Monthly Archives: January 2012

Keybinds – Guest Post from Vuuk

Greetings everyone. I am Vuuk from <Immortalis> on EU-The Sha’tar, author of Mana Cake Musings, a mage-oriented site (although I post about my other 85s as well). I’ve commented on Tiny WoW Guild before, and my latest comment sort of sparked this guestpost.

I wanted to help out Shoryl with some tips on how to get started with keybindings. She suggested a guestpost instead, so .. here we go!

Step one: stop keyboard turning

In the classic WoW setup, A and D are used to turn left and right, respectively. Your character slowly turns to face said particular direction.
I would like you to re-bind these keys to strafe left and right. Strafing is the concept of moving in a direction, while still facing forward.

Strafing is what allows me, as a tank, to completely turn a boss away from the raid without moving him an inch from where he’s standing.
Strafing is what everyone in PvP uses to run circles around you.
Strafing is what allows frost mages to spam Ice Lance on you while running away from you.

Once you have re-bound your spells, go find some mob to dance around a bit and melee them. Ideally a big mob.
When you select a mob, you see their selection circle on the ground. Try to strafe along this line and turning the mob in place.

You will need to use your mouse to keep facing the mob, and either W or D depending on whether you are running clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Step two: getting used to finger-twitching

Now that you’ve got running down, you notice you’ll be able to use your mouse less to click abilities. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
We’ll start off really easy. Pick two of your most often used abilities, preferably instant-cast ones, and bind them to Q and E.
In my mages setup, I picked Blink and Fire Blast.

As you’ll notice, these two keys are right next to your movement keys. It only requires a short twitch of your index or ring finger to access them.
They’re easy to find without looking at them. This makes them a good choice to start off practicing with keybinding, and they’re useful for binding abilities you want to use on the run.

This allows me to do a flip in the air and blink “through” someone chasing me on my mage, or to Death Strike a mob while strafing away to pick up another one somewhere.

Step three: core abilities

So you’ve gotten the hang of using those two abilities on Q and E, but you’re still clicking the others. Why, exactly? There’s so much more you can reach!
In my case, my ringfinger can reach ` and 1, my middle finger can reach 2 and 3, and my index can hit 3 and 4 reliably, without moving the others too much.
5 is a bit further, so don’t bother with that just yet.

You should bind important abilities in your rotation here. In my Arcane spec, I have Arcane Blast on 1, Arcane Missiles on 2, Arcane Barrage on 3, and Arcane Explosion on 4.
Take your time to get used to these before you move on.

Step four: branching out

As you get more comfortable with hitting keybinds without looking at them, you’ll be able to “find” more and more keys on your keyboard like that. For me, I slowly moved away from
the movement keys and now have these keybinds, basicly (although I use an Azerty keyboard layout so some keys are switched around a bit compared to this picture):

Don’t bind all these keys at once, just take it easy and do one ability at a time, until you feel you’re comfortably and reliably hitting that keybind. It’s not as easy as you might think.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the hang of it right away. I can’t tell you how much I’ve died trying to hit F to Ice Block and hitting G or so instead, but now that my finger ‘knows’ where it
needs to look for that F, I can tell you I Iceblock a lot quicker than when I used to click.

You’ll notice I have one key with an alt modifier too: if I hit W, which is just above my left alt button, I get an Ice Barrier. Alt-W is Mana shield.
On my rogue, I went another step further and used alt modifiers for most of my abilities on 1 through 5 as well (mostly grouping up some finishers like Rupture and Expose Armor, Kidney Shot and Slice ‘n Dice).

One last note …

I must admit I occassionally click some things, still. A lot of the abilities on my number bar past the number 6 I cannot reach without letting go of my movement keys.
I’ve made some pretty dumb (or epic, depending on the point of view … shifting out of bearform while tanking Azgalor on my druid instead of using LW drums comes to mind) keybinding mistakes before, and so for raiding I often click crucial abilities like Time Warp.
It’s not a PvP ability that has to go off THIS INSTANT, and I’m standing still a lot more in PvE anyway so I might as well hit the keybind with my toe and it still wouldn’t make a difference.

