standing at the back in my sissy robe

July 13, 2009

The Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is now recruiting!

Filed under: Altaholism,Real Men Wear Purple,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 1:03 pm

Since the weekend renders me even more pointless and frivolous than usual (when I’m not wrecking all my gear) and I have recently committed to overcoming my WoW prejudices, M’Pocket Tank and I rolled up a couple of dwarf hunters, on the assumption that the best way to explode prejudices is to embody them all.

Alliance. Shudder.

Dorf. Shudder.

Hunter. Shudder.

And, omg, it’s the most fun in the world.

Seriously.

I could throw my sissy robe aside right now and start a new blog called bignosebiggun.wordpress.com.

Well … okay … maybe not.

But it’s still that much fun.

Here is my mighty level 10 dorf:

My First Dorf!

My First Dorf!

Isn’t he just fabulous? I particularly like the belt with the heart on it, I think that’s a nice touch. I have to say, I’m getting a sexually ambivalent vibe from him. I think it’s the perfectly groomed beard and the waxed moustache. Also you can’t tell from this angle but he’s got a long, flowing ponytail that would shame a belf.

Also check out his potent pig! I can’t tell you how much I love my pig. It’s a war machine, that beast, I tell, you a war machine. She’s called Empress after the Empress of Blandings, another sterling hog.

Unfortunately, I’m slightly fearful that I’ve inadvertently mistreated her. When I first made sweet sweet love to her by, err, hitting her in the face with a concussive shot to slow her down and then crooning sonnets while she lumbered, dazed and confused, in my direction, she was naturally, well, a little bit unhappy afterwards. M’Pocket Tank suggested I feed her as a way of cheering her up.

Well, I just wasn’t prepared. I don’t go out into the wilderness with my pockets stuffed full of pigfood on the off chance some sweet little porcine is going to catch my eye. A brief investigation indicated that she would especially enjoy some meats so I rummaged through my amo and cracked boar tusk stuffed bags in search of something that would satisfy the new companion of my future life. I finally got my eye on some mouldering ribs I had stashed in there and duly handed them over.

Several ribs down, she had, in fact, cheered up immensely. In fact, she loved me. It was very gratifying.

It was then that I realised I’d been gleefully feeding her portion after portion of … beer-basted boar ribs.

Uh. Whoops?

I made a cannibal pig.

I feel quite bad about that.

Anyway, cruelty to animals aside (I’m a bit embarrassed that concussive shot forms such an important part of my seduction routine, it strikes me as being the equivalent of Rohypnol), being a dwarf hunter is such crazy crazy fun that M’Pocket Tank and I decided to embrace the Nesingwary lifestyle and do it properly.

The idea is to level doing only quests that dwarf hunters would appreciate and shooting vast quantities of random animals en route, which I’m embarrassed to note shows no sign of getting old. We were on our way to return some lost ammo to a bally silly chap, dontchaknow, and the pleasure of shooting things with guns swept over us with such intensity that we’d actually banged and tallyhoed our way across half the map (in the opposite direction from the amoless fellow) without even noticing.

In fact, we were so tickled by the idea of being proper Dwarven hunters that we made a guild for it: the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club.

(Isn’t it ridiculous? I’m now the founding member of 2 entirely silly guilds, and I can’t find an actual guild to save my life).

So if any EU-based bloggers fancy doing something silly with me and M’Pocket Tank, roll yerself a dorf hunter (or another kind of hunter, I guess) on Emerald Dream and come join the, err, madness. I should probably also say that the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is not a sexist establishment: they welcome fillies, too, of course, if they’re the right sort of filly.

Hmmm… I suppose I’d better make my recruitment pitch. I haven’t quite had the courage to blast this out over General but, heh, give me time…

The Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is now recruitin sound but not necessarily diminutive fellows, interested in huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. We have a spiffin’ tabard and a jolly fine trophy cabinet, tally ho, what what!

And, look, here is a thoroughly splendid picture of the members of the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club poised on the brink of adventure…

Oh I say, jolly fine view!

Oh I say, jolly fine view!

I think the plan is to get them to The Barrens to hunt kodos… and, some day, of course dinosaurs! The more fuck off enormous they are, the better!

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July 8, 2009

there was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy

Filed under: Altaholism,D'oh,Sweets for the Sweet — Tamarind @ 12:56 pm

This is a story about love failure.  Topical, huh?  But I think it’s also a story about success.   Here we go.

M’Pocket Tank and I are still Northrend avoidant, especially since I’m now not sure Arthas himself could truly live up to the joy of saving 20 baby murlocs, so we’ve been concentrating mainly on alts.

