Archive for July, 2010

Last attempt


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Between travel and starting a new contract (huzzah! poor Nomster doesn’t understand why she’s getting less attention from Mommy but I can do most of my work while she’s napping), I’ve been just too burned out to play WoW. By this weekend I should be eager to play – except I may be playing on my own since *someone* is eager to try Starcraft 2… I’ll probably play through the campaign but I don’t really like RTS games that much.

I’m just starting to feel that end-of-expansion bleah that everyone else was complaining about months back. I need to get my act together, down the Lich King, and then refocus for Cataclysm but… I’m just not motivated to play my main. I’m 99% sure Analogue is going to be my prime character in Cata – the paladin isn’t quite as fun, I’m not sure whether my priest or shaman will be max level, and my mage will probably be second at level cap but that’s more because of nostalgia for when she was my only real character.

I think I need a goal to work for. Probably not an achievement; perhaps just getting my priest and shaman to 80 and ready to go. We’ll see.

Ruby Sanctum was just not enough content. We need some dailies, like we had at Sunwell. And maybe some new land. Or perhaps the campaign to retake Gnomeraggon…

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So I logged in to do a little mining while feeding the Nomster her lunch (mmm, chicken and yams. Looks like yam sludge to me but hey, I understand the concept of chewing). Out of habit, I glanced at my friends list and saw this:

Apparently my husband has not played WoW in 41 years. I know it’s been a long week – honey, don’t do business trips very often, kthanxbye – but I hadn’t realized it was THAT long.

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The PUG Wall?

Sorry, not much content this week. Reversion is out of town on business and I’m preparing to go out when he gets back, so not much blogging around here. Or WoW playing either: I logged on Monday but haven’t felt in the mood to play. When you always play with someone, it’s really quite boring when they’re not around.

Anyway. Last Friday night Rev and I joined a GDKP run with our pally and spare druid pair, both as healers. We didn’t have that much money but enough to make their time worthwhile. If you’ve got undergeared alts you can get some really good deals these days in GDKPs; chances are there are a lot of drops that very few people need, and we bought about seven things (mostly for Rev’s druid) at the minimum 1000 gold bid. When the party was over, we got almost all our money back; well geared, gold rich raiders along for that one trinket or token drop paid 7 or 8k for things and the pot got large.

I saw Blood Princes and the Queen for the second time and got to watch people doing things wrong on the Queen; we wiped twice and I learned some strategies. Funny how sometimes you only see how things are supposed to work when people don’t do them, or do them wrong, because then people explain WHY you were supposed to do it that way (ie, “first bite has to wait til almost the end of the time so that you don’t have to worry about the second bite going out during an air phase”)

And then on to Sindragosa, who I had not seen before. The spider trash was fun, I like waves of mobs coming at me. A lot of people in the raid hadn’t seen the fight so we got a detailed explanation, got started, and wiped. We came back, got all the way to phase two, and wiped. Came back, did better, wiped. Wiped and wiped and wiped. We were getting solidly into phase 3 and people were having trouble with frost tomb placement. Finally, we got to the last 14% – and someone dropped their ice tomb in the raid, froze us, and we wiped.

That person got kicked. I’m pretty sure he’d left a slime in melee during Putricide, and they had someone else begging to come for a chance at Sindragosa, so one more attempt – and this time everything went perfectly and she was down. It felt epic.

But that fight was hard, and really hard to communicate to a pug. I’ve never seen the LK fight but by reputation, it’s an order of magnitude harder to coordinate. Even with now a 30% buff, will a random pug be able to do it?

I don’t know, but I also still don’t think I can commit to a raid guild schedule. So I guess we’ll keep trying pugs. A ten man pug seems more doable.

And I suppose we can always come back at 85 and laugh in Arthas’s face.

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Thinking about your Worgen or Goblin and trying to pick a class? Want to run up an opposite faction alt to see Old WoW before New WoW hits? Or planning to use an offside RAF account and need a really low maintenance second character? Can’t pick a class? Here’s something to think about: what specific quests do you need to complete to unlock basic abilities of your class?

Druid: Bear form is a quest chain. Fairly straightforward, a little running back and forth and you have to kill a big bear spirit, and then you can become a bear. Easy but essential; even dedicated trees can find bear useful in a pinch.

Previously there were chains for swim form, cure poisons, and epic flight; the swim form quest is entirely gone, while the cure poisons quests are merely obsoleted because you can train the abilities without doing the chain. Same with epic flight, but it’s still worth doing; completing the chain means you can summon Anzu the Ravenlord boss in Heroic Sethykk Halls. He drops a nice raven mount that would make you the talk of town.

Hunter: You have to do a chain at 10 to learn how to tame and feed pets. Obviously if you don’t do this, you’re not going to be a very good hunter. You won’t learn to Mend your pet until 12, so don’t freak out. Tip: make sure you have a stack of food on hand to feed your angry, hungry bear cub when you tame him.

