Category Archives: General Warcraftism

Because I like Mana Berry Delight.

Last December, I started what was just going to be a  little side project. It’s one of those things that… Well, it snowballed. I thought a few people might read my funny little pug stories. More than a few people have done so! I’ll admit that the first time I wrote here after I knew people were actually reading it I had a bit of stage fright. I’d open up that new post screen and stare at it. Fortunately, the adventures of LFD provided ample material to keep pushing me to write and get over it.

Once Vidyala “came of age,” I had many people asking if I was going to stop blogging. But I had the blogging “bug” by then, I didn’t want to quit! I kept writing about various Warcraft-related topics, some of them (but most of them not) related to paladins at all. Naturally people tend to assume that I play a paladin… Why wouldn’t they? It’s in the blog title.

Having a “project” for a blog was a fantastic idea for me, but it didn’t make the blog very livable or sustainable. Nowadays when I am trying to think of topics I am stumped because I keep thinking – this has nothing to do with pugging, and this has nothing to do with paladins. I haven’t even specced or glyphed poor Vid post 4.0.

I love blogging. But my paladin is an alt. I realized it was time for a change. (You didn’t think this post was going someplace SAD, did you?)

So, Manalicious was born! The idea is that (with something of a mage flavour, but without “mage” in the name) it’ll give me a place where I can blog to my heart’s content about anything that strikes my fancy. I play casters. I like mana. I like cooking things (and am, at heart, a mage, monarch of the created pastry!). Manalicious was my favourite cooking daily (no kidding) and so… It’s all very logical, you see. It will have more silly mage recipes, caster talk, achievements, lore, quests, raiding – all of the things I like. It’ll probably also have a Pugging Pally feature when Cataclysm has been out for a bit. Yes, I’ll level Vid through pugs, I am clearly a glutton for punishment.

I hope if you enjoyed Pugging Pally you’ll forgive me the hassle of updating your RSS feed and/or any blogroll links to Manalicious. I’m not going to actually take Pugging Pally down – it will stand as a testament to the brief period of PUG insanity I endured in 2009-2010, but I do expect that my writing from now on will occur over there.

In short: I’m not going away, just moving, and will be more active when I don’t have the paladin thing hanging over my head. I see this as a positive change. I’ll post one last “Redirect” post after this one so that people looking for me don’t lose their way. I hope to see you at my new digs! There’ll be cake.

Gallery

The Rhino Dog Conundrum

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I’ve got a few other posts in the works (I’m not dead, I promise!) but they weren’t going anywhere today and so this was the best I could do. Credit to my guildies for the idea, which came to me … Continue reading

A Week Of Pugs!

From the compendium of Random Drawings of Vid. She "fixes" things, when she's not breaking them. Or afterwards.

Good news, everyone!

I’m going on vacation! I’m leaving Sunday. In the meantime, some generous folks have offered to help me out with guest posts on the topic of – you guessed it – pugging!

I know I don’t necessarily write about pugging as often as I used to, but I’ve got a post lined up myself (not fair to have everyone else do ALL the work, after all).  There is going to be some great reading here. Some people have joked that they can’t wait for me to leave!

Here’s what you have to look forward to over the next ten days:

Sunday, Oct. 10th
Yours truly: Addicted To Pugs

Monday, Oct. 11th
Alas of Kiss My Alas: Alas’ Illustrated Guide to Why Pugs Are Evil

Tuesday, Oct. 12th
Apple of Azeroth Apple: Things Pugging Has Taught Me

Wednesay, Oct. 13
Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings: A Day In The Life Of A Pug Tank

Thursday, Oct. 14th:
Joe (He doesn’t have a blog, but it’s a great post): From Bad To Less Bad: Pugging As A Tool To Improve

Friday, Oct. 15th
Traxy of I Like Pancakes: Can’t Spell PuG without UP

Saturday, Oct. 16th
Zelmaru of Murloc Parliament: Stupidity Filter in Grid

Sunday, Oct. 17th
Anea (formerly of Obeying The Muse): A Brief Guide to Races In Pugs

