I Wasn't Going to Say Anything…

As a rule, I try to pay very little attention to April Fool’s Day. I don’t usually participate in gags or pranks or what-have-you, myself. This year was the most involved in April Fool’s Day I’ve been in ages, and I wasn’t even very active. All I did was tell Rho that yes, he could tell people listening to Realm Maintenance that Blessing of Frost was coming out of retirement. (Which it’s not, by the way, but I do appreciate the comments from various people wishing that were the case — as does Maj!)

Yesterday’s April Fool’s jokes by Blizzard had two reactions from me:

1) Hah, these “patch notes” are hilarious! Love the Calvin & Hobbes references, among others.

2) … oh, right, it’s April 1st. I will ignore this “artcraft” post pretty much entirely.

I wasn’t going to talk about how the female draenei post was somewhat insulting towards women. I wasn’t going to talk about how intolerant people can be when the representation of a woman is less than a straight man’s “ideal”. I wasn’t going to talk about how the fact that Blizzard decided to make fun of the female draenei can be considered a statement that they find it funny to screw with the players’ heads in introducing a model that is not the straight man’s “ideal”.

And then Twitter exploded with reactions. Particularly on my timeline today, April 2nd, there’s all kinds of hate and anger — not just restricted to the joke. Backlash for the joke is fair, assuming it doesn’t cross over into abusive insults or threats. Saying “I didn’t find it funny” is fine. Saying “I didn’t find it funny because of points a, b and c, that I will explain below” is also fine. Saying “YOU #)*%_@#% PIECES OF #(&)!% I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU @)*$)!@* THAT #)*@% UP” is not fine. Hopefully, you get the point.

However, what’s happening on my timeline today is hate and anger directed at people who didn’t find the joke funny and decided to say something about it.

Dudes. (And I don’t mean just guys, I include girls there, too.) That is uncool.

Now, believe me, I have zero interest in defending WoW Insider in general. I’ve had my issues with them as a website and, in fact, make it a point to basically never read it. That said,  they posted an interesting article called The Joke is On Women and, subsequently, had to turn off the comments. Why? Because of all the awfulness that was cropping up. (Another great read, from The Godmother: That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.)

Look, I’m a woman, but do you know why my character, Kurn, is a male night elf? Apart from the fact that I instantly hated the female night elf idle bounce animation (for various reasons such as I don’t actually do that myself and, frankly, never would), it was to blend in with the masses. I never wanted to stand out as a woman among players, because I’ve been treated terribly in the past by a variety of people who thought that, because I’m a woman, it’s okay to objectify me and to treat me like I’m there for their pleasure. I worked as a writer on a high-profile website for four years in the late 90s and into the 2000s and part of my daily routine was weeding out the creepy messages from guys who were offering me a life of luxury to come be their fourth wife or concubine (I’m not kidding) or guys who demanded I spend some one-on-one time with them on the phone (which was not at all part of my job, but they insisted it was).

Due, in part, to those experiences, I decided “nope, I’m going to make Kurn a guy”. And it was lovely. I was left alone when I wanted to be. It was only when I rolled Madrana, a human female, that I started getting lewd whispers and inappropriate comments from people. I have actually said to people “I’m a dude” to get them to back off. (I once had an opposite-esque experience, actually, which broke my brain for a few different reasons, but anyhow.)

So, within WoW,  I took steps to make sure I wasn’t particularly bothered as best as I could (male night elf, telling people I’m a dude if they persisted, etc). Even on this blog, I have a comment policy that I stick to and ask others to adhere to, as well. Further, I’ve gone out of my way to be a good player, to help dispell all the “girls can’t play” crap that goes flying around out there. Basically, I’ve done what I can do to make sure that being a woman who plays a video game doesn’t adversely affect my gaming experiences.

Think about that for a minute. Being a woman can adversely affect my gaming experiences.

Being a guy does not inherently do that in the same way that being a woman can.

Guys automatically “fit in” with gaming culture because so much of the content is created by guys and, like it or not, for guys (even though female gamers are about half of the gaming population). In order for me to fit in and be comfortable, I have to do X, Y and Z first. I shouldn’t have to, but I accept it because to not do those things, to not protect myself, will result in uncomfortable, awkward and downright creepy experiences. If I want to play and have a good time, with other people in the mix, I must first take those precautions.

I’m not even complaining that I feel that I have to take these kinds of precautions, although it would be nice to easily fit into a culture I am definitely part of without doing so. The truth is, I’ve experienced this stuff my entire life. I was the girl who spent her teenage years calling local Bulletin Board Services and playing Trade Wars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon while moderating a forum about Star Trek. So, whether I like it or not (and I don’t), I generally don’t make a big deal about it because I’m used to it.

So, ultimately, if Blizzard (or any other company) wants to make a joke about a previously “attractive” character (how attractive is a female draenei, really? Horns, hooves and a tail??) being made “less attractive”, by changing the face, adding fur and the like, that’s their decision. My decision is to not like it and, as long as I do so respectfully, there’s no problem with my opinion.

The problem comes when either I am disrespectful or when others are disrespectful towards me.

You don’t like that some people are offended? Fine, feel free to disagree. Just do it politely and with respect. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, particularly if you are the straight male for whom the joke was obviously intended.

If you don’t know about Anita Sarkeesian, by the way, you ought to take a look at her stuff. She has had the most vile and horrific abuse levelled at her simply because she wants to deconstruct anti-feminist tropes in video games.

Oh, and one more thing, while I’m thinking of it: “feminism” is not a dirty word. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you want women to be the dominant gender. It doesn’t mean that you have to be a crew-cutted, man-hating lesbian. Being a feminist simply means that you believe men and women are equal and should be treated as such. I once shocked the hell out of a friend of mine by saying “no, I’m not really a feminist” and she was like “… do you think men and women are equal and should be treated as equals?” I replied that I did. “Then you’re a feminist.” So go read some of these quotes about feminism to perhaps better understand what feminism is, but this is probably my favourite.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

– Marie Shear, reviewing Kramarae and Treichler’s A Feminist Dictionary in the news journal New Directions for Women (1986)

So when people — women, in this case — talk about being offended, look at why they’re being offended. You can disagree with them, but do it respectfully and with the understanding that this isn’t the first time they’ve had to deal with being the butt of a joke like this. As for myself, I simply didn’t find that portion of Blizzard’s April Fool’s Day funny and, really, I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but now I have. And I hope the Internet is better for it.

(As always, the aforementioned comment policy is to be adhered to, thank you kindly.)

Sentry Totem Stuff, Plus Pally & Priest Adventures

So a little while ago, as in just about two weeks ago, someone named Tickle on Twitter was saying stuff about needing writers and class experts for a new WoW site she was starting up. Naturally, I wanted details. So I asked her a few questions, she sent me a few answers and, well, the next thing you know, I had applied to be the guild leadership columnist over at SentryTotem.com. (Twitter: @TheSentryTotem) Oh, yeah, and I was accepted, too. ;) More details will be forthcoming in the next few days, I suspect, but keep an eye on the site as content should be popping up Soon(tm) and definitely follow the site’s Twitter account!

In the meantime, I’m still screwing around in WoW. After farming almost all of the ore I needed for Blacksmithing and Engineering for my newly-boosted 90 warlock, I decided to take a break for a bit… and I found myself levelling my paladin. Levelling was hilarious in that I found myself either healing instances (so. many. instances.) or exploring and doing some quests — in 4pc T13 heroic gear… with a heroic Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps. (I suppose I should thank Serrath, who was the loot master of Apotheosis at the end of Cata, for giving me unwanted retribution gear without my permission. Thanks, Serrath!)

Most stuff was okay, it was just long. I had some pretty fail dungeon groups but I also had some pretty awesome ones. I definitely don’t like a lot of the “new” (I put that in quotes because they’ve been out for what, a year and a half now?) dungeons, but the worst, the worst, was doing Siege of Niuzao Temple and getting to the third boss (Pa’valak) with a group that was, and let’s be fair to them, sub-par.

How bad was this? Well, we didn’t wipe to the boss, but the moonkin and the DPS warrior both died about a minute or so into the fight because they stood next to the bombs and got blown the eff up. Of course the druid didn’t think to give me Symbiosis (I’ve had it given to me about three times AND LOVE IT EVERY TIME I GET IT, BECAUSE REBIRTH IS AMAZING.), so the pally tank and the mage and I were left to fend for ourselves.

