Tag: LFR

The Butcher says…

Everyone and his pup seems to have a view on raiding in WoW but what about the bosses themselves? They have to put up with group after group coming at them hurling all manner of spells and abilities and of course have to adjust their strategy based on the difficulty setting of the raid (I’m including LFR within this generic raid term here – I know – crazy old me). What do they think about it all? Is it working for them or is it back to the drawing board for Blizzard? I sat down with the Highmaul Butcher (as opposed to my High Street butcher – he hasn’t got a bloody clue about WoW raiding but can fillet a steak without an addon) and asked him for his thoughts on the subject.

Me: Ok I’ll cut straight to the chase – LFR, Normal, Heroic or Mythic?

Mythic every time my friend, every time. Normal and Heroic have their moments I’ll grant you that. But really if it’s not Mythic it’s not real raiding –  it’s just different degrees of derping. Or do I mean twerking? Which is the one where you wiggle like this? (Shows me – my eyes bleed.)

Me: I think that’s twerking … sort of. Can you stop now please.

Yes yes you’re right. Got to think of the old hips. Anyway I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the non-Mythic guys and gals – yes I said gals – I’m all politically correct now – Blizzard made me go on a course after I messaged Ms. Iron Reaver inviting her to pound a certain part of my … well anyway I was asked to go on a course. But in terms of the non-mythic raiders – while I do throw some tricky stuff at them, you know Cleave, Gushing Wounds that sort of thing (and when I’m really showboating I get into a sort of Frenzy that puts the fear of god in them),  the bottom line is it’s all watered down from Mythic. In Mythic I pull out all the stops. I even have the Night-Twisted Cadavers along for a bit of added spice. And what they can do with their Paleobombs – well even I get nervous when I see them approaching. For the other raids I do what the Powers That Be tell me. And that is,  “Put on a show Butch but don’t go crazy now. Some of these raiders are sensitive folk and we don’t want to lose them. At least not until Overwatch is out of Beta.” (Pauses) Umm no I mean … they didn’t say that …not at all … oh dear I’ve said to much. This is all off the record right?

Me: If by off the record you mean published on a blog read by few then yes totally. So what’s your strategy for LFR?

Alcohol. Lots of it. Me and the trash play a drinking game. One shot every time someone stands in bad stuff and dies – easy obviously. Two shots every time a DPSer accuses everyone else in the raid of being AFK.  We down the bottle when the raid descends into Lord of the Flies type madness and everyone eats a healer.  That’s the best bit. To be honest I’m paralytic in most LFRs.

Me: Do you think it’s all too easy?

Look you know the score. Its a bit of lighthearted fun. Honestly I don’t give a toss as long as they’re paying their subs and I collect my paycheck. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. It’s all about the money when you come down to it. They pay it and I take it. I’m not going to complain. But if I want a real challenge I go Mythic. No question.

Me: So not Normal or Heroic?

Well to be fair those groups try – they really do. Me and the boys call them The Tryers and we mean no disrespect by it. Earnest, sincere – I’ll give you that. Real nice people for the most part. Sometimes I join them on Mumble or Teamspeak  – they don’t know I’m there of course – and I listen to what they’re saying and god bless them, they’re really planning things out. Someone is told to do X and Y, someone else Z – and yes I know my alphabet – just the last three letters though- they’re the only ones you need. Anyway I just laugh because I know that nine times out of ten they are all going to get stage fright on the first attempt and start hurling god knows what in my direction. But they get there in the end. And then we all pose for a lovely screenshot. I have to play dead of course so you don’t ever see me smile but inside I’m beaming – I’m that proud of the little group.

Me: And mythic?

Hard core bad asses everyone of them. The fights really take it out of me to be honest but it’s great challenge and when I beat them the endorphin rush is second to none. We really work for it though – I don’t think that’s always appreciated. And I’m bummed that us Bosses are not getting the Moose in the next patch. I kinda thought that’s what Blizzard had in mind when the Moose was datamined – a little thank you to us Bosses. But no it’s another perk for the high end raiders. I can’t even buy it in the shop. And the thing is – well my first cuddly was a moose so I really wanted this mount  and (sob) and (more sobs) – oh let’s change the subject – I get upset just thinking about it.

