Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rule of Law

Laws can be pesky things.  Once they are set, they must be followed until they are changed in their proper order.  Professor Li Shuguang states, ". . . under the rule of law the law is preeminent and can serve as a check against the abuse of power."

Guilds do not usually have "laws", but they may have "policies" which serve a similar purpose.  The policies are intended to set a standard way for the guild to operate, whether it is concerning acceptance into the guild, invitations to the raids, loot handling, or disciplinary actions.  Having policies in place puts everyone in the guild on an equal footing: the officers are bound to follow them (or "uphold the law") and the members know what to expect and what is expected of them.  Can the guild leaders make decisions which completely ignore the policies?  Yes, but not without consequences.

When members do not do those things expected of them, it is perfectly reasonable for certain consequences to follow.  And when they do follow, the member has little room in which to complain, for it was laid out in the policy to which everyone agreed. (By virtue of remaining in the guild, the members agree to the policies.)

When officers do not follow the established written policy, the members lose respect for their leadership. Members may develop cynical attitudes toward the leadership, because they do not know what to expect from them on any given day.  They may become disgruntled and see favoritism in the actions of the officers, whether or not it was intended.  The officers may justifiably be called capricious or arbitrary.  And in a raiding guild, their discontent may be passed on in whispers to other raid members, thus undermining discipline and commitment--cutting to the heart of the common goal of the guild.

If the officers hope to maintain order, loyalty, and respect in the guild, they must follow the written policies they have established, even if they are not sure they want to do it.  If they find a problem in the policy, the policy may be changed, but changing it on the spot, after expectations have been set, is no better than not following the policy to begin with.  All things must be done in wisdom and order.

One of the biggest complaints I have read (or personally heard) about guild officers in various guilds is their unwillingness to follow their own policies or their unwillingness to establish policies.  On the Guild Relations Forum, the first question asked of those complaining about guild leaders' decisions is, "What is your guild policy?"  If the guild leader's actions are in keeping with guild policy, the judgement is that the member agreed to those conditions when he joined the guild, and so the guild leader acted appropriately.  If the guild leader's actions are contrary to established, written guild policy, those on the forum agree that the member would be justified in either bringing up the case to the guild leader for reconsideration or in leaving the guild in search of one with better leadership (especially if there is a pattern).

A guild is a voluntary organization, held together only by common goals and mutual respect.  Members stay because they believe the guild will help them meet their gaming goals and they will be treated fairly.  Each person's definition of "fair" may be different, but by establishing and following a written policy, the leaders may attract and keep those who have goals and expectations in line with those of the guild. If the guild fails in either of these areas, the members will seek other guilds which meet these criteria. 

These words were written by the House of Commons to King Charles I of England, after the king had made proclamations which appeared to be contrary to established law.  They illustrate the importance placed on defined and consistent leadership:
Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which your majesty's subjects of this kingdom have enjoyed under your royal progenitors, kings and queens of this realm, there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by the certain rule of the law which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them, and not by any uncertain or arbitrary form of government....
King Charles I was eventually beheaded.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Another Random Instance Story

The other day, my husband and I decided to run an instance together on his level 35 Druid tank and my level 30-something Holy priest. My husband had not played his bear much since the patch, when he discovered he had a difficult time with AoE threat. So he was a little leery, but decided to give it a try.

We queued and found ourselves heading to the Scarlet Monastery Armory wing, along with a Ret Pally, a mage, and one other dps. Somewhat predictably, as we started in the first hall, the dps did not wait for him to gain threat before opening up. Nobody died, but aggro was everywhere. I went through a large percentage of my mana pool on our way to the courtyard and asked for a mana break.

While drinking, I commented (nicely) to the dps that if they would wait for the tank to get aggro, I would not have to stop as often for mana, because I would usually only have to heal the tank.

The Ret pally said something unprintable for me (which did not get filtered by the profanity filter). At that point, I became so incensed, I told my husband we were leaving group, which we did. (Happened to be after he had pulled a pack . . .)

I know this story is hardly unusual, but it isn't often that someone makes me so mad I choose to leave group with no warning.  Poor players do not make me mad; I tolerate them as still learning.  Players who display overgrown egos do not make me mad; they just make me roll my eyes.  But players who treat others with extreme disrespect earn my contempt and a slot on my Ignore list.  It's not worth the stress putting up with them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The other day, Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket posted that she had discovered a plagiarist.  In the flurry of activity afterward, it appears that the plagiarist was alternating between protesting innocence loudly and apologizing profusely.  (You can see it in Keeva's subsequent posts.)

