Thursday, December 30, 2010

WoW Holiday Songs

What would you do for a Moonkin Hatchling pet?  Would you be willing to sing?

When I was in college, the snack bar at my dorm complex offered free milkshakes (more like Blizzards) to anyone who would come in and sing the entire fight song during Homecoming Week.  I learned the song quickly as a budget-conscious freshman.  (I liked combinations such as raspberry-peach with shortbread cookies or blackberry Oreo . . . don't knock it until you've tried it . . .) By the time I was a junior and a resident assistant, I sang the song every day of Homecoming Week, just to say I had done it.

So with that background, is it any wonder I would be willing to sing for a Moonkin Hatchling pet?

Remember the Dreamstate Doomkin/The Moonkin Repository contest I mentioned?  I entered not once, but five times.  (I knew some were better than others, but hey, tastes vary.)

And I won!!  I won both first and second places!  (Second place prize was the Moonkin Hatchling.)

Cheezy lyrics incoming . . .

Chase the Tank

It Is Winter Veil Again
(This is the one, by the way, about which my daughter said, "Mom, it's so corny, it's funny.")

They told me later on that, to be honest, I was the only entrant.  (Good thing I entered five times:  it gave them something to judge.)  At first, the news really dampened my enjoyment of the situation.  I have a host of first-place ribbons from our county fair in categories where I was the only entrant.  (Peanut brittle, bobbin lace . . .)  But, in the end, I did get my Moonkin Hatchling, which was my goal, and "Chase the Tank" was prize-worthy, anyway.  (According to my husband, and he has a nose for these kinds of things.)

And after all, as I've mentioned before, the true satisfaction in these sorts of things is the process of creation.  (I had soooo much fun writing it all!  My kids laughed, my co-workers laughed, and I realized I have a very expressive face when I looked at my recordings . . . now I know where my eldest daughter gets it . . .) Thanks to Dreamstate Doomkin and The Moonkin Repository for setting up such an awesome contest!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three More Points

The Dungeon Finder tool tells me I need a gear level of about 329 to queue for Heroics.  Yesterday when I started playing, I had a score of 321.  By the time I finished, I was up to 326.

I consider that pretty good progress.

After running two Halls of Origination randoms and seeing two "Need" rolls go in favor of the Shadow Priest in the group, I was pretty frustrated.  So I finally sat down, took a look at what I had, and decided which pieces specifically needed to be upgraded to acheive the requisite score minimum.  Then I pulled out Wowhead and listed some acheivable upgrades and where they could be found.  (Justice Point upgrades are not achievable yet.  I need to get IN to Heroics so I can start accruing points at a decent rate.)

One achievable upgrade I decided on was the helm which comes from the quest Brann Bronzebeard hands out in Halls of Origination.  But, to my chagrin, I discovered there was a long quest chain to do before he would hand out that quest.  /sigh.  So I picked up my Harrison Jones quest chain and just started grinding it out. (One of the things which annoys me is that at this point, I view any questing without being able to raise my guild rep to be wasted questing . . . and I'm capped . . . until tomorrow . . .)

The funny thing about that quest chain is that it ends up feeling more like a movie with some mini-games thrown in for fun.  But at last, I had completed the quest chain, seen the desert blossom like the rose, and met up again with Brann Bronzebeard, who told me to meet him in Halls of Origination.  (Hooray!)

In the process of doing the quest chain, I managed to get some legs from a quest reward (good thing, as I was still wearing my T10), and as I was running the Halls of Origination to complete Brann's quests (how did he get past all that trash without us there to help him?) I also picked up a shoulder upgrade.  And, of course, at the end of the dungeon run, I finally had my new helm.

My next goal is the gloves from Hyjal rep, as well as earning my head enchant.  Then I'll need to work on my Earthen Ring rep for the neck . . . unless somehow I make it into a Lost City run, which hasn't happened to date and the necklace actually drops . . . and a priest or someone else doesn't get it.

When all else fails, make a plan.

(To be honest, I have a plan once I start Heroics . . . I just didn't realize it was going to be so difficult to get there . . .)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Time to Look at the Positive

I confess that Pollyanna has been sleeping lately.  I look at the drafts I have for blog posts, and most of them are complaining about one thing or another.  Operating on the old idea that you weep alone, but the world will smile with you if you smile, I'm going to take a different tack on this post.

I'm excited that I will be able to buy the recipe today for some Intellect food made from Deepsea Sagefish.  It's kind of a pain that this particular fish does not school, but it means that when I come home on lunch hours or something and just want to do a little fishing, I will not have to pay too much attention and can stream "Murder She Wrote" reruns off Netflix while I'm fishing.  (Seriously, I like "Murder She Wrote".)  It's also great that my guild master gave me a tackle box for Christmas, so the variety of fish I catch while fishing in open water is not a problem, either--it all goes straight into the tackle box, with no need to sort it out.  Kind of handy.

I finally purchased some Justice Points gear.  I made a sort of tactical error in being point-capped before the expansion started (although I could hardly avoid it, to be honest), and I was unable to spend them to any useful purchase before dinging 85.  So now I have a spiffy new chest and a nice new belt (one of the items I did not find a replacement for on my way up), and I have plenty of room to acrue Justice Points in my daily dungeons.  In addition to that, I can now run a daily dungeon guilt-free because of the Justice Point acquisition, instead of feeling I have to solely quest in order to raise my Guild rep.  And since I will be running level 85 dungeons, there is a ghost of a chance that some of my other guildies will want to run with me, thus completely eliminating any guilt about Guild rep.

I have discovered the delight of reforging.  So much of the gear I have received which have been reasonable upgrades have been loaded with mastery or crit.  (Or both.)  I now have the habit, when I equip a new piece of gear with such stats, to immediately head to the Reforger to get some of those less useful stats changed to Spirit or Haste.

Although I was not gaining Guild rep from the random dungeons I was running while leveling, I was able to gain a better understanding of how the Resto Druid heals now, which is probably more valuable for me at the moment.  Unfortunately, it's less about HoTs and more about direct healing . . . but hey, the HoTs are not completely unused, either.  And it's ALL about using mana efficiently.  (Blizzard ought to be happy.)  Rule number one is keep a Lifebloom running.  It's most useful on the tank, of course, but for the purposes of Lifebloom as a mana battery, it really doesn't matter who is carrying it.  Rule number two:  if the Lifebloom carrier is taking damage, cast Nourish or Healing Touch, as they will heal damage and refresh Lifebloom.  (If he isn't taking damage, just cast another Lifebloom--cheaper.)  Rejuvs can be used, but not liberally spread around.  Wild Growth can be used, when everyone has damage.  Regrowth is for emergencies or when Clearcasting procs.  And I'm not exactly sure right now when Tree form is optimally used, except in dire situations when everyone is taking damage quickly and the Druid has an almost full mana pool.  (Regrowths cost so much that tossing out a lot of instant-cast Regrowths chews through the mana like crazy.  It's more practical to toss out a bunch of Lifeblooms, in my opinion.)  It took me a while to get used to seeing people with half-full health bars and feeling all right about it, but I have learned.

There is a contest for Druids to make up holiday-themed, WoW-themed songs and submit them to The Moonkin Repository.  I have three bright ideas already, some better than others.  I will probably submit my favorite one, when my husband stops critiquing it . . . or maybe I'll just ignore his critiques and submit it, anyway.  I love writing silly things, I enjoy performing, and I like competition in these areas, so the contest is right up my alley.  I will probably not win, but the joy is in the creation.  And my favorite idea has already made several WoW players laugh, so it's already achieved the largest desired result, anyway.  (Ok, so the comment from my eldest daughter was something to the effect of, "Mom, it's so corny, it's funny!")

And I'm now in the process of helping some Dwarves get ready for a wedding . . . at least that quest chain seems to be funny, unlike the absolute torture of Vash'jir, which I have completely abandoned at this point.  I thought composing the song for the wedding was a hoot, and I can't help wondering what the song would have looked like if I had not chosen the "romantic" options . . . (I can probably find it if I do a little research.)

I'll be honest:  Christmas is a difficult time for me to be positive.  (Pressure to do everything "right", so many potentials to let people down, etc.)  New expansions are difficult for me to be positive.  (Not being able to level as quickly as those who can take time off and have few family responsibilities makes my leveling path very lonely and makes me feel marginalized.)  Having both happen simultaneously was a recipe for disaster.  But focusing on the good things helps to minimize the bad and brightens my attitude toward the situation in general.

Now I think I can face those two Christmas parties today with a smile on my face . . . (But I don't think I'll be fishing at lunch time today; I need to practice "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" on the piano for tonight.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hokey-Pokey

My husband was talking with one of our WoW-playing co-workers the other day, and she asked him what level he had reached.  She was surprised to hear he had only reached 82.

