Posted in World of Warcraft

A Tale of Two Dungeons: Part 1

As you know I’m a super cool and rock hard level 85 now and doing Heroics (struts stuff around keyboard).

Ok …that was totally for show – I might be doing them but as you’d expect I’m working myself up into a nervous frenzy before, throughout and after. I thought as range DPS I could just stand at the back and basically hit whatever the tank was hitting. It’s certainly what I’ve been doing up until now (although occasionally saving groups from wipes by some pretty dexterous blinking). However, Cataclysm heroics are a whole different ballgame.

It started with an embarrassing fail in Grim Batol heroic. I started halfway through just before the second boss which I somehow managed to survive  but then we faced Drahga and it all went wrong. I remembered from the ordinary version you had to kill the fire elemental thingies  but what I’d not realised was that there was this almighty flame breath thing from the dragon that try as I might I seemed to run into  (I was almost bathing myself in the stuff). And I have the Deadly Boss Mod so there really is no excuse. So I died.  Everyone must have (it’s a blur now)  because I had  to run back in. But I  got totally lost on my way back and nearly ran into a pack of mobs. Oh dear I thought. I need to go another way. I considered for half a second and then spied what looked like a molten lava river below the bridge. I flicked the map open and assessed the situation and then did the only sensible thing you can do in these circumstances. I hurled myself off the bridge into the  molten lava. Do not ask me why. I had a vague thought I could take a short cut through the lava….. Yes this is why husband and I no longer go on  walks together.

As you’d expect I died again. So I then did what all dignified people do at this point- I left group without saying a word. I was totally embarrassed. I sat in the corner licking my wounds for a bit until husband told me to stop as it was putting him off his tea.

“I’m going to read all the strats online & not go in again until I absolutely know what I need to do in every single Cataclysm heroic,” I announced. Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile will recognise these as classic Bravetank words – said after every failed embarrassing dungeon run. But I indeed started reading up on  Grim Batol. But all the reading did was make me more scared at how complicated it was. Groups will wipe if they don’t do blah blah. Remember to do blah blah. Ignore blah blah at your peril.  Oh my  goodness – instance strats are totally boring and complicated to read.

Ok another approach is needed I told myself. You will learn this by going in again and again, learning through your mistakes. Getting better by doing. It was a bit like Robert the Bruce and the spider – although to be honest if I had been in  Robert’s position and in a dark and dingy cave and  suddenly spotted a spider anywhere near me the English would have heard my screams from miles off and promptly come and killed me. So lucky for Scotland I wasn’t there then (thank me later Scotland – a free holiday in Edinburgh will do).

But of course in real life trying and failing and then trying again and succeeding is great.  Doing this in a dungeon is another thing. I mean you try and fail in real life and what happens … Well ok as a surgeon pretty bad stuff I expect. Ok what about a  hairdresser? Well yes that could get nasty too I bet. Ok as a teacher- well it’s only the entire next generation in your hands….

Ok I admit trying and failing in real life is pretty serious too. But in  Heroics it’s worse- I mean they call you noob and stuff.

But even as I ruminated on the issue I knew it was the only way – I had to get in there. Plus my  addiction to valor points needed feeding.  Since I’ve been able to shop at JP and VP quartermasters I have been unstoppable. Even though my JP firehawk set is annoying because I now have a renegade mirror image who appears when I don’t want her to appear and pulls stuff I’m scared of  I do love the gear. So I have to run Heroic  dungeons & I have to run randoms.

So with this in  mind I queued up again yesterday and to my “joy” (i.e. total dismay) I got Grim Batol again. But this time from the start.

I steeled myself. I could do it. The first trash mobs were easy & I found myself somewhat relaxing (by which I mean I unclenched my teeth by a millimetre and finally exhaled). We then had to jump on the dragons. First problem. It was telling me to free them from the net first. That wasn’t in the normal. Anything that takes me by surprise in an instance removes my  ability to think or move my character. This doesn’t make for great gaming skills. I sat there for a second and then attacked the net- feebly- with my staff  as a bludgeon. It didn’t work. I’ll have to use arcane barrage  I thought, but the logics of this bothered me. How could I arcane barrage the net without killing the dragon?  This would defeat the whole purpose surely. By now of course everyone else  was  flying & merrily bombing away- I was calculating the angle of my barrage. Finally  common sense took hold of me. I remembered how WoW actually worked  & shot the net. The dragon  survived (it’s a miracle!)  & I jumped on its back for the  bombing mission.

