Archive for May, 2009

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Seri sez: Raid Slotting 101

May 28, 2009

Mmmm... therapy.

I’ve recently taking over raid slotting duties for my guild while the GM is away. No one ever promised me a rose garden, but I was honestly a little unprepared for how overwhelmingly lost I felt that first week. I remember turning to a fellow officer when it was done and saying, “I am never. Doing. That. Again.” over the pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream required to lift my spirits. I was convinced I’d publish that first roster and everyone that wasn’t on it would hate me. More, that is.

Well, as it turns out… I hate raid leading more than I hate raid slotting, so building rosters has settled in my lap along with the bevy of other administrative tasks required to keep an officer team running smoothly. (Really, I don’t know what they’d do without my spreadsheets.) I thought I’d use this week’s column to give you a little insight into what goes into a raid roster. Whether your officers make their rosters on the fly based on who’s logged in at raid time or ahead of time based on sign-ups, the same general principles (should) apply.

Tanks and healers are the foundation of the raid, so slot them first. A mix of classes/specs is a good idea, because every class/spec brings unique tools to the table. You want a good balance between tank healing and raid healing abilities, slightly weighted toward raid healing in most cases.

Once you’ve got tanks and healers sorted out, fill out the DPS. Try to maintain a good balance between melee and ranged. Make sure you have enough AOE if the fights you’ll be doing require it. Some guilds will stack more or less melee/ranged on a per-boss basis, but thankfully I don’t really have to worry about that for our group.

Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? Well, it’s not quite that simple. While you’re filling in the DPS you have to keep raid composition in mind. When I say “raid composition” I don’t just mean “melee vs ranged” I mean “make sure every buff/debuff you can cover is covered.” This got a lot easier in Wrath, as many class buffs/debuffs are duplicated between the classes (whether or not this is a good thing or not is a whole other post). MMO Champion has a pretty nice Raid Composition Tool that you can use to help with this.

Yeah, that was the part where I started to get a little wide-eyed. Then I started to consider the human factor… more people than slots, and you don’t want to sit any one person too often during the week (or too many weeks in a row) or they’ll piss in your Cheerios™. What’s more… you want to slot your strongest raiders for the “hard stuff” later in the week but they won’t necessarily be keen on sitting out for the “easy stuff” that comes before it. Nonetheless, everyone has to sit sometimes and I’ve found that by and large folks are pretty understanding about it. Or maybe they’re just afraid of me. One can hope.

Got any tips/tools for raid slotting/stacking to share?

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Jov sez: In Defense of Wacky Specs

May 26, 2009

Last week, one of my priesties (Hai Mira!*) sent me a PM asking for my feedback on some talent changes she was considering.  As anyone who’s read this blog knows, I’m pretty damned opinionated as to how to properly spec.  However, I do also try to keep a (somewhat) open mind to things which might make sense based on current needs, either of the player or of the content.  I’m also willing to give a good bit more thought to something that comes from someone I trust to not be a total mouthbreather, but that’s neither here nor there.

Essentially the gist comes to this:  My little priestie (Hai Mira!**) has been doing research, reading blogs, keeping up on her talents (exactly like I like them to do) and approached me with the thought of using a build first proposed by Derevka a couple weeks ago.  She gave me the build, made certain I had a link to the post, and (re-)explained the reasoning behind the various talents.  Essentially she (HAI MIRA!***) did everything right to break through my consistant knee-jerk reaction to some of the talents she proposes to take/skip and take on faith that she’s experimenting with a plan.

That’s not to say I immediately agreed with her.  Anyone asking my opinion directly is going to get it. The reply I sent back goes like this:

Personally, I’ve never liked Spell Warding, for the reasons you mention. I’ve seen people argue taking it when faced with constant raid-wide unavoidable damage (it was very big in SWP), it seemed very much “drop in the bucket”y vs Greater Heal. Of course, with the death of downranking, I can also understand not wanting to sacrifice points in something which improves a spell you rarely use.

I’ll totally trust your judgment re: GHeal usage vs hope of taking the edge off certain spell effects for better survivability. That’s a personal call.

Re: Healing Focus. I’m just snagging a random WWS to take a look at your spell useage here. (5/7 Ulduar is what I clicked on). Pushback doesn’t matter on your instants (CoH, renew, ProM, etc, which was ~70% of your healing done for the night) but will help with Flash, Greater, and PoH (~30% of your healing done). Again, I know that your spell selection is going to vary by fight.

