Monthly Archives: March 2010

Wednesday Linking Love

So I’ve been doing some thinking about my lovable Holy paladin since I wrote the last post. I’m contemplating some radical things. Well, not really. First of all, I took Lara’s most excellent advice. I’d been meaning to put gems in the (leather, sigh) gloves that I’d nabbed from Underbog, but I was planning on Northrend green gems. Meantime, I have no less than eleventy-billion Autumn’s Glow in my alt bank – why not use two to twink out my gear a little? Same with the Intellect enchant on my shield. It was 12 Infinite Dust… It’s really not that big a deal. So I gained a good chunk of Int there. (You know you’re a twink when the base stats of your shield are 11 intellect – and you enchant it to have twenty-five more). That should help somewhat with my mana issues.

But another thing I’m thinking of doing is just not using Beacon that much. I’ll admit it here freely. I didn’t even look at the mana cost (duh). 35% of my base mana? That’s huge. I know for a holy pally at end-game swimming in Int that wouldn’t be a big deal – plus there’s things like Divine Plea that I don’t have yet. Just because it heals two people at once, so what? Isn’t much of that going to overheal? So I’m going to try that strategy for five-mans for now, or even consider Beaconing myself at times. I know, it’s not the ‘right’ way to do it and everything holy paladin I’ve read is all “Beacon tanks don’t be that noob,” but do they mean in a raid? Sure, you go into a raid and you’re a paladin so you beacon one tank and heal the heck out of the other, but in a five man at my level? I’m not sure. I belatedly found Ferraro’s leveling as holy guide and how to healing five mans but the second one draws on talents and abilities I don’t yet have. So I’m just going to muddle my way through and see how that goes for the time being.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is related to this article by Matticus I read when it was published, almost a year ago. You know a blog post is a good one when you remember and go back searching for it, deliberately! It’s called The Secret to Being A World Class Healer, and I remember it because it’s part of the reason I’m pugging like I do. This is related to what I was saying in my last post about making myself available to a series of stupid pugs, battleground healing, whatever. I know of no better way to learn how to play as a healer than to just heal, heal, heal. I’ve always got room for improvement. Although the article is healing specific, you could apply it to any class or role. You want to tank? You can practice tanking even if you’re just leveling with a friend! When I was leveling a warrior, I leveled for a time with my husband’s DK and he was so annoying. He spent the whole time deliberately trying to pull aggro from me, even when we were just out questing (not using taunts or anything, but just pushing as much as he could). He forced me to become familiar with my tanking tools and we’d pull huge packs of mobs – Thunderclap and Shockwave were my friends! Consequently, the first time I stepped into an instance to tank it, I wasn’t completely green. I was pretty green, but I knew my tools.

The best tanks I know are the ones who just really love it. They’ll take any opportunity to tank an instance and it’s not because it makes for a faster queue time, it’s what they truly enjoy. Obviously, I don’t always enjoy the pugs I do. (Matticus laments that there is no ‘healing dummy,’ like there is for DPS, but… oh, do I have to say it? There are SOME dummies anyhow, they just aren’t stationary). The fact is though, I enjoy my pugs more often than not.

Since my last post, I’ve successfully completed Blood Furnace. I was all excited because the bear tank was so good, and I looked at his HP and said, “You have four thousand more HP than any other tank I’ve healed!” He laughed… He was level 66. I don’t know how he wound up tanking a Blood Furnace run, but I was glad that he did.

The Ramparts run I did after that saw me again being the element of fail, well, sort of. I always have a hard time finding the right entrance in the maze of Hellfire Citadel instances. I’m afraid I kept my group waiting during a corpse run. I was starting to get frustrated and said that I’d understand if they just wanted to ditch me and find a healer with a sense of direction, but the whole group was super nice. The DK tank had been very up-front at the beginning about how he’d never tanked before and we’d had a bit of back and forth. One group member remarked as we came to the first boss, “We should have been done by now,” and I told him I’d rather have a slow, calm Ramparts run than rush through and have a frustrating wipe-fest. And also, that it was the tank’s first time, so give him a break. The guy chilled out, and we finished the instance. Sure, it took longer than many others. Yes, we even wiped. Do I remember the cause of our wipe? No, I don’t. I remember that the group agreed to do it at a pace that would work for the new tank. I told the tank to just be conservative with his pulls, pull carefully, and we’d be fine. And we were!

Since then I’ve gone to Slave Pens and Underbog. Slave Pens had a druid tank who was extremely excited about Frenzied Regeneration. She kept saying, “Do you like that I’m healing myself and helping you out?!” Yes, Bear Butt, I certainly do. I was confused at first because I thought she meant she was dropping bear form and actually healing herself, but she wasn’t. She was just really happy about being a bear. It’s hard not to have fun when someone else is so clearly enjoying themselves! Also, stupid fearing mobs at the end of this instance can go and die in a fire. That’s it for Slave Pens.

As for Underbog, we had yet another struggling DK tank and a rotating roster of DPS that would either leave or be vote-kicked. The hunter was kicked because he kept pulling for the tank (I think, I voted “I’m going to stare at this box indecisively for a long moment because no reason for kicking was entered). A mage joined and said after one pull, “Ah, I see that the tank is very bad. Good-bye,” and left. The tank was greatly offended by this, incidentally, and spent the rest of the instance trying to prove how Un-Bad she really was. Which was actually good, as it meant that we made it through the Nightmare Hallway of Crowded Naga and Broken Doom relatively unscathed. I’m afraid we had a sacrificial warlock, though. And this ‘lock, she wasn’t doing it to herself. I couldn’t blame her at all. She just… made a lot of threat, and the tank did not. I made it a point to guard her carefully after her first two deaths, tossing her Salv when it was off cool-down and being ready with a quick “Save my warlock” CD when necessary. Once I focused on it she didn’t die again, so I was proud of that. See, I’m learning!

I don’t do linking love often enough and I really should, so this post is also about that. I’ll try to do it more often… perhaps on Wednesdays!

Here’s another great Matticus article I found when I was looking for the other one: 11 Reasons Guildmasters Fail. Obviously there are more reasons outside of the guild master why a guild might tank, but this one is aimed at GMs personally. It’s got some good points to consider, as always.

