Monday, October 24, 2011

The Last Hoorah

My subscription ran out early Friday morning.  Although I hadn't normally been logging on for fishing during raid time (on purpose), as Thursday evening was my last night, I went ahead and quietly snuck in on my priest alt.  The raid was getting ready to face Ragnaros (regular--they've only got Shannox down on Heroic, so far), and they were down two people, so the officers asked if I would like to tag along, one last time.

Would I?!  I decided Anachan could wake up long enough to see Ragnaros fall.

It was wonderful to see everyone again.  One member of the raid whispered to see if I was the "real Anachan", asking a question for which he knew only I would know the answer.  (It referred to a previous conversation, pertaining to food and my kids.)  The healers told me they had gone down in civility since my departure, but reassured me they would be nice while I was there.  The guild master announced this would be my last time, so we should commemorate it with no wipes.  I had to grin.

Because I was sitting on a bunch of fish feasts and a few cauldrons, I went ahead and dropped them.  (Too bad these things are soulbound, or I would have handed a lot more fish feasts to someone.)

And you know what?  There were no wipes.  We cleared the trash and Ragnaros fell without any real issues.  It was cathartic.

I will miss raiding and playing with everyone, but finally I am reasonably at peace.

Moonglade, T8, Val'anyr, Sentimental Trinkets, Moonkin Hatchling . . . Time to sleep.
I may be revealing way too much about my inner psyche if I confess I actually purchased a ring as a memorial to Anachan.  It is silver, like her eyes (truthfully, I picked up silver because I have allergic reactions to low-carat gold), with a created emerald, for the Emerald Dream.  Flanking the emerald are leaves in Black Hills Gold, appropriate to both her race and her role.  I wear it often, and it makes me smile.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Migrating

With a change in a season of life frequently comes a migration of some sort or another.  In my case, as I change from a WoW player to a non-player, I am now migrating blogs.

I have loved blogging these last two years, whether I had one or three or fifteen people reading on a daily basis.  (As I mentioned once to my fellow-officers, I obviously like to hear myself talk . . .)  But without the continued contact of playing the game, it makes no sense for me to try to maintain a blog based on WoW.  I knew I would have to find something else to focus on and muse about and inspire bits and pieces and anecdotes.

My husband, actually, came up with the best idea.  "You're making all these breads from around the world," he said.  "Why don't you blog about your bread?"

I thought about it.  Blogging about bread?  It reminded me of the synopsis of the movie he keeps wanting me to watch, "Julie and Julia", about a woman who decides to make every recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", in an effort to "find herself".  Might not my bread explorations be considered something similar?  I put the idea away in the back of my mind.

But I couldn't help returning to it.  Finally, I approached my husband.  "What do you think of 'Around the World In 80 Breads?'"  I asked him.  He liked it.

The next time I made bread, which happened to be cinnamon rolls, I took my camera into the kitchen.  It meant things went a little more slowly, because I was busy trying to juggle adding ingredients with camera shots or having to wash the flour off my hands between steps in order to snap a picture.  But by the time I was finished, I had a fair amount of pictures, photo-journalling my experience with my sister's cinnamon roll recipe.

It was kind of fun.  (Even my daughters, who looked at me taking pictures with odd expressions on their faces, thought it was kind of fun.)

I think I'm going to like this new blog.  I love good bread, and I was already trying to explore the world through bread, so why not document and write about my adventures and experiences?

I know the audience will be different.  I suspect only one person in my guild will have any interest at all, and he is a far better chef/baker than I am.  (Who knows?  Some of them may surprise me.)  But, unlike my WoW blog, this will be one which may have more universal interest.  I can share it with my extended family and my real life acquaintances, as well as others I have known for years on forums.

So now it's time for me to crack my knuckles, take a deep breath, and dive into yet another exciting bread recipe!  I'll write about it after I've watched my husband's eyes roll up in delight as he tastes the newest creation.  (It's good to have someone who appreciates one's efforts, lol . . .)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Screenshots and Smiles

So I had three days of constant tears, then another four or so when I unexpectedly burst out in tears at least once a day.  There were times when I wanted to log on, but I didn't think I really could.  It's odd not being part of the group.  I may pop on a little this weekend, on my fishing alt . . . after all, someone has to help keep the guild in fish, and my time hasn't run out.  Might as well spend it in serving some useful purpose.

(On the bright side, when I saw the new application from an elitist high school student on the guild website, after I got done unwrinkling my face in pained amazement, the thought crossed my mind, "Oh, boy, I'm glad I don't have to deal with this person.")

One thing I have really enjoyed (found comforting? helped me through the mourning process?) the last few days has been going over my screenshots.  I don't have a lot of them, really, and what I have is Wrath and beyond, pretty much.  The kids inherited my old computer, which just died, so I can't access my older ones on their hard drive until we get that hand-me-down computer which has been offered us.

But, oh, such fun to see old names and faces and to laugh at the memories of the little things . . . Like the time I solo-healed Beasts . . . Granted, I was in ToC heroic gear with possibly a couple of ICC pieces at the time, if I recall correctly . . .

Some guildies wanted to put together a 10-man ToC alt run one weekend and asked if I'd come along to help heal.  I had nothing else going on, so I joined the raid and prepared for a fun evening.  (Remember, Druid healing in Wrath was actually a lot of fun.)  The ready check passed, the tank pulled, and off we went.

As the encounter proceeded, I realized I was having to work a lot harder on the healing than I expected.  It was mildly disturbing, watching life bars hovering around mid-health, frantically trying to spread the healing around so people would stay alive, and wondering what was wrong with me, as I was used to healing quickly, but being able to keep people reasonably topped.  (Especially with this kind of a gear disparity . . .)

Somewhere along the encounter, I turned on my Recount and realized the 2nd person on the healing meters was the Ret Pally (or was he tanking in this encounter . . . I don't remember).

In choppy chat, I managed to ask if I was the only one healing.  There was laughter as people realized I was, indeed, the only one healing.


We successfully completed the encounter, which certainly gave me a run for my money (and my mana).  It felt good, though, to have met and conquered the challenge, made all the more challenging for its unexpected nature.

One of the guildies leading the raid apologized and said she really had thought she'd picked up another healer.  (Then asked the elemental shammy if he wouldn't mind going into his healing off-spec.)  We all had a good laugh about the incident and continued on in a slightly more relaxed fashion.

My screenshot shows the final healing meters from the encounter, as well as the laughing chat from the group.



I have some portrait screenshots, including one in Ulduar with another Resto Druid with whom I healed a lot until real life took him away from the game.  (As a bonus, it also includes my husband's hunter's pet, during the brief time he raided with us.)  There's a portrait of myself and the last other remaining Tempest Herald of the Titans title-bearer, after the others had server-transferred, before he, too, left for real life concerns.  There is a casual portrait of a few of the guild members in ICC, while we wait for . . . something . . . I'm not sure what.

The last two Heralds in the guild.
You can tell my husband and I have children, or, at least, we watch children's movies.  ;)


Casual "family portrait"

And then there is the upward-angled picture of the guild falling slowly into Anub'arak's lair, after we've all been Levitated . . . And the one of our very first Val'anyr proc ever.  (One of the rogues asked if I would proc it by healing him--he wanted to be the first one on whom it proc'd.  So I did.)  There is the parade of consecutively-numbered gnomes following our guild leader, Namelessone, around Dalaran--a plot engineered by one of the officers and brought to pass by several guildies.  There is the screenshot of one of our first Blood Queen kills in ICC, with only one of the tanks alive, and others, as well, with only one or two raiders left alive--the victories which almost didn't happen.


Falling . . . or Levitating?

First Val'anyr Proc Ever!
Overwhelming!
Fransham solos Blood Queen!  Pally tank power!
There are screenshots dealing primarily with things said in chat, everything from reminisces of a mispull in the Teron Gorefiend encounter to the sneakily triumphant chess victory by our guild chessmaster over someone who thought he could beat him.  (He sacrificed his queen--telling me beforehand he was going to do it--because he could and still win the game.  It made his opponent feel victorious, until he was checkmated.)


Yes, the name of the historic Druid chat channel is a carefully guarded secret.  ;)  And I did actually write that blog.


Let's face it--as our MT said, "Vit's pretty much unbeatable for us mere mortals." (I'm on my priest alt, Kaminoko.)

Good memories of good times.  Makes me wish I had taken more screenshots.

