Friday, March 25, 2011

Little Orphan Alt | Vidhatri and Healing The "Enemy"

Having friends who play WoW is a good thing. The problem arises when you're like me, with many friends who play many things on many servers. When I first got my account, I was alittle beset by requests to level a toon on this realm or that realm so my buddies could help me out, give me my Standard New Character bag/gold package and other general stuff. I drifted to playing a paladin for the Horde full time, but not before I'd checked out several other options and left several alts orphaned in various locations. Occasionally, I do like to go back to them, and after leveling my main to 85, I've been finding myself checking them out more.

Meet Vidhatri. Draenei resto shaman par excellence

I've made two Draenei toons, and they both have the same hairstyle. I love me some boar's tails

She lives on the Doomhammer server, where the lovely and talented Tankthulhu resides with her paladin main. Unlike Romilly the Blood Knight, she's been very focused from level 1. After all, her people have been trying to stay a step ahead of the Burning Legion for what's certainly been her entire life.She's had to grow up quickly in intense and harrowing situations. Evidenced by my recent feat of leveling her from 8 to past 30 in a week. For me, that's a new speed record.

Vidhatri's not a Loremaster candidate. I barely quest with her at all, in fact. What I do is log on, sit in whatever capital city in which I happen to be (formerly Exodar for the scenery, now Ironforge for the music), queue a couple of random dungeons at a time, and drop totems and buff and heal and heal and heal.

I've grown to love healing. It's a little bit of a challenge without being quite as stressful as playing tank, and lets me get a good look at how 5-mans run. Standing back, I have a better vantage point as to what goes right in a group, and what goes wrong, and how to correct it in my own play style.

I'm also getting used to not having to move around like a paranoid hamster when I want to hop the train to Ironforge from Stormwind (I do this suicide run with Romilly because there are no Horde flight points on that part of the continent, but good archaeology sites) and seeing things from an Alliance-side perspective again.

Ashenvale's just so pretty when the ninja night elves aren't trying to kill you every few steps.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fine Gentlemen of Romilly's Guild

[Dungeon Guide] This tank is terrible
[Dungeon Guide] Have you ever tanked before?
[Dungeon Guide] Well, your (sic) god awful

That's right, I'm not quite great yet. Yes, I'm still cutting my tank teeth, and I made a bad pull. If I've forgotten to turn on my Righteous Fury(whoops), of course the first trash pack is going to just run past me to eat the healer and the mage before I can right myself. After that, they're going to decide my crunchy plate exterior is hiding something delicious for afters. And that'll be all she wrote. If we wipe and it's because I did something wrong/stupid/clueless, I usually just apologize and correct whatever it was.

The dead healer jumped all over me before I'd even released. I waited on my spirit gryphon by the entrance to the instance, letting him rail on my technique and everything I'd done. I even let him micromanage the first pull before I cut my losses. Had I made a mistake? Sure. Do I pay a subscription fee every month to be verbally abused? Certainly not.

You don't want to group with me if you think I'm awful enough to waste five minutes typing to me about it in party chat. Conversely, I don't want to group with you if I think you're an asshole. It's not a productive relationship. So I departed the Halls of Origination, packed up my pride and went back to Orgrimmar to cool down.

The worst part was that the dead mage was a guy in my guild. He'd asked if I wanted to tank for him and I'd exuberantly said yes. Damn it. Not the best way to show my value as a team player. I apologized in guild chat, explained why I'd left and prepated to spend my afternoon doing dailies. Instead, I got this:

[Guild] lol yeah
[Guild] I still want to group if you want to try another one

Ok, wow. no pressure. Someone else in the guild asked to join up once they were out of a battleground, even. We queued up and were dropped into the Lost City of the Tol'vir. One more opportunity to get my face punched in by Neferset.

This time, I tanked the pants off the whole place. Not to be too cocky, though, I wasn't alone. The DPS burned it to the ground around me, the goblin rogue we pulled in I dubbed 'Sapmaster G' for his wicked Crowd Control, and the druid healer was on fire with HoTness. What a difference a positive attitude can make.

What a difference remembering Righteous Fury can make, is what I also mean. D'oh.

They wanted to do another one after we'd turned Siamat into vapor, but I needed a little eyebreak, so we cheerfully bid adieu. I watched a little TV, did some healing for the (gasp) Alliance on another server, and logged back on just before I went to bed to check on some auctions. Immediately, one of the guild officers whispers me:

Hey, Rom. Want to come and tank for me after I'm done in this heroic? I need to level my healer.

In the Great Cataclysm Tank Shortage, I seem to have found myself in a little bit of demand. I don't even know how it happened; I got into this guild on a fluke. Someone invited my roommate's alt, and I had her invite me so I could stop shopping for one. Mostly, I just hang out and say funny things in guild chat and occaisionally help lower level toons beat on things. Then, one day I asked if anyone wanted to come with me while I farmed tanking gear out of normal Grim Batol. And wound up with the guild master and the aforementioned officer at my back.

The guild's name is the
DRAGONOLOGISTS OF FIRE. I need to put it in big font, all caps and bright orange text, because that's always how I feel like pronouncing it. Like an epic 80s hair band soundtrack accompanies every guild achievement. The gentlemen (and perhaps ladies) asking me for tank love are all more experienced than I am, know the fights, and...mostly have tanking alts with which they do not feel like playing. For a group I wound up in due to casual /ginvite practices, it's turned out to be a pretty good match. I get practice and helpful whispers. They get dungeon leveling for their alts. And they're sure to get a player who can handle heroics and raids with the right application of time and trial.It's nice to have people to group with who at least peripherally have my back and can be invested in my improvement..