Once that was over (not sure how effective  I  was – I missed loads because I had my camera angle turned wrong) I landed back with the group. In  fairness they didn’t berate me for the length of time it had taken me to badly complete a relatively simple task and on we pressed.

The first boss as you know is General Umbriss. As we approached that area one of the group said, “Mage sheep the purple thing.'” I immediately froze. What bloody purple thing? I got ready to look up “purple thing Grim Batol” on the internet but there was no time. I searched around the dungeon panic stricken- shit I needed to sheep something. I didn’t know what, I couldn’t see it. I randomly targeted something that looked vaguely purple but luckily I hit my mouse wrong  (all fingers and thumbs by this stage). We hadn’t actually even started on the boss yet. There was no purple thing. Eventually I came to my senses and  typed  “What purple thing?” “The one that comes with the boss,” was the answer. Hmm. Ok. Still didn’t really know but I decided the only thing for it was to attack the boss with the others but keep my eyes peeled for anything purple. So we started on the boss and  I kept looking when suddenly lo and behold a purple trogg appeared. I have never been so happy to see a big purple thing in my life  (insert own lewd joke  if you like). I immediately sheeped it. I felt so proud. I had been given an instruction and had carried it out unquestioningly.  Never had I been so happy to act like a mindless drone.

The second boss was fine. I even avoided the cave ins. Amazing.

The third boss got me scared. This was the one I’d died on. But I remembered the adds. I remembered the flames. I remembered to blink into and past the flames. And amazingly I did not die. YES!! I yelled at my monitor – adrenaline now really  pumping. Was this Heroic actually doable?

We progressed onto the last boss. Slow down the add on the left I was told. Oh God it was purple thing type instruction all over again. What left? Whose left. What is this thing you call left? But eventually I saw the adds emerge and I slowed one on his way to the eggs. BUT THAT’S ALL I DID. I didn’t realise it was slow then kill. I just thought I had to cause him some inconvenient mobility difficulties. I then stood in the wrong place during shadow gale & died. The thing ended as a wipe.

To be fair though they all just patiently regrouped. I ran in and again almost got lost. It suddenly occurred to me though that they were already at the boss. How could this be? I was running past the dragons at this point. I noticed I could jump on them. I started to put 2 and 2 together (chimps would have picked this up quicker than me). Still not trusting my Columbo like deductive powers  I asked the group, “How do I get to you?” “Use the dragon and jog a bit,” they said. So I did and I got there. After that the tank gave us clear  instructions. Me & a pally DPS were to slow AND kill  leftie add and the other DPS was to do the other. Made sense to me & so we did it. I also stood in the right place during shadow gale (basically threw myself at the group figuring that wherever they were standing was ok- I was too stressed to be able to identify the safe spot myself) & we downed him!!!! Grim Batol Heroic was complete!

I was over the moon. I thanked them profusely for their patience and they were lovely in return. It was a really good experience looking back but absolutely terrifying throughout. Bit like life  🙂

Posted in World of Warcraft

Rokk’s Little Game

I hate Rokk. I hate him with a passion. I’m also starting to hate Katherine Lee but I’ve got lower expectations of her anyway (she’s obviously got a ridiculous amount of northern spices she needs to get rid of).

