Down, but not out.

I know its been close to a month without a peep from me. I kind of feel like a slacker, but not really. Work has been hectic to say the least with various web development projects hitting high points prior to year end. My home life has been busy, but to be honest with both my wife and I working full time and three kids – its ALWAYS busy! Recreational Soccer ended rather abruptly with both Team England and Team Netherlands being knocked out of the playoffs. However, competitive soccer has begun for my daughter, and my oldest son is in full basketball season swing (both of them are really quite good at their respective sports)!

Now, as for WoW world…hmm. That’s, well, its been disappointing. 6 of us server transferred to a 25 man raid guild with the hopes it would be a permanent and stable home for us. We helped two casters finish their legendary staves which felt great. We ended our 25 man group at 2/7 heroic and hit 3/7 heroic after downing Majordomo Heroic in a 10 man group. It was getting a little frustrating with not having enough bodies on some nights and on others people simply derping at various moments. But honestly…its not unexpected, at least not to me. Its the norm. Its what happens in the overwhelming majority of guilds. What happened next however is not expected…

The GM/RL decided to step down. He was done. He and one of the legendary toting dps left to join a 25 man guild on another server who were 6/7 HM. The other legendary wielder left to go to a similarly progressed guild. Another officer left to go play with a different guild on the server – again more progressed than we were. The current GM is not a stable raider due to her home life being complicated with a newborn (I’ve been there…its tough). I just can’t help but feel used here. Like my 5 friends and I were used as fill to attain the gear folks needed to lead them on to bigger and better things.

Now DO NOT get me wrong…I don’t begrudge anyone playing as they see fit within the game. It’s their $15 and they can go where they choose. But, this didn’t taste very good in my mouth. I am torn at staying within this now somewhat sundered guild. Those remaining are indeed trying to put pieces back together. I’ve help build guilds before, even helped raise them from the ashes. Its a hard road to sow, and I am not sure I have it in me. Additionally, there were 4 hunters on the 25 man roster…at least 3 of us are left (not sure on the 4th as of yet). A 10 man raid is not going to carry 3 to be honest, let alone 4 hunters!!!

Should I stay, should I go? I pride myself on playing a hunter since day one and never taking a break from the game. Always raiding, even if its been far more casual than hardcore at times. Hey, I practice what I preach…its all about SURVIVING WoW!!! I just don’t know if I can survive this. Not in the raiding/contributing sense.

I’ve been leveling another hunter (shocking I know) along side my spouse who has opted to play the game. It’s been fun, teaching her and learning quite a few things from her on how new players view the game. Revisiting old content has been great too. I’m just hitting Zangarmarsh which was always a favorite zone from BC. There’s something revitalizing about leveling a new toon without the aid of heirlooms and the large bank account of a main. It’s challenging again in many ways. I like it.

So, I’m a little tired. This has been a draining year of WoW. We’re coming into the holiday season when my play time normally dips. What shall I do? Anyone looking for a Survival Hunter? Am I gun shy now that if I do go somewhere I will find myself in this again…left holding broken pieces because someone else breaks the toy?

I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this. Why do we as players do this to one another?

Why so quiet & New beginnings…

So I ramped up with a number of posts over the last couple months, and now have been fairly quiet. Life had caught up to me a bit. Soccer playoffs are upon us for the next few weeks, Blizzcon is fast approaching (still struggling with going or not), home life has been chaotic to say the least.

In short, I am sorry to those who I have sucked into my swirling vortex of doom. I am sorry to those who expect a good read surrounding the drama within WoW and I haven’t supplied it in good fashion. I am especially sorry to friends and family who I have angered and hurt in various ways with my selfishness and poor judgment.I don’t expect anyone to forget my poor behavior, but I do ask that you forgive me.

So, now that I have eluded to my own personal drama….how about some WoW talk!!!!!

So I and a handful of guild-mates server transferred to Zul’Jin to 25 man raid with Way of the Warrior (Atilanta – Priest, Asripper – DK, Azariel – Mage, Phatkow – Druid, Artemis – Hunter, and I). Third week in…so far so good. I have not been in full attendance for raid the last couple of weeks due to some RL conflicts, but have been on for the majority of raiding time. I had attempted the Rag fight previously a handful of times, but this one was my first kill. Felt good. Plus, our shadow priest Missarie finished off her legendary quest line for Dragonwrath, Tarecogosa’s Rest. Congrats to her and the guild on a great accomplishment for this tier of content.

