Thursday, December 28, 2006

One Year Mark!

It's been exactly one year since I started this blog. It's been an interesting year. I've travelled across three different servers, joined multiple guilds, become a raider, gotten epics, and gone through Molten Core and Blackwing Lair.

It's interesting, looking back at the old posts. My first post (after the introductory post) was about what a paladin is, and the idea of a "5th man" class. It's somewhat ironic to see that post as the old paladin is being changed into something that more easily stands inside the tank-healer-dps trinity.

It's also interesting to see how my attitudes towards paladins in raids have changed. At the beginning, I'm very much inline with the conventional wisdom that paladins need to be healbots, standing back and spamming Flash of Light. And somewhere along the line that changed, to the point where I'm rather militant that a paladin--regardless of spec--should be on the front lines, swinging her hammer in between tossing heals.

I think I've learned a fair bit about other issues as well. High-end guilds in WoW are governed by this strange interplay of game mechanics clashing with human nature, and it's been extremely interesting and enlightening to see how the two interact and what results.

Anyways, thank you to everyone who's read or commented on the blog. It's been great to have such illuminating conversations with everyone.

Thanks to Scumdogs of Eitrigg, who introduced me to the joys of raiding, even as I was a casual noob. :)
Thanks to Wandering Alliance of Eitrigg, who showed me how much fun being a paladin in raids could be, if only I was willing to stand on the front lines.
Thanks to Asperity of Skywall, even though I did not get to join you, thanks for showing me what a very successful high-end guild was like.
Thanks to the Winter Court of Skywall, for showing me how hard it was to recruit and start up my own guild, and how truely important basic logistics are.

Special thanks to Excommunicated of Skywall, my current guild, for being what a raid guild should be, pushing hard and killing bosses with a minimum of drama, even though it would be very easy to stop and wait for the expansion.

Special thanks to Defender of the Crown of Bronzebeard. Thanks for shepherding me through the first part of WoW, thanks for letting me go to find my own way in this crazy WoW endgame, and thanks for always welcoming me warmly whenever I ventured back.

Here's to another interesting year!

Nefarian and the Hybrid Paladin

As an example of what I mean by hybrid style of the paladin, consider what I did on our first Nefarian kill last week. Remember that this was really our first night of Nef attempts, and while the content may be old to many of you, it was cutting edge to us. Certainly not farm content.

In phase 1, I was assigned to the blue drakonid door, so I stood back with the non-melee people and spot healed. I had Righteous Fury up. When a drakonid got loose and ran to the cloth, I blasted it with Judgement of Righteousness and dragged it back to the warriors and AoE spot.

When Nefarian landed, the priests ran to cover the main tank, and I started healing full-time as the raid cleaned up the remaining drakonids.

After the drakonids were all killed, I started meleeing Nefarian, keeping up Judgement of Wisdom, and using Seal of Wisdom to get back mana from phase 1. I was spot healing occasionally, cleansing during the mage call. When a priest/druid call came, I dropped back and started pouring heals into the main tank. After that call ended, back to meleeing.

At phase 3, when the undead zerg came, I fired off a Holy Wrath and healed the raid until the zerg was destroyed. Then I went back to hitting Nefarian until he was dead.

("This cannot be! I am the Master here! You mortals are nothing to my kind! DO YOU HEAR? NOTHING!")

Nefarian is the prime example of how I feel a paladin is best played. I off-tanked a bit, healed a lot, and melee-ed a lot, seamlessly switching between the roles as needed. Was it the single most efficient use of the paladin possible? Maybe, maybe not. Was it effective? Yes. Was it fun? Heck, yeah!

In the new specialized world is this going to be how a paladin plays? Or are the Holy Paladins going to heal with the priests, the Retribution Paladins do damage with the warriors and rogues, and Protection Paladins tanking the drakonids or even Nef himself?

Of course, weighted against my experience is that fact that many other paladins in other guilds went through Nefarian casting a single spell, Flash of Light. If this change, this specialization, enables the vast majority of paladins to do more than spam a single spell, it will be well worth it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Price of Specialization

I was looking at the Paladin Tier 5 armor on, when it actually struck me that paladins have really changed in 2.0/Burning Crusade. There are three different versions of T5, one for each tree.

Previously, in my opinion, there wasn't a lot of difference between the paladin talent trees. Sure they changed how you did things, but in the end you ended up in the same place. Melee a bit, heal a bit, off-tank a bit.

This was a great situation for me, because I loved respeccing and playing with new talents. The fact that I may have respecced Protection just meant that I would be more likely to be casting Kings or Sanctuary on the raid. Otherwise, I'd still be meleeing/healing/off-tanking, same as if I was Holy or Retribution. Maybe slightly better at one aspect than another, but not enough that it made a real difference.

But now we have real specialization in talent trees. And armor to back up that specialization. Armor which will cost DKP and significant amounts of effort. This means that it is coming time to pick a specialization and stand with it. No longer truely standing outside the tank-healer-dps trinity, but taking up a spot within it.

I'm sure the prospect delights a lot of paladins, who were in guilds which never really understood them, and tried to force them into the trinity. Now, their path will be laid out, and expectations will be clear. Yet I'm going to miss the paladin of old a little bit.

Part of this is that Protection is my favourite tree, and the one I was planning on speccing into for the Burning Crusade. Yet, when I saw the armor, I realized that I was not sure I wanted to be a tank. Previously, I would have just been a protection paladin, and would still be doing paladin duties while someone else tanked the boss. Yet the Protection armor is not just armor for a paladin, it is armor for a tank. Someone who's role in a raid is fundamentally different than that of a paladin today.

Tomorrow I will have to choose: am I a healer, a tank, or a damage dealer[1] ? Yesterday, I was a paladin. Nothing more and nothing less.

On the whole, specialization is a big gain, yet I think that we will still lose something in the process. But judging by the reaction of my fellow paladins, this too seems a price worth paying.

[1]Well, whatever Retribution is supposed to be. Maybe it's damage, or maybe it's the one tree that corresponds to my current vision of the paladin.

Edit: Why does everyone miss the "price is worth paying" part?

I will miss the hybrid role of the paladin, but I was one of the few paladins who really got to play as a hybrid. (And this was deliberate. After my first raid guild, I sought out guilds that would allow me to play as a hybrid.) Most paladins got pidgeonholed as healbots, and didn't even get a chance to hit things. For them, this change is an unmitigated win.

Heck, if you look through the comments on this blog, there are a lot of comments disagreeing with me, and asserting that paladin-as-healbot is the best and most efficient use of a paladin in a raid.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Legend of Leeroy Jenkins

Pretty much everybody that plays World of Warcraft has heard of Leeroy Jenkins. (If you haven't, here's the video clip.) It's one of the defining moments of WoW history, and references to it have even appeared in places like Jeopardy.

It begs the question: why did this video become so popular? When all is said and done, staged or real, it's just a video of a wipe on Father Flame in Upper Blackrock Spire. I'm sure that there's been hundreds of wipes filmed, on all sorts of bosses. Why did this one become a touchstone of WoW culture?

It is a funny video, and the name "Leeroy Jenkins" as a battlecry has a style all of it's own. But I think the real reason Leeroy Jenkins became so popular is that it captures a deep truth about World of Warcraft.

In many ways, instancing in WoW is a cold, mechanical endeavour. We plan, laying out everything in minute detail, for maximum success. And sometimes we wish that we didn't have to plan so much, that we could just charge in and revel in the chaos and battle. But charging in recklessly usually leads to wipes, and so we restrain ourselves, giving ourselves over to the methodical process for success.

The first part of the video illustrates the cold nature of instance planning amazingly well, even down to the absurdity of calculating the odds of survival. The fact that the plan is terrible is just icing on the cake. We've all been in this situation, where we keep going over and over a plan to a degree that is simply unnecessary.

This is the duality that the Leeroy Jenkins video captures perfectly: we are terrified of being in a group with a Leeroy Jenkins, someone who runs off and wipes the group needlessly; yet at the same time we want to be Leeroy, to have the guts to throw caution to wind, and charge in recklessly, a battlecry on our lips, with our friends charging behind us.

That too is an important part of the video. If the rest of the group had just stayed outside and watched Leeroy die, I don't think it would have been anywhere as popular. We would have chuckled, called Leeroy stupid, and forgotten about the video the next day. But Leeroy cut the planning short and led his group into battle, and into WoW immortality.

And if it ended badly, well, at least Leeroy had chicken.

(That could possibly be interpreted as a metaphor for life in general, but sometimes chicken is just chicken.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dry Runs

My guild killed Nefarian for the first time tonight. Almost precisely two months after we killed Ragnaros. This accomplished our major goal of clearing Blackwing Lair before the expansion. So the guild was happy. No shaman loot dropped.[1] So the guild was estatic.

One interesting thing about this guild is that our raid leader spends a lot of time explaining things and going over the fight. He makes us do things like practice running to different spots during transitions. We spent over half an hour going over the full Nefarian strategy. (We earlier spent 15 minutes on Phase 1 only, because the raid leader thought it would take us a few tries to get to Phase 2.) Heh, sometimes I joke that the reason we do well is because we want to avoid going through the lecture again.

But it really works. It's one thing to be told, "When X happens, run to the collapse point", and quite another to actually do it. Actually practicing the moves before the fight starts helps give you an idea of how long the transition will take, and what the range will be like (very important for healers, who need to keep a moving tank alive). Dry runs are a very useful tool, and this is the first guild I've been in that has really made use of them.

[1] Unlike Ragnaros last week - 2x Ten Storms Legs for the loss. :(

Sunday, December 17, 2006

PvP'ing with my Warlock

I've been PvP'ing a bit with my warlock lately. I figure that given the new Honor System, I should be able to get him some decent gear. I probably won't be able to play enough to get him any epics--work is very time-consuming lately--but I should be able to get him his blue PvP set.