In a similar vein (aimed at keeping your raid healthy and happy!) I really liked what Natarumah over at Twisted Faith wrote about  Wipe Nights and Sustaining Your Raid. Breaks, people, it’s not that hard! Ultimately I believe you have better attempts after taking five minutes to stretch your legs and step away from things than pushing through and wiping interminably. It took our guild 121 wipes before we downed Mimiron’s hard-mode (back when our gear was equivalent to the encounter) and even the other day we went in with a number of new people to do it again and wiped a few times. It’s not easy. We had 70 LK wipes before a kill, and we took a break shortly before that kill.

A conversation from one of our wipe nights on LK:

RL: “OK guys, we’ve got time for one more really good attempt tonight so let’s make this one count”

Raider: “Or two or three really sh**** ones.”

RL: “You know what I mean!”

Other Raider: “I loled”

Raider: “Well it’s true!”

I also liked what Reversion over at LFM had to say about  Tanking 101: Leadership. I know very well the difference a good tank can make to how smoothly a run goes, and a lot of it is due to leadership. The “Dungeon Guide” can be anyone in the group, but it’s the tank who sets the pace, decides if they are going to pay attention to the healer’s mana or not, and can make a run very fun or very frustrating. I know, no pressure.

Spinks at Spinksville (How did I never know Spinks before now?) has some great points regarding How to Switch to Being More Casual. It’s an excellent post not just for people looking to switch to more casual, but also utilizing your game time and keeping it in perspective. I think so, anyhow!

Leafie has recently been through the classic instances, and she’s got quick reviews of each. Find ‘em here at  Classic Instance Nutshell Reviews. I might have to follow her example and do something similar sometime!

Dristanel at Physician’s Log talks about the  Top Ten Things Paladins Can Do (In Bed). I play a Paladin now, folks, and it’s all true, oh yeah. You want some more Beacon? I’m not surprised. But I am quite sleepy. (p.s. both of these links are probably not safe for work).

In Other News, Fire Is Still Hot

*ETA: In order to give credit where its due, I think I saw this comic by Noxychu quite awhile ago and absorbed the message as A Funny Thing, thus using it as part of this entry’s title. But the original credit for being funny is hers!

I suppose I have to chronicle Hellfire in a more detailed way before I’ve blissfully forgotten it forever. Probably some of the quotes from the previous entry could do with some context as well. Let’s do this fast and dirty, just like a Ramparts run!

1. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which a DK is polite

We had a DK tank. He or she was polite, and that’s all I noted about the run. I suppose it’s bad that this is noteworthy? I should say, that any criticism of death knights at this level by no means is meant as a slam against people who play DKs at 80. I have known and enjoyed the company and skills of folks who’ve chosen to make this relatively new class their “main” characters, and most people in my guild have DK alts. I have a DK alt, but I made her to have a bank alt on my new server with initial bagspace, gold, and the ability to sprint around Azeroth mining for me. So she doesn’t count.

I should also note that when I am out doing aforementioned mining, it takes me a good amount of time to kill level 30 slimes because I have no idea what I am doing. If I were to ever actually level her, I have no doubt I’d be the failingest fail-ey DK of them all. Or I’d come to someone who knew better and get help. But I wouldn’t sign myself up to tank, that’s for sure.

2. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which Vid discovers Bacon

I think I’m starting to get the hang of it now, but when I first learned Beacon it was really strange to me. I had to set up my Vuhdo to readily show when Beacon dropped off the tank (BAD) and get used to healing other people instead of the tank. People who might not necessarily need healing. But when any AoE damage or other incidental damage was going out, I was ON THAT HEALING IT LOOK I’M HEALING TWO PEOPLE AT ONCE I AM AWESOME. And then the hunter got mad at me.

“Stop healing me!” he said. I could have sworn he’d taken damage. I was happy for the damage he’d taken. It gave me an excuse to heal the tank by proxy.

“??” I replied.

“Yeah, he can feign death,” the DK tank said. I got what they were saying. Don’t heal him because he doesn’t need healing because he can do his “I’m a dead hunter” trick. However.

“Yes, and I can heal the beaconed tank by healing someone else,” I told them both. “I’m glad we had this rundown of each others’ class abilities.”

“Oh,” they both loled. “I thought you were a shaman.”

Vid is going to hit 80 and be Retribution for weeks just for spite, I swear. She’ll be hitting things in the face with something large and sharp and growling between gritted teeth, “HOW DO YOU LIKE THE ‘SHAMAN’ NOW, HUH?”

3. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which Vid Laments Her Lack of Mana

The only thing I wrote to remember this instance was “MANA OMG.” Yes, my handwriting has a caps lock, too. I really, really was struggling for mana during these instances, especially the earlier ones, and it was stressing me the heck out. I started doing some Hellfire quests just to get a few upgrades, including a shield, a ring, pants, etc. I am still seeming to have trouble with mana though – I really don’t know what I am doing wrong. I’ve been using Divine Illumination whenever I can. I’m doing the Bacon thing which should be like double healing, right? And yet I’m gasping along behind. This wasn’t a problem with the level 50+ instances. Is it just that the DKs are taking much more damage? Is it their tanking? My healing? I’m just not sure. And someone else in this Ramps run thought I was a shaman, too. About 3/4 of the way through the instance they exclaimed, “Hey guys, I just noticed our healer is a paladin!”

Maybe it’s because I’ve played all the healing classes, but I’m quite attuned to the sound of different classes. DK tanks have that weird blood boil sound. Shaman healing sounds kind of like bells and occasionally grows flowers, also it is green. Paladin healing is bright and ‘Light’-ey, and Beacon makes that very distinctive… um… Well, is it a sound like bacon, perhaps? “Shhhhhhzzzap!” Yes? Apparently by the number of people who mistake me for a shaman, not everyone is paying attention to these things. Also, I built myself a roflcopter. I am happy.

What do you mean, it pollutes? I use diesel!

4. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which a DK is Mourned

I need to take better notes. All I wrote here was “Tank death (DK) ??” Wait, I get what I was saying. My tank died and I let it happen. I don’t know if they are just pulling too much or what, but I was feeling pretty down by this point. I couldn’t keep my mana up, people were dying, and the run was full of that silently accusatory, “Look, we pulled a bad healer” vibe. I started to feel like a fraud. Who am I writing about a holy paladin when I clearly don’t know what I’m doing, at all? But I forced myself to keep going. Even if it was just Beacon growing pains, I wouldn’t get better at it if I didn’t keep doing it.

5. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which There Is A Tank That Is Not A DK

This run had a warrior tank I chatted with briefly. First, I’m sorry again to the DKs, but I was cautiously hopeful when I saw that she/he was a warrior. This is a complete bias on my part. My husband plays a warrior. I just like them. They aren’t always good (and I’ve documented this fact here) but at least in this case it was something different. The warrior tank was pretty good. A bit of overzealous pulling but nobody died. She won style points at one juncture because she turned to one of the DPS DKs and said, “Hey, if you want to Death Grip that on over to yourself, you’re welcome to keep on tanking it.”

I laughed and whispered to her that I was glad she was tanking. She told me that the thing with many DKs is that it’s the first time they’ve tried tanking and so they often just don’t have the faintest idea what they’re doing. I can confirm this to be largely true.

6. Hellfire Ramparts – In Which Something Is Burning

This time we had a paladin tank. I like this because it means more blessings to go around. In general the run went pretty smoothly, with the usual buffoonery. First of all, I suppose if you want to name yourself “Crotch that is on fire,” you should probably spell it correctly. Secondly, why would you name yourself that? I can never bring myself to ask. But, “Firecroch” was the mage’s name.

However. You know during the Vazruden fight – the dragon is flying around above, breathing fire on everyone? The fire hits the ground in a splash and then it stays there. If you also stay there, well, it does a strange thing.

Sort of a burning thing.

So when I see Firecroch taking damage, I look over. Sure enough, Firecroch the mage is standing smack in the middle of the flaming death.

She’s still casting. She’s not moving.

Having initially tossed her a heal, my thought process went something like this (condensed over 1.5 seconds): “Hmm, if I heal her, it heals the tank anyway. But… she’s standing in the fire. And her name is Firecroch. And so if she died because she stood in the fire, wouldn’t that be funny and ironic? Plus it will teach her not to stand in fire. No it won’t, but it will still be funny and ironic.”

[Firecroch has died.]

7. Blood Furnace – In Which Chaos Ensues

This run, if I had let it, might have killed my pugging career all on its own. It had everything. A tank pulling ridiculously fast and not waiting for me to drink (a paladin, for what it’s worth, just to prove I don’t slander DKs exclusively). It also had: “Flossyourass,” a rogue, “Massmurder,” a balance druid, and “Criticalsnot,” a melee hunter.

There was a bit of a power struggle going on, because Criticalsnot seemed to feel that he should be the one pulling things. The tank, however, disagreed. This run did involve a wipe, too. The tank charged into a room full of red orcs, and as he was running he was throwing his shield at yet more orcs – and then he ducked behind a crack in the wall. Keep in mind, I’m about 20 yards back (having been drinking) and running to try to catch up. He died, horribly, and nobody said a word. During the run back, still nobody said anything. I started and stopped a few times, but I usually find it’s best not to say anything when I’m that angry.

It goes something like, “If you’d like us all not to die horribly–” [delete, delete], “For next time, it’d be nice if you could not break LoS so I can heal your stupid a–“… [delete, delete].

We got back to the room that had wiped us. The tank went in, and… pulled one group. He waited until it was dead, and THEN pulled the next group. Much better.

Until we get to the room with the giant head behind bars. There’s a number of trash packs in the room, that have to be systematically killed. Then you pull the lever, which releases one room of imprisoned orcs at a time. Then at the end, you engage the boss.

Not so, with this group. It went something more like:

- We kill most of the trash, but the two packs at the back of the room are still there. I’m drinking.

- Criticalsnot, the melee hunter, first PULLS THE LEVER, and then charges in to facepull these two packs of mobs. Deliberately.

- I let him die. (I don’t have guilt about this anymore.)

- Because none of us engaged those mobs or healed him, they don’t aggro immediately on us. The tank has time to pick up the first pack of orcs that are now rushing towards us, I have barely any mana. We manage to kill the leftover trash too. While this is all going on, he whispers me. “Rez me plz”

- I ignore him, because 1) I’m healing the gong show caused by his shenanigans, 2) First I’m a shaman, now I look like a druid? I can’t rez in combat any way. But I resolve that even when the whole thing is over, if we come out alive, I won’t rez him.

- Amazingly, we all live. He’s still dead on the floor, now sounding off in party chat. “Rez me, rez me.”

- Earning himself many points in my book, the tank says, “Why should we rez you? WTF is wrong with you?”

- I second the notion, but the druid is rezzing the guy for whatever reason. I initiate a vote to kick him as soon as I can, but miraculously it doesn’t pass, and then the tank leaves the group. I follow suit, very happy to wash my hands of the lot of them.

I have done some more pugging since then, but that’s all that I have the energy to detail here for the time being. As Vid is now level 63, I’m starting to get Underbog and Slave Pens runs, and I hadn’t yet set foot in Zangarmarsh at all. There are a few truths I’m now coming to realize.

If I can make it through the next ten levels of pugging, I can survive anything. When I first dabbled in healing, it was with my then level-70 priest. Our guild had almost no healers and somebody had to do it. I began leveling her to 80 (this was before any such LFD thing) making myself as available to pugs as possible. I healed a ton of pugs as I leveled, even though it was scary. I wanted them to be bad, and hectic, because I knew it was the best way to learn how to heal. Questing wouldn’t teach me that. Now I don’t need to learn how to heal, but I am learning how to heal as a holy paladin and it’s a work in progress. I really don’t think I was very good when I first got Beacon. It feels counter-intuitive to me to heal a target other than the one taking the most damage. I may still be doing it wrong and generally sucking, but I will improve (I hope). When a DK facepulls a room full of orcs that fear, it’s a challenge to me to pull it off in the face of great stupidity adversity. And that’s pretty fun.

