Tag Archives: ranting

Thursday Thoughts

7 Jun

Over the last few weeks I have really struggled with coming up with cohesive, relevant blogs that I can publish.  For the first time ever I have more than one draft sitting in my Drafts folder and I regularly add more, only to delete them a short time later.  I haven’t encountered a feeling of writer’s block this strong in quite a while and it only makes me feel worse when I see how other bloggers are constantly posting and how they seem to have no such shortage of things to write about.

To be honest, it makes me feel jaded.  Washed up.  I see myself losing Followers because I’m not talking about things that people initially followed me to hear me talk about.  I see myself not being able to relate to conversations that other people are having, because I either don’t agree with them and can’t find a way to word it eloquently enough or because I do agree with them and they have already worded things better than I ever could.  I just feel like I’m watching people, like I’m watching the community pass me by.  I’m suddenly overcome with ennui and I don’t know what to do about it.

Instead of talking about what I haven’t been able to do or haven’t been doing lately, let’s talk about what I have been up to.

World of Warcraft

I haven’t raided in two weeks.  Last week I posted out because I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was really in no mood to raid or do anything that felt competitive or like I would have to really push myself to do.  This week I had the chance to go out and do something to take my mind off said breakup and so I took the opportunity to do that and volunteered to sit on the bench for the night.

I don’t miss it.  Let me be more specific – I don’t miss Dragon Soul.  I’m excited about raid testing being made available in the Beta.  I’m excited at the thought of grinding the 5 man dungeons to gear up for new raid content in Mists of Pandaria and then doing said content.

The Beta, as it stands right now, doesn’t have much appeal to me, either.  I have no desire to level a toon from 85-90 and then have to do it all over again when the expansion hits.  I would much rather wait until the premade characters are made available and then go from there.  That’s really where things in the Beta will start getting interesting to me.

Diablo 3

I have an Annual Pass, so I didn’t actually have to “pay” for or go seriously out of my way to get my hands on a copy of Diablo 3.  It’s fun.  I haven’t played it as much as most people have.  My witch doctor hasn’t even cracked level 20 yet and I’m not in much of a hurry to change that.

I enjoy the slow pace.  I enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of the map and breaking every barrel, urn, and spider egg that I see.  I don’t feel like there is a clock ticking that tells me I have to be this level or I have to be this geared in order to do this instance within this timeframe.  It’s nice to just say to myself “I want to kill shit,” and then I log on and do it.  It’s very simple and very mindless, which I really appreciate at this point in time.

Magic the Gathering

I have been playing quite a bit of Magic the Gathering lately and it has brought me the most enjoyment these past few weeks.  I find Magic to be very refreshing and so different from World of Warcraft in many ways.  Here are just some of those reasons:

The community.  Since I started playing Magic again, I have been trying to get a feel for what websites are the best resources for me to go to and which forums seem to have the most decent people posting on them.  I have started to Follow certain writers that I enjoy reading the most on Twitter, striking up conversations with them when I can.  I’m slowly trying to get involved in a community that is unlike what I’m used to and it’s intimidating and yet strangely exciting, at the same time.

One thing that really stands out to me about the Magic community is the sense of meritocracy or the feeling that people who are seen as authorities or who are the most respected have genuinely done something to deserve that.  Something that has really frustrated me about the WoW community lately has been the recent surge in people who have obtained this bizarre form of celebrity for seemingly doing nothing at all.

They don’t play the game.  They don’t raid.  But yet they’re in a position where people look to them to tell them what to do or for advice.  They exist solely for entertainment value and while I can see the immediate benefits of such a thing, it still feels sort of wrong to me.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask that someone actually plays the game that they write or podcast about.  I don’t think it’s wrong to ask someone to share their level of experience with you when they try to give you advice on how to do something.

This doesn’t seem to be the case in the Magic community.  The people who are writing for these websites and that you see out and about can genuinely prove that they have been there, that they are successful, and that they have a reason to be doing what they are doing.  They are there to entertain you, but that comes second to the fact that they have some amount of credibility going for them and I really respect that and I miss that.

The social interactions.  I knew that I was starting to experience some burnout once we had downed Heroic Madness for the first time.  I knew that I wanted to take a break from WoW before Mists of Pandaria came out, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with all that free time.  The possibilities were endless.  I could go back to Rift.  I could try out Star Wars or TERA.  I could throw myself into Diablo 3.

But then I realized that I really missed social interaction with people and I mean face to face conversations.  I started to feel like everything I was doing involved hiding behind a computer screen and like I was becoming very isolated and possibly even socially awkward because of it.  It seemed really obvious to me, maybe even too obvious to choose another computer game to keep me occupied until the next expansion comes out.  That’s when I decided to start playing Magic more and to relish those moments when I’m not tied to a headset or to a keyboard and mouse.

To my surprise, I had become really awkward around groups of people.  I found that I had a hard time remembering the names of the people I had started to play with regularly at my local Friday Night Magic events.  I noticed that I had a hard time looking people in the eye when I was talking to them.  I had to remind myself that I don’t have a push to talk key in real life and that I have to keep some things to myself if I don’t want someone across the table from me to hear them.

I’m getting better at communicating and I’m still not perfect.  I do still rage when people stand over my shoulder and make comments about the game I’m playing or someone plays a card over and over again that I don’t like.  I have to get better at being a good sport, for both when I win and for win I lose.  I need to be able to say that I did a good job, even when I don’t feel like I did or when I feel like I could have done better.  Coming back to Magic has helped me identify all of these things (and more) about myself that I don’t think I would have done if I had just moved on to yet another computer game to pass the time.  I’m really grateful for that.

The freedom.  I don’t feel like I’m bound to a set schedule with Magic, the way that I am with WoW.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it to Friday Night Magic, or if I have to leave early.  I can go to a tournament at this store on Tuesday, or that store on Thursday, or do both tournaments and even a third on Sunday.

I find being able to say what I want to do and what I don’t want to do, without any negative repercussions very exciting.  I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down if I don’t make it to an event or like I am lagging behind, like I would if I missed a raid.  I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, like when you farm the same instance for several months at a time.  It all feels fresh and new and dare I say it – like a game *should* feel.  It kind of makes me wonder why I have been settling for something else this whole time.

