Monthly Archives: May 2010

Too Much, I Think

Once an out-of-town friend was visiting and staying with us. Our friend loves sushi, and we love sushi, so naturally we took her to our favourite sushi restaurant. I tend to think that we have an approach to sushi mirrored by all of our friends but not necessarily ideally suited to sushi. To be frank, we eat the heck out of sushi. We don’t go out for it often, so when we do, we eat a lot of it. Mostly because I end up going, “Oh look, this roll has the vegetables with the other thing, and this roll has this other stuff in it, we must try them all!”

And so it went, with the three of us poring over the menu and marking off various rolls. Many, many rolls, enough that when the waitress came to take the order, I think she was a bit staggered.

“All of this?” she said.

Embarrassed, we traded looks. I said, “How much did we order, anyway?” looking around at my companions.

“Too much, I think,” the waitress blurted. It was her turn to be embarrassed, because she hadn’t meant to be quite that honest but it was all over her face. These people are being pigs with the sushi! They are going to explode.

We crossed off one roll and gave the menu back to her.

Yes, I went home feeling sushi sick that day, and it wasn’t the first time. But I can actually say truthfully that it was the last. More or less. The last time I remember having sushi I marked down all the rolls that sounded exciting. Then we got rid of at least a third of them. They were delightful, and I was full, but not stuffed. I like to think I’m learning.

I feel that way about WoW sometimes. At the end of May, I’ll have been playing WoW for two years. No, I wasn’t a “Classic” person. I didn’t raid BQL or Molten Core or AQ or any of those places. I did play this game a great deal, especially in the first year. We basically came in at the very tail end of the Burning Crusade expansion; my first character to level 70 dinged in August, before Wrath came out in November. It’s no secret that it’s something very easy to lose yourself in. Being the not-always-proud owner of six level eighty characters, I can attest that there have been times when I played the game to excess.

Two years later, I think I have a healthier balance. I don’t log in during the day except possibly for a quick heroic over lunch (I work from home). We try to keep the raiding to about three nights at a maximum. But being guild leader/officer/whatever of an active and healthy raiding guild requires some time commitment. There are days when I look at how much time and energy WoW takes and say to myself, “Too much, I think.”

Everyone’s talking about burn out these days. I’ve read good things about how to help your guild survive the pre-expansion slump. But here I’m writing about how to help yourself survive the pre-expansion slump. Here’s what I’m planning to do.

  • Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s not essential that I do every single thing for the guild myself. Ever since work has been keeping me busier our guild’s officers have been awesome about stepping up to take over guild responsibilities. One maintains the technical website stuff, one does raid sign-ups, another maintains the administrative stuff we keep track of (tier tokens, achievement tracking, etc.) It’s awesome. I’m still trying not to feel guilty about not “doing enough.” Hopefully if people ever feel I’m not pulling my weight they’ll let me know. Anyway, the point is we all share the responsibilities, and it helps to keep it fun knowing that if I don’t do something it doesn’t mean it won’t ever get done.
  • Cut back. With summer looming and much of our work accomplished in ICC (we’re 11/12 hard-modes now, and we’ve got seven people their Glory of the Icecrown Raider drakes) we’re scaling back our raid days from four to three with an optional day on Sunday. Sunday will be for alt runs, old content and the like. It’ll probably mean that people might run a bit less, but I think we’re all going to be okay with that. We have heroic Arthas looking at us (or we’re looking at him?) so he’s going to be our focus, but even heroic mode stuff takes two raid days or less at this point to clear straight to Arthas. It’s not very sustainable.
  • Let go of achievements. Sometimes I think the achievement system was both the most brilliant marketing thing that Blizzard ever did, and also the epitome of evil. As someone who has changed mains multiple times, I just can’t care about achievements as much as someone who knows that they love ONE class and will probably not ever change. I’ve done so many ridiculous things on multiple characters. I have three characters with max level fishing, three or four with max level cooking. I’ve done things like the pet and mount achievements, but never on the same character. I’ve resolved to only care about an achievement if it is especially relevant to a character. For example, my moonkin druid often wears the Starcaller title (naturally!) Even if I start doing more things with Vid – I’d never make a special effort to get that title. It doesn’t matter to her. I will, however, finish my Argent reps so she can be Crusader, because that’s pretty cool. I’ll have to monitor this though, because I like earning the fancy points and it can be difficult to restrain myself.
  • All things in good time. Do I really have to speed-run ten heroics to get Vidyala another piece of off-spec Triumph emblem gear? I probably don’t. She’ll get the emblems eventually just from running heroics on a regular basis. Does it matter if I don’t have time one day to do a frost emblem run? It probably doesn’t. It’s pretty silly to think “I need to do this or that,” and even put a timeline on it. This is especially applicable to alts – they’ll get there when they get there. There’s no rush to gear up for new and exciting content (yet), and even when there’s new content there won’t be the same kind of rush. I don’t know about you, but I often tend to over gear content anyway by going overboard with crafted gear or heroic drops. By the time I reach a tier, the gear there is obsolete for me.
  • If it stops being fun, stop. Although I don’t advocate unexpectedly disappearing without a word (I’ve had too many people do this to me, and I hate it) – it’s okay to play a bit less than you once did. I wouldn’t shirk my raid or guild responsibilities; always let people know you’ll be AFK and for how long you expect to be so – but if it’s what you really need to get excited about the game again, then do it. You’ll be better off for it. Personally I just intend to moderate my playtime a bit more and cut back on things I might otherwise do such as leveling alts or excessive fishing. I find that playing WoW a lot always makes me appreciate a walk outside more, and sometimes likewise. A day spent doing something far away from computers means it actually feels like a game when I get an opportunity to log in and run a heroic with friends. I don’t want the only sunsets I see to be the ones over Dalaran.
  • Finally, keep in touch. For me the best part of WoW is the social aspect – talking to guildies, joking around on the forums, reading and commenting on blogs, and twitter. Even if I’m not in-game as much, I can still keep up with people in these other ways. It can be a nice way to talk about my favourite hobby without getting tired of it.

