Tag Archives: it’s all fun and games until someone has to go and die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Defense? How much defense does he have?”

“…475.”

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

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

The hunter says, “Better harder than easier.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My sworn enemy.

The horror!

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

Not on my watch

This is a slightly late Blog Azeroth shared topic suggested by Ecclesiastical Discipline (I knew I couldn’t type that correctly on the first try…) and it’s a doozy:

When should a healer let someone die?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and hope that my history bears me out. That means “please don’t dig through my blog looking for an instance of when I let someone die deliberately,” but in general, my answer is “I won’t.” Wait, it’s coming back to me, that’s not entirely true. There have been certain special circumstances where I did so, but in general my answer stands.

Tossing out heals for pugs since level 17.

I see the role of a healer as a facilitator. It’s part of what makes it so much fun, at least for me. You are a support for the group. When life gets the group down, you are the one to be there cheering them on, and bandaging their wounds. I take that role seriously, and it’s not lightly that I abandon it.

The damage dealers: “Whoops, I did it again.”

That means that when an over-eager DPS pulls aggro, I view it as a personal challenge to keep them alive. I know some healers would challenge me on this, and even some tanks. (You yank it, you tank it!) There are exceptions to this. When I was leveling Vid, my mana was pretty precious. I didn’t have forty-thousand mana to throw around, nor did I have the ability to simultaneously heal more than one person. I have a responsibility to the tank to heal them, and a further responsibility to keep myself alive so that I can fulfill the first. The other three group members take a back-seat to that. So when a DPS needs heavy healing because they pulled, I might do it – but only if it doesn’t put the tank or myself in jeopardy. This comes into play more in heroics at eighty. My restoration druid has so much mana, she hasn’t drunk a thing in weeks. Needing to heal a DPS probably means I’ll stop casting wrath to direct heal someone.

Again, it’s very situational. In a raiding situation, if someone pulls aggro they are likely to be dead. I’ve told you about the fury warrior-turned-warlock in our guild. His nickname is Dirtface, and it’s Dirtface for a reason. In his words, “I play because the ground in ICC is tasty and delicious.” His death is routine. I still try to keep him alive when I’m a healer. During one heavy pull in our last alt raid, our off-tank had to take a phone call. I’m not sure if he was actually AFK or just distracted, but we had a Fury warrior off-tank for awhile. And heck yeah I put Beacon on him. I wasn’t aware that the tank was AFK, I just knew he didn’t have aggro, wasn’t taking  damage, and didn’t need it. Dirtface lived.

The flip side of this (because I am DPSing at least as often as I am a healer) is a very resounding “mea culpa.” As a healer I try to keep the DPS alive. As a DPS – I don’t expect to be kept alive if I pull aggro. Whether the tank is “bad” or not isn’t relevant, it’s my job to manage my aggro. Sometimes I impose on my healers to heal me when I have gone overboard DPSing, and I’m very grateful for their benevolence, but I don’t expect it. Generally if I die, I have no one to blame but myself!

The wall of bricks: “We can handle all of this, right?”

If a tank dies, I get an immediate wash of intense guilt and regret. It always feels like a personal failure, and in many cases it is. The only exception to this is if a tank really was trying to do too much. I don’t mind a tank pulling aggressively, but I’m not apt to “punish” him for it either. I will do my damnedest to keep a tank up through hell and heavy pulling, but if I fail in that case I wouldn’t take all the responsibility on myself. It comes back to the tank and healer relationship. I was fortunate to have considerate tanks when I first started getting my hooves wet healing as a paladin at eighty, and I usually made a point of saying, “Hey, I’m still pretty new,” just as a heads-up. It’s part of the tank’s responsibility to know their healer’s limits.

I know I’ve pugged in with a great tank when they make their first few pulls a bit cautiously, or even ask me what I’m comfortable with. I know what they are doing; they’re feeling out to see how far they can reach with me backing them up. Only after they get a feel for my healing do they start to pull more aggressively, and I love that. In a short amount of time you’ve established a rapport and trust, even just for the 20 minutes you’re in the instance together, and those are always smooth runs. I like being able to trust the tanks I’m with, which is probably why I tend to prefer tanks I know.

A tank won’t die if I can possibly prevent it, unless he is an incredible jerk. I ran into such a tank wayyy back in my Deadmines days, and I checked: even then I didn’t kill him. Because if he dies, it means that other people are likely to die, and that’s not my decision to make.

It’s my off-spec that is Retribution

Occasionally I do run into a situation when someone will expressly ask or expect me to not heal someone. I know I’ve said I won’t let someone die, but there are a few exceptions, and here they are.

  • Avoidable environmental damage, a.k.a. “Why is the ground burning me?” For this I follow a general rule of “Once, shame on you, twice shame on me.” If someone is standing in something that’s killing them and I can heal them through it, I probably will – the first time. This will be followed by a general reminder, “Please watch out for such-and-such” on the ground. A repeat offense might be healed, but definitely not a third. This is a lesson situation. If there’s no consequence for standing in fire, people won’t ever learn not to stand in it.
  • The tank is having a hard time with someone continually pulling aggro and they ask me to “Please not heal so-and-so” or “Just let them die.” I still have a really hard time with this. It’s happened when a DPS thought they could pull groups instead of the tank, which is not the same as pulling aggro. This is a situation in which I feel the healer has to back up the tank, but it’s always a judgment call. Does it really justify withholding heals? In some cases it does. But I don’t like doing it. The biggest reason is because death of any kind in most instances punishes the whole group and not just the recipient. If I let them die, we have to then resurrect them, have them get their mana back, and probably rebuff them which costs me and other party members a reagent in any case.

