Remember when…?

Eluna found one of those “20 posts in 20 days” things with some questions that we should answer.  We both decided that might be a bit…much.  With 2 of us, that would be 40 posts in 20 days – all about random stuff.  So, probably not going to see us do that whole series.

But…

There were a couple of good questions – and one that I wanted to answer, in particular.  Mostly because I think my story is fairly unique in the WoW universe.

Your first day playing WoW…

Oh to be so innocent and new…

I picked up the WoW Battlechest at Target in Pasadena CA (yes, I actually remember where I bought WoW).  At the time, it was Vanilla and Burning Crusade.  I’m pretty sure it was April of… 2008?  I think? (Yes, it was, I just checked my Account Management page.)  This was after a few days of talking to my friend, John, who lived in Texas.  He had a local friend that was encouraging him to try it, so I decided I’d try too.  I’d heard of WoW before, and knew very little.  But was leary of it, in general, because I’m not a fan of violence.  At all.  Not in movies, not on TV, not in books.  Nowhere.  Don’t like blood and guts and gore.  And, come on, the game is called World of Warcraft.  I’m not dumb – I knew there would be stuff I didn’t like about it.

I had no idea there would be so much I do like.  I’d thought about it ahead of time, actually researched classes and races.  I knew that I would be making a female dwarf priest.  Now, you have to realize, I had no clue what I was doing.  I had no idea how hard it would be to level a healer.  Or that no one ever rolled female dwarves.  How should I know?  So I blithely (and ignorantly) rolled my first character: Braelyan of Bloodhoof (she’s moved servers since then, obviously).

I sat there reading my Brady Guide (the one that comes in the battlechest) trying to learn how to pick up quests and actually fight things.  The first couple of kills were hard because I hadn’t figured out how to use spells or the action bar yet (told you, I was a n00b).  Yes, I was bonking those troggs with my mace.  I didn’t know what to do when my bags got full (didn’t realize I could sell stuff).  I was completely baffled when John whispered me:  how in the WORLD did he make his text pinky-purple??  All I had managed was white.

I stuck with her, my baby Brae.  She managed to level all the way to 70 about a month before Wrath came out.  So I got a taste of raiding then, with the guilds that I’d met along the way.  John doesn’t play WoW anymore, but I do.  And I absolutely love it.

Someday, remind me to tell y’all the story of how I found the Customer Service Forum.
And what that has to do with my wedding on 10/10/10.  😉

Advertisements

Raid Leader Perspective: Leading as I heal

A healer??  Leading a raid?  NO WAY!!

Yes way!  Eluna and I have both been raid leaders.  We’re women.  We’re healers.  And we’re darn good raid leaders, too.  BUT, be prepared for a different experience, because we are not tanks.  And our view of these fights is decidedly different.

If you haven’t healed, you may not realize that healers often have no sense of what the space actually looks like in dungeons and raids – at least not at first.  While you (as DPS or tank) are running around smooshing the bad guys and wandering the halls of some immense Dwarven cavern, we are chasing you trying to keep that darned health bar somewhere over 75%.  There have been many a night where I finally get the chance to really look around and be at awe over the graphics in a particular place.  And generally, my guildies chuckle because they noticed that stuff ages ago.

For example, did you know that as you cross the bridge between the first and second bosses in Well of Eternity that you can actually see down to the ground below.  The actual Well is beautiful and I didn’t notice it until at least my 5th or 6th run.  Only because I was usually so focused on the health of the group (and keeping up since I always seem to lag behind) that I never actually looked down!

Something else we are frequently unaware of is the name of the mobs as well as the names of their spells.  We know what they do, but we don’t always know what they’re called.  We don’t target them – we target you.

