Raider Time Sinks: Dailies, Cooking, Fishing and More

I’ve been wanting to post this for a few days, now, but felt I really should post now after having read Anafielle’s excellent post, Mists of Farm-daria.

Let’s be super-clear about this: I am no longer a raider. As such, I have a lot of latitude in being able to do what I want to do. But I’m in a raiding guild and I read blogs by raiders and follow many raiders on Twitter. The biggest concern I keep seeing, over and over again, is how much time people are spending doing all the non-raid stuff they feel they “should” do as a responsible raider.

At Level 90, I gather that there are a few dailies a raider “needs” to do for rep with various factions. Here’s what those factions give you:

– Golden Lotus: Tailors and LWs particularly due to the patterns available at honored, plus VP rings at honored. At Revered, Shoulders and Chests become available with VP.

– Klaxxi: Blacksmiths get their plans here at honored. There are also VP necks here at honored. VP legs and belts are available at Revered. Exalted has some blue-quality (ilvl 463) weapons available.

– Shado-Pan: VP cloaks at honored, VP trinkets and helms at Revered.

– August Celestials: Enchanting patterns at Revered, as well as VP boots, gloves and bracers.

Of course, “needing” to do the dailies is a very subjective term. From my perspective, a raider should probably maximize his or her gear in order to perform better in raids. As such, since VP gear is available from ALL of those factions (and I’m not even talking about how you had to earn rep with factions for JUSTICE point gear until recently!), raiders should likely rep up to at least revered with most of these factions.

I feel that a raider should maximize his or her gear within reason. (And bear in mind that my thoughts no longer necessarily reflect the mindset of Apotheosis!) That means I feel that you shouldn’t need to drop 200k on a heroic drop at the Black Market Auction House. It means you shouldn’t need to craft something worth 60k (possible exception for the Darkmoon Faire trinkets).

At the same time, it means that I feel one needs to do LFR weekly for upgrades, rep up for upgrades, cap VP for upgrades.

Not everyone will agree with me. Raiders who fall on the more casual side of things than Apotheosis will think I’m insane. Raiders who fall on the more hardcore side of things than Apotheosis will be more likely to say “of course, duh, PLUS you need to get those BMAH items AND craft all the things”.

The fact remains that in order to improve your performance in a raid, your gear needs to be upgraded. How you do it and how dedicated you are to doing it is all that’s in question.

That brings us to cooking.

In brief, fuck cooking.

I say that as someone who has ALWAYS had at least one max-level cook. In Cataclysm, I had 3 max-level cooks. I own three Chef’s Hats. In short, I enjoy cooking.

Whoever decided to fuck with cooking in this expansion needs a smack upside the head.

Don’t get me wrong, the farm thing is cute. I like being able to grow things. My problems with cooking are not problems with farming, although they are tangentially related. No, my problems with cooking consist primarily of the fact that it takes an incredible amount of materials to max yourself in one single Way of cooking and that unless you max all the Ways, you can’t drop a 275 stat food feast. Plus, 275 stat food feasts aren’t even as good as the 300 stat foods that are single-use! What the eff happened here?

If we look at my personal feelings about gear, doesn’t that mean I think everyone should use personal 300 stat foods? Sure. Until you look at what’s REQUIRED for 300 stat food. Say I want to make the 300 Agility food for Kurn. That’s Sea Mist Rice Noodles.

Ingredients for 5:

– 1 Rice Flour (Ironpaw Token)
– 25 Scallions (farm or 1 Ironpaw Token for 25)
– 5 Tiger Gourami (fishing or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)
– 5 Raw Turtle Meat (farming mobs or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)

At minimum, for a stack (20) of 300 stat food, you’re looking at 4 Ironpaw Tokens, 4 days of farming on a farm that is at least 5 plots, finding 4-5 Tiger Gourami schools and fishing them, possibly two, then killing some turtles for the meat. Or spending 16 Ironpaw Tokens for all the mats. Or mixing and matching and supplementing with the Auction House.

Imagine a typical progression raid guild can wipe 30 times in a single night. You now want at least 30 foods. Add another 2 tokens, minimum, up to another 8. For a single night of raiding.

I’m pretty sure many people will agree with me when I say “fuck THAT right in the ear”.

There are different swaps to be made, of course, something about Bundles of Groceries and trades with Spirits of Harmony and the like, but that’s still pretty rough, particularly the farming of mobs and the fishing up of fish.

Now, I happen to enjoy fishing. Prior to Mists’ launch, I had ALL the fishing achievements. I like it. But a lot of people don’t. And a lot of people may feel pressed into fishing to get that “best food”. Plus, the fact that there are SO MANY ingredients means that the AH is not a great source. There may be hundreds of carrots up, but not hundreds of Tiger Gouramis. Which leads back to tokens or farming/fishing yourself.

Now multiply that by 10 or 25, depending on your raid size. Gah.

So in terms of effort vs. gain, having the guild bank handle banquets is probably your best bet. After all, it’s “only” 25 stats. But, and I don’t know about you, it would drive me crazy not to have the 300 stat food on me. (Have I mentioned I’m glad I’m not raiding? No? I AM VERY GLAD TO NOT BE RAIDING.)

Say you want the 300 stat food and want to rep up with, oh, everything. That is a stupid amount of time investment. Plus, you still may run dungeons and LFR in addition to raiding…

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been doing Golden Lotus dailies, Tiller dailies and Anglers dailies on Kurn. I’m a hunter. Pure DPS. It still takes me ~90 minutes to do all my dailies and tend to my farm. And I’m not even doing Klaxxi dailies because, well, ew, gross. Add in another 20-30 minutes for Klaxxi, then another 20-30 minutes for other factions as they become available and you are looking at 90 minutes to 2 hours for a not-particularly-geared DPS to earn rep EVERY DAY in order to get better gear. God forbid you’re a healer.

Then there’s flasks. Gone are cauldrons entirely. And each flask requires a Golden Lotus. Do you know I haven’t ever PICKED a Golden Lotus on my herbalist? Haven’t seen any. As such, the most reliable method of getting a Golden Lotus is trading in a Spirit of Harmony for three of the herbs. Whee, that’s one night of flasks in my guild, but hey, that doesn’t even include the herbs. Thankfully, the other herbs are only 4 of a single type, in conjunction with the Golden Lotus, so it’s no longer 8 of 2 separate herbs, it’s just 4 of one herb. Feel bad for the Strength users who pay out the wazoo for Fool’s Cap, but anyhow.

This seems as though it’s overkill. In their effort to give more, diverse things for people to do, Blizzard has only succeeded in making a lot of the things “mandatory” for many of the raiders in their game. When, then, do raiders have the time to do Challenge dungeons? Scenarios? Hunt down those rares? Level alts?

Blizzard has, in my opinion, screwed up and needs to rectify certain things ASAP:

– Banquets should be 300 stat food (450 stam for tanks)
– Cauldrons should be re-integrated into the game at a similar cost as last expansion: 3 of each flask (int/str/agi/stam) (I still think we’ll outgrow Spirit flasks, so I don’t think that’s necessary to include in the Cauldrons)
– Cooking should not be quite as brutal in terms of materials required
– Dailies should NOT be taking 90 minutes every single day

And, as was pointed out on Twitter by Rades and Vosskah, why the reversion back to a DAILY heroic dungeon for VP instead of just capping at 7 heroic dungeons a week?

Blizzard has done a lot of things right this expansion (I love a LOT of little things) but these “wrong” things are things that would drive me to quit if I weren’t already planning to do so.

Invisible Mode: Too Little, Too Late (for me)

It was announced today that Blizzard will be implementing an “Appear Offline” mode (aka Invisible Mode) to BattleNet “in the coming months”.

Let me be clear, this is a great thing and is long overdue.

However…

The RealID/BattleTag chat system is still clunky, clumsy and inelegant and “Appear Offline” is going to add to the clunkiness of it all, not remove the clunkiness.

It is a great thing that people will be able to go invisible, don’t get me wrong. I’ve very excited for everyone who will make use of it. However, rather than look at the system in a critical way, I feel as though Blizzard is using “Appear Offline” as a band-aid to the underlying problems inherent in the system.

With the information we’ve been given (which is, to be blunt, not a lot), it can be understood that people will be able to be seen as “offline” with this option, to RealID/BattleNet/character friends.

