A Last Unexpected Step

Posted June 5, 2014 by Ophelie
Categories: Guild actions, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , ,

Exactly 3 weeks after I wrote my last post, this happened:

garroshkill

It was the guild’s 3rd kill. I didn’t participate in the 200ish learning wipes. It was a 10s raid…

I didn’t expect much of an impact at the end, but, because the game (or is it life?) never ceases to surprise me, I was hit in the face by a huge wave of feels when those achievements made my screen shiny.

As I happily watched the achievements fade, my guildies asked if I was going to write a blog post about it.

I said yes.

So here is a blog post.

Pandaria and the Road to Heroic Garrosh

Looking back, the way to Heroic Garrosh felt like…like a journey. (I think I may have journeys on the brain these days.) The first tier of the expansion was annoying. My first guild, Occasional Excellence, fell apart (or was blown up by it’s leaders – however you want to look at it) and I ran back to my on-again-off-again love, Conquest. I didn’t click with the healing lead they had at the time (understatement of the century) so I was both elated and terrified when I got a chance to trial for Cadenza.

I was lucky that holy pallies looked pretty good on logs at the time. I died a lot. I mean, a lot. Heart of Fear was full of those twitchy movement fights that make me panic and run into no-nos. But, to my greatest relief, they let me stay. So I played with Cadenza for the rest of the expansion – almost a year and a half.

A year and a half! I’ve spent more time in Cadenza now then I have in any guild, save for Red Tear (my very, very first raiding guild). Where did the time go?

You Want Stories?

My time in Cadenza was relatively uneventful too, when you compare it to my past experiences. But…

If you want funny stories, I had a little bit of drama with a resto druid who went out of her way to top meters. And I mean out of her way. From chasing me around to murder me on Ji-Kun and, to a lesser extend, Twin Consorts (to this day, I get this icky sick feeling in my stomach when I get close to Ji-Kun), to flirting with the guild leader to get loot/LFR runs/other privileges (I didn’t pay enough attention to see how well that worked out for her), to making us wait while she hearthed out to gem/reforge EVERY piece of gear she won, to life gripping melee who bothered her away from bosses. After the Ji-Kun thing, I got my revenge by dispelling her on Primordius when she’d steal puddles from the DPS. I got in trouble for it (because she was deranged enough to complain even though she was breaking the rules) and was super embarrassed at how I’d sunk to such childish levels. In retrospect, and now that I’m more comfortable in the guild, I find the whole thing pretty amusing and love telling the story.

If you want sappy stories, my copally and I started talking about pally stuff one night. Which led to conversations about Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and other games. Which led to us to attempting challenge modes together with some other guildies. Which led to him inviting me to group on one of his PvE-server alts to phase me whenever I logged in (Tichondrius is a horrible, horrible place when you can’t defend yourself). Which eventually led to us thinking “where have you been all my life?” We’ve been officially together for almost a year now and still going strong. He’s even coming with me for the South East Asia portion of the Epic Journey. Past experiences had made me think that I couldn’t handle long distance relationships, but it’s been surprisingly easy. I guess what they say is true- it’s all about meeting the right person.

If you want meeting-guildies IRL stories – I did meet quite a few of my Cadenza guildies. I’d already met Logan, of course, from our Conquest days. But at Blizzcon, I got to hang out with him, Kith, Theck, Arg, Finwe, Kerrine (and ALL of them AT THE SAME TIME). Given how quiet and not friendly I am in guild, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with them. They all felt like people I’d be friends with if I were around them IRL, even if we didn’t all play the same video game. In April, the boy (we can call him Ed now) and I made another trip to California to meet Loriey and Twilightfang, then Cup and Chuggy, two other guild couples. Just like us, both couples had one American partner and one international partner so it was fun to share meeting stories and getting stuck at customs stories (poor Cup). (For a guild that rarely has girls – I was the only raiding girl in the guild for a big portion of my time there – we sure have a lot of couples.) We also got to hang out with Arg, Finwe and Corv throughout the week and, again, I felt like we’d been offline friends all our lives. When Ed and I went back to New Jersey, we hung out with Kith and Sang (though not both of them at the same), and again, super good times that ended way too soon. (Sang, however, probably had little idea who I was, having quit the game a few weeks after I joined but I’d heard so much about him that I begged Ed to introduce me.)

