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... :-)

The choices we make

I am currently working my way through the archives over at Mana Battery Bitch, soaking up info that will help me as I level my shadowpriest. The other day I came across this post about how she'd come to choose the class/race combos of her characters.

It reminded me of an article I read somewhere with a very interesting theory on people's choices for their character's looks. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I read it. However, as far as I remember the theory says that people broadly fall into one out of two camps on this issue.

Camp 1 are people who view the character merely as a means of playing the game. They might not care what it looks like or make choices based on what they want to look at while playing.

Camp 2 views the character as a representation of themselves in the gameworld. These people are likely to either want to create a character that they can feel a connection to or that they feel represents them well to others in game.

Personally I am very firmly in camp 2. The character needs to feel right or I will never get into playing it. My husband on the other hand is more of a camp 1 person. He has been known to use the randomize function and two of his main characters are female. I've tried playing a male character a few times, but it just feels off - like a piece of clothing that's the wrong fit. And every time I play together with one of my husband's female characters it still feels weird.

This is the same reason that I have stuck with humans and night elves over dwarves and gnomes - the fit is somehow not right. I've yet to try to play a draenai seriously, but I must admit that the few times I've dabbled on Azuremyst Isle the tail thing was a bit freaky. Also, the legs bending the wrong way. And the run - they look very odd when they run - particularly with the tail.

Did I mention the tail?

Naming is the other thing that is very important to me when creating a character. I'll never understand how someone can find the will to level "Ipwnyou" or "Fruitfudge" to level 70.

I slightly unintentionally ended up with a bit of a theme for my characters. A couple of my first experimental characters ended up with Swedish girls names, the kind that I imagine have been around since the Viking times almost (with some artistic license on the spelling side) and it worked well so I stuck with it. Hence Yrsa, Tufva, Alfva. With my druid I tried for something different and went for Moonclaw, but in the end it got changed to Ylfva. Moonclaw just wasn't me.

I am considering creating a warlock and I already know what it will look like. Both my human priests have the same face, but with different hair. Tufva is holy so she has white hair and Alfva is shadow so she has black hair. I'm thinking a warlock should have long, swishy blonde hair - just because you dabble in the dark arts doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it. I'm still working on finding a good name for her, so it might be awhile before she appears.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Virtual vs Real

Warning: This is not directly on the topic of WoW, it's more generic I guess you could say. So if you decide to continue reading, don't say I didn't warn you.

There are still people that make a value distinction between online and Real Life (yes, usually in capitals). As someone who has been a member of a couple of online communities over the last 9 years or so, this view frustrates me, greatly.

A community is a grouping of individuals who have a common goal/interest. Way back when it would be the local village where the burning communal issues might be about who used the common land for grazing and how the local school was run. When towns and cities grew, you might not have that much in common with your neighbours, so you became part of a community that wasn't about the geography of where you lived, but about something else that made you feel a kinship. It could be religious beliefs, political alignment, a hobby you were passionate about. This was the start of sewing circles, charities, football clubs, local chapters of political parties. Communities that were based not on geography, but on a joint interest.

For a long time local clubs, societies, circles, chapters were the place to find like-minded people. You might be a member of several or maybe a very active member of just one. You might have sewing circle meetings two evenings a week and then you need to spend some extra time to create items for the circle's stall at the weekly local market. But that's fine because it is your hobby and you really enjoy sewing, not to mention that the other circle members are all great friends.
Or it might be awful because you're not really that keen on sewing, but in the small town were you live it is the only way of socialising.

Fast forward to the present time. With the rise of the internet, communities have gone from not being based on geography to transcending it entirely. Through the world that is cyberspace you can become part of virtual communities independently of where you live. It doesn't matter that you live in a small town where no one shares your passion for stamps - there is a whole world out there with lots of people that would love to talk to you about stamps.

Some online communities are transient, just as Real Life ones can be - but also like Real Life ones they can endure for years and be the basis for life-long friendships. And this is were the sticking point is. Many people seem to make a value judgement that says that online communities/friendships are not equal to face-to-face ones.

I have a suspicion that this has to do with certain stereotypes. You know the ones I mean. Adolescent, pimply hacker boys that spend every minute they can in a dark, dank basement desperately seeking virtual excitement through computer games that they cannot find in their Real Lives. The 30-something spinster/bachelor that is overweight/ugly/painfully shy/all of the above, lives on take-away food and uses the virtual world as an escape from the tedium that is their Real Life. How sad they are. Let us all with Real Lives join together to smugly pity them.

