Tag Archives: LFG

Call to Arms: Update

According to Wowhead there was some clarification made by Blizzard last night in regards to Call to Arms, particularly about the extra incentive reward.

The extra items and such that you get come in the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries, which is similar to the satchels you get for running random dungeons while you level. Except for one very key point – these satchels are BoA, meaning you can farm randoms on your tanking alt and send the rare mounts or pets to your main. If you get your hands on the Baron’s mount, but you’ve already got one, just send it over to another one of your alts.

There was also false information put out in relation to the flasks and elixirs. Rather than being suited to the spec of the tank/healer that you get the satchel on they will be randomly generated so that you have a variety of flasks to send to different characters (or sell on the AH if you don’t have one that can use it).

They also clarified that the drop rate of the rare mounts is going to be exactly the same as the actual mount drop rate from the bosses that drop them, which addresses one of my concerns that I hadn’t vocalized yet.

I think making these items BoA does give it a lot more potential to be successful as players will be more likely to switch to their alts when they don’t have anything pressing to do and queue up for a random at a chance to win those mounts for their main. It also has the potential to overcome the problems I mentioned yesterday about tanks getting the items they’re interested in and then not using the Dungeon Finder anymore. Being able to send them to other toons is a pretty big deal in my opinion.

As for whether or not this will help it be more than just a band-aid fix, I think this will definitely add some more longevity to it, but I’m not convinced this is the definitive answer. As far as mounts are concerned, as they’re the major draw here, I don’t know how long a series of ground mounts is really going to thrill people in a world we can now fly in, but at least they did pick some of the more sought-out mounts to use for it.

I do think that this was a big step in the right direction for being such a small change, and at this point I’m ready to kick back and watch to see how it all turns out. Making them BoA may very well encourage a large number of players to tank on their alts to win mounts for their mains, which may prove to be just the kind of response that Blizzard is looking for.


Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Patch Notes, World of Warcraft


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Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

In case you’re behind on your 4.1 information, like I was, there’s a new drama queen in town called Call to Arms. Before I get into it, lets have a look at it:

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Parrot Cage (Cockatiel), and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magisters’ Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.

This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

So to sum that up, tanks and healers potentially receive extra rewards for solo-queuing for random heroics. If you’re DPS then you’re basically screwed out of the deal. The rewards are some extra gold (no amount mentioned), a low chance of rare gems or flasks/elixirs suited to your spec, a good chance at receiving vanity pets, and a rare chance at a mount.

The idea is to shorten queue times for DPS by offering more rewards to the tanks and healers who are in shorter supply and in essence the reason for your DPS queue taking so freaking long. When there’s 50 of you waiting to team up with 8 of them, you’re going to have to wait your turn.

The primary point of drama on this is that it’s statistically impossible for DPS to ever get anything out of this deal, so four of the game’s ten classes which are pure DPS classes (no tank or healing spec) are given the inverted hybrid tax by never even having the option of changing spec to benefit from this. The next point of drama comes in which items are being rewarded, particularly the mounts, as people in many cases dedicated a great deal of time to farming those mounts and now people are theoretically getting them “for free”.

I love the irony in looking at my feed reader this morning looking for people who posted about Call to Arms and found that Cold had a new post on Opportunity Cost of Free Items, which applies quite well to the current situation. So remember here, DPS, they aren’t actually getting these items “for free”, they’re having to do the same content that you are. Granted, DPS get nothing but a theoretical faster queue time, but the DPS wouldn’t get anything at all if those tanks/healers hadn’t queued in the first place.

Now seems like a good time to mention that while I’m an obsessive altoholic, I am a DPS. My main during BC/Wrath was a Mage and my main right now is a Shadow Priest. Sure, I can heal on the Priest, but I suck at it and it’s not what I like or want to do on her. I do have six level 85 toons, two of which are tanks and one that’s a healer, but they don’t get any play time.

To give you a little bit of hope at least, this does give me at least a small stirring of interest in actually playing my Paladin again. I don’t think I’ll bother taking my healers out, but I might do some tanking for another chance at that stupid Baron’s mount that I’ve tried to farm over 300 times and still never even seen it drop.

Visible Problems
The major problem with the system is that it doesn’t actually address the issue of queue times, it simply puts a band-aid on it that will last for a short while and then fall off as the PUG tanks claim the items they want and then stop queuing. Several people have written about problems they see with the system, but the one that I felt was the best read without being over the top ranty or dismissive was Kurn with Why Bribery Won’t Help – Much.

There are always new toons to be leveled and new players joining the game, so the tank and healing pools do get refreshed all the time, but it’s not like every tank out there is going to spend a few hours in LFG every night for the next two years. Basically, the pool is going to constantly dwindle down even though it won’t disappear completely, but we will eventually get back to the point where we are right now.

Another good post I saw on the matter came from Thisius at DoTs and ‘Locks who pointed out that the real issue with people not wanting to queue as tanks and heals is more often the actual community, the people running with them that feed them nothing but criticism and insults or who do stupid crap to make their jobs harder and thus turn them off of tanking all together or at least turn them off of using LFG as opposed to guild runs. Though I would expand the suggestion of giving the tank the ability to kick people to instead give it to whichever of the tank/healer it is that got the Call.