Monday, Oct. 18th
Rades of Orcish Army Knife: Let’s Be Friends, When We’re Not Trying To Kill Each Other

Tuesday, Oct. 19th
Lara of Root & Branch: I’m Rolling Need On You

You Read That Correctly

Yes, Pugging Pally will have more posts while I’m gone than when I’m here. No, I don’t want to hear about it! I’ll still have sporadic internet access so I’ll be dropping in to comment and moderate, but play nice while I’m gone, and maybe take the time to comment and appreciate the hard work everyone’s put into guest posts for me.  I’m really excited to share them all. I tried to place them so that they flow fairly naturally from one to the other and the different angles people chose can contrast. It was like making a mix tape of awesome.

See you in just over a week!

Immersion

I’ve been slowly working away at the Loremaster achievement for my main, Millya. This is something I’ve spent time doing off-and-on since the beginning of Wrath. She’s actually not doing badly! Because she’s a tailor – I was one of the first folks back on my old server to have the Deathchill Cloak recipe – she already has Loremaster of Northrend.

Now I’m done with Kalimdor, and I have about 520/700 done for Eastern Kingdoms. Duskwood was a real find – I’ve gone through on other characters but Millya hadn’t touched it at all. I’m hoping it will be as easy. The problem with Kalimdor was that Millya leveled there and has done various other things – mostly what was left was odds and ends. There was little in the way of “Oh, I haven’t even been to this zone.”

I actually completed the Noggenfogger achievement for the first time on any character. I don’t know why – I think I’ve always dropped the chain at “The Thirsty Goblin” stage because I could never find that dew gland thing. So now I have finished it, and I can be a skeleton should I so desire. I add this to Millya’s repertoire of other shape-changing abilities. She does make a rather fetching blood elf, I think!

I think she looks sort of like Fyreuni.Only with different-coloured hair, naturally.

I took a break from Eastern Kingdoms to go and clear some quests out in Blade’s Edge Mountains last night and I’ve been struck by some differences between “old” Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend. Now, I haven’t conducted any comprehensive study in this regard so please feel free to add your own examples in the comments. Since I’m far from being perfect, I’m sure there’s things I have missed. However, in terms of immersion, it’s striking just how different Outland feels to me compared to Northrend and old Azeroth.

For example, I was at Toshley’s Station picking up some quests, when I noticed a disturbance at the other end of the little town. These Gore-Scythe Ravagers were just pouring up the hill. All of the gnomes in the area started pitching in to help as these monsters swarmed in and began to attack. I took a screenshot because it seemed like something exciting and memorable was happening.

We're under attack!

Since the quest chains in the area deal with some related things (Gnomish ingenuity,  launching me into the stratosphere, encroaching dangerous monsters) – it really made the area feel alive to me. These crazy gnomes really need my help. I don’t know how often the ravagers attack Toshley’s Station, but that’s part of the beauty of it.

Earlier in the evening, Vosskah and I were working on Ogri’la reputation. I had been checking wowwiki and had read something about an assault on Bash’ir Landing. He said, “Hey, this guy is saying something about an assault on Bash’ir Landing?”

“Let’s goooo,” I replied, “It must be happening right now!” We high-tailed it up to Bash’ir Landing to find swarms of various ethereal elites and other things moving in. A few Sha’tari Skyguard NPCs are conducting experiments there. As far as I can tell (obviously I didn’t do Ogri’la during Burning Crusade) the purpose of the NPCs is to purchase flasks and have other items made. Obviously, we don’t need any of those things, but I had a blast taking part in the event anyway!

