Archive for August, 2010

Raid livelog

This is a recount of yesterday raid as it happened. I tought it would be fun to take some notes of my tought process during the raid and add some commentary. Times might be a little off but it doesn’t matter. Enjoy!

10 min before invites: Everybody’s already online(5 people), damn! I could have used an extra minute or to fix this damn downloading program on my pc. At least we should get going fast.

5 min before invites: Dan ask if my roomie has installed PallyPower. I hear him swear wich means he hasn’t installed it yet. Poor guy been playing catch-up all day to be ready since he was away this week. Hopefully this will get resolved before the raid starts. I’m still struggling to get my connection back up to speed so I start uninstalling the new program.

Invite time: Yes! My connection is back up to normal just in time. I tab out to get wow-heroes started to check on pug gear, invite guild members and prepare my pugging text. Grinaa choose this time to log in and tell me he wants to come.

Doh! Grinaa’s a healer we’ve been trying to recruit for the past few weeks but he’s been on the fence because he really wants to do 25s and we only do 10s. Still, we’re hopeful we might get him at some point as he’s a really great player.

Having Grinaa around means tough that I have to switch someone to dps and Kaozz looks to be the better choice with her hunter. Hopefully she’ll be fine with that.

Invite time + 2: She’s fine with it, first crisis of the night averted. The group is filling quickly and the pugs are really well geared tonight, this is starting to look good.

Invite time + 5: Group is filled, everyone is heading out to ICC without me having to tell them.. good… very good…

Raid start time: Buffs are going out, the PugTank asks for a fish feast… he sounds a bit assertive, hopefully that won’t be a problem.

Raid 0:01: It will be a problem… damn it! PugTank is foaming at the mouth to get going but since we’re all buffed I take the initiative and start the pull, gotta show PugTank who’s in charge. I must have taken one of the healers by surprise since we get somewhat low on health and we loose two dps to damage.

Raid 0:03: PugTank pulls the next pack without waiting for rezzes. Wonderful… I remind him to wait and try to sound a bit pissed. Maybe he’ll get that he’s not in charge. PugTank apologizes… there’s still hope.

Raid 0:05: Everyone’s back up and PugTank charges ahead again, but makes sure we’re ready this time. Dps is really high so I figure we might try a really fast pace tonight and see how we do. I’m all for killing trash as fast as possible in the end. I decide to initiate the next few pulls until Marrowgar, gotta show who’s in command.

Raid 0:07: Order the rogue to scout for trap just before Marrowgar before PugTank gets a chance to pull. He listens and waits… nice! He’s starting to catch on at last.

Raid 0:10: In front of Marrowgar, PugTank asks for how we want to do it instead of ordering. Tone of voice indicates he’s somewhat pissed to not be in control but at least he’s asking instead of just pulling. I figure that by the end of the first wing things will have settled down.

Raid 0:13: Marrowgar drops like a brick, people switched to spikes and didn’t stand in stuff. We got lucky with pugs tonight and if I can keep PugTank on a leash I believe we can take this group to 7/12 if not higher. A new boss down would be awesome.

Raid 0:14 While Dan does the loot(bless that guy!), I make a comment in guildchat that PugTank is getting on my nerves a bit wich is immediately echoed by everyone else in the guild. Damn it! I really don’t want to have to replace PugTank since he’s good, well geared and a trip back to Dalaran will make us loose a lot of time and it might even kill the raid. Once you start going down on the slippery road of Pug replacement you never know how things are going to end.

I hate it but the guild will have to bear with PugTank for now. Hopefully, he’ll quiet down now that we have taken a boss down in record time.

Raid 0:19: We start pulling Deathwhisper trash, PugTank is asking for my opinion now. Good good… looks like this will blow over. PugTank whispers me about being impressed with my spec and threat, looks like I’m winning some rep points with PugTank. Things are looking up.

Raid 0:22: I give quick instructions for Deathwhisper. PugTank asks for how we’re managing the extra add for the weekly and I assign PugRogue to it. I’ve never done that particular weekly but I remember hearing it’s about CCing an add. Kaozz gets fed up with PugTank and tells me to “man up” and tell him to stop.

Raid 0:23: Some more confusion about the weekly. There’s some chatter over vent that I have trouble following since everyone is talking all at once. PugTank issue won’t resolve itself until I confront him it seems. At least he’s saved now so I have the power to waste his raid ID and I’m sure he knows that too. I’ll confront him the next time he barks a way I don’t like.

