Full Circle

Malk's Raid
What’s the name of the Archimonde Feat of Strength again? That’s right, it’s Time Is A Flat Circle.  Sure, the name is a pop culture reference to some TV show or another but to me, it’s got another meaning.

Full circle.  I’ve completed the circle.

At this very same time last expansion, I was frantically trying to get into a group to get my Garrosh AotC achievement.  I was dedicated, that’s for sure, but my gear and numbers left much to be desired.  Last expansion I was pugging into every group I could, hoping to get that one extra drop I needed to be able to get into a successful Garrosh group.

Last expansion, a truly wonderful person named Khizzara and her guild <That Guild> helped me finally achieve my expansion long goal.  They graciously took me under their wing and brought me in for my Feat of Strength and mount, just a few days before the patch dropped and removed the AoTC forever.

And now this expansion, I return the favor.

It’s a Monday afternoon, about one week before the launch of Warcraft’s next expansion, Legion.  I was browsing Twitter as I am wont to do when I happened across a tweet of particular interest.  Malkarii, a twitter acquaintance of mine, was looking to set up a last moose carry run before the end of the expansion.  She wanted to run a low-key sort of event, just a group of friends hanging out in Twitch/Mumble, getting mooses for as many folks as we could before they disappeared forever.

I checked my calendar and found that I was free on the day of the run.  So, I shot her a DM, offering my services as a healer (or tank or dps should the need be great).  We chatted for a bit, I mentioning that I could ask a few of my guildies if they wanted to come since most were geared to the nines at this point.  The time of the run was established and we parted ways.

Fast forward to Saturday evening.  I’m hanging out in a raid with my guildies Rainspirit and Lorenyth (later to come are Bodhirana, Cloud, and Xunam).  Us, along with about a dozen others are all grouped up and ready to start wailing on Archimonde.  Then, we bring in the carries.  It’s a scattered assortment of friends and guildies.  Some more experienced than others but all eager and dedicated.

The first couple of attempts are admittedly rough.  We wipe a couple of times but keep coming back up and trying again.  Then, we start rolling.  The stacks are stacked and the spreads spreaded and Archimonde comes crashing to the ground.  It’s one successful run down.

At this point, I unfortunately have to step out of the raid for a little while.  I ask my friend Bodhirana if he’d like to come in as I don’t want to leave without finding a replacement healer and I’d trust Bodhi with my virtual life in a split second.  Bodhi generously agrees to come with (you can read about his experience in his most recent blog post!) and I duck out for a while.

After taking care of my real life responsibilities, I join back in the group.  At this point, we are rolling.  It takes more time to get every grouped up and explain the fight than it does to actually take Archimonde down.  Malkarii is great, explaining the fight before every single pull.  Yes, this may be a carry run but she doesn’t want folks to tap the boss once and go and stand in some fire.   Everyone is working together as a team to accomplish this, let’s all try to remain standing at the end if we can!

One run goes by, then another, then another! Pretty soon, I’ve lost count.  Dozens of hopeful folks come in seeking mooses and head out with the quests for their shiny new mount.  And even though it’s the same boss over and over again, I still was having a ton of fun.  I was chatting, cracking jokes, laughing at jokes, and getting to really make a difference for some folks.

Call me cliche and call me corny but the truth of the matter is, I loved being able to do this.  Just one expansion ago, I was one of those folks.  Determined on getting the AotC mount but not lucky enough to be on a raid team to do it.  Working on gearing up but running into the inevitability of pugs.  This was me.

And now I get to give back.  Now instead of being the carried, I get to be the carrier.  I’m offering these folks the opportunity to get the mount, I know from personal experience, they’ve worked so hard to get.  Just like myself, they are getting in their mooses just in the nick of time due to the kindness of friends, guildies, and even complete strangers.  I am giving the gift I once received myself.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

Huge, huge, huge thanks to my fellow guildies for coming along for the ride!  Rainspirit (though I know you found out and joined independently of me but still, I’m going to mention you here!), Lorenyth, Aestalas, Cloud, and Xunam, y’all are totally amazing folks and we couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you so much for joining me on this (totally optional!) adventure!

And to all the other carries, those from twitter and those from somewhere else in the great wide world of Azeroth, thank you as well! Had there not been our two trusty tanks or our dependable dps, I would not have been able to complete the circle.  Thank you for running with me!

And finally, Malkarii.  I know you don’t want to be showered with accolades or follows or anything but I do want to say, thank you.  Thank you for organizing this, for making the call to run the extra hour, for bringing together all the carriers to make this run a reality.  You rock lady!