Here’s a screenshot from Skada, after the fact.

pavalak

Yeah, see the duration there? From 14:41 to 14:53? That, my friends, is a twelve-minute fight, which I haven’t done since the freaking Heroic Spine of Deathwing fight.

We probably should have wiped it, as it likely would have been faster, but you know what? WE KICKED ASS. I felt really good about keeping us alive, considering I was still wearing tons of T13 gear.

So there was that. Anyhow, I dinged 90 relatively quickly (although 89 felt like it would take decades to complete) and started opening up all the Timeless Plate stuff I’d gotten with Kurn over on the Timeless Isle. I got to ilvl 476 or something like that pretty quickly and then, because I’d just gotten Gold Damage in Proving Grounds on Kurn, I thought I’d see just how bad the healing Proving Grounds are, even though some of my gear wasn’t even 463. (I mean, I had a 410 ring, a 410 trinket, a 450 mace and shield, a terrible neck…) Got through Bronze without issue. Got through Silver pretty easily. And then Gold just DESTROYED me, ahahaha. I’m now over 463 in each slot, so I should be able to go back and get Gold without issue, but WOW, that was not easy. It’s been a long time since I got my ass handed to be that badly.

I’d mentioned to my brother that I was playing WoW again and he was like “should I resub?” and I told him not to. So what did he do? He signed up for a month, just like I did. He had a hell of a time getting the game to update and eventually had to open a ticket for a call-back(!) from Blizz, but everything got sorted and the next thing you know, he’s in the game and rolling a brand-new rogue. Why he would do this when he HAS a rogue at 85 is beyond me, but he kept claiming that he wanted to re-learn how to play and that re-rolling is the best way for him to do that. I don’t really disagree, but it’s not like the game has changed that much. Hell, if I can still play Kurn and Madrana worth a damn, he can play his rogue.

So he gave up on the rogue when he realized he didn’t have all the heirlooms and he encouraged me to level a higher-level toon with him. Choices included my warrior (80) with his druid (78), his warrior, priest or paladin (85, 85 and 86 respectively) and my priest (85) or my mage (85, on Skywall) or my druid (85, on Proudmoore). We elected to go with his warrior and my priest combo, so he could tank (if he wanted to) and I could heal (because, well, that’s what I do).

We hit 86 on Saturday night. As we started out in the Jade Forest, I noticed my brother was, well, spawning flowers all over. “Are you like, GROWING FLOWERS around you?!” I demanded. “What the hell is that?”

“Wait, is that me?” he asked.

“Well, it’s not ME!”

“Ohhhhh, hang on… I think it’s a macro. Yeah, my herbalism haste thing is macroed to my charge.”

This still cracks me up. We legitimately did not know why, for a good half an hour, why there were flowers blooming everywhere, apparently at random. We obviously still have some rust, but we’re not so rusty that our muscle memories have been forgotten. I found myself using Penance and Prayer of Mending without even thinking about it, although it took me a minute to find my defensive dispell button/clique combo. (Shift-Mouse Button 4, FYI.)

On Sunday, I slept in. In the two hours between my brother’s first text message saying “WAKE UP AND HEAL ME” and when I actually woke up and got the message, my brother had given up on me, pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor and had boosted his own priest to 90. He was in the battlegrounds when I logged in.

We’re now halfway through 87 on the warrior and priest. (Void Shift is awesome.)

The hilarious bit is that my brother had been DPSing the first couple of Temple of the Jade Serpent runs we had, but then he decided to start tanking for the faster queues. So we did maybe two Temples and maybe one run of Stormstout Brewery and my brother is complaining about aggro. Sure enough, various other members of the group had aggro, according to my Grid. We’re halfway through a Temple of the Jade Serpent run when he says to me, over Skype, “oh, shit.”

“What?” I ask.

He types to the group: “Sorry about the aggro problem, I fixed it.”

“What, what did you fix?”

He pauses. “Well, I hear Defensive Stance helps.”

I burst into laughter. My brother had tanked something like three dungeons — all in Battle Stance. And he’d done WELL as a tank, too!

About ten minutes after he swapped to Defensive Stance, he said, “Well, this is BORING now. I should just stay in Battle Stance!”

So I’ve had some fun in the last week. More stuff forthcoming, what with Sentry Totem news, more adventures as my priest (ahahaha, totally forgot about Atonement healing for a while there, plus Spirit Shell!) and the upcoming adventures on my WARLOCK. It’s definitely more fun with my brother around. I wonder if he might be into doing some challenge mode-type stuff. I also wonder if we might convince a certain Maj Maj to join us… ;)

My Own 90 Boost Adventures & Ruminations

Here’s where I confess that:

a) I actually resubbed for 30 days shortly after pre-ordering the expansion last Monday (and by “shortly”, I mean “within four hours”)
and
b) I boosted a warlock from 1-90

I know, I know. The poll results said I should boost a brand-new monk. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I have absolutely no desire to play a monk outside of a tiny bit of curiosity when it comes to mistweavers. I did not want to play a monk.

Similarly, I kind of thought it, well, silly, to play a warlock. I already have a ranged DPS class with a pet — my hunter. So why the warlock?

Well, the first reason is because I’ve always been interested in warlocks in terms of a playstyle. DoT management has always intrigued me in theory. The second reason is that I’ve tried, on more than one occasion, to level a warlock. It never goes well (even with heirlooms — and I even have the heirloom RING!) and I have no interest in levelling a character from 1-90 or even 1-60 and then boosting from 60.

The third reason is that hey, I don’t much like the other options I felt I realistically had and so went with the warlock. It was the second choice in my poll, so why the heck not?

I’ll say this up front, I’m a bad warlock. I’ve spent about an hour at the training dummies and I am just not doing a great job. Part of this is UI-related (I need a good dot timer that ISN’T DoTimer because DoTimer keeps crashing my WoW, oddly) and part of it is that I’m sure I’m just not comprehending the subtleties of the class yet. Happily for the rest of the population, I have not grouped up for anything at this juncture, because I clearly don’t know what in the hell I’m doing and do not wish to inflict my idiocy on other people. You’re welcome! :)

That said, part of the reason for even using the boost was to help my professions along in the sense that I have:

– skinning/leatherworking on Kurn
– alchemy (elixir)/jewelcrafting on Madrana
– herbalism/mining on my shaman
– alchemy (potion)/enchanting on my priest
– alchemy (transmute)/inscription on my warrior

Those are all maxed. This means that, on Eldre’Thalas, I am missing just blacksmithing, engineering and tailoring as primary professions. I might bring my mage back from Skywall (at some point) and drop his herbalism for tailoring… but the point is, I wanted my boosted character to have blacksmithing and engineering.

Now, I could have, perhaps I should have, rolled a death knight on Eldre’Thalas, levelled five levels to 60 and then boosted that to 90, with 600 BS/600 Engineering. But I thought about it and realized that I really have zero desire to play a death knight. I don’t enjoy tanking and I enjoy melee DPS even less than I enjoy tanking.

So I boosted the warlock to 90 (male dwarf, FYI) and have the plan to make him a blacksmith and an engineer.

Problem: OH MY GOD, THE MATS.

It was brought to my attention that, previously in the expansion, Blacksmithing was changed and one is now able to use just Ghost Iron Ore to level to 600.

Ultimately, though it was good to know, it was kind of useless because Engineering requires many of the same materials as Blacksmithing. Additionally, the total number of pieces of Ghost Iron Ore required is over ten thousand. Even though it’s abundant and I could buy a bunch I’m sure, if I had to go mining in the old worlds for things like Thorium and Cobalt for Engineering, then I decided to do it “old school” for Blacksmithing, too, by just going around and mining for both professions while I was going to be out there anyway.

Total pieces of various types of ore/stone needed for BOTH Blacksmithing AND Engineering the old-school way: 5593.

Total pieces of various types of ore/stone needed for BOTH Blacksmithing AND Engineering with the “new” BS Ghost Iron Ore method: ~12000.

… yeah, OLD SCHOOL IT IS.