The second truth is that these levels will go fast. I’m going to do quests that offer good rewards (in particular things like Librams and Trinkets that aren’t easily obtainable otherwise, although apparently Blood Furnace has a potential Libram for me!). Even with just a bit of questing I was half of the way to 64 in no time. I wasn’t trying to get so much XP, but I wanted a Libram! So Vid will probably rip through and be in Northrend in very short order.

Also, spellpower plate in Burning Crusade is oddly itemized. “Yay, spellpower plate! …Um, OK, I suppose I’ll take some strength with that, too. Why not?”

Finally, this is unrelated to pugging, and is shameless plugging on my part, but my husband asked me so plaintively, “Are you going to write about The Lich King?”

So yes, yes I am.

My strict ten-person raiding guild did this last night:

He's not so scary when he's got the gaping-mouth "I'm dead" thing going on.

And it was awesome. We’d been seeing steady progress since first attempting the fight, and we’ve had some staff turnover (almost an entirely new healing staff, come to think of it). So I’m immensely pleased and excited to start ICC hard modes next week, and to have such a great group of people to do this content with. We’re looking for one more DPS, by the way. If you are or know anyone who’s searching!

Finally, to whoever came here via searching for scarlet monastery +pornography, you won’t find that here!

OK no, really, finally, to the other person who searched the well dressed level 80 prot paladin – let’s be friends. We’ll have a fashion show. As soon as I can lose these lousy wiener fork shoulders.

Vid does Hellfire

Today I ran Hellfire Ramparts seven times, and The Blood Furnace twice. I have met the DKs, people, and this is all I have to say about the matter.

Worth at least 1000.

I’m single-handedly healing every DK that ever thought “hero” class sounded like an awesome idea. They have names like Massmurder, Criticalsnot (I wish I were joking, although that one was a hunter), and Firecroch (sic). I’m sure I’ll have more to say about them later, but for now this about sums up my experience. Those are all quotes. I cannot tell a lie.

Incredible Heights and Depths

The thing is, I’d run Blackrock Spire so many times on my various level eighty characters. Farmed it, even, if you will. Of all the instances out there, it is one where I know pretty well how to get through – at least the Upper part. Kill the rooms of channeling orcs, open the door, head through the trash to the Rookery, up the ramp on the right – through the room with the mini-boss rare spawns, jump down off the balcony to end up fighting Rend, which opens the door where you can run through to The Beast and Drakkisath. I’d wanted the dungeon one set chestpiece, you see. For my mage, and then my druid.

I had only a vague understanding that UBRS, perhaps, might not be a five person instance. This was my thinking. In fact, UBRS might want just a few more people that are level 60. Like, oh… ten, or so.

So when the pug said, “I think we could get the Jenkins achievement with this group,” I didn’t argue. There was a good chance we could have even done it. Heck, we had four paladins and a shaman. That’s an overpowered group, isn’t it? And we really were a bit overpowered. We mowed down the trash packs, killed the fire elemental guy, and were moving at a brisk clip – right up until the attempt to get the achievement left us splat, five smears on the ground.

Like so. Also, one thing not to say to a pug group that just wiped in UBRS: "Hey, this is going to make an AWESOME screenshot for my blog!" No, I didn't say it!

And after that, well heck, we were already in UBRS, weren’t we? Why not keep going? So we did, for awhile. The shaman wasn’t impressed with the plan, so she dropped group. (Foreshadowing)… We picked up another person immediately and killed Rend Blackhand and his trash. We killed some more trash. It was only when we reached The Beast that I began to have a sinking feeling. “It has 80K HP and a skull!” one of the other paladins said.

Hm, so it did. Somehow, being level 80, I hadn’t noticed this important fact the other times I’d come here. Well, they were game to give it a try, and so was I. Unfortunately being a ret paladin and overgearing the tank led me to commit the ultimate DPS crime – I pulled aggro and went splat pretty early on. The rest of the group managed to get The Beast to about 50% health. Which is pretty good, really! Just about half what you’d expect to need – for a monster designed to be killed by ten people and not five. Or four, really, since one was decorating the ground, but who’s counting?

Okay, so…no Beast. No problem. We’d move on to Drakkisath! We’d already come this far.

We wiped on trash. And then the healer had to leave. So we re-queued, this time with me healing. We accidentally pulled two groups and the tank died. So we tried again and just got the one group, and the tank died. These mobs were about four levels higher than us, at this point. Then he got mad and left, and we re-queued once more.

Incidentally: best undocumented pug change ever. When someone joins your group to replace someone else – they appear where you are instead of at the beginning of the instance. Thank you, thank you, thank you again, Blizz. This is awesome.

Except that where we were, at this point, was a short distance from Drakkisath who we were pretty sure we couldn’t kill, and a long way from LBRS, where we’d been intended to go in the first place. We had to find another tank and DPS, but that didn’t take much time at all. We ran back to gamely start LBRS. Our tank didn’t know where he was going, but I sort of did. We got as far as the spiders before I realized that I really had to go – the whole endeavor had taken, so far, two hours. I suppose the only real benefit was that we were getting XP the whole time. I hated having to leave the group “mid-instance,” as it were, but I’d only scheduled about two hours for the endeavor in the first place.

Hours it takes to struggle through incomplete portions of both Upper and Lower Black Rock Spire: Two

Black Rock Spire wipes: Five.

Black Rock Spire achievements: Zero.

The feeling you get when you realize you’ve been causing your poor pug to beat its collective head against a wall that was intended for twice as many players, and at a higher level?

Priceless.

I’m going to cheat and get my husband’s warrior to go back with me at some later time (perhaps when the mobs no longer offer XP). Even though I didn’t get the achievements, I feel I’ve earned them!

Vid’s also level 59 now. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to finish the Dire Maul and the other instances. I may queue for Hogwarts Scholomance specifically because I like it and I’d hate to miss out on it.

That Which We Call A Troll

In terms of instances, I’m starting to sort of kind of reach the ones I am comfortable navigating my way through. The other day I managed a few more pugs. There’ll be no more reports of ten minute SM: Graveyard runs here, no. Instances nearing sixty (pre-BC, anyhow) are srs business. They’re taking at least an hour, usually more.

