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Introducing WoW Insider's Guild of the Month contest

Think your guild is one of the best in all of the World of Warcraft? Have you dominated your server since vanilla WoW, or run a packed RP event every week for years? Are you leading one of the biggest guilds in the game, running group after group through Naxx without any drama or wipes? Think your guild is awesome? Prove it!

WoW Insider is proud to present our brand new Guild of the Month contest. Each month, we'll be choosing a guild from the game who impresses us through performance in raiding, originality in what they do as a group, or just plain old community (because casual guilds need love, too). And the winner will not only get profiled here on the site as our Guild of the Month, but they'll also get a $100 gift certificate to, where they'll be able to pick up custom-made guild shirts for the top members of the guild.

To nominate your guild, just send a short message (no longer than 200 words, please) to stating why your guild should be chosen as a winner. Make sure to tell us why your guild stands out from the rest -- you don't have to have conquered all of the raid content, but you do have to be doing something extraordinary and special with your little ingame community. Every month, we'll choose a winner from those entries, and profile them here on the site (so don't enter if you don't want to get profiled), as well as award them the gift certificate from the kind folks at Swagdog. More rules after the break:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Guilds, Odds and ends, Instances, Contests, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Most frustrating moment

The vast majority of the time, WoW is just pure fun to play, and even nights spent wiping on a boss can be an oddly happy experience if you're running with a cool group of people and you feel like you're making progress. But we've all had that moment in a raid or a group where you realize that things have unstoppably taken a turn for the worse, and that there's not much (if anything) you can do about it.

I've actually had two of these in recent memory: being within one perfect Kel'Thuzad kill of server-first Immortal and then losing a single player to the second Frost Blast, and then having to call a Sarth 3D kill because people seemed to find an array of new and interesting ways to get themselves killed. The silence in vent on both occasions was pretty awful, and that these two nights occurred back to back probably didn't help anyone's frame of mind. I've had a Hunter buddy previously describe her worst moment as triggering the old Karazhan pet bug -- wherein you could aggro almost everything in the instance due to bizarre pet pathing mechanics -- when she was a trial member with a new guild. A Warlock friend still cringes when he thinks about the night he accidentally looted the Champion gloves off Curator, and then having to keep the group there for two hours while we waited on a ticket (back before any of us knew how loot transfers worked). Sometimes you realize the night's just going to stay bad, and that it's time to get out of Dodge. What was your worst experience in this vein?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Features

New dungeon maps on the patch 3.1 PTR

MMO Champion has posted all of the in-game maps for the new Northrend dungeons. We'd heard a while back that they'd be added in, and though there was no mention of them in the 3.1 patch notes, sure enough, they're out on the PTR.

They obviously use the same style as all of the other in-game maps, with labels of each area and concept art of the dungeon itself behind each layout. But here's something we didn't expect: each map has a skull placed where the bosses are, so with just a glance at the map you can see where the big bad guys are found. Right now, obviously, we know where they all are, but that will be interesting when maps of future instances become available.

And right now, on the world map, areas get drawn in as you discover them, but we'd guess that these maps will be opened up as soon as you enter the instance (you don't discover parts of an instance, you discover the whole thing). It'll be interesting to see, next time we explore some new instanced content, just how these maps can affect gameplay.

Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Guildwatch: Leave Tankserious alone

No classier way to /gquit than that, really -- have a power outage in the middle of a raid, and then return just to tell everybody that you're gone forever. Good luck with that whole "life" thing -- tell us how it turns out.

Lots more drama, downed, and recruiting news in this week's Guildwatch. Who knows: your guild (or server) might even be in here. Click the link below to find out.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, Raiding, Guildwatch, Bosses

The Silent Bob approach to group management

The world of groups: pugs, raids, arenas, guilds, confederations, servers; all of it means one thing: you have to know how to get along with each other. A big part of getting along with one another in a successful group is knowing how and when to get information across.

This communication is often times hard to do, even for the most seasoned communicator. How do you tell someone that their tanking is so awful you'd rather let the hunter's pet be the main tank? What do you say to a healer to get them to understand that healing means more than casting their biggest heal all the time? And what do you do with the DPS who always decides to pull for the group?

Recently I've taken up a new way to deal with all these things. I call it the Silent Bob approach to group management.

The approach is outlined by three simple steps.

