DinoTam Poetry (again)

I like to crunch
I like to munch
All of Azeroth’s critters
Except for all those creepy ones
(As I have mentioned on Twitter)
Mouthful of rabbit
Bite of deer
And a snack of chicken over here
Shred a ram
Chomp a lamb
Fry up some squirrel in a pan!
Frogs and toads and hares may hop
Until my biting them makes them stop
I avoid skunks and spiders it’s true
Would you eat slimy maggot stew?
Neither would I, I shall confess
But give me some swine or even a cat
I can make something stir fried from that!

Yes, I love to crunch and I love to munch
Hey! Look at that! It’s time for brunch!

Archaeology – there should be an app for that

Being currently unemployed and with only so many job applications one can fill out in a given day, I suddenly have rather more time for WoW. Since I still run most dailies with At, there’s a somewhat limited number of things I can do on my main.

The new secondary profession, Archaeology, is one of those things. I am at a totally impressive skill level of 205 and… I am not wild about this profession.

I said on Twitter some time ago that the description for Archaeology read like a description for Farmville. In the interest of full disclosure, I have played just about every game Zynga has come up with as a FaceBook app. It’s a thing to do when one is bored off their ass at work and it is at least mildly more entertaining than counting one’s arm hairs.

Things like Farmville – so things like Archaeology – absolutely have a place as an app on Facebook. There is some value to being able to kill 15 minutes in the middle of a long, tedious workday. But in WoW? There are cultists to kill and dragons to fight! There are places to explore and filthy horde to gank!

And while Archaeology is far from being the first grindy thing to do in WoW, I do think it’s one of the least rewarding grinds I have seen. It’s also the first thing I have seen that really doesn’t need to be in WoW to work.

Hey Blizzard, if you’re still wanting that partnership with Facebook so badly, why not make an Archaeology app? I’m pretty sure it could be a lucrative deal for you – just do what all those other games do and make it energy based. People could pay real money to buy special Facebook WoW gold to procure more energy. You could even force more social interaction by making it mandatory to have 15 neighbors to skill up past a certain point. I’m sure you could also find ways to introduce mini-quests, so we can game while we game when we’re not gaming.

The possibilities are endless!

When a GM gquits

I’m writing part of this post in advance. The reason for this is not that I am sitting in a queue and have exhausted all the dailies I wanted to do (although I am). It’s not that I feel particularly witty or clever at the moment (I totally don’t). It’s that I’ve made a really big decision and while I am detached about it to a certain degree now, I can only imagine that I’ll be in a vastly different mindset after I tell my guild.

My former guild that is.

You read that right. After… I don’t even really know how long, but something like 4 years, I am calling it quits with WWAB.

I considered it before and ended up making the decision to stick it out and give things one more try. Even though I have since had some of the troublesome issues resolve themselves, I think that I gave it all the “one more try” that I had in me. So after years of leading raids, writing policy, dealing with disputes and drama, organizing the bank, organizing the ranks, organizing the forums, listening to people bitch about things never being good enough and doing all of this with only a little assistance… well, I’m exhausted.

But it’s more than simple tiredness.

In fact, I would say the main reason is not the above, but rather that I want to raid more seriously. Yes, we managed to kill the Lich King in this last expansion. But we only did so twice and saw nary a hard mode. Many of the people I raid with are certainly competent and many of them, I think, are brilliant at their classes and jobs as well. So there is certainly room for us to do more and to be better at it.

After wrestling with the question for a few months, and vacillating wildly from day to day about whether I could actually bring myself to leave, I finally admitted that it was the duality of WWAB that was doing the most to stand in the way and to cause drama relating to more casual players feeling left out of raiding and more progression-oriented players feeling held back by people who didn’t put in the same amount of effort.

So I floated the idea of leaving and while several people urged me to gkick the casual people from WWAB, I thought it was more fair kind to let the dissatisfied people who wanted more out of the game to be the ones to have to deal with the building of a new guild.

Eff This

Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all. – Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Several people have now moved to a new guild on Azuremyst, <Eff the Ineffable>. After I broke the news to WWAB, there was a mass gquit of those who were already on the bandwagon. EtI, already in existence since it was At’s former bank guild, caught the influx and we reformed in vent to discuss some preliminary topics.