To begin, here are some of the immediate questions that came to mind concerning how this will work in World of Warcraft:

1) Will you have this option before logging in to a character? As it stands, you have to log in to WoW first (thus becoming “visible”) before you can edit your BattleNet settings.

2) Will the Appear Offline mode persist through different logins? Say I log in to Kurn and I set myself as offline. If I log out as Kurn and log back in (on Kurn or any other character, for that matter), will the mode persist in the same way announcements do?

3) What implications are there for guild listings? I presume I’ll still show up as online in my guild, which I think is fine — that’s part of the deal when you join a guild, really. But what if someone on my realm (with whom I am character friends) does /who Apotheosis and sees Kurnmogh online? Would they see me? Would they not see me? How would that work? Could they still whisper me?

Now, while you’re all chewing on that, let me re-iterate a point I’ve made in my previous RealID-related posts:

– Social interaction between people is complex. The ongoing lack of any kind of personalized contact system for one’s RealID/BattleTag friends is antiquated. We are firmly in the era of social media and social networks. If Blizzard is intent on creating/using their own social networking system, they need to recognize that social interactions and relationships are extremely complex in nature and one-size-fits-all does not, in fact, fit the needs of most communities. Is it better than nothing? Maybe. But it can be a LOT better.

So how is it clunky? How is it antiquated? Aside from the points I’ve brought up (versus other solutions) in my other posts, let’s look at BattleTags. BattleTags are also “always on”, just the way RealID is and, worse, you have to have one if you want to play Diablo III. So I have a BattleTag, because I played D3 for approximately eight minutes. (Okay, level 50 or something.) And it’s always on, despite the fact that I have RealID turned off. I don’t share that information with anyone, but the fact remains that BattleTags are something we are forced to use (as in we are automatically logged in) in other games if we’ve played Diablo III. Really? How is that okay? And there’s no off switch, either. There’s an enable Real ID option, but nothing about enabling or disabling BattleTags. Why not? Let me turn off being able to communicate with me via BattleTag in a game that doesn’t currently require BattleTag use. Especially if I’ve already turned off RealID. (Follow-up question, why require BattleTags for D3 in the first place?) What if I wanted to chat with people in D3 but not in WoW? Why not be able to have an option to turn on BattleTags for each individual Blizzard game, rather than just opt us in without a choice?

Do you see how it’s inelegant? It could be so much better. It should have been so much better. And I would have been its staunchest supporter.

As it stands, the RealID/BattleTag system is, in my opinion, deeply flawed in a variety of ways. The “Appear Offline” option is definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s not the panacea for the system. At best, it’s a quick-fix solution for a system that is invasive, persistent and not even as smart as a system that was built in 1996, namely ICQ.

16 years after ICQ, this is the best Blizzard has to offer?

Too little, Blizzard. Far too little for your customers and way too late for me.

An End and a Beginning

Months ago, I came to the conclusion I would not be raiding in Mists of Pandaria. In fact, I may not even be playing after my Annual Pass paid subscription runs out. As such, it was important to me to make sure to give my officers the heads up and ensure replacements would be found for the vacant positions. Once replacements were found for me, it also became important to have a timeline of the changeover of power.

September 18th, two weeks after our last raid, one week ahead of Mists of Pandaria, seemed like a good date to give GM to Jasyla, who was the chosen replacement for me as GM. It also seemed like a good date to demote Majik to Member from Officer.

So as of this writing, I am no longer the guild master of Apotheosis.

It’s a weird thing.

When we started Apotheosis in 2007, Majik was the GM to begin, but that was quickly given to Toga after a vote. It was in January of 2008 that Toga had to step down from raiding and so I became the GM.

In March of 2009, I gave GM to Majik. We had lost too many raiders in late BC/early Wrath to continue, so Maj held on to GM for a while and I headed to Bronzebeard on my pally and to Proudmoore on my hunter.

It wasn’t long before Majik chose to let his subscription lapse so my level five hunter, whom I was using primarily to save the name Kurnmogh on Eldre’Thalas, became GM of Apotheosis again. The guild still existed and people were still in it, but most had stopped playing or had moved on. There was very little GMing to do, really.

In September of 2010, I brought Kurn back from Proudmoore and regained GM on that character. And Apotheosis 2.0 was born.

Two years later, for the first time since Majik briefly was GM in 2009, someone else is the GM of Apotheosis.

It’s weird, in a way, how people choose to identify themselves. For 14 months, I was Kurn, GM of Apotheosis. Then, I was Kurn of Kurn’s Corner, while I was simultaneously Madrana of Bronzebeard, Proudmoore and Skywall. Then back to Kurn, GM of Apotheosis.

Now what?

Being Kurn has been a huge part of my identity for over three years of my life. I have ALWAYS been an officer of the guild, since June 1, 2007.

That is a long time.

Soon, not only will I no longer be the GM, but I won’t be an officer. I won’t be raiding. I might not even be playing.

It’s a very odd thing to be saying goodbye to these identities I’ve constructed over the years. Officer. GM. Raid leader. Healing lead. Raider. Player.

It’s happening at a time in my life when I’ve finally finished university, too, so at the same time, I’m also shedding the identity of student, which is actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Change abounds. Adventures await. And while my adventures in the World of Warcraft have been unforgettable and awesome, occasionally annoying and disappointing, but ultimately rewarding, it’ll be good to explore the new adventures that await me without being tied to my email, the forums, the game, the raid times.

It’s a good change. The guild is in good hands.

None of that makes things any easier, though. How do you stop a seven year habit? How do you stop identifying yourself as what you’ve been for the last several years? How do you say goodbye to those who followed you on your various adventures?

For me, I guess the answer is to find something else about which I’m passionate and create a new identity, perhaps one relating to finding a full-time job or actually finding the time to have a relationship.

As to saying goodbye, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say something as final as “goodbye” to my guildies. I will always keep up to date with Apotheosis happenings, boss kills, server firsts and the like. But as time goes by, it will certainly be from the sidelines and it will definitely be from the perspective of having helped to create the guild that is now kicking ass, kind of like how I imagine a parent looks at their child as the child grows into a fine, upstanding young adult.

Once again, I am honoured and humbled to have played any kind of role in the history of Apotheosis. The guild has been my baby for the last two years and though it’s difficult to give it up, I know they will be in good hands and I know they will kick some serious ass going forward. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is really what any GM wants their guild to be able to do without them at the helm. Mission accomplished. :)

It’s Tuesday night, let’s do this raid!

It’s Tuesday night, let’s do this raid!

Or not.

It took me a long time to realize that Tuesdays were the “Mondays” of the World of Warcraft week. Everything reset on Tuesdays (barring raids with a 3-day reset, like old-school ZG and AQ20). Thus, it was when a lot of people went in to do their raids. Once it sunk in, though, it really sunk in. I spent all of BC raiding on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and, later, we added Mondays. I spent chunks of Wrath raiding on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, then my schedules shifted, but I’m pretty sure I kept raiding on Tuesdays for the majority of that expansion, with just Choice not raiding on Tuesdays.

And then, back to Apotheosis and our Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday grind. Although we haven’t needed to raid on Thursday or Sunday in months (the Thursday after 5.0.4 excepted), we’ve continued to raid on Tuesdays, doing full 8/8 HM clears in Dragon Soul.

So, here it is. Tuesday night. 8:17pm.

And I don’t have a raid.

In the last 21 months, I have missed two scheduled Tuesday night raids, both due to exams. We have rarely cancelled Tuesday raids, maybe just a couple over the Christmas holidays.

Basically, I don’t even know what to do with myself.

The guild has ceased raiding for now, but will go right back to the grind on October 9th. And I won’t be part of it. I’m not even going to be in town for the launch of Mists of Pandaria, I’m going to be in Italy with one of my best friends. It’s a sort of graduation present from my parents for having, finally, finished my university degree.

But it’s Tuesday.

And I’m not raiding.

I think that, more than anything else, has really hammered home to me that my time as a serious raider, as a serious player, is over. Last night, I almost sent Serrath a PM, asking him if he was going to do tonight’s roster or if I should do it. I stopped myself midway through my first sentence.

Today, I feel as though I’m forgetting something. All day long, my brain has been nagging me to do SOMETHING. Like, to look over our logs or prep for tonight. Anything.

While there are a couple of final tasks I do have to do, that’s not the buzzing in my brain.