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Filed under: Guilds, Instances, Humor, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Calling it quits

If you've ever played in a group or run a dungeon, then you know the nuisance and frustration of playing in a bad group. I'm sure most of us have been there -- a dungeon run that seems a never-ending string of wipes, a PVP group that's unable to stick together long enough to accomplish any objectives, and the inevitable repair bills that arise from a group of players that doesn't quite mesh. At this point in my healing career, I practically never group with people I don't know. Too many things can go wrong and any rewards that might come from running an instance aren't worth the sanity that would be lost by trudging onward after the fifth or sixth or seventh or eighth wipe. (And even sticking with people you know doesn't always lead you to pain-free groups -- I'll just say that Loken and I are never on friendly terms.) But a thousand complants about bad group experiences aside, when you're unfortunate enough to find yourself in a bad group, how do you know when to cut your losses and call it quits? Do you flee at the first sign of trouble? Hang in until the group leader calls it quits? Or do you have some other breaking point?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Instances

Ghostcrawler: Wrath's difficulty is where we want it

One of the biggest concerns we've heard from players since the expansion launched is that everything is too easy -- not only did the hardcore raiders burn down the PvE endgame content in a matter of days, but upgrades aren't really what they used to be, and anyone with some solid gear that blow through most of the instances without too much trouble. Which begs the question: is Wrath too easy?

No, according to our buddy Ghostcrawler. He says that Blizzard's goal this time around was to avoid the Karazhan mistake from the last expansion, where players butted their heads up against tougher content in the early endgame. GC says that Blizzard certainly knows how to make tougher content, but they'd rather everyone got a turn this time around.

The only question I have left is why they didn't include it all in the same release -- Blizzard seems to be saying that harder content is on the way, but wouldn't it be more prudent to have both easy and hard content in at the same time? As a casual player, I'm thrilled to hear that the endgame is easier -- I'll get to see more of it. But we've got two versions of each endgame instance now -- do they both have to be easy enough to conquer in a few days?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Officers' Quarters: (Group)

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

With every expansion comes a slew of new quests, many of whom have that word at the end that's both aggravating and exciting: (Group). It's exciting because the rewards are generally better. But it's aggravating because now you need a few extra hands on deck to move forward with the questline.

Finding help with these quests is easy when everyone is still leveling. But eventually most of your guild will be 80, and those lagging behind or leveling up secondary characters won't have as much luck finding groups. In a month or two, guild chat across every server will be filled with people asking for assistance. In small, tight-knit guilds, it won't really be an issue. Ironically, it's usually people in the larger guilds who have trouble finding groups -- and we as officers can wind up providing most of the help. This week, one reader wants to know how to prevent this scenario.

Hi Scott. I'm the assistant GM of a guild with over 400 members (225-250 accounts), and an issue that keeps coming up is the lack of response for help, either with instances or quests. The problem I have faced personally is that at one point I went out of my way to help anyone who has asked and eventually had to make an alt to hide on. If I logged onto my main I couldn't accomplish anything that I wanted to do since all I did was help others. This also happened to one of my Officers. Then there are those who won't help anyone at all unless there is something involved that they need.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

15 Minutes of Fame: Proudmoore guild plays out GLBT pride

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

If you've made even the occasional pass through the Blizzard forums, you're likely to have run up on at least one of the periodic flamefests with players stomping their virtual feetsies and pointing in horror at the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) guilds clustered on the Proudmoore server. Never one to ignore the elephant in the room, we got curious about what these guilds are all about and how they ended up on Proudmoore.

Our interview with Venfelder, a long-time member from the rank and file of Taint, paints a picture of a mature, friendly, open community of players making the most of WoW's many opportunities for raiding, PvPing and just plain hanging out together.

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

The 10 people you need to know in WoW

One of my favorite people to read online is a fellow by the name of Pjammer on Livejournal. He's smart, funny, and a gifted writer, and if you are not sobbing by the end of "King of Masochists" then you are pretty much a terrible person. But another great entry is "The 16 Essential People In Your Life," which lists such valuable acquaintances as the Computer Security Guru, the Wolf, the Consigliere, and (most importantly) the Best Friend. Pjammer, quoting Harvey Mackay, correctly notes that 2 am is a bad time to make new friends. These are the kind of people you want in your life as early as possible, and to exercise a positive influence on its course.

My realm's seen a number of guild instability issues of late, which is something most of us have come to expect with an upcoming expansion. I've found reason to mull over how the virtual world differs from the real world with respect to friendship, backstabbing, greed, betrayal, honor, and how people choose to handle their problems. In my considered opinion it doesn't differ at all, and your experience ingame is largely determined by the network of players assembled around you, whether that alliance is a recognized one in the form of a guild or simply a more informal group of friends.

So, from my own experience and with a hat tip to Pjammer, these are the people you want in your posse for the best possible experience in the game:

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Expansions, Features, Guides, Death Knight

Ask WoW Insider: How to PuG Heroics

I've just rejoined an endgame guild (my Hunter just recently hit 70), and while I used to run Heroics pretty often on my Shaman with my old guild, my new guild is much smaller -- while I like them a lot, they aren't as much into running instances as I am, so endgame instance runs are few and far between with them.

