Miss Medicina's Best of ‘09
If you’re reading this, it probably means you are stuck at work on New Year’s Eve, and for that, you have my deepest condolences. Hopefully you can get away with surfing the internet all day, so I invite you to sit back with your coffee, and travel through the past year with Miss Medicina.

In 2009, my personal life was a bit crazy. I gained a fiancĂ©, but I lost a beloved dog. My father went into remission from Leukemia, and I stormed out of another grad school program in frustration and fury. I argued with academics, slept on couches in the grad student room, and commuted 4 hours a day for six months. I called my sister a shrew (oops), my brother a redneck (true), and never got a chance to build a snowman. I started playing D&D for the first time. I became closer to my fiance’s friends, and decided that they were awesome enough to make up for his gastro-intestinal mischief. I got a wand as a remote for Christmas, teaspoons for my birthday, and an engagement ring for Cinco de Mayo. I gained far too much weight, and lost way too much patience. I gave a one hour presentation in a seminar that was supposed to last ten minutes, and burst into tears at the end. I fainted in the middle of a downtown street, and a homeless man I’d said hello to everyday for the last 6 months kept me from injuring myself.

I also started blogging, and in doing so, I met people like Tamarind, Larisa, Ophelie, Codi, Matticus, BobTurkey, and even got a comment from the Triple B, which left me squealing in excitement.

Now, this isn’t really the ideal list, since I have only been blogging since May of this year, but I’m going to somehow pick out my personal favorite post from each month, link you to it, and share why it mattered to me.

It all began in May, after forming a somewhat unhealthy attachment to a blog written by two very dear friends of mine, who just happen to be Fulguralis and Fuubaar

May

Cur Medicinae Percurant – (“Why Healers Heal” roughly) Oh yes. When I started this whole thing, I had this weird little tweak where I wanted to title all my posts in Latin, just to get some sort of use out of those seven years of hardship. As you can see, that goal lasted all of… one post. It’s not the best post, but it’s the first. I was not only a new blogger, but I was also completely new to even reading anything in the blogosphere… the column I refer to in this post is one chosen at World of Matticus for his Best of ’09 as well. I never did go back and add the link to Lodur's "5 Archetypes of the Healer", because now I kinda want to maintain the ignorance of my first post. I didn’t even know who any of you people were… not even Matticus or Lodur.

June

Looking back through my posts from June, this is where some of my favorites reside, so it’s hard to pick just one. I probably had all of three readers, and to be quite honest, sometimes there’s a certain freedom in that. Sometimes I wrote things just to vent. This was the one month in which I actually attempted to write RP posts. If you want to read my RP stylings, here’s where you’ll find them… but you’ll probably also discover soon enough why I stopped doing them. I can write stories about characters, and get into them, sure… but my toons in WoW were never intended for RP activities, or I would have designed them differently.

Regardless, my favorite post from June was Summer Blues and the One Man Raid. As were all my early posts, it’s long (even for me) – but it’s one of the most emotional posts I’ve written, though you may not know it by reading it. It’s about how easy it is, in a raid, to lose sight of the individual – and the importance of balancing between the beauty of each individual personality and the needs of a group of players.

July

Whereas June was ripe with lots of content I personally enjoyed, July was a desert due to a long visit with my family in Texas. There are few posts, and none of them really standout, so instead of giving you WoW goodness from July I direct you to Half Blood Prince hotness. Because Harry Potter fanart by Makani cannot be ignored, people.


August

August is when I started to write various guides for Priests, in addition to the coverage of Blizzcon and the Priest Q&A, so it was a busy month! Despite the plethora of good posts from this month, I will send you on over to the Friday Drinking Games, wherein Miss Medicina attempts to start another regular Friday column after giving up on RP posts, and manages to (yet again) only ever post one episode in the series.

Why do I like this post so much? It was a perfect example of the sort of sloppy things many of us began to do when we had Naxx on farm, and nothing else to hit up. Yes, I know Ulduar was available for many, but sadly my raiding alliance was slow on the uptake… so we were still stuck in Naxx long after Ulduar was released! Fuu and I began to develop our own alcoholic methods for keeping the raiding game interesting…

September

There’s no competition here. Miss Medicina’s Manifesto stands strong as one of my favorite posts of all time, and it’s one of those pieces that I invite anyone who has become a regular to read, because it’s the backbone of my gaming philosophy, and therefore is better than any silly “About Me” page for this blog. I know that I give off a “group hippie hug everyone is great learns at their own place and is always welcome here!” attitude around this place, but I have my reasons why, and my Manifesto explains most of it. The guys over at Save or Die radio even invited me to join them on one of their podcast sessions after posting it, and I think it may even be the last column I wrote for their site (whoops… need to get on that…).

If it’s the only thing from my blog you go back and read, I will be satisfied.


October

Oh October. This is always my favorite month – and this year October was the month of the Circle of Healers survey. Many of my readers probably joined around that time but I’ll let you in on a little secret… Circle of Healers was definitely not my favorite post of that month. Sure, it’s a nice ego trip to get some linky love from WoW Insider, with several big name bloggers stopping by the Medica-hut (you know, that just does not roll off the tongue like Pink Pigtail Inn!), but even before Circle of Healers, I wrote A Writer’s Request in response to some scraping that I had been victim to, as well as a few other bloggers. That post is my favorite because it touches on issues that every writer (whether you are a blogger or trying to compose your first novel or your 19th) has had to face. It also might give some insight into why I make it extremely obvious when I’m literally copy and pasting from another source!

November

November marks my first determined respec to Discipline priesting, and I have been rollin’ the bubbles ever since. Lots of posts regarding the lessons I’ve been learning regarding the bubblier side of things, but my favorite post is the goofiest one of all – What does YOUR Divine Hymn Sound Like? I still use this macro, by the way… although I did discover the other day that pushing the Divine Hymn Macro Button in a panic during Halls of Reflection is VERY annoying to other members of my PuG… Which of course means I’m now doing it every time someone says “HEELZ PLS”. Other items of note include my incredibly scientific diagram on Reflex vs Rotation, my uber-Eastern Kingdoms map, Raid for the Cure, and my guide for writing blog posts secretly at work… complete with a screenshot that I was terrified would get me fired.

December

I know the latter end of December has left me a bit more AFK than I would like as I adjust to a new schedule (or rather, having no schedule at all…), but within a month of somewhat fewer posts, so many new and exciting things have been happening in game that there’s bound to be some juicy goodness. The new LFG tool has given all of us bloggers plenty of material to share with our readers… Bad PuG stories never get old. One thing we don’t seem to talk about as much, however, are the awesome PuGs in which we may find ourselves. For that, I gave you my favorite edition of Sunday PuG N’ Pray ever – The Perfectest Pug.

Why is this my favorite post? Aside from the fact that it narrated one of my best ToC runs of all time, it also ended with two lines that share the best WoW related revelation I could have hoped for, and one that I feel bears repeating as it is still a good way to end a great year…


At which point I received an error message, saying my friends list was full.

And that was the proudest moment of my 2009 in World of Warcraft.

Post 3.3 Resources
Today I have to do some massive cleaning and stuff around the house, but I am trying to get back on schedule for posting. There have been some really awesome resources and guides posted lately, and I wanted to provide some links to you guys… and also so I can bookmark this page and navigate to them easily in the future XD

I just want to send out a group-hug to my fellow bloggers. I don't think I really appreciated how incredibly helpful the WoW blogging community is in helping me have fun in this game until I tried to find similar resources for Aion. How on earth did I do it before I discovered all you guys? Yeesh. So in light of this recent epiphany, here are some of my favorite and most useful posts from the past couple of weeks (you know, if I did this once a week instead of sporadically, maybe it wouldn't be so long!)


Non-Healing Specific


Contrary to popular belief, I am not in a raiding guild. I’m not a raiding officer! I used to be an officer in a raiding alliance of multiple guilds, but I stepped down from the post right around the time ToC was released. I don’t have a raiding guild of regular raiders, or a bunch of officers to help me out– if I want to raid, I usually have to assemble a group myself, made up of some guildmates and other friends with whom I’ve raided in the past.

I have taken to emailing boss strats out to the folks in my baby ICC10 raiding group, and the biggest source for these ICC boss strats? Shadow Word: Blog! ABI HAS PICTURES. I actually took the Lady Deathwhisper iPod/Wookie diagram, and added a bunch of stuff to it and sent it to all the raiders in my group. “You! Wookie patrol. You! iPod control. Get on it.” It worked amazingly well, though we still haven’t taken down the beastly woman.

I've also been combining Abi's explanations with those of Rejuvo to make sure I get everything right, so here are links to both of their strats for each boss, and for reference, I think Rejuvo may have more info regarding 25 man content. Also, there have been a few changes to ICC since these strats were written. Maybe if you leave a comment on the posts about the changes, the authors will add them in!

