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

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Sixth

So there is a meme going around to go into your screenshot folder, go to the sixth folder and take the sixth image there. I don’t have any screenshot subfolders, so the sixth screenshot in my folders is this one:

I was tagged to do this by a number of folks, I’m sorry but I slacked off so long that I can’t remember exactly who they all were but Cymre was definitely one (possibly the first). This was the outfit I wore to hang out with Velen while I was doing the Love Is In The Air stuff. I wanted the pink lovebird, so I made a visit to my faction leaders every day, and on this day it happened I had gotten my hands on the Velen staff look-alike from the quest chain in SMV. I was thrilled because I THOUGHT I had done the quest chain already and somehow lost the staff, but it turned out I’d never completed it! This staff is an essential component of any draenei caster’s repertoire.

Speaking of the joys of transmogrification, check out today’s From Draenor With Love for another glimpse into my mad ‘mogging. Bag space is becoming a serious issue.

I think every single person has been tagged to do this screenshot thing already, but if you haven’t, consider yourself tagged!

Life as a Casual Raider

I was listening to the Double O podcast today (Episode 15: “Breakup to Makeup.”) This is relevant because while there are no guests, O2 does spend some time talking about a trend in the blogosphere for people to leave the game, switch to another game, or in our case, just take a step back. I can’t really respond to Ophelie’s statement that Voss and I were anything other than regular raiders. (i.e. quintessential raiders or something, her words, certainly not mine). I mean, I’m flustered to think that anybody “looks up” to me. But that sense of obligation was a part of what kept me going for so long, because I find it hard to let anybody down.

Something that Oestrus said hit me even more, though. She remarked that a tendency when responding to goodbye/I’m leaving or changing type posts is for people to be sad or regretful. And it IS natural to feel sad about it, but at the same time she made a great point: That you also have to be happy for the person, because clearly this is something they need, and she’s absolutely right. When I wrote my last post, I was still somewhat reeling from the events that had happened. It’s true, the straw that tipped it for me was not big. It was pretty miniscule, but the cumulative effect of carrying the straws was what broke me. It wasn’t a feather’s weight, it was that feather on top of everything else. Now that it’s been a few weeks of casual raiding, let me tell you about it.

I am drunk on the sensation of free time. I really am. I have an underlying health condition that I haven’t written about because it’s not relevant to a WoW blog, and my health is closely tied to my diet and exercise. It always felt like a huge struggle before. I’d try to cook healthy meals (I love cooking) but I’d have to start them really early so we could walk the dog as soon as Voss came home and even then we’d have to eat our food really quickly and bolt. That was on a good day. On a bad day, it was more like both of us were too tired to cook so we’d end up ordering in or picking something up, eating that and not walking the dog at all. That was before. Now, a delirious array of possibilities has opened up before me. I’ve cooked so many awesome meals. If I’m missing an ingredient, Voss swings by the store on his way home and then I cook it. We walk the dog a bit later (during what would have formerly been a raid time). There’ve been Former Raid Nights where I went downstairs and worked out while watching a movie at my leisure, then laid back and read a book, or worked on From Draenor With Love, or whatever. After just a few weeks of raiding casually (only once a week) I’ve lost six pounds and gained energy I didn’t even know I had. I feel amazing. I can’t believe I put this off for so long, but I can say absolutely and unequivocally that it was the right decision for Voss and I.

I’ve experienced slight pangs of guilt (like when a guildie tells me they’d still wish to raid every night) and that’s hard, but for me to have kept on the way we were going would have been wrong. Voss and I started playing Warcraft because we’re that annoying couple that is inseparable. We are best friends and we do everything together. The raiding situation was putting a strain on us we didn’t even realize. He didn’t want to do it, I felt obligated to do it, he was doing it grudgingly to keep the peace – it was just bad. I told him, “If you tell me that this [game] is affecting our relationship, it’s over, without a second thought. You are 100% my priority.” But he never felt right asking that of me, so it had to come from me, but I see now how it WAS affecting our relationship negatively. Now, he can stay at work late if he needs to without worrying. He doesn’t always have to rush home. We have more time to go on date night whenever, not only on Tuesdays. I’m rediscovering what it’s like to play because and when I want to, and I hadn’t realized how far I’d strayed from that.

