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Entering the “Centre of the Storm” with Fleety

As a GM I think you need to have ESP. You certainly need to be a fucking mind-reader. Not that people’s motivations aren’t often transparent, but because sometimes they guild quit and you have no idea why. I think these people do need to learn that I stop caring about anything they think, say or do the moment they leave if they didn’t express that they had an issue before they left. That’s perhaps the worst kind of cowardice.

I’m always suspicious, whether I’m part of a guild’s hierarchy or not, of someone who tells me they aren’t appreciated by their guild. The more they tell me about everything they’ve done the more suspicious I get. Yeah, you did all that so you would be appreciated? What form would the appreciation need to take? A promotion? Can I ask is that the reason you did all this stuff? No! So why does the level of expressed appreciation matter? Maybe you were quietly appreciated. Or maybe what you are doing is simply what is expected of all members? Maybe the people not doing what you are doing are getting the guild hierarchy’s attention?

I think the worst people to be guild officers are universally those who want to be officers and GMs the most. If people are quietly getting on with their business, following their own agenda, which is also completely in line with that of the guild, people who do not want or need a higher guild rank to help people out, farm for materials and always be there at the right time with the right things to say, they are probably the best people to be officers.

The people I’m least likely to promote are the ones who are clearly looking for it. I don’t have ESP and I am not a mind-reader, but people do frequently give themselves away. Before our long gone “Mythic Clique” were ejected at the beginning of the expansion one of the ring leaders kept whispering me with “well intentioned, good advice”. Well he said it was good advice and I was insulted that he thought I needed any. That’s the thing with unsolicited advice it does tend to insult the recipient. After a while he got to be an irritant and I told him about unsolicited advice. He stopped whispering me and moved on to the other GM and when that was getting no traction he started in on the other officer, the only officer I’ve had to remove from the guild. That officer is now a GM of a guild he formed with my whispering friend. Seriously, if you think you can do a better job than I can go and try it for yourself.

Another guy whispered me about a drop in raid sign-ups when he hit Zek’voz. I just said this always happens when raiding gets difficult. Often the “best raiders” move to other guilds. This is because “best raiders” in this context means “best geared”. They think “If I moved to another more progressed guild I can get more gear without having to work hard on this boss.” They’re usually the worst raiders: the most reluctant DPS who won’t soak, enter the pod, push the button or off tank an add, complain most about “lack of progression” and decide to take their awesome metre scores to another guild. After they’ve gone you seem to carry on as well, if not better, than before.

This guy whispers me that “regardless of wipes” he’ll be there. “This week and every week. Wipe or no wipe.” Cheers mate, but why tell me? I will see you doing that. I told one of the other officers and heard “Oh, he said that to me today too!” So I primed the last officer that he should expect a whisper about raid sign-ups being down, but wipe or no wipes the whisperer would still be there! He told me a day or two later that he had had the whisper, almost word for word as I’d predicted, and he had pissed himself with laughter, fortunately it had been an in-game text conversation and not in voice chat.

Worse still is the guy that whispers the GM all the time and is always upbeat and positive. Always eager to tell that he is doing his best to do what the guild needs. Then /ragequits one afternoon feeling undervalued. Then you begin to find out how unhappy they have been for a long time about the lack of appreciation or not being able to play their preferred role in the raid. Having ESP or being a mind-reader would be very beneficial for discerning that the whispering cheerleader was actually really pissed off about something you will only find out about otherwise second hand, after they have left the guild. Don’t assume your GM has ESP or that the people you are whining to are going to run to the GM to champion your righteous cause. They won’t, they never do.

All officers and GMs have those people who are constantly whispering them when they’re online. Suggestions, advice, flag waving, cheerleading, talking about how good someone else is and how they’ve been helping them gear up. We all nod and smile and try to get on with our day as the whispers keep coming with little or no input from us. Mostly they’re well meaning, often they’re just attention seeking. If you ignore them for long enough they usually go away. Permanently. Then people ask why they left the guild, they did so much for it. We sigh and say, yes they made such a big investment in the guild, well, they said they made a big investment, in this guild they said they really liked, but have now left. Was it because they felt undervalued when everything they did was for the kudos or recognition they would get? All that stuff you were doing? Isn’t that the stuff everyone else is doing, or at least should be doing? Could it be that the guy who did it all quietly and didn’t want any kudos or praise is now…promoted or actually an officer? Is that ironic or…?

I’ve also noticed a man thing. Male gamers, of all ages seem to be afflicted with this problem: vagina blindness. This is not to be confused with vagina mining. Some women, and men pretending to be female, take advantage of vagina blindness to get “a lot of help” with everything they need in game. To the point where men are running multiple dungeons with them when they are online, buying them expensive BoE trinkets and levelling gear just to get them across the ilvl threshold into higher content and anything else for them that they need.

Vagina blindness is the yin to Vagina Mining‘s yang. Men (often, hilariously, grown men) will bend over backward to help one or two special guildies…they often justify this to themselves and everyone else as an expression of their desire to just help out. Help out everyone. As long as they have a vagina. Sometimes they become very narrow and focus on one vagina, sometimes they are more promiscuous and try to service two or three at time. Vagina Miners and the sad souls afflicted with Vagina Blindness are excellent fits for one another. However, as an officer or simply a concerned guildie I have to occasionally ask women “Is everything OK or do you need to take out a guild restraining order?” Only a tiny proportion of gamers are vagina miners and not all of them are even female. You find a few of the Vagina Blind in every guild, they’re mostly harmless and if you are the recipient of their attention it ranges from very friendly and really helpful to creepy and asphyxiating. A tiny minority of women will abuse vagina blindness and mine it for all it’s worth, some men pretending to be women will do this too. I’m not sure what the vagina blind are hoping to get out of it…

The very worst guildies for GMs to know how to deal with are usually a combination of all of the above. A whiny, vagina blind, perpetual victim of oversight and undervaluing is one of my all time favourites. Fortunately even men grow out of this sooner or later. Most men.