Nope. The buzzing in my brain is like, “Kurn, it’s Tuesday. You’re supposed to RAID on Tuesday.” It’s this thing I have done for so long, so regularly, for so many years, that my brain actually cannot grasp the idea that “no, you don’t raid tonight”. Perhaps more accurately, it cannot grasp the idea that “no, you don’t raid tonight… or again.”

Going to Italy will be great for me. It’ll be a wonderful trip. And because it’ll happen right during the launch of Mists of Pandaria, I will be completely distracted and unavailable to deal with WoW. Hopefully, that’ll do a lot to break the habits that are entirely ingrained in me at this point. Hell, last time I was in Italy, in 2006, I WENT TO A ZG RAID. I am not even kidding. And we got Mar’li down (guild first!), too.

So it’ll be good for me to get away, particularly on the dates I’m going, to help me not get all caught up in expansion fever. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll remind me that there are so many other things to enjoy on Tuesday nights.

Raiding in 5.0.4

Apotheosis raids on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Lately, we’ve been clearing in about 2.5 hours, at most, on Tuesday nights. I stopped putting signups up for Sunday AGES ago and stopped putting up signups for Thursdays weeks ago.

This week, I knew there would be issues, so I put up signups for both Tuesday AND Thursday.

As such, Tuesday’s raid, post-5.0.4, was probably one of the longest three hours of the entire expansion, to be honest.

– UI issues
– Addon problems
– Connection issues
– Latency/frame rate issues
– Mechanic issues

All of these plagued us in one form or another.

Yet, we actually got through Spine. YAY!

Morchok was okay.

Yor’sahj was okay.

Zon’ozz was craptastic, issues with soaking.

Hagara was fine.

Ultraxion was craptastic, until everyone made sure their DBM was working so that they could appropriately hit Heroic Will when they had Fading Light.

Blackhorn was okay.

Spine was okay, even though someone fat-fingered Heroism randomly early on and even though we had a different tank configuration.

Madness was rough — issues with impales and then P2 bloods.

But I feel good about walking in there, pwning 7 bosses and leaving just one left with another 3 hours scheduled this week.

The most hilarious thing of the night quickly turned sour when we wiped on Madness and were ported to the top of Wyrmrest, then had to take the portal back DOWN to the bottom of Wyrmrest, then had to take a portal to the Skyfire, then a portal to the Maelstrom. I mean, really? Portal boss, hello! We got REAL tired of that.

I don’t have a lot to say about being a holy paladin during 5.0.4 yet, but I’m sure I’ll post soon. I really am loving Clemency and Eternal Flame, though. After running a couple of fights in the back half of LFR, I also removed my 3×67 int gems and put in 3×67 spirit gems and switched to Heartsong. I still felt the crunch here and there, particularly on H Spine and H Madness.

I expect a lot of things to fix themselves in the next couple of days, though, so I’ll post more comprehensively later on.

Overall, a long, but successful raid night for Apotheosis. Still seeking various classes for Mists of Pandaria, so check us out!

A Dramatic Day Without Red Haterade

On Tuesday, August 21st, I participated in my third-to-last Apotheosis raid. I went to bed satisfied with the raid, happy with my guild and certain that the guild is well on the way to a wonderful future in Mists of Pandaria, even without me there. It’s gratifying to be at this stage of the expansion, with most of the “i”s dotted and most of the “t”s crossed. Plans are in place, officers are promoted and, soon, I’ll be a fond memory (or a tedious one, if people remember my speechifying and my lengthy forum posts).

I woke up on Wednesday to find the most dramatic thing to do with my guild in the last two years had been discovered while I had been asleep. I woke up to private messages from outraged guildies, to the officer forums exploding, to the general forum exploding, to tweets and DMs…

“Holy shit, who died?” was my first thought.

As it turns out, no one died and the drama was not related to any current raiding member of the guild. There was no issue with loot, no problems with our plans for the expansion, not a peep about our officers, new or old. So what caused this reaction?

For that, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to have to tell you a story. This story is somewhat lengthy and I am not feeling as kind as Jasyla was feeling when she wrote her post, so I’m going to name names.

Once upon a time, we had a kick-ass raider with us by the name of Huntertoga. Yes, he played a hunter. ;) Toga was an officer and a great guy and a great player. Unfortunately, Toga decided to step down. He was tired of the game, burnt out and gave us a ton of notice. So we went recruiting.

We got an application from someone by the name of Innersight, whose name changed to Innerbite, but everyone called him “Inner” and most (all?) of his alts’ names started with “Inner”. Inner was a good app, if a little undergeared, but his performance was pretty great. He had a couple of problems fitting in to the guild on a social level during his trial, so I wrote to him and asked him to tone it down and he did. He was promoted to Raider on February 23rd, 2012, after participating in the guild-first kills of Heroic Yor’sahj and Heroic Zon’ozz.

Inner was a very good player. He took on some of the crappy jobs that others either couldn’t or wouldn’t do, such as focusing the mana void on H Yor’sahj or making sure to break badly-timed grips on Heroic Spine. He made mistakes, just like anyone does, but for the most part, Inner was a solid player that you could count on.

Possibly the first indication that there was a problem with Inner (after his trial period) was when Diablo III came out. He was clearly tabbed out of WoW, playing Diablo III, during raids. I didn’t care if you tabbed out to play if you were on the bench, but not while you were in the raid group. I wrote to him about it, post-raid, and he blamed his inattention on his daughter (despite the fact that we could HEAR D3 fighting noises through Mumble!) and the like. Anyhow.

The next possible indication of “trouble” was that Inner was not remotely compromising about the fact he wanted to play a monk healer in the expansion. It looked as though Apotheosis might have too many healers on the roster at the start of Mists, so I wrote to the DPS who were looking to swap to healers with a private message that included this:

“If there aren’t enough healer slots to accomodate your swapping from DPS to healing, what would you play at that point?”

His response was firm:

“Because I am as set as I am to go back to healing I guess I would go on a bench/waiting list or find another place to raid…=/”

Due to my own plans to leave the raiding scene and the fact we’ll be losing another healer, we dropped this line of discussion because it would be fine if Inner were a healer in terms of group composition.

The next time I had some kind of concern about Inner came shortly after I announced my decision to step down from GM and RL, when we put out a call to the guild to see who might be interested in being an officer. Inner was one of the people who expressed interest. He expressed interest in being the raid leader and if that didn’t work, maybe the new healing lead (assuming Jasyla wouldn’t be retaining that position) and potentially lootmaster, though bank admin would be out for him, due to a lack of organization he felt he could bring to the position.

We thanked him for his interest (as we had with everyone who approached us) and we retired to the officer forums to discuss who we thought would make the strongest leadership team. That leadership team did not include Inner as an officer.

I again had concerns about Inner shortly after we announced the new officers, when Inner let me know that he needed to step down from raiding due to his new job which required a 2+ hour commute. He then changed his mind and said that he could be available for the first half of the raid (from 9pm-10:30pm or so) until he planned to move in early September, then should have full availability again. The officers discussed it and we accepted that, so long as he kept us up to date on the move and such. So Inner continued raiding with us, leaving around 10:30 or 11pm, since we were down to 1-night clears.

The next moment that included concerns about Inner came on Tuesday, July 31st, when Inner received the Heroic Vial of Shadows and was now 100% “best-in-slot”. I’m always a little uneasy whenever anyone gets their “best-in-slot” pieces completed because a lot of people’s motivation comes from loot. Still, nothing really happened at this point, but Inner was definitely excited about no longer needing anything from Heroic Dragon Soul.

The next time I had concerns, though, came a week later. Inner was now suddenly interested in running a GDKP run on Eldre’Thalas. He wanted permission to use the guild name/etc and basically have the support of the guild. We said sure and he sent me a really, really long document he’d written with rules/etc, but it read more like a pitch to our guild to participate, rather than rules of conduct for a GDKP run. I was concerned because I thought that Inner would start up this idea and then bail when he had no more interest in it, leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths about our guild. Still, I was going to edit this document and give him advice/etc about how to organize it, but had a lot of time due to the fact that it would only be happening way after Mists of Pandaria had launched.

Finally, on Tuesday, August 14th, Inner had signed up for that night’s raid, but was a no-show. What we call a no-show is someone who signs up as “Accepted” on the guild calendar event for the raid, but then doesn’t show up at all, without letting us know via forums, PMs, twitter, email, text, etc. I kind of figured he was done (BiS and all, you know?) but I wrote to him anyhow:

“Hi Inner,

You missed the raid tonight, Tuesday, August 14th. Serrath had let me know that you had told him in Mumble that you would be available tonight, yet you never logged on, from what I saw.

