Friday, February 28, 2014

Minipost: PvP - Arena Season 15 is upon us!

It's always fun at the beginning of a new PvP season - I am much more enthusiastic about capping conquest than I am about valour.  And I was surprised to see a feat of strength pop up when I logged in last Tuesday.

It might be a new thing.  Maybe they didn't hand out FoS for your ranking in arenas in previous seasons.  Or it might be that we never did that great in previous seasons! Anyway, after seeing that, I've decided that I need to try harder this season - especially at the end of a season!  I would like a duelist title for once!

So after raid last night, we decided to go and play a few games.  There was a mixture of good teams and not so good teams.  I am a bit out of practice and left myself out in the open a bit too much.  But our CC chains were good most of the time - where we fell down was when the CC chains were good on us.  Once that cycle started happening it was almost impossible to catch up to the damage that was being dealt out.

Ugh this cold is killing my PvP time.  Not wanting to stay up late to PvP - hopefully I'll be better by Friday to finish off my conquest cap!  Luxy says she might hit up some arenas - Sev said he was looking forward to seeing her and Taloski on the battlefield!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Navispam - Looking for MrandMrsWoW in all the wrong places

Sometimes it's hard to remember WHY I put an alt on a server - because I can't remember who I am looking for.  I had this alt on a server looking for Mr and Mrs Wow but I could never find them.  I did a /who for their guild each time I was on EU but there was never anyone on.

One day I was looking at their blog, Mr and Mrs WoW, and I did a battle net search and realised that I was on the wrong SERVER.  /facepalm

So when I went to the right server, what do you know!  Mrs WoW was online!

I wasn't sure if she would know who I was - after all, they follow 1k people on twitter and I am just one of those people, but she did know who I was and was very happy to take a pic with me!  She even got Mr WoW online so we could take some pics together.  We couldn't go many places because of my little starter account, but here in Stormwind was just fine.  I even got to ride on her Sandstone drake!  She tried to port me to the vale, but I couldn't go on my starter account... and I said to her I didn't have 200g to give her either :P

They couldn't stay long because I had interrupted a run through MC and they had to get back to it.

Lovely Mrs WoW invited me to their guild - it was exciting because there are a lot of twitter people on there - hopefully I'll be able to catch one of them online and navispam them too!  

I asked if they had met through WoW, and it wasn't one of those met in WoW stories.  Mr WoW had been the WoW player first, and Mrs Wow soon followed.  Mr WoW loved his alts - something I can't relate to - and he had a mind boggling number of alts.  

Thank you Mr and Mrs WoW for letting me navispam you!  It was a genuine pleasure :D  SQUEEEE!

Minipost: Raiding - I don't think I like weekend serious raiding...

Maybe it was because I was tired because I had to organise and execute a birthday party on Saturday.  But raiding on Saturday didn't feel like it did on a Thursday.  It felt sloppier than normal, people felt tired.  Maybe it was because we did Flex before.  But whatever it was, we had some weird things happening on Sha, and it took us a while to get down.  Kyxyn made some weird mistakes and we teased him about it, but he might have been having an off day.  I think everyone decided that Saturday raids are not something we would look at for normal raiding - it just doesn't feel right.  I think Saturday should be for relaxing!  Not hard core stuff!  Maybe it's just me who likes to work during the week and rest on weekends - not sure what others think though.  Luxy got a tier chest and so did Aza and Sabre, and I got the heroic Prismatic Prison of Pride.

But on Monday we got Galakras down and watched Lushen roll loot again - what did Aza say?  Oh yes, they said that there is an RNG-zus.  I thought that was a hilarious concept.  Praying to RNGzus.  My apologies if I offend anyone with religious sensibilities but it is funny.  Lushen has rolled almost every piece of heroic loot he has.  That lucky ass monk.  Morz got Shoulderpads of Pulsing Protection and I had to DE the heroic warforged plate tank loot.

Iron Juggernaut is still farming us.  We're doing the MMO Champ strat where we got knocked back on the side and the crawlers come to us and we heal down there but we're not all making it down there - the knockback kills almost half of us.  Feels like a healing problem at this stage, and that makes it a struggle.  I am embarrassed because I die a lot to those annoying borer drills combined with a sawblade.  Ugh!  But I will need to do better next week.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Non WoW: The shock of diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder

This is totally non wow related, but I have the urge to let out the bevy of emotions that have run through me this past few months. I have two lovely children, and like most children seem to be, despite being brought up the same, they are the complete opposite of one another.  The only thing they did similarly was walk at the age of one.

My eldest, a girl, was a reserved child, and didn't show much affection until she was about age four.  She was very shy, but very intelligent, and could sing the Australian National Anthem by the age of two.  She loved to learn numbers and the alphabet.

My son, on the other hand, was affectionate from an early age.  He was a slow talker, in fact, around the age of three when he still wasn't putting three words together, I decided to take him to speech therapy.  He hated books, and would run screaming when I pulled one out.

My daughter loves vegetables, and says she doesn't like eating meat, because she has to chew it a lot and "it hurts my teeth".  My son, picks out all his vegetables and loves to eat meat.  My daughter loves to sleep in; my son loves to get up at the crack of dawn.  My daughter can't help but look, even if it's scary; my son runs from the room and peeks out from behind the wall, or covers his ears and squeezes his eyes shut.  Kids! Such funny little things!

But this story is about my son.

As I watched him growing up, and not quite reaching the same level as his sister in terms of speech and comprehension, I had a lot of people telling me things like:
"Oh, he's a boy, boys are always slower when it comes to speech."
"His sister is talking for him, that's why he's not talking."
"My son did that, but after three he really picked up."

So I thought I would wait.  One of the girls at work had a son a few months younger than mine, and when he was two, she told me she was taking her son to speech therapy.  I asked her why.  She said that he only could say 50 words and he wasn't very intelligible.  I thought to myself, "Gee, my son can only say 25 words," and I thought it was a bit early so I thought I'd just let it be and keep trying at home to get him to say more.

My parents said that it was environmental.  I wasn't spending enough time teaching my son, I was too busy at work, and because they had spent more time looking after my daughter at an early age, that was the reason why he was so behind compared to her, as they spent a lot of time teaching her (my parents are both teachers).  I had some guilt that I wasn't nurturing my son's intellectual needs, compared to my daughter, though I wasn't sure if there was much more that I could do.

It wasn't until we went to a party at a friend's house after he turned three, that one of my friends said that she was really concerned about him.  Her son was younger, but he was so much more advanced than my son in terms of speech and comprehension, that she sent me an email encouraging me to do some interventions because she had a friend who had similar issues to my son and they left it a bit late.

Around that time I had a spate of children who were having grommets put in their ears for hearing difficulties and "language delay" and EVERY single one of those children, younger than my son, were more advanced than he was.  If these kids were delayed, then why wasn't I doing something about my own child?

I didn't want to be a paranoid parent. Worse, I didn't want to be a paranoid DOCTOR parent.  Both my husband and I are doctors, many of our friends are doctors, and every medical professional has their own opinion about how we should bring up a child.

Even my husband didn't think there was anything wrong with my son.  He would grow out of it, and catch up to the rest of the kids, he said.  My son was intelligent - he can make breakfast for himself, use the Nespresso to make coffee for dad in the morning, and follow routines.  He was a stickler for routine though, and disrupting his routine would make him very upset.  Perhaps, that was an early warning sign.

And so, early last year I took him to speech therapy.  After a year of speech therapy, he improved a fair bit, but he was nowhere near any of his peers.  At age four, I still couldn't have a conversation with my son - I could only ask him simple questions with a yes/no answer. I mean, he knew his name, because he would come when called and if I pointed to a picture of him he would say his name, but if I asked him what his name was, he couldn't tell me.  Just a few months before he turned four, he only just grasped the concept of colour.  It was like a light had switched on.

The subject of autism was broached my speech therapist mid last year, and I took him for further testing.  I had already checked his hearing formally (which was perfect), but I sent him for some visual tests, which he passed with flying colours. I kept batting on with his speech, doing our homework at home, and worrying to myself about how he was going to go to school if he couldn't answer his name or understand instructions.

One of the Otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose and throat surgeons) that I work with regularly has three sons, one of which has been diagnosed with autism.  I had talked to him a lot about my son, and he recommended that I speak to one of the developmental paediatricians at our institution.  Interestingly, the surgeon's brother, was the head of paediatrics at that same institution, but he was not a great believer in the diagnosis of autism, which I found amusing.  After all, the two brothers had a lot of autistic traits themselves, and they both became doctors.

And so this year rolled around. Next year my son is supposed to be going to kindergarten, and I was very anxious about how he would cope at school. His speech therapist again broached the subject of autism and so I agreed to have formal testing done.  I had already resigned myself to the fact that he had autism spectrum disorder of some sort, and was trying to figure out how best to help him.  However, so many people poo-poo'd that idea, saying that he was very social and interactive, and autistic children are withdrawn.  It would be expensive - about $650 for a few hours of testing in the presence of a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and a psychologist.  Fortunately, my son seemed to cope ok with that, since he was familiar with the speech path already and I waited a few weeks for the results.

