Archive for the ‘Raiding & Guild Leadership’ Category

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Failure: The Key to Success

April 9, 2009

The Heigan Dance. The Ledge Boss. Void Zones. Flame Walls.

There are raiders in our midst for whom those words incite panic. Each week they screw up their courage and approach these encounters like a game of Russian roulette, hoping this time they will get lucky and survive. I know because  I’ve been there.  I wish I could reach through my computer, give you a big hug, and assure you that it doesn’t have to be this way.  Your failures can actually be the key to your success if you will take the following two steps.

Identify your Failure.

You cannot take steps to correct a problem you cannot identify.  One of your most powerful tools in identifying what happened to you is a properly configured combat log.  Take a moment to review my guide with step by step instructions on how to configure your combat log to show only incoming damage. This will allow you to track the damage you take as it happens, and enable you to tell at a glance what killed you.

Another tool I recommend is an addon called Failbot.  It reports in raid chat (or any channel of your choosing) the following failures.

Naxxramas

  • Hit by an eruption on Heigan
  • Dying to slimes after Patchwerk
  • Missing the jump on Thaddius
  • Crossing 3 or more opposite charges on Thaddius
  • Hit by a frost breath on Sapphiron
  • Hit by a void zone on Kel’Thuzad

Sartharion & Drakes:

  • Hit by a void zone on any of Sartharion’s drakes
  • Hit by a lava wave on Sartharion

The value of this addon is that it provides immediate feedback. Some people honestly don’t realize they are being hit by the eruptions, or  standing in the void zones, or  crossing the charges. They walk away from an encounter genuinely not knowing what they did wrong.

There are those who are uncomfortable with my reporting  failures in raid chat.  To them I offer the following thought for consideration.

Protecting people from the knowledge of their failures does not help them.

This is a mistake we make all too often. In the name of friendship or kindness, we withhold from people honest feedback about their performance. It is hard to be confronted with your failure, but it is the only way you learn.

Once you have identified your failure, it is important to take the next step.

Identify what steps you can take to prevent the same failure next time.

  • If the Heigan dance is your problem, study this video from Tankspot.
    Quick tip: To focus exclusively on movement, skip to 5:11 and turn your sound off.
  • If you fail at the Ledge Boss, read this post.  Quick tip: Stock up on Swiftness potions.
  • If you disconnect on Thaddius, read this Elitist Jerks guide to fixing chain disconnects.
  • If you die due to chained ice blocks on KT, read this post. Quick tip: Install DBM and set /range to 11.
  • If you get hit by flame walls on Sartharion, check out this video from Tankspot.

Did you notice several of the posts I linked to were my own?  I wrote these after my own failures in an effort to avoid repeating them.  If you struggle with these things, don’t ever think you are alone. There are others out there dealing with the same thing. You can find help, if you will look for it.

Conclusion: After a failure, identify what happened and what steps you can take to prevent the same thing happening again.  If you cannot do those two things, you are doomed to repeat your failures. If you can, you are already on the road to success.

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The Ledge Boss

April 7, 2009

Lurking deep in the Construct Quarter, the Ledge Boss represents a hurdle for many raiders. To conquer this Boss, one must jump from the add platform onto Thaddius’ platform without falling into the green goo beneath. This sounds simple enough, but in practice both new and veteran raiders alike find this surprisingly difficult.

To overcome this challenge, many guides recommend Levitate, Slow Fall or Aspect of the Pack be applied to the raid. These abilities are all well and good, but unless you play a Priest, Mage or Hunter they depend on someone else. Personally, I like to minimize my dependence on others as much as possible.

swiftness-potionFortunately, there is a secret weapon at your disposal. It’s called a Swiftness potion. Pop one of these little babies and sail across the chasm like Indiana Jones himself.  These can be purchased off the AH, or you can contact your local alchemist. Mats include Swiftthistle x1, Briarthorn x1 and Empty Vial x1.

Go forth and leap to victory!

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/distance

April 3, 2009

Last week I showed you how to configure your combat log so you can give a quick answer when your raid leader asks what killed you.  Today, I’d like to show you a tool that may help you avoid the question altogether.

Have you noticed on the Kel’Thuzad fight how the ice blocks have a way of spreading?  I’ve seen an entire melee group taken out by chained ice blocks.  The good news is, this is completely preventable.  The ice block will only chain  if someone is standing within 10 yards of the person KT targets with Frost Blast

The raid spreads out at the start of the phase, but during the course of the fight people sometimes get out of position.  Whether it is the off-tank moving to pick up adds or someone dancing out of a shadow fissure, people sometimes drift into your space without realizing it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to know when someone is too close?  Well, there is!

