So that’s three continents down, and one to go!
For Luzara, these must have been heartbreaking weeks. Draenor was, after all, the world on which she was born, the world that was a haven for her people after millennia of fleeing from the Burning Legion. Then the demons found it, and first corrupted the orcs into a race of literally blood-thirsty killers, then incited its literal destruction thanks to power unleashed by the greatest of their dark shaman/warlocks. The druids of the Earthen Ring and some others do what they can to protect what remains, but it’s not like anyone’s going to be reassembling the shattered planet anytime soon.
For now, though, Luzara can leave the reclamation, exploration, and revenge to others, and turn her attention to the continent of Northrend in the world of Azeroth, where it is not yet too late.
A few select moments of her recent adventures follow.
Doing some good with the Earthen Ring. Luzara went to the smoldering fields at the north end of Blade’s Edge Mountains, and planted some specially prepared seeds with remarkable results:
While in the area, she also helped the Sha’tari Skyguard keep up their stock of unique flying mounts:
She surveyed the wreckage that is Netherstorm:
And brought some comfort to some very domestic ghosts:
She revisited Tempest Keep that had been her people’s home for so long, and destroyed at least a few of the intruders now desecrating it:
In Shadowmoon Valley, where the warlord and fool Illidan rules his wretched empire, she got to speak directly to the elemental spirits of the region, and bring them some relief:
She confronted and triumphed over the strongest forces Illidan lets outside his Black Temple, right under his scrying gaze, and became known to him as a threat:
And now others will carry on the work of Shattrath City:
As for myself, I’ve really enjoyed finishing up quest chains I never did, seeing some of the champion fights I only ever heard and read about. Felt very good. I’m looking forward to rounding out the collecting of quests in the weeks to come.
In my quiet weeks, I did continue working away at this, and celebrated Christmas in part this way:
So that’s the Old World as it was known to us before Burning Crusade taken care of. Still to do, Outland and Northrend. Let’s see…
• Hellfire Peninsula. 80 quests. Complete.
• Zangarmarsh. 54 quests. Complete.
• Terokkar Forest. 63 quests. Complete.
• Nagrand. 75 quests. Complete.
• Blade’s Edge Mountains. 86 quests. 39 done.
• Netherstorm. 120 quests. 52 done.
• Shadowmoon Valley. 90 quests. 11 done.
• Borean Tundra. 130 quests. 17 done.
• Howling Fjord. 130 quests. 76 done.
• Dragonblight. 115 quests. 26 done.
• Grizzly Hills. 85 quests. 0 done.
• Zul’drak. 100 quests. 18 done.
• Sholazar Basin. 75 quests. 4 done.
• Storm Peaks. 100 quests. 57 done.
• Icecrown. 140 quests. 45 done.
The Northrend total makes me look like more of a slacker with Luzara than I’ve actually been. But quest tallies aren’t always accurately preserved during faction changes, and since she’s had two of them, that’s double the opportunity for data not to get converted properly. In any event, most of this won’t be a major hardship, and when I get to the point of needing help with the group quests in Icecrown, help will be available.
I haven’t any idea how long it will take to finish the newer continents. We’ll see, I guess!
Dear Mr. C:
I apologize for letting so long an interval go by without correspondence. However, I believe I’ve now arranged things with my various electric odalisques so as to make it easier to resume being in touch. While I prepare some annotations, though, I know just what you’ve been missing lately: pictures of giant skeletal heads, of course.
This particular member of that species is found in the Pit of Saron, the second of three 5-person instances added in the most recent patch. Yogg-Saron is one of the Old Gods, buried in the Titan stronghold of Ulduar; I personally haven’t yet gotten to contribute to his demise, but hope to in the new year. Saronite is the tainted magical ore named after him, an ore that the Lich King just loves to use in Scourge weaponry, armor, furniture, and no doubt many other interesting and unwholesome applications. I don’t think there’s an in-game explanation yet about what this thing is, but I love it.
