Wrapping Up #MMONBI

The Newbie Blogger Initiative was a great success, and in addition to all the new bloggers who got started, there were also a ton of articles on a multitude of topics about blogging. Since I’m such a list compiler, I’ve decided to put together this final compilation of all the advice that was given (and hopefully received!) during our newbie blog drive. Thanks for all your contributions!

Special thanks to Syp for getting us all together, and Binkenstein and Rezznul for reviewing and tweaking my categories.

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[D3] Day 1 Q&A

Although I imagine Error 37, and my subsequent spring fling with CTRL-V, will take awhile to fade from my first impressions of Diablo 3 going live, I did get the opportunity to create my Witch Doctor yesterday arriving alongside my husband’s Wizard outside of New Tristram. We only managed to claw ourselves up to L11, but I must say that what the beta promised, the final product delivered and I’m thoroughly enjoying my return to Diablo’s playground. I don’t imagine that I’ll be hitting nightmare any time soon (unlike some people I know) but as a returning Diablo player, I expected to be running the ropes rather smoothly; however, I did have a few questions crop up, either myself or from others getting ready to start playing. Since I obviously cannot be alone in my derp (wishful thinking) here’s Wind’s self Q&A.

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If You Remember Nothing Else….WRITE! #MMONBI

May is just flying away, and there are a hundred and one other things I can talk about blogging and getting started. Last year, I’d provided a little snapshot into my own pet peeves when reading blogs: like all advice take it or leave it. There have also been a slew of helpful posts on hosting and things over at the NBI forums. I particularly enjoyed these three posts on setting up your blog, connecting with the community, and handling that RSS mess.

And while I could provide similar and just as well meaning advice on connecting with the greater community of bloggers (that’s kinda the cornerstone of this initiative!) the most important single piece of advice I could ever hope to give an aspiring blogger is this:

WRITE!

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What’s In a Name? #MMONBI

Another day, another post for the Newbie Blogging Initiative! Before we get started, I’ve had a couple of questions about getting involved. Whether you want to be a blogger (or are a newbie!) or if you wish to sponsor the NBI, just head over to the NBI forums, find the appropriate section of forums (Sponsor or Newbie) and sign up! There’s already some good threads started where brave souls have ponied up some questions. Don’t be shy, we won’t eat you!

The Bard would tell us that our blog is going to be awesome no matter what we call, and in that, he’s not far wrong. Even if you call your blog Home Gardening Tips #101, someone will eventually find your boss articles depending on how you tag and categorize (that’s another article) but shouldn’t you make it easier than that for readers to find you? How many poor gardening enthusiasts are you pissing off?

Taking the time to name your blog is a great exercise for planning out the infant stages of your blogging project and can be a great advertising tool in it’s own right.

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Be a Blogger Campaign | Newbie Blogger Initiative

I love reading blogs, I love keeping in contact with a cadre of other bloggers through twitter and Blog Azeroth, and best of all, I want you to ask yourself: Should I be a blogger?

For the month of May, in conjunction with a swarm of other bloggers across the MMO genre, I’ll be posting about the nuts and bolts of blogging, the good, the bad, and technical, to encourage you, and you, and yeah, you over there, to take your thoughts, stories, and screenshot folder, and share them through a blog.

I started my own blog in September 2009, somewhat as a whim, but primarily as an archive. What’s more fitting for a historian, right? You see, I had all these memories, experiences, notes, and other random stuff that kept getting posted, lost, and saved in random folders. I really wanted a way to organize my thoughts, my history with gaming in a place that wouldn’t be controlled by my guild associations or through the implosion of laptops.

Funnily enough, I’ve found that others have found some small kernel of value out of all that miscellaneous meanderings. Some people just seem to like, well, me (or my screenshots!) And through this process of sharing I’ve discovered a whole new world, or rather, a tiny segment of the larger gaming community that also shares my need to share and helps provide tips, advice, and musings about the game-worlds that they enjoy.

