Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things to do when you're on the bench

A miracle has happened to many of the raiding guilds. It seems as if the real life obligations that prevented people from signing up for raids suddenly vanished with the arrival of the Ulduar patch. People’s employers don’t force them to work overtime anymore, their spouses don’t have birthdays, the upcoming exams are non-existent and the football teams don’t have not-to-be-missed matches anymore. How convenient!

While it wasn't unusual that guilds had to cancel raids due to lack of signups a few weeks ago, this is more unlikely to happen now. On the contrary, the risk to be benched for a raid has increased quite a deal, and my guess is that this is how it will be for a while. It will change again eventually, when people either get bored with the new content or think that they've have had enough of wiping, if it turns out that Ulduar is as hard as it's supposed to be. If nothing else the upcoming vacation season will put and end to raiding for many guilds. But right now the interest is probably on top.

Reasons for staying online
All over Azeroth, raiders have to find ways to spend nights from the sideline. Some players dislike this so much that they don’t bother to log in if they’re not drafted. Others decide to go online anyway and I’m one of them. There are several reasons for it:

  • There is always a chance that someone won’t turn up or will have technical issues, such as disconnections. Things happen and you may get an invite eventually.
  • There’s a guild incentive for it. In our guild you get a few dkp for showing up and staying available as a reserve for the first hour. And there may be even more; if the night will turn out to be a wipe night or if there will be a first kill and extra dkp award will be handed out for this, you’ll get your share of that too.
  • I want to share the experience. I can’t see the fight or read the raid chat from the sideline, which is a big difference to being benched in a sports team. (I can’t help wishing that Blizzard did something about this, enabling spectators to see what’s going on in a raid without participating in it). But at least I can listen to what’s going on in vent. It doesn’t give me the whole picture, but it gives me some fractions that will add to the knowledge I have about the fights.

How to spend the time
So how do you best spend your bench time? Well, you are a bit restricted in your pick of activity.

Firstly, it has to be something you can do on your own. Joining a group for an instance or even a group quest is out of the question, out of courtesy both to your raiding team and to the party members.

Secondly, it has to be something that you can easily stop doing at a moments notice without losing too much. So it may not be such a good idea to let your levelling alt go to a far-distant-spot, far away from any flight point, into a cave full of mobs and a complicated task to perform. If you log out on spot you’ll lose important rested xp. And if you let your alt HS you’ll have wasted a ton of time and effort you’ve invested in travelling and clearing your way.

Here are some things you can do:

In my guild you’re supposed to have your raiding character standing just outside of the raid instance, ready to enter at any point without needing any summon. If I insist on staying online with my main, there isn’t much else I can do with her but chatting. Chatting is nice for a while, but hardly a way that I want to spend an entire night when my mind was set for raiding.

Go fishing
Do you remember DWP, outside of Karazhan? Oh, how distant it seems in our memories! It was no doubt a gloomy spot, but a nice thing about it was the handy fishing pool right outside of it where you could level your fishing if you were benched for a boss, hoping to get in again later on. I haven’t seen any similar spot outside of Ulduar, but maybe I haven’t looked closely enough. Fishing is a great activity for the bench. However, I’ve only levelled it on my main and it wouldn’t come to my mind to level it on another character. So I’m quite limited to whatever Stormpeaks has to offer (if it has anything at all?)

Farming herbs is a perfect thing to do while listening to the raid and waiting to see if a spot will turn up. Actually it’s so good that it’s one of the major reasons for me to bring up an alt to 80 and pass over the herbalist profession to her from my main. Now Larísa remain parked by the raid instance and I can happily collect my herbs on my alt, ready to switch to my main within seconds.

Clean up
Are your bags a mess? Is your bank full of outdated stuff and old quest items that you’ve forgotten the use of? Are you constantly short of space, panic selling and throwing away stuff out of emergency? This is a golden opportunity to sort things out. You won’t reach the bank of your main if he’s standing outside the raid instance. But at least you can sort out the bags and then go on cleaning up among the possessions of your alts. That’s a great start.

Get rich
I know I don’t spend as much time as I should at AH. I just don’t come around to do it as long as I’m raiding. Killing mobs is more fun than making business in my world. But we all need to finance our raiding somehow, especially with the drastic change to the loot/wipe ration that comes with a more difficult instance. So why not let an alt spend an evening seriously exploring the AH, searching for business opportunities. You didn’t get the boss kill or loot this night, but at least you got rich!

So how about you? Will you stay online or will you go and do something outside of WoW if you’re not drafted for the raid? And if you chose to go online, how will you spend your night?


Klepsacovic said...


Anonymous said...

I will always log in for invites as you said , incase they need me - after it will depend on my mood, sometimes I will welcome the chance to log out completely for an extra hour or so and attend to real life. Or lose myself in some Bg's - play an alt.

krizzlybear said...

Alts, alts, alts! And make sure they're in the guild, so they can contact you easily.

For Ulduar, specifically, the argent tournament in this patch gives you the opportunity to do the Stone Collecting quest just south of Ulduar.

Zupa said...

I'm like you.

I'll be there outside the instance just in case I'm needed, not that this gets me any DKP but it will have a bearing on my next raid invite.

I am hopeless with money, bag space and organisation in general. When I have spare time, I do nothing to resolve this situation, I'd rather kill stuff.

