/failcheck Expectations of PUGers

This isn’t an “experiment” /failcheck – this is me calling out a clear “fail” that needs to be addressed. Here’s the short version of this post: have realistic expectations of a PUG and address issues when they arise instead of saying nothing.

Here’s the long version: I was talking to a friend of mine in my guild, and she mentioned that one of our fellow officers was constantly posting messages in officer chat along the lines of “these guys are total fails,” I wish they would do their job right,” or “can I cry now because this is so horrible.” (I’m not exaggerating about the “can I cry” part either – he says that a lot). Now, I haven’t been on when this occurred; otherwise, I’d tell him to do something about it or stop talking about it. Annoyed guildmates is the only result you’ll get from moaning and groaning in guild/officer chat about something you can fix.

We are only 8 days into the new expansion, so most of the PUGs you’ll get via heroic queueing (and even regular queueing) are players who haven’t done that dungeon/version of that dungeon yet. Newness of the expansion aside, I was still running into players new to a particular PUG during the final month of WotLK. You will always have the chance of that happening when queuing for a PUG, so get used to it or stop queuing. If nothing else, remember that at some point during your WoW lifespan, you were likely in a similar situation. Would you have appreciated other players being mad at you for not knowing a fight on your first visit to a dungeon?

Of course, there are ways you can prepare for dungeons, and I do agree that some are pseudo-prerequisites to joining a PUG (in my opinion), whereas others are beneficial but aren’t wholly necessary. To generalize my opinions, I feel a game should be fun and shouldn’t require outside sources to be fun, but knowing the ins and outs of a game itself is important. For example:

  • There are millions of resources on the internet that can prepare you as much as possible for a fight before doing it, but WoW is first and foremost a game. I feel I can safely say that Blizzard has never and will never release a game designed to force you to research encounters before doing them. There will inevitably be trial-and-error wipes, but that’s how games have been for a long time (“how do we kill Bowser on this level? Well, let’s try this…”).
  • Gear is a prerequisite in my eyes. If it wasn’t, then Blizzard wouldn’t have set a minimum iLevel for players to meet before having access to the heroic dungeon queue. There are some WoW players who don’t put much/any effort into gearing up for heroics, and it tends to ruin the fun for your fellow PUGers when you’re one of these people. After all, it’s one thing to wipe because you don’t quite know and encounter yet. It’s another thing entirely to wipe because your gear is so insufficient that it’s impossible for you to best an encounter (e.g., a  tank wearing WotLK blues/purples is likely going to be unable to successfully tank a Cata heroic). This is what the minimum iLevel is supposed to prevent, but some players are finding ways to cheat the system. One example that I’ve seen is a warrior equipping an intellect/spirit blue ring they got form a quest, simply because it puts them above the iLevel bar.
  • Knowing your class is highly important, and a key feature of the game. Although there’s been some homogenization of class abilities lately, all classes have there own, unique abilities that makes them different than other classes (otherwise, why have classes at all?). You should know what these are, when/how to use them, and why it’s important to do so!

Finally, if you’re in a PUG where someone is failing at something important, then do something constructive about it. As I said before, complaining to your guildmates about a problem you can solve is of no benefit to yourself. Tell your party why what’s happening is wrong and how to correct it. If you can at least do that, and they refuse to listen, then I’m willing to hear your monologue about how you’re in the worst PUG ever. If they try to do the correct method and aren’t quite getting the hang of it, then I’m just going to say “luck of the draw” and tune you out. I stand firmly beside my belief that games should be fun. If other people are ruining your fun intentionally by being stubborn headed about doing things the wrong way, then I sympathize with you. However, if they’re giving their best effort, and you still complain to me about it, then you’re ruining my fun. And that’s no fun (bah dum tsssh?)!

Heroic Lament

Heroic Stonecore, how I hate thee. I’ve successfully completed two heroic Cata dungeons as a tank, and yet I can’t get past Corborus on heroic mode SC. Yesterday evening, my guild’s raid leader invited me to tank for a heroic group he was forming, and I accepted, hoping to have some challenging, but fun attempts at downing a heroic dungeon. After everyone joined the party, I suggested that we do a random heroic, since I hadn’t done my daily random. The group agreed, we queued up, and into heroic SC we went. … And not much further than that.