I went Affliction spec first. Affliction spec is insanely powerful. There were many battlegrounds where I would be number one or two in total damage done. However, you are very fragile, and you really need the gear to back it up. In particular, hunters were absolutely destroying me. I really think that, for a somewhat geared PvP'er, Affliction spec is the way to go.

As an aside, I had two points left over when I was making the build, so I took the talent that decreases the cast time of Howl of Terror. I didn't realize it made it instant cast! That is such a powerful talent.

But since I'm not geared, I respected to Demonology. This is a pretty good spec in general, but it is very good for an undergeared warlock, like mine. I last quite a bit longer. I may not do as much total damage anymore, but at least I don't die every 15s.

Heh, I may have to change tactics with my warlock. I usually defend, often running into Drek'thar's room at the end. I fear the puller, hopefully into all the warmasters, who run outside and proceed to wipe the Alliance raid. It is--or perhaps I should say was--a good tactic. Today, I tried the same thing and managed to trick the Alliance into pulling four warmasters at once. However, the Alliance raid killed all the warmasters! This, quite frankly, shocked me.

Maybe the alliance had insanely good tanks and healers up, but prior to this patch I would have sworn that pulling four warmasters at once would lead to a wipe. Ah well, I'm going to have to change tactics a bit.

A Warlock's View of the New Paladin

I love warlocks. They're slightly insane, but every so often they come up with something that is absolute genius. From Slark, of Shattered Hand, comes this description of the new paladin (exactly as posted on the WoW Forums):
i dont even knwo what paladins are doing anymore

when im up against a paladin theyre throwing gigantic shields in m yface hammers are falling from the sky on my head hammers are being tossed to hit me in the face their blessings lag my entire computer while hammers are hitting me from every direction and shields are preventing me to run away b/c apaprantly magical shields stop u from running

combine that with their immune shield and shields and hammer s being tossed at u from god knows i dont evne knwo what the @!@! is going on anymore i npvp when i face a pally

A brilliant description of the new Paladin. We're now shiny, and that is the best change Blizzard has made to us.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Raiding with the New Spec

I finally managed to attend a raid (Molten Core) and try out my new spec. All in all, it wasn't much different than my previous spec, save that I hit Crusader Strike whenever I remembered about it.

It's pretty hard to tell if you are actually doing more damage, or if Sanctified Crusader helped. I think it helped, as mobs seemed to die faster, but that may also have been because we are gearing up, or the new specs. I did get a 1K Crusader Strike crit in healing gear, so that's good enough for me.

I really wish I had a meter running for the last few raids, though. I find it hard to actually tell how my damage is changing in raids, mostly because I'm usually paying more attention to the raid's health than to my character. Actually quantifying the change would have been a good idea.

Spiritual Attunement is awesome. I was not running out of mana at all. I even switched to healing with Holy Light for most (non-ranged) fights, and I didn't really have issues with mana.

Actually, healing was kind of weird in this raid. Perhaps it was the HoTs stacking, but health bars seemed to change in a different fashion than normal. Normally, they fall and increase in visible chunks, and in this raid they seemed to be a lot more stable. For example, a rogue would drop to 75% and I'd Flash of Light her, expecting another priest to drop a Flash Heal or something. However, the Flash Heal never really came, but her health would not drop further, maybe even increase a few percentage points, but not a great deal for the rest of the fight.

I think the priests and druids were using HoTs more heavily, resulting in a different rate-of-change for health bars than I am used to. It was oddly disconcerting. I switched to mainly casting Holy Light every so often, with longer intervals between casts. It seemed like a good strategy, especially with the mana provided from Spiritual Attunement.

The lack of decursive was amusing. I'm out of practice, but it's not too bad, especially since I use sRaidFrames, which dims people who are out of range to you. The one thing we need to work on is tunnel vision. For example, on the Sulfuron Harbinger fight, we were concentrating so much on keeping the tanks cleansed that I think a couple of priests died from DoTs. But so far it doesn't seem that bad.

I am thinking about trying a click-cast mod, and binding Cleanse to my right mouse buttons so I just have to right-click the correct frame. Of course, most mods seem to be in a state of flux at the moment, so I may have to wait a few days.

Hopefully, I'll be able to give this spec a whirl in Blackwing Lair sometime soon. I should also find a decent damage meter so I can actually quantify performance.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Burning Out in Zul'Gurub

I think I'm beginning to suffer a little bit of healer burnout. Curiously, it's not because of Blackwing Lair or the high-end raiding, it's because of ZG.

My guild does casual ZG runs, and I've been on several of them. Lately though, I've begun to not want to go on these runs, even though ZG is probably my favourite raid instance. The problem is that we now outgear ZG--basically just running it for fun, reputation, and profit--and so people are slacking off.

And when other people slack off, the healers have to step up and pay even more attention. And this is kind of annoying. It seems excessive that I have to be in full raid healing gear, or spamming Holy Light, for a ZG run. But it's nuts, people pulling aggro, mages suicide AoE'ing*, not bothering with crowd control, etc. And because we do outgear ZG, and the healers step up, we survive this silliness.

Personally, I find efficient runs to be more fun. Crowd control, tank properly, and focus fire. Killing swiftly and efficiently. Minimize the amount of healing, and the number of people to be healed. Take care of the little things, like making sure the bat boss is tanked far enough away from the raid so that the casters aren't hit with the AoE Silence.

As an example, take the Bloodlord fight. My guild likes killing the raptor first, and then healing the tank through the Bloodlord's Enrage. This strategy, while it does work, is hell on the healers. Yay for an enraged Bloodlord running around 2-shotting people! I find having a couple off-tanks ping-pong the Raptor between them while the rest of the raid kills Bloodlord to be so much easier and less stressful. But because the previous strategy is simple, and we have the gear and healing power to do it, it's what we do.

I've really begun preferring the harder raids. Maybe ZG is easier, and we wipe more with higher repair bills, but people are trying their best, and not making the raid harder than it needs to be.

The worst part about it is that I know that the people in the raid are better than this. That if they actually cared about having an efficient run, we could go through ZG like a hot knife through butter.

* Honestly, if you died the first three times, maybe that's a sign that this is not a good tactic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Patch Day!

It's Patch Day! Here are some quick notes:

Spirtual Attunement - This works with overhealing!!! Greatest paladin ability ever!

Enchanting menu - much, much needed change. Being able to sort enchants by slot was sorely needed.

Looking For Group menu - looks pretty nice. As always, depends how people use it.

New paladin animations - Blessing of Wisdom is so pretty. I like!

Faster backwards walking - rather unexpected, but pretty nice. Much easier than doing strafing tricks. Should be nice with a mage and Frost Nova.

Buying new spell ranks automatically upgrades your icons on your bars - I love this. I missed this so much when I rerolled from warrior.

Buffs automatically cast correct version on low rank people - Yay for drive-by buffing!

More detailed character info - Very, very nice. More information is always good, and this should stop the debates and guesswork about things like Int to Spell Crit.

All in all, it looks like a very solid patch. Lots of little changes as well.

I respecced 10/0/41, but haven't really gotten a chance to try it out. I have high hopes for Sanctified Crusader and Improved Sanctity Aura. I may end up switching back to something else, but none of the other paladins seemed interested in going Retribution. I really want to see the effect of Sanctified Crusader in a raid.

The biggest decision is still to be made: do I enable my PvP title (Knight-Captain) or not? It is a good rank to display, and has a good sound to it (Knight-Captain Coriel), but it's not a very prestigious title (like Grand Marshal, for instance).

Heh, I haven't even looked at the options for my warlock yet.

Friday, December 01, 2006

BWL Progress

I've been working a lot lately, and haven't been able to play as much WoW as I'd like. It looks like the reshuffle of the schedule did the trick, as we've downed Vaelastraz the Corrupt, Broodlord Lashlayer, Firemaw, Ebonroc, and Flamegor over the last 3 nights. It looks like we might give Chrommaggus a shot if we get enough people on Saturday.

I missed a lot of the kills, but was present for the Broodlord and Flamegor kills. I was even the 6th paladin on Flamegor. I love being the 6th paladin, because then I can go crazy with Blessing of Sacrifice. I really, really wish the tactical blessings didn't overwrite the Greater Blessings.

As an aside, does Flamegor even do damage to non-tanks? I was meleeing him for JoLight, and the only damage I was taking was Sacrifice damage. I thought he actually did damage to the rest of the raid, but I may be confusing him with another of the drakes. Or maybe it was because I was in full FR gear. (He's named Flamegor, I figured it was a reasonable precaution.)

The funniest part about the Broodlord kill is how I joined the raid. I got summoned to the raid while the raid was inside the Suppression gauntlet. I don't even think I had a chance to change into most of my raiding gear before I was plunged into combat. Heh, my guild is slightly crazy, but it's all good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


WoW is very quiet lately. Everything appears to be in a holding pattern, waiting for the next patch and the Burning Crusade.

My guild is still trying to move forwards, but we're running into scheduling problems. We have a small number of raiders, which is great because you can always get into a raid, but now that we are working on Vael we need a full raid to show up. We usually do MC Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesday, and reserve the rest of the week for Blackwing Lair.

Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we've always had the lowest attendance, and that's making Vael attempts hard. (People aren't avoiding Vael, we get good attendance on the other nights, but Saturdays we just have lower attendance.)

I think we're going to try and juggle the schedule a bit, and do MC on Saturday, and BWL on the weeknights. Hopefully that will lead to more progress.

It's amusing, but in many ways a good chunk of a raid guild leadership's time is taken up with logistics.

In a lot of ways Blizzard makes the process harder than it should be. Take the reset times of Onyxia and the 20-man raids. Onyxia resets on a 5-day timer, and ZG and AQ20 are on three day timers. This means that they change from week to week, causing havoc with schedules.