As well as M’Pocket Tank, I have another victim friend I have generously introduced to the pleasures of WoW and she’s been doggedly levelling a cowtank.  I have run around the world a little bit with her, usually providing DPS backup with the prettiest elf (burn baby burn!), but apart from an RFC run way back when, we haven’t really had much opportunity to instance.  And, instancing, of course is the crucible in which a tank is truly forged.  Being of a pedagogic bent, I have attempted to communicate a fair bit of tanking theory as we’ve been levelling but it truly is the blind leading the blind.  I have tanked a bit but, as I have said before, it’s not my natural role.  On the other hand, I guess I’m better than nothing.  Maybe.  Hrm.

And let’s not forget tanking, especially warrior tanking in vanilla WoW, is bloody hard.  You can’t just pop consecrate and have the world fall down and you’re still in the process of actually accruing the tools that allow you to do the job (Temi wrote a rather cool post awhile back on the surprising difficulties of low-level WoW). But, despite my inadequacies as a teacher, there was a definite mental click somewhere around level 40 in which the theory slid into place.

The practice, however, well, that was still to come.

Between self, M’Pocket Tank and Cowfriend, we now have 3 characters, at 60 or in the low 60s.  My boomdruid, M’Pocket Tank’s lock and our new-found cowtank.

“Let’s do Ramps!” I cried. “We’ll sail through with 3! Ramps is easy!”

Uh right.  Yeah.

Well it was carnage.

Mainly because the lock and the drood played like absolute noobtards.  I was supposed to be healing off-spec but the DPS Demon kept whispering in my ear that Ramps was easy so I might as well do some DPS while I was standing there.  So I’d be doing that and then the tank would die.  I know, I know, I’m an idiot.  I’ll spare the lock’s blushes by not going into details about dodgy pet handling.   And, of course, Cowfriend was actually desperately putting all that theory into practice, baptism of fire style, so sometimes things would Just Go Wrong.

There was a lot of talking and a lot of wiping.  A lot of post-game analysis.  “So what went wrong there.” Sigh.

At about this point, we decided to accord Ramps the respect it deserves.  M’Pocket Tank (or rather M’Pocket Lock) went off to respec destro just because.  Less minion micro-management more BURN, I think, was the reasoning behind that.  Cowfriend completely overhauled her UI.  And I slunk sheepishly off to Moonglade to subdue the DPS demon once and for all.

Yes.  I did it.  I went tree.

We reassembled to take another crack at Ramps.  Literally hours had gone by at this point and we hadn’t even seen the nose of the first boss. You’d have thought we were tweaking for Ulduar, the way we went on.  Progress was still slow but so much better than before.  The DPS demon rode M’Pocket Tank hard but, even though I could hear her cackling like a manic at her DPS, somehow she controlled it.

And doofus here actually pulled his finger out and did his fecking job.  I’ve gotta say, though, those HoTs are hot!  It’s amazing how being a tree focuses the mind.  It’s slightly disconcerting, though, to be so absolutely vulnerable.  I mean, apart from barkskin, what does a poor tree have to protect itself?  Nothing, that’s what.  A sad expression.  And the vain hope that the enemies will feel damn silly wailing on a helpless tree.  Also, I know a tree is smaller than a cow, but I still had real trouble seeing past my own floofy branches when I was trying mark.

Stealth tree I is not.

It was a huge learning experience for everybody.  It wasn’t just a question of a new UIs and new specs, it was learning to work together effectively as a team, which 3-manning absolutely demands.  Playing mainly with M’Pocket Tank makes it easy to overlook the importance of trust and teamwork.  We take each other, and our tank-healer relationship, for granted.  I was surprised by how difficult it was to learn to trust a new tank.

One of our more ignominious wipes occurred because I was so busy trying to draw the tank’s attention to a caster lurking at the back that I, err, forgot to heal her.  Yes, I am covered in shame.  My branches are drooping, my leaves are blushing.

“Sorry, guys,” I said, as we jogged back to our corpses, “I was worrying about the caster at the back.”

“Don’t apologise,” said Cowfriend, “but I should be the one worrying about the caster at the back.”

And that was the moment when I let go.  I realised I absolutely had to.  There was nothing more, as a teacher, I could do.  Trying to backseat tank AND heal is actually impossible. It was time for Cowfriend to stop listening to me and become her own tank.

That was the moment when it all came together, theory and practice. And we were flying.  Down went the first boss.  Down went the large groups of caster mobs.  Down went the room o’doom, despite a mild case of over-pull.  The weakest link was actually me.  It’s the first time I’ve ever tried to manage HoTs.  It’s so much more flexible than holy priest healing but, uh, you kind of have to know what you’re doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

So, we rolled up to Omor the Unscarred, all psyched up to scar him but good.  “This is a straight tank ‘n’ spank,” explains Idiot Of The Week (yes, it’s still me).  “Charge!”

