May 2010

So, I feel I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately. Real life has kept me busy, and when I have had some spare time, it’s been spent playing rather than writing. I intend to get things back on track shortly.

To that end, here’s this week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Getting Ready for Cataclysm, in which Nexdominus over at There Will Be Blood asks: What are you doing to get ready for Cataclysm?

Honestly, Sindei’s more or less ready for Cataclysm. In fact, I’d have to say this is the most ready I’ve been for an expansion. In the past — as I’ve mentioned — I’ve largely treated the game as a solo-player game, albeit in a social environment. When leveling is your game, there’s not a lot to being “ready” for an expansion, other than being at level cap, I suppose.

Sindei is level-capped, with her professions maxed out. She’s well-geared, and raiding end-game content. Of course there’s always better gear to be had, and obviously I want the raid team to get an Arthas kill or two in before Cataclysm, so it’s not as if I’m a victim of the nothing-to-do, pre-expansion lull I hear so much about. I do want to finish my Long Strange Trip achievement for my 310% flying and garish purple drake, but all I can do about that is wait for those last two holidays to roll around. The one niggling little loose end is my fishing skill, which I should really finish leveling up.

Ginnger, on the other hand, has more to get done. She has mostly respectable resto gear by now, so I want to get that rounded out. Then I’ll work on my elemental set, which is suitable for heroics but still has some glaring weak spots. The jewelcrafting dailies remain a major priority. I won’t have all the recipes by the time Cataclysm drops (or ever, probably), but I’d like to collect the major ones at least.  I have lots left to do for the Argent Tournament as well. The goal there is to be able to buy that pony for my Argent Squire (so handy!), so that means going for Exalted Argent Champion of the Horde. Right now, I’m exalted with… oh, right: NO ONE. So there’s that.

Marsha, the rogue, has nothing to do. She remains in retirement, coming out mostly to pick flowers, transmute gems, and craft flasks. I go nuts and run a heroic on her from time to time, but nothing to write home about. Especially with her still decked out in her T7.5!

I play around with the idea of leveling my druid, but I’m not very motivated about it. I rolled an Alliance toon, just to see how the other side lives, but I doubt I’ll spend much time there either. I have my little to-do list to work on, and until Cataclysm drops, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

There is one more thing, that I didn’t really think I’d get done before Cataclysm… got my Black War Bear last night!



My UI. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Spring is here, and you know what that means? Spring cleaning! No, not of my house, silly. Of my UI and addons.

Two things brought on the remodel/cleanup. One was the Healer’s UI article in the World of Warcraft Magazine, and the other was the fact that some of my FuBar addons weren’t working properly, probably because FuBar is no longer being developed or supported.

So here’s my revamped UI, starting at the top left corner and moving clockwise around the screen:

Bazooka: The bar across the very top is Bazooka, my FuBar replacement. Actually, it seems easier to deal with than FuBar, so I’m happy with it thus far. From here I have easy access to most of my other addons, including Reagent Restocker, Bartender, Omen, Bagnon, etc. Bazooka also displays my durability, gold, friends list, and which spec I’m in.

VuhDo: This is the colorful grid in the upper center of my screen.

Most of the boxes are the class colors of the players in my raid, but they change colors in certain cases, like if they have a magical debuff I could remove. Icons on the little boxes indicate a variety of things: the HoTs my druid co-healer has on the raid; my Prayer of Mending,  currently on the DK; and Divine Aegis and Weakened Soul on our pally tank. The DK also has a Renew on him, indicated by the green bar on that box, while the blue bar on the tank shows that he has Grace. The column of blue boxes next to the raid panels are the pets. Yes, I heal pets from time to time.

SexyMap: In the corner is my SexyMap. Sexy, no? I like the clean look, and I like the way it handles the minimap buttons, which I have set to show only on mouseover. Most of the buttons that used to be on my minimap are now on my Bazooka bar anyway, and SexyMap makes it easy to hide them. It also plays nicely with all my other addons, so I like that.

VuhDo, again: Below my minimap you can see VuhDo’s buffminder. This helps me track buffs on me and my party or raid members. Fortitude, Divine Spirit, Shadow Protection, and Inner Fire: everyone’s looking good! If one or more raid members are missing buffs, the buffminder turns red; if they’re just running out of time or charges, it’s yellow. I just click to rebuff. It’s smart, so it uses my individual buffs if only one or two people are missing the buffs. but it uses the group buffs if more than two are buffless.

Omen: I have the Omen Threat Meter open in the lower right-hand corner.

Bartender 4: At the very bottom, you see action bars I’ve set up with Bartender 4.  I like the smaller, uncluttered look of the action bars. I also like the fact that you can hide bars under certain circumstances; for instance, I have one bar set up with professions, hearthstone, my mount macro–all the stuff I use frequently that can’t be used during combat. So it hides during combat, of course! I’ve set up my reputation bar at the very bottom so I can see where I am in grinding Ashen Verdict rep. You don’t see many healing spells because I have those all set up to mouse clicks with VuhDo, so I just don’t need them on my action bars.

