Time For Timeless Raiding

In the past, when you get a character to a level cap, you would get an email from one of the main NPCs of the particular expansion, and get a little goody bag to celebrate your accomplishment. So, at 70, 80, 85 and 90 you would get a letter, some potions and words of encouragement to get off your butt and get to work, so you can raid and kill bosses and collect purples.

This is the mail my level 64 Shaman is awaiting her at level 90:

HEY YOU NOOB, HERE ARE SOME 496s, LOL

This is one of five similar mails waiting for her.

Welp.

I started playing WoW at the tail end of the Burning Crusade. For the longest time, the way we adapted to new raid content has evolved.

It always had an upgraded gear tier, which then made the newly depreciated gear a bit more readily available. Maybe for the lesser tokens, maybe for Honor or Valor. New factions would allow you to relatively quickly get a few key pieces of gear.

A freshly level-capped character preparing to raid endgame content still had a good amount of work to avoid being carried in raids.

With the Timeless Isle concept, you can give an alt with a more than adequate set of gear that makes life a lot easier. It makes it so you can get through dailies a lot faster and opens up heroic dungeons and scenarios.

It also means that it’s not hard to qualify to go into the end-tier raid on LFR, almost IMMEDIATELY after dinging 90. Rezznul just ran around the Isle and found all the treasure chests and was able to have plenty of tokens to share. My Warlock, who I never have raided on, except a few LFRs, is better geared than Rezznul. I find it easy and fun to run around the Isle solo, killing rares and getting tokens for everyone.

I realize Blizzard wanted this to replace the normal gear upgrade progression of discounting previous tier goods, making it so you can build a decent set that allows you to grow into the end-game content. The huge side-effect is in LFR.

Ever since LFR emerged, the experience is quite varied. However, with Siege, I have heard more horror stories about LFR than ever before. Why?

Sure, are there parts that are overtuned? Sure. I’m always of the mindset that it’s easier to nerf a fight than buff it, so some fights may turn out to be way harder than intended.

However, I think the root cause is the ability to plop into the last raid of an expansion after quick leveling up to 90 (which Blizzard has done a great job of streamlining), getting your Timeless gear, and then having no clue how to best use your abilities in a raid that is challenging even for people who have experience raiding.

Add to the fact that people became spoiled in earlier raid versions of LFR, where mechanics were removed, or changed so much over the regular version that they become inconsequential. So, the tolerance for people learning a fight is much lower. Wiping on LFR is tantamount to ultimate failure to many, so if all you see is LFR, you can’t treat that as your “progression wiping” that regular raiders experience.

As an experiment, I got my OTHER druid in Waypoint, Rosavin to 90. She is Cynwise and Valys’ pocket healer on the Battleground, and locked at 87 for most of MoP. We all finally unlocked and worked up to 90. Rosa had a full set of Timeless treats waiting for her. She had her 450 weapon and offhand.

I went into LFR ToT with her. I qualified for SoO, but deferred. Even in ToT, I could tell the difference. The Timeless gear is very good, don’t get me wrong. However, it’s not going to allow you to do whatever you want right away.

The problem is, a lot of people don’t think that way. So, they get their Timeless gear for their alt, or offspec, pop in and think they can just will their way through. They aren’t necessarily bad players, but they maybe overestimate their gear against what they think they can do.

So, the wipes pile up. People hate LFR even more. The Timeless Isle floats on, caring not for anything around it. The mailbox gets more and more full.

When entering a LFR with a newly Timelessed character, I think the best thing people need to remember is the words of many a Pandaren: “Slow down.”

Battlefield: Tank

A quick story to begin:

Vastant unsteadily sat on a bar stool in the Slaughtered Lamb. She liked going there in her well-earned gear. It contrasted from what she felt were the unsavory goings on in the tavern.

One drink became two, then three, then more. Suddenly, she looked up and said, “Did… did I ever tell you how I learned  how to tank?”

Jarel Moor rolled his eyes. “Here we go,” he thought to himself. He glanced about the bar, seeing only the drunken mage passed out in the back of the room. Jarel sighed, then leaned on the bar with his elbow, resting his head in his palm.

Vastant leaned forward, as if she was sharing a deep secret. “I learned by being on the … hic … battlefield.”

Jarel shrugged. “That’s what I’d expect from a warrior like yourself; fighting the Horde, spilling blood.”

