Monthly Archives: October 2009

Channeling His Spirit

September 16, 2007, Robert Jordan passed away from a terminal illness. I had to pick up the phone and call my mother and tell her Robert Jordan had died. It was one of the saddest phone calls I have ever had to make. I felt sad and bereft. I spent the next week moping about and crying at odd times when I looked at the bookshelves in my apartment. My husband was horribly confused.

You see, I had never even met Robert Jordan.

He is most well known for his exceptionally long running and long winded series The Wheel of Time. At the time of his death, he was working on the twelfth and final book, A Memory of Light. For the next few months I lived with the knowledge that one of my favorite authors had died, without completing his series. A series I had read from beginning to end over 10 times from 2001 to the present. 8429 pages worth of fantasy at its best. I even had multiple World of Warcraft characters named after obscure characters in his books.

Harriet, Jordan’s wife, promised his fans she would find someone to take the reams of notes and all of the information he dictated before he died and have the series completed. But how could she find someone who could possibly hope to fill Jordan’s shoes? In December of 2007 it was announced she had chosen Brandon Sanderson to complete the series. At first I was heartsick. I had never even heard of Brandon Sanderson. I went and purchased his first novel, Elantris. After completing the book, in a single sitting I might add, I no longer felt worried. If he pulled off Book 12 at the same quality of Elantris, it would be good enough to handle, if just to know what happened.

Last Tuesday, The Gathering Storm was published. This is the first part of the final book, which had grown too large to print in a single volume. I acquired it immediately and sat down to read, apprehensive of how it would feel.

Now, 600+ pages into the book, I am certain that not only was Brandon Sanderson the right choice, he is perhaps the perfect choice. In 600+ pages I have only had a few small moments where something was worded a certain way, or character dialogue was written in such a manner that it felt “different” from Jordan. Not bad different, that is to say, most of the time I noticed it was after laughing out loud at the quick witted response of a character and thinking, they have never done that before. But for the majority, it still feels like Jordan is holding the pen. Maybe with a different editor, but still him. Brandon Sanderson said he wouldn’t try to write in Jordan’s style, but rather would write in his own voice and tell Jordan’s story, but to this I say he mostly failed. Either that or he is channeling Jordan’s spirit. In which case I say thank you, both to Sanderson for being so diligent and exceptional, and Jordan for letting him.

Tank, Heals, or DPS.

Just recently I entered the newest chapter of the saga that WoW has been for the last 4 years of my life. I transferred severs, and factions, to join a group of friends and in doing so brought my tank to a place where she was not only needed but welcome.

When I first raided, I raided as a warlock. I was a die hard fan of affliction and yet, bowing to guild pressure, became a shadowbolt spammer in Burning Crusade. At 80, I returned to affliction only to be disappointed that I had to work ten times as hard to achieve the same goals. After a time I decided I had hit the cap as far as a Warlock was concerned and looked to changing over to a new class. I had acquired my second account by this point and so set about leveling to 80 with a shiny new Death Knight and Priest duo. The Priest simply followed while my Death Knight ripped everything to shreds. It was quite simple, after all the DK was more than over powered and only required the occasional heal. Once the duo reached 80 I entered the wonderful world of raid healing with my Priest. So this is the point where I feel I am finally able to outline the differences between the three roles.

DPS is very simple. Target the tank. Target what the tank has targeted. Kill it. With a few exceptions or special case fights where you attack other things, for the most part this is how you raid. Stay out of bad stuff and kill the big thing. Specs, rotations and cooldowns aside, you generally use a select few of your major class skills and kill whatever it is that needs killing.

Healing is much harder. You have 25 targets and have to keep all the green bars as far to the right as possible. To be fair, it is a very difficult thing to do and requires a great deal of concentration. But for the most part it is whack-a-mole, especially in a large raid setting. In Dungeons it is a bit easier, with only 5 moles to worry about, most focused on a single player. If people die, you get blamed. However, I have noticed, healers as a whole get blamed, generally not a specific healer. It could be a dozen problems, most likely a squishy DPS pulled aggro or the tank is trying to tank in the wrong presence/stance/spec/gear, etc.

But of the three roles, I have found tanking to be the hardest, most stressful, and least enjoyable.

First, my gear is focused on Defense, so I can never do anything “awesome”. I don’t kill things quickly, I don’t have huge crits. Second, my repair bills are outrageous. DPS and Heals can avoid being hit and thus their gear lasts longer between repairs. After 3 heroics I have a 40g repair bill, without deaths. Third, it is apparently my job to save the stupid idiot who didn’t watch where he was going and aggroed a second group. These are very similar to the DPS who are so focused on being the top of the charts that they ignore the threat they are producing. The worst of these will blame me for *not* producing enough threat, even though they have top tier gear and I have gear two levels below them. If I die, the healer isn’t blamed, I am.

It really comes down to the fact that DPS can hide in a group of 15 (or more) other people, Healers can hide in a group of 8 (or more), but Tanks… well there is usually only one main tank and one off tank. You have your roles and if you fail, regardless of reason, you have 24 people who blame you. All the focus is on you. No pressure.

