Archive for November, 2010


Hanging Up My Tanking Cloak…

November 29, 2010

First, a little history. I started my World of Warcraft tanking career on Anvilmar (US), not long after the release of The Burning Crusade at a time when every guild on the server was hurting for tanks. My druid was just starting out in Outland, having kitty-catted her way up to this point, when the leadership made a plea for more volunteers before we had to turn to recruiting. What could I do, I heeded the call. Not that I really wanted to, but keep in mind that back in those days, cat DPS reputation was in the gutter. If I wanted to stay feral and still be useful, I pretty much had no choice.

Some people say that tank is the hardest role in WoW, and I know I might be biased, but I have to agree. As someone who has played all three roles (Healer, Tank, DPS), I think the debate goes beyond simply what buttons to press and when, or where to go or stand (anywhere but in the fire!) Based on experience, the stress of playing a tank pretty much trumps all. Healer comes close, but not quite. First of all, when I die as a healer in a raid, there’s still some hope of at least one other healer in the group picking up the slack. When I die as a main tank on the other hand, it’s almost always a guaranteed wipe. Tanks are also heavily relied upon to know the dungeons and their encounters, even more so back in the day when heroics weren’t AoE orgies. Any tank worth his or her salt knew to mark each target for kill order and crowd control.

In the end, I don’t think I could have done it if not for the wonderful help I got from my guild. I was lucky. I had the unending support and patience of a close group of friends while I picked up tanking from scratch. They made adjustments for my noobishness, I wasn’t immediately lambasted for making any mistakes, and I had time to get feedback and fine tune my technique. It was the best way one could possibly learn. Not everyone has that luxury today, and I sympathize with but also respect those who have had to learn to tank amidst total strangers in pick-up groups, in this ever fragmenting WoW community.

Now, I’m by no means a perfectionist, but I can be a fussbudget about certain things — like tanking. When I tank for a group, I’m like the mama bear who wants to keep all her cubs safe. Even after all this time I’ve never completely gotten over what I call my “tank guilt”. That said, I used to beat myself up every single time someone in my group died, even when it wasn’t really my fault. If a trigger-happy DPS pulled and got himself killed, I’d wonder if it could have been avoided if only I had been a bit quicker on the taunt, or working a bit harder on aggro. If the raid wiped because the healers screwed up for whatever reason and couldn’t keep me up, I’d still blame myself for the deaths of 24 other people, cursing myself, “If only I had had more health/been better geared!” It took me a long time to let go of this guilt, and realize that I’m powerless to prevent some deaths, and that it is a fact of life that some idiots just deserve it.

All this was before my break from WoW. I’ve recently picked up tanking on my main again, after nearly a year, and unfortunately I think the guilt is coming back. Plus the dynamics of groups have certainly changed. Random grouping is more commonplace due to the convenience of the Looking for Group system, with an undesired effect — healing and tanking have become increasingly thankless jobs as PuGs are quick to blame either or for any mishaps. I’m paranoid now. I’m starting to second guess myself again every time someone goes down, wondering if it’s my fault. Then I wonder if the group will vote to kick me if it is. I pray to the PuG gods each time I enter a random instance to please please please be kind and spare me the jerks and assholes.

If this post is turning out more whiny than I intended it to be, I apologize. I just know that tanking is quickly become a source of stress for me, even though it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing for years. But times change. With Cataclysm due to hit stores in a little more than a week, it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate if this is the path I want to keep for my main or if I should establish myself in a new role. I can see myself still tanking once in a while in the new expansion, but at this rate I have a feeling keeping bear as my main spec is going to end up giving me an ulcer.

Lucky for me, druids are one of the most flexible classes in the game. I’m going to need some time to decide once and for all, but right now I see very little point in continuing something once it stops being fun.


The 5-Inhabitants-For-The-Price-Of-One-Update Deal!

November 26, 2010

Hey, good lookin'!

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, I wasn’t surprised to see a modest update from Star Wars: The Old Republic today. Hey, it’s Black Friday, Bioware devs need to shop too. And I’m sure there are a lot of gamers like me as well, too busy spending time with their loved ones and sleeping off the turkey overload. I don’t know what my husband was thinking, getting a bird big enough to feed a small village.

Anyway, five new entries were added to the Inhabitants page this morning — the Terentatek, the Vine Cat, the Sith Pureblood, the M3-M1 Medical Droid, and the S3-F5 Inclement Condition Probe. Okay, keeping track of those droids and their letter and number designations is going to be the death of me.

Nothing too extravagant, but wow, if you have time, check out some of the new screenshots. I remember a time when I was less than impressed with the graphics and models. Back then, folks were still saying, “Relax, just give Bioware time to work on things.” I didn’t doubt improvements were going to be made, but at the same time, I don’t think I expected such a stark difference between the “Before” and “After” either. Compared to some of the older material we’ve seen, it almost looks like a whole different game.