I’ll give you two examples of how people are in guilds. One person asks for a feast and a cauldron to be put down in a raid. With twenty minutes to go? No. Feasts and cauldrons are, in this expansion especially, prohibitively expensive. So with twenty minutes of the raid left? A cauldron? No! A cauldron requires 100 Anchor Weed, which two weeks ago was changing hands for 670Geach. Now it’s only 320G each. So cauldrons are approximately 32, 000G a pop. That’s only in Anchor Weed, there all the other herbs too, they just seem trivial next to the Anchor Weed. Compare with the guildie who, without asking what the mats are, without telling me they are going buy some because herbing for the is a ball-ache (and, of course, it is), turns up with 20 feasts and gives them to the officer that normally looks after feasts and cauldrons. The same guildie that has been constantly supplying the same officer with almost half million gold’s worth of Anchor Weed. One will get you promoted the other will get you sighed at. Which one are you?

If you’re offended and think I’m talking about you what makes you think that? There are plenty of examples around for me to draw on for these generic categories without even having to have a particular model in mind. Mind reading would be really helpful for any GM / officer, however, sometimes people’s behaviour is so transparent it really isn’t necessary.

“Some people that you see around you, tell you how devoted they are,
They tell you something on Sunday, come Monday they’ve changed their minds.”

I’m only human, I cannot stop musing on things, sometimes long after the event. This only happened 4 days ago as I write this. I still can’t get my head around it. Another guild officer /ragequit. He apparently left politely and without saying any more than “Just like to say goodbye..thank you for having me. Good luck :)” and then removed his two alts. However, if you know what went down and what the aftermath was this truly fits the bill for what we all know as a /ragequit.

What was the problem with this one? Well, there actually wasn’t a problem with this one. He was a good guy and we liked him, I think most of the guild did too. He was on the same page as us when it came to inclusion and tolerance, or so he said, and he was a valuable sounding board and third voice in officer meetings. So what went wrong? Nothing really went wrong we just wanted to discuss how we lead raids and he then he left. There has got to be more to it that that, what happened?

The only issues I had were small and easily fixed. Our Guild has some Raiding Rules, #2 is “Blamestorming and finger pointing after a wipe are not appropriate behaviour. We’re all adults here, we put ourselves out for the other people who have put themselves out to join the raid and make it work. The only behaviour that is unacceptable is not trying.” So when he called out a member of the raid for not following his instructions I needed to nip that in the bud. Also I had to enforce a change back to Push-To-Talk on our voice comms. The regular audible sighs during our encounters were dispiriting, but one outburst of “For fucks sake!” when things went badly was one too many. Small beer, easily fixed.

The main issue I had was the tediousness of his tactics explanations in raids. It’s basic human psychology that after a few minutes of droning people simply turn off. If you’re explaining things to them, giving them say directions how to get somewhere, if the directions are long people will only remember the first and second, the last and maybe something vague in the middle. So a long ramble is completely counter-productive. This goes for raid tactics too. The job of any good raid leader is two fold:

  1. Understand the details of the fight and have a working overview of everything that is going on.
  2. Summarise tactics for each raid group: tanks, healers, melee and ranged. Highlight (only) the most important things.

Our raid leader had 1. nailed…2. not so much. So we had a meeting. I deliberately avoided words like tedious, drone or lecture, focusing on synopsis, summary and nutshell. All I wanted I said was a bit less exposition, a bit more fighting. Playing the game rather than talking about playing the game. More wipe, more learn, less chat. However, we were at pains to emphasise how good a job we thought he was doing. Raid leading is not easy, can be stressful and raids are pretty chaotic at the best of times. All I wanted was a brief synopsis of the raid mechanics and pull! Even if you wipe (and you are going to wipe) you get to see the raid mechanics, what the adds and spells look like and what you need to be alive to.

Now I just asked for more of a synopsis of the bosses then quickly moving to pulling and seeing. He responded that the bosses in Uldir are difficult and complex, even on normal difficulty. Well, Zek’voz is a bit over-tuned and hard on healers, even on normal. But Taloc, Mother, Fetid Devour and Vectis are not complicated fights and once you get the basics sorted it is, as it is for pretty much every fight, executing it (near) correctly repeatedly through the cycling phases. After all this is easy mode. Simple. “No they’re not.” Sorry, I thought you were an ex-mythic raider? Even for a journeyman, heroic raider like myself these fights, even tier 1 BfA Uldir, are pretty easy. We certainly did not need or benefit from a 40 minute lecture on every boss move, debuff and mechanic of the Vectis fight! We would’ve downed Vectis that first Friday if we had had less talk more fight. In two and a half hours we engaged bosses 8, perhaps as many as 9, times. We reached Vectis at 22:00 ST and squeezed in a extra time pull and finished at 23:15. We pulled Vectis 3 times!

Vectis

Razor-toothed arse-hole on a stick?

At one point an officer said they were starting to get a little bit confused and could we just try it and see? “You’ll all die.” Well, wiping is not a particularly bad thing in a raid, wiping is learning. Wiping is certainly not as bad as the five minute silence that followed this snappish remark. You should probably know the raid is getting restless when they prank pull the boss saying “Think fast.” You might take more notice when it’s the GM. 9 boss engagements? We spent more time on tactics than we did fighting that Friday night. Second pull we took Vectis to 9% and with another couple of tries we could easily have downed him, because Vectis is not a complex fight. I can absolutely assure you that we did not take Vectis to 9% thanks to the extremely detailed and rambling tactics and mechanics explanation that spanned and prank pull and lasted 40 minutes. It had everything to do with the tanks who simple disregarded the bad tactics we had focussing on too many unavoidable problems (Omega Vector) and distilled the fight down two two marks to alternate between when the add spawned in phase 1. In phase 2 soak all the red circles and kill any adds. Rince and repeat. Easy fight. None of which I said.