Shadow Word: Blog
Rejuvo



Vixsin
at Life in Group 5 apparently heard my cries for help in understanding WoL, because he posted a detailed and extremely helpful guide to understanding how WoL works, and how to interpret it. Hats off to you Vix, awesome post. I can't thank you enough!

Soph at The View Through the Branches is doing a series on the various heroic instances available in WotLK. What makes this series especially cool for us achievement geeks is that he lists the achievements available for each instance, and some tips and strats for how to get them. So far, she has already written about the Coldarra dungeons and the Dragonblight dungeons. These posts have actually made me want to pug Heroics, if for no other reason, than to get the achievements.

If you’re a Disc Priest, and you’ve been pugging with Pally tanks, you may have run across Pallies having issues with mana due to bubbles. I may not be a tank, but as someone who adores her own personal Pally Tank (because that is how I think of you, Fuu), I watch their mana bars as well. If you have a Pally tank struggling with mana due to priest shields, Ophelie tells you how to get around that. Instead of having a “lollrn2playnoob” attitude towards Pally tanks struggling with mana when a Disc priest is around, this is an excellent article for helping them learn how to do it. I wonder if I can put a link in a macro. *ponders*


3.3 Class Specific Updates

I know it may seem a day late and a dollar short to be posting 3.3 updates since it’s been out for a few weeks now, but if you are just coming back from Christmas in Australia or some other fantastic place, here are some great posts to get you up to speed about the changes for your healing class.

  • Druids – I swear there are more Druid bloggers than any other class. Confused about the haste changes to your GCD? Kae has you covered (with shiny graphs too nomnomnom). Want the skinny on all the 3.3 changes to druids? Lissanna has a nice explanatory post. Looking for the new Druid gear? Both Lathere and Lissanna may have your answers.
  • Pallies – As always, Codi from MoarHPS has a very nice, well reasoned BiS list for Holy Pallies. If you find you have a different BiS priority, you might want to read her discussion on Intellect, or just Pally mana regen in general. When Codi disagrees with someone else's theorycrafting, she always provides excellent quantitative reasoning, which I definitely appreciate. Ophelie also offered some good ideas regarding two different Holy Pally builds as well – Holy Light Builds vs Flash of Light Builds. My Holy Pally took one look at that post and was like "...there's more than one build? lolimanoob"
  • Shammies – see this big blank spot right here? It’s a sign I need to level my resto shammy and start making tons of posts about it. Vixsin can only do so much folks! All you resto shammy bloggers! GET ON IT
Universal Healing Lessons
Alright, Aion has temporary control over my soul. It’s not that I like it better than WoW (far from it), but simply that it’s something new to me, with lots of different aspects I can analyze.

The other day, I healed my first “instance”. It works strangely in Aion, and I’m still rather new to the whole thing, so I won’t try to explain it. The point here is that I was in charge of healing a group of six. I had been playing the game less than 5 days, so unsurprisingly I was more than a little nervous. One of the good things about starting a game that is only 3 months old in North America, is that everyone is at least a little new, so they are more understanding if you are still trying to learn the basics… most of them are still learning too.

Despite the complete lack of healing interface add-ons (no add-ons in Aion, zomg), and regardless of my noobishness, everyone in the party was very pleased with how well I healed. I learned a lot about my spells during that run… “Ooooo! Hey look! I have a dispel! I didn’t know that…”, but there were a lot of things I didn’t need to learn. There are some aspects of healing that seem to be somewhat universal across MMORPGs.

  • Watching health bars. In Aion and in WoW, if you are healing, you are keeping your eyes on everyone’s health bars. It’s a bit easier right now in Aion, because since there are no add-ons, and since I’m low level, the interface is very simple and clean. It’s easier to see when someone is at drastically low health. You have to split your focus between player status bars and your surroundings – and that is always tricky. It’s a skill you learn through lots of healing.
  • The value of HoT effects. I don’t have any shields yet in Aion, but I know from my healing experience in WoW to keep a HoT up on the tank at all times. I currently have two different HoTs in Aion, but it unfortunately appears as though these two HoTs don’t stack. So, I know from my experience healing next to druids that I usually put the longer time, less heal per tick HoT on the tank, and the shorter, burstier HoT on some of the melee, or other classes that take damage. I also keep a HoT ticking on myself all the time while soloing and running quests.
  • Threat, zomg threat. Call it aggro or enmity or threat, whatever you like. It’s a balancing effect for healers. It used to be a lot harder to manage in WoW, but in late BC they changed some of the threat mechanics, so at end game, it’s almost a non-issue. In Aion however, at least at this level, it is a big freaking deal. The tanks only have so many taunt abilities (maybe only one) and it has a serious cooldown. I was constantly pulling threat and getting beat on. However, the Cleric in Aion is more along the lines of a traditional D&D Cleric – I can wear all armor classes aside from plate. So, decked out in Chain Mail, it’s not as devastating as it would be were I playing my priest in WoW.
  • Triage. Anytime you have a certain class makeup with specific roles, prioritizing who gets healed first is a crucial component. Keep the person taking the beating up so that others who can’t handle the beating don’t die. Keep the people who keep others up. Keep the people who perform crucial duties alive. Keep people who can rez alive. In Aion, you can rez while in combat (something I didn’t realize until a bit later during our run… whoops), and if you buy certain implements, you don’t need to be a healer to rez others. With this knowledge in hand, I knew who had resurrection implements on them, and made sure to prioritize them along with the tank… at least if I go down, they can rez me. Anyone who can combat rez gets bonus triage points. There is a common philosophy that healers don’t need to know bosses or mob abilities… “just heal stuff”. This is not exactly true. Sometimes, there is someone else performing a crucial duty other than the tank. Anyone else remember the mage-tank fight in Gruul’s Lair? The mage taking on that task needed a special healer as well.
  • Pre-Casting and Stop-Casting Heals. This is another reason why it’s good to know mob abilities as a healer. This was also the main thing that made the others in my party realize that, noob though I may be, I am a good healer. If you wait until after someone in your party has taken damage, it may simply be too late. Anyone who has ever been assigned to tank healing knows the value of a big burst, long cast time heal. Greater Heal and Holy Light often work best when you start casting them right before the party member takes a big fat hit. When I was healing in my Aion party, I knew when we went into some of the fights that some of those mobs started out hitting big… so before they even got a hit in, I had started casting my biggest heal. The tank never even had a chance to panic. He would take the huge damage, and half a second later, be healed to full.
  • Know Your Duty. If I'm a healer, I need to be healing. I generally should not be worrying about contributing to damage. I know this isn't true in all games, and not always in PvP. But when in doubt? Just focus on healing, or you might get distracted and miss something important when someone needs heals.
  • Watching the Target's Target. I didn't figure out until a day or so ago how to turn on this feature in Aion, and it was killing me. When you are spending more time watching bars and interface aspects than the actual creatures around you, you need to know who a monster is pursuing. If you just always assume it's the tank (which, in many cases may even be a fairly safe assumption), it's quite possible that someone will slip under the radar and get dead. This is another reason why I hate having to target someone to heal them - I want to keep my focus on the boss so that I always know who he's going after and prepare myself to heal them. For instance, in the Lady Deathwhisper and Onyxia fights, I keep the bosses targeted so I know who they will be casting their next frostbolt / fire breath / whatever on, so that I can bubble them before hand. Here's hoping I can figure out how to do this more effectively in Aion!

There’s something reassuring in knowing that if you can master the art of healing in and of itself, that skill and knowledge is transferrable. You still won’t walk in necessarily knowing what each of your spells do, or how to battle specific mobs, how you will mesh with other players and classes, but you’ll be on a solid footing from the start.
Aion, E-Peen Epiphany, and Introducing FABULOSEAUX
Yes, yes, Christmas was good. I spent most of it around the house with my fiance, enjoying being lazy and trying out a new game. I've been struggling to put together something reasonably coherent lately, and I have no idea why. I'm sure I'll be back on track in no time.

I finished my internship (hurrah!) and now I realize just how much time I spent at work doing blogging stuff. Because now that I have "free time" I'm spending a lot more of it actually playing the game instead of writing or reading about it.

I have focused most of my writing here on World of Warcraft, with a touch of D&D 4e here and there, but depending on how things go with the newest addition to my gaming aresenal, I may begin to include some information about healing in Aion. Expect a mini-review in the near future. That's not normally what I do here, but I'd like to believe I could provide a perspective on it that others might appreciate if you were interested at all in the game.

If you've been wanting to try Aion (like myself) but were waiting for NCSoft to make some kind of demo version available, well it's here, kinda. The North American release of Aion is about three months old now I think, and now they are offering a Refer a Friend program (finally!) which I've been waiting for since the game was released. I don't just buy games, I need to try them out first. I started on a Refer a Friend basis (provided by Fulguralis <3), style="font-weight: bold;">If you are interested in trying it out, but don't have any friends who play it, let me know, and I'll see if I can set something up for you.

