Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It's patch day and I'm excited.

Actually, that's an understatement. I'm so excited I'm giddy. So excited that, while watching various exotic pet videos or playing with new talent tree builds... I've actually clapped. Several times.

With two hunters, a shaman, a druid, and a pally all 70 and rip roaring ready to go spend their brand new talents... with a shadow priest and a second druid who will both enjoy the speeded up 60-70 leveling, and a warlock excitedly running around hoping to catch up with the rest of the gang... I am actually clapping-level excited.

Now, my shaman is my main. She's my WoW-love, okay? But she's actually the one I'm least excited about. Why? Because I don't know what she is anymore. I loved healing with her but it looks like it will be quite a while before she's called on to spend the majority of her time healing so... I'd respecced her back to elemental.

From her first talent point until she went healing those few months she had been elemental entirely. She leveled as elemental, lucky enough to duo every step of the way with an enhancement shaman. They were a terrific team and I don't know the last time I got to feel quite so amazingly overpowered as then. But elemental as a solo shaman come expansion will be a little trickier. Casting lightning bolts while mobs insist on beating you about the face ... well, it's a bit tedious just poking around on good ol' daily island so I can't imagine how tedious it would be trying to level.

So I've been tucking away some enhancement gear with that spec as my possible plan for Wrath-leveling. So what is she? Resto? Elemental? Enhancement? I've no idea, really. They all have such equal attraction to me right now that I just don't know what I'll be doing with her. So, as much as I love her and still consider her my main, it's just hard to get quite as excited when I've no clue what I'll be doing with her.

But the hunters? Oh my! I'm a dedicated fan of the Beastmaster tree. Always have been. I have the Horde and Alliance hunter both specced BM with only 1 talent point spent differently between them. But come tonight they'll both be losing the aimed shot I've enjoyed smacking on paladins for so long and tearing around Azeroth (and beyond) taming various things to play with.

The only shame is that my Alliance hunter has two pets she can't part with: her trusty crab, CaptCarl who followed her every minute from level 10 to 61, and Epic, the Winterspring kitty who has been there since CaptCarl (named for Phil Hartman's PeeWee's Playhouse character) simply couldn't hold aggro anymore and had to take up near permanent residence in the stables. Horde huntress made temporary alliances with pets until she was 19 and could tame a ghost saber. Poor, (still unnamed) ghost saber is still with her, leaving all the rest of her newly expanded stable space open for those exciting possibilities of hunter pet friends the patch brings.

Of course I'll be in Un'Goro with everyone else grabbing myself a big honkin' dino. Who hasn't been stomped by one and dreamed of using one for their own nefarious purposes? But a crocolisk? With that nearly AoE tanking? Ohhh, how I've impatiently waited to play with that. Coupled with a no-cooldown Volley? It's the secret!

And poor, nearly unplayed ret pally of mine? Could these new changes make her once again a viable interest outside of her daily transmuting duties? I've prepared a 0/8/53 spec for her that says "maybe so!"

And my newest 70 - my Alliance druid isn't too far behind on the excitement. I'd managed to get her uncrushable just in time to tank a few things before everyone disappeared with wedding and pre-expansion distractions. As one of many who had almost exclusively spent her time in cat form, I was just beginning to get the hang of the bear thing. And now it seems the hardest struggle - multi-mob tanking - may be a little less... struggle? Well, I don't mind so much the gold and time spent getting her pointlessly uncrushable. Now if I could just find a group to help me through Heroic Sethekk for epic flight form... /sigh

With all this excitement there is only one downer still lingering. Our guild bank was robbed.
I've mentioned a few times my associations mainly with two guilds: one, a tiny, almost exclusively Real-Life-Friends social guild, and the other, a less small, mostly social with ambitions guild. Well, the Real-Life-Friends guild has, of late, been only two "active" members. So when one of the not-recently-active members showed up about a week ago perhaps I should have been more suspicious when she didn't reply to my excited greeting in guild chat.

