Friday, January 29, 2010

/Hug Tempest

Every so often, something happens which reminds me how glad I am to be a part of Tempest guild.

Before I joined Tempest of Gorgonnash server, I had been in two other raiding guilds, both on Warsong server.  The first was The Shadow Guards, which, quite frankly, didn't raid on a regular basis, had a high turnover of people, and did not have posted policies.  But I am a loyal type of person, and I stayed with them for a full fourteen months, until an incident happened which proved to me that the guild leader was not loyal to me.  (By that time, only the guild leader and the webmaster predated me in the guild.)  The second was Disciples of Redemption.  They had a regular raiding schedule, more organization, and the general trappings of a successful progression guild.  But I was quickly shocked by the subjects of guild chat or raid chat, particularly the chat from the raid leader.  I put up with it, because I wanted to be able to raid with the group, especially as two of the raiders were former Shadow Guards with whom I had kept in touch.

When the time came to move on from Disciples of Redemption, I was at a crossroads.  I had been, more or less, a failure as a Druid tank, and I had decided to change focus to healing, which I had done in The Shadow Guards before the first expansion pack.  I had picked up a decent healing staff as off-spec while tanking, but I did not have a lot of armor suitable to healing.  So I did what I had always done when faced with the requirement to gear up quickly:  I played on the battlegrounds and picked up whatever gear I could get by that avenue.

After narrowing my guild search to Pacific Time Zone PVP servers, and deciding what times I wanted to raid, I started reading on the Guild Recruitment forums.  Anyone who has ever read the classifieds in a newspaper, looking for a job, will have some kind of idea how tedious this can be.  At last, I found a posting by a character called Namelessone for a guild called Tempest, looking for a Restoration Druid.  So I went to the website listed and posted an application.

I did not think about checking the guild or realm culture.  I did not know to make a level one alt, run it to a capital city, check out the auction house and listen to Trade chat, just to get a feel for the server.  I did not know to ask to sit in Vent on a raid progression night, to hear how the members interact with each other.  I was pretty much flying blind.

I knew I would be considered less than ideal by many because of my battleground gear, but Namelessone decided to take a chance on me.  So I decided to take a chance on Tempest.  I got lucky.

Time has shown that the culture of Tempest is a good fit for me.  (And over time, I became a much better healer than I was when I first zoned into Black Temple with them.)  The people are good (and those who aren't, don't stay long), the leadership tries to be fair (nobody will ever agree what is perfectly fair), and the organization is good enough to allow for decent progression.

Which brings me back to my original statement.

Although I am not looking for a new guild, I do find myself evaluating the cultures of other progressed Alliance guilds on the server.  I've already managed to avoid the "grass is greener" syndrome by the simple process of listening and reading.  One guild's members come off as very elitist on the forums, which reminds me how happy I am that the majority of Tempest members are helpful and courteous.  The guild leader of another guild posted a statement about some of his policies on the Guild Relations forum which reminded me how glad I am for Tempest's policies.  Another guild puts forth effort to maintain an image with which I would not want to be associated, which reminds me that while Tempest may not be considered the top guild on the server, at least our name is unblemished.

Today the leader of another guild posted a link on a forum to a song someone in his guild had written about the guild.  The song was full of profanities and unsavory images, and I could not listen to it.  (Reading the lyrics was bad enough.)  As my stomach turned, I became more thankful than ever for the guild culture of Tempest, and I wanted to give everyone a collective hug.

/Hug Tempest

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Older WoW Poetry

Yes, I know it is silly to write poetry based upon World of Warcraft experiences.  But sometimes I enjoy doing it anyway, even though I'm not very good.

This sonnet was written years ago, when I was in a guild called The Shadow Guards, now defunct.  We were facing the beginning of Burning Crusade, and there was much concern over what would happen to us as a guild in this time period.

To the Shadow Guards

As fireflies to flames are drawn, we came,
Propelled by visions disparately ours.
First joined by nothing stronger than a name,
Each carrying his separate battle scars.
Then, forged by Blackrock’s fire, the links were formed—
A chain to hold us close and meld the bond.
The many to a unit were transformed,
And with it came the hope to look beyond.
Soon we will face new challenges and change.
Soon friendships and this bond may well be tried.
Let us resolve to not let trials estrange
Each from the others; let this be our guide—
At one in heart and soul, and one in might,
The Shadow Guards now step into the light.