For many people this band-aid will work great for the time that it’s useful, and then things will slide back to how they are right now once all of the special items have been collected. Eventually those tanks and healers are going to get the pets and mounts they want and then they’ll have no more reason to bother with heroics. Not to mention they’ve likely ran enough of them in trying to get those mounts that they’ve got every possible gear upgrade twice over.

Going back to Thisius’s post, we may very well see even more bad attitudes in LFG thanks to this once the dungeon is finished and the DPS see the tank score a rare mount. While some people like myself might congratulate the tank on their new mount, this may very well piss off the DPS to the point that they become dickish where perhaps they weren’t before. And I’m sure you’ll have tanks/healers that will flaunt it and do their best to piss you off even if you didn’t mind before. Just keep in mind that this particular problem is with the players, not something Blizzard has or hasn’t done.

Hidden Issues
This is where I go ahead and turn the tables a little bit to point out some of the things that not everybody thinks about or is aware of. And for this I’m going to quote one of my friends on twitter, @Feisttherogue, “Fact: the DPS role in WoW has the highest skill cap, fiercest competition, and most objectively measurable performance. The new system takes those players most able to ensure a new tank or healer succeeds OUT of the system, by denying them incentives. All while making it easier for those least prepared to take part to flood the matchmaking system and lower the quality of everyone’s run.”

It’s a simple truth that you cannot get through dungeons at the proper character/gear level without a tank and healer. They are vital roles and even more vital at this early point in the expansion. But good DPS is just as vital and potentially even more so with the recent changes to healing. The point here is that every single person in that group plays an important part in the outcome of any dungeon run. If you don’t have the DPS then those bosses aren’t going down. If you don’t have a tank then your healer’s going to die, and if you don’t have a healer then you’re all going to die. Round and round we go, everyone does their job and we all win, do it not and we all fail.

Feist makes an excellent point here that many people don’t understand or don’t take the time to consider. A somewhat poor tank can still perform well overall if the DPS can throttle their agro and use CC, and if the healer knows how to work within their mana budget, and a somewhat poor healer can still keep everyone alive if the tank is especially good or well geared and your DPS are strong enough to kill the mobs before they pose a major threat and can avoid unnecessary damage like standing in bad stuff. Tanks and healers can’t compensate for fail DPS, though.

So there’s the biggest “hidden” issue, that we’re denying rewards to what are potentially the most important factor in overall success/failure. In defense of this particular problem, at least Blizzard made the rewards mostly vanity items and that all of them can be obtained outside of the Call to Arms system. But, I think they would be better served by giving additional rewards to those dealing with the long queues than by giving them to those with instant queues.

My Thoughts
I applaud Blizzard in acknowledging that there’s a problem and making steps to overcome it. I don’t think this system is the answer, but it will serve as a decent short term band-aid. As a DPS, I really don’t care what rewards other people get if it really does result in shorter queues for me.

Blizzard, “..the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.” They hope to accomplish that by rewarding tanks and healers to speed up queues for DPS. I haven’t sat down long enough to say “this” is what they should have done, as it will work better because of x, y and z. I have thought about it and gotten a couple of ideas, but I haven’t sat to think about the drawbacks of those suggestions.

I think they could better address the issue of gearing if they simply increased the amount of DPS gear that dropped. My point really is that rather than rewarding tanks and healers for queuing, they should reward DPS for enduring the longer queue times. Granted, that might make some tanks/healers queue as DPS instead, thus lengthening the queues, but at least it’s more directed at the real problem which is gearing up DPS.

By giving the DPS more gear you’re potentially addressing both issues at once. If you drop more DPS gear in dungeons then the DPS get geared faster and then stop running LFG because they already have the gear they need from them, thus lessening the DPS pool and increasing queue rates for the others. If you reward more Justice Points to the DPS then those who can spec into a tank/healing role are more likely to do so once they’ve earned the points to purchase their gear to fill that other role. Pure DPS of course wouldn’t benefit from it beyond purchasing heirlooms or professions mats, but Pure DPS are used to being screwed like that as their reward is (supposedly) higher DPS values than Hybrid DPS. Not that I’m justifying the screwing of the pures, that’s a whole other blog post all it’s own.

Like I said, I don’t think this is a bad short term fix for the issue at hand, but I don’t think it’s worth anywhere near the amount of drama that it’s caused so far. I do think that this is the wrong approach overall though, I feel that the DPS should be more rewarded for their longer queues instead of giving even more rewards to those with already near instant queues. I wouldn’t mind giving an extra 10 minutes to the queue if it meant I was going to get extra items, though I also wouldn’t mind cutting 10 minutes off of my queue if it meant someone else gets extra items.

[EDIT: Forgot the section below.]
Speculative Problem
What most people are speculating will happen is that people will stay in their DPS gear, swap over to a tank/healing spec, and expect you to carry them through the dungeon so that they can get their freebies while you do all of the work. I can see some people trying to do this, I certainly wouldn’t put it beyond some of the players I’ve seen in my day, but this kind of reaction always provokes and eyeroll from me.

