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 . . . ;)

Friday, September 24, 2010


Nope, I'm not going to talk about Druid stats.  I mean blog stats.

Recently, Blogger added a Stats feature, which was something about which I had been curious for a while.  I knew a few people occasionally read in this blog, because they would mention things to me about posts I had written, but still, I wondered.

So now, every day, I can't help myself:  I check the stats.  I check the numbers of views, which pages were viewed, and what browsers were used to view them (not that that really matters for my purposes, however, because I'm not doing any special programming for different browsers).

One stat which has been very interesting for me has been where the viewers are located.  Most of the views come from the United States or Canada, which is as I would expect.  I do not publicize my blog, so most people finding it are coming from a single source (The stats bear that out, too!) and most of the people who access that source are in the US or Canada. But in its lifetime, there have been views from China, France, Australia, and so forth.  In the last week or so, three new countries were added:  Sweden, Denmark, and Brazil!

I know it's silly to be so excited to see another country on my stat list.  I guess it's sort of like the old-time HAM radio operators, who would try to see how far they could make contact on their radios (remember Contact? I love that film!) or like my father, who as a child, would dial through a short-wave radio to see how many stations he could get in other countries.  (He lived in southern New Mexico, so he was able to receive signals from several Latin American countries.)

For whatever reason, it makes me giggle just a little.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking it Seriously

Not too long ago, a warrior tank posted on the Druid forums, asking Resto Druids to please just heal and not try to dps in an instance.  He said that if he was in a random with a Resto Druid who was dpsing, he would vote to kick.

Fine.  Kick me.  Just because I am healing in caster form does not mean I am not taking my healing job seriously.

At the current time, and in my current gear, I can usually hold up a random Heroic with minimal effort.  If the tank is T9 or better geared, I can almost hold up the Heroic asleep.  It gets really, really boring sitting there in Tree of Life form, tossing a Rejuvenation only when the previous one has worn off the tank or when a dps does something silly and pulls one of the adds.  (This is the only sort of circumstance where I can chat while healing, actually.)  There are almost times when I wish someone would do something dumb, so I could wake up and save the day.  (Woot! Swiftmend!)

So to combat this tedium, I usually heal Heroics in Night Elf form, so I can toss Faerie Fires, Moonfires, or Wrath.  If we've pulled a pack and the tank has a stack of HoTs, I'll channel Hurricane.  If, for some reason, I find myself tanking an add, or if the group is undergeared and requires full-time healing (Hooray! A challenge!), I will shift into Tree of Life form.

Most of the time, nobody bats an eyelid when they see me in Night Elf form, especially when they see I've got a Val'anyr.  But every so often, someone will comment.



"Why no tree form?"

"No need."

"Oh."  (If they were typing everything, they would have typed /blink.)

"And this way, I can throw out the occasional dps, as well."

I can almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they process this idea.

If I ever find a tank in a random Heroic deciding to kick me because I was tossing a Hurricane, while he and the entire group were at full health, I will happily put his name on Ignore.  After all, I do not care to play with people who do not want to play with me.

Postscript:  Official guild ICC 25 raids are a different matter.  Even in trash, there is usually a lot of healing to do, so I'm never bored enough to feel the need to dps.  The only times I end up dpsing there are if we have been very sloppy, we're verging on a wipe, and we just need to zerg down the boss another two percent or so . . . or we've all just been resurrected on the Lich King fight, of course . . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Baby's Druid

Yesterday, I was sitting at my computer, staring at . . . whatever it was I was staring at, when my 12-yr-old daughter came and said, "Mom, will you teach me how to use those things you use when you heal?"

I looked up.  "You mean Grid and Clique?"

When I first returned to healing in Burning Crusade, I had never really heard of healing addons.  But I noticed pretty quickly that I was not keeping up with some of the other healers.  One day, I asked our most senior Resto Druid (who also happened to be our raid leader) how he could heal so much.  He told me that he used Grid, which showed him when someone had aggro and was therefore going to need a heal, so he could cast a heal before they took much damage.

I was intrigued, so I did a little research.  I learned there was a spiffy addon called Clique, which would allow for one-touch targeting and healing, so to speak.  I downloaded Grid and Clique and went through the pain and agony (ok, not quite, but you know what I mean) of configuring Grid to display what I wanted, how I wanted.  Clique was much easier to configure, as all it involved was, basically, clicking on the spell I wanted bound to a mouse key or key combination.

