Ouch! A Lesson in 5v5 Arena Combat

Main Entry: are?na
Pronunciation: &-'rE-n&
Function: noun
1 : an area in a Roman amphitheater for gladiatorial combats

Main Entry: 1team
Pronunciation: 'tEm
Function: noun
4 : a number of persons associated together in work or activity: as a : a group on one side (as in football or a debate)

When Blizzard first introduced Arena into World of Warcraft, I did not have the time or desire to compete. I only had a Priest then. I knew I would get my ass thoroughly handed walking into combat with the lack of survivability in my gear. I took a new approach and leveled a Shaman. I’ve always wanted to create one but I had no interest in rolling on the opposite faction to do so. Burning Crusade solved my dilemma. A Shaman brings a lot to the PvP circuit in comparison to a holy, dwarf priest (at least MY holy dwarf priest). I could cultivate my Shaman from the ground up instead of having to slowly and meticulously migrate my PvE build priest to a PvP build priest. A restoration Shaman offers much more survivability and utility then my Dwarf priest would have been able to. Besides wearing mail, Nature’s Swiftness and Earth Shield are a staple and a godsend.

I signed on with several long time friends in the creation of our main circuit: 5 v 5 Arena.

Presently, from my observations, there are two distinct types of teams: A 3DPS, 2 healer type and a 4DPS, 1 healer type (Also known as gib). The team I’m with runs the former as I’m not sufficiently geared enough to sustain a team on my own.

We feature 2 Warriors, 1 Paladin, 1 Mage, & 1 Shaman (me). Two Warriors bring two Mortal Strikes to the board applying pressure to two separate targets (Casters or healers). The mage brings CC. The Paladin brings durable and resilient healing. I bring spell interrupts, heals, and Heroism.

After a few forays in the five’s arena, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I would be the main target. This week we ran into some difficulty against several teams. After taking down notes, I’m beginning to see a pattern emerge which needs to be broken.

Match 1: Warrior, Warrior, Shadow Priest, Shaman, Druid
DPS pressure was applied onto their Shaman. Kaliburn (our Paladin) got repeatedly mana burned.
We were caught off guard as Demi, one of our Warriors, randomly rushed up and started to DPS before the rest of us were prepared.
Their Druid kept repeatedly cycloning and CC’ing either myself or Kaliburn as much as possible.
Eventually, their Shaman dropped, then their priest, then their warrior, druid and other warrior. Not a bad start, albeit a shaky one.

Match 2: Shadow Priest, Warrior, Warlock, Paladin, Elemental Shaman
This was the first real instagib team I’ve played against. Sixvisix, one of our Warriors, went down super fast due to line of sight issues. The map was on Lordaeron and that stupid tomb was in the middle. Kaliburn was unable to heal him as well. I’ve never seen a Warrior go down that quick before. Demi advised him to slap on a shield and sword and switch to defensive in the event he noticed his health dropping super fast until his health became topped up. I didn’t even have time to get Heroism up that fight. The best I can do is drop a Grounding totem and hope it mitigates something really bad. I’m contemplating Earth Shield on Six, but Earthshield costs a hefty 900 mana. I only have about 8.6k. That’s over 10% of my resources. With Six down, it didn’t take much longer before the rest of us dropped.

Match 3: Shadow Priest, Shadow Priest, Elemental Shaman, Paladin, Warrior
Another fast damage team except they decided on applying pressure on Frostyone (our mage) first instead of me. Frosty wasn’t able to hit his Iceblock fast enough. I truly think in a situation like this, we could’ve won. It’s just a matter of gear. Two shadow priests are quite lethal in tandem. Again, we fell quickly. The worst of the bunch was coming up

Match 4: Warlock, Warlock, Paladin, Shadow Priest, Warrior
Forget Strength of Earth totem, Tremor and Grounding’s/Windfury would be the order of the day. Two Warlocks and a Shadow Priest meant we would spend a good portion of our time running around. A quick NS Heal and a BoP delayed the inevitable. With so many fears going off, the only decent way I can think of surviving is if our Warriors stance danced (Does that even work in PvP?), and if our Paladin glues his ass to my tremor totem. The Paladin can dispel me while I busy myself with healing and E Shocks. I think this was one of our longest matches, but we had no choice but to succumb to the fears and insane damage output by the other team.

There is still a lot more that I need to learn and more gear I need to acquire before I can truly be an asset. By next week, I will definitely have my Season 2 shoulders to go with my helmet. Then I’ll slowly finish out the Chest and Legs before concluding with the gloves. I have a decent shield for the time being, but I’m gunning for [item]Light’s Justice[/item] or [Item]Shard of the Virtuous[/item] so I don’t have to put points in yet. T4 pieces will be converted to Elemental sets.