This situation is just like any other – there’s potential for both bad and good. There are dicks in the world, the system will be abused. But, there are still plenty of good players out there who will take advantage of the system as well. We all have different experiences with different aspects of this game, we find parts that we love and parts that we hate. We can both do the exact same content, maybe even in the same guild/group, and both come to different conclusions as to how enjoyable it was or was not. My experience with LFG for example has been very positive; I don’t run into morons or dickheads very often, but it does still happen even to me. Other people have had little-to-no good experiences in LFG at all and refuse to use it.

The fact is you’re not going to get a decent supply of good new tanks and healers if they’re never given an opportunity to try it out and succeed. Some of them are going to fail, you’ll have tanks that leveled in a DPS spec and have mostly DPS gear, but they’re working towards getting a decent set of tank gear and they’re looking for some practice. With any luck they’ll start in non-heroics, but some of them will not. The same applies to healers, of course.

Keep in mind that with the stat changes in Cataclysm it is significantly easier for someone who doesn’t have “tank” gear to step into the tanking role because Defense no longer exists as a stat. He’s probably lacking some Stamina and his avoidance stats could probably use some help as well, but his DPS gear will also give him better threat generation (in theory) so at least the healer should be able to focus primarily on him. Most of the healers (non-Paladin) can make a fairly smooth transition from DPS spec to healing spec while still using their caster DPS gear.

That doesn’t really get across the point I was trying to make…

Alright, let me put it this way – don’t jump to extreme conclusions. Yes, it’s going to happen, but you’re not going to have DPS-tanks in every single heroic you ever run. If you only run a handful, then yeah you might have a handful of them and thus assume that they’re all like that, but that’s just your particular experience up to that point. Give the little guy a chance before you shoot him in the head and leave his body to rot, he just might grow up to surprise you.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Patch Notes, World of Warcraft


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Dealing with “Superstars” in Low Level LFG

We’re going to talk about some “Superstars” today in relation to low level random dungeons. Random dungeons are referred to in several different ways, including but not limited to: LFG (looking for group), LFD (looking for dungeon), PUG (pick up group), Randoms.

We’re not going to talk about specific individuals as I have in my Real Men of Failure posts, instead we’re talking about types of people and how to deal with them. In order to talk about these “Superstars” we first need to define what a “Superstar” actually is.

Superstar: [soo-per-stahr] –noun
1. a person, as a performer or athlete, who enjoys wide recognition, is esteemed for exceptional talent, and is eagerly sought after for his or her services.

Oh, my bad. That’s the definition of a Superstar. What we’re looking for is the definition of a “Superstar”.

“Superstar”: [uh-noi-ing puhngk] –noun
1. a player, as any class or role, who enjoys wide recognition, who believes themselves to be esteemed for exceptional talent, and who eagerly seeks to show off his or her (lack of) skills.

Roleless “Superstars”
The problem we see most often in the low level LFG is when one or more “Superstars” just throw their roles out the window and go crazy on everything expecting to live through it all.

They’re the level 15 Paladins who have no taunts, no AoE threat generation, and basically only a single ability to use in addition to their auto-attack and yet they still pull large groups of mobs and then wonder why the whole party wipes. They’re the Mages who think that they can go ahead and pull all of the mobs because they have Frostbolt and Frost Nova that will give the tank plenty of time to establish agro before anything bad happens. They’re the Hunters that leave Growl active on their pets and don’t bother calling their pet back when it chases a single mob through five other groups.

The most common offenders in this area are Hunters and Warriors, generally in that order. Hunters are a very strong class in lower levels because they deal high amounts of damage in a fairly short amount of time and their pets provide them with most of the security that they would otherwise need. It’s actually quite rare to end up in a pre-30’s LFG group where the hunter doesn’t try pulling the mobs at least once. (Un)Fortunately, Hunters are one of the few classes that can actually pull off soloing instances at level in the 15-25 bracket if they have some decent gear and know how to manage their pets. Because of that it’s often hard to get them to stop doing that and start working as a team.

Warriors are similar to Hunters in that they can do a lot of damage and spread it around nicely. The more damage they deal and the more damage they take, the more Rage they generate which allows them to be more active and more aggressive. For some odd reason a lot of Warriors take that to mean that if they have eight mobs bashing their face in, then they’ll be unstoppable. What they don’t seem to realize is that the damage they’re taking while doing that is usually way more than they can take without a solid healer who has the mana and the patience to put up with it. If the warrior is the tank, then the healer usually will put up with it, but if he’s DPS…

Where Hunter’s are classified as “Superstars” generally for pulling whenever and whatever they want to, Warriors are generally classified as “Superstars” for stealing threat from the tank or for using high threat generating abilities when they’re filling a DPS role instead of the tanking role.

GogoGoon “Superstars”
Another type of “Superstar” is one that feels that you’re going too slow or not doing good enough in your role and decide to take over. They’re the ones that are in a big rush to get through the dungeon and often try to talk the group into skipping bosses that aren’t required just to speed it up.

