Let's just all have a group hug.

Our alliance makes our first attempt at Ulduar 25 tonight. I have only made a smattering of attempts at even Ulduar 10, and one ridiculous and ill-fated Ulduar 25 pug. Needless to say, I’m quite pumped. Coupled with that is the fact that for the first time in weeks, we had several healers sign up – to the point that I don’t think we will be facing any extreme problems in handling the healing situation.

About three weeks ago, when we began seriously discussing starting Ulduar, I ran across this post on wow.com. I took that advice very much to heart, and after starting a discussion on the item in our forums, and listening to what others in our Alliance had to say about it, the officers decided that the best way to handle Valan’yr was to let the entire Alliance decide. We chose to hold a vote.

This is how it will work. One healer will be designated as primary recipient of Valan’yr shards. A secondary healer will be designated as recipient for whenever the primary healer is unavailable. If neither of those healers are in the raid when a fragment drops, it goes to open roll for all healers. There will be no tier reductions for someone who receives a fragment (our loot system is a modified tier system).

After taking nominations via the Alliance forum, a poll thread was started with the nominees allowing everyone to vote. The healer who receives the most votes is designated as Primary recipient, and the one with the second largest number of votes is secondary recipient.

In most guilds, the officers will simply select the healer who “deserves” the fragments, and thus, eventually, the mace. I cannot express how happy and proud I am that we did not choose this approach. Perhaps it is because I am both a healer and an officer, but I did not want anyone to think I had an agenda of securing a legendary item solely for myself. It just breeds bad blood and resentment amongst our healers.

I didn’t actually expect to win the vote.

This isn’t some misplaced modesty. I didn’t vote for myself. As an officer, I was able to see who voted for whom, and over the past couple of days, as the vote has been progressing, I can’t even express the warmth I felt for my Alliance members. I mentioned earlier today that I am the kind of person that needs positive feedback. For weeks now I’ve felt I wasn’t doing a very good job – I’ve been absent due to real life circumstances. And to see so many of my fellow raiders show their support for me in spite of all that has really touched me.

I’m feelin’ the Valan’yr love. Some legendary items proc all kinds of warm gooey feelings.

As a side note, I respecced from holy/shadow to holy/disc, so that I can fulfill whatever role is needed most on our raids.
Hai guyz I am captain of the DRAMA CLUB!
The problem with that thing all WoW players know as “DRAMA” is that once the drama ball starts rolling, it’s hard to stop. You get caught in this sticky web, and the more you try and get out of the drama-vironment, the worse you seem to make it. It’s like there is a panic in the streets, and anything you say or do can and will be treated as MOAR DRAMA.

It usually doesn't stem from one source. We've got it running rampant in our Alliance right now, and it's not just from one person, I assure you. It's like a disease that is spreading quickly through our ranks. Hell, I've been suckered in myself, and contributed a lot more to it than I meant to.

The underlying sources of drama

The relative anonyminity of the internet allows us all to release our inner jerk. Yet, even despite this, the biggest problem is miscommunication, and even that comes down to basic human flaws. People are wimpy. It’s so much easier to tell someone they are doing a great job, than to tell them they suck. Now, for some people, it’s a helluva lot more fun to tell people they suck – but in general I don’t like spending time with those people anyway. Except my fiancĂ©, and that’s just because he’s cute.

It’s not easy to step up, and privately tell someone you don’t like what they are doing. It requires a lot of diplomacy. Doing it in anger will only make it worse, and if you can’t be calm and rational when expressing your grievances with someone, then you will most likely just make it worse. I’m a big proponent of positive honesty, and I have been accused of many things because of it.

It’s not easy to be that person who gets criticized – even when it’s done in a private, calm, rational way. I don’t take criticism very well and I’ll be the first to admit it. I know some people who always seem to assume the best about themselves – unless they are told they are doing a crappy job, they believe they are doing quite well. They give too much credence to kind compliments. I’m the extreme opposite of that particular type of benevolent arrogance. I always assume I’m doing everything wrong, and that I am crap at everything I do. Unless someone tells me I’m doing a good job, I assume I’m not. So if someone shoots criticism at me, it really shakes me – because I don’t need confirmation of my own failures.

If you cannot stand up and explain to someone how and why you are disgruntled with them, if you cannot appreciate the bravery it takes for someone to express their grievances about you TO you, then you are failing at mature human interaction. Being a WoW player doesn’t excuse you from mature human behavior.

From where I’m standing, that’s the source of the drama. People are being unfair to one another, and it all comes back to that fear of honesty. So let’s break it down.

  • It is unfair to expect others to fix a problem they do not realize exists.
  • Most people do not read minds. A lot of people who play this game are really dense. There’s no point in getting pissed off about something they cannot change about themselves. If you want more positive outcomes, you have to adapt. You cannot realistically expect others to know you are upset with them unless you TELL them – and tell them why.
  • Informing others that you are upset with them will likely not have a very positive response if you do it in a public fashion that is meant to attack, alienate, or accuse them.
  • If someone takes great pains to apologize to you for something they’ve done to upset you, or if someone goes to great effort to rectify their previous actions due to your criticisms, it is unfair to attack them in such a public setting. They are doing all they can to rectify their mistakes. Get over your grudges, and try to come at it with a clear head. Did they listen to your criticisms? Have their words and activities since you expressed your concerns shown a marked improvement? Are they at least trying? Give them credit.

Venting your frustration

Everyone gets pissed off about the ways things are being run in a guild or alliance from time to time. Sure, sure, if you had the ultimate power, I'm sure you could make it all better. Just ask Stalin.

Sometimes, all you want is to rant. It's cathartic. The thing is, you need to pick your rant location and audience carefully. Yesterday I was subjected to quite possibly the most amusing and annoying rant ever by a pretty good friend of mine. I could hold it against him, but truth be told - I'm glad he ranted to me instead of behind my back, or in a public forum. I'm especially glad that he chose to take it out on me instead of on the people who were the true sources of his anger. If we had been in the same room I probably would have punched him in the neck, but see, that's why the internet is so awesome. I would like to believe that he went off at me because he knew it was safe, and that I wouldn't hold it against him or anyone else. I know that my part in contributing to the current drama from which our group is suffering is due to my poor choice of rant locales and audiences. Go ahead and get out your frustrations, especially before you address them to the source, but take care not to influence others into a grudge they are unlikely to forgive anytime soon.

Drama can be prevented

I recently had a misunderstanding with a very dear friend of mine in the WoW universe. Luckily for both of us, it was only semi-public; Only a handful of people saw what we had to say. We both shed a lot of tears about it, and then talked about it privately, and understand a lot more about one another. Now we’re back to mutual adoration. It all stemmed from taking things too personally (on both sides) and possibly being less than forthright with one another. Why didn’t this escalate to full on guild/alliance level drama? Because instead of attacking one another in increasingly public spaces, we decided to handle it privately, and accept one another’s apologies.

We’re both girls. I am trying to decide if I think this has any bearing on the outcome. I am the anti-sexist, so I usually try to avoid such generalizations. But there’s a lot of testosterone in WoW, and there sure are a lot of temper tantrums. Is this a solid trend? Moar research required! I need a flow chart.

Basically, most drama can be prevented by calm honesty, discreet disagreements, and rampant forgiveness. We all screw up. And most of the time? Our mistakes are not malicious. We can’t always see things from another perspective, unless that perspective is specifically explained to us.

I have multiple examples of people with whom I disagree on a regular basis. Anyone who reads both of our blogs knows that Ful and I are polar opposites on a lot of issues – but despite the fact that we annoy the hell out of one another, we are equal opponents, and we consistently remain friends. Perhaps this is borne out of mutual respect. But that respect came from being honest with one another when we piss each other off. If it were not for that fact, we could easily continually instigate loads of drama.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that I know from experience such drama can be prevented, but I have very little patience for people who, instead of approaching disagreements with a clear head and a calm tongue, decide to spark drama. Is it a need for attention? Do you want people to beg for forgiveness so that you feel more powerful? Or do you simply feel that it’s not worth the energy to try to rectify the situation through more appropriate channels?

Regardless, I find the best way to deal with these types of misplaced acrimony is simply to ignore it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care – but I’d rather let it blow over, and instead focus my attention on those who find more productive means of conflict resolution.
A moment of silence....
I can't speak. I'm mourning the death of both Michael Jackson AND Billy Mays.

TV will never be the same.
RP Friday: Even Death Knights Deserve Love
NB: Seriously. It couldn't get any cheesier than this. Too bad! You'll take what you get - and you'll LIKE IT!

It was the eyes that caught me.

I'd always heard that eyes were the windows to one's soul. So I just thought his windows needed a good washing. The truth was, there was no soul to view - but the windows themselves captivated me.

And now here I am, years later, sitting in bed, reading my new book "Repairing Relationships with Circle of Healing", while sitting next to a pretty grumpy death knight. He's yelling at the TV, threatening to send people on over to the "other side" to hang out with Arthas. I roll my eyes and close my book, and decide it's time to start a game we haven't played in a little while.

