Archive for the 'Management' Category

08
Jul
10

What motivates you?

Finding motivation…

I wanted to digress from theorycrafting and paladin tanking for another short blurb on something that comes with the territory when you decide to become a tank for a guild or even more so a leader for a guild. I wanted to talk about motivation and what keeps you going when the end is in sight. I am currently having a crisis of commitment when it comes to my guild, it’s overall mission statement, and what we are trying to achieve as a collective group.

About a month ago, one of our officers came to us with the suggestion to recruit a player from TBC who left the guild and later the game for a while. We are currently in need of a few good players and he seemed to think that bringing back his friend to the guild would help bolster our ranks and reinvigorate the raiding corps with a skilled player. What transpired as a result was a less than pleasant discussion between old raiders on whether or not they wanted him in the guild. One of our officers was persistent to the point of frustration, a few of our oldest members thought it was a good idea, while one of our long time members was completely and whole heartedly against it. After weeks of people talking to all the involved parties, a picture of what people thought came to light, and his application was posted for comments from the rest of the guild.

To provide you with a bit of history regarding this person, he was a skilled player who was one of our better rogues during Sunwell. However, he had issues, which he has admitted since then. He created a rift in the officer corps between people who wanted to keep him because he was a good player and people who couldn’t stand some of the things he pulled at the expense of the guild. Fast forward two years. He has been away from the game for some time, is more of an adult, and has admitted his faults. His friends are adamant that he is a better person and would be a quality player for our raiding roster. Some of the current officer corps still is against it, some is for it. Many of the old and crusty raiders are against him coming back, few of whom still raid with us but have stuck around and always have had the best interests of the guild in mind. In contrast, most of the new raiders, who have shaped what the guild direction has become over the past year are in favor of inviting him.

What this has to do with my motivations…

I just wanted to provide you with some context as to what is going on so that you understand where this is coming from. I have over the past month acted as a mediator to this painful and stubborn debate on whether or not this player will be accepted into our guild. There are multiple threads in the officer forums about it, and there is a three page application in our guild forums which contains all positive or all negative perspectives. I personally am conflicted from a different perspective. In Sunwell I was a healer, and I was not an officer. I logged on, played, and logged off. It was a beautiful time where no one was bothering you with issues, and you did not have to worry about drama, raiding logistics, or member turn around. From this stand point, I really dont have any strong opinion of this applicant one way or another.

I remember that he made a fuss when someone else got the first glaive, I remember the fact that he complained so much he got the next two, and I remember when he stopped showing up because it suited him. But, I have also heard countless stories about how he has grown up, changed, and is a better person from trusted sources. This is why I am in the middle when it comes to his application. What pushed me over the edge, and has brought me to the point where I have little motivation to log on any more is the persistance from both sides to either get him in the guild or keep him out. From one side, there is a raider who has been a member of our guild for close to three years, and more than that, a fellow guild member of mine for 5 years, who is adamant about the fact that he will quit or step down if this person is let into our guild. From the other end is the applicants best friend, and current officer of our guild. My fellow officer has pushed this application to the point of no return, making idle threats, talking to each and every one of the other officers about it, and confronting the opposition on multiple occasions.

I personally think that this issue has stressed the officer corps enough that it has taken weeks if not months off of the longevity of the guild in WoTLK. Most of our officers are on our last legs as it is, and this has just made the problems of leading this guild even more pronounced.  I am having a very hard time motivating myself to continue to lead the guild and play the game in its current iteration. There are multiple escapes to this. I can quit the game, but I still enjoy it when I play and when I talk about theorycraft. I could server transfer and join another guild. Or, I could just stick it out. The type of person I am makes me want to stick it out, as I am very loyal and do not leave at the first sign of a problem. However, this has illustrated a glaring gap in our leadership and our guild as a whole, which forces me to want to hang my hat up. I also fear that if the guild has their way, this applicant is allowed in, and a long time member or two quit the guild or the game, that I have failed as a leader. While our guild is on its last legs, failing at encounters which should be one shots, it is still our guild. We are a shadow of the top 200 guild we were at the beginning of ICC, but we are still just as good as any other horde guild on our server.

A way out

In the end it is just a game, and if the game is causing this much undue stress, then its not worth playing, however when I am not dealing with guild issues, it is still fun. I will really have to begin to reflect on what I want out of this game to see if it is worth continuing on. If i could go back to just being a tank for a top guild, worrying about my strategy, gearing, encounter mechanics, and cooldown usage, I would be much happier. However, I have made a commitment to my guild, and I fear that if I break that commitment, I will break the guild.

/end rant

18
Jun
10

That time of year again

Why raid when you content is on farm?

