Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for the ‘Gameplay’ Category

There’s Only One Way to Spell Heals

In Cataclysm, it’s been pretty firmly established that I am playing a mage (primarily) and my Holy paladin is my real secondary character. I have a group of lesser-played alts, none of which have hit 85 yet. It allows me to experience different aspects of the game as it suits my mood. Now that Millya doesn’t need anything from instances, I make sure to pug a heroic as a healer pretty regularly. I’ve also been driving myself crazy trying to get this trinket for Vid but we won’t talk about that. Oh no. I did a whole stint of archaeology over the holiday weekend until I just couldn’t take it anymore and I needed a break.

Then I started queuing for battlegrounds with my guildie Fsob. It’s been a fun experience, I haven’t PvPed with any regularity in ages. And of course, I used to do it primarily as a mage. It’s fun to be able to keep your team mates alive while they kill the other team. Going back into battlegrounds I’ve discovered a few things.

People don’t really change. I’d forgotten about the NERD RAGE that PvP seems to inspire in people. Usually at least once per battle (no matter how well the battle is going for our side) someone is raging in bg chat. “Why are you noobs fighting in the ****ing middle?” and “Way to go you ****,” is pretty much the order of the day. You have to either completely ignore what the people are saying (apart from when they’re calling incoming people) or just maintain a thick skin where nothing anybody says will bother you.

BGing with a friend (or friends) makes for insurmountable fun. When I BG alone as a healer, I usually try to pick a competent looking DPS and stick with them as best I can. The problem is, it’s often a crap shoot as to whether that person notices or cares about what I’m doing, so it often led to frustration on my part. I don’t have this problem when I’m playing (quite literally) someone’s pocket healer. Thanks to slowfall and a chopper I stuck to Fsob like glue and we’d soar off cliffs and rumble down the road, being a pretty devastating team. We used Vent/Mumble (yes, we’re currently sort of in-between on these) to communicate things quickly, like “This rogue is all over me,” or “I’m sheeping the paladin.” It was seriously awesome good times.

PvP can’t get stale the same way PvE sometimes can. At one point we were guarding the flag at Farm in Arathi Basin. There was a warlock on the Horde-side named “Puzzler.” He was a real puzzler, because he charged up to where the three of us were – all by himself, and we killed him in about five seconds. In just about the time it took him to rez and run back, he did this again. Initially we just thought he was a bit slow, but then we realized he was a bot. He’d always run up to the same spot, dismount and begin casting the same spell rotation (shortly before we killed him). It occurred to me that he might as well be an NPC or “mob” instead of someone PvPing, and the difference was incredible. In an environment that changes depending on the players, he was completely static and that made him a joke. He was like a PvE encounter. “The boss will do this at x percent of his health, or he’ll begin to channel this spell.” Sure, real bosses have more RNG. But a real player doesn’t move like that, either. And even if you’ve been in the same BG a hundred times, the people there with you will never be the exact same twice! That’s pretty neat. (a.k.a. this is the stuff I think about while I’m standing at Farm).

In one WSG match, the only people to successfully return the flag (twice) were the two of us. I didn’t know flag running could be so much fun! I think Fsob agreed at least partially, because he said, “This is so much easier with a healer!”

I’m actually trying to adapt my healing to suit a BG as we keep practicing. The nice thing is (from what I can tell) a PvP healing spec and a PvE healing spec really aren’t that different. I ran into a few holy paladins that were obviously great BG healers so I had a look at what they were casting. I still need a good PvP trinket, and I’m pretty sure that PvP gear will help me. Anyway, one thing is for sure, I will be doing this again. I’m going to have to dust off Millya’s PvP set as well and maybe do more mage PvPing. The thing is, it’s not as unique. You can hardly move in a BG for tripping over six water elementals. Yes, I like to be a special snowflake, and I’m okay with that. I’ll be sure to update as we proceed – I might even try arena, something I did for a mere evening back in Wrath. With any luck I’d run into other people with as little clue as I have, and less clue than my arena partner might have. How badly could it go, right?

I don't have a screenshot actually relevant to this post content, because when I'm BG healing it sounds something like, "Oh no, okay, oh what the heck, OH GOD, DON'T DIE." You can imagine it doesn't leave much time for screenshots.

