Narratives.

September 2, 2010 at 5:01 am (stories) (, , , )

Both of these stories are true. Even if they are not literally true accounts of events that transpired, they both express truth.
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Story one.

There once was a man, and in his house he threw a party. His friends came over, and times were good. Some of the neighbors nearby had become friends, and came to the party. Others came, and went, and the party rocked on and good times were had. There was the occasional awkward situation, vomiting in the planter or stumbling home drunk, but the music was kicking, the beer was cold, and good times were had.

And then a whole group of new people came by, because they saw the party from the street.

“Hey, can we join?” they asked. “It looks like fun.”

And the host replied, “Sure! More people’s more party!”

And so they came, and joined the party. Some of the older guests were making out in back rooms, or passed out under the couch, and in the front room, at the party proper, the new guests came to outnumber the old, and then they came with questions.

“We see you like beer! Cool. Hey, can we drink your beer? We’ve got a box of wine coolers, you can have it to replace the beer.”
“And hey, we don’t like techno. Can we play our jazz cds, instead? And, we’d like to turn it down so we can have a proper conversation.”
“It’s kind of chilly in here, we’re all cold. Can we turn up the thermostat?”

And the host, and those who had been at this party since it started, began to grow bitter. Who were these people who had come to this party? And why, when they wanted to change so much of it, did they stay in the house they had been invited to, that they chose to come, instead of finding their own?
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Story two.

Once there was a mural on the wall. This was the ongoing work of many artists, and it reflected them all. The mural was a living thing, and it was their soul, telling a tale of the past while also being a product of the present and growing towards the future. It was created by a group – it was them, and they were it -, and over time, the group had grown. The more brightly colorful and visible parts of the mural attracted many people who marveled at it, and many who wanted to join the artists creating it.

Many artists had joined before, and have contributed to this project. Some had grown the greater image and helped to shape what it was, others took their colors and moved somewhere else in time, others sort of fit in but never really became artists.

Everyone loved the mural.

Those who were the newest, however, began to feel as if those who had been drawing since the beginning, the old guard, was harrumphing and standing with a sheet of glass. The new artists felt that what they had seen that called them over was not what had been painted. They also felt as if they had been invited to a group project, only to discover that the project was at an end. They felt the Old Guard, even if they were some good people, people they could like, were… happy with the mural. And defensive of it.

They felt that that the whole image was not shown and that the visible parts told a completely different story, one they did not like, and felt lied to when the promise and beauty that they had seen seemed to be an illusion. They felt excluded, that the Old Guard was refusing to let the mural grow anymore, to change to incorporate their voices and their paints.

Why had they been invited, had they been welcomed, to this collaboration that did not want to add their voices to the choir and their paints to the wall?
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Both of these stories are true … and both of these stories tell the true history of the same incident.

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Lok’tar ogar!

August 29, 2010 at 4:25 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Let’s get down to business
To defeat the Scourge
Did they send me Murlocs
When I asked for Horde?

You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met
But you can bet, before we’re through,
Mister, I’ll make a raider out of you…

What do you know, I think I found my voice. I never know how to begin a blog post, I’m no good at a preamble that leads into my topics, so let’s just jump right in. I can’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say, so I’ll just talk about what I want to say.

I believe that in raiding, I have become a better person. I don’t mean that raiding makes me a better person than you, I mean that it has made me better than I was before. It demands, at least of me, certain skills which I have had to develop and to leverage to achieve the success I have and to believe I can achieve the successes I will get later. Skills that translate absolutely outside the game. My accomplishments in WoW should be able to go onto my resume.

I play my classes well. Why? Because I put thought into them, and because I seek out education. I gather extra information, and bring it together. I use tools, be they spreadsheets, or forum discussions, or math, or guides. But I don’t just blindly consume this information: I read the discussions and watch the objective science (or, at least, math) behind a lot of it, and from there formulate my ideas of what I’m going to do. And then, with all that information, I think I execute it… fairly well.

I raid well. Why? I pay attention to my surroundings and can juggle multiple task-components while still thinking about what’s going on and keeping my mind on something like my rotation. This is a skill that has developed as I played the game – I started out oblivious, but then I learned not to stand in bad, and then to keep moving out of bad while still doing what needed to be done. Going from dps to star dps in heroics to a raider, then a raid tank, and now working on heroic healing, it has all made me more aware and able to collate, process, and act upon, more and more information. As I move into tanking and healing, I am developing a cooler head even as things go pear-shaped.

But at the same time, raiding is a group effort at-level. I cannot succeed alone, and other cannot succeed if I am slacking off or performing poorly, both from an individual-component standpoint and from a group membership standpoint. And speaking of group membership, let us not forget that WoW is a social game, one we play with other people.

