Tag Archives: Raiding

Finding the Time

World of Warcraft is an old game. This is not meant as an insult as much as it is meant to state a fact. WoW was released in November of 2004. At the end of this month the game we love will be 8 years old, and its success and longevity is the envy of many game development companies.

Something else has aged during that time. WoW’s players. A person who started playing at launch as a college freshman of 18 years would be 26 now, with new responsibilities and different life circumstances than we started with. That college freshmen is either in graduate or post-graduate studies, or perhaps has a full time job. Maybe they have a spouse and a family. One thing is almost certain: free time is hard to find.

The flashpoint for this post is the convergence of exceptional game titles by Blizzard. It is likely that by the summer of 2013 they will have released an expansion (Mists of Pandaria for WoW, and Heart of the Swarm for Starcraft 2) or sequel (Diablo 3) to some of the most successful titles in the gaming industry in the span on a single year. I find my ability to keep up is lacking.

I started playing World of Warcraft in 2007, not long after the release of The Burning Crusade. At the time I was married for 3 years, and my wife had just finished medical school. I was leaving a full time teaching job because of the move required by my wife’s new position as a medical resident, and was going to be a substitute teacher. I was also a women’s basketball assistant coach at a local community college. Things were really uncomplicated. When I wasn’t teaching (which was frequent) or performing my assistant coaching duties (which were really only heaviest from October through March) I could do what I pleased. I read tons of books, exercised all the time, and played WoW as much as I wanted. One week I was able to put in about 40 hours, and didn’t even blink at the number.

Let’s skip the middle and fast forward. Today I have two daughters, aged 4 and 2. My wife is an attending hospitalist who works fewer evenings than before and is not a gamer. I’ve added Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 to games I enjoy playing. I am also the raid leader of my guild, and the main tank, so my out-of-game work has increased. I can play WoW about 4-10 hours a week at most, usually during nap times so as not to miss out on opportunities to spend time with my wife in the evenings. I’m happy, but its a far cry from the days of my youth when I thought I was busy.

I wonder about other World of Warcraft players experiences. How has your game time evolved? I find this evolution really interested, and would love to hear about it.

How are you at Finding the Time?

WoW Drinking Done Right

The much-anticipated Mists of Pandaria will launch soon, and thanks to a wonderful community of dedicated gamers, you can find pre-raid BiS gear lists, talent evaluations, dungeon guides, and raid guides. What you can’t find, however, is a guide that helps you to decide what to drink while playing. I have decided to fill this void for you, faithful reader, in the hopes that come midnight you are as ready as possible. Research was grueling and lengthy, but no amount of delicious beer could stop me from providing you with a comprehensive guide to doing raid night drinking right. In addition, I had the pleasure and privilege to work with the most impassioned beer aficionado that I know, Arolaide of Dragonsworn (You don’t read Dragonsworn? Start NOW), whose suggestions and feedback went a long way to making this post happen. Thanks Aro.

You’ll notice no Budweiser, Coors, Labatt’s, or Molson on this list. I dare not suggest such swill to my beloved readers and Warcraft brethren. So find your class, buy your beer, and enjoy.

Step away from the Pabst and nobody gets hurt.

Death Knight: What better beer for a fallen soldier damned into martial existence than Unibroue Maudite. A malty beer that is also spicy can be very challenging to your palette, but this beer is not too heavy, nor does it have a lingering bitter aftertaste. It is hard to express how awesome this brew is, and how unique. Well worth the effort to find and try.

A strong beer for a powerful class.

Druid: Do you miss the Emerald Dream? Perhaps you are wondering if it was worth waking up after all? Well, you can’t go back to the Emerald Dream, but Delirium Nocturnum can get you close. This is a dark rich beer with a pleasant lingering taste. A good balance of sweet and bitter with caramel, mocha, and chocolate.

Enjoy some while your Pint-Sized Pink Pachyderm pet is out. Coincidence this is available from Brewfest? I think not.

Hunter: If you get along with pets and nature better than other players you just may like the woodsy and crisp nature of an India Pale Ale. There are an extraordinary number of IPAs out there, but Flying Dog Brewery’s Snake Dog IPA is an excellent choice. It has a citrus flavor which includes caramel. Don’t worry if it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, it’s there to remind you how we all feel when you roll on our gear.

