Friday, May 30, 2008

Different kinds of wiping

I had the biggest laugh from blog reading for a long time the other day when I read BigRedKitty's analysis of wiping. Now he's updated the list - so far there are 23 different ways, and believe me, you've probably seen most of them more than once.
I have no intention whatsoever to continue the excellent work of BRK. It's a masterpiece as it is. I'll just add the Larísa perspective. The thoughts of the notoriously unsecure little newbie gnome. Larísa sorts wiping into five categories:

  • Larísa's to blame
  • Larísa and a few others to blame
  • Someone else to blame
  • Damned Blizzard!
  • Just funny

It seems that I'm kind of obsessed with the issue of blaming someone, I guess it's just because I feel so utterly ashamed if it's me, if it's the Number 1 kind of wipe.

It doesn't happen too often, but there have been a few times. The typical wipe comes from Larísa enthusiastically running way ahead of the rest of the raid (has she put herself on auto-run?), forgetting that the druid tank that seemed to join her was in stealth and Larísa not... Fortunately I haven't done it in 25 man instances, but a couple of times in 10 man and even though people generally are understanding and forgiving - I'm not. I hate myself doing those things. Another scenario is when I get into some kind of nuking trance state of mind, in which I start to interprete Omen in a far too optimistic way. Doesn't happen so often nowadays though, arcane spec is much more forgiving on that point than fire.)

Number 2 is a far better way to wipe - when the guilt and shame is divided. After all it's a team play and when we wipe we wipe together and we learn our lessons and we shape up and go for it again, shoulder to shoulder, dedicated to do better next time. Wiping isn't too bad under those circumstances. It's just a part of the game and learning procedure.

What about number 3? Well, funny enough I rarely get upset or annoyed if someone else causes a wipe. I rather feel sorry for them, well knowing how I feel in the same situation. It's easy to forgive others, much harder to forgive yourself.

Still there is a certain quota of how many "accident wipes" you can put up with for a night. If you're lucky you're the first one to do a mistake for the evening. People are still in good mood, you'll get comments like "Shit happens, bad luck, let's do it better this time." But what if you're player number 5 och 6 this night messing up? It's YOUR first mess, your first wipe, a mistake which should be as easily forgiven if you had been the first wipe-causer of the night.

Unfortunately it just doesn't work like that. No matter how unfair - people will be more annoyed if you're causing a late wipe than an early one.

Number 4: There's nothing that can unite you as much as an outer enemy. It IS annoying when there apparently is a bug or the server goes down at the worst possible moment - when you're victims out of circumstances beyond your control. Still you can't deny it's quite nice to be angry in the company of others. Of course you would have downed the boss this time if it wasn't for Blizzard!

Number 5 is another great kind of wiping, isn't it? When things aren't just bad, but rather disastrous. For instance I remember going into UBRS in order to do the last step in the Onyxia attunement chain. We were all lvl 70 and totally overgeared, quite carelessly walking around in there, nuking down bosses in no time, not actually having to organize or raid lead at all... or so we thought. When we were done and just about to leave someone managed to break some eggs and suddenly thousands of thousands of dragonwhelps appeared. It looked just insane and we wiped. So much for our superiority! I laughed so much that my stomach ached.

Still I can't help thinking: what would the game be without some decent wipes now and then? Quite boring, heh?

I think it's all of those hours we've spent running in the black and white mist that make us truly appreciate those magical nights when suddenly everything work the way we want it to and we see all of the world in colour.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A blog reader came to see me

Yesterday as we were making our way through the trash in TK, I suddenly got a whisper from an unknown person. It turned out to be a faithful reader of Larísa's corner, someone who had been lurking around almost since the start a few months ago, but never had showed up. Normally being a horde player on the PvP server Frostmane, he now had created an alt at Stormrage just to come by and say hello to me!

I was thrilled and in the drinking pauses between the pulls we chatted a bit, about things we have in common. Like the worries about the upcoming summer season, which can cause problems for all of us who still want to progress in 25 man raiding, who haven't given up on clearing more content before the expansion. We're now facing heavy competition from exams, vacations, sunny evenings with grill parties and other RL arrangements which tend to occupy players this time of the year.