Me: Ok so what about the future?

Well I’m looking to retire – I’ve made no secret of this. I’m getting too old for this raiding lark. And the writings on the wall- look I wrote it over there – “eSports is the future”. I wish I could get into Heroes I really do, but that wannabe from Diablo got my gig.  So I’ve got my eye on Hearthstone now. I’ve written god knows how many letters to the Powers That Be suggesting I become an 8 mana rare  – think Molten Giants but way cooler. In fact maybe your readers can help me out here? I know for a fact Blizzard base all their development decisions on the number of tweets they receive on a subject. So go on – let’s get  #ButcherForHearthstone trending. Do it for me. Please.

LFR – the Couch to 5K approach

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion about LFR and raiding (particularly since patch 6.2.3 was announced). The point is often made that LFR is not real raiding, it’s too easy with no mechanics worth talking about, people are in there just to get loot that they don’t really deserve (since it’s all too easy) and people in there don’t try at all/don’t need to try (in fact the little sausages are probably tabbed out watching Netflix). It’s also said that because it’s so watered down & easy it does not either (a)prepare anyone for proper raiding nor (b)encourage people to try out proper raiding. Therefore Blizzard have failed in all their intentions. Shame on you Blizzard.

I want to challenge some of these points. I admit that what I’m saying here is from my own personal perspective and my arguments will not apply to everyone. However, I suspect they will apply to more people than just me and I think it’s a perspective worth exploring.

First: the “too watered down/no real mechanics” argument:-

For me this doesn’t feel true. There are sufficient mechanics in LFR for my abilities.

For example -in Highmaul Kargath has a Chain Hurl ability that will move one tank, one healer & three DPS to the stands. If you don’t know about it & you are the one picked it’s going to be disconcerting to say the least (I’ve not experienced it yet but that kind of thing always throws me – literally in this case) and you need to know what to do (basically just kill things and survive!).  There is also his Berserker Rush ability which can do huge amount of damage if not tanked correctly (according to Wowhead in LFR Kargath should be tanked in, or near, an active Flame Pillar).

Similarly in Blast Furnace  Phase 1 there are Heat Regulators to destroy. While (according to Wowhead) in LFR only 5 bombs are needed to destroy each one you still need to know what to do with the button should it appear on your screen.

And finally Iron Reaver. The guide on Wowhead for the Normal level encounter provides paragraph after paragraph of information on dealing with mechanics that include Barrage (the advice is not to try and out range but instead run to the sides), Pounding (during which you should use raid cooldowns & move in close to the boss to avoid Immolation patches that are being pushed away) & Blitz (which you should avoid by watching Iron Reavers’s feet). In the LFR section it says, “There are no mechanical differences in the Looking For Raid difficulty of this fight. Players should still focus on survivability”. Helpful! So unless things have changed since Wowhead was last updated this means there are mechanics in the LFR version of Iron Reaver- indeed the same mechanics as in Normal, but without any of the proper raid team benefits of good communications and strategy (& I say this sadly as I died in the LFR Iron Reaver encounter- clearly mishandled Barrage, Pounding & Blitz and never noticed her feet).

I accept that Iron Reaver is not typical & that in most cases the mechanics in LFR are more like the first two examples –  nowhere near the level of the normal raiding. But nevertheless there are mechanics. There is stuff to avoid, disperse and use cooldowns on. It is not stand in one place & hurl your spells.  And these mechanics can feel more difficult to deal with because they are being dealt with by a group of random strangers.  Of course your LFR group could be filled with overgeared raiders who can pretty much blitz through everything. But these pros are not in every LFR & arguably while they might speed up each phase of a fight, you are still likely to experience most of the mechanics in each phase & and these – for me anyway – mean I must give the encounter my total attention. Even concentrating so hard I ground my teeth to dust I died in the Iron Reaver encounter and I’ve felt totally frazzled in the others. This may say more about my ability than LFR but I can’t be on my own here (surely –  please say there are others like me!). One reason LFR exists is so that people like me (with less ability than others) have a chance to experience some raid content at a level I/they can deal with. I would say LFR gives me that.