Come to think of it, every day my kids are growing and changing, and I should take more screenshots.  Brb while I get the battery charged.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of the Road

A few weeks ago, my very first raid leader in Tempest commented he had seen more friends leave the game in the previous few months than in the rest of his time in WoW.  The thought occurred to me that all of us knew we would one day be that person.  We all would one day leave the game, for whatever reason.  In the back of my mind was the fact I had already declared Cataclysm would be my last expansion.

There were a few reasons for this.  One, I don't like the expansion process, in general, as a raiding-focused player.  For those who cannot take a week off and level up as part of the vanguard of the guild, leveling and the subsequent gearing grind seems a long, lonely process.  I've done it three times now.  Two, Cataclysm has not been interesting enough to me to maintain the level of enthusiasm necessary to want to continue onward.  I'm not sure exactly why, but several other bloggers have touched on some elements which seem to resonate to one degree or another.  Something has snapped.

It got to the point where the only reason I was playing was for Tempest: to be with my friends in the guild and to help ensure the progression of the raid.  After a while, with turnover due to one thing or another, things changed.  Some of the people I really enjoyed left the game or left raiding.  Others with whom I did not enjoy associating joined our group and wore on my patience.  It was sometimes difficult for us officers to either field the raid properly or keep a good balance, because of changes in the game and on the server which made it difficult to recruit sufficiently.  And not everyone was understanding about the difficulty or particularly helpful.  While I understand this is the lot of leaders everywhere, it became a struggle to maintain my calm and upbeat attitude at times.

And in the midst of these in-game changes, things were also changing at home. Two of my teenage daughters, one of whom is autistic, came home to homeschool, because of inadequacies in our local rural school district. (Ask me anything about the GED; I've done the research.)  One other teenage daughter just started high school, including extra-curricular volleyball and drama. And I just recently realized my youngest daughter, age 8, is showing unmistakable signs of being somewhere on the autism spectrum, which means, of course, more focused effort for me. (As it can run in families, that wouldn't be entirely out the realm of possibility. At least I know better how to handle it this time.)

It is not easy to manage a family of seven and a twelve-hour raiding schedule, while holding down a full-time job.  There is a certain amount of sacrifice which goes into it--perhaps sacrificing the quality of meals three nights a week, when I have limited time to cook between returning home and starting raid.  Perhaps it's more effort on my part to make sure kids have finished their homework before raid, or, in situations where that is not possible, juggling homework help with healing assignments.  Perhaps it's just living with the fact the bathroom didn't get cleaned that day, but will get cleaned the day after raid.  And then there are the times when one has to repeatedly reassure one's husband that the necessary tasks will be accomplished, despite the time taken for raid.  Life on those days becomes very hurried and sometimes harried.

I finally reached the point the other night when I realized I was done.  This was it.  It was time for Anachan to enter the Emerald Dream.

For the guild, it's a pretty good time for my exit.  We successfully downed Ragnaros before the nerf, and now, after the nerf, Heroics are looking pretty reasonable.  We have sufficient healers with excellent attendance to fill the needs of the raid and enough experience in Firelands by now they can most likely just assign themselves.  Good timing, indeed.

Looking back over the years, I can see there have been a lot of positive things which have happened during my WoW experience.
  • I've learned about economies, as well as taught my daughters, from our experiences with the in-game auction house. (When I tell them about supply and demand, or cornering the market, they understand, because they've seen it in action.)
  • I've been able to "meet" a lot of people from around the world and chat about everything from education to religion to dating advice.
  • I've had people with whom to speak when I had nobody else, living as I do in a very rural area.  In addition to our raiding, we shared casual fun and a lot of laughs over the years.  Some, I gladly count among my friends.
  • I've been a leader in my guild, working with the GM and other officers to create our "vision statement" and codify policies, as well as work with my healing team to organize and accomplish our goals.
  • I've exercised perseverance in achieving goals, both individual and with a team.
  • I've had moments of complete and all-consuming triumph and ecstasy, when the stars aligned and the players did everything just right, to finally see bosses fall or achievements accomplished.
  • I've had great fun with my blog and had the chance to hone my writing skills a little more. (New task:  find a focus on which to create another blog.)
  • I've increased my vocabulary to at least understand words such as "uber", "noob", "pwn", "ima", "leet", and other things I don't encounter in my outside life.  ;)
  • I've run in-game dungeons with my husband and daughters, teaching the girls more about teamwork and what can be accomplished if people communicate.
  • I dressed up as my character for Halloween one year, complete with long ears attached with spirit gum.
  • I was introduced to the world of machinima, WoW songs, and WoW parodies.  (And  of course, my daughters still run around singing various Oxhorn songs.  Lately, they've been singing his medley, or trying to, anyway.)
  • I had inspiration for poetry! (Not always very good, but still fun to write.)
  • And I won a Moonkin Hatchling in a song parody contest.

It's been a good run.

And now what?  Well, I have other hobbies, believe it or not.  I enjoy learning to bake new things, especially breads from around the world.  (My most recent one was a Norwegian cardamom braid.)  I have done various forms of needlework, from bobbin lace to embroidery to sewing (not my favorite) to knitting.  I can still write, although I will have to think of another passion to follow in my writing.  (Maybe this year, I'll finally participate in NaNoWriMo.)

I am unsure how to replace the socialization value.  I'm serious when I say I live in a rural area.  In real life, my only real local "friend" is my husband.  (It is a good thing he is a friend, lol!)  The reason we reactivated my account after moving here was because of my loneliness, to be honest.  My current work puts me in contact with several people, but my social relationship with them is only on the very superficial.  (We have little, really, in common, when you consider background, values, or interests.)  Somehow, I will need to figure out how to overcome this dilemma.  (If you see me talking to myself, you'll know what is going on . . . Oh, wait.  I talk to myself, anyway.  That's why I blog so much.)

I know I will mourn the loss of what used to be, because I always mourn when I have to give up something which means a lot to me.  Tears have been shed, and most likely, more will be shed before I am finished.  (Who am I kidding?  I cried myself to sleep the last three nights.)  But what I am mourning is not necessarily Firelands raiding.  What I really mourn is the loss of the intense passion with which I once enjoyed the game, and I mourn the loss of the almost daily presence of my long-time friends, my second family.  (We still have the forums and e-mail!  And I may pop into Stormwind every so often, if I can stand the pain of knowing I am now peripheral.)  I mourn the passing of the good times we had beforehand . . . Spending long hours in magical Ulduar, making lines of jumping Druid cats or sleeping bears, witnessing the redemption of Arthas after the fall of the Lich King, forming a circle to assign Yogg-Saron portal positions, dancing merrily through the PVP encounter in the Tournament, fulfilling achievements with the "Leet New Mexican Healing Team", standing on the log in the Archimonde encounter to avoid the fire, solo-healing the first wing of Naxx 10 while the other healer mixed up a smoothie, merrily bubbling as much of the raid as possible whenever Val'anyr proc'd, watching another Resto Druid discover all the ways he could kill himself off any ledge in the game, or hearing the silly jokes a certain warrior told which made everyone laugh or groan--but which somehow seemed the magic charm to make the next pull a kill.  Thinking of all these little things warms my heart and brings a smile to my face.

To all my WoW friends, especially those in Tempest, with whom I have played for almost three and a half years, I wish you well.  Show Deathwing who is boss.  Good luck in your leveling/questing/crafting/PVP/raiding, and have fun with your adventures in Azeroth.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We Knew It Was Coming

The nerf has arrived.  And I had to laugh.

Sure, we were expecting a nerf, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite this big.  Perhaps there would be a 10% reduction of boss health or damage.  Perhaps enrage timers would be lengthened or a particular ability would be changed.

But 15-25% reduction on health and damage for normal bosses?  Wow.

I was amused to see Alysrazor's tornadoes would be moving more slowly on normal difficulty.  Now that I know what I'm doing on that encounter, they do not scare me, but I know they were still a challenge for some people, especially those with slower connections.  Now that they've been slowed, we may have more of a challenge not catching up to them when we're following them, rather than worrying if they are catching up to us!  (No feathers, perhaps, or use feathers and stay in caster form . . .)  And, of course, anyone who does manage to fall to a tornado will most likely find themselves mercilessly teased . . .