So, what are your plans for weathering the pre-Cataclysm doldrums? Are you going to take a little break? Level an alt? Go on vacation? Eat way more sushi than any one person ought to eat? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments, I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t thought of.

Gallery

Tuesday Art Day: Dwarves!

This gallery contains 8 photos.

So once upon a time, there was a lovely lady named Anea who asked me if I could perhaps make a blog banner for her such as the one I made for myself (see above). I actually keep meaning to … Continue reading

Bear Necessities

So, you all convinced me. I caved. About the tanking, that is.

Rawr.

What do you mean, this isn’t what you had in mind? Needs more…paladin? She’s only level 17, but she’s tanked Ragefire Chasm about five times. I think it was about five times. She’s got an odd mix of some heirloom gear (feral shoulders) but no heirloom weapon (apart from the caster staff). Pugging at low levels is as hilarious as I remember it being, with a random assemblage of people who have come together to murder relatively low-level mobs. I didn’t make the mistake of missing out on queuing for RFC this time. When I hit level 15, I was right in there! Regretfully, a bear has only a few options at that level. Very few. My “taunt” button is well-loved. I’m beginning to hate hunters with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. Why must they attack before I’ve even hit anything? Maybe it’s a reflection of the hunter playstyle, which very strongly emphasizes the capability of soloing most things, because hunter and pet are a ready-made team. It doesn’t translate well to group play with other real people from what I’ve seen. I get that your pet could be tanking this instead of me, really I do. But, unfortunately for you, you have ME tanking it, so give me a chance! (Addendum: After I wrote most of this, I saw that Gameldar has written a post replying to some of my bear woes, so if you’re a lowbie bear tank with similar issues, it’s got some good advice in it!)

I don’t even have time to type things to them and berate my groups, because I’m too busy slamming buttons and spinning in circles and taunting mobs. At least once I hit level 16 I gained the ability to swipe things, both with my front AND my back, so that helps with packs of multiples. Most of the groups went decently well up until the last run where things were all over the place and I just couldn’t seem to handle them, so I decided I should quit while I was ahead and parked my fuzzy butt to gain some rested XP.

Highlights of lowbie tanking include:
Glyph of Maul. Thank you, Maul, for helping me with AoE aggro because every person wants to start AoEing before I’ve even reached the mobs, let alone gained enough rage to do anything more than auto-attack them.

At one point I did manage to speak up long enough to say, “OK guys, I don’t have many things I can do yet so please give me a bit of time with the mobs, you’re going to have to bear with me.”
“LOL he said bear”
“Yes, you see what I did there…”

That run seemed to go more smoothly than the others, perhaps because I made them laugh. One thing that I’m noticing though – everyone, everyone just assumes that I am “he.” This may be a function of bear form (after all, they don’t see anything else, it looks like a bear, and tanks are GUYS, amirite?). I wouldn’t remark on this except it seemed quite explicit, “Hey dude thanks for the run,” or “he” is doing this or that. It’s a bit bizarre, but I’m guessing I’m going to have to get used to it. It’s especially strange because my name (to me) is really quite feminine. But I guess that doesn’t matter. If thinking I’m a guy makes them more liable to respect my authoritah, I’ll take it.