Summing up my thoughts on the proposed spec change:
1) Spell Warding is very little bang for 5 talent points. It can help on some fights, but I’m personally biased against taking talents which are so very situational, generally speaking.
2) How much are you facing pushback in a given week?
3) If you are needing a greater heal, is the lack of reduced cast time going to hurt? What about the loss of the mana reduction?
4) I understand the logic behind the changes, I only wonder at the applicability.
5) I wouldn’t make the changes myself. However, I fully acknowledge that I am not you, my style is not yours, and my biases are my own. I’m very pro- trying stuff out to see what works. My main issue (which you’ve already resolved) is just following something weird you dug up somewhere and try as the hot new thing without actually giving it thought. I know that doesn’t apply, so consider this the green light. I very much look forward to how this works for you.

See? I can totally be open-minded.

When it comes down to it, some amount of healing is still based on personal style.  If I trust you through reading or personal experience enough to know you know what you’re doing, I’m very capable of acknowledging that some tweaks might not necessarily improve your throughput, but might help you out in other ways.

This is also not the only spec discussion going on in-guild at the moment, as I’m privy to a bit of a disagreement between two people I trust highly in knowing what they’re talking about.  I think it’s somewhat resolved, with a “try both of the specs for a week and give them a fair shot” plan in the works.  I just hope that one can forget the mathbook and the other can give cookie cutter an open mind long enough for the test to be fair.  But we’ll see.

In other news, AXIOM IS STILL RECRUITING! We’re particularly wanting a tree and a holy priest! Trees will get plenty of fertilizer from the streams of BS in guild chat and vent!  Priests!  You’ll get a kick-ass priest crew.  You’ll also down bosses.  Axiom needs YOU!

* Didn’t know I was gonna do this in a post, didja?

** Bet you wish you didn’t say something when I was racking my brain for this week’s post, huh?

*** You’re really gonna kill me, now, aren’t you?

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Seri sez: When the cat’s away…

May 21, 2009

...the mice will play!

Often, the GM is the glue that holds a guild together. A good GM has a steady hand on the rudder and eyes cast ever forward toward the next great adventure/challenge. They are the rock, the foundation… part authority figure, part cheerleader, part strategist and part deviant (or maybe that’s just ours).

Still, GMs are people too. Despite rumors to the contrary, they are not faster than speeding bullets, stronger than locomotives OR able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. (I know, I was disappointed too.) What’s more, they have “real lives” too that sometimes necessitate time away from the game. What’s a guild to do? Or, more importantly, what sort of mischief should officers get avoid getting into in the GM’s absence?

1. Don’t panic.

Even if you normally rely heavily on your GM for day to day stuff, you can get by without them for a little while. Heck, it’s probably good for you (not to mention your GM) to learn how anyway!

2. Keep a normal raid schedule.

Raiding shouldn’t stop just because the GM is away, even if said GM is also your Raid Leader. One of the best feelings any leader can have is knowing that their group can run itself when they’re not around. Feeling like you can’t take a night or a week off without things going to pot is pretty stressful! So tackle that next big boss and make your GM proud. You can photoshop them into the killshot later.

3. Appropriate a guild bank tab to leave each other clever messages.

Woops, wrong list. Moving on…

4. Maintain order and discipline.

Don’t let your raiders run rampant. If a problem arises, deal with it. Don’t let it sit and fester until the GM returns. With that said, be measured in your response. Said GM might be startled and/or dismayed to learn you’ve gkicked half the raid team in his/her absence.

5. When all else fails, nothing beats good old-fashioned anarchy.anarchy

If your GM is gone for 30+ days, you can petition to have the GM power transferred to another officer. (Ok, so that’s not so much anarchy as mutiny, but I found this awesome image…)

Personally, my first orders of business would be to design a new guild tabard, preferably something frilly and pink, then host a guild-bank-funded Bingo night. (Note: If you go this route, be sure your GM has a good sense of humor.)

What advice would you give to a team of officers that are GM-less for a week?

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Jov sez: Search Engine Fail (part 2)

May 19, 2009

I know, you guys are probably thinking I’m such a follower.  After all, Seri did this for Christmas.  But it was MY idea that she stole (like every other good idea she has…) so I feel absolutely zero guilt in stealing it back.  Besides, some of these are really full of wtf’ery, and need to be shared.

