Character Stories: Ráthnait

So I want to start doing some posts on the various characters I have scattered around on various servers, and their histories and personalities and so forth. Keep in mind that all of these stories are going to be somewhat fantastical and outlandish – I don’t see that as a bad thing in this case, because we’re playing the heroes of Azeroth, the ones who have a divine destiny, or are really that lucky/unlucky, or who’re just VERY GOOD at what they do. I’ve already done a brief rundown of this for my three “mains”, and I’ll probably do one of these for them as well, as I form their stories more clearly, but for now I’m going to start with my second-oldest character, my Blood Elf Death Knight (in before lol Belf DK), Ráthnait Ó Braonáin (formerly Ráthnait Summersong).

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PvE · Roleplay

Apple in Azeroth

So, posting this at the same time I’m putting up a new page with the same title – same info, but this one is going to be much more ramble-licious. You know y’all love my rambles.

So despite the fact that I adore RP and am an avid RPer when I have the attention span (and brain capacity) for it, and loving the Horde more than is probably strictly healthy while thinking the Alliance is mainly run by a bunch of self-centred jerks, my level 80 (Áislinn), my main (Lisan), and two of my main alts (Kassína and Kíli) are on Ysera, a PvE server; are Alliance-side; and are in a raiding guild. (My fourth main alt, Sámhradh, is a Blood Elf hunter on an RP server who has never been in a guild and likes it that way.) I only really rolled on Ysera in order to play with the friend who got me into this game, and yet I’ve found that it’s the server I spend most my time on. I guess I just really love those toons

But even though they’re on a non-RP server, I have little bits of history and personality for all three girls, because… well, a) part of me will always think like an RPer – it’s why I actually enjoy the cutscenes in Culling of Stratholme – and b) I’m a writer, and that’s just what writers DO. These characters are not me, they’re not extensions of me into some fantasy world, they’re characters that aren’t me (which is, I’d argue, the whole point of this game – do be someone you’re not and do things you can’t do), which means that they have stories and personalities and quirks and all those little things that make a person, fictional or otherwise.

So, if you’ll follow the cut, let me introduce you to the leading ladies of Apple in Azeroth.
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Ah, utility…

So the other day, on a whim (and because I felt bad levelling Lîzzy any further without her Shammy partner), I spent a little of this month’s extra money to get a server transfer for my level 20 druid, Kassína, who’s been languishing for months because the people I rolled her to level with don’t play anymore. Now I can level her and talk to my guildies at the same time, which is nice.

Now, here’s the thing: I WANT to heal with her. I find healing to be loads of fun, and I think Druid healing will be a nice counterpoint to Paladin healing, and keep me from getting bored. But at the same time, I know I’m not going to be running as many instances with her, and she has absolutely NO good gear for healing, and I’m sort of poor, as far as people with a lvl 80 go, and wouldn’t know what gear to buy her anyway. Instead, I’m speccing her into Feral, for now, and DPSing, and when I hit 40 and can buy dual specs, then I’ll look into healing with her.

But the funny thing is that I’ve found, on every random I’ve run with her so far, that every so often I’m dropping cat form to battle rez someone, or drop a HoT or two on the tank when the healer goes OOM. There’s something distinctly satisfying about being able to pause in my (rather nice, for my level, if I do say so myself) DPSing to keep the tank alive. Healer pride, with the lower tank-survival responsibility of a DPS.

I could get to enjoy this, I think.


Apple’s Healer Rules.

As a babyhealer, knowing healers and having visited quite a few healing blogs, I do know not to expect much consideration and gratitude in PUGs. I know that even when I call OOM and start drinking, there’s a pretty good chance the tank will run ahead and pull anyway. I know that if the tank line of sights me and dies before I can make it into los and get my Lay on Hands off, he’s probably going to be a bitch, even if I point out that he’d gotten out of my los.