That's enough Aion for the moment. I would like to share a story about more utter fail with you. I know how much you all truly enjoy hearing about my blatant stupidity at times, and I have a fresh epic story to share that simply cannot be ignored.

Sometime last week my fiance was telling me about his debate regarding buying the t9 stuff for his druid. I, assuming I was an expert on all these things of course, told him he could not get any t9 gear unless he ran ToC for the trophies.

"What are you talking about? There's a vendor right here that sells it all for badges."

"No there isn't - he requires you to have trophies too in order to buy them."

"Where are you buying your gear? The guy right outside ToC sells them for badges alone."

"....No he... No, see the... WHAT?!"

See how quickly a pair of Dwarven legs can get you to the Argent Tournament grounds? Observe as all my badges are rapidly swept away to buy two pieces of t9 gear, and gold spent gemming them up, enchanting mats devoured in new enchants.

The entire time I have been going to the vendors in Dalaran to purchase my Badge of Triumph gear, never registering that somewhere in the lands of Icecrown, a lonely vendor stood, awaiting my arrival and my purchases in order to feed his growing family. Instead, I bemoaned my three pieces of t8 gear, weeping over my inability to get a fourth piece to activate the awesomest 4 piece bonus ever for a Disc priest, wondering where on earth that lost rumor of t9 had gone. I had stopped doing random heroics because I didn't need the Triumph Badges anymore, and I didn't really understand why so many people were grinding them for so long, convincing myself that my gear was obviously just quite superior.

Thus, my e-peen epiphany that left me humbled, with a slightly flatter forehead from bashing it against the wall.

So, having given up on ever acquiring the elusive fourth piece of t8 (for now anyway), I am currently putting together the rest of my t9 set. Problem is, I hate grinding heroics. Other people hate grinding dailies, or crafts, or things like that, but for me it's heroics. They are usually incredibly boring to heal for me. I was into it for a little while as I learned the Disc routine, but now that I've pretty much got it down, no challenge remains for me unless it's in the new ICC dungeons.

Now for the third item on today's docket - my first RP character!

Meet FABULOSEAUX.

One of the best things about Aion is the amazing degree of customizability you get to use in designing your characters and even their gear. I imagine this will lead to a much stronger RP base in the Aion community. But you can't trump FABULOSEAUX, the true ladies' man. I mean, look at those kissable lips.


Yes, I see all the ladies in the audience attempting to still their trembling knees. Expect more FABULOSEAUX fabulosity in the coming weeks. He's a Priest as well, and is trying to earn the love of the elusive Snottydin, who he hears is a girl IRL, and can solo heal anything lol. He enjoys fine boxed wine and his own delicate limbs.

PS I know some of you are quite eloquent in French (I'm looking at you Ophelie!), I'd love to have some really stupid pickup lines in French. Don't tell Fabby I asked, by the way. This has nothing to do with him. Nothing at all.
Spam Comments
Much longer and larger post incoming, but I have a quickie question I need to ask.

I'm getting a LOT more spam comments ever since I removed the word verification out of courtesy to some people who find it to be a pain to comment because of the verification box. I sympathize with that, because I really do hate those verification thingies, though I understand their necessity.

I have very few comment moderation options available:

  • Turn off Anonymous Commenting (which would mean that anyone who comments needs at least an OpenID, which is annoying)
  • Turn on Word Verification (which is also annoying for the afore-mentioned readers, and a serious PitA for mobile phone users)
  • Turn on Comment Moderation (I currently just turned this on to screen any comments on posts older than 3 days - that's an FYI for those who might be wondering why some of their comments haven't shown up yet) (I like comments to show up ASAP anyway... I don't like the idea of screening others' words)

What I would ideally like is that either A) All anonymous comments are screened or B) All anonymous comments are subject to word verification, but if this is possible with Blogger, I don't know how to do it.

As a side note, half of the spam comments I get don't even have a link anywhere. They are just random combinations of words. Case in point, the last one I deleted said the following: "Brim over I acquiesce in but I about the list inform should prepare more info then it has."

I feel like there is some important message in there that I'm just simply not enlightened (or stoned) enough to interpret.
Forum Lawls: The Great Petition
Forum lawl of the day:

I would like to make a petition with the purpose of forcing Blizz to create the option of making a tabards hideable!


I don't think that word means what you think it means. (In all fairness, this was on an EU forum, and maybe my Americanness is showing, but it made me chuckle)

