Tomb of Sargeras Recap

It’s Antorus Eve guys! Come tomorrow’s reset (for US realms, at least), the next raid tier will be upon us, bringing us new baddies, mechanics, and, of course, loot! However, before we entirely dive into the next raid, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the retiring giant, Tomb of Sargeras.

While the Tomb of Sargeras did perhaps have one too many soak mechanic and five too many RNG raid-wiper, I have to say, it was a pretty entertaining raid. The instance pretty adeptly avoided the issue of being ‘all demon’ like it threatened to be when announced. Each boss fight was different enough from each other so as to be memorable and independent. There were some spots that were perhaps tuned too tightly and a few mechanics that were incredibly unforgiving, but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time closing the portal to Azeroth.

However, no raid review is complete without a blow by blow analysis of each raid boss, right?

Goroth

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic, Mythic
Best Known For: Nothing. This boss was a literal cakewalk
Attributes: +5 to Bowling
            +3 to Hide and Seek 
            +2 to Nap Time

I’ll be honest, Goroth was the boss I have the least number of kills on. Not because he’s super hard or anything – actually, quite the reverse is true. My raid team would often kill him before I was even able to get online to raid, that’s just how simple the mechanics were. While I did enjoy bowling for spikes the few times I did fight this boss, overall, he was pretty forgettable. But, as the first boss in an instance, that is just the perfect warm up.

Demonic Inquisition

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Annoying Target Switching (even I, as a healer, knew this)
Attributes: +4 to Dispel Mechanic 
            +2 to Belly Realm 
            +3 to Torment

After the faceroll that was Goroth, Inquisition was definitely a rude awakening. There was some sort of interrupt thing (look, I heal this stuff, ok?) and an annoying target swap along with the classic balancing act of accruing Torment vs DPSing, a lot to juggle while also getting your Calcified Quills out of the raid group so you don’t spike your friends up into the air. There wasn’t anything particularly unique or compelling about the bosses’ models or dialogues, which all in all, made the whole encounter rather bland. Definitely not one of my favorites.

Harjatan

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: HUG THE TANK
Attributes: +7 to Murlocs 
            +4 to Water Puddles 
            +3 to Stacking

While he wasn’t the most original of bosses, I quite liked the Harjatan fight (except for the fact that the druid and shaman healers on my team always whooped my butt on the meters with all the stacking). I liked the fact that everyone took one of the boss’s massive blows to the face, don’t ask me why, I just liked it. The panicked spreading during the frosty bit too, was awesome fun from a healer perspective to drop some massive numbers, before we all got back together to hug the tanks. It was a simple fight, for sures, but gratifying!

Mistress Sassz’ine

Nickname: Mistress Splashyfrass
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Get in the Green Beams! and The Best Healing Trinket of the Tier ™
Attributes: +13 to Save Your Friends 
            +5 to WHALE 
            +2 to Run around and Panic

I will be honest: the first couple times I did this fight, I absolutely hated it. The mechanics were completely unforgiving in comparison to what had come before. The Hydra Shot damage was immense and very, very spikey. And there was just so. much. going. on! But, as time went on and I got better at the fight, I found myself falling in love with Mistress Splashyfrass. As a holy paladin, I discovered an awesome rhythm to the fight which resulted in that being one of my best bosses performance-wise. The chaos in the last phase was insane, but manageable, and the only person I could kill was myself. And did I mention, there were whales??

However, one piece of loot that the Mistress drops deserves a paragraph all to itself. Sea Star of the Depthmother. For every single healer on our team, and perhaps in the universe, this was the trinket to have. The proc rate was insane, and often off of frequently used spells. It was god-mode. And, unfortunately, I had terrible luck rolling for it. I spent months farming for this trinket. Months. I saved a coin every raid reset, and would consistently pug it when our raid was progressing elsewhere in the instance.

And then finally, one fateful evening, I got it to drop.

(Actually, I didn’t at all, a friend who was with me on the run did and he passed it to me.)

But I got it.

And from that day, everything changed.