So, I made a spreadsheet because things just got complicated. Of course, it doesn’t include things like “Alicite” or “Wool Cloth” type materials. I have most of that stuff just lying around in my many bank tabs of my bank guild. I just tracked the stones and ores. Of course, in order to count up all the ores I needed, I had to look up the mats at various guides and then MULTIPLIED the number of bars they were asking for by two, in many cases, in order to come up with how much ore I needed. That’s not the case with things like Thorium, but is the case with something like Adamantite. So I broke down the number of pieces of all the types of ore needed for Blacksmithing and then did the same for Engineering. Then I hauled out Altoholic and searched through all my toons (on that realm, excluding the Apotheosis guild bank) and put in a column stating how many of these things I already had. Turns out I had a lot of Rough Stone, Coarse Stone and even Dense Stone. I also had a lot of Iron Ore. Then I put in the “Total I Need” column at the end, showing me how many I needed to have IN MY BAGS after mining to ensure I’d have just about enough. In the case of Copper Ore, I had to mine 369 pieces. In the case of Thorium, 609 pieces.

So I designated Saturday, March 15th, as #MININGDAY2014. Here’s some of what I did.

bsengineering3
So. Much. Thorium.
bsengineering4
On to Fel Iron.
bsengineering5
Adamantite took a long time, but was marginally less awful than Fel Iron.
The worst, to date. Cobalt was painful.
The worst, to date. Cobalt was painful.

So I did everything through Fel Iron Ore on Saturday, did Adamantite and Cobalt on Sunday and plan to tackle the rest later this week, as time allows. I’ll also be spending some time on Timeless Isle, practicing being a warlock, once I get around to doing a bit more reading.

As an aside, I’m finding something really interesting is happening since I’ve been back: many people are acting as though I don’t know what in the hell I’m doing.

Guys, I may have taken a break for over a year (17 months minus a week in there around Christmas, actually) but it’s not like I don’t know how to play the game. Sure, I didn’t know about the Ghost Iron Ore method for Blacksmithing, but even still, I discounted that method once I had learned about it, because 10,000+ pieces of Ghost Iron Ore versus fewer than 6000 pieces of stuff just doesn’t make sense to me, especially because I had to mine some of the old stuff for Engineering anyhow.

And yet, 90% of the comments I’ve received about this have been challenging my logic for choosing to mine old-school materials.

I know people are mostly trying to help and some are confused by my choices, but for crying out loud, I didn’t play for 17 months. It’s not like I forgot everything I ever knew about the game. ;) It’s changed, but it hasn’t changed that much. And it’s not as though I don’t keep up on the vast majority of changes. Or as if I don’t do my own research on things. While it’s really interesting to be on the side of things where I have to look stuff up and I have to confirm various things, it’s less interesting to be repeatedly challenged by people who think they know better.

To be honest, it’s making me think a lot about how I’ve acted in the past, when I’ve been on top of my game and have known things with absolute conviction. While I maintain that any advice I’ve given out in the past about this game has, at the time, been accurate, I can’t help but wonder if newer people (or at least less-knowledgeable people) were frustrated with the advice I’d offered to them. I know that I’m right about certain things (old-school mats vs. Ghost Iron Ore in this particular situation, FOR ME, for instance), but part of what fatigued me over the course of my WoW career was the constant questioning of my decisions. Have I, at some point in the past, caused fatigue or frustration to someone else when I’ve genuinely been trying to help? I’m not talking about feedback to people in my raid groups or guilds, but random holy paladins who were, as I saw it, Doing Things Wrong in random dungeons in the past. Or hunters. I mean, okay, the melee hunters in this Wailing Caverns run I once was snarky to, I’m not apologetic about. At all. :P I mean people to whom I offered unsolicited advice.

I’m trying to figure out which scenario I’m running up against here…

1) People are offering me advice and are trying to be helpful, despite the fact that it is actually not going to help me in the least.
2) People are offering me advice and are trying to be helpful because they think they know better than I do.

While I’d really like to believe the majority of people offering advice fall into group 1, I can’t help but think there are at least a few in group 2 and possibly some people who are both.

Again, this is causing me to be introspective. Every time I’ve offered advice to someone, I have tried to be helpful and have tried to make sure that the advice WOULD be helpful. But I know that many times, I’ve seen the problem as a very basic “oh, they don’t know about X, Y or Z, LET ME INFORM THEM” problem, thus falling into category 2. Have I been wrong in the past? Is it a lot more nuanced than I’ve seen it? Should I have been less willing to offer advice until I was certain someone needed it? I don’t know. I can’t help but think that if I didn’t offer advice, then maybe no one else would have. I can’t help but think that if people keep their mouths shut and adopt an attitude of “not my problem”, the community suffers. And what if people who are obviously struggling don’t ask for advice? What if people just sit there quietly, unsure of what they’re doing, but remain silent rather than open their mouths and be thought a fool?

Even after an extended break, I didn’t think I’d ever be on the “oh, no, Kurn, do it THIS WAY” side of things again. But apparently, I am. It’s a weird thing to go from being someone who knows damn near everything there is to know about the game to, well, not knowing, for example, that Blacksmithing is available to level from 1-600 with just Ghost Iron Ore. The last time I was this out of touch with the game itself was before I hit 60 on my first toon. And I don’t know if I like it. No, okay, I don’t like it. And I definitely don’t like being challenged by others on my various decisions, but I’ve done that to others in the past. I’m not even sure that the random, unsolicited advice I’ve given in the past is altogether justifiable, although I would think that telling a death knight “tank” to use Blood Presence is, you know, something they should do regardless of how tactfully that may or may not be put…

I guess I’m just trying to work out how I feel about people’s recent behaviour towards me and how my reaction to that may mirror how other people may have felt when I gave those others unsolicited advice. I mean, I’m thankful that people want to help me out. I appreciate the sentiment. And I like talking to people about the game. But maybe doing it in a way that is less challenging and more helpful (but not condescending!) is a better way to get one’s point across. Yeah, I’m wondering how I could do that, myself. Certainly, it’s a fine line to tread, but I know that I’d be more receptive to advice given in such a manner and I imagine others would be, too.

Today, March 17th, 2014, is the last day that you’ll be able to buy Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider at its introductory price, by the way! The launch sale ends tomorrow, so don’t hesitate to check it out!

All KINDS of Warlords Stuff

I have not one, but two post about the Warlords of Draenor healing changes sitting in my drafts folder, but then I took a nap and when I woke up, the Warlords of Draenor pre-order (and included boost to 90) had gone live (along with the $60 paid version of the boost to 90).

It’s as though I have too many thoughts racing through my head to get any of them down, but, by golly, I’m going to try.

“On or Before December 20, 2014”

The thing that seems to be causing people’s heads to explode is that, on the pre-order page, it says quite clearly “Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014.”

First of all, they’ve already said that’s not the release date. They’ve said fall of 2014. So that’s somewhere between September 23, 2014 and, shockingly, December 21, 2014.  My money is on early fall, but they’re obviously being very Blizzard about things and hedging their bets, as per usual.

Still, people are upset because that means more than a full calendar year in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid instance.

This isn’t new, though. Icecrown Citadel, the final major raid of Wrath of the Lich King (no, Ruby Sanctum doesn’t fully count), launched on December 8, 2009. Cataclysm launched one year later, on December 7, 2010. Dragon Soul, the final major raid of Cataclysm, launched on November 29, 2011. Mists of Pandaria released, surprisingly, on September 25, 2012. Siege of Orgrimmar, the final major raid of Mists of Pandaria, launched on September 10, 2013.

Given that track record, it’s hardly news that people are going to spend a year with Siege of Orgrimmar as the “current” raid content. It is, however, quite disappointing to a lot of people, I would imagine. I would further submit that this is probably the entire reason why pre-ordering now gets you the level 90 boost immediately.

On the bright side, Blizzard typically has beta periods that last approximately 6 months. 6 months from now is, you know, September. In my opinion, this means we are very likely to see beta launching in the next month or two. So they’re going to try to keep players occupied with new toons at 90, the beta launch, plus their other properties. (D3’s expansion is coming out soon, Hearthstone is certain to be ending beta soon, Heroes of the Storm is on its way…)

I’m not surprised. I’m not even disappointed, although I know a lot of people are. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve not played much of this expansion and I’m fairly separated from what’s going on, or maybe it’s because I’m just that jaded, hah! I actually thought it wouldn’t be impossible to get things going for a June release, but apparently I was wrong. Ah, well. I do think it’ll be closer to late September than late December, but what do I know, eh? Clearly not a lot. ;)

Healing Changes in Warlords of Draenor

Honestly, over the last few days, I’ve written over 3500 words talking about these healing changes and I can’t make up my mind about them.

On the one hand, I’m in favour of absorbs being less potent (I’ve always hated absorbs and yes, I’ve played a holy paladin), I’m in favour of smart heals being less smart, I’m in favour of having time to make intelligent decisions about on whom to cast which spell.