But you’d think that a tank could wait, when we’ve all just phased in and I’ve only got a half-full mana bar (I always do, unless I haven’t been questing – my questing gear gives me about half the mana my healing gear does), for me to drink before pulling. And, of course, that time drinking is what I spend tweaking my PallyPower settings, so everyone gets the right buff (mostly me – I use Wisdom on myself for the mana regen, and kings on ret or prot pallys). And directly after that is when I start buffing everyone. I’ve gone so far as to make a macro that says “Please wait to pull until I’ve had a chance to swap my gear, drink, and put up my buffs. Thank you.” that is keybound so I can pop it up whenever I enter an instance. I figure that if I do this and then start drinking, if the tank pulls, he’s an idiot and I will not heal him until I’ve completed those tasks. If the tank or DPS can’t wait for the healer to be ready, they don’t deserve heals.

I really don’t want to be a bitchy healer, but there are some things that just seem like common courtesy to me, like making sure everyone’s ready before pulling. Not if everyone looks ready (which, if their mana bar is only half full, how is that even close to looking ready?) but if everyone is ready. Or not expecting that the healer will ghost, run, get back to your corpse, and rez you while you sit around doing nothing. Now, in the middle of things, if my mana is starting to dip and I start drinking without informing everyone, I’m not so picky about pulling – I’ll SAY that I’m low on mana if I’m low enough that another pull will take me OOM. So I’ll generally keep drinking as long as I feel is safe, run into range/los (if necessary), pop a Holy Light on the tank, and then continue with my usual Flash of Light spam. But if I say I’m low on mana/OOM, and you pull… well, I will drink as long as I damn well please.

So I’ve put together a brief list of Healer Rules; or, what happens when you act like a douche/idiot and I am your healer.

  1. If I come in, declare I need to swap gear/drink/whatever, and you pull anyway, I will not save you. I will finish doing what I was trying to do when you pulled. If everyone dies and I have to run out of the instance to keep myself alive, I will do so. If you bitch about it, I will tell you you should’ve waited. If you STILL bitch about it, I will leave.
  2. If I hit my OOM macro (which declares that my mana is low and I need to drink), and you pull, I will not save you. Same as above.
  3. If the healer runs, you run. I don’t care if we’re the only two that died, for one reason or another. If I have to run back to the instance, so do you. Do not insist I rez you. If you don’t release, I’ll tell you to release and run. If you ask for a rez, I will tell you that if I run, you run. If you decide to be a brat and not release to “make” me rez you, I will vote to kick, or at the very least, suggest we four-man.
  4. If you are DPS and I “let” you die, there are probably one of two reasons: either I was trying my fucking hardest to keep the tank alive to prevent a full wipe, in which case I am very sorry and will give you a rez; or you were an idiot and either pulled aggro off the tank and didn’t try to lower your threat or pulled a group of mobs on your own and the tank couldn’t get them off you in time/was busy with the group HE had pulled. If it was an accident-that-happens (and I know they do), I’ll rez you. If you were just an idiot but it was the first time it happened, I’ll tell you not to do that again, and I’ll rez you. If you do it multiple times in an instance, I WILL STOP REZZING YOU.
  5. Similar to that, if you are the tank and keep repeatedly pulling whole rooms that I can’t heal you through, and by some miracle I survive it, I will not rez you. I’m not talking the first time, or even the second time, but fucking LEARN after that, mkay? Pitch a fit, and I’ll leave.

It’s a pretty short list right now, and I hope it can stay that way. However, with the amount of DUMB going around in the randoms… I won’t hold my breath.


Healadins FTW

So I rolled a pally on Áislinn’s server a few days ago, because I was bored and ADD. I figured adding to my many alts-under-20 wasn’t going to hurt, because I can always delete the extraneous ones that I’ll never use again.

I initially specced Ret, because both times I’ve levelled a pally before, I’ve been Ret, and I didn’t really feel like tanking (I have a baby!warrior for that), so that seemed the best plan.

