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

Archive for the ‘Achievements’ Category

Draenei: A complete set

If you’ve read my blog pretty much at all, then you know how I feel about draenei. I have many reasons, though I feel that it was articulated best by my coworker Matthew Rossi. I just love them. I was joking with Rades the other day that I have a definite draenei bias. I feel a kinship with other people who identify with these strange, unique travelers. The past few months I’ve been on a leveling kick as I wanted to get the “five different classes at level 90″ achievement. As more of my characters got to 90, I realized something.

I want a complete set of draenei. One of every available class at level 90. I’m already halfway there (and close on a few). This wasn’t necessarily by design, it’s just that every character I have that can be a draenei is one. Let me introduce you to my ladies.

Millya

Millya – 90 Mage

Pretty well-known around these parts. My tea drinking, fireball slinging scholar, Millya. She is my main-main. She’s also the best dressed. Because I’ve spent so much time gathering clothes for her. Heck, I made her a paperdoll. She’s been playing “World of Dresscraft” since I first created her. She is a conjurer of cakes and destroyer of bad guys. She’s already level 90, obviously.

Vidyala

Vidyala – 90 Paladin

If Millya is my primary main, Vid is a strong second. I don’t know what it is about people who like mages, but we also seem to like holy paladins. I don’t have any statistical proof here, except that many people I know who play either holy paladins or mages as their main characters often enjoy the opposite class as an alt. Vid of course is the character in From Draenor With Love. She’s a military brat with a strong interest in engineering, particularly things that fly. I’m currently working my way (slowly) through the legendary quest chain to get her a fancy cloak for no real reason since all she does is LFR. Okay, I admit it – I like the way the cloak proc looks for healers.

Jun – 90 Monk

My newest 90, a young upstart that stole my heart. I started leveling a monk for Business Time’s Stay Classy achievement and made her a Brewmaster on a friend’s suggestion. I didn’t know how much I was going to love Brewmaster. I have a rough idea in my head that Jun was an initiate of the Auchenai but was one of many young draenei that left when things started to get weird. She despaired of ever completing her training and led a quiet life thereafter, abandoning notions of being a monk. She was working on the Exodar when she heard of this new continent and the Pandaren monastic traditions. While being a brewmaster as such struck her as a bit unorthodox, she was determined to learn whatever the monks had to teach her and made it her mission to get to Pandaria. I tanked with her all the way along – even for pugs – and had a blast. Unfortunately she has stalled a bit at 90. I’m not sure what the future holds for her, as I don’t want to tank LFR or anything like that. I might go solo old content for transmog gear – leather wearing draenei! Just putting together a transmog for her as she leveled was a blast.

Sofira

Sofira – 90 Priest

Sofira is the first of my draenei characters that doesn’t really have a story. The character itself used to be a night elf and it was the night elf who had all the background. When we moved to Moonrunner I “killed” my night elf and she was reborn as a draenei. She hasn’t really done much, though. She wears the best gear from her heyday – when I raided as a priest in Naxxramas. She’s my bank alt. The least I know about her is she’s a quiet personality, soft-spoken and more comfortable with inventories and numbers than she is with other people. Probably something bad happened in her past (sounds like a draenei story, right?)

Sarika

Sarika – 85 Warrior

Sarika, much like the rest of my draenei at this point, doesn’t have much of a story to her. She’s level 85 and I’m dreading leveling her to 90 because I haven’t played a warrior in ages and really don’t know what I’m doing. I think she has a rough and tumble demeanor, though. She’s kind of a mercenary or sword-for-hire, without strong allegiance to any person or faction. I’ve got her on hold for a bit until I feel ready to quest through Pandaria again.

Corycia

Corycia – 82 Shaman

Corycia was a character I did roleplay a little bit at one time with a friend. Her name was different then but it was the same character. She’s not very fleshed out, though. She was my Herald of the Titans character! She also has art of her. It’s funny, when I did the art it was because I thought it was the only way she’d ever get to “wear” the shaman set you see her wearing above (I think it’s T6?). Little did I know that after Wrath it would be easy to go back and farm it up for her, and transmog lets her wear it! I love that set. She is currently leveling through Cataclysm content.

