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

Sugar Draenei Cookies How-To

 

Millyawithcookies

I saw that these little “person” cookies are an Azeroth tradition! But I don’t want little human person cookies, I want draenei cookies. With a few simple changes, you can also make little draenei cookies.

You will need:
1 batch of your favourite cutout cookie recipe (Gingerbread or sugar cookies work well, for this demo I used sugar cookies).
1 “gingerbread man” shaped cookie cutter preferably with rounded feet as shown below.

Cutters with rounded feet.

Cutters with rounded feet.

Other cutters look like this, and because of the shape of their feet/legs they wouldn’t work as well for these cookies. The one on the far left MIGHT work but has a more pronounced heel than I’d prefer. The other ones, no.

Don't ask me why I have so many little person cutters, or why the last one looks like a chalk line incident.

Don’t ask me why I have so many little person cutters, or why the last one looks like a chalk line incident.

A bit of flour in a small bowl
Rolling pin
Sharp knife (like a paring knife)
2 parchment paper lined baking sheets
Small spatula for moving cookies

For decorating:
Batch of either buttercream or royal icing
Candies, sprinkles, etc. Specifically for these cookies I used confetti for the eyes/buttons, white sanding sugar for outfit cuffs, and red sanding sugar for the bodies.
Food coloring – if you want really intense colours you will need the paste type colouring such as Wilton makes. I used Cornflower Blue, Red Red, and Black.
Paper plates (if you’re going to use sanding sugar)

The next part of what you’ll need depends on how you intend to decorate. If you are going to use Royal Icing, I highly recommend you use little squeeze bottles (found at Michaels or other craft stores). You’ll also need meringue powder which you can find in a kitchen store or at Michaels, and a little icing spatula for spreading the icing. I’ll have a section specifically about Royal Icing later on.

If you’re just using regular buttercream, you’ll need a piping bag and at least one round tip. You can do the whole “sandwich bag with the tip snipped” trick if you’re in a pinch, but it’s not going to give great results for detailed decorating.

Okay, now comes the fun part! You’ve got your area all ready:

Note the little bowl of flour.

Note the little bowl of flour.

Your baking sheets are also ready to go:

This sugar cookie recipe didn't make very much dough.

This sugar cookie recipe didn’t make very much dough.

Great! So flour your rolling surface, also flour your rolling pin a little bit, and roll out your dough to 1/4″ thickness. Use your cookie cutter to cut out a little person shape.

cookiecutting

Have Voss take a photo that turns out blurry because you are as fast as lightning.

Okay, so you’ve got your little person shape. Ordinarily this is the part where you’d just drop it on the baking sheet, but you’re not going to do that yet. Take your sharp knife that I mentioned before. Now cut a triangle out of the bottom of the cookie’s feet. Like so:

Repeat on the other side.

Repeat on the other side.

Now you have to make a decision. Are you making a lady or a dude draenei cookie? If you are making a dude, take your sharp knife and cut just a sliver of cookie off the top of his head so that it forms a point! If you are making a lady, move your cookie to the baking sheet for the next step.

Lady is on the left, dude on the right.

Lady is on the left, dude on the right.

This is what your cookie will look like if you are making a lady draenei.

This is what your cookie will look like if you are making a lady draenei.

Okay, so you’ve got your draenei cookie onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look great on the surface (like mine, which had a weird ugly bit. This dough was dryer than other sugar cookies I have made. Icing hides a multitude of sins). If your cookie is a lady, she’s still missing something! You have an option here: 1) Use the triangles you cut from her feet to make the horns, or 2) cut shapes from scraps to make the horns. I’ve done it both ways, and either way is fine. If you cut them, it’ll look like this:

You can cut round shapes too if your knifework is good, or you can just gently round the triangles.

You can cut round shapes too if your knifework is good, or you can just gently round the triangles.

Now attach your horns gently to your draenei’s head by setting them alongside in the appropriate place, and gently smoothing between the two pieces with your fingers. Gently round them if desired, or leave them straight if that’s the style of horn you’d prefer. At this stage your cookie should look like this:

It doesn't matter if the horns aren't exactly perfect, as they should smooth out a bit while baking.

It doesn’t matter if the horns aren’t exactly perfect, as they should smooth out a bit while baking.

Bake your cookies at the temperature and for as long as your recipe directs. Watch them carefully, especially sugar cookies are pretty delicate and the small parts (like horns) will tend to brown very quickly. Here you can see two of my cookies after baking. This was a new recipe for sugar cookies I was trying, and they browned a bit more than I would’ve liked.

Lady draenei on the left, dude on the right.

Lady draenei on the left, dude on the right.

Hooray! Your cookies are baked. Let them cool on the baking sheet for awhile. You don’t want them to be at all warm when you go to start decorating. While they’re cooling, you can make your icing and get your decorating stuff ready! Now, you have some choices here as outlined above. I’m going to show you some examples of how I have decorated these cookies before we get into the step-by-step.

gingerdraenei

IMG_0036

These are the gingerbread draenei I made a few years back. I used a plain, white buttercream icing to just draw them on there. You can see this method requires some drawing ability. If you aren’t confident doing that, this might not be the best method for you. BUT, you could use buttercream icing to still make a really nice cookie, just simpler. I’ve never done that personally because I like to make my life complicated, but here’s an example of other, non-draenei cookies I have decorated:

gingerbreadmen

See, there’s no reason you couldn’t take this and apply it to a draenei cookie. Do a simple little smiley face, use icing to cement some M&M’s in place, and you have a cute, festive little draenei cookie. So don’t let the elaborate decorating methods intimidate you! The next part of this demo is what I would consider “advanced.” It isn’t for the faint of heart, and you should have some decorating experience if you’re going to do it. Or you’ll tear your hair out and be mad at me (please don’t). Here’s what the cookies look like when decorated with royal icing.

DSC_2700

They aren’t perfect (I’d never used this icing before either!) and I have learned a few things I’d do differently for next time.

Decorating your cookies with Royal Icing
Royal icing is a very different beast from regular, buttercream icing. It’s runnier, and the best way to apply it is using little squeeze bottles rather than a piping bag. The advantage of it is that it gives you that puffy, smooth icing look that you can’t really get from another kind of icing. The method behind using royal icing is actually pretty simple – you first outline an area you want to be a specific colour. (Looking at my cookies above, one hand would be an area, or the faces). Then you fill the area with icing, and use a small spatula to smooth it out. At this point if you want any special effects or decoratings (like the sanding sugar on the draenei’s cuffs) you sprinkle that on. Then you let that colour dry and move on to another cookie. By the time you come back to the first cookie to add a second colour, your icing is dry and won’t run together. There are wet-on-wet ways of using the icing too but I didn’t employ any of those. If you want to see some demos in action, Sweet Dani B has some good ones on her Youtube channel. I also linked to her royal icing recipe earlier.

