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    Verily I doth admire the players of roles


    2011 - 06.13

    I’m not a role-player. I think I might be RP-curious though1.

    The first time I thought about roleplaying in a Warcraft context was probably when I came across Righteous Orbs, reading Tam’s early stories of the prettiest elf et al and the character of his … er … characters. I know this isn’t roleplaying per se, and I certainly didn’t think of it as such, but it was much more characterisation than I’d previously considered.

    Fast forward a bit. Until I read some of Pilf’s RP stories2 I hadn’t thought of roleplaying as anything other than a suspect extension of childhood make-believe. It’s stupid, I know, but that roleplaying is storytelling mixed with improvisation — two things I particularly enjoy, and skills I wish I had — simply hadn’t occurred to me3.

    When I moved to Darkmoon Faire (a European RP-PVE server) I was intrigued by the idea that RP would be taking place around me, even if I didn’t plan to do any roleplaying myself. Of course, in Europe the *real* roleplaying server is Argent Dawn, and whilst there are role-players on DMF I think there are probably considerably more people here because “RP servers have less obnoxious types”4. Anyway, aside from the occasional IC silliness when bumping into a guildie by the auction house, I’ve remained a largely RP free zone. It probably doesn’t help that my main is largely characterless, and try as I might I can’t seem to retrofit a personality to him. He’s just me, wielding a mightier weapon *eyebrows*.

    To that end, I love to read the blogs of people who I think do RP well or are able to get inside the game world and the minds of it’s denizens, and I was delighted by this particular post from Glorwynn at Heavy Wool Bandage about what it means to be a paladin5. Obviously, I have a bit of a personal interest in followers of light, despite Ano-the-character’s persistent Keanu-level characterisation, but it’s with the backstories and lore summaries that I find myself most taken, and the obvious-now-I’ve-been-told revelation that “paladins are people too”.

    I might not be a role-player but even I’ve heard the term “Mary Sue“. One of the problems I’ve always had when considering the character of MY characters has been finding the balance between interestingness and believability. It’s hard to care about the life and times of Brian Q. Bland. It’s harder still to talk to Jeb “Dagger” McDangers (they say he once killed a bare with his bear hands — perhaps he’s a druid) without sniggering. It seems to me that Glorwynn’s post could go a long way towards helping someone get it right.

    So last thursday I was able to join my first raid since… a long time ago, it feels like. I was healing (!) as we had a slightly odd mix of people available, so as a nice gentle introduction we went to Baradin Hold for the first fight.

    The second fight was Cho’gall. *whimper*6 Does anyone else think this makes our raid leader a meanie?

    After 90 minutes, we seemed to have hit a wall in terms of improvement so toddled over to Blackwing to quickly kill the first couple of bosses; a cheerful end to the evening.

    Next on the to-do list: the troll dungeons — I did most of one of them before I left but haven’t had a chance to go back, and now I’m all nervy about going in clueless. *whine*

    --
    1. to mangle a popular phrase []
    2. I must have followed a recommendation from something; it’s not something I would have sought out. I’m glad I did though. []
    3. handily, I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to be smart on mb.com []
    4. that’s the impression I get at least []
    5. it made me go back and read her blog from the beginning, an activity I’d highly recommend if you find yourself with a little free time []
    6. a disadvantage of my not having played for a while, and not being a main spec healer, was that it was hard to know exactly how badly I was doing during the Cho’gall encounter. Wiping to tank death on pretty much every attempt probably offers a hint or tw, mind. Certainly, the difference in stress level between the Cho’gall fight and the Golem council fight (which is reasonably complex from a moving-and-mechanics point of view) was very noticeable. []

    Nice group, shame about the pally


    2011 - 03.24

    As you might have spotted from my smug “ostensibly WoW-related but really just bragging ‘cos I’m drinking beer in Munich” post, I was away last week. Rrecently, we’ve had some problems getting our raids off the ground — people unavailable because of work, people on holiday, people with social engagements which don’t involve internet dragons can leave you without the essential components — so when I signed up for Monday’s raid I was hopeful but not certain that anything would happen.

    Thankfully, we were able to field a full team, so off we went to BWD where we two-shot Magmaw, and followed that up with a one-shot of the golem boys. Admittedly, it did take us a five or six goes before Maloriak fell over, which I’m prepared to blame on a seemingly phantom interrupter intervening on the first “release aberrations” cast (a distraction, I’m sure you’ll agree) but we got him down and decided to take a raid break. And then decided that, rather than bang our heads on Atramades, we’d go take a first look at Halfass Windbreaker.

