is my first character that I have at 70 who has never managed to raid in BC, so his gear is really sub-raid level for BC. That being said, I was happy with his numbers. That was until the other night. I logged on and wanted to run some five man content. At the same time one of our guild members was on with his Shaman and was wanting to run to get some healing practice in. Now back in the end of BC he was one of our main healers who had taken some time off from healing to level a Death Knight. So I was happy that we had a healer on. Well, one of our 80 tanks agreed to tank. Wonderful, the two hardest spots were filled. We rounded out the group by grabbing a guild member's Mage and my wife hopped on her Hunter.

We began, the group was great. We were slaughtering the place like there was no tomorrow. I know that with an 80 prot Paladin it would not be difficult anyway. My wife had been interested to know what her numbers were so I pulled recount for her and there she was sitting up top (not counting the 80 tank). However, Whoopy was sucking the floor. It was the first time with any of my characters that I had not been able to perform where I wanted to. I was really aggrevated by this. Now I will admit that the main reason is because I was subtlety spec'd and that does not put out the best DPS in the world.It is great for solo leveling in a PVP realm that has a lot of random acts of violence, but not so good for the PVE content. So the good news is that my wife is doing great with her Hunter and I hd homework to do. So I went and started reading my usual spots (WoW Forums, Blogs, Wowhead, and WoWwiki).

So I bit the bullet last night and rode to UC and there I changed Whoopy from being a subtle sneaky Rogue to be a comabt daggers Rogue. I then went and purchased the glyphs that I needed. By the way, I realize I need to level my inscription so that I do not need to pay high prices for glyphs (which I didn't, I am just going to look for them over a period of time). I wanted to go with Swords or Maces but I do not have access to any decent weapons and my Daggers from my former build were not the worst weapons in the World (of Warcraft). So I went over and decided to beat on some dummies to see what I could put out unbuffed with only poison on my blades. I managed to increase my DPS by 200 with a simple rotation and the changed spec with new glyphs.

I was extremely happy with the end result of my experiment with the dummies and so jumped at the first opportunity to test out my new build. So I assembled a group and we hit UK again. It took a little while to get use to the new rotation starting out, but after the first few pulls I had the rotation down and was putting out a little more than I did on the target dummies. So it looks like with just a little bit of work and research that I have managed to find a build that will work for the time being. Once I hit 80 and have more time to work on weapons I may switch the build to a different combat spec, but for the time being this is going well. My next big task is going to be looking into the aspects of enchants and gems for Whoopy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Through The Eyes of The Leader: Opposing Viewpoints

As a leader, regardless of what you are leading, you should surround yourself with a strong group of individuals who share your vision of the goal that you are working towards. WoW is no exception to this. It is important that each and every member of the organization know that their leadership is on the same page in terms of the goals. Any cracks in the leadership will destroy the organization. In other words, your leadership is like a foundation of a home. Everything that is done is going to be done on that initial groundwork so you must be careful as to who you invite into leadership positions.

In the past I have given in to petitions for members of the guild to be given an opportunity at leadership positions. Sometimes these individuals have peformed their rolls admirably and efficiently. Other times they have been a dismal failure and a giant headache. However, there was one person that I had as an officer for a short period of time who constantly questioned every decision that was made. They did it in an open way to the best of my knowledge, but never failed to always question everyone in officer chat. I know some folks became so aggrevated over this individual that they begged for their removal from their position. I on the other hand appreciated this person's openess. They did nothing wrong, but always led with their heart when they asked a question. Often times they were satisfied with the answers but on some occassions would push the matter again after they had some time to reflect. As time wore on this person left our guild and honestly it was a good decision for them to leave. (And no I will not say whom this was or whether it was good or bad conditions that they left under.)