Just like the beloved Cake! from last tier, I suspect I’ll be hanging onto my Sea Star for many moons to come.

Sisters of the Moon

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Being a Single Target Fight, Despite Looking like a Multi-Target Fight
Attributes: +3 to Moons! 
            +4 to Absorption Shields 
            +18 to Kill Your Framerates

The room of this boss was gorgeous. Hands down, I think this was one of the prettiest rooms of the instance. The floor… the floor was a moon that changed throughout the fight! Unfortunately though, this beautiful room very quickly would kill my poor ol’ computer, which meant I frequently did this boss with 15 frames per second or less. Not exactly the best experience! On a mechanics level, the Sisters had a healthy balance of fun mechanics and finicky ones. Clearing your stacks of Moon or Shadow debuffs on the floor was fun in theory but bothersome in practice. The pink beam of “Split this with your friends!” was very rarely split with friends because of when it came up in the fight. On the flip side though, I really enjoyed the absorption shield that needed to be healed off (really, any healer specific mechanics are a lot of fun!). Any excuse for big burst numbers is a win in my book!

The Desolate Host

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Split Realms
Attributes: +2 to Adds 
            +1 to Ancient Night Elven Burial Ground 
            +6 to The Hokey Pokey

While this boss was a total maze to get to (and a pain to leave from), I quite liked the Desolate Host. The change in mechanics from Normal to Heroic completely changed the way our raid team did the fight, making it much more interesting from a progression point of view. And I really dug the split realms since it put a lot more personal responsibility on each member of the raid. The fight did seem a bit long, but, on the bright side, once you got to the actual boss, you were pretty much golden. Oh, and Spirit Side is the Best Side!

Maiden of Vigilance

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: COLORS. MOTHER OF PEARL, COLORS.
Attributes: +8 to Identifying Colors 
            +3 to Catching Balls 
            +5 to JUMP IN THE HOLE

Maiden was a boss that was either awesome… or awful. Who woulda thought that identifying colors would have turned out to be one of the most difficult mechanics Blizzard added in this tier? (For those of you who are colorblind, I have nothing but respect because I have no idea how you folks could do this fight.) At first, I really loved the idea of purposefully jumping into the hole at the center of the room, but the novelty of that quickly wore off after a few bugged explosions that resulted in a very, very long fall. Maiden, when it was going well, felt like a well oiled machine of stacking and spreading, running on the rails and collecting the same colors. When she was going poorly, it was a hot mess where one accident led to another, led to another, led to an explosion, and ended in a wipe. The best part: not even when we had her on farm were we safe!

Fallen Avatar

Nickname: Grunty (the Maiden) and Smashy (the Avatar)
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Terrible Mechanics Overlaps
Attributes: +5 to Grunting 
            +5 to Smashing 
            +9 to RNG

Avatar… was not a fun boss. I’ll go ahead and say it. The fight was tuned rather tightly and the mechanics often overlapped in the most unfortunate ways. You have to run across the room to converge onto one point to burst through the Maiden’s shiel- but oh wait! It’s Unbound Chaos so instead you need to run away from all your allies or they will kill you! The bottom phase was just as aggravating with its Dark Marks throwing people every which way and the tornadoes which always seem to be headed straight for you and just- ugh! Not a ton of fun! There was just too much going on: far too many instant death, and, worse still, raid wipe mechanics. Adding to this, the Maiden’s grunts were just so danged loud! C’mon woman, I know you’re fighting and all that, but could you keep it down?

Kil’jaeden

Gotta get that boss kill shot in for this guy!

Nickname: The Guild Breaker
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Being Absolutely and Completely Awful
Attributes: +9999 to Soaking Swirlies 
            +9999 to Burning Adds 
            +9999 to Knockbacks 
            +9999 to Darkness 
            +9999 to Weeping

I completely accept that the final boss of a raid tier needs to be difficult. I absolutely understand that the final boss must include challenging mechanics. I 100% buy that the final boss will require a lot of wipes before it is downed.

But Kil’jaeden? That was just mean.