We cleared Millhouse and his buddies without any real issues, and upon reaching the bottom of the first passage, we were ready to kill some gyreworm. After pulling, we quickly realized that something was amiss, and instead of gyreworm being on the menu, we were on its menu. While reseting, we reviewed the strat, covering the new heroic abilities, and confident that we had the right idea, we charged in a second time. 24+ attempts later, I finally had to tell the group I needed to leave; I had to go to work, and we had yet to get the bloody worm below 600k HP.

After returning from work, I logged on because I still wanted to get in a successful random heroic. One insta-tank queue later, I found myself in… Oh, bloody hell – heroic SC. I expressed my frustration to the party, who reassured me with comments that generally amounted to “we’ve got this – it’s easy when you know the fight.” Now, call me crazy, but when someone makes a comment along those lines, it says to me that they’ve completed the fight before. So, reassured that I was likely with a better group, I reviewed how I was tanking the fight with them, and besides one small adjustment they suggested, I found I was ready to go. We breezed through Millhouse’s folks, and quickly found myself face-to-face with the dreaded worm, once more.

To skip some unnecessary story, I soon found myself recovering from our fourth wipe. Now, to be fair, I normally stick with groups for longer than that, but considering this was nearly my 30th wipe of the day on this horrible fiend, I gave the group my apologies and left the party. I went on to queue again, and thankfully, I found myself being loaded into heroic Throne of the Tides. The trash in here is, without a doubt, extremely difficult – even with CC – but after a couple of painful attempts and wipes, we made our way to Neptulon’s throne to take down Lady Vaz’jar. After some more painful attempts and wipes, working out exactly who needed to CC what and reminding everyone to dodge the tornadoes o’ doom, we got her down. Yes! First heroic boss of the day down! And to make the victory sweeter, the tanking ring Entwined Nereis, dropped! /roll… And here’s my… Huh? The kitty dps won?

Immediately, our healer scolded the bad kitty (heh; had to say it) and told them to give me the ring, saying, “If you want  tank gear, then queue as a tank!” The druid made a half-formed comment along the lines of “I need it too,” then left. Yes, remember the title of this blog post? A lament generally contains few happy moments – lol. After requeueing, we acquired a warrior and went on to down the rest of the dungeon. Several folks got some spiffy gear, and I got my heroic done, but I was left feeling slightly empty inside. That PUG reminded me of why I typically run with guildies… I can trust them (for the most part) to not pull shenanigans like that. Ah well – live and learn, I s’pose.

Have any stories about the new cata dungeons? Feel free to share them below!

/insert “Oooh… Aaah… Cata” title here

As you almost certainly know, Cataclysm has hit the live servers. If you don’t… then do you really love WoW enough to be reading a WoW blog? I’m proud (and sad) to announce that Nehmen has already hit level 82. I’m proud for obvious reasons, but sad because the leveling feels… To easy, I dare say.  Avoiding spoilers, I’ve hit level 82 after doing essentially a 1 1/3 of a zone’s worth of quests, plus two dungeons (To be fair, there was a string of quests involved within BRC, but I had no quests for Throne, so I think it levels out). There are several more zones and numerous dungeons left, yet I’m already well on my way to 83?  That’s too fast for my taste, considering the expansion dropped yesterday!

Besides leveling, I’ve also done more important thing since Cata dropped… I changed my warrior’s race. Leading into Cata, I’d been dreaming of having a Worgen warrior, but after several months of waiting, I heard that Blizz was going to allow race changes to the new races immediately, and I… ahem… let my patience get the best of me and began leveling my warr. Now, after hitting 80 only this past weekend, my previous human warrior is a proud worgen prot warrior, and I’m looking forward to her being my second “main” alt.

On a side note, I like to imagine little tidbits of backstory behind each of my important toons, and for Dämonin (my worgen warr), I imagined it as thus — A freshly 80, hotblooded human warrior… Eager to prove her worth, Tokiko (my warr’s name prior to race change) does some recon on the Forsaken, seeking to carve out a place for herself in the mighty folds of Alliance Heroes. One day, she overhears word of their plan to attack Gilneas, and she sets out to aid the Gilneans in their time of plight. Unfortunately, she could not have anticipated the worgen… While traversing the dark city of Gilneas, she too fell prey to the infectious bite of the cursed invaders. Trapped in a form she loathes, she has taken on the name of Dämonin (she-demon), until she can rid herself of the curse. Author’s note: Yeah, I’m a geek ^_^

Enjoy Cata, in whatever way you can!