Ziana

Ziana – 59 Death Knight

Taking on this project meant that I had to actually bite the bullet and make a death knight for real. I have already documented here how terrible I was at being a death knight the first go around. The worst. I’m afraid to report that I haven’t gotten much better. I had to ask Voss to sit down and help me with what was going on with this. Like I told a guildie, I specced Blood and was pretty much just hitting “the red abilities.” (They’re blood-related, right?) He pointed out that I should hit the blue ones too because of draenei blood, which is a valid point…

Mairix

Mairix – 23 Hunter

My little hunter and her moth, Grimnebulin. She doesn’t have any other pets yet. Playing a hunter is surprisingly fun, I benched her ages ago (before focus was a thing, that’s how long ago) and haven’t played her since until recently. She’s obviously got the longest way to go before she’s 90, but I’m told that hunters practically level themselves. She does seem to kill things pretty quickly.

So that’s all of my draenei – I have 4 level 90s, an 85, an 82, a 59, and a 23. My deadline for myself is I’d like to have them all at 90 before Warlords drops. I think that’s pretty doable, considering that two of the four that need leveling are already 80+. Death Knights thankfully start at 55 and hunters are pretty quick, so I think I can get it done! Maybe along the way I will try to think of more story for the characters that don’t really have one, or maybe not, I’m not sure.

It’s a fun little side-project, anyhow. I’ve known people who wanted all of the races of a particular class, or one of each class, etc. This seems like a fitting way to pay tribute to my favourite behooved race. Incidentally, Warlords fever has hit Azeroth. Ever since WoD was announced, when I’m leveling alts nine times out of ten the other characters I see are draenei. Everybody wants a draenei for heading back to Draenor!

There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Yours

At the beginning of Firelands, I made a mistake. I’ve acknowledged it before, but let me go on the record here to re-iterate that it was a mistake. It wasn’t the first time I’ve made it, but it was definitely the last. I switched characters so that I could play what I thought the guild needed instead of what I wanted to play. I’m not going to belabor this point because I’ve discussed it here, but I think this is seldom a good idea. Unless someone is really and truly unattached to any character and willing to play whatever (and I know there are people who are this way), you should always play what you want to play. Except that I didn’t.

So I took myself out of the running for a Dragonwrath. I was thrilled for the very deserving Fsob who received it, but selfishly I was always a bit sad. I’d danced when the legendary staff announcement came up at Blizzcon. I wanted to see the accompanying lore, I wanted to carry a piece of Warcraft history, and by gosh I wanted to be a blue dragon with jewelery. But I had done it to myself, and I told myself I would just have to suck it up. Except that Blizzard changed Real ID to allow people to run raids. “It would take too much time,” I said. “Isn’t it selfish?” I told Voss. He said, “Maybe it is, but you deserve it, and I’ll be there every night if you decide to do it.”

So on February tenth I posted on our guild forums to say that I was going to organize a Firelands alt run, probably normals, just for kicks. Anyone who wanted to could attend, and I’d find Real ID friends to fill in where necessary. I had big ambitions at first because interest seemed high so I thought I could organize a 25-person run. That didn’t happen the first time (although I did organize one 25 during the course of things!) But that Saturday we headed out to Firelands and we killed some fiery things. I didn’t realize at the time just how fortunate I am. Over the following three months, at least three people never missed a single Firelands run. Several more missed perhaps one or two, but were there for the majority of the runs. Voss held true to his word, and he never failed to tank the Firelands bosses for me. On weeks when Saturday wasn’t possible, we did it on Wednesdays because it was the only day that worked with everyone’s raid schedule.

For twelve weeks, a mixture of close friends and acquaintances came to Firelands because they wanted to help me and because I asked them to. Our little Firelands raid went from a “let’s clear through here on normals” to “let’s clear this thing on heroic every week” to “why don’t we pull heroic Ragnaros?” over the course of that time. We got to know each other better. I’ve had the chance to raid with friends who might not be in the guild but who are really fun, great folks. I organized that 25-person raid and it was nerve wracking. I’ve never organized a 25 for anything before; the sheer amount of organization and coordination required made me admit that I gained new respect for 25s folks (not that I lacked respect, but walk a mile in someone’s shoes, etc.) Each week everyone got together to do this and I couldn’t articulate my feelings about it. I experienced a mixture of excitement, guilt, awkwardness. Part of me couldn’t believe that I had friends like these, who would devote so many hours of their time to get me some pixels in a video game – because they knew it mattered to me, and so it mattered to them.