In the mean time, I went to chat to the developmental paediatrician and she gave me a good article to read from the Lancet September 26, 2013, titled "Autism".  This table about the behavioural characteristics of autism caught my eye.

My son had a number of these characteristics, but not all of them.  Hell, people I know now have some of these characteristics!  The paediatrician listened to me describe my son and she agreed he had some marked delay, and she would be interested in seeing the report when it was done.  I pored over the article, and resigned myself to the fact my son was probably in the autistic spectrum somewhere.  The article talked about diagnosing early, and early intervention - earlier than when I had started doing something, and I felt that twinge of guilt again.  But I was the only one who wanted to do anything about it, so if I had left it any longer, it would have been worse off, I thought to myself.

So today, they wanted to discuss the results of the assessment with me.  The director of the team sat me down in her office and started tell me how hard it was to say this, but based on their review, my son had mild-moderate autism.  The psychologist had visited him at daycare, and the carers there had noted that my son would often play by himself, not answer to his name, and need to be called multiple times.  He would often not be interested in group activity or story time, and sit with his back facing the group.  The occupational therapist had said that his fine motor coordination was also poor (but his gross motor was ok) which didn't surprise me as I rarely saw him hold a pencil and draw anything more than line or two.  In terms of speech and comprehension, he functioned at the level of a two and a half year old.  None of this surprised me.  I already knew he was talking like a two year old, and it was a little bit of a relief that there was a diagnosis of some sort made, because now I felt I could focus on how to manage him, how to help him to function normally.  Did this diagnosis mean I had to send him to a special school?
In Australia, if you have the diagnosis of autism made by a professional body, then you are able to access a vast variety of resources.  There is a government allowance every year till the child turns six that can be used for their therapy and teaching, and I also entitled to a carer's allowance, none of which is means tested.  Not that I needed the money, mind you, but it does help a lot with the extra things I needed for my son.  Now he has to attend occupational therapy, and also social skills classes and I was more worried how I was going to fill out the paperwork with this diagnosis, than I was with the diagnosis itself.  The director was concerned because she thought I would be in one of the earlier stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) rather than in the acceptance stage.  I told her that being medical, it was something I had been expecting and I just want to focus on helping him as much as I can.

I told a few people about the diagnosis, and the responses were varied:
"Well, I always thought there was something a little bit funny about him, that will explain why he doesn't listen."
"Oh, what does that mean, will he be autistic for the rest of his life?"
"Maybe he'll get cured later, and everything will be ok."
"Is it hereditary?  He didn't get that from our side of the family, surely..." (!!!)
"I know two people at work with kids with autism, and they are doing really well with interventions."

It wans't until after raid tonight that I went backwards a little and got a little bit teary about the diagnosis. My son is a happy child, though a naughty one at times, full of cuddles, kisses and excitement about things such as planes, garbage trucks and cranes. I worried that when he got to school, because he couldn't understand what the other children said, that they would make fun of him, and he would hate school and then start to act up and then not learn at all.  My son would go from my sweet child to a problem one, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs.  Is that not what every parent wants for their child?

It's a year till he goes to school, though enrolments will probably start around May for placements in 2015. My head is buzzing about whether I need to talk to my daughter's school principal to see if it's appropriate for my son to go there, or whether he has to go to special school of some sort.  My husband wants him held back a year, but I would rather he went to school so he could get as much help as possible. Every day since I've thought he might have autism, I have been trying to make everything he does a learning opportunity. Look at those cars, what colours are they?  Using flash cards in the car for ABC.  Trying to get him to understand the concept of boy/girl by using everyone he knows as examples.  But it's not all learning, I do let him play games as well.  He plays a lot of computer games, and Reading Eggs is a great source of games for him (when I hide the iPad from him so he can't get to Temple Run, Bad Piggies, or this new Mickey Mouse game my husband downloaded).  I've found that with books, he likes books about movies he likes to watch, like Peppa pig, Tinkerbell, Toy Story, so that's a start.  I use his love of cars to do counting and colours (because we seem to have a hell of a lot of matchbox cars).  And in the last few weeks, he has been able to answer me (even though it's probably a parroted learned response) when I say "What's your name?" and he replies "My name is Nicholas*."  Each step is small, and hard earned, and I don't know what our future will bring, and I am sure there will be more tears to come as I struggle with his learning at a school level, but for now I don't ever want to forget my son as he is now - the one who thinks there is nothing wrong with his world, and that everyone around him loves him for what he is, and he is none the wiser.

*name changed

Monday, February 24, 2014

Frostwolves Bedtime Story Strats - The dreadful Proto-drake, Galakras

"I want a new story today, Mama," said my daughter.  "I don't want to hear your old stories."

"What's wrong with my old stories?  I like them!" I was a bit hurt, I liked my old stories!

"Nothing, but I want a new one.  Pleeeeaaase?" she said, imploringly, giving me a hug.

I relented. "Alright.  How about.... the story of how we killed Galakras, the Proto-Drake?"

"What's a Proto-drake?"

"Proto-drakes are the ancestors of dragons. Like how monkeys are the ancestors of humans."

"What's an ancestor?"

"Like a grandpa. Or a great great great Grandpa!  They are like the Grandpas of dragons."

"Does that mean they're really really old?"

Hmm.  This conversation was not take the turn I expected.  "Umm, not exactly!  They are like what dragons used to look like BEFORE they became pretty dragons.  They're like... DINOSAUR dragons!"

She seemed satisfied with that answer.


Do you remember how I told you about how the bad Warchief Garrosh dropped the evil god's heart into the magic water?  After he did that, he ran away and hid deep inside the city in some caves under the ground so that nobody could find him and try to kill him.  He sent his armies to protect him, and one of them was called Warlord Zaela.  She was friends with Garrosh for a long time, and she had rode a big proto-drake, named Galakras.  Warlord Zaela protected the beach near the city to stop people from getting in to fight Garrosh.

Zaela had a HUGE army!  Everyone came on a boat to the beach to start the fight, and we had to kill all the bad orcs who were there and blow up all the cannons so our ships won't get sunk. Then Zaela  kept sending her armies at us.

There were lots of people helping us.  The Queen of the zombies, Sylvanas, was there, and so was the Lord of the Elves, Lor'thremar.  Archmage Aethas Sunreaver was one of the most powerful magicians and he came to help us too.

"Zombie queen!" my daughter exclaimed.

"She was an elf before she became a zombie, and she's very pretty.  Mama thinks she is SOOO cool."

Zaela was the leader of the Dragonmaw clan, and she sent many groups of Dragonmaw soldiers to attack us. Uncle HK had to try to keep them attacking him so they didn't hit other people and kill them.  On top of the towers, people shot us with fire arrows.  Little proto-drakes came and breathed fire on us.  It was very busy for everyone - for the healers, trying to keep everyone alive, and for the damagers who were trying to kill the baddies and stop them from hitting Sylvanas, Lor'thremar and Aethas.

There were two towers, one on each side.  On top of those towers was a cannon, and we wanted to get in the cannon so we could shoot Zaela as she was flying around on Galakras.  Goblins are really good at making machines and bombs.  We had two little Goblins helping us, putting bombs at the tower doors so we could break into the tower and get to the cannon.  But bad orcs kept coming and trying to kill them!  We made Uncle Exray guard the two little goblins and every time a bad orc came, he'd kill it. Sometimes he had to ask Uncle Sev to come and help him.  Finally they managed to put their bomb on the door and BOOM! It was open. You need 5 people to go up into the tower because it's so dangerous - Uncle Xyn was going to block them wish his shield, and Uncle Sev, Uncle Sabre and Uncle Owl were going to kill all the baddies. Uncle Morz went up to make sure they were healed. You had to kill the baddies fast and jump into the cannon quick, because as soon as the door broke, the proto-drakes flying in the sky started shooting everyone on the ground so much that they would die.  Once all the baddies in the tower were dead, Uncle Sabre was going to jump into the cannon and shoot the proto-drakes.

Uncle Aza now had to go protect the two goblins as they went to the second tower.  Uncle HK was so busy down the bottom because the armies were still coming!  Uncle Lushen, Aunty Luxy and Mama were very busy trying to make sure the armies didn't kill our leaders but it was getting pretty hard!  Everyone was in the tower and couldn't help us, but then Uncle Morz said that they were nearly finished in the tower so he jumped off the tower and came to help Mama. Uncle Sabre shot all the proto-drakes till they were dead, and everyone came back downstairs to help kill the armies again.  But!  Oh no!  Uncle Sev got hit by something really hard and he died!  Luckily Uncle Exray made Uncle Sev come alive again and then he went to help Uncle Aza help the goblins, and yay, they got the bomb on and blew up the door!  So up went Uncle Xyn's team to the second tower.  The big baddie up there, she used a gun that could make you die a lot so whenever she pointed her gun at you, you had to run away to the other side.  That tower was easy and Uncle Sev jumped into the cannon and Uncle Sabre went back to the other cannon and they did something silly while they waited for Uncle HK to tell them when to shoot Galakras.  Guess what they did!