“Not as a warrior, you fool.” She started to slur her speech more. “I learned by healing… yesh, you should’ve seen me.”

Jarel arched his eyebrow. “But… you have no way with the healing arts, quit talking like an…”

Vastant swung her glass suddenly, knocking her hand into her shield, which clattered on the ground loudly. She didn’t notice the commotion. “‘course not… I was a druid. Green and flowers and all that damn stuff. Well, I’ll tell you one time…”

Jarel had about enough. “Just shut up, you’re not a druid!” He began to turn away from her. She spun him back around, and looked at his with half-closed eyes.

“Well, not as a warrior, yeah. Druids are shape…shifters. They can be all kinds of things, like bears and cats and…”

As she held him by his tunic, she wobbled and slumped back in her chair. Her head fell with a clunk on the bar. Jarel shook his head, looked at the pile of gold and silver, and deftly took the pile as a tidy tip.

My main problem with being a tank is that I find myself looking at everything going on, and being overwhelmed. As a healer, all I really focus on is my little space on the screen where my raid frames live. All I need to do when I’m running around healing is keep the boxes full and stay out of bad stuff.

When I’m a tank, I have to pay attention to where mobs are, where to stand and all of my attacks and cooldowns. This works out well if I’m encountering the pulls as I expect them, but when things go bad, then I feel like I’m in a Benny Hill skit where I’m being chased from all directions, with “Yakety Sax” playing in the background. Only thing is, there are no scantily clad women chasing me.

Dimoniet Outlands

Oh Outland, and your conservative looking gear. *facepalm*

When I have chaotic pulls, even if I am able to save things and not wipe, I still am so stressed out and anxious that I typically take a break from tanking for a few days or years.

This is why I felt that if I really wanted to challenge myself during Waypoint’s Herald of the Titans project, I saw this as a way to up the ante. Not only could I get a great achievement, but exorcise some demons along the way.

Only thing is, I still was a bit shaky in dungeons. It still didn’t totally click with me, and many times it was more because of my set of BoA gear that would carry the day.

Moving away from Vastant for a moment, I’ve had a similar feeling to tanking as I did PvP. Whenever I’d try arena, or get involved with a scrum in a battleground, there was so much going on. I’d get flustered, forget what I was doing, and I’d be stressed out and discouraged.

One day, Cynwise asked in guild chat if anyone would be interested in doing some Arena. I had gotten to know him on Twitter, and he had moved Cynwise over to Waypoint. I was always in awe of his posts on PvP, but my PvP ineptitude always got in the way of my wish to jump in the arena.

On this day, I decided to give it a try. “Sure,” I said, marveling at how cool this was. I warned that I wasn’t very good, but he assured me that the main thing was to have fun.

Our first few 2s arena battles were me flailing about, and still being nervous and overwhelmed. Cyn was great, and he’s super calm and patient. He advised me to just relax, and let the fight come to me. Slow down. He was the original Panda Hipster.

So, I’d relax. Soon, I was finding I was able to pay attention to the entire fight. I was able to use all of my abilities, because I allowed myself room to think. We’d have fun. There were some epic battles we had. Half an hour fights that were so fun, but so tiring. I was having a blast at PvP, and I was getting good at it!

This brings me back to Vastant, sitting in the dungeon. A lightbulb went over my head, I yelled “EUREKA!” and ran out of my bathtub naked. Wait, no…

I realized that if I allowed the fight to come to me, to slow things down, I could control the chaos. I could be comfortable with the fight. So, I was thoughtful about how I set up my keybinds, I wrote some macros. I let the fight come to me.

I started kicking some serious ass as a tank. I was having fun being a tank. I smile when I think that I learned how to tank by learning how to PvP heal on my Resto Druid. Learning is weird.

Pocket Healer

NOTE: I wrote this on Tumblr, but it was lost to the scrolling monster. This is a little piece I felt like writing. Cynwise and I are a great team, so I just wanted to flesh it out a bit.

———-

I was running through the open field, sprinting towards the base. Suddenly, I see a red banner running towards me.

“Help me!” the desperate rogue gasped.

I grunted, spun and followed him, healing him while he was surrounded by enemies. Suddenly, he burst forward, and I was temporarily stuck.

“You fool! Stay near me!” I growl.

I see orcs, blood elves and who knows what else pounce upon him. I streak forward, only to hear him gasp his last breath. My mouth curls in a grim smile, my teeth gleaming.