Reading

I got used to bringing a book with me when I used to ride the Amtrak to go visit my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend).  One of the books that I had picked up was the first book in the “Pretty Little Liars” series.  Needless to say I was hooked.  I’m currently on the third book and I just started watching the television show that goes along with it.  It’s been much easier to avoid spoilers of the books than it has been the television show, but it seems like the show is radically different from the books, so it’s not really hurting anything.

Like I said, I’m hooked.  I squeal like a teenage girl when the cute boy takes his shirt off or he says something close to romantic.  I gasp when something sort of scary happens.  I panic when one episode ends and I have to get up to turn the next one on from my computer.   Completely hooked.

I know this post kind of went all over the place, but I’m okay with that.  Life is good – even if it’s not giving me a lot of things to write about.  I still felt like I should say *something,* so hopefully I’ve accomplished that today.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Pressure

19 Mar

I feel like if I were a boy I would be less worried about my performance in a game than if I were a girl.

Let me explain.

I feel like when a woman puts herself out there, wherever it may be in the gaming world, she is automatically expected to either be completely bad at what she does, or is viewed with hesitation or apprehension.  So when I do poorly at something, whether I didn’t show as high on the meters as I would have liked, or I didn’t win as many rounds in a tourney that I should have, I feel like I am living up to that expectation of me.  I feel that I am proving that person right.  I am just another terrible female gamer.

I feel like you not only have more wiggle room, in terms of your performance, but you are also given more leeway to try new things, or to be innovative.  If I were to show up to Friday Night Magic and tell someone that I was playing a self mill Vampire deck, people would immediately look at me and think I had lost my mind.  Nobody would give me the benefit of the doubt, or the chance to show them that maybe this deck idea might not be so bad, and maybe it would turn out to be something great.

But if I were a man and I showed up with that same deck idea, I think people would still be a little apprehensive of my idea, but they would at least let me see the idea through, and then poke fun at me if the whole thing crashed and burned.  And if the deck did end up being a glorious failure, I think the focus would be more on how terrible the deck was, versus how terrible I was.  More often than not, when a woman does perform poorly at something, more of an effort is made to establish that she is in fact a woman.  The focus isn’t placed on how badly the strategy was, or the idea behind it, but the fact that a woman implemented it.

At the same time, you can’t just be a woman and be good at what you do.  Someone let you win.  You cheated.  You got lucky.  A man can take a defeat from another man much more easily.  It involves swallowing so much more pride to say that you won, and that you did so without gaming the system, or using your feminine wiles, or anything of the sort.  Even if they don’t make any initial snide comments, they will still wrap things up by saying “I lost to a girl.”  You would never hear someone say “I lost to a guy.”  It would be “I lost to this comp,” or “I lost to this type of deck.”  Again, the focus is immediately placed on losing to someone who happened to be better than you, and who happened to be a woman.  It isn’t enough to say that you were a better player, or that you had more skill.  It has to be reiterated that you are a woman.  Everything else will come a distant second to that.

At the end of the day, it’s not my perfectionist nature that makes me stay up an hour after the raid is over with to pore over the logs, and to see how I did, or what I can do better.  It’s not the competitive side of me that gets angry when I lose badly in a Friday Night Magic tourney.  These things tap directly into the side of me that feels like I have to do my gender proud, like I have to represent for all women, and that if I don’t that I have let any number of women like me down.  It taps into the feeling that I have proven every short sighted, misogynistic asshole right by being bad at what I do.  They must think women are bad because I was bad.  I’m not helping.  That’s how my mind interprets it.

I’m not really sure what can be done about this, or even where I’m going with this.  These are things that I feel, and I can’t necessarily say that someone has directly made me feel this way.  This is how I choose to interpret things that are said or things that I have experienced in the time that I have spent gaming.  I feel like we have come a long way, but the pressure is still there.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so maybe I felt like it would be a good idea to get this all off my chest, and to see if I’m not the only one who feels like I owe it to my gender to be good at what I do.

If you have felt this way, let me know how you cope with it, or how you deal with those feelings of inadequacy when you are feeling not good enough.  If you haven’t, feel free to leave a comment about that, too.

Thanks for reading.

A Lifetime Of O’s – Then And Now

13 Mar

Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a second to look around and you think to yourself  “How did I get here?”  I have those moments more often than most people do, but I felt compelled to answer the question a bit more seriously after some other bloggers started a trend of writing posts detailing where their characters came from compared to where they are now. 

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this one.  The character that I play now is not the one I started out with, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about the history that I have with my current main, or my previous one, or even the one before that.  This post could be as long or as short as I wanted to make it.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to go all the way back – back to the beginning.  How did I get here?  Let me show you.

It all started on a little realm called Thunderhorn, which is actually still around, and is considered to be one of the oldest realms in the game.  I was an Alliance healing priest named “Kemintiri,” in a guild called “Chosen of Valhalla,” which was run by Shoryl.  I was so green.  I didn’t know how guild politics worked.  I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be a raider and how to handle yourself as such.  I knew nothing. 

Thunderhorn was grossly overpopulated – so much so that before Burning Crusade was released Blizzard was thinking of either splitting the realm in two (so there would be a Thunderhorn 1 and a Thunderhorn 2), or they were going to offer free realm transfers to lower population realms.  The guild that I was in was part of an alliance of guilds and they all agreed that the free realm transfer was the better option, rather than staying on Thunderhorn and leaving fate to decide which half of the server we ended up on.  As it turns out, the split never took place, so we really had nothing to worry about.

Shortly after we arrived on Zangarmarsh, I was kicked out of the guild.  I was pretty distraught over what happened and what I perceived to be a betrayal from people that I thought I could trust or who I thought were my friends.  I really wanted nothing to do with the Alliance anymore at that point.  I decided to create a Horde character, but I couldn’t come up with a really good name for my character.  Codi was my roommate at the time and she had an encyclopedia of gods and goddesses that I used to borrow from her frequently. 

