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

Archive for May, 2011

Tuesday Art Day: Gnomes Ahoy

I dug back a bit into my art archives to find something for this Tuesday. These are gnomes I did for Technophobia (on Twitter) back in December. They are all his gnomes: Curacao, Calsyee, Priggle, Kamarile and Chipotle. They’re all related! I don’t do much gnome art, so they were fun to draw.

So many gnomes!

Sunday Linking Love

This week has seen me spending a lot of time in front of the computer with a weird cold (It’s weird because I felt awful but it was never a full-blown cold). I’ve been catching up on silly achievement things that Millya hadn’t done yet. For instance, I had to get Vidyala the reputation to buy the schematic to make this bad boy:

In actual fact, I don't think Millya would ever have a license plate that says "pwn" because it's not grammatically correct.

So I’ve been having fun creating noise pollution and generally looking badass (come on, you can’t tell me that doesn’t look badass) and not really writing anything of my own… But I have read some blog posts lately that are worth a look if you’ve missed them!

Heavy Wool Bandage wrote about Intellect Issues – not the stat. To me, this post is a reminder to have patience with everyone who is playing and think about the things you say. We’re all playing for different reasons and with different skill-sets, and sometimes it’s easy to forget. That’s different, not “better.”

I’m not linking to a specific post, but in case you missed this news, Jaedia is blogging again at Jaedia’s Menagerie after a hiatus. Drop by and say hi!

Kamalia posted an image of a curly-haired Tauren I just love. You may have guessed from my own character, but I like curly hair. It’d be great to see some new Tauren hairstyles in general.

Akabeko at Red Cow Rise wrote a short fic about an archaelogy item that’s bothered me, too. I found it poignant and sad.

Finally, Shintar shares some of her pug stories from recently. They aren’t horror ones, either, further reminder that sometimes pugs are just fine. (I think we all need that from time to time).

Voss and I booked our hotel for our trip at the end of June. We’re not going to Blizzcon, but we are going to Vancouver and we’ll meet three guildies/WoW folks during the trip! I don’t usually do this, but I’m trying to build a buffer of posts to schedule for while I’m away. If you have any requests or ideas for posts or things you’d like to see here, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do! No promises, but the muse could use a bit of a hand right now.

Random Acts of Kindness: Cross-Faction Edition

My druid, Shae, and her original Teldrassil Sproutling! He seems to have fallen asleep. He's so lazy. He'd usually find a spot to snooze smack in the middle of the raid, preferably in fire.

I’ve been working on my various collections lately. Due to my history with changing mains, my achievement hunting has been hindered in some regards. For example, I started collecting pets with my druid and more or less had to start from scratch with Millya’s collection. This is the background story behind why I was seeking the Argent Tournament pets, so long after the Argent Tournament’s conclusion.

It happens that I think the AT pets (all of them) are some of the neatest pets in the game. My Teldrassil Sproutling was my constant companion for druid healing. It was pretty easy to just quest until I had enough Champion’s Seals to get the Alliance ones for Millya! Where I ran into some trouble was trying to get the Horde ones. Back on my old server, I’d just spent a bit of gold to buy them for my druid. This was when the Argent Tournament came out, most people were doing it every day, and that server had a healthy Horde population to match the number of people playing Alliance. My current server doesn’t have that. There aren’t very many Horde players there, period. Some of these pets are up for sale on the neutral AH (or people transfer them over) but for exorbitant prices. And why not? They do take some time and effort to obtain, and the low population keeps them fairly exclusive.

I could probably have afforded to buy them all. But I thought, there has to be a pet collector on the Horde side who also doesn’t want to spend 6000 gold per pet to get the Alliance version. I made a post on my realm forums to the effect of, “Looking for Horde to trade AT pets with.” They cost 40 Champion’s Seals each, so we could just straight up trade. Alliance pets for Horde pets!

After about five days and no replies to my thread, it wasn’t looking good. I thought I’d been too ambitious. Maybe Moonrunner’s Horde players aren’t pet collectors, or else it was so easy to obtain the pets that they’d all collected them ages ago. Then Fsob mentioned to me, “Hey, did you see someone responded to your thread?” I’d stopped checking it! A Tauren warrior had replied saying he thought he had some seals left over.

I sent him an in-game mail (Horde-side) to ask him which Alliance pets he most wanted. I didn’t think I had enough seals for all five, but I definitely could get three right away. We played a bit of message tag until Sunday, I logged in and found a message from an Alliance character of his, and the character was online. We started talking, he was mostly asking how he could get the pets to me. It was the next part that flabbergasted me.

“I don’t collect pets,” he told me, “So I don’t need them, but I have all five for you. I made a lot of money selling them before so I figure this is karma. I thought when I first replied that I could get maybe two, but it turned out I had a lot of seals on different alts.”

He wouldn’t hear of taking anything for them. His Alliance character didn’t need anything. He suggested we make the switch then, if I had time. I made my way to his character in Orgrimmar, still completely floored. There they were in the trade window, all five of the pets.

I thanked him repeatedly and told him that if nothing else he’d made a friend Alliance side and if he ever needed anything at all, I wanted to help him.

