It’s clear that Blizzard loves me because the four talent previews they released today happen to be the only four classes I really care about: priest, shaman, druid, and even one for my poor abandoned rogue! Sweet!

A more detailed post about the Priest talent trees will be forthcoming, but I was just so darned excited about this news, I had to post a little something. Seriously, I cannot wait to play with these.

Play with the talent trees at Wowhead, or head to WoW.com for a talent rundown.

Jaedia at The Lazy Sniper suggested the current Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: What are you doing to conquer the pre-expansion slump?

So after saying just the other day that I wasn’t a victim of the pre-expansion slump, I realized it wasn’t true. Sure, I’m still working on progression in ICC, so I’m still seeing new fights, moving through content that’s fresh for me. An advantage of being slightly behind in progression is that while other raid teams and guilds have no new content to keep them motivated right now, my team is still excited about ICC.

But my team raids just six hours a week, and I play WoW around 25 hours a week. Which means I’m still seeing lots of content I’ve seen before. Which means I’m definitely feeling the pre-expansion slump. I’m ready for Azeroth to be new again. I want to roll new races, see new starting zones, revisit all the changed places in the Old World. I still love this game, but I’m ready for it to be new and exciting again.

In the meantime, though, I find myself with a little pre-Cataclysm to-do list to work on, so I do Ginnger’s dailies. I do Sindei’s dailies. I transmute something on Marsha. I’m not going to lie – it’s not that exciting.

So, what am I doing to keep my game going?

It’s always been my in-game goals that have kept me playing. Whether it’s a certain achievement I’m after, a piece of gear, or even a vanity pet, I enjoy working toward something. That certainly remains true with Ginnger, for whom I have plenty of goals. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been running regular Pit of Saron in hopes of getting a shield upgrade for Ginnger. PuG after PuG, the shield wouldn’t drop. When it did, a pally tank rolled against me and won it. Finally, I ran it with a few friends, and voila! The shield dropped. Clearly, friends are the key to success!

I’ve also been leveling my druid, Aless, though in a very casual way. I’m leveling her as boomkin. It’s not the fastest, I know, but I just wasn’t feeling it with the cat melee. Naturally, I want to try out druid healing — maybe it would teach me to trust druid HoTs in raid — but I’m not committed enough to leveling her to shell out for dual spec yet. Maybe around 60, if I stick with her.

The other thing I’ve been spending more time doing is playing the Auction House. Not in a super serious way or anything, but just to have more of a steady income. It’s really kind of entertaining, watching the prices, knowing what I’m willing to pay for materials, what kind of profit margin I’m getting. If prices on the items I’m selling drop too low, I hold off for another day and a better price.

I made some use of the remote Auction House feature during the Beta, but I haven’t subscribed to the pay service. Yet. It’s tempting, since I could then do some of my Auction House stuff from work. I like the remote Auction House interface, and whatever I do remotely means I spend less time in game doing business, and more time collecting Emblems of Triumph for Ginnger’s Elemental Tier 9 set. Of course, my Auctioneer data is all in-game, but I’m involved in only a few markets, so I pretty much know what I need to buy and sell for. Honestly, $2.99 is less than what I might spend on coffee on any given day, but we’ll see.

Ardol from The World of Warcraft Philosophized (one of my favorite blogs, by the way) suggested this week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic:

The idea of this shared topic is to write a post about your favorite something(s). Maybe it could be your favorite movies, favorite books, or if you wish to write about WoW, your favorite quests, favorite abilities, etc. I won’t limit this to being in just list form; if you wish to expound on one particular tv show or dungeon, go right ahead. The true purpose of this kind of topic would be to help your readers get to know you as a person, but to focus on one particular aspect of who you are and what you like, and to see who agrees or disagrees with you.

So here are a few of my favorite (mostly WoW-related) things:

The beautiful gloom

Favorite starting zone: Organizationally, the Blood Elf starting zone is the best. That said, I have a soft spot for the Undead starting zone. It’s a nice change of pace from Durotar and the Barrens, and it’s not full of Blood Elves.  And I sort of like the gloom of the Forsaken. What can I say? I have a lot of inner angst.

Favorite quest / quest chain: My favorite quest, by far, is the shaman water totem quest.

KIDDING!

It’s not terribly interesting, but for whatever reason, I’m always pleased when it’s time to do Lost in Battle. I know, I know: Mankrik’s wife is nothing now but a Beaten Corpse. I’ve reported this fact to him countless times, but he just doesn’t get it. The truth hurts.

My favorite quest chain overall has to be the Wrathgate line. This is perhaps the most epic questline in the game, with the culminating cinematic, the betrayal of Varimathras and Putress, the tragedy of a father losing his son, and the Battle for the Undercity. The first time I did this line was on an undead character, and from that point of view in particular, the chain was amazing. I’ve made sure to do this on all three of my 80s, and I’ll be sure to do it on any future toons as well.

You dare post a screenshot of the Host of Souls???

Favorite instance: It kind of depends. If I’m trying to get a bunch of Triumph badges, Nexus is my favorite because it’s an easy five badges–maybe seven if you get it on random. I like Oculus because it’s easy, if you can get people to stay in it, and I’m still hoping the blue drake will drop for me. Yep, you heard me: I like Oculus. (I can spell it, too. One “c,” not two, people!) I used to love Culling of Stratholme, because I loved Warcraft III, but that’s before I had to run it eleventy thousand times as a random.

But I’d have to say my current favorite is Forge of Souls. It’s easy. It’s fast. I love Bronjahm for the awesome music, and I love the Devourer of Souls for the awesome intro. “YOU DARE LOOK UPON THE HOST OF SOULS???” It’s still reasonably fresh. I like Halls of Reflection, but with the wrong group, it’s a nightmare. I like Pit of Saron, but healing on Garfrost when people can’t figure out the whole Saronite Rock mechanic gives me hives. So there  you go. Forge of Souls. “I SHALL DEVOUR YOU WHOLE!”

You haven't worn socks till you've worn handknit socks.

Favorite thing to do outside of Azeroth: Knitting. I haven’t knit any Warcraft projects, despite the requests of my Wowcohol cohost, Daniel, but anything’s possible.  I’ve been knitting a lot of socks this year, but soon it will be time to start on winter knitting: I need to make a hat for my husband, a scarf for a friend, and a baby blanket for a young expectant mother who’s due right around Christmas. That’s a lot of knitting, so I’ve got to get on the stick(s) soon!

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!

RAWR!

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!)