If you’re using royal icing, I’d recommend after you mix it up (one batch makes a lot) put it into bowls and make the colours you know you’ll need. Then, take a sandwich bag and put it over a mug. Scoop your coloured icing into the bag and then seal the bag. Snip a tiny tip of the icing bag and put the tip in an empty squeeze bottle. Slooowly squeeze to get the icing into the bottle. Then use the provided bottle tip to cover it. I had some issues with my icing by the time I was finished in terms of consistency – you can see that the grey parts on the cookies are not as smooth as they should’ve been. This is because it had dried out somewhat and I should have thinned it. Live and learn! But if you put your icing in the bottles all at the beginning, that should keep it from drying out.

The hardest part of decorating the cookies this way is planning out where areas of colour will be. Don’t be afraid to draw yourself a diagram beforehand if that helps. I’m pretty confident just winging it but you don’t have to do it that way.

Smoothing out icing with the spatula.

Smoothing out icing with the spatula.

I skipped a step for this photo. For the first step (to make cookies like mine) take plain white royal icing and squeeze it onto the areas you would like to be the sparkly cuffs of their outfits. Holding the cookie over a paper plate, liberally sprinkle it with white sanding sugar over the areas you iced. Shake it a little bit or brush it with your fingers to remove excess sugar. Allow to dry.

Once the white on your cookies is dry, start with the “skin” or blue! Be sure to have your candies ready if you are using them for any facial features (eyes, etc.)

Outlining.

Outlining.

Now pipe the outline of the area you want to ice. I left a chunk empty across her head because I want to put hair there.

Fill.

Fill.

“Fill” or flood the area you outlined. This is just a rough step, you don’t have to literally fill the entire surface area. Just enough so that when you smooth it out with your spatula, it should look nice.

Smoothing.

Smoothing.

Now smooth the icing. Once you’ve done this with all of your draenei, they’ll look something like this:

Getting there!

Getting there!

I waited until the blue was mostly dry before adding a bit of white to make mouths. That part was tricky, which explains why some of them look like they are making faces. At this point I could move on to their outfits, because there wasn’t any place where blue would be touching (except for the one draenei who had face tentacles, I left him for last just for that reason.

icing06

Proceed just like you did with the blue to do the inner red part. Outline, fill, and smooth. I found that getting the right red colour was really hard, so I also added red sanding sugar at this stage to make their outfits a bit redder. My mistake here was that I did it after I’d added buttons, so some of the buttons got a bit covered by sanding sugar. The neat thing though is that as long as your other colours are dry, the sugar will not stick to either white or blue areas. So you can have different sections with different effects very easily!

I stopped taking progress photos at this point because it was getting late and I was tired. But all I did was proceed to add grey/black hair to each hoof area and each head. Except the male draenei, I guess they are bald in this case because I didn’t leave room to give them hair!

DSC_2705

Worth noting for this guy – I made his tentacles rings by just squeezing a bit of white icing in a line and then sprinkling with golden sparkles. All of the other colours were dry, of course!

DSC_2710

So in the end, this was a worthwhile cookie experiment. I already knew I could make draenei cookies from previous years, I just wanted to make them better. If you’re going to do these, keep in mind that making them draenei does add some time. I didn’t keep track of how long I spent doing this, but the decorating was probably at least two hours.

Now I don’t know what to do with these cookies. I can’t bring myself to eat them. (This happened the first year I made them, too). You could probably adapt any of these instructions to make your favourite WoW race – cut a triangle out of the feet and then round it and you have a troll’s two toes! Change the type of horns and use brown sanding sugar and you could have a Tauren. If you make these or any type of similar WoW cookie, please let me know! I’d love to see them. Also, if you have any questions or if something is unclear, please comment to let me know and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

Blizzcon Recap

I’m home! What a whirlwind of a trip that was. I’m going to do my best to hit the high points in this recap but I have a tendency to be verbose so… It’ll probably run long. Consider this fair warning!

Voss and I had decided to roll into Anaheim a day early (Wednesday) just to give us time to get settled and ready before the lines, crowds and social whirlwind commenced on Thursday. We were also staying a day after, not leaving until early Monday morning. This was in large part so that I could go to Disney(!) with friends. Big caveat: I am going to really, really try to remember who I met and when but if I happen to overlook you it’s not because I wasn’t happy to meet you! I loved meeting everybody. But I also tried to make a list on the plane and at last count I had met 56 people, and that’s just the ones whose names I knew or learned. I also talked to some people and I have no idea who they are.

Day 1 (Wednesday, Travel Day)

Our trip from home to San Francisco and then finally Anaheim seemed disproportionately long. If we go again I am going to really try to find a direct flight. But we flew into John Wayne (SNA) which was nice because it’s pretty close to Anaheim and the convention center. We flew United and I found them really disorganized from the very beginning. So that’s good to know. I’m hearing good things about Delta so I may seek them out for next time. We made it from the airport to the Hilton pretty easily. The only downside of this was that it was 12:00 PM PST and we couldn’t check in yet.

So instead we had them keep our bags for us and caught a cab over to the outdoor outlet mall, “The Outlets at Orange.” This was really surreal for me. Coming from Canada, where obviously an outdoor mall isn’t feasible, it was really weird to be walking through the “mall” in the sunshine. Also, to add to that feeling, the speakers were piping Christmas music throughout. I accomplished my goal of finding a pair of jeans (and an extra pair for 50% off!) so the trip was deemed a success! I wish I hadn’t been so tired from traveling as plenty of other stores looked interesting but I just didn’t have the energy to drag myself through them. We said maybe we’d come back but clearly we were dreaming there.

By the time we got back to the hotel, though, some of our people had begun to arrive. We met up with the pally group in the food court – Rhidach, Antigen, Theck and Mel, and also Anafielle for a little bit. It was the first time we were meeting our guildie and Voss’ co-tank, Rhidach, as well as Antigen (former and honorary BT member) so that was great. I think we got over any awkwardness pretty quickly. We spent quite a bit of time with these folks over the course of the week, forming an unofficial posse. (Voss surrounded himself with paladins. I’m not really sure why since he’s such a vocal opponent of them).

Anyway, we all retired to our rooms to freshen up and wash off the travel grime. Afterwards we went down to the lobby and had a few drinks while waiting for our dinner reservation at 8:00 p.m, which turned out to be at 8:50. The steak and everything else at Morton’s was really, really good and the conversation was great too. Most of our party was fairly drunk-ish by this point, excluding Theck, Voss and myself. Theck because he doesn’t drink very much, me because I couldn’t drink at all during this time, and Voss because of solidarity. I think we were in our rooms and sleeping by 11:00 PM.

dafs

View from our hotel room!

Day 2 (Thursday, Pre-Con Day!)

