Friday, June 28, 2013

The Perception of Time

Have you ever had a moment when playing where everything seems to move in slow motion?  I'd imagine PvP players get that feeling a lot.  Where things just feel like they slowed down to the point where you have so much time between making decisions that you make them easier, faster and more situationally accurate.  Where your perception of time just seems skewed.  Where you get that feeling that you are "in the zone".

I wonder if anyone else ever has that feeling when playing.  I have three distinctively different experiences with the perception of time while playing.  Each seems to be predominant when playing a particular role but that does not mean it is unique to it.

Slow Motion:

I get this feeling mostly when filling the role of a damage dealer.  It usually comes at the point where I have finally "got it".  When I found that perfect comfort zone where I know when to use my cooldowns to get the maximum out of it, have mastered all the movement and mechanic moments, and the game starts to come into complete focus.  That "in the zone" moment if you will.

That is when it seems the game starts to move in slow motion.  Where I have that extra second to hit the right ability or think about it, even if I am not thinking about it.  It just begins to feel as if I have the time to think about it, a lot of time, because everything is moving in slow motion.

I have had this slow motion moment while tanking or healing but not as often as I do when filling the role of a damage dealer.  It seems to be that this is a predominantly damage dealer feeling of the passage of time for me.  Perhaps that is because that is the role I am most used to playing or the role I am most comfortable filling and thus why it feels as if I have all the time in the world to do what it is I do, shot things with arrows in the back of their head.

Quick Passage:

Although I first started healing in wrath it wasn't until cataclysm that I first experienced the quick passage of time phenomenon.  I believe it was healing magmaw, my first healing of that expansion.  When the fight ended I felt like saying, "but it just started".  I honestly just did what I did and never even noticed the fight take place.  I was "in the zone" with my healing bars, my healing spells, and doing the dance.  I never even noticed that the fight was taking place.

I healed here and there throughout that tier only ever experiencing that once again, doing chim.  Only on those two bosses and I do not know why only them.  I thought it was just something about them that made me have that feeling.  That is until dragon soul came out and it seemed that on nearly every single fight in there I had that feeling as if I missed the entire fight.

The feeling of a quick passage of time is actually kind of nice as a healer because you are always in a fight against your mana pool and the faster you can end the fight the less likely you are to run out of mana.  I had thought, during dragon soul because I was at a nice point with my mana, that it was the reason everything felt like it was moving so fast.  No worries about mana just meant to heal, heal, heal.  But what about magmaw?  If you healed at the beginning of cataclysm you will remember it was a bit of a nightmare when it came to mana, even more so when you are a part time alt healer, so that can not be it.  It was just an "in the zone" feeling.

Slow Passage:

The slow passage of time, as in, will this fight ever end, is a feeling I get more often when I tank than with any of the other roles.  While I have had some moments like that while healing and dealing damage the times I usually get that feeling is when tanking.

When you hit that three minute cooldown and then have to wait what feels like 15 minutes for it to come back up.  It seems as if everything is taking forever to happen.  Waiting for that next big move you need to use a cooldown for and you wait, and wait, and wait, but it seems like it is never coming.  It is supposed to be cast every minute but it feels as if three minutes are passing between each one. 

This is not a slow motion feel, do not get it confused with that.  Everything feels as if it is moving at normal speed, well, except for the things you are waiting for.  Waiting for something that is normally a 6 second cooldown surely does not feel like six seconds, it feels like twenty six seconds.  Real time passage, except for the cooldowns.  That is the feeling I get when tanking most often.

In a way it does work to my advantage, it is an "in the zone" feeling even if it is quite awkward at times.  It is like you are monitoring the cooldowns on everything and being they take forever to come up you always know exactly when your cooldowns are up, when the next big hit will come, when you will be ready to do what you need to do because you are watching those timers like a hawk.  As the saying goes, it takes longer for a watched kettle to reach a boil.  Perhaps it is something like that.

The Roles We Play:

While I do not know if I am the only person that has these feelings with my perception of time I do believe I might have an idea why I perceive time as I do in these cases and it has to do more with how I view the roles.

Damage dealers feel like they are moving in slow motion because I view them as something that requires quick thinking to maximize the damage I can put out for each global.  So time slows in my mind when I am "in the zone" so I can better react and do my job.

When healing I always feel as if I am in a battle against my mana bar.  It is my job to keep health bars up while keeping my mana bar from falling too fast which would keep me from keeping the health bars up. The faster my mana goes down the more frantic my job becomes.  I am always watching bars.  Health bars, mana bars, cooldown bars, and having to make snap judgements on what is best to do and when.  It all happens at a bam, bam, bam, pace that it is like one constant fluid motion instead of a whole bunch of little ones.  Me against the mana bar and before you know it when I am "in the zone" it happens as if it were all happening at once, giving me the feeling as if there is a quick passage of time.

When I tank I think of it as my job is to do everything in my power to keep the mobs attention while I stay alive and hope the healers can do everything else that I can't in my endeavor to stay alive.  The most important things for me to know all relate to timers.  What time I need to taunt and to be sure I am available to do so.  What time the boss will do his abilities I need to watch out for.  What abilities I have to decrease that damage and when they will be back for me to use again.  How long it will it will take me to build rage, or runes, or holy power, or chi, so when I need my ability it is there.  Everything is an issue of what time it will happen and how long it will take.  So it seems as if everything time based slows down to the point were it feels like forever while waiting on it.  A watched kettle if you will.

Is This Unique:

I doubt it.  I am sure there are many people like myself who have something happen sometimes in the game that effects our perception of time.  It is just not something I hear people talk about often, if ever. 

In the end every class has the same amount of time to do a 5 minute fight.  They have 5 minutes.  For my damage dealer it seems like it is 5 minutes, but in a slow motion 5 minutes, so I can better maximize my damage.  For my healers it feels like it is two minutes, because I am frantic with keeping everyone up and that is all that matters.  With my tank I spend so much time watching timers for everything that it seems like it takes 8 minutes to do a 5 minute fight because when you are watching those seconds tick they seem to always tick a little slower.

I think it is human nature and it is not something tied to playing the game or the roles.  I just relate to them in that way because that is what I am talking about at the moment.  It is like hearing a baseball player that is on a hot streak talk about how he is "in the zone" right now and he is seeing the ball better.  He is doing well because it is like he is seeing the pitch in slow motion.

No matter what we do we are always looking to find our way "in the zone" because we always do better when we are there.  Who is to say what the good zone is however.  Is seeing things in slow motion better for everyone?  Is the feeling of fights taking forever or passing so fast a bad thing or a good thing?

I know I can not be the only person that has ever experienced some of these feelings in game.  Feelings where I know I have a skewed perception of time.  But I never think of them as a bad thing.  I always think of them as a good thing.  When I am in the middle of a fight and suddenly it seems like everything just started to move in slow motion I can't help but think... I got this.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

You Have No Business Being a Damage Dealer in ToT If...

I've been assessing my damage dealers in the 25 man as we are still trying to figure out who our remaining regulars will be.  We have 7 open spots and about 5 spots on the hub, where they are okay but they can easily be replaced.  That is nearly half the raid team.

Over all our tanking situation is okay for the most part as is the healing.  Only one of the healers is on my watch list as possibly being replaced and a second has their highs and lows and I am hoping they can smooth it out.  Our main issue is with the damage dealers.  With 2 tanks and 6 healers that means we have 17 damage dealers.  11 of those 12 spots I mentioned being an issue are the damage dealer ones.

There is a joke on my server that has been going around for a while this raid patch.  We are the only server were damage dealers think 50K DPS is good.  It is a joke that is not funny because it is true.

I will give those people on my "might be removed" list one little bit of a compliment however.  They all know how to move from the crap and when to stack when I say to and what to stack for.  But even if you are ace at mechanics if you are not doing your fair share in the damage dealing department you are going to be holding the group back.  While I would choose someone doing 50K that moves from stuff over someone doing 80K that doesn't move from stuff if the fight needs 80K I would rather 80K that moves from stuff over either of those options.

We are getting three deep each week easily now but if we want to get them done faster to get more attempts at the forth or even get the forth down, we will need some people to step it up.  Those people are for all the damage dealers.

So to put it simply, assuming they know mechanics and it is just a DPS issue, you have no business being a damage dealer in ToT if you can not pull at least 80K at a 500 item level.  I feel that is being generous.

Just look at the DPS requirements for the bosses in ToT, I believe icy veins has a nice list of them for all bosses.  They look something like this, 83K, 87K, 89K.  Do you notice a trend there?  None of those numbers is under 80K.  Actually every single requirement is over 80K.  All I ask for is 80K.

I do understand that some people I drag in at a lower item level to test them out and see what they can do.  I judge them based on the gear their have.  Like seeing a lock do nearly 70K when he was at a 463 item level.  He moved from the stuff, had everything gemmed and enchanted, had the right reforges and he followed mechanics.  So while he was doing less than 80K I really don't care.  I knew when he gets gear he will be just fine if what I saw was really how he played and not some fluke.

My issue is with that joke about my server.  We are the only server where 50K is considered good.  I had a mage finish horridon last night with 56K, I point him out because he is becoming a problem and I will soon be showing him the door, more on that later.  The damn dinosaur has a 200% buff.  Even if you were horrible throughout the entire fight doing 100K on that fight over all should be simple.  That mage, well, he was not the only one that did horrible, a few did and a few did worse.  We had a boomkin at 58K, a lock at 63K, a shadow priest at 55K, another lock at 54K and someone, don't remember who because I probably blocked it out to keep myself from raging, doing 36K.  Maybe it was a healer for all I remember, in that case, that was pretty good actually.

The thing that bothers me the most was that many of the main team have alts we would like to get some gear for.  Most of us need nothing from the first three bosses so we would like to bring them along.  But we can't.  I even had someone get upset last night when I asked him to switch to his main because we needed more DPS.  He said, and rightfully so, how come I need to switch, I am doing more than half the other people here.

He was, he will doing 80K on the doors, so surely if we had got to horridon he would have been topping 160K at least.  I said, the best way I could, they need to get better and that is not going to happen in one attempt but you already have better if you switch and that can happen in one attempt.

I also had two others switch from alts to mains to help out.  But at least both of them were doing fairly bad on their alts.  One on a hunter alt doing only 29K.  It made me want to cry.  I'll have to take that boy out and teach him that hunters don't do 29K.  It is just not supposed to happen.  The other was a 50 something DPS that switched to a 90 something DPS.  But still it was a move upwards.

