March 2010


What if you were given the chance to start over completely in World of Warcraft? What if you lost your account, and Blizzard offered you the level 80 of your choice (or, if you love leveling, you may start at level 1). Would you stay with your current class? Race? Faction? And what would you do with this brand-new toon? PvE? PvP? Troll trade chat in Dalaran?

If Blizz suddenly offered me a brand-new level 80 for some reason — because my account was lost or hacked or Chris Metzen just decided I was the hotness — I do believe I would just keep my priest. I know I actually haven’t written a lot about my priest here yet, but I really love playing her. She has two — count ’em, TWO — healing trees to choose from. In fact, I recently dropped my Shadow spec and went back to Holy as my second spec. I wanted some more options for healing and there are some things to love about a Holy spec (i.e., Circle of Healing, a kick-ass Renew, Body & Soul). I’ve been running five-mans as Holy to keep fresh on playing it, because I think Disc is still my stronger raiding spec for most fights.

I probably wouldn’t change race, because I really like the trolls. They’re tall and interesting and the females can stand up straight and Berserking is really quite awesome. So no, I can’t say I would pick a new race. Certainly I wouldn’t change my faction. For the Horde, baby! And if I’m taking my priest back, I definitely want her at 80 already.

All that said, I do love to try out new classes. I’ve rolled every class in the game at this point, at least to give them a try. And I have, in fact, started over several times.

My first real main was my hunter. I loved having a pet to help me solo anything. My bear, Treadwell, was my faithful companion, keeping mobs off me while I killed them. It was easy mode.

I started fooling around with a rogue alt soon after Burning Crusade came along. I loved getting the jump on my enemies, stealthing up behind the unsuspecting and picking their pockets before swiftly slaughtering them. I could sneak around mobs I didn’t feel like fighting. I stealthed my way through the pet quests in Blackrock Mountain, and snuck past enemies to get my Elder achievement at the lunar festival. My other toons had to fight their way through, but not Marsha. She just slipped past. It was this character I took up to level 80 and discovered raiding with.  The hunter remains on an abandoned server, stuck at 66, probably forever.

I had some other alts: a warlock and a warrior and a druid… but none were as much fun as my rogue. I started a priest, but it was brutal. I died all the time. Leveling was taking forever because I was always on a corpse run. I dumped her at level 24.

Ha! I picked her up again, months and months later. I got her a pair of heirloom shoulders and learned to be a lot more careful with my pulls. I tried out some healing in low-level dungeons and while it made me anxious, I also kind of liked it. Marsha was still my main, but I was liking Sindei more and more. I knew Marsha would always be my main, but I was spending a lot of time on Sin, especially once I hit 80 and wanted to gear her up. Before I knew it, Sindei was definitely my new main, and Marsha only came out for farming.

Lately, as you know, I’ve been leveling an Ele/Resto shaman. I wonder sometimes if I am starting over again. I spend a lot of my spare time leveling Gin, though I never neglect Sindei’s daily frost emblem run. I’m healing lots of PuGs with my shammy and enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a different healing style, but I like it. I can’t say I like it better than priest healing, but I do like it. I don’t think I would give up my priest — but I guess I won’t know till I get there.

This week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Pieces at Blasting Away.

Ah, the ever-popular Circle of Healers. The rules say I’m supposed to link whoever tagged me, but of course, I’m brand new to blogging, so no one has tagged me. Still, I’m pretty sure that at this point, it’s actually WoW blogging law for healers to answer the questionnaire, so I presume (and hope!) that I don’t have to actually be invited to this party. Of course, the whole thing started with the fabulous Miss Medicina, so I’ll just link to her.