I woke up bright and early on Thursday morning at 6:08 AM and was completely wide-awake and felt well-rested. But hungry. So I took to Twitter, assuming nobody else could possibly be awake that early. But fortunately (for me, not sure how they felt about it) due to time differences, Theck, Perculia and Hamlet were all awake and willing to meet up to have breakfast. It was really great to meet Hamlet and Perc; we’ve interacted some on Twitter but I don’t know them really well. We got to thank Hamlet in person for his challenge mode videos that helped us while we were working on our CMs. Later, Rhidach and Antigen joined us at breakfast as did Ilaniel who it was also great to meet! I had a brief “duh” moment after forgetting my Metformin and having to run upstairs for it after I drank a glass of orange juice. Whoa, blood sugar. I tried to be more careful about it after that and keep in mind that even though I was on vacation I couldn’t really just eat or drink whatever, especially things like juice. But it gave me a chance to grab the cookies from our room that I’d brought for the WoW Insider team’s headquarters, which I passed off to Ilaniel who kindly delivered them for me. We sat and talked for several hours before we started moving in separate directions to prepare for the day.

Around lunchtime we were getting hungry and my guildie Elfindale had just landed along with her work friend so we met up with them at their hotel and walked until we found some lunch. The lunch wasn’t outstanding but the company was great, I love meeting my guildies and Twitter friends in person!

Actually, I want to take a moment to talk about that because it’s one of my favourite things: Having known someone online and then meeting them in the “real” world for the first time and just observing how they are. The way they smile or laugh, their mannerisms, even just their way of moving. I hope this doesn’t sound creepy because it’s not like that, it’s just really so nice and enjoyable to put faces to names and really get to KNOW a person. Hear their voice without a microphone and hug them! I love it, and it was really the highlight of my trip for me, every single person that I met. I learned that Aerix88 gives great burly hugs and looks a bit like his Pandaren avatar, that Matty is just as exuberant in real life as she is in her writing, and that my own friend Rhidach isn’t even exactly how I’d expected him to be. He’s usually a pretty calm guy (online) and he’s calm in person too but he’s also more expressive than I’d expected, dramatically gesturing to accompany his outbursts, it was fantastic. Now when I talk to these people online I’m going to have a much better sense of who they really are, and that’s amazing to me.

So, we had lunch with Elfindale and then went back to the lobby at the Hilton where people had started to arrive en masse. I got to hug the Sha of Happiness (as happy as advertised), Angry Orc (actually happier than advertised, declaring “C’MERE AND GIMME A GOOD HUG,” he sort of does talk all in caps though). I also met Alinea, Jezi_Belle and StarmHW and Ailinea from Twitter which was cool. Ailinea would later rock her fantastic Ashes of A’lar costume for the costume contest!

This was the day a few of the people I had done badges for found me, too. For various reasons: Timbersham had forgotten his badge and I offered him one of my business cards with his picture on it as a substitute. Marconin needed his painting signed (/sigh at myself). Arielle found us and hung out a bit too. It was great to see my badge paintings in action and know that people were really enjoying them. I think they were a good mix of visible and useful souvenir for afterwards. We also ran into Jasyla and Serrath in the lobby after they had arrived, we didn’t get much chance to talk but it was nice to catch up a little!

That evening was the WoW Insider/Wowhead party and we planned to get there really early so that we could get in. It turned out that 5 pm wasn’t quite early enough as people were already starting to line up for the party. Though we probably could’ve skipped the line due to working at WoW Insider, we waited anyhow and it didn’t take very long. This day began my day of Regrets About Shoes, as my cute dress flats are…well, cute, but not very cushioned and not great for standing around on hard pavement/tiles for hours at a time.

The party itself was really enjoyable. We met Matticus soon after coming in, and, definitely a man of priorities, he showed us over to the bar immediately. We also went to meet Alex Ziebart. Ilaniel (Sarah Pine) and Lisa Poisso were taking tickets at the entrance but I didn’t get a chance to really “meet” Lisa until Saturday. After we got drinks and as we were standing there, a lady nearby me kept kind of turning her head to look at me, then looking away, with a big grin. I thought she looked a bit familiar and then I saw her tattoos – it was definitely Hestiah! I went over, “Hestiah…?” “VID!” and she gave me a big hug. Nearby was also Apple Cider Mage, and we also met and hugged! Soon we were joined by Tikari and Kristin, and I also got to meet Orkchop, Mrs. Orkchop, and Tree Buddy. I can’t remember if I met Corv at this party or if that wasn’t until later. I know I definitely saw Ophelie again which was great! We see her at least once a year usually since we live in the same province, but still it’s always nice to catch up!

We left the WI party at around 8:00 p.m. to go and line up and get our badges for the next day. It was funny, as we came out of the party there was a huuuge line of people waiting and hoping to get in. We walked by and I heard some guy mutter to his friends, “Must be VIPS,” haha. We also found our guildie Tassager waiting in the line and got to meet him for the first time. He left and came along with us to pick up badges.We’d surmised that if we waited until later there’d be no line – we were WRONGO. But the line wasn’t too terribly bad, it moved very efficiently, and I limped through it, a martyr to Poor Shoe Choices. Apple Cider Mage and I got a chance to hang out and talk during this time which was great. HayFayFay from Twitter also went out of her way to find out who I was through Hestiah and we had a brief moment to chat.

The line itself was pretty much cattle herding. Long, narrow single-file rows that we had to briskly walk through, up and down, up and down. By the time we hit the end they printed our badge, handed us the swag bag, and sent us on our merry way. When we got back to the Hilton the lobby party was in full swing and it was way too much for me so we took some folks up to our room. I did get to see Sara very briefly though, as she practically knocked me across the lobby with a hug! We’d taken advantage of an offer the hotel sent us to upgrade to a suite, so we were able to fit fourteen of us in there actually reasonably comfortably. We had to sit on the bed and some on the floor but we made it work. We ordered a couple of pizzas from room service, which they sent up along with some glasses of ice cold water. I realized I’d have to get up onto my battered feet and play hostess and so I started bringing people water and someone shouted, “VID HAS CONJURED US WATER!” and everyone laughed while I swore at them that they had me CONJURING WATER ALREADY. Ah, the life of a mage.

This was the evening we got to meet Beru and Brade as well! Beru was already lined up to be my Disney guide on Sunday but it was super to talk a bit in person. We didn’t stay too late in the suite, everyone cleared out to go and get some rest because the next day was officially Blizzcon!

IMG_1039Hey it’s me with my FDWL stickers, ready to roll for the con! I put this picture on Twitter so that anyone looking for me could find me!

Day 3 (Friday, Opening Ceremonies)

We woke up pretty early to start getting into line but not before getting breakfast at the buffet. To our dismay, the line wasn’t a line so much as it was a mass of people crowded in front of the convention centre. It seemed unruly and like it would be a huge mess. They weren’t supposed to let us into the con until 11:00 AM (I believe) but somewhere around 10 AM the line had reached the street and organizers made the call to start letting people in to get settled. I am so glad that they did. Everyone streamed to either the right or left and we started going in the doors. Once inside, we waited a bit longer before they started checking bags/purses and then letting us into the hall. We wanted to be in the main hall for the opening ceremonies, and so we scrambled to get seats. It was just Mel, Tass, Voss and I because Rhidach and Antigen had been way ahead of us in the crowd/line but we got some decent seats at the front of a section with a good view of a screen.