In raiding, I have developed greater skills to work as a member of a unit, both in a set group set to a purpose, and also a unit that has members rotate in and out of a bigger set. A lot of people, I find in life and in raids, cannot do this. This isn’t just working together by doing it, but two things that transcend merely being in the same zone and slamming on the same boss. Functioning with team happens on two factors: in the gestalt operation of a truly well-oiled group, which has worked well together, where they come together to play at a higher level than normal, to draw out the best and truly ‘work as one raid”… but also to function, socially, with people who I don’t necessarily always like – we are still able to focus on our task and to get it done. Skills that, again, I didn’t have as much as I did before I started raiding.

And what is a raid, especially in a group? It is a commitment of time and of energy. Dedication. As an accomplished, reliable, and skill raider, I have demonstrated my ability to dedicate my resources to a group effort that is both bigger me and, sometimes, not entirely perfectly reflective of what I want – but I still do my best to help it accomplish its goals. I can even set aside time out of my life fairly regularly to make a committment and to contribute.

There are more skills or ways of thinking that I already had, and that in raiding the way I do become apparent.

I have to be adaptable. And I have been flexible, as how to play my classes has changed, as I’ve needed to adapt to new fights, or to changes in a current fight either built-in or due to something going wrong or different. If I wasn’t already, I would have had to develop it, and if I wasn’t or didn’t, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.

I believe that being good enough to do something is not, usually, good enough. A sloppy kill is a bad kill, and it should be tightened up and cleaned up next time. A raid plan that eventually kills the boss but does so slower or at greater risk of failure or with artificially stricter fault tolerances is not a good plan. Even if we kill the boss and get loot. Even if I stay alive as a tank and hold agro. Even if bosses die to my arrows or players live via my heals, there is probably some way I could have done it better, made the raid go smoother. I actively look for ways to improve my performance above mere necessary thresholds of “good enough.” The ongoing process of this motivation is, surely, a factor that contributes largely to my skill now.

I have failed many times. I have failed personally. I have failed on the whole as part of a unit, even when it was nothing within my control or influence. It is frustrating, yes, but my response to these failures is not to get frustrated, or find something discouraging on its own. No: what I do is I believe that it is still something I can do. We can do. And so I ask: “why did we fail?” I seek those answers, and I use them to then answer the question, “how can we not fail next time?” When I fail, I learn why, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When the group fails, I don’t try to blame or give up or get discouraged (until it seems a break must be taken, but it’s just a rest period, nto a surrender) – I try to figure out what to try differently (assuming it’s not bad RNG) so that next time it goes better. And better. And better. And then we will achieve victory. And then we will do it better. And better. And then we will achieve farm status.

Within WoW, I am a finely wrought sword. I have gone from a lump of newb ore to bars through the smelting proccess, and then come from the hammers and the temper of the forge, sharp and deadly and serving my purposes well. There has been fire and there has been blows, it has been forces from outside acting upon me and forces from within. Even outside of the game, what I have done and learned, I see how to generalize.

I leave this with two final notes: I believe these are all valuable tools. I said I would make a raider out of newbs, and this is part of how. I am not giving anyone a hand out. There are no handouts that will make you less a newb, only ones that will make you a newb with a high gear score. There ‘welfare epics’ and there is all the BoEs and crafteds you can buy and you know what? None of it teaches you not to stand in Defile or hug Spores or switch targets as the kill priority changes or how to deal with the grind of Progression. But this is a hand up: nothing I have done or do is really unique to me. Put my data together and figure out how to use it. Although this, I think, is wasted on many of my readers as most people who know about and follow this blog are as good or, even, better, than me.

Ultimately: there is one final component to being a good raider, that I keep taking to heart, and that I feel is, if not essential to a successful raid, or something proven by my personal ability as a player and raider, at least is vital to all of it: remember that everyone who plays WoW is a person. From my friends in my long list of guilds I’ve been in, to even the trade-trolls. Everyone I raid with, from the awesome people I meet in the random pug to the ninja looters, ninja loggers, jackasses, elitsits, and newbs both chill and angry, everyone is a person.

When I group with people, I don’t want my time wasted and my efforts to be put to naught, and as such, I also don’t want to waste their time and effort. When I raid, it’s anywhere from seven to twenty-four other people, and we’re all here to have fun. And to accomplish a shared goal. Part of dedicating myself to it is being mindful and dedicated to not fucking it up by being inconsiderate or stupid or wasting their time. When I show up, I bring it to win it, yes: but I also view the whole thing as a group of effort by people who depend, in part, on me, and do not want to let them down, or to make it an awful firestorm of anti-humanistic badness.

