Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On preparing the raid for Wotlk and loot systems in particular

The Drunken Badgers raid had a successful run of Burning Crusade raiding. By no means leaders we managed to come from behind to end our TBC raiding era as one of the top 20 raids on the server although sadly we never made it to Sunwell, and after the pre lich content nerf patch it didn't seem worth it.

For a guild that formed and began raiding during TBC I like to think this is no mean feat. We certainly learned some lessons along the way and as a result evolved our raiding management in order to achieve the goals that we had set for ourselves. As far as I can tell we also ended TBC with a good reputation on our server as a fun group who know what they are about, which can only stand us in good stead for the future...

So enter the Lich King, and Drunken Badgers are preparing to take on the 25 man content available in the new expansion starting with 25 man Naxx. It was decided that we would commence 25 man raiding in the new year, giving everyone the opportunity to level up at a leisurely pace if they so desired and to also account for the disruptions of the holiday period.

Unsuprisingly most, if not all, of the core raiders of the group hit 80 pretty quickly and started working on gearing up through heroics, 10 man Naxx and various guests spots in other 25 man raids in order to be in tip top readiness for the official commencement of Badger raiding.

During this period the drunken officers have been working on some further changes to raid management, mainly to do with sharing duties to decrease the load previously on the shoulders of only a few individuals. We now have several different raid 'offices' that are shared across 2 to 3 officers. How these officers manage their particular areas in terms of sharing duties is up to them. The offices are loot management, raid leadership, DPS performance, healing performance, tanking performance and recruitment.

I put my hand up to be a loot officer and have been learning how to use the loot mod of choice and with the other raid officers working on refining our loot system still further. Lively discussion took place from near the end of TBC raiding onwards whether we should stay with the current system or look to moving to another. Although generally happy with the way Suicide Kings was working for us we had encountered a couple of specific problems: top spot camping and bottom dwellers.

Top spot camping occurs when a person chooses not to bid on items that would be an upgrade for them in order to hold onto their position in the list so as to be guaranteed their holy grail item should it drop - we like to refer to this within the group as the 'DST' - ie Dragonspine trophy - something many people were after during our Gruul's raiding period. Although it is the individual's choice to hold out for their grail the decision to pass on upgrade loot is seen as detrimental to raid progression on the whole.

Bottom dwelling is where people on the bottom of the list have no hesitation in bidding on items due to their having no guarantee of other loot. Often the bottom dwellers would be subs. Bottom dwelling was further exacerbated by the top spot campers, who were generally regulars.

So we end up with a situation where our regulars are not improving their gear and our subs are making out like bandits.

Personally I never had a problem with the way our use of Suicice Kings functioned, I geared up at a reasonable pace, but I also never held out for a particular item.

The discussions concerning our loot system to me essentially speak to what kind of raid we want to be. In our earlier days we had been concerned with keeping it simple, encouraging a roster of regulars but retaining some fairness to subs - since subs when in attendance helped us achieve success as much as the other attendees. We were initially quite casual, not thinking particularly of progression as our main focus - but rather fun with hopefully some success.

As we have succeeded, so too has our focus evolved. We are now definitely more focused on progression. Therefore in order to achieve progression we have had to look at tightening up performance requirements even further, stepping up recruitment and tweaking the loot system to support progression.

As the passionate discussions have demonstrated progression does not necessarily equate with a loot system that is equable to all. We are trying to arrive at something in the middle. Also, an opinion which I stand by, is that the loot system is not *the* answer to successful progression - that all areas of raid management need to be considered holistically. That said we are doing our best to develop a loot system that gives subs a reasonable chance of receiving loots whilst at the same time rewarding regulars and discouraging camping at either the top or the bottom of the list. Other goals are keeping it relatively simple to explain and manage for the loot officers. We considered DKP and loot council, but both systems have inherent issues which we were not happy with collectively. The problem of a growing point spread in DKP and the lack of transparency and risks of alienation with Loot Council respectively were the main issues. We even considered just going with the in game rolling system but the RNG is RNG factor put people off, myself included.

The system which we will use as we begin 25 man raiding is as follows, naturally if it doesn't work we will make changes, we're certainly not inflexible.

We use Raid Ninja as a sign up tool and it is now mandatory for all raiders to indicate their attendance status for the raid by Tuesday each week (we raid once a week on Fridays). This will net each raider 1/8th of a point whether they attend the raid or not. Attendance at the raid having signed up correctly will net each raider 1 point, if they did not sign up they will earn no points. By the end of a 2 month period each raider must have a point total equal to or greater than 3 to remain a regular. The benefits of being a regular? Only regulars will be on the SK list. The process when a piece of loot drops will be bidding from people on the list (main roles only) then if no bids open need roll to everyone at the raid (again main roles only) and then if no need rolls open greed for offsets etc. Additionally every 2 months the SK list order will be randomly reshuffled to discourage camping.

We're hopeful that this system will be reasonably equitable for all and not too difficult to maintain. The most cumbersome part will be tracking attendance and point awarding - but I'm crafting a google spreadsheet with nifty forumlas with the help of a certain tanky person.

After the system has been in play for a while I'll be sure to post about how it's going.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Opplyse the gentle

Opplyse wandered forlornly across the marshy terrain of the wetlands. Having only recently left the Ebon strongold and ventured into the outside world after the disturbing events at Light's Hope Chapel she found herself at a loss, uncertain what action to take next.

Her life before becoming a death knight was lost to her except in the disquiet of her dreams, where unsettling images would rise in her mind as though seen through a murky pool. None of it seemed as though it could possibly be real.

What was she supposed to do now? She felt the powers of the death knight still within her, a bubbling rage waiting to be unleashed, but her spirit was broken. No doubt she should take ship to Northrend and start the journey towards exacting revenge on Arthas. Yet she could not, not yet. A time of reflection, of looking inward was required. Time to clear her mind and settle her spirit. Prepare for the bloodshed ahead. Bloodshed where she would be a willing conscious participant, no longer driven by the will of the Lich King. She found she had little taste for it. Had she not witnessed and delivered enough pain? She would spend some time wandering the lands and gathering flowers, a pastime she had discovered to be a soothing one.

The time for vengeance would arrive soon enough.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Loving the lore

Although not actively engaged in it I definitely have role playing tendencies. At least to the extent where I enjoy thinking about how my characters feel about the world, their personalities and their reactions to events in game, even if I don't actively play these things out in the game itself.

One of the things I very much enjoy about playing Warcraft is the lore and in Wrath I am enjoying the quest lines and story involvement more than ever. Blizzard have really stepped it up a notch with Wrath in my opinion and for several reasons. Firstly, there are DRAGONS! Lots of dragons! As a long time fan of these mythic beasts it's exciting to see them in game and from a lore perspective it's definitely great to get back to the main Azerothian story line started so long ago in the early stand alone games. Secondly, the amount of flavour and detail Blizzard has imbued into the world really adds to the immersion, and thirdly and perhaps most compellingly, the introduction of phasing technology means you feel as though you are actually having an impact on the story.

The battle of the Wrath Gate quest line is simply THE best, most epic, quest line ever and some of the most fun I have ever had in the game - especially in solo play. The long Marshal Windsor chain in vanilla WoW was certainly great and I'm glad I was able to experience it on Jez, but in my opinion the Wrath Gate sequence has taken it a step further. I won't go into details in case anyone reading this has not yet done the quest since I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you haven't done it yet I exhort you to go do so. Now.