My point of bringing this person up was not for a QQ or Hatefest '09 on them, but rather to point out that we need those kind of individuals in our guild officers. I am blessed, all of our officers are highly oppinionated and loud (hee hee love you guys!), so getting an opinion never takes long. However, sometimes I miss that one person who just wants to take the extra five or ten minutes to debate me on the merrits of whatever the topic is. Did they aggrevate me? Absolutely, I hate to be questioned when I have made up my mind. However, I also realize that absolute power corrupts absolutely. So if you are running your own guild now or plan to start one in the forseeable future, then I would recommend to find yourself at least one nay sayer and bring them on board. So long as they share your goal and vision, then their viewpoints will always help you consider other angles you may not have thought of.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Raid Project: Social Structure?

So we are still not in the swing of full on raiding currently, but I did come across a post from Tobold that I found somewhat interesting and also since this is our day to talk raids I felt like talking a little bit about the post. So in his post, Tobold talks about how he is having a harder time getting his alt through raid content and is sitting with his Warrior at pre-raid level gear. I know this is a problem that a lot of folks tend to come across. I had this issue with both Emprius and Lrem at the end of BC. A lot of folks were farming raids and did not want to take players who were not already geared out. I did not get upset over this though because I understand that they were seeking a quick run for the sake of getting perhaps one or two pieces of gear and that the ability for one or two other members to go would be dependent on them knowing the fights and being geared properly.

I tried a couple times to not bring Ruhtra along on guild raids, but there is always a shortage of healers and as such, never succeeded in bringing anyone other than him. Anyway, as we read on in the last paragraph of Tobold's post he says this: "Wouldn't it be great to have some social structures that would allow a similar degree of cooperation and success as a guild, but also for alts?"

That statement seemed rather off to me. So I reread his post and then read it again. What I have come to the conclusion is that Tobold is having a rough time getting his Warrior into raids with his current guild, as they have moved on from Naxx. He has not been able to find any raids that are willing to accept him in his current gear set. I have to pause here for just one moment and question this. I have some characters on several different servers and I often times see Naxx 10 raids begging for tanks. Now if his Warrior is defence capped and ready for raids, then I would see no issue with him getting into raids. On the other hand, as I have often seen people do, if he means "pre-raid" gear is actually half assed gear set put together, then unfortunately I could see why no one would be willing to take him as a tank. We cannot really make a judgement on this one as he keeps his characters a secret and with good reason. So we will base it on his posts and assume that because he has a high degree of understanding that he is ready for raids and his "pre-raid" gear set is made up of epics from the heroic content. So then his delimna really is that he wants to raid but his current guild is not meeting his needs.

My first suggestion would be to request the raid leader or officers to post a Naxx 10 run for anyone who wants some badges or gear for their alts. I would suppose that he is not the only one in this position. This will allow for the raid to then have a sense of organization and be as well prepared for as the current progression content. Perhaps he should even offer to lead this raid? If he is unable to get the guild to post this run to the calendar, then perhaps he should just look for a less progressed guild for his Warrior. It is never fun to think about leaving a guild, but in reality that may be your best option.

However, Tobold makes a plea to the blog community for ideas or other suggestions. The one thing I have seen more of on my server is individuals begin forming weekly raids via the forums and the trade channel. These groups start out as PuGs, but some of them have been running now for a couple months and are progressing as if they were a guild. I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to quit waiting for someone else to cater to you need, but rather use your logic and devise a plan that will get you to your goal.

As a side note, I hope this did not come across in a negative light. I was not trying to speak badly of Tobold, but I did not want to hit his blog with a wall of text. I think Tobold is in a spot a lot of us find ourselves in and that we sit there and wait and wait and wait for someone else to take action when we could take action ourselves. I simply point to Tobold because he chose to speak about this particular topic. I enjoy Tobold's blog and recommend everyone read it as he always has interesting commentary on the state of WoW, as well as many other games.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

If It's Red, Then It's Dead: Battleground Changes

So as someone who loves battlegrounds, when I heard about the change coming to battlegrounds I was skeptical at first. What change am I referring to? It is the rated battleground system of course. When I first read the news, to be completely honest, I was pretty mad. Sure the chance at some quality PVP gear made me excited; however, the fact that in order to get the best I would have to be a part of a team and earn a rating upset me quite a bit. I mean seriously! We have a hard enough time trying to fill a 3v3 arena team and now I have to try to get 10 to 40 people together for a rated team?