As a side note: this doesn’t mean other people are not coasting on the back of the more experienced/better geared raiders who are running LFR. This probably explains all the raging and arguing. The pros get angry with all the poor abilities/presumed lack of effort on show. They have done this at a harder level – why can’t the rest of us get it? Are we all AFK (no we are not – but some might be). But in any case none of this is specifically an LFR problem – it’s a people problem. People could choose not to coast & people could choose not to get angry. Everyone could choose to  give 100% effort and help/guide where they can. That people don’t is a sad indictment of people. But not necessarily a sad indictment of LFR.

2. Onto the gear argument – people run it just for gear & don’t put any effort in and don’t deserve the gear.  I’ve run Highmaul a number of times in one week just to get more experience with the encounters and to practice healing.  I know I might be atypical here (again) but surely I’m not the only one doing this. I want the practice. And while I know I’m healing LFR & not a Normal Raid, for me there are still numerous challenges – raid boxes to look at and understand, an addon to get used to, mouseovers to practice etc.  So LFR offers more benefits than mere loot  – LFR gives me a place to practice abilities I can’t practice when I quest alone. And while I know there are always 5 mans I don’t feel confident enough for them yet – one mess up on my part could cause a wipe & I’m not ready for that.

3. The final argument – LFR does not prepare anyone for raiding nor does it encourage anyone to raid.  Again for me having completed a few LFRs as a healer I am now curious enough to read up on the normal raid equivalents to find out how the mechanics differ. So eg I read about what you need to do if you are on the Chain Hurl team in the Kargath encounter and I consider what it might be like to be a healer on a Normal Raid dealing with this. If it was a team of like minded folk (i.e. nice, supportive & friendly) and there was time to plan out the approach, agree the strategy & also agree that heads can stay firmly on necks if there is  a wipe, would I be interested in trying? I find myself thinking yes maybe I would like to try this out.  I am interested. I might do it. So Blizzard perhaps chalk me up as a partial success (only partial mind – I still have to be brave enough to do it). Again LFR is (for me) working as intended.

Indeed the only bit of LFR that definitely isn’t working for me is the Tourist Mode idea – ie LFR as a way to let casuals see the end of the story. In LFR  I am normally concentrating so hard at what I’m doing that I do not take in any of the story & barely notice any part of my surroundings. And when there’s a cut scene I escape out of it so that I’m not left behind. I really do think that story completion should happen elsewhere. I take in far more of the story when I’m questing alone.

But back to LFR. Is it real raiding ? Umm no – not if you only class raiding as what you get in a Normal Plus raid.  But who cares? Is this not semantics? Would everyone feel better if it wasn’t called Looking for Raid but was instead something else – Looking for Fun perhaps (although that could be embarrassingly misconstrued!)? Perhaps Looking for Practice which would at least convey the idea that this could be approached as a form of training – not training for being in a raid team per se (since you’re not going to get the raid team communication/strategy side in LFR), but more a type of Proving Grounds for using skills/abilities within a larger group setting (I mean all those people on the screen – takes some getting used to) and  for dealing with mechanics that give a flavour or the type of thing you will get in a raid. LFR could be seen as a way to start flexing muscles that do not get flexed on solo quests or on 5 mans. Perhaps LFR is the raiding equivalent of a Couch to 5K running programme, with Normal Plus raids being the 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon equivalent. It could be said that LFR, like a good Couch to 5K running programme gets you out there doing something different and flexing muscles that haven’t been flexed before (or in years). But like training for a marathon, normal raiding is a whole different ballgame that demands a different level of commitment, dedication and focus.

In summary: I would argue that with the right frame of mind & intention LFR can be an experience that makes someone at least curious enough about proper raiding to think about what it would mean to join a proper raid team. I know this because it has happened to me. Would I be thinking about all this had I not tried LFR? No. And that for me is why LFR is worth doing and worth keeping. It’s got me off the couch.



