Archive for the ‘Guild’ category

Holiday Raiding Update

December 31, 2008

After a short trip to visit family for Christmas, we were back to raiding Sunday night – not a scheduled thing, but we happened to have the right mix of people around. Those folks who were around earlier in the raid-week had cleared OS-10 and Naxx up through Sapphiron, so we went to work on Kel’Thuzad.

As the final boss in Naxx I expected this to be a brutal fight, but it really wasn’t all that bad. We were a bit melee heavy (there were 5 of us), so dealing with his chaining ice-tombs took some work, but otherwise it just took a few attempts to get the feel of the fight before we had him down. Not an easy fight, as there is a lot of damage being thrown around, but somehow not quite what I was expecting.

With Naxx empty, we headed over to visit Malygos in the Eye of Eternity. Now this is an interesting fight. We saw the first two phases, and most of us were going in cold – I feel bad about that, but in my defense, I didn’t think we’d be raiding at all that night, much less working on Malygos.

Phase 1 wasn’t took bad once I got the feel for moving him aruodn the sparks. We never quite got to stacking the sparks properly, but that shouldn’t be a problem next time around.

Phase 2 was an issue for us because we were so melee stacked. With only two ranged dps, we had trouble getting to the point that our melee could even do anything – something we’ll have to work on going forward.

To be honest, I’m glad that that we didn’t get to Phase 3 because I’d likely have be seriously owned by the flying section. I have since gone and done the Aces High daily a few times, and am very comfortable with it now – but it wouldn’t not have gone well going in blind.

Last night was the start of the new raid-week, and it went relatively well. In just over 3 hours we cleared OS-10 and 3 wings of Naxx. Our cable internet connection started acting in the 3rd wing, and the periodic drops did slow us down quite a bit from that point on. Thursday night I’m expecting that we will knock finish off Naxx and then get some more work on Malygos – which I am very much looking forward to.

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Moving into the new home

December 17, 2008

Last night was another scheduled raid night. Pre-raid we had finished up the admin work of transferring guild leadership over to one of my wife’s alts – and so we were ready to /gquit on our mains and to make the jump to the new guild.

It is really hard to describe, but in the span of five minutes I went from a bit anxious to completely at peace. Perhaps it is because we’ve run with these guys for several weeks, maybe it was the amazingly warm welcome, and the immediate jokes in chat certainly helped – but it somehow felt like coming home again.

The evening’s raid went well. After a bit of a late start, we tried Sartharion (once) with one drake up before deciding to just get our loot and run. Following that we cleared Naxx’s Spider wing and the Plague wing up through Heigan, and which point we had to split. I’m hoping they went ahead and took down Lotheb, because I’d like to get a quick start on the other wings Thursday night.

Anub’Rakhan was ever nice enough to drop me an upgraded tanking ring, which I thoroughly appreciated.

We are still in the honeymoon period- that is certain – but for now at least, I’m very pleased that with the decision.

An Offer Considered

December 10, 2008

Warning:  This is much more of an attempt to organize my thoughts than an actual blog post.  I ramble.  A lot more than usual, even.

Several weeks back I turned down an offer to take a Raid Leader position.  At the time I had recently left my long-time guild, and was already working on the idea of starting up a small raiding guild.

The current guild is doing fine, but we are still small.  We certainly don’t have enough 80s to run 10-mans on our own, and aren’t interested in mass-recruiting in /general or /trade, so we’ve been running raids with another guild over the last week.

Our partner guild has hit the point where they are having to sit their own people to bring us, and while they do need (at least some of ) us, sitting their own guildies is obviously a hard sell.  Following the run last night my wife got a whisper from their GL asking us to join them.

I’d been expecting this, and honestly would have been a bit insulted if they hadn’t at least asked.  My line in Vent was “Ahh, here’s that other shoe.”

I’m not quite sure how I want to respond, but we’ll talk it over tonight.  There are certainly both pro’s and con’s either way – However, I think the decision is going to come down to one thing:  Is it worth doing the ‘work’ of guild leading when there is another option?