“Sorry, m’boy. Allow me to get back to my business at hand.”

I spring forward, darting through the fog of war. Blades slice at me, I feel the burn of magic upon my body. I grimace, and pour healing energy into myself. The more they attack, the more I enjoy it, I’ve found.

I peer up, and there she is, 30 yards away, if it was a foot. She was running about, casting spells as carefree as a gnome in a junkyard. I leap forward, sensing that she is weakening. I quickly heal her, and she glances my direction.

“How was your tea and cookies, m’lady?” She clicked her tongue.

“Shush, you. I was trying to save a fool from an early grave. He was too thick to realize it, so here I am.” I feel the heat of a blast of fire upon my fur, and I cringe. “Bloody hell, get them off of me!”

“I will do that, just as soon as I am finished making smoke monsters in the sky,” she said in a calm tone. She then laughed, and suddenly my attacker falls in a tremendous burst of fire.

There is a brief moment of calm, and we survey the room. It’s a dreary place, still smoldering from Cyn’s antics. I sniff.

“Would you stop that damnable sniffing?” she said.

I start to sniff again, but then stop, being aware of who I am. I look down for a moment, but then chuckle.

We sit in silence a few moments, when suddenly, we are surrounded by the enemy. We stand back-to-back, and nod. Suddenly, we unleash an attack, and the enemy is attacking us with all of their powers. I think to myself that this may be the time we won’t make it, but I push that aside as I feel the comforting sting of a sword slicing at my leathers.

I spin around and deeply curtsey. “A dance, guv?”

The orc Death Knight roars, and attacks. I dance away from him, making sure I do not stray to far from my partner. I continue to keep my and her strength up while the orc furiously attacks me. His compatriots join in the fight, I hear something that does not sound very polite, and it makes me laugh out loud.

I continue dancing, and watching as Cyn continues to pummel our dance partners. I’m jumping, biting, casting spells and annoying everyone. Well, everyone but Cyn and myself.

I get into a frenzy of attacking and healing, that I suddenly look about for an attacker, but I find the room silent. We stand amongst the fallen, and we smile a tired smile. The battle has been won.

We’re sitting in the common room in Sliverwing Hold, having a well-earned drink.

“That was quite a scrap just before, you’re lucky I was there to save you from those horrible, smelly Horde,” I say. I grin at Cyn, exposing my sharp teeth, still stained with the blood of the enemy.

“You are disgusting at times,” Cyn said, wrinkling her nose. “Ain’t anything going to die without me around, mind you.”

I laugh. “You can’t deny me a little bite now and then. It’s only for the best reasons.”

The clarion call goes out. I hoist myself up, look over my leather, all nicked and stained. I grin.

“Let’s get back to work, my friend.”

We step out onto the battlefield.

RNB, resurrected? (I hope)

At the end of last week, I was messaged by Rilandune on Twitter and asked if I’d like to be a guest on The Twisted Nether Blogcast.

My first response was, “Sure, but why would you want to talk to me?”

After he talked me down for a bit, I figured that it didn’t hurt to sit down and yak it up with Fimlys and Hydra about social media and my extensive blog resume.

The discussion did get to the blog, and we had a discussion why I haven’t written more. My reasoning is that I felt I didn’t have the time. I didn’t want to put out a bad product. Great reasons. Right? Right?!

It was a great talk, and afterwards, as I was winding down from the excitement, I had a lightbulb go off over my head. I promptly turned it off, because do you think my house is made of electricity? Sheesh!

The thought I had really came from when I was talking about my blog name. Fimlys was mentioning the diary part was a logical thing, and that was it! I realized I was approaching my writing all wrong.

I don’t need to write super-long posts. In the interview, they said I was really good using the 140 character limit. I didn’t deny it. I am HILARIOUS.

However, why not apply that concept to here? I may have a seed of an idea, so why not jot it down here.

So, I hope to pop in here, write an entry, and go about my day. Sometimes, it’ll be about me being a noob. All right, most of the time it will be about me being a noob.

… So, hey, what about that rez? WHAT? WALK BACK? Fine. *stomps*

No, really. This time I mean it!

The same thing happens every tier I’ve raided.

I find myself saying things in raid chat like, “Sure, if no one needs that, I’ll take it for my Bear set.”

Laughter ensues, but the gear still goes to me. Abashed, I reply, “This time I mean it! I’m… I’m going to tank!”

