Friday, May 21, 2010

Gearscore is The Price You Pay for Swinging and Raiding Makes me Social

This is going to be yet one of those posts that I throw myself into towards the end of the week, letting my thoughts wonder and my tongue run away at the same speed as I’m filling your after-work pints.

Tonight I’m even more unfocused than usual, since I spent all I had of concentration abilities on our attempts on Lady Deathwhisper hardmode last night. Oh dear, that fight would end up way high on my difficulty ranking list! I’m still mentally exhausted and my gaming face has gone fishing. So expect some very long and very casual Friday night ramblings here, about stuff I’ve come to think of the past week as I’ve been cruising the Blogosphere.

Gearscore – again
First yet another take on Gearscore. Professor Beej wrote an angry rant on the topic, where he declared that he was ready to quit the game over this addon and the elitist view it represents. The system is superficial and it excludes players from pugged raid groups for questionable or even unfair reasons.

Well, I’m not the biggest fan of Gearscore myself, and I’ve certainly raged about it in a post when a guildie of mine couldn’t get into a VoA pug because of it. But reading this I also thought to myself: TANSTAAFL.

Let’s start form another angle.

I’ve been married for 24 years this summer. Crazy, isn’t it? And while it isn’t roses and heaven all the time, it adds stability to my life. I’m a restless spirit, but this keeps me grounded. I don’t chase around at night clubs, looking for a one-night stand or THE guy who never will appear but in your fantasies. I don’t have to compete on a remorseless market, and even if it’s certainly appreciated if I dress up sometimes, I know that it’s OK to hang around, free from make-up, in clothes that are more comfortable then sexy. We’ve been in this for the long run; I’ve never ever been measured by the real life equivalence of Gearscore and I know I bring far more to the table than just my looks.

On the other hand I pay a price for this. If you’re married you have loyalties and commitments. I don’t enjoy endless freedom and I can’t do whatever I want to whenever I want to do it on my own conditions.

Translated into WoW terms: if you are going steady - if you’re raiding with a decent guild, regardless of progression level - you can be pretty certain that they won’t let Gearscore make the decision for them as they set up the raid team for the night. They won’t judge you only by your looks since they know your capacity and how you can contribute – be it with great dps or just for being an awesome entertainer who will make the raid more fun and interesting. You have bonds of trust, formed by previous experiences, your history together.

However: going steady has a price too: you can’t raid exactly when you want to, whenever the lust for it comes up. There will be occasions when you want to raid but can’t since there isn’t anyone scheduled or there are more players than spots available. As in any other relationship there will also be ups and downs – sometimes you might get a bit annoyed and fed up with some of your guildies – you might even quarrel! It’s a part of the deal. You’re not on honeymoon every day.

I can totally understand players who for various reasons stay uncommitted, pugging raids whenever they feel like it. Free to come, free to leave if it turns out to be less rewarding and entertaining than expected.

It’s not my cup of tea – it’s too shallow, lonely and lacks the sense of teamwork and brotherhood that I appreciate so much. But I can see that it works for some. However: this lifestyle has a price too. You may not risk catching unpleasant diseases, but you will be judged just as quickly as you’re judged on the dance floor. Someone tosses a glance at you. Is she hot or isn’t she? Is her Gearscore fine or not? Accept or dismiss. If you’re not one of the hottest chicks on the floor this is painful. But if you feel this way, maybe swinging just isn’t for you?

I’ve seen people crying for bans on Gearscore, but I honestly don’t see how that would make any difference. It’s not about the addon. It’s about the nature of short-term respectively long-term relations. If you want to enjoy freedom there's a price for it.

Raiding guilds –tyrants or social clubs?
This brings me over to a couple of somehow related posts we also saw. It seems as if there are a lot of people these days who want to be in a guild but rather raid with people outside of it. Spinksville wrote a post where she expressed her concerns that the incentives in Cataclysm to raid within the frames of a guild will be so strong that players will be tossed into “guild tyranny”. She wanted the game to better support guilds as social circles where you can see your friends, while you raid with groups outside of it.

