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 :)


The RealID afterparty

Oh yeh, too late for the party, am I not? I am. Although I was longing for a “proper” topic to blog about for past two and something months, I had to pass up the opportunity to blog about RealID (on forums anyways) when it came out. First because I knew the blogosphere would explode over that and second because I was rather sure the thing won’t ever go live (seeing the number of negative comments it raised within first hour of being posted). So yeah, what I am going to blog about then you might as.

Well, RealID as I see it. Yes, even my QQ about the forum feature. But hey, all things in good time. Let’s start with how the RealID worked for me.

The very first moment I heard about RealID I was quite frankly pissed. Not because people would get to know my name and whatnot, but because I was not given the choice whether or not I want to take part in this whole RealID business. Yeah, I am crazy like that. The first note about RealID business rather passed around me, as only Blizzard game I play is World of Warcraft and all people I knew in there (that I want to talk to) I already have in various IMs or mail adress books to keep in touch. So I didn’t see much in that, really. When the first wave of RealID integration came out, I was disliking the idea you have to share your private information with people, although your friends, just to be able to talk to them. Then again, after an evening spent clicking in and out of game window to reply in my Trillian chat windows, I figured that I might as well just RealIDfriend those people and talk in game. We actually already knew our names so there was nothing to keep us from realIDing each other.

After the first hour I spent bitching over the RealID for lack of privacy, I already got 4 RealID friends, some of those I haven’t spoken for few months and we were happily chatting like never before. A lesson learned for me. RealID might not be so evil tool as I thought.

But then, out of nowhere, the post about RealID use on forums came. And that was strike one for Blizzard regarding Cataclysm. I was seriously considering walking away from this game if they would let it go live. Not because I was too afraid about my names going public on forums (I don’t post on them anyways, neither am I on FBI most wanted list) but because of how far was it pushing the boundaries of the mutual trust between me and Blizzard. What would be coming next? Character named after our real names with some sort of _lock or _shaman suffix?

And it goes deeper than that. I must confess – I am real Facebook hater. I mean, it would be great place to hang around, if only there were no other people. I hate how the whole service becomes invasive in the sneaky way and yes, you can get rid of all the ads, invites, announcements and whatnot, but only if you actually spend great deal of time configuring that shit so you are hundertperzent sure you don’t miss on important (interesting) info from people you actually do care about and don’t have them in friends just to feel loved by many. Here comes my next concern – busting real names out on forums or anywhere will inevitably lead to getting flooded by invites and shit on these social services, RealID will (unfortunately) sooner or later lead to Facebook integration and that my friends will be the day I quit World of Warcraft.

Why? Because I can see my Facebook wall getting spammed by World of Warcraft messages, looted this item, looted that item, picked this herb and died there. I am pretty sure I could turn those announcements off somehwere on Facebook – but I don’t want to bother with that and I do believe I should have the choice whether or not I want them to be shared with Facebook first. Which obviously, is not the way it would be with Blizzard (imma doomsayer, k?).  Now don’t get me wrong – I am not ashamed about playing World of Warcraft. Most of my friends and my family know about that and they somewhat respect that. They know I am not going out on our raid nights but I am happy to get shitfaced any other night with them. The best of those actually learned how to schedule the “get together time” around my raiding hours and they respect my hobby – kudos for that. Then again – it’s not a thing I’d be extremely proud of anyways and I don’t see the slightest reason why it should pollute my Facebook either.

But back to RealID topic. As I said or didn’t say, I was enraged about the RealID on forums change. While I appreciated the effort to make forums troll-less, I was quite sure this is wrong way to go. Yes, it could quite possibly lead to lowering the number of trolling on the forums in the short run – but the price of upset community seemed too high to pay for that.

And yes, I said short run. It wouldn’t help against trolling at all after the trolls got themselves at least small balls to actually post under their real name because you know what – you can google only this much information and if trolling is what you want to do most in your free time, you will actually prepare your mailboxes and social networking site accounts for the expected negative feedback and you are happy to troll on. Pretty much what this episode of Ctrl+Alt+Del illustrates.

Anyways, enough was said about the pros and cons of RealID all over the blogosphere and well quite frankly everyone said more or less the same things, so I won’t be repeating them again. My concerns about RealID were expressed quite clearly above I think.