And so we charged.

The thing is, every time I’ve done Ramps previously (and I’ve done it a lot, although from this entry you probably wouldn’t think it) we’ve had so much onboard firepower that he went down so quickly it was like he was made of wet spaghetti.  I actually always used to think he was pointless.  Omor The Pointless I used to call him.

So, I didn’t know he summoned an army of gambolling felpuppies.

I didn’t know he’d take to tossing the tank into the air like a ragdoll.

In fact I was so busy going “omfgwtf” that our DPS spent most of the fight dead on the floor.  I may never hear the end of it.

But, somehow, Cowfriend tanked every single felpuppy and very very very slowly prodded Omor to death while my HoTs rolled and rolled and rolled.  It was a looooong fight.  By rights, we should have given up.  But we didn’t.  And, by God, victory was sweet.

We didn’t, however, take down Nazan.  We had a couple of goes but we were exhausted and it was late.  Perhaps this would be a better story if I could have said we did.  But, actually, although it consists, in many ways, of a long string of failure, what it also includes was recognisable, incremental improvement.  The first time we tried Nazan, he just blatted us because the tank couldn’t convince him to stop munching on the tree (you’re a fucking dragon, try the STEAK!).  The second time it was my fault because I lost my HoT rhythm and, in the split second when none were rolling, Nazran crispy-fried the tank.  I’m pretty damn sure, though, that the next time we try him, he’ll fall.

But I’ll remember this run, and I remember no others.  Ramps has always been little more than routine for me.  It feels genuinely good to have engaged with the content in the way, perhaps, it was intended.  As the first Outland instance, Ramps is forgiving but I can’t imagine the designers sitting around at Blizzard HQ going “hey, y’know Ramps, let’s make it a meaningless cake walk.”

I guess what I’m trying to say was that this run meant something to me.  I think we all learned a lot from it, and from our failures.  I think we fought the good fight, and I think we were honourably beaten.

In short: I’d far rather fail well than succeed badly.

July 1, 2009

punting from both ends

I about to disappear to Cambridge for a couple of days on a conference so there will be a brief hiatus in the WoWblogging.  Alas!  Unless it’s insanely dull in which case, I’m sure, there will be a deluge of WoWblogging, difficult though it is to blog about WoW without the inspiration of, err, WoW.

I do have a few musings, however.  None of them would constitute a full entry so I will therefore present them as they come, in a heap of undigested thoughts.

I Tank In French

I tanked a guild run of Wailing Caverns a couple of nights back.  As I’ve said before I don’t think I’m a natural tank.  People tend to gravitate towards roles and although platemail and I don’t actively repel each other we definitely exist in an uneasy harmony.  Even melee DPS doesn’t do much for me.  I guess if there isn’t a sissy robe involved, I’m not interested.  Also I haven’t had much practice so I’m tanking mainly on theory.  I know what I’m meant to be doing, but there’s still a bit of a gap (mind the gap between the tank and the platform!) between the realisation and the activity.

I think people involved in the academic study of videogames talk a bit of about what they call the “grammar” of games – all a bit structuralist for my postmodern tastes, but it’s an interesting way of thinking about the interaction of the game mechanics and the game itself.  Like learning any language, there’s a point at which grammar becomes instinctive and inherent.  When you say “I would like it if you could attend my dinner party” you’re not consciously parsing the conditional subjunctive.  Yer just talkin’.

Healing, for me, is like that.  Of course, I’m still improving my comma placement and deploying the occasional audacious semi-colon but, for the most part, by the time I’ve thought “a CoH would really help things about now” I’ve already used it, and have moved onto the next thing.

The grammar of tanking, though, isn’t there yet for me, and given my lack of a natural enthusiasm for the role, it sure is taking its time to get here.  So I think my tanking is like my French.  I can do it if I concentrate but it’s just not elegant.  And occasionally people will cringe and ask me, for the love of God, to just speak English, please.

Je voudrais taunt you now, you morceau de merde.

Je vous frapperai avec mon sword enorme.

Please send for the concierge, I appear to have a frog in my bidet.

Shut Your Eyes and Trust in Me

There was something else faintly bewildering about this run.  It was me tanking, M’Pocket Tank healing, and 2 random shadow priests we picked up.  We were, I think, within the level range but it was pretty straightforward.  If only I’d had my WoWcock with me, I’m sure he’d have had something to say on the subject.  I guess it’s been NERFED.  For the casuals. Anyway, despite my poor command of the grammar, I was tanking absolutely adequately.  I might even go so far as to say ‘well’.  The group was pretty competent (although it’s hard to tell at low levels – you don’t really have enough tools at your disposal to be able to fuck things up as comprehensively as you might like) and quite nice.