I remember browsing through the pages and the name “Ouranos” jumped out at me.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard of before.  Since I was thinking of making a Tauren druid anyway, the name seemed kind of appropriate.  Codi loved the idea and told me I should name my character that, so I did.  I had an issue with how the Tauren females looked, so I opted to make a Tauren male instead.  I thought it would be kind of neat to have such a masculine looking character and be someone seemingly so girly behind the screen.  I really got a kick out of that dichotomy. 

So I leveled Ouranos as a balance druid with some friends of mine and we even created our own little guild to call our own.  Once we hit level 70, the urge to raid came back strong.  We took the guild apart and joined a guild called “Resilience,” which was run by a rogue named Ricen.  Little did I know that the real person running the show was a warlock named “Raaziel,” who paid for the website, the Vent server, managed the DKP, ran the raids, etc.  I also didn’t know that Raaziel and I would eventually end up dating and that I would be part of the reason the guild fell apart.

Raaziel really didn’t want to be running the show.  I grew tired of hearing him complain about things that he really didn’t want to do and so I politely suggested that maybe he should do something that does make him happy for a change or maybe even take a break.  He went one step further – he quit the game completely.  Without having him on board to run the show, the guild slowly descended into chaos.  Raaziel and I broke up a short time later and the guild eventually split into two – half the guild chose to stay with “Resilience” to try and make the best of it and the other half formed a guild called “Ens Entium.”

One night, while partying in Halaa with some friends, I ran into a boisterious warlock named Joecmel, who was the de facto raid leader for a guild called “Big Tymers.”  Joe and I hit it off right away and he was amazed that I was guildless and not doing more with myself and my character.  Within days I had joined the ranks of “Big Tymers” as a raiding moonkin and he and I started to get to know one another.  Before we knew it we were dating and even making plans to move in together.  This of course didn’t sit too well with the guild.

I was constantly fighting off accusations that I was being carried or that I was using  Joe for status, or gold, or a raid spot.  He was coming off winning the Gladiator title during the first ever Arena season, so everyone on the realm and even some people outside of our realm knew who he was.  He was this sort of celebrity and I was a total nobody.  We became affectionately known as “O and Joe,” and before we knew it everybody seemed to be involved in our business.  It got worse when I actually did move out of state to be with him.

We decided to leave “Big Tymers” together and threw our lot in with a guild called “Scurvy Dogs,” a pirate themed raiding guild, where you would literally get greeted with a “Yarr” every time you logged in.  This is where I got my first real taste of serious raiding and I loved every minute of it, with the exception of one little thing.  It was a labor of love to be a moonkin back then and you either played one because you truly loved to do it or because you were a masochist.  

I felt like I had taken being a moonkin as far as I could go, or like I was starting to plateau in that role.  We had just started to break into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep when a couple of resto druids on our roster had decided to take an indefinite break from the game.  This left a huge gap in our healing line up that was going to need to be filled.  I felt like I needed a challenge, so I offered to respec and try out resto, to see if I could potentially fill that void.  My guild master, who was also named Void, took me on a Karazhan run to sort of test my mettle.  I two healed it with a holy paladin and I had never been more scared in my entire life.  Did I forget to mention that Void was wearing a wedding dress the entire time?  Petrified.

From that point on I was a raiding resto druid and things continued to progress nicely until Joe and I fell apart.  I used to say that we were the Ben and J-Lo of our realm and everyone wanted to know what happened and had started to choose sides.  I was miserable – crying on Void’s shoulder on Vent because I had nobody else to talk to and it all got to be too much.  I decided that Joe could have custody of the guild, while I went looking for more elsewhere.  Shortly before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I joined a guild called “Invalid Target” back on Thunderhorn.

Things with “Invalid Target” started out well enough.  I was able to finally clear Zul’aman (which was a very difficult 10m back then) and get an Amani War Bear.  I was able to see progression fights at a steady pace.  I was happy.  At least until Ulduar came out and the controversy over who was going to be awarded the legendary healing mace began.  There had been a lot of talk on our forums about who was going to get Val’anyr and the officers still hadn’t made a decision by the time we pulled Flame Leviathan for the first time.  I guess they thought that the odds of getting a fragment our first night on the first boss on Normal mode were rather slim.  They were wrong.

The officers were frantically trying to figure out what to do, and so they just decided to have all of the healers roll on it.  I rolled a 98 and was to become the first recipient of Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.  Needless to say the other healers were not pleased at this and things only got worse from there.  One healer, in particular, felt very slighted and it didn’t help that she was friends in real life with most of the guild.  Things got ugly fast.  People were making comics about me on the boards.  I was being goaded into fights in guild chat.  It was not pleasant.

I decided to leave and joined the top guild on our server (Horde side, at least), a guild called “Lobster Brood.”  This guild had a great reputation and they really believed in me as a healer and as a person and I was very excited to be a part of their ranks.  It wasn’t until after I joined that I got to see the inner workings of the guild and I didn’t really like what I saw. 

The guild had an unusually high turnover rate and I felt like we were in this endless cycle of gearing up people, losing them, and then having to recruit more people that we would have to gear and train.  We could have gone a lot further, progression wise if we weren’t constantly losing people and then replacing them.  I started to resent having to repeatedly sit for new people again and again, just because we either couldn’t keep people on board, or because of a string of bad luck with recruitment. 

After that, I moved the now female “Oestrus” (who had her name and gender changed shortly after Naxxramas was released) to Khaz Modan, and joined a guild called “Retribution.”  The guild was serious about progression, but still home to a likeable cast of characters, including an openly gay GM, and a fantastic resto shaman named Natoro.  Seeing as how Natoro was also our healing lead, he was the one that I had the most contact with during my trial period, and he and I hit it off right away.  He began to court me and the feelings became mutual.  Before I knew it we were dating and he was flying in to see me over Labor Day weekend of that year.

Natoro and I didn’t make it much past that weekend, and so I left “Retribution” for a brief stint on the Hydraxis realm, only to return to Zangarmarsh.  Joecmel and I had long since made amends after our relationship ended and he was now running a guild called “Cause for Concern.”  Although the 25m raids weren’t very successful, he had his own 10m group and asked if I wouldn’t mind being a part of it.  I got most of my Heroic experience in Icecrown Citadel with these folks and it was a very enjoyable experience for me.  I had started to take on some recruitment duties for the main raid and I was happy.  Or at least I thought I was.

