Straight From the Raider’s Mouth:
Interview with #1 US Ranked World of Warcraft Raider, Timothy Mitchell – Raiding Team: Gag Reflex
Raiding is the epitome of what online games are about: Collaborative and arduous teamwork on a planetary scale.
Exclusive to online gaming, this team-effort produces ingenuity, and a supportive, trusting atmosphere where you and your team can accomplish goals. I’ve met some of the most passionate individuals while raiding in Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft, and these raiders are not only successful, free-thinking, brilliant people who have diverse interests in global social networks, creativity, art, and technology, but they are also fierce competitors whose rankings speak for themselves. And I got to sit down with one of these raiding legends—the extremely talented player, Timothy Mitchell. Tim plays on a PvP server in World of Warcraft with the incredibly prominent, world-renowned guild, Gag Reflex. Let’s dive in to this exclusive interview for a glimpse of what this raiding team has accomplished!
1. In the past year (2012 – to present) what goals did you and your guild have?
Timothy Mitchell: We had hoped to finish higher than #10 US 10man back in Dragon Soul. We had started week one of DS 6/8 heroic, then we had a lot of turmoil from one raider’s schedule changing, to another having to have an emergency surgery, to another’s PH.D. program shifting his availability. We felt like #1 US 10man was possible back then, but it wasn’t in the cards for us. We dedicated ourselves to laying out a plan to do better in T14, the first tier of MoP. We wanted #1 US, and we got it just a bit before Christmas!
2. Congratulations on ranking #1! Amazing job! How did you and your guild accomplish those goals?
Timothy Mitchell: We set up a very ambitious sales program that our entire guild took part in. We were selling three Firelands runs a week (mostly heroic Rag kills for the orange firehawk, but sometimes metas), and two heroic Madness of Deathwing kills a week too for the Lifebinder’s Handmaiden Mount (sometimes for gear or achieves, but mostly mounts). This filled up the coffers well, and got us into a great position to help raiders power level professions, get every raider their DMF Trinkets right out of the gate, and buy all the gear that showed up on the Dark Iron BMAH, although sometimes we had to world PVP for it. We also had started running a shadowrun in late Dragon Soul: basically that means we had our mains clearing our farm heroics, then our Alt runs with the other mains not in for the heroic kills, to try to get them upgraded gear in the slots where they still had some FL items. We continued this in T14, boosting the Average Item Level of our raiders as much as we could.
3. What moment in the past year (2012 to present) are you most proud of or is most memorable to you?
Timothy Mitchell: I would say our Sha of Fear Kill. It was a wonderful reward to a long and painful grind through MoP and T14. US #1 was nice, but just getting that Sha kill was the big thing.
4. What was it like having a Blizzard Entertainment Game Master (GM) watch you play the beta?
Timothy Mitchell: It was pretty great having a GM watch us do some testing. The encounter was pretty buggy, so we would take some time between pulls, analyze combat logs, and point things out that we thought were wrong—and we were thanked for pointing many things out. It was a great experience to have some give and take actually. Most of my interactions with employees of Blizzard have been a bit negative in the forums, and marginal from the GMs. Sometimes things are super easy fixes, and happen instantly, while other things have been mind-numbingly complicated on their side, which defied logic.
5. What have been your highest or most memorable rankings in the past year (2012 – present)
Timothy Mitchell: I think we were all very pleased to get our Spine kill pre-nerf, although we would have loved to have gotten it earlier than we did. And of course Sha as I’ve already said. Some DPS parses here and there, but those always wash away the more gear gets out there and guilds then decide to stack for a player to parse. Parsing is only fun the first month or so, then I don’t even look anymore.