Power Auras:  in the center, you see a glowing aura around me and a bright little halo above my head. This is Power Auras, which I really love. It can show buffs, debuffs, cooldowns … it has so many uses, I’ve barely scratched the surface myself. The aura around me here lets me know that Penance is off cooldown and is ready for use. The one above my head lets me know that my Talisman of Resurgence has procced, so I have the Hospitality buff, increasing my spellpower.

Other addons I use, which don’t necessarily show up in my UI:

AchievementSnap: Takes a screenshot whenever I get an achievement. I installed it just recently so I would have a screenshot when Ginnger hit 80.

Ackis Recipe List: Tells me what recipes I’m missing for my professions and where to get them.

Bagnon: All-in-one bag, with a search function; tracks alt inventory and bank so I can see what I have where. I can even look at my bank without being at the bank, which is awesome.

Deadly Boss Mods, Recount: C’mon, you know what these do. I keep meaning to give Skada a try for dps/healing meters. Also, my raid team uses the Ni Karma system, so I also have that addon for tracking karma and managing rolls.

DualSpecDespammer: Hides all that “ability learned” spam when I change specs.

Gatherer, GatherMate, and Routes: Sets up routes to cover all the gathering nodes in a zone. Sindei doesn’t do any gathering professions, but I do use Routes on both Ginnger and Marsha.

Livestock: helps manage my mounts and companion pets. Set it to random, set a favorite, assign certain mounts to certain zones, take some mounts or pets out of circulation altogether. I’ve been trying some other addons for this recently, because Livestock doesn’t handle the XR3 Touring Rocket mount properly, but I really haven’t liked any of them that well. I just hope the Livestock developer will fix the issue soon.

Mapster: A simple map addon with coordinates, instance maps you can access anywhere, and a few other features.

NeonChat: just handy and fun and reminds me what channel I’m typing in. “Prettiness rules OK!”

Outfitter: Sets up outfits for different needs: Discipline, Holy, Shadow, Fishing, Naked Mailbox Dancing….

Prat: a chat mod I picked up recently. I like it, but I wish the memory footprint was a little smaller. I’m not yet convinced it’s the right solution, but it’s highly configurable, and I like a lot of what it does. I’m positively addicted to having private channels be sticky.

Reagent Restocker: Auto-sells gray items, auto-buys shopping list items (Devout Candles, Honeymint Tea, etc.).

Warcraft Instant Messenger (WIM): Instant messenger for Warcraft. Breaks /tells out into their own windows for easier tracking of conversations. No more embarrassing mistells! I understand some of WIM’s functionality will be coming to the game’s native UI in patch 3.3.5.

As I posted last week, I’ve been pretty focused lately on getting Ginnger up to 80.

I’m not a person who has typically had a lot of alts. I mean, I do have alts, but they tend to be lower level alts that I rolled when I was bored. I just goof around on them for a while, then I tend to abandon them around level 20 or so, though a couple made it to the early 40s.

Sindei was one of those alts, languishing at level 24 for ages. Once I picked her back up and got her to 80, she became my new main. I like Ginnger plenty, but have no plans to abandon Sindei. I enjoy shaman healing, but I find that my priest just has more tools and I still love healing with her. Maybe I’m at the point where I just have two mains.

That said, Sindei does see considerably less action these days. She’s already well-geared, but Ginnger has jewelcrafting dailies, rep to grind, and gear to gather. Ginnger’s dailies have taken priority: if I can only do one thing a day online, it’s the jewelcrafting daily. If I have time to run a random, it’s on Ginnger first. Of course, most days I have time to do a lot more than a couple of dailies, but I usually try to do those things first, just in case. Even Sindei’s daily randoms–which I used to log in for religiously — have taken a lower priority. For one thing, I am getting Emblems of Frost from ICC, so I don’t have to rely on just the daily. Besides, she has the T10 2-piece bonus and I’m n0t in such a rush to drop the T9 2-piece bonus, since I like it better than the T10 4-piece.

I love raiding on Sindei, and I love having the haste and the throughput to handle difficult healing situations (usually). But I’m also having a great time running heroics on Ginnger. Not only does Ginnger still need gear, she’s made heroics fun again. I thought I was sick of running heroics. It turns out I was just sick of sleeping through heroics on Sindei. So while I still think of Sindei as my main, and I’ll keep playing and raiding with her, it’s fun to be gearing up a second main. And I should think two mains would be plenty.

Though I did just buy the leather caster heirlooms and an heirloom staff for my level 43 druid….

I haven’t posted this week because I have been focused on one thing, and one thing only:

Eight days, 16 hours, 10 minutes, and 37 seconds.

(By the way, that guild chat comment has nothing to do with me leveling!)

“So I was talking with Eda on twitter tonight and she mentioned that she’s had 4 raids in the last 2 weeks get canceled. And that got me wondering, what do people do when their raid is canceled?” — This Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Deynor of Swift Retribution.