The assault happens in three phases; initially there are just a few misty mobs meandering around. Some are elite, and some aren’t. Once you destroy towers that are there, it triggers the second phase. The two of us were able to handle the first phase pretty easily, but during the second it began to get hairy. More and more elite ethereals were spawning, Voss was zooming all over the place to pick them up, and I was trying to DPS them down. Once you’ve killed enough of them the Grand Poobah of Etherals spawns. I ended up dying in the fray, as did the NPCs, but Voss managed to finish that guy off.

From what I understand according to Wowwiki, the first phase was considered do-able by five people. The second phase “requires a Kara-sized raid group,” and the third phase “takes a raid group of 25.” Obviously that’s not true any more, and I doubt anyone would bother. The only tangible rewards from the event were an Apexis Crystal that dropped. But it was still exciting because something was happening! It had nothing to do with me as a “player” in the game, it was going to happen regardless, but I could and did influence the outcome. Obviously, it’s not something permanently world-changing. But it made the world feel more real.

Later, I was doing a quest in Blade’s Edge where one of the Ancients asks you to plant seeds. To my surprise and delight, planting the seed actually changes the landscape (with an accompanying creaking and cracking sound of sudden and abrupt tree-growth). I’m sure it resets after a time, but while I was around it was still evident.

I moonlight as Johnny Appleseed. Except it requires sunlight.

I love this stuff. I was thinking back, and off the top of my head I can remember a few other places in Burning Crusade where there are “unusual” or notable things happening. Every once in awhile, Honor Hold is assaulted by Legion forces. I remember the first time it happened, I really didn’t know what was going on! Were we going to be killed? This was back on an RP server and someone shouted, “Run for cover!”

You better believe I did! I ended up attacking some of the invaders after a few moments, but it was accompanied by a genuine rush of adrenaline. To a lesser degree, a similar thing is happening in Shadowmoon Valley. It’s less random and believable though because the NPCs are constantly engaged in combat with attacking forces… But in a way, that is believable. After all, it is one of the major strongholds of Legion influence. I’m eager to re-visit Shadowmoon Valley and see if there is anything else I’m overlooking there.

I can’t help but think – Wrath of the Lich King had many big, grand events. They used phasing technology for things like The Wrath Gate event and building the new Argent stronghold and other things. But those tended to be large, grand things that changed the world irrevocably – not small, random occurrences that added flavour. Maybe it’s just me, but I love those little things – if you are a Night Elf and have never done so, listen to the conversation between the Night Elf guards at Star’s Rest sometime. If you aren’t a night elf or can’t be bothered, I’ll just tell you about it. They are making fun of the Draenei there, Modoru, because of the robe he’s wearing! The first part of the conversation happens in Common, but they carry it on in Darnassian afterwards.

Sentinel Sweetspring says: [Darnassian] “Psst. Naohain. Why does Morodu still wear those ridiculous robes? He looks like some interdimensional bumpkin who stumbled out of Ammen Vale not six hours past.”
Naohain says: [Darnassian] “I… I do not know.”

What makes it even better is that you can purchase the exact Draenic Silk Robes from Hakmud of Argus with some fun flavour text. (All my draenei own and wear them with pride). Incidentally, interdimensional bumpkin? I resent that remark. This little interchange is one of the few times that Draenei are actually directly mentioned in this expansion – a story for another time.

Whoops, is this a fashion faux pas?

Even though it’s nothing attacking, it is a small way of adding extra “dimensions” to the world we’re all running around killing things in. I think some parts of Wrath were great for it, but I sincerely hope that Cataclysm has as many immersive elements as The Burning Crusade did. I can’t wait for the pre-expansion events! What things have increased your immersion on the game? I haven’t touched on “old” Azeroth as much, but I’m sure there are plenty I haven’t seen or haven’t thought of!

P.S. – I am diligently avoiding spoilers for the pre-expansion events and any other quest/lore occurrences in Cataclysm as best I can. I ask you to respect that in the comments – it’s been hard avoiding so many blog posts lately, and I know other people are excited (I am also excited!) But I like surprises. Thanks, I appreciate it!

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.

Gallery

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

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!

