Recruiting and The Princess Bride

Today I turned down a guild application because they had never watched The Princess Bride. Actually, to be honest they couldn’t even identify The Princess Bride, asking if it was one of those Robin Hood movies. This, more than anything else, sealed the denial from our guild. What I found most interesting was that the reaction from my guildies to that decision was overwhelmingly positive, whereas some of the non-guildies I talked to were taken aback by what seemed like relatively arbitrary recruiting policies.

I’ve talked in the past about how to write recruitment posts and about how to write recruitment applications. One thing I haven’t really touched on is that ephemeral art of recruiting people with your guild community in mind. The Cats are indeed a raiding guild, whatever that means nowadays, and people who want to join the raiding team need to bring a certain level of player skill to fill the role that we need. One thing I’ve had to learn as we made that slow slide from uber casual to more casualcore is that the best personality in the world cannot make up for repeatedly wiping the raid by standing in the void zones, however much I wish it were true. However, personality still counts.

I started my guild with the very egocentric plan of only recruiting people that I suspect I’d like to have a beer with in real life. At this point that desire is stronger about some members than others, but I think over the years I’ve generally stuck to my plan. This means a few things: applicants have to not freak out about being around women, because we have more than most guilds and they will all kick your ass; you have to be on the more clever range of things; swearing and mild raunchiness is okay, but derogatory or racist crap is not. A bunch of us are professionals (engineers, teachers, lawyers, editors, tech gurus), which means that we’re older and trend towards the geeky. Our guild sense of humor celebrates puns and typos and dry wit. Hence, The Princess Bride Test.

So what can you tell about someone based on one carefully selected movie? First, you get a general idea of their age range. I admit to not being hip with the kids anymore, but I doubt your average 15-year old has seen this movie. Next, a hint of their tendency towards or against.. macho rants. At it’s core, Princess Bride is a love story featuring royalty, which might turn some manly men off. And finally, it gives a good idea of someone’s sense of humor. Will it jibe with that of the guild at large?

Raid performance is very important, but completing Sarth 3D would be worthless to me if I didn’t enjoy the company of the people I did it with. I will veto without hesitation anyone I think won’t get along with the rest of the team, no matter what their raid credentials are. A carefully chosen personality question or two on your guild application can help you understand how someone would fit with your guild community, and having happy cohesive guildies improves teamwork, longevity, and plain old fun.

Twilight Vanquisher Liore

Twilight Vanquisher Liore


Last night the Cats defeated Heroic Sartharion 3D, and I could not be more proud. And good on Blizzard for putting this encounter into the initial release of WotLK. I think for the first time ever in this expansion we all felt that strong satisfaction that comes with learning and accomplishing a new boss. It was a really awesome kill.

It took about 8 hours of attempts. Our strategy can probably be tightened up once we get used to the fight and continue improving our gear, but it worked for us this time.

We used four tanks: one on Sarth (druid), one on Tenebron (pally), one on Shadron and Vesperon (warrior), and one on pure add duty (warrior). When Tenebron died, the tank ran around and helped out with loose adds. On our winning attempt we also had the Shad/Vesp tank die partway through the fight, so the Tene tank took over his duties.

Our healers consisted of two paladins, two priests, one shaman, and one druid. One paladin was assigned to the Sarth tank for the whole fight. We had a priest assigned to the Tenebron tank, the druid and second pally focused on the Shad/Vesp and add tank, the shaman raid healed, and I kind of pinch healed where needed. (I started on raid healing, moved to the add tank during the tricky phase, and then after Vesperon landed I helped with the Sarth tank.) The tricky healing bits were keeping the add tank up after the second whelp portal opened, keeping up the Shad/Vesp tank when both drakes were active, and of course the flame breath portion of Sarth tanking.

We used up heroism on the first drake to get it out of the way, and asked people to not really DPS Sartharion before then so they didn’t blow their internal proc timers. After Tenebron died, ranged and AoErs handled the whelps while single target DPS moved to Shadron. When Shadron died, everyone took the portal and killed the two Twilight dudes. Then Vesperon, then portal, then adds, then Sarth. For cooldowns we only needed one feral druid thingy, one Hand of Sacrifice, and one Guardian Spirit.

The thing that made the most difference on our winning attempt was only ONE person dying to void zones. You need all the DPS you can muster, and there is certainly no room to lose a healer. Last night we tried is running the Failboat mod and having the output print to officer chat, and I think it helped. It’s a lot more intimidating if I can say in between attempts, “Okay, we lost exactly 11 people to void zones on that attempt, and I know who each of you are. Stop that.”