Other minor highlights:

An orc shaman named Mooches that charges up to us at Stables on a Kodo and is promptly annihilated. I see the emote, “Mooches thanks you.”

“What the heck?” I said in Vent. “Why did that orc thank me?” Then I looked closer – I was sporting a pair of bunny ears. I’d forgotten about those achievements! He must have needed a draenei paladin and was just thanking me for being me. Well, I’m okay with that. We saw him again later and I thought we were friends now so I blew him a kiss but he tried to kill me anyway. It seems that what we had wasn’t special after all.

*

I see, “Masterbait has assaulted the Gold Mine!”

“You know, that guy is on our team,” I remark.

“Classy,” Fsob replies. Several minutes later:

“Fsob. I’m healing ‘Masterbait.'”

“You might not want to do that.”

*

“OH MY GOD what are there, eight of them? They’re all killing me!”

“Every single one I’ve targeted has been targeting you, haha.”

*

Facing down an inexorable Tauren paladin in WSG:

“This paladin really, really wants to kill me. Like really badly.” I kited him around the Alliance flag room, back down the corridor, back up the corridor, I bubbled, other people attacked him, he bubbled, he was slowed – and the whole time he just charged on towards me in slow motion. I healed myself, I fled. The whole thing felt like it went on about five minutes. “Seriously, he is STILL TRYING TO KILL ME. Why – won’t – you – just – DIE?” Eventually someone got him from behind and he collapsed at my feet. “FINALLY.” He put up a good fight, though, and he nearly got me several times. Then Fsob stole his wings. Poor Tauren paladin, you put up a good fight!

*

A warrior named “Sniggaz” is raging in raid chat. “CAN WE GET A HEALZ TO LM I’M TRYING TO GET WRECKING BALL.” He continues on for the next few minutes.
“WHERE ARE THE FING HEALZ.”

“I’m not going to be healing him.”

“Really? But he asked for healz. With a ‘Z.'”

“I’m not specced for those. I only give out grammatically correct heals.”

I Miss The Horde

This is going to sound crazy coming from me, because I am so die-hard Alliance. Really – I’ve tried playing Horde. I’ve even documented the results. I faction-changed my shaman and it lasted a few months at best – I faction changed her back. I managed to level a Horde mage from 1-80, but at the first opportunity I moved her to another server and made her a draenei. Yes, I have two level 85 draenei mages now, do you want to make something of it? Also, Blizzard makes a fortune because of people like me. I can’t ever add up the amount of money I’ve spent on server-transfers/faction/race changes or it would cause my head to explode.

I know that the vision for this expansion was to really put the emphasis on the capital cities again, and I can appreciate that. I never thought I’d hear myself say this. But I really miss seeing the Horde around. When we used to share first Shattrath and then Dalaran you really got the sense that there was a whole half of the world you were ‘missing out on.’ Oh, sure, I can visit Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff (and I do, every time I’m doing archaelogy and I accidentally fly overhead and flag myself for PvP…) but I never see the people playing. I know Horde players exist (err, hordes of them…?) Voss and I went to Video Games Live this past weekend and after they played the Warcraft music some guy yelled, “FOR THE HORDE!” We really need a better battle-cry. It doesn’t have the same ring. Although someone else a few rows back from us yelled back, “Let’s take this outside!”

Part of my problem might be that my server doesn’t have a healthy population balance so there are fewer Horde players to see. But there are dragons perched on every surface in Stormwind, the banks are constantly jam-packed with people, and it’s starting to make me feel a bit stir crazy. At least running into an orc or seeing a Tauren around was a change of pace. Now there may be a crowd of people, but there’s also a sense of sameness.

So there, I said it: I miss your fur and horns, green skin and rotting knee-bones. I know it’s the world of Warcraft and so we’re kind of at war but we’ve done some things together, right? We’ve killed some common foes, and all. I know you’re out there, but I don’t see you any more! Maybe I need to hit the BGs (although it’s not quite the same as sharing a bank).

What do you guys think? Do you miss me too?

The World’s Worst DK

My history with Death Knight characters is pretty simple: I don’t play them. I created one on my current server an age ago, to check out the local culture. I leveled her through the DK starting zone while keeping one eye on my prospective guild. I wanted to know who was online at what times, I wanted to see what the economy was like, and just generally get a feel for the server. This Death Knight became my bank alt after I parked her in a city, and was later deleted in favour of making one of my level 80 characters into a bank alt. I didn’t regret her loss, especially since deleting her meant that Millya is at the top of my character list.

