Question of the Day: Alt accounts for the win?

Back when I was playing Dark Age of Camelot, it was pretty much de rigeur for anyone playing seriously to run two accounts. One for the main character/s and one for a buffbot. It was a ‘feature’ of that game that there was one buffing spec, and that buffs could be cast out of group and stayed up until the buffee got killed. Also, buffs were immensely powerful.

So you could log your accounts on, buff up your main, park the buffbot somewhere safe/ out of the way, and go play with your superpowered main character.

Surprisingly few people ever complained about this, and eventually as I said, most semi-serious players got another account and levelled up a buffbot. I remember when running big public master level raids, it was quite common for people to ask if they could bring their buffbot along and set it on follow (the master level raids gave characters new master level abilities if they completed them.)

You also occasionally hear about people ‘multiboxing’ in WoW, which means running multiple accounts simultaneously for fun and profit. I know people who have multiple WoW accounts for trading purposes, but I never really felt it was necessary.

I was thinking about this when reading a blog post this week about the Monocalypse which commented that serious EVE players had several alt accounts.

Have you ever run multiple accounts in a single game? Do you like the idea that it’s an option? Has it had good/ bad effects on games you play?

(This is, btw, the most accepted form of pay to win in subscription games, and has been around for a very long time indeed.)

Characters in Multiple Guilds

In a week of discussing guilds, it would be amiss to imply that everyone would have one and only one guild at a time. Certainly if you play more than one MMO, you could easily be in more than one guild. And because of the way raid guilds work in WoW, it’s not too awkward to be raiding in more than one guild at the same time on different alts – assuming you want to play a lot and the guilds have compatible schedules.

Raiding in multiple guilds is really an option for the hardcore only. Whether it’s better to raid for four nights a week in one guild or two nights a week in two different guilds is mostly academic for more casual players. I also suspect this will be increasingly popular in Cataclysm with the more restrictive raid locks (i.e. less raid content for any single guild to tackle in a week since they can’t do 10 mans as well as 25s).

What does it mean for raid guilds though? Well, for a start, you can’t be sure how many other servers or guilds any of your raiders are also playing in. Usually it won’t matter – you’ll have your fixed raid schedule and you assume that people who sign up are able to make it. If they can’t then you boot them and find someone else. But what you can’t assume (as a guild officer) is that every member of your raid considers it to be their primary obligation, even in that MMO. This is one of the reasons why Cataclysm will shake things up, even for people who don’t expect it. You may think you are in a tight knit raid guild right now, but how many of those raiders will decide that actually they’d rather focus on a different alt on a different server when the expansion hits?

This is a big change from both vanilla raiding and from the older MMO era. Back then, you joined a guild and then that became your primary in game focus. Sure, there would have been a few people even then who found time somehow to keep multiple guilds on multiple characters but usually one guild would be aware of having the alt.

I do feel that this can put officers in an awkward situation. Running a guild, any kind of successful guild, is a commitment. A tight knit well organised raid guild can take a lot of time and energy from the officer players. And when the rest of the gang is obviously less committed (due to running several alts in several other guilds) it can be hard to justify the effort involved in organising.

When I’ve been in different guilds in WoW at the same time, it was usually because of having characters on different servers. And some of them would be more social guilds that I joined just because I felt lonely on a new server with no one to talk to, or because I wanted to RP or do something else that was compatible with my raid schedule. Joining a PvP guild as well as a PvE guild would accomplish the same thing. And I think this is key – joining guilds which have different but compatible goals in game can be a huge benefit for players. It’s just a case of being able to fulfil any guild obligations without burning out completely. Or in other words, multiple guilds is a way for players to get around WoW’s restriction that one character can only be in one guild. You just roll lots of alts and do different things on each one, if that’s your aim.

I’ve also been in guilds in multiple games at the same time, but again, the more social ones would have been fine with low attendance. In LOTRO, the guild I am in is remarkably laid back. I think they understand that, especially with lifetime subscriptions, people come and go.

Are you in multiple guilds at the same time? And if you are an officer, how do you feel about guild members who do that? Or would you rather commit — heart and soul — to a single guild?