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Sindei, Discipline priest (with Holy tendencies)
  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) 10-man raiding
  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why? Penance, for sure. It’s my go-to big heal. It’s immediate, for one thing, so it gets someone out of danger fast. It hits three times: that’s three good doses of healing, three chances to proc pretty bubbles and Inspiration, and a full stack of Grace. Plus, have you seen it?? It’s awesome! I also love Binding Heal, because it means I don’t have to choose between my own life and someone else’s.
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Greater Heal. It’s too. damn. slow. Besides, I have Penance!
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? I don’t mean to be obvious, but I’m going to have to say mitigation. Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, Pain Suppression… it’s all about reducing or stopping incoming damage. Not to say I’m not actually healing, of course — I do plenty of that. I can heal a single target very well, but I also am good at spamming bubbles across the raid.
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? Again with the obvious:  instant and group heals. I have Prayer of Healing, but even with Borrowed Time, it’s kinda slow. And I wish I could do something more than Shield and Renew on the run. Particularly since Renew is not that strong for Disc.
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Well, I don’t 25-man raid, but I would love a chance to try out this tank healing we are supposed to be so good at. Just focus on the one guy taking all the hits. Sounds fun. In reality, I raid 10s, and we generally 2-heal. We don’t do assignments; we just work together to keep the raid up.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Druid healers are teh awesome! (Disclaimer: This reply has nothing to do with the fact that my main raid co-healer is a tree.) Seriously, though, I think a druid and a disc priest are great together. I can bubble folks my partner has HoTs on, protecting them from further damage while his HoTs heal them up. The battle rez is awesome, too, since sometimes I die. Plus they’re so cute, running around flailing their branches!
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? Other Disc priests. I’ve healed with several, and it’s fine and all, but it’s so much better to have a variety of abilities. I also find myself to be too judgey about the way they’re healing.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer? Sniping my druid partner’s heals, because I can’t handle seeing the low health bars on VuhDo while his HoTs are working. This leads to wasted mana and overhealing for him. It’s clearly a trust issue, but it’s not him — it’s me.
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? Dear DPS: Please don’t try to rush the instance. The tank does not need to pull faster in the CoS gauntlet. If he can’t hold the mobs, or I can’t keep him up, you will be a smear on the floor. Let us set the pace. Also, if you get aggro, please run to the tank. If you run away, he can’t peel the mob and I can’t keep you up. Furthermore, please don’t tell me how to do my freaking job! What you think is a mistake may not be, and if I did make a mistake, believe me, I’m already cursing myself out about it. Finally, my toon has a name, and it is not “Healer!” Love, Sin
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Absolutely. I love my priest.
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Is everyone alive at the end? This is the only yardstick that matters. Meters are evil, but I used to play DPS, so sometimes I can’t help myself. I do log our raid nights to World of Logs and I like to see what spells I’m using the most, and where I’m overhealing.
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? That bubbles are going to interfere with rage generation (yes, still); that I can’t raid heal in Disc.
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? Use Binding Heal. It’s ftw. Oddly, I sometimes see new Disc priests being stingy with bubbles, too. Give them away! Give them to everyone! And don’t forget to use Pain Suppression and Power Infusion. Your group will love you.
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)? They would see my itchy Renew finger. I know Disc renew is fairly weak, but I just can’t stop myself. And my Renews are mainly overheals too. In part because of the nature of HoTs, and in part because I get too nervous to give them time to work. They would also see lots of bubbles. On everyone. All the time.
  • Haste or Crit and why? Haste to a point, then Crit, Crit, Crit. My stats are fairly well balance, I think. I’d love a little bit more Crit for my Disc spec, for the bigger heals and the lovely Divine Aegis procs. I’m good on Haste for Disc, but would really like more Haste for my Holy spec.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least? Tree healing is a little mysterious to me, but I heal with a druid, so I understand it better than I used to. I’m leveling a shaman, so I understand what they’re doing more too. I guess that leaves Paladin — I hear their Bacon of Light is delicious, though!
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? VuhDo, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. As for macros, I keep Inner Focus macro’d to Divine Hymn — and yes, I use it. It took some practice to remember to use it, but it’s a great big free group heal. Definitely worth using. I also keep my trinkets and Berserking macro’d to Prayer of Healing to give it extra Haste and power.
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? In general, I go for a more balanced approach. I am focused on getting more spellpower at this point though, because I’d really love stronger throughput.

Now the rules say I have to tag someone, so I pick Talfrund of Leveling Resto, who was kind enough to leave a comment on my humble little beginner blog. I know you’re still leveling, Talfrund, but even so… tag!

One of the things about Warcraft that keeps the game so engaging is the sense of awe the virtual world is capable of inspiring. Maybe that sounds way too geeky, but really, it’s a part of what’s kept me (and so many other people) playing for these five years. Honestly, when I started, I never expected to play for this long.

This is where Night Elves live.

I may be a Horde loyalist now, but my first two characters were Alliance. First I rolled a Dwarf paladin, but I didn’t get very far before my son deleted the toon for some unknown reason. Next I rolled a Night Elf druid, and I was just enchanted by the beauty of the starting area. The greens and purples of the trees, the glow of the moonwells, the gigantic treants. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the game was. It was part of what really got me hooked.

Onoma, Dark Portal

It's all true: I once played a hunter.

The expansions, too, have brought me a sense of awe. The first time my main stood in front of the Dark Portal, preparing to enter a new world, it was a moment filled with portent. The portal was huge and mysterious; what would this new world hold? I paused to grab a screenshot and savor the moment of wondering. And stepping through the portal did nothing to diminish my awe. In fact, I may have jumped a little in my seat, sure the huge demons in front of me were about to eat me alive.

It's on, Holmes!

