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

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Hoarders

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

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

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

I’ve gotten rid of, to date:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memory Lane: Burning Crusade Edition

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

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

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

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

Millya's first "fast" mount.

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

So fashionable!

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

Giant Pink Lipstick of DOOM!

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

Firehawks and lynxes and bears, oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Noblegarden Egg Hunt

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

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

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

Who, me? Superstitious?

The other day the most excellent Kurnmogh of Kurn’s Corner asked on Twitter if a tens raider wanted to be on the podcast she co-hosts with Majik, Blessing of Frost. I was excited to have the opportunity to talk (and talk, and talk, if all the editing Kurn had to do is any indication…) about one of my favourite topics: 10s vs 25s!

The title is a little misleading in that we really weren’t debating which one is ‘better’ per se but just talking about some of the challenges they face. So if you are at all interested in that, you can find the show over here, and then you will know what I sound like (lucky you). The first part of the podcast was recorded on Monday but mid-way through Kurn’s entire building lost power because of a fire nearby and someone was stuck in an elevator. We rescheduled to continue on Wednesday and in-between I caught a heck of a cold. I drank juice and lozenges and hardly talked all day long just so I could save my voice up for the last part of the podcast, so if I sound weird – I blame that, and I think that both the fire/elevator/cold were all caused by the fact that it was the thirteenth episode of Blessing of Frost.

I’m not usually superstitious, but clearly there’s something to this theory. I had a lot of fun talking to Kurn and Majik and seeing a bit of “behind the scenes” at BoF. They are great folks and I appreciated the opportunity to join them. I also owe a thanks to my friend Walks who urged me to volunteer to be interviewed. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone but I am really glad I did it.

Intermission

I went back and forth on whether I should post about this or not. I also asked Voss if he was okay with it (Voss being my spectacular husband, fellow officer and all around great guy, if you’re new here). He said it was okay, so I am going to write about it very briefly. Mostly Manalicious doesn’t have very much that’s personal, but this is going to be personal.

I know that having long times between posts (especially when my last post was called ‘Knowing when it’s time to let go’) is bad. First and foremost:

  • I’m not quitting WoW.
  • I am still playing, and raiding.
  • I still feel like I have a lot to say about many things and Manalicious isn’t going anywhere.

That said, it’s been hard for me to focus as my family has been going through some troubles requiring my attention, and this week we got some terrible news.

Back in 2008, Voss’ dad had chemotherapy for ganglionic cancer, I’m not sure if that’s the correct terminology in English as I get most of these descriptions in French. Anyway, his chemo then was pretty successful and he’s been well since – his hair grew back in, and he is one of the most ridiculously healthy people I know. He runs and goes to the gym and eats well.

Thursday he called to tell Voss that his cancer has come back and it’s pretty bad. It is being biopsied but he may need to have surgery to diagnose it correctly and then after that he’s going to be starting rounds of intensive chemotherapy – requiring that he be in hospital for a week at a time, in complete isolation. His chances of survival are about 50/50. Needless to say, the two of us were devastated by this news and feeling stuck because we want to help but his dad lives in Montreal and we are pretty far from Montreal. So over the next several months we don’t know what’s going to happen – we’re definitely going to be taking an unplanned trip to Montreal, possibly several. Right now it’s the uncertainty and the fear that makes everything hard, as I’m sure anyone who’s gone through this with a family member or themselves can understand. We will have to be unavailable to raid and won’t be able to play at all, but we’re not sure when. It depends on the outcome of this initial diagnosis.

What does that mean for Manalicious? I’m a bit distracted, is mostly what it means. I could post this and then be hit by a fit of productivity and write three posts, or I could not post for a little while, and I apologize for that. I’ve always tried to maintain a fairly regular update schedule of two-three posts per week but I can’t promise that for the next while. I hope everyone understands and will let my name in your respective blog feed remain unbolded for a time, with the understanding that I fully intend to return when I can.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a post you think would fit with my topics here (raiding, guild leading, guilds, mages, classes with mana bars, pugs), please feel free to talk about it with me. I welcome any quality guest posts at this time and thank you for your patience while we figure out our travel plans and hope that Voss’ dad is going to be okay.

Where Have All The Draenei Gone?