You were last on the forums today at 5:10pm ET, which would have been plenty of time to let us know you were unable to make it. There were no PMs sent, nor any emails or anything of the sort that I am currently aware of (as of 12:15am ET on Wednesday).

While emergencies do happen, and I hope nothing of that nature has happened, it really needs to be underlined that we need to hear from you as soon as you know you can’t make it. While we certainly had enough people to sit virtually anyone we wanted, not showing up is not acceptable, as people are relying on you, a raider-ranked member of the team, to adhere to your commitments towards the team.

I’ve CCed Serrath (incoming raid leader) and Slout (incoming ranged lead) on this note. Please use the reply to all link to respond to all of us when you do so in order to let us all know what your circumstances were with regards to missing tonight’s raid.

Again, I hope everything is okay, but I also hope you recognize that you’re an important part of the team and we need to know ASAP if you’re going to be unable to make it.

Thanks,

Kurn”

This was his response on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 15th.

“Hey all,

My life has gone almost beyond control at this point.

Reason for missing raid without notification:
Last night on the way home I got rear ended (and might I add how amazingly this indiviual fit a driving stereotype…lol) and I made impact with 2 other vehicles… no one seriously injured but my car is totaled. I ended up with bumbs and scrapes….and needing new pants.

Unfortunately I am going to be stepping down as a raider from Apotheosis. If you need me to leave with my toons, I understand as well. Just a few reason below:
We just found out child #2 is now on his/her way into this world.
My job is starting to cost me nearly 80 hours a week and I simply cannot sustain.

I still am very interested in Mists… but will likely not be on any normal scheduled raiding team (hopefully this will change over time). I am going to try to contact some old work buddies and RL friends and see if they are still running one night a week raids back on blackhorn. If this is the case I may be leaving ET in pursuit of a 1 weekend night a week raid schedule.

I will await a response before posting anything publicly to the guild. I just want to make sure you don’t mind me posting. I would like to say my goodbyes and thanks.”

Serrath, our incoming raid leader for Mists, replied:

“Oh my gosh – first off – I’m glad that you’re ok! Secondly, congratulations on the incoming baby!!!

I understand that you will need to step down from your current raider position. Regarding Mists, I apologize, but we will not be able to accommodate an unreliable raid schedule. Once details are hammered out and you’re in a more comfortable situation we would love to have you back in the community.

If you’d like to say goodbyes in your own thread, you are welcome to do this. At some point in the coming days we will bump down your rank in the guild to Member where you’re welcome to stay. Please let me know if there’s any questions you have or if you need anything.

Thanks,

Serrath”

Literally half an hour later, Inner posted this on our guild forums:

“Hey all,

Unfortunately I am going to be stepping down from Raider in Apotheosis. My RL responsibilities are tipping the free time scales. Working nearly 80 hours a week now and we just found out baby #2 is on the way!!! =)

I do want to say that I have learned an amazing amount during my time in Apotheosis and I hope for nothing but the best for you all in the future. I have no doubts you will continue to be as successul as ever.

As for Mists… I will have to wait and see how things go in RL go. In the begining of Mists I will most likely be trying to find a 1 weekend night run as I cannot reliably commit any more than that (an old RL friend led an alt run on saturday nights…going to try there). I may or may not stay on server due to this…=/

All in all… a true thank you for everything you all have helped me achieve and bringing me into the Apotheosis team. I will still exist and am always willing to help with anything I can.

Thanks again… and I will most definitely miss all the fun and success that is Apotheosis raiding.”

Several people chimed in on his thread, wishing him the best of luck and congratulating him on his forthcoming second child. No one was upset, no one was angry. We genuinely wished him well.

Exceedingly short and simplistic form of above: Inner was never the most reliable of raiders, though he was a great player. Still, a lot of us had felt strongly that he would flake out at some point. We certainly had a lot of reason to think he wouldn’t continue raiding us for the long haul, based on the variety of moments that I’ve touched on above.

So the history segment of this is now over.

Here’s what happened today…

I woke up to several private messages and a few forum posts, as  well as many tweets, all indicating something had happened with Inner.

Just hours after his post on Wednesday afternoon, he transferred off the server and Wowprogress notes his departure as of August 17th. That was fine, he had said he might go back to a 1-night weekend schedule. So what?

Turns out it was much more than that.

Inner is now the guild master of a guild named Mercury on Greymane (although, for reasons that will become clear very shortly, better names might have been “Acopyosis”, “Bpotheosis” and “Uranus” — thanks to Rades, Ash and Jasyla for those suggestions).

Inner being the GM of Mercury is not a problem. You don’t want to be part of Apotheosis, that’s fine. He stepped down. He took off. That’s okay. Good luck to you in whatever you do, no skin off my nose.

What presents a problem is the fact that Inner ripped off just about all of Apotheosis’ policies, as well as our application, our raid requirements for Mists and, as if that weren’t bad enough, our recruitment post. You doubt this? Check out this screenshot that still has the Apotheosis guild name in it (first sentence, last paragraph).

As Jasyla said in her post, just about all of our policies, including our application form, were taken just about word-for-word. I’d encourage you to go read Jasyla’s post now if you haven’t already.

Even though this guy has ripped off my words, Jasyla’s words and Serrath’s words, this is not actually what I’m most upset about. I’m not even all that upset by this gem of plagiarism…

I’m angry about the plagiarism, don’t get me wrong, but I think what’s really gotten me wound up is the entire package.

1) Inner tells us he has to step down; work is 80 hours a week, his wife is pregnant, cannot sustain 3 nights a week.

2) Inner leaves, returns to his former guild, becomes GM, aims to start raiding as a 25-man guild in Mists of Pandaria.

3) New version of Mercury has the exact same application and almost the same policies as Apotheosis, most of them taken word-for-word.

4) New version of Mercury has the exact same raid nights and times as Apotheosis — Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday from 9pm ET until 12am ET, with invites at 8:45pm.

5) New version of Mercury even has the exact same recruitment post and is, obviously, searching for every class.

6) As such, our recruitment officer (hi Sara!) can’t very well post right after Inner has in a prospective applicant’s thread — it’s the same post! Much re-writing needs to occur before posting in someone’s thread.

We were all pretty outraged by at least one of these happenings. (People reacted differently to the separate issues.)

On the one hand, the plagiarism is a compliment: We (primarily me, Jasyla, Serrath and Sara) wrote good posts and good policies, good enough for someone to steal. On the other hand, what the fuck, dude? He’s going to continue to raid 3 nights a week in a guild he’s going to run, based on how our guild is run. Why not just stay in Apotheosis? Psycho.

Hence, the suggested names of “Acopyosis” and “Bpotheosis”. (And “Uranus” comes from Jasyla’s post because she’s nice, but picked a planet that basically indicates Inner is an ass. I laughed.)

He had the nerve to come slithering back to our forums and was met with, well,  not the best reception:

Meanwhile, I was asleep. I woke up, found out all this was happening, posted a courtesy post in the officer forum saying “so, yeah, I’m gonna kick his remaining toons and lock him out of the forums, okay?” (to which the responses were a resounding DO IT DO IT DO IT) and did just that. Threw his remaining toons out and banned him from the forums.

Sadly, I had an appointment this afternoon, so I wasn’t able to really get my hate and anger on before I left… and by the time I started composing this monster of a post, things had settled down a bit. Why? Mercury’s website is now gone. The whole domain has been deleted.

I’m almost disappointed.

That said, the recruitment posts are still littered throughout the official recruitment forums. 63 of them. Sara’s going to see if she can’t get a GM to go delete them all before she continues our recruitment efforts, but I’m not optimistic.

They have, however, edited their “main” recruitment post to remove all the plagiarized stuff. Some people posted amusing things in the thread.

Overall, I think the biggest thing here is the “why”? Why would someone say that their schedule no longer permits them to raid, then go head up a raiding guild that plans to raid on that exact same schedule? Why would someone use the exact same application form and policies (except, of course, the important parts about the use of various words that we don’t appreciate in our guild community)? Is it just extraordinary laziness? Stupidity? Insanity?