Back to Heroic Garrosh

When a lot of our team gave up and we resized to 10s, I figured my time was over. (My raid leader would probably scold me for having “no faith”.) But eventually, the main team killed it and I was offered a chance at my title.

I hadn’t played my pally in weeks. My keybinding were so far in my mind that during our re-clear, I once Bopped our tank instead of Saccing him (you know, old skool Rykga style). That whole re-clear was painful and scary. We spend hours trying to kill Spoils. I felt like it was all my fault since they did fine in past weeks when I wasn’t there. Some wipes were obviously my fault, like when I didn’t notice Seal of Insight wasn’t up, or when my power went out mid-fight, or when I made a wrong turn and ran right into bombs. I attributed the other wipes to my bad luck aura.

Eventually, late into our second night, we reached Heroic Garrosh. I think the last time I was that nervous before a fight was early in my Cadenza trial. My raid leader had gone over the strat (we use a 1 healer, 1 tank strat) and my cooldown timing with me earlier. I chose a Selfless Healer style (which, by the way, worked out really good for most of the fight), which I’m less comfortable with (WTF is judgement?) but that I eased into as the night went on.

Then it was classic Cadenza “push until your brain shuts down and then just keep going until your hands know the fight”. (It’s embarrassing to explain sometimes – at one point around 1 am, my raid leader called for a Devo Aura in a couple of seconds. As soon as I heard “Rykga” and “Devo Aura”, my finger just landed on the button. When I got scolded afterward, I was thinking “how do I explain the accident happened due to a post-brainshutdown response?)

I’d had a pretty long day (a pretty long week, actually), didn’t have a chance to eat between work and raid, and, unlike the rest of the guild, I didn’t have 200+ wipes under my belt. So I made mistakes. Most of the mistakes were execution (the actual healing and cooldown use was easier than you’d expect) although not having Selfless Healer quite mastered caused a few not-so-fun moments. The raid seemed to play good-cop-bad-cop with me – I’d get scolded by the raid leader and the rest of the raid would whisper me encouragements (this is how awesome my guildies are – my eyes get all prickly when think about it). And because I’m always a big nervewreck, and my level of nervewreckness skyrockets when I’m tired and hungry, my self talk was along the lines of “all these people are here to help you get this kill and you’re letting them down. If we don’t kill Garrosh, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT AND THEY WILL ALL HATE YOU FOREVER

When I finally crawled into bed after raid, I bawled like a baby for hours.

The Final Go

We were back again the next day. I pulled our healing lead aside for some pointers and pep talk before raid (he’d healed all the previous kills, so he knows.)

This time I was slightly better rested and slightly less hungry (I never seem to have time to eat and sleep these days. My clothes are getting baggy – there’s nothing like the “being worked to death” diet for one’s figure.) All the brainless wipes had also reinforced muscle memory. (Actually, one thing I discovered while raiding with Cadenza is that if you keep going when you’re exhausted and can’t handle it anymore, you might not perform well, but you learn. You learn very, very well.)

I was ready.

It still took awhile to get the kill, but most of the wipes had little, if anything, to do with me. I was determined and confident.

We started off the night wiping in the first phase. Then we wiped in Jade Temple. Then we wiped during the Whirl phase. Then we wiped during Empowered phase. Then, FINALLY, we made it to the last phase.

And then Heroic Garrosh died and I had one of those moments.

I spent the rest of the night celebrating with the guild in Vent. It was one the best evenings I’d spend with them. Usually raid ends late and I have to work the next day so I can’t stay and socialize. With the exception of those who I’ve met IRL, I barely knew my guildies at all. It was such a good time – they seemed genuinely happy for me and I was riding the high from the kill.

It felt more like a beginning than an end. Which is heartbreaking since the Epic Journey starts in August. I’m also not sure how much raiding I’ll get to do with them in July (we ARE started 25s again on June 27. I’m not sure if there are spots open but anyone who’s still reading and are thinking they might be interested in joining Cadenza, check with Agwyne, our guild and raid leader, on Tichondrius) since I work during a portion of raid time. But, for an ending, it’s certainly a happy one and I’ll think back on the past year and a half (and the last, what, 8? years of raiding) whenever I need some positive thoughts.

My mom and my non-gaming friends always ask me if I think I’d ever regret all the hours I spent on WoW.

The answer is “never“.