Who wouldn’t want a Snake Dog pet? Blizzard should make this happen.

Mage: Do you like to enjoy a rich complex alcoholic beverage as you contemplate the most efficient way to blow something up or freeze it into nothingness? Then you are probably a mage, and if you are, you’ll probably enjoy Ommegang’s 3 Philosophers. This beer edges out Maudite as my absolute favorite during my research. Dark, rich, heavy, and incredibly complex. Drinking this beer while hitting Hot Streak procs will, in fact, confirm that you are better than everyone else.

Why yes Mortimer, I do believe we ARE better than Warlocks

Monk: The Pandaren race are notorious brewers and drinkers, and are introducing Azeroth to the Monk class. To pay homage to their Asian influence I suggest (with Aro’s help of course) Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale. With sake-like flavors this complex pale ale does justice to the Brewmasters of Pandaria.

Arolaide suggested, Chen Stromstout approved

Paladin: A defender and wielder of the Light deserves an exceptional beer with a summery feel and plenty of light citrus flavor. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde fits the bill perfectly and at 9% abv packs a serious punch that rivals Divine Light, Shield of the Righteous, or Templars Verdict. A smooth, dry finish and wonderful fruit flavors might remind you of wine, a fitting comparison for this class.

Delicious, complex, and light. This might be the best Canadian beer on the planet.

Priest: I’m going to admit right up front that I’m cheating, but I couldn’t help but suggest two beers for a class with an identity problem. For priests that use their power for healing let me suggest Leffe Blonde Ale, a smooth abbey ale with a slightly spicy finish and a wonderfully consistent and pleasant taste. For priests who embrace the shadows, Grimbergen Dubbel (Double) is an excellent choice. First brewed 900 years ago by Noberline monks, this is a bittersweet beer with a rich caramel flavor. In a word, awesome.

Holy or Disciplined? This beer is for you.
For priests that walk among the shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogue: For the class whose primary goal in life is to incapacitate and destroy before you even know what happens I present Rogue Dead Guy Ale. A fitting name would be meaningless without a good beer, and fortunately Rogue delivers. Nice caramel malt flavor, but with more IPA flavors than most of the other ales I tasted. This gave Dead Guy a distinct flavor with a bite at the end, very appropriate for stun-locking fiends.

Nothing goes together better than Rogues and Dead Guys.

Shaman: The connection between this class and the elements that they commune with made this a tough match. Luckily for me I had the magical beer powers of Arolaide on my side and she delivered with an exceptional recommendation. Midas Touch is without a doubt the strangest beer I’ve ever tasted, fortunately it’s also delicious. Brewed by Dogfish Head, this beer is a mixture between wine, beer, and mead and tastes much better than that sounds. Tons of fruit flavors and even saffron. One of the most unique beers I’ve ever tasted.

Flameshock? Stoneskin? Healing Stream? How about all of them.

Warlock: Arrogant Bastard Ale. From the label to the name to the taste, this aggressive hoppy beer fits the warlock class perfectly. The ideal beer to drink as you send your minions to do battle for you, cause widespread destruction and cackle madly while you watch your enemies flee in terror. The beer itself is an exceptional one, with a taste similar to an IPA, but more complex, and smoother. A sweet start with a bitter, spicy finish.

A proud warlock brew that mages simply can’t handle

Warrior: This class is nothing if not stout, and Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is a perfect homage to these battle-hardened denizens of Azeroth. A very dark beer (black with a tan head) that can almost be a meal in itself, this brew is incredibly smooth almost to the point of being silky, and very rich. The sweetness of the beer is balanced by the coffee and chocolate flavors, and creates an immensely satisfying drinking experience. This strikes me as the kind of beer a warrior would drink.

The perfect beer for the warrior that wades happily into battle

I admit to being disappointed that some of my favorite breweries and go-to choices at the store didn’t make this list. Magic Hat, Samuel Adams, and Sierra Nevada make good, solid beers, but were not especially good fits for this article. Nonetheless I feel that their consistency in making very good beer warrants a mention here at the end.

In addition to enjoying some beer while you play Warcraft, I hope this inspires you to try some of the excellent brews right across the aisle from the cheap stuff that so many people seem to be content with. Thanks again to Arolaide for all her help. Happy Hunting, and Hooray for Good Beer.