Sadly, I’m focused on PugTank and fail to properly take care of the weekly preparation.

Raid 0:24: Fight with Deathwhisper starts and the add for the weekly spawns right in the first batch. The mobs are AoEd down and the add goes down with the rest. We fail weekly…

Comments are made over vent and I tell everyone to focus on the fight and that we can deal with this later. PugTank gets all sarcastic. I interrupt him rapidly and tell him to keep his comments to himself. I don’t say “or else you’ll be kicked” but he gets the message from my tone of voice and stop talking.

The gauntlet is down. Either he shuts up or he’s out. He knows it and I know it. I watching raid chat and listening to vent to see if he’ll try something.

Raid 0:27: Deathwisper is dead, PugTank is still quiet. Maybe he got the message. I’m ready to kick and replace as soon as he speaks up but he doesn’t. Looks like he learned his place. I can feel tension in the raid tough. Not much I can do about it right now without looking pathetic but I’ll have to say some nice stuff at gunship at least.

Raid 0:34: At gunship. PugTank asks for how we want to do this. He doesn’t sound pleased but I couldn’t care less about the happiness of a Pug. He makes a comment about not hearing me well to wich I reply my usual bit about English not being my first language. Dan jokes about that and in the process defuse a lot of the tension. God I love this guy.

Raid 0:39 PugDruid and PugLock have a lot of trouble understanding they need to dps the mages…

Raid 0:44 Gunship is done and PugTank asks again for instructions in a much more polite way. Seems  like he learned his place and he knows I’ll kick him if he starts making comments again. Looks like the PugTank issue is getting under control.

Raid 0:52 Saurfang is dead, loots comes out and everyone seems to be in a much better mood. Group heads inside really fast and I realize looking at the time we might be going far inside even… I remind myself not to get my hopes up too much but still…

Raid 0:58 Kaozz and a few others have told me they need a 2 min. I call it before we start pulling the dogs in Plague wing.

Raid 1:00 At the one hour mark and we’re back from a break. The group is handling the speed better and I’m really liking the speed we’re having.

Raid 1:07 I explain who I want at range on Festergut. PugLock is giving us some shit about how he’s always at range usually. I insist once more on who I want at range. Don’t want a stupid wipe like last week. PugTank is mostly quiet besides some questions I’d expect from a tank here. Tone is nicer too.

Raid 1:09 Effing PugLock doesn’t get the spore thing at all. Myself, Dan and PugTank all pipe up to tell him to get his shit straight. For once I fully agree with PugTank intervention.

Raid 1:11 Festergut down, I get some tanking bracer! OMG.. an upgrade in like 4 months. Crazy.

Raid 1:16 Explaining the fight on Rotface, everyone seems to be focused and there’s no discussion to be had. Good.

Raid 1:17 Looks like “bring the oozes to the tank running in circle” is complicated.

Raid 1:20 Damn it! It’s really complicated. Someone is taking forever to bring his ooze to me I can see him running all the way in the back.

Raid 1:21 Arrrgghhhh! Now I have two big oozes at once. Let’s pray I can manage two at once. Rotface dies right after the second big ooze. Whew… dodged a wipe there.

Raid 1:22 As we head to Putricide I ask PugTank for how he wants to tank this. He’s improved a lot his behavior and I figure it wouldn’t hurt to cut him some slack. Besides I’d rather work with him than against him. He proposes that we hang on the green ooze side and burn it down as it spawns, instead of the usual moving around strat. I knew his strat from having read it before but never got around to try it since I didn’t feel I had good enough dps before. We’ll go with his strat and see how it goes.

Raid 1:26 OMG… Putricide in phase 3 and he’s going down fast. We might one shot the sucker.

Raid 1:26(take 2)  Nope… I get one shotted and the raid wipes. How I got to 70k hp to 0 in under 2 sec is beyond me but it happened.

Raid 1:32 Putricide try 2. Grinaa(healer) bites the dust after being rooted, in the slime and have an ooze explodes on him. We brez him but the raid is off and oozes are not dying fast enough. I suspect PugLock and PugDruid not to switch target and will pay particular attention to them.

Raid 1:39 Putricide try 3. Grinaa dies again to an ooze but anhk rez.PugDps sucks at target switching despite me repeating non-stop to switch. Wipe after orange switch target in mid run and aim for melee dps. Funny to look at but it’s still a wipe.