I don’t want to sound at all pompous or overstate the importance of Dragonwrath itself, though I will cherish it forever and it is my most prized virtual possession. There are many Dragonwraths out there, and many casters wielding them. But this one was pieced together by Fsob’s fireballs, Voss’ shield slams. I imagine each piece to have healing powers from Nowell, Itanya, Karanina, and sometimes Yahwen. It has Shaen’s elements, and Tassager’s bear butt, Bittersteel’s howling blast and Sara’s daggers. It even has some fel magic courtesy of Supplicium and DarthRegis, but we’re going to pretend otherwise. Apple Cider and Kurnmogh DPSed for me one night when we were really stuck without a tenth person! Solard and Cutaia and Rooster helped to tank, Beru, Tikari and Jasyla all had a hand in it. Killskillz, Priggle and Nyxy all helped to DPS. When I did my 25-person run, Korixa, Cordella, Oathblade, Luthvian, Tsunomi, Maelinixi, Fyriat,┬áRhuanious and Pix all came along. That’s a total of 31 people who helped out with Dragonwrath. I tried to be comprehensive but unfortunately I didn’t keep a running tally so if I have forgotten you and you attended, please know that I am so grateful to you and didn’t mean to leave you out. (Incidentally, there is going to be a special surprise for you Wednesday, May 23rd. Just check From Draenor With Love).

I do want to mention especially the people who were most instrumental in this endeavour: First of all, Vosskah, without whom I probably wouldn’t have organized the runs at all. As always, anything I do is made more fun when you’re by my side.

Nowell/Walks: You said that you would heal for me and you meant it, and you never missed a single run or complained although I know you weren’t really interested in Firelands at all. That means you were there especially to help me. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend like you.

Karanina/Snack: You said that you’d heal for me and made it clear that you weren’t taking no for an answer! It’s been a blast to rediscover Firelands with you alongside. You are an outstanding healer and a great friend. I’m thankful to know you and I hope someday I can repay your generosity of spirit.

Fsob: You are an indispensable part of Firelands for us; despite the smallest stature you never shirk from the largest tasks. Thank you for driving Rhyolith, assigning Baleroc, dog wrangling and flying through all those hoops with me. There’s no mage I’d rather have by my side. Mage mage, my friend.

All of my guildies: I hope you won’t mind me lumping you together, but I happen to think we operate best that way. For coming to Firelands to help tirelessly for so many weeks, I can’t thank you enough. You kept it from ever feeling like a chore to me. You are a fantastic bunch of people who brings excellence to everything you do. Thank you.

Last night when I siphoned that last essence from Baleroc and the moment approached when I’d be reaching the end of this three month task, all the words flew right out of my head. As I said, this is more than pixels, it’s more than a Dragonwrath. To me, it’s like carrying something that is a piece of friendship, kindness, and team work. I think it’s going to make me smile whenever I think of it. I don’t care that it’s a tier late, or that there are many other people out there with one. Dragonwrath itself isn’t unique, but the experience was unique to me. I’m left with only gratitude to everyone who had a hand in it, and most of all for Blizzard: who made the world that allowed me to find all of the people who gave me this great gift. Some of you I’ve met in real life and some I hope to meet someday, but it’s not geography that determines friendship. Last night culminated in a Stormwind rooftop party including a bunch of off-server folks who had seen the Dragonwrath ceremony a million times but they wanted to see mine. You all helped to make it special, and we created enough of a rumpus that random people flew in and said, “What is this?”

This is my friends helping me celebrate something we made together. It’s the spirit of this game for me, and everyone who helped is an indispensable part of that.

100th Post: Paladins, Mages, and Something In-Between

So it’s been about three months now that I’ve been raiding as a paladin, and it happens that this is my one hundredth post at Manalicious! I’ve been waffling about what to write, considered doing a blogaversy style-retrospective of my favourite posts, but I think I’ll save that for my actual blog’s anniversary. I did also want to mention I have been horrible about replying to comments lately, and I’m going to try to get better about it. I do read and enjoy every single comment, and usually I try to always reply to them, too.

On Being A Paladin

This is a preview of a graphic I've been working on for ages with intention to put it on the blog. Secret unfinished image!

It’s ironic and sad for my husband, Voss, that he has such a rivalry going on with paladins. Every Friday when he is able to tweet more, he picks a fight with the paladins on Twitter. It’s actually hilarious to me that most of the people he talks to on Twitter are 1) Blood Elves and 2) Paladins. The cherry on the paladin sundae is that he’s married to someone who also plays a paladin. But, I don’t feel bad about it because being a paladin is fun. I am really starting to settle in to raiding as one. The healing style is in my fingertips, if you will. I have fixed some issues and bad habits and I think I’m doing a better job than ever before. So that aspect of being a paladin is going well.

