Monthly Archives: August 2010

Idealizing

I woke up unhappy today for a variety of reasons (none involving WoW). As I struggled to find something to take my mind off of the things that were poking at it with sharp sticks, I eventually settled on my usual scapegoat: World of Warcraft.

But I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ran circles around Dalaran on my druid checking for Schools of Magic book spawns. Three left. They don’t exist. I contemplated queuing for a random dungeon for my daily allowance of frost badges. I toyed with the idea of logging my 73 paladin and queuing for things there…I thought about switching servers to play my blood elf paladin…

And I realized – not for the first time – that most of my characters are either tank of healers. Those that aren’t are either solely damage-dealing classes or had leveled as a tank or healer and switched at 80 to DPS. I’ve long believed that healing and tanking require a very special kind of person to do correctly, let alone to do well. Am I that kind of person, really?

In my rantings about stupid people I probably come across as severely impatient. I’m not. I spent two semesters working with mentally disabled children as a classroom aid. You do not understand patience until you deal with autism, learning disabilities, drooling, screaming, and otherwise migraine-inducing behavior without ever jamming freshly sharpened pencils in your eyes. The ability to take a deep breath, smile, and rework a problem for the umpteenth time is a great measure of patience and the greatest measure of a man. Those who treat even the most severely disabled of people with respect and understanding are our most highly valued and under-paid modern super heroes. I quit that job this morning, due to being a full-time student once more, but the lessons it afforded me are not something that will vanish with time (unlike most of my foreign language skills…).

So yes, I am patient. I may go into fits of berserker rage inside my head, but they rarely, if ever, make it beyond my frontal lobe. I do my very best to confront problems when they arise instead of immediately smashing faces in. If I may provide an example: a few days ago I was running my Alliance paladin through Azjol-Nerub for the tanking ring that drops off of Anub’arak. It had dropped once before and a rogue took it. Being something of an OCD completist, I often refuse to move on from one dungeon until I have gotten every last bit of loot I need from it. Sure I was angry. Some dolt rolled on loot he didn’t need and which I could have used. But Azjol-Nerub is short and quick and relatively painless, so I had been queuing endlessly in hopes of snagging the ring for myself. I was placed in a group with a death-knight who, from the get go, was rubbing my frayed nerves raw. He death-gripped the first set of mobs before we’d even buffed up and I rushed in to taunt and save his stupid ass. Figuring everybody hits the wrong button now and again, I didn’t say anything. But he did it again, so I politely asked him to please stop death gripping. He did it again. Now even the other group members were bitching at him. He finally read party chat and said he wouldn’t do it again. He said he was playing on his friend’s account while he friend slept. Personally I think he was just an idiot trying to siphon blame to an imaginary friend. Anyway, he did little more than auto attack and cast the occasional disease through the rest of the instance, and the group was polite enough to explain the bosses to him. When Anub’arak finally died, the ring dropped. I knew it would. It always does when there is someone in the group I suspect will ninja loot. Sure enough the death knight rolled need. When he won, several people including myself tried to explain that since he was not the tank, the ring should probably be given to me. He said he wanted it for another character (I thought this was your friend’s account, dipshit?) and then left the group.

People like that are in endless supply. Some great big infected cunt belches them out in the bowels of hell somewhere, and for some unholy reason we end up with their kind in mass quantities. Always ready to take what they cannot use, forever ignorant of social expectations and acceptable interactions. It makes me mad, yes, but I was never once impolite to him. I, and others, attempted to explain that it was a tanking ring, he was not the tank, and that it was impossible to give that ring to his “other character”. Apparently logic and decency were too much for his underdeveloped brain, because he left without a word. Who cares about your reputation as long as you got the loot you wanted, right?

Endless patience. Without it any healer would go insane and any tank would split his skull on his own sword. There is no reprieve from asshats who, without remorse, terrorize the skilled community with nonsense like that above. Why would anyone want to tank or heal for those who cannot, will not, play fair? Are the rare few gifted with common courtesy and decency really enough to get us through a day of randoms with attention-starved, foul-mouthed, ignorant little shits who insist that they, above all others, are correct and good and infallible? No.

But we do it anyway, because we’re us. We’re tanks. We’re healers. We make our mark by keeping idiots alive regardless of what fire they stand in. We taunt mobs off of them when they pull aggro because they didn’t understand that yes, you can taunt a target off the tank. We remind them when they forget and correct them when they mess up, because if we don’t then our job gets that much harder. When everyone else is obsessing over DPS meters and gear scores, we put our heads down and focus on one thing: getting through alive. Not just ourselves, but the whole group. Everyone.