I have dabbled in the past (several years ago now) in writing role play fiction through a forum based community and I did a fair bit of reading about writing fantasy fiction. One of the tenets I most clearly remember is in order for a fantasy fiction environment to succeed it must be clearly imagined and consistent. The community I was involved with wrote role play fiction based within Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time world and I had a massive guide I would refer to when writing to ensure authenticity with the world.

It's this incredible depth and richness of detail which I love about the World of Warcraft and think contributes strongly to it's ongoing popularity. There are of course other important aspects of the game that cause it to stand out from the crowd but for me the lore itself, and it's exposition within the game, is what anchors me in.

A new dawn

I first started writing this blog during Burning Crusade and my blog banner image was a lovely shot of Jez against the back drop of the Nagrand sky. It seems only fitting therefore that as I begin writing about the new world of Northrend and my adventures there my blog banner should change to reflect the dawning of this new world.

I took the screenshot I used in the image on the northernmost cliffs of Icecrown. Perhaps if (when!) I get a proto-drake I will update the image again *grin*

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I am a terrible, terrible blogger and I apologise to anyone who still checks in with me *ashamed face*. I have lots of ideas for posts, some great screen shots I've been collecting and have found absolutely no time to write *sad face*. With the holidays almost upon us I hope, intend even, to remedy the dire lack of content around here!

Friday, October 24, 2008

On Spiders, pet special ability issues and macros

It's exciting times to be playing a hunter there's no doubt about that. As I alluded to a in a recent post I've been running around training some new pets. My choices are a combination of research, analysis and 'zomg cute factor' just so you know *grin*.

I've got Snaggle as my Ferocity pet so I wanted to try out a Cunning and a Tenacity pet. After some reading at the most brilliant pet resource of all Petopia I opted to train a spider as my Cunning pet. My reason was because spiders have the special ability Web and I could foresee this being very useful in PVP against melee classes.

I decided to train one of the spiders that lurk in Terrokar forest since a) the location was convenient and b) I like the skin. After putting the lurve onto my spider and feeding him some Clefthoof Ribs to make him happy I specced him out and played around a bit with killing other spiders to get comfortable with using him. I found myself to be pleased.

Next I hopped over to Ironforge to pick up some glyphs from the Auction House and realised that a couple of fellow guildies were duelling out the front, a warrior and a rogue. Eager to try out spideys Web ability I joined them. I duelled the warrior first and won and then fought him again and lost. Mr Rogue had been observing and was very interested in seeing Web in action so then we duelled. I lost the first one and won the second. Now Mr Rogue is one of the top PVPers in our guild, very skilled so the fact that I managed to beat him was awesome! He however was not very pleased with spidey at all! I was not very pleased to discover the rogue ability Dismantle. We experimented a bit and discovered that when under the effects of The Beast Within it's still possible to be affected by Dismantle. Not happy. Still all in all I was feeling the joy of having a new tool in my PVP arsenal and in honour of the discombobulation Mr Rogue was experiencing trying to find a counter for Web I adopted his name suggestion for spider: Smithers. Hehe.

The main thing though of course is working out how to manually trigger Web. In a PVP situation against more than one player it's going to be pretty useless if the ability is on autocast and spidey uses it on a ranged caster while a warrior is all up in my grill. During these initial duels I had an autocast macro set up to toggle the ability:

/petautocasttoggle Web
But this didn't give me the fine control I was looking for. Someone suggested I modify a warlock pet macro for my own use and this is what I ended up doing. The bonus being that I can use one macro to trigger a special ability for each pet depending which one I'm currently using thus:
/cast [pet:spider] web; [pet:cat] rabid; [pet:bear] swipe
I haven't decided whether it's worth having the cat and bear abilities on manual cast yet. I can see a future where I get yelled at for having Swipe on autocast for bear in a crowd control situation. Rabid I will probably end up working into a macro associated to a shot rotation. Anyway the macro works and that's good. Well it kind of works. I've been grinding elementals up in Nagrand for pet levelling purposes (as well as hopefully some profit) and using the time to experiment with 'on demand' casting of Web. I soon discovered that I would frequently get a 'ability not ready' error when trying to cast it. Huh?

I'm no guru as I've often stated before so it was time to search the interwebs to see what more intelligent people than me are saying. What was puzzling me is that Web is a no cost instant cast so it's not like I needed to make sure Smithers has enough focus before I try and cast it. What then is causing the issue? To Elitist Jerks! I waded through the massively long Hunter WoTLK thread and on page 185 came across this comment:
Hey guys, I've noticed with my crab that while claw is on autocast, it triggers the 1.5s GCD and thus it makes it very hard for me to using pin or roar of sacrifice.

I have noticed however that intervene doesn't have this problem since the pet can intervene while in the GCD of a claw. However, I wish blizzard would do the same with pin and roar of sacrifice as these are all on demand skills.

The way it is currently, I have to turn off claw, cast pin, then turn claw back on. Even though I have a macro to do this, it requires 2 button presses and is kinda inconvenient.

Does anyone have any opinions on this? =P

I know that blizzard removed focus costs from almost all the pet special abilities since people were complaining that due to the focus dump skill, no pet could ever have the energy to perform their special abilities without the hunter first disabling the auto cast. However with the special attacks on the GCD, it is still pretty annoying =P.

What do you guys think?
Aha! So it seems that pet special abilities are using the 1.5 second Global Cool Down. That's not very cool since even with the changes to Autoshoot you're generally spending a lot of time managing the GCD to keep up a steady rotation working in your shots as you need them. Initially I tried inserting /stopcasting in front of my macro but this didn't yeild consistent results. Further research revealed that pet special abilities share the GCD with Bite. So I turned off Bite and ran around killing Basilisks. Result - Web cast everytime I wanted it to. I removed the /stopcasting command from the macro and experimented with firing the macro mid cast of steady shot and no problem. This would seem to indicate that the special ability is tied only to Bite and not the GCD for hunter abilities. No idea if this is actually true though.

Conclusion: At this time the only way to manually cast a pet special ability on demand is to have Bite turned off. Whether this is at the detriment of your DPS is not a question I have the theorycraft skills to answer, but for me, in a PVP situation the ability to control when I cast Web is more important to me than the damage from Bite.

Of course now I need to work out whether I should manually cast Wolverine Bite or just leave it on autocast. Questions, questions, questions! Like I said, these are exciting times! I'm sure I'll have more to report once Smithers is level 70 and I've mixed it up in a BG.

What has your experience been? Got any wisdom to share?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Corrupting the innocent

Well the not-so-innocent is what I would opine *grin*

Although I should probably be working on levelling my new pets, continuing my experimentation with the issues some pet abilities seem to have and all those kind of things last night I instead had lots of fun running around on a new toon with a friend from work who is exploring World of Warcraft with a trial account. Typhoon Andrew and I are both hoping that she'll decide she likes the game so much that she'll subscribe, but I think we're both also consciously trying to not push the crack too heavily hehe. Of course if she does subscribe I'll be angling for her to roll a toon on Feathermoon rather than stay on the oceanic server Nagrand where we are currently slaying kobolds. Ugh Kobolds, I think they are even more annoying than murlocs!