I turn my big dwarven doe eyes over to him, and say, in the most earnest voice I can muster... "Darf? Honey? Why do you love me?"

He freezes - in that superior way only Death Knights can.

Slowly he turns his head to face me and gives me a suspicious look. "What do you mean 'why do you love me'?"

"Well what are your reasons? What are the details about me that made you fall in love with me?"

"Fall... in love... with... wha?"

".. Are you saying you don't love me? Is that what you're telling me?!" I start to leak wet stuff from my eyes. Now he's starting to panic. I'm evil, I really, truly am.

"Jessabelle... it's not that.. it's just that... Dammit I'm here aren't I? Isn't that enough of an answer?!"

Once he starts getting angry, I know that the game is over, so I lift my face and beam gloriously up at him. "Touche! Guess you're right."

His eyes narrow and he growls at me. That's kinda hot actually, hm. That ghoul needs to go, though.

I know he loves me, even though he is completely incapable of really saying it, or why he feels that way, and half the time of even showing it. I knew what I was getting into from the very beginning. I know his heart is frozen somewhere below Icecrown, and I know he scoffs at the mere concept of "empathy". But I also know that everytime I've tried to leave, he's Death Gripped me right back, pouting and chastising me in indignant rage. He doesn't know how to show love, but he has anger and resentment mastered. Sometimes I just have to fill in the blanks.

How did a healer such as myself end up with this guy anyway?

Well, behind every holy priest is a shadow priest just waiting to be dual specced. I guess I have my darker side too.

"You should stop pouting and turn out the lights, Darf."

"I don't want to go to sleep. I'm not tired, dammit."

"Who said anything about sleep? I'm not tired either."

Another suspicious glare, and then a deep mournful sigh.

"Oh alright. I'll power through it. The baron always told me to 'Suffer Well', after all."

The room goes dark at exactly the same moment my fist makes contact with his shoulder.

I am just a worthless liar
I am just an imbecile
I will only complicate you
Trust in me and fall as well
I will find a center in you
I will chew it up and leave
I will work to elevate you
Just enough to bring you down
3.2 and You - Holy Paladin changes
I'm going to start by listing the changes that will affect Holy Pallies (aside from what I mentioned yesterday) as currently stated over in the PTR patch notes.

  • Judgement of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.
  • Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.
  • Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal-over-time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds
  • Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.
  • Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.
  • Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.

Well, the changes to Illumination we’ve been “promised” for some time now are finally incoming. There are quite a few changes in store for Holy Pallies, and the nerfs and buffs are intended to balance one another, according to developers. Below is a blue explanation from Eyonix (I have cut out irrelevant portions of the quote – to see the original in full, you can go here).

"We are making far fewer changes to class mechanics overall in 3.2, but paladins in particular have some issues we feel are in need of being addressed[…]

We like that Holy paladins have a niche as single-target healers. The problem is we think this niche is a little too narrow at the moment. Furthermore, paladins don’t have a wide arsenal of healing spells so it’s important that all of them are being used.

First, we are changing Flash of Light so that it places a heal-over-time effect on any target with Sacred Shield on them (the effect will be similar to Sheathe of Light). This should make Flash see a little more use.

Second, and more importantly, we are changing the way Beacon of Light works. Currently, it does not count over-healing on the target. We are changing that. In other words, if you place Holy Light on a rogue who is already at full health, it will still have the full effect on a tank with Beacon of Light on them. This is a huge buff, particularly when you consider the Holy Light glyph which allows for a small amount of “splash” healing. This effect isn’t common when you use Holy Light on a tank because the tank is often standing alone. But if you heal the melee, you are likely to get a lot more total healing from this effect (while still healing the tank through Beacon of Light). We are also going to try to allow a target to have more than one beacon (i.e. from different paladins) on them.

[…]With the Beacon of Light change, the paladin can provide a lot more raid or party healing. To adjust for this, we are going to reduce the amount of mana returned by Illumination…”

This “official” explanation from Blizz frames the changes in a perspective intended to convince us all that Pallies have been given some major buffs, and the teeny tiny little nerfs that go along with it are simply meant to keep them from being OP. I won’t bother contesting that. I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. Please keep in mind that the exact numbers in the changes may be different once the patch goes to live servers, but rest assured that these changes are inevitable.

This patch is going to seriously alter the way Holy Pallies heal. While we won’t exactly be AoE/Raid healers, we are moving more in the direction of being, at least, dual target healers.

Let’s take it from the top, shall we? First off, the Judgement of Light change needed to happen. With two pallies in a raid, too many were confused on what pally should be using which judgment. Since Light is currently based off of some magical mathematical combination of spellpower + attack power, it is much more beneficial for a ret or prot pally to judge it currently, since holy pallies have no need for silly attack power, pshaw. But, because we are in a healing mindset, we always want to judge holy to heal. The tooltip and function is now much clearer. If I am understanding the change correctly, it doesn't really matter which pally uses this judgement. The return on it will individually vary based on the different people attacking that target - not on the Pally who initially judged it. This is a good change, IMO. (edit - thanks to Fuubaar for forcing me to look at this change again!)

Lay on Hands change is in line with the Inspiration change for priests. I think it’s intended to be a PvP buff, to counteract recent armor penetration changes. Sacred Shield – zomg pally HoT? Say it ain’t so! This is a pretty awesome change, and encourages us not to abandon Flash of Light simply because of the changes to overhealing via Holy Light and Beacon of Light.

The Beacon of Light change is the most important buff of all. Since pallies have historically been stacking crit and int as our main regen stats, we have a serious problem with overhealing. Now, we don’t need to worry about it nearly as much. In fact, there’s little need to actually purposely heal the tank for the most part. Throw on a Beacon of Light, and heal someone else somewhat nearby, and even if that person takes no damage, even if your entire heal on them is pure overheal, the target of your BoL (usually the tank) gets the FULL benefit of your overheal. Totally win. Not to mention the huge increase in radius range. Not to mention that now multiple pallies will be able to have the same target of light. Rock.

And then… we have the changes to Illumination and Divine Intellect talents. Of course we couldn’t simply have an awesome change to BoL without a negative factor to balance it out. Can’t have everything, folks. You can still stack crit and int for even the reduced returns on Illumination, because at least you don’t have to be as concerned about crit heals doing wasteful overhealing via BoL.

I’m very interested to see how these changes, coupled with the Mp5 and Replenishment modifications noted yesterday, will affect Pally mana regen. I personally think it’s a pretty awesome change to healing methods for Pallies, and I can’t wait to try it out.

I was going to include a guide on how this will change the way we heal, but there’s no need. Someone else much smarter than myself has already done it, and I highly encourage all the holy pallies to go give it a quick read. Holypaladin.net lists and describes how to modify your healing style, so go there, but if you can’t access it from work, here’s a super quick barebones outline of what is explained in much better detail there.

1. No more solo tank healing – you’ll need a little help from your fellow healers.
2. Only do a direct heal on the tank every 12 seconds or so with Flash of Light to keep up the HoT.
3. Be prepared to use Holy Shock and Holy Light a lot less often.

All in all, I’m surprisingly pleased with the changes coming in. I try to keep an open mind about how developers change mechanics, and I think the pally changes are fairly well balanced. I will hold my final judgment until I get a chance to try it via PTR though. There are also quite a few interesting changes incoming for other Pally specs, and when I'm done with my 3.2 healing series, I may revisit some of them.

I have enlisted the aid of two fellow alliance members to help with explanation and discussion regarding 3.2 changes for druids and shammies. My plan is to provide posts from these two lovely folks beginning of next week, so stay tuned!

Personal QQ
I do actually have a "real" post coming soon regarding 3.2 and pallies, but before I leave for work, I just need to rant.

I'm just plain exhausted.

Why are most of my posts appearing at 2 or 3 am? Why am I up so late anyway? The reality is that I'm NOT up late... I'm up early. I have a commute that is appoximately 1.5 hrs on a good day, and anywhere between 2 and 4 on a bad one. I have a certain number of hours I am required to fulfill at my internship per quarter (or semester for you normal uni students) - and I slacked off this past quarter, and left all my hours to the end. That means that I am literally scrambling to get in 9-12 hour days so that I can fulfill my hour requirement and not get booted from the program or lose my grad funding. 9 hour days = 45 hour workweeks, which wouldnt be that bad... except you have to add on the 3-4 hours i spend each day commuting. That totals to, oh 60 hour workweeks.

I have to have enough sleep or I risk falling asleep while driving. I cannot risk waking up late and not getting my hours in. That means that when I get home from work, around 6 or 7, I immediately go to bed. When my fiance gets home, sometime between 8 and 10, he pops into the bedroom to make sure I'm alive, and to wake me up just long enough so that I can see him, say hi, then go back to bed. When he comes to bed, around 2 or 3 in the morning, that's when I wake up. I haven't been able to talk to him much at all during the week. That's probably why I'm just as clueless as any of the other officers as to where he's been, what he's up to, why he may or may not respond on our fora. Kinda embarassing really... I live with the guy after all.

