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nerdrage1So, as a guild officer I’m already irritated that no one is motivated to run scenarios or 5 mans in guild groups to boost guild coffers. So we switched off guild repairs, except for the raiders, who have been running them, on raid nights. Some no-mark, contributing nothing (even chat), “social” member pipes up for the first time ever – mid raid – asking why he doesn’t have guild repairs. Touchy subject, poor timing, bad attitude…it was a race to the eject button.

Chris won (this time!)

 

Chat(1)Chat(2)

Fleety (tank)I feel like I’ve been progressing to Garrosh very slowly. It’s taken three guilds and multiple personnel but I’m finally into the last part. It’s has been a long and tiring road.

When I first started Siege I was allowed to tank again, on and off. Every week was the same: at least ten minutes discussing tactics. Now that would be fine if they were complex or the fight was significantly harder than the LFR encounter. However, the only issues are spreading the healers out effectively and taunting after a Corrosive Blast. To be honest, it’s just so much easier covering the entire circle with three healers and Immerseus casts Corrosive Blast so infrequently there is no need to taunt immediately (as with Sha of Pride) and after one maybe two splits (DPS dependent) you only need one tank. So what needs talking about? DPS? Stay out of shit on the floor. Healing? Well, we don’t use assignments any more. Tanks? Taunt off the tank with the debuff sometime before the next cast.

When we did get to engage the boss I had the unedifying experience of managing my warriors paltry active mitigation and seeing the other tank die…from Swirl or something equally lame. A paladin tank at that! I’ve never claimed to be an A grade tank, but I do tank and I know when someone else (or myself) is simply hopeless. A paladin dying on Immerseus? Lame. Asking a Disc Priest to try to heal the two tanks. Lame. Weeks and weeks of limping progression and not getting to the Gates of Retribution. Lame.

So I was kicked from that guild for…I don’t know, something. So I cast around for another guild and found one I thought might fit the bill. In retrospect it was an error by the GM and on my part, her offering me an officer role and me accepting almost immediately after I joined. It turns out we wanted very different things from a guild. I wanted to recruit our way to Garrosh, build a friendly team, gearing on the way and putting the guild infrastructure into place around us. She seemed to place raid progress and her rush to Garrosh over the guild.

The GM wanted to reach Garrosh and start doing heroics at any price. That seems harsh, but drafting in better players, with better geared alts from other guilds doesn’t strike me as building a guild. It’s progress by PUG with all that entails. I was allowed one shot at raid leading, which went reasonably well except for being abused by some PUG numb-nuts and the guild’s seventeen year old (now main) monk tank. At Spoils I had my reforging questioned by someone who obviously knows their theorycrafting, unfortunately so do I. Patronised and mocked is not how I opt to spend a guild raid night. I have LFR for that.

SpoilsI see that they’ve reached and downed heroic Immerseus. Good for them. Do I regret leaving the guild? Not for a second. I’ve always put guild community and achieving something as a collective above progress. A lot of guilds say they do, but then their actions contradict their talk. Using a fixed ten raid team is a feature of this dissonance: we want to concentrate raid gear and experience in ten characters to maximise our potential to progress. That’s all very well, but especially in “social” guilds not everyone can attend every week, so you need another tank (or person in the raid team with a tank character / spec), at least one extra healer and an extra DPS (or two). What do these people do when they can’t raid because all the people from your team of ten, in their raid role, are available? Do they get automatically passed over in favour of your team? Or do they get counted as valuable team members and guildies and you make every effort to include them when you can? Raid with the same ten when able or accept a raid team is really up to fourteen people? Embrace equality and let anyone who wants to and has a half decent gearing to raid? Would you rather raid with your guild, even new recruits with a pretty low ilevel, or would you much rather include someone, from another guild, with their highly geared alt?

There are many approaches and many solutions to raid team filler and highly geared alts from other guilds. There are many guilds out there, all doing it slightly differently, finding one that suits you is the key. I also think GMs and officers need to be more honest (especially with themselves) and transparent about how they do actually run things. If you say you want to be fair in all things but in reality don’t want to rotate the raid team fairly, including everyone, and simply using people as filler when you have a raider out, then expect to be called on it, repeatedly. I think it’s laughable to claim you run a nice friendly guild and then when one of your officers is having a really tough time in their real life to simply demote them because they’re not online enough (and send them a text about it). I think you must either be very thick skinned and a little lacking in intelligence or a lot more shrewd, manipulative and dishonest than anyone suspected. One thing is certain you are getting some extremely bad and malicious advice whispered in your ear and I’m not the only person to say it.

ThokIn my current guild we have all the perennial guild problems. Recruitment, not always having ten raiders online on raid night, not enough tanks or healers, LOLFR raid recruits. The latter are an unfortunate bunch. 10 man raiding is designed to be challenging. To make it viable, even possible to progress smaller social guilds have learned that their are two approaches to raid progression. Either you make certain demands of your raiders or you fail. Even small, social raiding guilds require characters geared to a certain level, this level will inflate slowly across a raid tier as gear becomes more available and people with it more common. They also require voice comms and a few addons: DBM usually (and some GTFO – there’s no excuse for standing in crap ever). Of course you have to turn up regularly on raid night(s). LOLFR raiders go to Siege LFR and think “This is OK, I’ll try this with the guild on “normal” difficulty.” Either they fall at the first fence: “I don’t use addons,” or installing and using voice comms is unacceptable and usually elicits “I thought this was a ‘social’ guild?” If they actually make it to their first raid the LOLFR raiders usually cause the wipes and then whine at wiping on a progression bosses for hours. Either they leave the raid early (some convenient emergency) and / or they never sign up to raid again. Raiding is too hardcore and intense and the guild want you to jump through all these stupid hoops.