The truth is that I missed a certain standard of raiding that just doesn’t exist on Zangarmarsh.  It never has and it probably never will.  Zangarmarsh tends to exist in a bubble and what they consider raiding is very different from what I consider it to be.  I had tried to take more of a hands on approach to replace the bad players by handling the recruitment myself and it just wasn’t working.  I started to really resent the people I was raiding with who weren’t trying as hard to do well and I also started to resent the officers and Joe, who seemed to stand by and let it all happen.  The guild had literally become a cause for concern. 

I left “Cause for Concern” for a guild called “Scientific Method” on Maelstrom.  With their help, I was able to finally complete my Val’anyr and clear up to Heroic LK 25.  I didn’t really have much in common with them on a personal level, but I certainly enjoyed them on a professional level.  They got shit done.  That’s all I really wanted at the time.  Around this time I had gotten my hands on a Beta key for Cataclysm and I was very unhappy with the direction that Blizzard seemed to be taking resto druids.  I was pretty sure that I wanted to re-roll for the next expansion, but I wasn’t sure if “Scientific Method” would have room for me as the class that I wanted to play next.

I had begun to get to know Kurnmogh through my early adventures in the blogosphere and she was attempting to breathe new life into her former guild, called “Apotheosis.”  This guild sounded like a dream come true to me.  I really wanted to be in a guild that would allow me to see progression, but with people that I could genuinely like, and not just have to stomach in order to get what I want.  I moved my former alt priest (now my new main, Obscene) to Eldre’thalas, turned her into a Dwarf female, and spent the rest of Wrath and my time in the Cataclysm Beta trying to master my new class. 

I enjoyed being in “Apotheosis” immensely – from the leveling process, to the process of gearing up through Heroics, and then our first raids together.  Where I started to take issue with certain things was on a social or administrative level.  I felt like there were certain situations that I was bringing to people’s attention or that others were creating for themselves that could have been handled proactively and wouldn’t have turned into the firestorms that they had become.  They were molehills that were allowed to become mountains, so to speak.  There were situations that I felt I had to handle myself, because Kurn or the other officers weren’t doing anything about them.  This ended up being my downfall.

Eventually I had gone too far and I had received word that the officers basically didn’t know what to do with me, that they didn’t know if I really wanted to even be in the guild anymore (based on my behavior), and that they would need to sort of deliberate on what to do next.  I felt like I had been backed into a corner and I didn’t like the prospect of waiting for other people to decide my fate.  I felt like I needed to take the power back and that if I was going to be made to leave a guild that I was going to do it on my terms.  Before the officers could make their decision, I told Kurn that I was going to leave. 

I definitely could have handled that situation better.  I don’t know what the officers would have decided, had I stuck around to see the final outcome.  What I do know is that I still consider “Apotheosis” to be the guild equivalent of “the one that got away.”  I was never happier than when I was raiding with my two best friends, Dahrla and Hestiah.  I enjoyed Kurn’s long winded and yet necessary explanations and posts on the forums.  Those things became a distant second to the burnout that I was starting to feel, which would lead to my most dramatic outburst ever.

I had been in “Occasional Excellence” on Quel’dorei (now the home of both Dahrla and Ophelie) for about two months when we came up against the wall known as Heroic Nefarian.  I was tired of caring more about the fight than other people did.  I was tired of wiping due to human error – not even due to Nefarian himself.  I felt like there was a lot of fuckery going on in the raid and like that focus should have been put into our performance, not on Heavy Leather Balls and the like.  A couple people thought they were being funny and amusing and I wasn’t having it.  So I left the raid. 

I was given the opportunity to stay in the guild, if I would offer up some form of apology, and I refused to do such a thing.  I felt like I was owed an apology for the poor performances of others and that this was again a situation where people saw something like this coming and they did nothing to prevent it.  I made it clear that I was annoyed, that I didn’t enjoy the Leather Balls, and people still kept throwing them.  I told them they would be sorry and I wanted to make very sure that I stuck to my guns on that.  Was it the right thing to do?  Of course not.  Would I do it again?  No.  At the time I wasn’t thinking about all of that.

Somehow my priest (now known as “Oenomel”) made her way into “Serious Casual” on Mal’ganis, which marked my return to the Horde side of things.  Firelands had just been released and things were not looking good for holy priests.  I was very clear during the application process about the fact that I was predominantly holy and I assumed that the raid knew what they were in for.  I remember being told my first night there to “Go disc or go home.”  Eventually I was given an ultimatum by the healing lead at the time that if I didn’t go discipline when asked that I could be benched – possibly even permanently.  To me this was the final straw.

It was never being discipline, in and of itself that I had an issue with.  I took issue with the fact that I wasn’t given a say in when I got to go discipline.  I was never trusted to make that call for myself.  It was basically “You’re going to do this and you’re going to like it,” and I wanted no part of it.  After certain people in the raid found out that I had blogged about this there was a heap of drama and it all became too much to bear.  I was pretty sure that I was done with World of Warcraft for good and threw my lot in with some friends who were playing Rift.  This lasted for about four months, or until shortly after BlizzCon.

BlizzCon made me realize how much I missed the community and how much I missed having people with a similar interest to discuss said interest with.  I met a few folks from “Big Crits” there and was encouraged to apply for their more casual run, known as the “Da Crew” run.  I was told that they already had 2 10m runs under the “Da Crew” banner and that they were looking to recruit for a third one.  This sounded like a good fit to me.  I had been gone long enough where I didn’t have the history or experience to get back in with a more serious group and I wasn’t even sure I wanted something that serious to begin with.  I figured this would give me an opportunity to sort of get my feet wet again and to figure out where I wanted to go from here.

“Big Crits” ended up being nothing like I imagined.  If I had to describe my time in “Big Crits,” I would probably compare it to sitting at the dinner table with a really dysfunctional family.  You know – one of those families where everything looks perfect, but dad’s really an alcoholic, and mom’s having an affair with the tennis instructor, the daughter is secretly a lesbian, and the son is a pyromaniac.  But nobody talks about it – and as long as you don’t talk about certain things, and you don’t acknowledge that they’re actually happening you will get along just fine.  So there were a lot of issues that kept coming up that nobody wanted to deal with and because I did (although maybe not in the best way possible) I got a lot of flak for it. 

