Tag Archives: pally fashion

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Tuesday Art Day: Gale, The Argent Champion

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

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Tuesday Art Day: Haz Mace, Will Raid

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I’ve been trying to expand the range of WordPress options that I’m using, specifically when it comes to displaying images and any other media. For the Well-Dressed Paladin contest I thought the gallery display was rather successful. It was nice … Continue reading

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Tuesday Art Day: Righteous Defense

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I’ll admit it, this is a post that’s been delayed several times because I knew how many images it would require. (It’s a lot). You have been warned! Sometime a few months ago, the illustrious Rhidach of Righteous Defense inquired … Continue reading

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The Well-Dressed Paladin: A Pugging Pally Contest!

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As Vid leveled her way through Azeroth, Outland, and beyond, it’s no big secret that she hated the clothes she was wearing as she did it. (She did, I did, we all hated them). They were weenie roasting forks. They … Continue reading

The ICC Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“BLUES!” the cry went out.

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

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

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

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

They weren’t.

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

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

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

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

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

The Odyssey

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

Taking Gnomeregan by storm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conveniently, it's not just Dwarven sized.

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

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

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

Oh, the shame.

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

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

Pugging Pally By The Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critters killed in the making of this blog – 557

Paladins killed in the making of this blog – 42

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

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

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

Redeemed by paladins – 4

Revived by druids – 1, never rebirthed, incidentally.

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

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

Lich King 5-player bosses killed - 144

Lich King 5-player different bosses killed – 44

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

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

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

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

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

Total times LOL’d – 4, see above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I seem to have misplaced my pants.

A funny thing is happening with my pug runs lately. I haven’t been able to connect much with Lara so I’ve just been doing a few randoms on my own. But the strange thing is, they’re getting exceedingly…competent. Nothing funny is happening as a result of this, which is something of a relief but also leads to a strange feeling of… I’m not sure what to call the feeling. In any case, my guild’s two very vocal protection paladins have been badgering me about being Prot. One of them referred disparagingly to me in the manner of, “Well, what can you do with a pally who won’t tank, anyway?” and the other one insisted “But you could see things the way I see them!” I told him that:

1) I have little to no gear for this venture. Especially, no shield.
2) Learning to tank in pugs at nearly 80 would probably not go well. Learning to tank in heroics would be even worse, so conditionally I’ll only do it if I can drag some guildies along. Which is actually a terrible idea because they’re all ICC-geared and will pull from me casually and effortlessly, but at least they probably wouldn’t die. We had our ret paladin tank Oculus the other day without a single death. How does it make tanks feel to be superfluous? Probably the same way I feel when I’m “healing” my husband’s warrior tank.

Anyway, so I told our pally tank these things, and he said, “You have a shield, you have a healing shield!” and I laughed at him. Then my Violet Hold run came up, and this tanking shield dropped. The tank already had it. With an inward sigh, I piped up, “Does anyone mind if I take that for offspec?” Nobody minded. I have a tanking shield.

“The WoW gods!” pushy paladin proclaimed. “They’re trying to tell you!”

I queued for another random, this time winding up in Gundrak. The only remarkable thing about this Gundrak run was that, firstly, the paladin tank was pretty tough to heal. In an “OMG why is she taking so much damage it’s just trash”  kind of way. We went on like this for a little ways, myself not understanding, but not having time to look at her gear (can’ttalkhealingguys). I couldn’t even remark on it or ask her what was up because I just had to be continuously healing her. I can’t work in these conditions! Anyway, it dawned on me, long after the first boss and somewhere near the trash before the “I’m a purple mojo, no wait, I’m a construct” boss.

She was level 74. The trash in Gundrak is 77, and the bosses are 78. There’s a reason they were beating the everloving snot out of her. That she was even able to hold aggro on them was impressive to me, and I told her so. The whole group loved her, we made it through without any problems…and a tanking ring dropped. Everyone greeded on it. “Does anyone mind if I take that for offspec?” I asked again. Nobody did. If the loot gods have a message for me, I’m not listening.