He embarked on a long discussion of the history of MMOs, concluding by saying he just wasn't interested in playing WoW anymore, except to play with his wife and daughters.  The main reason, he said, was that everything had been dumbed down so as to make it accessible to the largest variety of players, and there was no challenge anymore.

I protested, saying that some of the dungeons I'd been running had been challenging, mostly because I had had to relearn how to play my character, given that a lot of rules had changed.

"No," he said. "You've been able to make it through the instances all right.  What you've been doing is not relearning how to play your character, but learning how to play your character efficiently."

He stated there were no situations in which players had to strategize, thinking about how best to use their characters.  The suggestion that that was what raids were for did not fly. The encounters were too formulaic.  Once you learned a few basic principles, you were in.

"You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in and you shake it all about,
You do the hokey-pokey and you get the boss down."

And that, he said, was what it was all about.

I can see his point, in that there are things which are formulaic.  I'm sure there are only so many ideas developers can come up with before they simply run out and start recycling.  How many times have experienced raiders compared a mechanic in a new fight to a mechanic in a fight they did three years ago?  When I explain the 2nd boss strategy in Stonecore to players new to the instance, I simply say, "Stay out of the stuff on the ground," and everyone knows what I mean.  We've seen it before.

But I've also seen enough encounters in Cataclysm dungeons to know it is not all facerolling.  There are trash packs which will flatten a group if not managed properly.  (The stars in Vortex Pinnacle, for one . . .)  And there are boss fights which still require thought to succeed.  So I can't completely agree with him that everything is too formulaic and simple.

In addition, from what I hear, Heroics will provide a good challenge.  I'm finally getting the hang of current Druid healing, feeling more comfortable with my triage skills.  I still have a ways to go before I will be Heroic material, but I'm looking forward to it.

Postscript:  Tuesday night, my husband entered Stonecore for the first time, with me tagging along to heal him as tank and to explain everything I knew about making it through the instance.  (Which in Stonecore, is quite a bit . . .)  Everything went pretty well until the final boss, where I kept dying to adds.  After a few iterations of this and some brainstorming by the group (two of whom said they had lousy AOE and the third of whom said he didn't dare open up on the boss because he pulled aggro), we managed to get the boss down with two dps alive and my husband's tank barely hanging on to a tiny sliver of life.  As he rezzed me, he told me he was revising his opinion of the Cataclysm dungeons.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Shame of the Game

Some time ago, when I discovered artistic screenshots in WoW, I sent a few to my family members.  I was excited to be using the same principles for artistic photography to record something I enjoyed so much, and I was becoming interested in machinima, as well.

The response was not what I expected.  My father sent out an e-mail to the family, stating that our family did not need such time-wasting activities.

I suppose I should not have been surprised.  I had been taught growing up that role-playing games were evil, more or less, or at least, an inappropriate activity.  When I had asked why, it was answered that some people get too involved in them and go overboard.  (This is true, but it is also true that a good percentage of players do NOT get too involved and go overboard.)

I did not argue with my father.  But to avoid causing my parents any more stress and concern about me, I stopped talking about WoW to anyone in my extended family.

That was several years ago.  I'm pretty sure that one day or another, it will be discovered (probably through my children) that I still play, and I will have to face my parents and justify my activities.  (Fortunately, I have more arguments now . . . everything from learning about economics and social dynamics to practicing leadership skills to developing a "can-do" attitude . . . Not to mention the benefits of writing this blog (or my silly poetry!) or the emotional satisfaction of being recognized for accomplishments . . .)

I confess usually feel awkward about mentioning to other people, as well, that I play, and when I do, it's either apologetic or defiant.  I think part of that is because I'm not a young college student and so presumably should not be taking the time.  Another part may be because of the reaction of my parents.  And yet another part is because I know most people would not understand what on earth I was talking about or think I was being irresponsible.

But you never know . . . I found out unexpectedly that one of the regular customers of my company--a man who is driven to succeed in the IT test world--has played a warlock.  One of the few other WoW players in my company told me that in a recent exercise, she passed by one of the customers during downtime, and he was leveling his Blood Elf on his laptop.  And one of my more mature acquaintances in this business, who comes from a rather exciting government background, has a group of friends with whom he gets together on a regular basis to play Everquest.

Maybe someone should write a book someday on the secret gaming lives of ordinary and exceptional people . . .

Which brings me to The Guild . . . In August, they posted a Bollywood-style music video which addresses some of these feelings.  I only discovered it today, but it has made me laugh so much.  They've pulled in just about every single Bollywood cliche out there, but more than that, I can identify with a good deal of the sentiment.  I guess it makes me feel less alone.  Game On!

I think I'll go home at lunchtime and run my dailies . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Adventures in Archaeology

/cue Indiana Jones music

I've spent some time leveling up my professions as I've been leveling my character, and I've made some real progress.  My Herbalism is maxed (yay for herbing xp), my Alchemy is on its way, and my other professions are at least showing signs of progress.

So yesterday, when my 12-yr-old daughter asked me, "Mom, why haven't you trained in Archaeology?  And how does it work, anyway", I blinked.  I hadn't trained in Archaeology because it hadn't occurred to me to do so.  (How I thought we'd learn Archaeology without training is beyond me . . .)  And I had no idea how it worked.  Fortunately, my daughter knew where the trainer was, and a quick trip to Wowhead was enough to find a brief description of the Archaeology process (Thank you, Kirska, for listing the steps . . .)

The first step in Archaeology, aside from looking up how to spell it correctly, is to open your map at the continent level.  You will see little shovels where your dig sites are located.  There will only be four on each continent, and after you excavate one, another will spawn.  A good thing to know is that these are YOUR dig sites.  Nobody can steal your dig site and make off with your treasure.


When you open the map of a zone where a dig site is located, you will see the general digging area shaded.


Once you arrive at the dig site, you use the Survey ability learned when Archaeology was trained, which looks like a shovel on the icon.  (Note to Druids:  you cannot do this in Flight Form, but you can do it in Travel Form.)  If you are not at the location where your Archaeology fragments are to be found, you will see, not a fragment, but a surveyer's telescope and a little light on a stick.


The telescope points in the general direction the fragment is located, and the light on a stick tells by its color your distance from the fragment.  (This is sort of like that "hot and cold" game you probably played as a child, in which if you got closer to the hidden object, the other people in the room would say, "You're getting warmer," and if you were moving away from it, you were getting colder.)  If the color is red, you are pretty far away from the object.  If it is yellow, you're getting closer, and if it is green, you're generally only a few steps away.

Once you get your bearings, move in the direction indicated by your instruments and try the Survey ability again.  This can go on for a few times, depending on how far you are and how well you can guess what your instruments are really trying to tell you.

Finally, you reach the location of your fragment and unearth it.  Yay!


The fragments end up as "currency", but they are not located on the Currency page.  If you go to the Professions page and click on Archaeology, you will see a display of the different types of fragments you have collected.  Clicking on the icon for a particular type will tell you how many of that type you have and how many more you need to make a discovery.  (So far, my discoveries are common and sell for about 5 silver.)

You can excavate fragments three times at a particular dig site before it disappears.

When I told my daughter I was going to write about this, she said, "Be sure to mention that you can get xp for it."  When rested, the xp I am receiving as an Apprentice, per find, is about 23k.  Not rested is, of course, about half that.  As a matter of fact, when I was collecting screenshots this morning, this happened:


Grats, me!  Have fun with Archaeology!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cataclysm Progress and the Family

Anachan is now 82.  Considering that a decent percentage of the raiders in my guild are now 85 and starting to think about Heroic instances, that isn't terribly impressive.  BUT, when you take into account that I have a full-time job, five kids, and Christmas, along with the fact that I've been catching the whatever-it-is-which-is-going-around-the-office and so have felt completely flattened the last two nights, that isn't too terribly bad, either.

On the bright side, I'll be awake this weekend, when the rest of them have crashed in exhaustion.

I always said I would start leveling in Hyjal, because, well, I'm a Druid, and that is definitely the Druidic path to take.  But I haven't managed to progress very far there because I wanted to quest that area with my husband's pally.  (He chose to level the pally first.  I was actually kind of surprised, thinking he'd rather level his mage. He likes all his characters; I think, however, that he does not have a deep identity with any one of them, unlike me with my Druid.)  Unfortunately, my husband has been out of town this entire week, and while his hotel Internet connection was there, it was cripplingly laggy.  (He told me several times that if he had been questing alone, he would have probably been dead in several situations.)  So after the first night of struggling through a few quests, he postponed our adventures until he could get back home, and I moved on to Vash'jir and instances.

It didn't help things that the second night, I was starting to feel ill.  (That could also be why I allowed my temper to get so worked up about that group which didn't communicate . . .)  By last night (yes, it's only been three nights), I was really feeling awful, and to make matters worse, Vash'jir was producing crippling lag for me.  Just Vash'jir.  No lag in Stormwind.  No lag in Hyjal . . . but . . . my husband wasn't on-line . . .

