Friday, October 30, 2009

Anger Isn't Helpful

We were doing ToC 10, and by "we" I mean me and another guildy were in someone's PUG ToC 10, me on Sugar and him on his Tankadin. Group got together, entered the instance, and we downed it without wiping. I got a pretty new sword and thus was rather pleased with the whole experience.

However, during the process of the raid, there were some issues. A certain Mage within the group had never been there for more than Beasts before, and kept having some issues. Many of which were loudly pointed out and bashed upon.

On Beasts, he died in the beginning in a fire. Which, you know, is generally bad. After the fight everyone seemed to be rather upset with him, telling him not to die the next fight and how could anyone die in a fire? And, since they had apparently missed it the first time I said it in chat and we weren't using Vent, I said, again, "He got headcracked in the fire. That's why the snobold was chasing you on the ground and not humping your face after he died."

Okay, I didn't say the last sentence. But I should have.

Anway, people shrugged it off and we go to Jaraxxus. The Mage speaks up: I've only watched the video for this. Now, honestly, I'm pretty impressed. PUGs without experience generally don't even bother looking up strats or videos, so at least he tried to do his homework before the beginning of the raid.

Here's where the problem enters: since we're not using Vent and the raid leader is trying to get this done as quickly as possible, he gives the Mage the most extreme annotated version of the boss strats. Basically: red fire means stay, green fire means go. And the Mage, suspiciously, asks if we're messing with him (this is legitimate; I have known many people to joke about how "standing in fire gives you a buff"). I whisper him giving him the full details; if he runs out with incinerate he's likely to kill us because he'll explode, but if he stands in green fire he'll die.

Now, of course, having never played a Mage or Shaman on the fight, I forgot to tell him to spell steal the buff. In fact, no one told him to spell steal the buff until we were halfway through the fight and suddenly my Tankadin friend is raging at him in raid warnings. And just at him, not even at the DPS shaman who could have been purging.

It is rare to find a PUG who tries to prepare before a fight and readily admits "I don't know this boss, please explain." So, once again, I jumped in and said how it was not only his responsibility to purge it off, and no one told him to do it when he asked about his job for the fight.

What in the world does yelling at him for it do?

The rest of the raid I spent the time between bosses whispering the mage to explain the boss fights in more extensive detail than what the raid leader was managing. After all, expecting someone who has never done Twins before to understand "switch colors and shields when you're supposed to" is possibly putting too much faith in their psychic abilities.

The Mage never messed up for the rest of the raid. Afterward, he thanked me for my help; apparently a lot of people weren't even willing to give him a chance.

I've gotten angry at PUGs before. It's pretty easy, especially when they challenge you when you point out their mistake, or are annoyingly obtuse about their own failings. Hell, I fail plenty of times, but I always try to admit it, as I'd honestly rather own up to it myself than have someone else point it out. Sometimes they won't even tell you they don't understand the fight and just assume they can pick it up as they go. That, really, is probably the most annoying thing a PUG could do.

So what made this PUG different?

They had tried to learn before the raid. They had admitted that they didn't know. And when they were given proper, detailed instructions? They did well. They never blamed their problems on someone else, nor did they whine or pout because they were being yelled at. They didn't make excuses; telling someone "you didn't tell me I was supposed to" when they had specifically asked pre-fight what their job was is not an excuse, it is a legitimate point.

Getting mad at them was pointless. Just a waste of energy and emotion that could be channeled into actually helping them, and therefore helping the raid overall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Because Pike Did It

So apparently Pike decided that it was time for her to talk about being a Resto Druid. She does a great job (but she's Pike, what did you expect?) and should STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT GOSH.

But Pike talked Resto Druids. My job, therefore, is obviously to talk about my BM Hunter, Sugarcake. Except, well, while Pike actually knows what she's talking about, I'm running around going "OH MAN HOW DOES THIS WORK CRAP MY PET IS DEAD WHY IS MY DPS SO LOW GUYS STOP MAKING FUN OF ME."

