Tag Archive: social stuff


WTB Barkskin!

I need to grow a thicker skin.

This is something I’m working on anyway, but I have a feeling the process is going to be accelerated by playing my new little resto druid (Andi, introduced a couple of posts back). Healers, in terms of the social dynamic in PUGs, are doing it tough at the moment – everything, I discovered, was my fault. Of course, to be quite fair, some of it was; not only am I very inexperienced at healing (at least in WoW), but I didn’t discover until after leaving the instance with a sigh of relief that I’d been healing the whole thing in my kittycat outfit. So, yes, I do deserve some of that (I had to laugh…but I bet the tank wouldn’t have, if he’d realised).

The general atmosphere, however – even in low level instances like Deadmines, which is where I was – seems to be one of placing all the responsibility for the group squarely on the healer’s shoulders. Perhaps Deadmines itself exacerbates this at the moment, since it’s a familiarly named instance in a familiar place but with completely different trash and bosses, some of whom hit like the proverbial truck. This particular group (composed of a bear tank and his shaman friend from the same server, a mage and a hunter) certainly seemed to be of the opinion they could cruise through just like before; of course, we wiped. Multiple times. Sometimes more than once on the same trash pack.

As I said, part of this was undoubtedly my fault, and the tank had lots of suggestions for improving my healing (some of them actually grounded in fact). Some of the problems, however, I refuse to take responsibility for…including (but not limited to):

– A shaman with delusions of being a kangaroo, bouncing around in front of the tank and repeatedly pulling multiple mobs

– The hunter’s pet, which wandered through the mine at its own sweet pace, stopping to chat with trash packs along the way

– The tank in general, who I think may have been new to tanking, but who fully embraces the Wrath philosophy of ‘Chaaaaaarge!’ and seems unaware of any other approach. Let me set the scene…picture a group just outside the Mast Room doors, finishing off the two Oafs.

Ubertank and the DPS clear up the last of the trash. Ubertank bounces happily through the door behind Shamanboy.

Me: mana

Ubertank pulls the boss.

Me: (pops mana potion and tries desperately to heal with restraint and yet thoroughness; somehow, through blind luck, no one dies) Mana after this!

Ubertank bounds happily through door behind Shamanboy, runs around the corner and aggros a trash pack out of sight. Dies, closely followed by the shaman, then by the rest of us.

Ubertank: healer is n00b lol.

Shamanboy: yeh l2heal lol

Me (runs back from graveyard): Sorry, but if you pull a pack around the corner from me when I said I was out of mana, these things happen 🙂

Mage (also corpse running; has been quiet until now): no kidding.

Ubertank (newly resurrected): so you all ready then healer? for the difficult corners in this hard dungeon?

Shamanboy: lol n00b

A chorus of ‘r’ ensues.

Ubertank: btw u should use swiftmend

Me (watching prominent swiftmend cooldown like a hawk): yeah…thanks

And so it went. Like I said above, I certainly deserved some of it (and maybe I’ll remember another time to wear the right equipment; it’s amazing how much difference it makes, even at levels too low to actually have a second spec). Some of it, though, I shall just have to try and regard as practice in letting it all roll off me!

Part of the trouble, of course, is that when someone says that I’m not doing something well I tend to be very ready to believe them. Of course, they’re frequently right where WoW is concerned, too. I’m just getting into heroics now with Dhakeilh, and that’s an adventure all its own; as my guild’s only heroic-capable character so far and one of only a couple of 85s, I have the distinctly dubious privilege of running basically all my 80+ instances in PUGs. Some of those experiences have been good; most of them have been, well, interesting. I certainly understand the number of people I see writing in the blogosphere that they wouldn’t want to PUG heroics. Having no choice if I want to gear up, though, I’m taking a stab at it; so far I haven’t been in a group that’s managed to actually finish one, but I’m sure it’ll happen one of these days…if I’m very fortunate indeed!

The same culture of blame is certainly pervasive in the high level instances, though. I would say that tanks seem especially prone to it, except that I know when I’m tanking myself the antics of the rest of the group sometimes drive me completely batty, much more so than when I’m just DPSing. Really, I think it’s more that people are frustrated by the non-faceroll-ability* of the content and are wanting to beat the damn thing already and get their points of whichever type. Personally, I don’t mind multiple wipes on a heroic, even on the same boss; for me (never having raided), it seems like practice for the kind of attitudes I’m told you need to bring to progression raiding. Er, that is, the ‘OK, what went wrong, what should we try’ attitude – not the ‘WTF heals lol n00b’ attitude. I do hear a lot of ‘am I the only one interrupting’ and ‘move out of the damn fire’, not always with justification; it seems it’s even easier to get tunnel vision when the content is newish and everyone is focusing hard on what they have to do themselves and what’s not working.** But as I said, I don’t really mind wipes – as long as everyone stays cheerful. No, 42g repair bills aren’t fun, but thank goodness I’m not a plate wearer!