I was also amused to see Wrath of Ragnaros in Stage 1 of the normal mode Ragnaros fight will only knock targets up, not back.  That really is rather funny.  While I understand how this does make the fight easier, as I have seen people knocked into void zones when the timing was wrong, the nerf ends up making it a minor annoyance, instead of a real obstacle to overcome.  To be honest, however, I don't think it was one of our larger obstacles.  Add control was a much larger issue.

Heroic bosses, aside from Ragnaros, have had their health and damage reduced by 15%.  Obviously, this will work to our advantage, as we're just starting out at the Heroic level.  (We pulled Shannox at Heroic level a few times, just to get the feel of it.)  The other features I mentioned above have been unchanged in Heroic, so people are still expected to exercise some forethought and skill when working their way through those fights.

It would have been nice to work on tackling the Heroic bosses pre-nerf, but at this point, we'll just have to be satisfied with knowing we downed Ragnaros in regular difficulty before the nerf.  Like it or not, the game moves on.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Firelord Has Fallen

We did it.

Last night, before the regularly-scheduled raid was halfway over, the Tempest 25-man raid defeated Ragnaros.  Before the deadline.  Before the nerf.  (Yes!!!  /happy dance)

It was sloppy.  I think there might have been four people left alive at the end, with crazy numbers of meteors rolling everywhere.  But in the end, Tempest stood victorious.

I'm in the pink dress closest to the reward chest.  :)
I was told we were the first 25-man raid on the server to defeat him, but I'm not sure that is true.  Wowprogress lists at least two other currently existing guilds' 25-man victories, but how it can distinguish between 10- and 25-man, given that there are no differences in achievements or loot, is beyond me.  It does not really matter, in the end.  What is sufficient to know is that in the midst of the forces in WoW which discourage 25-man raiding, and in the midst of the perceived decline of Gorgonnash, we persevered and we prevailed.

Take that, Firelord!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guess We've Got a Deadline

Back in Burning Crusade, word came out of a giant nerf to the raiding content not too many weeks before Wrath was due.  Tempest was still in Black Temple, staring Illidan square in the face.

We all felt it was a matter of pride to kill Illidan before that nerf, and we worked hard toward that goal.  But at the end of that Monday evening, Illidan was only "nearly dead".  It was a somber group which logged off that night, thinking if we had had one more night, he would have gone down.

The next week, he died fairly simply, but it was something of a bittersweet moment.  Sure, we finally had Illidan down, but knowing we could have done it pre-nerf with just a little more time removed some of the feeling of victory.

Now, we're in Firelands, still on normal modes, and we are staring Ragnaros in the face.  Our 10-man group which cleans up the lockouts has killed him at least twice, but in 25-man, he is still very much alive.  And once again, a nerf is scheduled.

We have one week--one week in which to kill him before everyone decides Firelands is trivial.

I'd rather not have a repeat of Illidan.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Herbing Relaxation

Last night, a guildie commented, "You know, herbing can be sort of relaxing."

It really can, especially in flight form; that's one reason I enjoy doing it.  It's kind of like WoW Zen.

And after the day I had yesterday, I needed relaxation . . .

It all started with the full moon.  As most parents or Sunday School teachers know, while our children are not werewolves, the full moon does something to them.  And yesterday was no different.  Church was an exercise in patience, reminding kids to be quiet, turning kids back around on the seat to sit facing forward, and rearranging seating when it became obvious that this sister was not going to be quiet sitting next to that sister.

I'm not sure if the full moon had anything to do with the 10-yr-old climbing a tree outside the church after the services in her dress, but I wouldn't be surprised.  (Who knows?  This is the one who was doing jumping jacks in front of a rattlesnake.)

The first I knew about the tree was when she came back inside the church, big tears in her eyes, and what could only be described as "tree rash" all on the underside of her arm.  The branch on which she had been standing had given way, and, while she had not completely tumbled to the ground, the effort to avoid this had cost her a certain amount of skin.  All I could do at the church building was wash out the dirt and bits of bark, waiting until we returned home to perform more extensive First Aid.

And then came the refrigerator . . .

I'd be prepared to accept that refrigerator performance has nothing to do with the full moon.  I'd even be more prepared to accept the idea that household appliances lie in wait to break until my husband is on a business trip which will last at least a week.  The evidence is in my favor on this point.

At any rate, after we got home and ate, things settled down a bit . . . Until my 13-yr-old approached me. "Mom, something is funny with this ice cube." "Oh?" (My girls like to take ice from the freezer and suck on it . . .) "Yea, when I reached in to get it, things felt wet, and it broke right away when I bit it." (You were biting ice? How many times . . . never mind . . .)

Sure enough, the freezer and refrigerator inside the house was not working. I conscripted the 13-yr-old and my injured 10-yr-old (now wearing large gauze bandages on her arm) to help me carry the contents to the garage refrigerator and the freezer, not before things thawed, but before they actually reached room temperature. (Sometimes, there are advantages to living in the sticks . . . like having multiple appliances . . .) Between tossing out the stuff which should have been tossed a while ago and keeping out the leftovers to use for supper, we managed to fit everything into the other refrigerator, but only barely. (I was threatening to throw out the flavorings for snow cones . . .)

At least we can be thankful that on two counts, complete disasters were avoided: the 10-yr-old didn't break a leg or something like that, and another refrigerator was available to store our food.

But that meant by the time I sat down to play, I was well and truly exhausted.  I stared at the screen.  Queue for an Heroic, to try to cap my Valor?  Why?  Not much more I need from Valor, to be honest.  I found myself just hovering above Stormwind in a sort of aimless daze.

What I needed was herbing.  I took a look at the gbank to figure out which herbs needed replenishment.  Cinderbloom . . . definitely cinderbloom.  (All those Volatile Elixirs do a number on our cinderbloom stock.)

I spent the next couple of hours flying around Twilight Highlands and Mount Hyjal in search of Cinderbloom.  By the end of the evening, I had several stacks of Cinderbloom, along with Stormvine, Twilight Violet, and assorted bits of Azshara's Veil, along with roughly 70 Volatile Life.

Between chatting and herbing, I hardly noticed the time flying by until I realized I'd better stop and sleep, or risk being unable to wake up in the morning.  It was a good end to a tough day.

Postscript:  My daughters and I did take the time in the middle of everything to remember 9/11 and to honor those who have fallen defending our freedoms.  Two of them were in a play last year centering on the events of 9/11, so they've heard my 9/11 story, as well as that of their father's.  They were two young to remember much, themselves, so we make a point to tell them the stories of that day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Intuition

Have you ever noticed that there are times when you just have a feeling something is going to happen, and it does?  Or when you think something, and for some reason, that thought just sticks in your mind as significant . . . and then you recall it later on when it turns out it actually was?

Silly little trivial example of this . . .

Last night, I spent some time on my baby Blood Elf priest.  As I ran around Ogrimmar on my way to the zeppelin station, this thought came clearly to my mind:

"Wow, this server must really be different.  I'm all the way to level 29, and not once has someone asked me to join their guild.  It's kind of refreshing."

Fifteen seconds later, someone asked if I would be interested in joining their guild.

Lol!!!!

I thanked him, but politely told him that I was not looking for a guild at that time.  Then I headed out to Northern Stranglethorn.

When I was about to quit for the evening, I decided to hearth out of the situation I found myself, instead of taking the time to fight my way through the raptors and trolls to safety.  After I started the cast, I left my computer to pull some bread out of the oven.  When I returned, I found myself safely in Ogrimmar, with pink text in my chat box.

Someone else had asked me if I was interested in a guild.

As I had no idea exactly when this person had asked, I decided to ignore it, play possum, pretend I was afk . . . And another whisper showed up.  "Interested in a level 14 guild?"

No, I really wasn't.  So I logged off.

It just seems really ironic that just after I noted the lack of guild invitations, whispers would suddenly start pouring in.

Unrelated side note:  I think I have a cactus spine in my knuckle, but I can't find it to remove it.  Looks like I'm going to have to let the body's natural defenses take care of this one, after whatever disinfecting I can manage.  Ugh.  It hurts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This and That

Overcoming Obstacles . . .

I finally did get my Blood Elf priest out of her dilemma, thanks to the fact players no longer have to grab all flight points from a capital city.  I noticed that Silverwind Refuge in Ashenvale was available, and, since I did have a quest to deliver something there, I skipped the area in which I had been agonizing over the tasks assigned there and flew on over.  It was rather nostalgic, as that area had previously been owned by the Night Elves.  (Didn't particularly like the tone of voice of the Orc cackling as he talked about how clever they had been to capture the area from the Night Elves, who thought they were so smart . . .)  In that area, the biggest concerns were furbolgs and water elementals, threats with which I could comfortably contend.

