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Drumroll Please…

It was nearly two years ago that I made my first blog post here. I was a very very new player — I claimed I’d been playing six months, but I’ll be darned if I can remember the truth of it. I had only managed to level to 32 though, and that seems like it’s awfully slow. But then again, I was a very new player.

I said in that first post that I was simply going to be doing some guest posts here, and that’s what I intended, but Aurdon got totally me hooked on blogging, and so I’ve been keeping you guys filled in all along whether I was achieving that first max-level ding, contemplating changing my main, or leaving a guild I’d worked so hard to run.

But there comes a time when a girl wants her own blog. So I’m moving!

You’ll find my new place all set up at OhMyKurenai.com. Mark your feedreaders or what have you if you’d like to follow me in my new home. Don’t forget of course, that Aurdon will still be here. I’ll be popping back in to do the occasional guest post as well.

So thanks everybody for making these first two years as awesome as they have been, and I hope you’ll keep reading me for the next two!

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Rhii’s Cataclysm Goals and Progress

Rhii is my achievement hunter and collector, so she’s got the most pre-Cata goals of my characters.

This is what I’d like to get done with her before then:

Master of Arms (FINISHED!)
Ambassador (FINISHED! with 100% less Argent Tourney.)
50 Mounts (35/50)
75 Vanity Pets (62/75)
Exalted with Oracles (Currently Honored)
Exalted with Mag’har (Currently Honored)
Exalted with Netherwings (Not started yet.)
Bloodsail Admiral (Not started yet.)
The Insane (Current progress… minimal. Streamwheedle done, Ravenholdt almost Revered. Rogue for junkboxes level 20.)
Venomhide Raptor (4 teeth collected – oh the shame.)

I’m sure there are some things I left out, but that’s what I’m looking at to keep busy until Cataclysm. It’s unbelievable how relaxing just grinding away on Syndicate thugs can be, leaning back in my desk chair listening to old cds from about 1997 (Fiona Apple) and not being stressed about raiding. It’s positively therapeutic. So yeah, Insane… bring it on.

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Why are we back to failing on Dreamwalker?

Man, I get so frustrated with raiding sometimes.

There are good nights, last week we had our “triumphant” first kill of Putricide. I say “triumphant” in quotes because we’d have killed him long ago if people would stop thinking about farming badges and start thinking about killing bosses.

But then this week, we wiped on Dreamwalker three times before moving on to one shot Fester and Rot. I mean, wtf?

I guess at this point, I can only just shake my head and curse under my breath. I’m having a deep sort of burnout right now, which makes me kind of resent my guild and everything about it.  I’ve been running with Zimzi, because we’re not making any progress right now, and we’re not trying hard enough to make it worthwhile to bring Myrhani when she needs literally no gear and Zim needs everything. It’s hard to stomach the idea of playing a character you’ve totally lost interest in, especially when there’s no realistic prospect of progressing that character (Myr hasn’t had an upgrade in months). It’s doubly frustrating when you’re being asked to bring that character specifically because she’s overgeared, which inspires a whole host of thoughts about how I’m compensating for the low gear/skill/commitment/attendance of others. Oh yeah, and also a pleasant thought surfaces about whether it’s a strategic move to include one or two people who won’t compete for gear with the loot-hounds who think about nothing else.  I don’t really think my guildies are doing this on purpose, but I’ve been raiding the same 4-6 bosses twice a week for nearly a year now – with the same character in the same role and with near perfect attendance. It’s hard not to feel angry with the people who are forcing me to keep doing it, even when it’s decidedly not beneficial for me anymore.

And then there’s the guild’s stance on raid lockouts. Apparently, we need the emblems still, so we can’t extend the raid lockout or we’d miss out on our weekly 8 emblems from the first wing.  With the majority of the guild’s raiders being utterly geared to the teeth, it’s hard for me to think we need the frost emblems so bad we have to sacrifice progression to get them. We only raid 10 mans, after all. We don’t need full 264 to do the freaking Blood Wing. Again, I can’t help but think that someone who controls our raid itinerary is farming a lot of primordial saronites for a personal project.

So Myr is literally drowning in frost emblems she doesn’t need, to the point where I spent three saronites worth of them and traded it to someone for an ilvl200 trinket that was an upgrade for Zimzi.