Except I kept seeing this golden gleam out of the corner of my eye.  It turned out that one of the shadow priests – the one in the heirloom gear, no less – was Power Word Shielding himself continually.  I tried to chalk it up to Bizarrolandia but bitchy bloody mindedness got the better of me and finally I whispered him to ask why.

“In case I pull aggro,” he said.

Uh?  Right.  I could understand if you’re soloing but, seriously?  Except in the case of arrant stupidity (oddly popular playstyle that it is) there was no way this guy was pulling aggro off me, I was so damn threatening.  And even on the couple of occasions I did momentarily lose threat, I was there with my taunt and my mocking blow and my “I shall knock your armour off you!” skillz.  The worst damage anybody took was a couple of hits on rare occasions, before the mobs remembered that they were more interested in the stocky orc in platemail than the skinny dudes in robes.

“You know,” I said, as gently as I could, “that if you pull aggro, I’ll get the mobs off you again?  I’ve got a bunch of skills  for that.  Being a tank.”

“I’ve had some terrible tanks,” he whispered back.

I genuinely didn’t know what to say that.  “Haha, I’m not that bad,” was the best I could manage.

Now what’s going on here?  Seriously.  Was that some kind of fucked-up tankism?  You know, you tanks, you’re all the same, coming over here, stealing our threat.   Or was it, in fact, the tanking equivalent of the dreaded “heal pls.”

Ultimately, it did no damage to the run.  It was a low level instance, they tend to be pretty forgiving, and it was his mana he was squandering. But it pissed me off.  Mainly I thought it was discourteous.  After all, I was right there, tanking perfectly competently.  He might as well have renamed it Power Word: I Don’t Think You Know What You’re Doing.  Despite, I would say, abundant evidence to the contrary.

Also it’s hardly a sustainable strategy (I’m using the word ‘strategy’ in its alternate sense of ‘dumb thing a complete moron was doing while instancing’) – there’s going to come a point when wasting time and mana putting a redundant PW:IDTYKWYD on himself was going to actually impinge on what he was supposed to be doing (DPS, you drivelling pillock).

Or do you think he was some kind scarred and wounded soul, abused beyond redemption by too many bad tanks.  Even so, I think there comes a point when you have to let go and move on, maybe get some counselling.

Of course, the most likely answer was: he was just that stupid.

June 28, 2009

the demon on my shoulder

Filed under: Altaholism,D'oh — Tamarind @ 3:55 pm

Now the delights of the fuck off enormous dinosaur have worn of, Northrend is back to feeling like a bit of a slog so M’Pocket Tank and I have been playing it fast and loose with alts.  I’ve been trying to help my Girlcow with her self-esteem issues but I’ve also been running around a bit with my fire mage. And I’ve had to face up to something: I’m bad DPS.  I don’t mean I’m bad at DPS.  On the contrary, I’m great at it.  You want things chargrilled?  Flame-seared?  Reduced to pile of ash.  As quickly as possible?  Great.  Put them in front of me and watch the fiery death carnage.

But you know all those things you’re not meant to do when you’re DPS?  I do them.  I do all of them.   I know not to do them, and I know why you shouldn’t do them, and I know how annoying it is when people do them … but I do them anyway.  And I can’t stop myself.

But it’s okay, it’s not me.

It’s the DPS Demon.

It sits on my shoulder and it whispers to me while I play.

It say things like:

But you’re on a crit streak…

Your DPS is so awesome, the rules don’t apply to you.

It doesn’t matter if you pull aggro, you can handle yourself.

Just … one … more … firebolt.

I think I’m especially susceptible to the DPS Demon because if I’m not healing, I’m tanking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love healing (in a sick, twisted, Sid & Nancy, Zelda & Fitzgerald kind way), but it’s not what you’d call a thrilling role.  It’s an interesting, occasionally extremely stressful, quietly satisfying role.  Your tank may give you a “good healing, mate” as she emerges, battered, blood-sodden, grinning and miraculously alive from a battle but only another healer can really tell when you’ve been on top healing form.

It’s a lonely business, healing.

DPS, on the other hand, everybody understands.

If healing is a fine old tawny, aged to perfection over long years, DPS is a fluffy pink cocktail, bristling with cherries on sticks, umbrellas and twizzly straws.