For example, there was a post from a small guild on the Raid Forums, asking if there was any way to set up a consistent weekly raiding schedule for ZG such that they could clear all the priests on Raid Day 1, and do Hakkar and Jindo on Raid Day 2.

You can't do this with only 2 raiding days, but you can with 3:

Day 1 - Raid
Day 2 - Raid
Day 3 - skip
Day 4 - Raid

This schedule guarantees that at least 2 of the three raids will be in the same lockout period. Probably be a different two each week, but still. The 3rd raid will also be in a different lockout period, so you can get the maximum number of bosses possible per week.

Onyxia also causes juggling, but it is mitigated by the fact that Onyxia is fairly quick to do.

All of this is just petty annoyances for a guild. I like the idea of lockouts, because they allow a guild to work on an instance over several nights, and also allows Blizzard to slow down the influx of high-end loot into the world.

But lockouts should be based on the natural schedules of people, rather than arbitrary numbers. And the natural schedule for most people is the week. My preference would be for ZG and AQ20 to have a 3-day lockout followed by a 4-day lockout. And Onyxia could go to 7 days or the new ZG schedule. All instances reset at the same time each week.

Being able to make simple, predictable schedules would be a great boon to raiding guilds, or guilds looking into raiding. Hopefully lockouts in the Burning Crusade are based around the week, making for natural scheduling.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quests That Should Have Been Epic

The one thing WoW has done really poorly is rewards at level 60. Restricting epics to raids was a mistake in my opinion. For most of the game there was a decent balance between rewards for instances, and rewards for quests. However, at 60, the balance swings way too much towards instances. There are some questlines that are epic in scope, and really deserve epic rewards.

Here's my list of quests that deserved epic rewards:

1. Tirion Fordring questline

This is one of the best loved questlines in the game. It takes you across Eastern Plaguelands, to Stratholme, and to Hearthglen as you help Tirion Fordring seek redemption. It's a gorgeous questline, and the rewards are quite good, but if they were bumped up a notch, this quest would be perfect.

2. The Lich, Raj Frostwhisper questline

This quest takes you from Scholomance, to Stratholme, and back to Scholomance as you seek the key to defeating Raj Frostwhisper. It's quite long and involved, and very few people actually do the whole questline. I've actually gotten more whispers about my Warblade of Caer Darrow than any other piece of gear. By the time most people would have completed the questline, they've moved on to raiding instead.

3. Hero of the Fallen Horde questline

This one has you fighting in the Blasted Lands, seeking to destroy Razelikh the Defiler. I remember forging the Sword needed to defeat his Servants, and the questline culminates in an awesome battle atop the Defiler's Rise.

4. Dawn's Gambit questline

I'll be honest, I haven't even finished this questline yet. It's the one where you have to collect the eggs from Upper Blackrock Spire and then go to Scholomance and defeat Vectus and his students. I just don't feel like going back to UBRS.

Personally, I love these long, involved questlines. They are a fair amount of work, and really deserve to have better rewards. Hopefully, end level questlines in Burning Crusade will have improved rewards.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Loot always seems to come in waves for me. I go a long time without seeing anything, and then I get lots of stuff at once.

This past weekend, I picked up:

[Zandalar Freethinker's Belt] - ZG
[Hand of Edward the Odd] - AQ20
Holy Light: Rank IX - AQ20
[The Immovable Object] from AV

Pretty good haul for one weekend. Makes up for the last couple months. The Hand of Edward the Odd is pretty interesting. It's almost a perfect weapon for my playstyle. It's fast, has decent DPS, good caster stats, and makes some of your heals instant cast. I've enchanted it with Crusader and it is a great deal of fun.

It actually makes me want to respec back to Protection. I'll probably stay the same until the next patch though, and the free respec. It's interesting that Blizzard is releasing the new talents before the expansion. I wasn't really expecting that. I was expecting the new honor system and such, but I didn't think they would release the talents separately from the increase in the level cap.

Ah well, the cynical among us can look upon it as an extra month of intensive beta-testing.

Edit: Heh, I forgot the one item I actually spent DKP on: Onyxia's Head. I got it more for the quest and getting to hang the Head up in the Stormwind Gates. But it did get me a [Dragonslayer's Signet].

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SoC versus SotC

Some commenters have questioned the tradeoff in the last post. I don't deny that you do give up a significant amount of damage by not using SoC. To my mind, though, the added flexibility and regeneration of SotC make up for it.

However, not everyone will agree with my valuation of the tradeoff. So let's examine some cold numbers.

Let's take a paladin with 1000 AP, a 3.8 speed weapon with 75 DPS, and +300 dmg/heal. Assume she is fighting a mob with 40% damage reduction. Also assume that she is spending all of her time attacking.

Let A be her Attack Power.
Let s be her weapon speed.
Let d be her DPS.
let P be her spellpower
Let R be the percentage of damage that gets through the armor.

Base dps = [d + a/14]*R = 87.9 dps

SoC dps = [ds + as/14]*0.7*7/60 + 0.29*P*7/60 = 55.6 dps

SotC dps = 306/14 * R = 13.1 dps

So basically, the SoC paladin is doing 143.5 dps compared to the SotC paladin's 101 dps. So by going SotC you sacrifice about 42 dps, or about 30% of your damage.

(I am ignoring crits, talents, and time spent not meleeing. Most of this affects both sides equally. I'm also ignoring Judgement of Command, as I don't think it would really be spammed by a melee-healing paladin. It does add another 30 dps or so, if spammed constantly.)

So the tradeoff becomes 30% less damage in exchange for 40% more Light/Wisdom procs, increased chance of renewing Judgements, and added flexibility in chosing when to start a heal.

Given that paladin damage is last on my list of priorities in a raid (though it is still on the list!), it's a tradeoff that I am willing to make.

As an aside, note that in either case, the majority of a paladin's damage comes from her base damage. The numbers seem relatively reasonable to me, though the weapon DPS is a bit high. You can always use your own values in the equations and see how your personal trade-off works. SoC does scale though, while SotC does not, so the better your gear is, the more attractive SoC becomes.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Swing Timers and Seal of the Crusader

It's been drilled into paladins for a long time that "slow weapons that do a lot of damage per hit are better". But this is not always true. In my view, faster weapons are better for raiding.

Slow weapons ARE better for doing damage with Seal of Command. There's no question about that. However, damage is not the main purpose of a paladin in raids, and so perhaps looking at different weapons is a better idea.

It all comes down to swing timers. Casting a non-instant spell resets your swing timer. So to get into a rhythm, a melee-healing paladin with a 3.8 speed weapon goes something like this for every 10s or so:

1.5s - Flash of Light
3.8s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
3.8s - Swing

The problem with this is that it's not very flexible. You have to wait a long time between swings to get off heals. If you don't wait long enough before healing, your swing doesn't go off. If you miss once, there's a good chance that you will fail to refresh your Judgment.

In contrast, let's look at the same paladin wielding a 2.2 speed weapon:

1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing

With a faster weapon, it's easier to weave Flashs in between your swings. Less swings are "lost" due to casting a Flash early, and the paladin has more opportunities to connect with the opponent, increasing the chances of renewing a Judgement.

This can be even further improved by using Seal of the Crusader. SotC will reduce the swing timer even further. The 3.8 spd drops to 2.7 spd, the 2.2 spd to 1.6s. This makes it even easier to weave healing and melee together.

Additionally, SotC does add a little more damage, and increases the amount of procs you get by 40%. In a raid setting, you can pretty much guarantee that Judgement of Light and Wisdom will always be up, so you get additional procs from both.

It's for these reasons that I feel that Seal of the Crusader is actually the best Seal for a raiding paladin. It's not as spectacular as Seal of Command, but it is far more consistent, and allows a paladin to use her other abilities to larger effect.

To sum up, for Seal of the Crusader:

- more damage than Seal of Light/Wisdom
- 40% more Light/Wisdom procs
- easier to refresh judgments
- easier to weave healing and melee swings

- less damage than Seal of Righteousness/Command
- no extra damage from Judgement of Righteousness/Command

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Loot Drought

Nothing new is happening. We kill bosses, paladin loot does not drop.

It's been so long since I've gotten anything really good. I've been in this guild for about a month and a half, and I've only picked up an A20 book, and two blue items (admittedly, my Gavel is just shy of epic). Meanwhile, a rogue who joined with me has gotten 5/8 Nightslayer and a Qiraji Sacrificial Dagger.

I have a lot of DKP, just waiting for paladin loot to actually drop. I almost bid on an Untamed Blade today. I pretty much would have zero use for it, but it looked pretty cool, and so was tempting. Probably would have won it too.

I'm generally pretty easy-going about loot, but seriously, this is excessive.

Nothing much else to talk about in WoW. No real issues to discuss. If you want my opinion on something, post in the comments. At least it will give me something to write about.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Razorgore Strategy

Solidstate requested the Razorgore strategy we used, so here it is. We use a pretty normal strategy.

Hunters, mages, warlocks, rogues are divided into 4 DPS groups, one in each corner of the room. They kill orc mages as they appear. They also crowd control any legionaires if they can (sheeps, stuns, traps, succubi).

We have two warriors (with speed boots) kite the dragonkin and legionaires in a Figure 8 around the room, using both platforms. They run up one ramp, and then jump off the middle in order to buy some additional time, as the mobs go back down the ramp and around. They are spamming Demo Shout and taunting any new mobs that appear.

The remaining warriors pick up loose dragonkin and legionaires and bring them to the main kiters. We usually had a warrior follow each of the main kiters, picking up any missed mobs.

The druids' primary job is to sleep any loose dragonkin until a kiting warrior picks them up. They also do a little healing.

The paladins and priests are the healers, with the priests trying to keep their aggro down as much as possible. The paladins also guard the ramps to the controller, stunning and engaging any mobs attempting to get to the controller.