I hop on my laptop around 2am, scramble to get some much needed dailies in on both of my level 80s, as well as read up on what's happening in the wow world, and put together a halfway decent blog post. Then I take a super fast shower and speed on down the freeway to work.

Obviously, I haven't been able to do any weekday raids. That means my raiders have been short a healer - and we're already short on healers, so the raids have been struggling left and right. The officers in my alliance have been trying to put together an officer meeting, and the only way I can do it is if my fiance comes up, wakes me up for the meeting, and then I go straight back to bed afterwards. Not ideal, but a meeting is overdue, and I *have* to be there, for my own sanity.

All this is coupled with the fact that I need a refill on my medication, as my stores are dwindling - but, I need a doctor's appointment, and I have neither time nor money at the present moment for that. That means I'm trying to stretch it out - something I should be taking every day religiously is now being taken every 3 or 4 days. Which means it's a good thing I'm sleeping when others are awake, because I might crack at any second. I'm dizzy and faint like you wouldn't believe. I stumble when I walk. At least I have no problems driving!

The good thing is that my internship finally ends tomorrow, so my sleeping schedule can go back on track. Unfortunately for my raiding addiction, my fiance and I are heading out of town for one of our twice yearly visits with my family for a week. I can't exactly postpone it... my gigantic crazy cajun family wants to drink a lot of moonshine in celebration of our recent engagement.

So I will just have to continue powering through it for the next couple of weeks, and hope that everyone in my alliance doesn't forget me. At least I can still access our website and fora from work, so I've been making a distinct effort to make my presence known there. >sigh<
3.2 and You - 3.2 Priest and mana changes.
Over the next several days, I will be addressing different pieces of the incoming 3.2 patch that is now on PTR. I could try to make one post about it all, but it would be very very long, and I really *am* trying to keep my posts from going on for like, ever.

Therefore, I'm going to start by pulling out general changes that will affect mana regen, and also changes for holy/disc priests (mainly because there are very few). Even though 3.2 is only on PTR and will likely undergo plenty of tweaking, in general the issues themselves still are subject to developer manipulation, though the exact numbers, and sometimes timing, may vary. Please note that I do reference a lot to the WoW fora (anal retentive Latin major here, folks. If you ever want to know why it's "fora" and not "forums" just let me know, mwahaha). This isn't because I particularly enjoy weeding through the massive amounts of cobknobbery that is the WoW forum, but because this is where we get official word from blues.

For the current 3.2 PTR patch notes, Blizzard has them listed here.

  • Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).
  • Mana Regeneration: All items that provide "X mana per five seconds" have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.
  • Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.
  • Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.
  • Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target's armor.
So, in general, the idea is that the 20% nerf to replenishment will be offset by the 25% buff to Mp5. In fact, depending on how much you rely on Mp5 and Replenishment, it could be a buff or a nerf. This really depends a lot on what you stack. The way I see it, it's just more proof that spirit is becoming less and less valued. Of the three mana regen components, spirit, intellect, and mp5, I'm finding myself gemming and enchanting much more often for the latter two. The spellpower bonus of spirit is nice for my priest, but I just don't know if it's worth it anymore. Many of the mana "panic mechanics" (such as Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend) are now based on your mana pool, not on your mana regen stats. I could go on and on about how much I miss the good ol' days of spirit stacking, but I will end it here.

The Penance cooldown change, as well as the inspiration change, both appear to be for pvp reasons. For PvE and raiding, I cannot think of any fight in which you will notice the change in Inspiration. I'm guessing it is intended more to be a buff in response to increase in armor penetration mechanics in PvP. From what I've read, the nerf to Penance appears to be in response to Disc priests being considered a bit OP in PvP. It will be interesting to see how much of a nerf it is for raiding Disc priests.

And now... commence QQ regarding Prayer of Healing. In 3.1 we got two significant changes to this spell. 1) it could now be cast on anyone in the raid, instead of just on our party. 2) the long cast length is greatly reduced by three stacks of Serendipity. It still has a high mana cost, even with the reduction afforded by the Healing Prayers talent, but I lurrrve this spell. It is a staple for powerful raid healing, and is still a strong option for Disc priests, when they need to do some spot AoE healing. I probably overuse it actually. It's not a huge nerf, but I guess the two buffs to it in 3.1 have made it a bit OP, and it was time to reduce some of the spellpower gains. I will try to dry my eyes. I hate to see it nerfed at all though, but maybe it will force me to use it a little less often... and maybe I'll save a little more mana. Still... sad face.
Flame Warden Achievements
If you are working on your flame warden achievements, some news from Bornakk again:

"We are in the process of applying an in-game fix that will restart all of the quests associated with the Midsummer Fire Festival event and allow players to complete them once again. If you are in the process of completing an achievement such as Extinguishing Kalimdor, this fix will reset your progress and you will need start over. This fix will require realms to be restarted."

The point of this, I believe, was that many who had already done a lot of the quest components last year were not able to get enough burning blossoms to purchase the items needed for the achievements to get the title this year.

I have interpreted this to mean that any achievements earned will remain, while those that were merely in progress will be reset. Essentially, I believe, you will be able to get the same achievement twice.

Of course, for people such as myself, who had been slowly working through the achievements for Midsummer, I am now spending my morning dailies time scrambling to finish some of them off before they get reset during maintenance window.

Here's hoping that not too many others who spent the weekend working on their achievements will be in the same scenario as I am!
Mitigative Healing
Sydera made a very interesting and informative post regarding healing meters over at WorldofMatticus.com a few days ago, and even though the topic is discussed over and over and over, there are still too many RLs that rely heavily on healing meters. Part of the problem stems from a healing philosophy that is very narrow-minded. When we think of heals, far too often we think of a reactive spell, cast to return life back after a damaging blow. Luckily, Blizzard has really made solid attempts at implementing various healing styles - and on the other side of the reactive heal, is the damage mitigation.

The problem is that most meters don't have an effective set up for measuring damage mitigation. The best way I can think of to do it would be simply to combine damage absorbed through a healer's spell, and add it to actual amount of healing done. Subtract over-heals from that, and you have a much better estimation of the power and ability of your healers.

However, the problem doesn't extend to merely meters. Let's take a look at the new Legendary weapon offered through Ulduar - the first healing legendary item.

Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.

I do have WoWhead tooltips set up, but for those of us who cannot see the tooltips from our current locations *ahemworkcough*, here's the text:

Binds when picked up
Main HandMace
93 - 298 DamageSpeed 1.80
(108.8 damage per second)
+52 Stamina
+54 Intellect
Durability 125 / 125
Requires Level 80Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 47 (1.02% @ L80).
Equip: Improves haste rating by 46 (1.4% @ L80).
Equip: Increases spell power by 587.
Equip: Your healing spells have a chance to cause Blessing of Ancient Kings for 15 seconds allowing your heals to shield the target absorbing damage equal to 15% of the amount healed.

Just to put a little perspective on how the developers intend for thus buff to work, let's read a little explanation from Bornakk, that shmexy Blue Blizzard Orc: (the forum thread is here)

"The way this works is that when the proc happens (which is a 10% chance whenever a hot or direct spell heals, with a 45 sec internal cooldown) you gain a buff (the Blessing) on yourself. Now all of your heals for the next 15 sec cause an 8 sec damage shield. The shield stacks with itself. It includes healing done by subsequent ticks of existing hots on the target. Note that the spell has to actually heal, so hots ticking on a fully-healed target cannot cause the proc. However the shield is based on the size of the heal itself, not the amount healed – i.e. 100% overhealing will not proc the Blessing on the healer, but the shield itself includes overhealing once the Blessing is active. The shield can grow to a maximum size of 20,000 damage absorbed. "

(NB: This is only a small portion of his entire explanation - he also lists some examples)

Part of what prompted this post was a discussion I was having with some fellow Alliance mates on our forum. I generally roll my eyes and avoid discussions of which class better deserves an item, or who can get better use out of it, but after reading the tooltip and the Blizzard explanation, I can't help but feel a little worried for some of my fellow priests of the Discipline persuasion. A lot of their aid comes in the form of shields - not necessarily direct heals.

The interesting thing is that while promoting this new strategy of "less reactive, more proactive" healing via mitigation, Blizz still seems to be having trouble integrating the two effectively. Essentially, with this mace, your heals have a chance to proc a shield. However, your shields do not have that same chance. In addition, the size of the shield procced is based on the size of your heal.

There is a glyph for priests that allows your shields to heal for 20% of the absorption amount of your shield, and Blizz has reassured us that this can proc the Blessing of Ancient Kings. But, even with that, that glyphed heal is not very large, and since the size of the proc shield is based on the size of the heal that causes it, even this will not be very effective.

However, I am by no means an expert on Discipline priests, and I merely intend this to voice some of my concerns. I would really hate to see Disc priests get by-passed entirely for the chance to have this mace. But, it may be too soon to tell, and it could very well be that after all is said and done, and we start to see these maces in action, that all my concerns are for naught.

But even if that is the case, I still maintain my stance that there need to be some changes in how damage mitigation efforts are valued. I do also wonder if tanks have similar problems - if your class is known for its skill in avoiding damage altogether, as opposed to being able to survive big hits, does this in turn cause problems for evaluating tank performance?

