I’m holding out for a hero

Or my random reflections on the patch.

I’m really enjoying Ulduar, for the first time we have challenging content this expansion. However I can’t help thinking its a bit too easy. We are now 5 bosses down in two nights, techinically one because all we did the first night was get stuck in random places. Having the floor disappear on you in Ulduar was one thing, seeing yourself fall through Dalaran another entirely.

vortex01

So that lead to

vortex021

See the teenage mutant ninja turtles and their ratty master. The end of that particular journey was a graveyard in Crystalsong Forest from which all had to take res sickness. Fun fun fun.

However when I compare our Ulduar progress to that in MC, BWL, Naxx the first time around, AQ 40 and even TBC content, we never just walked in and killed that many bosses on the first few nights. I realise that partly why they  implemented hardmodes, but call me picky, but I want harder fights with different mechanics rather than doing the same fights in a slightly different way.

XT-002 Deconstructor adds a whole new meaning to tank and spank fights. By the time we killed him, I never wanted to hear his annoyingly whiney voice again. Next week, I’m doing it with the sound off.

Divine Hymn is awesome. Ignoring the Flame Leviathan, all the other four bosses we did last night require massive amounts of aoe healing at points, cue the fabulous Divine Hymn. Prayer of Healing also being castable on any party is rather sweet, given the amount of raid damage that Ulduar seems to favour (a slightly easier Sunwell mark 2 perhaps).

All in all, I’m pretty taken with Ulduar. From a  visual perspective, I like the differences between the areas we have seen so far. None of this depressingly similar look for the whole instance a la Molten Core. The first fight was completely different to anything I’ve done so far and whilst I thought I hated vehicle fights (still hate Malygos) it turned out to be really good fun. The other fights required huge amounts of aoe healing and movement which help add an extra level of excitement to them (for me at least, I tend to dislike fights like Patchwerk where its as simple as stand there and heal X til the boss dies).

The Argent Tournament = my second new favourite thing (the first obviously being Ulduar now that the server has stopped trying to slaughter us wholesale everytime we enter).  Perhaps it appeals to my hopeless romantic side, after all as a small child I loved reading about knights in shining armour and tales of daring do .

romantic01

Have to admit I’m glad it is a neutral zone though (slight hint of cowardice which doesn’t sit with the whole knight thing I know) but especially on my priest I prefer doing dailies knowing I can’t be slaughtered by players.

It seems that we aren’t the other Northrend inhabitents wishing to fight the good fight.

romantic02

The penguins are amassing their forces too.

Enjoying the fishing dailies, although fishing in River’s Heart alongside three quarters of the servers level 80s is a bit scary, both sides eyeing each other up. What would happen if there was blood in the water I hate to think. Speaking of which, for the blood frenzy one, other people’s blood pools are trackable with the fish finder and they last a while so you can share.

Over all, I can’t really think of any negatives.

Patch Day Blues

Its 23.12 CET and the server has found multiple amusing ways in which to kill us. So far we have only managed one boss in Ulduar between the lagspikes and mass dcs. The server has been restarted at least 5 times and I’m currently staring at Razorscale’s backside casting prayer of healing, an action I’ve been doing for the last 15 minutes. In fact we have spent more time getting stuck in instances/outside instances/in the middle of nowhere/falling to our deaths over and over again than we actually have fighting.

Moral of this story? Don’t raid on patch day.

razorscale

On the plus side, I did get some fairly good shots of the drake in question.

Dual Speccing: then the shadows come (part 1)

I’ve spent most of the four years I’ve played a priest being holy, its the safe spec, the comfortable one. Its spec number two that has me cowering in the bushes hoping the nasty patch will just go away.

Given the nature of my guild (fairly small, but progression minded), my second spec has to be shadow but as it dawned on me recently what I know about raiding as shadow is rather pathetic. To make matters worst, we don’t have a raiding shadowpriest in the guild so I have to do my own research. Eeeeek.

So where to start. My first thought was Elitist Jerks, after all they know everything right? However whilst there was a wealth of information about shadow as it is now, PTR stuff seemed rather limited.