Out of the five pugs, only one had one of those really strange sort of “WTF” moment so characteristic of random pugging. There was this restoration druid, you see. Well, I assume he was restoration. He had a plus symbol next to his face. And yet… my health was dropping, inexorably downward, never to recover. I can always count on a mouthy pugger though, someone said, “Heal the tank!” Nothing. In-between pulls, I dropped out of bear form to throw some HoTs on myself, and then pulled the next group. Still nothing. I don’t know what this “healer” was doing really. Someone else yelled at him. After the next pull, with me at about 20% life, I stopped.

“I don’t want to sound demanding or anything,” I said (no sarcasm, I swear, I would never) “But do you suppose you could heal me?” The oddest thing about being sarcastic with these sorts of pugs is that it doesn’t work. At all. Meaning… if someone said that to me, I’d get defensive. These people just seem to take it at face value. “K,” he said simply. As if, “Oh right, I was meant to be doing that. Well, since you’ve been kind enough to mention it, I’ll endeavor to do that in future.” And he did, for a little while. He’d HoT me… get distracted casting Wrath at some mobs… At a point near the end I thanked him for the heals – I was being genuine, although it strikes me as bizarre to thank someone for actually doing the job they were brought to do, but what do I know? I’m now at the mercy of healers instead of tanks, and it’s a strange feeling. Amazingly we finished the run without problems, even though I watched the healer pull additional mobs when I was already struggling and bear-flailing with the mobs I’d MANAGED to pull. I don’t know how that thought process goes.

“Hey look, there’s some guys over there! Let’s add them into the fray! Oh right, I’m supposed to heal. Well, here’s a rejuv, he’ll be fine…wheee, I’m casting Wrath!”

So I’m not sure what’s in the future for my baby bear. She definitely will not level with just pugs, but she’ll likely do quite a bit of pugging. Once I have cat form I think I can swap between the two fairly handily for questing/tanking. It’s funny, because people kept telling me they’re looking forward to “your next project,” I’m not sure if I really have a next “project,” at least not something with an overarching theme. I did do this:

Note the absence of a giant axe.

Yes, that’s right. That isn’t a retribution spec right there. It’s a shield. And a sword. It’s even 537 defense. I know, it’s three shy of an actual raid, but I haven’t done a 5-man. Unless you count Scholomance, which I went and did on my own, so as to not inflict my “tanking” on any other living person. Feeling confident, after Scholomance I ran a guildie’s alt through Blood Furnace. It was fine. He didn’t die, I didn’t die. I’m not sure when I’ll work up the gumption to actually run things at 80. As I told my guild, “I’m the kind of tank that makes healers drop group when they see me.” You know, tanks with less than eleventy-billion HP. (It’s around 27K self-buffed, for the record).

I don’t want to offend any warriors out there, but I think I actually take more naturally to the paladin tanking stuff than the abilities of a warrior. I have an unhealthy enjoyment of hurling a golden-light-shield in the face of mobs. It’s… sort of exhilarating. For now, it’s only my “soloing old instances” spec, but we’ll see where it goes.

Vid has been busy off and on. I never had a chance to write about the pug raids she did! Well, they were half pug and half not. We had an alt run night with five of us that required us to pick up five random people. And oh, such randoms they were. We did Trial of the Crusader, having found a hunter, a rogue, a death knight, a druid and a warlock. It all started out so casually. “We don’t need vent for this,” we decided. “ToC is old news, everyone has a handle on these fights.”

After the first wipe (I had a snobold on me the entire time, up until we died) a brief silence prevailed on Vent. “Maybe we should give them the vent info?” I ventured.

Soon we had most of the group in vent with us, excepting the hunter, who apparently had a moral opposition to being in Vent and just flatly ignored us, the same way he flatly ignored the targets we told him to attack or do anything else the raid leader asked.

The rogue, it turned out, had extensive raid experience, which he proceeded to expound upon at length, in-between trying to give mid-fight directions that were wrong, and being dead last for DPS done. He actually wasn’t too bad once we gently told him that all the talking in Vent was confusing things mid-fight, and he was endearingly earnest. “Good work, guys,” he enthused during Faction Champs. “We’ve got this, we’re doing great!”

But the star of the show really had to be the Death Knight. Apparently he’d never done ToC before, because when we finished Twin Val’kyr he completely lost it when the floor fell out from under us. “Sh** man this is crazy!” he said. We all kind of laughed, but the reason for his exclamations became clearer a few minutes later. I’ve carefully and lovingly smudged everyone’s name except mine to protect the innocent, but this conversation is best read in its original form. The DK asked what tier of gear he should be trying to get, and he was all ready to set off on a quest to acquire Tier 8, before the rogue set him straight, not without the opportunity to link all his hawt gear, of course.

Duuuude!