Given the intense scrutiny under which my daughters' papers at school are placed, I'm surprised anyone under the age of 30 (or so . . . trying to think when the Internet may have become a relatively common resource for students . . .) has any doubt as to what plagiarism is.  That is, assuming that the blogger is under the age of 30, which I think is a pretty reasonable guess, given the average age of WoW players.  (Then again, look at me . . . but even I know it's wrong to steal other people's intellectual property.)

That said, I can empathize a bit with the sentiment that the plagiarist had when she more or less stated that there were only so many ways in which the same thing could be said.

I understand this complaint.  Looking over history and the vast amounts of literature and other media, it is hard to believe that any of us could ever really have an original thought.  You can start to read a book and suddenly, you can either see the pattern the writer followed or you can see similarities to another book you read in junior high. (Yes, kids, I went to a junior high, not a middle school.)

When I was in junior high, my Reading teacher assigned us to read "The Sword of Shannara". I loved it. All the adventure, magic, action, and the idea of the reluctant hero with the destiny to save the world was exciting to me, and I ate it up. Some years later, I decided to read "The Lord of the Rings", but when I started out, I had the funny feeling I had heard all this before. So many elements of the beginning were similar to "The Sword of Shannara" that I lost interest. I realize that the Shannara book was modeled after LoTR, rather than the other way around, but I had read Shannara first. (Years later, I did go and read LoTR and enjoyed it.  Now I don't read Shannara.)

As another example, on the back cover of "The Blue Sword", by Robin McKinley, I once saw a review which made me laugh out loud.
Any book that, at one point or another, reminded me of "The Sheikh", "Gunga Din", "Islandia", and "The Lord of the Rings", can't be anything but a true original.
--Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"A true original?"  When it reminded the reviewer of so many other stories and ideas all meshed together?  To be honest, I had immediately noticed that this author's "fantasy world" bore a remarkable resemblance to British India, which seemed to me to be somewhat romantic, but hardly original.  (Other elements:  a heroine who grows up not knowing she has a special heritage or special abilities, a wood-dwelling group of archers who can "melt" into the trees, a talisman passed down which only one person can wield, a people who have amazing talents which are not called "magic" but which might as well be . . . as I said, hardly original.)

So, yes, I can understand the idea that it is difficult to be original, especially with such limited material as Druid class abilities.

This is why I do not write basic Druid healing guides.  There are others who have the time to go play on the test servers, gather the data, and speak from experience, while I do not.  Anything I might write would simply be reiterating what other people had discovered, most likely with many referenced direct quotations, which would make my writing feel tired and redundant.  Without the experience myself, it would be very difficult for me to say anything in my own words without sounding like it was lifted from their pages.  So I leave all-encompassing guides to the explorers and benefit greatly by their explorations in my own play.  (I don't write such guides after I have had experience with the live changes because by then, enough already exist to make one from me completely extraneous.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Comment on things in my own experience?  Sure.  Write something and call it "The Amazing Anachan's Foolproof Guide to Restoration Druid Healing"?  No way.)

My niche lies in other areas, largely based upon things which happen to me or which I observe.  One advantage of this format is there can be no arguing my work is original.  In addition, I have often said that if my experiences cannot be used to help others, then the things learned in them are largely wasted.  Besides, it is fun to take a personal experience or observation and put together a larger thought.

The largest reason I write, truthfully, is the satisfaction I find in the process of creation.  (Even in the bad poetry I continue to write . . .)  There's something wonderful about trying to think and share self-crafted thoughts, even if the wonder of the piece is lost upon everyone except the author.

How someone can gain any satisfaction from taking credit for material owned by others is beyond me.

Side note:  Oh!!!  By the way, that annual inspection at work . . . I not only passed, I got commended.  /happy dance

Friday, October 22, 2010

Resto Healing Now

After a few raids, I've finally settled down into some kind of healing pattern.  It's still requiring quite a bit of thought to maintain--after all, it takes about two weeks to develop a habit--but at least it's not wearing out my brain by the end of the night anymore.

Here's a quick rundown of my healing now:

Rejuvenation:  I'm casting this a lot more than I anticipated, from the beta reports.  I don't randomly spread it out, but the mana supports casting it over many targets taking damage.  I cast it whenever I'm not needing to cast something else.

Regrowth:  This is where I might find myself with mana issues if I do not watch it; sometimes it is tempting to spread these around, as the cast time is so short.  That said, it's a very handy spell when someone needs a quick top-up.

Swiftmend:  I'm usually casting this on the tanks or melee, for the full benefit of Efflourescence, unless someone somewhere else is in dire need of a quick, larger heal or they are going to die.  If I keep my head on, I'll cast this about every time it comes available.  That said, I haven't noticed that Efflourescence has been a tremendously large part of my healing.  But, hey, every little bit helps.

