What an eventful life I have had.

•September 18, 2011 • 3 Comments

From the outside looking in, I appear to be an average guy. I have a wife, six kids, two dogs, a cat and an average size home. I live close to my parents and visit them often. I have a cool job, not extraordinary, with descent pay and good security. But, if I take you deeper, if I tell you of the journey I have made and let you get a glimpse behind the curtain you will wonder how I became ordinary.

I have traveled in 30 of 50 U.S. states, 1 U.S. territory, and 2 foreign countries. I have crossed the U.S. from coast to coast 4 times. To some  people this may seem pretty lame, to those who have barely traveled to neighboring states, this will be cool. It is one of my life’s goals to travel to all 50 states, and to several more countries. (to include Norway, England, and Italy)

I served on-board a U.S. Submarine and worked with nuclear reactors. Traveling to unknown depths of the ocean may not be your thing, but you have to admit it is cool. The teamwork skills I learned while on the submarine have carried me through-out my life and the electrical skill I learned helped me transition from sailor to electrician and then to firefighter.

You will remember the 2002 Olympics in SLC, but what you may not remember is the awesome closing ceremony fireworks, but I do. I helped set them up and was 1 mile south of the stadium when they launched them. There were fireworks launching 360 degrees around me. I believe I had one of the very best spots to watch them. There really is nothing like feeling and hearing the ballistic pressure of a large firework going up. The show is by far the best one I have ever seen and by far the best one I have ever helped produce.

I have been a nursing student, yes I have. I wanted to be a surgical nurse and so I got a nudge from a VA nurse to come see the work environment, which I did. While there I got to attend an open-heart surgery. I watched as they cracked his chest and slowly separated the chest wall lining from the heart and lungs. I was only 6″ away from his head as I watched his heart pump in his open chest, it was simply mesmerizing.

I am a firefighter, and all the cool and maybe not so cool things that go with that. I have crawled in a burning room, fire blazing all around me, ears burning from the heat. (yes I think this is cool) I have seen aircraft come in with problems that very few people are able to get close to. Although not really cool, I have seen people in different forms of death, from the slow medical conditions to the tragic accidents to the horrific violent deaths. Again, not cool, but few people get to see this side of life.

These are but a few of the things which define who I am. I may appear ordinary, but I am not!

Until next time,

Don’t stand in Fire.

Changing Directions

•September 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I very rarely play WoW anymore, my guild is moving onto SWTOR. With that it is time to take this writing in a different direction, one that I hope will keep me writing more often. The problem with writing about WoW, or any game really, is that there are so many people doing it.  You get lost in the shuffle and by the time you create a defensible opinion someone else has already said it. The same was happening with my Liquidwow segments. I would think about what to record and then just when I thought about talking about it, someone else was. I also found it hard talking about raiding on a show where the hosts weren’t even level capped.

So, I am sure that now you want to know that direction I am going in? Well, this page will be a creative page. Sometimes it will be opinions on the games that I play, sometimes it will be opinions on life, sometimes it will be reflecting on my past, and sometimes it will be about nothing in particular.

I was inspired to do this because, 1) I don’t, now, have the funds to hire Libsyn to host a podcast that I have in mind to do, 2) I have things I want to say but no other outlet that is appropriate, and 3) many of my friends have been taking up the pens, pencils, and keyboards in an effort to create literary work and I am hoping I can be a bit of a muse.

It is likely that once I do get the funds to hire Libsyn that this blog will once again become a bit abandoned or be rolled into a mid-week piece for something that I didn’t want to share on the air. I am leaving the old WoW stuff on here because there are people who may still want to look at it and because there are some pieces (like the Leadership piece) that I think are still appropriate.

Until next time,

Don’t stand in fire!

Controlling the crowd.

•January 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

First lets cover what crowd control is. Crowd control is using a spell or ability to reduce the damage done to the group or the tank specifically. Some forms of crowd control are better used on casters, others are best used on melee. Some forms are used pre-pull and some are used when things are going bad. Most forms of crowd control are limited to the type of mob.

It is up to every tank to know what tools he has in his group and mark pre-pull cc accordingly. The tank, not the dps, is responsible for the pull, don’t just imagine that your group will do what they are supposed to. Communication is key. If you don’t mark it, they won’t cc the way you want them to. Also know whether you want to charge in, or range pull, or pull to one side. Remember that most forms of cc are broken if the mob takes damage, you don’t want an accidental AoE spell to break the cc.