A little bit of Mulgore wildlife. Hey, Draenei can appreciate creatures from all over Azeroth, right?

This is undoubtedly the kindest thing a complete stranger has ever done for me in WoW. He suggested that if I wanted to ‘repay’ him I could just pay it forward and do the same thing for someone else Horde-side. It’ll take me a bit of time to get all the Seals and find the right person, and I just might do that, or think of something equally momentous to do. Best of all, I will not be able to take out any of the new pets without thinking of this generous Tauren and his completely unexpected gift. I think it will always make me smile, and so not only do I have new pets, they also mean something.

Has a stranger in WoW ever done something really nice and totally unexpected for you? Did you do something nice for someone else in return, or maybe even without the initial catalyst? If you find yourself inspired yourself, let me know, I’d love to read about your experiences. I like to generally believe that all people are basically good, I love when the universe tries to prove me right!

Business Time Raid Guide: Heroic Halfus (10)

First, a brief preamble. It’s been brought to my attention that there aren’t many heroic tens guides out there – or many guides assume that you are a twenty-fives guild (with a twenty-fives roster to draw from) for these heroics. There are, of course, many strategies and what you choose to do will be based on the classes you have available to you. I’ve never written an actual boss-strategy guide, so bear with me here. This strategy may not be the one that your guild uses, in which case, feel free to offer your suggestions below. Keep in mind, though, that I run a troll-free operation. If you aren’t respectful and constructive in your remarks, they’ll never see the light of day.

If these prove useful to folks I might consider writing more; your feedback is welcome as to format and key information! Guides are so much more work than any other blog posts; this post alone has taken me many hours to write and research. Thanks to BT members that read and reviewed the strat for me; I wanted to make sure it contained key information for all roles.

Overview

So, your guild has cleared all of the normal mode content in this tier! Or maybe you haven’t, but you’re working on Nefarian and you’ve killed Cho’gall and you think, hey, maybe we could do some of the easier heroics. Well, Halfus has a reputation for being “the easiest,” and once you get a handle on it, it’s definitely doable by most ambitious raid groups. It is intense, and requires coordination from everyone to understand what’s going on. Heroic Halfus varies from the normal mode encounter in that you don’t have specific “active” drakes week to week. They are all able to be active. Everything does more damage (duh, I know). After six minutes, Halfus will use Berserk and the fight is effectively over, this is the enrage. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the normal mode Halfus encounter and all of the abilities.

The key to this encounter is the debuff Dragon’s Vengeance. After you kill one of the dragons, Halfus will take 100% more damage. This ability stacks up to five times. The fight will start out incredibly hectic and become much more manageable as each dragon dies. Less damage will be going out, and Halfus himself will take more. At the end, when Halfus has a full stack of this debuff it is generally easy to bring him down.

Abilities/Effects

These are Halfus’ key abilities. Where applicable, variations applied by releasing a drake are noted in blue.

Frenzied Assault – Increases the caster’s attack speed by 120%. Nether Scion: Nether fog blinds Halfus, reducing his chance to hit, attack speed, and damage done by 25%.

Malevolent Strikes – Halfus’ attacks wound the target, reducing the effectiveness of any healing on it by 8%. Stacks up to 12 times for a max reduction of 96% to healing. Slate Dragon: Once every 35 seconds or so, Halfus will occasionally become stunned for 12 sec.

Shadow Nova – [0.25sec Cast] Dark magic is unleashed, causing 47500 to 52500 Shadow damage and knocking back all enemies within 50000 yds. Storm Rider: Slows the cast speed of Shadow Nova by 500% (to 1.50 seconds) and makes it possible to interrupt.

When his health is below 50%, Halfus will be able to cast Furious Roar – [1.50sec Cast] Halfus roars periodically, inflicting 19000 to 21000 physical damage and knocking his enemies to the ground.

Activating the Time Warden allows the raid to dodge fireballs, and activating the whelps decreases the amount of damage done by the fireballs.

Special Notes

You’ll want someone in the raid providing Shadow and Fire resistance. Sub-50%, someone has to be able to break out of a stun in order to interrupt a Shadow Nova, as Halfus will cast Furious Roar. He roars one, two, three times and then immediately begins to cast Shadow Nova. A mage can do this if positioned far enough away from Halfus that a Blink will land you facing him. (You can practice this on normal, too). I count his roars aloud, and on the third roar (immediately after I’ve been stunned) blink and then counterspell. Our raid has two mages doing this so we’re double protected. A human can also do it using Every Man For Himself, but regardless of how your raid handles it, someone has to or you’ll be eating Novas in that phase.

Raid Composition

Two tanks (three tanks)
Three healers (four healers)
Five DPS

It is worth noting that our initial H Halfus kills were accomplished with a slightly different layout than this; we used one Atonement/smite specced priest in place of a DPS, bringing the number of healers to an effective 3.5 or so. This additional healing allowed us to survive longer and we were still within the enrage timer, but better gear has allowed us to do it with only three healers. Another factor to consider is what type of tanks you have. A paladin is able to cleanse stacks of Malevolent Strikes off him/herself. Our paladin healer can do the same for our warrior tank, but not for both a warrior and a bear. This ability is huge in this situation. I’m sure it’s possible to use another composition (I’ve heard of both three tanks and four healer compositions, although naturally you can’t have both three tanks and four healers). This is the strategy that worked for us, it is by no means the only option.