Regardless, before Disc priests ever get their "Bella shields" we've heard rumors about (AoE shields, mmm), this is an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved in some way - and I don't think it would be very difficult, with some simple redesigning.
RP Friday: Healers are taking over.
There I sat, in the Vault with nine others, delicately partaking in my fish feast and generally minding my own business, when the giant tree to my left nudged me with a root.

I glanced up ... and then farther up (hey! I'm a dwarf! Shut it!), to catch the eye of this huge tree that was smirking at me, and gave him (her?) a pleasant but timid smile. Treeperson leaned down to me and whispered:

"Take a look at this hunter over here."

I look over in the direction Treething points and check out the hunter in our pick up raid. I inspect her talents with some hesitation (what do I know about hunters?). All 71 talent points are under the Beast Mastery tree.

Well, I may not know much about hunters, but I suppose in general you don't see very many good specs where every point is in one tree. I smile hopefully at my newfound tree friend.

"71 points in BM? I take it that's, uhm... bad?"

Treeperson chuckles and then starts mumbling about wasted crit rating and the like. I don't really know what he's talking about, so I simply smile and nod politely, while shooting longing glances at my fish. As I begin to edge away, Treeyodapersonthing finishes, stating confidently: "This isn't going to work. That hunter is doing no more than 700 dps - and no one else is really doing much better."

That can't be right. I check my own numbers, and sure enough, Treedude is correct. This is Emalon we're talking about here, and I'm not sure if our little group could even master Archavon. I hum for a moment while eyeing the other holy priest in the corner, who is nibbling at his strudel, and shooting bewildered glances around him. His gear isn't too great either, but with two other healers, that really shouldn't be a problem. Trouble is, it's a ten man raid, and we've got three healers - so to make up for it, the DPS better be pretty awesome... and it's not. We've already wiped once, and it really didn't take long.

I sigh and let my shoulders slump. I really hate being *that* person in a pug - the one that says "you all suck lawl" and then drops group. Especially since I'm a healer, and therefore harder to replace. I committed myself to this, and it would be honorable to see it through. I *am* a priest after all. But... I can already tell this raid is doomed, and I can tell my two fellow healers feel quite similarly.

I gaze up at my new Treefriend and I am greeted with a small, understanding smile. I clear my throat, and let my brogue ring through the vault halls.

"Well mates, I hate to say it, but I think I only have one more try in me. I'm not sure we'll be able to do this without some raid makeup changes." There. I've put in a disclaimer.

Everyone else ignores me and gets into position. Treeter chuckles quietly, and positions him/herself as well. I shrug and join the group. Raid leader yells "CHARGE!" and five seconds later we've begun throwing our best stuff at Emalon and his minions.

Twenty seconds later, we're all dead.

As we all make the short spirit run back to our dead bodies, the restlessness and frustration within raid chat is tangible. The raid leader is pretty admirable though. He's not pointing fingers, and instead is encouraging us... or at least, he thinks he is.

"Don't get frustrated guys! We have two hours to get this down. We can do it, we've got a great group!"

Err.. pardon, did you say two hours?

I stare with shock and horror over at the raid leader. Props to him. He's willing to take a rag tag group of complete strangers, and take the time to teach them this fight. You don't see that often (okay, like, ever) in a pug. Unfortunately, I already know the fight, and I don't need to learn it, and I have no intention of spending the next two hours trying desperately to heal through this abyssmal affair. Learning the fight is really something you should be doing with your guild-mates anyway... right?

Before I even get a chance to say anything, the other holy priest drops group without a word to the raid, whispering to me as he runs out, "Sorry... but this is NOT going to work." Treefart over to my left has abandoned chuckling for all out giggles, and I award him with a steely glare, and a not so subtle suggestion that he might want to remember I have a slight Dwarven instinct with axes. Elves. Yeesh.

It's time to cut my losses. I thank the raid leader for his time and effort, and bow out graciously, with Treecat in hot pursuit. As we make our way back to Dalaran, we discuss his guild and mine, and our raiding experiences, as well as our disappointment in this recently failed attempt.
We share an ale to drown our disappointment, while debating whether we want to give it another go. Finally, after discussing it a few minutes, we group up, and invite our former raidmate holy priest and decide to make our own damn pug on our own terms - on a healer's terms.

Treefer is shooting potential names at me while I inspect them carefully to ensure that they have roughly decent gear and experience. Within 5 minutes, we have a full raid, well equipped for the oncoming fight. Within 15 minutes, we've taken Archavon and Emalon, and added a few badges to our pockets.

Ulian (I finally decide "Treeyeti" is really not very polite) pats me on the back, telling me well done, and we laugh about the most important lesson learned this evening. Ah yes, healers. We know what we're doing AND when we put something together we start the raid invite process with half the battle won.

So... if you want a pug done right, let the healers take control.
RP Bonus: Detaching
Our fearless leader really needs to shave his legs next time he dons his cheerleading skirt.

Don't get me wrong, his words are effective - he advocates lots of group hugs and positive reinforcement. But my eyes keep shifting to his legs that are bouncing up and down with excitement as he wields his pom poms and cheers: "E-G-A! E-G-A!"

I catch the 'Lock across the table from me rolling his eyes, and turning to face the corner of the room where our resident pally tank is trying to finagle an extra round from the bartender. She's attempting sneakiness with his back turned - I can see her reaching for the bottle of vodka. She's leaning over the bar, and I hear the same 'lock mumble something about "Buns of Saronite!"

Locks. Yeesh. I roll my eyes and turn to face my death knight.

He is currently participating in a very heated "discussion" with the slightly less leery 'lock across the table from him about who originally "invented" D&D.

So far this meeting has not been very productive.

I sigh and rest my forehead in my hands before I direct my gaze towards the corner of the room we've all been avoiding all night. There sits an empty chair. Its original inhabitant seems even more noticeable due to her absence, and my heart gives a lurch.

I miss her.

I know it's ridiculous. It's not as though I don't see her all the time outside of this room. I can still talk to her. I know she was no longer enjoying the conversations held in here, and it was all weighing her down. I cannot and do not begrudge her one iota for her decision to depart. But I cannot deny that her presence always comforted me somehow.

I close my eyes and think of her parting words.

"It has become apparent that I have outlived my usefulness and I've been disenchanted for some time now, so it is time for me to say goodbye."

My eyes begin to sting as I start to finally understand what she meant.

The leery 'lock has summoned his Succubus for personal entertainment, and our Pally tank is glaring at the whip-wielding wench while knocking back a few swallows from her bottle. The death knight and the other 'lock are now standing, gesticulating wildly at each other and yelling, even though it's quite obvious they are having fun with the debate. Our rogue leader is showing off his cartwheels.

And I have no idea what use I serve anymore. With my fellow healer, and her gentle, unselfish nature, gone from the room, I feel as though I'm constantly fighting a losing battle. She is the reason I am the way I am. She taught me to heal for the sake of healing, for love of others, stranger or not. She taught me to extend that healing nature to every aspect of my life. But how can I heal the rift in this room that isn't even visible to the naked eye? How can I do it without her? In her absence, I have taken her place as the matronly figure in the room. I'm the short momma dwarf that constantly wants to smooth things over between everyone. Unfortunately, I begin to realize that I seem to be the one causing all the problems. I am outvoted and parried at every decision. I cannot suppress just how much I care. I think of the non-leery lock's words, that my friend takes on too much, that she brings it on herself because she cares too much, and I recognize that my death knight has said the same exact thing to me at regular intervals. But how can I stop caring? A half-hearted attempt from me is still a hell of a lot of heart.

It shouldn't matter so much, but it does. Every little detail matters a great deal to me. And because I let it get to me, it is tearing me apart. It shouldn't hurt me so much when my fellows knock down one of my ideas, telling me how it's all wrong. Even if I put so much effort and thought into each idea I throw out there. And as each block piles against me, I understand even more why she may have left. Not due to resentment at not getting things our way, but because it hurts. It is a lot of worry and caring and stress and hurting that eventually weighs you down, and you snap.

It's not the fault of those around me - it's my own issue. I cannot seem to detach myself, because I always worry that if I do, others will be disappointed in me, or I will hurt them in return. I have a constant desire to run away and hide back at the Abbey in Elwynn Forest. What have I gotten myself into?

But my death knight has informed me that I need to learn to detach, if I am to retain my emotional well-being. I cannot allow myself to get so caught up in this all the time.

I lift my head and decide that I'm not going to try to make this meeting productive. I'm not going to try and advocate for anyone this time, or throw out any new ideas that will, in all likelihood, be shot down. When I leave this room, I will go spend some private time with my healing mentor, and enjoy her company in a non-official capacity. I have to learn to let things go; I have to learn to detach. But I don't have to give up. And I refuse to run away.

I stand and drag my stool over to sit next to my wobbly Tank friend, who is now sneering at a very mischevoius succubus, whose master is giggling fiendishly, and throwing "That's what she said!" remarks into the slowly dying argument between his fellow lock and my death knight. I grab a mug of ale and tap her vodka bottle with it. She smiles down at me.

