Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Tetris - The Strategy Guide

Recently a lot of the more hardcore World of Warcraft players have been chiding the more casual players for not doing more theorycrafting, calling them stupid for not reading up on the latest flavor of the month talent builds and spell rotation on sites like Elitist Jerks. Sublime irony, them claiming "WoW is too easy, and you need to study hard to succeed". Who is more stupid, the player who is trying things out and learns by practicing and discussing with other players, or the person blindly following some written instructions? If somebody needs a written guide to play World of Warcraft, he probably also needs a strategy guide to play Tetris. And yeah, sad as it is, Tetris - The Strategy Guide exists, and I'll probably get some hits on my blog by people looking for it.

Raph Koster, who in his A Theory of Fun book proposes that the fun of playing a game comes from the learning experience you have while experimenting with the game, would probably say that this is just another example of players optimizing the fun out of games: You skip the part where you have fun and learn by playing around with your spells and abilities, or where you discuss the best spell rotation with guild mates of the same class, and go directly for maximum result with everybody using the same optimized talent build, spell rotation, and boss strategy.

I don't think games are meant to be played that way. The learning experience has to be an integral part of the game, not externalized to some third-party website. I think Blizzard realized that, which is why we do have raid dungeons with training-wheels on them now, like Naxxramas. A raid environment is different from a solo or small group situation, so if you expect people to master raiding, you need to give them a place to train. You can't expect people after 80 levels of soloing to turn up as a perfect raider to their very first raid. And you can't complain that the tutorial raid dungeon is too easy, because that is the point of it.

I find it sad how many World of Warcraft players, especially the hardcore ones, do their utmost to minimize communication with other players. "Oh no, don't make me talk to the other players and give them pointers on how to improve their perform or what strategy to use on this boss. Let's just kick everybody out of the guild who hasn't read the Elitist Jerks forums, and watched the boss kill video on YouTube." For a game that is supposed to be a "massively multiplayer" game, this is really a poor attitude. It is surprising how some people can even turn something like raiding, which is inherently a cooperative multiplayer thing, into an anti-social event where nobody needs to communicate with anyone else.
Don't have much to add here, other than that I agree completely.

But there's a lot of pressure on players to turn up to raids and be top dps/heals/etc off the bat. While everyone enjoys learning (I think) in games, very few people enjoy watching or helping other players learn.

And I think this is kind of an issue with MMOs in general. It's fun to learn with a bunch of other people who are roughly as smart/experienced as you are. Not very fun to learn with people who are much faster (they get frustrated and you feel dragged through content faster than you'd be comfortable with), and not very fun to learn with people who are much slower, unless they are also good friends.

So I wonder if this is a reason that WoW gets more popular as the levelling content gets more solo friendly. Maybe it really is more fun for most people to learn on their own and only then go mix it up with others. And we see how badly MMOs in particular fail at being good environments for players to learn to play them (because it's not practical for most people to learn optimal spell rotations on their own, without addons -- even if they were able to do it, they'd still be too slow for the guys who figured them out months ago.)
This is because raiding is at its core nothing but a memory game mixed with a dance choreography. Basically, change raiding and let people duke it out with the boss, not by memorizing a scheme how to kill the boss.
BTW: - it basically says that not only learning is fun.
Bah. First off, Elitist Jerks don't just crank out a flavour of the patch build for each class/roll. They do the math, find the ideal rotation in a static fight (read: Patchwerk), and then simplify it for public consumption. I check most of the math myself, read what they have to say, and then modify the suggested build so it works better for non-static fights.

I don't think learning styles in the game are necessarily meant to be unified. Sure, there are people playing WoW like an action-adventure RPG, learning hands on by just playing more. There are also people playing WoW like a turn-based tactical, spreadsheeting their theoretical maximum damage and figuring out how to do over 90% of it.

Requiring others in the raid to read forums (assuming they don't figure it out themselves) or watch boss-kill videos isn't about minimizing communication, it's about minimizing time and frustration. Some people don't want to wipe over and over on a boss, so they want everyone to know what they're doing. Some people are tired of seeing guildmates do 60% of the damage of another player with equivalent gear and have the game tell them that's good enough because the boss still died and they got loot.
Well, why would you want to invent the wheel twice. Thanks to the community and the moderators, the discussions on Elitist Jerks are of a very high quality and what they say is generally correct. Of course it isn't difficult to just copy the specs they propose. A good player with a decent amount of math skills will try to understand why these specs are good, compare them to their current spec and will even try to adapt them according to their own individual playstyle.