This game has made me a better person, and I rock at it because I am a good person.
This game has made me good friends outside of it, and beyond the context of playing a game.

Isn’t that cool?

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Ashen wings.

July 23, 2010 at 1:59 am (Uncategorized) (, )

This is a very personal post. This concerns the recent drama. I don’t know what might come from this, and I am breaking some secrecy, but… let the fates fall where they may. No explanations given for my readers who don’t know the actors.

Read the rest of this entry »

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There Will Be Drama.

July 22, 2010 at 10:04 am (stories) (, , , , , , )

That was what I was going to call my blog when I had the first idea of blogging about WoW. Almost a year ago, now, when one guild was slowly falling apart as it was due to a lot of the core being somehow disillusioned with all the Cataclysm news, and leaning towards Aion.

“Hey, speaking of WoW-killers, what’s a one-word joke?” “Aion.”

I had no intention of going, especially because the beta left me thoroughly unimpressed and there was no endgame that I would appreciate. And so, knowing he and the other officers would leave the guild when we downed Arthas (at the very latest, when Cata came out), he said he would leave me to run the guild. Around the same time, the guild was splitting into two faction camps – ‘his people’, and ‘my people’, because our visions that we both founded the guild on, and the people they and we had attracted, weren’t working out together. And when eight of our members started spending no time in WoW except to raid and spent the rest playing the Aion beta or early release, those who remained began to feel disillusioned, that most of leadership was out of touch and just using those who remained to aggrandize their own raiding, it was suggested – and I began to consider – that really, he should step down now.

And when he did, there would have been changes. But that time never came, we just argued to the point that I couldn’t take what our guild had become, and then on the heels of a ridiculous argument, I finally gquit. I lurked for a bit getting my affairs in order, and then took Mathorvos to Alliance side and Azgalor.

I knew, though, that to run the show is to deal with drama. The blog was originally not going to be yet another Hunter blog, but rather a blog about picking up the gm hat to go with my officer’s stars and what that journey was like, and the drama that followed.

Why do I mention this, now?

Because I have left Brotherhood of Oblivion. The story is too much to tell here, because the story isn’t what happened in terms of who said or did what. The truth of the story is in how those involved perceived events that happened, and how those perceptions and mis/understandings colored their future perceptions and influenced those actions. And right now, there are two major stories who only agree on the most basic of facts and actors, mutually incompatible narratives about why it happened.

Ultimately, I left some friends behind. I left behind some people who’s company I enjoy. But I knew I did the right thing when, being sad that no one replied in farewell to my parting forum post, I was invited to Stands in Bad – and almost everyone whose reply would have meant a damn said in /g that it was nice to see me there.

I have been digging into the story and seen a relatively catastrophic clash of miscommunication and misunderstanding. I have learned a lot, both in the positive “this seems to have worked, albeit to little because it is far too late” and in the negative “this does not work.” My attitudes have grown and I have learned from these events.

I thought to use them, as I told the then-GM of BoO, and now-GM of Stands in Bad, to start my own guild. And that was when I learned that so much of what I wanted to do with a new guild was a part of Amber’s plan. Believing myself more to be an (excellent) officer than a commander, and not wanting to butt guilds on two very similar visions, I resigned my commission in BoO for a number of reasons I don’t desire to get into in public, and accepted a commission in Stands in Bad.

It is still Lieutenant Huntard. Just in a new guild. I am Mathorvos, and I Stand in Bad.

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Promotions! That’s now LIEUTENANT Huntard!

May 28, 2010 at 6:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I – pledge – my – allegiance
Toooo all things dark
And I promise on my damned soul
To – do – as I am told
Lord Beelzebub has never seen
A soldier quite like me
Not – only – does his job

But does it hap-pi-ly…

*smiles slowly*

As of tonight, I am an illustrious officer in the glorious Brotherhood of Oblivion. If you’ll permit me a moment?

MU WA HA HA HAHAHAHA.

Ahem.

… POWER! AHAHAHUHAHA

… AHEM, self. I said “AHEM”.

Oh. Well then. I’ll be nice. And quiet. I guess.

I promise to be fair and to keep the interests of the guild and it’s functioning close to heart. I truly believe in good officering, and I shall to my best to carry out the duties of my office. I just have some fun with the affected appearances of power-mad glee.

Also, it’s been a couple months, but I’m back. I’ll get something about Hunter Changes, well behind the curve, up in the near future. And maybe talk about what it means, to me, to have – and to be – an officer.