Although, I am highly amused at the concept of petitioning Obama to FORCE Blizz to allow tabards to be hideable. That's it! I'm calling my representative right now!

~~~~

Posts are sparse and slow this week because I'm somewhat panic-stricken about not having all my gifts ready yet!
Sunday Pug n Pray: The Perfectest Pug
With the new LFG tool, these are so much easier to write, since everyone is pugging more now. However, this week's edition of Pug n Pray has nothing to do with the LFG tool. Also, I need to actually start posting these on Sundays so that they make more sense or something. But I'm always a day late and a dollar short, so whatever.

ANYWAY. The awesomest pug ever happened some time this weekend.

I had tried getting into a couple of ToC10 pugs, because the weekly was Lord Jaraxxus Must Die. In fact, I'd probably started in two or three ToC pugs, but dropped before Northrend Beasts was even down, because people were being so rude. I have no patience for rudeness. People weren't even being rude to me - they were being rude to others who made mistakes, which is not something I can abide.

It was 11:00pm and I was bored, so I threw myself into the LfR lists for anything I wasn't saved to. I was in the lists for less than 2 mins, when I received a whisper... "ToC10?" Having had some pretty bad ToC runs in the past week, I was hesitant, but I really wanted to finish the weekly quest, so I accepted.

What followed was a two hour run of ToC that was wonderful. Did we one-shot everything? Nope. Every boss was a two-shot, except Faction Champs, which only took once. Just about everyone in this raid had only been to ToC once or twice, with a couple of people who had never been at all - including the fresh level 80 Rogue who did not know how to /roll, how to get into vent, and was not even naxx-geared. Did the group kick him out? No. The vent conversation went something like this...

Guy 1: "Dude, this rogue has awful gear and dps. What the... he has spellpower leather!"

Guy 2: "Heh. He's been doing okay so far I guess. Let's just carry him, he will get some nice upgrades."

Guy 1: "Yeah, true enough. Someone who is more familiar with rogues though should probably send him a tell and offer to help him figure stuff out."

And that is what made this PuG so awesome. Instead of lawling at one another with recount spams and shouts of "L2PLAY N00B LOL", if someone was having a hard time with something...

  1. They admitted it out loud (crazy, right?)
  2. They asked for help or an explanation.
  3. Others told them not to feel bad, we can take it slow and learn as we go.
  4. Others offered advice, help, and encouragement.
  5. Everyone was incredibly patient, and had a good sense of humor.

Now, I get that not everyone will want this for a pug. To be honest, normally if it's something with which I'm familiar, I don't even have the patience for it. I mean, that's two hours, in a pug with strangers. Most of the time, if I'm pugging a raid, I just want it to be done, though it's a lot better if people are friendly and conversational with a sense of humor.

What made this different is that everyone (with the exception of the rogue) was well geared, and knew how to play their class - they just didn't know the fights. Wipe on the boss once to figure out how it works, take it down the next time with no problem. Cheer at one another, say something about the awesome DPS, or wonderful heals, or perfect tanking, and move on to the next.

It's one of those things you don't see in PuGs often enough. The ratio of Recount-spams to compliments is about 20:1. I don't know why people don't want to compliment others in a PuG, but if you don't ever do it, you should try - Especially if there are newbies in the group. In a pug last night, we had a rogue who was a fresh 80 - he got so excited about his 2.2k dps on one fight, that I admit I found it somewhat contagious. Good job kiddo. That actually is really good for your gear level - and there are few compliments better to a fresh 80 than a few well geared raiding 80s telling him he's doing a good job.

So readers, that is your homework for this week - in one of your pugs this week, compliment someone who does a good job.

To continue on with my perfect pug story, after we two-shot Anub'rekhan, we decided that this group of folks was too awesome to waste... so with a couple of member changes as some peeps had to go to bed, we went and hit up Onyxia - and took her down in 5 minutes, 2 seconds. Had we not had a few loose whelps that got attention instead of Ony, we would have had our More DoTs achievement.

As it stands, I walked away that night with a few more emblems under my belt, and six new people added to my friends list.

At which point I received an error message, saying my friends list was full.

And that was the proudest moment of my 2009 in World of Warcraft.
Random Friday Tidbits vol 2
It was pointed out to me by a couple of people that I didn't have a blog archive up. I have no idea when and why it disappeared, but it has now made a grand reentrance. Obviously you won't see it through a feedreader, so you'll actually have to pop on through to see it. Thanks for the heads up guys!

Tam gave me the gift of syph. Results are incoming.

So several other people have contributed to the Divine Aegis vs Power Word: Shield testing (see the comments), and they all seem to have come up with results similar to mine (That Divine Aegis is used up before Power Word:Shield). If you've done some testing of it yourself and can provide combat log data for me, I will post it for others to give more practical evidence to our skeptical theory crafters (skepticism = good!).

Also, Soluna asked in the comments section: "would it be reasonable to theorize that the shield with the lowest duration is used first?" and I will answer that here. I thought that as well, but though I did not post the testing I did on that particular topic, I did test that by proccing Divine Aegis just before my power word: shield wore off, and DA was still used up before PW:S. However, this was incredibly difficult to test well due to the exactness of timing, which is why I didn't post it (since it was very easy to do it improperly). If you are able to test this and confirm, please let me know.

Today is my last day at my internship, and then I get to breathe a sigh of relief and update all my guides - especially as I now have a lot more experience with the Disc aspect of priest healing. I used to think that Disc Priests were only really for single target healing, but now I know better, and I want my guide to reflect that.

Last night was my first foray into ICC10 man! We only spent two hours in there, but we were able to two shot Marrowgar, and get in a few solid tries on Lady Deathwhisper. I hadn't expected us to get that far in such a short time, to be honest, so I was not completely prepared for Deathwhisper. We had a lot of fun learning how all the trash worked, since I had only looked up boss guides. It was a nice challenge. Also, if you are doing ICC10, and haven't brought a rogue in yet... you should try it. There are some special little things Rogues can do in the first room - but I won't spoil it for you :)

Thanks to lots of help from some fellow bloggers via twitter and my genius fiance, I was able to get World of Logs up and running last night for our ICC10 run. I made it work, but I don't really know how to interpret the results. Also, for some reason it doesn't show our Marrowgar kill :( Also, my recount is not working 80% of the time now for some reason. I find that really frustrating as I'm only just starting to learn how to properly interpret the healing meters, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. Along both those veins, I am putting out a general call to my fellow bloggers (especially you healers) - I can't tell you how much I would appreciate an idiot's guide to reading and interpreting log parsing results. Right now, for the most part, it's just a great big jumble to me.
My Science Fair Experiment
Look! I'm going to do this all scientific like! Maybe if my thesis advisor runs across this, she will be proud instead of holding her head in her hands.

INTRODUCTION

Awhile back, Matticus did a little test in an effort to determine which bubble absorbs damage first, Power Word: Shield, or Divine Aegis. If I understand his methodology correctly, he essentially cast Power Word: Shield on himself as well as Divine Aegis, committed suicide by way of Molten Colossus, and examined his Combat Log to see which faded first. He tried this in various combos, proccing Divine Aegis first, and also using Power Word: Shield first. His conclusion was a "first come, first served" method. In other words, the bubble first cast/procced will be the first absorption used.

There was a comment on his post that suggested this might be inaccurate due to the way the combat log functions. I'm not really an expert on computery things, but I tend to agree with the commenter - when multiple effects occur at the same time (such as all your buffs fading when you die), the combat log has to have some order in which to list them that do not necessarily make any contextual sense. I.E. I'm not sure if this really determined which absorption works first, because everything drops off at the same time when you die, and is listed in a somewhat non-sensical way on the Combat Log. You can see this yourself if you ever note that your Combat Log may say you gained Spirit Tap before listing that you have slain a mob.

So I tried to test it too. I'm not as cool as Matt though, I didn't use Molten Colossi... I used various mobs around Icecrown while I did some dailies.

METHODOLOGY

I tested this by running around screaming wildly at mobs, standing around stoicly as they beat on me, helping them along with Shadow Word: Death, and tracking the results. Anytime Divine Aegis dissipated by timing out instead of by being fully absorbed, I threw out that result.

As a side note, self buffed, Shadow Word: Death is usually enough to make a Penance-procced Divine Aegis dissolve.

RESULTS

Both test versions were performed multiple times.

Test 1:
Test 2:
CONCLUSIONS

Based on my not-really-very-scientific-either tests, it appears that in every scenario, Divine Aegis is used first for absorption.

However, I don't have any super fancy awesome addons that tell me how much absorption is left on each shield, so the alternative conclusion is that whatever bubble you have with the least amount of absorption value left is the one used first.

Ideally, this would be the best way for the absorption priority to work - the bubble with the least amount of absorption left gets used up first, thereby preventing it from being wasted.

DISCUSSION

The main reason I suspect this is NOT the case is due to the inability to cast a new Power Word: Shield on someone that is "less powerful" than the one they are currently wearing, even if the current remaining absorption value is lower. This is in response to a question I posted yesterday - if you've ever received the "a stronger spell is currently in effect" error message when trying to bubble someone, you have run into this scenario. When you cast your first bubble on them, your spellpower was higher via a proc, or buff, or something like that, and therefore your bubble bigger. When you go to cast another bubble on them before the current one has expired, but after weakened soul has fallen off, you are unable to do so because now your spellpower (and therefore your bubble) is lower. It doesn't matter if there is only 10 hit points worth of absorption left on your target - it uses the original value of the bubble to determine priority.