Perhaps the one thing Blizzard may learn from NC Soft is to make WoW more spectator friendly by adding options to spectate and record matches live. I’d love to watch my own demo’s to learn what I did wrong and how I can get better. The only way to improve is scrutinize your own actions and learn from them. They added replay’s to Starcraft nearly half a decare after it’s debut. For WoW a similar function would be a boon.

Keys to Success

The keyboard is the most important tool in any gamer’s arsenal. It’s important to bind keys to abilities because you can react quicker to keys then to mouse clicks. Ask any player you know, and they will tell you that no matter what platform you compete on (RTS, FPS, MMO), it is absolutely essential to have a quick reaction in order to survive.

I remember back in the old days of Starcraft and Warcraft 2, I would manually click on the build icons to construct whatever units and buildings I need. Not so anymore. As time progressed, I started to slowly adapt to using keys. It was a gradual process at first, and I found I had to mouse over and figure out what key corresponded to what unit. Now it is simply second nature. However good you think your hand-eye coordination is, it cannot possibly compare to a player who is aware of where their fingers are placed and what they need to press.

This essential skill doesn’t even have to apply purely to gaming. Real world applications like Outlook or Word have built in keyboard shortcuts as well. Sure it might take 3 or 4 seconds to press the save button or bold a word. But if you deal with multiple documents all those seconds start adding up. Some of these keys are universal as well.

* Ctrl + S = Save
* Alt + F4 = Close program
* Windows key + D = Show desktop
* Ctrl + B = Bold
* Alt + Enter = Full screen (Some programs)

Those keys are universal. Back at my old job, I noticed the office folks were busy using the mouse clicking and clicking instead of using shortcuts. I guess it’s one technique which they can use to run the clock, but efficiency just goes down the drain.

When you’re mapping your keys in gaming, however, a majority of the time your keys will revolve around your left hand. This restricts the amount of keys you can bind since it would be too troublesome to constantly reach across the keyboard from one side to the other with only your left hand. The key’s that are within reach are: Q, W, E, R, T, A, S, D, F, G, H, Z, X, C, V, B, `, 1 – 5. Throw in the shift and ctrl keys and you get three times the options.

Typically, a player’s movement keys are the W, A, S, D keys. That’s considered the point of reference. With fingers rested on those keys, everything else is within striking distance.

My Shaman’s keys were a mess so I decided to completely reconfigure them. After much discussion and theorycrafting, I narrowed down the list of spells and abilities I would need for PvP.

Nature’s Swiftness
Eartshock, Rank 1
Earth Shield
Windfury Totem
Grounding Totem
Magma Totem
Chain Heal
Frost Shock (Rank 1)
Flame Shock (Rank 1)
Frost Resist Totem
PvP Trinket
Lesser Healing Wave
Healing Wave

The list doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re under pressure from an opposing team, actions needed to be decided quick. So I had to set them up in a priority order spreading outwards.

Anyway, don’t discount how important it is to map keys. Precious seconds could mean the difference between life and death.

Carnage scores shorthanded! (Lurker down)

Lurker 1 – Carnage 2

Those were the headlines last night as Carnage, a special forces guild on Ner’Zhul marched into Serpentshrine Cavern to help prepare for the oncoming winter. Repeated attempts to summon this monstrous monstrosity of a monster failed with various fishermen ill-equipped to lure a creature of this size. But in the end, dinner would be served. Now we look forward to eating fish for a whole year.

Moments before the kill. As you can see, Carnage lost three strategic members during the encounter. But perseverance was in order today. With 2% left to go, we would not be denied.

While the group was busy discussing who would get what piece of the kill for dinner, a secret shot was taken. The skull icon over that one fellow over there indicates he gets first pick of the part.

[item]Bracers of Eradication[/item]
[item]Cord of Screaming Terrors[/item]

Things I learned from my office (qualities, degree importance, salary)

Friday was my last day of full time work at Pacnet. The company had a hiring frenzy during the past few weeks. As the director of human resources, my boss was quite busy calling and interviewing various candidates. But on the last day, I had an opportunity to sit down with my boss and ask her a few questions about the hiring process and the qualities in candidates that she looks for. I figured I’d put some down here on my blog to help you and so that I would not forget (If you don’t write it down, it never happened). I know some of you business majors will definitely benefit from some of this. I can’t remember exactly word for word, but I can relay the general idea of it.