So this month, I open the curtain behind Jaded Alt, and take you on a micro-tour of the decisions that have gone into making my blog mine as well as some general advice (that I’d wish I’d had!) about starting and maintaining a blog and a web presence. If you have a specific question, leave a comment, or send me an e-mail. Take a moment to visit the whole host of gaming bloggers who will be providing advice and thoughts on blogging, and ask yourself:

Am I a blogger?

Special thanks to Syp over at Bio Break for organizing the hordes, and Greg “Rackham” Moran of The Jedi Gambit for the lovely graphic!

Now for Specifics

th_deathknightDeathknights have over the whole year or so they’ve been around gotten a rather bad rap. There overpowered, they destroy in pvp, they are a better tank than warriors, wah wah wah… Unfortunately for me and people like me however, Blizzard listened to these many comments like they normally do and brought down the nerf bat hard and swift a number of times over. This post, and a few others following, are going to be primarily focused on how to get the most out of your Deathknight– the one that you insist on playing even though Blizzard (and all the other players on your server) hate you.

Step One: Know what role you want to play and stick to it first.

As a deathknight you have all sorts of options, but like most other classes with options you have to pick one of them and stick too it furiously, almost obsessively. Like…so much that you drive other people in your guild a little nuts whenever you raid with them. Single target dps, multi target (or AOE) dps, and tank are your main 3 options. As wow is a game of math above and beyond however much roleplay or “fun” raiding you may like to do, there is really only one spec for every role, with a few specific talents that you can switch around slightly depending on the situation. For those of you reading this that think “Oh, I can just make it through with a home-brewed talent spec, picking and choosing what I like” I’m sorry to inform you, you’re wrong. Or at very least your not getting the most out of you deathknight.  Blizzard is doing a good enough job on there own, we don’t need to help them nerf us.

Specs

Single Target/Blood: Spec #1

Optional Rune Power: Spec #2

AOE/Unholy: Spec

Tank/Frost: Spec

You may have variations or disagree that other specs are great (I’m thinking specifically of those who stand behind a frost dps build /shudder). But without having to gear very specifically for your talent these are the tried and tested specs that I have made work and crunched numbers to ensure provide maximum benefit.

Gear

Now a very brief overview on gear. Wow has put in place my most and least favorite change of all time during one of there most recent patches. Heroics drop emblems of conquest. If you still need to be shown how to gear at 80 to get into Ulduar or ToC then there’s no help for you. Grind out heroics, get some pug experience in Naxx and OS if you think you need it and get those badges! Conquest gear is great and if you can pick up a cheap triumph (obtained from doing the daily heroics) piece or two during the process you’ll be even further ahead. I realize for most players this I old hat and I’m just retelling old news, but in the interest of being thorough I will occasionally mention things you’ve probably already heard about.

Next time I’ll delve into a few specific relics and their uses with each spec I’ve mentioned. Runeforging 101 and the do’s and dont’s of blowing your cooldowns in raids.

Thanks for coming back, hope to have more for you soon!

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Guild Guide

Guilds are the lifeblood of just about any MMO.  A grouping of friends… a grouping of comrades… a group of people with similar goals… well… uh…

All of the above?

Guilds come together to server many different purposes because for every player that wants to be the guy at the top taking out all the content, there is another player looking for a chat room to share his zany adventures in Azeroth — roleplayer style.

Recently, I pugged with a freshly minted 80 who was complaining that her guild didn’t ever seem to do heroics.  She had joined a guild to spend time with her guildmates and do ALL content, whether it be raiding or alt leveling.  She was very put out that her guild wasn’t supporting her in her effort to get geared.

My first thought, and response was, “Different guilds have different expectations and goals.”

I have been in a multitude of guilds in my time with WoW, and I imagine there are a plethora more that meet needs I haven’t and will never even consider viable.