Rykga, Hellscream's Downfall says hi

Rykga, Hellscream’s Downfall says hi

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This is how a WoW Raiding Career Ends

Posted May 10, 2014 by Ophelie
Categories: Teh paladin

Since the Epic Journey became official, I pictured my WoW raiding career ending with a euphoric heroic expansion-end boss kill. My imagination conjured cheering, a few tears and massive mental hugs given to those guildies I get along best with.

Nothing goes as planned, though, and it seems my WoW raiding career ended a few weeks ago. It was the most anticlimactic moment ever, with a half-full 25 man group and a lot of sitting around.

Since then, I’ve been doing LFR on my mage to gear up for challenge modes.

Attendance had been too much of a problem lately. You’d think everyone would be pushing everyone else to get their heroic 25 Garrosh kill, but I guess the slow progression through Siegecrafter and Paragons burned out a lot of our team. The raid was fed up before the Garrosh wipes even started.

I may have contributed to the attendance problem a bit myself, with my late-late work hours and my constantly being on the road.

The decision was made to get the kill on 10 for everyone who wants it. So our A team has been in there, night after night, wiping for a good cause. I’ve been tracking their progress and I suspect whatever bitter taste I have in my mouth is from habit only. There was a time where I’d rage till I turned blue about being left out.

These days, I feel almost….relieved

Paladins have been so frustratingly weak in 25s this tier, at least compared to the disc priests and the shaman I play with, that my confidence has been squished to nothing. Plus, more importantly, I think, with my work days often extending from 9 am until 11pm/midnight and my days off consumed with either travel or housework, and the very ends of my evenings dedicated to a boyfriend who likes to not be neglected, I find that during raid time, I’m more inclined to pass out on my keyboard than participate actively.

The past few months, I’ve been in tears, ranting about how much I miss being able to enjoy raid. How much I miss looking forward to raid all week, how much I miss blogging about it every second day. Now here I am, in the kind of guild I’ve been aiming for since getting hooked on raiding and all I want to do is sleep.

So that’s how this WoW raiding career ended: with a beloved class getting destroyed, a burned out raid team, and most significantly, an offline life that slowly consumed what few hours I had to myself to play video games.

It'll be dark for awhile.

It’ll be dark for awhile.

If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the couch, under a blanket, savoring my limited minutes of self-indulgence.

10 Things I’ve Been Doing While Not Blogging

Posted March 9, 2014 by Ophelie
Categories: Beyond WoW

Tags: , , , ,

That’s right, it’s time for a quarterly blog update!

Since all my posts for, like, the past three years or something have basically been “why I’m not writing”, I figured this time I’d give it a fun twist and share my exciting adventures Cosmo-style!

1- Visiting Nelson, BC

I had booked my January vacation time a looooooong time ago with plans to bike around Samoa. Sometime after then, I met the boy and we decided to go to Taiwan instead. After some thought, though, we decided that we should save for our Epic Journey next year and keep it simple. So he flew out out here, we hopped in my car and drove across the provincial border to visit my middle brother who lives in a settlement called Nelson.

Given Nelson‘s reputation as a hippy town, I was kind of expecting a collection of tents. To my surprise, Nelson is a full sized city with a busy downtown, lots to do and a ton of personality. We were there for about three days. In that time we visited some parks, toured a museum, ate delicious, delicious food (the best thing about BC, I think, is that it’s one of the few places in Canada where you can eat veggies that taste like something, EVEN IN WINTER!!!), skiied at Whitewater, learned to cross country ski at the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and relaxed at the Ainsworth Hot Springs.

We extended our stay a little bit when we found out Fred Penner was booked to play (a “grown ups” concert) that Saturday. Sadly, his flight got delayed and we couldn’t stay long enough for him to get to town. (My brother got to see him, though, said it was fantastic. I’m so jealous!)

What I took home from my trip to Nelson, though, was the cheerfulness and the passion of the people who live there. My brother always says to me: “In Nelson, everyone is happy all the time. We’re just all so happy to be here.” It’s true. No matter where we went – restaurant, resort, rental place, museum, info center – we were always greeted with an energy that just radiated love. It was a refreshing change from Alberta’s typical disgruntled, fast paced, cold customer service. To where I seriously considered looking to moving there after I get back from Asia. A tad too crowded for me though, and too far south.

2- Celebrated Burns night. Twice.

