Posted in World of Warcraft

It’s Getting Worse: A Tale of Two Dungeons Part 2

I wanted so much to be coming on here today to write about how things had improved for me in heroics (or HCs as I now professionally  call them). And I have had some small successes, i.e. did 6/7 of my VP runs this week, avoided pistol barrage by hiding at the top of the stairs, finally sussed out the ropes at the end of Deadmines etc. But all that is pretty irrelevant because I have a more fundamental problem – I still cannot  find my way back into dungeons after I’ve died. What was previously a slightly funny and occasional mishap is fast becoming a recurring nightmare. I get lost so easily.

It’s always been a bit of a joke between me and my husband about how bad my geography and spatial awareness is. I’ve asked him some odd geography questions in the past – a classic which he will never let me forget is, “How far away from Holland are the Netherlands?” And he loves to play the “If you were driving to town from here which way would you go?” game with me because he knows I would go via some ridiculous convoluted route (Scotland or Iceland or something).

And my  spatial awareness …well … it leaves a lot to be desired. In my head for e.g.  north is whichever direction I’m facing. This made for fun times when husband & I were  out geocaching (on a positive note it allowed us to discover some lovely rural communities of the sort made famous in Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Hollywood on our doorstep). I was lying in bed the other night half asleep when I realised I was visualising our bathroom  in the wrong place (why I was visualising any bathroom is a question for another day). I  think in my head I forgot which house I lived in and started thinking about the layout of my old house. It all could have had most unfortunate consequences had I needed to get  out of bed and  go to the toilet.

What’s the reason for all this? Well my theory is that it’s because I’m a “head” person (my husband suggests I substitute mental case here for head person).  Outside of work I am always thinking of the past or future, but never really the present. And I’m always somewhere  else – never really “in” my practical physical surroundings. My mind is always off on some tangent –   is the universe just a projection of my mind & in which case why have I projected George Osborne,  what did happen to my dog Blackie & why won’t my parents tell me, did I really once ride a camel or was that a dream (still no idea on that –  I remember a hump but that might have been the old lady with the poor posture who lived up the road- in which case it was mean of me to climb on her back), what are the chances of an “immortality and constant youthfulness pill” by the time I’m 60,  will the “future me” do wonderful world-changing things or will I be old, childless and regretful. It’s a constant swirl of stuff. It goes on in my dreams – every night I enter a rather skewed version of this current world with characters, narrative and even plot twists. And all this makes me less connected to  stuff around me than I should be. And because I’m not as mindful as I should be I think I’m a bit of a floater in dungeons too. If everyone is around me I just go in their direction, trusting they are right. But once I’ve lost everyone it’s game over- I’m left alone somewhere wondering how I got there and not sure what to do next.

I get help in game with my  situation awareness with the GTFO add on – I hear noise and I move. It’s Pavlovian training at its best. But as you know from some of the Bravetank posts finding my way as a tank around dungeons was a constant source of stress to me. That’s why I was so over the moon when I discovered Maps for Tanks. But I now know we  need another type of Maps website – a Maps for Returning to Instances when you are Dead – subtitled  Keep Calm and Look for a Swirly Thing.

It’s awful. I am constantly lost trying to find my way back in. Today I had to leave a HC  because of trying four times to find the entrance to End Time in Caverns of Time. It was totally mortifying.  I found several other entrances to other instances (wonderful), but not the one I was dead in. The game bluntly told me “Your corpse is not in that instance” but did not offer me so much as a hint as to where it was. The map was no use. It made me run into a tree. And all the while the group was waiting for me. Tick tock. They were lovely but I was so embarrassed I had to leave.

Afterwards I went out into the garden to find husband and tell him. I was really upset. My husband thought something had happened to a member of the family. “No,” I told him, “I couldn’t find my way back into the dungeon.” He laughed and said “It’s only a game.”

Well yes it is and it isn’t. I hate sticking out so much as the incompetent one. I like to think I’m competent in my job. I try hard to be good at what I do. But I’m not good in these dungeons – in fact I’m nowhere in the vicinity of good – I can’t even find my way into these dungeons. I’m like the charity case brought along for the ride. And each time it happens my self esteem plummets just that bit more.

I read all your comments of course and they’re all so reassuring  but when I’m in the dungeon it only ever seems to be me that’s lost, me that they’re all waiting for, me that doesn’t know the tactics. And it’s not fun then. I love the game but sometimes I suspect it is a masochistic type of love – because actually playing it is so stressful.

