Blizzcon and the longer way home

Posted November 22, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Beyond WoW

Tags: , , , , ,

Now that everyone has forgotten about Blizzcon, I’m finally home with some time to write about it.

When I booked my vacation 6 months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to put Blizzcon in the middle, so I could participate in anything happening before or after. I didn’t expect to be flying East to New Jersey, then West to Anaheim, then East to New Orleans, then West home again. But it was worth it! And I did get to read a lot while in planes. I haven’t had time to read in so long, I was surprised I still remembered how.

Blizzcon was both a blast and a blur. I ran from panel to panel, from party to party, in hopes of seeing everyone and everything. During my past Blizzcons, I was all “COMMUNITY COMMUNITY COMMUNITY!”. This year, I barely socialized and spent most of my time enjoying the company of my guildies (of past and present).

I also stressed out a lot about the hotel. Like a lot! For the 4 months leading up to Blizzcon, my stomach was a knot and anyone who spent more than 5 minutes with me got an earful about how I was afraid the hotel would rip me off and about how I might disappoint my roommates and and and! To all of you, I am sorry! And I am pleased to say that everything worked out and no one got ripped off and my roommates were lovely and seemed happy.

It’s probably a surprise to those who know me only a little bit because my reputation as a carefree traveler precedes me, but the truth is, I stress just as much as the next person. Perhaps more. It takes me forever to make bookings, if I slip and make a mistake, it’s a tragedy, I spent a lot of time at night awake thinking about the things that could go wrong. And I don’t travel well at all. Flying makes my IQ plummet, screws up my sleep-wake cycle and makes me weepy and confused. But I do it anyway. Traveling is hard, it’s really really hard, but the payoff is worth it.

Anyway, I flew home Friday, in hopes of having a day off between then and going back to work on Sunday, but sadly, Alberta has been plagued with snowstorms and, consequently, sheer ice roads. I stayed with Fannon overnight, and spent all day Saturday driving home. Quite the harrowing experience, but I did make it back safely!

Blizzcon

There were, um, a lot of panels. I watched most of the WoW ones, which were interesting. I was happy to see how seriously they were taking the movie. I have hope that we’ll finally see a decent movie come from a video game. The new expansion is a little…well, we’ll see how it plays out. I don’t feel strongly about it because I don’t feel strong about WoW news until it hits me in the face and because it’s highly unlikely I’ll be playing with any seriousness in the next expansion.

I tried the demo. It was kinda fun. I was pleased until someone asked me what I thought of the new paladin abilities. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t even do the demo with a paladin. I just picked whatever happened to be highlighted on my screen, which ended up being a warlock. I’m such a bad blogger. (I also accidentally turned off the computer after I finished the demo, causing a lot of annoyance to the staff on site. I’m such a bad tester. I’m a bad warlock too. I spent more time running to my corpse then actually playing.)

Speaking of not playing the next expansion, my little heart broke a bit every time I’d excitedly start a sentence with “Next year/expansion/Blizzcon” only to remember that I have bigger plans in motion. I’m super excited about spending a year overseas, discovering a different world, but it’s harder than I expected to not see myself playing this game. It’s been so central in my life for the past 8 years. But it is time to move on. There’s a big world out there, and after that, I would like a family. There are also lots of lessons I’d like to take, other hobbies I’d like to experiment with and other work opportunities I’d like to explore, but that I haven’t been able to because the rare evenings I’m off work are tied up with raiding. Plus, I feel like my health is wavering. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t start moaning about how sleepy I was 2 hours into raid. And I raid super early. Until now, I wrote it off to spending up to 16 hours a day at work without so much as a pee break, but even on vacation, even after I was rested, I couldn’t do anything for more than a few hours at a time without sleep attacks. As my life becomes more and more of a struggle to stay awake, it seems like raiding probably isn’t the ideal after-work activity for me.

On the Blizzcon people side of things, despite my apprehensions, I absolutely loved my roommates (Anafielle, Kalesti and Ellumina). They were all so different and it was a pleasure to get to know each of them and hear their unique perspectives on WoW, on WoW players and on the convention. I also came across Elfie, Vidyala and Vosskah (I kept running into them everywhere…there’s a force that brings Alberta gamers together, I think!), Hestiah (who is so nice! She waited with me when I forgot to print my ticket confirmation and helped me find my friends when I got lost!), Jasyla, Rhidach and others that I don’t remember because OMG SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE IN SO LITTLE TIME!

One of the highlights of the convention was the pally meetup (I think it was planned/promoted by Theck and Anafielle, thanks guys! You rock!). I wasn’t sure if holy pallies were invited, but I showed up anyway because I do that. I ended up running into Megacode and some of his guildies and a few other holy pallies. Here’s a picture of me and Megacode (all good Blizzcon posts should contain pictures).

holypallies2

And, of course, the guildies, with whom I spent most of my time. Both the Conquest crew and the Cadenza crew were fantastic. To the point where I wonder what I must have done in past lives to deserve having such awesome people in my current life. These people are what make Blizzcon so much fun. I don’t have to worry if I say stupid stuff (worse case scenario, they’ll get a good laugh at my expense), I don’t have to worry about being awkward or too nerdy, and well, I just don’t have to worry. It’s a welcome break from the pressures of the non-WoW people world. And the jokes are funny, and the beer flows, and the hours get so so so short. Oh, and this year especially, the food was good. With Conquest, the official guild meetup was held at a fun brewery, and Cadenza’s meetup was at a japanese barbeque. Both times I ate until I was about to burst! The choice of restaurant for each guild was pretty appropriate because the two different styles really reflected each guild’s very different (but equally delicious) cultures.

