For Saga: Barbarians on Utopian shores

It’s Saga‘s one-year blogaversary and she’s been suggesting post topics for her readers. Here’s the topic she gave me:

… since you’re into mysterious buttons and I know I’ve learned about some blog stuff from your site in the past. How about giving us a list of which blogging add-ons/tools you use/recommend and why? And if that topic is too boring, you can tell us what you do to keep positive when you feel frustrated after a bad day in WoW/a bad PUG. I know you live in PUG Utopia (lucky bum!), but surely you still run into them occasionally. You still seem very positive about the Pugging experience, so I’d love to hear more about it :)

I don’t know if this counts as sneaky or cheating, but I’m going to answer both points as separate posts. ‘Giving each subtopic the full consideration it deserves’ or just ‘shameless padding’? Not sure, you decide! I thought I’d start with the second part — coping with bad pugs, or just a bad day in game — as I’ll need to think a little more about what to cover in the other.

When the UDF fails me

For me the first thing which keeps me calm in the face of idiocy is the thought “what have I lost?”

If I’ve queued for a random then there weren’t sufficient guildies available to put together a guild group. So, without the help of the LFD tool, I would be completely unable to run a dungeon. Ok, ok, I could try to recruit people from tradechat, and I’ve seen people attempting to do just that. I normally relegate the global channels to their own (hidden) chat tab, so I’ve no idea how successful they are, but it *is* an option. But short of putting together a group the old-fashioned way, my options are “queue using the dungeon finder” or “don’t run a dungeon”.

There are a bunch of reasons to run dungeons: for valour points (from heroic dungeons), for justice points, for gear drops, for reputation, for levelling XP, for fun. It seems possible  that too many people are neglecting that last item: fun. I *like* running dungeons. I like running dungeons on my levelling characters, especially in the 60-80 range. I like running dungeons on my 85s — it’s one of my favourite things to do in game. That’s not to say I’ve no interest in the rewards that come from dungeon running: Ano and Cent are chasing valour1 points, and Tremble still needs drops and JP gear from heroic instances, but I enjoy 5-man dungeon running as an activity, not just as a loot delivery system.

Then there’s the question of “need”. If I don’t log in at all tonight, I won’t feel bad because Ano-the-paladin has missed out on 70 valour points. My guild isn’t the sort of guild where failing to acquire VPs from your daily heroic is considered bad form2. I guess my point here is that because I don’t feel like I *have* to complete a dungeon on every play session, if I do get a terrible terrible group, it’s disappointing but not horrifying.

That also makes it relatively easy to deal with people who are obnoxious, as my worst-case scenario — I drop group and take a deserter debuff — doesn’t worry me.

Finally, I try hard not to lose hope and get snippy. When we wipe to EncounterX’s PredictableMechanicY because the tank can’t be bothered to [sidestep/jump/turn and face away/sing the Botswana national anthem] to avoid it, I don’t scream about it. “Sorry, I just can’t heal through PredictableMechanicY :( All together now: Fatshe leno la rona, Ke mpho ya Modimo …” is often persuasion enough, and if the tank goes away thinking she carried me I won’t lose any sleep over it. When it becomes obvious that the not-a-word-since-the-helloes, minimally-geared DPSer doesn’t know the fights in this particular instance and is too shy/embarrassed/boneheaded to say so3 rather than railing at them for not speaking up when they had the chance,4 I just speed-type abbreviated encounter summaries, Gnomeaggedon-style. “I’ll cc the purple add. Sidestep out of the way of Blitz (it’s a charge attack). Kill the boss.” “Sidestep away from Binding Shadows. Stack up on the centre of shadow gale (big swirly thing). When the adds come, you and you take left as we look at the door, you and me take right.” Ok, maybe I’m a bit more wordy than Gnome. You’re shocked, I can tell.

A bad day in WoW

This one is thankfully much easier to deal with. If I’m having a bad day in WoW, I … go do something else for a bit. Obviously it’s not *quite* as straightforward as that — I don’t bail in the middle of a raid if I’m playing badly or annoyed with the healer — but generally speaking, if I’m not in the mood, I’m not in the mood. I can think of many more fun things to do than I can possibly find time for so it’s not difficult to go do something else instead.

