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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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Welcoming a New Neighbor

April 1, 2009

Neighbor

A few days ago Elleiras from Fel Fire did a post highlighting the new blog, Female Human Paladin, by Ashellia. Upon visiting the blog, I was immediately impressed by the quality of Ashellia’s writing and delighted to find the content related to Raiding and Role Play, my two favorite subjects.

I look forward to following the development of this blog.  When you get a moment, I suggest you drop by for a visit and welcome our new neighbor to the community.

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Honest Scrap

March 31, 2009

Honest Scrap
As much as I say that I write for me and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks, the truth is it does matter.  I get a little twinge of excitement every time I see a new comment pop up.  My heart beats a little faster every time I see a trackback to something I’ve written.  My smile gets a little bit brighter each time someone mentions my blog.  So, I was delighted this weekend when Elleiras of Fel Fire and Tessy of Reflections From the Pond both nominated me for the Honest Scrap  award.

Most of you already know the rules, but there are a few non-bloggers who frequent my site so I’ll touch on them briefly.

Upon accepting the award you are to write a post bragging about it.

This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.  The fact that two of my favorite bloggers would consider me for this award is enough to make me blush.

Include a link back to the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim so everyone knows he/she is real.

Links provided above. Both are real, although Elleiras of Fel Fire  is a warlock so take anything she says with a grain of deeprock salt.

Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

I’m not going to actually tag anyone as most who are inclined to do so have already participated.  Instead, I will take this opportunity to highlight a few of my favorite blogs.

Through the Eyes of Death.  I discovered this blog quite by accident.  Intrigued by the title, I started reading and spent the better part of an afternoon glued to my screen following the adventures of Arrens Caltrains, the Forsaken Rogue.  In addition to his fascinating stories, he offers a series of posts on Role Play delivering practical advice with wit and humor.  My recent foray into the world of RP is due largely to his influence and he serves as a daily source of inspiration and encouragement.

LoreCrafted by Tharion Greyseer.  If you have a question about lore, he knows the answer.  One of the best resources anywhere for those interested in lore, he is also a fantastic story teller.  His writing comes alive on the web page and you feel as if you are actually present observing the events unfold.

Tankingtips.com by Veneretio.  An absolutely essential blog for a tank.  I have an entire notebook full of information I have gathered reading his blog entries and my monitor is covered in post-it notes with quotes from his podcasts.  More than any other writer, he has shaped the player that I am today and I owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Beneath Two Skies.  I have followed Rhoelyn since her first post.  She offers brilliant writing, aesthetic design and extremely practical content.  Although real life has prevented her from being active recently, her blog retains a place on my blogroll and remains one of my all time favorites.

Artisan Level.  Another blog that I have followed from its beginning.  I love the honesty with which she expresses herself and her practical and creative ideas for dealing with guild and raid leadership are a constant source of inspiration.

Voodoo Ventures.  Creative and engaging, her RP stories are a pleasure to read and her lovely screenshots and creative captions always delight the eye.   She has also written a fantastic guide detailing her daily quest route.

The Pink Pigtail Inn.  One of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.  She somehow puts into words the things I feel but can’t express.  Her thoughtful commentary on WoW and real life always inspire reflection and I often find myself still considering her words days later.

List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

1.) I am terrified of dogs.  And spiders.  And dead people … which is ironic since I play a Forsaken.

2.) Upon completing my first degree I swore I was done with school forever.  Five years later, I am working on a second degree.  The first is in music.  The second, Medical Coding and Billing.

3.) When I was fourteen I spent six months immobilized in a full body cast.  During that time, I watched Return of the Jedi no less than one hundred times.  To this day, I can quote the entire movie … much to the annoyance of my family.

4.) I hate warlocks with a passion. I rolled a warrior just so I could learn spell reflect and watch them incinerate themselves. (Sorry, Elleiras, nothing personal.)

5.) I freeze up when it comes to anything math related.  Seriously.  My brain just shuts down and goes numb.  This is why you will never find theorycrafting on my site.

6.) I refuse to do the escort quest involving the robotic chicken in Tanaris.  Some creatures don’t deserve to be rescued.

7.) I love Japanese anime music.   Especially those songs performed by Yuki Kajiura.

8.) I am addicted to Goldfish.  The snack food. The cinnamon graham ones are my favorite.

9.) I have no pets.  No plants either.  I had a Beta fish once but I gave it away because it was too needy.  Darn thing actually expected me to feed it once in awhile.

10.) Early in our friendship, I  promised my husband I would never fall in love with him.  We have been best friends for ten years and that is the only promise to him I have ever broken.

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Diary of a Forsaken: Ailia’s Story

March 27, 2009

Written by Ailia Reant

It occurs to me, somewhat belatedly, that I have begun my story in the middle. Should someone read this diary after I am gone, they would know only Reant, the Forsaken.  I was not always thus.  I was human once.

Born in a small fishing village on the outskirts of Stratholme, Ailia spent her early years playing along the banks of the Darrowmere Lake. She was six when the winds of war swept across Azeroth for a second time. When the Orcs invaded Lordaeron, her parents fought alongside the other villagers defending their homes. They were simple peasants, unskilled in the ways of war.  The blood crazed Horde slaughtered them without mercy. The child’s slight form, hidden among the bodies of the fallen, went unnoticed.

From that day on she embraced the life of a fighter, learning from any who would teach her, relentelessly pursuing the destruction of the Orc race.  Many years later, an unlikely friendship with an Orc named Skelto led to a change of heart and she turned from the path of revenge. 