Help me Help you.

Yet another WoW post based off my most recent experience in learning to Tank.

1. Omen is my friend. It is also your friend. Keep your friend close.
A good dps does great damage. A great DPS does good damage and keeps his threat below the tank’s.
You could out gear me, I could have missed or been parried, they could have resisted, regardless I need to worry about rotations and building threat. Not chasing a mob across a room because you couldn’t be bothered to watch a threat meter or listen to the loud crashing noise saying you are about to take threat. And before you say anything, I played a Warlock when they had 6 dots to track. Your job as DPS is to do damage, stay out of bad stuff, and not pull aggro. My job is to build threat, stay out of bad stuff, and focus on the 3 cooldowns and other special abilities I might need to keep the boss focused on me.

2. Speaking of running across the room…
If you do draw aggro run TOWARDS the tank, not away. My taunt has a 20 yd range. That is smaller than the range at which you can ranged attack the boss. I know when something big runs towards you it can be scary. Consider me your blanky. Cuddle me close when you are scared.

3. 3 Second Rule.
Healers have a 5 second rule. Tanks have a 3 second rule. If you are leading with a nasty spell that might crit for 15k, wait and cast it at a time that it doesn’t land on the boss until the tank has had 3 seconds. If it is a DK or Pally tank and there are multiple mobs, wait 3 seconds regardless. They need the time to build enough aggro to protect you from pulling it if you crit.

4. Speaking of DKs and AoE
I am a DK tank. Priests love me because I love the bubble. However if there are more than 2 guys you have to wait for me to drop Death and Decay (the big red circle thing) and give it 2 tics before blasting away with your AoE. If you are a DK, don’t drop your death and decay until after you have seen me do Pestilence. Unless you feel like tanking.

5. How I generate threat:
As a DK tank I generate threat in three major ways:
Death and Decay: this generates an insane amount of threat for me. Do not cast your consecrate or death and decay in the same spot at the start of the fight unless you want to tank with me. If you don’t see it go down, be worried, it means something got missed and I won’t be building threat as quickly.
Rune Strike: this is actually my bread and butter. It generates a huge amount of threat on any one target. Problem – I can only use it if I parry them. (This is also why you might notice me leaning towards a balanced parry/dodge number.)
Damage: as a Frost tank I get some nice survivability in the form of three cooldowns that increase my armor and decrease my damage. I also get a great skill that increases the threat off my frost spells. What does this mean? Strength is just as important as Stamina to me. High damage is important because it means high threat. Guys who resist or are immune to water/frost damage… they are going to be a problem, hold off with the 15k crits until you see the black lines flow between the mobs. This means I have Pestilence and they all have dots from me ticking away on them now.

RNG – Why Random *Isn't* Fun

I have always made comments that the Random Number Generator (RNG) hates me. I love DKP systems as they mean I don’t have to rely on the RNG to get items I need and want. This brings me to the first “Bad Designer – No Twinkie!” moment I had when playing a game like World of Warcraft. Random is not fun.

You and four other players have valiantly battled to the end of a dungeon and slain the evil dude. And he drops… a rather nice piece of plate gear… for the three clothies, one leather, and one mail wearer. It’s like getting a birthday cake with that nasty red icing. Or even worse, your grandmother gets the sugar free variety. Yuck. It is a random loot table with drop percentages that are not weighted or adjusted in any way.

What does it matter? You can run the dungeon again. Well not always. In WoW the best gear drops from raids that have 1 week lock outs. I have on more than one occasion watched a player run the same raid every week for *months* waiting for a single item to drop. It is like rooting for the underdog sports team. After time it becomes the entire guild’s crusade. No one would even think of rolling on that item if the player was in the raid. It becomes the unspoken rule. If the watch drops, Brutality gets it. Period. The sad truth is, he never got it. It always seemed to drop when he wasn’t in the raid. And we would give it to someone and say, “If you tell him you got it, we’re going to hack your account and shard it.” All the other purples he acquired during his raiding days were insignificant once he had spend months working towards a single item he never got. All his memories of Karazhan are replaced with a sense of disappointment and loathing because of a single item.

Blizzard has gone some lengths to fix this, like using armor tokens for tier drops so that fewer items go to waste, but it is hilariously funny to have 2 warlock/mage/hunter tokens drop and only have one player who can take it.

Hatred of the RNG has never been greater though since Blizzard introduced the Achievement system. There are dozens of achievements that can only be won through sheer dumb luck. The most frustrating of these are tied to the meta achievement: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been. Essentially it says “Participate in every holiday and get an awesome mount.” How awesome is the mount. Well it is a 310% speed mount as opposed to a 280% speed mount. It goes faster. Alot faster. Previously the only way to get one was to be a hardcore raider or a hardcore pvper. Now you can get one for being a hardcore… casual player, as silly as that sounds.

I loved this idea, on principle when I first saw it. A way to reward casual players for participating in holidays. What Fun! Until I saw some of the achievements. Many require you to be max level. Well, okay, you really can’t use a flying mount before 60, and they should include things that require all three expansions, but forcing players to do Heroic Dungeons? Those can be rough for casual players. Capping flags in EotS or capturing a location in AV? Really rough for non-pvpers. But you have two weeks to do these achievements and usually the first day is so filled with the people anyway you can wing it and be okay.

