Category Archives: Anelf’s ramblings

GMFD – Handling a Guild Breakup

Wow! I really didn’t think I’d get the chance to write this particular article quite so soon. Last week was a real rollercoaster ride for Tin and Anelf.

Yup – CIPHER has been hit squarely in the face by the drama handbag.

So today – in possibly our last Guild Mastery for Dummies post – I’ll talk about a few important lessons on the less pleasurable aspects of guild mastery. Hopefully our learning these lessons the hard way will mean someone else doesn’t have to. If nothing else, this should be an amusing story for those of you who’ve been following CIPHER’s progress 🙂 .

Here are the lessons:

  • Lesson #1: Your new guild is most at risk when you’re offline.
  • Lesson #2: The first you’ll know a guildie was planning to leave is when he’s already left.
  • Lesson #3: Don’t expect recognition for your efforts as a guild master.
  • Lesson #4: Be quick to sideline or remove drama queens.
  • To be fair, not everyone behaves in the way I describe below. But these lessons are taken from behavior I’ve seen and heard of in other guilds as well, so I know they are pretty common.

    Lesson #1: Your new guild is most at risk when you’re offline.

    There’s not really much you can do about this as a guild master. You can’t stay online all the time. Its not that things happen while you’re away, its just that people will often wait until you’re offline to act because they don’t want to have to explain themselves to you. Other times, its just that a small drama snowballs because you’re not around to handle it. And if someone is acting maliciously against your guild (e.g. poaching your members) then an absence of even just a few days can be disastrous.

    Our rollercoaster week started with a high. We were on to Hodir on only our second Ulduar run. We’d not downed him, but I could see how we could improve our coordination (particularly healing through the Frozen Blows) to get him next week.

    But Tin and I had some real life engagements to take care of so we didn’t login between Tuesday evening and Friday evening. That’s the longest period (3 days) we’ve both been offline since we took over organizing raids for our old guild back in January. But we have a mature guild, so we knew they could manage without us for just three days.

    We couldn’t have been more wrong.

    We logged on Friday evening ready to start organizing that night’s raid. There were surprisingly few people online. Tin checked the guild activity log. Seven of our 16 raiders had left. We did a /who on the leavers – those online were all in the same guild and in the middle of a Naxxramas run.

    Lesson #2: The first you’ll know a guildie was planning to leave is when he’s already left.

    People don’t like confrontation. You normally have to explain your actions to others in real life, but in a game you can avoid any unpleasantness for yourself by just cutting and running. If the people you dumped get upset with you, you can always put them on ignore.

    In addition to this, many people will freely complain to their friends that they’re unhappy with something in the guild, but they won’t talk to the people who can do something about it – the guildmaster or officers.

    In Soldiers of Fortune, we had an officer who bragged to our guildmaster that he knew someone in the guild was unhappy but wouldn’t tell him who. He wasn’t an officer for long after that.

    The result is that most people who leave your guild will simply /gquit without saying a word. Often they’ll wait until you’re offline before they do it.  The strange thing is that even people who have been very friendly with their guildmates will do this. Its like flicking a switch to turn off those old friendships to make room for new ones.

    Looking at this from the other side, if you’re going to leave a guild then talk to the guildmaster before you /gquit. If you’re polite about it then you’ll go away on good terms. You never know when your paths might cross again, and its stupid to make enemies of your former guildmates when you don’t need to.

    And if you want to leave because you’re unhappy, tell an officer why you’re unhappy – they may be able to sort it out for you.

    Of the seven people who left the guild, just one of them sent us an in-game mail. He said in his note that he’d been pugging during the day with a larger raiding guild for a while, and had decided to join them because they could offer him faster progression.

    So he’d been thinking about leaving for some time. And it seems he’d been discussing this with at least two of the other people who left.

    If he’d discussed it with us we’d have seen if we could change our raid or arrange a raiding alliance to accommodate his needs. If we couldn’t do that we’d at least have wished him well and added him to our friends list.

    Although we wouldn’t have wished him well if we knew he was going to poach half our raid 🙂 .

    Lesson #3: Don’t expect recognition for your efforts as a guild master.