This post was originally written for the Secret Santa exchange for Pix over at Pixelated Executioner, but I’m afraid not many people who read my blog may have actually read it. With his permission I’m reposting it here, if you’ll forgive my gratuitious and continued use of Draenei cookie photos. I know I’ve used them in another post here, but darn it, I can’t help myself.

When I signed up for the Blog Azeroth Secret Santa gift exchange, I was pretty excited. Surprises are fun to exchange and to receive! My name’s Vidyala, and I normally write over at Manalicious – about mages, raiding, guild leading, baking, casters, and other shenanigans.

I found out that I’d be writing for Pix – who I don’t know very well, but through some careful sleuthing have discovered at least two things:

1) We both like food (I’m guessing from involvement with Nourish, here)
2) We both like draenei.

This post begins and ends with one and has plenty of the other in the middle.

Accordingly, here’s a gingerbread Lelissa.

Yes, Christmas at my house included Ginger Draenei, and one of them customized for Pix. I have no regrets!

There was a question asked at Blizzcon for those of us who especially enjoy draenei and their lore, and I’ve been thinking about it since. Basically, the question boiled down to this (I’m paraphrasing, here)

“We haven’t seen or heard much about the draenei since TBC and they were hardly visible in Northrend at all. Is Cataclysm going to remedy this, and can we expect to see more of the draenei?”

When I heard this question, I cheered, because I’ve asked it myself on many occasions. Unfortunately, the answer was essentially: “There isn’t much more about the draenei in Cataclysm, but we’re aware that they’ve been a bit neglected.”

I have been inclined to complain about lack of draenei involvement in the events of Northrend, but since giving it some thought, I’ve been realizing that it actually isn’t all that bad.

The Burning Crusade
For someone making a fresh draenei character in TBC, the opportunities were boundless. In my opinion, draenei have had the best starting zone for years. The quests do an excellent job of laying out the adversity the draenei have faced, establishing their opposition, and culminating in a series of quests that actually pit you against elite enemies. Even though you’re only level twenty, you leave the draenei starting zone with resolve and a very clear goal: you must go to Outland and defeat the Burning Legion. These quests are only available to draenei characters, and they reward you with a unique tabard.

Throughout Azeroth the draenei presence is low – despite the player population, they really aren’t supposed to be a high-population race, but there are subtle nods to them in many places. Ambassadors are working with the kal’dorei in Forest Song to help rebuild. There is a lovely (but tragic) pocket of quests in the Swamp of Sorrows that deals with an Anchorite trying to find a way to rehabilitate the Lost Ones there.

Of course, once you go through the Dark Portal, draenei are the primary focus. The main “hub” city for the expansion was Shattrath. Most of the zones are rich in draenei lore, whether giving an insight into the past (as in Hellfire), getting involved in helping the small community of Telredor (Zangarmarsh), forging an Alliance with the Kurenai in Nagrand, or helping the restless spirits of Auchenai.

Draenei are at the forefront of many initiatives, including the Sha’tari Skyguard, the Shattered Sun Offensive, and of course – The Aldor. They were central to the main conflicts of the expansion. At the risk of repeating myself here, this expansion was an awesome time to be a draenei, whether you were a roleplayer or just had an interest in the game’s lore. It’s natural then that when Wrath came out, we were a bit shell-shocked to suddenly be thrown into the back row.

A draenei in TBC also had many race-appropriate fashion and accessory options for bashing skulls or whatever else suited their purpose.

Wrath of the Lich King
The presence of draenei characters or stories was pretty low in Wrath, it’s true. There’s a small contingent of them at Valiance Keep in Borean Tundra. There’s a shaman in Howling Fjord who charges you with inhaling some pretty powerful incense that lets you walk around outside of your body. There’s good old Modoru at Star’s Rest – the Sentinels there are making fun of his extremely draenic clothing.

Hakmud of Argus can be found cruising around on the Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth (it’s a nice little bonus that you can purchase the robes Modoru is wearing from him for a mere 50 gold. Hand-sewn draenic silk doesn’t come cheap, you know!).

The infamous Jadaar and Asric made an appearance in Dalaran and later at the Argent Tournament grounds. If you haven’t listened to them it’s worth it – they have a history stretching back to Jadaar’s peacekeeping days in Shattrath. The two of them are hilarious.

Vindicator Maraad (from the comic series) is flying around on the Skybreaker, although he doesn’t have much to say, and I’m sure I remember a draenei Death Knight up in Icecrown.

