Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why we play the types of characters we do

If you have been a member of my guild for any great length of time you will have heard me say at least once "people tend to gravitate towards certain types of characters based on their personality."  There are also some who can not commit to any ONE character and that also says a lot about their personality.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently around the blog sphere in regards to the importance of particular roles in 5 man dungeons.  In essence what it all boils down to is that it is more likely that a well geared tank or a well geared healer who are reasonably competent will be able to complete any dungeon no matter what type of dps make up they have with them. As a result of this some feel that Tanks and Healers are more important than dps, especially in regards to completing any objective.

Kaelynn over at Azure Shadows brought up a FANTASTIC point in this debate. It is the disproportionate amount of healers and tanks verses dps that really seems to be driving this issue of this "superiority complex". Think of each of your friends lists, what does it take for a tank or healer to get on it? Usually nothing more than a fairly successful run. Dps on the other hand? They need to have done something OUTSTANDING typically to gain a spot.

So what type of people typically play tanks? Well my observations have been that those tanks that I consider GOOD ones generally display an internal drive to succeed, thrive on challenge, are not afraid of leadership responsibilities, have the ability to analysis situations in a glace and develop strategies. There is a level of stress in playing this role that often the players themselves don't recognize until they are facing burnout because it feeds part of their personal needs. Quite frankly add this to the fact that strong tanks are needed for progression and I think it explains why so many tanks end up in leadership roles within their guilds. Those who get into tanking strictly because it will get them into the que quicker or to gain glory and prestige will not last long in the profession.

Tanks are not only responsible for themselves but also all the "squishies". This means the dps that can not tell the back from the front of a mob or are unwilling to wait for establishment of aggro before they begin damaging. They are responsible for noticing mana users blue bars when making pulls so that healers and damage dealers are still able to perform their jobs. They often have to deal with individuals who feel they could tank BETTER than they resulting in gifts of unsolicited, often caustic advice or attempts to "help" by doing pulls for them.

Few are willing to work with a tank as they learn the skills needed to perform their roles outside of guilds. Just this past week I was in a PuG Halls of Reflection in which the Paladin tank sheepishly confessed he had never done the instance before. Immediately the healer and one dps left the group. The rest of us however were of that rare breed who remember what it was like to first start out and patiently took the time to instruct him on what to do as well as did everything in our power to make HIS job easier. The result? A successful Hall of Reflections run, no wipes, and no deaths. Yeah it doesn't always turn out that way, but when it does those times are sweet.

There are those tanks out there who are total prima donnas and frankly I don't care HOW well they tank and how geared they are I STILL would not desire to run with them. I had the unfortunate opportunity to do a Culling of Strat with one the other day who was proudly displaying his "Astral Walker" Title. Geared completely in either ToGC or ICC25 gear he proceeded to NEED everything that dropped that he could despite the fact we had TWO plate wearers in the group in BLUES that the items were actually UPGRADES for. I could have been understanding that, yeah he had equal right to the loot as well if not for the fact that he had been mocking them for the full run about their low dps and healing (not like it was to low for the instance we were doing and the rest of us couldn't cover for them). When confronted about it, his response was "LoL yeah, well my gear sucks".  (More like he had taken to many blows to the head to consider those where he had once been.) It is individuals like him who make you appreciate the GOOD tanks you know.

Healers on the other hand have changed a bit. Those who were healing back in the days of Molten Core remember the intricate balance of mana management, spell scaling and spell prioritizing. Those who do not have a LOVE for healing consider modern healing "boring" and nothing more than a glorified version of "whack a mole" as the result of the various mods available to healers.

So what kinds of people play healers as mains? I am talking again about those who have chosen the profession due to having a true LOVE for it not just "seeing it as a way into a dungeon or raid spot instantly". In these individuals I have observed  the following traits displayed almost universally: problem solvers, comfortable in support roles, excel at multi tasking, and (dare I say it?) usually perfectionists. They take ANY death as a personal affront (unless of course they are using it as a learning opportunity for the person in question) and some of the "from the BRINK of death" saves I have witnessed indeed seem miracles.

Healers are not only responsible for keeping EVERYONE alive but providing buffs and dispels WHILE performing that role. They get to chase after tanks that run out of range and pull multiple mobs while only having 25% of their mana. Thrill to dealing with directionally challenged dps, who pull aggro off the tank or receive avoidable damage. All while at the same time monitoring their OWN threat generation and proximity to the fight. Yes, in this day and age of the "over geared run" more frequently well geared healers will be dealing with the problem of boredom in 5 man dungeon runs than frantically trying to keep everyone alive. This doesn't lessen the fact that GOOD healers knows how to use the tools they have effectively. (Few runs can be healed by just using Prayer of Mending and Holy Nova.)

So what about those Dps? The LARGEST section of the pot so to speak? As Kaelynn rightly mentioned we ALL start out as Dps generally since few of us level as Tanks or Healers. (Yeah I know I DID level Holy on my priest but it was NOT easy.) So those Tanks and Healers have to learn their jobs later on. Even the heirloom gear we can get now a days is all set up for dps, not tanking or healing. Do THEY display any personality traits? Actually yeah, I have also observed something there to. They tend to fall into two categories and you can usually see the difference on the damage charts.

Those Dps who are at the top of the meters consistently? They are aggressive, competitive, organized, and often have a rather twisted sense of humor. These guys look at each gear piece based on dps out put, they consider trades based on how it will help them towards their goals. Spreadsheets and specs are the foundation of just about every conversation you over hear regarding their character. At the same time they have that "live on the edge" sense about them. They are adrenaline junkies...sure they may die as the result of a crit but they were doing 14k dps before they went down! 

The other and frankly larger portion of dps fall into the category of "I play a dps because I chose that CHARACTER" or "Form rather than Function". They play a Hunter because they like animals/pets, a Rogue to be a Ninja/Spy/Assassin, a Warrior to carry two HUGE weapons, a Druid to be a shape shifter, a Mage so they can port everywhere/firebomb everyone, a Warlock because demons are sexy, a Death Knight to be an Anti-Paladin, a Paladin to be a Hero of the Light! The list of reasons is almost endless, their attention spans on the other hand....not so much. These individuals also tend to be Altaholics.