Tobold is on the same line in his post about the perfect MMORGP raiding:

"Raiding with your guild should be possible, but not be the major function of a guild. A random raid finder with random raid bosses provides a better challenge, and a better measure of “skill”, than learning a tactic from a YouTube video and then practicing the steps until the boss goes down.”
He develops this a bit further in a comment:
“I think that guilds *should* be social spaces, for playing and hanging out with your mates and other people you share common interests and beliefs with. And in the current WoW model the guild function of being a gatekeeper to raid content gets in the way of the social functions of the guild. There is guild drama over loot and raid spots, and people quit guilds to join another guild only because that other guild is more advanced in the raid circuit.
I believe that if raiding can viably be done by *either* guilds or PUGs, there is less organizational pressure on guilds, and they would be able to perform their social functions better.”
If I understand Spinksville and Tobold right they like to see guilds that are formed out of friendship. And if this social group wants to raid they may do that. But it’s not the reason why the guild is there. Friendship comes first. Raiding comes next and can be done on your own as well as questing is.

Raiding creates friendship
Normally I tend to agree with most of the posts by Tobold and Spinksville, but in this case I have a slightly different view.

It probably has to do with perspective. If you entered the game with a bunch of real life friends - or if you came into it very early, getting to know people as you were levelling up in vanilla, sticking together every since, I suppose that the game is centred around the friendship you already have.

But if you’re late to the party, not the most socially talented person and slightly “off” due to age, sex or whatever (yeah, I’m talking about me) – it’s not that easy. How do you approach and make your way into a set circle of friends if you don’t have anything more in common than the fact that you like to play WoW?

If you want people to really connect you need more than just a moderated game chat channel. Doing things together is what forges a sense of comradeship or even friendship.

This is why I’m convinced that I would end up way lonely in a non-raiding guild than I am in a raiding guild. Our raids may be silent, but in the silence there’s a lot of bonding going on. As raiders we wipe together, we fight together, we fail together, we laugh together at our shortcomings and occasionally we succeed together. And we give each other a ton of honest feedback, which is the most solid way there is to get to get closer to other people.

Open for outsiders
As opposed to informal raid groups consisting of players from different guilds, the raiding guild is also visible for people outside of it. When spots open up and a raiding guild is recruiting, you have the chance to apply, regardless of if you know someone in the group or not. I don’t disagree that guilds have a role as gate-keepers, but this gate is actually way easier to break into than a circle of friends is.

Being the shy geek I am, I’m really happy if Blizzard keeps giving incentives for players to run guilds and do most of the raiding within those boundaries. I welcome a random raid pugging tool, but I don’t want it to be so good that it overtakes the role of the guilds.

Tobold’s ideal game would have a strong emphasis on pugging, where not only the groups but also the bosses were random. It’s definitely not a game I would like to play.

Being in a guild that raids gives so much more than just loot and achievements. It gives me the chance to feel like a valued team member, growing together as we learn and progress through the raid instances.

But now it’s about time that I shut up and bring out the Friday toast. Raiders and non-raiders, guilded and un-guilded, socials or shy geeks – hopefully there will be something for everyone to enjoy in Cataclysm, regardless of preferences.



Aggrazel said...

I recently started a guild based around the premise that I'd rather have good people with great attitudes than people with experience and gear. Hence, my requirements for entry are mostly that you don't be an asshat. That philosophy has grown a pretty fun guild to be in, we may not be on ICC heroic yet but we are 6/12 in normal mode but the most important bit is that we're all having fun doing it.

BluezMan said...

I haven't been reading yer blog for very long. Wish I had found it sooner. This is the best post I've ever read concerning the game. Well said!

Gevlon said...

I completely agree. The common effort bounds people, not just because the "win and lose together", but because they must be like-minded to find the same effort challenging.

PS: Slow is a must be talent for LDW. You can slow down an aberration chasing people, slow the casting of the adherents. You can even focus-macro it.

Shintar said...

I think you make a good point about GearScore, but at the same time I think that there's nothing wrong with campaigning for a less superficial world regardless, both in WoW and IRL. :) (Even when I was single I thought that meeting people in clubs based on whoever you thought looked sexy was kinda dumb and preferred getting to know people in more... conversational ways.)

And I agree with you about the raids as well, I started playing WoW with two friends who got me into my current guild as well, but I didn't really start to bond with the other guild members until we started raiding together.

theanorak said...

So if you're standing on a street corner in Dalaran, hunting for a hardbody to make your little pug *explode*, you're a swinger?

Larisa, you're a marvel!

2nd Nin said...

I really dislike people that whine about gearscore, what is the alternative?