We formed our own guild once it became obvious that we didn’t have any great situations to step into, and didn’t feel like spending weeks/months hopping guilds until we found a good fit.  This is a pretty good situation.  They are former hardcore raiders, who seemingly all know what they are doing.  The content we’ve been hitting is admittedly easy, but things have been very smooth.

It isn’t all roses though – they are a bit more raucous that I’m used to.  From what I can tell, my wife would be their only female raider.  Their raid hours will require us to adjust our schedules slightly.

And, to be honest, we wouldn’t be in charge anymore.  Truth told, that is a big part of it.

Question is, is the ‘work’ of running a guild worth the payout?  Can we get more ‘play’ out of our ‘playtime’ by moving?  If so, is it worth it?

I’m not sure.

I’m very much unsure where our other raid leader is on this, and I’m not certain about my wife either.

We’ll talk things over tonight, and try to make a decision.

Running With Strangers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the PuG

December 8, 2008

I’ve talked about how often I’ve been PUG’ing, but I don’t think that I’ve mentioned how much of a change this is.

As my wife and I leveled our current Mains (Warrior/Priest) to 60 I don’t think we grouped up more than a handful of times, and I certainly don’t remember running any instances.

We played a bit at 60, and in BC we ran the leveling instances – but only a few of those were PUGs, and for those we waited until we were already at the upper-end of the level range. All this is hardly surprising. We had little experience in instances, weren’t super confident, and it was just easier to not deal with it. I’ve since found out just how common this is – many many people talk about nervousness in groups. Looking back it seems silly, and this reticence over grouping did gradually fade on the trip to 70. By the time I was working to get my Karazhan key grouping was no longer stressful, and as we worked to gear the guild up for our first trip to visit Attumen I preferred it to any other form of play.

At level 70, much of my playtime was spent in 5, 10, or 25 man groups. However, I still almost always grouped with guild members or, at worst, the occasional friend of a friend or an ex-guildie. Using trade chat (or /lfm) evoked images of ninjas, large repair bills, wasted hours, and spoiled little foul mouthed children. Why would I want to deal with that? As a tank (with a pocket healer) it was trivially easy to find a few dps – in fact, I often had to remind myself to ‘share’ the invites so that everyone got a few runs with us. The world of instances, heroics, and raids had opened up, but I was still completely closed off to the majority of the actual people playing the game around me.

This past summer, I got hit by burnout and eventually left the guild that had been my home for 18 months. I came back to WoW not through the live servers, but through the Wrath Beta. My wife and I got in the beta early, long before any of our friends made it in, so if we wanted to run instances we PUG’d. Most beta players were experienced raiders, and the runs were generally smooth.

When we got back to the live servers and we wanted to hit the heroics one final time, it seemed only natural that we’d use /lfm to grab a few more. We weren’t guilded at the time, so it’s not like we had a ton of options, but by that point I didn’t even think about it being a problem. Somewhere along the way I’d misplaced my stigma over PUGs.

Truth told, I’m not sure that I have even ever been in the type of pick up group that I’d long feared. In dozens of runs over the last few months – Beta and Live, Outland and Northrend – I’ve come across one single player that earned a kick from the group and a place on my /ignore list (normally reserved for the most severe trade channel morons.) Sure, we came across some unskilled players, several with shocking low dps, or those lacking even basic grouping skills – but with that one exception – no one that ruined the run. Even the least skilled of the players were consistently willing to listen to suggestions, and were typically the most grateful for a run that had gone so well.

This brings us to Heroics at level 80. These days I am checking people on the Armory before I invite, but that is because the gear requirements a still very real. In our heroic runs, we’ve not had any troublemakers, and I’ve been blessed by meeting some great people.

A Retadin, who had the gear and skills to show he’d been in more than a few heroic runs, recently started started asking questions about our guild. His guild, a group of formerly hardcore raiders, were looking to start 10-mans but are a couple short. Could we see about setting up a joint run sometime?

We’ve talked a few times over the past week and went in Thursday night. It went great. Bosses died, loot was distributed, and -best of all- both groups got along great.