In short, I don’t like punitive healing. If I’m there healing, I’m going to keep everyone alive to the best of my abilities. Sometimes DPS pulls aggro, mistakes happen, things get messy. I revert to my priorities: self, tank, DPS dead last. Sometimes that means they do wind up dead, and if they don’t I feel I’ve done a good job.

Most importantly, when I’m on the damage dealing side and I pull a bonehead maneuver and the healer has to heal me through something smacking me in the face… I make sure and thank them! Usually in the form of, “Thank you for saving me from my own stupidity, I know it was above and beyond the call of duty.” Because it is; the healer isn’t obligated to heal you through extraordinary damage if you bring it upon yourself. Treasure them and be grateful when they do, and remember it if you’re ever on the flip-side! If more people showed a little love for their healers, there’d never be a healer shortage. It can be an incredibly rewarding role when you’re grouped with great people.

When I Asked If You Had BG Experience…

Some of these built-in commenting system things always put my latest blog entry below my name, when I comment on another blog. I’ve enjoyed having my latest post there because I think it makes me sound combative and fearsome. I could be saying, “What a cute mini-pet you have!” but underneath my name it says, “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your A*s,” so it’s, “Visit Pugging Pally! We have fearsome things here like swords that I can’t use properly.”

Having such an intimidating tagline did remind me, however, that I tried holy PvP for the first time last weekend! A key component of this story is 1) I did PvP with my paladin and also 2) you’ll notice it’s not my paladin I brought to kill the griefing guy while trying to level my hunter.

It was one of the rare occasions when I’ve gone to PvP with other people. It started when Dirtface (that’s actually his name now, though I feel vaguely guilty using it as an honest-to-goodness name) needed some honour points for… something he needed to buy, I’m not sure. He had never PvPed as a warlock and so he asked if anyone would go with him. Kayla (hunter) was game to go, as was Draos (feral druid) and Ulla (resto druid). I’d been meaning to put Vidyala in a situation where other people could hit her in the face, so I agreed too.

Absolutely ready for PvP. 100%. If you don't count all the PvE gear.

I considered her not altogether unprepared, because she has a few PvP pieces I am using for her PvE set. An aside, I know that Blizz said they wanted to take away the component of PvPing to get gear for PvE (ever since the days of PvPing on my mage to get that giant pink staff, the one that couldn’t be replaced by anything past Kara) but I think they failed. You can trade 30 Stonekeeper’s Shards to acquire 2000 honour points. If you’re like me and on a server where your faction often possesses Wintergrasp, you have a lot of these things. All of my characters had a lot of these things, so it was easy to get enough honour for Vid to buy a 264 cloak and necklace. Neither is as good as something intended for PvE would be, but having the cloak has allowed me to delay purchasing the emblem one in favour of other things. All of which is a long-winded way of saying, I had a little bit of resilience. I even have the Flash of Light PvP libram, which I purchased because I’d thought about trying a FoL build, and it’s nice for 5-mans when casting HL is usually overkill. I used Triumph emblems to buy another PvP piece and off we went, armed with very little knowledge of paladin PvP in general.

A bit of miscommunication landed Ulla and I (both of the two healers) in an Isle of Conquest match while our other three folks were in Arathi Basin. It didn’t take us long to botch the Isle completely; though the Arathi Basin took longer. When we queued up together again, I groaned inwardly to see the Warsong Gulch loading screen. I have not had happy times with Warsong Gulch. I don’t know if it’s because usually it’s just a random assemblage of people who don’t work together… I’ll be honest with you, I sort of like when there’s a bossy person who takes charge of a BG pug. Or even if people are just talking like Gnomeaggeddon was saying the other day. I tend to freeze up a little when it comes time to decide where I would be best employed, and typically (as a healer especially) I’ll find someone to follow into the thick of things and keep people alive. Fortunately for me there are worse strategies as a healer – obviously I’m not going to go off by myself and try to damage things. I am most useful where the fighting is happening. (Except when the fighting is on the road).

But this Warsong Gulch was different, possibly because at least two of the people I was with had extensive BG experience. “I don’t do this one ever,” I confessed in Vent, “So if you want to just tell me where we are going that would be great.”

“We’re going to get the flag, and you’re going to heal us,” was the calm reply. Between the hunter, feral druid, warlock, resto druid and myself, we were one-third of that WSG team and we annihilated them. I got these achievements: Warsong Gulch Perfection (Win with a score of 3 – 0), Warsong Gulch Expedience (Win Warsong Gulch in under 7 minutes), and plain old Warsong Gulch Victory – an achievement I’m not sure any of my other characters actually has (don’t laugh). Sticking close to my buddies for that encounter seemed to work out well. I don’t even think I died.

Our next BG was an Alterac Valley. I’m more confident here, because before “random” BGs were available I spent a great deal of time maging it up in the frosty north. I like the big, epic battle zerg and I actually know the names of strategic points etc. Our little strike team roamed the map reclaiming and defending places while the zerg people down South focused their energy on killing Drek. I still can’t say at this point that I was getting down to the nitty-gritty of healing as a paladin in BGs. I healed a bit, but we never got stuck in a chokehold with a great deal of fighting, it was more short skirmishes. The real combat began in our last match, Arathi Basin.

