So, I’m addicted to Project Runway. I love that show to pieces, to the point where when I was sick this weekend I sat under a blanket on the couch and watched the entire eleven hours of Season Two of Project Runway Australia. (I also will watch Project Runway Canada, and Project Catwalk (UK). I am not limited by nationality!) I could go on at length about why I enjoy the show so much, but the short version is that I am utterly mystified by a contestant’s ability to take a seemingly impossible task and create fashion art in a few hours. I don’t understand how their creative processes work, and nothing entrances me quite like a process I don’t understand.
While watching hours of fashion-based TV has not made me any more chic, it has actually taught me a few things about life. It is with that in mind that I give to you:
Raid Leading, Project Runway Style
Make it work!
Okay, okay, you probably saw that one coming a mile away, but it’s true. Sometimes despite everyone’s best intentions you end up with 24 people online, one raid tank, and 9 healers. Or maybe you’re just having one of those nights where everyone has a case of The Dumb. What do you do? Pull up your bootstraps, and just make it work. Kill what you can and try to not get too bogged down in negative vibes. Do the weekly raid quest, or Sarth-3D for mounts, or break into 10s groups. Take a 5m break and give people an opportunity to shake out the sillies. Just.. make it work!
Use your mentors
The contestants on Project Runway are usually very focused designers who are confident in their vision. However, the best of them will still stand back and really consider the feedback from their Mentor. Accepting the wisdom and experience of someone else doesn’t lessen their strong approach or skills. When you feel your raid strategy is getting stuck in a rut, solicit feedback from your “mentors” in the guild. Ask your fellow officers, ask any class/role leads, ask your tanks.. sometimes when I am just not sure what is blocking us I’ll ask the whole raid on Vent for their feedback. A fresh perspective often helps, and asking for feedback doesn’t diminish your confidence as raid leader.
Don’t be afraid to be unique
If there is one single piece of advice that I think the Mentors give more than anything else, it’s that a design is too safe. Contestants are encouraged to be unique, be creative, and be true to themselves. The same can be said for your raid team! Don’t get hung up on what The Joneses are doing. Unless you are in a guild with a mandate of being Top 100 or whatever (in which case good on ya!), your world ranking doesn’t really matter. Let your raid be true to itself — how is it doing in comparison to how it did last week? Or last month? Or last expansion? It’s okay — actually, no, it’s GREAT — to expect improvement and progression, but it should be within the scope of your guild and its stregnths and weaknesses, not what Premonition is doing this week. I have a tough time with this one myself, for what it’s worth.
Look at your strategy with an editing eye
The second most frequent critique I hear on Project Runway is that an outfit is too overworked. It has sequins and flowers and lace and cutouts and shoulder pads and a giant bustle and and and and… resulting in a big ol’ mess. The same can be said for picking a raid strategy. I admit this one could be chalked up to personal preference, but I am huge on simplifying boss strategies as much as possible. Don’t assign everyone their own unique spot to run to after BQL fears — just emphasize spatial awareness and spreading out. A more simple strategy will be easier to translate to different raid groups and different raiders. Of course, adopting strategies like this one require more practice, which is the other half of this concept. Don’t be fussy and change things on every pull. Sometimes you just have to decide on a strategy and give it a good number of tries for people to master the bare bones.
Use the accessories wall thoughtfully and strategically
No, wait — scratch this one.
In short, Tim Gunn can lead my raid anyday. Call me!
So the ICC raid buff was released in today’s patch. Ugh. Too fast, too fast, too fast.
I HATE the new raid paradigm of making raids easier and pushing them out faster. It lessens the sense of accomplishment when you kill a new boss. I have written rants on this before, but WotLK has been all about messin’ with the middle-of-the-road guilds like mine. I can’t enjoy killing normal mode bosses, because it’s not “real”. And I can’t enjoy killing hard mode bosses, because we’ve already done 70% of the fight on normal mode, so it’s not “real” either. I bolded that because it really deserves emphasis. What exactly motivates me to keep raiding?
This system is just stressing out dedicated raiders, and most guild leaders I know are tearing out their hair. I feel under pressure to make us progress faster than ever before so we can “keep up”, and yet people are burning out and quitting faster than ever before because farming four versions of Jaraxxus each week (back when ToC was the top raid) is boring as hell.
Not to mention Blizz has completely screwed over guilds in so many ways in LK. I see so many posts that say, “Why should I bother getting a guild? I can pug raids and groups.” Even more so with this buff and the subsequent versions! (True, we can turn this buff off, but will most guildies approve? A quick straw poll this morning showed that most of my officers want to keep it, seeing as we’re “behind” and there’s no tangible benefit to removing the buff aside from some pride. Argh.)