Now that I have called out the tank, time to flip the switch. DPS and Healers are responsible to know what forms of cc they have available to them and how to best use them. If the tank loses control, if a caster is standing in the back casting at your healer, or if indications are that a wipe may soon happen, then take control and use your cc. Act decisively and no one will fault you for it. Don’t be afraid to act. Never cc a mob pre-pull unless the tank tells you to do it, mark or verbal. Always track the mob that you cc, if it breaks and you can reapply it, do it. Never AoE on a crowd controlled mob.

The following is a list of class specific spells that can be used both pre-pull and for oh crap moments.

DK:

Chains of Ice, 20 yd range, Instant Cast

Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing their movement by 60% for 8 sec.  Also infects the target with Frost Fever.

A short form of CC with the only downside being that the DK picks up a small amount of threat over the duration.

Frost DK only:

Hungering Cold, 40 Runic Power, Instant Cast, 1 min cooldown.

Purges the earth around the Death Knight of all heat.  Enemies within 10 yards are trapped in ice, preventing them from performing any action for 10 sec and infecting them with Frost Fever.  Enemies are considered Frozen, but any damage other than diseases will break the ice

A very good way to CC a large group, oh crap moments, but only if people are still controlled enough to not be using AoE spells.
Druid:

Entangling Roots, 7% of base mana, 35 yd range, 1.7 sec cast.

Roots the target in place and causes 370 Nature damage over 30 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.

Read that as a root, very good CC for Melee, but very poor for casters as the caster will continue to use spells.

Hibernate, 7% of base mana, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast.

Forces the enemy target to sleep for up to 40 sec.  Any damage will awaken the target.  Only one target can be forced to hibernate at a time.  Only works on Beasts and Dragonkin.

A very interesting spell with as many Dragonkin and Beasts that are out there. Many mobs are immune but if you can figure out which ones are not you are golden.

Cyclone, 8% of base mana, 20 yd range, 1.7 sec cast

Tosses the enemy target into the air, preventing all action but making them invulnerable for up to 6 sec.  Only one target can be affected by your Cyclone at a time.

Very good CC for short duration control of a caster. Not the best of the bunch.

Nature’s Grasp, Instant Cast,  1 min cooldown

While active, any time an enemy strikes the caster they have a 100% chance to become afflicted by Entangling Roots. 3 charges.  Lasts 45 sec.

Defensive spell used by druids but is very effective at CC’ing or kiteing a mob.

Hunter:

Scare Beast, 25 Focus. 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast

Scares a beast, causing it to run in fear for up to 20 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.  Only one beast can be feared at a time.

Fear bombs are back baby. Proper use of this spell in an open environment with no chance to pull additional mobs make this spell a very good one to have keybound.

Freezing Trap, Instant Cast, 30 sec cooldown

Place a frost trap that freezes the first enemy that approaches, preventing all action for up to 1 min.  Any damage caused will break the ice. Trap will exist for 1 min.

When combined with the trap launcher spell not only makes this a nice form of CC but very controllable as well. If you are a hunter practice this one a lot.

Mage:

Polymorph, 7% of base mana, 35 yd range, 1.7 sec cast

Transforms the enemy into a sheep, forcing it to wander around for up to 50 sec.  While wandering, the sheep cannot attack or cast spells but will regenerate very quickly.  Any damage will transform the target back into its normal form.  Only one target can be polymorphed at a time.  Only works on Beasts, Humanoids and Critters.

By far the best known form of CC. Very reliable when the tank and mage both understand how to use it. The long duration of Polymorph is great the wandering critter is not.

Frost Nova, 7% of base mana, Instant cast, 25 sec cooldown

Blasts enemies near the caster for 368 to 426 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 8 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.

Best used during an Oh crap moment to help the tank round-up mobs. Again works great when everyone is still controlled enough not to be using AoE spells.

Ring of Frost, 7% of base mana, 30 yd range, Instant cast, 2 min cooldown

Summons a Ring of Frost, taking 3 sec to coalesce.  Enemies entering the fully formed ring will become frozen for 10 sec.  Lasts 12 sec.  10 yd radius.

Works great both pre pull and as an Oh crap, short duration freeze makes this more of a round-up toll than a true cc. Tanks need to remember that it takes three seconds for the ring to fully form.

Paladin:

Repentance, 9% of base mana, 20 yd range, Instant cast, 1 min cooldown

Puts the enemy target in a state of meditation, incapacitating them for up to 1 min.  Any damage caused will awaken the target.  Usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids and Undead.

By far my favorite CC. One min cd for a one min CC.

Priest:

Mind Control, 12% of base mana, 30 yd range, 2.5 sec cast

Controls a humanoid mind up to level 41, but increases the time between its attacks by 25%.  Lasts up to 30 sec.