Take the Lower Black Rock Spire group I joined mid-way through their run. I was DPSing again – see what I mean about queue times as DPS? I don’t know how long they waited for another DPS – possibly milliseconds, but regardless, that’s what they needed. I zoned in and saw no one else near the entrance, which usually gives me a sinking feeling. “Can you find us?” the DK tank asked me. “I can try,” I told him gamely. And miraculously (to me, anyway) I really do know LBRS well enough that I had no problem. I know that you go under the bridge to the right to get to LBRS, and left leads to UBRS. I know that you jump down and there are a series of bridges and the like. It was really easy to just follow the path that they had cleared. I’ve come here multiple times on different characters to do things like the pet quests and other various stuff (including getting lost when I was actually looking for UBRS). I’ve farmed UBRS interminably for parts of the dungeon gear set that Drakkisath drops. I am an old hand at Blackrock Spire! Not really, because the only time I came here at level was on my druid when she was level 58, and I stealthed through most of the whole thing to do the pet quests, a feat I was quite proud of, I’ll have you know. Cat druid rushes in where others fear to tread!

But, I digress. I made it to the group easily and joined their merry band of “let’s murder some orcs.” Unfortunately, it was short-lived – because about five minutes later, our DK tank disconnected. I was sad to see him go, because 1) he was a Draenei and 2) he had actually been doing a good job and spoke in complete sentences. I had just typed “Should we try and wait for him?” when someone initiated a vote-kick. I voted no, but he was kicked anyhow. We puttered around a little bit waiting for another tank. It didn’t take too long before one joined, but unfortunately, I had a bad feeling about him. This time, a human DK. His name?

Vagtroll.

I’ll let that sink in a minute. What does it even mean? I spend far too much time examining the dirty underbelly of the teenage unconscious. Is he trolling… for vaginas? Does he think he is a vagina, in a derogatory sense? Does he wish the character was actually a born a troll, and so is contemplating the mystery of his birth in a form of bizarre navel-gazing?

Unfortunately, having witnessed the way that he ran into LBRS and promptly got himself killed by a wandering patrol, I’m going to have to conclude that he was simply a moron. The group fell apart quickly after that, as the healer dropped group, unwilling to wait for Mr. Troll to find his way to us, and I followed suit. I hadn’t been looking forward to seeing the kind of epic tanking he was going to put forth, and I don’t mind admitting I acted with extreme prejudice. But when you choose a name like that, you’re kind of asking for it, aren’t you?

I queued again and this time experienced another unfamiliar loading screen. I’d just put myself in flight to Feathermoon, intending to go and pick up one of the Dire Maul quests that I’m sure was there, but the instance popped up almost right away. Dire Maul! This time I was healing. I zoned into the instance and clicked to respec and change my gear, typing right after, “Excuse me, I just had to respec so I’ll need to drink before we move on.” I ran through the little hallway that leads to Dire Maul proper, and the next words the tank replied with made angels sing and rainbows arc across the sky.

“OK guys, hang on,” he said, “Healer needs mana.” This tank was the opposite of a vagtroll. He was a dream tank. If I could have fallen to my knees and thanked some deity I would have, but I just sat and drank some water instead.

Complete aside – enough with the Morning Glory Dew, already! I’ve been drinking this since level 45, and I can’t drink the Draenic stuff until 60. This is a bit of an oversight, here. It refills 2928 mana over 20 seconds. With a few happy buffs, I have over five thousand mana at this level. Do you think any pug is going to let me sit and drink for a full 40 seconds? If you did think that you’d be WRONG. I’ll forget about this in two levels as I pour Draenic water everywhere in celebration, but seriously. Lowbie puggers need better water desperately.

BUT. This tank was glorious and made of kittens and puppies and happiness, and he let me regain my mana. This is significant enough that I jotted it down on my little pug sticky notes. “Dire Maul – Pally tank. Waited for mana.” He was as considerate as the instant went on, at one point even calling a break so that I could drink when I hadn’t noticed I needed to. “Wait, healer mana,” he said. This guy should hold a seminar for tanks.

My tanking buddy and I. Yes, I took a picture, so I will remember him forever. Oh, and a big Ancient dude.

I also really just plain, flat-out like Dire Maul (so far). It’s lush and interesting to look at. We chased the annoying little imp guy all through the instance, and amazingly enough, didn’t lose sight of him or miss where he had gone to. I somehow managed to lose him when I came here with my 80 mage a long time ago. And then when I engaged him, I managed to kill myself with a Hot Streak proc to the face. Did you know that spell reflect is a powerful tool versus an inattentive and powerful mage? I’m here to tell you.

Another thing that’s a powerful tool of death…

Twitter. I play with two monitors so I’ve usually got blogs/websites/whatever open on my second monitor. I clicked over to ask some pally related questions, because I know that my Twitter list has fabulous holy paladins on it, who did in fact answer my questions. They should’ve told me, though, “Instead of asking about Divine Illumination on Twitter, maybe you should try healing your tank.”

Yes, Twitter was nearly the death of my beloved pally tank. I have another confession to make, too. I said… “Wow, sorry guys, I got some really weird lag just then!” …You know, like the kind of lag that comes from alt-tabbing out to a different window to talk on twitter when you should be healing. Mental lag, if you will. The kind that five minutes later had me ask the hunter by name to dispel the curses, instead of the druid. He said, “Srsly? …I’m a hunter.” Whoops. Of course, the druid never responded, nor did he dispel the curses. So I suppose the greatest example of pug idiocy in this group came from me, never let it be said that just because I blog about pugs I’m ‘holier than thou!’

Although I absolutely am Holier than most of them. Except when I’m not. Because I’m a Holy paladin, get it…? I’ll stop now, honest.