When I get into a run and someone tells me they are on their alt my expectations of their performance immediately go down as I have yet to meet ANYONE who can play multiple characters at the same skill level as someone who focuses on a main. That isn't to say they may not be GOOD at that alt, just it will not be as instinctive as it can become on a main. Those of us who play multiple high level characters can attest to those times of panic when you go to hit a key binding only to realize "Wait THIS character can't DO that! or That Key binding doesn't DO what I instinctively wanted to do."

It is becoming harder and harder to recognize an alt verses a main in this day and age of "easy gear". I am at the point where all three of my level 80 characters are geared to Icecrown level and I know many others are dealing with the same. Where before the majority of people would assume if you were geared WELL that meant this MUST be a main. Now a days it is not uncommon for individuals to take their alts into pugs and have them geared comparably to their mains if for no other reason that to better farm Primordial Saronite. In a five man dungeon it really won't make to much of a difference.

If you wonder WHY a particular well geared character is preforming lower than you think they should you can always ASK if it is an alt. Nine times out of ten I have found this to be the case. Those few when it HAS been a main, it is usually was either a NEW main (meaning they JUST made it their main) OR they leveled so quickly they still don't really know what they are doing.

So where does that leave us? If you know WHY a person tends to play a specific type of character it can help you to work with that individual, gaining you more successful runs. Look across your guild, at the people you encounter in your daily pug runs, are YOUR observations similar to my own or totally different? Some people have the idea that if you go into a pug you will NEVER encounter these individuals ever again, but I have found that I am starting to run into individuals that I have done runs with and remembering them, and they remember me. Part of it is due to the fact I tend to do my dailys about the same time every day. A little effort on your part really won't hurt you and even if these individuals are not on your server it may give you unexpected dividends.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Sinking Ship

Now before some of you jump to conclusions let me just start off by saying, no I am NOT talking about my guild, the game or anything of that nature. This post is here as an explanation of why my last KYRL was two days LATE of all things and why posts have been more thin in content.

When I started this blog, I just thought of it as a "guild thing" so call me shocked when people from OUTSIDE my little frame of reference began to take interest in it and even go so far as to FOLLOW my ramblings. To keep myself from panicking, and because I was CERTAIN eventually you would all come to your senses and move on I just keep thinking of it as a "guild thing" with out taking any note at all to how many people actually stop by to read or see what all I am writing about. Which works ok, to a point. The point is when I have things going on that effect my blogging and those outside have no idea what is going on.

So this is what has been happening this past month. I walked into my kitchen and noticed that there was a slope in my floor near my refrigerator. I have 12"x12" tile all across my 16'x22' kitchen so having a slope and a dip in the floor was rather odd. Further investigation revealed that the crawl space UNDER my kitchen had been constructed incorrectly and the only reason my refrigerator and freezer had NOT fallen through the floor was due to the drain pipe running under them. The entire crawl space was COMPLETELY rotted out. The only thing holding up my floor at this point was my tile.

So for the past month that is what I have been dealing with. Contractors, insurance adjusters, and Kitchen planners attempting to come up with a plan to get my kitchen fixed. Doing this in January, in a Northern State where you have SNOW makes it all the more challenging. Thankfully the ground has not frozen but it did help kill off the mold. It has been a blessing in disguise, or at least that is how I am choosing to look at it. As we had to demo our deck to get to the kitchen crawl space we discovered our gas line had ALSO been installed incorrectly and was now almost completely rusted through to the point that it could break at any time. With the economy being what it is I have had no difficulty in getting GOOD contractors in who are doing work AHEAD of schedule of all things. It is just I had not planned on doing a $20,000 renovation at this time.

Needless to say it has cut into not only my writing time but my playing time. Last night was the first time I got to take a whack at Saurfang (it was nice to walk away with both the achievement for completing that wing and the I've Gone and Made a Mess.) However I am feeling rather guilty that I am having to skip out on a lot of raids. Tonight we are going back in to hit the rest of Icecrown Citadel which I am looking forward to.

So that is what has been going on. With real life taking such a HUGE chuck of a attention at this point it has really cut into my "relaxation time" which is what I consider my blog and WoW time. Things are going well and SOON, (next week they tell me) I should have a floor in my kitchen again so I can perhaps within the next two weeks be looking at cooking on my stove and not trying to feed a family of six out of a microwave. I know some people manage it all the time but I am not one of those people...I think microwaves should only be used to warm up left overs. First thing on my agenda will be to do some baking.

Know Your Rogue Lore: Andello Porter

I am sure some of you are wondering why would we look at an individual WAY back in the OLD world? Hang in there with me and I think you will be surprised. Andello Porter is an unique SI:7 agent in that he is friendly both to the Alliance AND the Horde. Originally he was located along the bank of the stream just outside of  Tabetha's Farm in Duskwallow Marsh, but apparently she felt sorry for him and built him a dock after the goblins moved in over at Mudsprocket in Patch 2.3.  Many believe his supposed "friendliness" towards Horde is nothing more than a ruse, it also may have something to do with his location. Tabetha, while being human, is a neutral quest giver for both Horde and Alliance players. I am sure having someone picking a fight just outside her door step would annoy her greatly.

Andello's job is to closely monitor what all is going on in the volatile region of Duskwallow Marsh, especially in regards to the Horde. His location near the home of a powerful mage gives him quick access to Stormwind in order report at a moments notice. He is the ending point for an easy to miss drop quest off of Apothecary Cylla at the nearby Direhorn Post. What makes this quest note worthy is that Andello doesn't really know what all he has discovered.  The Horde version, which takes the letter to Nazeer Bloodpike hints for the first time that all may not be as unified amongst members of the Horde factions, especially in regards to the Forsaken as many had believed. This will reach its dramatic conclusion in Dragonblight.

As to the outfit Andello is wearing I have not had much luck in discovering its pieces other than it appears to be identical in make up to that of his colleague stationed at Chillwind Camp in the Western Plaguelands Flint Shadowmore.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rep: The Frostborn

If you are Alliance and have NOT done any of the quests in The Storm Peaks for this faction you have missed out on some of the BEST lore related quests in the game. While some are taken completely by surprise at its revelations, others may have caught the foreshadowing of its conclusion from a quest chain back in Dragonblight and like me have been anxiously anticipating it. With the release of Icecrown Citadel the "secret" is out. Muradin Bronzebeard, the second of the Bronzebeard brothers, weapons instructor and friend to Prince Arthas, is alive and wanting to clean up the mess he inadvertently created when he told his young companion about the legendary sword Frostmoure.