I’ve never seen the take-over happen to a DPS, and only twice have I seen it happen to a healer, but it happens to tanks a lot. This type of “Superstar” doesn’t have to be the one that actually takes your role, they can also be one that asks or tries to force another player to take over the role in question. Because of that they can also be of any class.

Sometimes the take-over is somewhat essential, like when I had a level 15 Paladin as my tank who was wearing a grey cloth robe with 45 Armor on it, was wielding a two handed grey kobold mining shovel, and had points in both the Prot and Ret trees. At that level the Paladin has no threat abilities, no taunts, nothing. The only thing he could do was auto-attack and Judgement. If the tank was simply doing it wrong, like pulling with his taunt or not using certain abilities or something, that’s one thing. But at his level he literally has no tanking abilities at all.

Another type of GogoGoon is one who has a completely wrong spec and/or wrong gear for the role that they signed up for, but insist that anyone and everyone but themselves are to blame for any problems that arise.

The single-most blatant offender in this area is the Ret Paladin. A lot of people don’t like leveling up as Prot, and they aren’t about to try leveling as Holy, so they’ll go with a Ret spec instead. But when it’s time to queue for random dungeons they’ll select the Tank role as well, hoping to get a faster queue time. To be fair, I have seen some Ret Pallies successfully tank lower level dungeons up through Scarlet Monastery: Library, but nothing beyond that. But just because something is possible, does not mean that it’s the way it should be done.

The Paladins aren’t the only ones doing this, they’re just the most common. You’ll see plenty of healers who actually have a DPS spec instead of healing, but they’re generally just fine doing that up through the mid-40’s or so. The most common class that does this and then fails at it is the Paladin, followed by the Shaman. Druids and Priests can both do pretty well as healers in the wrong spec because of how their heals work and how their class heals.

Dealing With “Superstars”
When you’re having to deal with people doing stupid crap, you only have so many options. You can try to help, you can insult them, you can hope they leave the group, you can try to vote kick them, you can leave the group yourself, you can /ignore them, you can just let them keep doing it, you can let them die (repeatedly), and maybe a few other things as well.

The best thing you can do is teach them, but teaching and learning is a two-way process. If they’re willing to listen and take some advice then you’ve found one of the rare few. More often than not, from my experience at least, you’ll end up either getting ignored or having them take offense. You’ll also frequently run into people that tell you not to worry about it, ignore it and go on, and so on. The two people that get frustrated with “Superstars” the most are the tanks and healers, but even they can be the ones telling you not to worry about the bad ones.

If they leave the group on their own or you kick them then maybe your run goes a bit better but the problem itself isn’t solved. If you take the time to tell them why you’re going to kick them out of the group, in a constructive manner rather than insulting, then they might learn and try to fix the problem on their own. If the guy’s a punk then he’s going to keep doing what he’s doing and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some people just can’t take a hint, and some have very thin skin and don’t take well to advice.

There’s another side to these “Superstars” though, so we’re going to keep on going.

Another type of “Superstar” is the Super-Duper-Star (SDS from here on), which is a “Superstar” that you come to find out is actually a real Superstar. They’re the ones that you initially get really frustrated with because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do, but after watching them for just a minute you’re actually somewhat impressed and may even think it’s pretty cool that they’re doing that.

Your first impression is to get frustrated because you immediately see them as Roleless and just can’t wait to kick them out of the group. As I mentioned above though, sometimes they actually pull it off. A level 18 Rogue soloing Ragefire Chasm? Not a problem. Level 20 Mage soloing Deadmines? Not a problem. Level (anything) Hunter soloing (anything he can queue for)? Not a problem. So when a low level tank and healer are trying to go through and get into their roles and get used to working through dungeons with a group they find nothing but complete chaos.

With recent changes to the game like BoA gear being introduced and old world content being made easier after various patches, it’s not really that hard for some people and some classes to do things that they generally shouldn’t be able to do, like tanking instances as pure DPS classes or even soloing them at level. Most of these are twinks, whether they be simple BoA twinks with just a few pieces of “twink gear” or actual PvP twinks that have best-in-slot items in every slot.

There are two classes that particularly stand out as being SDS: Druids and Warriors. Druids are the single most versatile class in the game and even when they have the wrong spec and maybe even only a single gear set, they can still pull off a decent job by simply switching their form. A Resto Druid can easily switch to a DPS role and they can do a fair job of Bear tanking in a pinch. If they have a second set of gear that they’re carrying around then they can pull it off to great effect.

The Warrior is in a similar situation where they can simply switch their stance and step in to fill the role of tank/dps. If they switch to tanking then hopefully they have a shield and a one-hander in their bags that they can switch to, but the lower your level the less important that is. If your shield blocks are only stopping 4 damage per hit then it’s really not all that important that you have one.

Just because someone is using one spec but filling the role of another doesn’t mean they’re going to suck at it; especially at low level.

Sometimes you’re going to stumble across Super-Impostors. These guys are the ones that look like they’re being complete idiots, they aren’t following advice and they aren’t following their role. They frustrate the heck out of you, they steal your threat, they pull mobs when you’re not ready, and you want to just reach through the screen and choke the player on the other side. And yet – nobody is dying.