Our officer meeting lasted about 25 minutes. 5 mins of of AOB. Then 5 minutes of discussion then 15 minutes of mainly me trying to reassure the officer that I did think he was doing an excellent job (particularly of 1 above) and saying we just want to have shorter ‘nutshelled’ tactics and more pulling and wiping (if necessary). His only response to the guild calling-out was that he apologised. I know mate and it was a good, fulsome apology but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We don’t do that, Rule 2! “It looked like he wasn’t following the raid leader’s instructions!” I know, but we still don’t do it. “I apologised!” Er…this has become cyclical. As for PTT in voice chat he had no recollection of swearing. Or sighing all the time? You do remember snapping “You’ll all die.” and sulking for almost 5 minutes though?

For 15 minutes he was almost silent, apart from the occasional big sigh. I think he went into a shutdown. He did say a couple of things. “Why have you saved all this up and not discussed it with me at the time?” This is the very first opportunity since the last raid for us to do this, all our work and familial responsibilities done we can now get together online. “I didn’t think I was doing a bad job.” You’re not, what could possibly make you think that, we’ve been at pains to praise, bolster and encourage while trying to hone your leading. We want you to continue. We can all improve this is just some support. We can all work together at making the tactics more precise and concise. We want to help. “I’m disappointed…” I am too, I don’t know why you’re taking it like this. “I feel undermined…I don’t think I have the confidence to continue,” Sorry now you’re being a fucking drama queen. I replied “OK you’ve got a lot to digest. We’ll leave you alone to make your decision.” The decision to leave, you’ve clearly already made. Made the moment anyone suggested your raid leading, though good, could possibly improve.

The truth is I think this /ragequit had it’s roots in me not offering to kick a guildie he didn’t like. What did this guildie do? Suggested the raid leader must be a tall skinny bloke. Was he Nicholas Lyndhurst and posted a picture of Lyndhurst on Discord and called the Raid Leader Rodney a couple of times. What? Yeah, I know that’s it. Oh, he was concerned that people were then “demanding” he post a real photo to prove he wasn’t Rodney Trotter. “Why didn’t he just post a picture of Rodney and say ‘See no resemblance whatsoever’?” That’s what I said! That and the tank doing raid tactics (especially when they were so goddamn effective: 9%!)

For the people that had him on their friend’s list and couldn’t even contact him to wish him good luck and ask him for his side on what went down…well he has left Draenor, sharded one level 120 character (effectively), his paladin alt. His main has been renamed and server and faction transferred to Silvermoon. No really. That’s what I call a fucking full fat /ragequit. A guild, a server, a faction and everyone who knew him.

Burn it! BURN IT! So Sylvanas attacked the city she called home before the Lich King raised her to be the Banshee Queen. In a stroke a genius and courage Blizzard had the Horde war chief burn down Teldrassil. Setting the tone for an entire expansion for Horde. It should’ve been a warning for Alliance players that their factions response would be a half-baked effort to retake Lordaeron ending in failure again.

For those who love lore the Horde‘s Zandalar zone are ambitious and detailed. Questing never takes you far from the central story line of securing the assistance of the Zandalari, the fleet Sylvanas so badly needs, by securing internal security for the Troll nation. Nazmir a gloomy and atmospheric swamp zone, it is dark in very good way and never becomes the oppressive and difficult grind of vanilla Duskwallow. The struggle to contain the Blood Troll threat and prevent them from summoning their Loa dominates the questing experience.

Voldun is a desert zone, but like none other. Where Tanaris is a featureless sand dune waste peppered with troll ruins, Voldun is a varied and multifarious zone…peppered with troll ruins. In the north, where the Tortollan Seekers have a base the zone is dark with dripping trees and Naga on the coast. Further south there are salt pans, dunes, rocky outcrops and Vulpera. I could talk about the Vulpera all day. These cute little fox people are fun and at the same time engaging and they weren’t enough with their adorable caravan mounts and alpacas then you get equally cute little snake people too. If these two are not playable races soon then Blizzard have missed a trick…Vulpera are all Horde Blizzard.

If I have one criticism of Battle for Azeroth (BfA) it has to be that the levelling is too quick. I started in Nazmir (the yellow zone), progressed to Vol’dun (the red zone) and dinged 120 in no time and had even reached Zuldazar (the green) zone. So much, so concerning…a three zone expansion with very fast levelling completed in two zones. There are another 3 zones on another island, but, trust me, I’m coming to that.

Sooner or later you’re going throw away those last legendaries and hung up you spend Artefact Weapon and reach the requisite item level for normal 5 man dungeons. This is probably where your first big shock is going to hit you. Blizzard have torn up their own rule book and gone back on many things they said they wouldn’t. Threat mechanics are back. This may seem like a retrograde step, but the advantages, if Blizzard stick to their guns (taking bets they won’t), are manifold.

Tanks are tanking again, this mean more emphasis on collecting up mobs, positioning them well and maintain aggro on them all. Less emphasis is now placed on active mitigation, which increasing became a synonym for self-healing. If tanks are tanking more, struggling to keep aggro, and self-healing less healers will be concentrating on the main task of keeping their tank alive. Think about it…tank healers will make a return in raids and with them raid healers. The best DPS in raids and 5 man content will not those with the flat-out highest metre numbers, but those that take the least damage, therefore require the least healing, and also put out good DPS. This adds complexity and depth to group compositions and reduces the tank/healer overlap.

The substantial nerf to threat for tanks has exposed some really dire practice and even worst tanks. I’m looking at you Demon Hunters. Demon Hunters have become the new Death Knights. You zone into a dungeon and see the tank is a DH and consider just leaving and waiting 30 minutes to queue again. Seriously. One good thing about the threat chances is it will make DPS think twice about switching into a tank spec, queuing as tank and think they can tank. Yeah queues for random dungeons may get longer, but the upside of even this downside is more Guild group are getting organised, even to complete a quest in an heroic 5 man. Hopefully as many real tanks will get rolled and levelled, we just want have to tolerate the shitfest of people who cannot tank, blithely tanking for an insta-queue. I’ll tolerate a slightly longer queue time for that. Some people are talking about the threat reduction, from the ludicrous 1700% (try ripping it off me bitch) for tanks in Legion, to around the 400% mark as being a return to vanilla tanking. You clearly were not there. 400% is a level more appropriate to Mists of Pandaria and no cried their, while I did as tanking was becoming derisory, but no one listens to people begging for more difficulty in pockets of the game.