Time may be a flat circle, but now it’s also a complete circle.

Prepatch: INVASIONS

WoWScrnShot_081216_154013The Legion has arrived!  With it has come demon hunters and lore and content and, of course, demons!  But of all the new stuff to do, I’d have to say, my absolute favorite are the Legion Invasions.

For those who haven’t done one yet, Legion invasions are pretty rad.  Every four hours the Legion invades two of the leveling zones in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. During those four hours players of almost any level can enter the zone and help fight off the Legions demons who have started to overrun the area.

The first phase, Stage 1, involves killing demons attacking the main town of the zone.  Once that stage has been pushed to 100%, Stage 2 begins.  A number of named demons, lower ranking officers, materialize and attack the town.  Once again you defeat the demons and the trigger Stage 3.

Stage 3 is my absolute favorite part of the invasions.  In Stage 3, the Legion decides to full out invade the entire zone.  Huge demonic structures grow out of the ground, enormous Legion commanders walk the zone, packs of lose demons roam this way and that, felfire rains from the sky, it is chaos, it is mayhem, and it is awesome!  In order to push back this invasion, players can destroy the structures by taking out their powering crystals, take down the mighty demon elites, or go around healing and inspiring the denizens of the zone.  Lots of action and lots and lots of Legion!

Once Stage 3 is completed, you end up in the Final Stage.  At this point, the Legion Boss in charge of this particular invasion appears in the main town.  All the players come flying back and together start wailing on the demon lord.  Depending on which demon comes down, the final stage can be a cake walk or it can be a graveyard run.  Once the final demon is beaten, you’ve completed the invasion! Congrats!

The invasions work with a nifty type of phasing in which entering the zone pulls you into a specific version where the Legion has just started invading so you can work your way through.  There are multiple versions of the zone, all on different stages of invasion.  This means you can complete an invasion in twenty minutes but the Legion will still be invading that zone for three more hours so you can swap to an alt and beat the invasion all over again.

WoWScrnShot_081216_154318Man oh man, Blizzard has totally knocked it out of the park with this one.  This is everything I could have ever wanted in a pre-expansion event and this isn’t the only part of it! I love that the town leaders get to shout dialogue across the zone and that you  can recruit the NPCs in the zone to fight.  I love that there are demons literally everywhere and the whole zone takes part.  And most of all, I love that I can participate and actually help out as a healer!

The damage that the demons deal, particularly the big ones, is nothing to snooze at.  Without the aid of a friendly neighborhood healer, it is very very easy to go splat when tanking the final demon boss.  And even before that, I can help push the percentages higher in Stage 3 by rescuing NPCs instead of fighting.  For the very first time I’m getting to play my healer as a healer outside of instances.

As fun as invasions are by yourself, they are even more fun in groups!  I’ve been organizing what I call “Guild Invasion Groups!” where me and all of my guildies who are interested in running invasions all group up and go and kill some demons together.  Like one big bonding experience!  Once we complete the two invasions points on our mains, we then swap to our alts and do it again and again until either we get bored or run out of alts.  I’ve run groups with as many as fifteen people in them and it’s been a total blast!

The invasions also award armor, weapons, a new currency, a pet, and a couple of Feats of Strength but honestly, I would do the invasions if there was no reward at all.  That’s just how atmospheric and awesome I find this event!  Blizzard has really knocked this out of the park.

And I can’t wait to see how it will ramp up!

Short Story: TRAPPED (Part 1)

WoWScrnShot_080516_191028Today we’re breaking from the norm yet again; I’ve got another short story for you all! Because of the longer length of the piece (it’s nearly 6,000 words!) I’ve broken it up into two parts and placed this first part behind a cut.  Part Two will be coming soon so stay tuned!  And now, I present to you….

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Why I Do Not Use (many) Addons

(Pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn't there, that seems to be a graphical error because it is well and truly uninstalled)

The lonely few addons I use!  (pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn’t there; that seems to be a graphical error because it is fully and truly uninstalled)

This has come up again and again and I’ve finally decided to sit down and address it once and for all in it’s own blog post.  The topic at hand? Why I, Fussypants, do not use (many) addons in World of Warcraft.

First things first, what do I mean when I say that I don’t use many addons?  Depending on who you talk to, that could range from a hundred addons to zero.  In my case, I have a grand total of five addons installed.  Skada, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP.  Of those five, I currently have just one of them enabled, which is Skada.  All of the rest I have used at some point in Warlords of Draenor but as they became less useful to me, I slowly began to disable them.  Right now, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP exist in the disabled void.  So when I say I don’t use many addons, I really mean it.