Fortunately my present guild is now through all that…again…for the time being. At the moment we have a nice, tightly knit little raid team. We have two good tanks and reasonably geared backup (yay, Fleetfoot). We have two good healers and a good off spec one and a half decent, disc, stand in, third, half healer (maybe that’s saying too much for Sakkara). DPS is pretty good. I say pretty good because my ‘lock is bottom of the metre again. I don’t mind too much as my output is adequate and I am out of practice. I’m out of practice as I’ve been tanking with Fleetfoot again. I was tanking on our breakthrough night last Wednesday. RutaBreakthrough because the team hit its stride and roared to Malkorok in three hours. Yes, I tanked Shaman with my warrior. I know I have weaknesses: using an orb and facing the tanking encounter at Norushen – I cannot keep myself alive; Malkorok: I struggle to remember where all the Arcing Smashes have been places and get the raid to safety during Breath of Y’Shaarj. However, I must be doing something right to survive seven bosses in one night (healers are probably flexing their aching fingers and weeping over their keyboards). I was the last tank alive at Shaman, yay me!

On Sunday we brushed Malkorok aside almost negligently. I had expected the Spoils of Pandaria encounter to take a little longer for our new tank to learn, I was back on Rutå and DPSing progression content again. However, two goes were all Spoils required and after three goes at Thok (and less than a line of blog space) we were ready to try Siegecrafter Blackfuse a couple of times. The biggest enemy we have to defeat now is complacency on the first six bosses and the despair from wiping early in a raid on farm content. Fingers crossed tonight will see another steady roll up to Spoils and not a stuttering struggle to Galakras. However, it’s all part of the normal progress of a small raiding guild as it discovers it character and resolve.

Breaking the Siege of Orgrimmar has not been easy, especially for guild hopping moi. Finally I think I’ve found another long term home I can sink roots into and make a decent investment in. “We’re getting closer now to being apart, I kinda knew that people right from the start.”

Spiritualized – Out of Sight

Wha…?

I can’t keep my mouth shut, it’s pathological. I genuinely can’t and I’d so like to be able to. However, knowing this about myself it’s of no surprise that from time to time (and on a reasonably regular basis) I will annoy or frustrate people. It’s the Internet, nothing in game matters does it and we aren’t exactly friends now are we? So getting abuse, even the odd bit of, out of the blue, random abuse is not all that surprising. However, am I so frightening that someone, seemingly from my days on Dragonblight (over two years back), would roll a level 1 on Vek’nilash just to send me some abuse before logging off and deleting the character? Apparently I am that terrifying, this amused me, maybe it will put a smile on your face.

Eeeeea

Meh, whateva…

36945353On a number of occasions post Wrath of the Lich King I really wanted to hold up two fingers and simply say “Fuck you Blizzard,” in an even voice with my dead eyed stare. Dragon Soul? Are you kidding me? Nefarion and Onyxia? Again? Ragnaros? Seriously? Are you bored now? Arthas, that lore giant is slain, can you not be bothered any more? What a whole new continent we didn’t know about full of Pandas? Another (almost) entirely lore-free expansion? What are you going to do next a Caverns of Time based expansion in Outland featuring the last major lore character we just defeated? “No really. Fuck you.”

44053514LOLFR is sucking the joy out of WoW. Blizzard can whine all they want about players not having to do content. “You don’t have to do the insane number of potential daily quests at the beginning of this expansion…”, “You don’t need to run LFR, Flex and ‘normal mode’ content every week.” Even if your GM is exerting as much pressure as possible for you to attain the highest ilvl possible to tackle all the new progression content. Even if you do get into a half decent raiding guild you’re going to need to be maximising your gear score because now we can invite anyone and everyone, cross realm to our guild events. If your DPS sucks because you won’t farm LOLFR you’re out for someone a friend of friend knows on another server.

Blizzard wants to realise a return on it’s investment by having all it’s players, or at least that bitch-whiny part that frequents the official forums, access all it’s content – including all that lovely elitist raid content. Why would you invest all those development man hours creating content that no one gets to see. Why not create expensive content like the Isle of Giants, Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle that no one will ever conceivably use after the next patch? Why not create raids that no one would ever consider going back into after that next content patch except you force them by making them collect irrelevant, unsatisfying, random drops to get another Legendary cloak for their alt!

Cheers Wrathion.

Cheers Wrathion.

Legendary? Legendary my arse. What is rare about gear that people do not consider any more valuable than first level of new expansion greens? “Epic”, purple gear is the new green and “legendary” orange is the new blue. To create a tier of interesting loot you need invent two more Blizzard you’ve so devalued the ones you have. When Warlords of Draenor comes out and I scoff “Legendary. There’s nothing Legendary about a cloak I could get!” and some LOLFR ‘tard tells me I’m only saying that because I didn’t get one I want to be able to answer “Oh really? Didn’t get one? I have six, my fucking bank alt has one!” I only have three so far, that’s proper fucking legendary though isn’t it?

So, bored shitless with Siege of Orgrimmar? Sadly yes and fortunately no. LOLFR farming is really sapping the joy out of it. Especially that is for poor Ruta. I’ve farmed the first six bosses to within an inch of their (multiple) lives. I’ve helped three guilds farm the buggery out of them (no, thank you). Ruta has been all the way to ThokFleety, not quite. This raid lock-out I’ve tanked…wait for it….Immerseus, Fallen Protectors, Norushen, Sha of Pride, Galakras, Iron Juggernaut, Dark Shaman, Nazgrim, Malkorok and Spoils. OK, I am not the greatest tank in EU and Fleetfoot is not the best geared. However, I really enjoyed tanking Nazgrim, which was nice as Shaman as awful. Malkorok is a nice tank fight too and I’m starting to get up to speed with the Spoils of Pandaria. I may not be the greatest tank ever but our guild lurches to 9/14 with Fleet (the furthest we’ve been with any tank) so that’ll do for me.