I for one really love the new stuff about the Sith Pureblood. Almost makes me want to change my mind about rolling a Bounty Hunter and roll a Sith Warrior instead, so I can look all badass with my red lightsaber like buddy there in the screenshot. Almost.


Okay, Who’s Turn Was It To Chain The Dragon Up?

November 24, 2010

I think he got loose again...

As the rumors predicted, “The Shattering” patch hit World of Warcraft yesterday. Last night, the excitement was almost palpable as everyone in the guild chattered on about the changes big and small.

Meanwhile, my husband and I attempted to explore every corner of altered Azeroth. Let me tell you, our venture across this great expanse was a magical time of discovery and learning, and it was just simply amazing to be able to share this experience with my own back-pocket mage–er, I mean, the love of my life!

All joking aside, with the changes so extensive and thorough, we weren’t able to get very far in our exploration even with his portals. There was just too much to see. As you know, Gadgetzan is now prime beach-front property…

Azshara has its own rocket-coaster track…

And Auberdine is completely demolished. For some reason, seeing the following made me so sad.

To see that even the hippogryphs weren’t spared by the expansion, I was like WHY, DAMN YOU, WHY?!! Strangely, I felt little to nothing for the dead Night Elf NPC bodies littering the coast of Darkshore. What, they’ve done absolutely nothing but burden me with annoying quests when I was all but a little lowbie. But those hippogryphs, man, they faithfully and compliantly carried my ass everywhere for the last four years.

And of course, the most cataclysmic change of all…

"Hey, Kirstin, Scott and Thomas, what the hell have you done with Olivia, Newton and John?! You bastards!"

Edit: Thanks to Rowan for pointing out they are on the other side of the bank, alive and well. You got lucky this time, Westmills.

Anyway, never let it be said that I don’t stop to smell the roses. Or in this case, sunflowers. Getting this disgustingly cute pet, an obvious reference to a certain PopCap Games favorite, was high on my to-do list yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to visit Hillsbrad Foothills, where I prepared to try my hand at some Plants vs. Zombies, WoW style.

Best brush up on your PvZ skills if you’re rusty; they don’t make it easy. Or maybe it’s just because I suck. Hey, my husband is the PvZ expert, not me. The last two phases took me half a dozen tries before I finally got the hang of it. Getting the adorable little guy in the end is worth it though. And he sings so sweetly.

I told myself I wasn’t going to do any of the new quests in the low-level zones until I rolled my Worgen, but I ended up having to break that rule for another new pet added with the patch. Turns out, the opportunity to obtain Withers only opens up after completing a long quest chain in Darkshore, which probably comprises about half the damn quests in the zone.

Nothing like vanity pets to get me all riled up. There are worse things to motivate me, I suppose.

As an unexpected treat, I had Anjin of Bullet Points to keep me company while I quested, after discovering that he has a couple Alliance characters on Silvermoon as well. So random, but always a pleasure when coincidences like this make you realize the world (of Warcraft) is smaller than you think.


My Pre-Cataclysm To-Do List #2: The Great Inventory Dump Of 2010

November 22, 2010

I confess — I am a hoarder, in every MMO I play and especially in World of Warcraft. I’m certainly not the worst kind there is, but I’m still bad enough that I’ll find myself constantly running out of space in my bags due to my need to keep jamming them up seemingly useless crap. This includes seasonal mementos, unique items, RP clothing, special quest rewards, fluff pieces and pretty much anything that feels “collectible” or like it has any value at all (very subjective!)

I’m also a very sentimental person. That I’ve kept everything which has ever elicited an emotional response is probably a safe assumption…and it really doesn’t take much. Hell, if something even looks pretty, it’s a keeper. Hence my Cenarion Helm. Hence the piles of Voodoo Skulls, Happy Fun Rocks, Steamy Romance Novels, and Farmer’s Brooms. Hence my collection of druid idols. Hence those five random pieces of purples from the early days because I can’t for the life of me remember which one out of those was my first epic, so to be safe I just kept them all.

Don’t even get me started on crafting materials and consumables. I might not be big on crafting, but I’m stingy. Why pay someone else to cut a gem when I can do it my own damn self with just a little more effort? So any alt I have gets busted down to crafter or farmer status and becomes a glorified banker mule. At some point, I must have made sure to keep them all well-stocked so I would never lack for mats again, because I discovered the other day that their inventories are just as crammed and only slightly more organized.

Well, enough is enough. Most of these characters I haven’t touched for nearly a year, so now I don’t even know what half this stuff is anymore. More importantly, Cataclysm is coming. Remember how Burning Crusade materials became as useful as nipples on a breastplate after Wrath of the Lich King? It’s now or never to liquidate all of it on the auction house. Ore, gems, cloth, herbs, everything must go while people will still buy ’em!