We are working on heroic modes now. Shannox was fairly straightforward. Ryolith has been a bit of a thorn to this point. I am confident though this week Shannox, Ryo, Alysrazor, and Bael will all go down on HM. I will admit to being pessimistic about Beth HM, but we shall see.

WotW is currently running with 4 hunters. 3 MM and my little old Survival-self. Interestingly enough I am the least geared of the 4 of us, and find my dps numbers hold their own. Are they usually ahead of me, yes; but not as far ahead as one might expect. Additionally, some fights I am ahead of some or all of them – again just confirming my experience-based opinion that it’s really about an individual’s comfort with their spec and the forgivingness of specific fight mechanics. So far, a lot of fun! There are some personality conflicts in the group, but nothing earth shattering. I agree with most of how Theryc (GM/RL) runs the guild as well as the raids (though he allows non combat pets out during raid…dude I so hate that! J). For my part, I like the group. Strong leadership is a great foundation, a core of players focused on a singular goal helps solidify that foundation.

So what should one do when finding yourself in a new guild like this? Well, Borsk over at borsked.com has a great piece about this very subject. I will focus on one particular piece he mentions…”Shut your damn mouth!” In part, one primary reason we moved to WotW was the great conversations and dungeon runs I had with a number of the players there. We were all open and free with our conversations and there were no guarded or secretive portions of our personalities. Simply stated, “What you see is what you get”. So, for my part, they saw my sarcastic, snarky, self-deprecating self and they all liked it. I saw some of the same with certain people, in addition to the serious “Let’s get this done” side of others. A great combo to make me feel it would be a good raiding home. We often speak about our guilds as family, or extended family. Some times this is true, but that’s usually after a long honeymoon of in game time spent with one another. I personally am not there yet with WotW and no one ever should be when only a few weeks into a new guild. So my snark and sarcasm toned WAYYYY down and made way for something entirely different. Quiet. Silence. Guarded. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to touch a raw nerve with anyone in particular, so I try to be diplomatic and politically correct. Sometimes the sarcasm comes through, but most times its only something small and fairly non-descript. I’ve been whispered numerous times by new and old guild-mates asking, “Why are you so quiet? Is everything ok?” Well aside from my personal life being very strenuous and trying to sort that out, my in game life has been turned upside-down. I’m on a new server, with a new guild, with new people who I don’t truly know. It’s a good time to be QUIET. Understand the lay of the land, who is who, what people’s likes and dislikes are. Being quiet is prudent.

So for those who like the joking and verbose Q…just be patient. I’ll get around to pissing people off soon enough J. To others, take a hint here…lay low. Listen. Listen. Listen. Get to know who you are playing alongside before you start to reveal all of your less than admirable traits and qualities. Once folks have learned to love you better side, that’s when they may be more apt to accept your worse side.

Making the Transition: Casual to Progression

Or vice versa!

I’ve been around.  I’ve done stuff.  I’ve seen… things.  I’ve raided everything from Karazhan to Firelands.  I’ve raided casually when I felt like it, to hardcore “berated if you don’t show up” heroic raiding.

My experiences are likely unique based on the people I’ve raided with, but the lessons learned are pretty universal.  First, let’s talk about moving from a casual environment to more progression oriented.

Casual to Progression

The biggest difference to expect between a casual raid to that of a progression raid is you can expect that your performance (whether it be healing, dps, threat production as a tank, cool-down use, consumables use, etc.) to be under the microscope.  Mediocre playing likely won’t fly.  You can also expect to be talked to regarding ways you can improve your performance — and not everyone is able to deliver feedback in a constructive way.  It’s important that you have a thick skin if you really want to get into progression raiding.