That is the key here, for anyone in any situation. Hardcore raider, partcore raider, 5 nights a week, one night a week. If it’s what you want to be doing then it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing! A number of people have linked to my post or commented that it made them evaluate their own relationship with WoW. (To borrow from Double O again, it IS like a relationship). We don’t all have the same experience, drives or motivations. For me, I knew that I was neglecting my health in favour of the game, and so I can’t be apologetic about my decision. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve had so much fun with our raids since we “went casual.” I think last week they cleared DS in about two hours and then ended early. My only concern is that it can’t last because some people will get bored of the limited schedule and seek something more intense – but I can’t and wouldn’t change what they want to suit what I want, so that’s something we’ll have to face when we get there. I’m not going to worry about it prematurely or borrow trouble. Everyone has to do what makes them happy and will be best for them.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t had pangs. Every time I see a heroic kill announcement, a part of me inside has a pang. When I realize that I won’t get the achievements for heroic kills – another pang. I thought about seeing if anybody would be willing to go back into Firelands with me to try to keep building a Dragonwrath, and then I thought – you know what, I don’t want to spend the time it would take to do that, when I could spend that time on something in my real life. So I’m able to login for one raid a week, the overhead is very low – one roster, one schedule, one night, it takes about twenty minutes – and otherwise I login if I really feel like playing and hanging out. When I’m done, I logout again. This game has been part of my life too long (four years!) to just say “I’m done with it,” but I have definitely eased off the throttle. It feels great. I am doing great. Can I say “great” again? Except for the fact that the fire mage nerf landed today. That is somewhat less great. In fact, the opposite of great.

Let’s all have a moment of silence for the burning that was. We’ll still be singeing our enemies, just about 6% less. Every good thing has its time, right?

The Well-Dressed Paladin, Revisited

This is a guest post by Kamalia of Kamalia et Alia. Thank you, Kamalia, I appreciate it so much and it’s great to see more paladin fashion! – Vid

With Patch 4.3 and what Ratshag is calling the TRANSMOGALYPSE just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to re-visit the idea of “The Well-Dressed Paladin” with the intention of making Transmogrification-friendly outfits inspired by each of the Paladin races.

I’ve omitted bracers except in one case where they are actually visible, and left choice of cloaks up to the person using the outfit. The lists compiled by Rades were very helpful for choosing weapons to go with these outfits.

The Crusader

modeled by Ophelie
Helm of Purified Thoughts, Chilled Shoulderplates, Cerulean Filigreed Doublet, Breastplate of the Righteous, Studded Girdle of Virtue, Legplates of the Righteous, Earthmender’s Plated Boots, Spiritualist’s Gauntlets, Aledar’s Battlestar, Commander’s Crest

I built this set around the matching boots and gloves. Originally I tried it for a Dwarf, but soon decided that it would work better for a Human. The Highlord’s Favor/Hyperion Shield/Khan’s Buckler would also be an appropriate choice of shield for this ensemble.

The Knight of the Silver Hand

modeled by Lisan
Khan’aish Helmet, Khan’aish Epaulets, Red Linen Shirt, Leonine Breastplate, Khan’aish Girdle, Shattered Hand Vambraces, Shattered Hand Gauntlets, Starcaller’s Plated Legguards, Explorer’s Boots, Ironfoe, Royal Treasury Courier’s Shield

This set started with the chestpiece and leggings. I tried it with the gloves and boots that I used in the previous set, but the silver trim on those items just didn’t work. The green on the pants doesn’t quite go with the Ironforge Red I used elsewhere in the outfit, but I couldn’t find any pants that I liked better.

The Vindicator

modeled by Vidyala
High Chief’s Crown, Justice Bearer’s Pauldrons, Rich Purple Silk Shirt, Fire Scarred Breastplate, Vindicator’s Cinch, Skyfire Greaves, Boots of the Watchful Heart, Life Bearer’s Gauntlets, Vindicator’s Brand, Aldori Legacy Defender

The chestpiece of this set, a quest reward from HFP, is sort of like a less-ornate version of the T4 Justicar chestpiece.

