Monday, February 1, 2010

Growing Pains

There comes a time in the growth of every guild where you have to start doing multiple runs in order to give everyone the chance to raid.  Some guilds focus on only one run and cycle people in and out.  That's fine in theory, but what about the people who are cooling their heels in front of the PC?  Especially when you've had a good recruiting run and people are chomping at the bit to get some ICC in.  We've reached that point.  Next week we're starting two separate 10 man runs on different days.  This also helps with people who have conflicting schedules with the raids.  The real challenge is making sure everyone gets their due.  I think guilds forget that when they recruit, they have a duty to those individuals to include them in as many guild runs as possible.  After all, you don't join a guild to sit around usually.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How To Work With Two Guilds

Tonight we begin a grand experiment to have two guilds attempt ICC 25 on a regular basis.  In one corner, you have a guild that saw a lot of conflict internally and then worked through it to become one of the up-and-coming guilds on a server.  In the other corner, a solid progression guild that has made a name for itself by being professional and pushing the available content as far as they can on a weekly basis.  The good thing is that both guilds have a bit of a past with each other due to inter-guild relationships.  We've grouped together in the past and have gotten to know each other some.  Now comes the interesting part.  We have to work together to down content.  Sounds easy right?  It's not.  Each of us have different expectations and we have to make those work between us.  Tonight will be a testing ground to see how well we work together to overcome the challenges ahead.

I do have to say that our overall goal as a guild is to get to the point where we can run this kind of content ourselves, but in the time that we recruit, working with others is a good exercise.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Art of Hypocrisy

I now feel like a hypocrite.  After a lengthy period of time where I stayed hacked off with other guilds who used the Gear Score yard stick to measure up people for raiding, I found myself using it as well.  I do understand that GS doesn't equal skill, but something I've come to realize over the past month is that with ICC, those instances can be a serious gear check. 

What's a gear check you ask?  Let's examine what our gear does for us.  I'll focus on a class I know well right now.  The Mage. 

I won't go into too much depth about specs, but I use Arcane right now.  Arcane depends on several things and yes, we of the Arcane variety could argue day and night about what we think is most important.  What I'll focus on here is Haste and Crit.  Haste lets me cast much more quickly than I normally would and of course, crits make my spells hit harder.  Combined, you have a great deal of DPS dealt due to the speed increase and crits hitting.  In a 25 man environment with all the buffs, I'm sitting at 50% crit and about 535 Haste which means I cast 16.35% faster than I normally would.  The lower my stats, the less I'm doing overall, which means that under most circumstances, the raid would struggle to make up the difference.  More time in a boss fight equals failure usually.  You have to deal with enrage timers and the ever decreasing mana pools of casters and healers.

So yes, I'm using GS as a simple measure how someone can hang with the group during an encounter.  Of course, I don't use it as a end-all of measuring sticks.  I've even taken someone with just over 2k GS into an ICC 25 rep run and into ToC25 to clear.  I think it simply depends on how the group works together and knowing each member's strengths and weaknesses.

When the Raid Leader has an OH NOES!!1 moment

So there I was last night minding my own business and prepping for the raid.  The GL gives me a phone call to confirm that we're going to do the 25 I have scheduled at his request and I let him know that all is well.  It's on the calendar and we're going to have a great night.  I'm sitting in Dal and getting ready to port to Stormwind to collect some flasks when the usual, random "You have been disconnected from the server" message pops up. 

Ok. No problemo.  Logging back in.  Nothing.

At that moment, I glance over at my wife's machine and notice she has the same problem.  Probably just the router or my ISP renewing the IP.  I do my thing with the local equipment.  Still a lot more of nothing.  I then run a line directly to the modem and try to run an IPCONFIG so I can see if we're even pulling anything.  Yep.  There's an IP and everything, however, we're still not getting a connection.  Keep in mind that I (yeah, you'd think I'm going to figure things out) work in fiber optics all day long so this kind of stuff is second nature to me.  What's the first question I ask my wife?  Honey, when did we last pay the bill on this?  So anyway, I'm thinking we got disconnected for nonpay because we were going on 45 days since the last payment.  I'm not even considering that my equipment is pulling IP's and let's me ping the local office down the road.  Turns out there was an OC line cut last night out near Knoxville.

So they ran the raid without me, which is good because it means we have some people who aren't afraid to step up to the plate! 

The other funny thing (well, not funny but yeah) was when Doc calls me last night to put me on speaker so I can talk to the other officers on Vent while we all decided what to do with two people who were causing issues with another member.  They all three have their problems but harassment isn't condoned in the guild.  Especially in Vent when there are other people having to put up with it too.

So ended a fun night and started an early evening in bed.  Without my wife who watched TV.  ;p

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Running a Raid

Last night was a time of reflection and a gut check on a personal level.  I haven't led a raid since back in the days of Vanilla WoW.  I've been more than happy to let the bean counters take care of it while I got a chance to sit back and relax and do my job.  Last night was different.

I decided to have our guild start hosting regular 25 man content raids a couple of weeks ago.  I put it on the calendar and started advertising so I could get some talent outside of the guild to help us out.  Essentially, it's a guild hosted raid.  I really wanted it to be a success.  At about 6 PM server, the advertising started and we had a full group.  I was really hoping it would turn out well since there were quite a few new faces in the raid.  Let's just say that I was surprised.  I was scrambling to throw out the raid warnings, keep vent quiet, do ready checks and distribute loot.  I had a lot of fun watching how everything was coming together.  It was a great to see how everyone worked together.  When something wouldn't work, we'd alter our strategy and then hit it again, often times with positive results.  The raid went so well, in fact, that we didn't lose a single person until about 2 hours into the event.  There was even a person who decided to stay with us rather than run with his guild in another 25 they had going.  The results were impressive to me in regard to how smoothly things went.  I can't take all of the credit though.  Several guildies were super helpful and really made things work for us. 