And we get no thanks for it. When things go right, we are invisible. When things go wrong, we stand in a glaring red spotlight and take criticisms and insults with quiet aplomb, all the while festering underneath. We seek only the barest minimum in reward. Perhaps this time our trinket will drop. Maybe this time we’ll have a shot at that belt. And when the boss is dead and we wipe blood and sweat from our eyes only to see the idiot DPS who died twice during the fight and spent half the instance AFK rolling on loot that is clearly itemized for us, we despair. Maybe we rage a little. Maybe we just stop caring.

But we don’t stop tanking, and we don’t stop healing. That’s why at the end of every instance, I /bow to my tank or healer.

To anyone who’s ever assumed the responsibilities of a tank or a healer, to anyone who has ever attempted to lead a group, to anyone who has ever bowed their head, gritted their teeth and soldiered on for the good of the whole, to anyone who has ever dived on falling health bars or thrown themselves on a wayward mob….thank you.

Random Thoughts on LFG System

I like the idea of the LFG system holding players accountable for their own actions. It’s had a few minor upgrades to help it towards this function, but it isn’t enough in my opinion. People can still basically behave however they want, with zero accountability. Whether they feel like taking an item they can’t use, pulling mobs at random, or purposefully wiping the group, there is very little outside of the vote-kick system to discipline their behavior.

I can think of at least a thousand different situations in which one player wrecked a group, and nothing could be done about it. Players who choose to be stupid five second after a group has formed cannot be kicked. You’re stuck with them until fifteen minutes have passed, and in that fifteen minutes they’ve effectively destroyed your faith in humanity. I understand why the fifteen minute rule was implemented. Assholes who vote to kick players who don’t have a 10k gear score are just as bad as assholes who pull and wipe the group. But the fifteen minute rule is, in my opinion, no more of a solution than it is a problem.

Exhibit A. A random Slave Pens group. We zone in. One guy says “I’m gonna wipe the group k?” and proceeds to run ahead and pull all of the makrura and the two groups of naga slave drivers in the first room. We hadn’t even buffed yet. Luckily no one was stupid enough to try to follow or save his ass, because he died on the other side of the room and the mobs reset. We tried to vote kick, only to be met with the fifteen minute rule. We we extremely fortunate that this idiot dropped group about a minute later – presumably when he couldn’t find his way back to the instance, as he never did resurrect himself.

But what if he had? What if we’d been stuck with this sorry excuse of a griefer for the next fifteen minutes? The only solutions I can think of are to either disband the group entirely (“sorry guys, it’s not with the trouble”) or report him to a GM and attempt to make the best out of a wipe fest waiting to happen. Neither are solutions I find to be acceptable. The problem: Truly bad players CANNOT be removed from a group until fifteen minutes have passed.

How did that make it past all of Blizzard’s collective common sense and survive to be implemented? It’s great that gear-obsessed freaks cannot kick lesser geared players off the bat, but what about the rest of the vote-kicks, the ones that deal with players who are truly out to ruin our fun? It’s fairly distressing to know we are at the mercy of some idiot for fifteen minutes.

Also distressing is how few people out there will actually man up and vote kick players who are intent upon behaving poorly. I don’t care if Blizzard is tracking how many times I am involved in a vote kick. I will gladly take another tally mark by my name in order to rid myself of grief in a random group. That said, I’m not a compulsive vote-kicker. I usually try to solve the problem verbally by asking why a player is doing something and then explaining why it shouldn’t be done. I have found this doesn’t work as well as it should. Some people are just new and don’t understand that generally you don’t roll need on loot you can’t wear or that generally the tank pulls, not the mage. And sometimes these people are apologetic and cease the offending behavior. Great! But what about the people who shove a wasp’s nest up their rear and refuse to listen to anyone’s reasoning, who keep doing what they’re doing and giving the rest of the group a giant middle finger? I opt for a vote-kick. I contend that there is never a reason to be a jackass to people in a game. If your life is that pathetic, you are better off finding a 6′ by 2′ wooden box and crawling inside.

People would rather “just get through” a group that fix it. And if the offending player is a tank, all bets are off. No one wants to wait twenty minutes to replace a kicked tank. They’d rather just slog through the rest of the instance and pray the idiot doesn’t ninja the loot they want. I’m not content with that solution. It takes far too long to find a new tank or healer in the LFG system. When a group with a dungeon in progress has to replace a player, they should be moved to the front of the queue. Maybe they are already, but the wait times suggest they go to the back like everyone else.

