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I did a little work on leveling my paladin this weekend. She’s working through 84. Sunday she got the Twilight Highlands opened and joined a quest for Crucible of Carnage. Since she’s going to be holy at max level I’m picking up int gear as it drops. Not a fan of ret; I either have no buttons to push or too many. Ugh.

So now and then I heal an instances to work on her xp, instead of questing. Sunday it had been a while since I’d healed but I queued with some guildies and we got Stonecore. I think we had three guildies but the tank was a pugger.  I know Repgrind was along for sure.

First, the tank drops group. Ok. So we wait a bit and a minute or two later here comes another tank. He charges in. Thankfully Repgrind interrupts the guy who turns into a whirlwind because I don’t think the tank believed in interrupts. Or crowd control.

So we proceed through the dungeon. Now my standards for tanking are pretty high, because Reversion is an awesome tank, but even so this guy is not good.  He’s not terrible, he holds aggro, but that’s it. He doesn’t use CC and he doesn’t communicate with us. We kill the first few bosses and proceed to Orzuk while killing as little trash as possible – which wipes us once and nearly wipes us another time. Sigh.

And then he sets up to pull Orzuk… without killing either of the trash packs closest to him. I ask in guild if it’s for real but decide to let him try – because I want to laugh. We start. He fails about half of the time to run far enough away from the pound thing. Sigh.  And then it happens – the group we didn’t clear gets pulled, and we die.

We run back and kill that group and then Orzuk. Sigh. Why we couldn’t just do that at first…

The final fight I managed to kill a lot of the adds because I know how to make them stand in bad stuff. Not sure the tank did much of anything. Repgrind interrupted lots of Force Grips and it ended up being pretty easy to heal.

Fade to black.

Monday night Reversion was tanking for the other raid so Repgrind and I queued up together, again me on the baby holy pally and her on her warrior. This time we got Vortex Pinnacle. Once again the tank disappears almost as soon as we reach the instance – a dc this time. I was going to give him a  minute but someone started a “kick” vote immediately. Five minutes later a new tank appears and we start.

“Gogogo” says the mage. Why must it be a mage who always does this sort of thing? I love mages, I was a mage before I was a healer, but man they seem to be the worst. And I pride myself on keeping mages alive!

“Gogogo” was about all he said and he said it every few minutes. We were making good time too! Then we killed a boss and jumped platforms…. and the mage sat there on the other platform… and sat…. and sat. Finally he moves. “Back,” he says, not having said he was going afk in the first place. “Gogogo”.

We keep going. We clear the first of the groups by the lightning triangle things, you know where there’s a set of steps up after them with star balls at the top. Well we’re recovering after the fight…. and Mr. Mage says “gogogo” and runs up and starts. Well I saw a dot moving and followed, then realized it was the mage and the other three party members were still downstairs. So I stopped healing him. The rest of the party comes and starts joining in. I tell Repgrind “DPS slower!” as the mage’s health creeps down… and down…. and then he dies. Victory! We kill the stars and I rez him. He doesn’t say anything…

We finish the trash pulls, go down, kill the other stars, and are looking at the boss. Mr. Mage is still upstairs. Finally he comes down and says “Gogogo” so we pull.

I was trying so hard to see if I could get him killed that I…. let myself die. Fortunately at that point the boss was almost dead and they finished without me. I think it demonstrated pretty clearly, though, that I can’t heal stupid. Not stupid tanks, not stupid mages, and not even myself when I’m stupid.

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Switching Gears

How do you handle switching things up?

I’m not talking about major switches in your gaming, not the “now my main is a hunter” or “I just moved servers” thing. No, just the evenings where you look at the loading screen and say “I want to play this guy”. I know there’s some folks who only have a couple characters, or even a single main, but I’ve got 8 characters on Winterhoof. One bank alt, she doesn’t count. One main. One actively being levelled lowbie shaman, one “I logged into her a few weeks back” lowbie hunter. A paladin at 84 and two not-my-main 85s, my mage and my priest. Oh, and a worgen that hasn’t left the starting area.

In the last two weeks, I’ve spent several hours on my paladin, my shaman, my priest, and my mage. Invariant, the mage, had been getting plenty of fresh air anyway since she is my archeologist and I’m still looking for that flaming doll. The others, not so much. Every time I log in I have to reacquaint myself  with the way each operates.

One thing that helps is keep my UI fairly standard across characters. The action bars in the same places, Recount and Omen in one corner, Vuhdo frames in their proper spot, even on my non healer characters – Invariant has Remove Curse mapped in Vuhdo, no need for Decursive. For my healer characters, I assign similar spells to the same mouse click combos – right mouse click for a good HOT, shield, or fast cast, other combos for longer cast spells. That way I can let the muscle memory work for me.