Sure, there might very well be people out there like those stereotypes, but they are the minority. Yes, that's right. There are millions of 'normal' (whatever that means) people out there whose lives are made richer by their involvement in virtual communities.

The value judgement that many people make that virtual = not having a Real Life annoys me, but I hope that as more people experience online communities/friendships the stereotypes will be seen for what they are. However, the thing that really makes me angry is when these people come online and behave like complete twunts because, "it's not Real, is it?". They completely overlook the fact that even though the place where they are meeting might be virtual, the people at the other end of all those internet connections are just as Real as they are. They have Real feelings that can be hurt when someone behaves badly towards them. They have a Real Life that can be affected when you don't turn up for a scheduled group activity.

I'm sure there are people that use the anonymity of virtual worlds to pretend to be something they are not for their own twisted pleasure. They are, however, the exception. Mostly, it seems to me, people show their Real Selves when online. In most cases this is not so very different from what they are like in face-to-face interactions. By and large they are decent people, though of course, they will have their foibles and quirks. Sometimes you will meet people for whom virtual communities actually help them be more like the person they want to be. They become less shy and dare show more of their personalities, a bit like butterflies emerging. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

Then you have those people that behave the way they would like to behave normally but do not dare because of the very real impact it would have on them. People that would never behave badly when they are face-to-face with someone, become selfish and/or abusive when online. This is what they would behave like in their Real Life, if they weren't bound by the possible consequences. Start shouting at someone on the street - you might get punched in the nose. Try to steal from work - you might get fired. These are usually the same ones that use the excuse "it's not Real Life", if someone challenges their boorish behaviour.

The virtual world is no Utopia, but neither is it merely a haven for social outcasts. In the end it is just another facet of the Real World.

Friday, 20 June 2008

The lure of the Dark Side

Yes, I did it. After levelling the whole way from 1 to 70 without ever putting a single point into the shadow tree, I succumbed and re-specced shadow for the evening.

Tufva was always meant to be a heal priest, so that was how I levelled her. I really enjoy being a heal priest, despite it sometimes being quite a stressful role. I've never had any wish to spec her in shadow at all.

Then last night happened. We were nowhere near getting the numbers for Karazhan, so we decided to hit a heroic instead. The priest that was supposed to have healed alongside me in Kara desperately wanted to do Heroic Botanica. He needed just a little more reputation to be able to buy the +81 healing weapon enchant, which would benefit all the healers in the guild as no one else has it.

We have several people in the guild that have more than one 70, there's even a couple that have the triumvirate of tank, healer and DPS. However, unusually, what we were lacking yesterday was a DPS. I only have one other 70, a hunter, which was retired when it hit the level cap, so has neither the reputation to buy heroic keys nor a flying mount. I explained that I was happy letting the others go without me, when someone suggested I respec to shadow for the evening.

After having spent the day levelling my shadowpriest together with someone else, I found myself quite excited about the prospect of seeing what it could be like DPS-ing as a shadowpriest at the top level. Of course, my gear would let me down horribly as I don't have any off-spec damage gear to swap in, but I was looking forward to the outing with excitement nonetheless. A quick visit to the priest trainer and some scrounging for damage elixirs, oils and buff food and I was ready to roll.

The run was as smooth as a baby's bottom, we got through Botanica in 1h30 and if it hadn't been for the Badges of Justice we would have thought we'd done it on normal. Admittedly, the group was very well geared as well as skilled, which helped a lot. I had great fun DPS-ing, it was a very relaxing experience compared to healing, so it has really given me a huge incentive to level my shadowpriest as fast as possible. With my heal gear, I managed to output around 500dps, which makes me think that I could quite easily achieve credible DPS when my shadowpriest gets its Frozen Shadoweave set.

So it was a good evening, great fun was had by all, but it did feel somehow wrong to see Tufva in shadowform and she will be speccing back to holy. However, I am very much looking forward to having both a heal priest and a DPS priest to play with.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Healing as a team

I've had another revelation. The fun - and success - that can be had from healing as a team rather than as individuals.

Going from healing 5-mans to 10-man did require some co-ordination but not a huge amount and not at a very detailed level. We were allocated a tank each and played whack-a-mole with the rest of the raid. Apart from agreeing to try to always keep HoTs on both tanks we pretty much left each other to it. Of course, if you see that the other healer's tank is in trouble and you have the spare capacity - you help out, that goes without saying, I hope.