I practiced on the battlegrounds (lots of opportunity to heal in a short amount of time) until I felt comfortable, then I started using it in raids.  And--oh, boy--it sure made a difference.

So when my daughter asked me about healing, I knew there was only one thing to do:  download Grid and Clique to her machine.  (I also included GridStatusHots and GridIndicatorCornerText.  And, yes, I realize I could have downloaded Healbot or something, but I've never worked with it, so it would have taken me longer to set up and figure out.)  I did a basic configuration of Grid for her--she only has three healing spells as a level 20 Druid--and set up Clique.  Then I showed her how it all worked.  (She giggled when she saw the countdowns I had set up to show the remaining time on her Rejuvenation and Regrowth spells.)

"I suggest," I told her, "that you go find something to kill where you can practice healing yourself with these key clicks, so you can get used to them.  You want it to be automatic in a dungeon, where you don't have to think about which key is what."

She gave me this "Oh, Mom, I'm perfectly capable of managing" look (her eyes didn't roll, but I'm sure they were tempted), and I headed to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.

Shortly afterward, I looked her direction and there she was, in a dungeon, not even breaking a sweat.  She took it for granted they would successfully complete the dungeon to the extent that she did not even tell me when they killed the final boss. (Rather than bouncing into the kitchen, eyes shining, saying, "I did it! I did it!"  Nope . . . just all in a day's gaming . . .)

And thus we see once again that many times, the difference between failure and success is having the right tools . . . or maybe it's just natural genetic talent.  /wink

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Challenge Response

I'm not going to explain how this all came about.  Basically, it was a sort of internal challenge on my server forum.  (Started with some joker . . . ended with at least one other person making an attempt at poetry.)

Cheezy sonnet inc . . .

Private Victory

Come forth! Ye heroes fresh from yonder kill
And claim rewards still coveted abroad--
Announce with glory honor won with skill
And stand aloft while all the crowds applaud--

Or will they?  Will the jaded players laugh
Instead, to see you stand and shout with pride?
Will cries of "Srus Bzns" ring from half
The crowd, while others simply take in stride

The red in chat, the wide display of mounts
As you, rejoicing, take a vict'ry lap?
Is this the kind of thing which really counts
When others do not seem to care a scrap?

For if you seek your server to impress,
You may discover hollow's your success.
If someone responds that the poem is "sick," is it a compliment, or are they agreeing with me that it is cheezy?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Private Battle, Private Victory

Several months ago, a healer came into our raid who drove me crazy.  (Don't ask me his name; I'd have to look it up to remember it.)

This person was obsessed with meters.  This person was critical.  This person was impatient.  This person annoyed me with perpetual questions about this and that--not asking nicely, but demanding answers.  This person had a knack for being insulting without trying.  (Going to give him the benefit of the doubt here.)

In short, this person was not someone with whom I particularly enjoyed raiding.  But this person was a healer, so I had to deal with him.

On the bright side, dealing with a difficult person in-game is usually a lot simpler than dealing with a difficult person in real life.  After all, /ignore was created for a reason . . . but sometimes one is in a position where one really cannot ignore the difficult person.  (Such as when you are working together on a healing corps . . .)  But you can still scowl at your computer screen and say the stuff you know better than to type out in chat or say over Vent to that person.

I remember, one day when this person was in rare form, looking at his name in the chat window and saying to my computer screen, "I will outlast you."

I had advantages in this private battle.  I was already well-respected, with a certain amount of seniority.  I had a calm temperament, I knew how to control my typing fingers, and, most advantageous of all, I had patience.

It's sort of like my approach to ping-pong.  ("Huh? Ana?  Where did that come from?"  Hey, it's a game, isn't it?)  I have some skills, but I'm nowhere near anything which could be called "very good."  But I have a knack for being able to beat anyone in my extended family and most people I have met.  This is not because I have a killer spin shot or because I can slam the ball right at the edge of the table, while my opponent steps back, thinking it is missing.  (If I try that, it really does miss the table.)  This is because I have the patience to wait for my opponent to make a mistake.  I know that if I keep returning the ball, sooner or later my opponent will become impatient and do something dumb.  (Usually try to slam the ball right at the edge of the table . . .) And then I get points.

Well, after a while, my "opponent" in this battle got impatient.  I don't know if he thought we were not progressing quickly enough for him, if he decided the calm atmosphere in the healer chat channel was too boring, or if he became fed up with the game in general, but for whatever reason, he left.  I had won my own personal battle.  I had outlasted him.

