With Tricks of the Trade generating a hefty 15% damage increase, and too be frank the added threat has no meaning anymore to really worry about, (can you remember the last time you managed to pull threat off a tank in an end game raid?), a long standing ploy with rogues has been to swap tricks back and forth during a boss fight to boost their dps. Which was why I was kind of embarressed the other night after downing Saurfang when the other rogue asked in raid chat if I had been giving him tricks. Because I hadn’t. I assume that he had been giving me tricks as I was top of the meter on that fight by around 750dps. I hastily whispered him my apologies and then spent the whole of the fight of Rotface trying to give him tricks whilst running around with yucky slimes chasing me, which was damn difficult I can tell you.

But this tricks swapping has always confused me, and here is why. In my old guild, back in the day, when we were running Ulduar and Trial of the being bored out of your mind, there were a few other rogues in the guild who alternated between coming on runs with myself being the constant. It was around this time that tricks came into vogue with being raid swapped in this way, and I clearly remember the first time I ventured to ask one of the other rogues if he wanted to swap tricks with me during the run.

He flat out refused. As did the other rogue. And with no door left ajar for any sort of discussion on the issue. I felt that I had made a terrible social indescretion, like getting drunk when you’re 16 and attempting to make out with your hot first cousin in front of your relatives. It leaves you with a clear feeling of never wanting to go there ever again. But in my courageous attempts to improve my game play I decided to ask in every PuG if the other rogues wanted to swap tricks.

“Would you like to swap tricks for this fight?”

“No.”

I appreciate the no. Sometimes they just ignore you and you’re left wondering if they missed the whisper or if they are purposely ignoring you and if you ask them again they’ll scream obscenities in your general direction. So you stand around like the poor schmucks at the grade 10 school dance who are never and I mean never going to get asked to twirl around the room.

So when our other guild rogue asked me this the other night I was mightilly confused. Had I been right all this time? Was it all the other moron rogues and not me? But now I didn’t do it when I should have done and I’m in trouble again! ARAGHGHGHHGGHGHGH!

And I still don’t understand where to go with this because I just know next Sunday I’m going to whisper him if he wants to swap tricks and he’s going to ignore me and go dance with somebody else.

We ran ICC on Sunday night with the ganking guild, (which means we are a pee vee pee guild at heart for those of you who don’t know). We cleared the lower wing with ease, although we wiped once on heroic gunship when we all forgot to equip our jetpacks before the fight, (NOOOOOBBSSS!!!), and once on Saurfang because we didn’t set our handling of the adds properly.

Then we moved into the next section of the raid where I had never been before, which entailed me quickly flicking back to my saved pages of rogue tactics online. It said that the next boss was Festergut who was a simple rogue fight apart from giving people a buff when you got it, so I thought cool baby and up we went. We took down the nasty Valkyrie trash and the two big doggies and then we began fighting the boss. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to his name because within a very short space of time I worked out that this was not a simple rogue fight, what with slimes everywhere and this guy spinning around on me so I was facing his front all of a sudden. This was not the fight that I had just read up on. This was Rotface. I managed to stay up until the wipe and then got clobbered to death. We picked ourselves up and after I read the correct fight details, we did it again. And we got him down, which was a marvelous feeling.

At that point we had to call it due to people leaving, but still it was a good run. Particularly because I finally got a weapon upgrade for my PvE spec when the Bone Wardens Splitter dropped off Marrowgar. I have been using the Kenetic Ripper which is a ilvl219 weapon for too long now so this was a huge upgrade for me. Only one problem; there was another rogue in the raid who wanted it just as much as I did. I am pretty calm when it comes to loot. I don’t get worked up, I don’t get all upset when a hunter rolls on my leather, (like fuck I don’t). But when a major weapon upgrade drops I am all over that baby like a rash.

