Tag Archives: altoholics anonymous

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.

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.

Chowing down on a bit of stormcrow

I’ll admit it up-front and with absolute sincerity: you guys were right. I wrote a pretty bitter entry last week about how pugs were getting me down; but as with many things it’s usually a safe bet to look at your own actions and attitude before deciding the problem is somebody else.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – the quality of pugs at eighty has been variable. There are jerks out there, it’s just that sometimes they are me. Or more likely to be Voss (just sayin’). Anyway, experimentally the other night when I was having trouble sleeping, I started queuing up for pugs on each of my characters in quick succession. It went a little something like this:

Utgarde Keep: Forget the strudels, have some humble pie.

After writing that last blog post about my beloved characters, I’ve had renewed mage interest. I think It’d be nice for Millya to nab the luscious four-piece mage set bonus before the expansion ends. So I queued her up, and to my surprise the wait wasn’t even that long, soon I was alongside some other good folks in Utgarde Keep. I wasn’t off to a strong start when I found that I couldn’t cast Arcane Brilliance. What the heck, why not? No reagents. It didn’t even make sense, because I’m of the school of preparedness that never has me leave home without a stack of at least 100 of the things. No matter, I just cast the single buffs. But whoops, what’s this? I hadn’t realized I was in Frost spec. Well…Frost is nice for heroics, it won’t be a problem, right?

It wouldn’t have been a problem, except that I’d forgotten a key detail. Frost is my all-out, balls-to-the-wall PvP spec. I remembered this to my chagrin as the tank skirted by a pack of mobs to continue on to the next corridor… Speak (my beloved water elemental) was not so happy to do so. I saw him go charging by and my heart sank. Oh crap… he was set to aggressive. I like him to charge around and attack everybody, you know – when I’m in a battleground.

Wearing only a thin bit of cloth and whimpering, I blinked down the hallway hoping that the tank would notice the pack of angry Vrykul chasing us. Fortunately for me, he did, and we killed them amid my abject apologies. I don’t think the tank was too mad, because he just said “heh,” and that was all that was said the whole instance. The rest passed without incident; I switched back to Arcane mid-way through, actually did decent damage, and finished up. That’s not a knock against Frost mages, incidentally. It’s just that my Frost spec is very PvP-centric, so it can’t put out the kind of numbers I can with Arcane. It was only later when I went to check my mail, incidentally, that I found out what had happened to my arcane powder.

In a fit of summer inventory cleaning – I’d put it on the auction house. I’m still shocked that nobody wanted it!

This is my mage being fearsome.

Violet Hold: So you’re healing, right?

Next up I queued my super moonkin, Shae, for a heroic. I chose only DPS because it was late, and I didn’t really want the responsibility of healing. I joined the group happily as the load screen for Violet Hold came up. Great, Violet Hold! I love this place because my Starfall can’t accidentally pull extra mobs. Not that I would ever do that.

The only aberration as we zoned in was the night elf with the little plus sign next to his portrait. A priest, okay then. He looked sort of…shadowy, for a healing priest. I figured that he intended to drop shadow form and throw out a few heals when necessary, and so I didn’t question him. A few portals in, though, I was starting to wonder. Most of the group was at half health, the tank was even lower. I dropped moonkin form to HoT us all up, and then went back to DPSing. As the instance went on, I realized that he had absolutely no intention of throwing a direct heal, ever. (This was borne out by the stats at the end – all of his healing was Vampiric Embrace healing).

Granted, he still did quite a bit of Vampiric Embrace healing. More than I did with my direct healing. But as healers know, it’s not just how much you healed but rather when you healed that matters. I suppose I could have bitched at him. Frankly, I think queuing as a healer in order to nab a quick queue when you aren’t actually healing is pretty lame. But I wasn’t in the mood for an argument, so instead I took it as a personal challenge. I wanted to do the maximum amount of DPS, while still keeping the group alive. I managed both goals; as we finished Violet Hold a little while later. I mopped the floor with his DPS and I’d been healing. Nobody died, DPS was done, and Frost emblems were collected. It was actually one of the more fun heroics I’ve run in awhile.

This was the best moonkin screenshot I had in my folder: moonkin jousting. Because that's just how we roll.

Then for a final bit Reflection (Halls, that is).

Commonly accepted as the place where many pugs go to die, it’s the instance that Vidyala heals the most. I guess it’s because her gear is good enough (I’m not sure exactly how the LFD system works) and that many people queue for it specifically because of loot they want. So when I say “I’m willing to heal something at random,” someone else out there is saying, “HoR please.” I joined the group to heal (even though I just said that I hadn’t wanted to heal as my druid) primarily because I’m more comfortable healing with Vid than DPSing. The group consisted of another paladin tanking, a warrior and a mage in charge of the DPS. I’m sure there was another DPS there… but I can no longer remember who they were. They didn’t say a thing the whole time!

The pally tank, on the other hand, made sure we knew exactly what he wanted. “Get in the corner please,” he said. Obligingly, we all filed into the little alcove and crowded into the corner as we waited for the first trash. The trash continued with no problem. I’ll be honest here, I love healing HoR. I don’t think any amount of gear would make it boring. There’s never a time when I can sit back, relax, and stop healing. It was great! I even like fighting Falric. When I was first healing that fight at eighty it gave me hives. Now, I like to see that I can fill those green bars back up to 100% even though the healing/damage reduction debuff is increasing all the time. Even the fear that he does isn’t quite so nerve-wracking; it used to bring me within a hair’s breadth of death.