Here’s another backtrack you will notice in 5 man content: dungeon size. Dungeons are bigger. Blizzard are putting the same 3 to 5 bosses in them so how do you fill the space? Trash, of course. Massive amounts of trash are back! I love big detailed rambling dungeons: Stratholme, old-Blackrock Depths, Zul’Farrak. I hate ramshackle messes: old Uldaman, Maraudon, Dire Maul. Sadly the MOTHERLODE! for one falls into the latter category…too many repetitive trash packs, simply stretching the run out to fill the available space. Take some trash out and put in another boss, it’ll take less time and be more fun, it’s not rocket science.

Picking up where Legion left off we have profession related quest chains. Now this was a potentially a great addition, I say potentially because in Legion it introduced discreet expansion profession levelling and RNG recipe drops. Professions now are discreet in the sense that you can level them in one expansion regardless of your progression in another. My Legion enchanting can be 1, but I can still level and max out enchanting in BfA. This plays heavily to the convenience and utility crowd. If they level an alt or any new character they want to barrel through to max level at max speed. Then they want their their professions to be ready to roll in current expansion content.

What is the downside of this change? Immersion and commitment to you character development. This is was a RPG after all. Yes I meant was. For those is a real rush there is a character boost, it takes you to the maximum level of the previous expansion, why not max-level of two professions with a basic set of recipes and training ready to start in the new expansion. Perfectly good solution. There should be a reward for those who put in all the work to grind out the profession levels and a sacrifice involved in throwing it all in and taking up new professions in a new expansion. If there isn’t where is the character progression…how is my 14 years character with max level professions and esoteric recipe back catalogue any more valuable than a character rolled and boosted yesterday?

Reputations are back with a Mists of Pandaria style vengeance. Why gate gear behind reputations? For most of us by the time we’ve reach revered with a faction we don’t want the gear they will now sell us. What the hell are pets doing behind all the reputation walls too. I now have to join the rep grind to access all the companion pets I want. While we’re on the subject some things do not need to bleed into the rest of the game. PvP can remain hermetically sealed from the PvE game, achievements and quest chains. So can Pet Battling…It beggars belief to see people not interested in Pet Battles doing them for Azerite Empowerment and reputation rewards!?

Speaking of PvP…War Mode? Never had it on. Island Scenarios a scenario with faux PvP. Need I say more…more than 25 pets drop randomly in Island Scenarios. I don’t know what Blizzard are trying to prove but it seems like they will incentivise all their bad content to get people to do it. Warfronts. Warfronts are just dogshit. It’s like a ramped up capture the flag faux PvP LFR. I’m not even sure it’s possible to lose. I’ve seen people riding around aimlessly or ignoring all the objectives and farming rares for loot. Again utilisation will be high as 340 loot can drop randomly and weekly reward for completing this time sink is 370 gear. Yeah that’s gear that’s better than the normal tier 1 raid gear. What is it for Heroic raiding? I’d like to say something positive about War Fronts.

This week it’s Monday and the War Front is 88% completed. I keep hearing the same arguments I dismissed for Timeless Isle in Mists of Pandaria. I said the island was dogshit and night and day compared to the Isle of Thunder. My Guild Master at the time disagreed and farmed Timeless for all he was worth. Sadly their were no powerups to player skill or a good person boost. I returned that if he was leveling through MoP the Timeless Isle would get no use whatsoever even if it does offer an ilvl boost into the next expansion. Once the gear is farmed out no one will ever go there.

I was wrong about that…there are random pet drops from the rarer spawns on Timeless Isle that ensure people (like me) keep revisiting. We don’t go there for any other reason and no one holds warm memories for the Timeless Isle which will always be remember as one of Blizzard‘s less subtle and well formed catchup, added area content zones. War Fronts are tedious and frustrating by the very fact it is impossible to lose. Just add a skip option to the loot and find out how much people actually like playing through a War Front. It will come as a surprise to no one that you can ride around a War Front doing nothing, engaging nothing, picking up no wood or iron and win and get a gear upgrade. If it can be done you know people already are.

Which brings us around finally to the raid…first impressions (5/8N) is that the raid is over-tuned. As a introductory raid in a new expansion it’s a very tough challenge and a poorly paced and scaled. the first two bosses are pretty good fights with some interesting mechanics and, although occasionally punishing for minor mistakes, pretty well designed. However, the apparently item level requirement to make an easy mode run comfortable, and not a complete ball ache, are way to high. The dungeon should be pitched to heroic dungeon graduates, perhaps taking their first steps into raiding, with an average item level of around 315 – 320. Experience suggests that a raid will struggle if most of their members are not somewhere around 340. This requires your new raider to have run Mythic and LFR arguably, neither of which should be necessary for a normal (easy mode) raid. Which begs the question is there is going to be a step between top level Mythic raid gear and next raid tier (not necessarily easy mode gear, but certainly heroic gear) how what is the gap between easy mode t1 and t2 gear going to be like and are we going have farm LFR and Mythic +6,7,8 to get a gear level to make us competitive against the second tier content? BLizzard have got off on the wrong foot and have created an issue when the y balance between tier the whole expansion going forward.

Raids should ramp up in diffuclty too. First boss has traditionally been a straight forward, almost tank and spank warm up. Second bosses introduce a new mechanic and a jump in difficulty. Four boss are usually tricky and sharpen up your team (Tortos, the raid breaker). The first boss in Uldir (Ulduar, no Uldir), Taloc, is an interesting fight. OK it’s not terribly challenging and Mother ramps up a notch in the difficult stakes. She’s pretty easy to overcome and quickly mastered however, we had her on farm (easy mode) the first night pretty much. The Fetid Devourer is ridiculously simple, much more of an expansion’s first boss encounter. Third? It’s as if you climb on the raid progress ladder with Taloc, climb to the second rung quite easily and hesitantly pull up another notch passed Mother. At Letid Devourer you climb up easily and then the rung snaps and you drop to rung two snapping that and taking rung one out as well. Climbing up from the ground to Zek’Voz look and feels like a giant step up now and it is. After three relatively easy bosses you laughingly cantor forward and faceplant the fourth boss. Echoes of Mists again as boss five, Vectis, is stupidly easy. Stand here on this mark until an add spawns, move to other mark, kill add. Back on the boss. Rince and repeat. Phase two, soak one (and only one) red circle each per round, but soak all red circles as a raid, and avoid the waves of spikes shouting out across the floor from the boss. Phase 1. Rince and repeat and boss dies. You wouldn’t want to spend 40 minutes talking tactics.