"Did they... shoot the baddies on the ground?"

"No, they couldn't see them properly."

"Did they put bombs on the cannons and blow them up?"


"I give up."

"They pointed the cannons at each other and started shooting each other!"

My daughter laughed.  "That's silly! Why did they do that?!"

"For fun, and because they were being SILLY!"

"But doesn't that hurt?"

"For some reason the cannons only kill baddies, not us, so they liked mucking around.  Uncle Sabre says that he was better at hitting Uncle Sev than Uncle Sev was at hitting Uncle Sabre.  He was probably right."


"Because Uncle Sabre is a hunter and they're really good at using guns and bows and shooting them - like Green Arrow, or like Merida in Brave, she was good with the bow and arrow."

The last armies on the ground died.  Uncle HK shouted "Shoot her now!" and so Uncle Sev and Uncle Sabre shot their cannons at Galakras.  Zaela would only fall off if both cannons hit her, so Uncle Sev and Uncle Sabre hit her at exactly the same time and she fell off.  She told Galakras to fight us while she ran away to find Warchief Garrosh to tell him we were coming.

Galakras would shot big balls of fire at us, and it would make us burn!  The fireball was so big that if it hit you, you would get hurt so much that you might die, so you had to share the fireball with your friends - if the fireball went past some of your friends, some of the fire would get on them and make the fireball smaller so that when it hit you it wouldn't hurt you so much.  After a while we would stop burning, but if you had too much fire on you burning you, you'd get burned to death.  So we made two teams, and we would have one side on fire and when they had 3 fires burning on them, we'd make the other team get the fire 3 times, because by then, the first team's fires would have stopped burning and they would be ok again.

Mama and Uncle Morz were very busy at this time because everyone needed so much healing and they were dying!  Uncle Morz used his big bubble and little bubbles, Mama put her healing mushroom on the ground and also used her healing stars which would come out of the ground and healed everyone who stood in it. Uncle Exray had healing stars too, and he helped Mama and Uncle Morz when we started getting tired. She was nearly dead!  Everyone hit her as hard as they could and then.. she died!  We went and got our treasure - we all got gold, and Uncle Aza got a new ring.

"Yay!  How come you didn't get anything?"

"There wasn't any good treasure for Mama there.  But that's ok!  I'll get something next time."

"At least Uncle Sabre got to go this time."

"He was happy, I think."

But, we died lots of times when we tried learning how to fight Galakras.  Sometimes it was to funny things. One time, Uncle Xyn went up the tower and the big baddy up there pushed him really hard and he fell off the tower and then the big baddies hit us and we died.  Uncle Xyn wasn't the only one who did that.  Uncle Sabre got pushed really hard by the big baddy and he was falling off but Uncle Morz did something AMAZING - he used his magic stretchy hands and grabbed Uncle Sabre and pulled him back to the tower and saved him!  But then a few seconds later, Uncle Morz got pushed by the big baddy and fell off and died.  A lot of times Mama didn't know how to heal it properly and people died.  Sometimes people ran all over the place with the fire ball and they died from catching a giant fireball. There was a time Uncle HK didn't grab one of the baddies and they turned and hit someone hard and they died (though Uncle HK will tell you that it was because they hit the baddies before Uncle HK could hit them and that's why the baddies ran away from him).  And tons of times the baddies killed our leaders and we got in big trouble and we had to start again.

"But," I said.  "It's time for bed now!  Goodnight!"

"Can I have another story?"

"We haven't killed any more new things," I said.  "You might have to wait a while!"

"Well hurry up and kill something so I get another story," she said.

If only it was that easy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Raiding - Mixing it up a bit

Asys had thought about sitting out to make room for others, and also to help one of his friends who was thinking of transferring, so I asked Owl to heal for a week.  Asys felt that it was always the same people who sit out, and he felt bad for them, so he wanted to take his turn to sit out rather than insist some of the others sit out.

It took us a few goes on Immerseus - Aimei's got tendonitis or something so his left arm is sore, and we had to figure out who was healing what.  I ended up on tank duty which was not as bad as I thought, though I had to take a few goes to figure out where to stand, especially for Swirl since I couldn't use displacer anymore.  But, we got it down!

Protectors was also hairy.  We ended up having to drop Raked and bring Luxy in so we could manage the interrupts better and having 2 melee was a bit crappy.  Luxy killed Owl by passing him the Mark of Anguish, not realising he was heals and I remember thinking OMG GET RID OF THAT, but he just went splat instead.  Mana was tight in that fight - bleh, really missing the shaman there!

Norushen at least was easyish after the hard work in Protectors.  I was naughty and wanted to bloat my heals so I asked Morz if I could go into the zone, when really he should have gone so he could do some damage as well.

Come Thursday though, and we had lag, sore elbows and weird DC and a restart affecting our raid.  So we ended up calling it and rescheduled for Saturday, which means Flex will be super quick this week and we're going to skip Wing 4.

Hope things go well on Saturday!  But it was pretty good that we got 3 down at least!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Navispam - Ooh, I met a blogger on Saurfang, Raedelle!

I had a new follower on my other blog, Hidden in WoW, this week and when I looked them up, it was a blogger who was on Saurfang!  Her name was Raedel and she writes at Raedel's Raids.

So I went to have a look at her blog, and she has VERY good taste in blogs on her blogroll, for who did I see on it but my good friends, Tome of the Ancient, Zeirah, Elfi and Dragonray!!!

I sent her a mail and said I saw she had a blog and I asked if I could take a picture with her!  She was very confused at first, but when I told her I was a blogger too, I think it seemed to make more sense.

She hadn't been on the past few days, not at the times I was online, but on Thursday night I managed to catch her.  She was in SoO but she said she'd be out at 1130pm so I logged for a bit to do some family stuff since raid went kaput tonight, and then came back later.  We went to her favourite place - Jade forest.

Navi put those away! You're hogging my picture here! Hee hee!
We talked about why she started blogging (she said she was new to tanking and wanted to write about it) and she had been playing for 9 years, just like me!  She said she was healing as a priest for 9 years and also played a monk before she went to this paladin.  She had been on a few servers too - Aman'thul, Gundrak and now Saurfang - but she said that she came here because her friend was here.  I told her that I thought her blogroll was excellent (hahaha it felt like I was commenting on her wine cellar or something!), and she told me that her roommate was in a guild with Zeirah before and recommended her blog.  I told her proudly that I helped rename Zeirah's blog (still pretty chuffed about that! And all warm fuzzies!), as my little claim to fame.

I asked her to show me her favourite mount and pet:

And then we chatted from all sorts of stuff - guild leading, cheating on your collecting cats for the achievement (she says she LOVES cats) and then suddenly it was midnight - time for bed (and server shutdown).  I added her to my friends list and she had added me too, so now we can chat anytime!  Thanks Raedelle for letting me chat to you and paparrazzi you :)  You have been Navispammed!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thela's ROYGBiV Tmog challenge - Red

Thela says February is the month of Red, so here is my red transmog.  I am going to be silly and use my toon and only leather to do this contest!  In fact, this was my actual mog that I wore for a while (minus a cloak)!

Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm
Rageclaw Shoulder Pds
Bard's Tunic
Sawbones Shirt
Cloak of Subjugated Power
Wolf Rider's Gloves
Wolf Rider's Belt
Wolf Rider's Leggings
Bard's boots
Tyrannical Gladiator's Energy Staff
(Bracers not done because I can't see them under gloves)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Raiding - Galakras, your ass is GRASS!

On Kyxyn's recommendation, I've started watching Warcraft Academy's heroic guides.  They are concise, factual and the guy has a great speaking voice and the videos are informative.  Though, I wish they would hide their chat - all their realIDs pop up in the video!  Fatboss ones were good, but they do tend to make you feel a bit crap because you're "pretty hopeless if you need more than x healers for this encounter" if you can't push it.

Asys had to sit out coz we were one healer over.  But he came back for Iron Juggernaut (after much nagging and whispers), swapping with Sabre.

Kyxyn wanted this 2 healed and I thought that it was probably doable - the main issues we had last time had to do with the tower. The DPS had to kill the mobs and jump in the turret really quickly otherwise the drakes up the top would one shot people - which is what they did last time.  So we decided to have 3 DPS go in the first tower with a tank and healer, and have one person guarding the other tower and the rest on the ground. We wiped when we did it that way (me in tower), so Aza said I was probably better on the ground and so Morz went up the tower instead it actually worked a lot better.  We lived through our first tower!  Going up the second tower was easy because once the team went up, Aza came down and helped with the adds.  We got through that and then it was time to get Galakras down.  The Warcraft academy video did the two lines for fireball sharing so we did that - tower team was on the left, and everyone else right.  In the video their placement of the Efflorescence managed to cover both teams but it wasn't working like that for us and I felt like it was wasted.  We wiped at 9% but we hadn't sorted our healer cooldowns right so we thought we'd do it better the next go. And yeah... next go, it was better.  I gave up on everyone standing in the Efflorescence and moved it so it covered my line - Morz can use his bubble on his own side.  And it went DOWN!  It really was easier than I thought it would be - just the tower was the hard part but after that, it was very similar to normal.