What's a girl to do while waiting in 15-minute queues for instances in a zone where she is postponing questing and while feeling like she's going to fall over?  Raise professions, of course.  I spent the evening's queue time flying around, herbing and fishing.  (When I wasn't staring blankly at the computer in a daze, willing my medicine to start working on my headache.)  Unfortunately, my Alchemy has raised to the point where Hyjal herbs do not help advance my skill, but as Cinderbloom makes a nice little Spirit elixir and was still giving me Experience and Herbalism points (until a few points ago), I felt the time was not wasted.  I've cooked up some lovely Haste food, along with the Spirit food I made from the Blood Shrimp I picked up in Vash'jir.

I also ran through the Maelstrom event and discovered the entrance to Stonecore, so the next time I queue, I'll have another option which might actually have an upgrade or two.  (OK, I have picked up a potentially good trinket and some boots, so I can't say the current instances are totally useless.  But they weren't dramatic upgrades . . .)

My husband should be home this evening, so with any luck, if he gets home at a reasonable hour, we'll be able to go do some Hyjal questing.  And, since I've pretty much raised my Herbalism as far as I can do in that zone, he can have all the herbs to himself.

While my husband and I had upgraded our accounts before the Cataclysm release night, we had not upgraded my daughter's account.  Part of me wondered why we would:  there's only one 80 on the entire account, and it didn't seem worth it to upgrade the account solely for the purpose of allowing her to create worgens and goblins.  But she and her sisters have been begging, and since they have been spending quite a bit of time since 4.0 in little adventures, my husband and I have finally decided to go ahead and upgrade that account.

There's a catch, though:  they have to clean their room first.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Communication in Randoms

Last night, I queued for a random Cataclysm dungeon.  As a matter of fact, I queued for two.  The first one was an "in progress" Throne of the Tides.  It was my first time in the instance, and I was delighted, but it was pretty tough.  The DK tank was a bit squishy, and I actually ended up with mana problems on one of the bosses (Innervate and potion!).  I felt a little wrung out by the end, when the achievement flashed across my screen.  I left group and requeued.  (15 minute wait as a healer.)

After that ToT experience, I was rather relieved to see my next random turn out to be Blackrock Caverns.  I had successfully run Blackrock Caverns three times the previous night, with no real issues, so I looked forward to relaxing a bit more.  However, this was not to be.

All four of the other people in my group were melee in the same guild.  The fact that they were in the same guild did not disturb me.  The fact that they were all melee--a pally tank, two DKs and one Enhancement Shammy--was a little disconcerting.  Having all melee means that every time the boss does a close-range AOE attack, everyone takes damage.  It is much easier to heal a group with mixed melee and range players, where, as a general rule, not everyone will be taking the same kind of damage at the same time.

So we started on our way.  Trash went down fine, and the tank seemed reasonably simple to keep up.  (No desperate repetitions of Regrowths, as I had to employ while healing that squishy DK tank . . .)  Surprisingly, but not impossibly, the tank decided to pull the first boss right away into the hall, instead of trying to clear some of the room.  All was going well until the boss cast his chains.

I had read the strategy, and I knew those chains needed to be dps'd down quickly, so everyone could run away from the immediate vicinity of the boss.  Even as a healer, I had done my part in previous runs, so I targeted the chains, hit Moonfire, and started throwing Wraths.  There was only one problem:  I was the only one doing anything to the chains.  As a healer, I could not dps them down quickly enough alone, and upon the boss' AOE cast, all but the pally tank lay flat on the ground.

Thankfully, I remembered how to run back to that area from my Vanilla WoW days (Thank you, UBRS), and was back in the instance quickly.  I asked the group, "Who else was dpsing the chains?" but there was silence.  I was a little annoyed, thinking it most likely they were talking in guild chat, but not bothering to type in party chat.

This time, the tank decided to do a little clearing first.  Accordingly, he ran to the left and picked up the group there.  This would probably have been a good plan, except that somehow, someone managed to pull more trash, including a caster across the room who decided I was the ideal target.  (I believe that was healing aggro, as I had just cast something on the tank at that moment.)  With the pally tanking the melee and me tanking the caster, there was a lot of healing to be done.  But the real problem began when the boss came back around the corner and saw the caster busily trying to kill me.  Yep--you guessed it.  Boss pull.  Wipe.

Still, I only heard silence from the rest of the group.  No suggestions.  No "oops".  No "Gee, I should have gripped that caster before the boss came around the corner."  I was really getting miffed.  Did these people think I was some sort of automaton?  It was pretty obvious to me that they had not researched the fight a lot.

/sigh.  Ran back again.  I think the Shammy ankhed,  because by the time I returned, the rest of the group was all alive.  With the trash pack from the side gone, the tank went ahead and pulled the boss back into the hallway.  Things were going just fine until--figure this--the chains.  Again, I dps'd the chains, and again, I could not take them down alone in time.  This time, we were all flattened.

As I ran back, I chewed them out in party chat.  (I'm a nice person, so my chewing out wasn't really terribly harsh.)  "You've GOT to dps the chains.  I'm the only ranged, and I'm the healer.  I can't do it by myself."  (I might have clarified, saying, "Even if I do not need to heal anyone, I just don't have enough dps power!  You should see me killing naga as Resto . . . the only reason they end up dying is because they can't kill me . . .")

This time, I was getting really mad.  Even if they did not feel chatty, at this moment we were presumably engaged in a common endeavor, and a little communication on strategy, mistakes, fixing mistakes, etc., would have been in order.

Suddenly, in shock, I saw something appear in party chat.  It was the tank.  He said, "Sorry."  Then he left group.  When the option came to requeue, I declined and left group as well.

It's a given that everyone expects communication in 25-man raids.  But with the ease at which we've been able to accomplish Wrath Heroics lately, people have become accustomed to simply saying, "Thanks for group," as the extent of communication in randoms.  But this is Cataclysm, and it is a whole new ball game, as the saying goes.  Groups are going to have to communicate, and four of the group communicating in guild chat while the healer hears nothing is insufficient.

I think, in future randoms, that I will greet the group at the beginning.  If I see they are all in the same guild, I will tell them up front to please communicate in party chat, as I cannot read their guild chat.  (Obvious, but I think some people need reminding.)  Perhaps if I make the first move, others will feel more free to communicate, and nobody will be left stewing in the dark.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The New Armory

At the suggestion of Saniel at Primal Precision, I took at look at the new WoW Armory.  I had known it was there, but had forgotten the potential implications for bloggers (i.e., broken links).  As luck would have it, I do not have any links to the old Armory, so there are no old posts I need to update, but I took another look at the new Armory, anyway.

The first thing which strikes me about the new Armory is that it, like the new forums, has a lot of orange.  /sigh.  I don't really like orange, but it's not my design, and I understand the implication of flame, etc., associated with it, so I'll live with the new scheme.  (As if I had any alternative . . .)

The next interesting thing is that my character is posed in some sort of battle stance.  Whether it is intended to be aggressive or defensive, I cannot say (initial impression is defensive, from my ancient lessons in martial arts), but it looks sort of funny to see a Restoration Druid brandishing Val'anyr and her Sundial of Eternal Dusk in front of her.

One new and interesting feature in the new Armory is the capability to have Simple or Advanced view.  The Advanced view shows details of the character's gear right there on the page, including name, ilevel, gems, and enchants.  There is also a consolidated list of the gems, enchants, and reforging activity below the character display, as well as an audit to check for empty glyph slots and other simple ways in which the character can be improved.  I think I will stick with Advanced view, as it tells me more of what I am trying to see, anyway.  (And, at level 81, no, I haven't replaced anything yet.  My Recent Activity shows that I picked up a new healing mace from Blackrock Caverns--on a Greed roll, I might add--but it doesn't strike me as being good enough to relegate Val'anyr to the bank.)

On a totally off-the-wall note, my Recent Activity also shows that I picked up Crepuscular Shield from Blackrock Caverns.  I knew Crepuscular rays are those rays which stream through the clouds and evoke images of God talking to prophets, but how that related to a shield, I had no idea . . . until I looked up the word in the dictionary.  Apparently, Webster says it means "of, relating to, or resembling twilight."  Well, considering that Blackrock Caverns is all about the Twilight Hammer's clan, it suddenly makes all kinds of sense.

There is also a Raid Progression display at the bottom of the page.  Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to make the distinction between 10 and 25-man raids in its display.  I can see this because I know I have not seen Anub'arak in 25-man ToGC die . . . in fact, we tend to deny his existence . . . but it shows that I have seen him die 21 times in Heroic.  It would have to have been in 10-man.  Again, in Ulduar, it says I have seen 2 kills of Algalon.  That is true, but one was in 10-man (the Herald run) and one was in 25-man (the last boss of the last raid of the Wrath expansion.)  So while it's fun for the "Gee Whiz" factor, I'm not sure how helpful this feature will be for me.