The Frostborn are a special race of dwarves discovered by Muradin shortly after his and Arthas' encounter with Frostmoure. Unlike the "Flesh" Dwarves who completely succumbed to the curse of the flesh, their stone "froze" locking them into the state they are presently in. They were exiled and while they continue to be aware of the Titans and revere them, they no longer serve them like the Earthen. This made them vulnerable to the battle that was going on between Yogg-Saron and the Titan Guardians.

When Alliance Players first encounter them in Storm Peaks that is exactly what is going on. The Frostborn are pinned in by the Iron Dwarves, a product of the Mecognomes and servants of Yogg-Saron. The Explorer's League has discovered the Frostborn and manged to gain their assistance in furthering their research by OFFERING assistance in protecting and defending the Frostborn. There are only Fifteen quests for this faction, only one of them is a repeatable daily. So before patch 3.3 gaining exalted with this faction took a LONG time. Now it is only a matter of running level 80 dungeons with out wearing a faction rewarding tabard.

Don't skip the quest chains though, as I mentioned they are rich in lore and some of them are the most enjoyable ones I have encountered in the game. My favorite of all time is The Brothers Bronzebeard in which you fly out off the Engine of the Makers on the Wing of Brann's Flying Machine and fight off Iron Dwarves. The ending of this quest is of course the very best part and had me jumping up and down yelling "I was right! I was right!" Just be careful to follow Brann closely so that you get credit.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hour of our Discontent

If you have played World of Warcraft for any length of time you may have noticed there are cycles. An ebb and flow if you will to individuals reaction to the game. We are now at the point I call the Ebb. Conversations abound about how "Bored" individuals are with the game, how it is not longer "filling the need", long dissertations are given on all that is WRONG or "broken", hope expressed that PERHAPS the NEXT expansion will FIX it all so all eyes now focus on THAT.

When this starts to happen attendance begins to drop off. Individuals begin to come up with other ways to spend their time. Once vibrant guilds can find themselves struggling for survival or in places they have not seen in months like pugging to fill spots or canceling raids all together. Those that DO stick around and continue to participate can come to resent those that only show up for the progression runs and then disappear. The feeling  they are being taking advantage of by those who no longer participate in the larger scope of the game or show little desire to build comradarie, spewing forth in snide comments or cold shoulders.

So what can you as a guild leader do about it? Well first you need to realize that while you can provide opportunities you can NOT force people to participate or do as you wish. (No matter how much you want to.) Second you need to listen to the people that are STILL there. Find out what THEY are looking for and what keeps them coming back. Third, focus on the POSITIVES not the NEGATIVES. (For some of you the rest of this post may seem like a Pollyanna outlook but after almost four years of guild leading it has worked so far.)

One of the things I appreciate most about my guild is that chat is a POSITIVE place. Even when people are complaining about the "bad pug" they are in SOMEONE will help them turn in around and refocus it or try to brighten the moment. We have had some petitioners complain about our "rated E" language but you know what? You can still have a TON of fun without getting into language that small children shouldn't be reading over your shoulder, let alone be able to understand.

So right now we are facing these things I mentioned. We had to cancel our Dragon run due to not enough people showing up and last night for 25 ToC we had to pug as well as off spec in order to fill the roster. This means that rather than using our loot system and gearing up guild members we are free rolling. Tonight we have ICC and last I looked we were still short even for that. So we talked amongst those who WERE there and asked what were some things THEY wanted to do.

Big thing that came up was several of them hated the fact that we had never finished Ulduar. When ToC came out Ulduar kinda got pushed to the way side because it was just SO much easier and the gear was better. So that is what we are looking at next week. Finishing up Ulduar, getting some achievements done maybe even getting our healing lead her mace.

We also discussed how burned out we all were on the Looking for Group system so it was declared that now, when you log on ask in Guild Chat FIRST and try to get a random together before you automatically que up. Last night we had three random groups going after ToC and EVERYONE was enjoying it again.

While some people are not motivated by achievements, others DO enjoy getting them so that is another thing we have been doing. Encouraging people to set up runs to just farm achievements. We did that last week so that several of us could FINALLY finish up our Glory of the Hero and walk away with our Red Protodrake. Those that know how to do the achievements are now happily lending our expertise to those who are attempting to get it.

The final thing we are doing is preparing for our four year anniversary in March. We have a big event planned which we hope will encourage a lot to participate even if only for that night. It is like nothing we have ever done before and I think it will be a blast!

Times of transition, those times of waiting for the NEXT big change can bring out the worst. The hording or whining, the griping, it is easy to see all the FLAWS in the game when we have been playing it so long and can compare it to new toys that are out there to grab our attention. Try first to change your OWN perspective and look at what it was that FIRST got you excited about the game. I STILL remember the jaw dropping feeling I got when I came over that hill in Storms Peaks and saw Ulduar for the first time. Learning that the Argent Tournament was originally suppose to be taking place in Crystal Song Forest but was moved to Ice Crown as a result of to much strain in one area with Dalaran over head made me reconsider my complaints about Dalaran Lag. (Could you IMAGINE what it COULD have been like? *Shutters*)

Yes, World of Warcraft is showing its age, no denying it. Yes, I am excited to see what is in store with the next expansion, but that is still months off and I have YET to finish things in THIS expansion, heck I still have Sunwell sitting there mocking me. It really is not a case of there NOT being things to do, it is a case of are they things you are INTERESTED in doing or not? If you take just a LITTLE bit of time you can find OTHERS that share those interests and want to do them to. Start in your guild and work from there.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Agent Skully

I couldn't write about the Hand of Vengeance on Tuesday and NOT write about one of my favorite members of it today, Agent Skully. (Yes, obvious pop culture reference to Gillian Anderson's character Agent Dana Scully of the X-files.)

While Agent Skully appears human she is in actuality a Forsaken disguised to appear as a member of the Scarlet Onslaught due to the use of a Magic Mirror. Her mission is to discover the Scarlet Onslaught's strange immunity to the New Plague as well as any other plans they may have which could hinder the Hand of Vengeance in their goals. Her exact position is as the Onslaught's Cemetery Caretaker which allows her to hang out behind the chapel and closely examine any of the recently deceased.