We killed time for awhile until the opening ceremony. Once it started we were completely sucked in. I, of course, was over the moon at the announcements. Rhidach remarked that I began “barfing rainbows” when they showed the cinematic but I’m here to tell you it was actually more like cheering myself hoarse. Going back to Draenor! Draenei! KARABOR. Oh man. After the ceremonies Voss got up to go and find where Rhidach and Antigen were (they’d procured some more seats closer to them) and I got to chatting with the guys sitting next to us during the ceremony.They were also excited about the expansion and we had a great chat. So when Voss came back and said, “Okay, let’s go,” to meet up with Rhi, I worked up my courage to give the one guy a card and said “I do the art for the comic From Draenor With Love…” and he shouted, “I READ THAT ALL THE TIME! I just went on an archive binge!” So that was pretty awesome. Then his friend further down the row was kind of like, “What? Who?” and Voss said, “She’s Vidyala” and he was there going, “No way! My guildie is a huge fan, can I take your picture?” …yes seriously, so that happened.

I gave them some cards and stickers and went off to our new seats with a big grin and a really surreal feeling. I told Rades about it and I surmise that if we just happened to be sitting next to some folks who read FDWL there must have been many more than I think. So, I didn’t get your name but whoever you are, that was one of the best experiences of my Blizzcon. Just to chat with someone who reads the comic and get feedback about the new format in person was great.

We stayed in place for the WoW: What’s Next panel to get some more details about what the expansion entailed. My excitement level reached new heights as they announced things. Garrisons! A mage tower! KARABOR.

By the time the panel wrapped up we were pretty hungry and so we opted to go and find some lunch. We hadn’t counted on the hordes of people swarming every available restaurant, though, and so we kept walking right past Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. and ended up at P.F. Chang’s. They don’t have that in Canada so I’d never been there, it was really good though! Now I wish we did have it. By the time we finished lunch we would’ve had to sprint back in time to make the art panel, so I opted not to go and to just watch it on the Livestream when I got home. My time inside the actual convention is a blur – I completely forgot to go to the Apotheosis meetup, because we ended up hauling ourselves off to the hotel room around 4 pm. I was pooped.

We relaxed and killed some time until the Twisted Nether party was to start at 8:00 p.m. We skipped on supper and went to the party where I got to meet Fimlys and then Hydra, some other folks who were new to me. Rilandune arrived and I met him. I chatted with a few other people from Twitter including Lorekeeper Glaci and then Chronis and Kaleri showed up! It was great to have the time to sit down and chat with them and reconnect since we’d met in Toronto back in April. Later on in the evening I was found by Jed from Jed’s Blog as well as Navimie! We stayed pretty late, leaving the party (completed) at midnight. TNB had some bags there you could buy that had loot in them and a chance to win special loot that they had on the table! I won a signed copy of this Samwise print:

Artist Template_Scaled

Day 4 (Saturday, last day of the Con)

The next morning was the second day of the con, Saturday, and it was much more relaxed than the frantic lining up of the day before. We slept in until about 9:00 AM and had a leisurely breakfast at the Hilton buffet. I’m sure we ate breakfast with someone, but I can’t currently remember who. Saturday was the day to see anything else we wanted to see at the convention and buy some swag. We went to the J!nx store as well as the official Blizzard store. I got the Art of Blizzard book, some WoW cookie cutters(!) and a Hearthstone tee. Voss and I also picked up new mousepads at the Steelseries booth. On either Friday or Saturday we noticed that the line to try out WoD was short/non-existent and so we went there and were immediately ushered to a bank of computers. I spent the next twenty minutes frantically absorbed in trying to be a mage without any keybinds and not knowing where on the bars my abilities were. Somehow we still managed to defend Karabor in the time that we had, and I struck out into Shadowmoon to do some more quests. Shadowmoon is lovely. I think I know where my Garrison is going to be! I tried to get some screenshots with my phone but they came out blurry. It also turns out you’re not supposed to take photos, oops.

Here, have a blurry screenshot anyway!

Here, have a blurry screenshot anyway!

At 4 p.m. at the Meeting Stone was a meet-up I couldn’t miss, the WoW Insider/Wowhead meetup. The way the stone area was set up was maybe not 100% ideal – everyone kind of ended up crammed into this roped off area and it was an impenetrable sea of people I didn’t want to plunge into. I still met some folks including Anne Stickney, Noxychu, and some of the WI people I had seen on Thursday in any case! Perculia and Hamlet were here as well but we didn’t get to talk very much. Earlier I had run into Cadistra and I’m glad we happened upon each other

This was when I got to meet Aerix88 and Logtar along with Matty. Technophobia and his wife Frito_Kal brought us cupcakes! They were deliiiicious. I saw Apple Cider Mage again and talked a little bit! Mostly I chatted with Matty and then her husband for awhile, both super nice people. I want to say at this point I met Nyxy and ProbablyAero. Voss practically had to drag me away from the Meeting Stone because we kept getting involved in another conversation and he wanted to go back to the hotel before supper. We still had to figure out what we were doing for supper specifically, we had the day earmarked for a guild supper.

We ended up making (unnecessary) reservations at a sushi place that was as fair cab ride away. As the surroundings grew more desolate and we pulled into the dark and empty parking lot I started to wonder if we’d made a mistake. The feeling didn’t leave as we went inside the restaurant where there was no one else at 7 p.m. My fears turned out to be unfounded though, the sushi was good and fresh and no one got sick to the best of my knowledge. It was really a blast to sit down with all our guildies at the same time and place and just talk about stuff, mostly not guild related at all. But again this was a highlight for me because we’d been so scattered at other times. We talked about politics (Canadian & US) and a million other things. I got Rhidach to try beef tataki (not a hard sell) because I’d been telling him about it just a few days earlier when he was talking about how much he liked filet mignon.

The empty restaurant turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we enjoyed having the place to ourselves and not worrying about other people listening in on our video game talk and wondering, “WTF?” After we finished eating we got the restaurant owner to take a picture of us. I can’t believe it’s the only picture we got of all of us. It’s not a very good picture, but I guess it’s better than nothing. That night, we couldn’t really handle the bustle of the Hilton lobby (again) and so we went up to our room with some more folks. I knew I was going to Disneyland the next day very early but I also knew it might be my last chance to see some of these people so I’m glad we had them up. Even though Jed brought his warlock guildie with him.

Day 5 (Sunday, Disneyland!)