The whole point of rushing to Edmonton from BC was to attend Fannon‘s annual (and very fun) Burn’s night. While I have very little exposure to either poetry, scottish litterature or Robbie Burns, Fannon’s parties are always a good time and it’s kinda nice to discover my scottish heritage. I didn’t pick out a poem until the night itself (it’s hard to know what I’ll want to express ahead of time – I can’t prechoose poems for readings anymore than I can plan a meal before I’m hungry) but I did do my homework by reading all about Burn’s life (of which I remember little except for that he was really into women and had a lot of kids) and studying proper Burn’s night protocol (do any informal Burn’s suppers ever follow the whole protocol?).

I ended up reciting Winter: A Dirge. Didn’t fit the mood too much (parties, when executed properly, are happy while the poem is not happy at all), but it was quite enjoyable to read out loud. More enjoyable than I expected, actually. I should read poems out loud more often.

We ended up forgetting to sing Barret’s Privateers (not protocol or even scottish, I think, but an annual house tradition nonetheless), which means that my ENTIRE YEAR of practicing in my car (that’s right, my trips to Edmonton have been three hours each way of me singing myself hoarse with The Irish Descendents blasting on the stereo) was for naught. Next year. I’ll attend the party from Vietnam via Skype and I WILL SING BARRETS PRIVATEERS.

Yes, yes, I know this bullet says I celebrated Burns night twice. Which is true. The other party was even less formal, but still, on our drive from BC to Edmonton, we stopped at the Kicking Horse Hostel in Golden (fantastic hostel, by the way – if you’re looking for a small yet friendly town to ski and party in, check out Golden and stay at the Kicking Horse Hostel) on January 25. January 25, which is the official Burns night. The hostel owner happened to be originally from Scotland, so we gathered around the bonfire with some Glayva and some Innis and Gunn to recite some verses. Our performances were more of the train karaoke variety (that’s right! Train karaoke! When you play PS2 Karaoke using a train car as your screen – the joys of having a projector and being right by the train tracks!) than classic Scottish litterature, but it was a good night as well. And what matters, really, is that the night was good.

3- Meeting David Gaider

While in Edmonton, I figured I’d get ahold of my friend Ben (@ElBne on Twitter) since it had been almost FOREVER since we’d gotten together AND because he always says he has horses. Like most girls, I like horses.

Anyway, he ended up being in town that weekend (instead of at home), which meant no horses but still much oppertunity to hang out (and introduce the boy!). We made plans for supper at New Asian Village and I didn’t think any more of it. To my surprise, he brought a friend. To my bigger surprise, his friend was David Gaider. I knew they were friends but I was NOT prepared!

I had to work really hard to avoid squealing and jumping up and down like the crazy fangirl that I am. I had just finished reading Asunder which I devoured in a total of two intense reading sessions (it was a good book) too so self-restraint was a challenge.

It was a fun supper – David Gaider is just as interesting and insightful in person as he is when he writes and Ben always livens up the party. The hours went by waaaaay too fast!

4- Discovered the hazardous world of phone games

I got hooked on Puzzle and Dragons while in New Orleans last November. Which, I think, is what happens to most people who give Puzzle and Dragons a try. Then I drowned my phone. Because my priorities are clearly in the right place, my first thought was “oh no, my game!”.

I rushed to The Source to buy a new phone, but sadly, my game was gone. So I figured I’d give another game a try. I had downloaded something called Pet Shop Story awhile back but never played it. Now was a good time.

Ugg.

Before I knew, I had 4 “story” and one “match 3” games on the go. Like some kind of sick phone junkie, I’ve been stuck on my phone, swapping from game to game, queueing up my food, pets and clothing orders.

At least now my coworkers don’t complain anymore that I never check my phone.

5- Worked a ton

For the entire month of February, my collegue was on vacation. Because of a misfortune, she ended up stranded in New Zealand and ended up being away until into March. And because I mentionned needing some extra hours, head office relocated my relief pharmacist, leaving me alone to work the first 15 (11 hour + 3-4 unpaid hours to finish paperwork/tidy up) shifts of February. I was frustrated, hungry (most companies, including the one I work for, don’t allow pharmacists to take breaks) and sore. But at least I made a lot of money!

Even beyond that, I worked a lot. Most days, I would arrive before 9 am, then not leave until almost midnight. I missed the boy, I missed gaming, I missed writing, I missed being outside. And most of all, I really missed me. I ended up getting pretty obsessive too. Even on the few days off I had, I ended up going in to do write-ups because I couldn’t stop thinking about work.