I can tell you this - she's a born mage - cackling with glee as she fire balls critters.

Say hello to my lowbie priest Caeri and Kittoug the evil mage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rehuntarded in a brave new world

It's been an exciting and also unsettling few days since the patch hit. My initial reaction upon logging in was to feel completely at sea - re-huntarded in fact. I immediately regretted my lack of in-depth reading on the changes affecting the hunter class and was overwhelmed by a UI that was in most parts broken as a result of me using a lot of mods to replace every aspect of the default interface.

My first step was to get my UI into a semblance of working order. Sadly Ace Updater is no more so I have picked up the Curse installer and so far am finding it to be rather good. I discovered that Deadly Boss Mods although apparently updated for 3.0 causes a problem with my chat frames where I can't see my chat at all so I've got it disabled at the moment. Hopefully it will be working now as I have a Black Temple raid in just under 2 hours. I also had to set up my action bars all over again which meant setting up all my G15 keyboard hot keys again.

The next pressing question was how to spec and also what pets to use and how to spec them. Decisions, decisions! Initially I threw together a deep BM build just to try it out and went off and tamed a devilsaur. He is big and stompy and I named him George *grin*. To see George hit level 65 upon taming was a great thing but that's still 5 levels to get him up to a raid ready state. Hmm. I tried him doing a few Sunwell dailies with him and discovered that I pulled aggro off of him very quickly. He was also quite focus starved and this probably impacted on him not being able to use growl as often. I had all abilities on autocast as well and of course he is only 65. Going deep BM to pick up exotic pets means having to forgo Go For the Throat in the MM tree. Not to mention missing out on Aimed Shot as well which I enjoy having mainly for PVP.

All this activity took place over a couple of nights of play so I'd been able to do some brief interwebs research and from what I read on EJ it seems that for a 70 build you pretty much want GFtT still and my trial with George seemed to indicate that was the case. I was also concerned about having a 'raid viable' build since the Badgers plan to keep raiding T6 content until we either hit 80 or finish it. Mainly because we want to see the content.

So that evening I placed George in the stable and respecced to a build I'd put together using the talent calculator - it's a 48/13/0 build which allows me to push 3/5 Kindred Spirits in the BM tree but still retain the yummy Lethal Shots, Mortal Shots, Go for the Throat and Aimed Shot in the MM tree.

Of course in this brave new world I also need to spec my pets too! You can be sure I immediately purchased the 2 additional stable slots now available so was also keen to try out some new pets. I've always had cats as pets throughout my entire time playing WoW but now I wanted to try out the different trees which meant picking up a cunning and tenacity pet. A future post will deal with the fun and games of new pets and talent builds. Initially I just needed to spec Snaggle my cat to be my raiding pet ready for our raid and I threw together an initial build. Stay tuned for a post on how I fared in our weekly raid.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I can haz bear!

I've been terribly slack about posting lately. I'm afraid that a busy real life (seems like all the birthdays and babies and weddings are all happening at this end of the year) coupled with a sense of ennui has left me feeling a little unmotivated to write, especially when everything is about to change. Yep, the pre-expansion doldrums have finally started to kick in and just like prior to release of The Burning Crusade the question of 'is it really worth doing X or Y' with my toons is starting to rear its' head. There are, however, plenty of things worth doing and with the popular belief that the patch will arrive with the next maintenance the Badgers have been busy.

We've been running ZA for several months now and our once a week extreeeem ZA raid has slowly seen a growing group of people gain their Amani War Bears. As Cynra recently posted we even had an emergency mid week run at a ridiculous time of morning for the Americans and a not so bad but not so early time of night for the Aussies. This Sunday was our last ever run with a chance to get the bear mount if the patch really does hit and yours truly was the only regular raider still without a bear. I'm sure you can imagine how nervous I was! What if we stuffed it up? I wasn't sure what would be worse - if I made a colossal mistake and ruined my own chances or if one of my dear Badgers did and I would be so sad.

I don't think I have suffered such extremes of emotion playing a game since the good old days of blockading in Puzzle Pirates. Firstly one of the people scheduled to come didn't show and we had to find a replacement who would be ok with not rolling on the bear if they didn't have one since this was the final chance for me as a long term regular to get one and was also geared and experienced with the run. Luckily fellow guildie Puppetteer stepped into the breach. The run started really well with everything going super smooth right up until the pulls before the lynx boss. Somehow people got feared and the mobs on each side of the door got pulled and we wiped. We NEVER wipe in ZA any more. I started chewing my fingernails nervously at this point and making strange wheeking noises while Emelin kept chanting at me 'it will be ok, we'll make it' over and over.

So we regrouped, and cleared all the trash and had about 30 seconds to mana up and prepare for the pull. Until that is Puppetteer our dear lock, wandered a little too far into the room and face pulled. Eeeek! Galvanised into action I let rip with a Misdirect to our main tank, everyone sprang into position and the healers out did themselves keeping Mogri (the MT) up while our pally OT Cliff got into cleave sharing position. It was on and everyone unloaded as much firepower as we could muster. Never has a fight seemed to go for so long! We made it with literally seconds to spare and I was the closest I've ever been to a heart attack. The elation after the tension was exhilerating! I got bear! Huzzah!!
To celebrate what is likely the last bear run naturally we had to pose for a photo moment mounted on our bears and then our Moonkin made the excellent suggestion of converging on Ironforge in all our bear-y glory to preen and strut and generally be idiots. This idea met with much acclaim and we hot footed it over there to crack some pony kegs and have a good time doing bear conga lines while people either laughed, cheered or mocked us.
After we'd had our fill of being blithering idiots it was on to Mags. I for one decided that since I'd actually been there and done that I wanted the title to go with it and several Badgers felt the same so Cynra had put in motion the plans for a run. We ended up having to pug it unfortunately which was pretty much full of fail until some people left and we were able to pull in some more guildies who had since logged in. Once we had a higher Badger quotient things went much more smoothly and I'm now the happy owner of at least one BC title. Sadly no Hand of Adal as we were unable to down Kael on our Saturday raid, but still, it's been one awesome weekend for Jez!

Special edit: our irascible rogue recorded our jaunt in IF and has added a very fitting soundtrack, it made me giggle like a loon all over again watching it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brewfest! Hic!

The many festival events that occur throughout the year are a really fun aspect of playing Warcraft. Being a Drunken Badger one festival that definitely appeals is that of Brewfest. We've been having a lot of fun doing the daily boss in Blackrock Depths and both Jez and Seph have walked away with some 'lawl' items such as the Direbrew Shanker and useful items such as for Seph the sweet stam trinket Brightbrew Charm. Best of all though both Jez and Seph are now running around on their own Great Brewfest Kodos! Hooray!I also discovered to my immeasurable delight that if you drink enough you really DO see pink elelphants roaming Shattrath! *grin*

Just before Brewfest arrived Blizz also gave a nod to Talk Like a Pirate Day which I took advantage of by turning Jez into a pirate for a while. It was very amusing to me to run around in pirate costume due to my history of playing Yohoho Puzzle Pirates. Poor Jezabella, I haven't logged in for a while now. She's just sitting in her villa counting gold these days. Last I remember she was sitting on about 2.5 million, imagine having that much gold in WoW!