Any of you who chase Profession achievements and Titles will know why I feel this way. I never knew Chocolate Cake could cause me such pain – well yes I admit weighing scales pain yes, and “oh my god this dress looked ok last week” pain yes, but not WoW pain. Never WoW pain. And I think Rokk is doing it on purpose. There’s definitely a smirkiness there. He knows what I’m after. He knows what makes me come crawling to him every day. What do you want me to do Rokk? Make some Mok’Nathal Ribs and Crunchy Serpent stuff and cook it over the corpse of an Abyssal Flame Bringer? Jeez what kind of sicko are you Rokk? No no just kidding yes of course I’ll do it. Oh what are you giving me for this abhorrent act?  Barrel of fish or crate of meat. Hmm I think I’ll go for the meat (drop rate for recipe 2% according to my rather extensive research). What have I got… oh 😦   Raptor Ribs (bet the smell in that sealed crate was delightful) & a big old chunk o’ basilisk (so faux olde world  it has to have an apostrophe rather than an F – sort of thing you’d see in one of Gordon Ramsay’s Gastropubs). Oh Rokk I think you overlooked something…dessert..maybe…something chocolately perhaps? No not today is it? Ok I’ll be back tomorrow Rokk, and the day after Rokk, and the day after that ROKK like the pathetic Chef wannabe I am. Aaaagh.

Any tips anyone? Is there anyway to get this bloody recipe to drop or at the very least aggro Rokk, kill him & ransack his broken and bloody corpse? He ‘s got it on him somewhere I know. I’ve been doing the Outland and Northrend cooking dailies for so long. I read the forums and draw little comfort from the despair I see out there in my fellow title hunters. I agree with those who are saying a title shouldn’t be this reliant on luck, there should be something built in to recognise all the hard work you’re doing. Otherwise it’s basically telling us the universe is random, chaotic and often unfair. And hard work will not necessarily get you anywhere. But I KNOW this! I see this daily! Do I  really need it from the game’s own “Achievement” system as well?? When did WoW get so bleak?

Other more positive observations – aww isn’t the love between Aggra & Thrall a beautiful thing? I did the 85 Thrall quest line to get my snazzy cloak and really loved their scenes. First time in ages I properly paid attention to all the stuff that was being said  (I hung on every word anyone said between levels 1-5 of course, but then I got cocky). And during the scene at the end I ran up to Jaina to see if there was sadness on her face – and indeed there was. Oh maybe she was just irritated by the fact some random weird mage  in a fishing hat was standing an inch from her nose looking  right into her eyes and saying “Ahh there there, don’t cry.”

Had my faith in humanity again destroyed at the end of the quest line though. During the run up I noticed a horde player also doing the quest line. We left each other alone, concentrated on our tasks and, I thought, developed a mutual grudging respect. Plus we were helping Thrall- Alliance and Horde lines were irrelevant right? No. At the very end- after the cut scene – I gave him a little wave. I meant to communicate much in that wave. I respect you. We did it. We have helped Azeroth. You – YOU- are my brother. I..I…love you…. That sort of thing. However, he appears to have misinterpreted my wave because he promptly came over and killed me. I was so stunned I didn’t even fight back (I like to think that it was my sense of loyalty that prevented me from casting even one spell but to be honest the real reason was that  I was just sat there pointing at the screen and  shouting to my husband to come and see what was happening). Total betrayal of the highest order. Never realised a wave could be so dangerous and provocative.

Finally I already have ilevel gear over 329 so can technically go in Heroics, but my DPS is only around 8.5K so I’m going to try and get a little higher first before I venture in. I want to be doing over 10K. I think that’s the expectation isn’t it? But I did just complete  my first raid – Black Temple admittedly!!!! It was fun and I nearly got an extremely cool looking cowl for transmogrifying but just missed out.

And one final last  weird observation – I’ve had two in-game declarations of love from two different people! What do you say to that apart from “Umm Thanks”? Or maybe I should go all Hans Solo and just say,  “I know.” Actually I’d have throttled him if I was Leia and that was his response to my declaration of love.  He wouldn’t have said that again.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Better late than never

She did it! Thought I’d do it on Sunday – finally did it Tuesday – but it’s done. Seashell is 85!

And here she is when it happened:

First ever 85!! At long last. Feel slightly guilty it wasn’t Terema (just a smidgen off 85) or Bravetank, (in her 60s) but really just pleased to have done it. She’s also got to 525 in Fishing, Cooking & Skinning but Tailoring is stuck at 491 and slowly bankrupting me!!