But I figured the shiny new silver bar was a good reason to dust this place off and come back. Hello again. :)

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*snaprant*

March 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Okay, folks.

Where is the war in warcraft now? It seems they’re too busy killing dragons and dead things to worry about fighting each other.

*deep breath*

Those things? When they’re killing dragons and dead things and old gods and lich kings? THOSE. ARE. WARS. You dumbshit!

Horde vs. Ragnaros / The Quiraji, Alliance vs. Ragnaros / The Quiraji … Horde vs. Illidan, Alliance vs. Illidan… Horde vs. Yoggie / Arthas, Alliance vs. Yoggie / Arthas… Horde vs. Ragnaros / Deathwing, Alliance vs. Ragnaros / Deathwing … These are all wars! The combined efforts versus Archimonde at the Battle of Mount Hyjal? That was a war!

Hurr hurr it’s WARCRAFT so clearly the Alliance and the Horde must be at perpetual WAR! No. Shut up. There are plenty of wars not rooted in another senseless, forced, lore-poor “lol orcs vs. hoomans!” conflict. Besides, “combined effort” or “separate problems while dealing with mutual threat” doesn’t write out antagonism (just not this Garrosh / Wrynn bullshit we’ve had since the opening of Ulduar).

Maybe you want the simplistic lol orcs vs. humans. That’s fine. Just stop fucking saying it because “it’s WARCRAFT and that’s WAR!”. There’s plenty of other wars that’ve been going on.

(clearly, too, I find them more interesting).

Sigh. That is all.

Substance coming Soon*

(*Soon tm Blizzard).

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Pause button.

March 1, 2010 at 8:42 am (Random) ()

Well I guess it’s been hit for a while.

I haven’t talked about hunters in a while, ever really since putting some evidence out there that serpent > viper on Lady Deathwhisper. I haven’t really touched my hunter except to raid in a while.

I have mounds of topics and formed ideas for blogs, but instead of writing them, I’ve been gearing up my Paladin.

I have school work, but instead of doing as much as I should, I’ve been gearing up my Paladin.

I have a blog to write, more blogs to start, and stories I want to write, but instead, I’ve been gearing up my Paladin.

I’ve really taken to it. Too much. I’ve been too into WoW, in general, ever since I started tanking on Gal.

I’ve had insomnia. I’m not sure if it’s because of WoW or if that’s just how I wind down to sleep, but I need to try not doing it. Yes I’m aware of how late I’m writing this.

I seriously need to scale back. Missing two raids out of three this week because of stuff that I planned to do before I joined BoO seems good cause for a break. Don’t worry. I’m still here! Hell, I’ll probably tank a random a day for frost, and rotate H ToC, H HoR, and HoR, one a day, to finish out Gal’s first gear set. And I still want two more Rimefang’s Claws.

But being on all day? Not for a while. It kinda took over my life. I’ll be around. I’ll hop on vent. I’ll show up. But I’m gonna take my life back over. Which will be fun, ’cause I’ve built a mean little tank that I have to wear down while being pelted by a hunter and a kitty who, well, wants to eat my face.

Weirdly, this actually means I’m gonna blog more!

Take care, BoO, and whatever non-BoO-folks are in my readership.

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Paladin progress? At an end?

February 20, 2010 at 9:29 am (althattery) (, , , )

No! It is just beginning to get fun.

Galgamesh hit 80 earlier last night, in the only fitting way – in the middle of tanking an instance. Ahn’kahet. In fact, the first boss she fought at 80 was Prince. But not in the Blood Princes version, thankfully.

After a bit of scurrying around, getting a Titansteel Shield Wall, getting stuff enchanted with Defense, getting capped, she’s run a few heroics – and thanks to Mach, Hhol, and Azureangel taking turns healing, several regular Trial of the Champions.

She has The Black Heart, on her first night of being 80, before she even has a single piece of T9. This seems wrong, and either presages greatness, or a titanic disaster of gearing.

Mu wa ha ha ding!

But now maybe we can go back to Huntering and some more thoughtful posts.

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Warning: Educational Content!

February 17, 2010 at 5:58 am (Hunter) (, , , , )

I’ve seen a lot of disagreement on the Lady Deathwhisper fight over if it’s better for Hunters to use Viper Sting or Serpent Sting. I take the less intuitive path of Serpent Sting is better. This has been bugging me, and as we all know, I like being right, and I like maximal dps (as opposed to Predacon dps?) – so, I sat down and ran some tests.

First, no offense to anyone in the Viper camp, but I think a lot of the love for Viper on Deathwhisper is being people don’t quite fully examine the tooltip.