The Deceiver rightfully earned his reputation as the Guild Breaker. The mechanics were unyielding. The timers could so easily go wrong. And even one Armageddon swirl missed pretty much meant a wipe, if not right away, then some point later due to healer mana loss. Kil’jaeden was tuned way too tightly, to the point of being painful rather than challenging. Progressing on him often felt like throwing oneself against a brick wall over and over while praying for change.

I still don’t understand why Illidan made us go find him in that darkness (what a jerk!). I still don’t understand which way the obelisks would do their zap. I still don’t understand why Fel Claws needed to hit like a dump truck going down a steep hill.

Luckily, after tomorrow, I won’t have to.

Despite a very brutal ending, I still have to say, Tomb of Sargeras was a decent raid. The bosses each felt different from the preceding, and with a variety of themes and designs, there was far less ‘demon burn-out’ than I feared. While not my favorite raid of all times, I definitely think that Tomb of Sargeras will be ranked pretty solidly up there due to a number of strong features. Just please, no more Kil’jaedens any time soon!

Onwards, to Argus!

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Mage Tower Challenge: Holy Paladin Style

I am always up for a good challenge in the World of Warcraft. Pushing my own skills to the very edge to achieve some crazy goal, now that’s one of the most exciting parts of the game for me! However, not even I was prepared for the Mage Tower Artifact Challenge.

The Mage Tower Artifact Challenge is actually a collection of solo trials with different versions for different specs. There’s about five different DPS only challenges (including one for Disc Priests) and then a tank and a healer one. The trials vary in difficulty, with the general consensus being that the tank and healer ones are perhaps a touch more challenging. However, each trial is a beast in it’s own right.

Despite being released when the Broken Shores dropped last patch, the Mage Tower Artifact Challenges were in fact tuned for gear from Tomb of Sargeras. That’s right, these trials were made with the assumption that you were wearing gear that wasn’t even in the game yet. Talk about a rough ride!

Rather than take that as a hint to wait until Tomb of Sargeras, myself and a number of other crazy individuals decided to give it a shot. And then another. And then another. For as long as the Mage Tower Building was up in the Broken Shores, myself and a host of other players would spam the challenge in a dogged attempt to beat the challenge. Then, when the Mage Tower was down, we’d all farm Nethershards to pay for the 100 Shard cost per attempt.

The challenge was completable, the handful of successful YouTube video tutorials could attest to it. However, it required either an insanely high level of gear or a lot of RNG luck. And of course, a deep knowledge of one’s class. At first, the only holy paladins I knew who’d successfully completed the challenge were all mythic raiders geared to the nines. We’re talking 910+ ilvled gear, kited out with the best. And then there was me, barely 890 with just two legendaries.

But when has being underprepared ever stopped a determined paladin?

In this case, it almost did. Only after about 10 item levels of gear improvement, over a dozen new traits, and a hundred attempts, was success within my grasp. But then, one fateful Sunday, on my very last attempt for the day, the stars aligned and I, Fussypants, holy paladin extraordinaire, completed the trial. And there was much rejoicing.

How exactly did I do it? And can you, intrepid reader, do it too? Let’s find out, after the cut!

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Au revoir, Overflowing

Huge shout-out to Vall, who went out and got this screenshot for me

Ding dong, the witch is dead! And by witch I mean Overflowing affix for Mythic+ dungeons.  And by dead I mean being removed with patch 7.2.  Hooray!
For those who don’t know, Overflowing was the one healer specific affixes for Mythic+ dungeons.  Well, at least, it was supposed to be healer specific.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the affix, it ended up only really applying to certain types of healers.

The tooltip for Overflowing reads: “Healing in excess of a target’s maximum health is instead converted to a heal absorption effect”.  Jargon aside, that basically means that any overhealing done turns into this really awful shield that absorbs the next couple of heals.  And additionally, that really awful shield doesn’t just absorb the amount of heals that went over, it absorbs 300% of the amount of overhealing.  So let’s say you accidentally overheal your tank by 300,000.  Because of Overflowing, you now have to heal through an absorption effect of 900,000 health points before your healing abilities start actually healing the tank.

