Archive for March, 2010


The Good and Bad about Running Your Own Guild

I’ve been the GM of my guild for a long time, now – since before we started in Karazhan back in the BC days.  I didn’t start the guild.  I inherited it when our former GM jumped to a supposedly better guild (it wasn’t).  I’ve held the guild together in the best of times, when we had 30+ online almost every night, and the worst of times, when we had 2-3 on each evening and considered disbanding.

These days I don’t really do a whole lot in the day-to-day running of the guild.  I have delegated responsibilities to officers.  I don’t run raids – I have three officers who (occasionally) share that job.  I don’t recruit – there are others who do that far better than I.  Mostly, I resolve disputes and give advice, and my attitudes toward the game drive the direction that the guild goes.  I surround myself with people who share similar views, and I value their advice and input.

I am not a dictator.  Almost every decision about the guild is bounced off my officers in officer chat or in our forums.

There are good and bad things about running a guild.  If you’re considering starting your own guild, don’t think that its all going to be smooth sailing.  Here are some things I wish I knew before I took over.

  • People think you have all the answers.  When there’s guild drama, people expect you to resolve it quickly with some brilliant insight or decisive statement.  Sometimes you don’t have that insight.  Sometimes what you say makes things worse.
  • Each night when you log in the game, there is the potential to log off feeling either really good or really bad. When our guild gains new members, or has a great fun night in chat, or pulls off a really successful raid, I feel a sense of pride in much the way that a parent feels proud of a child.  Even if my role in the success was small, I feel like I contributed something positive to the lives of all those people.  On the flip side, though, when there is drama or arguments or when people /gquit in a huff I really take it personally.  There are times that I have gone for days without logging on just to avoid confronting those feelings.  It can be a real roller coaster at times.
  • You think worry about the game even when you’re not online. Now, a lot of people do this anyway.  Lots of people think about the game when they are not playing it.  This is different, though.  When you run the guild, its a persistent nagging feeling that you might be missing something important.  You worry that there might be some confrontation that you could have defused if only you were online.  Its just a slight concern that’s always there in the back of your mind.
  • You need to have leadership qualities. If you want your guild to survive for the long term, just running raids each week is unlikely to be successful.  You’ll need to have officer meetings and guild meetings.  You’ll have to step in and tell people what to do sometimes.  You’ll have to take an authoritative role, sometimes with people who are older than you or have played WoW longer than you.  You’re the boss, so you’ve got to be ready to take the reins.

OK, those first few items came off as negative.  There are definitely positive sides to running your own guild.

  • You get to play the way you like to play.  My philosophies about the game dictate the way the game goes.  Those who disagree with my playstyle don’t stay in the guild.  I get to play with a lot of people who enjoy WoW the same way I do – casual and friendly, but still goal-oriented.
  • You get invited to lots of stuff.  No one is going to turn the GM down for heroics, and unless you are really a bad player you’ll have a raid spot too.  This is not to say that you should start a guild just to secure a raid spot because your other guild left you out.  If you’re only pulling 1.5k dps, then your raiders will leave the guild rather than raid with you.  You still need to earn your spot.  If you ever have to say “I get to raid because I am the GM” then your guild is doomed.  But if you are a competent player then you won’t be left on the bench.
  • You get to be a teacher.  People often look to the GM for advice and guidance.  If you enjoy that role then you can really make a difference in the game experience for your guildmates.
  • You are providing a positive environment for others. You can offer a guild that has camaraderie, or a safe place to chat, or hardcore PvP.  Your guild is a place for other people to feel comfortable in their online time.  That’s a good feeling.

Baring my soul for a moment, I do have a big fear about being the GM.  Nothing lasts forever.  Its simple reality to look ahead to the day that my guild might fall apart.  While I’ve never been part of a guild that dissolved, I’ve known people who were in other guilds that  broke up.  Usually, the core of the guild leaves and the GM is left holding together the remnants.  My biggest fear about being a GM is that my friends in the game will leave for other guilds and I’ll be left behind.  Its that irrational?  Too sappy?  Perhaps.  But its something that crosses my mind every now and then and it makes me sad.


What bosses have you Evasion-tanked?

If you’ve raided a lot as a rogue, you’ve probably had to evasion-tank when a tank died or if a dps (maybe you) pulled the boss off the tank.  Sometimes its just a matter of staying alive untl the tank can taunt him back.  Sometimes, though, its epic.