Then comes the sheer dumb luck achievements.
Toothpick – For the Halloween achievement you are required to get a toothpick from an innkeeper as part of the trick or treat, which you can only do once an hour. Doesn’t sound hard does it? Well my first year I trick or treated like mad to try and get all the masks. Every hour on the hour while I was awake, even at work. I got the tooth pick exactly once. After 2 weeks of trick or treating? I got mine early so I really didn’t think about it until someone is my guild was practically in tears because that was all they needed. And they had been getting up every hour of the night to trick or treat.
Roses – Not only does this achievement to get a bouquet of roses require you to run dungeons, but to do so until you get the bouquet! Which might require running them 10 or 15 times! Luckily they drop 100% from certain bosses, but still you could have a bad run of rolls. For most people it is a matter of begging others in their guild who already have it to run with them.
Sinister Calling – Another Halloween one. Originally both items only dropped from the Headless Horseman and both had low drop rates, then they hotfixed it so that both would drop from treat bags as well. Unfortunately those bags only drop about 60% of the time. The rest of the time it is costumes or tricks. Even if it is a bag it can be candy, a wand, a toothpick, or any one of the 20 masks. Needless to say this one is worse than most because even farming the Headless Horseman and getting bags every hour you could statically miss out on your mount because of the RNG.
Be Mine!RNG strikes TWICE! That’s right. This Valentines achievement was the first one I thought I might not get. Originally, when I got it, it required you to get all the candy hearts. First you have to RNG to get the treat bag, as opposed to the pet, basket, candy, dress, arrows, rockets, or rose petals. But just getting the bag wasn’t enough, you had to draw the right candy from the bag. You can only get the gift once an hour, just like trick or treating. Oh right, and you only have 4 DAYS to do it.
Now according to WoWhead and the other sites the Lovely Black Dress and Peddlefeet pet both had lower drop rates than the bag of candies, such that they removed the Lovely Black Dress requirement from the Meta Achievement because it was “too rare”. By Saturday evening of the event, I had not yet gotten my *first* bag of candies, but I had gotten 4 dresses and two pets. I proceeded to do the unthinkable. I set my alarm for 55 minutes and work up every hour that night to try and get the bag of candies. No luck. Sunday, now into the third day of the event, sleep deprived and frantic, I did not leave my computer for more than 20 minutes, activating the gift every chance I got. I got one bag and 6 of the candies, but remember at the time I needed all 8. So here we go, into Sunday night. Now you imagine explaining to your raid leader why you *have* to hearth back to get a gift. In the mid of the raid I got my second candy bag, but all 10 charges only yielded one new candy. The event only had 6 more hours. I was literally crying on vent about how horrible I felt. I was exhausted and my raid leader stopped giving me a hard time about going back. In fact he called a break on the next hour. Several members of the raid who had their Love Fool title switched them to something else. Everyone felt the pressure and depression of what was supposed to be a fun game, with fun achievements turning sour because of one person’s bad luck. You can’t trade candies so the people who had extra bags couldn’t help, but just had to watch me suffer through the pain of wanting this one stupid candy. By 2 am I was mad. I was exhausted, having just spent my weekend, instead of resting, logging on every hour for some stupid RANDOM achievement. Oh and I wasn’t the only one. The forums were full of other players in the same boat. One stinking candy away from a violet proto-drake. At 3am, with only 2 charges after the one I was about to activate my husband came out of the bedroom and asked me if I got it. I said not yet, and if I didn’t he was to take my accounts, change my password and delete all the characters. I got my gift, and there was a bag of candy. The very first charge dropped the candy I needed and I got my achievement. Then I logged off and didn’t play again for 2 weeks. It took me 2 weeks to get over what this stupid RNG had done. Oh and my count of dresses was 17 and 9 Peddlefeets.

Random isn’t fun. Playing the game is fun. Leveling is fun, getting new gear is fun, getting crazy achievements is fun. Not fun – spending a weekend trying to get one stupid item. Esp. considering it is supposed to be the casual achievements. Even now that I have the achievement, and even the mount, I think the RNG achievements are horribly unfair. At least give the player some form of “grinding” towards it. Brewfest has tokens, why not have Valentine’s tokens? If you are lucky, you get the drop from the innkeeper, if not, you spend 75% of the holiday farming the tokens and get the achievement anyway. You still participated. You still deserve the achievement. Weight the drops appropriately. In the end they adjusted the achievement, but it doesn’t help much to those people who lost a weekend to it. Remove the randomness, make it achievable through perseverance and you will make a great number of people happy.

Guild Etiquette Part 6: I can haz Purplz?

And finally it comes down to it. Epics. why do we raid? Epics. Why do we grind? Epics. What causes the MOST drama in WoW? Epics. (To be fair, Legendary counts here too, but there are so few and they are so hard to get, most of us are in it for the Purple, not Orange.)

