Archive for the PuG business Category

New in 5.0.4: the master looter can request rolls

Posted in Miscellanea, Patches, PuG business, Raiding with tags , , on September 5, 2012 by Aeliel

I noticed this feature in a raid last week, but held off on posting about it until I could collect some screenshots. This doesn’t seem to be in the 5.0.4 patch notes and not a lot of people have noticed it – which is a pity, because it’s quite useful! Hence the post.

(And yes, I’m sure it’s a feature that exists in the basic game rather than an addon feature. Hell, Ghostcrawler mentioned it in passing in a post.)

Let’s use Hydross the Unstable as a guinea pig, because he’s easy to kill (and also because he’s kind of a dick and insists on not dropping my warrior’s shoulders).

Say you kill a boss – whether in a PuG or in a guild run – and you have master looter on, because that’s what you do.

If you wanted people to roll for an item before the 5.0.4 patch, you’d have them /roll. This was open to potential cheating and trolling: people could just /roll multiple times until they got a high number or /roll 100-100 and hope the master looter didn’t notice, for instance.

Now, in addition to the usual “Assign Loot” option, you get a new one called “Request Roll”.

It does pretty much what it says on the tin. It pops up a roll window for everybody in the raid, including the master looter himself. The roll window is perfectly normal and has the usual need / greed / pass / disenchant buttons:

The rolls get automatically tallied in the new loot window, which will open if you don’t have it open already. The loot, however, does not get automatically assigned, so you can still make your own decision, discard a roll, discuss before assigning and so on.

This fixes all the issues that were present with manual rolls by removing the ability to spam roll multiple times, with different values, etc, making the feature quite handy for anybody dealing with a master looter plus rolls situation – especially PuGs.

There were – probably still are – addons to deal with the issues, but I always prefer having the functionality in the base game, since that guarantees it won’t break after a major patch. (Yes, bugs do happen, but if Blizzard break the default loot rolls then I’ll really lose all faith in humanity.)

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On bad design

Posted in Achievements, Miscellanea, PuG business with tags , , , on December 11, 2011 by Aeliel

I got all the Darkmoon Faire artifacts this month on my main – every single one. Because I’m an impatient completionist and achievement points call to me.

The PVP ones were pretty easy. Ran a couple of Alterac Valley, stopping to loot every single corpse, got two, got frustrated and realized it would probably be more efficient to just buy the third one on the AH. So that’s what I did.

Most of the dungeons ones were easy, too. Stockades coughed up Ornate Weapons quite easily, Scarlet Monastery was farmed for Imbued Crystals (Whitemane) and Mysterious Grimoires (Doan), and Gahz’rilla kindly dropped a Monstrous Egg. These are meant to drop from the new heroics, too, and I saw some – but it was just more efficient to grind old instances and not risk getting outrolled.

Getting Soothsayer’s Runes was a simple matter of building a trade-chat PuG for Magmaw 10 only, for the specific and sole purpose of getting them. One drops for each raid member, so no problem there.

The Treatise on Strategy was the problematic item, and it’s simply a matter of poor design.

I can understand the theory behind it. In the same way the Soothsayer’s Runes are “hey, let’s get people to run raids that aren’t Dragon Soul!”, the Treatise on Strategy is “hey, let’s get people to run heroics that aren’t the new ones!”.

It’s a lovely theory, and I salute the desire to give players reasons to run old content. The way this was implemented, however, leaves much to be desired.

The problem is this:

We didn’t really like having separate queues for each tier of Heroic 5-player dungeons. The random option should be all-inclusive. […] if you want to run any random Cataclysm Heroic dungeon, we want the system to choose from all of them. […] you’re probably getting the new ones more frequently because more players are queuing for them specifically. You’re being grouped with those people by the system so the wait times are as short as possible.

(source)

In other words, players want to run old heroics (because the Treatise on Strategy only drops from there) but, at the same time, are frustrated in their efforts to do so, since the dungeon finder will drop a well-geared character into the new heroics more often than not. Because of this, players end up having to queue specifically for the old heroics by selecting them all in the “specific dungeons” list – which means they’re unable to do each heroic more than once a day and they won’t get valor points from the run, just justice points.