And while contending with those familiar threats, I dinged 25 and picked up the quest to take me to Northern Stranglethorn.  Yay!!  Back to annihilating tigers, raptors, and headhunters.

One of the difficulties about being a rerolled character on an established server is the cost of everything on the auction house.  When I first looked at picking up a glyph, it was 100 gold--my entire bankroll.  (My priest only had that much because I made her an herbalist.  Hey, if costs are outlandish, you'd better have something you can sell for said outlandish costs, or you'll never be able to buy anything.)  With a sigh, I put off glyph-buying and went my merry way.  Well, the other day, the glyph market was closer to what I had seen on Gorgonnash, and, as I had managed to accumulate about 170 gold on my priest by that point, I was able to pick up a few glyphs.

I think I am now confident enough in the abilities she has, coupled with her glyphs, that I might try to run an instance this weekend.

Swimming With the Fishes . . .

Ok, so technically, they are not fishes; they are mammals.

One of my younger sisters (I have seven) is an animal trainer at Sea World, San Antonio.  Recently, on the Sea World, SA, blog site, she was briefly featured in a video in which she swims with a beluga whale.  I would embed the video here, except it is unlisted . . . so the Blogger insertion tool won't work . . . and I don't know how to embed it myself.  /pout.  I tried . . . I really did . . . before finally giving up and just creating the above link.

Here is one from a couple of years ago which also shows off her Sea World skills . . . (They rotate the trainers through different tanks in the park year to year.)


At any rate, she has a lot of fun with the animals.  (Her real life is interesting and active enough to not need video games, lol . . . Her husband plays console games, but she's not really into them.)

To be honest, I don't want to swim with Shamu or even the belugas.  But I am proud of my little sister.  She has been the only one of us to really grab on to a dream and dare to follow it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Divided Loyalties

Recently, for the giggles of it, I've been playing a Blood Elf priest on a different server than my main every so often on weekends.  She's doing fine at level 23, except for one slight difficulty.

I like leveling in the Blood Elf lands, but one can only level up through about level 20 before being more or less forced to leave and expand one's horizons.  Accordingly, I accepted the call to duty in Hillsbrad Foothills and headed in that direction, grateful to not be an undead as I ran through their areas.

But when I got to Hillsbrad Foothills, I found nefarious schemes to grow spider eggs in the flesh of bears, then kill the bears and collect the eggs.  With bile in my throat, I completed these quests, thinking it would be over after that, and I would be back to animal control or crafting materials quests.  But after that, I found quests about which the questgivers displayed attitudes of devilish delight at the schemes in place.  And I found I simply could not bear to follow these quests.  How could I be a part of such things, which sickened my stomach?

No problem.  There is more than one place to quest, and I already had a quest to take me to Ogrimmar.

In Ogrimmar, I accepted the call to duty to Ashenvale.  But when I got to Ashenvale, I found the Horde busily fighting Night Elves.

Night Elves . . . . . . . my main is a Night Elf, and has been for six years . . . Every day, when I've logged on, I've seen and identified with purple hair and long ears.  This attacking army was my group, not some enemy.  (I had even skipped the quests in the Blood Elf lands which required mass killing Night Elves . . .)

I decided to try skipping the kill quest which required me to kill numbers of attacking Night Elves and pursue gathering arrows and wood and such, instead, killing only when attacked.

This worked to get me past that area, amazingly enough.  But the next area was also embroiled in war.  And in this one, there were a few more nefarious schemes.  Using the blood of the Night Elves to corrupt the wood of their sacred tree?  You've got to be kidding me . . . Even the Horde were calling it diabolical.

A co-worker who never really maxes out her characters, but tends to restart and replay early zones often, had told me she was disappointed with some of the new quest chains for leveling Horde.  Her reason?  It made the Horde seem evil.  I thought she was exaggerating, but today, I couldn't help but remember her comments.  You see, this is a difficulty I did not encounter when I was leveling my Blood Elf hunter, pre-Cataclysm.  But, obviously, the quests were different then.

So where can I quest now from level 23 which will not make me feel dirty or feel like I am killing my own family?

I know there will be people who think I am being completely and utterly silly about this.  "It's a game, already!" they'll holler at their computers.  Call it my overdeveloped sense of loyalty.  Call it my oddball sense of identifying too closely with my characters.  But for whatever reason, rational or irrational, to me, it is a problem.  I can't work with these people.

I'm beginning to think I'd better just run instances and gather herbs until I can make it past these zones and go to, say, Stranglethorn Vale, where all I have to do will be to slaughter helpless carnivores with sharp teeth who would gladly chew my bones if they could get hold of them.  Or is that still what happens in Stranglethorn Vale these days?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

With a Family As Weird As Mine Is . . .

. . . you never know exactly what will happen.

Yesterday, I unexpectedly had to go pick up my 9th grader from volleyball practice.  As our rural school is about 20 miles away, this would take some time.

My husband, knowing I would be gone during the time I would normally have been preparing dinner, and knowing I had not planned ahead for this event to happen during my limited time at home before raid, told me as I walked out the door, "I'll take care of food."

When I came home, I found in the kitchen my large stainless steel bowl with cleaned rattlesnake meat.

That wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  (My husband, of course, grinned and said, "I told you I'd take care of dinner!")

How it really happened:

My husband had gone back out to the garden and seen our 10-yr-old doing very fast jumping jacks like a wild woman, staring at the fence and repeating, "I'm big!  I'm big!"

As this is unusual behavior, even for our hyper 10-yr-old, he was very curious.

It turned out that alongside the fence was a rattlesnake.  The sharp-eyed 10-yr-old had seen it and, having heard somewhere that jumping around can make your heat signature appear much larger to a snake and thus discourage it from striking at you, was attempting to try out this theory.  (Instead of, say, backing away and finding her father.)  The snake was just sort of looking at her as if it was saying, "What kind of a nutcase is this?"

If it had chosen to slither away into the desert, it might have made it out of this situation alive, but as it was, it chose to head along the fence toward the yard.  That's when my husband, who is an excellent shot, popped it in the head with an air gun from 20 feet away, much to the delight of the girls.

Neither my husband nor the kids believe that something should be killed and thrown away when it can reasonably be eaten, so he cut off the head and rattle, skinned it out, and cleaned out the interior.  By the time I came home, the piece of meat had stopped trying to climb out of the bowl, but the idea of snake for dinner just didn't sit well with my appetite that night.

The conclusion to this saga is I didn't eat any for dinner, because my stomach just didn't feel right about it, although I'd had rattlesnake before this.  (I ate instead some of my homemade bread and hummus.)  I did, however, at my husband's request, prepare a batter for coating the rattlesnake for deep-frying.  My husband deep-fried the rattlesnake, which he and the kids had for dinner, along with slices of homemade bread, carrot sticks, fruit, and a sliced garden tomato.

Apparently, they enjoyed their deep-fried rattlesnake very much.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Raiding Less Fun? or What Everyone Else Is Saying

Lately, I've seen a lot of blogs showing up expressing the sentiment that raiding is less fun now.  I realize that in many cases, one blogger writing about it may start a cascade of blogs agreeing with their ideas, so that may have something to do with the reason there have been so many.

I think several of the bloggers have some good points, so, rather than sit here analyzing and rehashing everything they've said, I'll just link to their blog posts.

Herding Cats:  Why Is WoW Raiding Less Fun Now.

One of the things which struck me about this page was way down in the discussion which followed in the comment section.  Borsk brought out this point, which I thought was very well-stated: 
Many guilds didn’t finish Sunwell before 3.0, many didn’t finish Black Temple, and many more didn’t finish TIer 5. Blizzard focused on this and were upset that people “didn’t get to experience content.” That was a misread of the population. Many players, no matter the difficulty, will not finish a raid. What’s ironic is that their moves were to open up raiding…and it did, but they lost 900k subscribers.
WoW InsiderThe Overachiever: Why Icecrown Was Less Fun Than Sunwell

Although this one focuses primarily on Wrath versus Burning Crusade, the points are valid in Cataclysm, as well.