After we killed Falric, our intrepid tank said “CORNER,” and then “SORRY CAPS,” and I had to laugh. I told him, “Tank, you’re making me feel like my dog.” (“Go lie down! No, over there. Do it nowwww.”) The group laughed, but the tank remained firm. The corner was the place to be. After we’d killed more interminable trash waves and Marwyn, the tank paused to tell the mage (I think they were friends) what to expect from the next part. He concluded ambiguously with “experience a bitch.” As we were killing the next trash, the warrior yelled “BLADES OF LIGHT.” Again I laughed and asked him about it, and the ensuing conversation took us through the chase scene. He said, “It’s like Herod!” I asked him if it was a macro or did he just yell it when the mood struck him. He told me it was a macro with Bladestorm but only when he also popped his trinkets and some other ability, because he didn’t want to be spammy or anything. I only saw him yell it once during the instance, which means 1) he’s succeeding at not being spammy, but also 2) bad DPS! think of all of those wasted trinket opportunities.

Unfortunately there was no useful loot for either the mage or our warrior, but we parted with friendly exclamations on all sides.

I actually had this in my screenshots folder. I'm not sure why.

So, just a quick recap. In the first pug, I was the doofus. In the second, compensating for someone being something of a doofus was quite fun, and in the third everyone was nice, it went very smoothly, and no one was a doofus. Maybe it’s the difference in attitude (mine), maybe it’s that pugs are meant to be experienced purely as a “true” pug – no guildies, friends or relations, just you and four random strangers. All I know is that I had a good time, and I haven’t begrudged the time spent in LFD to pick up extra frost emblems for the past week or so at all.

What’s my main again?

I started playing WoW as a priest. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d played healers in other games, I liked the idea of being a “support” person, and everything I read about the various classes suggested that priests were the healers. If you were going to be a healer, be a priest!

My priest lasted until about the mid-40s. We had a group of people we grouped with regularly at the time. They consisted of: a prot warrior, a prot paladin, a holy priest, another holy priest, and an arms warrior.

Oh, we were bad. I mean, none of us really had any idea what we were doing, except that everything we were doing took an eternity. I fostered a dislike of Sunken Temple that stems from that time. There is no instance that should take five hours to run. (I’ve since learned, naturally, that it was “smite” DPS that led to this phenomenon. I actually like Sunken Temple now.) But I’d had enough. There was no need for healers, and in the guild we were in at the time there was an abundance of them at max level as well. “We need a real DPS class,” I declared. “I’m making a mage.”

There’s no business like H2O business

I'm conjuring mana strudel!!1!

And so Millya was born. I took to maging like a fish to water (or something burning to…something else burning, if you prefer). I leveled her in less than half the time it had taken me to level the priest. She ripped solo through every zone she went to with no trouble. I loved it.

Mil was my raiding character through the end of Burning Crusade, what I raided of it. She was my first character to eighty without hesitation once Wrath came out. It was only once she was at eighty that there was trouble in paradise. We never had enough healers to field runs, even five-mans. I had actually leveled my priest to seventy in my spare time. She was sitting there; getting her to eighty wouldn’t take much time.

I set my beloved mage aside to help out when it was needed, and I have nobody to blame but myself! No one forced me into it, I made a conscious decision. So it was that the first raiding I did in Wrath – setting foot in Naxxramas – was as a priest. I later replaced the priest with a restoration druid, but the decision had been made. Millya had become an “alt.”

I still stubbornly clung to her, though. She was my chef character, my fishing character, my mount collecting character: the character I would play whenever I had a spare chance. I maintained her gear level with emblem gear. If I hadn’t done so, I never would have had the opportunity to transfer servers and join our current strict ten guild as a raider.

It was glorious! There hadn’t been a mage in the guild in a long time, so everyone marveled at strudels, portals, bonus intellect. I loved raiding as Millya again, trying to do the best DPS I could. I finished off Ulduar with her, she who had barely seen Naxxramas – stepped straight into Ulduar hard-modes and never looked back. She was my Firefighter character, she earned a Rusted Proto-Drake. I raided with her through Trial of the Crusader, Trial of the Grand Crusader, and the beginning of Icecrown. But then a problem arose.

HoT like me

Starfalllll!

We’d lost a few healers, and we were always coming up short. Some encounters favoured two-healing, others we struggled with healing them and we felt that three might make the difference for a victory. Recruiting to allow for enough full-time healers to always have three would mean that we’d wind up having too many riding the bench. At the same time, a mage friend of mine had been looking for a new guild. Two mages wouldn’t be ideal, and I knew he was a really quality player.

What we needed was a hybrid – someone who could DPS when needed, and swap to heals in-between bosses. I’d raided in both roles. I knew that I could do it, and moreover I had the character for it, too. Changing mains to my resto/balance druid, Shaedre, was a no-brainer.

As a balance druid, she brought buffs that the group had previously lacked. Without a warlock we didn’t have 13% additional spell damage. Her resto gear was actually superior to her balance gear initially, so I knew she could hack it to heal content when needed. Millya took a backseat while we went back and finished off Ulduar (we were late to the Algalon game, unfortunately), but still she is my Starcaller.

I mean this literally, because I gleefully wade into trash and cry, “Starfallll!” Shae is my current raiding main and I do love playing her. She’s the one with the Frostbrood drake, earned through weeks of ICC heroic-modes. She got extremely lucky and scored an Anzu mount shortly after we transferred to our new server, too. (Good omens!) When we down Heroic Lich King, she’ll be the one to do it. She’s my character that will finish out this expansion, no question. However…

The little pally that could

The goggles, they do nothing!