See below for legend.

Positioning

Your tanks should be close together to facilitate AoE damage to drakes and whelps and for ease of taunting. The rest of the raid should be loosely spread out on the right side of the room. Not so far as to be out of range of healers, but for much of the fight you can’t dodge fireballs and so should arrange yourselves accordingly. If you stand on a buddy, you will get fire dropped on his head.

I made the diagram above to illustrate this. Here’s the legend:

Skull: Storm Rider

Cross: Nether Scion

Star: Whelps

Square: Time Warden

Orange Circle: Halfus

The DPS on the far right is someone releasing Nether Scion and then joining the group. The melee DPS by star is someone releasing the whelps; he/she will then move in to begin DPSing skull.

Strategy

Your goal here is to kill one of these dragons so fast they don’t even know what happened to them. Ideally, you want to kill the second two in rapid succession/simultaneously. The longer the drakes are active, the greater the chance that something will go wrong with the tank swaps and your raid will be taking heavy AoE damage as well so you need to burn them down. We use the following drake order:

1. Storm Rider – the off-tank releases Storm Rider at the beginning of the fight, and it is the priority kill target. All DPS focuses on him.

2. Nether Scion – Someone has to release Nether Scion at the same time; I usually do this and then blink towards the group (but not INTO it). Our hunter misdirects to the OT; but in the absence of a hunter we have also used healer aggro to draw the dragon across the room and have the OT quickly taunt it.

3. Whelps – Released simultaneously with Storm Rider and Nether Scion. A special note about whelps; their ability isn’t particularly noteworthy however it is worth your time to kill them, and many classes are capable of doing so while simultaneously killing their primary target. Hunters and rogues have excellent AoE for this purpose, and fire mages are absolutely ridiculous. If you can get a good Combustion rolling on Storm Rider and then use Impact to spread it to the whelps, you will be laughing. Heavy AoE can bring the whelps down almost exactly when Storm Rider goes down, and so you already have two stacks of the debuff on Halfus!

4. Time Warden – Released only after two drakes are down.

5. Slate DragonIgnore, do not release, although on our very first kill of this our OT ran over and released him and the subsequent stun on Halfus allowed us to get the kill. Use at your own risk, but 5 stacks of the debuffs are not necessary to complete this encounter.

I’ll get into specifics for each role after this, but basically the fight goes like this: Chosen drakes/whelps are released. The tanks will do some swapping. Storm Rider dies. Nether Scion and the Whelps die (likely together). After two drakes are down, Time Warden can be released. Once Time Warden is down, DPS Halfus. Below 50%, he begins to roar – but so long as you make sure to interrupt his shadow novas (and even if you miss one, perhaps) you win!

This is what "winning" looks like. I PROMISE.

Tanks
One tank will be tanking lots of things (many whelps, handle it). This tank handles Storm Rider, Nether Scion, and the whelps at the same time to start the fight. The challenge here is maintaining aggro on all of the targets and using your CDs simultaneously so that you don’t keel over. Any debuff you can put on the whelps and dragons to reduce their damage done will also be a boon (Demoralizing Shout, Thunderclap, etc.) All of the adds and Halfus should be tanked in the same area to allow for easy taunting.

The other tank initially handles Halfus. Note if you are a warrior tank (and usually charge to begin the fight) do not charge towards Halfus. Pull him and make him come to you at first. The reason for this is because the Halfus tank will be gaining stacks of Malevolent Strikes quickly. If you acquire these before Halfus receives the debuffs from the released drakes/whelps, a dead tank could result! With MS stacking, this tank can’t take Halfus for too long before becoming unhealable. If your main tank is a paladin, then they can let their MS strikes accumulate to ten and then cleanse them by quickly using bubble and then canceling it. Here’s a macro to help you handle that, straight from Rhidach. You have to hit it twice.

/cancelaura Divine Shield
/cast Divine Shield

The tank will begin to gain fresh stacks of MS. At five stacks, the OT will taunt Halfus off of the main-tank and the MT will taunt the two dragon targets (It can be too messy to pick up whelps, but for a short time the OT can handle Halfus and the whelps).

At this point, another exchange is performed when the MT’s five stack drops off naturally (after thirty seconds). If you have access to any other spec of paladin, they can use Blessing of Protection (quickly followed by Blessing of Freedom) to ‘cleanse’ a stack of debuffs from a non-paladin tank, thereby easing the difficulty of one of these exchanges. The “quickly” part here is important; every paladin healer knows what happens when you just BoP the tank!  Learning how to handle the tank swapping is a major obstacle in the fight.

The other factor here is Shadow Nova. Our raid is geared enough now that we can afford to leave one melee DPS on Halfus throughout the entire fight (and this is what we do). Their sole responsibility (in addition to damaging Halfus) is to interrupt Shadow Novas. In the absence of the raid DPS necessary to accomplish this, tanks can now more easily interrupt Shadow Nova, but beware of Shadow Novas going off during a tank swap. It’s extremely helpful if ranged DPS in particular focus Halfus and be prepared to back-up Shadow Nova interrupts during the first few minutes of the fight. The damage from these is punishing, and can wipe your raid if even one goes off (considering the other AoE and heavy tank damage going out).