Unfortunately not all would-be raiders are equally gifted in the math department, but that doesn't mean they're not good players. You don't need a grade in mathematics to do the Heigan dance perfectly or evade the Fire Walls on Sartharion. These players just outsource the work that's boring to them and have fun in their own way.

I understand that this isn't fun to you, but this is indeed a multiplayer game where you have to get along with the people you're playing with. If you're a roleplayer, you wouldn't join a hardcore raiding guild because you wouldn't fit in. Likewise, if you're more into casual raiding with people who don't require you to read strategy guides and Elitist Jerks, but who prefer to discover stuff on their own, then I think there's plenty of people who think just the same. It isn't because it isn't the norm, that there isn't any place for that.

Do your own thing, don't let others spoil it with their way of thinking. There will always be people who complain anyway.
Jezebeau: Minimising whose time and frustration? And how fun is it really if you're dropped into a new game to be told to go look at pages of tedious theorycraft on some bboard somewhere?
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I'm not going to tell anyone else how to play the game. As long as they're not affecting me in any way, they can do as they please.

When they start affecting me by being in my group or my raid it's a different story. If they're performing well, I really don't care how they're doing it. If a healer can keep the tank and everyone else healed by using shadow spec, 3 self written addons and a hamster powered treadmill attached to their mousewheel while doing handstands I won't argue at all.

If the DPS can dish out enough damage to beat enrage timers and are doing adequate damage for the content we're facing, I don't care how they do it either.

If however they are NOT performing their task adequately and thus the rest of the party/raid are wasting their time, I will tell them to go and read Elitist Jerks. I will check their spec and criticize it if it's not up to par. I will examine how they play the game and offer advice, or offer suggestions on where they can go to get further advice.

If they are unwilling to learn more about the game to improve themselves and help the group/raid to succeed, then they can go and play the game as they wish in somebody else's raid/group.

If that makes me a 'stupid hardcore player who chiding the casuals' then so be it.
@spinksville: Minimizing the time and frustration of the people who know their theory and are prepared for the fights the group is planning to take down that night. Who's being "dropped into a new game" by the time they hit the raid the majority is doing? If the math isn't fun for you, don't join a hardcore guild, but don't tell me I shouldn't enjoy it.
And how fun is it really if you're dropped into a new game to be told to go look at pages of tedious theorycraft on some bboard somewhere?
That depends entirely on the player. As strange it may seem, some people do actually like reading.

Raph Koster [...] would probably say that this is just another example of players optimizing the fun out of games
Or the other way around. There are people who prefer to learn by reading rather than trial & error. There are people who have the most fun with execution, not planning. For example, a certain Leeroy Jenkins. The original video was meant as a parody of people who came up with elaborate, unique and ultimately totally worthless strategies instead of relying on common knowledge.
Went Leeroy made because he read too many strategy guides??? :)
*Who is more stupid, the player who is trying things out and learns by practicing and discussing with other players, or the person blindly following some written instructions?*

Well, the first one isn't bad but it just comes down to asking it to the players who have read the theorycraft. The second one is even smarter. Theorycrafting comes down to checking a number of builds and calculating which one is best. How can you not thrust math blindly? Besides, just check wowmeteronline or some such site to see if it actually is a good build.

But if there were no theorycrafting websites I'd probably just be making spreadsheets or programming simulators myself. Three cheers to theorycrafting sites!

And as for strategies. If a strategy works for guild one, it should work for your own. It might not be the best strategy but it's a viable one. And only the 0.1% of the top guilds find out their own strategies, the rest can just read it.
Went Leeroy made because he read too many strategy guides??? :)
Could you rephrase that in English?-)
"mad". Not "made". Come on. :)
There are two things here :
> Theorycrafting (gear optimization, DPS maximization and so on...)
> Approaching individual fights using videos instead of finding your own strat.

The first one is something I find very fun, it's actually a very important part of the metagame for me, one that is partly responsible for me still playing the game after more than 4 years. What you say is that it would be more fun to figure it all out in the game, the problem is that all you could get in game are anecdotical evidences, for most of the decisions that we are required to make we would require huge data sample to validate something. And that would not be data sample from real encounters, you would have to be in a reproducible environment (dummies since WotLK) to achieve the same reliability as in a typical EJ spreadsheet, spend countless gold in respecs etc... Would you find that fun ?

