Harnessing the desire to show off in front of noobs

If there is one thing that all human beings share, it’s the desire to show off in front of other people. If we’ve picked up useful skills, knowledge, gear, or achievements, they just seem more meaningful after they have been paraded in front of other people. We imagine the awed silence as the pecking order rearranges itself around us — just as well we imagine it because the actual reaction may be less enthusiastic.

For all that, this happens any time a group of people with similar interests get together. We showed off in front of each other in school, our parents showed off in front of each other at parent-teacher meetings, we show off at work, we show off in our hobby groups, we show off in our games. It isn’t always a negative trait. In fact, one way to show someone else that you know more than they do is to offer to help them.

I ran a couple of PUGs this week and I was thinking about this phenomenon.

At this phase of my WoW playing, I’m way overgeared and experienced to run heroics. They are trivial. There is no challenge there that really interests me. They’re just ‘stuff to do to get badges’, as easy as falling off a log. And sometimes it makes the runs more interesting if I get to show off a bit, which means running with people who aren’t as well geared and showing them how much easier things get with a really good tank.

So with that as background, here’s how my PUGs went.

In which I take a day off from tanking

I was knocking around Dalaran late in the evening, feeling as though I ought to have a crack at the daily instance (because it was Violet Hold and was located approximately 30s from where I was standing) but also feeling too lazy to put a group together. So I hopped onto LFG and immediately heard someone asking for dps for that instance.

I thought – fine, I have a dps spec. So I paged the guy, who was another warrior. He asked about my stats. I said ‘It’s violet hold heroic.’ (this implies ‘don’t be stupid’).  He laughed and invited me. We rolled into the instance and things didn’t go so well. The tank wasn’t familiar with the minibosses we randomly were assigned so we wiped a couple of times on the ethereal boss. I normally don’t step in when someone else is tanking, it just seems rude. But after two of the mouthier dps split, I suggested I’d grab a couple of guildies and maybe I would tank and he could dps so he could see how to kite the boss around the top balcony.

In a vision from bizarro world, it turns out that he had awesome dps gear and had only been tanking to get the badges (which is funny because I have great tanking gear and had been dpsing in my offspec for the same reason). Much hilarity was had and we knocked out the instance fairly swiftly after that.

In which easy mode is not that easy

The second instance group wasn’t actually a PUG although it felt like one in some ways. I was invited to come tank the daily heroic by a guildie and noticed that it was a guild group, but also contained two of our less experienced/ competent/ geared dps. (Fortunately not THAT GUY who always grabs aggro off the tank in every instance or raid or city or … actually any time he’s even in the same zone;  I suspect every guild has a version of their own. If you are THAT GUY, don’t take this personally but all the tanks hate you and try to avoid grouping with you whenever they can.)

So we pick up a healer who is someone’s inexperienced alt and head off to the Halls of Lightning. I eye the group and decide that in order to get a smooth run, we won’t try anything fancy. The last member of the group, who is a raider, asks if we can get the achievement on the first boss. I say no, and whisper him to explain that I don’t think the group will handle it well. He doesn’t agree but goes with me anyway.

All goes well. A few rooms further in, after various people have pulled adds with their arses or forgotten to turn off growl, he whispers me again to say that I am a tanking goddess and he should have had himself flayed with knotted ropes for ever thinking to disagree with my judgement. OK, he actually said ‘lol I see what you mean.’ But that’s what he meant.

The point of this is not to have a go at my guildies, who are nice people who pay attention and just happen not to play as much or as hardcore. What actually happened is that we had a clear run through the instance, everyone got their badges, and we did (somehow?) manage to get the speed kill on Loken for the achievement at the end despite the fact that two of the dps were showing lower on the damage meters than I was.

Nope. My point is that regardless of how uber I am, I cannot solo that instance. Taking less hardcore players along cost us a few minutes (I’ll say we could maaaybe have saved 15 mins if we had speed pulled HoL with a geared group, because I paused to explain the boss fights) and some achievements that no one cared about. That was the only cost.

There’s really no reason to be nasty about people’s gear for heroics. Even if someone is low on the damage meters, they’re still helping you get badges. And if you decide to spend 15 mins waiting around in chat to find better geared people then congratulations, you probably would have got through it at about the same time if you’d taken the first guys in the list.

On another note, I totally nailed the annoying HoL pull with the two runecasters. I was quite proud. No one else probably appreciated it. But I think this does prove the point that in games, just as in life, by the time you have the experience to ace all the challenges, you probably don’t need it any more.

Why do I always miss the good raids?

We had another surprisingly good week in 25-man raids. On Wednesday after the reset the raid leaders scheduled us up for the one wing in Naxxramas that we hadn’t attempted yet….

You’re in the army now!