As much content as Legion if not more? True, but it’s not the PvE content I was looking for. Warlords of Draenor 2.0? Certainly not, well it’s too early to tell. The launch was as bad as WoD is some ways with more people crowded onto realm servers thanks to sharding and phasing tech, with no thought to the effect on trade systems, crippling mail, guild banks and Auction Houses. The Warcraft Devs laid down a good blueprint for content delivery in Legion and if BfA metes it out at a similar rate and doesn’t deliver the content drought of WoD then it will be a success, albeit a qualified one.

 

If you’re new to pet battling or just new to WoW and want some help diving in you’ve come to the right place. The mechanics of pet battles are very straight forward: right click a pet with the green paw symbol over its head, your pets and the opposition then take turns to pummel each other. On your turn each round you have a choice of three abilities to use (for pets at 25, lower level pets won’t have unlocked all their abilities). Each (max level) pet has six abilities and you choose three, at the beginning of the battle each ability is locked and you cannot change them again until the battle is over.

Pets belong to one of ten families. One family will be particular good at damaging one other pet family and will be defensively strong against another. Equally that same family will hit weakly against another pet family and have a weak defence against a further one. When faced with opponents of a certain pet family countering them with pets from another specific family that they have a weak defence or strike against is a good plan. This table at the excellent Warcraft Pets is a valuable resource. To complicate things and mix it up pets can have abilities from multiple pet families. For example, a Dragon family pet can have a magical attacks. Selecting a pet then becomes about selecting a family with a strong defence against the family of attacks the opponent has, while doing attacks that are strong against the family of pets that the opponent is.

Warcraft Pets has more details on the basic mechanics of pet battles but this should get you started. Once you have collected a few basic pets, bought from vendors in major cities, you can begin battling and capturing “wild” pets., putting teams together and levelling your pets and capturing more. BfA pets are all level 25, so to capture and defeat them you are going to need your own level 25 pets. I’m going to make some suggestions of a small handful of easily obtainable pets you should level to 25 to really get going.

Starter Stable

  • Lil’ Smoky – this is a superb pet, even in green (common) iteration. Made by engineers, or bought from the Auction House, this is valuable mechanical addition to a starter stable. If you can obtain a Flawless Battle-Stone or Flawless Mechanical Battle-Stone a blue (rare) Lil’ Smoky is fantastic. Minefield is a key ability, with Launch Rocket, to set up a huge damage hit that can effectively neutralise any second opponent pet.
  • Emerald Proto-whelp – easy to farm in The Savage Thicket, Scholazar Basin, Northrend what makes this Dragon such a great starter team pet is that against most pet families it’s unkillable with Emerald Presence and Emerald Dream, or take Ancient Blessing if you need to soak damage for awhile until some (perhaps 15 round) debuff falls off (many of the Legendary pets in Tanaan Jungle had these effects).
  • Nexus Whelpling – not far from Sholazar, in Coldarra, Northrend, it shouldn’t take too long to capture a rare magical Dragon. The Arcane Storm | Mana Surge combo is devastating.
  • Unborn Val’kyr – these pets are dotted over Northrend in very specific locations and make this pet much more difficult to farm, but it is worth the effort, Curse of Doom and Haunt make this pet devastating in any armour damaging combo.
  • Ikky – alot of critters and flying pets have a Flock-like three round attack that shatters armour and makes pets vulnerable to attacks the following rounds. What makes Ikky valuable is Black Claw which adds an additional 136 damage to every attack over then next 3 rounds. A quest that is worth completing in Spires of Arakk, Draenor.
  • Anubisath Idol – rock hard, well he is made of stone. Worth farming the classic Ahn’Qiraj raid instance, in Silithus, just to get this pet. Deflection is always useful for avoiding the killer attack, and Standstorm and Stoneskin are viable choices as are both the reliable Crush and Demolish, but at 50% hit chance Demolish is very RNG dependent.

Pair these pets cleverly and you can destroy most teams of three. This is an invaluable requirement for pet farming and levelling. When farming for new rare, level 25 pets you should always be levelling your other pets and improving your stable. Many guides exist listing perfect groups of pets you should collect in rare quality, level to 25 and then use to strengthen your team. With the starter stable pets you’ll be able to get this process under way.

Always have your Starter Stable pairing healed and ready to go with one level 1 pet in slot three. Your approach should be to kill one pet and take at least half the health off the second opponent. When your first Starter Stable pet dies select your Level 1 pet. Do not Pass or attack with the level 1 pet. Your next move immediately after swapping it in is to Switch Pet and bring in the other level 25 Starter Stable pet. Just facing the opponent is enough for the levelling pet to get Experience (and level up). In BfA most wild pet battles, using this technique will take a level 1 pet to level 8 in one go. Unless you are grinding one pet up to 25 to fill a spot in your Stable swap in a new level 1 pet after every wild battle and go again, taking the level 1 to 8. If this sounds tricky rest assured, against most pet families, all the Starter Stable pets can often solo three wild pets and you will have to Pass several rounds to get them killed on the last pet so you can face them with the level 1.

What pets should I level for BfA?

All the Starter Stable pets are suitable for wild pet battling in BfA. However, each expansion, and continent, has Battle Pet Tamers or NPCs with battle pet teams that you should be facing for rewards. In BfA the main reward is the new Polished Pet Charm token that will allow you to buy the many pets available in this expansion. Defeating these Tamers is frequently a lot more difficult than battling wild pets. For these NPCs you are going to need not just families of pets but specific pets, worst still sometimes you will need specific breeds. Often you will need to follow a very tightly dictated rotation without which you will have no chance even with the right specific pet and breed.