Alright I think we’ve pretty clearly illustrated my lack of addon usage so here’s going to come the ringer.  A lot of times when I tell folks how few addons I use, they assume I don’t have many because I must harbor some deep seated loathing of any and all addon.  I won’t download Master Plan or Vudho or Altoholic because I despise them with all of my soul.  And that’s simply not true.

I do not hate addons.

I just don’t find them very useful in my particular situation.

Again, I’m going to pause right here and reiterate, all of this applies only to me.  These are my feelings and thoughts about my gameplay and I, in no way, assume they apply to anyone else.  If they do, great, we have something in common! But let it be known, I am writing this completely and solely about myself (what a narcissist!).

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

I only use an addon if it does something that I absolutely need in order to play.  I have Skada so I can gauge my performance and see if I am where I need to be.  I had oRA3 to keep track of several pieces of information that I needed for raid leading, chief among them battle resurrection timers and flask and food buff checks.  I had Iskar Assist for the Iskar encounter in Hellfire Citadel (but in reality, I rarely thought to use the addon and instead clicked the new action button almost every time).  I had XRP to facilitate roleplaying, the one time a friend and I rolled characters on an RP server.  And I had DBM to inform me ahead of time when certain encounter abilities and phases were incoming.  Each of my addons fills a specific roles that I need and otherwise would not have.

If I find I need to be able to do something and the default in game UI is not clear enough or I can’t keep track of it on my own, that’s when I start looking into an addon to fill that gap.  That’s how I ended up getting Skada; I needed a way to quantitatively test my specs and see how I was performing.  When I encounter something in game and I can’t play happily the way it is, I start searching Curse for a tool to do the job.

This also means that once I no longer need the addon, I’ll get rid of it.  With Hellfire Citadel soon becoming obsolete, I will be uninstalling the Iskar Assist addon.  I am not currently raid leading so I will probably dump oRA3.  And I know all of the boss fights in HFC well enough that, for the time being, I’ve disabled that too.  Addons are only useful if they are doing things I can’t do by myself.

I am well aware that with certain addons, I could most likely be just a tiny faster, better, more successful, whatever you have it.  But that has never been my goal in game.  I don’t play to be the best, I play to have fun.  Sure, a lot of times being good at what I do is fun enough on it’s own but I’ve never felt the urge to eke out that very last percentage of uberness.  Call me lazy, call me casual, both are probably correct and neither really bother me.

So why fix something that isn’t broken? Why would I install an addon to be just a little bit more productive if I’m already perfectly content where I am?

My healing set up

My healing set up

Let’s use an example.  My most favorite thing to do in game is fill the healing role in raids.  I have one of every single healer and I spend 85% of my times in raids healing.  However, I do not, and will not get the addon Vudho (or any of the alternatives).  People have asked me, and even told me to get a healing addon but at the current, I don’t see any reason to.

As it is, I heal just fine.  I might not be the best, I might not be the worst (at least I hope not!) but I genuinely enjoy the act of healing.  Of clicking in the raid frames and then hitting or clicking a button to heal.  To me, it’s fun! It’s how I relax.  It’s how I challenge myself.  It’s how I game.

If I someday got to the point where I couldn’t respond fast enough, perhaps then I would download a healing addon to help with that.  I won’t rule out that possibility.  But right now, I seem to be doing pretty good.  I don’t really need it and so I don’t plan to download it.

This is not to say I begrudge the folks who have hundreds of addons.  Play the game how you’d like, I’m not going to judge you!  If you use Vudho or Healbot or Grid or Clique to heal, power to you!  If you’ve modded your UI into a completely different form, go for it!  If you have a tracker and timer for every spell effect, go hog wild!

But also, to those folks who play with the basic UI, have a blast! To those folks who use the basic raid frames and in game timer, you do you!  The way you play is not in any way worse. As much as we’d like to joke about it, there’s really no wrong way to play World of Warcraft.  Make your own fun your own way.

And stop telling me to download Vudho!😛

Transmog and class changes and bag space, oh my!

WoWScrnShot_072216_162345First there was stillness.  A veritable pause, as if the very air was waiting, frozen solid in anticipation.  And then, the call was sounded.
The servers are coming back up!  The patch is here, the patch is here!
And with that, the frozen clarity of the moment shattered.  The people logged in and basked in their new transmog and bag spaces and class changes.  The streets of Stormwind were flooded (for it appeared CRZ had been turned on there) and the taverns filled with chatter.  A new era began.