For certain fights, like Curator, we changed the healing assigments slightly (one healer for tank and bolt-soaker, one healer for all others), but again each healer did their own thing to fulfill their healing assignment. I'm not saying that one should have to tell each healer exactly what spells to use and micro-manage them, but what I did find was how much it can increase your success by discussing the tactics with the other healer and agreeing on how to pool your resources in the best way.

I was healing together with my husband's new alt, a holy priest, and as we sit next to each other we can easily chat about the healing side of things without having to go via in-game voice-chat. We both use Grid with the ability to see incoming heals and tracking each other's HoTs, and that in combination with direct communication just made it so much easier. It was also more enjoyable when you felt more as part of a little sub-team rather than two players with the same role in the larger team.

I doubt it made a huge difference to the outcome of most of the fights, but when we came across Prince it made ALL the difference. It was our first try ever on Prince and since it had been a spontaneous on-the-fly decision to give it a go, most of us didn't know the fight at all - though luckily some people had done it with other chars in other guilds. We managed two credible attempts, but on the first one both healers ran out of mana far too soon and on the second we had an unfortunate encounter with an infernal.

For the third attempt me and my co-healer discussed how we had healed previously and agreed on a specific rotation of flash and greater heals to help our combined mana pool to last longer. There was also a couple of shout-outs to each other in the fight "I've got this for a bit, you stand idle for a short while and regen". And we managed to stay the course, keeping the tank AND the rest of the raid up throughout the encounter. That was such a buzzy feeling - we got the job done and we did it as a team!

I am convinced that this tactical chat before the 3rd encounter made a big difference as we then went in focussing not just on our own mana pools, but how to best keep our joint pool up enough to last the encounter. It almost made me want to do 25-mans, just for the buzz of being part of a proper-sized heal team. :-)

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Goodnight sweet Prince

And Prince is down!! On Tuesday night we had our first Prince kill - it was such a buzz. Now I know that for most guilds Kara is very old news, but for us this is huge.

First week of December 2007 was when we first set foot in Kara. We had a grand total of 10 raiders, all freshly attuned with gear so new it squeaked when we moved. Our guild never raided pre-TBC and never even had organised runs until a group of us decided that we wanted to try Kara and set up regular runs for gear and attunement.

Since that first visit we've had some downs. Half the original core group left for raiding guilds or retired from the game. We have still not been able to get a second raid night off the ground. But we've had ups as well. We've found some fab new raiders and we've managed to improve enough to fit more and more into our 3 hours of raiding per week.

First it seemed that we'd never be able to have time for proper tries on Curator, then that we'd never have time to get beyond him. Now I think it is safe to say that we have everything up to and including Curator on farm. We've downed Illhoof on all evenings we've tried, except for once. Aran unfortunately still eludes us, we've only tried him a couple of times, and then never with great success.

On Tuesday we went straight from Curator to Chess as we were running out of time (we had a couple of early wipes due to carelessness). When we finished Chess someone suggested giving Prince a try as he is so close after Chess. There was a unanimous decision to extend the raid time to give it a go. Everyone was super-excited to try something completely new. With good use of soulstones and self-rez we didn't have to worry about respawns and had two very good tries. Third time it all came together and Prince went down. I was so proud of everyone!!

Oh, and did I mention that I got my grubby little hands on Light's Justice? Yay! Though admittedly I only got it as the other healer who out-rolled me, graciously allowed me to have it as he had got Shard of the Virtuous the week before.

I'm now officially Kara-ed out loot-wise, not sure whether to be happy or sad about that.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Adventuring as a pew pew priest

Doing DPS is much easier and less stressful than healing, right? Right?

That was my assumption when rolling a shadowpriest to complement my holy priest. I had visions of lazily running around instances tossing out shadowy spells - I mean, how hard can it be?

The other evening a guildie asked if I wanted to join a group for Maraudon. Instantly my instance-phobia came back full force. I'd managed to get to level 47 without ever doing an instance, preferring to blast through to 60 as quickly as possible thanks to Jame's guides. Never having been in an instance in a DPS-role, I felt it might be a tad late to confess to this at such a late level. I had visions of pulling aggro and wiping the group over and over because of not being used to having to pay attention to Omen. When I am in a group healing I have Omen running in a corner of my screen, but I barely ever look at it. When you are the only healer or one out of two (the only things I have experience of), most of the time you cannot stop healing just to let your threat go down.

