Inexperience and Weakness

In my last article, a comment led me to another blog post which in turn led me to a recently released addon called Experience.  The idea behind the addon is that when you target someone, it queries their character statistics to see how many times they have killed the bosses of each instance in the game, converting that to a measure of how much of the game they have experienced.

Like GearScore, this is just a tool to provide quick insight into another player.  The graphic above is of a 5-man group I ran CoS heroic with last night: as you can see, most of them were very inexperienced, but we breezed through the timed run only slightly slower than my personal best (5 minutes remaining instead of 8).  We then followed that up with a heroic Trial of the Champion run that featured none of the deaths or “stupid” moments that are a hallmark of PUG runs in that place.

On it’s own, this mod gives a useful but far from complete view of players.  It has a few rough edges:

GearScore No More

I’ve decided to ditch GearScore and use Experience for a few weeks to see if it gives me a better view of what to look out for when doing pickup groups.

Even just from testing it last night, there were some moments when the experience value didn’t match performance.  The member with 9.2% total experience was pushing 4.5k DPS on bosses, which is more than you might expect from someone who had only done heroics (and even then not all of them).  In his case, he had been farming both EoC and EoT gear since the last patch, as he was sporting mostly tier 8.5 / 9 gear and obviously knew his class well.

As a tool for guild recruiting, I would be more comfortable using either Experience on its own or in conjunction with Gearscore to set a minimum bar for applicants.  I would probably set the threshold to one, just to see which instances an applicant had run to completion rather than using the default of three.

I don’t want to spend this entire post talking about this addon.  What I really want to discuss is the concept of experience, not just in terms of the content you’ve completed but how experienced you are at WoW in general.

How Inexperienced are you?

I’d like to propose a new way to describe yourself in terms of WoW.  Rather than describing what your character has done, describe what you (the player) haven’t done but want to.  Let’s call this your “inexperience”.

I am inexperienced at tanking any content beyond normal General Vezax in Ulduar.

Before my EU guild fell apart, we hadn’t done any Ulduar hard modes (except for our first FL kill where we picked up Shutout because nobody could figure out how to catapult people up onto FL), and since I’ve come back from my US break I haven’t been able to recruit to attempt Trial of the Crusader.

That’s all I have to say to describe what I haven’t done.  If someone wants to know more about exactly what I’ve done, we can get into a detailed discussion.  But for a quick description of what I’m capable of, this does quite nicely.  If I’m on an alt, I may provide more information that distinguishes my experience as a player vs that of my current character: I’m inexperienced at DPSing this fight, but I’ve tanked and healed it more than 10 times each.

There are many other things that I haven’t done in the game: I haven’t healed Eye of Eternity or Ulduar on my Shaman at all, and I haven’t done anything PvP related.  But those aren’t things that I want to do: my Shaman only tends to go to raids if there is no need for a tank and I despise PvP.  I don’t consider those to be part of my “inexperience”.

For me to consider myself experienced in the current content, I need to kill Yogg-Saron, do at least one Ulduar hard mode (probably Firefighter) and kill Anub’arak on normal Trial of the Crusader.  Anything less and I will go into patch 3.3 feeling that I have missed something and that if I get the chance to do that content in the future, I will be overgeared and not facing the same level of challenge.

By contrast, if I’d asked this question of a random sampling of people that I’ve run PUGs with in the last week, the honest answers would have been:

I am inexperienced at doing this instance on heroic, but I know the fight mechanics

I am inexperienced in all aspects of playing a Death Knight.  My gear has a mix of defence rating, spellpower and Crit/Hit on it.

I am inexperienced in healing Onyxia at 80 on my Druid, but I healed the fight on my priest at 60.

Know Your Weakness

Closely associated with knowing your inexperience is knowing your weakness.  I’m not talking about all of things that you’d like to improve upon, but the one thing that you can honestly say “if I can improve this thing, I would be a better tank / healer / dps / person / guildmate / employee / etc.”  The question comes up on job interviews sometimes as a test of those who can’t think on their feet.

Your weakness will change, sometimes rapidly.  Sometimes the situation or context will change what your weakness is.  In WoW, the character and role you are playing will change it – an excellent tank can be a shaky healer for various reasons.

As Guild Leaders, we may have many weaknesses, but each tied to one of the different hats that we wear.  There may be something you can do to improve yourself as a loot master, or a raid leader, or a quarrel resolver, or just as a raider.

Weakness is Not a Bad Thing

Your weakness doesn’t have to be a failing.  A long time ago, I started a thread on my guild forums entitled “Why I Suck”.  I didn’t quite provide the background that this post does, but the idea was the same: I explained why I sucked as a healer and what I was going to do to fix it.

At the time, I was one of the top healers in the guild and I doubt anyone would have described me as a “sucky priest”.  My weakness at the time was that I tried to save everyone – I lacked the discipline to stick to my assigned healing targets, and in some of the harder content that was causing us problems.

Knowing your weakness requires some level of introspection.  A cursory evaluation of me as a healer would have shown that I was topping the healing meters every raid.  It wouldn’t have shown that it came at the cost of sniping other healers, wasting their mana.  Only through a more in-depth evaluation of combat logs or personal reflection on my part will reveal that the way for me to be a better healer was to heal less.

Show Your Weakness

In the real world, showing your weakness can be dangerous, depending on the situation.  There are people who will exploit this knowledge.  Setting aside who you share it with, it is important to know it at all times, and re-evaluate what it is from time to time as you make improvements or your life changes.  Also realize that perfection is not a prerequisite to re-evaluating your weakness: sometimes small improvements can make it so that something else is now your weakness.

In WoW, I’d like to think that we can be a little more open with what our weakness is, especially among our guildmates.  I would encourage everyone to start talking about weakness with their guild – go on and start a thread where you describe the one thing you can improve on.  You may not get much response initially, but you may find that people are interested in discussing this kind of thing.

The ability to be openly self-critical says a lot about a person, to me at least.  If you know what’s wrong, that means that you’ve put more thought into your personal progression than someone who waits for things to blow up and then says “what happened?”

Using Your Weakness

You can use your weakness as part of your gear upgrade plan.

On my paladin, my weakness used to be stamina.  I had moved from a 10 person guild to a 25 person, and was now trying to recruit for a new 25 person guild. I hung around 28k unbuffed in my block set.  I set out to acquire upgrades, and over time boosted myself to 33k unbuffed.  Now I found that my threat was lower than I wanted it – about 4k in heroics.  Looking over my stats, the upgrades had robbed me of a fair amount of hit rating, and with groups clamoring for more and more stamina I found it harder to use an Elixir of Accuracy instead of a Flask of Stoneblood.

Re-chanting, re-gemming and picking up a Libram of Valiance boosted my hit rating and strength to the point where I can now push 6k TPS in a heroic.  After each upgrade, I ran a few more heroics, evaluated where I needed the most improvement, and chose the next piece of gear to go for.   I didn’t just grab the items as I had the emblems, and in more than one case I passed on an iLevel 226 piece EoC piece in favour of a iLevel 232 piece because the stats on the latter helped the area that I needed to improve.

Asking Someone Else their Weakness

When I’m done this post, I’m going to upgrade my woefully underutilized application form for Cold Comfort to ask applicants to tell me what their weakness is.  Anyone who says that they don’t have one hasn’t really thought about the question.

Even if you don’t put it up front in your application, this is an excellent question to ask as part of your interview.  If they don’t quite understand what you’re getting at, explain it as I have, or just send them to this post.  Once people realize that admitting tat they have a weakness doesn’t make them a failure, it opens up new levels of discussion about how we can each become a better player, guildmate, and person.

Until Next Time