/failcheck: The Turkinator

This one was very cut and dry: rather than speculate on the best time to get the achievement “The Turkinator,” I simply tested whether or not a particular time would work well. Originally, I attempted for the achievement on Sunday – as did many other players – and failed. It was simply impossible to keep a good, long turkey killing spree going. However, at the time, there was plenty of talk about the Shattering occurring on Tuesday, so I figured I would attempt early morning, the day after. Few people are on at such a time, and I speculated that most of the players who did log on would be rolling new toons (the new race/class combos). Sure enough, 4.0.03a dropped, and come Wednesday morning, I set out to kill myself a wabbit! … er, turkey. Lots of them. Moving on…

Within a quick couple of minutes, I did indeed have my achievement, and as I suspected, the few people I came across (only two, if I remember correctly) were both human hunters. Test success! Lol

And finally, a parting word: if the Shattering upset you, then don’t focus on what you’re sad you lost! There are many things we all wish we had finished before we lost the opportunity (myself included), but instead of dwelling in things that make you sad, try to find new, exciting opportunities in this new world! Already, I’ve discovered a rather interesting new quest chain in EPL that takes you from the border of WPL/EPL and goes cross-country. Enjoy the patch, everyone.

But I’m too lazy to level cooking!

Just a quick note for those of you who weren’t aware, you can very easily level cooking through the recipes available during Pilgrim’s Bounty. So, if you’re too lazy to level your cooking normally on your alts, then get to your nearest capital city and get cookin’!

Got Boomie? Np

Although I hadn’t intended to mention my alts very much, I feel that today’s story needed to be mentioned:

One of the alts I’m currently leveling is named Nehmend, and she is a holy paladin that I’m leveling (currently level 37) almost exclusively through PUGs. Yesterday, I queued up and swiftly found myself entering the soon to be corpse-filled halls of the Scarlet Monastery’s library. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary from a quick glance at my Grid addon – I saw a druid, shaman, priest, rogue, and myself; we had all the workings for a successful collaboration of a tank, healer, and three dps. So, I rebuffed myself with Seal of Insight, gave everyone Kings (paladins don’t receive Might until level 56 now), and followed my fellow PUGers as they charged into battle. Right away, I could tell something was wrong. The party was taking very large amounts of damage (not a problem, considering pally heals are OP at this level, in my opinion), and I saw… A boomie?

While healing my druid party member, I saw that sure enough, it was a boomkin, and the little shield marker for the tank stood tauntingly next to their name. I hoped they had simply forgotten they were the tank, so I asked in party chat “who’s the tank?” The druid quickly repied, “I am,” so I asked them to please use bear form, which was promptly met by the druid laughing at me and the shadow priest saying, “just STFU and heal. Who cares?” Needless to say, I cared, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked, and after telling them as much, the priest replied, “these dungeons are a joke, and he has an armor buff anyway.”

Begrudgingly, I did just that; I shut up and continued to fill them with plenty of Holy Shocks and Holy Lights. As the dungeon wore on, I found that our party makeup was working after all, but something was still nagging at me – something was still wrong that I couldn’t quite place. After tearing through half of the dungeon, leaving mayhem in our wake, I realized the issue: if I, the healer, wasn’t effective, then they likely would have kicked me… and it probably would’ve worked. I say this because the druid and priest were clearly together on their shenanigans (as evidenced by their support of the idea and their shared server/guild name), and if people were dying from no heals, then a “Kick Nehmend?” prompt probably would be answered with a “yes” by at least one of the remaining dps.

