Chasing Bear Aggro

Bearwall!

Just saying. 4000 words. ‘Cause, you know, I was thinking of quitting the blog.

At this point in the game, the most common request I get is to help with advice on holding aggro.

Aggro in raids, aggro in instances. Just, “Help, they keep pulling off me!”

They pull aggro from me too. I know what you mean.

First, right up front; Gear levels and capabilities can vary wildly. Never, EVER feel that you have failed as a tank if you are a 4500 Gearscore tank in a heroic 5 person instance doing your best, and the 6K plus GS DPS player who unloads all out in the first millisecond pulls away from you. Like, c’mon, man.

Your job is to do the best you can with the tools available to you. If another player has much more powerful gear, and a correspondingly higher potential DPS/threat output, it is NOT your automatic responsibility to magically raise your threat output to match and overtake them.

No matter what someone tells you, no matter what justification they try to use, threat reducing abilities like Feign Death are there for a reason, and so are the built in threat level warnings. It is the responsibility of DPS to match their DPS output to the capabilities of the tank that is on the run. If they cannot do so, it is their failure to play their class and chosen role well. Period.

I’m not going to mention gear level disparity in this post again. It’s the single biggest contributing factor in threat loss issues, but it’s also obvious. If that other player is in all ICC 25 heroic gear, and you’re in blues running a 5 man trying to gear up, YOU are the one in the right place at the right time, at the right level of progression. If he’s there with you, he goes all out on every pull, and he bitches about pulling threat off of you, he is a MORON.

You can quote me on that.

So, moving past gear disparity. I’m going to tell you one thing, straight up; if someone wants to pull aggro from you, especially on a multiple mob fight, there will be nothing you can do to prevent it.

You have tools to pull the threat back to you, and you have tools to really build up threat on whatever one specific mob you want. It doesn’t matter. If someone wants to pull aggro from you, they can.

What you need to remember is there are three additional core problems besides gear. 

  1. DPS classes do not all generate their damage at the same rate over time. 
  2. Some DPS classes possess tank abilities.
  3. DPS players possess varying skill levels, and some do not change their style from solo to group play.

Point numero uno. Some DPS classes/specs have outstanding burst DPS capabilities.

Ret Paladins stand out in my mind, obviously, since I have one, but there are many other combinations as well.

Burst DPS means just that; in the first two seconds, they front load a TON of damage in the mobs’ face. After that initial burst of hellacious damage, however, most abilities are on staggered cooldowns, and the player has to wait while spells trickle back online in a measured fashion.

When are you most likely to have problems with holding aggro? You know the answer, you deal with it all the time. In the first couple of seconds of every pull, when you have yet to establish much more than a single Swipe on a group, it’s easy for someone playing a character strong in burst DPS generation to light it up and pull off of you.

It’s just that simple. Even if you are all equivalently geared, a single strong burst DPS player can unload and grab aggro from you in the first few seconds.

It’s easy to say what the DPS player SHOULD do to prevent this.

The DPS player should wait a few moments for the tank to establish threat, a tradition going all the way back to “Let the Warrior get 5 Sunders on the target before you begin your attack.”

Additionally, the DPS player should know to identify the tank’s MAIN target, and focus on that one rather than on the group in general. Either through the tank setting a Skull mark to easily identify the first kill target, or by waiting until the tank chooses a target and pulls, and then, using target of target, select that tanks’ target and going for it. Or, an even third way, use Focus to automatically change your target to that of the tank. Whatever you like.

Finally, the DPS player should aggressively watch their own threat generation, compare it to that of the tank, and compensate. Either tone it down themselves, or use their threat reducing or threat redirecting abilities to stay under.

Fine. That’s all great. You’ve heard it all before.

What you want to know is, what can YOU do about it, because the DPS players obviously aren’t DOING that all the time.

I promise you I will answer that question at the end of the post.

Problem 2. Some DPS players have tanking abilities.

Death Knights can pull from a distance with Death Grip, and doing it grabs aggro automatically. Warriors and Bears and Paladins all have taunts as well. Even better, most players that solo have their ranged taunts next to thier normal attack rotations on their bar, to make it easier and faster to use. Well, that makes it easier to slip and taunt during group runs, too.

Oops.

Other classes have pets that can generate additional threat with their attacks, much like Hunters who forget, and leave their pet’s Growl on during groups. Growl is no longer a taunt, it just causes a lot more threat, but if the pet is on a mob that ain’t your primary focus, it can pull anyway.

Tanking classes have tools that increase threat, or are designed to hit multiple mobs while dealing threat.

It does matter, and if someone uses a taunt, that player has aggro. You can pull it back, if you notice they did it. End of story.

Finally, point 3. Players have different levels of skill.

This comes down to different experience levels with group play in the game, and a lack of a consistent message when it comes to group content versus solo content. 

There are many players that display a basically flawed understanding of the grouping aspect of the game.

From their actions, and how they defend them, they show that they feel it is the job of DPS to go all out, full time, every time, without a single global cooldown wasted on any non-damage generating ability, in order to do their jobs well.

That, to be blunt, the role of a DPS class is to provide maximised DPS, and the role of a tank is to hold aggro no matter what anyone else does.

It is easily possible for a player to think that good play consists of doing as much DPS as is possible, as shown on damage meters. You see people judged on damage meters all the time, and that reinforces the concept.