DPS
Your task in this encounter is actually fairly straightforward: kill the first and second dragons and whelps before they can kill your tank. Initial aggro here is going to be shaky – we’ve had some clumsy wipes from pulling aggro on Halfus himself before we really figured out the encounter. DPS on Halfus hardly matters, especially initially. Don’t even attack Halfus right away. Give your tanks time to position all of the drakes. Your first target is going to be Stormrider. Depending on your class, you may also be responsible for releasing one of the drakes (I always release Nether Scion and blink, as noted. Our rogue usually releases the whelps and then uses Tricks to direct them towards the OT). If you’re a hunter, misdirecting Nether Scion to the OT is incredibly helpful. Once the tank has aggro on Storm Rider, we use Heroism/Bloodlust.

Classes with the ability to do incidental (cleave, DoT) AoE damage to whelps and other drakes are invaluable here. As a fire mage, it is no DPS loss to use Impact to spread your DoTs to the whelps – in fact, it will help you to do ridiculous DPS (upwards of 50K). The reason for this is also because of the way the damage debuff stacks on Halfus, you can attack Halfus and chain your DoTs to other dragons to do 100 (200, 300%) more damage as the fight goes on. I’m not going to speak to every class’s abilities, here – I know our rogue does very high AoE in this encounter, as does our hunter. One thing to note though is if you are using a method that allows for direct damage on Halfus and splash damage on the dragons, be careful. His health drops very quickly; and if you mistakenly push him below 50% while your group is still handling drakes and whelps, you will very likely wipe. I usually swap around targets after the first drake is down to make sure to not push Halfus too far while still gaining some benefit from his debuff.

Other than that, be aware of the kill order, watch your aggro and be prepared to use any threat drops you have available to you. Help with Shadow Nova interrupts if at all possible; I use the following macro:

/cast [modifier:Alt, target=focus, exists, nodead] [] Counterspell

This will interrupt your Focus target if you hold down Alt as you press whatever key it’s bound to. Replace “Counterspell” with your interrupt of choice.

Healers
This is not a kind fight to healers, especially initially. Everything is happening simultaneously here. You have two tanks, both taking heavy damage. They are also trading a debuff that makes them unhealable. On top of that, you have an incredible amount of raid damage happening in the form of fireballs hitting the raid. They can’t be dodged until Time Warden is released. Make sure healers are assigned to specific roles, and plan to use any cooldowns you have to keep the tanks and raid alive in this crucial first phase. You’ll want:

  1. Healer – Halfus Tank
  2. Healer – Drake Tank
  3. Healer – Raid Healer
  4. Optional: Fourth

Another option is to just assign one healer to a specific tank. I conferred with one of our guild healers for this section of the guide, and he wanted me to mention that a four-healer strategy is highly recommended and will help with the significant raid damage going out until Time Warden is released. You will, of course, need to have the DPS to compensate for the loss of one healer, and if you have the option of something like an Atonement priest, by all means use it. They do DPS and healing. Also, as a healer, use any mana regen abilities early on. You will get a brief reprieve (before Halfus hits 50%, and after drakes have been dying) and you won’t need much mana until phase two at that point. Paladin healers should save their personal bubble for phase 2; much like a mage’s Blink it can be used to escape Furious Roar and begin healing immediately.

Our paladin, Sinpree, describes H Halfus as a pretty basic fight from a healing perspective. The biggest thing is maximizing mana regen at the beginning and making sure you put out the HPS to keep everyone alive, and then leaving yourself enough mana to finish the fight.

Conclusion

Heroic Halfus can seem like a very complicated fight with so many things happening. You will probably wipe most while your tanks and healers sort out the initial damage and taunting mechanics. Above everything, keep your cool and remember that if you can survive the first portion you are well on your way to defeating the fight. Apart from interrupting Shadow Nova in P2, it’s all downhill after the first few drakes have died! Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to ask them in comments. Here’s to more dead internet dragons!

6 Reasons To Sign Up For Twitter

The bird is the word.

You may have heard of this newfangled social media thing. Like me, you might be initially opposed to it. I thought that Twitter was mostly people talking about what they had for lunch (in 140 characters or less). I suppose sometimes someone mentions lunch. The breakthrough for me with Twitter came when a blogger I liked and respected (hi Anea!) suggested I ought to sign up for Twitter “because I seemed like I’d be fun to talk to.”

“People talk to each other with this?” I remember thinking. They do! It’s like a big IRC channel where WoW nerds hang out. Whether you are a blogger or an avid blog reader, a knitter, a runner, or just someone who enjoys MMOs, there are people who share your interests that you can talk to. You’d be surprised how many of those interests often intersect. I think there are many reasons to sign up for a Twitter account and start tweeting. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. You can unsubscribe from the major MMO news sites, because you’ll never miss news again. I’ve truthfully ‘heard’ more breaking news on Twitter than anywhere else. Of course, it’s not a ‘news source,’ (do your own research!) but if a new armour set has been released, if a Blue has said something noteworthy, or if some major change has been announced – you’ll usually hear about it in under a minute. Sometimes controversial news is marked by what I fondly think of as a twitsplosion – a flurry of incensed or astonished tweets from different people.