Matt: When you were going through the hiring process, what qualities do you look for in a person?

HR: Seeing as our environment is extremely interactive, I pay a lot of attention to a person’s social ability. I want to see if a candidate will fit in well with our team. To determine that, I’ll ask them a few hypothetical scenario questions. I’m not interested in the answer they provide. I’m interested in how they answer it. Hiring people is an instinctual thing for me since I’ve done it for so long. So if a person dodges or deflects the question, chances are they will not get the second call back. They may take a moment or two to reflect on it (ie, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your last job? If your friends could describe you in 3 words, what would it be?). That’s perfectly alright so long as they answer it.

For example, I know many human resource managers, and 4 out of 5 of them are not suited for the job. Human resources is a field where success depends on your social skills and soft skills. You need to know how to deal with people.

Technical skills are also especially important. In the world of business, you need to have a certain degree of mathematical competency. You need to know how to use a calculator (adding machine). There’s a minimum keystrokes per hour that needs to be maintained. This is tested on after the 2nd interview. English is also a must. Our office is very diverse with employees from multiple cultures. It doesn’t matter what their level of education is, if they’re not able to understand what I’m asking them, then it will be difficult in their working environment.

Show interest in the position you’re applying for but do not appear desperate. Do not beg or plead for the job. Show a strong healthy interest. How would I determine that? Simple really. I ask if they’ve been to our website and if they can tell me what our company does. I don’t expect them to be able to tell me from start to finish how our company operates. What I do expect from them is an answer along the lines of this: “I understand your company processes various foreign currencies from cheques, cash and credit cards for different clients around the world.” An answer that simple tells me that they have visited our website and is familiar with our services. Again, interest must be shown.

Matt: Do you place much emphasis on educational degrees?

HR: Actually, I don’t. Remember that the academic world and the business world are different from one another. Because one candidate has a degree in finance management and another one doesn’t would not rank one higher then the other. I look at the experience they bring to the position as well as other potential assets. But, it also depends on the position they apply for. Something like cheque processing does not require a certificate or a piece of paper that says “I’m qualified for processing cheques”. But a position in our marketing department faces slightly higher demands. While you may not need a degree in marketing, you must show some sort of interest. A certificate would help. But even saying that you’re still studying marketing would be a boon. Marketing is a field where you need to have the experience and the interest in order to be successful.

Matt: One more question, and it’s something that’s stumped me for a while. When do you discuss salary?

HR: Don’t ever discuss salary on the first interview. Allow salary to be brought up by the interviewer. Young people often go into interviews without any idea of what their salary should be. Don’t make that mistake. Do some research. There are lots of websites on the internet with what the average person doing this job makes. So you should have two figures in mind when you’re going in: The absolute minimum salary you’re willing to work for, and your ideal or dream salary. Then you pick two figures in between that. For example, you want to make $60000 a year, but you’re also willing to work for $30000 a year. If the interviewer asks you how much you’re willing to work for, be flexible and give them a range between $32000 – $35000. This way, you don’t overprice yourself out of their reach and you still get a decent wage. You do not ever reveal to them your minimum. Don’t tell them you’re willing to work for $30000.

One more thing, when I placed ads out for our position, I added a note that applicants should specify their salary. Many of them do not. My belief is that I don’t want to waste their time, and they should not waste my time. If a job placement asks you to specify what your salary is, put it down. Surprisingly, many applicants fail to do it. Many times when I phone them, I inform them that they did not place a salary expectancy down.

That’s as much information I was able to glean from my boss, but all of it was useful. Hope it helps!

11 Tips to Throwing a Good Party

I had this idea stewing around for an idea, but it was a matter of finding the time necessary to go out and do it. Contrary to popular belief, I do go to parties and have fun and all that stuff that people do at parties. Yeaaaaaah. I’ve been to my share of good ones and bad ones, and I’m sure some of you can relate to it. Honestly, these are just some minor things that I notice that some people do and some people don’t. The organizers who’ve followed these tips in the past made their events memorable. If you haven’t, now is a good time to learn.

11: Know how to get there

Simple right? You’d be surprised. People plan a party or a get together at a particular location thinking they know how to get there when in fact they don’t. It only takes five extra minutes to jump on Mapquest and navigate with Translink‘s route map. Bonus points for attaching the maps to your invites so that attendee’s do not need to worry. It could potentially save an hour of walking around a dangerous part of town!