  • funny good morning – Obviously you guys have never seen us in the morning.  It’s not particularly funny, unless you think laughing AT us before we’ve had our respective early-morning wake-up beverages is a wise decision with an eye toward future life expectancy.  Let’s just say we’re not morning people and if you don’t want us turning our guns on you, leave it at that.
  • wotlk heroic keys – That information will cost you.  Send 50,000 gold to Joveta @ Scarlet Crusade US and I’ll send you all the heroic keys for this expansion.  *cough*  No, really, there aren’t any.
  • wotlk leveling as disc – Perfectly viable, though doing it as holy is better.  Check out my How2Priest series for more detailed information.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
  • blood elf priest – Well, I suppose you’ve come to the right place.  We’ve both got blood elf priests.  There’s a picture of blood elf priests in the header of our site.  We talk about priests throughout the course of this blog.  I’d say that actually might have come to the right place.
  • warsong offensive quartermaster – There isn’t one, really.  Warsong Offensive is serviced by the Horde Expedition, which is the meta-faction.  The quartermaster is in Warsong Hold in Borean Tundra.  The chick is named Gara Skullcrush (pretty awesome orc name, if I do say so myself).  She’s on the second floor.  If you take the elevator down from the flightpath, she’ll be right in front of you where you get off.
  • shadow priest spell rotation wotlk – Not that kind of blog.  But short answer: VT > SWP > DP > MB > SWD > MF per MaxDPS.com.
  • fissure – This one is Seri’s fault.  You want her void zone post here.  If you’re looking for something else, gtfo this blog.
  • illidan – I’m not entirely certain what’s up with this one.  This is the most consistent hit that  comes here (and has been one of the top searches every week since we started this blog) that doesn’t have “snarkcraft” in the search phrase anywhere.  He’s a fun fight, and an interesting character lore-wise…  but he’s not a contributor to this blog.

I hope that cleared some stuff up, when it didn’t just totally muddy the waters even more.  Apologies for the sudden WoS downtime last week.  We were both laid up sick (I had food poisoning, she had some weird manbirdpig flu or something.)

And finally a personal note:  Axiom is Recruiting! I know there are a lot of guilds out there looking to add members for Ulduar, but if you’re Horde, in a US CST-friendly timezone, and shopping for a guild, you should definitely check us out.  (And while you’re at it, check out the guildie blogs listed to the right in our blog roll, just so you know what you’re getting into.)  Current needs are 1 druid of each type (trees, bears, and boomchicken, oh my!), a holy pally, a holy priest (*nudge nudge*), and 3 ranged DPS of any type.  You can check out our official recruitment post for more information on times, loot, progression, etc., or just mosey on over to our forums to apply.

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Seri sez: It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

May 7, 2009

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator!This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator is now available for iPhone and iPod Touch. (More coming soon, I hope!) I’ve sung the praises of Blizzard’s authenticators before, so I will try not to be more redundant than usual. You might be surprised to hear that I don’t actually own one of those spiffy little dongles, given how passionately I spoke about account security.

What can I say? I’m cheap/lazy. Do as I say, not as I do.

The mobile authenticator, on the other hand… wow, they really ran me out of excuses this time. It’s free (which appeals to my frugal nature), it’s for iPhone (which is the only phone I have, Mr. Seri and I don’t even have a land line) and… did I mention it’s free?

Laziness did win out for a few weeks, but I finally got around to downloading the app yesterday and syncing it with my Battle.net account. It was very easy to set up; once you have the app installed it gives you a unique serial number that you plug into your Battle.net account (click “Change Security Options” after you log in to the Battle.net site) along with whatever the current security code is on the app. That’s it!

Once you’ve synced the app with your account, you’ll be prompted to enter a security code whenever you log in to your account so be sure you keep your mobile device handy. The code changes every 20 seconds or so, so you’ll need to be quick about typing it in before it expires.

This code is technomagical… it’s tied to your serial number in such a way that you can’t just use any authenticator to log in to an account that requires a code. You have to use your authenticator code, the one that’s tied to your authenticator’s serial number, or it just won’t work. For this reason, you have to be careful about doing anything that might change your serial number (deleting the app, restoring the device to factory defaults, etc) unless you log in to your account first and turn off the security setting to require an authenticator code. When you go back to turn it on, it will prompt you for a serial number again. Of course, a Blizzard rep can turn this setting off for you after verifying your identity… which I’m sure wouldn’t cost you more than a few vials of blood, a kidney and your firstborn.

Although Blizzard’s documentation indicates that you must have wi-fi access to use the authenticator, it seems to be working just fine for me over 3G.

I know that I’m probably going to have some ‘incidents’ in the future where I get annoyed with the inconvenience of having to dig my phone out just to log in (and I know for a fact there is going to be a problem with me forgetting my phone on my desk at home when I leave for work in the future) but I tell myself that it’s for the best. It gives me peace of mind, and keeps the grubby little paws of uninvited guests out of our guild bank.

Though, the irony hasn’t escaped me that my Battle.net account is now more secure than my online banking. Excuse me, I think I need to go change some passwords.

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Jov sez: How2Forum Moderate

May 5, 2009

I know it’s not in keeping with the rest of the blog, but the largest chunk of my WoW-time that’s not filled with raiding is probably the time I spend moderating at PlusHeal.  Also, as has been established in an earlier post, I have no life.  (Also known as “Jov’s brain isn’t working, so she’s doing another fluff post” or “It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to.” >.>)

Matt may be pleased as punch that he founded such a popular, high-profile healer’s community.  The downside to that, of course, is the fact that high profile attracts a lot of things, primarily spammers.

work-in-progressPoint out how much work needs to be done

Just like the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the easiest way to become a moderator is to send PM after PM after PM to the owner of the forum pointing him at the most recent spambots.  Then, suggest he do a sweep of the entire member list to weed out undesirables before they become a problem.  You’ll be getting mod privileges in no time!