Just to continue griping, our guild raid nights have been Thursday and Monday 9pm (local) to about midnight. Well it turns out this semester, I have an unavoidable scheduling conflict… namely a night class that starts at 8pm on Monday nights and doesn’t end until 10. On Thursdays I start at 9am and go straight through until 8pm, which means I leave my house before 7am and don’t get home until 9pm. After that day the last, and I do mean the very last, thing on earth I want to do is be hustled online to raid for three hours before I’m allowed to go to bed. Maybe some people have the kind of enthusiasm and fortitude it takes to do that once a week, but after Thursdays, I just want to sleep all day Friday.

Well, I’m apparently so pivotal to the raid group that they’ve rescheduled the Monday night raid for Wednesdays. Fine, good. I can make Wednesday, I might even enjoy raiding on Wednesdays. But they’ve still got the second raid scheduled for Thursday nights, and have pushed it back a half hour so I can make it.

I like feeling needed, I like the idea that my spot is safe as the guild’s primary consistent healer. I hate the fact that I’ve said and said and said I can’t do Thursdays, and they’re still looking for a way to make me do Thursdays. I don’t care if they move the raid to 6AM before I leave for school, I have a THIRTEEN hour school day (with commute time included) and I don’t want to raid that night! I’ve said pug the spot if you can, I don’t mind. I’ve said I don’t think Thursday works for me. I’ve said it louder and more forcefully that Thursday does not work. I’ve said it in Mumble, I’ve said it in guild chat. I’ve said it to Naelian in person. I don’t know how much more I can say, I don’t like being bludgeoned with guilt. I care that the guild can’t raid without me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to raid on Thursdays and be happy about it!

Especially if we’re just going to endlessly farm the first wing for badges I don’t want, and go back to failing on Dreamwalker.

Also, I wish we had a blog category for “long, angry, suppressed rants.” I would put this post in that category.

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I really like long titles.

And I really hate admitting that I’m going back on my formerly stated principles, which I staunchly held for… no real reason.

So I am ashamed to announce, I have betwittered myself. I couldn’t help it, really, I got a new phone, and it’s just screaming for me to use twitter on it. And it makes no sense for me to be a technophile and a technophobe both. Also, because I still refuse to use my facebook account, for an actual reason.

But I have no friggin clue how to use the thing. I mean, what am I supposed to say and how are other people supposed to know it’s me who said it?

Anyway, I’m off to see what all the hullaballoo is about. You can find me at www.twitter.com/Rhiily (pronounce it like “really” the pun makes me laugh).

[Edit: I’m totally shocked – three people are already following me. How does this work?]

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Windows Fail

This week I upgraded my laptop to Windows 7.

Beautiful. 60 FPS in Dal all the time, and my average CPU usage has dropped by about 30%. I’ve never seen my computer run so beautifully.

I loved it so much that I talked my boyfriend into doing his too.

Fail.

Fail.

Fail.

For some reason, his totally appropriate and compatible video card (GeForce 9500gs) with its all new compatible updated drivers is showing up as not capable of running aero effects. Which seems to have wider reaching repercussions than it really should. For example, neither windows media player nor windows media center will run at all. The windows experience index won’t calculate, and there are more parts of windows than you think that depend on having that calculation to run. Just to be contrary, the damn thing is even running aero effects (which supposedly it is not capable of running) about half the time. And for some totally harebrained reason, which MS tech support says may or may not be related, he can’t keep a stable internet connection. And the sound craps out randomly.

This has persisted through an upgrade install, and two reformats/clean installs.

MS tech support, as previously mentioned, doesn’t seem to know exactly what the issue is.

He may have to revert back to Vista and get his money back.

Fail.

FAIL!

The last two days with a very angsty boyfriend who has tried every imaginable solution and still has a borked up PC… well they haven’t been two of my most pleasant days. Especially since I feel guilty for talking him into it in the first place.

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Goblins, We are an Individual!

In the recent turmoil of posts regarding gender and sexism in WoW, I made the pleasant discovery of the ‘mental shaman.  She has a really thought provoking post on the goblin starting area in the beta, and in particular, a quest that exists there in which you kill your cheating ex and their new flame. While Pewter looks at the quest from a social aspect, examining the question of heteronormativity (woot, big words used correctly!) and its implications both for the players and developers of WoW, I’d like to look at the same quest line in a little different light.  At least, that’s where this whole idea started. It’s since wandered off into the realms of what characters are in different parts of the RPG genre, and what that means for immersion and roleplay.

Beware, this is going to be LONG.