So I'm left to PuG Heroics on my own, and I'm having the same problem deviate_delight is: getting into PuG Heroic groups isn't proving to be easy. I'm a good player, and my gear is pretty good (OK, to be truthful, it's probably a little low, and I just need to keep running non-Heroic stuff a little more until I get luckier with loot drops), but for some reason, I'm having a tough time making my way into Heroic groups.

So let's put the question out to you readers: any advice for players like me and d_d on how to start Heroic dungeons without guildies to run with? Anyone have a strategy for getting a good, regular Heroic group together, or how to make it so that Heroic runners seek you out when they need a DPS (or tank or healer or whatever you are)? Heroics are great places, full of good loot and badges and all kinds of things that can help immensely with the endgame, but with the wrong people, they can really ruin your day. How can we get a group that works?

Previously on Ask WoW Insider...

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding, Ask WoW Insider

Breakfast Topic: Missed that one

I was surprised to find out, as I'm sure you will be also, that our own Zach Yonzon admits he has never actually run Deadmines at the level it's meant for -- he's always run it afterwards, to pick up gear for twinks or just to grind for lowbie stuff. Which means he's never felt the magic of getting stunned by Smite, or really pushed to take that Goblin Shredder down. A real shame, if you ask me.

And it got me thinking: what instances have you missed out on at the level? At first I thought I didn't miss any -- I love running instances, and whenever I hit the right level, I usually run to them as fast as I can. But after looking through the list, I realized that I've basically missed out on Dire Maul -- I've only run the instance a few times, and then only for quests like the Mage water quest and the Warlock mount quest. I've never once run the DM Tribute -- I know, also a real shame.

So be honest -- what instances have you missed out on at the level? And why did you miss them -- did you just not need anything from there (including possibly XP), or did you never have a group to run them with? And have you ever gone back, or leveled up an alt to make up for lost instance runs? I'll definitely have to do something about that Dire Maul Tribute -- I wonder if I could run it solo with my 70 Hunter...

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Leveling

Breakfast Topic: Doncha hate it when...'re doing a collection quest and you don't understand why the widgets aren't dropping -- until you realize you're grinding in the wrong area?

And doncha hate it when you're just a few pulls away from finishing an instance when your main tank says, "Sorry guys, I've got to go, I didn't realize it was so late"?

And doncha hate it when you finally grab that last pig's spleen, turn around to head back to the quest hub -- and walk right into an elite who sends you back for a corpse run?

And doncha hate it when you go to turn in a quest after leaving an instance run... and then realize you left the quest item back on the last boss' corpse?

I mean doncha? What else do you hate in game?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Breaking News: In game calendar system revealed

Elizabeth Harper managed to get onto the latest beta build of Wrath of the Lich King tonight and snap us a few screenshots of the new calendar system. It looks quite nice, and to me appears to be a step up from current in game calendar options.

Blizzard has mentioned that they've been working on one of these for a while, and it's nice to see the results. If you look closely you'll see things like when the Darkmoon Faire is coming, and when the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravagenza is happening. It doesn't show what PvP weekend it is, but I have to believe that's something they'll be working on.

Check out the screenshots below for the new UI. I'm sure you'll be happy!

Update 12:57 a.m.: There is a way to add user events in the calendar. It also appears there is a way to share the calender items among individuals. More information incoming.

Filed under: Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

The strong bond between healer and tank

We often post about the bonds created with this game -- there are some terrific bonds between guildies, and Arena teams and battleground groups have some strong bonds as well. But Omen of Clarity and Resto4Life, two great Druid blogs, recently took a look at an even more intimate bond ingame: that between tanks and healers.

Omen started it off -- after stepping into a tanking role, he noticed that a certain Paladin healer had really bonded with him in terms of keeping each other up and running, and it really made them both better players -- the tank was more willing to step up when aggro got lost, and the healer had more reason to keep up buffs and rely on the tank, even at his own expense. Resto, from the other side of the spells, agrees -- even out of raids, the healer there will send the tank potions and go out of their way to keep both together. And from my time raiding as a Resto Shaman, I was always thrilled when I got to be in the same group as the tank I was healing, and got to Earth Shield them and spend my trinkets just to keep them up.

It's not the only major relationship in the game (there's also a nice relationship between the tank and the rest of the melee and DPS, as well as the buffers and the buffed in a raid group), but it is an interesting, minute one, and it's something pretty specific to these MMOs that we play. Playing together isn't just fun and games -- by building bonds with other players in other roles, we both become better at the roles we play.

Update: Just in case, like Ratshag, our little hint on the picture wasn't enough for you, the two characters in the pic above are another fairly well-known tank and healer combo, Tree of Life and Pretty in Plate. You try to hide a subtle little easter egg in there for those of us who read all these WoW blogs, and Ratshag won't let you get away with it. Thanks for keeping us honest.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Raiding, Classes

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