Another proc? In Shrine? AFK?

Another proc? In Shrine? AFK?

Sakkara (rolled in vanilla) has re-specced into Discipline for the first time ever and it’s an interesting approach. It’s a refreshing change to Holy and Restoration Druid (both of which I love). So having the opportunity to tank and heal again in guild raids (without any political, a utility role is too much power, bullshit) again is invigorating. It’s also awesome to know that at 540 I’m almost 30 ilvls and tens of K HPS ahead of an old GM. Yeah, just quietly drop out of Downfall mate, your healing was eclipsed. All I’ve ever wanted to do in guilds is help out. I love the easy DPS life of a destro ‘lock but being able to substitute tank to the full extent of guild progress or third healing when we can’t fill that slot is a fun change and a good feeling. And even though Warriors have by no means shone in this expansion I know one Blood Death Knight Fleetfoot will never be as bad as.

Jaded? Oh most certainly. Giving up on WoW? Not yet bitches.

Spiritualized – Cheapster

Maths is a wonderful thing. Well, I understand that it’s a wonderful thing, I try to stay away from it as much as I can. In the context of World of Warcraft other people have done it for me. ElitistJerks used to be the place I went for a full on maths, worked out answer. The peer reviewing of complex and napkin maths at EJs made it definite answer to how and what in terms of gear and rotation in WoW. The assumed caveat at EJ’s was always ‘subject to play style’ and we all understood that. For some of us the optimum rotation just didn’t deliver the best results because our style of playing favoured something else.

Noxxic is mostly, but (significantly) not always correct. I use Noxxic for all my alts. I wouldn’t trouble it for advice for my main. If you really want to do it right then choosing a reliable source of information is essential. Check who wrote your guide and ask yourself why you should trusted them. If they are from a top raiding guild I tend to assume they got there on merit and know their stuff and learned more from being in that rarefied environment. An excellent source for quality advice is Icy Veins. If you really want to make that advice work for you you’re going to need to download SimulationCraft and get sim-ing yourself.

Why? Well this is a simple enough concept to explain. As your gear and itemisation improves so do does the relative value of one stat compared to all the others. The accepted descriptor for this relative value is stat weight…the weight one stat has compared to another. For example the weight or important you should give to say Haste over Mastery. Stat weights fluctuate with your gear…with x amount of one stat another amount of another stat has weight y. Change the amount of either stat and their relative value (weight) changes too. You will often see stat priorities listed at places like Noxxic. In the case of Destruction Warlocks the priority is listed as:

Intellect > Hit (to cap) > Mastery > Crit = Haste

What does that mean?

1) Intellect is more valuable than Hit, Hit is more Valuable than Mastery. Crit and Haste are effectively valueless.

Incorrect.

Intellect is more valuable point for point than all other stats. Crit and Haste are less valuable point for point than Hit (before the cap), Mastery and Intellect.

Correct.

Most peoples understanding of stat weights can be summed up by 1) above. They reforge all their Crit and Haste into Mastery and call this good. What does that mean in practice? Well, check your stat priority source first. It may be that it’s calculated from current tier, heroic Best in Slot (BiS) gear. If you have that gear with those exact stats then these are the relative weights you should ascribe to your stats. If you don’t have BiS your stat weights may be quite different. Using SimulationCraft to calculate your stat weights you may find the best priority at your gear level is more like:

Intellect > Hit (to cap)> Haste > Crit > Mastery

So reforging all your Crit into Mastery will reduce your overall DPS…but by how much? This is where it’s beneficial to step away from stat sriorities and look directly at the underlying weights (and using SimulationCraft will give you stat weights). I’ve Sim-ed out my ilvl 563 warlock, these are my results:

Intellect: 1

Haste: 0.65

Mastery: 0.49

Crit: 0.56

What this means is that for my warlock with this gear, Intellect, in DPS terms, is worth 1 (these number have been normalised to Intellect, which means all other stats are expressed relative to Intellect) and 1 point of Haste is worth 0.65 of every point of Intellect. This should underline what I was saying earlier: although Crit is my weakest secondary stat every point of crit is worth 0.56 as compared to 1 point of Intellect. While crit is 10% (0.1 per point) less valuable than haste it does have value and utility. In fact I can tell you it’s precise value: 1 point of crit is worth 0.56 of every point of Intellect. At 0.49 each point of mastery is worth almost exactly half of each point of Intellect. It’s worth underlining that although my weakest stat is mastery all I can really take from this is that the perfect itemisation for warlock gear (at around my item level) is Intellect (and Stamina), Haste and Crit. However, the difference in the relative value of these secondary stats is 0.16 or 16%. While not insignificant it not an enormous difference.

Now if I want to plan an upgrade path or compare the value of two particular pieces of gear I can with a degree of precision now. I can either multiply each stat by it’s weight and add these products together to get a relative gear value and repeat this calculation with the second piece: higher number: “better gear” (in pure itemisation terms). Or I can use already available tools to generate gear lists inputting my individually generated stat weights. AskMrRobot, maxDPS and LootRank can generate lists with manual entered stat weights.