This was a GDKP run and the first big one that I had been on. The bidding started at 100g, which my rogue friend duely began. I hit it up to 500g because I didn’t want to fuck around. He hit it up to 1000g because he didn’t want to fuck around either. And up we went to 1600g when he suddenly dropped out. I thought that it was going to have to go much higher but in the end I got off lightly. The best bids were for the ilvl264 heroic drops off the gunship – some plate and a shield, which got up around the 4000g mark for each. At the end of the run there was over 10K to divide up between everyone, so I got just over 1K back from my one and only bid. I love this syetm, I really do because everyone gets something, whether it be gold or loots or both. And the best part is that the loots go to those that really, really want them. It’s all too easy to press roll and take something away, but when you have to cough up the cold hard cash you start to understand who really wants something or not. A death knight who had only joined the guild a few days before and who had only just hit 80 scored the heroic plate armor, which looked amusing offset with all his blues.

Gevlon was raid leading and his method of getting us to pick up our game was to calmly inform us that he had cleared these very same bosses the night before with his blue geared project and their average dps was around 3500, which is a great motivator to put your head down and do the job. Now all I have to do is get my head down and make some more gold before we go in again tonight. Or maybe I’ll just sit back and let people bid like crazy and get my gold that way!

Yesterday we held Wintergrasp for three straight victories. We lost the fourth because by that stage the horde were so annoyed they must have turned up with everyone on the server and the zerg was impossible to stop. We now have almost 40 level 80 players in the guild, so at any one time at least 10 of us are going into WG. The strategy planning is interesting because we have to make provision for two things: how to win against the horde and how to counter the random idiots who will show up on our own team. Someone will put forward a good attack plan but then we will spend most of our time working out how to send our moron allies off out of harms way, while thinking that they are at the cutting edge of the battle.

Anyway, after the third win we decided to do a VoA 25 man run. Half were guildies and half were PuGs. Crucially, the tanks were members of our guild, so we could easily control the run. A few of the PuGs were very loud-mouthed in the lead up to starting the run. I don’t know if they were excitied about seeing a 25 man VoA on the server after 60 years of not having one or if that was their normal behavior, but whatever the cause they were vocal and moronic. Gevlon may not be the best tactical leader but he sure is the best leader of the group when there are morons to be dealt with that I have ever seen. The first boss we did was the stone giant, and Gevlon announced before the fight that this was a dps test and anyone who did under 1500 would be kicked. Nobody was kicked. Then we did the Fire boss with the same conditions applying. Still nobody was kicked. Don’t get me wrong, they were vocal about this, but when it came time to put out the damage they got their heads down and did it. Then we moved on to the Ice boss that drops the sweet 270 loots. Gevlon came up with a fantastic plan: the lowest ranged dps on the orbs wouldn’t get any loot. There was howling about that, but when it came to the fight everyone did what they were supposed to do and we one shotted the boss. He dropped, and within 10 seconds the chat was filled with something like this; (I’m para-phrasing)

“Gevlon you fucking piece of shit you can’t fucking run it this way who the fuck do you thinkl yopu are you fucking son of a whore …”

He went on for quite a bit longer. Then unsurprisingly, he was kicked. This was a shadow priest, (there were no cloth drops), who put out 6800 dps, and who had been one of the vocal idiots during the whole run. I asked in chat what was his problem as I genuinely had no idea. His problem was with the rule for ranged dps on orbs. Forcing him to do his job had caused his dps to drop below some of the melee on the recount chart. Thus his temper tantrum.

I was staggered by this. I mean, we all make fun of gearscore, we all argue over recount and what its positive and negative points are, but at the end of the day most of us doing the arguing here in the blogosphere are somewhat sane and rational. So to see recounts true effect on players who don’t think somewhat sane and rationally is … insane. This guy had the biggest dummy-spit that I have ever seen in a PuG, and a PuG that was a complete success with no wipes and just one or two deaths. And what was it over? It was because someone succeeded in forcing him to do his required task at the expense of the recount meter. Because he did his task we got the boss down. But this upset him, a lot. Because he was only 4th on recount for that fight. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Now I know that Gevlon used recount at the beginning to threaten players with being kicked if they didn’t perform, but that was a minimum number, not a maximum. All you had to do was your required task and be above 1500dps. If the highest dps got a reward then that would be different as this players dps would have been “compromised” in such a situation.