6. If you could change any three things in World of Warcraft Raiding, what would they be?
Timothy Mitchell: Three things I would change about WoW raiding:
1. The amount of frequent direction-changes from developers. Every six months, one could track the number of firm convictions expressed by blue posters, which after the next few months completely change. I believe this happens because of the group-think aspect of balancing PVP, encounters, and classes for PVE. But to players, it is beyond bewildering at times. Most recently we’ve watched the game change significantly in 2 of the last 3 tiers that caused major detriments to the game and to players worldwide. For example: Asian players got double lockouts at the end of Firelands, which allowed them to grab the top kill by virtue of having almost double the number of legendary staves for T13. Now Asian players have higher ilvl gear. This forced the leading guild rankings site to make two separate sets of rankings for T15—hence, a huge detriment to the game and its players.
2. In MoP, the grind was the worst it’s ever been. I can’t speak for all raiders, but I’m definitely burning out on capping VP across my main and raiding alts, lesser charms for coins, in addition to all the old stresses. On top of that, the wonderful guild perks that made raid prep easier on officers and Raid Leaders were all reverted, so now in order to make flasks and pots for the entire guild, it takes a tremendous amount of time compared to the cauldron days. Add in being on a PVP server, and the grind of dailies becomes almost unbearable.
3. Despite all of the above, raiding in WoW is still one of the most fun things to do. My only wish is that one day PVE and PVP become detached. What I mean is that if PVE could just happen in a vacuum away from PVP (think separate talent trees, or talents that behaved one way in PVE and another in PVP, or worked in PVE but not in PVP, or something similar), the encounters could really go to a place they’ve never been. As the game stands, there cannot ever be PVE abilities that are too outrageous, because you couldn’t balance them for PVP. I get it, I’m sure all top end raiders get it, but I also wish someday PVE could really go off into a magical place and the encounter team could really go crazy without having to worry about PVP balance.
7. What are you currently working on?
Timothy Mitchell: We’re currently working on T15. Plans within plans: trying to take it easy, get some strats developed from our time on the PTR, consider any final additions we want to make to our roster, etc.
8. How can people follow you and keep up with your updates?
Timothy Mitchell: At the moment we have our guild website: http://gagreflexguild.com/ and we’re on Wowprogress. I check out the realm forums on Dark Iron a lot, and my guild and I try to do what we can to improve the realm. We’ve done a lot of giveaways, and we have recently increased our guild to having three raid teams instead of just the one. We’re often doing alt runs with people from other guilds we’re friends with, or offering advice on which fights to do next, or strat tips when we’re asked. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a blog for T15, and have a domain registered where I had wanted to explore coaching, but T14 really took a lot out of me, so we’ll see. To watch our videos click here. And here is the Heroic Sha US 1st video:
9. What do you enjoy the most about online games?
Timothy Mitchell: Raiding is still one of the most fun and enjoyable things going on today, I wish more experienced it. So much can be learned about oneself if one reflects on their experiences raiding. Leading is richer still. Best of luck to everyone next Tier.
Special thanks to Tim! We really appreciate your time. And congratulations to you and your entire team on all your rankings and accomplishments. Fantastic job. Your talent and passion do not go unnoticed.
Over to you fellow netizens! What are your most memorable raiding moments?
Tens of millions of people play MMOGs. Think about how much competition that is for a team of ten or twenty-five players: Ten players against thousands of other teams all competing against each other to rank. Talk about the ultimate team sport!
NFL: 32 teams x 53-man roster = 1,696 players
NBA: 30 teams x 12-man (minimum) roster = 360 players
NHL: 30 teams X 23-man (minimum) roster = 690 players
MLB: 30 teams x 25-man (minimum) roster = 750 players
World Cup: 204 teams x 23-man roster = 4,692 players
Indian Premier Cricket League: 9 teams x 33-man roster = 297 players
National Rugby League: 16 teams x 25-man (minimum) roster = 400 players
World of Warcraft Raids: 61,000 teams x 25-man roster = 1,525,000 players
As you can see, no other sports have to compete against that many opponents. That is why when we rank in an MMOG it is a huge accomplishment, and deserves more than just a little praise. Game on, Raiders! Your accomplishments astound and amaze!