Monthly Archives: September 2010

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Fiery Gromsblood Soup

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Even mages can’t live on pastry alone! The last installment of “Cooking with Millya” dealt with cookies. This time we have something that can be eaten as a main course, or combined with a sandwich if just soup isn’t enough … Continue reading

The more things change

Purple dragons and pretty flowers are in no way misleading to the content of this post.

It took me some time to think about writing this – first, whether I wanted to write it, and second, how I’d go about doing it. It’s a strange topic with a lot of emotions tied up in it. It wasn’t a big deal, and it was a big deal – and it was somewhat freeing, and it was also an incredible downer. It felt like a kind of failure, and it also felt like one of those things you build up into being a huge thing and then it just isn’t.

About a month ago now (I’m just guessing) – our formerly strict tens guild decided to let our strict designation go. Earlier we’d made the decision to keep it when an in-guild vote yielded an exact tie. After a few more months of working our way through the “stale content doldrums,” the vote came up somewhat differently. The guild was overwhelmingly in favour of forgetting it, and so we did.

What’s funny about it is that it hasn’t effectively changed our gear at all. Most of us who hadn’t done so have poked our noses into an ICC pug to see what the fuss is all about. I didn’t win a lick of gear, and our pug wasn’t good enough to down Rotface so I didn’t even sniff the instant-drama magnet DFO. I personally enjoyed my brief foray into the larger version of ICC. Marrowgar didn’t really feel very different. Lady Deathwhisper felt much like the ten-man heroic version of her fight, except with more adds (and more tanks to pick them up, and more people to burn them down). I have to admit that I liked the 25-person Gunship quite a bit more. It really felt like a real battle with all the cannons lined up there and so many people flying back and forth. It’s an encounter that didn’t translate as well to the ten-man version.

My overall feeling was one of being underwhelmed, though. Of course, I was in a pug: somewhat disorganized and dysfunctional and not apt to succeed. I’m sure being in a great guild run is a different beast! It just reaffirmed for me that I am interested in tens exclusively, and I’m okay with that.

The guild has taken it in stride, and it’s business (time, har) as usual for us. Fsob made a joke about how we were now ranked 114th for progression on the server. Good news, guys, we’ve killed Marrowgar! Others were over the moon to be able to finally bring their many alts with achievements into the guild. That definitely helped me realize that it was the right decision at this point in time. With waning interest in ICC, it’s important that people can explore any options they feel like – an ICC 25 pug some night we aren’t raiding, or whatever. This became increasingly apparent was I’d hang around in trade, see a pug advertised – “They are looking for a mage!” and then realize that of course, I couldn’t go, and neither could many of my guildies. It started to feel like a weight.

The strict ten movement was an important one I still wholeheartedly support. I love being part of a group of people focused on tens, intent on proving that tens can be done in gear available from tens. If you don’t believe it, just ask Kae – her guild was the second strict ten in the world to down H LK recently!

I’m still all for that, and our guild will still raid tens exclusively come Cataclysm. Especially with the shared lockouts between them, this is going to be a non-issue for us. I feel that what we were aiming to achieve has been done – shared lockouts and shared loot is an open recognition and an admission from Blizzard that the way that tens scaled was unfair. Never again will people who like 25s have to farm tens just for emblems, or for a specific drop that isn’t available at their preferred raid size. Never again will I have to sigh and mentally adjust my DPS numbers and BiS gear “downwards” from what is recognized as “the gear” to have – because I know I can’t have that gear, can’t push those numbers, and will have to settle for what I can get my hands on.

As I have said before, it’s not about the gear specifically, it’s about parity. I think there are still plenty of people who want to raid 25s and will still do so. I sincerely hope it to be true that everyone can raid the size they want. I know some people really don’t like tens. I really don’t like 25s. Cataclysm has a place for all of us, and I can’t wait! I’m grateful that this isn’t a debate our guild will need to have again. No one will ever need to be restricted – we’ll all raid together. No one will be excluded from the guild because of what their characters may have done in the past. Maybe we’ll never be in the top ten rankings again with the growing popularity of tens, but that’s okay too. I believe we’ve accomplished what we set out to do in this expansion. Although we’re still working on H LK, we won’t be designated as a “strict” guild when we do it, and I am okay with that. Our contribution served its purpose – and we remain completely unchanged in essence and fact.

