Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Reflections of a raid leader… (random musings really)

When Cataclysm and it’s raiding hit us I was absolutely excited in the difficulty setting of the raids. They were exciting and challenging and fresh and all the older players (you know, those who were so disappointed by ToGC and onwards raiding) were excited about it. I guess what we haven’t realized back then (or didn’t want to admit to ourselves) that although we were very much excited, we weren’t the majority of the Warcraft population and even many of those we raided with from the old days weren’t ready and prepared for this step up. And many, many people around were dropping like flies, burning out left and right. Looking back at it and summing it up altogether now, after half a year in Cataclysm it’s time to reflect on things that were and things that might be.

The difficulty

The step up in difficulty the one we sought for so much – although it’s hard to say if Wrath raiding was really any easy, strict 10M hardmode raiding was challenging for the most part and well, PUGing ICC with the big bad buff can’t be really taken seriously. Although it’s exactly this big bad buff raiding that got stuck in most raiders minds as far too easy content and the public cry for more difficult raiding was around here. And the difficulty came and it took most folks by surprise.

The mistake, from how I see it, is that even normal modes in entry gear were far too punishing. Instead of having fights with more clever or simply more mechanics, we got bosses with more deadly mechanics. Nothing wrong about that in essence, stuff just hit harder and had to be healed back. However, while touching the subject of healing, it was very hard transition on most raiding teams due to the new and improved healing system. That alone raised the difficulty some more, pushing it into impossible for many and many guilds. But still, that’s not the problem.

I do think that the true problem lies within the fact that you simply cannot make mistakes to complete encounter (talking raiders with average skill here). One person goes down and it’s a wipe. Moreso, it’s often not even a “okay, let’s see how far we can go before we go again” try, you simply won’t have enough power to get the boss down. I think that having this much difficulty on normal modes, pretty much killed the “casual” and “low progression” raiding (no offence meant nor implied) and in turn effectively killed player market.

Anyways, that’s just random thought to introduce the wide frame this post is trying to fill. A post about second guessing myself.

The evolution of  my Cataclysm raiding

We started Cataclysm with broad smiles on our faces, looking forward to the bright future and expecting things good and better. Then we dipped into the raiding and although the difficulty surprised us at first – that it indeed was as difficult as promised we had a go at it and we were, more or less successful. I would say, we were fairly successful since from the Day 1 of our raiding endeavours, we had so high turnover that we effectively replaced ten to fifteen people, maybe more.

Now, I am not going to complain about that. It’s most likely our fault anyways when it comes to the true essence of the problem, since we were the ones responsible for the recruitment and judging people. We haven’t left more than two or three people to more progressed guilds, all our war casualties simply ceased playing over burning out (or rerolled a new alt without telling). We had to kick two people because they just weren’t good fit. But we rangered on, anyways, trying to do the best with the guild and provide the people with us, those relying on us to guide them through the content and provide them with nice and steady raiding atmosphere. And I take great pride in the fact that since 1st February this year, with all the trouble our roster went through, we cancelled one, ONE raid in total and that was on day when five raiders just had to take break due to various real life stuff.

The core of the force

Even with this huge turnover, we were blessed with collecting great core of players. We have great tank, we had 2 awesome healers (now we have 3) and we had awesome band of dpsers who always strive to do better and improve. I have raiders who put much time into tactics research – our Magmaw heroic tactics thread inflated from 2 pages to 6 since Thursday raid till Sunday evening with people discussing various tweaks, posting tips and whatnot. A true raid leader’s dream. I didn’t even dare to intervene into the discussion, I was just sitting quietly at the back, taking notes and thinking about what they suggested, trying to fit it somehow to the people I raid with and in the end, all it took was a short post by me consolidating the suggested changes and outlining the tactics for Monday. And, there was noticeable improvement on Monday. No, we haven’t get him down since we didn’t really go with the best possible setup, but we got to P2 and practiced the transition few times so well that I have no doubts the worm is going down next reset when our third healer comes back from his exam period.

I have nothing but deep appreciation for the core people we raid with (this is sort of apology to the newbies – I promise I will like you in few months as much, it’s just that we haven’t been together for too long, yet) and the way they handle fights. From people willing to respec for encounters on the fly or willing to respec on encounter progress just to try a different approach, to people who do things I’d want them to do without me saying so – be it popping cooldowns, moving to spots I’d like them to move. I have people that I can rely 100% to do interrupts, gonging and any other ungrateful tasks, all the black work that never gets you the spotlight, but is needed to down bosses as much as high dps, hps or tps. I have people who are very skilled on executing encounters and as I said, I am proud to raid with these people, even though they can drive me up the wall sometimes. For the most part it was great and enjoyable ride, yet…

Second guessing yourself

I’ll say it out loud. We had not-so-good night yesterday. We started on Magmaw again to test some hardmode findings and it worked well, we have done some progress and then people (certain person) started dying to stuff they really shouldn’t be. I took a note, tried to talk to them and point out to them what is wrong, yet the improvement was not entirely coming. Anyways, we called Magmaw halfway through the raid, executed the worm on normal and decided to move on.