Unfortunately, presently I’m conflicted. Actually I’m not conflicted at all, I’m decided. Experience gains from Northrend dungeons is the pits. There, I said it. I can do a whole instance like Gundrak, and it’ll net me two bars or something. I can do three quests and get the same. So I’ve quested in some strategic spots to creep my way to level 80 – Zul’drak, for a few quest rewards. These were necessary quest rewards, primarily because…

I disenchanted my pants. Yes. In an effort to make room, I said, “Oh, look at these crappy green pants,” crush, crush, sparkly magic dust, and then later I went to heal something. “…where are my pants?”

So I had to quest to find a new pair of pants. I also want the Argent Crusade folks to love me because they offer some good pants to wear at level 78, with a socket even. Things To Cover My Rear are a primary concern for me, you see. And they also have a ring I can wear once I’m Exalted with them and 80. I don’t know how much of this gear will be obsolete, but I’d really like to minimize the amount of ilevel 200 crafted gear I’ll need. I did buy some BoEs, but it seems that largely, the gear from normal instances is aimed at letting you move into heroics, if you have enough of it, right? This could be a misconception on my part, but I feel that with a solid tank I shouldn’t need too much in the way of additional fancy sparklies of the crafted variety. More on that when I get to eighty and get crushed.

And it will happen soon, oh yes. I quested through a bit of Icecrown yesterday (I wanted the Cannoneer’s Fuselighter, and also to hear Tirion shout “THE TIME OF THE ARGENT CRUSADE IS NOW. Fight them with the fire of a thousand burning suns in your heart!” or similar).

So, to make a long story short: I’d like to be 80! It would take a zillion pugs between 77 and 80 without any questing to do it. Shiny paladin heals are fun. Here are some search results from this week:

helmet dropped in scarlet monastery: This is a good thing, isn’t it? I’m not sure why you had to google it. Did you feel guilty? It dropped and then I ROLLED ON IT. That makes you, you know, someone who runs instances. It’s cool.

stuck outside maraudon of instance dead: You have to head towards the cave. Then run in circles awhile. Head towards the colour of crystals you were doing. In my case, this was usually purple.

scarlet monastery lost in graveyard: I’m really sorry, but you’re beyond help. You’re worse than I am, and I’m pretty bad.

underwear outside pants: You can thank Vid’s earlier, dubious fashion choices for this bizarre search result.

Oh, the shame.

ninja! shadowfang keep: I think this is my favourite search result, somewhat related to the one below it. I was talking about the sneaky orcs in Shattered Halls, but of course it would lead to people indignant about loot ninjas in their groups. It’s the exclamation point that makes it, I think. It conveys a sense of shock and resentment. There! Was! A! Ninja!

shattered halls ninjas: I’d say, “Don’t worry, you’ll run it again and get the same loot,” but even I only ran Shattered Halls once, so I’m very sorry for your troubles.

biggest ninja: It wasn’t me, I swear.

things you’re not supposed to notice
: In my case, it was a chipper rogue I wasn’t supposed to notice, but I like that it’s bringing conspiracy theorists here, maybe. There are so many things you aren’t supposed to notice! Thoughtcrime is death. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious,” etc.

tank map of gnomer?
: Cassandri made a really spiffy one.

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.

“That’s the biggest ninja I’ve ever seen!”

There’s a particular feeling that comes with being a tank and a healer pugging together. It’s a kind of freedom. But more than that, it’s the feeling of “you need us more than we need you.”

Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t become the blog about how I abuse random puggers. I don’t, and certainly Lara doesn’t. But if a DPS is rude or mouthy – we could kick them, easily, and have another in the time it takes us to click “A member has left your group for [This Instance]. Would you like to find another?” They’re ultimately replaceable. But we’ve been pugging, and it has been fun.

First, I went and did the Nesingwary quests to acquire the Blessed Book of Nagrand. Librams don’t grow on trees, folks, and this is the first one I’ve been able to obtain that actually benefits my healing. I had another one from a Hellfire quest earlier on but it’s not really a Holy libram. So I have this, and lo, it is glorious.

