Monday, March 29, 2010

DPS Improvement

A couple months ago I was one of those huntard players who stunk out the joint with not too good DPS, gaining the mockery of people in PUGs who ran recount to see the woeful numbers. Yes, back then, I was pulling 700-900 dps, running heroics. Not a good fit. How did I get to that point? What made me wake up to playing my class (In this case hunter), better?

I posted last week about using the LFG tool to run PUGs to learn how to play your class, and deal with group dynamics in instances. When I was levelling the hunter, that tool didn't exist. Most of my instance runs were soloing vanilla content when I reached a high enough level, or helping guildmates leveling who need a hand with Stormwind Stockade when you're level 76... When you run instances like that, you're not exactly learning how to play your class. That becomes a problem when you hit 80, have unenchanted/gemmed gear, use vendor ammo instead of ammo with more damage you can get off engineers, increase inappropriate stats... You get the idea. It was pretty bad. As a hunter, I should have focused on agility as the main stat. Instead, I focused on stamina, because I saw it added hit points to my health (which is a secondary stat), and strength. It was messy, and nobody noticed it. If they did, they didn't bother to point it out.

I was able to get away with poor DPS on normal instances using the LFG tool. On heroics though, I learned a hard lesson. You WILL get called out if recount is showing DPS numbers that another member of the party deems too low. After several times of this happening, I decided to finally learn about my class. I studied up on shot rotation, overhauled my talent tree, got advice from other players, got purple ammo, and am currently working on getting more appropriate gear for the hunter (a slow process to be sure, but getting there).

The results are paying off. I still have some work to do, but I'm not getting called out low DPS anymore. The key thing is to take time to learn about your class. Happily questing along by yourself is a different cry from running instances and raids with other people. There's an expectation at that point that you have at least a general idea to play your class. Take the time to use LFG, especially at lower levels, go to sites such as Elitist Jerks, and seek out the opinions of more seasoned players. You'll be better off for it.

Me, Myself and I

I logged into my paladin over the weekend to clear out the quests in Dustwallow Marsh. I also left the guild that toon joined a couple weeks ago. I wrote a little of this last week. There wasn't much activity at all in the guild, and the officers weren't on for more than a week. I decided that perhaps exploring other options would be the best way for me to go.

Will I join another guild at some point? Probably. Do I want to join one now? Not really. If I get an invite, of course I'll try it out despite my shoddy history with guilds (most due to no fault of my own). From my experience playing the pally, having a guild really isn't necessary, especially with the new LFG tool. Sure, can guildmates assist in other ways due to professions and game knowledge? Certainly. However, having another alliance toon at 80 means that for most part, I know what to expect from quest chains, etc.

I could make the argument for the social aspects of guilds. Sure, it's good to be chatting about random stuff with other players while questing, but it's not a requirement for me. Due to being guildless/having a non-active guild for so long, I've grown used to the silence, and it's peaceful. No drama. No fifteen year-old spamming guild chat with stupid stuff all in caps.

I'm a little picky about a guild I can stay in long-term. A good guild is only as good as it's members. A good guild should have helpful players who make the game fun, who impart their knowledge, and add to the overall experience of playing WoW.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being Patient and Having Fun

Last night, I ran regular Culling of Strat. through the LFG system. It was a good run. However, the tank lost aggro a few times, and I found myself with a couple elite scourge minions in my face attacking me. He kept apologizing, saying he's new to tanking. I told him no worries. We killed the mobs, and nobody got killed. The fact was, he was trying to play his role properly. I ran heroic Gundrak one day with a tank who could not hold aggro for anything, and blamed us for wiping (why does it always seem these "elitist" players are the ones most clueless).

The fact is, we cleared the instance easily, and the tank performed his role. While he may have been unable to keep aggro a couple times, he did well, and was trying. I can relate to his situation as a DPS hunter. I've gotten better playing the class, but when I was in my late 70s, and then 80 running instances, I really didn't know how to play the class (though the tank seemed to).

In the end, when players make mistakes, it's best to be patient with them. After all, as long as nobody wipes continuously, and the players make an effort during the runs, that's all that matters. I have no patience for "elitist" players who harp on small mistakes, DPS numbers, etc. I am patient with players who may still be learning, and are making concerted efforts to try, because from personal experience, I want to make the runs a pleasant experience. The elitist types turned me off from instances for nearly two months. I don't want that to happen to other players.

You Should Try...