I can’t help but feel we might be terribly idealistic, but we all agreed on the following:

  • No officers, no /o chat, no inner sanctum
  • Raid analysis by raiders, as well as performance evaluation by peers
  • Staying small, guild decisions made by the guild at large
  • Having room for casual players but keeping a distinct line between raiders and casuals
  • Allowing room for growth as players for new raiders – as long as they are indeed making forward progress
  • Oh, and KSK for loot

Quick plug

At present, we have the better part of a 10-man raiding team, although we are going to be even a bit more behind the curve on getting started. We also boast having Zel and Gnoble and Rhii among our ranks, so we’re starting that collection of bloggers (I want a full set). We’ll be raiding on the weekends (Fri/Sat, starting at 6:00PST), because we all have jobs or school or children that we can’t be too blurry to deal with the next morning. We could use a little of everything, so if this sounds like a place you want to check out, please do. We’re partial to people who are already reading blogs (because we assume that means you are already trying to be informed about your class or fight mechanics or whatever).

Parting Thoughts

While the decision wasn’t an easy one to make and while I did probably wait too long in making it, I am optimistic about this fresh start. My biggest concern is to not lose the relationships I had with the people who, for whatever reason, remain in WWAB. I’ve kept an alt over there and many people have talked about having an alt in EtI, so I am also hopeful about that.

Hopefully this decision will mean a lot less angst and drama from me. I think it will be interesting to see what it is like to really start a guild and build it from the ground up. I learned so much as an officer and GM in WWAB – now to see if I can apply those lessons in a new place. Wish me luck?

Never move a sleeping dino

Ho all. As many of you might be aware, it’s winter out there. As many others might know, I’ve just spent a frantic bit of time moving. Across the country. With an ungodly number of things.

Most of our stuff was packed onto a moving truck a few weeks ago. It was an odd experience all in all. Like paying someone to politely rob you. All of that stuff is… not here. It’s in storage somewhere or other until we actually close on our house and thus have the funds available to make a down payment on something out here. I do wish it was as easy to earn dollars as it is to earn gold and being faced with the sheer amount of things we have managed to accumulate (for all that we have about two hobbies other than WoW) I am considering the possibility of playing the real life AH and posting a bunch of crap on eBay.

The first item shall be one devilsaur, semi-tamed, luxuriously oiled and who may or may not answer to the name of Tamarind (more than likely that he won’t answer. To that or anything else.).

He has not taken the move well. “But we just left Northrend,” he whines frequently. “Why the devilsaur do you want to go someplace with snow? I won’t go, I tell you!”

I eventually had to promise he might stay and then, while he was sleeping, sedated him and loaded him on a truck.

These movers charge 45 cents for every pound, so you can just imagine how expensive the exercise was. Add to that the fact that Tam woke up, freaked out about being in a truck (“I thought I had been eaten by an untamed devilsaur or perhaps one of those Fel Reavers!”) and thrashed about until most of my possessions were broken and then ensured the breakage of most of the rest of them by causing the truck to roll.

As if that were not enough financial stress, I now have him boarded in an obnoxiously expensive pet care facility. Did you know that these places have their own professional conferences? Well, they do. And do you know who was one of the speakers at the latest conference, giving a presentation on “How to handle difficult boarders”? Yeah. Jenova Effin Stoneshield.

The wench.

Never move a sleeping dino, guys. Or an awake one. And probably not dead ones either. They are just not worth the hassle.

I am always me

With the recent bout of drama that has gone on in my neck of the woods, I have been confronted a few times now with an argument that I find rather illogical. This is not the first time I have encountered this argument and so I am prompted to write about it. (And I am not trying to continue the drama fest in using these examples. They are just the only recent/concrete ones I have at the moment.)

In the comments of my former post, you can find someone telling me that what her friend did in game doesn’t matter because it wasn’t done by her in real life to me in real life. In another recent post (not mine), there is the assertion that I am likable as a person. There is a distinction drawn there that who I am in real life is somehow different than “Alas the GM” or “Alas the wretched blogger.”