"Fuu, let's start a new drinking game...."
Proactive Pugging
Nota Bene: In the next few days, there may be some strange random changes on this blog as I attempt to duke it out with the HTML to create a site more aesthetically pleasing (to me anyway.)

Recruitment gets tricky for us in the EGA (the alliance of which I often speak).

We aren't a guild, and therefore we lack many of the resources many guilds have, such as a guild bank, a strict set of guidelines for members, and ownership of players' souls. We are very casual, and yet still focused on progression. Balancing these things is incredibly difficult - and we have no precedent to follow, so we end up making up the rules as we go along. With the exception of the EGA, I have yet to hear of any other similar Alliances that tie guilds together under one banner the way we do.

Unofficial recruitment is sorta my thing. As mentioned before, I'm a very bottom-up person, and I focus a lot of my attention on individuals. I use my personal networks, word of mouth, shower my alliance members with attention, and get to know new people on a very personal level. Where do I go when I'm hunting fresh blood?

Pick up groups.

We all know it's hit or miss with pugs. With the release of WotLK, and the 10/25 man raiding differential, we've got a lot of raiding options - and a lot of raid lockouts each week. We've got badges too - so I don't like to let a week pass without running 10 and 25 man OS and Vault. These are short fights, and incredibly easy to pug - everybody's doing it. It's the new thing! If the pug is truly awful, you aren't stuck with them for very long in these raids.

But what I love about pugs is that they are the most fertile pools of people who want to raid, but may not have the guild resources to do it on a large and regular scale. That is exactly the niche EGA fills. What better place to find potential new raiders to fill our slots?

Do I just spam the raid chat with EGA information? Not at all. A lot of people may actually pug raids to give themselves a break - it's easy to be lazy in a pug. While everyone else is relaxing though, I am furiously inspecting others, checking recount, looking people up on wow-heroes, sending tells left and right to feel people out. It's a lot of work - I also have to remember to heal on occasion. I usually don't mention the EGA per se. I add good players to my ever-expanding friends list.

During our progression nights, we nearly always end up with 5 or 6 open slots due to a shortage of sign-ups. If it's just a handful of slots, we can usually fill them pretty easily with some of our more casual members who choose not to sign up for events and through various guild members who are not active EGAers. This is where I pull out ye olde friends list, and start sending out some whispers. Before I add puggers to my friends list, I always chat with them a bit via whisper - this way they remember me when I invite them to something later. If they join our raid, and see what we're about, and the positivity that runs rampant over vent, we can often score ourselves a new EGAer. Casual is okay.

It works very well, and I've managed to pull in a couple of new EGAers this way. And, if I bring in one new person, I also inadvertently add their entire guild to our network. The key detail is networking - and networking requires a lot of time and proactive effort.

I'm not the only person who uses this strategy, so it must work for others as well. I know this because I too have had fellow puggers attempt to recruit me. My name is relatively familiar in the raid pugging circuit, because I do it every single week, at similar times. So even though people often associate pugs with strangers, one might be surprised to discover an extensive community of regular raid puggers. We just start to recognize one another's names. If i see a few names I recognize, I also know that this particular pug will likely go well.

Puggy recruitment requires a lot of work, and it requires a person to be extremely proactive. But, the greatest benefit is that you are able to pre-screen everyone. The pugged raid itself is the pre-screening process. The pressure of testing people and potentially finding out they are a poor fit is significantly smaller, due to the nature of a pug.
Bottoms Up, Beardies down.
One of my fellow officers and I have come to terms with the fact that sometimes we're just gonna have to agree to disagree. I must say, it's a wonderful thing to know you can disagree with someone on very fundamental issues, and still maintain a good friendship.

I think a lot of our differences are based on one simple debate about how to manage problems in our alliance: Fulguralis advocates a top-down approach, while I look at it from the bottom-up. I won't try to speak for him here or explain his ideas about what a top-down approach entails - he's got his own blog, and perhaps I just gave him an inspirational prompt for today. That's not a challenge or anything *cough*.

Our alliance leader pointed out to me today that there's a reason he made us both officers; We balance each other out. Our guilds are exact opposites. Our votes on issues practically cancel one another out. When Ful and I do actually agree on something (aside from our love for our comrades), he jokes about calling hell to see if they've seen any snow yet.

Our guilds ARE complete contrasts. His guild is quite large, but there isn't a strong interest and/or availability for raiding. From what I understand, his guild is made up of a great variety of different types of people, with different personalities, gaming interests, mentalities, etc. You can go read for yourself; He described his guild just yesterday.

But oh boy. That is not my guild.

There's only 5 of us. Thank God. If our personalities were tripled and unleashed upon poor Lothar, it would make the evening news. We have known each other for a very long time, and three of the five of us went to high school together. We could never really join another guild - we would get kicked out. Our guild conversations would make Doug Stanhope blush (My fiance assures me he is a very offensive man). Trust me when I tell you - you don't want to deal with a pissed off Beardy. And you certainly don't want a whole Bunch of pissed off Beardies. And basically? If you piss off one, you will shortly find yourself having pissed off four more.

The thing is, you might never know it about some of us. Some are actually very quiet to outsiders. You can call it cliqueish if you like, but it's just how we are - it's a comfort zone thing. I met these awesome people by falling in love with one. It was years before the rest of them ever warmed up to me - and I made a lot of gumbo and provided a lot of alcohol to try and loosen those stubborn bitches up. They aren't going to tell you if they don't like what you are doing, or how you are doing it - they will just stop coming around. It's probably better for you, really. See above comment about pissed off Beardies.

When I became an officer in my Alliance, my primary concern was to try and advocate for my Beardies. I hoped that as the most recent addition to this clique of friends, perhaps I could explain and translate our foreign ways. If nothing else, maybe I could hold my tongue better and be a tad more diplomatic (I'm not sure if that actually proved to be the case). If decisions were made that the Beardies didn't like, that they disagreed with, it is unlikely they would say anything - they would just stop raiding altogether. Or leave a giant "screw you" message on the forum, and then stop coming. We are not a loose or diverse conglomeration of casuals who became closer friends through WoW. We are a group of friends who took our hard-core-and-slightly-obsessive-about-everything gaming mentality into WoW and created a guild because let's face it - we don't want to have to censor ourselves. We are five people, tightly bound, who work as a single force. We have similar personalities and interests. We live near one another. In general, from the outside, we look like one solid block of pewpew.

5 people may not seem like a lot, but we're a very well rounded group. A tank, an offtank/dps, a caster, a hunter, and a healer. All dual specced to fill other roles as needed. And that's not including our level 80 alts. Throw us all together, and we're like a well-oiled machine. In addition, we have a tendency to stick together, because we like running together - we feel most comfortable that way. It's not a good idea to split us up - but, the flip side of that is that if you ask for one of us, you will likely have 4 other strong willing players for a raid. We will join one another simply to spend game time with one another.

So my intent was to make sure that the Beardy Bunch never left en masse. It would be a big hit to the alliance. And we are a stubborn group - you will have a hard time convincing us to change our minds.

Therefore, when it seems like things might start falling apart with the alliance, I choose to step back and regroup with my guild. This isn't to get away from the alliance - it's to reassure my fellow guildmates that we're in this together - we're a team, and we're gonna stick it out with the alliance. If one of us starts to think that it's time to back out of the alliance, all five will end up going. I care about my guild, and I care about my alliance - and my alliance has allowed my guild to see content we would never have seen otherwise. So when any of us start to have doubts about the alliance we all agreed to join, it's time for us to get back together and remember why we loved raiding in the first place. Positive reinforcement. I refuse to lose either group of much loved friends.

This is my bottom up approach. When the big group starts to tremble, I'm going to reach out to Alliance members I know well, and try to regroup them on a smaller scale, so we can all walk back into the Alliance stronger than ever, rejuvenated and reinspired. If you start to lose sight of the bigger picture, put it in a smaller frame, and it starts to make sense again.

But I don't keep secrets from my guildmates. And if one wants to piss off a Beardy, all one has to do is tell them they can't do something. Go ahead and try it - tell them they aren't allowed. You can even try telling them they have to do something. You'll get the same response, folks. As Gordin, one of my guildmates, explained this evening, it's an ice cream man situation.

"It doesn't matter how much one of us is craving ice cream. If someone comes up to us and says 'You HAVE to eat this ice cream.' we're gonna tell him to piss off and we'll buy the shit sandwich instead. Don't you dare try to tell ME what to do."

If you want to see the Beardies walk away together, flipping you the bird as they depart, all you have to do is imply that they can't do something. Tell them, in so many words, that they are not allowed to do it. I'm sure it would be a fun social experiment - give it a whirl. And don't think I separate myself from them in that regard. Tell me I can't do something, and I immediately get indignant - on behalf of myself AND on behalf of my guild. I don't say all this about my guild as though it were an embarassment. I'm proud of how stubborn and independent we are, and that we still manage to maintain such outward cohesiveness.