I think of all the battlegrounds this one’s my favourite because it’s fairly straightforward, the map isn’t too large (less opportunity to get lost) and a single player’s contribution can have more effect than in a huge place like AV. Again, we were ideally suited for this because we were on Vent and could talk to each other and decide which node we’d go to – and defend it against attackers, or move on to claim another if there were other people remaining behind. Here’s where I really started to actually PvP as a paladin. Random observations:

1) I love Beacon so very, very much.
Putting Beacon on myself and going to town healing everyone around me is so much fun. I’d be healing and a hunter would sent his pet after me… I could just flat out ignore it. It couldn’t interrupt me. It tickled a bit.

2) Wearing plate armour is OP.
All of my other healers have definitely been squishier than this. Granted, my priest was never Discipline, so take my opinion with a gigantic grain of salt. But I definitely felt more durable.

3) Interfering with the way other people are trying to hurt your team-mates is almost as much fun as just healing them.

With a nearby resto druid’s HoTs, I usually had ample time to make extensive use of my Cleanse button. Removing poisons, diseases, and magic is awesome. Living Bomb on someone? Whoops I’m sorry, ‘fraid not. There’s something immensely satisfying about removing something that was going to hurt – forcing whoever is attacking to either re-apply it and waste a GCD. But they usually didn’t have time at that point because someone would have killed them.

4) I’d rather be casting Flash of Light.
I can really see where different gear/gemming/spec would make a big difference here. In almost every situation, even with the haste I have – Holy Light takes too long. Having more oomph behind my fast little heals would make me more effective for this, I think. The Libram is nice but it can only go so far. I don’t really have the luxury of picking up a second Holy spec because when I do PvE stuff I’m often filling a DPS role (quick VoA which I choose to bring Vid to instead of my main, likewise for the raid weekly). But a PvP spec here would be pretty useful. Preferably something that reduces the duration I can be silenced for, which brings me to…

5) The sound of silence
This is like the kiss of death, and I’m not used to it at all. My only healing PvP experience prior has been as a resto druid – seldom casting anything long enough to be properly interrupted. Rejuv, rejuv, Wild Growth, Lifebloom, oh, are you hitting me? You didn’t notice the bark, right? Well, being a paladin wasn’t like that, but perhaps there’s something I’m missing here (like potentially a PvP spec). Silencing is very bad. Fortunately it never resulted in my death because I had my little posse with me, but even so. I always feel guilty when I’m silenced, and this may be a carryover from PvE content. Because if you get silenced casting when those big skeleton guards in front of Marrowgar do their shout thing? That’s your fault, that is avoidable. But I have the same feeling in PvP! “Oh god I’ve been silenced why what was I doing I must have been casting while the skeleton was shouting…wait.”

6) Blending into a crowd is nice.

Maybe I’m naive and I’m more visible than I think I am, but I definitely felt a bit more incognito as a holy paladin. I don’t have the pew pew green healing lasers of a shaman, although I do have the shield. I don’t have obvious bubbles like a priest, or the dress. More importantly to me, I’m not a giant walking tree, which always screams, “You know my HoTs are OP, try to kill me!” Many times attackers at our nodes would simply never start attacking me at all, which allowed me to focus on healing my people, and inevitably led to success. Obviously the success wasn’t just because of me, but at least I didn’t feel I was a hindrance.

7) Striking out on my own is dumb.
In fact, the only time I died where I died alone and felt that it was completely my fault was when I was heading from Lumber Mill to go with our hunter to a different node and I was lagging behind a bit. A rogue sapped me and my bubble was on CD and I kermitflailed. Probably a good paladin could have escaped it – but I never claimed to be a good paladin – and I died. I think if I had either stayed behind with the group or been RIGHT with the hunter it wouldn’t have happened. I have learned my lesson, just because I wear plate armour doesn’t make me invincible.

And so ended Vidyala’s PvP adventures. We won the Arathi Basin, I got an achievement for 100 HKs and some healing stuff and also Back Door Job which sounds incredibly wrong.

I did, belatedly, find this article about healing tips for holy paladins. It’s arena specific, but I assume many of the same principles apply to battlegrounds. Otherwise, if you’re looking for general PvP info, Cynwise has always got it covered. Please feel free to suggest links to any other paladin PvP resources you may know of, or otherwise elaborate in comments all the ways in which you are better at PvP than I am (really no huge feat, truthfully). I enjoyed it and I think I’ll do it again when the time and inclination hit me. Hitting me is okay, incidentally, silencing? Way below the belt.

What happens if the PvPing Paladin strays too far from her bodyguards, complete with dramatic death scene and anguished hand clasped to...uh. Right.

In Which We are Fools to Have Come To This Place

Vidyala has done a little bit of raiding since hitting 80. I sneak her into things like VoA runs, or the weekly if it’s a place like Naxx or EoE or even Ulduar, now that we’re done getting people drakes there for the foreseeable future. (And I’m happy about this, not because I dislike Ulduar, I think it’s fabulous. I just don’t want to see Yogg’s ugly mug again any time soon).

So I’ve been raiding, sometimes even raid pugging. A few weeks back there were a bunch of us from the guild online and so we organized an ICC run. First I picked up a tank I had seen asking in Trade – his gear was good, it sounded like he knew what he was doing. We had one bearface from within our own ranks so that was at least a single tank covered. I would heal along with our resto druid’s alt… resto druid. I have to confess I’m often a bit jealous of people who know so clearly which class they want to play. Oh, they flirt with alts, but when it comes right down to it, there’s one class they love above all else. So they have a main of that class. And an alt of that class. (See: guild mage who just yesterday moved a new character into the guild…another 80 mage). But I digress. So we had from within our guild, a DK, a resto druid, myself as a holy paladin, and a bear druid.