On taking a break from your main, and then going back to it

It’s fantastic to have an MMO which has a single server. All your mates are there. You don’t have to worry about whether your server will end up being under-populated and dead, or whether all the hardcore gank guilds will pick it. You know that all the best guilds will be there, because there isn’t anywhere else.

But recently in WoW, I’m also seeing the advantages of having several servers. When you are tired or worn out on your main character and want a break, you can take a ‘server holiday’. I’m not tired of Spinks, but I am running out of endgame content for her. And rather than burn out or pay to be bored, I’ve been spending more time on alliance alts with friends.

So most of my experience with PUGs recently has been with various alts: the hunter I’m playing with Arbitrary (our duo recently hit Outland, which is the first time she has been there), the inevitable death knight (did anyone mention yet that blood specced tanks are overpowered?), the bank alt that got levelled just because, the lowbie fixed group that I’m playing with friends (ok, no PUG there).

Last week, I decided that I missed my level 80s and ran a few instances on Argent Dawn, just to get back into the spirit of things. My main reactions:

spinksbadass

  • Spinks looks insanely badass on the loading screen in her T10 warrior kit. I think I’d been used to the lowbies, who look OK but … wow.
  • Spinks is a also a total beast when I spec her fury and go hang out in PUGs. Picking up Bryntroll the other week seems to have launched her into the dps stratosphere. I’m encouraged to spend more time practising as Fury to get my raid dps up a notch.
  • People are just plain nastier in level 80 PUGs. Oh for sure, the majority are fine, but the general experience was much pleasanter with lowbies.

Note the Ulduar tanking sword, I hate Blizzard sometimes

For example, let’s take a random LBRS (lower blackrock spire) group – which for my money is the toughest instance for its level.

We have a wipe, no surprise there. The rogue uses vanish to avoid being killed. As everyone else is running back, he comments that he’s scared about being alone with all those orcs. The tank says, “Don’t worry lilninja (that was his name), I’m coming to save you!”

Can you imagine that in a level 80 PUG? For one thing, as soon as there was a wipe, half the group would disband. If they didn’t, everyone would hurl abuse at the guy who managed to avoid wiping. And the tank would probably curse the healer.

Even the rubbish groups I’ve had at low level haven’t been really aggressively nasty in the way that high level groups can. Here’s another example:

Level 80 PUG, and I’m healing on my druid. I’ve not done any level 80 heroics for a month or so because I was taking a break. The tank is racing through and not waiting for anyone, and he’s taking shortcuts I haven’t seen people use before. I’m no slouch, but I’m remembering my way around. We wipe at one point (yet another stupid pull, and I got some adds because I didn’t realise that they’d skipped a pack on the way down some stairs) and I explain that I haven’t been there in awhile and ask if he could just wait for me to be in range from time to time. Others in the group whisper me and tell me that he’s just being an elitist jerk. He says, “You should have said you were a fucking cripple who couldn’t do your job,” and I leave.

I’m tempted to put it down to people continuing to run the instances long after they’re burned out. Which doesn’t happen so much while levelling.

I love my main

So it all comes down to this. I love my main character, and even after taking a break (apart from weekly raids) I get a kick out of coming back to her. Sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

But I will look forwards to harder instances in Cataclysm, if only so that they will cut some of the current 5 man players who fancy themselves elitist down to size.

Like This!

The Warcraft Alt Dilemma: Alts yesterday, alts tomorrow, but never alts today

Anyone else been intrigued to try the dungeon finder for lower level alts?

I haven’t had much time to play around with lower level instances myself but the few experiences I’ve had have been pretty positive.

I ran an old level 15 draenei  mage created at the beginning of TBC through Ragefire Chasm (previously rather inaccessible to alliance) – it was chaotic but polite and the group were vaguely respectful of the paladin tank who said at the start that it was his/her first time. I did notice immediately that my mage felt very useful. Whenever the pull got out of control, which happened a lot, I could drop a frost nova and run back to give the tank time to grab the mobs. I’m quite sure it was more fun than spamming AE-of-choice in level 80 heroics.