It used to bother me that draenei had such a low-profile in this expansion. After all, they’d thrown their lot in with the Alliance. They came to Northrend to help with a common foe, and they’ve made Azeroth their home. Didn’t they deserve at least a little bit of screen time? The more I’ve thought about it, though, the more I am comfortable with them throughout this expansion. There were many NPCs present in the various Argent factions that were draenei. They didn’t have any major lore characters or major lore moments, but their presence was felt.

A story can’t have all major characters, someone has to play a supporting role. The draenei were playing this role as the native races of Azeroth fought an enemy that had devastated their world and their people – just as the Alliance helped the draenei strike back against those who had devastated their world. It wasn’t really about us this time around, and that’s okay.

While somewhat out of their element in Northrend, draenei could still be equally badass.

Cataclysm
So how is the presence of the draenei shaping up in the latest expansion? Despite the developer’s answer to the question above – that there isn’t much about them in the Cataclysm – I have to admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised! The Earthen Ring is playing a prominent role in recent events, and there are draenei and Broken representatives among them, many of them high-ranking. That is primarily the extent of draenei involvement so far in Cataclysm. They aren’t central to the story, but they are around, and that’s actually about right. It’s not about the draenei any more, except that they are invested in the world the same way that all of the other races are. They’ve been integrating all this time, a notion that is borne out by the new Draenei cinematic. Here is a transcription for you: (The old draenei starting zone cinematic can be seen on Youtube).

Empowered by the Holy Light and the undying strength of their convictions, the draenei led the charge against the demonic Burning Legion in Outland.

Now, with the Legion’s defeat, they have completed the desperate mission that first brought them to Azeroth. Though some draenei were sent back to Outland to revitalize their former civilization, the majority have vowed to remain and uphold their sacred commitment to the Alliance.

Driven by a powerful vision, the immortal Prophet Velen believes that a great war between the darkness and the light is fast approaching, and that Azeroth will be its principle battleground.

As one of Velen’s chosen you must stand bravely against the shadow and ensure that your people are ready for the war to come.

I like that the starting cinematic was actually updated to reflect the events of the Cataclysm. Unfortunately, the zone itself wasn’t – new draenei are still stuck in a “time capsule” of sorts, where the questgivers are all in awe that you survived the crash and have been in stasis all that time (a really long time at this point, considering the events of the Burning Crusade are concluded and most other draenei helped defeat the Lich King in the meantime.) Can you imagine that conversation?

“Sooo, while you were pulling a Rip Van Winkle, we found a new world, but we crashed on it, then we defeated the Burning Legion on our old world, but then some undead threatened this one…but we killed them, except there’s this dragon, fire, flood thing going on here now…”

Hey, it’s not called World of Settle Down and Open A Bakery-Craft, right? Although at least one of my characters would love to do just that. So the draenei are a small part of the story again; Outland suffers from similar continuity issues but Blizzard has said that it’s not high on their priority list to fix and change it. I can’t really blame them, either – overhauling Outland to make sense with the current story would be no small task, and they’d rather put that effort into developing new content to attempt to appease the insatiable appetite of players.

Speaking of Outland, one very nice addition is the inclusion of draenei artifacts in the archaelogy profession. I won’t spoil them here, but if you have any interest in Archaelogy and/or draenei and orcs you’ll know that once you hit “Outland” levels you can find some interesting lore items. It’s a small thing, but I know I appreciate it greatly. In fact, generally when it comes to draenei lore I’ve been counting my blessings. It’s not as if other races like gnomes and dwarves had an entire expansion more or less dedicated to them. Many races play bit parts in the overall story and have few major lore representatives, so it really isn’t that bad. Meantime, those of us who are draenei fans will continue to play our characters, roleplay our characters (if that’s your thing) and/or make baked goods in their likeness.

The only problem with character-shaped cookies is bringing yourself to actually eat them.

That might just be me though. What do you do to celebrate your love of draenei (if you have one?) What do you think Blizzard could have done differently in Cataclysm? I would’ve actually liked the Stormwind Jewelcrafting contingent to be draenei. It wouldn’t be tough to do, it’s not implausible that some draenei would be living in Stormwind, and we do have a racial bonus to Jewelcrafting, after all!

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