The details of future runs are still being worked out (by the respective guild leaders, so I’m just advising) – but things look promising. I don’t expect that this arrangement will last very long, they have several more on their way to 80 and won’t long need our help – but this does get all of us into raids earlier than we could manage separately.

I expect that in a few weeks we will find ourselves looking to raid on our own, and will probably still need to fill a few spots from outside the guild. We are actively working towards being able to make that happen, but for now, I’m enjoying the idea that we can get back into raiding without having to force our guild to grow to quickly.

First Wrath Raid Night

December 5, 2008

Thursady night – my last night of play before some travel this weekend – we joined our first WotLK 10-man raid. This was a joint effort with another guild, since both guilds are relatively new and a bit short on people.

We had planned to hit the Wintergrasp Raid to start, but Alliance wasn’t able to get back control of the zone earlier in the evening. Instead we started with the Obsidian Sanctum. Going in, several of us had watched the Tankspot video on Sartharion – so we more or less knew what to expect for the actual boss fight.

The trash was reasonably simple, but the drakes were interesting. I was the best geared tank , so I did the main tanking for the evening – that meant that I stayed out with the Drakes while the rest of the raid (sans my Holy Priest wife) hopped back and forth through portals and dealt with adds/eggs in there.  On a future run I will have to swap roles, since the phasing does seem like a cool mechanic. Only the middle drake caused any inconvenience, and that was only his taking an annoyingly long time to die.

Before engaging Sartharion, we had sent two people out to the summoning stone when the Northrend World Server started acting flaky. After several minutes those of us still in the instance finally saw our friends lists all go offline. Once the server got around to coming back up, everyone logged back in and we got to buisiness.

Sartharion is a fun fight, but it is not difficult – at least not when you leave zero drakes up. The Tankspot video covers it perfectly, and we didn’t have any deaths until the very very end when a few dps ignored the a flame wall trying to get just one more hit to finish her off. Silly deaths, but the fight was over at that point.

With OS-10 cleared, we decided to head into Naxx-10. Going through the Spider Wing we cleared through all three bosses there with little trouble – A total of 3 wipes across the 3 bosses, with the 2nd boss being one-shot. All the failed attempts were simply the healers and myself getting coordinated on damage spikes and silences – and once we got the patterns down they felt reasonably tuned.

I say reasonably tuned – as in, a fair challenge for a good group of newish level 80s. This is not Karazhan – at least not as Karazhan started. Karazhan was a mistake, and was far too difficult for it’s place in the raid progression.

I would suggest that Heroic Nexus and Utgarde Keep are a fair test for for Sartharion and early Naxx, with the harder heroics (Loken, I’m looking glaring at you) being more of a challenge than anything we did last night.

However, we did have a group of experience raiders. We did not loose people early in fights, and the healing was well coordinated – that really makes a big difference, and likely partially accounts for the ease of the run.

In all, I had a great time. I walked away with a new bag, while my wife got her T7 gloves and an offhand (she initially passed, and finally took it to avoid it becoming a shard). I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed raiding, and think that Blizzard has done an amazing job out of the gate.  Plans are already being made for another joint run next week – not a long term solution, but something that certainly is working out now.

After the Long Weekend

December 1, 2008

Not much playtime over the long weekend, but Saturday evening we did manage to squeeze in a few runs.  Knocked out the Heroic versions Gun’drak and Violet Hold, and ran a quick CoT: Strat on normal.

The heroics are starting to feel easier too.  The first trip into Violet Hold was rough, but the more recent ones – even with horrible luck on which bosses we get – have gone much better.  The Tanking/Healing still requires coordination, but we are now consistently one-shotting the place.  Our first trip into Utgarde Keep was extremely easy (though, have a mage and two retadins provided a crazy amount of CC), and Gun’Drak was completed with only a single wipe on the first boss.

A few days back we tried Heroic CoT, and decided to reset it back to normal mode after a few trash wipes.  We were able to get the first boss down with no problems, but I was just taking a bit too much damage on some of the large trash packs.  Just a few days later I’ve grabbed a few upgrades, and am looking forward to trying the place again.