Now, as any experienced pugger will tell you, these are not good odds. We were greatly outnumbered. We didn’t even have enough of us to make a five-man. But, I put out the call in Trade, LFM for ICC 10, need DPS.

I have never seen so many whispers in my life. Seriously, they filled my screen. And I use an addon (WoW Instant Messenger) that is set up to make a sound when I receive a whisper, so that I don’t miss it. The whispers broke the addon sound. It just gave up. I started to sift through them. A couple of warlocks, DPS warrior, some hunters, a mage, a moonkin. To be completely frank, I set up the group with extreme prejudice. I like mages, and I like moonkin, so they were pretty much guaranteed as long as their gear wasn’t bad. Then I even grudgingly invited the warlock because hey, it’s good caster synergy. By the time I was finished looking people up on WoW-heroes, several minutes had passed. The fury warrior was starting to rage at me, whispering me impatiently. Finally he says, “You could at least ANSWER me,” and I felt a pang of guilt. I told him we were all full on melee DPS – not that I’d take someone who loses their shit over a five minute wait and has clearly never organized a pug where it actually matters who and what you bring. He didn’t reply after that, which is probably for the best.

So our motley crew set out to ICC, after I managed to grab a few fish feasts out of the bank. Vent info was passed out and everyone joined. Our little gnome mage, it turned out, gave me the feeling I would have if I were to play WoW with my Mother. She was sweet and, I think, a bit nervous. “I’m an ar-CAN ma-dge,” she told us all. Now that I think about it, what other class would my mother play? One who bakes, naturally! I was extremely glad to have her along, not the least because she was the only one of us who actually had the skill to USE the fish feasts I’d so thoughtfully grabbed from the bank. Whoops.

The hunter ruined my shot with his need to get ready to shoot Marrowgar in the face.

All in all, the ICC pug went… pretty well. Our paladin tank’s microphone was not working, so that was a bit aggravating. Worse, he was the kind of pugger that’s annoying – not because he says or does anything annoying, but because of what he doesn’t say. I have a mental image of someone sitting at their desk – TV on in the background, alt-tabbed out or with dual monitors browsing another website, music blaring on top of that, and, oh I don’t know, a book in one hand. And a drink. So when you ask them something like, “Alright, so you will taunt after you have x stacks of Nasty Debuff,” you’re met with silence. Both in vent (broken mic) and when you try to type it out in raid. Just when you start to throw up your hands in aggravation after typing “Are you there?” and decide the person must be AFK, they say something noncommittal and short like, “yeah no problem,” or the like. Maybe he took a break to do his taxes.

But apart from minor irritations like that, the whole group was quiet, respectful – and eerily silent. I don’t know if a decent ICC pug is a rare beast, or what, but I got the impression that they were all just really happy to be there and didn’t want to mess anything up or irritate anyone. We proceeded to do Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Lootship, and Saurfant without a hitch. Really, not a single wipe. Then we hit the Festergut wall.

As one of our guildies remarked, “Pugs remind me of why I am in a guild.” I don’t consider Fester to be a really tough fight – it has a few coordination things and a DPS and healing check… oh, the healing check. Let me take a moment to talk about that. You understand, I didn’t heal this fight with characters in just entry level ICC gear before. I’ve healed it as a resto druid – the heroic version – with two other very skilled healers. I’ve never been OMG spam healing the tank before and had him die. I think in this regard I am remiss – if I’m going to be going any further into ICC, I need to do some paladin specific research about it. But more importantly, I think we might need three healers for our alt runs past that point. The raid damage was stupid, and the tank damage was stupider – and I’m not sure if it’s because the mage was barfing on the warlock or what, but here’s where the pug started to get interesting.

The hunter went AFK on our second attempt. He was locked outside the door just standing there, although it didn’t yet actually say over his head that he was AFK. We kicked him and were arranging a suitable substitute when our resto druid had a pet health related emergency and had to go. But the weekly raid quest was the one where you have to bring back a sample of spore yuck from Festergut and OMFGWHATISTHISITSTOUCHINGME from Rotface. With our odds of downing either boss slim (who am I kidding, zilch) someone suggested we could use the cheat-ey sort of method. Apparently if you engage each boss and run them to the door, having some folks stay in as sacrificial lambs and a few others outside, the spores will hit people outside. Then you go on to do the same thing with Rotface – in theory. We did the first thing, and a number of people had the debuff they needed. Of course, being the only healer I was one of the Marked for Death folks.

We proceeded to Rotface to do the same thing. Here I reveal to you a dark secret… Sometimes, I do things. These things, might not be considered the most intelligent things. For instance, in an effort to save our death knight’s multiple debuffs from death by Rotface, I may have…BOPed him. Which may or may not have removed both debuffs. I really couldn’t say. The best part about this was that he instantly blamed the other paladin with great ire in guild chat. “Why would he do that,” etc., and the best part, “STUPID PALADIN.” I turned to Voss (husband exhibit A, not in the raid, but in the room and in guild chat) and said, “Please don’t tell Shaen – there was a stupid paladin involved, but it isn’t the one he thinks it is. I’m just glad there’s another one here to take the blame.”