I know something you don’t know…

One mount is only the beginning.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been responsible for a rash of Trial of the Crusader 5-man runs on the Shadowburn battlegroup. It doesn’t sound like too horrible a crime, does it? I actually like the place. It has three bosses, minimal trash – so quite a few opportunities for vendored epics and enchanting materials.

That’s not why I am doing it, though. You see, I queue up for ToC every day (sometimes on more than one character) because I am chasing delicious Champion’s Seals. Since I’ve been spending more time pursuing “before Cataclysm” goals, I realized that I’ve been neglecting the Argent Tournament dailies. Because I like pets, and mounts. And tabards…did I mention tabards?

A quick mental calculation the other day was too depressing… Not counting any tabards at all, I’m going to need something upwards of six HUNDRED Champion’s Seals to get all of the stuff the Silver Covenant and the various factions have to offer.

That’s where ToC comes in. The dailies are great, and I do those too – and since I’m queuing as DPS, I have time to wait. I queue up for the run while I’m netting snobolds, hurling spears at a kraken, or whatever else.

What I hadn’t counted on was the interesting study in pugs it has been to queue for the same instance repeatedly many days in a row.

First of all, I am gaining a new appreciation for comparisons between tanks. Millya is an arcane mage, so her threat grows by LEAPS and bounds (when I don’t have my mage posse with me, which I do as often as I can, because, hello – have you seen the buff it gives mages? But I digress). So the tanks I’ve had have run the gamut. There’s been…

  • The one who said “Can someone else mark these plz I don’t remember”
  • The one who zoned in and said “this place? f*** me”
  • The one who apparently hadn’t found his swipe button and left my hapless moonkin to tank the rogue for a full twenty seconds, even though I sprinted towards him hooting and panicking so that he could get aggro on the thing until I went down in a heap of chubby feathers. There may or MAY NOT have been Starfall involved. That’s all I will say.
  • The one who gave me Vigilance and proceeded to be absolutely awesome. Her aggro was rock solid. I don’t think I could have pulled if I tried. As someone who has grown rather accustomed to the ominous KABOOM of encroaching threat on Omen, it’s pretty nice to just chill out and hit as hard as I like without fear. (By the way, whoever thinks DPS is “relaxing” and easy clearly had their Omen sounds turned off a long time ago, doesn’t run Omen, or just doesn’t care. DPSing can be really stressful for me with a tank who has trouble versus my threat. And no, it’s not always the fault of the DPS. Voss teases me about having my “Omen underneath Recount,” but I usually put it front and centre, right under my feet. If “Don’t pull” means just standing there for a good ten seconds not attacking anything, I’m fairly sure the “It’s not me, it’s you” adage kicks in.
  • The one who said to the healer, “How confident in ur healing are you?”
    “Pretty confident, why?”
    “I’m going to pull all of these”
    “…I don’t think you should.”

So I’ve had some really interesting tanks and groups. I’d gotten out of the habit of pugging much (on any of my characters) so it’s been fun, even if I am seeing the same instance each day. It seems that many people don’t like it, so I feel vaguely guilty. I’m sure that most of them are assigned ToC because I queued for it specifically, and for them it is a random. I never pipe up and tell them that, though.

Instead I say, “Oh look, it’s ToC! Hey, at least it’s a quick one!” Sometimes feigning ignorance is the best policy. (It’s only a white lie!)

With at least six hundred emblems to go, you can bet I’m not going to tell Moonrunner and its associated servers that they’ll be spending weeks in ToC on my account.

Two for the Price of One

Jaedia over at The Lazy Sniper just celebrated her one-year blogaversary! It’s a big milestone. To celebrate, she was offering blog prompts for anyone who asked. I asked for one, and this is what she gave me!

I’d like to know, what’s the nicest thing anybody has ever done for you? Something that has stood in your memory, perhaps it’s a gift, or a tip that changed your game, maybe somebody waiting for you to get home before they started a raid, anything that might have given you the warm fuzzies.