This was the day I met up with a friend of mine (not a WoW-friend) for breakfast and then we headed to Disneyland to meet up with Beru, Brade, Tikari, Kristin, Elfi and her friend Kim. I had wanted to go to Disneyland just because it seemed silly not to go when it’s right there, but I surprised myself by having a really good time all day and on all the rides. I didn’t personally do anything too daring, but I loved the Haunted Mansion (Nightmare Before Christmas) ride and had fun on the Buzz Lightyear ride too. One day is not really much time to see all that you might want to see at Disney, and I know this now for the future! We had a blast watching the Jedi Training Academy where they take kids from the audience and teach them how to be Jedi, it was great. I was glad to have more experienced park-goers (Beru and Brade) because they always knew the right way to go to get to something.

Still, by the end of the day my poor battered feet and ankle were displeased with me. I limped home tired and said goodnight to my last batch of Blizzcon friends. Our time together had been so short! The next day we were flying back home which was a whole other adventure but it’s boring. Tl;dr – we made it home. The best part of traveling is always coming home.

Blizzcon Lows:

Honestly, I’m still mad at myself for failing to get enough pictures. I could’ve had tons of pictures with our guildies, with other friends, and I barely took any. I wish I had, now.

Crowds continued to be a theme as I just couldn’t handle the Hilton lobby afterparties. I know I missed out on meeting some great people because I wasn’t there, but the cacophony and mass of people just sent me scrambling for the relative peace of our hotel room. It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t able to drink during the time of Blizzcon – there were a few occasions when some liquid courage would not have gone awry, and I might’ve been able to stay in the lobby for longer.

My shoes/feet/ankle. It took me a few days to recover fully once I got home.

Blizzcon Highlights:

Meeting all of the people! I’ve really tried to include them all here so that I don’t forget meeting them but it’s tough because I met so many. My guildies and close friends especially, but everyone I met was really nice and I was thrilled to have the chance to talk with folks in real life who had formerly only been an avatar to me.

Meeting people wearing my badges! It’s just a neat feeling, and knowing that they are enjoying the art and will be happy and maybe frame it later. A tiny keepsake from Blizzcon.

Going to the panels was pretty fun, it’s really neat to feel the energy in the room. I’m also reasonably confident that I started the cheer that went out when they announced Karabor would be the Alliance capital. It was silent for a few seconds before I shouted “WOOOO” haha.

Really, the best part of the entire trip was just the people. The con felt almost secondary to me, though parts of it were fun, it was the social events and people that were unbeatable. I’m glad we went. I’m not sure whether next Blizzcon is in our future or not – as always, it depends on circumstances, and it is also a very expensive trip – but I’m tempted. I’d like to do it again if it means seeing all the great people I got to meet this time.

If you actually read this far, thanks for sticking with me. I know, I’m longwinded.

Tuesday Art Day: Millya

Folks who’ve hung around my blog for awhile know that I (often) post art on Tuesdays. This Tuesday is a little different though because it’s mostly not art that I have done, it’s art that I had commissioned by other artists or that was done for me in art exchanges, etc. I’ve wanted to share it on the blog for awhile and kept forgetting so now I have amassed quite a collection.

You might wonder why someone who is an artist commissions other artists, it’s such a great experience though! I love seeing my characters in different ways and every artist has their own style.

The first one is going to be art by me – I finished my own Blizzcon badge!

Millya_display

gift_art_by_amalythia-d5uf354.png

By Amalythia

This first piece I am ashamed to admit I don’t remember the circumstances in which I got it – I want to say it was an art exchange. Fortunately I do know it was done by Amalythia, though.

By Fyreuni

By Fyreuni

One year, Fyreuni (the artist of the Daily Quests comic) was doing avatar portraits and donating the proceeds to Child’s Play. This was the one she did for me!

By Axolotl

By Axolotl

This sketch was done by Axolotl, the artist of the Out of World comic. She was giving away sketches and was gracious enough to do this one for me.

SSTwitter2011yayVid

By Shizukera

This art was a present from Shizukera for a Secret Santa art exchange we did on Twitter!

by Aly Flock

by Aly Flock

This was art that I commissioned from Aly Flock. I love her whimsical style.

By Ginny Higerd

By Ginny Higerd

Another Secret Santa exchange piece of art, this one was done by Ginny!

By Kim Swan

By Kim Swan

This is the most recent piece I commissioned, by Kim Swan. You can check out her tumblr here. I think she only opens up commissions periodically though, I just jumped on it really quickly.

Writing this made me realize I actually have had a lot of art done of Millya, sheesh. This doesn’t even include a sketch Fyreuni did for me at a convention one year. It’s really fun to see your characters come to life, if you’ve never done it I’d recommend it. (Which is not a plug, I am actually too busy to accept commissions at the moment. But commission any artist! It’s worth it!)

Speaking of things that are keeping me busy, I’ve wanted to write here about a new place you might see me writing… Yep, I am the new mage columnist writing Arcane Brilliance at WoW Insider. So far it’s been an incredible experience, although humbling. I’m trying to do a good job. I was a bit nervous starting out, but commenters have been really nice so far without exception. It’s been a fantastic reception. Right now I am just writing biweekly. Not this week, though – which is good because I’m going to be out of town for my brother’s wedding. Otherwise, my articles publish on Fridays.

I still have a hard time believing that I am writing Arcane Brilliance; I’ll see the tab in browser and go “Arcane Brilliance? …That’s ME!” Anyway. I hope not to neglect Manalicious though I know I’ve been spotty with updates here. The new From Draenor combined with getting the hang of writing at WoW Insider and real life stuff has been critting me pretty hard. I imagine Manalicious will be a bit more personal than it has been but the blog is still important to me and I haven’t forgotten it!

blizzconbadges02

Hey! I just wanted to post a heads-up here that I will only be accepting commissions for Blizzcon Badges up to and including September 30th. So if you’ve been waffling or meant to contact me and didn’t, you still have a chance but the window is closing fast! I reserve the right to close commissions if I get more than I think I can reasonably complete and mail during the month of October. I want everyone to be sure to have them before they head to Blizzcon.

Above is a compilation of all the badges I have done so far. They’ve been a blast to do and I really enjoy them. I kind of wanted to complete a class set – I didn’t receive commissions from any warriors, warlocks or priests. I’ll be doing a death knight painting for Voss so that’s at least one for the set! It doesn’t matter what your class is, though, I enjoy doing all of the paintings anyway.

If you’re interested in a badge painting, please fill out the form on this page.

Badges are $40 USD which includes shipping, a name-tag that slips into the badge holder and the holder itself. They look even better in person. Thanks to everyone who commissioned me for these, I hope you like your paintings and maybe I’ll see you at Blizzcon!

Challenge Mode Progress

WoWScrnShot_080413_125215

Worst screenshot. Best CM friends.

We’ve been working on challenge modes for several weeks now. I realized that if we didn’t schedule a specific time and day, we’d never get them done. So sometime last month we finally got it started, choosing Sunday mornings as a time that works for all five people in our group. We do them for about two hours, which seems to be the magic number to make progress each week and end before people get too tired.