So, for me anyway, when I think about leading a raid, I prefer to have been there.  At least once or twice.  I can better coach my team when I can actually describe what I need from them.  If I can not (or have not) had the chance to run the place, I will read about it.  Heck, even if I have been there, I read.  A lot.  A ton, really.  Any article I can find, I’ll read: Wowhead, WowInsider, TankSpot (I love when Ciderhelm narrates…), LearnToRaid… and many more.  For me, knowledge is power.  The more I know about the fight mechanics and raid needs, the better (and more confident) raid leader I can be.  Confidence isn’t just sexy – it’s powerful.  People will follow confidence.

I used to read the various guides and then write out my own notes for our guild.  Because we all know that each guild has different people in it – and those people have different strengths and… quirks (I refuse to call them weaknesses).  And what works for Ciderhelm and Lore and Aliena from TankSpot… yeah… that’s not really how it’ll go for us.  But, it’s enough to help me make informed decisions.

Going back to the thought that we don’t always know what the mobs names are or what the name of a particular spell or ability is…

Even being well read and knowing the fights backwards, forwards, and inside-out… I still don’t call things what they are.  Just last night in Firelands, I was caught saying things like: “Is this the snake-dude that we have to stack for?  Or is it the other one down the road?”  We’re 6/7 in FL and 8/8 in DS.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve healed us through those snake kills (and their annoying lava buddies who blow us up).  But I still cannot remember their names or the name of the ability that hurts so much.  What is important is that I know what we need to do!  We need to stack.  Does it matter, honestly, if it’s called [Explosion of Doom] or [Swipe of Kills-the-lonely-tank]?  Nope.  What matters is that I know it’s coming and I know how to mitigate it.

This actually makes for some fun “Story Time with Brae” moments.  I’ll be talking more about “Story Time” in my next RLP post.

It may surprise you to know that tanks aren’t the only people who can lead a raid.  Sure, they’re the go-to-role, since they’re the first one into a fight (usually).  BUT… healers – who are trained to look at more than one person at a time and focus on the entire encounter and not just our rotation – healers can be incredibly good raid leaders.

Just be ready to stand in that spot over there (near the thing-a-ma-bob) and pew-pew the bad guy until the puddles of owwie come out.  THEN MOVE!  😉


Mists of Pandaria Cooking–an early look at healing food

Thanks to El’s Anglin’ we have some really good information out there about the MoP Cooking specialties available!

The original post is here:  http://www.elsanglin.com/news/mop-cooking-specializations.html for all it’s glory, but I’m only posting what pertains to the healing classes here.  All Mists of Pandaria information provided here, I got from El’s post, it is not my original work at all.

For healing, it looks like we will want to go with one of these two specializations, as each specialization offers one type of food buff for all the recipes they offer…

  • Way of the Pot – Intellect
  • Way of the Steamer – Spirit
I’m not sure which will be better overall for healing classes, but I’m going to guess that we’ll start with Steamer and then move to Pot once its maxed out. (That sounds illegal in some states!).  As we usually tend to focus on Spirit when we first hit max level, then move on to Int later.  Also, good to know is that feasts are an exception: Every specialization offers 2 feast dishes, each of which grants precisely the same buff – 275 Useful (class-specific) stat. This means one only needs to train one specialization to be able to cook raid feasts.

Check out the full post over at El’s Anglin for more information, it’s a really great write-up describing how the cooking profession is looking in Mists of Pandaria!


Guild Leader Perspective: Scheduled “Fun” Events

One of the things that both frustrate a Guild Leader along with bringing us joy:  Fun Runs.  Why you may ask?  Attendance.  The most fun things can be ruined simply because people say they want to do them, guild leaders schedule them out, and so few appear, you can’t make the run happen.  As a leader, we have to try to keep activities going to meet the needs of the guild, or it becomes a stagnant wasteland of raiders logging in to raid and casual players feeling like they have no value in the guild.  Cross realm grouping can help, but it can also hurt.  This leaves the guild leader in a tight position, schedule runs ahead of time and hope enough people were interested in running them or wait and see who’s online and risk people thinking that there is nothing planned.