Whack A Mole Healing

I decided to try doing some healing on my Druid now that I’m too scared to play Balance. Sometime ago I managed to get Proving Ground Silver in my Restoration spec & so I know I could go off & try to Florence Nightingale it up in a Heroics, but  I’m no fool – there’s no way I’m up to that. I need a safe and supportive atmosphere to practice my healing. Therefore I decided to venture into LFR….

Actually it was fine. You couldn’t say it was safe or supportive – no one actually spoke. But no speaking means no criticism or abuse,  no “Frip is the useless one” (yes last week still stings) and I didn’t feel quite as exposed as I’d feel in a 5 man (i.e. it would not be an immediate & catastrophic wipe if I fell off a cliff at the exact moment the tank pulled – this has happened to me in the past).

It did start off a bit shaky though. When I first entered I could only see a few people. There was this big Npc stood right in front of me begging me to click him of course, but I was too scared to approach him or click anything in case I did something wrong. But something didn’t seem right. The chat box said a mage had conjured refreshments but I couldn’t see anything (& I always like joining in with the refreshments). So eventually I plucked up the courage to approach the Npc & of course I was meant to do this all along because he is the guy that sends you to the arena where as it turns out everyone had already gathered to have a picnic.  Classic start!

But from then on it was fine. I was using the default UI raid frames in the middle/bottom of my screen – tanks separated out on the left, then the healer column, and then 4 dps columns. It all seemed straightforward. I life bloomed & rejuvenated like a master (or a deranged gardener – you choose). I suspect I overused Wild Growth, didn’t dispel as quickly as I should have & was overly keen on using Tranquility just to see a  sea of green numbers filling up my screen. Anyway I was so happy with the way the first wing had gone that I immediately queued for the next bit & by the end of yesterday I’d done it all. I think I must have missed the Brackenspore bit though. I didn’t see any friendly mushrooms throughout the run and the dungeon guide had said to heal them up to get some buff or another. I was a bit on edge in case I forgot to do this (my immediate reaction whe I see a mushroom is never to heal it I must say). But anyway I didn’t see any.

But actually seeing things in LFR is a bit of a problem for me. During the raid I’m so busy focusing on the all the green bars that I’m not really aware of anything else going on. When DBM tells me that some enemy spell is on such & such a person I first panic, then struggle in vain to find said person amongst all the names. I’ve now made the boxes a bit bigger & ticked the box to show dispellable buffs but not sure it will help. By the time I’ve found the person in need the crisis has passed and they’re either dead or best friends with another healer and I’m off the Christmas card list. Similarly as I’m so raid box focused I don’t actually know where anyone is standing. Therefore if I need to go  to someone I don’t know where they are. And if the tanks go out of range I end up just running crazily towards the boss in the hope that will help me get the tanks back in range. It usually works (although some LFR bosses now have a restraining order out on me) but I know this won’t always be the case. I’m sure there’s a way of configuring the default UI raid frames to give me more help here, or maybe I need to use Grid (just downloaded it from Curse as it happens) to make things clearer? I need something to help me understand better what’s going on & who needs what. Until I do that I’m basically standing where I hope it’s safe, staring unblinkingly at everyone’s green bars & banging out heals as quickly as possible. It’s like an intense whack a mole session – fun yes but very very bad for the eyes.


Milk of Human Kindness

WoW Insider’s Community Blog question this week is “What’s your end game?” This is a question I‘ve been asking myself this week. It doesn’t feel that straightforward to me. There is one easy answer – a description of what my end game currently is.  And there is another answer –  what I would like my end game to be. Two different things.

What my end game is: – Well I seem to be juggling a lot at the moment. Seashell my mage is on the “earn 3000 valor points” part of the Legendary Questline (the Black Prince now reveres me  – although deep down I suspect he reveres no one but himself). I understand that the delights of PvP & fighting masochistic Celestials awaits me on the rest of this questline.  It all feels rather overwhelming when I think too long about it …  one step at a time I guess.