I think I make better use of my toolbox. My gear has been steadily improving, although both Ragnaros and Domo have stubbornly refused to drop tier tokens while I’ve been in the raid – so now I’m at the point where I expect we’ll be getting heroic shoulder token upgrades and neither myself nor my priest friend will be able to upgrade them because we never got the normal ones. Naturally, I’m unhappy about this. I don’t really have a solution in mind, but four-set doesn’t look like it’s in my future anytime soon. I’ve heard that it’s really not “all that” anyway, so perhaps that’s fine. My fellow paladins may disagree.

Paladins have many neat things that I wind up missing when I am playing a mage (and vice versa). The two speed bursts make up for not having Blink, in my book, while in Retribution spec the Long Arm of the Law gap-closer makes me happy. Playing melee is interesting and it’s definitely been a change from the DPS I’ve been used to in the past. I find myself reaching for Crusader Aura when I am playing any character that does not have Crusader Aura. (Despite world-wide flying, there are still places like the Molten Front where it is incredibly useful).

On Having Divided Character Loyalties

I eased off on trying to re-complete achievements for Vid, realizing that I was burning myself out by trying to regain ALL THE THINGS that Millya already had. Instead of trying to rebuild a pet collection, I collected some more pets until Millya was able to get the Celestial Dragon. Right now I’m doing Brewfest stuff for both of them, but the only thing Millya needs to do is get drunk in Dalaran and then fall off something, so she just needs Brewfest clothing. Vid hasn’t done the achievements at all, but Brewfest is one of my favourite holidays so I don’t mind doing them all again. I also did just enough to get my druid (the original drunkard of my “crew”) a Brewfest Keg Pony.

FOR PONY.

I think I’ve come to the point where I am resigned to the fact that I’ll never have the one character with all of the achievements and things the way that some people do. (Voss, for instance, has all of his raid achievements on Vosskah because he never plays anything else). Me? I will have different achievements depending on the character, and I may go back and re-do some if I feel the urge but I can’t let it bug me too much because I’m too variable to only ever play one character. One of my guildies was teasing me because I said during the My Epic Heals podcast that I would probably play my mage again, and that she is my “true” main. What I really mean, but can’t explain, is that my strongest loyalty lies with her, raiding aside. Raiding is only one aspect of the game, after all. I’ve been playing Millya devotedly for three years, while Vid has only even existed (at max level) for about 1-1.5 years. But her name is also my online identity and I first started blogging while writing about her so… I guess, what it comes down to is that they’re just different. I’m sure I could never abandon either of them. I didn’t expect Vid to become my raiding main, but she has, and she is awesome.

On Being A Mage

My avatar on Twitter.

The Molten Front dailies suck. They really do. The second time around, they suck in a way I can’t even describe for fear of being sucked into a whirling vortex of suckitude. I’m doing them again with Millya because she likes achievements but seriously. 150 Marks to reveal more dailies. Then another 150 until you’ve done the same thing. Then 125…three times over? It just seems excessive. Even the first time, towards the end I was really losing steam with these dailies. And I am someone who really likes dailies. I did the Isle of WTF for weeks back in the day. Anyway, Millya will get some more pets and a mount, but I reserve the right to complain about it a bit at the same time. (I know, I do it to myself).

As far as maging goes I have delved into LFD a bit more with Millya as Vid routinely caps VP through raids primarily. I don’t actually mind the DPS wait too much. I do mind the way that groups often treat DPS, like expendable (and stupid) movable artillery. If you’re unclear about which Hatcher you want killed, you don’t get to yell at me when I kill the “wrong” one when you weren’t smart enough to go pick up the hatchlings, regardless of where they spawned! And the reason we wiped on the last boss is not because I “used Time Warp in the Lynx phase and should have saved it for Dragonhawk.” It’s because you are a terrible tank that wasn’t using your CDs, and the healer was a pretty undergeared and slow druid who let you die. Also, when one DPS does 40% of the damage in a run, you should stop giving him/her a hard time.

Most of my LFD runs go well, and are fun. After healing a lot of the time I find it’s nice to relax back into exploding things with fire in the face, fire on the ground, extra big fire, little fire…! By contrast, when I’m soloing and running around the world it will usually be as Frost. My water elemental and I, Speak, are an inseparable team. I actually did go Frost on the last boss in ZG when our group was struggling, though. The added control on the Spirits made a big difference, and I wish I had thought of doing it sooner!