Being from Sweden he agreed about my complaints that there hardly are any Swedish blogs out there - a fact which finally made me go English just in order to get some kind of blogging network. We speculated about the reasons for it. Could it be because of lack of female players? For some reason quite a few of the major WoW blogs - maybe even a majority in my opinion - are written by women. Are there too few female players in Sweden to support a blogging community? Just speculating...

Then it was time for Tård to say goodbye for this time. We had cleared the last of the trash groups and I really had to focus on the upcoming boss fight. He wished me good luck, well aware of the trouble I've had with Void Reaver, that I've written about in an earlier blog post.
I had been delighted at the visit. If the thing I write are interesting enough just for one single reader to come back over and over again, I've really succeeded. Actually I tried to talk him into starting a blog of his own... (Come on, I know you can do it!)

What about Void Reaver then? We oneshotted him for the first time. And I stood on my legs all through the fight, with the help of plenty of health stones, potions, bandages and double iceblock, since I still don't get away from the orbs every time. But still: I did it, and I even did some decent nuking this time. I was jumping with joy! Who cares then that I didn't get the T5 shoulders this time either? I felt clearly that I had made some personal progress, starting to get the hang of it, a little at least.

By the way I'm almost done with one of my hugest grinding projects ever: the translation of this blog. Out of 89 posts up to this date, only 7 are still in Swedish. I hope it hasn't all been in vain, but that someone will bother to back and at least read a few of the old posts. I'll be back trying to promote them a bit, once I'm finished. BRB...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Larísa's got married! It happened the other day, in a moment of joy and inspiration. A hunter in my guild and I agreed that two first-kills for the guild (in SSC) in one night demanded some kind of decent celebration. And we just couldn't imagine any better place to do it than on the Prince terrace in Karazhan, where we ended up the night, doing a bit of chill-down badge farming after the main raid.

So once the Big Bad Boy was dead, we dropped all armor and cool weapons and put on a wedding dress and a tuxedo, which made us look like we were wearing a pyjama and a night gown. Still it was kind of cute, though you really can't say we were matching, my little gnome barely reaching the stomach of his night elf. We asked the priest in the raid to stay with us and perform the ritual. A quick change of rings and there we were, united as husband and wife in the game!

I have no idea how long this marriage will last (mind you, we'll be rolling not for the same Tier 5 set pieces, which could be the reason for some envy and upsetting disappointments...) or what it will mean in the game (not much I believe, not being on a RP server). Still it was kind of fun, an example of that you once in a while can do other things in Azeroth than just boss nuking.

I just have to remember to take off that ring and put it in my bag (together with the romantic picnic basket I'm always dragging around). The stats on it weren't too impressive.

The question now is: where should we go for honeymoon? We're leaning towards Exodar, but haven't made up our minds yet. Any suggestions?(Note to the English speaking readers of the blog: as you probably understand the picture above was taken during the ceremony, both of us saying "yes!" )

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to use damage meters

In my guild we use damage meters. We use them a lot. Results are posted not only within the raid or the party after completing an instance run, but sometimes in the guild chat as well - during a break, before the raid is even finished. Some of the players have different addons - Recap or Recount - in different versions, and they post their results to compare it and see if they give the same picture or are diverting somehow.

Most of all damage done is compared. Sometimes someone also link the dps, while still declaring that it really doesn't say much, that damage done is more important. Healing done is usually posted as well. But not much more than that, in spite of that there are numerous other things that are documented. I guess there are just too many numbers for people to bother to discuss and analyze them in depth. Or sometimes they seem too complicated; we don't quite understand what the graphs actually mean. Then it's easier to just point out the hands-on-number for damage done.

I'm no exception to this. I've got a damage meter just like anyone else, Recount at the moment. But I usually keep it hidden during the fights- it's somewhat distracting. For me it's far more important to keep an eye on Omen than to be tempted to watch the damage at the moment. I usually only have a glance at it during brakes. And the further analysis will have to wait until we're done for the day.

This big focus on the damage meters (which I'm pretty sure is common, not only in our guild) - is it for good or for bad? Well, most of all for bad if you believe a couple of posts written by the blogger The Big Bear Butt. He wrote them last autumn, but I think they're still well worth reading. I hate Damage Meters and I hate Damage Meters - The Return!