Foundations of Success

As people reading my blog or following my Twitter feed probably noticed I have gotten hooked on Starcraft 2 competitive gaming. An explanation is critical here, and I will try to be brief.

At its core, multiplayer Starcraft 2 is an economy based game. You can go to websites like Team Liquid and find build orders, unit counters, explanations of micro (small army movements that can increase unit efficiency), and other information. For a beginner, none of it matters. When you watch professionals, it can lead you to the misconception that these things are critical to success, because it often separates the winner and loser in these professional matches. What many people fail to notice is that these games come down to micro-management because those players have exceptional fundamentals. Without fundamentals, those players wouldn’t be competing professionally. Macro is the key to becoming an exceptional SC2 player. It is the foundation the rest of your game is built on, and without it you will limit your own potential. I’ve embedded a game showcasing exceptional fundamentals (also shamelessly showing my favorite player currently,  TaeJa). You’ll notice that professional players have very little minerals and gas (top right corner), because they are constantly creating units and productions buildings.

When I learned this I was totally blown away. Not because it was some new truth I had never heard, but because it was consistent with all of my other life experiences, and made absolute sense. I’ve spent 12 years coaching basketball, and one thing has been true ever since I started to seriously look at the game and learn how to teach it. That the fundamentals were absolutely critical. Critical to the point that you should avoid teaching any advanced concepts (including running a set offense) before those fundamentals are mastered. Who cares how crisp and perfect your cuts are if the person with the ball is busying staring at it while they dribble. There must be a strong foundation to be able to achieve your maximum potential. Obviously, this isn’t a basketball blog, so I’m not going to go into the detail of how to teach athletes how to play while ensuring their fundamentals don’t slip, but it can (and needs) to be done.

So how do you start to be successful ? You start by identifying the foundation of your endeavor, and you make sure that you develop the fundamentals necessary to have a strong foundation.

Discovering another example of this consistent theme got me thinking about World of Warcraft, and it made me realize that for all of my success in the game, and  all of my accomplishments, I hadn’t really identified what the foundation of a good Warcraft player was. New players are bombarded with information, and god forbid they try to find useful information online. Sure, there are reputable locations of knowledge, but how long does it take for the new player to find? BiS lists, optimal professions and enchants, detailed accounts of which abilities to use in certain circumstances are worthless to the new player. This information is great if you have a foundation in gameplay, but if you are still learning its information overload. A moderately new website called Noxxic is doing a good job of presenting easily digestible information and deserves a mention here. Below is my first attempt at identifying the foundation of good Warcraft play.

1. Stay Alive: A well known joke that circulates the WoW community is that ‘dead hunters do zero DPS.’ I promise that’s my last shot at hunters in this post. The phrase simply means that dead players do not complete quests, kill monsters, or help their team win. If you have an ‘Oh s#$%!’ button, hit it. If you are a healer, use your healing spells. Watch your health bar and make sure you aren’t standing in fire. Sure, you’ll die with some regularity in WoW, but don’t die constantly and unnecessarily.

2. Hit your buttons: Your character has spells and abilities. They all do something, and even though some are more powerful than others it’s pretty important to get into the habit of always hitting a button when it becomes available. This isn’t optimal play (especially for healers), but it’s better to be able to spam damage/healing abilities when you need to than to learn slow, and then try to be faster. Last year there was a mage that asked me for some DPS help. While I’m not an expert on mages, I am the raid leader, so I’m here to help. I got on my mage, and the first thing we did was hit the target dummy. After the 4 min DPS burn we compared damage meters. I cast considerably more fireballs than she did, and really, what is there left to analyze at that point. Play with urgency – your speed matters when raiding and PvPing. Figure out which abilities you should be using, and use the hell out of them.

3. Spatial Awareness: Know your surroundings. This matters when questing, raiding, or pvping. Are you stacking up or spreading out? Are you alone at the farm while all of your teammates are racing for the blacksmith? Is there a patrol near that pack of monsters you need for a quest? Pay attention to your surroundings, know where to be and when to be there.

