Tag Archive: group


Challenge vs. Caution

To the bewilderment of some of my acquaintance, I haven’t yet tried even a single heroic. My dps is arguably high enough, depending on whom you ask, although my tanking is abysmal (it was bad enough before 4.0.1 destroyed any coherent idea I had of what to do. Now it resembles competent tanking much in the same way your average hunter represents competent melee dps). The tanking is less relevant, though, as my primary spec is still the kitty cat; still, I’m not keen to try it yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a challenge as much as the next person, and often probably too much. What I don’t like, though – and what I don’t really need in an activity that is supposedly fun – is to be holding other people back and attracting the ensuing comments and kicks. Having recently been kicked from a group that was absolutely owning Culling of Stratholme on normal mode merely because my dps was the lowest of the four (at approximately 1500), I’m not really anxious to step things up a level just yet. Silly ‘gogogo’ people aside, though, I don’t want to be either actually or in perception a drag on the group; I have a holy horror of being carried, though I know it happens a lot. Maybe that’s oversensitivity, I don’t know.

Ooh, look! Relatively pointless introspection; a new thing for this blog! There is a point hiding in here, if I can but locate it.

A huge part of the attraction of WoW, for me, is the challenge. Blizzard has, quite intentionally of course, built in a whole spectrum of ‘achievements’ which range from the ridiculously easy (Represent, anyone?) to the fiendishly difficult, terribly time-consuming or flat out impossible to attain. In case that wasn’t enough, they’ve also added a wide assortment of mounts, pets, toys and other pretty things that are usually only obtainable with a great deal of effort/time/sheer dumb luck. On an already distractible person, seeing or reading about these things has a predictable effect: “Ooh! Shiny!”. I’ve had to work hard to focus on one or two goals at a time, which seems to be the only way to get anywhere sensible, but the inner magpie also has to be reconciled to this state of affairs.

If ‘dream big’ isn’t a strange phrase to use about a computer game, that’s what I try to do. No, I can’t have a flying carpet today, but my new leveling project is a tailor, so one day I will get to entirely block off quest mobs from everyone else too. No, I can’t stop doing more useful rep grinds in order to get a green dragon (ha!) OR a red dragon at the moment, but there will be time soon enough. No, I can’t kill the Lich King – or Deathwing – or even Ragnaros – with a main on a realm on the other side of the world from me, but soon enough I’ll have a second main who can. And so on, and so forth. Of course, I’ll never run out of things to aim for, because (not being able to play WoW instead of going to work) there will certainly never be enough time between expansions; but that’s a good thing. And to be honest, the more unattainable something seems, the more I’m motivated to try to do it.

Don’t laugh! Just because no one else on the realm has a phoenix doesn’t mean it will never drop for me…

The tension between staying where I’m comfortable to work toward tangible goals (that will eventually come about if I keep doing what I’m doing; a full set of normal dungeon gear, for instance) and moving on to bigger and better things is an interesting one. Currently I’m not particularly eager to move on, as I don’t really feel that competent to do so, and I think the timing has to be right for maximum enjoyment (mine and my hapless group members’) – too late leads to boredom, and too early leads to frustration and sometimes to unfortunately timed displays of affection for the floor. There are times when my patience wears a bit thin, though, and I look at the ‘Random Lich King Heroic Dungeon’ option and think of the upgrades waiting on the next rung of the ladder. I do wonder if my approach will be a bit more cavalier with subsequent 80s, since I’ll know more accurately what to expect and what I can get away with; at the moment the heroics, much less raids, are a completely unknown quantity.

Somewhere in the middle, poised between the speculative glances at rusted proto-drakes and the fear of encountering That Guy in a PUG on a low DPS day, is the Happy Medium. I think I’ve nearly found it; I can see the question mark on my mini-map, but I seem to keep running past it in one direction or the other. I’m sure I can find it…if I can just stay focused long enough…

Shiny!

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The Joys of a Guild Run

Most of my dungeon experience – well, about 95% of it, in fact – has been in PUGs. They are easy to find, if not always quick, and the dungeon finder neatly dodges the problem of there having been not too many leveling people in my last guild. I did do one run through Magister’s Terrace with them, but the rest of the group were mostly 80s, and a level 70-odd messing things up by accidentally body pulling wasn’t really an asset to the group. After that, in general, I’ve left things well alone and simply PUGged my way through the various instances…until now.

This new guild, as I think I have mentioned, actually does things together. We’re all a little bit disoriented with the new patch, and were discussing the various class changes and so forth, when I discovered that my baby disco priest was now locked out of Wailing Caverns since 4.0.1 hit. Apparently you’re now supposed to discover it before you can queue for it; clearly this is a change I’d missed! I like the idea, but it was a bit confusing at the time. In any case, three of us (a paladin and two priests) trundled off from Azuremyst to the Barrens…and, roughly half an hour later, we all arrived at the Wailing Caverns and picked up the quests. We were a little bit apprehensive, all things considered, since none of us was all that familiar with our class changes yet and we were at level for the dungeon, but one way and another we decided to give it a go.