I gotta call lolwut on this way of thinking.

There Are Distinctions

Of course, there are some distinctions to be made between the game and real life. Obviously, WoW is a fantasy world and I cannot actually turn people into sheep and set them on fire (no matter how much I would sometimes like to do so). But “It’s just a game” is a phrase that people like to throw around whenever they want to discount or discredit an opinion or action that they don’t like.

Of course it’s a game. But it’s a game being played by real people with real feelings and real emotions. There are real friendships that can and have been forged. There are real disagreements. Just because it takes place in and around a game doesn’t mean that none of these things matter. They might be prioritized under real life friendships, disagreements, feelings, emotions, whatever. But they are not worthless or imaginary and the tactic of telling someone they are being stupid or childish or ridiculous or that they have no grasp of what is really important is nothing more than bullying.

What happens in Azeroth…

Along with using “it’s just a game” to devalue other people’s feelings, the phrase will also be tossed out as an excuse for bad behavior. You were a jerk in a game? Doesn’t matter. The game isn’t real so your behavior is somehow equally a fantasy, right? Wrong.

No matter where you are, you are guided by your own moral compass, whatever that might be. Being a dick on the internet is just the same as being a dick in real life. It’s only that we don’t always see the immediate consequences of our actions online because we usually don’t see the people we are influencing by our actions, for good or ill. Hiding behind a made-up name on the internet does not excuse anyone from taking responsibility for whatever they do.

Alas! you might say. This is a hypocritical stance coming from someone who just wrote the post you did!

Well, no. I admit I said some pretty harsh things in my previous post. I take responsibility for it and I acknowledge that I wrote it knowing full well that my opinions would be hurtful. But it was an honest post and it highlighted quite a bit of my own flaws. It wasn’t charitable or kind and I own that. I am a human being and I have uncharitable and unkind thoughts. It’s not an excuse, just a statement of fact.

But I refuse to play the martyr by pretending that I was perfect through all of this, because I haven’t been. I also refuse to buy into the idea that I am not directly responsible for what I wrote because I did so as “Alas the wretched blogger.”

Right, wrong or indifferent – it’s all me. And if expressing an honest opinion or feeling is vile, well, don’t get near me I guess. I might contaminate you. On the plus side, at least you know you’re getting me at face value. I think that is far better than being the sort of person who pretends to be friendly to your face only to stab you as soon as your back is turned.

Stab me in the back and be prepared for my reaction, which is to want to punch you in the face. It’s just how I roll.

Alas is Alas is Alas

The idea that I am a different person depending on where I am is very illogical. It’s true that I might be more reserved in some company or more outspoken in others, but who I am doesn’t vary as I move between “Alas the blogger” and “Alas the GM” and “[my real name here], the person.”

Someone stating that they like me the person is, to me, the same as stating that they like me as a blogger or a gamer. I don’t log into the game and suddenly become someone else. I am still me. Other people are still themselves. Whatever it is that we as people decide to do in a game is a decision that can be directly attributed to the person. The characters we play have no free will and no independent personalities. We are them. They are us.

Anyone who thinks differently is someone who truly cannot take personal responsibility. Or who is just delusional.

Tired of turning the other cheek

Rhii wrote recently that she was looking at joining a raiding guild that has lately lost four officers and she is understandably concerned that perhaps joining that particular guild isn’t the right move. I don’t blame her… even though that guild is my own.

At the same time, there is information that has been put forth in bits and pieces that, once it makes a cohesive whole, might perhaps explain why four officers have been lost and why, as GM, I am not in the least concerned that this will have very much of an impact on my guild. We are far from folding, or at least, I am far from giving up on the notion of leading a successful 10 man raiding guild, although I do admit it might be under a different tag.

Before I get into details, I have been considering that all of these officers who left waited until after a significant event occurred. In the interests of being open and honest about my dealings with these poor and beleaguered souls, I am going to tell you what this event was. It’s pretty heinous so hold tight:

I gave them all specific jobs with measurable goals.

I know. I KNOW. It’s a wonder I can sleep at night. Asking officers to do something other than sit around pretending to be important? The. Horror.