It is unfair to him that he was on an alt that was doing the acceptable damage needed for the raid and was forced to switch because so many other people were doing so poorly. The others offered to switch freely, but I feel bad for him.  Felt even worse when the next two bosses dropped something that he could have used and because he was forced to switch to a character that needed nothing from there he didn't get a chance to get them for the alt he was gearing up.

In the end we had 6 people over 240K DPS and 6 people under 60K DPS when we downed horridon on the next try.  I knew we just needed a little more DPS and I was right.  So does that make me a brilliant raid leader?  Nope, it makes me a frustrated one.

How the hell do you do under 60K DPS on a damage buff fight?  Heck, how do you do under 60K in a 500 item level.  And back to what this post is titled.  I would believe any damage dealing class in the game should be able to pull over 60K on the dummies unbuffed in 500 gear, as least assuming they are not running around with a 450 weapon.  If they are, sucks to be you.  I've been there.

You have no business being a damage dealer in ToT if you can not even do 80K.

There are better players doing more in there.  Players capable of pulling at least 150K on every fight, more on the damage buff ones of course, and they do not mind covering for someone doing 80K.  Like I said, 83K or 87K is needed, so they will be glad to cover a little for people that are close, are at least 80K.  But it is unfair to make them cover for people doing 50K.  Can they do it?  Yes.  We have seen that the last few weeks.  Should they need to?  Absolutely not.

I ask for at least 80K at a 500 item level.  If you can not do that, get to a 510 item level or even a 520 item level and do your 80K.  Sure at 510 or 520 you should be doing a fair bit more, but at least be capable of doing the minimum we ask for even if your skill level means you need to over gear it to get to that minimum.  Just do it, I do not care how you do it. Meet the requirements.

We will have to continue carrying some people because we really have no option.  There are no other players out there to use.  Not in guild and not in trade.  Remember, on my server 50K is considered good.  But the added stress it puts on the other players is not fair.  As I said, we can do it, but why should we.

Gearing up someone that is worth gearing up is fine.  Carrying someone to some gear that will see that gear result in a payoff later on is how many casual guilds live.  It is what we have to do.  But carrying someone to gear that is showing no results makes the entire team weaker and make people feel used.

And on to that mage I mentioned, as the perfect example.  He was doing 50K or so when he joined the 25 man some six weeks ago at a low item level.  So he was worth some gear investment in.  He seemed to have some potential.  But 6 weeks later, 5 items won later, one of which was thunderforged, and some upgrades of his own along the way he went from his 470ish item level to a 510ish item level and he is still doing DPS in the 50s.  That is called using people.  That is called not trying.

We added new loot rules, as I mentioned in a previous post that I would be doing, to allow for more loot distribution so a few people do not win everything and we can spread the wealth.  Only downing three bosses is not horrible for a 25 man, it is still 18 possible pieces of loot.  Even if we are now to the point where some things are being disenchanted.

He won something off the first boss then rolled on the second boss for a healing trinket.  I ignored his roll.  A mage does not need a healing trinket even if it has over 1200 intellect and that would be an upgrade.  Sorry.  Not going to happen ever in my world and lets not make any mistake here, this is my raid so this is my world.

He got upset that he should have won it based on his roll but I did not give it to him.  Next up was a weapon, he rolled again, which is allowed with the new loot rules, but if someone else that did not win anything rolls, your roll gets put aside.  And someone, a few someones actually, rolled for it.  So the highest roll won it.  But his roll was higher, he should have won it.  Or so he said.  No, he should not have won it.

I explained the loot rule changes clearly before the raid, asked if there were any questions.  I explained why he could not win the healing trinket because it has an on heal proc and healers need healing trinkets, not damage dealers.  I explained that even if he had the highest roll for the weapon the reason it went to the second highest was because they had not won anything yet this week.  Then suddenly, something came up and he needed to go.  As in instantly.  The time between him typing I have to go, to leaving the raid group to logging off was nearly instant.

While it is completely possible that something did come up that is now how I perceived it.  I saw it as he was denied loot that he rightfully won, in his mind, and he got pissed and left.  I would not be surprised if he quit guild by the time I get home from work today and if he does I would be completely fine with that.  We don't need selfish players, we don't need rage quitters because things did not go their way and even more importantly, we do not need people doing 50K DPS.

Just to give you an idea how bad the lower end DPS was and why I am making such a big deal about it consider this.  We hit the enrage timer on horridon this week when we downed him.  6 people were over 240K.  Now imagine what the rest of the DPS looked like if 6 people were over 240K and we still hit the enrage timer.

Seriously, you have no business being a damage dealer in ToT if you can not pull at least 80K... on horridon, a damage buff fight.

As a side note, the person that actually won the weapon was one of the people doing over 240K.  He left because he thought he should have won it because he had the highest roll even if the loot rules were clear that if you win something you can only win a second thing if no one else needed it.  Yet he apparently thought he deserved it more because he had the highest roll, loot rules or not.  I really wonder what goes through peoples minds.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Speculating on the Future of the LFR, the CRZ and Dungeons.

There are some changes coming with the next patch and those changes might effect some of the things we have become used to, like them or not, like last tier 5 mans, the CRZ and the LFR.  I've been pondering them and figured I would do what I always do and share some of my opinions on them.

Will Flex Raiding Destroy the LFR?

If I had to make a quick jump decision I would answer, yes I hope it does.  If I were to think it out a little bit I would say, it won't but it will change the face of it as we know it now.  At least that is how I see it.

I have often said that the LFR is too hard for the average player and I stand by that.  It really is way too hard for the average player.  With the addition of flex raiding I feel it will shorten the life of the LFR for those people that are, for lack of a better term, above average.  The players that are decent in their own right but are not really great.

Those people are the heart and soul of the LFR.  They are the one that make it possible for the average player to actually finish the LFR.  I've been in some awesome groups, some great groups, some average groups and some horrible groups.  All of them however would be the exact same group, a horrible group, if you removed the above average players.

Those above average players are the ones that dictate which group you are in.  Get a group with more than 18 above average players and it is an awesome group.  13 above average players can mean it is a great group, 10 might be a good group, while 5 or 6 might only be doable.  Get to the point where there are only 1 or 2 or even 3 above average players that are not in one of the control roles and it could very well be a horrible run.

While I can still see many above average players, the ones that make the LFR possible, running the random raids I don't see them doing it as long as they are right now.  Lets just take where we are for example.  Myself and many others like me do not need anything from the LFR, have not needed anything for a very long time, but we still run it for runstones because we are not downing all 6 of those end bosses each week.  Or any in my case now that I am doing 25s and only getting 3 bosses in per week, not downing much of anything each week.  So I really have no choice but to run it.  There are a great deal of above average players in that same boat and those people are the ones that make an LFR run nice and smooth. Whenever you are in a smooth run, thank them, or yourself if you are one of them.  But what if they were gone?

Then you would have groups like I talk about sometimes.  Nightmares that seem to never end.  LFRs filled with the average player.  The average player is bad.  Really bad.

I did my LFRs last night, the last 2 looking for runestones.  Once again, if it were not for the guaranteed drop I would have gotten none again.  I swear I will never get that cloak, but that is another story.  It was nice and smooth and super fast.  I was able to get both parts done in less than an hour run time.  Even adding queue time, 8 minutes for the last part and 34 minutes for the second to last part, it still took less than 2 hours total.  My weekend runs, when those better players looking for their runestones are not there, take 2 hours just to do them while in them.  Sometimes 3 hours.  And the wait times are doubled, tripled, even quadrupled on occasion.

When flex raiding comes people will be more likely to do that to get their runestones (if there is something like that, just using it as an example).  Better gear, no queue, self assembled, any number of people, the ability to get achievements, collect quest items, and you still get valor.

Is there really a comparison to be made?  They are two different types of things.  One is randomly grouped content that becomes too hard for most while the other is assembled content that becomes easier than normal because you can communicate.

Being flex raiding does not lock you to bosses either you can actually help your buddies if you wanted to.  You ran your flex raid and downed the first 5 but on the weekend your buddies want to go but do not have a tank.  Well, you can tank, you can not get loot off the first 5, but you can help your friends down them.  Holy freaking awesome batman.  When are they adding this to the real raid.  Lock people to bosses so they can only loot them once a week.  We need that.

This means that the pug society will return.  Not saying the pug world was much better than the LFR world.  I remember assembling pug raids that took an hour plus to get going, similar to some LFR queue times.  But if you are going to wait for an hour why not wait for better gear.  I also remember joining pugs that failed on trash.  So there are bad pugs too, it is not all rosy in pug world, but at least it is assembled.

But all this is assuming the difficulty is such that a pug can do it.  The last time the pug community on my server had any decent success, or even existed, was in wrath when your worst pug would at least do 3/12, most would do 6/12 and many could do 10/12.  You would need a much better hand picked group to get a full clear which still was extremely rare on my server, but it could be done.  And either way, lets face it, if you could even do 6/12 pugs at a moments notice because pugs are always running, it would not be so bad would it?

If the new flex raids are slightly easier than 30% ICC or at least close to it then you very will might have a return to pugs running 24/7 and if that is the case then my main can get his runestones in flex, my alts can gear up through flex, and I could drag my friends that really aren't that great through flex to hopefully teach them.  Something I have tried but really can not do in the LFR unless I can get a mostly guild group to queue up for it.

Speaking of that, our guild always did weekly LFR runs.  We would test out new people there just to get to see them, gear up some alts knowing we had some mains there to cover for our doing 60K instead of more, basically bring the whole crew and have a little fun.  LFR was always easy when you had at least 15 in guild with you.

Now we have flex raid for that.  If we can get 15 together, or 18, or 12, we will just run a flex raid.  Again, better gear, just us, ability to communicate, learn, teach, and have some fun with our guild mates and perhaps a few pug friends from our server or others as we can cross server flex, and you have a winner all the way around.

So what does all this mean?

If there will be pugs running 24/7.  And flex raiding will be very pug friendly by allowing people to do the same bosses again, by being easier content for an organized, even if not great group, and it offers so much more than the LFR can in terms of gear, special loot, achievements and the such, why do the LFR?