When you find yourself in this situation you need to step back for a second and think about the situation. You need to ask yourself if there is a real problem here or if you’re just frustrated. Take a second to really look at what all is going on.

The Bear tank is fighting five mobs with a Mage giving him some AoE backup, the Arms Warrior is fighting three mobs on the other side of the room, and the Hunter and his pet are fighting two other mobs on the path leading up to the next area. Meanwhile the Druid healer is /dancing in the center of the room with 85% mana and everyone is above 95% health.

You’ve got two DPS players being tanks while your actual tank has his hands full. In a level 80 heroic that means somebody’s about to die or you’re about to wipe, but in a level 18 RFC run that means that you need to calm down and realize that the situation is well under control. If the tank is alive, the healer has mana, and everyone is holding their own then it doesn’t matter whether the tank has threat on every mob or not. My level 17 Warrior who can two-shot everything in this instance except for the boss doesn’t really need the tank’s help with three mobs. Give me 5 seconds and the problem will be resolved; Trust me.

For most of us in the blogging community, whether we’re the authors or the readers, we have high level toons that are running heroics or raids or who have at least been there before. And since we tend to spend more time in those settings and we have to follow our roles in order to succeed, we take that mindset with us when we get on our low level alts as well. Level 18 is not level 80.

If you see somebody that you think is doing something stupid, then take a minute to inspect them. Gear is the first indication of whether or not a low level character is controlled by a high level player. Are they wearing trash gear or are they wearing BoA’s? Are they wearing quest rewards or crafted gear? Can you tell whether or not they have professions and are using them? Are they using their racial abilities?


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Weekend PUG Report: Three Stooges and a Dwarf

This weekend was one for leveling various alts. I didn’t want to bother farming or raiding on my mage, I wasn’t especially in the mood to kill people (PvP) either for some odd reason, so I just focused on the alts. First up on that list was my little druid, Hotstuffbaby who was initially created as a 19 Twink who I then decided to level as a 29 Twink, and then throwing that idea out the window as well, have decided to level to 80 as my healer on my main server.

Lucky for me there are a few other people in our guild right now that are leveling alts as well, so we had four people ready and willing to group for randoms with a 5th that we were sure would join us once she woke up (sorry Cat, had to mention that part too).

While in a group of four we were missing our tank. Luckily all four of us were able to “tank” in some form or fashion (Warrior, Warlock Pet, Hunter Pet, Druid) if the tank we got sucked, so we queued up anyway. My evaluation of low level dungeons in the new LFG is that generally speaking the healers are usually good though often the most impatient of the bunch, DPS are usually the most annoying with no knowledge of threat management or playing some odd spec that puts them at half the tank’s DPS, and tanks are either unbelievably good or suck about as much as humanly possible.

Tanks are the primary example here in this post, two tanks that absolutely failed followed by a third that had some great threat skills and allowed our DPS to go all out and still have no problem. I am going to list names and servers here because anytime I post someone that failed at something, I took the time to try to help them in game first. If they make some effort to improve, then they get left off of the blog. If they do nothing to correct the situation, then maybe they should have thought about that before being a moron in the presence of a blogger.

Example Time

Kremul, Madoran-US (A)
The first fail tank was a Warrior named “Kremul the Clothy”. I thought I got a screenshot from when I had moused over his chest piece, but I didn’t. So in case you can’t tell from the picture, he was wearing Shimmering Silk Robes. He was also wearing +Intellect rings, grey pants and grey shoulders, but those can be somewhat excused if we assume he just hasn’t had any good drops. The robe though? I can’t get passed that one. He got kicked from the group and then we just 4-manned the dungeon.

Arzoft, Bloodhoof-US (A)
Right after we were done with the fail warrior we got in a group with this druid whose idea of tanking was to cast Starfire on the mob and then attack him in caster form with his staff. After that first pull I said in party, “Arz, you did notice you’re the tank for this run, right?” He then shifted into Cat form, cast Dash, and ran down the hall to agro ever mob and then bring them back to us. I had already had enough fail tanking from Kremul so I told everyone in vent to just hold off and let the stupid cat die and then we finished off the pack. You can look at the chat log in the picture here to see the level of Arz’s intelligence. He typed to us about 20 times in that “language” of his before we managed to vote kick him after his timer was done. I tried to speak his language of random character strings, but I don’t think we made any progress.

Gingerdread, Stormrage-US (A)
We didn’t want to have our Fury Warrior tank SM for us though, so we requeued and found ourselves a Dwarf Warrior. When he joined I took a look at his spec to get an idea of what to expect and I saw a combination of Arms and Prot. My initial reaction was a facepalm, no lie, but I’m willing to give anybody a shot at anything at least once, so on we went. This guy was generating crazy amounts of aggro, allowing all of our DPS to go all out without any worries. If someone did steal threat from him, he used his taunts and got it back. Ginger is easily the best Warrior tank I’ve seen outside of Northrend.