Two Kinds of Story

In WoW, there two different levels on which stories exist. There are developer stories, which are explicitly put forward in the game, and are available for anyone to interact with. These can be large or small, something as big and game changing as the rise and fall of Arthas, or something as tiny as Mankrik’s wife or the illness of Relara Whitemoon in Ashenvale. Then there are player stories, which we make with our characters whether we RP or not.

Rhii’s story, at its most basic, is something like this: she is a blood elf, she calls Silvermoon City her hometown, she journeyed through many regions, but spent lots of time particularly in Ashenvale and Stranglethorn Vale, and she did many things to prove her worthiness, including service at the Wrathgate. Now she is fighting in Icecrown Citadel as part of the Ashen Verdict forces (albeit very sporadically, but that’s not my point). There is no place in game that you’ll find reference to the mage, Rhii, or her various acts of good or evil in the world. It’s a player story only, it exists outside of the physical medium of the game. If I was to RP with Rhii, she’d have a larger story. Before the fall of Silvermoon, when the blood elves still were high elves and were affiliated with the Alliance, Rhii’s father worked with the Kirin Tor in Dalaran. She was born there, and thought of Dalaran as her home until she reached adulthood. She is very isolated now. She finds it difficult to trust her Horde comrades, because all her childhood friends were humans, but she also feels deeply betrayed by humans and so can’t find anyone she’s entirely comfortable with – even other blood elves. This story can’t even be found in the record of Rhii’s quests completed… but it’s concrete in my mind, the essence of who that character is.

Two (or maybe three) Kinds of Characters

There are also essentially two sets of characters: player characters and canon characters. NPCs who aren’t really defined in the game might provide a flexible third class, where they exist in canon, but any story they have is non-canon and invested by players. For an example of this, I remember reading someone’s description of their own character, where they mentioned they had a personal rivalry with Bimble Longberry the Ironforge fruit vendor. This isn’t a canon relationship, by any means, since nowhere in game will you find reference to Bimble Longberry competing for her job with a player character (I wish I could recall whose character it was), but yet the relationship exists on a player level, for that character and others who associate with her. And even, to a certain extent, to me, even though I play Horde on a different server, I think of Bimble Longberry as a job stealer.

Lore characters do their thing. They will always do their thing the same way. They have a predefined role in the story, and a predetermined birth, life, and death.

Player characters do not. They don’t have a preinvested personality. They don’t have a predetermined number, or storyline. Player characters proliferate. Some drop out of the story at level 10 (a staggering number, if numbers are to be believed). Others go on to become mighty heroes. Some battle the other faction, some battle the Lich King, some become industrialists – miners and crafters. Some just inhabit the world.

Two Kinds of Canon

There are several ways that RPGs handle the player character. Single player games generally place the character in a definite spot in the canon. For example, there are games (many JRPGs use this model) where your character is totally predefined for you. You might get to name them (Final Fantasy X, Persona 3), but beyond that, the character’s appearance, personality, and destiny are largely outside your control. There are others that give you large amounts of control over your character (Bioware games, Elder Scrolls Games), but your character has a defined position in the canon of the game world.  My current Shepard might be very different from Tamarind’s Shepard (beware minor dragon age spoilers) or  Tom Hatfield’s Shepard, but she is still THE Shepard in my game world. When I’m playing MY Shepard, Tamarind’s Shepard doesn’t exist in that world. There is only one Shepard. In fact, there is a defined canon Shepard, of which ours are just derivatives. So in a way, my Shepard is less real than THE John Shepard, who is the concrete embodiment of Shepardness. Or alternately THE Darth Revan or THE Jedi Exile or THE Grey Warden (I know I’m picking on Bioware extensively, but their games are the best expression of this concept, and the most well known). Even in games that lack that defined canon persona, your character is still the only one of their kind. In Oblivion, for example, you are the only one who can close the gates of Oblivion. Even if you choose to play like Nondrick P. Cairk’tir, you’re still THE ONE who can save the world. Nobody else can.

MMOs aren’t like that, they can’t be like that. Every player character starts out on equal footing. Some may choose to fart around Dalaran (Rivendell, Jita, what have you) all day while others pursue the Argent Tournament dailies (skirmishes, ratting, insert activity of choice here), but every character is equally real. There’s no sense that you and I are playing just different incarnations of the same character. Rhii is not Gnomeageddon is not Larisa is not Vidyala is not Aurdon is not Tamarind is not Rades.  Player characters all exist together, at the same time, in the same way. At least within a server environment. Rhii doesn’t literally exist in the same game as, say Larisa, because I’m on a US server and she’s on an EU server. But we inhabit the same game world. The existence of Larisa doesn’t invalidate the existence of Rhii, like having two Shepards in the same copy of Mass Effect would do.