Of course, finding out “why” would mean talking to Inner. That’s not something I’m prepared to do. He’s dead to me, as many people who have left my guild on bad terms have been, over many years. We’ve blacklisted him in our forums, meaning that even if Apotheosis is still around in ten years and new officers have taken over who have no idea who Inner is, he will never again be a part of Apotheosis.

I think the best thing that came out of this, though, was that it’s a bonding experience for the guild. “Remember that jackass who left and then became GM of his own guild and COPIED EVERYTHING WE HAD?” That’ll be remembered for years, by the Friends, the Initiates, the Members, the Raiders and Officers alike. So much outrage, so much /facepalming and so much disgust.

It’s nice to see that kind of loyalty from the guild. It shows me that the last two years have meant something to others, too, that our community is important to others in our guild.

To the members of Apotheosis: you rock. <3

And to those who have left us… you don’t know what you’re missing. :)

(If you’re interested in joining Apotheosis, as we are recruiting for Mists of Pandaria, head over to our guild website: http://www.apotheosis-now.com/main)

(PS: We could use a great holy paladin app!)

A Moment of Personal Clarity

As I prepare to hand Apotheosis over to Jasyla (we’re recruiting, by the way, go check us out), I realized that I’m, well, more or less ready to do so.

I am, more or less, ready to stop raiding (although this won’t happen until the end of September 4th’s reset).

I am, more or less, ready to hang up the ol’ Lightforge armor and Beastmaster armor, along with my Rhok’delar (although this won’t happen until early November at the earliest).

Why?

It’s not just because I’ve been playing for nearly seven years. It’s not just because I’m tired and have other stuff in my real life I should really be paying attention to, either.

It’s because I have satisfied my curiosity.

I couldn’t quit after Vanilla, because I’d just gotten a small taste of raiding. Just enough to get me hooked. I wanted more! I wanted epic boss fights, I wanted to experience things I never came close to experiencing in Vanilla. So I continued in Burning Crusade, even swapping to the paladin to heal to ensure I could raid. While I did get to experience what I’d missed in Vanilla…

I couldn’t quit after Burning Crusade, because hey, my guild had effing cleared all BC content through Illidan and we wanted more! I was excited to go through Naxx at level 80, deal with increases in difficulty like Sarth with 0, 1, 2 or 3 drakes. I was ready to lead my guild to new heights. Except that people bailed and we were caught flat-footed and just not ready and never got out of the starting gate. So I hopped around to other guilds — Bronzebeard, Proudmoore and Skywall were my homes during Wrath and, to this day, I still think I’m on a whole other server when I’m in Dalaran and I have a brief moment of “wait, where the hell am I right now?” any time I’m in that city.

I couldn’t quit after Wrath of the Lich King, because hey, I was putting my guild back together, by golly. I was putting my old crew back together and collecting some of the newer people I had met in my travels around the different servers and guilds. It was an expansion full of hope, with a lot of hard work ahead of me. But I was ready for the challenge.

I’ll be buying Mists of Pandaria and checking things out, but I’ll be done raiding. Why can I do it this time?

For the first time, I’ve cleared an entire tier of heroic content. Never did get 25-man H Anub’Arak down, never did get 25-man H Lich King down, didn’t get Sinestra, didn’t get H Rag. But I got H Spine and H Madness.

For the first time, I’ve had an actual server-first boss kill. Apotheosis killed Heroic Hagara the Stormbinder and it was the first of all other guilds on Eldre’Thalas. (Fit to burst with pride, you guys. This was an amazing moment.)

For the second and third times, I’ve earned my meta achievement (I had the ICC 25-man one, then got the Firelands and Dragon Soul ones), but it was the first (and second) time I’d ever lead a raid group to those achievements.

I would have always wondered “what if?”, had I quit after Wrath of the Lich King. “What if I had gotten Apotheosis back together?” “What if we were the top 25-man guild on the server?” “What if we cleared all the current content in a single tier?”

I’ve answered those questions and it’s due to the amazing work my raid team does, night after night and wipe after wipe.

I’ve also answered the most important question: “What if I got my old crew from Burning Crusade back together? Could we ever recapture the magic of those good ol’ days?”

The answer to that is, surprisingly, no. We never did recapture that magic. And that was okay. A guild is a living, breathing organism. It has a pulse. It has a personality. Every single person makes up a part of the guild and, thus, part of its personality.

Is it okay that we couldn’t recapture the magic? Yes.

Is what the guild is currently like such a bad thing? Absolutely not. We really eclipsed our progress this time around versus in Burning Crusade content and maintained our personality standards, not to mention our respect of each other.

But it’s not the same. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy myself, but it’s not why I rebuilt the guild, using many of my old BC crew to start. The spark is different. And that’s okay. But it’s still different.

I gave it a shot. I didn’t get what I expected. I’m not unhappy with what I got, not by a long shot, but it’s not why I put the guild back together and it’s not going to get me to stay, not the way the old BC guild would have.

It’s a great guild that is competitive in terms of progression, respectful in terms of its other members and other players and it’s a guild that I am continually humbled to have had a hand in leading throughout the last two years.

My curiosity is sated, though. I’ve gotten a server-first. I’ve cleared a heroic tier. I’ve lead a team to meta raid achievements. And I discovered that missing inbreds, a green-haired gnome, a certain skateboarding Spell Reflecting tank, The Shield (who tanked the floor), Group 4 (including Euphayyyyyy), a certain non-kiting ele shammy and so many more meant that the guild had changed enough for me to be able to step away.

I’m not gone yet, but it was a moment of personal clarity I had the other day when I asked myself why I could leave now when I couldn’t leave last time.

It’s rare that I get to start and end things on my terms and I’m so glad that my adventures in Azeroth will end without any other persistent “what if…?” questions.

So I feel good about my decision. I feel ready. And I am still so very proud to be a part of the team that achieved so much in Cataclysm. They will kick some serious ass in Mists. And somewhere, lurking in the shadows of the forums, I’ll be beaming with pride for my former compatriots as they move forth into Pandaria and dominate the way I know they can. :)

Sportsmanship

I was taught, from a young age, to be a good loser and a good winner. That’s to say, I was taught not to throw a tantrum at losing a game, but similarly, not to gloat if I had won a game. (I’m sure my brother would argue that I never actually learned these lessons very well, but honestly, neither did he. At least, not in terms of playing games with each other.) I’m mostly certain that the majority of people were taught about sportsmanship, and how to be a good sport, at some point in their lives.

I know that I can complain and I can gripe, but I am ALWAYS genuinely happy when someone in my raid gets loot, even if they get it over me. I will, in jest, grumble that I didn’t get bracers or something, but I’m always truly happy that someone’s gotten sweet loot that they want, because it helps the guild.

I’m even happy now that most of my guildmates have the Lifebinder’s Handmaiden off Heroic Madness of Deathwing and I, well, do not. But I’m honestly happy that people are acquiring them and I’m sure I’ll eventually get mine. More than that, the majority of my guild seems happy when others get loot or mounts or whatever. We have been SO lucky this entire expansion to not have a ton of loot drama, honestly. It’s clear that I’m surrounded by some pretty respectful people on a regular basis and they’re pretty classy folks.

When it was announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going Free to Play, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Cory Stockton is the Lead Content Designer for World of Warcraft.

Now, to be fair, Mr. Stockton could, perhaps, be referring to the fact that SWTOR going Free to Play is a big deal (which it is) and maybe that’s what his “BOOOOOOM!” is all about. (Here’s the link for the article he retweeted.)

But I think it’s entirely possible that Mr. Stockton is actually gloating at a competitor who, less than eight months after release, has to change their entire business plan and strategy. Going from a subscription model to a Free to Play model is viewed by some as an admission of failure and a “BOOOOOOM!” can easily be read as an explosion or someone/something blowing up. It’s not much of a stretch to assume that Mr. Stockton is gloating because his MMORPG title (World of Warcraft) has yet to go Free to Play (despite the fact you can play without paying — to an extent. I believe you can play up to level 20 without subscribing.) and that WoW, in fact, has millions and millions of subscribers.

I’m not saying that’s the case. What I’m saying is that it’s not out of left field to assume that’s his meaning.

If it is his meaning, then it’s pretty clear that Mr. Stockton never fully learned about sportsmanship.

(I wonder if the 1.1 million WoW subscriber loss over the last three months (April, May and June of 2012) would warrant a “BOOOOOOM!” from Bioware to Mr. Stockton…?)