I’m not in favour of the cast-times being added to Light of Dawn, Word of Glory/Eternal Flame, Wild Growth, Prayer of Mending (and other priest spells) and Uplift.

I’m not in favour of healers having to relearn how to do their jobs all over again. My previous drafts rambled a lot about this point, but here’s the thing: DPS basically still does today what DPS did when WoW launched. Tanks have changed a lot, I’ll grant you, especially with this whole “active mitigation” thing. But healers had to relearn how to heal for Cataclysm. I’m not saying that was a terrible thing or that healers didn’t need a serious retooling, but here we are, just 3ish years later, and they’re removing the “mid-level” heals (or whatever you want to call them). So much for the three-heal system. (Actually, I’m well-aware that the three-heal system was already out the window come the end of Cataclysm, with healers spamming AOE and smart heals, and I can’t imagine that’s gotten any BETTER throughout Mists.)

It’s not that healing doesn’t need to be reworked, because I’m certain it does. I just think it sucks that the burden of relearning falls to the healers. Again. As if relearning your specific class again doesn’t suck enough (and it can!), learning how healing works in a whole new system of healing can be painful. Blech. I read the healing changes and immediately did not want to heal, period.

Out of the many words I’ve written on the subject, perhaps the most poignant (for me) were those that made me see that perhaps I’m just too old for this stuff. I mean, not necessarily because I’m old (because I’m not, shut up!), but because I’m weary. Part of the reason I stopped playing is because rolling with Blizzard’s punches just got really exhausting after a certain point. After seven years of adapting to every change and all the retuning and retooling and redesigning, I was just tired. Heck, I still feel tired. It used to energize me to know that changes were on the horizon. I’d jump at the chance to learn anything new.

But I just… don’t, anymore. That lack of passion, lack of desire to learn, it kind of indicates to me that maybe I’ve truly outgrown the game…

But You Just Pre-Ordered! WTF?

Warlords of Draenor Pre-order
… yeah, I did. Guilty as charged. I bought the pre-order for two main reasons:

  1. I’m going to at least check out the new expansion. That’s never been in doubt, even if my lifelong dream of getting server-first skinning has been crushed. I also had the money to pay for it now, so why not spend it now on something I know I’m going to want to have later?
  2. Even if I don’t play much for Warlords of Draenor, I want my stable of alts to be ready for the expansion for money-making purposes. (I’ve quite enjoyed having a stash of over 220,000 gold sitting there, ready for me if I ever wanted to come back and raid seriously again.)

I’m also seriously considering resubbing for a bit, but I wouldn’t expect that to last through to release. Maybe I’ll spend the next month or two playing around a bit and then let things lapse before coming back at the 6.0 patch, at which point I will endeavour to learn how to heal all over again, unless it really makes me want to cry. (Which is a possibility.) Still, I feel as though I owe the community at least a 6.0 holy paladin primer. We’ll see.

That said, because I pre-ordered, I have a shiny new boost to 90 I could use, if I resubbed, and I am incapable of deciding. Here’s a poll. Vote for your favourite options and I promise to take them into consideration.

On Leadership

I have a staggering number of drafts in my draft folder, but at 3:53am, I find that I’m inspired to write a post about something that doesn’t exactly come up in any of the 30+ drafts of half-written blog posts.

That is leadership.

Brutall, the GM of Static of Arthas (H-US), has this little YouTube channel and did a video about me and my guides today. I initially wrote to Brutall a couple of months ago (good grief, that long ALREADY?) because I had started watching his videos and I knew that this random bald, bearded dude on the Internet (with an odd affinity for tacos) was on the same page that I was. I’m sure we have differences of opinion about small things, but so very much of what he was saying in his videos was stuff I had either said myself or had written down either on this blog or in my guides.

Today’s video that he released rendered me actually speechless. ME. I know. Inconceivable to think of me as “speechless”, right?! The video was exceedingly kind and positive. It helps that he called me a “young lady”. I don’t think he knows I’m older than he is… ;) But, honestly, I feel honoured that Brutall felt that we ARE on the same page when it comes to World of Warcraft and raiding and leading, because this guy is so charismatic and cheerful and positive and insert all kinds of awesome adjectives here. I feel we are united in our goal to help people out by leading them through problems, helping them to avoid common pitfalls and generally, just to be better at what they aim to do.

In the video, Brutall says that you can recognize a good leader by their passion. Someone who’s genuine, who cares about what they do and where they invest their time. (I feel awkward repeating that because the implication is obviously that I am those things… but bear with me.)

While I like to think that I’ve been a good leader over the years, I wanted to say something that I’m not entirely sure I’ve discussed adequately here before.

I was not born to be a good leader. I learned to be a good leader.

I had the good fortune to go to an all-girls’ private school for the majority of my time in school. Among those people, my classmates, I was pretty much the least ambitious, the least-willing “leader”. I was somewhat apathetic. I didn’t join any sports teams, I was only in a couple of clubs… I didn’t stand out. I didn’t want to stand out. In my final year of high school (that’s Grade 11 up here in the province of Quebec), just about everyone in the grade was given a position of some kind, to better hone their keen leadership skills.

Folks, I dreaded that part of Grade 11. I didn’t want to be a leader. I didn’t want to be the yearbook editor, I didn’t want to be the music head (which was a position my amazingly talented best friend filled). I didn’t want to be a prefect or a house official. I didn’t want to run the school paper. I didn’t want to do any of those things. I ended up being the Head Ambassador, because I was pretty darn passionate about my school, despite not wanting to do a lot of extra-curriculars. I’d spent 11 years at that school and was a “lifer” and, to this day, I still love my old school. So they made me the Head Ambassador which basically meant I organized about 50 girls (Ambassadors) from Grades 9 and 10. I had to organize which girls gave tours to prospective students and their parents and there were also some points where I, along with the Head Prefect, would go to events to represent the school. I’d served as an Ambassador in the new program the year before and was fine talking about my school, my second home, for 30-45 minutes, but managing people? Being a representative for my school? C’mon, now. Ugh.

Aside from the fact that I got to fill in on tours for Ambassadors who were out sick (I missed SO much French class in Grade 11, no joke), it wasn’t so bad. But I still graduated from school kind of wishing that someone else had done it. There was stress involved, lots of time involved… But I did it. And I did it well.

Kurn, seriously, wtf does this have to do with leadership?!

Right, right, sorry. But the backstory was important. :)

I learned, in Grade 11, that I could do a job when I had no one else upon whom I could rely to get the job done. I learned that I could do it well, too. I would just have preferred to have followed a “real” leader around. Years later, I would look back at being Head Ambassador and term myself “a reluctant leader”.

Guys, my entire experience in World of Warcraft is exactly that — me being a reluctant leader. I didn’t want to be an assistant raid leader when my guild first started dipping into Zul’Gurub, but my guild master was relying on me and others weren’t stepping up. So I did. When that very same guild master abandoned our guild, I stepped up. (I maintain that Majik tricked me into stepping up, but he refuses to admit this even years later.) When we formed Apotheosis on June 1 of 2007, we made our buddy Toga be the GM. I assumed half of the raid leader responsibilities and later, the healing lead duties. And later still, when Toga had to step down, I stepped up.

When Apotheosis crashed and burned in early Wrath of the Lich King, I moved to another guild and, within two months or so, I was suddenly an officer and eventually the healing lead. In my next guild, my RL Friend the Resto Druid was my healing lead but then she had to step away for something like three or four months, and GUESS WHO became the unofficial new healing lead? Yeah, that was me.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, I keep stepping up when I need to. To this day, I maintain that as long as I am being adequately led, I will be more than happy to follow. But when I think about it, what is it that leaders do? They care enough about the various situations they’re in to identify problems, then come up with solutions those problems and then execute them. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but they care enough to try to fix things when they see something’s not working.

It ties in with what Brutall was saying in his video: leaders are passionate people, who put in the time and effort to do what they really care about.

Anyone can be a good leader. It’s easier for the more extroverted and charismatic among us (cough, Brutall, cough, Majik), but by nature, I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t lead a raid. It just means it took practice. It took work. Like being a kick-ass raider, being a leader, of any kind, requires some effort. Those who want to lead their team (hockey team, raid team, it’s all team stuff!) to victory will give it their best shot, because they care.