Healing doesn’t really have a feedback loop.  It just has a sigh of relief when you look round and discover nobody has died.  DPS, though – it’s like the game itself is cheering you on by emblazoning your screen with a great big number.  Your great big number.  Your great big number of pure distilled awesome.  I have occasionally, when the DPS demon has been riding me hard, caught myself in the act of yelling “oh yeah, 4k crit!” at my computer.  When the buzz fades, of course, I feel like an almighty doofus.  But we all do it.

At least I think we do…

We do, right?  Right?

Okay.  Moving on.  Quickly.  Nothing to see here.

I think tanking and healing have been described have “the spine” of a group – which is fitting because, although they’re important, their role is primarily supportive.  Supporting the crazy Hawaiian shirt of DPS.

So when I’m neither tanking nor healing, and I’m iberated from having to worry about other people, I think I must go a little crazy.  But it’s the demon, I tell you, the demon.

It’s like when my free pyroblast procs.  Sensible thing to do?  Content myself with the fact it’ll proc again soon anyway and continue to act like a person with a fully functioning brain.  What I actually do?  Run helter-skelter round the world, waving my arms and cackling hysterically, until I find an enemy – any enemy mind you, or not even an enemy, or a tree, the back of a barn, or a small orcish orphan, anything – to throw my free pyroblast at.  Because if I don’t get it off within 7 seconds, that’s it gone.

I have to you see.  I absolutely have to.

Because it’s free, dammit, free.  Free!

And it’ll probably be a crit anyway…

And if it crits, then my next fireblast will crit as well.

And then…

Sorry, I think that was the demon talking again.

June 27, 2009

saturday frivolity

Filed under: Altaholism,Diversions — Tamarind @ 6:59 pm

Now that I’ve come out the girlcow lovin closet (it’s a platonic closet, okay) … I’m kind of worried about my shaman.  Look at the poor thing:

girlcow

You know what it reminds me of?  I’m no expert on the species (thank God) but it reminds me of when you see a group of teenage girls walking down the street together.  For reasons known best to themselves, they’re always wearing some kind of identical teenage girl uniform.  The girls themselves run the gamut of human difference but one of them is always, basically, a blood elf (and doesn’t she know it).  And the chosen teenage girl uniform seems to have been put together specifically because it looks stunning on her.  On the rest of them, however … not so much.  Really not so much.  It’s not that the other girls aren’t pleasantly proportioned or pleasing to behold – far from it, in fact, they’re all unique and special snowflakes if only they’d give themselves a chance – but because they’re ineptly jammed into the bloodelf teenage girl uniform, all that comes across is their awkwardness about not fitting what they perceive as the appropriate pattern.

I think this has happened to my poor girlcow shaman.  That getup is clearly designed for a blood elf – the skimpy trousers, the dodgy, midriff revealing top.  She looks like either she’s squeezed herself into the wrong dress size because she’s too embarrassed to buy the size that actually fits her (or, more generously, all her clothes have all shrunk in the wash).

My poor girlcow is the victim of body fascism.

Look how dumpy she looks.  I’m genuinely worried she’s going to burst out of those trousers.  And, to think, she’s a beautiful, sleek, perfectly honed specimen of girlcowness.  She’s just not a fucking size 6 blood elf.

I’m not sure she’s going to make it to level 20.  I think she’s going to spiral into self-hatred and bulimia.

Damn you Blizzard, oppressing my girlcow.  I should never have let her read that issue of Cowsmopolitan back at Bloodhoof Village.

June 10, 2009

my deathcow and me

Filed under: Altaholism,Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Deathtards & Co. — Tamarind @ 3:45 pm

I have insight. Gasp!

Not into healing (despite the nominal focus of this blog) but into Deathtardism.

You see, the other day I finally got round to rolling up a Deathtard of my very own, to love and hug and call it Aethelred.  It’s a cow deathtard, which helps me moderate my  self-loathing about the whole business, because the inherent cowly awesomeness of Taurens may in some way balance the inherent profound awfulness I have come to associate with DKs.  I think it’s partially my own fault because I didn’t start one immediately when WotLK came out and therefore spent a lot of time in Outland trying to keep absolute blithering morons alive in Ramps.

Anyway, I finally cracked and – in splendid isolation because everyone else in the world who wants one already has a Deathtard – ran through the introductory mission.  This was actually quite fun.  Right up until the point the game decides that you’re not playing WoW to run round, killing monsters and collecting their internal organs, but instead you’d like it to be some kind of massively multiplayer sitting around simulator.  I’m actually really into WoW Lore, but I like it because it’s optional. I don’t like being slapped in the face by the mighty Wowlore cock when I’m trying to play the damn game.  It didn’t help that I spent the oh-so-epic Battle For Light’s Hope sitting on the steps of the Chapel because my sword had broken in the preceding quests and the game was too epic to let me stop anywhere and get it fixed.  And there’s nothing that makes you feel like the irrelevant one among ten million you actually are than standing around whistling and typing /hug [Arthas] while Tirion Fordring bitch slaps the Lich King for you, and then yells heroically about TAKING THE FIGHT TO NORTHREND, when you know what you’re actually going to do is grind mining, chill out in Nagrand and spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around on LFG saying “LF Healer Ramps – last spot.”