Challenge modes are both exhilarating, and exhausting. When we first started doing them we did very little research beforehand, and just did whichever one happened to be the daily quest at the time until we had worked our way through all of them. Most of the Bronze rewards are a given and we were usually able to snag a Bronze without any preparation. There were a few instances where we achieved a Silver our first time through: Siege of Niuzao and also Temple of the Jade Serpent.

The most commonly recommended “easy” first Gold is Gate of the Setting Sun but we did not find that to be the case for our group. We have Rhidach (prot/ret paladin), Itanya (resto shaman), Shaen (elemental shaman), Vosskah (Blood/Frost DK) and myself (Fire/Frost mage). When we were working on Gate, Rhidach was tanking and I was still fire. We had many frustrations with all of that initial trash. People getting killed by the sappers, people getting killed by bombs. It was aggravating in the extreme. We eventually ended up deciding to focus on another CM for awhile before coming back to that one.

Our next target was Temple of the Jade Serpent, because we’d gotten a Silver there without trying. It’s considered a medium difficulty challenge mode but it seemed like a good fit for us. As we worked towards a Gold, we really had to refine our strategy. We used invisibility potions to skip trash in-between the first boss, Wise Mari, and the second encounter. This has to be carefully orchestrated because if you skip too much trash you won’t have killed enough enemies to complete the challenge. The most challenging part of this instance was really the final courtyard and the trash packs here. Many times we wiped to those pulls prior to the Yu’lon fight. We weren’t even sure what we were doing wrong or what we could do differently. In the end, we decided to change tanks between Rhidach and Voss and see if that made the difference. It really did, mostly because Rhidach’s DPS is a ton better than Voss’ (sorry, Voss). And Blood DKs do so much damage anyway that he was actually doing more damage after switching to tank than he had been as a DPS.

It’s tough, because you want to just bring your friends in their preferred roles to CMs, but in order to get Gold we really did have to do some optimizing. We still have a tank playing off-spec though and he’s getting more comfortable in the role all the time. Just this past Sunday Rhi couldn’t use an invisibility pot because he’d used a strength potion on the boss – I was so proud. Granted, it wasn’t the best time for a potion but using potions at all is a great DPS impulse. I really appreciate that Rhi has been willing to step outside his accustomed role in order to ensure success of the group. And we did have success, snagging our first Gold from Temple just a few pulls after switching things up a bit.

We decided against using the technique to have one person pull the last three trash mobs and then lose aggro on them in order to skip them. With dragging them into the Sha’s room and alternately freezing and DPSing them they didn’t hit too hard and we were still within the Gold timer when we downed Sha. Whatever works, right?

That brings me to the other major change that happened in between some of our struggles in Gate and our success in Temple. That was when I switched from fire to frost and it made a huge difference. I don’t think on boss fights it’s necessarily as large a margin, but with Glyph of Cone of Cold and Glyph of Ice Lance the AoE burst that a frost mage can put out is ridiculous. They also scale very nicely with a lower item level of gear and so overall I felt like a powerhouse instead of struggling with my crit rating as fire. It took a few runs to really get the hang of running as frost and to truly maximize the capabilities. A well-placed Frost Bomb, elemental freeze, Deep Freeze or Cone of Cold can really make some of the trash packs more manageable. It was also fun. Not because fire isn’t fun, but because doing really good DPS is fun. Feeling like your contribution matters is also fun.

Switching to frost in CMs had the unintended effect of making me frost all the time for right now, which is okay too. I may swap to fire once Siege of Orgrimmar comes out, but current Combustion nerfs on the PTR are staying my hand for the time being. It helps that it’s enjoyable to play. I’m nervous about the new frost mastery. It sounds like it is not good in situations when you can’t accumulate Icicles quickly enough, and compared to Frostburn there are times when your mastery isn’t active. We’ll really have to wait and see, though. I think it will actually be beneficial in cleave situations, so continue to be very strong for Challenge Modes at the very least. If frost lags behind in raids, I will swap back to fire.

Our current CM challenge is Siege of Niuzao. We had our best time this weekend, a Silver very faintly tinged with Gold. The biggest stumbling block has been the second to last boss with his immunity shield and bombs. The way to quickly move past this entire area is to not pull any trash beforehand. The first time he goes immune and begins summoning bombs, you use the bombs to easily dispatch all of the additional trash as well as the trash he summons during the fight. The problem with this has been that we keep having those existing adds run at us during his phase. One time it was my stupid Mirror Images; another time it was possibly a totem. I don’t know whether my water elemental will also pull them so I’ve been dismissing him as soon as that phase starts. It’s frustrating because it feels a bit random in terms of being able to achieve it and it comes after such a long run to get to that point. I think our scheme for next week is going to work though. I’ll be sure to put Ring of Frost down on the other side of Voss to keep him from going splat the way he has been. Even if we can just buy enough time for bombs to start coming out it should work. That time saved should be the difference between a Silver and Gold run, so I’m hopeful for next week.

Challenge Modes have been a great way to push ourselves to play better and to think creatively. They might just be my favourite thing added to the game during Mists – and that’s saying something, because there are so many things about Mists that I have enjoyed. My only regret about CMs is that unlike raids, I don’t get to do them with all the people I like to play with. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to two separate CM groups. Have you tried Challenge Modes at all yet? How have they been going for you?

WoWScrnShot_080613_121116

Just this past Tuesday, I finally gathered enough Titan Runestones to proceed to the next stage of the legendary quest chain. Omitting any plot spoilers for folks who don’t like that kind of thing, the next stage involves one of four challenges issued by a Celestial. Each challenge is specific to the Celestial in question, and you only need to do one of them. There’s tanking, healing, ranged and melee DPS challenges. Naturally, being a pure (awesome) class, mages will be doing the ranged DPS challenge.

I’ll admit it here to my great shame: This challenge wasn’t easy. It took me a long time. I am a fully normal-geared raider, I’ve cleared ToT and my ilevel is 530. I also think I’m not generally terrible as a mage, but I really struggled. I died, and died, and died again. There was a shadow priest there doing it at the same time as I was, and we ended up whispering to each other eventually. You can tell someone else is dying because the challenge is instanced, so you ring a gong and disappear. When you die ignominiously, you show up again at Yu’lon’s feet. This shadow priest and I kept running into each other again and again. At first I was embarrassed, then secretly relieved that I wasn’t the only one having such a hard time.

I pulled out the guild bank and took flasks and more potions and some Banquets of the Oven that nobody cares about. I had long since abandoned my purist “I’ll defeat this challenge without outside help” attitude and alt-tabbed out to see what Wowhead and other people had to say. The strat most people seemed to recommend was one that allowed you to ignore most of the mechanics. This was so prevalent that it was tough to find any other information about the fight. I did try this method but it didn’t seem to work and I resolved to do it my own way.

Here’s how the fight goes. You’ll want to stop reading at this point if you’d prefer not to know.