The former consequence makes getting a Treatise frustrating – it only drops from one or two bosses in each instance, at a very low drop rate, and it’s quite likely that several people in the group will have a Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide and therefore be competition for the loot. The latter consequence will further frustrate players with well-geared characters, since justice points are essentially useless for them.

All this also further exacerbates the resentment between well-geared players and undergeared, under-performing or freshly 85 players. From a well-geared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“I’m carrying these scrubs, I’m doing three or four times their DPS, they stand in all the bad possible, and I’m not even getting any valor points out of this, never mind a Treatise. This sucks.”

Or possibly even this:

“I carried these scrubs, I did three or four times their DPS, they stood in all the bad possible, and now one of them actually rolled against me on the Treatise and won? This really sucks. Ungrateful little bastards.”

From an undergeared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“These guys come into dungeons they overgear, yell at me for being new, want to skip bosses I need loot from, boss me around and don’t even bother explaining how fights I’ve never seen work. This sucks.”

Nobody’s happy, everybody’s frustrated. Not a well thought out system at all.

I wish I could feel like it’s going to get better with subsequent arrivals of the Darkmoon Faire – after all, the Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide stays and the artifacts drop even when the Faire’s out of town – but I don’t see it happening. More people are going to queue up for the new heroics anyway if they want valor points (because they’re faster, they can potentially provide gear upgrades and valuable BoEs as well as valor points, and “they’re not filled with scrubs”), so queuing for a “Random Cataclysm Heroic” in the dungeon finder will still drop well-geared characters in the new heroics. So well-geared characters wanting a Treatise will have to queue specifically for each old heroic, leading to the same frustration all the time.

There’s no elegant solution, either, and no solution I can see Blizzard taking. One solution would be to take the three new heroics out of the random Cataclysm heroic list – but Blizzard has openly stated they don’t want to do that. Another solution would be to make the Treatise drop off at least one boss in all heroics, including the new ones… but that would defeat the original point of the Treatise.

But then again, that might be better. Well-geared and knowledgeable players and under-geared, new-to-85 players in the same heroic together is a recipe for disaster anyway. (See also: the drama when it looked like raiders would have to run heroics to cap valor points every week.)

On the first week of 4.3…

Posted in PuG business, Tanking with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by Aeliel

…the random raid finder gave to me…

Twelve people who dropped group immediately on joining
Eleven people who couldn’t manage to chain lightning to the next conductor over
Ten people who couldn’t be bothered stacking on red during Yor’sahj (and instead clamored for healing)
Nine “CR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111”
Eight people who stood in bad on every trash pull
Seven people in PVP gear
Six tier tokens of the wrong type
Five idiots who died to Hagara’s ice waves (one of whom released)
Four morons shouting wrong instructions during boss fights (“kill blue!” with purple up on Yor’sahj)
Three deaths on Yor’sahj (because the other tank couldn’t understand “taunt at 3 stacks” nor notice me spamming “TAUNT” in raid chat)
Two bosses already killed
and one death immediately after loading in.

Plus a ninja-pulled boss (Hagara), a rogue whining about not being allowed to pickpocket the quest item off Hagara in LFR difficulty, whining about how the loot system is unfair and everybody should be able to needroll on everything, three “healers” doing less healing than a shadowpriest…

It was kind of fun, though, even though my poor tankadin got nothing but a repair bill out of it. Might go in again this reset at some point – my main could use the extra chance at tier tokens, and I could queue as a DPS and still roll on everything I can use without the stress of tanking for it (especially considering as a feral druid I’m rolling against DPS classes anyway). And if I get the three new heroics to cough up enough upgrades for my other alts to hit 372 equipped ilvl without cheating, the alts could go too. We’ll see…

Troll heroics: first impressions

Posted in Achievements, PuG business, Strategy, Tanking with tags , , on April 29, 2011 by Aeliel

(Lacking screenshots of the actual boss fights – since I was too busy tanking to take any – the above will have to do. If you’ve done the lashtail hatchling quest chain in Northern Stranglethorn Vale, once you kill Mandokir you get your hatchling back. And she’s “Lashtail Hatchling <playername’aka>” rather than “<playername’s companion>”. Awwwww.)