Retro Raiding

It seems that the closer the expansion looms the greater the vogue for 'retro raiding'. Prior to TBC the only end game type raids that Jez participated in were ones for Zul'Gurub, Molten Core and Ahn'Qiraj 20. Even though I never got a chance to see them I did complete the quest lines for attunement to Onyxia and Blackwing Lair. Probably because I'm an incorrigble completionist.

I have been very pleased of late therefore to be able to see both of these instances as part of the retro raiding frenzy that has gripped Feathermoon. Nax has been seeing a lot of action too but as I never managed attunement for this old world version of The Burning Crusade's Sunwell I haven't been able to see it and I doubt I will be bothered getting attuned before Wrath hits. These three are the only remaining old world instances that require attunement still.

Blackwing Lair's dark environs. Poor dragons, reminds me of Blades Edge.

Visiting Blackwing Lair was an absolute thrill, remembering as I do the tales of trial and tribulation of the then lead raid groups going through this content back when Jez was just a young huntard drooling over the big bad hunters walking around in their uber Tier 2 gear.

Compared to the open spaces of Mount Hyjal, my current raiding location, the decor of BWL was quite gloomy. Lots of dead dragons and stone halls. Quite Dwarven in style really. As our normal raid's main tank commented to me (as he too had come on this adventure), he wouldn't have relished hours and hours grinding this dungeon back in the day and I agree. At least in Hyjal we're out in the fresh air *wink*

You might think that seeing BWL as level 70 would be a walk in the park, well I can tell you now it certainly wasn't that. I was part of a group of about 25 composed of end game raiders from several of the most high end raids on the server and we still had to be careful. My greatest challenge was throttling back my DPS as the amount of damage I was doing was insane. Also as the only hunter I was responsible for several of the boss pulls by Misdirecting to the main tank. Being completely new to the instance and having no idea of any of the fight mechanics made this quite nervewracking!

I need to remember to turn off names before taking screenshots.

The Nefarian fight out on his balcony was definitely the highlight. That was an extremely fun fight, everyone was giggling and exclaiming over vent about the different animals they were getting turned into. I was turned into a giraffe! I didn't think they even existed in the Azeroth universe! Nefarian sure has an active imagination *grin*

Is it just me or does the tunnel leading down to Onyxia's lair look like a giant gaping dragon maw?

Just yesterday I joined a band of adventurous types who desired to seek out Onyxia in her lair. I jumped at the opportunity to go when Csilla the perky priestess mentioned that more DPS was being sought. It was quite amusing to arrive at the instance entrance and get the 'Discovered Onyxia's Lair' dialogue. As we moved inside it was only natural that many jokes about MOAR DOTS and 50 dkp minus were made. Again being almost completely ignorant of the fight I was a little worried about doing something huntard-like and demonstrating major fail. As it was the fight went very smoothly. This was a much easier encounter and our group of ten or so featured a motley mix of gear levels and some people not yet 70.

Dead Onyxia huzzah!

I'm very happy that my efforts to get attuned all that time ago did not go to waste even if I have not been able to experience the 'full flavour' of the instances. The opportunity to see the content at all is definitely a win in my book.

Has anyone else had the opporunity to do some retro raiding? If not where which of the pre TBC instances would you most like to see?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Banking attire is very important

I've heard others talk about how they dress their mules in special outfits and thought this adds a bit of fun to that poor overworked toon. In my case a female dwarf paladin who never saw beyond level four. Fittingly for a dwarf she hasn't seen daylight outside of Ironforge in months. I started playing her in the early days of my WoW career when a friend had just started and also rolled a paladin. Myself and another friend thought we'd help him along with some companionship. However the two guys soon outstripped me in levelling and I found Dwarfs altogether too short and slow after playing a Night Elf hunter and returned swiftly to my beloved Jezrael.

Recently an enterprising individual was advertising over trade chat all of the items they had for sale including a COD delivery service. They were using a clever mod that allowed you to query different items. I promptly ordered up an outfit to dress my dwarfikins in, I present to you Serenla, Dwarven banker.
As you can see I've added rounded corners to this image. Inspired by a recent post from Aurik of /hug I decided I really wanted to learn how to treat images in this way as I think it looks really attractive. When I have a moment I'm also going to look into getting the model viewer and using masks so that I can present images within posts in the attractive way that Aurik and others do, but for a Photoshop noob like myself I was pretty excited to work out how to do rounded corners heh!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In your face Archimonde!!

The DB raid has been pretty lucky in terms of our progression, we moved through T5 and into T6 at a pretty rapid pace. At the end of January this year we were sitting at 70th server on wowjustu and by mid July had moved up to 25th. At the time of writing we are currently sitting in 22nd. I think this is mostly as a result of a core group of skilled and dedicated raiders who have consistently raided together since we started back in Karazhan way back when. Over time this group has also grown as we have picked up recruits to the raid.

However Archimonde has been a bit of a stumbling block for us. It's a complicated fight that more than ever requires every person in the raid to be experienced with the fight and be totally on the ball. One mistake by one person can cause a snowball effect that results in fail.

The DB raid started in Mount Hyjal in June and quite quickly got the first 4 bosses on farm, however due to various factors including some instability of our roster it is only now, 2 months later and after numerous attempts that we have successfully downed Archimonde for the first time. In true DB style however it was a one shot! We had a good feeling about this particular group and were confident that we'd get him after a few attempts but I think we were all suprised and elated to succeed on the first attempt. Unfortunately this particular huntard was out of the fight early after dying to Doom Fire for the first time ever. How embarrasing. I was lucky enough to get a battle rez later in the fight (which is unusual since we don't ever BR due to the risk of the person getting quickly killed due to low health and causing another Soul Charge) to contribute some pewpew and help down him. The delighted screaming and yelling over vent and various chat channels was awesome. It's these kind of moments that totally make the game for me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random acts of kindness

I've been slaving away at my Netherwing rep dailies lately. As you may recall one item on the list of my many goals has been to get myself an awesome dragon to fly around on. This last Friday night I headed on over to Shadowmoon Valley to do my daily round of questing. I was gathering the annoying fel glands when someone asked in general chat if anyone needed eggs. 'Netherwing eggs?' say I, to which they respond yes, and I promptly indicate my desire for them. The Netherwing eggs are awesome because they are a repeatable hand-in that earn you a tasty 250 rep.

I'm promptly invited to group by a pally who gets me to fly over to him where he is standing on an egg. He then leads me to a couple more eggs and then offers to help me with my dailies. This guy was seriously my lucky charm because I got a bunch more eggs from mining Nethercite and from downed mobs. He helped me do the mine dailies and then went off to do Magisters Terrace with his guild.

Being that I'm an Aussie playing on an American server the dailies tick over about 9:30pm so I was able to do a couple more quests immediately after handing in one lot and also found a couple more eggs. All told I gathered 12 eggs in one session!! I'd been expecting to have to spend about 3 more days doing the daily round of quests to hit exalted - but thanks to this generous person I dinged that very night and was able to pick out my shiny new mount!

So Lokthor of Feathermoon - I salute you! It's these kinds of random acts of kindness that make up for all of the r-tards out there. I should also mention Klinktronic a friendly mage who also tried to help me out with an egg he'd found in a mine node - however when I mined it I got no joy. Still it's the thought that counts!