Pre/Post Blizzcon

I find it funny that people seem surprised that things went really well between the boy and I. I don’t know if it’s the internet thing, or the distance things, or my fierce independence, but every time I say “It was awesome!”, I get a reaction of “Really?”. You’d think they’d know me by now. I never do things the way I’m supposed to, and that includes dating.

Anyway, I got to meet his parents (he gets to meet mine over Christmas). They’re quite traditional and from a different culture, and even though I was preemptively briefed on proper protocol and stuff, I still panicked a little during the initial gift exchange. (“OMG WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I SAY, I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME!!!”) They seemed ok with me, though, and they were very nice, despite the fact that I was absolutely terrified. (Perhaps, even, it may have been the first time in my life where my ridiculous and disproportionate shyness came in handy.)

We went to New York city for two days and I got to see my first musical on Broadway! (I have seen Rent in the past, with the Broadway cast, but it was in Toronto so it doesn’t count.) Rock of Ages was most excellent, and OMG THEIR VOICES! Even though I went in expecting the best of the best singers in the genre, I was still blown away by how beautiful and breathtaking their voices are. I have so much trouble believing that this music was coming out of real human beings.

Our hotel in New York, The Paramount on Times Square, was pretty cool too. I’d been warned that hotel rooms are tiny in New York, and yeah, it was pretty small. The little bed barely fit in the room and I barely fit in the bathtub. But the location was awesome (RIGHT ON TIMES SQUARE!), the smart use to storage space gave me ideas (I have picture of how the towels were stored behind the bathroom mirror. Brilliant! I want that in my house.) and the design fit the Broadway ambiance. Got a good deal on it too. Barely 100$ for a 4 star hotel on Times Square? YES PLEASE! (Just to give you an idea, even the 2 star hotels at worse locations we looked at were above 300$/night.)

And we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. I feel like all I did that trip was eat and sleep! We ate ramen (and I got an authentic New York experience of waiting an hour to get a table), Japanese buffet, Philly cheese steaks (we went all the way to Philly to get cheese steaks!), Italian pasta, Korean barbeque (where I met my guild/raid leader for the first time! He’s much less scary in person than online.), some Chinese homecooking (after all that restaurant food, it SO nice to eat some yummy homemade food!), Dim Sum and a few meals of Pho. I’m probably even forgetting something. After that leg of the trip, I think it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t sick and still didn’t feel like eating anymore.

After Blizzcon, we met up in New Orleans. Again, we ate a lot! I really enjoy cajun cooking so I led us from restaurant to restaurant until we were both worried about bursting. I made it to some live music at the Spotted Cat this time and we did the swamp tour, both things I regretted not doing last time I was in NOLA. We were really unlucky with the weather, though. It was so cold. Even for someone coming from Canada, it was freaking cold. As a result, we didn’t see much wildlife during the tour and I didn’t want to spend much time outside. We drank disappointingly very little alcohol because, seriously, who wants cold drinks when you’re freezing?

And that concludes the summery of my vacation

I got a lot of stuff done before I left on holidays and things have calmed down at work (most of my free time over the past three months was dedicated to writing this application for my work, hence the lack of WoW and pally-ing), so I finally have some time to myself. I actually sat on the couch this morning for, like, an hour. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I can seriously get used to this time to breath thing. So yeah, I’m hoping that this break from all the stress will help me write some more.

As for the next trip? Christmas at my parents house in Cape Breton. I can’t wait!

On Playing my Holy Paladin in 5.4

Posted October 6, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , , ,

Alright. It’s a been a couple of weeks since 5.4 and I’ve had time to experiment with our shiny new features. I promised everyone I’d sum up my observations, so here it goes.

Note that these are just observations, not hard science. Your experiences may vary, so if you have something to share or advice to give your fellow holy pallies (especially if you raid 10s!), please! There’s a section at the bottom of the post for comments. Everyone will love you if you type useful stuff in there and press the “send” button!

My Healing Environment

This patch seem especially sensitive to raiding styles and healing team makeups, so for context purposes, here’s what healing in my raids is like.

I mainly heal 25s. Unless I count the odd annoying flex raid boss that everyone drops group for, I don’t have any recent experience with 10s and can’t offer a whole lot of tried-tested-true advice. I would imagine that for flex/normal/early heroics, anything that applies to 25 could be used in 10s and keep people alive just fine, though I suspect that cutting edge 10s raiding would require different specifics for optimal results.

Cadenza usually runs with 4 to 6 healers depending on the fights. Our complete healing team consists of a druid, a shaman, two priests and two paladins (including me!). Our guild culture emphasises perfect mechanics execution over raw numbers so we’re not pressured to max out our HPS potential. I mean, we’re encouraged to have good throughput, but meter padding should never interfere with proper movement, task execution and CD usage. On a personal level, our shaman loves his numbers (really, really loves them – I swear the only times I’ve heard him talk about something other than healing numbers, it was about his offspec dps numbers. And he talks a lot.) and I suspect one of our priests takes his HPS seriously as well (but uses a more silent approach). So no matter what the rest of us do, those two will usually (but not always!) dominate on our meters.