The Individual Goblin Problem

Previously, in WoW,  Blizzard has been fairly careful to preserve that individuality of character creation. You’re not somebody particular when you come into the WoW universe. You’re just any old person. Someone in a crowd. Maybe the NPC that greets you knows you and is glad to see you, but you’re not the first they’ve seen, nor will you be the last. You don’t necessarily have the same exact characteristics as the last person who came through here. You’re not THE ONE. And the current starting areas emphasize this. Any undead could snap out of Scourge control and awaken at Deathknell, any blood elf could snap out of their mana jonesing and start seeking other ways to master themself, any draenei might have survived the exodar crash and come out of a coma at a particular time, any dwarf might be recruited and report for military training at Coldridge Valley.  Your personal story of awakening is left blank, for you to envision if you will.

The death knight starting area was slightly less impersonal, there were a few mentions of a previous history, but what a “hero of the alliance/horde” might mean is pretty open to interpretation. Even during the infamous quest in which your loyalty to Arthas is finally strained to breaking, most of the friends that new-rolled death knights were ordered to execute are ones that should be pretty common among the race in question. Every undead would likely have had people they considered comrades in arms, for example.

If you’re a night elf, the story pretty much tells you your mother was a priestess at that point, but there are many many night elven priestesses, so that’s not saying you’re the exact same person as every other night elf dk (although it is vaguely problematic that every single night elf DK is the child of a priestess, some statistical abnormality that is!).

But the goblin starting area is different, it seems. I’m not in the beta, so I’ve only read about the goblin quests, and that sparingly because I don’t want to spoil it for myself, but this idea caught my attention strongly enough that I’ve poked into the quests as thoroughly as someone not in beta can. What happens is this, every new goblin character starts the game with a significant other of the opposite gender (although I’ll leave the analysis on that point to Pewter, who does it very well). If you’re a male goblin, you’ll be dating Candy, if you’re a lady goblin, it’s Chip. Over the course of the disasters in goblin starting land, your companion deserts you, and later on you find out that they’re working for a rival trade prince and dating someone else. Incensed, you go, kill the new flame and then take gory revenge on your ex by tearing out their still beating heart.

Yeah it’s gross. But it’s also a fairly detailed, developer mandated, in game description of your character’s personal life. Something we’ve never had in game before. And it’s not just your character… it’s all goblins’ personal lives. It’s like there’s only one goblin… in the world. The one who had a previous relationship with Chip/Candy, and was betrayed by them. In a world where your character is supposed to be a particular person amongst other particular persons who exist at the same time, in the same way, all goblins are clones of each other, inheritors of a pre-existing canon backstory. Almost like there’s a prototypical goblin (we’ll call him Shepard, for funsies) and all other goblins are somehow a derivative from the ideal standard of goblinness.

And it’s my understanding that you can’t even escape that predetermined background by skipping the quest. It seems to be a required part of the goblin starter storyline.  Sad day for roleplayers everywhere. I’m not a WoW roleplayer, myself, but I am a roleplayer in other environments, and I haven’t been able to help myself from adding some elements of RP into my own playstyle. And I think from the reactions to different NPCs, torture quests, and plotlines I’m not alone in having an idea, independent of anything much that Blizzard defined, of who my characters are and what they value. And I doubt they want a big, not so delicate, finger in their pie from Blizzard dictating what they would and would not do.

And that’s to say nothing of the community of active roleplayers, who I’m sure will think hard about what to make of that story before creating a goblin. I think I might even want to reconsider making a goblin, and I only roleplay in my head. But if I want my character involved in a romantic relationship (or even just to be someone’s arm candy), I want that to be at my discretion… even concerning the (thoughtless? reckless? bloodthirsty?) indiscretions of her youth.

I told my boyfriend I’d been thinking along these lines, and he thought I was declaring the end of the world or the death of roleplay or something like it. I don’t mean to give that impression at all. That would be an overreaction. But I do think that changing from allowing a more or less totally open backstory (gradually transitioning through DKs who had some specified elements) to your character having more of a delineated personal history is a noteworthy shift in the way player characters are viewed by Blizzard. It does have (maybe not major but some) implications on the way you play the game, and the way you view your character. And since attachment to the characters is one of the factors that Blizzard banks on to keep you playing, they probably should make sure they tread lightly in areas that affect your perception of and attachment to your character.