Okay, now it’s really time to hold tight because this is a long one and I’m not interested in pulling any punches. Names will be named. Fingers will be pointed. Drama has occurred and may ensue again.

Recent History

The first officer I lost, I lost because I adhered to the rules that were set in place. Holly essentially rage quit, leaving with a message of (and I quote) “fuck you very much” because I didn’t make special allowances for her husband. She was the one asking for them and he never gave any indication that he even wanted them, but talk about an attempt at abusing one’s position.

The second officer I lost, I never believed had true loyalty to anyone or anything other than himself. He left over authenticators, or at least that’s the reason I was given.

The latest officers I’ve lost are a married couple. Of everyone that left, this was perhaps the one I didn’t see coming. At brought Nox into the guild and the game years ago and Nox eventually brought in Jinx.

At and I – and this guild – have been there pretty much every step of the way with both of them. With Nox, we became raiders together, learning how to work as a raiding team. With Jinx, well, she is a Wrath baby and still to this day has no idea what raiding used to be like. Nor yet heroics that are actually difficult. It took a few years, but we finally had her pulling her own weight in a raid and not sucking up the bottom of the DPS charts although she was still the chief culprit of standing in the bad. Only as we worked on Arthas did she actually come into her own.

Then Holly quit in a fit of rage and instead of being able to shrug it off and move on, Jinx has been wallowing in how hard it is when friends leave.* We talked about it and I said at one point or another that after several months of being used as a target by Holly and three years of putting up with some downright shitty tanking (with sides of piss-poor heals and huntardy dps from her SO) I wasn’t all that sad to see her go. Quite the opposite, I was relieved. They couldn’t hold us back any more even as they deluded themselves that they were carrying us through content.

Of course, if you’re a GM you don’t have the right to say what you really think without dealing with the repercussions. In this case, the repercussions are that Jinx, all the while claiming to be an officer and acting in the best interests of the guild, waited until I would be out of the game for some time and then went on her rounds, talking shit to a list of undisclosed persons. She outright told me this herself, standing right in front of me at my desk.

We had words. Her side of which was essentially: “You’re a horrible person because you had this core designation in place and it’s ruined the guild and everyone else thinks so. PS, we all hate Zel.”

My side of the conversation went something like: “I just want to raid seriously and I have done everything I can to make sure that happens in a casual guild. PS, you don’t beat end game content by sitting around talking about sunshine and roses. You do it by being focused and working at it.”

I wish I had added, “Also, how dare you of all people complain about the core when firstly, you were only in it because Nox refused to play without you and secondly, it was that and not your ‘skill’ that kept you in our raids all the way to the end?”

*I admit I used to be devastated when people gquit and this was well before we ever tried our hand at raiding. I have since realized that I barely remember who most of the people who left were and none of them were worth the devastation I felt at the time. Playing this game and dealing with a community of people who are largely out for themselves has made me grow more immune to these events. I expect people to act in their own best interests and I am not going to waste a lot of pointless emotion on anyone who has stepped outside of my sphere.

The core is the debbil!

Now, the core deserves its own bit of explanation. In late spring, a whole lot of people were talking about coming back to the game and wanting to raid. Meanwhile, several people had been around all along and had been working on content. The idea of having to stop, go back, gear up and juggle several more people into a raiding rotation was not one I was particularly down for. We had only recently managed to recover a steady forward motion and ICC awaited.

If these people did come back and were willing to put in some effort towards getting themselves ready, I would have loved to have them. But I knew their behavior from before and if we didn’t have a clear rule in place about raid spots, they would assume that because they were there and wanted to go they would automatically be given spots. They weren’t shy about pitching fits if they didn’t get their way, so clearly something was needed.

So the core group designation was formed, with the full agreement of all the officers. Basically it was the people who had never wandered off for months at a time would have priority for spots over people just coming back. There were only six or seven “core” people so there was space for others to have their turns.