The system is not currently "smart" enough to recognize this, most likely because it doesn't do a very good job of tracking the remaining absorption value on a shield. Therefore, "whatever bubble you have with the least amount of absorption value left" is most likely NOT the first one used, because I don't think the system recognizes that.

Feel free to leave me your thoughts, criticisms, suggestions, and results of any tests you perform yourself in the comments. I may try this again with some better addons to validate the potential alternative conclusion. It's a bit tricky, because you have to be very careful with the timing.
Blue Posts and Disc Questions
Firstly, a little note about the Battered Hilt drop rate change.

First, Battered Hilt drop rate was very high. Then they changes it so it was very low. It has been changed again to be a little bit of a higher drop, but accordingto Zarhym:

In light of this change, we are also removing the chance for the Battered Hilt or any other epic item to drop from the Skeletal Slaves in the Pit of Saron. The need to “farm” these creatures for the Battered Hilt should be reduced by our first in-game fix and will no longer result in a chance for epic loot or Battered Hilts.


Now, on to Disc Priest stuff.

Ghostcrawler says:

If a group is getting on to you for using PW:Shield as a Discipline priest (or jeez even a Holy priest), you have my permission to say "GC says you're doing it wrong."


*points indignantly* SO THERE

I am trying to better understand the mechanics of Power Word: Shield for Disc priests. I intend to make a post on the PlusHeal forums about it I suppose, but I decided that first I would ask my readers, because I am lucky to have obscenely (and almost offensively) smart readers who correct me every time I screw things up, so I have no shame in asking them for answers. Gimme.

  • When a character is bubbled (be it through Power Word: Shield or Divine Aegis), what is the priority of damage mitigation? For example, say I bubble up my PallyTankMate Fuubaar. Will the bubble absorb damage BEFORE she blocks, dodges, resists, dances, etc, or will her mitigation go into effect first, and the bubble absorbs the remaining damage she would have taken? This may seem like a no brainer to most I guess, but I find myself wondering sometimes, and wanting confirmation.
  • Is there any record (aside from Recount Guessed Absorbs, which is truly an educated guess) of exactly how "big" my shields are each time I cast them? It's frustrating to not know exactly how much more damage my shield will prevent before it dissolves.
  • Assuming all my buffs are the same, will all my shields be the same size, unlike my heals?
  • Can shields crit (yes, I know the glyphed heal can, but I mean the size of the shield)? Since bubbles are related to spellpower for Disc priests, I am curious about all these things that normally affect heal size.
  • If a target has both Divine Aegis and Power Word:Shield on them, which will absorb the damage first? Does Divine Aegis absorb damage in exactly the same way as Power Word: Shield (see first question)?
  • Bonus question (Becky asked this in a comment, and it's a question I have as well that I forgot to ask) - On occasion, even once Weakened Soul has dropped off a target, I am restricted from rebubbling the target, and get an error message that says the target has a stronger spell currently in effect - this is not from another priest, because I get it even when there are no other priests around. It is possible that this is caused by me bubbling someone when a trinket or something else procs that boosts my spellpower, and therefore when I go to bubble the target again, my spellpower is lower, and it will not allow me to do put a smaller bubble on the target? Also, when I get this error message, does this mean that the ORIGINAL bubble was stronger, and still has enough absorbtion left that it is bigger than if I were to cast a new, or is it simply that the original bubble was stronger, regardless of whether or not most of it has been used up?

These are the questions I ponder as I slowly move from novice Disc Priest to a more experienced one... and I'd like to know better what all I'm doing before I move into ICC10 this Thursday!
Some Days You're the Dog, Some Days You're the Hydrant
I wanted to get one of my fiance's toons through the ICC5 man questline, so several of us in our guild decided to run through the three ICC dungeons on heroic. Unfortunately, I'd already run the first two on heroic, so I was saved on my priest. You know what comes next.

I had no choice but to bring out the RETPALLYOFDOOM. Our resident shammy did the healing, and we pugged the fifth slot.

To the hunter who joined us, thank you for your patience. You must have thought we were awful. Of course, the four of us were chatting in guild chat and vent, but our pugged fifth had no idea we were all talking. At some point in the beginning of the run, I noticed the hunter was inspecting me, and I figured "oh here comes the schpeel." But she never said a thing.

And five minutes later, I looked at my own gear, and noticed I was wearing my holy set, not my ret set.

As per my typical Pally rotation (Judge -> Divine Storm -> Die) i spent a lot of time facedown on the floor. No, I did not get out of whirlwinds. Whenever there was bad stuff on the floor, I was most likely standing in it. Also, I was never attacking the right guy. Again, I just flailed my axe around wildly, thankful that Gordin is a Dwarf and therefore short, and hoping I hit something that was unfriendly. (Part of the reason why I'm so awful at melee is that I just can't make any sense of stuff that's happening right on top of me, i.e. in melee range - I need to be at a distance from it. That's my excuse anyway)

But the hunter never said a critical word. Her DPS was three times as high as mine, and I also kept forgetting to give her the proper Might buff, because I hadn't loaded PallyPower.

In fact, she even joined us in the next heroic, Pit of Saron. She wasn't especially talkative (but of course, neither were we in party chat, since we were talking in vent), but whenever she spoke, she was very friendly and polite.

The whole time I failed miserably, I wanted to shriek "No really! I'm not an awful player! I have a priest, and I swear she's really good! IM NOT A TOTAL FAILURE I SWEAR", but I resisted the urge.

We parted ways after the second instance so that I could jump on my priest, and we could do some other group changes, since GordinDwarfTank had to leave.

And as the hunter left the party, I thought to myself, "What a great pug." She likely had run through these heroics multiple times at a much higher speed, with much fewer deaths. She was possibly very frustrated with my failness. But she never said a critical word, and instead just went cheerfully about her business. Maybe somewhere right now she's writing a blog post about this truly awful ret pally she met in a pug the other day... and I wouldn't blame her.

So let me just take a moment to thank our Shammy who was healing, and hopefully laughing at my utter failure, and not cursing me. And also to you, anonymous pugged hunter. Thanks for your patience, and for not pointing out how much I suck. I will never forget your kindness - and I have no doubt you will earn your "The Patient" title!
Sunday PuG 'n Pray: omg WHAT are you WEARING?!
As my friends and I were doing some table top gaming on Friday night, our newest WoW playing member mentioned that he was nervous about using the LFG tool, particularly once he hit level 80, because he has a great fear of walking into a group, and having the not a-typical "omg... WHAT are you WEARING?" response. I hated to say it... but his concern is valid - and I find it very frustrating.

A Year Ago...

Remember when Heroics were hard? I'm not even talking about TBC-Heroic hardness... I'm talking about when you leveled your first toon to 80, and you were gearing up to raid not long after Wrath was released. Back when Naxx, VoA, and OS were our only raiding options. Did you jump straight into Naxx in your quest blues and greens, with one or two crafted epics?

For most of us, in order to gear ourselves up for raiding, we ran heroics. We ground our way through an entire dungeon, picking up one or two blue upgrades along the way, mostly in the hopes of getting a nice shiny epic to drop at the end that might be what we want. Heroics didn't always give badges, if you recall.

Remember when Heroics were genuinely a challenge for you? In our guild, we fought amongst ourselves, arguing with each other over the specs we were using, or the spells, or who ought to be healing or tanking or whatever. It was draining, we got frustrated, and often felt like we couldn't do it. Utgarde Pinnacle and Culling of Stratholme brought us into several raging arguments, and for some time, we just stopped running Heroics altogether.

These Days...

It is a lot easier to gear yourself up now, and I think we can all agree on that - even before the new LFG tool, people could chain heroics in a pug, and pick up enough emblem gear to be ready for the latest tier of raiding content. This is intentional, and exactly what Blizzard wanted to happen. The entire point was so that people wouldn't have to spend weeks grinding through old raiding material that raiding guilds didn't want to touch in order to be ready for the current content. Love it or hate it, it is working as intended.

However, in order to get to that end game raiding content gear level, you still have to somehow bridge the divide between Fresh 80 In Quest Greens And Blues and End Game Gear Level. And the best way to do that has always been, and still is, running Heroics.

So why do end game raiders seem so shocked and appalled by the mere presence of people using Heroics to do exactly that... gear up?

In an LFG PuG earlier this weekend, I landed myself in a HCoS run. Everyone except for the elemental shammy was very well geared. In fact, the tank was in a recognizable raiding guild on my server... a guild that includes a few realm first type things, if I recall properly.

The tank whispered me and said "looks like were going 2b carrying this dam shammy lol". He then made a point to tell all the dps to pump out the damage in order to make up for the shammy who was in unenchanted and ungemmed blues and purples. Since healers and tanks usually have some sort of strange bond, and since I was fairly well geared, I guess he thought I would sympathize with his devastating woe.

My response?

"... So?"

The shammy stayed out of fires. She even did a healthy 2k dps in her gear. We finished the run with 10 minutes left to the timer, and she even passed on the drake to someone else who wanted it.