Either way, it’s an interesting development, and one I’m not 100% on board with. What do you guys think? Will it matter to you that your goblin already has a history, or do you not care if you can build them from the ground up? Or would you prefer having a character that had a more defined personality in exchange for a more directed storyline, similar to what single player games offer? Or have I gone totally off the deep end with this one?

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I’m going to start with the epic win, since all this fail stuff gets repetitive and depressing after a while. I’ve been leveling my priest pretty hard, and there are two tanks I’ve run more than once with who are always excellent. Courteous, skilled, and just all around good people. I wish I could cross server friend them.

Cheers for Tearina from Icecrown and Enviously from Undermine. If you read blogs, you guys are awesome, and Emiri from Kel’Thuzad misses you already! You have restored my faith in the existence of competent tanks in LFG! They really do exist!

And I met some incredibly fun and competent dps last night as well, Hiddukel from Kel’Thuzad, you may make me waters any time. I’m very glad I could add you to my friends list. :)

And now the fail.

The scene is Auchenai crypts.  Tearina was tanking. Hiddukel was doing his mage thing. It was our fourth instance run together that day. We got some random DPS, a warlock and a hunter. Tearina was line of sight pulling the dangerous Time Lost Controllers (who do a mind control totem) around a corner so that we only got one group at a time and were not getting feared into the large number of mobs in the next room. Hooray for responsible tanking, right? :)

We had warned the new dps (Hidd had already proved he knew what he was doing in there) that they needed to take out the totems first, otherwise if someone got mind controlled people could die.

Tearina did her line of sight thing, the mobs came around the corner, the Controller dropped his charming totem… and all hell broke loose. I was mind controlled. The disc priest, right. So my toon starts smiting people harmlessly and tossing shadow word: pains. Nobody kills the charm totem. Instead, the lock’s felguard wanders over and smacks me in the face repeatedly with his giant axe. I die. The rest of the group finishes up the adds and combat ends.

Tearina starts to res me. The noise of something charging is heard. All the mobs in the next room (four or five groups of them) come pouring in on us like we’d busted the Hoover Dam. Everyone wipes.

Accusations fly. Namely, the lock starts spouting off about how the tank pulled it wrong so the mind control totem was stuck in the wall where they couldn’t target it. So his felguard killing me in the face was intentional and he was doing me a favor by killing me to break the mind control. “So you should thank me, priest.”  Er, thanks, jerkwad.  The hunter confirms that the totem was “glitched” but Hiddukel was able to target the totem with no issues.

Also, apparently, nothing charged into the next room. Instead, the mind controlled priest feared the hunter into the next room where he unavoidably aggro’d all those mobs. Reasonably, Tearina points out that we were out of combat before anyone pulled that stuff, and at that point, the priest in question (me) was dead. In fact, she was in the process of ressing the late priest when we heard something (like a felguard) charging in there. The lock starts screaming at Tearina to “shut the [expletive] up, paladin, or do you want to duel me and die?” Tearina, justifiably offended, insists that the totem was not in the wall, and that I, being dead, did not fear anyone. So the lock changes his story and declares the problem was that he had lag. Lag caused him to not attack the right target, to target a party member with his minion, and to then send that minion charging in to pull an entire room of angry bird-people. Lag.

At this point we’re all reasonably certain that the lock is… well, either a moron or a dick or maybe drunk. Possibly even all of the above. But it’s no use really fighting over it. So I try to smooth it over and we continue.

And the lock starts spamming his dps, announcing that he has to be the top dps in here because he’s paired with a “huntard” and a “slacker mage”. I point out that posting the dps meter is just spam if nobody asks for it, and honestly, we don’t appreciate spam. The hunter, who appears to be his buddy, immediately claims he’d asked for it. I replied that I didn’t see any request in party chat, and if the hunter asked for the dps in a whisper, then replying by posting it in party chat is… still spam.  He says, “you’re just bitching because you’re last.” Um, I’m the healer, I kind of expect to be last, actually. I’m okay with it. If I wanted to rule the DPS meter, I’d probably try playing a DPS class. But he continues, obviously not able to differentiate between a priest and a paladin, that “DPS meters aren’t about the tank anyway” so I should just “[expletive]ing shut up and do my job” Uh, hello… see the sissy robe? I am most certainly not the tank. I lead from behind, thank you very much.