As well as that I’m trying to get all the various cooking Ways done  (I have Grill & Pot so far). It’s slow going. I’m either out farming ever day until my little hands bleed or guiltily paying over the odds at the auction house.

Then there’s the Anglers,  Isle of Thunder & Timeless Isle stuff (I want the trinket). I’m leaving the other dailies for the moment. I just can’t do it all.  I’m trying to run a scenario a day with my husband & one random person. The random person normally leaves us to get on with it – sensing a domestic on the horizon. Which there sometimes is – particularly when hubby makes me run around getting in all the hozen brew while he plays with the cannon.

Ok so that’s what it is. Fun – yes, definitely. There is a variety of things to do. I’ve never enjoyed an end game as much as this one. While I’m still levelling some alts I actually find I miss being on Seashell, which is unusual for me once I’m at the level cap. But is it the end game I want? No – not exactly. I like the variety of things I’m doing  & I enjoy teaming up with hubby. But there’s still an issue – and that issue is LFR.

I want to do LFR at end game. And I want to enjoy it. I am never going to be a “proper” raider.  But I do like LFR level raiding. I like it a lot. Or at least I like it a lot when it goes well. And by well I don’t mean no mistakes and no wipes. No – I recognise that these are an important part of the game, part of the challenge, part of the learning curve. No – by going well I mean when the people are nice, friendly & tolerant. Or if incapable of that then at least neutrally silent. But unfortunately I see neither of these things in LFR. I usually see  impatience, intolerance  &  abuse. And this is an unwelcome part of my WoW end game & is turning me away from something I should be enjoying.

There are some truly awful people in LFR. The things they say are extremely offensive.  Their attitude towards other people is quite appalling. The abuse stuns me. I have never spoken to anyone the way they speak to other people in the raid.  The bottom line seems to be that no one can make mistakes. No one can learn. Apparently because some of these raids have been out for a long time everyone should know exactly what they are doing. The fact that in every single LFR there are people who are there for the first time  completely escapes them. I notice some of these “first timers” now announcing their inexperience as they enter the raid. “First time here”  they confess  – the unspoken part of  this is often a plea I think- something along the lines of,  “Show some patience please. Explain the fight. Don’t be mean.” But of course there is rarely patience, rarely explanations and nearly always meanness.

It seems that even if it is your first time in a raid you are expected to know everything, to have read all the strats & to have remembered every single boss mechanic. You are expected to have good reactions & spatial awareness (lo betide anyone who gets themselves in a bit of a state when the screen is an explosion of numbers & colours). You should have watched the videos,  committed it all to memory & you should know exactly what you need to do in every situation. And yet of course for many people it’s not that easy.  Many people do not learn by reading and/or watching. They have to do something to understand it.  And yes that might mean making mistakes. In fact it often means making mistakes. Like falling down the hole when the platform disappears. Yes that can  happen. I’ve seen it happen lots of times in LFR. And it happened to me the first time (when my addon said the floor was dropping away I thought it meant the main floor so ran ONTO the platform!). But you know what? It’s never happened again. This is because I, & most people, try to learn from mistakes. After all it’s a fairly important part of life. So when someone has messed up  in LFR next time they usually remember the mechanic that caused the death, fall, shame etc. and are more aware to ensure it doesn’t happen again. They learn to move  quicker, target the adds, run from the wall, distinguish between platform and floor. That’s how it works.

Except of course in LFR it doesn’t – not because people don’t learn, but because many are so horrified by the level of abuse they see that they leave & never come back. And this means that something that might have been an enjoyable part of their end game is cut off from them. And that shouldn’t be the case.

I have no answers to this. I see my end game being constrained by my apprehension about LFR. I’m yet to try SoO – I have heard that the mechanics are complex & while I’m happy to have a go, fail, learn & have another go, I suspect there will be plenty in LFR unwilling to give me the chance to do so.