Now that my collegue is back, I have a few days off. I was careful to make a lot of plans (am currently sitting in a hostel in Banff!) so I wouldn’t be tempted to go in. Today was a little hard to tear away, but I expect it to get better.

6- Got sick

So funny story! Within my first few shifts of February, my legs starting feeling cold. Then numb and tingly. Then my muscles got weird and tense and my ankles and knees wouldn’t bend right.

I suppose it is for the best that my MS attack happened while I didn’t have any days off. It’s hard to be on your feet for 11-16 hours without a break when your lower body is rebelling, but had I worked a lot and been healthy, I would be bitter that I wasn’t out skiing. And if I’d been sick with a lot of free time, I’d be freaking out over the waste of perfectly good days off.

While the symptoms were similar to this attack, I didn’t end up howling in the hospital, which is an improvement. I don’t know if the spasticity around my ribcage just wasn’t as intense or if I’ve become better at avoiding aggravating factors, but I was more incomfortable than in pain.

It’s been getting better too. I’m not 100% quite yet, but I will try skiing again tomorrow. Should be good times.

7- Found a New Challenge Mode Group

Ben (yes, the same Ben) comes up with the best ideas. This time, he decided to get a challenge mode group together (yes, for WoW. I still play that.) and asked me if I was interested. My last group stopped running them after our tank left us for another game and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t given it second thoughts. Of course, I was super excited.

Sunnier and Arielle, two people who I’ve kinda always wanted to get to know but never had an oppertunity to, were also on board (Ben has a lot of friends in high places, it seems). Ed (the boy) grabbed his hunter and we had a group!

We’ve been doing pretty good too: 4 golds in 3 nights (at the rate of one night per week), greatly thanks to Arielle who knows every challenge mode like the back of his hand. I’m kinda getting carried but at this point, as long as no one else minds, neither do I. They’re all very patient with my srew ups and I’m getting good practice for raids. Because my raid knows I’m desperetely in need of practice.

8- Celebrated my One Year with Cadenza

Speaking of my raid, the other day I realized that I have managed to not get kicked from Cadenza for over a year!

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been more than a year since I died a bigillion times on that Heart of Fear sonic disk boss during my trial. From what they told me, it seems like it’s hard to believe for them too.

My relationship with Cadenza has been really different from my relationships with other guilds. Not sure if it’s because I’ve learned my lesson, or because I don’t have the flexible schedule of a student anymore or because the structure of Cadenza just doesn’t allow that sort of thing or a combination of all of the above, but I’ve been way, like waaaay less emotionally involved than ever before. I show up, do what I’m told, get kills, then log off. And I’m okay with that.

I do miss my old days of experimenting with holy pally stuff, of knowing everyone, of knowing all the fights and of telling everyone else they’re wrong, but at the same time, the lack of emotional rollercoasters is very enjoyable. I don’t know most of my guildies and I kinda feel like the stupid tag-along kid sibbling in healer chat, but I have made a few friends and I’ve had a blast at all the guild meetups I’ve been to. I even met my boyfriend through the guild, the first time I’ve ever met someone through WoW, which has got to mean something.

In case anyone was wondering, we’re working on Heroic Paragons now. A kill seems to be coming along soon, but, you know, stupid mistakes and stuff getting in the way. (EDIT: As I hit the publish button, I got a message that they killed Paragons – I’m not raiding due to shitty hostel internet. So it sounds like we’re working on Heroic Garrosh now.)

9- Bought a Juicer

I was at work the other day (because that’s always where I am – at work) complaining about how I can’t eat vegetables because they’re expensive, they taste nasty (remember I live in rural Alberta where veggies come in two sorts: frozen or rotten) and I can’t prepare them before they become unedible. Then a coworker talked about juicing.

I thought to myself: “I like juice”.

Shortly thereafter, I became the proud owner of a 70$ juicer.

Here’s the verdict: the culture surrounded juicing is targetted at people who believe anything they read on the internet (obviously, anyone who knows more than three biochemistry terms is a health expert), it’s really expensive (1 litre of store bought juice is 5$, 1 litre of juiced juice is about 15$ if you’re using anything but apples), it goes bad really fast (apparently preservatives are in food for a reason) and cleaning up takes longer than actually drinking the juice. However, the juice DOES taste a lot better than store bought juice and it is an effective way of sneaking veggies into my diet. I expect to be way less constipated now.