My Eternal Flame Build

Bouchbaguette has done a lot of theorycrafting with results supporting Haste as the emerging secondary stat for Eternal Flame users. So before my first 5.4 raid, I reforged and regemmed to get my Haste on.

Then I hated it and hated the results. I got on Skype with my Holy Pally guildie and off to World of Logs we went.

World of Logs (and the Armory) revealed this trend (at the time) among the top HPS Eternal Flame Holy Pallies: Mastery > Intellect/Haste > Spirit.

Orly” I thought. I gave it a try.

I slowly replaced my spirit gems and enchants (slowly, so I could see how spirit dependent I was). To my surprise, I was able to stray completely away from spirit for most fights. (I recently picked up Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity to assist with mana heavy fights.) It probably helps that my ilvl is fairly high – I suggest that if you want to try eliminating spirit, you go slowly as well. Experiment until you discover your mana comfort zone.

My healing improved considerably and I’m pretty satisfied with where I am. My throughput varies from fight to fight and my place on the meters is sometimes skewed from the combination of shaman and priests having higher HPS potential and of our shaman and priest actually caring about raw numbers performances, but I’m comfortable in my ability to keep the raid alive.

I spent a few hours on World of Logs and the Armory today to see what the current top HPS 25s Holy Paladins are doing. Interestingly, no two paladins are gemming exactly the same. Some go all out Mastery like me, some do a little Haste then go Mastery, some use the traditional Intellect/Spirit build and some are so inconsistent in their stat prioritization that I have no idea how they manage to heal at all. Prioritizing Haste beyond around 16% unbuffed, however, does not seem to be conducive to high HPS performance, at least not on 25s.

Spell choice-wise, I’ve been blanketing the raid with 1-Holy Power Eternal Flames, using Holy Shock and Holy Radiance, with constant use of CDs (Holy Avenger, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath – I also try to use Hand of Sacrifice whenever it’s available). When I want to and time it right, I could almost have one CD active at all times.

I compared my results with Holy Paladins who were performing better than I was, and it seems they were more inclined to use 2-Holy Power Eternal Flames (maximizing their use of Holy Radiance and Holy Shock), but it’s hard to say. It seems that each fight had different top Holy Paladins. And no matter what, on the overall meters, for all 25s fights, Holy Paladins rarely overtake the other classes in raw HPS.

My usual glyphs: Glyph of Sacrifice, Glyph of Beacon of Light, Glyph of Divinity
My usual talents: Speed of Light, Fist of Justice, Eternal Flame, Clemency, Holy Avenger, Light’s Hammer
My gems: Artful (Int/Mastery – Red), Zen (Mastery/Spirit – Blue), Fractured (Mastery – Yellow)

Acorn’s Selfless Healer

My copally has always hated Eternal Flame blanketing and jumped at the opportunity to do something different. This was very convenient to me, since it gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with both styles and compare them.

I obviously have less experience with Selfless Healer, though, but here’s what I’ve picked up from watching my copally and reviewing lotsa lotsa logs with him.

1- Haste is the way to go. Intellect too I think. Spirit holds you back. Even if you have a low ilvl, you don’t need spirit.

2- Spell usage is along the lines of Judgement-Holy Radiance-Light of Dawn (one or two Holy Power, not three), with Holy Shocks thrown in whenever possible.

3- You have CDs too. They’re meant to be used.

And contrarily to what many theorycrafters predicted, Selfless Healer is totally okay when it comes to throughput, at least on 25. The top ranking HPS 25s Holy Paladins are a good mix of Eternal Flame and Selfless Healer users, so if you want to get away from HoTs and try a fast-paced, super fun healing style but are afraid to try, rest assured that you’ll do just fine with Selfless Healer.

As for our own performances, Acorn and I, despite our very different healing styles are usually pretty close to each other on the meters, with him passing me on some fights and me passing him on some fights.

Conclusion

When choosing between Selfless Healer and Eternal Flame, I suggest basing your decision on whichever healing style makes you happiest. The two kinda call for different stat prioritization and gemming, so I would not recommend going back and forth between the two on a single raid week. (If you really, really, really want to, perhaps running with a strong Haste/Int build would be ideal, but you’d probably find Eternal Flame in Haste gear will drain your mana pretty fast.)

Sadly, I have no experience whatsoever with Sacred Shield, and have never come across it on World of Logs for 25s Holy Pallies and can’t offer any advice.

Other than that, um, I guess Siege of Orgrimmar is a pretty fun raid. Lots of fight variety. Lots of trash though. Less fun. Also very little Orgrimmar. And very little siege. Almost makes me want to tweet “Siege of Orgrimmar is neither a siege nor Orgrimmar. Discuss.”

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. Happy healing!

Still Running

Posted October 4, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Beyond WoW

Tags: , , , , ,

When I was a student, stressed and exhausted and constantly panicking at hectic paces and deadlines, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to be out of school and have a normal life.”

Then I got my first permanent job. After tired morning upon tired morning of looking at my dark sunken eyes in the mirror, and after night upon night of breathing exercises to regain control after a hard day, it dawned on me that the problem was me. Between being awfully slow (everything takes me hours and hours more than everyone else), being a perfectionist (not an efficient combination) and an insatiable need to TAKE ON ALL THE THINGS, it would seem I’m condemned to a life time of running. Running and never catching up.

I used to envy the unemployed, but the more I get to know myself, the more I think my life would be just as hectic, no matter what elements I took out of it.