    When someone decides to leave your guild – especially if they’re leaving because they think they can progress faster elsewhere – they will often feel guilty for letting you down. No-one wants to feel bad about themselves, so its natural to invent reasons why you never really liked the people you’re leaving in the first place – putting together several imagined slights and building them into a huge grudge. This will often build up over time – once you’ve seen it a few times you can spot the pattern.

    As a result, people who leave will be thinking about all the things you didn’t do for them, and not about  everything you did do for them.

    Don’t become a guild master if you want people to be thankful for your work in organizing their gaming experience – especially the people who move on. Do it because it satisfies your own needs.

    Tin and I started organizing raids for our old guild because we wanted to raid and no-one else in the guild was stepping up to organize it. We started CIPHER because we wanted to continue raiding, and also create a home for our raiding friends after our old guild wound down. We also wanted to see what running a guild felt like. We didn’t expect any plaudits for this, but even so …

    The guy who sent the note was someone we’d played with for a year. He would ask Tin for advice for his hunter alt almost every week. Two of the other leavers have been with us for about 8 months. We’d organized their raids for them every week during that period – usually two or three nights a week. At least this one guy sent a note. These others said nothing at all.

    This isn’t very unusual behavior. I now understand why Entrigan (our old guild leader) would get so mad at people who /gquit without a word. It feels much more personal when you’re the guild master.

    Lesson #4: Be quick to sideline or remove drama queens

    If you see someone creating small dramas, you can be sure they’ll eventually create a big one if you give them enough time. If you want to avoid those big dramas, you need to act decisively when the small ones come along. This can be hard because you might be dealing with someone you consider a friend, or their departure may be a temporary setback for the guild.

    – If the drama queen isn’t important to the guild, get rid of them as quickly as you can.

    – If the drama queen is in a key position in the guild, find a way to remove them from that position.

    – If the drama queen has some close friends who you think would leave with them, be very quick to introduce redundancy into those raid positions (and then /gkick the queen 😉 ).

    Two of the people who left us had been our main recruiters, and most of their recruits (and some of those who joined us from our old guild) were their friends from a previous guild they’d been in. That accounts for the other four people who left.

    These two had already caused drama in the guild. We didn’t act quickly because  we considered them friends. However, that friendship had started to cool when we refused to take their side in a drama they created over a loot roll.

    We knew there was a significant risk that they’d leave and take their old friends with them. But we were too slow to recruit enough other raiders to mitigate that risk. That was a huge mistake on our part. This being our first raiding guild, we failed to realize the importance of pugging as a recruiting tool. We were doing everything we could to run all-guild raids, so we didn’t have to rely on the randomness of pugs.

    Such is life 😀 .

    So there we have it. Four important lessons learned, and CIPHER no longer a viable raiding guild.

    What next?

    First I have to finish counting to ten. (I’m counting really slowly 🙂 ). Then we’ll decide whether to build again or simply move to a larger raiding guild and let someone else organize raids for us for a change. In some ways, the timing of all this is quite fortunate. Tin and I have relatives visiting from abroad for the next three weeks, so it gives us ample non-playing time to decide what comes next.


    And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those CIPHER members who have stuck with us. (No roll-call – you know who you are 😀 ). Knowing we’re going to be offline for a while, we made sure our remaining guildies knew what had happened and told them they have our blessing if they want to move on to continue their raiding. Tin and I have been very touched by their support.

    A final GMFD lesson is that some online friendships really do mean something – and its when things aren’t running so smoothly that you find out who those friends are 🙂 .


    The truth about Druid Bear Form

    Blizzard launched the new Druid Feral forms with a big fanfare, and Druid bloggers have been proudly posting pictures of these new forms in lots of heroic poses. I agree that they do look good from the front. But when you play a Druid, you rarely see the front view – you spend hours staring at the back end.

    I’m sorry to be the one to reveal the truth about the Emperor’s New Clothes, but from the back the new form looks like a badger (The British kind, not the American kind). Even worse. If you have white hair, your Bear Form looks like a shaved badger.

    A badger - front view

    A badger - front view

    A shaved badger - rear view

    A shaved badger - rear view

    I really hope when they revamp Tree Form that it won’t make me look like a vegetable.

    The new Druid treeform skin?

    The new Druid treeform skin?

    Anelf’s Resto Druid Naxx-10 Guide

    Here’s a quick summary page listing all my Naxx guides in one place.