Anyway happy moment:)

Posted in World of Warcraft

Easy Peasy

Why are people so mean? And so critical. Yes it’s one of those blog posts again so yes I’ve had a bad dungeon experience – this time as DPS – and this time for being top of the DPS meter. The problem is I’m arcane and that is too easy according to one particular group (just the healer & a rogue DPS to be honest- the others were quiet). The rogue said I could just bind arcane blast to my keyboard, hit it with my head and still come out on top.

This annoys me for two reasons. Firstly it was totally unprovoked. I was not talking about being top of the dps meter – I was just quietly getting on with the dungeon. Secondly – while I agree that arcane is the easiest I’ve ever played  I do not let that make me complacent. I researched how to do the two stage mana burn/mana conservation thingimijig (technical term). I make sure I use the mana gems & evocation at the right time (when I have no mana – ok ok it’s not rocket science I admit). I keep presence of mind & arcane power up (yes I have an add on to help me- but there’s no shame in that is there?). I use flame orb at the start & mirror image on bosses or tricky fights (particularly if the tank has just died – my mirror image girls have saved a few groups that way ). Basically MaxDPS says what to do & I do it. And that is why I often top the dps meter. But not always. Sometimes better geared/higher level players out dps me. Sometimes if there’s a lot of groups of trash I use blizzard which I don’t think is as effective in terms of my dps but I like the feeling of hitting so many mobs once and seeing all the numbers flash up. I use polymorph when needed & decurse people always. I know that my worth in a group is not just dps output- I need to not stand in crap, use all my abilities, be a team player. And still I was criticised. Just by one group out of something like a 100 I know but in my mind it’s only the criticisms that count. And I’d given that healer 20 mana strudels too. Wish I’d pushed them in her face now (oooh I’m cross).

All people do is criticise.  When I was a Ret Paladin I  was criticised for being too low on the dps (it was Throne of Tides and I didn’t realise Ozumat was above us so at that part of the dungeon I didn’t know what to hit- this did not help my dps at all – but of course no one explained). When I was elemental shaman I was told quite aggressively  what rotation to use and when I was a tank I was told, “I’ve never seen a tank as slow as that” (one of my earliest blog posts in fact – can’t reread for fear of reawakening the pain). Yet in each of these dungeons I know I also did things right. In fact most of the things I did were right I’m sure – as was most of what everyone else did. It’s not that hard. We’re not doing brain surgery here.  But no one ever comments on what’s right. We don’t even get as far as a praise sandwich to at least temper the criticism. It is just pure unrelenting negativity … or nothing at all.

In response to the criticism I just said, “Yes it’s great :D”. I know, I know –  as witty comebacks go it wasn’t particularly devastating but I didn’t want to be drawn into an argument because unlike them I find it hard to type & play at the same time (even though I am playing the easiest role of all and apparently could just be head butting my keyboard). And if I’m honest in some ways I find arcane no easier than tanking – as Bravetank there is a certain basic  rotation which you need to know & then there’s the situational awareness for when things you weren’t prepared for happen. You need both to be a good player in WoW and I find that I am developing both in all the roles  I play.

Anyway enough griping. There is some positive news. Having done 5 of the Cataclysm dungeons I can say I wouldn’t particularly fear tanking them now. Levelling Seashell through them has been good for that. It’s got me familiar with the bosses and so taken away some of the trepidation I was feeling. So I will be going back to some tanking shortly.

But not quite yet because today looks to be the day Seashell will hit 85!! She will be my first ever 85 character. She’s also 525 in cooking & skinning & might well end up being 525 in fishing & tailoring later today too (I have my Sunday planned out). Only archaeology has let me down. She is the most fully rounded character I’ve ever developed in WoW and I’m very proud of her (but still feel a bit silly for saying that). And so what if  arcane is easy – she does a good job of it & enjoys it – isn’t that what this game is for?

Posted in World of Warcraft

Hacked Off

Well what a week of WoW highs and lows. Firstly the highs (don’t want to depress you in the first paragraph). Seashell hit 80 yesterday!!! I’m over the moon. She is now my second highest character and will, I hope, hit 85 before Terema – my oldest  character who is still 84 and  somewhere in Uldum (last seen flirting shamelessly with Harrison Jones).