Loot wise, Aza got Extinguished Ember of Galakras and Kyxyn took Krugruk's Rigid Shoulderplates for transmog in the future. Then we went to Iron Juggernaut for a look or two (or 6).  We didn't do brilliantly and we were plagued by bad connections (Asys came back and he said he was lagging) and so we called it a little early because it had been a really good night and I didn't want Iron Juggernaut frustration to be messing with our positive vibes from our Galakras kill.

Can you believe it Frostwolves? Two new heroic bosses this week!  That's so awesome!  I am sure that it's not going to be anything as good as this for the next few weeks - I foresee lots of wipes and not as much progress as this last month!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Raiding - A full clear of Flex this week! And considering some changes....

The guild we wanted to do Flex with wasn't organising their Flex on Saturday as two of the officers weren't on to organise it.  I still wanted my Garrosh kill so Kyxyn and I decided to form our own.

We managed to get enough from our guild and friends to make at least 10, but numbers soon swelled to 16 or so. It wasn't the best organised run we'd done - probably my fault because we didn't make sure that we gave instructions to all the tag-alongs how we run our raid. I will make sure I am really CLEAR about it next time.

Blackfuse was messy and slow, but it was ok.  Paragons was good because I got my achievement and nobody got Kunchonged.

But Garrosh to me felt a bit tense, and I didn't like it.  We had a few people join in then, which was annoying and we also had some people calling out things, which is a big no no in our raids usually.  Admittedly, one of the ideas was good (stacking in the last phase for MCs) but calling lust when we don't call lust irked Kyxyn and we felt awkward about telling them off.  Hobs, one of Rips friends came and I swear, he has never lived past the first Iron Star in any of the Garrosh flexes we did. He's a heroic raider!  How can that be! I had actually said he wasn't allowed to bring his crappy mage who does 60k dps so he brought his warrior who just dies all the time.  Kyxyn thought that he might have been doing it on purpose and said he wasn't allowed to come anymore. I THINK it was just lag, but Kyxyn was adamant that lag is the excuse of a crappy player who dies continuously to the same thing week after week. He felt that it was unfair that we run a Flex and we have to bring our mains but all these tag alongs bring their crappy alts.  And I can see his points.  Our guildies should be allowed to bring their alts to get gear, especially when we run it.  So, starting next week, we decided to change how we do Garrosh.  Mind you, we only wiped once, and we got it the second time, but it was one more wipe that we needed to have.

Sunday Flex was much more relaxed.  We had a HUGE turnout. Luxy's friend Bob brought his guild along to our flex so they could learn about the fights.  They've just starting with raiding and are up to Dark Shaman at the moment.  I did my usual opening flex talk outlining our rules and that everyone is here to have fun.  And OMG guess who joined us... CHIHAKO!  Chi is back (and just hit 90) but still on Dath'remar and I think he's considering coming over.  But, it was nice to see him and have another good player around - not sure if he's going to be tanking but that will help our numbers for WoD.  I am nervous, thinking about this Mythic raiding thing. It means we will have to run a few subs as well - like we do now - to make sure we can make things run smoothly. I hope that heroic raiding will just have our same attitude as our normal mode raiding and people will not turn into elitist asshats.  Well, it won't, not if I have anything to say about it.

So we did to Nazgrim, and then afterwards we had to do a huge cull so we could do Thok quickly... and we died on Spoils /facepalm.  Bad bombs.  But Thok was crazy easy and I was happy because I got my trinket, yay!  I hope it makes a difference to my healing, because I will miss the extra mana!

So, we are considering dumping the Sunday raiding and turning Flex into Saturday.  Two days of Flex is too much.  And now we can get a group, we can probably do 2 wings + wing 4, and with Saturday night being the weekend we can run a little late hopefully without having people worry about the work thing.  I don't think Concur will miss us - I think they want to raid on Saturdays now anyway.  We'll see how that goes - it will be nice to get some WoW time back that's not a raid.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Frostwolves Bedtime Story Strats - The tale of the Fallen Protectors

"Can you tell me that story about Aunty Luxy and Uncle Sev again?" asked my daughter.

"Which story was that?" I asked. I think Sev and Luxy would be horrified to hear that they had their own story... especially considering the kinds of stories I like reading.

"The one where Uncle Sev wouldn't give Aunty Luxy the ball."

Ohhhh.... THAT story!

"Of course I'll tell you that story!  That story is called the Tale of the Fallen Protectors.  It's a bit of a long story though."

"I like long stories."


Once upon a time in Pandaria, which was the land the Pandas lived in, it was peaceful and calm.  The reason it was so calm, because the Panda king took all his bad feelings and buried them deep in the ground so that he could stay strong and wise, and not be scared or sad.  But the Panda king didn't know that by doing that, new monsters would grow, called Sha, and they were full of bad feelings and bad energiy. And every now and then, a Sha would come out of the ground and hurt people.

There have to be protectors and guardians for things to stay calm (a bit like policemen), otherwise bad things could happen and nobody could stop them.  There was a clan called...

"What's a clan?"

"It's like a family.  A group of people who all get together to do the same thing.  But they're not real family, they're just really good friends who stay together."

... there was a clan called the Golden Lotus and it was their job to protect the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, which is where you can see lots and lots of yellow grass and where you can find our castle, called the Shrine of the Two Moons.  The baddies, or Alliance, who fight us all the time are there too, in their castle on the other side of the Vale which is called Shrine of Seven Stars.  We can't go there, or they'll kill us.

Anyway, the Golden Lotus are friends with everybody.  They used to ask us to help them to get rid of bad evil statues, called Mogu, who kidnap Pandas and hurt them and we'd have to go rescue the kidnapped Pandas.  Sometimes we had to go to one of the villages where naughty Sprites would keep setting fire to everything and we had to put out the fires and kill the Sprites.

"What's a sprite?"

"It's like a bad naughty fairy who does naughty things. Some Sprites are very naughty."

There were three people in the Golden Lotus who were very important.  Rook Stonetoe was a BIG Panda, who was loyal, a gentle friend but could be a terrible enemy if you made him angry.

"What's loyal mean?"

"It means you're a good friend, it means you will always stay and support someone, like a soldier."

Then there was He Softfoot - he was a ninja and he never spoke.  When he asked us to do stuff, he would do drawings on the ground or pieces of paper.  Ninjas are really dangerous - they can poison you or attack you from behind and you wouldn't even know he was there - he was THAT sneaky. Sun Tenderheart was one of the ones who welcomed us to the Golden Vale when we first came, and she wanted us to be friends.

"Was she a ninja too?"

"No, I think she was a priest.  She uses magic."

Then, one day, Garrosh Hellscream, who was our leader but turned BAD, found a big secret. Deep in the ground someone had buried the heart of an old evil God, Y'shaarj.  Garrosh dug it up and dumped it into the beautiful magic ponds of the Vale and woke up the sleeping heart.  But all the sha felt the energies from the bad sleeping heart mixing with the magic pond and their energies mixed into all that magic and caused a GIANT EXPLOSION which made the beautiful Golden Vale into a black ugly place.  Many people died, including the good people from the Golden Lotus clan - Rook, Sun and He.  It was very sad because as they died, they were full of sad feelings - being scared, being sad and feeling like they messed up.  The feelings were so strong, that they got stuck here as ghosts, so miserable and upset that they couldn't protect the Golden Vale from the big damage that was done.  And the only way they could go to heaven, was if someone killed their ghosts, so they could go to heaven and be happy.

"Why didn't they become zombies?" my daughter asked.

"You can only become a zombie if your body was still there.  The big explosion burned all their bodies to dust. So they can only become ghosts."

Mama and her friends went to go try and kill their ghosts so they could go to heaven.  We had too many people again and Uncle Sabre decided not to play again.

"Again? But he didn't play last time."

"I know, but he sometimes has things to do.  That's ok, we'll bring him next time."

"I don't think it's very fair."

"He'll be alright.  I told you, he has too much treasure already."

It was a little bit hard because there were 3 people to kill, and you had to kill them all at the same time, because even though one was dead, the others were still alive and they could make themselves come alive again whilst the others were still alive.  Uncle Xyn made a plan - we would hit Rook first, then He then Sun.

