Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for 2011

Tuesday Art Day: Daily Quests

This was my contribution to the Twitter Secret Santa Art Trade this year, done for Fyreuni of Daily Quests. There’s a version with text, if Fyreuni chooses to use it as a guest comic I’ll link to it, otherwise here is the non-texty version.

Fyreuni, Vas, and Fyreuni's pet collection.

I decided to do both Fyreuni and Vas because most times they are together in the comic and interacting (i.e. Fyreuni is griefing Vas in the best possible way). You’ll notice that bunny is totally messing up his hair. As far as the pets go, I included all pets that Fyreuni actually has, with a bias towards ones that I wanted to draw (d’aww little armadillo, boo Lil’ Taregosa). I am especially fond of the armadillo and the panther cub Fyre is holding. I did this more or less the same way that I do From Draenor With Love, which is very cartoony/chibi-esque and with no lines. It’s a time-consuming way to work but I like the results, at least for now.

As far as backgrounds go, I changed the background a few times, initially having them be in the Dalaran pet store but later changing to the little parkish area alongside the sewers. I didn’t like the indoor lighting, and it’s actually pretty dim in there. This is better. It’s actually unlikely that Horde would hang out here, I think, because it’s really more on the “Alliance” side of Dalaran. (Neutral city isn’t as neutral as they’d have you believe!)

Anyway, I hope you all had/are having a good holiday. This is really more of a “Wednesday Art Day” post, but I’m sure that doesn’t really matter.

 

Friday Link Love

It’s been a definite adjustment to me learning to juggle the needs of a webcomic, a blog, a guild/raiding and oh, that real life thing, too. Unfortunately it’s been Manalicious that has suffered the most because I consider the webcomic to have a hard deadline, and I’ve given priority to some RL things as well. (For example, visiting my Grandmother weekly, which I consider time really well spent).

Anyway, long story short – I haven’t written here but I’m not dead and it’s just for lack of time. Today I’m working on finishing off my Secret Santa Art Trade piece, which I’m excited to share when it’s done. Look for it next Tuesday! If you check out that link on the 25th or later, all of the art should be up.

If you haven’t otherwise been reading From Draenor With Love, we started a seasonal story arc a few weeks ago. You can check it out starting here:

Winter Fail (Part One)

It has rockets, gifts, and snow, so it’s pretty much the perfect holiday gift, in my humble and extremely biased opinion.

I also took part in a cookie exchange organized by Liala over at Disciplinary Action. Rather than mailing cookies, we traded and baked recipes from mystery givers, while someone else baked our own recipes. The cookies pictured above were not my cookies from this event, I made them last year but I can’t resist using the picture again. They are draenei! But also gingerbread!

Mana Cake Musings wrote a nice Fire mage specific guide to Dragon Soul, if you are a mage of the fiery persuasion it’s worth checking that out.

On a more serious note, Jaded Alt writes about Mental Illness and WoW in a piece that I found both insightful and personally significant. If you’ve ever struggled with depression, you’ll probably recognize yourself in what Windsoar describes. For me, WoW has been at times an unhealthy escape and a blessing. It’s good to have a way of being in contact with people, however minimally, at a time when your tolerance for socializing might be low. It’s also good (for me) to take myself away from WoW sometimes to get out and meet with folks face to face. I usually have to force myself to do that if I am depressed, and it usually does help.

Redbeard at Parallel Context has been writing about how the blood elves and draenei are really more alike than they’d like to think. He starts part one here, but it’s a four part series so make sure you read the later three if you’re interested!

Tzufit has a post about The Ethics of Raid Finder Loot that’s very thought-provoking! You may have already seen it as it was linked from WoW Insider, but if you haven’t it is well worth a read.

Many WoW bloggers took part in the Furtive Father Winter event and their posts are starting to be posted! I didn’t take part myself (because I was already doing the art exchange and I was already behind on doing it so I knew I wouldn’t have the time) but I’m sure there are some great gifts that came out of it. It’s always fun to discover new bloggers this way, too.