As for the second issue, I happen to think that it would be much more fun to discover the fights, unfortunately it requires a very dedicated group of people to do that, and a group that does not mind losing places in the local epeen competition...
We're all free to play the game however we like, no one is suggesting otherwise. When you are playing an MMO, particularly in a raid, you are going to have an effect on someone else. Players who want to beat all the existing content will choose to play with other players who are similarly motivated. Those players may decide to do a lot of preparation in advance to minimize their chances of negatively affecting the other 24 players fun. That is how they enjoy the game. Suggesting that the "real way" of enjoying the game is to have every player re-invent the wheel is just as silly as the converse, expecting every player to theorycraft their hearts out.

The point in the Unheroic Raid thread was that a guild with sufficient value to its players doesn't have to teach players how to play, they attract enough players that they can take only the players who have already put in the effort to be "good enough". That isn't true for every guild and a guild that wants to teach still absolutely can.

Different players play the game for different reasons, we get that you don't prefer a hardcore play style. The whole point of guilds is to allow players to congregate in groups that suit their play styles. Insisting the every guild MUST teach new players how to play is just as ridiculous as suggesting that every player of every guild needs to be an EJ reader. So with that said, it is totally reasonable for a guild to expect its players to show up prepared, if that is the purpose of the guild, to beat content with as little frustration as possible. Similarly it would be totally reasonable for a guild to have the stated purpose of letting players experiment with various builds, learn the strategies during the fight and otherwise play the game the way they want. If you don't have a guild on your server that does things the latter way, start one, you'll quickly see if there is a market for that where you are at.
"Oh no, don't make me talk to the other players and give them pointers on how to improve their perform or what strategy to use on this boss. Let's just kick everybody out of the guild who hasn't read the Elitist Jerks forums, and watched the boss kill video on YouTube."

You are stuck in the casual players lament. There is nothing wrong with a guild that structures itself around players that do read EJ/etc - and require everyone to do it and fully understand how to maximize their performance

If I'm a hard"-er" core player and want to blitz through raids with other similar quality players rather than constantly provide advice and train - what's wrong with that? I've taken the time - and I don't want 5 hour Naxx's anymore. The learning players can run it themselves and learn! It's not my requirement to provide advice and tips to everyone just because I am fairly well-read in WoW. I do help some - like the lvl 80 hunter (with iLevel 200+) fully enchanted with....spellpower. I helped in a constructive sense, but I'm not obligated, and can choose to stick with others like me!
Problem is after getting abuse for trying to point people in the right direction most people who know the theorycraft are relcutant to initiate education of under-achievers.

I'm quite happy to talk to people who want pointers. The worst morons and slackers don't want pointers, they just want epics.
One of my friends loved AoC because of this. Their weren't numbers or builds or theory behind everything. It was just a fun game where you hit stuff. WoW min/maxing has sucked the fun out of parts of it. I used to spend alot of hours discussing spell rotations in EQ with other enchanters and trying to solo different areas. Most guilds only had 1-2 enchanters so we had to network through other guilds. Our class had it's own community with in our server for spell trade and theory discussion. It was fun and in part that is what made the EQ community stronger.

In WoW if you ask a question everyone just says to check Wowhead or EJ. I'm guilty of this too but if the information is out their you are lazy if you are not atleast willing to look it up first, then ask questions. It's like in the real world, if you company provides the resources for you then you are going to annoy/piss people off if you just ask for the answer rather than looking it up.

That being said you can try to figure it out yourself, just realize that if asking other people will more than likely tell you to consult EJ. I don't think it's really bad. This is WoW. If you don't like this part of WoW their are other games with less game theory you could try.
I find optimizing my performance "fun". I think it's just a matter of perspective, Tobold: you think your kind of "fun" is the only kind there is. I read strats beforehand, and constantly read EJ because I want to play the best I can, and I enjoy knowing that I'm performing my best. The game for me is less "beat the same boss over and over" than it is "how can I optimize my rotation and play better to eke out some more dps, or threat, or survivability, or healing". If it were all about the boss, and once I knew the strat and the rotation for my class, I was done, well guess what? I'd get bored with this game real fast. If you aren't motivated by a desire to excel, if the game for you isn't going to this higher level, then you are either playing just for loot, or just for social interaction. If you are playing just to be friendly and social that's fine. I get a ton of social fun, and there is a ton of interaction on our vent and in chat during raids. We just prefer excellence over bumbling around and trying to just figure out the basics ourselves while the rest of the raid suffers for our ignorance.