After this we went on to do Onyxia with more or less the same group, except we brought our epic mage along with us. They kept asking us “Don’t we need more ranged” and we kept telling them, “We’ll be fine, you’ll see.” The fight, however, got messy (That’s a ****ing 50 DKP minus!) and we finished what has to be the longest Onyxia kill I’ve ever personally been a part of… with the tank, myself, the off-tank (feral druid) and our mage being the ONLY people alive. We basically did the final ground phase with only us. There was a hairy moment when I thought I’d been feared into her cleave, but fortunately I wasn’t.

The best loot of the night was definitely Anub’arak dropping the healing shield for me. I’d only dared hope, and now I can only conclude such a disjointed post with fun search engine terms, because I like them.

My top search term for the past few weeks has been variations of:
i seem to have misplaced my pants
i have misplaced my pants

I didn’t know what I was getting into once I disenchanted those puppies. It’s an epidemic, people. Think of the pants.

how blizz deals with ninjaing: Yeah, they really don’t. My best advice to you would be not put yourself in a position where someone can whisk something out from under everyone’s nose. If it’s something rare like a vanity item or BoE, make sure everyone knows to Need on it. If you’re pugging raids you’re somewhat more at their mercy, but if it keeps happening consider organizing your *own* pug raids. Sure, it’s more of a headache, but you’ll have control of loot distribution and know that nobody can ninja anything.

things you know about icc: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… no, really. What do I know about ICC? Don’t cast Starfall on Marrowgar trash unless you’re as far as possible from anything that could possibly want to eat your face, ever. And even then you probably shouldn’t (but go ahead and do it anyway, you know I do).

Running heroics since I’ve turned 80 has been fun. There’ve been a few kooky characters, like the paladin who used his rocket boots to pull the whole first corridor of Drak’Tharon Keep…wait, that was someone in my guild.

Well, we like to keep it interesting. I waded into a few heroics with tanks I trusted before I actually started to pug them. I’ve never had a character before who hit 80 with semi-decent gear (yes, blues!) Dungeon blues are still ilevel 187 or so, they aren’t bad. A full set of them is fine. I still picked up a few other pieces before I felt confident enough to strike out on my own. Of course it would be Gundrak, which is still fixed in my mind as Hard To Heal even though apparently it isn’t anymore.

I was freaking out a little bit – on the verge of asking the melee to make sure and run out of the poison nova, since nobody bothers these days. I didn’t have time before the tank had pulled though, and of course none of the melee ran out of it. And… it was fine. Many tanks now have something ridiculous like 50 K hp or more. This was a DK tank, and he ran through the instance. My guild laughed because I was getting a constant stream of achievements, starting at [Snakes, Why'd It Have to be Snakes?] through [Less-Rabi]. Yes, I got [Less-Rabi] with a pugged group only a day or so after hitting 80. It’s a bit ridiculous. Why, my other characters had to work for that achievement,  uphill in the instance both ways, etc. Nonetheless, I have it. That tank even went to go and kill Eck, and I think he did it to be nice to me because I’d asked the group at the beginning to be gentle, since I was still a pretty fresh 80. Every emblem counts! It was kind.

I kept running heroics on my own with little happening that was noteworthy. I can squeeze one in on my lunch break usually. But one day, an unexpected load screen arrived… Heroic Forge of Souls. I wasn’t sure . Was I ready for it? The Dungeon Finder tool thought that I was. I took a deep breath and dove in. It was fine. Silent, but fine. Practically no one said anything until just at the end, I piped up and said, “So apparently LFD thinks that I can heal this as long as it puts me with uber tank.” The tank laughed and said he wasn’t uber, had just run these many times. He was a paladin with a ridiculous amount of health and I told him that just having run these many times made him uber as far as I was concerned. I just about had to get a new pair of pants when I saw the load screen. It was a short exchange, but it made the instance memorable for me. (That was the same run I got Seethe, hit or no hit, and it was the tank that urged me to roll on it. TAKE it, TAKE it!)

Since then, I’ve been tormenting all and sundry with heroic ICC runs. Even my husband was a bit skeptical. The heroic ICC 5-mans are no joke to heal, after all. But even in pugs, I’ve been tremendously lucky with groups and haven’t really had much to complain about. My only complaint, if I’m allowed to have one, would have to be this.

The silence. Unremitting silence. People who join without a word and drop group at the end the same way that they came in. It makes me feel a little dirty. I mean, I get that people are running these for their two emblems a day. Most people want as few bosses as possible. I had a tank in DTK skip the raptor boss and I was a bit peeved. (Every emblem counts, remember?). I understand that most people see it as a chore rather than actual fun at this point. But it’s still fun for me. I’ve been quietly gathering retribution and protection gear with the aim to try them out at some point. Even though I’ve seen these instances umpteen billion times, I still have fun running them. But I miss the camaraderie, the bizarre people from pugs of old. I wish I could get these people talking. The closest thing to conversation I tend to see is when a moonkin and a DK get into an argument because The Black Heart dropped in Trial of the Champion.