So I stay away. I run scenarios with husband & do my dailies. But it’s not what I actually want my end game to be – not fully anyway. I want my end game to include at least some degree of raiding, albeit the watered down, raiding for non raiders that is LFR. But I can’t easily have that – at least not in a non-stressful, pleasant way. And I find that frustrating.

I can talk (sort of)

I was a guest on Sunday on the Girls gone Wow podcast. Girls Gone WoW

They were all so lovely- Sil, EJay, Raven & Rob – but I was so so nervous. My stress levels about the show had been building up for weeks & I think it’s fair to say I pretty much wrote off the weekend worrying about it – terrified that I’d forget how to speak and babble incoherently. And gratz to me – I pretty much did all of that! Who knew saying altholic could be so hard  or that I would start rambling so quickly – on question one I think. In  the end I even mispronounced Bravetank! Class act. But I got through it despite being so nervous and I’m happy about that. And thanks again to the team for having me on & making me feel so welcome – even though I did criticise Tauren females, rogues & pandas. WWF have marked my card.

Other news – did some raiding last week – the first with the guild in DS (final Deathwing fight – unfortunately we were not successful. I think my dps was half to blame – Deathwing at one point rolled on his back and begged me to tickle him some more) and the  next day in  LFR after deciding to be a conscientious guildee and  do some work on my gear. Everything is currently 397 apart from robes (384), leggings (378), one ring at 378, one trinket at 390 & a staff at 390. So I do indeed have some work to do.

LFR was as you’d expect. No scratch that. Something really weird happened. When we landed to fight the coloured blobs I landed right on top of a blob and died instantly. Everyone seemed to do the same  – apart from the tank who initially seemed to be ok, then went afk and was then slowly battered to death by one insistent blob.  Only those who waited until we’d wiped before flying down were ok. Once we were all ressed the tank came back & said “Let’s hope Seashell doesn’t pull again”. I couldn’t believe it. I had landed on a blob & died immediately. Others did the same. It couldn’t have been my fault could it? I said as much in raid chat & the tank said “ofc ;)” . I didn’t say anything after that. I was too busy  fretting that I had indeed landed wrong somehow – although I have no idea how you can. However, the tank was a nightmare so maybe he/she was just trying to stir things up & randomly selected me as the fall guy? He was criticised for not  have righteous fury on, he didn’t tank  some blobs properly etc. but he just kept lolling and criticising the healers. Great fun as you can imagine. And then he left- mid fight. So at least my critic had no real credibility- but still I worried.

And that gets on to my main point today. Why did I  care what those 24 people thought about me? I froze when he said “Let’s hope Seashell doesn’t pull again’. I felt so exposed & singled out, and the injustice of it all made it worse somehow. I just wanted everyone to know it wasn’t me (unless you think it was…in which case please let me know how so I never do it again!)

As anyone who has read this for awhile knows – I live in fear of criticism.  I had my first session with a coach yesterday to start work on some of this as I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I am scared of the opinion of 24 people I don’t know from Adam (and terrified of what Adam thinks!). I am scared of criticism in work. I read every single comment on my blog with my heart in my mouth in case it’s negative. And I won’t even listen to the interview I recorded on Sunday. Someone once told me that I have a certain vulnerability  – I think it was being said as a positive, but it’s only positive to the person saying it when they see themselves as the great protector. It then makes them feel good about themselves. For awhile. Which is nice for them but what about me- the vulnerable one – the one picked up, played with and then thrown back down. I feel like the woman in Hellraiser with all her tendons & nerves on the outside of her body –  I need to stuff them back in (they’re causing a mess on the couch for one thing). But my coach says I can’t even start doing that until I acknowledge how it makes me feel. Until I feel the feelings. He said I translate my feeling into thoughts (& here into words I guess) instead of really feeling them, acknowledging them & then perhaps letting them go. But how do you do that- how do you feel without thinking? I really don’t know if I ever have.