We thought that maybe we’d like to run Escape from Durnholde, and so we’d gone to do the tour-guide pre-quest thing. But when we queued up for it, it was taking an uncommonly long time. (A whole five minutes, no kidding). I remembered that before we’d done the pre-quest there had been a lock symbol (not that kind of ‘lock) next to Durnholde in my LFD queue pane. It won’t put you in there for a random unless you have gone to the Caverns of Time, and done the whole ring-around-the-rosey thing. I consider this a major oversight on Blizz’s part. You worked to make this content, you created the LFD tool so that people would run it. Don’t make it so that the average person can’t hop in there to see it. I like Durnholde, but if we want to do it I think we’ll have to get a group together by asking around in LFG which may be more trouble than it’s worth because I still anticipate the trouble of people not having done the pre-quest. Might be something we’ll need to go back and steamroll later in order to get it done.

Instead we queued for a random, and drew Sethekk Halls again. My husband hates this place so much that when I was running it to get the Anzu mount for my druid, he’d say, “Yeah sure, I’ll go to septic halls with you.” I don’t dislike it, though. We did have a bit of a mishap with one of the mind-controlling totems. The totem picked Lara out of the group – I was frantically trying to beat the totem down, and I think the group turned…and commenced to beat the crap out of my poor bear. She died.

We went on to do The Shattered Halls (what’s with all the Halls places?) It was a pretty interesting run, I’ve never done it at level before. I love having a tank who can innervate me. The gauntlet parts of the instance are just pressing enough that they feel urgent and had me watching my mana use as well as utilizing all the cooldowns available to me. The fire patches at the end of one of these gauntlets proved a bit distracting for one of our DPSers – so attracted was he by the glowing light, much like a moth, that he walked into it and ignited promptly. A similar event happened on the boss who puts shadow void zones on the ground, but I’m sure the incident was unrelated.

I was briefly excited to think that I could blow the door down with one of my engineering bombs, but sadly, I couldn’t. We had no rogue and no blacksmith of the appropriate level either, so we had to Scooby Doo it through the sewers of fel orc muck. Overall, I liked Shattered Halls, it was challenging enough. I would not have liked it with a less familiar tank, though.

He really is a big ninja.

After we were done there, we wanted more of a challenge. Unable to get through the portal to the Isle of Quel’Danas (affectionately referred to hereafter as the Isle of WTF, a moniker that has persisted since the first time I went to do dailies there at level 70 and was bewildered by the mass of people and mobs), we opted to queue for it via LFD without actually picking up the attunement quest.

Our MgT group was actually pretty good. We had two mages and a DK. The DK was one of those random, loud people that just says stuff and leaves you scratching your head. I find these types always make a pug run entertaining, if nothing else. We had a bit of a mishap at the first boss (I want to say Selin Fireheart, but I’m not sure if that’s right). One mage and the DK didn’t come into the room as we were engaging, and got locked out. “YOU LOCKED US OUT OF THE ROOM,” the DK exclaimed. Lara apologized and said she hadn’t meant to, and he stood outside the door ranting and raving the whole time. “Lier,” he said, “You meant to do it.” We assured him that we really hadn’t deliberately been trying to three-man the boss…which we then proceeded to three-man with nary a hitch. And to think, my guild told me I’d need the Arcanite Reaper to do DPS. Hah!

Magister’s Terrace was probably the most pugging fun I’ve had since… the most pugging fun that I’ve had. I knew that going in at only level 69 was fairly bold of us – that instance isn’t messing around. Much like the Icecrown Citadel 5-man instances, back at 70 it had better loot than most of the other instances, and was a “step up” in difficulty. We actually employed crowd control (two sheeped mobs per group, on some pulls) and methodically made our way through with little further incident. The one thing I wasn’t looking forward to was Kael’thas. The kiting necessary to keep the phoenix engaged is tricky. We entrusted this task to one of the mages initially, but I’m pretty sure that the Death Knight got involved. In any case, while we were flying around and freaking out and I was trying to heal the massive AoE damage, one mage died. Then the other mage tried to take over – that mage died too. Then the Death Knight died.

It was just Lara and I, and Kael’thas. “I’ll turn your world upside down!” he kept yelling. I do not mind admitting, I was completely freaking out. Healing on the run is not my strong suit with this character. I slapped Beacon on myself. I healed Lara. I’d swim/fly by and holy shock her, pause for a second to toss a quick FoL, then when we landed, I’d Judge Kael’thas and swipe away at him with my silly healing mace, and Holy Shock, and just whatever. It was hair-raising. It took several “flight” phases. But we got him down! Just the two of us. And for an extra treat, look what he dropped:

I will pet him, and love him, and call him George.