This is a list of pets I have found invaluable in defeating the BfA Tamers. I always try to select the most accessible pets and the simplest strategies wherever possible. I have also been trying to use the same pets in as many fights as possible and if I can find a strategy for defeating them all with the Iron Starlette I will! I will complete this list and update it with pets that are simpler to find, capture and use as I stumble on them but at this point in the expansion these pets work (and the strategies to employ will follow).

BfA Pet Stable

Iron Starlette Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling
Clockwork Gnome Swamp Croaker
Teroclaw Hatchling Ikky
Nexus Whelpling Nether Faerie Dragon
Feline Familar Pandaren Water Spirit
Rapana Whelk (x2)

I was talking about guild drama the other night and stumbled into the middle of a conspiracy theory. I don’t have any time for conspiracy theories but they are fun, sometimes coincidence is a cruel mistress. In the following account only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I was in a guild some time ago, let’s call them Duality, not that they figure much in this story. A friend of mine in Duality, let’s call her Velvetbringer (thank you Blood Elf Name Generator) told me that she had had some weird experiences online with some random guy. Apparently he really wanted to marry Velvetbringer who he has never met in real life or seen photos of. Draenor-EU isn’t a RP server either so that’s just weird. Nothing really unusual about this: woman on Internet creeped out by a man. He we shall name Phalluspate©.

Meanwhile in another time, another place, you find me a guild officer (again) and looking after the shop. Now, after the release of an expansion and a few weeks before raiding is due to get underway again I start to become aware that a small group of four are gearing faster than anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with this, it will happen in any guild, someone has to be the quickest, someone the slowest. I believe this is called maths. The only problem I had was that one of the four, Treestream, was an officer and another, Nightfall, held a senior position in the guild.

Now for most of you this still won’t sound odd. However, in this particular guild we had a very clear policy of inclusion, cooperation and unity. I tried my best, along with the other officers, to gently hint and encourage these four try to engage in the project of gearing everyone, so that the entire team would be ready to raid when, or shortly after, the tier opened. The best response I got was sarcastic and dismissive.

Treestream was invited to (actually two) officer meetings to sort this “misunderstanding” out. He needed to address making unilateral decisions about promotions, whole guild meetings about raiding, focussing his efforts on gearing only himself and a tiny clique and not communicating with the other officers and ignoring meeting invites. We needed to plan how we could systematically gear up everyone that wanted to raid. It takes two seconds to get on Discord and post “Sorry I cannot make it tonight RL.” There’s even a phone app. So not turning up and not sending apologies is at best rude at worst arrogant and overly confident of your position.

In Treestream‘s awkward absence we confronted Nightfall about running all these mythics back to back when we, the other officers and many members, were trying to get everyone to max level and an ilevel that allowed queuing for heroic 5 mans. She gave me a lot of flannel. One piece caught my attention, in a nutshell she liked doing mythic and wanted to gear up to “help the raid” as much as possible “with progress”. She would get to this other “shit” when she’d geared. Now the shit, as she referred to it, was either a) helping other guild members or b) other guild members themselves. We chose to believe a) and we still didn’t like it.

It bothered us that she was running mythic with only three others. While Nightfall claims she’d only run a couple of mythics (ever) with Treestream and didn’t really know him we thought it odd he would unilaterally promote her to “Ranged DPS Leader”. She didn’t know what she had done wrong. It’s not what you’ve done, there is nothing wrong with what you’ve done per se, it’s what you haven’t done. Having a senior guild rank and not helping other guildies out wasn’t compatible so we had to demote her, busting her down to er…full member rank. She didn’t respect that decision and /ragequit.

I’ve played this MMO for thirteen years, Some phrases are coded and carry, often unspoken assumptions with them. So arguments in favour of having some people push to be better geared to make progress easier is code for having better geared people to carry the rest of the raid. When they get tired of carrying (immediately) you can implement two tier raiding with the “better” (read better geared) players in Team A. The rest of the people can raid on “a non-progress” night.

So a core of four apparently more raid and gear focused individuals in your guild can be problematic. Sooner or later they will being making statements that include most of the following; progress, frustration, repairs, wiping all night, carrying, less skilled, more DPS. It’s worse when two of the four are tanks and one is an officer. You can accuse me of paranoia and control freakery if you will but I see a coup brewing. It’s difficult to topple a Guild Master, it’s not difficult to hijack a raid and steal all the “best (geared) raiders”. The unspoken threat these people posed was of being too important to the guild to risk losing. Two well geared tanks and the (self appointed) Raid Leader.

The attitude of this clique, the sarcasm and dismissiveness towards officers, the outright lies in Nightfall‘s self justification (that made us question everything she said), Treestream’s arrogance and refusal to attend meetings or even message his regrets just irked me. After thirteen years I have seem all kinds of bullshit you just wouldn’t believe. Guild splits with the ex-GM leaving to form a raid guild with the best raiders. Tanks from other guilds stealthing into a guild and poaching the “best raiders”. It all boils down to the same asshatery in the end, adults playing a game and behaving like children. In a community guild that places equal value on all its members, no one person, or raid tank, is any more important than another. Sometimes you’re better off without these people.

Nighfall left and we kicked Treestream, then we kicked the others for their obnoxious attitude and being part of a little cancer in the guild that I hoped wouldn’t spread. Sometimes you make these decisions and no matter how sound you think they are you worry about the fall out and long term consequences anyway. So it was with some trepidation that I logged on the next day, I took a deep breath as I logged in. I expected a barrage of questions, a few people complaining about he loss, in one fell swoop, of the four best geared raiders, a few guild quits, complaints, sullenness.