Change and Leadership

I remarked on Twitter tonight that it’s awfully strange to go from raiding around 15 hours a week throughout the majority of the expansion to raiding for just over 2 hours a week. It really is strange.

The reason I’m only raiding 2 hours a week is because of two reasons:

1) I’m no longer raiding with Choice
2) Apotheosis is full-clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours

Let’s talk about the first point.

I left Choice just after 4.0 hit.

They struggled a bit in T11 content, mostly due to healing issues.

So I did a stupid thing. I rolled another paladin. It actually came from Matt’s idea to clone myself so I could heal for him and I was like “BUT WAIT. CHOICE NEEDS A HEALER.” So I applied and I started raiding with them in early June.

For over a year, I raided three times a week with Apotheosis and twice a week with Choice. I got a little burnt towards the end, but that’s due to other factors, not playing “so much”. While 15 hours a week for me is probably a bit much, 12 hours a week would have been nice. Anyhow, I don’t regret it. I do not recommend doing what I did (raiding with two progression guilds simultaneously, in essence), but damn me, did I ever get GOOD at fights in Firelands and Dragon Soul! Double the chance each week to refine and better my performances, double the chance to learn how to do something. I got REAL good at Heroic Alysrazor, I was reliable on Heroic Majordomo and basically just knew what I was doing all throughout both those tiers. It felt really good.

Like I said, though, I can’t recommend it. It’s tiring, it can be frustrating and sometimes it’s nice to have a real night off. But I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t do it again, mind you, but it worked well for me.

So why am I no longer raiding with them? Well, after some weeks of being stuck on Heroic Spine and such, combined with weeks of fighting the attendance boss, Choice decided to go to a 10-man format. Fugara knows I loathe 10s, so she basically wrote me off the list. That’s right, I was cut! ;) But I let them know I wasn’t interested in continuing in a 10-man format anyhow, but that I’d stick around for two resets on Wednesdays and Mondays for them, in case of attendance issues/etc.

I did a few solid hours of H Spine and H Madness progression (both on 10m, of course) and good gravy, it totally reinforced how I hate 10s…

That said, I stopped raiding with them last week — and they promptly got H Madness, so grats to them. :)

And now to address the second point: Apotheosis is clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours a week. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still spending a LOT of time with this whole transition thing, though. With me stepping down as GM, Raid Leader and basically the recruitment person, plus Majik stepping down as caster lead… yeah.

We’ve decided that Jasyla will be the new guild master of Apotheosis. Sara will be the recruitment officer. Slout will be the new caster lead. And we’ve gotten Chronis to be the new tank lead (a position left unfilled since Dayden stopped tanking for us back in Firelands).

Sara, Slout and Chronis got promoted on Tuesday before the raid and the raid basically proceeded normally. We’ve got a meeting on Thursday for the role officers and we’ve got some new lootmaster shenanigans to handle on Sunday evening, so I have stuff going on.

But all I’m thinking, now that we have a solid launch date and an equally-solid end-of-raiding date, is that “hey, there’s one more lockout done. Just five to go.” We’re going to stop raiding for the expansion after the reset of September 4th is finished. Since we’re clearing in two hours or so, that means just five more Apotheosis raids.

It’s sad. I mean, it’s good, but it’s sad, too. Not exactly bittersweet, but I’m making a huge change in my life by not being a GM and not raiding in the expansion. It’ll be a good thing for me, personally. This job… well, this hobby, really, has become a more-than-full-time job over the last couple of years. Two years ago, I was psyched and excited about rebuilding my guild and bringing my people back home to Eldre’Thalas.

Now, I’m kind of sad that I won’t be a part of the guild’s future success. I’m kind of wistful that I’ve already accomplished most of the game-related things of which I’ll be proudest. There aren’t any real new adventures awaiting me in Mists of Pandaria. I’ll level Kurn to 90 (may not even bother with the paladin, to be honest!) and see what fun can be had, but no more raiding seriously and, most dramatically, no more leading.

Dramatic? Yes, it’s a big change. I’ve been leading stuff since April of 2006, with a short break while in Choice and a shorter break in a guild with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. What the eff am I going to do with myself with no one to lead? With no goals to strive for?

I’ve always called myself a reluctant leader. I’ve always said that if a group is being led well, I’m more than happy to follow. I used to mean that, but I’m realizing, more and more, that people are usually, in my opinion, doing it wrong. And that means that I feel obliged to step up. I strongly feel that even if I wanted to continue raiding in Mists (which I don’t), I wouldn’t be able to stay in Apotheosis, because my mouth would get me in trouble. (ETA: Not that I think that the new leadership team is going to do badly — quite the opposite — but because I was ALWAYS biting my tongue in Choice, even when things worked out well for them and I’m not sure I could bite my tongue if I disagreed with the leadership in Apotheosis. Which I don’t even know would happen.)

I need to let go. I need to let the new leaders of the guild do things the way they want to do it and be thankful that anyone is crazy dedicated enough to take up the job that I’m leaving. I’m sure I’ll be able to do that, in the coming weeks. With just five more lockouts, it’s inevitable that more and more responsibility will shift from me to the other officers. (ETA: And so far, things have been pretty smooth. I don’t anticipate much in the way of drama or issues.)

And soon, it’ll be time for me to be demoted to the dreaded Member rank, which people are only ever demoted to (or grandfathered into).

Yet, there’s so much to do between now and then. And lots of blog posts to write. :) Stay tuned!

PS: I’m doing a Holy Paladin Roundtable with Megacode, Joe Ego, Ophelie and Chase Christian this Saturday! Email Mega your questions at: healingspec (at) gmail.com!

Kurn's Attunement Ramblings

Scattered throughout this blog are countless mentions of old attunement quests. Jailbreak. Attunement to the Core. The BWL attunement. The Black Temple attunement. They’re all over the place. I even wrote about keys last year.

Apparently, attunements are currently being discussed in the blogosphere. I’ve been wanting to jump in since day one, but I feel as though I don’t have a ton to contribute to the discussion, because I’ve already talked about attunements. A lot. (Seriously.) Then again, why should I let that stop me? ;)

The latest round of attunement discussion arose due to a few blue posts by a European Community Manager, Draztal. In essence, some people are clamouring for the return of attunements because it’ll “give people something to do”, to which Draztal responds with challenge modes, scenarios and pet battles, amongst other things. Others claim that attunements were great for explaining why we’re fighting these bosses and that lore is missing, to which Draztal responds that some people didn’t care about the lore and found that attunements were just “getting in their way” because they would be declined entry into raids that required attunements.

One of the more interesting parts of his posts was this, his second-to-last post:

I doubt it was very fun for the players that were being told “no, sorry, you need to get these attunements to join our guild” and was being rejected when he said “but noone is running these right now because it’s not current content anymore”.

Was it fun when it was current content? For some. For some others it was just another unnecesary wall preventing them from getting to the content they really wanted to do (raiding).

I’m not kidding when I say this: I could write a thesis about attunements.

But because I like you, I won’t inflict that upon you. ;) Instead, let’s talk a little bit about what I think is important about attunements and why I think they should exist, along with what changes I would make to them.

But first, let’s look at…

ATTUNEMENT HISTORY

Level 60 was the first level cap. As a brand-new level 60 character, you could not enter into Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, The Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (*) or Naxxramas (the 40-man version) without first doing various attunements. (* Technically, once someone on your server had done the excruciatingly long and difficult Scepter chain, you never had to do an attunement to get into what was called AQ40, but neither AQ20 nor AQ40 were available until someone had done that quest chain and banged the gong.) There were no heroic dungeons at 60, so there were no other kinds of attunements. (There were several key quests, mind you, but only one person in your group needed the key. They were pretty optional, although I had ALL the keys and loved them dearly.)

You could enter Zul’Gurub (20m raid instance) and The Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj (also known as AQ20) without any attunements (so long as someone had done the Scepter chain) once you hit level 58, but hitting max level did not magically imbue you with the ability to do, well, anything. No one was going to pug AQ40, so that forced a player to either continue to do 5-10 man content (by which I mean dungeons, including UBRS) or start getting into ZG/AQ20 runs (either pugs or guild runs) or work on their attunements to get into more challenging content.

