Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So, Ya Wanna Raid Eh?

I've often talked about the responsibilities of Guild Leaders and Raid Leaders. Today I wanted to take the time to talk to all you NEW RAIDERS wanting in on the action. For the old veterans, consider this as a basic refresher reading and if you have other pro tips, please comment as you will.

To the new raider:

Understand that life doesn't revolve around you anymore, you are a part of a team. This means you need to learn to act like a team member and show up in a responsible, timely fashion. For those that PuG into raids, you are not in charge, you volunteered. Therefore, kindly listen to your raid leader. If your raid Leader's Strat isn't working, respectfully approach through a whisper if you think you have a better suggestion.

Walking into a raid with a toon that you power leveled and have no idea how to use is a quick way to never get invited to a raid again. Take the time to practice your rotations and know your abilities. I personally hate power leveling, I think its the worst thing in the world. Besides, honestly it doesn't take very long at all to lv the regular way in AoC.  When I see toons not even landing a combo blow, I know for a fact they have not the slightest idea of how to run their class effectively. I'm all about teaching folks what they need to know and consider myself fairly patient. But I won't carry folks in a raid. That's asinine and it reflects poorly upon your guild in the long run. Take the time to research what your character does.

Come prepared. Don't ask for mana or stam or health pots. Buy the damned things. Most of you by now are in a guild. Most guilds have at least a rudimentary guild city started. That means if at least a Tradepost is created and you've hit at least Renown lv 3, there is a Brewmistress. BUY FROM HER!!!! Keep them set on your hot bars. Make sure your armor and weapons are as up to date as possible. Allow the Raid Leader to equipment check you if necessary and make recommendations. Also, if you plan on testing a new rotation or a new character build, do so BEFORE the raid so you know what you are getting into. Easiest way to do that is either get a target dummy to rate your performance or get out to Khitai and beat the shit out of multiple mobs. But don't go into a raid with an unproven spec that you just pulled out of your 4th point of contact. Get comfortable with your spell or melee rotations and make sure it works first.

I do recommend you at least use one of the following customized UI's. The stock UI in AoC sucks.
Stonerune, Fire, Plagued, Strange. Any of these are decent and allows you to map keys easily. It gives you a ton more slots to put your hot key abilities. I grant, the Stock UI can be used, but it's really not user friendly.

If you don't have ventrillo/teamspeak/mumble, you NEED to get it! Look, Raid Leaders don't have the time to type out strats. You don't need a mic. But you do need to listen in on the directions of the Raid Leader. Short of being hearing impaired, there is no reason for you to not have Ventrillo or mumble depending on what your Raid Leader uses.

Know and understand your raid's loot rules. READ the description of every loot peace and don't hit that need button unless it's for your class or the Raid Leader opens it up for the rest to roll on. If the Raid Leader says, only <X> class roll on it once the box pops, then only that class rolls. Don't rush your rolls. Take your time, no one is going anywhere till all the loot is distributed. But let's say for the sake of argument you accidentally won something that should have gone to someone else. Get the loosing party with you. Then YOU the undeserving bastard that accidentally won the item need to type the following:

/pet raid loot issues

Wait till a GM whispers you and then let them know the member standing right next to you should get the item. The GM will delete it from your inventory and then create it in the inventory of the deserving party. If I sound like a nazi about it, I have seen this happen in raids way to often. Don't like being called an undeserving bastard? Easy, be situationally aware enough to only roll on what you are supposed to roll instead of...OMFG SHINEYS YAYAYAYAAY, MINE MINE MINE!!!
That isn't a difficult concept. Yet I have seen it happen on more than one occasion. I promise you, there are a lot of guilds out there that have no mercy and will make sure never to invite you again. Not to mention they will Raid Kick you on the spot.

OK, this is a basic primer. Those who are old vets, I invite you to comment and add in your own pro tips to this basic set for the new raider.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guild Leadership...Training the Troops

It takes a lot to run a solid crew of instance runners and raiders. It takes basic knowledge of game mechanics and what each class can do or not do. Leaders have a daunting task ahead of them. A Guild Leader who wants to promote skilled players will find it difficult with new recruits and those just coming into their own at level 80. This is an unfortunate by product of every MMO where end game content is the only priority. It hurts worse when the game population is smaller than some of the big name MMOs such as WoW or GW series. So what do you do if you've worked so hard to form a guild of instance runners and raiders? TRAIN THEM!!!! But you can't do it alone. Here are some things each new Guild Leader that has started to get his band together should keep in mind. By no means is this the Bible, but it is taken from basic tenants of Leadership skills.