A few months pass, and I inevitably find I’m having bank space issues. I survey my inventory and find the feral gear covered in dust. Ungemmed. Unenchanted. Unloved.

To the vendor they go, if they’re lucky. Some get the ignominious total deletion from the game. I console myself by thinking when I vendor something, it’ll reincarnate in the game in the future. It makes me feel better about being a wasteful slacker.

Honestly, I have intended to tank many times. I’ve rolled many alt druids with the sole intention of learning bear tanking. It lasts a little while, and they always end up Resto. I even have two Prot Pallies I’ve tried a few tanking excursions. It never clicked.

So, my guild wants to get a Herald of the Titans group together. If you’re not aware of this achievement, it’s defeating Algalon with the entire raid having gear obtainable from Ulduar 10 person modes (thus, iLevel 226 gear, 232 weapons) AND no member being above level 80.

A discussion began about who was choosing what, and our MT/RL Dee decided to bring her Bear into Ulduar and tank. At the time, we needed another tank or another healer.

I stated that I should bring my level 70 locked druid, Rosavin to 80, and I could tank.

“You mean HEAL, Rezz. Admit it!” Dee taunted.

I attempted to protest, but she was right. The temptation is too great to just slide into my healing robes and go tree-dancing. I can’t help it!

I decided that I had to choose a class that wouldn’t tempt me into sliding into a healing role. I had to get this monkey off my back. So, no druids, paladins…

This left me to choose between a DK and a Warrior. If I had to level another DK in the starting area, it’d be too soon. So, the Warrior wins!

I started to create my new hero. I imagined the best things of a warrior. The toughness. The determination. The resolve. The pigtails! Wait, pigtails? I’m on a roll, so I’ll let that pass. This time, I mean it!

I will be a raid tank!

With that, Vastant was born:

The pigtails give me +10 Adorable.

Vastant is a Latin variant of “Devastate”.

 

What? Don’t let the pigtails or freckles fool you. Vastant will crush you, and still be adorable.

Now that I’ve made the introductions, time to discuss the project. My goal is to level her strictly as Prot to 80. I will learn to effectively tank with minimal flailing (trust me, with recording all flailing here for humor generation). I will not avoid running dungeons because no one I know can run with me.

I will become good enough to earn the title:

VASTANT, HERALD OF THE TITANS.

YOU HEARD ME, ALGALON!

Algalon, I am coming for *you*!

… I hope.

On a side note, I’m working on this real cool “Bandage Spec” that I think can do wonders. Yep!

BANDAGE ALL THE THINGS!

To be continued…

The Bread of Life

Image

These are my best creation, Buttery Almond Bear Claws.

I love cooking. More specifically, I love to bake more than anything. I’ve never really given it much thought to why I love baking so much, aside from the reason I’ve become quite good at it.

I was making a batch of bread for my family today. I’ve gotten into the habit of baking a lot on the weekend, so we have things over the week. Plus, it’s a nice way to relax.

I was sitting there, listening to music, and gazing at my mixing bowl. All that was in it was yeast, sugar and water. It had fully proofed, with a beautiful light brown foam of yeast and carbon dioxide taking over the bottom of the bowl. I suddenly had an epiphany. In one thought, I finally really came to grips with my love of baking, and why I love healing as a Druid so much.

Image

Yes, I'm a cookie AND mana monster.

As I looked upon my proofing yeast, I realized that for me, the thing that defines me as a resto Druid is Lifebloom.

Lifebloom has gone through quite a few changes in how it’s used since being introduced. The way I’m using it now is really my favorite application since I’ve been healing.

I see the spell and yeast dough as the same thing. It’s a gradual growth, only to have a large expansion at the end. In my view, druid healing is very similar to baking bread in general.

In both cases, you develop a feel for what is right, and have the confidence that your skills will result in a positive result. With baking, making sure you’ve proofed the yeast properly, and kneaded the bread to the right consistency goes a long way to how good of a loaf you bake.

With resto healing, it’s how you apply your HoTs, and how you have the confidence of your strategy that you will do your job in a fight.

I also have said the same thing about both baking and resto healing, “It’s really easy, once you get the feel for it.”

Now I must go tend to my bread. Like resto healing, bread still requires attention and love to make it the best that you can.

Status

Coming soon…

After a long break, I have some posts percolating that I’d like to share. Hopefully, soon!