What about people who queue as a tank or healer just to avoid the wait time? Exhibit B. Another random Slave Pens group. We zone in. Death Knight tank (*collective sigh*). Pulls the first makrura group and then says “can someone else tank?” The retribution paladin hesitantly suggests he will try. I couldn’t help but ask why he would queue as a tank and then refuse to tank, even though I already knew the answer. His response: “im srry”. Couldn’t vote-kick this loser in order to find a real tank because, of course, there is a fifteen minute rule. So the retribution paladin (brave little toaster, he was) put on his biggest set of balls and took us through the dungeon. He had no tanking gear. I was skeptical. He did just fine. Idiot Death Knight non-tank kept death gripping. I vowed that if we wiped just once, for any reason, I would vote-kick. I was a little depressed when we didn’t wipe.

There needs to be a “replace” feature in the LFG system. If a player is not performing their role AT ALL, you can choose to replace them. It doesn’t remove them from the group. It plops you in the front of the queue and when it finds a suitable person to replace your idiot with, it swaps them. Viola. Idiot is gone, new person takes their place. Replacing a player shouldn’t be a mark against the players who initiated it. It should be a mark against the person who was replaced. Somewhere in the data catacombs of Blizzard, it should put a little flag next to the player who was deemed piss-poor at their job.

There needs to be a way for players to proactively bench other players who are truly horrid. Players who simply cannot interact appropriately with anyone, players who cannot perform their selected role, players who exist only to cause problems for others. I would like to see the LFG system take a bit more control of the situation. Say a player is vote-kicked once, for any reason. They receive a mark against them. This mark has a duration of…I don’t know, for argument’s sake let’s say about 5 hours. The player is not effected by the mark unless they receive another. If, after five hours, they have not been vote-kicked again, the mark runs out and nothing happens. However, if they are kicked from another group during that five hours, another mark is applied and the duration is refreshed. Now things start to heat up. The marks stack up to (again, for the sake of argument) five stacks. At two stacks the player has a longer queue time (which may discourage him from queuing). At three stacks, his queue time increases. At four, he may eventually find a group but he cannot roll on loot of any kind. At five stacks, he is temporarily banned from using the LFG feature and may not zone in to dungeons of any kind. This lasts, let’s say…24 hours.

That isn’t saying that is something that should be implemented; my argument is that something should be. Players who behave poorly should be punished. They should be given a chance to shape up, or they should be removed from the rest of us who play well with others. Right now, there is very little incentive for idiots to play fair. So what if they are kicked from their group? They still won the roll on that item they can’t use, and their queue time is barely effected anyway.

On the topic of queue times, I would love to see something done about them. I understand completely why they are shorter for tanks and healers (rarer) and much longer for damage dealing players (much more common) but that doesn’t mean I like it. I enjoy a seconds-long queue on my tank and healer characters, but I languish in 30+ minute queues on anyone else. To that end I usually level my characters as tanks or healers, which is nice and stuff but it gets old fast. I like variety. I want to tank something, then hop over to another character and blast it to death with fire. Then hop over again and heal something. I would like to see some way of evening out queue times. I have no idea how that could be accomplished.

First off, no one wants to tank or heal. There are a few nut jobs out there, like me, who love to heal and tank and wouldn’t have it any other way. But the vast majority don’t want to have the weight of the group on their shoulders. I don’t blame them. The second something goes wrong, the tank or the healer get blamed. Usually one by the other. And as soon as they start fighting, the group falls apart and someone leaves and then they’re stuck in an infinite queue all over again. Few people want to be the tank and have the entire group watching their every move and have to contend with DPS who can’t control their aggro and hunters who won’t turn off pet growl and Death Knights who death grip away from them and healers who don’t understand that standing around doing nothing is a problem. And few people want to be the one having to frantically bash their keyboards in hopes that the rapidly dropping health bars will somehow refill, begging the squishy mage not to attempt to tank again, or stubbornly contending that a wayward pet is not their responsibility. It’s not everyone’s idea of fun, and I get that. The problem, however, is that fewer tanks and healers creates longer queue times for everyone else. I’m hoping that, with copious amounts of changes to both class dynamics and the earlier onset of dual spec, this situation will change come Cataclysm.

Finally, as an addendum to the excessive queue times any DPS must face, I would love to see some sort of grace period should you by chance disconnect or accidentally (somehow) leave the queue. I have all but given up on leveling my 70+ DPS characters because lately my internet has been acting like a strung out junkie on the fritz. I spend 30 minutes in the queue, I can see my group is almost ready, and then…I disconnect. It’s a cry-my-eyes-out moment when I just put my head down on the keys and sigh. Eventually I log back in and start the whole thing over again. I would like to see a bit of forgiveness here. Perhaps if you leave the queue, for any reason, you have one minute to get your butt back in line and save your spot. Sixty seconds is more than enough time for a disconnected player to dive back online and skid back into the queue. It would be a welcome addition for DPS trying to level via the dungeon finder, which gets less and less viable the higher level you get. You can spend 30 minutes in the queue and hope you can complete a dungeon, or you can spend 30 minutes of solid questing and get double the experience you would in a random dungeon.