Raid 1:43 As we head out to try number 4 some grumblings are heard over vent. I really want to push Putricide since I know this group can take him down but I know Pugs won’t stay around for a lot of tries. I say I’m giving it two more tries in the hopes I can get that much at least.

PugLock warns me that it’s going to be his last try. Damn it… can’t even get two more tries. I insist on dps switches and start praying.

Raid 1:45 Putricide try 4. Magically, dps switches target fast this time around and oozes are going down really fast.

Raid 1:49 Putricide goes down!!! Tons of achievements spam in guildchat and Walk the Plank is now 7/12 in ICC! Unidentifiable organ drops, a rare tank trinket I’ve been after but it’s PugTank turn to get a main spec loot. Oh well… PugTank offers to trade the bracers I got earlier for the trinket, a trade I immediately agree to. Looking at his gear he could really have used the trinket more but hey, I won’t argue.

Raid 1:52  10 minute break before heading out to Dreamwalker, my second target for this week. I wanted to give some good tries on Putricide and Dreamwalker this week but was afraid I wouldn’t get the chance after having to cancel last thursday. Not only did we down Putricide but we’re getting a few tries on Dreamwalker. This is a good night.

Also, the PugLock who didn’t have time just a few minutes earlier suddenly have time for Dreamwalker. Funny how that works eh?

Raid 2:05  First try on Dreamwalker but things go south after a while as people keep standing in blue circles of death and the black pools of mana draining.

Raid 2:07 I start explaining for the next attempt but PugLock leaves followed right after by PugTank. I know the raid is over right then and there. Sad cause I’m pretty sure Dreamwalker wasn’t that far off.

Post raid toughts:
-I love my guildies. Seriously, I want to have their babies. For the first time in a long time I’m with people who care about succeeding and do their best every week. They help me out a ton and I couldn’t do this without them. ❤
-We’re progressing at a nice pace. I’m seeing huge improvements every week and it feels more and more like we are the ones in control.

-We made out like ninjas this week. I think nearly all the loot went to our guild.

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Walk the Plank: Hell week edition

No, not in-game! I mean in real life!

For a number of reasons Real-life ™ has been taking up a lot of time this past week. Lots and lots of work to be done and family keeps intruding. My WoW playing has taken a hit, my blog has been less active and I feel so stretched I think I’m going to break.

Walk the Plank so far has been an exercise in patience. Things are not going fast and I keep fearing that because of that I’m going to log in one day only to find out everyone has quit. I have to admit I stress out a bit over progress and raids happening when in fact I probably shouldn’t. If anything, Kaozz, her husband and Dan have proved they understand it’s not going to be a quick thing and that they’re in it for the long haul.

For example yesterday we ended up not raiding because we were missing 2 people and we really didn’t feel like pugging 7. Plus there was thunderstorms where I live and I lost power twice during the evening wich would have made for a sucky raid for everyone involved. I know it was for the best that it didn’t happen but still… we talk a lot about being prepared and not being late and when I can’t make the raid happen I feel as if I’ve somewhat betrayed them.

… look at me getting all gloomy there. This right there is my biggest challenge. I’m starting to realize that if I’m to make long-term as a guild leader I’m going to have to trust those wonderful people who have proven they can be relied upon and stop sweating about all the small details. I cannot control everything and I need to stop trying.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend!

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Arkham Horror review

The world keeps turning and nothing much new is happening on the WoW front or MMO front right now. Sure there’s EQ2x and other news but it all seems so far away right now. So instead of boring you all with MMOs I’ll be talking about a table-top  game that has been taking more and more of free time around here.

Arkham Horror in its current, second edition, form has been around since 2005 and is based on an older game of the same  name by Chaosium(1987). The premise is simple enough. The players play the role of investigators working together to stop an Ancient One, an ancient and malefic god, from awakening. This all happens in HP Lovecraft setting of Arkham and the surrounding areas.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about Lovecraft and Lovecraftian horror. HP Lovecraft is an american horror writer from the early 1900s. He’s widely recognized as being one of the fathers of modern horrors stories along with Edgar Allan Poe and  numerous authors like Stephen King have said they were heavily inspired by his writings. Lovecraft has created over the years a living world that others authors have borrowed and expanded upon.At its core, Lovecraftian horror is mainly rooted in incomprehensible beings from other worlds and dimensions and madness. Mortals are doomed to go mad as they become the playthings of beings far more powerful than they are.