A prepatch so momentous deserved and introduction like that, don’t you agree?  This Tuesday, a couple hours ahead of schedule, Patch 7.0.3 the Legion prepatch went live.  Fussypants (and a few hours later, Yotaan) were right in the thick of it, digging into the new transmog and class changes.  Here’s what they thought.

Fussypants:  Oh man oh man oh man, I’ve been waiting for this for months! Where do I even begin?
Well ok, let’s go through the path I took when logging in.  Like many, the very first thing I did was log into every single one of my characters and learn the armor and weapon appearances.  I had two alt guilds full of gear just waiting for the wardrobe and so this task took me two days to fully complete.  And even now, I still need to go back through with a fine toothed comb.  However at this point, I’d build up enough appearances in my wardrobe to begin the second part of my prepatch adventure.

Shadow, Holy, and Discipline sets, respectively

My Shadow, Holy, and Discipline sets, respectively.  SO MUCH PRETTY CLOTH!

Transmog!
I honestly don’t know how I survived without the wardrobe, it is truly fantastic!  Hundreds of pieces I had no idea I had, thousands of possible combinations; it was transmog heaven!  And the ability to set transmog sets per spec, man oh man is that amazing.  If I had to make one complaint, I would say that I wish I could view other types of armor than the one my character uses while viewing through the Collections window.  But in the grand scheme of things, that’s small potatoes.  The Wardrobe is still a beautiful, beautiful thing.

After going through and nailing down transmogs, my next step was to set up all of the specs on all of my toons.  That task took the better part of two days as well (when I mean all specs, I mean all specs).   I have not gotten to test anything super extensively but I did get to run a good number of timewalker dungeons while trying to get the hang of the new Holy Paladin (verdict still incoming on that spec).  I have to say, it was super exciting to set up the “new” spec on each toon that I previously had never played.  I can dps now!

Of all the specs that I looked at, the one that caught my eye the most was, of all things, Shadow Priests.  Partly in an attempt to test drive and partly to farm up some Marks of Honor for transmog, I did a number of battlegrounds with my priest.  Now I’m not the most PvP oriented person (raiding is really my bread and butter) but I actually had a ton of fun Mind Blasting the Horde.  Putting everyone on equal footing stat and gear-wise meant that for the first time, I had a fighting chance.  I wasn’t being roflstomped by people geared out to the nines; I had a chance to fight back.  It was wonderful!

As for Shadow Priests as a spec, I found myself really really loving the new Insanity mechanic.  Shadow Orbs were ok but I always thought they were a little simple.  But this new resource, man is it fun! I love the interplay of building it up and then trying to maintain void form for as long as possible.  And void form itself, what an awesome spell effect that is!  Shadow Priests felt loose, fast, frantic, and fun.  I’m not so sure how this will look in a raid environment but for PvP and soloing, I was having a blast!  And how could I forget the best part?  Surrender to Madness, best talent 2016.

 

Look at how many followers these guys have gathered!

Look at how many followers these guys have gathered!

The last part of the patch that I want to touch on is the very beginning of the invasion event: the Doomsayers in Stormwind and Orgrimmar.  Talking to them yields you one of twelve pamphlets on topics ranging from Buy Demon Insurance to Burn all Worldly Possessions.  It’s a relatively small detail but it’s starting to build towards the actual invasion in a gradual yet still noticeable way.  Also, there’s a Feat of Strength attached that basically involved killing your character repeatedly.  Ok maybe not exactly that.  But killing your character does speed up the process.

Overall, this patch is looking like it’s going to go down as one of my favorite prepatches of all time.  I was pretty underwhelmed with the Warlords prepatch but this time round, I’ve got nothing but praise.  Still, I’m reserving final judgement until those demons start popping out.

Yotaan:  Content, FINALLY!!!  It has been months and months of no updates, no patches.  While one can argue that there is plenty to do in the World of Warcraft game, we all know that new content is the most exciting.  So what I am excited about?

Unlike Fussypants, transmog is not a big thing for Yotaan.  He is happy to look like a mismatched clown.  Well, that may not be entirely correct as I do turn off the helm and sometimes the cape.  I did mog my helm to the fel sunglasses too.  Okay, I transmog a little bit, like dipping my toes in the pool.  I never fully jumped in.  I did check it out and I am impressed with the options and the UI.  What amazed me a little bit more is how few pieces of mail I have collected!  Yotaan (formerly Yotin) has been my main for many years and I assumed that I collected a lot of quest gear and such.  Boy, was I wrong!  There are pages and pages of stuff to get.  The little OCD dude in me starts twitching when I look at the uncollected.  Additionally,I don’t think we have another active toon playing that wears mail, so any new mail armor is just for me.  Hmm, now that is something to do, collect mail!