Then there was my first time in Naxxramas. I was an absolute newcomer to raiding when Wrath was released. The 25 of us stepped into the instance, which seemed impossibly huge. I was wide-eyed, taking it all in when I heard my very first raid direction: do NOT kill Mr. Bigglesworth! Fighting alongside 24 other people was an amazing experience. The amount of coordination required was impressive. Watching Sapphiron’s bones levitate and swirl together into the giant dragon for the first time was simply amazing. And taking him down? It was my first big boss fight, and the joy and relief of getting the fight right, of doing my part… well, it was something I knew I wanted more of.

Every time I think I might get bored of the game, every time I think I’ve played it out, something new comes along. There’s some new beauty to discover, some new thing to accomplish, some new wonder. Yes, I know it’s a virtual world. But this world that Blizzard has created is art — it engages, astonishes, and awes. That’s what keeps me going back for more.

Thanks to Elsin of The View Through the Branches for suggesting the World of Awecraft as this week’s Blog Azeroth topic.

So I did get Ginnger to level 50 over the weekend, though I had to stay up into the wee hours Sunday night / Monday morning to do it. My husband is still at home recuperating from major surgery, so my usual play times are all askew… WoW interruptus, if you will.

For the last couple of levels I’ve been questing in Tanaris, partly because I’m also leveling my leather working and I need to farm Scorpid Scales for my Dragonscale Leatherworking quest.

I did pick up several PuGs last night to make 50. First I healed BRD, and the group was fine until the dps warrior rolled Need (and won) on the mail boots clearly meant for me! I asked, “A warrior needs spellpower and int?” To which he responded, “I like to sell them,” and promptly dropped group. These were BOP boots, of course, so he swiped my shoes so he could vendor them. What a tool!

Whatever… the next random was a repeat of BRD, so I got my boots at the end of that run. Then I dps’d for an awesome Sunken Temple run with two other shamans. (I’m really happier healing, but you can’t hog up all the fun, I guess.) Yes, there was also a tank and another dps, but that’s not important. What matters here is how shaman-tastic the ST run was. I dinged 50 right at the end of that run.

The trainer had lots of new spell ranks for me, of course, and Call of the Spirits, which lets me have a third set of totems to set down at once. So I  can now have three pre-picked sets to choose from on my totem bar, which is nice. But of course at 50, the juicy stuff is your 41-point talent: Earth Shield (for Resto) and Totem of Wrath (for Elemental). Woot!

My plan is to stay in Tanaris long enough to get those Scorpid Scales farmed. I want to get over to Un’Goro as well, since it’s right next door and I’d like to get started on my Venomhide Ravasaur quest. Besides, I like Un’Goro Crater: there’s a whole lotta quests so you can level up fast. And you know, I like the green areas with lots of vegetation and creatures to skin.

I know the Western Plaguelands are supposed to be a great place to level in the early 50s, but I don’t care for the Plaguelands much, so I may skip it. I’ll probably head over to Felwood instead, then up to Winterspring for the last couple of levels before Outland. If I can get a couple levels out of Winterspring, that is; I recall that there aren’t quite as many quests there as I would like.

After a semi-hiatus from WoW for the past few weeks, I’ve finally had time to pick up Gin again for leveling. Major surgery for the Hubby and a guest from out-of-town have kept me busy, so while I’ve managed to get on every day for Sindei’s two frost emblems, I haven’t had any time to level Ginnger. I did find some time this weekend to run her through a couple of levels (yay, rested bonus!) and dinged 46 last night.

She’s settled in Feralas for the time being. I forgot how much I like Feralas: it’s lush and green and there’s weather, and hippogryphs, and sprite darters, and lots and lots of quests. And I love leveling the shammy. It’s the only class I’d never even rolled until now. I wanted to level another healing class to try something different, even though I do love my priest. I have a level 42 druid, but the other main healer in my raid is a druid, so I thought something different would be good. I have a level 22 paladin, but I didn’t enjoy the class too much. That left a shaman, and the idea just hit me right. So I rolled a toon, sent her a bunch of heirlooms, and off we went.

I’m leveling Elemental, so my gear can double for Resto. I know people say Enhancement is faster, but I’ve found I don’t care much for melee anymore. I prefer to stand back from the action, where I can better see what the heck is going on. I dual specced at 40, though I could have waited until 60.

The shaman is certainly easier to level than the priest was. For one thing, Gin’s not nearly as squishy as Sindei was, and she can kill things reasonably fast. The heirloom experience bonus is fantastic, of course. Sindei had the shoulders, but Blizz didn’t give us the heirloom chest until Sindei was around 70. The levels really fly by on Ginnger with both. I enjoy the spells and the totems. The LB, LB, LB rotation isn’t the most exciting, but I shake things up with some frost or flame shocks. I’ve even been doing some AOE grinding… I drop mana spring and magma totems and just chain lightning and fire nova them all down, healing myself in between. It’s not the most mana-efficient way to do it, but it is fun.