Friends and Family

Some “casual” guilds call themselves a friends and family guild, but when I say it, I mean just that.  I am currently in a friends and family guild — I know everyone’s name, telephone number, and address (or I can make them give it to me *evil laugh*)  We had just enough people to get the charter signed, and honestly, we talk more about our day to day lives than I would ever share with the general population.  So if you see <Vendor Trash> on Scarlet Crusade, don’t ask if you can join…. you probably can’t.

Leveling / Alt Guild

These folks don’t care one iota about content that isn’t a 5 man dungeon.  Leveling or alt guilds will generally have a large enough player base that you can get a group for Scarlet Monsatary… and every character is the correct level.  Expect the bank to have plenty of potions for 15 – 80 level characters and very few “raiding” staples such as elixirs, flasks or buffage food.  In every leveling/alt guild I’ve been a part of, heroics are on the menu, but if you want to raid, you will have to find another home to hang your hat — although your level 7 huntard is more than welcome to stay!

Casual Raiding (Type 1)

Raiding is on the menu… when we get enough people on.  Raids generally aren’t a scheduled event, more a critical mass inertia: When enough people show and clamor for the raid to start, people make it to the door.  You generally won’t see anything big going down — for Northrend that means  you can expect to get an EoE, VoA, or occasional Naxxramas run in.  However, be forewarned, actually finishing Naxxramas will likely take two to three sessions and will likely require pugging to fill additional slots, or finish the raid ID before the week is out.  Wipes will be acceptable for the most part and raid leadership will flit between the guy who’s been here before and the gal who reads all the strats.

You will see dedicated raiding types who pug outside the guild because they’re not seeing enough action as well as new players who have never raided before.  Membership often fluctuates in these guilds, as people return to their leveling guild after finding they don’t really like raiding, or people take the step up to a harder hitting raid guild.

Casual Raiding (Type 2)

They have a website.  They have a raid calendar.  You must submit an application to join.  Questions will flit between how bad ass your spec is to your favorite color.  Honestly, they really want to be your friend, but they really would rather not die in the dungeon.  Generally, the things separating the Type 1 & Type 2 casual raider is their willingness to be organized and have expectations.  Whether they’re met or not is usually optional, but they really do TRY to get people on the same page.  Content will have a farm status, and generally, it will actually be accurate barring a really bad week (which everyone understands, because we’re really just a great bunch of guys and gals!)

Hardcore Raiding (Type 1)

These are the ones that are spoken about in whispers… the true Type-A personalities.  They will WIN the game!  (How you win a MMO that constantly breaks out new content is not a concept that I have personally figured out yet, but I just KNOW these guys must know something I don’t).  Not only must you fill out an application, you must pass a background check and provide a blood sample to make sure you have the correct balance of hormones for optimal trigger response.  Failure is not permitted, and generally an applicant can be expected to be belittled and shamed before turned down for the applicant behind him who has the correct blood type.  You must be available to the guild for any event the guild deems worthy to schedule — anywhere between 5-7 nights per week.  While less common as raids have gotten smaller and dungeons shorter, they still DO exist on select servers.

Hardcore Raiders (Type 2)

Close cousins to type 1, type 2 gives off an aura of “and btw, we don’t care that we’re fucking awesome, we just play to have fun.”  Type 2 HR’s usually have a standard between a serious casual guild and a super, extreme hardcore raiding guild.  They want good people, but they generally only raid 2-4 times per week.  This is where most of your “serious” raiding guilds will stand — and you can expect to clear most content in a guild with this mindset and expectation.  Generally you will be expected to show up with your own food / flasks, and b.i.s. gems/chants/gear (although some wiggle room is sometimes made for new apps on gear issues).  I’ve seen the gamut from super friendly do everything in the game with you including leveling alts to only show up for raid time in this type of raiding guild, so you really have to shop around to find the right fit if you’re interested in content AND something more.