This past week we were doing a Sartharion 3D zerg to get someone their black drake mount.  With about 5% health left, the tank died.  I immediately went into emergency-mode.  I was third on the threat list when the tank died.  If I were a plate-wearer, or  druid with bear form, I might have tried to tank him and see if the healers could keep me alive.  As a leather-wearing rogue, there’s no chance of that.

So, I pop Vanish to wipe my threat.  Yes, that means that Sarth and all the adds are going after the healers now and then the ranged dps.  No matter – once the tank classes are dead the healers have no purpose anymore since Sarth can one-shot all the leather and mail dps.  While Sarth is running around munching on the rest of the raid, I’m dpsing and keeping Rupture up so the DoT will keep ticking after I die.

I’m watching his health bar drop as the remaining dps unloads on him.  Finally he gets down to my spot on the threat list.  Sarth turns to me and I hit Evasion.  Dodge, dodge, dodge, and down he goes.

That’s the second time I’ve tanked the boss down to his death on a Sarth 3D zerg.  I also evasion-tanked Prince Malchezzar from 1% to dead back in the Karazhan days.  I’m sure I’ve done similar things on other bosses, but Sarth and Prince were the ones that stand out.

Have you evasion-tanked a boss to its death?


Using the LFD to level

I’m down to about a post every week and a half.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been busy lately, and when my time is short and I have to choose between playing WoW or blogging about WoW, I’ve chosen playing.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was leveling my mage using only the LFD tool.  I’ve done no quests except the occasional “talk to this guy” or to turn in a “This Item Begins a Quest” drop that I picked up in an instance.  I started this project in January with him at level 23.  He’s now at level 60.

Pros and Cons –

The best part about this is that I have not had to spend any time running back and forth across zones.  Also, since this is my fourth toon, I don’t have to do the same quests that I have already done three times already.  Most importantly, I won’t have to level through Outland again.

I”l be honest.  There are plenty of downsides to this method.  First of all is gold.  Without running quests, my income is severly limited.  If I didn’t have a main with a lot of gold it would have been a problem.  I’ve needed to get gold from my main for training, leveling professions, and my mounts.  If you’re leveling your first toon then this is not the way to go.

Its also not as fast as questing.  My friends in the guild who started their toons around the same time as me are already at 80.

Another problem is gear.  Since my only source of gear are boss drops and greens from trash mobs, upgrades are few and far between.  At level 60, I’ll still running around with a couple of pieces I got in my 30’s.

Here’s my rundown of the instances that I’ve done so far:

When I started this project in my mid-20s I got Razorfen Kraul repeatedly.  This was pretty easy, so the runs went smoothly.  Gnomeregan, though, was terrible.  If anyone left the party, the replacement couldn’t get to us from the entrance because of random respawns, so we would give up if a single person dropped.  I only finished Gnomer once in about 8 attempts.

In my upper 20s and low 30’s I got Scarlet Monastery Graveyard many, many, many times.  That was fast, but it got old.  A couple of levels later and I got SM: Library and Cathedral a few times.  Cathedral was fun… a good tank could round up about 30 mobs and we would AoE them down.  I never got Armory in the random dungeon.  All the SM instances were great.  We rarely wiped, and when we did the wipe recovery wasn’t too bad.

In my late-30s and early 40’s I got Uldaman a few times.  This was a blessing and a curse.  It was so big that a single run could give me almost a full level of XP.  Unfortunately, it was so hard to nagivate that a single wipe usually meant the group would disband rather than recover and restart.

Early level 40s brought Zul’Farrak – one of my all-time favorite instances.  Those runs were good.  Again, we rarely wiped.  Wipe recovery wasn’t terrible because you could mount inside the instance so the run back was quick.  I completed every ZF run that I got in the random LFD, and they gave a load of XP.

The mid-late 40’s brought Maraudon and Sunken Temple.  Both of these are HUGE.  They are terrible for LFD.  Every wipe resulted in the group disbanding.  No one wanted to run all the way back.  For Maraudon, most people can’t even find the instance entrance because of the maze of caves before it.  Sunken Temple is even worse.  The multi-level layout makes the minimap useless.  Both of these instances were a real chore to finish.  Fortunately, I only got assigned to Sunken Temple a few times.  Maraudon, though… I’ll have nightmares of that for months.