There were other issues, with regards to personality conflicts and such, but it all led to the same conclusion.  It just didn’t work out.  I took about two weeks off from raiding after I left “Big Crits” and had a one week stint in a guild that a friend recommended, which then led me to my current guild.  I enjoy the people I raid with now.  I enjoy the progression that I’m seeing.  I like that they trust me to make my own decisions, with regards to my character and my class.  I feel good.  I can’t say that I’ll be here forever, but I also can’t say that I’m looking to leave them anytime soon.  I’m just taking it one day at a time.

I have certainly come a long way and I have learned a lot in the five years or so that I have been playing this game.  There are things that I would do differently, if I could, and there are things that I would probably have never done – if I knew then what I know now.  It’s been a wild ride and I am proud to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. 

I really do believe that you can’t know where you are going until you have known where you have been, and so I encourage anyone reading this to really take a good look at what brought you to where you are now.  Relive the highs and the lows.  Remember the friends (and the enemies) that you have made along the way.  They helped make everything you are today possible.  Don’t ever forget that.  I know I sure won’t.

Shameless

27 Feb

Somewhere down the line I developed a reputation as being someone who will say and do nearly anything.  While this is true, there is one thing that I won’t do.

I don’t kiss and tell.

No, I don’t mean when you immediately run to your girlfriends and dish about that fantastic date that you just came back from, or when you write on your Facebook wall about just how much fun the conception of your first child was.  I mean the practice of bragging about or being fairly candid about the number of page views that your blog attracts or the number of Followers that you have acquired on Twitter.

Recently, a couple of posts sprang up in the blogosphere, which admittedly were very gracious and not immediately harmless.  I just want to stress that I have no personal issue with the people who decided to write these posts and so I’m not going to name names or anything.  What I do take issue with is the principle behind it, which whether they meant it or not, does reinforce the idea that on some level your page views matter.

I have met a number of people who have a very strong interest in starting a blog, but won’t, because they are afraid that nobody will be interested in what they have to say, or that nobody will read what they write.  I have also seen a number of bloggers who made a solid attempt at blogging, but gave up when they didn’t get the traffic that they were hoping for, or when they felt like nobody was listening.

Now you could argue that these people were blogging for all of the wrong reasons and so they were doomed to fail anyway.  I have gone on record a number of times to say that if you are looking for a reason to blog and you are doing it for the page views that you are doing it wrong.  That is not the reason to start a blog.  It is not worth getting wrapped up over and it really can turn into an endless spiral of shame and self-loathing if you let it.  But one could also say that you can’t blame people for being concerned about their numbers when they see posts celebrating these near impossible landmarks and the amount of admiration and praise that is showered upon people who do reach these heights.  You can’t blame someone for wanting to be a part of that and for wanting to feel that way, too.

I compare advertising your page views or how many Followers you have to boasting about the number of people that you slept with.  You may have slept with 25 people, but that doesn’t make you better in bed than the person who only slept with 2 people.  We should be judging ourselves and each other on the quality of our work rather than the number of people that it attracts.  I know quite a few up and coming bloggers that I have seen mentioned on Blog Azeroth that have written some truly riveting posts within weeks of starting their blog, which I can’t always say for people who may be more well established and who have been going at this for a while.  That blogger may have only gotten 100 page views or so, but I would much rather read what they have to say than that powerhouse blogger who gets thousands of views a day.

It really is not about that.  I have been blogging for a long time and I can honestly say that I was never happier than when I was blogging away on Livejournal, when nobody knew who I was, and when I was talking about how excited I was that the first season of “The Golden Girls” was coming out on DVD.  I wasn’t writing for anyone but me and it showed.  I didn’t obsess over who was going to take something the wrong way, or whether or not my facts were straight.  I wrote because I loved to do it and because it helped me clear my head and get a lot of things out of in the open that I didn’t think I could say to anyone else directly.

Somewhere down the line it gets muddled and you do feel obligated to keep going.  It’s hard not to feel that way when you realize that people are looking forward to your next post or when they do get emotionally invested in the things that you write about.  Blogging starts to feel less carefree, less effortless once you develop some semblance of a following.  I can take a look at the posts that I wrote when I had no Followers and nobody subscribed to my blog and see a huge difference in the tone or the quality of the posts from where I am now.  It really does change everything.

On a similar note, we say that we like Looking For Raid because it gets people interested in raiding, but then we criticize other players when they don’t perform to the standards that we are used to in our everyday raiding guilds.  We wonder how people could be so incompetent or how they could have gotten this far without asking for help.  I see elements of this in the blogosphere, too.  We make comments on Twitter that we have nothing new to read and that there are no blogs out there that pertain to a certain topic, but then we hesitate to click on a Retweet from a friend that just may have an article from a new and interesting voice that has yet to be heard.  Or we don’t think to write back to someone who sends us a Tweet or leaves us a comment to tell us that we did a good job on our most recent post, simply because we have never heard of them, or because they may have less of a following than we do.

Whether you mean it or not, that new blogger is going to read a post like the one mentioned above and it may deter from them even getting started, or it may convince them that they aren’t cut out to maintain a blog because they can never pull in numbers like that.  I think we should be doing everything we can to remove any sort of “Why bother?” element from people interested in getting involved in the community and be more inclusive, overall.  We all remember what it was like when we were first starting out and I think it’s important that we never forget that, no matter how successful we might become.  There really is enough room for everyone at the table, regardless of the amount of page views that you generate.  Let’s do a better job of communicating that, shall we?

The 4 Most Common Holy Priest Mistakes

15 Feb

Whenever I write a post about being a healing priest, or more specifically a holy priest, I try really hard not to tell people what to do.  I try not to make it seem as if there is only one right way to do things.  Most of the advice that I give is meant to be taken as a suggestion or as something that I know has worked for me and that could possibly work for you.  I have always been someone who is not afraid to try something new or break the mold when I can and I have always been really fortunate to be in guilds with great leadership that are as open minded as I am.