2. Get to know your favourite bloggers, or get to know your readers. Often, discussions on Twitter can be similar to blog comment discussions (albeit a bit truncated). Most bloggers and WoW folks have a Twitter account – everyone from Big Bear Butt to El from El’s Angling. (I really like fishing!) People use them to various degrees, but it can be really fun to see the person behind the blog or site, as most folks are a bit more personal on their Twitter.

3. Take advantage of a resource in its own right. Usually, if I have a question that Google doesn’t immediately answer, someone (or multiple someones) can answer it for me on Twitter. Does anyone have good links to warlock guides? Does anyone know of a holy paladin leveling guide? My guild has been wiping to phase x of fight z, can someone give us some pointers? The people on Twitter in my experience have been incredibly helpful. You can probably find anything from a recipe for a good bean soup to a boss strat just by asking, and there will be someone willing and able to help.

4. Find new reading material. Most bloggers will tweet about any new blog entry they make. People who read their list can then choose to “retweet,” or repeat that message to their own list of followers. In this way, you might see a blog entry whose name or subject matter catches your eye. I have found many new blogs via Twitter, just from following people who follow me, or clicking on interesting sounding blog articles. This doesn’t just have to be WoW-related, either – I also follow a few Canadian newspapers that tweet new articles as they happen. I definitely read more news because of this than I would otherwise.

5. Gather around the virtual ‘watercooler.’ Especially if – like me – you work from home, you’ll know that sometimes it can get a bit quiet on your own. Sometimes saying hi on Twitter in the morning can feel like strolling into an office, with fellow telecommuters and at-work people alike. There are people to commiserate with about the weather, or in my case to remind you that spring IS happening somewhere and will eventually come to the frozen north as well. (It did happen eventually. We have sun now instead of snow). If you have any kind of smart phone, you will find Twitter is a boon when you have to suffer public transportation or other boring necessities.

6. Customize your Twitter feed to suit you. By this I mean, you can follow five hundred people, or you can follow five. You can limit it to people you ‘know’ really well. I know people who follow three thousand folks, and people who follow forty-five. It’s entirely up to you how you choose to use it, and you can say as much as you like or as little. I guarantee you, it’s more fun if you join in the conversation, though. To find new people to follow you can always just look through someone’s Twitter friend list and see if there are any familiar faces. Don’t be shy; if you do decide to give it a shot, make sure you say hi to @_vidyala!

Twitter Basics

Hashtags: are used to separate subjects or topics people want to talk about and keep separate. For example, #wowarttrade2011 might be used for a specific purpose. Sometimes people use a hashtag ironically to comment on the subject matter they’re discussing or just to be silly. (e.g. #shitmyguildsays or #needcoffeenow). I don’t drink coffee, though, I’m just making this stuff up.

@s or “Mentions”: When someone ‘mentions’ a twitter name by including it in their tweet in its entirety, that tweet will appear in their timeline as a mention. You can mention multiple people in one tweet (reply all is the easiest way to do this). Even celebrities see their mentions and sometimes reply. Yes, I had a total fangirl moment when Brandon Sanderson answered a tweet of mine, what about it?! Anyway, make sure to check your mentions so you don’t miss when someone is trying to talk to you. It’s considered polite to reply if the tweet is a question, but depending on how many people you follow sometimes it’s not possible to reply to everyone.

DM or “direct message,” Twitter’s equivalent of a whisper. You can only direct message someone who is a reciprocal follower.

The specific tag “#FF” is used on Fridays to denote ‘Follow Friday,’ when people recommend others that you should be following. The Oatmeal summarizes what actually happens on Friday. For this reason I try to limit my #FFs and actually explain why the person is fun to follow.

Twitter applications: There are better ways to use Twitter than via the website. Personally, I use Tweetdeck on my computer and HootSuite on my phone. (Twitter itself has an app for the phone but it had a few bugs that were driving me crazy). These allow for more customization in the feeds and tags that you might follow, as well as easy ways to reply to everyone, block or report spam, etc.

Which brings me to: bots and spammers. Not everyone that might follow you on Twitter is a real person. It has more than its fair share of bots and spammers, unfortunately. I always go to someone’s home page and glance at their tweets and description. If there is no description, no avatar (the default Twitter ‘bird’), a page full of links with no commentary – or all of the above, then it’s quite likely they are a spammer. Tweetdeck has an option where you can block and report spam in a single click. On the persons’ avatar, it’s under Other Actions and then Block & Report Spam. Use this feature liberally. Death to spammers!

A final note about Twitter privacy and etiquette: You can opt to have your tweets “protected,” i.e. visible to only those you allow to follow you. Be aware though that if you want to acquire many followers of your own, this isn’t the best way to do it. If someone follows me and I have to request to follow them and I can’t see what their tweets are like, typically, odds are I just don’t follow them back. If you are uncertain about privacy, at least consider staying public until you find the folks you want to chat with and then go private later.