Would this mean that only the worst of the worst will be left in the LFR after the first few weeks?  I can see the above average players still doing it those early weeks.  After all, what I always say, an upgrade is an upgrade is an upgrade.  And if the new weapon, trinket, or tier set is so good that even the LFR version is worth getting I will run all three modes, LFR, flex and normal to increase my chances of getting one of them.  But with that comes three times more likely for me to get it (or not get it knowing me) and that will shorten the time I feel I need to do the LFR.

Once I do not need anything from it I will drop it like its hot.  Just like once you do not need valor any longer you stop grinding it.  I keep myself at 3K all the time now and if I get an upgrade I use 500 on it to get my 8 extra item levels and recap my 3K instantly.  But it is human nature to try to remove the need to do things.  And if I can remove the need to do LFR like I have removed the need to valor cap, I will do so. In a heartbeat.  Heck, I have been actively avoiding it on my alts even if they do need a lot of gear from there and rep.

But I would still run flex with my friends and fellow raiders.  Flex will take the place that LFR once had.  The place where I felt I needed to do it.  Like I need to do it for runestones now.  If flex were out now and we were clearing flex I would just get my runestones there and so would anyone else that was a halfway decent player which leaves who for the LFR groups?  The average or worse, less than average, players.

If I already call the LFR too hard sometimes for the masses what do you think it will be like when the above average players have absolutely no reason to do them.  And even those people that love the LFR because it fits their raid whenever schedule, if flex raiding is anything like wrath raiding where there are pugs going 24/7 what do you think those people will choose?  A possibly very hard LFR with trolls galore or a flex raid with better rewards?  I don't think I need to tell you what my answer would be.

LFR is not going anywhere, at least for now.  But it will need to be adjusted to the new denizens that will be in it.  And if blizzard does not adapt to it fast and realize that only the worst of the worst are there, it can implode on itself and become completely worthless.

If they do not considerably lower the difficulty of the LFR I can see flex raiding destroying it.  This is of course with the hope that flex raiding is indeed easy enough for the masses and brings back the 24/7 pug community.  And with my next section it shows why I believe the return of the 24/7 pug community is possible.

Will there still be a CRZ when we get Virtual Realms?

The CRZ was added because blizzard did not want to admit they needed to merge servers.  The CRZ showed everything wrong with how it should be done.  It was quite possibly the worst addition to the game ever. 

I've always argued that if I wanted to be on a small server I should have that right.  But that was only one tiny part of why I hated the CRZ.  Server merges would have been better but it was not going to happen.  For that to happen blizzard would need to admit it was not as big as it once was.  Not like they need to, we all know that, but they wanted to save face.

So along comes server merges without using the word server merges.  Call it virtual realms.  Don't let the name deceive you.  This is not something new and interesting, it is just a server merge system without actually having to merge servers.  All this effort to save face really.

Will I complain about the same things I did with CRZ?  Nope.  Not at all and not in the slightest.  While my one big complaint was if I wanted to play on a small server I should have that right, this is difference.  CRZ was putting me with people on other servers, virtual realms are merging servers.  Sure, I do not like that I don't have my quiet rare farming world that I used to, but a merge is a merge.  I can still have a choice.  I can still move to another server that is a smaller merged server, if I choose.  I can still escape it some whereas I had no opt out from the CRZ.  So virtual realms are better already.  They will offer choice.  Sure that choice comes at the cost of a server transfer, but it is still a choice like it or not.  Now the ball is in my court should I want to move.  Not like with the CRZ when I had no choice what so ever.

Virtual realms also address a lot of the other issues I had with CRZ.  I'll go over a few.


When someone from Thrall (for example) would mine ore, it effectively gets removed from my server.  If there were people from other servers, larger ones, farming, there was less available for my server.  This meant higher prices, stress of not being able to find any resources, and competition with someone that you could not even buy it off of if you needed it. 

Now with virtual realms you are not only grouped with the realms you are with, but you share an auction house.  So if some guy from Thrall is clearing out all the silver ore and I can not find any, at least it will be on my auction house from him instead of disappearing from my servers balance. 

While the guy you are competing with is still the enemy in a sense because you want those nodes, at least what he gets is not being removed from your server.  I used to be that everyone that minded something was basically stealing it from your server for his.  He will be using it on your virtual realm or selling it on your virtual realm.  It is no longer some other server taking your stuff, so to speak.


You can not trade someone in the CRZ.  Even if you met up with someone while leveling and decided to quest with them and you each added one another to your friends list.  If some green shoulders dropped that you both hit greed on and you won and then he said, wait I can use those, you were screwed.  You could not trade the shoulders to him.  Even if you both had rights to it.  Even if you both rolled on it.  It is no longer tradable.  Another reason the CRZ sucked.  With virtual realms that other person you met from another server is actually linked to your server which means you can pass the shoulders along to him freely.  Nice.


Being you could not trade you could not buy.  Someone wanted to sell some nice BoE drop at a reasonable price.  He wanted 10K and on your server it was usually 25K on the AH.  But being he can not trade it to you, you could not put gold in the window to pay him for it.  He could not even put it on the AH for you to buy and trade it that way.  CRZ really sucked for many things and that was one of them.  Now with virtual realms you can trade or use the AH, either way, you are on the same realm effectively thanks to the server merge. 


You could meet someone while running around a CRZ and become friends with them.  Your guild could need a holy paladin and he just happens to be a holy paladin without a guild.  Sorry CRZ will not allow you to raid current content with him.  Sorry CRZ will not allow you to invite him to your guild.  Seriously, what was the use of CRZ if you could meet people, become friends with them, and then can't do anything with them?  One of the myriad of reasons that made the CRZ the worst addition to the game ever.  With virtual reams who cares if the guy is on another server.  He can tag along in the current raid or he can even join your guild.  Now if the CRZ allowed that to begin with, as it should have, there would be no need for virtual realms.

There are lots of things that will benefit from the server merge but shhhh, don't call it that.  If blizzard knew we knew what it really was they might cancel it.  They really seem to fear merging servers.  That is why they gave us the biggest pile of dog crap ever introduced to the game, the CRZ.  Because they figured it would be better to shit on their player base than to admit they needed to merge servers.

But with that in mind, with virtual servers, will CRZ still be needed?  Will they still be attempting to over populate dead zones that are only dead because there is really no reason to be there and you level through it in 30 minutes?  Come on people, zones you spend 30 minutes in do not need life, spend your time and resources on things that matter.  Not making it seem like there are 5 people in feralas instead of 2. 

If you really want to fill out those lower level areas then reduce leveling speed to a crawl again and watch the zones fill up.  That is why it always felt like they were full, because people actually spent time there.  They only seem empty because the game has changed, accept it and move on, leveling zones are fine if they are not full, the CRZ was never needed to give leveling zones life because leveling zones do not need life.

I wonder if the CRZ will go the way of the dodo once the virtual realms come out.  I doubt it because they will still want to give those leveling zones life for some odd reason, but would we really still need it?

Are dungeons really dead?

I know a great deal of people love five mans and I do in some case as well.  I can live with or without them.  I do agree with the sentiment that it felt like they were really lacking this expansion.  Having the last raid patch of the expansion come out without a three pack of new dungeons is contrary to what we have seen the last two expansions.  We have, as a community, kind of gotten used to that quick catch up mechanic that was the late expansion five mans.

People have been asking all expansion if there would be any more five man dungeons and they said no.  They went the way of the scenario this expansion for better or worse depending on who you ask.  Some love the holy trinity and others like the need for nothing special, just queue and go type of groups.  Both have their advantages of course.

But if dungeons were really dying out and losing favor with the designers we would see when the last raid patch came out wouldn't we?  The ICC 3 and the Twilight 3 show us we should have the Org 3 this expansion right?  Nope, because it does seem like 5 mans have lost their place in the hearts of the designers.

I must say I always liked those last raid patch dungeons.  They worked as the perfect catch up for my alts that had been neglected all expansion really.  I also have some fond memories of them.  Halls of reflection might have been one of the biggest tear inducing dungeons of all time but I loved getting [We're not retreating; We're advancing in a different direction] my first time in there because it has to be one of the greatest achievement names ever and it was a pretty fun race against the clock.  But for random groups, it was surely a nightmare sometimes.

Having something become part of wow culture is one thing but losing it is another.  We lost the nessingwary quest line in cataclysm and I even made a post about it.  It would be nice to think that post, in some part, helped ensure his return this expansion but perhaps it was just an oversight last expansion like the many of other things they forgot to include.

No dungeons at the end of this expansion can not be chalked up to an oversight.  It would be a clear decision on the part of the game makers to move away from five man content and to move away from the end of the expansion catch up mechanic that they were so good for.

I think not having any new 5 man dungeons at the end of this expansion might be very telling as to what we can expect the next expansion.  The possible moving away from dungeon content as the predominant catch up and random content filler to something more complete including scenarios and LFR.  But with LFR being such the joke it is and scenarios not exactly being a reasonable way to gear up because you only get a shot a decent piece of gear once a day instead of once a run means neither of them are in the position to replace dungeons.

So the removal of dungeons and no addition of anything that can take their place in the grand scheme of things makes you wonder if they really are dead.  Not adding them AND not replacing them with something else might just mean they are phasing them out completely as content for anything other than release.  And even as someone that can give or take them I think that is the wrong move.  I might not be one of the people that love them and scream to get them back but I am also not someone that is going to say don't waste your time on them and make something else.  I am perfectly neutral about them and I think abandoning them, even more so from the last raid patch, is a huge mistake.  The question is, what should we read into it.  If anything.

Bonus topic:  Random Grouping

Do you think the trend against random grouping will continue?

When the LFD was first introduced I loved the idea of it.  Even if I was in a guild, and that guild I found because of having to assemble groups by hand, I still had a hard time getting my dungeons done each day.  Most days I never did.

As anyone that played before the days of the LFD will tell you group content was time consuming to assemble for.   It was a choice to spend the day in trade or to go out and do things.  Couldn't have it both ways.  Of course in time once I made a name for myself and was getting invited to groups a little more often it did free me up to go out in the world and do stuff and still occasionally get my dungeon in.  I could just wait for a whisper while doing my dailies and if one did not come I would head back to the city and try to spam until I could find a group.  Most days I never did.  On a good week I ran my dungeon 3 times, maybe, just maybe, 4.  I don't think I ever ran my daily dungeon each day.  Ever.