This is a short list, and maybe its accuracy is questionable, but the exercise is critical. Whenever we start something – a new job, a new hobby, a new relationship – our success will be determined on how strong our foundation is. The stronger our foundation, the more we can build on it.

The Predictability Problem in Raiding

I’ve been pretty busy lately. I could say that my job has intruded into my blogging and playing time, but it’s more accurate to say that my free time simply dried up due to an influx of extra work. I apologize to anyone that was consistently reading my talent tier posts, and I’ll be continuing them as soon as time allows. Today’s post is something completely different though. I’ve been playing a lot of Starcraft 2 lately, and it has me thinking long and hard about World of Warcraft.

Before recently SC2 was a casual gaming activity for me as I worked through the “Wings of Liberty” campaign (SC2 is a RTS game with multiple game modes) first on Normal difficulty, and then on Hard. Around this time I decided to try its Multiplayer Mode, and all hell broke loose. As of yesterday I’ve played 16 bronze ladder (lowest 20% of players based on mathematical model, starting position for new players) matches with a very modest record of 7-9. From my perspective as a moderately experienced PvP participant (2v2, 3v3, BGs) in WoW, SC2 multiplayer is an immensely better PvP experience. RTS and MMORPG are completely different gaming experiences. But that’s not to say we can’t learn something from the tremendous success of Starcraft 2, and I think we can apply it to raiding.

Predictability

World of Warcraft raiding is a game design built around experience, failure, learning, and mastery (I knew my Master of Science in Education degree would come in handy someday. Totally worth the $23,000. I need a drink). The better your raid team is, the faster you reach the mastery level. It is a simple system, and if the encounter is too simple then mastery is easily attainable (‘sup Morchok). Create too much randomness, and mastery becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible (Fuck you Rhyolith). I emphasized randomness in order to differentiate from unpredictability. They are not the same, despite their similarity.

What makes SC2 great in multiplayer mode is the nature of its predictability. In a 1v1 matchup you could get a 2 base map or a 4 base map. You could be playing against 1 of 3 races (each with their own strengths and weaknesses). That map could have easily defensible positions, or maybe not. After all of this is established you still have to scout your opponent, because each race has tons of builds (strategies) that you have to be able to identify and counter. If all of this sounds like too much work, think about how much effort goes into establishing stat weights, BiS lists, favorable raid compositions, raid boss strategies, and spell priorities. It isn’t more work, it’s just a different approach to game design.

The difference is that SC2 thrives on the inability of the player to predict what their opponent will do, whereas WoW thrives on the ability of its player base to predict and react to boss mechanics. However, the same raid encounter design in WoW also causes players to become bored with content once they’ve reached mastery. The boss does the exact same thing at the exact same time over and over and over again.

The Success of Tier 11

Halfus Wyrmbreaker was one of my favorite encounters in Cataclysm. In fact, Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent were my favorite raids of the expansion. There are encounters in every raid that introduce unpredictable components (Fading Light, Ice Lance, Face Rage, Roaring Flame Breath, etc.) but these are, in my opinion, poor substitutes for unpredictability and better described as randomness. And remember, a little randomness is good. It keeps players on their feet, and forces them to react. But they are still predictable. You know Ultraxion is going to cast Fading Light, you just don’t know who it is going to hit.

Let get back to Halfus. This was the entry encounter in Bastion of Twilight, and it was an encounter that changed every week. On normal mode there were 3 active drakes each week, but the combination of drakes available were not the same every week, forcing your raid to adapt and communicate your strategy before the pull. I always liked the encounter for this reason, but never really explored why until now. It was the anticipation that I enjoyed. Was I going to be tanking the boss or the drakes? Was it going to be a relatively easy combination, or a difficult one? I realize now that I loved running through these thoughts as we cleared trash and prepared ourselves for Halfus. This was a fight that was both predictable (through consistent mechanics and timing) and unpredictable (through different mechanics based on encounter composition). For example, the Nether Scion had a predictable mechanic that you could react to, but you didn’t know each week if you would have to. I really believe that this is an exceptional encounter design compared to a fight like Shannox, which is a completely predictable encounter with elements of randomness built-in. And it really is disappointing to see the Heroic version of Halfus removed that by having all 5 drakes active. Sure, it made the encounter more difficult by forcing the raid to deal with more abilities, but it made it more predictable, and in my mind, less compelling.