Failing that, you can always head to the blasted lands and murder a bunch of slave-driving nagas. Go on: do it for the murloc babies.

Won't somebody please think of the children?

Background for the above image shamelessly stolen from this post over at Revive & Rejuvenate. Angelya takes wonderful screenshots.

Fatshe leno la rona,
Ke mpho ya Modimo
Fatshe leno la rona,
Ke mpho ya Modimo
  1. Am I the only one who keeps seeing “valour points” as “velour points”? I keep wanting to exchange them for a fluffy bathrobe []
  2. if anything, it could be argued we’re a little *too* relaxed at the moment, but that’s a topic for a different post! []
  3. That doesn’t always surprise me. These days, there aren’t that many people who check whether all of the players in their party know the fights in the current dungeon, but so often when the question is asked, it’s done so in a way which positively discourages speaking up. “I need to get this finished quickly: we all know this dungeon?” or “Does anyone (read: any nub) NOT know these fights?” does not exactly imply willingness to teach. []
  4. It’s the vicious cycle. Angry LFDers pounce on people who make mistakes or don’t know the fight, which makes people reluctant to ask for tacs reminders, which means more frequent screwups, which makes angry LFDers pounce on the person who screwed up []

The Utopian Dungeon Finder

Reading the community response to Blizzard’s forthcoming attempt to reduce the dungeon finder queue times for DPS players (the Call to Arms) is making my brain itch1. I started to write a rant in response but … well, I was interrupted. Then I calmed down a bit and realised that ranting about it wouldn’t be that helpful. Then I read another couple of blogs on the subject, remembered an unfinished draft post I wrote on holiday a couple of weeks back2 and so you get this post of two related halves crudely cemented together.

First the ranty bit. I don’t entirely agree with what seems to me to be the consensus view of the dungeon finder at the moment, which I will inflammarise as:

  1. Everyone in the dungeon finder queue is an incompetent dickhead who will start writing their first expletive-filled insult while queuing so as to have it ready to send the moment the group zones in. Except me… and maybe you.
  2. After the call to arms goes live, pretty much every tank in the queue will have terrible gear, the wrong spec and no idea how to tank. As well as being an incompetent dickhead. Except my tanking alt, who I probably won’t play because everyone in the dungeon finder is an incompetent dickhead etc etc.
  3. The greater internet fuckwad theory is a solid gold proven fact engraved on a stone tablet and handed directly to Moses by Stephen Hawking, along with those commandment thingies and a telephone number for the Dark Matter band.

Ok. Guess my brain’s still a bit itchy after all.

One of the comments on a Wow Insider article published today echoed how I’m feeling (the rest are largely a circular “the problem is it’s too hard” > “no, the problem is you suck” > “I’m quitting. I’M QUITTING” cycle). An excerpt:

I myself PuG pretty often – in fact, that’s how I’m leveling up my healer, and you know what? I rarely meet rude and elitist players (of those who I do, I could count on one hand).

I think Talitha must be in the same alternate universe as me, and that’s great. In fact, I’d like to share with all of you3 *my* dungeon finder, which seems largely free from the vile behaviour my reading suggests is near constant elsewhere. Welcome to the Utopian Dungeon Finder (UDF), where devotion aura is more than just an armour buff…

Now before I start, I don’t want to give you false hope. This UDF of mine isn’t perfect. I could, for example, tell you a story about a DK who, when not doing 2.5k dps, alternated between complaining about the tank and complaining about the heals. Now to be fair to him, after the first five minutes I did notice that he was receiving a little less healing than the other players. I couldn’t help but notice: I was the healer and I wasn’t up for healing him while he typed his complaints mid-fight, but still…

Thing is, in the Utopian Dungeon Finder, stories like this are hugely memorable. Because they’re unusual. And before you ask, that’s not because the UDF is exclusively populated by guildies, either. I’m trying to make my three4 85s ‘raid-capable’, which means running HCs on all three for VPs, rep and the odd justice point whenever I can. I don’t get home from work in time for all of those runs to be with guildies, so I’ve solo-queued for a good number of runs, the majority on Ano as a healer.

The average UDF run consists of trading aimless puns and waffle with people from a variety of servers, with occasional breaks to kill bosses and collect loot.  All it seems to take is a single silly remark which garners a reply, and the ice is broken. After that, it’s gravy. The rest are your standard quiet-but-efficient runs, with polite helloes, thanks and goodbyes, and little else unless CC or other individual instructions are required.