You need good DPS, tanking, and healing, but at the end of the day this fight is about spatial awareness and team coordination, and I am so proud of my crew this morning. They did real good. Bring on Ulduar!

Teamwork is Tops in Raid Healing

Teamwork is Tops in Raid Healing

When WotLK hit, one of our long time DPSers decided to go healy with his shaman. Thae, in his previous forms, was always a top damage dealer and I knew he was very competitive. However, I was a little nervous when he said he wanted to switch. I didn’t think he’d be a bad healer, but while DPSers seem to thrive on competition and beating each other on the charts, healing is the one role that is very much about teamwork. (Tanking is sometimes about teamwork, but there are too many single tank encounters to make it a huge factor.)

teamworkteaserThere are all kinds of nuances to evaluating healers, but at the end of the day the bottom line is: did the raid live? The teamwork and interaction of your healer team is pretty critical to getting a positive answer from this question. For example, I know that given any situation I can always rely on the insane paladin to heal the MT. I know that one of my fellow priests prefers GHeals, and he knows that I am an unrepentant Flash Heal spammer, so when we are healing the same target we feel comfortable that we’re complimenting each other’s styles. Teamwork means that when a healer dies they know someone else will pick up their assignment if they can. It means that in a clutch you have an idea of the tricks your compatriots can pull out of their sleeves, and you frequently can rely on that happening. Unlike tanks who often work alone, or DPS who tend to view other DPS as competitors, having a cohesive healing unit is a HUGE benefit to the the raid.

Anyway, some ideas to solidify your healing team:

1) Create a central “healing” raid channel, along with any seperate class channels. Encourage DPS and tanks to stay out. This, more than anything else, has helped the healers in my guild to bond. It’s a “safe space” where we not only talk over assignments and strategies, but also complain about DPS who are always standing in the fire, mock the raid leaders (assuming it isn’t me!), and share our dorkiest mistakes in a sympathetic environment.

2) Don’t pick on your healers unduly. This is particularly clever advice when your healer is also the guild leader. *grin*

3) Unlike how you might approach DPS, don’t call out performance issues by comparing healers to each other. If you need to talk performance with someone, bring it to them on their own terms. “You didn’t cleanse very much.” “You consistently run out of mana early in the fight.” Not, “X Druid does a lot better than you, why is that?”

4) Adversity and challenge build team morale. If you or someone else is willing to play along, you can set up challenges and give the team an excuse to rally together. For example, shortly before we first started Black Temple our raid leader semi-jokingly declared, “Naj’entus does a lot of raid-wide damage. I’m not sure our healers are ready for that.” Lo and behold, when we got to Naj the first time we healed the everlovin’ crap out of the raid. To this day the healer channel will break out into calls of, “Yeah, and we’re not capable of healing Naj’entus, right?”

Sure, I compare myself to the rest of the healing team, and I like to see my name at or near the top of the charts. But at the end of the day raid healing is far from a solo exercise, and teamwork should be more important than the output of any single member.

Dailies for Healers

Dailies for Healers

goldcoinsSo I’m broke. Well, to be more precise, Liore is broke. I have a bank alt with enough gold to cover dual spec when 3.1 hits, and my shaman alt can fund her own needs, but Liore is perpetually broke. I’m also behind on my reputations, barely completing any in WotLK so far. My guildies are often mystified about what I do when I’m online and not raiding, because it certainly doesn’t seem to be daily quests or heroics. The sad truth is that I tend to chat in guild chat or on Vent and run circles repeatedly in Ironforge, or if I’m feeling particularly ambitious I will hop around IF trying to not step on any cracks. Yes. This is indeed a valuable use of my time.

Last night was our second night of Sarth 3D attempts, and repairs have officially done me in. So I give to you, for my own edification if no one else’s, a list of healer friendly non-boring daily quests. Start in Sholazar because it takes the longest to get to (stupid Wintergrasp flight path) and work your way around Northrend counter-clockwise. This is Oracles-oriented, but insert a couple of Frenzyheart quests if you need to.

Appeasing the Great Rain StoneSholazar Basin
12g 84s – 500 rep with The Oracles
Grab a gorloc friend and dig up shinies. I always go with Moodle because he is so surly and fussy and cute.

The “Song” Quest of the Day – Sholazar Basin
13g 23s – 500 rep with The Oracles
A Cleansing Song
Song of Fecundity
Song of Reflection
Song of Wind and Water
Easy quests that require you to simply use an item or fight with a vehicle.