I am, by the way, experimenting with handling my images a little differently. You should be able to click through and get to the Flickr pages for these, and see the full-size screenshots by clicking the All Sizes button. Please let me know how it works out for you. (Other readers who have the misfortune not to be Mr. C may also do so.)
I also have reason to believe you’re short on images of four-headed undead winged axe-wielding creatures. Here, therefore, are two images of Lord Marrowgar, the first of four bosses available to those of us venturing into the first open wing of Icecrown Citadel, the Lich King’s own stronghold and the subject of 10- and 25-person raids. More commentary on him coming soon.
Yours in Christmas undead cheer,
Looks to me like the consensus of friendly readers was “Do what you like.” I like having this blog, so I’ll keep it up.
In the long term, I see, my grand plans keep changing. So there’s little point in trying to shift around too much to accommodate schemes that may or may not pay off. I will update mastheads and such to suit what I’m doing now, and not worry about it. I figure that at some point the druid bug will strike again and then it really will be Cat Tales again, anyhow.
I’m posting this to Dreamwidth, Livejournal, and WordPress, to see what comments anyone might have.
When I started this round of WoW blogging, I had a goal and a method. The goals remains the same: be ready for the endgame stuff when it’s still live content this time. And I’ve gotten there. But along the way my methods have changed significantly several times, and the character that I’m actually taking into Icecrown Citadel instances and raids wasn’t even on my active-roster raider six months ago.
Is it worth overhauling the blog to reflect the changed situation as we dive into the patch 3.3 endgame? Should I start a new one? Fold my WoW blogging back into DW/LJ? Advise me!
I’m in a good position with Luzara right now. She really is the only character I’m playing—it’s been several weeks now since I logged into anyone else except to check mail—and things that take accumulated time and effort are getting it. Let’s see what I’ve got here in my screenshot folder…
That’s 700 quests done in the western continent. It includes all the quests available to Alliance shamans in most of the zones, a lot of dungeon-crawling, and nearly all of the quests in the remaining zones. I believe that there are a few left in Winterspring and I know there’s a fair amount left in Silithus, tied up with Ahn’Qiraj and the silithid invasion. I’m working on those now in fact, for the sake of Cenarion Circle and Brood of Nozdormu reputation and just because I can and never got to see a bunch of this stuff earlier. But basically I’ve swept the continent.
It’ll be a while yet before I get the other three Loremaster achievements (Eastern Kingdoms, Outland, and Northrend). One neat thing is that it turns out a bunch of my guildmates in Pig & Whistle Society are also doing Loremaster work, so we do a lot of trading advice and help. Very comfortable-feeling.
This one came not long after that one up above. 700 quests here, 401 quests there, it all adds up.
Four factions in Northrend award reputation when your character wears their tabard in level 80 5-person dungeons: the Argent Crusade, the Knights of the Ebon Blade, the Kirin Tor, and the Wyrmrest Accord. A bout of dungeon-crawling last night got me all the way up to exalted with the last of them. No more tabard-wearing for Luzara for a while. That’s 14 factions she’s exalted with now, and Cenarion Circle is coming along well, so the achievement for 15 exalted reputations should hit this week.
I am having fun.
When it comes to character selection, the running question for me this year has been “What’s the happiest intersection of what I can play well, given my limitations, my computer’s limitations, and all the rest, and what I like to play?” And in particular, “What—if anything—can I play well enough and enjoy playing to contribute to groups I want to be part of taking on the Icecrown Citadel dungeons and raids while they’re still fresh?” As I’ve written before, I want to be part of the endgame this time, since I wasn’t anywhere close in the original release and had to truncate my efforts at the tail end of Burning Crusade.
• Role. To recap, there are three basic roles for characters in group: tanks, dps (“damage per second”, or damage dealers), and healers. DPS splits further, into meleer and ranged. I like all these roles. But I can’t play all of them well.