A raider or two ended up wandering off to a different guild and it was at this time that Zel and Gnoble decided to come and check us out. Being a healer and us being short on heals, Zel never had to sit out. Gnoble did his share of sitting on the sidelines and there were no complaints from them. They knew what they were getting into. But as time went on, Zel and Gnoble, in signing up and then showing up without fail, became dependable and I was soon confirming both of them for every raid. Other raiders weren’t signing up often, but I made every attempt to bring them in where and when I could.

Towards the end of the expansion, I was having more and more difficulty in balancing raid teams within the confines of the core group. There had been enough complaints about the core group from most quarters that I assumed no one would object to it going away. It had done what I needed it to do, including keeping summer raiding going fairly strong since people were motivated to come so they could keep their core spots. I had already mentioned getting rid of the core with the new xpac coming and no objections were raised at that time.

In the last few weeks of Wrath, I announced that I was going to abolish the core to give a little more flexibility to my own ability to create balanced raid teams. As soon as I did that, the officers mostly freaked out because “OMG MY SPOT YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE ME NOT HAVE MY SPOT AND WE NEEEED THE COOOOORE OR I WON’T BE ABLE TO GOOOOO BECAUSE YOU AREN’T GOING TO BRING NOOOOBS.”

I thought that was particularly telling, that perhaps the loudest of these shouters knew they weren’t raiding to their full potential and knew that the getting rid of their guaranteed spot might mean that they would have to stop being so lazy.

Nevertheless, I abolished the core designation and we killed the Lich King a whole two times and Cataclysm arrived, both in game and in my real life. Announcements about not having the core in place moving forward were made and I thought that things would sail smoothly enough that I could deal with the details of packing and moving. Silly me.

Pro Tip to Jinx since I know you will read this: Don’t tell someone you “have your officer hat on” and then share that you are going around stirring up shit over something that doesn’t even fucking exist any more. It makes you look really stupid.

Fallout (wherein I embrace sarcasm)

So far, there has not been much fallout, though I suspect a few more people might leave (especially if and when they read this post and realize that they believe Holly’s and Jinx’s version of events more than mine). Jinx is attempting to poach while saying “But I am not poaching! I am just providing a haven for the refuges!”

Because, you know, with the way I have tolerated and tried to work around all this selfish and lazy behavior, I am clearly a tyrant bent on making those people who are, uh, trapped in my guild suffer. Someone get the WoW version of the UN after me! Free the refugees from my borders! They can’t leave on their own if they are unhappy with something, nor can they bring their concerns to leadership. It’s unpossible, I tell you.

What now?

I learn a little bit more every day about how far my former officers have undermined things in the guild. I am torn right now between wanting to tear everything down and start over (now that I have only some more sensible thinking types remaining in their leadership positions) or just torching it all, knowing that those who understand what I am after in game and who have similar goals will more than likely follow me.

On farewells

I’m writing this on the slow and hated laptop as I sit on a camp chair in what is largely an empty house. The movers came yesterday and I watched as they wrapped up all my furniture and carted out all my boxes. It felt surreal. It still does.

There are only a few more days to get through – days spent with my family for the holidays, one more day of work, a few days of driving right after everything between here and there has been slammed with winter storms.

To say I am stressed would be an understatement. Even in these few and fleeting quiet moments, my mind is full of what I must do for real life to get through the next several days and this is good because it takes my mind off what I’ll have to do when I get back to WoW.

I really didn’t need for a game to become another source of stress, but it has.

It seems strangely fitting to be now surrounded by empty, echoing rooms and to be looking ahead to a difficult journey. It seems right that it should be difficult to let go of a place that, no matter how much I dislike it, has become familiar and even comfortable. And it makes sense that the place to which I am going will be familiar but so different from what I used to know. It helps that there will still be familiar faces, if not as many.

And so it goes. The  whole world changes even as it remains exactly the same as always.

Homework for raiders?

Dear prettyfull readers,

I keep starting posts and then never finishing them because I am getting waylaid by details about moving and then it’s time to bitch about my boss being a jackhole and then it’s time to look at more houses online (and wonder whether there are dead hookers in the floorboards because why did that house drop 50% in price anyway?) and the next thing you know I have some randomly connected paragraphs that appear to have been composed by a deranged squirrel on speed who is possibly also drunk.