Gearscore is simply a weighted sum of all gear currently equipped (with modern versions having penalties based on spec eg: hit as a healer). This is not an ideal representation of a player's skill or their capabilities. What it does is let me at a glance say the rough state of a player is (assuming the gear they have equipped is sensible). A 5000 gearscore is achievable from Heroics alone, 5,700+ implies the player has reasonable ICC experience.

Similarly with achievements, if you want to run a group on Wednesday in a group going for 6/12 of course they don't want you with no experience and no way to prove you aren't a noob. In contrast if you run a group, or you join on a Monday/Tuesday they will likely be less stringent because they need people or are willing to give you a chance before the reset.

Gearscore and achievement spam are simply shorthand replacements for armoury checks and asking people a whole load of questions about their raiding experience.

As Larisa says a guild will take you places without asking for these because they get to know you, they understand what you can and cannot do. In contrast a pug raid leader doesn't know you, its a one night stand and all they have to go on is what you are wearing and what your achievements say.

Even in a gearscore world, if you cannot find or run a pug to get the achievements to get into a pug then you are doing something wrong. Each time I have levelled a new character to 80 (4 in the last 2 months), I have hit 5k+ gs and convinced raid leaders to take me along without linking my kingslayer achieve from my main. In the one case I couldn't find a pug (Thursday night boredom) I organised and ran it, ok it only downed 6/12 but it got me enough of an achieve to get into other pugs.

Blaming the tools instead of the user is a bad plan. All these addons are merely tools that we are given to make life easier.

Rhii said...

Larisa, I know what you're saying and what point you're trying to make, but I'm also getting a sense of condescension from you toward people who aren't in stable guilds. Maybe it's me being oversensitive...

I'm not surprised to see Gevlon agreeing with you in this instance, because he's always claimed that if you weren't in a stable guild it's because you weren't working hard enough. But I really didn't think you were one to praise stability just for the sake of stability.

I am in a stable guild, raiding weekly. But we're not raiding in TOC anymore. There's one piece (a healing shield) I really still need from there, either from Anub 10, or Faction Champs 25... and if I want it, I have to pug for it.

Recently a pug for TOC25 wouldn't let me in because I currently only have the 10 man achieve (I just left a strict 10s guild), and a pug for TOC10 wouldn't take my mage because her gearscore is only 4.7k and they wanted 5k. Both requirements are ridiculous...

But it's the price I pay for not being in a better guild? No. The requirements are ridiculous.

Rem said...

*nods silently in profound agreement and raises a glass to the pigtailed tavern keeper*

By the way, Veneretio said roughly the same thing about Gearscore not too long ago.

Spinks said...

I don't think it will be possible for me to find another raid guild that lets me only come for one night a week if anything happens to the one I am in. I've been with these guys for years now. Most of the groups who take their raiding seriously want people to show up 3/4 nights a week or more, which is out.

Yes, raiding together will bind you to a group but what happens after that. Ditch everyone who leaves, forever? And people like me with not many friends in game and poor social skills have to give up the few friends they have? That's why some of us argue against what you are saying. It would be better if there were more guild activities to do than just raiding.

lickingfloor said...

Oh how I do agree with you, wise one. There's so much lacking in pugs – the ability to know what someone is capable of instead of what their gear is capable of, the respect for the other people there, the trust you build up when knowing the other players. I do understand why some pug, and I do it too, but someday soon I hope I'll be able to just raid with the guild only on my main. VoA excepted, I guess.

Gronthe said...

I think Aggrazel took a nice approach in starting a guild and being the leader in determining style of play based on preference.

I've been in both a raiding and a causal guild. In the casual the leaders set up activities, games, dungeons, and other fun things that helped the guild members get to know each other. I think if one joins a raiding guild they can't expect much more than raiding, but both can help develop good relationships and in both gearscore and achievements are not demanded to play together.

I get why GS and Achieves for pug raid leaders are important. The problems occur when the standards or expectations are set too high, such as demanding ToC 25 or ICC 10 gear in order to run ToC 10. That's just stupid.

Gevlon had one thing right, he wanted to try something a certain way so he led the charge and started the guild to fit that goal. If people are sick of being told what to do, start a guild and run it and play the way you want, and find like-minded people to play with you. Win-win.

Anonymous said...