The Blood Knight

modeled by Antigen
Helm of Infinite Visions, Boulderfist Epaulets, Sawbones Shirt, Blackened Chestplate, Goblin Girdle, Runed Sketh’lon Legplates, Bloodforged Gauntlets, Bloodforged Sabatons, Summoner’s Blade, Bloodforged Guard, Blood Knight Tabard

This is a pretty standard Blood Knight ensemble, spiced up a bit with pure red boots and gloves.

The Sunwalker

modeled by Haloma
Glorious Headdress, Runic Plate Shoulders, Thunder Bluff Doublet, Plate of the Shaman King, Commander’s Girdle, Imperial Plate Leggings, Warbringer’s Sabatons, Warbringer’s Gauntlets, Serenity, Saltstone Shield

The Sunwalker outfit gave me a bit of trouble because most Sunwalker NPCs wear the Grunt’s Plate set, which is white-quality. Only the chestpiece is available in a green- or better quality version. It took me a few iterations of clicking through item lists in WMV to find a harmonious all-plate ensemble.

Bonus Set: The Redeemed Blood Knight

Lightforge Spaulders, Golden Filigreed Doublet, Ursa’s Embrace, Commander’s Girdle, Leggings of the Ursa, Hyperion Greaves, Hyperion Gauntlets, The Willbreaker, Outland Shield

I first started putting this outfit together for the Sunwalker, but once it was finished, it didn’t feel very “Tauren” to me. Rather, it seemed more like something that would be appropriate for a Blood Knight who had embraced a more Human/Dwarf/Draenei-like relationship with the Light following the rebirth of the Sunwell. This shield is a smaller model of the shields hanging around the walls of Sunfury Spire in Silvermoon City. I think this set would look particularly awesome when the Paladin is riding the Thalassian Warhorse or Thalassian Charger.
With the Ironforge shield shown above, it would also be appropriate for a Dwarf.

Paladins have a lot of great Tier sets, to be sure, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into how you might create a unique look that still has “Paladin” written all over it.

Twisted Nether Blogcast

I don’t have much to say today, I just wanted to mention that I was invited to be a guest on the Twisted Nether Blogcast tomorrow at 8 Pacific (or 11 Eastern, depending on which one applies to you). The show is live so you can ask questions if you have any, or just hang out with Fimlys, Hydra and myself for a bit. I’d love to see you there!

Also, thank you to everyone who has been to check out From Draenor With Love this week. Our second comic went up and I am excited to post a third. (Waiting an entire week is killing me every time).

Hoarders

For the past few weekends, I haven’t played very much WoW outside of old time raids and current raids with my guildies. Raiding has still continued as usual but once the weekends arrive Voss and I generally found that we have other things to do. I have an ongoing project that I decided should take precedent over my in-game bank organizing – house organizing! Specifically, several months ago I read a book about minimalism that talked about how to let go of things you don’t need. Possessions themselves come with a responsibility, apart from simply owning them – they need to be stored, kept clean and in working order, in some cases insured, and guarded against theft. The more you own, the more you stand to lose in a disaster. More importantly, the things you own can add up to a mental “weight” you aren’t even aware of.

In our case, that included old furniture cluttering our basement, books I’ll probably never read again, more clothes than I could wear in a month of not washing any (seriously), and a lot of other stuff that is not adding any value to my life. I set out on a mission to pare down and let go of things that I no longer needed or wanted, or found useful. It’s been enlightening and freeing. It’s far from over, naturally, but I pick a small area at a time and focus on it. It helps me to keep from getting overwhelmed to say, “I’m going to weed the books from THIS shelf,” instead of, “I need to get all the junk out of this entire room.” One weekend we pared down our clothes and ended up with eight garbage bags of stuff to donate!

I get rid of MY clothes. Millya's clothes, on the other hand...don't even think about it.