All that to say that a few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Leetsauced Podcast to celebrate their 3rd podcasting anniversary. It took me this long to get back to the blog, but these are the codes you may be looking for:

Logan’s code: ZD-2LTBF

My code: QZXE-S5A6

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s normal. It seems the hosts were critted by real life even harder than I was and I believe they haven’t been able to upload the episode yet.

But, you know, keep an eye on their site and you might win something fun! (On top of the awesome privilege of hearing my naughty noodle talk.)

As usual, I super happy to get to hang out and goof off. We’ve all gone our separate ways since our Conquest shenanigans and it’s been too long. Too too long. While I think Vik and Evan (Hi-ya) are mostly retired from WoW, Logan and I still raid together in Cadenza, but it’s not the same.

Other things that happened while I was running

As I just hinted at, I’ve been raiding with Cadenza for about 8 months now and still haven’t gotten kicked out (and actually, while I seem to get in trouble far more than most everyone else, I do feel like I’m playing somewhat decently!). The raiding is fantastic. We raid 2 nights a week, the attitude is more casual than most of the casual guilds I’ve been in (Guild forums? What are guild forums? Reading strats? You can read strats?), but we kill stuff faster than the most progressives guilds I’ve been in. Which is unbelievable given the amount of time we waste.

I’ve been raiding Kurn’s Kick-Ass GM guide (since I have no plans of becoming a GM, I’ve been treating it like “Memoirs of a GM” – it reads very well like an autobiography) and the entire time I wonder what our GM would say about it given that Cadenza, on many points (though in fairness, not every point), is pretty much the opposite of Apotheosis.

I do struggle with our Fri-Sat schedule. I wish I had found this guild as a student in Newfoundland. Raiding 10:30pm-2:30am when I don’t have to get up the next morning would have been amazing. I would have done so much better in pharmacy school if I’d raided with Cadenza at the time (though I would have missed out on some really good Conquest friendships). As community worker in Alberta, though, it’s not as obvious. Nobody wants to work the Friday night shift, so I often have to miss raid to cover it. And real life stuff is always happening on Saturday nights. No matter how much I try to avoid the Evil Real Life, it just keeps chasing me around.

But anyway, I’ve been in the guild for 8 months and I have a cute story to share.

I was reading Theck’s post about world PvP on the Timeless Isle.

He’s right. He puts it so eloquently and describes a big picture complete with relevant data and images, but essentially there are two words: Tichondrius sucks. World PvP in itself isn’t the problem. I played plenty on Nerzhul and Eredar and had excellent experiences, better even than on PvE servers. But the faction imbalance (along with the Horde PvP celebrities who attract masses of gank-happy fans) sets Tichondrius apart. I don’t even do new content because there’s no point. No matter how much PvP gear you put on or how many friends you bring with you, you’ll do nothing but sit in the graveyard as a ghost all night.

Anyways. Sensing my frustration, my fellow holy paladin guildy, who has a lot of alts on a PvE server, added me to real ID and invited me to group whenever he saw me on. Normally I don’t group outside of raids. I play by myself, at my own pace, for my own fun, thank you very much. But Tichondrius (and low-level Nerzhul since it shares Tich’s CRZ) is so awful that I couldn’t turn him down. So night after night, he’d invite me to group and we’d chat. After a few weeks of this, I finally gave him the time of day.

He came to visit me last week and I’m going to visit him the week before Blizzcon. I guess you could kinda say we’ve dating or something for the past two months or so. Not sure where it will lead, but things seem to be going well. A little good to come out of Tichondrius’ awfulness.

In other news, work’s been rough as usual. With half of my staff away, the remainder of my staff injured and inventory coming up on Saturday, I did about 8 consecutive days of being on my feet from 8:30 am to 11:30pm (most pharmacists aren’t allowed to take breaks, so a 15 hour shift means 15 hours of having sore feet and of being super hungry, sleepy and dizzy – and the shittiest part is that I’m only allowed to be paid between 9 am and 9pm, meaning the rest is basically just volunteering at work). So I’ve been pretty cranky and I swear I’m fighting off some kinda of sinus infection (likely from being exposed to the mold in our building for so many hours).

I had my first day off yesterday and I ran off to Jasper for some therapeutic thin mountain air. I didn’t bring my camera, which I regretted – the snow covered mountains with mist hanging around them were beautiful when contrasted with the yellow late-fall tree. But here’s a photo of Jasper I took earlier this year for your own mountain-therapy needs.

Cal Expo Cape Breton Pyramid Outlook 036

Oh, and yes, I fully intend to write about playing a Holy Paladin in 5.4, though by the time I get around to it, we’ll probably be in 6.0.

The Much Needed Blogroll Update

Posted September 6, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paperwork

Tags: , , ,

I’ll link to you, I promise!

My most frequently broken promise ever. Many great blogs rise and fell before I finally updated my blogroll. I’M SORRY!

So this morning, I took a few hours to fix my side bar. I updated the World of Logs section. (I didn’t update the Paladinning section because my guide for Pandaria is so horribly outdated that I die of embarrassment every time I notice someone reading it.) And, of course, I did the highly anticipated (mostly by me) link roundup.

As usual, I disclaim that I don’t know every paladin blog on the internet. If your paladin blog or your friend’s paladin blog is missing, not only are you welcome to let me know, but I will also love you forever with my REAL HEART for pointing me toward awesome new reads. I’ve been pretty reclusive on the internet lately and am feeling out of touch, so please, don’t be shy to educate me.