Here’s some good habits to get into for progression raiding:

  • Optimize your spec, glyphs, gems and reforging.  Everyone typically can use some help in this regard.  Hunters are fortunate and get Female Dwarf‘s optimizer.  Use it. Love it.
  • Read and watch lots of strategies. I prepare myself by watching Tankspot and Learn2Raid‘s videos. Know the fights before walking into them.
  • Spend time with a target dummy.  If you’re DPS, time yourself to 10-million damage on the Raider’s Target dummy.  Most fights in Firelands won’t require more than 6-7 million damage per player, so make sure you’re getting there as quickly as possible.
  • Learn how to read raid logs.  It’s an art, and can be super confusing. World of Logs is my choice.
  • Know your class, and your roles inside a raid.  If you’re a hunter, there’s tons of resources out there to make you a better player. You can find most all of them linked somewhere off of WoW Hunter’s Hall.
  • Always carry your own food.  Feasts might not always be available.
  • Always carry your own flasks.  Cauldrons might be on short supply, or you might miss it.  Best to be prepared.
  • Carry potions.  Lots of them. If you’re DPS, pre-pot before fights it would make sense. (which is an entirely different discussion for a later time)
  • When in doubt, ask questions.  It’s better to ask and prevent a mistake than make one and get reprimanded later.

Progression to Casual

So you’ve figured out that progression raiding is no longer for you.  That may be because you’re not into raiding several nights a week, or if real life has caught up and is demanding more of your time.  Whatever the reason, you’re likely in for a culture shock.  Making the transition to casual from progression is easier from a preparation standpoint, but from my experience, difficult for the mindset shift.  You already have the good habits I’ve mentioned above, but you have to prepare yourself to wipe several times on something easy, expect to hear the fights explained several times, and if you’re recently from a progression standpoint, feel like you’re carrying the raid on your shoulders. (Not really, but sometimes it can feel that way)  Gear will be slower to get, but hopefully you have more fun getting there — after all, the pressure’s off.  Enjoy it.

Ideally everyone finds a raiding team that fits their play style – there’s lots of options out there. It could even be found in some hardcore progression guild’s alt-run on the weekends.  I ended up doing that for awhile, and enjoyed it.  There’s a raid team out there for everyone, it’s just a matter of taking the time to find the right one.

Updates from the Molten Front…

So we added a new tank to our Raid roster. I guess he worked out well since we had our first Firelands boss kill last night downing Shannox. When we started over at the beginning of July I told people, “We will evaluate everyone for the month of July. No one is safe, everyone should put their best foot forward.” Well, people tend to make your decisions for you. Our raid roster has pared down from the potential of 18-20 players to really only a solid core of 8-10 with the necessary fillers/subs that round it out to 13-15.

These things always work themselves out if just given a little time. One person rages over not getting an item, then you lose that person and his 2 buddies. Another person suddenly has a schedule issue with work or real life conflicts, gone. Another has computer issues, yet another suddenly doesn’t want to raid anymore – server transfer later – gone.

People tend to make your decision for you, if you merely give them the TIME to show you what their made of – petulance, immaturity, laziness, discontent, ill-temper, boredom, cancerous. These are the negatives of course, its not always a bad thing that people leave. Sometimes its easier to let them walk away than have them stew and tensions build over disagreements in philosophy. While some show their bad side, others show their good, even great side! They step up. They make it through the 30+ wipes on one boss still smiling on the other end, ready for attempt 31, 32, 33, so on and so forth.

THAT is where the good stuff happens. Those are the people that begin to gel. Our fellow raiding hunter and I are now in lock step. If the Drone on Beth needs extra dps, she sees me jump on it to throw up a bunch of dots and soak up some Focus; I KNOW she has the Spiderlings in hand for a few seconds for me to help on the Drone. I don’t have to worry about which pet she pulls from her stable overlapping a buff…we know which ones to bring out automatically. We are gelling now. That’s a good thing. I see our healing core doing that too, and I hope it continues throughout the raiders we have remaining.

Some of the bad things from the good people – Old habits. Its ok for a healer to have full mana at the end of a fight if no one died and they managed their mana consumption/regeneration well. People should not be dying on aggro/threat pulls….they should know how to manage it properly. It’s not an AOE fest through Naxx or some BC instance. Drop the bad habits, and let’s improve even more.