Sorry, I know I’m ranting, but MAN this expansion has just made me really angry at WoW. Guilds are, I would argue, the number one source of player retention. How many people keep logging on for the people they play with, instead of logging on for the sheer joy of the game? I see folks say all the time that they would quit except for their friends online. And yet Blizzard seems pretty insistent on making running a moderate raiding guild as difficult and unpleasant as possible.
Stop rushing us, stop nerfing our team’s sense of accomplishment. Take your pity buff, Blizzard, and shove it up your collective bottoms.
Look, let’s just put this in big bold letters up front so everyone knows where I stand: DO NOT NERF PLAGUE WORKS FOR A LONG TIME. Thank you.
I should hasten to add that we haven’t killed any of the three new bosses yet, so I am hardly speaking from a position of uber superiority. In fact, we wiped to Festergut 11 times on Tuesday, getting him as low as 3% once. And when we kill him tonight, as I suspect we will if everyone is on the ball, it will feel really good.
Everyone who has ever raided knows how good a first boss kill can feel. That rush is proportionate to how much work you put in to killing him. I remember after five weeks of slogging away on Kael, I literally teared up when he finally died. That feeling when the boss you’ve been banging your head against falls down and Vent erupts in cheers — that’s the rush of raiding. I like to improve my character and hang with my friends, but that boss kill is the real kernel of raid satisfaction.
That satisfaction has been sorely missed by “average” raid guilds such as mine.
Oh sure, there are Heroic modes, and we do a fair number of them. Some are unique fights in their own right, like Sarth-3D, and very challenging. But most are just the same old boss you have already fought three different ways, only with everything scaled up. I killed Gormok in normal 10s, heroic 10s, normal 25s, and now I can kill him while he hits the tank for 40k? Awesome. I mean, I’ll do it, but it’s not very interesting.
Meanwhile, normal modes in ToC-25 were so easy that we were clearing the place in an hour by our third run. I remember when we would be all excited to get a screenie of us standing around the corpse of a new boss, but with ToC it was hard to feel like we’d actually done something until we just finished the place. Even the first wing of ICC was a little underwhelming, at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, the boss mechanics are interesting, the setting is neat, and I get to shackle things, but none of the kills gave that sense of accomplishment.
Then along came the Plague Works. It was incredibly fun: fresh new content, and a boss that at our level requires solid concentration, effort, and teamwork from everyone involved. Our team has been buzzing since Tuesday, too. People are analyzing the raid logs, posting on the strategy threads, and shoring up any holes in their gear. There are places to go and things to kill.
Back in TBC we were very happy to have a new boss down every two weeks. Fourteen days! And we liked it! I understand that Blizzard wants to get away from elaborate fights like our five week effort to kill Kael’Thas, and I’m not entirely opposed to that. But give us some challenge. Give us a reason to be good (and get better) at what we do. Give us the occasional morsel of fresh content that we can’t just brute force into the ground, and I suspect that you, my dear Blizz, will find many satisfied customers. For the moment, I am one of them.
So yesterday I wrote a little mini-manifesto to the guild, although I don’t think it was very shocking. It was just basically reminding people that 3.3 is here, and it was time to buckle down and knock this last raid instance out of the park.
The raiding in 3.2 was so terrible that I felt bad marching people through achievements and hard modes. I stood in that room three nights a week at least (25s and 10s), and even my infamously unlimited resources of guild cheerleadering were being taxed. It was pretty easy to just wipe out ToC, Ony, and VoA in 90 minutes and then tell everyone to go do something fun. Plus, some people don’t really dig achievements, and get a little shirty when they wipe for an hour to get some flashing lights and a noise that they don’t care about anyway. (Side note, but to those people I say, “Suck it up, buttercup.” You don’t like it, go talk to Blizz and tell them their new raiding paradigm is stupid. Bosses don’t matter any more, per se. It’s all about achievements and hard modes. Personally, I like it.)
Anyway, previously the time requirement was a huge block to our competitive progress as a guild. As it stands now though the time demands of raiding are greatly diminished. After the holidays we will be raiding 9 hours a week (three nights at three hours) which should handily cover farming, progressing, and achievements. And no, server ranking isn’t everything, but it’s somewhat satisfying to see your guild name in lights, and it DOES help a lot with recruiting.
Without that time limitation, competitive progression relies upon player skill, teamwork, gear, and proper motivation from the gal upstairs… oh crap! That’s me! Hence the manifesto. So we started off our new achivement-happy stance by picking off “On A Boat” and “I’ve Gone and Made a Mess” on our second clear of ICC. The latter took a little strategy and a few wipes, and the former was chaos and madness and chanting “shootit shootit shootit shootit” at the cannoneers. The result of our little adventures?