There are two or three controllers who rotate controlling Razorgore and popping eggs. We don't let the orcs/dragonkin attack Razorgore. It makes the last phase a bit harder, as Razorgore is at full health, but that's just a ranged tank-and-spank fight.

Realistically, it's all about the kite and aggro management. If you have one priest who does much more healing than the other priests, she will pull aggro and mobs will swarm the center. Paladin heals are lower aggro, so priests should try to defer to the paladins as much as possible, use HoTs, small heals, etc.

That's the strategy we used last night. Of course, it does take practice. We took about five tries, progressively getting better each time, and tweaking the strategy each time (for some reason, our kiters weren't doing the full Figure 8 for the first few attempts).

Another strategy I've seen is to have the main kiter be the first Razorgore controller, and to use Razorgore's Shadow Volley ability right before the control timer expires. That transfers all the aggro to the main kiter, giving her an edge as she starts the kite.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Spiritual Focus Idea

I still think that Spiritual Focus is very important to the paladin class, and that having it as a Tier 2 talent is too high. It doesn't look like Blizzard will make it baseline anytime soon, but here's a compromise idea.

1. Make Spiritual Focus a baseline ability, but with only a 40% chance to avoid interruptions from damage.

2. Add the following talent to Tier 2 Holy.
Improved Spiritual Focus (3/3)
Requires 5 Points in Holy.
Increases the effectiveness of Spiritual Focus by 10/20/30%.

So we get 3 possibilities:

Untalented Paladin
- 40% base chance to avoid interrupts from damage
- 70% chance with Concentration Aura

Paladin with 3/3 Imp Spiritual Focus
- 70% base chance
- 100% with Concentration Aura

Paladin with 3/3 Imp Concentration Aura
- 40% base chance
- 90% with Concentration Aura
- 15% chance of ignoring interrupts
- 50% chance given to allies

Now, Imp Concentration Aura is much closer to SF in power. It still doesn't completely guarantee your cast, but gives an extra bonus to your allies to make up for it. And it makes 2 paths viable for paladins: one with Holy, and one with Protection.

As well, since we've reduced Imp SF to 3 points, there's room in Tier 2 Holy for a small 2 point talent. Perhaps something like:
Evil's Bane (2/2)
Requires 5 Points in Holy.
Increases the damage done with your Exorcism and Holy Wrath spells by 15/30%. Increases the duration of your Fear Undead spell by 5/10s.

Razorgore Down!

And we start our march into Blackwing Lair. No paladin loot dropped, as usual.

Razorgore is a neat fight. Aside from the actual mechanics of the fight, its placement is very interesting.

In many ways, Razorgore is one of the most complex fights in BWL, and to have it as the very first encounter is a real shock. It's like Blizzard is putting the raid on notice, "This is NOT Molten Core. It's a brand new game." It sets the tone for the whole instance.

It is an unexpected decision in many ways, and I have a lot of respect for Blizzard for structuring BWL in this manner. A more conventional decision would have been to have a steady ramp up in complexity. Instead, having a very complex fight first forces raiders to shake off the complacency of Molten Core, and stretch their abilities in new directions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week 2 on Ragnaros

Back into MC again to kill Ragnaros. On our first attempt, Ragnaros hits the raid with an AoE knockback right before he submerges, when we were all gathered at our collapse point. That leads to a heart-breaking 1% wipe.

No worries, even though no soulstone or DI was up. A druid sneaks back to Ragnaros and begins ressing.

The second attempt is beautiful. We are destroying Ragnaros, no one is dying, I'm pumping Judgements of Righteousness into Ragnaros like there's no tomorrow. The 3-minute mark comes up, and we collapse perfectly as the Sons of Flame come up. The Sons are being intercepted by our warriors and druids when all of a sudden we hear "BY FIRE BE PURGED!" and people go flying. "DIE INSECT!" It turns out that if Ragnaros decides not to submerge, he and Sons of Flame together will easily wipe the raid.

So kind of annoyed at Ragnaros, we regroup for attempt three. Third time is the charm, and Ragnaros goes down easily. Loot is linked and he drops the [Eye of Sulfuras] to make up for our troubles. Our guild is amused by this, as we only have 3 out of the 8 or 9 [Sulfuron Ingots] needed to craft the Legendary Weapon. Because it is Sulfuras, I bid on the Eye, but another warrior wins it (we go by Total Earned DKP for Legendaries). Honestly, I'm kind of relieved that I didn't get it. I hate farming, and the mats required for Sulfuras are insane.

So that's how raiding is going. No paladin gear is dropping, but that's pretty much par for the course.

Blizzard nerfed Crusader Strike and Vengeance, so the paladin forums have descended into a pit of whining and despair (the natural state, in many ways). For some reason, people thought that Crusader Strike means that you would have three paladins judging, but only one paladin in melee spamming Crusader Strike in order to refresh all three judgements. It's like it never occurred to them that maybe we should have all three paladins meleeing and each refresh her own judgement.

CS being nerfed is expected, but Vengeance is a bit unusual, given that it has been untouched for such a long time. Current theories are that an 31/0/30 build proved too strong, or that with the additional attacks given by CS it was easier to achieve a perma-Vengeance state.

Ah well, Burning Crusade is a long way aways, so I shall not worry about it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ragnaros, the Firelord

It has taken me over 10 months, over 100 posts, through three different servers, and several guilds, but I have finally killed Ragnaros, the Firelord. He Who Was Ancient When The World Was Young. (I love the 'cutscene' before the fight.)

In the end, I think I did it the best way possible. With a guild who had not killed Ragnaros before. First kills are the sweetest. We did a pretty good job too. 38 people in the raid and we killed him on our second try. It was the third attempt overall for the guild, as we went to have a look after the first Majordomo Executus kill last week.

In a really weird way, it kind of feels like I've beaten the game. I know there's still BWL, AQ40, and Naxx to go, but Ragnaros felt like the end boss of World of Warcraft. Maybe because he's been the goal for so long. Or because I've been so close before, but never actually finished him.

Still, Ragnaros is dead. Bring on the Burning Crusade! (or Blackwing Lair, whichever comes first :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Loot, Jindo, and Exploring

It never fails. I update my picture on this blog and I immediately get new loot soon after. I really should update more often.

I went to AQ20 today with the guild, and picked up a [Gavel of Qiraji Authority] from the General Rajaxx fight. This is an insane weapon. I have no idea why it isn't epic. Compare it to the [The Unstoppable Force]. It has +16 Int, +19 dmg/heal, +6 mana/5s, in exchange for -4 Str, -2% crit, and a stun. Maybe [The Unstoppable Force] is better, but not by much. The only thing is that the Gavel is a fast weapon (2.2 speed vs 3.8), but as I don't have Seal of Command, it's fine for me. Plus it looks very nice, and rather unique. I'll get a picture up before the next raid. ;)

I also got the [Qiraji Spiked Hilt] for the Exalted Cenarion reward. I do like the sword, but I'm nowhere near the exalted reputation required. I only got the Hilt because no one else wanted it. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for getting to Exalted CC reputation fast, I would love to hear them.

Boss-wise, I got to see and kill Moam for the first time. Interesting fight. We stacked the raid with warlocks for extra mana-draining to make it easy, but it was still fun.

After Moam, the guild went for Hakkar in ZG (ZG having been cleared the previous night). I sat out for the Hakkar fight (first time the guild has killed Hakkar), but came in after for Jin'do the Hexxer. Now that was a fun fight. It took two attempts, but he went down (first Jin'do kill for the guild as well). It's a very chaotic fight. Totems, invisible shades, teleports, dancing skeletons, it's hilarious. I think the reason we won the second fight is because I got mind-controlled much more. Better me than a rogue or fury warrior, after all. :)

So I got some loot, and added Moam and Jin'do to my kill sheet. Not a bad day.

Oh, I almost forgot. Way back in May, I posted about how, as a level 60, I miss the sound when a piece of the map is discovered. Well, I was exploring Deadwind Pass during the Hakkar attempts, and it looks like Blizzard has fixed this problem! The sound played and pieces of the map filled in. I don't know when Blizzard fixed it, and it's a small thing, but it made me smile. Good work, Blizzard!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Burning Crusade Impressions from the Forums

It looks like an NDA expired, and paladins who were in the Burning Crusade alpha are talking about their experiences on the forums. Some pretty interesting stuff there. For me, though, the best sign came from Tinaris:
It seems to me that the way our healing is supposed to work is when its intermingled with melee when we have the chance to hit the mob for some mana gains via JoWisdom. Hit the mob for mana a few times, cast an emergency heal, rinse and repeat. I found that this method of support healing, even as a 14/0/43 Paladin, was very helpful in terms of putting out good damage, being involved in heals, and maintaining respectable mana amounts for emergencies. Spiritual Attunement helped out in this, as the bit of AoE damage I took would get me some attention from the main healers, which would replenish my mana for more healing for others.

This is superb news. It's basically how I play now, and Blizzard has made it even more viable. This is what a Paladin is supposed to be. Honestly, this paragraph has made me eagerly anticipate the Burning Crusade.

In particular, it looks like Blizzard has hit a home run with Spiritual Attunement, which gives you back mana when other people heal you.

We also got a Strike! Crusader Strike is the new 41-pt Retribution talent. The paladin boards are rejoicing. The strike is pretty cool, but I'm probably still going to go for Captain America (heh, I don't even know what the real name of the talent is).

As well, apparently we have new animations and effects for our Seals and abilities. This is a *much* needed change. Previously our effects were very bland. The PvP people probably aren't going to be too happy, as snazzy effects tend to give information to your foes, but I think it is neat part of playing the game. As well, you need to be able to get info from your enemies in order to react to them. Makes the fight one of skill, rather than just a guessing game.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Draft Priorities, Part 2

Inframike posted a comment to the previous post on the draft priority system:
But... Shadow Priests and Discipline Priests have very different priorities :(

Exactly! That is why this system works. The mages/warlocks spend all of their picks on damage gear, while priests need to split their picks between damage gear and healing gear (can't let those uppity paladins get all the good stuff).