As summer gets into full swing, we have come upon that time of the year, the time that happens every year, the time of exodus. Now I am not talking about that guild that does a great job at slaying monsters, but the inevitable defeat of a raid via attrition. It is my experience that most of the people that play this game in the upper eschelons of raiding success are younger. They have more time on their hands, less responsibilities, and have grown up in the gaming culture.

This doesnt mean that all hard core raiders are 17-19 year old kids. Our raid is chock full of adults with carreers, families, and lives. However as a generality, most of the hard core raiders are in school and have the time to devote to raiding many days a week for hours on end. Because of this fact, we have a very real issue that crops up around the time school gets out. People go home, they get jobs, they have things to do, or they just enjoy traveling in their free time. Any way you slice it, your raiding corps decreases in size considerablly this time of the year.

As officers, we are forced to deal with this attrition on a yearly basis, and I for one feel that it neve gets any easier. Every year you can prepare a little, hedge your bets a little, or down right recruit too many people so that attrition doesnt hurt you. While there are top end guilds who never have this problem because there is always someone hungry for that raid spot in a guild who has the “Light of Dawn” title, the rest of us are the feeder guilds, the ones who suffer, and the ones who should be planning ahead of time to bolster your rosters to counteract the summer attrition.

How can we fight this phenomenon?

The simplistic answer is ususally the right one, have more people than you need, and when your raiding corps thins out, you can still field raids. Well this is easier said than done, because of the fact that if you maintain a roster which is larger than your raid by a significant ammount, you are going to lose people to lack of play time, feelings of exclusion, and overall dissatisfaction with the guild. The way in which you juggle 30-32 people for 25 spots is an art that few people do well. In order to make everyone feel like they are part of the team, you have to sit people periodically, rotate people in and out, and do a lot more work throughout the day in order to keep people happy.

Wait, you dont do those things? It’s ok, neither do I. If I had to grade myself as a guild manager, I would say that I have earned an A in leadership, an A in communication, a B in decision making, and a D in successorships. Thats right, we at crypt friends are horrible at planning for vacancies. We like things to be normal, consistent, and predictable. What we dont like is rocking the boat, having to make those hard decisions and have those hard conversations which are required to maintain a hard core raid group which will not feel attrition.

What we do is fight fires, we see people leave, and we look for new guildies. What we should do is constantly field new applicants, bring them to the “alt” raid, which should be more of a main raid with some alts in it, and ensure that we never have a night where we sit in the instance and dont have enough people online to play the game we love. Instead, because of the nature of our guild, the casual atmosphere that we promote while providing end game raiding, and the fact that all of our officers dont have every day of the week to dedicate to guild management, raid management, and time online, we have to fight fires.

We recently opened recruiting for all ranged dps, as we lost three hunters, a lock, our boomkin, and a few melee dps. We also lost a tank, but that is another story in and of itself. Because of these losses, and the fact that we were not properly perpared for attrition, we need to fill spots quickly with what we can from the pool of willing players who are looking for a new home.

What can you do to help with the situation?

When you are faced with something like this, a new influx of people if you are lucky enough to have the applicants you are looknig for, you must manage them properly to ensure integration and retention. The biggest problems that you will encounter are one that you can solve and one that you can not. First and foremost, you have to teach them the encounters, what to do, and how you execute fights so that you do not wipe too much. Most of this can be done with mentoring, with class leads so to speak, and a bit of vent communication mid fight. If they are talented and of the caliber which you are looking for to fill your guild, there will be little impact on your clear times, and lack of wipes.

The second and harder thing to do is integrate them into your dkp system. While all dkp systems are flawed in one way or another, some have bigger issues than others. Ours has an inflation issue, Loot councils have issues if the officers are not intelligent, fair, and reasonable, and bidding systems have problems with competition, back handed deals, and artifical inflation. If there was a great system, we would all use it, but there is not.

Gearing up your new recruits is essential to your cause of progression. If you do not gear up your new recruits, then they will not be able to contribute to the raid as much as they should be, and as a result will get carried through an instance. How you do this is the difficult part. In an ideal world, all of your raiders are selfless, not looking for loot as their primary goal, and ensure that the raid as a whole does better. However there is also a loot and scoot worry that one of your new recruits will take three or four pieces of 277 gear and run.

Proper leadership and preparation

All of these issues can not be eliminated, however they can be addressed with the proper preparation, and essential leadership when the time calls. Clear expectations of your new recruits should be set upon entry into your guild. You must tell them what your loot policies, what type of dps you expect them to hold (based off of their current gear), and what type of up front preparation, in game execution, and post game research they should be doing.

If the proper expectations are clear and set at the beginning of their tenure with your guild, they are more likely to perform, or understand when they are not allowed to raid. Set bench marks for your players, and expect them to deliver on said goals. If you can communicate effectively and often with your new players, pretty soon they will be old veterans, and your problems will seem like they were in the distant past….