In Burning Crusade, where the level cap was 70, there were reputation requirements to earn the heroic key of the various dungeons available. You had to hit Revered (initially, then later, this was brought down to Honored) with the associated faction in order to get the heroic key to literally unlock the heroic version of the instance. So for the heroic versions of Hellfire Ramparts, The Blood Furnace and Shattered Halls, you needed to be Revered with Thrallmar or Honor Hold, for example. (Shattered Halls also had its own key quest!) In addition to this, the first entry-level raid, Karazhan (a 10-man raid instance) had an extensive attunement process that everyone had to go through on every single toon they wanted to bring into the raid. (14 months after BC’s launch, they lifted the requirement that everyone have a key.)

While Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair did not require attunements, one typically had to start gearing up through Karazhan before they could hope to get Gruul or Magtheridon down.

Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep were the Tier 5 instances. This is where, perhaps, attunement nay-sayers who lived through this time may have a point. The Serpentshrine Cavern attunement was relatively straightforward: You had to go to Heroic Slave Pens (thereby being Revered with Cenarion Expedition), kill the first boss, find the captive Skar’this and get his quest.

His quest asks for the Earthen Signet (a drop from Gruul) and the Blazing Signet (a drop from Nightbane in Karazhan, a boss that required at least one person in the raid have done a series of quests for — in essence, its own attunement). Maybe I lied about it being straightforward…

Still, that’s “all” that was required for Serpentshrine Cavern access. It wasn’t too complicated; if you were killing Gruul and Nightbane regularly, it wasn’t a big deal to get these drops and get attuned. This attunement was lifted in June of 2007, just five months after Burning Crusade’s launch. (As such, I never did this to completion, although Kurn had the Blazing Signet at some point.)

The tricky part is Tempest Keep. Hands down, this sucked. And I never actually did this attunement either, because it was lifted in June of 2007 as well.

Long story short…

– Excessively long quest chain, then:
– Trial of the Naaru: Mercy: Heroic Shattered Halls
– Trial of the Naaru: Strength: Kalithresh in Heroic Steamvault, then Murmur in Heroic Shadow Labyrinth
– Trial of the Naaru: Tenacity: Heroic Arcatraz, rescue Millhouse Manastorm
– Trial of the Naaru: Magtheridon: Kill Magtheridon

Now let’s be clear, here. This was pre-LFG. This was back when even finishing a single Heroic Shattered Halls run was a crapshoot unless you were with a competent group, which usually consisted of a prot pally tanking. Heroic Mumur was painful. And doing Heroic Arcatraz was an exercise in masochism. Even I think Tempest Keep attunement was rough. People who did this got the Champion of the Naaru title. Champions indeed; I have a great deal of respect for people who did it, even at the end of the expansion.

Two of the Tier 6 instances, The Battle of Mount Hyjal and the Black Temple, had their own attunements, as well. (Sunwell Plateau did not.)

Hyjal required you to kill Lady Vashj in Serpentshrine Cavern and Kael’thas Sunstrider in Tempest Keep, commonly known as the Vials of Eternity quest. This was pretty straightforward, although no easy task. Black Temple attunement was considerably more annoying. It consisted of a LOT of quests, an Arcatraz run, a 5-man quest, a trip to Fathom-Lord Karathress in Serpentshrine Cavern, killing Al’ar in an Ashtongue Cowl in Tempest Keep, killing Rage Winterchill in Hyjal and basically that’s the worst of it, followed by some more questy stuff in and around Black Temple.

For being attuned to both Hyjal and BT, you got the Hand of A’dal title, since both of these attunements were no longer needed as of March 25, 2008. (This is why I tend to default to wearing my Hand of A’dal title, and I do it proudly.)

(Looking back, how in the hell did we manage to get everyone attuned to stuff? We did the BT/Hyjal attunements for most of the guild, but good gravy, in retrospect, I’m suddenly really impressed with the BC-era Apotheosis!)

Wrath of the Lich King arrived and, as is typical of Blizzard, pretty much all attunements were thrown out the window. What do I mean by that? I mean that Blizzard will find something they enjoy (in this case, attunements) and will introduce it all over the place and then when the community complains enough, they’ll swing way over to the other side of things and have very little of that thing. Another example would be the reliance on interrupt mechanics in Tier 11 content: Omnotron, Maloriak, Nefarian, Halfus, Ascendent Council, Cho’gall, which is half of the normal encounters in T11. All of these fights required people to interrupt basic boss abilities. Interrupting played an important part of precisely one encounter in Firelands (Alysrazor), or 1/7th of the encounters in Firelands.  I don’t think any actual interrupting goes on in Dragon Soul boss encounters… Anyhow, I digress. My point is that Blizzard will really overuse something they particularly like and then will throw it out the window entirely in newer content. I think moderation is the key, but what do I know?

So attunements in Wrath got thrown out the window, basically, after the attunement craziness in Burning Crusade. You dinged 80? Great, you can now enter every single raid instance and are automatically able to do heroic dungeons. The one exception is that you had to get the Key to the Focusing Iris from Sapphiron in Naxx in order to be able to do Malygos in Eye of Eternity.

Later, the raid leader had to have cleared all of Trial of the Crusader (defeat Anub’arak on normal) in order to attempt the heroic version of that raid, which was also known as Trial of the Grand Crusader. You also had to have the raid leader have killed Lich King on normal to activate heroic modes in Icecrown Citadel. There were also specific things you had to do in order to be able to face Algalon in Ulduar, but by and large, attunements didn’t exist and those that did certainly weren’t anywhere near the level they were at in Burning Crusade.

In Cataclysm, the only form of “attunement” is in terms of accessing certain bosses. You can’t do Sinestra (heroic only) if you don’t do Heroic Cho’gall. You can’t do Heroic Ragnaros without doing the previous six bosses on heroic in that particular reset. You can’t do Heroic Spine (or Madness) without doing the previous six bosses on heroic in that particular reset, either. And you can’t swap things to heroic without the raid leader having cleared things on normal.

Geez, that got long. But it was important background information to show how much attunements have changed over the last several years!

WHAT KURN THINKS IS IMPORTANT ABOUT ATTUNEMENTS

I feel that attunements have two major facets to them that are often overlooked, particularly by the more “entitled” crowd, which (I am generalizing here) is, in my observations, more likely to consist of “newer” players to the game than people who played in Vanilla or Burning Crusade. (Some of the players who dislike attunements certainly lived through the attunements of Vanilla and BC, though. Let’s not forget that not all attunements were “fun”, even for someone like me who is generally in favour of attunements.)

The first facet is that attunements act as a barrier to entry and I’ll talk a bit about why I think this is desirable. The second facet is what I will call the “Fire-Forged Friends” or “Band of Brothers” element.

BARRIER TO ENTRY

One part of an attunement process is the barrier to entry, which means that you can’t ding max level and zone in. There’s something to be done first. I like this for four reasons.

1) A sense of anticipation. Nowadays, you ding max level and can, more or less, walk into any raid instance. (LFR currently requires a 372 ilvl, but using the same-server raid finder tool has no such requirements and pugs don’t always check people’s gear, etc.)

Where is the fun in that?

For me, and for a number of people with whom I’ve played over the years, attunements for opening up raid content was often a solid step on the way to becoming a raider. It’s really hard to remember a time when I didn’t raid, but I assure you, there was such a time. It was spring of 2006 when I was wanting to start raiding, after my brother had guild-hopped (from the guild I had just joined!) to a guild that was working on Molten Core.

I was all of level 53 or 54 when he left the guild. I wasn’t attuned to the core, I couldn’t even pick up the quest (which I snatched up quickly at level 55!).

So I was not yet a raider. But I wanted to raid, so I did my homework, read up on the quests at Thottbot, then started in on various quest lines, such as Dragonkin Menace (the starter quest for the Onyxia attunement) and started making progress on various attunements.

Getting attuned to Molten Core was a huge rush. I was going to be able to go in there and kill these huge, epic bosses! … I just needed 39 other people to go with me.

My guild at the time started out small in Zul’Gurub (no attunement needed) and then started in on Molten Core in the summer and recruited and recruited and while we only ever fielded one single 40-man Molten Core raid, we did a lot with around 30-35 people. We did spawn Majordomo Executus twice and attempted Onyxia a few times. Possibly the greatest accomplishment was actually attuning everyone to Onyxia and Molten Core, to be honest… but the sense of accomplishment for completing the attunements was huge. It was a big step towards becoming a raider, because, well, not everyone COULD be a raider. If you were attuned to various raids, it was a huge boost for you and your guild. I remember this group of three guys who applied to our guild — holy paladin, rogue and a DPS warrior. They had three-manned the Onyxia chain together. Including Jailbreak. This was hugely impressive and based primarily on that, we invited them to the guild. They were excellent players and how they tackled their attunements proved that to us.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with delaying the start of raiding by adding an attunement. It adds to the sense of anticipation. It adds to the idea that you’re working towards a goal rather than just walking in and hitting a loot pinata.