Remember: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, and nothing you say on the internet ever goes away. Your tweets are searchable, so I’d advise not saying anything about someone you wouldn’t say to their face. But that’s just plain old life advice anyway! The only trouble I’ve seen on Twitter are when people start talking about religion, politics, and sometimes mages vs warlocks. Don’t assume that everyone who also likes to kill internet dragons shares your politics, and above all be respectful. If someone really bugs you, you aren’t obligated to keep reading what they have to say. The number of people you will love reading greatly outweigh the few though, I think.

What do you think? Are you still a Twitter holdout? Are you thinking of giving it a try?

Cataclysm Recruitment

I’ve been the ‘recruitment officer’ in some capacity for my guild for almost as long as I’ve been in the guild. To be fair, this means something different in a ten-man group than it does for a big twenty-fives guild. We don’t need to recruit constantly or usually more than one person at a time. Because of our niche, recruitment has always been interesting. In some ways, it was harder because the vast majority of folks were looking for a “real” raiding guild (i.e. not tens). In other ways it was easier because there were very few tens-only guilds to serve the needs of those who were seeking them specifically.

More often than not a year ago I would have to approach people who hadn’t indicated a preference for twenty-fives, on the off chance that they were open to either raid size. Sometimes this worked and we gained an excellent guild-member because of it. Other times the person would scramble to specify, “I meant twenty-fives!”

The balance of power has shifted in the recruitment forums. An explosion of ten-man guilds scramble alongside twenty-fives to try and fill their rosters at all levels of progression. The way that guilds snap at the heels of any prospective applicant is a pretty strong indicator that it’s a buyer’s market out there. Happily, the number of people looking for a tens guild is about evenly matched with those seeking a twenty-fives guild. This is good for us. Unhappily, hardly anyone is viewing my ads.

Forum Organization

Since Battle.net was integrated with the official Warcraft site, the forums have also changed. A change I’m really not happy about is the way that the guild recruitment forum was rolled into one biiiiig forum. It used to be that there was some division between Horde and Alliance forum. I can see why they did away with this – after all, since faction transfers exist there are many people willing to switch sides for their guild of choice. It’s okay to me that Alliance and Horde posts are mixed together, but I still think this forum needs vast improvement.

Despite there being many other sites that have tried to fill the recruitment niche, none of them have ever really been as useful as the official forums. It’s a simple numbers game – if 80% of the population doesn’t know about or use your tool, then it’s not even worth the time it takes to register on the site. People ARE using the recruitment forums, but they’re a big mess.

I propose that the forums ought to be divided into at least two sections – one for people seeking a guild, and one for guilds seeking people. I wonder if they haven’t done this because it would reduce visibility for guilds advertising? I’d accept that sacrifice in exchange for an easy way to browse through the ads of individuals rather than the hundreds of other guilds I don’t care about. There are external sites that work to alleviate this problem, which is kind of telling. If you need another website to navigate your forums, it’s possible your forums could use some tweaking. They could even sub-divide the forums: one subforum for 25s raiding and one for 10s, and maybe one for PvP/Other (although I’m pretty sure most RP folks aren’t using the official forums for the majority of their recruitment. An RP guild would have better luck on the ‘realm’ forums).

The Many and The Few

The other obstacle facing recruiting guilds right now is a simple matter of supply and demand. So many new guilds sprang up for Cataclysm that competition for available players is fierce. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been browsing the recruitment forums for over a year and I’ve never seen it quite like this. If you aren’t one of the first people to reply to someone’s ad, chances are that your interest will simply get buried in the deluge of ad spam that follows.

It’s great for the people looking for a guild! There’s never been a better time to locate a guild that matches every criteria you have – server type, raid type, size and attitude. The flip-side of that is that it’s a difficult time to be a guild seeking personnel. As a guild leader or recruitment officer, you need to think about what makes your guild so different than the others also trying to attract a person’s attention. Are you more progressed, do you have better times for them? You know your guild is awesome, but you have to convince this person of that enough that they will apply. This also brings up the issue of quality. I’ve seen applicants advertising themselves that have, let’s say, 9/12 experience (with normal mode encounters). Which is fine! I’m not judging. But this same applicant will advertise that their guild of choice must have “at least” 6/13 hard-modes down. I can understand wanting to find a guild a bit more progressed than you are, especially if you are at a progression block in your current guild. You want to know that the guild you’re joining is pushing the content you want. But I can tell you now, if you personally have only done 9/12, there’s no way you are geared enough for doing the later hard-modes, at least in a ten-man guild. You would be a liability to that team until they were able to gear you further, and also until you actually learned the encounters. But these people will inevitably find a guild with that kind of progression, because that’s the way recruitment is right now. This is still a bit of a red flag for me, though – I wouldn’t want someone making those kinds of demands to join my guild. I’m pretty sure our attitudes towards perseverance and progression wouldn’t match up. It’s not that I wouldn’t recruit someone who hasn’t done any hard-modes, I might consider it if the personality and attitude were a match. Encounters can be learned. But in that case you are the one that has to impress me, not the other way around!