I like recount and I refer to it often to gauge how I am performing. But the extent to which this tool is misused had escaped me until this situation yesterday. Gevlons idea of lowest ranged dps on orbs gets no loot was a brilliant one in this case. But going on how players are motivated by recount in a negative way, you will need to come up with a plan like this for every fight just to get players to do their job. Based on this, Blizzard has a sure-fire way to create a boss that a 25 man PuG will NEVER get down: make it so that a successful attempt will require dps players to run around and do all sorts of jobs so that if they do it properly their dps will never go above 2000. Or even better, include a special prize that the boss give out to a player in a group that wipes whose dps was over 10,000 lets say in this case. Evil.

Some players dropped the group after this but we decided to try the last boss anyway. But as we got there, one of the hunters misdirected the boss onto our group, left the instance and we wiped. Apparently he too was very annoyed at being forced to complete a task at the expense of his dps. Another PuG who had been fairly quiet for most of the run then said that we would be lucky to ever form a 25 man PuG again on the server and he dropped the group. So to sum it all up; we nuked the bosses, never wiped, and got the loots, but we will never form another PuG again because we made people do their jobs.

Oh, and no rogue loots dropped, sheesh.

ps; apparently the priest was not kicked, he quit group himself. And the rules were all clearly stated in raid chat before the first boss went down and players were saved to the raid.

When I teach people to whitewater kayak or raft I always have to do a little bit of brain massaging to help them learn some basic concepts. The brain is such a powerful tool, (apart from for a lot of players on my server), but if you don’t direct it properly it can work against you in unforseen ways. Case in point: once a new kayaker has learned the basics; how to paddle properly, extract themselves from the kayak if it’s upside down, etc; we move on to running a river. There is a nice rapid that I take them on and it’s very simple – some moving water that flows around a bend. The river is about 30 meters wide at this point. Just one little obstacle to negotiate – in the middle-right of the river sits a large rock. My instructions to them are simple: don’t hit the rock. 90% of my students however, do just that. They hit the rock. Time after time. I always try and let them figure it out for themselves, as you retain knowledge better that way. But there comes a point where you have to spell it out for them.

The problem is their focus. They are trying so hard to avoid the rock, that they are focusing 100% on the rock. So that’s where they go. The brain does not diferentiate between positives and negatives. If you’re repeating over and over in your head, “Don’t go near the rock, don’t go near the rock, don’t go near the rock,” all the brain is hearing is the word, rock. And that’s where you end up going. I simply get them to change their focus to where they want to go. And for them it’s like magic, the very first time they glide effortlessly past the rock. And then I make them buy me some beers.

I was reminded of this process last night in the Ice Cream Citadel. The weekly raid was Marrowgar, so in we dutifully went. Not geared that well, and a pvp guild at that, but we one shotted both Marrogar and Lady D. As usual, no drops for rogues. Gotta get me some plate! But I digress. We moved on to the big gunship battle where we decided to do it on heroic becuase it drops lots of loots. It was the first time on this fight for many of us and we wiped twice. I lasted about 10 seconds in the first fight as I jumped straight across, not realising that we had to wait for the mage to come out, and finding myself alone on the other ship. The second time I lasted longer but got stupidly bladestormed down on my own ship. I hate those whirly warriors. That was when we decided to go back to normal mode. This time we executed the fight perfectly, didn’t lose a single person, and the loot chest was ours. So we opened the chest to find …

Heroic drops. It turned out that we hadn’t switched heroic mode off at all. But we thought we had. Our brains had switched from ‘this is hard’ to ‘this is easy’ mode. And it was, it was easy. Now, a good deal of this can be put down to us understanding the fight on the third attempt as opposed to the first attempt. But there is still an element of the brain tricking you here, only in this example for the better. We were focusing on the fight, but relaxed in the knowledge that we would surely prevail after getting close on the hard mode. We weren’t thinking, ‘Oh no hard mode.’ We were thinking, ‘oh cool easy mode.’ Except it wasn’t. Stìll, no loot drops for rogues even on this mode … sigh.