First and foremost, if you plan on leading those rough instances or raids, you have to think a little different than the average player. This means taking an active interest in what each class of the game can do on the basic level. It requires a fair bit of research and reading. Some of the information is outdated so you need to compare old information to what's current and what changes in each patch mean to your teams. Guild websites are handy to post experiences, but more so to post relevant information that can easily be accessed by each class. It doesn't matter who posted the information, just give credit to them for their work (mandatory in any postings on my guild site). Make sure your guildees know this information and READ IT. On top of class skills, tried and tested strategies should be posted and required for members to read if they intend to partake into a raid or hard instance. Research is every one's friend. Remember that many players solo level without every really grouping. Unless they are experienced with other MMO's you will find folks who have no idea on how to work as a team and within the holy trinity of tank, heal, dps. You should post some basic guides on this as well. Did I mention that being a Leader is actually work? You as the Leader are not there for others to cater to you. In fact, a good guild leader is there to serve as a facilitator to his or her membership base. You are the mitigator the listener and the mentor to all of them, even the experienced ones.

Train your troops. Get them working on easier end game instances, for AoC I recommend you take new 80s into Atzels Fortress. The fights there are pretty easy if you do careful pulling and line of sight pulls. Communicate with them and observe their behaviors as you run with them. Watch to see the combo animations, and have a fair knowledge of what they are, especially for melee dps. Keep your combat logs running to see effects. Cross communication as a leader is a must. I usually recommend that the leader of a team is some sort of DPS class, it's easier to track everyone else while working the fights as you can move in and out as needed. Tanks on the other hand have a tougher job as leads, healers are a toss up depending on how comfortable you are in healing and cross talking during your fights. New 80s often don't know just what is in their arsenal to work effectively as a team. Sounds stupid? Not when you solo play really doesn't stretch your abilities. A few combos at best, nothing really is experimented with. an example of this is Conq's. They are one of the easiest solo play classes. But often players wont use banners or wont experiment with formation effects to see how they react. What works easy on solo doesn't work so well in raids. I see it all the time. Walked into a raid where there were 3 conqs and NOT ONE frigging banner to help the team efficiently down their targets. Not very effective for a conq. This is but one example.

Can't figure out why your off tank cant grab and hold aggro? Take them to your guild city, have them run through their rotations on a target dummy and see what it is they are working. Watch the combat logs and see what they are doing. Mentor them on different means to grab and hold aggro. Also mentor them on how to allow their counterpart to grab it back. This makes your healer's life a lot easier.

Have training sessions for each major end job of the holy trinity. Nothing will piss your tanks off than a dps that goes into overdrive and destroys the aggro tables especially when swapping aggro. It becomes a rats nest of catch up rather than efficient burn down of your targets. Train your dps to hold off their combos when an aggro swap takes place.

Healers, train them on what their healing cool downs mean and how spamming a heal can be more counterproductive than placing the heal at the right time for fast burst heals that actually keep your tanks alive.

Positioning your healers for best effect. This is hard to do when some of the fighting gets moving around. Alot of the healing in AoC is CONE effect. Some is of course group, but if you aren't in that cone of healing, your screwed when it counts the most. Teach the tanks to be mindful of the position where their healers are shooting out heal spells. Teach the healers to compliment eachother in position so there are overlapping cones if the fight becomes a moving circle of madness.

Above all, keep your cool as a leader. Don't get hot headed or angry. I can't stress this enough. It breaks the team apart and shows you to be an ass. Remember, we all started out as dumb asses that did stupid noob moves. Keep your teams motivated and willing to keep trying. If you hit a hard point where nothing budges. Step back, revisit it on another day. This game will be around for a bit so don't rush. Also keep in mind that when you didn't lead you may have been number one on holding aggro or dps or heals. That isn't your job anymore. You may be last on all of those lists, but if the team wins, YOU win. Your job is to coordinate attacks, explain strats, make sure team make up is best for the job at hand, get the right team together and keep them trained. Your job is NOT to be the very best during the fight. Train the others to do that so you can make timely and accurate decisions which allows the teams to succeed.