For Horde players she has four quests which give you the opportunity to assist her in uncovering just what is going on with the Scarlet Onslaught and the strange new "blessing" they are being provided by their "Bishop". The first quest Without a Prayer sends you after the Bishop's prayer book. (What is interesting about this is for Rogues for the first time in a VERY long time you can actually Pick Pocket the item off the Bishop.) The Perfect Dissemblance allows you to also play with the mirror for a short time. (Druids have a hard time with this quest as they often forget to shift out of form first causing the mirror to fail.) A Fall from Grace tends to take players by surprise (I won't spoil the punch line for you) but I do like Skully's line when you report to her following it. The Truth Will Out is Skully's final quest for players. (Another X-files reference) Take the time to read the General's Diary if you would like a more complete understanding of what is going on.

Some of you might be wondering if Skully is at New Hearthglen, where is Molder? Well don't fret, her old partner is not far off. Deathguard Molder can be found at Venmonspite. What is truly scary is that they actually changed his model so he looks MORE like David Duchovny.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rep: Hand of Vengence

Ah, the Hand of Vengeance, supposedly this is Lady Sylvanas contribution to the war effort in Northrend. On paper they are an equal part of the Horde Expedition working together towards the ultimate defeat of  their former master, Arthas, or The Lich King. However all is not as it seems amongst the Hand of Vengeance. The military members are in no way focused on assisting the rest of the Horde forces, rather their single task is to assist the Royal Apothecary Society members scattered about their various bases of operations in producing and distributing  The New Plague. The presence of the Deathstalkers further demonstrates this.

As a result of the Hand of Vengeance's single focus they are not very prevalent in Northrend. Specific quests for this faction can only be located in two places Howling Fjord and Dragonblight, (A total of only 53 in all.) Howling Fjord has the largest portion with its four quest hubs, Vengeance Landing, New Agamand, Ghostblade and The Apothecary Camp. In Dragonblight their focus is solely in Venomspite even though the final result will be seen at Kor'korn Vanguard, or more correctly at the Wrathgate just below it.

The discerning player will soon pick up on the undercurrents as quest after quest you assist in "perfecting" the New Plague and Royal Apothecary members work at adapting it to the Northrend environment. Failure is NOT an option for this faction as their policy of  no mercy for the captured clearly demonstrates.

Before patch 3.3 getting to exalted with this faction was an impossibility. There were NO repeatable quests available and few quests outside of the two aforementioned zones that offered spill over reputation for them. With patch 3.3 however Horde players can now earn reputation with the Hand of Vengeance both by running level 80 dungeons while not wearing a reputation granting tabard or by doing the daily quests offered at the Argent Tournament in Icecrown at Champion level. This simple change has made all the difference.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Linzi Redgrin

Our diminutive topic of today's Know Your Rogue Lore is another member of the infamous Player NPC gang of Dalaran. Named after the euphemism for a slit throat, Linzi Redgrin seems to enjoy spending her days stalking Horde players.

She wanders the streets and shops but seldom speaks to anyone save at one of her two favorite hang outs. The first is the Ledgierdemain Lodge, where she can be seen speaking to the inn keeper and setting up her  hearth stone. Her second most popular location is The Bank of Dalaran, or as players more commonly refer to it  "The Horde Bank". There she often will visit the guild bank vault before logging out. We can only hope it is to make a deposit and not to ninja it clean.

Dressed in Merciless Gladiator's Vestments Linzi makes no apology that the death of Horde is something she strives for. Despite this she is IMMENSELY popular with players who often follow her around commenting on how "cute" she is. (Much to her GREAT disgust as with Dalaran's armistice she can not respond directly.)  She is also known to show up in multiple locations as once, so don't be TOO shocked if you see her step into the Ledgierdemain Lodge only to watch her walk out of the Bank a moment later.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Trust a Rogue

If you haven't seen this recently released machinima from Theandrin & Candida give it a peek, it is catchy and as soon as I figure out how it will go into my raiding mix. My youngest is running around the house singing at as we speak (which means SOMEONE at the school will be questioning my parenting skills tomorrow as he hums the tune.)

My only complaints about it are minor. Her gear SUCKS, the weapon choices ,while they make sense lyrically, are not the greatest for a "PvP" rogue and the rest of her gear (when she isn't sporting the Lovely Black Dress) is Deadly Gladiator's Vestments.  The best parts of this whole video in my opinion? The way she handles the Mage and the dancing Druids.

Hope you enjoy it!

For those that asked here are the Lyrics:

Black dress with a knife underneath
She's got the breath of her last fish feast on her teeth
And she's got pride (pride)
and she's got greed
She spends all her free time hanging out in BGs
P-P-P Poison - instant or deadly
While you're still busy casting - she's already won
T-Tauren boyfriend because you know she likes beef
Look out she wants to group again, bet she'll need a rez again

[ - Chorus -]
She wants to sap you woh-oh
she wants to stab you woh-oh
she'll never heal you woh-oh
woh-oh oh oh
Don't trust a rogue
never trust a rogue
don't trust a rogue
don't trust me

Running Naxxs, yeah she used to a lot
Now she doesn't need the loot 'cos Widow's Fury just dropped
And that lockbox that you want her to pick
Don't even go there if you're not gonna tip

V-V-V Vanish, no one know's where she's at.
Before you turn around you'll feel her knife in your back
And the best is (best is)
She's got the tricks of the trade
Fan of Knives - Adrenalin rush - yeah she's got you made

[ - Chorus - ]

[ - Zaraeus' breakdown -]
Shush girl - shut your lips
Open up my lockbox and don't ask for no tips

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rep: Explorers' League

Also known as the Explorers' Guild this Dwarven lead branch of the Alliance Vanguard is really more interested in pursuing their personal agenda of uncovering the origins of the dwarven people than going after the Lich King. However since their research has managed to provided the Alliance with detailed maps, along analysis of all new resources discovered, they do not begrudge them their obsession.

Headquartered out of the Hall of Explorers in Ironforge the Explorers' League has been around since the very beginning of the World of Warcraft on line game and can be found scattered across every part of the globe even reaching into Outland. However it was only with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion that players gained the opportunity to finally earn reputation with this faction. (Much to the joy of many of us.) But prior to patch 3.3 it was NOT easy.

