Archive

Archive for the ‘Chronicles of Bronte’ Category

Chronicles of Bronte III: “Cross of Vengeance” or “Bronte, Initiate”

June 9, 2010 3 comments

Being a guild leader is serious business. I don’t say that lightly. I led a guild for nearly three years in World of Warcraft, and micro-managed quite literally every aspect of the daily operations as needed. This series of posts is dedicated to the memories and experiences of those years and dedicated to the crew I had the privilege of playing the game with.

Leading any group of individuals is a difficult task, especially when they come from diverse, distinct backgrounds, cultures and ethnic identities. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that these individuals are paying (Blizzard – not you) to be on your team, they aren’t salaried in the same vein as traditional employees. Further, none of them are in the same physical location; they are spread out far and wide across the world, especially if you are playing on a European server. Suffice it to say that being a guild leader is one of the toughest endeavors I have had to undertake. The following is a small chapter of that story.

Links:

Cross of Vengeance: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Cross of Vengeance in the beginning was a strange beast. There were about 25 or so active players, which by today’s standards seems like the perfect amount, even over-abundant by some. But back in vanilla WoW, when you could raid the currently 5-man Stratholme instance with 40 players, having 25 players in the guild was embarrassing for a guild leader. The optimal number of players you wanted to have on hand was between 48-52 hardcore, dedicated players. Only with these numbers you could ensure that you had a strong raid forming every night, and you were making progress in the endgame instances.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

When I joined Cross of Vengeance, we only had a few members that were active on a daily basis. One of them was Milamber, who you might have seen posting here quite frequently, one of the oldest and most resilient members of CoV. I have known the kid for nearly six years now, and seen him mature into a smart young college student who with a wacky sense of humor and an inherent ability to get his priorities right. But again, I am digressing.

The officer core included some odd individuals. There was Scoota, the guild leader, Human Holy Paladin extraordinaire, not to be confused with Scooter, our warrior tank. There was the Gnome Rogue Woe, strange little fellow with a dark, dreary sense of humor and a knack for stabbing things without provocation. I can’t recall the number of Molten Core raids where the first hit was scored by Woe instead of a tank pulling the mob and getting its threat under control. Then there was Dieter, Night Elf Rogue, a DPS-addict who shared Woe’s penchant for evisceration.

And finally there was Richard, Human Retribution Paladin in a day and age when the term “DPS Paladin” was frowned upon, and widely considered an oxymoron. Even with such opposition to the viability of said spec in raid environments, Richard was the only individual who had us single-handedly convinced about the usefulness of a Retribution Paladin. But that is not what made Richard stand out from the crowd. Richard stood out from the crowd because he had a southern drawl, and a sense of humor that could put the likes of Demetri Martin and Ron White to shame. The sheer number of times Richard was able to crack us up, or make us spit out whichever beverage we were chugging at the moment, or a combination of both, is staggering. Suffice it to say Richard was a very funny man, and I have come across few who could maintain that level of humor regardless of personal circumstance or in-game situation.

Richard was also a very enthusiastic PvP’er, and one of the very first few individuals who attained the Grandmaster rank on Bloodhoof server. Him and his crew were the stuff of legends in the battlegrounds, particularly in Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch. Richard and his crew of rag-tag PvP’ers could shut down well-organized PvP teams. I have personally observed a pre-made from the Horde side converge on the Blacksmith in AB, realize Richard is leading the assault, tuck tails and flee back to their spawn-point graveyard, and sit out the rest of the match in hopes of better (or should I say worse) opposition.

Back to CoV. Most players had not even hit the level 60 cap, and there was a lot of general confusion regarding which specs were optimal for which classes in end-game raiding. There were no organized instance-runs, or PvP endeavors, but thankfully, Scoota never made us sit around in a circle in Stormwind and made us talk about what made our nuts itch that week!

CoV, in essence, was in its embryonic form.

52, Going on 60

I was hesitant to ask for anyone’s help when leveling. The only individual I really asked was Isrx, and he always made it a point to help me out, regardless of what he was inundated with. I rode through Un’Goro, Silithus, Winterspring, and the Plaguelands, plowing my way through the content with a unique range of defensive and offensive abilities the Paladin class had to offer, dramatically (and in some cases artificially) increasing my survivability and allowing me the luxury of negligible graveyard runs.