My guides give you a lot of solid info, a lot of practical “do this if this happens” stuff, but one of the most important lessons to learn from me isn’t what to say or do in various situations. What I really want you to walk away with is the knowledge that you can absolutely be a great leader, that no tiny subsection of the population is BORN into leadership. It simply requires passion and it requires a lot of effort. But ultimately, if you care enough, if you are genuinely passionate about things, it hardly seems like work at all. :)

 

Crazy or Crazy Like a Fox?

As North American realms came back online today, after the application of Patch 5.4.7, a new option became available for a short while: Boost a Character to 90. The price was set at $60 USD.

As I understand it, this option was not supposed to go live, especially since it vanished quickly thereafter. Still, it certainly gives one food for thought.

1) Is $60 a reasonable price to bring a character up to level 90?

Obviously, this depends on several factors.

a) Do you have a lot of disposable income? If so, $60 is going to seem a lot more reasonable to you than someone who only just manages to pay $15/month for their subscription to the game. It also means that you’re likely to see fewer new-to-90 characters, which may (or may not) be a way for Blizzard to throttle the number of people who have no idea what on earth they’re doing at max level.

b) Is the character level 1 or level 60? Level 70? Level 80? Level 85? Obviously, if the character is brand-new, you’re getting more bang for your buck. 90 levels divided by $60 is basically 1.5 levels per dollar. But what if you, like me, stopped playing regularly after Cataclysm and your characters are mostly level 85? 5 levels divided by $60 is $12 per level! That’s the point where I’d be all “well, eff that, I’m going to go spend 12 hours or so and get to 90 on my own!” Actually, I’d probably hit that point around level 70 or so, but that’s just me.

That said, time is money, friend, the goblins tell us in-game. What’s that time worth to you? That’s what it ultimately comes down to. For myself, I would have expected something around $25-$30 USD. I know that I would have paid easily that much to ding a few characters to max level, but remember, this is only max-level for a short period of time! The boost-to-90 option will still be available once Warlords of Draenor comes out, I imagine. Will there be a boost to 100? Maybe, but maybe not. You’re not paying for a max-level character for Warlords. You’re paying for a level 90 and, in just a few short months (I’m still saying June 10th +/- 2 weeks), that’s not going to be max-level anymore. Does that devalue it for you, going forward? Should it? Perhaps.

2) Did they mean to allow the option to be available?

I don’t think it’s impossible that this is a way for Blizzard to gauge reaction on a price point. Most people’s reactions seem to be “that’s way too much, they’re crazy!” Could it be that they “accidentally” left the option in the build, gave people enough time to see it and then hotfixed it out? If so, then perhaps they’re crazy… like a FOX. All of this market research! Not to mention all of this buzz. And potential buzz if they drop the price later on when it actually goes live…

Then again, I’m not sure this is the case, because there were rumours of people getting a question about this in a Blizzard survey/email or something a while back. Still, nothing can prepare someone for the reaction of announcing something to the world, not even surveys and polls. Maybe this was their way of doing that. Maybe not.

3) But seriously, $60???

I keep coming back to that price point because I think it’s somewhat ridiculous. The way I understand it, and I could be wrong, is that people started talking about buying multiple licenses for Warlords of Draenor in order to get multiple characters to 90. If the average price of a World of Warcraft Expansion is somewhere in the realm of $40 USD or thereabouts, then why price the level 90 boost to be ~150% of that? If kept at this price, a level 90 boost would be the most expensive purchase you can make for your character, exceeding even the realm-and-faction transfer fee of a $55 USD, combined.

4) The conversation has changed.

Hilariously, the conversation regarding 90 boosts, say, two months ago, was the fear that people who didn’t know what they were doing would infiltrate a highly-skilled playerbase. Ignoring the fact, of course, that much of the playerbase isn’t all that skilled to begin with, the conversation on whether or not people should be able to boost their characters to 90 has now been replaced by why does it cost so much? which neatly removes a lot of controversy amongst people who were concerned that the overall level of player ability would drop. (I’m still concerned about that, because I like thinking about how things affect the overall community.) The controversy now is “if I want to buy a level boost, it should be affordable, it shouldn’t be the equivalent of FOUR MONTHS’ worth of WoW!”

Lots of food for thought. We have a lot to look forward to on this subject, as well as the pre-order and, of course, beta testing for Warlords of Draenor. It’s going to be an exciting next few months, that’s for sure.

Speaking of excitement… My newest guide, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider is launching next Tuesday, February 25th! And don’t forget to join in the Twitter Q&A on Sunday, February 23rd at 3pm ET (noon Pacific) with the #AskKurn hashtag. :)

Level 90 Boost on Pre-Order

Over the years, I’ve been, shall we say, less than adoring of the way Blizzard has handled a variety of things. Blizzard has made a lot of mistakes, in my opinion.

Giving out the free level 90 boost at the time of pre-order is not a mistake. It’s pure genius.

I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? There are no new races and no new classes coming out with Warlords of Draenor, so there’s no death knights or monks, draenei, blood elves, worgen, goblins or pandaren to “save” your boost for, so why not try to stave off end-of-expansion malaise by offering a free boost to level 90?

While I don’t have any hard numbers to prove it, I think everyone has anecdotal data that shows that the last six-to-twelve months of any expansion leads to boredom in World of Warcraft. While I’ve never quit playing during slow periods (I’ve managed to keep raiding and such), I’ve seen countless raiders in my guild just stop playing because they feel as though there’s nothing else to do. Of course, that’s kind of ridiculous when you think about how much content World of Warcraft has to offer. (Hint: there’s a lot.)

One of the things you can do is, obviously, roll a new toon and level it. A lot of people enjoy the levelling experience. While I’m mostly “over” levelling, I do enjoy the initial grind to the level cap on my hunter. But that’s usually just 5-10 levels. The idea of rerolling, from the start, going through Teldrassil, Dun Morogh, Goldshire… it all kind of makes me want to cry. If I were bored by the game, the last thing I would personally want to do is go through the starting zones yet again. (Even though they were changed somewhat in Cataclsym, the idea of going through Goldshire again makes me ill.)

So why not remove levelling from the equation entirely in the time prior to Warlords of Draenor?

With the Timeless Isle (or the Island of Phat Lewtz, whichever you prefer), it’s ridiculously easy to gear up. My hunter is sitting at a 503 equipped item level after spending less than a week going through various LFRs and spending a few hours out on the Timeless Isle.

The idea of getting a free express pass to max level in the dying months of Mists of Pandaria is a stroke of genius, just to continue to engage the playerbase. Even if it only ekes out another month or two of enjoyment (and thus, subscription), it’s totally worth it for Blizzard to allow people to boost to max-level, even if it’s just for a short period of time. (And perhaps, one might imagine, this experiment will allow Blizzard to gauge how they and their customers feel about paying to get to max level, skipping the levelling process entirely!)

I haven’t even touched on the fact that Blizzard has confirmed that they’re thinking about ways to get you other boosts to 90 for other characters, without buying multiple copies of the expansion, which, I would imagine, is going to be another bit of revenue for them.

So if boosts are going to engage a bored player for another month or two (at minimum, I would imagine), thus staving off end-of-expansion malaise, how about all the revenue they’re going to get for the expansion several months before it even comes out? You only get the boost on pre-order, after all. That means a bunch of people, God only knows how many, are going to happily plunk down their $39.99 or whatever, perhaps even before we have a release date for the expansion (my money is still on June 10th, give or take two weeks)! You can probably include me in those numbers as well, even though I’m still not resubbed and I still don’t know what character I would boost to 90…

Some may be wondering how I feel this will affect the playing community… and I’m going to say that this is probably going to have less of a noticeable effect than if it happened all at the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Why? Well, first of all, even though I suspect there will be a large wave of freshly boosted 90s as soon as pre-ordering is possible, they’re going to be dinged to max level amongst groups of players who already know and outgear most of the fresh-at-90 content. This is in opposition to a large population of players who probably don’t know what they’re doing being unleashed upon the regular population who might know what they’re doing, but are struggling to level up to the next level cap. Anyone remember how crappy heroic Stonecore or heroic Shadowfang Keep or heroic Deadmines were before people understood the dungeons, the abilities, the pulls? Gear helps, so boosted characters will be able to gear up relatively quickly, if my hunter’s experiences over the holidays were any indication, and chances are they’ll LFG into a group where at least one person knows what they’re doing… Honestly, I think dungeons and early LFRs will be okay (not 100% pleasant, but when are dungeons and LFRs guaranteed to be pleasant endeavours?) even with people dinging max level instantly. Certainly, the flood will be less noticeable than having a bunch of new 90s unleashed on the population and learning their abilities as they are also grouped with random people who are trying to get through the levelling dungeons.