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Vows

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Five years ago today, I made a solemn vow. There aren’t many things any more that we vow about, if you think about it. You don’t tell your friend, “I vow I will help you in your epic moving quest!” … Continue reading

Places You Shouldn’t Learn to Tank, and My Nemesis

All of my characters generally feel that shoes are for sissies.

In my spare WoW-time when I don’t feel like working on Loremaster or other things for my to-be-main, I’ve been halfheartedly acquiring gear for my troll mage. I say “halfheartedly” not because I have a lack of desire, but because I get excited about it for a day or so – and then I run smack into LFD.

She’s slowly creeping up to an acceptable gear level, which is fine. Incredible magical devastation wasn’t built in a day, after all. I’m going to quote one of my guildies here, because I’m finding his observations to be true.

“Have you guys noticed,” he said, “That the people in LFD have gotten nicer? They’re incredibly nice.” (Brief pause). “They are terrible players. But nice.”

Yesterday I waited my 20-minute DPS queue out patiently. I’d done Direbrew, I’d done a random, and now I wanted to go to Forge of Souls. Happily, I zoned in. Nothing seemed amiss at first, except that the tank was a bit slow to get going. No problem; this gave me time to put up a refreshment table, set up my assist macro, choose a moonkin for Focus Magic, and then tap my two-toed feet. Once we finally started rolling, it became evident that our warrior tank was what I would politely call “new.” But hey, that’s okay! I eased off considerably on the AoE, made sure to silence the annoying casters in the first trash pack. It didn’t matter. The moonkin died. I died. The healer died.

Usually wiping on the first trash is something of a bad sign, but I didn’t say anything. The moonkin piped up in party chat, “I hate training new tanks.” I thought he was just being generally snarky, and was surprised when the tank didn’t reply. It was only as we laboriously worked our way through all of that trash that I clued into the fact that the tank, moonkin, resto druid and hunter were all in the same guild. Uh-oh.

“This tank has no idea what he’s doing and his guildies aren’t helping him,” I told Voss. “Stuff is all over the place. What would you do for this next trash pack?” Voss looked over my shoulder to point to one mob.

“Tell him to charge this one, and the rest will come to him,” he said. “At Bronjahm, make sure that he kites him away from the Soul Fragments.”

I passed this all on – not, I hope – in an obnoxious but a helpful way. Our prospects didn’t seem to be improving as we approached Bronjahm. I blinked in a moment of brief confusion. Our moonkin had gone resto. Spiffy.

Bronjahm with two healers was actually… okay. It took quite a long time, as DBM helpfully informed me when we finished, “Bronjahm down after five minutes, thirty-five seconds! Your last kill took one minute and thirty seconds.” Let’s just say that mana was an issue. I was starting to mildly resent these people for forcing me to compensate for lack of one DPS when it’s not as if my mage has super gear or anything, but I kept quiet. It seemed to be working.

We arduously made our way through the next series of trash packs. The hunter and I were doing what we could, but after all, we were only two. I had a sinking feeling as we stood in front of the Devourer of Souls. Was it even possible for us to pull this off?

Thirty seconds later I had my answer. The tank died about fifteen seconds into the fight. They battle-rezzed him. He died again. This is with two healers, mind you. The hunter was the next with aggro and he died, and kiting didn’t last too long for me. I died, too. At this point, in exasperation, I asked Voss to take a look at his armory to see just what this warrior’s deal was.

A strangled sound came from across the room, as I am navigating my ghost back to the instance. “What?” I ask Voss wearily.