I really considered just giving up on the notion of it participating in the rated battlegrounds. I mean the Blues posted that you would still be able to acquire PVP gear through honor right? You know what though? I am not a quitter. I view this as a challenge. When we go out for some world PVP we typically can round up 10 to 15 people; so I have decided to start there. I am going to generate some interest in the guild. Find out who else is interested and then start contacting some friends who love PVP and work from there. I am sure there are a lot of people like myself who want to participate in this but are sitting there scratching their head wondering where they are going to come up with the folks for a full battleground group. My goal is to have the "team" assembled in the next few weeks and begin running some battlegrounds together to see how well we work together. So as a side note to anyone from Daggerspine-US Horde side that is looking for a battleground team, give me a hollar!

I have honestly found that organizing larger groups is not so much a problem as it is really just all about the organization. So much like I have taken on leading raids for the guild, I am going to get our battleground team together and hope that some fellow guild member will want to step in and take it over, but if they do not, then yours truly will be leading raid and battleground groups. I am interested to see if any other folks out in the blogsphere is undertaking the rated battleground challenge. If you are, post some ideas on what you are thinking and let's compare notes. Well, I will catch everyone a little later.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rant Day: Social, M&S, and Other BS!

So, I am a pretty laid back guy I think. I know kind of funny for me to say that with a weekly series where I rant about things that get on my nerves right? So this week I had written up my non-ranting post and published it and was very happy with it. However I want to take a look at a trend that I am seeing creeping up on more and more blogs. I was going to wait to publish this for next Saturday, but I honestly could not allow myself to wait till then to post it. What is it? You cannot tell by the title? Okay, enough sarcasm, it tends to lose it's humor when writing anyway. So, I want to talk a little bit about this new attitude that is creeping up all over the place in all sorts of blogs, which is a form of elitism.

Elitism?

Why would you say elitism? I mean there is a lot of things that I could focus on in my weekly rant, but I have just been aggravated by one too many bloggers who tend to feel that they are a gift to the rest of the world. I realize that we all have to have some sort of ego to want to blog. That we are all bound by feeling that we are experts in what it is that we are speaking of. However, as of late there are more and more of us in the blogging community who are using terms like "social" and "M&S". I realize that we all have our own writing style and we all make personal decisions on how best to present our arguments, but it is getting a little ridiculous now days.

Let's take a look at the word elitism though and what it means. Our good friends over at Wikipedia tend to describe elitism as:

Elitism is the belief or attitude that those individuals who are considered members of the elite—a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes—are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern. Alternatively, the term elitism may be used to describe a situation in which power is concentrated in the hands of the elite. Those opposed to elitism are considered supporters of anti-elitism, populism or the political theory of pluralism. Elite theory is the sociological or political science analysis of elite influence in society - elite theorists regard pluralism as a Utopian ideal.

Elitism may also refer to situations in which an elite individual assumes special privileges and responsibilities in the hope that this arrangement will benefit humanity or themselves. At times, elitism is closely related to social class and what sociologists call social stratification. Members of the upper classes are sometimes, though inaccurately, known as the social elite. The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination. Such elitism has social psychological consequences.

I find the second part of this definition to be of interest, "This form of elitism may be described as discrimination." I point this out because way too many of us are giving the impressions that we are the best at what we do, which is not wrong. The part that is wrong is where we send an underlying message that gives the impression that if you disagree with us, it is because you lack the knowledge and experience that we possess and therefor must be wrong and at a lower level or social class.
Social Players

Recently the term "social player" has become more and more common place on many different blogs. I am bothered by this as it is implying that these "social players" are not very good at the game, at least according to the standards that are being conveyed within the blogging community. I am all for pointing out areas where someone can improve; however, I do not think that you will motivate people by making them feel like a second class citizen. I also do not feel that any of us have earned the right to classify anyone else in a lower class of play as I have not come across very many bloggers who are in the top guild on their server with confirmed server firsts, much less world firsts.