We moved onto the next boss and got him down to 16% but then had to call it due to people having to leave. Still, a fairly good effort for a quick Sunday night run with a couple of PuGs in the group, and an excellent lesson on where to keep your focus.

Last night I achieved two little WoW milestones – I got into ICC and we got our 2 man Arena team above the 1000 rating. The ICC 10 man was being organised in-guild as I logged on and I gamefully stuck my hand up. As they were searching for more players I went and tried to find the entrance. Flying up and around and all over the place until someone pointed out to me that it was the big broken front door with the war machines around it and people fighting. Oh, you mean that entrance?

We have a new rogue in the guild who transferred his main that very day, and it was just the two of us sitting amongst what seemed to be an army of blacksmiths just inside the door. I sneaked a peek at his gear, and then I sneaked a peek at my gear. I have been dedicating myself so much to my PvP gear set over the last few months that I had kind of neglected my PvE set, and a close look at it was not pretty. I even had an empty socket for gods sake, and the only thing I had to put in it was a green gem. It really is a mish-mash of gear and I found myself explaining in a joking way to my very well geared companion that I’d been doing a lot of PvP … heh heh heh …

He said I should find a JC. I told him that I am a JC. He didn’t know what to say to that.

So we went in and started the raid. How exciting! I am proud to say we one-shotted the first boss. The raid leading was excellent – calm and clear with roles and strat very patiently explained and set out in chat. A nice countdown for the tank to run in so I could time my tricks of the trade perfectly and the first fight went off without a hitch. 2 plate drops. Meh. The second fight on Lady deathwhisper started off badly when we wiped in the first 20 seconds. But we picked ourselves up off the floor and got her down the very next try. Plate drops once again. A hunter in the group who had distinguished himself by pulling out a train set asked if hunters could roll on leather. I said sure, if us rogues can roll on mail. But you can’t use mail! he said.

Then we got to the gunship battle. We jumped on the ship and someone started the event immediately, I won’t say who, (the fucking hunter!), and that of course led to a wipe. So we came back and our raid leader put a big skull on the dude not to talk to and began carefully assigning roles and explaining what to do when somebody talked to the guy with the big fucking skull on his head and we wiped again. So we called it at that point. No drops but it was good to see inside the ice cream citadel.

Straight onto my arena team after that, (no breaks for us hard cores!), and we played around 20 matches, winning about 14 of them if I remember correctly. We are starting to gel very well together as a team, and rogue/druid is a great combo for annoying people particularly at the start. You stealth in and see the panic on their faces. Either they run around like crazy using all their abilities to show stealth in a big random mess while we watch from the sidelines and giggle or they huddle together behind a piller or a box and hope that we might not see them. The only team that we didn’t look like winning against was a DK/Druid combo who were both decked out in full heroic ICC 277 gear, and even on that fight we got the DK down.

The difference between running a raid and playing arena’s is your focus. In arena you have a lot of tunnel vision – you only need to worry about what’s in front of you and keep one eye on the other opponent. In raids you need to be much broader in your scope, taking in the whole fight and the whole 10 man team. Balancing between running both of these back to back is a good excerise in trying to become a well rounded player. Now all I need to do is go and find a JC …

Tonight our guild tried to take down Malygos for the first time. Now normally this sort of thing would not be worthy of a blog mention. But I think I may have stumbled onto something pretty neat for rogues. We got to the third phase a couple of times before the boss enraged and we wiped. Finally, one of our group had to leave and we thought that we’d just practice for a bit trying to stack two of the sparks on our group at the same time.

Malygos also has a vortex ability that throws you around the air and takes your health down to close to zero. I had been popping ‘Feint’ when he did this to see if I would take less damage. That didn’t seem to have any effect. But on our last try I popped something else just before the vortex began. I hit ‘Blade Flurry’.

And I didn’t go into the vortex.