Your idea would be a lot better if there was a clearer feedback system in WoW itself to let you know what you did wrong. But guess what? There isn't. You saw this yourself: you were basically the only one in your Malygos run who recognized that the dps were failing, and yet you said nothing, and the game wasn't giving the players enough cues about exactly what they needed to improve. I submit that learning in this game can be a slow, slogging process because the game doesn't encourage learning. It makes it difficult by not giving you enough signals about what you did wrong (or WHO did something wrong) and what needs to improve. That all takes out-of-game research. And I'm sorry, but when 24 other people are depending on you during one of the few hours of free leisure game time they have every week, THAT IS NOT THE TIME TO LEARN THE BASICS AND DO TRIAL-AND-ERROR. It's really inconsiderate.

It also helps if you only use EJ as a jumping-off point, a place to get numbers and to see ideas you haven't thought of before. I do not do everything point by point by what EJ says, because I have found certain other things more effective for me, and am part of an active discussion there about what works best. Sure, if you just sit there, read off a guide, then just follow the guide like a robot and that's it, the game is going to be boring. If you are actually thinking and making an effort to excel, the game becomes more fun.

Chess is more complex, but it serves as an example: I'll have more fun playing chess after reading a book about it than if I just go in cold and figure it out myself. I can play on a more advanced level, and start thinking about Yomi layers (visit, and stuff like that. That's more fun for me.
Look its fine if you want to be casual. And no I'm not chastising you or telling you to read EJ and up your game. All I ever said is that the content may be too hard for a certain class of player. Thats it! Its not a crime, its fine not to clear hard content. Its fine!

Guess what? The hardcore doesnt care what the casuals are up to. I really dont care if you're a casual player in a casual guild. I choose the people I want to play with because they're like minded. That is all.

I agree with the above poster. My definition of fun is beating hard content quickly with a group of highly skilled, highly motivated players. Anything less than that and I dont enjoy the game. Your definition of fun is different. Cool for you. We're not in the same guild, so what's the problem? I would never try and force you to play to my standards of excellence, because I know you dont want to. Its much easier and more successful to find players out there who *already* have that attitude. Then I just join them and all is good with the world.

So what are you arguing about, and who are you rebelling against? Its certainly not real hardcore players. Why make up some fictional hardcore's argument in your own mind and then demonstrate how foolish that argument is?

Go ahead and play how you want to play. And I'll play how I want to play. But if you make posts with definitive statements about how the game works, how guilds work etc etc... then dont be surprised that players with different experiences and perspectives disagree with you.
I find optimizing my performance "fun".

So do I. Please note that you used the -ing form of the verb. The fun is in the act of doing it, in optimizing the performance, a continuous process. I'd argue that if you just take the best available theorycrafted solution from somebody else, you actually skipped the optimizing part, and arrive directly at the optimized situation. And that isn't fun to me.
Sites like Wowhead and EJ are the guide books for this game. It's a hard reality of the gaming world, there are players who want/need someone to tell them what to do. In a regular single player game this wouldn't matter simply because you can choose to ignore the guides and try it all yourself. You could even screw up a little because there's save points. In a MMO however, there is simply far too much information for a single player to digest without consulting a guide. Furthermore, you can't boot up an old save file if you made a mistake somewhere down the line. That may be a design flaw or a social flaw, I don't know where things went wrong.

I propose an experiment. Take a person who has never played WoW, but is curious to try. Using no addons and no external help that is not sponsored by blizzard (no Wowhead, Wowinsider, blogs, MMO-Champ, or EJ) see how far they go. Can a player who doesn't know about leveling solo with a good spec make it to 80? Can they understand that questing will net better results than sitting in a city spamming Trade for a Wailing Caverns run? Even better, can they grasp the controls on vehicle quests or learn to handle the AH?
Perhaps participating in the community that generates this optimization is fun? Not everyone who goes to EJ simply copies and pastes their build, although that appears to be your assumption.

Tobold wrote:
"Who is more stupid, the player who is trying things out and learns by practicing and discussing with other players, or the person blindly following some written instructions?"

What is it exactly that you think happens over at EJ if it isn't trying out new builds and discussing them with other players? If anything, you're more likely to get real reasons for WHY you should take certain talents then if you simply ask a guild member who will very likely simply pass along information without the underlying reasons, or even worse, poor information with faulty reasons. Who would be more guilty of "blindly following instructions" then?