As one who has unfortunately suffered through a number of guild disbandings and now finds themself in a guild which already has a stable group of friend/raiders with little chance of inclusion, I'm not sure if I'm on board with you on this one. Nonetheless, it is another Friday evening thought provoking post to consider while enjoying my single malt. Cheers and good weekend.


Imoh said...

"Tonight I’m even more unfocused than usual, since I spent all I had of concentration abilities on our attempts on Lady Deathwhisper hardmode last night. Oh dear, that fight would end up way high on my difficulty ranking list! I’m still mentally exhausted and my gaming face has gone fishing."

Deathwhisper heroic is the most difficult boss to learn before limited attempts, which seems really weird to me, not a lot is different with the encounter, it's just that the level of execution required for a first kill is so high. You would think after farming her for so long that everyone would have mastered the encounter before getting anywhere near heroic mode but that just doesn't seem to be the case, my only guess why is because there is no need for perfect execution on normal mode so no one bothered with taking the time to do it perfectly.

Good luck on getting a kill and enjoy the fight, it really is a great encounter.

Saga said...

I consider myself a "guild"-person as well. While I can understand some people enjoying PUGs it's not my thing. I prefer to raid with people whom I like and socialise with.

Perhaps I'm a little too intent on raiding with my friends, because I even prefer doing things with my friends on alts to the extent possible. Often of course my alts do end up having to PUG - but it gets less than it would be if I had my friends with me.

Something about PUGs just doesn't sit quite right with me.

Elelereth said...

Am I the only one who's been thinking that Gearscore is about as useful as a knowing only the expectation value of a wave and neither its r/theta/phi dependance nor the potential in which it's located?

Come to think of it, yes, I probably am. C. P. Snowe was right, even if he was talking about thermodynamics and not quantum mechanics.

I do wonder what it is that ties guidless people to the game - even with a fairly wide net of friends, somehow, it never feels quite the same as a guild. Being a member of my guild is the one thing that has kept me playing this game for over four years. In that time, the original schoolfriends who dragged me into WoW have moved on, but the guild as both an identity and a group of players continues. In that time I've become both a guild officer and a raid leader within our wider raid community.

I just don't think WoW would be a game I'd enjoy playing at all if I were either constantly guild hopping for raid progress; in a guild with people who couldn't even spell "you"; or who I expected to collapse the day after tomorrow. If I wanted to play a fascinating game with only minor social interactions, I'd likely be playing Open Transport Tycoon.

Holly said...

I think I've ranted on gearscore more than once, the issue is people's requirements, and people weighting you on it when a lot of the weights don't make sense, and there's so much a simple '4000' add-on won't take into account.

I ran the numbers on my priest the other day, it sits at a little 4400 gear score I think, but it uses lower ranked trinkets because they're better, and I don't want to break my tier bonus yet because, well, it's sexy, if I equipped trinkets and armor pieces -I have- that are less useful than what I have on, I could break 5100 gearscore....I lose 900 dps going up gearscore, but I got denied -heroics- for knowing my class better.

grumble rant grumble rant

and that's why I dislike gearscore, because it takes more than the dungeon it drops in to tell whether even the items are worth a shot, look at darkmoon card greatness for any melee user, it doesn't get replace really until ToGC 25, or ICC 25....even then it's a rough choice, it's an ilevel 200! you lose 50+ gear score for using something that is still sexy...

gearscore annoys me, it's -not- an appropriate way to even loosely guage someone since anybody with any amount of time can reach ridiculous gear scores, all it says is the person plays more than 10 minutes a day on this specific character.

Also I think guilds are just groups of people banded together for one reason or another, some are social, some are 'rawr we raid and u r must not suk' and, I think I've -lost- more friendships to raiding, than made them n_n

2nd Nin said...

Elelereth, GS is far from being that vague. It is a weighted sum of the ilevels of your gear (so a 264 helm is worth more than a 264 bracer exactly as the ilevel formula represents).

This tells us a lot, we know that a baseline for completed heroics (ie: badge gear) is around a 5,000 gear score - 232 average ilevel give or take or about right for starting ICC 10.

Each tier increases by roughly 13 points over 17 slots (250 points per tier give or take) however a swing of approximately 200 points should be allowed to account for trinkets.

We therefore can say that a person in 232 gear (5000 gearscore) is / should be out dps'd by a person with a 6,000 gs under the premise that a 232 gear score person should out DPS someone in blues.

