Category Archives: Opinions

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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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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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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I am too old for this…

Yes I am. Current raiding scene is not for me as it seems. I just don’t understand it anymore. I still live in the (don’t know how you’d call it) mindset that when you join a raiding guild with set raiding days and times, you do it to raid. You know, because you are interested in raiding. As in the raiding, really. Not purples or whatever. But the pure fun you have with your guildies when you manage to down and encounter. As well, whenever I was joining a guild, I made myself pretty sure I can match attendance expectations before I even applied. And by match I mean not make sure I can meet the lowest expectations, but to be actually able to attend all raids (barring vacations and unexpected events / emergencies). I came to pretty much every raid I signed up for; can think of only one case when I made up excuse because I really was in no mood to raid that night, more so get shouted at for good or none reason. But I’ve always been there and always ready to raid.

Why am I writing all this? Because I think I really am too old. Attitude dinosaur, if you will. I see it in my guild – I see few of the people around me who think the same, and then many others who actually don’t care that much. Which in turn hurts and makes the game no fun for those like me. Those who actually worked their schedules around to be on time every day, prepared and ready to rock.

Disregarding the guild you are in, be it hardcore, social, raiding, roleplaying, whatever the guild is really, I am not saying you need to devote your whole life to the guild and do whatever you can just to get along with the rules. Then again, in a guild that raids three nights a week, starting a bit later than usual in order to give its members time to sort out kids and some food after work I don’t see why attendance should be a problem if raiding truly is your hobby. But instead people go skipping raids, not caring about sign ups or making up silly excuses over and over again.

By the way, and this should be stated way earlier I guess, this post is inspired, but not really related to situation my guild is in at this moment. We do have ups, we have downs as any other guild and there is summer. There is ICC that has been released what… 8 months ago and raided all over again and again. And from all the mailing and talking and forumeeering I did lately, it seems this is the usual summer-prexpac blues all over the place. But it’s still a thing I don’t really get and I will quote some friends, officers or raiders of guilds all over the scheme of things.

The stomach to actually progress

For me the thing that has held us back here for quite some time, to a much larger extent than ability: attendance, and the stomach to actually progress raid rather than farm. Consider what happened with LK…we got up to him fairly comfortably really, had what…an hour or two? on him, then went like a month before having another go due to two people quitting and attendance dropping off. Again just after we started hard modes, first few fine, once we get roflstomped by Marrowgar once or twice though suddenly noone wants to raid. And yet again just before X and Y joined, we were seeing a situation where peoples attendance was dropping off during learning Putri, leaving progress on him all over the place. This is what needs to be sorted out, as its really costing us progression. We cancel raids or have to fall back on farm content for a reset far too often, and when we dont we inevitably end up having to learn encounters all over again because half the raid from the last time decide to take the night off. Even when we have something down numerous times – Saurfang and Putri spring to mind – when we end up taking a load of off specs and poorly geared people due to shit sign ups, we are always going to struggle.

“The stomach to actually progress rather than farm” – I wonder where this comes from. You can’t quite frankly blame it on people caring only about their gear as there is better gear in heroic modes. I actually think Blizzard is the one to blame here. Their idea of reworking raiding for both the hardcore and the casual probably looked awesome on the paper. Reality check failed a bit. The current rewards for heroic raiding hardly compensate for the extra effort you have to put in (what effort really, most of the hardmodes felt like properly tuned challenging encounters at the 10-15% buff marker). The World of Warcraft community is spoiled in lazy, in my opinion. Let’s go through the Northrend raiding scheme all over again.