So we kicked him. It was undoubtedly the most satisfying vote kick of my life. That the hunter went with him was just gravy.

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Note: These are intended for leveling pugs, where the tank is not made of Duranium and the DPS only think they do OVER 9000!! and the group actually needs a healer to survive.

1) If you are a tank, don’t tell the healer when they should stop for mana. It’s the healer’s job to watch their own mana. Only they know the rate that they expect to use it. Only they know if they’re good for another pull at 30% or if it’s okay to pull the boss before they’re full. If they say they’re good, they’re good. If they say they need to stop, stop. Remain stopped until the healer is finished drinking. Do not wait until they hit 50% and start pulling again. If your healer doesn’t get to drink to full, they’ll just need to stop again soon. And water isn’t free unless you’re tapping a mage. So let your healer finish his drink before moving on. And please, please do not say “mana up” at random times when it’s convenient for you.  Frankly, implying that the healer’s mana pool is an inconvenience to your tanking awesome-itude (a real word!) is kind of degrading. Don’t degrade the person keeping you alive, it’s not nice.

Pro tip: Your healer will need to drink an awful lot in Mana Tombs. That’s because the mobs there drain mana at an incredibly annoying rate. This does not mean your healer sucks. It means the instance sucks. Please adjust expectations accordingly.

2) If you are the DPS, please do not use knockback effects or fears. I know some of those spells do damage, but trust me, they are not going to be part of your ultimate dps arsenal. Particularly do not use these spells right at the start of a large AOE pull. Don’t even use them if you get aggro. Instead, run toward the tank, so the mob follows you back to where it’s supposed to be. That way the mob remains controlled at all times. What knockbacks do is knock the mobs away from the tank and scatter them so they are out of the tank’s control and it’s difficult to pick them back up quickly. This generally results in lots of aggro flying everywhere, which results in damage to other party members to the tank. Common side effects are pulling extra mobs, people dying, your healer going out of mana, and embarrassing wipes.

Pro tip: for fast instances, avoid doing things that run your healer out of mana. The less time you spend sitting around drinking, the faster you finish the instance… though if you hate being there so much, I fail to understand why you queued in the first place.

3) If you are a tanking capable class that is running as DPS, take your taunt buttons right off your bars. Or at least put them in a hard to reach spot. If you bind Hand of Reckoning to 1 and Divine Storm to 2, when you hit hand of reckoning by mistake and that fel orc turns around and flattens you… well you have nobody to blame but yourself. For the Death Nuggets among us, Death Grip functions as a taunt in this situation. Don’t use it if you’re not tanking.

Pro tip: The tank doesn’t want help tanking. The instance does not require an assistant tank. It definitely will not make anything faster to have more tanks. The healer really does not want you to help with the tanking. The more people taking heavy damage, the faster the healer is running out of mana. You take heavier damage than the tank because you don’t have tank talents or tank gear. You are also much more likely to die than the tank. Especially if the healer is low on mana, or if you’ve been warned several times to stop assistant tanking.

4) If you are a ranged class, stand at range. They call it ranged dps for a reason. What happens when you’re standing at range is this: You damage the mobs, maybe the mobs get aggro on you and start toward you. While they close that distance the tank has an opportunity to taunt the mob before it flattens your ass. The healer has an opportunity to shield/hot you. And you (yes you!) have an opportunity to use a threat dump like feign death, ice block,  misdirect, fade, disperse, and many more. If you don’t have a threat dump available stop dpsing the mob that’s after you. That’s right, change targets, so your threat on your former target starts to decay.  This will make you a less effective pincushion. It’s true. When you’re in melee range, guess what happens? You aggro the mob, and it grinds you into the floor before anybody has an opportunity to do anything. Please, for the love of all that is holy (and for shamans and druids, for all that is naturey) stand at range.

Pro tip: Some things explode. Most notably bombs, but also some kinds of mobs. Standing in things that explode hurts. Usually, things explode in melee range. Standing outside of melee range offers excellent protection from explosions. Avoiding explosions helps your healer not go out of mana, which leads to an efficient run.

Pro tip 2: Don’t freeze/root the mob far from the tank. It may keep you from taking damage for a few seconds, but it makes it harder for the tank to get control of the mob again. If it’s chasing you go toward the tank (not away from the tank and definitely not around any corners that break line of sight with your healer) and let it follow you back to where it belongs. Rooting it where it doesn’t belong only keeps it in the wrong spot longer.