If there was a way to judge someone’s performance by the number of mobs chain CC’d sequentially before diminishing returns lockout, and that was a key part of a high status fight, I bet you’d see a lot more CC being used and boasted about the very next day.

Ahh, I miss chain trapping.

The only yardstick I use for a successful job is, “Did we win as a team? Screw your DPS, did we win as a team?”

Sadly, not everyone thinks that way.

Most times, it’s a competition within the team of strangers to see who was Most Valuable Player, as ranked by DPS meters.  And then to either gloat about it, or bitch about it, both of which are just varied displays of epeen stroking.

This all comes back to a problem of understanding of the basic concepts of the game, and of what is important to success.

A DPS player that does not perform any other task but generate DPS, and who also starts their DPS rotation as soon as possible to “get a jump on other players”, is, as far as teamwork and group play is concerned, a horribly bad player.

Now just try to convince them of that.

It’s incredibly difficult to convince someone that the most commonly used means of measuring DPS performance is not an accurate measurement of player skill.

All right, let’s move on.

Let’s cut to the case. There are a lot of variables involved in discussing “Why can’t I hold aggro”. They all boil down to knowledge and understanding, training and communication, on the part of the tank and of the DPS players. 

If a DPS player is skilled, knowledgeable, and willing to work as part of the team, they will almost NEVER pull aggro, except by making a simple mistake.

If the mobs would die, and the team succeed even without that extra 3 seconds of DPS the player put out at the first instant of each pull, then there is no legitimate reason to go all out in those first three seconds. None. Because it’s not helping the team succeed. It’s only stroking your ego.

But some folks think that’s what shows they are the best players, and with DPS meters out there, the middle of a run is the wrong place to try and change everyone’s preconceived ideas.

Now, I promised to discuss what actually matters; how to fight back.

The first and most critical aspect of learning to hold and regain aggro is knowledge. The knowledge of who has aggro, who is gaining it and who is losing it.

Don’t worry about what buttons to push just yet. I’ve talked about that elsewhere.

What you want to know is how to tell, among the sea of mobs you are fighting, what level of threat you have at any given time.

A mob can be in four states; you have threat, you are gaining threat, you are losing threat, you don’t have threat. 

If you have had problems managing your threat levels, and you do not already do this, here is what I’d like you to try.

Go to Curse.com, and download two nameplate addons. The first one is the core addon, Tidy Plates. The second addon is a threat-based theme for Tidy Plates called Threat Plates.

Once installed, setup is a snap. You have to open Tidy Plates and set Threat Plates as the theme to be used.

Then, you have to associate each of your specs with one of two Threat Plates modes; Tank, or DPS/Heal. 

From then on, whenever you swap specs, Tidy Plates will automatically reconfigure as appropriate.

If you are in tank spec, then you will get a nameplate displayed over the heads of each mob. You CAN customize the size of the nameplates, and whether or not they overlap, or push each other around so you can see them all clearly.

Here is how this helps you gain knowledge over your threat levels.

If you are the tank and you HAVE THREAT, each mob you have threat on has a teeny, tiny green bordered nameplate.

As you lose threat on a single mob, that mob’s nameplate both grows in size gradually, gaining more of your attention, and it’s border also begins to turn yellow. This warns you that you are losing threat on that mob or mobs.

At this point, you can clearly see who you should click on, the nameplates ARE selectable, and then use a focused attack like Mangle or Lacerate or Feral Faerie Fire to build up additional threat faster on that one mob.

If you have actually LOST threat on a mob, then their nameplate grows very large, and the border not only turns red, but little flashing red arrows appear around the nameplate.  

This is a great sign that it’s time to click the nameplate and Growl, or if a lot turn red, use Challenging Roar and maybe pop Berserk and then Mangle/Swipe/Maul like crazy.

I now that having nameplates on can be disconcerting. It adds more clutter to your view.

In one, and only one, instance I find it to be annoying. That is the snake room in the first boss of Gundrak, where every single snake has it’s own nameplate. It’s okay, I can pick out the ones I want and never have an issue, I just wanted to mention it because the first time you see a room full of nameplates, it’s disconcerting.

Once mobs are dead, their nameplate dissappears.

What I have personally found is that it makes tanking much easier. It aids in relaxation, cuts down the stress.

Previously, in order to know how you stood with threat on multiple mobs, you had to use a combination of Omen and targeting, and clicking on mobs in a crowd could be such an irritation that tab-targeting, cycling through the mobs around you to find the ones you want became a time saver. It was just too bad if the mob you were losing aggro on was the last one you got to as you tabbed around.

With this system of Threat Plates, not only can you see how you stand with every mob around you and know exactly where you’re at in terms of aggro, and identify who needs extra attention, but you can also monitor multiple mobs at range.

I frequently drive my groups crazy if they don’t know me, by targeting some mobs as Skull, and then running around charging like my ass is on fire and my paws are catching.

An example of my playstyle with Threat Plates.

Here is what I do in Forge of Souls, for example, where there is no line of sight to make ranged pulls, and where there are mixes of multiple casters spread out with melee at the edges.

I will mark a distant caster, like an Adept, as my Skull. That is who I want everyone to stay focused on to kill.

I say distant, because as I run into the group, I begin Swiping early, and nail all other mobs on my way in to get him. This lets me tag the other casters as I go, to overcome any Healer threat that will develop.