The essence of the posts is that he points out the dangers of putting too much attention to those meters: they make people focus on the wrong tasks during the raid. Sheep won't be sheeped, traps won't be laid, mobs won't be kept banished, just because those hunters, mages and warlocks look more to the damage competition than to the common goal for the raid, to bring down the mobs effectively. And worst of all - from his tanking perspective - the constant chasing for the top places on the lists will make the dps taking unnecessary risks, pulling aggro from the tank and causing the raid struggles and from time to time even wipes. Even though he admits that those addons can be valuable tools for self evaluation and improvement, the disadvantages are so big because of the constant misuse of them, that he'd rather be without them.

So where do I stand? Should the damage meters be banned because of all the harm they make? Well, I do sympathize with some of the points from The Bear, but honestly, I still think these tools are extremely valuable to me. They really help me when it comes to evaluating my spec, spell sequences, gear, consumable and other stuff that we're switching around, trying to figure out the best combinations. Without them it would be quite hard to know if changes I do are for the good or for the bad. Of course I can do it theoretically, experimenting with Rawr and other spreadsheets, but after all, it's got to be tried out and measured in practise as well.

I was discussing this with a more experienced raider, and he made another good point about the value of the damage meters: "They help people keeping focused during the raid", he said. And suddenly I realized it was true. We all function differently. Personally I have no problem at all keeping focused on what I'm doing - the game is such a challenge to me that I really can't do anything else at the same time. As a matter of fact it's one of the reasons why I raid, that it takes all my attention. But some of the younger players seem to split their focus much more. Sometimes they start discussing musical preferences in the guild chat - while raiding - which make me wonder how they do it - do they use some kind of auto attack so they can write while fighting? I need both my hands for the fight - and sometimes wish I had another couple of hands as well in order to move and nuke quicker, doing more at the same time... From time to time they're obviously watching a football game on TV. I guess if the damage meters weren't there they would be tempted to split their attention even more. As it is now they know that if they slack and think about other things more than about the raid, they'll end up far down on the damage list, and that isn't an attractive scenario. The damage meters is a good thing to keep them on track.

I think the right way to go about the damage meters is probably not to stop using them, but rather to use them even more than we currently do. But I think it's important not only to focus on the damage done list, but also on other necessary tasks in a raid. If there are several mages and only one decurse and the others don't give a damned about it since they're chasing the damage meters, it certainly will hurt the raid. But as long as nobody notice it and report it the same way as the damage list is reported, the slacking mages will get away with it. Their behaviour will rewarded - after all they'll probably end up higher on the damage list then their poor colleague who bothered to decurse. And of course the same goes with counterspell and sheeping, anything that hold you back from dps-ing. If you want to tell the raid about who did well on the damage list - tell them also about who did well in other aspects, so people know that everything in your performance is noticed - also things which don't result in damage done-figures.

Feedback is great and I think a guild which is a bit serious about progressing in raids should get used to give and take it. They should do it all the time, it should become natural. And for that purpose damage meters is a handy tool.

If you haven't done a lot of it before it may seem a bit unpleasant to begin with - hey, how much feedback do you give your colleagues in your RL work? - but I think it's just a matter of habit and - of course - of creating a good atmosphere in the guild. You should be able to discuss performances openly, in a generous and constructive way, where especially class leaders should take on themselves the task to actually analyze the damage meters in depth and try to help the players who underperform, pointing out things to improve. This shouldn't cause any drama or bad feelings. It isn't about making players feeling inferior or superior to each other. It's about always aiming for improvement - which should be natural to anyone into raiding. To reach out a hand to those who need it. To listen to advice from others.My conclusion is that there's no reason to be afraid of damage meters. Just learn to use them in a mature way and they'll be an invaluable tool for improvement and progression.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Do you dare to ask for innervates?

Do you beg for services in the vent or raid chat?

I try not to myself. I can't help thinking that asking for heals (as an example) is like telling the healers that you don't trust them doing their job. You don't think they're monitoring the raid and you certainly don't think they're wise enough to make the right priorities.

Sometimes I fail and cry out myself, but mostly I don't. Having a push to talk system helps a lot, I can cry spontaneously for heals and whine for myself out of anger and frustration, but they won't hear me if I really don't intentionally force them to.