I might surprise some people with my second choice of a good raid design with a nod to unpredictable. The Omnotron Defense System (ODS) encounter was very enjoyable from this perspective. Each encounter started with one of four members of the ODS active, and while one unit was active, you would be notified which unit was next. Each pull created a different sequence of the four members of the ODS, making it unpredictable but allowing for mastery of each member’s mechanics. This is exceptional raid design.

The Fine Line Between Random and Unpredictable

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping is a great example of exploring the line between random and unpredictable. In fact, I would argue that it is very similar to ODS, and was my favorite encounter of the Dragon Soul raid. Yor’sahj summons 3 slimes (4 on heroic), and the raid can only kill one. Your raid decides which slime to kill, and deals with the mechanics of the other 2 (3) that are allowed to survive. This makes the encounter different on every pull, introducing a desirable amount of unpredictability that your raid team has to react to. It also has an appropriate mastery level. Until you over-gear the content, you must master the combined mechanics that you can see, and once you do the success rate increases.

Yor’sahj’s counterpart Warlord Zon’ozz in a good example of a terrible encounter. Despite the originality of the void sphere, it is a horrible mechanic that is completely random. The members of the raid have very little real control over where the sphere floats, and it doesn’t behave the way you would expect it. This isn’t unpredictable, it’s random and stupid and frustrating. There is no mastery of the void sphere mechanic here, either it works as intended on the pull, or it doesn’t, and that is not a good design.

Randomness and Loss of Control

No discussion on this topic would be complete without mentioning Lord Rhyolith. This Firelands encounter was terrible on normal and heroic mode. From Wowhead’s comment section:

40

By Rygol (2,255 – 3·26on 2011/07/17 (Patch 4.2.0) Report
Worst designed heroic fight by far, this boss is completely governed by how well RNG praises your guild.

Last edited by Rygol on 2011/08/17 (Patch 4.2.0)
upvote11downvote GullaDaPwna on 2011/08/13 (Patch 4.2.0)I agree even on normal mode RNG has a lot to do with it..We oneshotted him last week because active volcanoes spawned right in the path we were already taking and now this week they spawn directly opposite of the one we’re going after…very lame

I’m not going to go into depth about how some nights it felt like the boss was NEVER going to turn, or the times when you missed the volcano by one pixel, or when volcanoes seemed to spawn practically IN THE FUCKING LAVA (which the boss couldn’t touch), or how much fun it was when a volcano activated right BEHIND the boss assuring you wouldn’t be getting to it anytime soon. I also won’t lament the fact the a guild working through phase 2 of Ragnaros could still wipe on Rhyolith if you got unlucky, or that there were nights that ended with Rhyolith because we ran out of time waiting for the RNG gods. The unofficial stats show that I consumed approximately 137.9% more alcohol on Rhyolith nights that any other raid boss since I started tanking in Wrath. Rhyolith is a good example of complete and utter failure in compelling raid design.

Players do not like – and for good reason – when they have reached a level of mastery with an encounter, but still fail due to something outside of their control. This is why Rhyolith was failure despite an admirable attempt at an original design. Here’s hoping that raid designs lean more towards Halfus and less towards Rhyolith as we head to Pandaria.

We’re So Talented! DK Edition, Tier 2: Utility

Welcome to the second installment of Death Knight talent analysis here at Dreadblade. This week I will be fighting with people who argue that Anti-Magic Zone is useless looking at Tier 2 talents available to level 57 Death Knights. I consider this tier to be our utility tier. Each talent offers some benefits to your character and raid. Let’s dive in.

Utility Talents available at level 57

Lichborne – Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec.  While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects, and Death Coil will heal you. (No cost, 2 min cooldown)

Anti-Magic Zone – Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 75%.  The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 10 sec or until it absorbs at least 136800 + ((STR * 4)) spell damage. (No cost, 2 min cooldown, base absorb scales with level)

Purgatory – An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive.  This effect may only occur every 3 min. (No cost, passive activation)

Continue reading We’re So Talented! DK Edition, Tier 2: Utility

E-Sports: The Fact and the Fiction

E-Sports is a really interesting term for me, as someone who is a professional in athletics. On one hand, electronic competition has little right to call it self a sport because of the lack of physical exertion (and I tend to include bowling and golf into these categories as well), but E-Competition or E-Comp doesn’t quite have the same ring to it and if bowling is a sport, well, I’m willing to let it slide. Especially because in every other way, online cooperative and competitive gaming is incredibly similar to competitive sports. I would argue that Raid Groups, PvP teams, and competitive gamers have more in common with sports teams than they realize or that they may like to admit.