However, many of us refer to those top rated players as being "hardcore". Do you see where I am going with this? I think we would be better off to drop the social tags when playing a game and focus back on the aspects of the game. It is fine to have an opinion about something, but if we must step on other individuals to confirm our opinion, are we truly interested in an open and earnest debate or are we more interested in having someone tell us that we are correct and that we right? No one likes to be made to feel inferior. I think we owe it to ourselves and our readers to express our opinions, but not at the expense of our credibility. When we resort to posting images of conversations we hold with other players in order to mark them as a "M&S" or "social" player we lose the aspect of attempting to assist players, but rather begin to discriminate against them.

I think it is a very fine line we dance with and I would urge us all to be mindful of this in the future and treat others as we would like to be treated. This is not a "social" opinion or an "elitist" opinion, but rather a simple request from a regular person who loves to read insights of others into a game that I enjoy playing. When we bog down our blogs with posts with nothing but belittlement and embarrassment of others; we are ourselves, beginning to show how small minded we really are.

Rant Day: Rant Free!!

Yeah you saw that title correct! I have had a good week and do not have anything to rant about. I am sure if I tried really hard, I could find something to go on a small rant about, but I have decided to take a rant break and instead just do a little blogging chat! I am slowly creeping up on one year of blogging. Yes, I realize November is still a couple months away, but it none the less had me start to think about the many changes I have gone through with the blog. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what worked and what did not work!

Website

So I got this crazy idea to move the blog to a full fledged website. That was a lot of work and it was a lot of fun, but the downside was that I barely have the time to post a blog here and there, much less manage an entire website for the blog. If I did not have the MAS website, forums, two blogs, a wife, two dogs, and a son then perhaps I could squeeze that pesky website in. My recommendation here is that if you have the time then having a website up and running is a cool idea; however, if you already have a ton of commitments then you may want to think twice about running a site.

Numbers

I have noticed that a lot of people tend to worry about the number of people who read their blog and also how many hits they have on their site. I honestly do not care. I did put up a hit counter on the site for fun. However, when I switched to the website and then back, I messed up the count and now have no clue where my numbers should be. To some of us in the blogging sphere this could lead to a 911 emergency call, but for me it just led to me laughing at myself. If you are the kind of person who likes tracking all that information then go for it, otherwise it is just some useless data that I never look at anyway.

Blogs To Follow

If you have stayed with me through the last ten months, then you can verify that I am constantly changing the blogs I list. For a while I divided them up by class and subject. Then I switched it and had the unending list. Then I switched and I had only Paladin blogs, but soon grew bored and then added everyone and their questionable brother to the list. I am not back to a slimmer list, although every day I find someone else and add them in. I am really working on keeping the list down. I came to the conclusion that if what the blogs post is not information I find interesting, funny, or some form of usefulness, then it would be better to not list it. Now I do list individuals who may not agree with 100% because I find them to be good thought provoking reading.

Topics

Wow, I am probably the least regular blogger on here in terms of consistently listing blogs. As of late I have had a little more time and redesigned the blog to focus on specific topics and try not to wander away from those topics too often. I find it easier as a writer if I have a predetermined topic rather than one where I just wander all over (like this one).

Knowing When To End

Yeah, for instance I have run out of things that I have found useful when I blog and I am going to now end it rather than force myself to try and think of additonal things!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Alternate Fridays: Braama

So I think I did one post for my "Alternate Fridays" series. Well, I am back and this week I wish to highlight one of my Druid's! This week I want to talk about Braama!




That picture there is a family photo! On the left is my wife's Druid, Moodru! In the middle is the star of this post Braama. To his right is my other Druid, Invincabull. So why in the world do I have two Druids? Well silly, it is because I have two accounts! Okay, it is really because I wanted to do two completely different things with my Druids. Invincabull is going to be feral for tanking and DPS; whereas, Braama has plans to be balanced and restoration, and since Blizzard will not grant my wishes for having four or five specs, then I need to have two Druids!