So the thought of levelling a new alt and making generous use of the dungeon finder at the same time is very alluring. There is a problem with this picture. The Cataclysm in the room. In only a few months time, there will be a host of new class/ race options in the game, and a whole new levelling experience to try out. Is there really much point levelling an alt right now just to mess around with the dungeon finder when that goblin rogue, worgen warrior, tauren paladin, dwarf shaman, troll druid and so on are just around the corner?

Plus there is the issue of limited character slots on servers.

This means I’m going to get my low level dungeoneering fix from existing alts, of which I have abandoned many along my current path to greatness. Looking through the list, I was reminded again of my old priest. The first character I ever raided on, her incarnation ended after a messy guild break-up at the beginning of TBC. After which I took a long break from WoW. I seem to also remember that this was an era where paladin healers were crazy overpowered and no one else could keep up with them, which broke my will to play at the time.

Anyway, that’s all in the past. I was curious to check out the Alliance Wrath questlines and the dungeon finder turns out to be just the motivation I need to bring my sole alliance level 70 out of dustballs.  Fortunately, she just about had enough cash on her still to cash in on dual specs.

One thing I realised immediately in instance runs. Lower level healers have very limited mana pools and mana regen compared to my comfortably overgeared resto druid. And you know what? I’m enjoying the challenge immensely. The lower level instances are everything that the zergfest 80 heroics are not.

So far I’ve somehow gotten my way through Utgarde Keep (which was actually really tough to heal, or maybe that was just the tank) and Nexus (which was much more manageable). Shadow is much improved since I last tried it, and priests still feel to me like the Rolls Royce of WoW healers to actually play. (ie. smooth, well engineered, runs like a dream once you get it onto the road.)

I’m quite sure that it is the challenge of the lower level instances on a non-overgeared toon which is making them interesting to me at the moment. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts. Also, thumbs up to the Howling Fjord quests for Alliance, they’ve been good fun so far.

Blast from the Past

blastfromthepast

Speaking of my old priestess, I dug out this ancient screenshot.

I’m sure any old hands won’t have any trouble identifying where she is, what she’s doing, and … maybe even what robe and staff she is using. They were iconic in their day.

You can even see that I have friendly nameplates turned on to help with healing since I wasn’t in a group or raid at the time. Ah, those were the days.

5 Things I do not hate about the Coliseum

This is the first week in which I’ve run the Coliseum three times, which feels like a lot given that I’m not especially fond of the place. Amusingly, none of those raids involved hard modes, as we simply don’t have enough interested people to form two 10 man hard mode raids and I was apparently non-optimal (which I don’t agree with but I don’t actually like the Coliseum so who cares?)

I am not one to fret about other people beating the same content as me, but you can tell there’s something off with the tuning when my Naxx-10 geared alt can run it and come top of the healing meters. Just saying. It is both too easy and undertuned on 10 man, so there.

In the spirit of positive thinking, I’m listing some things that I like about the current raid instance. There will be another matching post about things I do hate, it will be rather longer.

All Takes Place in One Room

The Coliseum raid is set up like an arena. Players stand in the arena, and a succession of raid bosses get shoved in through the front gate for our killing pleasure. Unfortunately the Coliseum does not feature any of the really good parts of an arena such as being able to place side bets on the bosses, or gouts of blood and people sustaining really horrific injuries.

I don’t find the single room, bosses-come-to-you model to be an issue. It’s a change of pace, and makes the place rather dull from an exploration point of view, but one slightly different raid setup in an expansion isn’t worth fussing about. It also means that there is an explanation for why the raid bosses are turning up, rather than having them all standing around in rooms on their own waiting for us. Granted, it is a fucking stupid explanation (so, the Argent Tournament chaps collected all these really tough raid bosses and decided to make a three ring circus out of things…) but I’ll take my ongoing narrative as I can get it.

I realise that epic storytelling is not what one needs expect of raid instances but we can do better than “You enter a 10’x10’ room. A raid boss is standing in the middle of it.” Blizzard is trying to do this better I think – Ulduar does have explanations for the placement of many of the bosses at least  — but it’s a constant struggle. As I say, at least the Coliseum framework provides a kind of explanation.

I also like that we can see some of the bosses outside, either tethered around the tournament area or in cut scenes as they are captured. It is in fact quite a neat way to let non-raiders (if there are any left) get a sight of the raid bosses, dull as they may be.