    The add package for this week on the EU realms is Storm Rider, Time Warden and Whelps — seemingly a high-raid-damage combination. So, we had four or five attempts, most of which resulted in us dying to AoE/standing in bad and the occasional CD-crit-crit-threat-dead sequence, and resolved to come back the following night if we could. Handily although one of our signups was unavoidably detained at work, we happened to have a replacement online and after a bit of a delay for some jewelcrafting and enchanting, we went back to the Bastion. Where we oneshot Halfass. And then, after a 15 minute “strategy break”1, we killed the dragon twins on the 6th attempt.

    Sounds good, eh? It was. There was even a reasonable amount of useful loot on both days.

    There’s just one tiny fly in my ointment, one little beetle crawling in my salad. I wasn’t playing well, and even before I looked at my recount window, I could feel something was off. I could feel something was off, but I couldn’t figure out *what*, or how to fix it. So as a raid team, we did pretty well, but as a raidER, I *didn’t*. In a weird way, it reminded me of being a kid.

    Back in my early teens, I used to play a fair bit of football — for the school, for a 7-a-side team, then for a 11-a-side team. The 7-a-side team did pretty well; we won our little league a couple of times and had a lot of fun. When we scaled up to 11-a-side, we did less well, but in a weird way, that didn’t especially bother me. As long as I came off the pitch thinking “well I played ok, and we didn’t lose because of something I did/didn’t do”, I was fine. Well, not fine, I wanted to win games, but I’d have all but forgotten about it by the time I got home for a bath. If I hadn’t played well though, I’d be grumpy.

    Same principle applies to WoW, it seems. So even though we were downing bosses and it was a couple of days ago, I’m *still* irritated with myself. My suspicion is that I was tired and not concentrating properly, as I did ok on the fights where I could just stand there and push buttons2, but I’ll have to take a look at the logs later to check *grumble*.

    I don’t know — is it weird to have your pleasure at the success of the raid be overshadowed by your frustration with your own performance?

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Always label your macros

    I have a guidie who’s a bit of an achievement queen. You name it, she’s probably got it. She (along with her boyfriend) are responsible for our guild having the 55 exalted reputations achievement, for example, and the “We are legendary” achievement too. Anyway, one Saturday3 she was doing some achievement hunting and my chatbox was forever popping up notifications of her latest new shiny. Eventually I made a macro and dropped it on my bars, which output “ROBOT SAYS: Well done Anka” to guild chat on a mouseclick. Click click clicketty.

    Fast-forward to the golem council fight in BWD on Monday. I’m assigned to be the second interrupter on Arcanotron, so I need to be able to turn off my autoattack when the shield goes up. Time for a /stopattack macro, methinks. Stick it on the bars, and I can click it once the shield is up then just follow the big stone fella around interrupting things without a problem. Unfortunately, thanks to sheer laziness I didn’t give either macro a unique icon, so they’re both just question marks (mysterious buttons, you might say). Surely enough, during Monday’s fight with the Tron council, I managed to click the wrong button, miss an interrupt and instead fire off my “GRATS” macro by mistake. No big deal, we didn’t wipe…

    Tuesday’s raid: while a couple of guildies are doing the jewelcrafting and enchanting for our stepped-in-at-the-last-minuate-WOOHOO-we-can-haz-raid-after-all! priest, I’m blethering away on vent, telling the story of stupidly pressing the wrong button.

    “Oh.” says the raidleader. “You know, I think Anka might have been dead at that point.”

    “Oh, bollocks” says I4

    Cue a quick PM to explain myself and much sniggering from the raid, unsympathetic buggers that they are.

     

    --
    1. that’s ‘Shit, we didn’t think we’d get this so quickly. Everybody tab out and read the strat on Wowhead/Wowpedia’ []
    2. vs being pretty useless on the movement fights []
    3. I think, it was ages ago []
    4. because I’m classy like that []

    Deja vu and stuff


    2011 - 02.18

    Writing this is giving me a strange sense of deja vu.

    Not quite a year ago, I was writing about how I really wanted do some raiding. About how I’d geared my main about as well as as possible from heroics. I’d built a healing set out of spare triumph badges which I was terrified to use. I had a newish 80 (Centrella the mage) who was proving to be fun and picking up gear.