As I try to toe the line between my alliance and my guild, I spend a lot of time grimacing and bashing my head against my keyboard. I am not always forthright with my intentions when I attempt to organize things. If I were to tell a Beardy "I want you to come on this PuG with me, because I want you to get emblems so that you will gear up better", I will find myself Beardless in my pug. "Don't YOU tell me what to do." If I try and tell Gordin that if he needs gold, he should really try the Sons of Hodir dailies because they are quick and lucrative, even though my real intention is that I want him to get the shoulder enchants, he *just might* go for it. I'm not lying. I'm just telling the part of the truth that will encourage him. I'll have to try something different next time though, since he'll likely read this and be suspicious of my shenanigans.

If I were to tell my alliance that I suspect my guildmates are becoming disenfranchised, and I foresee a Beardy departure, which will be a huge blow to the alliance, I worry they will try to do something about it. Please understand - I know they have the best of intentions. But they *really* don't know what they're dealing with here. The words from an outsider will likely fall on deaf ears - trust me. I was an outsider once too. At best, we will scoff and ignore. Probably even come up with new nicknames that will be shared in guild chat for months, and won't be kind. Just ask Gordin what he used to tell the others about my feet when I first started dating my fiance. At worst, they will take great offense to being told what they can/cannot/should/really ought to do, and the stubborn reaction will likely provide the exact opposite response of what was pursued. Their names simply won't appear on the raid signups anymore.

Therefore, I take great offense to anyone in my alliance being suspicious or fearing any malicious intent in anything I try to organize for the benefit of my guild. If it looks like I'm doing something to separate my guild from my alliance, then stop right there and think again. I won't ever advocate one at the expense of the other. I had thought everyone knew this about me, but times are tough I guess. If you aren't part of our guild, then please just try to trust my judgment. My guildmates have a right to question me - I am accountable only to those who have graciously allowed me the honor of representing them.

By questioning or doubting my intentions when I try to find ways to resolidify our guild in any public way, it is very easy to undo all my efforts at guild-alliance diplomacy.

Because despite our inner squabbles and the control-freak idiot I can oftentimes be, somehow my fellow Beardies still manage to support me when it matters, with righteous indignation and stubborness as their shield. I can only hope that somewhere along the way it became apparent that I do not try to make decisions for them, or in some ill-fated attempt to gain control over my guild mates (as if that were possible). It doesn't matter how it was said, or how justified the feelings may be - if it can in any way be interpreted as telling me that I am not allowed to do something, if there is even the slightest suggestion that the Beardies cannot do what they want, you may just have thrown away their participation. You know, that thing I was specifically trying to avoid.

*Sigh.* From the beginning again then. I guess I'll have to be more creative this time.
Summer blues and the One Man Raid
Even if you've only been in one guild, if you've been playing the game long enough, you are likely connected to multiple guilds through in game friends - people who have left your guild, or knowing others in your guild that know others, and so on and so forth. There is no excuse for someone who has been playing the game on one server long enough to routinely say they have no social resources. What does this say about you? That is your own failing.

There is great incentive to be proactive in maintaining your in-game relationships.

If you let your in-game relationships fall to the wayside, you lose critical resources. You'll find yourself sans healer in a 10 man raid, sitting there helplessly. When things start to get messy and political, it may be time to take a step back and get back to your roots. Don't abandon your guild mates and alliances just because times are tough. If you can't seem to dig up new people, maybe it's time to turn to those golden friends and strengthen those relationships.

If you are having trouble growing, consider this: Are your numbers staying the same, despite bringing in new people? That, my friend, means you are losing your older players. You are making the worst mistake a raid manager can make - Forgetting about the individuals you recruited previously because you are so caught up in trying to bring in new people.

Take some time to reassess and regroup. Turn around and strengthen those bonds again. If you keep moving forward without looking back, you'll find yourself all alone at the peak of the mountain, with no one to help you get down. You've had your head in the clouds, relishing your own glory and patting yourself on the back for being an awesome raid leader, and you forgot to look down to the people who were holding you up. Did you take away their voice, their power as individuals, with the excuse that it's all for the "greater good"? Did you ignore them, or worse, not even let them speak, because you didn't want to have to deal with what they might say?

Summer is a good time for this. Things get messy and unpredictable in the summer it seems. People suddenly want to do things non WoW related, and who am I to tell them that's unfair? Everyone has to prioritize their lives - and let's face it. WoW should never take priority over your family. Instead of flailing about helplessly, wringing our hands in frustration and begging our friends to level up their level 24 druid to heal, take a deep breath and count your blessings. As guild, alliance, and raid leaders, or at least those of us who focus on recruitment and raid organizing, it can be a very stressful time. We can get caught up in the pursuit of growth, and easily forget about those individuals we've pulled together in the past.

It needs to be said. I've been listening to people wail and moan over the past month about how times are tough for raid organization.

But I'm getting sick of hearing the complaining, because people are not looking at the problem with perspective. We get so caught up in issues of rules, and policies, and maybe if we vary things up a bit people will want to raid again - if we build it they will come! And then, lo and behold, no one comes.

We have lost sight of the individual. If an individual player does not feel needed, does not feel important, if we continue to solely enforce this idea that it's all about "the greater Good" (zomg Dumbledore love), we lose the individuals that make up the successful team. I'm all about pushing that philosophy when it comes to gear. But as leaders we get so distracted in thinking gear philosophies should be the precedent we use for other aspects of raid management, that we lose sight of what makes each individual player important to every single raid.

Why should Joe Warrior sign up for our raid to tank? It's thankless. He can sit in LFG for 5 minutes and get 10 tells from people desperate for a decent tank - desperate for HIS help. No one in our raid specifically asked him if he would join us. We just frown at him in disappointment when he fails to sign up. It's not about the gear - it's about feeling wanted and needed. It's a human desire, and we can't lose sight of human desires, even in an abstract world. You shouldn't have to beg someone to join you, but have you tried simply asking as an alternative to assuming?

We recruiters go after individuals and convince them to join us. We court them. Who doesn't like to be courted? We pursue them as individuals, and then ignore them when they join the group. We hand down laws and policies that directly affect them without asking them for their thoughts - because we don't want to deal with the messy disagreements that such endeavors inevitably entail. We know what's best for them, right? It's all for the greater good. If they have any thoughts for themselves, then they are selfish and we don't want them. We turned their head in the beginning with chocolates and flowers, and then left them sitting at home with the TV on Saturday night while we went out to the bar seeking a pretty new blonde.

We can go at it for days talking about how it's all about efficiency. You know what else is super efficient? You know how you can avoid any messy loot disagreements? A fool-proof way to lay down the law and ensure that no one will make it difficult for you to do exactly what you want to do?

A one man raid.
Miscellaneous Monday
I had a wonderful WoW-filled weekend, and the weekend alone gave me enough content to write about for the next week. However, I shall start with a few randomly awesome things.

1. I can haz moar achievements? I've listed some of my new ones from the weekend on the left. I'm not proud or anything. *puffs chest*

2. My favorite new awful joke from the trade channel: "I was going to tell you a joke about pizza, but it was too cheezy!!!" I assure you, my friends. The more it makes you groan in despair, the more this dwarf over here is bouncing up and down, guffawing in pure delight. Dear trade channel, you are teh awesome.

3. People like me should not be allowed to collect things. I think Blizzard is going to have some serious lawsuits on their hands once I end up in the loony bin. My OCD is just overwhelming me. Mounts, Pets, and Tabards oh my! If you are trying to collect any of the above, whether it be for achievements or anything else, there are a couple of really good websites. For an all-inclusive list and description of mounts, WarcraftMounts is really good. If you like having pets and haven't been to WarcraftPets, you need to get with it, snap snap! And finally, another website I discovered this weekend that is much simpler, but more effective in some ways, is WoWCollect - it shows a basic list of all the mounts, pets, and tabards, with checkboxes so you can figure out what you need for different achievements. I spent the greater part of yesterday afternoon assembling a pretty sweet spreadsheet with mount info. I'm going to add pet and tabard info, methinks, and pretty it up before I post it here. You know you want it.

4. Looks like me and Whitey will be spending less time in the 'Rend, and more time in the Outlands, grinding up rep with factions I ignored before, because I readily admit to being an achievement whore. I never got around to getting my Netherwing mount in BC, mainly because I couldn't be bothered to get a group together for the opening quest, Zuluhad the Whacked. It will likely be even more of a pain to get a group now, but I want me those 6 mounts.
Because I'm just not geeky enough
I have mentioned that I am a professional student - but that particular occupation also entails me doing real work, though I have joked otherwise. I do most of my work in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which, for the non-Geographers out there (ha), is essentially computer assisted mapping with an associated database.

Anyway, I have an awesome list of all the personal projects I would love to do, and on that list is a an Azeroth GIS. Basically, it would be an interactive map of the World of Warcraft. My idea is that instead of looking up a zone on wowhead and finding a list there of all the available quests in the zone, you could use a map. Click on the zone in question, and search by level. There, on the map, you would see all the quests available for your level, and where exactly the questgiver is. Perhaps it could even show linkages of quest chains - where they would take you. Since a GIS incorporates a database, you could essentially provide all kinds of information and search functions - it need not be solely limited to quests.