Now, it wasn’t the threat of losing my spot in the party that bugged me (I was confident in my healing ability, after all), but rather the question of “what if a lesser experienced healer where in my place?” Most WoW players, myself included at times, forget that we may be playing with someone new to their class, to their party role, or even to the game itself. With that party, I realized that a new player to WoW likely would have been kicked from the party and likely without an explanation. That’s not fun for anyone and would highly discourage new players of the game. After all of this hitting me an instant, I knew what I had to do: I needed to attempt to send a message to this boomkin by getting THEM removed from party for doing the job the queued for improperly. I had already tried convincing them the normal way, so I knew that would not work, and I wasn’t about to launch into a discussion about inexperienced players (both because they probably wouldn’t have listened/cared and because that would have resulted in our deaths, since they were chain pulling everything), so I was left with only that option.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a vote to even occur due to their chain pulls (you can’t initiate a vote during or shortly after combat, for those who haven’t used this PUG feature before). I did make sure to /ignore them (the druid and priest), so I wouldn’t be partied with them again, but I’ve been left with disappointment that I was unable to do something about this duo of troublemakers. What do you think? I’m interested in hearing other players’ views on how to deal with situations like this.

/failcheck: To guild or not to guild

That is the question! Or, to be more specific, how does being a new player being in a guild from early on affect their growth? I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that being in a guild (or at the very least, having a higher level friend helping you) makes leveling MUCH easier. What concerns me, is that making leveling too easy could lead to stunted growth as a player.

Let’s lay out some scenarios, to get an idea of where I’m coming from:

  • Erin starts playing WoW because her best friend Jamie is an avid player who convinced her to give it a try. After making her first toon, Erin is immediately invited to Jamie’s guild, and Jamie personally sets out to help Erin level. Through the course of leveling 1-80, Erin is helped and/or carried through the struggles of leveling and never really develops a real image of how her class works and becomes dependent on Jamie’s guild. After reaching 80, Erin joins the guild raid team, but because she’s not used to being in a situation where she’s a contributing member of a team, she struggles to find her place amongst the rest of the raid.
  • Sheila starts playing WoW because she saw it in a local store and decided to give it a try. Through the course of leveling from 1-80, Sheila develops a strong sense of how her class works in different situations, where her limitations lie, how to be self-reliant, etc. After reaching 80, she decides she’d like to give raiding a try, makes an honest effort to scrounge up some effective gear, finds a guild with whom she can raid, and ultimately becomes a fine raider, who clearly understands her role and how best to fulfill it.

Now, to be fair, there are countless factors, both seen and unseen, that contribute to a player understanding and becoming good at a game, but for the sake of my hypothesis, I’m assuming that classic “trial-and-error” will lead to a more knowledgeable player. I feel the contrasting argument to my hypothesis would be that it’s easier for a new player to learn by watching skilled players.

Personally, when I leveled Nehmen (Nehmen wasn’t my first toon, but the rogue I had initially created didn’t really click with me, so I deleted her and began anew with Nehmen), I was subjected to both sides. I did regular, hub-based quests almost entirely alone, occasionally grouping up with another similarly leveled player, for group-specific quests. For almost every dungeon I did, however, my friend and guild leader (who convinced me to try WoW) would either lead me through herself or arrange for another guild member to do so.

Since I don’t have a perfect memory, I can’t say I remember every moment of my first couple of months as level 80 (I do remember the last struggle to get to 80, but that’s a story for another time), but I do remember this: I knew almost nothing about Vanilla WoW dungeons and raids. Because I’m an achievement horder, I decided to myself one day “wouldn’t it be easy to get [Classic Dungeonmaster]?” I quickly realized that I knew absolutely nothing about these old instances, and it was only through the careful examination of dungeon maps/guides and good ol’ trial-and-error that I managed to navigate my way through dungeons and pick off the correct bosses for the achievement.

I don’t have the time or materials (two people who don’t play, but are willing to try, WoW) to see an appropriate experiment through on this topic, but at the very least, I find it food for thought. My current method of dealing with new players is thus: don’t. It seems harsh… because it is. And I feel that’s the point; if a new player can make it to 80 by their own force of will, then I suspect they’ll be much better off than if I had carried them there. Muscles get stronger through appropriate workouts, yes?

And for the record, whenever I mention an experiment in a post (which won’t be all of them), I will refer to it as a /failcheck. After all, what is an experiment but a sophisticated /failcheck? Until next time!

First post… after everything else

Gracious, now that I’ve finally gotten a better hold on how this system works and arranged the settings in a somewhat sensible fashion… Welcome to /failcheck! I won’t go into length about who I am or what this blog is about (that’s what the about link is for!), so instead, I shall simply leave this post as is. I’ve officially spent around 2 hours on this, when I should have been sleeping around 1 3/4 ago.