BorskedTap Out

This is a sad post, only because it's the death of 25-man raiding for a long-time guild.  Borsk examines the current trends and contributing factors which led to the guild's decision, including recruitment issues for the dying 25-man raid format and the effect Heroic mode raids have on morale.

Kurn's CornerWhy I Hate Heroic Modes 

Kurn references Borsk's "Tap Out" post in this examination of  . . . well, why Heroic Modes are not necessarily fun.  I could empathize with this quote, in reference to downing Heroic bosses: 
I still hate them and I do them because that’s what’s expected of me and because, by golly, I CAN do them. I try to view them as new fights and I get psyched to get them down, but it’s not the same as clearing an older instance. The pure elation I felt when we got Lady Vashj down for the first time or when Archimonde died, none of the experiences these days are comparable to that. My reaction, instead of “YAY, WE DID IT!!!” is usually “Oh thank God, it’s over,” and then I slump in my chair in relief. 
It seems kind of ironic.  My husband and some others think World of Warcraft is getting too easy.  Several of these bloggers think the raids are simply becoming too tedious, without a good, definable end goal.  And yet, back in Burning Crusade, the complaint was that the raids were inaccessible to a large percentage of the player population.  So where's the happy medium?  How do you make raids accessible to most of the players while giving the more dedicated players a challenge?

To be completely honest, the pure elation I felt when we downed Archimonde, or even Yogg-Saron or the Lich King, has never been matched in my reaction to downing any of the Firelands bosses to this point.  Whereas I used to come bouncing out from behind my desk to tell my husband excitedly we had downed a new boss, it's now something mentioned casually as I climb under the covers after brushing my teeth.  "We downed a new boss today."  "That's nice, dear."

Maybe I'll be elated when Ragnaros falls in 25-man.  But then again, maybe not.  Our vanguard group killed him in 10-man last night, which was the well-deserved culmination of a lot of hard work on their part.  But you see, he's now been killed by the guild.  We've all seen the Firelands Guild Run achievement flash across our screens.  Taking him down in 25-man is a repeat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Six Words

On our guild forums, we have a thread in which people can post six word statuses.  The idea comes from an NPR story I read a long time ago, which one of my friends posted on Facebook.

We had a lot of fun with it on our old forums, reaching 184 pages and 2748 posts.  Someone even put out a challenge once to write a six-word haiku, which you know I just had to take:

Indefinable
Something in Tempest raiders--
Indestructible.
 
So when our new forums went live, it was natural that someone would start it up there, as well.  It's a great way to express an emotion while still keeping it nebulous enough that people may not really understand exactly to what you are referring.  That said, sometimes people have misunderstood things from it, which has caused occasional consternation in one person or another.  (So sometimes you do have to be careful.)

This post contains six word statuses I thought about posting on our forum today, but decided not to do so.

Courtesy and maturity are elusive traits.

Trinket?  Only over my dead body.

Overall optimism seems so far away.

Country I love sliding so far.

Thankful for empathy from officer corps.
 And a couple especially for this blog:

Blogging can be emotional roller coaster.

Thank goodness for my Drafts folder.
What did I finally post?

Hard to homeschool high school children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Real Life Claims A Good One

It's always hard when someone who has been with the guild for a good amount of time leaves the raid.  There are shared memories, things to laugh over, bittersweet messages to send . . .

But this week, I will be saying good-bye to a healer who has been healing with me for two years.  This one will be hard.

This healer has been a reliable fixture in the raid since he started.  We could always count on him to not only know and understand his class (and every other healing class, for that matter), we could count on him to come to raids, perform well and keep people alive in spite of whatever they stepped in or forgot to do.  He was dedicated to the point where he froze ice packs in preparation for raid, so he could place his laptop on them, to prevent his graphics card from freaking out.  (As it was, he usually saw Sindragosa at about 3 fps . . . He finally got a new computer in T11.)

When I became healing officer and was afraid of what I didn't know, this is the healer who told me, "Don't worry, I'll help you learn the stuff."  He gently gave hints whenever I was confused or uncertain, helping me get a feel for things.  I still run ideas by him if I am unsure, just to hear him say, "Yep."

He sympathized when I had daughters driving me crazy, he checked to make sure I was all right if there were times I had to leave raid early because of an emergency, and he was always there to empathize when something in-game got frustrating.  He knows the side of me most raiders almost never get to see:  the side which gets cranky, annoyed, or irritated at something someone said and just wants to blow up for 5 seconds.

This healer is one of the two guildies I managed to meet in real life, part of the "Leet New Mexican Healing Team", as I termed it.

But, as we all know and hate to admit, Real Life comes first, and Real Life reared its ugly head.  He is still a student and this semester, his classes directly conflict with raid.  He'd managed to dodge the bullet last semester when his schedule required him to be a little late only one day a week.  But when he discovered this semester he would have to be absent two nights a week, he knew he would be unable to continue, in fairness to the raid.

I've known it was coming for more than a month, but even so, when he posted up his farewell post on our guild forum, it made me cry.  He'll still be around in the World of Warcraft, but I will really miss having him in the raids.

Good luck, Fan!  Get those A's and check in often.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vuhdo Configuration

I used to be a die-hard Grid+Clique healer.  And then came the patch day when Grid was not updated in time for raid.

To be honest, it was the second such patch day.  The first time, most of the healers were in a panic.  We had no idea how we were going to be able to do anything in the way of progression if we did not have the tools we were used to using.  So when the second time came around, I did not sit and wait for Grid.  Noticing Vuhdo had been updated that day, I downloaded it.

I was lucky enough to find a great blog (written in Troll, lol) which walked me through my initial configuration.  (The last time I tried to find that blog, the link was broken, so I do not know if it is still available to new Vuhdo users, or I'd gladly link to it.)  I managed to get everything I wanted configured in time for raid, while some other healers were still bemoaning the lack of a Grid update.

I recommended Vuhdo to a telecommuting co-worker, who had asked for advice to pass on to a friend starting a Druid.  Then, later on, she decided to start a Druid, herself, and asked for help in configuring Vuhdo for a Restoration Druid.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get together during her brief visit at the company location.

So I came up with another solution:  I made a page about it and e-mailed the link to her.

Vuhdo Configuration for a Resto Druid

As I said, I'm no expert, but this is what has worked for me.  It creates an interface which is "good enough" to operate decently as a raiding Resto Druid.

Creating the page has an additional benefit, for me:  I now have an on-line repository of the changes I made, so if I have to configure Vuhdo on an additional computer for my use, I can just look up my settings and go my merry way.  /smile

Monday, August 22, 2011

Barbie-crafting

Ages ago, I went on an Ulduar 10-man achievement run with some friends, led by a husband-wife team.  As we were all geared above the level of Ulduar, nobody really needed any of the gear that dropped.  However, rather than simply DEing everything, our raid leader would ask, "Does anyone want this for 'Barbie-crafting'?" 

I chuckled at the term, but it seemed very descriptive, especially now, with the announcement of Transmogrification.

At the time, I was amazed anyone would fill up valuable bank space with vanity gear, even though I knew our raid leader's wife was one such person.  One of her sources of amusement was to sit in a capital city, putting outfits together.  Then she'd whisper me, "Look how nicely this staff goes with this outfit!"  I'd go look, evaluate the aethetics, and comment, but I knew I couldn't join her in this kind of activity.  My bank space was at a premium already.

Rather than collect pieces just because they looked cool, it was all I could do to keep my tier, from tier 6 onward.  (Keeping my tier ended up being a good thing, when this husband-wife pair wanted to get a group together for Herald of the Titans.)  And now, several tiers later, despite having a nice large Herb bag and two characters who own gbanks bequeathed to me when this husband-wife team transferred servers, in which I keep most of my mats, my bank space is again at a premium.  So when I heard about void storage , my ears pricked up as they hadn't done for Transmogrification.  It would be nice to have a place to stash my tier, or for my sentimental items such as Memento of Tyrande.  (Or Val'anyr.  I'm never getting rid of that mace.)

So now that I can stop worrying about bag space and start using my imagination, I've been starting to ponder . . . if I could choose whatever look I wanted from the tier I have, what would I choose?  (Certainly not T12, ach, ptooey! Or T9 . . . gag . . . why don't I just throw out that set . . .)  What kind of "Barbie-crafting" would I end up with?