Then everything become random groups.  Even raids did later on.  And the communities started to fall apart after wrath when the merged 10 and 25 man raiding into one thing and pugs stopped.  Between lack of pugs, lack of community, lack of assembly, the game started to become automated.

Log in, do random content, cap, wait for raid night.

But recently we have been seeing more and more of a push to self assembly.  It started a bit ago with rated battlegrounds and now it has extended to PvE with heroic scenarios last patch and flex raiding next patch.

I have to give blizzard some props here.  Nice work on attempting, albeit slowly, to build community again.  Adding virtual realms is also a huge step in that direction even if most people do not notice it as such.  By merging servers, oops, don't tell them I said that, they are making it possible for even what was once a small server to have more people for non-random content.  By adding flex raiding and more so the ability to do the same bosses again, they are stepping up the ability to pug.

They are making a solid push forward into returning us to where we came from, but in a better position than we were when we were there.  The days of assembled groups are returning, or might be returning, we will see.  But it is clear, at least in my mind, that blizzard is trying to let the community help itself again by adding some things to the game that will allow us to be a community again and step away from the "log in, do random content, cap, wait for raid night" that cataclysm basically became and mists expanded on at first.

With two patches in a row having content that needs to be assembled instead of randomed into, do you think this is a trend that will continue?  Do you think it is a trend that should continue?

The one thing I worry about is the absence of  random content in place of this assembled content.  They need to work a balance.  And if they had given us our 3 pack of dungeons this last raid tier and if they do make LFR a lot easier for the people that will be left in it, with those and the addition of flex raiding and server merged virtual realms, we could have the perfect balance of community and ease all in one nice bundle.

The balance is close to where I think it would be perfect but at the moment they are pushing assembled content so hard as the flex raiding and virtual realms support it, that they are forgetting the random content completely.  How long do you think they will push it and how much should they before it is too much?  That is something worth thinking about.

Either way, I am looking forward to once again trying to develop into a community again.  I guess it is time for me to shrug off my anti-social tendencies and once again enter the world so to speak.  It has been so long since I only ran with guild or in random content.  I don't even know if I remember how to pug in trade like I used to do every single day of my gaming life before the introduction of the LFD. Well hello there community, welcome back.  I've missed you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I've An Issue With Item Level

While it is one underlining issue it manifests itself in a myriad of ways why I believe that item level is just not a great way to judge players, at least not on its own.  A few recent events made me think about how much I dislike the item level system not because of what it does but because of how people perceive it.  Using item level as a gating system for content is fair, to an extent. 

While it might be true I could amass more damage done during the course of a fight with a 455 item level hunter than most people in 480+ gear could in the ToT LFR at least I can not get into the ToTs with a 455 item level hunter.  So that could be considered an issue in and of itself couldn't it?  So while item level is about as reasonable as any arbitrary gate could be when it comes to being easily identifiable it isn't always the best way and there really are no better ways sadly.  So that really is not one of my issues.

I think my main issue with item level is that it causes people to make false assumptions based on it.  Someone with a 526 item level surely has to be better than someone with a 504 item level right?  Someone with a 510 item level has to be ready to down some stuff in ToT if my group first started it without even one person at 500.  It is the misconception of the community, at least the one I see most, the one on my server, that makes people think their item level is proof of what they are capable of doing.  And that is where my issues start.

It is all about potential:

I have often tried to explain to people when they ask things like "what item level do I need for that" when we are doing a real raid that it is not about item level, it is about ability.  I usually get a follow up where someone says but the more gear I have the better I do.

This is right.  The more gear you have the more potential you have to do better.  It is basically a sliding scale.  If a boss needs the average raid member to pull 90K for instance, and your gear is so low that your maximum potential on a patch work fight would be 80K you are not geared for the content.  It is not an insult, it is a fact.  You do not have the potential to do the fight and at least carry your own weight.

It isn't just for damage dealers either.  A tank with more gear can take bigger hits.  A tank with better gear can avoid more hits.  A tank with better gear can do better at equal skill level than he would with less gear.  More gear increases their potential.  Healers too.  Some fights just push out too much damage and unless you can pull your own weight you are asking others to do the heavy lifting.  If you do not have the gear that would make it capable for you to pull your own it might not be a skill issue.  It might very well be a gear issue.

So item level is important.  It shows you have a higher potential than someone in lesser gear.  What you do with that potential is another part of this post however and does not belong here.  Here is about potential.

Two people with a 480 item level do not have the same potential:

This is something that starts to get to the heart of what my issue with item level really is.  People believing that all things are equal.  I'll use myself for example.  When I hit 480 on my rogue and first went into the ToT LFR I think I was pulling roughly 50K or around that if I remember correctly.  I will be the first to admit I am not very good at my rogue, but there was a reason I was that low and it was not all because of my lack of skill at being one.  I had 2 450 weapons.  If, for example, I had 2 450 rings instead of 2 450 weapons and my weapons were 483 and 489 I would have been doing 70K and not 50K.

The difference between two low weapons and two low rings would leave me at the same item level, 480, but with two completely different results of 50K vs 70K.  That is because the weight of the weapons to my performance is leaps and bound higher than that of the minor stat carrying rings.

So even saying you have a 480 item level is not exactly clear cut on what your potential would be.  While I never actually looked at the real numbers I will assure you with 100% certainty that my rogues potential with 2 450 weapons and a 483 & 489 ring would be substantially lower than that of my rogue having a 483 & 489 weapon and 2 450 rings. 

Item level is all fine and dandy for a simple gating system but it doesn't really tell of someones true potential because of the variables involved.  Lets take this hypothetical situation where someone has a mix and match of 522 and 450 pieces.  One has their main pieces, gloves, chest, shoulder, legs, head and weapon(s) at 450 and everything else at 522 vs someone that has those main pieces 522 and all the others 450.  The person with the fewer 522s thus a lower item level will have a much higher maximum potential than the person with more 522 items and a higher item level tanks to the fact of which pieces are the 522 ones.

This is part of my problem with the item level system.  It does not weight which pieces someone has better ones of appropriately and gives people, the uninformed ones at least, the false impression of what potential they should expect of someone based on item level.  In the end you can not expect 2 rogues with a 480 item level to do the same DPS when one has 2 450 weapons and one as 2 450 rings.

What item level do you need?

I swear I despise that question with a passion because there is no cut and dry answer to it.  I get it a lot these questions in the last few months when trying to fill out those last few places for the 25 man.  I'll ask in guild if anyone wants to come along and someone is bound to say, what item level do you need?

I've said a lot of different answers.  None of them were item levels unless I was really just desperate.  You really can not judge someone by item level. 

What item level would I like might be a more appropriate question.  Be at least 510 at this point in the expansion.  Is that what I need?  No.  I need someone that at least has done the fights in the LFR so it makes it easier for me to explain them.  Being I only expect to get the first three bosses down in the allotted time frame we raid I need someone that can run when they got lightning on them and not get everyone killed.  I need someone that will stack when it is time to stack and spread out when it is time to spread out.  I need someone that can hit the appropriate kill targets and interrupt when needed.  I need someone that understands the simple concept that if you are charged run into a position that the head or tail is not in the group when it charges.  I need someone that understand stack for frost bite, but not everyone, and don't stack for biting cold.  I need someone that can switch to the call target the moment I call it and not 15 seconds later.  Basically can you follow instructions, know how to play you class, and have at least the minimum working knowledge of the fights we will be doing tonight.  If so, lets roll.

It is NOT an item level.  There is no item level for a raid you walk into.  I've downed bosses with people that have a 460 item level in the group because they did mechanics right and even if their numbers were a bit lower than most they made a solid contribution and I have wiped in a group with everyone over 520 item level because people did not interrupt the damn venom priest because everyone thought it was someone elses job and did not listen to their interrupt assignments. 

Gear means nothing might be an extreme over statement because gear does mean something, but in sentiment, gear does mean nothing if you don't do mechanics.  So who cares what item level you have sometimes.

Can I just say 500 and move on?  Sure I can but there is a reason I do not do that, and that is the next problem I have with item level.

I have a 510 item level why can't I come?

Because I have run with you before.  That is about as polite as I can say it really.  Should I tell them they suck?  Yes I should.  I tend to go about it nicer than that however.  I will usually tell them I will do some heroics or the LFR with them and when they start to get better with raid awareness they might be invited to come along on the raid.

But I can do high DPS.  That is usually the follow up to me telling them they need to work on raid awareness before they can come on the real raid.  They don't grasp the concept of one person can wipe the group and it is not all about DPS.  I do not give a flying fuck if you can pull 200K plus on the first boss.  If you get lightning on you and stand in the puddle because your DPS is too important you and kill us I will kick you from the group. 

We are not a hard core guild, not by any means what so ever, but even if we are casual in our approach if you can not move when we tell you to move, even yell in vent over and over for you to move, you are not a raider and no, you can no come to our raids no matter what item level you have or what your DPS is.  You are not a raider.

And that is another item level problem.  With a 510 item level and all skilled players ToT isn't really much of an issue once you learn it.  For brand new people you might still experience some mistakes and a few wipes, I accept that, it is part of being in a casual group and having a rotating few in a 25 man.  But when you do not even have the slightest raid awareness you are not a raider even if your item level might tell you that you are. 

Item level means nothing what so ever when you suck at raiding.  No seriously.  I would rather an empty space then having you there when if you get targeted we wipe.  So it will take another 20 seconds to down the boss missing a DPS or two, I'll spend the 20 seconds more to down it and not wipe.  No thank you, your item level means nothing to me.  Keep working on it all you want but no matter how high you get your item level you will not be invited to a raid until you put as much effort into raid awareness as you do in gearing up.

I have a better item level which means I am the better player?

Call this one part jealously because I have my bad luck and call it a second part of WTF are you talking about willis. I see it all the time where people say 526 item level LF something.  As if their item level will sell them.  Perhaps to the unsuspecting person.

I've grabbed a few of these "have to post my item level as often as I possibly can even if I am not running anything because it shows everyone how awesome I am" types for a heroic scenario.  I have yet to meet one that could at least hit the standard that someone in 480 gear and skilled would be doing.

I even see people in my own guild having this mentality and I want to slap them upside the head sometimes for it.  Your item level does not make you a good player.  Being a good player makes you are good player.