So what will end up happening is that the mages/warlocks will get the lion's share of damage gear, but priests will have priority on a few pieces, enough to treat them fairly.

Remember that the alternative is that mages/warlocks get priority on ALL damage gear, and priests get none. That's generally what happens now in priority-based loot systems. Free systems don't need to set priority rules, and wouldn't need to draft.

As an aside, I don't believe that there is such a thing as a Shadow Priest or a Discipline Priest. There is a Priest who is currently specced Shadow, and a Priest who is currently specced Discipline. People change specs, and thus need different gear for different situations. I was Retribution[1] yesterday, and today I'm Holy[2]. I still collected healing gear when Ret-specced, and I'll still bid on damage gear now that I'm Holy.

[1] 5/11/35 - Extreme damage (for paladins, anyways).

[2] 32/11/8 - I like to think of it as my Improved Seal of the Crusader build.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Draft Priority

I don't really agree with restriction-based loot systems. However, if you do think that priorities are necessary, here's a system I came up with a long time ago (but never actually posted about):

Have your class officers draft the items in the instance.

In a random order, each class picks one item. That class gets first priority on the item. Continue drafting items (use switchback so that the second pick goes in the reverse order). The second class to pick an item gets second priority on that item. Continue until all the non-class restricted items have a first and second priority.

Each class now has an equal number of priorities. The focused classes will probably get first priority on the very best stuff, but hybrids should be able to score some decent second priorities.

As well, it sets up little rivalries between classes who do not normally compete, such as mages and warlocks, which helps them understand what it feels like to be a hybrid.

Plus it's a fun game, and you could turn it into a guild event where everyone provides "advice" to their officer.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Restrictions and Skill

If you've read my posts, you know that I'm a pretty strong proponent of no restrictions on talent specs or loot distribution. I feel that such restrictions are inefficient, and in the long term will be detrimental to the raid. One of the major reasons that I think restrictions are bad is that they interfere with developing skill.

I'll start with a definition:

Skill is the ability to make good decisions.

A person who makes better decisions is more skilled than someone who makes poor decisions. In a raid, this can be decisions with positioning, or skills used, or timing of abilities. For a healer it can mean deciding who lives and who dies. But it can also be decisions on how to spec, or what gear to take.

Skill is not absolutely innate. It is learned. As you use your abilities you learn how to make better decisions, and thus you become more skilled.

Restrictions on gear and spec make the decisions for you. Thus you cannot truly improve your skill so long as those restrictions bind you. If you are prevented from speccing Shadow, you will never learn exactly how Shadow limits you in raids, and that knowledge is valuable for future decision-making.

I believe that a Holy/Disc priest who has tried Shadow is a more skilled priest than a Holy/Disc priest who has never gone to the dark side. A skilled paladin will have tried the different options, and makes a decision based on the knowledge gained.

This even extends to loot. If you are prevented from taking loot that you think will help your character, you will never learn how to value loot appropriately. I have an Unstoppable Force, and it is seriously annoying me. It's next to impossible to keep a Judgement stuck on a mob. The lesson learned is that I don't like really slow weapons, and they are ineffective for my playstyle.

Of course, the problem is that sometimes we only learn by making mistakes. And occasionally that will mean spending DKP on the "wrong" loot, or using the "wrong" talents. But if a player is prevented from making mistakes, how can they learn?

Choice is intricately bound to skill. Anything that interferes with a player's choices also interferes with a player's skill development. A guild that is truely interested in having skilled players would be best served by allowing members to make their own choices, understanding that this means that sometimes members will make mistakes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Odds and Ends

I haven't had a lot of time to post lately. Here's a quick round up of what's going on.

The Guild

This is not going so well. I haven't really been able to get past the 10-person mark in recruiting. So I've decided to merge with another guild on my server. They run MC with about 30 people, so the 5 or so people in my guild will be a good addition to them. I doubt I will be able to make their raid times, but at least my guildies will land in good spot. Hopefully it makes sticking with me for the last three weeks worthwhile.

I attended part of an MC raid with the prospective guild. They're pretty good. We did Garr with 30 people and 2 'locks, which impressed me. I've seen a lot of guilds not even try Garr with less than 4 warlocks. I'm not so much impressed with the kill--you should be able to kill Garr with 30--as with the willingness to actually try the fight with a non-optimum raid.

Plus their loot system is amusing. It's Fixed-Price DKP, only the price is a percentage of your DKP. Person with the highest DKP gets the item. So a piece of Tier 1 costs 25%. It's pretty crazy, and I'm still pondering the ramifications.

45-man Baron

I tried a 45-man Baron run for the first time on the weekend. It's a lot of fun. We didn't make it, but we gave it a good shot. We fought a couple of groups that we could have skipped, didn't really balance mana usage well, and had a bit too much downtime.

And honestly, me healing with my crazy 5/11/35 spec probably didn't help. I really need to get some gold and respec. :)

But still, it was crazy fun, and I'm really happy that Blizzard put it in. It's a solid, worthwhile challenge for 5 people.

Alterac Valley

I hit Exalted with AV over the weekend. Got my [The Unstoppable Force] and [Don Julio's Ring]. I'll probably pick up [The Immovable Object] when I get some cash.

This is the first reputation I've gotten to Exalted. Personally, I loathe grinding, so I never get anywhere with reputations.

Lightforge complete!

Also, I went on Strat Live run on the weekend and Lightforge Boots dropped. So I got the last piece of Lightforge that I was missing. Technically, I have 5/8 Lightforge, and 3/8 Soulforge, but it's all good.

The line between casual and hardcore raiding

Xias and Doeg asked about casual and hardcore raiding a couple posts ago.

Personally, I think that a guild cannot be all things to all people. You have to choose what you want to be. This means that occasionally you will have guild members leave your guild as they seek out things you cannot provide. If half the guild wants something and the other half wants something different, you need to pick a side.

If I was the guild leader, I would pick the option that I personally wanted. If you pick something that you are unhappy with, it will manifest in how you run the guild and poison your efforts. So in the case of the guild split, I would be proactive, choose someone to run the other side and split the guild into two. Being up front about everything allows you to maintain good relations with every one.

As to real life relationships, it's very common to have a husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or family in the same guild. So you do have be careful. Kicking a spouse will probably result in the other partner leaving. If you are fair and even-handed though, people will respect the decision you make.

Personally though, "not skilled enough" is not a kickable offense, in my mind. I think that, for the most part, innate skill is overrated, and you can always teach people to improve their play. Far more important are qualities like reliability, and low-drama.

But that's just me. I've never actually been in a guild with players who did not have some skill. I have been in guilds with people who went afk all the time, constantly asked questions about loot, or refused to buy Greater Blessing of Salvation.

On the scale of problems a guild member can have, being unskilled is a long ways down the list.

But that's just my opinion. Wanting to be in a guild with a lot of highly skilled prima donnas is another option. Honestly, you'll probably progress faster, if you don't blow up first. Doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me though, but it's your $15/month.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So You Want to be a Raider? Part Two

Are tradeskills other than First Aid useful?

Yes, all tradeskills are useful. Cooking gives you buffs, smithing allows you to make resistance gear, etc. However, the requirements I listed above are more important. If you have a choice between getting your Onyxia key or getting 300 Blacksmithing, go for the Onyxia key.

How do I find a raiding guild to join?

Join the GuildRecruitment channel, and watch for people advertising in the major cities.

On your WoW realm forums, there is usually a guild progression thread listing the guilds involved in endgame. Most of these threads have links to the guild websites.

As well, keep an eye on the realm forums, and check out the Guild Recruitment forum. Guilds often post to the forums if they are looking for people.

Participate in pickup groups. You may group with a raider, and she may tell you if her guild is looking for people.

What should I look for in a guild?

First, make sure that you can attend their raids. There's not much point in joining a raid guild when you can't make the raids. If the guild doesn't have their raid times listed, ask a member of the guild in game.

Second, make sure you like their loot system and rules. Loot is one of the major reasons for going to the trouble of raiding, so make sure you can live with the system the guild uses. Most guilds do not use the built-in rolling systems, but rather DKP or point systems.

Third, see if the guild is recruiting your class and if you meet their requirements. There's no harm in applying to a guild if you don't, but you are more likely to be successful if you are what the guild needs.

Try and make sure the guild is a good fit, personality-wise. This is often harder than it appears, because you don't really see the true face of the guild until you join. Don't join a guild if you dislike some of the guild members or have had bad experiences with them. You'll be spending a lot of time together, and it can get frustrating at times. Don't be afraid to leave a guild that isn't working out for you. Epics are not worth being unhappy!

How do I apply to a guild?

Most raiding guilds will have an application forum on their website, where you will find a list of requirements and an application template. Fill out the template to the best of your abilities.

Do not lie on your application. It's much better to be truthful, and lying will only create bad blood. If you seem to fall short of their requirements, it's much better to acknowledge it, rather than dance around the question. Also, if a guild asks you about your previous guilds, do not badmouth your old guilds. Be honest, but be classy.

Often, an application will ask you about your gear. It's useful to create a profile at a site like CTProfiles. This way, you can just put a link to your profile on the application.

Finally, only apply to one guild at a time. Most raiding guilds frown on people who apply to multiple guilds. Apply to one guild, and wait a couple days for a response. If they don't respond, contact them in-game and ask politely about their application. If you do decide to apply to another guild, post a response to your first application saying that you are withdrawing it.

I got into a guild, and am going on my first raid! What should I know?