Spec: I’m thinking this. However there are so many variables I just don’t know the answer to and that scares me.

  • Do I need threat reduction? Come Ulduar and our tanks stacking effective health rather than threat will I be at risk of pulling aggro? If the answer to this is yes, then surely I need to find points for either shadow affinity orveiled shadows. I’m gambling on the answer being no.
  • Will mana be an issue? Should I be taking veiled shadows for the shadowfiend cooldown?

Also the majority of specs I looked at, all had two points in Improved Vampiric Embrace and I just don’t get why. Am I missing something obvious? I know I put 2 points in it myself in that build, but only because I can’t quite decide what I would rather take. The only possible reason I could come up with is for grinding, but since I never grind alone, its more likely I’ll be doing that as holy. Then there is the improved shadowform talents, are they really necessary for raiding? How often do you need to remove movement impairing effects in an instance? Not that often that I can think of.

Attempt number 2 looks more like this, with one point still spare whilst I try and figure out where I want to put it.

Outland Bound again

darkportal01

Back in Outlands on my warlock. It feels a bit weird, I mean everyone else is leveling death knights so at least we get to be unique snowflakes. Did some 51-60 and 61-70 AVs and literally it was 80 percent death knights, 12 percent ret paladins and the remaining 8 percent fielding one representative per remaining class. For some strange reason I find being bounced all over the place rather frustating, in fact if I ever got the person who conceptualised death grip alone….. hmm lets leave that train of thought right there.

teasel03

When Teasel bravely entered the Dark Portal looking for career prospects and all that, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting to have run around looking like this. In fact on the path to lv 64, I’ve had around 5 pairs of pants… and guess what, they all looked like those. Likewise, I’ve had multiple chests and not one of them has been a dress. Ah, well only another 4 levels and several hundred bloodelf deathknight corpses to wade through before shes in Northrend wearing terribly serious, muted green, gray and dark purple dresses. Maybe I’m just a little picky, but it annoys me on some basic level that all leveling gear looks the same. For casters in the Burning Crusade we have the mismatched slut look and in WotLK we have the governess look. I realise that in the priority list of developer and designer stuff, the look of loot that gets disgarded as soon as people hit the level cap is pretty low and sure I whine when there is months without new content… but if I wanted to be running around looking like a burlesque clown, I would be doing something entirely different with my free time.

More cheerfully, I’m loving the burst of my warlock. Nothing beats being able to chaos bolt for 2.5k annoying little twink mages who think they are safe in their shields, or nuking through pain suppression. My first warlock was destruction way back when demonology hardly qualified as a talent tree and I got addicted to setting things on fire back when PvP equalled Southshore/Tarren Mill (cue misty eyed rant about having to walk up mountains barefoot to farm soulshards to PvP  with). Whilst I accept its not the best leveling spec (I would have serious sustainability issues without a pet priest),  its certainly great fun for PvP.

Golden Days and Purple Nights

My attempt at this week’s Friday five.

The warrior looked up hearing a muttered curse. A night elf priestess was staggering under the weight of a overstuffed portmanteau, almost falling down the stairs because of its awkwardness. Intervening her, he grabbed the bag and caught her arm to prevent her from tripping.
“Going anywhere exciting?” he asked,

“Oh no”, seeing that he was still looking at her expectantly, “Just to Shattrah. The Scryers library in fact. They have some  new Arrokoa religious texts in. I can’t wait to see them for myself. Their attitude towards their Gods is so fascinating you know”. Seeing his face glaze over slightly, she smiled knowing the questions would stop now. In silence the two of them walked to the courtyard. Thanking him as she took possession of her luggage, she waved and stepped through the portal to the City of Lights. On the other side, sitting on her bags she waited for a while but no one else came through so turning she vanished through the Stormwind portal.

Leaving the Mage tower, she tried to stick to the back alleys and kept her face covered at all times. Riding to the gryphon’s perch, a moments guilt swam through her thoughts. All this secrecy, but it was surely necessary.

Flying due south, the air started to thicken. The faintest trace of sweat formed on her skin. As soon as she arrived in Booty Bay she headed straight for the Salty Sailor Tavern. The sooner she checked in and could grab a cool drink the better.