The thing is, though: if there is an "outsider" in this guild, it's me. The rest of the people in the guild are all people who live relatively close to one another and know each other from work or college or marriage. I'm the sole member who was brought in as the friend of one of these friends. Now, I've gotten to be friends with them as well, but this is why it wasn't too surprising when she didn't respond. She'd been gone a while and probably didn't know the character I was playing at the time. (Alt-aholics know this problem.)

And I was leaving in a few minutes so I didn't bother trying to explain. I left and hoped I'd catch her from a character she would remember later. I assumed she was back to try and get her level 66 main up to 70 in time for expansion.

Saturday night I found out how wrong I was when that only other actually-active member whispered me and said:

And indeed we had. Five tabs of items were gone. A stuffed bank of gear and potions and enchanting mats and gems and primals... oh, did I mention two of those tabs of stuff were mine? Ugh. All gone. All removed by that newly returned player. Guildmate called the owner of the account and it certainly wasn't them. (We knew it wasn't.)

Then the character in question came online... While the account owner and her husband were on vacation in Savannah... Without computers.

We placed a ticket and after a ten minute wait and a less than reassuring conversation later, "if the account is found to be compromised, we will indeed attempt to restore everything to how it was before the compromise occurred."
The confusing thing is that the account owner believed the account to be inactive. She hadn't been online in months. So how did this person get access and why now?
We've removed everyone's guild bank access rights if they haven't logged on recently. We've changed our passwords and I even have the authenticator finally, adding another tiny safety net of protection, hopefully. But locking the barn after the cows are gone doesn't make it feel any better. Sure, it was all virtual stuff that was stolen. And virtual stuff who's value is about to plummet further than it already had.
But knowing some random someone had poked their nose into our tiny little guild and robbed it blind - it's upsetting. And seeing that "someone" repeatedly log in and stand around in Hellfire Ramparts all night, well, that was just frustrating. I spent the rest of the evening whispering them whenever they logged in. Generally they would log out again as soon as I whispered. Never got a single response or got ignored. (You do get a notice when you've been ignored and you try to whisper someone, right?)
So, as you enjoy your new 3.0 excitement tonight, maybe give another thought to the security of your account and your guild's possessions. Nothing new in that suggestion, I know. We are hardly the first guild robbed and sadly I'm sure we won't be the last. But if an account without a single level 70 character can be keylogged (or hacked or whatever happened) and harvested - clearly they are desperate for anything.
On a less depressing note: How many devilsaurs do you think will be stomping through Ironforge tonight?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Either way, druid moves tomorrow!

Has anyone else considered that the new PvE to PvP transfer change maybe has something to do with DeathKnights?

As in - if they didn't allow this, they'd have to police the creation of DeathKnights to not allow new DKs on PvP servers if you didn't already have a level 55 or higher character on a PvP server.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moar Changes!

I got rid of my horde paladin so I could make an alliance warrior to level with my brother. Of course, we made them, played twice, and it looks like further time leveling them will be few and far between. S'okay though - horde pally wasn't getting any time out of Orgrimmar herself. In fact, she was still standing at the mailbox on her little red pally mount and had twenty minutes of fire festival buff left on her. The only really sad thing about parting with her was .. well, I mean, come on... the red pally mount is dead sexy.

So that means I have - Alliance Side - 70 Ret Paladin, 70 Resto Shaman, 70 BM Hunter, 65 Feral (rawr-kitty) Druid, 63 Shadow Priest, 15 Rogue, and 12 Warrior. Horde side I have 70 BM Hunter, 55 Feral (rawr-kitty) Druid, 28 Shadow Priest, and 30 Enhance Shaman. (*These would be the current "viable" characters. For this purpose I define "viable" as: I would notice if they were gone and in some way or another I'm still logging into them even if not necessarily leveling.)

Next change: I made another warlock. I've tried the warlock many times in the past and it just never fit for me somehow. Kind of like me with rogues. They never make it past 20. But this little warlock ... she seems to fit somehow. I've even been playing her in Darkshore since it had been ages since I'd been there and then trekking back to ol' Ironforge to train. She's only 16 but after two days I can see her at the very least getting her 30 mount.