The best part about this battle is that nobody else knew about it.  No arguments were started in healer chat.  Nobody had to sit in a corner in a huff.  My opponent did not even know a battle was in the works.  No drama happened at all, and the raid was not disrupted.

In essence, this was not a battle against the healer who so annoyed me as much as it was a battle against the flaws in my own nature.  But, after all, when dealing with difficult people, isn't that usually the truth?  I often tell my children, "You can't control what other people do; you can only control what you do."  (I use that when I remind them that no, nobody else "made" them get angry; they chose to become angry.)

Sometimes I still lose this kind of battle, but not usually over the Internet.  As I said, it's a lot harder in real life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Deep Meditation

Today, I finally lost it.

After all my optimism, hope, and confidence that Blizzard would eventually balance Cataclysm Druid healing, I broke down and cried.  (Just a little.)

So many people have been saying for so long that things need to be changed.  When voices have been calling out and bringing numbers from the PTR to support their opinions, and nothing seems to be happening, it is hard to maintain a positive attitude toward the whole thing.

Crying was actually good; it was cathartic.  The bad part was that it was at work.  (At least the only person who saw me was my husband.)

So now what?  Well, it's time to regain calm, to refocus, and to TOTALLY IGNORE ANYTHING ANYONE IS SAYING ABOUT THE PTR until at least the Cataclysm release date is officially announced and patch 4.0 is staring us in the face.  (Then I'll madly read up on stuff so I can figure out how to properly assign my healers.)

So what would any Druid do in this situation?  Teleport: Moonglade, of course.  There, in the peace of Nighthaven or by the lake below, a Druid can regain her calm by meditating beneath the trees or communing with her fellow Druids, who will point out that eventually they will all be going to the Emerald Dream, anyway, and no longer have to deal with patches, developer nerfs, or dps who claim they died because the healers were sitting on their hands.

Putting things into perspective makes everything clear.  Ooooooohmmmmmm.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Games in My History

I was around for Pong.  No, my family did not have an Atari, but our neighbors did, and we thought it was really, really neat.

What my family did have was a PC.  In those days, that was pretty rare.  My father built his first one--a Heathkit H8--when I was in 6th grade.  Although that one was useless for kids, we thought it was very exotic to have one in our home at all.  (Oooooh, computers!  It was like something out of science fiction!  Incidentally, I was one of only a very few kids in my high school who was turning in word processed papers.  My teachers hated them, because our dot matrix printer did not make letters such as g or j hang below the other letters . . .)

By the time I was in high school, my dad was downloading software from whatever network he was accessing at the time (he was in the military--remember, kids, at that time, people did not have Internet access in their homes) and bringing it home to our newer computer system.  Among the stuff he brought home were some games.

One game we played was "Adventure."  The game was played in one- or two-word intervals, with no graphics. "Go north." "Go west." "Get bucket."  You get the idea.  The object was to find treasure and bring it back home. Every so often a dwarf (I think) would appear and steal your treasure, if you were unlucky. (Nothing you could do about it.)

I saw a magazine cover once which had an artist's depiction of all the places you could explore and the treasures you could find in this game, but my sisters and I didn't get very far.  We did manage to get to a room where a dragon sat on an Oriental rug.  We typed, "Kill dragon," and the computer responded, "With what? Your bare hands?"  We were stumped for days.  Finally, one of my sisters responded, "Yes."  The computer came back with, "You have killed a dragon with your bare hands."  I think that was as far as we got in the game.

The biggest challenge in that game was figuring out the accepted vocabulary.  So many times, my sisters and I would beat our heads against the desk as the computer responded over and over that it did not know that word.  We would also have to keep a hand-drawn map on the desk, so we would not get lost or confused as we explored the labyrinth.  And, of course, that dratted dwarf would steal our treasure and make us want to punch the game developers or something.

I played Snake for hours, which was a game controlled only by the left and right arrows.  The graphics were made up of letters and such.  Within a box, you controlled a snake, which grew as time went on.  Food (rectangles) would appear in random locations, and you would need to run your snake to the food.  The goal was to see how many rectangles you could "eat" before you got yourself into such a mess that you hit the box or your own snake's body.  (Not as easy as it seems, with food appearing randomly and your snake perpetually growing . . .)