So, really, this is a huge win for Blizzard. They get:

– more monthly revenue from otherwise bored players who might have quit for a bit before the expansion comes out
– more money upfront for the expansion than they would have garnered otherwise, perhaps
– perhaps more revenue by virtue of offering a boost-to-90 option
– valuable data on how people react to being able to skip the entire levelling process

Plus the players don’t have to slog through 90 levels of quests, dungeons and exploring before they can actually play “the real game”.

(Note that I do find some use for the levelling process, I really do, but I’ve done it a lot and I have no desire to revisit the lowbie experience.)

Well-played, Blizzard. Well-played.

What do you think? Is this good? Bad? Brilliant? Stupid? Tell me which character of yours will get your level 90 boost!

Paying the Way to Dinging

Man, you play one week of WoW and you have blogging material coming out your ears!

Today’s topic is about that survey some players are getting, about how much you might be willing to pay to have a character instantly boosted to Level 90 (in Warlords of Draenor, where the level cap is 100).

During this year’s BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that purchasing Warlords of Draenor would come with one free character boost to 90. Why 90? Because that would enable you to skip all the previous content and jump right into content that comes with the expansion and, ultimately, that’s what they want you to do — get through previous content and be able to play with your friends faster if you ever took a break from the game.

So there’s a survey going out that’s asking people what they think a fair price is for the expansion (with and without the one character boost to 90) and what they think a fair price is for the boost alone.

Naturally, I have Things to Say. ;)

On the One Hand: No. Just… No.

While I do think there are some good points (which I will explore below), let me first tell you the story of Gneiss.

My brother, Fog, played a resto druid for most of Vanilla. Actually, he played a feral/bear druid and then was forced to swap specs to heal for raiding (as was the way of things back then) by the guild he joined. In order to avoid being asked to heal MORE often, he decided to level a dwarf priest (fear ward!) for fun, not yet understanding that he’d still have to heal as a priest at 60. So he played the priest, Gneiss, as his alt, playing as shadow, primarily. He soon tired of people asking him to heal in groups (this was pre-LFG, remember), so he abandoned Gneiss and started playing Slovotsky, a rogue. He loved his rogue and got him to 60 and geared him pretty well and showed up to some raids as a rogue (although he’d usually heal if asked). Gneiss lay abandoned and unused.

When Burning Crusade came around, my brother was focused entirely on his rogue, abandoning his druid, Fog, and never touching his priest.

Meanwhile, I was interested in learning more about the priest. So I took the priest and levelled Gneiss (who I name-changed to something else) to 70 and spent a lot of time running around Nagrand mining ore and collecting motes of air (Gneiss was a miner/engineer) after my raids, chatting with my Real Life Friend the Resto Druid as she wiped her way through Black Temple and Sunwell progression.

I didn’t do a whole lot with the priest, although I joined a guild for a short period of time and did a tiny bit of Tier 4 raiding as a holy priest.

Still, I never felt as though I really understood the class. So when Wrath of the Lich King had been out for a while, my brother reclaimed his priest, but then promptly abandoned it again to level a paladin tank. And, naturally, this meant that I was going to level a character with him. As I already had a paladin, a shaman and a druid, I elected to level a priest. We dungeoned our way through everything together and eventually both got to 80.

I thought I knew “enough” about priests during the bit of time I did stuff (apart from mining and such in Nagrand) in Burning Crusade, but I hadn’t really levelled the toon. My brother had. He had learned some important bits that I felt I didn’t know. I know I didn’t know that Dispel Magic was able to be used offensively until someone informed me of it. (Should read tooltips…)

I never really felt “prepared” on Gneiss. Not the way that I felt “prepared” on Kurn or on Madrana. But when I created my own priest, that sense of preparation came back. It’s as though the levelling process allowed me to really acclimate to the character and learn how to play it better than when I’d basically taken over my brother’s priest somewhere in the 40s or something.

So while I find the idea of instantly dinging 90 to be fairly appealing, I can’t help but think what it means for the community at large. Is the community going to suffer because of brand-new 90s running around who don’t know how to play their new classes at all? I can only guess that the answer is “yes”.

On the Other Hand: Hells to the Yes!

At present, I have several characters in World of Warcraft spread out over three main servers (Eldre’Thalas, Skywall, Proudmoore).

90s: Kurn & my shaman alt.
85s: Madrana, Baby Pally Madrana, mage, disc priest, guardian/resto druid
80: Prot warrior
58: Death knight (bank alt)
53: Mage
5: Rogue (bank alt)

And then I have a bunch of level 1s for storage/bank alt goodness.

I still don’t know who is going to receive my level 90 boost for Warlords of Draenor, but it might be the prot warrior (since I literally keep her around for inscription/profession stuff). Or maybe I’ll roll a DK on Eldre’Thalas and boost that to 90 and pick up engineering/blacksmithing, which are the only two professions I don’t have covered. However, it’s clear that I have a lot of characters who would greatly benefit from being bumped up to 90 instantly. And I still think it would be hilarious if my rogue bank alt hit level 90. Hilarious. He’s been level 5 for, oh, seven years. And he’s only level 5 because that was the level you needed to be to pick up a profession. So I picked up enchanting and was able to disenchant just about anything — until they put in a level restriction for the professions, meaning he will forever have enchanting no higher than 75 unless I ding him.

Anyhow, I digress.

For the experienced player, perhaps, a level 90 boost isn’t terrible. But even then, I wouldn’t queue up as, say, a death knight tank if I boosted to 90 on that character, because I wouldn’t want to inflict myself on others.

Other people are perhaps not quite so polite.

But would I make use of a pay-to-ding feature? To avoid going through umpteen expansions? Almost certainly. Hell, back in 2010, I was writing about how I would pay Blizzard $25 to start a toon at 68

It’s not an elegant solution to the fact that you have to go through Vanilla content (1-60), BC content (60-70), Wrath content (70-80), Cata content (80-85) and then MoP content (85-90) before you’re ready to participate in Warlords of Draenor, but it’s a solution. There are two kinds of people I think would take advantage of this: the new people who want to play with friends who are already there and people like me who have been through the other expansions’ content so often they want to cry at the thought of saving Corki again or trudging through Grizzly Hills once more or dealing with Vashj’ir yet again or even slogging through the Dread Wastes even one more time.

So is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Selfishly, I think it’s wonderful. If I were playing consistently and that was available, I would probably take advantage of it more often than not, were it something able to be purchased from the Blizzard store. If I ever wanted to roll a monk (not really something that’s interested me), that’s certainly something I would do.

But as I explained above, I do think it’s not going to be great for the community as a whole. Will it be good for Blizzard and for their bottom line? Sure. People get to play with friends, people can pay for a shortcut to the current expansion, all that jazz, it’s great. People are happy they don’t have to do Borean Tundra (and let me tell you, there is a LOT boring about Borean!) and Blizzard is happy to take their money. Everyone wins, right?

But I’m not convinced that’s the case. I’m concerned that it will lower the overall skill of the playerbase which, to be honest, is already pretty poor, when you look at people in random, transient content (LFG, LFR). I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but in one of my LFR adventures last week, there was another survival hunter in the raid with me… who used Explosive Shot a single time. Once.

I would argue that, as painful and tiring as the slog is, levelling is worth the time and effort if only to learn how to play your class.

The trouble is, of course, that people aren’t bothering to do that now. They have 90 levels in which they get to learn how to play and they still don’t know how to play.

It’s not a “casual” vs. “hardcore” thing, either. We’re talking about the core ability for a survival hunter. Not using Explosive Shot is, well, not how the spec was meant to be played. It’s like Cory Stockton said, about the talent trees when they announced Mists of Pandaria, a fury warrior who didn’t take the Raging Blow talent wasn’t being unique, but was being a bad fury warrior. Now you have people who have the abilities given to them, baked into the specs themselves, and they’re still not using them.

Is boosting these people to 90, throwing them into the deep end, really going to make those people worse players? I’m not sure that’s possible. But what boosting people to 90 will do is it’ll inflict them upon other people more quickly. Hit 90, start questing, queue up for new dungeons and then wipe your group because you are doing 300 DPS instead of 3000 DPS. Or, worse, they queue up as tanks and healers (for the faster queue) and then wipe their groups because they don’t know how to hold aggro on more than one mob at a time or don’t know how to cast on someone. (The latter does happen, even now. Trust me.)