What I want to say to the whole “RealID on Forums” topic and issue is that I think Blizzard absolutely failed to handle the situation they caused in any respectful manner. I heard a lot of people were banned just because they voiced their opinions against RealID in that heated discussion and some of them were people who wouldn’t say a nasty word even if you held a gun against their head. I got very much amused by the ban reasoning of one of my officers:

Well…I’m not sure quite what it was I got banned for. The thing says ‘vulgar language’, but I cant actually remember using any…I disagreed with Blizzard a few of times in the RealID thread (the sticky one), which is enough for a ban in itself these days, and at one stage I insinuated that Wryxian might be lacking somewhat in the trouser department, but that thread has been deleted it seems.

Seems they are just banning anyone and everyone that has a negative opinion about RealID.

And no, I don’t uphold that as the absolute truth and knowing him the situation although in civilized disguise was probably far from friendly banter. However the (anecdotal) reports from all over really suggest that Blizzard was swinging the banhammer left and right in order to suppress any opposition that did dare to speak up.

And after causing the biggest riots in the whole World of Warcraft history (admit it, the “3.1 retadin fix drama” or both “epics for casuals for badges only” do not come even close to this) they come up with this (quoting just first and last paragraph):

Hello everyone,

I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

In closing, I want to point out that our connection with our community has always been and will always be extremely important to us. We strongly believe that Every Voice Matters, ( http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html ) and we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so passionately about our games. We will always appreciate the feedback and support of our players, which has been a key to Blizzard’s success from the beginning.

I can’t help myself, but those two paragraphs just don’t really click together all too well. For me at least. I mean, they cause shi-storm on the forums, ban everyone left and right and then grace us with the note that they decided (after internal discussions) that RealID will not be required. It will not be required. Rejoice. I just don’t know really. The whole thing could be summed up quite easily – Blizzard came with well-intended yet absolutely misjudged plan to make forums better place. A plan that was destined to fail from the very beginning given the community of World of Warcraft. They get beaten to death with feedback; an elephant dancing in porcelain store would cause less harm than their efforts to contain the situation and they are unable to come up with an apology (for the lack of better word) or just admit upfront that they meant well, but didn’t really choose the best way to do it. No. We are graced by their highness to actually discuss (what was there to discuss with such negative feedback anyways???) and then we may be happy they decided to lift it.  A really strong and bonding experience for the community, especially with other Cataclysm changes around. Feels very welcoming to participate in discussion.

TL;DR version – RealID seems like a very cool feature. Trying to hunt down trolls on forums is great idea as well, but needs different solution. And Blizzard should man up with admitting huge fuck-ups like this.

In other news, I discovered that leading a guild in Cataclysm is harder than ever before; I discovered I do love PvP in Warhammer online on my Shaman (more on that later) and that after causing troubles in PlusHeal discussion about first Shaman talent drafts I absolutely hate the shi-thing Blizzard came up for restos for Cataclysm. Too much bloated in my opinion. More on that later too.


This just in – raiding in Cataclysm

Almost late to the party! Yesterday evening the so far most nerd-raeg causing news got published. At first the whole quote was copied over, but the post got a bit lengthy so I picked out just the most important stuff, the full blue can be found here.

Cataclysm Raid Progression Refinements

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards

  • 10 and 25-player (Normal difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
  • 10 and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

Well, I was expecting many things come Cataclysm, but definitely not this. And I am not sure I like it. Strange coming from a strict 10M raider who is most of the time pissed about the current 10 vs. 25 situation, isn’t it? Because at first glance, this right here looks not only like fix, but like a complete paradigm shift. The question for Cataclysm now stands, why would any raid 25 men anymore? But before I answer that one, let’s look quickly on other interesting points.

One ring to drop from all, one raid to loot them

Okay. So there we go, we will be getting the very same loot from 10 and 25 modes (and hardmodes respectively). The loot tables are supposed to be identical both to contents and item level. I must say, I love the change. The worst thing about strict 10M raiding as it is now is the lack of gear options, or better to say, the sight at 25M raiders and their options. And I am not talking about wearing less powerful gear. I am talking about the simple fact that we lack some gear options from current tier, that we lack choices (the all-xpac caster trinket shortage in 10M comes to mind). I am glad this is being adressed and that both 10 and 25 raiders will have the same options – it should as well ease the BiS discussions and logistics across the board. And they have the same ilevel, which should make raid progression smoother, as there will be only two versions of items (2 ilevels if you please) so there won’t be any more unbalanced advancement to higher tier of raiding, which I believe can only help in balancing the encounters even better, not to make them trivial. Want an example? ICC10.