The LFG dungeon finder system if you're leveling a toon. The reason? You learn to play in a group, and as a result, gain some mastery of how to play your class and role in the group. I was leveling my hunter before the LFG tool came out, and made it to 80, with very few group runs. As a result, by the time I started running instances, my dps was very low (vendor arrows and bullets, not using much shot rotation: see too much auto-shot), etc. My paladin on the other hand, I've been running instances as often as I can. As a result, I've gotten a feel of what attack order I should do as a ret pally to gain most damage, and have found myself in a healing role more than once when healers had lagging issues, etc. That will only help me when the pally reaches end game content.

While I enjoy playing solo, (don't like some PUG drama I've experienced), running randoms can be a good thing. Not only do you learn how to play your class, sometimes you may find yourself in a group with some excellent players. Take my pally run in Zul'Furakk. It started shaky. One of the players (not a tank), was pulling mobs, and kept getting killed. The healer (who wasn't playing her role too well), let out some kind words for the group, and left the party. Well, we got another healer and DPS player, and cleared it out easily. We chatted with each other along the way, and complimented each other for how well the ran went.

In the end, you'll get a mixed bag of groups. You'll find abrasive idiots, players who aren't trying, etc. On the other hand, you'll find players who are really good at playing their class/role, and are willing to give advice if there's problems (see my hunter DPS) instead of just bashing you for it. Besides, the chances you'll see these players again are slim. If all you do is quest, try putting yourself in que for a random. It's an easy way to gain experience, learn your class and spec, and how to deal with group dynamics.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The People You Play With

When you play WoW, do you find yourself wondering about the people on your friends list? I have. I haven't seen most of them on in a while. These were players who I ran instances with, who supported my toon in said instances despite my lack of end-game knowledge playing the hunter class. We'd chat about things going on in RL, etc. Then you noticed they haven't logged on for a few days, then a few weeks... What happened to them? Did they decide to walk away from the game without telling anyone? Are they taking a break? Did something happen to them in real life?

Just one of many mysteries to ponder...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guild Thoughts

Before I started this World of Warcraft specific blog, I discussed my guild experiences on my main blog. Between my toons, I've been in several guilds. Most of them didn't work out. That can be due to a couple different reasons. Most of the guilds my toons were in were start-up guilds, with never more than 25 members. Due to lack of recruits to fill the ranks, most of them eventually disbanded. I've really only been in a couple good guilds during my time playing.

The reason I mention this is my dwarf paladin joined a guild a little over a week ago after being guildless for 14 levels and about a month. It was a start-up. I haven't been on that toon much the past week, but when I have logged on, I've been the only member on, and several members have left the guild. I find myself pondering if I should jump ship too. The fact is, I sort of enjoy the social elements of a guild, especially those with mature players. I'm not getting that in this guild. I may as well be guildless, only with a tag over my head so people don't spam me in Stormwind with guild invites.

I give the guild leaders credit on a couple things. First, one of them whispered me. I'd rather have it done that way instead of suddenly seeing "...has invited you to guild x". They also have a direction and focus on the guild - leveling. However, the guild officers don't seem to be on much, and as mentioned before, general guild activity is low. It wasn't too big of a surprise to me when I checked who was on last night, and realized the guild lost 6 members since the weekend. The intention and focus is there, but this seems like it's going to turn out like all the other small, start-up guilds I've been in before: folding up due to general inactivity.

The good news is, unlike my other toon leaving his guild, I haven't formed any in-game friendships with any of the members, so there's not as much of a guilt factor if I leave. Besides, there are other options out there, but I could very well end up making my pally guildless. I've gone through 44, soon to be 45 levels playing solo and pug'ing instances.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Regained Interest?

I may have mentioned my hunter toon, and how I've been neglecting him with the exception of farming mats and things to sell on AH to make money for my paladin. During last week, I decided to do the dailies to earn exaulted status with the Kul'uak (partially for the fishing pole). I ended up doing some quests that have been sitting in my quest log for the past few months, and other dailies. Meanwhile, Magphloin, the super dwarf paladin, hung around in Ironforge commons.

One reason I neglected the hunter was because of running instances using the LFG, and not being thick skinned enough to handle criticism of my DPS, or the general idiotic behavior I've encountered in these groups. I decided to try running him again, and did. I ran four heroic instances over the past weekend. Two with a coworker of mine who plays, and two with a couple of old guildmates. I figured it'd give me a chance to try out a different shot rotation, and earn Emblems of Triumph in the process so I can upgrade the gear.

The runs ran well. I had a purple bracer drop I won on, and was an upgrade to the piece I had before. In another run, a blue ring dropped, so I rolled need on it. Why? I provided more agility, which is a stat I overlooked while leveling, then gearing the hunter. As a result, my numbers when up, from about 1200 dps to 1400 - 1600. Sure, those numbers won't blow anyone out of the water running heroics, but for a toon still in blues and a green piece, it's not too bad I felt.