Shoryl’s take so far…

Simply put, it’s actually hard to get used to. I’ve been playing the game for 6 years, and habits die hard. I initially started trying to do step one while working on getting elders. I thought: Lots of travel, lots of movement, this will be good.  I ran places, staying on the roads, trying to follow various terrain details to practice my strafing and turning abilities. (The idea of running around in circles around a big target is a good one… except that I get motion sick with lots of that type of movement, so it doesn’t work for me) That was cool, but the minute I got into real combat, I was trying to use the old methods. I went back to my old methods for the couple of dungeons I did, but I’m planning my night tonight as another practice night, while questing, where if I die, it’s only on me, not on a group. Hopefully I can get used to it enough to be confident taking it into dungeons tomorrow. 

The Surprise Quiet Times

Everyone expects there to be less play time during the holiday season; and in some ways, Higher Authority was no exception.  Several Dwarven Dungeon Crawl runs were cancelled (They’re level 43!) and the 85s runs were also a bit hit or miss, especially with the holidays actually landing on Sundays.  But, that looks a lot like raiding schedules during the same time period.  But sometimes, you get quiet periods you just don’t expect.

Since the holidays, we’ve had one 85s run (and we didn’t even work on Heroics, due to some technical problems). Our dwarf mage hasn’t made the last three DDC runs. He’s been (apparently) very busy with work, and not logging on as much. One of the members who plays the most works second shift, so we only really see him on weekends. (though to be fair, that’s been going on for a while). Our 5th 85, not a regular guild member because he’s got a raiding toon on another server, just had a new baby and is playing less. Sona is playing less, pursuing other hobbies. She’s reached two of her most significant ingame goals, and as these things go, she’s having a lull in her desire to play while she decides what she wants to pursue next. I don’t push that, because it’s not how I roll – I want people to play because it’s fun, and my partner is absolutely no exception to that.

Our newest member hasn’t been on in quite a while. I don’t know if he’s lost interest in his shaman, gone back to other toons, or what; but since we’re a pretty strong ‘do your own thing’ sort of guild, it’s hard to encourage people to stick around who don’t have a vested interest in the other players already.

All that boils down to not much really going on in the guild. Our two other regular members are playing more, which is wonderful to see; though they tease me that at the rate I’m levelling Gurdrid, I’m going to beat them to 85.   I’m leveling my second paladin, and as a result both Shoryl and Kerridwen are languishing. I may switch my “solo” (as in not my official duoing Shoryl) achievement hound to Gurdrid. It’ll certainly be easier to pick up dungeon achievements on a tank, and since I’m much more versed with the global pally buttons, it’s a lot easier for me to be proficient than I am with Kerridwen.

Progress on guild achievements has also slowed a bit. We’ve picked up the guild Scarlet Monestary achievement on the dwarves, and rolled Mighty Miners over the halfway point – mostly working on getting Gurdrid’s blacksmithing up. Classy only needs a warlock. I’ve got a wee one started, but I’ve been spending my time on the pallies. There’s one in the early 60s, but the player doesn’t care for Outland, so she’ll lag a bit until we can get a spark going. I’ve helped here and there, and will probably invite her along on all my rep runs when I start those on Gurdrid.

I’ve also been paying less attention to my WoW feed; so I haven’t been getting any sparks for blog posts.   But Higher Authority will truck along as it always has, and I’ll quietly lead by example. Playing how I want to play, encouraging people to have ideas and run various instances.

So Higher Authority is seeing a January lull while a lot of other guilds are seeing a last-patch lull. The difference for us is that it probably won’t last until Mists. At least, I can hope.

Thoughts on Tanking while Levelling

Gurdrid is a prot paladin.  As I mentioned in my previous post about her, I’m loving the nearly non-existent downtime of playing prot.   The instant queues for dungeons are really nice, too.  But.  Actual tanking gear in Outland is almost nonexistant. Somewhere along the line it was decided that all Defense was going to be turned into Agility, so there’s all this quest gear with strength, stamina, and agility on it. Little to no dodge or parry to be found.  It would have been nice if Blizzard had changed the itemization with the realization that agility is useless on plate. (Well, I don’t actually know that – is it useful to DKs?) 