There’s this other character I have, you may know her a little bit. She started out as a lark that could basically be summarized by, “Can my patience surmount over 150 instances with pug people?” The answer was yes, but moreover writing about her adventures started this blog, has introduced me to so many awesome people and has been more fun than I could have conceived.

Since we’ve started our weekly alt runs, Vid’s been trotting through ICC happily, and I realized something. I really like paladin healing. Okay, I had a suspicion already, since I quite enjoyed levels seventeen to eighty via LFD. I mean I like it when I’m raiding, too. Suddenly the choice isn’t so clear any more. When Cataclysm comes, I’m not sure which character I’ll most want to experience it with. I suppose it will partly depend on how the classes are changed between now and then, and how it alters my enjoyment of them. (Huge hint: New moonkin art could quite potentially tip the balance. I can laugh good-naturedly, but sometimes being the raid group’s walking, squawking practical joke can get a bit old).

The drawback, though, is that I’m not nearly as comfortable (or skilled) at melee DPS as I am at ranged. A swap from mage to moonkin was pretty intuitive, but a similar swap to retribution wouldn’t be as much so. If I were to play a paladin, it would undoubtedly be as a healer primarily. I remember scoffing when Vid was mid-level, “Oh she’ll never be my main, etc.” You think I’d learn never to say “never.”

Ultimately, it’s going to depend on what the guild needs when Cataclysm comes out. Until then, I’ve had to reconcile myself to the fact that I can’t put too much effort into one character or get fussy about who achieves what and when. Some people have one clearly defined main that they wouldn’t even consider changing. I won’t lie, I envy that a bit! All your achievements and collections in one place is nice. At the same time though, I’ve reallly enjoyed all of the different classes and roles I’ve tried, and I think I’d be worse off for having missed out on them.

I will have to make a choice at some point – just hopefully not any time soon! I remember Cass writing about how her auditions were over. She knew who her main was going to be! I won’t spoil the ending, it’s worth the read. As for me, I suppose I have to admit that Millya’s probably not in the running, simply because she doesn’t have hybrid capabilities and I’m learning that I’m a hybrid at heart. I like being able to fill the role that is needed. For that purpose, a druid and a paladin definitely fit the bill.

p.s. – Big thanks to the generous and talented Loreli of AoD studios for the Vidyala post-it portrait above. I love it! The art for the other characters is my own.

Allegiance

My troll: no matter what else may be said about her, she has impeccable fashion sense. For a circus clown.

My predilection for draenei characters probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise here. Of the Alliance characters I have that are above level twenty, eight out of nine are draenei. I know. But I do have three Horde characters – two Tauren, and a troll. At some point I’d even faction changed my shaman and made her a troll, but I ended up reversing the change and transferring her back to my “home” server. (Blizzard makes a lot of money from people like me). Why did I end up reversing the change? I wasn’t playing her where she was… and I’d started leveling another draenei shaman because it felt strange not to have one.

The fire festival has proven to be a great opportunity to level alts, though, and due to a summer cold I’ve had plenty of time to commit to the mindless grind.  I chose to use the time to work at leveling my troll mage, taking her from level 63 to 69 in a few days. The bonus XP was fantastic, and I’ve been leveling through a combination of judicious questing and LFD. The queue times have been a bit longish – I’d say a half hour, on average – which was just enough to break up the monotony.

So having experienced the “pug scene” in Outland recently on both Alliance and Horde characters, what’s the difference? I’d say there really isn’t one. People of either faction are equal parts friendly or business-like or jerkish in approximately equal proportions. It has been refreshing to both revisit my mage roots and relax a bit. There isn’t much pressure on a mage in pugs, apart from “Water please” and “Can I have another stack of water?” I’m absolutely fine with playing vending machine and pumping out some DPS. I’ve been leveling as Frost because it’s a blast.

When I hit level 68 I was so excited – Northrend, finally! Not to mention, this is my first Horde character who has ever “leveled” this far. (Faction transfers don’t count). I remembered that Horde take a Zeppelin to Northrend rather than a boat. Alliance-side, I really enjoy Borean Tundra, so I went to Orgrimmar to catch the Zeppelin that goes there.

My first realization: I didn’t buy a Tome of Cold Weather Flight for this character back when I had an 80 on the same server and could have. Oops – it looks like she’ll be trekking her way across Northrend. But no matter, that was how the game was meant to be experienced, right? Something like that. Within a few minutes I was hopelessly lost in the area around Warsong Hold. Getting lost isn’t really new for me, but it’s something I suffer from particularly when I’m trying to play Horde. I’ve spent long minutes circling in Orgrimmar or traveling around the spokes of the wheel of Undercity… or just plain running into dead ends in Silvermoon. Horde architecture feels so aggressive and alien to me. Warsong Hold is definitely imposing, though, don’t get me wrong. It’s very grand. I don’t recall feeling that way when I went to Valiance Keep. Then again, I didn’t get lost there either!

So I thought, maybe you’re coming at this from the wrong angle. What’s Howling Fjord like from a Horde perspective? A quick portal to Undercity and another Zeppelin trip later and I was about to find out. Here’s where I hit my second stumbling block. Now, I’d had an inkling of this before. My mage was previously resting at level 63, and there’s a reason. I’d been happily questing through Hellfire when I got to Falcon Watch and encountered this quest, Source of the Corruption. Okay, an Apothecary planning something heinous isn’t really news, but the quest text stopped me in my tracks.