“Tanking is my main-spec,” they both swear up and down (this because I asked if anyone minded if I took it for off-spec.) “I’ve only been running this place for that and I’ve lost the roll twice,” etc. I passed on it, politely, although I honestly don’t think either of them had more right to it than I did. I told the DK that if he wanted it that badly – maybe he ought to be tanking to get it. I know that if my tank were trying to get something like that I’d be more inclined to back him up and try to get any off-spec rollers to pass for him, but I don’t feel as charitable towards any of the DPS who just happen to “need” that because tanking is their “main” spec.

So that’s what passes for conversation in heroic instances these days. As a paladin, I’m not in a great position to do the chipper “Hey folks!” beginning of instance chatter. I’m too busy making sure I have the right aura, the right seal, buffing everyone (Is there a warrior? Has anyone yet bitched at me to GIEF KINGS PLOX? so I can deliberately skip them?) and so I miss that golden opportunity many times apart from saying hello. I tried to see if anyone else had written about how to get people to talk in heroics (I feel like HoTs&DoTs did but I can’t seem to find the post, unless I’m mistaken). I did, however, find an article on ehow.com, “How To Get Someone To Talk Without Asking Them A Bunch of Questions.” I’ve edited it to apply to a pug, here for your convenience in three easy steps.

Step 1: When you know a pug is bothering someone, don’t start by asking them a bunch of questions. Instead try this, but only after you have memorized it (why not macro?)

Step 2: You say: I love you, pugger, and I know something is really hurting you, and I care enough about emblems to know what is really bothering you. Do you realize that if you won’t make chit-chat with me, and share with me when you plan to pull and what drugs you’ve made use of today, then I’m going to have to guess, and then write about you on my blog. And if you make me guess, I’m going to be a real human and guess negatively because, see, we humans never guess positively. We always assume the worst. And if I guess negatively it’s going to hurt our relationship, pugger, and I don’t want that. It’s going to make people on the internet laugh at you. We’re going to be spending the next twenty minutes together, depending on how much HP the tank has and how quickly he can pull. But I love you, pugger. The only question you have to ask me is, “Do you?”

Step 3: Once you ask  ‘do you’? turn and walk away to the other end of the pug, or drop group! You DO NOT WAIT FOR THE ANSWER (not my caps). You’ve already told the pugger that you love them and care for them and you don’t want to guess why they won’t talk to you, but by walking away you’re giving them the space they need. They can look at the symbol beside your party portrait and think about what it means, that little life-giving plus sign or that stabbey knife or stalwart shield. They may burst into tears or call you a lunatic, after they’ve had space and time to think about what they are going to say. You can say this to adult or children puggers, but children shouldn’t be pugging. But they do.

Tips and Warnings: Don’t get into any pugger’s character’s face. Don’t act like a know-it-all, don’t flaunt your gearscore. Let puggers have their space. The pugger may burst into tears, let them. If they want a hug, they’ll let you know.

Alternatively, you could try to start a conversation about something else, but doing the above is guaranteed to get pugs talking! Probably not to you, possibly about you, but at least it’s something.

So how about you? Do you have any way to get pugs to talk? Do you just not bother, or maybe just not care? I’m going to be making more of a concerted effort to get folks to talk a little, but paladin healing doesn’t favour this, at least it didn’t at my initial gear levels when I had to actually, you know, heal people. I’m used to being a druid – hot, hot, hot – chat, hot hot… But heroic running has gotten smooth enough that I can generally afford to swap out my healing sword for my one-handed axe and level the skill on the trash mobs, so I can probably strike up a conversation while I’m at it.

The ICC Blues

Blues I: I Could Have Sworn There Were Two
It all started because I wasn’t scheduled to raid Icecrown that night. I was looking forward to an evening of pugging heroics for emblems, so I was online with Vid – must have more emblems! Our priest healer had said he was going to be twenty minutes late. One druid was also running a bit late. “You know,” I said coyly, “I know this paladin that could help, if you were just going to do the trash with nine anyway…”

“Were you serious?” the raid leader whispered me. “Sure,” I told him, “If nobody minds.” And so it was that less than a week after hitting 80, I crossed the threshold into ICC.

“Agh,” the paladin tank recoiled. He’s the obsessive GearScore guy, I’m half-convinced that he could recite from memory the GearScores of everyone in the guild. I don’t run the mod myself, but I humour him. “It’s terrible,” he cried. “The gear, it BURNS.”