By the way, my elemental’s name is Speak because of this video a friend inflicted on me years ago. Now, I pass it on to you. Don’t blame me if it gets stuck in your head, though. I dun wanna war. Yee, c’mon.

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!

Update on Settling Into A New Role

I’ve been raiding as a paladin now for just over a month or a little bit longer. It’s been an interesting transition, further complicated by the fact that I feel obligated to re-do many achievements with Vid. I thought it’d be fun to provide a kind of update with how things have been going.

DPS: Now With 100% Rear Boss View

For the occasions when we’ve needed a healer to DPS, I’ve been gearing and working on my retribution spec. Thanks to some help from Antigen and our guild’s protection paladin, I even know what to do (more or less). The only thing I can say is that melee DPS is weird, yet oddly calming. I feel as if I have to frantically spam buttons quite a bit less than as a mage. Oh, I’d definitely be failing if I were just auto-attacking, and that’s not what I’m doing, but it is reassuring to know that my character is always hitting if I’m in range. (Thank you, startattack macros). I’m by no means the world’s greatest retribution paladin, but we still managed to kill bosses with me as a ret (I am the ret). It’s been awhile since I’ve had to go ret for a raid and my gear has improved so I imagine if I were to do it again I would be even better.

I got to hit Rhyolith’s feet and run around frantically! I also went up to attack Beth’tilac, which proved to be convenient because I later went up to heal the tank on Beth’tilac. I got to stand there and DPS Shannox, which kind of feels like cheating to me. Even Staghelm from a ret perspective was almost peaceful, but he was still progression then and so I have only healed for our subsequent kills. I think it’s safe to say that I never imagined I’d be melee DPSing in a raid, but it’s fine. 95% of the time I will be a healer; for that other five percent I’m happy to do whatever is necessary.

"What is this I don't even..."

Achievements

Continuing to work on Vid’s achievements has helped me to feel engaged with her, even when I’m not raiding. To me, Vid (as a character) has been something of a sleeper hit. I made her in 2009 for a lark, did the whole dungeon-leveling thing, wrote a blog about it, etc. I never imagined she’d shoulder her way to the front and wind up a main. I always assumed that if I healed full-time it would be as a druid. I was clearly wrong.

As far as achievements go, her pet collection is up over a hundred now, her mount collection is somewhere around fifty. There are a few pets she won’t be able to get for awhile (Midsummer, Love Is In The Air, etc.) but such is life! I finished the Higher Learning achievement with her as I was writing this post. Up next: continuing to kill poor TB foxes and camping the spawn point for Jadefang.

The biggest trouble I have is trying to catch up with achievements as if I’m on a time limit. I want to catch up yesterday and so sometimes my focus wanders as I try to do everything all at once. I finally, finally finished the last Molten Front “unlocking” and so now will do those dailies until Zen’Vorka’s cache sees fit to give up a pet. Meantime, I have to remember that nobody cares about my achievements except me, nobody cares except me (it’s my new mantra).

Blogging

I’ll admit, I did worry a bit that I might lose readers when I switched from raiding as a mage – and perhaps I did. The funny thing is, though, that very little of my content was mage-specific. I wrote the five-man guides (but never updated them for the Zul instances) and a gear guide, but other than that the things I write about are seldom class-specific. Now I’m in this odd limbo where I don’t feel I have anything to teach or say to paladins, nor do I have mage experience in Firelands. It’s tricky how your personal identity can get tied up into your class identity, so I’m trying not to worry about it overly. I’m just going to write about things that interest me, be they mage, paladin, or guild-related, and hope that they’ll be of interest to someone, somewhere.

Raiding

Make no mistake, switching from being a DPS (especially a pure) to a healer is a big adjustment. I heal five-person content a ton but hadn’t healed a raid in about a year. It says something about my guild’s trust in me that they were willing to let me dive in. Especially being somewhat undergeared for Firelands (I did the best I could, but was definitely behind the curve), healing FL was kind of like performing without a net. It’s been a rush, it’s been exhilarating, frustrating, and triumphant. It’s been humbling. I’m still constantly learning how to be a better paladin, but I’m happy with how it’s gone so far. With my usual zeal for gearing, I’ve managed to squeeze every last upgrade out of non-raid content and I can definitely feel the difference. Especially getting a new weapon and the two-piece T12 bonus have made me feel pretty unstoppable in heroics.

