Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Me - the huntard

I never did groups with my original main. Groups seemed like a scary place to be where you might get yelled at if you did something wrong. I found it much nicer to skip instances and level peacefully on my own. Admittedly, my view might have been skewed by levelling while in the same room where my husband was trying to PuG his way through the then top-level instances. I think all the muttering about the lack of ability of group members made me nervous of ending up being one of those clueless people that turns the instance into a wipe-fest. And since I reached 60 just days before the expansion, I could go on merrily soloing my way to 70.

Trap, what trap?
One day when I was maybe 65+ a guildie was trying to get a group together to do Blood Furnace with his healing alt and asked if I could come along as DPS. I explained that I didn't know anything about this instancing thing, but would come if he couldn't find anyone else. In the end the group was mostly much higher level than needed for Blood Furnace, so I was assured "it would be fine". So off we went and then the group leader says "and Yrsa you trap the blue square". My reply was a very panicked "huh?". Once my guildies stopped laughing at me for managing to get my hunter to 65+ with no clue about trapping, they kindly explained the procedure to me.

Learning experience
I managed to get through that instance ok in the end, but it does show how much there is to learn about the game and your class which you have to figure out without a guiding hand from Blizzard, particularly when it comes to group play. There are skills that you might think of as useless when you level up which suddenly becomes amazing once you start doing instances. All of a sudden it's not just kill, kill, kill - you have to think about tactics and performing a role. It is easy to dismiss people lacking knowledge as noobs, it takes more effort to give them a friendly pat on the shoulder and point them to places of learning. My priest would probably be a priestard if not for some good and timely advice from a fellow healer which lead me onto the path of theorycrafting.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Beginner's guide to healing add-ons - part 1

Keeping it in the green
As a healer healthbars are just the beginning. You need to be able see who has a debuff you can dispel. You need to know when someone has a debuff that does silly damage and requires spam healing to get through. When working as part of a healing team you need to be aware of who has incoming heals and who is HoTted up. Out of combat you need to see who has lost their buff. That's a lot to keep track of on top of retaining situational awareness and staying out of trouble.

Add-ons != cheating
There are people out there that will argue that using add-ons for healing is tantamount to cheating. I wasn't healing, or even raiding, back pre-TBC, but I have been told that there were add-ons then that pretty much healed for you. You mashed your button and the add-on would pick which target most needed healing and which level of the spell to cast. Yes, that is ridiculous, but even if you wanted to, you couldn't do that now. Blizzard changed things so that kind of automation is no longer possible. Healing add-ons today are purely informational. They take the information that is there already and display it in a way that makes it easier for you to see the things you need to be aware of.

What the future holds
If you heal just fine using just the standard UI and naught else - good for you. Personally, I've used various add-ons before getting to the set-up I use today. I'm quietly pleased with my current UI (though I am constantly ogling UI threads for new ideas), but I also retain a fondness for some add-ons out there that I don't use anymore. So I have decided to do a series over the next few weeks, looking in detail at some add-ons that can be useful for healers. My aim is that it should be easy to follow even if you are new to healing or add-ons (or both). I will look at various add-ons that I currently use, have used or decided weren't quite right for me but that I know are popular - hopefully you might find some add-ons that are right for you.

A post on Grid will be coming this way in the next couple of days.

Friday, 29 August 2008

4 cheers for Arthas!

10-man raid progression
As a small guild that enjoy a spot of raiding, this is like Oreo cookie milkshake served in the Holy Grail. Sure, the fights will likely not be as complex or interesting as the 25-man versions, but the prospect of having more than one raid instance to explore once we hit the level cap never fails to put a big smile on my face. For small guilds this is probably the most amazing gift Blizzard could have come up with, now we get the enjoyment of being able to progress without having to artificially grow to fit the 25-man format. The two separate progression paths also benefits the 25-man raiding guilds as they will not have to go through a 10-man stage before getting back to the business of 25-mans. Win – win all around.

Levelling from 70-80
New content = fun. I mean, really great fun. There will be so many new things to see and do, it'll be like re-discovering the game. This time around we have so many level capped players around that as a guild we'll be able to get together for questing and instancing along the way. Not boosting, but playing through the content together at the right level. This will be something to savour for those of us who missed out on this kind of experience before. (I suffered from instance-phobia until well into my 60s, don't ask why I rolled a holy priest.)
Did I mention the new content? *happy sigh*

Death Knights
Now, I don't actually want to play a Death Knight, but I have to admit to a strong urge to roll a pink-haired gnome DK named Tinkerbell. Seriously though, I’ve read that the DK start area sets up the story for Wrath and it is also supposed to be quite amazing and different. So I'm very much looking forward to playing a DK for a few levels and experiencing it. Though after that Tinks will most likely join my level 70 hunter on indefinite leave in the green fields of Nagrand.