The 50’s got even worse.  Blackrock Depths is a great instance, but not with LFD.  The run back from the graveyard is tremendously long.  A wipe resulted in a 20 minute recovery, and so people would drop group.  There is tons of trash and inexperienced tanks could really get themselves in trouble.  Further, if no one has the Shadowforge Key then you are limited in what parts of the instance you can do.  I drew BRD in the random dungeon dozens of times, but only completed it once.

The late 50’s brought Dire Maul, which is not too hard but no one really knows where to go.  We only did DM East, which was OK.  DM West was much harder.  I liked DM, especially when compared to the horror of pugging BRD.  But then in level 55-57 I got Lower Blackrock Spire a bunch of times.  LBRS had the same problems as BRD… really big, hard to navigate, and really far from the graveyard.  In all of my LBRS runs I never got to more than one boss.  Eww.  (funniest was when one tank ran into UBRS by mistake.  Oops!)

Other than Dire Maul, level 50-57 was terrible for pugging.  Just when I was starting to despair and consider giving up on the LFD leveling method, I hit level 58.  It all gets better at level 58.  Why?  All the Death Knights join the game at level 59.  Sure, they are often noobs and sometimes can’t play the game worth a darn.  But the shortage of tanks goes away, and the queue time drops from 20 minutes to about 6-10.  Also, you get to start the Outland instances, which are better designed and easier to recover from wipes.

So far I’ve done Hellfire Ramparts several times.  Its quick, easy, and even a noob DK can tank it.  And that’s where I am now.

Edit:  Since I wrote this post, I have made it to level 69.  The Outland instances were a breeze compared to the late vanilla dungeons.  Most runs went well, until I started getting Sethekk Halls and Auchenai Crypts, which are obnoxious.  I’m a little sad that I only got to see a handful of the Outland dungeons on this toon.  I never drew Shadow Lab using LFD, or any of the Mechanar=Botanica-Arcatraz trio. That’s a shame.


Yes, I Used the ICC Buff and I’m Not Ashamed

Hi, my name is Dinaer.  And I used the 5% buff in ICC.

<at this point, a portion of you are mentally calling me insults about how terribad I am, while the rest are hiding the fact that you used the buff also>

My guild has had enormous time issues in ICC.  We barely have time to raid in there at all.  Some weeks we don’t even set foot in there, while others we only get the first 3-4 bosses.  We actually had to extend the raid ID this week just to take a shot at Rotface, who we had not yet killed.

When we went in, the first question the raid leader asked was, “Should we leave the buff on or turn it off?”

Now, I play WoW as somewhat of a tourist.  I really want to see all the fights, and its nice when they are a challenge, but the thing that drives me is getting to new bosses and enjoying the fights.  I take no real joy in killing a boss before other guilds, or in somehow e-peening about how I did it before it was nerfed.  Rotface is enough of a challenge due to its mechanics that the 5% buff was going to help but still not make the fight trivial.  A lot of the other raiders in my guild have similar views.  Plus, we knew we only had about an hour worth of attempts on him.  So we decided to keep the buff up.

As an aside, I do think that the buff was added a little early.  We would have eventually gotten Rotface through the normal process of gearing up through Emblems and other boss kills.  This could have waited another month or more.

We went in, cleared to him quickly, and jumped right in.  We still wiped a few times refreshing ourselves on the mechanics.  When we finally got the kill it was just the tank, a healer, and one dps left standing to finish him off.

I’ll let you in on a secret… we still whooped and hollered when Rotface died.  There was no thought of it being somehow less of a kill since we had the 5% buff.  We were excited, took screenshots, and oohed and aahed over the loot.

Don’t let the elitists tell you otherwise.  We all play the game to have fun in our own way.  Its OK to use the buff.


And we raided uphill in the snow!

My raiding career started with Karazhan and continued with Gruul and Magtheridon and a little of SSC before Northrend opened up.  Last week I was reminiscing about Burning Crusade raiding, and talking with my family about some of the things that vanished from the game after Wrath dropped.  I was thinking about some of the things that we dealt with then that the newer generation of WoW players has never seen…

Wait for 5 Sunders! You young’uns don’t know what it was like!  Back then, tanks didn’t generate infinite threat!  Rogues didn’t have Tricks of the Trade, and even a hunter misdirect only gave the tank a small head start.  So when the tank pulled, we all stood there twiddling our thumbs while we waited for the warrior tank to get Sunder Armor to a 5-stack.  Only then did DPS open up.