The one lesson I take away is this though:  Have your loot rules set in stone. 

Since this was more or less new to me considering how long it's been since I've run a raid, I forgot to have them written down and to flat out state everything before the raid started.  Not that there was any real drama, but my life and the lives of those who participated would have been a lot more simple had I put all of this out at the beginning of the raid.  Instead, I was left scrambling to remember how I wanted to do loot.  Today, I put it on paper!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Elitist Group Addon

So I stumbled across this addon called Elitist Group when browsing my realm forums today and it looks promising.  Here are the notes about the mod.

Elitist Group's goal is to shift focus away from single scores that don't tell you anything about the users choice of gear. Instead of a single score you'll see a variety of information from experience in different tiers of dungeons and raids, to if their choice of equipment, enchants or gems matches their spec.
All inspection is compressed on logout to save space. How long data should be saved can also be set to prevent the database from growing too large.

Slash command: /elitistgroup (/eg) use /elitistgroup help for a list of slash commands.

Bug/suggestions reports
Curse comments are a pain to track, if you have a bug to report please post them on the ticket tracker

Oh god another Gearscore. I hate you die die die
Nope! Item level is only used to give you an idea of a players gear, it is not and will never be the primary means of judging players gear in Elitist Group.

Because focus is not put on your average item level, it doesn't matter what kind of gear you have. As long as you make proper gear, gem and enchant choices you can be a new 80 or somebody who took a 6 month break from the game.

Something got flagged incorrectly!
Should you find something that is being flagged incorrectly (either by what type of item it is, or if it's allowed/disallowed), be sure to let me know. The item/gem/enchant name, as well as the spec of the person will let me get it fixed quickly.

Items are categorized based on their stats. Spell power is a caster item, hit is DPS, Strength is for melee dps and so on. You can see what type of item the person is wearing, as well as if it's valid for their spec. If your Holy Paladin is wearing block gear, it will flag that they are wearing gear intended for tanks. However, if they were a Protection Paladin it will allow it.

While items will be categorized into their spec type, EG will also tell you if somebody is missing a gem or they are using green gems in epic gear.

Player notes
Finished a dungeon, was your tank amazing? Player notes will let you rate him 1 - 5 as well as make a note for future reference, or for other people who group with him. You can leave one note per person, with your most recent note overwriting any old ones.

Dungeon experience
Quickly see how experienced someone is through their achievements and stats. Everything is broken down by tier, 5 man, 10 man, 25 man and normal vs heroic. For raids, experienced is roughly 3 clears and for 5 mans it's around 6 (combined runs, not 6 of each 5 man). The scoring is setup to reward full clears. Somebody who has done the first 4 bosses in 25-man Trial of the Crusader but never clears it will have to do more runs to be considered experience than someone who clears the entire instance.

Some achievements are also factored into the score to make it easier to be considered experienced. A Tribute to Insanity or The Immortal can count for an entire full clear. Even doing 25-man Ulduar hard modes will increase your 25-man Ulduar normal mode experience.

For both 5-mans and raids, a summary window is provided through /eg summary. Allowing you to quickly see party members talents and a quick pass/no pass for all of their gear, enchants and gems.

Addon communication
All notes, player data can be synced. You will only send your notes, and people can only request your gear data. This makes sure that there is less potential for people to mess up your database of players and corrupt it.

Communications can be completely disabled, or you can choose to not listen to communications from certain channels to restrict who is allowed to request data. No communications are sent while in combat, they will be queued to prevent any noticeable effect on gam eplay.

Item level
Item levels are used to give you an idea of where gear is from, as well as the players general gear quality. It is not the sole (or even the primary) stat shown. Items have quality modifiers to stop 200 blues being worth the same as 200 epics: 100% epic, 95% blue, 90% green, 60% white, 50% grey. Heirlooms are considered 187 item level blues at 80 (2.22 item level/player level)

Suggested dungeons are lowest item level dropped with a 89% modifier for 5-mans, 90% modifier for normal 10 and 25 mans, 91% modifier for heroic/hard mode 10 and 25 mans.

Eventually, it always happens...

What happens?  Drama.  That ever-present shadow, insidious in nature that lurks just out of your field of vision, waiting to strike at the worst time last night.

So here we are in ToC 10.  Everything is going great.  We're burning through the instance.  We've just taken down the second encounter and out of the blue:  BAM!  We were suddenly hit with not only drama in guild chat, but in vent.  Most of us were rather shocked as to what was going on.  Why are these three people acting like they want to kill each other? 

Turns out there, was a bit of a love triangle in real life that somehow crept into the guild.  Now one person left the other and is now with another person and WE had to deal with it.  So the raid disintegrates right out from under us with everyone wondering what just happened.  That left the officers with some questions.

Now we have to figure out how to prevent such things from happening again.  After all, this is a game that we enjoy playing.  Not so much when people bring their real life problems into the middle of things and subject the rest of us to the stress and (for lack of better terminology) drama of having to deal with it. 

My take on things?  You bring your drama into my world, you go buh-bye.  I'm not having it.  As far as I'm concerned, the individual who was egging everything on should be kicked.  On person already quit over it and the third person just got tired of being assailed in guild chat and vent as his life was already stressful enough already.  I do think we need to show a little bit of loyalty to the person who's stuck with us through thick and thin and didn't even bother to bring it up in the guild.  

More later...