Soft caps and breakpoints make the picture slightly more murky. There are certain points at which the value of stats appears to fluctuate. With hit this is easy to describe, hit has a hard cap (which is the point at which there is no mathematical possibility to miss). After 17% (minus racial and buffs) for ranged DPS and 7.5% for melee (and Hunters) every point of hit has no value. Under the hit cap you have a mathematically possible chance to miss. With some classes, e.g. Affliction Warlocks this represents no significant effect on DPS. This is because the chance of missing is so low that the number of misses (per boss encounter) is negligible as is the time required to cast a missing spell. When weighing the amount of lost DPS (of a miss) compared to the DPS increase (from getting more ticks from DoTs), spending more itemisations points in haste, for example, rather than hit, and . With most other classes a miss is a significant loss of DPS. So each point of hit has significant value below the hit cap, in my Destruction Warlock‘s case each point of hit is worth 1.03, more than, one point of Intellect, my full stat priority is:

Hit > Intellect > Spell Power > Haste > Crit > Mastery

So one piece of gear with more hit is more value than another with less intellect? No. Or technically yes, but in practice no. If the gear has 50 intellect less it will require 49 more points of hit to better itemised. This only when considering differences purely in hit and intellect, if there are different stats and or amounts then the sum becomes more complex (again). These days with gear itemisation as it is hit is not an interesting stat and we are reforging out of it constantly since it is present on almost all gear. It is almost impossible not to surpass the hit cap, and every single point of hit above the cap adds no theoretical increase in DPS. Every point above the hit cap is wasted in the sense that if it could be changed into any other stat (even our lowest, in my warlock’s example, mastery) would mean a net DPS increase.

Certain soft caps and breakpoints exist for several classes in terms of other secondary stats, haste for example. Let’s look at my warlock again. At certain levels of haste certain DoTs tick faster and at certain higher levels tick and extra time. So the amount of DPS per cast time and duration of that damage over time spell increase: more DPS more quickly. This can translate into a not insignificant gain. What are these breakpoints…I have no idea so I need the benefit of someone else’s maths to calculate them. At 4, 247 haste Immolate gains an extra tick for Destro Warlocks. So is haste worth more at 4, 246 than it is at 4,248? No. “This means that whole “efficiency” argument (that works for the healers) isn’t justifiable for DPS casters, as we’d expect to see frequent large drops in the value of haste if this were the case. In other words: adding additional haste past a breakpoint keeps increasing your DPS by a fairly normal value…In short, if you’re really close to a breakpoint you can try to get past it, but otherwise ignore them. You should also treat very small differences between stat weights as being no difference at all.” (Binkenstein, Totemspot. Emphasis my own).

So, looking at my lil’ destro ‘lock again our stat priority is more likely better expressed in the form:

Intellect > Hit (to the cap) > Haste = Crit = Mastery

More intellect is more, which usually means that higher ilvl wins regardless of itemisation. Cap hit as a priority, then reforge out it like it has gone out of fashion. If you’re close to a theoretical haste breakpoint reforge up to it. Otherwise reforging into haste or crit will yield a negligible return, a trivial increase (hundreds of DPS in an expansion where a shaman can crit for almost 2 million DPS).

Still not convinced? Well, we can actually put numbers to this SimulationCraft also calculates DPS scale factors: the dps increase per unit stat. Intellect translates to 6.21 DPS and hit 6.37 DPS (right up to 5,100 hit rating at level 90). Haste, crit and mastery are worth 4.02, 3.49 and 3.03 DPS respectively. So when reforging my Venruki’s Venerable Sash I ‘lose’ 478 mastery, or 1448 DPS, and gain 478 haste, or 1922 DPS. A net DPS gain of, er…475-ish. Multiplied across 16 slots we’re talking about a DPS difference of around the 8000 figure. or, for my warlock averaging around 230,000 DPS (according to SimulationCraft), of about, ahem…3.5%. However, all gear is not the same. Some gear will already have the “perfect itemisation” of hit/haste or haste/crit leaving no viable reforge. Some will have mastery (our example lowest value stat) with either crit or haste and reforging to haste will yield extra DPS. If you’ve itemised carefully and had a choice of good drops chances are a large proportion of you gear is hit and your best secondary stat (in our working example haste), or your best and next best secondary stat (haste and crit in our example). So the reforging potential of your gear will most likely be less than 3.5% of your DPS.

It can be no coincidence that the very people with the most investment of time and effort in Warcraft are the raiders. The people whose commitment drives them to learn and apply the optimal rotations and maximise their potential for DPS (HPS and TPS) in terms of encounters and fight phases. These people also spend the most time theorycrafting and min- max-ing their itemisation to squeeze the best possible results from their character and character’s gear. So does all the reforging and the tyranny of MrRobot et al genuinely add up to a significant increase in encounter DPS (HPS or TPS) or do we see the improvements in play that all this commitment demonstrates?

Reforging is soon to be withdrawn from the game and I for one will not miss it. It was a bad introduction into a game whose community so rigidly thought within the fixed limits of right and wrong for the most optimal talent builds (hence the Blizzard revamp of talents). A community so inflexible and lacking in understanding it couldn’t correctly accommodate differences in play styles leading to differences in personally optimal rotations and builds. If you are not doing it the the way the theorycrafter’s have calculated to be able to deliver the most potential DPS you are doing it wrong. This in itself is poor theorycrafting.

All the tiny optimisation tweaks of reforging deliver no significant DPS gains. What they do demonstrate is someone who has correctly interpreted the current theorycrafting and will likely deliver reasonable to good levels of DPS in practice, simply because they have invested enough effort in the game to at least use tools like MrRobot. With the shift in orthodoxy from “cookie-cutter” Talent Build rigidity to itemisation and reforge tyranny in the community AskMrRobot has been used and misused more and more frequently until Blizzard have decided to jettison reforging and it’s perceived necessity altogether.

In summary my argument is very simple. AskMrRobot will not deliver significant increases in DPS. It can be useful to cap hit effectively and push to close haste breakpoints.  It is now no longer an indicator that someone knows anything about their character, or even how secondary stats work, or how to interpret priorities and weights. The following exchange between a mage and myself, recently, encapsulates the situation perfectly.