The biggest shift is a mental one, and it’s taken some time. I’ve had to teach my brain to recognize mild stress as ‘the norm’ and not freak out and just do its thing. It was funny when we went back one night to eight-man BoT for valor points. Remember, I didn’t do BoT as a healer, only as a DPS. So we’re on Ascendant Council and I lost range on my tank and my brain just kind of zoned out a bit. There was a part of it that thought, “Gosh, tank’s health sure is getting low.” A few seconds later, the other part of my brain screams, “YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HEALING THAT TANK.” Ohhh right, that’s my thing!

I haven’t done this in current content, it’s just interesting to me how the encounters themselves (and the way I have learned them) are so intertwined with the role I was playing at the time. When it comes to Firelands, I’ve only healed (or melee DPSed them) and so I don’t suddenly forget that I’m healing; all of my knowledge is centered around healing patterns, incoming damage, and needed cooldowns.

Recruiting

It’s been a long time since we’ve had three trial members at once. It’s not something I like doing, really, because each new person takes awhile to integrate into a group. Because of our relatively small number, an influx is especially unsettling and runs the risk of unbalancing the group paradigm. Also, they may not get the kind of one-on-one attention and feedback that we like to give, but I think we’ve managed well enough in this regard. I still reflexively catch myself going to check out recruitment ads until I remember – oh right, I don’t have to do that right this instant! It’s nice. They have been doing well, and of course time is the most important factor here. Everyone will naturally ease up as they get to know each other, given some time.

You’ve Earned The Achievement: Re-Earn All The Achievements!

Deja-Vroom

It occurred to me as I was flying to Stormspire to talk to Dealer Rashaad about purchasing a parrot, rabbit, dragonhawk and cockroach pet that I might have a problem.

I can’t consider a character “real” until they have achievement points, pets, and mounts.

I don’t know when this started – heck, I played the game before achievement points even existed. I remember that fateful day in October of 2008. I received credit for some of the things I had done, and even things I hadn’t known I’d done. I was annoyed that it didn’t know I had done all of the heroic Burning Crusade dungeons (I only went back to re-do them all for ‘credit’ years later. If you ask me why I did this, I couldn’t even tell you).

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this over the past few weeks, as I’ve been gathering the materials to make another Mekgineer’s Chopper, and disguised as a fel orc doing tasks for the Netherwing (there’s a Broken in those mines who cuts off his own hand and gives it to you, did you know that? He’s so committed to the task that he does this because he knows if he doesn’t, it’ll blow your cover. Now that’s dedication… Do you think he got ten achievement points for it?)

This is a sickness. I earned 100 Valiant’s Seals to become a champion of four more factions so that I could be a Crusader and reclaim the pallycorn that was mine by rights. This may also be my third Crusader character, or not quite, but it’s definitely my second. Yes, I know, draenei paladins (Vindicators!) received a very racially appropriate elekk that robbed me of my beloved horse. It’s ideally suited to male draenei – who’ve been crushing mounts beneath their prodigious bulk since coming to Azeroth – but Vid likes to be a bit more low profile. So now she’s a Crusader, and has a horse (and a motorcycle) and a Cenarion Hippogryph and somewhere in the neighbourhood of sixty mini-pets. You can see where this is going.

I don’t even really mind that I’ll have to do Loremaster again. I’ve been meaning to see all of the “new” old quests in any case. Plus, I really like “The Seeker” title. I tried just focusing on character appropriate achievements/pets and mounts – that’s why Vid has the Legs pet (from Zangarmarsh) and will need the Firefly, as well as riding the Cenarion Hippogryph mount. She’s spent a lot of time in Zangarmarsh over the years (Sporregar rep is naturally on my “to-do” list).

Three hours of farming in Tol Barad has failed to yield another Fox Kit, though. I’m not sure I’ll have the heart to re-do all of the achievements Millya has.

The Dalaran Fountain coins? …ugh.

Another Mr. Pinchy? …This would be the third character I’ve fished him up with.

I think being an achievement hunter and an altaholic may be a dangerous combination. I’ll tell you more about it, as soon as I’m finished my daily Winterspring cub quest. If I do that for enough consecutive days, I’ll get another mount which will put me at nearly fifty!

…please send help.

A dwarf asked me to carry this keg back to Ironforge. It has wings because that's how in touch with the Light I am. I only did it because there's this achievement if you complete all these tasks, though...

Random Acts of Kindness: Cross-Faction Edition

My druid, Shae, and her original Teldrassil Sproutling! He seems to have fallen asleep. He's so lazy. He'd usually find a spot to snooze smack in the middle of the raid, preferably in fire.