I also have to say that the last quest that you go through at Exalted is awesome. Yay for finally having my lovely netherdrake. Now which goal to focus on next?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tales from the battleground

I may never pug a battleground again. Ok I'm lying, I know I am, because I'll want to PVP and no one else will be up for it and I'll keep hoping for one of those stellar moments where the stars align and a pug group forms with no AFKers or idiots but rather with people who know how to play and want to win. Yeah, I'm an idealist I guess.

I do have some positive stories to tell from the warzone of the battlegrounds though, there is hope.

Last Friday night I was part of a group that just roflstomped all over Warsong Gulch (ok so it was a premade of guildies plus some friends, I promise I have a couple of good pug stories too though).

We won 7 games in a row, mostly in around 8 minutes each. After the 7th game we just couldn't seem to get the queue to pop no matter what how long we waited. Horde of the Cyclone battlegroup I apologise to you. Actually no I don't! HAH! And jimihendrix hunter with the /rofl emote? You picked the wrong hunter. There's nothing like having everyone on voice chat to help organise a little personal extra pwnage.

We had so much fun as a premade we went back and did it all again on Sunday. Good times. Although it sadly got a little boring after a while.

How about a tale or two of triumph in the face of adversity? After a really disappointing 'losing attitude' pug WSG the next one I joined I immediately asked if there were players present who wanted to win. I got a couple of affirmative responses and then a pally piped up: "What are your instructions then oh fearless leader?" (or something along those lines). 'Well crap' I thought, 'You've put your big huntardy foot in it now Jez, better talk fast or forever accept the label of scrub'. So I did: "The main plan is communicate, call all incs and exits, guard your carrier, set picks, control mid, get our flag back. Mostly just communicate." I wasn't very hopeful but zomg people DID communicate and would you belive it - we won! That was a very satisfying feeling.

Then there was that Eye of the Storm incident. Emelin and I were grouped up to PVP together so barely a premade but when thanking someone for a buff I realised that I was Battle Leader. Eeep. Um. Ok, might as well say.. something.. no one else is. So I gave some basic instruction: Grab DR and MT everyone else rush FR. And people actually followed my lead and we captured 3 nodes! I did my 'call incs early' thing and spent most of the battle guarding a node and calling out instructions re where to defend and where to attack. As a hunter I generally end up guarding nodes in battlegrounds like Arathi and EoS so if I've got the eyeline I tend to do a lot of communicating about enemy movements anyway. Well and tell people to fight on nodes not roads. But yeah we won that EoS too!

I don't really like being in the 'leadership spotlight' so to speak in WoW. I prefer the role of support. But it just goes to show that being the one to stand up and give some direction and encourage communication can actually make a difference. I don't think we won those battlegrounds because of me, but I do think that by communicating early a desire to win and offering a strategy it maybe boosted all the other jaded people like me sick of losing attitude pugs into bringing their game faces and doing their best to win instead of just expecting to lose and not bothering to try that hard. A positive winning attitude really does help. Who knew.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A huntery look at Mt. Hyjal: Anetheron

Welcome to the second in a series of posts on Mt Hyjal from a hunters perspective. When we first started Mount Hyjal I looked around for a hunter guide to the instance and didn't come across anything so hopefully other hunters will be able to get something out of these posts, or even better from my selfish perspective - teach me some new stuff to help improve my performance *grin*. I've previously written about the Rage Winterchill fight.

As per my previous post WoW Wiki provides info on the instance overall and the specifics of the Anetheron fight.

As usual I will be talking from the perspective of how we in DB handle the fight, I hear tell we do things somewhat differently from many other T6 raids. The important thing to remember is: your mileage may vary, there is no 'teh one and only' strategy. Also, rather than covering general tactics I will look at tips and strategies specific to hunters.

Anetheron is the second boss of the instance and the last boss which you will fight in the Alliance camp. The trash waves preceding the arrival of Anetheron introduce a new mob type which is of great interest to us as hunters: Banshees!

Trash waves
As per the first bosses' trash wave hunters should be dropping frost traps in sequence to slow the incoming mobs. All of the other tips etc I mentioned for Rage Winterchills trash waves apply again. However, of specific interest to hunters for this fight are waves 4,5,7 and 8 which feature Banshees. Waves 4 and 5 have 4 Banshees and waves 7 and 8 have 2 Banshees. Hunters can provide an important service to the raid by kiting the Banshees back to the NPCs to take care of them leaving the rest of the raid free to handle the other mobs.

Make sure you have swapped your PVP trinket back out for your normal trinket whilst the raid is preparing for the Anetheron waves.

I have a general macro named 'target' which I update for various fights and prior to the commencement of the Anetheron waves I like to set it up for the Banshees so that I can quickly start the process of grabbing aggro and kiting them. My macro is very simple: '/target ban' and bound to a key. I use a combination of Arcane and Distracting shot to grab aggro. You could MD yourself I suppose but I prefer to use my MD on my tank target to introduce a nasty Abom to them for instance at the beginning of the wave.

In my post on Rage Winterchill commenters suggested it was a good idea to bring NPCs into the fight early. This is fine and good and if you need to introduce the NPCs from the very first wave of the instance you should do it. We find in our raid that we handle the waves quickly enough without the NPCs involved leaving us time to drink and rez (if need be) between waves and will save the NPCs for the Anetheron fight.

Of note for hunters in the Anetheron fight is the fact that Towering Infernals will spawn on top of players at timed periods. Whilst the player targeted should run toward the OT who will tank the infernals it is the job of the hunters to MD each infernal onto the OT.

Therefore it's important to set up an MD rotation as overwriting another hunters MD can cause big problems. I set up an alphabetical MD rotation with our hunters as the easiest to remember and not dependent on group make ups being changed. We don't use an MD on the boss as he arrives as the MT is usually able to pick him up straight away. Still it's a good idea to keep on your toes in case one is needed.

In the DB raid we have a couple of rogues who will use Distract on the bosses as they arrive to give the raid more time to prepare for the fight (drink, rez, buff, etc). As soon as possible after the last trash wave I change my target macro to '/target tow' so that I can very quickly pick up my infernal. These guys can smoosh squishier members of the raid very quickly and you want to get into range of the infernal asap. It's important to communicate about the MDs. I generally announce who has the next MD over vent for each infernal, also important is to quickly coordinate who will have the next MD if the next hunter in the rotation has gone down. This is one fight where having several hunters is a good thing. It's definitely doable with only two if neither one dies, and I know of raids that have no hunters at all! Of course I think you need at least two hunters but I'm a little biased ;)

Once the OT has picked up the infernal ranged DPS should burn it down before the next one arrives whilst melee DPS concentrate on the boss. In our raid we position Anetheron on the right hand side (if you are facing the entrance the mobs come through) with the OT standing near Jaina. This allows the healers on the OT to benefit from Jaina's awesome spirit buff, keeps the infernals far enough away from Anetheron and gets the other NPCs involved in the fight.

It's important to keep the raid spread out as much as possible so that the number of people affected by Carrion swarm is kept to a minimum - this is most important for the healers of course.