And then the floor fell in

I am an absolute sucker for having the environment change around us as a result of things we have done (even if ‘things we have done’ just means setting off the next boss encounter). Call me shallow but I like it when the floor caves in and everyone goes tumbling down into the depths. Collapsing floors were the saving grace of the Malygos encounter and they entertain me here as well.

Anub’Arak

The last fight in the raid instance is rather more interesting than the rest. It features a few interesting twists on old mechanics – you have to run /into/ the patches of ice instead of away from them. We saw that mechanic used on Vezax but everything is always better when there are spikes involved, especially giant spikes that come out of the ground and try to stab people.

I also rather like the phase 3 mechanic in which healers have to try to keep the raid on about half health rather than healing everyone up to full. I think that’s a more interesting healing challenge than normal raid fights, on paper at least.

Also Anub has a really sexy voice. After having to listen to Tirion Fordring and the Lich King, both of whom have me reaching for my earplugs, I’ll settle for my velvet voiced beetle buddy. And when I say buddy, I mean undead giant beetle who is trying to kill me and my 24 closest friends due to being brainwashed by a fat necromancer.

Spikes on Tier 9

Did you know that there are three different ways to get hold of tier 9 gear at the moment? There’s the pure badge version, the 25 man normal token version, and the heroic token version. We’re all going to be in T9 whether we like it or not.

But at least it has spikes.

Easy Alt Gearing

One nice thing about the (lack of) difficulty is that it actually is easy again to put a raid together, bringing a couple of non-raiders and undergeared alts and still have everyone get something that is currently useful for them (ie. badges). I’m all for MMOs making it easy for people to play together.

This weekend I ran a raid along those lines. In some ways it was challenging to have such low dps but I also get a sense of achievement as a raid leader from being able to chivvy everyone through it in such a way that the overgeared guys don’t get too bored, the undergeared guys don’t feel overwhelmed, we don’t wipe more than once (faction champs, my fault for not having one of the healers switch to dps on the first attempt), and everyone gets something that they want – either loot or badges.

Ulduar was a bit too long and difficult to make that feasible. As a player, I did love Ulduar. As someone who wants to include non-raiding friends, Coliseum is relatively quick, easy, and accessible.

Your turn now. Say something nice about the Coliseum :)

I have to play it again on hard mode?

casablanca

There are two types of gamer in the world. Those who want to play through a game again on a harder mode after they’ve finished it, and those who don’t.

This is an issue that many players will now be facing in WoW. The latest raid instance has not posed a major challenge in normal mode, even to casual raid groups. But the question is: Do we want to play it again, with shorter enrage timers, more adds, and the raid taking more damage all round? If the answer is no, then Blizzard’s flagship is looking thin on content at the moment.

Oh, there is plenty to do in WoW. It’s just that at this stage in the expansion, players who were in from the start have generally already done as much as they wanted of the older stuff. Alts are a possibility, but time to level and gear up is faster than ever, especially if you use heirlooms and xp via PvP (apparently Alterac Valley is where the big xp gains are to be made). We are also now into the ‘holiday season,’ with Brewfest, Hallow’s End, and WinterVeil leading up to the end of the year, and there are new holidays this year also  (Day of the Dead, something to do with pilgrims and turkeys).

They’ve successfully channelled more players into the raid game, and now we see where that is leading. Because when the raid game is ‘finished,’ what is there to do while waiting for the next raid? The gap in difficulty between normal and hard mode Coliseum is high — a raid which can muster enough dps to clear the normal mode might hit a brickwall on the first encounter of the heroic version.

There will be plenty of content in Icecrown whenever patch 3.3 comes out, but that probably won’t be for months. If you’re playing WoW, how are you keeping yourself amused at the moment?

Twinks, Heirlooms, and Morality

Yup, it’s a morality tale for Friday.

Gordon opines that twinking is a form of cheating in his We Fly Spitfires blog. His reasoning is that supplying other characters with cash or equipment is not in the spirit of MMOs. Nope, they are like the American Frontier – you go in with nothing but the sweat on your brow and the shirt on your back and see who has the guts, luck and moxie to live off the land (ie. the low level mob drops). Also it drives up the prices of low level gear and gives experienced players an extra advantage over newbies.