I have tried to approach fun runs several different ways over the course of the past two or so years that I’ve been in charge of them.  Even before I took over the Guild Leader position, I was Co-GM and still had the charge of fun events.  I have polled the guild to see what they are interested in….which unless it was an actual poll instead of an open discussion, led to arguments.  Do I guess what people want (poll choices) or leave it open for discussion (arguments)?  I have just scheduled things based on guild achievements.  We did happen to get most of our raid and dungeon achievements this way (Vanilla, BC, and quite a bit of Wrath), but when we got closer to the end of Wrath content, attendance dictated if we could actually complete the objective or not.  Sure we can 3 man Illdian, not so much Heroic Ruby Sanctum.  I have tried not scheduling things and then just typing in guild chat around our usual time “hey who wants to go do some mount runs?”.  This has had some success, but then leaves people who aren’t online at that time feeling left out, because it wasn’t on the schedule.

When it comes to cross realm grouping, that opens up another can of worms.  People lead differently, different servers have different “norms” for how they handle loot, and what one person takes seriously, another is in for fun.  In general, cross realm grouping can make the worst raid finder look organized, quick and drama free.  Not to say you can’t have fun with cross realm grouping, there is a lot of fun to be had, but its like organizing a guild run except without voice chat and with raid chat turned off.  It takes an extra layer of communication and understanding, or people wind up frustrated without really understanding why.  We have slowed our cross realm experience down quite a bit just to give the guild members a breather.

The options then become, do you make “fun” runs mandatory, so that you can actually schedule them out and be inclusive to people who don’t’ normally raid, or do you maintain that as “fun” runs they are optional?  That, my friends, is one of the most frustrating things about keeping a guild active.  I maintain that fun runs should not be mandatory, but I will change the destination if it will not be “fun” to run it with the handful of people who regularly show up when attendance is low.

How are fun runs (or casual/alt raids) handled in your guild?


Ready to Raid? Consumables and Enchants Edition

Ready to raid can mean different things to different people.  In a progression minded raiding guild being ready to raid means more than having good gear and logging in at raid time.  Today we’re going to discuss things that you may not have considered when deciding that progression raiding is something you wanted to do.  (Keep in mind, that in more casual situations, they may require less effort, this is with progression raiding in mind)

Consumables
All raiders should be prepared with a stack of food, a couple of flasks (or a stack of two different kind of elixirs), a stack of potions (mana, dps boosting, or health depending on your spec!).  Hey, don’t get all defensive here, this is what progression raiding is!  Cauldrons are not going to be a part of Mists of Pandaria!  It doesn’t hurt to have a couple extra gems or enchants waiting if you know you’ll be upgrading gear mid raid if it drops for you.

Gems, Enchants, and Reforging
You should also have the best gems and enchants you can on your gear….the quality of the gem should match the quality of the item.  This can be expensive.  This can be very expensive if you replace an item more than once a week (hey it happens).  You should also utilize an add-on, site, or spreadsheet to help you with your reforging.  Ask Mr. Robot is a popular one currently, but feel free to use whatever source you are comfortable with.

Repairs
“But that’s what the guild bank is for”…no, the guild bank is there to keep the guild running.  Repairs are often offered as a perk, but aren’t always guaranteed or available.  In progression raiding, you can often spend 100 to 200 gold in a single raid night.  This means you will have to find ways to earn money in-game.   Many people find that doing the weekly random heroics help with this, but, you may need to do more if you are also buying your gems, enchants, reforging and consumables.  Daily quests are great for this.  Also if you have a character with a gathering profession you can  make plenty of money going out and farming mats to sell on the auction house.  There are plenty of ways to make money in the game!

Time
And the last thing needed is time.  In order to have the previous things, a raider needs to have time to actually be in-game when they aren’t raiding to prepare for raiding.  This is something many people don’t think about when committing to a progression raiding schedule.   One should really add about 4 to 5 hours a week to whatever their raid schedule is to just prepare for raiding, sometimes more.