After I get to the distant Adept, I lay down a solid base of direct damage on him, keeping up my Swipe on the melee mobs that followed me.

I turn around so I can see the nameplates of the far off casters that did not follow. I watch them and monitor their green status.

You can make your own jokes about The Fifth Element here. “Are we green? Yeah, we’re green. What color green? Piss off.”

I am dealing direct damage on the Skull, which is who everyone else should be on right now. I am Swiping the melee mobs, and hitting some with Maul. I am watching my active threat level on everyone, including the ranged casters.

It can go several ways from here. Normally, a couple Swipes on the way in were enough to overtake Healer threat on the ranged mobs I left behind, and they are far enough away nobody else is dealing damage to them.

If I AM losing threat on ranged, I can quickly target them, toss them a Feral Faerie Fire, and regain threat without ever moving away from my main target.

Regardless, once Omen threat meter shows me I have built up a suitable lead on threat with Skull, and I judge the mob will be dead before DPS would catch up, I target the ranged caster, and I Feral Charge him immediately, BEFORE the Skull dies.

Pro Tip: You do NOT have to ride a mob to death before changing targets. Your job is to hold the attention of all mobs on you. Your second job is to survive. Your third is to hold the target steady to make life easier for melee DPS to position.

If the mob is a caster, it ain’t going anywhere, so you won’t bother melee DPS if you go charging away. So scoot!

While everyone else is finishing off Skull, you’re across the ramp building initial threat on the second caster. By the time Skull dies, and you’ve got a good lead on threat, you can mark hi as your new Skull, and then go charging off at caster mob 3.

If there were three casters, well, I’m sure you were watching him too, and throwing him some of your Feral Faerie Fires, right?

I have sometimes charged three or four times across a room at various caster mobs, trailing melee mobs along behind. It’s fun!

Drives unprepared players nuts, though.

The whole time I can see, everywhere, the threat levels I have on every target in the room.

If I see a sea of green, then I’m all good.

I can maintain Swipes and Maul and Mangle, I can pick and choose who gets my attention.

What to do when they pull all the time.

Now, in the situations we’ve been discussing, where you have threat stolen away from you in the first few seconds of a pull, with Threat Plates active you can see, plain as day, not only what mob or mobs you’re losing, but who it is that they’re turning to face.

You can identify not only who you lost aggro on to immediately toss a Growl at and taunt back, but you can identify who is doing it.

This is where you can try and ask that one player to tone it down, to wait a few seconds, or to use some threat reduction.

If that player responds with any attack at YOU, accuses you of being a bad tank because they were capable of pulling aggro off you in the first place, remember what we’ve talked about here. 

If you mark a Skull, if you pull, and other DPS players are already attacking before you even get one Swipe up on the mobs, or if the other player ignores your Skull to attack another target in the group you are NOT hitting with direct damage, and when asked they refuse to change, it does not make you a bad tank.

I have personally seen attacks go past me and hit the mobs before I had even hit Feral Charge to get within range. It’s common.

Now, if someone does that and you can see which mob they tagged, you have the power to use Growl to get that mob right back, and can unload your focused attacks to build single target threat on that mob.

If they used AoE, you can use Challenging Roar and Swipe and Maul and even Berserk and Mangle spam.

But if they have good burst DPS, and will not work with you, and insist on doing their own thing, there is little long term you can do except arm yourself with knowledge of who has what threat level, Growl when it’s off cooldown where appropriate, and switch main attack targets to focus on who they insist on killing.

Or, and this is what I do after a while…

See if they can tank it. Let it go.

Example of losing threat.

I did a Heroic Trial of the Champions yesterday. One of the players was a Warrior in full, and I’m not shitting you here, full ICC 25 gear. 

And this Warrior, with a much greater than 6K Gear score, was charging mobs the same instant I was, stayed on the mobs going all out from the instant he got there, and just blew it all up. Full out. And he almost never attacked the targets I marked.

Now, this made my job a lot harder, when my self-appointed duty was to stay green on everyone, all the time. There was literally no way I could prevent him from taking aggro on someone. Multiple mobs would turn yellow, then red. I would Growl back on one and nail it, while losing another.

I had two choices. I could get all pissed off because it felt frustrating to lose control over the threat, which is my main reponsibility.

Or, I could try to look at it from his point of view, if he thought he was helping and had never tanked before.

What I decided to do was act as though he thought that he was helping. I put myself, mentally, in the position of someone wearing Plate as a melee DPS, in insane gear, doing hellacious damage, playing in easy content, and I dropped my awareness for a moment of how it feels to be responsible for holding aggro as the tank.

What I saw was that it might feel as though, since the tank has aggro on all those other guys, I could best help by doing tons of damage, and no harm done if I pull threat away, because I can take it with my high armor and stamina. If I get pounded, big deal, I’m tough. Maybe not as tough as a tank, but I can take a beating just fine until the tank picks it off… or the mobs are dead. No worries.

Now, we as tanks know that this is fine, except that THE TANK HAS NO IDEA THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

All the tank knows is, I got aggro on him, I got aggro on her, holy shit I lost aggro on that one, get it back, get it back, get it back!

Welcome to Frustration County, population: me!

The tipping point for me was that the player had gear that suggested they just HAD to know how to work in a group, or they wouldn’t have gear from that deep in ICC 25.