This just makes so much sense. The less specialised an item is the more people can use it. Of course it will mean that there will be more people contending for the same item, but at least it should see less items sharded because no one in the group/raid can use it. In a raid context I cannot imagine anything more disheartening than raiding week after week without getting a usable drop but seeing other items sharded left, right and centre. I’m sure it will take a bit of getting used to, but with the new talents and other changes – it’ll be a bit like learning to play your character all over again anyway.

Everyone now – For he’s a jolly good fellow...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Levelling and the expansion

The expansion looms (ish). There is talk in various places about levelling once it hits. The thing is though that there is levelling and there is levelling. Mystic Chicanery talks about levelling not being a grind and looks forward to heading out to Northrend. BBB talks about how to ease the levelling burden when starting a new alt. Levelling and levelling - see?

I am very excited about the expansion. I quite like levelling and Northrend looks to be a really cool place (pun probably not intended). So on my main it will be great fun. However, the thought of taking an alt from 1-80 makes me feel slightly queasy - and I like levelling alts (mostly).

There is a quote on BBB's blog from Tesh: "I am deeply concerned with the 'game starts at 70' mindset. It does not bode well for the long-term viability of the game". At the moment I would say that the game starts at 60 (or 58 if you want to be picky). Outland is the place to be. There are always new people joining the game or levelling alts, but not enough to populate the Old World the way it used to be pre-TBC. We may mourn for the de-population of the Old World, but we cannot change this fact (unless Blizz takes BBB's ideas onboard, which would be great fun!). Since there is a level cap it is unavoidable that all servers eventually will become top heavy. The pattern I'm seeing is that people race to 60 mostly solo and then when they hit Outland they jump into instances and (this is purely my hypothesis) seem to get more enjoyment out of their levelling. My guess is that it comes from Outland being the place to be due to it feeling more current and alive (though I must admit that it does seem to be a lot quieter than it was a year ago). It also is more compact. You don't have people of similar levels spread out over 2-3 zones on different continents, so finding groups is a least a little bit easier.

I don't think it is a big stretch to assume that a similar thing will happen when the expansion hits. I expect barely any instance activity in the Old World as people will be even more focussed on reaching Outland as it will be the "home-stretch" before hitting 70 and being able to go to Northrend. I do think Outland will have some instance activity, though it will be less, as then the game will be starting at 70 when you can go to Northrend. So with the "real game" even further away how tempting will it be to level an alt from scratch? Particularly with Death Knights starting from level 55.

Me, I love levelling from 1 to 20. It is fast and you get to learn the basics of the class in forgiving surroundings. But I have lost count of the number of characters that I have got to 20 and then deleted as I couldn't face the 20-60 part. To me that section is purely a time sink. For various reasons I would not use a powerlevelling service or a bot - but I can completely see why people are tempted to do so. Some argue that if you don't play the character all the way yourself you won't learn how to play it properly but that's a load of rubbish. Levelling will not automatically gain you the knowledge of how to get the best out of your character. Even if there wasn't the upcoming introduction of a class starting at level 55 proving the point - how many times have you met a level 70 who didn't know how to play their class? Hmm?

Sure, Blizz has upped the XP gained for this part and lowered the XP needed per level, but 20-60 is still a huge slog. I notice that in beta they are dabbling with doing the same kind of thing for 60-70. Even doing barely any instances, I dinged 70 just having entered Netherstorm and I hadn't even set foot in Shadowmoon. Levelling in Outland felt very quick in comparison to 20-60, though I guess it might be different when you know that Outland is only something to get through to get to the fun bit - Northrend.

I firmly believe that alts are a very important part of what makes people stay with the game. If it becomes too hard to level an alt there will either be a surge of people using bots / powerlevelling services or people will leave. Surely it must be in Blizzard's interest to make it possible to speed things up. What if it was possible to pay Blizzard a sum of real money to get your character bumped some levels? A service, like the name change, that you can request from the online account management but with the proviso that you have at least 1 level capped characters on that same server. Or at least 2 level capped characters or level capped characters on the account rather than the server - depending on how stringent you wanted to make it. I'd pay for that (as long as the sum was reasonable). Say that once I hit level 20 I could request to be bumped to 60. Now, you are wondering why I picked 60 rather than 55 like the Death Knight starting point. Simply because you have already invested the time to get to level 20, but if I could only get a bump to 55 I wouldn't be complaining. Sure I'd have to go to the AH to get new gear, but that's fine by me. Once you have 1 or more level capped characters finding the funds for some random level 55/60 greens shouldn't really be an issue. Not sure how professions should work, but if they can figure out how to deal with that for the Death Knights, then this could work in a similar way.