Yes, that’s right, I tossed my fellow paladin to the wolves… remember, he’s watching a movie, reading a book, reading websites, and possibly preparing a four-course meal during this raid. He’s very busy and important, so it’s too much of a strain for him to type, “Yes, I understand,” with regards to any fight mechanics. My conscience is clear. A few minutes later, though, said Death Knight came to the realization that there was in fact more than one paladin in the raid… one paladin he’d feel immensely guilty about calling stupid had I, in fact, been the one stupid enough to Ruin Everything. He whispered me to apologize.

The best part about the whole thing though was that after I’d stolen his debuffs so cruelly…the whole raid turned to see the mage – the only other person who’d managed to acquire both debuffs – her little gnomish body entombed in a block of solid ice. Why she iceblocked, we’re still not sure. (Why did I BoP the DK when there was no need? Let’s not go there…) I’m of the opinion that she panicked, didn’t want to screw up and get killed, and was trying to save us all. Unfortunately, iceblocking, much like a BoP, removes the debuffs! We were back at square one.

Astoundingly, we still had people with the Rotface debuff, so we only had to re-do Festergut and we had someone with both debuffs. We did not BoP, iceblock, or in any other way interfere with the delivery of said debuffs. The warlock laughed at us running back and forth down the corridor – as we went to turn in the quest we triggered the Trap of A Zillion Geists. He said, “We are such a bunch of muppets!”

I will neither confirm nor deny his claim. But we got to turn in the quest and earn some extra frost emblems! Around this time, the previously AFK hunter whispered Bearface to apologize for having gone away without a word. He said, “My roommate fell down the stairs, and he wouldn’t shut up!” We aren’t certain whether this means he fell down the stairs and was screaming in pain, or that he fell and then insisted on continuing to talk about it. In any case, the hunter was not so callous as to let a friend down (har) and he must have gone to either help the guy deal with his broken bones, or make him tea to soothe the pain. In any case, he missed out on the raid weekly and earned himself a mention.

I’m beginning to formulate a theory as to the likely composition of any pug raid. It’s not very scientific.

There will be:

  • One lady who could be my Mom
  • One guy who is baked out of his mind (in this case, the moonkin, honest to goodness I saw him hitting a blood beast with his Nibelung at one point)
  • One guy who never talks
  • One guy you wish would never talk
  • One guy who apparently is filled with pug rage and rants on and on about how pugs fail, why all pugs break up after Saurfang, how we promised we’d go further, etc.
  • One guy who goes AFK
  • One guy who Knows All There Is To Know About These Fights and is Happy to Share His Knowledge. His very presence causes capitalization.
  • One guy who will do or say something completely random that may or may not coincide with one of the previous categories. Clearly the Hunter takes this prize.

I’m sure there are more, but fortunately we don’t get them all at one time because we try to have approximately half guild to half pug. All-in-all, it was a successful run, good times were had, and I can’t complain because I cleaned up in the loot department. The first thing that dropped was the Frost Needle from Marrowgar. I know, it has hit, but it was still a huge step-up from Seethe. I never thought I’d get my pally hands on it, though – the group had both a mage and a warlock. As it turned out…They both had Quel’Delar. So I took that. The other thing that dropped was the Citadel Enforcer’s Claymore. The only person who could have used this two-handed beauty – our Death Knight – also had Quel’Delar. So I took that too. Later on at Gunship I also wound up with a mail headpiece whose name I can’t currently remember, but it was better than what I had, even though it bears a disturbing resemblance to a moose skull. I have it hidden. And the run – in combination with my epic trash clearing a few weeks earlier, was enough to make the Ashen Verdict feel more friendly about me than neutral, really. They gave me a ring, and I was very happy.

Finally, our proper raid group (no blues, no n00b paladins in sight) deserves a mention here for having cleared out the last parts of ICC we needed to get these Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquishers:

This is the one and only time my druid will actually ride the thing, sadly.

Having killed H. Sindragosa on the 13th, we just had a few oddball achievements to finish. We’re still working on the last of these for people who missed them the first go-around; most painfully (of course) the Sindragosa one where her Mystic Buffet debuff must not stack on any raid member higher than five stacks. Somehow the first time we attempted this we did it almost effortlessly. A repeat has been a bit tougher, but we did it again last night. We haven’t really started serious heroic Lich King attempts because we wanted to make sure to get drakes for people first. I’m sure once we do start working on it more it’ll give me plenty to talk about.

The Odyssey

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

Taking Gnomeregan by storm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conveniently, it's not just Dwarven sized.

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

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

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

Oh, the shame.

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

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

Pugging Pally By The Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critters killed in the making of this blog – 557

Paladins killed in the making of this blog – 42

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

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

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

Redeemed by paladins – 4

Revived by druids – 1, never rebirthed, incidentally.

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

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

Lich King 5-player bosses killed - 144

Lich King 5-player different bosses killed – 44

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

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

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

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

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

Total times LOL’d – 4, see above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even the patience of the Draenei has its limits

Vidyala has had ridiculously awesome luck with loot drops since beginning Northrend instances. It’s as if the Loot Gods look and say, “Lo, and it shall be healing plate,” and it is. I’ll admit something to you all here. This is what I envisioned when I rolled a holy Paladin. So many times I’d seen spellpower plate dropping and thought, “That stuff drops so often, and there’s no one here to take it. If only I had a holy paladin, she would be so well-dressed.” Yes, the motivating factor behind my alt-project, avarice, of course. It’s even working; she’s starting to be so well-dressed! I even had a fancy chestpiece drop, that I don’t wear but I was tempted. Losing 10% of my XP gain is bad, but the chestpiece itself has better stats than my heirloom.