And for that matter, where did Warrior Tanks go?  In BC almost every main tank was a warrior.  Druids were considered by many to be sub-optimal and paladins were usually used for fights with a lot of trash to group-tank.  Now that AoE rules the day, warriors have faded away…

Threat was such an issue!  We always had to watch Omen like a hawk to make sure we didn’t pull aggro (and before Omen everyone used KLH Threatmeter).  To help us out, every DPS depended on the paladin’s Blessing of Salvation.  This pally buff reduced threat by 30%.  It was removed when Blizzard re-worked paladins in Wrath.  Without it, in BC rogues would have been threat-capped in most fights.

I remember when we did only triple-digit dps!  I mean, look at this combat log parse from a Karazhan run sometime shortly before Wrath dropped…

I did 827 dps overall (with a whopping 1200 on Shade of Aran)!  Our whole raid did just over 3000!  Wrath has increase my dps by almost a factor of ten!!! Talk about overpowered!

We all know that crowd control has been lost in the group-em-up-and-AoE situation now.  Ah, for the days when you couldn’t do that.  I still remember the Moroes fight… using every type of CC at our disposal to control his minions while fighting the boss.  These days, every now and then we still use polymorph or freezing traps in certain situations.  But whatever happened to Shackle Undead?  Do priests even have that on their button bar anymore?  Considering how much undead we’ve seen in Naxx and ICC you’d think that there would have been at least one shackle sometime!

The first really, really good player I ever played with was a guy named Martholomew.  He was a hunter and he knew his class forward and backward.  When we ran heroics back in BC, he was a one-man crowd control machine through his use of chain traps.  Locking a single mob down, double-trapping, and even triple-trapping while the game mechanics briefly allowed it were all in his repertoire.    Do hunters ever learn that skill now?

For rogues, we specced for combat daggers and we liked it!  That’s right, we actually had a button for Backstab! Can you imagine?  I raided as assassination for much of BC, until combat daggers became superior enough that I was forced to make the switch for the benefit of my raid group.

And raiding rogues often specced far enough in the Subtlety tree to get Dirty Tricks.  Since sap was an important part of crowd control, having that extra range on sap was very valuable.  Now that we don’t sap, we don’t need that talent anymore.  [bonus to really old-timers who remember when this was called Improved Sap, and without that talent you would break stealth when you sapped things]

AoE?  Not for us rogues!  You rogues that have fun with your 15k dps using FoK on trash packs.  Spoiled, you are!  Back in the day, if we did pull a pack of trash mobs (like the ghosts before Moroes) the mages and warlocks and hunters went nuts while we sadly wished for a shorter CD on Blade Flurry, or we used bombs.

How about Picking Locks?  Back in BC it was used for more than opening lockboxes.  In Shattered Halls, a rogue with lockpicking skill could open a door and bypass a hallway full of slimes.  And while everyone else had to do long quest chains to get the key for Karazhan and Shadow Labyrinth, us rogues could just pick those locks and open the doors ourselves!  Inside instances we would find locked chests that needed a rogue to open them!  Ah, those were the days.

As a non-raiding aside, in BC your epic flying mount was actually useful.  I could fly from end-to-end of Outland faster on my epic flyer than I could on the taxi gryphons.  Not so much in Northrend.  The taxis get me to places just as fast.  So why spend the gold on the epic flyer?

As for gear… all these emblems – Heroism, Valor, Conquest, Triumph, Frost – are crazy!  Back in BC we had one kind of emblem, and it was Badges of Justice.  You actually had a gear progression that made you work through all tiers of content.  None of this “I just dinged 80 and jumped straight to T10 level stuff with my Triumph Emblems” nonsense.  In BC you had to get your gear from Karazhan to do Gruul, and you needed gear from Gruul/Magtheridon to do SSC.  The Badge of Justice items got you geared quicker but they didn’t make you skip entire tiers!

Attunements!  You youngsters missed out on attunements completely!  They did get rid of the attunements before the end of BC, but a lot of people went though the steps anyway.  If you don’t know what that is… they made you do a huge quest chain just to be allowed to step ito the raid!  Here is the attunement chain for Black Temple… its sixteen quests, some of which require you to be in 25-man SSC, TK, and Hyjal Summit!  If you didn’t do that whole quest line, you couldn’t even enter Black Temple no matter how good your gear was or how progressed the rest of your guild was.

Two words… Flame Wreath!

What do you remember from BC raiding?


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
March 2010
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