Uncorrupted draenei, like this unlucky fellow here, are virtuous champions of the Light. What corruption caused their great race to devolve into the Broken and Lost Ones?

I’ve heard a theory that exposure to fel energies is what caused the mutation. I would like to put that theory to the test.

He’s got a draenei prisoner next to him. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much of a leap of logic to figure out what he’s planning. I didn’t do the quest, although I hear that the draenei dies at the end of it, and I stopped leveling my mage then too. I know it sounds extreme, but the quest and its inevitable outcome really turned me off, and I dropped the mage cold. I know it’s silly, but I felt like a traitor.

Vid, who to the best of my knowledge has never force-fed something fatal to someone else. Just sayin'. Except a sword/axe/pointy object. Does that count?

It took me a few months before I felt like picking up my mage again. This time through Outland, I was really doing mostly instances. I didn’t do very many quests, and I was a happy troll, killing naga and whathaveyou.

Until Howling Fjord, and this quest: The New Plague. With this one, the Apothecary tells you that he needs you to retrieve samples of the plague that the Alliance had gotten ahold of. Okay, I think, remembering the Wrathgate sequence I’ve seen from the other side – well, you’re going to be using it any way so I may as well help you. That is, until I get to the boats where I can find the plague samples. The place is just swarming with Alliance soldiers, and by some perverse decision I don’t understand – most of them are draenei. You can all stop and have a laugh now at the notion of a Troll mage ducking and weaving her way in-between hostile Alliance mobs in a vain effort not to aggro and have to kill any of them. Lucky for me, the follow-up quest is even better – go and test the plague out by throwing it at their fleet! I kept questing here for a little while, and so I did have to kill them and hear that particular death sound that usually means, “You just let someone in your party die.” And I know that it’s bizarre, but I had a really hard time with it.

In fact, I sort of hated it. Other folks lately have been talking about quest morality, and yes, I know it’s virtual, it’s not real. But you start to identify with the characters, races, and yes, even particular factions. Anea wrote about how she didn’t want to kill Thersa Windsong. Rades responded with a post about why Thersa Windsong must die. (Both really interesting posts, incidentally, I recommend them wholeheartedly). But I’m not talking about the morality of a specific quest here, or metagaming – it’s more a general aversion to many quests because of what is probably by now a deeply rooted Alliance loyalty of my own. I know my troll character doesn’t give a hoot about killing draenei or not killing them. She probably likes it, and probably hates the Alliance. This isn’t about her, it’s about me. I don’t think the Alliance are the “heroes” and above reproach, or that everything they do is good. I just think that they are my people. I loved doing the Mag’har related quests as a troll, and I intend to go back and finish out the chain that has Thrall coming to Garadar. I like Thrall. But I’ll always be only masquerading as Horde, even though I can connect with the people who play it. I think I may be ruined forever.

So here’s my question to you (and an excuse to use the poll image I made forever ago)! First of all, the poll.

For the record, my answer would be one of the last ones. I’ll post the results after a week or so, I’m actually quite curious to know the “demographics” of people who stop by. Now for the actual questions we can discuss in comments: Why did you choose the faction you did? Have you changed factions at all throughout your time playing WoW, or would you change if you could (disregarding guild allegiance, if your friends played a different faction, etc.)

And when you play the “other” faction, what do you notice? What’s strange? I still flinch when I see Horde flags and expect guards to come running at me, but I’m getting used to running instances with blood elves and Forsaken. I know that at least one member of our guild has said he wishes we were a Horde guild, and an old friend of mine cautioned me when I first made a Horde character, “You won’t play Alliance again, Horde is a better faction.” What do you think? If you have more to say about this than a comment can hold, feel free to write about it on your own blog and I’ll link any related posts here!

p.s. – Please keep it polite and respectful, since I do expect both Horde and Alliance folks read here. No bashing from either side! I know sometimes these Faction discussions can get heated, and then before you know it you’ve got some kind of Varian Wrynn-Wrathgate situation on your hands, and we don’t want anything like that.

I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your A*s

It’s a great time for alting. The ICC buff keeps going up, helping our merry band of Sunday raiders (alt nights, baby!) roll through ICC. Granted, familiarity with the fights doesn’t hurt. It also doesn’t keep us from going through there with a definite air of “herp derp derp,” but that’s a story for another time.

It’s always good to have alts. As I was telling Redbeard yesterday, a draenei hunter is just what I need to help complete my set. I have one at level thirty, but he’s male, and doesn’t really feel like mine – I also have no idea what to do or where to go with him to quest. So when Rades and I realized that Lara had a small warrior tank we could pug with – well naturally a new hunter alt was just the thing.

But I love them so, my precious.

Incidentally, it’s probably sad when you have so many draenei that you need to make a little diagram so that you can choose a hairstyle and colour that won’t duplicate any of your others. The diagram helped! Clearly what was missing was buns. It makes practical sense, they’re out-of-the-way, you can shoot your bow/gun/whatever without any of that annoying flyaway hair in your face thing. So my young hunter and her hair buns have been questing through the Draenei starting area happily. As you can well imagine, I know the quests here pretty well so it doesn’t take too long to speed through the zone. I dispersed some powder, inoculated some owlkin, and was soon merrily murdering the entire population of pretty white deer.