And then, today, I did two important things – I hit 15 and I followed links from BlogAzeroth. I don’t remember WHAT links, but I ended up on a blog for Holy Paladins and I thought “y’know, I’m sick of LFD queue times, why don’t I respec Holy?” So I did. And then Luther got on his lv 16ish shaman and we started running randoms.

It was on about the third or fourth that I realised that I REALLY LIKE HEALING. Granted, I had crap gear, so I was chugging milk and melon juice like nobody’s business, and the tanks didn’t seem to realise that they shouldn’t pull the whole room if the healer’s just called OOM, but even with all that, and all the bitching I did secretly in tells to Luther… it was the most fun I’ve had in low-level instances in a while. It was a refreshing change to not be focused on the mobs and doing the most damage. I mentioned to Luther that I was really digging the healing, and he decided to get me geared nicely, and got me a set of healing gear – I’ve got my better-DPS-and-health “Ret” gear for soloing stuff, but he got me some nice spellcaster stuff, and enchanted it.

I put it on, we queue for one more random for the night, to test it out. We get SFK, which was a relief after a long and tedious run through WC, a couple annoying runs through DM, and far more runs through RFC than I’d like to think about. The first thing I noticed was that I had TWICE THE MANA I’D HAD BEFORE. And it regened a lot quicker. And since I’d just dinged 20, I have Flash of Light, I started using that instead of Holy Light (which, while a heavier hit, is also a longer cast and uses more mana). The difference the gear and spells made was AMAZING and I had even more fun. AND I got a nice belt off Arugal. ^^

It’s late and I’m sleepy and need to go to bed so I can be rested for work tomorrow, but… Áislinn and Summer (my hunter) might have a competitor for “favourite class/spec combos to instance with”

And now I sleep. *falls over*


The loss of Blood-spec DPS

So, the class changes for Death Knights were announced at some point recently (I don’t keep up to date on news, it’s just not that important to me most of the time), and while I am intrigued and a little worried by the overhaul of runes, and the new abilities, the thing that struck me hardest was this:

One of the biggest changes we’re making is converting Blood into a dedicated tanking tree.

I’ll admit, I saw that and something in my chest twisted a little, and my bottom lip trembled. I feel a bit stupid for being so attached to a talent tree in a game, but if idiots on the forums can get all butthurt and ragey over every little thing, and RLs can chew out their raiders for screwing up, I’m allowed to have some calm and civilised mourning time for my character and play style.

You see, Áislinn is a Blood-spec DPS Death Knight. My oldest Death Knight, Ráthnait (formerly Loreana before the faction change) who I’ve been playing for almost a year now, I believe, is a Blood-spec DPS Death Knight. Ever since I first started playing DKs, I’ve been Blood-spec oriented. I’ve taken a couple forays into Unholy, but I just couldn’t get into it. I use it for a couple of random alts, both of them Gnomes, mostly because it’s funny to see Gnomes running around with ghouls, but… Blood is my spec. Hano suggested Blood when I first started because of the self-healing aspect, but I quickly fell in love with the whole experience of playing Blood.

Now, I do realise Blood DPS is harder to do right (and well) than Unholy. Áislinn isn’t making any waves with her DPS just yet (though I don’t know what she generally does, numbers-wise, since I’m not a big fan of Recount) because she’s not fully in her T9 gear, she’s not perfectly gemmed, and she hasn’t got any enchants (I know, I know, BAD Apple). But I’ve been slowly working on getting her a top-notch set, learning how to maximise my damage output and perfect my rotation. I’m not much good with stats, but if someone can tell me what numbers I’m trying to reach, and what stats are important, I can manage, and the rest of it is all the little idiosyncrasies that I’ve become so fond of.

And Blizzard is taking that away from me. Taking away my favourite part of playing a DK.