Something Wicked This Way

I can’t write a post about recruitment without mentioning another trend that’s really been disturbing me. It seems to be completely acceptable now as someone seeking a guild to post your Real ID e-mail address in your recruitment ad. I’ve seen folks casually say more often than not, “Here’s my Real ID contact information, so message me this way.”

First of all, are these people crazy? Posting up your Real ID in a public forum is just begging to be hacked. Hackers know it’s the same e-mail address you use to login to Battle.net in the first place, and you’ve just given them a key piece of information. So there’s the fact that it’s a security risk. Secondly, Real ID is intended to be a method of contact between real-life friends. It uses your actual name, unless you used a pseudonym when you first registered for Battle.net (You can’t change your name in the system without phoning a customer service rep, I looked into it). So you’re giving complete strangers access to your account e-mail and your real name without a second thought.

I’ve seen recruiters that also include their Real ID information along with, “Here’s how you can get in touch with me.” Well, this is a fine pickle. I’ve actually been frustrated to see that potential applicants are having conversations via Real ID before anyone has even posted a “reply” to their ad. The advent of Real ID being used this way might mean that I miss out on potential applicants to my guild – and so be it, because I am not going to be giving out my first and last name to a complete stranger just so that I can ask them some questions about their tanking spec.

In-Game Guild Finder

This is the newest development in the guild-seeking and finding scene: the in-game guild finder! Scott Andrews over at WoW Insider wrote an article for GLs about how to set your guild up to find applicants this way. This is what the interface looks like:

The description section has a harsh character limit. Hence, I could not put a period at the end of that last sentence, or use the entire word "apply."

That’s what ours looks like. Any requests your guild receives show up in the “Requests” tab where an applicant is also given space to send a message (although you can send a request without any message at all). So what do I think of the new tool? Well, any tool designed to bring a guild to the attention of prospective applicants is a good one. We’ve had a number of “requests” this way, but none of those people have actually joined the guild. There’s actually an “invite” button on the tab, and maybe some guilds would be happy to invite a member just on the basis of three sentences, but we’re not going to be changing our outlook on that anytime soon. People still have to go to our website to fill out a “real” application, and so this tool is an intermediary at best. Still, it increases visibility and might sometime gain us the right applicant so I don’t mind it. I hope they refine some things such as the “availability” section. Plenty of people are available on “weekdays,” but are those weekdays the days my guild is actually raiding?

Hanging In There

Having said all of the above, though, all of our recent recruitment has been quite successful. When we needed a new tank we had to look at an unprecedented five(!) quality applications, and it wasn’t an easy decision. We found our holy paladin healer back in February reasonably easily (and I don’t think it was my clever ad that attracted him either, more’s the pity). Recently we had our fury warrior swap to healing and subsequently recruited a friend of an existing guild member to fill the slot. This is naturally the ideal – never having to resort to “cold” methods of recruitment at all. If you can find quality people via word of mouth or existing contacts you are reasonably assured that the applicant will be a good fit for your guild at least in personality, and you also have someone to vouch ahead of time for their quality of play.

As it happens, BT is still recruiting for two members at the moment. We’re looking for ideally a moonkin and an excellent healer; either paladin, priest, or restoration shaman. If you want to read more about the specifics you can do so on our recruitment ad or our website. I’m also happy to answer any questions here. (Hey, it’s my blog, a little advertising never hurt anyone!)

On Leadership

I arrived at the guild leadership position pretty reluctantly. It wasn’t something I ever sought out or campaigned for. I didn’t start my own guild from the ground up. I took the position because – and I suspect this is more common than you’ll hear – nobody else wanted to do it. Nobody wanted it, and I wanted the guild to keep going and to do well. So I agreed. I don’t think I was the popular choice at the time, some people even going out of their way to let me know that xyz would have done it better.

I’ve made mistakes. Learning on the job will do that to you. One of the mistakes I made was not doing enough, thinking I could withdraw, stay everyone’s friend and let someone else do the dirty work. I’ve taken steps to rectify that since, and I like to think I’m succeeding. At the end of the day, the responsibility for the success and failure of the guild rests on my shoulders and I take that very seriously. I don’t consider my fellow guildies lightly. I’ve only been at this gig for a year and a bit now, but I’ve learned some things along the way. I’d like you to listen to these things, for just a moment.

I’ve spent countless hours worrying, talking, planning, and labouring for my guild. I’ve lost sleep. I’ve shed tears. When we’re in recruitment mode (and we are right now), I refresh forums every five minutes looking for suitable candidates. I try to write ads that will catch people’s eye, make us stand out in a sea of guilds with the same progression, with similar goals. More than anyone else, I have to believe in what we are doing because I have to convince others of that vision. I pay attention to who comes online, I get concerned when I haven’t seen someone for awhile, and I can tell when someone’s interest is waning. I can gauge the mood of a raid. I can tell you how many days it’s been since we last had a new boss kill, and I can sure tell you how I’m afraid that people will lose interest. I try to keep things upbeat. I make unpopular decisions. I know the ‘real’ names of every person in my guild and I genuinely care how things are going in their lives.