I might add that I remained in The Shadow Guards for about a year after that poem was written, and, yes, indeed, we faced problems in Burning Crusade.  (Oh!  Side note:  the guild leader's main character was named Fireflies.  I thought I was being clever by incorporating that into the poem.)

This was a sonnet written for fun, inspired one evening when I, as a Balance Druid, went with a friend playing a Feral Druid, as we helped a lower-level guildie farm a low-level instance.

Song of the Druids

We flew together under purple skies
Sustained by wings of grey or royal hue.
Swooping low, then beating hard to rise
To glide again on winds which never blew.
We fought together foes of visage dark--
The threat to peace, the enemies of right.
From each our hands there flew a brilliant spark
Defeating wrong with all-consuming light.
With sharpened claws you gathered up the foe
While my arms wove a storm of Nature’s wrath.
We saw them fall, by light of cavern’s glow,
Victorious in the quiet aftermath.
By claws and hands and feathered wings of song,
Together we will prosper and be strong.

This one was written for Tempest, as we prepared to head into Ulduar:

Tempestuous, it may appear to some
When we together challenge Arthas' Lich,
As to destruction they may not succumb
Nor our plans flow without a single hitch.
Yet on we go, again to make the stand--
Again, determined ever to succeed--
With high exacting standards we demand,
All others' expectations we'll exceed.
Press forward, then, press on to meet the foe!
To Ulduar we fly on outstretched wings.
The bosses there can never hope to know
The scarcely bridled storm that our raid brings.
They may well laugh, within their halls of frost,
But in the end, they will be Tempest-tossed.
(Yes, I had fun with that one . . .)

Who knows what other WoW poetry will be created in the future?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baby Druid

"Why would you want to make another Druid?" my husband asked.  "Why don't you raise a different class?"

"Well, Honey, I have made baby characters of every class except Death Knight, and I just like the Druid best."

My motivation for rolling another lowbie character was just to have something to play for giggles and grins, on a server which had the reputation of being one of the most friendly servers out there.  No pressure to level . . . no pressure to reach end-game . . . just a baby character to run around and explore the world, in an environment where I didn't have to worry about her being stomped into the ground by other players. (RP server, rather than a PVP one.)

In this different environment, I've decided to take a somewhat different route.  I'm questing in the areas I skipped before:  Ashenvale and Stormtalon Mountains, for instance.  These are areas where on PVP servers, little Night Elves had to worry about being whacked with impunity by any Horde player passing by on a regular basis.  They are also areas with difficult travel--long distances and limited options for paths.  But with the lower riding requirements, the travel has ceased to be a real issue.  And since I'm not worrying about rushing to endgame, I can take my time completing the quests I didn't do the first time around.

I've also decided I'm going to gain some tanking experience on the way up.  To be honest, I'm a little nervous about this.  I'm not sure of all my tools as a lower-level feral Druid, and I'm worried that I won't be as effective a tank as, say, a warrior.  When I think of this, though, I figure that it just means the other low-level characters will have to return to basics, as well--don't pull aggro, plan pulls, and so forth.  (We get so used to being overpowered for instances that we get sloppy sometimes in endgame.)  So one of these days, when I have some time, I'm going to take a deep breath and take my level 25 Druid to . . . Deadmines!!  (One which she will be on the upper end of the scale and so may possibly have the leeway to make a mistake or two while learning . . .)

Because when all is said and done, no matter the role, I still do like the Druid best.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Herald of the Titans

"Now that is a title worth wearing!" I exclaimed amidst a jubilent group.

Saturday evening, some people from my guild, as well as a few of their friends, got together for an Algalon run.  To be honest, as we now usually wear gear two tiers or so above that level, it was considered a farming run for those who still regularly ran in Ulduar.  As a matter of fact, I was the lone person without the achievement in the group.  So for them, just gathering together to defeat Algalon would be no big deal.

But this run was special.  None of the gear we wore was to have an item level higher than 226, except for weapons, which could be 232.  As I had happened to save my Ulduar staff and my tier 8 gear, as well as my trinkets and idol from that time, all I had to do to prepare was pick up some gear readily available with badges, which I had aplenty.  This meant that none of us would have the advantage of outgearing the instance in which we would be facing the Heroic Boss.