During the fight we also have one hunter (me usually) keep up Scorpid Sting on Anetheron which helps out the healers who are needing to split their time between healing the MT, OT and also the raid as well as dealing with downtime from Sleep and Carrion Swarm. To do this I need to position myself where I can swing between pewpewing the infernal and throwing up another sting on Anetheron without having to move much.

Sending your pet onto the infernals does no good due to their fire damage so I generally send Snaggle to gnaw on Anetheron's knee caps and try and keep a mend pet on him. The most important thing in this fight for hunters is getting the infernals to the OT stat and keeping up MQoSDPS. As soon as Anetheron is down to around 15% or so we switch all DPS over to him and burn him down whilst the OT handles the remaining infernal and then finish the infernal off afterwards.

Once Anetheron is down it's time to hand out the sweet loots, grab your badges and mount up and ride to the Horde camp. Make sure everyone is out of the base before talking to Jaina and activating the destruction of the base. If you happen to be a miner you can mine nodes containing epic and rare gems along the way. We hand any gems mined over to our loot master who hands them out via raid rolls at the end of the raid.

So now you're two bosses in and ready to take on helping Thrall and friends save the Horde base, guides to the two bosses you'll face here coming soon!

Image courtesy The Warlocks Den

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A huntery look at My Hyjal: Rage Winterchill

Welcome to the first in a series of posts on Mt Hyjal from a hunters perspective. When we first started Mount Hyjal I looked around for a hunter guide to the instance and didn't come across anything so hopefully other hunters will be able to get something out of these posts, or even better from my selfish perspective - teach me some new stuff to help improve my performance *grin*.

So, on with the show. I'm not going to give you the details of the instance here, just tips and strategies for hunters. There are plenty of resources out there to give you information about the instance overall and the specifics of the Rage Winterchill fight. Go read them now if you like, I'll wait.

Back? Ok good.

Now I'll be talking from the point of view of how we in DB handle the fights, this will of course change from raid to raid, and what works for one raid may not work for another.

You'll want to come to Mt Hyjal fully prepared with all your consumables etc. For the first two fights the only special gear you will need is your PVP trinket. Preferably the 2 min cool down one. The trinket only costs 8k honour so it's not hard to get hold of with a little effort.

Trash waves
There are eight trash waves before each boss (except for Archimonde) and if you wipe on any of those waves you have to begin the encounter for that boss again right from the very first wave.

The instance starts at the Alliance encampment where you will fight the first two bosses, Rage Winterchill and Anetheron. We fight the trash waves just at the gates where they enter. If we need to engage NPCs we kite the mobs back to them.

  • Drop a frost trap just ahead of the entrance before the path heads downhill and get any other hunters in the raid to drop their own frost traps in sequence behind the first one back towards the raid so that they get triggered in a chain. This will slow the mobs nicely and if you have a pally tank like us will give them a lovely chance to consecrate and get most of the mobs to stick to them like glue.

  • As a hunter threat is always an issue - switch between the mobs your tanks are targeting to get the most out of your DPS. It's very helpful here if you have a mod that can show tanks and their targets such as CTRaid, OrA or Xperl Unit Frames (if someone with the either of the first two mods has assigned the tanks this gets picked up by Xperl). There are no doubt other mods that do this job too.

  • Multishot is awesome for the trash mobs. Remember to feign preemptively if you can and switch targets often though

  • When your tanks have built up some nice threat dropping an explosive trap in the melee adds some extra fiery death to the mix.

  • Each hunter in the raid should be assigned an MD tank. Use your MD on every pull. Especially good with Abominations which are nasty, particularly to squishies.
Rage Winterchill
Mr Lich is the most straight out fight in the instance. Stay out of Death and Decay - and remember to keep your poor pet out of it too! If you get Icebolted use your PVP trinket immediately to escape it.

Work out with the hunters in the raid who has Imp Hunters Mark - they should be responsible for keeping it up on the boss. There's no real need to use any stings on this guy.

Apart from these things it's simply a matter of unleashing the DPS, burning the guy down and collecting the phat loots.

So there you have it, the first boss in Mount Hyjal is toast. From here on in it gets more interesting and therefore more fun!

Looking for regulars for T6 raid

Do you love to raid but can't commit to 2-3 nights a week raiding for whatever reason? We can help! The Drunken Badgers are a guild on Feathermoon and we are looking to fill some regular positions for our T6 raid. Like many other raids out there we have started to feel the attrition of pre itch king burn out plus the impacts of RL on some of our folks.

We are 4/5 in Mt Hyjal and 3/9 in BT. Currently we are focusing on downing Archimonde before returning to Black Temple. Our best attempt so far has been 10% on Archimonde - so we are very close to downing him. We raid once a week on Friday starting at 6pm server and going for 5 hours.

We are particularly interested in ret pallies, shamans and priests but are open to all classes.

You will need to be geared to around T5 level whether via T5, Badge or appropriate PVP gear. Experience with the Mount Hyjal fights and especially Archimonde is a plus and we we will look at experience over gear when considering applicants, so if you have an alt that you could bring that isn't the most awesomely geared but you've done these fights on your main we'll bring that under consideration. You will need to have your PVP trinket and the SR neckpiece and cloak or be willing to get them asap. The PVP trinket in particular is required.

You don't have to be a member of our guild to raid with us. You do need to have access to ventrilo but you don't have to talk if you don't want to :)

The Drunken Badger raid is chock full of mature people who know how to have fun. We use the Suicide Kings loot system with some modifications.

To apply and/or read up more on the raid and the guild visit us at our forums.

Ok recruiting post over. We return to your regularly scheduled frippery soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What have YOU read response

Mr Kestrel over at the Aerie has a list up responding to a question picked up by JustOneAnna of the books listed in the National Education Associations top 100. The idea is to

  • Look at the list and bold those we have read.
  • Italicize those we intend to read.
  • Underline the books we LOVE
So here's my list:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (abriged)

The only reason I've read a lot of these is because I studied English Lit and University. Only four books on there rate as loved. I'm not really a fan of 'canon' literature. It's good to see a lot of modern authors on the list though.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I am woman

I'm sitting here and wondering how to approach this topic in a balanced way. Mithrilina of A Girl, a Gun and a Stripey Cat recently posted on women in WoW, sharing her not so pleasant experiences of the reactions of male players to the presence of a woman in their raid. Loronar over at 35 Yards Out also posted a response. Some time ago I also read a great post by Lume on the topic.

It seems to me that the reaction of men to women in the game is directly proportional to their level of maturity. Just like real life really, boys do go through that ZOMG girls stage. I think it's probably reasonable to posit the converse - that the reaction of women to this kind of behaviour is proportional to their age and experience in real life. Because girls do go through that stage in their development of ZOMG boys too and dealing with how to react to these kinds of situations.

I feel that we women are sometimes guilty of helping reinforce these behaviours and stereotypes. What do I mean by that? Well, it's a thorny issue, but I believe that you shouldn't hide your gender. You don't have to advertise it but why refuse to talk on vent just because you're female? How is that empowered? I do understand that many women want to avoid unwanted attention in game, but then how do you deal in real life with the idiot men out there? Personally I don't hide my gender; I don't advertise it but I have no compunctions about talking on vent. If someone acts stupid I shut them down, just as I would in real life.