Lifebloom:  I used to spread these liberally throughout the raid.  It was such a habit that I had to switch the keybindings for this and Regrowth, to avoid cutting short my Lifeblooms accidentally.  Now I keep at least one stacked on the tank at all times, for Replenishment.  (Just because I'm not having mana problems now on a regular basis doesn't mean it's not a good habit to have.  Besides, the priests will thank me.)

Wild Growth:  Interestingly enough, I haven't been using this one as much.  To be honest, I was never a "cast WG as soon as the cooldown is up" person, anyway.  I do use it if there is much raid-wide damage going on.

Healing Touch:  Healing what?  I have it keyed in Clique, but that's about it.  I figure I'll probably end up using it later on in Cataclysm.

Nourish:  This is too slow to be the "oh, my goodness, I've got to keep this person alive during this spike damage" spell now.  Regrowth has taken its place.  To be honest, the only place I've found myself using this so far was healing Dreamwalker as a non-portal-taking dedicated boss healer.  As this situation can actually cause mana problems, it was handy to have a spell I could just about cast indefinitely after I had stacked HoTs.

Tree of Life:  This is like having a "Use" trinket.  I have always hated "Use" trinkets.  In fact, I have done my best to pass on any and all "Use" trinkets (except the spirit one in Naxx at the beginning of Wrath . . . I macro'd that to my Innervate).  In some fights, I have to keep reminding myself to use this ability--just pop the dratted thing--instead of wondering if I should be saving it or whatever.  But in other fights (Heroic Putricide phase changes, anyone?) it is easy to see when using the cooldown is optimal. (Innervate frequently follows ToL . . . all those lovely insta-cast Regrowths being tossed everywhere . . .)

Tranquility:  It's nice to have a raid cooldown, actually.  That's what I use Tranquility for, most of the time.  I should use it more often, to be honest.  (Again, if there isn't an optimally-planned time to use it, just use it when it seems to make sense . . .)

It's nice to feel like I have some kind of handle on how things work now, even if I know I still need improvement.  At least I know in what direction the improvement needs to go.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sorry for my Silence

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and most of it is not involving WoW.

I have an annual inspection at work coming up, and although I believe I am about as ready as I'll ever be, it still makes me nervous.  (It's like having a single event upon which your entire job performance is based.  Just remember to be humble and correct any mistakes . . . ask questions . . . show you really are focused on the details . . . don't try to bluff your way out of anything or justify something which is shown to be wrong . . .)

In addition, my family will be moving in a few weeks.  It's just a couple of houses down, so it's not as stressful as putting the entire household into boxes and taking it in one fell swoop, but because I do not know exactly when it will be scheduled, it drives me a little crazy.  (I do not like uncertainty.)  And in the mean time, I'm supposed to be trying to go through the mounds of junk we own and throw stuff away.  (I feel like I'm always throwing stuff away, but the pile never gets any smaller.)  My husband thinks I should take a raiding vacation to focus on this.  ("And, after all," he says, "What else are you going to accomplish these weeks between now and Cata?")

The trouble is that our guild, like many, has experienced a certain amount of issues relating to raiding the last little while.  And yet, we persist, as, to be honest, in a guild like this, raiding is the glue which holds it together--it's our common goal.  I haven't talked about this with the other officers, but I'd guess there might be a certain amount of concern about the ability to hold it all together if we discontinued raiding for the last few weeks before Cataclysm.  (And, hey, after we've all adapted to our new specs, maybe--just maybe--we can tackle Heroic Putricide.)

Part of me knows that even the worst case scenario wouldn't be the end of the world.  Worst case:  people start bailing because they've just gotta have a guild which raids at the end of the expansion.  OK.  What would we do?  We'd enter Cataclysm with our core group, level up, and recruit in preparation for raiding at 85.  Given that raiding guilds are always recruiting and having to replace people who are claimed by real life, scheduling problems, or whatnot, this doesn't seem like a terribly unusual situation.  (Recognizing this is what makes me not worry about the guild in transition.)

In addition, given that things are not entirely rosy right now, I feel guilty leaving for a few weeks during the troubled times, and thus potentially adding to the burdens of the other officers.  I tend to take commitments and responsibilities seriously.  (I think some people think I take things too seriously, as evidenced by the time I compared a guild app to a job app--not an unusual comparison, actually--and the applicant weeded himself out by telling me it was laughable ("It's a game, man!"), so goodbye . . . Personally, I thought that saved us the trouble later on of finding out he didn't take his commitment to the guild seriously.)  And, yet, I have responsibilities and commitments out of game, too, which are supposed to take precedence, because, after all, it is a game.