Tanking calls for a level of whole-situation awareness I can’t count on, and a degree of group leadership I find stressful. I don’t like having to explain an encounter or give orders on the fly. And melee dps calls for fast position changes and constant attention to the orientation of character to all the challenges in a fight, and I’m just not that fast. Both of those are out.
Fortunately for me, it turns out that I like healing and ranged dps. Ranged dps is very much less detail-oriented than melee dps: you pick your target and the game keeps you shooting at it, most of the time. You have much less occasion to move around while a fight’s underway. Healing calls for focusing on the health of party members rather than the surrounding fight, so again, simpler task overall. It can be very, very stressful with a group of people who aren’t paying attention to the basics for their characters, aren’t adequately geared, and so on, but that’s what reliable guildmates are for, to not be a set of problems.
• Raid size. Raids come in 10-person and 25-person flavors these days. And 25-person is just right out for me when it comes to anything complex. Simple straight-up engagements, sure. Extended time against multiple packs of incidental mobs plus major boss fights, no. My computer’s weak for it and the sheer complexities of administering the larger group wear me down, and it’s also much more likely that the larger group will have one or more annoying bozos in it.
Finding a guild of good people who prefer 10-person action isn’t all that easy. Broadly speaking, competent players are likely to favor the bigger groups, because the rewards are bigger. But the alternative preference does exist.
• Personal potential. Last, and by no means least, I need a character that can work on all the achievements, exploration, and other stuff I want to do just to satisfy my own personal desires. That’s a lot easier for me to manage with some classes than others, since it takes a comfortable mixture of firepower, capacity for defense, visual interest, and overall ambience.
I’ve been overall very happy and thoroughly productive with my troll shaman in Blacksky Company. But they’re very much committed to 25-person raiding, and I found it taking more and more of a toll on me. Enter the Pig & Whistle Society. This is an Alliance-side sister guild to BSC, named after one of the inns in Stormwind where travelers gather to tell their tales. P&W is unusual in having a cadre of genuinely talented players who favor 10-person raiding. So…
I paid for a second faction change for her. Yes, my shaman is again draenei, now named Luzara. The random name generator suggested it and it has a pleasing sound to me, and is easy enough for raid leaders to say without getting tongue-tied. She retains a restoration spec as her primary thing: I do group and raid healing well, and it’s a role not as many people want to take, so it gets me slots. She is, according to guild leaders, set enough that when patch 3.3 comes out and Icecrown Citadel opens up, she’ll be able to join in the fun as one of the raid healers. Now her secondary spec is elemental, the lightning-flinging ranged side of shaman potential, and it’s working really, really well for me. It’s great fun for my solo questing and handy in groups with others are willing to heal.
So here she is, Mark III of my shaman. Hanging out with the Prophet Velen, leader of all draenei on Azeroth:
Meditating among the shamanic shrines in the Exodar:
Rested, equipped, and ready to face the world(s):
Well, actually, things have been happening. Not all of them good, unfortunately. It turns out I have pretty severe unsuspected heart trouble, and along with new medication, I’m supposed to be reducing stresses. Monitoring my pulse and blood pressure reveals to me that some of what I do in WoW is in fact pretty stressful, physically. So I’m in the midst of adjustments. News when there’s a new configuration.
A great post on using a holiday item that lets you see ghosts temporarily to see ghosts in all kinds of places, at Harpy’s Nest. Gotta go exploring!
I just read this morning about Miss Medicina’s survey of healers, and hey, that’s me…
• What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Ezza, restoration shaman. (Other spec is enhancement, these days for questing and power-leveling friends.)
• What is your primary group healing environment?
Five-person runs, PVP, and 10-person raids in about equal measure. My guild is very large and has some really dedicated players, and I’m still working my way up to be ready for 25-person raids.
• What is your favorite spell for your class and why?
Chain Heal. I love what it does—healing more than one person at once—I love that there’s actually a little tactical maneuvering possible in choosing the initial target and shaping the path it leaps after that, and I love the look of it with light blasting around the field of combat.