Congratulations! Here are some quick tips to help you on your first raid:

1. Show up on time and prepared. Show up at the instance enterance a few minutes before the raid starts. Make sure you have all the gear you need, and that everything is repaired.

2. Have a stack of heavy runecloth bandages, 5x Major Health potions, and 5x Major Mana potions if you are a mana-user. You should also have enough reageants to last you the entire run. I usually bring twice as much as strictly necessary. It's better to have too many than to run out.

3. Follow instructions from the raid leader. If you don't understand something, speak up and ask a question. Also, it's a good idea to choose an experienced player of your class and follow her lead. Be careful here, because sometimes the experienced player can get away with riskier moves, so try to err on the side of caution. However, watching how the other player positions herself will often help you understand the fights.

4. Try and read up on the fights beforehand. A good source of information is WoWWiki. You never truely understand a fight until you experience it first hand, though. But reading up on it first can help a lot.

5. Don't go Away From Keyboard during the run unless absolutely necessary.

6. You probably won't get any loot from your first run, because you'll have less points than the other raiders. Don't expect loot, and don't bombard the raid with questions about loot. If you have questions or concerns about how loot is handled, ask after the raid.

7. Try to show up to all the raids, especially the learning ones. Don't expect a spot in a very cutting edge raid, because you will generally be outgeared by the other raiders. However, show up and be prepared to jump in if the raid needs you. Let the raid leader decide if you are geared enough. It's very important to show up to both the raids with a lot of wipes AND the raids with a lot of loot.

8. Have fun! Remember it's a game, so don't get so caught up in everything that you forget to have a good time. Blizzard has put in a lot of work into their raid dungeons, and it's worth taking the time to enjoy them.
Okay, I think that's everything. Post if you see anything missing or that should be added.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So You Want to be a Raider? Part One

What is this guide?

This is a guide to help new players prepare for raiding in World of Warcraft. This guide is aimed at players who have never raided before, but are interested in joining a raid guild and seeing this side of WoW.

What does this guide not cover?

This is not a guide to joining a high end raid guild currently working on an instance like Naxxramas. Following this guide will not get you into Death and Taxes. The advice is aimed at players looking to join a raid guild working on Molten Core.

This is also not a guide to turning your current guild into a raiding guild. For more information on that topic, I would suggest asking in the WoW Guild Relations forum.

Finally, the Burning Crusade expansion will be coming out fairly soon, and may make parts of this guide obsolete.

What are the endgame instances in WoW?

Currently, the non-raid endgame instances in WoW are (listed in rough order of difficulty):

Blackrock Depths (5-man)
Lower Blackrock Spire (tuned for 5, can do with 10)
Dire Maul (5-man)
Scholomance (5-man)
Stratholme (5-man)
Upper Blackrock Spire (10-man)

All of the above instances you can do on a regular basis without joining a raid guild. Simply look for pickup groups in the LookingForGroups channel.

The raid instances are (again, in rough order of difficulty):

Zul'Gurub (20-man)
Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20-man)
Molten Core (40-man)
Onyxia (40-man)
Blackwing Lair (40-man)
Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-man)
Naxxaramus (40-man)

These are the instances that you join a raid guild for. There are also several world bosses (Kazzak, Azuregos, Emerald Dragons) wandering around which require a raid to defeat.

Why do I need to join a raid guild?

Structure and Numbers. Raiding requires the cooperation of a significant number of people. Currently raids are made up of 20 or 40 Level 60s. Getting 20 or 40 people to work together for several hours at a time on a regular basis requires a specialized structure for support. As well, in addition to sheer numbers, raids need a balance of classes.

Most levelling guilds lack the structure, numbers or class balance to field raids on a regular basis. Therefore, if you wish to raid, it is my advice to seek out and join a raiding guild.

Why should I raid?

1. Loot. Raid instances offer the best loot in the game. Part of the fun of this game is making your character more and more powerful, and at level 60, loot is the means by which character progression is expressed.

2. New experiences. Raiding is a very different experience than the rest of the game. There is a thrill which comes from coming up with a plan to defeat the boss, and then executing that plan successfully.

3. Killing dragons is always fun.

What's the difference between raids and other instances?

Raid boss fights are much more intricate than fights found in other instances. Each boss fight is like a different little puzzle which your raid has to figure out. In my opinion, the pre-60 fight that is most like a raid boss fight is Archaedas in Uldaman.

Am I skilled enough to raid?

I'll let you in on a little secret: Raiding is not that hard. If you can do the 5/10-man dungeons, you are more than good enough to raid. The vast majority of raiders are just as skilled as you. They just happen to be in raid guilds.

There are other qualities which are as important as skill. A good raider is also dependable when it comes to showing up for raids, keeps her cool when wiping and getting frustrated, and is willing to follow orders.

What do I need to start raiding?

Each individual raid guild will have their own requirements. Here are some guidelines that should prepare you for most entry level raid guilds:

1. Level 60 (Purchase all your skills!)
2. 300 First Aid
3. Attuned to Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Onyxia
4. Decent gear for your class role
5. Download and install the CT_RaidAssist, CT_BossMods, and Decursive mods
6. Download and install Teamspeak and Ventrillo

Why do I need to be level 60?

All raid instances are tuned for level 60 characters. It is easiest to level to 60 and then start raiding.

Also, it is important to purchase all your skills. You never know when you might need a specific skill. I was once in a raid guild with a paladin who refused to purchase Greater Blessing of Salvation. That was very annoying.

300 First Aid?

Yes. Being able to bandage yourself is a huge boon for the healers, as it provides healing for no mana and no effort on their part. Get 300 First Aid, and keep a stack of Heavy Runecloth Bandages on you. Your healers will love you, and impressing the healers is a good way to stay alive.

As well, it's fairly easy to get to 300 First Aid. All you need are a few stacks of cloth.

What are attunements?

To enter Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Onyxia, you need to complete quests found in the 5/10-man dungeons. You should seek out and complete these quests as soon as possible.

You also need attunement to enter Naxxramas, but that is expensive, and is not an immediate concern.

What sort of gear do I need?

You generally should be geared mostly in blues from the 5/10-man dungeons. The best pre-raid gear is found in those instances listed above. In particular, Dire Maul is a good place for gear.

For most classes, Dungeon 1 set pieces (Lightforge, Devout, Shadowcraft, etc.) are good enough for early raiding. The major exception is the warrior class. A Warrior needs tanking gear (+def, +sta, +dodge/parry/block, high armor) as her primary role in raids is that of a tank.

Blues purchased off the Auction House tends to be very expensive. You can purchase greens to fill out your collection, but for the most part, instance blues will serve you better. The one exception is Abyssal Cloth/Plate/etc. Those are very good.

You do not need your Dungeon 2 set to start raiding. However, getting the first three pieces of Dungeon 2 is fairly easy, and they provide solid upgrades.

Don't go overboard trying to find the best gear possible. Epics found on raids will replace your gear eventually. Just try and put a decent set together before you start raiding.

The last element of gear to keep an eye out for is resistance gear. In raids, you will need fire/nature/frost resistance gear for certain fights. Try and accumulate such gear while you are collecting your regular gear. Again, don't go crazy, the best resist gear tends to be found on raids in any case, but anything you can collect will help.

Why do I need mods?

You don't absolutely need these mods, but a lot of guilds require them. As well, they make raiding life easier. Download them and try them out, but make sure you can play without them. Don't rely on them to play the game for you.

Why do I need Ventrillo/Teamspeak?

Again, these programs are not absolutely necessary. Most guilds find that voice communication allows for easier coordination of the raid. You don't need a microphone, but you should able to listen in.

If for some reason you cannot use Vent/Teamspeak (perhaps a physical disability), let your guild know, and most of them will do their best to accommodate you.

What should my talent spec for raiding be?

There are many strong opinions on what talents a raider should take. Every class generally has one talent tree, or several talents, that are specifically designed for raiding. You should be flexible, and willing to respec if needed (note that on your application to raid guilds).

That being said, I would advise attending a raid or two before respeccing. You have your current spec for a reason. Respeccing with an understanding of why you need to change will serve you better than choosing spec X because the internet said X was the best spec for raiding.

As well, sometimes it is important to see what the raid needs, and use that to determine what spec you should take. For example, if none of the other paladins have Improved Blessing of Might, maybe you should consider a spec which incorporates it.

Alright, I'm tired of writing. That's Part One. I'll try to write Part Two later this week, addressing finding a raid guild and what to do on a raid.

If you have any questions that should be answered, post them, and I'll work them into Part Two.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I've started my guild, and have been recruiting. I did manage to recruit a few people, and so the Winter Court is up to about 5 60s. I've gone on UBRS with a couple of them, and am actually very happy with the quality of members. If we can get 35 more like them, we will do extremely well.

On the down side, I think I've made a couple of mistakes already. First, I changed raid dates. There's a very interesting discussion in the comments of the previous post, and I agree with the side that says you should have fixed, predictive raid dates. Yet I switched my raid dates from Mon/Wed/Thurs/Sun to Mon/Fri/Sat/Sun. Basically, real life interfered. My work hours will be unpredictable for the next little while, so focusing around the weekend will allow me to be present more often. As well, it is fairly early in the guild lifespan, so it shouldn't have much of an impact.

The second mistake was recruiting a few non-60s. I've been thinking about this a lot, and while the non-60s are good players, they are playing a different game than the rest of us. There are two games in WoW, levels 1-59, and level 60. I think a guild needs to focus on the game it is playing, and have players that share in that goal. Rather than recruiting 50s early, it may be better in the long run to wait until they hit 60 and realize that they are playing the second game.

Of course, I'm going to keep my current non-60s. It would be terribly unfair to boot them. However, I think I'm going to make being level 60 a requirement of joining from now on.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Winter Court

Well, I think I've finished a lot of the basic structure for my new guild, the Winter Court.