    Gear Guides

    Head, Shoulders, Chest, Pants, Feet, Wrists, Hands, Back

    Neck, Finger, Trinkets, Idols, One-Handed Weapons, Off-Hands

    Item enhancements (enchants, spellthreads etc)

    Healing Guides

    Arachnid Quarter

    Plague Quarter

    Construct Quarter

    Military Quarter

    Frostwyrm Lair

    Noticed some gear I missed or know a healing trick I overlooked? Please add your own suggestions, tips and tricks as comments to the relevant post.

    The fallacy of the DPS meter

    “What’s your DPS?”

    “Really? That’s pretty good”.

    “Is that buffed or unbuffed? On a test dummy, in a boss fight, on trash, or averaged over a run? In a 5-man, 10-man, or 25-man?”

    Its surprising how many players are completely side-swiped by those questions. I like to imagine the look on their face that accompanies the silence in chat as those little-used cogs at the back of their brain grind slowly to life. In some cases they’d really not thought about it. In others its the realization that quoting their highest ever DPS figure – achieved once while AoEing 20 trash mobs together – isn’t going to work this time.

    I know the whole DPS Meter topic has been discussed before in a number of blogs. But I was reminded of this again recently, on a rare pug excursion, where some of the raiders were discussing the recount data and clearly weren’t making a distinction between the AoE trash pulls and the boss fights. They were just starting Recount at the beginning of the run and watching the DPS unfold.

    The first rule of DPS Meters: don’t compare apples to oranges.

    Don’t choose the wrong raider because one guy told you his fully buffed DPS when being run through a 25-man instance and the other was quoting the number he’d achieved on a boss target dummy after hours of refining his rotations.

    We’ve all seen that guy who tops the DPS meter for the raid, yet when you analyze the boss fight data he seems to do surprisingly little damage. You look him up on the Armory and find he’s deliberately specced to maximize AoE damage and/or is massively under hit cap. Or you watch him in the boss fight and realize that the only way he knows to DPS is to stand dead still spamming one or two abilities. Any requirement to move and his DPS drops to the bottom of the list.

    The distinction between AoE DPS and boss DPS is of particular importance to Hunters right now. The recent nerfs to Volley have significantly reduced their AOE damage, yet Hunters remain one of the best single-target DPS classes in the game. How many raid organizers are penalizing their best boss killers because they’re misreading the DPS charts?

    The second rule of DPS Meters: Use DPS in context.

    If you have a fight that involves lots of AoE, then bring the players and classes who have the best AoE abilities. But if you’re only AoEing trash (which is what normally happens in a raid), then you’ll still kill the trash with slightly lower AoE DPS. That high AoE DPS team may struggle on the boss if they’ve sacrificed all their +Hit for +Damage. You want the people who are geared for the boss fights.

    And, of course, DPS isn’t even the best measure to use. Its just the most convenient. What really counts is your ability to do damage, so you should be watching the amount of damage a player lays down in a fight. But, of course, if you say to someone “I can do 1million damage” they’ll quite rightly put you on their ‘Total Loony’ list. That’s why DPS is the lingua franca of damage dealing ability outside the instance, but total damage is the language of love inside it.

    Here’s a silly example. I took Anelf into a Heroic last week specced as DPS (my first time DPSing in a proper instance since I was level 69 – it was fun 🙂 ). On the first pull, the tank taunted one group too many. Anelf was happily Hurricaning away, and hit 4000 DPS before the tank died and the trash ran onto us. Had the tank gotten mad and left at that point, could I claim I was a 4000+ DPSer. Of course not.

    Another silly example. I took Stormshadow to help Hollie with her protopally grinding in Icecrown. Stormshadow would stand back and only start to Mind Sear once Hollie had gathered 15-20 adds. Recount showed Stormshadow’s DPS was almost 6000. But because Hollie had been AoEing away while I was waiting for her to gather up the mobs, she was doing a much larger amount of damage than Stormshadow. But with a much lower DPS score.

    The third rule of DPS Meters: Everyone rounds up.