But recently, I offered to help a friend out by being a villain in a storyline of hers. Naturally we aren’t on the same server so I needed a character high enough level to get around. It was with some trepidation that I made another Death Knight and then proceeded to not level it. I asked Snack for some tips and he wrote me a long, comprehensive e-mail that covered speccing and rotation. I put the buttons on my bar in the exact order they were to be cast in. I began completing the quests to earn some talent points. I thought things were going well enough, but I had forgotten an important fact: I am the world’s worst DK.

I death grip when things are already standing right next to me. I get flustered and just roll my hand across the line of buttons, forgetting the carefully calculated sequence. Just when I was starting to feel okay about things – having a few levels under my belt – I was sprinting around feeling all fearsome when I FELL OFF the Ebon Hold. Yes. There are no guardrails there. I fell right out of the dread floating base and plummeted to my (re-death) far below. Chagrined, I released before any other new death knights could witness my shame. I’m not sure what Arthas would actually say. “We went to all this trouble to make you a weapon of death and destruction and you die from FALLING? Come on, work with me here.”

Still burning with the shame of that, I continued slaughtering the innocent and otherwise generally making myself a nuisance throughout the countryside. I was happy to talent deep enough into Unholy to obtain something I’ve never had before: a ghoul with a name! I was excited to meet my new companion in death nuggetry. He was just perfect. Or should I say, we were perfectly suited to one another.

I hope you have all your pebbles in a safe place.

Yes, Pebblethief. My frightening companion in crime apparently earned his moniker performing such evil tasks as…stealing pebbles. Not even rocks, just pebbles. From whom? Well, we’ll never know. Maybe kids with a rock collection? We made a good team! Well, this is partially true, even though he caused me some unnecessary upset. If you’ve made a Death Knight before, you know the part where you are told to go and dispatch one of your own kind. This varies slightly from one race to another, with words carefully calculated to absolutely devastate you unless you have a heart made of…pebbles.

Here was my encounter. It’s been so long since my first DK that I screen-shotted the text. I wanted to have it in case I ever wanted to work it into a draenei-related post later on. Yes, that is a mage addon in my UI, blinking frantically to tell me: You don’t have any mana gems! I’m not sure it’s possible for you to not have any mana gems! Are you even a mage? What’s WRONG WITH YOU.

"I'd recognize those face tentacles anywhere!"

So I suffered through the speech. “They’ve tried to drain you of everything that made you a righteous force of reckoning. Every last ounce of good…Everything that made you a draenei!” I knew I was going to have to kill this guy, but at least I could sort of cringe through it and then never think of it again. Except that when the time came…he died, and I didn’t get quest credit. I was confused. I ran back to the questgiver. I checked my quest log. Nope, definitely no credit for having killed Valok the Righteous. I waited for him to respawn. I did it again, muttering under my breath, and again I didn’t get quest credit. I dropped the quest and ran back to the questgiver to make sure I had the right quest and why are you people tormenting me by making me kill draenei over and over again. A third time and STILL nothing, when Voss casually walked by and said, “Oh, look, your ghoul is killing him too quickly. Or maybe it’s just that you really like killing draenei so you wanted to do it again, and again…”

Ugh. He was completely right, and dismissing Pebblethief before attempting this horrible task did the trick. Poor Valok, I’m sorry. I run with a different crowd now.

Pebblethief, my trusty ghoul. We quested along together right up until the point where I was going to hide in a minecart, sneak onto a ship and wreak havoc. I should preface this by saying that I don’t play pet classes very often. I realized my mistake too late. I hopped into the minecart and it began to move. Pebblethief blithely followed along as my mine cart was towed onto the ship. A chill ran down my spine as I realized what was about to happen. I couldn’t unsummon him, and a whole crowd of elites awaited. (I’m not going to say anything about the relative intelligence of the Scarlets, who weren’t suspicious about a mine cart being chased by a ghoul.) Alas, poor Pebblethief, a ghoul cut down before his time. May you live (again) in gentler times, my friend. Preferably with a DK who isn’t a complete noobcake and will remember to unsummon you before embarking on any “secret missions.”