I was staggered by the guild’s response. All that day, that evening and the whole next day guild chat was buzzing with vivacity and activity. Not one single person asked me what had occurred but the atmosphere in the guild was one of laughter, amiableness and togetherness. As I wrote on Discord the night before “Inclusion and community are easy concepts to grasp and pay lip service to. We’re not doing that, we’re serious.” It seems like people really took that to heart. Since then we’ve all, and I do mean all, been pushing hard to level and gear each other. Some people have run mythics too…there never was anything wrong running mythics.

So we’re reflecting on how things work out and Velvetbringer is poking around on wowprogress.com and points my attention to a newly formed guild: PenisEnlargement. With Treestream as GM, well I guess that kinda confirms my worst fears and sorts out who the ring leader was. Nightfall is an officer of course. I wonder who will be grinding herbs and ore for the entire guild and when he will get sick of doing it? We can’t imagine who will lower themselves to do recruitment in a guild full of narcissists? Good luck. You’ll need it. When people join and gear themselves then leave, taking some of your raid with them, remember you can’t bitch and complain.

LOL It comes to my attention as I write this that PenisEnlargement are whispering guild members trying to poach. If anyone wants to join you you’re welcome to them mate. Really. No problem, Il advertised your guild in guild chat and encourage anyone who puts progress before people to try you first. There are a lot of guilds out there like that, that’s fine, I say join one, please don’t try to change us. Apparently the whisper (as posted in to guild chat) runs something like “Your[sic] in a gratzing guild that recruits in Trade and has had a raid leader kicked and is losing members hand over fist.” One small point, Raid Leader was a self-appointed aggrandisement, I thought we’d agreed to share that role…but whatever.

Then we discover something even weirder. Treestream was in a guild called (er…) Hydrophobia. our ex-GM and good friend shouts: “Hydrophoba! I know their GM!”
“How come?”
“Well I was recruiting and spamming Trade chat one afternoon and she was asking all her ex-members to come back to the guild. It turns off it was her birthday and she logged on in the morning to say hi and see you all tomorrow, I won’t be on all day – birthday celebrating. People said happy birthday. Some time that day, after she logged off, one of the officers started kicking everyone I felt so sorry for her I offered mine and Duality‘s help, if could in any way.”
“Wow! Hydrophobia is the guild Phalluspate© was in!”
“Phalluspate©! That was the officer that kicked everyone.”
“What? Your stalker, your GM friend and Treestream were all in the same guild?”

It’s a small world, and the WoW Community is smaller. Hey, funny coincidence though. It would be more scary than funny if Treestream turned out to be an alt of Phalluspate© though…

I’ve blogged about my guild history before. In Wrath I flirted with hardcore raidering for a while. I don’t know how good I was. I was never the top DPS, but sometimes I put out the most damage. I don’t die and I don’t take a lot of healing which is what you want from a warlock really. It doesn’t matter if you can cheese the metre at points in the fight, but it really helps if you’re alive deep into the encounter to lay down some damage and push the team over the line. I decided after Wrath that I was less interested in the higher levels of raiding than I was in making friends and having fun. I was recruited in Cata for a very specific role: to fill out a bench / “Team B” roster and bring some experience. I actually liked the sound of this.

Mid tier the officer that recruited me went on a break, Team B decided it would continue pushing and progress into Firelands, then the current tier. We voted on a name, a banner to rally behind, foolishly I joked “Team Ruta” and that was their choice. The first / progression team selected Team A as their name. Losing the officer we lost our raid leader, so we decided we wouldn’t have one. With no raid leader there was no one to shout at people, get sarcastic, complain about wiping, ask who fucked up. Many in Team Ruta said they’d never had as much fun raiding and would never, ever raid with Team A‘s raid leader again. Occasionally, Team A members who couldn’t raid on their nights that week came along with us, they’d try to “raid lead” for us which meant calling out all the stuff that Boss Mods announce. We didn’t want or need that, so we stopped them. Without blamestorming and finger-pointing the team gelled and started taking individual responsibility for any mistakes they made. This made other team members confide in us when they messed up and offer advice if they’d solved a particular problem themselves.

So we supported and encouraged each other and played as hard as we could because we genuinely didn’t want to let the rest of the team down. Relying on ourselves and our boss mod addons we became better, more independent raiders. No one could forget or be too busy to call out massive boss damage incoming or all stack on the left so ten people had to remember for themselves…and did. I’d like to tell you we trounced Team A and Team Ruta cruised to a comfortable first guild defeat of The Madness of Deathwing. Sadly that would be bullshit. However, for a team existing to fill gaps in the first team, a reserve pool to call on if first teamers were missing or couldn’t turn up, backups, we did give them a good run.

So recently I got arm twisted into forming my own guild, it didn’t take that much pressure, but it is still Mori’s fault. I think it’s our guild, but she seems to want to distance herself from that idea. If I am going to do this and get to be the GM this time, I can write the rules and this time implement them too. Being the only one around during days I get to do all the recruitment too, which can be an annoying, tedious chore, but does allow you to be very selective. Particularly satisfying when poor huntard, ex-guildies ask to join. Of course you too would decline them because you have too many people they wouldn’t like: “hypercrytes”, people who don’t play the game any more and having rules banning backstabbers.

So what is the great experiment we’re running? Well, I’ve been dismissed as a casual on many occasions since Cata by people who aspire to skip through Flex (normal) and then stumble through Heroic level raids trying to keep their raid team together. Define casual? These same people have argued that I’m living in a dream world believing that 10+ adults can motivate themselves to complete an heroic raid. That without a guy (and it usually is a man) shouting or growling, chastising mistakes and bullying the team along there would be no progress. There would also be no progress if you insisted on having any and all guild members that want to attend a raid in your raid. Some people are so bad they have to be excluded. Or if you want to be more inclusive and push for any progression you have to have two raid tiers: the progress team and the others who are shit and need carrying. The language is usually different but that is what they mean.