Everyone has canceled raid nights from time to time. Sometimes, it just can’t be helped.

Of course, I have things I like to do when a raid is canceled. But in thinking about this topic, what interested me more was the infrequency with which my current team actually cancels raids. We’ve been raiding together for a little more than six months, and I can count the canceled nights on one hand.

I think the last one may have been a couple of months ago, on a patch night, due to server instability. Even then, as I recall, we still hung together long enough to get the weekly raid quest done (a big priority for us on Tuesdays). We also had a canceled raid on Christmas Day, but of course, that was more of a planned night off than a last-minute cancellation. I think there may have been another time, too, when circumstances  had about half the raid unable to show up, so I just called the whole thing a few days ahead of time. If it’s not last-minute, does it still count?

Why doesn’t my team cancel raids? We’re a casual team, but contrary to what some folks seem to think, “casual” doesn’t mean sloppy, unreliable, or uncommitted. Actually, I think our casual nature may be part of why our raids don’t get canceled. Everyone is there only because they really want to be there. We’re there to have a good time and to hang out with each other. It’s low pressure and fun, so people show up.

Of course, sometimes people have other things come up. Their internet connection goes down. Something in their real life comes up. These things happen. But my team marches gaily forward! We pick up substitute players if we’re missing some of our usual core.  Sometimes, we just change plans our plans a bit.

One night when something went wonky with the raid we were working on — I don’t remember what exactly happened — we broke into two five-man teams and did the new ICC heroics. We all stayed on Vent together and chatted as we went along, but our raid night wasn’t canceled, per se. Another time, we were missing a couple of players on a night we were scheduled to work on downing Yogg-Saron. Reluctant to drag an outsider into our wipefest, we picked up a player and farmed ICC rep instead. Some raids might be canceled when the leader can’t be there, but  I have capable, trustworthy co-leads who take over on those rare occasions I have to miss a night.

As for those rare occasions that we do have to cancel, I may work on leveling any alts I’m working on at the time, or I may tend to some dailies on my main. I might sign into a bank alt and take care of auction house business. I might work on this blog, or maybe sign into the Starcraft II Beta and get my ass handed to me yet again. Most likely, though, I’ll head back to the living room, to sit and knit — I’m currently working on a pair of socks — and watch a little TV with my husband.

When last we left our heroes, Sindei had helped to conquer Yogg-Saron, and Ginnger was level 70 and had gone back in Azeroth to level mining and jewelcrafting.

Our raid team is progressing nicely through ICC. We had a little trouble with Saurfang at the end of the Lower Spire, maybe  because we were three-healing the encounter to be safe. As soon as we tried two-healing it, we won the dps race and got Saurfang down. On Friday night we spent some time in the Plague Wing. Festergut didn’t give us too much trouble, but just to be a jerk, he dropped druid healing gear on a night when our druid healer was uncharacteristically absent. Rotface, on the other hand, proved a little more of a problem. I look forward to three-healing that encounter next week, because I think a third healer would help us out on it.There’s an awful lot of damage flying around in there!

In the meantime, to break things up, our team likes to do an off-night activity every other week. I took a poll of our team, and despite my efforts to institute bi-weekly Celestial Steed Parades through Dalaran, it seems everyone else wants to work on Trial of the Grand Champion instead. So we’ll take a swing at that on Tuesday.

After a lot of mining and a lot of spending gold at the Auction House, Ginnger’s mining and jewelcrafting are both leveled up to a reasonable skill for her level. Mining is at 440-ish and jewelcrafting at 430 or so. So at least she can mine where she’s leveling and get the JC daily done every day. I try to get her daily random dungeon done every day, though if push comes to shove, Sindei’s takes precedence. I got Ginnger to 74 last night, so she’ll be questing in Zul’Drak for a little while.

And I don’t want to forget about Children’s Week! Sindei wasn’t my main at this time last year, so she hadn’t done any of this achievement. I grabbed her a couple of orphans from Orgrimmar and Shattrath — sadly, the Dalaran quest seems to be bugged for anyone who did it when it was first released. Everything in the For the Children achievement is pretty easy, with the glaring exception of The School of Hard Knocks. Lucky for me, Day 1 of Children’s Week seems to be an unofficial interfaction cooperation day. Of the four battleground achievements needed, I was able to get three in battlegrounds where Alliance and Horde players worked together to get each other the needed achievements. I’m always glad to see people work together for a common goal. My one “real” achievement was capping the flag in Eye of the Storm, just moments before we were soundly defeated.

After wrapping up Hail to the King, Baby tonight, Sindei is proudly wearing her Matron title and is one step closer to her Violet Proto-Drake. I’m not sure how much of Children’s Week I’ll do with Ginnger, though I did pick up the Children’s Week quest in Dalaran for her. I generally side with the Oracles, but just to try something different this year, Ginnger has a little Wolvar companion in tow.