So many times, I have found ways of juggling my out-of-game life to make room for my in-game life, but this may be one which can't be juggled.  I'll give it a try this week--go home at lunchtime to do some dejunking, work on it first thing after work, come in to work a little early so I can leave earlier, focus Saturdays and non-raiding evenings, etc.--but if the household stuff isn't progressing as quickly as it needs, then I may have to take a break.  (At least I'm not attending Blizzcon, so that's one less thing to have to juggle.)

On the bright side, after we move, I will have my very own little computer room.  (Very little--more of a cubbyhole.  But it has built-in shelves at one end and paneling on the walls, so it's kind of cool.)  And my husband has assured me we will make sure I have a wired Internet connection.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

After the First Raid

Last night was a bit tough.  We were missing some people to real life (exams and such coming up).  We were missing others to computer problems (gotta love patches).  We found ourselves facing the start of raid with two tanks and four healers.  (Thank goodness for dual specs . . .)

In addition, at least one of our healers was beating her head against her addons, which were not cooperating, despite having been updated just before (or sometimes during) raid.  And to top it off, we were having to figure out how to heal and how to make healing assignments.

At least the mages and warlocks were happy.  (Unlike the melee dps . . .)

Our first raiding night in ICC would usually have resulted in our clearing nine bosses or so.  Last night, with all the complications, we ended up clearing five.  But four of those were on Heroic mode, which we felt was something of a triumph under the circumstances and helped boost the confidence of the raid.

We assigned our addon-gimped healer to tanks (fewer target switches), rearranged the way our healers are normally assigned for marks on Saurfang, fretted about the lack of threat reduction talents in healers (don't ask me how many times the Blood Beasts flattened me--I have updated Omen), and remembered that Druids can now be added into the raid cooldown rotation.

My biggest issues right now are 1) figuring out when I can just willy-nilly use my Tree of Life form and when I really ought to save it for something, 2) remembering that Tranquility exists, and 3) wondering if my Empowered Touch is really working, because Vuhdo hasn't been showing my Lifeblooms being refreshed from my Nourish casts.  (Maybe it's a Vuhdo thing?  Since my Grid plug-ins are broken, I've configured Vuhdo.  Getting used to the different view probably isn't helping my performance right now.)  I think I'm going to tweak my spec a little, as well, and switch the click binds for Lifebloom and Regrowth.  (So I won't absently cast LB when I just want to add a little more healing . . . yep, did that.)

At least I seem to be managing to remember to cast frequent Swiftmends for the Efflourescence effect.  (I'm usually Swiftmending the melee, so Efflourescence will have the greatest value.)

By the time we were done, people were ready to be done.  But that's normal when someone is on a learning curve.  Lately, we've been rather spoiled:  we've known our classes and our roles, and we could do a lot of raiding with our eyes closed.  Right now, we're having to constantly think and focus, and when you have to use your brain as much as this, it becomes rather tiring to the mind and the nerves. (Sort of like the difference between standing in a room of people speaking in your native tongue and standing in a room of people speaking in a language you are supposed to be learning . . . you never know how exhausting that can be until you've done it.)

We'll learn.  We always do.  But something tells me we won't be trying Heroic Putricide this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting . . .

I have never liked patch days.

I used to have connection problems on patch days. I have no idea why. Everything would be working just fine, then the patch would come and I'd be kicked off the server multiple times.

It is frustrating to log on and see one's addons inoperable.  I remember once when we logged on, only to find that <*gasp*> Grid wasn't working.  Panic swept through the healers until someone discovered a line which could be added to the addon to make it work.  (No word on Grid being updated so far today . . . downloaded Vuhdo to my machine, just in case . . .)

And then there are the days where you just do not know when the server will come up at all.  First, they say the server will be up at a certain time, then as that time approaches, a new time is posted, etc.  Once, I was in a guild which raided in the early afternoon. They ended up finally changing their raiding schedule to not include Tuesdays, because they never could be sure if the realm would be available for play.

The waiting and the uncertainty are probably the worst parts.  When will the server be up?  Will my addons work?  Will enough people be able to log on and have stable connections to do anything?  It doesn't help when you know it is a large patch (like today's), so a good deal of set-up will be required right at the start.  (New spec, new glyphs, new spell keybindings . . .)

On the bright side, these times of waiting are when the guild forum sees a lot of action and there is more than enough time to catch up on all the blog reading I missed while being away.

There's always a bright side, after all.

Edited to correct some silly errors because I didn't proofread this very carefully . . .

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Absent for a While

For a while, my husband has been wanting to go on a motorcycle trip.  Well, he finally found an excuse, sooooo . . . I will be gone for about a week.

Yes, he will bring his laptop, so maybe while he's in some of his meetings, I can sneak on a bit . . . just a little . . . but if I don't, I really haven't forgotten all about writing.