One of the commenters on BBB's post was suggesting that you could make this kind of bump something you buy for in-game gold. I'm a bit torn about that. If the sum is something vaguely reasonable - say 500-1000 gold - then I'd be all for it. But if it was used as a money sink - 5000 gold or more - then I don't agree. If I have to spend ages grinding gold to be able to buy the service then I might as well spend my time levelling the char. You want the price to be big enough to not be trivial, but small enough that people will use it rather than powerlevelling services.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

I had a dream...

I had a dream that we would be able to clear Kara. I had a dream that come WotLK we would be able to enjoy the 10-man raids.

After weeks and weeks of struggling getting a second raid night going, I am now consigned to admit defeat. Our guild will never clear Kara before the expansion, which makes me very sad. We are a small, social guild and no one ever expected us to be able to do 25-mans - all I wished for was to be able to clear Kara. Not a big thing you might think, but you need more than 3 hours to do it (at least at our gear/experience level).

We always field a team on Tuesdays and sometimes we might even be oversubscribed by a whole person - one record week we even had 2 reserves. We have a few people that always sign up for our attempted 2nd raid night (we have tried pretty much every night of the week now), but we have never been close to filling it. With that in mind I can't see that we can recruit - the only person whom I can imagine being tempted by this state of affairs is exactly the person we wouldn't want. The person who will run with us on the parts of Kara we have on farm and get most of any suitable gear that drops as few of us have anything we want from in there by now - and then promptly leave for a guild that raids.

Have I thought about changing guilds? Of course I have - a million times and more. My problem is that most guilds that raid seem do so more than I would be able to. I would love to raid twice a week - and I might be able to do 3 times some weeks - but the minimum seems to be 4 times per week and that is not an option for me.

There is also the fact that the social side is important to me when I play. When I am not in a raid (or farming mats/gold) I like pottling about on one of my alts. If guild chat is mostly dead or people are not fun to be online with - then that would not work for me.

As you can probably tell I am feeling quite down about the whole thing. Just the thought of leaving my guild feels wrong, but after having tried for so long with no traction for raiding a bit more or getting the social side more active, I just don't know what to do.

Friday, 11 July 2008

I'm so excited...

Awesome news, my friends - is here!

It is a forum for all healers, read more about it at World of Matticus and ChickGM.

Why, you might ask, am I so excited about a generic healing forum? Wouldn't I rather have something like The answer is a resounding no! I owe all that I know about healing as a holy priest to the fabulous priest bloggers out there (thank you guys, you are amazing), I don't need a forum for that. It is easy to learn to be a good healer as a priest/druid/shaman/paladin through all the fabulous blogs out there, but what happens when you graduate from 5-mans to raids? Even if it is just 2-healering Kara you are no longer healer HolyPaladin and healer RestoShaman - you are the healing TEAM. You can smooth out each other's weaknesses, build on each other's strengths and together be a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. It can be a thing of beauty.

And this is the awesomeness of Not only can you find people to explain and debate specific class issues, but also people to debate the best way for a druid and a priest to heal together.

This is healers not divided by class, but joined by role - the concept of the healing team extending beyond servers, realms and continents to create a community of people passionate about the role that they enjoy.

Big thanks to the founders of - Matt, Auzara, Wynthea, Lume, Anna, Pat and Siha - for creating a place for healers to discuss their craft.

Haelz FTW!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Blog roll fun

I was just in the middle of updating my blog roll when I feel in love with Automagica's blog roll set-up. Not only does it space the names out and put little icons in front of those blogs that have one - it also gives the title of the latest post AND it tells you how long ago that post was made.

How awesome is that!!

I then realised that it is a new feature available on Blogger, so off I went to include it on my very own little page. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the inputting of all the blogs into the little widget, but was very excited about how lovely it would look once it was done.

So I added the widget and opened it up - and it asked me very politely if I would like to import any of my Google Reader blogs? Well - doh! So I could just go tick, tick, tick on all the blogs I subscribe to and whammo they were on my fabulous new blog widget.

This is so exciting! Makes me almost feel like a proper blogger... :-)