These are just a few items from around the WoW blogsphere I wanted to mention. Meaning, these are people who have been writing when I haven’t. I hope you find something you enjoy, and Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate it, happy holidays otherwise, or have a great weekend if none of the above apply to you! I’m going to be curling up with a good book and eating too much with my family. We already ate most of the baking, but it’s as if the chocolate in this house is multiplying (not that we mind).

 

 

Doesn’t Go To Eleven: One Guild’s Tens Experience Post-Cataclysm

Our latest stint of recruitment unfortunately coincided with me being away for family concerns, so recruiting feels like it’s taking a little longer than usual. I’ve written about recruiting being hard this expansion before (harder than I’ve ever seen) but I’ve been thinking about this a great deal and I’ve started to isolate some specific factors. It’s pretty interesting, actually. In a strange way, we’ve contributed to making things difficult for ourselves.

Special Snowflakes

Back when we were a “strict” ten hardmode guild, there weren’t that many out there. Kae over at Dreambound was my ‘strict ten’ buddy in the blogosphere, and perhaps there were others but I didn’t know about them. Some people expressed confusion about the strict ten ethos – why deliberately avoid acquiring gear that would make your encounters easier? For us, strict ten was a specific challenge. Hardmode tens encounters were often overtuned or designed in such a way that they were afterthoughts to the 25-man version, or ham-handed adaptations. Doing the heroic Lich King encounter while wearing tens gear meant something. It took ages for anyone in the world to even do it, and then it took longer for more groups to follow. (In the interests of full disclosure, we defeated H LK following patch 4.0, so it was easier than it was for people who did it prior, definitely. But it was still an achievement).

Strict tens guilds faced challenges in many ways. Recruiting was difficult because you were seeking players that wanted to do hardmodes and had the ability and will for them, but many such players gravitated towards 25s and considered tens the more ‘casual’ raid size. That was a hurdle we managed to overcome by appealing to that niche player – burnt out 25s raiders who wanted a smaller format, or people who were just a bit offbeat but still didn’t want to waste their time. A “serious” tens raiding guild seemed like a contradiction in terms to many, but we managed to bring in players despite that. Some of them were those seeking 25s that I managed to convince, others were those who wanted a tens environment on their own, and we built something we could all be proud of.

Having secured a roster, we faced other challenges – the perception in the community still being that tens wasn’t “real” raiding. 25s would farm our instances for gear (things like the trinket from H Gunship 10) all the while laughing at how easy tens were. But naturally, they had a significant gear advantage as they did this. This all changed with the adjustment to raid lockouts, something that I know a lot of 25s players weren’t happy about. Rather than doing “this AND this,” suddenly it became an either or choice. You were either raiding tens, or you were raiding 25s.

But ICC was hard on people, and many players in our guild teetered on the edge of burnout as Cataclysm loomed. Overall, we were ecstatic with the announced changes – shared raid lockouts meant that tens were a viable progression track and not just a place where 25s players went for an alt run or to let their hair down on the weekend. The announced changes to gear distribution in Cataclysm were amazing. We’d no longer be at a gear disadvantage, which meant that there would be less reason for people to turn up their noses at tens! Balance would be less of an issue (they could balance around existing gear because it’d be the only gear there was). It was like a tens raider’s wildest dream! I remember being giddy and feeling like our efforts as a strict ten had finally paid off. We’d stubbornly insisted on treating tens as the viable progression path we felt they were, and finally Blizzard was acknowledging it, too.

Be Careful What You Wish For

In a twist that strikes me as truly ironic, though, what was our wildest dream has also turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I feel like I am Hipster Guild Leader. “Hipster GL knew about ten-person raids before, but you probably haven’t heard of them.” In Cataclysm, everyone knew that tens would be getting the same loot. They’d even be eligible to make legendaries (something that hadn’t been true ever before). They already shared a singular lockout with 25s, and a raiding populace burnt out after six months of ICC flocked to ten mans in droves. I remember hearing about 25s guilds splintering into several groups, or forming up an “elite” team and leaving their other members in the dust. Ten man hard mode guilds sprung up like weeds, and suddenly our pretty small pond of tens raiding guilds was flooded. Ten person raiding went mainstream.