I’ve spent the better part of an afternoon and evening tanking Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman. My first run was alone; all the rest were done with Alieth, my trusty pocket healer. Some of the difficulty of the instances was doubtlessly removed by the fact of having a healer with an average ilvl of 370 (some kills would’ve been wipes with a lesser-geared healer), but considering that a healer wearing full PVP gear could keep me up just fine on my lone run through ZA without Alieth, I don’t think the instances are that hard. We got all the new achievements without much trouble (with the exception of Spirit Twister – we gave it a couple of tries, but it was a late-night group, everybody was tired, so we eventually decided the hell with it and just killed the boss).

And, at least for now, I think they’re fun. I like Zul’Gurub better than Zul’Aman: without going too in-depth about it (I’ll probably be making a post detailing boss strategies at some point), Zul’Gurub got brand new mechanics for every fight, whereas Zul’Aman is exactly identical to how the raid used to be, with minor adjustments made to allow for the smaller group size and composition. It makes me think that ZA was just an afterthought – that they worked on ZG, with all the shiny new fights, and then when they got closer to releasing it they thought “hm, wait a second, we can’t just release one heroic, especially since Firelands is nowhere near ready yet, let’s rehash ZA for a 5man so we have a second heroic to release”. Ah well.

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

Posted in Healing, PuG business, Tanking with tags , , on April 7, 2011 by Aeliel

4.1 Preview – Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

Of all the godawful ideas. Good heavens.

I have two tanks (feral druid and prot paladin), one healer (disc priest), and two pure DPS (hunter and warlock) at the level cap. All of them are geared for heroics and running them pretty consistently, although I’ve found myself taking the DPS queue on my feral druid more often than not simply because it gives me the time to do dailies.

On the surface, rewarding tanks and healers for queuing with a goody bag containing gold, gems, flasks, mounts and pets is a good idea. (I’m certainly happy that I’ll be getting extra shinies for something I do anyway.) And yeah, more people will queue as tanks or healers, so it’ll help with the queue length.

But it won’t do anything to fix the real problem with the dungeon finder – the attitude of people running heroics.

Tanks have instant queue because there are so few of them. And there are so few of them because of the prevailing attitude towards tanks in the dungeon finder. Jinxed Thoughts has an excellent post on the scarcity of tanks and reasons for it, and I agree with it. I keep tanking in the dungeon finder because ultimately, I enjoy it, but if I didn’t enjoy it, not all the goody bags in the world would get me to do it.

This change might help keep tanks from dropping mid-run when their item doesn’t drop from a boss (at which point the run dissolves and the DPS are left staring at the screen and going “I sat in the queue for 45 minutes for this?”), but that’s really all it’ll do.

On the other hand, my absolute lack of any faith in humanity predicts we will see an increase in:

  • People queuing as tanks or healers when they don’t have the spec. The dungeon finder doesn’t check your spec. If your class can perform the role of a tank or of a healer, it’ll allow you to queue as that, no questions asked. People already do this to queue-hop, with no intention of performing the role they queued as – and then they try badgering the DPS who sat through a long queue because they wanted to DPS into healing or tanking instead of them. Now that there’s a goody bag as a reward, it’ll only get worse.
  • People queuing as tanks or healers when they don’t have the gear. As far as the dungeon finder is concerned, if you have the right ilvl you’re fine. This tends to lead to people trying to tank or heal in PVP gear, or wearing completely inappropriate gear (for example, a protection paladin trying to tank in mostly healing gear).
  • Disrespect and abuse towards DPS coming from tanks and healers. You know the type. “You guys are a dime a dozen, that’s why you have long queues, you should’ve rolled an useful character instead.” “DPS is easy.” “Oh just go ahead and drop if you don’t like it, it’ll take 30 seconds to get a replacement for you anyway.”
  • Disrespect and abuse towards tanks and healers coming from DPS. If you’ve ever tanked or healed, you also know the type. “Go go go go go go.” “lol we don’t need CC” “WTF healer why are you OOM all the time” “lol your [health / mana] sucks, you’re not geared for this GTFO” “we don’t need marks keep pulling” “HOLD THREAT BETTER STUPID TANK” “WTF WHY DID I DIE STUPID HEALER” and so on. The dungeon finder is a toxic environment in general.
  • People rolling on tanking and healing items against tanks and healers. “I’m trying to gear up my offspec so I can get shorter queues and the goody bags.” More often than not, these people then proceed to complain if a tank or healer rolls need on DPS items. Never mind that such behaviour only decreases the amount of tanks and healers queuing in the dungeon finder. (I enjoy tanking a lot, and I even enjoy healing on my priest, and yet nothing will make me drop a run and go play something else faster than people needrolling against me for their offspec without even asking. And never mind that “tanks and healers get shorter queues” has been the case since the dungeon finder was launched, and it’s incredibly easy to level 80-85 as a tank or healer entirely through the dungeon finder (there are crafted pieces to start you out, or you can just quest through Hyjal or Vashj’ir to gear up a bit) and be heroic-ready the moment you hit 85.