Isrx and I made a good team. He was able to dole out a lot of damage through his spells and used his pet to tank several mobs. Together we were able to tackle some of the toughest challenges in Azeroth, taking on multiple packs of mobs, or burning through the pregnant health bars of elite boss creatures. It didn’t take long for me to get through the last eight levels. I still remember riding through the Eastern Plaguelands, and discovering The Noxious Glade, a small achievement that netted me a mere 400 or so experience, but that was just the amount of experience I needed to reach level 60. Yes, I dinged the level cap not undertaking some heroic task of world-threatening proportions, I dinged the level cap on horseback, completely by accident, as unceremoniously as you can make it.

Hitting level 80 opened up a Pandora’s Box of opportunities for me. One one hand I was able to start research on a popular WoW site at the time, http://www.thottbot.com (anyone still use that?), to see which quests would get me better gear to start tackling some of the instance content. On the other hand, all end-game instances were now ripe for the taking and I could try getting in a group to experience primitive raiding in WoW.

It wasn’t long after hitting level 60 that Scoota messaged me, congratulating me on my recent achievement and asking me if I would like to accompany all the big boys on the guild’s first UBRS run, since we now had ten level 60 players on at the time. I agreed, excusing myself just briefly to train up new skills from my trusty Paladin Trainer in Ironforge.

Our first raid in UBRS was a massive disaster. It took us over three hours. We were still unable to kill the last boss, General Drakkinsath, and two guild members quit after the raid was over. Strangely, it was also the same raid that pushed me into the spotlight in CoV, and started the inevitable chain of events that would one day lead me to take on the reigns of the guild myself.

Next Chapter:

Chronicles of Bronte IV: “Upper Black Rock Spire” or “Bronte, Party Leader ”.

“Health Bar Watching for the Serious Enthusiast” or “Healers Have the Worst View of Fights”

June 8, 2010 3 comments

I have played a Paladin all six years of World of Warcraft. I have also played a few alts:

  • A mage: Pantheon
  • A Hunter: Xanthus
  • A Warlock: Tereminus
  • A few other lower levels alts just to get an idea of the other classes

But at the end of the day, home base has always been the Paladin class. It is where I feel the most secure, it is the class I enjoy the most, and despite my frustrations with the lack of love for the class from Blizzard in the past, I continue to cling on to it like a desperate Republican supporting the likes of Sarah Palin for fear of the Democrats taking office.

I digress. Within the Paladin class, I have clung on to the Holy tree like socks on Velcro. In fact, I have played the Holy Paladin with such singular devotion and dedication that I have have absolutely no idea how to play either of the other two specs. Being an old-schooler, and despite ample evidence to the contrary, the phrase ‘Paladin DPS’ always strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron, so much so in fact, that I have never had a Retribution spec. I used to tank a little in The Burning Crusade, when Paladin tanking actually became viable, but that too was sparse, and completely abandoned in Wrath of the Lich King.

Larisa’s article (Why Tanks Have the Best View in the Game and other Summertime Musings) jolted me out of my perpetual need to stick to the Holy Paladin class, and made me realize that WoW has a lot more to offer in this highly versatile class than I give it credit for. The most convincing aspect of this realization is what Larisa points out in her entry: tanks have the best view in the game, and by contrast, healers have the worst view.

Yeah, you try enjoying the scenery with THAT!

I can’t recall most of what any instance looks like. I have a vague idea, but the fact of the matter is that I couldn’t tell you if Onyxia looks any different from Sartharion. Or if the Anub’Rekan in the 5-man instances looks the same as he does in 10/25 version of the encounter. Or what the inside of Lord Marrowgar’s room looks like. I have a vague idea, but I just don’t know for sure. And the primary reason for this is the fact that I am almost always looking at one part of my UI: the health bars of all the idiots relying on me to keep them alive.

In any given fight my eye never leaves that portion of the screen. Sure I move if there is AoE in the area, or if the fight dynamics require me to haul ass to ensure success and phat lewts, but at this point that has become more of a muscle memory than anything else. I hear “BONESTORM!”, I keep my eye on the health bars while trying to keep away from Lord Marrowgar using peripheral vision. I see walls of fire approaching in the distance, I relocate to a safer location, and even during that movement, toss out a Holy Shock to someone in need, hoping for a crit, so that my next Flash of Light will be an instant, and none of those precious, precious health bars would suffer.

Other factors notwithstanding, this is one of the biggest reasons why being a healer in WoW sucks more balls than a Bubble Tea addict on a binge: watching those godforsaken bars for hours on end, never taking in the sceneary, or enjoying the smaller pleasures of endgame raiding in the game.