    Fast forward to today. Ano’s ret set is entirely i346, with the exception of a trinket (bloody trinkets! Not again!). His healing set (built out of unwanted spellplate and quest rewards) isn’t far behind. This time round I’m not so terrified of healing; having just about enough awareness to determine whether something is my fault or not helps a great deal in the event of an LFG wipe. Instead, I’m nerviously collecting gear and taking tentative steps into the tanking world (again) with Tremble, who had just accidentally tanked his first heroic in Wrath when Cataclysm was released. At 85, and having quested through all of Uldum and TwiHigh, he’s in the unfortunate position of being overgeared for normal dungeons but insufficiently well-controlled to be particularly useful in heroics. Still, that’s my learning project and there are at least many lovely guildies who are happy to pootle through normal dungeons while I figure out pulls and build the last bits of muscle memory, or suffer through a wipe or two when I get things wrong in a heroic.

    Lastly … I really want to do some raiding (in Cataclysm)!

    We’re ready. Heck, as a guild we’ve already killed our first Cataclysm raidboss (Magmaw) but Bryn & I were celebrating 10 years together on that particular day1 and after some buff food in Suze and several flasks in Inkroom we extended the weekend lock to Friday and … yeah ok, that metaphor has been tortured enough. Suffice to say I wasn’t present for that raid.

    On the next scheduled raid day our raidlead/tank had a job interview, and as we’re currently a little short on spare tanks, there was no raid. The day after that, a guildie wasn’t feeling well and had to drop out, so again no raid. The time after that (last night) we were already looking a little sketchy when I discovered *I’d* have to drop out to work late and, again, no raid2.

    So, I’m still waiting for that elusive first bossfight, desperately hoping to raid. Trying hard not to be too jealous of all of your effing killshots. So much things change…


    Random thoughts

    * I’ve completed all of the Uldum quest lines on three different characters now, and I have a special plea for patch 4.1 or whatever the next client version is: please, PLEASE let me skip  the cutscenes. All of them. Make me click “OK” twice if you have to, but … Grammy, the level 70 Werther-lock3. is waiting for me to finish the *must gear up my 85s with heroic loot* stage so she can get some playtime. And I can just about stomach the idea of schlepping about through Northrend again — with all her heirlooms and guild perks it shouldn’t take too long — but the idea of watching all those unskippable cutscenes for a fourth time is not thrilling.

    * Tradeskills are weird. Jewelcrafting would appear to (once again) extremely profitable. My JCer is level 26, so I fail. Crafted plate items are still pricey, because of the truegold. Here’s hoping I can make some cash out of Cent’s tailoring before everyone dumps their 359 gear, and otherwise I’m going to be broke until the end of time.

    * speaking of tailoring, a WHOLE WEEK cooldown for dreamcloth? *gnash*

    * Hurrah for the dungeon finder. It’s not perfect and I have encountered the odd obnoxious or otherwise unhelpful player, but most people have been friendly and *gasp* talkative.

    * Ret is scary-spiky after 4.0.6. Our guild tanks have mentioned that they can monitor my procs just by watching me bounce to the top of Omen (or that mob turning to face in the wrong direction). I still haven’t had the forethought to line up Zealotry, the Guardian of Stupid Pets and Heroism yet but when I do, I expect pleasingly large numbers for a brief moment before pulling aggro and going splat.

    * Fire maging is still hard. Well, not hard, but I find it easy to make stupid mistakes. Perhaps I should say “I’m still not good at fire maging”. It *is* a lot of fun though, so I’m sticking with it.

    * Unholy DKs are the new-old Ret Paladins. I seem to be able to put our respectable DPS by (more or less) mashing whatever is off cooldown. And with a 1s GCD? *snicker*

    Just one more thing…
    A little late, but worth offering a tip’o’the hat to Chastity and Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs, who have decided to close up shop. I can’t exactly remember how or when I first came across RO. I may have even followed a link to I, Deathtard or In My Sissy Robe after they’d already moved (the “late to the party” theme was one I could relate to!) but I *do* remember laughing delightedly and then clicking on the bottommost month in the archive list, so I could read from the beginning. Funny, insightful and incisive — sometimes painfully so — I’ll miss seeing their walls of text crop up in Google Reader and the all-but-guaranteed pleasure I got from reading them. Good luck to you both!