Otherwise, the guild is growing, albeit very slowly.  That is not a bad thing though, at least not yet.  A friend from our former guild who had been going it alone for while has decided to join us, he’ll have his first 80 within a few days.

I am starting to look towards Naxx though.  As things stand we certainly aren’t going to field a guild-only run, so we are now trying to decide how to proceed.  We could start spamming out recruiting notices, and could certainly bring in bodies that way – but I’m not enthusiastic about that method.  My preference is to continue to slowly expand, only bringing in really solid people, and to rely on friends lists to fill out our runs. The benefit of pugging a few spots in most of our runs is that I’m building up a good list of people that I know and trust.  In fact, lately, I’ve had to force myself to bring the occasional stranger, just to meet new people.

Finally, Andrea from the Tank Like a Girl Blog was kind enough to link to my blog over the long weekend.  I tend to presume that anyone who has managed to stumble across my little site already reads ‘The Warrior/Tanking Blogs’ – those that best cover the role – but if you don’t regularly check out Andrea’s site, you certainly should.

Feeling Heroic

November 27, 2008

Tuesday evening we started with trips into CoT:Strat and Halls of Lightning (wherein Lokin was a jerk and didn’t drop me anything), both runs were quite successful – so we decided to push our luck by venturing into our first heroic. We chose Violet Hold – the plan being that we could see which mini-boss we started with, and get a feel for just how bad things were going to be.

Of the six possible mini-bosses, I’d classified three as ‘preferred’, and three as ‘not so much’. The opening trash waves were not as bad as I’d expected, so we were quickly to the first mini-boss – and we got one of the bad ones. Of course.

It was the Water Elemental – which I’d actually listed as #1 on my ‘do-not-want’ list. /sigh

The problem with him is the knockback. Healer knockback + tank knockback = bad times. The first attempt I pulled him up the stairs to the starting platform – logic being that most of the adds would need to funnel up the stairs to us, and that the enclosed space would help manage the knockbacks. We get him nearly to his enrage that time, before I he dropped me.

Try 2. Re-clear the first 5 waves. The idea came up to tank him down on the floor, so there might be better healer-to-dps LoS. We ended up wiping quickly though, with knockback and positioning problems.

Try 3. I told the group I wanted another shot at him, and everyone was fine with that. Trash waves down, I brought him back up to the door. The healing, I’m told, was very hectic – but we made it to he enrage with just one DPS down and finished the fight off pretty smoothly. Woot! A quick celebration, a resurrection, and just as we started sorting out loot the next portal was open.

The second group of waves came a bit faster, but were manageable. Then out comes the second mini-boss, the Beholder, which I’d had on my ‘good’ list. He puts out a lot of simultaneous damage on the tank, and one other party member. We got him down first try, but lost our healer before the end. This is where to bad news came in. Unlike Black Morass, you can’t run back into Violet Hold if you die. Think about that. With no way to rez our healer, we just waited for the next wave to slaughter us and ran back in.

At this point, we were told that the bosses aren’t replaced with a trash wave when you re-clear – that you have to take them again. With no loot. This seemed so stupid, that I had a hard time believing it. Enough so that I talked to group into letting me see it happen. And it did.

Reclearing all the trash, and the bosses again is certainly annoying. However, the earlier practice seemed to have helped, and we got both both mini-bosses down with only minor problems. The final set of portal waves were quick, but we kept up. The final boss was no a push-over – healer mana was gone by the end, leaving me dead to a DoT just after the boss dropped – but was probably the easiest of the boss fights.

Imagine our surprise as we got two Achievements for the run. The expected Heroic: The Violet Hold, but also Defenseless. Seems that we never thought to use the emergency crystals. Huh. Odd that.

All told, it took about 90 minutes, gave us out first Emblem of Heroism, and let us see our first level 80 epic drop – though that went to a non-guildie (well, she’s not *yet* in the guild. We’ll see..)

For a test run, where we got non-optimal mini-bosses, I’m pretty pleased. Heroics are certainly not trivial, in fact this was the first real challenge I’ve seen in Wrath, but I’m looking forward to going back.