These are basic ideas and I'll expound upon more of them later. Sorry no pics on the post yet, Ill drop a couple later when I got a few minutes. Hope this was useful. If you have additional ideas as leaders, by all means comment, I enjoy gaining and passing knowledge. Till next time, may your belts be lined with gold and may you crush your enemies as they are driven before you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tier 3 Weaponsmith and The Ghostwolf Pup from Kylikki

Our Tier 3 Weaponsmith Completed!
Well it's been a hot minute since I last posted. But the guild has been hard at work. First and foremost we were able to put up out T3 Weapon smith. This was largely due in part from one of our fine members Lonelyhatred. He donated over 10000 basalt and a ton of dusk metal and oak within a week or two of our last upgrade. Outstanding work from him! So I christened the weapon smith as The Lonely Weapon Smith in his honor. We got a good screenshot of it with senior members after our weekly T1 raid in Kylikki and Yakhmar.

The Ghost Wolf Pet (Our new Mascot)
Speaking of which, after a very hard-fought battle in Kylikki's Crypt, Kylikki drop the Ghost wolf Pet, so now we have a little mascot that I carry about. The pet is strictly vanity but its also damned near impossible to drop so I was pretty stoked about it. When it first dropped I mistakenly forgot to reset the raid loot table to mundane so it was sort of by accident that I got it. I feel bad that no one got to roll on it..seriously I do! But at the same time it was sort of fitting that we received it in the end.

To that end as always I thank our raiding allies The Walking Dead who help us tremendously in making sure we can run a solid raid or two. They have always been good folk and are starting pretty quick here to get into T3 Raiding themselves. Good folk to have around.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ramblings, Progress and Real Life...How it all Comes Together

I haven't posted in a hot minute. First an foremost, my apologies. Real life, which I will cover first has kind of had both my gaming and my blogging set aside on the back stove. No, I haven't stopped playing, but I did have to set my priorities a little different. Work in itself kept me on my toes all week long. Projects came up fast and furious and I was working a 13 to 14 hour day on a regular basis. This caused some dismay as I am the Guild Leader of The Ghost Wolves on Wiccana. I couldn't pay as much attention to the guild as I had to deal with work first. I don't begrudge this, it is of course my livelihood. But I felt as though I let my Guild members down and didn't oversee their success as I normally would. So..I have always had my concerns. I guess in a way, leading a guild is part of my social makeup as a person. Interesting how a video game can do that if you care about the people you play with.

Our Little Brandy
Additionally, we have a new family member. My wife Laura (aka Pantherias and Akantha on Wiccana) adopted a 7 week old Rottweiler mix. We named her Brandy. She has been a love and a handful all at the same time. But as a new family member we take a lot of time to make sure she is cared for along with our American Bull and our 2 cats. Needless to say I got a lot of work to upkeep lol. This is ok, because it leads into a point. We all need balance, both in game and out of game. Yes, we build relationships in the MMO world. But the real world is still just as important. It's a balance that we all need to strive for. There is nothing wrong with taking a break and doing Real Life things. This actually is important to strike that balance. Burn out is assured if you don't.

Our T3 Alchemy Tower
Ok, enough of the preaching, Other events in the Guild have been last week's raising of our T3 Alchemist Tower. This was a huge gain for us as a guild. It took us quite a bit of work to get the mats together to raise it up and I was damned proud to see it grow. We also completed a full T1 sweep as a guild with our primary allies. All in all, even with the work issues and what not it has been a very successful week.  We have gained new members, though a few of my key teams have been a bit spotty lately. Guess time will tell.

Some things I have noticed in the AoC community, there has been a lot less negative posting. Point in fact, I see more and more positive influences and helpful hints to newer players. The levels of toxic behavior has gone down significantly judging by the new posts that have been raised. I really like this. I do hope it's a trend that keeps going on.

So these are my quick shot points for the week, I intend on getting more into the upcoming crafting system and such in later posts. In the meantime, may your belts be lined with gold and may blood flow as free as ale! Good luck out there!!!