16
Jun
10

Feedback and Personal Introspection

Performance Evaluation

At work today I was forced to take a good long look at my performance evaluation and my development plan. It was an interesting exercise because it made me reflect on all of the work that I did last year and if I could go back again and do it all over, what I would do differently. The short and sweet answer to that question is not much, but I would tweak a few things here and there for a larger shift in outcome. Why am I talking about my job when I should be talking about tanking? Well, in WoW, as in the real world, you should always look to do better and periodically evaluate yourself to see how you can improve.

This day of introspection at work came a day after I had a long conversation with someone from one of the best alliance guilds on the server, and his explanation of their LK HM wipes. He was talking about their tanks, and when and why they were dying, so I took a look at their armory and noticed that their specs were less than ideal and their gearing was probably a bit off as well. While we discussed their specs, what they should be doing, and why they were probably having issues, I was reminded that these tanks do not like constructive criticism, and that they thought they had it under control (we will come back to this part)….

Get to the point Wrathy!

What I mean by all of this is to ask you all the following question:

When was the last time you evaluated yourself as a player, as a tank, and as a member of your guild?

This is something that most of us do to infrequently. Introspection is a powerful tool in your arsenal, and is something that you should consider employing more often. If you can give yourself mini performance reviews every now and then, you can see where your areas for growth are and bolster said skills to be a better player. While your eyes are probably not as perceptive as a third party viewer, they are probably more critical than your fellow raiders, at least I know mine are.

Introspection is something that will help you improve as a player. While you will more than likely not have the answer to the problem or area for growth you find, you can get that answer from a wealth of knowledge on theory crafting sites and blogs. If you have made it here, you are already well versed enough in the resources that you have at your disposal to look for answers to your specific issues. I know what you are thinking, and I have met plenty of players who think this way, “I am already a great player, I don’t have any room for improvement!”

That is the biggest lie you can ever tell yourself. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. I learn something new every raid, and I try my best to remember it and employ the new found knowledge in order to retain it later on. I have tanked with other players who were too cocky, too naïve, or too sensitive to be able to improve beyond their current limited skill level. The true alpha dogs of the tanking community are always looking to learn something new, and they usually have to butt heads with other big name tanks to get there, however they are trying, looking, and perceiving how they can get better.

So I ask you again

When was the last time you evaluated yourself? For me personally, It was a few months ago (but weeks in play time because of my break). Sometimes you have fallen off the horse and not strove to be better every week and something like threat issues centers you again. I have watched countless videos of tanks from every class and how they approach encounters. You have to see all the angles, and if you can, then you can figure out where you need to improve. I have learned about movement, positioning, camera angle, key bindings, cooldown usage, gear choices, tactics, user interface, preparation, management of other tanks, management of a guild and raid, vent communication, instructing others on strategy, and the list goes on.

Most of this was from looking with in myself to understand how I can be a better player. When I take a look at my last performance in ICC 25 man hard mode, I noticed that there were some areas I was sluggish. Now whether my guild noticed or not is another issue, but I knew, so I had to figure out how to fix it. Some of it was knocking off the dust of a month of absence from raiding, and some of it was tweaking in the way I did things.

As we acquire new members in our guild, I am faced with teaching new people the ins and outs of tanking, paladins, raiding with CF, and our strategies. This forces me to re-evaluate why we do things they way we do, and is a powerful method of finding flaws in design and subsequently correcting them. Teaching others forces us to not only know how to do something, but why we do it. Introspection is basically teaching yourself. As a new member of your guild asks questions as to why you do something a certain way, so should you on a periodic basis. Your explanations will either re-enforce the power of the idea or bring a more critical eye to a flaw.

What should I look at?

So I have convinced you that you should take a closer look at your ability, performance, ideas, and execution, now where do you start looking? Honestly, this is a list that is always changing and always tailored specifically to the person. Different expectations are set for different skill levels, and each skill level will probably want to look at different things. Someone who is new to tanking is not going to want to scrutinize why their guild’s strategy for Professor Putricide is a certain way, that comes later. Conversely, a main tank of an end game guild should probably not have to look at their rotation to ensure that they are using a 969 rotation (I stress the SHOULD). Here are some questions that I have asked myself over my career of tanking. There are many more that I have asked and many more you can, but this is a sample:

  • Is my rotation correct, and are my ability usages optimized?
  • Are my cooldowns being used properly?
  • Am I Keybinding the correct abilities to the right keys?
  • Is my camera angle appropriate for this boss?
  • Do I let my teammates die too often because I didnt taunt?
  • Is my threat good enough for our dps?
  • Am I taking too much damage?
  • Am I using the correct gear make up, enchants, and gems?
  • Am I planned and predictable (aka does your dps know what you are doing, does your healing corps know what you are doing?)
  • Are my abilities and spec right for this boss?
  • Do I employ both predictive and reactive pathing?
  • Have I handed out the correct assignments to my tanks?
  • Am I standing in the correct position for this fight?
  • Is there a better way to (INSERT ANYTHING HERE)?