Theorycrafting failure

foresightdemotivatorWhen I get tired and frustrated with the people I play Warcraft with they’ll often say “Chill, it’s only a game.” Of course, this is right, World of Warcraft is only a game. I think, somewhat perversely, it’s usually these same people who are sniggering about your low DPS or you dying in a fight. The self same people who are quick to jump to play the “L2p” (Learn to Play) or “nice DPS for ilvl ^^” cards. These are usually the same people who have been focusing solely on the boss and not attacking any adds at all, a practice that in Throne of Thunder (Horridon, Tortos et al) became fatal.

In LFR I can sort of tolerate it because it’s clear from experience that people who access that content do so individually, with singular and selfish goals. Indeed, the content is dumbed down to allow for this non-cooperative approach. It’s within a guild environment that I find the elitism and dismissive attitude genuinely offensive.

I’ve said before that there is a guild out there for everyone. It’s true. There are more guilds, especially in the pre-expansion run up period we’re now in, than there are raiders. So there really is no need to settle and not shop around. Use guild probationary periods not to put on a show and exert yourself to get through it. Be yourself and thoroughly evaluate whether the guild you’ve joined is the right one for you.

What I look for in a guild may be very different from what you’re looking for. That’s fine and if it’s the case we should wish each other luck and go our separate ways. What I am looking for is social raiding. I want my cake and eat it. I want fun and laughter and community and I also want progression raiding. I will sacrifice some progression for building a stronger community, but ultimately I want to raid and I want to progress to new content, clear 10 man ‘normal’ and do heroics.

prioritiesdemotivatorIf that’s what you’re looking for in a guild I’ll tell you some things to look out for. Alts have always been a thorny question for social guilds. In hardcore raiding guilds you can have alts wherever you like, but on raid nights you’re on your main, progression raiding with the guild, or you’re out. In social guilds we encourage good people to come and socialise with us and maybe raid. So where a guild stands on having members, even raiders, with raiding mains in other guilds is an important choice. I’ll tell you why: conflict of interest. If you can’t come raiding with us because you’re raiding with another guild then you’re not committed to the guild. Progression raiding requires a degree of commitment and if you want to build a community that has fun and enjoys it’s raid nights, as well as a just having a raid ‘group’, then commitment is much more important.

You can either try to organise your raid nights around the available nights of people who have alts in your guild, rather than perhaps less gear and experienced raiders who have all their chars in your guild. Or you can say these are our raid nights: you are welcome to raid with you main char in this guild on our raid nights, but if it conflicts with your main char’s raiding in your main guild then you can’t raid with us unless we’re short one raider. So people can be welcomed to socialise with you, befitting your social nature, and raid when it suits you, but your priority is to your committed members. Even if they have lesser gear which might slow your progression.

This attitude moves a guild from being a successful alt guild, whose raiding is progressive but sporadic – at the whim of another guild’s schedule – to a guild that develops it’s own members and tries to build a consistent roster. I recently moved from the former, a guild with some very well geared ‘alt’ raiders who couldn’t attend every raid, they had 13/14 progression Siege of Orgrimmar. I moved to a guild that’s trying to rebuild a social raid team, after the GM and officers “moved on”, we will hopefully complete SoO together, gearing each other up on the way, we’re currently 3/14 SoO. A new proto-team – a work in progress.

It’s elitismdemotivatoroften the case that these ‘alt raiders’ come with some baggage. Their fortunes are not tied to your guild (they’ve cleared the content you’re working on now) and neither is their commitment. If your developing raid hits a wall they’ll probably fail to turn up until you overcome your current Tortos and have started free wheeling through bosses again. They’re often arrogant and dismissive of weaker members of your raid team and, given their monumental gear level and farm experience of the content you are on, that’s usually everyone. While they make your raid more progressive they also make it more hostile and aggressive. You may advance to Garrosh Hellscream but who was left behind? Once Garrosh is defeated do you feel elated or do you want to start the heroic content while most of your guild is trying to put together farm runs in normal so they might be able to join you, or moving to guilds with less progression who are interested in them as people as well a raiding ciphers and will take them with them as they progress to new content.

Ultimately the question of alts is a question about whether you’re solely interested in getting deeper into a dungeon and getting more gear or whether you’re interested in the progression of the guild. If there are several alt raiders in your guild’s raid take a look at their ilvl and the ilvl of your officers compared to the rest of the guild. What story is it telling you?

I look for a guild that is interested in building a team for the future. A guild that wants to develop the people it has, nothing is more rewarding for me than recruiting a low level player, with no max levels characters, supporting them to max level and through the gearing process and seeing them access end game content with the guild and become a valuable member of the raid team and your guild community. It beats the hell out of suffering the remarks and elitism of arrogant pricks and the dismissive attitude of, not really bothered, kids. Even if I am trying to deafest Sha and Galakras again and not Garrosh.

If you don’t really know what kind of guild you want to create it’s easy to go wrong and end up with a guild you didn’t want. I did a fast Flex run on Friday with some great guys who really know how to raid and for them a race through flex is like me roaring through a 5 man with my main. I only had a couple of stupid deaths and I also managed to post some respectable DPS, fifth on the metre overall. I guess the results are in: I can play destro, reasonably well. The guys in the fast Flex are probably the best raiders I’ve run with since Wrath and yet they prioritised fun above all. After all, World of Warcraft is just a game. We like to kill bosses, get loot, progress, but at the end of the day we game to have fun. My idea of fun is not clearing 10 man normal with pricks whose raiding mains are not even in my guild.

sacrificedemotivatorMy old guild will get Garrosh down any day now and good luck to them. They have some lovely people, but they also have an unhealthy mix of raiders fit for nothing but LFR content, who have no real concept of cooperative play and what makes raiding fun, and overgeared, arrogant…who believe everyone in that guild is a n00b because if they could actually play their class they would leave for a decent, more progressed guild. They must be having a really good laugh at me. I left for a less progressed guild, in transition, rebuilding it’s raid team. I’m much happier now and having much more fun, which in a game is what matters at the end of the day.