Purples, lovely purple colored names that shout our awesomeness to the world. Lovely gear that is usually better looking than the average hodgepodge of blues and greens that make you look like rainbow barf. The look, the stats, the item level, these are the reasons we love purples.

Loot distribution is a variable thing. it is different depending on if you are in a PUG, 5 man all the way up to 25 man and changes depending on the “status” of a raid and the make-up.

1. People you don’t know.
If you have PUGed anyone not in the guild and or “normal” run group you have to do several things right up front. First off, make sure the loot rules are clear. Second make sure they still have a chance of loot, or else they are going to leave.

Good Compromise: In 5 mans I generally set the “loot rules” to: A. Roll Need if you are going to put it on now and/or as soon as you gem/enchant it (main spec). B. Roll Greed for Off Spec and “flavor” stuff, but err to people who are going to use it. I may want said polearm to level my polearm skill with a good weapon instead of a sucky one, but I shouldn’t take it away from someone who will use it as their main weapon for a DPS spec. C. No one is gonna need anything. With ToC this is more and more true. Here we just roll greed on everything. You can sell it, or if there is an enchanter you can hand it to them if they agree to disenchant it for you.

25 mans are a bit different. If you get a good 25 man pug rolling, first you are awesome, congrats, but it can also be a loot headache. A. Need for On Spec. B. Greed for Off Spec. (When considering dual specs you lean towards their “standard” main spec. So if someone is usually a Shadow Priest, they should Need dps gear not healing, regardless of what they are doing for your raid.) C. BoE items – Everyone Greeds. D. If you get an item, your name goes on the RL’s List. You can’t roll again until everyone else in your “armor class” set gets something. This requires a Keeper of the List who can quickly identify the 4 roles (Tank, Heal, Ranged DPS, Melee DPS) and how they apply to the various armor classes (Plate, Mail, Leather, Cloth, All). They group everyone together and then keep track. This also means raiders will wait to roll on a good upgrade over small ones. E. Tier Tokens are exempt. Everyone rolls on a tier token if they can use it. F. If it isn’t claimed (wtf? how did this happen) it gets dis-enchanted and the shard is /rolled for, just like BoE items.

2. Guild Runs:
5 mans – Loot Council and Roll Offs. Aren’t we glad we can trade? Fortunately we can hand off gear easily now. 5 mans are usually either only one player can use it, or very easy to loot council. Loot Council is the act of deciding who can use something more, or one person expressing a great need and everyone else passing. The only trick is, as a guild run, you really should consider passing all de items to the enchanter and then letting them keep any dream shards. Roll for Abyssal, but they use the dream to buy new enchants, unless your enchanter has them all.

25 Mans… And now everything changes.
First off, when something isn’t taken it should be dis enchanted and the mats sold by a trustworthy guild officer to fund guild progression repairs.

What is the reason behind the majority of your guild’s desire to raid? Progression or Purples? If it is progression then you will likely find a mix of DKP and Loot Council to your liking. DKP allows for players to get the specific items they want. This may fill an immediate need or complete a set. If using a zero sum system it also ensures that the only way someone can get exceptionally ahead of other guild members is to not get anything and raid an exceptionally long time. Which logically means they *should* get whatever they want. Loot Council allows a group to decide where the item can do the most good. Gearing the main tank and a spare, gearing the healers, etc first is a form of Loot Council. This can have two drawbacks though. One, there are no backups for these slots that can even hope to fill the void. If the main tank soaks up all the gear then there are no replacements for when real life gets in the way. Two, the people who get this attention tend to burn out faster. They have to be present for a raid to happen. They get all their gear quickly so they lose interest in the raid quicker. If your guild is just farming content, then go with rolls or DKP. This assures the widest distribution of purples among your raiders.

DKP systems:
DKP is a numerical way of tracking who should get the next item. DKP systems are wide an varied. A good system should follow these rules:
1. Easy to understand. If a person looking at your guild wants to know how long they are going to be waiting on gear it is good to tell them up front. This prevent disappointment later.
2. Obvious. When the spiffy sword of uber-awesomeness drops, everyone should be able to tell, without having the loot master explain, who is going to get the item.
3. No one gets too far ahead. No way to “bank” points. There are two things that cause someone to get ahead in DKP. One, they raid every single raid and then some. These people manage to get into pug raids and just badges to get what they need. By the time the guild is getting it, they already have it. To be fair though, these people are working twice as hard and putting into the raid without taking anything away, so they should have a ton of DKP. Two, Horders. These are the players you have to watch out for. They won’t bid on items they clearly need to save dkp for bis items. How to combat them? Well it depends on your guild personality. A view I have seen taken was the GM taking the person aside and explaining that if they didn’t start upgrading their gear they wouldn’t we welcomed back to a raid. Letting an item get sharded because you want one specific uber item and then getting all your other upgrades while everyone else is just passing because they don’t need it is just underhanded.
4. Timers. There needs to be a time limit on the DKP earned. Use it or lose it. 6 months seems to be a wide range for this. After 6 months purchases no longer count against you and earned points are removed.
5. Need is free. Hybrid classes make your raid flexible. Dual Specs do even further. But building three sets of gear instead of just one? Yeah it sucks. By allowing players to need on things for offspec they can gear with items that would otherwise get sharded. Off and Dual Specs. There isn’t a great solution but one is to have your raiders register a main and off spec. They can change this setup with permission of the raid leader. This way they have to bid on certain items and can need on others.
6. Character specific *not* account specific. Why? Should the Raid Leader be able to build 2 months worth of DKP then bring his alt with greens and blues to a raid and get the uber-sword? That’s why DKP needs to be limited to toons not accounts. Also it means if you need an alt toon (switching a dps for heals for example) it doesn’t gimp the main toon to gear the alt.

