Friday, 28 January 2011


Following up to my post yesterday, the question of my gender came up before the raid even started, sitting around at he bottom of the steps in BWD I had vent on but wasn't speaking as I was busy pushing broccoli and paella into my face before we got going. But it was asked out of interest in /ra and I just made no big deal of saying that I'm female. There was about half a minute of "Oh... OH...." and "A girl in the guild... and she's got skills..." but they quickly settled and we got on with the raid as any bunch of raiders should do. In fact better than most, the raid leader was firm but kind and encouraging, everyone picked up the tactic very quickly and I didn't have to tell anyone to not stand with a flamethrower in their face even once.

Saga commented that she sometimes feels wary of speaking on vent, especially if they have pugs in the group. I completely empathise with this and was very nervous of speaking, but knew that it's something I want to do increasingly and freely. So when /ra was getting spammed and I wanted clarification on something I piped up, to my delight my question was answered and we moved on, simple as that. I spoke a couple of times after that, but mostly resign myself to /ra for now.

Afterwards one of the officers asked if he could have a word, we chatted about mechanics and  mana regen for a while and then he let me know that he expects I will integrate fully into the guild and the banter and everyone's very pleased to have me as a positive and effective raider, but should there be any aggro because of my gender then the officers will step in unless I've handled it myself. I appreciated the thought and I also took the opportunity to let him know that my only concern with the matter, as I spoke about yesterday, is to ensure that I will not get treated any differently or let off lightly or helped more because I'm a girl. He and the other officers respected that.

Actual stuff about the actual game, actually:

The raid itself was fantastic, it was our first run at the Omnitron Defence System and, although we didn't down him, the difference in performance at the beginning and end of the raid was night and day.

Raid composition: x2 tank, x2 healers, x6 DPS

From a Hpriest perspective:

- Mana, mana, mana. We had myself and a Spriest using Hymn of Hope, mine at half way and his at about 20% and I was still running into trouble if aoe hit at a point when everyone wasn't topped off. Will be working on some new gear this weekend as by the end of the night I couldn't have been doing much of a better job of mana management and on the best run didn't cast FH once and still ran in to trouble.

- I'll also be respeccing into Surge of Light, I didn't take it when I was only thinking of HC runs but now it looks like a couple of free Flash Heals might be the difference between that last 10% and wiping, at my current gear level anyway.

- Electron was sometimes tanked too close to where ranged & heal were standing in Arcanotron's Power Generator, so although DPS and mana regen was up, so Electrical Discharge was hitting a few people frequently and was hurting my mana management as, if it was followed up by Incineration, I had to spam Flash Heal 3 or 4 times, which isn't really an option for me at the moment. This Electrical Discharge issue wasn't actually realised until after the raid, the thing about this encounter is that there are so many obvious things to be watching out for as the constructs rotate, that an ability sapping health more discreetly was being overlooked.

- Slightly squishy Warrior tank. I don't know much about warrior tanking but I know they've nerfed something in warrior talent trees that might have been tuned down a little too much by the sounds of things because he's a very good tank who outgeared that fight.

- Heal gearing discrepancy. There's a real gap that needs bridging doing this fight with two healers. In terms of the power of the heals going out I'm almost matching our Hpala, but when I start to get into a pinch with mana it plummets and I feel this is a real spirit gear issue on my part.

So the plan is I upgrade another item, use spirit flask from the word go and carry on fine-tuning my mana management. With a little luck on the construct rotations Tuesday I will be fussing about taking a kill screenshot.


Thursday, 27 January 2011


I've spent a few days wanting to say something about feminism and the couple of issues that have come up since Cataclysm's release. With Gevlon's recent post, a few threads on the official forums (search not working again, you'll have to source those yourself if interested) and even the Sky Sports incident,  it seems that awareness is heightened. Don't worry though, you're not going to be ducking any projectile flaming bras.

Growing up, I looked upon sexism in a similar way as I did racism; because I didn't posses the feeling of inferiority or superiority I couldn't really understand people who did or what the fuss was about. But of course getting a little older and being of a tomboyish nature it became an inevitable part of my life. I don't want to harp on about my own personal experience and history, but I gather it's unusual and I'm unusual.

