Archive for the ‘raids’ Category

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Adventures in bubblebotting

07/11/2010

Just a quick post, seeing as it’s Sunday, but I had to say something about this.

Last night, my raiding group had three paladins, two shaman and one druid sign up for healers.  (Since I stopped being healing lead, we run 6 healers instead of 5.  It isn’t a choice I generally agree with, but change can be good.)  That healing make-up is pretty… mediocre, especially for the Lich King fight.  So the raid leader and healing lead asked me to get on my Disc priest to help out.  Of course, she’s my PvP character, so my gear on her is less than good.  I believe her average ilevel was 252, which is a bit low for healing 25-man hardmodes.  Needless to say, her gear was by far the worst of the 6 healers.  I’d never even stepped foot into a 25-man ICC with her.

Somehow, I got #2 on the healing charts on her anyway!  I probably would have had a better showing, but I have a terrible tendency to forget to watch my PoM cooldown.  Not to mention I spent the first few Infests on Lich King playing with PW:S ranks.  (Rank 9 was perfect with my gear.)  It just proved to me that all those times I have told Disc priests that bubblebotting is the most useful thing they could do was correct.  Even with my terrible gear and my complete lack of experience, the theorycrafting really paid off.

I’m pretty sure that all that PvP I’d done as Disc helped a ton, too.  Even when lagging during Sindy hardmode, I was quick enough on my feet to make sure I got a Pain Suppression off on myself so I didn’t die.  During Festergut hardmode, I was put in with the melee instead of standing to one of the sides like I’m used to, so I got to do lots of running around to avoid green slime being lobbed at my head.  If I had been keyboard turning, I’d have been utterly screwed.

All in all, it was a hilarious night for me.  I probably would have had a better showing had I actually done any of the fights on normal as a Disc priest, but I did alright.  One-shotting the Lich King fight was probably the highlight for me, seeing as I spent the entire fight absolutely flailing around with spell ranks and living in fear of being Defiled.  (Got it once, but dealt with it no problem.)  Maybe they’ll want me to switch to Disc full time?  I would laugh and laugh if that were so.

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The Three Catagories of Play

06/22/2010

Before people start worrying that I’m going to delve into “hardcore” or “casual” or whatever, be at peace knowing this has nothing to do with that.  This is more directed at specific characters and roles.  Most people will find that they have fallen into each category at some time in the game or, like myself, coexist in all three at the same time.  I label the three categories as “The Cookiecutter,”  “The Supervisor,” and “The Mad Scientist.”  (Yes, I am sometimes far too amused with myself.)  The major difference between them is what kind of work is put into learning a class/role.

– The Cookiecutter –

This is the category for when you just don’t care to learn the specifics of a class and just want to get on with the playing.  You look up a spec, rotation and gearing strategy from somewhere online or perhaps ask a friend who you feel should know such things.  Falling into this category isn’t at all a bad thing and is fairly common when you’re looking to play an alt or off-spec.  I know that this is exactly what I do with my hunter.  I don’t really care -why- doing things a certain way makes my DPS better, I just want that good DPS.  This style of play is most useful when doing pre-raid content, as raiding in this style will cause you to run into the cons more often.  When I’m on my hunter, it is all about focusing on shooting things until they are dead.

Which is one of the major pros of this kind of play; there is no mucking around behind the scenes to impede your fun.  It is the “plug and play” of the WoW world.  Another pro is that you don’t have to worry if you have no real idea what you’re doing.  Listening to someone who does and doing what they do can make you seem like you know your class really well.  As long as you implement what you read decently, your DPS/healing/tanking skills will at least be passable.

Of course, a major downside to this is that you need to make sure your information is good.  The internet is a double-sided sword when it comes to finding accurate information and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the good and the bad.  This sort of play also has the problem of not having the knowledge that makes working with class changes easy.  For example, when the major changes to Survival Hunters went down with WotLK, I was pretty much lost as to how to deal with them.  And these sorts of changes happen far more often than you might think.  Even small tweaks can change things to a large effect.  This means either trying to find someone to tell you how to changes things with each tweak or else falling behind.