It’s glorious.

The greatest thing about this wondrous arrangement is that when mistakes do happen, the response is another one of those silly remarks or at worst a ‘hells, those guys are a pain. Perhaps we should CC one?’ in party chat. Not a ‘FFS’ in sight, unless someone is being particularly self-effacing5. In the UDF, even running into inexperienced or plain not-that-gifted players isn’t a brain-exploding disaster: when everyone is being friendly, a “hey, btw it’s *really* important you get out of the way of Blitz this time — just run to one side” is helpful advice, not offensively patronising, and “Evening folks, just to warn you this is my first heroic/first time healing/first time I’ve tanked this dungeon” isn’t a cue for everyone to drop group in a cloud of profanity.

Perhaps Talitha has it right:

Want a great PuG run? BE NICE AND FRIENDLY ALL THE TIMES, even if it means pulling out your tooth. It’s worth it. (Being nice and friendly means NO snarky, subtle, snide comments or being rude to one person while being nice to the rest. That’s simply not nice.)

As my grandma used to say, “It’s nice to be nice.”

The Utopian Number Generator

The UDF seemingly also has the power to influence Lady RNG.

One night I’d logged on just too late for a slot in a guild heroic so threw myself into the queue and was fairly quickly placed in a group for Grim Batol as healer6. My heart sank a bit when I saw two rogues in the group, as they do seem prone to taking lots of damage and/or pulling aggro and going squish. It’s nothing personal, dear rogues — in fact I’d like to do a few more runs with rogues, if only to stop the constant supply of rogue loot that shows up for my largely rogue-free guild. Anyway, my already heavy heart sank further during the first pull when I had to make heroic efforts to keep one of them alive.

“Just let Rogue1 die, it’ll teach him a lesson” said the bear tank in party chat.

“Oh dear,” I thought, “I do hope this group won’t be fractious, as that will be most distressing.”7

There was a little back-and-forth between the rogue and the rest of the group at this point, but something about the tone made me check the player details more carefully. Aha, all four from the same guild.

This little exchange set the pattern for the rest of the run; random banter and requests to let one person or another die went back and forth after every pull. Friendly insults were traded, the occasional thank-you-as-compliment. At the end of the run, we hung around for a short while chatting about the the last boss encounter and the bear’s tactic for managing the adds, which seemed very effective (even if the switch to cat form and back confused Vuhdo and panicked me a little the first time it happened).

So far, so blah. Nice people in fun UDF run? Hardly front page material for me.

The good bit was the following night, once again queuing on my own, once again chosen to heal. Let’s see… a bear tank, a familiar-looking rogue… the same guild group from the previous night! It was awesome.


  1. Thank the gods for my previously-mentioned greasemonkey script! []
  2. Tapped awkwardly into the WordPress for Blackberry app while sitting on public transport with Bryn dozing on my shoulder []
  3. provided you’re not one of those incompetent dickheads from point 1 of the earlier inflammary. Hey, why stop at verbs! []
  4. soon to be four: Grammy-the-warlock is questing in Hyjal []
  5. “FFS, why didn’t I use lay on hands there? Sorry guys, completely my fault”. []
  6. it’s always Grim Batol for me, unless I’m grouping with guildies and someone says “I hope we get a quick one”. In which case it will be Deadmines :S []
  7. Well ok, that wasn’t precisely what I thought. I’m not a character in P&P&W after all. []

Bee pit bingo

Zel over at Murloc Parliament proposed Bee Pit bingo, and I’m such a fan of the bee pit I did my entry straight away.

And then realised it’d probably need some detail. Hence this post.

I'm printing this and keeping copies by my PC. If I win, I'll pour myself a drink. See you in rehab!

From left to right, starting at the top

Dice: loot issues. Needing, ninjaing, “loot reservation”, whining, obsessing. Just stop it.

“Anal”: in /2 or whereever. Also include “Dirge” and any other variations

The Mystery Button: player seems mysteriously ignorant of a crucial ability or skill. Also mark this spot if someone activates/cancels an event before everyone is ready – the lure of the mysterious button is strong

MB! MB! etc: Every time the rest of the group charges off leaving you with an empty bar. Particularly vexing if you’re healing.