Same with my action bars; I try to keep spells that do similar things in the same place across characters. Of course, this is subjective. Frost  Nova and Disengage do not do the same thing, at all, but they have the same spot on my action bars for their respective characters.  I tend to keep opener moves on 1 and 2, aoes toward 6  and 7, and emergency spells at the end.

ArcInventory is my bag addon of choice. I have it set up to use the “Rules” to sort things for me. So what I get when I hit my B key is a giant bag with everything I own, but visually seperated into containers by the rules I set. I can have all my crafting mats assigned to the two left hand columns, my spare armor set in the bottom right, and junk items at the very top, all by themselves. If I keep it the same across characters, any time I open my bags I know where things will be.

I have a quick routine when I get onto a  character that I’ve been resting up. Check my bags and gear to see if I need to sell and repair. Check my map and quest log, to see where I need to go. Check over my abilities and remind myself just what this character actually does. Takes about three minutes and then I’m ready to go. The first few pulls are uncomfortable as I search for the right abilities, remember critical things (“Oh, right, pet.” “Oh, right, totems”. “Oh, right, mage armor”).  After that I settle in.

That said right now my paladin is the hardest to get into. I’m leveling in ret by questing. I just am not comfortable with the spec at all. It doesn’t feel like me. I’m not really a melee player; I like standing at range and killing stuff. And things are always lighting up and I don’t know what to push. This goldenish swirly icon? That goldenish swirly icon? The one that looks like a shiny hand? Ack! I may just wait til she gets a whole level of rested and then heal dungeons the last bit of the way; I’m much better at that.

But I do think there’s value in switching characters. I’ve been working hard on learning all the raid fights as heals; when I switched and did a few fights on my mage, I was amazed at how much easier it was to pay attention to stuff on the ground I needed to move out of, target switching time, etc. Of course, I was focused on that somewhat at the expense of my dps but…. that wasn’t too shabby either.

I also find that switching around and not spending lots of time on any alt favors “simple” specs and rotation. Switching to Invariant and going arcane is easy. The fights where I’ve gone fire? Let’s not talk about that… fire is much much more complicated and while fun, would take time to master that I’m not spending.

Remember, the most important thing to do when you’re switching characters is always put your toys away – mom’s advice growing up works well now too. Even if you think you’re only logging into your main for a few minutes, stick your leveling alt in an inn, sell her junk, mail things you want to auction to your bank alt. There are far too many times I’ve gotten on a main to send something to an alt and found myself three hours later in a Stonecore run that just won’t die. Save yourself the headache and always leave in a way that makes it easy to come back.

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Alting Around

Analogue’s gear is looking good. I need to get more Valor points but I’m getting close enough to having the VP gear I want that I don’t always do a daily run. She does get her JC daily done religiously though. And I need to re-spec her tonight, I want to give Efflorescence another try, but I’ve been feeling the urge to play other characters again.

I played with my paladin some this weekend, getting her from just barely 83 to almost 84. Frustratingly I’d left her halfway through Deepholm and couldn’t figure out where, so I went and did a little Uldum until Reversion, leveling an alt through Deepholm, mentioned a spot where I might have broken the chain. Back I went and sure enough there was a quest, so I finished Deepholm, opening up the shoulder enchants, and then put Divergent back in storage. I’m starting to get the hang of Ret but I don’t like it. I’ll probably go Holy/Prot at max level.

And Tuesday, I went to Baradin Hold on Analogue, then when checking my Valor Points realized I’d maxed out my Justice Points, again. I went to look at what the JP goods vendor would sell and then noticed the Heirloom vendor. Hmm… never did buy that other Heirloom trinket. I picked it up and mailed it to my baby shaman. Who I knew had other heirlooms I’d mailed her…. and I hadn’t logged onto her in forever… ok, log on, grab heirlooms, equip. Hmm. She’s pretty shiny now, and halfway through 26. Let’s do a few quests.

An hour later I’d gained two levels and was remembering why I had liked this little dwarf shaman anyway. Cool. Plus I have been meaning forever to get a shaman up high enough to get a real feel for their healing. Sometimes I feel like I can’t diagnose why raid heals aren’t working right because I don’t know shaman or holy priests well enough, and I aim to fix that.

Anyway. Last night I went to work on her a bit more, got her past 30, and relocated her over to Desolace to check the place out. A guildie was trying to put together an alt run on Bastion of Twilight. So I thought I’d bring my priest. So did 3 other guildies. I determined that they wanted me to dps and we cleared the trash. I looked at my meters and was very disappointed with my performance, so when we were swapping some people anyway in order to have more stuns on Halfus, I swapped to my mage. Technically she has less gear but I knew I could pull out considerably more damage with her.