2) A chance to actually gear up for the content. Okay, this is one of my pet peeves. Drives me up the effing wall. Using PVP (or other, inappropriate gear) to fool the item level checker drives me nuts. I think that the one time this is actually okay is if you have heirlooms that work from 80-85, which are counted as level 1 by the item level checker, but by and large, when someone buys a couple of PVP items to fool the item level checker, I get pissed. (I swear, this game has had a negative effect on my blood pressure.) By putting attunements in, you give people the opportunity to run dungeons that are appropriate to their level before they group up with others in LFR or heroic/etc dungeons. I am ALWAYS careful not to be a drag on my group. Always. Kurn is always hit-capped (as is my mage), for example, while I do my absolute best as a healer to help out with the mechanics of a fight (interrupting, if I can, not standing in bad, explaining things if people don’t get it). I’m that person who loves to CC to make life easier for people. I would CC regularly in Zul’Aman’s 5-man dungeon version on my paladin, by using Turn Evil on (essentially fearing) the demon guy in the temple. I love dropping traps on Kurn. I even used to kite General Drakkisath in UBRS (until the ever-awesome Toga decided to do that for us, more often than not). In short, I am basically a team player as soon as you throw me into group content.

What Blizzard did in Cataclsym is introduce the item level checker to sort of make sure that people weren’t running into various dungeons while completely unprepared. Unfortunately, since PVP gear had a higher ilvl, people quickly realized that they could have an ilvl of, well, 0, so long as they had a full set of PVP gear in their bags.

If you have an attunement, you give people a chance to get gear that will legitimately help them before they move on to more challenging content. Want to make sure someone has a great weapon? Make it a reward for the last bit of the quest. Give them armor along the way, or a trinket, or something. There should be both an emotional gain (the satisfaction of doing the attunement) as well as a material gain (gear) in order to encourage people to actually do the attunements, especially on more than one character.

3) The possibility of gaining for experience on your character before hitting content. Let’s face it, tons of people have zero idea how to play their characters efficiently for group content. If you want to quest on your own, that’s fine. As soon as you enter group content, if you’re not playing in a way that allows you to do appropriate DPS or healing for the content, you’re screwing other people over. Tanks are not immune to this either, obviously. (I am talking to you, DK tank I once had in Vortex Pinnacle, who focused on one mob alone, not spreading any diseases or dropping D&D, which meant that even a holy shock on him meant that ALL THE OTHERS would turn, as one, and beat the crap out of me.)

By delaying entry into a raid setting, you give people the opportunity to spend a bit more time learning how to play their class by being asked to complete an attunement. Sure, these same people can grind out VP on a weekly basis to get gear to bypass ilvl requirements legitimately in Mists (since PVP gear will have a lower ilvl. Level 90 crafted PVP gear seems to be at 450, while heroic gear from a dungeon is 463. Epic PVP gear is 464. Raid Finder gear is 476/483. Normal raid gear is 489/496. Heroic raid gear is 502/509.), but with the crazy amount of things you can do at 90 for Valor Points, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be engaging in relevant group content too much before trying to jump into LFR or pugs and making life miserable for those who DO know how to play their classes.

4) It can be used to artificially extend the content’s life. Let’s be serious. It’s July 13th. On Tuesday, July 10th, Apotheosis cleared Heroic Dragon Soul in 2h24m. And that was with a few screwups on H Zon’ozz due to some miscommunication on my part. Dragon Soul launched on November 29th. That means we’re approaching the 8-month anniversary of Dragon Soul. The nerf is about to go up to 30% next week. This is tired, stale, old content for many people. If Blizzard cannot provide us with new content, then why not try to extend the life of the content? I’m not talking about something ridiculous like having one new boss available per week, they way they did with Trial of the Crusader, but maybe various wings opening more slowly, the way they did in Icecrown Citadel (albeit without the limited number of wipes, which only forced the more hardcore people to level and raid with alts before getting the strat down and then downing the boss in their main group). Or, you know, a form of attunement. Maybe in order to get into Throne of the Four Winds, you would have had to clear Bastion on normal. Or in order to spawn Nefarian, maybe you would have had to do a questline that included Heroic Blackrock Caverns and a quick trip to an instanced Blackwing Lair, where you might have been able to see Nefarian retreat into Blackwing Descent? See Onyxia be reanimated? How much cooler would that have made Blackwing Descent?

I don’t mind a long attunement quest chain, obviously, but what if you started doing one when you’re two levels from max level?

What if there existed, in Mists of Pandaria, a long attunement quest chain that started at level 88 that you could work on ’till you got to level 90, then were asked to run, I don’t know, three specific heroics in order to be attuned and then that’s it for attunement? It would give XP as you were getting to 90, with some nice rewards now and again (especially at the end) and it wouldn’t be dramatically difficult, but it might give people the opportunity to learn more about what they’re about to do, or even, I suppose, what they’re about to be able to do.

I’m thinking out loud and this blog is already almost 3500 words long, so I’ll move on to my next section.

FIRE FORGED FRIENDS” / “BAND OF BROTHERS” ELEMENT

Do you know what I remember most about killing Lady Vashj, apart from the 15k crit Lay on Hands that saved our tank’s life at ~3% on the boss left? I remember the people. I remember one of the tanks dying, getting a battle rez and then dying in poison. I remember the “west side” of the platform, which got three of the tainted elementals, and I remember exactly who was on that side (WEST SIDE STRONG SIDE!). I remember the cries of joy and sheer triumph that came from my Vent, practically deafening us all.

These were people I had sweated with through the rest of SSC. These were people I worked hard with to defeat those other bosses. These were the people I was technically working with the complete the attunements to Hyjal and BT.

I remember the Onyxia attunement — running Jailbreak over and over again. I remember getting the Blood of the Black Dragon Champion from Drakkisath to finish off that attunement, and how they were limited drops that only a couple of people could get. I remember working with the same people over and over again, getting better at working together as a team, accomplishing these steps in attunements for people. I remember saying to apps “Not attuned to the core? No problem, we have a team that can take care of that for you,” and they were like “REALLY?”.

It was a bonding experience. We fought together, side by side, getting bosses down through sheer will and, occasionally, dumb luck. Every single step we took together, through attunements and into raid instances, felt important and everyone learned so much about not just their characters, but their fellow guildies.

Do you know that, to this day, I can basically tell which add Majik is going to sheep and I can trap another one? I’ve been playing alongside him for so long that I can anticipate just about everything he’s going to do. Part of that is because we’ve played together a LOT, including attunements.

These memories of attuning yourself to a raid, they’re not worthless, especially if you’re doing it with your friends or your guildies. They’re part of the journey you’re taking together.

Maybe I have a different perspective on things because I wasn’t always a raider and I’ve always viewed the steps to becoming a raider as being particularly important. Maybe I put too much emphasis on that epic six-hour BRD run when I got attuned to the core. Maybe I should forget about those last-minute, 30-minute pre-raid attunement runs for MC, even though we got GOOD at them and had a blast.

I don’t think I will, though. We’re coming to the end of my WoW career and what I will remember is not dinging 80 or 85 and running heroics. I’ll remember Majik dying on his Jailbreak run and having to do it over again. I’ll remember being in awe at the sheer size of Blackrock Depths as this hunter and paladin dragged me (on Kurn), my guildie (a paladin) and a pug mage through everything, including an Emp run. I’ll remember getting Hand of A’dal after killing Kael’thas Sunstrider. I’ll remember the journeys I’ve taken with so many people over the years, and attunement is a huge part of some of those journeys.

CONCLUSION

I think that attunements would be nice. I think that you could even have guild-level attunements or, my preferred option, account-wide attunements. No one liked doing Jailbreak a second time or running through BRD to get attuned a second time or doing the crazy BT attunement for a second character. (Am I weird if I liked doing Karazhan attunement a lot? I thought so.)

More than that, though, I think attunements served a purpose. I think they could still serve a purpose.

I just don’t think Blizzard and I will ever agree on the subject and that’s just one more reason why I’m calling it quits after Cataclysm.