So I didn’t get pissy, I just complimented them on their insane DPS output.

What was their reply?

“Thank you! I know I’m a bit of an aggro whore tho.”

This was not the response I’d expect from an asshat. It’s what I would expect from someone who simply overgears the content, figures if they steal aggro they can deal with it, and didn’t realise it could cause a tank additional stress.

I joked back that I didn’t mind, I simply rolled with the idea that, if you pull it, you tank it.

Not only did we get a laugh out of it, but he actually eased back a little on the pulling threat when we went on to the final boss. And I stopped worrying about him. He was a big boy; if he died, well, that’s the way the game works, right?

Let’s wrap this fish up.

What I’d like to leave you with here, if you take anything away from this post at all, is simply an awareness that if you sometimes have trouble holding aggro as a Feral Bear tank, it’s not just you.

It is NOT a sign that you suck, or even that the other player is an asshat.

The player may think they’re doing their job, and just aren’t aware what a Skull even means. Or might not know what havok it’s causing YOU that they are unloading higher burst DPS than your initial threat can overcome.

I also hope that, if you are a new tank and haven’t tried Tidy Plates/Threat Plates before, you’ll give it a try. For new tanks, and even for grumpy old Bears like me, it can really help you gain control over the battlefield.

And don’t forget that it has the Heal/DPS mode too, it’s not just for tanks. So that if everything is green and small, it means you do NOT have aggro, and if you start seeing yellow, it means you’re pulling off the tank, time to back off or Feign.

Nothing helps get the value of the system across quite like firing your gun into the crowd, then seeing the nameplate turn huge and flashing red just before the mob ignores the tank to come running after you. Whoops! Time to Feign Death, like NOW!

And few things are quite as reassuring as seeing that charging red nameplate… and seeing it turn instantly to green, as the tank shows he is aware of your pulling aggro, and taunted it back away.

Have fun, smell ya later!

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This blog needs an enema!

Anyone who never saw the movie “Batman” with Jack Nicholson just went “Ewwwww.”

I wrote the last post just before bed, moments after announcing in the guild forums of Sidhe Devils, the guild that Cassie and I led for the last several years, that Cassie and I are closing the doors on Sidhe Devils permanently.

Sidhe Devils is done. Rather than turn over leadership to someone else, we’re going to close the doors and ask folks to move on to more active, vibrant, forward looking guilds. We’re going to liquidate the bank, mail out the gold to the players that are left, and bid everyone a very fond farewell.

I’ve always tried to be open and honest here on the blog about the issues of the day and what’s been on my mind. But when things are really down, and involves the feelings of friends, I tend to avoid the subject. It’s fine to talk about how I feel, it’s not okay in my book to hurt the feelings of other people.

So, I don’t talk about some things.

Here on the blog, the elephant in the room that I’ve been stepping around was where Sidhe Devils was at as a guild.

A lot of stuff happened months back. While it may seem to have come out of nowhere, from our point of view it had been building up for a long, long time.

I’m still not going to point fingers, or place blame, or try and defend anything that happened by anyone. Other people can put spin control on whatever they want; what happened, happened. Where it went from there was the personal decision made by each individual person, and everyone had their own reasons for wanting to make a change.

There, did that vague things up enough for you?

For us, everything started when Cassie and I left a guild that was very big, very successful, had some really good people in it that we loved, a guild that had just made the move to go from casual on the way to becoming a progressive raiding guild. 

We did that because we wanted more time for ourselves; more time to be able to step away from the game on our own terms, more time to spend with our son and enjoy the summer, more time to be flexible and make the game revolve around our lives, instead of having our lives revolve around the schedule of the game.

We stepped away from Legatum Ignavis, with no hard feelings on my part, and whenever we’ve talked about them here on the blog since, it’s been with respect because they were a great group of folks. But they weren’t right for us.

When we left, we simply moved our characters into the handiest place that we had available; our alt guild. Sidhe Devils.

Never more than a place for the alts of 5 or 6 people to hang out on those most rare of occasions when people weren’t on their mains, we just moved on in and set up shop and decided, “Why go somewhere else?”

The whole point was to make the game move around our real life. If we wanted to do something, we’d just pug it, or only do things that we could do with our friends. And if we weren’t on, even for weeks at a time, nobody else would ever miss us.

Well, you know where things went from there. Over time, I talked about hanging out in the guild on the blog, looked at inviting a few folks here and there that said it sounded like just the place for them, and in time we set our goals down on a charter and invited any other souls of like mind and intent to come join us and chill out.

Chill out in a place that, and you’re SURE you understand this, we’re not going to raid. That’s not the point of the guild. You SURE you’re good with that? You’re not going to get bored? Okay.

Where we went wrong was in becoming guild leaders.

We never intended to raid. We never wanted to organize anything more strenuous than a 5 person Heroic with anyone that happened to be on.

We wanted, right from the beginning, to always put real life first, and that included being able to do our own thing on our own schedule and work playtime in WoW in around the rest of our life. To be gone for three weeks with no worries, because it’s no big deal. Just like every other player takes for granted.

What is significant about this is that in order to be a guild leader, at least one that takes the responsibility seriously, it does become a full time job.

The most critical part of being guild leaders we hadn’t anticipated was how a guild leader is expected to be online in the game as much as possible.

Notice I don’t say it’s demanded. But it IS expected.