5) If you are the tank, please don’t pull mobs when you are under 50% health. If the healer is up and walking around, wait for a heal. If the healer is drinking, sit your scrawny tank ass down and eat something. Or if you’re a paladin, heal yourself. If the healer is dead, there is a multi-step process you must follow before it is safe to pull more mobs. 1) Notice the healer is dead. Believe it or not, many tanks fail on this step. 2) Wait for the healer to run back, or if a rezzer is alive, rez them. 3) Allow the healer to reapply any buffs they need to. 4) Apply any buffs you may be capable of bestowing to the healer. All party members should participate in this step. 5) Allow the healer to eat and drink until they have sufficient health and mana to continue. 6) Double check that you have more than 50% health. 7) Now you may continue pulling.

Pro tip: Occasionally you may encounter debuffs that continue to drain a tank’s health until they are healed to full. If the healer is out of mana at the end of combat, they’re not going to be able to remove this debuff for you. Try anything you can to stay alive until they are able to assist you. If you are a paladin, HEAL YOURSELF. If you are not a paladin, use bandages or potions to try and hold out until they can remove the debuff. Do not blame an out of mana healer for not healing you, unless you have done everything possible to save yourself. It’s not fair.

Bonus!

6) Pay attention to party chat. No matter who you are: tank, healer, dps, warlock, vanity pet… All kinds of useful information can be conveyed in party chat. Things like “I’m oom” or “afk phone” are important messages. Also, experienced party members might be warning you of things like debuffs, boss mechanics, exploding worms, traps, or the fact that you’ve got a 17 pound catfish equipped in place of your shield. If you’re not paying attention to this kind of message and it causes you to die… well, don’t blame your healer. Instead, in the words of the immortals… L2Read nub lol.

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In Which I Adopt A Newbie

The other night my level 58 priest was hanging around Brill, looking for a chicken to go /chicken at, when a baby level 7 mage whispered me to politely ask what it was that made me choose the priest class. Asking an altoholic why they chose their class is a tricky business, since the answer is probably “I didn’t have one of these yet” or “I felt like it that day when I woke up.”

It turns out that this mage had just started his first character that day, and needed a little help making sure he’d chosen the right class. Fortunately, while not really an expert (I was a newbie too when I was a mage), I do know a thing or two about mages, and about priests, which was the class he was thinking maybe he should have chosen instead. So we tossed around different abilities for a while. I told him about the three mage specs, and about shadow priests (he wasn’t interested in healing) and I demonstrated some priest abilities like bubble and shadowform for him.

And he decided he liked his mage after all. And even after he was more or less done needing help from me, I kept following him around because we were just chatting and having fun. I gave him two six slot bags, and we snuck our way into the Western Tirisfal Glades together. You know the large empty area to the west of Deathknell? You can bounce up into it if you keep trying along the cliffs that border it. Inside are weird looking cliffs and holes that we promptly got stuck in. It was cool though.

And then I watched him figure out how to kite all by himself. He ran past me and said, hey look, if I keep using my frostbolt, he can’t hit me, and proceeded to kite a spider all over the woods, laughing at it all the way. I really wished I’d been smart enough to figure that stuff out as a baby mage.

So long and short, he’s now in my guild, I’ve pretty much adopted him.  He needs people to ask when he isn’t sure if he should spend his talent points now, or save them up because he can’t decide if he wants to be frost or fire spec (spend them now, you can get them back if you change your mind later!). I call him my pet noob, and he calls me a baddie and tries to duel me a lot. His enthusiasm is really refreshing. I’m very glad I was chicken hunting that night in Brill, and bored enough to hang around tossing bubbles at a level 7.

And What Happened After

Its been three days since I first wrote this post… I was saving it as a draft so I didn’t post over Aurdon’s SCII observations. And today I got a sad mail. My newbie friend decided it was selfish of him to have rolled on a different server than his IRL friends, so he rerolled his mage on the server they play on. He sent me all his WoW gold and a nice letter thanking me for making him so welcome.

I’m very sad.

But I’ve rerolled to play with IRL friends before, namely Aurdon and Adreanna, and it was sad to leave the friends I had on the old server. But it was worth it. And I’m sure it will be worth it for him too.

But I’m still very sad.

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What I Love About Starcraft 2

OK so this is really a WoW blog but I figure the readers wouldn’t mind too much if I toss out my opinion and experience in Starcraft 2 thus far.  I myself like to read reviews from my peers so perhaps if you were interested in the game this might sway you one way or the other.