Oddball ramblings aside, I do like the new features in the Advanced view of the new Armory, and I think it will be helpful when I am evaluating either my own characters or applicants to the guild.

Note to self:  Must pick up Moonkin Hatchling soon . . .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New and Improved Redridge

More lore questing!

To be honest, Redridge was a zone I had done once with my main and vowed to avoid whenever possible.  I hated the orcs which ambushed me from behind the big rock to the north . . . or was it south?  I hated the concentration of bad guys EVERYWHERE.  And the quests were just plain mind-numbingly tedious, so I found every opportunity to quest elsewhere.  (There wasn't always a good alternative . . .)

These residual emotions of revulsion made me a little hesitant to tackle the zone, but as Westfall left me with a couple of quests directing me there and on the recommendation of a former guildie, I decided to give it a try.

Some of the early quests felt a bit familiar, in a mind-numbing sort of way . . . Ho hum . . . But then I discovered the underground fight club at the inn, and everything changed.

If there is ever a quest chain designed to make you feel powerful, this is it.  (/flex)  Not only that, you get to do it with powerful, motivated, and enthusiastic friends.  (Which is clue #1 that they are NPCs . . . just kidding.  I do have enthusiastic player friends . . .)

Again, like the Westfall quests, I found myself becoming so wrapped up in the story line that I did not feel time ticking or take note of the number of quests completed.  I was focused on the mission, which sometimes required me to remember my sneaking skills (who am I kidding?  I'm a Druid!), sometimes inspired maniacal laughter while assisting in extreme violence (I don't play FPS games, so the whole extreme violence thing doesn't usually appeal to me), and made me giggle in sheer delight watching things go boom.  (IRL, I live in a place where we make things go boom . . . on test ranges . . . /giggle . . .)

The ending was nothing short of epic, combining bittersweet emotions with a blaze of glory.  It might almost have come out of Hollywood . . .

If I ever find myself leveling a lowbie Alliance character again, I don't think I will avoid Redridge.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Motivation to Play

The other day, a co-worker wanted to chat about WoW.  She told me she had taken a character and gone to check out the new quests in Westfall but had been disappointed.  According to her, the quests required too much thought and guesswork.

"When I play after work," she said, "I play to relax, not to have to use my brain."

Of course, she emphasized, she enjoyed the challenge of raiding, but that was different.  She didn't want challenges in her questing.

"I'm just not sure I want to continue in Cataclysm, if the questing is going to be like this," she told me.  "I guess I'll give it a month and then decide."

I don't know what micro-expressions manifested themselves on my face, but I'm sure they displayed something to the effect of incredulity.  Sure, I don't like quests which make me beat my head against the wall, wondering what the objective is, but these days, few quests fall into that category.  After all, objectives now sparkle enough to be seen 50 feet away, and the Blizzard interface has the option to show the general location of objectives, as well as confirm the identity of the target mobs when mousing over them.  (She is still complaining about the demise of Questhelper, by the way.  She says the Blizzard interface isn't enough.  I'm not sure what she's talking about, as I think the Blizzard interface is more than adequate.  But I digress . . .)  If the quester is confused even slightly, websites like Thottbot or Wowhead are there to clear everything up.

I had flashbacks of reading multiple players' complaints on forums throughout Wrath that WoW had become too easy--that the developers had catered too much to "the casuals".  Considering that casual players still pay the same subscription, but may not actually use the resources as much as others, I would think they are better money-makers for Blizzard, so it would make sense they would work to appeal to casual players.  But I had heard the developers had listened to the less casual players, as well, when they worked on designing Cataclysm, adding more challenges.

Personally, I think that overall, Blizzard has done a pretty good job of finding ways to appeal to players with a variety of motivations to play.  (Obviously, or they wouldn't be up to . . . however many million subscribers now.)

The evening after I spoke with my co-worker, I took my Druid out to Westfall, to check things out.  I hadn't really considered working on Loremaster-type achievements, but I was curious to see what kinds of challenges she had faced and not enjoyed.  I found that, yes, many of the quests were linear, meaning that one quest led to another, rather than picking up a half-dozen quests to do at the same time.  And some of the earlier ones did not say exactly how you were supposed to accomplish them, which may be what frustrated my co-worker.  (They said something to the effect of "find the clue", without giving as much detail as, "kill the murlocs until you find the clue.")  But the story line quickly grabbed me, and before I knew it, midnight had come and I had to call it a night.

Unlike the previous quests, which had been something to the effect of, "We're in a war with the Defias, so kill a bunch of them.  By the way, pick up some food," there was more reason to fight things.  Sure, there was some food-gathering, but it was to feed the hungry refugees, and the drop rates were more sensible and consistent.  Sure, we picked up red bandanas, but it was to provide clues to a brutal murder.  There was more purpose to the quests and more cohesiveness to the storyline.

The next night, I went back to Westfall, even before I considered running a random to complete my Gnomeregan Exalted reputation.  I continued on with the quests, following the story to its conclusion, marvelling at the outcome, and getting the Westfall quest achievement.

I don't consider myself hard-core.  But nobody goes into healing if they do not like challenges in their game-play.  Even more, I do like a good mystery or puzzle, so the quest line I found was very satisfying to me.  (After all, I played the Myst games way back when--talk about beating your head against a wall.)  If this is the sort of thing we will be finding throughout Cataclysm, I suspect I will be paying much more attention to the lore than I have hitherto done.

I'm actually looking forward to doing more lore questing now.  Some, anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Guild Relations Forum Again

With still no response from Blizzard, at least one Blogger has taken pity on the GRF posters and written an article on the situation.  Michael Jamais of QQ Spotlight recently published this article:  Dear Abbys of WoW struggle to find a new home.

As is mentioned in the article, there is a new forum outside the official forums created for Guild Relations.  Hopefully the word will be spread well enough before the old forums go dark that a new gathering place has been created at http://www.wowguildrelations.com/forums/ .  Those wishing to show support, please register and post.

Update:  GRF is back!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Demise of the GRF?

With Cataclysm on the horizon, Blizzard has launched new forums for World of Warcraft users.  Aside from any complaints I might have about the navigability or the color choice (could they have picked a color harder on the eyes?  OK, probably so), they have not chosen to include a Guild Relations Forum.

Several people came out of the woodwork to petition Blizzard for a Guild Relations Forum, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  (In an almost unprecedented move, I posted there on my main.)  Sure, it was a lightly trafficked forum, but it filled a niche.  It was a "safe place" to ask sensitive questions, where posters could be reasonably certain to receive a civil answer instead of mockery.

As yet, there has been no response from Blizzard on the subject.  Some are taking this as a hopeful sign, showing that it hasn't been entirely ruled out yet.  Who knows?

Maybe after all the earthquakes have stopped and the fires are burning, things will settle down long enough at Blizzard to take a look at it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In True Tempest Fashion

Tempest, like many guilds, has its traditions and quirks.  One quirk which has happened so often by now it seems to be a tradition is downing a boss on what has to be the absolutely last pull of the raiding period.  So it would make sense that something would happen in the absolutely last pull of the last hour of the last official raiding night of the expansion.




We had been working on some other achievements earlier in the raid period, but due in large part to the D/C boss rearing his ugly head, they had been unsuccessful. As Algalon 25 was something we really wanted to try before Cataclysm (and knowing we'd only have an hour to work on him, anyway), we decided to head to the Observatory for the last hour of our scheduled raid.  So for the first time, the Tempest 25-man raid faced Algalon.

Algalon 25 is still a boss which can wipe a raid, despite good ICC25 Heroic gear.  The fight requires an understanding of the basic mechanics, and it still requires good tank healing and dps.  Several of us had done it in 10-man, so we had a grasp of what would happen, but there were also several raid members, including the raid leader, who had never set foot in the Observatory.  (There was a lot of "oooh"ing and "aaah"ing, which is understandable, as the room really is quite magnificent.  I still feel the same way when I enter.)

And, yes, we wiped.  There is, after all, a learning curve involved.  Sometimes the wipes were due to silly errors.  Sometimes the wipes were due to raiders not knowing a detail or a trick or a recommended position.  But progress was definitely being made.  The Black Holes stopped being dropped in the middle of the room.  Raiders started keeping a better eye on the Cosmic Smash locations and trying to time the demise of the Collapsing Stars to not coincide with Cosmic Smash.  Tanks reworked their assignments to better handle the challenges of the encounter.

And finally, when our raid time had depleted and we were down to the last pull of the night, we won.

Congrats to all the raiders who proved that even after a frustrating night, Tempest can still pull it all together at the end.



We lit up the sky above Dalaran.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So I Fell . . .

Last night, I was playing on my not-so-baby Discipline priest, flying around Zangarmarsh (yea, that's how not-so-baby she is now), when the power went out for just a few seconds at my house.  Because I have an UPS on my computer stuff, as well as an UPS on the fiber Internet connection, my game signal was not disrupted, but my brain sure was.