Andrew rebutts this at Of Teeth and Claws, and asserts every player’s right to twink out their alts. He comments that aside from the fact that anyone can twink an alt, it’s also a metagame that a lot of people enjoy.

It’s hard to really argue that supplying alts with gear and cash is against the spirit of the game, when the game lets you do it. People like treating their new alts like spoiled children with lavish gifts and treats. Not only that but sending along some good items and gold adds  interesting replay value to alts – you can power through all the quests that were really annoying when you did it the first time, see how the class plays at low level when it’s well geared, for example. And we love to do it.

I’ve also played games where you couldn’t easily send money and gear between alts and we all found ways around it. Get a trusted friend to hold the items while you swap alts and then trade them back to you. Get a second account. Drop items on the floor and quickly relog so that the alt can grab them before they disappear.

Is it cheating? Nope. Although it does have the effect that newbies have a much rougher game experience than alts. We can call this the school of hard knocks. At least everyone had to do it once.

Twinking for PvP is an altogether more interesting metagame. MMOs aren’t usually designed to be balanced below the level cap, you’re intended to make your way through the levels and then do whatever it is that the devs have planned for max level characters. (Or roll another alt if it’s CoH.) So if players choose to make a project out of finding out how powerful a low level alt can become for use in level capped battlegrounds, it’s an interesting challenge. It could involve farming for drops, buying expensive items and enchants, getting boosts through instances and finding clever ways around game mechanics that weren’t really designed to be given out at those levels. And the rewards? Becoming a virtual god amongst men when fighting non-twinks.

Because the game isn’t balanced at low level, twinks can be monstrously powerful in comparison to new players at the same level. I’ve fought twinked out hunters in Warsong Gulch at level 19 whose pets had more health than my alts. It may not be cheating, but it doesn’t entirely feel fair either. At that point you hope that your team has as many twinks on it as the other side so they can keep each other occupied.

What I do like about twinking is that it feels anarchic, as though you’re somehow fighting The Man by insisting on playing the game by your own rules. It’s also controversial and guaranteed to stir people up – no one enjoys a PvP fight where they literally don’t have a chance.

But is it really the twinks who are to blame for that, or the game design that lets gear give such a huge advantage?

How Heirlooms are changing the twinking game

Heirloom items are the new big thing for alts in WoW with this expansion. They are bound to the account not the character, their stats scale with you as you level from 1-80, and they are roughly equivalent to good blue items of their level at all times. You can buy them either with daily quest rewards from the Argent Tournament, with badges that  you get from running heroic instances, or with the tokens that you get from PvP in Lake Wintergrasp (for the PvP heirlooms).

That has both encouraged twinks and taken the wind out of the market at the same time. No one pays high prices for the old favourite twink weapons any more, they just use heirlooms. There is some grinding involved to get the tokens together but once you have, you can just keep passing the gear from twink to twink. All your alts who use the heirlooms are effectively twinked.

So at this point, it’s really hard to argue that passing nice stuff to your alts isn’t an accepted part of the game, at least in WoW. And PvP twinks can face off against other PvP twinks in battlegrounds by turning their xp off. Again, hard to argue that it isn’t now an accepted part of the game.

I do wonder if some of the charm and challenge of twinking has gone from the game with the introduction of the heirlooms – specifically designed for twinking alts and relatively easily available to max level characters. Don’t get me wrong, I like the heirlooms and I think they’re an interesting experiment in removing gear dependence completely in the levelling game while leaving it in endgame. They also nudge endgame players towards alting as an alternative to raiding or PvP.

More than ever, the new player is disadvantaged in PvP. And not only the actual newbie, but anyone who rerolls on a different server where they have no high level sugar daddy to feed them gold and heirlooms.

But guess what, for an immodest RL fee to swap servers (and possibly factions too), an alt from the same server as your high level character can wing its way to the new guy, bearing gifts of heirlooms from afar. There’s going to be a lot of money in this for Blizzard if they don’t do the decent thing and implement cross-server mail.