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Basic Healing

I’ve only had one character that was a dedicated healer — she never went for dual specialization and leveled up as disc in order to maximize her dungeon time.  When my team decided to change servers, I decided to head back to a d.p.s. capable class, because I honestly had been a healer or tank for the last two years.  However, I wanted to pad our healing roster, so I decided to dual spec as restoration.

My friend and I swapped back and forth as we leveled on who got healing duty for dungeon runs.  Since it was friends, I was able to really goof around, and get a good feel for the undiscovered country of riptides and chain heals.  Additionally, I have started running heroics, either as elemental or restoration, depending on the need, and find that some basic tenets of healing are universal.

1) Healing is highly situational

Solo and raid healing priorities tend to radically differ.  Likewise, changes in important stats (haste, crit, mp5, int) often radically change my healing repertoire as different spells give me more bang for my buck.  Being aware of what ALL my spell options are, and being able to dynamically change my spell choices in a given situation has saved my goose more than once.

2) Quicker is better

While all players must be reactive to some degree, in my experience healers have to be the best prepared to deal with dynamic situations.  While encounters will generally follow an ebb and flow, there is no accounting for stupid: either a tank missed a cooldown, turned prematurely, or a fellow party/raid member decided standing in the fire was really quite cozy.  Low health is always a bad place to be, so healers quick responsiveness to poor management, or just a tough encounter with heavy damage is a boon to any group.

3) Mana is life

A healer without mana is a piece of deadwood.  Some fights are long.  Sometimes, your dps is not sufficient to complete an encounter in the proper time frame, leaving you out of resources, and effectively, out of the fight.  Generally speaking however, providing sufficient mana for an encounter rests solely within the hands of the healer.  Early preparation means taking into account your mana pool and mana regeneration for the content you are seeking to accomplish.  Use appropriate cooldowns, whether that be your fiend or a mana tide totem before your run out of mana.  Do not heal players that are already being healed.  Mana is a precious resource, and must be used conservatively.

4) Anticipate damage

Much like a tank, a healer that knows the encounter should show marked improvement over a new healer.  The reason is simple: they know when to heal the predictable damage.  A healer should begin casting when they know damage is incoming, especially on hard hitting encounters.  If you wait until the damage is already inflicted, your team mate has to wait the 2-3 seconds it takes for your heal to click off, and by then, further damage can have killed your team mate.  If you’re unsure of whether damage will be spiking soon, it is almost always better to begin a heal, and then stop casting (either by escape, jump or macro) if the damage does not occur.

5) Don’t die in the fire

Healers have a bad reputation for being raid liabilities when it comes to boss effects.  Northrend is brutal when it comes to requiring raiders to be aware of where their character is positioned at all times.  While you shouldn’t have to move all the time, you should get in the habit of glancing away from your raid frames from time to time to check the current situation.  I often locate my boss mod warnings near my raid frames so they catch my peripheral vision when I’m healing.  You can also train yourself to glance around the screen while casting a long heal or during a lull in damage so you’re not taken unawares by the giant pit of fire that spawned under your feet.  Jumping when you’re not actively casting a spell can also help save your bacon on fights with a stacking debuff.

6) Communicate

The phrase that makes me cry the worst after a wipe is “X was out of range of my heals.”  If you are not able to see at a glance who is in or out of range with your current UI setup, I seriously suggest you change it.  Notifying dps that you cannot heal them is important.  When you burn a cooldown that your tank may be relying on for mitigation, let them know.  Before you read this and respond that typing is something that is very difficult for you doing a raid, let me suggest two things: 1) for out of range members make a target macro letting them know.  That way you can target that greyed out unit frame, hit a button, and they are immediately notified they are too far away.  2) Make your defensive cooldown abilities a macro that cast the spell and announce in party / raid that it has been cast.