Now all I need is actual members. :)

Any critiques or comments regarding the charter, raiding rules, loot system, or application template would be appreciated. I'm pretty sure I've missed something important.


I think I'm going to leave off examining Burning Crusade changes until after things settle down. The Protection tree has already gotten more changes since my last post.

In the mean time, I decided to spec Retribution. I'm now 5/11/35. It's amusing, but not really that different from the other builds. Somehow, regardless of what talents I take, it always feels more or less the same. The only talent I really miss is Spiritual Focus. (Please, Blizzard, move it back to Tier 1!)

In other news, I'm not having much luck with my search for a guild. I really don't want to apply to an MC or starting guild. That kind of sounds bad, like I'm only in it for the loot. However, I'm scared of joining an MC guild, getting up to Ragnaros, and then watching the guild implode. I've already done that twice now.

The problem is that, in my opinion, most starting raiding guilds have deficiencies in structure that lead to the implosion. The officers are generally new to raiding, and while they are doing their best, they lack experience. Structural mistakes are often subtle, and look good at first glance. A great example is a very fair DKP system that proves too complex for the officers to handle. Administration overhead is one element that is too often overlooked by raiders.

And it's not like I can walk in to a guild, and tell them that they are doing X wrong, and that X should be changed. I'd resent that if it happened to me.

But then, if I believe that I do know what a good structure is like, I need to put my money where my mouth is. To that end, I'm starting a raiding guild.

The big problem though, is that there's currently a grand total of one member in my guild (well,proto-guild, I still have to get signatures for the charter). And I have no real idea how I'm going to recruit. I don't really know any unguilded people, so it's going to be pure selling to strangers, which is really hard for me.

Oh well, it should be interesting. If anyone on Skywall Alliance wants to join the Winter Court, feel free to look me up. :)

(I'll post a link to the webpage when I finish it.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Burning Crusade Paladins: Protection

Blizzard has released some of the new spells and talents in the expansion. I'm going to take a look at each tree and give some thoughts on the new spells and talents. I'm going to start with Protection.


Righteous Defense
Come to the defense of a friendly target, commanding up to 3 enemies attacking the target to attack the Paladin instead.

The AoE taunt. Looks solid. Pretty good for our role of "protectors of the cloth". If you enable Target-of-Target, it will be trivial to use to taunt a specific mob as well.
Seal of Justice - Rank 2
Fills the Paladin with the spirit of justice for 30 sec, giving each melee attack a chance to stun for 2 sec. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time.

Unleashing this Seal's energy will judge an enemy for 10 sec, preventing them from fleeing
and limiting their movement speed. Your melee strikes will refresh the spell's duration. Only one Judgement per Paladin can be active at any one time.

The new Seal of Justice depends a great deal on what "limiting their movement speed" means. If it's an out and out reduction in speed, like Hamstring, this is a great boost. However, it's also possible that it just means that you can't use speed boost abilities to increase your speed past 100%. In that case, it's a small boost, but may be useful with your own permanent speed increases like Pursuit of Justice. Hopefully the side effect of being immune to Fear while affected by Judgement of Justice has been removed.


Increases your resistance to Stun effects by an additional 10% and reduces the chance your spells will be dispelled by an additional 30%.

This is a decent 2pt PvP talent. Nothing amazing, but the anti-dispel is nice as purge-happy shamans are annoying.
Improved Resistance Auras
Your Resistance Auras also reduce all spell damage taken by an additional 5%.

This is an all-star talent. 2pts for 5% less damage is really good.
Improved Divine Shield
Reduces the cooldown of your Divine Shield spell by 1 min and reduces the attack speed penalty by 100%.

LOL. Sometimes, I love Blizzard. Everyone complains about paladin bubbles, so they give us a talent that makes them even better. Again, much more useful in PvP than PvE.
Ardent Defender
When you have less than 20% health, all damage taken is reduced by 50%.

Now this is an intriguing talent. The paladin boards seem to disdain this talent, but I think it may be good for tanking. The key to this talent is to ask, if I am tanking, when will I be at less than 20% health?

Given that most bosses do steady dps and additional spike damage in the form of special abilities, if you drop to less than 20% health, it probably means that you were just critted by a special ability. In that case, Redoubt will proc and combined with Holy Shield, means that you probably push criticals off the combat table, meaning the next few attacks will not crit. So blocks and half damage should be enough to buy your healers the few seconds they need to complete their big heals.

However, I'm not really sure how this will work in actual play, and it will be very interesting to watch. In PvP, I don't think it will help all that much. It might buy you one or two seconds, but I don't think it will be worth the 5 points for a primary PvP'er, give that you might get dropped from 30% to 0% quite easily, and this talent will do nothing to help.
Weapon Expertise
Increases your weapon skill with all weapons by 10.

Decent talent. Reduces the number of glancing blows and misses against end-game bosses, which will help a lot in generating threat. Again, mainly PvE.
Avenger's Shield
Hurls a holy shield at the enemy, dealing 270 to 330 Holy damage, dazing them and then jumping to nearby enemies. Affects 3 total targets.

The Captain America move! If this talent has a half-way decent animation, I am probably going to spec Protection. This is everything a 41-point talent should be. Fun, unique, and stylish. And it dazes people! Which means you use it to slow runners.

Actually, let's be honest, I'm going to be using this whenever the cooldown is up. About the only downside is that you can't use it to pull. Although you are a Protection Paladin, so pulling 3 mobs at a time isn't that big a deal.

My final verdict is that the new Protection tree is very good. The mid-level has been fleshed out with useful talents, and the end talents are solid. Plus you get to throw your shield at people! The only real downside is that the first tier of Protection is still a little lackluster, especially compared to Holy or Retribution.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Patch 1.12 Experiences

I haven't had a lot of time to play WoW in the last week or so. I did take a quick look at some of the new things in the latest patch.

  • World PvP - seems interesting. Probably will be a lot more fun on a PvP server. Nothing much was happening on Skywall when I checked in. In EPL, the Alliance had already capped all the towers. It's going to really hard for me to complete the 'Capture the Towers' quest at this rate.

  • Cross-server Battlegrounds - Awesome. Wait times have plummeted Alliance-side. I hear it's a little buggy, but it seemed to be working well enough.

  • Battleground Improvements - The automatic raids is really nice. I'm actually seeing some leadership from the highest ranked people in the BGs, and that is a vast improvement. And I don't have to worry about healing or Blessing of Sacrificing non-raid members.

  • Scrolling Combat Text - Pretty good. Looks like a nice, clean implementation. The one item of info I really miss, however, is the amount you healed someone else for, with the overheal separated out. That was a really useful piece of information.

  • Seal of the Crusader - SotC is currently bugged like crazy. It's giving me slightly more than double the amount of bonus Attack Power that it gave pre-1.12. I think that it is adding some +AP bonuses twice. Ah well, should be fun until Blizzard fixes it.

All in all, it was a pretty small patch. Maybe this means that the expansion is not far off.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Options for Raid Guilds

A lot of existing raid guilds are worried because the new raid cap means that they will have to change their structure to meet the new requirements. Here is a listing of the options as I see them.

1. Stop recruiting and let attrition reduce the guild size.

All guilds suffer attrition. People leave for real life or other options. During the levelling from 60-70, you'll probably have some natural attrition, decreasing the numbers in the guild. This might leave you at the proper size, and it might not. If it doesn't, you'll have to use one of the other options

2. Cut the weakest people in the guild.

Identify your weakest players and cut them. This gets you down to the required size, and preserves the strongest part of your guild. However, it's painful to have to leave your friends. As well, this decision is ruthless and may cause a lot of drama.

3. Recruit more and run two raids.

If you recruit a few more people, you will have enough to run two raids. However, running two raids is a lot of administrative work. Splitting people up into an "A" Team and a "B" Team may also cause bad feelings, as people on the "B" Team will feel slighted.

This might be interesting in a winged dungeon, though. Team A could work on one wing, and Team B could work on another wing. The two raids could swap strategies as they defeat bosses, making it easier for the other team.

4. Introduce rotations.

Instead of each person raiding 5 nights a week, each person raids 4 nights, allowing everyone to raid, though at a lesser rate than previous. The advantage is that everyone remains together. Some people may dislike sitting out, though. Progression will also be much slower, as it will take longer to gear everyone up and for everyone to learn the encounters.

5. Set up an Guild Arena PvP team.

Take 4-10 people who like PvP and set them up as an Arena team. While the rest of the guild raids, the Arena team goes out and PvPs. Then when a PvP season ends, the Arena team takes their new toys and is folded back into the raiding team, and a new PvP team is set up.

Advantage is that the people who are not raiding are doing their own thing. They are upholding the guild name and reputation on the battlefield. As well, it provides a nice opportunity for people to experience PvP as a solid team. It gives people an opportunity to mix things up. Hardcore raid for a while, then hardcore PvP. There may be a hiccup in guild quality at the end of each season as people come back to the raiding group, as you have to gear and train the PvP'ers.

Personally, I think I would go with a mixture of attrition and PvP Arena teams. I think it would be the easiest, depending on the length of a PvP season. It gives people an opportunity to try different things and get different gear. Also, it'll give your raiders a chance to go off-spec, and indulge their inner Shadow Priest/Feral Druid/etc. to their heart's content.

As well, I am quite partial to the notion of having a team specifically carry the guild banner in PvP. A good guild has to maintain a certain reputation after all.

Thoughts? Any other ideas on what a raiding guild should do?

Monday, August 14, 2006

25-Man Raids

Time to take on the current hot topic in WoW circles: the new 25-man raid cap.

Unsurprisingly, I think this is a good idea. I have always maintained that the single hardest thing about raiding is the transition from levelling guild to raiding guild. Reducing the number of 60s required is a great help for a new guild to achieve critical mass. I think this change will go a long way to seeing more people trying out the raiding scene, and I think that it is a good thing.