I’ve gotten rid of, to date:

  • my old set of bedroom furniture (bed frame, desk with shelf, dresser, night table)
  • one mattress/box spring
  • a wooden kitchen table
  • a metal kitchen table (it was an art project, don’t ask)
  • one artificial Christmas tree
  • a huge bag of stationery, honestly, I had a problem
  • uncounted amounts of cookware, bakeware, etc (including one entire set of pots and pans)
  • aforementioned eight bags of clothes (out of season, unfitting, unfashionable, whatever)
  • a few bags of extra towels sent to the dog shelter

I’m sure there are more things I’m forgetting, but to me it’s a great list so far! We have much more space. It’s ironic that as this has been going on, I’ve simultaneously been stuffing my WoW character’s banks to the absolute gills – if bank bags had gills, that is. A few months back a firefighter guildie challenged me to write a post about “hoarders,” inspired by the fact that he’s seen many houses in real life that are a fire waiting to happen, and relating to the television show of the same name. I had never seen this show before (we don’t have cable) and I watched a few episodes after he mentioned it. It was absolutely horrifying to me. I don’t ever want to be one of these people, so buried in stuff that it’s consuming them (or damaging their health). I imagine the average person reading this isn’t like that, but still. It’s eye-opening and sordid. Incidentally, for gross-out factor, that same guildie told me he can’t watch the show (while his wife likes it) because the one thing the episodes can’t capture is the smell of a place like that. I guess dealing with that in your professional life doesn’t exactly leave you wanting to think about it in your leisure time, too.

As far as in-game goes, I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff just as much in-game as I have outside of it (except the clothes, never the virtual clothes). I don’t hang onto old enchanting mats anymore – I sell them, reasoning that if I eventually need them, I can just buy them anyhow! I’m curious whether the theory that clutter creates mental distress could be applied to virtual inventories, too. In-game items don’t require insurance or cleaning, but they do create a virtual “mess” and need maintenance. How many of you have guilds for your bank alts? (I know I do!) It’s also nearly impossible to manage the “stuff” accrued across various alts without a system – in the form of add-ons or additional storage space. Larger bags, more alts, more bank slots! I can’t seem to get enough virtual room and it definitely takes up my time to manage it.

Anyway, for me this has been a parallel endeavor. I’m really trying to get rid of junk I don’t need in WoW at the same time that I am slowly but surely de-junkifying my living space. Hint: If you want less junk, you have to put a moratorium on the purchase of new things! Seriously. The rule is, nothing comes in without something going out. So if I buy a new pair of shoes, I have to get rid of a similar pair at the same time. Meantime, I get rid of at least one thing a day (usually to a new home, if I can. Freecycle has been fantastic for this!) At the end of the year, no matter what else happens, at the very least I’ll have 365 fewer things than I did last year!

My WoW efforts are less stringent, but more lucrative. Each thing that I send packing from my bank usually earns me a bit of cash (and if I can’t sell it, at the very least it’s vendor trash). You’d be surprised what people want, both in WoW and out of it. I won $5 betting Voss that someone would want an artificial Christmas tree in September. He insisted that nobody would. It took twelve minutes for someone to contact me through Freecycle.

Long story short: My non-wow time lately has been spent decluttering and it’s starting to pay off. I’m also thinking I need a better inventory addon to manage my space; I’ve been hearing good things about AdiBank so I’m thinking of trying that! How are you handling the gear and outfits you’ve been gathering for Transmogrifying purposes (or, like me, have you always been a packrat?)

p.s. I did a few outfits for Liala at Disciplinary Action along with some lovely company, so you can check that out here if you missed it. See, hoarding pays off; some day you may get to be in a fashion show if your wardrobe is interesting enough!

p.p.s. I don’t actually endorse hoarding. Unless it’s virtual, in which case I’m mostly all for it.

Memory Lane: Burning Crusade Edition

I found this entry in my draft folder from June! I don’t know how I forgot about posting it, but it seems particularly appropriate now as many folks endeavor to recapture and revisit old content in preparation for Azeroth’s greatest fashion show.

I was struck the other day by nostalgia. I don’t think I’ve played any other game so consistently for so long. (And I’m not an “old-timer,” I only started at the end of Burning Crusade in approximately May 2008.) But that’s still three years of time!