For me the other big content change is the complete and utter change to my elemental spec.
Again.
For the umpteenth time.
Geez.

We are greeted when we log in to our elemental toons practically empty action bars.  I mean no buttons to click, no keys to mash.  It was a bit of shock actually.  So I went through my spell book to repopulate my bars.   The basics are there, my shocks, lightning bolt, lava stuff.  Um, so, where are my totems?  So many are missing!!!  Nooooo!   Okay, it’s okay, Yotaan can survive this.  I pull every single DPS spell I can and rearrange a few items.  Wow, I have a lot of empty space still.  I hope the talents can fill this out a bit.

Heading over the talent window was a nice surprise really.  There were lots of new and elemental specific choices.  This was a welcome improvement.  All my talent choices seemed meaningful and fun.  There were even totem options, yay!  If this is how the honor talents for PVP looks, then I am a happy panda indeed.

Speaking of PVP, that was my next step.  Fussypants was playing on her alternate toon, Fancypants who she specced shadow of all things.  She was telling me the great time she was having.  I figured battlegrounds would be a good place to practice new rotations and get a hang of Legion lightning and lava slinging.  It was fun!  I was getting owned by rogues and death knights, but my survivability is greatly improved since my previous foray into PVP in Warlords.  Yotaan clearly needs more haste (and surprisingly to me, healing) but overall it still felt elemental and exciting.  There may be a lot more PVP blogging in the future of Yotaan.

Overall, things are looking good.  I’m thinking that one of the two of us will prepay to get a Demon Hunter early (yay more content.)  So looking forward to smacking those demons!

Farewell to my Heralds

The final group!

The final group!

Citizens of Dalaran! Raise your eyes to the skies and observe!  For the very last time in Warlords of Draenor, our world’s destruction has been averted in defiance of our very makers!

Algalon the Observer, herald of the titans, has been defeated by our brave comrades in the depths of the titan city of Ulduar for the eighth and final time.

Cold logic deemed eight runs too many. Cold logic, however, does not account for the power of guild dedication!. It’s up to each of us to prove this is a Feat of Strength worth obtaining! That our titles… our titles are worth earning.

Man, I couldn’t say goodbye to my Herald of the Titans runs without quoting dear ol’ Rhonin.  Don’t worry though, unlike Rhonin, I can keep the speech down to once through.  With the final group defeating Algalon on Wednesday, <oTQ> has officially ended our Herald of the Titans runs for this season.  And because of the upcoming changes to set bonuses in older expansions, the Wednesday run may have been our last run… forever.

Herald of the Titans has been my pet project for almost two years now.  I’ve leveled up three different characters, cleared Naxxramus for gear more times than I care to count, and helped get over 50 people their Herald of the Titans title.  It’s been a long, sometimes frustrating, but overall, incredibly rewarding journey. And I have to admit, a part of me will always love the Algalon encounter.  Except the Cosmic Smash.  Screw the Cosmic Smash.  But every other part has a special place in my heart.

Herald of the Titans was really my first experience organizing and executing a large scale group activity.  At first it was just guildies but in time, it grew to include other friends, acquaintances, and eventually random people who’d heard of the runs.  I quickly found the best ways to get key details out to people (bold, change the color, and jack up that font size) as well as the importance of keeping my master posts up to date.

I also learned how to deal with failure.  Our first couple of runs actually ended in wipes for 3 hours, something that I had definitely not expected or planned for going in.  There are ways to keep morale up and ways to encourage improvement and those first couple of runs were an awesome teaching experience.

And finally, I got to meet and interact with all sorts of people.  Good friends who I got closer to. Guildies who I didn’t know as well before the runs and became friends with after.  People who joined our guild because of Heralds.  Twitter folks who I’d never gotten to play in game with before. And all the random folks who stumbled across the page after googling ‘Herald of the Titans runs’ (we were one of the top hits!).

It’s been a fantastic two years.  However, like all things, this chapter is coming to a close.  To all of those helped supply the runs, to those who kept coming on the runs to help me fill the occasional open space, and to those who got their titles through the runs, thank you.  Thank you for coming along for the ride, for gearing up your characters, for maxing out those gems and enchants, and for watching out for the Cosmic Smashes.  And congratulations, Herald of the Titans!

 

(Editors note: Because Yotaan and Fussypants are going on vacation, there will be no blog post next week.  We will be back at it the following week however, just in time for the alleged prepatch drop!)