Viper Sting:

Stings the target, draining 4% mana over 8 sec (up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana), and energizing the Hunter equal to 300% of the amount drained. Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on any one target.

I think most people look at the “4% mana” part and think, “awesome, with something like 10 million mana, that’s like 400,000 mana! That’s like a full minute of my dps in eight seconds! (Light knows I did at first!) What we miss is the second part of that: “up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana” (that’s you, the Hunter). Math, raid buffed, has slightly less than 16,200 mana. 8% of that is 1296… ow. Viper is 1% every two seconds for eight seconds, so each two second tick is 324 mana drained.

Plinking Serpent Sting on a target dummy with no buffs beyond Aspect of the Monkeyhawk shows that a normal tick of Serpent Sting does an average, for Math, of 494 damage. He still has his 2pT9, and about 60% (unbuffed) of those ticks of Serpent were crits, averaging 1139. Plus, being Survival (yes, there’s still some Survival hunters left), while Serpent Sting targets take 3% more damage from his other abilities, like Explosive Shot – extra dps that comes from using Serpent, lost during Viper.

While Viper Sting seems, on the surface, to be potentially good, simple math (hah) shows that for Math, going Viper is a dps loss.

This really isn’t a hard and fast rule, “never use viper on Lady Deathwhisper”, though. Really, I want to say it seems generally suboptimal, but you might be a special case – fortunately, it’s not hard to check, if you care about pulling out that last extra hundred-some-odd / hundreds-of dps on Phase 1 – calculate 1% of your mana, and see if it’s a bigger number than an average tick of your serpent sting.

Though there is a time to use Viper Sting on Lady Deathwhisper, and that’s when you run low on mana. Sure, it does less damage than normal, but getting 24% of your mana bar back in eight seconds on a 15 sec cooldown beats eight seconds in Viper by leaps and bounds, let alone the amount of time you’d need to spend in viper to get that much mana back.

I know I’m not some leading authority, but the theorycrafting here is easy enough to try this at home and see – just, don’t blame me if somehow something goes horribly wrong. I’m not responsible for horrible mutants, wipeitis, wandering dps syndrome, or any other fallout you might randomly find. The world is a buggy place!

Fair winds and good hunts. Stay owning, my friends.

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Is a Huntard who learns still a Huntard?

February 9, 2010 at 8:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Been thinking on what makes for a good player, from a 5man / raid perspective. Natural thinkiness (which sometimes, like when discussion my Theory of Optimal Combat Action, or TOCA, gets me more or less kicked out of guild chat! :O) + recent in-game stuff that highlights some points + I like lists (so why isn’t this one) = I’m working on a post. While it’s not done, yet, I’d like to highlight one important distinction.

ICC 10 Wednesday: it was a bit of a crap day/night for me, though I don’t remember why. It was also off to the fabled and apparently famous BoO start, wiping twice to Naxx trash by 14manning Anubbie – once to TRASH!, but hey, that’s lulz and unportentious. Though once we get to Icecrown Citadel?

Huntard: Ripping Deathbring Saurfang off the tank/s to come barreling towards you because you targetted the wrong thing to taunt, because SAURFANG IS NOT BLOOD BEAST. Twice. After the second time, and a just mid-raid yelling-at, I was feeling a bit shitty. Usually my huntard shenanigans are cheeky and fun. This was messy, and tragic. Which makes them … not shenanigans at all. Eeeevil shenanigans!

But you know what? We all make mistakes. Sometimes they’re stupid mistakes. I don’t care, you could be me, Amber, Pike, even The Great BRK, and you still can’t contain The Huntard. It’s one of those deals we sign. Warlocks agree to throw up a stone and throw down a cookie jar and then go splat because their purpose is served (<3 you, Cirisi!), Hunters try mightily but our containment barrels occasionally leak radioactive huntardation all over.

What is a big difference between a bad player (Huntard) and a Good One (ME!)?

I figured out what I did wrong, what caused this problem to happen, and figured out two ways to solve it (a possible alternation to overall raid strategy, or just taking a moment's breather). The second- or third-biggest trait I feel makes for good players is we see where we can improve, and fairly actively seek out ways to correct our problemgenic paradigms and to increase / refine our ability. We actively further our learning to play.

There's no five-point list there, no real way to do this, except to pay attention, think, and listen to what others who're as good as or better than you have to say, without just blindly following along. Actually, that kind of was a three-point list.

tl;dr: Math is a scrub who Distracting Shot'd Saurfang in the face, twice, and lived to tell about it because I LOVE FEIGN DEATH MU WA HA HA.

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