These are just some of the examples of questions that you can ask yourself to see if you are doing your job right. However there is even more that you can do to improve yourself with in the game. You can ask yourself how you are interacting with your raid members and guild mates. This is a team game, and one that takes 25 people (or 10 people) to play when it comes to raiding. And as such, your interactions, interpersonal skills, communication, team building, and personal and raid wide development are all things that you can work on. But one thing at a time. Start with yourself!

Being receptive to feedback

The nature of feedback cycles is that you do something, you receive feedback and you either do it again or make corrections to obtain the desired outcome. In simpler terms, if you do something good you will like it and do it again, if you do something bad there are consequences and you will not do it again. Feedback is essential to development. I have, too many times, heard of players who are not receptive to feedback, or just plain think they don’t need it. On both accounts, it is their loss, and they are worse in the long run as a result.

Constructive criticism is the most important thing you can receive in a game or in real life. This feedback is some times very hard to accept, and even harder to figure out a solution to, but it is essential to healthy and profitable development. As a tank, if someone tells you that you need to work on something, it is more than likely not because they just want to hurt your feelings, its because you have an area for growth that they are trying to help fix. Now there are those few people, I know my guild has some, who just like to push peoples buttons. Even these people have good ideas, you just have to learn to filter the bantering from the feed back.

The worst thing you can do is ignore it, or think that it is a personal attack when someone gives you feedback. Sure it may not be what you want to hear, but in the end having that tough conversation will help you out and make you a better raider. I have met my fair share of tanks who get annoyed, frustrated, or down right defensive when you provide them with feedback, and in the end they were beat by someone who was not so stubborn, received and interpreted the feedback, and in turn improved beyond the tank who now sits on the bench or is deferred to another guild.

So, with my parting words, there is very real power in incremental improvements which are derived from feedback and introspection. Take some time this week or next week during your raid and ask a few questions of yourself, to make sure that you are really doing the best you can to perform.

19
Feb
10

Attitudes and Elitists

I was inspired by a post on my reader today, and so you get a double post! The Hunter’s Mark had a great post regarding hard core raid leaders, and I wanted to share it and some of my own insights with you. While it was a refreshing sight to see another perspective on my guilds style of raiding, and I have to agree that most hard core raiders are similar to the likes of what he described, you do not have to be that way.

The Knowledge of Leaders

One of the things that THM outlined as a reason behind the hard core raid leaders attitudes was the multitude of responsibilities which he or she juggles. While I agree that leaders in hard core, or progression centered, guilds have a lot on their plate, it is still the personality which decides how to deal with people who are not of like mind. While I am not the dedicated raid leader for our guild, it is still my responsibility as an officer and a Main Tank to understand all of the same things that THM outlined. I know what specs are best, and better yet, I know why they are best. I understand the mechanics of the fights, the group composition which is required for the best results, and the expectations of each classes performance metrics.

This is something that most end game leaders should know. They may not always know these things, but if they dont, there is someone behind them in /officer or a similar channel who does. I would not ever claim to know healing assignments for any given fight in ICC, as they are handled by our healing officers, however I completely understand what type of healers are needed and why. These understandings lead to better encounter progression and quicker kills.

Distractions and Responsibilities

One thing that most people do not see when it comes to raid leaders and officers is the massive amount of information they must process at any given time. While you are pleasantly plugging away with your rotation, watching out for fire, a leader is maintaining rotations, avoiding fires, and watching raiders and their peroformance, all while getting whispers from people out of the instance, out of the guild, and from complete randoms some times. At the same time, they are dealing with calls in vent, raider suggestions, and the constant stream of feedback from officer chat.

These things happen on a daily basis while raiding in a progression guild. If you are the best geared tank on the server, you have tanks from all over whispering you asking you about gearing, spec, glyphs, why this enchant, why that gem, etc. You also may have to be watching the newer recruits and judging their performance.

While most people watch a few vidoes, or even come completely unprepared to new progression encounters, leaders come with a very deep understanding of encounter mechanics, positioning, group composition and and overall strategy already planned out. These things are researched before hand and discussed in forums and in vent. All of this is going on at all times, and they are still topping the meters, or being the best they can be.

Elitists and Attitude

While many elitists and leaders have a lot on their plates, that does not excuse them from having the manners of a descent human being. There is a right way and a wrong way to manage a group of people. The problem with elitists is that you only remember the very bad and the very rare benevolent ones. Your gear does not make you a better person who is above someone else. The Caste system is not part of this game, and you are not entitled to treat people like they are inferior because of your gear or progression.