    In the example above, Anelf went back in and finished the instance. She averaged a touch over 2000 DPS on the boss fights. If I were writing this in Trade chat and not in a blog, then that would become 2.5K DPS. 3K on a good day 🙂

    [Edit: Tinuviel asked me to add that she tends to understate her DPS because she prefers people to know the baseline DPS to expect from her. She also tells me she doesn’t get that many pug invitations 😛 ]

    The fourth rule of of DPS Meters: Look at the whole package.

    When deciding who to invite back to your raid next week, watch for total damage people do on the fights you care about. But even then you have to take context into consideration. Was that top DPSer riding his aggro too close and causing the tank and healers problems by constantly pulling aggro?

    Even if he wasn’t pulling aggro, was he assigned to simple spanking, or did he take on some of the less glamorous tasks like helping the off-tank with the adds. Was he quick to Misdirect that loose add back to the tank, or did he let the healer die because he was so engrossed in his own point and shoot world? Did he offer to put up Aspect of the Wild for that heavy Nature damage fight, or did he keep quiet until another Hunter volunteered?

    The fifth rule of DPS Meters: Don’t penalize good players for putting the raid ahead of their DPS.

    If you tell someone that their job is just to stand there and hit the boss, then its great that they’re doing what they’re told. But don’t praise him at the end for his DPS and ignore the guy who volunteered to kite the adds or who saved the healer from certain death. If you do, and if you select your raid based solely on Recount data, then you won’t have a raid team – you’ll have a group of individuals who see their only goal as topping the DPS chart. Your raiding will get harder and harder, and your armor bills larger and larger, as people push their aggro luck further and refuse to use abilities that benefit the team but lower their personal DPS.

    The bottom line: DPS is just one piece of data.

    Don’t get me wrong. DPS is important. And DPS Meters play an important role in identifying whether a player is doing well or underperforming. But the DPS score should be the starting point – an indicator that you should be looking more closely at that player. Used wisely, a tool like Recount can greatly improve your raid. Used badly, it can destroy it.

    CIPHER raid update

    cipherOur new guild, CIPHER, is developing nicely. We’re slowly growing, albeit from friends of current members joining us right now – no-one is beating a path to our door because of our uber reputation yet 🙂 .

    We downed Auriaya for the first time last night. We had a few wipes on her because of mistimed pulls, and once because Anelf’s WoW client crashed mid-fight. We struggled last week because we tried to follow the strategy. This week we just ignored the Feral Defender (except for the Off-Tank who tried to control it as much as possible), and it was so much easier. If the raid group keep together there’s not too much problem with it’s pounces.

    We had our first attempts on Hodir too, but didn’t quite get him. We made a meal of the trash between Auriaya and Hodir (kept getting surprised by patrols and wiping), so it was getting late when we started on him. It was obvious the raid was getting tired by then so we stopped after a couple of attempts.

    We’ve not gone back and done the optional bosses yet (Ignis and Iron Council), so we’ve now downed 5 Ulduar bosses. And its fair to say we have the first 4 on farm. Just need to keep farming to gear up the team and keep chipping away one a a time at the higher bosses to learn the fights.

    Anelf’s Resto Druid Naxx-10 Guide (Part V)

    Part V – Frostwyrm Lair

    Previous parts:

    Part I – Arachnid Quarter

    Part II – Plague Quarter

    Part III – Construct Quarter

    Part IV – Military Quarter



    • Frost
    • Shadow – Dispellable curse
    • Sapphiron has 2 phases.

    Phase 1

    For phase 1, its straightforward healing with the added complexity of having to dodge the blizzard that continually wanders around. And don’t run behind him – he has a tail swipe. He also casts a curse on a random player that you have to dispel quickly, as it heals Sapp. Druids excel at this fight – its all about healing while almost constantly on the move, for which our Lifebloom and Rejuvenate are perfect.

    Or if you’re tank healing, you just keep up your normal tank healer rotations and watch for the blizzard so you can dodge it.

    Phase 2

    Phase 2 comes every 45 seconds. Sapphiron takes to the air, and hits 2 random players with Ice Bolt. This causes damage and encases them in ice. (It also causes splash damage to nearby players, so the raid needs to be slightly spread out at this point – although pre-patch 3.1 mana regen makes healing the extra damage pretty trivial).

    Now all the raid has to run to get one of the ice-blocked players between them and Sapphiron before he casts Frost Breath – even if that means running into a Blizzard. (Make sure you raid isn’t so spread out that someone can’t make it to the ice block in time). If you’re out in the open when Frost Breath comes, then you will die.