The solution seems quaintly simple: don’t overheal! And while the goal of all healers everywhere is to avoid as much overhealing as possible, because of the nature of some healers’ tool kits, that goal not always successful.  Especially if, say for example, the healer stacks crit as their main secondary stat.

Let’s take my Holy paladin for example.  The stat priorities for holy paladins place crit as our number one secondary, as has been the case for quite some time.  And consequently, I’ve been doing just that; right now, I’m sitting at about 38% Critical Strike Chance. However, holy paladins also can get extra crit from multiple other sources.  These range from the 20-45% crit increase during Avenging Wrath (our main healing throughput cooldown), an additional 50% crit chance increase for Holy Shock (our primary healing ability), and a few other specific ability crit increases in our artifact talents.  Long story short, holy paladins have a lot of crit.

This huge amount of crit makes a lot of sense for our healing style.  Holy paladins, in this expansion especially, are the masters of large single target heals.  We have one area of effect heal and no heals over time to speak of, but we can single target spam like a beastie.  However, because we are experts at big, single target heals, we often overheal by a large amount on that one single target.  Especially when combined with our crit, it is not untoured for me to crit heals of 2-3 million health.  And when I’m only trying to heal someone for 1-2 million, that extra chunk of healing all becomes overhealing.

Usually, this isn’t a huge deal.  But now, enter Overflowing.

Let’s take that same scenario where I’ve healed for 2 million but only needed to heal up 1.5 million.  I’ve just done 500,00 overhealing, which translates to a 1.5 million absorption shield.  Wonderful. I’ll need to heal through that shield in order to be able to start healing my target again but if they haven’t taken damage, I run the risk of criting again and creating yet another shield.  Not a great position to be in.  I either have to throw some small, lower crit chance heals on to try to get rid of the shield or just hope that, when they do take damage, it won’t immediately drop them to 10%. And seeing as how Mythic+ dungeons are considered the ‘raiding experience’ of five mans, the damage can get rather spiky.

Or, let’s say they are taking damage and now I need to get through that shield as fast as possible to heal them up.  But I can’t heal them up too quickly because I could break through the shield, crit and overheal, and have to begin the process all over again.  It’s a constant battle with RNG.

So to avoid creating that terrible shield, I won’t heal the tank until they drop below 70%.  I won’t even apply big healing abilities until they hit 50%.  And I’ll have to pray that the damage is smooth enough that they don’t drop from 60% to 5% in the space of a few seconds.

I do proclaim! that Overflowing is the worst affix ever!

It’s an incredibly nerve wracking experience.  And especially when you start getting up to the higher level of Mythic+s, it starts becoming untenable.  I have to keep a super close eye on health bars and shields and which heals I press, along with dealing with all the other mechanics of the fight.  I’m generally a pretty competent healer but this was getting to be unfun.

Now this affix wouldn’t be ‘the witch’ if it had applied equally to all healers.  The problem was, it didn’t.  Holy paladins and holy priests dreaded Overflowing with all their being.  Resto shaman and resto druids especially loved this affix like a dear friend.  Because for them, it was like the affix didn’t even exist.

I’ve talked to a few of my resto druid friends about this (mainly to complain about how awful Overflowing is for holy paladins) but their general experience with the affix was that they’d never had an issue with it.  Because the majority of a restoration druid’s overhealing comes from the little ticks of HoTs, the shields they were getting were tiny by comparison. And those little baby shields were really quickly healed through by the continuing HoT ticks.

Talk about unbalanced.  While some healers would be working their butts off to deal with the affix, others didn’t even notice if it existed or not.  As a result, certain healing classes stopped being brought to those higher level Mythic+s.  Even in my own guild, while I knew it had nothing to do with me as a person, I stopped being asked to run mythic dungeons because I just couldn’t keep up.  And there was no comparative affix that was difficult for those other healers.