Just last night I had a random out of the blue whisper from a tank on our server who I had never talked to before in my life. He asked me about my weapon enchant and why I use mongoose. I took about 5 minutes of my time to talk to him, explain his options, and give him some reading material over at MainTankadin. I also explained to him that I have many different weapons for different purposes. I then tried to understand what he was going to use the weapon for and gave him my opinion. He replied with a thank you and a very nice comment that I was much nicer and more helpful than any other tank he had tried to get advice from.

Its the simple things in life. Be kind, and treat others as you want to be treated. We have plenty of people in my guild who do not understand this concept because they are either too young to learn how to deal with people, or they have too big of an internet ego. If you run into these types of people and they are frustrating you, leave. There are plenty of people out there in the game who are just as geared, just as skilled, and have more patience, or compassion to help someone out.

Herding Cats and Bottom Lines

THM compared leading raids to herding cats (or 5 year olds) and he is quite right. It is a juggling act of managing 24 people, each with their own agenda and motivations. This is something which you should think about before you start passing judgement on a leader. Do your goals and motivations align with theirs? If they do not, why is that and is there common ground that you can focus on? In the end you have to understand where the other person is coming from, and if you are willing to put aside the differences of opinions to play a game.

As for the bottom line, I will say that in my personal experience, that is exactly what this game is about to hard core raiders. We are all about the bottom line. You want to spec Beast mastery? Go ahead, just know that you will find yourself kicked from the raid. You want to be a shadow priest, but we gave you a ton of holy gear, tough cookies, your job is to heal and you will do it or we will find someone else who will. This game is about choices, and to progression guilds, the choice is simple, be the best you can or get out of the raid.

If this attitude carries over to a PUG or a 5 man, then there is an issue. This attitude should only be enforced in guild runs where progression is a factor. So, in a PUG, walk away if someone is too elitist, even if it means you dont get that shiny piece of gear you wanted.

/end rant

12
Jan
10

The power of knowledge

Raiding Pains

This past week was an interesting one. First off I had to raid on Sunday on a laptop because I was at my company holiday party and a long ways away from my home desktop. It was amazing how much harder it was for me to see certain things with the blizzard UI. I had to drop my addons down to practically nothing so that my computer could handle the raiding environment. I was getting like 2 fps in ToTGC and that was not going to cut it for Putricide.

In the end, it was a painful night; we had quite a few new people in the raid, so Anub’arak was left up with 45 attempts because people sucked at kiting the spikes. One of our guildies put up a really funny youtube clip on our forums from Austin Powers where the guy dies to a Steam Roller. It basically summed up that encounter. The spikes are slow, and you get a BoP, how hard is it to just run to the patch and stand there. It wasn’t even that the new people were the sole source of bad play. We had people that have been there every week for the kill playing poorly, and there was just no excuse.

After ToTGC, we went into ICC to clear out our putricide attempts, and I am sad to report that the end of my night finished with my raid dead, me alive hacking away at the boss, one attempt remaining on the counter, and Putricide at 2%. Next week folks, next week…

Knowledge is power

On to the bread and butter of what I wanted to talk about today. This is not a topic of discussion that is exclusive to tanks, but it is one that I feel is more important for tanks to understand. So, once again I digress from theory craft, gear discussions, and thoughts of guild management to discuss something that every great player should be doing, but seldom maintain. I am talking about the power of knowledge, more specifically research, preparation, and understanding of mechanics.

We can specifically talk about the mechanics of fights, knowing what is coming so that you can be able to react, and be better for those first few nights of progression. Or, we can talk about a more general discussion of knowledge based off of class abilities, gearing strategies, and understanding of mechanics and statistics. However, in both cases this is what separates a good player from a great one. I know people that can pull 10k dps consistently, or can tank and hold great threat, but if you do not understand gearing philosophy, encounter mechanics, and general strategies, then you are not a great player, because knowing these things could make you that much better.

There are people with in my own guild, casuals, raiders, and officers alike, who do not play at the level that they should because they are not knowledgeable about these things. They think that at the level that we play, you can still log on, hop into a raid and hope for the best. Now while the demand on proper, prior preparation is more essential at the end game progression level for cutting edge guilds, it makes any player who is good, better.

Ignorance is not bliss; the intelligent suffer

Knowledge is the key to success. The more you know, the better prepared you are for the unknown, and the quicker you can react to dynamic conditions. I am astounded at some of our dps for not knowing the mechanics of a fight. I have heard responses such as:

I just have to sit back here and cast my spells, who cares what the boss does.

Now while I am confident in my assessment that this statement and mentality alone is not the reason that this raiders is one of our lowest performing on a daily basis, but the attitude in general is the main contributor to the lack of performance.  If you do not understand the most recent gearing philosophies, rotations of abilities and management of cool downs, then you are wasting the gear that your guild gives to you.