Gotuhunter, Trollbane-US (A)
We’ll break away from tanking now and go back to another example of failure. I hate to leave you on a bad note, but this one is worthy of being mentioned as well. It’s a level 79 Hunter that decided he just had to roll need on a cloak that dropped. It’s a tanking cloak as you might notice from the Armor, Strength, Stamina, and Defense bonuses on it, or from the fact that both plate wearers in the group rolled Need on it (I got picked for DPS in this one, but I’m main spec Frost tank). His reason for rolling need on it was very impressive, “lot bette then the won i got and it still has strenght”.

The cloak wasn’t a huge upgrade, as you can see from my RatingsBuster addon, but did I mention that I’m 3 points away from being Defense capped? Screw you too, Gotuhunter.



Real PUGs of Power: Mr. I Can Hold Their Agro For Days Guy

It’s sort of a fact of the life that it’s more easy and natural as human beings for us to remember and focus on the bad experiences while quickly setting aside and forgetting the good ones. The “bad” ones don’t have to be horrible, it can be any degree of bad from laughable to disgusting. If you look around the WoW blogs you’ll find a lot of focus put on bad PUGs, either where the entire group was full of failure or it was a single individual. Many simply talk about what’s wrong with the system or certain classes and ways to improve it, while others may take the bad and turn it into something fun to share with their readers as a few of us have with our off-shoots of Budweiser’s Real Men of Genius™ commercials.

A couple of days ago I sent my ex-19 Twink Druid into some random dungeons and found some really good groups. The first one was an RFK run with a great bear tank named Shakit from Magtheridon-US, and even an over-anxious hunter that loved to do the pulling, the bear managed to keep the majority of the agro on himself and kept up a very nice pace throughout the dungeon. He obviously wasn’t overly familiar with the dungeon since he started to skip a couple of bosses, but he took that news in stride and just got the job done. I wanted to capture a screenshot of it for blogging purposes, but just as I was getting ready to do so the hunter pulled another group what led to what became our biggest pull in the instance and I got so focused on the healing and such that blogging was forgotten. I remembered after the group split, but it was too late.

So I requeued for another random and shortly after found myself in Gnomeregan. Apparently the tank and healer had both bailed on the three dps that were already in there, and much to my excitement the tank slot was filled with that same bear tank from the RFK run, Shakit. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to give this guy a shout out a second time, so I made sure I got a shot during the second instance which ended up being an even better run than RFK. The Frost Mage had no hesitation in using Blizzard early in a pull which had me slightly worried, but Shakit managed to maintain agro just fine. The Warlock was initially hesitant, I think because he wasn’t sure if I wanted him to use Life Tap, but once I gave him permission to use LT freely he joined into the AoE frenzy. He started out with Rain of Fire, and then moved on to Hellfire later in the run. Even with both of the caster dps throwing around almost constant AoE damage Shakit still held their agro in check.

Shakit (Bear Tank)
Clamisock (Frost Mage)
Sirtedbundy (Destruction Warlock)
Azanoyia (Combat Rogue)

And if you would care to read about some other great experiences that people have had, I direct you to the following:
I Don’t Do Pugs from R2UK at Permanently Lost
LFG Bonus Humanity from Nochecazador at Of Marks And Beast
CC Means Consecrate, Consecrate Right? from Dechion at Dechion’s Place

Moving on to the point of this post though, I present to you Real PUGs of Power:

Psynister’s Notebook presents: Real PUGs of Power.

(Real PUGs of Poweeeer)

Today we salute you Mr. I Can Hold Their Agro For Days Guy.

(Mr. All I Can Hold Their Agro For Daaaays Guy!)

You’ve shown us how a real tank pulls a room.
Growling, Mauling, and slashing faces with your claws.

(Maul your freaking face off!)

Holding agro on eight-to-twelve mobs at a time,
While the Mage and the Warlock rain down Ice and Fire.

(Still toppin’ threat meters!)

Pulling one group, you’re bored.
Pulling a second, and you’re yawning.
Add in a third, fourth, or fifth and then it’s time to play.

(Come on where’s the challenge!?)

So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, you Bear Tanking Badboy.
There’s no such thing as too many mobs, especially with a healer like me to keep your bear butt alive.

(Mr. I Can Hold Their Agro For Daaaays Guy!)



Posted by on January 21, 2010 in Real PUGs of Power


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Review Patch 3.3: Looking For Dungeon

One of the most frequently talked about subjects here of late in the World of Warcraft community is the new Looking for Group (or Looking for Dungeon) mechanic that was added in Patch 3.3. A lot of people love the new system and can’t see how they ever manged to level without it. Other people completely hate the system and refuse to use it ever again.

A lot of bloggers happen to be talking about it right now on their own blogs as well, but rather than reading their posts and then essentially responding them in my own post, I am going to simply post my own thoughts here and then any responses I have to them will be left in the form of comments on their blogs.

Initial Impressions
When I first tried out the new LFG I absolutely fell in love with it. Groups were fast, people were nice and cooperative, people who didn’t know the dungeons took advice and guidance from others, people didn’t mind spending a few minutes constantly clicking the icon to teleport into the dungeon after getting smacked around by the “Door Boss” repeatedly with messages of “Additional instances cannot be launched. Please try again.”