To get to 80 I had to endure the weirdest dungeon I’ve so far encountered- The Oculus. I went in there blind (is there a clever “eye” pun there?).  I had no idea that drake bit was going to happen. When I was told  I had to pick a colour I assumed you had to go for your favourite colour so I walked around a bit, weighing up the options, wondering which went best with my dress – that sort of thing. Think I ended up on what turned out to be the healer drake. By then as you’d expect everyone had gone. To be honest no one in this group knew how to do the dungeon so I think everyone flew off in different areas and started one on one battles with enemy drakes. That never ends well. I flew right to the top, got totally confused, flew back down again, got attacked, died. Rinse and repeat. Several times. In the end I quit swearing to the heavens I’d never go in there again.

Until the next day- after crazily opting for randoms since I wanted my 12JPs (12!! No Blizzard it’s too much – you are overwhelming me with your generosity) I was in there again. This time – dignity out the window – I decided to throw myself at the mercy of the group and pretty much begged for help the moment I arrived.

“It’s easy,” said one of them, but put a little 😛 after it to show they meant well. Luckily the tank had also never done it so the two other dps & healer gently took us through it, explaining everything patiently (“Now those ahead of us are enemies….repeat after me EN…EM…EEEES, we don’t like them so hit a button…no not that one …you’re now fishing) , including the fight at the end where my AMBER drake  (yes I found out as dps I needed an amber one regardless of what colour dress I was in) came into his own. And we did  it – I achieved Northrend dungeoneer (I hadn’t realised it was the only dungeon I had left  for that) & soon after level 80!!! What a great night.

And so so different from two nights earlier when I was hacked 😦 I couldn’t believe it. One minute I was in a dungeon merrily  spamming arcane blast , the next I had been throw off WoW. I tried to get back in but it wouldn’t accept my password. Then my husband – like the host in a Miss World contest …started announcing each of my characters in turn as they  logged in and out and showed up in his chat window – we are Real ID buddies (least I can do for my husband).  We felt so helpless (like an ardent feminist watching Miss World to keep the metaphor rolling)- knowing it was happening, watching it happen, but unable to do anything about it (apart from chucking a bra in the gas fire). I went on the Blizzard site and reported it while my husband sent a well meaning but ultimately ineffectual message to the hacker saying, “We know you have hacked this account.” Half hour or so later my password was changed & I was back in finding out what damage had been done. All my characters on that server (bar one who had less that 100 gold to her name so was clearly not worth the time of day…not good enough to be robbed …odd thing to be hurt about isn’t it?) were in  Stormwind bank. Nothing had been taken from their bank accounts though just their gold. So if I’m reconstructing events correctly (watched an old Columbo last week  so I know exactly how it’s done) someone would have been waiting in the bank for my hacked characters to hand over their gold. A slick  operation. Blizzard were fantastic though. I had all my gold back – and quickly too. I then promptly went and got myself an authenticator (yes yes I know – should have had one already) and now hopefully (touching every piece of wood I can) everything’s ok.

But I do have a little issue. I currently can’t get into Wrath heroics because my ilevel is 7 too low  & I can’t get into Cataclysm dungeons because it’s about 40 too low. This means I have to start questing in bloody Mt Hyjal- something I didn’t enjoy first time round as Terema who at least was a tough pally. I’m already finding it  difficult as a clothie fighting things that burst my ice quicker that I can cast it & blink faster than me.

But happy days anyway- I have my gold back & I’m 80 and I never have to do The Oculus again- oh wait- there’s an heroic version isn’t there…?

Posted in World of Warcraft

Holding Out For a Hero

For years I’ve read about WoW heroics with both a sense of fear and awe. I’ve read how high the standards and requirements are, how professional the conduct, how unforgiving the judgement. You do a fraction less than the dps expected and you are unceremoniously booted. I never thought I’d be good enough to go in an heroic. I never thought I’d be brave enough.