Yep, you heard it right: Blade Flurry negates the vortex. I did it twice in the same fight and it worked for me both times.

Now priests and paladins used to have similar bugs on the vortex that Blizzard found out about and nerfed. So my fellow back-stabbers, lets just keep this between each other. Nudge nudge, wink wink and all that.

MAJOR EDIT:

I wrote this post last night while tired. I don’t function when tired, not in the least. So what I’m trying to say is that I made a major boo-boo here. It’s not Blade Flurry that negates the vortex. Killing Spree is the actual ability that has this effect. Sorry, my apologies, kill me now.

Hey groovers,

I’m back after losing my internet connection for four days. Didn’t even know I was gone, did you? I managed to miss out on my guild running Naxx normal and clearing 14 bosses, while dropping some gloves and bracers which I desperately need. Major pooh bears for Elizà, but great news for the guild. We are on the way to running 25 man Naxx. We have 16 fully geared and experienced level 80′s. Our plan is to bring four DPS classes into the raids from within the guild and level them up in two ten man groups. We hope that within a couple of runs they will both gear up and understand what running a raid is all about. Then we have 5 players from another guild who want to run with us. So we could be going into Naxx in a few weeks with a 25 man group.

Gearing up is quite clear, and probably shouldn’t need to be explained. In our guild we have a Tank, Healing, Melee DPS and Ranged DPS officer. They help each class understand what gear they are missing and where they can go about finding said gear. Understanding a raid, and more importantly, how to behave in a raid environment is another thing entirely. So what is expected of a raider? Here are some points which every raider should keep in mind.

1. Know the bosses.

Some raiders want to explore and discover new content naturally without any outside help. That is perfectly reasonable – if you’re in a guild which caters for that. Usually a roleplaying guild will be what you’re looking for there. Not so much in most other guilds though. Try turning up to our runs and telling us that you don’t want stuff to be explained to you because it will spoil it for you and you will experience what some have likened to, ‘The Epic Boot of Death”. Check out Tankspot for all your boss video needs.

2. Be Punctual & Prepared.

If the raid is at 9pm, be at the instance with all pots, shards, flasks, bandages, food items, etc at least ten minutes before raid begins. Anything else is acceptable once. Do you all know what the word ‘once’ means? It comes before twice. Which is not acceptable. The word ‘thrice’ doesn’t even exist.

3. Raid Chat Etiquette.

There are two types of raid chat, voice and typing. Typing ‘lol’ is one thing. Saying it is … hell, I don’t even know what that is. But don’t worry; if you say it then I’m sure that there’s a study being done by someone on people who say ‘lol’ out loud. The great thing about studies is that you can find out you’re a fruit-loop for free. Raid chat is an oxymoron, because the last thing you want to do on raid chat is chat. It’s not for that. The raid leader uses it to communicate in a hopefully not too abusive way. You use it to listen to him tell you to stay out of the purple circles next time for the love of all things holy.

4. Dividing Loot.

Your guild should have a loot system in place. Whether that’s simple rolling or a complicated DKP system, whatever tickles your fancy. But make sure they have something and make sure that you understand it. If they took the trouble to set it up, the least you can do is to take the trouble to find out how it works. Suddenly going ballistic in-game because you “missed out” on a drop due to you not knowing about the loot system just tells us that we don’t need to be worried about hurting your feelings because you won’t be around much longer for us to hurt them. This is our loot system.

5. Know your Role.

If your job is to heal, then heal what you’re told. If they don’t tell you what to heal, ask. If your job is to tank, then stand at the front and get bashed up a lot. If your job is to DPS, then try and pull your finger out of your butt and hit stuff. It’s not rocket science, guys. I mean, 16 year olds could do it …

6. Don’t be a Tard.

What else do I have to explain here? We’re serious about raiding but at the same time we’re trying to enjoy the game. So please don’t act like a tard. If you are a tard, please try and hide it for as long as possible if you’re a healing class. Otherwise, go away.

That’s it. All my rules for raiding. Got anymore rules? Feel free to add them below. And now … I’m off to Naxx!

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