The quest chain itself is fairly simple: your trainer, in the second newbie village (IE Kharanos for dwarves) will tell you to go train a bear (for instance) and then a cat and then an owl. When you’ve completed all three quests, you learn the “Tame Pet” skill, the “Feed Pet” skill, and can go tame a pet of your own.

Mage: None. Every mage quest gives you gear. Some of them are cool, but none of them are essential, which made it doubly annoying leveling a mage years back when you ran out to Dustwallow Marsh (on foot) ten levels low, drowned in the swamp, got et by spiders, only to have Tabetha tell you she’d give you a nice belt.

Rogue: Lockpicking is still a quest chain, apparently. Poisons used to be, but no longer are. At level 16, your trainer will give you a quest. It’s pretty straightforward and leaves you near a field full of locked boxes you can practice your skill on to get a few points up. There are fields like this scattered around the world – like in the Wetlands, for instance – as a great way to train up your lockpicking skill.

Priest: Nope. Like mages, you don’t need to do any of them.

Paladin: At 12 you’ll get a quest chain to learn your resurrection spell. DO THIS CHAIN: I can’t believe how many paladins I’ve encountered, leveling, who don’t have a rez spell because they never bothered to do the chain. Basically, your trainer will tell you where to go; the chain involves, amazingly enough, resurrecting someone. Awesomely, Blood Elves get to resurrect someone who they actually killed in the previous step in the chain. Yeah.

Warrior: Defensive and Berserker stance are both quest chains. Make sure you do them, or you’ll be unable to tank! The Defensive Stance quest is at level 10 and is a simple “Bring me [NPC]’s head” quest. The Berserker Stance/Intercept quest chain starts at 30 and will send you to the Barrens.

Warlock: Most demons  require a quest, basically all along the lines of “This dude X has something that belongs to me. Kill him and bring it back. Oh, you’re back? Ok, go summon a demon in the basement and kill it. Yay! Now you can summon that demon as a pet!”. Do the quests. They aren’t hard and you need your pets.

Shaman: Saved these for last for a reason. Every one of your four totems requires a quest; Earth at 5, Fire at 10, Water at 20, and Wind at 30. They go something like this:

Earth: Talk to something, kill something, maybe drink something. Done.

Fire: Run around a bit, kill something, run around more, kill a Fire elemental, run around, get totem. Done.

Water: If you are Alliance, basically the same as fire, except underwater. If you are Horde:

1. Go talk to some annoying hermit on the edge of the Barrens, as far from a flight point as possible

2. Go retrieve a  bag of water from halfway around the world

3. Return to the hermit

4. Go somewhere else, also halfway around the world. Get a bag of water.

5. Return

6. Guess what! You get to go get MORE water, as far as possible from ANYWHERE else you’ve ever been

7. Return

8. Ok, that’s enough water! Now, go halfway across the world and KILL some water

9.Realize you’ve just spent three hours traveling, log off, and cry. Congrats, you now have a water totem!

Wind totem: Show up, talk to an air spirit, get a totem. Anticlimax anyone?

Anyway, shaman require totems, so you have to do these quests.

Each quest also has assorted quests that give weapons as rewards. They are a fun way to feel more ‘into’ your class but honestly, leveling has been so nerfed these days it’s hardly worth it. All the level 50 quests land you in Sunken Temple so if you hate that place, skip them; if you love the place, grab the quests.

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If, Rudyard Kipling

First stanza of Kipling’s famous poem should probably be on a sticky note on every healer’s monitor. I’m not saying that the other roles in the game don’t require laser like focus and attention to detail, but I know I personally have to be totally in the groove every GCD to heal at the top of my game. On my mage? Hit Arcane Blast a billion times, pop cooldowns when they’re available, don’t stand in fire. On my druid? Watch for who needs a heal, who needs an emergency cooldown, who is about to take damage and should be Rejuv’d … and still stay out of the fire.

More than that, I don’t know if it’s a me thing or a healer thing but if I’m healing the raid and we wipe, I feel guilty. Really guilty. Like “that was all my fault if only I’d been a better healer that wouldn’t have happened.” I don’t feel nearly as bad tanking, and dps? Psssh, not my fault. I did my job. But when I’m healing, I feel like I ought to be doing everyone else’s, too.

And what about when people are saying it’s your fault? Do you just let them, or get defensive, or even say “yeah, it was me”? Like the poem says – you have to trust yourself, but if everyone is saying it’s your fault, you have to look at yourself and make sure that’s not true. Not trusting yourself will lead to wipes. So will not trusting your partners – the other healers, the tanks, the dps. A druid throwing Nourish on a tank when she should be trusting her Disco priest buddy can wipe the raid easily – or save the day if the priest got distracted. What do you do?

So: some specific strategies that I use. What do you use? I’m always looking for new tips.

Keep a Cool Head – learn to accept and react to a situation rather than panic. Important when you’re out of mana and the tank just aggroed two more pats. If you panic, you die. If you can quickly prioritize your problems and do things in the right order, you live. Slap a shield or an instant HOT on the tank, blow your “get mana back” cooldown, drop a big cooldown on the tank to get him back up, and play triage.