So let's give some background on Braama. He was one of my characters from my original account and he fell to the wayside like so many others. I eventually sent him to handle my auctions that are being listed for gear. He was one of my "terribull twins"! Yeah, if you know anything about me, I love the Tauren and creating them and naming them like that. Just get use to it because I have a lot of Tauren and there are a lot of fun names for them. So anyway, Braama has earned thousands of gold on the auction houses for me, but there was a part of me that wanted a Moonkin and he fit the bill perfectly. I ran through some heroics and got some heirloom gear for him and started out the process of leveling.

I have actually really been enjoying running around with him. I made it to 20 in a couple days. I have to admit that heirloom chest and shoulder are a great investment. With rested experience I should have him mooving along at a good speed. My biggest problem with alts is that I do get burned out with them. I have ran the level 1 - 70 content so much that it is like a trip to the dentist, I just dread it. However, the versatility of the Druid class has made it a lot more fun. By the time you get use to one form, you get another form. This does switch up the options of how you play and that does make it more interesting. For instance, when I was level 16 I attempted to take down Knucklehead (lol the abomination in the ghostlands). I was not successful, but I did manage to take him down to around 50% health. I felt pretty good about that and might have been able to take him down lower had I switched more and placed additional HoTs on myself.

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the Druid class and I am looking forward to joining the ranks of the elite "lazer chickens" of our server! Well, check back next friday and perhaps it will be an update on Braama or a new alt. You just never know what you will get with this series!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Through The Eyes Of The Leader: Motivation

So I wanted to look at motivation and how do we accomplish that when in positions of leadership? First let's take a look at some of the things I have done in the past. At one job, I was in a position where I would be required to monitor incoming phone call interactions. My job was to review the calls, score the associates who were answering the call, provide them with feedback on how better to perform the job, and then motivate them to continue doing a solid job. Now I was fine with the first three steps, but I really had issues with the motivation part of it. I believe that we are motivated to work for the pay check. In this position they wanted me to hand out small novelty items such as a little head that went on the end of a pen that you could squeeze and it's eyes would come oozing out. Honestly, is that going to motivate any adult to do a good job? Another tool that they had me wanting to utilize was to offer candy for a job well done. So treat the employees like a dog and give them a snack when they perform well? I realize that some of the issues I had were personal. I am not easily motivated by the "you did good" type of rewards that many organizations think are wonderful. I finally decided that I would take a different route and get items that were useful to the employees like pencil/pen holders that had motivational words on it. On top of this, I tried to always let them know where they stood and not waste their time with a bunch of BS, but rather just be honest with them. If they did a good job then I would let them know. Likewise, if they did a bad job I would try to explain to them where they could improve. I learned that what the people wanted was someone who was real and not some corporate "Bozo the Clown" running around honking horns and waving banners. Was I successful at the job? I would like to think that I helped some people along the way, but it was one of those things you never know about.

Now let's look at WoW and ask how do we motivate individuals? To be honest I have not yet found a way to do this successfully. I am constantly refining how I interact with people and what I say, but to this date I have not found one way to keep people happy and motivated. It seems like so long ago when the guild decided they wanted to raid, yet so few have actually taken the appropriate steps for that. I think to some the idea of raiding sounded absolutely like the best thing in the world, but then when they realized the work that would be involved they decided perhaps it was not worth it. While we have made solid progress as a guild, we still are not running on all cylinders. Unlike the real world, players are not motivated by pay to put work into helping better a guild so they freely leave and do not worry about the impact it will have on a guild. Oh and if you are wondering, no one has left the guild recently. So the question then is what makes people want to stay in a guild?