Of the slots in which I am not wearing heirlooms, Vid has:

Head: Unbreakable Healing Amplifiers (an iLevel 200 I can wear at level 72, with a meta socket…thank you, Engineering!)
Neck: Mark of the Spider (BoE zone drop in Azjol-Nerub)
Back: Cloak of Azure Lights (OK, this one was a quest reward… the cloak from Jedoga in Old Kingdom dropped but I lost the roll to a warlock).
Wrist: Glowworm Cavern Bindings (BoE zone drop in Old Kingdom, mail, but it replaced wrists I had from a quest in Nagrand)
Off-hand: Tharon’ja’s Aegis (Tharon’ja in Drak’tharon Keep)
Hands: Aura Focused Gauntlets (Krik’thir the Gatewatcher in Azjol-Nerub)
Waist: Crawler-Emblem Belt (Elder Nadox, Old Kingdom)
Feet: Greaves of the Blue Flight (Ormorok the Tree Shaper, Nexus)

Basically, if Loot For A Paladin can drop, it has dropped, including BoE stuff that my group members were kind enough to let me have (even in one case of mail). I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m also a bit obsessive so I’m planning gear for 80.

For anyone else who might be gearing up a healing paladin sometime soon, here are the resources I’ve found. I welcome the addition of any I may have missed, in the comments! Some of them are unfortunately a bit outdated (e.g. Banana Shoulders, it’s a great guide but it was written before the current tier of emblems, and before the ICC and ToC instances).

Paladincraft.net’s Holy Paladin Gearing

Elitist Jerks Holy Paladin Thread

Banana Shoulders Pre-Raid Holy Paladin Gear List

Wowhead Forum topic someone else wrote about gearing their alt holy spec

Since I’ve hit Northrend with Vid, a funny thing is happening with my pugs. I’m awash in the sheer volume of them. It used to be easy to write an entry, “Oh, I went to this hour-long instance, I’ll write about that.” Now I’ve done Nexus something like six times.

One time was with a paladin tank who had apparently fallen from the sky, into Nexus, with little notion of how to use any of his tools and bad gear to match. He was incredibly hard to heal and I think still learning to tank – or had just queued as a tank for the fast queue times. He was slow. And I’m not of the “gogogo” school, I’d never pull for the tank, or be rude, but this guy was ponderously…just inching his way…through the instance. We could still be there, that’s all I’m saying.

I got dropped into Azjol-Nerub with a tank who was actually from my own server, and I remembered again what Veneretio said about how the dungeon tool is ruining your chances for raid tanking. I don’t know about that in this guy’s case, but I am surprised at the people who don’t seem interested in making connections even when they COULD. I mean, he seemed like a competent tank, I whispered him but he didn’t answer me (I’ll usually ask, “Hey, mind if I add you to my friends’ list?” This tank didn’t want to be my friend, which is fine, but really – how many people would pass up the opportunity to meet a decent enough healer, who isn’t a jerk and seems friendly? Before LFD, my friends list (on my old server) was crowded with tanks I’d met in pugs. I actually once logged over from one healer to another after running a pug with a tank, and he whispered me, “Hey, would you like to come heal xyz,” and I had to laugh because I’d just been running with him. He didn’t know they were both my characters, he’d just noted me as a healer on separate occasions. But nowadays, I guess people figure why bother to make friends on your server? Your next dungeon run is an instant queue away, and there’s a revolving merry-go-round of people willing to fill each role.

I know it’s ironic, coming from me, considering the name and focus of this blog so far, but I find this immensely disheartening. I said from the very beginning that my reason for pugging was that I enjoy the social and teamwork aspect of the game. I didn’t want to silently quest to 80 on yet another character, all by my lonesome. And for me, the experiment with Vidyala has been a smashing success, not the least of which is because a few people with stray characters have come to visit on Moonrunner. I’ve met great people, expanded my social circle – I’ve even met people on my server who happen to read here for some reason or other, which is really cool. But I’ve yet to meet more than a passing acquaintance through a pug. I used to meet people that way all the time.

Anyway, my failpug story for this entry comes to you from Azjol-Nerub, an instance so simple it’s hard to imagine that anyone could mess it up. Yet somehow, this DK tank did. We zoned in and pulled the first trash pack; everything was looking fine, we had no problems, and then the action ground to a halt. We looked back at the tank – he was just standing there. “Did he disconnect?” someone wondered. We did the WoW-equivalent of waving a hand in front of his face. We waited a few minutes, people grumbling. We tried to kick him (still had to wait 12 minutes before being able to kick him). We’d just started thinking about dropping group when miraculously, he moved! Without a word of apology or explanation, he ran in to aggro the next patrol (in Azjol-Nerub, one of the three-packs before the first boss).

The problem is, he was terrible. Aggro? He’d never heard of it. I know that the skirmisher has no aggro table, so that’s not his fault, but it wasn’t the only loose mob. I was web-wrapped and nobody freed me. I lost two DPSers on the first pull…and then we all started to panic as the next pack came towards us (I wasn’t able to get off a rez in time)… the tank had gone AFK. Again.