And I did. We wiped so many times, the trash respawned, and we cleared it again. In two clears we got three epics, the thrown weapon, the healer staff and the cloth bracers, and I won the bracers. Cool! Now, if I make all my dreamcloth this week I should have enough for a belt and pants for my mage… she’s so much fun, really she is. I am glad frost and fire are viable raid choices now but I love arcane. If I’m gonna pew-pew, let’s keep the pew-pew as simple and shiny as possible!

I have three pieces of green gear, no epics at all, and managed about 8.5k dps on the trash. My priest, with significantly better gear, was struggling to hit above 6k. I assume it’s just that I know exactly what to do on my mage, but…. yeah. It was satisfying. I’d been dithering about whether to gear the mage or the priest but I know if I gear the priest all I’ll ever do is heal. If I gear the mage maybe I’ll want to go blow things up. And she has all the shiny pets and archeology toys anyway.

 

OH! Last attempt of the night, we actually downed him. Three tanked, three healed, with Rev’s spare bear going cat after the drakes were down, and we beat the enrage timer handily. Woot! I expect the normal raid to have no problems. We’re going in there Friday so we can get lots of work on the Twins this weekend. Wish us luck! I want to be 6 or 7/12 by Sunday…

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I have two main characters.

Analogue became my main during Wrath and probably will remain my main for as long as I play; I’ve just so merged my identity in WoW with “druid healer” that I don’t think I can change it. She gets leveled and geared first, that’s the name I use in Vent and on blogs and, well, it’s my WoW identity. Symbolically, she became my real main when she got name changed to Analogue. Originally she was named Metaphor, but when we moved servers the first time, that name was taken, so I looked for something themically similar and chose Analogue. It works for me.

Then there’s Invariant – who, like Analogue, was originally not named Invariant but Variant. Again, first server move, that name wasn’t available so I changed to Invariant. Either works. She’s a mage. She’s not the first character I rolled, but she is the first that actually appealed to me enough to get past 40. She was my first level 70, my second 80, and my third 85. Poor thing. But despite being leveled behind my priest, I identify with her a lot more than with my priest. Elucidate is just “Analogue’s priest”. Invariant is…. Invariant.

I’ve been able to keep her identity because I use her for very different things. I’m not that into damage dealing these days; I’m too perfectionist to like doing a lousy job, and too haphazard to get 100% performance out of my mage. Oddly I don’t have the issue with my druid… but it’s the role, not the character. I give 110% when I heal; when I’m doing damage I just don’t.

But somewhere along the way Invariant became my achievement runner, my pet collector, my archeologist. It seemed logical enough; mages have some advantages like portals to everywhere. Makes them a lot faster at world achievements. She got 50 pets; then she got serious and scored 75. Now I collect them just to have them.  She has the first mount achievement, and works slowly on getting more. Her archeology is 525 and I’m looking forward to plenty more time with that.

Do you have a dichotomy like this? One character for “fun” and one for “serious business”? Or a PVP main and PVE main, or a different identity for Horde and Alliance?

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The Second Pair

So, having gotten our druid tank/healer pair to 85 and started the gear up grind, our attention wandered to another pair…. the gnome tank/healer pair. Consistant the warrior and Elucidate the Priest went to Vashj’ir, which we’d bypassed on the druids, then tanks a few runs, went to Uldum and did the Harrison Jones quests, and then off to Twilight Highlands to play with dwarves. We had rested on them most of the way and it seemed a lot easier and faster to level. Also it turns out I like Shadow a heck of a lot more than Balance, and my Disc spec did just fine in instances.

Reversion is going to have a post detailing all the things his warrior can do that his bear can’t. I’m just resentful of two priest things on the way up: the new level 83 and 85 abilities. Inner Will is cool. A nice mana savings + run speed buff, lasting half an hour? Sure, thanks! But Life Grip – ok, Leap of Faith – is so amazingly awesome. We did one run after dinging 85 and did a couple charge + Life Grip combo pulls that seem like they can be amazing once we get better.

I just wish my druid’s new abilities were actually…. something I wanted. Heck I forgot to train Wild Mushroom for literally days. It would have been nice to get something cool. Ah well.

I’m not planning to switch mains – I don’t like Holy and apparently Disc has some throughput issues right now – but I do plan to have the priest geared and able to step in for fights. Reversion may or may not switch to his warrior though; the bear has some serious issues right now that make tanking rather frustrating.

But it’s cool to have a second pair up there. Last expansion these guys were the last ones to max, barely squeeking in under the wire. This time it looks like the old mains might end up being last to 85…. poor Invariant the Mage….

 

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Creating alts has been like an epidemic these last few weeks. I’ve got a couple, a dwarf shaman that I fully intend to get to level cap one day and some throwaways. Based on my sales of Netherweave Bags, I’m not the only re-roller (if you see one person buy four bags at once, it’s always a new alt. Always).

 

I want to suggest the one alt that everyone should have, for your consideration: the bank alt.