Despite the fact that the tank continued to send me tells bitching to me about the crap dps, we had absolutely no problems. Maybe the tank and I carried the others through. So what? No one died, they all did enough damage that we were successful, and I got the badges I wanted.

I can imagine it would be more frustrating if you are a very strong DPS with a weak tank and healer combo, but luckily, in all but the newest heroics, my heals are strong enough to where I can make up for a lot of errors others make, and get what I want from the heroic. As long as everyone is courteous and friendly, or at least honors the "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all" rule, I'm perfectly content - you can even stand in the fire on occasion, and I don't really care.

Before you jump into a pug, consider this: There are generally two types of people using the LFG pugging tool to gear up. Those who are gearing up solely via grinding heroics for the badges, and those who are gearing up via the items that actually drop from these heroics. Even for a lot of the raiders there are some good drops in the new IC 5 mans, but I'm not even talking about those. You may just end up with someone who still considers the epic that drops from the final boss in Heroic Utgarde Keep an upgrade.

(I'm not sure yet if the tool matches people of similar gear quality, as this has been up for some debate and anyone who can provide a source confirming the subject gets personal Power Infused thanks!)

If you want to chain grind heroics on high speed, that's fine. Blizz thinks that's okay, and so do I. But you should also respect the fact that for people who have just hit 80, they have a right to use the LFG tool in an effort to gear up as well. Don't be a jerk.

You could even follow the Tamarind Method of Wanker Prevention if you're feeling especially generous. For the record, I read his post several times before I understood it properly. If you play alliance, don't forget that everytime Tam refers to the DPS with whom he partnered a "cow", I'm almost positive he's pointing out that she was a Tauren, and not some other less courteous descriptor. Unless my context reading udderly failed. (CWUTIDIDTHAR)
Pink Pigtail Inn - Best of '09!
Larisa wants to know what YOU think the best moments were of 2009!

And when Larisa asks, how can you resist answering?

Best Raid Instance - Well my vote goes to Eye of Eternity. I loved that place, even if I could never get a group because everyone else seemed to hate it!

Least Successful raid instance - Definitely ToC. The vast majority of raiders simply hated it. Part of me thinks it was a bit of a joke on Blizzard's part - "oh you want less trash? Faster raids? Well here you are, how do you like 'dem apples?"

Silliest Gold Sink - The Dun Niffelem mammoths. They don't do anything interesting except keep you from getting into the bank in Stormwind, and block the flight masters so that others will report you.

Most longed for instance - Icecrown, hands down.

Most juicy guild drama - Oh bother. I obviously have not been paying enough attention to the gossip in the Inn! I can't think of any particularly juicy guild gossip.

Biggest Addition to the Game - Dual Spec! It might not have been as exciting for the full DPS classes, but for the healers and tanks, it allowed us to do a little more solo content!

Best Quest - There was a little quest offered in Dalaran near the capital portals, and its only requirement was for you to bring a journal to a new NPC hanging out in Darnassus. This new NPC, Archmage Mordent Evenshade of The Highborne, is presumably the start of the lore allowing Night Elves to be mages - and is a warning of the coming Cataclysm! Little quests like these that require so little but give so much background are great fun to me.

Ugliest Tabard - Wyrmest Accord. Honestly. Your leader is the hottest Belf evar and you can't come up with a better looking tabard? Yeesh.

Favourite Non-Combat Pet - This spot goes to Stinker who provided countless hours of amusement to Fuubaar and I in Naxx, while we tried to fill out our 25 man groups. I don't know why the sight of her pet Stinker chasing after my black cat and repeatedly getting his heart broken was so entertaining, come to think of it. Why are we so mean? Poor Stinker.

Most charming Blizzard employee - Actually, I have a bit of a crush on Bornakk, if you hadn't picked it up from my emoted swoons and such whenever I quote something he says on the forums. It is completely due to the fact that he is courteous, funny, a bit of an underdog, and a sexy, sexy orc.

Best podcast - Save or Die Radio. Not that I'm biased or anything. Okay, it's not WoW specific, but it's manna for gamers.

Biggest Blog Facelift - I'm going to give this a somewhat liberal translation, and assume it means something beyond just a new "look". In that case, Forbearance and Righteous Orbs are a tie for me. Forbearance for combining the forces of the illestretpally Jong with the random rapping of OOMegan. Righteous Orbs for throwing together Sissy Robe donning Tamarind with math geek Ideathtard Chas. Both are perfect examples of combined forces in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Most memorable blog post - Perhaps this is only because it is somewhat recent, but the Gevlon v Marko post (in which I learned that *popcorn* is, in fact, a valid emote), which elicited commentary from multiple wow blogs was immensely entertaining.

Most noticed blogger breakthrough - Undoubtedly Gevlon takes this prize, if for no other reason than that he has made some of the most memorable posts, inspired some of the most rampant drama, and gone to great lengths to provide evidence for his stances.

Most solid content provider - My favorite thing about Killing 'Em Slowly is that I know there will be a post every weekday. I may not know the exact timing, but I can rely on the fact that there will be something, and it won't just be a "sorry no time to write today!" post. When I started this site, it was the best advice Fulguralis gave me - posting at regular intervals, so people know what to expect, and I've tried to adhere to that principle - one I feel Ful himself has mastered.

Most hugged blogger - Well that's easy... is there anyone more huggable than Larisa herself? Perhaps Gnomeageddon would qualify as a very close second. I'm noting a pattern here. There is something particuarly huggable about gnomes. I guess if you're Horde, you can translate that into "puntable", but just you wait until you get your goblins. Then we'll see who's getting punted.


I would like to add another question, though it is entirely up to Larisa whether she will include it in her decision. "Blogger Most Likely to Succeed in 2010" - And by this, I mean a new WoW blog that shows an extraordinary amount of promise. My vote here goes to Life in Group 5, a relatively new Healing Shaman blog that I think will quickly come to be a solid replacement for the hole left by Healing Way. Vixsin doesn't make overly frequent posts, but the posts he does make are extensive, thorough, and very informative.
Jaina says I'm a Hero!
The strangest thing has happened over the course of the past week or so. Somehow I suddenly became - dare i say it? - a good healer.

Now, I'm not saying I wasn't a good healer before. To be quite frank, I really don't know if I was a good healer or not. I tried to make up for whatever I lacked by being generally jovial and apologetic. Oh and being a dwarf, and therefore awesome. It's not like you have to be some expert WoW player to surf on over to blogger.com and create a healing blog after all. Don't be fooled by all the *sparkly* rhetoric.

While this revelation did not occur to me until last night, it began on Monday night in our regular 10 man ToC run.

For various reasons, the entire night was somewhat frustrating for me because I am the kind of person that really needs to focus in order to do well. Some people can pay attention to 18 different things at once, and still do a great job - not me. One thing I canNOT multitask is conversation. When one person is talking to me IRL, someone is asking me questions in vent, I'm trying to keep up with both raid and guild chat, and then multiple people are sending me tells, I just lose it. It probably comes from deep seated guilt issue involving a childhood friend and a dog, or an abusive half aunt twice removed or something, but I can't drop a conversation when someone is talking to me. I feel like I need to keep up my end, or else I'm a total failfriend.

Yet somehow, through the tears and frustration, and arguments, we got to Anubrekhan for only the second time in our short ToC10 experience, and we two shot him. And it was the best New Patch Eve raid ever. I was finally able to accept that 3.3 was coming, and embrace the new content knowing that I had finally seen the last of the old. True, it wasn't hard mode, and it wasn't 25 man, but I don't really care.

And the best part is, we successfully made it through phase 3 the very first time we'd ever seen it. I thought for sure it would be a struggle for us healers. But as a Disc priest? It's just awesome. I spent the entire time throwing bubbles and making last second saves with uber bursty Penance. Three times I let someone get below 5% health before I finally blasted them with a Penance. It was like this delicate ballet, and I was in the middle doing my Penance Pirouette.

And just as I'm really starting to have fun and get my groove on, SHAZAM I have a new achievement, and I'm looking around me saying "What? That's it?"

****

Yesterday I successfully pugged several of the new 5 mans as well as some other random heroic dungeons.

The crowning moment each time for me was Ick & Krick. Similar to the rogue in ToC 5 man, there are pools of poison that spawn in which you do not want to stand. But what I noticed was that you can see the pool splurge poison thingies being thrown at you, so you can move out of the way before they land (although you do seem to take one tick of damage before they even land, which is rather annoying).

I guess to many others this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but to me it was. For once, I proved that I am capable of good situational awareness. Before I specced Disc, I was always staring at healing bars, and never noticed these things. The difference is that as Holy, you are reacting to the damage people take, whereas for Disc, you are primarily trying to prevent it. Since you are attempting to prevent the damage, you need to be more aware of what damage is coming in - and if you have everyone shielded, you can afford to spare a few more glances around instead of glaring at green bars the whole time.

I'm not saying one spec is better than the other. But, having now healed higher end content in both specs, I'm integrating the lessons I learned from both of them and becoming a better healer because of it. (I was also quite proud of myself for spontaneously remembering to use Shackle Undead during Halls of Reflection on annoying random ranged ghosts.)

The point of this post is not to toot my own horn. My entire premise for writing this blog, and for reading so many other healing blogs, is that I firmly believe that we become better healers by learning about other healing classes. Although Holy/Disc are not two different classes, they are vastly different specs. And I can say, without any hesitation, that learning both specs has improved my healing skills for each one. It goes beyond healing better with members of different classes and specs, and relates more to the different skills used for each healer type.