So what should I do? Everytime I log on I think I will just get on with things like my dailies, farming rep, doing all the Cooking Achievements etc. (but aaargh chocolate cake recipe- still not dropped), or just quietly making embersilk bags to sell on the AH. But once I’m on I find myself hitting that bloody dungeon button after about 5 secs  – always hoping it will be ok. And sometimes it is. But not when I die and there’s no res incoming – that’s when it all turns bleak. Again a bit like life I guess 🙂

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

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

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!

Posted in World of Warcraft

Defying Gravity

My excitement knows no bounds. Not only have I had my swift lovebird (see last post) but I’ve also now got the companion Peddlefeet and a flying carpet.  And what’s more – I’ve finally plucked up the courage to make and WEAR the black mageweave set.

I think husband slightly disapproves of the outfit. I told him that she has a cool yellow cloak and he said, “No one will be looking at her cloak.” He then said he hoped I hadn’t spent too much on the cloth since there didn’t actually seem to be alot of material in the outfit. His attitude isn’t helped by the fact some young man (I think- but who knows in this game) was so enamoured by my name the other day that he told me he loved me and offered to get me lots of cloth for my tailoring. Husband thinks I’m attracting the wrong types. I think anything that speeds up my tailoring is worth considering.

Anyway in regard to the outfit – is there such a thing as dressing inappropriately in the game? Can you show too much thigh and buttock? I wrote about this over on the F Word site in the “You’ll Catch Your Death in That” article. I’m still battling with some of the same issues now as then.But I like the outfit so I’ve taken the plunge. She’s embracing her right to wear what she wants to wear – no matter how chilly it gets or how her thighs chafe.

In other Seashell news- she is nearly topping the dps charts in most dungeons apart from the one I ran around equipped with a fishing rod…! It’s so nice to be effortlessly powerful as opposed to all my other characters who are strenuously weak. Also everytime I put focus magic on someone I feel great and magnanimous – you’d swear I’d just done a five hour stint in a soup kitchen. “There you go- have some extra critical hit from me. No don’t thank me please. Oh you weren’t going to. What a surprise.”

To be fair I’ve actually had some good groups of late. There have been a few new tanks (Seashell is 63 so running with the Death Knight crew). The ones I’ve met have been quick to confess their inexperience and courteous to all. How long before the brutality of the dungeon world beats that out of them? One even fairly won a need roll then offered it up to the other person who’d lost saying “You need it more than me.” Amazing. I’ve stayed with a couple of groups for 2 or 3 dungeons which for me is a sign of commitment on a par with getting engaged.

Had an addon fest this morning. When I had to reinstall the game a few weeks back I lost my add ons and I hadn’t got round to re-downloading them until today. Went for Auctioneer, Tidy Plates, Decursive, Mage Nuggets (which makes me whisper something like, “Thank you for Innervating me” – which sounds slightly obscene I think), something on Achievements (the Overachiever?) which is helping me /love all the critters I need to, and Atlas Loot which I adore. It has made me very focussed in dungeons – since I actually know what items might drop I can “enjoy” that lovely tense moment just after the boss dies and we wait to see what’s dropped. Husband has been a tad shocked at the vulgarity of my language when something stupid in plate inevitably appears.

Fishing and cooking continue – I’m on a quest for Enormous Barbed Gill trout so if anyone knows the best spot for them let me know. Wowhead has sent me to all sorts of places but so far I’ve only caught one (and been killed several times – can’t believe fishing is so dangerous – I’m clearly doing it wrong). I’m getting all excited at what I’m hearing about Dalaran cooking and fishing dailies – is it really the promised land? I want to make Delicious Chocolate Cake. I can’t believe I’ve reached the dizzy heights of the 350s in all my professions (Archaeology doesn’t count of course  – it’s still on something like minus 7 ).

So it’s been a good couple of WoW days. I seem to be making real progress, actually enjoying the dungeons and meeting some really nice people who have been a pleasure to run with. Now who’d have ever thought I’d say something like that!!

Posted in World of Warcraft

The Righteous Fury Poltergeist

A while ago I posted about a dark day in my tanking life – actually they’re all pretty dark seeing as they’re all set in dungeons (boom boom- my jokes are reaching new heights I know – not good heights admittedly but new ones anyway). I had forgotten to put righteous fury on and was struggling to hold aggro. Oh how we laughed. After wiping. Several times. Now I check my aura, seal, kings and righteous fury every 2-3 minutes in the same way that at home I check the locks and that the plugs are switched off i.e. obsessively. Continue reading “The Righteous Fury Poltergeist”