What happens when something goes from Progression to Farm?
1. It depends on the make up of the raid. If more than 50% of purples are still going on players main spec and not to off spec or shard, it is still progression for that group, even if it is easy.
2. Once it is farm, let people still spend DKP if they want. Ever wanted something with a low drop rate? You know what I am talking about here. Even on farm these are contested items. Let people spend their DKP if they wish.
3. Alts begin to come out of the woodwork. Ever been on a farm raid that wipes due to low dps? Your alt percentage is too high. Run some ToC or 10s real quick on an off night to help with this, but ensure enough high level players are willing to assist to help with this.

Final words:
It needs to be fun for everyone. It needs to be fair, or at least quantifiable for everyone.
More drama happens from loot than any other. It is going to happen and not always be fair or friendly. Remember those bosses will drop that loot again.
Is it worth it to lose your guild and friends over a piece of gear you are likely to see again? Worth it to eventually not want to play WoW because of the loss of the people who make this game fun?
Don’t be a douchebag.

Guild Etiquette Part 5: Who Gets to Go

Raids are the pinnacle of difficulty in WoW. They are the place where you get the best achievements and the place you get the best loot. Every raiding guild has one goal. Get raiders and kick the crap out of whatever big nasty is the biggest nasty.

As sometimes happens, you can have too much of a good thing. So what do you do when you have 30 raiders show up to a 25 man raid?

Step 1: Is it progression or farm night?
This first question is required for determining who should be in your raid. Progression means you want your best raiders, most prepared, and best geared. If it is a farm night, usually you want to make sure your worst geared players get to go, but hang on to a core good group so it is still easy.

Step 2: It’s Progression.
Sort out the required people first. Tanks, Heals, Buffs. Obviously you need your main and off tanks. Any extra tanks are told to switch to DPS. Tank healers, Raid aoe healers, and then fill in to the “max” number of healers needed, all else switch to dps. Remember with heals once you have your well geared tank heals, all other healers need to be spread out among the healing classes for maximum buff coverage while making sure to err on the side of aoe raid heals. Any remaining heals, switch to DPS. Now you have your vital people. time to whittle down the DPS. First pull your required buff classes that you haven’t already gotten. Ones to watch out for: Warlocks with CoE or Boomkins. Shadow Priests with the +hit buff. Paladins, Hunters, Priests with replenishment. Once you have all these filled out, now you go for your big guns. Big guns are people who consistently top the DPS charts, listen well, and always come prepared. Fill in remaining holes with people who are consistently good at raiding.

Step 2: It’s Farm.
First set aside your tank and heals. Now, ask if anyone is willing to step out. Pull the people with the worst gear and check how many there are. (Worst gear defined as people still wearing more blues/greens than purples.) 5 or less, put them all in the raid. Depending on the awesomeness of your core tank and heals, and possible high dps selection you should calculate how many “dead” players you can take. Assume all of the low geared players will die 2 seconds into the fight and *not* assist in any measure. Some guilds can take as many as 10 dead players. I usually try not to take more than 8. Then fill out as usual, erring towards the lower geared players end. You would rather take 2 DPS that put out 3k each and need gear from the instance than 2 who do 6k each and need nothing. You will still need a few heavy hitters, but try to bump the people who have zero or one upgrade left in the instance.

Step 3: Fair is Fair, roll for it.
Some guilds have all the remaining DPS /random for their spot. This is a fair-ish way to do it. But we all know the people who get screwed on this.

Step 4: Always give out some form of “raid credit”.
Bad rolls, poor gear fall, or whatever, make sure that people who show up on time and ready to raid but get turned away don’t have it happen to them again. If you show up ready to go and don’t get to, give them a raid credit. Think of it as a ticket they can use to ensure their presence in the next raid. Limits should be put on this like it can only be used on the same instance (Naxx for Naxx or Uld for Uld, but no Naxx for Uld) and it has to be used within the next two weeks.

Step 5: Multi-night Raids.
In the beginning most guilds can’t clear a raid in a single night. Raids like Naxx can get split over multiple nights. How do you pick who gets to go then? Always always give first priority to the people who are already saved to the raid.
Have everyone who was on the first raid whisper the raid ID to get their invite. Or simply compare the attendance list. This makes sure the people who cleared the first half get to experience the second half. Once you have them in the raid, identify needs and pull in to fill the holes following the standard selection criteria.

In the end, always choose your dependable people and make sure people get a good chance to raid.