What I want to talk about is a recent event that's come about in-game that I'm having a little bit of a dilemma over. Remember that great guild I talked about in my last post? Well for one reason or another, completely understandably, they have assumed I'm male. This is not a new experience, in every forum and online game I've played almost everyone has assumed the same because:

a) They assume it for everyone, which is fine,
b) I don't speak in a particularly 'girly' way,
c) I don't emote much and,
d) I say 'mate' a lot.

Now in the past I've just let that lie and, let me make something clear, it's not because I was offended by it nor because I thought I would get more respect if they thought I was male. In fact I'm pleased if people know I'm a girl because I'm a very capable player and it helps to break down prejudice. I just wasn't bothered to correct them.

However, my new guild is small and seems close-knit; there are always a few of them sitting in vent chatting even if they're all doing their own thing, which I think is great, and they're very keen for me to join in. We have our first raid together this evening and I almost wish I could do it without vent. Don't get me wrong, if I need to shout someone out of the fire then I will, but I'm worried about how they'll react to me. It's a strange feeling considering how I feel about the matter and my confidence in myself as a woman and as a player, but I think I've worked it out.

My anxiety comes from not wanting to be given any leeway because I'm a girl. I don't want to not be told off for making a stupid mistake 'because she's a girl', I don't want to be given loot preference 'because she's a girl'.

I don't want to be a good healer 'for a girl'. I want to be a good healer.

I'm thankful for the society I live in, less and less these worries are an issue as more and more men and women alike become enlightened people who've not had to cast off prejudices, because they never had them in the first place.

But for now, they are still there, in enough people to make a difference and stifle me before I've had a chance to show them what I'm made of. I've run a few HCs with my guild, they complimented me and the pugs we were with complimented me on my healing, I hope that's enough that when they hear me this evening no opinions will change.

In a perfect world they won't care either way, as long as I place a Lightwell.


Healing Gnomes

A little while ago I made a decision that I didn't realise I would struggle with as much as I have.

I don't follow lore too closely, my enjoyment of WoW comes far more from game play and progression than story, but there have been quest lines that have caused a patriotic swell in me for my faction and for my race. I'm thinking especially of the quest where Sylvanas and Thrall retake the Undercity, seeing all those undead refugees in Orgrimmar saddened me and as the quest countdown timer ticked I was impatient to storm the gates of the Undercity and punish those who had hurt those people. MY people.

The initial selection of faction and race wasn't dictated, as I know it is for many, by existing WoW friends. I very much chose what felt right. I studied video game design at uni and I'm a designer now, so aesthetics and animation had a fair role to play. I knew no lore at all but the Horde appealed more without question and this race of Forsaken was intriguing and their design fascinating. I rolled the very beautiful Blood Elves and Draenei to watch them jump and twirl and preen themselves for a bit, but then when I looked at my lvl 1 Undead Priest, looking over her shoulder shiftily, with no eyes, half her face missing and tattered apprentice robes, I knew that she was mine.

As you're no doubt aware, many guilds crumbled and fell in the weeks and months leading up to Cataclysm as raid content offered nothing of value to those who already had the achievements. The one I was in was among that number, after which point I found it very hard to find a guild which would have raiding days to suit my schedule come Cataclysm. Shortly after it's release, a RL friend offered me a spot in his guild on another server, 10m raiding, the two nights a week I can make. Perfect! However, they were Alliance.

I knew I'd miss being an undead, I'd miss Orgrimmar and running with the distinctive silhouette of the Horde, but I wanted to hit the ground of heroics and raiding running and if a faction change was in order then that's what I would do. Blizzard failed to make the Worgen fulfil their design potential in my opinion, and I've always enjoyed Draenei animations so I went with one of those.

Materialising in the Exodar, where I'd never been before, I paid for a portal to Stormwind, which was equally unfamiliar. I spent some time pestering the guards for locations of flight points and reforgers, and flew around the city a while before settling on the roof of the auction house. In Orgrimmar I have my favourite perch points for looking at the city, places I always log in and out from, places I sit so I can easily be found for bartering my professions, places I've spent a long time being, even with the changes to the city. I missed it.