One of my hunters, a 523 item level, was in an LFR with me and was saying how he is destroying the other hunter.  I inspected the other hunter and said to him, next time look before you speak, he is doing a hell of a lot better than you are.  You need to step up your game.  His reply was I am beating him by 40K.  I said, you also have him by about 40 item levels too.  He is getting the maximum out of his gear.  You just have more gear, that is why you are beating him.  He is doing exceptional, you are just doing good.

It is as if he has begin to fall back on his gear to use that as a measuring stick to show how good he is.  He is letting his gear do most of the work and beginning to slack off.  Not just him, I see it all over the place.  People in the LFR talking about how great they are when in fact they are not.

Like that one time when there was someone telling the raid how they carried them all in the LFR.  Looking at the person in all 522 or better (this was before upgrades came back) and knowing everyone else in there was barely in 502s mostly and myself on my rogue was not even 500 yet and just behind him, it made me realize how bad people really are.  Not as in how bad the others in the group were, but how bad the person leading the pack was.  In all 522s they were bragging they were #1 DPS in a LFR.  Two things came to mind.  1, in all 522 or better gear you should be pulling a hell of a lot more than 104K and 2, being you are the only geared person in here you should be #1.  It is not something to boast about, it is exactly the place you should be in.

I was in a run with a rogue doing over 300K single target, did he brag and say he was carrying the group?  Nope.  Once I saw these two elemental shaman from the same guild fighting it out both over 250K, did they say they carried the group?  Nope.  When I go with my main damage dealers from my 10 man us 5 are the top 5 with 6th usually somewhere around 90K less than our lowest but do we say we carried the group?  Nope.  Because people in better gear are supposed to be doing better.  It is not something to brag about.

But in his mind he has the better gear which means he is the better player, even if he is not, and that mentality seems to be running through the game as a whole.  It seems that people forget that in better gear you should do better.  Just because you have the gear does not mean you are better.  Like the case of the hunter in my guild that said what he said.  He was actually doing worse than the other hunter.  Your item level does not mean you are the better player, it just means you have more gear.

I don't have the gear for it?

I am a reasonable person, or at least I like to believe so.  I also think I am a fair judge of my own ability.  One night some time back we were doing a ToT run and had only one healer.  We normally three heal it but there were no other healers around.  We were up to the turtle boss and quite honestly I did not believe I had the gear or the skill to switch to heals so we could to two heal it.  Either way, I offered to switch and give it a shot.

Long story short, we did not down the boss with only 9 players and 2 of which were healers, but we kind of did prove something.  I need a lot of practice on my healer and it can be two healed. Yes, it can be two healed even with a lesser skilled and much lesser geared healer.  Each attempt we made it further.  I worked with the other healer, we had people using personals.  We basically took advantage of whatever we could and with enough attempts we pushed it about as far as we could.

I had roughly a 483 item level at the time and the other healer a quite generous 515 in comparison.  I was pushing about 65K HPS (I know not the best judge but it is to show you) and the other healer was closer to 95K.  By the end I think I was in a rhythm where I was doing close to as good as I could with my skill level and the gear I had and I thought, if only I had a little more gear it would be a breeze.  If I were at the same item level as the other healer we might have pulled it off.  We had so many sub 20% attempts but I just ran out of gas.

This proved two things, one, you can two heal tortos with two decent healers, and I would not be one of those two decent healers until I could get some gear.  However, in my gear I would be more than capable of doing it in a 3 heal group.  Gear can make a difference, but in this case I think it was more a skill issue.  A more skilled player in my same gear would have been able to get it done.  So my 483 is not exactly equal to the 483 of a more experienced and more skilled player.  They would have been able to do it if I was able to come that close.  And that brings me to the next point about why I really dislike item level.

Item level is a crutch.

The example I just gave is the perfect example of item level is a crutch.  I said, a more skilled player might have been able to do it in that situation.  But my solution was to do what?  Get more gear.  I could get better at playing my class or I could just get myself to a 515 item level like the other healer and then easily 2 heal it.

That is why item level has become such a crutch.  If only we had more DPS, we get the damage dealers more gear and their DPS will go up.  What about addressing the fact that people are working at about 50% efficiency.  If the gear they have has them capable of doing 100K fully buffed and they are doing 50%, don't just get them more gear so their DPS goes up, get them more skill so their DPS goes up.  Getting them more gear means that their 140K potential gets them to 70K but getting them more skill too means it might get them to 100K.  There is more to be gained with skill than there is with gear in many cases but gear is just the easier solution for most.

Gear, and as long as it is there, is a crutch.  It can hold you up, hold you up to the point you arrive where you do not belong.  So to speak of course.  If I could not two heal that boss at 483 and another more skilled healer could have, I don't deserve to beat that boss.  Sure if I gear up more I can do it, but that means nothing because I took the easy route.

I sometimes wish we lived in that instant gratification world were everyone had all the gear they wanted but not for the same reason other do, just because they want easy gear.  I wish we lived there because then gear could never be used an as excuse for under performing.  Too often I hear, if only I had the gear.

Yes, there will be many times you meet something that you will not mathematically be able to conquer without more gear but in many cases it is only a matter of execution.  If you were better, you could do it.  As long as there are upgrades to be had there will forever be people saying, "I could do it if I had that trinket", "if only I had that weapon I'd do more DPS", "I don't have enough stats for this, I need more gear".  But in truth, many of these cases are not really gear issues, they are skill issues.

So yes, I could use gear as a crutch and get some more so the next time I try to two heal it I can or I could do something so different and so extraordinary that no one would believe me if I told them it was possible, I could just get better.  Item level is that crutch.  That leads to the next part.

It is only easy for you because you have a better item level.

This is true actually.  What is the difference between going into ToT at item level 500 as a group or item level 520 as a group?  Roughly the same as a 10% debuff?  20% maybe?

Yes, fights become easier the more gear you get.  This goes to what ghostcrawler said when he explained how things get nerfed over time when people collect (and upgrade) gear.  The better gear you have the easier it becomes.  That is just common sense.  Yes, even GC does show some signs of common sense once in a rare while.

But this turns into the pug mentality that I once complained about when I saw someone assembling a DS pug last expansion.  Looking for people 395+ for DS normal.  Excuse me?  If I am 395+ I am doing heroic, not normal.  Or at least I should be.

People just always try to choose the path of least resistance and they think item level is the answer to anything.  Just like I saw all 395 people not get past the second boss in DS I see all 520 people not get past the second boss in ToT.

So while it might be true that the higher the item level the more you can do, it does not translate into the higher the item level the more you actually do.  There is still some sort of ability needed.  It is not all about it being easier for people with a better item level.  It should but it isn't always.

I just do not like item level.

I think I have actually completely lost focus on what I was being grumpy about but that is the net result here. I just do not like item level.  I wish there were a better way to judge a player but item level is not one of them.  Not even in the slightest and not as long as the range of top to bottom is so damn wide.  When two people in the exact same gear can give you two completely opposite results on what they do, judging people by item level alone is just not a viable way to base someones ability.  And in the case of my rogue example, when two people with the same item level and the same skill level can have two completely different results because of where that item level came from it shows that item level is really not all that.

What would you suggest being a better way?

Is there another way?

I don't think there is and don't think there ever will be.  I just really dislike that people get all hung up over item level as if that is the only deciding factor on what they are capable of doing.  If I hear one more person ask "what item level do I need" when I am looking for people for my 25s I am going to shoot someone.  Well, being I am a hunter and shoot people all the time that doesn't mean much, but you get the idea.  I really hate this item level society sometimes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Random Thoughts

- I tried to enter some LFRs again this weekend after two weekends off from attempting them on alts.

- I was quickly reminded, painfully, why I don't do them on weekends.

- Almost 200 gold on repair bills.

- Before we even got to the first boss.

- I think it warrants me saying this again at risk of sounding like a broken record.

- The LFR is too hard for the general player base.

- Can you imagine what the ToT LFRs will be like when it is no longer current?

- Decided to play one of my healers for the first time in many months.

- Figured I should at least attempt to get a little gear even if I had not needed to use them.

- The shaman was sitting at 483 and the priest at 490.

- Got the shaman up to 493 and the priest up to 504.

- My goal is at least 510, so they could be LFR ready for the next patch, if need be.

- Will the item level be 510?

- Your guess is as good as mine, but that seems like a reasonable number to aim for.

- Even for the LFR only player 510 seems easily attainable, over time of course.

- Between 502 LFR gear, 522 valor gear, and perhaps a BoE or something off the first boss of the real raid means 510 is easy.

- Because lets face it for most servers, like my own, even beating the first boss in a pug is an achievement and there is no prayer in hell of doing horridon with 10 or 25 pug people.

- So 510 on all my alts is what my intention is.

- Oddly enough, my tank I tank ToT with is not even 510 yet.

- But it is more than ample to do the content at 507.

- Still, I think by the time the next patch comes I will be 510 as should anyone else.

- If my tank can do it where it never has run the LFRs at all and only downs a few bosses a week and that is all the valor it ever gets, then anyone can get to 510 if they actually put in some effort.

- But looking at the ability of the people in the LFR I wonder how long people can put up with it before they rally against the system and get blizzard to nerf the hell out of it.

- My nightmare this weekend, one of them at least, was the bats before tortos.

- Tanks pulled both bottom packs, died instantly.

- Next try, think they learned, well you thought wrong.

- They pull both packs, did not even warn anyone they were going, people were still coming in and buffs had not been given out yet.

- One tank goes down instantly the other shortly after.

- Next try they pull only one pack.  One tank goes down instantly and complains that no one is interrupting.  The other goes down shortly after.  We wipe again.

- Mind you, the tank complaining about no one interrupting did not interrupt once himself.

- Rule #1, if you are going to open your mouth, at least make sure you can do what you are complaining others are not doing.

- When I tank I interrupt.  It is not exactly hard.

- Almost said that in chat even if I do not often say much but I was tempted.

- Something like, how many interrupts did you do mr super star?

- You are the tank, you interrupt if you do not trust your melee to do so, and in the LFR never trust your melee to do so.

- See, simple isn't it.

- No need to say anything to him, he drops, more come, more drop.

- After tanks drop and tanks come we wipe and wipe and wipe.

- On the freaking bats.

- We go through 7 tanks, yes, 7 tanks.

- Not a one of them has a freaking clue how to interrupt.

- Out best attempt was when they finally decided to pull only one side and at that we still wiped.

- There were 2 interrupts.