Sugarcake has been 80 less than two weeks and probably doesn't deserve all the gear she has. She also needs new pants. I've actually been looking over Pike's hunters' armories to get a basic idea of gemming, skimming through her articles, trying to find a Google search for BM hunter information that isn't a millenia old and adjusting my bars and rotation, but the actual time I can put into her is limited due to also, you know, working on Grad School stuffs. Which sucks, 'cause, I mean, Huntering is way more important than that obviously. I need to get my priorities in order.

As a side note, did you know levelling pets sucks? I'm trying to get Cinnamon, my Devilsaur, to 80. I did every single Nessingwary hunt and kill quest from start to achievement and my Devilsaur went from a bar and a half into 77 to a bar and a half away from 78. Not one level after massacring about 100 animals. And as soon as Cinnamon is 80, I need to get my wolf, Sprinkles, there from 75. Augh.

Until I get this huntard thing figured out and start doing at least 3k DPS consistently, I've respec'd three times, picked up Improved Hunter's Mark and glyphed it, so there's a reason to take me along besides pity, as long as there's another hunter. I'm messing around with FemaleDwarf.Com (how appropriate!) but my inexperience with spreadsheets (you can't really spreadsheet a healer) has me more often than not going "That's great! How come I can't do that..." and scratching my head in confusion.

I have learned a lot though. Like, putting Cinnamon on aggressive when Anub'arak burrows in ToC is hilarious and fun while removing the need to manually target the scarabs while also knocking down frost orbs. I need to tell Cinnamon to "Stay" at the bottom of the stairs in Thorim's gauntlet so he'll despawn when I jump down. Paletress likes to nuke him which, while really sucking for my DPS, is I suppose better for the group as a whole (especially PUGs). Koralon likes to set him on fire? Everyone stop beating up Cinnamon, geez.

I have also learned that someone's hunter is an orb hog. Yes, you. Jerk.

For now, I'll deal with Sugar being on the receiving end of all the jokes (my Resto Druid did 1.7k DPS and I was told "Congratulations, you've out DPS'd your hunter!" Her DPS is not that bad, butt heads). I'll keep working on her when I have time, adjusting her as I go, and trying out these things called "macros" perhaps. Besides my Bestial Wrath/Rapid Fire/Mark of Supremacy smash macro.

That one's fun.

EDIT: Stop is following the crowd as well. I wonder if this is gonna keep chaining? Whatever you do, don't jump off a bridge, Pike. At least two people would follow you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Behind the Learning Curve

This post's alternate title is "Everything you already knew about Arena that I'm just catching up on." Because I'm a total and complete scrub who, as my boyfriend ever so gently puts it, has "no PvP instincts whatsoever."

So! I've been doing arena for two weeks now after stopping in the dying throes of Burning Crusade, I'm a winner all over the world as of last night, and with such triumphant traveling comes this great knowledge I will now impart unto you. Ready for it?

1. Not Understanding How Your Partner Can Help You Will Lose Games
So, Warriors have this thing called Bladestorm where they spin like a top and smash into you and hit a lot and hard. You can't Root them, you can't Cyclone them (or my unlucky Immunes were flukes!) you just have to run away. Or, you know, drag them by your Warrior partner who can disarm them and make them simply a pretty, ineffectual spinning ballerina. And if you don't know this? Well, unless you can get away, you're kind of probably maybe going to die (it hurts). Guess what? I died.

2. Panicking Gets You Killed
Yes, the warlock just crit you for 10k despite your Resilience. Yes, he's also got DoTs ticking. Running in a straight line away from him when you could simply LoS him by jumping off the platform because you're in a state of blind "OSHI-" panic is not going to help. It's going to get you killed. Just like the slow-running bimbo who trips and falls in front of the axe murderer, only you don't even have to trip because the fire can SEE YOU.