Guild Etiquette Part 4: Consideration

This signature from the official Blizzard forums sums it up nicely:

Your $14.99 says you can play however you want.
But the rest of the raid’s $359.76 says to know your role

When you play WoW alone, solo, as if it were a single player game, I am all for doing whatever you wish. But when it comes time to raid, Courtesy is King. 24 other people are all depending on you to do what you must to see that this is a successful raid. Some laugh at the use of the word responsibility, but that is what raiding is, even for the casual crowd.

1. Be on time. If the raid starts at 8, be online at 7:30 and double checking your gear for the evening.

2. Double check your gear. We all do things other than raid. But be sure you are raid ready at pull time. This means PVP gear stowed, no fishing poles, no tournament lances.

3. Check your spec. Are you PVP specced? If you are one of several classes (like Warlocks) there are only so many of a certain spec that are useful in a raid, have you checked with the others to see what specs they are? Unless your raid leader has made it clear it is okay, be sure to not double up. Also be prepped to be either of your specs for the raid. Dual Specs make you valuable to a raid group.

4. Reagents, shards, food. The shame rank is especially useful here. If a Warlock shows up to a raid without soul shards… SHAME. It is simply inexcusable to show up to a raid without a vital part of your class’ equipment. The tank doesn’t show up without his weapon, you don’t show up without yours. Reagents are needed and yeah, the cost sucks, but hey, that utility you prove with that reagent is part of why you get the invite. Everyone in the raid has some form of cost. As for food, bring stat food, regular food, or feasts, I don’t care, but do not rely on Mage food. The one time you really need it, is the one time a Mage won’t be on the raid.

5. Repair. Nobody likes the guy who has to leave the raid 15 minutes in to go repair. Do it before, when you check your reagents. Repairs bots are awesome for this.

6. Mods. Make sure all your mods are working and up to date. Some casual guilds don’t require mods, but Deadly Boss Mod and Omen are so helpful and wonderful you should use them if possible.

7. Boss Strategies. Have you been to this instance before? Have you done the role you are about to do for this instance? Be sure to brush up.

8. Know YOUR ROLE. Dual specs allow raid leaders to pick and choose people, not only based on their ability to do their main role, but also their ability to do their secondary role. If you are a Holy/Shadow priest, know both roles and play the one the Raid Leader asks you to. Sure DPS is easier and more fun, but without heals, the raid doesn’t make and nobody gets purples.

9. Learn to Role with it. Yes I did mean Role. This is best explained with a story.
Awesome guild goes into Naxx 25 for the first time. Gets to the first boss. Starts fighting. Right before the first insect swarm the warrior tank goes down. DK#1 flips on frost presence, taunts, and takes off running along the wall. Cheer! The raid is saved. Gets to other side, Off tank does his job with the add and here we go again.
Suddenly DK#1, hero of the hour, goes down. DK#2 flips to frost presence, taunts, and then takes off around the circle. (We have the boss at half health.) Someone laughs and says, hey, third and fourth DK, be ready. Not too long and the second DK goes down, and sure enough DK#3 took the raid leader seriously and immediately shifted to his new role, frost, taunt and run. In the real world this is called adaptive survival. You saw a need and shifted to fill it.
Back to the story. DK#4 gets his chance to be a hero, and the boss is getting pretty low. Suddenly the off tank dies and there is an add slaughtering the raid. The two warlocks, as a team, start scorching bursting the add to get aggro and kiting him around the room into the frost mage’s aoes, effectively locking them down.
Then DK#4 goes down, with the boss at 2%. Bad-ass mr. pvp rogue steps in, pops evasion and tanks the boss just long enough for the mages and warlocks to burn him down. By this point all the ret pallys and elemental shamans are healing. Anu goes down with 8 of 25 raid members standing. Now any hard core raiding group would hate to be a part of this story. But for us, it is the thing of Legends and we talk about it all the time. If a raid leader shouts out in the middle of a raid to switch to x. Know your class well enough to switch.

10. Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, find a way to have fun. Raids, especially progression raids can get wipe-y and tense. A good raid leader should call the raid before shouting starts, but tempers can flare easily. Remember this is still a game, and your guildies are your friends.

Guild Etiquette Part 3: Guild Chat

Communication is everything. Communication in online games is vital to the success of a guild. Despite hating to have a ton of grammer nazi rules I find that setting boundaries for communication prevents problems later.

Prime Rule: Don’t Be a Douche.

1. The assumption is made that you are a mature adult. If you aren’t, then it is assumed that you either act like one or the mature adult in your life has your profanity filter turned on. The occasional curse here or there (or in the event of a <10% health wipe a great deal of it) is to be expected. However if someone asks you to stop, you stop (see Prime Rule). There is also a fine line between what you might think is okay and what someone else thinks is okay. Some people don’t mind the B word. For me, it is the big red might as well be a summoning spell button. Err on the side of caution

2. Do not under any circumstances make it personal in guild chat. Ideas, suggestions, theories, all perfectly legit to argue with and say they are stupid. People, not. We are here to have fun, not be verbal punching bags for others. There is some measure of, oh we were just playing, but it if happens too often from one person, get rid of them. If I see it in my guild, you’re gone. There are better ways to deal with something you see as a problem than to attack a person. Don’t talk bad about other guild members.