Keep in mind, not all guilds require this much effort and time.  There are different levels of raiding, which ask different things of their people.  Most guilds require what I’ve listed here, from social to hardcore.  When deciding that you would like to join a raiding guild, you should find out the raiding times, along with what all they expect for you to bring along.  Read over the guild charter to make sure you understand what you are committing to before signing up and be ready to produce your own materials even if they offer a guild cauldron or food.  Then you will always be ready to raid!


Guild Leader Perspective: Guild Ranks

Today I feel like talking about guild ranks in the guild…from the perspective of a guild leader.  While not all guilds are alike, most guilds use some sort of ranking system.  If not, chaos is bound to creep in.  Before we grew to our current size (which is still somewhat small) we didn’t have any officer ranks at all.  We recently added those in with some responsibilities for those people.

In our guild we have the following ranks:

GM, Raid Leader, Guild Banker, Officer, Officer Alts, Raider, Casual Raider, Casual, Alt, Applicant

That’s quite a bit for a guild as small as ours some might say.  But let me explain them for you and they’ll make much more sense.

GM–well that’s a built-in wow rank, no way around it.  Someone has to have the GM hat.  That happens to be me, it used to be my husband but he decided that I was technically running the guild and he was more of the raid leader.

Raid Leader–Next in line from the GM is the raid leader rank.  This happens to be my husband and all of our alts.

Guild Banker–Our guild banker is the person who makes sure the guild bank doesn’t become a wild jungle of level 5 enchants and mana pots that no one wants but they can’t seem to just vendor either.  They also try to keep the bank stocked with things we need for raiding, like fish, and herbs and enchant mats.  They have the most bank permissions outside of the Guild and Raid leaders for getting things out of the bank.  They also have an authenticator.

Officer–Our “role leaders”  one is a melee dps and the other is a ranged dps.  I tend to cover the healing lead role and my husband tends to cover the tank lead role.  They also are there to help out in general, if they see potential raiders in the guild, they let us know.  If they see a problem I may have missed, they let me know.  No one is promoted to officer without a clear role they are to carry out as that position.  They also have more banking rights than the average user.

Raider–Our core raiding team.  These are the players that are ready for progression raiding, have high attendance, and maintain their status.  They are ready to step into current content.  They have access to a special tab that we put items that are related to raiding in (such as buff food, enchants, pots/flasks, ect) in limited amounts, as well as the lower tabs.

Casual Raider–These are people who could step into current content if asked, but  may not be up for full-time raiding.  Or may need some work on their gear but are interested in raiding.  Usually they are willing to hop in and help where they can, even though they can’t make every raid.  They can request things from the raider tab and have a bit more access to the bank than casual players.

Casual–These are the players who aren’t really interested in raiding current content (because they haven’t expressed interest).  They have access to non raiding tabs of the bank, in limited amounts.

Alt–The alt of any player who is not an officer, banker, raid/guild leader.  They have no bank permissions. (except to deposit, I’ll explain our banking system on a different day)

Applicant–this is the rank of anyone joining the guild to begin with.  Without an in guild sponsor, they must stay in this rank until they have earned their spot in the other ranks.  This is also the rank of inactive (for over a year) players.  This rank has no bank access other than depositing into the deposit tab and viewing the free tab.  They must ask to receive items from the bank.

Previously we have had different ranking/banking systems, and have “loosened” up the permissions some, and it wound up allowing some unnecessary drama to occur.  So, now, we have it set up a bit more structured.  Ranking is very important when it comes to your guild.  You should never have anyone you don’t fully trust in ranks 1, 2 and 3.  With current policy, if you don’t log into your GM character once per 90 days, those are the ranks that have the ability to become GM in your place.

Officers should have a reason to be an officer.  You can give ANY rank in the guild the option to view and speak in officer chat.  Every guild I’ve ever been in that hasn’t had clear roles for the officers, has ultimately wound up with  unnecessary drama.  Clear roles, and a good definition of those roles goes a long way in guild harmony.  However, just remember to not be so rigid that you can’t readjust your rankings every once in a while if needed.