I’m good with artillery, though, so the mission on the ship went off without a hitch. I obtained a new ghoul afterwards with a forgettable name and continued questing towards DK freedom. Everything was going fairly according to plan (thanks to Snack’s instructions) and I was nearing the big dramatic scene at Light’s Hope Chapel. I waited patiently for the battle to begin, and then began slaughtering the forces of Light with abandon. It was fun, and then it was dramatic, but there was a problem. Once the actual talking scenes begin, everyone is supposed to go neutral and wait for their betters to finish being dramatic. Well, this guy didn’t get the message. (p.s. This whole scene is better if you listen to this music at the same time, much thanks to Rades).

I come in peace.

You may have noticed, he’s also a boss. So I ran up to stand with my undead buddies and listen to what was happening – he pulled out of the pack, ran over and one-shot me. (I’m only level 58!) Thinking he’d be sated by my needless slaughter, I quickly released and ran back to my corpse so that I wouldn’t miss the scene. He was still there, and he casually cut me down again. This time I spirit rezzed, so that I could come back on my trusty steed dead horse thing and stand a snowball’s chance of actually running away from him before he killed me again.

People with skulls on their nameplates have a really large aggro radius when you are level 58. He began to chase me, the entire time this was going on. “He’s sent you and your death knights to meet their doom, Darion!” Imagine, extremely dramatic scene, very important lore figures…and one jackass death knight on a horse sprinting CIRCLES around everyone present with Lord Maxwell Tyrosus hot on her tail. I ran this way, large, looping circles (trying to stay near enough to still get quest credit at the end) throughout the entire scene. Even when the talking was over and I had to go and pick up the quest to learn the Death Gate spell – even then, he didn’t relent! I had to kite him far away from the chapel so that I’d have enough lead time to turn in and pick up the quest before he could reach and kill me.

I can just imagine the irritation from all these high-ranking death knights and paladins.

“What is that one doing, Mograine?”
“Oh, you know, sometimes their brains have started to rot a little… Stop that, will you?” (Gallop, gallop)
“Tyrosus, why are you chasing her? Stand down, man!”
“Death knight scum! /froths”
“Oh, forget about it, let them play, we’ve got to do this scene. Ahem– You have been gone a long time, Father.”
Me: *whimper*

I completed the rest of the quests with resurrection sickness, the debuff falling off just in time for me to go to Stormwind and get pelted with fruit. I have a question about that, actually. The spitting, that I can understand. That’s easy. But why do all these Stormwind guards just happen to have pockets full of rotten fruit? It stretches my suspension of disbelief a little. Is it yesterday’s lunch, just ripe for death knight pelting? Why do they ALL have it?

Death Knights can’t catch a break. Now that mine is level 58, she’ll only be venturing out to help with Rhoelyn’s story, and I think it’s time that I accept – I just wasn’t meant to level a Death Knight! Just be happy you’ll never run into me in an instance. It could be ME on the other side of LFD.

"Hey guys, what's up? We going to kill some paladins?"

Character Hierarchy: Who’s the boss?

I’m always interested in discussions about which character people consider their ‘main.’ I know people who have two mains, one they raid with and one that is their achievement/collector. Is your main your oldest character? The one you love the most? If you’re an RPer, perhaps it’s the character whose story you are most invested in. Changing mains can lead to mixed feelings and even a confusion of identity. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true! My friend Rades has been playing his death knight character primarily since he was unhappy with the hunter changes, but his identity in the WoW community is still pretty strongly a burly green hunter. After all, his blog is called Orcish Army Knife.

Millya's (and my!) first raid ever. I love this screenshot; I can feel the tension I felt at the time being told "Go stand here," while we waited to pull - and to me Millya looks as if she feels the same way. (p.s. Spellfire set and PvP staff, so retro).

I remembered being flat-out shocked when Wrath came out that people would change “mains” at this time. This was naivete on my part, to the tune of, “But you are a priest, how could you level your druid first?” Plenty of people I know switched characters at the beginning of Wrath (from a bear to a paladin! from a priest to a druid! from a hunter to a death knight!) I had to reconcile myself to the fact that people won’t stay the characters you expect them to stay. The death knight was especially rough because we had to wait for him to catch up to us at max level. The new expansion was a valuable experience, though, because when Cataclysm was coming out I knew to expect it and I started the conversation in-guild really early: Who are you going to want to be playing in Cataclysm? Several people seized on that opportunity, and of course now I understand at least partly why. If you are dissatisfied with your class or just want something new, nothing levels the playing field like the gear reset at a new expansion.