What did this mean for a hardmode tens guild that had been raiding tens since April 2009? It meant that suddenly there was a whole lot of competition. We went from being this odd little guild of people with the funny notion about tens to being one in a crowd of tens guilds – a single fish in a vast school of swimmers. Our server now has only tens progression guilds. All of the 25s guilds either folded, splintered, or downsized. The raiding world saw tens and saw that they were good. If tens raiding was our little indie band, suddenly we were hearing it on the radio twenty times a day. We were a pop hit.

We no longer had our elite strict ten ranking to use as a recruitment tool. At the height of our achievements, we were ranked tenth in the US (among strict ten guilds) during ICC. This was an awesome way to attract the kinds of players that we wanted. That method of recruitment was gone. I removed the ranking from our recruitment ad, because it’s not impressive anymore. We’re not in the top ten, or even the top hundred. There are thousands of guilds doing just what we do. The strict ten ranking was an odd thing that has engendered more than one debate over the past few years. The strict ten designation was very restrictive; it operated by counting the number of people in your guild who’d achieved a particular kill (25M Marrowgar, for ICC). Then it set an arbitrary limit, e.g. you could have seven people in your entire guild who’d downed 25M Marrowgar, but any more would disqualify you from being a strict ten guild. This meant that some people’s alts couldn’t join the guild. We maintained this level of monitoring for a long while, because it WAS one of our strongest recruitment tools. We had a big discussion in the guild about keeping it or letting it go, and we decided to ultimately drop the ranking (although we didn’t actually obtain any additional gear for our H LK kill so I still consider it pretty strict. Maybe strict-ish).

Comparisons are Odious

The problem for me all along, I’m realizing, was a shift in how and why we considered our rankings. Were they a tool we maintained for recruitment? Or perhaps did we fall a little bit in love with that number, and that spot? I can’t use our ranking as a recruitment tool anymore. So why was I checking it all the time? Also, what is our strongest selling point in a market that is 1) shrinking all the time, and 2) has an abundance of choices to buy what we’re ‘selling’?

It’s no secret to my friends and guildies that I am pretty hard on myself a lot of the time. Each time we slipped down a rank or failed to achieve a kill, it felt like a personal failure of mine. Why was I unable to keep those guildies from losing interest in the game? Why couldn’t I retain these members who’d been with us since ICC? Why didn’t we get that kill? Why didn’t we achieve this within a “reasonable time frame” (as measured by other guilds’ accomplishments?)

The big problem for me personally is a saturation of information. Twitter and blogs allow us to be connected to fellow players more than ever before. Heck, I have Twitter on all day long and when I’m not home I have it on my phone. Thus I’m in a position to see messages come rolling in like, “Just killed x boss,” or “Finished the entire raid!” and anything less than that feels like a personal failure. I actually think the raiding community is a lot smaller than we think it is. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of “coincidences” in the form of raiders joining our guild who used to raid together, or people leaving to join another guild that someone else is in who I am personally acquainted with. I think it’s more than just coincidence, it’s the fact that our pond is actually a lot smaller than we think it is. Which is part of the “too much information” syndrome.

For me, it’s a strange process. I have to consciously examine the facts of the guild at another point in time: We had very little turnover for a year. Our roster was stable. We had much less competition. We also used to raid four nights. A stable roster meant no readjustment period with new people coming in. It meant most people had experience with the same fights. We knew we were at a gear disadvantage, and perhaps that had a psychological impact as well. When we needed to recruit, we could point to our GuildOx ranking as a way of saying, “Look, we have credibility.” We were doing hard mode progression raiding with an adult roster of friends and dedicated raiders.

Then I have to consider the facts of the guild as it stands: We’ve had a ridiculous amount of turnover (in my mind) since Cataclysm started. We lost almost all of our healers, several tanks, and have had a veritable revolving door of DPS. But we only lost them to general disinterest in WoW, not to our guild personally. We downsized to three raid nights at the end of Wrath, so we have one less night and three fewer hours than we used to. Our roster raids less overall, and thus doesn’t master fights as quickly as they once did. Our old biggest selling point (GuildOx ranking) is no longer applicable. I think one of the biggest things we have to recommend us is that we are a stable guild (despite roster turnover) and have been so for going on three years. We still are doing hard mode progression raiding with an adult roster of friends and dedicated raiders.