While you will find Explorers' League members scattered all about Northrend, reputation providing quests are located in only two zones, Howling Fjord and Storm Peaks. Of the 36 quests this faction gives only ONE is a daily, Steel Gate Patrol. Thankfully it is a low level one. So prior to patch 3.3 if you wanted to reach exalted reputation with this faction you could expect to do Steel Gate Patrol about 122 times. (That was if you were human, non humans it was even more.) Thankfully that is no longer an issue. Players will now get this reputation as spill over from doing Argent Tournament Daily quests as well as from running level 80 dungeons.

Does this mean that when you enter the Hall of Explorers after you've reach exalted they will greet you with great enthusiasm? Sorry, no. As one commenter put it: "I just try to imagine their indifference as stunned silence."
Lets say you want to try to fit in, look more like the most famous of the Explorers' Leagues Members Brann Bronzebeard. What would you need? It is actually rather simple. The basic uniform consists of a Russet Hat, Rugged Trapper's Shirt, Rugged Trapper's Pants, Rugged Trapper's Boots, and a Thick cloth belt.

In all honesty it looks very similar to my fishing outfit but that is neither here nor there.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to be that DPS EVERYONE wants

How do you get invited to groups and raids or even more importantly NOT get called "that scrub dps" in a group? It is more than just riding the top of the Dps and Damage output meters despite what many believe. It is knowing what skills and abilities you have and how to use them. It is having the ability to survive a fight to DO that dps, the added bonus of making the tanks and healers jobs easier so they want to take you with them wherever they go.

Lets face it, in the world of DPS, Rogues are not the most popular due to our lack of ability to provide "goodies" unless we have specific trades. Our recent rise in popularity among players was due primarily to our dancing at the top of the damage meters I won't be surprised to see us take a nose dive in the aftermath of our most recent encounter with the nerf bat.

Lets take a look at each ability we have, when we get it and how we can use it so that we can become "That Rogue" EVERYONE wants to take with them on a run.

The first "trick" we get our hands on is at level six called Gouge which stuns the target for just a short time while turning off your attack. I personally like to use it when you have some random mob that has broken away from the tank and heads off towards the healer. I don't have to go anywhere, any damage the mob takes will break it but it is usually enough to stop it in its tracks and give the tank enough time to pick it back up with out ME accidentally picking it up in the tank's place. You can also use it as a back up interrupt when your kick is on cool down. The Combat tree also contains Improved Gouge which you can use to increase the duration of this ability if you chose to do so. There is also a Glyph available which reduces the energy cost.

Level eight gives us the all important Evasion. This is an instant ability with a three minute cool down that increases our dodge by 50% and reduces our chance to be hit by ranged attacks by 25%. There is also a talent in the Combat Tree called Endurance at level 20 which can shorten the cool down by 30 or 60 seconds. Rogues often joke about "Evasion tanking" as this is our "oh crap" button when we pull aggro off  tanks or the tanks go down and we are left facing the boss alone. Some rogues even like to create entire SETS of gear around this premise and for them the Glyph of Evasion is a must.

Level 10 gives us Sap, which slowly scales as you progress up the ranks. When you first obtain it at level 10 all you can do is incapacitate (knock out) humanoids for a max of 25 seconds. By the time you are Level 71 this list will extend to include Beasts, Demons and even Dragonkin and the duration will have increased to about 1 minute. All that is required is that you be stealthed when you bonk them on the head and that they not be in combat. You can even increase the duration by an additional 20 seconds with the use of a glyph.

The other ability we get at level 10 is Sprint. At its most basic this allows you to increase your movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds so you can get out of Dodge FAST when trouble or damage is a brewing. Put a few talent points into Improved Sprint at level 25 and suddenly you can not only run away from trouble but get out of movement impairing effects as well. The Glyph of Sprint will increase your movement speed an addition 30% which some pvpers enjoy and there is also a fun glyph that will allow you to run on water.

Level twelve gives us one of the most often used moves in our arsenal, Kick. Quite simply this instant move interrupts spell casting and prevents any other spells from the same spell school from being used for 5 seconds.  It has a ten second cool down but you can enhance this ability by putting talent points into Improved Kick from the Combat Tree which will allow you to silence the caster as well.  Learning to identify casts and managing your energy so you have enough to cast kick while maintaining your normal damaging rotation is key.

At level sixteen we get an ability which at one time was considered so much of a joke the vast majority of rogues didn't even have it on their action bars. It has now become one of my most beloved moves of all time. Feint. When you first get it, all it does is reduce your threat by a small amount...a VERY small amount. So if you see that your building more aggro than your tank the idea is you can use this ability to get it back down. However for the energy cost verses the aggro dump it provides few of us really see the usefulness of this as we level. At level 78 however it gains a little something VERY yummy. In addition to providing a larger aggro dump it also reduces the amount of damage you take from area effect attacks by 50% for 6 seconds. That means if you learn to time it right you can continue to dps on bosses that other melee have to flee from because you are now able to mitigate half of the damage. It is LOVELY. There is even a glyph that will reduce the energy cost of this but I don't think it is that useful personally.

Level 20 grants us the wonderful opportunity to disarm with Dismantle. I remember when I first read this on Beta. The description reads that it "gives the ability to remove all weapons, shields and other equipment carried for 10 seconds." On Beta they had left out the "carried" part, so I had visions of naked Paladins and Warriors in my head for days. It lasts for 10 seconds but has a rather daunting one minute cool down. This ability can be VERY helpful for disarming bosses or certain trash mobs. Learning when to use it for best effect is key as Warriors can also disarm but all other tanks lack this ability.

Vanish, this level twenty two ability is one that is considered part of the quintessential rogue arsenal. Yeah, its buggy, yeah it has been FOREVER. Just learn to work with it. It is SUPPOSE to remove you from sight, break all movement impairing effects and place you in an improved state of stealth for 10 seconds. When it works it can wipe your aggro, free you from traps and save your life. When it doesn't...well yeah...not so much, but we don't play rogues because we like to play it safe.