He came back and said, “Why is everyone dead!” I replied, “That’s what happens when you AFK in the middle of a pull,” while the shadow priest chimed in, “Seriously? You don’t know that these packs are all tied together?” It’s not rocket surgery to figure out when a pug is going south fast with no hope of recovery. I told the tank, “I will rez you, but then I’m out of here, this isn’t worth my time, sorry guys.” That’s what 59-odd levels of pugging have taught me – some pugs aren’t worth saving, it’s best to just put it down. I  have no guilt.

Somewhere in there I had my first Violet Hold run (uneventful). I’m starting to run into people whose 80 friends are running normals with them. It made healing the VH tank sort of a joke. I could have been retribution for that run I think, easily. When I’m not running pugs I’ve been doing a few other things – going back to do now-grey Hellfire quests for the Honor Hold rep. Do you know the quest where you have to assist the Draenei anchorite with an exorcism? He gives you the prayer beads that the dog stole and buried (I think Rades may have mentioned this…)

Anyway, I was doing that quest the other day, and you can target either the anchorite or the “released darkness” (floating skulls). I kept having to retarget the NPC to use the beads on him. Of course NPCs all do that oddly jarring “generic response” thing when you click them, which often leads to funny times:

Very angry human NPC in quest text! But you click him and he says, “Hey there!”

This Draenei was the opposite! I clicked on him the first time and he said, “You have other matters to attend to, yes?”

Sure, I’m helping you with the prayer bead thing. Look, see? I clicked him again.

“The Naaru frown upon such behaviour,” he admonished me.

But I’m just trying to help out! I target and click him again. He says, “Even the patience of the Draenei has its limits,” and then at another click, “I think I hear someone calling you…” This poor NPC just wants me to leave him alone so he can do his “Back, demon!” thing. I was really just being helpful.

It was the final one that broke me, though. In a tone of increasing irritation and despair, there in the midst of the exorcism, the Draenei demanded to know, “Who taught you to act like this?!” NPCs have it rough.

p.s. – I heard a little something about changes to the way that raids work. I’m sure you have too, unless you’re living under a rock. I’ll probably write about them sometime soon, maybe after the furor dies down a little. My unadulterated glee is having trouble expressing itself in 8000 words or less.

p.p.s. – The only funny search result that brought someone here this week was “Straight outta Gnomeregan.” The rest of them are variations of “I died in Blood Furnace,” “How do I get my corpse out of Blood Furnace,” and “Blood Furnace corpse run.” The answer? You came to the very, very wrong place, it took me at least twenty minutes.

As Bad As Three-Week Old Tuna Casserole

Vidyala reached another milestone yesterday. Well, it was “yesterday” when I first wrote this, but it’s no longer yesterday. Still, look! For non-paladin people, this screenshot is like secret paladin code for “I am now level 70.”

Every time a pug tank lets a healer drink, an angel gets its wings.

I don’t know why I always seem to end up taking screenshots of her in Ironforge. It’s where I do most of my banking, and my capital city of choice to go to when I need to. Which is nearly never, as she’s an engineer. I honestly just found the engineering AH a few days ago. I had reached Northrend level engineering, and thought, “There’s an engineering trainer in Dalaran! I can just go there.” I clicked on the wrong NPC, and my jaw dropped, literally, as the happy “Ding!” sound of the auction house greeted my ears. I may or may not have turned to my husband and said, “*!&@^@^ there’s a !^!&%!% auction house for engineers in Dalaran,” so great was my surprise and delight.

I have begun Northrend pugging in earnest, quite a bit with my trusty bear, and a little bit on my own. I realized that if I didn’t run some pugs without the “safety net” I might well never do it again. But I was a little afraid. Because you see, we went to Utgarde Keep. And the trash was tough. Everyone was taking a ton of damage, a situation that tends to chill me. “So many people are taking damage!” quickly translates in my mind to “someone is going to die very soon.” In this case I was sort of right – Lara died as we faced Yngvar (a.k.a Mr. Pathetic Failure). All the times we’ve run UK, this has happened.

I’ve found that it’s hard to adapt to the new gear requirements of an expansion without doing a bit of questing to augment. The pre-quests and quests for Nexus have yielded some rather nice returns. I can sense level 80 on the horizon and I am heading for it as quickly as possible! Now my gear is adequate to the instances and I’ve gotten some upgrades inside, as well. We ran Nexus with an extremely oblivious rogue, and a DK who had his eye on my wiener forks, people.

Because Blizz, in their infinite wisdom, won’t let me roll on spellpower mail – even when there’s nobody in the party who would use it, the rogue won some gloves from a boss in Nexus. I lamented that I couldn’t “Need” on them, politely: “Gee, it’s a shame that it doesn’t let me roll on those, I would wear them.” Someone else in the party said, “Oh, that sucks, I would usually hand them over though.” Nothing from the rogue. I said, “Well, that would be nice but it’s entirely up to so-and-so, he’s not obligated.” Which is actually true. Usually polite social pressure works in this scenario, but the rogue was blissfully oblivious. Later on one of the other bosses dropped a fist weapon, and I said (without a hint of sarcasm), “Oh great! I’m glad you got some gear YOU CAN USE.” (OK, so there were no capitals. But still). He said, “Me too.”