I’ve been working on my various collections lately. Due to my history with changing mains, my achievement hunting has been hindered in some regards. For example, I started collecting pets with my druid and more or less had to start from scratch with Millya’s collection. This is the background story behind why I was seeking the Argent Tournament pets, so long after the Argent Tournament’s conclusion.

It happens that I think the AT pets (all of them) are some of the neatest pets in the game. My Teldrassil Sproutling was my constant companion for druid healing. It was pretty easy to just quest until I had enough Champion’s Seals to get the Alliance ones for Millya! Where I ran into some trouble was trying to get the Horde ones. Back on my old server, I’d just spent a bit of gold to buy them for my druid. This was when the Argent Tournament came out, most people were doing it every day, and that server had a healthy Horde population to match the number of people playing Alliance. My current server doesn’t have that. There aren’t very many Horde players there, period. Some of these pets are up for sale on the neutral AH (or people transfer them over) but for exorbitant prices. And why not? They do take some time and effort to obtain, and the low population keeps them fairly exclusive.

I could probably have afforded to buy them all. But I thought, there has to be a pet collector on the Horde side who also doesn’t want to spend 6000 gold per pet to get the Alliance version. I made a post on my realm forums to the effect of, “Looking for Horde to trade AT pets with.” They cost 40 Champion’s Seals each, so we could just straight up trade. Alliance pets for Horde pets!

After about five days and no replies to my thread, it wasn’t looking good. I thought I’d been too ambitious. Maybe Moonrunner’s Horde players aren’t pet collectors, or else it was so easy to obtain the pets that they’d all collected them ages ago. Then Fsob mentioned to me, “Hey, did you see someone responded to your thread?” I’d stopped checking it! A Tauren warrior had replied saying he thought he had some seals left over.

I sent him an in-game mail (Horde-side) to ask him which Alliance pets he most wanted. I didn’t think I had enough seals for all five, but I definitely could get three right away. We played a bit of message tag until Sunday, I logged in and found a message from an Alliance character of his, and the character was online. We started talking, he was mostly asking how he could get the pets to me. It was the next part that flabbergasted me.

“I don’t collect pets,” he told me, “So I don’t need them, but I have all five for you. I made a lot of money selling them before so I figure this is karma. I thought when I first replied that I could get maybe two, but it turned out I had a lot of seals on different alts.”

He wouldn’t hear of taking anything for them. His Alliance character didn’t need anything. He suggested we make the switch then, if I had time. I made my way to his character in Orgrimmar, still completely floored. There they were in the trade window, all five of the pets.

I thanked him repeatedly and told him that if nothing else he’d made a friend Alliance side and if he ever needed anything at all, I wanted to help him.

A little bit of Mulgore wildlife. Hey, Draenei can appreciate creatures from all over Azeroth, right?

This is undoubtedly the kindest thing a complete stranger has ever done for me in WoW. He suggested that if I wanted to ‘repay’ him I could just pay it forward and do the same thing for someone else Horde-side. It’ll take me a bit of time to get all the Seals and find the right person, and I just might do that, or think of something equally momentous to do. Best of all, I will not be able to take out any of the new pets without thinking of this generous Tauren and his completely unexpected gift. I think it will always make me smile, and so not only do I have new pets, they also mean something.

Has a stranger in WoW ever done something really nice and totally unexpected for you? Did you do something nice for someone else in return, or maybe even without the initial catalyst? If you find yourself inspired yourself, let me know, I’d love to read about your experiences. I like to generally believe that all people are basically good, I love when the universe tries to prove me right!

How Long And Strange Indeed

It's violet, and it's mine!

I know I’m pretty behind the times here, but today I finished up School of Hard Knocks to complete Millya’s meta achievement, What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been. I could have done it last year but I was feeling belligerent then, and so instead I pouted about the way the achievements had been designed.

Don’t get me wrong – I still think School of Hard Knocks would be much better off if it were like what Rades proposed. If you want to make people do PvP content, keep it group and team friendly! I tell you, the AB I was in when I got that portion of the achievement was just stupid. I’ve never seen an entire team huddled around one flag like that. I rarely say anything beyond calling incs in BG chat and even I had to ask, “What are you all doing at LM?” It’s not even as if the Horde was “trading” the flag back and forth, they were delighting in murdering people over and over again. It’s frustrating to feel like you aren’t actually helping the team by being there. I was able to actually play in WSG instead of hindering my team, and we nearly won the EoTS too! AV turned out to be a tower-trading zergfest, but at the end of the day I’m okay with that. I’m done, and my orphan and I won’t trouble the BGs any further. I do feel bad for people who regularly like to PvP, though, and are going to find it well-nigh impossible to get anything done over the next week.