Still, they go on to say this:

It started to feel unfair to the other tank classes that we had to spend so much effort tweaking three types of DK tanks, and it even started to feel unfair to the DK that we couldn’t focus their tanking experience. One bit of feedback that really struck home was the DK players who said, essentially, “I look at the Protection tree and I’m jealous of all of the cool tools they have to help their tanking.” […] Rather than have a strong focus, the trees felt a little watered down because they were trying to do so much. With [these changes], we think the focus of each tree is a lot clearer and cooler.

…Okay, see, I can’t argue with that. It makes sense. While I’m extremely fond of Death Knights and their trees as they are now, I can understand how not everyone would be, and I can understand how the tanking DKs would feel a bit shafted, and how other tanking classes would feel a bit as if the DKs are getting all the attention. And I have Frost off-spec anyway, because I have thoughts of learning to tank once I’ve gotten Áis geared for DPS, so it’s not as if I’ll have to go far for my new deeps tree once Cata hits – just swap out the tree that I have active most of the time, and learn to tank in blood when I get the chance.

But… I really really like DPSing in Blood. So I’m going to be sad about it.

This is major change, and we understand it will be met with some disappointment from […] those few of you who really liked Blood dps. Nevertheless, we are convinced that this is the right change for the game.

Time will tell, I suppose, whether it was the right change, but it probably needed to be done one way or another. And to be perfectly honest, Blood DOES seem like the best tree for it, what with its focus on physical damage output and self-healing.

…and of course, it’s strange for me to think that I’m one of “those few” who are enamoured by Blood DPS. It’s so fun to me, how can people not enjoy it? Ah well, if we knew the answer to that, we’d know how to beat the game, and divide by zero, and the question to “42”. It’s one of those things that just IS, for various reasons, some of them logical and rational, and many of them not.

So. I will mourn the imminent passing of my favourite spec for my favourite class, and I will run randoms more often to enjoy it while it lasts, and when Cataclysm rolls around, I’ll learn to do Frost deeps and I’ll probably like it a lot.

How do you guys feel about the changes your main class(es) will be undergoing when Cata comes?

PvE · PvP · Roleplay

Blog Azeroth: World of Awecraft

Well, the folks over at Blog Azeroth have prompted a discussion on “I remember my first…” and the sense of awe that you have in the early stages of play.

I remember the first time I went into an instance not as a tag-along to my lv. 80 friend, but as a member of a party actually at the right level for that instance. Shadowfang Keep, though I’d already gone through it with Hano, in a group that… oh, I don’t really remember how we got teamed up. But I do remember the feeling that came over me when we finally downed Arugal… it was this amazing sense of accomplishment. We’d killed this guy, working together, all of us doing our parts. I loved it. To this day, unless I’m doing a quick grind, I prefer a well-balanced group that has to work to clear an instance. The Tank has to be able to pull well and keep aggro, the DPS has to be on their toes and watch their aggro levels, the healer has to know exactly which heals are best to use in the situation. Yes, it means we wipe, usually more than once, and usually at least once on a bad trash pull, but when you get to the end and down the last boss, you’ve earned it. You’ve earned whatever phat loot drops at the end, and the achievement (if it’s your first time), and whatever else you might get for finishing.

I remember the first time I was of any use in a battleground. I’ve mainly stayed away from them after a few horrible experiences in Warsong Gulch on my warrior, in the 20’s (yes, I know, bad idea, but I didn’t know at the time), and most PvP, when there are more than a handful of people fighting in one spot, really overloads my graphics and bandwidth and I get epic lag. But on a whim, I took my little Alliance frost mage (then a level 17) into WSG. Now, I had more extensive fun killing in PvP when I took my hunter (level 55) into Alterac Valley, but this time, with my mage… I decided to take a leap and try to actually fight, rather than just sitting around trying not to die. Because of my lag, I didn’t try to go to where the combat was, I just stood by the flag. And then, lo, an Orc grabbed it the flag. I frostbolted and frost nova’d and just outside the base, the Orc fell dead, leaving the flag for me to pick up and return.