The raid crowded around to inspect me.
“Nice blues!”
“BLUES!”

“I’m only wearing two blues,” I told them defensively. I was pretty proud of how I’d managed to gear up so far – I felt awesome with my Seethe, hit or no hit. I’m all fancy and wearing plate, with a shield and everything. Honest to goodness plate! I do have a few stubborn blue pieces I haven’t been able to lose, though. Boots, and gloves, belligerently refusing to drop out of ICC. I feel that the other gear makes up for it, and try to forget about those errant pieces lagging behind. This is a pally that  just dinged 80 last Friday, after all! Give me a break. But the scrutiny was intense.

“Two?”
“Looks like three to me!”
“Three! She lies, too!”
“BLUES!”

I told them to shut up and pull the trash already. We made our way through the trash without incident…Did you know druid HoTs make pally heals pretty unnecessary on trash? Right, me neither, formerly! HoTs notwithstanding, someone blundered into enough of those skeleton guard traps so that we had two pairs of the things on each tank – again, nobody died. I felt that my blues acquitted themselves just fine. But soon we were staring down Marrowgar; we always do him on Heroic now. Perhaps a bit much for a newly dinged 80 paladin (with a grand total of three blues). I would like to say this story ends with us downing H. Marrowgar in an epic fashion, fresh paladin or no, but it doesn’t. Our priest healer came and I stepped out – I’d had a taste of ICC trash (yum) and wouldn’t presume to push my luck. I went and pugged some and replaced my blue pants (down to two blues, which means I’m not a liar after all).

Blues II: More Revealing Than Might Otherwise Appear
The ICC five-mans are great to get geared up, everybody knows this. But they only work if they’ll actually drop the things that you need. The scene; Halls of Reflection. The thing that I want… a plate chestpiece that Falric is supposed to drop. I’m dragging guildies along because they guarantee success, and some of their alts need gear anyhow. “Okay guys,” I tell them. “I need you to do something for me now.”
They make sounds of listening to whatever insane thing it is I am going to ask of them.
“You need to think some serious thoughts about chests.”
There is a brief moment of Vent silence before male voices begin to chime in, “Uh-huh,” “Right,” and “We can do that.”
“No, I’m serious! If you all think about chests hard enough, maybe we can influence the loot.” They don’t seem to have a problem with this.

We’re killing the trash, and it’s going swimmingly. I have high hopes for Falric, when I see the loot rolling window pop up.

Oh, the laughter, as everyone saw what the trash had dropped: a Bulge Concealing Breastplate. Har har, RNG, I see what you did there. You’re having fun at my expense. Because I made a breast joke…and you made sure it was a blue, too.

What did Falric drop, you may ask? His Wrist-Chopper aka Tanking Axe. Stop giving me tanking loot, you can’t make me do it.

Blues III: Don’t Judge A Paladin By Its Colour
Tonight, after we’d worked our way through two wings of heroic ICC (Plague and Blood, not that it really matters) we had just a little time left in the raid and didn’t want to start on Valithria tonight. We’ve been working at getting Ulduar achievements for a few people still needing fast drakes, so it was proposed that we go and kill a few bosses there and extend the ID for later.

“You know, I’ve heard about this paladin who’s never been to Ulduar…” I began.

“BLUES!” the cry went out.

Sure, bring her, my generous guild assented. Why not? I explained to the other two druids (two thirds of our personal forest) that I had only a viable healing spec – not yet enough gear for ret, and no spec for tanking. One of them would have to go DPS. One druid went to Dal to get his DPS gear…finding, unfortunately, that he seemed to have misplaced his pants. (See, Tam? It’s not just us, it must be something going around, some overzealous enchanting impulse). Anyway, he came back and we moved on. We had an ID where Flame Leviathan had already been cleared, so we went straight to XT. I was having fun, healing people, our mage kited a mob around, bombs were exploding, much enjoyment ensued. The fight ends up actually taking longer now than it used to because we have to hang around, making sure not to kill his heart and trigger hard mode.

Kologarn was up next, and he seemed a little trickier. Honestly, for XT I’d been finding the same thing. It was like healing an intense sort of pug. There are two rows of health bars instead of one! On Kologarn, I had to dodge an eye laser beam and found the tank’s health dipping alarmingly low. No problem, I healed, he stayed alive, I stayed alive, dodging repeating eyebeams and the like. As always, I had my trusty phoenix pet by my side. I don’t heal without him now. So Kologarn was a bit intense, but it was okay.

We finish him and we’re standing near the trash in the next corridor. I think, “I hope I’m doing okay, I’d better check the healing meter, I’m sure our druid is blowing me out of the water.” She is incredibly good. I look at the meters and frown. “Is it showing only the current fight? That’s strange… My healing seems pretty high, and the second person behind me is the ret paladin – it must be glitched or something.” I look more closely. The healing meter doesn’t show healing done by any druids at all. I look around me. There’s a boomkin standing by. There’s also a cat.