If you use Deadly Boss Mods, (which I highly recommend) you need only type the command /distance or /range and the following box will pop up on your screen.

Range check

By default, the box displays all those players within 10 yards. You can adjust the range by simply right clicking on the box, as shown below.  Note: Set the range to 11 to give yourself a little extra warning when someone is getting too close. Special thanks to Veneretio for that tip!

Range check

I drag this box to a prominant location on my screen and keep one eye on it at all times.  It’s little things like this that can make the difference, especially when you are going for the Immortal or Undying achievements.   Be proactive and use every tool at your disposal to make sure it’s not your mistake that wipes the raid.

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Configuring your Combat Log

March 23, 2009

How many times has your raid leader asked, “What killed you?”  Long moments pass as you scroll furiously through your combat log, trying to sort through the streams of information to find only that pertinent to you and your  death.  Ten minutes later you give up in frustration, “I…think it was a shadow fissure.”

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know what happened to you.  One of the best tools at your disposal is a properly configured combat log.  My husband put many hours into the research for this post and I am delighted to present you with a step by step How-To guide for setting up your combat log.

Displaying your combat log.

First off, I like to pull my combat log out from my General tab so that I can have them both showing simultaneously.  You do this by left clicking on the Combat Log tab and dragging it out from the General tab.

Now you’re ready to Configuring your combat log.

Step One. Right click on the Combat Log Tab and Choose Settings.

Combat Log - Settings

Combat Log - Settings

Step Two. Highlight the Filter you wish to use.  I use  “What Happened to Me”.  You can see “Self” and “Everything” are also presented as default options.  You have the option to add more or delete any of these filters.

You are currently under the Message Sources tab.  Go ahead and uncheck every box except “Me”.  Of course, if you are a hunter and also want to see incoming damage on your pet, you would leave the “Pet” box checked.

Message Sources

Message Sources

Step Three. Click on the Message Types Tab located next to the Message Sources Tab you were just under.  You can see that I’ve turned off most everything except actual damage. This allows me to track  my incoming damage during the fight without cluttering my combat log with superfluous messages.

Message Types

Message Types

Step Four. Currently, you have the the Combat category highlighted.  You  can see the categories listed in the top left hand side of the screenshot.  Click on the “Other” category and, from that screen, uncheck all the boxes.  At this point, click “Okay” to save your preferences.

Remember, you are still under the combat log configuration, so these notifications will still show up under your General log, just not your Combat log.  This is what made the biggest difference for me.  No longer was my combat log informing me every time Deadsong made a frost weave bandage or Romer created a bolt of cloth.

Category: Other

Category: Other

Using the above example, you have now modified your “What happened to me” filter.   Remember that you may have several other filters such as  Self and Everything.  One of the others may be the default filter, so be sure to highlight “What happened to me” (or whatever filter you chose) in your Combat Log tab to take advantage of these modifications.

Highlight your Filter

Highlight your Filter

Congratulations, you’re done! Next time your raid leader asks what killed you, it should only take a quick glance to give him an answer. And … you might discover it wasn’t the shadow fissure after all.

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Spontaneous Shenanigans

March 5, 2009

dance partyLast night I logged onto Draka for a continuation of our Naxx 10 raid from last night. Through a series of unfortunate events, we were down a tank and two healers. Being the hard core raiders that we are, we turned the event into a naked dance party atop Naxx. After about thirty minutes of raucous debauchery, I logged off Aleathea and retreated into the relative anonymity that is my life as Reant on Cenarion Circle.


I was breathing in the heady scent of jungle flowers, enjoying the peace and quiet while slaughtering Bloodsail Buccaneers, when I got a whisper from a level one warlock whose name was suspiciously similar to that of my Raid Leader, the one I had just left in a naked punching duel with my Resto Druid friend. Next thing I know I get a whisper from said Resto Druid, and before long my Hunter buddy shows up too. About this time, my hubby gets home from work and joins the fun.


forsaken-friendsDeciding it was time to visit me on my new realm, they had all rolled Forsaken and were questing in the Brill area.  My creative friends came up with the idea of starting a guild named “Zombies in Arms” (our Draka guild is named “Brothers in Arms”). Somehow I got talked into funding that venture and, next thing I know, I’m standing in front of the Brill inn emptying my coffers into their greedy little mitts.