With that said, there are times where I see a holy priest doing something that goes so far against the grain that even I have to strain to see why such a decision or course of action would make sense.  Of course, I try to see where they might be coming from.  But more often than not I just can’t wrap my head around why a holy priest would do certain things.  Inspired by the recent trend of posts on WoWInsider that highlight common mistakes made amongst the various classes and specs of World of Warcraft, here are my selections for the most common mistakes that I see among holy priests.

 

They don’t take Heavenly Voice.
It is not completely unrealistic to say that holy priests have waited this entire expansion for a talent like Heavenly Voice.  I don’t think that we really noticed just how lackluster Divine Hymn was when compared to other cooldowns until Firelands came out.  Then we really started to feel it.  It’s not that holy priests were nerfed – it was more that we were not built to react to the encounters the same way that a discipline priest could or that our playstyle just didn’t mesh well with certain mechanics.  We watched our representation in raids fall to very depressing numbers and I was one of many holy priests who wondered if this trend would continue well into Dragon Soul or even beyond.

Then word got out that the developers were going to replace a completely useless talent, State of Mind, with one called Heavenly Voice and that this new talent would serve to compliment Divine Hymn and help make it a much more viable raid cooldown than it had been in the past.  Our proverbial prayers had been answered.  Priests from here to Kalimdor were pulling out their talent calculators and trying to figure out which talents they were going to take points from in order to make sure they had enough to max out on Heavenly Voice.  It was pretty unanimous that Heavenly Voice was going to be something that any holy priest worth their salt was not going to want to miss out on.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of holy priests out there who have not caught on to just how incredible Heavenly Voice is.  Now I know that in my recently released 4.3 guide that I indicated it was acceptable to not max out on Heavenly Voice if you had just turned 85 or were spending most of your time healing nothing but 5 man dungeons.  This is still true.  However, once you reach the point where you are ready to raid (even if it’s just LFR) you should most certainly have two points in Heavenly Voice.  If I inspect a fellow priest and I see that they are very clearly doing some sort of raid activity and they don’t have points in Heavenly Voice I really question how effective they are being in a raid setting.  Please do not make the same mistake and miss out on this amazing talent.

 

They spec for shields.
While Power Word: Shield is a spell that both holy and discipline priests have available to them, it’s a pretty well known fact that a discipline priest will get far more out of placing a shield on someone than we will.  I rarely cast it on a tank and I can’t even remember the last time I cast it on someone when I was raid healing (unless I wanted to give them a speed boost with Body and Soul).  We don’t cast Power Word: Shield for the same reason that discipline priests don’t cast Renew – because they don’t get as much out of it as the priest with the opposite spec would and they have other tools that can do the job better.  This is how it is and how it will most likely continue to be.

So I find it very strange when I see holy priests with talent points in things like Improved Power Word: Shield or Soul Warding and I see them using Glyph of Power Word: Shield.  If your chances of beating a certain encounter hinge upon you being proficient with shields, you’re not going to do this as well as you could be if you were discipline.  Even for fights where Body and Soul makes a noticeable difference (e.g. Atramedes or Warmaster Blackhorn), you’re not using the shield for the absorption effect.  You’re using it for the burst of speed to help you or someone else get out of something bad.  That doesn’t require any enhancements to your shields that could come from talent points or a glyph.  In short, it doesn’t make any sense to divert so much of your resources towards something that someone else could do with noticeably less effort.

 

They have excessive amounts of Spirit.
Healers of all stripes went into Cataclysm knowing that we weren’t going to be able to enjoy the infinite mana pools that we had come to know and love from the days of Wrath of the Lich King.  It was almost a necessity when we were leveling up and gearing up for that first initial bout of Heroics to enchant for Spirit and gem for it, etc.  Some people took really well to the idea of “triage healing” and having to put more thought into the spells that you cast and others really struggled with it.  Eventually we reached a point where we could afford to do without all of that regen and we could sacrifice some of that Spirit for throughput.  Then Firelands happened.

The pieces that many priests would have used until they had enough Valor Points to start purchasing their tier 12 armor or until they were lucky enough to win the tokens came with a noticeable loss of Spirit or sometimes no Spirit whatsoever.  This was very shocking to many priests, who basically felt like they had the rug pulled out from under them.  Many of us felt like we were getting mixed messages about just how important Spirit was supposed to be to us.  We went from needing it, to not needing it – but still having it around and on our gear just in case.  Now it was noticeably missing from several pieces of equipment and priests tended to react in one of two ways.  They either adapted and found better ways to manage their mana and to make the most out of their cooldowns or they overcompensated and started making Spirit more of a priority than it should have been.

The number one complaint that I hear from people who decide to level a holy priest is how much they feel like they are running out of mana so much faster than other healers do.  It’s tempting to try and fix this by pouring on the Spirit, thanks to talents like Meditation and Holy Concentration that have made us unusually dependent on it (or more so than other healers are).  But there is such a thing as too much Spirit.  It may not even have anything to do with your attributes.  You could be having to work harder because someone else on your healing roster isn’t bringing their A game every night or you may have people in the raid who aren’t reacting to environmental damage like they need to and so you’re having to heal more to keep up.  Adding more Spirit to the mix is not always the answer.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount of Spirit that I can tell you to shoot for or that I can say is too much.  It really has to be something that you get a feel for and that you just know when you have reached that point.  I always compare it to those classic spy movies where someone is trying to come up with the combination to the safe by putting their ear up to the door while turning the dial.  They turn it ever so slowly and keep their ears open for that very subtle click that will let them know when they have found the right number or numbers to crack open the safe.  That’s what you need to do.  Watch closely how your mana bar goes up and down during an encounter and how your cooldowns and the cooldowns from others affect it.  Look at how much mana you have left over when the fight ends.  Eventually you will tap into that sixth sense of just knowing where your regen is at and whether or not you could stand to have more or less of it.

 

They don’t commit to using Lightwell.
Whether we like it or not, Lightwell has become one of the defining spells for a holy priest, if not the most defining spell for us.  It used to be Circle of Healing, then Guardian Spirit was our trademark for a while, and now it’s Lightwell.  Never has a spell been so misunderstood as Lightwell has.

