Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Woes of a Casual

This entry should probably be about the Blizzard class design and balance Q&A. If you noticed the title, it should be abundantly clear that it's not. The World of Warcraft community is most likely quite interested in these changes, and I'll follow suit eventually. At the moment I'm a bit consumed with my own future in the game, and while that is largely connected to things like class design, my focus lies elsewhere.

Tuesdays are my raid night. As I've mentioned before, Cereal Killers raids on more than one day a week, but due to outside factors I only have one official night of scheduled game play. Despite how long I've been playing, I still get excited for a new lockout and the possibilities held therein. This week had an elevated potential because of our plans to try some heroic modes. To cut to the chase, our first experiment with Firelands heroics was both underwhelming and entirely predictable. My experiences Tuesday inflamed a lot of feelings I have toward my guildmates and the game it self.

 It's late Wednesday night and I've had some time to mull this over quite a few times. One concept that I've focused on in my frustration is player identity. I'm not just talking about the fact that I play a paladin named Jacklalane, but that's woven in there. My identity, my M.O., is closely related to what matters to me in things I devote my time to: validation. When I'm in your raid, I'm there to be the best player I can be. Sure, on one of our heroic Shannox fights I tripped on an immolation trap and took a bunch of damage, but it only happened once that night. Raiding is, to me, largely about showing my peers that I know my shit. When I'm in the role of a DPS I'm in it to be at the top of that damage meter. I take the very presence of other players in my raid as a welcome challenge to best them. I deeply enjoy the fact that I come prepared with the knowledge of how to play my raiding main to the highest level possible. Whether or not I succeed is always up for debate, but nobody can argue that I try.

 Being considered a valuable asset to my team is important to me, so I act in such a way as to try to embody value. I knew that we were doing heroics on Tuesday, so I brushed up on strategies. Videos were watched, posts read. Although I was most likely to be in a DPS role, I made sure I knew the healing requirements for the two fights we had in our sights. I never assumed to the contrary, but let me reassure you that heroic modes are indeed markedly more difficult than normals. It is in light of all this that I have since felt resentful to the majority of my raiding team that almost nobody came prepared to run heroic Shannox or Baleroc. It felt like they couldn't give a shit less.

 I set up an account with World of Logs for Tuesday's raid. Partly to help @TikariOfET and @TrocarRogue out with a parse for a raiding Assassination rogue, but also to do some analysis myself. The boastful asshole in me also finds a lot of pleasure in being able to oogle those fights I did the highest DPS on.

Sadly, the Firelands raid parse gave me concrete evidence of things I already knew. Our players lack a basic level of class knowledge that I believe is key to success in heroics. The log of all three of our H Shannox attempts show a total of zero defensive cooldowns used by our main tank. I have nothing but love for Josh. He and I have been playing this game, more or less together, almost since I started. Ironically, he's responsible for the value I place in knowing my shit. Sadly, he appears to not care enough about the mastery of his character enough to know that tank survival isn't always through the RNG of dodges and parries, or through blocking massive amounts by stacking mastery. He's our GM and is an elegant representation of how most of our other players treat their participation in this game. The rogue in our group consistently ignores the benefits of using Tricks of the Trade on a DPS throughout fights. Baleroc took damage from his rupture only 32 times. I couldn't find a d.o.t. uptime % for that, but both of the above mentioned twitter rogues said that's insufficient. Our arcane mage doesn't use mana gems, ever. He also only did 14k dps and a total damage done % that was a scant .5% over our feral druid tank. Please keep in mind that Baleroc was (and still is) one of the fights we have high hopes to beat on heroic.

Prior to pulling the gatekeeper, I got into a brief argument with our druid healer about raid preparedness.  While we were trying to decide whether or not to make any heroic attempts, I started griping in /raid about the fact that people were patently unprepared with even a basic idea of the strategies for heroics.  She countered with the fact that "that's why we're discussing it now." Derp.  Really?  Given the beating we took on Shannox, which is supposed to be zergable and "easy," did she really not see that people should have done some fucking homework?  Did I have some kind of notion that this knowledge would have resulted in one-shotting these bosses?  Absolutely not.  However, I recognized the fact that knowing the fight will save time.  The flip side of that is that not knowing is a waste of everybody's time.

All of this has been crashing around in my head since raid ended.  To add insult to injury, we called it early for some reason that night too.  That means we didn't kill our normal 6/7 bosses, we only got five.  My chances at getting an offspec tier token are nonexistent until our priests get their first set, but I still wanted a shot at Jaws of Defeat.  I'm also trying to take my new primary DPS role with grace, but I can't help but be miffed by how all of my holy gear seems to be a shiny purple waste of flaming cloth-plate right about now.

So, what do I do?  Our resto shaman, Shampagne (whom I think is an excellent player) was chatting with me all night on Tuesday.  He's of a similar frame of mind in that he's disappointed with the guild.  We both came to the conclusion that we might be happier somewhere else, but that poses its own problems.  Compared to where my gear might be if I were in a successful heroic guild, I'm arguably undergeared.  This week's Baleroc kill marks my personal best DPS (just a hair under 24k,) but how does that stack up to the 30k+ that's more common in heroic guilds?  How do I market myself?  "Yeah, I'll own face in your alt raid.  Can I join your guild and leech?"  I see myself as a bit behind and quite unattractive to a group that is looking to recruit somebody who can contribute on a level relative to their own baseline.  I'm confident in my healing as well, but how do I jump into a group that is currently doing hard progression runs where min/maxing matters they're barely eeking out kills as it is?  Since the new content of patch 4.3 isn't exactly going to level the playing field, I'm pretty stumped on what to do.

At the moment raiding seems pretty important to me.  I love watching heroic mode kill videos for various classes.  My Ui is based off of design elements from players in Blood Legion, a successful "U.S. Firsts" type of guild.  This emulation is partly because their setups are functional and elegant, but also because these players represent a type of professionalism in the game.  It's a little bizarre to think of it this way, but it's almost like players in guilds like that are celebrities to me.  Even non-world first heroic raiders are almost like professional athletes.  There's a lot of grumbling in the player base of WoW about how raid content isn't difficult and Blizzard is begrudged for nerfs and for catering to casuals.  My guild can't even take the game seriously enough to kill tier 11 content.  Hell, the last time we tried to kill the Lich King on ten man heroic mode we wiped for an hour. In t11/t12 gear.  Derp?  I think so.  I'm very disappointed and frustrated with things right now and I hope I can find a solution to make myself happier in game.

In other news, I finally got rid of my engineering helm and upgraded to Greathelm of the Voracious Paladeathknightadin.
My descent into deathknighthood continues.
Anyway, thanks for reading.  I'm hoping to do a fun, nostalgic post on twinking soon, so stay tuned!

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