What is the bank alt?

A bank alt is a character that is either primarily created for the purpose of serving as storage/auction mule/broker, or at least serves as such. You basically park him at the Auction House/bank, and he answers your mail all day long.

 

Why should I have one?

Convenience. That’s all. You don’t truly need one for most reasons, but it makes things easier. Picture this: you’re leveling in Hyjal, and your bags fill up with random stuff. You sell the gray stuff, but what about the cloth? Or the random crafting bits? Or this BOE blue that dropped off a mob? If you have a bank alt, you mail it all to them and walk away with lighter bags. If you don’t, you sell it to a vendor. Or try to hang onto it til you can get back to a capital and sell it yourself.

 

Yeah, but, auctions? That’s a lot of work

True!  It takes at least, oh, ten minutes every two days. What you do: download an addon like Auctioneer. Set it to load only for the bank alt – you don’t need the memory hogging on other characters.  Put stuff you want to sell into your bags. Go to AH. Scan the AH with the addon, let it suggest prices for you. Hit “post”. Come back in 48 hours, collect what didn’t sell and your gold. There’s plenty of guides out there to tell you more, or help you refine a strategy, but honestly, it’s too easy not to do.

 

I have all the gold I’ll ever need and a moral issue with auction houses

Er, ok. Well, how about more storage? If your bank vault is like mine, it gets cluttered. You can keep the stacks of raw materials you’re saving for later on the bank alt. Or anything else that’s not soulbound. Get an addon like ArkInventory that will let you see what’s in any character’s banks and bags no matter who you’re logged onto and never loose an item again.

 

Ok, I’m sold! Now what?

The details: a bank alt can be any race/class you want (obviously it needs to be the same faction as the characters it’s working for). Death Knights make really good bank alts for a couple reasons. First, they start off with a set of bags, 12 slotters that you can replace as you need more. Second, they can wear plate, which means they can wear any armor in the game, which means you can make them a really snazzy outfit. Third, they come with an epic mount for fast travel between the mailbox and the bank. Third, they have lots of flight points by default so if you need to move them, or send them to a neutral AH, it’s easy.

On the other hand, you can only have one per server, so if your main is a dk that won’t work. I’m predicting an upswing in Worgen bank alts; between the racial swift-running thing and the super snazzy top hats, they seem like perfect bankers.

 

Upgrade your bank alt: make a bank guild!

Once you’ve bought all the bank slots, put in bags, and are still low on space, it’s time to create a bank guild. Go to the guild vendor person (ask a capital city guard) and buy a charter.  You can assign a name, and can change the name before the guild is finalized. Now get 4 distinct player signatures. If you stand in the busiest city and spam “LF guild signatures, paying 20 gold”, you’ll get three people who’ll do it and one who will sign for free. Now take the charter back to the guy who sold it to you and poof, you’ve got a guild. Hop over to the bank and buy the first tab for 100 gold. 98 slots of storage, ready for you.

 

Is it really worth it?

Do you have one or more characters with professions at 450 that you plan to level to 85 and level their professions too? Then you have money-making potential. Sell all the raw mats you collect and don’t need. Sell things players need (glyphs, enchants, gem cuts) that you create as you level your profession. Use an addon, spend a few minutes a day, and you will see gold. I promise. That’s what I do to keep our alts in house and home. We’re going into Cataclysm with about a 35,000 gold purse; 2 characters each with 310 speed flying, one pair with epic flight, and one that still needs epic but has the other levels. Our characters all have dual spec, mostly from when it cost 1k gold. We don’t think anything of dumping 500 gold on a new alt’s  gear. It’s a comfortable place to be in and while it takes time using my strategy, it is a very sure method, very low risk.

Yes, once you start doing this you’ll probably read goldmaking blogs and try some of those strats. I’ve done that and it works great if you use your head and the right addons. But believe me. Having a bank alt is the first step to a comfortable WoW existence.

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Gnome Priest Day!

So I hear some rumors that Azeroth as I know it may be different this afternoon. Who cares? The important thing about today is that it’s finally, at long last, Gnome Priest Day!

No longer is the smallest yet most awesome race of Azeroth forced to be without healers. Today marks the start of the viable all-gnome raid. Unites, gnome warriors, death knights, warlocks, mages, and rogues! Band together and send a message: “LF2M healers Blackwing Descent, gnomes only”.

Sometime this afternoon, my Draeni priest is getting a rather drastic procedure done. It’s supposed to reduce her height, make her less blue, remove her horns and hooves, and replace them with sheer awesome in a pint-sized package. And buns. I know some people like the pigtails but IMO, it’s all about the buns. Couple that with the reduction in XP to get to 80 and I think this weekend will see me in possession of 4 80s. Huzzah!

Represent, my gnomish brothers and sisters!

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