I’m continually surprised by how even when you think your main is clearly defined, other characters can sneak up in the rankings and even dethrone the long-time king or queen. Unexpectedly during Wrath, I dropped all of my max-level characters to play Shaedra – a character who was level forty when I was raiding Naxxramas turned out to be the healer I brought into Ulduar. I really fell in love with being a druid, and the character herself (as I was still on an RP server at the time) was a ridiculous amount of fun to play. Her personality was outrageous and she made people laugh, and I think that was a large part of why she became my “main.”

I took many screenshots of Shae because she was fun to photograph. She's posing here with what was actually a feral staff from Ulduar but it looked so neat I used it for screenshots.

As a confirmed altoholic, I have to admit that there’s always a certain shuffle going on with my characters. I had to play a healer because of raid group requirements, and I found that at the time I preferred to be a druid. I’ve since done this several more times. I remember one of my RLs famously remarking, “You can bring anything you want! But, can you bring a healer?” (Sorry, Saif!) It’s not that I didn’t enjoy healing, but at the time I had an awesome partner. It was fun to rock through Naxx with my druid buddy, two-healing everything. We were a great team.

My later experiences with Shae in Ulduar didn’t really match up with that. No one else in our group wanted to/was in a position to heal, so every week we’d be pugging again. There was the priest who asked whether I was a guy or a girl on Vent (okay, I know I don’t have a high-pitched voice, but I think I still SOUND like a woman), there were healers who would DC, there were healers who clearly had no idea what the heck they were doing. In one week’s run, I did sixty percent of the healing, the other healer did twenty (twenty!) and the rest of it came from other sources. On the one hand, it’s kind of fun to feel superhuman. On the other, I’d finish each raid with a crazy tension headache and started bursting into tears for no reason. This is when we realized that we were not succeeding at running a raid group, and I was burned out on being a healer.

My poor Holy priest, she is the epitome of "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." I have since race-changed her to be a draenei and she really doesn't have a story of her own.

So, I was happy to begin raiding as a mage again when I server transferred and moved to Business Time! They needed a mage. I had kept Millya’s gear at around T9 level because I can’t bear to let my beloved characters languish. BT didn’t really need a warrior but they accepted Voss grudgingly on my good merit (and conjured cakes). The truth is, I played a healer because a healer was needed, but I’m not sure any character was ever my true “main.” They are powerful second-string characters and sometimes I play them, but for me, there’s only really one true main.

Millya's triumphant return to Ulduar hard-modes - i was absolutely floored by some of the scenery in later Ulduar. Please ignore the fact that she is wearing pants, something that would never, ever happen if she had a say in it.

My screenshots folder tells the tale. As I rummaged through looking for good shots of all my characters, I saw the amount of documenting I had done for my behooved spellslinger. There are shots of her in every raid instance, dinging level 70, level 80 – learning how to polymorph people into pigs and wearing the worst Burning Crusade fashion choices. In a way, she’s my least exciting roleplay character because she is me. My other characters are often fun because I deliberately try to make them different – an outspoken booze hound/hedonist, a determined inventor, etc. She’s a bookish intellectual with a temper – not really my most creative decision given my personality. This doesn’t mean I never get confused about the main/alt issue. As recently as this week I’ve thought about playing one of my healing characters because it’s what the raid group needs. This time, fortunately, I faced up to the reality that even if I did it “for the good of the group” I would always miss her. If mages had a healing spec (a la Rift) I would not hesitate! I would chloromance the heck out of my raid group. But that’s not an option.

My feelings towards individual characters is a shifting thing. I haven’t been as excited about Shae since she is no longer a happy tree healer. It’s sad, but true. She’s languishing at level 83. Vidyala became such a favourite that I seriously considered playing her in Cataclysm, but she never quite made it. She is the queen of pugs and possibly an eventual alt run, but she isn’t my main.

Vid-on-ice. Or is that in ice? Anyway, you all know the fight. I guess my pathetic magic had betrayed me.