– The Supervisor –

The name of this category comes from the fact that you will be taking raw information garnered from others (the Mad Scientists) and then decide how best to implement it yourself.  This is likely the most common form of play for raiders, as it implies a certain amount of class knowledge without having to delve into the data.  This can also be thought of as taking a Cookiecutter spec/gearing/rotation and then breaking it down to learn about it.  When I PvP, this is exactly how I play.  I listen to the advice of other players in my class (and my teammates) and use their experience to build up my own way of doing things.  I don’t need to know exactly how hit works to know that I need 5% of it.  Another example would be a healadin who reads someone else’s numbers on the mana regen from INT and uses that information to gem her/his gear.

One of the major good parts about this style of play is the customizable nature of it.  When new information is reveled with patches, you can adapt and change things around with minimal effort.  You get to save time by using the raw data gathering of others, which is also really helpful if you don’t feel you have the ability to work with the raw numbers yourself.  While there is a small delay between the changes being made and the knowledge of how it affects play being disseminated, a skilled Supervisor knows where to get her/his information and has a keen eye towards making changes for her/himself.

Cons for this category follow those that plague the Cookiecutter, namely that information gathered may be incorrect.  It can be very hard to distinguish between a good source and a bad one.  Even generally good sources of information can make mistakes, too.  There is also a potential issue with comprehension of the data being given, in that not having full knowledge of how things work can lead to incorrect conclusions.  (ex. paladin tanks have the highest threat generation of tanking classes, so you never have to worry about threat stats)  Another pitfall can be reliance on old information, either through seeing misleading data from previous patches or else in not keeping up with changes due to stubbornness.    Most of the cons, though, can be balanced by someone with an ear to the ground and a good grasp of their class.

– The Mad Scientist –

My favorite!  Feel the need to work out all your numbers yourself?  Delve into every parse to see if there are any bugs or inconsistencies with your data?  Find yourself standing around and casting your spells on yourself hundreds of times to work out the spellpower coefficients?  You are, indeed, a Mad Scientist.  This is not just wanting to know -what- works the best, but -why- it does.  While some people consider the Supervisor a theorycrafter, it is the Mad Scientists who provide the information to him/her.  For some, it is the thrill of discovery that makes this category appealing.  For others, they simply want to know for a fact that they are doing the absolute best they can.

Which is one of the pros.  You never have to worry about the sources of your information, because you are that source.  Being able to double-check your work against the work of others means that you can make sure your data is sound.  This also gives you the background information you need to apply what you gather into your play.  The level of detail and accuracy when applying your work is very high, as you know the intimate details of how playstyle and mechanics meet.  When changes to the class occur, you are at the front lines, conducting experiments and running the new equations.

For most people, the major downside is that it can be difficult to wrap your head around the math and its implications.  It sometimes isn’t apparent how to turn a question into a workable equation so you can find the solution.  There is also a matter of not wanting to put the time into the experiments.  Actually, I’d say the greatest drawback is how much time and effort that people -think- it takes, and the fear that is associated with it.  Human beings hate to fail and there will always be failure in these sorts of endeavours.  Another serious downside is that sometimes the line between theory and reality can get skewed.  (ex. just because Greater Heal yields the most HPS and HPM on paper, that doesn’t mean it is the best spell to use always)  A Mad Scientist can get so wrapped up in the way things -should- be, that they forget how things -are.-

– Variety is the spice of life –

This was a fun exercise in thinking about how we play the game.  I rather like that I can see myself in all three categories and I do think that most other people will be able to do the same.  It makes me laugh to think that I, Mad Scientist as I am with my healing, fall so completely into being a Cookiecutter with DPS.  Some guide tells me to use Explosive Shot on CD and I do it, no questions asked!  If someone were to say something like that to me in regards to healing, I’d probably be pretty unhappy with them.

It does make me a little sad that there aren’t more Mad Scientists out there, at least in the healing community.  Or at least, not that I’ve seen.  Dip your toes in, fellow healers, the water is fine and peer-reviews keep the sharks away!

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New 80 Healadin List(s)

06/17/2010

This has been bopping around my head for a bit, so I thought I’d let it out into the wild.  It actually started because I wanted to think about what sort of gearing strategy I’d use if I were to take part in Gevlon‘s Blue Project.  I can’t actually join, since I’m a US-server account, but it was an interesting exercise.  It moved on from that to “what would I suggest a new 80’s pre-raiding list look like.”  Couldn’t hurt to share them?  If you disagree or have suggestions for either, do let me know!  I am -utterly- open to such.