- Can you guess who had one of them?

- Yeah, me.

- The other was from a guild mate I queued up with.

- That is it.

- And this, my friends, is why I say the LFR is too hard for most people.

- After countless time saying they need to be interrupted.  After countless wipes.  Still no one interrupted.

- That was the pace of that run.  Wipe wipe wipe.

- I should have dropped the second we wiped on the bats the first time.

- Guess how long it took to finish that LFR?

- If you guess over 3 hours, here is a cookie, you win.

- I hit 90 on yet another character.

- I played one of my baby hunters for the first time in ages.

- The one that I mentioned still had arrows in its bag since the last time I had played it.

- I got a few levels until I ran out of rest.

- Got my guild up to level 3 doing that.

- Yes, it is in my own guild.

- It is now level 40.

- What can I say, I like playing hunters.

- Almost played on my PvP server hunter this weekend.

- Then I remembered why I don't since cross realm was added.

- Doesn't mean I did not get my PvP on this weekend.

- In a fun way, on one of the role play servers I have characters on.

- I was on one of my hunters, yes another one, level 36, in theramore.

- A ?? undead DK came to put out our fire.

- I opened a can of whoop ass on him, after some emote joking around of course.

- He ran around like a mad man as my pet nibbled at the dangling flesh from his dead body and I pounded arrows into the back of his head.

- It was funny because he was not going to kill me, we were just having fun with it.

- We both eventually ran our own ways.

- See, PvP doesn't always need to be about killing.

- It could have some role play fun on a role play server.

- Where my 36 hunter chased away the ?? DK that put out our fire.

- So what would I do if he killed me you ask?

- I would just revive.

- When you flag yourself there is always a chance someone will kill you and not just have some fun like we were doing.

- No need to cry over dying in PvP on a PvE server where you have to flag yourself to make PvP happen.

- Crying because you purposely flagged yourself is about as lame as it gets.

- Did end up getting my first ever honor kill on that character later on however.

- Before my flag fell off a level 41 mage attacked me.

- I toasted his butt.

- Achievement attained [An Honorable Kill]

- I was thinking something about these virtual severs coming up.

- Those along with the 11 characters per server limit.

- If my server is joined with Thrall I can now make 11 characters on Thrall and have them join my guild.

- Effectively meaning I have 22 character on my server right?

- Now if I do that with each of the servers we are virtually connected with I could basically have all 50 characters in the same guild right?

- So why is there still a limit to how many characters we can have on the same server if we can bypass it now?

- I can't wait to see which servers are thrown together.

- It would be like the game lotto if I get my main server thrown into a server I have alts on that could use some assistance gold or bags wise.

- And will I be able to send my BoA gear to them now?

- I sure hope so.

- And will my valor of the ancients transfer over to them?

- The buff does say on "this" realm.  But if they are virtually a part of "this" realm now would they get the buff?

- All good questions if you ask me.

- All interesting things to wonder about.

- But it is just more cross realm crap, but official cross realm crap now.

- Tried to get the summer pet this weekend.

- No luck, parked a character there and kept switching to it.

- 100s of people there.

- At noon, 3 PM, 6 PM, 9 PM, midnight, 3 AM, 6 AM, 9 AM, you name it.

- Any time I was on I checked.  I logged in just to check here and there even when I was not playing.

- Always hundreds of people there, always no pet there.

- A few times I spent looking at everyone that was there and not one, repeat, not one was from my server.

- And this is one of the reasons CRZ sucks.

- I would have had the pet no problem if not for it.

- I just want to get my achievement and move on.

- I do not consider sitting there for hours on end, days on end, to be fun.

- This is blizzards idea of getting people out in the world?

- They really need to rethink that.

- Just reading chat in that zone will tell you that people do not like this kind of "content".

- One day blizzard will realize that rare is fine but making people camp like this is not.

- It is not fun, not good for the community, and something that is more frustrating than exciting.

- Perhaps if they tried to make content exciting and not boring like sitting and waiting for something to spawn, it would be more enjoyable.

- Perhaps design it as this is one pet that can escape the cage and you have to finish the fight in 5 moves or you lose it.

- That would make it a rare and make it so there were more around so everyone could at least have a chance to get it.

- It would be more exciting catching it in the timer, even if you fail a hundred time.

- Better than waiting with 100 people all complaining about spawn rates.

- I decided to try and get one of the other ones I am missing while there are hundreds of people there.

- Flew to every unborn valk spawn sight.

- There was someone standing on the spawn point of every single one, and of course, none to be found.

- If I see someone standing at a spawn point, I leave, it belongs to them, they are putting in the effort as annoying as it is.

- Its amazing that other people will sit right on top of them to try and steal it from them.

- Face it, someone beat you to the camp sight.  Move along.

- I do, you can too, it is call good form.

- But decency in a game like this, never, I kid myself to even consider people might be decent.

- Reading some of the twitter comments made by head twit in charge GC left me with the need to comment on a one of them.

- Don't you dare make heroic scenarios something you can queue for.

- If you do I will come down to blizzards head quarters and bitch slap you so hard your grandchildren that have not even been born yet will feel it.

- Well, I wouldn't really because it really does not matter that much, but you get the idea how strongly I am against it by me saying that.

- How could you even consider it?

- Do you remember what cataclysm heroics were like when you tried to add a tiny bit of difficulty to dungeons?

- Pre made group, blow through it even in 329 gear.

- Random group, wipe fest even in 380 gear.

- And heroic scenarios are harder, in design theory at least, than anything that was part of the original release of the cataclysm dungeons.

- You said yourself that hard content for random people was a mistake.

- You singled out cataclysm heroics when you said this.

- If the easier cataclysm heroics were bad random content, your own words, then why even consider making the harder heroic scenarios into the random system.

- Leave it as is.

- They are easy to assemble as you can do them with three of anything almost as long as the group is not totally mentally damaged.

- I even did one with two of my guild mates all on characters we actively suck at that just made it in with a 480 item level.

- We were so bad that none of us broke 40K.

- But we knew how to move, interrupt, plan, attack the right targets, etc.

- We cleared it no problem because we know how to play even if we sucked at the characters we were on.

- In a random, that would have been wipe city.

- In a random 20K would be considered a lot.

- Sad when I talk about us sucking that a decent player "sucking" would double what the average player could do.

- Do not make heroic scenarios into something people can queue for.

- Please, because then all we would hear is people asking for nerfs when they are fine and probably the best designed mini content difficulty wise you have made since BC.

- They are easy for over geared and skilled people, they are fun for semi geared skilled people and they are doable with badly geared but still otherwise skilled people.

- Notice a trend there.

- Skilled, something 99% of the random people you meet in game will not be.

- When making random content you can not have anything that requires skill to any degree.

- And now for a message from our sponsor, Coalition for the Decrease of LFR Difficulty (CDD).

- The LFR is too hard for the audience it is aimed at.

- After beating that dead horse lets return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

- Does it suck that I can not get a heroic scenario group for my horde characters easily?  Yes.

- Does it mean I can't get one?  No.

- It just means I would need to work chat, work guild, find a better guild, or just put in some type of effort to make a group.

- But I can do it if I really wanted to.

- As they are alts and I do not have any raiding characters horde side, I don't.

- It does not need a queue system.

- In the immortal words of marvel, 'nuff said.

- They increased leveling speed so much with that 33% reduction it has totally screwed me up.

- I had this nice and easy set pattern for leveling and it is all screwed up now.

- I had to skip so many parts of what I normally do.

- Not such a big deal for the starting zones, forest, winds and summit but for townlong and wastes it messed me up.

- I usually finish all shado-pan stuff and go to wastes after that, usually works out perfect that when I am on that last quest line I hit 89. 

- Now I had to skip stuff, lots even, and was still 89 well before I beat the sha at the end of that quest line.

- And then I hit the wastes and usually I would have 7 of the 8 paragons, 6 at least, done before I hit 90.

- I hit 90 when I finished the 3rd paragon meaning I need to do the other 5 now.

- At least at 90 I can fly which does make it easier but it really breaks the flow.

- The zones were well balanced quest progression wise, at least the 88 zone (townlong) and 89 zone (wastes) were.

- Now I have to go back and do things.

- Yes, I do not "have" to do it but I like to finish the klaxxi area and the shado-pan quests.

- I think I found a class and spec that the stat depreciation works opposite with.

- Protection paladin.

- I felt weak, squishy, and as if I was fighting against the wind early.

- Hit 88 and you normally go down.

- I hit 88 and suddenly if felt like I took a dose of steroids.

- I went from not being able to handle multiple mobs to being able to pull 5 or 6 at a time.

- I went from doing 8K DPS as a tank to doing 14K DPS as a tank, even on single target.

- Why did my stats seem to get better as a protection paladin when I hit 88?

- Maybe it was because I was finally getting back into playing one when I hit 88.

- But now I felt powerful again.

- I can't wait to finish that one off.

- All I have left is the paladin and the warrior, then I will have at least one of every class at 90.

- I'll finish it off next week.

- Wonder if the warrior will feel like the paladin because it feels weak now.

- Will it suddenly feel strong at 88.

- How odd.

- What should be next to level 90?

- After those of course.

- Or maybe between them.

- I have to finish off my herald priest.

- Want to get herald of the titans and I have a priest all set for it.

- Just need to gear it up.

- Anyone know a good site for BiS for herald?

- I looked but had no luck.

- Maybe I should compile something and put it up for everyone to see.

- A BiS for herald has to be somewhere.

- I'll leave this day saying something I don't think I touched on yet. ;)

- The LFR is too damn hard for the masses.

- Have a great day.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is the Readiness Change a Nerf or a Blessing in Disguise?

Looking at some of the upcoming hunter changes it is really easy to scream we are being nerfed yet again.  It is actually getting quite tiring having to say it over and over again.  Some buffs would be nice thank you very much.  But this next nerf, and it is a nerf, could very well end up being a blessing in disguise.  What am I talking about?  Here, take a read.

Readiness now finishes the cooldowns on Rapid Fire, Feign Death, Deterrence, Disengage, and Camouflage when activated (was all Hunter abilities with a base cooldown of less than 5 minutes).
No longer will abilities like bestial wrath be reset.  I've used to to double dip while in survival as well for an extra explosive, beast and glaive toss or to apply a second black arrow to another target, even fishing for the triple kill shot if it so worked out that way.