That said, I want to extend a big cosmic appreciative “thank you” to Cynwise of Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual. For two years now, Cyn has been such a positive force – encouraging people to get these achievements, helping them to learn how, and telling them personally via Twitter and his blog, “You CAN do this, and here’s how.” It’s so inspiring to me. Cyn could have just complained about the PvE folks “ruining BGs,” but instead he took it upon himself to extend a helping hand and express a message of kindness. Thanks for that, Cyn, your guide helped motivate me to finally get off my butt and get this done this year. If you’re dreading this like I was, check out his guide, and good luck!

Everyday I Wipe The Raid Because Of A Book

There are some things that only die-hard fellow achievement hunters will understand.

"Oh yay I got an achievement for /hugging all the murlocs of Azeroth! I get a Slimy Arms title and a new murloc pet - which I already have, but this one is cyan, and my other one is kind of an aqua..."

Or, as Ghostcrawler put it, “We’ve found that if we put ridiculous things in the game, players will do them.”

That’s why I’m still trying to get the rare drop mounts that are going away. Note, not all of these ARE going away, they are mounts I’m trying to get.

For the record:

  • Raptor mounts – 0
  • Tiger mounts – 0
  • Anzu mounts – 1 (ages ago with my druid when it required a druid)
  • Rivendare’s mount – 0
  • White Hawkstriders – 0
  • ZG, Sethekk Halls, Stratholme and Magister’s Terrace runs: I don’t want to think about it

It’s also why I have been slowly chipping away at the Grand List of Things To Do. Some of them I have crossed off the list, like Loremaster. Others, well…

Let’s just say that sometimes an achievement gets under my skin. I just want to get it done. So it is with the Higher Learning achievement. For those who may not be familiar with the achievement, it requires that you read a series of rare books around Dalaran. They spawn at specific spots, but at any given time there is no guarantee of the “right” book spawning. You are much more likely to be reading an issue of Kirin Tor monthly (back issues, sadly) or any other of a number of flavour books. Most of them are pretty funny! But most of them also won’t reward me with an incredibly magely pet.

Who knew he was so into books?

The pursuit of this achievement is well-documented and a lot of people want it, so there are even channels dedicated to people sharing book info. On most servers it’s “bookclub.” The bookclub channel on Moonrunner has proven incredibly helpful to me – I’ve found at least two books because of it and have dutifully reported the books when I find them, too. I’ve been working on this achievement since I knew that it existed, but perhaps I lacked the singleminded dedication I have recently found.

I just need one last book. It’s the one above the Threads of Fate shop. There’s a cute water elemental and a gnome there who are washing clothes, and it’s just out on the balcony from the shoe shine fellow. I had rarely even seen a junk book spawn here when I was running between spawn points. Now it is the only book I need, and it vexes me. You can imagine my consternation the other night when a call went out in the bookclub channel:

“Enchantment book up above tailoring shop.” He didn’t mean the tailoring shop, really. He meant the Threads of Fate. My book! Guess where I was? The FROZEN THRONE.

I may or may not have burst out into Vent, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.” Whether it was a consequence of my distraction or not, the raid wiped within the next twenty seconds or so. It’s impossible to prove causality, here. Just that my achievement may or may not have been involved. I ported to Dalaran as soon as we HAD wiped…but I was too late. The book was gone.

I'm a mage. Being a bibliophile is practically in the job description!

Voss thinks my book was directly involved. “How could you wipe the raid because of a book?!” he says at our next break, waving his arms.

“I did not wipe the raid because of a book!” I tell him.

“You distracted everyone with your book!”

“Look, some people wipe the raid by standing in fire, surely I get one LITERARY FREEBIE.”

Finishing off this achievement hasn’t been all bad. I’m often one of a crowd of people waiting… usually all of them mages. Yesterday a troll mage said something to me that I obviously didn’t understand, so I had Voss log onto his Horde warrior to ask what he’d said. It turned out that he had been singing Business Time to me. We got to chatting a little bit. I’m sure we would be friends, except that he’s a troll. In summary: searching for this last book is bringing me closer to random strangers, but wiping the raid.

My priorities are absolutely in line, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

My...precious?!

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