And you know what? It’s your job to stop one of those when playing Arkham Horror.

AH is not an easy game, in fact that’s pretty much the point of it. So far I believe we have lost more games than we have won trying to prevent those monsters from destroying the world. And when we do win we leave a few comrades behind, driven mad, killed or devoured by things with names we can’t even pronounce. It’s the kind of game where everything is going well and suddenly one card flips everything around and your on the losing end. It’s the game where you can draw an event that goes along the line of: “The Ancient One has noticed you. You are devoured”. That’s it… no chance at all.

Loving to lose together

I won’t mince word. In order to love AH you have to love to lose. You need to be able to have fun while the games mercilessly crushes you and your feeble attempts at winning. I’ve played a game once that we have literally no chance at all of winning, it was mathematically impossible for us to do so. You need to have a grim sense of humour and see the funny side of having a physical immune pop right on you when you have no magical weapon of any sort.

So what’s the point of playing a game only to lose? Because sometimes, you do win. You manage to triumph over all the crazyness and pull of a win you’re really proud of. Because you’re doing it with friends and you had to work together to make it work. There’s no “I win, you lose” mentality here. Either we succeed together or we fail together. In the end it makes victory so much better or you get to laugh a bit as you all descend into the depths of insanity.

Finally, Arkham Horror is a complex and long game. It’s not something that you can just pick-up play under an hour. There’s a lot of rules, a lot of components and there’s a big learning curve involved. Expect your first few games to last 4 to 5 hours with a lot of rule checking involved. Once you get the hang of things games last a more reasonable 2 to 3 hours.  It can be a bit harsh on new players but it does add a lot of depth to the game wich means you can literally play for years and not get bored.

The list

The good:
-Great challenge
-Cooperative play, nobody is left out
-Lot of depth of gameplay, no two games are the same
-High quality board and game pieces, gorgeous artwork
-Attention to Lovecraft universe and tying the game to it. Some players even roleplay their games!

The bad:
-Complexity, lots of rules.
-Too many components: Lot of game components, tokens and cards wich make the game take a lot of tablespace and can
make setting up the game, packing away, take a bit of time.
-New player unfriendly. New players can be overwhelmed and lost. An experience player to show the ropes help a lot.
-Not for everyone. This is a game for gamers wich won’t appeal to people looking for a casual game.

The undecided:
-High randomness factor: This can be a blessing for some and a curse for others depending on personal taste. The game has a lot of random elements all going on at once wich can create unwinnable scenarios. Some will like it and others won’t. If for you having a chance is very important you might not like this game. However if you like to take some abuse now and then you’ll love it.

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Walk the plank, 10 days at sea

When we started talking about making Walk the Plank, we all agreed that it was to do things our own way. We weren’t dumb enough to believe that suddenly we’d be one shotting ICC and rolling in the phat loot. We would have to work at this and be patient. There would be good times and hard times, times where we would succeed despite all odds and other where we would fail at the simplest fight. We were all experienced enough to know this and we embarked on this adventure full of  hope but also with a good dose of realism.

Last week really drove home that we could succeed at this but also that it would be a long journey to get where we want to be.

The failed raid

Last thursday we had one the biggest fail raids I’ve ever seen. I’ve talked about it before but suffice to say that ToC10 is not someplace I want to visit ever again. We got the worst of the worst pugs I’ve seen in a very long time and I quickly pulled the plug on the raid,a decision I still feel was the right one.

Where I’m less proud of myself was my reaction the following day. I’m someone who likes to get problems solved as soon as possible and a failed raid was a huge problem for me. When I see something not going the way I want to I have to find a solution as soon as possible, something that has landed me in trouble a few times. So after the failed raid I quickly came up that our problem was pugs and that we needed to recruit more to be less susceptible to pug quality.

I was in a hurry to post on the guild forums my solutions for recruiting because I feared for some reason that if I did not post RIT NAOW! then the guild would explode or something. In the process of writing the post I talked about our own performance and wanted to touch on tank switches and healing so we could coordinate better. However since I was in a hurry my post of “We did awesome and we need to recruit” sounded like “Healers sucks and we need to recruit”.

Not my proudest moment by far. I did apologize for the confusion and I hope that will teach me to trust my guildies more and be more patient with guild issues.