A few search engine terms:

how to heal deadmines on a paladin and can a paladin heal deadmines – The answer is “Holy Light” and “Yes,” respectively, although if you’re level 20 you’ve learned Flash of Light, use it well. And Glyph Holy Light. No problem!

holy pally leveling kings or wisdom – At earlier levels, I went with Kings. It’s immensely powerful for the level. I didn’t take Imp. Wisdom right away either, bypassing it to get further down the tree and only coming back to get it later. Of course the best answer is “Both!” if you’re lucky enough to have another paladin. I say switch it up. Sometimes a larger mana pool (yay Kings!) means you don’t really have to worry about regen too much. Once you start getting all the happy Int talents I think Kings is a clear choice, but please correct me if I’m wrong, resident Holy paladins who know more than I (that’s all of you). I’ve been buffing Wis lately just because I can do the Greater version, and it lasts 30 minutes, and I’m lazy.

cat lovers are masochist and dog lovers are awesome – I might agree, but I’ll never tell. I can hear my dog snoring on the other side of the wall as I type this. He has a very robust snore.

jak zbudować wind furry u shamana enh? – “Shaka, when the walls fell.” I think this might be Polish…? I have no idea how they wound up here, though. Except I do have a shaman. But that’s all I know.

Queen of the Depths

I found some time to do a fair bit of pugging early last weekend. I queued for a random instance, keeping in mind that I’d really like to get the Classic Dungeonmaster achievement – which feat will require me sneaking into Orgrimmar to do Ragefire Chasm… I failed to queue early enough when I was still “allowed” to go there. It turns out that random instances at my level range are not so random. Do you like lava, things that are underground, and Dark Iron dwarves? Because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them if you’re randomly queuing around level 50 and up. I know that three BRD runs doesn’t sound like that much but it actually is if you consider that each of those runs took an hour, minium, but closer to an hour and a half or even more. I stopped watching the clock at some point.

The good news is that I completely finished the whole thing, twice, meaning we killed the final boss. Of the three times I ran it randomly, I only received a Satchel one time – which is a bit of a “duh?” oversight, in my opinion. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t think there’s any way to tell which portion of the instance you’ve been queued for until you actually finish it. There’s BRD – Prison, and BRD – Upper City, but because the instance is so vast and sprawling, people tend to just head off in the direction they’re familiar with. If you don’t know much about BRD (join my club) – the place is vast. The wowwiki page says it takes 4-6 hours to clear it completely (I doubt this is the case, anymore) . In a place with so many bosses, the odds are pretty good that you just won’t be killing whichever boss it considers the “end” of the portion you’re queued for, except when that boss happens to be Thaurissian himself.

BRD – I
This first run I was healing. It’s actually interesting to note that sometimes, being queued as DPS gets me an instant group while being a healer does not.  It makes for a nice change, anyway. I’d say I still heal about 80% of the time but that extra 20% of light-based-here-please-eat-my-axe keeps me happy.

For some reason, the tank in this run was incredibly hard to heal. He was wearing heirlooms, and assorted other instance-reward blue gear. His HP was 4076 (at level 54). I don’t think he was pulling with any more zeal than other tanks I’ve run with. He was a paladin. I don’t know if he just wasn’t using his cooldowns much, maybe? His HP seemed comparable to the tanks from my other two runs (I checked afterwards). I didn’t quite have the gumption to mention it or ask him, thinking it might be some defect with me. I have been playing as ret somewhat, have I forgotten how to heal?

Anyway, we did end up wiping on this run due to pulling more or less the entire room of bar patrons onto us. I think it was consecrate that did it. It wasn’t the only hairy “OMG what is this I don’t even…” moment, either. The tank said, “Been tanking for 20 levels and never lost two people on one pull before!” Well, me neither, but your inability to hold aggro versus this DPS meant that I couldn’t quite keep them alive. I hear that healing two tanks is something a paladin can do easily while balancing on their nose and doing flippy-tricks with their weapon, but three, when two are wearing dresses? Probably not.

I find that after having played other healing classes (the one I play most commonly is a druid) my inability to keep up with heavy AoE damage frustrates me quite a bit. OK, it’s not even heavy AoE damage so much as it is “whenever three people are taking damage simultaneously.” Holy Light is quite a bit faster than it was but it’s still not super fast, and with this tank I definitely needed the “oomph” to keep him alive. But the time needed to throw FoLs and Holy Shocks around would see him nearly dying again. I’m really hoping that having Beacon will help to alleviate this. It’s nice to stave off an encounter that started to feel like Certain Doom and have everyone ooh and ah over your healing, it’s not so nice to hyperventilate and feel as if no matter how fast you’re clicking, there’s nothing more you could have done, even with using all of your protective and special cooldowns.

Although the scenery in BRD was amazing, all you get is this picture of my shield.

BRD – II

My second BRD queue saw me with a bear tank, and I wasn’t healing (we had a tree), I was retribution! I got these neat plate legs at the end for my troubles. I like them, they are flashy and red.

I haven’t had a chance to enthuse about this to anyone besides my guild yet, so I will say it here. I absolutely love playing retribution so far. I don’t care if people tease me about being a two-button wonder. It’s really fun. I may have mentioned this in my previous entry (Art of WAAAAARRR) but it bears repeating. Playing melee DPS is an incredibly different experience from all of my ranged characters, and I never really played Fury with my warrior so maybe the experience is similar. It’s just really satisfying to hear a clanging sound and see a monster’s health go down and say to yourself, “Yes, I hit that.” It’s also nice to be able to take a few hits if an angry mob isn’t impressed when I poked him with a battle axe.

I’ll confess, I sometimes zone out a bit during these instance runs. Especially BRD which lends itself to a hypnotic feeling. More Dark Iron dwarves. More tunnels/passageways/whatever. Look, lava! So it took me awhile during this run to notice something.

That’s funny, I thought, who is the other melee DPS? It’s not a rogue – wait, is she hitting things with a staff? I looked at her name, and then I looked over at Recount to see the greeness of it. She was a hunter. For posterity, let it be known, that a hunter meleeing with their weapon (sans pet) in BRD can achieve an average of 80 damage per second. Most other DPS in that run and others average around 500.

Please understand I don’t want to rant on about this person in an “oh what a terribad I’m so awesome at WoW” kind of way, I actually want opinions, suggestions, whatever… What would you have done? Would you message her and try to gently come around to the point – “So are you new to WoW etc.”? Would you take a more direct approach – “You would probably do better DPS if you used your ranged weapon and brought your pet out.” The first one feels condescending to me, and the second, interfering. I remembered someone saying in a blog – some people just don’t care about this game as much to research it, and they are just having fun. So who cares if they aren’t pulling a billion DPS? We’re not in a raid. It’s a 5-man. Our heirlooms can carry a few people easily. We finished the instance, after all. Maybe it was a bit slower, but I had time.