Needless to say, this was a fun topic to contemplate, especially coming on the heels of my admonition to give players a helping hand if you’re able to – it was enjoyable to think of the incredibly nice things people have done for me during my time playing.

Sight-seeing with a friend. This is relevant because it was one of the few screenshots I had of him. Maybe he's camera shy!

An inheritance

When I was still relatively new to the game – had been playing for less than six months, I had a friend who made the abrupt decision to leave the server. Not only that – he actually deleted his character. He and I had chatted a lot and were good buddies, so needless to say that first “Friend removed because character no longer exists” message was a shock. The mail awaiting me at my mailbox was an even bigger shock.

It basically said, “I’m leaving, thanks for being a good friend,” and had enclosed a variety of herbs, flasks, and other things he’d amassed in his travels –  as well as nine hundred gold.

You have to understand that to me, at the time, NINE HUNDRED gold was a fortune. It allowed me to train epic riding. I hadn’t figured out the auction house. I’d scrimped and saved just to get a regular mount at forty, and it was a big deal. That money – a paltry sum by today’s standards – enabled me to invest a few things in the auction house. But let me come back around to that.

When I actually received the letter, I was stunned and upset. It was nice of him to give me the gold, but I didn’t want the gold, I wanted my friend to be playing the game with me. This character was the character he used for slumming it with us Alliance folks – I knew his character’s name and server, Hordeside.

I knew what I had to do. I immediately rolled a low-level Tauren (it would have been easier to get the cash with another race but if you knew how much my friend loves Tauren you’d know that it was appropriate). I began to do quests and kill mobs with that Tauren, and then I slowly loped my way to a mailbox in Bloodhoof Village so I could send him a series of mails telling him that the money he’d sent had made me cry, but no amount of gold was worth him having deleted his character.

He was so surprised and touched that his leaving had upset me that much – that he contacted Blizzard and had them restore the deleted character. He made me keep the money. The irony is that later I went on to become a big auction house person and would routinely make money – while my friend, an avid RPer and all-around nice guy, preferred to spend his time talking to people and fishing. I hope he feels that I was able to repay his kindness and generosity once I had the means. You can’t put a price on friendship, in or out of game!

The first time I went to Kara, and my coordinating pink BC gear. I didn't care if my staff was a bit gaudy. It was MINE by gosh. I still have it!

And a wealth of knowledge

This next kindness is a little bittersweet, because the friend disappeared without a trace over a year ago. I assume he just stopped playing WoW or had to leave or what-have-you, but before he did I owe so much of the quality of my WoW-playing experience to him.

It all started with an innocent mage in The Underbog. I remember that day clearly, because it was the day I had learned about Recount. I downloaded it, I installed it. As a few folks have said since… there is no going back once you have some kind of damage meter. You could uninstall it, or close it, but you will always know that it exists and your entire mentaliy changes. Before that, I was blithely content with whatever paltry damage I was doing. I was casting spells, wasn’t I? That’s what a mage does, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure I had no idea what a rotation was, and was just happily casting whatever spells struck my fancy.

We were running with another recent friend, an ex-raid vet who’d re-rolled on an RP server for whatever reason. I’ll call him Otto. I pretty much fail at pseudonyms because… well, that was his name. Anyway, I don’t know why he’d rolled on our server, but he had – he was playing a hunter. And his hunter was out-DPSing my mage by a significant margin. I whispered him to ask him, basically, “How are you doing so much more DPS than I am?”

“Well, for starters,” he whispered back, “How often do you use your trinkets?”

(The answer was hardly ever, when I remembered. At least they were on a button, a button I no doubt clicked.)

“You need to macro them to an ability,” he explained. “I will show you how.”