7) Healer, heal thyself

Nothing is worse than having a bar full of mana and a health bar of zero.  You are effectively squandering a vital resource of your raid if you let yourself die.  Will it happen — sure.  Healers have a “save others first” complex that is hardwired to their psyche.  Nothing to be ashamed of — but if saving the tank in the first minute of the fight results in the entire raid dying because you died, it is not worth the trade off.  I personally use stones & pots first when healing, because my mana is generally saved for the raid, but it doesn’t really matter if the guy next to you tosses you a heal or you do it yourself.  The priority is to stay alive!

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Tanking 101

So here I am thinking “My main is an elemental shaman atm, whyever should I be writing a tanking story?”  Well, I was over at World of Warcraft Wanderings and somehow ended up on this old post — Tanking at Tanking.  Healer becomes tank.  Healer feels unprepared and overwhelmed.  Healer never wants to taunt another mob again!  I think every moderately sane tank  has dealt with the frustration of feeling not “up to par” when starting out, so let me share some lessons I’ve learned.

1. Be the leader.

  • Tanks often have a reputation for being pushy, know-it-all, or just plain flat arrogant.  While you don’t have to be any of those things, it sure makes the job a hell of a lot easier.  You are responsible for taking your crack team in and completing the dungeon.  The DPS will be doing the “work” of getting the mob down, and you sure can’t get anywhere without your healer; however, the tactical decision making is often assumed to be the responsibility of the tank, so become comfortable with the mentality that you are the leader.

2. Be prepared to communicate

  • No one expects you to be a paragon of knowledge on other classes.  However, if you’re new to tanking (especially at this stage of the content) you may will run into dps that radically outgears you.  This makes your job harder even with the staggering differences in threat generation that you hear old hand tanks talking about.  You can lose aggro.  If this happens, do not assume your dps will take into account your scrubby gear and stop getting themselves killed.  Be proactive.  Mark a kill order.  Talk to your team and let them know you are new to the tanking scene and still getting gear.  Something!  Do not let your team fail because you fail to communicate.  Losing aggro happens when you are outgeared.
  • Your healer is the other half of yourself.  Without a solid healer behind you, you will fail (most especially as a new tank).  While dps may whine about having to hold back, your healer may be amazed that he actually has to do more than throw a hot on you in a heroic!  Forewarning can help save you a wipe before you start :)

3.  Learn the Dungeons

  • I know, you probably have 30 other alts that have run Nexus 10k times at least before you ever thought of making your healing paladin a tank.  What you didn’t know, is that the fights look radically different and require different trigger responses on your part when you’re the tank.  When scaly things appear, you cannot run away!  It’s your job to get that stuff now ^.^  Knowing what silences, what the patrols in a dungeon look like, and when to expect extra spawning mobs can mean the difference between an effortless face-roll and a night of frustration.  As with your gear, you are probably going to want to take the dungeon at a slower pace than you’re used to it being run.  Remember the first few times you ran the instance and the tank took his time — it’s because s/he was learning the dungeon.  Do the same!

4. You need to see your raid members

  • Have raid frames that can show you who has aggro.  When tanking multiple mobs its vital to know if they’re beating on you, the other tank, or the squishy healer in the back who you can’t even see through the mob pack.  A raid frame addon (your choice, I prefer grid) is invaluable in letting you glance at a consistent area on your screen and ensure you actually DO have everything.

5.  Rule of thumb: If you are short of mana/rage — PULL MORE MOBS!

  • My friend, Sileen, hated this rule of thumb, but it is definitely true.  If you’re a paladin tank sitting on your butt, drinking water, you’re doing the dungeon wrong.  I mention this in the tanking 101 rules, because many tanks do not seem to know when they are beginning to outscale the dungeon.  If you consistently run out of your resource of choice on trash mobs, then your gear is scaling past the dungeon indicator, and you should find another mob/pack to keep your party moving.  The only time to ignore this advice is on the word of your healer, who is out of mana.  Otherwise, let ‘em catch up ^.^

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