I do not remember my Snake record, but I do remember my mom becoming worried that I spent too much time on it.  "But, Mom," I told her, "I'm improving my hand-eye coordination."  That didn't work.  She told me that for at least one of my sisters, she would think it beneficial, but not for me, as I already had excellent hand-eye coordination.

When I left for college, I pretty much left games behind.  (Of course, most of us didn't have computers . . .) When I got my very own computer my junior year, I had other things to do on it than play games, which weren't easily accessible, anyway.  (Much word processing . . .)

It wasn't until I had been married for a few years (and was <*gasp*> using Windows) before I found another game to play.  Despite my husband playing various computer games, I didn't play anything but the Myst series.  I enjoyed the puzzle aspect, although I sometimes did have to keep my own maps, much like Adventure, and sometimes I found myself beating my head against my desk . . . much like Adventure.  But there was no hurry, nothing was trying to kill me, and the pictures were pretty.

My husband got me involved in Dark Age of Camelot in 2002.  I had been upset with him because he was taking so much time playing "that stupid game", so he decided the best way to cure the situation was to teach me how to play it.  I wasn't very excited, but I did it.  I found I did enjoy playing, but there was concern about potential addiction in that I became very attached to my character.  (I remember a feeling of panic one day when I realized that because I was playing on an account actually owned by my brother-in-law, he could delete my character if he was feeling spiteful. He didn't, but I didn't like the feeling that he had power over me in that fashion.)  However, I hated grinding, and in DAOC, there was a lot of grinding.  I quit after my character reached level 20.

My husband also got me involved in World of Warcraft, but this time, I had my own account.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

I've seen people whose gaming history is long and varied.  (Or long and not-so-varied, as many games seem to be repeats of others, just in a different time or place . . .)  Looking at it, my gaming history is pretty limited.  But that is all right with me.  After all, I have other things to do.

Postscript:  For giggles, I looked up Adventure, and the article mentioned Wumpus.  That dinged bells in my head. I vaguely remember "Hunt the Wumpus," but I think my sister played it more than I did.  Made me laugh, though.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Priestly Adventures

Back on Warsong, in Vanilla, I made a priest character, just to try it out.

After a few levels of agony, I decided that it wasn’t worth the pain, and she became relegated to auctioning. Her whole life was running back and forth between the bank, the mailbox, and the auction house.

Since then, all my auction characters have been priests. Most of them share the same name: Kaminoko, which means “Child of God” in Japanese. (I figured that was appropriate for a priest.) My auction character on Alliance-side Gorgonnash is no different.

This weekend, for giggles, I pulled out my Gorgonnash Kaminoko and gave her some play time. To my amazement, I actually had fun. You have to remember, however, that the leveling situation has changed since the time I was beating my head against my keyboard on Warsong. The random dungeon system was not in place, so groups had to be laboriously found or put together. It didn’t help that I was painfully shy and scared to death of letting people down. (It also didn’t help that a good percentage of Warsong spoke Portuguese.) Consequentially, I did a lot of soloing, which is not where a priest shines. In addition, my first Kaminoko was not decked out in heirloom gear, cast off from my mage.

I quested her from level 9, where she was, to level 16, which is the point at which I thought I might possibly be able to tackle healing an instance. (Having “Heal” is a big help . . .) Then, with a certain amount of trepidation, I hit the “Random Dungeon” key. Almost immediately, a big fiery scene flooded my screen, and I found myself at the entrance of Ragefire Chasm.

Recollecting my wits, I remembered to buff everyone with PW: Fortitude. (OK, first hurdle passed . . . I remembered to buff.) What next? Oh, yeah—PW: Shield the tank. Done.

Interestingly enough, I found that the first few pulls required nothing but PW: Shield. Hmmm . . . Our resident Disc priest, Fanthisa, wasn’t kidding when he talked about how useful this was . . . I’m sure it helped that the tank was actually holding the aggro, instead of having multiple people in the group taking damage. (Heirloom gear also helped, despite it being dps gear, instead of the more ideal stats for healers.  At least nobody asked me dumb questions about it, as they asked one of the tanks . . . “Um, tank, why are you wearing those shoulders?” “I want the extra xp . . .” “Nice spellpower.”) I found that I had only one moment of mild panic, when the tank pulled a lot of trash at the same time, but we lived. And when you’re a healer, everyone living is called success.