Exceptions to the rule

Now while these thoughts reach those of you who do not need to hear this, and fall on deaf ears to the ones who do, I still feel that it is an important topic to bring up given the push for progression that we are facing over the next few months. Almost everyone who reads this is already well versed in researching abilities, skills, and encounter mechanics. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog or MainTankadin, you would be online, gabbing away in trade chat that you have the highest gear score on your realm, but have 5 points in Divinity and none in judgements of the just.

We are the exceptions; we are the unique snowflakes that shoulder the responsibility and progression of our guilds.  I wanted to talk about this today because I had a conversation with a few of my guild mates that opened my eyes to the fact that even in very progressed guilds, there are people who don’t know their head from their ass. It started with our one of our very best dps talking about armor trinkets and how OP they are on a fight where there is quite a bit of magic damage.

It never dawned on me that people do not have the resources that we do at MainTankadin. The information is out there, but not for most. Tankspot is a great place to go for warrior theory crafting and boss strategies, however I feel that theck and our brain trust at MainTankadin goes a bit further when it comes to analysis.  It took me 15 minutes to explain why he was wrong, explain the new equations for effective health, and the role that armor plays in our damage mitigation.

This lead direction into one of our casuals talking about how much chill of the throne sucks and how he is now the worst tanking class. I almost choked on my drink, because he is a druid. I began to explain to him that he is sorely misinformed and that he is currently playing one of the best tanking classes in the game for progression, and that his effective health is greater than any other class when you take into account cooldowns. This is where it got down right scary (and the true ah-ha! Moment for why I wrote this thread). I started to tell him about the druid T10 four piece set bonus, its uptime percentages, and its ability to mitigate a substantial amount of damage.

He replied: oh, well what is my T10 four piece set bonus? Well that’s just 12% that’s nothing.

For those of you who only play a paladin and missed my discussion on 4 piece set bonuses, here is a link to the blog post where I outlined why druids are king of the mountain when it comes to effective health and being able to take the hits like a champ. This guy didn’t even know what his own set bonus was, or why it was so important, or that he had two stacking cool downs that were both on a 1 minute timer, or that he had a 20% uptime of a 32% damage reduction, making him more powerful at taking a hit than any other tanks in the game.

The moral of the Story

As most of you know, research and discussion of mechanics, abilities, and rotations is important to your ability to play the game to the best of your abilities. What I learned last night is that, while I am a contributor to the paladin tanking community and the blogosphere, where many people may consider me an expert in gearing philosophy and tanking, my own guild was not receiving the same level of information. How can I love teaching complete strangers and not teach my own guild mates. So I leave you with a final thought:

While most people in your guild will probably get tired of your theory and discussion if you are as active in gchat as you are on forums and blogs, the occasional educational session will benefit your guilds greatly.

08
Jan
10

LFM again? You’ve got to be kidding

This is becoming a monthly occurrence

So once again I am back ranting about the same issues over and over again, and it is starting to get me truly frustrated. I got home a bit late on Wednesday for the raid, which was suppose to be either ToTGC for some 258 upgrades and Professor Putricide attempts. Our raid invites go out at 6:15 server and we take on time at 6:30. Well I logged on at 6:30 something, and there were less than 20 people in the raid. I just do not understand how we can go through such a good night of raiding the night before, killing two new bosses on both 10 and 25 man with little effort in the grand scheme of things, then not show up the next day for the real progression encounter.

On top of that, we are once again short people as not one but two of our priests bailed on us. One of them had to leave for school for the second time this expansion. Now while its frustrating, killing Anub’arak and Professor Putricide is no where near as important as your education and real life. When I saw that, from a raiding perspective, it sucked because we just got him completely geared up again and ready for content. However, the other priest to jump ship was a even more frustrating. One of our officers and legendary maces just cryptically said that he doesnt miss the game and wont be coming back after the holiday break.

While everyone is entitled to do what they please with their monthly subscription fee, I personally fell that officers, and people who have received a weapon that truly belongs to the guild have a higher obligation. I personally am losing the motivation to play with our guild, but it is my obligation as a MT to stick it out till at least the expansion pack. I think a lot of people don’t see this. Now beyond the amazing amounts of gear and legendary that we lavished our officer with, he was never much of a active leader, so from that perspective we are ok. The biggest problem with these two leaving is that they were two of our better healers, and we still have more than enough to do the encounters, however not enough to have the flexibility for the hard modes, as well as the attendance on our less stellar days.

Obligations and Exits

This has gotten me to think about how I feel about my role in the guild and the game, and how I would make an exit if my time has come. From my perspective, I already know the day I am going to hang up this game, and it has been predetermined by my loyalty to the 15 people that show up day in and day out. The day that the Expansion shows up, I will exit stage left. I am already longing for that day, as dealing with some of the more colorful characters in my guild is not an enjoyable experience, and I feel that even though we are an exceptional guild, who was in the upper echelons of this game, we are still burdened with the casual attitude of carrying less than stellar players because they have earned it by staying around for a really long time.