So it began. Otto was the best DPS I’d run with, and I’m confident he’d be among the best even now that I’ve met many more awesome DPS. He showed me the ropes of DPSing, everything from server lag and speccing to aggro management. When my DPS was flagging in late BC, he suggested I try out Frost, and then took me to do dailies while I got used to the spec. He taught me about kiting. When I dinged 70, it was in a whirlwind rush of quests he’d helped me obliterate and the screenshot has him cheering in it. He took me to the Isle of Quel’Danas (henceforth known as the Isle of WTF) to initiate me into the mysteries of Being 70 and Doing Daily Quests.

When Wrath came out, he and I got into a VoA together with his newly-leveled Death Knight and my Mage, naturally. Two pieces dropped from Archavon: DPS DK Tier 7, and Mage Tier 7. We both won the rolls for the pieces. We were on Vent screaming and yelling our glee at each other. Even though he stopped playing, I still think of him often because I learned so much from him.

I can be Auctioning, and I hear in my head, “Pro tip: post them for as short a time as you can manage checking up on them, especially if you’re undercutting or being undercut.”

I think of him sometimes when I pop Invisibility and heave an exasperated sigh at my monitor and mutter, “I’ve been threat-capped this entire time!” (Naturally, not when any of my guild’s tanks are tanking, but sometimes in pugs).

When I spent two solid weeks in Alterac Valley PvPing to get enough honour to buy my fancy pink magestaff (better than anything from Kara), he was right there with me for a lot of it. He said, “I’ve never seen someone with 5K hp f*** so many people up.” I loved Alterac Valley.

He taught me to look at the game in unconventional ways, to push myself, and to always give as much as I can.

The other day we killed Patchwerk for the weekly raid quest, and I had to smile as I remembered him saying, “Let me test my DPS on your perfect environment standing-still target dummy boss, with raid buffs? Yes, please.” That one was for you, Otto.

He was an elusive fellow, so I don't have many screenshots, but this was one from (duh) a Winter Veil party. The best parties are ones where people turn into reindeer spontaneously.

Finally, I think this is too nice a topic to be isolated – I’d love to read about the nice things people have done for you, either in comments or posts if the spirit moves you!

Haves and Have-Nots

The first vestiges of Gearscore

I remember my very first instance with my very first character. It was my night elf priest, and it was a big deal! Voss and I had been leveling and leveled along with a druid for awhile. He said, “I’ve been thinking of getting some people together to go to Blackfathom Deeps.”

Long before the days of LFD, I had only read of this mythical place, Blackfathom Deeps. (Confession time: When we bought WoW, we also bought the printed WoW Guide. And the DUNGEON COMPANION. Because I wanted to prepare myself for the dungeons!)

We told him cautiously that it sounded like fun. I started gathering quests to go, but this guy disappeared for a few days, we ended up organizing our own run. Voss and I were both nervous. We didn’t really have much clue what we were doing. We were terrible newbies, but we successfully conquered BFD with our group of adventurers. One thing that I remember very vividly was a remark someone else in the group made at the beginning.

“Lol, you need to get better gear,” he said to me.

As it happens, I don’t remember what my gear was but I’m pretty sure he was right. I shamed him thoroughly though, by replying, “This is my first character.” I knew about the auction house, but I didn’t have much of value to sell. I didn’t have a “big brother” character to send my newbie gold, bags, or items. Most greens my level on the auction house were selling for way beyond my means, and all the herbs I picked went towards leveling my alchemy.

Still, that was a long time ago. Now when I level an alt, they level in style. They start out with bags quickly filled with animal parts and herbs, sometimes appropriate-leveled greens and definitely heirlooms, where applicable. I own pretty much every armour type of heirloom there is. It’s no secret that I like alts. But what happens when you start a character on a different server? It can feel like starting all over again from the beginning.

"I have just one question. What's in the crate?"