Uncle Xyn said he would take Rook and Uncle HK would take He and fight them far apart so that nobody would get hit by both Rook and He, because that would hurt a lot.  Uncle HK had to be careful because  He would use some poisons to make Uncle HK get frozen, and then while Uncle HK was frozen, He would go off and hit someone else really hard, and they might die.  But there was a trick to it - if Uncle HK turned his back to He and got hit in the back with poison, he wouldn't get stuck, he would just get kicked really far away.

"That's not very nice."

"No, but they're bad, and they're ghosts, so they don't do nice things anyway."

Sun would use her magic and try to burn us, and also she would put dirty sticky black magic on us that Uncle Morz and Mama would have to clean off.  Uncle Asys was really lazy with his cleaning magic, so Mama wouldn't let him do it.

"Why was he lazy?" asked my daughter.

"I think he just didn't want to do it."

"But why?"

"Because Uncle Asys likes having Mama yell at him."

"I thought you said that you're not supposed to yell at people."

"Even if I yell at Uncle Asys he doesn't do what I tell him anyway.  Just like your brother."

Everyone started hitting Rook.  Rook got mad and threw a barrel of beer at us and you mustn't stand where it's going to land because it hurts you and makes you move slow!  When his health went down by a little bit, 3 bad shadows came out.  They were called Gloom, Misery and Sorrow - which are all names of sad feelings.  Gloom did some really painful scream that hurts everyone around him so everyone had to take turns to kick him to make him shut up.  Sorrow made one person into a bomb, and everyone had to run in and stand next to them so they can help share some damage.  Uncle HK took Misery away so he couldn't hurt people - Misery liked putting fire on the ground.  Mama and Uncle Morz and Uncle Asys were very busy when those 3 shadows were up because there was SO much healing to do.

"Why can't you just put water on the ground?"

"It doesn't work like that, it's not real fire, it's kinda like magic fire."

"Then why can't you use magic water?"

"It just doesn't work. You have to kill it to make the magic fire stop."

When the shadows were dead, then everyone started hitting He.  When He's health went down a bit, he threw out a ball which made a ghost come and hit you REALLY HARD.  You could hold the ball for a little bit, but after a while that ghost hits you so hard you die.  Uncle Aza got it first, and he held it as long as he could, and then he gave it to Uncle Exray.  Uncle Exray held it until the ghost hitting him got really ouchie, and then he gave it to Uncle Sev.  Uncle Sev wanted to see how long he could hold the ball without dying - he was supposed to give the ball to Aunty Luxy, but he just kept holding it and he held it too long and do you know what happened?

"He died?" said my daughter.

"Yes, he died.  And Uncle Aza had to make him come alive again!"

"He didn't share the ball with Aunty Luxy, and that's why he died right?"

"Yep,  That's why he died.  That's why I said it's good to share.  You don't want to DIE because you didn't share, do you?"

"Why didn't he want to share?"

"I think Uncle Sev was trying to be brave and show off and hold it as long as he could."

"But why?"

"Because Uncle Sev thought he could do it."

"But why?"

"You'll have to ask Uncle Sev next time you see him."

"I don't want to, I'm shy. Do you think Aunty Luxy was sad she didn't get to hold the ball?"

I grinned.  "I think Aunty Luxy was very happy NOT to have the ball, because she doesn't like to have ouchies!"

After we killed all 3 of those shadows, then everyone started to hit Sun.  When Sun's health got a bit low, she made a black bubble in the middle of the floor and turned all the rest of the floor around it into black fire and she disappeared!  The black fire hurt a lot to stand in, and everyone except Uncle Hk and Uncle Xyn had to stand in the black bubble, and some little Sha monsters came out and we had to kill them.

"Is it like Uncle Morz's bubble?"

"A little bit, you don't get hurt so much inside the bubble but it still hurts a little bit."

After everyone killed the little sha monsters, the bubble and the black fire went away.  Then we had to do it all over again.

"Why did you have to do it again?"

"Because this fight you have to do it twice before you kill them."

"But why?"

"Because that's what they want you to do so it's a little bit hard."

When they finished all their bad painful things, we had to try to kill them all at the same time so none of the ghosts came alive again and much up our fight!  But, we managed to do it, yay!  We killed all 3 ghosts and then Rook, He and Sun could go to heaven in peace.  Yay, we all got treasure!

"Yay! What else did you get?"

"Well, Uncle HK got some really good shoes, and Uncle Xyn got something to wear on his shoulders that made him look pretty."

"Did you get anything?"

"Actually, Mama got a cricket cage, like in Mulan.  It's really cool, I really liked it."

"Oh I saw that one.  I wish I had one."

I kissed her on the head.  "Maybe when you're older.  But for now, that's the end, and time to go to sleep."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And so Challenge Modes will depart.... but they shall return

It was Askevar who first brought to my attention that Challenge modes will be gone in 6.0, and she offered to invite people from Frostwolves to join as socials to Band of Misfits so they could access the Thundering Serpent Hatchling.  I have mine from Apotheosis, but had hoped to be able to get a guild one happening - Challenge Mode Noobs could only manage silvers, and despite completing my golds, trying to get a guild one going is tough.  However Aza, Owl and Lushen also have their golds but was not done within guild - but the three of them have embarked on getting their next toons their golds which has been great because that means the guild will get the achievement as well (you only need 3 in the party to get it).

But Challenge modes are returning in 6.0, which Ian Hazzikostas confirmed:

There are a slew of achievements for completing challenge modes, as well as getting all the medals.  I remember when they first came out, I thought it was great - it was something that allowed skilled players to compare themselves to others, and it wasn't gear which made you the good player - it really was skill as everyone was 463 ilvl.

The Grumpy Elf's post "I support removing Challenge Modes" had the shock factor title that is so typical of TGE, but upon reading it he touched upon things which I hadn't considered.
Challenge modes were designed with the concept of the game we have now. The game we have now is changing incredibly next expansion. Not just a minor change in abilities or what they do but huge sweeping changes and all those changes will effect challenge mode balancing.

Hit and Expertise will be gone.  Fewer gem slots.  Less enchants. Stats squishing.  What does that mean for challenge mode gear?  It might mean there will be certain CM BIS you have to get just so you can get it done... and who knows what bugs may play up scaling new items down to 463.  Removing them altogether and making a new WoD is just fine, and there will be new ones for Warlords of Draenor for those who want to keep doing them, with new rewards, so I now agree with TGE about their removal.  Imagine the programming nightmare!

Personally, I love challenge modes.  I love pushing myself, seeing what I can and can't do, and at the moment trying to be as cheapass as I can get when running them (cheap food, cheap buff etc).  I feel like because I've done them I am a half decent healer, maybe not a fantastic one but at least decent.  I still doubt my abilities because I am unable to get Proven Healer as a druid, when everyone says it's so easy.  Yes I have my golds, but I will always feel like I've been carried there.  In Proving grounds, I still get stuck halfway through wave 28, and I've put it down as I may be good but I'm not THAT good.  Lucky it's not some kind of test to get into raiding or anything.

There's still a fair bit of time to do your challenge modes if you want the gear or the mount.  Thunderspank had a good run for challenge modes with pugs from OpenRaid, and I know Riptyde often pulls people from OQ.  There are people who want to do them, like you, looking for the right group, and maybe just maybe, you might find that one person in a 100 who might make it onto your friends list.  But make sure you're confident in your healing, if you're a healer!  Or you could end up with a rather shameful dent in your ego.

Old Ri and the Million Souls

I saw this book on the ground at the Inn at Halfhill the other day and it made me think a little about what is real.

Old Ri and the Million Souls
Late one autumn evening, two good friends sat on the deck behind the Lazy Turnip Inn. Below them slumbered the quiet farming town of Halfhill. The midnight air was cool on the skin. A thin misting fog had begun to coat the green hills of the valley below with dew, and the spire of the Imperial Granary stood out as a dark shadow against the brilliant canvas of the stars overhead.

And evening of good food and many hours smoking the native herbs had put the two friends in a contemplative mood.

Zhi - the younger and more tightly wound of the two companions - suddenly asked a very pointed question: "What if none of this is real?"

His old friend Ri, who had until now been leaning back with his hat over his eyes, lifted up a straw brim to peer at his friend. "A serious question?" he said, his brown eyes gleaming intently.

Zhi swept his arm over the horizon, indicating the whole valley. "What if we are just images, drawn into someone's painting?" he asked. "What if we are characters in a book!"

Old Ri hugged his belly with both hands and bellowed a deep, contemplative laugh. He took the smoking pipe from his friend Zhi and set it aside.

"Behind the eyes sits a person's soul," Old Ri answered at last. "Their essence: the thinking, loving, emotional core of the being. My soul makes me real, as does yours."

And now Old Ri rose to stand beside his friend. He put his arm around Zhi's shoulder and drew his attention to the valley below. "See there below us, to our right? The farmer's market?" In the cool autumn darkness, the Halfhill Market was like an island of warm yellow light amongst the dark undulating hills. Colorful flags rippled in the chill breeze, and figures could be seen moving amongst the stalls, buying supplies or bartering the fruits of their labor. The sound of their voices and laughter, indistinguishable from one another but unmistakably alive, could be heard all the way to the inn.