I remember being so completely awestruck the first time I saw someone riding a Talbuk. It was in Menethil Harbor and we’d just taken the boat. Someone rode by on one and I gasped to Voss, “What is that? I want one!” I swore then and there that I would have one. I was the first person of my acquaintance to complete the grind with Kurenai. Talbuks have been Millya’s preferred mount ever since. They just seem so perfect for draenei to me, and even when I hadn’t seen Nagrand at all I somehow knew they’d be “right.”

Before I had a talbuk, though, I had my eyes on another prize. The first time we saw the Barrens I was similarly enamored with the Zhevra. It’s a unicorn, but it’s also a zebra! I was crushed to learn that they weren’t actually available as a mount. Until about a month later, they were announced as the very first mount reward for Recruit-A-Friend. Naturally, I knew what I had to do.

Millya's first "fast" mount.

I remember feeling very pleased with myself, too, because I saved money by not having to buy one of the mounts. Yes, the money at the time was a big enough deal to me that I was concerned about saving enough to buy a mount. At the time, WoW felt very much like the “haves” and the “have-nots” and I was squarely in the “pretty poor” camp. This was something I could have, and I was happy with it. (Note, I’m not whining here about my broke state. I hadn’t learned to use the AH or make money in any way. Nowadays it seems really easy to make money and there are plenty of resources for folks to learn how.)

So fashionable!

The other thing I greatly looked forward to was matching armour sets. When I hit 70, I had my pieces of Spellfire robes ready to roll because I’d been painstakingly crafting cloth (and borrowing the CDs of others) for weeks! I was so excited to have a set of armour that matched. I then spent a week straight in Alterac Valley to get the best (PvE and PvP) entry-raiding staff that there was:

Giant Pink Lipstick of DOOM!

Every caster had this, because it was awesome. I still have it in my bank because I am so proud of it. I’d never PvPed before, but I wanted the best thing available to me. It was nice to go to Kara and be passing on stuff because it honestly wasn’t an upgrade. (My obsession with gearing my characters even outside of raiding started really, really early).

Firehawks and lynxes and bears, oh my!

One of my other great memories is going to Zul’aman with our ten-man group and downing it all. I think we missed the nerf by a week; I can’t remember if this was pre or post-nerf but I was so proud that we did it. This was as far as ten-man progression allowed at the time, and we were just a small guild. This screenshot of old friends makes me smile.

"Wicked, wicked, mortals! The forest weeps. The elements recoil at the destruction. Ivus must purge you from this world!"

In the time I spent doing AV, I got to summon Ivus the Forest Lord not once, but twice! For those who are unfamiliar, you can summon this big bad when an AV match is interminable. It seldom happens now because there are things you need to do beforehand and most AV battles tend to be zergs. This is what the summoning looks like. I unfortunately lack a screenshot of the Horde players flailing around as we rode forward with Ivus ahead of us, scattering players like popcorn. The element of surprise was on our side because I think most of them didn’t even understand what was happening and had never heard of Ivus, let alone seen him. This is still hands-down one of my favourite AV memories.

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings..." (John Gillespie Magee Jr., "High Flight"

Finally, this is a screenshot I just had to include. Do you remember how you felt when you were first able to afford a flying mount – any flying mount? Who cared that it wasn’t as fast as the other ones? I imagine for most of us, we’ll never have the actual feeling of piloting a plain or hang-gliding. Yet who isn’t captivated by the idea of flying off into the sky?

I know some folks are not happy about the changes to Azeroth and the addition of flight. I think that it’s absolutely a shame if you never come down to the earth to pay attention to all of the details and work that’s been put into creating this world. At the same time, I love being able to fly everywhere since the first moment I could fly, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Great Noblegarden Egg Hunt

This is, obviously, not the egg you are looking for. You didn't think I'd make it THAT easy, did you? This is last year's!

Just a note to say that Manalicious is participating in the Great Noblegarden Egg Hunt. The contest is open to all and sundry so if you want to take part, just follow the link and instructions to locate the eggs on all the participating blogs! Last year mine was kind of annoying to find so I’d say this year’s is a bit easier, although hopefully not too easy. Try to find it without the hint first!

The contest starts tomorrow. Happy hunting, and good luck!

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