3. If it is something that would be said in the Barrens or a bad trade channel day, don’t say it in Guild. No Chuck, No Murlocs.

4. 1 4m 2 l33t 4 u. Anyone who still talks like this is a douche. See Prime Rule. In fact for that matter, I won’t correct your bad spelling, the you’re/your their/there/they’re thing if you promise to use full words (2, u, etc).

5. Long winded rants about guild policy. There is a time and a place. That time is whenever, the place is the guild forums, behind the password protected part. Guild chat is not the place.

6. Arguments about loot. This should be handled in whispers. Specifically whispers to the Master Looter. Don’t whisper the person who got the item. Don’t whisper the GM. Whisper the master Looter and discuss with them first. If they agree, they will take it up with the person. If they don’t, well that’s for the Loot Etiquette part, but lets just say, look to Prime Rule.

7. We don’t want to hear about your sexual exploits.

8. No SPOILERS! We all love movies, tv shows, books. If it ain’t on DVD, keep it on the dl. Use a good 6 month rule of thumb or if it is on DVD. Then it is fair game.

9. Begging and Selling. Ask for help once. If you get it, awesome. If you don’t, drop it. Have something to sell? Good for you. If you are offering a discount for guildies, you can pimp it in g chat up to a max of 4 times an hour. If it is the same price as the AH, shut it.

10. Bragging about breaking the law, talking about suicide, hurting people. If you don’t want the cops to know, don’t talk about it in guild. If you threaten suicide, I will take it seriously and I will notify a GM, who has your info and WILL call the cops. If you are having a rough time and need an ear to lean on, that’s fine, but don’t do it in g chat, that’s what whispers are for.

Final Rule: There is an ignore feature for reason. I have been in several guilds where I have had people on ignore. I have also had those people on mute. I made sure my raid leader knew in the event that person might be a source of info the RL would know to repeat it. In the rare occurrence the person on ignore is the raid leader, make sure an officer or your class leader knows. Once I had the lovely joy of explaining to the only other officer in the raid why he had to do the loot distribution and make sure to repeat everything because I had the RL on ignore and he was originally the master looter.

Guild Etiquette Part 2: Noobs.

A newb is someone who is new. A Noob is someone who does stupid stuff as if the were a newb, but really they should know better.

Every so often a guild gets a noob. You have to do something about these people fast or they will infect your good players and suddenly you will be living in Noobville and all of your raids will be Wipefests.

1. Identify the correct noob. This can be a bit complex in a 25 man raid. You might have to talk to your class leaders, or dig through Recount/WWStats to find them. Noobs are tricky, and no one likes being called a noob, esp when they aren’t.

2. Compare noobishness across events. Is this person having an off night? Is this person *always* doing something stupid? Are they a problem in Heroics too? Or did they just decide to try raiding and drinking? This ties into #1, but when dealing with a Noob, it is always good to be sure.

Noob identified, now what?

3. Ask noob to chat with you in officer’s vent or other private vent channel. Talk with them. Now this is a bit tricky. You have to be polite and root around for *why* they are being such a noob. Do you like playing your class? Are you having fun playing WoW still? Are you watching tv/playing Bejeweled at the same time as raiding? Frame it in concern. We noticed you seemed to be struggling, how can we help?

4. Gear Noobs. These people just don’t get their gear. They also don’t get why they need this gem over that one or that enchant over this other one. Best way to fix this, ask if they need help funding the enchant or gems. Offer to do the group dailies with them. Have the class leader do some research and post a best in slot list or a best non-raid list.

5. Spec Noobs. Simple – send them to Elitist Jerks for the cookie cutter spec. Talent Chic does a great job of helping them if they have a specific desired talent. (Note: Some people just want to play one way. This is okay. If you have an open slot and they are there, let them play their weird spec. But it is *always* good to have a progression rule. Ie – in progression raids you have to be spec approved by your class officer, or you get bumped if there is someone who is spec approved and you aren’t even if you have better gear.) All of this also applies to Glyphs.

6. Don’t Stand in the Fire Dude. Everyone has one. This is the guy who can’t dance, gets hit by every flame wave, and moves on flame wreath. The best way to fix this noob in general is to have the raid leader have an announce program. This program should announce to the entire raid or even the entire guild that they screwed up. It also helps to have a shame rank. This is the rank you give someone when they do something seriously stupid. Pull a side in KT? Shame. Pull a boss while the healer is oom? Shame. Drop a Grobbulus bomb in the middle of a raid? Shame. Pretty much anything that wipes a raid can be worthy of a shame rank.

There are some specific ways to combat DSitFDs on certain boos fights. Best example: Heigan’s Safety Dance. It can be tricky. So have someone drop flares in the center of each zone. then tell people to run to flares and stop until the next section pops and start running again. If they are well placed, you’ll have a Safety Dance achievement in no time.