She is my top pick for when we’re branching out into alt-territory, though! This tier of raiding doesn’t seem very pug-friendly so I’m not sure how much raiding she’ll do, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have time to maintain two “complete” characters. Besides, if I weren’t running LFD pugs, how would I get crazy pug stories to write blog posts about?

Fireballing M.A.G.E.

I knew that when I felt a rush of relief at not having to switch characters to fill a healing slot that it was the RIGHT decision. I don’t want to not be a mage! I don’t know if it’s the class so much as Millya herself. If I could change her class and keep my mounts, titles, and achievements, I might consider changing her to a priest. Barring that, I don’t see it happening. Incidentally, I’ve heard that they are introducing the option to rearrange your characters on the character screen and I am so happy about this. It’s actually okay because Millya is at the top – I deleted my 58 Death Knight just so that she would be at the top. I don’t know why, I am OCD about some things. Now I will be able to put seldom-played alts at the bottom and arrange my other characters in the true pecking order.

How about you? Do you have one main forever? Did you find yourself switching when you least expected it? And why does your main hold the title?

Further Adventures in LFD (Paladin adventures, of course).

A snapshot from Vid's pug life - every single mob in Stonecore descending on us simultaneously.

I ran a pug last night. This is nothing new. Actually, Vidyala – the erstwhile Pugging Pally – dinged 85 some weeks ago and has been quietly running many pugs since then. Of course, I try to run with guildies when available. Guild XP is valuable! But when they aren’t, I pug.

The first pug had me zoning in to Grim Batol, right in front of the first boss, General I-Charge-People-In-The-Face-Guy. This isn’t usually a good sign, because it means that the group probably just wiped on that boss and then their healer left. I assume their healer left, since it turns out that all four other people were from the same guild. I said hello, as I do, and after a few minutes one person said, “No Englis.” Okay. It’s going to be sort of tough to talk about boss strats if nobody speaks the same language, but I figure there’s no harm in trying. Most people know these bosses, yes? Let’s give this a try anyhow.

It does not go well. These people don’t seem to understand the Blitz mechanic, because each time he does it one of them dies except one lone DPS. When I try to tell them of course, they don’t understand me. The tank is not tanking the trogg adds and they are all over me, no matter that I ran them to him. The DPS do not kill them. We all die. I’m starting to understand why they may have lost their first healer.

We pull him again. We lose a DPS to the first Blitz, and then another to the second. At this point it’s just three of us left and almost every Blitz is on me. I hold it together as long as I can but my mana can’t take the length of time one DPS, a tank and a healer will require to kill a heroic boss on their own. I drop group.

Enough time has passed that I’m not on random cooldown anymore so I am able to queue up again immediately and wait ten minutes for a group that I can hopefully communicate with. Soon I see the Vortex Pinnacle load screen.

“Hey guys,” I say. This group all says hi, and then the DK tank declares in party chat, “We have 50 minutes until reset, so lock and load.”

I think, “Oh boy,” but Vortex Pinnacle isn’t a long instance. We’ve got time to do this. What that seems to mean in DK parlance is “Chain-pull forever and never pause.”

I will grant you, Vid is my alt. I do work on and love her as much as I can, but she’s no Kurn or Walks (and nor am I). We have two melee DPS and one mage. There is tons of incidental melee damage in VP. I can keep folks alive, but even using Divine Plea on cooldown is not going to cut it, I need to drink to do that. The resulting series of pulls is something like a snowball rolling downhill and gaining momentum. I am able to regain less mana after each pull, and by the time he pulls the last trash pack just before the first boss, I am completely, 100% OOM. Frustrated, I can’t even start drinking because I’m already in combat. I manage to eke out the pull by judging my face off, Crusader Striking and using Word of Glory as much as I possibly can. It’s not fun.

I say in party chat, “Please don’t pull when I’m completely OOM.” The DK is quick to retort, “I had cooldowns, it was fine.”

Continuing, I say, “I know you guys want to do this fast but we’ll get it done faster if nobody dies.”

“If I had died it would be on my own head,” the DK says.

His DPS DK guildie chimes in, “It will make you a better healer.”

I bite my tongue on any further possible reply and just resolve to do the best I can. I’m pretty mild-mannered when it comes to most pugs – if something is intolerable (people who don’t know a boss that I can’t even explain it to) I might leave, but most times I’ll roll with what’s going on. This riled me.