– First there were blues –

The profile for this one can be found here.  I am pretty unhappy with the amount of haste I was able to scrape together using blue gear, but I had to keep an eye on having at least some MP5 and crit, as I can see mana being a huge issue at this gear level.  Not being able to use -any- purples really put the kibosh on my libram choices, too.  At first I was leery of including anything tradeskill-wise, but I just can’t see not being a jewelcrafter for this.  I would probably replace the Soul Preserver with the INT owl trinket.  And I would probably be a blacksmith, too, for the two extra gem slots.  But as it stands, here is my take on it without tradeskills.

Head: Battlemap Hide Helm
Neck: Choker of Betrayal
Shoulders: Dark Runic Mantle
Back: Ancient Dragon Spirit Cape
Chest: Drakewing Raiments
Wrist: Bands of Fading Light
Hands: Traditionally Dyed Handguards
Waist: Girdle of Ice
Legs: Frozen Forest Kilt
Feet: Sabatons of Erekem
Finger 1: Ring of the Traitor King
Finger 2: Solitaire of Reflecting Beams
Trinket 1: Soul Preserver
Trinket 2: Spark of Life
Libram: Savage Gladiator’s Libram
Shield: Facade Shield of Glyphs
Weapons: Gavel of the Fleshcrafter

– And then there were purples –

The profile for this set-up can be found here, but of course.  I was going for high INT with as much haste as I could get, but on the whole it is much heavier on the crit than I’d like.  You’ll note that I don’t have any of the expensive BoEs for this set, nor any Frost badge purchased items.  I wanted this to be easy for anyone just farming 5-man heroics to get, without having to set foot in a raid.  Likewise, putting items on here that cost thousands of gold just seemed cheesy, so I omitted them.  Yes, there is a single piece of PvP gear on there, but it is one purchased with Wintergrasp marks and very easy to get.  The best gems and enchants are listed in the profile (as well as what I’d consider a “new healadin” spec and glyphs set-up), since there is just no excuse for not having the best available in those.

Head:  Helm of Inner Warmth
Neck: Arcane Loops of Anger
Shoulders: Pauldrons of the Cavalier
Back: Titan-Forged Cloak of Ascendancy
Chest: Chestpiece of High Treason
Wrist: Bracer of Worn Molars
Hands: Rusty Frozen Fingerguards
Waist: Strip of Remorse
Legs: Legguards of Frosty Depths
Feet: Mudslide Boots
Finger 1: Oath of Empress Zoe
Finger 2: Heartmender Circle
Trinket 1: Talisman of Resurgence
Trinket 2: Tears of the Vanquished
Libram: Libram of Renewal
Shield: Protective Barricade of the Light
Weapon: Bone Golem Scapula

This isn’t a BiS list, obviously, seeing as there are at least 9 items up there that can be upgraded nicely by laying down hefty amounts of gold.  (If you can find someone selling, of course.)  But this is a decent list.  This sort of gear in the hands of a skilled healadin will get you into ICC-10, a good place to start grinding out Frost badges.

– What I learned –

You can almost think of this as “old pre-raid gear” vs “new pre-raid gear.”  I remember gearing up in ilevel 200 blues to get ready to raid Naxx back when the expansion first hit.  I liked knowing that I would be replacing those blues with shiny purples.  There just isn’t as much of an “ooo, aah” element when you’re going from epics to better epics, frankly.  5-man heroics are now just something to farm for badges with a bunch of way over-geared people.  It makes me want to shake my cane and tell stories about how things were in -my day.-  Darned kids!

And of course it makes me remember that New Year’s Eve when I accidently sold my boots (ilevel 200 blues, but they were still my raiding boots at the time) to the vendor, which proceeded to not let me buy them back.  I still get crap for that, even from people who weren’t even there!  Don’t log on after parties while smashed, I guess.