I literally had to stop and stare for a second before remembering to grab it so it’d be safe. It was just… I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. I’d actually killed someone of my level in PvP, and recaptured the flag. It still feels a bit surreal, to be honest, but wonderful. I’m never going to be a big PvP buff, I think, but it can be amazing fun.

I remember the first time I saw the outside of Ahn’Qiraj, the Scarab Gate and the walk up to AQ40’s entrance. This was when I was about level 60, and Hano’d grabbed a few guildies to run my fresh Death Knight (rolled just so I could be on his server) through for gear. I got a polearm that lasted me until Northrend, but it was coming up to it, first going in, that really made me catch my breath. I literally gasped. It was so epic – I finally got to see the scope of this world – it feels so small sometimes, given how quickly we can move around in it, but this… it was more than tall mountains and deep canyons – it was an epic empire that should have been long forgotten, but still swarmed with terrifying creatures. It didn’t hurt that there was so much Egyptian influence – I was always fascinated by ancient Egypt as a kid. It was like my most fantastical imaginings come to life. For a brief moment, the world on my computer screen was more real, more alive, than anything around me. I’ve felt a smaller glimpse of that questing in Storm Peaks, and I know when I finally get to run Ulduar 10-man (it WILL happen one day), I’m going to feel that same sense of awe and vivid reality. I can’t wait.

And lastly, but hardly least important, I remember the first time I signed on. Sure, I’d rolled a human, which arguably doesn’t have the most interesting starting area, but the opening cinematic and that brief introduction to the human race made my heart race just a little. I was becoming part of something big. Something that would probably (hopefully) be bigger than I could ever quite realise. It was magical. While it’s much less mysterious now (well, MOST of it), the magic is still there, and I can’t imagine ever losing it. It’s clearly a pretty big part of why I play – just look at my header! That’s a constellation-person! And the WORLD!

I feel bad for people who lose that sense of awe. I can’t see how the game is any fun without it.


Thoughts on the Deserter Debuff

Wow, go figure, I start up a blog with the intention of posting at least once a week, and I forget it exists for a month. Go me.

So in a recent patch, the random dungeon “deserter debuff” (which you get for leaving a random group “prematurely”) has been extended from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, in an attempt to keep players from immediately abandoning a group if they get an instance they don’t want to run.

While I appreciate the fact that this is a problem, especially when it’s the tank or healer who drops, I’m not entirely sure that extending this debuff is necessarily the way to go. I mean, a good number of those people have MULTIPLE lv 80’s, so they could easily fill the time by logging onto ANOTHER toon to queue until the debuff on the original wears off. Not to mention that there are legitimate reasons for leaving “prematurely” – if you get a group whose tank pulls without warning anyone and overpulls, and the healer can’t keep them alive more than 30 seconds, which leads to a wipe in the first MINUTE of being in an instance… I don’t want to be in that group. I don’t want the repair bills from being in that group and I don’t want the frustration of dying again and again on trash mobs. But I have to stick around for five minutes or so just so I don’t get the damn deserter debuff, which usually puts me in a bad mood and makes me not want to deal with queueing again.

Now, I realise that situations like that (yes, it actually happened a couple different times) are much rarer than people going “oh, shit, I don’t want THIS instance” and leaving the group, but it’s frustrating for those of us who don’t have the energy to deal with idiocy of the masses to have to wait 30 minutes to queue again, especially when we’re DPS – the abandoned group will be on their way in a couple minutes tops, but I’ll be waiting an hour before I get in another group.

My complaints on the extension aside, it’s probably the most effective way to harmlessly penalise and discourage people from abandoning a group because they don’t want to run the Oculus again (even though I freaking hate that instance…), and will probably, in the end, keep things relatively balanced.

I still hate the queue times, though. Damned DPS classes being so common…