(I’m sure my younger Bambi-loving self had no idea what I’d enjoy later in life. The DEHTA folks would have a bird.) There’s something about hunters. I’m trying to get into the psychology of them. They’re very solitary people, and with good reason. They don’t need anyone else. The mobs see me coming and they just die. They don’t even try, it’s just, “Oh, game over, here comes that hunter and her fearsome pet.” Needless to say, leveling was going well, right up until the moment I hit a snag.

I was at Azure Watch to turn in a quest, when the sound of combat reached my ears. I’m a bit slow on the up-take sometimes, so I looked around in confusion. Why were things fighting? A golden shield flew by my head to strike the NPC behind me. My first instinct was BOLT FOR YOUR TRAINER and train the level you came here to train before the jocular hunter bites it. I just managed to train. The Blood Elf paladin, name of “Gleeka,” was decimating Azure Watch. (This is an aside; I’ve heard people who really like the show “Glee” calling themselves “Gleeks” but in MY day, “gleek” was a verb and it means something rather different. My older brother was particularly pro at this and it was especially disgusting.) So I don’t know which this paladin was thinking of, if any, but that was his name. And he targeted and then laughed at me. But I’d manage to conclude my business and so (I mentioned I have an older brother, right?) I knew that the best way to deal with him was to ignore him. Not receiving a reaction, he’d likely grow bored and wander off. I headed down to hang out with Admiral Odyseus and finish my next series of quests.

Something about me must have said “entertainment” to this blood elf though, because he followed me a little ways. He stopped, got on his big mammoth – and then began to speed ahead. Oh. Hell. No. He reached the mini quest hub far faster than I could on foot, of course, and was killing the last NPC just as I arrived. He waved at me. I did not wave back, but plopped my character down to wait out the twenty seconds before I could log out. He waved good-bye to me. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what was coming next.

Moonrunner is not a PvP server. I don’t want to be on a PvP server. Not because I don’t enjoy PvP from time to time, but because I want to be able to choose the time and place that I will engage in it. This was the time. Millya, my mage, is my character with the best PvP gear and the most PvP experience. (Extreme top left in my diagram, if you’re curious.) Voss was online and he came along to have fun poking the Blood Elf. As far as I was concerned, this Belf had wasted his chance to stop being a jerk and move onto some other form of entertainment. The funny thing was that Voss got there before I did, and the Belf ran when he saw him coming. He just mounted up and headed for the hills. Voss kept following him at a safe distance. He did a “sorry” emote. (Too little, too late, buddy). So it was easy for me to track him down. Again, I didn’t feel too bad about tag-teaming him. Perhaps it’s not sporting, but he’s a paladin – your average paladin I’ve met can handle a prot warrior and a mage. I mean, really.

We chased him through the countryside – he headed for Ammen Vale, and this was the funny part. He dismounted and tried to hide in the bushes along the path. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, really. To say that we annihilated him would be an understatement. I stood a moment over his cooling corpse, thinking about whether or not I would kill him again. I thought for a moment before deciding, “Nah, he must have gotten the message.” The message being: Go away, or I will continue to kill you with my main character. I was so confident in this, I even teleported back to Dalaran before logging back over to my hunter.

The NPCs were alive once more, so I was able to turn in my quests. By this time Rades had logged in, and I told him about the guy who’d been killing NPCs, secure in the belief that he would have moved on. It was nearly supper time for me and I was about to log off – when a familiar golden animation sped by my head. The Belf was back in Azure Watch, killing all of the quest givers again. It didn’t take long for my mage-y self to speed back to Azure Watch, and this time I took on and killed him solo. (In the interests of posterity, I’ll confess that after I’d killed him once he came back and killed me while I was eating. Who knew the graveyard at Azure Watch is so very close? But I don’t think ganking someone who is still injured counts.) In any case, this back and forth went on for awhile – we killed him again and assumed he’d give up. Even if he didn’t, supper was ready and we had to go.

When I logged in again after supper (a good half-hour later at the least) I was heading merrily down the path, pet in tow, when, imagine my surprise – Mr. Gleeka on his mammoth. He followed me for a little ways and had me targeted; naturally I wasn’t flagged… and then he left. I’d like to think that he made the connection between my tiny, baby hunter and the frost mage who made him eat his own shield repeatedly. I find myself wondering – what do people who do this get out of it? I suppose it’s some kind of power trip. “I can kill your NPCs and stop you from questing, I am so powerful.” I’ve PvPed against paladins before; I am not the world’s greatest at PvP by any means, and they’re usually more than a match for me, so I know that this guy was not especially good, or especially geared. Heck, in the heyday of retribution paladin PvP, I had to check my combat log to see what killed me in a BG. It was like “ALL I SAW WAS GOLDEN LIGHT WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.” I don’t think I’m better than I was then, so it was satisfying to kill this guy (again, and again). The story has a happy ending because he eventually did give up and go away – but what if he’d been there all night?

My next step would have been to make a lowbie Horde character and just ask him to leave or stop. I don’t know if that’s a wussy sort of thing to do or if it would have worked, but I suppose it can’t hurt to ask. After that, I’m pretty sure that murdering an entire low-level zone could constitute “griefing” and I would have opened a GM ticket for harassment. But on our server, tickets take hours, sometimes even days to be answered, so I don’t really consider that a viable solution. All of this is my roundabout way of saying: I liked having a PvP-geared 80 main to murder this guy, but what if you don’t have that recourse? Have you ever killed low-level NPCs this way (and if so, why?) you can comment anonymously if you think I’m looking to vilify someone. Otherwise, I’m sure most of us have encountered this kind of thing while trying to quest or level – how did you handle it?

p.s. Extra credit for anyone who recognizes where the title is from. Credit towards what, I don’t know. If someone would invent the transporter I would give you a cookie.