I felt motivation to log into Crazyd and get him back out there, instead of being put into the mule mole I put him in.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fast Levelling

My dwarf paladin is currently at level 43, getting close to 44. I've been playing the pally for less than two months, and add in the fact I still play my hunter toon, I feel I'm leveling quickly. I feel I'm losing part of the game experience by the fast leveling, which I have mixed feelings about. Many of the quests the pally can do have been done already by my hunter. Most of the quests have been done in the Eastern Kingdom continent. I usually grab as many quests as I can, complete them, and then are directed to another zone in the same continent. The opposite continent, Kalmidor, on the other hand, has only about 30 quests completed. My toon is questing in the Desolace area at the moment, basically skipping several zones in Kalmidor where it can quest because the quest levels are too low.

A big reason for the leveling is the new LFG dungeon finder. I put the pally in que, and after a bit of a wait, go into an instance with four random strangers. Running just one instance can move me up .5 to over 1 level a run depending on if my toon is rested or not going into it. I find I end up running two, sometimes three instance runs in a row. Partially because I enjoy running instances with this toon at the moment, and the fact that if you do a random, you get a goodie bag when you complete it with item upgrades (for the most part). Yep, I'm Pavlov's dog!

I know I can set the game so I don't gain XP. However, due to the fact my hunter has done most of the quests anyway, I don't feel too guilty about bypassing them. I'm considering, if I complete leveling the pally, on going back and going over what I missed. At this point in the game, I want to work on mastering my toon, something I didn't really do with the hunter.

WoW Quandry

I find myself in a bit of an quandary. This past Saturday, I was playing both my pally, and my hunter. Switching back and forth. I ran the pally through a few instances. I'd log out, and log into the hunter to run some dailies for gold, then to farm mats for the pally's professions. The weather outside was windy, rainy, and raw. Overall, it was a miserable day. A perfect day to play WoW. Or was it?

Things started out okay. I ran a couple instances with the pally, and ran them with a couple of good groups. Then I started talking to a player on my friends list who was in an old guild with the hunter. Another player from said former guild started up a new guild with her, and brought over several other players. I wanted to bring the hunter over, but the guild that toon is in has a couple of people I know in real life in it. If I left, they'd probably wonder what's going on. So I asked her about the pally. She said she'd like to have that toon in the guild, but being mostly 80s, they were planning on end game raiding. I felt a little bummed about that, but that's how things go.

Later that afternoon, my pally was in Stormwind, after running yet another instance, when another player offered me a guild invite, I accepted. Mainly because she whispered me, instead of of just sending out a random invite. After 14 levels of being guildless, the pally found a new guild. Granted, it was one of those small, start-up guilds; the kind that usually disband after a couple months, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Especially considering the guild message told us to "...and have fun =)" Isn't that the point of playing this game?

Needless to say, I found myself questioning if I should have the hunter leave the guild to join the new one my online friend is in, or stay with the current guild. I decided to stay in the current guild for now. However, I found myself thinking of online friends in WoW. Mainly due to the fact I'm realizing end-game content can separate online friendships. Player A may have a priority with raiding, or rep dailies with faction X. Player B instead opts to focus on profession achievements, or rep dailies with faction Y. The social elements at end game definitely have a different vibe to them than during the leveling process. While I feel somewhat connected to my game friends, I'm feeling that connection separate ever so slightly, and it will probably continue to do so as they focus on what their goals are, and I focus on mine.

After I logged off Saturday night, after playing who knows how many hours, and blowing off an invite for some drinks with my buddy at a bar where the local hotties hang out. I was disgusted with myself, asking why I'm concerned about my in-game friends when I have real life friends to tend to. Some of whom I haven't spoken with in months. I began to question my role in the game (not the toon). How could I pour so much time into building up those toons, while things in real life such as hobbies, and life in general, are being neglected? Hence the quandary.

When I reflect on the past weekend of playing, I realized I need to learn self-control. To know WoW's place in my life, and that other things should to precedence over it. I also came to accept that when it comes to on-line friends, they are not people I know in real life. As a result, I should accept the fact that they are paying their subscription fees to play how they want to, and I pay mine to play how I want to play. I can't be jealous because friend A is doing a 25 man ICC run, and I'm hanging out in Dalaran fishing. There's no excuse to blow a Saturday night out just so I can run multiple heroics for badges...

It's all about moderation, and putting things in context...