I ran normal and heroic dungeons, felt a bit sick for healing gnomes, and felt increasingly distanced from my character as the armour I had, the last remaining visual representation identifying her as the same character, was  replaced. Without conscious thought I started playing my warlock alt more (still Horde-side) and realising that the longer I had Reala on Alliance, the more unfamiliar she felt to me and the less I identified with her when I didn't even realise I was identifying with her in the first place.

A month ahead, I have come back to Horde (and promptly spent all my herbalist warlock's money on levelling Reala's professions). As luck would have it I've found a brilliant little guild who will be raiding on the days I can. But really, I would have sat and waited, I would have pugged and wiped Blackwing Descent 100 times, but what I realise is that it's highly likely I had to give it all up to appreciate the finer details of this immense experience we call a game.


PS. The restoration of my 'of the Undercity' title is a very welcome thing indeed!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Penny Arcade have done a hilarious strip regarding Gabe getting his account hacked. In his post Tycho tells us that Gabe felt MORE violated by the hack than a couple of real-life thefts he'd experienced.

I've not thought about it before but it makes sense. I, too, have experienced a minor real life theft and had my WoW account hacked. I felt significantly more angry at the real-life theft but significantly more upset and violated at Reala's being stripped of her full T9 set and left shivering in a corner of Orgrimmar. The thought of her being used to bark out gold-seller messages sent a chill down my spine and lit a fire in my belly. Making the ambient temperature lukewarm.

Those of us who have been playing for any substantial amount of time have invested a lot in our characters. WoW is integrated in to many player's lives as much more of a hobby than pure recreation. However, in my opinion there are only two types of people who have authenticators, and this comes from my opinion on backing up:

a) Those who are paranoid
b) Those who have lost everything

I'm in column b) on both counts (bye bye 5 years of holiday photos) and so now I have an external hard drive and an authenticator app. If you haven't got one, get one.


PS. Guild masters - unless you want a quick and effective way of clearing twenty stacks of Twilight Jasmine out of the guild bank, I suggest not giving guildies without authenticators access.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Dispel Fun

I enjoyed PVD's most recent post despite not agreeing with it. GA suggests that Blizzard should make healing more fun in order to encourage more players to do it, adding that a good way would be more classes with mechanics like Atonement specced disc  priest where you are dealing ranged DPS that results in healing. I started to leave a comment but it good too long so here are my thoughts.

I chose to be a healer to heal and I didn't really appreciate my role being diluted (disc priest since I started playing). I gave the Atonement/Archangel spec a good run, and quite enjoyed learning it, but ultimately felt like less of a healer. Sure I could have specced to avoid Atonement but I didn't really fancy falling back into the shield-bot role that I'd occupied during WotLK. I'm now Holy specced and happy.

As for the difficulty of healing Heroics; I'm also enjoying this even though it's quite time consuming. I run PUGs quite frequently (shock, horror I know) and have been complimented on my healing more since Cataclysm than ever before. Everyone knows that tanking and healing is harder now, and there's a perceptible difference between healing well and healing badly, which wouldn't even register in the comparatively trivial WotLK dungeons since letting your cat walk up and down your keyboard while you clicked random group members would have done the trick.

We'll all be out-gearing HCs in a couple of months anyway, I suggest good healers and good tanks enjoy being noticed while it lasts.


Monday, 17 January 2011


My gaming habits have changed in several ways over the years, but one of the most notable has been that I no longer PvP. Be it in world or Battlegrounds in WoW or Halo multiplayer. At uni I was big on Xbox Live, even in the first 6 months of playing WoW I saw a lot of WSG and Alterac Valley while levelling up, even acquiring some disc PvP gear and often placing in the top 3 healing done among the twinks.

Then it all changed, I wasn't playing every day any more and all of a sudden I was getting some serious attitude off of 12 year olds who I could no longer pwn some respect into. I sometimes miss being good at PvP, but more than that I appreciate PvE play for those of us who can't afford the time to be on WoW every day. Sure there are hardcore raiding guilds who require 5 nights of your week, and fair play to them, but most guilds down the content equally as well but at a slower pace. The reason this is possible is because PvE, especially now, is more about what you know over how fast you can react to another real person, often behaving unpredictably.