So I took option three. I did and said nothing, and the melee hunter continued to melee her way through BRD happily, I can only presume, with Zum’rah’s Vexing Cane. Let’s just say that I’ve always enjoyed this staff, but its name took on new meaning in this context. What would you have done?

Modeling shiny new leggings that will soon be replaced by Outland greens. But for now they say, "I went to BRD and I stole Dagran's pants, too."

BRD – III

For the third run, I was healing again. There were a pair of mages here from the same guild, clearly leveling together with their hefty heirloom gear, and I was quite happy to have them, mostly because they knew their way around. In our previous run, nobody had the key to proceed to the later levels. (In my defense, why didn’t I have the key myself – I did pick up the quest when we wiped, but I’m already at the point of the instance where killing the required bosses would’ve caused us to go out of our way.) But these two mages both had the key, and so BRD was our oyster. The kind of oyster that takes you two full hours to pry open.

These three runs have more or less merged in my recollection. It’s all a dark blur to me.. I know that I went to BRD, and I know that things were killed. The most notable person in all the runs was the hunter, and I’m still conflicted about that. All of the groups were pleasant. This last group did press on all the way to Thaurissian where the previous one hadn’t, and yet again I scored loot from him. It was one of those random enchantment type-rings that usually end up being questionable, but this one made me so happy I gasped audibly when it dropped. It was an Emperor’s Seal…of intellect. 16 delicious points of it. I was very happy to roll on it, and very happy to win it (sorry, mages, you weren’t running OOM anyway, give me a break. Besides, it has no spellpower, shame on you.)

So after all of that, what do I think of BRD? I’m astounded to report that I don’t think we really got lost. One of the groups hung a bit when we weren’t quite sure how to open a particular door. But overall it was quite smooth. I don’t have many more deaths to add to my total. I am content. I could have been more efficient had I picked up or done pre-quests for this instance, because I think there are a ton and they’re worth a good deal of XP. I’ve even done more pugging since – my first trip to Dire Maul, and a short-lived Lower Black Rock Spire run. Vid is level 58 now. (Yes, so many hours in BRD will do that to you). I took her to Outland and trained Master enchanting as well as the next level of Engineering. It looks as if the materials to craft a flying machine have been adjusted? In any case, I have all the mats lined up and ready to go and I’m very excited. Pugging pally will soon be terrorizing the skies, but not until I’ve finished Dire Maul, Scholomance, and Stratholme, hopefully. I did the quest chain to get the key to Scholo (I know it’s not required any more, but I like having it) and I have the key to the rest of Dire Maul as well so hopefully that should smooth over runs into the other wings. It’s hard to restrain myself from leaping headlong into Outlands, but a guildie mentioned to me that once you are level 60 – you can’t queue for level 60 instances any more, or at least not randomly. I may be queuing specifically for each wing of Dire Maul as I need it, and likewise for Scholo and Strat. Yes, I don’t want to go back to BRD. I conquered it already, see?

Conveniently, it's not just Dwarven sized.

Also, to add – on the topic of gently approaching someone clearly and utterly failing at their given task… When I rolled Vidyala the Second and put her into Single Abstract Noun, I was happily running around Azuremyst assailing moths and other wildlife with my clumsy bludgeon when I received a whisper. “Are you new to WoW?” this person asked. I checked who it was. A level 80 paladin, currently at the Exodar. It only took me a split second to realize – he’d seen the [Lousy Cloth Robe of Greyness] I was wearing. You know how the starting zone just drops…whatever? And if you’re lucky, it drops crappy mail stuff, but sometimes it doesn’t. It hadn’t. My reasoning was…hey, it’s better than nothing.

I said, “Are you asking because you saw me wearing a dress?”
Him: “Well, I was hearthing out and I just caught a glimpse…”

I explained that it wasn’t my first character, but that it was an alt and I had no other characters on this server – plus it had been the only thing to drop. He asked me about the guild, I told him it was a guild of bloggers and blog readers, and he fled away a million miles after politely murmuring “Ohisn’tthatnice.” So, I’m very sorry, SAN, for inadvertently giving us all a reputation for harbouring the worst kind of Failadins and noobs ever.

Even my alternative alternative paladin fails at dressing like a paladin.

Minus One Tail, Plus Tusks

Last week I did something radical to one of my characters.

She used to look like this, and live on the same server as my other characters.

The artist formerly known as a Draenei.

Now she looks like this, and lives on a different server entirely.

Now with 100% more tusk.

It was an interesting experience, really. I have a friend who plays Horde on this other server. I wanted a level 80 to hang out with him and seldom have the opportunity to level my Horde mage there (she’s level 62, I believe). My shaman hasn’t been doing much. She has professions that are fairly independent of my other characters – Inscription, for the fancy shoulder enchants, and Alchemy, but she’s my second alchemist. I knew that if I transferred her I’d still have my priest to make flasks and transmute one gem a day. So she was a likely prospect. I’ve been only logging her in to transmute gems for weeks, and I do actually enjoy the shaman playstyle. If I put her in a situation where she is my only and primary level 80 character, she’ll have a chance to shine.

The preparation took a few hours. First, I looked at the faction change information on the official website. She’s even more ideal than I had thought. I never bothered to do the Argent Tournament stuff with her so it won’t matter that it gets reset. She’d be trading an elekk (we hates them) for a raptor. Seems fine to me! I decide I’m going to do it, and start loading up her bags with things that she will need, plus a few gifts for my Horde characters. She gets a sizeable portion of herbs, enchanting mats, and a ton of Netherweave and Frostweave bolts for my tailor over there. Once I’ve given her every conceivable thing she or the others could need, I start filling bag slots with Alliance-only recipes and pets. Kaching!

The actual process of faction changing is as quick and seamless as the server transfer is, although it should be noted that you can’t do both at once. I faction changed her first, and then server transferred, and the delay was pretty minimal.

This place looks nice. It could use some more red Horde flags to spruce it up though...wait.