Detect Traps is one that you get at level twenty four. For a long time it was largely ignored. Those of us who have played this game for FAR to long remember when it use to be an ACTIVATED ability and the lovely swirly ball. Now it is passive, only requiring you to pay attention to what is going on around you and know what various traps look like. In PvP that means Hunter's Traps but in the new Icecrown Citadel that means the Spirit Traps. Having the ability to be able to locate them so others don't accidentally sent them off is a really nice bonus gift to your raid.

At twenty six we get Cheap Shot.  This is an opening stun move that we use coming out of stealth. Word of advice,  most tanks DO NOT LIKE YOU TO USE THIS MOVE AS YOUR OPENER, use Garrote instead. However if you are tasked with keeping a particular mob "stun locked" like in the Faction Champions THIS would be where you would start out.

At level thirty we get Disarm Trap which allows us to then neutralize the traps we have been able to see for the past six levels. This was a long underutilized ability outside of PvP. Not since Blackwing Lair have we seen it truly needed. Now in Icecrown Citadel Raid Leaders will again be calling for rogues to Disarm Spirit Traps so they can avoid the statues, giving raids more time to progress deeper into the Citadel. In that particular case our disarms stay in effect for one hour giving plenty of time to clear a wing and then avoid it completely using the transporters.

The other key move we obtain at level thirty is Kidney Shot. This stunning move gains its power from our combo points. The more points you have when you use it the longer the duration of the stun. This ability can be further augmented by placing talent points into the Assassination Tree's Improved Kidney Shot.

At level thirty four we get Blind. This ability has changed quite a bit over the years from when we were required to keep stacks of Blinding Powder to now where the assumption is we take whatever we find and toss it. (Like dirt and snow.) It has also changed from a Poison type ability to a Physical one. What that means is that while it can no longer be dispelled it CAN be resisted. Our Hit Rating ALSO effects this ability. Blind (when it works) will disorient the target for about 10 seconds unless something happens to disrupt it, giving you the opportunity to heal, get away or allow a tank to pick up. Blind is also part of the "Stun lock" arsenal which includes Cheap Shot, Gouge, Kidney Shot and Blind. It does have a 3 minute cool down so you want to use it wisely.

Level Sixty Six gives us one of my FAVORITE rogue abilities, Cloak of Shadows. This is another ability that has changed quite a bit since it was first introduced. As it now stands Cloak of Shadows is available to ALL rogues via their trainers and will grant the ability to instantly remove all existing harmful spell effects as well as increase your chance to resist all spells by 90% for 5 seconds. It does not however remove any effect that prevents you from using Cloak of Shadows in the first place (like a disorienting effect.) It's biggest weakness is against damage over time effects as it doesn't always remove those or bleed effects. Still against things like poisons and AOE damage is very effective especially since the cool down is only a minute and a half. This ability can be made even more powerful with a Glyph which decreases the amount of PHYSICAL damage you take by 40% when used as well.

Things stay pretty quiet for a while until level seventy five. It is then you will get your hands on an ability that can make or break how you interact with your tank and healers, Tricks of the Trade. Don't underestimate this ability, it is a LIFE SAVER. Put this on your tank who is struggling with aggro then fan of knives all the mobs right to him. I have this move macroed in before I do a blade furry/killing spree combo to go directly to the tank just to offset the aggro generated. For the small cost of 15 energy you can save yourself a lot of frustration. While it CAN be used as a pulling tool it is MUCH better to use this as a way to help your tank build and maintain aggro. You may find that the 30 second cool down will not allow you to use it EVERY pull so just learn to use it when it is MOST effective and your newbie tanks will bless you for it.

Now I have mentioned a variety of options here that you won't necessarily want to do or even have access to. (Not all of us are Level 80 Rogues sporting Tier 9 or 10 gear who enjoy raiding.) The idea was to share with you the tools we have and when we gain access to them, so that no matter where we are or what we are doing we are aware of all the options we have available to offer our group mates. (Granted some will never give us the CHANCE to show them our skills but that doesn't mean we can't develop them.)

There are a few additional things to keep in mind as well.

- Always attempt to fight from BEHIND the target when applicable to avoid cone, and cleave effects.
- Keep stock piles of food, bandages and healing potions on yourself at all times.
- Restock your poisons at regular intervals so you don't run out and keep small amounts of even infrequently used poisons on you "just in case"
- Never be afraid to ask questions, sure they may blow you off but better to risk looking foolish and get the information you need than keep silent and not improve.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hot Fix Nerfs

Today when I got on to do my daily dungeon for my Frost Badges I finished my run and did a quick check of my Recount as usual. I about fell out of my chair...what happened to my dps? Granted I was running with out any buffs but it shouldn't have been THAT low.

Tonight for my husband's Birthday run he decided to he wanted to do Black Temple so we 15 manned it. Again I finish the run, looked at the numbers and almost cry...WHAT HAPPENED?!?! I check and find THIS lovely piece of information:
As many of you have suspected, we think rogue damage is too high. We will be making hotfixes to lower the maximum damage output of Assassination and Combat rogues. The Combat nerf will be slight. Both specs should still do just fine on damage meters (assuming skill, gear etc.) but shouldn't be beating out other specs to such a large degree.
The thing that bothers me the most is this post was made AFTER the Hot fix had ALREADY been implemented.  At least the one regarding the rogues. If they are going to Nerf us at LEAST have the decency to TELL us about it. Not AFTER the fact.

So what all got nerfed?

  • The base damage bonus from Hunger for Blood has been reduced from 10% to 5%.

  • The bonus damage rogues gain from attack power for poisons has been decreased. This applies to Instant Poison, Deadly Poison, and Wound Poison.
The only NICE thing we got out of this hot fix was that Stealthed rogues should no longer trigger traps in Ice Crown Citadel from long range and that is a debatable as one of my FAVORITE jobs in ICC was to break the traps. With Cloak of shadows I could just wipe the aoe and sprint away so the tanks could pick up the Statues.

My guess is this change is going to force us to be looking at Agility again over Attack Power...yet ANOTHER re gem....come on guys this is getting stinking EXPENSIVE and I have access to free gems via PvP. But complete regems every week is ridiculous. I am not a big one on QQing and I will leave it to the experts at EJ's to figure out all the math but even I can see this is going to be causing us some head aches.