She served the Alliance during the Third War, earning a name for herself as a warrior. At the conclusion of the war, she returned to Lordaeron where she fought to defend her homeland against the Scourge invasion. Eventually her efforts attracted notice from the Scourge leaders. With the help of the Argent Dawn she evaded them for many months, but the Scourge’s power grew daily and the defenders strength waned as their fallen brothers joined the ranks of the undead. It was only a matter of time before she fell into their hands. I cannot bring myself to set down the events that followed. Suffice it to say, death came as a friend.

How easy it is to summarize the events of a lifetime in a few sentences.  How difficult it is to convey the essence of that life. 

Hot-blooded and headstrong, her temper would have ushered her into an early grave had not her blade been as quick as her tongue. Living each day in the face of death, she was free of the inhibitions felt by those who hold life dear.  Reckless, her friends called her, their warnings falling on deaf ears.

It was in battle that she was most alive, every sense heightened by the blood rage that coursed through her veins.  In its grip, the world faded in a haze of fury, instinct guiding her hands, lost in the sounds of battle and the feel of her blade.

My story is in no way unique.  There are hundreds, nay thousands, who could give a similar account.   So many  men and women, unsung heroes who stood against the darkness and with their deaths bought time for others to rise.  Most are forgotten now.  Some fell never to rise.  Others, like me, were raised in death to serve the Litch King.  I have no memory of the time I spent bound to his will.  For this, I am grateful.  I have seen others of my kind who can never recover from the memories.

Ailia was not a  great hero.   She was not noble or wise and most of her valorous deeds were spurred by recklessness more than bravery.  But – she was alive.  She knew passion in the arms of a lover.  She knew joy at the laughter of a friend.  She felt the gentle carress of the breeze and savored the soft kiss of the sun on her face.  She heard music in the lonely call of the night wind sweeping across the planes of Desolace.  Reant exists now as a shadow of the woman who once was.  Living, but never truly alive.

Unable to accept this existance, some Forsaken pine away, lost to the world in their grief.  That will not be my fate.  Ailia is gone, but Reant remains. I am stronger now than ever I was in life.  No longer do I require rest or nourishment.  No longer do I fear death or pain. No longer are my days numbered by the beat of my heart and the air in my lungs. I am content to wait.  Patient. Vigilant. My hour of  vengance will come.

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Using Hooks to Involve Others in Your RP

March 25, 2009

The majority of my co-workers are in the 60+ age bracket. When they get together on break, the conversation invariably turns to aches and pains, medications and therapies, hospital visits and near death experiences as each attempt to out do the other with horror stories that prove they really do have it worse than everyone else. Knowing one day I will likely do the same, I try to hide my amusement and provide a good audience.

I’m picking on the older generation, but younger people often do the same thing. Some people just love to talk about themselves and how their situation is worse than everyone else. The same thing applies to Role Players. Some Role Players just love to write about themselves and every storyline places their character in the center of the universe.

There is nothing wrong with this. If you are writing for you, for the pure enjoyment of it, write whatever you feel like! Make your stories as long and dramatic as you like. Post them on your blog, your guild forum, your bulletin board at work … go crazy!

However, understand that what you are writing are short stories. That is not the same thing as RP and these stories, entertaining as they may be for you to write, are not what will earn you a place in the RP community. For that, you need to involve other people. Which brings me to today’s subject.

Using hooks to involve others in your Role Play.

HookA hook is something your character does that invites interaction. The more hooks you provide, the more likely that someone will take the bait. Lets look at some examples. These are various ways I could role play an entrance into the Protectas Lounge (guild chat).

Example #1. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge and seats herself near the fire.

In this example, we have established that Reant is in the room, but we don’t know what frame of mind she is in, what her attitude toward the others present is, or what she is doing. This is alright if you just want to let people know you are there, but it doesn’t provide any hooks for others to play off of.

Example #2. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge and nods in greeting to those present. Shuffling to an overstuffed chair near the fire she shrugs off her pack and, with a weary sigh, sinks down onto the chair. Drawing a large leather bound volume from her pack, she opens it and begins to read.

In this example, we can tell something of her frame of mind, her attitude toward the others present, and what she is doing. Although she is keeping to herself, there are a couple hooks there. Another character could comment on her obvious fatigue or express curiosity in what she is reading.

Example #3. Reant enters the Protectas Lounge dragging a dead Talbuk by the antlers. Calling a cheerful greeting to those present she heads directly to the kitchen, leaving a trail of blood behind her. From the kitchen comes the discordant strains of a Dwarven drinking song, punctuated by the crash of pots and pans and an occasional shatter as something breaks.

In this example, there are multiple hooks present. Blood on the Lounge floor provides an opportunity for someone to slip and injure themselves. The racket coming from the kitchen invites annoyance or curiosity. The fact that she is singing a Drarven drinking song – and cooking – provide points of interest that open the door for conversation.

Warning!

Be careful about giving information in such a way that it prevents people from responding in character.

If I say, “Reant feels cold”, your character would have no way of knowing that and couldn’t respond appropriately.

Instead I could say, “Reant shivers and wraps her arms tightly around herself.” This is something your character can observe and respond to.

Always try to present what your character is thinking or feeling in an observable way. Show rather than tell.

Providing hooks is one of the best things an experienced Role Player can do to help a newbie get involved.

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I am very new to the RP scene. I am by no means a confidant role player, nor am I particularly creative or spontaneous. I spend a lot of time watching the veterans, trying to uncover their secrets and determine what it is they do that makes them so entertaining, engaging and approachable. I am convinced that one of their secrets is the creative use of hooks as a means to involve other people.

Short stories are fun to write, but it is through interaction that you develop a connection with the community. Learning to use hooks effectively is a skill that requires time and effort, but it is a valuable tool for facilitating the interaction that is the heart of RP.