And if a guild leader or officer doesn’t show up for a day or two, the person WILL hear about it from someone. Who will really hear about it, if there are multiple officers, is the guild leader.

“Oh, I was looking for an officer to invite my alt, and nobody was on for two days.”

Oh, was that two WHOLE days that I wasn’t on all night? Oh my!

It’s very easy to lose yourself in running a guild.

As the guild grows, as numbers increase, the amount of time spent trying to do the things you think should be done to keep things running smoothly grows with it.

Spending time actually in game to be available for whispers, questions, etc is the largest part of it, but replying to requests to organize events and activities also gets up there.

It doesn’t all happen at once, but running a guild, which may seem like no big deal at first, does get to be an incredibly time consuming process.

After a while, and Cassie being the clearer-minded of the two of us noticed it first, we realised that we’d gotten ourselves into a big commitment to the game. The guild was running, and was full of people we considered friends, and we had assumed the responsibility of keeping on as we were. But in doing it, we had lost a lot of ground in making real life our priority.

We weren’t just on as much as we had been in Legatum… we were on far more often and had much more of our lives wrapped around WoW instead of the reverse.

The answer, to us, seemed pretty obvious. We had to break up the non-critical tasks of being guild leaders, the parts that did not have anything to do with inviting, removing or censoring other players in the guild, and find people who were within the guild that were willing to take some of them on. Every task that was taken off our shoulders and spread around would help.

It wouldn’t address the fact that we felt an obligation to be online and available, but it would help us have fewer line items to worry about. 

Sounds like a plan, right?

Time after time, we asked for help.

The responses we got were what you might expect. Some people volunteered fast for the items that would take the least time and effort, others volunteered to organise and run raiding because that’s what they loved, still others volunteered to do lots of stuff to help, and finally we had people volunteer to take over things we didn’t ask help with in the first place, demanding to be made officers because they knew so much more than we did on how to do it right.

Yeah, I know.

Well, we did what we could. We ignored the people that wanted to help by taking over what we didn’t ask help with in the first place, and we gratefully thanked everyone else and got things underway.

Frequently, some of the people that said they’d help we never heard from again. Others, especially the ones that took over raiding, really ran with that ball. A lot.

So, some things just didn’t get done at all when people said they’d take care of it, leaving us with extra work trying to figure out what was going on and get it back going again, long after things should have been handled. And on the raiding side, suddenly raiding became a big go go go deal, and since it was the only activity that WAS getting serious attention, it became the focus of the guild.

And of course there was our annoyance with people in the guild that kept pushing about wanting to take over, or gave unasked for and unwanted advice on how we were doing things wrong, people who wouldn’t step in to help on things we actually ASKED for help with.

The net result of our effort was that we had more work to do than ever before, and people that were running raiding didn’t see why the ever increasing frequency of scheduled raids or the hours committed to it was a problem. But these are friends, and it’s best to just let it go, rather than say something, right?

It all came to a head with us during the Raid for the Cure.

When I suggested it on the guild forums, there was a definite dividing line over the event. There was a small group of people that ran with the idea and took it to heart, and worked to make it happen. These were the people that normally took part in lots of various social guild events.

And then there were the people that couldn’t even be bothered to respond to the thread, let alone take any part in the event, or even show up for it. Sorry guys, have to miss it. Just like every other social event. Oooh, but schedule a raid, and they were all over that.

That right there spelled the end of our pretending that the guild was what we thought it was. We clearly had people that wanted to raid and couldn’t care less about the rest of it. And they were welcome to be that way… but somewhere else, because that’s not what the guild we wanted to run was all about.

From there, it all pretty much fell apart by the numbers. Cassie and I wanted nothing to do with running a raiding guild with people like that in it, but when we tried to leave, said we were leaving, and made it public, we were reminded that there were a lot of people that said that it was the social part of the guild they liked and wanted us specifically to stay.

We had two guilds in one, two different approaches to playing the game, and something had to break.

Well, we broke it.

We changed everything, announcing we were staying in the guild after all, went back on our plans, yanking the band aid right off the wound, and among a host of other things aimed at returning to the roots of the guild that everyone was told when they joined, announced the immediate shutting down of raiding until we got things sorted out.

Yep. That did it. We’d succeeded in one thing; we had a lot less people in the guild to worry about.

People took off in droves. In floods. They started a new guild, got it set up the way they liked, and founded a new home for the members of Sidhe Devils to go to when they were fed up with our messing around.

We know that the vast majority of the problems are our fault. It is what it is because of how we handled it, and the way we handled things was at all times being driven by our desire to find a way back to having fun, and being free to devote much less of our lives to the game.

Our underlying goal had become centered on one thing; to be able to have the exact same rights in playing that every other player enjoyed and expected. To be able to take a few weeks or months off if we felt like it or had better things to do for a while.

Every other player takes for granted that they can leave if they want, to go on break, to relax for a while. When you’re responsible only for yourself, it’s fine. When everyone else counts on you, and has expectations OF you, it’s a far different matter.

Cassie and I have talked about it a lot. And what we decided was that we needed to learn a serious lesson from this. We needed to take this experience to heart.

We never wanted to be guild leaders in the first place. We never wanted to be in charge of anything other than ourselves. We never wanted to forge a raiding guild, or a social guild, or any other kind of place.

But once we set ourselves up as the people who invited others in, we assumed the responsibility and the duty of making the place in reality what we said it was, the best we could.