Personally, I think the one I would pick at this point is T8, in spite of the glowy orb shoulders.  Yes, we laughed at the "Sailor Moon" helm, but we wore and showed it.  It was fairly unobtrusive and allowed our hairstyles to show.  Another one I did like was T6 . . . for some reason, I like that helm, too, even though it didn't allow my hair to show . . . And T11 . . . well, who wouldn't like feathery blue shoulders?  (Don't bother with the helm--just keep whatever current one I have hidden . . .)

Sets aside, I wonder if I can persuade someone to make me up a Big Voodoo Robe . . . the one I loved wearing while leveling . . .

And I'm going to need to get the mace from Ragnaros, so I can carry Val'anyr forever . . .

Perhaps I could get into "Barbie-crafting", after all.

Edited:  Ok . . . so apparently I cannot carry Val'anyr forever . . . bummer . . . /moment of silence . . . Oh, well.  It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Too Easy?

My husband has, for a while now, complained that Blizzard has made WoW too easy.  He will grant that the end-game raids provide more of a challenge, but he still refers to them simply as "The Hokey-Pokey", instead of any sort of real strategic battle.

So when he heard our main tank posted in a bear rage about Blizzard's decision to hotfix threat to the point where it was not a real factor in raiding encounters, he just said, "See?  This confirms what I've said all along."

His contention is that Blizzard has been "dumbing down" the game--making it more accessible to people who just want to play and don't want a challenge.  The result, of course, is that many of those who do want a challenge are not finding the game to be fun anymore, my husband included.

A case in point is the time the other day when he logged on my baby Blood Elf hunter to check the settings on my graphics card.  She's decked out in heirlooms, although she hasn't been played in . . . just about forever.  He spec'd her and took her out for a spin, looking forward to the experience, as his first character was a hunter.  He was disappointed to see she was one-shotting mobs her own level and could handle five mobs her level, with a little skillful play.  (If it had been me on the keyboard, I would have died.)  It reinforced in his mind that the gameplay had become too easy.  (He's now preordered Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I hope he finds what he's looking for.)

It reminds me a little about a disagreement I had with my 4th daughter's 1st grade teacher.  I had homeschooled her through kindergarten, and since she was a sharp little cookie, I had run her almost all the way through 1st grade math, using the Singapore Math program, which focuses less on memorization and more on doing mental math through understanding how it works.  I had, as a matter of fact, started this little barely-6-yr-old on multiplication by this point, and she was doing well.  I was shocked, therefore, when I went to her first parent-teacher conference and found the teacher had assigned her entire worksheets of "plus zero" addition problems.

When I asked the teacher why she was giving her such easy work, the teacher replied she wanted to build up her self-esteem.  My daughter hadn't been able to run through timed addition worksheets very well (of course not--that wasn't the focus of the math curriculum I'd been using), and the teacher sensed she was discouraged.  I told the teacher as diplomatically as I could, which to be honest, takes much effort and still usually comes out sounding wrong, that self-esteem is not built by working through easy things.  Self-esteem comes from meeting and surpassing challenges.

It is the same with a game.  People might be able to accomplish easy quests or steamroll bosses, but that doesn't make them feel like they've truly accomplished anything.  Pride in one's ability and satisfaction in the game comes when the players face a challenge and somehow manage to succeed.  (Such as back in BC, when my husband joined a Karazhan group as a Holy Pally and they somehow managed to come up with strategies for the bosses, despite their less-than-ideal group make-up.  He still talks about that run.)  It's what gives gamers that "high" which keeps them coming back for more.

And this is why our tanks are upset.  They see this proposed change taking away a lot of their challenge.  In our bear's words, "You dps want to sit and epeen on your meters.  Same for tanks, we look at those meters and feel the accomplishement of 'holy crap, I held aggro off that!'"  They worry that the change will make their role in the fights mindless and boring.

According to Blizzard, the developers think the fight mechanics will still challenge tanks, who must be concerned with good positioning, tank switching, and so forth.  In addition, they are talking about adding more mitigation management tools to keep the tanks busy.  But I can understand the tanks' concern.  After all, as it is, they already have to worry about good positioning and tank switching, along with the mitigation management tools they have, but they have the added challenge of maintaining aggro on themselves.  They thrive on this kind of challenge.  It's what they signed up for when they chose to tank.

Who knows?  Perhaps the developers will change their minds.  Or perhaps they won't.  They've been tweaking the game play from the very beginning.  Not sure why we should be so surprised or get so upset now.  Either the players will adapt, or they will leave.  The recent statistics, however, do not bode well for Blizzard.

(Speaking of which, I need to cancel billing on my husband's account . . . The girls haven't been playing it lately.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fragility of Life

Thursday evening, I was late for raid.  I had to go to a school open house and athletics meeting, so I picked up pizza on the way home and made it back about a half hour into raid.  But when I got home, I was met by a surprise.

The evening had turned out very rainy--flash flood proportions--and the elderly gentleman who lived in the mountains behind the facility was at our house.  He had known he would be unable to make it past the creek while the flood continued, even in his all-wheel-drive vehicle, so my husband invited him to wait out the storm watching a movie in our living room.

Knowing that hostess duties trumped raid, I texted my GM the situation and got things ready for us to all sit down to pizza, followed by the chocolate cake my 15-yr-old had made while I had been gone.  We had a great time, with our neighbor talking about his small winery and ranch, and the kids discussing their school classes and activities.

When the dishes were done, the younger kids in bed, and the others settled down to continue their movie in the living room, I thought about logging on.  When I noticed the elderly gentleman had fallen asleep on the couch, I conferred with my husband and headed back to my computer room to join in the wipes on Ragnaros.

Late that evening, our neighbor did make it home, but not before he managed to get stuck in the creek, despite the lessened rain.  He hobbled out of his car about a quarter mile to where he could get cell signal and called my husband, who came in his 4-wheel-drive Jeep and took him home.

This morning, we heard our neighbor was killed last night in a car accident.  He had been going too fast on the rural highway, which is tempting to do, and he had not successfully navigated a curve.  Without his seatbelt, he was thrown from the car and, mercifully, died instantly.

It was a great shock to our family.  He was one of the few people who had truly befriended my husband, even taking him with him on his annual fishing trip to Canada at the beginning of July.  He was an influential man in the area, as all ranchers are influential.  And he had offered a job to my daughter, if she wanted it, helping to package orders for delivery.

But the thing which dominated my mind when I heard the news was that pizza and cake last Thursday.  How glad I was we had been able to be of service to him!  How thankful I was that I had not, in my heart, begrudged him that time, which took me away from the raid.

We always say Real Life > WoW.  We should probably also remember that Real Life is much more fragile than WoW.  The game will be there if we walk away for a day or a month, stored electronically and backed up on other machines, but opportunities to be kind, to be gracious, or to help others in Real Life may be taken away from us at any moment.

Rest in peace, Leonard.  We'll miss you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Drafts Are Handy

I love my blog Drafts folder.  I can rant and vent and nobody is the wiser.  I can write about something in which nobody else would be interested, then not publish it.  I can write down ideas for posts I haven't fully fleshed out yet, waiting for me to pick them up a week or a month or a year later.  I can keep my country list updated.  And the other day, I started a new possibly useful draft:  People to Avoid.

What triggered it was another visit to the WoW forums.  (Yes, I was bored . . . or not quite awake and just trying to read to get my brain moving . . .)

There was a post on the Guild and Raid Leadership forum from a guy who had just been gkicked from his guild and was upset about it, feeling he had been unjustly treated.  When I read it, I decided to break my silence and tell him he was in the wrong.  (He was.)  About a dozen other people posted in the thread, analyzing why the events had turned out the way they had and recommending what he could do to move on and improve his situation, but he insisted on arguing with them.  He added further details to his story, trying to show he hadn't been as much of a jerk as his initial post indicated.  (I confess his protestations were only proving the initial impression correct, especially as he concluded his participation in the thread by saying all the people who posted with analysis and advice were "annoying people".)

That would have been all there was to it, if I hadn't looked at the name and thought, "Wow, that name looks familiar."  I moused over his name and discovered, to my chagrin, he is on my server.

Well, someone like this is NOT someone I want to see in Tempest.  Ever.  No matter how long he has been playing WoW or how well he says he gets along with people.  (His frequency in changing guilds indicates he is either incorrect on this point or unstable.)  But with my memory, I couldn't be certain I would remember his name to block an application if he submitted one.