“He’s wearing pants from Shattered Halls,” he replies. “And his gloves are ilevel 100… And his tanking weapon is the Tankard of Terror.”

“Defense? How much defense does he have?”

“…475.”

Meantime, in party chat the moonkin has gone on to say, “Soz, like I said, new tank.”

Now that I have some idea of what’s going on with this guy (you know, his BURNING CRUSADE gear) I reply, “Do you really think that H Forge is the place to learn?”

The hunter says, “Better harder than easier.”

Miraculously I manage to bite my tongue on what I think about that, as the moonkin goes on. “It’s OK, we’re getting him an elixir of defense so he won’t be one-shot like that again.”

An elixir of defense, oh, be still my heart. Never mind that even with it he’ll still be crittable. At this point, I am committed because we killed the first boss. I want loot from the last boss very badly so I’m obliged to stick it out and hope by some divine intervention we’re actually able to kill this boss.

Astoundingly, our tank lives about twenty seconds in, give or take. It seems the two healers are doing okay healing him up until the point where Devourer begins to do his laser beam wall of death thing. The tank stands in it and dies.

Fortunately for him (and me) he has not one but two Rebirths at his disposal. During one of these deaths I am killed, and we’re left counting on the hunter to finish it off. He does, and they resurrect me. I am extremely happy because the Arcane Loops of Anger dropped, and that’s what I had wanted.

I am less happy because the entire run took an hour. It’s an instance with two bosses. It should be the quickest of the ICC heroics. Because I am polite, I thank them for the rez and then leave the group. (You’ll notice I didn’t say “group,” even though I did get loot from it).

The thing is, I am not impatient with tanks who are learning, tanks who are new. We all have to start somewhere, and we’re all new sometime. But there is “new” and there is “How did you even get into this instance with such a frightening lack of knowledge and gear?” Unlike Lara, he was not prepared.

I actually don’t know the answer to that question – I thought that the ICC heroics had gear requirements. I should clarify, I don’t have a problem with running your under-geared friends through instances. I think that’s okay. But when you intend to do that, you should do one of two things:

1) Bring five guildies. Not four. Don’t inflict your friend on unsuspecting puggers. Nobody deserves to spend an hour clearing an instance that ought to take half that time – because you think it’d be best for your friend to learn the basics of tanking in some of the hardest heroics that exist. It’s presumptuous, and it’s rude.

2) If you can’t find five guildies to run Mister Just-Dinged 80, have him assume a less critical role. I’d be far less grumpy about carrying a fury warrior while someone competent tanked, and pretty much nobody cares about off-spec rolls for gear (so long as the person tanking doesn’t need it).

After the Forge of Souls shenanigans, I queued again and joined a friendly group for Pit of Saron. This one was going generally without a hitch, until I saw him.

My sworn enemy.

The horror!

He’s everywhere. It seems somehow fitting that he is also a rogue. Just when you least expect it… BAM. COMIC SANS. (If you don’t get the joke the link above will probably be enlightening).

A few of my favourite things

Having fallen frightfully behind in any kind of regular posting schedule, I decided that the best thing would be to write something, anything. The good folks at Blog Azeroth are always fantastic for coming up with shared topics, and this week’s was suggested by Relevart at Relevart’s Druid Reliquary.

It is a very broad topic open to interpretation that asks, “What was your favourite ____ in Wrath of the Lich King?” I’m going to tackle it in a bit of a categorical way.

Quest
I didn’t have to think too hard about this, truthfully. My favourite quest series in Wrath of the Lich King begins with A Tale of Valor – you pick it up from Tirion. Warning: Pretty major quest spoilers follow, if you haven’t done the quest. It begins:

Perhaps you’ve heard the praises for our missing hero?

Crusader Bridenbrad was in the Broken Front aiding the attack against the Scourge when the undead army came down upon them. The many men of that allied force scattered, but Bridenbrad alone returned and dragged more than a dozen men to safety, one by one through the carnage.