Chimaeron was fun moment, since we had no one to be the dps break tank so we had to resort to normal killing – trust me nothing beats raid leader asking over Mumble: “Okay guys, how many tanks we need for normal again? I have absolutely no idea how the normal works anymore.”; he went down easily, not loosing a person because the first tank lasted eternity in P2. Then we moved to Atramedes, switched to hard and happily started executing. We spent hour on him, we had 10 tries on him and we just weren’t able to down him. Atramedes. The easiest hard mode as far as I can say execution wise – or well maybe second easiest after Halfus.

Seriously, all you have to do on the encounter to execute it is to remember that we move to the back on the discs and to the door with the breath. Yet exactly this side distribution tended to be the greatest problem for many people. I had no idea what was going on – we were loosing people to full sound before first airphase, after first airphase, we were loosing people left and right. DPS figures on the meters checked out, I’d say they even exceeded our past kills, tanking was alright (except for few “rotate with us” for a new tank on the encounter). Healing was feeling a little sloppy since I don’t think we were all fully focused – but nothing so severe it would cause the wipefest we had.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it – the awesome people who can execute and dodge shit were making the basic mistakes like kiting the fire through raid, moving like headless chickens, not stacking properly as they should be – even after few prompts to do so. After 10 tries I was past furious, I was simply broken.

I tried asking people to improve and do better, I tried calling stuff out more, nothing seemed to be working. It’s moment like these that make me think I am too old for this game. It’s moments like these that make me reconsider my raiding future and make me always think whether it’s not time to quit. There is nothing worse for a raid leader than feeling helpless. You keep asking yourself – what more can I do? These are people who can do the encounter. These are people who definitely know way better than this. So where is the problem? Is it me? Am I so bad at motivating them they just don’t care? Or is it simply bad night tonight and should I let it go? Is it my problem that I take such thing so seriously, should I just take it easy?

You inevitably start to second guess yourself, your capabilities and your skills. No matter how many kills you lead before, no matter how many bosses you stomped over and thrusted your banner in, you start to second guess.

Anyways – it was probably just bad night, such things happen. I could’ve say some folks had their minds elsewhere, some just weren’t giving a damn at all as it seemed and in the end, I had an headache. I’ll leave it at that.

Meh, re-reading the post, I am not entirely sure what I wanted to say and I definitely didn’t want to sound all whiny and sorry-ass but hey, it’s out and it’s gonna get posted.

Let me ask you few questions to close with – how do you deal with bad raids? How much these raids get to you? And how much they affect your raid leader?


Public outrage

I know I am late to the party, and I don’t really care. Yes, this is supposed to be post about the new premium feature – grouping with your Real ID friends. The single feature that once again disturbed the whole community, half of it threatened to quit over it, many almost declared war to Blizzard Entertainment and/or set themselves to Blizzard HQ with tar and feathers. I must say, it’s not the daily QQ posts across the boards or the threats of “I will quit” I see on daily basis that make me lose faith in World of Warcraft’s community – it’s the crowd reactions to feature like this. But more on that later on, now angry baby face and brief description of the feature…

Let's rage against things that matter. Like sandcastles!

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“RNG” and “bad luck” and my blood pressure…

RNG WHAAAAAAT?

Right. I intended to post about this long time ago, pretty much since I read the post over at Paragon site by Lazei. While I agree with Lazei on all points almost completely, some of the reactions to his post were rather negative and in a “STFU you elitist” manner. So I thought I’ll take on the very same topic from the point of view of casual passionate raider. For those of you, not familiar with the post and not really into reading it, allow me to quote the basic thesis of the post:

I’m going to rant here a bit because every time I see someone mention bad luck (or RNG) it makes me angry. I’m pretty sure most raiders hear “bad luck, couldn’t have done anything about it” multiple times in a single raid and I just want tell you that almost every single player who blames bad luck for wiping is a fucking idiot.I hate when people blame luck and that’s the end of it. Somehow the general attitude seems to be that shit happens and there is nothing you can do about it when the players’ attitudes should be “FUCK! That’s not supposed to happen! How can we survive this? Could this have been prevented?”.