In my surprise, I somehow managed to dismount and cast Pain Suppression on her.  (Probably dismounted by hitting the Pain Suppression button.)  As I almost never use Levitate, my fingers fumbled around and didn't manage to locate the appropriate button before she hit the ground.

"Oh, great," I thought, "Splat."

Suddenly an achievement notification box popped up:  "Going Down?"

In amazement, I saw that she was alive, if barely, thanks to, well, Pain Suppression.  Then the ludicrousness of the situation got to me, and I burst out laughing.

It's not every day you totally lose your mind and manage to get an achievement in the process.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stats Again!

Browsing the Stats section of Blogger for this blog has turned up a few interesting observations recently.

1. Referring Sites.  The vast majority of my referring sites are one form or another of one very predictable site.  But every so often, I find some site has apparently referred me for completely mysterious reasons.  Most recently, I found a referring site which purports to be a paid survey site.  (What that has to do with Restoration Druids, I have no idea.)  And most inexplicably, I found a referring site listed which . . . well, if its name holds true to its purpose, apparently deals in free sex videos.  (Anyone who knows me understands how completely surprised I was to see this one.  They'll probably be less surprised to hear there was one purporting to have kitchens on clearance . . .)

I have to wonder if those sites make a business of simply hitting random blogs in hopes that the bloggers will come to their sites out of curiosity and eventually give them business.  (Some sort of crawling robot or something.)  Or perhaps it is a similar tactic by those attempting to disseminate malicious software.  Either could be the case, but I'm not going to test it.

2.  Popular Posts.  For whatever reason, my most popular post by far (as in leaps and bounds) is my post about the Guild Relations Forum at the World of Warcraft website.  This post was written back in May, and as far as I know, is not exceptionally well-written.  Maybe someone has bookmarked it to be able to follow a link?  Maybe someone is trying to give me a hint that informative pages, rather than anectdotes or treatises on originality or the rule of law, are more in demand?  Go figure.  (Still not going to write a redundant healing guide, thank you very much.)

3. Audience.  I already mentioned my delight in seeing new countries on my audience list.  I'm now up to twenty-two countries where people have accessed my blog to one degree or another.  More than likely, the majority of them just sort of stumbled on it, because many of those countries do not reappear frequently, but that is all right.  They are still on my list.  (Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Moldova are the most recent.  I had to look up Moldova.)

While there is not enough traffic to this blog to be able to make any statistical pronouncements (such as percentages of people using various browsers--changes week to week), there are certainly things on the Stats page which make it worthwhile for me to follow.

By the way, Moldova is in Eastern Europe:


(Image from www.wpclipart.com.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Glory of the Icecrown Raider


The last few weeks, our raid has been focused more on achievements than Heroic progression.  To be honest, with the demise of Professor Putricide (Heroic), we figure we're done with Heroic ICC progression.  (Heroic Lich King is a myth--non-existant.)  So we've been continuing our progression down another path.

Last week, we almost (soooo close--not kidding) managed to successfully complete an Immortal Naxx run.  We've also been helping several of our members complete their "Glory of the Ulduar Raider (25)" achievements.  (No talk at this point of "discovering" the last boss in TOGC . . . steadfastly maintaining that there are only four . . .)

And last night, we finally did "Neck Deep In Vile" to complete the "Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25)" achievement.

To be honest, I thought that "Neck Deep In Vile" was going to be much more difficult than it ended up being. ("Firefighter", which we did later on in the raid, caused us more trouble.)  I'm sure we were helped by the recent patch changes to our abilities, but even so, people just managed to do things right.  Nobody dropped a Defile in the middle of the room.  (Ok, there was one sort of in the middle, and someone happened to be DC'd in the middle of that, and the healers unwisely kept him alive . . . but it all ended up just fine.  The transition wiped the Defile, and the player came back on-line just in time to run out with the rest of us.)  Everyone stayed far, far away from the vile spirits.  The shadow priest sent into Frostmourne for the first time handled it with ease.  And just in the nick of time, when it looked like we might possibly fail, the Lich King killed us all, causing the remaining vile spirits to despawn.

Our engineers dropped a mailbox right then and there, so we could pick up our Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers, and we ported to Dalaran to go hover above one of the floating islands and take a screenshot.

Grats to the many Tempest players who worked hard to accomplish this guild achievement!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Failure of Leadership

Last night, I failed as a leader.

We had a new recruit--a melee dps--who was friendly and eager to fit in with the guild.  He had been open, talkative, willing to share pictures on the guild forum, and so forth.  Perhaps he was trying a little too hard, but at least he was trying.

This weekend, he decided to post on his usually dead class section of the forum with some information on tanking.  One guild member almost immediately followed with something to the effect of "Haha, dps player teaches you to tank."  I recognized that as a juvenile response, but sometimes forums are like that, so I didn't worry about it.

What crossed the line was when that guild member and one other harrassed him about it in guild chat.  Right away, I whispered the first instigator, telling him that at least the recruit had posted, and if he wanted to teach it, he could post, himself.  He did not respond to me, although he did stop typing in chat.

Where I failed was in not calling out the harrassers publicly in guild chat.  If I had done so, the recruit would have known he was not alone, and it would have set an example for any other guild members who might feel inclined to join in the harrassment activity.  (I suspect there may have been more which I did not witness.)  The message would have been clearly sent that harrassment of other members is not tolerated in our guild.  (As we are stating in our policies.)  In trying to be sensitive to the feelings of the wrongdoer, I failed to address the needs of the harrassed.

This is something for which I should have drawn from my experience as a mother.  When one daughter gets upset at another and puts her down, especially in front of other other sisters, I do get on her case in full hearing of all, for similar reasons.  The girls need to know that denigrating a sister is not tolerated, and the sister needs to know that Mom is defending her right to be treated fairly.  (Any root issues are addressed separately.)

But recently, there was a misunderstanding in guild by which I allowed myself to be hurt and become a little gun-shy.  I was afraid of appearing over-bearing in trying to encourage members to be courteous with each other, and so I did not do as much as I was first inclined to do.  This was wrong of me.  I needed to get over it and recognize that what is right to do is right to do, no matter the reactions of other people.  (Hey, I'm a Mormon; doing what I believe is right despite the reactions of others is something I have had to live with my entire life.  You'd think I would be immune by now.)

Shortly afterward, the recruit left the guild.  While I understand the first few weeks in a guild are a trial period, intended to allow both the guild and the recruit to decide on the fitness of the match, I feel I could have done more to help this recruit integrate into the guild.  I especially regret having a recruit leave under the cloud of mistreatment from other guild members, as it is a point of pride that our guild habitually treats members with patience and courtesy.

Leaders must have the courage to stand up and be ready to take bullets, if necessary.  I did not, and there was a price paid.

To the credit of the initial instigator, he did return to the forums and delete his post, as well as apologize to the recruit who had left.  This was good on his part, and shows his heart is essentially in the right place, but the damage had already been done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raiding Physical Fitness

Often, when I speak of my raiding activities to other people, I compare it to a team sport.  While many cannot relate to the desire to have a dedicated time for playing a computer game, they can understand the commitment to a team.  And, like any team sport, there are some inherent physical hazards.  I, personally, have encountered repetitive motion injuries and vision difficulties.

If I was still working in the grill, doing catering, or if I was outside cutting grass all day, these problems may not have developed.  But I work at a computer, as many other WoW players do.

Repetitive motion injuries are injuries caused by, well, doing the same motion over and over again, particularly motions which place stress on certain joints.  Particularly well-known to computer users are carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.  (Which, yes, can be developed by computer users, even if they do not play tennis, as I do not.)

When I switched from a catering role to a desk job, I knew my potential to develop such injuries was greatly increased.  I started by developing my left-hand mousing skills in an effort to reduce the stress on my right arm.  When I am at work, I mouse with my left hand, and when I am at home playing, I mouse with my right.  I hoped this would prevent difficulties.

As time went on, I found I was developing tennis elbow in my right arm.  I adjusted my seat at home and purchased a hand support to help maintain the proper angles in my arm and wrist.  (I hate wrist rests: they make me feel like my circulation is being cut off.)  I also started wearing a tennis elbow brace, which helped relieve the symptoms.

But over time, I not only developed tennis elbow and some twinges threatening carpal tunnel syndrome in my right arm, I also developed them in my left.  (Great.)  Something had to be done.

That's when I stumbled on a blog (sorry, I can't find the post--too long ago!) wherein the blogger was saddened to learn she had carpal tunnel syndrome and would most likely have to stop playing WoW.  Commenters had mentioned they had tried using the NSD Powerball with good results.