My coach also said I need to start exploring who I am and own my “I”. He said I have to start talking about what I feel, what I think, what I want to do and say. I found that very powerful because I know I live my life through the eyes of the Other. When I look at my face I see myself with the eyes of people I think would judge me harshly. When I hear myself speak I listen to myself with the ears of those who, I think, regard me with disdain. My mental audience is a negative one – they really don’t like how I look, what I do or what I say. Not dinner guests I’d really want, but it seems they’re already in the house & won’t leave. And they define me.

And I have no ownership of my I on WoW either. There all the power is in the groups or the raid – everyone that  knows more than me. So I think I’ll study more & learn more (about the tactics for e.g.) to become stronger. And  in work I vow to work harder than everyone else, to become more knowledgeable than everyone else, and get my power that way. And after looking in the mirror I rub on the creams and go to the gym to do the exercises in order to fend off the critical eye that’s always watching and judging my appearance. Nothing wrong with any of that if I was doing it for my I, but I’m not – I’m doing these things in the absence of an I and in the presence of an over powering critical Other.  I have given all my power to those that I think define, measure and judge me & find me wanting. I’m doing these things to please the them. That’s the story of my life.

How do you escape this? If you take on the fear and do the thing that risks the criticism and find it does indeed come (as they say just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean everyone’s not out to get me) what then? How do  own my I in my response to it? Is it by knowing that ultimately I  cannot be touched by anything anyone says or thinks? My I is  mine – maybe the only thing in this world that’s truly my own. But that’s a thought in words again, not a feeling. I need to feel it – and I don’t know how.

My coach said this journey  will be hard and challenging but I have promised him and myself that I will commit to it 100%. And I will. Because I don’t like feeling sick with fear. I don’t like my little band of  critical strangers (some wear the faces of people I once thought of as friends)  mentally following me everywhere. And I don’t like thinking so little off myself that a sarcastic word from a stranger can throw me in a tailspin. And WoW of course is full of these sarcastic words and critical strangers. For some people they see themselves as performing a public service by being this way  – shaming you into being a better tank, dps or healer, or failing that forcing you to give up the game for good. And I know some people have given up and walked away. But why should  we give them that power? What on earth have they done to earn it? Maybe I should think of WoW as my exposure therapy- I write because of it & so expose myself to feedback; I’ve now been interviewed because of it & found the courage somehow to let my voice be heard; and of course in game I often find myself playing with the mean kids. Sticks and stones and all that. Maybe this game can change me. Certainly  slowly my voice is being heard. Literally last  Sunday. Now if only I could  learn to pronounce altholic correctly!

The LFR enigma

I did my first LFR today after finally getting my armor up to the required level. I’ve been struggling for ages to find a good trinket. Apart from Anhuur’s Hymnal nothing has dropped for me in the Cataclysm heroics. I refuse to pay gold (that I haven’t got anyway) on the Darkmoon Volcano Card (even though I know the minute I get over 6K I will!) And I was beat up too many times in Tol Barad yesterday to even entertain the notion of  getting Mirror of Broken Images. So up until today I was still using (don’t laugh) Maghia’s Misguided Quill! It was totally bringing my level average down (you’re bringing me down maaaaan) and I thought I was doomed to be at level 368 for ever. But today came salvation! I came across Soul Casket on a website & found out that the guy who stands in front of Magatha actually sells it (for some reason I’d not  looked at what he was selling   – yes I’m an idiot). So I replaced my quill with a casket (ahhh the fate of all writers), rose  above 372 & finally finally got to queue in LFR.

I wish I hadn’t bothered. In fact I wish I’d not bothered getting to 85 to try this stuff out. I  wish I was still an innocent Level 1 in Northshire Abbey having fun killing kobolds. But even that had it’s moments (I’m still terrified of anyone from the Defias school of thought). Perhaps what I really wish is that I never actually started playing this game – because at least then I’d still have my  belief that most people (mass murderers aside – and they always skew the averages) are inherently good, kind and helpful, as opposed to my now  certain knowledge  that too many people are arrogant, egotistical & intolerant – and often very delusional about their own abilities.