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).

Minus One Tail, Plus Tusks

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

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

The artist formerly known as a Draenei.

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

Now with 100% more tusk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s only one solution!

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

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

Great work, team!

Last week when I had the opportunity, Vid was extremely busy with pugs. The queue times were pretty much instant, so it made for some fast and furious pugging. First I went to Mara – Orange and decided to take a stand against tank asshattery.

“OOM,” the moonkin said. “Yes, wait please,” I echoed.

“its fine,” the tank said, running ahead to attack the – water elemental boss-type thing. With a sigh, I jump up from drinking and sprint after him and start healing. I was at about half mana anyway, so it was okay, but I prefer to have a bit more going in. You never know what’s going to happen.

“Please don’t pull when your healer needs mana,” I repeated.
“I told you it was fine,” he says.
Feeling more belligerent than usual, I told him shortly, “It was fine because I came and healed you anyway. Or did you think that healers are merely decorative?”
“I had lay on hands so quit your whining,” he said, and he marks the second pug in which I have apologized to the rest of the group, but left because I won’t put up with people who not only have a God complex but are also jerks about it. I could’ve voted to kick him but finding tanks takes an eternity and I just didn’t want the hassle, so I left.

Immediately after, still a bit stung, I joined a group to find an unfamiliar load screen. Could this be… Sunken Temple? It was indeed, and glorious fun was had by all. The tank said, “Let’s makes this a quick run, ok?” and I agreed. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done ST so fast, we didn’t stop (or need to stop) the entire time. Chain-pulling pally tanks make me so happy. I can only hope that other ST groups I join know their way around as well.

I capped off the pug session with an uneventful Pristine Waters run. Vidyala is 48 now, creeping ever closer to the 50-60 range. You all know what that means… Death Knights. Soon.

Funny enough, this entry in my pugging annals isn’t really about Vidyala, but it does involve a paladin, and pugging, so I hope you’ll bear with me. I haven’t really changed names to protect the innocent, except my own, and I couldn’t remember the troll hunter’s name so I gave him a name in honour of Tam.

The Story of Hellfire Ramparts, A Drama In Three Parts

Dramatis Personae

“Gankmytaint” – A paladin queued as a healer.

Kali – Intrepid Trollish frost mage, aka yours truly.

Gorlock – a trollish shaman

Greenhots - Inexplicably, an orc deathknight.

Humsomethingorother – Forsaken deathknight

Cumin – Troll hunter of little words

Moohealz – a Tauren druid. I may have made that name up.

A bunch of other people whose names I’ve forgotten, alas, they will be named only by role.

Act I

Scene: The entrance portal of Hellfire Ramparts. Our actors gather to pit themselves against foes of untold multitude and strength.

Moohealz: Oh sh***

Everyone else: Um…?

Moohealz: Give me a minute guys I need to respec

Tank: *ignores the druid and begins pulling*

Utter chaos ensues, though no words are spoken for a good minute or so. Somehow the group survives the first pull, but the druid is yelling.

Moohealz: OK NOW GIVE ME A MINUTE PLEASE

Tank: *doesn’t*

Within moments, two DPS are lying dead on the ground. The only remaining, live party members are the tank (but not for long) and the druid himself. Various swears. It looks as if the group might manage to survive even this pull, until Kali sees something that makes her blood run cold. (She’s a frost mage, too, so it takes a lot).

Kali: Where is my water elemental goingohcrap.

The water elemental scoots around the corner and begins to shoot at a new pack of orcs. Half the group has ragequit by this time as a mob of orcs rushes towards our two-toed cloth-wearer and she flees for her life as only a frost mage can, leaving her water elemental behind to bear their wrath. She laughs so hard at the sorry debacle that it takes her a few minutes to resume working on professions, before she can queue once more for Hellfire Ramparts. There’s loot there to be had!

Act II

Scene: The same instance portal, now with a fresh group of cheery adventurers. Another DK tank (surprise) we’ll call him Hum, and a healer by name of “Gankmytaint.” Kali expects great things from this young worthy. She will not be disappointed.

Gorlock: Greetings!

Hum the Tank: Heal me please

Gank: ok

Hum the Tank: I’m dying over here where’s heals?!

Gank: Sorry, I’ll try 2 pay more attention

Hum the Tank: ty

The group actually continues in this vein with reasonable success until Watchkeeper Guy And His Two Henchmen.

Gorlock: afk a second guys

Watchkeeper What’s-his-name: “Heal me, quickly! Ah man, what the heck? I just hired those guys, what’s with all the turnover—” *dramatic death*

Kali: Look, cloth shoulders! Dis is great, mon.

Hum the Tank: *inexplicably leaves group*

Gank: I can absolutely tank this, can someone keep me healed?

Kali: No.

Act III

Amazingly, it only takes about a half minute to find another Death Knight tank. I hear those guys are really rare at this level…

Greenhots, the Orc DK Tank: Hey Gank, ur main is from my server, blahblah lists all my characters incomprehensibledudespeak

Gankmytaint: hey no kidding, u r the blahblah more dudespeak

Greenhots: Oops, I’m in the wrong spec, brb. *hearths out to DK treehouse*

Greenhots: OK, who’s the healer?

Gorlock the Shaman: Hey guys, I’m back from AFK, what’d I miss?

Greenhots: who is healer

Kali: Gank

Greenhots: He has a two-hander?