Now, I completely and totally back that statement up. As “my” raiders found out, nothing gets my blood pressure up as much as hearing “bad luck” or “RNG”. Why? I’ll explain soon.

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4.1 from 10M raider and raid leader PoV

Well, the long-awaited patch hit us yesterday. Well, it hit U.S. Us who live in Europe still have to sit and wait while our servers are being patched. I must say, it was like the night before Christmas yesterday (and no I don’t mean I got visited by ghosts of patches past, present and future) – that’s how excited I was about this patch. And not only as your generic resto shaman 3485732 but as well as 10M raider and raid leader. This patch brings (asides from more healer balancing/nerfing/changes) long-time needed tuning of some 10M hardmode encounters and makes them challenging instead of impossible. Yes, we are talking about the high-end encounters like Nefarian, but even for the average Joe raiding guild like ours is the Atramedes change is very welcome, the Bile-o-tron change is great as well as far as lining up cooldowns for offline phases goes in 10M hard and so on.

But, this patch brought a lot of Shaman changes too, so let’s take a close look on those related to restoration talent tree and what could they possibly mean or whether we should be pissed such a change went through in first place.

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Little blog updates (since it’s maintenance time anyways)

Blog related stuffs:

Right, just a quick notes about how the blog itself is going on.

  1. Banner should be in the making (<3 Padrae) and should be up in week or so. It will be hyper-mega-awesome-super-duper cool stuffs (or not if I annoy her over the limit of her kindnes and she will just beat me to death with peg leg – not hers. I think.)
  2. Cataclysm instance guide (the very same walkthrough instance guides that is around for Wrath heroics) is in the making and should be posted over time. Unfortunately the instances are not hard anymore (although the amount of fail pugs I encountered is just stupid really, not getting through first trash pack because CC is overrated is driving me up the wall) so stay tuned for that one.
  3. Blogroll – looking for active 10M and/or resto shaman bloggers out there to expand my Reader horizons as well as possibly share some traffic love. If you know of any good / favourite 10M blogger, be sure to leave me url in comment, I’ll have a look and update the blogroll if I like it. Thank you very much
  4. RSS Feed. So I went to this fabulous site to get this thing called feedburner account just to notice I already have one for over a year. I still have no idea how to put it on the site or why it’s better than the default RSS provided by WP.com, but well – here’s the link.

Shameful promotions:

Dogwatch is recruiting! We are mature guild composed of adult players, many have families and other real life commitments. We aim to provide high-standard raiding at parent friendly times (21:00-00:00 EU server time, Wed-Thu-Mon) and we are currently 1/13. We are looking for Restoration druid as the last spot on the roster, for more guild related information please visit our guildsite.

TotemSpot shaman community hub! In case you missed this awesome hub for shamans of all specs and skill levels, if you miss place to hang around even as alt shaman or regardless of your experience, be sure to drop by. Most shaman bloggers and other helpful people are to be found at that site so be sure to check it out!

PlusHeal healer community site! I presume all your healy types know about this community hub, but just in case – it’s forum by healers for healers. Any class or spec, any trouble from raid/guild leading through boss tactics and gear checks to healer focused recruitment, you can find it all here.


Blueberrry raiding: Poisonous BiS malarky

yay, angry babies are back!

BIS diapers or bust, biatch!

As the title gives away, this by all means won’t be positive post at all. Quite the contrary, it’s supposed to be the rantiest rant that you haven’t seen here for long time (which given that this blog was dead for long time is not surprising, or hard to achieve really). Anyways, back on track – “BiS” aka “Best in slot lists” are lists of maxed out gear. That’s quite simple isn’t it? Yeah, indeed it is. They truly are the best gear composition you can attend running the related content. Now, EJ diehards get your tar and feathers, let me make on this clear – I don’t hate those lists nor do I belittle the people who make them – quite the contrary putting the work into making the list, doing the math, simulating the weightings and all that stuff and the putting it all into forum post (those who ever made any gearlist understand) is hard work and sacrifice. Lists per say are fine and great thing – the perception of the lists is what is flawed and wrong.

But Rah, this is not my BiS item!

As a raider and raid leader, I heard all the varieties of this sentence way too many times and in my books it’s one of the sentences that should never come from anyone who considers themself a raider. See, the trouble with best in slot list is, that it’s not best in slot unless you have all the items. Got it? Let me repeat it.

It’s not BiS unless you have all the items.

All the items.

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BAST: Your favourite race

This weeks Blog Azeroth’s shared topic is one I can relate to and is one of those that sound simple, but when it comes down to it the answer is not.