• What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Cleansing, I guess, and that’s only because if I need it more than once or twice in a fight I throw down a totem for it. One of the reasons I particularly like shaman is precisely that the toolbox of healing spells is relatively small but every single one gets frequent use.
• What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Versatility. Four good spells (Riptide, Lesser and regular Healing Wave, Chain Heal) plus totems adds up to a lot of potential for fine-tuning. I can fill just about any niche a group is likely to have when it comes to healing and support.
• What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
A shortage of instant burst healing, definitely. I’d like something like Lay on Hands, costly to use but lifesaving when I bring it into play.
• In a 25-person raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Raid healing, easily. I can do main tank healing—I did it this week in 10-person Trial of the Crusader and did well at it, and had some experience with it in Serpentshine Cavern and Tempest Keep back in the day, but jumping around to heal everyone who isn’t tanking plays to my strengths most. Riptide makes that even more true at 80 than at 70, too.
• What healing class do you most enjoy healing with and why?
A second shaman makes life great, but it’s hard to beat a discipline priest for the world-class shielding and such. But I don’t think there’s any healing class I don’t wish to group with, when played well. I feel that resto shaman is distinctive enough that everything else complements rather than conflicts.
• What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Hmm. I suppose that if I had to make a pick, it’d be holy paladin, for the mutual lack of instant burst healing. But that’s a matter of “preferring somewhat less”, not “disliking”.
• What is your worst habit as a healer?
Overhealing early on and running short on mana multiple times during a long fight. I’ve really got to rein in my impulse to top everyone off too much.
• What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
This needs two separate answers.
For the player base at large, all those “X needs heals!” and “Heal me!” shouts, for sure. Yes, I know, I know, hush up and do your job.
But my guild doesn’t do any of that. Back in the day, people would get booted from instances and raids if they didn’t turn off heal-me emotes from add-ons, for instance, and the lesson stuck. So my biggest complaint is just lack of opportunity to actually learn some of the fights that’d move me from third-string healing to second or first, for sheer population. This is not a bad complaint.
• Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Very much so. In fact I think that the contrast between shamans and other healers is just about a textbook example of how to do it right.
• What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Well, success is the crucial test. If we win fights and the others feel satisfied with the outcome, that’s what matters most. Metering tells me things like whether I’m overhealing more than I can really justify, but I don’t worry about it much. Earth Shield, for instance, doesn’t get easily credited to my healing tally, and yet good use of Earth Shield is crucial to shaman contributions to raid healing. So I’m interested in the human judgment of my guildmates more than the data sets as such.
• What do you think is the biggest misconception about your healing class?
Oh, this is an easy one: shamans can’t put out enough healing fast enough to be main-tank healers. Thanks in particular to Riptide, with good gear and prep, we can and do.
• What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
While leveling, the shifting balance between Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Wave in terms of just how much they help against what kinds of incoming damage volume. In raiding, the tradeoffs between a few Chain Heals and a lot of Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave, when many raiders are damaged.
• If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc.)?
Well, overhealing more than is wise, certainly. Beyond that…dunno. Good performance, I think.
• Haste or Crit and why?
Up until recently I’d have said increased critical change, easily. These days I’m leaning toward haste, now that I have enough of it to see the difference it makes.
• What healing class do you understand least?
Either holy paladin or holy priest, I think.
• What add-ons or macros do you use, if any to aid you in healing?
I love X-Perl’s display of status a lot and rely on it heavily. I use Clique and alternate between clicking and typing as the fancy strikes me to cast spells. Beyond that, not much; I have tried a lot in the past but find that the speed advantages of lighter resource load offset anything else I might gain.
• Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
I made spellpower my first priority just because it was way low when I started raiding. Now I favor a bit of everything, juggling mana regeneration rates, haste, critical chance, and expertise. A lot of my decisions are responses to whatever neat new loot’s come my way.
I’m sending this on to Siha of Banana Shoulders in hopes of drawing her in.