"Those figures moving about, each of them has a soul," Old Ri continued. "And together, we share this space. Millions of souls, sharing one place together. Our place! Halfhill is real, so long as you and I are here together to enjoy it." Satisfied, Old Ri returned to his seat and motioned to the innkeeper for another drink.

Zhi lingered at the edge of the patio, resting his weight against the rough timber of the pillar. He breathed in the cool air, and watched fireflies dart amongst the waving starlit grasses of the fields below. "Ri," he said at last. "Painting or no... if our souls are to share a place, I would share no other with you."

Old Ri tipped his hat back over his eyes and answered with a warm rumble of agreement.

The sounds of the crickets mixed with the lively bustle of the market below lulled the two friends back into a blissful silence.


My character may not be alive, per se, as she can be described as a collection of pixels, a character in a game, but she is not sentient, nor autonomous in movement or thought.  She is real in the sense that she exists in game, that I interact with, and through her, I interact with others.

Our interactions within it ARE real - as our avatars are extensions of ourselves. We make them go where we want them to go, we fight together with people because we choose to.  When we ourselves are spread all over the world, what other place can we all come together but in the online one, in World of Warcraft? Truly, the game has brought us closer then a bunch of strangers ever thought possible.

For the non-believers, none of whom read this blog, the online world can be as richly rewarding as the real one.  There is soul behind every character, and there is heart. Nobody who plays this game and writes about it, can dispute that.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guildleader chores - Combining Skill mix, socials and new blood (TLDR version)

I have been looking at the guilds around us, and trying to see what I like about them and what I don't like, and to kinda get a vision of what I want from a guild.  The problem is, what if the vision I have ISN'T what my guildies want?

"I've got a dream, I've got a dream!" - Rapunzel in Tangled
I've said in previous posts, that the culture I have been trying to promote is a casual raiding guild, with a social aspect.  But it would be unrealistic and unreasonable to assume that the Frostwolves concept of social is the same as every other player's concept of single.

Social can mean a constant stream of chatter, with people to talk to.  To tell you the truth, that's not what I want from a social guild.  What I want from a social guild is somewhere you can play, where people are pleasant and it's ok if they keep to themselves, but as long as they don't straight out ignore you when you speak to them directly, or fill guild chat with abusive or offensive yabbering, then it's ok.

Sometimes people may think that's a bit stifling, because they want to talk with their friends.  By all means, party up and talk to them - if you want to have a boyish chat about hot chicks, or a stereotypical male conversation and make some comments that would offend some more sensitive people then do it in party or whispers with your mates. Same thing goes if you're wanting to have a girly chat about how your boyfriend doesn't know how to turn you on and you start getting explicit - hey, what you do in your private chats has nothing to do with me, but the guild in general doesn't really want to know those intimate details.

Neri and Casa said to me that Frostwolves was dreadfully silent when I wasn't on, and that really is what it's like during the day.  Peak activity is after work (ie from about 6pm still midnight server time) because we're all working. I may potter around during the day online whilst I'm at work, but it's not REALLY online doing group things, as I can't commit to any sorts of activity whilst working.  Solo content is pretty much all I can manage whilst I'm at work - even though most people would say I'd be lucky to play at work anyway, I could just as easily be playing Candy Crush or Sudoku or browsing the net during quiet times.  So people will know that during the daytime server hours, I very rarely maintain conversation, I have lots of AFKs - in general, not that much fun to be around.

So yeah, my guild isn't always the chatty type of guild.  However, when  are on, and free, we are chatty, but it takes a while to break the ice when you're new. I think I tend to be the super chatty one, but it's usually in whispers, checking that everything is ok.  A lot of people in the guild are shy and don't say much.  I remember one person who joined the guild said it was too quiet for him, and he asked if he could invite some friends to make it more lively.  From experience, this is how guild chat can become a distraction and irritating, so since that isn't hte culture of guild I'm trying to promote, I told him no.

The raiding aspect is important for me - it's what I enjoy, and a lot of our members think the same. The frictions in raiding come from different skillmixes and outlooks.  There is a whole lot of things which, when put together, can cause an explosion.  How do you deal with a group of people who all want to do the same thing - raid - but whose goals and skills are very different?

I think there are a few very important things here.  The first, is INSIGHT.

Insight is the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something. This bit is really hard. In our raids, we think about it a lot and try to be fair to everyone - it is almost impossible to be perfectly fair. Honesty and transparency make it more manageable and the right people will understand that.  And that is the key to success for us, I think - selecting the people that will understand our version of fair and be able to abide by those values.

The second, is TOLERANCE. To be a good teacher, you have to be able to accept that not everyone can do things at the same pace. Encouragement, not belittlement or punishment, is the key to success. But, there are only so much encouragement before you do start to lose patience.... /mutters to self about Asys dispelling during Protectors.... (I swear he does it on purpose to rile me up). But, raiders who think they are too good for the raid, and constantly say that, will inevitably lead to tension.

The third, is COMMUNICATION.  I don't mean only talking. I mean setting out the rules before anyone starts, so that they know what to expect, being transparent and open. Also, getting to know what the individual wants and letting them know what you want, and trying to find a medium. I am fortunate that Kyxyn, my raid leader is a teacher and I also have a major role in training and education of my juniors. We like to think we know how to talk to people who need assistance, and also because we both work in areas that are servicing the public, we spend a lot of time dealing with people who think they should be getting this or that, and don't lose our cool or get angry when dealing with difficult people, because in our line of work it will only make your job even MORE difficult. That's not to say we don't go complaining about it afterwards over a drink or two.

I spoke to three people this past week about joining the guild. The first person was an amazing healer, I really admired him, but upon speaking with him, I realised that our goals and values and raiding ideals were vastly different. I think of myself as a competitive healer, and I thought that this person was like that as well - and he probably was.  However, his idea of raiding was very different.  Because he thought he was better than the other healers, he thought that we would substitute him in to replace the other healers.  That was NOT what we were going to do. Everyone has earned their place in our raid team, and we didn't have space at the moment. Our philosophical differences were a huge red flag, and from experience, I knew he wouldn't be a good fit.  He wouldn't be happy long-term, and neither would we.  However, the conversation got WORSE...

(Off topic rant - you can skip this bit:
... the person said that they had played this game too long to be in a second class role, since Vanilla. I piped up and said that we had played since Vanilla. The he said that he would bet any money that he had been playing longer.  I asked if he had played since beta.  He said no. However Kyxyn has been playing since release, and this guy hadn't been playing since release, so Kyxyn trumped him.. AND THEN this guy said that  it didn't count if you played in Vanilla unless you were hardcore raiding, because otherwise it was a waste of time. I covered my mouth with a giggle of horror, because Kyxyn was the guild leader of the top guild on his server in Vanilla, and all top guilds knew each other.  It turns out of course that the guilds they were both in were familiar... but I told Kyxyn that this epeen flexing was getting too much, and he declared in officer channel that he didn't like this arrogant dick.  All I can say is... I was crushed - I had admired this person, had been looking FORWARD to the day that I could integrate them into my guild, only to find that they were all sorts of arrogance!  Though in fairness, his guild had just disbanded so he might have been feeling a little glum.)

Kyxyn and I decided that this person was not suitable for our guild and wished them well.

In contrast, there's the story of Jazz and Nath, who were also looking for a guild and after a chat about what our guild was like and what we were about, it turns out that our goals in game were very similar.  Jazz said to me that she and Nath were just looking for some casual raiding, and were happy to wait their turn if it came, and also would love to come to flex for their alts, and Garrosh. Their mains had ilvls of 566, they had raiding experience, they didn't demand any raid spots, we explained to them the guild philosophy and they were quite happy - I think they would fit in very well here! They moved all their level 90s over... WOW they have a lot of 90s! 8 and 9 each!

So how do you blend the different skillmixes and gaming aspects?

Some people are not high end players - they're not going to get Proven Healer/Tank/Damage.  Some people don't have the time to commit to researching and tweaking every little bit of their toon to perfect their DPS to punch out the maximum numbers.  Some people don't want to read fights and rather turn up not knowing what to do.  How do you blend the two together to make something work?

What I have been trying to aim for is a place where people can have the more competitive end raiding with like minded people - and yet also have a place where those who like to play with their guildies as a bunch of friends can also see raiding content.  Which is why Flex raiding is so absolutely brilliant for my guild.