There were essentially two gear groups entering ICC10 – the 25M (and hardmode) geared and those 10M strict geared. Let’s leave the mixed be for now. So, for strict 10M guild, many of the encounters were hard. Actually as hard as progress bosses should be and besides for exceptions, the difficulty remained raising with attained gear (Sindragosa / LK with i251). However, with i251 in most slots and some crafted / badge i264s most of the content is somewhere on the easy-trivial scale (talking pre-buff here). And for the hardcore 25M raiders, it was just plow through instance to get some practice ground right from the start, which only springs discussion about “lol ezmode content”. The long phased gating did not help either. Having only two ilevels dropping, you can make these transitions better. You can easily look at stats and tell what % of raiding community has ilevel A, and how many do have ilevel A+ and scale fights accordingly.

As much as this choice sounds interesting, it’s really only going half the way. So far it would mean that 25M raiders have double gearing up options which in the end again diminishes the encounters very quickly – quicker gearing up means early access to hardmodes and better gear and completing the raiding tier, hungering for new content. Such thing as well naturally makes the lower level  a “lolcontent”. Then again, if both normal and hard modes are built around the same item level and thus qualitative difficulty, it’s all fine and dandy. However, Blizzard too the one step forward and said that raids will share lockout in both sizes. What does that mean? You can raid only either 10 or 25 version of the instance per reset. Hardmodes will be done in the same way as in Icecrown Citadel. This my friends is a way to proper 10 and 25 raiding differentiation and can finally mean neither of those is frowned upon. Now it will be your choice of preffered content and you will not have that many opportunities for direct comparison. And I believe this will even out the 10 and 25 raiding numbers. However, one big question comes to mind…

Why would anyone raid 25M in Cataclysm?

For for the very same reason they do it now. For the very same reason that always springs in any 10v25 discussion. For epeen. Epeen that you managed to get more people work together, that you handled the logistics and that you managed to get 25 people online. For pure love and preference of crowded content. For the same reason stricters raid 10 now. Because we do love the format, nothing else.

Sure, there will be decline in numbers as loot centered players will obviously move to 10M guilds, getting gear even “easier” way than ever before (yes I do agree logistics around 25M are way more demanding) and there can be expected quite some decline in numbers as people will create small groups of friends to raid content together, especially if this “content difficulty likeness” will mean that the rewards from the guild leveling system will stay somehow the same between 10 and 25 guilds (so far the concern was that 25 guilds would be able to earn points at double speed for PvE content compared to stricters). But I definitely do not see that as a bad thing. More like balancing of numbers. Which is  a good thing. None of the big leet guilds (sorry guys) will disband over this to create small teams. Those guys do it for the epicness of the content and epicness of the raid size. And those things will stay.

To calm down the waters, 25M are supposed to drop more items per boss kill as well as more badges, to compensate for the logistics issues. So it’s not really that same and it still should allow you to gear up at higher speed than 10M guilds, which is only fair in my books.

New “badge” system in Cataclysm

Seems badges are getting the boot in Cataclysm and probably will go to Totem Heaven where they will rejoice with Fred and Tremor Totem. The new system is supposed to be points based, but is pretty much the same as it is now. Just points and not badges. Big deal.

Hero Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)

Valor Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

So to compare it to current situation – any kill that is below current progression tier will yield Hero points, current raid tier and daily / weekly will yield Valor points the first time you do it that day / week. The most interesting change comes with the conversion though:

When a new tier of raiding gear is released, your higher tier of points will be converted into the lower tier. For instance, if a new tier of raid gear is released, your Valor points will be converted to Hero points. Of course that means with these new releases you’ll always begin without any of the higher tier of points, and thus be unable to stockpile them.

You know what this change essentially means? That you won’t have to spend 10 minutes every time you want to buy gems just by trading badges. Hooray!!! Nothing else. Don’t whine, it’s the same system as it is now. And there is one more change to come in Cataclysm that seems very appealing to people short on time:

To explain the reasoning for the weekly cap on points for the higher tiers, this is to provide flexibility in how players choose to earn the points without feeling like they have to do all of the content as often as it is available. If your Valor income from raiding is sufficient, you may not feel the need to run Dungeon Finder every night, or perhaps even at all.

I am not sure about the cap in reality and how it plays out, but I really like the idea of not having to log on every day for daily just to not fall behind on gear progression.

What gives?

I must say I like the concept and for me it is really a good step forward. I understand 25M raiders might be and will be concerned, but I believe this is a change for good things and I am very eager to see how it is when it comes live.