The honest and quick answer use to be the loot available to a mid-size casual raiding guild compared to a larger established raiding guild. However, with the advent of ToC (both regular and heroic) this argument does not hold true. So what then is the lure of not staying with a guild? In my opinion it is the basic desire to get the end results the easiest way possible. The motivation that is driving 90% of the population is laziness. I have come to this conclusion after having tried everything else possible to motivate and retain players. I think it is a basic desire of most people to get to the end of whatever it is that they are doing by taking the easiest and shortest route. Sure, folks will have the hard mode achievements to point at and show the "work" they put into something, but how difficult is it to join a raiding guild that will carry you through content? The folks in the raiding guilds will say it is very difficult and try to point that folks who are not in this type of guild are jealous. That is a "smoke and mirror" answer. The truth is that I have seen it countless time within my own guild and in other guilds, where a player who is in no way ready to run upper tier content get accepted into a raiding guild and be carried through the content. A week later you see them standing there in their flashy gear, but when they speak you still see they are clueless about the game.

We can see this all the way back the days of the NES and Super Mario Brothers. We all remember the cheat to make it to the final level and be able to skip all the stuff in between? How about the people who play first person shooters and like to get the "Godmode" cheats? You know the one that let's you kill everyone and not get injured? Look at the modern sportsman and their need for performance enhancing drugs. Why do they take them? It is because they want to get to the top/end/championship the quickest way possible. As humans it is an innate desire to be the best, regardless of what we say. We may not want to be the best raider, but perhaps we desire to be the best PVP player. Perhaps your desire is to own the auction house. Maybe you want to be the best trade channel troll? At the end of the day, the motivation of people is to be the best and unfortunately when combined with the laziness of modern society it creates a constant fluctation of members in guilds.

The trick here is to realize this and then work with what you have. We started out back in the day with around 3 - 4 really solid players who knew what they were doing and had the desire to get there. We now have around 7 - 9 players who are solid and knowledgable. In the end, if you really want to get to the top there are short cuts, but there is also the long way there. I take great pride in where we have come from and where we are at. We have never tried to recruit from another guild, nor have we spammed a trade channel begging for recruits. We have grown because, as a group, we have worked and hung in there. We are not the number one guild on the server, but any one of our core raiding group could easily join a top raiding guild on the server and that is the satisfaction and pride I take in what we have accomplished.

I encourage you other guild leaders and officers out there who may have doubts or not understand exactly what you are doing to step back and realize that you are not doing anything wrong. If you want to be successful then you just simply need to take it one day at a time and understand that people will come and go but your job is to find the diamonds in the rough and hang in there with them. Some of those may even leave, but you will build a core group and if you hang in there long enough, you will see the rewards of your work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Paladin's Thoughts On All Things Holy: PVP

So for today's topic I want to discuss PVP and how I fit in with it. Now if you have read this blog for a while, then you know I love me some PVP. I do not care if it is me against one or twenty. You best believe that I will charge straight in and make someone pay for their thinking that a light wielding Paladin alone is not something to be afraid of! My delimna of late is exactly where do I want to go with PVP. I have done a lot of thinking about it and recently removed my holy PVP build in favor of keeping my holy PVE and ret PVE builds.

My problem is that I love PVP but the guild needs my heals! Sure I could half ass a build that would have some PVP merrits and some PVE merrits, but I also hate half assing things as well. As of late the group I have been running raid content with has been asking me to go as ret. When I first started I was embarrased by numbers. After putting in some practice on some dummies and looking over some numbers and fellow bloggers and watching a coupld rets in action I am proud to say that I have ran all content as both holy and ret. It is also very nice to have the luxary of switching between the two. Now if the guild was clearing content on our own, I would be happy to swtich my duel spec away from ret and just be a duel holy Paladin; however, we are not running content on our own and I have to be able to be flexible for other groups or else run in the PuG circuit.