So I created a draft.  I included a link to the forum thread, as well as a link to his character information on WoWProgress, which shows his guild-hopping.  (Copied that part over, as I realize it may change and scroll off the display.)  I will hold on to this information unless I have to use it, and even then, I would keep it in the Officer's section of the forum, rather than the public recruitment section.

Part of me wants to tell this individual he's lucky I'm the one from the server to have read it--that it won't be linked on the realm forum where the mean people like to hang out.  But, given that he's being really irrational right now, I'd rather not draw attention to the fact I'm on the same server.  (He doesn't seem to have realized it, guessing from his sweeping comments about the server in general.)

This is not the first time I've noted the name of someone on a WoW forum in case I had to argue against their admittance into Tempest, but last time, I screenshotted the thread and resized the relevant parts using a picture editor.  Using the Drafts folder is easier.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Couple Short Notes

Well, my graphics card didn't come yesterday, but it did come today!  When I look at the tracking, it amazes me the path it took to get here.  Kentucky to Colorado to another Colorado place, to Phoenix, to Las Cruces (NM), to the town with the post office nearest us.  I'm sure if someone drew a picture of its path, it would look something like one of those shell cross-sections they always show us to speak of mathematics in nature or something . . . But why, oh, why, could it not just have gone from Kentucky to El Paso to . . .

Oh, well.  My husband is going to try to put it in this afternoon, if he can get away from work at a reasonable hour, so he can reclaim his laptop.  (He he . . .)

We faced Alysrazor again last night and will be facing her again tonight.  No, she didn't die, but neither did I!!  I did not die once to tornadoes or fire or anything except a called wipe.  The raid leader was disappointed in the attempts, but I was so caught up in my personal victory I could not think of the events as failure.  And I must confess to my raid leader, who will never read this, so I'm pretty safe unless someone squeals, that even when he called a wipe, I refused to die in a tornado.  It was a matter of pride.  After last week, I just had to prove it to myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pollyanna Makes Another Appearance

With everything going on everywhere, it's been a lot more difficult for me to remain optimistic.  RL world and government events, teenage daughters, frustrations at work, concerns about uncertainties, etc., combined with unexpected family expenses, have made it so my day-to-day happy-go-lucky attitude has taken a hard hit . . .

Which makes it all the more important to sit down every so often and review those things which are good.

Our weekend optional "clean-up" (more like progression) 10-man raiding team has been making great progress.  It's given them some more experience to bring to the 25-man raid when we tackle new bosses, and has been a positive influence to people who get discouraged.  (Hey, I'll stand on the sidelines and wave my pompoms for them!)

And . . . since 10-man raids get the same loot as 25-man raids, some of our raiders are getting "free" loot on these runs.  More people getting loot from 10-man "clean-up" runs mean less competition for items in our 25-man raids, when we get the boss down, and faster gearing of the raid overall, to the benefit of the guild.

The next new boss we get to tackle is Majordomo!  Although I've heard it described as a difficult fight in 25-man, it seems like a lot of fun.  (Oh, dear, didn't I say that about Alysrazor?)  And it's a Druid type of fight, in some ways.  The movement requirements are simpler as a Resto Druid, including being able to shift to cheetah when necessary to move to or from something.  (I still have travel form hotkeyed from Sindragosa.  Occasionally gets to be a problem, if I accidentally click it while in flight form.  Haven't died from this yet, though. /knocks on wood)

As far as I know, there are only 5 regularly-running 25-man raids on our server over both factions.  This means we will always be in the top 5, lol!  Seriously, though, once the number of raids gets this low, competition really doesn't mean much.  We can just play, have fun, and not worry about it.  Pressure off!

My new graphics card should be in today!  /cross fingers.  We decided to go with a mid-priced card which would be leaps and bounds ahead of my old card, yet use a reasonable amount of power.  (We didn't want to find out we had to replace the power supply, too . . . ugh . . .)  That said, I might still be raiding on my husband's laptop tonight, as I don't think he will have the time to install the card before raid time.  (Afternoon meetings and stuff.)

And on a totally unrelated positive side note, I learned how to plant a prickly pear cactus!  Really, it's easy.  Just cut off a pad from an existing one, leave it in the shade for a week so the cut will heal up a bit, then dig a hole and stuff it into the dirt about one-third of the way up.  Where I live, that's it.  Of course, if you want it to grow a bit more quickly, you might want to water it, if it's not the monsoon season, just to help it get started.  I think I'm going to plant a few up by my house, so eventually my daughters and I will have our own supply of pricky pears from which to make pancake syrup, instead of having to march down the hill to the local clump of decorative prickly pear cactus every year, armed with 2-gallon buckets and every set of tongs we can find in the house.  (It's always good to know how to use your natural resources--contributes to self-confidence--and my husband absolutely loves prickly pear syrup.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Diablo Cash Auction House

Recently, Blizzard announced that the Diablo 3 auction house would include two options:  buy things for in-game currency or buy things for real life money.  And as I do not play and have no plans to play Diabo at all, this isn't an issue with which I will have to deal anytime soon.

However, what would happen if Blizzard decided to expand this idea to World of Warcraft?  I see a few serious problems with this idea.  (My husband told me he could see "more than a few".)

One is the advantage it gives players who are willing to throw money at their problems, so to speak, making the opportunities in-game unequal to the subscribers who already pay a fee to play.  Up to now, opportunities were dictated pretty much by how much time and effort people were willing to spend in-game, which is, I believe, fair.  Up to now, extra real life money has bought World of Warcraft players vanity pets or mounts, things which are really do not affect game play.  I have no problem with the idea of Blizzard selling items with "smile value" or even convenience.  But when the line is crossed toward allowing those with the most real life money to have the most power in-game, it is wrong.

The value of gold may decrease to the point where it becomes worthless. It may come to pass that nobody will end up listing items on the in-game currency auction house at all, especially after the economy becomes mature to the point many players have more than enough gold for their needs.  After all, if they can get real life money for it, why mess with excess, useless gold?  (Unless, of course, they have decided gold will be their "cash crop", in which case, how does this make them any better than the gold farmers we have despised for so long?)  This would put newer players at an extreme disadvantage, forced to buy items with cash instead of gold.  It's not a good situation.

On a WoW forum discussion about this, I saw someone had responded something to this effect: "Who cares?  As long as I can get the same results from playing in game, I don't care if people are using money on the auction house."

But this may not be possible.  Remember how much of a pain it is to deal with gold farmers who make it difficult for the rest of us to farm our own mats, recipes, etc.? Well, under this sort of condition, it would be legal, so those who would never have dreamt of disobeying the Terms of Service might join the ranks of the gold farmers.  Real life money would be at stake, which is a much more powerful motivator than in-game gold.  (And no cap is ever reached.)  And this might mean that those players who choose not to purchase their materials with cash would find it nearly impossible to do any farming at all.

Another problem is taxes.  Yep, you heard me right.

Back in 2008, there were already studies going on about taxing virtual currency in games such as World of Warcraft or Second Life.  An article at Forbes.com, entitled Taxing Virtual Worlds, discussed this possibility, taking the opinions of different economists or professors who had considered the idea.

There is, after all, as the article points out, a precedent for taxing game "winnings".
If you go on a TV game show and win real dollars (or even stuff, like a car or TV), you've received taxable income. Richard Hatch, the first winner of Survivor, is doing time in prison for failing to report his $1 million prize as income.
Personally, I think the idea of taxing World of Warcraft gold is ridiculous. I cannot take that gold and use it to buy milk for my children, so how could that be considered part of my income?  However, what if that gold could be considered to have a real world dollar equivalent?  What if that gold could be cashed out at a standard rate?  The gold would then have a value which could justifiably be considered game winnings (or earnings) and be required for inclusion in taxable income calculations.

Right now, the US government seems to think it is more trouble than it is worth to try to pursue taxation on virtual gold, thankfully.  But if it got to the point where in-game activities could result in real life money, especially in substantial quantities, it might reawaken their interest in the economies of virtual worlds and how they could snatch some benefit for their use.

Now, would my taxes raise substantially?  Probably not.  But I do not like the idea of the government reaching its hands into my life any more than I absolutely have to have.  And, after all, even if I chose not to cash out my gold, it could still end up costing me real life money.

One way or another, I sincerely hope Blizzard is smart enough to realize that a cash auction house and WoW would be a bad fit.