And to hell with sentimentalism. I’ll still hold on to some seasonal items and a few pieces from one-time-only events, but I’ve come to accept that I can’t afford to keep every single thing that has made me nostalgic. Time to let go. Time to start afresh. Time to have some *gasp!* space in my inventory again.

It’s quite liberating, really. And being 6,000 gold richer in just a little more than a day is the cherry on top.


Flesh Raiders Sound So Dirty To Me

November 19, 2010

Yep, today’s Star Wars: The Old Republic update is November’s edition of Fan Friday — a community feature that showcases things like fan creations, game concept art, new avatars and a small Developer Corner.

Except today’s developer insights have been expanded into a Studio Insider article, giving us a closer look at some of the creative processes behind the game. Today, concept artist Diego Almazan details the processes behind creating a set of Flesh Raiders.

If I recall correctly, these are the brutal marauders your Jedi will have to fight on your starting planet of Tython.

Also included in the update is a new Community Q & A section. Couldn’t have come at a better time, if you ask me. The recent string of Friday updates have garnered a wide range of comments, complaints and praise. For some fans, an information downswing can lead to disappointment and frustration rather than much needed revelation. Going by the reaction on the forums for those weeks, it would seem that no one gives a crap about Fan Fridays or lore updates.

Look, I care about any and all news about the game, but I can also see the problem here. Spring 2011 is about six months away. People are anxious. They demand details. Combat! Economy! End game! Guilds! PvP! Bioware won’t release information on anything until they feel it’s ready, and I applaud them for it. But that’s not going to fly for a community in an uproar that demands to know everything RIGHT NOW NOW NOW. My guess is that’s why Q & A was added, to promote two-way communication and to attempt to mollify complaints concerning the lack of dev interaction with the community. Sure, it might not be all the information, but for now, it’s an opportunity to reach out, combat the negativity and put a few real or imagined worries to rest.

Some good questions in there, can’t wait to see more. This probably isn’t a very significant thing to get excited about, but it did pique my interest to see helmet on/off toggle confirmed. All risk of romantic kissy scenes and awkward bonky bonky moments aside, I didn’t spend half an hour customizing my character’s face just to hide it behind a clunky helm!


My Pre-Cataclysm To-Do List #1: Hero Of The Zandalar Tribe

November 18, 2010

All dressed up with nowhere to go.

With World of Warcraft: Cataclysm less than three weeks away, a part of me is itching to get my main back into the game, which explains why I fixed up her talents post-4.0.1 and even took the time to do a re-gem or two. But I’m afraid the motivation just isn’t there. My guildmates keep trying to make me run heroics with them, but quite honestly, the idea of plodding through the same damn dungeons over and over again has lost its appeal a long time ago. I see zero point in putting myself through the instance grind now, especially with the expansion threatening to make all the current loot trivial by the end of the year.

Loathe to let my poor druid gather dust again, however, I resolved to find myself a nice time sink to keep her active. Lucky for me, WoW is full of those, least of all the hundreds of ideas floating around concerning what to do before Cataclysm. Not surprisingly, anything to do with Zul’Gurub ranks pretty high in almost all of these lists, seeing how Blizzard has confirmed that raid instance will go bye-bye with the new expansion.

I decided to take a page from Bullet Points and determined what I needed to do before the cataclysm. As it happened, Hero of the Zandalar Tribe was one of the rep achievements that had eluded me all this time. I recently made it my pet project, and my husband also came along for the ride (if I jumped off a bridge, he would totally do it too). It turned out to be a pretty painless grind. By leaving Hakkar alive, all the trash in the entire instance would respawn so we were able to farm it every night. We breezed through the place, with him mage-tanking and me going resto, healing my ass off. The Restoration tree has gone through some major changes; I was happy to get some practice in before I got too rusty with my off-spec.

Success! Even with two people sharing the Bijou and Coin drops we managed to get to exalted in a little less than a week. I was also able to strike Deadliest Catch off my list, but we unfortunately had no luck with either the Tiger or Raptor mounts. Not even a stinking pet drop


I’ve Got Faaaiiiith, Faith Of The Heeaaaaarrrrt

November 17, 2010

Okay, first of all, I quite liked Enterprise and I don’t understand why it gets all this hate. As a series, I thought it was very entertaining.

Second of all, I have a rabid addiction to costumes in Star Trek Online, so when Cryptic rolled out their new Enterprise-themed items in the C-store, decking my away team out in the Earth space exploration program uniforms was a no-brainer. T’Andy, being the captain and therefore special, also gets the honor of being stuck in a T’Pol jumpsuit (“logical and fashionable”?!)

Let this be my tribute to Enterprise, may it get the love it deserves. I did pass on the NX-01 ship replica, however. Think I’ll stick with my Maelstrom class fleet escort, thanks.

Dammit, now I have “Where My Heart Will Take Me” stuck in my head.