I still have the BWL boots that I used for a month after that in my bank…

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Burn out – Trying to stay interested

05/17/2010

I have to admit, things on the PvE side of the game have just been boring the heck out of me.  Our group is 7/12 hardmodes in 25-man and part of me just doesn’t care if we ever get the other 5.  Every time we wipe on something that we’ve done a million times before, I can feel myself becoming frustrated.  There are days when the thought of logging onto my paladin makes me want to scream; sometimes even seeing her in the character select screen is enough to keep me from logging onto an alt.

Burn out is destroying my enjoyment of raiding, but I’ve found a way to keep my head in the game.  I want to share it with my readers because I know that I’m certainly not the only one suffering from this problem.  If my solution helps others out then, hey, that’s great.

– PvP has saved my sanity –

To be specific, I don’t PvP on my paladin (although I’ve considered it now and again), but instead to do it on my Disc priest and it is a very good time.  The best part about PvP as a raider is that the challenge is completely different.  It isn’t about executing a set encounter perfectly with your group, it is about adapting to the situation and being quick on your feet.  The skill set is at first strange and bizarre, but as time goes on it starts to become easier and you learn more about your abilities than you ever did.

It’s important to keep in mind that you are PvPing for -fun- and not for another thing to stress over.  Get one or two of your raider friends and make yourself an arena team to mess around with.  Buy some Furious gear with those Triumph badges to start out  and hop into vent to laugh with each other.  If you decide to go into battlegrounds as a healer, make sure you bring a DPS friend to follow around and be ready to have huge amounts of players targeting you.  Relax and know that becoming that Walking Target Sign is just part of the fun.

Reading up a little on arenajunkies.com or even WoWwiki is a very good idea, if only so you aren’t completely in the dark when you start.  I actually favor befriending a PvPer and chatting with them about things.  I’m also a fan of copying the specs and gearing of accomplished PvPers as a new person, since that way you can focus on the fighting and less on how much spell hit you need!  (5% if you’re curious.)  Joining random battlegrounds solo or with only one person can be a bit maddening at times, it’s true, so just keep your cool.  The last thing a new PvPer should do is “talk smack” in battlegrounds chat, as many times the things they want people to do are just plain wrong.  (For example, controlling the middle is very important in WSG once both teams have epic riding.)

Overall, just have fun with it!  Killing people of the opposite faction can be very therapeutic.

– Other little tricks I use –

I love to roleplay and I have done it on non-RP realms to great effect, too.  RPing on the character you raid on can give the battles you fight more meaning and also add a depth to your main that may keep you from want to delete them.  Even if you’re only saying a few things in /say during trash pulls or break time, it can help work the creative side of your brain to keep the logical side from having a blow-out.

Even if RPing isn’t your thing, sometimes taking a little time to read the lore can help relax you and get you more in the mood for the raid.  Knowing how Arthas became the Lich King and why he needs to be killed may give you just a bit more determination as your wipe to him night after night.  Instead of just being a guy who drops your healing sword, he may suddenly become someone you want to destroy for killing his own father.  The stories involved in Icecrown are actually pretty interesting if you take the time to read them.

I know many people level alts to relax or spec into tanking/DPS on their healer to try to stave off burn out, but my last suggestion is actually to go back and run the old raid content.  There is something very relaxing about taking a couple of your friends and wiping out Karazhan at record speeds.  Revisiting those spots where you felt that frustration you do now can be very good for you, as can getting a chance to see content you didn’t get to at the time.  Not to mention, it’s really good money!

– The end is coming, try to enjoy the ride –

Cataclysm is coming soon and sometimes it feels like I’m just trying to hang on until it does.  The entire healing section during our raids sometimes all feel burnt out, which can cause real problems for us.  But if doing little things can keep it from seeming overwhelming, then I’ll do everything I can to keep my head in the game.  And yes, I know it’s a game, but if I decide that it’s no fun and stop showing up for raids, I’m causing problems for 24 other people.  Which I suppose brings me to the real thought when it comes to burn out…

If you are feeling frustrated and not having fun, work with your raid leadership to see what can be done to alleviate the strain.  If they are kept in the loop, many times they will go out of their way to give you a lighter raiding schedule or a week off.  Telling them how you’re feeling -before- you up and quit from burn out makes life better for everyone involved.  They won’t be left scrambling for a replacement and you won’t be leaving with all those negative feelings.  Believe me, your raid leadership understands how you feel!