In the end, our struggles, our mistakes brought everything crashing down.

Lesson learned.

Cassie and I have returned to our center. The game moves around our real life, our family, and especially with the start of summer, we’re not going to be on nearly as much. It isn’t our focus. It never should have been, and once we figured out that’s what it was, we fought against it every step of the way.

With that in mind, last night we made the final decision. It’s not fair to people to be part of a guild where they think that it may someday grow, it may turn around, it may get lively and vibrant and full of life once again, when the leaders have no intention of putting in the time and effort necessary to make that happen.

It takes more than two people, however well intentioned, to build a community. It takes everyone wanting to chip in and help make it happen.

So, that’s why we announced the guild will be closing up.

It’s not how we wanted things to work out, but it’s real life. Things happen, and you deal with it. We did a lot of things, made a lot of decisions, and every time we did the one goal we had to base them on was, “Will this help make the guild a friendlier, happier place for the majority of people who lay in it?”

Sometimes when we asked that question of ourselves, the answer was to ask someone to leave the guild. Sometimes, when we asked that question, the answer was to try and cut back on raiding, or on more advanced progression, or on the frequency of events. Sometimes, our answer was to try and ADD events.

The one question we never asked was, “If we left the guild, will it make the guild a friendlier, happier place for those that are left?”

I think maybe we should have. Things might have turned out much differently.

We could still turn the guild over to someone else, but at this point, it has been such a central part of our lives, we’ve spent so much time worrying about it, and blogging about it, that we’d much rather let it go quiet. To slip once more into the peaceful slumber from which it once came.

Hopefully, Sidhe Devils will remain something that Cassie and I can both look back on and remember with fondness as a place filled with fun, with good people, and good cheer. We’d like to remember it as we thought it was, and for the wonderful things some of it’s members pulled together to do.

As with any big change, it’s been hard. And there are a ton of hard feelings over it all, I’m sure.

But we really do think that, no matter how rough it was to get to this point, it’s for the best.

Comments closed. I’m just not interested in having every person I ever removed from the guild come back  here now to choose this as their venue for talking about it. You never bothered to say shit to me in person or via email, or if you did I told you exactly what my reasons were, and you had ample opportunity to say something then, or in the many months since. Deciding to do it now when the whole point on my post was to get closure and move on just says “ooh, I still want more drama”, and that ain’t happening in this way, in this place. Email me like an adult, or talk about it on your blog with your own spin on it, whatever.

Geez, grow up. Look, if you have all sorts of things you really just HAVE to tell me about what a horrible person you are just SURE I am… email me like an adult. Open a dialogue. Act like you are both serious about wanting to discuss my behavior with me, and like you actually care. Posting it here in a public venue as your first and only choice just says that you don’t want to talk to ME, you want to talk to visiters of my blog about me, in some passive aggressive immature little way. Give it a rest, or grow up and email me. Or what the hell, go the rest of teh way and make it a diatribe on your blog, so you get your spin in and get all your fanboys and fangirls behind you. That’ll teach that mean old Bear a lesson! PS… since I’m not talking about any names here, I ain’t making this drama. I’m making it clear; if you have an honest problem that you want resolution for, email me. I am always available at the exact same place I have been for years and years and years.

Bear Breaker

I am not sure what’s going to happen to the future of the blog.

Right now, at this moment in time, I really feel that I’m done.

I’m not playing games, or begging for attention, or trying to screw with anyone’s feelings. I’m just telling you how I feel.

I’m very, very tired of a lot of things right now, mostly having to do with trying to make life happier for other people related to WoW, and failing.

What I don’t know is whether or not I can quit writing. I feel like I should. I can’t understand how a person could feel the way I do, as depressed as I am about game and people related stuff, and still be able to write something chipper and upbeat while being me. 

And yet, time after time, stepping up to the blank blog page somehow brings out an inner cheeriness. As though, no matter how depressed I am about other things, sitting down to talk to you folks brings my spirits up.

That’s a hard habit to break. But great, that’s what I get out of this. No matter how I may have felt when I sat down, you always bring me back up.

But what do YOU get out of the deal? Some depressed old Bear grumpily bitching, pissing and moaning about something that doesn’t really matter?

I dunno.

Fine, I don’t know. What DO I know?

I know that I’ve got to figure out if there is actual, positive value to my writing this blog beyond making me feel better for a little while. Because I sure as heck have no intention of draggin’ anyone else down with me.

Tree of Life – great minds think alike?

Just for an amusing start to the morning, I check out MMO Champion’s report on the Blizzard Developer Chat session, and see this;

Q. Why are Restoration druids the only spec in the game not receiving a new spell?

A. Restoration druids are actually getting a fair bit. For one, Tree of Life is getting a whole new model (think Ancients of War) and will also “morph” some of your spells to do crazy things while in the form, such as cause Regrowth to be instant, or Lifebloom to apply two applications at once. Tranquility will be raid-wide. We’re also touching nearly every Restoration druid spell to make sure each has a niche and feels good. In general, playing a Restoration druid should feel a lot different (better!) in Cataclysm than it does today.

I’d just like to say, for the record, we called it!

That and a quarter will get me twenny fi’ cents, but it’s still pretty funny. It’s so rarely that I’m right on anything, it feels like a totally new experience.