tl;dr – yeah, this change will probably succeed at its stated goal, which is to make DPS dungeon queues shorter. But it won’t make running heroics any more pleasant, and in fact, it’ll probably make it less pleasant instead.

A competent dungeon finder PuG for once

Posted in Achievements, Mounts and pets, PuG business with tags , , on March 17, 2011 by Aeliel

The Heroic Deadmines loading screen makes me cringe.

My priest has yet to complete that instance – her groups tend to dissolve somewhere after the second or third boss.

My hunter has completed it a bunch of times, but every time I go there I find myself using Feign Death pretty much every cooldown.

My main has had the most success with it, mostly due to being a tank. However, these days I tend to queue as DPS in the dungeon finder to get my daily valor points. (DPS is more relaxing, what can I say.)

Still, I hate that place, especially the gauntlet before the last boss. Very few groups navigate it properly; additionally, the mechanical nightmare gives me pretty absurd graphics lag, and good luck avoiding the spinning sparks when your game’s reduced to a slideshow.

Back in December, I had a pretty steady group going for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero – I tanked, Alieth healed, and a bunch of his guildies rotated in and out for DPS. Then he swapped guilds, and I was left missing only Vigorous VanCleef Vindicator for my drake.

Not an achievement you can get in a PuG, right? Even when I found myself in good H-DM PuGs, even with Alieth healing, and we said “let’s give it a go”, something inevitably went wrong. So I shelved the achievement, figuring I’d put together a group for it at some point.

Then today I loaded into H-DM for my daily valor points and found myself in the most amazingly competent dungeon finder PuG I have ever seen. Everybody was from different servers. The tank said he was “pretty new to Cataclysm tanking”, but he was the best tank I’ve seen in a long while; the other two DPS and the healer didn’t talk much (or in some cases, at all), just did their jobs perfectly. Everything went smoothly, everybody worked together. Still, I didn’t ask about doing VVV. I figured what was the point of getting my hopes up when it wasn’t going to happen?

I died in the mechanical nightmare as usual, but this time it didn’t matter, since I was the only one who did. We ended up with two full minutes to clear Ripsnarl’s nightmare, and pulled Vanessa with 30 seconds left on the achievement timer.

PuGs like that tend to restore my faith in humanity. I hope I run into those people again, and more like them.

(And now I don’t want to go run randoms on my priest, because I like having faith in humanity.)

Wishful thinking: Need Before Greed

Posted in Alts, Miscellanea, PuG business with tags on February 13, 2011 by Aeliel

(This post brought to you by 5-man PuGs.)

I wish two changes were made to the Need Before Greed system that is used for rolls in random 5-man dungeons:

  1. You can only needroll profession patterns (BoP or not) if you currently have that profession and you have the skill necessary to learn it. There could be a 10-point leeway (so for instance, you can needroll profession patterns that require up to 350 skill to learn if you’re currently at 340), to avoid people missing out if they’re not that far from being able to learn it.
  2. If you needroll a BoE item, it automatically becomes soulbound and may not be traded (or may only be traded to other group members who rolled need). This allows people who genuinely need the item to get it, but people who simply want to throw it at the AH won’t be able to unless they’ve won it on a greedroll. A warning pop-up (“Need-rolling this item will bind it to you”) should be implemented so people aren’t taken unawares by the change.

Hell, even just the latter would make me really happy. I’m sick of people needrolling BoE blues and epics – especially the world drops –  when they have better already, won’t equip it and obviously just want to sell it on the AH.