Yu’lon suggests that power without wisdom to guide it is a bad idea. She tells Wrathion this and he scoffs, at which point she suggests that I should fight Wrathion to prove her point. He of course immediately refuses (“I would annihilate my own champion!”) but then she drops the other shoe: he’ll be fighting me blindfolded. It’s a little insulting, but I suppose it is the only way a fight between a black dragon and a single person could possibly be even. So he agrees, and that’s how the fight goes – Wrathion is blindfolded.

Throughout the course of the challenge, he’ll use several abilities to try and locate you. A frontal cone (ground) attack, a large circle of fire, a “rain of fire” type ability, and a series of small ooze adds. Later in the fight he also conjures many copies of himself (Mirror Images writ large!) that you must kill before they complete their cast of a spell called Inferno because it hurts a great deal.

Other key elements of the fight: Wrathion takes triple damage if hit from behind. You can use to your great advantage if you time your CDs when you are able to step behind him. After he casts his frontal cone attack, he’ll shout “A-HA!” and then rush at you. Wrathion does no melee damage so there’s no risk to you by being near him. At first I was instinctively running away from him too but you lose valuable DPS time this way and there’s no benefit to it. Just strafe to the side out of the cone, get behind him quickly if you can and attack him there. I’d suggest setting Wrathion as your focus target so that you can always cast a few quick spells at him, because…

The hardest part of the fight is his ooze adds. You cannot take more than a few hits from any of them before dying horribly. They also buff themselves the longer they are alive, gain a movement speed buff, and continue to chase you. They are susceptible to stuns, slows, and CC, so I suggest you use all of this to your adventure. I did the challenge as a Frost mage, using my WE’s freeze to lock the adds down while kiting them around. The other thing that really made the difference for me in this fight was swapping out the Cone of Cold glyph in exchange for Glyph of Arcane explosion. A combination of Flamestrike, a few Living Bombs on the adds and glyphed AE was enough to kill them relatively quickly. Without the extra five yards from the glyph, you have to get dangerously close to melee range from the quick-moving oozes.

Suggested preparation for the challenge:

Supplies
-Grab a Celestial Offering from the August Celestials quartermaster. It gives you a 10% intellect buff while you are near the Temple. It should be noted, I didn’t find this out until after and I did it without, but it would’ve been a welcome boost.
-Intellect buff food
-Potion of the Jade Serpent
-Flask of the Warm Sun
-Heavy Windwool Bandage (I’m not kidding)

Talents
I used Ice Floes, Ice Barrier, Ring of Frost, Cauterize, Living Bomb, and Incanter’s Ward. An argument could definitely be made for using Blazing Speed if you prefer, and Ice Ward in place of RoF except it requires something to hit you in order to activate and we’re trying to keep these oozes from hitting us. Cauterize can save your bacon at least once during the fight and is highly recommended. You could also use Nether Tempest instead of Living Bomb, I chose LB for its superior single target damage because I wanted to hurt Wrathion as much as I could while I was DPSing the oozes. NT’s no target limit and superior AoE damage is nice though and could likely have worked just as well.

The last talent choice to use Incanter’s Ward instead of Invocation is another personal thing. The damage mitigation is very valuable here, and time to stand and evocate is precious. I found that evocating was interfering with my kiting, so I switched.

Glyphs
Glyph of Arcane Explosion is recommended for all specs. Those extra five yards makes this much, much easier. As a Frost mage I used Glyph of AE, Ice Lance, and Water Elemental.

Strategy
Put yourself behind Wrathion to start the fight. He’ll always be facing towards Yu’lon. You have the option of using Time Warp at the beginning or saving it for later when you’re a bit desperate and things are getting hairy. I’d suggest pre-potting as well – front-load your damage as much as you can. If you are Fire, try to line up a good Combustion ASAP and hit Wrathion with it very early on. He’ll cast 1-2 of his frontal cone abilities, and possibly his rain of fire thing. You can tell where the fire is falling because it casts a dark shadow on the ground – be someplace else. Ice Floes is nice for this time because you can keep DPSing him while dodging around. He usually spawns the oozes about 10-20 seconds into the fight. They will mill around aimlessly in a group for about three seconds and then they will start heading towards you.

You must not let them reach you. Do whatever it takes to achieve this – You can start off with a Ring of Frost to freeze them in place and gain a few valuable seconds of lead time on your DPS. Remember, the longer they live, the faster they get. You must also DPS the oozes while Wrathion is doing his best to hurt you. Blink, of course, is helpful but it’s not available often enough on its own. Having the extra freeze from the Water Elemental and your own Frost Nova helps a ton. Let them get just close enough and then Frost Nova them. Put either Living Bomb or Nether Tempest on them and then run a bit. Try to hit Wrathion as you run by him. Try to drop a Flamestrike and then Arcane Explosion as much as you can (bonus: it will hit Wrathion too).

Once the oozes are dead, they are out of the fight for a little while…but here’s the kicker. You can’t ever really kill them. They will respawn. Also, they will respawn from the position they died at, so try not to be anywhere near their bodies when this happens. Meantime, Wrathion will be casting his next big ability – he will fill the room with duplicates of himself. Use Arcane Explosion to kill them QUICKLY. If you fail to kill them, they’ll cast Inferno. You can likely survive a few Infernos but the entire room doing them will spell your demise. He will summon two rounds of these, but you should be able to make quick work of them.

At this point, unfortunately, depending on when you killed them – oozes are going to begin respawning and chasing you. In a way, you’re fighting a battle against time because you have to defeat Wrathion but the oozes could be a full-time distraction if you let them. Continue to DPS Wrathion whenever possible, especially after the first wave of oozes dies and before they’re able to respawn. Kill them again when they respawn and try to take Wrathion down. This would be a good time for that Time Warp if you didn’t use it earlier. Use another potion. Blow him to smithereens!

I found that even DPSing Wrathion any time rather than waiting until you are behind him still added up significantly over time. Cleave from Ice Lance or other AoE will also damage him a bit. If you can survive the two ooze phases you should be in the clear for finishing Wrathion. Don’t lose sight of your goal and try to stay calm. Once you get the hang of the ooze adds you’re well on your way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rumYAAJdEa4

This is a good Fire mage point of view for this fight. You’ll see he takes the adds out using a combination of Nether Tempest and single target/Pyroblast procs. He also stuck with Invocation and opted to use Time Warp after the second set of oozes has died. There’s really no wrong choice of talent or strategy, just what works for you personally.

Note: the method recommended by many casters for this fight is to spec into Greater Invisibility or some other aggro dump and head out to the balcony railing when the oozes spawn, using your invisibility. The idea is that the oozes will just hang out inside the temple and never attack you at all. I did try this just to see if it would keep me from tearing my hair out, but I didn’t find it worked. After my invisibility expired, the oozes headed straight out onto the balcony for me. Moreover, they also became impossible to kill because they’d been alive so long. It didn’t end well. The balcony strat is also supposed to allow you to ignore the mirror images that spawn. I’m not sure if this has been hotfixed, but it wasn’t a viable method when I attempted it.