I’ve always loved Wailing Caverns, in spite of its length and tortuousness, but there is no denying that it can be hard on a PUG. The number of times I have failed to finish it for one reason or another probably exceeds the number of times I’ve successfully got through it by a fair margin. This run, though – despite the fact that we were 3 manning it and that the group composition (ret pala, holy and disco priests in the level 16-22 range) was perhaps less than ideal, was absolutely smooth as silk. Bosses keeled over at our feet, adds and accidental pulls were managed with barely a slip below 50% health, and nobody got lost or fell off anything (unintentionally). Although it’s tempting to ascribe this to our amazingly l33t skillz and adaptability, I think it’s probably more accurate to give the credit to the very fact that this wasn’t a PUG.

Voice communication, for one thing, makes life indescribably easier. By the time you’ve typed ‘another druid’ and then added ‘and I’m slept’, and someone has typed ‘where?’ and someone else has typed ‘behind you’, half the unfortunate victim’s health has probably gone. Saying it is, of course, much faster. Also, voice communication seems to allow for more accountability; not that any of us was trying to ignore the others, but it fosters working in a team and actually listening to what each other say.

Also, of course, I think everyone is more relaxed in a guild run simply by virtue of knowing the others in the group. You can be reasonably confident that no one is going to ninja things or pull half the dungeon and then drop group (or that if they do, there will be consequences). Then, too, a lot of the difficulties around trading things cross-realm are of course removed. And, shock and horror, it’s all just more fun in a group where you can mess around a bit and chat, and where you know any mistakes aren’t going to be met with an instant kick. We ended up having so much fun with this one that plans are afoot to set up more dungeon runs in the near future, which is an alien experience for me but one I think I like. Isn’t this, after all, the definition of a massively multiplayer online RPG?

Of course, PUGs also have their advantages, and I doubt I’ll ever completely abandon them. Sometimes it’s nice to be anonymous and not expected to be on teamspeak or to socialise, particularly at the end of a long day. Likewise, though it’s fun to have friends around, you do sometimes end up on detours that you might not have with a random group. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing both, if only to keep my perspective on what’s good about each!

Are you a PUG person or do you prefer guild or premade groups? Honestly, I’m not sure I could decide…

This week’s BlogAzeroth shared topic (proposed by RestoDude) is about helping out your groupmates – protecting and assisting the other members, and so on. While I think the original topic may have been meant to refer to abilities or strategies ingame, in a multiplayer game like WoW it’s equally vital to consider ways to help and support your groupmates in a social sense.

White bear!

Qanala - level 19

This girl essentially exists because I want to tank on Dhakeilh and am too much of a chicken to start learning at higher levels (and also because I fell in love with the white druid forms. Different topic!). Most of her time is spent tanking instances, more or less ineptly, and a run through Shadowfang Keep this week is where we meet the shared topic.

I find tanking very intimidating. I know I’m not alone in this, judging by the huge number of other posts and comments out there saying the same thing, but that doesn’t make it any easier to check the blue box (take the blue pill…?) on the dungeon finder and frantically hope your groupmates will be at least civilised, if not friendly. And, of course – as with everything – as I get more intimidated, I get less accurate with my reactions and more flustered. This has on occasion led directly to wipes, which always make me reach for the Whip of Self-Flagellation and, of course, tends to perpetuate the cycle.

The contribution of the other group members to a tank’s mental state is perhaps obvious, but bears restating. An experienced and confident tank can of course shrug off the comments; after all, he knows what he’s doing, and if they don’t like it, screw them. For less confident tanks, though, the group can make all the difference to their comfort level and, therefore, to their performance. There is a world of difference between the group where the refrain is ‘gogogogo…pull faster…pull bigger…come on failtank’ and one where not much is said, but the underlying attitude is ‘take your time, do it right, mistakes happen.’ A group doesn’t have to be a mutual admiration society with compliments every twelve seconds to maintain a supportive atmosphere.

Not being entirely oblivious, I realise this is a very optimistic and idealistic attitude to WoW – particularly as applied to PUGs. However, the abovementioned SFK run, which was a PUG with four complete strangers, showed me that it is possible; not once did someone complain about the tanking, the healing or anything else, even though both myself and the healer were new at our roles. As a consequence, a group with no members over level 20 dealt with the instance with a minimum of trouble, and I zoned out at the end feeling over the moon. I could tank!

I question whether that instance would even have been possible for me to tank with a group that pushed me to pull faster, or spammed party chat with demands for heals. This group wasn’t chatty or overly friendly, just quietly supportive and occasionally patient. Is a tank (or anyone else) responsible for her own performance? Absolutely. Can the group members contribute to or detract from that performance just by their attitude and presence in party/raid chat? Without a doubt.

So, many thanks to Edaedia (priest), Gnomophobia (warlock), Floor (mage) and gnome-rogue-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten-sorry!, for a fun and confidence-building run –  and for the reminder that sometimes the best thing we can do to help and assist others in our group is to be nice.