10- Decided to get eye surgery

Ed and I were talking about all the eye equipment I’ll need for our epic journey. Spare glasses, contacts, contact gear, prescription sunglasses… For that price I could just get lazik!

Two days later, I was at the Lazik clinic for a consult. Shortly after, I was booked for surgery on May 22 (I would have gotten in sooner but my insurance is on cooldown until then).

I’d been holding off because my eyesight isn’t stable yet, which it turns out, is not a valid reason to hold off. So yeah, I expect to be not-blind in a few months. I’m very excited!

* * *

And that concludes 10 things I was doing while not blogging!

I hope the three of you who have not given up on me are also doing well and I hope to write again within the year. Cheers!

Thok Follow Up

Posted January 5, 2014 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin, World of Logs

Tags: , , , , ,

Ok so, about a month ago (shit, when did time speed up so much?), I made a post about Thok in hopes to improve my healing numbers.

The question: Did it work?

The answer: Not really.

Yes, we got the kill (would have been a one shot if I hadn’t screwed up my fixate AND unknowingly stolen a jailer key). Yes, my Devo Aura and my Hand of Protection and my Bubble helped out (Bubble really shone in the last few seconds after we ran out of CDs and people were dying without any healers being able to cast). But my numbers refused to leave their abyss.

healingnumbers

I showed a pally tank for comparative purposes. (HEY AT LEAST I OUTHEALED THE TANK!)

I didn’t do significantly more healing than my copally who (because informed consent isn’t something I’m strong at) was unaware of the experiment and who wasn’t even using the Cleave trinket. (Granted, I don’t think the Cleave trinket is as powerful for us as for our Holy Priest who gleefully reads out his Cleave heals every attempt: “8%, 10%….12%!!!” Me: “3%” – I may, however, just need to remember that I have it in my bags whenever I visit the item upgrader.) I didn’t pre-pot (that explains it all, yes!?!), but I doubt having an int buff up for the portion of the fight with the least damage going around will have the strongest effect on healing numbers.

Here’s an instant-by-instant reply of my healing compared to everyone elses.

healingflow

We got another kill last night, but I was dead for all of the third Screech phase (the stupid dinosaur didn’t have the decency to properly chase his last fixate target before turning to me, which had him standing in the middle of the room when he fixated me, cornering me and forcing me to sacrifice myself).

Not much I could do while dead.

Not much I could do while dead.

Here’s the healing graph with my pretty pink flat line:

healingflowdead

We’ve been working on Siegecrafter for the last few weeks. Not a whole lot of progress being made, we still rarely reach the first Magnetic phase with more than half the raid alive, but since us pallies are on bench duty a lot (my copally and I take turn – there is always one of us on the bench), the wipes aren’t too painful for me. I’d say it’s one of the only fights where I’m happy to only be there for half of the attempts.

And with that, I wish you all a happy New Year. May 2014 bring you many kills, much glory and bountiful shiny lootses.

The Suffering Inflicted on Holy Paladins by Heroic Thok 25

Posted December 13, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin, World of Logs

Tags: , , , , ,

Raid: Your numbers suck on Thok. Make them not suck.
Me: /cry

We’ve been working on Heroic Thok for a few weeks now. The strategy has been worked and reworked, we’ve gotten into the flow of the fight and we’ll probably kill that big hungry (thirsty?) dinosaur on Saturday.

It was brought to my attention, frustratingly, that my healing numbers on that fight were, well, abysmal. I haven’t been looking at numbers lately – now that most of my cohealers consist of three disc priests and a shaman, looking at numbers is just asking for misery. (When all the disc priests are away or healing as holy, I can often squeeze into second place behind our shaman on the meters, but there’s no way I can get any impressive healing in with 3 disc priests in the raid. One cannot heal nonexistent damage and Illuminated Healing just doesn’t do the job.) But I’ll take their word for it. I’m silenced more often than not on that fight. I’ll believe any accusation of fail healing.

So. Paladin problem or player problem? And can I fix it?

Paladins and 25 Heroic Thock

The first thing I did was head over to World of Logs to see how the fight is going for everyone else. (See this post if you’re curious about my World of Logs searching procedure.)

I got rid of the Asian servers, because, well, their playing conditions are too different from ours and their logs are written funny. Then I had a look at how Holy Paladins measure up there in the US and EU.