Kali: *wisely says nothing*

Greenhots: OK, let’s do this! *immediately loses aggro on several mobs while water elemental tanks them*

Greenhots: lol I need to remember how to play this toon

Kali: Yes, an instance is absolutely the best place to do that! <– didn’t actually say this

Greenhots: I’m not really getting healed a lot

Gankmytaint: Hey guys, I’m OOM

Greenhots: *pulls anyway, dies a horrible death*

Gorlock: *dies*

Kali: *dies*

Gankmytaint: *proceeds to finish off pack of mobs after most of party has died, and does not die*

Gorlock: Rez please?

Greenhots: Who’s the healer?

Kali: Gank.

Greenhots: THEN TURN OFF RIGHTEOUS FURY.

Gankmytaint: give me a sex

Gankmytaint: im also holy

Gankmytaint: I mean sec. *switches, only now, to Holy spec, but gear remains a two-hander*

Conversation and combat proceeds in this vein for a few more trash pulls, now outside of the corridor leading to last two bosses. Fortunately the pause gives most of party time to type various versions of “LOL” and “ROFL” because OHMYGAWD YOU GUYS HE SAID SEX! and other witty repartee.

Gank: Sorry I keep running out of mana

Greenhots: Then put up mana seal and buff yourself with wisdom.

Gank: *put up Seal of Wisdom, buffs tank with Blessing of Wisdom*

Greenhots: Not me, u

Greenhots: give me kings again

Gank: *buffs self with Blessing of Wisdom*

Group heads towards Big Orc Guy On Dragon.

Gorlock: Great work, team!

Kali: (I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not, but I don’t think he was.) <– didn’t actually say this, either

Greenhots: *loses aggro on orc and mage nearly dies. Nazrudan descends from the sky!*

Greenhots: lay on hands!

Greenhots: *dies*

Greenhots: dumbass pally

Kali: omg the tank is dead omg omg he’s coming for me.

Nazrudan: *eats the shaman*

Kali: Better him than me. *casts frantically*

Nazrudan: *dies*

Gorlock: Rez please? *Needs on ring with int, sta, spellpower and spirit*

Kali: *rolls…poorly*

Gorlock: Wow, guys, that was fun! *observes that the rest of the group is not near him*

Gorlock: Is there more?

Kali: *can barely believe her good fortune*

Group moves on to attack Omor – miraculously, not a single member dies during final encounter. Much rejoicing! A spellpower mace that the “holy” paladin with the two-hander does not roll on drops.

Gorlock: *need rolls on mace* Woo! Great group, everyone. Be well.

Kali: …

Hey, I got some cloth shoulders out of it. And I laughed so hard that my sides hurt after. I act all exasperated with it but actually it was hilariously fun, and I only feel mildly guilty about making a blog entry out of the mishaps of another “holy” pally. This stuff writes itself.

Identity Crises

If you’d told me a year ago that I would start a blog about WoW, I would probably have believed you. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy WoW. If you’d told me additionally that my “public face,” as it were, would be a paladin? I probably wouldn’t have bought that. I’d leveled a paladin only to level 20, and (I’m sorry) I hated it. I was retribution, and I was awful. I’d given up on being a paladin. I suppose for the folks who aren’t altoholics, it’s easy to have a class or role that is “yours,” that you most identify with.

The sheer volume of awesome druid blogs out there seems indicative of this to me. It’s a class that many people just fall in love with, and it becomes their passion.

My husband is like that. He’s a die-hard warrior, to the core. He’s a little disheartened and frustrated by warrior changes (or lack thereof) this year, but his loyalties are still very clear. He’s the unfortunate subject of much teasing about it, since he 1) loves warriors, and 2) hates paladins. That my blog is about paladins sort-of-kind-of makes him die a little inside. I leveled a protection warrior to try it out, sometime last year, but as I neared eighty with her I realized I just wouldn’t play her all that much. At the time he was bored and looking for something to do – so I transferred the character to his account. He finished leveling her (now a  him) with much excitement. So yes, he has two level eighty warriors. Because in his opinion, the only thing better than one warrior is two warriors.

I’ve never really been that way about one specific class. I started out playing as a priest, abandoned around level forty-five to make a mage, and then never looked back. There is definitely a part of my personality that is one-hundred percent mage. I dove into battlegrounds at level seventy to acquire my giant, pink PvP staff. It was a blast. I was sort of good at it, even. A much more veteran friend of mine said, “Vid, I’ve never seen someone with 5K HP f*** so many people up.” 5K was abysmally low at the time. My PvP strategy largely centered on getting lost in a crowd of people and snipe-killing from relative safety, and if I had no other choice, I’d just go kamikaze. Needless to say, Alterac Valley was my place. I had a blast, and I concluded: being a mage is awesome.

Then last year, I began to level another character along with some guild friends at the time. Nobody else in the guild was at their level and they had transferred from Horde-side. So I thought, “I have a level twenty-eight druid! I’ll try leveling her.” The druid was actually the very first character I had created, but I abandoned her fairly early on in favour of the priest. The reason why, I believe, is just that it was very complicated and I had no idea what I was doing since I was new to WoW in general. The different forms all had these mysterious things I should be doing, attacking in caster form felt weak, my gear was awful. When I came back to the druid later, I think I was much better prepared to play a hybrid class. I’d tanked a little (prot warrior), ranged DPS (mage), and healed (priest). I understood each role and form a little better. I was also loaded down with heirloom gear, and the luxury of bags and gold. Leveling my druid at that time was a completely different experience.