    As a Resto Druid for this stage (if you’re not iced), use Wild Growth while you raid is clustered around you to heal, and throw HoTs around if you’re in the Blizzard. Use it before Frost Breath and afterwards bfore people spread out again.

    That’s all you have to do – rinse and repeat.



    • Phase 1 mobs – Shadow and Physical
    • Kel-Thuzad – Frost and Shadow

    Kel’Thuzad has 3 phases (although phases 2 and 3 are essentially the same).

    Phase 1

    As a resto Druid, you need to know that the abominations stack a -10% healing debuff on the tanks, so tank healing will be harder if one tank keeps pulling all the abominations. This causes a really big problem if a knockback or badly positioned tank pulls a bunch of extra abominations. If you avoid pulling extra mobs, then this part of the fight is quite easy (although a little hectic).

    If you’re raid healer, use Wild Growth liberally for easy healing, as your ranged DPSers will be clustered around you.

    Phase 2

    Phase 2 is when Kel’Thuzad enters the fight. There will normally be mobs still alive from phase 1 when he does, so one tank needs to engage him while everyone else finishes off the mobs. But now K’T is here, everyone has to spread out to be more than 10 yards apart. This is because of his Frost Blast, which will chain to other players within 10 yards of each affected player. Spread your healers out equally just outside the central circle and get the DPSers to spread around them – this will make sure everyone is within range of at least two healers – or even all three. (Deadly Boss Mods and BigWigs both have a display of who is within Frost Blast range of you, so you can shout at them to move away).

    Frost Blast is the usual cause of a wipe. It damages for 104% of health over 4 seconds, so healers have to act quickly or the player dies. I found the best Resto Druid heal for this to be Nourish. (At last! A use for Nourish in Naxx!). Regrowth was too slow, Rejuvenation and Lifebloom weren’t healing quickly enough, and Rejuve+Swiftmend was also too slow. Best of all, get your priest to Shield the affected target as their first heal. We played whack-a-mole on affected players, with all healers jumping to get a heal in. If no-one is standing too close together, then you only have to heal one person. (The main tank is immune to primary Frost Blast, but not to the chained effect).

    Again, resto Druids do great in this fight, because your HoTs continue to keep the tank nicely topped off while you whack out a heal on the Frost Blasted player.

    K’T’s other spells are:

    Void Fissure – move out of the big red ring within 5 seconds of it appearing under you. And shout at others who don’t – you can’t heal through the damage when one of them goes off.

    Mana Detonation – cast on a mana user. Hurts people within 10 yards of you, and drains ~2000 mana from you.

    Frost Bolt Single and Multiple – easy enough to heal the raid through as long as everyone is topped off. Remind your DPSers that they can interrupt the single frost bolt.

    Phase 3

    This is exactly the same as Phase 2, except K’T summons two Crypt Lords. Best get the MT to grab them, because the OT may get Frost Blasted while tanking. They don’t hit for much, so healing isn’t much harder than Phase 2.


    Congratulations! You’ve completed Naxx!


    Anelf’s Resto Druid Naxx-10 Guide (Part IV)

    Part IV – Military Quarter

    Previous installments:

    Part I – Arachnid Quarter

    Part II – Plague Quarter

    Part III – Construct Quarter

    The military quarter was the first quarter we downed a Naxx boss in. We came along in our mostly blue gear and the tanks practiced the Razzie mind control dance until they got it right. The first drop was a nice leather belt for Anelf. Then we went to Anub’Rekhan and wiped by messing up the kiting so we called it a night 🙂 .

    The guild then stopped raiding for over a month because no-one was willing to organize it. Then we stepped up and formed a raid committee, and we stormed through the whole instance (by then everyone had collected their Heroic and crafted purples).

    Instructor Razuvious


    Physical – AoE and targeted DoT.


    Another tank and spank as far as healers are concerned. If you’re a tank healer, set your tank’s Understudy as your focus so you can easily select him as a target if you’ve targeted a raid member to help with raid healing (which you have to do if you’re running with two healers). Just heal the Understudy like you would your tank, but let his health drop off a little as Razzie is about to die so you can kill him quickly at the end.