I have trouble dedicating any time to my alts, when I could be doing something to enhance my main... So that rarely happens.

I don't have any gathering professions on my main.. so that's out.

So when im benched, I tend to just potter around, kill a few things, read up on the strats I will need to know if I end up raiding, and maybe even read a book.

(a real life book... )

Dwism said...

Like Krizzlybare said, alts.

Other than that, ill be social mostly with my better half.

Unknown said...

Actually, I'm one of those who had lots of time before the patch, but now has to take a break from raiding because of real life. Not everyone can be there when you had into Ulduar. One thing I can do though, is my dailies. Hopefully I can get the ebon blade and sons of hodir rep in time for a comback, and maybe even a few new jewelcrafting designs.

Bizz said...

Why stay outside of the raidinstance? Any lock can summon you inside the instance and with the portals inside Ulduar it's not a big deal to run out and summon someone with the stone there. Besides, your lvl 80 char will most likely be in Storm Peaks or Icecrown, so with Epic flying that shouldnt be a problem either.

Carra said...

In my old guild, I would just level my alt if I weren't in the raid. Main had to be outside the instance anyway.

But now, I just log of and go do something else. And there's no longer any use to stay outside the instance, locks can summon you. Bring it up with your officers ;)

Oh, now that I think of it: I also wrote a small script that prevents WoW from disconnecting and showing a box when I got whispered (by an officer). Could read a bit or so and wouldn't miss the invite.

Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: they should have put the camp outside of Ulduar!

@Pugnaciouspriest: losing yourself in a BG with an alt is an alternative. But I always feel like a coward and cheater if I quit before it's over. The deserter blame-and-shame debuff makes me feel uncomfortable.

@Krizzlybear: ah, stonecollecting. Good idea. I haven't come around to do that yet.

@Zupa: reading books sounds nice but I think I suck at splitting my attention. Listening to vent and reading at the same time doesn't work well.

@Dw-Redux: spouse rep grinding is not a bad idea!

@Kel: well, I think the patch make a lot of players come to some kind of decision. Go for it again or have a break.

@Bizz: actually I feel bad about expecting summons. I always make my way to instances on my own. It's a matter of honour. I don't want to look lazy and I don't expect people to run out of the instance to summon me.... Want to be self sufficient sort of. Yeah, maybe I'm stupid, but that's how I feel about it...

@Carra: that script sounds like a useful idea. I had no idea there were such things.

I guess you should attach the box to some sound as well, otherwise it will be hard to notice it...

Captain The First said...

I painted the guild bench... not that I raid much in the first place.

I can heartily recommend doing the oracle dailies until you can buy your oracle egg (gives you something to sit on) and beyond that I am rather enjoying the new tournament grounds up in icecrown which also take a fair share of time.

There's a fair share of world events coming up in the near future so I doubt you'll really have to look far for stuff to do. Just carting your toddler around should take you some time.

Bizz said...


If you don't want the summons (i play a lock and if i need to put up summoning stone for a replacement there are absolutely no hard feelings) you can still get from anywhere in northrend to ulduar in no time if you have the epic flying mount.

@ the stones quest: 5 mins work so i guess you will be bored after that... you could do the sons of hodir dailies as well.

Unknown said...

My guild awards hourly DKP to those inside and outside the raid. We use to require that the main be outside, but now as long as we have a warlock, we let people go where ever. They can even check in just on vent - they don't even need to be on any character (main or alt).

I know some people use the time for studying or homework, leveling alts, dailies, ect. A few even will ask to be benched if they have a major test coming up, but let us know that they're willing to come in if really needed.

Fitz said...

Gevlon is calling, and he wants you to play the auction house while you wait. Anything else would be inefficient use of your time XD

If I'm not on a raid roster, which happens often due to my IRL circumstances of long hours at work and an infant daughter, I'll check in on vent once or twice through the night to show support for the guild and other than that, proceed to enjoy my IRL rep grinds of spouse and kids. And unlike digital rep grinds, those aren't even really "grinds" at all.

If I do want to play those evenings, I always settle in on an alt. I spend enough time on my main as it is and my highest level alts are a 63 DK and a 30 Hunter, so I've got a long way to go!

Thanks for writing BTW, the loss of some great bloggers in the past few weeks in the community has us readers scambling to find quality replacements.

Dorgol said...

I've had to sit the last two weeks, so I farmed the full Lightforge set (level 60 blue dungeon set) on my Paladin.

I'm actually completing the quests to upgrade to Soulforge. :)

Larísa said...

@Captain the First: actully my main is already allowed to buy those eggs. But why not make it a double and let my alt do it as well? Will double the chance to get the mount... That's an idea!

@Bizz: I guess you're right. It's just a hang-up I have, wanting to be a "good girl".

@Chad S: I could never study while listening to vent :). Actually an alternative, if you know each other well enough within a guild, could be that you could be offline, but if you're needed someone could send you a message on the cell phone... Would give more quality time for studying, while you're still available in a moment's notice if needed.

@Fitz: thanks for the appreciation! I can in no way replace those lost voices, but it's still nice to know that there are a few people out there who's made it a habit to drop by at our inn.

@Dorgol: wow! I've never quite understood the urge to collect outdated dungeon sets. But then I've never tried it, maybe I'd like it. The feeling of completion... (and something pretty to look at!)