“Mrs Jenkins?”, the sly smirk on the goblin innkeeper’s face suggested her alias hadn’t passed muster.  Regardless blushing as she nodded, he handed over a room key. Her quarters were spartan, a bed, a rug and an already opened bottle of cherry grog plus a slightly cracked glass sat on the bedside table. Unpacking, she changed from the heavy robes into shorts, more befitting the heat and headed downstairs to the bar.

For the next five days the priestess threw caution to the winds. She danced on the bar,  on the streets, on the boat. Anywhere in fact there was music. She drank, heady jungle wine cocktails spiked with raw sugary rum one after the other til her world revolved around nothing but the beat of the song. She took daytrips, to troll ruins to look at stone carvings, to mysterious islands to see the giant gorilla and marvel at his size. She went diving in the crystal clear blue waters of the vile reef and even took a half day safari from the famed Nesingwary company. In short she tried everything, for five short days she put all the pain, all the misery behind her and lived.

On the sixth day, she put on her robes and ported to Dalaran. On the seventh day, she was back on the front lines, hiding her frustation and pain as she fought to save the injured.

Dual speccing, first the light

With the patch sneaking ever closer, I’ve been doing some thinking about dual specs, talents in general and of course glyphs.

First spec will naturally be holy. I’m thinking this as a talent build but there are a couple of things I’m not sure about. The primary one being Test of Faith. For 3 talent points you get a 12 percent increase to healing done to targets on or below 50 percent. At first glance it sounds great, 12 percent is fair chunk of extra healing. However, I have a couple of issues with the concept in PvE:

  • Exactly how much time does the average raid member spend below 50 percent health? Apart from on specific fights like Gluth in current content not much. Obviously that may change in the new instance, but again its likely to be a on boss by boss basis.
  • How much healing do you actually do to people below 50 percent health? Considering all your raid healers will be prioritising those on the lowest percentage.
  • Lag will surely play a part, when you finish a cast it may look as if the person is below 50 percent health, but server side they might not be.

I’m also mildly flirting with the idea of trying Lightwell again. I can’t help wondering if it would come in useful on some fights, especially if mana is tight. This may or may not be wishful thinking however.

As for glyphs, I’m thinking the following:

  • Flash Heal
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit: We tend to run with multiple holy priests, in fact entirely by accident we have more priests than any other class of healer, so this could make for lots of fun rotations if it goes live like this.

So thats the easy part done. Over the weekend, I’ll be discussing my thoughts on shadow and generally panicking about my lack of hit rating and the cost of runed scarlet rubies.

He is dead and gone, lady

He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone,
At his head a green-grass tuft;
At his heels a stone.

Feralas makes me think of Hamlet, I think because I always associate Millais’s Ophelia with it. All the water and the flowers makes it seem like the perfect location for a WoW version of the painting, if not the play. Its easy to imagine a drowned human female drifting downstream wearing an embroided white gown and carrying a posy of wildflowers.

Perhaps I’m a teeny bit biased though, I’ve always loved Feralas, I think because of the lush greenness of it all. Even on a PvP server the whole zone seems so relaxed. You can imagine camping in the hills or lounging by a river, showering in the waterfall. I’ve always leveled all my characters through Feralas and thought, mistakenly it seems that I had explored every possible nook. This morning, it turns out I was wrong.

grave02

The grave obviously belongs to a knight of some sort, the sword and helm all indicate that. Yet who brings fresh flowers to this unmarked stone? A lover perhaps, or a comrade who watched him die in battle.

grave01As you can see from the close up, the grave is freshly dug. The shovel still left in the earth.

I can’t help wondering if the hands that wielded the spade were the same as those that laid the flowers and more importantly, if the occupant died suddenly in battle… where did the tombstone come from?

Curiouser and curiouser!

cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English);

I always knew Cilantro had issues. Deep down the darkness in her soul seemed to almost overcome her on many an occasion. Its not normal for a disciplined priest to hunt down innocents, leaping from her warhorse to plague and smite them. I knew something was wrong, but I chose to look the other way… then this happened.