Holy Paladins 4eva (and where you can go RIGHT NOW to read about us in 5.4)

The additions I should have made ages and ages ago are Paladiner and Intellect Plate. The Holy Paladin community had become quiet and complacent over the past year or so (funnily coinciding somewhat with Kurn‘s retirement…) and information became harder and harder to find.

Enter Paladiner and Lucydin.

Paladiner started off by introducing some much needed theorycrafting to the scene and contributing a number of boss guides. Most of his content is aimed at those looking to run heroic content, but even if you’re just starting out or sticking to LFR/normal modes, you should always have his blog in your reader for quick reference, should the need arise.

Lucydin (with the occasional help from her friends) at Intellect Plate, on the other hand, has a number of solid guides that will teach everyone, from beginners to veterans, a thing or two. Each guide is fairly comprehensive and, I imagine, takes a long time to write, so don’t expect updates several times a week. What you can expect, however, are regular interesting and well-written articles about holy paladins, raiding and more.

As for the most current 5.4 discussions (since you’re not likely to find any on this blog until 5.4 is an outdated topic), check out the results of Bouchbagette’s experiments at Full Spectrum Holy Pally. For some less numbery talk, Getsu has written his 5.4 thoughts over at his sanctuary. And if audio is more your thing, Megacode’s Healing Spec goes over our changes as well.

For once, most of our longstanding holy pally bloggers are still writing away (yay!) and I don’t think I had to delete anyone off the list. If you’re looking for a link to Kurn’s blog, I moved her to the “You Blog Enjoyment Guaranteed” section. Be sure to buy her kickass guild leader guide, even if you don’t plan on leading a guild anytime soon. Her insight, interesting thoughts and distinct writing style make her worth reading, no matter the topic.

And in MORE good news, I was happy to notice that Gryphonheart at The Lion Guard has been updating once in a while. Not so much about Holy Pallies, but all updates are good updates.

Other Paladins

As for the Others, most are still blogging along, though some new ret pally bloggers would be much appreciated. Light’s Fury has some good guides but nothing since 5.1 and Colin/Jack has quit raiding (/sad). Where are all the ret paladins?

New to the list is Arvash at The Crimson Hammer, who has been writing steadily for well over a year and who I’ve enjoyed in my feed reader (which gets updated far more often than my blogroll) for some time now. Arvash does a little bit of everything, but is primarily a tank (according to his about page). You too can follow his adventures by adding The Crimson Hammer to your blog reader.

Your Blog Enjoyment Guaranteed

This one is always tricky to update because I follow a ton of blogs, but don’t want to flood my already endless link section with even more links. I try to highlight blogs that are particularly original and accessible, but in the end, my reasons for adding a blog boil down to “BECAUSE I WANTED TO OKAAAYYYY?

This time around I added Katherinne’s The WoW is in The Details which is my favorite blog these days. She scouts out cool little things all over Azeroth and beyond and shares them for our (and probably Blizzard’s art team’s) enjoyment. She updates often so you can see new little tidbits of WoW almost every day.

I also added Navimie’s The Daily Frostwolf, a blog who’s updates I’ve come to look forward to. I’ve been out of touch with the blogging scene for awhile so I usually won’t find a blog until someone physically points me to one. There was a phase, awhile back, where my entire blogroll was posting about how they loved Navimie. “I should check out this Navimie person“, I thought. So I did. And I was impressed. I never thought I’d enjoy reading about someone else’s raids, achievements and friends, but she’s such a good writer that she could write about anything and make it interesting. By now, she certainly doesn’t need an introduction, but if you, like me, haven’t been following the Twisted Nether lately, her blog would be a good place to start reading again. (Her writing style, although very unique to her, reminds me a lot of Larisa’s from the Pink Pigtail Inn days, especially when she gets into deeper topics. I get nostalgic!)

The Godmother’s ALT:ernative is another selection from my Favorite’s folder. Her frequent posts are as varied as the characters she plays, with topics ranging from guild leadership to news to reflections to fictions, but always have at least two things in common: they are a pleasure to read and add some extra perspective on the game. An excellent addition to any WoW feed reader!(My apologies for missing this blog when I first published this post!)

Got suggestions? I want to have them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m in desperate need of new blogs to read. I’ll be happy to get my eyes on any kind of blog, but paladin blogs and thought-provoking blogs get a special kind of love. Comment me, email me or twitter me your links and help satisfy my cravings for new reading materials!

I Went All The Way to PAX and Came Back With Many Warm Fuzzies

Posted September 3, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Beyond WoW

Tags: , , , ,

Last Thursday, I found myself, all alone, at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac for intimate friends) fighting with a transit pass dispenser machine who wouldn’t take my Canadian credit card.

The stupid transit pass dispenser machine forced me to run all over the airport to track down a (ridiculously overcharging) ATM machine to get American money to put in the slot so a ticket will come out so I can take the train and get to PAX.

OMG PAX!

Transit pass dispenser machine suddenly forgotten.

Hi Seattle!

Hi Seattle!

I ended up at PAX almost by accident. I hadn’t seriously planned on going, but a friend and I were talking about it one night. The next day, mere HOURS later, someone mentioned on Facebook that PAX tickets were up for grabs. Not only was it RIGHT after our conversation, but I also happened to have the day off work and be within viscinity of a computer. “It must be a sign!” I exclaimed. Half jokingly, I queued.

2 hours later, I had tickets for Friday through Sunday.