Spectral, Celestial, ultimately Superficial

Yesterday, as I headed out the door to work I saw MMO Champion’s announcement that the new mini-pet and Celestial Mount were going to someday be available on the Blizzard Store.

Okay.

Later that day, Cassie called to give me a shocking update; someday was in fact today.

Well, yesterday. Whenever. YOU know.

By the time I got home at the end of the day, WoW.com had announced with frenzied excitement that the queue on the Blizzard Store to purchase things was up to 80,000. Or, as WoW.com put it, the queue was almost ten times more than OVER NINE THOUSAND.

Sometimes, I wish internet memes had a physical presence you could drive a fricken stake through the heart of, and then sprinkle with lime at the landfill.

It’s not like using them takes literary skill. Here, this took two seconds to pull out of my butt; “Celestial Steed? This isn’t a Celestial Steed. THIS…. IS….. PONY!!!”

Still, I logged into Dalaran, and to what do my aching eyes should appear, but several jolly old Elves, and ten shining reindeer… um, Celestial Steeds.

Standing there. In Dalaran. Hanging out.

As though their owners were proudly posing for screenshots to be taken of their awesomeness.

If the irony of players posing on purchased steeds to be admired wasn’t poignant enough, there was one lone player sitting astride his Spectral Tiger mount next to them, as though saying, “Look at me on my even more special mount that cost real money to get.”

Chat in Dalaran revolved, of course, around the new mounts.

The buzz at the time I logged in was how awesome it was that you could now buy mounts with a flight speed of 310% directly from the Blizzard store.

I mentioned in Trade chat, and copy/pasted the quote from MMO Champion, the news that the mounts did not automatically confer 310% flight speed on a player. Instead, it scaled to match the maximum level of mount skill your current player already had. If you no have 310% from another mount, than you no get it with Celestial Steed.

This was the, and I kid you not, immediate response in Trade chat;

“Then why would anyone buy one?”

No, I’m not kidding.

My reply?

“Because it’s very, very pretty.”

Look, World of Warcraft is a wonderful, fun game, but there is a big difference in giving you access to cosmetic mounts and pets in a Store for real money, and giving you access to items that provide an actual in-game advantage in exchange for having deep pockets.

I’m very grateful that, so far, Blizzard hasn’t crossed that line.

If you are going to spend money on in-game items from the Blizzard Store, please don’t do it for any other reason than, “I think it’s shiny, and I’m cool with paying money to have the pretty, pretty pony.”

Only you can decide if your personal finances put $25 for a pretty mount in the category of “casual purchase whenever I feel like it.”

For ourselves, $25 isn’t that big a deal, we spent more than that on dinner last night.

But, and this is a key point, we didn’t spend that much on a single mount for our characters in a video game that wouldn’t improve the quality of gameplay for either of us.

I’m not personally opposed to in-game items for cash. Not at all.

I just don’t personally see doing it for that kind of investment-for-reward ratio.

Or, to put it another way, that’s more money for a single mount model than we pay to play the game for a month.

I bought the Pendaren Monk, I purchased the webstream of the last Blizzcon event, and I’ve given serious thought to buying the Horde flight mount mini-pet with real world stuffed animal for my desk.

For me, in each of those situations, there was more involved than a single cosmetic item for my character in the game.

A donation made to charity, streaming Blizzcon information and an Ozzy concert with bonus Murloc Marine pet, a damn cute plush animal for Alex to play with. All win, and all pushing a purchase towards the “value for money” part of the equation.

When I saw the Celestial Mount posers yesterday, I was thinking two things.

  • “Damn, that’s a sweet looking mount.”
  • “Wow, posing with that on the Dalaran steps just proves you think having $25 bucks is a real big deal.”

Let’s be honest. Buy it if you’d love a really hawt looking mount, especially having a mount ready to go as soon as you train an alt with Riding Skill.

But please, don’t pose with it in Dalaran and expect gushing. It’s not exactly in the same conspicuous consumption category as, say, a new Ferarri.

That’s just where I am on these in-game item purchases.

What would get me to buy an in-game mount?

Well, again, perceived value for money. A little extra.

For example… I wouldn’t buy the Celestial Mount for $25, but I might buy a mount that had spots for two passengers, or, when no passengers were available, had two vendors (Just like the Mammoth), a mount that applied to all characters as soon as you trained riding skill at level 20.

Something like that might never happen. It would be providing two actual benefits that are not possible for any other new character of that level; a traveling vendor and a passenger option. 

I think, strictly as game design philosophy, that a good limit to make on Store purchases is, “If I sell this for real world money, does it provide any game mechanic benefit not available to another character of the same level through pure gameplay?”

I think in the case of my passenger mount example, that converting the mounts that cost thousands of gold with passengers and vendors to Bind on Account and scalable to level 20 would make the venture as fair as the entire “Heirloom” system. 

But you get the idea. I think that so long as you don’t get to buy something that gives you an in-game advantage over other players with shallower pockets, then it’s all good, go for it, open season.

And I love how Blizzard has previously released items with that extra value for money. The in-game pets with bonus plushie animals is just awesome. I love that idea.

You know, now that I think of it… if they’d released the Celestial Mount with plush real-world horsie, I bet if we had a daughter it’d be in the mail on it’s way to us right now.

But let’s wrap this up, okay?

Whether or not you buy it, or were the first on your block to get it, please don’t mistake it for anything other than what it is;

A very pretty mount available to anybody with $25 in their pocket.