Not matter how you look at it, readiness gave us more buttons to press and probably one of the reasons for the bloat feeling was the readiness issue.  Not only did we have a huge array of abilities we must hit in order to get to our maximum potential but with all the priorities and timing concerns made the use of readiness part of the reason we felt extremely bloated at the front end of our rotation.  More so for beast mastery than any other spec but it did effect them all in some way.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying the change by itself is great because on paper if you think of that change alone it is not only a nerf but it is huge nerf.  One of monumental proportions.  For beast mastery it could be the difference between bursting for 600K or 400K.  That is a 1/3 damage difference and if you do not consider that huge you probably aren't one of the people that was using readiness correctly.  I do think this is more of PvP change once again but this is a change this PvE player can embrace.

I can embrace it with conditions of course.  Not just straight out.  Like I said, straight out it is a major nerf.  As in enough of a nerf that I could see many hunters riding the bench if this is not balanced elsewhere by buffing some other abilities.

And that is why I ask if this is really a blessing in disguise.  Without readiness it could be a little easier to balance the three specs.  Beast mastery got the most of out readiness, survival much less so but still some and marksmen got the least out of it.  It could be a blessing as it could be easier to get all three specs in line with one another.

It could also be a blessing in disguise because now that it does not reset offensive cooldowns (with the exception of rapid fire) it means that they can adjust our signature abilities a little higher upwards to compensate for the loss of that ability.  This would greatly boost the concept that these are indeed signature abilities.  One of the largest complaints, and rightfully so, of hunters is that our signature shots do not feel powerful enough to feel like signature shots.  However, the effect was not so huge that we would see any major boost to the signature shots, but it should mean we do seem some boost to them.

Now to see how blizzard chooses to follow this up and how long it takes them to make the appropriate adjustments.

Lets hope that the people at blizzard are not as clueless about hunters as it seems Taepsilum on the UK forums is when he says...

We just need to make sure that this isn’t one of those cases where something was so overpowered that its removal means we have to buff it somewhere else to keep everything in balance.

Is being clueless a requirement to work for blizzard?  Let me explain to him.

Yes, readiness was extremely over powered and was huge for beast mastery and helped somewhat as well with the other specs even if not as much.  Yes, removing anything that was a solid DPS boost will require adjusting something else unless you are just trying to lower over all DPS.

How could you think that removing something overpowered, your words, would not need compensation elsewhere?  Of course it would need compensation else where.  There is nothing to "make sure" about.

If you removed ascendance from a shaman don't you think you would need to compensate for it if you want to keep overall damage roughly the same?  If you doubled the rage cost of execute for a warrior don't you think you would have to compensate for it elsewhere to keep overall damage roughly the same?  If you remove something that effects DPS in a negative manner don't you think you would need to compensate for it elsewhere?

The only thing blizzard needs to "make sure" about is that they "make sure" to give some sort of adjustment to hunters elsewhere to cover for the loss.  Like I said, it would be minimal, maybe even as low as a 2% boss to our signature shots, but if they want to keep things the same, they need to adjust for the loss of an offensive cooldown.

Losing readiness for a beast master hunter would be akin to losing tigers fury or berserk to a feral druid, losing vendetta to a assassination rogue, losing arcane power to an arcane mage, losing a solid DPS boosting ability for any DPS class.

I do believe it will be a blessing in disguise because we will no longer have that moment after hitting it where we feel like "OMG! I must hit everything as fast as possible".  As long as we are compensated for the loss.  Then it is a solid change.  It is not a "must see" if we need to be adjusted.  It is a "must do" some sort of adjustment.  Don't listen to the blues that obviously do not understand that losing a DPS boosting ability might actually effect DPS.

There were a few other changes that deserve mentioning like black arrow and explosive trap no longer being on the same cooldown but explosive trap no longer triggering lock and load.  That could have a big impact on how we play.  I know it will change my survival AoE significantly.  Will I fire a black arrow now instead of an extra multi shot?  I had always fired a trap and used procs on my main focus during AoE.  Will it be worth doing a black arrow?  That is a reasonable question.

The spirit bond change is interesting as well.  While it was my skill of choice while out questing and soloing by default mostly for a long time the change from 2% to 3% per 2 seconds is actually pretty large when compared to the loss of 5% damage reduction from ironhawk.  Depending on the fights in SoO it is quite possible it also becomes my raid option of choice by default where ironhawk previously was.

Then there are some quality of life changes that I like.  No longer needing line of sight to revive a dead pet is nice.  Glyph of mend pet now having a 100% chance to cleanse our pet of anything is another nice little tidbit should you need it while soloing but has me wondering if that change was because we might be needing it or was it them just being nice to us with a little quality of life change.  Wyvern sting being increased to 40 yards, like the rest of our spells, is also another nice change.  Not like anyone would use it, but now that we lost our silencing shot option some might choose it and it is nice to see it in line with our other ranged abilities now.

Over all, as it has been since they started announcing 5.4 PTR stuff, there really isn't anything for hunters to be happy about.  But there is one bright side to that.  It is still early in the PTR and there will be a lot more changes to come and after being let down and felt nerfed, each and every time they announce anything, there is no place to go but up from here right?  Nah, they will find a way to nerf us even more.  I am sure of it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Questions & My Answers About 25s.

My efforts continue on trying to make a 25 man raiding guild on my server.  We are still dealing with not really having enough people and some of the people we have to drag along have item levels as low as the 460s.  No, I am not kidding.  But we are getting down bosses.  Yes, even horridon has met his end and so has the council.  Anyone following here will understand what a huge thing that means for my server.  A server that has only 8 currently active guilds that have defeated horridon to begin with on 10 man, not to mention none (well 1, us) in 25 man, means it is a pretty big deal for us.

While most would not consider my little endeavor as a success really as many people are over geared and many in the group have done it on 10 man, for my server it is still a big deal.  Big enough to at least be able to laugh and say we are the #1 25 man guild on our server.  Come on, do we really need to say we are the only one, let us have a moment to feel good will you.

As we are moving forward and I see the group getting closer to downing that over grown teenage mutant ninja turtle that ate too much and got stuck in the doorway soon I don't see us getting much further than that raiding only 2 hours a week.  Not to mention, I do not see us getting much further with one person at 463 item level and 6 others between 475-490.  Outside of those, the rest of the group is decently geared for the content we are trying, as in 495-510.  So much so that I and a few others went on alts we had never raided this tier with in there and we still downed three.

The last time I posted about my attempts to make a 25 man guild and feeling bad having a few people quit guild after another wipe fest on horridon a few people with more experience in 25s where nice enough to give me some advice.  I figured I would share my current thought on what I am planning and maybe if anyone wants to chime in on how they might handle things differently, they can feel free to.  I am always open to advise from those more knowledgeable than I.

So here are some of the questions that are bouncing around my mind at the moment and how I feel I am going to address them.

1) How should I handle the loot issue?

One of the beautiful things about 10 man raiding is it is easier to assemble a core group and keep it.  While I've always ran with a 13 man team for 10s with three swing people loot was never an issue.  That happens when you raid with the same people all the time.  You get a true what is best for the group society.  We all know we will all be there each week so someone else winning loot is not a problem and often people just pass on the loot to the person that needs it most because it helps the group as a whole.

With 25 man groups, even more so new ones like this one, that mentality is not there.  Everyone wants loot and there will always be people that others begin to feel don't deserve it that win it.  This can, and will, create loot drama.  When we were only downing one boss a week it was not so much of an issue but now that we are doing three and soon, hopefully, four and maybe five, more loot is dropping, more people are seeing things they need and more people are losing things to others they had never raided with before.

I know my players.  I take great pride in being able to connect with and understand everyone on my team at least a little.  Even the new players.  It might sound weird but I actually put forward an effort to get to know everyone at least to some degree.  This might sound wrong, but I feel it helps me learn how I can work them.  Who would be willing to sit to let another get a chance one week.  Who I can come at hard when they do something wrong and who needs a softer hand as well as knowing which approach I need to use to get the results I seek.

Anyone that has ever run a raid team knows there is a certain level of manipulation involved to keep egos in check and to keep things running the way you want.  As such, we might pick up on little things that others never would because we have learned to notice them.

I usually send whispers one way or another as need be.  We had a paladin tank that had always tanked horridon and never tanked adds be put on add duty.  They were not exactly what you would call excited about it but I gave them a little advise on how to do it and they did fine.  Even after one wipe we had when someone else said, maybe we need a third tank I was quick to chime in, it was not a tank issue, it was a DPS issue.  People need to down the right targets and we will be fine.  After we downed it on the next attempt I whispered her and said, you did a great job, I knew you could do it.  Something as simple as that means a hell of a lot to people.

But that is beside the point however, the point is, I can tell that some people are already starting to get frustrated when someone that is new to the guild wins something or when someone that seemingly does less wins something.  So perhaps it is time for me to think of a different loot system.  Something that will reward the regulars, or at least make them feel that way.

While no actual words were said during the raid I could feel that a few were upset when a warlock doing only 75K won a thunderforged piece that others would have wanted as well.  I could have easily enough explained why if anything he deserved it more than some others. 

I could have said he earned it as much as anyone else because he joined the guild three weeks ago and has been here all three weeks raiding with us so he is a regular.  I could have went into brutal detail that explained that in his gear his best DPS would be around 88K and for someone that stepped into his first raid ever only three weeks ago, he is making excellent progress.  I could have explained that he has made efforts outside of the raid to gear up and I have seen a huge boost not only in his performance in raid but his item level outside of it.  He might not be one of the people I would say is assured a spot, but he seems to be doing everything you would ask of a new player to earn and keep that spot by becoming a better player and trying as hard as he can.

But should I have to go through a lengthy explanation every time someone wins something that someone else believes they do not deserve?  No, I shouldn't.  I am personally of the school that if you helped us down the boss you are just as eligible for loot as the next guy.

But that will not work.  The vibes I was feeling from some on some of the wins recently show they were not happy.  I guess it will change when we are a full 25 man team but as it is we are an 18 man team that I fill in each week with random 90s that are on and basically train them to become raiders.  It is how that warlock started raiding and he has shown he can get better.  We might not have had 25 people, but we can create the rest.  And that is something I understand, but many others don't. 