My second most favorite CC. Especially good when the MC target’s spells are good. I love being healed by an enemy healer.

Shackle Undead, 9% of base mana, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast

Shackles the target undead enemy for up to 50 sec.  The shackled unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells.  Any damage caused will release the target.  Only one target can be shackled at a time.

This is a spell that any Wrath priest worth his weight in salt used. Very good CC with a very limited use. This is one spell I wish Blizzard would open up a bit.

Rogue:

Sap, 35 Energy, 10 yd range, Instant Cast

Incapacitates the target for up to 1 min.  Must be stealthed.  Only works on Humanoids, Beasts, Demons and Dragonkin that are not in combat.  Any damage caused will revive the target.  Only 1 target may be sapped at a time.

probably the second most known form of CC. With the increased range from the good old days this is an easy form to use. Can and should be applied pre pull. The rogue should have a finger on vanish in case this fails. Please be patient with rogues as they should take the opportunity to pick pocket prior to the sap for extra goodies.

Blind, 15 Energy, 15 yd range,Instant cast, 3 min cooldown

Blinds the target, causing it to wander disoriented for up to 10 sec.  Any damage caused will remove the effect.

Very good way to take a caster out of the fight for a short duration. Rogues sometimes forget that this is in their arsenal unless they PvP a lot.

Shaman:

Hex, 3% of base mana, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 45 sec cooldown

Transforms the enemy into a frog. While hexed, the target cannot attack or cast spells. Damage caused may interrupt the effect. Lasts 1 min. Only one target can be hexed at a time.  Only works on Humanoids and Beasts.

Shaman version of Polymorph, has better duration but fewer applications but are you really going to care that you can’t hex a critter.

Bind Elemental, 9% of base mana,  30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast

Binds the target hostile elemental for up to 50 sec.  The bound unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells.  Any damage caused will release the target.  Only one target can be bound at a time.

Very good in Cata dungeons where elementals seem to be around a lot of corners.

Warlock:

Fear, 12% of base mana, 30 yd range, 1.7 sec cast

Strikes fear in the enemy, causing it to run in fear for up to 20 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.  Only 1 target can be feared at a time.

Like I said before Fear bombs are back baby. Warlocks who pvp’d during late Vanilla and early BC will love doing and will be very proficient at this.

Banish, 8% of base mana, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast

Banishes the enemy target, preventing all action but making it invulnerable for up to 30 sec.  Only one target can be banished at a time.  Casting Banish on a banished target will cancel the spell.  Only works on Demons and Elementals.

Again with elementals around corners a very good ability, just not as good as the shamans in duration but hey, it works on demons.

Warlock Succubus:

Seduction Special Ability, 30 yd range, 1.7 sec cast

Seduces the target, preventing all actions for up to 30 sec.  Any damage caused will remove the effect.  Only works against Humanoids.

Yep, you read that right, Warlocks have the ability to use three CC’s if needed. This one requires a specific pet but hey who doesn’t like the Femme Fatal model.

Warriors:

Intimidating Shout, 25 Rage, 8 yd range,Instant cast, 2 min cooldown

The warrior shouts, causing the targeted enemy to cower in fear and up to 5 additional enemies within 8 yards to flee.  Lasts 8 sec.

Yep, not as good as the other fears but it can help keep mobs off a healer. This is only an Oh Crap situational CC.

Protection Warriors only:

Shockwave, 15 Rage, Instant cast, 20 sec cooldown

Sends a wave of force in front of you, causing (75 / 100 * AP) damage (based on attack power) and stunning all enemy targets within 10 yards in a frontal cone for 4 sec.

I know it is part of your normal rotation but hey if the cooldown is up and you need that pesky caster CC’d for 4 more seconds and he is close, why not aim and shoot.

Arms Warriors only:

Throwdown, 15 Rage, Melee Range, Instant cast, 45 sec cooldown

Knocks the target to the ground and stuns it for 5 sec.

Good for reducing damage output of your current target and thus damage on your tank. Use when a high damage strike is about to go off. I think the 45 seconds is a bit long for a class that really has no real form of CC, but what you going to do.

I am hoping that this information will help everyone perform better in raids and dungeons. Get to know not only your class but all classes.

Until next time,

Don’t stand in the Fire.

Cataclysmic Destruction!!!

•December 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

What a wonderful day it is. For those who don’t know my voice can now be heard on the Liquidwow podcast in a raiding segment for the show. Please download and listen to this podcast.  I have a new computer to replace the one that nuked itself the weekend before Cataclysm launched. I am getting very close to being a first time home buyer. But most importantly, my wife and I are expecting a new addition to our family come March. So please be forgiving about my writing frequency.