Anyway, I’m level 64 and I’ve done one instance. I’m only about 2/3 of the way through Zangarmarsh. (And I went to Hellfire prior to dinging 60).  Leveling through Hellfire was hella-fast. I know part of it is that I know the quests very well. I have two toons with the Loremaster title, and 6 toons past Hellfire. I’ve done those quests a *lot*.  I have to say I like the soloability of some of the quests that I struggled with on Kerridwen, even over level.   I know that that’s at least in part because of the recent nerfing, but due to the nature of questing these days, I think it was necessary to allow new players to see that content.  

But, back to the comments about tanking. As I mentioned, I’ve only done one instance in BC; and it went pretty well. I got slave pens, which isn’t one of my favorites (I’m not actually sure what my favorite BC dungeons are… hm.) The DK had a little trouble keeping his aggro in check. I forgot to check and see if he had blood presence up or not.  But he was good natured, and never once took aggro on a boss. Not once.   We had a bad pull at one point, where we were about halfway through killing a group, and two pats came and joined the fight.  My healer was awesome through that, and everyone waited 2-3 seconds for me to get an aggro lead before they started blowing AoE.  My health dipped enough for me to drop Word of Glory only once in that mess.

All of that said, though, I’ve learned several things I need to work on:

  •  I need to work on pace. I tend to rush and take my time at turns. I think it’s because when I rush I feel like I’m going to miss something important; and when I take my time people get antsy. 
  • I need to work on dealing with mobs outside my AoE influence. I need my longer-range buttons more accessible.
  • I need to work on marking targets – short story, I need a macro so I can mark on the fly.

I’m sure there are more. I’m sure I could be a much more effective tank, more aware of my surroundings, trying not to put my DPS in the ick behind the boss. Keeping my healer safe. Sona makes these things look easy.  I know they’re not; and I know it takes practice, but I feel clumsy right now.

And OMG, do you level *fast* now. Level 64. In less than 3 days played. With mining and blacksmithing in the target area.  I plan to quest through the rest of Zangarmarsh and then Nagrand; and then I’ll use LFD to finish out getting to level 68 (if I even need it.)  I’m contemplating trying to solo the Ring of Blood. That should be interesting.

So, for those of you who are my fine readers, do you have any suggestions for how I might go about trying to work on my instancing abilities?  This toon is probably going to get most of my not-guild-group love in that regard.

Site Change

If you paid any attention to my site the last couple of days, you may have noticed that my blog roll disappeared. That’s because I really wanted to give some very good bloggers some nice solid mentions (and let their own words describe them in some cases). And, well, I read way more blogs than I probably ought to.

So, I needed more space. So I made a page. You can click on the link on the top right that says Blog Roll under pages, or, you know, click the Blog Roll link I put right there for your convenience. Either way. Go look. Especially if you’re a blogger, go look. I don’t want to misrepresent anyone!  

Note, however, that the list is not yet complete. I’ve been using my reader feed as an excuse to go visit blogs since I started migrating – so if you’re a blogger I follow, and just haven’t posted anything in the last, oh, three days, then don’t fret. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that I want to give you a nice statement, and I can’t peruse all of the sites I want to to be able to do so all in one go.

Later on, I’m going to be moving the WoW Tools to the same page as well, so that I have one handy place for all of my own personal linking needs. Cuz I’m sneaky like that. Besides, then the places I go for research will hopefully get some love from the rest of you.

2011 in Review

Mia mentioned another blog in one of her blog posts, and since Mia makes good use of her mention karma, I had to go take a peek at this blog I hadn’t heard of. Anexxia had a great little list of retrospective questions, so I thought I’d take my own stab at it.