I wanted either Lara or I to have him. I won the roll with a 100, but we will maybe have to go back and get one for her too, when we can do the place with only two. Needless to say, I felt that we earned that little phoenix, even though the DK made a rude gesture at me for my hundred roll. One of the mages was extremely gracious in saying, “I think that it should go to the ones left standing,” which obviously I couldn’t say on our behalf, but I was secretly thinking. When you down the last boss of MgT with just two people, it’s kind of a big deal.

After that, we did this:

Your pathetic failure will serve as a warning to all.

First Northrend instance (twice), and first Triumph emblems. (Why, back in my day, Triumph emblems didn’t just grow on trees… we were grateful to have an instance with DPSers who seemed to know where their “2″ button was and didn’t pull aggro. We traipsed all the way to the meeting stone and we liked it…!) But I have to admit, I don’t much mind the change for my spoiled alts. Pugging to 80 should amass a goodly amount of emblems that will serve me well. Right now, even with twinked out gems in my gear I felt that healing this instance was a struggle. Not the whole way, but definitely hairy at parts. I have been using Beacon (Highest DPS/health or myself, and not hunters) and that helps some. I figure that some more gear for Lara and myself probably won’t hurt, even if it means giving up all those luscious gem sockets. I can’t help but remember that everything I’ve read also says that healing five-mans is harder than healing raids, and I could see why that would be. To some extent, is that going to change though, with the Cataclysm changes?

On that note, you won’t find a breakdown of Cataclysm changes for any class here. I’m too easily distractable with my various alts. I can jot down my reactions, though.

Mage: Heck yes we are getting Mage Heroism. There isn’t a single mage change I’m not happy about. They’re mixing up Arcane a little bit, and looking at Fire (which used to be one of my favourite trees to play) and even Frost is getting a bit of attention. I really like being a mage, and Cataclysm looks like it’ll be a good time to be one.

Druid: They went and made all the trees sad. Well, most of the trees. I’m a fairly indifferent tree. If anything, I dislike moonkin form and wish I could choose to eschew it, but it’s one of those things I just deal with because I love the druid’s utility. We were doing Yogg + One Light the other day to get some more people Rusted proto drakes. I was going into the brain room – if I hadn’t been a druid, I couldn’t have put HoTs on the melee as we ran, then went boomkin at the brain and DPSed the heck out of it. Druids are very cool. I think the solution to have the perma-tree form be a minor glyph is a reasonable one. I wouldn’t personally glyph it, but it would let folks glyph it who care about the form a great deal.

Shaman: Right now the shaman is a strong contender for a Class I Might Like To Play More come Cataclysm. The changes aimed at making resto a more mobile healer are quite yummy, as well as instant cast Lava Bursts (Lava burst to the face!) We’ll have to see how this goes, but I like it.

Paladin: I don’t think the nerf to Beacon was a huge surprise. What we have here is a class/spec that is so strong in many contexts that it makes any other option laughable. We’re working on Heroic Saurfang right now and without a Holy Paladin’s ability to heal two people at once… it’s hard. I know that “bring the player not the class” can go too far, but in some cases it can go Not Far Enough. We have a great resto druid and Disc priest but the two of them together can’t touch this encounter the way a holy paladin could. I’m not sure why Blizz delayed the announcement when they announced really, so little. Except the Hands thing. Because I needed another “hands” spell to not get confused about. Yes.

Finally, search engine terms! Because I love them.

can a dk tank ramparts – My personal experience suggests otherwise, but your mileage may vary.

pugs sudden death – Yes, they do that. I’d suggest first things first: Look down. Are your feet on fire? If not, look around: Are there corpses located in anything that resembles: ooze, void zones, burning patches, freezing patches, or anything else commonly called “floor candy”? One of those corpses may be your tank and/or healer, and is possibly the source of your problem. Few pugs are willing to admit that they may have in any way messed up, as well, which leads to Sudden Pug Death.

troll totem – The newly redesigned totems are very cool. They look like this: Totems!

why is scarlett monastery so great – Why is Scarlet Monastery so great? I think that it’s because it’s broken up into digestible pieces (Graveyard notwithstanding, which is a bit boring). It has enough patrols to keep you on your toes, corner places for line of sight pulls, a guy who tortures people for fun, and some weird dominatrix relationship drama thing at the end, plus a pseudo-cultist religious order has “win” written all over it. It’s also pretty linear, which means I won’t get lost in it.