The other big change is that - as everyone has heard by now - Blizzard opened up PvE to PvP server transfers. This is HUGE and EXCITING news for me. I have a good friend who plays on a PvP server and I've longed to play with her and her guild. But my attempts to level there fall a far backseat to playing on my server. But now I can move those lonely horde characters from my server over to play with them!

Well, one character. They have plenty of hunters - who doesn't? And I can't see my way to spend $50 moving characters - one move is plenty. So I've been putting the full court press on leveling the druid so she can raid with them - hopefully before expansion. She was 52 when Blizzard made the announcement and I went home that same day and started working on her. Alliance side obligations (and interests) have taken time away from her a bit, but the plan is to get her to 60, empty her mailbox (a daunting chore, I can tell you) and Friday move her to her new home. There she can level with my friend's Warlock alt and benefit from guild runs.

I'm excited but nervous! This is a huge guild and while I've found everyone I've hung out with there to be cool, interesting people pretty much - it's still intimidating. The idea is to make her a healer and I've never done druid healing. That means raiding and I've never done that either! I feel like I bring nothing to the table but "I'm friends with one of your top DPSers!" and I don't want to be riding her coat-tails! That gives me performance anxiety issues worse than I already had. And PvP! I'm a carebear server alt-a-holic! I've never been ganked, ever. Even the characters I've made on her server - low levels and low population means I've skated by unobserved and unganked as yet. And this weekend that all changes. It's skery!

And one more change: she needs a new name. I'm a big fan of original names that only bring up one result on armory. My current name is far too common and I'm ready for something different for her new home and new purpose.

Friday, August 29, 2008


If you look at my last few posts the recurring theme was how much I was still enjoying the game.

If you look at that last sentence you'll notice the word "was" - as in past tense.

It didn't take much to reach this point. My role as healer has become limited by other healers going on runs and by my gear restrictions. My alt's aren't geared enough for much of anything and after the enormous push to gear my healer and how quickly she's become stymied, I just don't feel the desire to try it again with the alts.

And leveling another character? I have the 64 druid and the 63 priest and absolute no desire to get them to 70 and hit that same gear wall. Even the 33 shaman where I'd be almost certain to have a spot in Kara and everything else the guild there is doing...

I don't know. I wish I hadn't gotten to the point where I was enjoying healing and instancing so much because I was perfectly satisfied to level alts and now I'm not. I just can't make myself PUG because I'm too acutely aware of my weaknesses. If all I can really do is Heroic Slave Pens or Heroic Underbog over and over and over... well, I'm already sick of those.

It didn't take much to completely undermine my blossoming healing self-esteem. I went on a Sunwell trash run. Keep in mind that I've never set foot in Kara. I was the #4 healer of 10 healers. (There were a couple switch outs.) The shaman healing gloves that dropped went to an enhance shaman. And when dps and healing reports were posted at the end, mine was questioned. "You weren't there the whole time." "Yes, I was. I was there for the big guy and stayed until the end." "Well, your meters are wrong." Other people posted meters that weren't much different than mine, but that questioning, the statement that I hadn't even BEEN there... deflated me. It wasn't losing on the gear. It wasn't losing on so much as a gem. It wasn't the 15g worth of buff food and elixirs I used or the 25g repair bill in exchange for the dubious distinction of having "been in Sunwell." It was that simple refusal that I'd even been there or done adequately.

Yes, you may be uber geared and I'm not. But I didn't make any mistakes (like that holy pally that pulled on the reset every single time) or do anything bad.

I guess what I'm saying is... doesn't anyone remember being in this place? Being on the wrong side of the gear gap and unable to progress? Sure, people in big guilds get to decrease the size of that gap and maybe I could try to take advantage of that myself. But after the little bit of experience I've had, I'm not seeing enough advantage in gear to deal with those personalities.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Change in the Line Up

So there has been some more shuffling. My "ten" alts has expanded and one has left circulation. I finally gave up the ghost on the very first level 40 I ever had: my gnome mage. I just had zero interest in playing her and only kept her out of sentimentality. But I finally did it and... she's gone. Fare the well, little gmage. (Wave to her on the top corner of the header... she'll be gone from there soon as well.)