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The ABCs – Not just for Discipline Priests

05/04/2010

For those who haven’t read Paolo’s brilliant post, ABC means “Always Be Casting.”  He discusses it from the point of view of a Disc priest, which boils down to “damage will happen, so use every single GCD you have to prevent it.”  Preemptive absorption is the Disc priest’s best friend and there isn’t a single fight in ICC where using every one of your GCDs to pre-shield is a detriment.  (I originally didn’t include Gunship in it, but that is mostly because there is so little healing to be done on that fight at all.  Having a Disc priest pre-shielding the raid -does- free up most of your other healers to DPS, I guess!  Win/win situation.)

I’ve recently been working with a couple other healers who aren’t living up to their potential and the concept of ABC has become one that really needs to be emphasized.  There is never a time when a healer should not be utilizing every single GCD.  Embracing this fully can really spike a “good healer” to the realms of “fantastic healer.”  I know many people bring up the idea that constantly casting like that will just cause huge amounts of overheal, but as always, the number one factor in overheal is bringing too many healers.  Nearly all content, including most hardmodes, can be effectively healed by 5 healers.  So if you’re worried about running into overheal issues when going with the ABC idea, you should be asking one of your healers to DPS instead.  It will make your raiding group more effective and your kills that much faster.

Trees and Holy priests have this great little trick of pre-HoTTing the raid.  While this does tend to spell some overheal initially, knowing when the damage is coming and to who allows you to have the HoTs in place and already ticking when the damage comes in.  This includes the tanks during those heavy tank phases, like during Festergut.  There is no reason you can’t use every GCD to stack up your HoTs on the tanks if the fight as no damage incoming to the rest of the raid.  Keep PoM rolling, keep Renew ticking and keep up those stacks of Serendipity.  Even if the damage is currently very light, you should be rolling HoTs as a preventive measure so that you aren’t scrambling later to catch up.  Like Disc priests are with shields, being proactive with HoTs are the key to keeping the rest of the healing team at an even keel.

I hope I don’t have to tell healadins that they should always be casting, but just in case…  Healadins!  The ABCs apply to you, too!  During light healing phases when Holy Light spam is unnecessary, you should be switching to a constant flow of smaller Flash of Light heals.  The mana you spend on spamming it constantly is absolutely next to nothing, so the overheal from it doesn’t count at all.  You should also always utilize your GCDs to Judge (on CD if at all possible, since the mana return is insane on it) and refresh your Sacred Shield/Beacon of Light.  Spamming heals is what healadins -do,- so being committed to the ABCs should be second nature to you.

Shaman have this interesting combination of abilities that makes constantly casting a real treat, namely Ancestral Awakening and Ancestral Healing.  When you crit, you get free smart heals on -other- people around and also your target takes less damage.  I’m not saying that you should be rolling around nothing but CHs to blanket as much damage reduction around as you can, just that you should be using every moment you can to heal every bit of spike damage that you can.  Heck, follow the ABC ideal and make sure to recast Water Shield and Earth Shield when you get the chance!  Shaman are similar to paladins in how they heal now, so using every spare moment you can to sneak in some direct healing is the way to go.

The ABCs are one of those basics for WotLK raiding that I hope everyone can embrace.  Sure, things will change with the expansion I’m sure (not for healadins, I’d wager!), but we need to think about maximizing for -now,- so that more raiding groups can down all that lovely hard content out there.  As always, this concept is for progression content, not the stuff you can beat with your eyes closed.  Actually, you can still use the overall idea on those easy fights, just let the ABCs apply to DPSing, too…

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Some follow-up

04/29/2010

Even here on my blog, people are pretty up in arms about what I’ve written about the changes coming with the expansion.  I find it pretty hilarious that people are so defensive about it.  Let’s just break it down into very simple truths here.

Truth #1:  People want the best loot in the game without having to deal with the “RL work” of 25-mans. Those are the people that rejoice over these changes and the ones that have convinced Blizzard to make these changes.  The majority of the WoW community want things faster and easier.  If only for logistical reasons, that means 10-mans.