If you're a women and playing with a group of people who don't respect you because of your gender then you should GTFO and find a group who will. Same as in real life.

Respect anytime shouldn't be about gender, it should be about the qualities that you as a player and person bring to the table, and I believe that goes both ways.

In short, if you are a female gamer I exhort you to stand tall and proud, the best way to deal with stereotypes is to debunk them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bite me Archi!

Today I think I experienced the most exciting, adrenalising and ultimately frustrating moment in my WoW playing career to date. The DB raid is currently running Mt Hyjal each week, the plan being to get Archimonde sorted before we go back to Black Temple. This week we had a great run one shotting each of the first four bosses and leaving ourselves plenty of time for attempts on Archi. Things didn't go so well at first with people dying to stupid things like mistiming of their tears or clicking their PVP trinket instead of their tears or dying in the fire or running it through the melee. All very easily avoidable stuff. However on our 16th attempt everything seemed to be falling into place. As we saw his health points dropping the sense of possibility was palpable. Our previous best was 49% and now we had him down to 30.. to 20... to 10! OMG... keep going guys! Surely the cut scene action will start any second! More people die, more soul bursts.. but, but, he's at 10%!!

Yep. 10% and then everyone died. We were SO close. Next week Archi, NEXT WEEK!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Be an asset to your raid

Being part of a raid group is more than having the gear and the consumables, it's also about having the attitude. In this post I want to talk about the things you can bring to the table as a raider that can make you an asset to the group. I've posted before about what not to do as a lvl 70 raiding hunter, the raid consumables you should be carrying as a hunter, and how raid management impacts on raid success, but this post is about being a non-leader raider of any class.

Raiding is a group effort and at the higher end of the game success is dependent on everyone working as a team. As I state above, this goes beyond being geared and packing your consumables. Following is my list of things that will make you an asset to your raid. If you are new to a raid group and hoping to be taken on as a regular this list of behaviours is, in my opinion, critical to your chances of being added to the permanent roster. However, all members of the raid should demonstrate them. In the DB raid we care more about your attitude than we necessarily do about your gear. Gear can be upgraded, asshattery is often ingrained.

Pay attention
You might be enjoying looking around at the scenery of new content, you might be horsing around throwing leather balls and voodoo skulls at your fellow raiders (I'm looking at YOU Emelin) but it is critical that you pay attention to the instructions and information imparted by the raid leaderership. This information is likely to be imparted both over vent (or your voice software of choice) or via in game chat so it's important to pay attention to both. For instance, in our raid we have a specific in-game channel for the hunters where I will impart instructions so as to not clutter up vent. If you are new to the raid you should check with someone playing the same role whether there is a relevant channel that you need to join.

Follow instructions
A relevant follow on from the point above - so you paid attention, but did you retain the information? If you retained it are you going to act on it? You better. You'd didn't get invited so that you could completely ignore the instructions issued by the people leading the raid. Many boss encounters require everyone to perform their part to make the fight a success, Gruul, Magtheridon, Lady Vashj, Kael and Archimonde to name some obvious ones. It's ok to make mistakes in execution - but if you have blindly ignored what your role is in favour of what you want to do don't expect to be invited back.

You may be right, you may be wrong (you may be crazy)
You might have made in depth studies of strategies and youtube vids, you might have run it many times with a different group, but that does not automatically make you the expert on how to handle a particular fight. Which is not to say that your input is not important. Timing when you deliver that input however is. Talking over the top of the raid leader when they are communicating strategy is not the best way to endear yourself. If you have a valid point to make wait for an appropriate pause or send a tell directly to the raid leader (or your class leader). Even better - strategy discussion should take place on the forums rather than 60 seconds before the pull if at all possible. Naturally there are situations when strategy needs to be adjusted on the fly but lengthy strategy discussions are better handled in a forum. No one enjoys 20 minutes of back and forth discussion before a pull.

Raid synergy is more important than your e-peen
As a hunter maximising damage is all about sticking to a precise rotation, however that may not add anything to the group. Scorpid sting is a great dot for tough bosses and Imp Hunters Mark contributes to the melee damage as well. Similiar scenarios apply to all classes. Be prepared and willing to do what is needed to contribute to overall group synergy. Raid leaders spend time working out the best way to group players based on spec and class, so use what you've got to help the raid not just yourself. Our raid doesn't insist on specific builds based on some ideal of the best raid make up but we have been known to ask if a person will be willing to respec to assist with the raid synergy and the respec cost is carried by the guild bank. We're also open to you wanting to try out a different spec to see how it works out. Of course there are exceptions, if you're the MT with the best main tanking gear of all tanks in the raid we'll try and convince you to stay prot, at least until another tank can be geared equivalently. Ultimately we all want to down the bosses right? So it makes sense for everyone to bring everything they can to the table to make that happen.

Silence is frequently golden
This is probably a particular niggle of mine, but there is nothing more irritating than to have people going randomly on and on and on over vent especially when strategy and instructions are being communicated. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing more fun than some silly talk - but timing is everything. We also don't need to hear externalisations of every single thought running through your head during a fight. Vent should be about communicating key pieces of information. If we're on a break and you want to talk about how amazing Usain Bolt is please feel free (I mean, the guy is amazing) but when it's time to pull, game faces people!

Don't forget to pack your sense of humour
So I'm laying out all this serious stuff, because working effectively as a team is srs bsns but that doesn't mean you should park your sense of humour at the door. If you're not having fun, if you're getting uptight about wipes, this will communicate itself to the group and impact on the atmosphere of the raid. One of the things that makes my raid so enjoyable is the fun we have and the relaxed atmosphere. But remember, in relation to the points I make above - timing is everything.

Just about every item I've discussed comes down to respect in the end. It's a tenet for the real world that stands up just as well in the virtual - treat others in the way you would wish to be treated. Respect is about listening, about humility, about not pushing yourself forward to the detriment of others. Gaining respect is about being confident without being an asshat, about walking your talk and respecting others. Loot greed will not earn you respect, being new to the raid and immediately telling everyone what they are doing wrong will not earn you respect, lack of attention and unwillingness to cooperate will not earn you respect. Ultimately if anyone takes one thing away from this post I would like it to be that successful teamwork is essentially about mutual respect.

Which means of course there's a flipside too. You as a raider shouldn't put up with being treated with disrespect by your fellow raiders or the raid leadership.

*5 awesome points to those who can identify the 2 song references and the lady in the picture, seriously it's not exactly hard...

Friday, August 15, 2008

I WoW in RL

Last Friday night Em and I got to meet up with our guild raid main tank and RL friend Mogri. We hadn't caught up in person with him since back in December so we were excited to catch up for a few beers and yes, you guessed it, a lot of in person WoW talk.

We arrived at the airport to discover his flight was delayed, gah! So to pass the time we got creative *grin*. You know how you'll see those chauffeur dudes with the signs with people's names on them waiting at the arrival point? Well we borrowed some paper and a text from the currency exchange lady and made our own sign for Em to hold standing with the group of dudes (he was wearing a suit so he fit right in). Mogri got a good laugh coming down the escalator to see Em standing there holding a sign saying 'LF1M TANK'.