Charismatic man that he is, my Raid Leader set about recruiting immediately. Only trouble was, he had taken the whole idea of “RP” quite to heart and had spent a good five minutes coming up with a back story. It involved one of the other Forsaken  having chewed his jaw off, so he could only say, “mrrghh!”.


chat2

Undeterred by this little difficulty, he (Kraknagma) proceeded to advertise in trade while my hunter buddy (Onaboat) inserted helpful comments. I offered them each ten gold to swear never to mention my name or indicate they know me.


We spent most of the evening on vent, and the laughter continued late into the night. Tearing up raid instances is fun in its own way, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a night of spontaneous shenanigans.

Long after the bosses are forgotten and the epics are disenchanted, it’s nights like this I will remember.  The night my friends, not willing to let me drift quietly away, invaded my server, stole my gold, wreaked havoc on my reputation, and touched my heart yet again with their friendship.

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Lessons for a New Guildie

March 2, 2009

Gavlin from The Greedy Goblin made an interesting point today when he compared his experience at a college poker night to raiding in WoW. He states the point of the poker night is to drink beer and spend time together, not to win at poker.  The game is just an excuse, a framework for the social gathering. Likewise, the point of raiding for most people is spending time together, not downing bosses or farming loot. The raid is just the excuse, the framework for getting together.

While I do not agree with all of Gavlins philosophies, I will admit this point rings true. I continue to raid four or five days a week with my guild, but most of the content is entirely lacking in challenge. There are very few drops I need, and it’s not as if those upgrades would make a difference at this point anyway.  The only reason I am still raiding at all is to spend time with my friends.

Outside of raiding for the social aspect, I find very little that interests me on Aleathea anymore. Professions are maxed, reputations are exalted, and there are only so many times you can run the same heroics before your eyes begin to bleed. Additionally, I hate achievements. Yeah, my guildies think I’m an ogre too. Truth is, I just can’t get into them. If you find falling off buildings, slaughtering turkeys and hugging dead players enjoyable, more power to ya. It’s just … not my thing.

Fortunately, I have found a new pursuit in Reants adventures on the RP realm,  Cenarion Circle. Last week I was fortunate enough to be accepted into one of the oldest and most well respected RP guilds on the server.  There is no lack for RP interaction there either in game or via the guild forums and my RP nature is beginning to assert itself even on my non-RP server. 

Yesterday Aleathea was tanking for an OS guild raid. In between pulls I kept /emoting (very creative things I might add) until the other tank stopped, looked at me suspiciously and asked, “Do you play on an RP server?”   Arrens would be proud.

I also find a bit of the casual attitude toward WoW that is pervasive on an RP realm infecting me. I have always been very “hard core” and taken the game, especially tanking, extremely seriously. I would literally have nightmares after a night of wipes and most progression raids ended in tension headaches.  I find myself much more relaxed these days and am able to shrug off mistakes much more easily.

Besides the fun of learning to RP, my introduction into a new guild provides a fascinating opportunity to get to know a new group of people. I am intrigued by the way we interact socially, especially in an on-line setting.  It’s quite a new sensation, being the new kid on the block, especially coming into a group with such a well established history together.

This guild actually reminds me very much of my Alliance guild where I have been an officer for nearly three years. It’s interesting to find myself on the other side of the fence and I’m taking notes on what challenges I encounter. It’s been so long since I was new, I think this experience is very good for me and will help me be a more sensitive guild leader.

There are several principles I have learned over the years watching new people come and go, seeing who makes it and who doesn’t.  Their application is somewhat more difficult than their recognition, but these are the principles I follow while establishing my place within a new guild.

1.) Do not try to change the way they do things. There are few things more annoying than this. Just consider for a moment, the guild existed perfectly fine before you ever came along. They don’t need you, and if you think anyone is interested in your newbie ideas to change the guild, you are in for a rude awakening. If you see something that you think could be improved, make a note of it. One day, if you find yourself in a position where your opinion is actually sought, you can bring it up. Until then, do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep it to yourself.

 2.) Do not ask for handouts. This happens in ever guild I have even been in.  The most obvious example is lowbies asking to be run through instances. I can’t even express how much this irks me. The newbie who does this is a scrub in the making. They want to be run through by stronger players because they aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to earn the xp and loot for themselves.  Additionally, they do themselves and others a great diservice by circumventing the process by which they should learn to use their skills in a group setting.  No wonder we get so many level eighties who have no idea how to function as a productive member of a group.