Cilantro is evil

The most important part of the picture is this:
priest_shard

No longer can I remain silent, something wicked this way comes.

Doll-like possession

Possessed by dolls, the worst fate that could befall anyone.

Ok,  characters aren’t dolls, but they aren’t that far removed. We dress them up and play with them after all.

Warpy over at Blog Azeroth brought up the topic of personality, asking whether or not your characters have distinct and different characteristics of their own. The more I considered it, (helped along with some whispering in my ear by a bunch of very opinionated pixels) the more it resonated.

One of the reasons I’m still playing WoW four years down the line is because of its fantasy element. We are handed a ready made world ripe for experimation on a platter. You want to be a mad scientist but failed miserably at chemisty or perhaps your work requires you to be deadly serious all day but online you are a hyperactive pink haired gnome with a fondness for practical jokes. Whether or not we call roleplay servers home, we all indulge to a degree and so we should. WoW is escapism at its finest. Its not about running away from reality either, for me its about creativity and playing with boundaries. I (the girl sitting at the keyboard) doesn’t flirt, nor am I loud or given to making jokes. Nor would I be comfortable or happy doing those things, thats just not who I am, but my characters…. well they are a different story.

Whenever I create a new character I try and have a clear idea of who they are before I even hit the log in button. Everyone is different and whilst I certainly share some traits with them, they grow and evolve in ways I certainly didn’t invisage at the start.

Erinys for example is a lover not a fighter. Whilst she is more than capable of defending herself, the first smite never belongs to her. Quiet, reserved, her leisure time is spent curled up with a good book or trying to track down some obscure cooking recipe, that whilst sounding fascinating, the ingredient list implies its likely to taste revolting. She is basically a nerd, curiously interested in most things and a collector of all sorts of junk. Her copious baggage contains mysterious potions, enough clothing to dress half an orphanage and all kinds of random bits and bobs which may perhaps one day be necessary, but more than likely will not. However a practicial priest is prepared for everything. Surprisingly enough, she was actually created with the intent of being an evil shadowpriest who would melt faces and mess with people’s minds, but somewhere along the line she had other ideas. Respecced herself holy and has been succouring the weak and sick ever since. Even when I tried to go shadow, she took over at the most unsuitable moments, dropped shadowform and started healing the nearest warrior. So now she stays holy, its simpler that way, although I’m a little scared as to how she will react to dual specs..

Briarrose on the other hand is about as far removed from serious as you can get. Fun loving and bouncy, regardless of spec she spends most of her time outside instances in catform. Intimacy makes her purr and she is often found curled around guildmates and friends, rubbing her head against them. Shes talkative, hyperactive and fond of lying on the walls of Dalaran taking in the sun. Her hobbies include chasing pet rats and pouncing people passing by.

teasel02Teasel however is a bitch, a witch and a demonloving hellspawn. Driven by anger she storms through life burning everyone and everything to cross her path. Caprious and passionate, her closest friend is her Imp. After all her temper tantrums are nothing compared to the netherworld so hes more than happy to ignore the smell of burnt flesh and books thrown at this head.

Taking just these three characters as an example, Erinys never ever kills low levels. Briarrose may but only if they pull her tail or otherwise annoy her. Teasel considers anything attackable fair game. They all prefer different zones, different foods and if given the choice would wear radicially different outfits.

Going back to what I said earlier about everyone doing it to an extent. My boyfriend has no real interest in roleplaying per se, yet all his characters are completely different to both each other and to himself. He’s a software engineer, practical, fond of sci-fi, computers and windsurfing, yet all his characters, all of which are female have very distinct personalities and attitudes. Sure there are some common ground, he hates unfairness and all his constructs reflect that, but for the most part… they are separate beings. His druid is fun and flirty, his warrior an amazonlike bitch always ready with a sharp retort and his gnome, well, his gnome is a gnome fond of pockets, blowing things up and stabbing people in the back. He sees them for what they are, the chance to use your imagination and think outside the box.

As to why we don’t play on a roleplaying server, there are a couple of reasons. Creating a three dimensional character with a history and emotions is one thing, being that all the time is another. I don’t feel raiding suits roleplaying servers, surely the first time I killed Malygos was enough and the thought of being in-character all the time is taking too far for me. Even thought I have clear ideas about who my characters are, when I’m doing something serious like raiding, I am for the most part, me.