Just Socks

At the end of the day, I have to recognize that Business Time – like any group of people – has changed over the years, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’ve all gotten a bit older, and/or recruited people who are older. We have jobs, girlfriends, wives, family obligations, children. We adjusted our raid nights to reflect that, and it’s impossible to pretend that wouldn’t have an impact. I should note, this isn’t an invitation to tell me all about how YOUR guild does xyz in x number of hours. I’m happy for you, but I’m talking about my guild, and the expectations or achievements of one guild can’t be applied to another. There are no rankings for things like dedication, maturity, longevity, and the ability to tease Voss. For the record, as far as I’m concerned we rank pretty high in these intangibles (especially teasing Voss). We are still dedicated to progression within the time allotted to us, and I think it’s important that we focus on what we’re doing, instead of constantly having one eye on server rankings or Twitter. And yes, I’m mostly directing that statement at myself. I took GuildOx off my quickbar bookmarks. Not because I don’t care if my guild does well (I do) but because I want to focus on what we’re doing. I think I’ve let myself be distracted by things that are of lesser importance, and that I need to focus on one boss at a time instead of always bemoaning what we didn’t do. We earned those purple birds last tier, we have a blast raiding three nights a week together. I am damn proud of what my guild does, that it’s managed to stay together and reasonably stable for all of this time – that even though we have to search really hard sometimes, we can always find the right people that want to be part of BT with us. This is your Business Time. There are many like it, but this one’s yours. (It’s not a Booterang, although that would make kind of an awesome guild name).

Finally, an entirely shameless plug, we ARE still recruiting and the link above will take you to our post. We’d like a shadowpriest or moonkin, ideally, with a working resto off-spec. We did find a paladin tank so we’re halfway to our recruitment goal!

Last but not least, tell me about your experiences this expansion. Has your recruitment gotten harder? Did you change raid sizes? Are you happy with the change?

The Well-Dressed Paladin, Revisited

This is a guest post by Kamalia of Kamalia et Alia. Thank you, Kamalia, I appreciate it so much and it’s great to see more paladin fashion! – Vid

With Patch 4.3 and what Ratshag is calling the TRANSMOGALYPSE just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to re-visit the idea of “The Well-Dressed Paladin” with the intention of making Transmogrification-friendly outfits inspired by each of the Paladin races.

I’ve omitted bracers except in one case where they are actually visible, and left choice of cloaks up to the person using the outfit. The lists compiled by Rades were very helpful for choosing weapons to go with these outfits.

The Crusader

modeled by Ophelie
Helm of Purified Thoughts, Chilled Shoulderplates, Cerulean Filigreed Doublet, Breastplate of the Righteous, Studded Girdle of Virtue, Legplates of the Righteous, Earthmender’s Plated Boots, Spiritualist’s Gauntlets, Aledar’s Battlestar, Commander’s Crest

I built this set around the matching boots and gloves. Originally I tried it for a Dwarf, but soon decided that it would work better for a Human. The Highlord’s Favor/Hyperion Shield/Khan’s Buckler would also be an appropriate choice of shield for this ensemble.

The Knight of the Silver Hand

modeled by Lisan
Khan’aish Helmet, Khan’aish Epaulets, Red Linen Shirt, Leonine Breastplate, Khan’aish Girdle, Shattered Hand Vambraces, Shattered Hand Gauntlets, Starcaller’s Plated Legguards, Explorer’s Boots, Ironfoe, Royal Treasury Courier’s Shield

This set started with the chestpiece and leggings. I tried it with the gloves and boots that I used in the previous set, but the silver trim on those items just didn’t work. The green on the pants doesn’t quite go with the Ironforge Red I used elsewhere in the outfit, but I couldn’t find any pants that I liked better.