level 80 running alt thru stockade – You don’t really need to google this, do you? Just…run in and facepull things. Everything, if you want. I like to do it with my priest. Shield, facepull half a wing, Holy Nova! Profit. Tell your lowbie buddy to hang way back and don’t do ANYTHING. Don’t even breathe. Just give you plenty of room, don’t cast, and be a loot monkey, that is their appointed task.

quickest way to finish gnomeregan – Hahaha.

wiener fork healer – That’s Mrs. Wiener Fork Healer to you, bub. What are you staring at? They work for marshmallows too.

Of Tanks and Healers

It’s a special moment, isn’t it? You look into each other’s eyes. You think to yourself, “Now here’s someone who would make a Last Stand for me.” They see a certain something in your gaze, a spark. You might even say, a Flash of Light. You know that this is The One. A tank that you can trust.

There’s a certain something about a tank and healer pair, something that people who’ve never played either might not understand. I don’t mean this to be exclusionary, after all – my main raiding character is primarily a damage dealer. But I’ve been a healer and played many healers and it’s truthfully the thing that often draws me back to healing. I find myself missing it.

The tank and healer must cooperate in a way that no other role does. Tanks work together to coordinate pulls, taunts, and specific tasks. Healers work together to know who’s going to heal who and when. You have to be able to trust everyone in your raid team (more about that another time). Of course the tank is watching out for everybody, if they’re a good tank. But your primary task is to keep them alive, and they know that if you die – their grisly demise comes shortly thereafter.You have to be able to depend on each other.

I’ll never forget the time we went back to Ulduar with a new tank. He was new to our group and the encounters. One of the first bosses we tackled was Ignis. This tank was a paladin, and his job was to keep the angry automaton adds off the rest of the raid. We had a Discipline priest healing with myself (resto druid) so the obvious choice was for me to heal the raid, and the OT. Okay. So I was healing this paladin and he missed one of the adds, which merrily proceeded to try and eat my face. I popped Barkskin, started hotting myself up, and then I called out in Vent, “Add on me!”

He snapped back, “I’m a little busy here.

I made a scoff-choking sound of indignation and rage, and then yelled at my monitor (without pushing to talk, naturally), “SO AM I. I’M BUSY TRYING TO HEAL YOUR SORRY *SS.”

I know that he was stressed out because he was new to the encounter, and possibly he’d forgotten that I was a healer… I used to play a DPS role. But I was left with a feeling of betrayal. This tank and I weren’t headed for a good relationship.

The tank’s just not that into you

All the signs are there. They’re pulling away – way, way ahead of you. She says things like, “Heals?” or asks where you were. Actually, amendent, the tank calls you “Heals.” She’s gone while you’re drinking. He doesn’t taunt when something is trying to kill you, or he AFKs when he should be throwing heals your way. There’s no trust there.

I hope we’re not talking about a tank in a raiding situation – but the tank-healer relationship exists in a pug too. Except that pugging is like the equivalent of blind dating fifty people in a row, each less attractive than the previous. They chew with their mouth open or you split the bill and they don’t tip. So what can you do to foster some good tank-healer vibes, both in the short and the long term?

What we have here is a failure to…

I can’t stress this enough. In a pug, communicate, communicate, communicate. If you’re tanking, ask your healer to let you know if their mana is low. Watch their mana. Ask them if they’re comfortable with you making larger pulls. When in doubt about anything, just ask. The healer will know that you are a responsible tank who wants the group to succeed. And you’ll get to know what you can expect from your healer. Even if you’re only together for an hour, you still have to work as a team to get the job done. Don’t ever get accusatory with a healer who seems to be struggling – a bad situation can go from bad to worse. Perhaps they’re new to healing, or maybe you’re harder to heal. If you ask, you can pace yourself accordingly – or maybe even consider things you could do with spec, gear, or glyphs to make healing you easier if you’re inexplicably squishy.

As a healer, I’m going to say it again, communicate, communicate, communicate. You need to drink? Let the tank know. Make a macro if you have to. I made a stupid one for my druid while I was leveling her that was really corny, along the lines of, “Don’t leaf me behind, I’m watering the plants, otherwise I’ll have to bark at you.”