Along with my computer nuking itself, my rough drafts were lost, so some of the work that I was working on for the blog, as incomplete as it was, is now lost. As I have a type A personality and love everything to be checked three times before I let it out of my hands, this was a big loss.

I have gotten my main, Roadapple to level 85 with all tabard and rep grinding materials. My guild is looking like we might be starting raids ahead of schedule. I love my guild.

I must say I like the look of Vashir. The colors and life they put into that zone are great. I don’t care too much for the three-dimensional fighting. I love questing overall with the changes to the game. Everything is very linear and you never seem to get distracted when working in a zone. The gear reset was steep but the quest rewards were itemized well and the split of caster vs melee leather as quest rewards seemed fair and not one-sided. Deepholm, my new favorite zone, is colorful and panoramic. The daily quests, for the most part, seem to have good re-spawn rates and are of appropriate difficulty. The dungeons are once again challenging and people are back to learning how to play their classes again. There is still room for individual growth but most people are doing well. I have only had a few outbursts by idiots in dungeons who wanted to play it different. (one mage who over-exaggerated his dps comes to mind)

Overall, kudos go to Blizzard for making a good product.

Until next time

Don’t stand in the fire.

How big is your span!

•November 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

In the fire service we often talk about “Span of control”. It is the number of people who can be safely supervised without taking on too much work load and too much risk. In the fire service the number is 5-7 people normally. So for every engine or truck company there is a company officer. (which is normally around 3-5 people) This allows the company officer to safely supervise “his guys” without much problem. For every fire station there is a Station Captain which will supervise anywhere from 2-5 companies. (Usually designated by apparatus, but not always)  “Span of control” is (or at least should be) applied to every level of supervision.

So guild leader when is it time to assign a new officer? I believe this should happen when ever you reach a specific number of people. A good example is that if you have more than 10 people logged in most of the time it might be a good idea to have another officer to take up some of the work load. If you have more than 20 logged in most of the time add a second officer, and so forth. Only you can determine what “span of control” to use, but for me the trigger is 10 active players on-line per officer.

Not all officers need to talk directly to you. In AIE and other guilds you would have an insane amount of officers and would want to tier your officers so that you essentially have supervisors for your supervisors. I realize this is only an issue for a handful of guilds but thought it should still be addressed.

So how do you assign your officers? Well, just like a fire department of course. Assigning people based on function (i.e. Truck, Pumper, Hazmat, and Ambulance) is only natural and easy to do. Start with the natural divisions in your guild. PvE, PvP, and Casual play all seem easy divisions to make. How about splitting PvE into Raid Alpha and Bravo, etc.  You could split PvP into arena teams and battleground teams.  Try splitting casual play into RP and levelers. If you do this you can get a better feel for what is being accomplished in guild and can help “control” the chaos that is your guild. This will also allow you to better support guild functions as a whole. (and not just the ones you like)

So who do you promote? This is a hard question! Easy answer is someone you like, but the truth is much more complex.  You want to find someone who enjoys the areas of game play that maybe you don’t care too much for or struggle with. You want someone who will or have worked hard to improve the guild. You want someone who wants the job and can do the job. Most of all you want someone who has your back.  I inherited more than a few people who are capable of being officers in my guild, but when it came time to make a decision I decided on the one person with which I knew that I had mutual trust.  I trust a lot of people in my guild but sometimes I wonder if some of them truly trust me.

I hope this gives some good guidance to fledgling guild leaders and give veteran guild leaders some pause for evaluation of their guild.

Until next time,

Don’t stand in the fire!

Strategy and Tactics!

•November 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Often I hear people get confused on Strategy Versus Tactics. Here is how they appear in a dictionary: (per dictionary.com)

Strategy (noun) 1. the science and art of combining and employing means of war in planning and directing large military movements and operations 2. the use of an instance of using this science or art 3. skillful use of a stratagem 4. a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagem for obtaining a specific goal or result

Tactic (noun) 1. Tactics (dictionary.com redundancy?) 2. a system or detail of tactics 3. a plan, procedure, or expedient for promoting a desired end or result

Now to put it in terms that are easier to understand. Firefighters often talk about strategy and tactics when dealing with a fire. Strategy is the goal, tactics are how you get to the goal. A good example is a structure fire, we can employ offensive strategy or defensive strategy, the end result is the same (extinguishment of the fire) but the tactics used are different. In an offensive strategy we are going into the building to fight the fire, trying to limit damage to the maximum extent possible. This strategy requires a lot of firefighters and a lot of energy. The tactics that are involved in this strategy involve cutting holes in the walls, floors, and ceilings. It involves tactics of using small hand lines in the building, crawling low, two man teams. Defensive strategy is where we try to keep the fire in the particular building or portion of the building. The tactics involved include the use of large hose lines and lots of water, but very few people. Hose lines are used to protect structures other than the primary location or building on fire. To put this in easy terms: Offensive strategy is aggressive, dangerous firefighting; Defensive strategy is conservative, safe firefighting. I get paid to do both and the strategy and tactics used are subject to the decision of the ranking officer on scene. To be honest I prefer the offensive strategy because it protects people from loss of life and loss of property, to be honest I choose to fight fire the hard way and I believe most firefighters do.