Meantime, this Death Knight, wow. I didn’t realize they handed out “Picking up chicks 101″ to Death Knights, because he was a regular Casanova. The conversation (whispered) went something like this:

“Do u work for Blizz?”
“Umm, nope! Why?”
“Ur so polite and nice”
“Not really, I’m Canadian.”
“Oh yah is it cold up there?”
“Not really, the weather’s been really nice, around 50 F.”
“It’s 85 F here in [thisstate] really hot! I like it here I’m originally from [otherstate] though”
(Me, not responding, thinking we could just let this die)
“Love the Canadian accent, BTW”
(Further not responding: and why would he say that? He can’t actually HEAR me typing.)
“Can I keep running with you guys? You and Ann, ur so nice”
“I think we’re finished after this one, sorry.”
(Then finally, at the end)
“I hope I run into you again, ur a really great and nice player!”

Well thanks, DK. U seem nice yourself. A little too nice. I, on the other hand, am probably not as nice as I may otherwise appear. The shadow priest in the same group found this out to his detriment, as he started telling us How To Nexus as we ran into Keri’s room.

“So you have to move when you are taking damage,” he tells the group at large. Nobody really says much. I’ve run this instance so many times. He makes a point of saying it again, but this time he’s pointing it at me. “You have to move when you take damage, Heals,” he says. Yes, heals. “Really?” I type back furiously. “Because I’ve never been here before, I’m glad you knew.”

We finish off Keri with no problems. A funny thing about that damaging aura, though… it persists after she’s actually dead. The shadow priest has taken a lot of damage. Somehow… I’m just not quick enough with the Flash of Light. “You have to move when you take damage,” I tell his corpse helpfully. “I was healing someone else,” he says, sullen. I tell him it’s very nice of him to keep an eye on other people’s health like that. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, myself.

When I had time to pug later and Ann wasn’t around, I queued up. I picked Azjol-Nerub specifically because I really wanted to get it done (plus it had loot I had my eye on). I must have the stupidest luck ever, because of the things that Kaliban’s Loot List says are to be found for me in AN – both dropped. A BoE necklace, and the plate healing gloves from the first boss. The group was really nice and let me have the BoE (promptly equipped, replacing my Sethekk Halls quest necklace). The tank was quirky, interesting, and I think doped up on some really powerful cough meds. A few pulls into the instance she says in party, “So, my mage friend and I just wanted to tell you that you are way better than the pally healer that we had earlier today.”
“Thanks,” I respond, “Bad?”

Bad as three-week old tuna casserole!” she says. I can tell this run is going to be fun. And it is, the tank and the mage are joking as we go, my new Northrend gear is proving its worth and healing the place is fine. Interesting, but fine. That’s my happiest instance run zone – people taking enough damage that I need to heal them and I don’t feel like “Why am I here again?” but not so much damage that it’s always a razor’s edge decision as to whether they will live or die. I have something ridiculous like 15K mana now (I know, it’s only the beginning, but for a level 73? I think, not bad.) I ended up running three instances with that group. Azjol-Nerub once, and randomly we drew Utgarde Keep twice. By the end the tank was falling asleep. I told her during the first UK run, that I didn’t want to alarm her but there was this thing that had been happening where I keep killing my tank at Yngvar. “That’s not going to happen,” she replied, and she was actually right. I still don’t
like the fight, but it’s okay now.

The only other thing of note was that I let a moonkin die. I know. My stories seem to have a lot of “I let so and so” die. The thing is, we ran Utgarde Keep twice. The first time, we get to the first narrow, crowded corridor. It is a perfect place, one might think, for a large-radius AoE spell that isn’t targeted. Wait, actually it isn’t a great place for that spell. Nonetheless, the bane of tanks and healers everywhere, and I’m guilty of it myself – Starfall. Also known as “HEY GAIZ I’M HERE CASTING SOME SPELLS COME EAT MY FACE.”

I threw Hand of Protection and beaconed him, healed the tank as she picked up aggro, and he lived, it was all good. So when that instance was done and we queued again and get UK, I wondered – is he going to do the same thing? We run up into the corridor, and sure enough, I see those tell-tale stars. I throw him some heals, initially, giving the tank a chance to pick up the mobs, but her cough medicine is kicking in and she’s a bit slower. He had a ton of things pounding on him and I just let it go. The tank was actually upset, “Was that me? What happened?” she said.

The moonkin, to his credit, owned up right away. “No it was my fault,” he said, and I added, “He is learning that Starfall is both his best friend and worst enemy…” I look at it this way philosophically. It’s better for him to die once in UK when he’s level 71 and maybe pay more attention to when he pops his massive AoE aggro-fest, than for healers to aid and abet that kind of behaviour and have him dying the entire way. Hey, I play a DPS, I know how it is! Why, I know a moonkin who once cast Starfall in the middle of the crowded room before Loken. What moonkin would be so foolhardy, you may wonder? I’ll never tell. Let’s just say I’m aware that my DPSing may come with a healthy dose of death, and almost all of the time it’s well-deserved on my part.

The other thing I wanted to mention was how marked the difference is between: XP gained in Burning Crusade and Classic dungeons versus Northrend dungeons. It’s really not very good. Three instance runs yielded something like eight bars of XP (or less than half a level, if you want to get technical, which I clearly don’t). So there’s another big reason why the “pugging pally” has become the “puquesting pally,” because I want this character to be eighty sometime in the next few weeks. She’s already over four months old. I intend to talk more about the leveling experience once I hit the big 8-0. But for now, I leave you with an image, and a quote from one of our newest guildies. He said, “Your blog makes me want to level an alt! …But not like that.”

The goggles! They do everything! Including gather an army of baby murlocs for me.