Which, you know, doesn’t actually MEAN that much, except that we are a guild of determined spazzes with a rocket pack fixation. As a pally said, “WTF are other guilds doing right now? Underwater basketweaving?” All it took was a little motivation and 45 minutes of patience from the team, and we saw results unlike those we’ve ever seen before.
So to all you other ‘casualcore’ guilds out there: You don’t need time to be recognized as badass! This is kind of the dawn of our era. Knock that 3.2 lethargy out of your head, go forth, and achieve. As Newton — or was it Ghostcrawler? — said, a guild in motion tends to stay in motion.
So 3.2 is here, probably a little earlier than we anticipated, and it is still making me cranky. (Cranky enough to not blog, but not cranky enough to stop playing!) Allow me to summarize:
- Oracle pet!
- Adorable raptor pets with giant heads!
- New dailies!
- Raid timer extensions!
- Too many raid settings. Four different versions of Wyrms is not actually four different bosses.
- Three different types of T9. Some need badges. Some need general tokens. Some need class specific tokens. Some need tokens AND badges. I need a flowchart.
- The armor is still ugly. If you’re going to make all clothies wear the same style of gear, at least give us a rad menacing warlock design!
I kind of know what Blizz was doing, at least in part, and I appreciate that new recruits will be able to gear up faster now on their own and get to T8/T9 readiness without us having to run them through Naxx. Still, as one of my guildies said on patch day, the fact that you get three Conquest tokens from three bosses in the new 5-man really devalues the badges we’ve gotten so far in 25-man Ulduar (25 man regular, not 25 man Heroic hahahahahah oh man where am I).
Oh, and the bugs have been outstanding, although that’s to be expected with a patch and doesn’t really bother me. Our server was dead for most of patch day, and last night in Ulduar we had the awesome quintuple bots bug on XT. I’m not sure if everyone found them so amusing, but the sight of an ocean of bots swarming towards us — and the associated cries of panic on Vent — kept me giggling for the next hour. Never have I wished so badly to be DPS and on Mind Sear duty.
Anyway, on the guild front we have been toying with P3 of Yogg, and with the raid timer extension I feel pretty confident that we’ll get him down by next weekend. Then I think we’ll focus on hardmodes and dabble a bit in the new Colosseum. I admit my 21 shards and I selfishly hope the guild spirit is still up to learning Three Lights in the Darkness.
I suppose I can’t really complain too much. Summer doldrums are over, there’s some new content to be had, and I have bets with friends over which one of us will be asked to leave Blizzcon first. And, hey, at least T9 won’t make me look like a paladin.
Look, I try to be nice and not complain about stuff too much, particularly stuff on the PTR. But the Tier 9 graphics.. in all sincerity, this pushes me to flip out in despair more than anything else I’ve ever seen. All armor classes look alike.
I am going to look just like a mage and a warlock. In our raid of nine different classes, there will be 4 different armor designs. Is this supposed to make us excited? I remember getting my Prophecy Robes in MC and feeling like a “real priest”. Even before the arrival of TBC I yearned for the T5 wings, and I admit my eyes watered a bit when I finally got them. T6 had the hood and shoulders of justice, and currently Liore is strutting around in a T8 ninja mask, which is entirely pleasing.
Call me vain, call me shallow, but I like Liore to look good. And this.. this is not good.
And don’t give me that lame RP excuse nonsense that, “we’re in an army now, we have uniforms”. First, nice decision to suddenly plead realism as we JOUST our way to Arthas. Secondly, I have to spend enough time looking like everyone else in real life as part of the office worker army, thanks. I really don’t care to do that in a game. And finally.. Liore the elf character is an anti-authoritarian fabulously sassy priest, and she doesn’t wanna wear a uniform. Yeah, take that RP excuse.
You know what? I’m feeling stubborn and reactionary this morning, but I’m not doing it. I’m not going to take any T9, if I even go to the Colosseum at all. Hopefully there will be offset gear, and if there’s not then I’ll just heal the whole damn thing in my Ulduar gear, and I’ll still rock. I. Am not. A mage. I’m not even a caster! And I won’t even get started on how my DK friend feels about looking like a PALADIN. It’s not pretty.
3.2 in general is just making me nuts, although I’m trying to not think about it too much while everything is still in flux on the PTR. Why are they bringing out another raid instance so soon? It feels cheap and rushed, with us locked in a big empty room with a big empty monster, wearing identical clothes. (And yes, I know the spoiler for the end of the instance, but still.) Oh, and more priest nerfs. And multiple overcomplications of the raid lockout system.
Really, really not impressed.