    Once Razzie is dead, the tanks will release mind control on the Understudies one at a time. Remember to heal the tank tanking the last Understudy. (Sometimes a few people in the raid get a bit excited when Razzie goes down and forget about the Understudies 🙂 ).


    If you’re the raid healer, watch for someone being hit by Jagged Knife. It does a lot of damage, so you’ll have to throw a few heals on them (a Swiftmended Rejuvenation, or a couple of Lifeblooms). The rest is simple AoE damage, so position the raid for effective Wild Growth.

    Gothik the Harvester


    Living side – Nature and Shadow

    Dead side – Shadow, Arcane, Physical (Whirlwind and AoE), drain life.

    Gothik – Shadow, and stacking debuff reducing everyone’s stats by 10% every 15 seconds

    Another simple healer fight. The raid splits into two, so you’re healing a small group. If you’re running with a Priest or Pally, then you’ll probably be on the living side in case the Priest or Pally need to use their special abilities against Undead. The Dead side mobs are harder, so the group will often be divided 6-4, rather than 5-5 (unless you put all your weakest DPS in the Living 5). If you have three healers, you may even do 7-3. Stack your hots on the tank and throw the group heals as needed. I’ve never needed to use Entangling Roots on the Living side, but I do occasionally have to Shadowmeld when the tank misses an add.

    Once Gothik joins the fight, stack hots on your tank and join in the DPS fun in between refreshes.

    The Four Horsemen

    Lots of movement in this fight – which plays to a Druid’s strengths.


    Stacking marks – Shadow

    Korth’azz (front left)– Fire (Meteor strike)

    Rivendare (front right) – Shadow

    Blameaux (back left) – Shadow

    Zeliek (back right) – Holy

    At the front …

    Simple if you can heal and run at the same time. Make sure everyone is standing on the tank to mitigate the meteor strike damage (if it just hits one person it can kill them) – and everyone standing on top of each other is the Wild Growthers dream 🙂 . Just keep the tank hotted up and group heal the rest of your group.

    If you have mana to burn, then throw some heals on the other front group as you run past them.

    Ask your pally for Fire Resistance aura.

    Someone at the front (one in each group) has to call the switches. The times I’ve been in a front group, that’s always me. I’m not sure if that’s because Druids are such great multitaskers, or if its because half our raid always find their microphone has stopped working as they step into the instance 😉 .

    At the front (alternate) …

    I ran a pug this weekend (hoping to get my T7 helm – it dropped but I lost the roll 😦 ). They did this fight very differently from the mass transit approach described above …

    One tank and one healer stand at the right front, another tank, healer and all the front DPS stand on the left. The when the marks stack to three, the tanks run to the middle of the room and swap bosses.

    This approach is far simpler for the tanks (who have to taunt on the run using the other method), but it puts a lot of strain on the healer of the lone tank with Meteor Strike only shared between two people.

    Its still basic tank healing or tank+group healing. Which side you go on depends on who your fellow healers are. If you’re the best AoE healer, then you should go on the DPSers side.

    At the back …

    Before the fight starts (and assuming your partner at the back can’t self-heal), make sure you and your partner have checked where you can stand and still be in healing range of each other. I like to stack a Regrowth (and maybe also a Rejuvenation) on us both just before the tank pulls. (I’ve seen Druids who don’t pre-heal die before they can get their stacks up). Then I keep full hots up on both of us. When the raiders from the front join us, I just heal whoever needs it (as do the other healers).

    The usual way to die at the back is to forget to watch for Void Zones spawning under you (back left) because you’re busy watching Grid.

    Make sure you get one DPS hit on each of the bosses at the back (the one near you at the start, the other the first time you switch targets). If someone on their aggro list isn’t near then then they’ll cast their AoE and wipe the raid. After that just concentrate on healing. The back bosses do a reasonable amount of damage, so don’t let your attention wander too far off your hots as you move to avoid the voide zones and to swap positions.

    Tin and I always take the back bosses, because we can talk to each other IRL (so don’t interfere with the raid voice channel). However you’re communicating, make sure both players are able call the switch when their marks stack to three.


    Congratulations on yet another achievement. Go refresh your martini, because its time for the last two bosses.

    Next time: Part IV – The Frostwyrm Lair.