Wipe after wipe on a raid boss makes the group better, you learn each other and you learn the boss tactics, there is comparatively very little variation from encounter to encounter of the same boss (Omnitron Defense System being an exception, even then it's a quantified variation). There obviously needs to be a degree of manual dexterity to push the right buttons in the right order at the right time and to not stand in shit, but raiding success in general is about what your group knows about the encounter, once you all know what you're doing and there are as few silly mistakes as possible, the boss should go down. A rogue who's in Alterac Valley for hours every day is going to stab me in the neck over and over no matter how well I know the map and my class. 

What this means for those of us who don't play as often as we'd perhaps like is that we can be good, very good, among the best, through knowledge instead of honing our reflexes - which is like going to the gym in that it takes a lot of regular time and effort to develop and disappears very quickly if you stop.

This is one of the main reasons Warcraft is a game that's stuck with me and I think a fair few adult players with other responsibilities probably feel the same. So as much as I am reduced to spittle-inducing rage by kids with too much time and too little respect, I am grateful for the mechanics of the game allowing for extraordinary players with rich real lives too, if you know where to find them.


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Divine Eloquence

Zellviren from Kilrogg EU has a 2longOmgDidNotRead post on the official forums that's still generating a lot of response, (only spiralling off-topic in the last few pages) and even a little attention from a Blue.

The big deal? A couple of things, firstly the quality of this 4-post long piece. Judge it for yourself, it's easy to read and stuffed full of exceptionally well put and worthwhile points. If I had my way every player of every class from both factions on every server would be forced to read this, at ridiculously-oversized crossbow-point if necessary.

I'm not going to comment endlessly about the content, there's nothing more I could say of additional value. Suffice it to say I agree with it almost entirely.

Here's what really surprised me though; the response. Something about that post invoked the down-to-earth, mature, articulate and sorely underrepresented player base. There's hardly an 'omg 2 long lol' or 'bleh nuther QQ post' in sight in the first lot of replies. Even most of those who disagree do so with points of their own which indicate internal dialogue between brain and keyboard. I am seriously impressed but a little sad that I was so shocked.

So Zellviren, you have my thanks, here's hoping LFD groups us one day for the most civilised Heroic run ever known.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Patch Rage 4.0.6 PTR

Official EU site entry on this is throwing up a server error so you can read patch notes here instead.

A whole lot of QQing over certain Heroic encounters that seem nerfed. I don't think it's a game-changer to the overall ramped-up difficulty of Heroics, and we'll all be outgearing it WoTLK in a few short months anyway. As long as the importance of CC doesn't get a nerf any time in the near future I'm happy as I've enjoyed the, albeit slight, shift in group dynamics that comes from the communication needed to oragnise CC and the difference it makes in Heroics. I also feel that most DPS are glad of a slightly less-expendable role to fill and hunters who can CC can start repairing their classes' reputation. A bit.

From a Holy priest perspective I think we're all pleased to see the buff to Circle of Healing, an ability that has been far from redundant and always present in my 'rotation' but nevertheless as a shadow of it's former self and almost always followed up by a Prayer of Healing. I don't see these values changing my play style.

Chakra lasting one minute up from 30 sec is a good buff, especially between pulls where my chakra often falls off the second the tank pulls, and wanting to be set up for an on-demand Holy Word: Serenity means I feel like I'm 'wasting' a heal to activate it. Every drop of mana counts these days. When Chakra was first introduced I would have liked more activating spells but in practice I've not missed having more than one or two each. I will be interested to see if my play shifts to accommodate these naturally.

Very, very pleased to not have to squint at my CT BuffMod list to find two stacks of Serendipity any more. I wondered why this buff didn't have a spell alert considering the influence it has in subsequent ability choices. Normally I'm very aware of when it's going to proc since having to fire off two Flash Heals normally means trouble and a Greater Heal or PoH anyway, but there are still odd situations where Serendipity has procced without my noticing and I've then gone off and FH unnecessarily or missed an opportunity for a cheap GH/PoH.

This is already longer than I'm intending to make these posts, but very briefly - very welcome lower mana costs of buffs, it's a pain to have to start a dungeon run with a mana break, I even glyphed Power Word: Fortitude for a bit of respite from it. So good news there.

~ Reala