I guess what I’m saying here is that the underlying problem, which has been increasingly apparent ever since LFG came to be in Wrath of the Lich King, is that people don’t know (or care) how to play their classes and these people are being let loose upon the game. Boosting to 90 will be incredibly beneficial to a lot of people, believe me, but, especially at the start of the expansion when so many people will have that boost to 90, I expect to see a lot of failure stemming from fresh 90s.

I don’t think it’s a problem that’s easily solvable, per se, but one way it can be addressed is to force the boosted 90s to pass Silver Proving Grounds for any spec they’re going to queue up for, forcing them to repeat it for a spec they haven’t queued up for yet. Silver is something most people should be able to easily attain and since Proving Grounds were made for 90s, it’s perfect for fresh, boosted-to-90 characters. Let them quest alone, sure, but make them prove themselves before inflicting them on other people who play the game. Even if the person is level 96 before they queue up, scale up the Proving Grounds for that level and make them work for it a little bit.

I’m someone who spent something like six months straight doing a daily heroic dungeon on Madrana once that feature launched in Wrath of the Lich King. I would queue up as a tank AND a healer (because I had enough gear and knowledge at the time to be able to tank or heal “heroic” dungeons adequately) and would invariably have anywhere between 1 and 3 people who didn’t know what they were doing. I’ve done my fair share of random dungeons throughout Cata. I did a bunch of LFRs back when that was first introduced. I’ve just spent a week doing a bunch of LFRs of MoP content. In short, I’ve spent a lot of time playing with random people in this game and, honestly, I’m not looking forward to fresh 90s who don’t know what they’re doing at the start of Warlords of Draenor. If Blizzard isn’t willing to educate them, I hope they’ll use the existing technology to restrict people from inflicting themselves on others. It’s an artificial barrier to entry, but if you just skipped 90 levels, can you really complain about the idea of doing proving grounds to show you know how to do your role appropriately? I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I would welcome the challenge, myself. If that (and, say, $25) was the price to pay to skip 90 levels? Bring it on!

What are your thoughts about boosting to 90? What repercussions do you think this could have on the larger community? Would you pay for a boost?

LFR Tales: Mogu'shan Vaults 1 & 2

Early in the morning on Tuesday, December 24th, 2013, I took advantage of a seven-day free trial for World of Warcraft that was in my Referrals and Rewards section of my Battle.Net account. My unofficial goal for myself was to gear myself up and go check out the raid content (LFR versions at any rate). I wanted to see each boss once, with a specific focus on wanting to see Garrosh defeated, because I’ve hated that dude since the Faction Champions fight back in Trial of the (Grand) Crusader.

By Tuesday afternoon, I’d gotten a couple of pieces of gear from the Timeless Isle. Those pieces brought my ilvl up from ~458 past ~463, so I was then able to queue for Mogu’shan Vaults.

I will preface this by saying that I did absolutely no research for MSV LFRs. None whatsoever. I knew bits and pieces about the fights (I knew about Elegon’s platform, for example) but I went in pretty blind, which is not typical of me. I like to be 100% prepared and ready to go. I just couldn’t make myself go through raid strats for entry-level raids, though. At worst, I figured I could read a quick guide if there were issues during the instance.

To be clear, I don’t recommend going in blind. It added a certain degree of panic to which I am not accustomed…

Anyhow, we walk into MSV and clear trash and then, all of a sudden, we kill a boss.

What?

Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t realize The Stone Guard was actually a boss fight. I thought it was slightly more difficult trash. No ready-check, no pause, nothing from the raid group to indicate it was a boss fight. I didn’t use a single cooldown.

So that was my experience with LFR Stone Guard. The fight lasted 2:36.

On to Feng the Accursed.

To be honest, even reading a description of this boss, I don’t have much recollection as to which boss this actually is! I do remember getting Wildfire Spark once and running away from people because, hey, if you’re stacked up and you get a debuff on you, you PROBABLY want to move away. So I did. Other than that, I just gotta say that Deadly Boss Mods is wicked for someone who doesn’t know what in the hell they’re doing. Great warnings. It’s not as though I never used DBM before or anything, but I certainly gained a new appreciation for it.

I basically treated the fight as a tank and spank with some crap on the ground. I took the third-least amount of damage from Epicenter, and when I noticed it was nature damage, I instinctively looked for Aspect of the Wild and then remembered they tossed that out (along with the pally auras). Oh, and despite not taking much fire or epicenter damage, I took a crapton of damage from Arcane Velocity. Whoopsiedoodle.

All-told, not a particularly memorable encounter.

Then it was Gara’jal the Spiritbinder.

For various reasons, I was vaguely aware that there was a secondary realm in this fight. However, I never visited it. I wasn’t banished there or anything, so… I didn’t click on a totem to go to the other realm. I also never got the Voodoo Doll thing. So I just sat back and shot at the boss. I have to admit that I quite enjoyed being the noob, for once, and neglecting to do anything of importance in a raid environment. Over the years that I raided, I did some of the tough jobs, I always knew what was going on and it was really nice to just sit back and fire arrows at a boss without too much concern for anything else.

On the other hand, my pride is somewhat damaged now because I feel silly talking about how I was “that scrub”, but hey, wait ’till you read up on my encounters in Siege. Lordy…

I logged my adventures in MSV 1 and looked at the WoL parses (although I plan to upload all my logs to Warcraft Logs to play around, soon!) and sighed heavily because I’d ranked on Feng and Gara’jal. Me. Ranking. After not playing for a year. Obviously, Gara’jal is because I didn’t actually enter the spirit world, but there’s no earthly reason that I should have ranked on Feng.

I looked at the other hunter in the raid and, to prevent public shaming I won’t link to their armory, but:

470 item level (439 equipped — no cloak! WTF?! And not just “no legendary cloak”, I’m saying NO CLOAK AT ALL.)
2 empty glyph slots (both major)
6 unenchanted items
7 empty sockets in 4 items
missing Living Steel Belt Buckle
No items have been reforged
This character doesn’t use any gems.
Hit: +4.66%
Expertise: 2.28%

There are two small positives to this guy:

a) At least he’s wearing all mail.
b) At least all the gear is agility stuff and not, say, intellect mail.

Oh. And he was Beast Mastery. Know how many times he cast Kill Command throughout the whole instance? Five times. And they all missed because he’s nowhere near hit or expertise capped. And yes. He was in for all three bosses.

On the bright side, even after a year of not playing, I was not as bad as that guy. (It’s a personal point of pride for me to be hit-capped and now, I guess, expertise-capped, even though I hate expertise and I’m sort of glad those two stats are vanishing in Warlords of Draenor.)

Anyway, moving on, that was on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t play much, if at all, on Christmas Day, but spent some time playing on Boxing Day (Thursday, the 26th). Among my adventures, I did the back-half of Mogu’shan Vaults.

I should note, at this point, that there were no wipes in my first-half. It was remarkably smooth. Not exactly the case with the back-half… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Spirit Kings

I think Spirit Kings went pretty well. I avoided damage from Flanking Orders, Massive Attacks and Annihilate. Only took two hits of Volley. (I miss Volley…) While Flanking Orders was kind of fun to run around (Disengage is amazing), there wasn’t a lot to this fight. Sure, more abilities retained means more chaos, but none of it was really chaotic to begin with. Again, I know that this is LFR we’re talking about, so I shouldn’t be so cocky, but honestly, this was kind of a yawner. A six-minute yawner.

Elegon

Thus commenced the wipes. And, by the way, Ellegon is the name of a dragon in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. I loved the hell out of those books and it’s hard to imagine that Elegon is not an homage to Ellegon.

Anyhow, the wipes started here. Not surprisingly, we wiped the first time because a bunch of people fell in the hole. I have to say that I’m really pleased to see that there’s an actual spell that kills you (Obliteration) as opposed to “fall damage”. Good job, Blizz! Makes diagnosing wipes a lot easing.

The second time, only two people (instead of like, 10) died to falling, so we were able to get through the fight pretty easily. Kill adds/pylon things. Don’t drop to your death. I’m probably missing something (although I got the whole buff/no buff thing), but this seemed pretty simple even for an LFR fight.

Ranked pretty high for this, compared to the other fights in the last LFR, but that just makes me sad. I’m assuming that half the reason I ranked is because I didn’t plummet to my death. Sigh.