I loved being a druid. I leveled as Balance. I enjoyed it so much that it actually caused friction – the group of leveling people were staying around the same level so that they could group together, but I didn’t want to be held back. I steamrolled past them and began leveling my shaman alt to stay with them as a sort of placeholder, because I wanted that druid at level eighty. I had a feeling she would be my “main,” if I could swing it. Along the way, I dual-specced and made a restoration spec. I still remember vaguely flailing around and asking a resto druid friend her opinion about specs, glyphs, and spells to cast. I really had no idea what I was doing, but it was so much fun. I stubbornly did the quest for epic flight form once I was able, rather than just purchasing it. I worked to get my Lower City reputation high enough to do heroic Sethekk Halls for a chance at an Anzu mount. Being a druid and I were meant for each other. When I had the opportunity, I made my restoration druid my raiding main (swapping her in for my priest healer).

Yet still I pined sometimes for my mage, she of the fireballs, the one who could bring strudels and smarts! I made sure to try and keep her gear as up to date as I could – running daily heroics for emblems. When we made the decision to transfer servers and join a raiding guild, I needed a break from healing. I applied with my mage because then I could not be forced into a healing role. Understand, it’s not that I don’t enjoy healing. I think it presents challenges different from those of a DPS, and it’s a lot of fun. But it stops being fun when it’s a chore. I healed our previous raid group because it felt like nobody else would. No one wanted the responsibility, so I shouldered it. We often had to pug a second healer, because there was no reliable other regular healer to do it. One of the other druids did dual-spec and learn how to resto to help on fights where two couldn’t pull it off, and I appreciated it, but the pressure of being ‘the healer’ got to be a bit much for me.

Relaxing into mage DPS was an awesome feeling. I started reading mage blogs and theorycrafting quite a bit more, trying to up my game. I focused on my gear and set bonuses. I did struggle a bit as our raid was fairly melee-focused in terms of buffs (rogue, hunter, ret paladin, enhancement shaman, actually at one point two hunters). But then we started coming up against content that sometimes wants three healers. Valithria Dreamwalker. Sindragosa with her ridiculous debuff. I started wondering if I wasn’t being a bit of a waste. Some people are just extremely passionate about DPS, or healing, respectively. I really and truly love both. Doesn’t it make sense for someone who can play and likes to play both styles, to have a character who can do so? I thought so.

My choices were:

  1. Sofira the Priest: terribly poor gear, still in Tier 7 from when that gear was good
  2. Callios the Shaman: decent elemental gear but laughable resto gear, and I don’t know the playstyle very well
  3. Shaedre the Druid: had kept gear reasonably up to date, pugged a few ToCs, and I loved the healing style but was unsure about Balance.

I had to try out Balance and see how I liked it. A few things about it had bothered me in the past – how stationary it was, its reliance on proc buffs making it too subject to RNG (Your eclipse procced just before Festergut made you yak up your lunch? Too bad.) And yet. The possibility of being a true hybrid was alluring. The buffs that a moonkin brings to a raid are also incredible. Previously I hadn’t liked moonkin compared to being a mage, but I was willing to give it a shot.

To my surprise, I found that the nuances of a DoT + nuke based class are pretty interesting. Keep in mind, I’ve been an arcane mage for many months. I kissed my DoTs goodbye when Fire just wasn’t keeping pace. So managing even a few DoTs is something new to me. Weaving the DoTs in-between eclipse procs is also new. Treants and Starfall cooldowns. Moonkin DPS felt urgent and engaging. “Solar eclipse! Spam spam spam wrath,” followed closely by “Lunar eclipse! Cast Staaaarfiiiiire.” Periods of Starfire are slower and give me time to look around while I’m hitting the button, as well as glancing at my DoT timers to plan when I’m going to refresh them. Using Starfall without pulling half of Icecrown is a feat just by itself. (I love that spell so much, I do. I wish I had a little more control over it. So if you see the big chicken squished against the wall with the stars over her head and feathers crossed hoping she didn’t just tick off Marrowgar through to Deathwhisper? That’s me.)

I think the decision to once again “change mains” was a good choice for me. We recently recruited a very excellent full-time resto druid so my role is squarely DPS with a side of “resto sometimes if needed,” but I’m perfectly fine with that. Being able to step up and heal when our group needs someone to do so, even 10% of the time, is 10% more than I was able to do so as a mage, as much as I love mages.

Meanwhile, I guess in essence, I’m most druidic or mageish, but I have a healthy dose of priestliness and shamanism too. And lately I’m feeling a good deal of solidarity with my paladin friends. Because this is, after all, about a pugging pally – sort of. I sometimes wish I could be the person who is so passionate about one class that it’s an easy choice to devote their blog solely to that one class, but I just don’t see it happening. I really do enjoy my little pugging pally, though, and in a universe of infinite time I’d like to learn restoration shaman. I wonder sometimes whether my guildies plan to make a character switch at the expansion. It’s often a time of minor upheaval like that – people get bored with their classes or have wanted to change for awhile and just seize the opportunity, and you just hope that role distribution lands more or less the same on the other side. I’m not even sure what I will do. Maybe I’ll be ready to explore being a shaman more fully, or stick with my druid until the bitter end, or even (gasp) be a paladin. I’ll be interested to see who else is planning on making a change (if any).

Are you someone who loves one class above all others? Or do you find yourself switching it up all the time? Does more than one class claim your allegiance? Are you a closet tree, or a proud paladin? I love hearing about why people like the classes that they do, because I can find so many things to like about so many different classes.