Skully: DPSing the wrong target. AOEing instead of single targeting. Non-tanks pulling without being asked to help.

1g plz: Beggars. Mostly in Stormwind. GO AWAY.

“Gay”: Paladins are “gay”. Running after a wipe is “gay”. Heroics are “gay”. Roleplaying is “gay”. Cheese sandwiches are “gay”. Finding people of the same gender attractive is “gay” (waaaait). Optionally extend via “rape” != “beat”.

LMGTFY aka Let Me Google That For You: There *are* such things as stupid questions.

“Nub”: or scrub, noob, bad etc. Didn’t you ever make a mistake before?

/y: Stop yelling. I don’t care. It’s not funny.

(class): I have a name. I know I am a paladin, and I might be your healer but I don’t particularly want you to call me “paladin” or “healer”. If you’re going to call me “pally” because it’s something I am, I’m going to call you “jerk” for the same reason.

PVPenis: I’ve been poking a tentative toe into PVP. So that’s where all the dickheads live. Save it for the other side, lumpy.

“Rez Plz”: If we’re still fighting, shut up. I can’t. If we’ve just stopped fighting, shut up. I’m out of mana and will rez you in a sec. If we’ve wiped: shut up and run.

Not trained: Tank not trained his taunt? Any capable class not trained their rez? Generous interpretation would include “not on my bars”

“Gear”: as in “Your gear sucks” when in anything which constitutes a levelling dungeon. Including heroics.

“Pat?”: There’s a patrol? *wipe*. Spatial awareness disasters e.g. buffing too close to the mobs after a wipe. Bonus points for repeat offenders.

“FFS”: In any sentence in almost any group of randoms, this is the start of the kick/fake DC cycle. FFS, assholes, don’t say FFS. Particularly when someone makes a teeny mistake and/or apologises. FFS.

NMJ (Not my job): Covers everything from utility functions like mages decursing and paladins cleansing, through to my personal favourite, “you’re ranged dps, it’s your job to handle the blood beasts. You have all the tools to do all the cc yourself, so no-one else should help you AT ALL.”. Uh-huh.

“Go!”: “Quick run please”. Stop talking, start playing. OGOGOGOGOGOgogogogogogogogogogogogog *kick*

Wowcock: “My GS>yours”. Yeah, but my brain>yours. And my social skills>yours. And my sense of proportion>yours. Oh yeah, as it turns out, my DPS/TPS/HPS>yours too, numbnuts. See also “plz link achiv”.

RTB (Rose-tinted binoculars): back when it was “good”, before it was “nerfed” for the “casuals” and there were “welfare epics” and all these “nubs” started playing. If you were such an ace player back before the game was “consolized” how come you suck so much now?

“lol”: Sorry, lol. Didn’t mean to pull, lol. I forgot my reagents, lol. Lolololololololol STOP THAT NOW.

AFK: … … … Ah screw it, we can manage without you.

Ooooohkay, what?: Why are you telling me about your cat? I’m sad that you’re depressed but I’d suggest the Samaritans, not LFG. Good to know your girlfriend is that kinky – I’ll be sure to look her up. No sandwich is so good it deserved four paragraphs in party chat. Space Cadet Pugee, you are ready for liftoff.

Virtuous pugging

Everyone (including me) has a million and one tales of horrible pug experiences, whether they’re via the dungeon finder (aptly nicknamed Sanity Tap a lifetime or two ago) or the via the joys of pug raiding and everyone’s favourite “Link GS and achivs” tradechat ads. Bad players, mad players, afk-ers, stoners, the clinically depressed and the clinically insane. Groups that fall apart after the first wipe. Groups that fall apart before the first pull. Groups which feel like a persistent low-grade infection — you can get through the day (raid) but the shine falls off everything.

How much of that is down to the way the raid is organised?

The most significant problem my guild faced when chasing that elusive first LK kill was the difficulty in getting ten of us online at the same time. We’re a little understaffed anyway, and once you factor in RL aggro it becomes very difficult to put a team together. In an effort to find opportunities to raid with a full group we took to throwing up signup threads in our forum which said “when are you available this week?”, and then trying to put together a raid on the night with the most people.