Flex on Sunday is our relaxed raiding day.  We take ANYONE who is 90, regardless of ilvl as long as they can follow instructions.  It's perfect for Mabaho, Faithless, McTacky, and also for those who haven't got the time to commit to full time raiding, like Voros and Yig. Attendance is not compulsory, and though some people felt like it wasn't good that the other raiders didn't attend, it's actually great that they can have a break and not FEEL like they are having to carry people.  The only thing I am pretty insistent on is that the officers attend, and Kyxyn, myself and Aimei are always a constant at Flex.  Sev comes when he can, but usually it's kicking and screaming :P  I think that being an officer means that you should make the commitment to help the guild, which helps keep the number of officers down :P

In the time before Flex, I had a friend who wanted to fill in and raid but because we didn't have that capability, however substituting into normal raids didn't seem to be a viable option for a casual and we were substituting another regular raider in who was gearing up for normal raids (they were main switching) - progress is dependent on familiarity between tanks and healers. Unfortunately, my friend ended up leaving and quitting and I was a little sad, and I knew that inside it was because of the raiding, but the timing was just wrong.  Flex would have given the opportunity to play casually with a bit of seriousness in it, and I often wished that had my friend waited a bit longer, he could have played with us.  I've always considered that a personal failure, and have mulled over it constantly, wondering, if I had the same opportunity again, how I would handle it.

However, we can also cater to our more serious players, the ones who are competitive and want to push harder stuff.  Hell, most of the time I don't feel like I play on that field (everyone knows my mouse turning short comings and it takes me a few more goes than most to get the hang of fights like Amber-Shaper in HoF and the Mogu Emperors dance in MSV).  Here at least we can push ourselves and trust in the others to do their job (most of the time) so that we can do ours.

One of the mistakes I've seen with guilds like ours who have different types of players is to splinter off and have an "elite" progress team for raiding. The "we're too good to be seen with you" mentality inevitably drives a wedge between the raiding team and the second raiding team, so that if the elite team needs some spares or subs to fill in for players, the other group will likely have the "#@%$ you" attitude because they weren't good enough then, but now they could stick it to the leet team. Inevitably, a guild like that would not survive.

The other extreme is with another guild, who have players in key roles but really, were playing below standard. I was horrified at one of the players' ability, and had a quiet word to the GM about it, who said that the problem was well known but people didn't know what to do about it. When confronted, the person did not want to change. The sad thing is, that because of that person, the good players from their raid team started to leave and look for new homes.  Having to recruit again meant a whole new lot of undergeared and inexperienced players to train up again, which could potentially perpetuate the problem, as the experienced ones started to feel disillusioned.  I'm hoping that things work out for them, but I do worry that it's a big stress which could lead to a guild collapse.

Looking at those two very different guilds taught me a lot.

Highly competitive players, who have low tolerance for those who don't work as hard as them, and resent the fact they have to "carry" a raid, are not the kind of people that would work in my guild.  Especially if you look at a raid like a job application - where only the cream of the skill mix get to go, and if someone better comes along, they get slotted in over the lowest performer in the group.  Those people are best served and most happy in a guild where everyone is of similar abilities to them, and there is a bit of competition so they feel like they're earning their place, in an area with like minded people.  There is NOTHING wrong with that - it's just that the attitude of that person would not make them suitable for how I like to run my guild.  Players like that, would never think to help the Flex runs that we run, and would probably think those players are not worthy of attention.

Less skilled players can be really tricky.  Everyone thinks they play well - until they start to compare to others and you realise how far ahead of behind they are. Yes, people should be told that they are performing below par, and yes, they should try to fix themselves. But there are ways to tell people. It's a big difference between

"Hey, your healing is really bad, if you don't pick up, you're off the raid team."
"Hey, I'm surprised that with your gear level your numbers aren't as good as I would expect them to be - can I make a few suggestions?"

People can be prickly about their playstyle - I know this.  But someone that really belongs on our raid team is someone who can take suggestions in stride, and adjust and try to improve themselves.  Someone who can take suggestions and try their best to do better.  And, someone who understands that despite their best efforts, they aren't up to the task, and can step down graciously and accept they've tried their best but it isn't good enough for the raid team, but are happy to come and help with our Flex raid.  And, if they have difficulty following the instructions on multiple attempts, or if it's a gear problem in a more difficult part of the raid, we have made it clear early on that we expect those people to sit out until they gear up more on earlier parts of Flex so they will be able to survive the later parts without becoming a burden.  I say it at the start of every Flex, so nobody can tell me they didn't know, and if they don't like it, they can leave.

You'd think most people would be nice like this, right?  But they're not.  So far we have had only lovely people join our flex raids.  It's our normal raids where things get hairy. People get shitty when they turn up for raid at 9pm and then get asked to sit out, even though we have warned EVERYONE that this may happen, and that every now and then we might need people (though I cannot WAIT for WoD so we don't have to do that anymore! I know people are busy and waiting around for a raid that they might be able to attend is a waste of their time but the ones who are committed will get to sub in and raid eventually) . People get angry when told to do a certain task in a raid because it's beneath them.  People think they're entitled to get something over someone else because they're a better player. Well, I try my best to run a fair guild and the only thing that skews my opinion is guild loyalty. Being dedicated to making our guild a good place for everyone, respecting the rules and helping the guild as a whole over helping yourself is what makes you a member of Frostwolves.  And at this point in time, I can happily say that I am proud of every single one of my guild members, for helping my guild to be the great place it is at this moment.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Raiding - Taking Pride in our work

We were having bashes at Heroic Sha of Pride yesterday and it just felt like we weren't getting anywhere. We were consistently getting to 50% or so and people would die to Bursting Pride, or not getting their debuff off... Morz and I were pretty good with our dispels but when things got hectic it got a little crazy as we tried to keep dispels up and heal everything as well, and trying to get everyone ready for Bursting and swelling.

Sabre came along and he hadn't done Sha before but Kyxyn forgot that and was about to pull when I piped up about Sabre's little secret.

"Oh, that's fine," said Kyxyn.  "All you have to do is hit the boss."
Then came the loud chorus from the rest of us.
"What about the maze?" said Aza.
"And he has to DPS the projection as well, don't forget that!" said Owl.
"And the add at the back! You can't forget that!" I said.
"And the rifts?"
"Hey, I was getting to that! I hadn't finished yet!" said Kyxyn.
"But you said ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS HIT THE BOSS!" we all sang out.
"God, the lack of respect around here...." said Kyxyn.

Even Alariantha was laughing in Vent listening to our raid.

Getting rifts would also give us pride, and it was getting a bit full on trying to get all the dispels and rifts and when one of us healres was in the maze it would get a little bit hairy.  Sabre's first time in the maze made me feel better.  I think he might have tied with me for the equal shortest time surviving in the Pacman Maze.  And yeah, he turned around, like I did.  And when I was inside I was proud of myself for not dying. I had even forgotten to mouse turn - so I kb turned it.  I said to myself I would have to fix that when I finished the raid.

Aza was grouchy that we didn't dispel him.  But Morz and I dispel on cooldown so we are often struggling when idiots people run out of range for dispelling and the our so we have an 8 sec cooldown that's 5 seconds late because of range issues, so that when the next lot comes out we can't get them off straight away. But after looking at what was killing us, Morz and I made some adjustments.

He started calling out when Pride bursts were coming, so then both of us would clean off Marks before the burst and also people would stop trying to get a rift as well just before burst. I'd use a healing CD for one bursting and then save the other for the sub 30%.  Our pride was getting nuts.  I stopped running to help release people because I didn't want to miss heals on tanks or topping up people with the mark whilst we waited for our dispel cooldowns to be up.

So after an hour of wiping at 50%, our next one was at 37%.  That was really encouraging!  We had one attempt to 30% but most of the raid was dead by then and the tanks were trying to get it to 29% to say we had made progress.  But, the NEXT attempt we had everyone up at 30% and we bloodlusted and started going all out.  Thank goodness Morz and I had healing CDs up, so we had a tranq and a barrier to use for some times of big damage, and OMG we killed Sha!  Guild spam!!!!

We were so happy!  I didn't think that we'd get it tonight, I thought we'd be working on it and hopefully get it on Monday.  Kyxyn told me I was being a pessimist, but he and Aimei are just standing happily up that other end and have no idea what crazy running around is going on down the other end.

And the LOOT!  Wow, we had so many lucky rolls!  Luxy and Morz both rolled a Gaze of Arrogance (though poor Luxy would rather have a MH and shield than a 2H), Lushen rolled a Tier chest (WTB Lushen's lucky dice, OMG he rolled a loot on just about every heroic boss this week!) and I got the Tier chest and Kyxyn got Greatsword of Pride's Fall for offspec.  His ret gear has a higher ilvl than his tank gear!

Kyxyn is right - Vanquisher drops more than any other token.  But I'm not complaining!  Congratulations Frostwolves!  This has been an amazing week!  Onto Galakras!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Raiding - Confession: I am a palamino turner

Yes, that is me palamino turning.  What is that, I hear you ask?  Well, it's a term that Kyxyn had from his days from his hardcore raiding guild which describes keyboard turners.  Yes, that is me.  I never mouse turn. And it never really came up until today because I never really had to do anything.