In her place I finally gave in to my itch to try a rogue. I went with Night Elf so I could get friends to run her through things. She has pretty much everything from Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep now, though she's only 14.

Aside from the rogue who hasn't been out much this week, I'm mostly alternating playing four characters: my alliance druid who is 63 now, my "main" (as much as I have one) 70 resto Draenei shammy, my now level 27 Tauren shammy on a friend's server, and... a Night Elf shadow priest who is level 62.

I've been playing that shadow priest with a friend who is leveling a rogue for the last two levels and it has to be said: that is FUN. Never thought I'd enjoy her as much as I am. It's been a treat.

I guess my point in all this would be that I never expected to be where I am with WoW right now. When I started playing, where I was a year ago, where I was six months ago... all vastly different from where I am now and where I hope to be by the time the expansion comes.

I was the person who hated pvp intensely. And, while I can't say I love it now, I have pvped enough for several pieces of gear and that 27 shammy I mentioned is on a pvp server. I was terrified of instancing... and while I can't say that has changed either, I actually keep seeking it out to challenge myself. To the point that last night I pestered my "instance rat" friend into getting off his rogue and getting on his tank to go do Heroic Slave Pens (still hate that second boss) and then try Magister's Terrace.

We wiped twice on Kael'thas before finally admitting we just didn't have the dps we needed. There were lots of moments in that run that were both humiliating and awesome. For humiliating - there were a ridiculous number of random wipes for silly reasons, one of which was the most unsneaky rogue who ever PUGed - Hello! Vanish! Or else die yourself and let us rez! Don't bring us your accidental trash pull after a wipe! For awesome - we nailed that fight with Priestess Delrissa that is essentially a 5v5 arena fight. Okay, we nailed it on the second attempt. But still! We nailed that pull right before Kael'thas. I think we did great on a lot of it, especially since two of us had never been there (myself included) and one of us (*cough*rogue*cough*) acted like she had just gotten her character off eBay.

For myself, I know I still need improvement. I want to try and get my mana pool up a bit. I'm sitting right at 10k, bonus heals fully buffed just a bit over 1500... but I want to push that more, more, more. I'm just not sure how right now without some more/higher dungeoning. I could pvp for a few more pieces but they just don't seem worth the time for rather slight upgrades. I need more Honor Hold rep for the healing glyph. I think I'm going to drop skinning and let the druid carry that responsibility and pick up alchemy so I can get the Shattered Sun alchemist's stone. Of course, that requires me finishing the rep grind for Scryers and Shattered Sun. Is it worth it at this point? Having done it with my Horde hunter, I just don't feel willing to do it for another character.

This morning I also realized I probably need to start gathering some melee gear for the likely respec when Wrath comes out and it's back to leveling. I don't think I have the patience to level resto and elemental solo seems likely to be trouble as well. Who knows, though. By the time Wrath comes out things could change. But next time that mail AP gear is going to be D/Ed, I may ask for it.

But while so many bloggers seem to be getting burned out on WoW, I'm still as excited as ever about this game. The only things really bumming me at the moment are the difficulty in leveling/gearing that little shammy to catch raiders in t5, and the gear gap between where our little band of Ysera raiders are and where the next step should be. Perhaps the biggest problem on that second thing is that there just aren't enough of us to put together Kara yet. And with everyone on LFG seeming to approach Kara as a badge factory, finding people to go along with us: bottom of the gear list, inexperienced, enthusiastic but needing some time... just doesn't seem likely. I am still hoping we can do it before expansion. But I'm still having fun, still look forward to logging in, and still think it's a deal to exchange $15 a month for this.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Healing & Challenges

When I started playing wow two and a half years ago, my first character was a druid. She only made it to the ripe old age of 33 before being completely abandoned. My next focus was a gnome mage. I drug her to 40 through sheer willpower, determined to have a mount. She was virtually abandoned after that. The characters that followed were a variety of different experiments: priest, warrior, and then, on a whim, I rolled a human paladin for a bank alt. Specifically she was to be a cooking material bank alt, so she was named Epicure. (Why I needed so specific a bank alt when my highest character was 40, I couldn't tell you.)