My friend did not go to PAX.

It’s Not Too Dangerous To Go Alone

(Well deserved plug for Kenna of Geek Portland and the ladies of todays panel – which I wished I could have attended – on finding the courage to start your own projects in the gaming world.)

This was my second solo-convention. I have this friend on Facebook (We’re not exactly friends since we never talk. I mean NEVER talk. We were both at PAX. We did not talk. But she’s cool and geeky and fun so I like reading her.) who shares every article/post/paper ever written on women being mistreated at cons. I wouldn’t say it makes me nervous… I’m a badass paladin. I eat pervy little boys for breakfast. But, you know, it makes me…curious?

My first solo-convention was this year’s Calgary Expo and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I shrugged off the friendliness to being a Canadian convention. My second solo-convention was this PAX, which was not a Canadian convention. But it was also one of the best experiences in my life.

welcomehome

“Gamer culture” gets a lot of criticism (and, sadly, rightfully so), but the gamer culture at PAX was way closer to the first gamer culture I stumbled across over a decade ago, when the internet was young. A culture of “you’re not alone“, of “it’s okay to be yourself” and of “contrarily to what your parents tell you, video games do not rot your brain“.

I counted 6 panels on Gender Issues (plus two on Gaymers – three if you count Bioware’s unofficial panel), at least 3 on dealing with unsavory types (5 if you count the Community Management panels), one on Mental Health, and countless, COUNTLESS panels (and informal discussions!) on contributing at any level to the gaming industry and/or community.

Everywhere I went, there was no pushing, no fighting and a huge respect of personal space. (So much respect for personal space, OMG! At some panels, it was hard to tell where the line was!) All around me, I heard rich, interesting (and sometimes gently humourous) conversation. Sometimes I’d jump in. Me! Me who never talks to strangers! I had talk after talk with the most excellent, insightful and intriguing people. Honestly, I had no idea there was so much awesomeness in the world.

I’ll admit I was a little sad when I realized, after PAX, that a few people from Twitter met up, but it was my own fault for not asking around. But even at that, it’s not like I was deprived for social interaction!

PAX – There’s Gaming Here Too Right?

I’ll admit I didn’t try any games. I was too busy, running from panel to panel, dodging the (hugehugehuge) crowd, avoiding 10-nerd pileups (term borrowed from Calgary Expo 2013’s guidebook), working on my lifelong goal of LEARNING ALL THE THINGS.

I did, however, attend a few of Bioware’s panels on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and watched them play the game, which was amazing.

dragonage

DAI is coming out while I’m supposed to be on a cattle ranch in Australia with no computer/internet/free time, so I won’t be able to play it with everyone else, but I’m still excited. I’ve been drinking the news, line by line.

I love the attention to personal preference (seems like everything except Flemeth’s armour – panel inside joke -, for now, will be customizable, from character appearance to overall strategy to combat style), the size of the world (although it does mean that when I do get to play, I’ll have to book another year and a half off work so I can see everything) and that we can play Qunari. (Or Kossith, depending on how specific you like your terms.) While I’m probably a human (and mage) player through and through, I think having Qunari as a playable race will with be a big part of story depth. I absolutely love the Qunari. As a travel and anthropology lover, the Qunari and the culture shock surrounding them has done tons for my personal enjoyment.

On a sqeeing fangirl note, I got to meet Patrick Weekes (who wrote Garrus!!!!!) which was a huge highlight of my trip. (Also marked the first time I was actually able to say something to someone I really look up to.) I have to say that Bioware’s entire delegation was fantastic. They were warm, patient and kind, and it seemed like they were just as excited to be there as us fans were.

There were a few other games showcased that I wanted to try (hi SpyParty! I love you!) and the morning makeup sessions in the hostel bathroom with the excellent Phedran made me curious about Indie games. Indie games are, like, this entire world of gaming that I’ve always wanted to try, but I had no idea where to start. Now I think I will start with Rogue Legacy.

Has It Really Been 1000 Words Already?

I have to spare your eyes and stop writing, but, really, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of my time at PAX. I hope to find time to write again (famous last blog post words), but in either case, if you’re sitting at home feeling all sad and miserable about missing PAX… Know that you’re right. You really did miss out. /bigmeanie

On Epicness: A Personal Take

Posted July 29, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: General WoW, Internet Anthropology

Tags: , , , , , ,

Every week, A Paladin’s Tale does a Monday Morning Breakfast Topic. I really enjoyed their latest topic: “Why ‘epic’ no longer means epic, & what the WoW Dev team could do to resolve the issue to bring back some meaning to gear.

I find this general fixation on loot/gear to be a fascinating phenomenon, mainly because it kinda goes over my practical, practical head. Kurn also recently wrote about how loot has lost its value (and when someone who doesn’t even play the game is writing long dissertations on a topic, you know it’s a good a topic), which triggered a reaction from me.

Here is my confused interpretation of our conversation:

Me: But gear matters! It took my guild months to get our first heroic Horridon kill! Now that we have gear, he just falls over. Gear still makes a difference.
Kurn: It does matter for killing things, but with upgrades and resets every patch, gear in itself doesn’t matter.
Me: THAT MAKES NO SENSE!

What is “Epic”?

I vaguely remember in Vanilla, I’d sometimes find myself in trouble and some level 60 would stop and help me. Sometimes they would have purples. I would draw the following conclusions:

- They have a lot of time to play the game (it took me over a year to reach max level the first time).
– They have a lot of friends.
– They got lucky with the RNG.

