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.
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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

Updates

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.

Crossroads

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.)