Will of the Emperor

Well, I screwed up which adds to kill first. I focused on Rage, then Strength, then Courage, just because I was flying blind. I reasoned that Rage sounded worse! Lordy. Too funny. That said, I only took two Devastating Arcs. Others took 20+. I feel okay about myself now. I’m assuming that it’s okay I focused on just one of Jan-xi and Qin-xi, since they share a health pool. It just took us one attempt to down this fight.

All told, not a particularly exciting fight from the perspective of a hunter in LFR. And I ranked again. Terrible. Undergeared, rusty hunters like myself should not rank, especially when they don’t know the fights at all.

In Conclusion

The LFR version of MSV bored me. I liked seeing the Elegon fight due to my affinity for Ellegon and that series of books, but most of the fights were boring to me. Again, I know, it’s LFR. LFR does not represent Flex, Normal or Heroic. I get it. I’m sure the fights were ten times more interesting on actual difficulty levels.

That said, none of them really left much of an impression on me. I struggled to remember which fight was which as I wrote this, so I looked them all up and went “oh, right, THAT one”. Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar fare better in my memory, I think, but much of T14 seemed meh.

Further, this summary was probably not terribly entertaining, but there are more summaries coming. In the meantime, tell me about your impressions of MSV, on any difficulty! Did you like the instance overall? What about your LFR experiences there? Anyone as bad as my fellow hunter? Share your tales of woe!

Seven Days in WoW

A week ago, I took advantage of the seven-day free trial that was tucked away in the Referral and Rewards section of my Battle.Net account and returned to the World of Warcraft for the first time in thirteen months.

What did I do? Well, I geared up my hunter pretty well, hah! I had started somewhere in the realm of ~458 as an average equipped item level (I’m not 100% sure, but I know it was below 463 and that seems about right) and finished the week with an average ilvl of 503 equipped. I replaced all my greens (!) and blues and got the Mystically Epic achievement. (I actually think that it took me longer than this during Cataclysm for Kurn to hit Cataclysmically Epic because it took me FOREVER to get a bow for Kurn in the last expansion.)

As I said in a previous post, I spent a lot of time on the Island of Free Lewts and then a lot of time queueing for various LFRs. The sort of unofficial goal I had for myself was to do all the raid content on LFR. Tier 14 went pretty well, Tier 15, not so much. I only saw half of the instance, because my priority was to see all of Siege of Orgrimmar’s content, so as soon as I hit 496, I moved on from Throne of Thunder (with every intention of going back to see the back half!) and started queueing for Siege. In two days, I did a ridiculous amount of SoO queueing and very few runs where we actually did anything. Countless groups fell apart before me, leaving me stuck and frustrated, because you can’t queue for the next segment when you haven’t gotten the achievement for the first segment. Frustrating, but understandable if you’re thinking about not letting people access the final bosses when they don’t have the first clue as to what they’re doing.

It took me two days of LFRs to get through all of Siege of Orgrimmar. My trial expired around 2:30am ET this morning (Tuesday) and do you know at what time I actually defeated Garrosh? 1:57am. CUTTING IT A BIT CLOSE, AREN’T WE, KURN? Granted, the denial of service attack that brought Battle.Net down earlier in the day didn’t help, but I only had two more LFRs to do and I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

Silly Kurn. I forgot the cardinal rule of LFR: the later in the week it is, the worse the groups probably are. I went through THREE LFRs before I got one that could do the Spoils of Pandaria fight (which, btw, seems like the stupidest fight I’ve seen thus far).

Still, I defeated Garrosh, just in time, and it was pretty satisfying, even though it was on LFR. I’ve disliked Garrosh since Faction Champs, so that was nice. ;)

I’ll talk more about raiding in another post, because I do want to talk about my experiences in each LFR I did, but I did some other stuff, too.

I did Bronze and Silver Damage Proving Grounds. I tried Gold a few times, but I’m still pretty rusty and hadn’t set up TidyPlates for mobs and such. As such, some of the AOE-heavy rounds messed me up because I was too far out for the standard nameplates to show up (hunters are a ranged class!) and there was so much crap on the ground (freezing trap, explosive trap) that I could hardly see anything in the center of the room. I also ended up trying to do it as Marksmanship so that I could have access to Silencing Shot.

This brings me to a hilarious story, which I’m sure everyone will enjoy, mostly because it’s somewhat humiliating.

When I logged in to the game, there was an empty spot on my bars. Here’s what my main action bar on Kurn looked like when I stopped playing in November of 2012.

emptyslot0
You can clearly see Silencing Shot there at number six. (Ignore that there’s nothing at the – position.)

So I logged in and… what the eff? Silencing Shot is gone.

emptyslot1
But it was there in my Marks spec. So I figured “oh, they took Silencing Shot out of talents, explaining the free talent point, and gave it to Marks and only to Marks.”

Kids, this is where reading up on class changes comes in supremely handy. At no point did I think “oh, I should go read up about Silencing Shot’s change”. Nope. Instead, there I am in guild chat, chatting with a DPS warrior raider and a hunter who was in the guild as a friend rank. And the following conversation occurs:

Me: I miss Readiness. And Silencing Shot. (Wasn’t Silencing Shot a talent available to everyone at some point?)
Warrior: It was.
Me: That explains why my 6 button on my bars is empty.
Warrior: All hunters got was Counter Shot which functions as an interrupt which is all I cared about really.

I paused. My jaw dropped. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I opened up my spellbook for the first time all week and found an entry for something called Counter Shot.

Me: Holy shit.
Hunter: I didn’t know Counter Shot existed until 3 days ago
Me: Guess who just learned about Counter Shot.
Me: haha
Hunter: lololol
Warrior: Marks just gets Silencing Shot, something something balance specs in pvp something something

Worst of all, I had this conversation on Monday afternoon. I’d been playing for six days without opening my spellbook or questioning the lack of an interrupt (barring Scattershot and Intimidation, neither of which are ACTUAL interrupts, but disorients and stuns that will function as an interrupt).

Yup. I’m that good, ladies and gentlemen. /facepalm

I don’t really even have a reasonable explanation for it, either, which is even more upsetting. Maybe if I’d stayed Survival for Gold Proving Grounds and used Counter Shot, it would have worked better. (Serpent Spread is lovely.) Anyhow. Gold Proving Grounds didn’t happen but I learned about Counter Shot, so my overall knowledge has improved, which is the important thing. I just wish it had been improved a week ago instead of yesterday.

I also wish I’d known about it before deciding to tackle the last of my Glorious! rare spawns. What with everyone out on Timeless Isle or otherwise absent from much of Pandaria, I had very little trouble finding the various spawns that had eluded me during the last time I’d played. The trouble was this one panda mob in Townlong Steppes, Yul Wildpaw, whose Spinning Crane Kick kept killing my pet while his Healing Mists was doing a sick amount of healing to him. With a 24s cooldown on Silencing Shot (I was Marks for this, remember), I was using Intimidation and Scattershot as other ways to interrupt the mob, so the goal was to burst down the mob before my pet died from Spinning Crane Kick. This did not happen, even using my turtle and his shell shield thingy and even his Last Stand. My turtle died often and the platform he’s on is just a bit small for my tastes in terms of kiting, but I finally got him down  with a bit of a kite at the end. Then the last mob I was missing from Jade Forest spawned for me and so I got…

glorious

Yay! I’m not sure why I feel so good about that one. Maybe it was that it was about 3/4 done before I quit last year, I don’t know. But that felt pretty good. :)

What else did I do… Honestly, a lot of reforging, regemming, re-enchanting. Spent a ton of gold, like, 15,000 or so, and made virtually nothing. I’m okay with that, too. That’s what my 222,000 gold was for.

Apart from that, I chatted a bit with guildies, new and old, though I didn’t get a chance to say hi to everyone (hi, Apoth!) and generally winged my way through LFRs.

Anyway, all told, it was a satisfying visit, but I’m not resubscribing until closer to the expansion. Once I do that, I want to level Madrana to 90 and get her a bit of gear and such to see if I can pull off some kind of 6.0 guide for holy paladins. To this day, my most popular page on my blog has been my 4.0 guide, followed by my pre-T11 gear list, followed by my 5.0 guide. We’ll see if I can manage to get something for 6.0 going, but that’s going to take time and research pre-6.0 launch. And, aside from dinging Madrana 90, there’s not a whole lot for me to do (well, back-half of ToT, I suppose), so I’m going to put that off for at least a couple of months and we’ll see where we’re at when Blizzard announces more about Warlords of Draenor. :)

More posts to come about my experience in the raids, but in the meantime, happy new year to everyone! Here’s wishing that the very best of 2013 is the worst of 2014. :)