My experience in the Starcraft world (and RTS genre for that matter) is some what limited.  I have the first game and the expantion but had never ever ever ever played a real battle.net game against a real opponent.  This comes from an intense phobia of hating having a real player curbstomp my base in 6 mins of a match.  I like the sci-fi setting and enjoyed the single player (never completed …yet) of the original Starcraft.

I was the type of player who turtled in the base until I had almost no resources and had to move.  Well my brother got me an invite to the SC2 beta and it was multiplayer only.  I ran my preliminary “ranking”  matches and low and behold I was banished to the copper ladder.  Thats Platnium, Gold, Silver Bronze, and then Copper (me).  I can only assume Blizzard had held long meetings over the fact that they really needed to create a “tinfoil” league that included only me.  It was a rough time…I was very close to quitting after being on the reciving end of some dirty tricks (proxy pylon bases cannons I loath you).  I decided to focus on only learning one race (zerg) and managed to battle my way to the top 5 or so of that league (meaning I was the best of the worst) but all in all thought it was a pretty fun game.  Everything I expected.  Felt like Starcraft only with better graphics.

Now along comes the official release.  And a digital download no doubt.  I knew I’d buy it eventually so I downloaded and installed…and patched….and looked at the login.  Empty….blinking…..glowing “connect” button…..taunting me.  BAAAAAAHHHH thats it I’m buying it.  So I get on the Blizzard store some 48h after street date and attach it to my battle.net account and log in.  Fire up the campaign start to play….now this is what I had no idea about.

I had no idea Blizzard was changing so much about the RTS story genre game.  This plays more like a RTS-RPG than anything….its phenomenal.  Here are a few of the things I had no idea were going to be in the game (because I never followed the development of it).  From what I remember of Starcraft one, you simply build a base, and kill the other base with whatever tech you have available.

  • You get money after every campaign level to buy upgrades (a mechanic I’ve been in love with ever since Mechwarrior Mercenaries ala 1996…mmmm Pentium 90 MHz computer).  So now, your space marines can have stim packs from the very moment you train the first one and no longer must you train each map (muliplayer you still have to train ever map…standard RTS rules apply).
  • You can also hire Mercenaries thus unlocking them for every following map.  Once you have their “contracts” you can “summon” them after a set ammount of time has passed on the map.  These units have extra HP and DMG and are insta-build so the few times you might get flanked in your base while your force is out hunting, you can drop pod a few of these guys in for defense.  Pretty cool.
  • Also you get a choice of where to go to next. There is usually about 3 planets at a time to pick from.  Each planet will add a new unit to arsenal for use on all other maps.  This will sometimes make you say “Oh I wish I would have played that one first…having a group XYZ would have made this map so much easier.
  • Three times in the campaign, you were forced to make a decision who to side with.  One of these times determined what new unit you got and the other option was gone forever.
  • You get to replay any map (including the side you chose not to take) but you don’t get any money or tech points for doing so.  You do however get to take your full arsenal of new units if you wish so you’ll flying a fleet of Battle Cruisers in on your opponent on the third level which is fun.
  • Besides the money used on hiring new units and buying upgrades, you can also pick up “tech” points on most every map that go into essentailly a tallent tree that mixes Zerg and Protoss tech into the Terran units.  This is a pretty cool feature since this campaign “Wings of Liberty” focuses on Terran (there is 4-5 Protoss missiosn you play as you relive the memories of Zeratul like the Pensieve from the Harry Potter series) but the tech is hybrid so its not like you simply get to build Zealots.
  • Each campaign map is different.  I don’t mean a new tile set, I mean really different.  Its like when you first got to do the bombing runs in Hellfire Peninsula and how awesome this new type of quest was verses what you are used to.  One map will have you chasing speeding trains so you can rob them, another will have you guard and repair a badass mech that is destroying everything in its path, and yet another will have you collect 3000 mineral before your opponent so you can buy the mercenary contract before he does.  Each is different in a good way and keeps the game from being stale.
  • Factor all that in with achievements (just like in wow) and there is huge replay value in the single player aspect of this game.

I knew it would be fun as Blizzard doesn’t make crappy games but seriously, this game rocks and I can’t wait for Diablo III to knock my socks off as well. If you are in a cataclysm coma like me and have lost most the desire to play wrath of the lich king, I HIGHLY suggest you pick this game up.  Its a solid buy and well worth it.

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