One man’s scrap is another man’s……..

honest-scrap1-thumbSo not only do I have at least one reader, said reader nominated me for an award. Yay. Once I got over the surprise at being nominated for anything, I read the small print.

Naturally there is a catch, isn’t there always. (Can’t help wondering if those holes are caused by rust or bullets, going with corrosion because its less disturbing. Suppose they could be bullet holes with rusty edges… hmm. Also that disembodied arm has really good finger nails for someone doing manual work).

Back on topic:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

Ok, sounds easy enough. Or at least I thought it did, but coming up with seven innocent souls who I could tag proved to be slightly harder than I expected. After all, pretty much everyone I read has already been tagged at least once already. So my solution, well its slightly cheaty but hey, I am spending virtually all my WoW time playing a warlock right now… If you are reading this, have a blog, have managed to avoid being tagged by anyone else and want to participate, consider yourself one of the family er tagged (I usually have some form of weird and inappropriate music playing in my head, today its musical theatre).

10 things about me you didn’t know.

  1. I rather like all things pink. Every shade from shocking to a delicate shade of off white with a hint of rose, although come to think of it, you may already have noticed my fondness for that. So, when I was about 10 I painted my bedroom ceiling a really dark shade of dusty pink and stuck glow in the dark stars all over it. When I went to University it took my parents 7 coats of white paint to cover it up and even now there are little pastel pink bits in amongst the white.
  2. I over-think things, this is partly responsible for my list fetish. If I plan everything in advance down to the last possible detail… what can possibly go wrong? Yes I am a control freak and yes, things often go wrong despite the lists. However hope springs eternal and one of these days…. I’ll have covered every eventuality.
  3. I love cooking. My favourite cuisine would have to be Mexican. I spent 4 months traveling there and fell in love with the food we tasted. Salsas, avocados, chilis, sopa de lima, I could live on that stuff. I’m also addicted to buying cookery books and watching cooking shows on tv, favourites include “Good Eats”, “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef”. Eating Mexican whilst watching Top Chef, now thats my idea of heaven.
  4. When I raid, especially progress stuff I need cherry coke and haribo, preferably star mix for those hairy moments when it all goes horribly wrong and the Raidleader enrages (this tends to happen regularly).
  5. I read a lot. A variety of genres and authors, everything from Shakespeare to Jilly Cooper. Actually I read anything and everything, the back of cereal packets to airplane instructions for disasters. If something has words on it, I tend to have to read it.
  6. I have a temper.
  7. I have a 5 foot wooden skeleton called Francisco. He is pink and white (no surprises there) and you should have seen the look on the customs guy’s face when the Gnomeling told him there was a skeleton in the bag, tbh I’m amazed we didn’t get arrested or shot or both.
  8. I have no sense of direction. When I sat my driving test I drew an R on my right hand and even now when someone asks for directions, I mentally go through the process of thinking “I write with my right hand”. This is why we have a GPS. I can even get lost in cities with a grid system. Ironically, I really like maps, I just suck at interpreting them correctly.
  9. I have a birthmark shaped just like a space invader on my stomach.
  10. I love marmite on toast.

franciscoThis is Francisco in all his glory, ok, hes slightly dirty but he had just survived a horrible flight from Cancun to Gatwick in the baggage hold. We hit turbulence within minutes of getting airborne and it lasted all the way across the atlantic, so being inside a bag being thrown around must have been fairly horrific. It was bad enough in the cabin ( I also hate flying, its the control freak thing again. Its not helped by the fact that I was an airforce brat and my father’s favourite onflight trick was to explain with the help of an napkin and a plastic fork why planes fly and in some cases stop flying at really inopportune moments). Actually with hindsight, no wonder my mother always insisted we take the ferry wherever possible.

Francisco now lives in the corner of my bedroom, wearing a winter hat (he doesn’t like the cold) and smirking at me.

Over all that works out as more than 10 things I know, but its like a cascade effect, one thing leads to another and all that.

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