To complicate the issue, Algalon is a boss with a deadline:  a raid may only attempt to defeat him for one hour from the time the encounter is first started.  (On the bright side, this meant we knew we would not be wiping on him all evening.)

I will not go into the minutae of the fight or the strategies involved.  It is simple enough to look them up and read:  Algalon the Observer Boss Strat .  But I will say that we wiped.  And we wiped.  We kept getting close to defeating the boss--very close indeed--but we continued to wipe.

Finally it came down to the wire:  we had time for only one more pull.

The encounter went well.  The raid members moved to minimize damage, and no large mistakes were made.  Everyone phased in and out of the "alternate universe" correctly, following the established strategy.  The Moonkin Druid took down the adds correctly, and the tanks taunted at appropriate intervals.

Finally, in phase 3 of the encounter, our Cat Druid (Neph) died.  We knew we would need all the dps we could muster for this encounter, and so the raid leader asked me to battle rez her, which I did.  Shortly after that, things went crazy.  Both our tanks suddenly died, and with our eyes partly glued to the tiny amount of health on the boss' life bar, the rest of us frantically worked to complete the encounter.  Then, to our dismay, it looked as though we had hit the enrage timer, and we all dropped . . . but so did a reward chest . . . and the achievement "Herald of the Titans" flashed across our screen.

In bewilderment, we saw Neph standing there, very much alive.  We realized that at some point, she must have been sent to the opposite phase, and as we were dying, enough of the boss' health was depleted to complete the encounter.  (This boss doesn't actually die . . .)  And then Neph phased back, giving us the one person alive at the end of the encounter to make it count.

Words cannot describe the adrenaline rush and the elation felt by the entire raid, as pandemonium reigned (or as much as pandemonium can reign when there are only 10 people involved).  I'm not sure how much the people in guild chat understood the rather disjointed snippets we typed, but I'm sure they all understood one thing:  we were bouncing off the walls.

Interestingly enough, although I like collecting titles, I don't frequently wear them. But this title is one worth wearing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Blind, Deaf, and Dumb

Healing is an adventure--one that I really do love. There are always challenges, and no situation is ever the same. And healers generally know when they've messed up. It happens. We don't like it. Our whole purpose is to keep people alive, and we hate to see them die.

But there are times when I just want to wring someone's neck.

First, the blind. These are the people who do not notice they are out of range or who think that as long as they are in range of one healer, they are well and good. What they don't know is that their chances of survival increase dramatically when they are in range of more than one healer--preferably as many as the encounter will support, given space requirements. Perhaps the healer close to them is assigned a particular task. Or some encounters may include some sort of spike damage which may be difficult for a particular healing class to heal. Or some encounters will take a person "out of action" for a while, requiring the other healers to cover for him until 7 seconds or so later, he can be back in the game. When the blind die, they counter arguments that they were out of range with, "But one healer was right next to me!"

Second, the deaf. These are the people who refuse to listen to the raid leader and so end up dying to Cleave . . . or running straight into the fire . . . or not assisting when someone runs by them, kiting something which needs to be killed . . . all because they were listening to their music or their TV or whatever. Sorry, folks, we can't help you stay alive in spite of yourselves.

Third, the dumb. And, no, in this case, I do not mean those who have no voice. Sometimes the dumb speak very loudly, indeed, but when they speak, they prove they know nothing about healing and grate on the nerves of the healers within the sound of their words. These are the ones who claim that the healers were sitting around waiting for cabana boys to bring them drinks or something, because so-and-so was within range of all the healers within 2 seconds and could have easily been healed. First, 2 seconds can be a lifetime when it comes to healing, especially in certain encounters with built-in timers on debuffs. Second, when the healers, themselves, who know this person needs healing, have been frantically trying to find the person and been unable to do so, they are in a better position to say how long this person was within range. It's worse then the dumb actually argue directly with the healers who are trying to correct them not only on specific facts but on general healing principles in an encounter.

Ah, well. The blind, deaf, and dumb will always be with us, and they are a part of the hazards of choosing to be a healer. They will continue to remain blind, deaf, and dumb, no matter what I can do, so it's not worth getting all upset.