Depending on the kindness of strangers

I’m actually pretty fortunate in the fact that my latest alt obsession does have some heirlooms. When I faction-transferred my shaman, I sent her Hordeside on another server loaded down with cloth, herbs, and anything else I thought my Horde alts could make use of – including some heirlooms I bought with Stonekeeper’s shards and what spare emblems I had at the time. (My shaman has since become a draenei again, incidentally, but that’s a whole other story). So my mage has heirloom shoulders, an heirloom weapon, and one of the heirloom trinkets. She’s really not THAT poorly off. I didn’t leave her with any gold when I took the shaman away – I didn’t really think I’d play her that much.

Except now, I have the leveling bug, and she’s getting pretty close. Level 77! I try to log in each day to do a random and earn a few Triumph emblems, because she’s going to need them. There are things that you just need for leveling professions, and if you don’t have a means of providing them for yourself, you have to either buy them or hope someone will help you out.

It doesn’t help that her professions are enchanting and tailoring – pretty self-sufficient, I thought – she crafts gear that she wears, enchants it herself, and disenchants it when she is done with it. But it’s not great for moneymaking because I need all of my own enchanting mats. It isn’t until I need something that I realize how much I take my home network for granted. I have most of the professions covered among my plethora of alts. The ones I don’t have, someone in the guild definitely does. I am fortunate that Rades and his friends have been really helpful to me. One sent me a bunch of Frostweave he didn’t need, as well as some enchanting mats and DEables. Rades gave me some Armor Vellum to enchant so as to not waste my mats (also a means to make funds!)

A crazy (but nice) group of people on that server also took me to the Forge of Souls… at level 75. It was fun being in a place I had no right being, but at the same time I knew I was being carried. I don’t really like being carried, I like to hold my own – but I know that in this situation I often do need a hand. I can’t be too proud.

Secretly, in times of duress, Jikali hides behind her hapless water elemental.

You are more than the sum of your gear

So all of this to say, what? Feel sorry for me? Not even remotely! I’m having a lot of fun leveling a character who can’t lean on my others, or as Rades might say, she doesn’t have silver spoon syndrome. Somehow I find it fitting along with the lore of the Horde and other feelings I’m getting from the experience. Very little is handed to this troll, she has to scrape and save and eke by to earn her existence, but by gosh when she gets to 80 she’s going to have earned it!

She just learned to fly in Northrend the other day – and even though it’s slow flying, it’s flying! If I can get the mats together to make her a flying carpet she’ll be sailing on a rug in no time. I have no idea what she’ll look like when she hits 80, it sure won’t be anything like Vid did. Perhaps the RNG will favour her with drops. Otherwise I think I’ll be doing a lot of farming for crafted gear.

Meantime, if you encounter someone who:

  • doesn’t have heirloom gear
  • is leveling their first character (there are some tell-tale signs, things like asking questions that ‘everyone knows the answer to,’ etcetera
  • is playing on a server other than their own, that you know of
  • or even just doesn’t have awesome gear for heroics

Remember, sometime that person could be you! Help them out however you can, even if it’s just a few bags you’re able to make. Something that is a relatively small investment for you might be proportionately huge for them. Bags alone make a huge difference, and even twenty gold could be a fortune to a lowbie. I suspect my own friends of being too proud and accomplished to take gifts of gold, but have managed to foist a few other small things off on them. Perhaps not as much as I should, though.

Don’t assume that someone is a terrible player just because they don’t ding eighty with ilevel 245 and 264 crafted gear. So the tank has 23K hp…that used to be plenty for heroics. With a good healer, Vid tanked heroic Halls of Reflection with less than 30. Sure, the healer and I both had to work for it, and I’m sure it was more due to her expertise than mine, but it was okay. Give people a chance; you need to go to instances to get the gear in the first place, or the emblems to obtain the gear.

Playing on another server has been an eye-opening experience for me. I intend to be more generous on my server where I have an embarrassment of riches – I can’t forget my homely troll mage scrimping and saving to earn her ugly windrider. I think I actually sort of love the thing now, if only because I know I earned it!

A warm welcome! Actually, it was sort of cold. Because she's a frost mage, get...nevermind.