The Vindicator

modeled by Vidyala
High Chief’s Crown, Justice Bearer’s Pauldrons, Rich Purple Silk Shirt, Fire Scarred Breastplate, Vindicator’s Cinch, Skyfire Greaves, Boots of the Watchful Heart, Life Bearer’s Gauntlets, Vindicator’s Brand, Aldori Legacy Defender

The chestpiece of this set, a quest reward from HFP, is sort of like a less-ornate version of the T4 Justicar chestpiece.

The Blood Knight

modeled by Antigen
Helm of Infinite Visions, Boulderfist Epaulets, Sawbones Shirt, Blackened Chestplate, Goblin Girdle, Runed Sketh’lon Legplates, Bloodforged Gauntlets, Bloodforged Sabatons, Summoner’s Blade, Bloodforged Guard, Blood Knight Tabard

This is a pretty standard Blood Knight ensemble, spiced up a bit with pure red boots and gloves.

The Sunwalker

modeled by Haloma
Glorious Headdress, Runic Plate Shoulders, Thunder Bluff Doublet, Plate of the Shaman King, Commander’s Girdle, Imperial Plate Leggings, Warbringer’s Sabatons, Warbringer’s Gauntlets, Serenity, Saltstone Shield

The Sunwalker outfit gave me a bit of trouble because most Sunwalker NPCs wear the Grunt’s Plate set, which is white-quality. Only the chestpiece is available in a green- or better quality version. It took me a few iterations of clicking through item lists in WMV to find a harmonious all-plate ensemble.

Bonus Set: The Redeemed Blood Knight

Lightforge Spaulders, Golden Filigreed Doublet, Ursa’s Embrace, Commander’s Girdle, Leggings of the Ursa, Hyperion Greaves, Hyperion Gauntlets, The Willbreaker, Outland Shield

I first started putting this outfit together for the Sunwalker, but once it was finished, it didn’t feel very “Tauren” to me. Rather, it seemed more like something that would be appropriate for a Blood Knight who had embraced a more Human/Dwarf/Draenei-like relationship with the Light following the rebirth of the Sunwell. This shield is a smaller model of the shields hanging around the walls of Sunfury Spire in Silvermoon City. I think this set would look particularly awesome when the Paladin is riding the Thalassian Warhorse or Thalassian Charger.
With the Ironforge shield shown above, it would also be appropriate for a Dwarf.

Paladins have a lot of great Tier sets, to be sure, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into how you might create a unique look that still has “Paladin” written all over it.

Business Time Recruitment and AFK

Hey guys, I don’t usually say this but I apologize for the blog silence this week. I had plans to write a post this weekend but a multitude of things prevented me, and last night my very elderly grandpa fell and hurt himself. He isn’t looking likely to make it so I’ll be AFK for an indeterminate period, at least a few days. In the meantime, I wanted to mention that we are recruiting and repost our recruitment ad to reach a wider audience. I’d really love to find players who are a great fit for the guild and type of raiding we do.

Meantime, From Draenor with Love has a few comics lined up without me doing any more, but I don’t have anything planned for the blog. If you have an itch to write a guest post, I’d gladly take a post or two to put up here while I’m away. You can e-mail one to me at puggingpally AT gmail DOT com if you’re so inclined. Other than that, if you’re looking for a guild, maybe we are the right guild for you! Thanks for your understanding as I let Manalicious take a brief pause.

p.s. – I was on Blessing of Frost this week with Kurn, Majik, Beru and Stoneybaby. There are a few sidesplitting moments (I think, at least my side was split). It’s well worth checking out for Beru’s moment of glory alone!

Business Time is a hard-mode focused ten man guild. We raid 9 hours per week and are 6/7 HM in Firelands. Raids are on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6-9 PM PST.

We are currently seeking two exceptional players to join our team of dedicated raiders. This is a unique opportunity to join a small roster of adults committed to performance but with a friendly, tight-knit atmosphere.

What we’re looking for:

You are an exceptional player of any role. We’re able to accommodate either a tank, a healer, or a DPS. Regardless of which role you’re filling, above all what we need from our new members is flexibility. If you are a tank, willingness and ability to fill a DPS role if needed is an asset. Similarly, you earn major points for being a healer who can also DPS on the odd night, or a DPS with a competent healing off-spec.