Life remains a bit hectic right now, but things are settling down enough that I think I can get the show back on the road. Hitting 50 by next weekend seems like a reasonable goal.

In the spirit of getting this party started, I thought I’d post on one of Blog Azeroth’s shared topics: How will Cataclysm change your game*?

Like many others, I’m eagerly awaiting the Cataclysm expansion. I admit, I sat in front of my computer monitor during the BlizzCon DirecTV stream, hanging on Chris Metzen’s words during the opening ceremony, waiting for the announcement we were all waiting for. Right, so now you know what a geek I really am.

I’m excited for a lot of different things in Cataclysm: new races, revamped zones, Archeology, broader talent trees… all of it! But honestly, how can I predict how it will change my game? This question really made me consider the past more than the future. My game has already changed significantly since I started playing WoW, and I couldn’t have predicted any of it.

I started playing WoW several months after launch. New to MMOs, I didn’t really have a good understanding of the social aspects of the game. I’d played plenty of video games, particularly Civilization and the Warcraft series, but mainly in single player mode. I was unskilled against other players, and getting my butt handed to me on the regular did not seem an especially good time to me. I preferred a casual, low-pressure style of gaming.

Which is exactly why I played WoW as a solo questing game during Classic WoW (aka “Vanilla”) and most of Burning Crusade. To me, the leveling process was the game. I ran few dungeons, since groups were often hard to pull together and the instances seemed to take a lot of time. I had a husband and two children, any of whom might call me away from the computer at anytime, so my solo play style also suited my real life schedule.

Things began to change for me not long before the release of Wrath. My casual social guild on Sen’jin was increasingly involved in raiding, something I knew nothing about. They were spending lots of nights in Karazhan, and I got curious about this raiding business. For the first time, I educated myself about my class, the best ways to spec, what rotations to use, and how to get better gear.

Then Wrath dropped, and I never did get into Kara. Everyone wanted to run the new Wrath instances, so off I went, learning how to play as part of a group. I wasn’t part of our progression team in Naxx, but I did get in some occasional runs and had a blast. I got hooked on raiding,  and when it became clear that I was not on our raid leader’s usual pick list, I left my longtime guild to find one where I could be a part of a regular raid team. My game had definitely changed.

My search for a new guild took me to a large guild on another server, where there were plenty of folks running all levels of content. There were several 10- and 25-person raid teams, but none fit my schedule. I did a few pickup runs, but I still wanted a regular team. Finally, I decided to see if anyone else was in the same boat, and I started my own 10-man team. I’d planned to raid on my rogue, but we needed a second regular healer, so I started bringing my priest. I was a little nervous about raid healing, but I had such a great time that the rogue hasn’t seen a raid since. I dropped shadow and picked up discipline as my second spec. All heals, all the time, baby.

That was another serious game changer for me. As a rogue, soloing was easy. I could play as part of a group, but solo play was seldom a problem. Healing, on the other hand, is inherently a group style of play. Standing around healing yourself is not that much fun; you need others to play with. I can certainly get through my dailies in Disc spec, but the real fun only comes if I’m running with a group.

From dps to healer, from casual solo player to raid leader, it’s been a lot of fun discovering this game over the years. And now, here comes Cataclysm. I plan to level both Sindie and Ginger to 85, and I plan to level a goblin to at least 60 to experience the changes in the Old World. Those things aren’t really changes in my game play, though; I expect to continue doing just what I do now, more or less. But I never could have predicted the ways my game play has changed over the course of my game, so who knows? I can’t say how Cataclysm will change my game. I can only say that I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.

*edited to add that this Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Rilandune of Heroically Random!

I co-lead a cozy little 10-man raid team. Our guild is one of the largest WoW guilds, so there are plenty of raid teams. None fit my schedule and needs, however, so I threw caution to the winds and started my own team.

It’s a great group: friendly and relaxed, but generally good at what we do. We’re a bit behind the curve, but that’s OK with us. We’re there to have fun and see the content.  We clear ToC regularly and have cleared Ulduar through Mimiron. At this point, everyone is geared for ICC, but we want to finish Ulduar first.

Tuesday night was a perfect example of why I love raiding. The group was really on the ball. We had a couple of folks who were new to the team, but they listened to instructions and worked together. We one-shot everything in ToC (even Faction Champs!), with plenty of time left to head over to Ulduar to take down Mimiron on our saved raid ID. It was a pleasure to have such a smooth night of raiding.

Tomorrow night, we’ll have our first go against General Vezax. Wish us luck!

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