7. You’re a great guy… but. Sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and hope the dude understands. Undying and Immortal are exceptionally hard achievements, and if you want to get them, everyone in the raid has to be on their A game. Explaining to a player that their noobish ways, while fine for farming, will not be tolerated in a progression or achievement run is hard. But if you are honest, specific, and offer a chance of redemption, it can go a long way to preventing a frustrating shouting match.

All of these are excellent ways to help deal with noobs. Just giving them the cold shoulder will cause problems, or letting them be the punch line will lead to trouble. Above all try to be remember, this person is a part of your guild and could be a great member. Identify the true problem and get with the fixing.

Guild Etiquette Part 1: Newbs.

Not to be confused with noobs. That’s part 2. This is with new people to your guild.

All guilds have some form of attrition. Real life, other games, other guilds all steal away your members and cut your numbers. If you have a good guild with good people, this isn’t a huge concern. You will get new recruits just from people being attracted to the awesomeness. Or the fact you raid in a time slot that is good for them, they like someone else in your guild, they heard you took down Yogg, or they had a good experience with one of your guys who said, oh you should check us out if your guild is the sux. This influx is the result of people just looking for a home, for whatever reason, and it is where a large number of your newbies will come from.

Now here is the really IMPORTANT part. Ready?
These newbs are the foundation of your guild in 3 months or less.

Remember that all guilds have attrition. This is approx. 25% every 3 months with a guild of 60 or so active unique members. Which means every 3 months you lose a 4th of your guild. You have to replace these losses somehow and that is with these newbs. Each new recruit has the hidden potential to bring other recruits, be the main tank, heals, dps chart topper, pvp arena master, raid leader and officer. This newb is going to be important in the future of your guild.

So how do you keep your newb and turn them into a core member of your guild?

1. Do not greet them with foul mouthed jokes and jibes. Your newb may love joking around and goofing off. They may cuss like a sailor. But they might not. You don’t know them yet and they don’t know you. You have to get to know them.

2. Do not treat them like a second class citizen. Everyone understands that you aren’t going to get bank access the first day, but make all the “limitations” clear. No bank access, no g or power leveling from members, no begging are all good limits to have. What isn’t good is no vent access, no standard forum access, no calendar viewing, no ability to have input on discussions. I am not saying you should listen to every word your newb says and give it the same weight as your raiders, but if newb makes a good point, or wants to be a part of a discussion, you need to welcome them, after all one hopes they will be a raider soon enough.

3. Do not boot them from their first raid. If someone joins a guild to raid and then gets bumped from the first raid, no matter your reasoning, you have just told them they are not going to be raiding with you. Think of it more like Fight Club. If this is your first night, you have to raid. Also this is a great point to induct them into what is expected of a raider. Vent, Mods, Flasks, Food, Glyphs, Enchants, Gems, Strats, if your newb gets even some of them right, and rolls with what they miss, you might have a solid raider on your hands. In fact I once found a guild that made it policy that if you wanted to join as a raider, you were required to be present for the first raid lockout and if you missed even one night, they booted you from the guild. It was your way of showing your dedication to their guild, be there or be gone.

4. Make sure they get *something* on their first raid. It is counter intuitive, I know, but hear me out. It falls in with #3. If someone comes to a raid and walks away with nothing, how long are they going to put up with that before finding somewhere new? I am not saying let them grab every purple, or even that they shouldn’t pay their dues, I am saying that people like Epics. If they get Epics, they will be back. They will jump through your hoops. They will get enchants, gems, food, etc, for Epics. They will bust their butt for you and the guild if it means Epics. My second raiding guild had a great DKP system that meant usually if more that a few items for a class dropped in a raid, the newb would get one of them. If the newb got it, they were stoked, and also pretty much guaranteed not to get anything else unless all the core raiders passed on it until they had been raiding for a month or so. (Note: This rule can have some shift if say for example nothing but bad gear for their class drops for the whole raid. I have been in Uld twice where nothing good for caster dps dropped.)

5. If you have *That Guy* in your guild, keep him away from the newbs. Every guild has one. For the most part they can be useful for identifying problems. These are the guys that wear the title of Elitist Jerk proudly. They know everything about most classes and they want to tell you what you are doing wrong. Have an officer or a GM pull this guy aside or in whispers and make sure he understands you value his services but if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut around the newb for at least a month, you will find another EJ who can do his job. The best example for this was in the guild that had a newb rank: Foundling. A foundling was someone who was new, might be raiding, and was working through their newbness. Our EJ was not allowed to even speak to the Foundlings until they became full fledged members, unless they spoke to him first or asked for advice.

6. Try to include the newb. Explain guild in-jokes. Explain relationships. Explain the goober that keeps dying in every fight. The more you make them feel included the more they feel like home. If the newb understands who Rapido is, they will understand why it is your “Fail” rank. If your newb knows that Bubbles is a 40 yr old Marine and is married to Ieatbabies, they know *not* to hit on the chick with the hot voice on vent.

7. Not every newb works. This is vital for any guild. Newbs are important, but are also potential poison vials. Be ready to have to baby sit them for a few days and maybe even have some talks. At the end of their newb period it can even be good to let them go. You might need people, but they need you more than you need them. If they don’t play well with others, politely show them the door.

Good luck, and happy hunting.