Zen and the Art of Raid Maintenance – watch the raid like a mama bird watches her stupid, half-blind, flightless chicks. They’re going to try to fall out of the nest, choke themselves on half-eaten worms, and go play with that friendly hawk perched at the top of the tree. Don’t let ’em, but don’t get mad at them when they do. Heal through the stupid because you can.

Screw it, I don’t care if the mage dies – the opposite of the above. After the nth time that warlock life taps right before combat or the mage runs away from the tank in order to frost nova mobs right by you – they’re too stupid to live. Think of it as evolution in action. Let them die that others may live. Mentally pretend their health bar is already gone, stop wasting mana on them, and concentrate on the tank and the ones who aren’t being stupid.

Honestly, if you’d just read “Hogwarts, A History” – know the fights better than anyone else. This is important if you’re pugging but comes in handy if your raid leader is one of those odd ones who doesn’t know doesn’t care about healing stuff (like the first time I fought Saurfang, the Disc priest asked if there was a strategy for her and was told to ‘just shield the tanks’; we didn’t down him that night but if the raid leader had known to have her drop shields on the Marked victims too, we might have.) The theory here is that by knowing the fight, you can drop hints to others on your healing team and then, assuming they do as you say, you don’t have to worry about them. I’m guilty of not doing this as thoroughly as I should; to date I still haven’t actually, you know, watched an LK fight video. /embarassed

It’s easy enough to discuss strategies like this but implementing them is something else entirely. For that, I practice in 5 mans. Deliberately keep your mana low so you can learn to assess priorities and how to regain mana fast when you need to. Let a warlock die (it’s good for their souls anyway). Think two steps ahead of your party members and have them shielded or hotted before they take damage.

The most challenging situation I think a healer can be in, as far as state of mind goes, is the pug raid healing job, where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Often you won’t know anyone, or many, in the raid. The leader may or may not know anything about healing. Your healing team may not be optimal and probably hasn’t worked together. You can make one of two fatal mindset errors here: you can decide it’s all up to you, or you can decide it’s all up to them. In fact it’s neither. You are not responsible for the success of the raid as a whole, but you are responsible for doing your part.

One thing I’ve often found in pug raids is that the leader will give some vague directions like “druid heal ranged shammy heal melee pally on tanks”. Ok… but how do you easily tell ranged from melee? Nobody sorts groups these days… Well, I have Vuhdo set to show “class colors” as the health bar for each person in the raid. So mages are light blue, paladins are pink, etc. I can instantly tell class by looking at my Vuhdo setup. Makes following that sort of vague instruction easier.

I’ll whisper other people on the healing team and ask relevant questions. If I’m on my paladin and there’s another holy pally, I’ll ask “Who are you Beaconing?” and then Beacon the other tank. If there’s another druid, I’ll set up Rejuv priorities (“You do groups 2 and 3, I’ll do 4 and 5, both of us do tanks”).

Anyway, those are my strategies. Anyone have any they can share?

And if all else fails, and your concentration goes to hell and you lose it entirely – well, the run back from the graveyard is a perfect time to practice your deep breathing and work on your patience.

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Jumping to their death

This morning Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn posted about The Importance of Jumping Revealed. Since it relates to my series on situational awareness I wanted to talk about the tactical utility of jumping. First let me say I love jumping too. I played a few MMOs before WOW and none of them had jumping in them. It is amazing how much that little thing makes a world feel more real. Jumping and swimming were the things a lot of games before WOW did not have. Those two things make the world feel more like a world and less like a cage.

But on to tactical jumping.

This is Bob. He insulted the mother of these raptors. Now He is running like heck.

Some of you might think he has two choices, keep running or stop, turn and attack.

Oh now Bob is stopping to attack…

Can he get the shot off?

Oh! Too late!

This is Fred. He accidently stepped on a raptor egg.

Fred knows there is a third choice.

Ah jumping. We love jumping.

Oh wait what is this? Fred is spinning in the air! See the wonderful thing about WOW jumping is that physics is respected and your linear momentum is retained despite changes in angular velocity. HUh? I mean you keep moving in the same direction even if you turn while jumping. Oh!

Hey, Fred can shoot while jumping. Nice.

Now look, Fred did another 180 degree spin before he landed!

This means that Fred lost NO speed while running from the raptors but was still able to fight back!

Oh hey, see how I worked in the ability to spin EXACTLY 180 degrees in one try at any time? Yeah, just like I talked about in the situational awareness practice. Clean fast mouse control has more uses than just looking around.

This trick does not just work for hunters. Warriors can spin and ‘hamstring’ if they targets are close.. Rogues can do it and used one of their many stuns. Mages can even jump, spin, and ‘cone of cold’ things. Almost anything that is an instant cast can be used while moving. Anything that can be used while moving can be used with a jump-spin to attack behind you while moving forward at full speed. And it does not have to be something chasing you. Anytime you want to attack one way while moving at full speed another way you can use this trick.

Naturally it is hugely useful in PVP.

I mostly use it to shoot cows in Elwyn.

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