Now I could go and run the arena, battlegrounds, and world PVP in my standard holy or ret build, but there are some key abilities that I do not have in both builds that hurt you so much in competitive PVP. Those minor things like reduction to stuns and drains are the key to winning and losing. Being able to go far enough into the prot tree to get bonuses for armor and additional reduction abilities for other stats are all key. Does not taking these destroy PVP for me? Actually it does not, but it does make the difference between being good enough to get a rating that will earn you better gear and being just another honor farmer. Now sure I can run Vault and down those bosses and upgrade my gear that way, which I did last night and successfully downed the new raid boss. However, it does not feel as rewarding to me to earn my gear through PVE that I intend to use for PVP.

I view PVP as being on par with preparing and practicing for challenging raid content. After every match I break down what went wrong or what went well and how could I improve upon that? I spend hours looking over talent builds and studying and researching anything PVP related that can be found on the WoW forums and other sites and blogs. As much preparation as I put in for a raid, I will definitely put in for PVP. So in the light of that, is it fair to knowingly underpeform? In the end I have to way my personal desires against that of the guild. Unless Blizzard decides to increase the number of specs that we are allowed to have, I will constantly be paying 50 gold to spec between holy PVP, holy PVE, ret PVP, and ret PVE. Thank God that we have enough tanks in the guild or else I would paying gold for that too.

I am amazed sometimes at people who complain about the duel spec and how it favors certain classes over others. In reality it does not favor anyone. Every class has an optimal build for PVP and PVE. On most levels they have multiple builds for each, but I suppose that could be a topic for a different day. In the end, my love of PVP is costly and not just in gold, but also in time. There are days where I wish I had the mentality of hating PVP and trying to avoid it, but I cannot. I was raised, so to say, in the fire and that is where I love cutting my teeth. I know this was not the typical post for this particular series but being a holy Paladin has multi levels to it and multi challenges and I think it is important to point out that a holy PVE Paladin is at a huge disadvantage compared to one who is spec'd for PVP and geared for it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Changes

Hey all, two posts in one day. That is close to a record for me! At any rate, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am making changes on the blog site and eventually over on the website as well. So if you see something that is different, it was done on purpose. Along with the change to some of the layout, another aspect of the blog I decided to change is the list of other bloggers. That thing got so crazy out of control! So I have removed it and will work on adding it back in as time goes on. I also am adding some new blogs to the list and removing a lot of older blogs that are not as active (I know I don't have to talk there, but this is my blog so.....nah nah nah nah).

I also wanted to point everyone at a great blog I came across the other day at work. If you are looking for some good information on add-ons (Edy), then check out Tank for the Light! There is some good posts there and a great list of add-ons. I highly recommend this blogger, he is definitely a well kept secret, or at least he was from me anyway.

Monday Morning Wrap Up: Tuesday Edition!

Alright, so I know this is Tuesday and that means raid reviews! Well, unfortunately with the end of summer and the return of school and those last few precious days of vacation, we in MAS have not been raiding. I hope to turn it around soon, but the members online have been slim and there has been a lot of changes in my scheduling that are taking place. Hopefully things will calm down and we will be able to resume a raid schedule soon. So in lieu of not talking raid, I want to talk about what has been going on with me and WoW!

So the first thing that comes to mind is this past weekend we celebrated our girl Ed's birthday in true MAS style! We first got a bunch of Druids together and took to dancing like crazed bears!



Yeah things got a little wild there huh? It didn't stop there. I brought both my Druids to the party! A rare occasion for Braama and Invincabull to party together, but "Mr Assless Chaps" Ruhtra himself showed up and busted out the Direbrew Keg and everyone involved became drunk as drunk could be. Then someone had a great idea to throw down a Paper Zepplin. Okay it was more like a few hundred Paper Zepplins! Yeah madness insued as people stopped and stared at the drunk Blood Elves running in circles being chased by Paper Zepplins. I actually recorded some of the footage and then out of boredom created this:


Watch more videos of WoW

So yeah, that was pretty much my weekend! Pretty exciting stuff huh? As far as character development and all that other stuff......not so much going on there. Maybe one day I will level another toon, but right now I am just kicking back and enjoying the little things of WoW before they all go boom!