I think we have something truly great, and I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just due to me. I am terrible at vent interviews – I have a fantastic officer who  leads them. I don’t really like tweaking website code or colours – I have a savvy officer who handles that for me. I don’t have the best demeanor for raid leading – all the other officers take turns doing that. One handles sign-ups and scheduling, and we have a bevy of knowledgeable raiders who help to refine our strats and call things out mid-fight so that we can kill internet dragons. These things don’t run themselves.

What I’m skirting around saying but really want to say, is that there have been times when I really could have used a break. Times when my real-life was crazy, or sad, and people have stepped in to help keep things running. There have been times when I wanted to throw up my hands and take up a WoW career of pet-collecting. (The course of a true guild never did run smooth). I never did those things because ultimately the value of what I had – and the trust, and the expectations – were worth more than a brief break, even if I needed it. You may have stopped logging in for a week or two because you’ve grown bored of the game – the guild leader can’t do that. You may decide you don’t want to raid anymore  – the guild leader can’t do that. You may have a conflict with another member – the guild leader definitely can’t do that. Or if they do, they have to remain completely professional because it’s not just about you and them, it’s about what they want their guild to be and the respect they have for the people in it.

I don’t tend to lose my cool in pugs because I want the world at large to think well of my guild, and I am a representative of it. I don’t get in trade chat disputes, I try to establish contacts with other guilds on the realm. I do all of this because of how damned much I care.

You might wonder where I am going with this. I’ve read some things lately that have made me sad. Keeva is frustrated because she can’t find raiders who care the way she does and ultimately it may drive her to quit. Beru wrote something today that was subtle and poignant to me. The job we do is time-consuming, heart-wrenching, and often thankless. No, I’m not playing the martyr, it’s just a fact. There is no single person in your guild who cares as much as the guild leader cares, and if that’s not true – then it’s time to find another guild. I’ve been asked to expand on this statement because it could be vague and a bit misleading. I don’t mean that people in the guild don’t care. Of course they do! That’s what makes a guild great. I just mean that the extent of it comes with the position. Any guild conflict that arises is considered appropriate dinner conversation in our household. There’ve been times when one or the other of us will say, “Hey, let’s talk about something that doesn’t involve WoW.” I’m not even necessarily complaining there, either. It’s a volunteer job and a hobby and a passion that we share, and when things go right I am so proud. If a guild leader begins to care less than their members, they should seriously consider whether they do need to take a break or pass on the torch, because you have to care that much. Voss and I once had a discussion about what we’d do if any of our guildies were in trouble somehow, in real-life, and we could help. Would we help? I would help, every single one, because these are my people.

If you are in a guild that is struggling in any way – progression, conflicts, stagnation, lack of interest – before you complain (to the world at large, or to other guild members, the guild leader, or the officers) – first ask yourself: What have I done for the guild lately? Have I been logging in and chatting? Have I organized an event? Did I volunteer to take on some onerous task, run a guild five-man, write out a boss strat on the forums, or even just ask the guild leader or officers, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” or god forbid, “How are you doing?” There is no guild leader that can keep a guild steamrolling forward in the face of apathy and unrealistic expectations. The people in a guild are its lifeblood. If you aren’t part of the solution, there’s a good chance you are part of the problem.

Be part of the solution instead. And hug your guild leader (metaphorically) or just tell him or her what a great job they are doing and how much you appreciate them. I guarantee you it’ll make their day, and they don’t hear it nearly often enough.

How Long And Strange Indeed

It's violet, and it's mine!

I know I’m pretty behind the times here, but today I finished up School of Hard Knocks to complete Millya’s meta achievement, What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been. I could have done it last year but I was feeling belligerent then, and so instead I pouted about the way the achievements had been designed.

Don’t get me wrong – I still think School of Hard Knocks would be much better off if it were like what Rades proposed. If you want to make people do PvP content, keep it group and team friendly! I tell you, the AB I was in when I got that portion of the achievement was just stupid. I’ve never seen an entire team huddled around one flag like that. I rarely say anything beyond calling incs in BG chat and even I had to ask, “What are you all doing at LM?” It’s not even as if the Horde was “trading” the flag back and forth, they were delighting in murdering people over and over again. It’s frustrating to feel like you aren’t actually helping the team by being there. I was able to actually play in WSG instead of hindering my team, and we nearly won the EoTS too! AV turned out to be a tower-trading zergfest, but at the end of the day I’m okay with that. I’m done, and my orphan and I won’t trouble the BGs any further. I do feel bad for people who regularly like to PvP, though, and are going to find it well-nigh impossible to get anything done over the next week.

That said, I want to extend a big cosmic appreciative “thank you” to Cynwise of Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual. For two years now, Cyn has been such a positive force – encouraging people to get these achievements, helping them to learn how, and telling them personally via Twitter and his blog, “You CAN do this, and here’s how.” It’s so inspiring to me. Cyn could have just complained about the PvE folks “ruining BGs,” but instead he took it upon himself to extend a helping hand and express a message of kindness. Thanks for that, Cyn, your guide helped motivate me to finally get off my butt and get this done this year. If you’re dreading this like I was, check out his guide, and good luck!

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,308 other followers