The harder strategy has more risks but provides more room for mistakes, you can always back out and move to a defensive strategy, but you can’t move in if you let it burn.

Now in-game terms: the harder strategy takes more focus, takes more energy, but can be done with smaller dps numbers. You can brute force your way through Professor Putricide by tanking him in one corner and blasting away, but you better have large hoses. (huge dps numbers) You can also follow a back and forth positioning strategy and use smaller dps numbers, but when stuff falls apart you can always take him to the corner if you have the big hoses available. The back and forth strategy of course has better success, because it doesn’t ignore mechanics. This makes the back and forth strategy better for the beginning group. The cornering strategy is quicker, requires less focus. This makes the cornering strategy better for people who are climbing the hill to get to the Lich King. The goal is still the same but the strategies rely on different resources and different tactics.

Recently my raid group was stuck on the Lich King, we were using a strategy given to us by a former guild member who got it from his former team. We kept running into the same point in stage two of the fight. (to be honest it was the same point  The Insiders kept getting to) I spent one day on the web researching the fight and noticed a few things, and developed tactics to go with the strategy we had. We then consistently got to phase three but just not with enough guns to finish the fight. I am sure that we will finish this and am proud of my raid team for both understanding my adjustment to the tactics we were employing and to the execution of those tactics. I am sure we will achieve our goal. If you get stuck, take time to watch the fight from many different points of view, observe the fight, and find ways to simplify things if you can.

In the end: Don’t be afraid to find different ways to skin a cat!

Until next time,

Don’t stand in the fire.

Guild Leader, are you prepared for Cataclysm?

•November 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We always like to tell our raiders “watch the videos”. The question is have you?

As we Guild Leaders prepare for Cataclysm you need to be looking forward with vision and planning. Total Biscuit has given us a few tools as guild leaders to study before Cataclysm even drops and I highly recommend viewing them.

The first one is a rep video. When you watch it I want you to not only think about your toon(s) but those of your raiders. You should be able to help “guide” your people down the right paths as they level up. Pay special attention to the head enchants and shoulder enchants as they will become quite important as most of us know.

The second video is the dungeon location video. This will help your people find the way to all the instances. (I for one am planning on having a big guild event where we all fly to all the dungeon locations together to gather up the instances) You should be able to describe in detail to any new guild members the locations in the future.

Some other things to think about:

Have you set a day to start raiding in Cataclysm? Is that projection realistic? For those of you with some experience in this please remember that the holidays fall right in you leveling time and will have an effect. (could be good or bad depending on the make-up of the guild) For those of you with out experience please realize it can take more than a month depending on how Blizzard has everything laid out to get raid ready. (this of course assumes that your team is serious about the leveling and what your definition of what “raid ready” is) The next part is have you told the guild your expectations? Do they believe they can meet them? Discussing this would be a good thing for the guild to do.

How do you preserve raid days so that nobody goes out and fills that day with a new activity? I am planning on using Raid days as organized guild dungeon days. I am hoping that it will lead us to not only level and gear faster but to also remember that the guild is serious about raiding, that those days are important to our friends (or fellow raiders) to have available.

Lastly, having an idea of what toon people are going to bring up is important. Make sure that you verbally share that it is important to your guild that they make their guild main raid ready before messing around with alts. (this will be most difficult with your altaholic friends, try to help keep them focused)

Everything I just said above is important to those who run PvP guilds, instead of rep vendors it will be PvP vendors. (Like the one in Tol Barad) Your people will still most likely need to run dungeons for gear and enchant mats for the PvP season. Your people should know your expectation as to when you want them arena ready. They still need to know what arena ready means to you. They still need to PvP on your organized PvP days to ensure they stay active in-game, prior to the start of the arena season.  Your people still need to focus on their main PvP toon.

These are just some of the things that I have been trying to organize and plan prior to Cataclysm as I lead my guild. I hope these things help you.

Until next time,

Don’t stand in the fire.

 
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