Now normally I reply to instance requests stating that I am a DPS priest and as most people are actually after a healer they
will recant the invite at that point. Yes, I know that shadowpriests can heal perfectly well at this kind of level, but the point is that I don't want to - I want to experience the other side. Of course, that's not to say that I wouldn't pop out of shadowform if a group's healer bites the dust - no point being a hybrid/off-spec/whatever the correct term is if you're not willing to utilise it.

So anyway, this guildie asked me to come along and wasn't put off at all about me not wanting to heal - apparently there was another shadowpriest in the group that was happy to heal. I decided I might as well take the plunge and try my hand at DPS-ing sooner rather than later, so I accepted and jumped on a gryphon to Desolace.

In the end though, I think it is safe to say that I needn't have worried about appearing a complete noob for not having any DPS experience. The whole thing was a complete shambles from start to finish.

I will not dwell on the mage that didn't buff other group members nor the tank that did not have a threat-meter nor the complete lack of communication and common sense. In spite of all this, my main regret is that from this experience I can't really judge what it would be like to be out there DPS-ing in a real group or whether I'd be any good at it.

I would quite like to dwell at length on the short-comings of the other priest who was supposed to heal (healing does not mean standing around until people have only a sliver of health left and then bubble them... *sigh*), but I am not going to. As much as I would love to vent my rage at his ineptness causing wipe after wipe, I should have had a word with him about it at the time rather than bottling it up and releasing it on the innocent public. Lesson learned for next time - do not assume that everyone knows better than you and couldn't benefit from constructive criticism.

However, the main lesson I learnt from this (mis)adventure was that it might turn out that NOT being the healer is more stressful than being the healer. At least when I heal I'm not worrying about the tank's health as well as my own damage output. As I saw people's health go down and down my fingers were twitching, wanting to zoom over to Grid and put a Renew on, maybe just a teeny Flash Heal while I was at it? "Put down that Prayer of Mending and step away, madam. Nobody likes a back seat healer."

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Adolescent Guild

The guild that I joined a long, long time ago as a very new and green WoW player is a-changing.

A few months ago our founder and original GM decided to retire from the role. He had started the guild to be a home for people that wanted some fun banter in gchat while levelling and maybe group up sometimes when it took someone's fancy. All very casual, relaxed and small scale. These days we usually sit at around 60-odd accounts, but as most of the active members as also alt-a-holics, we tend to have about 150-odd characters in the guild. So not large, but big enough to create a need for a bit of organisation, which our GM did not have the time for. So he handed over the mantle to one of the long-term officers, who I think would have done a great job, but he then ran in to RL stuff and had to leave the game. None of the other officers were quite ready to take on the responsibility of GM-ship, so we decided to institute a council to run the guild.

So now we have a guild on our hands and we need to figure out what it should be when it grows up.

We have many members, but few are active in the guild. They have been in the guild for a long time, but you never hear them on gchat, not even to say 'Hi!' when they log on - and heaven forbid that they should ever post on the guild forum. So even if put ideas and proposals for the guild's future on the forum I doubt we'd hear back from more than the handful of people that we normally hear from on the forum.

We know that we will never be a full-on raiding guild and we are happy with that. Kara is on farm up to and including Curator and we are trying to find a second raid night so that we can progress further. The guild does not have enough people interested in raiding to do 25-mans and that is ok. Members who have decided that they want to raid more have departed to raiding guilds and every so often we've welcomed them back again when they decided it wasn't what they wanted. I have seen in quite a few places the comment of that "you don't have to like them to raid with them". And for a proper raiding guild I can absolutely see that - well, up to a point anyway. I'm sure most raiding guilds won't put up with people behaving as complete twunts towards other members, no matter how good their DPS is - but for a guild that has in the past mostly had a social focus it is important that people get on and enjoy hanging out together in gchat.

So we're not a raiding guild, more of a social guild. But what do we mean by social? Do we just want to liven up gchat? Do we need to arrange in-game entertainment like naked Deadmines? Set up a schedule for instance runs to get people doing more stuff as a guild?

Most of all I wonder whether we need to do something about all those members we have that are not active at all? What can we do to make them participate? And if they do not want to participate - should they still be in the guild? It's not like they are doing any harm being in the guild per se, but it seems a bit pointless. If we weeded our membership would that create a bit of a shock-wave making some other people leave or would it maybe make it feel closer and encourage more togetherness?

All questions and no answers at the moment, but I hope to be able to start finding answers as we move along our learning curve on guild management.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

10-man raids in WotLK

I am outraged! How can people be this petty?

In the news that have been coming out about what WotLK will have in store for us, there was the fabulous piece of news that all raid instances will have both a 10-man version and a 25-man version. To the guild I'm in this is the most amazing news ever.