Holy taught me trigger finger reflex response.

Disc taught me awareness of incoming damage.

Shadow taught me that just because a spell looks weak on the tooltip doesn't mean it's not super strong in practice. (Why hello there Vampiric Touch, so nice to meet you.)
If there's a bandwagon, I want to drive
First, the requisite "What I Did On Patch Day" component.

When I left work on Tuesday, I went straight to the store, bought "Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince" on DVD, and watched it twice before going to bed early. While watching my movie, I logged on to wow only to throw some new glyphs and items on the AH. Turns out this was a very smart thing to do, as I somehow raked in 2k gold in that one night, and I'm notoriously bad at making money via the AH. I had no desire to deal with too much patch drama after a long day at work.

Yesterday I woke up early, and decided there was no way I was venturing out into the awful outdoors because it was all cold and wet and stuff. I had told Ful I had no plans to stay home the day after the patch was released, but I'm finnicky and change my mind at the drop of a hat. Call it spontaneous if you like. Sorry, Ful. I slept most of the day anyway.

I enjoyed the new LFG tool. I ran the new dungeons several times on regular, so that I would not be saved when my guildies logged on later, in hopes we could run heroic versions then. Unfortunately, that did not happen - when a few of my guildmates logged on, we decided to try it on regular first. Despite breezing through it in pugs, we really struggled last night as a group. I think part of it was being tired, part of it was group makeup. I don't know.

Now I'm trying to assemble the perfect ICC 10 man group. Headaches galore.

This post is so booooring that it's putting me to sleep. So you get a pass for skimming through it amongst the other 127 blog posts about first day patch impressions!
The Gamer Couple
There is something attractive about gaming couples. It's not just that people all over are jealous of those whose significant others "get it", but there can be a significant bonus when people come in a pair. Especially if one of the pair is a healer or a tank... or a healer and a tank combo. Of course, this also comes with its fair share of problems for raiding guilds... what if one player is brilliant, while the other can't seem to stay out of the fire? To get one, must you take the other?

Gaming couples are also often drawn to other gaming couples. The pre-raid fish feast can become like something of a dinner party. I have a very extensive friends list, and sometimes I imagine that every single gaming couple on my server and faction is on my friends list. This scenario is actually one of the reasons for my guild name... after about the 8 millionth dungeon run in which I recruited some of my couples-friends to join us, a guild mate cleverly inquired whether I was starting the Lothar Swingers Club. The rest is history.

As someone who is one half of a gaming couple, I've had plenty of people tell me they are jealous of my circumstances. How nice it would be to have someone with whom you can share your gaming hobby! For the record, this attitude usually comes from males. Read into that what you will.

So let me go on the record right here by stating that gaming and raiding with your significant other is definitely not all hearts and butterflies.

Even if you aren't both competing against one another for a raid slot, there are still plenty of problems. Look, raiding is a tense environment and therefore can add a lot of stress to your relationship if you aren't careful. If you're sitting at your computer, alone IRL, screaming at the monitor and throwing your keyboard against the wall, there's no one there to see you act like a fool. However, your significant other may not be so impressed with that clever curveball you just threw with your mouse.

Remember this - when you have a criticism to make of another member of your raid, you have to make an effort to say something to them. By this, I mean you usually need to key vent to yell at them, which gives you a slight moment to reconsider whether this is what you really want to do. When you are sitting next to the person who just took a nap in the fire, there is no brief moment of pause to reconsider before screaming at them for being a complete idiot.

If you're pissed off at someone in your raid, or just generally ticked because things are not going well, there is a scapegoat sitting right next to you on whom you can vent all your anger. This is not exactly what one might call "ideal relationship conditions". Heaven forbid that person try to tell you how to play your character or class. Try sitting quietly while the other person leads a raid, and you just know they're doing it all wrong.

The worst part is when in game squabbles and real world arguments collide. Oh, I'm terribly sorry, did I forget to heal you? It must have been because I was so distracted by how fat you implied my ass looks in these jeans. Dear me, I simply didn't DPS that snobold down fast enough to prevent your death. I wonder if it was related to you calling my mother a shrew? Sometimes wife aggro is a lot worse when your wife is a fellow gamer.

It's silly, though a bit funny, to bring real world arguments into the gaming universe. But it's much worse to bring the gaming disagreements into the real world. I really am ashamed to admit how often my anger has been sparked by something my fiance did (or didn't do) in game that left me in a huff for the next day. Don't touch me, you loot-whoring nazi of a raid leader! Why didn't you stick up for me when so and so complained about my abilities? Why is your gear not properly enchanted and gemmed? Why haven't you paid me back for all that Mooncloth I sent you? I'm actually quite bad about it, embarassingly enough.

So, I write this post as something of a public apology for doing this. Also as a reminder that though the game is not "real life", the relationships and the people within are. I'm very lucky to have someone who shares my love of gaming, and I certainly have no wish to discount that. But that doesn't mean there aren't some struggles in spite of it. Balancing a real life with gaming can sometimes be a lot easier when your partner shares your hobby... and sometimes it can be a lot harder. In truth, if you have deep seated relationship issues, oftentimes gaming together can bring them out and highlight them.

However, I do have to say that the time my fiance wiped the CoS group because he was busy buying me a Bouquest of Black Roses is one of my happiest memories. Especially since I don't mind at all that I've received a lot more in game flowers than I have IRL. They're cheaper, and they don't die ;)



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Frost Emblem Gear
But... but... I don't WANT to replace Je'Tze's Bell! Even if Purified Lunar Dust is far superior... I mean, my name is Jessabelle :(

Thank goodness we finally have a cloak upgrade.

Now, how do I feel about Gloves of Ambivalence? Anh. Meh. >shrug< You get the idea ;)



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3.3 Icecrown Citadel 10 Man - First Phase

I'm going to repeat what I said earlier for emphasis.

NONE OF THIS IS MY WRITING. Every speck of this came from the lovely folks at WoWHead, via ArgentSun explanations, or comments from generous readers - all from WoWHead. The ONLY thing I have done is compile it in one spot, for those of us who are lazy and need one place, and also for those of you who cannot access wowhead from work and are desperate for new patch stuff today.


Lord Marrowgar

Icecrown Citadel

The Lower Spire
Lord Marrowgar
Lady Deathwhisper
Gunship Battle
Deathbringer Saurfang

Overview

Being the first boss of a new raid, Marrowgar is not an overly complicated fight. You will need at least one soaking offtank, because of the Saber Lash cleaves (think Nalorakk). He will also shoot a line of Coldflame at a random target. The projectile moves like a spear until it hits a wall, but inflicts large amount of damage per second to anyone caught in it - simply making a few steps aside is enough to avoid it. The tanks are immune to Coldflame. Bone Spike Graveyard is another thing to watch out for - Marrowgar will choose 2 (25-player: 3) people and impale them on ice spikes. The people will take some physical damage, become incapacitated, and continue losing 10% health for every second they remain impaled. The DPS should kill the spikes as soon as possible.


The last thing to watch out for is the Bone Storm. A few seconds before it's cast, Marrowgar will emote a raid-wide warning "Lord Marrowgar falls apart and his bones begin to spin!". The spell works very much like Stormcaller Brundir's Lightning Tendrils - Marrowgar chooses a random target and pursues them for a number of seconds, moving in a whirlwind of bones, switching his targets periodically. Anyone caught by the whirlwind will take physical damage and have a physical damage DoT applied to them every 2 seconds. Must be avoided.

Normal 10-Man Abilities

  • Saber Lash - Inflicts 200% weapon damage split evenly between the target and its 2 nearest allies.
  • Coldflame - Inflicts 6,000 Frost damage every 1 second for 3 seconds to anyone caught by the moving line of frost.
  • Bone Spike Graveyard - Hurls a spike at a random player, impaling all players between the boss and the target on Bone Spikes, inflicting 9,000 direct Physical damage, and additional 10% health as damage every 1 second until the spike is destroyed.
  • Bone Storm - Inflicts 6,000 Physical damage every 2 seconds to players caught in the Bone Storm. The entire storm lasts ~20 seconds.

Lady Deathwhisper

Icecrown Citadel

The Lower Spire
Lord Marrowgar
Lady Deathwhisper
Gunship Battle
Deathbringer Saurfang

Overview

The key element of the fight is management of DPS, that will need to be split between the adds in phase 1, and Deathwhisper's mana shield.

During phase 1 Lady Deathwhisper will have a mana shield that will absorb all the damage done to her. She will attack the raid with Death and Decay, Shadow Bolts, and occasional Mind Controls, none of which should be too dangerous. The second component of the phase, the adds that come, could cause troubles.

Adds will come in waves from the sides of the room - 3 Adherents and 3 Fanatics total per wave. Adherents can only be DPSed through physical damage, and Fanatics - only by spells. The important things to watch out for with the Adherents is the Shroud of the Occult + Deathchill Blast combination used right after Lady Deathwhisper casts Dark Empowerment on them. Curse of Torpor should be removed as quickly as possible, and Dark Martyrdom should be avoided. For the Fanatics, a paladin tank is recommended. They are nothing special overall. Burn them when they have Vampiric Might, and run away from Dark Martyrdom.