I think many people would agree that sports and video games (despite the popularity of video games about sports) don’t get along all that well. Not long ago I got lost in reading some internet rage in regards to the terms nerd and geek, and it really wasn’t until then that I realized how out-of-place I was as a jock-gamer-math/science nerd. During our youth I think its fair to say that gamers/nerds/geeks don’t really get along with ‘jocks.’ It’s a shame, because as I mentioned earlier, they really have no idea how much they have in common.

I don’t really think I fit the stereotype of gamer. In fact, I seem to exist in some sort of stereotype purgatory between my professional life and my personal life. In my professional life I coach women’s basketball, and have done so in some form for the past 12 years from middle school through community college. Its my life’s passion and I have every intention of furthering my career at the college level. I belong to professional organizations, I am a representative of my area in one of these organizations, and I attend seminars and maintain an active online presence. In my personal life I enjoy reading, playing video games, and watching a select few shows that catch my fancy. I am the raid leader of a casual 10 man team in a guild that I’ve belonged to ever since I started playing WoW. I am registered with numerous websites, maintain an online presence with this blog and as a contributor on forums, and read guides to keep my expertise up to date. For me, there is virtually no difference between the personal and the professional.

Cooperative and competitive gaming has replaced the rush I used to get (and sometimes still do) from sports. Which is good, because when you are 31 and have had 2 major knee surgeries (ACL reconstructions), a multitude of ankle and shoulder injuries, and an ever-increasing daily reminder of those injuries with arthritis, going out to play basketball or hockey or volleyball isn’t necessarily a great idea. But I have World of Warcraft, and I have Starcraft 2. From an emotional standpoint the anticipation of battle, the frustration of failure, the rush of success – it’s all there. In my guild I have found my place in a team again. I belong to a group of people who can accomplish more through teamwork and communication together, than they ever could alone. In essence, this is what sports is all about too. This is what everyone makes a big deal about. Watching a group of people come together to be more than they thought they could be is exhilarating. Watching the ups and downs, the evolving strategies, it’s all part of the entertainment.

When I watch a Starcraft 2 stream and see a player with flawless timing and ruthless efficiency dismantle an opponent I am blown away with amazement. This is the same emotional reaction I have watching a player like Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) or Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins). It’s astonishing to watch these people to excel at an activity that you know is difficult, and to do it at a level that other athletes/gamers simply can’t reach.

Story time, and I’ll make it brief. When I was 17 I played in my very last organized basketball game of my career, even though I didn’t know it at the time. I had spent the entire previous year recovering from my first knee surgery, and my team was playing a superior opponent on their home court. Sometime in the first half I hurt my ankle. Bad. Really Bad. Bone chips, partially torn tendons, the whole deal. I couldn’t walk off the court. I hobbled off, looking at my family (crying), my teammates (damn close), and my coach (trying to look encouraging). I was devastated. I asked the trainer to tape it. I took Ibuprofen and tried to go out for halftime warm ups. I never made it, the pain was just excruciating. We got beat soundly (probably would have anyway). Afterwards I cried with my 2 best friends (we are still close today). I tried so hard for my teammates, those guys were my family, and I felt like I had let them down. I was miserable for weeks.

Almost exactly 10 years later and I was the main tank for my guild and experiencing my very first expansion as a raider in Wrath of the Lich King. It was exciting and fun. I enjoyed the thrill of killing new bosses, or doing particularly well on an encounter. I got annoyed at wipes and failures, always trying to figure out how to do it better next time. I read guides, changed my UI, and created macros. At some point we found ourselves at Kel’Thuzad and it was my job to tank him. It was nerve-wracking but fun in a way that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. After a few weeks of learning mechanics we were close to a kill. But I effed up a number of times. Failed to interrupt, stood in void zones because I was watching range indicators – you name it, I botched it. Basically for this one week I was the only thing standing in the way of clearing Naxxramas, and the feeling was pretty awful. The following week I was perfect, and KT died. I shouted pretty loudly and was grinning ear to ear. Loot be damned, I did my job, and helped my team get a kill. I was hooked.