There is a small part of me that wants to enjoy the truly hard core, where if you are the bottom of the charts, or the guy who always gets hit by flying spell x, you are kicked and a more willing and eager replacement does a better job. However, my loyalty and conscience keep me from that. I have taken more gear than any raider by a considerable amount, and I am the only truly geared tank with any respectable attendance. This is just not something I can do to the friends I have made in my guild over the past few years.

The fork in the road always leads to recruitment

So here is where I go, once again, as we do every other month. We are going to open up recruitment and try to find another diamond in the rough. We are not a high enough tier of guild where we can just say we want some new priests, and tons of people are willing to server transfer. We have to recruit from with in Destromath. A few months ago we got really lucky. We were in need of another rogue, as a few of ours had school conflicts and were just not meeting the attendance requirements that we wanted. We picked up a friend of one of our best raiders, who was vastly under geared and in his first raid his dps was so so at about 5k dps. In a few short weeks of 100% attendance and a lot of gear, he has moved from close to last on the charts to a 10k plus dps machine. If we could get even one more of those in the priest department we would be set.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining, We are a top 500 guild with the capability of clearing pre nerf content with the best of them, in a very small amount of attempts. But for once I felt like our guild was in a great spot when we left for Christmas, we had 35 people in ever raid when we opened up invites, we got Anub hard mode on farm, ICC was a joke, and we were looking forward to clearing some great content. Now we are back in that place of uncertainty, looking for more, and its just frustrating. We will surely survive, we have for 5 years. We will clear almost all of the content, killing more than most, but not reaching that full potential on the cutting edge.

Professor Putricide

The good doctor is stitting with 10 attempts left on him in both my 10 man and the 25 man main raid. here is to hoping that we can get a raid together for Sunday to give it our best. I honestly think that we can kill him this week if we get our A raid in there. We have stellar dps, You only need one tank for most of the fight, and our healers are great. We have always killed things in a very small number of attempts and this would be no different, we just have to get in there.

Gratz to the few of you who have killed him, and good luck to those of you who are still waiting to for a shot…

04
Dec
09

Four Piece Set Bonuses

I logged on briefly last night to chat it up with the guild and see if any of our newer recruits needed anything, only to talk to one of my friends over whispers about an interesting topic, the four piece set bonus. Now while we had a brief discussion on the merits of the Druid tier 10 four piece set bonus versus the paladin four piece set bonus, the discussion digressed into something that sparked my interest enough to blog about it. Specifically there are some classes where the tier 9 set bonuses are far superior to the T10, and there are some classes where the tier 10 set bonus is just godly. While this shouldn’t really pose that much of a problem for almost all of the guilds in the world, we are sitting on the cusp of the new patch having killed Anub and will only have four to five weeks of kills before we phase out ToTGC and start running ICC hard modes.

Because of the fact that we will have somewhere between 10 and 20 tokens for 258 gear, it is essential that we give them to the right people, and not just the person with the highest dkp. In preparation for the great debate that will ensue over this mini loot council that will take place, I wanted to do some research into the four piece set bonuses and which one is better for each class. Now, it is important to know that the purpose of this is to evaluate the tier 10 251 item level gear with the tier 9 258 item level gear, as everyone will be swapping over by the time we have the normal instance on farm and we are accumulating a good deal of trophies. I for one will be spending my first badges on the trinket, so I am not too concerned with the fallout of not picking up 251 gear. The tanks and their set bonuses are as follows….

Paladin four piece Set bonuses:

T9 – 4 pieces: Decreases the cooldown on your Divine Protection ability and reduces the duration of Forbearance by 30 sec.

T10 – 4 pieces: When you activate Divine Plea, you gain 12% dodge for 10 sec.

Initially, my intuition says that I would love to have 12% dodge for 1/6th of the time, with my current dodge percentage I would be pushing 80% Pure avoidance. However, we all know that Chill of the Throne is coming, and as such, this set bonus is much less attractive than a reduction in our bubble wall. To me, for new content, as long as the fight is longer than five minutes, the T9 set bonus gives you more utility and survival than 12% dodge for 1/6th of the time. Now we will not know this for certain until the patch hits and we can actually see the fights, the amount of magic damage being thrown around, and the amount and frequency of melee hits that we are taking, but I believe that dodge will just not do as much as a flat damage reduction. This leads me to believe that the 258 T9 is superior to the T10 until you have the ability to pick up the 264 gear. Now that does not mean that you couldnt wear all offset gear, and in fact that will more than likely be my road, a max armor / stamina set from all of the bonus armor pieces.