The LFR group  I chose was Fall of Deathwing. Before going in I read some very brief strats on WoW Insider & it seemed ok.  I ended up joining  just before Warmaster Blackhorn. That fight was pretty straightforward. Crucially there was no abuse, no deaths and I was middlish with my dps – all seemed well.

The next bit was Spine of Deathwing. Here is where it started to go wrong. At one point during the fight someone yelled STOP DPS. I immediately stopped casting and waited to hear what to do next. Nothing. Then another STOP DPS FOR GOD’S SAKE. Ok I wasn’t casting but clearly others were still attacking, but in any case just yelling “Stop”  without saying anything else is not particularly helpful. YOU NOOBS was next (obviously – what else?). Then ” WHEN I HAD TO WAIT 15 MINS FOR A BUFF I KNEW THIS WOULD BE BAD” from some other poor hard-done  by soul (15 mins for a buff- bless- what is the world coming too?).

This all annoyed me. Firstly yes buffing is an obvious thing to do & we should all do it (I do it compulsively – even casting focus magic on an enhancement shaman once) but try not to read too much into a missing buff. Moreover, you’re in LFR! People going in LFR are usually – I think – people who aren’t part of a raiding guild, are  trying to gear up,  are often going in a raid for the first time etc. If you’re expecting perfect knowledge of all the  strategies you’re in the wrong place. Also if you’re going to tell people what to do then tell them properly not just half formed  statements. It is not helpful. I read  on WoW Insider that basically what the person meant to say was, “You must kill 9 corrupted bloods near an amalgamation to cause him to explode (don’t kill the big add before he transforms), loosening the plate.”

Why couldn’t someone have said something like that – in shorthand obviously!? Actually the time they took to type the criticism  could have been better spent doing that (actually I’d rather they’d have just logged off and gone  in the corner to reflect on what  an  obnoxious person they’d become – preferably with a bit of face punching- but you can’t have everything ).

Anyway we got through that bit finally. The next part was horrendous. We wiped twice at the very end. As far as I can see people were dpsing the tentacle and  turning to the adds when they came in, then turning back etc, and doing the same pattern on each of the platforms.  The only thing no one did was attack the bolt before it exploded but that useful instruction was not in the strategy I read & no one thought to mention it in the raid until after the 2nd wipe. In the end I and several other dps were booted for being at the low end of the dps table. Only the 2nd time in my WoW history I’ve ever been booted 😦

I just don’t know what people expect from LFR. I know it’s annoying when people don’t listen – but say something it’s worth listening to then.  Telling people to “Sell the game” is uncalled for. In an LFR group everyone is  85 and has an ilevel over 372. They may not be brilliant or expert but they have clearly devoted a not inconsiderable amount of time to the game. They  can  play- if not they’d still be running around in circles in Teldrassil wondering why they’ve not levelled after killing 1000 blades of grass or something. But they might not know how to play in a raid. That is the  part of the game they are now learning. It’s all part of the learning curve. So rather than abusing why not try helping?

And who are these pros in LFR anyway? Why are they in LFR? They’re like an older teenager kept back in junior school for failing exams and then delusionally throwing their weight around the smaller pupils and claiming intellectual superiority because they know their Two times table. If they were any good wouldn’t they be doing a normal or heroic raid? Are they only in LFR because they like to be the big fish in a small pond because that’s easier and because they can’t actually hack it when it gets too tough?

Yes dreadful generalisations I know but I’m annoyed and when I’m annoyed I’m mean spirited. I’m sure people are in LFR for all sorts of reasons – but what I saw today indicates that  being kind to others, supporting newcomers to the world of raiding, is rarely one of them. For many  they just want another opportunity to deride, ridicule and criticise, and to confirm to themselves that all people – apart from themselves of course – are basically crap and don’t deserve to breathe the same (virtual) air as they do.

LFR then is the place the  arrogant come to bolster further their delusional self esteem. If only it was the place people came to help and support. As in the real world people find it easier to adopt a world weary cynicism than to actually be a force for good in the world – and the world (both real & Azeroth) is much the poorer for it.