There is a non-linear relationship between GS and damage due to the distribution of stats and set bonuses however as a general trend higher GS implies higher damage potential. If you want to argue that you have seen a 4500 gs person out dps a 5800 person feel free, its not a measure of the person behind the keyboard... you can be afk and thus out damaged by a person with no gs...

As for non-guilded having something to do in game, and staying with it... well your attitude is relatively typical. Why stay in a guild is a better question, on my server I pugged Kingslayer (4 pulls from first to death), regularly pugging 10 or 11/12 10 and 25 man ICC runs and there are lots of pugs for 6/12 heroics + 5/6 other bosses. Yes a guild might be fun for the green chat but so few guilds are really chatty and fun if they are actually raiding guilds. Instead of being part of a clique within a guild or similar you get to be who you are and spend time with anyone you want to. No guildless person ever feels ashamed for pugging with a random group, but those in guilds do. The lack of social interaction implies that you haven't formed a solid friendship group outside of your guild which seems odd to me... why only be friends with people wearing the same tag as you?

Anonymous said...

I think the perfect mix would be to have a LFG Raid tool that is a couple levels behind the current end-game. For example you wouldn't be able to queue for ICC or ToC, but you would be able to queue up to Ulduar.

I think one of the frustrations that many experience is the inability to ever get into raids because the end-game focused guilds fly through content and if you aren't on board for that ride, you will almost never get to go, except for rare occasions. If they had a cross-server LFG that had gear limitations (just like for Heroic ICC 5-mans), I think a good number of folks would like to do it. You won't have the same expertise as the raiding guilds, but you would probably get a few competent people to run the shows.

But I digress. My guild IS a social guild. Everyone is connected IRL to the officers. However, I would never think to say that certain guilds shouldn't exist for the purpose of raiding. That is why those people play - to conquer the hardest encounters and more power to them.


Anonymous said...

...and yes, I realize that a LFG Raid group cross-server would have issues regarding being saved to raids. I'm just thinking out loud of a tool I would use.

Philip said...

Don't take slow for LDW. To be honest, LDW should be one of the last hardmodes you do on 25man, just before PP and Sindra.

Rot, Fester, Deathbringer, Princes, Bloodqueen and Valethera are all much easier than LDW.

Its odd for her position in the instance, but she's definately one of the hardest in there. My 11/12 guild still wipes on her most weeks cause people slack on running from ghosts.

Jordan said...

Thanks for the great post Larisa. Tobold's idea of raiding being non-central to guilds didn't sit well to me, and I couldn't put my finger on why until I read this. I entered WoW alone, and I remember feeling very peripheral to my guild during the leveling experience, to the point that I doubted they'd notice if I left. However, I can't remember a guild I've been in for more than a month since hitting max-level where I didn't form close friendships.

PS. Your link doesn't work. TANSTAAFL should point to There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Larísa said...

:Sounds solid as long as you're on the same page about ambitions. Best of luck!

: thank you very, very much. Please feel free to investigate the archives. I've written some 500+ posts over the years and many of them are pretty timeless I believe.

@Gevlon: Hm... I'm not sure about slow for LDW hc tbh. Our major problem is currently people getting killed by ghosts. They're not awfully easy to see. But I hope we'll learn it eventually.

@Shintar: no I suppose you can try to campaign a little if you want to. But sometimes I believe that the gearscore outrages are kind of...don't know how to put it. Naïve perhaps?

: hehe!

@2ndNin: Admittedly there are nowadays better tools for quick judgements than gearscore. Elitist group I think it's called, which is a more solid help for evaluation. I've whined about gs a bit too previously - or at least about the silly achievment requirements that some puggers put up. But sometimes I feel that enough is enough. Can't take many more crying posts about gs right now unless they're very very well written.

@Rhii: I don't deny that individual players sometimes can end up in bad positions, as you are. But I don't think this would be reason enough to start to develop the game in a direction where it's even MORE pug friendly than today and were guilds are just for socializing, not for raiding. I think that would very unfortunate and add to the feeling of being a stranger and a loner in the game for many of us.

@Rem: oh, I didn't see that post. Thanks. And cheers!

@Spinks: But there are already things guilds can do outside of raiding, aren't there? Admittedly it takes a bit of effort though. You have to create it yourself. I can't wait to see the 2-year event they're secretly planning for us right now... And you of all people, being on a RP server should know that there's more to WoW than raiding?