Return to ICC

Yesterday was a our return to ICC for the second time with a much more mismatched Pug than last time. We cleared the first 6 bosses as well as give Dreamwalker two quick tries and I’m really happy at the result. More so than last time since this time around it was truly our effort that gave us the kills. I’m really proud of how much everyone has improved in a short week of time and I’m really hopeful for the future.

I also have to thank them for putting up with me learning how to properly juggle a raid full of pugs. It’s not easy trying to find a balance between guild principles, pugs and keeping everything moving. It’s a balancing act that I still need to practice but I’ll get it down, just a matter of time. So a big thank you to everyone for being patient while I try to figure out how to handle tanking, raid leading, dealing with loot(it’s going to be Dan job from now on! HA!) and answering about 7 tells all at once.

So once again I’m really grateful to be together with a fun crew. If its something that may interest you, you’re welcome to join us, we’re looking for a second tank and dps. I can’t promise easy loot, in fact I pretty much promise the opposite but I can promise you a fun adventure with a great crew at the very least!

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Recruitment conundrum

Yesterday was our second raid night for Walk the Plank. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on talking about every raid we will have in the future but I think it’s interesting to talk about the first few ones so I can look back and see how we started out. The plan was for us to raid ToC10 to round out the gear of two of our members. I did not want to do two nights of ICC this week since I didn’t want to push progression in ICC with a raid made up of 50% pugs. so we headed in ToC with 5 pugs and high hopes of clearing the place and scoring some loot.

What followed was a disaster of epic proportions I still have trouble to describe. It was like watching a train wreck that never ended, horrible to behold but you can’t look away. I had gearchecked every pug before inviting them and they all were ICC level geared players. All of them. Yet, our highest dps was our two guildies that we brought specially to gear them up. I still don’t understand how someone geared in iLevel 251 items and up can only do 2k dps in ToC. I still do not understand how that’s possible. I pulled the plug after the second wipe, trusting my gut instinct that ToC10 would be a horrible experience if we pushed it and not wishing to subject my guildies to that. Still, we did pug a few more people to do the weekly(Sartharion) and even ended up going to Molten Core for giggles so not all was lost.

If anything, the past few raids we had have made it crystal clear that we need to recruit more people as soon as possible. Raiding when half the raid is made up of pugs is literally playing russian roulette. I can get lucky like last sunday, get a good group and blow through content or I can get what I had yesterday and failed miserably without even having a chance. I have absolutely no control over whether we succeed or not and that is unacceptable for me.

Current recruitment philosophy

Right now our plan was recruiting was through the boards, forums and the pugs. We didn’t want to spam trade chat simply because we feared the quality of recruits we’d get through there. I don’t want to have to gear up a ton of new people and I don’t want to have to teach the server how to play, something that seems to happen all too frequently when you recruit through trade.

But even if our idea sounds good in practice it’s not working very well for us right now. Most good players we met in pugs are already in good guilds and it’s hard for us to get noticed on the server forums. To most people it must look like yet another wannabe raiding guild and I can’t say I blame them. We don’t exactly have a lot to go on to entice new people to come to us.

Also, I was reminded by my room-mate that recruiting inside pugs works well when you only have one or two people to recruit but when it’s five people it’s not the same. As he astutely pointed out, pug recruitment only worked twice back in BC and then we only had to recruit a single person each time. Overall, the PuG recruitment technique doesn’t look like it’s a good idea anymore.


My problem is well-defined. I need to recruit at least three more people in the very short-term so we are not at the mercy of Pugs.

It’s obvious that our current recruiting technique will not net me those three people in the short-term. I might get incredibly lucky but I won’t be counting on that.

The solution? This is where I’m having trouble. One part of me tells me to be patient and just give it some more time. However I really don’t like waiting around for something that may never come. My experience tells me that the longer we take to get it fixed the worst it will hurt us.

The first and obvious solution would be to start recruiting on the trade channel. I may have less control on quality but at least we’d get the bodies needed. I can also get lucky and get quality recruits too. Someone suggested that we put in criteria on gear to filter out slackers and so we wouldn’t have to gear up a ton of people. It’s definitively something that I see could work solving my immediate problem wich is bodies but I don’t know how that would play out long-term.

In fact it’s the only solution I can think of right now and it’s not one I especially like. If any of you reading this have more to suggest I’d be more than happy to hear you out!

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