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May 2011

Meeting my Cataclysm Goals: Sandstone Drake, Check!

Whose a cute fuzzy wuzzy shadowy dragon? ME that's who!

Each expansion, I've had a goal in mind. For WotLK, it was to save Bolvar Fordragon. This expansion, from the moment I saw the Sandstone Drake, it was to be able to shift into a shadowy dragon. And as of this weekend, that goal is complete.

I didn't want to get the Vial of the Sands for Anexxia, since she already has an awesome mount for shadowform-- the Blazing Hippogryph. Thus, my Alliance shadow priest being the lucky recipient.

I'd burnt out on trying for the Vial on my alchemist after the fourth canopic jar full of nothing more than mummified remains. Thus, I'd started searching for the Vial on the AH every time I logged in, to get a sense of how much it was going for, so I could save up accordingly.

Just last week, I'd seen it up for 75k which was way too rich for my blood. But then something funny happened over the long weekend. Suddenly there was a price war, and we had three of them up with buyouts under 49k, and bids for 44k. Still a ton of cash, but then again, it cost me a lot of cash to make my motorcycle back in the day as well.

For those wondering just how I happened to have so much cash on hand, well that's a direct result of being used to supporting raiding costs on two characters, but not doing any raiding, on the whole, for months. Instead of using up all my consumables and materials on myself, I've been selling stuff as I accumulate it. And continuing with my usual crafting. But not having anything to spend the cash on meant it piled up on the bank alt.

And thus, I've met my one Cataclysm goal to date. It's great timing too -- I'm about to be even more busy IRL due to a promotion at work. So even if I don't play seriously for a few months, I'll still be able to feel I've gone out in a blaze of glory, so to speak. And no, I'm not quitting WoW and I'm not stopping the blog, but I am a bit preoccupied with life outside of Azeroth at the moment. Catch you on the flipside.

Try, or Don't Try, but Don't Waste Our Time

Look Into the Moonkin Lights...You are Getiing Verrrry Sleepy...

I recently had a conversation with a buddy who hasn't been feeling the raiding urge this expansion, and felt bad for not turning up for raids. But I assured him I don't mind if folks don't feel like raiding and thus are not turning up for raid nights.

What drives me up the wall are those who DO turn up, unprepared, and unwilling to actually make a real effort, and proceed to waste the time of the 9 other people on the team who actually logged on and wanted to raid.That's right: people who show up out of obligation but make no real effort to be a productive member of the raid team are my pet peeve.

I do not mind a night plagued by unavoidable failures due to DCs or power outages or bugged bosses. It happens. I do not mind a night of attempts getting progressively closer to a boss kill without success. Learning the strat takes practice. But I DO mind raiding nights plagued by people ninja AFKing, or having no clue about the bosses we're fighting, or dying  due to continually standing in crap on the ground they can move out of, or having mysteriously changed their spec so they are no longer able to do their assigned job in the raid. This sort of thing makes me want to log off in a nerd rage.

World of Warcraft raids are not a spectator sport. They are a team effort. Perhaps with the latest nerfs, pro guilds can carry through more slackers and malcontents. But perhaps not. And regardless, I'm not your mommy so I don't WANT to carry you through content. There -- I've said it.

When did going to raids become an unbearable chore that one slogged through, seemingly trying to do as poor a job as possible so it would get called early and you could go back to picking herbs? What is it exactly about Cataclysm and its raid structure and guild changes that has made this seem like an all too common and prevalent issue?

I don't have the answers. but I do have a request: if you are not feeling like raiding: please don't sign up or accept the raid invitation. Everyone is entitled to a night off. And if you're not willing to come in and give it your A game, you're doing the rest of the team (many of whom spent time farming food and flask materials and repair money) a disservice.

Try, or don't try, but please don't waste your raid team's time.




Spirit: Still Not Just for Healers

elemental shaman can use spirit too mister pally pants!

I've been leveling my goblin shaman in large part through LFD groups. I've been enjoying the under 10 minute queues, and seeing the old instances in new level ranges. But what I haven't been enjoying as much is the non-stop arguing about who gets the spirit gear.

While in Dire Maul, I rolled need on, and won, mail spirit gloves. Our healing paladin, who, in that same moment, won the shield off the King, immediately started berating me. The conversation went roughly like this:

PALADIN: " Why did you roll need on those gloves, shaman???"

ME: "?"

PALADIN: "Don't you know anything? You use AGI not spirit, dumbass."

ME: "Actually, as an elemental shaman, with a resto offspec, I can use spirit in either spec. I have the talent that converts spirit into hit."

PALADIN: "Obviously you don't raid."

ME: "Yes, I actually, I do. Your point?"

PALADIN: "If you raid then you should know main spec before off spec."