Then I would thank them, be on my way and totally forget about the encounter.

Apparently that is the wrong reaction. The correct reaction should have supposedly been awe. But I don’t understand why I should be awed by someone who plays a lot of video games, has friends and is lucky.

I am awed by people sometimes. People with strong personalities. People who are much smarter than me. People who work hard and don’t give up. But I can’t draw any connections between those traits and having fancy WoW gear.

A Paladin’s Tale argues that LFR and crafting (and even normal mode raiding) should reward rare/blue gear instead of epic/purple (a side note on crafting, though, I find the higher level craftable gear a gazillion times harder to make than merely killing a heroic raid boss). Me, I really don’t care either way. Blue, purple, they’re just colours. What matters are the stats on them, how well those stats are used and how much those stats will assist me with a boss kill.

So, what is epic to me?

Facets of the game art, maybe. I mean, some gear pieces do look badass. (This is coming from someone who’s never transmogged anything in her WoW life, ha!) But the only things in game that feel really “epic” to me have very little, if nothing, to do with players: huge mysterious dungeons, creative bad guys (and gals), brave heroes, and beautiful details that you only notice when you stop and look around (check out Katherinne’s blog to see some of WoW’s cool details spotlighted)

In my mind, then, those worthy of my awe were never the best geared players, but rather WoW’s art, story and encounter design teams.

Motivation beyond gear

Conversation, circa the end of Dragon Soul, with a few interpretive liberties:

Healing lead: Do you need anything off Dragonwing?
Me: I thought we already killed the last boss this expansion.
Healing lead: Yeah, but do you still need anything off it?
Me: Why would I need anything? We already killed the boss.
Healing lead: You don’t make sense.
Me: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE.

An argument that A Paladin Tale brings up, and that comes up fairly often in other discussions around the topic, is that WoW centers around making your character as strong as possible and loot is kinda the only motivation toward that.

I suppose it shouldn’t have, but the idea of the game being strong-character centric actually surprised me. I’d never thought about it in that way before.

Originally, WoW for me was just an escape from reality and thinking. Tired of writing stupid papers for school? Go kill 10 wolves. With some music playing in the background. In my early raiding days, playing the game became a fun learning experience (I love learning. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. My goal in life to learn EVERYTHING.) and an activity to do with cool people. When I got more serious about raiding, the game became about teamwork and perfecting my WoW gaming skills.

If I make my character stronger, my end goal is never her strength. I want her strong so she can keep up with the team, I want her strong as a result of me discovering how to be a better player, I want her strong so we can see content faster. Without a team, without a kill and without learning experience, her strength is worthless. WORTHLESS.

While a lot of gamers cling to the outdated notion of “people are motivated by epic gear“, I personally think that Blizzard is frontward thinking by moving away from archaically using player hierarchy as the ultimate motivator. Concentrating on making the game intrinsically fun to play and investing in potential teamwork situations (also known as “fun things to do with friends and maybe strangers who aren’t annoying“) will make the game far more adapted to the kind of gamer we want to be around in MMOs.

Me and my gear

The other day, I was in a heroic. You know, just Denouncing my way to easy VP, when the hunter whispered me.

Hunter: Sick gear!
Me (very awkward): Thank you….
Hunter: Have you been raiding long?
Me (still very awkward): Kinda. I love to raid.

I love to raid. I wanted to insist on that. Love it, love it, love it. I find working on raid days very difficult because I’m so excited to get home and raid. The hours just crawl by. The gear… The gear is nothing. I don’t want people to look at my character and be all”OMG she has fancy ilvls!“. I’d far, far rather people look at me and say “Wow, she sure loves what she does.

Some nights are rough. Raids have me in tears pretty often (one of the many reasons I’ll never stream!) and I don’t mind. In the end, I think getting through those tough moments just makes the experience more rewarding.

I love feeling us learn a new fight, I love that satisfaction when we finally “get it right” but above all, I love the teamwork. Discovering who my teammates are as people, adapting to more…difficult personalities and, most of all, sharing ups and the downs with fellow gamers from all walks of life. It’s like magic.

And there’s no loot colour in the world that could be more epic to me than that.

Long, Long Awaited Challenge Modes

Posted July 23, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: General WoW, Paladinning Info, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , , ,

A couple of weeks ago, this happened:

goldrun

That’s a Challenge Dungeon (or is it Dungeon Challenge?) Gold Run in case you’re wondering. My very first one.

At this point in the expansion, it’s probably a small feat. But to me, the little achievement was loaded in meaning. This (not exaggerated or overly dramatic at all) meaning:

Like my buddy Saif (though perhaps not as extreme as Saif), my early expansion sucked.

Challenge modes are exactly the kind of extracurricular WoW activities I love: small groups, an easy setting to display personalities, a not too straining mental exercise (but a mental exercise nonetheless) and an opportunity to heal a little differently. Normally I’d be all over this.

But Occasional Excellence was blown up by its leaders long before I had any time to turn my attention to non-raiding aspects of the game. Then I didn’t spend enough time in Conquest for it to be appropriate for me be all “Hei guys, make room for me in your Challenge Mode groups!

I suppose I could have sought out groups on open raid or something but, remember, this is me we’re talking about. I don’t talk to strangers. You have to twist my arm to get me to talk to non-strangers.