I’m happy to have done it “as intended” anyway. I will give you one last tip, though – make sure you check the status of your gear. If you’ve been wiping over and over (and the wipes pile up quickly, much like my unfortunate corpse) you can find your gear destroyed in short order. At some point I took a break for supper, came back and had a really good attempt – yesss! I’m finally getting the hang of this! Then I did progressively worse and I couldn’t figure out why, until I looked at my gear, which was entirely and completely red. Effectively, I’d been DPSing Wrathion naked. Hey, at least he was blindfolded!

Good luck with this challenge, even if it’s tough, you can do it! If you have tips or tricks I didn’t think of here, please leave them in the comments! Unless your “tip” is “I one-shot this! It was so easy.” If you’re that guy I don’t want to hear from you.

(with apologies to Robert Frost)

m

There are different schools of thought on whether you play a spec, or you play a class. I’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t consider yourself a (Fire/Frost/Arcane) mage but a MAGE – able to switch specs accordingly should the need arise. This is an attitude that ticks off other people who really only like one spec for their various classes.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle and have actually changed my mind over time. It’s a little-known fact that I originally created Millya with the intention of making her a Frost mage. I seem to remember even choosing her appearance accordingly. Thank goodness I didn’t name her “Frostwizzard” or anything like that. Or another mage I knew, Icyfire… what if they wanted to go arcane later? But as I was leveling, Frost just wasn’t working for me. Conventional wisdom at the time (Burning Crusade) said that Fire was bad for leveling. And you know, I died a lot. But by gosh I had fun doing it. Later on when I hit 70 I went to BGs as the best kind of glass cannon – the kind that would merrily explode in the face of a dozen people. I think it was Christian Belt, the erstwhile great Archmage from WoW Insider who joked that all Fire mages really wanted was a spell that would just, literally, make them explode. They’d be okay with this, as long as they took plenty of people with them.

I’ve played all three mage specs over the years as their fortunes rose and fell. I was Frost at the start of Wrath for leveling. I was a Frostfire mage when I hit 80 because it was actually pretty good at low gear levels for awhile. I was Fire unless I had to be otherwise – at the end of Wrath I was Arcane for a good chunk of it because Fire was too far behind Arcane to ignore it. For all of Cataclysm, I was Fire, and so far for all of Mists I have been Fire as well.

I like the changes they have made to the spec. Heating Up helped to smooth out some of the frustrating RNG aspects of Hot Streak! and Inferno Blast gives you a reliable way of managing your procs to a certain extent. It’s better than just fishing around for HS procs as we used to do. Combustion is, by its nature, still very RNG dependent. You have to get a super ignite and manage all of your other DoTs in order to time it just so. The reduced CD on Combustion itself makes this less punishing than it used to be, though. I think they did something about ignite-munching? Don’t quote me on that though. I’m not a theorycrafter and I never made that claim. It’s not really my thing. I’m just an avid mage who has been predominantly Fire for a long time.

Recently, I was tripped up by a problem, though. I felt as if I was holding our challenge mode group back from success. Fire’s AoE power in this expansion has always felt weak to me. I miss Blast Wave/Instant Flamestrike. I don’t like having to get right into a group of mobs and spam my Arcane Explosion button. Nether Tempest is nice, but you still have to put it on a group of mobs before it really starts to ramp up, and by that time our shaman’s chain lightning has already killed stuff. It’s not fun. Taking into account the lowered gear levels of challenge modes (a normalized 463 ilevel), being Fire was even less fun. I found, frustratingly, that things were living too long and my trash DPS just wasn’t high enough. On boss fights, I wasn’t getting enough HS procs or a really nice Combustion. Fire seems just too dependent on gear to be the most effective in challenge modes. So I thought the time may have come to do something radical: set my Fire spec aside and play Frost in challenge modes.

I dusted off the spec. I fixed my keybinds and buttons. I read guides. I reforged and regemmed. Once I made the decision, I wanted to just go ahead with it. So I figured – hey, I’ll play Frost for our raids this week, too. Everything is “on farm” anyway, I wouldn’t be holding us back while I fumble around a little bit. I stood at the target dummy getting used to the “feel” of the buttons and I updated my Weak Auras to include some new notifications. I went into the raid feeling excited and a little apprehensive. I take pride in being a good DPS, I didn’t want to be at the bottom of the meters because of this change.

But something strange happened. I wasn’t doing poorly. In fact…well, let me just show you. If you like charts and things, you can look more closely. If you don’t, let me just tell you, that I gained between 16-26K DPS on the fights shown. I omitted Council because I actually did better as fire there and I think my DoT uptime was a bit poor on the Frost version. I’m not too worried about it. I also omitted Tortos for the opposite reason – as Fire, my performance was truly pathetic, but the Frost combat logs are not an accurate comparison either because I was helping to AoE bats. I had AoE! Bats died! BIG YELLOW NUMBERS. (This basically sums up my DPS mindset in a nutshell).

adfs

Fire is on the left, Frost is on the right.

So I was thrown into a quandary, except it wasn’t much of a quandary. Playing as one spec clearly and roundly has trounced the other spec for me, and so I will be staying Frost for the foreseeable future. Still, I know for a fact it’s not that I was suddenly playing miraculously better as Frost… In fact, you can see that my active time went down in every case. It’s hard to avoid this kind of human error. Our motto is “always be casting,” but I was still a little fumbly and getting the hang of Frost, so I wasn’t managing it as well as I could be, and yet I still beat my own DPS by a significant amount. I have to admit, it’s a bit disheartening. Now I’m questioning myself – did I never truly get the hang of the “new” Fire? Is it just that because I’m not a heroic raider, I’m not able to play Fire to its fullest potential? It’s true that Frost isn’t subject to the kind of RNG stuff that Fire is. I find it plays really smoothly. There’s always a button you need to be hitting. You can imagine it did make a big difference in CMs, too. My contribution felt much greater than it had in previous weeks.

I have had a few Frost growing pains, too. Mostly related to suddenly creating a truck load of threat unexpectedly. I’ll put it this way, I used to use Mirror Images as a safeguard, especially at the start of fights. Now it’s the only thing standing between me and (buh buh buh bum) CERTAIN DEATH. This is how I came to be shrieking around dragging Horridon last week while yelling “Get it off, get it off!” I also had a retrospectively hilarious death at the end of our last Lei Shen kill. I don’t know if that’s directly related to being Frost… but let’s just say that Alter Time -> Thunderstruck -> Blink -> Alter Time doesn’t end well for anyone wearing a dress.

If I’m being honest with myself, I guess I have to admit that maybe I just wasn’t pushing myself as Fire any more. In the past, many of the times I switched specs was because my damage had been lagging behind. It can help to mix things up, and some of that may be at play here. Although I try to stay current on my information with any spec I’m playing, maybe I had gotten complacent and that’s the biggest reason why Frost has been such a marked improvement. One thing is clear, though. It’s time for a new Frost transmog!

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,463 other followers