Time for a spec/class change? You betcha.

More on this in upcoming posts.

Chronicles of Bronte II: “One Is The Loneliest Number” or “Bronte, Loner”

April 21, 2010 4 comments

Being a guild leader is serious business. I don’t say that lightly. I led a guild for nearly three years in World of Warcraft, and micro-managed quite literally every aspect of the daily operations as needed. This series of posts is dedicated to the memories and experiences of those years and dedicated to the crew I had the privilege of playing the game with.

Leading any group of individuals is a difficult task, especially when they come from diverse, distinct backgrounds, cultures and ethnic identities. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that these individuals are paying (Blizzard – not you) to be on your team, they aren’t salaried in the same vein as traditional employees. Further, none of them are in the same physical location; they are spread out far and wide across the world, especially if you are playing on a European server. Suffice it to say that being a guild leader is one of the toughest endeavors I have had to undertake. The following is a small chapter of that story.

Links:

Chronicles of Bronte I: “Humble Beginnings” or “Bronte: Dwarf, Paladin, Redhead”

One, Is The Loneliest Number There Ever Was

Following the mind-numbing stupidity exhibited by the leaders of Mortifer Militis, I decided, albeit briefly, that guilds were not the thing for me. There were too many rules for one thing. They had a small number of disinterested, mostly novice and completely self-interested individuals being marketed in General and Trade chats as ‘a large number of seasoned and ever-helpful guild mates’. There were no organized events that piqued my curiosity. Forgive me if racing as a level one, pink-haired, female gnome from Coleridge Valley in Dun Morogh all the way to Stormwind isn’t exactly my cup of tea. And don’t even get me started on the sheer level of mediocrity, foolishness and pointlessness of the weekly meetings. If anything, I found that being in a guild offered me no tangible incentives, while rapidly depleting my pockets of any respectable amount of gold I managed to painstakingly piece together.

I thought to myself: “If this is the way most guilds work, why on earth would I ever want to join that guild?” I quested through the mid-level zones and challenges on my own then, daring the dragon gulch in the Badlands, fighting the Dark Iron Dwarves and their nefarious schemes in the Blasted Lands and taking on the ugliest princess in the deepest reaches of Maraudon. I grouped with random individuals through these disjointed, and at times clueless ventures. Some of them I befriended, inaugurating brief but mutually beneficial partnerships to hammer out some of the tougher content.

The Isrx Alternative

There used to be a Warlock in Mortifer Militis by the name of Isrx. He was one of the junior officers, and one of the saner individuals I came across in that sorry excuse for a guild. At level 51, fending of Frenzied Pterodactyls in the Un’Goro Crater, I received a message from Isrx, asking if I was still looking for a new guild. I was hesitant at first, given my past experiences in a guild. I mean nails on a chalkboard on loop was a preferable alternative. He was adamant however, claiming the guild had some good people in it. They used (I shudder to think of it now) TeamSpeak, and they seem fairly organized. I refused at first, claiming emotional trauma resulting from maltreatment in Mortifer Militis, and went on my way.

It wasn’t till level 52, when I had to undertake the Congo-inspired Chasing A-Me 01. Over the course of an hour, I failed four separate attempts to get the stupid mechanical gorilla out of the cave in one piece. No one on my pathetically limited list of friends came to my aid, and I realized that perhaps, just perhaps, having the backup of a guild mate or two might not be the worst thing, even if that meant subjecting myself to draconian and at times downright retarded policies.

I messaged Isrx. Isrx spoke to Scoota, Guild Leader. Five minutes later, on February 4, 2005, I was a ‘Recruit’ in a little guild called Cross of Vengeance.

Next Chapter:

Chronicles of Bronte III: “Cross of Vengeance” or “Bronte, Loner”.

Chronicles of Bronte I: “Humble Beginnings” or “Bronte: Dwarf, Paladin, Redhead”

March 31, 2010 10 comments

Being a guild leader is serious business. I don’t say that lightly. I led a guild for nearly three years in World of Warcraft, and micro-managed quite literally every aspect of the daily operations as needed. This series of posts is dedicated to the memories and experiences of those years and dedicated to the crew I had the privilege of playing the game with.

Leading any group of individuals is a difficult task, especially when they come from diverse, distinct backgrounds, cultures and ethnic identities. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that these individuals are paying (Blizzard – not you) to be on your team, they aren’t salaried in the same vein as traditional employees. Further, none of them are in the same physical location; they are spread out far and wide across the world, especially if you are playing on a European server. Suffice it to say that being a guild leader is one of the toughest endeavors I have had to undertake. The following is a small chapter of that story.