Luckily for myself and the other holy paladins and priests of the world, Overflowing is set to be removed in the coming patch. In it’s place is an affix called Grievous, with a description that reads “While below 90% health, players are afflicted with Grievous Wound”.  Obviously, I’m going to reserve final judgement until I actually get to experience the affix firsthand (after all, I did think that Overflowing could be fun at first, what a naive fool I was then). But for now, my holy paladin is satisfied.  Avoiding overhealing is a fun exercise in theory, but in practice, it ended up being a lot more stressful and uncontrollable than I ever could have expected. Can’t wait for 7.2!

Returning to Raiding

Our first N Gul'dan kill!

Our first Normal Gul’dan kill!

Last Wednesday, I ended an almost 2 month long hiatus and entered my first raid.  While it certainly wasn’t the triumphant return I had hoped for, I am glad that I chose to jump back in.

Nearing the end of November and beginning of December, I made the difficult decision to stop raiding.  Anyone who’s read this blog or knows me in Azeroth has probably figured out that raiding is my favorite WoW activity.  I like dungeons and I like transmog, but I really love raiding.  But back two months ago, my most favorite activity was rapidly become my least favorite and so I decided it was best to (potentially permanently) step away.

The first reason for this came down to something as simple as timing.  I was just so gosh darn busy that I could only make it to a handful of raids.  In some situations, this might not have been the end of the world but in this case, I found that I was actively gimping the team.  We were progressing through Heroic, maybe looking into venturing into Mythic, and I was one of the core healers.  Me being gone or late every other night was severely impacting progression.  So as much as I might have loved raiding with the team, the reality was, I was bad for the team.

The second reason was a lot more personal.  I’m not going to go into the details for the sake of those involved, but I did not feel welcome at raid.  Beginning even before my attendance started dropping off (so the issue wasn’t created by it), I truly felt as if some members of the team, mainly one person, just did not want me around.  I made a few attempts to talk to the person but it wasn’t getting anywhere.  Slowly but surely, the sense of vague animosity changed raiding from something I loved into something I dreaded.  So once my attendance got spotty, it was a lot simpler to say goodbye to raiding because the experience was already soured.

So there I was.  Maining a holy paladin and yet, not healing a thing.  As my hiatus dragged on, I found myself playing less and less Warcraft.  Not because of lack of time, but rather due to lack of interest.  And what’s worse, the friends I had made on my former raid team began to drift away.  I was still in the guild and still relatively active but because I wasn’t raiding anymore, I was no longer people’s first choice to talk to.  To be clear, I was never ignored or shunted.  I doubt anyone did it purposefully; it’s just when you don’t hang out with someone on a bi-weekly occasion anymore, they can slip out of sight, out of mind.  I don’t blame anyone one bit, but I was feeling incredibly lonely.

This dragged on and on.  It got to the point where I was logging in maybe twice a week, and only for a few hours at most.  Eventually, I sat back and took a good long look at the way things were.  Evaluated the problem and evaluated my part in it.  My schedule had pretty much cleared out at this point, so the only thing keeping me from re-engaging with my guild was my own reservations.  And instead of tackling the issue head on, I had decided to run away from it.

I decided then and there that enough was enough.  I loved raiding, it was my thing! And taking a break from it, while it had been necessary at the time, was not something I needed to do permanently.

And there was never a better time than right now to jump back in.  I started logging in again, gearing back up.  There was most undoubtedly a few bumps in the road but eventually I mustered the courage to approach the raid leader about the issue head on.  And then, I was back on the team, just in time for Nighthold.

The animosity from before was still there, but the guilt about bringing my team down was gone.  I had checked my schedule and found it surprisingly clear for months to come, meaning that attendance would not be an issue.  What’s more, my healing was better than it had ever been.  And, the majority of the team was super friendly in welcoming me back.

Still, I needed to talk to the person.  I delayed it for a few nights, thinking that maybe I was just being irrational and I should let it go.  But as one of my friends astutely pointed out, if it bothers me, it’s a legitimate problem.  And if it’s a legitimate problem, it’s going to need to be addressed.

Finally, I sat down and had the talk that had been months in the coming. I’m not sure how it impacted them (I hope positively as well) but I know it really, really helped me.  By no means is everything solved but I’ve taken a step in the right direction.  After nearly three months, I’m finally back home.