Instead of running her straight to Stormwind, I played those starter quests. Then played through to level ten or so, despite my undying hatred for the human starting area. (To this day the sound of a female human character laughing still makes my teeth grind.)

I liked the paladin. For some reason I really hadn't expected to. My previous understanding of them had been a fog of seals and other confusing dynamics that seemed far too complicated for me.

Now, I was also far from a decent player. I barely understood the game, understood nothing about talents or gear or stats or the like. My druid had attempted to level as balance because those talents seemed the most interesting to me. My mage got to level 40 through a steady adherence to Arcane Missles, Arcane Missles, Arcane Missles, hope the thing was dead, Arcane Missles, sit and drink. Not the most speedy way of leveling. It was painful and miserable. The problem was I didn't have any idea just how much I didn't know, so I didn't know how badly I needed to learn much less how to go about it. I'd struggled through those months and levels with sheer brute force more than anything else.

I'd been playing for a few months before I found out a friend also played. Still, it never occurred to me to ask him for help. He came over to my server and we played together a little. Not enough for my lack of knowledge to show, not enough for his knowledge to start rubbing off! But that little pally bank alt got me to thinking about really playing a paladin. And I knew his first main had been a dwarf pally.

So I asked him about the benefit of dwarves over humans. I'd already decided I was going to get rid of the human, certainly get rid of the name Epicure if I was really intending to play her... but despite my deep dislike of the human race, their emotes, and their starting area... I wasn't quite sold on the dwarf. My characters are 99% of the time female and, well, the female dwarf choices just aren't that inspiring.

But during our discussion he volunteered to come roll a dwarf pally with me and help me figure it out a bit. So we did. And that became a duo that went all the way to 70. When we'd picked out names, we'd tossed around tons of silly options. Mothaura was one name I remember. (Like Godzilla's foe, but with the "aura" thrown in.) What we eventually settled on, though, was a pair of names I still think takes the cake: Aurathur and Guenevheal. On our old server we even had the guild "Knights of Camaloot" completely with a warlock called "Lancelock". But, despite her name, Guenevheal was never a healer. I think she started as protection but pretty quickly ended up as retribution and thus she still remains, poor unplayed thing.

Somewhere along in there we rolled draenei shaman and I don't think Qyja respeced a single time between 10 and 70. She was elemental the entire way. Those lightning bolts were addictive. And seeing a 3k bolt all the more addictive. He played enhancement so things were busy hitting him (when they weren't laying down dead) instead of slowing down my castings.

And through duoing two characters with him, I finally got all that understanding I never had for stats and specs and such. Learning the paladin and shaman with him, I had a good foundation to go seeking information about other things. Through reading BRK, I learned how to not be a huntard. After finding BRK, I found dozens of other WoW bloggers who had hundreds of other tips I've picked up and put to use. I'm still not the master trapper I'd like to be, but you won't catch my hunters with strength gear or meleeing. My baby priest alt is leveling with my friends warrior as shadow spec, but I understand mana regen and healing threat.

Another friend, who's main is a fantastically geared and ferociously deadly mage was telling me about her runs healing Karazhan on her holy pally, and I was inspired. I finally developed the itch to try healing.

But the decision to try the healing route was the easy part. Who to try it with was the difficult bit. I have the 70 pally, the 70 shammy, as well as two 70 hunters (one alliance and one horde), and an up and coming pair of druids (60 alliance, 51 horde). But none of my characters have anything particularly stellar in the way of gear. They don't get played enough at 70 to get much gear-wise. I'm an alt-aholic with a fear of PUGs and a very strong lack of confidence (can you have a strong lack?) in my abilities. I don't want to be the weak link in a group and I don't want to get stuck with asshats and ninja-jerks. So my instance experience was limited to the few rare times enough people were on in our very small guild to do something together. (A Ramparts run, an Underbog run, and a painful Durnhold run being the extent of it, I believe.) So rather than run instances and get gear... I've always just rolled another alt. It's only been the last few months - due mostly to becoming friends with a self-proclaimed 'instance rat' on my server - that I've even tagged along on things with my hunter. I'm already nervous enough about being the dummy on runs... the thought of healing was scary!