So the experiment is that our new guild is to be inclusive on all levels. We don’t tolerate intolerance or prejudice, we welcome all races, genders and sexualities. We also welcome all guild members to our raid, no one is excluded. We have a raid leader, but his job is to impart tactics and advise. Not to duplicate the boss mod announcements or tell off adults for “standing in the fire” in a video game. I swear to you I’ve told managers to fuck off and quit job(s) where I’ve been treated with more respect than I’ve had from some GMs and Raid Leaders. Does anyone believe that I can happily walk out of paid employment when given unreasonable shit but I will stay in a guild that treats its members like children who need hand holding and/or some shouting at? Not happening. We may be rolling dice with progress but who cares?

Inevitably some people won’t like what I’m trying to do. I’ve been called a feminazi, a snowflake, a fascist, a communist, a cuck, a race traitor and accused of trying to create a safe safe or imposing the tyranny of male oppression (LOL) on poor mistreated while, heterosexual men. Just stating that we have rules underlining that we don’t tolerate racism, sexism or homophobia has been descried as politics, which have no place in a guild. That’s not politics, it’s not left or right, only one political grouping espouse racism, sexism and homophobia: the alt- or extreme right. Tolerance is not political it’s ethical. If you do not treat equally any who is not male, white or heterosexual then you’re excluded from our guild. That’s isn’t politics, I’m not excluding a political group or their ideas, I’m excluding hatred and the people that peddle it. Cunts.

Currently we’ve got about 100 characters and more than half that many people in our guild. They all seem friendly, helpful and supportive, whoever you are and wherever you’re from. I call that winning. We’ve cleared Antorus Normal too, the second time with a team of ten guildies for the achievement. In Battle for Azeroth we’re going to keep on doing what we do and being who we are. I also hope we’re going to clear each raid tier on heroic. However, I won’t be too disappointed if we don’t. I’d rather raid with good people that clear Mythic with cunts. You can quote me.

There was some drama in our guild last night and I have to own up that I started it. I mentioned politics in jest and someone responded…badly. To an extent I agree with the idea that politics has no place in a game. Politics is important and informs all aspects of life. Politics isn’t something that happens elsewhere, in Westminster say, politics is the stuff of everyday lives. However, politics can potential be (though it doesn’t actually need to be) very divisive. Some issues, while they are political, have very important moral and ethical dimensions. I may be happy to tolerate Tories, UKIPers and Brexiteers in my guild. I cannot accept racists, sexists, homophobes and misogynists.

Now ‘Centrist Dad‘ would have you believe many things that are simply not true. “The political centre ground is the best place to be, a place of balance and sanity between two crazed and extreme views.” “There is no such thing as class any more, we’re all working, so we’re all working class.” “Extremes” of left and right wing politics are by no means the same. Politics is not a colour wheel that goes around in a circle with extreme left and right wing views sitting next to each other.

The political centre is often simply an articulation of the status quo and the views of the vested interests that weild power. The Left and Right are opposed fundamentally and disagree on almost everything. Also, some things aren’t a matter of opinion, they’re a matter of fact.  Some ethical ideas leak into the political sphere and become more than simple disagreements about party politics. For example, there are many arguments for a left wing EU exit, or Lexit, arguments that are class-based and not founded on racism or anti-immigrant sentiments. However racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric is morally bankrupt and unethical.

There are ideals and beliefs, and their political expressions, that I will have no truck with. These are deeply help principles that have cost me employment. So rejecting them, on a much lesser stage in a guild, and the people that carry them is small beer. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and curtail anyone’s freedom of speech, I would defend the expression and discussion of ideals, while disagreeing strongly and condemning their proponents. There are public platforms for expressions of free speech, the private realm of a guild is not one of them. I’m happy to reject, exclude and forcibly remove anyone who express racism, sexism or homophobia.

Immigration can be a divisive political issue and I’m happy to debate immigration policies, strengthening or relaxing immigration controls, but I cannot tolerate anti-immigrant or refuge sentiments, forcible repatriation, especially of people who have lived in our country for over sixty years since the Windrush, sentiments based on pure racism. I cannot tolerate anything that seeks to exclude, damage or other people. I cannot condone physically or verbal attacking groups of people and telling them to “go home” (what to Peckham?) Talking about controlling immigration often grows out of racism, but that isn’t necessarily the case, hatred of Jews, Muslims and other non-white British people that’s more straight forward.

The new or alt-Right in politics has appropriated the language of Liberalism, co-opting Centrist Dad‘s everywhere, to legitimise it’s race hatred, gender oppression and has sought to turn these things on their heads. Racism is now defence of the “oppressed white majority” and patriotism, anti-feminist rhetoric claims it is men who are actually oppressed which is ‘an inversion of the natural order‘. Islamophobia isn’t racist because Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. Multiculturalism is a perversion that breeds racism bringing incompatible cultures together and promotes the mixing of races that are and should remain distinct. Underpinning these lies and distortions are appeals to free speech and tolerance of ideas. The very things the Right stands against. Make no mistake, if the Right achieves power again (and it is beginning to do so in Germany, with the AfD, and already has with the Fidesz victory in Hungary) then criticism of the state, the white majority and patriarchy will be repressed and marginalised, as it is in Russia.

“Politics” perhaps shouldn’t be discussed in a guild context or any mixed company. However, ethical rejections of racism, oppression and the distortions of truth perpetrated by fascists, both overt and declared or disguised and politically correct, should be discussed in any fora including guilds. Fascism and all oppressive, discriminatory, anti-democratic ideas do need to be dragged out into the light of day, rejected and ultimately removed. Even if you lose guild members. I’ll take 10 non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic inclusive egalitarians over 50 fascists any day.

Call me what you like I’m a Marxist.

/2 “A word to the wise ain’t necessary- it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” <The Coffin Dodgers> We don’t tolerate intolerance or shouty raid leaders. Socials are always needed, melee particularly sought for laid back raiding.

My recruitment spam may not be to your taste. That may actually be by design. I do not want just anyone in my guild. We’re a community and most of us are over 35 so I don’t want any twenty- or thirty-somethings who believe (quite erroneously) that they are right, very mature and ‘fully growed up now’. That kind of drama and opinionated smugness I can do without, I have opinated smugness and drama all of my own.

This needs no commentary:

Expect a comment about the track selection being “hot garbage”. Don’t give a shit what you think mate.

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