I just don't get your objection to pointing players to the most efficient source in their quest to optimize. They aren't required to follow anything blindly by reading, they could follow the logic and come to the correct conclusions themselves. We get that isn't your preference, but why the hostility towards those who do prefer that method?

To further drive the point home:

"For a game that is supposed to be a "massively multiplayer" game, this is really a poor attitude. It is surprising how some people can even turn something like raiding, which is inherently a cooperative multiplayer thing, into an anti-social event where nobody needs to communicate with anyone else."

I'm not sure how this follows any line of logic. There is a tremendous amount of cooperation that goes on in the hardcore raiding community. Sites like EJ, Bosskillers, etc that collect and distribute community knowledge are inherently cooperative. Because some players choose not to participate in that community, the players who do are now guilty of exclusion?
not doing the best job you can in a given fight is selfish towards your teammates. Knowing what abilities work well or what talent spec is best for raiding is everyone's responsibility; I bet your tank isn't arms specced even if he finds it more "fun" to tank that way than prot. Doing "whatever you want" is for solo-time. Despite how Blizzard makes it look sometimes, raids aren't 25 players soloing at once, it's teamwork. If you're uncomfortable with your guild imposing requirements on its members you should probably look for one that caters more towards your ideas, or change your current guild's rules.
While I sort of agree with the premise -- Naxx is important, and it's only easy if you're an experienced raider -- I note that much of the frustration of the hardcore arises from the lack of hard content. I.e., Blizz has provided the easy stuff, and hasn't provided anything past the training wheels. Eventually you do want to graduate to a Schwinn.
Actually I would feel more comfortable if my guild imposed MORE requirements. You simply don't get my point. I do think that improving your character and your guild's strategy on boss fights is a guild matter, BECAUSE raiding is a guild matter. I object against guilds having gotten rid of that responsability, by outsourcing all strategy to third-party websites. I think a good raid leader and the officers of a guild should discuss with players that don't perform well, and give them individual pointers on how to improve performance, based on Recount stats, not just "go and read up somewhere and come back when you do 3K dps". I think a raid should spend some time discussing strategy before a new boss fight, should spend some time discussing what exactly went wrong after a wipe, and should discuss how to do better, not just send people to some boss strategy site or to YouTube.

I am very much FOR optimizing your character, for optimizing strategy, and for optimizing working together. But so many guilds don't do that any more, they simply assume everybody learns how to play somewhere else, and kick out people who didn't.
Looking at the EJ boards as inherently evil is wrong-headed. What they've managed to do and nobody else seems capable of is they've worked hard to eliminate the "Hai guyz, check my spec and let me know what you think" posts. They've eliminated the "I spec'd out of X and my DPS went up 200" posts. They've demanded more of their contributors, to where new ideas are welcomed with open arms as long as you present your new idea with a reason why it's true as well as documentation to back up your theory.

This is something that should be celebrated. They've cut through the 90% garbage from the WoW forums and found a way to make themselves relevant in a very unique way. Saying "you just read the most common spec and don't think" is really only belittling yourself. You can certainly do that if that's what you choose to do, but any thread I've looked through there has people constantly testing new theories and new builds and encouraging others to collect their own information and submit it as well.

Just looking at rogues in the recent past, both the Honor Among Thieves build as well as the Shiv build (both of them builds that initially were completely overlooked) gathered tons of attention and tons of documentation showing them to be viable and totally different than the "accepted" builds. These were builds started by people who looked at the numbers, thought they found something that made sense and then approached things the right way on EJ, sharing and asking for others to help them prove their theory wrong or right.
Wait, what the...?!? This doesn't have ANYTHING to do with Tetris!!! What a waist of my time! There should be a law against using search terms outside of their medium...ugh.
That may be your experience in your guild, but making the generalization that hardcore guilds are all guilty of that is your error. Your assertion about "outsourcing" the strategies to a 3rd party site is also really odd. Having a collection of community knowledge is a more efficient way to distribute information. Again, using that resource doesn't mean that a discussion can't take place within the guild, in fact it makes those discussions more productive because everyone is more informed. That doesn't even address how much clearer a well written guide is then listening to a raid leader try to explain a complicated fight like Malygos over vent.

I'm not suggesting you haven't had bad experiences, I'm suggesting you're falsely attributing those bad experiences to every hardcore guild or every "stupid" player who reads written guides.