Know Your Rogue Lore: Galkara the Assassin

Wandering about the Underbelly of Dalaran is our Lore figure for today. Galkara the Assassin, is a member of the infamous Dalaran Player NPC's.  A rather extensive group representing every class for both the Horde and the Alliance on the streets of Dalaran.The idea behind these guys is that they dress and walk around in a similar manner of the average player.

An Orc Rogue, Galkara represents Arena when it first began. She is dressed in the easily obtainable Opportunist set but carries no weapons. (With her name one would expect daggers, though for the time she represents many used Maces). This was the gear many Rogues wore when they first ventured into the Arenas at level 70. However Galkara has an inside deal somewhere which has allowed her to also optain a matching pair of boots and belt which are not available to players.

She is most frequently spotted at the Alchemist Cinesra purchasing poisons before she heads down to the Arena of Wills to see the Vendors there, at that point she will head up towards Krasus' Landing then disappear as she is called into an arena battle. She can also be spotted coming from the inner room at the Cantrips and Crows Inn then making her way around the Arena of Wills before disappearing. Unlike the majority of the other Dalarn Player NPCs Galkara is never found above ground. Like the rogue she is her home is in the lower levels and the shadows as she works her way up the Arena rankings.

Many have been filled with curiosity about her but she doesn't have time to stop and chat. You can't even get information about who her partners are or in which brackets she is competing. Perhaps she is only just participating in practice ones. At this point we may never know as she again fades away.

Extreamly Messy yet successful Runs

Lets just set the stage here for what all has been happening so far. Our Healing Lead's Daughter is getting married this weekend so she has been busy all week. IF she manages to make a raid is she often late so the rest of the raid leads just look to see if we have enough healers. We have no clue about specs, abilities, etc like she does. It just isn't our job, oh we have a GENERAL idea, but that is about it.

In addition to this we tend to do all of our Alt and quest runs earlier in the week then our progression runs later, this just works better for our guild membership. Tuesday's are usually our "Weekly Quest" night, Wednesdays is "Dragon Night" (We go kill all the Dragons from Onyxia through to Malygos.) This leaves Thursdays for TOC and Fridays for ICC.

So this week the raid boss quest was Instructor Rezuvious. Lets be honest here, how long has it been since the vast majority of us set foot inside Naxxramas beyond heading up to Sapphiron? We had 25 people on. The debate was, do we just run 10 mans, (since we were planning on doing a bunch of alt runs ANYWAY) or do one big 25 man THEN do the Alt 10 mans. We had two priests so we decided to just do the 25 man.

Our secondary healing lead looked at all the healers (we had 6 INCLUDING the priests) and said "Great! with all these healers I can go Boomkin." We had to remind him that two of them would not be healing but mind controling bringing that total back down to four healers. So rather disappointed he remained a tree.

The tanks decided to take the entire first floor in one pull. This was fine other than the occasional whirl winding warrior who would break loose to go wade his way toward a mage. We managed to clear it all with only a couple of deaths. The majority of us knew the instance well, even if we were a tad rusty and even our brand new level 80 who was raiding for the very first time in his LIFE was over geared for it.

We headed down to the second floor where the tanks picked up the Trash and we cleared up to the Boss easily. This is when the trouble began. By this time the tanks were getting cocky and wondering if they were geared enough to Tank Razuvious on thier own and ignore the use of the adds completely. (They always hated having to rely on the priests anyway).

One of the priests suddenly realized he was only one of a PAIR and was going to need to Mind Control. He then began to have second thoughts about the whole idea of doing this in 25 man after such an extended break and attempted to talk someone ELSE into bringing THEIR priest in to do it instead.

Our temporary healing lead had gone off to hide when the tanks started their delusions of grandeur talk declaring loudly that he refused to be turned into kindling on their behalf. This confused the other healing druid and we suddenly saw a tree start down the ramp headed straight for Razuvious.

The boss is pulled.

Our newbie, never has done a raid before in his LIFE does the only logical thing. He yells "RUN!!!" over vent....half the dps go with him. The priests scramble and manage to pick up two of the Understudies as they run past in pursuit of the fleeing dps. The Tanks, thinking to save the healers start beating on Razuvious but the priests have got him under control, soon they are just dpsing away along with the few dps that remain. Eventually the Understudies decide the cowardly dps are no fun and the arena. That's right they completely ignored the fight going on and raced back to their target dummies to get some more practice.  By this time I am yelling at my dps to get their sorry butts back down there and kill the boss. Sheepishly they all return.

It isn't until Razuvious is at 35% that is other two students get a clue that they have been missing out on the fun. Finally they decided to join us with the tanks picking them up allowing the priests to pull Razuvious back towards the arena and away from the patting Death Knights.

Razuvious goes down as do the students and we explain to our Newbie that this is how NOT to do a raid fight. We all also lament the fact that NO ONE had recorded it.

Then last night we headed into Onyxia. This time our healing lead is up to her eyebrows in wedding stuff. She is THERE...kind of. She is on the phone with her daughter. So while she can keep the main tank alive, she is paying absolutely no attention at all to the rest of the healers in the group. She doesn't even know who all we have with us.

So the raid leader just counts healers, two priests, two Paladins and a Shaman, what could be wrong with that? Off he goes. BOTH of the Priests were Discipline spec. Yep, that's right, we headed into Ony with only ONE healer that could heal multiple targets. In addition to that we were melee heavy. Our secondary healing lead had been on his Mage to try to balance out the melee issue. Once she realized what the issue was and had him switch back to his druid, Success!!

There is nothing more frustrating that wiping on stuff you have on farm....only to find that it is due to simple over site on your part because you are SO use to individuals taking care of certain aspects of a raid you failed to take the time to consider that they are not there to do it. So I think I am going to have to make a special effort this week to make sure that Schaikera knows how much I appreciate her.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rep: Warsong Offensive

Last week we looked at the Alliance Expedition this week we are going to look at its Horde counter part the Warsong Offensive.  Lead by the controversial Garrosh Hellscream this branch of the Warsong Clans original objective was to gain a foothold and establish strongholds in Northrend in order for the Horde to advance their fight against the scourge. This would later change. This is a faction that is fighting tooth and nail every step of the way as it progresses across Northrend just to survive let alone achieve its objective.