I had no idea how much of an impact raiding had on my life.  It’s kind of a silly thing to admit, “yeah, playing World of Warcraft every Wednesday and Saturday really helps me get through the week, y’know?”.  But it is honestly, so very true.  Raiding is my zen place.  Never do I feel more relaxed, more engaged, and more focused than when I am raiding. I truly do look forward to that two hour block at the end of the night.  And what’s more, I absolutely love my raid team.  I’ve come to realize that they are my family.  We may not always agree but at the end of the day, we’re all in it for each other.

And I’ll be all in it for them.

Triumphant Return!

halls-of-valorLong  time no see! No, I haven’t died or been forced to run from the authorities, there’s just been a perfect storm of events that’s kept me from blogging (and playing Warcraft too!).  First it was an uptick of school and other work but the bigger interruption came about a week and a half ago when my computer’s copy of WoW kept encountering a fatal error upon launch.  I spent almost every bit of free-time I had for the past week trying to troubleshoot the issue- I rolled back Windows updates, deleted my cache and WTF folders more time than I care to count, scanned for memory issues, even reinstalled the entire game!  In the end though, it was futzing around with the drivers that ultimately solved the issue and as of Thursday I have been able to play again!

Since getting access to WoW again, I’ve been trying to cover a lot of lost ground.  I recently hit 110 (making me the very last person to do so) and have been plugging away at the very first 110 quests. Friday night I entered my very first dungeons of the expansion with some of my awesome guildies, which is what I want to talk about today!

My wonderful guildie Vin offered to bring me through some dungeons once I hit max level and true to his word, he invited my sorely undergeared butt for some runs. I may have only been ilvl 784 but Vin, Lore, Who, and Romanova were determined to bring (read: carry) me through.

Despite me never having seen the dungeon before, we jumped right into Heroic Eye of Azshara.  One of the very first things I noticed was that, even despite how undergeared I was, my healing spells were healed for an overall smaller percentage of health.  It seems we are back to a more triage form of healing yet again, which could be interesting, provided the damage isn’t too spiky.  The second thing I noticed after that was just how overgeared my guildies were for the dungeon.  Even though it was far higher than I should have been in, my guildies had me covered.

Eye of Azshara is a very interesting dungeon.  It’s probably one of the most open floorplanned dungeons I have ever been in, allowing the players to pick which bosses they want to defeat when.  And even though I spent most of the boss fights dead on the floor, the fights themselves seemed to be the typical run of the mill dungeon encounters, with one or two interesting mechanics thrown in there for good measure.  I particularly enjoyed the ramp up of the weather in the zone after each boss kill; it really added to the overall atmosphere.

Also, this is the part where I mention seagulls being the spawn of Sargeras.

After Eye of Azshara was finished, we then moved to the Halls of Valor.  First things first, this zone was gorgeous. I got a strong Diablo vibe from the floating structures and the gold and red but dang, was this place just beautiful!  I also really dug the Norse myth tie-in, the Hearth of Revelry and the Fields of the Eternal Hunt in particular.

It did seem a little odd to me that Eyir was mad at us as alliance players, seeing as how we did rescue her from Sylvannas.  Maybe she just lumps all mortals in together?  Regardless, I’m glad we did not kill her champion, or really anyone in the Halls, we just beat them unconscious (out of context this sounds really bad). We’re getting better at not destroying everything!

Oh and the rainbow bridge! The first time I went up it, my guildie Lore told me to look backwards at the beautiful stain glass windows behind us.  So, of course, I swiveled my camera around to take a look.  And then, promptly fell off the edge of the bridge and plummeted to my death.  Yeah, I won’t be hearing the end of that soon.  My second try was much more successful and we finished the rest of the dungeon without a hitch!

While I’ve only done two of the (how many? eight?) new Legion dungeons so far, I am already impressed! The zones were thematic and atmospheric, the dungeons themselves very different from each other, and the boss fights entertaining!  I am excited to try out the rest and maybe venture into a mythic or two!  While I might be super far behind, Legion has been a blast so far!

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!

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! 😛