Over all, I think the frequency of inadequate (to put it mildly) players needs to be addressed. A vote-kick needs to actually mean something. Players who are repeat offenders need to be punished somehow. Whether it’s something mild, like a delay in the time they can re-queue, or something more dramatic such as outright banning them from the LFG system for a period of time, I feel something needs to be done.

Things I Have Learned Playing a Warlock

The warlock class was my first true love in the world of Warcraft. Sure, I piddled around with other classes to begin with, before I had any inkling of what was going on or how to play. I failed at being huntarded, I was dumbfounded by druids, I poked warriors for a little while. But nothing grabbed me quite like the warlock. Curses, fire, explosions, terror…it just meshed with my own desires and off I went, burning the world one zone at a time back in the days of Vanilla WoW.

Unfortunately, after many sordid adventures, I shelved the warlock. My best friend in the real world played an Alliance druid, and while I swore fealty to the almighty Horde I could not shake the desire to play with her. So goodbye, warlock friend, and hello old and neglected night elf druid. Who is now my main. Heh.

I eventually deleted my old cast of Horde characters, level 63 warlock included, but to this day I still associate myself with warlocks from time to time. As much as I love my druid, I crawl back to the dark side every once in a while. I started a gnome warlock (about as far from an undead warlock as you could get) and fiddled around from time to time, relearning the class as I went. It’s been so long since I had played a warlock (thing beginning of the Burning Crusade expansion) that I had much to learn about flinging curses. It’s been a lot of fun reliving what feels like the very beginning of my fun in WoW. I have learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way, such as…

Most lower level tanks cannot keep aggro when you Rain of Fire. Whether it’s because they lack the necessary spells to hold AoE threat, or the skills to use them effectively, they just can’t seem to do it. Sad but true. I should probably hold off on the devastation. Not doing so has gotten my face pounded in on more than one occasion.

Don’t stand in fire. Unless you are creating the fire. Subsequently, you can die from your own Hellfire.

Most things will die too fast in a group setting to allow you to get your full host of DoT spells up. Most things die so fast I can’t even get one DoT up, much less a sluggish shadow bolt or incinerate. Rain of Fire is looking mighty good…

Oops. No, don’t Rain of Fire. Sorry.

Felguard is a nice friend and all, but he likes to chase tail.  I don’t mean pretty succubi. I mean mobs. Half way across an instance we haven’t cleared yet. Best explanation I have for angry groups after the chaos is “sorry…” Damn thing needs to be fixed!

Most people have no idea how to use a soulstone. I don’t know how they missed the memo on this ancient game mechanic…but they did. Nine times out of ten, when I soulstone the healer, they release their spirit anyway. The one time I do not soulstone the healer, I will very likely get called out on it.

The healer isn’t always the best candidate for a soulstone! Shamans can self-resurrect and if they are worth their salt, they will have the reagents to do so. I have soulstoned the tank before at the healer’s request because he was apparently too damned squishy.

Soul Fire is stupid and needs to go away. It takes too long to cast to be worth the shard, especially when even bosses die in a matter of seconds. Or less.

People like to blame the pet. Hunter pet, warlock pet, doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if the pet never left my side. That wipe is totally his fault. His idle nosepicking aggro’d the boss and forced the healer to stand in the fire. Damned pet!

There is never, EVER, an appropriate time to fear in an instance. I learned this a very, very long time ago. Fear is a PvP or solo tool ONLY. No one cares if you feared a mob and nothing bad came of it. All they care about is the extremely high possibility that your uncontrollably terrified mob will bring back friends. Do. Not. Fear. 🙂

Don’t expect a healer to heal you through vigorous lifetapping. Many healers at the lower levels simply don’t have the mana pool to keep you topped off and heal the tank through incoming damage. As a courtesy to them, remember you have Drain Life available and it does a pretty decent job. Lifetapping in sync with HoT spells is efficient.

Mana problems seem to stem from casting DoTs that are useless. If the mob is at 10% health and you cast Corruption, you’re doing it wrong. One tick of Corruption does not justify the mana cost. What to do for that last 10% then? Rain of Fire would take them down…

Oh right, sorry. No Rain of Fire 😦