Much like that paragraph in fact.

Anyhow, Zel thinks I should make you lovely readers do the heavy lifting here, since I’ve clearly had enough heavy lifting IRL.

This idea totally works for me, so I put it you, my lovely and smart and awesome friends, what expectations would you place on your raiders if you were in my shoes? I’m not going to be able to be in game to push and prod and plan people into shape, but I do have a bit of time to lay out some things I would like to see accomplished by the time I am able to get back into game.

If you were about to take a few weeks off to move cross-country, what would you ask people to do in your absence? What prompts would you give to get people moving in the right direction? And how many exclamation points should I put after the sentence “Please don’t bother with your alts until your main has accomplished these things”?

In my scattered and distraught way, I love you all.


Mage CC – not just sheep anymore

Despite how many hours we’ve had to divert to packing, At and I have managed to play for a bit of time most nights and have made our way through Hyjal, Deepholm and Uldum. We’ve also run a few dungeons along the way: BRC, The Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle. We’re most of the way through 84 and could easily have hit 85 last night but thought that since we won’t be getting to really play any time soon we might as well take our time and get a little more rested XP saved up before we knock the rest of it out.

That and we were sleepy. Packing up one’s books is a chore.

So far, The Stonecore has been the most intensive in terms of needing to crowd control. Both times I have gone there, the dps has been myself, ATT and one of our warlocks. We cleared absolutely everything in there the first time through and I noticed that I have managed to get rather rusty when it comes to keeping my target sheeped. Fortunately, my first run was enough to remind me of what I needed to do and subsequent runs went more smoothly as far as my CC was concerned.

So much for sheeping – it’s hardly a new mechanic and nothing has changed in how to properly manage a CC target. But mages did get a new toy which, while it has a limited use, can and should be used to take the edge off of either an initial pull or an accidental pull gone wrong.

I speak, of course, of our Ring o’ Frosty Flakes. I admit I was not the one to leap to the conclusion of how useful it could be on a large pull – that was ATT – but he hasn’t got a draft on this so I get to be the one to talk about it like I am smart.

This is not the ring of frost you're looking for.

What we were able to do was to either take turns pulling packs of trash using Ring of Frost – with the other mage ready to sheep the target that would be too far outside of the range of the frost ring or the one that would be frozen but who would stay at a range when they got free.

Ten seconds isn’t a lot of time, but it did help with keeping more of the trash at a distance and allowed the tank to pull his targets away from the ones that needed to be sheeped. (Our first non-ring of frost pulls would have frequent CC breaks due to Hammer of the Righteous, Holy Wrath and the occasional Consecration.)

So that is the best use I have seen so far from this new spell. How have other mages been using it?

Things about being an officer that should be wildly apparent (but seem not to be)

1. Being an officer is a job, not a perk. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to roll my eyes about this one. It’s rather funny how some people react to the idea. Y-you mean, you expect me to work? I thought I was just here to feel important!

2. Officers should be more open to performance criticisms, especially as it pertains to their level of skill in game. I didn’t hear about this at the time, but our resident number cruncher told me that one of the officers who recently left refused to hear his advice on how to improve their play style because he couldn’t talk to them like that. Officers do not take advice from peons. I beg your lolwut.

3. Officers lead by example. It’s not acceptable to tell everyone else in the guild that you expect them to hold to a certain standard and then clearly and obviously make yourself the exemption from that rule. If you don’t want to be held to a standard, then stop trying to lead anyone else. That seriously garners no fucking respect.

4. Be a grown up. Seriously. No one wants to follow a child. Tantrums and whining aren’t attractive or inspiring.

5. Work to earn respect. There’s a lot of people out there who aren’t dumb enough to be impressed by a title, no matter whether it’s in a game or out of it. Don’t think an arbitrary title is going to be enough for someone else to want to listen to what you have to say. Make an effort to listen more than you talk – and when you do speak, make an effort to apply some logic to your words instead of just speaking from your gut. I mean, yuck.

This post brought to you by the number 1, as represented by the middle digit, the letters F and U, with promotional consideration from Bee Pit Enterprises QQ-grade Mulch.