Incidentally, it is totally fair to assume players come into raids with some level of class knowledge. There leveling dungeons, max level dungeons and heroics that an intelligent player should have seen before they set foot in a raid. They should gain a reasonable level of familiarity with their class there. Some players may leap frog that, but that comes with the reasonable expectation by their raid mates that they have still accumulated a sufficient amount of experience to contribute.
More extensive rebuttal to the original post:
People are too focused on immediate results. They want their epics now. The problem this creates is a smaller useful pool of players. If you never teach anyone, how do they learn? If you never explain a fight, you learn less as well. In the end it creates an us and them with the them being almost permanently shut out.

I've noticed a problem with class leads becoming less useful as time goes on. I remember they used to help people spec, suggest gear, and sometimes if someone didn't meet guild standards, they'd still send them off with some tips. Now class leads seem like just another type of officer rank, a sort of guild patronage, a way of giving higher status to a select few without increasing responsibility. Raid leaders seem to have also fallen, being mostly just the master looter and person who calls for breaks.
Everyone has different learning styles, and everyone has something different to learn. So I wouldn't draw the same conclusions as you on this, Tobold. I've often said that the forums are part of the game, for example.
I've noticed a problem with class leads becoming less useful as time goes on. I remember they used to help people spec, suggest gear, and sometimes if someone didn't meet guild standards, they'd still send them off with some tips. Now class leads seem like just another type of officer rank, a sort of guild patronage, a way of giving higher status to a select few without increasing responsibility. Raid leaders seem to have also fallen, being mostly just the master looter and person who calls for breaks.
You say it's like a bad thing. The guild I was in was in the situation you describe: Class leaders and raid leaders were not required.. because everyone would already do the right thing without being herded to do so.
Most of the readers here seem to have misread what Tobold has said. I think its fairly common though, as people read through the post, read the responses, and come up with a different understanding of the original post.

This isn't a post where Tobold lambasts EJ and Recount as ways to dumb down the game and take the fun out. Instead, it is a post about how no one wants to provide their fellow guildmates or even people on their realm with basic information. Careful reading of the entire post should make that a little more obvious than a fast glance at it.

Here is what I see as the major point of Tobold's post, and I agree with him:

I find it sad how many World of Warcraft players, especially the hardcore ones, do their utmost to minimize communication with other players.

This is the point of his post. Not that players shouldn't be accountable for their performance, or shouldn't be required to do some research. As seen yesterday in the comments, no one wants to take 30 seconds out of their WoW time to give their fellow players any advice...whether it be how to spec or use rotations better...or even just a link to EJ and Recount.

Gevlon calls them M&S. He dismisses them off the cuff. Other players won't even try to point them in the right direction, because its not their job to do so. Tobold's point isn't that guilds should exist solely to inform the members.

His point is that for a MMO, the expected attitude of many players, hardcore or not, is to do research about the game outside of WoW, without any room for a community inside the game to discuss class mechanics or the like. This isn't a post attacking EJ. This is a post that makes up one piece of the argument on why WoW has no real community inside the game: "learn somewhere else, my time is more valuable than yours." Without communication in-game, some players will always play poor. And I agree. But it doesn't require you to take said player under your wing.

My argument from yesterday still stands: take 30 seconds to tell someone who is playing poorly to go to EJ and get Recount. Even though I won't be holding their hand during the learning and optimizing process, I still pulled them out of a whirlpool and gave them a towel. Its their choice whether they want to try the path on dry land, or jump back in the water. And believe it or not, I bet my 30 seconds of linking EJ and Recount and doing it with a little tact is more efficient than telling someone to learn to play, calling them bad, or just kicking them from a group after the first trash pull. Or, as I see it, if I've even helped one other player understand the game a little better, than the time I spent, likely less than a minute, will result in possibly hundreds of hours of better gameplay by the other player. And...if I ever pug with that player again, a better experience for myself.

And yet most people wouldn't spend 30 seconds to help a fellow player out. To me, and maybe Tobold disagrees with me, even going out of your way to give a link to EJ is a conversation and a helpful tip. Tobold's post boils down to the attitude of players that everyone who plays WoW is either a good or "good enough" and frequents EJ, or a bad who should be avoided at all costs. I believe and know from practice, that some players just need to be told that they aren't doing optimal damage/healing/stats and be given a little tiny push towards the place where information is.

WoW Forums, Tobold's Blog, Gevlon's Blog, EJ, etc, are all part of the WoW community, but I consider them the suburbs, and WoW as the city. Some people who play WoW never leave the city because they don't need to. If you as a fellow player can inform another player that they could be doing more DPS, or more efficient healing, without being a prick about it, that player may decide to go visit the suburbs of EJ. But as I've said ad nauseum, not everyone knows about EJ...expecting them to have the page bookmarked is naive.
If you ran around giving unsolicited advice to people on how to play, you will be widely hated.