“What is your favourite race?”

Now, put like this, the question indeed is simple. However once you dig deeper into it, the reasons behind your race selection, the reason behind your alts race choice, it starts complicating. Just thinking about it, even my alts went through this race-changing (or prefference changing) experience from Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm. Why? Fairly simple reason really – I am person willing to try about anything and well… Shamans could now be played by Dwarves. So there, I guess my most favourite race in World of Warcraft would be Dwarves.

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Cataclysm healing: The new age

So. Long before Cataclysm hit us we were being massaged by the constant spam of information about how healing will change come Cataclysm. I believe we all looked forward to it, still unsure about how it will play out in the end, half scared half excited, looking into the future and what it will bring.

Then 4.0 came and we got our new shiny abilities and mechanics, but in old and very, very easy content. Which didn’t mean much and everyone was excited and well, quite optimistic about the times that were supposed to come. There of course were the BETA reports of health being buffed by a lot, whilst remaining at the same per-heal numbers, meaning a lot more work. But that was far ahead, not in the present shiny days of ICC hardmodes and so much mana that we could bottle it and save for rainy days. Which we should’ve done.

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10M guilds and raiding: Part 1 – now and back then…

I am a die hard 10M raider. I was raiding strict 10M in Wrath (for those that don’t know jack about it, it’s raiding 10M only content with 10M only available gear; that back in Wrath meant raid comp issues, gear level issues as well as gear itemization issues – the great lack of 10M trinkets for casters back then is prime example). Back then, we were the underdogs, the often mocked “lolformat” of raiding. We did it because it was challenging as hell (strict LK HM kills pre 4.0 = 3 total) and because we preferred the intimacy of 10M close-knit group. As well, 10M being far more easy to organize and run, it was easier on me as GM and Raid Leader.

As noted elsewhere here, I was pretty excited about the intended raiding size changes for Cataclysm; 10M and 25M sharing same loot and same lockout? Yes please. No more belittling of our efforts and achievements, no more needing to prove ourselves. As well, with the gear and the format being on par between the formats, bigger pool for recruiting players for roster (which was constant struggle in 10M, as well as to remain on various “strict” rankings). This coupled with guild experience and guild perks felt like really the good and proper move towards more FnF style of raiding and actually good step forward in the PvE direction.

With T11 normal cleared and Wyrmus heroic beating the dust, I think I couldn’t be more wrong…

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That’s like your opinion, dude (about Worgen and general Beta musings)

Riiiight. This is the non-spoiler paragraph. You are free to read on without the urge to poke your eyes out with rusty spoon in order to preserve your Cataclysm gameplay virginity. I will tell you when there will be spoilers. You won’t miss that, promise. It will be really, really obvious. Like really obvious. Something like big, capitalized, bolded and underlined, centered and red text saying there will be spoilers. Thinking something like this:

!!! BEWARE OF THE DOG AND SPOILERS. SPOILERS, DUDE!!!

Well okay, not underlined. But that’s how it will look when there are going to be spoilers. Not yet though. We are still in the non-spoiler part. Anyways, I spent some time on beta over the weekend and I am still pretty gutted Shaman trainers refuse to teach Rahana the new Cataclysm spells and I don’t dare pugging any instance without. I mean come on, they rebuild our healing arsenal but don’t issue new weapons. Dull. Anyways (and that’s gonna be one tedious task) I noticed the same on my druid who actually, could train the before-untrainable spells after leveling up. So guess I need to start working and push the blueberry to 81.

Last beta build came up with few great things – you can play Worgen (more on that later). You can’t submit feedback because for some reason that feature is broken (wasn’t me!) – which is kinda stupid for beta tested game; I even found out few bugs and stuff actually worth reporting but I can’t. Meh. The greatest thing so far though is the new game installer/launcher/downloader, that streams game data and downloads them while you play. Sure, getting into Dalaran and waiting a minute till your client actually downloads all textures and you are not in strange shades-of-purple-but-no-texture world, but it’s fast, it allows you to play the game quite early after initial installation file download and, contrary to the current downloader, it doesn’t lag you so much (even if you let just launcher up to download).

Okay. That’s about it. Now I will do something I haven’t done in ages – I will insert a page breaker. That means if you don’t want to read possible spoilers related to Trolls and Worgens, you better not click and read on. If you want to comment, feel free to I will make sure I will put down some harmless picture of swans or something so your eyes don’t ever land on spoiler content. For reading more, click read more. Somewhere down below this text.

SPOILER ALERT. PLEASE CLICK READ MORE AND YANNO, READ MORE ONLY IF YOU ARE SURE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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