Yes, I know. I like stuff like that, but you’re here reading this, so you already knew. It was lighthearted and a bit nerdy, but it got the point across. Very simple things like owning up to mistakes and just being forthright with how things are at your end can help smooth over what might otherwise be a nightmare pug. When I got lost, I admitted I was hopelessly lost, and my group helped to find me. When I had to continually ask to stop and drink, I confessed that I’d been having mana troubles lately. Especially in pugs while you’re leveling, everyone is in the same boat. They may have struggled with mana, or something else that led to them dying. Most people are just regular, good people. Yes, there are well-documented exceptions.

So if you need to give the tank pertinent information, or something is bothering you, or you aren’t sure about something, ask! There are no stupid questions (except “Who’s the tank?” There’s a shield next to your name, doofus.)

Going Steady

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be in a guild with a tank you really like, or you just have a tanking buddy you get to hang out with often, or a similarly fantastic healer. This is a great place to be. If leveling a character via pugs is like blind dating, a solid tank or healer you can trust is like a marriage. She leaves toast crumbs on the counter, but you expect them. You know he’ll be your Guardian Spirit and you’ll be there with a Shield Wall when he needs it.

Often tank-healer pairs really are married in real life. My husband plays a tank, and when I was healing him it was great. We’re sitting in the same room, so I could always say to him, “Go ahead and pull these next three packs, I’ve got you,” or he’d hear that chokey yelp noise I make when I’m throwing out HoTs as fast as my branches can toss them and know that he needed to use a cooldown to give me some breathing space – or I would say to him, “Use something NOW.” It’s a pretty handy situation, but you don’t have to be married to your tank or healer to have a good relationship with them.

I’m going to keep harping on about this, but when you aren’t in the same room with your tank or healer, communication becomes even more vital. Use Vent. The more you run with someone, the more you’ll get to know their idiosyncrasies. “Slaphappy always charges ahead when he’s going to engage a group of mobs, I’ll have to make sure to stick closer to melee than otherwise, so I don’t get left behind,” or “There’s a lot of movement in this fight so I know that Shamtastic might be distracted and need me to use a cooldown at some point.”

You won’t always know exactly what’s going on with the other person – but that’s when you ask. I actually went through a bit of these growing pains myself, when our guild was doing hardmode Mimiron. My job was to tank the head in phase three, and at that time our awesome pally healer would switch off and heal me. It was a bit strange for me to be in a tanking role, and I was goofing it up. His healing skills amazed me. He kept up my squishy self through damage I would’ve never expected to be able to live through, even with mitigation talents. But a few times, I died. I whispered him. Guess what I said.

“Heals?”

NO! I said, “Gee, I’m still getting the hang of this. What can I do better?”

He said that my blinking was making it a bit tougher for him to always keep up with me, and that a few times when I had been line of sighting Mim’s head around a corner, I’d left him completely behind. I was more careful the next times to watch where he was before I blinked away willy-nilly, we stuck together, and his healing kept me alive while I was tanking. We made a great team.

Always Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

I’ve met a lot of tanks during the course of my pug leveling. Some have been good, and I connected with and liked them a lot. Some of them have been very bad. (Maybe they thought that about my healing, too). It’s possible to have a positive experience and a tank-healer combo that communicates well in a pug, but I won’t lie, it is more rare especially in these LFD days when many folks queue as a tank or healer simply because they know it will get them a group instantly and not because they enjoy it or actually know what they’re doing.

To borrow my earlier analogy, if pugging is like blind dating, lately the rejection has been starting to get to me. I struggled for a way to end this entry because I realized that the reason I was writing about tanks and healers was that I was weary of feeling I couldn’t trust the person nominally ‘in charge’ of each run. It became clear to me during my last few Mana Tombs run. In one, the DK tank zoned in, pulled all the trash and nearly died although I was healing him the whole time. “This isn’t right,” I thought, although in party I said “um, omg.” He responded cleverly, “omg ur mom.” So I just said, “Why did you nearly die? That was just trash.”

“Oh, my gear is mostly red and yellow,” he said. “Guess I should go repair.”