Nobody likes being told they don't know what they are doing, even when its painfully obvious that they are terrible. Perhaps especially when they are terrible.

Telling people to go to a neutral source like the EJ forums to get the latest tips is a good way to get them pointed in the right direction while not coming across as a, well, elitist jerk.
As I re-read most of the posts from the last couple days, I don't read many who refuse to even point someone in the direction of EJ. Most players are suggesting that is preferable to engaging in 12 separate conversations with 12 poor performers. I've run raids for my guild over the past few years, it is a pretty substantial task to take each individual to the side and explain what they need to do to improve, especially if I'm not already familiar with their class and don't know someone who is. Tobold has very clearly stated his disdain for sending someone to a "3rd party site", which if followed would be the very reason why some raid leaders don't talk 1 on 1 to players, they don't know what to tell them.

I still don't get the desire to separate WoW's community into "in-game" and outside the game segments. They seem pretty inseparable to me. IRC chats, forums, blogs, podcasts, etc are all pat of the WoW community. Blizzard has promoted, encouraged and endorsed this sort of community. Tobold's suggestion that hardcore raiders are trying to minimize communication is totally ignorant, there are clearly large chunks of the community that foster communication, they just choose to do it in an efficient way. It is totally irrational to complain that players are anti-social, primarily because you choose not to socialize with them.
I dont think anyone is missing the point. What's being suggested here is a 1-size fits all mentality. However, there are 11million players and one size most certainly does not fit all. I see as misunderstanding of how higher guilds operate, and what they demand of their members... and why its "not fair". Not fair for who though? There are so many different players and player attitudes out there. Each to their own, and that is what guilds are for. So we can all play the game we want to play, with the players we want to play with.

I choose to play with players who dont need to be told to go check out EJ. Because the do it already. After having checked out EJ, the players in my guild can have a meaningful conversation with each other, and we do. If they're not interested in Ej, we are not the guild for them, and likely they will not be in our guild in the first place... unless their interest has waned over time. Tobold is describing a whole different level of engagement with the game, and frankly, I dont have 30 milliseconds to spend with players who need to be told to look at recount or go to EJ - let alone 30 seconds. But that's fine, you see, because there are 1000s of guilds & plenty of servers to choose from.

"This is a post that makes up one piece of the argument on why WoW has no real community inside the game" - Nick.

Whether or not Tobold's post makes this statment, I dont know. However, its a ridiculous proposition. Hardcore, softcore and everycore in between guilds thrive on community. Most players love that the most about wow, and is why we keep playing, year after year.
What's being suggested here is a 1-size fits all mentality.

Sorry, but it is YOU who is proposing the 1-size fits all mentality. By sending everybody to the same website, everyone learns only the same thing that is written there, which might not what is the current problem with whatever challenge the guild is trying to overcome. If you have a guild which still discusses strategy anyway, more power to you. But many raid leaders have become rather lazy and use the existence of these websites as an excuse to not look into individual problems any more.

If you ran around giving unsolicited advice to people on how to play, you will be widely hated.

That is why the raid leader has to do it. If you are a simple raid member and notice something wrong, you won't be thanked for pointing it out. But the raid leader SHOULD have this task in his job description. Unfortunately not every raid leader does.
Keep in mind that many people tend to have extreme negative reactions to even the simplest suggestions, especially when they are embarrassed about having just wiped a raid. Turn on Failbot sometime and watch as tender raiders melt down under the heat of objective scrutiny.
Tobold this is mainly an issue with your guild (and some other guilds which may be in the same boat). A few days ago you were explaining that Mr Slacky Dps Death Knight was refusing to help in Naxx and you intended to retaliate by refusing to help in Malygos. Now a further post on how Mr Slacky DPS Death Knight is not being helped to improve or made to improve.

It is a management issue. Your management uses EJ (which as people say can offer more depth) as a simple cut and paste tool for "optimising". That is both poor in terms of the social aspects of management and in terms of the mechanics of the theorycrafting process.

It's poor people management because Mr Slacky Death Knight doesn't think he's the person meant when people say go to EJ and l2p. He thinks he's adequate or even excellent, certainly too leet for Naxx now. He needs to be specifically told he's part of the problem and coached/required to play better. He probably also needs to be coached in team ethics, eg the notion that helping people even if there's no loot for you means that they help you even when there's no loot for them. It's not EJ's fault if your guild's officers don't do this.