Now I feel slightly better, having vented some of that. Experiences like that one with Andi tend to make me very nervous of getting back on the horse, as it were, but I really do want to learn how to heal – and in spite of Dhak really sucking quite badly as kitty DPS right now, I’m determined to get her to the point of getting to see some content. So, WTB barkskin (or stoneskin)! Here’s to learning to listen to the good advice and let the random junk bounce off 😉

*It is a word. Really.

**Lest you think I’m all sweetness and light – I frequently think things along those lines. I’m just too shy to say them in party chat!

 

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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!

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…

Hardcore is a State of Mind

It took me a while to realise it, but even though I’m a newbie to WoW, I’m definitely not new to the ‘hardcore or not’ conversation. In my particular line of (real life) work, the conversation usually centers around hours, just as it often seems to in WoW. How many hours do you work? How many weekends? How much on call?

As it so happens, I currently don’t work weekends…at least, not all the time. I work five days a week and a weeknight on call, which sadly doesn’t allow for the following day off, so there’s nothing easy about it if you get to spend 30 hours straight on the job! Nevertheless, in the inevitable comparisons of jobs and hours that arise whenever a group of us from different fields meet up, anyone who dares to admit that they don’t work weekends will notice the raised eyebrows and glances being exchanged. This is usually followed in short order by some comment about how lucky this person is to have it so easy, which may or may not elicit a defensive response about how it’s not all that easy, really, and they should just try it and see.

Now where have I heard that before?!

Due to the abovementioned constraints of work, I am not what anyone would usually call hardcore about WoW. Although I do spend hours every week in Azeroth, the game does – oddly enough – have to play second fiddle to little things like on-call shifts and family commitments. Since I’ve never been in a guild that raids four nights a week (and probably never will be), and never had an arena rating over 1800 or indeed an arena rating at all, that apparently makes me a ‘casual’ player, with all that that entails. The word ‘casual’ usually comes with a whole lot of overtones thrown in when used in that sense – things like ‘doesn’t do their homework’ and ‘can’t play their class’ and ‘no idea what commitment even means’.

Personally, I beg to differ.

It’s been stated elsewhere, many times, that dividing the entire playerbase into either the ‘hardcore’ or the ‘casual’ category is too simplistic. I would agree – if we’re differentiating ‘hardcore’ from ‘casual’ based on time spent ingame and the ability to do things like rearrange one’s real life because a computer game has just released a new expansion. However, if the definitions are drawn along other lines – for instance, a player’s attitude to playing the game as well as he/she can – I can find a much stronger case for using the same terms.

Are you hardcore? Do you try to play your character(s) the best you possibly can, even if you can only log in for an hour or two in an average week? Do you listen to your raid leader and try to make your 5-mans run as smoothly as possible? Do you worry about whether you’re making the same mistake multiple times, or tanking at too slow a pace, or stealing aggro too often? All those things, in my book, are signs of being hardcore in the way that really counts. By ‘hardcore’ I don’t mean ‘perfect’ – it’s not the lack of mistakes but the presence of effort and paying attention that marks out a player who’s really serious about the game.

We’ve all met the casuals, under this definition. They’re the hunter who won’t turn growl off  in instances, the death grip-happy death knight, the tank who apparently can’t see his healer’s mana bar, the warlock trying to tank without a demon out, the healer who really wants to dps and forgets to actually heal…and the list goes on. The fact of making a mistake here and there isn’t what puts someone squarely in this category; rather, it’s the mindset – the ‘doesn’t matter as long as I have fun’, ‘what? this is a low level instance’, ‘so? we killed it anyway’ attitude. Even if this person is doing three times the dps of anyone else in the group and has played four times the number of hours this week, they are still ‘casual’, because – in a nutshell – they don’t care whether or not they’re playing to the best of their ability.

I’m not unaware that this is an idealistic view of playing WoW. After all, it is a game and not a job, at least for most of us. Am I hardcore by my own standard? Well, I’d like to think so, but in truth – like everyone else – I have more than enough days where I’m careless or thoughtless or just a bit behind the fair, and the tally of my stupid mistakes would fill a book without any difficulty at all. That said though, I can say with confidence that I try – and that I care when I do it wrong, and try to fix it. And that, I think, is my point, and much more important than how many hours you’ve played or how many boss kills you’ve logged.

Incidentally, I think this definition of hardcore vs casual also translates to my real job. Regardless of how many hours you work or don’t work, commitment is how much you care about doing it the best way you possibly can, and how much effort you put in to make sure it happens that way. I find it fascinating that basically the same discussions go on there as in WoW – fascinating, but not really surprising.

Art imitates life, apparently. Who knew?