We then all went into the city to a pub and proceeded to have several drinks and lots of game talk. I was the responsible one who was driving so I didn't get shickered like Em and Mogri, but that meant I got to remind them both of the silly drunken things that were said the following Monday night on vent. Meeting up in RL with guildies is great fun. I hope I one day get to meet more of them. We're planning a trip to visit Mogri in Melbourne soon and our sneaky rogue friend Chia is coming along too so that's something we're looking forward to. And I won't be driving this time! Woohoo! Knock one back for a Drunken Badgers RL meet up, even if it's only four of us heh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pet, growl & PVP

So I've had this question rattling around in my brain lately: should I turn off Growl on my kitty in PVP? I'm reasoning yes since Growl uses 15 focus which could be more usefully allocated to Claw and therefore have been running BGs and Arenas with it turned off. The only time I am using Growl is when soloing. I thought I would do a little research to find out if I'm not being a complete noobtard and actually found something intelligent on the official Blizz forums (I know, I know, crazy right). A poster in the thread in question also provides a handy tip which I had never thought of:

Growl works against other pets in PVP.

You can manually trigger Growl to force another pet to attack yours. Then you can send the pet to attack another enemy player. That will drag the enemy pet away from you until the enemy hunter or warlock tells it to attack you again.

It can save you from a lot of damage if the enemy hunter/warlock isn't paying attention.
I've been meaning to set up a growl macro for, well, ages and here is an excellent incentive to do so, not disregarding squishie saving requirements in PVE. So, what should the macro look like? Time for more research! The macro I like the look of best is one in the comments of a BRK post which looks like this:

/petautocastoff [nomodifier] Growl
/petautocaston [modifier:Shift] Growl

Time to set one up methinks.

Maybe also time to set up a macro to turn on Aspect of the Monkey and cast Wingclip for those unfortunately unavoidable melee moments too.

Anyone able to recommend any good PVP specific macros?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Orcs are amazingly virile

I'm a self contained person generally. I think it's due to spending all that time out in the wilderness. Just my faithful animal companion and I, stalking our prey through a landscape devoid of the trappings of civilisation.

I'd like to use unfamiliarity with the ways of town folk to try and explain my naivety, my gaucheness perhaps. I don't think I can though. I can't find any real reason to excuse my recent behaviour and I'm not one to accept paltry excuses, Sephiroh knows that very well. Oh dear, I wonder if she has heard. The speed with which insidious rumours spread throughout the city is almost incomprehensible. I need to shield her from such perfidy. Hah, there I go with excuses again, truly it is myself I wish to shield and my good name. If I have such a thing anymore.

It all started with what should have been, as is usual for me, a brief visit to Shattrath to replenish my supplies. As is my wont I had stepped into the Worlds End tavern to meet with my, well I shouldn't call him a fence, but let us just say a person whom I know that has connections with many of the powerful denizens of the city, shadowy figures who will pay well for my gem cutting skills in order to retain their anonymity. While I disapprove of such underhanded behaviour my purse is often grateful for it.

I had taken my usual seat in a dim corner of the tavern, sipping the ale I had been served and quietly observing the behaviour of the wretched regulars as I waited somewhat impatiently for my contact to arrive. He was late and I was feeling out of sorts, perhaps that was why I had drained my drink before long and ordered another which rapidly arrived at the hands of the grinning barkeep. I intended to nurse this one but for some reason the tavern was filling, and the heat of many bodies crushed into so small a space only increased my thirst. I believe the somewhat ripe Tauren warrior at the next table over increased my interest in keeping my nose deep in a pot of ale. There really is nothing like the taste of a good beer. The other kal'dorei may turn their noses at what they consider my uncouth tastes but they have clearly never enjoyed a refreshing pot of dwarven stout after an arduous journey. But I digress.

I was still waiting but the beer had relaxed me somewhat and I saw little harm in one or two more. After all if I can hold my own against ogres surely there would be nothing to threaten me in a crowded bar. Foolish! The greatest threat to me was surely myself. Sometime later, I'm not sure how long I admit, indeed the events of the rest of the evening are increasingly hazy in my memory, I noticed a commotion around the stage like area against the back wall. Curious I made my way, a little unsteadily, forward. As the lights dimmed the crowd hushed; a sense of excitement was palpable in the air. I pushed my way further foward, apologising absent mindedly to the gnome I had inadvertently almost stepped on.

Suddenly there was a terrific burst of light and a loud explosion and the tavern building itself began to vibrate. The stage had suddenly become occupied by a motley group who were the creators of a wall of sound that simply overwhelmed me. The people around me began to dance and cheer and I found myself swept up in their excitement, dancing and cheering myself in a most unbecoming fashion, all my inhibitions swept aside in the wake of the many draughts I had consumed.

I remember little from this point onwards. I'm embarrassed to admit it. Certain moments stand out with startling clarity. I seem to recall dancing on one of the tables, of calling for more beer. Of being caught in the embrace of the orc leader of this band who almost crushed me with the strength of his arms. I remember that the green of his skin was closely matched by the green of his eyes which crinkled in amusement at me. Everything else is a blur. The next thing I remember is waking with pounding head and parched throat. I must have made it back to the lodgings I share with Sephiroh but I have no idea how! Oh I am so ashamed. What would my mother say.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bear Mount!

The weekend is raid time for the Drunken Badgers. Our T6 raid is on Saturday morning (I'm going by Aussie time here) and goes for 5 hours and then on Sunday we make a visit to ZA to do a 'mount run'. We like to call it 'Extreeeeeeeeem ZA' in the sign ups and it generally goes anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours.

We've been doing the mount run for probably about 6 weeks now and each week there have been a couple of silly avoidable mistakes that have seen us miss out on the 4th timer by mere minutes, sometimes even seconds. This week we were all super focused and as we zoomed through the first bosses I think we could all feel that this could be the week. Well it was! It all came together, everyone brought their A game and wooohoooo hello bear mount. The lucky recipient was our pally tank Cliffton. Fittingly as he was the person who started the mount run in the first place. Grats Cliff! Now we just need to replicate that feat enough times that everyone else on the run can get the mount.

In other news the Badgers went to Black Temple for the second time this weekend. One shotted Naj, had a little trouble with Supremus but got him on the third attempt, one shotted Akama and then it was time to go say hi to Mr Gorefiend for the first time. I'd done my reading and I'd tried the flash game where you practice killing constructs but was unsuccessful. The flash game set up is totally different from my normal playstyle - you have to click to target and move with your mousekeys whereas in game I tab target and move with the mouse. So I was feeling very nervous. Guess who was the first to have to take on constructs on our first attempt? Yup. Failed miserably. Em took them on on a subsequent attempt and succeeded handily so I talked to him about what he did and will be changing things up a little the next time I have to perform that duty. Part of me hopes that will not be for a long time but on the other hand I need to learn how to beat them so that I'm not a liability to the raid. At least I wasn't the only person who failed heh. That said we had several attempts on Teron with our best being 3% so beating him is totally within our grasp if we can can do so well on the first time going up against him. As it is the plan is to go back to MtH until we down Archi. Hopefully this will be next week! Heh. So all in all a good weekend of raiding for the Badgers and I picked up the Ring of Deceitful Intent courtesy of Akama.

I'm so proud of our crew, according to WoWjutsu we're 21st for progression on Feathermoon and 3631 US. Pretty awesome for a group that only raids once a week in my opinion!