Yes, DK, I guess you should. He disconnected instead and we voted to kick him, bringing in a marginally less clueless DK.

Another Mana Tombs run saw me zoning in with a different tank – “Misspladin” [sic]. It didn’t start well, beginning with my usual “Excuse me I just have to respec and regain my mana,” statement. “Please hang on a sec while I drink,” I told the tank. She started pulling right away and didn’t stop, period. I was completely OOM, but I managed to type, “Or  you could just ignore me and start chain-pulling, that would work too.” By some miracle we managed to down the first big shadow boss guy, and then the tank did a curious thing. In chat, he typed only a sort of wicked, evil emoticon… crashed into the next three groups of mobs, and then bubble-hearthed and dropped group.

“OH NO HE DIDN’T,” I shouted in party chat. I’m not going to dwell on what causes people to do things like this. One of the DPSers said she could get her boyfriend to come in and tank. He was a 70 DK. It’s Mana Tombs. How hard can this be, right?

Hard enough that we all nearly died with the exploding arcane wyrm things. Enough that when I said, “Mana,” he ran ahead and kept pulling regardless and we all did die. Again. I said, “And that’s what happens when you pull and your healer is OOM.”

“Having mana is overrated,” he said to me.

“So is dying repeatedly,” I told him.

Faced with a future of tiresome pugs, Vid contemplates exchanging her healing shield and mace for a metric ton of chocolate.

And I meant it. I left the group, wondering if I’d ever even finishing leveling poor Vid, or just start questing and never look back. I was resolved to do it, but then was prevailed upon to give it one last go.

Mana Tombs again, and this time a bear tank. “Let me know if you need to drink,” she whispered to me, “But I’ll keep an eye on your bar.”

The instance started out promisingly with the usual suspects – a DK who felt that he could go ahead and do all the pulling for our bear. But unlike any other tank I’ve seen in all my pugging, she stopped dead.

“You pulled that,” she said, “You fight it.” She stood there. The DK struggled with the group, flailing around as his health took a massive beating. Taking my cue from her, nary a heal went his way. He very nearly died – oh so close to dead – I think she may have taunted the final mob at the last second, or else he just lucked out. I laughed a lot. “Now, are you finished wasting time?” she asked.

Uber-DK lurched ahead and pulled another group. “Apparently not,” remarked the druid, and we killed his extra group, and then kicked him. The rest of the group was pleasant and easygoing, and the run was completely smooth. We didn’t have any deaths or any problems. My heart wasn’t beating out of my chest, nor was I shouting at my monitor in frustration. I knew when I had to drink I could, but I hardly had to drink at all because my tank was so practiced with cooldowns, surgical with pulls, and threw an innervate my way when I needed it.

In short, it was the absolute most fun I’ve had in a pug in a long while. I could relax and actually enjoy it. We went on to do Sethekk Halls afterwards and it was just as good, enough that someone at the end remarked, “Solid group.” It was an incredibly solid group, unbelievably so, and I firmly believe it was so because the tank and I trusted each other and communicated.

(Incidentally – a DPSer named “Bumpirate?” I don’t have to say anything more about that. This stuff writes itself).

But I have to admit, I’ve been holding back on you a little bit. I’ve told you the story but not the whole story, or the whole truth.

The truth is, I went into those last two pugs knowing my tank. If you ever read my comments here, you may also know my tank – she’s Lara, and she’s awesome. Having no prior commitments and looking for a new server for her character, she chose to move her druid alt to my server. I said that I started this experiment because I wanted to experience the game alongside other people, and that’s absolutely true. Writing about it has been a blast, even if the experience itself has been frustrating at times. Having been able to find a friend I can pug with – that I never would have found if I hadn’t done all that pugging, written about it here – is indescribably awesome. I trusted Lara from the first, and I think we both had so much more fun because of it. So if there’s anything that all this pugging has taught me, it’s that it’s a means, not an end – a way to meet people you want to run with again, so you don’t always have to have an endless merry-go-round of what-are-these-people-thinking. Sometimes the tank or healer you were looking for is closer than you think.

I almost gave up on pugging today, but I’m pretty glad I didn’t. In Lara’s words, “I felt good knowing you were back there with your tuning forks!”

To which I can only reply, there’s nothing like having a bear butt you can trust!