Druid four piece set bonuses:

T9- 4 pieces: Reduces the cooldown on Barkskin by 12 sec and increases the critical strike chance of Rip and Ferocious Bite by 5%.

T10 – 4 pieces: Your Enrage ability no longer decreases your armor and instead decreases all damage taken by 12%, and the periodic damage done by your Rake ability can now be a critical strike.

When you look at these, you can see that there is no contest that the T10 four piece bonus is far superior to its T9 counter part. A 12% decrease in all damage taken every minute coupled with ensuring that you do not decrease your armor value during enrage is huge. This is going to be the most powerful tier 10 tanking bonus. For those of you who do not know anything about druids, and this includes myself, Enrage is on a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: Generates 20 rage, and then generates an additional 10 rage over 10 sec, but reduces base armor by 27% in Bear Form and 16% in Dire Bear Form. So, Druids gain a 12% damage reduction once a minute, couple this with the fact that barkskin also has a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark.  All damage taken is reduced by 20%.  While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays.  This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.  Useable in all forms.  Lasts 12 sec. These abilities can be used in tandem with T10 four piece, and as you can see, just reducing barkskin by 12 seconds is no where near as effective.

Warrior four piece set bonuses:

T9 – 4 pieces: Decreases the cooldown on your Shield Block ability by 10 sec.

T10 – 4 pieces: Your Bloodrage ability no longer costs health to use, and now causes you to absorb damage equal to 20% of your maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.

Warriors are a bit trickier, because of their set bonuses, skills, and scaling of their ability. Shield block is very nice because of the talents that warriors have to give them the chance to critically block. Shield block Increases your chance to block and block value by 100% for 10 sec. This is a very powerful physical mitigation skill, and as it is on a one minute cool down, the T9 four piece brings that down to 1/5th up time you will be mitigating a SIGNIFICANT amount of damage. On the other hand, warriors are the only ones who have a T10 set bonus which scales with the gear. Their bonus will allow them to absorb damage, giving them a mini shield once a minute, which scales with health. This means that the more gear a warrior gets out of Icecrown Citadel, the more their ability will absorb. A typical warrior in full T9 (ilevel 258) is probably sitting at about 56k (don’t quote me), giving them an 11,200 absorb. While this absorb is a one time deal, it works on physical, magical, and bleed damage, making it a very powerful damage mitigator.

Death knight four piece set bonuses:

T9 – 4 pieces: Decreases the cooldown on your Unbreakable Armor, Vampiric Blood, and Bone Shield abilities by 10 sec.

T-10 4 pieces: When you activate Blood Tap, you gain 12% damage reduction from all attacks for 10 sec.

Deathknights also have a more grey distincition between their four piece bonuses. The T9 bonus is very nice in that it reduces their one of their damage mitigation cool downs by 10 seconds, however you have to take a look at these cool downs to understand what relative benefit you get. Unbreakable armor is on a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: Reinforces your armor with a thick coat of ice, increasing your armor by 25% and increasing your Strength by 10% for 20 sec. This can also be enhanced by a major glyph that gives you 30% increased effectiveness. While this is nice, it is a pure armor increase, meaning that it does nothing for magical damage or bleeds, but is a very powerful physical damage mitigation factor. Vampiric Blood is also on a 1 minute cool down and instantly activated, and it gives you: Temporarily grants the Death Knight 15% of maximum health and increases the amount of health generated through spells and effects by 35% for 10 sec.  After the effect expires, the health is lost. This can also be glyphed to increase its duration. Lastly Boneshield is, as we see the pattern forming here, also on a 1 minute cool down and has the following instant ability: The Death Knight is surrounded by 3 whirling bones.  While at least 1 bone remains, <he/she> takes 20% less damage from all sources and deals 2% more damage with all attacks, spells and abilities.  Each damaging attack that lands consumes 1 bone.  Lasts 5 min.

As you can see each of them are specific for a different situation, and most high end dk tanks should have a dual talent spec with two different trees so they can take advantage of these abilities. While 15% health seems to be the nicest, and it can be there for up to 15 seconds, the T10 offers something similar. Blood tap is an instant spell on a one minute cool down that offers the following: Immediately activates a Blood Rune and converts it into a Death Rune for the next 20 sec.  Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune. To me, DKs will also benefit more from the T258 gear and the 4 piece T9 if they are blood, but I am sure gravity can provide more insight into that than I can.

Conclusions

If you are faced with a similar situation as my guild and have to decide where those last few pieces of gear go, this analysis shows us that Paladins and Death knights will be wearing their T9 deeper into ICC than their Druid and Warrior counterparts. So if you have to distribute loot from Anub’arak’s cache and you have a choice between your members and who should get the trophies, Dks over druids, Paladin tanks first, and warriors, well give it to the non tanks.




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