Since I don’t care about status (I was born awesome, no WoW achievement can improve on that! /modesty) or rewards (there are rewards for Challenge modes, right?) playing with non guildies kind of defeats the point anyway. What makes these kind of outside-of-raid activities fun for me is the opportunity to get to know some guidies, a small (non-scary) number at a time. The presence of a goal makes it all that much easier: mood gets awkward and you don’t know what to say? No problem! Just kill more things!

So when my fellow holy pally (who’s become a recurring character on this blog, readers of my WoL posts may remember him as “Copally”) asked me if I’d be interested in doing Challenge Modes, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot and was so excited I couldn’t sleep for a few nights (it’s a tad embarrassing how small of an exaggeration that is). Before I knew it, there were 5 of us dodging horde gankers in front of Niuzao Temple’s Summoning stone.

The first lesson we learned was that no NPC can compete, in terms of difficulty and complexity, with the Scheduler Boss. Especially with a half Australian-half North American team. I swear we spent more time with our calenders and maps open, calculating time zones, than we did watching videos and practicing pulls.

On our exploratory run, we wiped about 5 times, had a disconnect, had someone go afk and did a lot of pulls wrong. We got Bronze. Reassuring to know that, even if you do terribly, terribly, terribly bad, you still get a pretty flashy achievement and some bonus valour points.

It took us a few extra nights (I kinda lost count…a lot of our attempts were pretty short due to most of the team having exciting and demanding lives calling them away from the computer after 45-50 minutes), but eventually we got Gold (see above screenshot) and set a new guild record.

OF COURSE, our guild’s more experienced and mostly mainspecced (unlike us) Challenge mode team went to Niuzao Temple the following week and pretty much one-shot a Gold run (I didn’t check if they shattered our hard-earned guild record, but knowing them, they probably did), but hey, WE HAD FUN AND ITS THE FUN THAT COUNTS.

Since then, we put about an hour into learning Stormstout Brewery. On our exploratory run, we wiped just before the last boss and still won Silver, which was promising, but the Scheduler Boss wiped us before we could make another decent attempt, and every night we’ve planned since then has also been ruined by the same Scheduler Boss. I don’t know how many Golds we’ll manage before everyone gives up. I’m patient and can try forever, but apparently not everyone is like that, so I treasure my little Niuzao Temple Gold IN MY HEART.

Healing Challenge Modes a Holy Paladin

At this point, I’m far, faaaaaar from being a reference, but I did learn a few things about healing Challenge Modes from our (few) attempts.

A huge mistake I was making at first was trying to heal the 5 mans as I would heal a raid. You know, the Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-Eternal Flame trinity.

That’s bad. BAD!

I got flashbacks to my days of -just-dinged-90-when-MoP-was-young Heroic grinding where Holy Radiance did….not much.

So I stopped using Holy Radiance and looked up my long-forgotten key-bindings for Flash of Light. It was a bit more mana intensive but it did the trick. I didn’t think to Glyph Flash of Light at the time, but I’ll definitely do that on our next attempt.

I didn’t have too many issues with mana, but I did find that if I could run with or ahead of our tank, I could plop down and drink as she was pulling and get a good wack of mana back before heal spamming was needed. Whenever I could, I’d squeeze in the Shado Pan trinket on-use mana back as well as Divine Plea. (Mid-pull, Divine Plea should probably be only use in case of emergency, but while running between pulls, it is, well, Divine.)

Stack of potions (instant Mana, Potion of Focus, Intellect Potions – called Potions of the Jade Serpent or something) are always handy too. On one of our Niuzao attempts, where I was furiously Denouncing the last boss, we were a mere second away from a Gold. ONE SECOND. Had I remembered to use an Intellect Potion, we wouldn’t have set a (short lived) guild record, but we would have gotten our achievement much, much sooner.

I squeezed in DPS where I could, but I discovered pretty quickly that whenever I stopped healing to do damage, our ret pally (who, remember, is my fellow Holy Pally in raids) would give into his healer instinct and stop DPSing to cover for me. Still, a little Denounce goes a long way. Holy Shock, Denounce and Holy Prism all do a respectable amount of Holy damage. The damage of Judgement and Crusader Strike is neglectable, and I’d rather use Flash of Light to build Holy Power, UNLESS there’s time to switch to Seal of Truth and DoT up a target (sometimes possible on boss fights). Just don’t forget to switch Seals back to Insight.

As for Holy Prism vs Light’s Hammer, it’s hard to say which is better. Light’s Hammer was delightfully waaaaay lower maintenance, but was mostly wasted since we never stay in the same spot for twenty seconds. Holy Prism does sexy damage to mobs, makes for a good instant heal when needed and has a sweet, little, better than nothing, AoE effect, but I found I wasted a lot of time keeping an eye on its CD and making sure I had the right thing targeted whenever I cast it.

Other than that, any kind of damage mitigation CD is lovely. Hand of Purity, Hand of Sacrifice, Devotion Aura…they just can’t come off CD fast enough!

Speaking of CDs, you can usually only fit one Lay on Hands in. I found it helpful to just ask our tank when she’d prefer me to use it (bar any emergencies) since when I used it whenever, it would often go to waste.

Gear-wise, I’m told the Legendary Meta and Tier set bonuses don’t work, and that the only things helping you deal with the gear scaling down are sockets. So don’t use your raiding helm and pick up as many pieces with extra sockets as possible.

And yeah, that’s pretty much all I can think of.

Wish me luck next week for our Scheduler Boss encounter!


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