Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patch Notes

I noted on Twitter that I've been having some health problems.  It's hard to write on a blog when I'm getting migraines nearly every day.  It's also hard to lead a raid group, but I'm dealing as best as I can.

Anyway, here are some thoughts on the patch.

Druid Specific Patch Changes

Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid's maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast.

I don't foresee this changing the 10 man raiding scene much; how often are there 2 caster druids in a 10 man?  Well, my group had a tree and a boomkin, but as we used him for AoE in a lot of fights, he often kept his innervate.

All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).

I'm glad to see this change, but it's not interesting enough to get me to stack crit.

Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.

The mastery change is really exciting.  In 10 mans, often a WG is enough to prep the majority of the raid for heals, so it's not as good a change as it is for 25 man raiders.  It is still an improvement, though, since no longer do we have to apply a buff (a hot) to someone before getting the effect of our mastery.  The buff that we need to get the effect of mastery (Symbiosis) is applied to ourselves by casting a direct heal.

Many 25 man druids report that they're planning on using SM on cooldown to activate Symbiosis.  I haven't been using SM on cooldown, and I suspect that in the same sized room, 10 man raiders are more spread out than 25 raiders, making it less effective in that environment.  I could just put it on the tank in those cases, to stabilize his health and activate Symbiosis.  I'll have to see how it plays out.

Between the mastery change and the crit change, I'm considering putting more points into Nature's Bounty.  As we spend more time at 85, and our gear upgrades, I've noticed that I spend more time healing similarly to LK - very mobile, using a ton of instant spells.  We've taken advantage of that in my raid team by giving me all of the healing assignments that involve a bunch of movement.  I suspect that I'll be using Regrowth more often (to activate Symbiosis). If I do, I should move points also to Living Seed, I suspect, as I'll be criting a lot more.  I'll probably remove them from Naturalist, Swift Rejuvenation, and Nature's Swiftness.

I suspect that I'll have a full post on my thoughts on our talent choices soon, once I've played with the new mastery a bit.

Other Random Patch Day Thoughts

Molten Front
I'll admit that I've been dreading this patch a bit.  I'm actively playing 3 85s, plus leveling another 2 characters.  Adding a full set of dailies does not sound like much fun, so I've had to decide who is getting the dailies done.  

My mage will eventually get them done for the vanity items and gear.  She is used to being last in priority (still doing TB dailies for mounts, since I can't stand to do them every day).  The only thing that I want for her ASAP is the JC bag recipe, but it may not be such a pressing need since gems are supposed to stack.  She'll get them last, and if I'm already tired of the dailies by the time I get to her I won't feel bad about skipping.

My pally often fills in for other raid groups, but almost never gets gear (since she's an alt, I defer to the raiders in the group and only take what others don't want).  She'll have to do the dailies to get her gear upgraded.  Plus, she's a blacksmith so getting the new BS recipes will be nice.

The druid I'm still not decided about.  I'm working on my gear lists, and there's the possibility that I'll have upgraded beyond the vendor gear by the time I would unlock the vendors (since it's a lower ilevel than raid gear). OTOH, she's killed Chimaeron 6 times or so, and has never even seen the bracers drop, so it's entirely possible that in a month I'll still be wearing some 359 gear (or the 353 bracers).  Right now I'm planning to do them on her.

My Raid Group Specifics
We're having attendance problems, so are trying to merge with another group in guild.  I'm not entirely sure if it'll be a success or not, so I wish we had another week or two to try it out.  I'm guessing that folks will be coming back for 4.2, and if we aren't going to merge, I'd like to recruit for my group!
We also haven't figured out legendary stuff (since it's contingent on if we're merging or not, really).  We'll have to figure something out for Friday.  Headache!

We finished the tier 9/12, but since we only really gelled for 2 months (started in March, got hit hard by attendance starting in May), I'm not terribly upset.  I did fill in for another group on Sunday and got a Cho'gall kill (they had it on farm, so it was not as cool as if I had gotten it with my group).  That was an interesting night, since I had to keep swapping back and forth from my druid to my pally, since the druid was saved to some stuff, but the pally didn't have nearly as much gear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anatomy of a Mega Guild: Part II, It Was the Best of Times...