3.) Be respectful, courteous and appropriate. It is utterly astonishing the lack of basic emotional intelligence that some people exhibit.  As a new guildie, do not insult,  smart off, or be sarcastic in your conversations.  This is especially important in on-line socials interaction where people have only your words to go by to judge your intent. They can’t see the smile, the tone, the body language that conveys so much of the meaning behind the words we speak each day.  Once you have gotten to know people and developed a relationship and history together, then you can be a little more colorful in your communication. But at the beginning, you do not have that history with people and you can do damage that will take months or maybe even never be repaired.

Finally, there is one point that I want to make to myself, as a guild leader.  It is not easy to be a new member in a group of people with a long history together. There is a lot of guild culture that is understood by those who have been there a long time, but is not clearly laid out for those new people coming in. It is easy for a new person to make a misstep without knowing it. When this happens, the kindest thing you can do is be up front with them and communicate clearly what is expected of them. Give them the opportunity to make mistakes while learning and don’t hold it against them if a few toes get stepped on in the process.

This is something that I highly respect from the leadership of my new guild. They are extremely communicative and open about what is expected and what they feel. It is an example I need to emulate. Too often my tendency is to quietly blacklist someone rather than confront them. I am learning a lot about myself, about my interactions with others, and about areas for growth both as a leader and as a follower through my experiences in this World of Warcraft.

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Building a Successful Raid

October 9, 2008

Today I am delighted to present you with a guest post written by my talented husband and co-GM, Kneabiter.

As a raid Main Tank, a Mage Class Leader, and a Shaman Healing Coordinator, he knows the game intimately from a tank, dps, and healer perspective. As a veteran Raid Leader, he is well acquainted with the challenges of building a raid team from the ground up, growing the team from ten to twenty-five people, and leading them through the inevitable failures that pave the road to success.

As a dedicated leader with a passion for education (and a master’s degree to prove it!) you will rarely encounter an individual so committed to the growth, development, and education of his guild – and anyone else willing to learn.

It is my great pleasure to present the first in what will hopefully become a series of posts designed to guide the beginning raid leader through his initial forays into the challenging, demanding, exciting, and rewarding world of raid leading.

A Beginners Guide to Raid Leading
by Kneabiter

The day has finally arrived. Over the months your guild has slowly grown. Many people have come, a few have stayed, and there are a couple in whom you see the potential to become truly exceptional players. It has been slow going, but your dream finally seems about to come to fruition. You are ready for your first raid. You post a sign up list on the forum, promote the run, beg, plead, cajole, promise promotions for all who attend and threaten expulsion for all who do not. The day arrives and, lo and behold, you actually have ten people signed up. Woot! You are ready to take on Karazhan.

Flushed with excitement, you log on 30 minutes before the raid to make sure everything is ready. Your excitement dims just a bit when raid time rolls around and only five of your signups show. Twenty minutes past start time you finally have ten again. Three signups logged on late (Oh, was Kara tonight?) and two more joined because they felt sorry for you groveling in guild chat…or maybe it was because Aleathea offered cookies.

Some of the initial excitement has turned to frustration, but hey, you are ready to pull now — better late than never, right? At your command, the tank charges the first two horses … but wait where did this third horse come from? The angered undead pony beats down one healer and starts in on the second before the off tank manages to pick him up. You breathe a sigh of relief to have the pull over when, suddenly, you are assaulted by another horse and a humanoid. Overwhelmed, you wipe in short order. This starts a three hour wipe fest complete with random afk’s, brb’s, and bio’s from various raid members.

You finally call it a night. You attempt to keep things upbeat as you thank everyone for coming and promise things will be better next time, but inside there is a deep sense of frustration and discouragement. Not only did it not go well, but you are not even sure where to start to get things on track. If you dig even deeper, you’ll find a sense of hurt as well. Deep in your heart you had dreamed of leading a successful raid team. That dream just got chewed up and spit out by unfeeling undead.

Take heart! There is good news and bad news. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to improve your raid success. The bad news is implementing these “simple” steps will take more time and effort on your part than you ever imagined.

Step One: Prepare for the Raid

Many beginning raid leaders underestimate the amount of preparation necessary for a successful raid. It requires much more than reading a couple boss strategies.

  • Know the Trash
  • Know the trash, understand the trash, be one with the trash…ok maybe a little overboard but not much. Too many people assume trash mobs are something they’ll just “get by” and focus on the boss. That trash has been set up by Blizzard to provide specific obstacles that must be overcome. While some are simply tank and spank, many have special moves that will create havoc for the unprepared raid. WoWWiki is an excellent source for info on trash. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel – use the resources at your disposal.