In the spirit of making this more appropriate for a blog about tiny guilds in WoW, I’m going to don my Guild Leader hat, and answer (most of) the questions from that perspective.
What were you most excited about in the past year?
Guild Achievements. Watching only a handful of people get together and really pull through on achievements like Critter Kill Squad and That’s a Lot of Travel Time just really feels good, and it also gets to the heart of what makes us tick as a tiny guild. That’s a Lot of Travel Time especially shows off our guild culture, due to the sheer amount of questing we do. We are all altaholics, and that achievement, in particular, really shows it.  The 14 level 85 toons are spread across 7 accounts. Three of those seven accounts only have one toon at level 85.

What was the best thing you bought?
They didn’t cost much, but I got several prairie dogs for the winners of a contest we had early on.  Every single person who won one of the prairie dogs was thrilled, which made me feel very good about them. The best part was the people who hadn’t been paying attention, and therefore had no idea they’d even won something!  (For you Hordeys out there, imagine being given a Snowshoe Rabbit for fishing. No, really. That’s why they got it.)

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More people using the guild bank! I might joke, but it frequently feels like people put stuff in but never take anything out. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for taking things out of the guild bank to level my alts, but I figure if I can’t lead by example…  and if you don’t believe me, I dedicated an entire post to it.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
That’s a Lot of Travel Time. That was accomplished by only a handful of toons in 10 months. That’s a lot of questing per capita. The lion’s share, I’m sure, going to our resident rogue who not only leveled three toons to max, but also got several toons to level 60 during that time.

What was your biggest failure?
One of the huge advantages of a tiny guild, particularly a casually oriented one, is that I don’t have to fess up to any failures unless I told the guild what I was up to.  But to be completely and honestly retrospective, I think that my biggest failure was not being able to figure out a way to get some actual, honest recruitment out there. I’m an introvert, and I think most of my guild are also introverts – that doesn’t make recruiting particularly easy, even if we can blame some of it on the current recruitment climate.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about whether my guild mates enjoy being in my guild. I’m pretty sure that they’d leave if they weren’t happy; but I still worry.

What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2011 that you’d never done before?
This one is really tough to answer from a guild leader perspective. Since the guild is pretty settled in terms of what we do and how we do it, there’s not a lot of “new”. I guess, therefore, I’d have to say arrange a guild event around guild achievements. This is different than just arranging a guild event. For starters, with a multi-level guild, there is the challenge of finding something compelling for the max level toons but still viable for the low-level toons. Then, there’s finding a day when your players can actually choose to commit. Due to the nature of my guild, that meant guessing, and then hoping (and using as many different methods of getting the word out as possible!)

What was your favorite new place that you visited?
Again, there weren’t very many of those, particularly from a guild perspective. I think I’d have to say Serpentshrine Cavern. it’s prettier than Black Temple (the other place we went that was completely new for me) and we were much more successful completing the instance.

What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?
That’s a really tough one. The one I visit the most is WoW Insider, but I don’t read it as much as I used to. I go there mostly for news and tin-foil hat goodness.
Cymre’s blog Bubbles of Mischief is very inspiring for me to pursue things in game outside the level > gear up > run dungeons PvE mentality.  She also takes gorgeous screenshots of all kinds of things, and inspires me to take more.
Chronicles of Mia seems to be inspirational to me as a blogger. She either picks up great ideas from other people (like this one, or comes up with great ones of her own.) Either way, she has inspired more than one post.
Alto, on the purported Worst WoW Blog Ever, inspires me to dabble in the AH, giving sound advice on auction PvP, or even just making some gold (if only I would take it for more than a week at a time).
Ratters at Need More Rage cracks me up immensely with his wonderful butchering of the English language. And he has some good things to say and fun topics.

Picking a favorite out of those? I just can’t. Each one fits a different niche in my reading needs. Consider them categories: Newsworthy, Gaming Inspiration, Blogging Inspiration, Advice, and the all important Humor.

Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2011.
This one was definitely hard-won, and I still sometimes struggle with it. But, here it is: Even if you are close friends (or even family) and even if you have the same general ideas for how you want a guild to run; it does not mean that they want to be in a guild run by you. And that doesn’t mean that they like you any less. 
I have several in-game friends who have created toons in the guild, but primarily play on other servers. Most of those toons are rather disused. I suspect because, like me, they tend to play on their main server most of the time, and don’t switch servers very often. They still chat with me via RealID, so I know they still care about me, but that doesn’t mean they want to play on my server, or possibly in my guild; and that’s really ok.
Also, when our former guild leader (and an extended member of my family) came back to WoW, he opted to create a new character, which is not in our guild, rather than come back to his old, max-level character in the guild. Again – it’s not a reflection on me (or more importantly his daughter) as a person, but probably a reflection on play differences.

Tanking for a Tiny Guild

This is a guest post from Sonaira, Higher Authority’s resident tank.  She also writes a blog about making connections and finding your inner super hero.

Tanking for a tiny WoW guild is a unique experience that doesn’t translate well into the main-raiding-tank oeuvre, which is why I’ve largely stopped reading sites like Maintankadin, regardless of how helpful they can be in theory.

 But that’s the thing. There isn’t a lot of theory in being the tank for a tiny guild

 Know your group…

For one thing, I know who I will run with, every week.  There will always be a prot paladin tanking. There will always be a holy paladin healing. We’re not exclusive – it’s just that Higher Authority has exactly one level 85 tank, and one level 85 healer.  The other three active members of the guild will bring a ret paladin, a rogue, and a hunter. 

 Fights don’t work as well with that dynamic? Too bad – that’s what we’ve got to work with.  Oh, sure, the DPS crew might change it up some: Shoryl might bring a feral druid instead of a ret pally (still melee DPS), or our hunter might bring his ‘lock instead (still ranged DPS).  So when fight strategies say “this would really be easier with less melee and more ranged,” I just shake my head and realize that I’m going to have two melee and one ranged, and I better figure out how to make it work.

 And after running with them, I know them. I know my rogue is AoE specced, and I need to carefully mark my targets or he’ll die. I know my ret paladin isn’t very comfortable CCing, so I give that task to my hunter. I know my healer is limited in movement, and that I need to stay in range.

Know your tank…

Of course, this means that my group knows me, too.  My healer knows when I spike, where I’m likely to go during movement fights, and which mechanics I struggle with.  He has a decent idea of when I’m going to hit my cooldowns, and in which order.  He knows that if I hear an “oh, crap,” come through quietly on Skype, then I’m going to be ready to hit my own Lay on Hands.

 And my DPS knows what I’m going to ask of them. My hunter frequently traps a target before I mark it, and I’ll often get ready to pull and have an ice trapped and sapped targets already. Shoryl will hit repentance on a humanoid before it ever gets to me, because she knows the distance I like to pull at.

Know your fights…

We’re not only a tiny guild, we’re also a laid-back one.  As such, we all have our favorites.  Shoryl loves to play ret.  Our rogue loves to … rogue. I know they all know their classes, but I’m the one that’s responsible for learning the fights. 

 I have no idea how long a raid leader pours over raid accounts and video, and I don’t really want to.  What I can say is that when we start a new 5-man, I take it just as seriously. When the time came to do heroics, I put in about 4 hours learning Deadmines.  That information has to be given out to the other four members of my team, in a way they understand.  Because I know my group and they know me, I can say things like “so, we’re supposed to stay out of the frost and fire runes for this fight. We’ll see how that goes.”  I don’t tell them how to do it, I just tell them what we need.

Get your reward!

I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is not a single member of my guild that I would hesitate to run with. There is not a single member of my guild I have on ignore.  And when I have a miserable night tanking, I’m in a safe enough environment to say “that was a ridiculously bad pull on my part, and you all saved my ass.”  Because we’re all going to be running around on our alts, or leveling our professions, or chasing achievements all week.  And then, come Sunday, we’re all going to be standing there together, trying to make it work again.  It’s a camaraderie you rarely find in larger guilds, but it’s what makes ours work.