ME: "As already noted I'm elemental and have the talent that uses spirit for hit. And you not only got plenty of other loot this run, you can wear plate so you didn't have more right to win those gloves than I did."

/ignores paladin

ME: "Next time, before you start berating a stranger in an instance over loot, be more informed about your topic."

That's right. The paladin and I both rolled on mail spirit gloves, in a run wherein they had won a ton of loot, and he threw a hissy fit about my winning them with a need roll. I am not making this up.

Back in October, when I first wrote about the changing face of spirit, I expected we would have some short term hiccups. I did not anticipate, however, that my hybrids (and I only really do instances with my SP/boomkin/ele shaman) would be the target of non-stop harangues from healers who felt that every item that dropped with spirit on it was their priority over mine.

Yes, I understand that healers really really need spirit. But hybrids also can use it. And especially when you are talking about the mail and leather gear, there isn't a plethora of non spirit gear awaiting my picking it up. And it's ridiculous to expect me, in PUG 5-mans no less, to pass on any item with spirit on it in case a healer wants it. That'd be a great way to be wearing level 20 quest gear up to 60.

Warlocks and Mages: Still Don't Need Spirit

Probably one of the more vexing related issues that crops up just as often is warlocks and mages rolling on cloth spirit gear, or my worst case so far: melee DPS rolling on and winning a spirit trinket. I know that Blizzard spent an entire expansion trying to convince locks and mages that they should have a teeny bit of spirit in their gear, but those days are past.

Yes, as someone pointed out to me in their argument as to why I was wrong that they don't use spirit at all, your rate of out of combat mana regen is dependent upon spirit. That would technically be considered "using spirit" but having a stat on your gear that you mostly reforge away because it only affects your out of combat mana regen does not really fit in with my definition of "using it" the same way that casters who convert it into hit (which you need whenever you are fighting something up to your hit cap.)

At this point, I'm going to have to make a macro to spam before the first boss drops his phat loots, that says something along the lines of: "Since it always comes up, please be advised that boomkin/elemental shaman/shadow priests actually use spirit as hit; I have it talented. It's not just for healers. Cheers." Not that it will do any good, but it will save my wery fingers from typing these worn out arguments at least...

Goblin Shaman Says: For the Dark Lady!

goblin lady on a bony pony

Oh what a glorious thing it is to reach your goals.

Early this week, the adorable goblin lady you see here hit exalted with the Forsaken, on her march to level 40.

This sufficiently incented me to crank through a couple more levels (thank you LFD and your 4-9 min waits for lowbie dungeons) so I could get her a pony.

OK, actually, I got her...7 ponies. But this is her favorite.

Yeah, the epic tryke is flashy and all, but this is what she really wanted.

Because nothing shows your allegiance to Lady Sylvanas more than prancing around on one of her ponies.

Awwwww yeah baby!

10 more levels then I can train up my professions again, but I have an 82 and an 84 who need some questing as well.

So much alting to do and so little time....

Happy Friday!


I'm at At Loose Ends

sometimes, all you can do is dance with a friend.

Two months ago, I left  the guild I'd raided in through most of WotLK and been an officer in for over a year, and joined a friend's raiding guild. Alas, our friend's guild had a bad case of Main Tank Syndrome plus a RL revolving door and start time. Although offered the opportunity to run the B team raid and thus have complete control over the RL and start time, in a guild that is now 11/12, my SO and I both put raiding on the back burner for the first time in over 5 years (5.5 years for the SO.)

Truth be told, my RL schedule has been too hectic for the past month to take on progression raiding prep, let alone leading a raiding team. But this leaves me at loose ends. Yes, I have a whole army of neglected alts who would love some attention. But my World of Warcraft -- from the time my druid hit 58 and stepped into MC to heal our META guild's raid-- has revolved around raiding. Not always cutting edge, top 5 on the server raiding (though there has been that too), but I've always been a part of a regularly scheduled raid team since that first night of raiding.

It feels weird to not need to make any flasks.

It feels weird not to be watching tank spot videos and pestering people to read Jaded Alt's strats.

It feels weird to be poking around on alts in the evening instead of slaying Internet dragons with friends.

I don't think this hiatus from raiding will be permanent, but I do think it'll be longer than a vacation break. It's absolutely exhausting to think about trying to find a guild that raids horde-side, 6 PT start or a bit later, with fun and friendly and interesting guildies. I am positive it can be done, but I don't feel like I have the energy or the time to do it right now. And my schedule with the classes I'm taking means I don't have a more open schedule for raiding at the moment. But I know that once 4.2 hits the live servers, the urge to raid will likely tip the balance back to "must raid!" from the "not enough time to find the right fit in a guild."