Phase 2 begins when Lady Deathwhisper's mana barrier has been drained - which means that either some of your DPS should stay on the boss, or you should have everybody clear the adds quickly and use the time until the next wave to burn the boss' mana. Either way, in phase 2 she becomes active and a tank needs to pick her up quickly, as there is no threat reset. A second tank will need to be ready to pick up the boss, since she will periodically debuff her current tank with threat generation reduction debuff. The two will switch every 2-3 stacks. Everybody else should be mindful of the Vengeful Shades that will be spawned and will chase people - get away from them, let ranged DPS kill them from afar. Melee DPS might want to set up an interrupt rotation, since the Frostbolt can hurt a lot - or you can have a tank with 1-2 pieces of Frost resistance gear, Deathwhisper is not a very tank-heavy fight.

Normal 10-Man Abilities

Lady Deathwhisper

Phase 1

Phase 2

  • Frostbolt - Inflicts 40,950 to 43,050 Frost damage to the current target. Can be interrupted.
  • Death and Decay - Inflicts 4,500 Shadow damage every 1 second to enemies within the area of the spell. The entire spell lasts 10 seconds.
  • Dominate Mind - Mind Controls 2 players, increasing their damage by 200% and healing by 500%. Lasts 12 seconds.
  • Touch of Insignificance - Reduces the target's threat generation by 20% per application. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Summon Vengeful Shade - Summons a Vengeful Shade from the body of a dead Adherent or Fanatic.
    • Vengeful Shade - Pursues a random target and casts Vengeful Blast when in melee range of that target.

Cult Adherents & Reanimated Adherents

  • Adherent's Determination - Makes the Adherent nearly immune to magic damage. Passive.
  • Frost Fever - Inflicts 2,375 to 2,625 Frost damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds, and reduces attack speed by 14%. Disease.
  • Shroud of the Occult - Deflects all harmful spells back to their caster. Also prevents cast interrupting. Absorbs 50,000 damage before breaking. Cast when Empowered.
  • Deathchill Bolt - Inflicts 6,938 to 8,062 Shadowfrost damage.
  • Deathchill Blast - Inflicts 9,250 to 10,750 Shadowfrost damage to all enemies within 10 yards. Cast when Shrouded.
  • Curse of Torpor - Increases a player's spell cooldowns by 15 seconds. Curse.
  • Dark Martyrdom - Inflicts 12,000 Shadowstorm damage to players within 15 yards. Cast near death.

Cult Fanatics & Reanimated Fanatics

  • Fanatic's Determination - Makes the Fanatic nearly immune to physical damage. Passive.
  • Necrotic Strike - Inflicts 70% weapon damage and applies a debuff Necrotic Strike that absorbs the next 9,000 healing done to the target.
  • Vampiric Might - Increases all damage by 25% and heals the Fanatic for 300% of the damage he inflicts. Cast when Empowered.
  • Shadow Cleave - Inflicts 14,250 to 15,750 Shadow damage to enemies in front of the Fanatic.
  • Dark Martyrdom - Inflicts 12,000 Shadowstorm damage to players within 15 yards. Cast near death.

Gunship Armory

Icecrown Citadel

The Lower Spire
Lord Marrowgar
Lady Deathwhisper
Icecrown Gunship Battle
Deathbringer Saurfang

The Icecrown Gunship Battle is a unique event that serves as the third boss encounter in the Icecrown Citadel. During the event the Skybreaker and Orgrim's Hammer race to the second level of the Citadel. All players can talk to a goblin/gnome on their gunship and obtain a jetpack that allows them the jump between the two ships.

Overview

Winning the battle between the two gunships will require your raid to be carefully split between people defending your own ship, and people assaulting the enemy one.

Players staying on your faction's ship have two things to take care of. First, 3 people will need to man the cannons and attack the enemy ship. Rcoketeers will mark areas on the board and shoot (slow) rockets at them - it's easy to move away, do so. Axe Throwers/Riflemen will also shoot at people from across. Every 25% of the enemy gunship a mage will appear and freeze all of your cannons. The assaulting players will need to deal with him (see below), while the defenders deal with the squad of Reavers/Marines and a Sergeant that is being teleported. Both types gain damage and attack speed over time - so the longer they live, the more dangerous they will become. It is probably a good idea to have your ranged DPS defending, as they can avoid the Sergeant's whirlwind, and can also help the attackers (without using the jetpacks) when given an opportunity. As soon as the mage is dead and your board is secure, 3 of the defenders can re-enter the now-working cannons and continue shooting at the enemy's gunship, restarting the cycle.

The attackers have a couple of things to worry about as well. Saurfang/Muradin will try to annihilate your raid - have a tank on him, and be mindful of the stacking Battle Fury buff, which increases the commander's damage. If the buff starts getting to high, you will need to leave the ship for about 20 seconds and let it fall off. DPSing the leader is useless - have your DPS quickly burn the mages whenever they appear, and killing Axe Throwers/Riflemen and Rocketeers/Mortar Soldiers when no mages are present.

Normal 10-Man Abilities

Gunship Cannon

  • Heat - Gunship Cannons use Heat as a resource. Cannon Blast generates heat, Incinerating Blast consumes it. When a cannon's heat level reaches 100, the cannon becomes inactive for some time.
  • Cannon Blast - Inflicts 1,000 Siege damage and generates 6-10 Heat.
  • Incinerating Blast - Inflicts 1,000 Fire damage and additional Fire damage per point of Heat. Consumes all of the cannon's heat.

High Overlord Saurfang & Muradin Bronzebeard

  • Battle Fury - Increases all damage by 10%, stacking. Lasts 20 seconds, refreshed with each stack. Applied every time Saurfang or Muradin strike a target.
  • Cleave - Inflicts 110% weapon damage to up to 3 targets in front of Saurfang of Muradin.

All Troops

  • Experienced - Increases damage by 30%, and attack and casting speed by 20%. Applied if a soldier has been alive for more than ~20 seconds.
  • Veteran - Increases damage by 60%, and attack and casting speed by 40%. Applied if a soldier has been alive for more than ~40 seconds.
  • Elite - Increases damage by 120%, and attack and casting speed by 80%. Applied if a soldier has been alive for more than 60 seconds.
  • Desperate Resolve - Increases armor and attack speed by 60%. Applied when a soldier's health gets below 20%.

Kor'kron Sergeant & Skybreaker Sergeant

  • Bladestorm - Inflicts weapon damage to up to 4 nearby targets every 1 second for 6 seconds.
  • Wounding Strike - Inflicts 200% weapon damage and reduces all healing done to the target by 25% for 10 seconds.

Kor'kron Reaver & Skybreaker Marine

  • No unique abilities.

Kor'kron Axethrower & Skybreaker Rifleman

  • Hurl Axe - Inflicts 3,800 to 4,200 Physical damage.
  • Shoot - Inflicts 3,800 to 4,200 Physical damage.

Kor'kron Rocketeer & Skybreaker Mortar Soldier

  • Rocket Artillery - Targets an area on the players' ship and launches a rocket there. The rocket travels for a few seconds, causing an Explosion when it lands, inflicting 6,300 to 7,700 Fire damage to players and Siege damage to the gunship.

Kor'kron Battle-mage & Skybreaker Sorcerer

  • Below Zero - Freezes the enemy gunship's cannons, rendering them inactive. Channeled spell. Cannot be interrupted.

Deathbringer Saurfang

Icecrown Citadel

The Lower Spire
Lord Marrowgar
Lady Deathwhisper
Gunship Battle
Deathbringer Saurfang

Deathbringer Saurfang, formerly known as Dranosh Saurfang, son of the most prominent orcish general, is the final boss in the entrance to the Icecrown Citadel. He is also the last boss players can fight in the first week(s) of the new patch. After him the raid instance splits into 3 wings (Crimson Halls, Frostwing Halls, Plagueworks), and progression between the wings becomes non-linear.

Overview

Saurfang is a tough fight. He does a lot of damage, he heals a lot.

There is only one phase to the fight, but that phase will really strain your DPS and Healers. Two tanks are required for this fight. The OT will be helping to kite the Blood Beasts and taunting Saurfang off the MT when they get Rune of Blood.

All players need to be spread out, so Blood Nova doesn't hit multiple people. Several hits mean Saurfang will gain more damage and energy through Blood Power. Boiling Blood is just a DoT healers will need to take care of - the fact that it does physical damage suggests that it might be removable by Hand of Protection and Iceblock. Use those abilities if you can, they will keep the Blood Power stack lower.

When Rune of Blood happens on the MT, the OT should taunt the boss at least for the duration of the Rune - or the MT can pick the boss back up when the OT gets Rune.

Mark of the Fallen Champion will happen several times during the fight. Players marked with it will likely need massive heals and survival cooldowns. Hand of Protection and Iceblock help here too, you might want to save them for Marks instead of Boiling Blood. The damage is transferred after armor reduction, so a tank with high physical damage reduction is especially helpful. With all the healing going on in this fight, it is very important not to lose people - especially when they heal the boss even more. The mark is permanent, so it is possible that you will have somebody die.

And finally, the Blood Beasts. Saurfang will summon them around him, and he will summon them frequently. You can either assign certain DPS to peel off the boss and kill the adds whenever they spawn, or you can have everyone moving off the boss. The balance between boss and adds seems similar to the last phase of Yogg-Saron's encounter. I would recommend having just enough DPS to kill a set of adds before the next one spawns, and everybody else staying on the boss at all times.

Normal 10-Man Abilities

  • Blood Link - Triggers Blood Power every time Saurfang or his Blood Beasts inflict damage with an ability. Also increases Saurfang's energy by 1.
  • Blood Power - Increases damage and size by 1%. Applied through Blood Link.
  • Mark of the Fallen Champion - Causes Saurfang's melee attacks to hit the marked target as well as the tank. The marked player takes 4,275 to 4,725 additional Physical damage from each attack. If a marked player dies while the Mark is up, Saurfang heals for 5% of his maximum health. Cast when Saurfang reaches 100 energy through his Blood Link energizing.
  • Frenzy - Increases Saurfang's attack speed by 30% and size by 20%.
  • Boiling Blood - Inflicts 5,000 Physical damage every 3 seconds for 24 seconds. Used on a random target.
  • Blood Nova - Inflicts 7,600 to 8,400 Physical damage to a random target and all players within 12 yards.
  • Rune of Blood - Marks a target with Rune of Blood, causing Saurfang's melee attacks against that target to leech 5,100 to 6,900 health from them, and heal the Deathbringer for 5 times that amount. Lasts 30 seconds.
  • Call Blood Beast - Summons 2 Blood Beasts.
    • Scent of Blood - Saurfang buffs the Blood Beasts, causing them to reduce the movement speed of all nearby players by 80%, while increasing the Beasts' damage by 300%. Lasts 10 seconds.
    • Resistant Skin - Decreases damage taken from AoE effects by 95%, from diseases by 70%, and from Shadow spells by 100%.

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