With the possibilities of extensions, are there really not any raid guilds around with lower raid frequency and lighter schedules? We run 3 raids a week with minimum 2 raid attendance requirement. But there are others that are lower. Gevlon raids ONCE a week and you don't even "have" to attend that raid...

This said: I hear what you're saying. It's not easy if you're settled to a server and have some (if few) friends there to break up and start anew. I'm not sure I would do it myself if my guild broke down. It's just as likely that I would quit playing. This said I don't think making it easier to raid with people from different guilds would make any difference at all to me in such a situation.

: Yeah. I pugged a bit while gearing up my main since I missed out many guild 10 mans. But it always leaves an empty feeling, not at all the same as to raid within your guild.

Larísa said...

@Gronthe: I honestly think I would have a harder time to become integrated in a casual guild than in a raid guild. I'm just not enough socially talented. But it's good that there's a variety of guilds, so there definitely is something for everyone. Now if we only could stop judging each other and looking down on guilds and players with different preferences... That's something to dream about!

: oh, I can see where you're coming from. And yeah, I also feel a bit apart and lonely from time to time myself. People have been friends since vanilla and I'm that weird old lady who doesn't quite fit in. It's very, very hard to make friends in WoW tbh. But on the other hand there's another level of "belonging together" that I still can feel with everyone in the guild, which comes from our shared experiences. And since I've learned not to expect any more from the game than that, I'm fine with it. It still is a ton better than to pug!
I think we're very much on the same page actually. Cheers!

@Imoh: Thank you very much for that remark! It honestly made me feel a bit less crap about our chain wiping and lack of progress (or very slow progress) on that fight. I posted it on our forums. It's not my call, but I wouldn't be surprised if we'd work on some of the "easier" hardmodes in there before allowing ourself to get stuck on her.

@Saga: I think it might not just be if you're a "guild person" or a "pug person". There are nights when I feel fine doing a random 5-man with one of my alts, and somehow enjoying the anonymity and the non-committed nature of the relation we get in those groups. But for raiding - yeah, I definitely prefer it within the guild.

: agreed. I've been guilded since after my first month of playing,with a total of five guilds over my + three years. With the big emphasis on my current, where I've been since the summer 2008. I couldn't imagine myself playing without having a guild. Such a lonely, weird experience. I would feel lost, restless and quite unmotivated to log in. It's no wonder that Blizzard says they'll reward guilds better in Cataclysm. I think it's good business for them.

@Holly: I suspect that our hatred for gearscore is most of all connected to our experiences from getting discriminated by it (or rather feeling as if you're discriminated). I've never seen that myself since I don't have any alt that I play really seriously, having any big ambitions for. And my main is very well geared. So I suppose that makes it easier for me to dismiss the GS complaints.

: They've said that they're working on some LFG Raid tool and yeah, I picture it would be something in the lines you suggest, raiding the previous tier but not the latest one. I also hope they could arrange it so you'll be saved only lootwise from bosses you've already killed and looted that week, but still being able to kill him again, without getting loot.

@Philip: Yeah, it appears like that to me as well. We might be stuck on her for weeks if we decide to do her on heroic. Which seems a bit unnecessary.

@Jordan: thanks! And I've fixed the link now.

iapetes said...

"A random raid finder with random raid bosses provides a better challenge, and a better measure of “skill”, than learning a tactic from a YouTube video and then practicing the steps until the boss goes down.”

So has this guy ever raided?

Larísa said...

@Iapetes: he has raided and his guild is halfway through ICC as far as I know of. He's not raiding himself now though, since he doesn't like the way that raiding has developed in WoW.

2nd Nin said...


He is right in a way. If a boss had say 12 abilities, of which it selected 6 to use during a fight and they were all reasonably powerful we might see these fights becoming more difficult. Of course they would need to be on random timers (other wise a boss mod becomes usable after the first use each time).

Really what I think Tobold wants is bosses with non-strict timers.

Arthas thus might have:
Summon Ghouls (phase 1 only)
Summon Val'kyr (phase 2 only)
Summon Vile Spirits (phase 3 only)

Each with a number of charges, thus Arthas could summon 3 sets of ghouls first (regenerating 1 set every 45s or so), then none for 1:30... he might summon 5 val'kyrs at once... problem is if you do this then the difficulty of the encounter becomes massively variable. We would see tactics that literally say "wipe till you see him cast 2 sets of ghouls in the first 30s".