A lot of people will pay for the fun and convenience of battleground twinkage and faster, smoother levelling. And the old twink playstyle of working out how best to pimp a lot level alt may be gone forever – because the answer will always be ‘use heirlooms’.

This one’s a keeper

I have noticed that in WoW, if I start a new alt and get a bag to drop for it before hitting the end of the newbie zone, I think twice before deleting it. Because clearly that character was ‘meant to be’.

Do you think that some alts are luckier than others? Or do you have any personal superstitions that tell you early on if a character is a ‘keeper’?

Links for the Summer’s end

Hope you all are having a good weekend. It actually isn’t raining here which is astounding because it is both August Bank Holiday and Festival weekend (I’m not going this year but can hear it from my house).

  1. Peter Molyneaux reckons that Americans find it harder to play evil characters than Europeans or Japanese. Write up via The Escapist and Game Set Watch.
  2. Brian Crecente@Kotaku enjoyed trying Diablo III’s witch doctor at Gamescom, but wonders how much of that is down to nostalgia. Do we like games because they’re good or because they remind us of other games we used to like?
  3. Game by Night has some good advice for avoiding keyloggers, and how to get rid of them if you do pick one up.
  4. Kinless is getting conflicted signals from Blizzard. On the one hand they encourage alts (heirloom gear, new classes) but on the other hand … where are the new character slots? Do Blizzard love alts or hate them?
  5. There are a few games in open beta at the moment. Julian@Kill Ten Rats asks whether Open Betas really work as beta tests.
  6. Rohan ponders why players hate the new faction leaders in WoW so much – Garrosh and Varian are not well liked.
  7. Romantic subplots in games like Mass Effect and KOTOR are not without their critics. I have said before that it felt to me like ‘select the right options and get the girl’. Kotaku points to an article on gamecritic.com by Alex Raymond who argues that games present a model where sex is given out as a reward (just like epics), not shown as part of an ongoing relationship.
  8. G Christopher Williams at Popmatters asks why it’s always more fun to kill Nazis, and whether it matters.
  9. Runeforge Gossip has some advice for anyone who wants him to respond to their LFG(uild) posts.
  10. That’s a Terrible Idea unearth the rotting corpse of the GNS model and ask how we can get more simulationism in our MMOs. How can we focus more on immersion and the experience of being a ((insert race/class/etc here)) and less on achievements and rewards?
  11. Tobold gets some interactive drama going with his readers, otherwise known as the Is he? (Gevlon) or Isn’t he? dance. Personally I’m so happy to get any comments at all that I’m not inclined to mess with people’s heads just for the sake of it … or am I?

Blogs about new games

There were a lot of announcements about new games during cons recently, and we’re not done yet. If you want to follow the news about an upcoming  game, why not subscribe to one of the blogs and let someone else do the work? :)

Naxxramas Revisited

I’ve been back to Naxxramas a couple of times this week. Time has dulled the pain of over-exposure — I was really quite bored of the place after having run it twice a week (once on 10 man, once on 25 man) for a few months. Despite the sub-par graphics, I’m quite fond of the old instance. It does have a good variety of encounters, even if the tuning was never quite right.

The biggest flaw to my mind is that it’s far too easy to brute-force the Spider Wing. But by doing that you lose the most interesting parts of Anub’Rekhan and Faerlina as boss fights (what’s the point of Faerlina if you don’t have to mind control and sacrifice the adds?). The second biggest flaw is that there are too many bosses to clear in a 3 hour raid unless you are all being very hardcore/ disciplined about it, which doesn’t happen even in successful PUGs. A smaller raid instance or a set of winged instances would have been more manageable.

I wouldn’t say I’m overgeared, it’s just undertuned

My first Naxx rerun was in a raid that a friend in the raid group organised for alts and new level 80s. She’s very concerned that they don’t have much of a chance to learn how to play their characters in raids, especially some of the (female) players who are nervous of being shouted at in PUGs. We’d hoped to have enough signups to run a 25 man raid but in the event we only had enough to run with 10.