We are a small, social guild with an even smaller group of people that are interested in raiding. We few, we happy few, learnt the principles of raiding together. We farmed for mats and ground for gold to gear up to Karazhan. We ran instances over and over for drops and attunements until finally the day dawned when we took our very first step into Kara.

Nothing can beat the feeling of that evening. We one-shot Attumen, spent 4 frustrating attempts on Moroes until we found a strategy that worked for us and ended the evening triumphantly having achieved the goal we had set ourselves. This with a guild that had never even done normal instances regularly before.

For most of us the joy of raiding comes from doing it together with these the friends that we have met in game (and many of them IRL now). We would love to be able to progress beyond Kara (once we've finished it), but realistically we are highly unlikely to ever field a 25-man team. Some weeks we can barely get a Kara run going that's how few people we have in our raiding group. Yes, I know that there are options. We could move to another guild, recruit or look for an alliance. But why should we have to? Just because we are small, we don't deserve to be able to raid?

The 10 and 25-mans will be separate progressions, so no more going through a 10-man to get to the 25-mans. The 25-mans will have much better loot. The fights in 25-mans will (one has to assume) be much more complex, challenging and ultimately more satisfying to conquer. So how can anyone possibly claim that giving small guilds the possibility of raiding takes anything away from the big 25-man raiding guilds? The big guilds get the big rewards both in the sense of loot and being able to experience the absolute top level content.

Saying that the availability of 10-mans will mean that noone will be interested in doing the 25-mans is utterly ridiculous. I cannot for one second imagine that raiding guilds would be interested in anything but the top level content. Their whole reason for raiding is to systematically defeat all the raid bosses in the game. I really cannot see them romping through the 10-man versions and declare themselves done when harder versions are still there to be conquered.

I think it is high time that some people out there stopped being so selfish about raiding. Having small raids and big raids takes away nothing of the achievement for those that conquer the big ones, but merely allows a larger amount of people to grasp why that achievement is so awesome by having experienced the smaller version. ;-)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Blog Azeroth

Just came across Blog Azeroth's introduction page and there were so many interesting looking blogs, I just had to note down all the ones that I want to have a look at later. :-)

I've only managed some of the pages and look how many interesting looking ones there was!!
Warcraft and Other Hooha

Balance druid blogs

Being in the middle of levelling a little boomkin, I wanted to read lots of nice blogs about how to be the very best little boomkin I can - the way I learnt so much about healing from reading Ego Priest and Matticus amongst other fab priest bloggers. But many of the ones I could find seemed to be either by now-retired bloggers or they haven't been updated for a month or more. Now that I know that knowledge is power I crave it - whereever shall I get my boomkin fix??

Of course there is also the fact that I thoroughly enjoy Ego and Matticus' writing style and that I early on decided that I trusted that they knew what they were talking about. I guess I shall have to trawl through the archives on what I have found and try to find some boomkin equivalents - unless Ego and Matticus could be persuaded to level up a boomkin each and write about it? Hmmm...

Blogs found so far:
Laser Chicken - current
Gray Matter - current
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Moonkin - last updated Feb 2, 2008
Balance of Power - moved to other blog

The search continues...

The epiphany

Tufva was started as I had gotten bored with my original main and I had the bright idea that it would be good for the guild to have another healer (at the time we had 1 or 2). At the time I was terrified of instances, so I'm still not sure how I thought that was a good idea. I must have over-dosed on chocolate or something.

I healed groups a couple of times while levelling, but it was hard work, so if anything it had made my instance phobia even worse. Just the thought of it made my palms sweat!

One day I was chatting with a guildie who was also levelling a healy priest alt. He'd instanced a lot as he was levelling his priest and he introduced me to my first piece of the puzzle of that is healing: healing tactics. The tactic he explained to me was that as a healer you sometimes have to let someone die in order to keep someone else alive. Usually in 5-mans this translates into keeping the tank up at the expense of a DPS (who really shouldn't be taking much damage anyway).

Wow - what an epiphany! This one piece of advice changed the way I healed completely - and the results were great. Not only was my healing much better for it but the feeling of actually having a (albeit small one) clue about what I was doing did wonders for my confidence and made me actually start enjoying the whole instance experience. That little nugget of wisdom was the start of the journey that has taken me from instance-phobic palm-sweating 'oh-shit-what-am-I-doing' to thoroughly enjoying healing my guild's romps through Kara. Knowledge is power - and makes instances great fun!