First of all, it’s the dismissive attitude. Some groups make me feel like a walking first aid station. This casual disregard for what I was saying, “Hey – let me get the resource I need so I can do my job,” made me feel like even less than that. I felt invisible. This was not a tank I could trust. Of course, you can’t have the same affinity with a pug tank you just met that you will have with someone you know and trust. I wouldn’t ever expect that. And perhaps I am spoiled, because the tanks I tend to run with respect their healers.

But for that statement, I probably would have just shrugged it off. It’s as if this guy and his buddies said to me first, “We’ll decide when you need to stop and drink, AND shut up because it will be good for you.”

I heal pugs because I want to be a better healer. There is nothing that forces me to react quickly, think on my feet and become familiar with my tools and tricks more than a pug. It’s why I’m there. I didn’t even need a daily when I ran this VP – I’d done one earlier with guildies. I just felt like healing an instance. So I don’t need some random pug DK telling me what I do or don’t need to do to ‘be a better healer.’ I thought about this the entire run.

Was the breakneck pace and lack of CC making me work hard? Definitely.

Would it ultimately make me a better healer? Probably.

Was I free to leave at any time? Sure, but I stayed out of pure cussed stubbornness. (You’d be surprised the kinds of things stubbornness gets me to do).

Was it fun? Not at all.

Did any of them say thanks at the end for a job well-done? Of course not. I could have been any person with a plus sign next to my name; they don’t care that the intense AoE healing I had to do to keep all those melee up without CC was tough. They’ve already forgotten me, or if they remember me at all it’s to congratulate themselves on “giving that paladin healer a challenge.”

I am ranting about this because it’s not the first time I’ve encountered this attitude. The other day I ran Throne of the Tides with a hunter and mage friend. The paladin tank thought he was pretty hot stuff. Fsob said, “Feel free to mark Moon and I will sheep things,” and the tank said, “It is more fun without CC, I won’t be doing that.”

“No thanks,” I replied, and asked Fsob and Fuzz to CC anyway. Of course they did, and I could actually breathe. This tank did not have the kind of gear or skill to sustain an “all or nothing” approach to current heroics, yet he clearly felt he was entitled to dictate how the run would go. I’m not sure how it would have been without my friends there (both awesome DPS, and both ignoring the tank in favour of CCing). He then proceeded to freak out because “MYYY PAAANTSS!1!!1″ dropped at the end of the run, and then he needed on the +Spirit trinket for good measure, so obviously this guy had deeper problems.

What this all boils down to, as far as I’m concerned, is a simple bottom line: Be courteous to the people in your run, no matter what their role. If your healer says, “Please CC,” and you have CC available – do it. Because not doing it presumes that the healer should work twice as hard because you just want to be lazy.

If your healer says, “Hey, I’d like to drink sometime,” don’t get belligerent and insist that you’re just fine without the healer. I have a newsflash for you! Other people take damage besides the tank. They don’t have cooldowns. They don’t wear tank gear. If I can’t heal them, THEY might die, and you’re just wasting all of our time. I would never, ever pull a mob or group for the tank and then say “It’ll make you a better tank if you have to taunt the mobs off me instead of pulling them yourself.” As a tank, I wouldn’t refuse to taunt something back from a DPS who pulled and say, “It will make you a better DPS.” So don’t flat out refuse a reasonable request I make as a healer, or at least – don’t be surprised when your LFD queue times increase because healers are tired of dealing with this kind of thing and they just wait to run with their guilds instead.

Orcalicious

Sometimes when you hang around friends a lot, you can start to pick up on each other’s habits. Speech patterns, habits, you know. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I haven’t been true to myself. As a result – please click through to see my blog redesign and a new name, too!

This is the real me, you guys. I’m just Horde at heart, and I was meant to write about orcs.

Home sweet Orgrimmar.

I’m still going to write about mages, though! Because of course, some things never change. I’m afraid if you want to read about draenei from now on, you are going to have to go and check out my good friend’s blog. It’s awesome! It’d be even better if it were about an orc, though.