For the first week or so I didn’t have a single problem with any aspect of the new system. Sure, I might get thrown into a dungeon I didn’t really feel like running, but even then it wasn’t all that big of a deal. It was about the same as having a friend ask for help in a dungeon I didn’t care for; I might not have the most fun, but at least somebody was enjoying it.

And the loot! Holy cow, when you’re talking about level 15-25 characters the BoP items that drop from the satchel for doing random dungeons are actually Best In Slot gear if you get the right random enchant for your class/build.

Current Impressions
Now that I’ve had more time to play around with the system and have had a chance to do it not only on my low level characters, but also on my mid and high level characters I have a slightly different opinion.

Overall I still very much enjoy using it and any time I’m not caught up in the middle of doing something else you can pretty well count on me either sitting in queue waiting for the next one to pop or already running through one that recently popped for me.

However, I have had my fair share of horrible groups now too. At first they were just small things, like a low level tank that couldn’t hold threat on more than one mob at a time, or a healer that had only a dps spec but was the only one in the group that could heal, or a hunter who thought he was 60 levels higher than he actually was and then blamed the tank/heals for not saving him from his own stupidity.

As time went on though, things got progressively worse and progressively better at the same time. I have found some excellent groups that fit together perfectly and ones that actually stayed together to requeue for another random dungeon after the first. But I’ve also seen a group with a single bad player progress into a group almost entirely made of morons.

The first time I really doubted whether or not this new LFG system would hold out was when we ran into our first ninja looter. Cynwise and I found ourselves in a group with a mage who rolled need on absolutely everything that fell. After the third case of stupidity we kicked the guy from the group and replaced him almost right away. Not long after that though we found the hunter in the group decided that he had to roll Need on a shield because he was “going to use it when [he] level[ed] up”. We went on to other groups finding hunters and mages who thought they could tank, healers who didn’t see any reason in stocking up on drinks to restore their mana, trial accounts who “miss rolled” Need on boss drops and then couldn’t trade them to anyone else in the party, and so on. And I thought that was a bad day, until last night.

I started off last night by queuing up with my 19 twink mage in a few randoms and having a blast. If you care to read about the good times, then please refer to Blastoph: Adventures in SFK which you can find on my twink blog. After a few good runs with him I decided to switch over to my new Rogue Twink for a bit and go for some Deadmines and Wailing Caverns runs to finish off her gear (no luck) and finish leveling her up to 19 (got that one).

The first dungeon that came up was Wailing Caverns and the group had already cleared all but three bosses, and while we were there I got the Armor of the Fang (3rd best in slot) the Leggings of the Fang (1st) and the Gloves of the Fang (1st) so I was pretty happy just from that, and then my satchel for completing it held a belt with “of the Bandit” on it which just happens to be exactly what I was looking for. So it was very much a successful run. The one minor flaw was that Venomstrike dropped and a hunter with a crappy white bow rolled Need on it and I couldn’t bring myself to roll against him. My Throat Piercers are a bit better with their +2 Agility bonus, but Venomstrike is amazing for switching over and dealing damage when you need to.

The next run took me into Deadmines and we had a pretty good time in there. VC dropped the Blackened Defias Armor which is the second best armor for my Rogue. I rolled Need on it of course and watched as other people passed and offered grats, except for one. I noticed the Warrior tank hadn’t rolled yet, and just as I was about to say something I saw him click Need and he got it. So, no luck for me there.

The next queue took me back into Wailing Caverns, and that’s where things really went to crap. I filled in for a DPS that they kicked out of the group so I went to join them where they were. I saw as I was running to their location that most of the mobs on the top ring were still alive on both sides, but I just shrugged and assumed the tank wanted to save Lady Anacondra for the last. I also saw that the group was split up with the tank and hunter on the west side and the healer and warlock on the east. From that I assumed that the healer had gone to resurrect the warlock so I went for the tank.

When I got there I found the tank fighting mobs while the hunter yelled at him not to fight the serpents. I saw people dying so I jumped up there and started killing things off so the tank would live. The hunter yelled at me then too. To make a long story short, the hunter had been dragging the group to various places in the instance for the sole purpose of taming a serpent that he didn’t know where to find and had caused multiple wipes. Eventually he got his pet and the group formed up to actually run through the instance. I thought it particularly fitting that the hunter would fire a single shot at a mob, let the mob come to him, engage in melee combat, and then have his pet join in and never leave melee himself.

With that group and that moronic huntard as the group leader, we went through three tanks and four healers before I convinced everybody to just break the group and requeue. Luckily I managed to put the hunter on ignore and will never have to see his stupidity on my screen ever again. He was a perfect example of one person blackening the good reputation of the LFG system for several different people though.

I had such a horrible time in that last run through WC managing to kill only a single boss that I absolutely had enough with LFG for the night and had to go into WSG to kill people. I imagined every horde toon was that stupid dwarven hunter and went on a killing spree completely ignoring the whole concept of WSG all together. People had to die, and they had to die as soon as possible and in as large a quantity as possible. I didn’t do all that great in that run, but at least I got to vent some frustration.