“Druids,” I say hesitantly. “Is either of you…um, were either of you healing?”

They weren’t.

One hurriedly switched back to a leafier form for Ms. Crazy Cat Lady, while I laughed my ass off. “HOW DO YOU LIKE THOSE BLUES NOW,” I crowed, “They just solo-healed XT and Kologarn.”

“You solo-healed a 40 second fight,” the hunter agreed.

“Kologarn was one minute and twenty-six seconds,” our mage countered, ever precise.

Fury warrior, listening in on Vent but not in the raid advised, “You guys had better wipe on this next fight, you know, or she’s never going to shut up about this!”

He’s right. And I know, my super-geared ICC raid group could probably have done those fights without any healer at all. They may overgear the fights by quite a bit, but I don’t. I still have two blues, after all. So that’s Vid’s new nickname, apparently. Blues, or Blue. Somehow after tonight, I don’t much mind it after all.

The Odyssey

Once upon a time, there was a young paladin. She followed in the footsteps of previous paladins – ghosts of paladins who never made it past level twenty; deleted, forgotten. But such paladins had existed before the miraculous wonder of the Looking for Dungeon tool! This paladin could be a healing paladin. It would be convenient for her. After all, she had a healing spell, didn’t she? The day was December 11th. At level seventeen, she rolled up to her first instance, bright and shiny with heirlooms and all ready to employ her single healing spell. She wended her way through Wailing Caverns, and left some bodies in Deadmines.

Taking Gnomeregan by storm.

She remembered that she probably ought to have some glyphs for doing this, and met her first LFD jerk. “Because I’m the tank,” he said, “and I can do whatever I want, that’s what being the tank means!” (No wonder you all want me to try it…) This paladin killed some wolves, and some prisoners, and just a few irradiated gnomes. Some people wondered why she would level the way that she was leveling, and she had some answers for them.

She did it because she likes people, amazingly (yes, even still!); because she wanted to level an alt differently than all her other alts before. Soon her mission to do so found her healing Scarlet Monastery Graveyard, unfortunately, she did this forever. No, really, she’s still there. A part of her is still there, anyhow.

She met the world’s most foolhardy mage. Who attacks with an AoE fire spell in a library? Come on now. “You shall not defile these mysteries,” no worries there, buddy, you’re going to send them up in flames first! Reckless shenanigans, I tell you.

I think she's going for a Wonder Woman look.

This paladin started to keep track of her beverages. Unfortunately, running with tanks not wearing pants continued to drive her to drink, if you know what I mean. Her ultimate average ended up being about 8.9 beverages per instance, for a total of 1345 drinks on the way to 80. That’s a lot of rest rooms, that’s all I’m saying.

At this point, before level forty, the paladin had already begun to consider some of the drawbacks of exclusive LFD leveling. They definitely exist. It wasn’t until she obtained a fast mount and Crusader aura that she picked up many common flight points. When she did reach level forty, she confused the Scarlet Monastery lady not wearing pants with Noth, and ruminated about how other plate wearers got to wear plate when they hit forty. This paladin wore very little plate until she went to Outlands – which was still an improvement over wearing very little, believe me.

She was afflicted with an uncommon amount of warlocks at one time. (Har, you see what I did there?) Then her queue times began to add up, and she started to wonder if she’d chosen the right path. While wondering this, she wiped a group in Maraudon. She also learned how to spell “Maraudon.” (It’s Mare-au-don, that’s how I remember it, which isn’t actually the correct way to say it but it definitely starts with Mara.) By the time she’d figured out how to spell Maraudon, she was already doing Sunken Temple, trying to coordinate Blessings with other paladins, and trying to convince groups to kill Hakkar.

At some point, the paladin fell off the pug wagon. I had to stop here a moment and picture what ‘the pug wagon’ might look like, driven by hunters wearing greens they needed on (cloth, naturally), death knights death gripping elite mobs towards them, tanks without shields, with eighty warlocks crammed in the back, all life-tapping, while a mage Blizzards before the tanks have touched the mob. It made my hand shake a little.

Conveniently, it's not just Dwarven sized.

Amazingly enough, Blackrock Depths is enough to get aforementioned paladin back on this (shudder) pug wagon. She went, saw, conquered, and stole Dagran’s pants. She tried to be a Jenkins and failed, utterly and completely.

But wait, what’s this? It’s time to go to the Outlands? Our intrepid paladin had her first encounter with Hellfire Ramparts and Death Knights, and it left her speechless.