And the nicest thing for this Hunter…I got a Lava Bolt Crossbow last night. FINALLY! I refused to buy one. So many friends were trying to farm one and never could get one…I got one.  :)

So that’s a 378 bow, T12 gloves, 378 belt, 378 cloak, 378 bracers, and 378 2H. Not too shabby. T12 2 piece is coming tonight, unless I see a helm/shoulders for 4pc T11, which is still worthwhile. We’ll see. I’m patient.

P.S. I can’t WAIT for Blizzcon!!!!! AMIRIGHT?!?

Q

Love letters…You’ve Got Mail!

So I got a love letter in-game this weekend!!! I kicked a few people out of the guild, and a somewhat expected response was a love letter. It was exactly what you could imagine, “You suck, you are the problem, its all your fault, everyone hates you, no one likes you, no one thinks you are good, you need to leave, quit, get out, get away.” Yadda yadda yadda. So, the letter was from an unguilded toon that was never a member of my guild. I am assuming its an alt of someone who was in fact kicked by me. So a quick look at the 3 I kicked…

  1. Young new member (yes young in age). He was chatty, very very very VERY chatty. I found him annoying, but tolerable. He was not insulting or anything, and I think was more guilty of trying too hard to make people like him more than anything else. However, I was getting tells constantly, “I can’t stand this kid!” “Please remove him!” “Hey, just an fyi, he blows. He can’t play for squat.” Well, I felt bad in a way, but if you have an overwhelming number of folks wanting him gone, your hand is played for you. /gkick
  2. Buddy who I have not seen on before (joined within the last week or so) starts asking how long server transfers take. I ask why he wants to know? He won’t answer insisting someone just tell him how long it takes. I suggest to him that since none of us work at Blizz doing server transfers, it might be prudent to go onto the WoW website and look for FAQs regarding transfers and I bet his answer will be there from the experts. He recoils and says to effect “Just tell me how long! I want to move a toon here from another server” Yeah, right…I almost believe that. Within a few more pokes and prods he admits he is transferring as soon as he can and wants it to go through right away to get off our server. /gkick
  3. Now the same fool who my previous post was in regards to jumps into gchat with all he wanted to do was get information! I respond with, “Says the same guy that told his guild how he hates the server and can’t wait to transfer.” He of course insists the Server and Guild are not the same…so even with a few days of some level of reflection he still does not get it. You can’t say you hate all dogs, but love German Shepherds. You can’t tell me you hate the entire server but love us…we are a part of the server!!! /gkick

I asked folks in guild if they new the toon name…no one did. I did some research and found their guild history and matched additional names that corresponded and narrowed it down to a reasonable conclusion. Numerous people defended me in g-chat, so I felt a little bit of love from folks which was nice.

Here’s the point: Disagreeing on the direction, tact, tone, rules, etc that your RL, GM, officers put forth is fine; however, ensure you are doing the mature thing to have a conversation regarding said disagreement. In other words, get together and discuss it. No screaming & yelling. DISCUSSION!

Hey, I don’t like the way you speak to us, can you maybe turn it down a notch!
Oh, I didn’t realize that; I certainly can!

We aren’t making any progress, what the heck is going on?
We’re analyzing the raids and trying to figure it out now. Do you have some suggestions on what we can change?
Yes actually, let’s start with this…

I am not even going to get into the obvious things like speak civilly, use your main to speak (not some alt that no one knows), and be sure to give some practical information and constructive criticism not just “we hate you”. Everyone wants to get better, and no one has all the right answers in their back pocket. Collaboration is the key. Benjamin Franklin said it perfectly, “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” The strongest and best foundation is and will always be that of solidarity. Sappy? Perhaps. But very true.

Work together toward one common goal and you will have success. Continue to fight amongst yourselves casting blame, taking credit, and disparaging character; you will assuredly fail. I told my new raid team who may not be the best players, but are for the most part good people who I am beginning to enjoy playing along side…”TRUST! Simply trust us that we are guiding our raid team to a point of success. If you have suggestions or see things that need correcting, let us know. Myself and the co-raid leader Tank are here to help everyone have success. Trust us!” Trust is the hardest thing to establish, but the most powerful tool in building a cohesive team.

Sappy? Perhaps. But very true.

Q