Although I do have a couple of level 80 alts who could have gone, I offered to bring Spinks to help them out. I doubt there’s anything I need from Naxx-10 even as offspec but I eyed the signups and figured they’d have a much better shot with at least one (over) geared tank. Also, I suspect seeing my name on the signup list made them all feel more comfortable about the run.

The raid was a moderate success. We got the two easiest wings down, and a few people learned the fights who had never seen them before. A new raid leader had a chance to order people around and see bosses die. DPS was generally low, and I’m grateful they didn’t want to go on to the Construct wing as I don’t think we could have taken Patchwerk. So although many people would consider that raid a failure, most of the players had their expectations met. And some of the fights were still exciting — they may have been exciting because people weren’t playing especially well but we still had some fun skin-of-the-teeth kills.

I fear there isn’t really much you can do for people who want to learn to raid but are nervous of PUGs and heroics and mixing with people they don’t know. There comes a point at which you can only learn through practice and these things aren’t really designed as fun social experiences for nervous raiders. Plus a lot of people in the raid group really are burned out on Naxx and won’t want to spend time there when there are other things they can do which would be more beneficial to their characters.

I do think it’s possible to teach nervous players to raid based on one raid per week, and I won’t be at all surprised if dps improves next time. But it’s a slow process and it really isn’t guaranteed that other players will be as patient as the newbies might need. They could help themselves a lot by getting over the PUGphobia.

And then there’s the raid I walked out of due to sexist quips …

I swear I have a pretty good tolerance for off-colour humour among gamers. I can sit back quietly and let them have their fun even if I don’t have anything to add. But what I don’t have is any tolerance for sexist, racist, or homophobic jabs. Not funny. And I will tell people if I’m not amused. And if they persist then I’ll walk. I figure you get one chance to realise ‘wait, someone here is uncomfortable with this’ and if you don’t take it then I’m so very gone. And if I’m one of your healers then you may be very stuffed.

So. The second Naxx raid was a 10 man PUG that I hopped into on my resto druid. Again there aren’t really many drops I need from Naxx-10 but I’m still at the stage with that alt where I figure I could use the practice. One of my friends was there too, also healing with her paladin. Unfortunately she had a power outage near the beginning so they had to replace her.

And it was a good PUG. People were chatty, we cleared through the Spider wing smoothly and then the Plague wing as well. It was only after we killed Patchwerk that things started to fray a bit at the seams. One of the holy paladins flew into a rage when one of the moonkins asked why he was rolling on spellpower leather which had spirit on it and left. (This boggled me, because the piece might still have been an upgrade for him but if so all he had to do was say so and I don’t think anyone would have minded if he’d taken it.)

But fortunately my friend had her power restored at this point so we invited her back. It was actually more amusing than this because she’d only just logged back on at the time and had just paged me to say how sad she was to have missed the run. So I’m like, ‘Hey, do you want to come back then? Our holydin just flipped out over loot.’

So we’re trucking on through the Construct wing. The last two bosses here have tended to be the skill checks for pick up Naxx groups. No one ever wants to kite the zombies at Gluth and Thaddius continues to confound PUGs (it may be his role in undeath). After a second wipe on Gluth, our MT was getting grumpy. And the sexist jokes were coming out. I was chatting privately to my friend about this and we were both agreeing that neither of us really needed the Naxx loot and didn’t really see a reason to stand for it. So after one warning, which he ignored, we apologised to the raid and left.

I was paged about 10 minutes later by one of the raid, saying that they’d booted him and would we be willing to come back. Since they’d been nice enough people (and competent too) that’s what we did. Awesome guildies were nice enough to agree to come fill in the other spare spots (a dps had to leave for RL reasons too) and we rocked through the Military wing. By that time, people were tired and wanting to go eat so we called it.

And the bonus? One of the nice players contacted my friend later, asking how she could apply to join our guild (and as it happens, I know it was a female player and she was attracted by the fact we’d no tolerance for the sexist guy and we’d been able to bring other friendly guildies in to finish the run). Now let me tell you, any PUG in which you get the chance to recruit a friendly, competent player is in no way a waste of time … Also, dps shaman! :)

The other interesting side-fact was the class makeup of that 10 man PUG. Three druids, two paladins, three shamans, two deathknights. It’s an interesting view into what alts people are playing at the moment.