Desired Improvements
The biggest issue I have with the new LFG system is the same as so many other people out there – I want to be able to queue for both Dungeons and PvP at the same time and take whichever one comes up first. I don’t mind getting kicked out of one queue if I accept an invite to the other, I just don’t want to sit there waiting for 30 minutes in one queue while the other is popping every 5 minutes.

Next up has to be more uses of Vote to Kick. When you’ve got a real bad player in the group you either have to deal with them or vote to kick them out of the group. But you can’t kick anyone else out after the second or third use of VtK. Instead you just get stuck with whoever you have there with you and your only option then is to deal with them or leave the party yourself. I don’t mind running with people that don’t know what they’re doing, are new to their spec, are new to the game, have never been to the dungeon before, or anything else so long as they are willing to accept advice on how to do things. If you suck and you refuse to let people help you not suck, then I make no hesitation in voting you out of the group. Come on Bliz, there are more than 3 people in each level bracket that suck, give me more chances to get rid of the morons.

And finally, I’d like for them to retool the Dungeon Deserter debuff (I can’t remember it’s actual name right off) . In fact, I’d like to see them get rid of the thing all together. I’ve only had it applied to me once and that was when the tank and one of the dps rushed right into combat before the healer had even zoned in, died, and then refused to run back and the healer hadn’t bothered to learn how to resurrect people yet. None of the votes to kick would pass for some reason so I had no choice but to leave them behind and I got flagged to not be able to queue again until the debuff went away. It was a whole new level of annoying.

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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Patch Notes


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LFG: (Ab)Using the System

I must say that so far I absolutely love the new LFG tool. With a couple of minor exceptions I’ve had almost nothing but pure win with using it. Granted, I’ve only done lower level instances with it since I haven’t touched any of my high levels in quite some time, but it’s been great. My wife and several people I talk to on twitter have come across the darker side of it where you would have been better off condemning yourself to a known fail-pug, but as with anything else that’s done “randomly” you never know what you’re going to get out of it.

There are a few things that I want to talk about in particular concerning the LFG though, one which should be obvious but may not, and two which are presented as a question about the LFG quite a bit both on twitter and in game.

Recruit A Friend
Here’s the one that should be obvious to you. Using LFG in conjunction with RAF is a new level of awesome. My wife and her brother are doing RAF right now since they have similar sleep schedules where I do not, and they consistently gain 2-3 levels per dungeon run.

The biggest problem that people faced with RAF was outleveling their gear, where you found yourself in your 30s or 40s still wearing white gear that you picked up back in your starting zone because things just haven’t dropped for you. The next big problem was that people had a tendency to never bother learning how to play their class because it was just so darn easy to level.

The first problem there is easily addressed simply from the gear that drops inside the instances. Generally speaking, the best gear you’ll find for your level will come from instance. You can generally find better pieces that are rare world drops, and you’ll stumble across the occasional crafted item as well, but mostly the good gear will be in dungeons.

The second part is also somewhat lessened because it takes more effort to work together as a team against mostly elite mobs than it is to fight random mobs out in the world. This is especially true for tanks and healers as their roles at end game.

Can Alliance Queue RFC and Horde for Stocks?
The answer to both of these is yes. You can queue for any instance which you meet the level requirements for. So you can take your level 15 Gnomes into RFC, and you can take your level 20 Orcs into The Stockade.

You are teleported inside the instance, so you don’t have to bother running through an opposing faction’s city. Instances are not specific in which factions can use them, they just happen to be located in areas that are typically off limits to the opposing faction unless you’re willing to brave a run through very hostile territory.

The minimum level to queue for any instance is 15, so while you can enter RFC at level 8 and used to be able to queue for it at level 13, the minimum requirement for instance queues is 15. As long as your level is appropriate for the instance that you want to run then you can queue for it, no matter where it is or which faction supposedly guards the door.

Can I (Ab)Use LFG to Teleport!?!?
Yes, you can.

Now, most likely this is a glitch, so don’t get your hopes up too much just yet as it could be hot fixed at any time. I found in running RFC with my level 15 Mage that after a stupid paladin decided to agro as many mobs as he could and then bubble and laugh as we all died, I had to run back to the instance to get my body and then teleport back to Stormwind. After I died I didn’t want to listen to all the arguing and such so I just left the group. I thought at that point that I might be teleported back to SW the easy way and not have to bother running back to Org from Razor Hill, but no such luck.

When I got back to the instance I jumped inside, the loading screen came up and the progress bar went across the screen, and then I found myself alive and right outside of the instance with Neru Fireblade staring at me (luckily he didn’t agro me). I then used my hearthstone to get over to Dalaran and went about my business.

So if you want to abuse the LFG system to teleport then you have to join the group, get teleported to the instance, die inside the instance, release your spirit, leave the group, and then walk back to the entrance. At that point you can walk back outside and essentially teleport yourself to the zone that the instance is located inside of. Every other method I’ve tried so far has resulted in just being thrown back to wherever you were when you joined the group.

As I noted in the section above, you can only queue for instances that match your level. So don’t expect to have a group of 80s queue for RFC and then go pwn Thrall because it’s not going to happen.

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Posted by on December 15, 2009 in Patch Notes


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