I figured that if $50 could save my game, prevent me pain, and help to avoid potential surgery, it was worth it.  So I ordered one with bells and whistles (the counter and the lights--grin factor is worth something) and learned how to use it.  When I went out on break with my co-workers, I took my Powerball with me.  When I was good enough to be able to walk and spin it at the same time, I kept it going while walking to lunch or to meetings.  People started joking they could hear me coming, but I was seeing results.  The twinges in my wrists and elbows disappeared, and as an added bonus, my forearms and hand grip became stronger.  (Useful when I am trying to trim weeds in my yard with a string trimmer . . .)

My vision difficulties were exacerbated by my age, to be honest.  At about 40-41, according to my optometrist, most people start to have trouble with their near vision.  Well, my near vision is great, especially for my age, but because I am spending so much time focusing at the distance of my computers, I have developed trouble with my eye flexibility.  I can see near, and I can see far, but I can't switch from near to far quickly.  This may not seem much of a problem, until you are focusing on a navigation unit in a car, then have to look up and read street signs.  (It's also inconvenient if you like to knit and watch TV at the same time . . . the TV ends up becoming more like a radio show.)

My optometrist said this is a condition which frequently appears in computer users and prescribed some vision therapy exercises.  She sent me home carrying cards with letters calibrated to certain sizes.  The large card is attached to the wall, and I sit about ten feet away, holding a small one.  For five minutes, I look back and forth, focusing on a near letter, then focusing on a far letter.  This should be done about three times a day.  (Which means I have copied the cards, so I can have a set at home and a set at work.)

Because I was traveling on Tuesday, yesterday evening was the first time I tried this exercise.  This morning, my eyes were soooooo tired and sore, as if I spent the entire evening crying.  I kept wanting to just close them.

While it is annoying to have sore eyes, I am convinced this is an indication the exercise is actually doing something.  (No pain, no gain, right?)  When I repeated the exercise this morning, I found to my amazement that about half-way through my timer, I was able to see a marked change in the speed at which I was able to focus on the far letters.  This is very encouraging.  I have every hope that this, too, will prove to be effective and help postpone the day I need different sets of glasses, despite all the time I spend on the computer.

I hope that, by nipping these problems in the bud, I will be able to prevent problems which have the potential to force me to reduce computer time.  (Or put me completely out of action due to expensive surgery.)  If a few simple exercises can do it, there's no harm trying.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A WoW Mom

When my youngest daughter was three, I was not a raider.

That doesn't mean, however, that I did not have a goal in Vanilla WoW.  At the time, I was trying to gain enough rank at battlegrounds to allow me to purchase an inexpensive swift riding mount.  (Having decided I would never be able to earn enough gold to outright purchase one . . .)

Anyone who has ever tried for this goal knows it was one which took a lot of time--much more than I could accomplish by following my normal patten of only playing in the evenings.  But I was a stay-at-home mom, and no battleground queue ever ran below 10 minutes, so with the support of my family, I felt I could do it.

And so I did.  I queued, then set the timer on my watch so I would know when it was time to turn off the vacuum and return for the bg invitation.  I ran ten-minute Arathi Basins over and over until my Alterac Valley queue would come up (took an hour and a half; we could queue for more than one thing at the time), then start all over after AV.

My kids were pretty computer-game savvy by this time, including my three-year-old, who was a proficient mouser and could play games for young children on the kids' computer.  But when it wasn't her turn, many times she would sit on my lap during a battleground run, where she hit the space bar over and over to make my regular speed mount jump.  The two of us had great fun together, me holding my littlest girl, giving her kisses, and her controlling some aspect of my game.  (If you don't think children love anything which gives them some kind of control over something the adults are doing, you don't know children very well.)

One day, I made the mistake of mentioning this in /bg.

I received the most scathing condemnation in return from a player who told me I was a poor excuse for a mother and should never have given birth.  (After all, I was "making" my three-year-old sit on my lap while I played WoW.)  It stung, even though I knew it was not true.

The lesson I learned from this is that there were misconceptions about mothers who might play WoW, so it was best to not mention anything about it.

The recent production "The Guild" doesn't help this much.  One character in the show is a mother of young children who habitally locks them out of her computer area with a child safety gate.  There are images of the children standing behind or hanging on the gate, crying for their mother, while she chatters on Vent.  She is portrayed as being very negligent in her role as mother, going so far as to leave her children in the toy section of a store while she meets in a nearby restaurant with her guildies.

There may be mothers like that, but I have not met any of them.  The mothers I know in WoW are very careful to take care of their children.  If you see them standing around in Dalaran and try to /whisper them, you may not get an answer back, because they have gone to the kitchen to feed their children or they are sitting on the floor, working a puzzle with their two-year-old.  They may have left to get some housework finished, as I used to do in battleground queues.  Or they may choose to play only when their children are asleep.

I did make my battleground goal.  My kids cheered as loudly as I did when I finally showed them my rank and my new epic cat.  And then I stepped away to do other things.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rule of Law

Laws can be pesky things.  Once they are set, they must be followed until they are changed in their proper order.  Professor Li Shuguang states, ". . . under the rule of law the law is preeminent and can serve as a check against the abuse of power."

Guilds do not usually have "laws", but they may have "policies" which serve a similar purpose.  The policies are intended to set a standard way for the guild to operate, whether it is concerning acceptance into the guild, invitations to the raids, loot handling, or disciplinary actions.  Having policies in place puts everyone in the guild on an equal footing: the officers are bound to follow them (or "uphold the law") and the members know what to expect and what is expected of them.  Can the guild leaders make decisions which completely ignore the policies?  Yes, but not without consequences.

When members do not do those things expected of them, it is perfectly reasonable for certain consequences to follow.  And when they do follow, the member has little room in which to complain, for it was laid out in the policy to which everyone agreed. (By virtue of remaining in the guild, the members agree to the policies.)

When officers do not follow the established written policy, the members lose respect for their leadership. Members may develop cynical attitudes toward the leadership, because they do not know what to expect from them on any given day.  They may become disgruntled and see favoritism in the actions of the officers, whether or not it was intended.  The officers may justifiably be called capricious or arbitrary.  And in a raiding guild, their discontent may be passed on in whispers to other raid members, thus undermining discipline and commitment--cutting to the heart of the common goal of the guild.

If the officers hope to maintain order, loyalty, and respect in the guild, they must follow the written policies they have established, even if they are not sure they want to do it.  If they find a problem in the policy, the policy may be changed, but changing it on the spot, after expectations have been set, is no better than not following the policy to begin with.  All things must be done in wisdom and order.

One of the biggest complaints I have read (or personally heard) about guild officers in various guilds is their unwillingness to follow their own policies or their unwillingness to establish policies.  On the Guild Relations Forum, the first question asked of those complaining about guild leaders' decisions is, "What is your guild policy?"  If the guild leader's actions are in keeping with guild policy, the judgement is that the member agreed to those conditions when he joined the guild, and so the guild leader acted appropriately.  If the guild leader's actions are contrary to established, written guild policy, those on the forum agree that the member would be justified in either bringing up the case to the guild leader for reconsideration or in leaving the guild in search of one with better leadership (especially if there is a pattern).

A guild is a voluntary organization, held together only by common goals and mutual respect.  Members stay because they believe the guild will help them meet their gaming goals and they will be treated fairly.  Each person's definition of "fair" may be different, but by establishing and following a written policy, the leaders may attract and keep those who have goals and expectations in line with those of the guild. If the guild fails in either of these areas, the members will seek other guilds which meet these criteria. 

These words were written by the House of Commons to King Charles I of England, after the king had made proclamations which appeared to be contrary to established law.  They illustrate the importance placed on defined and consistent leadership:
Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which your majesty's subjects of this kingdom have enjoyed under your royal progenitors, kings and queens of this realm, there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by the certain rule of the law which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them, and not by any uncertain or arbitrary form of government....
King Charles I was eventually beheaded.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Another Random Instance Story

The other day, my husband and I decided to run an instance together on his level 35 Druid tank and my level 30-something Holy priest. My husband had not played his bear much since the patch, when he discovered he had a difficult time with AoE threat. So he was a little leery, but decided to give it a try.

We queued and found ourselves heading to the Scarlet Monastery Armory wing, along with a Ret Pally, a mage, and one other dps. Somewhat predictably, as we started in the first hall, the dps did not wait for him to gain threat before opening up. Nobody died, but aggro was everywhere. I went through a large percentage of my mana pool on our way to the courtyard and asked for a mana break.

While drinking, I commented (nicely) to the dps that if they would wait for the tank to get aggro, I would not have to stop as often for mana, because I would usually only have to heal the tank.

The Ret pally said something unprintable for me (which did not get filtered by the profanity filter). At that point, I became so incensed, I told my husband we were leaving group, which we did. (Happened to be after he had pulled a pack . . .)