But this is tangential bitching.

Let me return to the insight: the introductory DK quests actively teach you to play like a tard.  No wonder DKs are the new hunters.  All the quests are pitched to be slightly too easy, if you die you’re immediately rezzed anyway and if there’s even the remotest danger that you might hurt your little DK self the game sticks a ludicrous buff on you to make absolutely sure you stay safe and warm and healthy regardless.  Yes,  WoW turns into your Mum.

Furthermore, they encourage you to use your abilities thoughtlessly and mindlessly – there’s a quest where you have to slaughter a bunch of fleeing citizens by deathgripping them onto your sword.  It’s lots of fun but no wonder instances are full of deathgrip happy fuckwits.  Because you’re well-equipped and over-powered you can blunder through the whole quest line thinking you totally rock and without at any point having to think even remotely strategically about your skills and talents.  In short: actually being able to play the game is entirely optional.

And there’s also the fact the game showers you in the sort of things you usually have to put a modicum of effort into attaining – decent, cool-looking gear, an epic mount, etc. etc. I’m not implying that Young People Nowadays Should Have To Work For Their Privileges, but the overall effect is to create a persistent sense of undeserved AWESOME.

And then you take this tard army and  unleash them on the rest of the game world to wreak havoc and misery and despair wherever they go.

I certainly understand deathtardism more than I did a day or so ago (and I’ll freely admit I play my deathcow like a tard – there’s no reason not to, for the moment at least) but I don’t have to like it.

And you may be assured I do not like it.

Anglos Saxon Geekery Edit: I particularly like being called Aethelred because questgivers keep saying “You are ready, Aethelred” to me.  And, yes, I know Aethelred was actually Ill-Advised rather than Unready but it’s still funny to me.

May 29, 2009

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster

Filed under: Altaholism,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 7:05 pm

I was running around Tanaris on one of my (admittedly many) vanity alts last night, when I received a whispered invitation to run ZF. Sure. Why not. Now, as it so happens, this particular vanity-alt is inadvertently twinked. I wasn’t trying to; he’s dressed entirely in things that struck me as being and looking cool. Yes, I am that shallow sometimes. Often. The thing is, well, it might just about be the case that some of these things that struck me as being and looking cool … well … they might be epics. Cool-looking epics, dammit.

So, yes, my vanity-alt is (wait for it) imba.

In short, he does about as much damage with a flick of his perfectly manicured nails as poor Tam at level 70.

Bwahaha.

Although, in some ways it’s a kind of tragic feeling. A sense of power that is as fleeting as cherry blossom, withering with every step towards the next level you take.

So there I was, bored and imba, and embarking on ZF with a group who actually seemed kind of promising at first. “Can somebody mark?” asked the bear-tank and, in the flurry of people stepping back that followed, I said I would. I was genuinely impressed by the guy actually. I’ve always found bear tanking annoying and hard, I like it when people mark and I like it even more when the tank doesn’t automatically equate leading and tanking. So I talked through kill-order, mentioned that I’d be using cc aaaaand…

What’s the first thing that happens?

Go on.

Guess.

Yes. Of course. The hunter pulls a bunch of mobs.

There’s a flurry of activity. The tank manages to get the situation under control, I mark things up, sheep the appropriate target aaaaand…

What’s the next thing that happens?

Go on.

Guess.

Yes.  Of course.  The hunter uses multi-shot.

Do these guys take an oath to be dicks at hunter school or something? Seriously? Do they not get a pet until they sign an official contract to live up to stereotype?

So I give up on cc. But that’s okay. I like cc but most of the time it’s nice but not necessary. And the mobs are dying like confetti anyway.

(thak that you sandy bitch)

Then we play a small game of musical PUGs as various members of the group fuck off and are replaced.

We’re just about to embark upon the next pull when the hunter starts whinging that we’re not going fast enough and he could be getting more XP from questing.

Well. Duh.

I’m halfway through telling him that he’d probably get the most XP by simply grinding mobs of the appropriate level when I’m struck by a blinding epiphany: it really doesn’t matter. I’m DPS. I don’t matter.