Then there are fights where you suddenly may get huge damage out of some debuff or spell, where the healers actually ask you to cry out when you're affected. But that's different story.
The same goes with battle ress. I never ever ask in vent - or in raid chat - for battle ress. Of course the raid leader will see I'm dead. And of course he'll ask the druids to make battle resses when needed, and of course he'll choose the one that the raid needs most. Sometimes it could be me, but more likely it's a healer. Asking for battle ress is like telling the whole raid that you know better what to do than those who are assigned on the job. And I know for sure I don't.

I came to think about begging when I read a must-to-read blog post (at least for mages and druids) by Resto4life about innervate and the arcane mage. (Well I admit that I may be a LITTLE biased in this issue, being an arcane mage myself).

She actually suggests us to make a macro to ask for innervates. It should be used early in the fight, after burning some mana down, but still not when being completely dry.

I'm wrestling my mind if I should do one. Is it right of me at all to try to get favours from the druids, begging them in whispers during a fight? I mean the raid leader is aware of the innervate ability as well and probably has a wise plan about when to use it and on which player. Maybe I'll just mess things up by trying to convince them to give their innervates to me?

On the other hand, it's a real waste not to use innervate during a fight. And what I've read, after the last big patch, mana issues aren't as big as they used to be for some classes, making arcane mages be more likely to be the ones to benefit most from innervate. How huge the benefit actually is to the raid I hadn't quite realized before reading this post.

Maybe all druids aren't aware of it, being used to focus mainly on the mana pools of the healers?
While making up my mind whether to beg or not to beg in raid for innervate, I'll at least help resto4life telling the world about why you should innervate arcane mages. Maybe it will help us to get it without having to ask. Up to this day I've actually never received a single innervate. I'm looking forward to it though!

The advantage of being cute

Larísa is cute. At least in my eyes. I just can't help loving those little gnome girls with pink pig tails. If I'd ever get the possibility to redesign Larísa I'd never pick anything else for her. Maybe I'd make her cheer up a bit, she's look kind of sulky. But that's all there is to complain about.

I had my reasons when I first designed her (which I've written about here.) Still, getting advantages and privileges out of plain cuteness wasn't what I had in mind when I picked her race, sex and hair colour. The very idea that cuteness could be an issue never occurred to me. Until the other day when I found this wonderful passage in the not-to-be-missed blog Resto4life:

Besides tanks, a healer's frequent need-to-nurture can work to the advantage of DPS players. There is a female Gnome Rogue in my guild (with pink hair, no less) that SQUEAKS every time she's hit. Even though I know she's played by a male in real life (and a very nice one at that), there is an automatic "OH NO DON'T LET HER DIE SHE'S SO CUTE!" reaction the instant I hear that sound. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. If I ever did play a Warrior tank, I'd make sure she were a Gnome. Then I'd get all the heals!

Honestly, Resto4 life, I think you're quite right. It's just like watching a puppy: even with the knowledge that this little creature will one day grow up to a monster, able to literary eat up all your savings, capable of killing a man, you just cant help following your instinct. We all start to speak baby language with it, we all want to protect it from all the evil in the world, no matter how stupid it seams to us. Cuteness is irresistible and makes us lose our sense. Why else would a night elf hunter in our guild keep calling all of the gnomes around his little "pets", gently patting us, no matter that we're actually death machines. (Just a pity he isn't a healer, then we could make use of his affection,)

I don't have any evidence for it, but I can't help thinking that this cuteness also could have some other advantages. I was thinking about PvP - isn't it quite possible that an enemy will underestimate you, not being able to take the threat from a cute little gnome girl seriously? (This is pure speculation). Or if you're cute enough maybe you could make the opponents stop up just to admire your looks? (No, that's probably pulling it too far.)

Still there are facts speaking against the Cuteness factor theory. To be honest, I've never ever noticed any kind of VIP treatment for cute gnomes when it comes to ressing after a wipe. No matter how pathetic she looks laying there, like a little doll, torn into pieces, Larisa sometimes is the last one to be ressed. I blame it on her size: the healers just can't find her or won't notice her absence. It's another thing with a huge human warrior. When he's not up and going the whole room seems kind of empty.

Anyway, if it's possible to push your healers a little further, using their protective instinct, just by being cute - why not give it a try? If I was to level up a tank myself one day I'd definitely pick a female gnome one. Provided I was on the Alliance side.