He has not returned since. He was spotted heading to the far northeast, towards the Silent Vigil. Bring him back to me that I might honor him for his valor.

It turns out that Bridenbrad hasn’t died, but is also not entirely well. He’s battling the Scourge’s plague, knowing that when he inevitably does die he will rise again as the very enemy we’re all sworn to oppose. You’ll undergo extraordinary measures to try and save his life, and have an interaction with many major powers in the world while you’re doing it. I think it’s the only quest that has ever actually made me cry. Each of my characters have done it, and at the conclusion I always take a screenshot. It was only when I was going through my screenshots folder that I realized I had so many different Bridenbrad ones.

I have heard some people didn’t like it – but I think it’s worth doing at least once, if you haven’t!

Most recently, Jikali hangs out with a talking chandelier.

Raid
Ulduar was my favourite raid in the expansion, and again there’s very little contest. Unfortunately we joined Business Time fairly late – and I feel that ToC came too close on the heels of Ulduar, but that’s a topic for another time – so for many of the fights we have only experienced the hard modes.

Charles over at Planet of the Hats wrote a really interesting post a few weeks ago touching on just what made Ulduar so great. He said it better than I could, really. For me, Ulduar was awe-inspiring. It’s also the location of what I consider to be my first true and significant raiding accomplishment. My first raid with my tens posse was hard-mode Mimiron, more commonly known as Firefighter. I had never done Mimiron on normal mode. I’d watched the hard-mode video multiple times and written down notes. I really didn’t want to botch it.

During the weeks that we were working on Firefighter, it really became clear who was committed to spending time wiping on something that really wasn’t easy. (Not the guy we caught raiding on an alt with another guild at Firefighter time when we were short on people, and not others who suddenly started to be “mysteriously” unavailable for raids when Firefighter was on the menu). It took us one hundred and twenty-one wipes before we had our first Firefighter kill. The excitement on Vent when we did was overwhelming. Everyone erupted in cheers and it felt awesome.

I’ve enjoyed the challenges that ICC has to offer, for the most part, but the model of “boss hits for x amount harder” model of hard modes is not as interesting and engaging, I think, as the encounters in Ulduar were.

Accomplishment
Algalon! I loved this encounter. Even with vastly improved gear, Algalon does not die easily, and the associated lore and environment are amazing and incredible. I get a wave of dizziness every time the encounter starts and then an adrenaline rush of “IT IS ALGALON TIME.” I love his calm, measured voice and the celestial surroundings – along with the fact that you had to really work to get to him by doing all of the hard modes and earning a key, Algalon is simply awesome. I remember reading over at HoTs & DoTs when Lathere and Cass were first starting on Algalon. At the time, I thought: This is a fight I simply won’t see. Along with the hard-modes they were doing, it just wasn’t in the cards for the guild I was with. I was wrong! Even if I did kill Algalon technically long after he was “relevant,” I’m proud of the work it took to get there.

Your actions are illogical.

Item
Given my answers above it’s probably not going to come as a huge surprise that my most prized possession is my Rusted Proto-Drake. I’d never had a 310% mount before, and frequent character switches had ensured that the violet one achieved through holidays was out of my reach. It’s also my favourite proto-model. (I didn’t used to like their funny vestigial arms but they’ve really grown on me). I just think he looks awesome and I’m proud to fly around on him. I can’t look at him without remembering what we had to go through to get this mount – he truly represents the culmination of many Wrath highlights for me.

After all that fuss, I haven't even named him!

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Tuesday Art Day: Gale, The Argent Champion

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You may all remember that awhile back I had a paladin fashion contest! Well, the prize was art, and I’ve been busy working away at getting things done for the contest along with my usual work. I only have time … Continue reading

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Unconjured Cinnamon Bun Frost Cookies

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This is a guest post of sorts, kindly written for me by my resident mage, Millya. You’ve heard about how I’m really only a sometimes paladin, right? Millya likes to make pastries, and so when I heard that Angelya was … Continue reading