When the Horde arrived in the Borean Tundra it was to find that the Alliance had already claimed the only harbor for their own. This forced them to locate their own fortress further down the coast. Warsong Hold, the main base of operations for the Warsong Offensive was plagued with difficulties from the onset not the least of which being their continued struggle with supplies. Garrosh is of the opinion that simply removing the Alliance will solve all the problems while his more experienced Co Commander High Overlord Varok Saurfang has made it quite clear he will remove GARROSH if the need arises rather than revisit the failures of the past. Tension within the command structure is common in this faction and players will quickly become aware of it as they journey along the quest hubs.

The Warsong Offensive also works closely with a second member of the Horde Expedition, The Taunka. I am not going to go into detail about these cousins to the Tauren at this time other than to say that it is the Warsong Offensive that is responsible for rediscovering them and Garrosh specifically for encouraging pursuing their recruitment into the Horde forces.

The tensions between the Horde and the Alliance are the least in Dragonblight, more due to their separation than true cooperation. With the Alliance focused more on Naxramas and the Horde on Azjol-Nerub the areas of conflict are minimal between the two factions. This of course completely dissolves after the events at Wrathgate. From that point on it is open warfare.

The leadership tensions are also at there most dramatic when Horde players head into Grizzly Hills shortly after and encounter the Sisters Krenna and Gorgonna. Here not only are you dealing with the conflict over the zone but a leader who cares not one wit about you as a trooper. Even going so far as ignoring vital information since it is not part of her personal agenda. The final showdown is one few players will want to miss.

From there players have a choice as to wither they will go into Icecrown or Stormpeaks. The play experience is very different as is the lore.

In Icecrown Horde players will find themselves chasing down the Zeplin Orgrim Hammer as they combat not only the scourge but the Alliance as well. A sharp contrast to the Argent Crusade's call for unity at the tournament close by. Some of the individuals you will find on the Orgrim Hammer like the Death Knight Kolitra Deathweaver of the Knights of the Ebon Blade are a good representation of both the internal conflict as well as the conflict of interest some players may have while questing. Those who have read the recent release World of Warcraft: Death Knight will be more aware of  Kolitra's close relationship with his Alliance counterpart Thassarian.

In Stormpeaks on the other hand Horde players are facing a completely different issue. This zone is almost all about history. Here Horde players encounter the intrepid Brann Bronzebeard for the first time along with the Horde version Xarantaur the Witness.  If you are a Lore nut don't skip the quests in this zone but as for reputation gaining quests there are really not that many of them at the two quest hubs located here.

One of the largest changes to effect this faction took place in patch 3.1. when this faction became the Command force for the Horde in the Stand of the Ancients Battleground. Another was in Patch 3.3 when players we able to begin gaining reputation with this faction by killing mobs and bosses in level 80 dungeons.

Over all this is a fairly easy faction to gain reputation with in that it has a total of 145 reputation granting quests over five zones and seven quest hubs. Of those 145, nine are repeatable daily pvp quests. Four in Grizzly Hills and Five in Icecrown.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is the New LFG Destroying Guilds?

In the Ghost Town that was guild chat just after the new Dungeon finder system went live a quite a solemn conversation took place.

"Where is everyone?"
"Running Pugs. Need achievements, want the pet."
"...Isn't anyone going to TALK to each other anymore?"
"...Hop on Vent."

So that is what we did. Despite being more raiding focused now our guilds roots are in the social and that still effects our interactions even today. The majority of us LIKE to spend time with each other. We role play in Guild chat and on vent. We tease and joke with each other. Over all we try to remember that World of Warcraft is a GAME not a second Job and should be treated as such.

So when the New Dungeon Finder system hit and our once active guild chat turned barren there was quite a bit of concern on the part of some. As a good many of us are over achievers, taking the opportunity to work on not just our MAINS but long neglected alts and get THEM up to speed became a driving goal.This ment that fewer and fewer individuals were available for "guild" runs.

Having played this game for over four years I tried to reassure everyone that we just needed to let the "fad" stage happen. Sure things would be a little quiet for a bit but no it wouldn't STAY that way. We also as guild leadership made sure that there were still guild EVENTS taking place even over the holidays that we knew would bring guild members together. Our annual Secret Santa event, raids, Christmas Party, etc all of them helped to contribute to a continued sense of connection even while we were running separate dungeons.

We also encouraged people to get on vent and chat with each other. With the hectic pace of most instances in this day of the "over geared" run, few actually have the TIME to type out a comment let alone attempt to hold a conversation. How can you accomplish this? All it takes a is a co conspirator. For us three on vent with a "Miss Type" of SOME sort of funny comment in guild chat followed with "Oh talking on vent while we are pugging" would usually bring more on to join in the fun.

By this time ALL of us have funny or annoying pug stories to share. Telling them AS they happen brings a whole new feeling to the experience. It also allows you to hear more POSITIVE pug stories rather than just the negative ones which are frequently all people think to share after the fact.

Now that things have somewhat died down due to many finding themselves burned out on the whole "LFG" system this is a PERFECT time to re introduce the idea of guild runs. You can do them as randoms so everyone can get the frost badges but you can avoid many of the "negatives" of pugging. Another option is to  chose specific dungeons like the new Frozen Halls dungeons or ones individuals may have achievements they still need in. The added bonus is if you CAN'T get a full group even just getting more than one to run with can help. The only negative is unless you manage to get yourself a Tank/Healer combo (something My husband and I enjoying doing) it can lengthen your que times.

By this time the vast majority of people have gotten everything they could possibly want on their mains and are running on alts or secondary specs so the que times are slowly increasing. Soon, as more wings of Ice Crown Citadel open more will drop from the ques as even the incentive of Emblems of Frost starts to erode. For the casual or guildless player this may cause more of a hardship than those in established and active guilds.

The thing to keep in mind is this system is here to stay and the popularity of this feature in usage is going to ebb and flow. I am certain once the next expansion hits the new system will again increase in activity as people begin to level at different rates than their guild mates.

What will be interesting is seeing how the proposed "Guild Ranking" system will fit into all of this. Guild Leaders just need to be proactive rather than reactive. So having a basic plan and communicating effectively with your guild will help you to weather the storm. The LFG system is NOT a guild breaker but it CAN erode on your guild cohesion if you allow it. Just a little work on your part can reap big benefits in countering it.