I don't know how this thing works with the Horde. Could you sincerely describe ANY of the horde races as cute? Does the Cuteness Effect exist on your side - do you think of the blood elves as puppies? Or are hordies another kind of species - immune against cuteness? Please enlighten me, anyone who knows.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Social WoW

"You blog is too technical. That's boring. You should write about the social side of WoW. That's what people really want to read about".

It came from my sister, the only RL friend or relative who knows about this blog. (Being a former WoW player I thought she could get something out of reading it, to anyone else I know it would be just as alien and nerd classified as anything else related to the game, so I keep it for myself and my WoW friends).

"Technical? She must be joking," I thought. In my world Larísas corner is anything but technical. It's completely void of boss strategies - there are so many websites out there doing it much better than I ever could, so why should I even try? And there are no in-depth analyses, like comparing the value of spell haste and intelligence for arcane mages.... At my current level of knowledge I'm a reader and user of Elitistjerks - but definitely not a provider.

I'm just writing a blog to share my perspective of the game, which actually is pretty much a social one. If it wasn't for the social side of the game I would have left it long time ago.
I'm fascinated by guild life - by the birth and deaths of guilds. I've seen guilds born out of rage, not lasting even one day (pretty much like any Las Vegas marriage I guess, although they're probably arranged out of lust rather than out of fury). Others keep going for years and will probably still be around until Blizzard one day shuts down the last server in a distant future (sob). Or rather: they'll probably be around even then, just moving over to another game. And there are all those shades of grey in between. Many guilds seem to be doing pretty well for half a year or so - until the members find out that they obviously don't share the same goals anymore and decide to move on. Guilds flourish - and perish. What causes it? How do you deal with it?Those questions keep nagging me. What's the key to successful guild management? How do you make people happy, how do you make it all work?

Guild life isn't the only social aspect though. If you think about it every single PUG you run is sort of a mini guild. It's started out of a common goal (clear an instance), you agree on the terms - who'll be doing which task, how should loot be shared etc). You try to establish an effective cooperation and atmosphere in the group - the first few pulls usually tell you whether it will work or if you just can't stand each other. And in the end, mission completed, you break up - most of the times never to see each other again. Sometimes the farewell is kind of reluctant - there are PUGs which are so successful that you'd rather keep it forever.

I think what makes the social side of the game so intriguing is that it partly reflects the real world - but only partly. You make and lose friends just the same way - you build and run networks, you apply for jobs and make a career - or get sacked. You win and you lose - and things are unfair from time to time - just as in RL. No matter how much you hate it - you'll find yourself measured and placed in a hierarchy. Status matters in Azeroth - like it or not - it's just given out of other aspects than you're used to. And sadly enough you'll encounter just the same amount of idiots and assholes as you do in RL. No less, no more.

Still there are a few things which make the social life of WoW slightly different. The anonymity is one thing. You can't be really sure about anything, unless you actually meet your guildies in RL, and that doesn't happen too often. But this lack of knowledge doesn't mean you don't trust people. As a matter of fact the anonymity is quite relieving in one way. Since you don't see those people in RL you can show sides of yourself which you haven't showed anyone else. And I'm not talking about playing nude in front of the computer, although I know there are gamers who actually do that...(I'm always dressed myself, just so that you know). I'm talking about the inside. I've met people online who I've confided myself to much more than I've done to any of my RL friends. Strange? Maybe. But it certailny helps me to cope with my life.

Another thing, connected to the anonymity, is that you actually don't see people, which is a great help for overcoming prejudices and barriers between sexes, classes and ages. One of the players I miss a bit since changing server and guild was a 15 year old boy, a mage fellow who made me laugh with all his pranks and insane ideas. We really went on well together - although I had to be careful not to slip into parenting him. (Being mother in RL is enough, I don't want to babysit teenagers in the game as well. When I play with them we're colleagues and teammates - nothing else).

There's something very liberating about the game. Nobody cares about if I'm childish in comparison to the greyness of my hair, nobody watches the size of my tits, my under- or overweight. I get to know people pretty well spending so much time together online - I know their voices, their behaviour, know their moods, their strong sides and their weaknesses. We're building trust. And I'm pretty sure that if we'll meet one day we'll be able to look beyond the surface. We've established a friendship that goes further. The passion for the game unites us. I get to know people I'm dead sure I'd never ever speak to in RL - out of circumstances, living different kinds of life in different worlds.