So I Dropped the Group . . .

Sometimes, you've just got to drop a group.

The other day, I found myself in a random Heroic Halls of Origination.  While I wasn't entirely enthusiastic about the length of the instance, I do enjoy the place, by and large, so I took a deep breath and prepared to settle in for a while.

The group consisted of a warlock, a hunter, and two DKs, beside myself.  I couldn't help but notice the names of the DKs:  Deadlydk (the tank), and Dkdeadly, from the same server.  /blink.  (The thought immediately occurred to me that there was some dual-boxing going on, but as they were talking to each other in chat, and as they weren't in the same guild, I figured that was unlikely.)

The tank immediately proceeded to put all our minds at ease (/tongue in cheek) by saying, "I can't tank this instance."

I figured I'd withhold judgement until I saw him in action.

The first trash pulls made me worried.  The tank's gear did, indeed, make it difficult for him to pull entire groups at once, but no CC was in evidence.  In addition, his dps DK friend must have been under the misguided impression he was a tank, as well, because the two of them seemed to share the duties rather frequently.

Let's face it:  I shouldn't have to burn through half my mana pool on an early trash pull in an Heroic Cataclysm instance by now.  (Chain-casting Regrowths that early is not encouraging.)

We reached Temple Guardian Anhuur, and without preamble, the tank pulled the boss.  Then he said something which more or less struck terror into my heart.  "What are we supposed to do for this boss?"  His DK friend said, "I don't know."

Suffice it to say we did manage to succeed, but only after a lot of confusion and finally some teamwork between the lock and me.  The boss died with the tank, the lock, and myself finishing him off.  Messy, but successful.  (Moonfire ftw.)

We headed off toward Earthrager Ptah, with the tank saying, "Oh, by the way, guys, we're going to be doing all the bosses.  Just saying."  I had visions of me viewing the Setesh fight from the ground.  (Happens often enough with a tank who knows what he's doing . . .)

As we ran up the stairs to the boss' area, the tank asked, "Am I supposed to be riding a camel?"

I whispered him, asking, "Do you know any of the bosses in here at all?"

"Nope," came the reply.  Great.  An undergeared tank who wants to complete the entire place, yet knows nothing about the instance.

Fortunately Ptah is reasonably simple, so aside from me whispering to the tank that it wasn't over yet after the boss' first "demise", he could handle the mechanics pretty well.

We ported back and, as I saw the trash in the next hallway we would be required to tackle, I groaned.  I remembered that trash.  It had wiped many a group when I was geared to the level of the instance, while in groups using CC.

The tank charged in, and, as expected, I couldn't keep him up, despite absolutely beautiful hps.  "I'll brb," he said, as the rest of us worked frantically to down the trash group.  As soon as the trash was dead, the other DK said, "Guess I'll brb, too."

I'd had it.  I knew there was no way, no way at all this group was going to be able to successfully make it through the instance.  In addition, I was doing this tank no favors by propping him up through encounters in which he should have been faceplanting and learning a thing or two.

I explained in party chat that our tank was hard to heal and knew none of the boss fights.  I told the group I had no patience for it that evening, and I wished them luck.  Then I dropped group.

I spent the rest of my limited evening playtime gathering herbs.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stymied By Chess

The other day, I found myself in the rare position of being home with only one daughter.  It was my 15-yr-old "Champion" daughter, and she begged me to come with her to run some Burning Crusade heroics, just for the achievements.

I told her she was perfectly capable of soloing them, especially with the way her cat is decked out, but went with her, because it made her feel better.  Besides, it was a kind of fun "mommy-daughter" activity.

After running through all four Auchindoun instances, in between cake-making, frosting-making, etc. (she was making a cake for her 10-yr-old sister's birthday party), she asked if we could go to Karazhan and try for the Huntsman's horse.

Accordingly, we soon found ourselves in Karazhan with a dead Huntsman (no horse).

"Mom," she said, "It sure would be nice to be able to see more of this place."

"Wow, kiddo, I used to get so lost here.  I'm not sure how far we could get."

"Could we try?  Please?"

I figured I had nothing better to do than to spend time with my daughter, so we started up the stairs to the ballroom.  Skirting around the edge of the room, stopping only to kill the staff, who kept getting in the way, we ended up in the banquet hall, where Moroes and his buddies stood on the raised dias.  We cleared the room and got the boss down in no time flat.

The Maiden of Virtue fell in short order, and we headed off toward the opera event.  My daughter was rather excited.  "I wonder which one it will be!"

It was "Romulo and Julianne".  The star-crossed lovers were no match for an 85 moonkin and hunter.

Then we ran into a problem.  Unbeknownst to me, Blizzard had fixed a "bug" in the system.  Whereas before, successfully completing the opera event unlocked the back door, the back door now remained resolutely locked unless unlocked from the inside.  And I had no idea how to get there.

We spent at least the next half hour wandering around places I'd never been (never knew there was a place with soldiers practicing their skills or a blood-stained door), before I finally broke down and found a blog which told me to go out the other stage door.

My daughter found the door on the way and unlocked it for good measure, and we continued on, defeating the Curator, Illhoof, and Shade of Aran.  I couldn't summon Nightbane, and I didn't think we could two-man Netherspite, because of the beam mechanics, so we skipped those two.  Surprisingly enough, I didn't get lost once.

And then we found ourselves completely stumped.

We both know how to play chess, although I never play anyone because I can never win.  But no matter how much we read about soloing the chess event (which should be simpler with two of us, right?), this encounter had us beaten.

Finally, with the need to do the dishes from all that baking looming, I decided enough was enough.  "The lockout will still be there for a few days, honey," I told my disappointed daughter.  "And maybe we can persuade your dad to come with us, so we'll have three people on the encounter."

It seems ironic that of all the encounters, the one which would stop our progress would be the one nobody ever expected to fail in Burning Crusade.  But after we tackle this one, the Prince will feel like a piece of cake.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shaking It Off

Last night was a tough raiding night, for me, anyway.

We were working on Alysrazor, an encounter for which I had been pretty excited.  But no matter how much I understood the very simple mechanic of the tornadoes, I kept dying.  (Before anyone asks, no, I wasn't keyboard-turning.  This also means I wasn't healing during the tornado phase, either--just trying to stay alive.)

Out of 25 people, I died the most. It was very discouraging.

It got to the point where if I had had any other healer at all to substitute in, I would have sat myself and gone and moped in a corner.

It got to the point where I started comparing this encounter in my head to Teron Gorefiend.

It got to the point where I wondered if I had any place playing this game anymore, or if I should just hang it up and walk away.

Alysrazor finally died.  And although I finished the encounter dead, as well, to tornadoes, there is nothing I can do to improve my tornado performance further until next week.  My fellow Druids did help me out with a small suggestion which made a big difference:  stick with the inner circles.  I hadn't realized the tornadoes were supposed to take the same amount of time going around the center, which would mean that the inner tornadoes move more slowly.  (Basic geometry.)  I thought they all had the same speed.  It was easier those last attempts, when I stuck with the inner circles, and I often found myself looking at my life bar in surprise after the tornado phase, wondering why I was at full health.  (The last time I died, I managed to try to go in between a couple of tornadoes.  Bad idea.)

One way or another, I need to shake off last night and move on.  Because the alternative would be to just quit.  And drat it all, when the day comes I leave the game, I want to do it on my terms, not because I slunk off in defeat.

Maybe my graphics card will come over the weekend, so I can get my computer fixed, and I won't have to use my husband's laptop anymore. Maybe I'll run a few heroics, so I can collect a few more anecdotes to try to relate in my sometimes amusing voice. Maybe I'll bake zucchini bread with some of the first zucchini from my garden. Maybe I'll knit. Perhaps I'll drag my husband out on a walk, in this beautiful monsoon season. Maybe I'll lose myself playing Enya on the piano. Maybe I'll start a blog on the adventures of homeschooling a mildly autistic teenager in preparation for the GED. (She took a practice GED math test yesterday and scored very well, but I'm not intending for her to really get her GED for two more years, as she just turned 15. Found a great on-line two-year program which preps not only for the GED, but also for college. Perfect.)  Maybe I'll get some badges and be able to pick up my new relic.  Maybe I'll study up on Ragnaros, because I have complete confidence Majordomo is going down next time we meet.

Next week is another chance to do it right.

First Tempest 25-man Alysrazor Kill