Welcome to the second post in my "Anatomy of a Mega Guild" series!  The previous post described my motivations for joining the mega guild and what I knew about how things would work when I joined.

This post will discuss the advantages of the mega guild structure.  The previous post in this series is Part I: Joining.

Is Anyone There?
There are approximately 580 individual characters in my guild (I'm not sure if the /ginfo is working correctly, but it's currently reporting 210 accounts - a PLAUSIBLE number at least).  I have occasionally seen fewer than 5 people online, but only at weird times such as 6 am on Saturday morning.

With this number of people, I can almost always find someone for whatever I need.  I can ask in /g and almost always get at least 2 other people so we can get guild rep for a heroic (if not a full group).  I can easily find a crafter for whatever I need crafted.  Folks are always doing arenas and pvp (not me, I'm terrible with it).

Specifically for Raiding
As a player it's easy to find groups to sub into on my alts.   My alts are actually doing about as much raiding as I did at the end of ICC.  Both my mage and healing pally are 4/5 in BWD and 2/4 in BoT.  Progression on my server is pretty terrible (we're ranked 115 as a server; no one had Light of Dawn until March 2011 or so).  My server is just not running PUGs right now, so having the opportunity to see these raids through the eyes of my alts is quite amazing. 

As a raid leader, it is much easier to find a sub for last minute (or unannounced) absences.  With the proliferation of alts carried over from LK, it seems that everyone has several alts.  It's a lot nicer to pick up a sub and only have to say "so, as [role] you need to worry about [extra ability]" rather than having to go over the whole fight, since they raid regularly on another character.  

Guild Perks/Achievements
Also quite obviously, it's easier/faster to have access to the guild perks.   We reached level 25 on April 7.  We had the Big Cauldron of Battle (3k flasks) on March 23. I'm not sure when we had Fish Feasts (the interface is only showing our progress towards 50k fish, we have 30k caught).

At this point it's not a terrible advantage.  The leveling perks aren't as big of a deal for a raiding group compared to the recipes (cauldrons, feasts).  If a significant number of my raiding group decided that we didn't want to be a part of the guild any more, we would take those recipes with us to the new guild.   I think a lot of the leveling perks are quality of life improvements (rep gains, faster running when dead, mass rez, etc) and aren't quite such a big deal for raiding progression. 

So, I think leveling in a large guild is only going to be a big deal at the beginning of an expansion when a bunch of things are added.

Dealing with BoEs
The only good thing (in my mind) about the extensive amount of trash in BoT are the epic BoE drops.  Obviously different groups do different things with their BoE, but selling them and funding the raid is a pretty common thing to do.   

One thing that's nice about our guild is that the raid groups often trade BoE loot to help equip their groups faster.  It's roughly equivalent to selling a BoE and then buying the other item, but by keeping trades in guild we avoid AH fees, which is definitely a plus.

Identity and Change
My raid group is being affected by summer attendance woes.   This problem is pretty common, and I was chatting with the leader of another group who has having the same problem, so we're currently in discussions to combine the two groups.  We aren't facing nearly the number of problems as when I've read about guild mergers; we already have an identity as a guild, so there's going to be a minimum of drama.

Also, as people's schedules change and their ability to raid changes, they can change teams fluidly without learning a whole new guild's worth of people or culture (there are culture differences between teams, but it's not as severe as guild to guild culture differences in my experience).

External Management
No one in my raid team has to worry about website or vent management.  When we formed, we were given a sub forum on the website and a channel in vent.  I throw $10 at the guild leader every now and then to cover costs, but reducing the number of people responsible for support functions not directly in the game means that my team has more time to actually play.

Unfortunately, All is Not Sunshine and Roses
That's a pretty big list of advantages for the mega guild structure, but there have also been problems.  I'll cover those in my next post.