The group, by now, was comprised almost entirely of “hurry plz” wanktards (I’ll complain about this type of player at a later date, I’m sure) and so we basically charged through the instance playing like a bunch of idiots. But we were all a touch high level anyway and my DPS is insane so nothing mattered. We blitzed through the whole thing in about an hour. It’s not the way I like to instance but there’s a base and vulgar pleasure in face-rolling; and there’s a genuinely glorious sense of liberation in the knowledge that, had I been trying to tank or heal, I’d have been having a nervous breakdown over the keyboard.

The two druids both go in bear form, the hunter uses his pet as his own personal tank, god knows what the shaman does but I know I’m being bloody careful about drawing aggro so maybe it’s not as bad as all that. It was everything I hate about crap, selfish, heedless instancing rolled into one beach side vacation. But the wonderful thing was I didn’t have to care.

I don’t DPS in instances as a general rule, despite having a couple of DPS-specced characters. Because I used to run all my instances with a group of friends, I tended to fill the roles that needed filling (tank or healer, usually) and, consequently, I’d formed an impression that DPS was, as a general rule, rather dull.

Dull. What a naive, subjective perspective! What a fool I was.

I can see now why DPS have such a bad reputation as selfish fuckwits. I played like a selfish fuckwit myself. I kept out of harm’s way, made sure I didn’t attack anything that wasn’t already being attacked by someone else, essentially turning the whole party into a slew of tanks just for meeeee, made sure all the abilities I used were centred on keeping me safe and topping the DPS meters, turned myself into a fridge at the slightest sign of trouble, only kept an eye on people so I knew what they were in a position to do for me … in short I played like an arse.

But I survived. I thrived, even. I did bloody well. I didn’t die once, barely took damage, and topped the DPS meters by a good long way.  Other people got into trouble a fair bit (as is likely to happen when you don’t bother to coordinate your efforts in the slightest) but, hey, what could I, poor little DPS that I was, do about that?  In terms of pure personal gain and glory I’ve never had so successful an instance.

I guess I’d like it say it ultimately felt hollow.  In some ways, it did.  Instancing is, after all, about teamwork and I would argue it’s more fun if you give at least a passing toss about each other.  But in others ways it wasn’t hollow a all.  It was nice to be absolutely careless, devoid of responsibility and concern for the welfare of other players.  I felt like it was a kind of vengeance for all the crappy runs I’ve ever done.

I think there’s often a fine line in WoW instancing between sensible and selfish behaviour.   I mean “stay alive” is generally the number one rule (unless, of course, you’re a hunter who decides to feign death, displacing a slew of angry mobs onto the poor bastard healer who has been frantically trying to keep you alive) but it often comes down to split second decisions between yourself and others, especially when you’re healing.  But with DPSing it’s easier than ever to plant yourself firmly on the you-orientated side of the line and forget it’s even there.

May 26, 2009

fingers out of my pie, darlings

Filed under: Altaholism,Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Deathtards & Co.,UR Doing It Wrong — Tamarind @ 12:17 pm

I am starting to feel slightly guilty about this blog, or perhaps I would if anyone read it.  I do occasionally cruise other WoW blogs and they tend to be very grown up and very thoughtful, all about rotations and theorycraft and gear upgrades … aaaand here I am whinging about Players Who Do Not Appreciate Me.  Well, it strikes me that anything vaguely sensible I could say about playing a priest is likely to be better said elsewhere.  And actually I have a post about my (lack of) WoW credentials in the offing but for the moment let’s stick to your regularly scheduled eye-rolling, bitching and complaining.  There’s a rather glorious liberty in being unread.  I suppose I could connect this blog to the rest of my Internet identity but I am rather basking in the pleasure of anonymity.

I was messing around in Outland with my cow-alt last night, and wound up healing Ramps and Furnace off-spec.  I’ve run them about a gazillion times because, let’s face it, you can’t take two steps in Outland without stubbing your toe on four deathknights begging you to either tank or heal Ramps for them.  And we were all in our early 60s (levels, not dog years) so it’s not like it was going to be a challenging run.

Riiight.

The thing about healing off-spec is that, as long as you know vaguely what you’re doing and nobody plays like an arse, it’s perfectly do-able in a bog-standard run.  If anything, it just makes life a little hairier for you.  Usually in a competent run, there’s the faintest possibility that I am, in fact, standing at the back in my sissy robe, occasionally deigning to direct a renew or a flash heal at the tank.  But shhhh, don’t tell anyone.  Healing off-spec, however, simply means you have to concentrate a bit more.

But, of course, we had our regulation deathtard.  Deathgripping indiscriminately, taunting off the tank, occasionally charging groups of mobs like it didn’t occur to him that maybe he’d die less if maybe he waited for the tank to pull them.  It didn’t cause as many problems as it could have because none of us particularly fancied martyring ourselves to his idiocy so we’d often stand there, smirking (at least, I was smirking, maybe the others were shaking their heads sadly) and watch him die.