But the week before last Seashell hit 70 and began to do some Northrend dungeons. All fine – definitely more enjoyable as a Mage that can evocate as opposed to a Shaman that seems to expend mana just walking around (I’m looking at you Luxmi). And let’s not even talk about where Bravetank is on this journey. So Seashell the mage was having fun and performing well.

Then I noticed in my dungeon list that heroic Burning Crusade dungeons were available. I started looking through Atlas Loot at the type of stuff I could get, then went to the kitchen for a towel to wipe the drool off my keyboard. There is something about purple stuff isn’t there? I have had it so rarely in my colour deprived WoW life. I remember squealing over greens. I remember telling the neighbours about  blues. But purple – well it’s family celebration time. Even when the stats are lower than my current armor  – as is always the way.

“I really want to try an heroic,” I told my husband, “But I’m terrified.” Hard to type the scoffing sound that came next but suffice to say he immediately queued for an heroic – showing that he was the man of the house I think. Within seconds he was in the dungeon and I was sitting over by my computer feeling queasy with nerves for him.

“Oooh it’s got a little icon by my mini map,” he said (reading this over my shoulder by the way he denies the “Ooh” bit). He started fighting. “It’s ok,” he reported. “I think there’s more trash but no different apart from that. People are typing in complete sentences though which is odd.” Odd indeed. I have never come across proper sentences in a dungeon before. It’s usually a collection of cryptic letters that I have to figure out – not even sure I’ve got “nvm” right.

Anyway his first foray into heroics  continued. Nothing dramatic or untoward happened. He just treated it like a normal dungeon (which in his case is blizzarding everything in sight and staying behind to loot without a care in the world). He did not get booted, yelled at or spiritually condemned. At the end the final boss dropped 4 things, two of which were purple, none of which suited his class (so usual loot inspired tantrum which I ignored) but he’d done it.

“That’s not too bad,” I thought. “I can do that.” But as is my wont I wanted to do it better (wont and wanted in the same sentence – how’s that for a grammatical showdown?). So off I went to the auction house to buy the very small amount of enchants I can get that are useful and usable at my item level. I also made myself some buff food (I love cooking – makes me feel all Jeremiah Johnson – but without the brutal family massacre). “I will be awesome,”  was my basic philosophy. “They will see that I have made the effort, that I’ve gemmed (actually nothing I was wearing could be gemmed but I’d at least checked), enchanted and buffed. I wanted to be the perfect Heroic WoW participant.

So I queued and after a few minutes I was in. “Here goes,” I thought, “This is where I play with the big boys.” (That sounds quite rude doesn’t it? Sorry) After only a few moments one of the dps shockingly announced he was stoned. “Oh my goodness,” I thought. “He will be booted. Heroics don’t condone such laxity.” But no. The tank just replied, “Fair enough.” Fair enough? I looked at my depleted gold balance – I’d spent a fortune in the AH getting ready for this- and started to feel a bit queasy again. We carried on fighting. I checked Recount and I was second. That surprised me. Before going in I had been scared I wouldn’t hit the right dps. I’d  tried researching to see what that should be in level 70 Heroics but hadn’t found the magic number. But my fear that I was well below it appeared unfounded. Then suddenly I noticed a bunch of mobs running towards me. That’s usually the sign the tank is dead. And indeed that was the case. I blinked around the place a bit and somehow managed to stay alive. With the mobs dead the healer started ressing the tank, saying, “Sorry I was trying the new belt on.” Again I couldn’t believe it. I always wait until a really quiet moment or when I’ve left the dungeon to put new gear on. But the tank just did a smiley & all was forgiven. This was so not what I was expecting.

And so it continued. It was all very laid back. Mistakes were made but no one freaked out. It was far from the pro – cutting edge – no mistakes tolerated  Heroic I’d been expecting.

And this turns out not to be an exception. I’ve done about half the Burning Crusade heroics now and pretty much without fail I have seen worse performance than in normal, but greater tolerance of it. What is that all about? Have I misunderstood heroics, or is the standard and performance I was expecting only now to be found in end game heroics? At the very least my fear has been put to bed  – I  can go in them, perform at the required level and get my hands on lots of lovely purples much to my family’s great pride. It’s just so not what I was expecting!