    --
    1. Clearly no enrage timer for us. Well, for me, anyway. She can be a bit tetchy sometimes. Shhh! []
    2. Yes, we do have more than 10 people in the guild :) We just have a few people who are not quite raid-ready yet []
    3. Gosh I’m so witty. Werther’s Original. Warlock. Wertherlock. I should be on TV or something. Probably as a sofa []

    If this makes it onto your blog I will die of shame


    2011 - 01.15

    Arresting title, what? It’s a quote from Vent. What follows is from guildchat, with apologies1

    [Me]: Heh, [Many-alts-person], we’re just (sort of) talking about you, in a way  (guild in-joke)

    [Many-alts-person]: Uh-oh.

    [Many-alts-person]: It wasn`t me, it was [Expert Warrior, currently offline]

    [Me]: [Bosslady] was comparing Warcraft to sex

    [Trap-detecting-mage, spouse of bosslady]: eek, what have I missed?

    [Me]: Clarity-inducing statement: Wow is like sex because…

    [Me]: It can be a lot of fun on your own

    [Me]: but it’s LOTS better with other people

    [Trap-detecting-mage]: haha!

    [Many-alts-person]: :D

    [Me]: except if the other people are horrible.

    [Keanu Reeves Fan]: …AND you don’t necessarily have to mention Megan Fox while doing it.

    [Me]: In fact in many ways, it’s better if you don’t, in my experience

    [Trap-detecting-mage]: It never works as well when you do it with strangers?

    [Bosslady]: Especially not calling out her name in the mid throes.

    [Keanu Reeves Fan]: Unless you are, in fact, doing it with Megan Fox. Either WoW or sex. Both works.

    [New-but-funny Guildie]: and is something yu can do on a sick day

    [Trap-detecting-mage]: you can do it while sitting down….

    [New-but-funny Guildie]: oh my, what *is* it with megan fox ?

    --
    1. and the caveat that it was Friday night, and there were elements happening on Vent too! []

    For Alas: Why, how and who


    2010 - 11.18

    It was Alastriona’s birthday blogaversary the other week and in celebration she offered post topics to any who wanted one. As one of her dedicated internet stalkers sidlers, I gleefully requested and received one. Here’s what she said:

    Alrighty then. Hearkening back to when I first introduced myself, you hadn’t really raided anything at all. Now you’re a Kingslayer. (And I am jealous, yo) You’ve shared a bit here and there about what the experience of raiding was like, but if you look back over the past several months and really take in the scope of how far you’ve come, how does that make you feel? What were the best parts along the way and which people were the most instrumental in your journey?

    “Ohshit.” I thought. “This could be tricky.” Then I had three concurrent project deadlines. *Then* I went for a quick holiday to Venice (because if you’re going to procrastinate, you might as well do it surrounded by art, history and dirt-cheap prosecco). Now it’s time.

    Alas first introduced herself here in a comment on a whinging post about my failure to organise any kind of raid with my then-guild. At the time, the closest I’d come to raiding was clearing pre-Marrowgar trash for rep in ICC and being told to “l2p” in a visit to see Sarth for the weekly. I ended the post with the sad realisation that, if I *did* want to raid current content, I’d need to find a new guild.

    Amazingly, I received a couple of responses from people in raiding guilds inviting me to come and introduce myself. A message via email was hugely exciting, and described a guild which seemed barely plausible — raiding everything from Naxx to ICC with occasional visits to older content, “no QQ, no loot drama, and lots of joking around”, and a willingness to do a bit of extra explaining to the raid-clueless. And when I looked at the forums … they could write. Beautifully. Sealed the deal, naturally. Of course, these events neatly coincided with a conference I was about to go to, leaving me with pretty much no free time for the next few weeks. I wrote a “OMG this sounds amazing but I can’t do anything for three weeks, please can I come back then?” reply, was reassured, and buggered off to Lisbon for the conference.

    On my return, Tremble was born and I had a fun, if rather nerve wracking1 conversation with the GM, the RL and the officer who’d contacted me by email. They seemed to think I would fit… *woohoo* so I said my goodbyes to my old guild and server-transferred my two level 80s to Darkmoon Faire. Four days later on 24 May, I was in the raid team for Ulduar 10. *eek*

    Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to make two of our three raid nights pretty much every week (being the *only* mainspec source of replenishment can be handy).