Is it a spam bot?

Many of these suggestions are probably fairly forum-specific, but you’ll start seeing trends in the spammers to your forum.

Have they posted spam on your forum? Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Go straight to the Control Panel and ban that turkey.

Does their name reference wow gold, viagra, or tamiflu? Probably the quickest and easiest way to spot a spammer is to look at their username.  If it references something you know is for sale (or the drug du jour) you can say with 99% certainty that it’s a spammer.  PlusHeal, being a healer’s forum, sometimes finds users with cute pharmaceutical names, so it’s not a 100% guarantee.  Move on to the next step.

Do they have a webpage listed in their profile? If it links to something that’s not armory, a guild webpage, or a blog, they’re probably a bot.  Don’t click the link if you’re uncertain! Use Google to search for the site in question, it will usually reference what they’re selling or you’ll find a link near the top where the site is specifically said to be linked to a spammer.

Do they fill in the optional fields in the profile information? Often, fora will include a place to fill in your occupation and interests.  Most of the time, people don’t actually fill that stuff out.  Most of the time, spammers do, and they mention stuff that has nothing to do with the forum.  For PlusHeal, specifically, while people don’t include their occupation or interests, they DO fill in the fields for class and server.  Most of the time, if server is not filled in, I know it’s a spammer.  However, like with the healers having pharmaceutical names, it’s not a guarantee

no

Does the email or IP Address show up linked to spam elsewhere? StopForumSpam is my FAVORITE tool as a forum moderator.  It’s a listing of known spammer IPs and email addresses.  It’s fully searchable, and you can look by username, email, and IP Address.

How do I mod like Jov?

Check for Reported Posts in the Moderator Control Panel. Before I do anything else, I check here.  Usually, it will be people reporting spammers, but if a topic is moving to flame war territory, people will usually report those posts as well.  Spammers are first priority, ban them, delete their posts.  If there are problem posts for other reasons, make a note to come back to them later.

Get friendly with the member list. Check the member list sorted by reverse join date (so most recent is on top) and keep mental tags on who has joined since the last time you checked.  Overnight, PlusHeal can have anywhere from 5 to 25 new members, but keep in mind they’ll come in during the day as well.  Go through the steps outlined above on each of the new members.

Don’t forget the inactives! Inactive Users are those who’ve signed up, but haven’t finished the registration process (meaning they’re sitting on the email “please click this link” you get when you first sign up for something.)  Accessed through the control panel, this is another place to weed out spambots.  This adds anywhere from 15-50 users needing to be checked out a night as well.

IP, not email. As everyone knows, there’s pretty much a limitless supply of free email addresses out there.  Banning by email prevents that address from being used to create a new account, effectively preventing the spammer from posting but not from reading (and not from getting a new email address as a work-around).  Banning by IP prevents that IP from accessing the site at all, and IP addresses are a bit more difficult to replace.  Sure, that person who sends out spam might actually want to read your content, but do you really care?

Skim the threads. Or, go back and check the posts reported earlier for things other than spamming.  This is mainly to keep an eye out for disagreements which aren’t resolving or actual flame wars going on.  Luckily, PlusHeal doesn’t really suffer from this, so it’s the smallest part of my jobtime_frame_clip_art

Enjoy the content. Ask or answer questions, go back and look at the interesting stuff, make your guild recruitment pitch.  Don’t get so wrapped up in the job of it that you lose track of why you care so much about it in the first place.

Check back often. Murphy’s Law states that the site will be hammered immediately after you’ve checked it out.  Don’t expect to look once in the morning, and have nothing to deal with until you look again at night.  If you’ve got a free 15 minutes, give it another poke.

I know I said earlier that PlusHeal takes up as much of my time as raiding; I don’t want it to sound like my style of moderation (read: totally OCD) takes up large 4-hour blocks of my time, but that the ~12 hours I spend raiding each week is about equal to the time I spend wading through member lists and forum threads a few times a day, nor do I want to imply that I’m the only person on PlusHeal who does any moderation.  PlusHeal has between 5 and 10 very active moderators, with an additional 5-ish who check back less-often.  So be careful what you ask for; you don’t know what you may be signing up for.

Note:  5/27/09 — I’m disabling all comments for this post.  In an example of irony being totally not amusing, this post is a spam-magnet, and I’m having to delete 10-20 spam comments a day to it.  Considering that otherwise the spam inbox is pretty empty for this blog, I think it’s safer this way.  If you would like to continue discussion on this topic, mosey on down to PlusHeal and send me a PM, or simply give me a poke in another post.  <3 Jov

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