It's poor theorycraft because people skim the EJ dps for dummies posts and come away with misunderstandings. My friend played with a sucky Ret Pally who consistently refused to upgrade his greens and blues because he thought EJ told him never take an item without Hit Rating. What they said was hit rating is the best point for point upgrade until cap, that doesn't mean 5 hit rating is better than 30 crit.

EJ (true to its name) is not a good site for non-elite players. It's a great site for mathematicians with perfect punctuation, it's a less good site for mathematicians with imperfect or non-US punctuation (I just lurk now that they banned me), it's an adequate site for non-mathematicians who like reading around the theorycraft (although Tankspot and Plusheal are probably better for these types of readers) and it's a poor site for people who skim to see the dumbed down, "tell me how can I be the best in one sentence" types (those guys are best on WOW forums).

I honestly think you can find a better guild experience in a different guild to the one you are in. Most of your recent posts highlighting raid problems have actually been problems that the rest of us don't really share, at least not to the same extent. You have a classic casual guild with vaguely defined intentions filled with an unhappy mix of people who believe some of the others are in the wrong guild. Join up with a bunch of good-natured people who are reasonably competent but not especially ambitious and you will have a better game experience.
!!! What Slabs said. Well said my friend. I couldnt have put it better.
Well, there are several reasons why hc people would not want to discuss strategy with casuals. The most prominent is that discussing strategy takes time, sometimes a lot and that it's a risky investment: the casuals may not play with you the next time around or may not play at all.

So, if you try to teach someone today, you may find that you have to teach someone *else* tomorrow and so on and so forth, with your time actually playing tending approaching zero.

The problem with wow is that it has no reliable way to publicly advertise your skill or ability. WoW puts people of wildly different skills in the same classroom and doesn't even offer teaching aids. Thus, it's hard to teach someon a new boss when it takes time and money (repairs) to do it repeatedly and the reward is basically zero.
Our guild uses all the tactics from TankSpot, WowWiki, Bosskillers etc.. etc.. But we're not hardcore, we're a social based guild.
We take those tactics and adapt them as much as possible to our style of play.

We don't restrict class-type on the raids to get the perfect buff combos, or to make sure we have an extra off-healer for the four horsemen encounter. We simply go in there, have fun and make do with what we've got.

It's alot of of fun, alot of interaction, and it's a different experience on every run because there's different players, and class balance, on every run.

Despite all this, we can easily clear Naxx10 in one night. So we might not be hardcore, but we can hold our own too.

For me, to be in a "hardcore" style guild, where you're expected to be an elite player before even being accepted, just doesn't make sense. You're all epic'd, you've all got the best possible specs, and the bosses don't stand a chance. So where is the challenge?

As an example:
It's like turning up to a demolition derby in an M1-Tank. You're gonna win, and it might be fun to watch all the other cars being cruhed, at first. People are soon going to get bored of it.
And considering that even with 3.1 the difficulty level isn't likely to jump, massively, your M1 will still be crushing the armoured vans you'll meet at the lower end of Ulduar. They'll put up a bit more of a fight, but the outcome is inevitable.
Perfect timing for your post, as I'm coming off my first ever night of tanking in a raid. On my main, a Hunter, I've been raiding through TBC and have been farming all the T7 stuff in WotLK for months now.

However, I just got my Druid alt to 80, got a reasonable starter set of crafted and quest gear, and went into Naxx-10 with a handful of my guildmates' fresh level 80 alts and some inexperienced (no naxx achievement on this toon) PuG players.

It was just so much fun because we're all learning new roles and new classes. Our guild's main feral tank was on vent giving me pointers on threat generation, mob kill sequence priority, when to taunt and when not to taunt, and on and on. We were all laughing with eachother over our silly mistakes, which were plentiful. Everyone was supportive and encouraging as we watched eachother "discover" the things that we find obvious when playing the toons we've been raiding on for years.

With our mains, we clear all of nax in ~2.5 hours, on our alts, we only did 2 wings over that same duration, but the experience is one I won't soon forget. Ironically, I'm actually hoping Ulduar is a few weeks further away than people are anticipating to allow us more time for nights like this before the hardcore raiding occupies all our scheduled raid time.

If anyone's interested, here's a little more detail about one part of the night, my first Heigan experience as a Tank.
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