Now we need to get to work on that hair metal soundtrack.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Watch out for Shrinkshrooms (Deepholm)

One side will make you grow taller and the other side will make you grow shorter

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tank School

Woooooooo! We're gonna get wasted!

Romilly spent much of her squirehood in the Blood Knights goofing off. Drinking at Saltheril's Party Haven, smoking mana cigarettes behind the Farstrider enclave in Silvermoon and treating the Eversong Woods like Spring Break in Cancun. It's no wonder she's having a little trouble carrying herself at level 85.

Hey, Akeldama, why don't any of these boys seem to be interested in us?

In order to not be such a slouch, and to learn how to play that neglected other half the game, Romilly has enrolled in the Grammaton Academy for Tanks (Thalassian Correspondence Course Edition), courtesy of The Wow Guys. With the help of some self-professed 'elitist jerks', I'm going to be taking a critical look at everything I'm doing with Virgoan precision, and noting my progression as a paladin tanking in the endgame from the ground up.

When I say 'the ground up,' I really mean 'so far underground even Therazane is claustrophobic'. Hearthstoned in Scrub City. Already, by tweaking my DPS/Healer bad combo gear into something with better tanking stats, I'm noticing my experience is getting better.

I like math and crunchy numbers, even if they don't always come intuitive to me. Having it spelled out in simple terms like dodge + parry =26% or dodge+parry+ block = 102.4%, or Mastery = Winning made figuring out how to reforge/gem/simply pick gear a little less like ordering off a menu in a foreign language.

After studying a few fight mechanics, I can now tank a normal 5-man to success without getting everyone killed (just people who pull ahead of me). Heroics are next, once I'm done shopping to replace some hopelessly bad equipment and get generally more familiar with my rotation and dealing with problems that arise (like people pulling ahead of me!)

So far, I've been able to upgrade Irontree Sword of the Faultlinewhich I don't even remember getting, to Mace of Transformed Bone. Originally, I'd gotten Clear-Eyed Waistguard based on the stamina bonus without knowing about anything else. I ran Lost City of Tol'vir this morning and the Sand Dune Belt I was gunning for happened to drop the first time. Hooray!

These are baby steps, but they feel pretty amazing coming up from the nervous, clueless wipe magnet I was just last week. Time to celebrate a little!

That's what I'm talking about

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The things you do while in queue

Well, the Warlock got it!

This image is relevant to an actual, legit post I'm working on. I promise

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't Touch King Sunstrider's Hair

Hello, Kael'thas. It's a good thing you're so pretty, because you're a tremendous dickhead otherwise

Friday, March 11, 2011

Romilly - Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the PUG

I started playing WoW in early 2010, after finally getting a computer that could support it. Someone sent me a trial after I casually mentioned interest and it was all over from there.

I made a character on a friend's realm (Gnomeregan) and started noodling around with great newbie exuberance. It was a night elf, so I had no shortage of spectacular scenery things to look at. The Teldrassil incidental music remains among my favorites, and I still get giddy if I'm passing through places like the exterior of Dire Maul and it filters back in.

One thing quickly led to another, and one night in a fit of liquor-fueled impulsiveness, I shelled out for the Burning Crusade expansion. I was already turning into a lore nerd, wanted to see what the expansion races looked like, and, sue me, I like the pointy-eared things. I made a Draenei that got quickly forgotten, and a Blood Elf Paladin that quickly became my new main, and I became a Horde player despite the majority of my gaming friends' Alliance leanings.

Meet Romilly.

I straight quested this character to 85 with few exceptions. I knew about dungeons and groups and pugging and all of that, and even started out specced as Protection with the idea that I might want to be a tank. It sounded fun, even if the idea of dungeons were still way intimidating and unappealing in general. I joined a guild of people who quickly outstripped me in level - the one instance I ran with them they wanted me to heal and I was terrible at it. Being perfectly content to explore a world I'd never seen before and level at my own slow, but enjoyable pace, I did so.

I had a more experienced friend suggest I change my specialty to Retribution around level 40 or so, so I did. Partially because it made soloing that much easier, and partially because he said it would give me good dungeon experience without the tanking pressure. It would have worked if I'd queued more, but I didn't.

In strict character terms, this makes Romilly the most slothful and mercenary Blood Knight around. She spend most of the Northrend Campaign doing the scutwork of the Wyrmrest Accord and gaining the trust of some odd-looking walrus people in the Dragonblight. (Oh, and crushing like a schoolgirl on Koltira Deathweaver, but that's for another post). Outland and the classic zones were the same way. Kill this, collect that. Make piles of gold mining and spend them on a stable full of mounts and pets, but no work that requires her to get her hands dirty. What a spoiled little rich girl.

Then, the Cataclysm came.

It was Blizzard's genius, especially in the later expansions, that spurred my interest in 5-mans. At least the breadcrumb quests didn't feel so much like I was just being lead. I jumped into the Nexus in Lich King because after facing Malygos alongside her, Keristraza felt like my best friend and I couldn't just leave her behind. Same when I finally started dipping my toes into Cataclysm dungeons. I wanted to do Throne of the Tides so badly, because I became endeared to Erunak Stonespeaker as an NPC while in Vashj'ir and wanted to save him.

Then one day, I figured, what the hey, and started queuing on occasion as melee DPS. Used the 30-45 min queue times to do things like quest and grind Archaeology and did pretty well cutting people. I got some nice gear and while I was never the top damage dealer when Recount got posted, I knew my spec well enough to not be a hindrance either.

My original spec kept niggling at me, though, and once dual specialization became super-cheap, I picked Protection back up again. And decided, at level 85 ,with no prior experience, that I wanted to be a tank.

And that's where I am now. Figuring out interesting, but complicated stuff from the top down.