But my instance rat friend has been the most painless way I could have gotten into running instances. He and his girlfriend and guildmates have always been nothing but helpful and nice. And they were supportive about me trying healing.

Since Guenevheal's modest gear is all about crit and strength, she'd have had to venture into healing using whatever quest reward gear was still tucked in her bank. Clearly the hunters weren't going to do it. The 60 druid was a possibility but I knew it would be faster to level staying feral. But Qyja, my shaman, with her gear already heavy on intellect, mana regen, and spell crit... she was the best candidate.

I've healed less than half a dozen runs now, but already I'm far more confident in my abilities than I ever expected I'd be. It's been a huge help having supportive friends and guildmates who are more confident in me than I am. (And are willing to play guinea pig for my learning curve.)

So now, after so much time in this game, I'm starting to challenge myself to keep doing things outside my comfort zone. I'm leveling a character on my mage/pally friend's pvp server. I joined her +450 member guild. I'm pvping on Qyja for better healing legs so I can put golden spellthread on them and hopefully push my bonus healing over ~1300.

I love this game more than when I started and just as much as during the best days of duo leveling with my friend.

Engineering deaths aside, of course.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Engineering Kills Me

My Alliance hunter is an engineer.


Those of you who also have engineer characters, that pause was for your sigh of commiseration. For those of you who had engineering characters, that pause was for your laughter.

The engineering profession is far from a newcomer to the subject of ridicule and lamentation. We make very few useful items, most of those items require skill to use and thus can't be sold, and the rest of our items (aside from a small handful of things like scopes and high level ammo) are... well, let's just say Blizzard likes to kick engineers when they are down.

This isn't a Blizz-bash! This is an engineering bash, though. And here's why, the final nail in the casket of my patience with the profession: It finally killed me.

When engineers got their long begged for mount-making ability, I was one of the ones cheering. I made my roflcopter and it was wonderful... for about a minute. Then it was the loudest and most obnoxious thing I'd come across and I longed for a nice quiet gryphon. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. The rolfcopter was my badge of honor and shame and I've stuck with it. I mean, sure, I dismount as soon as possible, but I'm not replacing it.

Somehow I never got around to making my transporter to Gadgetzan or Blades Edge Mountains until recently. And I used it for only the second time yesterday, to get my hunter to Gadget so she could grab something out of the bank for another character. But was I safely transported to town? No, not so much. Did only half of me make it through? If only. No, instead I was teleported so high above Gadget that my cat despawned during the fall. (I imagine he saw the ground and developed his own teleportation abilities involving the thought "Oh, hellll no.")

And what was there for me to do? Did I have any backup options like slow fall or levitate or even a parachute cloak? No such luck and like the bowl of petunias in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, my only thought was "Oh no, not again."

And let me tell you it is a severe understatement to say I was pissed. This was an outrage, a pure white-hot anger that burned in me as I walked from the graveyard to collect my body. A rage that flared up stronger as I paid the six plus gold repair fee. This was ridiculous.

Do leatherworkers ever accidentally gouge themselves in the brain with their needle while making a pair of pants, killing themselves and causing 10% durability loss to their equipment? Has there ever been a case of a jewelcrafter cutting a living ruby and having a rogue shard fly off and disembowel them, covering their gear in costly-to-clean bloodstains and bits of internal organs? Ever seen a tailor making bolts of runecloth and accidentally get it wrapped around their throat, strangling them until deceased and somehow rubbing a tenth of the longevity off their clothes in the process? Blacksmithing is dangerous, right? How many of those metalworkers in Ironforge have their face and clothes singed off while making new boots?

So why do engineers, who arguably have the worst profession in the game, with some of the most expensive mats, have to further face the humiliation of death on top of dysfunction?

I'll tell you, if it weren't for my hunter's goggles and addiction to cheap ammo, she'd have unlearned engineering right then and there.

Then happily headed to Shadowmoon to buy a nice, quiet gryphon.