One thing I know for certain is raiding progression is not enough reason to stick it out in a guild where you don't connect with the other people, or worse yet, they don't even connect with anyone else. I've already spent too much time in guilds where folks were only all about the raid and were PUGging 5-mans alone in a sea of 25+ guildies online, in-between bouts of snarking at each other in the guild forums. I want more than that. And I'm positive I'll eventually find it.

Friday Five: Five Things I Look for in a Raiding Guild


  1. You have set times to raid.
    Specifically, you raid at 6 p.m. pacific or a little bit after. This does not change based upon whimsy. Or enough people being on earlier. Or your raid leader not liking someone who can't get online until 6 Pacific and thus trying to get things started before they log on. 
  2. You confirm your raid slots in advance.
    No, not 30min in advance; a day or two in advance. Or better yet, you have a set raiding roster, and I'm on it. No one, including me, want to rush home form work to warm the bench.
  3. Your loot policies are clear, and not subject to change.
    Loot isn't handed out based on their personal relationships with the raid leader/guild leader. RL/GL don't get "dibs" on all the loot. Officers don't get special consideration for special drops. There aren't special requirements you've never heard about previously when a mount or a legendary drops.
  4. You have people on in your non-raid times.
    If your guild is a hot bed of activity during raid hours and a dead zone thereafter, that says to me there isn't much camaraderie or community other than your raiding. And even if that's very successful raiding, you're not gong to be a good fit for me.
  5. Your guild leader/raid leader/officers are experienced and well respected.
    I am sure that there are many children under the age of 18 and people who've only been playing 6 months who are excellent guild and raid leaders. but so far, I haven't encountered them. I'm a cranky 5 1/2 year veteran of WoW, and enjoy playing with people who are pretty experienced, mature, and with whom I have things in common in addition to playing this game.

What are the things you look for when shopping for a raiding guild?


Alt Attack!

Due to a real life work and continuing education schedule that hasn't left me with much spare time, I haven't raided in a few weeks. Instead, I've spent an unusual (for me) amount of time playing my alts. And creating new alts. I blame @psynister's influence!


This past weekend, I indulged in some profession power leveling on my two goblins, speeding them through inscription (maxing out what's possible for level 35) and tailoring/enchanting (making good headway for a level 11.) But that's not even the half of it:

  • I moved my Tauren druid, who hadn't been played since the expansion hit, to the server whre I've been rolling my goblins to play with some great tweeps. 
    • And proceeded to earn her a level, bringing her up to level 81.
  • And despite all that, I still had time to push my Alliance warlock to 84
  • AND get all my toons the Legacy of Arlokk staff
  •  AND do a wee bit of Children's Week on my primary characters.

All of the above in a few short hours this weekend, in-between bouts of homework! So while all around me I am hearing about boredom and burn out, I'm back to having a nice solid "to do" list, across a half dozen characters. And that's just the way I like it.

Next up, I'll need to decide if I want to leave any of my hordelings on Bronzebeard at all. As of now, I'm leaning towards not leaving them there. In the 2 1/2 years I've been there, the server environment has changed as far as not having as many PUGs going for raid content, and not a very wide selection of raiding guilds. Plus many of the folks I really enjoyed playing with there have either left the server, or stopped playing. Our friend's guild is 11/12, which makes it great on the casual raiding front, but it's really not exactly what I'm looking for from a social standpoint, truth be told. Given all this, I'd prefer to have my beloved shadow priest on a server where she had a number of raiding options, so that she'll never again be stuck in a less than inspiring guild situation all for the sake of a raid slot.

But that's all stuff to figure out later. Right now, the class and homework schedule, plus work busyness means not thinking about raiding at all short term. For the first time in 5 years. And yes, it feels pretty strange to not have any raiding progression targets on my "to do" list. It will remain to be seen how well not raiding works out. And where I end up.

Friday Five: Five Patch 4.1 Favorite Things

My Druid's got Legs...the new Outlands Children's Week pet!

It takes more than a week for me to settle into a new content patch. And in the case of the past two weeks, I've had not nearly enough time to dive in to what the patch has to offer. But I do have a solid five favorites to share with you today:

  1. New Children's week pets!
    In addition to this adorable spindly creature, from the Outlands orphan scavenger hunt quest chain, you can get a snail pet from the Azeroth quest chain. And allegedly, you can finally get the Northrend pet you didn't choose the first time (I've not had the opportunity to actually DO that yet, so we'll see.)
  2. The triumphant return of mind sear!
    Mind sear, no longer the shadow priest's practical joke for the damage meters. Not quite at its WotLK peak #s, but a damn fine improvement. I actually bust it out again now. And have hit 40k #s on select 5-man trash. This is highly acceptable. And awesome.
  3. New cooking and fishing dailies!
    Some of them are pretty creepy, like the one wherein my druid was attacked by crawdads, thanks to some foul-smelling dwarven beauty cream. I like having a variety of new quests to choose from, and that we can do them in places other than the two cities that we've been hunkered down in since Deathwing singed the world.
  4. More Vanity pets!
    Not one, but TWO kitties, seen here. And many more new pets to come. It's starting to make that 125 pet goal on Candy and Anexxia not seem *quite* so crazy. Sorta. ;p
  5. New 5-man content!
    ZG was one of my favorite all-time raids, and ZA was a place only my mage ever got to raid ("Please?? Please bring your mage? We really need a good cc'er...please bring your mage??"), so it's cool to see them turned into 5-mans. I'll be happier once this content is more easily PUGgable on all my servers. Right now, it truly depends on if you have a raid-geared healer and tank who are able to think critically about the encounters. So far, I've PUG'd ZG and mostly 1-shot the bosses, and had a ZA that couldn't get past the Eagle boss. But I know it will get easier for folks eventually.

BONUS Five: Regaining the feeling that I can pick a capitol city other than Orgrimmar or Stormwind to call home.

What  have been your favorite 4.1 changes or additions?

Why I Prefer to be Part of a Set Raid Team

It's a bummer that Magni is now Crystal Clear; likewise it's a bummer when your raid seating priotiy is not.

One of the hardest things I've had to adjust to since leaving behind my more serious raiding guild days, and joining a series of casual guilds that raided, is the loss of being part of a set raid team.

There was the guild that seemed to have a core raiding group, of which I was apart, raiding every night for a year until I was unceremoniously sat for having reminded the tank's brother to turn off his Crusader Aura while we were on Kael. Or the raid group where the raid leader would never tell any of us standby folks if we were needed or not, then get huffy when asked if we were needed or could be released to go do something else.

What I Like About Set Teams

My first, and most serious, raiding guild helped shaped my expectations, and preference, that raid seating be transparent, and communicated in advance. And it also showed me the power of having a set raiding team, with designated backups, rather than having some sort of round robin seating. When we started up our raids each week, there was no need to spend excessive amounts of time re-explaining fight mechanics for farm bosses. Previously killed bosses were summarily handled, leaving us with maximum time to head in and work on our progression  boss or bosses of the evening.

Because we had the same base team each raid, and didn't constantly change up strat, folks had a chance to practice their role, learn how to optimize it during the fight, and set goals for exceeding the prior kill's perfection in execution. We knew which raid member would pull out all the stops if there was a mishap, whom was best suited for which special task, etc.

In the last 2 years especially, I've primarily raided in situations wherein the raid had an entirely different make-up week-to-week. Different healing classes, different distributions of DPS, entirely different players week-to-week. While I do understand how for guilds with too many raiders for a 10-man raid and not enough raiders (or desire) for a 25-man raid can see rotating people in and out of one 10-man to be the path of least resistance for raid seating, I also think it is a key contributor to slowed progression through the content.

From my personal perspective, I'm just not as sharp on a boss I am only seeing every few weeks as I am on content I've done on a regular basis. And it takes time to build raid synergy and relationships. If you are spending 30min of your 3-hour raid time explaining fights to people who have never seen them before, you're not left with much time to build camaraderie -- or to work on new content either.

And What I Hate Most About Unschedulers

In the case of the unschedulers, who can't confirm people When I've hurried home from work to make a 6 p.m. raid start, only to find the raid has started in my absence, or to be told I'm being sat for a new person, it's peeved me. I could have gone out for a drink with a colleague, or stopped by the Farmers' Market, or finished up one last task at my desk. If only the raid leader had changed my status to Out for that raid I signed up for 2 weeks ago.

We are all busy people. If you are working 40+ horus per week, it's hard enough to schedule your raid nights around everything else you need to get done. So when you do those scheduling feats, or spend $30 to catch a cab home to be there for your raid team, it truly sucks to be warming the bench for the night. Yes, it takes extra time for the raid leader to confirm people, and yes it requires those who sign up for raids to be committed to actually attending them, but I do believe having a set slate of raiders, confirmed in advance, is the best course of action to progress through raids.

How to Deal With Backups

Now, when I've gotten into heated discussions int he past with folks over this issue, it's often been due to the thought that a set slate of core raiders causes a team experience gap for the inevitably needed backups/fill-ins. But I disagree. My most successful raid team had several slots set aside in each raid to rotate backups in and out to ensure they learned the new fights and could keep up on the farm content. Yes, in a 10-man you have less leeway than in a 25-man, but it's still doable. You can set aside a healing slot and a DPS slot that rotates people each raid night. If you are in the envious position of being a guild with a surplus of tanks, you can also rotate your off tanks from DPS to Off-tank each raid.

In my opinion, having a more disciplined approach to your raid seating can strengthen the camaraderie of your raid team and be a solid base for progression success. What are your thoughts on raid seating?