I know this story is hardly unusual, but it isn't often that someone makes me so mad I choose to leave group with no warning.  Poor players do not make me mad; I tolerate them as still learning.  Players who display overgrown egos do not make me mad; they just make me roll my eyes.  But players who treat others with extreme disrespect earn my contempt and a slot on my Ignore list.  It's not worth the stress putting up with them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Originality

The other day, Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket posted that she had discovered a plagiarist.  In the flurry of activity afterward, it appears that the plagiarist was alternating between protesting innocence loudly and apologizing profusely.  (You can see it in Keeva's subsequent posts.)

Given the intense scrutiny under which my daughters' papers at school are placed, I'm surprised anyone under the age of 30 (or so . . . trying to think when the Internet may have become a relatively common resource for students . . .) has any doubt as to what plagiarism is.  That is, assuming that the blogger is under the age of 30, which I think is a pretty reasonable guess, given the average age of WoW players.  (Then again, look at me . . . but even I know it's wrong to steal other people's intellectual property.)

That said, I can empathize a bit with the sentiment that the plagiarist had when she more or less stated that there were only so many ways in which the same thing could be said.

I understand this complaint.  Looking over history and the vast amounts of literature and other media, it is hard to believe that any of us could ever really have an original thought.  You can start to read a book and suddenly, you can either see the pattern the writer followed or you can see similarities to another book you read in junior high. (Yes, kids, I went to a junior high, not a middle school.)

When I was in junior high, my Reading teacher assigned us to read "The Sword of Shannara". I loved it. All the adventure, magic, action, and the idea of the reluctant hero with the destiny to save the world was exciting to me, and I ate it up. Some years later, I decided to read "The Lord of the Rings", but when I started out, I had the funny feeling I had heard all this before. So many elements of the beginning were similar to "The Sword of Shannara" that I lost interest. I realize that the Shannara book was modeled after LoTR, rather than the other way around, but I had read Shannara first. (Years later, I did go and read LoTR and enjoyed it.  Now I don't read Shannara.)

As another example, on the back cover of "The Blue Sword", by Robin McKinley, I once saw a review which made me laugh out loud.
Any book that, at one point or another, reminded me of "The Sheikh", "Gunga Din", "Islandia", and "The Lord of the Rings", can't be anything but a true original.
--Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"A true original?"  When it reminded the reviewer of so many other stories and ideas all meshed together?  To be honest, I had immediately noticed that this author's "fantasy world" bore a remarkable resemblance to British India, which seemed to me to be somewhat romantic, but hardly original.  (Other elements:  a heroine who grows up not knowing she has a special heritage or special abilities, a wood-dwelling group of archers who can "melt" into the trees, a talisman passed down which only one person can wield, a people who have amazing talents which are not called "magic" but which might as well be . . . as I said, hardly original.)

So, yes, I can understand the idea that it is difficult to be original, especially with such limited material as Druid class abilities.

This is why I do not write basic Druid healing guides.  There are others who have the time to go play on the test servers, gather the data, and speak from experience, while I do not.  Anything I might write would simply be reiterating what other people had discovered, most likely with many referenced direct quotations, which would make my writing feel tired and redundant.  Without the experience myself, it would be very difficult for me to say anything in my own words without sounding like it was lifted from their pages.  So I leave all-encompassing guides to the explorers and benefit greatly by their explorations in my own play.  (I don't write such guides after I have had experience with the live changes because by then, enough already exist to make one from me completely extraneous.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Comment on things in my own experience?  Sure.  Write something and call it "The Amazing Anachan's Foolproof Guide to Restoration Druid Healing"?  No way.)

My niche lies in other areas, largely based upon things which happen to me or which I observe.  One advantage of this format is there can be no arguing my work is original.  In addition, I have often said that if my experiences cannot be used to help others, then the things learned in them are largely wasted.  Besides, it is fun to take a personal experience or observation and put together a larger thought.

The largest reason I write, truthfully, is the satisfaction I find in the process of creation.  (Even in the bad poetry I continue to write . . .)  There's something wonderful about trying to think and share self-crafted thoughts, even if the wonder of the piece is lost upon everyone except the author.

How someone can gain any satisfaction from taking credit for material owned by others is beyond me.

Side note:  Oh!!!  By the way, that annual inspection at work . . . I not only passed, I got commended.  /happy dance

Friday, October 22, 2010

Resto Healing Now

After a few raids, I've finally settled down into some kind of healing pattern.  It's still requiring quite a bit of thought to maintain--after all, it takes about two weeks to develop a habit--but at least it's not wearing out my brain by the end of the night anymore.

Here's a quick rundown of my healing now:

Rejuvenation:  I'm casting this a lot more than I anticipated, from the beta reports.  I don't randomly spread it out, but the mana supports casting it over many targets taking damage.  I cast it whenever I'm not needing to cast something else.

Regrowth:  This is where I might find myself with mana issues if I do not watch it; sometimes it is tempting to spread these around, as the cast time is so short.  That said, it's a very handy spell when someone needs a quick top-up.

Swiftmend:  I'm usually casting this on the tanks or melee, for the full benefit of Efflourescence, unless someone somewhere else is in dire need of a quick, larger heal or they are going to die.  If I keep my head on, I'll cast this about every time it comes available.  That said, I haven't noticed that Efflourescence has been a tremendously large part of my healing.  But, hey, every little bit helps.

Lifebloom:  I used to spread these liberally throughout the raid.  It was such a habit that I had to switch the keybindings for this and Regrowth, to avoid cutting short my Lifeblooms accidentally.  Now I keep at least one stacked on the tank at all times, for Replenishment.  (Just because I'm not having mana problems now on a regular basis doesn't mean it's not a good habit to have.  Besides, the priests will thank me.)

Wild Growth:  Interestingly enough, I haven't been using this one as much.  To be honest, I was never a "cast WG as soon as the cooldown is up" person, anyway.  I do use it if there is much raid-wide damage going on.

Healing Touch:  Healing what?  I have it keyed in Clique, but that's about it.  I figure I'll probably end up using it later on in Cataclysm.

Nourish:  This is too slow to be the "oh, my goodness, I've got to keep this person alive during this spike damage" spell now.  Regrowth has taken its place.  To be honest, the only place I've found myself using this so far was healing Dreamwalker as a non-portal-taking dedicated boss healer.  As this situation can actually cause mana problems, it was handy to have a spell I could just about cast indefinitely after I had stacked HoTs.

Tree of Life:  This is like having a "Use" trinket.  I have always hated "Use" trinkets.  In fact, I have done my best to pass on any and all "Use" trinkets (except the spirit one in Naxx at the beginning of Wrath . . . I macro'd that to my Innervate).  In some fights, I have to keep reminding myself to use this ability--just pop the dratted thing--instead of wondering if I should be saving it or whatever.  But in other fights (Heroic Putricide phase changes, anyone?) it is easy to see when using the cooldown is optimal. (Innervate frequently follows ToL . . . all those lovely insta-cast Regrowths being tossed everywhere . . .)

Tranquility:  It's nice to have a raid cooldown, actually.  That's what I use Tranquility for, most of the time.  I should use it more often, to be honest.  (Again, if there isn't an optimally-planned time to use it, just use it when it seems to make sense . . .)

It's nice to feel like I have some kind of handle on how things work now, even if I know I still need improvement.  At least I know in what direction the improvement needs to go.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sorry for my Silence

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and most of it is not involving WoW.

I have an annual inspection at work coming up, and although I believe I am about as ready as I'll ever be, it still makes me nervous.  (It's like having a single event upon which your entire job performance is based.  Just remember to be humble and correct any mistakes . . . ask questions . . . show you really are focused on the details . . . don't try to bluff your way out of anything or justify something which is shown to be wrong . . .)

In addition, my family will be moving in a few weeks.  It's just a couple of houses down, so it's not as stressful as putting the entire household into boxes and taking it in one fell swoop, but because I do not know exactly when it will be scheduled, it drives me a little crazy.  (I do not like uncertainty.)  And in the mean time, I'm supposed to be trying to go through the mounds of junk we own and throw stuff away.  (I feel like I'm always throwing stuff away, but the pile never gets any smaller.)  My husband thinks I should take a raiding vacation to focus on this.  ("And, after all," he says, "What else are you going to accomplish these weeks between now and Cata?")

The trouble is that our guild, like many, has experienced a certain amount of issues relating to raiding the last little while.  And yet, we persist, as, to be honest, in a guild like this, raiding is the glue which holds it together--it's our common goal.  I haven't talked about this with the other officers, but I'd guess there might be a certain amount of concern about the ability to hold it all together if we discontinued raiding for the last few weeks before Cataclysm.  (And, hey, after we've all adapted to our new specs, maybe--just maybe--we can tackle Heroic Putricide.)

Part of me knows that even the worst case scenario wouldn't be the end of the world.  Worst case:  people start bailing because they've just gotta have a guild which raids at the end of the expansion.  OK.  What would we do?  We'd enter Cataclysm with our core group, level up, and recruit in preparation for raiding at 85.  Given that raiding guilds are always recruiting and having to replace people who are claimed by real life, scheduling problems, or whatnot, this doesn't seem like a terribly unusual situation.  (Recognizing this is what makes me not worry about the guild in transition.)