The Verve – Velvet Morning

I’ve been throwing out some high level guides for completing the very challenging Celestial Tournament on the Timeless Isle and overcoming the Pandaren Pet Tamers and Beast of Fable. I thought I’d offer the starting out Pet Battler some simple advice for getting a foothold in Pet Battles and getting started.

Addons

As always a small set of addon will make life simpler and some have a very high utility. If you’re concerned about addons effecting the performance of your game you should definitely install the absolutely tiny addons Ampere and Addon Switcher or something similar like Addon Control Panel so that you can load your pet addons only when you’re using them.

Pet Tracker

Map addon that shows spawn point of pets in the selected zone. You can filter by pet name or, usefully, Not Maximised – this shows all pets that you don’t have at rare (blue) quality.

PetJournal Enhanced

Simply expands the functionality of the default Pet Journal, excellent sorting options, display breed ID and is a much have for serious pet battlers.

PetBattleTeams

Creates multiple teams of three pets. Right-click to Rename and Lock team and quickly swap them in. Valuable when, for example, flying around Pandaria doing dailes. Click on the team to load it. Simple to set up, simple to use.

Collecting

Never capture a grey or white. It seems obvious but to be honest you don’t really want greens either. Sooner or later you’ll have a huge pet collection and be crawling around Azeroth all over again capturing rare upgrades. Start smart and only capture blue pets, your collection will grow a little more slowly but will be of a much higher quality. Try to capture P/P, S/S and H/H breeds if they’re available. Then you’ll have a flexible, high quality collection to be proud of.

Levelling

Ironically perhaps the best method of levelling pets is not in areas with level appropriate battles. The quickest (and simplest way) to level is in Pandaria against level 25s. My favourite spot for this is behind Mistfall Village in the Vale of Eternal Blossom in a dried up river bed. The opposition is mostly Eternal Strider like aquatics. Start with your levelling pet and try to hit the opponent then swap the leveller out for a powerful 25 next turn. As the pet gets higher and higher in level you can leave them in to fight longer until they begin finishing opponents off. The key is to get as much experience as possible and not get them killed.

Which pets you level to 25 first and how you get them there is essentially up to you. I recommend you use whatever you have available at level 1 and then make you way around the levelling zones in Azeroth increasing the level of around five pets at a time (ten if you can stand it). If you have pet’s from different families level a variety. Capture rare quality pets as you come across them, level your rares and try to level a rare pet from each family as you travel around. As you encounter the recommended pets on this list below make those one of your ten. Take a look at the pet comparison table at the extremely useful Warcraftpets.com and you’ll see why having ten pets is a good idea.

If you really have no pets buy one from a vendor or off the AH. All vendor pets are level 1 when you buy them so there’s really no reason not to start with one of your race-specific, home capital city pets:

  • Undercity Cockroach – Undead
  • Brown Prairie Dog – Tauren
  • Black Kingsnake – Orc & Troll
  • Shore Crawler – Goblin
  • Golden Dragonhawk Hatchling – Blood Elf
  • Jade Crane Chick – Pandaren
  • Blue Moth – Draenei
  • Snowshoe Rabbit – Dwarf & Gnome
  • Orange Tabby Cat – Human
  • Great Horned Owl – Night Elf
  • Gilnean Raven – Worgen

Recommended Pets

Mechanical – Lil’ Smoky [Engineering]

This is your go to Mechanical pet if you want to collect some and have a engineer knock it up for you. It requires Core of Earth, Gyrochronatom (2), Fused Wiring, Mithril Bar (2), Truesilver Bar so the pet is simple to acquire. As soon as you can lay your hands on a Mechanical or Flawless Battle Stone upgrade it to blue (a rare).

Dragonkin – Emerald Proto-Whelp [Sholazar Basin]

This little dragon hits like a train and it’s well worth acquiring a P/P (see WarcrafPets.com for more information on Breed IDs).

Beast – Venomspitter Hatchling [Stonetalon Mountains]

The Venomspitter has [Brittle Webbing] which causes opponents to damage themselves when attacking, find an H/H and this spider is difficult to beat. Later on add a Widow Spiderling [Duskwood], Twilight Spider [Twilight Highlands] or Feverbite Hatching [Krasarang Wilds] P/P for a punch packing 341 power pet.

If you’re Horde it’s almost worth rolling a human to get a Cornish Rex Cat, or grab an Auction House lot, and stone it (make it rare with a Battle Stone). It also hits for 341.

Aquatic – Aqua Strider [Dread Wastes]

The Shore Crawler from Westfall or Azshara is a good aquatic pet with massive health a great starter.

If you’re level 90 you really want to camp the small isle in the Lake of Stars, Dread Wastes, for Nalash Verdantis. When you get lucky he drops the hard-hitting 341 Aqua Strider. Otherwise get yourself a fishing rod and prepare to spend the best part of forever trying to fish up Mr. Pinchy in Terrokar Forest. Alternatively, buy the Magical Crawdad pet from the Auction House. What makes the Crawdad so good is colossal health, a massive heal and a substantial heal over time spell.

Undead – Infected Squirrel [Silverpine Forest]

This lowly squirrel features in my Pandaran Tamer and Celestial Tournament guy. He’s a very useful little guy.

Critter – Rabbit [Multiple Zones]

All rabbits (or hares) share [Burrow] with snakes (Beast) which makes them reasonably strong opponents, grab an H/P or an ultra fast S/S.

Flying – Yellow Moth [The Exodar]

This one is definitely worth rolling a Draenai for! at level 25 it delivers a massive 341 power with a P/P breed. This little moth hit’s like a truck.