If just having a pretty mount to enjoy isn’t enough for you, then don’t buy it. It’s not going to give you 310% flight speed while bypassing all the in-game achievements you need to do right now, and nobody I can imagine is going to look at you riding the mount, and think, “Wow, you must be teh leet awesomesauce.”

On the other hand…

Oh, damn.

Hey, Blizzard, could you throw in with each Celestial Mount a complimentary pair of black leather riding gloves, wraparound sunglasses, black Member’s Only jacket and bald spot?

The Celestial Mount; favored riding mount for every balding Human going through a mid-life crisis!

Use your powers for good!

This is actually something for my work I’m hoping someone can help me with.

I have this machine that has a computer support system built in Japan. We had the computer for it go down, and they sent us a new computer from Japan.

Problem?

On booting up, the motherboard BIOS and operating system (Windows) both come up in Japanese kangi, and then lock up on a “needs something” screen.

Now, I have an email in requesting support, but it’s typically takes over a week for the translation service the company uses to take my email, translate it, and forward it on in Japanese for attention.

I have a sneaking suspicion all it’s asking for is a file on initial bootup, maybe a language file for converting to English via script, I don’t know. 

The only translating I do is on a menu. Or in anime.

If anyone knows specifically what it’s asking for, or recognizes exactly what this is and can direct me to where to get the darn file(s) on my own and continue, I’d really appreciate it.

I’d like to try and get further on this project without waiting over a week for a reply from Japan.

Thanks!

Oh, and in other news, I find it hilarious how cool it felt navigating menus and programs all in Japanese, figuring out on the fly how to take a screenshot, open Paint, paste it in, save it and then navigate to the right file location to grab the file and move it to a USB memory stick to get this picture in the first place.

The most simple operation, but when you’re not sure what the various options really say, it feels cool to get it right.

A Visual Indication of AoE

To be filed under “Why didn’t I think of that” is a post by Brokentree over at Wayward Initiative, performing a very simple and yet helpful service;

Showing the DPS what each tanks’ most common AoE looks like.

The subtext goes back to a recent post there by another of the multitude of Wayward Initiative bloggers, Pugging as DPS.

The post is brilliant; it gives a visual example of what Tank AoE looks like, so that DPS have some idea what to wait for before they unload on the group.

I’m a sarcastic old Bear, so that’s a post I totally should have thought of first.

Why?

Because what it’s saying is, “Hey, you idiots keep pulling aggro off the tank in PUGs, time after time after time, in the first two seconds of each pull, before the Tank has ever even had a chance to reach the bloody mobs. But maybe the problem isn’t that you’re a complete f’ing moron. Maybe the problem is you just don’t know what the AoE effect looks like. So I will teach you. The more you know. GI Joe!”

That’s sarcasm to be proud of.

Look, there’s a foolproof, simple technique that will ensure you do not pull aggro off the mobs on the tank.

It’s called patience.

If you play as DPS, just wait a few seconds for the tank to get it stuck in before you open up. If you still pull aggro, then either tone it down, or wait a few more seconds the next time.

Try, and I know this is a crazy, out there idea, but try to use your skill to adjust your DPS output on single and group targets to take into accuont the current tank’s Threat output.

It may take you a pull or two to figure it out, but just do it. 

Stop with the “gogogo”. Stop with the pulling FOR the tank unless she asks.

Just be patient for a few seconds on each pull.

Mathematical tests have proven* that the potential amount of time you will save by pushing the group and screaming GOGOGO, or by pulling the groups yourself as DPS, does not outweigh the amount of time you lose from wiping and running back in, or by having the tank tell you to shut up or having the tank leave the group in disgust at your behavior or having the healer stop healing you each time you pull something antisocial so you’ll eat a repair bill.

If you are DPS and have a 15 minute queue time, and you want to get each Heroic finished as soon as possible so you can requeue, pushing the speed of a group and destabilizing the run is not going to save you time. 

Neither will screaming “you suck” at the tank if you pull aggro by not waiting, nor will screaming obscenities at the healer if you, as the tank pull half the instance in your 22k health/non-defense capped gear and die.

I will hammer this home until everyone seems to get it;

“Why is there never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to release and run back in?”™

Seriously.

If you’re the tank, learn what you can safely pull and hold before taking too much damage too fast. And go slow enough for the healer to keep up.

If you’re the DPS, wait until the tank has had a chance to tag everything before you open up, and hey, brilliant idea here, how about making your primary target the same one the tank currently has targeted? Chances are excellent that’s the one getting the lion’s share of the tanks threat output.

There are even mods/addons that make it easy. X-Perl unitframes let’s you turn on target of target display for Party mode. You can easily, at a glance, see what EVERY person in the party is targeting.

I love comparing, as the tank, what I’m targeting against what the rest of the group has targeted.

“Oh hey, how about that, every time I mark a Skull, the Mage is on something else and pulls aggro on it. Every time. Let’s see how he likes it when I stopped Growling.”

And healers… well, I’m sorry. That’s about all I got for you.

Oh no, wait, I do have one piece of advice.

If you go Engineering, you can get Rocket Boots enchanted on your feet. It really helps keeping up when the tank thinks his leet 22k health means heals are optional on the next sequence of groups. 

*Based on my slowing down every time I get one of those assholes.