First raids released were Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity. I enjoyed Naxxramas quite a bit as I haven’t raided it back in the day; Obsidian Sanctum was a bit dull till you tried any count of dragons up – that’s when it became very interesting or frustrating encounter. I loved how the 3D mechanics pushed your ability to play your class and your raid awareness to limits. I never liked Malygos, but it was new concept raid that wasn’t all that bad. Besides, we got lured by Ulduar quite early on. With Ulduar the first change came – hardmodes. People loved and hated them, yet another hardcore vs casual war started but truth be told, it was probably the best instance in this expansion. While triggering hardmodes was a bit clumsy and dependant on how your fight goes, this instance had it all. It was long, it had diversity and it concluded story and lore of many quests and your previous actions. There were fun achievments, there were painful hardmodes, all tuned exactly on the edge of fun-insane. This was, in my opinion, the peak of Wrath raiding. After Ulduar, we got Trial of the Crusader; how can they have released such a shitty raid instance after the awesome Ulduar is still beyond me. They made short, no trash, dull looking instance  that even had PvP combat included and presented that to us in the glorious “there you go, whole new raiding tier” fashion; “and it has hardmodes too”. This instance was a bit of fail, especially beasts heroic. I mean really – you kill Anub’arak on normal and then hit the brick wall that heroic beasts were. The biggest problem to Grand Crusader in my opinion were these hardmodes. They didn’t bring anything new. It just did more damage and had insanely more hitpoints. There was not so much required from you raider wise – you just had to push your buttons faster to dish out the required dps / hps, how we longed after new instance. Then, finally, ICC hit us. And it was not as good as we thought. The gating, the difficulty of some encounters was just stupid. And when the community finally got into the hardmode game, the ICC buffs came and numbed it down even more and normal modes became roflstomp content for like, anyone. Do not forget at that stage a soft gear reset happened and everyone was allowed to get raider gear.  In my books, the events after Ulduar was completed truly ruined any sense of proper raiding in Wrath. You can get everything in pug, so why bother. You can get your T10 without too much effort, just sit and wait and that’s the best there is anyways, why bother. And let’s admit it, raiding an instance for 8 months straight does not really add to the novelty and appeal of hardmodes.

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people

We can’t blame it on Blizzard. All Blizzard did was creating not so great atmosphere and community tools that actually allowed people to turn into lazy tards; so at the end of the day, the blame lies on players again. And there isn’t much you can do about it nowadays anyways. You can’t quite possibly kick all the slackers now, as you either won’t have a pool to recruit from over summer and in expectation of new expansion, or you will recruit but will be pushed way back on progression because you will have to teach the fights to new people all over again. This may of course lead to your veteran core getting pissed off over and burning out faster than you though, eventually quitting, leaving you with yet another newbies as replacements.

I presume the tool that caused this was indeed the gear. As said as it is for me to admit, unless there is huge motivator in gear, people don’t give a damn about raiding anymore. It’s not only stats though – it’s the exclusivity; remember how many paladins on your realm had full T6 before 3.0 came? Remember how many of them had Sunwell gear? I remember. We got exactly 3 retribution paladins on our server with T6 or better. I was the worst geared, but still one of them. I was damn proud flashing my golden rimmed shoulders on my dwarf of doom. The pride came from wearing something a bit more rare than the generic epix. Again, T9+T10 killed this. You see nowadays 15 paladins in just Dalaran bank and all look the same; same armor, same weapons; so not only there is no gear quality motivator anymore for most people, there is no real gear side motivator – the looks.

Bringing the fun into raiding again?

why the fuck some people in this guild seem to treat raiding and playing WoW as some kind of punishment that they try to avoid at all costs, and why does their attendance drop off so much when we actually get to something interesting?

This statement I hold as very true nowadays. And I wonder what Cataclysm will do to the current community. “Merging” 10 and 25 loot tables is a step in good direction, however will Blizzard have the balls to push on harder to make the content like, actually challenging? Or will they still go with their politics of “everyone gets to see content” like the did now? And what the hell was wrong with Burning Crusade raiding progression – “everyone gets to see content, those not so hardcore just a patch later”. From the early promises it actually looks like they might go the “hardcore” way, but I am afraid any anti-crowd decision they will want to force through will be taken back in order not to cause civil war and riots.

They already want a purple pixels to be more valuable. The are unifying 10 and 25 raiding so getting tier armor could be a bit harder. They are implementing a bit more complex guild system to make being guilded and progressing new content more important in the grand scheme of things. They seem to be on a good way, in my books at least.

Uff, what a ramble. And I didn’t really get to say what I wanted to say and I forgot was my original point was supposed to be entirely. Who cares, rite?

So, how does your guild handle the summer and pre-cata blues? Are you going strong or cancelling raids? And what you think is the cause?

PS: I am getting devastated a lot in StarCraft II; so if you face yourself with Terran (yes I play only Terran) called Rahana, say hi and play nice. Imma newbie afterall :)


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