3. Talking Is Really Important
Unless you and your partner are telepathically mind-linked, you kind of have to speak up about what you're going to do. I have trouble with this. I think of my arena partner/boyfriend as all knowing (he can be quite scary with how often he gets unsaid stuff right, too) and so I just...well, I don't speak up. He can obviously see I'm dying to the Rogue behind the boxes while he's trying to focus down the Paladin because I've already had to use my trinket once and Barkskin is also down. OBVIOUSLY. I am working on this.

4. Cyclone Is Awesome. Cyclone Also Sucks.
Forgetting to use Cyclone is a terrible thing. Cyclone is "rigged" in that you can stop someone in their tracks, wasting their cooldowns and healing, get away from them and frustrate them. Knowing when to use it requires some experience and communication with your partner. I once Cycloned a Ret Paladin for the full duration of his wings cooldown. We lost that game, but at least I felt like I may have pissed him off. But you can also completely screw the game over by Cycloning a target just as your partner pops all his cooldowns, and then you've got a full duration immune target laughing his ass off at you.

5. Warlock Priest teams are EVIL
Warlocks hit like a truck. My HoTs are getting eaten and dispelled off all the time. I can't keep anything on my partner. I HATE THEM.

Moving on...

6. Just Because Your Comp Is Really Powerful Doesn't Mean You Can Completely Faceroll
Last night we went into a match against a Priest/Mage, supposedly one of the toughest combinations to beat. I mentally resigned myself to this being a doomed "practice match" where I'd just try to keep myself and my partner alive as long as I could.

And then we won. I LoS'd, kited, Bashed, Cycloned, Rooted, Moonfired, Insect Swarmed, and, of course, Healed my limbs off (it is hard to kite with no limbs) and my Warrior partner smashed in faces with his brand new Aesir's Edge and did his Warrior thing (see point number 1) and we won. Though we are in the little leagues (have only played 20 games so far, so we haven't exactly broken into the area where you start losing points), knowing that powerful comps are truly killable at least makes me feel a bit better.

Do you guys just get used to winning games in the first ten seconds? I mean, holy crap. I'm also looking at you, Enhance Shamans. I've only met one of you my first week but you just exploded everything into a pile of sticky gore.

But at least I'm wondering "WTF do I do to live through this??" instead of crying "AMG NERF NAO QQ"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loot Rules Make PUGs Complicated

Every weekend, at 12PM server (3PM Eastern), I run a 25 Tournament of the Crusader for guild alts, applicants, raiders who were sat/unable to make the main raid, and, inevitably, PUGs. These runs have been very successful, and even on the worst week we never failed to down Anub'arak. Now I have people whisper me throughout the week, people I barely know, to ask "When is the raid? Is it always at the same time? Can I have a calendar invite?" and I check up on their gear and achievements (I don't require full achievements but I like to see at least some ten man experience) and then I say "sure" and add them to the list.

To make my life "easier" I came up with some simple loot rules, and had them approved by my guild leader (as it is technically a guild run). The rules are as follows:
  1. Your main spec is what you are here as. If it is for your offspec, you do not roll unless no one needs it mainspec.
  2. Roll for patterns only if you have the skill to make it. Does not count against you.
  3. When you have won a piece of gear, people who have not won anything will be given preference over you. I am keeping track.
  4. If everyone rolling for an item has won something, it will be given out normally (highest roll wins).
  5. Crusader orbs are reserved, All other loot is fair game.
  6. If you win an item uncontested it does not count against you but don't be greedy.
  7. Do not talk in raid while loot is going out.
Simple, straightforward, macro'd and spammed at the beginning of every raid before the first pull. Crusader orbs are reserved because, since this is technically a guild run, they're transferred to the guild bank where they are then distributed to raiders who need them for crafting raid gear. Also, this ensures they get used, whereas the first time I tried it with Runed Orbs, they were later found on the auction house when I had stated to please only roll if you need them for crafting.

Lesson Learned.