Preparing for the WorstBorean Tundra
4g 86s – 500 rep with The Kalu’ak
Taking quest items from level 71 mobs is like candy from a baby.. even for healers.

Planning for the FutureDragonblight
4g 86s – 500 rep with The Kalu’ak
Kill a level 73-ish mob and save adorable baby wolvar.

The Way to His Heart…Howling Fjord
7g 40s – 500 rep with The Kalu’ak
If I can help just one sea lion couple find love, I feel like I’ve done my part.

Life or DeathGrizzly Hills
9g 96s – 125 rep with Alilance Vanguard, 250 with Valiance Expedition
You’ll become PVP flagged as long as you have this quest in your log, so plan accordingly. If GH is pretty dead on your server, though, this is an easy quest.

OverstockStorm Peaks
12g 96s
Use landmines, blow up big stompy invaders. What’s not to like about this quest?

The Random Brunnhildar Daily – Storm Peaks
13g 23s and a chance at a Reins of the White Polar Bear
Back to the Pit
Defending Your Title
Maintaining Discipline
Defending Your Title requires a bit of combat, but the Victorious Challengers are not that tough. Otherwise, it’s using items and vehicles.

Thrusting Hodir’s SpearStorm Peaks
16g 53s – 500 rep with Sons of Hodir
This is my favorite daily. It takes a bit of time to figure out the mechanics — checkout the comments on Wowhead for good strategies — but once you do it’s still fun and challenging every day.

King of the MountainIcecrown
13g 23s – 250 rep with Valiance Expedition
This quest is more like a puzzle than anything. Can Jumpbot make it up the mountain?

The grand total is just over 109 gold, and almost nothing had to be slowly smited to death! I guess I have no excuse now…


Guild DPSer talking about Sarth 3D: “There should be some kind of big raid warning for void zones.”
Me: “There is.. it’s the giant bright blue swirly on your screen.”

Consistently killing the second drake now, so we just have to master the 20 seconds after that. I’m trying to not get the troops’ hopes too high, but I feel reeeeeeally good about next week.

Evil for Naxx (/mindflay)

Evil for Naxx (/mindflay)

Last night was our first “alt-friendly” raid in Naxx, and it was a blast. We had holy paladins tanking bosses, new characters in greens walking out with half a dozen upgrades, and I switched roles with one of our shadow priests and went DPSy for the night.

I’ve never raided as Shadow. I did two heroics the night before as practice, but otherwise what little experience I’ve had has all been questing solo. I have always been a big advocate of reaching the hit cap for our DPS, and over the past couple of weeks I picked up a couple of good pieces in Naxx and enchanted, gemmed, and buffed for hit. I zoned in feeling pretty dang slick with my 160 hit until my shadow priest compatriot informed me that the new cap is 290. Oopsie. First noob moment.

For those who don’t know, shadow priest DPS seems to be more of a priority system than a strict rotation. Personally, I just made sure that all three of my DoTs were up and Shadow Word: Death and Mind Blast were on cooldown, and then Mind Flayed until something needed refreshing. There are probably more nuances to the shadow priest priority system, but that worked for my first raid. On trash, Mind Sear is brutally overpowered and I love it. I was #2 on damage during the pre-Heigan “not gauntlet”. Me. Number 2. It made me giggle.

My UI is all wrong for DPS. When you heal, a boss is almost incidental. It’s the source of damage, but really your whole UI is oriented around the status of the raid at any given time. For DPS, of course, the health and activity of the boss is paramount, so my user frames were sort of backwards. I had a DoT timer, but a more general cooldown timer mod would have also been useful. And without keybindings I ended up staring at my action bars all night, which means I was not only one of those dreaded clickers, but also, yes, that jerk who stands in Rain of Fire.

My output, while not awesome, was not the hideous embarrassment I anticipated. I enjoyed the DPS epeening of Patchwerk for once, and ended up in the top ten for that fight. (Yes, as long as I don’t have to move or talk or look at anything, I can do.. almost adequate damage.) I also managed to almost kill myself on Loatheb by merrily SW:Ding away — thanks to our healing crew for covering my butt — and I DID kill myself on Gluth by SW:D right after Decimate hit. It was not my finest moment. (“Oh RIGHT. That spell.”)

It’s back to Holy tomorrow for Sarth 3D and an Undying attempt, but this experience has definitely whet my appetite for dual specs. I think my guild hasn’t seen the last of Evil Raiding Liore.

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