At least somewhere along the way, though, she figured out that her underwear goes under the pants. She also had more to say about Outlands, death knights, Hellfire, and hunters named Criticalsnot.

Oh, the shame.

Underbog was visited. Just a few times, amid confusion about who is the tank. A healing paladin just isn’t the same without a tank to call her own, and our paladin took some time to think about the relationship between tanks and healers. Fortunately that story had a happy ending, just at a time when the healing paladin was feeling least puggy, she found that a friend can make all the difference.

A paladin gets her wings, and meets a flirtatious death knight. She begins to pug through Northrend, finally, finally getting to wear actual plate. Along the way, a funny thing happens, a thing she hasn’t yet set down in words. Pugs begin to grow more competent. Less hilarity ensues. When she finally hits 80, it is with a mixed feeling of elation and disappointment. A whimper rather than a bang, even. Does the journey end here? Will she have nothing further to say? She thinks she’ll take a few days to mull it over, because surely the completion of any epic quest requires a suitably epic account. In the end, this account will have to do instead.

Pugging Pally By The Numbers

Time played – 8 days, 2 hours, 22 minutes, 10 seconds

Mana potions consumed – 65 (Most used: Lesser Mana Potion at 22)

Beverages consumed – 1345, wow, that’s a lot of water. Most of it was Filtered Draenic water (256). Apparently Outlands gave me mana trouble as my gear adjusted to the demands of new tiers of instances.

Food eaten – 48, food eaten most, Conjured Mana Biscuit. This paladin doesn’t eat unless it’s FREE, y’hear? Or unless I need to make space in my bag and have one singular talbuk steak or something.

Healthstones used – One lousy healthstone, thanks for nothing, pug warlocks!

Greed rolls made on loot – 488, this is for loot I sort of wanted but didn’t want to actually prevent anyone else from having if they wanted it.

Need rolls made on loot – 74 times I thought, “MINE!” (Probably not).
Disenchant rolls made on loot - 332, I guess leveling enchanting paid off after all.
Creatures killed – 23723, I have no basis for comparison, but it seems like quite a lot. 10,048 of them were humanoid, the most killed type.

Critters killed in the making of this blog – 557

Paladins killed in the making of this blog – 42

Total raid and dungeon deaths – 36, I’ll leave the missing six deaths up to your imagination, except to say that I can’t blame them on a pugger.

Total deaths to Lich King dungeon bosses – 1, it was Dalronn the Controller, which is actually pretty amazing when you think about it. Of the 36 times I died in an instance, only one occured in the Wrath instances. There`s a strong argument for increasing group competence, or else it’s my increasing competence.

Resurrected by soulstones – 1, probably the same warlock who gave me a healthstone…

Redeemed by paladins – 4

Revived by druids – 1, never rebirthed, incidentally.

Total 5-player dungeons entered – 151. This number is accurate, but also misleading at least as far as Wrath is concerned. I ended up questing quite a bit towards the end.

Lich King 5-player dungeons completed (final boss killed) – 39

Lich King 5-player bosses killed - 144

Lich King 5-player different bosses killed – 44

Lich King 5-player boss killed the most – Krik’thir the Gatewatcher (8)

Flight paths taken – 152, this seems low to me compared to other characters but I could be wrong.

Summons accepted – 1. The summoning stone is dead for LFD groups, why would you need it?

Mage Portals taken – 1, and it was a portal straight to Dalaran, baby. I’ve hearthed back there 85 times since.

Number of hugs – 3, you’d think with all of the pugging I would have needed more.

Total times LOL’d – 4, see above.

Total cheers – 34, I’m willing to bet almost every one of these was someone in an instance dinging, and I cheered at them instead of actually typing out “Congratulations,” because I’m a jerk.

Total waves – 6, I like to wave at bosses sometimes.

In conclusion, this is not the conclusion of Pugging Pally, however it may seem less aptly named from hereon. I’d appreciate if you’d all bear with me while I figure out what I’ll be writing about now, because I’m fairly certain there’s no danger of my shutting up any time soon.

I want to thank everyone who commented here to commiserate, help me find resources, and/or laugh at my expense during this adventure. I never thought people would actually read this, but amazingly you do. I have also to thank all of the awesome bloggers who linked to and encouraged me as I was starting out. The WoW blogging community is an incredibly warm and generous one; you’re all a huge part of what makes this so addictive and awesome to be a part of.

Other than that, I have one thing left to say today, okay, two:

A paladin reaches 80 in Halls of Stone, after running Halls of Stone, Oculus, Halls of Stone, in a spectacularly appropriate "crappy instance sandwich."

Now THAT'S a paladin! What do you mean, my sword has hit on it? Shaddap! No more wiener forks!