The military wing is notable for its execution fights and it probably says a lot about our raid and it’s general (lack of) coordination that the RLs left this one till last. When I say execution fights, I mean encounters that aren’t as gear dependent as they are ‘people knowing what to do’ dependent.

The first boss is a gimmick fight, and the gimmick is that no mere player can tank him. He has to be tanked by one of his adds, and this has to happen via players casting mind control which is a priest spell. He’s also notable for me personally in that I used to play an alliance priest back in the days of yore and I was one of the mind controllers on this fight and boy did I hate it. Every week I would say to my class leader afterwards, ‘I’m never doing this again.” And he’d say, “Same time next week then.” I think it was having 38 other people yelling at me on voicechat that did it, even when we were doing it relatively smoothly.

He’s a LOT easier now.

After a few wipes our priests got the hang of it and he hit the deck. I was on dps duties (fear my 1.4k protection dps, even despite having spent some badges to get a new dpsish trinket and necklace!) for this one, which at least gives everyone else some kind of benchmark. I look at it this way: someone has to be at the bottom of the damage meters. And I guess at least I have room to improve.

Then we moved on to Gothik the Harvester (otherwise known as ‘that git with the beard’), which is a fight I think I’m going to really enjoy once we’ve done it a few more times. The raid splits into two and moves into two different rooms, live side which is a boring room and dead side which is a boring room with piles of bones in it. When the encounter starts you get a few minutes of increasing numbers of adds pouring into the live side where we (attempt to) tank and kill them … and once dead they appear at the dead side where the other guys have to do the same.

It gets increasingly frenetic until you get to phase two where the boss appears and teleports around a bit and then finally the raid gets to join together again and he dies shortly afterwards. I was tanking the live side and the two paladin tanks on the dead side. We had another couple of wipes here and eventually stuck a feral on backup duty with me, and then we got him! I think next time I’ll ignore the little adds and just focus on the tougher ones, and try to get the rest of the guys to stand further back. Anyhow, I think I can do it better but hey, he died. I thought it was a pretty fun fight.

We then moved on to The Four Horsemen which was a fiendishly complicated and technical encounter back in the day. I know it’s supposed tobe a lot easier now. In essence there are 4 bosses which need to be tanked in 4 different corners, and there’s some dancing around and tanks have to swap bosses and so on. We wiped a few times trying to get the pull right — it’s not supposed to be that hard but the guys on the back bosses weren’t seeming to pick them up properly — and then hit end of raid time and called it.

Two new bosses and a bit of learning time on a third, not too bad. I also distinguished myself with an inane number of accidental trash pulls. I think the best was when I had lined a mob up to shoot and instead I hit the charge button (ie. so instead of shooting it, I charged into the pack). The fact that none of these mad pulls wiped the group shows that a) people are reasonably on their toes and b) Naxx trash is NOT what it used to be.

Another time, same as the first

Last night I was out and the guys went back in and … cleared all the bosses we’d killed last week. So that’s spider wing, plague wing, and first two bosses of the construct wing. There was one plate-wearing tank there so naturally loads of tanking gear dropped and he got almost totally outfitted without having to bid more than minimum DKP on any item.

I’m dead proud of them all, but I have to steel myself to log in now because he is that guy who will spend all of this week boasting about his stats and copy/pasting his new purples to guild chat. I wouldn’t mind but he also got geared up in a single Karazhan run in the last expansion!

There must be a downside to being ultra-lucky with drops and lack of competition but I can’t see what it is. And naturally if we’d scheduled the runs in the opposite order, I would be bitching about missing the first kills instead ;)

In which I lead a raid

Over last weekend, we also took out Sartharion. Because he’s a fairly easy fight, the RLs decided to use this as an opportunity to rotate a few people into the raid who aren’t really geared for Naxxramas yet but are keen to raid. We one shotted the dragon, but it was a drawn out messy kill and I personally cannot wait until paladins get a regular taunt next patch (hopefully next week) because one of ours kept taunting the boss off me, which is annoying.

After this, I organised a 10 man raid to the same boss. It is definitely weird having the encounters available on both 10 and 25 man mode, but was quite fun to go in with a few guildies and trash him with feeling for being such a pain earlier. Had compliments on my raid leading which amuses me because I thought I was being laconic to the point of comatoseness, plus its hard to really give useful instructions with a dragon in your face.

This week’s bitching in raid forums

The main discussion this week was about DKP. I can’t stand DKP, its only redeeming factor in my eyes is that it makes life easier for the raid leaders than the alternative. So this week we were discussing some new tweak someone thought up to our scheme where when you bid you have to also say if it’s a major or minor upgrade for you.

I personally think this is dumb. Clearly if it’s a major upgrade you’ll just bid more because it will be worth more to you? Unless you are that guy who lucks out and gets everything for min bid but I’m not bitter.