In addition, given that things are not entirely rosy right now, I feel guilty leaving for a few weeks during the troubled times, and thus potentially adding to the burdens of the other officers.  I tend to take commitments and responsibilities seriously.  (I think some people think I take things too seriously, as evidenced by the time I compared a guild app to a job app--not an unusual comparison, actually--and the applicant weeded himself out by telling me it was laughable ("It's a game, man!"), so goodbye . . . Personally, I thought that saved us the trouble later on of finding out he didn't take his commitment to the guild seriously.)  And, yet, I have responsibilities and commitments out of game, too, which are supposed to take precedence, because, after all, it is a game.

So many times, I have found ways of juggling my out-of-game life to make room for my in-game life, but this may be one which can't be juggled.  I'll give it a try this week--go home at lunchtime to do some dejunking, work on it first thing after work, come in to work a little early so I can leave earlier, focus Saturdays and non-raiding evenings, etc.--but if the household stuff isn't progressing as quickly as it needs, then I may have to take a break.  (At least I'm not attending Blizzcon, so that's one less thing to have to juggle.)

On the bright side, after we move, I will have my very own little computer room.  (Very little--more of a cubbyhole.  But it has built-in shelves at one end and paneling on the walls, so it's kind of cool.)  And my husband has assured me we will make sure I have a wired Internet connection.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

After the First Raid

Last night was a bit tough.  We were missing some people to real life (exams and such coming up).  We were missing others to computer problems (gotta love patches).  We found ourselves facing the start of raid with two tanks and four healers.  (Thank goodness for dual specs . . .)

In addition, at least one of our healers was beating her head against her addons, which were not cooperating, despite having been updated just before (or sometimes during) raid.  And to top it off, we were having to figure out how to heal and how to make healing assignments.

At least the mages and warlocks were happy.  (Unlike the melee dps . . .)

Our first raiding night in ICC would usually have resulted in our clearing nine bosses or so.  Last night, with all the complications, we ended up clearing five.  But four of those were on Heroic mode, which we felt was something of a triumph under the circumstances and helped boost the confidence of the raid.

We assigned our addon-gimped healer to tanks (fewer target switches), rearranged the way our healers are normally assigned for marks on Saurfang, fretted about the lack of threat reduction talents in healers (don't ask me how many times the Blood Beasts flattened me--I have updated Omen), and remembered that Druids can now be added into the raid cooldown rotation.

My biggest issues right now are 1) figuring out when I can just willy-nilly use my Tree of Life form and when I really ought to save it for something, 2) remembering that Tranquility exists, and 3) wondering if my Empowered Touch is really working, because Vuhdo hasn't been showing my Lifeblooms being refreshed from my Nourish casts.  (Maybe it's a Vuhdo thing?  Since my Grid plug-ins are broken, I've configured Vuhdo.  Getting used to the different view probably isn't helping my performance right now.)  I think I'm going to tweak my spec a little, as well, and switch the click binds for Lifebloom and Regrowth.  (So I won't absently cast LB when I just want to add a little more healing . . . yep, did that.)

At least I seem to be managing to remember to cast frequent Swiftmends for the Efflourescence effect.  (I'm usually Swiftmending the melee, so Efflourescence will have the greatest value.)

By the time we were done, people were ready to be done.  But that's normal when someone is on a learning curve.  Lately, we've been rather spoiled:  we've known our classes and our roles, and we could do a lot of raiding with our eyes closed.  Right now, we're having to constantly think and focus, and when you have to use your brain as much as this, it becomes rather tiring to the mind and the nerves. (Sort of like the difference between standing in a room of people speaking in your native tongue and standing in a room of people speaking in a language you are supposed to be learning . . . you never know how exhausting that can be until you've done it.)

We'll learn.  We always do.  But something tells me we won't be trying Heroic Putricide this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting . . .

I have never liked patch days.

I used to have connection problems on patch days. I have no idea why. Everything would be working just fine, then the patch would come and I'd be kicked off the server multiple times.

It is frustrating to log on and see one's addons inoperable.  I remember once when we logged on, only to find that <*gasp*> Grid wasn't working.  Panic swept through the healers until someone discovered a line which could be added to the addon to make it work.  (No word on Grid being updated so far today . . . downloaded Vuhdo to my machine, just in case . . .)

And then there are the days where you just do not know when the server will come up at all.  First, they say the server will be up at a certain time, then as that time approaches, a new time is posted, etc.  Once, I was in a guild which raided in the early afternoon. They ended up finally changing their raiding schedule to not include Tuesdays, because they never could be sure if the realm would be available for play.

The waiting and the uncertainty are probably the worst parts.  When will the server be up?  Will my addons work?  Will enough people be able to log on and have stable connections to do anything?  It doesn't help when you know it is a large patch (like today's), so a good deal of set-up will be required right at the start.  (New spec, new glyphs, new spell keybindings . . .)

On the bright side, these times of waiting are when the guild forum sees a lot of action and there is more than enough time to catch up on all the blog reading I missed while being away.

There's always a bright side, after all.

Edited to correct some silly errors because I didn't proofread this very carefully . . .

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Absent for a While

For a while, my husband has been wanting to go on a motorcycle trip.  Well, he finally found an excuse, sooooo . . . I will be gone for about a week.

Yes, he will bring his laptop, so maybe while he's in some of his meetings, I can sneak on a bit . . . just a little . . . but if I don't, I really haven't forgotten all about writing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Favorite Things

Following the example of Lathere, who got the shared topic from Blog Azeroth, I thought it might be fun to write up a post about some of my favorite things in Wrath of the Lich King.


Favorite Title

This one should be obvious, as I am still wearing it: Herald of the Titans.  I like this title because it is truly rare on my server.  At the time we completed this encounter, we were the third group Alliance-side that we knew of to complete it.

I like the title because nobody can say, as they can with Starcaller, "Oh, but you just went in when you overgeared the instance and downed the boss."  It's one which says, "We worked hard for this title, and our skill showed."  (Ok, in our case, there was a lot of luck, too, but you get the idea.  We didn't steamroll the encounter.)


Favorite Quest Chain

My favorite quest chain has got to be the one wherein we help the dying paladin at Silent Vigil who faces the destiny of becoming Scourge.  I don't role-play, and frequently I do not pay much attention to the lore (which makes it very confusing when some of the others who do start talking about names and places), but for some reason, I became very involved in this quest chain.

Each time I was sent on an errand to find one more thing which might help the paladin, I hoped this time, it would be the one.  And each time, I was saddened to find that the attempt was unsuccessful.

By the time A'dal came to take the soul of the paladin, offering as his blessing that he would be able to die and come to the Light, rather than become Scourge, I sat at my computer in tears.  I cried that we had been unsuccessful in saving his life and removing the curse, but I cried even more knowing that he would be happy with the end result.  (I even cried when I did the chain for the second time with my mage.)

This quest chain is my favorite because no other chain engaged me as much and because it showed me that, yes, paying attention to the lore instead of just saying, "8 Ghouls--right," can be rewarding.


Favorite Raiding Instance

Ulduar!!  Hands down Ulduar.

First of all, it's pretty.  (The floors are not decorated with the skulls of the vanquished.)

Secondly, there is a lot of variety in the encounters.

Third, the lore aspect is actually pretty fun.  (No, I didn't pay attention to it the first time.  It took others in Druid chat to alert me to the coolness of it all.)

Forth, the Yogg-Saron fight is one of the most well-designed and fun encounters in the game.

Ulduar has the distinction of being a raiding instance I still enjoy visiting.  Naxx was all right.  ToC was excessively boring after not too terribly long.  ICC is fun, but we're still working on our Heroic aspects.  But Ulduar is a great place to just hang out and soak up the atmosphere in between boss pulls.


Favorite Questing Zone

That would have to be Howling Fjord.  My husband and I started out in Borean Tundra, because we took the boat from Stormwind.  (To be honest, we hadn't done our homework enough to know how to get to the other starting zone, so we figured we might as well.)  It was all right.  We progressed through the quests well enough, but it was a rather dull-looking place.

Then one day, some guildies asked if I would heal Utgarde Keep for them.  They summoned me to the instance, so I really did not know where it was, and off we went.  As we ran outside to the terrace leading to the final boss, I was struck by the gorgeous scenery.  It was breathtaking.  (Literally.  I almost stopped dead in my tracks and forgot to heal.)

I knew that my husband, with Norweigian ancestry, would love this place, so after the instance, I told him, "I think we should change zones."

I enjoyed questing in Howling Fjord mostly because of the beautiful scenery, but also because there was quite a bit of variety to the quests.

Anyway, these are a few of my favorite things . . . ;)