Humble Beginnings

Xanthus: Tauren, Hunter, Fat

I started on Bloodhoof as a Tauren Hunter on the same day the game launched. For anyone present on launch day, you would recall the excitement you felt exploring such a vast world filled to the brim with such exciting possibilities. And the goddamn lag! Blizzard underestimated the popularity of their behemoth (still in its embryonic stage). The initial number of servers was severely inadequate to manage the incoming traffic. Within 24 hours, several additional servers went live to accommodate the incredibly ravenous player base. The starting areas were absolutely drenched in newbies, running amok in their new sandbox as far and wide as the eye could see.

My Tauren Hunter adventured through the trials and tribulations of the lush green and visually appeasing Mulgore for the first 12 levels. It took me a week to get to that milestone, partially because I was learning the ropes of playing a fantasy MMO for the first time (my previous experiences included Earth and Beyond, City of Heroes and Eve Online), and also because Bloodhoof crashed endlessly during the peak hours, the only time I had to play the game during my last semester as an undergraduate student.

My Tauren then ventured into the arid Barrens, a stark and sudden change from the scenic, shamanistic fields of Mulgore. I quested my way to level 20, picking up skinning and leather-working along the way, realizing rather quickly that my inability to manage coin was beginning to adversely affect my coffers and the ability to kill efficiently due to a lack of purchased skills. By level 20, the hunter was no longer a source of fun for me, and was forced into retiring, thus ending my incredibly short stint with the Horde.

Bronte: Dwarf, Paladin, Redhead

I started Bronte on the Alliance side, a red-bearded Dwarf Paladin, conceived on the 5th of December, 2004. Little did I know then that this character would stay my main for my entire WoW career. Rampaging through Dun Modr, Loch Modan, Red Ridge and Westfall, I realized that the Paladin class was incredibly powerful, versatile and had a very high rate of survivability, even against a large number of opponents.

My First Guild

At level 20, on December 21, 2004, I was invited to my first guild. I remember I was in the Wetlands at the time, completing some quest involving artifact recovery in an archeological dig site heavily populated by rather unfriendly raptors.

Mortifer Militis was the name of the guild, Army of the Dead in Latin. I thought it was a strange name for an Alliance guild, but having quested solo for quite some time, I was ready to group up if the opportunity presented itself. So I joined the guild, and gingerly stepped out of my comfort zone to try and experience the unique dynamics of player interaction offered by MMOs. My experiences with the guild, to make a colossal understatement, fell a tad short of what I had imagined they would be.

The guild disbanded within two months of inception because the guild leader, named Raygin, enforced such frivolous activities as meetings around the pond in Stormwind’s mage quarter. The meeting started with guild members sitting in a half-U shape around the pond. Raygin, along with his two officers would then slowly walk across the district, eventually arriving at the slightly elevated edge of the pond and addressed the gathered crowd much as king would address his subjects. Especially if he was the king of Retardistan. He would then call upon everyone to recount how their week went, both in real life and in the game. Needless to say the attendance dwindled rapidly after the first meeting.

In another example, I once asked him to help me with a particularly difficult quest in the Wetlands. He responded by saying I needed to submit a written application through in-game mail explaining what the quest was about, and why I needed guild resources and help to complete it. Naive as I was, I still refused to comply to the ridiculous demand. As punishment, I was demoted a rank and my speaking privileges in the guild were revoked. By the end, nearly 95% of the guild was awarded this rank for one misdemeanor or another.

The guild leader also vehemently believed in farming for the guild, and there was a weekly quota of 10-20 gold (10 if you were below level 40, 20 if you were level 40 and above) that every member of the guild had to contribute to the guild coffers. No explanation was given as to what this gold was used for. Bear in mind that unlike the hyper-inflated economy and gold acquisition prevalent in Wrath of the Lich King, 20 gold in vanilla WoW was a hell of a lot of coin.

Understandably, most people burnt out on the incessantly nonsensical activities within the first month, leading to a rapid and uncontrollable hemorrhaging of players to other guilds, eventually resulting in complete internal combustion by the time February 2005 rolled around.

That was when I left MM, and joined CoV, a guild I would be with for the next three years.

Next Chapter:

Chronicles of Bronte II: “One Is The Loneliest Number” or “Bronte, Loner”.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.