    I’ve been designated the sacrificial paladin and sent to facepull angry kitties and creepy spider robots. I’ve been designated the idiot paladin after getting my buttons mixed up and accidentally DIing the tank mid-raid (I was looking for Divine Protection). I’ve had my user interface critiqued based on the SWAAAAD-style whispers I accidentally sent to the GL during a Mimiron encounter (my first appearance in our guild quotes thread *sigh*). I’ve been the guy who somehow manages to unequip his jetpack just before the Gunship encounter starts2. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as a tank charged straight off the edge of Kologarn’s platform on the pull. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as our curious gnome mage discovered that around the corner there is often an angry mob. I’ve watched, helpless with laughter, as a guildie got his Willy out in the middle of the raid.

    When we first killed Putricide it was my first full night of attempts on him. It felt great, but from the screams of joy and relief on vent, it was better for the people who’d spent more than just one night being slimed, oozed and killed. When we first killed Sindy, I’d been there for all of our nights of wiping and frustration. Now I knew, really knew why those screams sounded the way they did. This time I too was making the noises.

    Of course it’s not all sunshine and free epics. The availability boss has kicked our collective arses far harder than any dungeon denizen. Lady RNG has withheld her favours from time to time, be they in game (I *still* don’t have the damnable Whispering Fanged Skull) or distressingly and more seriously, out there in the real world3. We’ve had drama, some of it near guildbreaking. Tears have been shed, whisky bottles emptied. Sad goodbyes said. Angry goodbyes said.

    Overwhelmingly, though, the experience has been positive. I’ve met, played with and learned from an amazing bunch of people. Hung out in guild chat or voice chat for hours. Gone rafting. Killed internet dragons just for the fun of killing internet dragons with friends (there’s a reason this post is in the “Raiding for fun (profit be damned)” category). Hell, this expansion was called “Wrath of the Lich King” and you see that Lich King? We killed him. Us. We ‘won’ the expansion4.

    And I’ve learned, from guildies, from experience, from the fantastic resources written by the WoW-playing community. Improved my play enough to have a raid slot based on more than just replenishment. Learned to heal better than bandage-spec rogues5. Built up enough confidence to take part in pug raids. Figured out how and when to use (some of) those utility abilities that had me so confused — some of those mysterious buttons aren’t so mysterious any more. Ultimately I’ve learned that there’s a million amazing things still to learn and a goodly supply of wonderful people to share them with.

    To share, there’s got to be some people around. I’ve been pretty lucky with the people around me, and it feels almost … unfair, or disloyal, to single out individuals and say “these are the most important people”. Do I talk about my cake-obsessed GL and the lengthy conversations we’ve had about music (dark), clothes (black) and 1001 other subjects, 997 of which degenerated into smut-filled guttertalk6? Our expert Prot/Arms warrior, who can switch between indestructible tank and #1 dps7 on a fight-to-fight basis? Our drunken rogue, whose progress from wide-eyed fresh 80 to meter-topping DPS machine was accompanied by constant fun and silliness? Should I pay tribute to our vent-singing, draenei-impersonating, warrior-tanking RL with his incredible knowledge, distinctive catchphrases8 and endless optimism that *this time* we won’t pull all of the trash by Precious and Stinky, despite all evidence to the contrary? To the irrepressible altoholic with an 80 of every class and every profession and a *bouncehug* always ready?

    I could go on and on. I could give you anecdotes for every active member of the guild, happy memories, silly stories. I could do the same for the people who have left the guild since I joined — no matter the circumstances of their leaving, every one features in formative events and learning experiences. Above all, I’ve learned that it’s the sharing that makes the game. Pretty obvious I suppose, but it’s taken me an amazingly long time to truly realise it.

    So, Cataclysm. It’s the end of the world as we know it. I’m looking forward to sharing what comes next.

    --
    1. I was really keen by this point []
    2. stupid equipment manager: why would I bother excluding the shirt slot?? []
    3. where some bosses are distinctly overtuned and all healing classes have been nerfed []
    4. Yes I know there are hard modes and we ain’t done ‘em. Don’t mess with my flow, yo. []
    5. probably []
    6. the other ones were probably cut off by DCs but almost certainly would have gone the same way []
    7. And they say Arms was the weak spec in Wrath. Pfft. Not from what I’ve seen from a strict-10 perspective. And if he *could* have done better as fury, I’m bloody glad he prefers arms. It would have been dispiriting, I think []
    8. “Let’s have fun and poke stuff”, or variations thereupon which have become our lucky charm, and the oft-repeated “Gormok the Impaler … impales” []