Mages to get Heroism and other lame jokes…

This Sunday was lovely Sunday. I spent a lot time in bed, playing WoW and had a great lunch. I even opened the blinds to let the sunshine in. Yep, it was that great day. My cats were trying to prevent me from any work by lying down across my keyboard, mouse, hands, laptop or whatever they thought may cause me most inconvenience at the time or were sitting there meowing at me loudly to be let out.

Late at night I opened up MMO-Champion and started scanning through class changes for Cataclysm, to get at least rough idea what will others get and how can gameplay change (pretty much trying to get some vague idea of it, as most things will change). So I went quickly through Hunters, nothing new there the Mana -> Focus change was long time coming, hunters will get some pet at level 1 (seriously can the class be any more nerfed for leveling?) and they will be able to swap pet without going to town (at last!).

Next up were druids. I was quite interested in those not just because I have one, but because me and my dear druid friend talked it on Friday and he was concerned that druids might get either only dps or tank tree (see Death Knights) and it turned out that I was right. I can’t imagine how pissed all the Trees were, seeing that not only…

Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.

.. Haha! Sorry. But as well…

Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different.

So instead of having talent  just to be on par with other healers, they will get cooldown to empower their healing? A talented cooldown? And will that cooldown put them on par with other healers (think rogue stealth) or just boost their healing for a while? Mind boggling. But fear nothing dear trees, the talent of epicness and awesomeness is coming…

Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth.

I really hope that’s new Restoration sub-51-pointer for 5 talent points (the one you need to max out to reach juicy 51 pointer)  and that only thing it would do is sprout those flowers. 1/5 is daffodils, 5/5 is rose garden. Seriously, this would be even more hilarious (read retarded) than Life Grip. Sorry, Leap of Faith. Oh and don’t forget boomkins shitting mushrooms. Seriously, what the fuck. I understand the mechanic, but mushroom??? Come on.

But hey, amusement of the day is behind us. And then, the F-bomb landed. Still amused by the poor resto druids, picturing all possible scenarios and really looking forward to Kae’s comics tactics involving sprouting and I start reading mage changes. Mages will get Herolust* spell. Fine carryin o- waitwha’?

Time Warp: Grants a passive Haste effect much like Bloodlust or Heroism to party or raid members. It also temporarily increases the mage’s own movement speed. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.

*cue jaw hitting floor so hard it scratched floor tiles*

WHAT

THE

FUCK

Really, Blizzard? Really? After confirming yet again that hybrids will do less damage than pures, absolutely ignoring the fact that some hybrids play only dps spec. Correct me if I am way off the mark here, but in ideal circumstances considering your players are on the same level of skill, do mages not beat elementals? And I believe that enhancement shamans are even lower with their raid utility pretty much gone since 3.3.3? The only tricks those two specs had to push for worthy raid spots was Herolust and totems. Totems that are getting obsolete and need some rework in mechanics (longer duration? Maybe. Bigger range? Definitely). And they give Herolust to the prototype of dps. If we have to share the love, please be it with another hybrid. And they will even move faster. Bitches.

As a raid leader…

I honestly appreciate the spreading of Herolust. I am unlikely to ever see the real benefit as I lead raids as a Shaman, so Herolust is present at all times, as well as having another Elemental Shaman in guild to actually cover for me. So yeah, it was needed change. But damn it, why mages? I am still concerned a bit for dps Shamans loosing their spots, in majority “bring the player not the class” works quite fine – if Cataclysm keeps that up we are fine.

Lame jokes are lame.

Especially in such dull community. On Sunday, Chayah brought a topic into SAN chat – and it was referring to WoW.com. Namely one of the latest articles they posted, about merging Warlock and Mage classes. Now, don’t get me wrong, on 1st of April I would applaud for such prank. But as a serious column on community hub that tries to act like one of the biggest and best resource sites around? That’s pretty lame. Have you noticed what mess did it cause in /2? All those people that rely on WoW.com as the only source of their information were absolutely nuts.  Sorry, but that is not what I’d expect from paid editors on such big site. Or at least not with all the well faked blue posts and such. If you don’t have anything important to write about, don’t write at all. It’s supposed to be class and class mechanics column, not a social chatter column in which content does not matter. Just my 2 cents.

Effing 1019 haste from gear!

That’s right kids, aunt Rahana got some new shinies yesterday, finally pushing herself over 1000 haste from gear.  She can hang out with the cool kids now.

[*] Yeah I am tired of typing Heroism/Bloodlust, so it’s Herolust from now on.


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