Fire Mage Gemming: A Quick Overview

I’ve been seeing a disturbing mage trend lately. Sometimes folks send me armory links (their own, a friend’s, a guildmates’, whatever). Sometimes these armories reveal things. Horrible things, people. Mages with strength shoulder enchants. Mages with all blue gems. Although I’m primarily concerned with Fire these days, Intellect is the strongest stat for all mage builds. But it’s not aimed at them and so statements about secondary stats (crit, haste) may not hold true. Use at your own risk, your mileage may vary, etc.

Seeing Red

Gemming a fire mage is simple!

You want Brilliant Inferno Rubies.

Lots and lots of Brilliant Inferno Rubies. Intellect is far and away our most powerful stat. A red socket? Put a red gem in it.

So many beautiful red gems.

Now this next part is, I think, where many mages get tripped up. It’s extremely tempting when you see a socket of a particular colour to want to put a gem that will match that colour. We’re taught this as kids, right? Sorting games, matching games, all your crayons colour-sorted (okay, maybe that was just me).

You must let this go.

Whenever you’re gemming any piece of gear, take a critical look at what you stand to gain and lose. For example, take these Firelord’s Gloves. They have a yellow socket. The socket bonus is +10 Mastery, which you could achieve if you used an orange Reckless Ember Topaz. In that case you’d have +20 Int, +20 Haste, and +10 Mastery. But it’s not worth it. You’re losing 20 Int by not gemming an Inferno Ruby, and Int should be your priority.

Now let’s look at another piece of tier gear, something a bit trickier, the Firelord’s Leggings. Now these have a red socket (no brainer) and a yellow socket. But look at the socket bonus – it’s +20 Int. You could put an Inferno Ruby in each socket and you’d have +80 int gain from gems. Or, if you put a red (+40) and an orange (+20 Int/+20 Haste) you’d also meet the socket requirements so you’d have a total of +80 Int and +20 Haste. In this case you stand to gain by using an orange gem, but unless the socket bonus on a piece is 20 Intellect or greater, it will almost always be a DPS loss to gem other than red.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I’m anticipating you here. But what about hit gems, you say. I’m so far below the hit cap, I can’t possibly hit the cap without using gems. I still stand by no blue gems, period. At the beginning of the expansion when our meta gems were loopy you could argue a case for blue gems. The hit cap can seem a distant goal. First, you have to be familiar with other ways to reach the hit cap. Investigate hit trinkets (like the one from Tol Barad) and reforge your weakest stats to hit on all your gear wherever possible. For fire mages, this means mastery. Reforge mastery because it’s really not great. Seek gear with hit on it, and see how close you are at that point. If you’re close, consider that you may be hit-capped and you will do less DPS than a mage who is not hit-capped but has more Int.

I know, it’s radical. We’re bludgeoned with hit cap this and hit cap that. And don’t get me wrong, it’s important to reach the hit cap. But hit is only important up until the point where it isn’t – and perhaps even close to that point. Over the past month my hit has varied from between about 16.5% and 17%. Having all of my spells hitting harder (with more spellpower, more int!) is, I believe, better for me than killing myself to reach the hit cap. Look at everywhere you can obtain hit (enchants, reforging, gear) and seek it through those avenues first before devoting your gemming to it. In any slot where you are sacrificing potential Intellect, realize that you will be hurting your DPS.

Much like the Firelord’s Leggings above, there will sometimes be pieces of gear where having a purple hybrid gem to gain a socket bonus IS worthwhile. In these cases, by all means, use an Intellect/Hit gem. That extra twenty hit will be invaluable and it’s just icing on the delicious intellect cake we so love to conjure.

If you want to read about this in more depth, the Fire Mage Compendium at EJ is excellent and should cover all of your needs. I can’t recommend it enough. I know not everybody wants to read EJ though, you may just have a mage alt you like to play from time to time, or whatever. So, the TL;DR version:

Gem red, unless the socket bonus is equal to what you’d stand to gain from gemming red anyway. Grab as much Int as you can. Reforge your gear to gain the hit you need and seek gear with hit already on it. Remember the in-game tooltip shows you how much hit you have versus various level creatures, and you only need 17% hit if you’re going to be raiding. Your DPS might be higher if you aren’t quite at the hit cap even for raiding, but use this advice with caution. It’s one of those ‘you have to know the rules before you can break the rules’ things. If you just want to run 5-person content, load up on Int and never look back!

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