Truth #2:  Without the “carrot” of only getting the best loot in the game from 25-mans, recruitment for those raiding guilds will be more difficult. People who say this isn’t true are just fooling themselves.  Go to your realm forum at the WoW website.  Read some of the posts there.  How many of those people do you think want to deal with the longer raid times, more wipes and general herding of cats that has to go on for 25-mans?

Truth #3:  Even the most stalwart of 25-man groups will die when they can’t recruit enough people to make up for those they lose through attrition (RL stuff like new jobs, marriages, having a baby, moving, etc.). If a group’s members are stalwart in their support of their 25-mans to a person, unless they can find equally committed and skilled players to replace those they lose to RL events the group -will- die.

Truth #4:  25-man raiders have every right to be upset about Blizzard killing off our raiding groups while trying to hide it behind a false “choice.” Even if I choose to raid 25-mans, if 24 equally skilled and driven people don’t make the same choice, then my having any sort of choice in the first place is negated.

Truth #5:  Telling people that being upset is “wrong” or that they are just mad as “losing epeen rights” is immature, untrue and dickish.

A couple more interesting reads on the changes here, here and here.  Vixsin has a very rational analysis of the situation and keep himself emotionally removed from his arguments, which is nice to see. Cassandri goes the other direction, calmly explaining how a 25-man raider is being effected by this emotionally.  Excellent reads, all of them.

As for myself, I’m tired of having “pro-10s advocates” stomping all over and ignoring Truth #5 up there.  Guess what?  My raiding group made up of 25+ friends is going to break up, if not at release of the expansion then whenever RL situations pulls enough people away and we can no longer get the people to fill our spots.  It’s Blizzard’s doing and totally out of our control.  I think that gives me the right to be at least a -little- hurt and angry, don’t you?

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Expansion announcement – My view on it

04/26/2010

For those who don’t know, there was an announcement of progression raiding changes for the expansion.  A very quick summary, stolen from MMO-champion:

  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will share the same lockout.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids difficulty will be as close as possible to each other.
  • 10-Man and 25-Man raids will drop the exact same loot, but 25-man will drop a higher quantity of items.
  • Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel
  • For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid.

Not listed, but 10s and 25s will have the same achievements as well, including realm firsts.

I will quit raiding if these go through.  If I don’t like the PvP changes, I will probably quit the game.

There have been some very interesting reads in regards to this post, but I call your attention to this one by Larisa and this one by HP.  I think they are both spot on about the direction Blizzard is trying to go, to make 25s look more tempting because it will level your guild faster.

I am not in a guild.  I am part of a raiding coalition.  Therefore any sort of “temptations” they try to give through that system is meaningless.

25s are harder, logistically.  The LK fight, for example, is many multitudes harder on 25 than on 10s simply because there are more people to screw up and wipe you.  When we killed him on 10s, it was actually not very difficult.  We had 10 skilled people who learned quickly how to deal with Defiles.  On 25s, you will always have those 5 or so people who are just not as skilled or who keyboard turn or whatever.  So you wipe more.  Raids are more stressful.  They are more difficult to organize.  You have a larger range of skills.

Who, really, is going to put up with trying to run a 25-man when they can run it on 10s faster and cheaper?  Blizzard says that running 25s will make gearing faster due to more drops, but it takes more effort and longer time to clear a 25-man raid, meaning the reward/time and effort ratio lower unless they jack up the number of drops by a whole heck of a lot.  And the achievements being done in either means that all competitive raiding will be moved to the faster/easier 10-mans.  Just look at 2v2s!  It used to be -the- place to get your Gladiator title and mount, but now that you can’t get those anymore all competitive PvP is done in 3v3s.

“If you run 25-mans for loot or prestige, you’re a terrible person!  You should be in it for the fun.”  Can 25s be fun?  Yes, certainly.  Progressive 25s are not, especially when you’re in a position of leadership.  It’s about hard work and trying to coax people to play better.  Let’s face it, there is always one or two people who will annoy you in any 25-man group.  But you know, if I were just playing for nothing but fun, I’d probably never raid anything progressively.  I’d hang out on Vent with all my friends and PvP.  I play for the challenge and for the rewards that come from beating that challenge.

I would rather Blizzard do away with 25s the way they did 40s.  Trying to claim that DPS checks or gear checks are the things that make 25s more difficult is -insulting- and utterly full of it.