10: Activities

Some activities are best suited for certain audiences. Some guys might prefer to watch Borat. Some prefer to watch the King and I. It helps to know the guests that you’re entertaining and what they like doing. Having a Wii handy is always an option and most people tend to have a blast. You don’t want to invite friends that aren’t interested in gambling to a game of poker. Certain athletically challenged people might experience some discomfort playing basketball or volleyball or going swimming (ahem) ;). Yes, it’s difficult to cater to everyone’s needs but there is always a common middleground that can bring everyone together. Some people prefer sitting in a nice coffee shop doing nothing but drinking coffee and chatting (like me)!

9: Invite Conditions

This one is important. To prevent your party from blowing out of control, it’s great to tell people you ask if it’s an open invite or private. Are guests allowed? If so, how many? This saves you from the embarrassing consequence of having to turn away people. If you need to maintain some sort of discretion, this is an absolute must to do. Otherwise, a small get together for a party of four accidentally blossoms to eighteen because a friend didn’t realize it was a private party. Some organizer’s just don’t have the backbone to say no, and if a person who wasn’t originally invited asks to come party, the organizer can do nothing but smile weakly and nod (Rant for another time).

8: Know who is actually going

Facebook‘s event planner is great for this. It allows you to keep track of who RSVP (What does that mean anyway?) and who hasn’t. Having solid numbers makes life so much easier. Should you reserve for 8? 10? 16? Always do last minute checks. Some guests tend to leave things towards the last minute and realize that they have a wedding to go or a graduation to attend and ‘conveniently’ forget to inform the organizer. Follow up on the people who are coming and make sure they are coming. 48 hours before the party is a good time frame. Partygoer’s, same thing applies to you. If you’re listed as going but something happens last minute, TELL someone.

7: Safety and Transport

This one is a no brainer. If there’s alcohol, make sure everyone has a ride home. If not, have them make arrangements with someone to crash at. Party organizers actually have a duty of care to their guests (I’m almost certain there’s a precedent somewhere, I’m just too damned lazy to look it up). If any harm comes to your friends at your place, you could be in a lot of trouble. Strip drivers of their keys and keep them somewhere safe. Sometimes, having Dwight Schrute for a friend comes in handy.

6: Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help

Who’re you throwing your party for? Your friends. Why? Because they’re your friends. I’m certain they would have no objections to helping in some form another. Girls especially have a knack for decorations, I’ve noticed. Guys, uh, can carry kegs and lift heavy… stuff. Oh, and they know how to work the TV and VCR for those karaoke nights. But really, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no shame in asking for help.

5: Know the Costs, make reservations

It’s helpful to know the rough prices and quantities that restaurants serve if you’re going out to eat. Some restaurants have certain gratuity fees that are added to the tab if you have more then a set amount of people (ie, 10% for parties over 10). Make sure reservations are set. It’s not fun to arrive at a great place to eat only to find out you’re in for a two hour wait. If you’re unsure of the number, there’s always the internet or the yellow pages.

4: Plan B

This is always a personal rule of thumb for mine. Unexpected things happen. It’s best to expect that. Maybe you’re planning a beach party but the skies look dark and ominous. Go hit the movies instead. Or bowling. The point is you can never be too prepared. If one idea falls through, it doesn’t mean the whole party falls through. You’ll be that much more impressive to your friends when they realize that not all is lost.

3: Quantity

Make sure there’s enough power. Make sure there’s enough chairs or couches or seating room. Make sure there’s enough drinks. Most importantly, make sure there’s enough food. Nothing sucks more then not having enough food around to keep people happy.

2: Scout the Venue

There’s nothing wrong with going a day in advance to a location that you’ve never been to before. Check it out! Make sure it is in fact ideal for the party you plan on throwing. If it’s a restaurant that you and none of your friends have been to, go a week or two in advance and check the place out. Make sure it looks sanitary and has some life to it. I once took a friend out for lunch to a restaurant. She excused herself to go to a bathroom and upon returning commented on the interesting insects she found in the women’s room. Had I known, I would’ve gone to a different restaurant instead. But unfortunately, as it was the women’s room, there was no way I could’ve foreseen such an incident.

1: Be Aware of Politics

Be cautious of who you invite. Just because you invite two people who are your friends does not necessarily mean they may be friends with each other. Be aware of inviting the ex. If you’re going to invite a friend’s ex girlfriend or boyfriend to a party, check with your friend first and see if he or she is comfortable with it. At the very least, they’ll appreciate you asking in advance.

There you have it! Follow this list of simple guidelines, and your friends will love it! You never know what the payoff might be.