The problem with Lightwell is that it is not only as good as the people who have to actively make the choice to click it, but it is also only as good as the priest who is responsible for dropping it.  I have come across very few people in my travels who actively dislike Lightwell or who try to go out of their way to not use it.  Most people would love to use it, if it was dropped anywhere remotely near them, or if they knew that you were dropping it in the first place.  This is where you come in.

The first thing I can suggest, with regards to how to get the most use out of your Lightwell is to know the fight ahead of time.  There are some fights where it will pay to drop a Lightwell at the start of the pull or slightly before it and then there are fights where you may not want to drop it until the middle or even close to the end of the encounter.  Knowing when your Lightwell will get used the most or when it will be most in demand is very important.  The people that you raid with have to feel a pressing need to click on it and if there isn’t enough damage going out to put them in danger they are not going to use it.

Second, you need to think about where you are going to drop it.  While you can click the Lightwell from a good bit of distance away, that doesn’t mean that you should drop it at the farthest point of the room.  You also don’t want to drop it on top of the raid, where it may be hard to target the Lightwell and click on it with a bunch of bodies and other graphics in the way.  If you notice that people aren’t using it, feel free to ask them where they would like it dropped or where it would be easier for them to use it. Try to meet them halfway on this one.

Like any cooldown, it helps if people know that you are using it.  I use a now out of date addon called Raeli’s Spell Announcer to let the raid know that I have dropped a Lightwell, but there are several other addons that do the same thing, or you can even make a simple macro that will do the trick.  Be careful not to make your announcement too obnoxious or people will equate your Lightwell with that and they may not click on it, simply just to spite you.

An acceptable Lightwell announcement would be:

 

“A wild [Lightwell] appears.”

 

An unacceptable one would be:

 

“This is George.  He is my Lightwell.  George is currently holding 15 charges of holy healing goodness for you and will be eagerly awaiting for you to use him for another 2 minutes and 41 seconds.”

 

You also want to make sure that you are not keeping track of who is using the Lightwell openly in raid.  There are some addons that will tell you how many charges are left, who is using them, etc.  It’s fine if you want to keep track of this information for yourself, but do not broadcast this in party or raid chat.  Remember, you have to make people associate the Lightwell with something positive and overbearing raid announcements will not help your cause any.

Along with creating a macro or using an addon to let people know that you have cast Lightwell, it helps to say in Vent or Mumble (or whichever program that you use) that you are doing this and where you have placed it.  For example, I may say “Lightwell on the left,” or “Lightwell in the back.”  Again, keep it short and sweet.

If at the end of the day you have truly done everything you can to train your raid how to use the Lightwell and they are still not meeting you halfway on this, then you can feel free to /spit on them and tell us how terrible they are in Trade chat or on the PlusHeal boards.  We’ll understand.

 

Proud

27 Nov

I’m not proud of the time that I have spent in Cataclysm.

I’m not proud of the fact that I went through three different guilds, to get to the one that I’m currently in and that I don’t know how long I will remain with this one, either.  I’m not proud of the fact that there’s a huge three month gap in my activity, due to burnout, which led me to try other games and to pursue other avenues.  I’m not proud of the fact that I don’t have a single Al’akir or Conclave of Air kill on my record, despite the fact that I’ve spent countless nights wiping on said bosses, but missed out on the kill as a result of poorly timed nights requested off.

I can do better than that.  I know that I can.

Last night, I attended my 10 year high school reunion, and I came back home with a lot on my mind.  It was midnight and I needed something to do, something to take my mind off what I was going through, so I clicked on a link that someone posted on my guild’s forums and found a documentary called “Race To World First.”  It was an hour long film, which documented the competition that exists between guilds like Blood Legion, Premonition, Method, Ensidia, etc. and what goes on behind the computer screen, as well.  As I lay in bed, with a carton of milk and a package of cupcakes by my side, I thought to myself “I could do that.”  Then I asked myself, “Why aren’t I doing that?”

I don’t presume to think that I’m “good” enough to ever get into a guild like one of those featured in the movie, but I definitely think I could shoot for something higher than I have been.  I admit that I wanted something casual, to close out Cataclysm, simply because I missed too much and I wouldn’t have any legs to stand on if I tried to shoot for something better.  But, I think when Mists of Pandaria comes around that I want to go for something bigger.  I would like to be in a high ranking guild, somewhere between the top 250 to 500 range.  That’s the goal that I have decided to set for myself.  Bear in mind, that I am technically in a guild that meets that criteria, but I’m not part of the group that actually got there.  Right now, I’m just a casual ranked member, and I’m OK with that.  Come Mists of Pandaria, though, all bets are off.

I realize that I have a lot of work to do and a lot of time before I can make this dream a reality.  Here are a few of the immediate things that come to mind, in terms of things I could stand to work on:

 

1)  A profession change.  Most of the cool kids don’t keep a gathering profession and a crafting profession.  I would probably have to swap out my Herbalism for something else.  As long as I have an alt that can farm the herbs needed to level Alchemy, I should be OK.  But what profession would I take in its place?  Inscription?  Enchanting?  I don’t have it in me to level Jewelcrafting, so that’s out.  But I would need something else, to squeeze that extra drop of performance out of myself and my character.

2)  A change in perspective.  If I’m going to shoot for something loftier than what I’m doing right now, I have to be more flexible.  I can’t just be a holy priest or a discipline priest.  I have to be a healing priest.  I can still have my preferences and have that spec which I enjoy playing more, but I have to be willing to do what’s best for the fight and for the raid, as needed.  I would like to think I’m already making progress with this, but I still have a lot to learn with getting as comfortable with discipline as I am with holy.

3)  A change in attitude.  Ah, the big one.  I admit that I can be a handful and that I tend to jump to conclusions.  I admit that I don’t always know when to keep my mouth shut.  I work hard, I play hard, but my attitude and people’s perception of me always seems to get in the way of that.  That can’t happen if I’m going to try and hang with a different crowd of people than I’m used to.  It has to be about the work, about the performance.  I can’t let my opinions or my snark get in the way of that.  I can still be myself, but I have to rein it in a little bit.