You would think with such a set of rules, loot would be a relatively simple thing to distribute. Yet every. single. week. something comes up to give me a pixellated headache. Regular members of the raid try to tweak my rules by adding things like "if you fail, you get no loot." Which would be fine if a) I was a competent judge of all class failures and successes and b) you didn't wait til the !@#$ encounter started to modify my loot rules. And yet there's pressure for me to add that clause in, as everyone hates for loot to go to people who pulled aggro on the worms and got the raid spewed or ran out with Incinerate so people couldn't heal them or blew everyone up on Twins.

I'm pretty sure that's going to bring about plenty of arbitrary and opinion-oriented loot arguments, so I'm still fenced about that.

And then there's things like item trading. Last week, someone who had used their main spec roll then decided to trade the piece to another raider, without telling me at the time that they had decided to pass. This other raider narrowly missed beating someone else out for a main spec roll, and I only know about it because the original person later rolled and won on a trophy, and when I went to pass them the whole thing came to light. So now I need to make a clause about trading items and using your main spec roll because this is just annoying, honestly.

It seems the more rules you have, the more rules you need. And every week I get someone(s) unhappy over pixels. It's the most ridiculous thing ever. I've given my loot away to other people without returning my own main spec roll. I've watched items that would have been amazing upgrades for Bellbell vanish into the inventory of a healer who did half her healing and gone "Oh well." So perhaps it's just my damage, but getting so many complaints week after week over loot confuses me.

Or maybe my damage is that, despite this, I continue to set these raids up every week...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lord Jaraxxus, Hardmode (25)

This fight against Lord Jaraxxus is one of the easier fights in Tournament of the Grand Crusader. There are, of course, a few changes designed to make the fight more difficult. Those are:
  1. Mistress of Pain will now cast Mistress's Kiss.
  2. The Portals and Volcanoes that spawn adds must be DPS'd down before they will stop spawning adds.
  3. Everything hits/ticks harder.

Before the start of the fight, you want to arrange your healers and ranged DPS in a circle around the outside of the middle. Don't stand on the points of the stars; they're misleading and too far removed from the raid on the opposite side of the circle. Stand a little away from the inner ring, inside the triangles. Separate your healers first, then your ranged DPS; ranged should stand on healers, no more than two to a healer. The boss should be tanked in the middle, and after the pull it should look something like this:

Obviously, you can utilize the triangles that work the best for you, this is just an example. As you do this more and more, you'll notice healers and DPS getting territorial over their triangles. This is perfectly natural. After all, the Northeast triangle is mine, and my DPS is Francesco the mage and occasionally a Warlock. It's my spot.

Before you pull make sure your ranged directly South and your melee stand away from the boss so they don't get smacked in the face and one-shot.

Once the boss is pulled, a lot of the fight depends on your DPS and their ability to change targets quickly to the portal/volcano and DPS it down so there are not too many adds. It's especially important for the portals, as more than one Mistress of Pain can lock up your healers very quickly, especially if you're running with a bunch of Paladins. The Kiss can be counteracted, true; just target Jaraxxus or a Mistress and start casting Starfire as a Druid, or a Shadow spell for a Priest or a Fire spell for a Shaman (remember, it has to have a cast time!). Paladins, only having Holy spells, are SoL as soon as Kiss lands on them. Their choices are to cast something, take the interrupt and the damage but be locked out for less time, or to sit out the fifteen seconds of the debuff, which is not recommended.

More Mistresses equal more Kisses equal more locked out healers, as even Priests, Shamans and Druids can become accidentally locked out if the Kiss lands on them while they're in the middle of casting something. If your DPS is having trouble getting the portals down while only spawning one Mistress, consider going to five healers and having an extra DPS; we did this for our first kills and, despite the loss of one healer, it was easier without the Mistress running rampant.

Believe me, any girl whose signature kink is the 360 Pain Spike isn't someone you want to be locking lips with, extra arms or no.