Humanoid – Anubisath Idol [Ahn'Qiraj]

So good I’m sending you to farm the Ahn’Qiraj: The Fallen Kingdom raid instance for this random drop. An immense addition to your arsenal.

Elemental – Tiny Twister [Arathi Highlands]

I found this category quite difficult to fill. Tiny Twister is OK and easy to get early from Arathi.

Magic – Minfernal [Felwood]

OK this is a rare spawn and can be quite hard to get. The Netherspace Abyssal from Prince Malchezar in Karazhan might be a less frustrating farm or the Tempest Keep drop Lesser Void Walker. If you’re desperate and not getting the spawns and drops the Enchanting crafted Enchanted Lantern or Lofty Libram from the Dalaran Crater in Hillsbrad Foothills.

These ten pets will get rolling. When you encounter the level appropriate trainers as you travel Azeroth try to match you pets to the trainers. Use the Comparison Table to to pick breeds strong against the trainers if you struggle to defeat their three pets. Once you get all of these ten pets to 25 simply park yourself in Pandaria and begin levelling the pets you need to defeat the Pandaran Tamers, the Beasts of Fable and finally the Celestial Tournament. Having one decent pet in all ten families will give you a head start and make the levelling of subsequent pets easier and faster.

LFR_WIPEThe more I endure LFR the less motivated I am to continue raiding. I’m already tired of the Siege of Orgrimmar and I know I’m not on my own. Blizzard is trying to make their content more accessible for the majority of it’s player base and in this they are being successful. However, in doing so they are slowly killing their own game and reducing their own revenue.

In no longer creating content exclusively for raiders they’re reducing the motivation to accept the challenge of completing normal level raiding content. Any game needs a healthy balance of easy and accessible content and very challenging, testing content. Since vanilla WoW Blizzard struck a very nice balance of content for casual gamers and more hardcore players. However, since Cataclysm and the introduction of LFR the balance has swung the other way.

It’s no secret that subscriber levels grew all the way through vanilla and The Burning Crusade to a very healthy 11 million. This was maintained for the whole of Wrath of Lich King peaking at 12 million immediately prior to Cataclysm release. Since then the title steadily declined through Cataclysm to 9.1 million, a level they exceeded in the early months of The Burning Crusade. There was a small surge back to 10 million when Mists of Pandaria launched, but by the second quarter of 2013 subcriber numbers we back to vanilla levels of 7.7 million. When results are public for the second half of 2013 and 2014 I cannot reasonably believe that subscriptions will have gone up. Is WoW dying? No, of course not. Even if you calculate a linear decline (and assume no effort on Blizzard’s part to arrest that decline) we’re still looking to 2016/7 for no subscribers and WoW will be 13!

The best raid content ever produced? According to Blizzard‘s own surveys Naxxramas 40 is the most respected raid content Blizzard ever produced. This despite the fact that less than 3% of Warcraft players ever got to see this content. The fact that many more entered Naxxramas 10/25 in Wrath of the Lich King is immaterial, no one really rates that dungeon (despite the fact it’s exactly the same, maybe tuned down somewhat) as much as the, gone from game, 40 man version. What does that tell us?

RagnarosGamers, despite what you may believe if you read all the whining on the official forums, like a challenge. What’s more only a tiny minority (particular Americans) resent the fact that there is high-end content in game they cannot access. I still don’t understand the sense of entitlement that this minority of gamers have. If it’s in game they want it. Personally, I was awed that people were able to penetrate Naxxramas 40. I loved getting taken along to see Molten Core. I didn’t resent that I couldn’t really aspire to raid since I was unwilling to commit so much time to the game. I was excited that I was playing a game that featured that content!

When I saw a guy wearing legendary items in Shattrath one afternoon I was amazed! When I equipped my Legendary cape in Mists of Pandaria I thought it was appalling I could have earned a legendary item and it just wasn’t Legendary if I had it. I don’t think I’m on my own feeling like that.

Don’t listen when people tell you that you don’t have to run LFR and Flex. If you’re in a 10 man raiding guild you do have to! Not many people raiding every week in 10 man guilds are all that. Sorry, but that is the way things fall out. So you need every edge you can get and a good set of Flex gear to supplement your current tier normal level raid gear is absolutely essential. At the beginning of a raid tier LFR gear is also very helpful. If you’re not running LFR and Flex you’re holding your 10 man raid back, you’re slacking. Don’t want to put the work in? Sorry, the reality is that normal and heroic raiding content is not for you. There is content for you, ironically, it’s available with LFR.

karazhanLFR has only made things worse for normal mode raiding. People turn up wearing crap gear, PvP trinkets, no gems or enchants, without reforging and with no clue how to play their class. They “progress” and get gear quickly in LFR. Looking for Retards is apt, you can be a in the gamer sense, with no gear, no clue, no attention span and still get to see all of Blizzard‘s content. LFR has not resulted in providing more players interested in proper raiding either! Blizzard’s introduction of LFR has undermined 10 man raiding guilds and made life more difficult for them.

Casual gamers can log in whenever they want and get to see all of Blizzard’s raiding content. Why the hell should they join a guild; be forced to attend at fixed times on set days; learn tactics; buy a headset; have to talk on voice chat; wipe? If these casuals are interested in more challenging content they join some poor, unsuspecting raid guild. They sign up and never turn up; don’t always gem or enchant gear. They’ll listen on voice chat if you’re lucky; never watch tactics videos; and don’t want to come next week if you spent all night wiping on a progression boss. In fact if you’re wiping you’ll be lucky if they stay all night. Why should they? They’ve already seen all that content in LFR anyway.