Letting that lock have this 528 item level piece is just reward for the efforts he has put in the last three weeks moving from doing 45K to 75K and moving from a 460 item level to a 480 item level.  I am sure by next week, if he is lucky, he will be floating at or near 500, which it what he should have been at to start.  And that is why some people feel they are carrying him while I look at his over all performance and look at it as he has earned his keep.

I could always explain to people.  I have earned enough good will that when I say something, usually if they like it or not, people listen and respect that what I said is the way it is.  That is a very powerful tool and it should never be over used.

I am currently looking for something that doesn't exist.  At least not that I know of.  I want something that would reward the players that are there each week while not excluding the players that are new to the team.

What worries me is those last 7 spots that are really still spots I am keeping open until someone claims them by showing not only excellent attendance but excellent performance.  If those people we test always feel like they are behind because the people that have been there longer will always win, we could lose them.  Or someone like that warlock that is new to raiding but is really trying.  He has only been there for three weeks, he is putting in a huge effort, he is getting better and it is noticeable that he is, he has almost in my eyes earned his spot as a full time member of that team.  He would have never won that piece because there were people there from the beginning that would have won it.

I admit I have not looked into a lot of different loot systems, but I need to find one that will keep the people that have been with me for two years happy and people that have only been there two months feeling like they have just as much of a chance of getting loot.

So todays task for me is to give a much closer look at all the loot systems out there.  I doubt anything would work like I want it too but I do believe that soon I will need to address a situation before it really starts to arise.  And I know it will, loot issues are always issues with 25 mans, even more so 25 mans that have a few floating people.  It seems no one that has been around a while likes seeing someone that just came in a week or two ago winning something they wanted.

I am open to suggestions I could look at.

In the post raid meeting, with the ones that stayed at least, which oddly enough were the full 10 man team and only two people from the 25, when I asked about it, loot council seemed to be the most accepted.  However, being it was my 10 man there and even if we never used a loot council it worked like one, it would make sense they would like that.  So I can only take what they said with a grain of salt.

2) When should I push for 2 days or 3 hours?

Raiding once a week for two hours only lets us kill three bosses.  Perhaps soon we will be doing four in that time.  I say give it a few weeks until we can manage that.  Once the majority of lesser geared players start to catch up and the lesser skilled players start to get better, I can even see us getting five down in one night.  But we would never push much more than that.  I would say even pushing 6 with moving as fast as we can, when we get to that point that is, would be impossible or close to it.

That means that sooner or later we need to consider adding more time to our one night a week or adding more days.  There are issues to both of those.

If we add more time it means either starting earlier or lasting later.  Knowing myself and many others wake up early for work we raid late enough as it is.  So starting earlier would be the best option.  At least for me.  I am usually on 2 hours before raid time.  I could easily raid for four hours that night.  A few others are there at that time as well.  But this is a 25 and not a 10.  Getting 25 people to show up earlier will be a lot harder than getting 10 to.  Even if I bumped it up only an hour we would still have a few issues.  I know of at least three of the regular players, ones that have been with the guild for years, that would not be able to do it.  They only get home from work a half hour before raid time usually.  So moving it up an hour is out of the question.

Adding a second day seems to be the best option in my opinion.  But what second day becomes a huge question.  If I do it one day there is one healer that I know can not make it, another day and there is another healer that can not make it.  One tank can do it any day usually and I can always sub for the other tank if need be.  So my 2 tanks and 6 healers are my main concern.  The one good thing with my crew is that we have a slight over load of healers, even if they are not the best always they are there and dependable to show up.  So if I do a second night losing one of the two healers for that night is not as much of an issue as one might think.  We have a fill in.

Now to the most important thing.  Damage dealers.  It is the make and break of the game.  The better they are the easier the fights become.  We have our tanks and we have our healers.  It is the damage dealers we are short on, at least good ones.  Of the 7 people that I still have spots open for they are all in the damage dealer department.  The lock is earning one of those spots and we have a mage and another lock that have also all but secured a spot.  All three of those are just up and coming players however.  Not exactly what we are used to in our 10 man.  So not only would I need to see if those 3 fill ins could make a second night, but could I find four others as well for that second night.  Five others actually because one of the damage dealers will be switching to a healer to fill in for one of the others, no matter which night I choose.

But looking at the idea that of the 18 people I am sure that 14 can make the second day, it is not as horrible as it might sound.  3 of those 4 others I am not sure of, they might be able to make it.  Only one healer would be from that 18 that I know won't make it.

So when do I make the push to two days.  Do I wait until we are downing the turtle and need more time for the snake?  Or wait until we are downing the snake too and working at top speed and just can't move any faster?  Do I do it sooner so we can start on the turtle on day two and progress faster on it?

The thing I worry about is running into another wall.  Look at what the horridon wall did.  Caused people to quit the guild, caused drama with people saying some should not be there because their numbers were too low.  As if we had a choice about it.  Low numbers are better than no numbers, but they could just not grasp that.  It was getting stressful and I posted about it.  I felt defeated.  A wall like that sucks.

While still looking to solidify those last 7 spots, the damage dealer spots, I do not think we are in what you would call a power position for bosses 4, 5, and 6.  Or 10 man team is over powered for them, but there are not enough of them to help over power the 25 man version while we still have some weak links.

If I add a second day and we end up wiping all day to the random number generator that tortos can sometimes be it can feel very defeating to a group that finally feels good about itself because we can move thought a few bosses each week.

The thing is, everything that drops on those early bosses is still going to use.  Unlike in our 10 man when we are always disenchanting everything because either no one needs it or we do not have a class that can use it, everything that has been dropping in 25 has been used.  We have not disenchanted anything in weeks.

I am thinking that is more my signal to move forward, to push for two days.  Once things start to drop no one needs, we need to start moving further into the raid otherwise it will become boring for most.  People like having the feeling that there is something they need off a boss.  It is the reason myself and a few others bring alts for those early bosses, our mains do not need anything from them.

That is when I have to think about extending hours or adding a day.  Perhaps even both.  We could get away with adding a half hour maybe.  A half hour and a second day would turn a 2 hour a week raid team into a 5 hour a week raid team.  And that I think is something we could possibly do.  Again, knowing we still need some solid damage dealers.  But it can be done.

When, when is the question.  I am thinking another two weeks, maybe three, and then press for a second day.  But I could see an argument for switching to two nights next week.  We can do the first three with nearly no issues.  Only had 4 wipes total on the three bosses last time.  Guess where they were, I dare you. :P  So we might actually be at that point where we need that second night.  We surely are at that point where I am seriously considering it, even as early as next week.

It might be looking too far in the future and I don't really think we have the crew for it yet, but I am already pondering three nights of raiding.  I would like to see it get there at some point.

3) At what point do I start looking for particular classes or skill levels?

This would be a step in a direction I do not even think we are close to thinking about but as a raid leader I am always thinking about it.  It is a come as you are type of thing right now.  We take what we can get.  It is why we have had people with 460, 470 and 480 item levels in our groups while downing bosses.  Because we needed bodies.  Because I wanted to see who deserves a shot.  Because I wanted to see who would take the extra step forward if I gave them the shot. 

Like that warlock has.  I gave him a shot and in the three weeks since I invited him to his first ever raid every time I log in he is in some sort of LFR, he is wanting to come along on our older raids like doing last tier heroics, he is looking for people to do heroic scenarios with.  He is capping valor ASAP, he comes with his own food and flasks, he has all his addons, he can not talk on vent but makes sure he says in raid that he is there and he can hear and if you address him he responds instantly in raid chat so you know he is listening.

But when do I stop dragging people like him in.  When do I start looking for people that are already the better players and should I?

That is a huge question for me because we are a casual guild.  We are all about giving people like him a chance, about making people that want to raid into raiders, even if only in the normal mode casual sense.  We give him the opportunity to learn and play and have some fun.  If I was only looking for people with a 500 item level already he still would not be raiding with us.  Like I said, he is not great yet, but I can see his potential and his hard work.

If I move to the looking for people of a certain skill and/or gear level I effectively exclude people like him.  It means no finding that diamond in the rough and watching them become a great player.  When do I start looking for better people to fill those last spots, or can I get away with playing how we always have and tying to create raiders if we could not find them?

Then there is balance.  We have no rogues (unless I am on mine), we have no monks (unless I am on mine) and we do not really have many melee, but that is not a huge issue really.  Should I look to fill the blanks?  We have all the buffs, we have enough battle resurrections with druids, locks and DKs.  We are not even thinking that our future might one day be in heroics, we are content with just trying to get 25 people together and get down even one boss a week.  At least for now.

When, if ever, should I think about having the right classes?

Personally I don't think I ever will.  I won't recruit by class.  Maybe by role.  I would like to see a new melee with a tank off spec join, to fill the role should one of the tanks not be able to make it that night.  I would like to see another damage dealer with a quality healing off spec as well so instead of people switching characters, which is fine, they could stay on their main and someone that can do both on the same character can do both.  If you catch my drift.  It would be better for me if I did not have to switch to my druid to tank but if we had a druid that could tank, at least he could still get gear for his main while doing so while I can not because my main happens to be a hunter.

Outside of looking for a few people for those swing roles, I don't think I would ever actively recruit by class.  At least not while we are only doing normals.  Maybe some day if we ever do try to get some serious progression but that is not going to be any time soon, so it is a non issue in my mind.

I more wonder about those last damage dealer spots.  How long can we go with 4, or more, of those revolving door people doing 40K or so.  How many bosses will we get down that way?  Can we even do the 4th boss with them, I am not so sure. 

We would then be putting the pressure on the other damage dealers doing more than their fair share already to cover for them.  And that goes to the loot issue.  When you do over 200K on the first three bosses and lose two pieces you needed to two people doing under 80K on all three, when two are really like buff fights, it really sucks.  That is where my previous loot question comes from.

When do I start looking for those last slots to be filled with people that are already caught up and stop letting new people get a chance.  More so, would I be okay with that change in philosophy of promote from within.  I have always said I would rather turn a current member into a raider and teach them then just recruit someone that was good already.  But at some point that will hold us back and at some point I will need to change.  Good thing with 25 man it is not as important.  At least when we get to those last 2 damage dealer spots.  When still needing 7 I guess I can still take whoever comes.

Well, I babbled enough about nothing.  Just an exercise in typing really.  I've got a lot to think about but I guess it is better to have something to think about in a growing guild than a dying one, like most seem to be right now.  Some problems are good problems.  I guess my problems could be classified as such.