Getting the volcanoes down quickly is also important, as too many Infernals can start wrecking your raid. A couple ticks of their channeled AoE followed by a chain lightning from Jaraxxus and you could be looking at a lot of dead people. Get away from them, even if you have to abandon your spot. Your spot will be there when the infernal goes away, I promise. Unless someone dumped fire in it, and then maybe you should think of getting a new spot, because your spot currently sucks.

Your tank will round them up, the DPS will knock them down (no interrupts for their inferno nor banishes to keep them in line; you have to just work with them), and things will go back to business as usual. Healing Incinerates is of paramount importance because if people blow up, so does the raid, even more so than in normal. Likely, if not everyone dies, a lot of people will be dead at the end. If people are locked out from Kiss, heal the Incinerated people harder. Blow your cooldowns because the tank won't or shouldn't need them. Just get them healed ASAP.

Make sure you run out when you're affected by Legion Flame, so you're not dropping fire on your group or the melee or wherever you are with fire. However, please realize: you don't have to run all the way to the wall! Get to the outside of the group, then start this rotation: pause. drop a patch of fire. move. pause. drop a patch of fire. move. repeat from the beginning until the debuff is gone. It's not a constant drop, and running all the way to the outside just leaves a perforated trail of fire through the raid and you start ranging healers, as opposed to leaving a nice, consolidated patch outside the ranged that's easy to avoid and not nearly so hazardous to your health. And, for goodness's sake, don't run out for Incinerate. Recognize the difference! Red Fire means STOP, Green Fire means GO.

That's it! Adjust to AoE's and fire, don't get locked up by the Kiss if you can help it, and heal! Then he should die and you'll be ready to face the Faction Champions.

Yes there are a lot of bones. This was our first kill. Subsequent kills have been far more successful and bone-less, unless you count having to get a DK to respec for corpse explosion just so we could clear out the boss's annoying, non-despawning corpses.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where You Been, Bell?

I know, I haven't posted in a while. I've been sick. Sick sick sick sick sick but not actually sick. Weird sick. Like, random bouts of exhaustion sick. I'm not even sure what to label it but it's getting to be rather annoying. I do not enjoy sitting there, doing something like playing or writing a paper, and then just suddenly being sore and exhausted out of nowhere. Not. Fun.

In other news my Hunter is 80 and I'm at a complete loss as to what to do with her. I bought her BoE bracers, respec'd her BM spec to "different BM" and spent five minutes looking for Skoll, and then I was like "Well, now what?" My DPS will be absolutely terrible, so...probably if I do heroics at all, the guild will be carrying me. Which is kind of mean, so we'll see what I decide to do. And yes, I know, I could improve my DPS simply switching to MM or Survival but I don't want to. She is my alt for fun and I'm going to play her how I want.

My boyfriend's warrior has been 80 for about a month now, so we're going to try Arena once I stop failing. Not having done Arena since BC has made me incredibly terrible and rusty. I was never really pro before (doing Arena casually), but I have a lot more to work with now and so, we'll see. Lots of skirmishes in my future.

I'm going to write those guides and posts as soon as I can, cross my heart, I'm just having some issues with this walking-dead-random-sleepiness thing. If it doesn't clear up soon I'm going to have to go to the medical center on campus (bleah), but I try to avoid that as they're not the best medical professionals you can come by, and I don't want to really be around sick people (my perpetually ill roommate is enough, thanks).

We'll have to see. In the meantime, check out my new puppy!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Been A Long Time In Coming

The podcast from The Elitists featuring me and Sylly is up!

I just want to say I am easily embarrassed, public speaking is not my thing, and I ramble on most incoherently. So please go enjoy it, and laugh at my expense. It's okay, I give you permission! Sylly was awesome though.

Also, if you're thinking something is weird about what I said in regards to the haste cap, a full post is coming, so don't worry about it. All will be explained. I know what I said isn't the real "haste cap" but I get nervous on the microphone and I didn't explain it right!

Now go have a good laugh!