I am still considering doing this project, because I love to share my Type A spreadsheetiness mentality with everyone, but it would be highly complicated by the software. Creating a GIS like this would mean either A) only people who have the 3,000 dollar software could use it, or B) I would have to spend a fortune to get the extension that would allow me to publish it so that people would need only download some free software to view it. It's a lot like Adobe Acrobat Reader - except that it's even more difficult (read: expensive) to actually create the "PDFs".

I love thinking up completely unnecessary and complicated tasks for myself that in all likelihood I will never get around to doing. I do wonder though, if I were to enlist the help of others, if it would be much easier. I could do the mapping fairly easily if someone else could help put together the database. Or perhaps I am just trying to justify spending a bunch of money I don't have for a software extension I don't need...
Feel Good Patches
According to Blues (Zarhym), we can look forward to quicker mounting for our alts in the next major patch. If you're like me, you can't access wow forums at work (and really, why exactly would you want to?), so here is the Blue post.

In the next major content patch, we intend to adjust mount requirements to further improve the leveling experience in World of Warcraft. In addition, cast times for summoning all mounts will be reduced to 1.5 seconds, down from 3 seconds. The following is a breakdown of the upcoming cost and level requirement changes we are making for each riding skill.

  • Apprentice Riding (Skill 75)

    • 60% land mount speed
    • Requires level 20
    • Cost: 4 gold
    • Mount cost: 1 gold
    • Mail will be sent to players at level 20 guiding them to the riding trainer

  • Journeyman Riding (Skill 150)

    • 100% land mount speed
    • Requires level 40
    • Cost: 50 gold
    • Mount cost: 10 gold
    • Mail will be sent to players at level 40 guiding them back to the riding trainer

  • Expert Riding (Skill 225)

    • 150% flying mount speed; 60% land mount speed
    • Requires level 60
    • Cost: 600 gold (faction discounts now apply)
    • Mount Cost: 50 gold
    • Can now be learned in Honor Hold (Alliance) or Thrallmar (Horde)

  • Artisan Riding (Skill 300)

    • 280% flying mount speed; 100% land mount speed
    • Requires level 70
    • Cost: 5,000 gold (faction discounts now apply)
    • Mount Cost: 100 gold

I foresee a lot of "Man, remember back in the day when you couldn't mount until you were FORTY?" and yes, I'm one of those. All my toons who do have a mount had to wait until 40 to get one. When I was your age I had to walk to school barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. 10 miles.

My thoughts on all this? Well, I'm certainly not about to QQ about a change that is meant to "improve" the leveling experience for wow players, but instead of standing here cheering to the sky and woot wooting about how unbelievably awesome this is, I must say there's a part of me that is saddened by it. It's just another step in the slow demise of something that no one seems to really appreciate anymore about this game - the Old World.

It's one of my philosophies about the problem with modern society in general. People are in such a rush to get to the finish line, they don't truly appreciate the process. I'm guilty of it too, mind you. The complaints about leveling up alts, all the leveling guides you can find - does anyone Alliance side actually do the low to mid level quests in Kalimdor anymore? Rushing to progress through raids... and then once you get to the summit, now what? I don't really rush through the leveling process. When Wrath was released, my guildmates were leveling through instances. Not me. I wanted to read the quests (what, no Quest-Helper?). I still have fond memories of being terrified by Stitches thankyouverymuch. But it doesn't really matter what I do. Blizzard is unlikely to go back and fine tune any quests that have problems in the old world, or enrich it because no one cares. They just want to get through it all as quickly as possible, because WoW is now all about being level 80. And that saddens me.

True, I always did think it was a little silly to have to wait so long to mount. I mean seriously. I can ride a horse. Not very fast mind you, but I'm a lazy bum who spends all her time with either a monitor or a book in front of my face. It really doesn't take a *whole lot* to be able to ride a freaking horse. Also, now that Wrath is out, they did need to do something about the flying mount system. It just didn't make any sense anymore - You'd get your flying mount at 70, and then for all intents and purposes, be unable to use it. They also reduced the price of mounts, or at least tried to make it more applicable to the level at which it could be required. Rock on. This was important because unless you had a high level main, it was getting to the point where, yeah theoretically you can get a mount at 30, but thats a lot of gold for a level 30.

I do wonder if they intend to do anything about updating the shammy and druid forms. It used to be awesome to have a travelling form - and now it doesn't really mean a whole lot, because you can get better mounts than the travelling forms, at the same level, and potentially even earlier if changes aren't made with this patch they are recommending.
Stupid days are stupid
My mother always told me, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Opportunity Cost
There's a bit of a burnout theme cycling through the Magic Internet Waves these days, as suggested by Ful and S&S, as well as a few days ago by the tiny pink haired one. Indeed, even at home, my fiance and I have been talking about how we *might* be spending too much time playing WoW, leading to me having one or two (or possibly thousands) of panic attacks about school. In fact, when your Giant Uber Presentation for your graduate seminar includes a picture of the Big Bad Wolf, perhaps it's time to consider whether you have a slightly unhealthy obsession.

I've been tossing this idea around in my head for awhile, because I'm a little on the Type A side, if you didn't already know. I like lists. I like spreadsheets *swoon*. I even love flow charts. So I invite others to consider the same question: What would you do if you weren't playing WoW? I have no doubt there are plenty of other great things I could do with WoW. As far as productivity goes, I could, in theory, be doing much more productive things *ahemthesiscough*. But I do get a lot of benefit from WoW as well.

What might I do if I didn't play wow?
  • Sleep more.
  • Take those banjo lessons I've been wanting forever.
  • Start one of the novels I've been meaning to write.
  • Write more fanfic (shh)
  • Clean the house? (hahahahahahaah yeah right.)
  • Paint/Refinish/Make curtains/rip up carpet/put up moulding, shutters, windowbo... no, probably not.
  • Plan a freaking wedding *shudder*
  • Walk the poor dog.
  • Call my sist... no. Again, probably not.
  • Get more work done on my thesis.
  • Take horseback riding lessons.
Well now. Those all (or most) seem to be pretty good things I could better do with my wow time. But now, shall I list some of the benefits I get from my time playing WoW:

  • My wow friends. I do not really socialize much outside of wow - i live very far away from all my friends, and I hate the phone. Anytime I'm in desperate need of conversation, I can jump on WoW and join guild chat.
  • Help with my thesis. There are quite a few people in my guild and alliance that have helped me with my thesis. Some in small ways, just by giving me a sounding board, and others in bigger ways.
  • Quality time having fun and doing something I enjoy with my fiance.
  • The feeling of satisfaction I get when I progress through a new raid, or get exalted with a new faction, learn a new recipe, max out a skill... these all may seem silly to others, but it's on par with learning to play a new song on my guitar. It's the satisfaction that comes from proving you have excelled at something new in your favorite hobby.
Even though there may be more items on the first list, the items in the second are much longer. I get a lot of personal satisfaction and psychological boosts from playing WoW. While at times it may be conducive to the rest of my life if I restrict my playing time, there are a lot of benefits for me in playing WoW. Therefore, I have no intention of stopping anytime soon!
Non Sequitur
I'm cheating. I'm back-posting for Monday. Mwahaha.

Because Sunday I never went to bed, and Monday I had a presentation for my seminar class that I was up all night putting together. After finishing my awesome intended to be 20 minute power point presentation, I had to go down to campus for a five hour seminar class in which we all presented our papers. My 20 minute presentation actually ended up being an hour. Oops.

And after that was over? I drove home, and crashed. I just woke up, and I'm still exhausted. And I have to leave for work in 3 hours, and try to fit in a 12 hour day if possible. Blah. I haven't been able to raid with my fellow alliance members on a regular basis for several weeks now (with the notable exception of Maly this weekend). Since my university is on a quarter system, and not a semester system, it may be summer for everyone else, but "summer" for me is defined by "no school" - and therefore, it's not summer yet!

I'm exhausted.
Coffee and Oreos

The best way to start a Sunday morning (err afternoon).

Ful may have stolen my thunder, but I can't really blame him. Not his fault I wake up at 2 in the afternoon. Last night, 11 members of our raiding alliance were responsible for our Very First takedown of the nasty smelly Malygos. I say 11 because we had one healer switch out with a dps near the end. That healer deserves just as much credit for helping us learn the fight, even though they left before Malygos fell.

In truth, it was likely due to even more than those 11 people. Over the past few months, random alliance members had occasionally been putting in a few half hearted attempts at 10 man EoE. I've even pugged it a couple of times, and was able to get as far as phase 3 before the rest of the puggers gave up. But this time we dug our heels in, and decided, with complete determination, that we were going to learn this fight even if it meant we would be running dailies for the next week to pay the repair bills. It took us about two and a half hours, but no one seemed to be losing any steam, no one was getting frustrated, everyone was in the right frame of mind to learn a new fight.

We started with three strong healers. Even though we knew it was unlikely we would be able to successfully complete this DPS race with three healers, I think this is probably the key to our success last night. We were able to stay alive long enough to gain increasing exposure to each phase. Since we were steadily progressing better and better through each phase, we were able to keep our spirits up.