Raiding is fun, and I would love to see more players get a chance to realize that.

Secondly, I don't think the current raiding ecosystem is healthy. Maybe I've just been unlucky, but it doesn't seem like raiding guilds are particularly stable, especially ones that are not on the top tier. There's been some research that beyond 50 people, guild cohesion drops dramatically. I think this is true. Smaller guilds are more tightly knit. Even the top tier guilds seem to be constantly recruiting.

Also, this division into raiding guild and levelling guild is not healthy either. When I levelled my warlock, I deliberately turned down guild invites. I wanted to raid, and I didn't want to join a guild and then leave them at 60 for a raiding guild. Realistically though--unless I was incredibly lucky--that is probably what I would have to do. I think a game that forces this choice on people is flawed. Ideally, I should be able to join a guild, level with them, and move into raiding together. With 40-man raids, I do not think this is truely possible.

However, there is a price to pay for this change, and I don't think that we should make light of it. The current raiding guilds are going to have to change, and maybe make some painful decisions. And I do feel bad for them. It will really suck to have to reduce your raiding force by 15 members, or attempt to juggle 2 raids. Hopefully, guild churn during the expansion--either attrition while levelling or older players coming back or people rolling Blood Elves/Draenai--will lessen the magnitude of change needed.

In my view, though, the new cap will result in many more guilds and players attempting and using raid content, and so the price is worth paying.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Bad Explorer

Continuing the discussion of Bartle Player Types.

I think a bad Explorer is one who hoards knowledge, and delights in seeing other people fail because they lack it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Blood Elf Paladins and Faction Imbalance

It looks like I was wrong about Horde Paladins and Alliance Shamans being a joke. Too bad. While this move does solve the mechanical imbalance between the two factions, it does so in the least elegant way possible. (Not to mention that the whining has already started about racial abilities.) I'm kind of disappointed in Blizzard, and I still think that making the two sides less unique is a bad move in the long term.

However, a more interesting question is whether this move (and Blood Elves/Draenai in general) will solve the more pressing problem of numerical imbalance. In many ways, the Horde's biggest problem in raiding is lack of numbers. The Alliance has a much bigger pool of recruits to sustain the raiding guilds, and high end Alliance guilds have the option of feeding on lower guilds. But why is there an imbalance in the first place?

If you look at this article at PlayOn, you can see that the Alliance:Horde ratio stays fairly steady. However, there is a significant difference between server types. On PvE/RP servers, the ratio is 2 Alliance for every 1 Horde. But on a PvP server, the ration is 1 Alliance for every 1 Horde. Why is there such a difference?

I think the explanation lies in the Bartle player types. Killers are far more likely to roll on a PvP server. After all, their entire reason to play is to challenge and defeat other players, and PvP offers far more opportunity for that than PvE. So the difference in Alliance:Horde ratios can be explained with the theory that Killers are more likely to roll Horde than non-Killers.

This sort of makes intuitive sense as well. The Horde races project power. They are larger and more brutish. While not precisely evil, they are more likely to be the 'monster' races in other games. So it's kind of natural that a Killer would gravitate towards the Horde.

So why don't the non-Killers like the Horde? There are several possible explanations:

1. Alliance has better PvE racials that attract the Achiever. While this is true, it's very subtle, and really only raises it's head at level 60. As well, the ratios are very steady, and if this was strictly true, we should see the ratio for Alliance rising as more Achievers switch over. Instead, the steady ratio indicates to me that new players are making characters at the same ratio, before they really understand the mechanics.

2. Alliance races are prettier and do not project power. Perhaps non-Killers prefer playing prettier races. In the case of the Socializer, it may be deliberate to get away from Killers.

3. Non-Killers prefer to play the 'good guys'. Maybe a greater amount of people would prefer to what are normally the good guys, rather than the bad guys. As well, the Alliance has Paladins, which are viewed as extremely good characters.

It could also be a combination of things. As well, a lot of people simply follow their friends, so one person who feels strongly about race could influence the choice of a whole bunch of people. My first character was Horde, and I made it because an Achiever friend was playing Horde, and he made his because a Killer friend insisted on playing Horde. One Killer made a choice that dragged multiple Achievers and Explorers along.

But in any case, the important question is 'Can Blood Elves attract a greater portion of non-Killers to the Horde?'

I am not too sure of the answer. Blood Elves are clearly a 'pretty' race, so that may hold a greater attraction. But their racials appear to be more PvP oriented. And a greater mistake may be that they are evil in the mythos. They have paladins, but the paladins are 'evil' paladins (torturing an angel/Naaru and whatnot). If the motivator to play Alliance is to play the good guys, the Blood Elves don't help in that regard.

The problem is that it is fairly obvious why the Horde is more attractive to Killers. But it is less obvious why the Alliance is more attractive to non-Killers, and that will make a huge difference in whether the expansion numerically balances the two factions.

Personally, I would have made the Blood Elves an obviously 'good' race, and if they had paladins, to make the paladins truely good paladins. (The Lore, as Blizzard has proven, is fairly easy to manipulate.) At the same time, the Draenai could have been left as their original evil-ish selves. That way, the people who want to play the good side end up on Horde, in addition to the people looking at mechanics and racial looks.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bartle's Players Who Suit Muds

I'm working on a rather long post, and I find that I need to provide background information. So rather than trying to work it into the post, I'm talking about it here. Plus, it's an interesting topic in and of itself.

Dr. Richard Bartle wrote a paper, Players Who Suit Muds, back in 1990. Though taken from old-school text muds, a lot of it is still relevant today.

In his paper, Dr. Bartle divides players into four categories:

Achievers - people seek to beat the game, by amassing loot or gear or killing bosses.

Explorers - people who try and find out as much about the game as possible.

Socializers - people who's main interests are in interacting with other players.

Killers - people who seek to defeat other players.

Of course, this is a bit simplistic, as most people have elements of each of the four player types. But usually one style is dominant.

For example, I'm pretty close to pure Explorer, as I'm pretty sure most of my posts have demonstrated. I get my enjoyment from learning about the game, doing new things, and seeing what makes things tick. I do have a bit of Achiever, as I like getting new loot, but I'm pretty far down on the Socializer or Killer scale.

Also, none of these archetypes are inherently good or bad. Your awesome raid leader is an Achiever, the guy who comes up with useful new strategies or advice is an Explorer, the guildmaster who holds the guild together is a Socializer, the best PvP'er in the battleground is a Killer. Loot whores are bad Achievers, drama queens are bad Socializers, griefers are bad Killers. I'm not entirely sure what a bad Explorer would be, maybe someone who refuses to help with old content.

Dr. Bartle's paper is a very interesting read, as he describes the different types in more detail, and the effect each type has on the others. I found that I could look at the personalities and arguments in the game in a different light. Of course, since I am an Explorer, this is the kind of stuff that appeals to me. :)

So which archetype are you?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I had my first real ninja yesterday. I was on a Strat Live run, and [Pattern: Truefaith Vestments] dropped. As there was no priest in the group, we decided to free roll it. After the roll, which I won, a warlock looted the pattern and hearthed.

So I contacted an officer in his guild. It turned out that it was the warlock's brother who was playing the character, and the real warlock sent me some gold in an effort to make up for the ninja, which I shared with the other group members. It's possible that he could have been lying, but I didn't really care.

Apparently the warlock was a tailor, and the warlock's brother learned the pattern for him, which amused me greatly.

All in all, it was an interesting experience. In my mind, it just reinforces the notion that the whole "pass on blues and epics and discuss" is a bad idea. Need/Greed takes care of the vast majority of cases.

As another random observation, the group was really competent for a pickup group. I think dropping the instance cap to 5 has done a lot of good for people's skill levels.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nefarian, Lord of Blackrock Spire

I've been killing a lot of new bosses these last couple days. Yesterday we downed the Prophet Skeram in AQ40, and got in some attempts on Battleguard Sartura. Today we blew through Blackwing Lair, one-shotting every boss up to Nefarian. Nef himself took two attempts, but he went down nicely on the second one.

Of the new fights, the Nefarian fight was probably the best, followed by Skeram. Vael was pretty interesting, but I got Burning Adrenaline fairly early and died. I was sad that Vael did not do the "Forgive me Coriel, your death only adds to my failure" line, as I probably died too close to an earlier death. But still, it's a neat fight, and I always like fighting dragons.

As for Nef, it's fun being a paladin. I don't have an Onyxia Scale Cloak, but I survived the Shadowflame with a bubble. Also, the paladin class call is a joke. So we stop fighting for a few seconds, it's not that much of a problem. Nef should Hammer of Justice the main tank or something. That would be funny.

Also, I got to melee-heal a fair bit in the last half of BWL: Ebonroc, Chromaggus, and Nefarian. Meleeing on Chromaggus in particular is very helpful, as JoWisdom helps keep the mana up for Cleanse. We had the Timelapse/Corrosive Acid breaths. I really wish I had a single point in Lasting Judgement, though. It would make keeping up Judgements so much easier.

So far, my verdict on BWL is that it is extremely melee-friendly for paladins, as is Skeram and everything up to Sartura. The Sartura fight itself, I'm not so sure about. Paladins meleeing with Seal of Justice, and HoJ rotations might be a good idea, at least on Sartura herself. The AoE from the adds may be too much. Most strats I've seen keep the rogues off the adds, and if the rogues don't go in, it's probably a bad idea for the paladins to. In any case, I think it was only the guild's second attempt at her, so we were basically just learning how the fight works.

Of course, I predict responses saying that paladins should not melee in anything beyond Sartura. It's amusing how the "Paladins Should Not Melee" parts of this game always coincide with the parts I have not done yet. :)

Ah well. It's been a fun couple of days. Hopefully I'll get a chance to kill Ragnaros sometime soon.