As of today, Dec 13, 2013, in the top 800 parses, 22 were paladins (2.75%…If all healing specs were made equal, one would expect around 17% – 1 in 6 – representation). And here’s how the top 5 pallies did:

#363 with 326k hps, Dec 4.
#380 with 324k hps, Nov 27.
#561 with 299k hps, Dec 12.
#634 with 289k hps, Dec 3.
#645 with 288k hps, Dec 3.
.

If you look at the top 150 all pally ranks, HPS varies from 326k to 233k. Let’s have a look at other classes:

Disc Priests: 515k to 356k
Shaman: 458k to 314k
Druids: 380k to 278k
Holy Priests: 432k to 276k
Monks: 354k to 264k

It seems pretty clear to me that we are lagging behind, significantly when compared to Disc Priests and Shaman, and moderately when compared to the other specs. Which leads to the next question, what are the most performing Holy Paladins doing to avoid the bench?

Selfless Healer vs Eternal Flame

Out of those 22 paladins who made it to the top 800, 18 of those used the Selfless Healer style.

Honestly, having tried to heal the fight with Eternal Flame for a few weeks, I’m surprised any Eternal Flame users made it into the top. Silence much, anybody?

Quickly, I switched my talents. Then I was faced with another question. How, in the name of the light, do I heal like this?

I took the top 5 paladins (forever more known as “The Top 5”) and checked out their cast log. Thankfully, it was pretty unanimous and consistent throughout the fight:

[20:59:19.598] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:20.647] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:21.621] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:22.644] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:23.506] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:24.444] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:25.454] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:26.458] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:27.503] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:29.149] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)
[20:59:30.148] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:31.146] Holy Shock (HoPo = 3, SH = 1)
[20:59:32.289] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:33.269] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)

Regardless of whether the Jailer was up, or how far along they were in Thok’s screeching phase, each Light of Dawn was cast with 3 charges of Holy Power. The Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance rotation was flexible based on what was off CD (and possibly the needs of the raid). I noticed, as well, that Holy Radiance was usually cast with only one stack of Selfless Healer. (Two paladins, #2 and #3, I believe, were using two stacks of Selfless Healer during Holy Avenger. As far as I could tell, nobody else was doing that. #5 didn’t even use Judgement during his first Holy Avenger).

The Cooldown Usage

thokcds

I picked this particular screenshot because it illustrates pretty much every cooldown strategy I noticed among The Top 5.

1- Beacon of Light Swapping: 3 out of 5 moved their Beacon from tank to tank, although at different paces. Note, however, that all 5 were the only paladin healers in their raid.

2- Pre-potting: Two of them (and maybe others, WoL doesn’t always catch buffs that are cast before the fight starts) pre-potted with Int potions. 3 of them used Int potions later on, during the second or third Screech phase.

3- All the Throughput CDs, ALL OF THEM. After Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp (BHT): Everyone waited for HBT to wear off, then blew their Holy Avenger-Divine Favor-Guardian-Avenging Wrath combo. Based on how long their kite phase was, some (such as the paladin above) used all 4 again on the second Screech phase. Those who had shorter kite phases used only Holy Avenger and Divine Favor during the second Screech, and everyone used everything again for the third Screech. Note that all the top pallies killed Thok during or right after the third Screech phase.

Another note on the throughput CDs – my copally and I experimented with CD timing last week and it is essential to wait for BHT to wear off before popping everything. You won’t heal worth shit of you pop anything during BHT.

4- Selfless Healer Stacks: The paladin on the screenshot hit 3 stacks of Selfless Healer twice. Which, as I mentioned in the last section, seems typical among the top 5. No one seemed to really worry about SH stacks.

5- Devo Aura: I suck and forgot to show Devo Aura on the screenshot. If you wondering, this paladin used it for each Screech phase. As for everyone else, it seemed to depend how fast they moved through the fight. Those who phase changed too quickly used their Devo during First and Third, or during Second. This is something to be agreed upon among all the paladins in the raid since Devo Aura really makes or breaks this fight.

The Plan!

On the condition that I am not benched this week in favor of one shaman and six disc priests, here’s the improvement plan:

1- Selfless Healer with Light of Dawn cast at 3 charges of Holy Power. Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-type rotation.
2- Pre-pot FTW!
3- Wait until AFTER HBT to cast ALL THE CDs.

Wish me luck!

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!