It turns out that sports and gaming have quite a lot in common.

I love my guild. We aren’t perfect – we are far from it I’m sure. I love my raid team too, even when they drive me nuts. I’m a lifer. If you want to know where to find me, I’ll be on Baelgun with The Brotherhood of Kharn. After all, they’re family.

Edit: It turns out someone else recently had something to say about E-Sports! Head over to tl;dr to see an analytical perspective of the same topic.

Raiding and Diminishing Returns

I had a visceral reaction to a opinion piece I read recently  at WoW Insider by Olivia Grace.

YES!!

It was weird reading something that I felt I could have written (not as an assessment of the writing chops of Ms. Grace, just as a connection between writer and reader). I know that from time to time that happens as I read the newspaper or articles on the internet, but it was the first time I felt it so acutely while reading about raiding. I wrote in an earlier post about moving into HM raiding and why is was fun for me, but in the comments section it came up that it was difficult to field a full raid team because we lost a key component who wasn’t interested in wiping anymore, and really just wanted to farm normal mode or do alt runs.

As an aside and update, we haven’t even done a HM raid encounter in about 2 weeks between Diablo 3 and some work responsibilities for me. Turns out replacing a HM-ready tank is harder than a HM-ready DPS.

Back to the topic at hand. This weekend I had 48 hours away from the wife and kids who had a family gathering out of town, and I had work that couldn’t be cancelled. I set some lofty goals for myself in that time, committed to capping VP on 3 max level toons (Leodar, Leorad, and Maskaris), leveling my Fire Mage (Tindar) from 84-85, clearing 2 missions in Starcraft 2 on Hard, and playing some Diablo 3. How did I do? Well, I did 2 full run throughs in LFR, did 5 heroics, and did level the mage; but no Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3. So I met some goals, and others eluded me.

The reason for this relates back to how I feel about playing WoW and the article that inspired the post. I simply burned out, because there was no challenge involved in what I was doing (and therefore no fun). The goals I set for myself in WoW had nothing to do with challenging myself, it was like making a to-do list of gaming chores. This turned out to be a bad idea, because at that point the only thing keeping me going was the possibility of loot, which is not my major motivation in playing WoW. For me all of these games are subject to diminishing returns – they simply become less fun the more I play them. I have a lot of ways to ‘reset’ the fun, and that’s what I really should have done this weekend. PvP, soloing old content (difficult, and therefore, fun), switching games, writing a blog post (sorry for the 2 week hiatus, but I really am a slave of quality over quantity) and recharged my gaming batteries. I’m hopeful that this week we have enough to do some heroic boss encounters, because if I have to Death Strike my way through normal mode again I’m going fall asleep on Ysera’s platform. If that does happen, however, at least now I have remembered how to reset the fun.

I have hit this wall at the end of both expansions since I’ve started raiding consistently, and the reason remains the same. The longer I do the same thing over and over, the less value I get out of it. This is the only complaint I have with the Raid Finder, it made the point of diminishing returns in Dragon Soul creep up much faster on me than I expected. I think, moving forward, its going to be important to limit my LFR time on my main character when Mists of Pandaria is released. Instead, my non-raiding characters are going to move through LFR one at a time.

Having learned from my mistake by Saturday evening I went about recovering.

Step 1: Purchase wet-shaving accessories (something I have been putting off for weeks).

Step 2: Watch the Celtics beat Philadelphia in Game 7 while drinking Magic Hat Elder Betty (Elderberry Weiss, try it, trust me).

Step 3: Review PvP strategies for Leodar (Unholy Spec) and Tindar (Frost Spec).

And finally, I’m watching Mythbusters (easily my favorite non-sitcom) running non-stop on Discovery channel and writing a blog post this morning.

Suffice to say, the reset button has been pushed.

P.S. The only hiccup to this weekend was watching “Land of the Lost” on HBO last night. I honestly don’t think I have ever seen anything so bad in my entire life. And I’ve watched a lot of bad stuff.