What’s more is that the more committed raiders, like myself, who want to do challenging progression raiding are sick of seeing 14 boss raid dungeons for a whole tier. We do it three times every week for the first third of the tier and then twice thereafter. That’s only on our main, if we gear competent additional chars to cover utility tanking or healing roles that’s another couple of LFR runs every week. Our progress in Siege of Orgrimmar is 7/14, halfway, and I’m already bored. How many times have I killed Garrosh? What do I have to look forward to?

MalchezarAn increasing amount of people are feeling this way and what’s more they’re expressing this in their subscription habits. Many more people are subscribing at the beginning of an expansion, levelling to maximum, completing LFR so they’ve seen all the content and quitting the game. They cancel their subscription until the next patch and slew of new content. They’ll subscribe for long enough to experience most of it and cancel again. If any subscription model was guaranteed to kill raiding guilds, especially smaller, slower progressing, casual 10 man guild this was it Blizzard.

Where is the motivation for hardcore and 25 man raiders? There used to be some kudos and some in-game value in completing raid content, but now everyone and their pet has epic raid gear and the content is identical, the encounters cosmetically similar and the gear even looks the same. No one cares if the gear is LFR or 25 man heroic when it looks the same.

Warcraft has always needed, and now more than ever, a healthy balance of content for the casual and the hardcore. Make content that really is difficult to access, and not just one extra boss in heroic mode raids. How about entire raid instances that only the best (or more persistent) raiders will ever reach. How about some aspirational content? How about some content people are motivated and, dare I say, proud to have reached. The first time my guild downed Prince Malchezar in Karazhan was the one of the biggest buzzes I’ve ever had in game. 10 man dungeons made raiding accessible and taught us how to workas a unit. It gave me the desire to do more and commit more time and effort to my main, gearing and skilling up. In the new Wrath of the Lich King expansion I wanted to be in a 25 man raiding guild, see all the raid content and kill the Lich King. Karazhan was an amazing innovation when viewed in that way.

too-many-wipesCompared to Karazhan LFR is not a valuable and positive development in World of Warcraft. A small minority of whiners begged Blizzard and got what they wanted. As a result the game is seriously flawed for the majority of us and Blizzard will struggle to fix things and get the genie back in the bottle. Flying mounts have made Azeroth easy and content derisory. The once epic world now feels very, very small. LFR hasn’t opened raiding to a wider audience it has introduced dumbed down, derisory content that has damaged guilds and weakened the appetite for raiding and long term commitments to World of Warcraft and subscribing. Playing in LFR teaches you nothing about raiding, teamwork or cooperation in game and the fun they can produce.

Good luck fixing that Blizzard.

ShrugSo I get into an argument with a tank…nothing surprising there. What is surprising is why. We ported into the instance and five people insta-quit. Two of them tanks. We waited a couple of minutes then someone starts asking the Death Knights if anyone could tank? One guy does and tanks all the way to the first boss. After the fight the recently ported in tank says “GJ healers” and I say “Yeah and GJ stand in tank”. Now he takes offence at this remark and persists even if after I explained what I meant.

Now people in our battlegroup have noticed that the high population server Kazzak seems to have a high number of elite idiots. However, high population servers will suffer as their minority of morons will be more visible. Personally, I’ve started to notice that TarrenMill seems to have a much higher proportion of the idiots. Fewer idiots yes, but a greater proportion of the server population.

So this tank persists calling me a noob and then starts picking on my 110K DPS!. Now if we were in Siege of Orgrimmar and I had ilvl 562 (my ‘locks ilvl) then 110K would look shamefully bad. But ilvl 502 in Mogu’shan Vaults? crying little girlOn an un-gemmed, un-enchanted alt?!

He inspects me, of course, and then starts ragging on my lack of gems and enchants. And before I can say it, he says, that he’s on an alt too. Clearly he’s done this before. Well, look at you wasting gems and enchants on char that’s running MV. Is it your second level 90? Do you have no expectation of ever better gear soon (later today or tomorrow) so you’re gemming and enchanting sub-528 gear? Or are you just gold rich and want to max out your DPS at every stage of levelling? Well good for you. After my warlock, Rutå, warrior, Fleetfoot, and priest, Sakkara, I’m a) poor and b) fed up with it and just wanna have some fun with my paladin that I can’t play immensely well and will never take inside a real raid.

Some people are just elitist morons though aren’t they Nikmoob-TarrenMill?

nerdrageIt’s customary for most guilds, most serious guilds, to periodically prune their roster. People join guilds and stop playing all the time and guild rosters become full of characters that really aren’t valuable or contributing in any sense. What Officer regularly do is remove chars that haven’t been logged on for a few months. Occasionally legitimate alts get booted out and have to be re-invited, but that’s not a big problem.

So we kicked some chars that belonged to this guy who calls himself Geo Johansen on Facebook. By his own admission they’re small alts (I take that to mean low levels) and he’s mainly Alliance, plays on another server Arathor, hasn’t logged on for months, so he was kicked out. He has two choices: either accept that this is standard practice and inevitable or request a re-invite…which may or may not be granted. If you’re not playing, you’re not even socialising with us so why be in our guild?awhazc

He kicked off and had a go at us at our guild’s Facebook page. “So, you NOOBS kicked my small alts out of you guild…” and some abuse for this. I replied with “Who are you? You’re nobody to us, so your lowbie alts were remove from the guild. Accept it and stop behaving like a child. If this is how you conduct yourself we’re better off without you.”

He had a good rage at this one; “NOOBS stuff your crap guild up your ass. I am not a child I have survived two strokes, a hip replacement…” some other medical stuff, “…I don’t need you or your crap guild, you’re the kids!” “You’re behaving like a 12 years, check my date of birth before calling me a child. Incidentally, were the strokes caused by your constant nerd raging?”

He deleted his own posts (and my responses with them) from our Facebook page. He also appears to have deleted his own Facebook page. He’s /ragequit Facebook…now that’s comedy.

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