Paladin, priest and/or warlock applications may be given special consideration because of token distribution but above all we’re seeking the best personality and skill fit for our group.

Apart from your spec and class, we expect the following of all members:

- You are a player dedicated to excelling at your class and follow the latest theorycraft.
– You’ll always research strats (and will discuss or at least read strats on our forums in-between raids).
– A raid never catches you unprepared – flasks, food, fully gemmed and enchanted – you treat your gear with care because you want to do the best you can, not because you’ve been told that you have to.
– You’re interested in finding a like-minded group of people who are serious about tens.
– But you don’t take yourself too seriously, because even though we are all ready for business, occasionally that only lasts two minutes (but “two minutes in heaven is better than one minute in heaven…”)

What we have to offer you:
-Flasks, feasts, and repairs are all provided by the guild bank for each raiding member
-We also maintain a supply of enchanting mats and raw gems to help raiders keep their gear at its best
-The ability to experience hard-mode content in a relaxed atmosphere. We believe in accountability for our raiders, but we’re adults and treat each other as such.
-Progression raiding with good friends. Whether we’re hitting the BGs together or going to visit old content, we’re happiest when we’re doing it with our guildies.

About us
Business Time is a progression-focused tens only guild based on Moonrunner US (PvE, PST). We’ve been a guild for 2.5 years and we’ve raided strictly tens for all of that time. We chose to raid exclusively tens because we enjoy the challenges of additional responsibility being on every member, and we like to know the people we raid with.

We are a group of adults (ages 22 to nearly 40) that don’t have an infinite amount of time to devote to raiding, so when we raid – we aren’t there to mess around. At the end of Wrath we finished out the expansion with Bane of the Fallen King after acquiring Frostbrood drakes back in June. We were in the top ten “strict” rated guilds in the US at that time! Presently we’ve completed 6/7 heroic mode encounters in Firelands, finished up Glory of the Firelands raider, and we’re ready for Dragon Soul!

We raid Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6-9 PM PST.

We are a no-drama, low-turnover guild that has stayed strong for two and a half years now. We’re looking for long-term members who will stick around and continue to make our guild a great place to be.

If you like what you’ve read here and are thinking of applying or you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask here in this thread. You can also roll an alt on Moonrunner to chat with us – look for Millya, Vosskah, Yahwen or Shaen, or ask any member of Business Time for an officer.

If you’d like to check us out some more, you can do so at:

http://businesstimeguild.com

Tuesday Art Day: Bonus!

First of all, here is a doodle I did yesterday, not expressly for the purposes of Tuesday Art Day, but it works! Some people have asked me how doodley is a doodle (i.e. how long do I spend on something like this?) I’d say this is about a half hour doodle. So, above the ranks of an in-the-margin of a notebook type doodle, but not hours and hours either.

Secondly, I’d like to share with you a piece of art that is not MY art, but rather something I commissioned from the talented Aly Flock.

This was a surprise gift for Voss of the two of our characters; I just gave Aly some reference images and character info and this is what she came up with. It is perfect and I’m thrilled with it. Also, cupcakes?! How could she have known? Well, Millya’s love of baking was in her character description, but STILL.

Incidentally:

These were the cupcakes I brought to Fannon’s barbecue. I’m just saying. Remarkable likeness, don’t you think? If you’re interested in the recipe, it’s here: Pink Champagne Cupcakes, and yes they were as awesome as they sound. They had a sort of…fizzy taste to them? I made mini versions too, but something odd about the champagne was causing the tiny wrappers to peel away from the cakes. They still tasted good.

(p.s. Yes, that is a cupcake caddy. What else do mages without access to magic carry their cupcakes in?!)

Twisted Nether Blogcast

I don’t have much to say today, I just wanted to mention that I was invited to be a guest on the Twisted Nether Blogcast tomorrow at 8 Pacific (or 11 Eastern, depending on which one applies to you). The show is live so you can ask questions if you have any, or just hang out with Fimlys, Hydra and myself for a bit. I’d love to see you there!

Also, thank you to everyone who has been to check out From Draenor With Love this week. Our second comic went up and I am excited to post a third. (Waiting an entire week is killing me every time).

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