  • Know the bosses
  • This is the step most people think of when they think of raid preparation. This requires more than just skimming a boss guide 15 minutes before the raid. Read as many guides as you can. Check out Boss Killers, and MMO Champions but remember the author’s raid make-up, raiding philosophy, and personal experience all influence the accuracy of the guide. Go to YouTube and watch some videos of the encounter. The more you read and see, the better your chances of success.

  • Know your Raid
  • It is vital that you understand the “soft skills” that each raid member brings to the team. Most new raiders know their dps cycle (hopefully) and not much more. It falls on you to understand which classes can dispell offensivly, dispell defensively, cleanse, decurse, interrupt, crowd control etc.

    Step Two: Map out the Instance

  • Map out the Trash
  • The key to moving through trash quickly is to have the sequence of pulls for each trash group memorized. To do this successfully, every patrol path and trash group needs to be memorized and/or written down. Never be caught by the same mistakes twice. If you are caught unprepared by a pat, watch how it moves next time so you know when to pull. Some casual raiders might think this is a little too detailed for a “fun” run but I disagree. Blizzard has designed raiding to be extremely detailed oriented. If you consider it fun to wipe repeatedly on the same patrol have at it. Otherwise, map it out and be prepared for next time.

    When Aleathea started her Kara training as a tank, we spent many romantic walks on balmy summer nights, rehearsing Kara trash pulls from memory. We would literally talk through every pull, every trash mob, every boss ability for the entire raid instance in preparation for that night’s raid. The result? Seamless transitions from one pull to the next with no wasted down time.

  • Map out the Bosses
  • For raid instances in which the bosses are sequential this is a non-issue. But for Karazhan and a few other raids, you can pick and choose which bosses you do. Based on your current guild progression and raid makeup determine in advance which bosses you wish to attempt. Speaking of raid makeup …

  • Map out your Raid’s Abilities
  • If you have the abilities of every class memorized, feel free to skip this section. Most beginning raid leaders do not. Make sure you at least know the abilities of those people in your raid. Familiarize yourself with tools such as MMO Champion’s new Raid Comp which helps you optimize buff coverage. Be aware which classes can interrupt, remove debuffs, and fill other crucial rolls. You can plan which bosses to attempt based on that knowledge. For example, if you have no priests or paladins in your group, I would strongly advise by passing Maiden.

    Step Three: Think like a Leader

    When you take on the roll of Raid Leader, you step into a leadership role and you need to act like it. You set the tone not only for the success or failure of the raid, but also for mood during the run. Remember that nine other people are looking to you.

  • Keep your Cool
  • There are few things more disturbing than seeing a leadership figure out of control. If that requires a couple minutes break after a particularly nasty wipe, so be it. After you wipe, determine what can be fixed. If you have no idea how to fix the problem and the raid is getting frustrated, move on. If you can move to a different boss do so, otherwise call it for the night. Do some research, find out what can be done differently, then try again next time.

  • Have a Plan
  • In my ed psych classes they told us, “If you (the teacher) don’t have a plan, they (the students) will.” This holds true in raids. It is amazing the amount of advice, suggestion, and criticism that flows in when you start to lead raids. Moderate the flow of incoming information as needed. Every raid leader has there own tolerance level for this sort of thing. You may want to ask your members to post suggestions on the guild forum, private message you, or discuss it with you after the run.

  • Communicate with Your Raid Members
  • Let your raid team know up front what your goals are for the run. The more specific you are the better. Stating, “My goal for this raid is to down Moroes” is clearer than simply stating your goal is to “have fun”, “do well” or some other general concept.

    After the raid, thank your members for coming and go over what has been accomplished. If you were able to conquer a boss or get through a set of trash without wiping for the first time, praise them for it. If someone was on top of their cc, cleanses, dispells, interrupts, etc. recognize them for their work. Raid members will be motivated to perform even better next time when they know the good job they do is recognized and appreciated.

    Serving as the GM of a casual raiding guild has been one of the most educational, exasperating, enlightening, and overall rewarding experiences of my life. During my two years of leadership, I have come through my share of guild splits, guild drama, raiding challenges and success. Through it all I have learned a few things, and I would like to offer my experiences as a stepping stone for others.

    Future posts will include how to be successful with less than optimal raid compositions, how to put together a core raid team without splitting your guild, training tips for improving tank, healer, and dps performance, and other random things as they occur to me.