After our healer switched out with a dps, it was only one or two wipes later before we had the most miraculous and by-the-skin-of-our-teeth victory. I had finally given up and dismantled Xperl, and during phase three, i decided to load up the Flame Spikes, and after every 5th spike use Life Burst.

As people continued to slowly drop when Malygos enraged, everyone was still excited. Heck, we had him down to a fraction of his health! We could finish him off next try! But amazingly enough... the DoTs kept going... and people were dying slowly enough that we were cheering each other on. One person remained - one of our mages. And she had been knocked off her drake, and was falling to the ground. SLOW FALL! Her slow descent to oblivion left just enough time for Malygos to finally take one last tick of damage and die, just before she died.

I have no idea what Alexstraza said, since everyone was cheering and laughing and screaming victory in vent.

What a way to die, no? Next time, though, we're bringing repair bots.
RP Friday: ZOMG Elimeny does DPS?!
As I walked through the portal into Naxxramas for the first time, I could not suppress the chills of excitement that ran through me. For any Paladin, the sickly sweet scent of undeath makes our trigger fingers itch, and our innate desire for retribution and purification burn. I took a deep breath, and felt my pupils dilate. I hungered for the act of cleansing this reprehensible establishment of the creatures I knew dwelled within.

Unfortunately, due to the constraints of being a Paladin healer, my healing skills were not required by my fellow adventurers. Tonight, my first time in the infamous Naxxramas, I would be wielding my trusty mace in an attempt to slaughter monstrous fiends, not restore the life of my allies. In my eagerness to involve myself in these activities, I agreed with little hesitation. Honestly, how hard could it be to bonk some undead heads instead of heal?


As groups of monsters assaulted us from all angles, I found myself flailing my weapon wildly around me, or at least, as wildly as anyone can flail a deceptively weighty two-handed mace. I might have hit Yusuf a few times. I probably hit him more often than the spiders. Oh well. Being a good sport, he continued to encourage my efforts, and assured me that I was doing fine.

In my eagerness to Exorcise the demons from within the creatures headed our way, I found they often did not appreciate my attempts on their behalf, and though Yusuf scrambled to distract them by calling them motherless fiends and all other manner of truly not very polite nouns, they seemed to think it was more fun to melt my face to the floor before going after him. Maybe they were right. After several resurrections from my healing friends, I finally decided to take a more cautious route. Dear Light from above, I suppose I underestimated the power of these wiley foes!

Unfortunately, I had not yet mastered all my retribution skills, and would accidentally cast Divine Storm at random intervals while nowhere near any foes. When I did finally get somewhere near our targets, I somehow often managed to walk about three inches PAST them and start wielding my heavy mace through the air, finding no purchase and staring around with a flummoxed expression. I imagine it required nothing short of a Herculean effort on Yusuf’s behalf to suppress snickering at the various bemused looks on my face, but I cannot deny that my Warrior friend has a measure of honor that surpasses many of my expectations.

I continued to hold my head high as with each boss I better managed to actually contact their flesh with my mace, despite the giggles of one or two silly mages. Honestly, it’s easy for them to laugh; They barely even have to move, except when they are running away, wailing loudly about their lack of armor. Wimps. I’ll remember that next time I’m in charge of triage.

Near the end of the night, as we faced the giant spider Maexxna, I finally found my groove. Oh yes, this is nice – I can stand 5 feet away and STILL miraculously use my mace. But the best part was to come later as I heard the call of one of my healer comrades…

“Help! I’ve been web wrapped!”

YES. GLORY IS MINE. So sorry for your pain, my dear friend. So sorry that I really do not have the ability to free you from your webby demise. Hopefully those whiny mages will find themselves face to face with some mini-spiders. NOW I HAVE AN EXCUSE TO HEAL.

*FLASH!* ~Heal~ *FLASH!* ~Heal~

Don’t worry Yusuf. My mace may miss on occasion, but my heals are always glorious.
I just can't help myself
Dual spec was a wonderful thing for me. I didn't realize how little damage I did as a holy priest until i doubled up with shadow. I don't generally fill the dps spot in raids (though I have a handful of times), and there are plenty of reasons for that.

One, I know the fights from a healing perspective. It's not that I'm not paying attention to the fight explanation, mind you. But the details of who to kill first, kill order, when to AoE and when to not do so... those are not details to which I've paid any attention. So even though, in theory, I know all the Naxx, VoA, EoE, and Sarth fights (haven't touched Ulduar yet), I am not the person who explains the fight to others. I know the details of what I should be doing as a healer. I know who is taking damage when, and I can assign healing duties. Don't ask me who to kill first.

Two, it is ingrained in me to heal. I've been doing it so long, I just can't stop. I'm not as bad on my shadow priest, because it requires me to pop out of shadow form. However, on my pally, even when I force myself to dismantle healbot, I can't resist healing at least myself, if not others. Especially since, as Ret, I get instant flash heals all the time. I don't really pay too much attention to healing or dps meters, but I know that my dps suffers considerably as Ret because... I keep trying to heal.

I'm awful at melee, I truly am. There's all this stuff going on on the screen and i'm just bashing my head against the keyboard hoping I hit something. Most of the time I'm out of melee range, and very confused. I can't figure out what's going on. See, health bars are relatively stationary. I keep my eyes glued to one spot. There's no dancing all over the place, having to worry about if I'm standing 1 inch one way or another. Maybe it's why I also suck at pvp.

And I have a deep, dark confession to make. I am a keyboard turner. ::weep:: I am doomed to failure at melee.

So if you should invite me along to a raid, and ask me to dps, just be prepared. If a healer dies, it doesn't matter how high my dps is (which, as Ret, is generally pretty high in a place like Naxx) - I'm going to start healing. I just can't help myself. I suppose from a RL mentality, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I personally think it's good to have a few backup healers, people who can help out in a pinch. And in the same way that it's crucial you have an off-tank who is paying attention and can pick up adds without being directed to do so, I believe it's a good thing to have off-healers who can do the same.

Or maybe that's just me trying to justify my awful dps.
Aww! It's a mini-post!
You know how I mentioned previously that several of us raiders in my alliance have exchanged phone numbers? That way if something comes up we can contact one another?

Well, that only works if you answer the phone.

I checked my voicemail yesterday. For the first time in a month. And lo and behold, the Grand Master Raid Leader Poobah had left me a voice mail (2 weeks ago mind you) saying he wouldn't be able to make it to the raid that night. I was so confused when the message started, and figured it was a wrong number, because I didn't recognize his voice.

Good thing he left a long message, because after awhile I finally realized that not many wrong numbers would leave me a message talking about Thaddius.
The power of the bubble
I have this theory that every now and then, just to stir things up, Blizzard completely redesigns a class or spec that doesn't get played often, just to get more people to play it. They buff it and make it crazy awesome so that more people will roll that class, and then later on, when there are plenty of people playing the class to equalize the numbers a bit, they nerf it back to a reasonable level.

Some classes they just completely redesign, and give a whole new meaning. Back in the day, and by "day" I mean Burning Crusade, priests generally specced discipline for 1 of 2 reasons. 1. Just far enough to get Divine Spirit, since it was a talented spell, and not baseline (I was one of those). 2. For pvp awesomeness.

Since around the time of Wrath being released, however, Disc priests took on a whole new meaning, and a whole new role. No longer are you simply the durable healer for pvpness. Now you are a rockin' healer with a whole new twist that makes you unique, a la druid. Druids even out damage, creating a smoother ride. What makes Disc priests unique is not their healing abilities - it's their damage mitigation abilities. Now we have a real competitor for the powerful single-target Pally heals, but in a completely new light. It's more about preventing damage in the first place. What a novel idea, eh?

I am fascinated by Disc priests, and they are the hot new thing in healing. I think what has probably promoted this more than anything, honestly, is Matticus. He helped inform and instruct a whole new generation of Disc priests. I am seriously considering dropping my shadow spec and dual speccing holy and disc. The only two things that are really stopping me are 1. Holy gear and Disc gear needs are different, and therefore my awesome holy gear is not so awesome for disc and 2. Although we have something of a shortage of healers in my raiding alliance, of the healers we DO have, there is no shortage of pallies. What we don't need is more single-target healing. Therefore, I doubt I'd get much of a shot to try out Disc in a raiding environment.
Now that I think about it, for as popular as Disc priests seem to be if you read all the blogs, I actually have yet to raid with one. We pull in various people from various guilds quite often in our raids, and though we have managed to snap up quite a few priests, not once have we had the honor of a Disc priest. I specifically ask every priest what spec they are if it's not obvious (ahem, shadowform), because it changes the healing assignments.

In closing, I require you to bow before the power of the bubble. Everyone has probably already seen it, since Matticus linked it on his blog, but I'm still giggling days later. I sorta have a *thing* for flow charts and spreadsheets and lists, oh my.

Random thought of the Day: If you floss with minty floss, and then eat a fortune cookie (thereby defeating the purpose of flossing) you taste a minty fortune cookie, and it's delish!
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