Sabre didn't show up for raid on Monday night, and so Raked took his spot.  Norushen had a few funny hiccups to start - apparently Asys decided to try healing wearing his enhance gear and didn't realise until just before the second pull. Morz was having some bad connection issues.  I was busy chatting to people and I was hanging around just in case, but they didn't need me.  Norushen went down but it was messy as poop. Raked landed up with warforged Gloves of the Golden Protector, and Sev got Bracers of Broken Causation.  Morz rolled Sash of the Last Guardian.

Anyway onto Sha.  Luxy had a family emergency and had to go, so Morz stayed and Asys DPS'd and I came in. I wanted to see this maze that I read about, and I got ported in first go.  It really was like pacman!  But I failed because I ran into a ghost. Everyone was telling me to mouse turn, and ... I had no idea what they meant.  I thought they meant mouse run. 

So Xyn wanted me to practice mouse turning, as a laugh.  So I was running around with my mouse, and Kyxyn said.. that doesn't look like you're mouse turning, and I realised that I didn't know how to mouse turn (except for click to move and when I jump and face backwards in PvP to typhoon people away from me).  Then came the groans of dismay from my raid group.

"OMG, I am going to go and apply to Sanctity* right now..."
"I can't BELIEVE that you have been keyboard turning this WHOLE TIME...."
"How can you PvP without mouse turning?"
"Even my 6 year old daughter is a mouse turner..."
"ZOMG our GM ... is a keyboard turner... all this time... what's that 9 years?"

You get the idea.  Even after they explained to me how to do it (use your LEFT button to change where you're facing then click both buttons.....), I struggled with it.  I was practicing and Aza said.

"OMG are really doing this?  We are in the middle of a heroic raid and we are getting Navi to practice MOUSE TURNING??"

Anyway, the next time I went in, I died instantly because I turned around to try to get a yellow ball and got eaten by a Sha, or ran into a wall.  Well, you can imagine the teasing I got then.

"HOW can you die in like ONE SECOND..."
"NEVER turn around!  Keep going!"

I was cringing, but I love the idea of the pacman thing and I want to do it again so I can get it right.  But you can imagine that EVERYONE in the raid is hoping that I'm not going in there.

We had a few more goes at Sha, with Morz swapping to DPS whilst Asys healed.  The two of them did similar DPS but Morz did damage when he was healing since he was Disc, so I put him back to healing and Asys DPSing - besides, with Asys DPSing we got extra buffs for the melee (melee haste) and with Morz DPSing we didn't, as Owl already brought spell haste to the group.  Our best attempt was sub 50% but it's pretty intense, and the enrage timer seems generous - it's that final 30% which is gonna be UGLY!  I spent the next half hour after raid running around outside the Shrine on the lines practicing mouse turning... but even though I know how to do it, I don't like it, but I guess I should break my 9 year bad habit and keep persisting.

Let the eye rolling begin.

* Guild name changed

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Raiding - Achievements in Wing 1 Siege of Orgrimmar, Flex style

I managed to make the Saturday Flex with Concur, and surprisingly so did Aza.  Kyxyn, Aimei, Asys, Morz and Alariantha were also there and we had a few hiccups on Blackfuse, and also hiccups for Paragons.  At least it wasn't me this time - someone deposited a sawblade at the entrance to the conveyer belt and that caused it to get rather ugly.  Asys was tanking on his druid and there were some issues at first with 2 shredders being up, but he got onto that the next few times and that wasn't the issue later.

Now Paragons was interesting.  I have never seen parasites before - apparently that was because the bloods got to the boss (a few times) and healed them up and they were impossible to kill!  They just where too overwhelming and we had to wipe.  We used Kyxyn's kill order which still works the best and then it was onto Garrosh.

I don't think Garrosh was that bad.  We did have all the tanks die at the end and we had to polish it off, but it was done.  No heirlooms again.  Kyxyn was grouchy - 9 kills and nothing, and Luxy had 2 kills and had one! Well, that's how RNG works, right?

Sunday flex was different - we were going to do Achievements!  I think that was a bit of a surprise to me, because I wasn't expecting people to be keen, but Kyxyn was keen and if he was keen then I was too. I knew Luxy would want to and Ayelena, and so Kyxyn got onto his feral druid and Aimei solo tanked the first boss.  We had a number of new people as well - a pug I picked up from trade named Owned (a DK), and Alariantha's wife, Shammcow, and Luxy's hunter friend, Bobdown.  Faithless was also there for the first time on her shadow priest.  Luxy even came, and as usual, McTacky and Riptyde came.  Jurlok came for a short while and so did Nova, so with our own guildies our Flex was running at 15.

Immerseus - No more tears
This achievement was to defeat Immerseus after killing 10 Tears of the Vale.  What the hell are those, I hear you ask?  Well, if you hold a black blob away from Immerseus, preventing it from joining the pool, after a certain period of time it will change into a Tear of the Vale, a Pandaren spirit who looks sha-touched.  You should probably aim to do 3-4 each submersion, otherwise you could hit the enrage timer.  We did it with roots, void tendrils and knockbacks, and it went really easily when we assigned certain people to do it.  The best options were our lowest DPS because at least the others could concentrate on killing all the other blobs and these guys held back the blobs.  It worked really well, in 3 submerges we got our 10 and then we killed it.  Sev got on his monk for this fight to heal.

Fallen Protectors - Go Long
Clearly a football reference (rather than the financial reference) where you have to throw the ball far.  This achievement was for the Mark of Anguish to be passed to at least 5 different people over a distance of 200 yards.  Luxy's friend Bob put 4 markers up for 40 yards, and whomever got the Mark passed it to someone at a marker who then passed it to someone else at a marker.  Obviously they had to hold back on DPSing the Embodied Anguish so we had enough time to pass the Mark around.  But the corners thing worked really well!

Norushen - None Shall Pass
This achievement was to not allow any unleashed corruption to fuse with the Amalgam of Corruption. Kyxyn said that the way to do this achievement was to not have any DPS go into the zone so that no small adds spawn.  Tanks and one healer would need to go, so they could soak orbs, but that was about it.  Everyone else was going to have to burn the boss.  DPS would have to try to avoid getting 100% corruption so they could continue DPSing the boss.  It was actually pretty easy to get the achievement after that.

Sha of Pride - Swallow your Pride
To get this achievement, you're not supposed to get any pride from the Manifestation of Pride (the add that spawns at the back). We thought that meant interrupt it from shooting us, but it's when it dies that's the problem - the 2 closest people will gain 2 pride.  The solution was to have 2 people with the Gift of the Titans stand closest to the manifestation because they don't gain pride.  Worked well on normal, but on Flex, it was too difficult to get the manifestation down fast enough and so the buff had worn off by the time the manifestation died so we didn't get the achievement for everyone.

In Wing 2, some of the achievements are crazy easy.

Galakras - The Immortal Vanguard
This achievement just does itself in Flex, I guess because we take out the baddies fast enough so that none of the friendly NPCs die.  But boy did that ball go places that it wasn't supposed to go!  Lucky it was Flex. Rellim and Tri turned up and joined our flex - a shame they hadn't come for our Wing 1 achieves.

Iron Juggernaut - Fire in the Hole!
This acheivement was the exception to the rule of Wing 2 achieves being easy.  You have to superheat a crawler mine (but running the laser over it) then you have to stomp on it.  It was too hard to get it done in Flex.  We wiped once and tried again but we couldn't get the laser over the mines.  The positioning of the raid was different as well, which threw me out a bit, but maybe with a bit of practice we can get it next time. For the first time in a long time, I was BOTTOM healer.  Man!

Dark Shaman - Rescue Raiders
A lot of the guys you need to rescue are yellow (neutral) so it's easy for them to get in the firing line, especially with AoE.  There are the 5 neutral orcs in front of the bank that we cc'd and then they ran away after we killed the hostile orcs around them.  There are also 2 Theramore citizens on the side near the AH that we did the same to - but apparently you don't need to do both groups, but just to be on the safe side...! Letting the guy out of the cage after you kill Mokuar gets you the caged prisoner, and Ji Firepaw is easy to rescue coz he's just out there.  And you're done!  Tri went up with Kyxyn to tank the top section whilst we did the bottom.  Rellim made my healing look really crap!  Damned Disc priests.

Nazgrim - Gamon will save us!
Releasing Gamon and then letting him fight the demon whilst we all jump over the side and go kill Nazgrim seems to be the way to do this achievement.  Easy on Flex, as long as you don't wipe.  If you wipe, you probably won't get the achievement since Gamon might die.  Having Gamon in the room with Nazgrim is damned painful unless you assign him a full time healer and people are good with controlling Nazgrim's rage so he doesn't Warsong all the time.  Lucky we one shot Nazgrim and got this achievement for everyone.

Faith got some upgrades which was great, and I am not sure who else got stuff - I know I got some DE's. I'm pleased with how that flex turned out - even the pug DK was THINKING about joining, though he was looking for raiding experience which unfortunately we can't provide at this stage.  I still wish we could do wing 3 though - perhaps that will be on the cards next Sunday!