Excited to have actually completed an instance on this baby priest, I queued again. And again. Twice more I got Ragefire Chasm. By the time I was finished with the third go-round, I had managed to get blue bracers (they dropped every time), and my Satchel of Useful Goods (or whatever it is called) had given me a blue belt . . . three times. I was feeling pretty comfortable with the situation and had gained a level. (Woohoo! 17!)

A couple days later, I had about two hours and so decided to queue Kaminoko for another random. After all, Ragefire Chasm had been quick, and I could manage one or two of those in my schedule, including queue times. But when the random came, it wasn’t Ragefire Chasm. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the graphic for Wailing Caverns.

I remembered Wailing Caverns, not from running through it with any low-level characters, but from running through it with my 80 Druid, trying to get the achievement. I got sooooo lost. I knew the place was large and confusing, and it had poisons involved. (Not that my Druid had cared. She can abolish poisons, but even more so, she was killing things with her Thorns when she had gone through . . . running into the walls, trying to figure out where all these people were she was supposed to be Moonfiring . . .)

But, hey, I was there for the xp and the giggles, right? How hard could it be?

First tank couldn’t keep aggro to save his life. And so we lost ours. That’s about when I remembered I had a Fade button. Lesson 1 learned. (Not going to go into the difficulty we had trying to find the entrance to the instance . . . one person actually got kicked from the group because he couldn’t get back in . . .)

Then the first tank, who had been getting comments from the dps about tanking right, left after pulling a group out of spite, leaving the paladin desperately trying to tank the trash . . . and I was put to sleep. We died. That’s when I remembered that, as a human, I have “Every Man For Himself.” (It works on that; I tried it the next time around.) Lesson 2 learned.

Second tank made it through one pull, I think, before deciding he didn’t want to be there. One of the dps changed out.

Third tank was a paladin, and he did pretty well . . . pretty well until one of the mages decided to be careless in his footsteps and pulled a bunch of extra trash with him on his way, that is. Yep, you guessed it—the tank died, and two mages, a warlock, and I just could not tank all that trash.

By that time, I needed to get on with real life responsibilities, so I excused myself and called it a day.

It’s a different style of healing, but not too altogether foreign to a Druid healer, so far. I can look on PW: Shield as a sort of HoT (in a way, it is, only it’s absorbing damage over time, instead of actually ticking heals over time), and Renew is definitely a HoT. And then Lesser Heal and Heal are direct healing, much as our Nourish at level 80 or even the direct healing portion of Regrowth. Soooo . . . stack HoTs, direct heal as necessary, sort of . . . The main difference at this point is that mana is much more of an issue at a lower level, so the only HoT I use pre-emptively is the shield on the tank, and to be honest, it makes no sense to throw a Renew on a shielded tank unless he has a health deficit already.  It can tick all the way through before the shield wears off, depending on what he is doing.

Sooooo, what do I still need to learn? I’ve been told that warrior tanks hate bubbles, because it makes it difficult for them to gain rage. But that very first tank was a warrior, and he had no trouble holding aggro, despite my bubbles.  The bubbles are just too effective and my mana pool is just too small to forego using them, but maybe I can hold off on that bubble for a few seconds. Other thing I need to learn is how to make Grid show my PW: Shield, so I know when it wears off the tank. I had to keep the tank targeted, so I could see when it wore off, and it was a bit of a pain having to keep glancing to the top of my screen. Maybe I’ll bug Fanthisa about this tonight when we have our official 25-man raids.

Of course, I may find that Fan laughs at me and tells me I'm doing it wrong . . . :P  Oh, well, it's still a learning curve at this point.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Into the Nether

This week, our raid suffered a loss.  One of our raid leaders, on a Warlock main, decided it was time to retire from the game.

To be honest, I had known he was looking at taking a break for a while and was biding his time until the other raid leader came back from vacation.  His real life was taking a toll on his health and his enjoyment of the game, and he was continuing mostly because he wanted to help guildies reach their achievement goals.  Last weekend, many of them did, and he was satisfied that his obligation there had been met.

He joined Tempest almost exactly two years ago, shortly before Wrath of the Lich King was released.  He showed signs of leadership by organizing 10-man runs in Wrath and eventually became an officer and raid leader.

It wasn't always rosy.  His personality rubbed some people the wrong way, but people change as they move through time and relationships, and things improved.  By the time he decided it was time to leave, he had earned much respect in quarters where there had previously been disapproval.

We wish him good luck, low stress, and much happiness.