The worst of it though was that he kept playing like a dick and then demanding heals.  “Watch my health”, “I wouldn’t die you heled [sic] me” he kept saying over and over and oh fucking god over again.  I know this is a well documented phenomenon, and that healers across the land are united in their supreme abhorrence for it, but because it’s so well documented I think (perhaps naively) it’s actually moderately rare.  I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter it only on a handful of occasions, and this was its most concentrated dose.

But holy fuck, it’s profoundly, unspeakably, buttock-clenchingly annoying.

At first I tried to ignore it and go to a happy place of zen-like tranquillity.  But it turns out there is no happy place of zen-like tranquillity which also contains a squealing deathtard going “Heeeeeeal!  Heeeeal!”

I think every healer has a secret healing priority list in their head.  I know instancing is probably a bit like having children (in plate mail) and you shouldn’t have favourites but how can you not?  Top of the list is, of course, always the tank regardless.  Ideally,  I’d like to keep everyone alive, if at all possible, but it’s amazing how quickly being a complete and utter tard gets you falling off the bottom of the list never to be seen or heard of again.  So, losing all patience, I explained this carefully to the Deathtard.

“Just for your information, m’dear, my current healing priority list: me because if I die so do the rest of you, the tank, because it’s my job, the arms warrior because he’s saved my ass on a couple of occasions and isn’t playing like a complete idiot (take  tip, maybe), the warlock because she’s nice to me and then you because you are none of the above.”

He was pretty quiet after that.  And I felt very satisfied.  Generally I keep my mouth shut in instances unless something nice is going to come out of it because, evidence to the contrary aside, I don’t actually like coming across as an uppity bastard.  But it’s genuinely lovely to vent your frustration sometimes.   I might have to make my healing priority list more explicit in future.

Actually, having bitched out this post, I went cruisin’ for other people’s responses to the dreaded “heal me plz”, fully expecting them to all be “god, it’s so annoying.”  But there are some folks out there suffering some kind of bad treatment Stockholm Syndrome, which I would pity were they not so fucking smug about it.  Among the chorus of “oh, I wish people wouldn’t do that” you can find a fair quantity of “nobody ever has to ask me to heal them because I never let their health drop below 90%” and “i heal ppl because i rolled a healing class, and as such i dont get all uppity when ppl ask me to heal them.”

The first can simply be dismissed with a roll of the eyes and, perhaps, the gentle suggestion that a clue ought to perhaps be acquired from somewhere.  No matter how awesome a healer you are, there are going to be times when it gets away from you.  That is the melancholy life of a jobbing healer.

The second, however, is more problematic.  I know I, at least, tend to express myself in an uppity manner but there’s a degree to which it’s self-defense.  I do, actually, feel guilty and responsible if people die on my watch.  Even if they’re wankers.  Even if secretly I’m smirking about their repair bill.  Ahem.  The point is that it’s very easy to make your healer feel crap (you can complain about the size of his mana bar, for example).  But by playing like a doofus, shrieking for healing and then throwing accusations around when you (inevitably) die, you are both implicitly and explicitly expressing  your contempt for the healer.

Let’s face it, no healer – however inexperienced or vacant – is unaware that their job is to heal people.

Telling them to heal people is so irrelevant it’s actually in-your-face insulting.

I mean, really, do you think I haven’t noticed?

And it’s not like anyone is going to charge into battle yelling “attack the mobs, attack the mobs” at the DPS.

It puts the healer in a thoroughly miserable position.  I play a healer because I like healing people.  I want to heal you, I want to keep all of you alive, you  might even go so far as to say it’s my raison d’etre for the instance. I don’t instance with tank-related tunnel vision if I can help it.  If the DPS takes a bit of damage, I’ll try my best to stick a heal-over-time on them.  If they’ve accidentally pulled aggo, I’ll do my damndest to keep them alive.  But if you’ve wantonly and stupidly pulled aggro and you’re yelling at me to heal you while I’m trying to concentrate on the tank in a sticky situation … well … quite frankly you shouldn’t have made it necessary for me to weigh up in a split second whether I can pull your ass out of the fire you yourself stuck it in while keeping my tank alive.

If I ever instance with a healme-whore again, assuming I don’t throw a priestly hissy or stick them straight on my ignore list, I may have to quick bar some responses.  One of these perhaps:

Wait,  I’m the healer?  Oh God, I thought I was tanking this.

Fuck off and die… oh you have, how obliging.

Attack the mobs!  Attack the mobs!

Use a fucking bandage.

It’s only a flesh wound.

You are not only off my priority list, you’re on my shit list.

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