When you arrive “on the other side” you begin in  your faction’s capital city, so in my case Orgrimmar. I can only imagine what a bewildering experience this would be if you haven’t ever dabbled in playing the opposing faction. I know my way around Orgrimmar pretty well, but what I was really excited to see was Dalaran. I hopped on my new, blue raptor and zipped on over to catch a Zeppelin to Northrend!

First impressions – I had no idea that Warsong Hold was so massive. I felt genuinely awed as the zeppelin came in. Of course it isn’t the same experience as first coming to Northrend; I got onto my flying mount to explore, but still. One thing that’s messing me up as a “new” Horde character is flight points. Flight points are automatically transferred as far as I understand, based on your level. e.g. if you are a level 60, you’ll have the flight points you’d expect to have in Azeroth, both Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, but not all the Outlands ones yet. As a level 80, I have all the flight points I’d expect to have (and let’s be honest, I’ve missed flight points in Northrend before – just found one on my druid main in Zul’drak last week) so I probably have more than I usually would. But every time I go to a city or town I don’t know where they ARE. It is for this reason, and this reason alone that I flew to Dalaran on my mount instead of hopping a flight.

Arriving in Dal, I gleefully sprinted to the Horde area to check it out. I remember when Dalaran was new and I was exploring, I tried to run in there only to be rudely punted out so many times. Now I could finally poke around and see it properly.

It’s interesting, especially as a study of contrasts between the “Alliance only” area and the “Horde only” area. People had made jokes before about “The Filthy Animal” to me. (Horde faction wins at self-deprecating irony). But I actually really like the “inn.”

Whoa.

This was a bit of a shock, though. These innkeepers are seriously KEEPING the INN.

I like the massively sized, “lodge” type feel of TFA. You get the sense that large groups of people could and do meet here, and it feels more tribal, not in a “look, our decor involves tusks and spikes way” but in a “We’re all in this together and nobody gets special perks” kind of way. So I quite enjoyed exploring there, figuring out where the emblem vendors are – where everyone is standing around looking at gear, nothing too unusual there – and the portals to the capital cities. They’re very conveniently located. I feel like it’s pretty expedient to hop back to Dalaran and run over the portals. I’m not sure if the Alliance run is really longer but it feels longer.

So what do I think of the Alliance exclusive part of Dalaran now that I’ve seen the Horde? I think that I need to stop trying to run into it on my raptor. It does feel that Alliance got the lion’s share here (har), which actually makes sense to me given Dalaran’s lore. But again, it isn’t necessarily “more” or “better” so much as it is different. Alliance-side has the towers and it’s all connected – you can run up the stairs in The Heroes’ Welcome and then make your way over to the emblem vendor, or hang out in the Beer Garden (not something I do anymore since being on a PvE server, but we used to go there to RP sometimes). It feels more individualistic – small tables where you can sit with a few other people, and opulent in the decoration (We’re talking about a place called “The Heroes’ Welcome” here, it has more than its fair share of pretension).

One thing to note that was pretty interesting, apparently as a shaman that faction transfers, your totem quests are reset. Not that you don’t have totems, you still do (whichever totem “counts as an air, fire, earth, water” totem) but you haven’t done that faction’s quests to acquire the originals. Some orc hanging out in Dalaran said to effectively, “Hey slacker, there are some things you haven’t learned yet about being a shaman. Like, you know, that whole totem thing? Kind of important.”

What’s nice about this, though, is that the original quests have been updated to give level 80 equivalent rewards. So they’re saying, “Go find so and so at the top of stupidly high, treacherous place where you will fall many times,” but giving me thirteen gold to do it. Suddenly, shaman totem quests are looking all right! I spent some time working on them, although I’m not quite done the water one. It has all that continent hopping and I got lazy.

Incidentally, troll totems? Simply awesome, they look so right.

Of course I hardly wasted any time before diving in to do some pugging. I wanted to get my two-toed feet wet and collect some emblems as soon as I could. I’m experiencing some of the “low DPS blues” in random heroics. I can’t actually say whether this is a Horde thing, because there’s too great a disparity between this character’s gear and my Alliance “mains.” Another thing is, I swapped Heroic Presence for Berserking. Berserking is awesome, but losing that 1% hit hurt me at this gear level. I even had to gem for hit, and I hate doing that. Even so, understand when I say “low DPS” I mean she does around 2800-3000 on average. Her gear is some crafted 200 epics, a few 226 pieces, and some 219s out of the ToC 5-man. I’d take her to Ulduar comfortably. And yet, the pugs have been an absolute grab bag of oddity.

Not rude, really, just…Head-scratchingly strange. My first random heroic was a Nexus run. Perfect. It’s not a complicated instance, it’s one of the “easier” heroics. We got through it right up until almost being at the tree boss, he was the last boss left before Keri… and the tank just left, without a word. The healer quickly followed suit. This battlegroup isn’t like my other, though – the pug scene is brisk. A new tank and healer arrived almost immediately, as puzzled as we were. “You lost your tank and heals?” the tank asked.

“Yeah,” I told him, “And I don’t really know why.”
“But you were almost finished,” he says. And it doesn’t make any sense to me, either. Sure, we aren’t doing 6K DPS apiece but things were dying. We finish the run without any further hitches.

A different pug finds me in Utgarde Pinnacle, this time we get as far as Skadi, but the “problem” is more evident. We’re not moving fast enough for the healer. “Gogogo,” he says, and “Hurry up guys, I want to get some Subway lol.” I bite my tongue and resist telling him that we can’t really hurry – we can DPS as quickly as we can DPS, and that’s all we can do. That’s what the “PS” stands for. After Skadi, he too drops group without a word. Yet another person nearly at the end of an instance who can’t be bothered to wait it out. We did get a new healer and finish the run, but I remain mystified.

I suppose my shamanic DPS just isn’t good enough for some tank/healer prima donnas, but generally the pug experiences have still been fine. I bought a piece of Thrall’s T9 gear with my hard-won emblems. I realized only after the fact that the gear looks differently – so I won’t get to enjoy the shaman boat shoulders and skirt favoured by Nobundo. In fact, having one less Draenei makes me sad in general.

There’s only one solution!

She has no weapon in this picture because she has to share with Vid.

A new shaman alt is never a bad thing, right? That’s what I thought.