 

I know I have a long road ahead of me, before I get to the point where I feel I’m ready to do this, and that’s even if a guild is gracious enough to see the potential in me to take me on board.  A number of stars are going to have to align for this all to work out, but I really want it and I’m determined to make it happen.  I want better for myself and I know that I can do it.  My mind is made up and now I have to start plotting out my course.

Who’s with me?

Baggage

6 Nov

Since I’ve started playing World of Warcraft again, I have been spending quite a bit of time in Randoms.  I did them the first two weeks that I came back, so I could make sure that I was Valor Point capped, because I wasn’t raiding and had no other way to earn those points, otherwise.  I am doing them now that my priest is raiding, because I have recently dusted off my level 82 shaman and have been having an absolute blast healing with her in Randoms and leveling that way.

You start to pick up on trends or interesting personality types when you do a lot of Randoms.  You notice people who queue for one boss, usually for loot or to complete a quest, who then leave once said boss is defeated.  You notice the endless string of ret paladins and enhancement shaman, who seem to require more healing than the tank does and who are absolutely unapologetic about their recklessness.  You also notice a startling lack of confidence in the majority of tanks and even healers that you find yourself running with.

I’ve said it once before, but I look at Randoms like I do one night stands or even relationships.  They remind me of one night stands in the sense that most people tend to take part in them solely to get their immediate needs met, they usually remain very distant and try not to get too attached to others in the process, and they tend to leave once they get what they want.  You’re not proud of the fact that you do Randoms, but you do them anyway.  You understand that Randoms are often the fastest way to get what you want, without a lot of hassle.  You may prefer to do them with people that you know or you may not be too particular and you will settle for running them with strangers.  Just like a one night stand.

Where Randoms start to remind me of relationships is when you’re dealing with these players who seem to queue up for these types of runs with little or no confidence.  You have the healer teleport in and they usually say something along the lines of “I’m new at this. I’m really sorry to put you through this and you’re going to hate by the time this is over.”  That doesn’t make a very good impression.  You haven’t said anything to give this person the idea that they are terrible or that they’re going to be terrible and their confidence is already at their lowest point.  You think to yourself, “Who could have said something or done something to this person to make them feel this way?”  After inspecting their gear and talents, you realize that everything on that end looks fine.  So, what’s their issue?  The issue is that they have baggage, not unlike the kind you find from people that you may be attempting to have a relationship with.

The other day, I had a reasonably cute guy approach me on the bus and start talking to me.  His name was Chris and before Chris could even get into his attempt to try and woo me, he already started insulting himself and wondering why someone like me would ever be interested in someone like him.  I don’t think I’m that much of a catch (see, it’s contagious) and I did nothing but listen to him, with an open mind and an open heart and he was already convinced that I would never be interested in him and that he was making a terrible mistake.  I took a moment to ease his fears and to boost his confidence and that’s when Chris really started to open up to me.  Hours later, I had learned that the reason he was so self-conscious was because his last girlfriend of five years had basically hated everything about him and told him this on a regular basis.  She hated that he smoked cigarettes, she thought he was too skinny, she didn’t like that he wore glasses instead of contacts, etc.

So, even though I did nothing wrong and I said nothing to give Chris any indication that I wasn’t interested in him or that I thought he was unattractive, I was having to clean up the mess that someone else made.  I was having to re-assure him that I did think he was funny and cute and that I would like to have coffee again with him sometime.  I didn’t ask for any of this, but here I was having to undo the damage that someone else did.  That’s not very fair to me.  The same could be said for Randoms.  Because other people told that healer that they were crap and that they couldn’t heal, your group is stuck having to deal with the consequences of that.  You now have a healer who believes that they are awful and you will most likely spend the rest of your run having to talk them off a cliff and worrying that they are going to bail at the first sign of trouble because they are convinced that it is their fault.

This happens with tanks, too.  I was running Blackrock Caverns on my shaman and we wiped on some trash that was just before the last boss.  I think it was just a matter of a pat that we anticipated being nowhere near us getting closer than we realized.  Nobody was to blame, per se.  It happens.  The tank says, “It was me.  I’m sorry.  I’m going to go now.  I’m sure you’ll find a better tank.  Good luck.”  We didn’t say anything.  We didn’t assign blame.  We didn’t berate anyone for their mistake.  We just released and started to run back.  Yet, somehow, somewhere, this tank got the idea that we thought he was terrible and that we hated him for what happened.  This tank came with his own set of baggage that neither of us in the party were equipped to take off of his hands.  No amount of healing or DPS was going to make that situation better.  You could even say we were doomed from the start.

So, what can we do about this?  Easy.  Have a little patience.  I’m surprisingly mellow in Randoms.  I don’t queue for them, if I’m in a hurry.  I don’t worry about what my repair bills are going to look like.  I don’t worry about using my trinkets like I should be.  I just don’t think of those things.  I go into them with a positive attitude and I try to make the best of them, however I can.  If someone doesn’t know the fight, I try my best to explain it to them.  If someone is standing in bad, I ask them not to, sometimes repeatedly.  I really try and do everything I can in Randoms, before I lose my cool and say something stupid or before I port out without warning.  I do this because I remember that healer and that tank and others just like them.  I don’t want to be the one that gives them that complex, that makes them feel like they’re “less than.”  I think of things like that and I don’t think other people really do.

They don’t realize that there is a chance that the next group that tank queues up for and maybe even the group after that are going to have to clean up the mess that you made by tearing them a new one, when they may or may not have deserved it.  You can be honest without having to be mean.  If someone genuinely is performing poorly and you have tried to be as nice as you can be, then you are well within your rights to say something.  But, you’re not well within your rights to be an asshole.  One does not necessarily lead to another.  I can’t help but wonder if this is why running for Randoms has become the chore that it is now.  Maybe it was this snowball effect of people being quite unkind to one another, day in and day out which has led us to the current sad state of things.

Think about that the next time you have the urge to go off on someone who may or may not know any better and who is just trying to do the best that they can or the next time someone joins your group who doesn’t seem to have the most confidence in the world.  You may not have asked to be put in the situation of having to do the right thing, but you’re there now.  Try not to add any more bags to the inevitable amount of baggage which they or you are probably still carrying around.