A couple of Fridays ago, we were all set to spend the night wiping on killing Arthas but last-minute problems meant we were missing people in key roles. I didn’t see the “sorry, raid cancelled” update in our forums and so logged on to find four or five others in the same boat. It seemed a shame to just do nothing…why not grab some alts, grab some random folks from trade and run ICC anyway? And, as it’s Friday night, commence drinking!

As a guild, we’re generally pretty allergic to PuGs. We have people with a single 80. We have people with multiple 80s who don’t want to run with randoms. We have a shared lack of tolerance for the more horrible people you can encounter in LFG etc., and amused disdain for the “LFM ICC10, need 5.8GS/Link Bane of the fallen King. Aiming for first 4+ bosses.” spam you see in amongst the goldsellers and stupidity in trade.

ASIDE: I keep pimping this to my guildies but since installing the dubiously-named BadBoy Antispam I don’t think I’ve seen a single goldseller in my chatbox. YMMV, naturally.

Anyway, we jumped on alts and I *gasp* crafted my first “LFM” for trade. It was something along the lines of “LFM ICC10. It’s a mostly-guild alt fun run, and we’re drinking! Need [roles]. Don’t bother telling me your gearscore, we don’t care. C’mon, it’ll be great!”

At the suggestion of one of our guildies, I asked each person who replied “Do you have much (or any) experience of ICC?”, and got a variety of answers ranging from achievement spam to simple “yeah, done X/12 on my [class]”. Anyone who sounded plausible got an invite, and was quickly submerged in the silliness that was our already-merry raidchat. One respondent asked how far we were planning to go. “Not sure”, I said, and explained that while we all knew what we were doing, we were a) on alts, and b) getting plastered and having fun, so if he needed to get to Arthas tonight we might not be the right group for us. He joined anyway, and soon we were off.

We had an a lot of fun. The banter in our vent channel between guildies made me wish I knew how/whether you can set multiple passwords for different access levels in vent, to make it easy to invite randoms without changing the main password. There was a fair amount of silly chatter in /ra too.

Our tanking guildy did very brief tactic reminders before each encounter, with a “shout if anything’s not clear or this is new for you”- addendum and we cleared the first six bosses before a number of people realised the time and had to go. We had a few deaths here and there, but I don’t remember any wipes and best of all, everyone was tolerant, funny, friendly and easygoing.

I’m not an experienced pugger but I have been on a few pug raids now – mostly on Centrella. One of the common features seems to be a general intolerance of other people’s mistakes, or of anything which impedes progress (the classic “FFS this should be easy” response). Generally speaking, I’ve also found a correlation between the “choosiness”  of the raid organiser (i.e. how many “achivs” and GS required) and the amount of arseholery in the resulting group – the “better” the group, the more likely it is to be full of whiners and the terminally angry.

Contrast this with our little group: stated fun aim, no “must have X” requirements, result: a group of friendly, fun, competent players. Is there a relationship here, or is it just the weight of numbers effect of 5 guildmembers in one raid forcing people to conform?

It’s hard to know for sure. It does rather make me wish I a) had a little more confidence, and b) could be bothered to spend time learning the fights from perspectives other than my own. It would be an interesting experiment to try running some partly- or even fully-pugged groups where the entry requirements are based around being friendly and fun, and taking people at their word when asking “do you know how to do this?”. Obviously you’d also have to be reasonably firm when intervening in bad behaviour, but that should be relatively straightforward if handled directly and openly.

Does anyone else put together runs like this? Runs with little in the way of entrance requirements, focused more on the fun of being with people and maybe killing a few bosses rather than desperately pushing through for badges and loot? I guess if you’re a really experienced raider accustomed to only failing on hardmodes, the idea might not grab you, but a bit of no-pressure-let’s-have-fun-the-gold-is-virtual-y’know raiding on an alt might appeal even if your main is pushing for 12/12 heroic.

Shameless theft: Bee pit

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has mentally adopted Zel’s Bee Pit as the final destination for all manner of wastrels, ne’er-do-wells and those annoying idiots who say “ogogogogog” a lot. [ASIDE: I encountered my very first Arthazz in an instance. I was so depressed I still healed him, and forgot to take a screenshot. *sigh*]

Aaanyway. There is a problem brewing, I suspect. I wonder what Zel’s solution will be?