The tears I cried last summer when a game friend left the game with just an in game mail and all his savings as a last goodbye were real tears. The pain was real pain. Which probably is pretty hard to understand for anyone outside the WoW community.

Still there's something which hold me back when it comes to blogging about social stuff. I just don't want to leave out other people. They haven't asked to be mentioned publicly in Larísas Corner. They're perfectly entitled to their anonymity just like everyone else. I'm trying to run a blog which is personal, but not too private. Sometimes I fail, but that's my intention. But of course a blogger should listen to the audience (even though the reader happens to be the blogger's sister). So: dear sister of mine, here was a post about social sides of the game, I hope you enjoyed it. I'm sure more will follow in time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Heading for the WoW gym

How could I improve my performance in the raids, becoming a more valuable player?
This question keeps coming back to me - as it does to any raider, I guess. This is the nerve, the challenge, the very essence of raiding, at least for me.

I do my share of theorycrafting - I follow the discussions on the forums, I ask others for advice, I spend time experimenting with Rawr, I don't hesitate to waste loads of gold to change gems and enchants so it suits with my current spec.

And all this work gives me some results - it's evident when I'm checking on the damage meters. There's really nothing wrong about my dps. Still at some points I fail. Like last week when we were in Tempest Keep, going for Void Reaver. I had no trouble at all on the trash - as a matter of fact I was one of the major damage dealers of the raid - in spite of the fact that I was constantly put on sheep duty, having a sheep to deal with almost every single pull.

But when it came to the boss himself my dps fell like a stone. I sucked. Alright, I wasn't killed instantly by flying orbs - most of our tries I managed to survive, blink away, take health stones, pots, bandage myself and live for quite long. But I just didn't get the opportunity to nuke very much. I found it hard to judge when the orb actually was going in my direction and I should move, and when the orb wouldn't hit me and I just could stay on my spot. I ran away in vain too many times to keep up my dps. No matter how I tried with different camera angles, the problem was still there. I was furious with myself afterwards. This wasn't the standard that I would settle with. I wanted to do more.

So how can you deal with it? When you've done everything you can to improve your spec and your gear (I had even enchanted my boots with boar's speed before the raid in order to be able to run a bit quicker), when you've done your theorycrafting and you already use every needed addon to help you - how can you still improve?

The answer came to me as I was visiting a real life gym the other day. As I was struggling with the weights, pushing my body a little further than it liked, I reflected on the similarities between the gym and my WoW experiences. And it dawned upon me: if I don't actually put on any weight I won't develop any muscles, I won't get any stronger. If I really want to improve my playing I must give myself a decent resistance. Not go for the easy victories - they won't teach me a thing.

What I really need to do to master Void Reaver and any other mobile fight better is to become more mobile myself - to be able to see the mobs quicker and act from it. And where do I learn that? Well certainly not from farming the usual content, going for the easy gold. Picking berries on Sunwell island or in Netherstorm won't make my WoW muscles grow a bit. I'll get gold, but gold won't buy me a better raid performance.

Instead I should go for the bombing quest in Blades Edge, which I hate since I constantly get shot down, and I've stopped doing at all after the Sunwell patch with the abundance of easy dailies to do. No matter if it's a loss of gold going to BE - it's not the point. The point is to develop my skill.

So the bombing quest will be one of my WoW playing gym machines. Another one will definitely be to do more PvP. It doesn't matter if I don't get any kick out of killing other players. The thing is: they're so much more unpredictable and harder to spot than any mob I normally meet. They're just perfect for getting me in shape.

I've got a game friend, who's actually a bit of a personal WoW trainer for me, if there is such a thing. He wrote the other day: "PvP is a good, though frustrating way of training your awareness of the surroundings. To see your character isn't as important as to se what may occur to her". I think he's quite on the spot. As he always is.

The third gym machine I've got in mind is the Skettis trees. So far I've been quite unable to take them down on my own. But I'm convinced I could do it, if I just trained up my skill. I just need to become better in timing my spells and cooldowns. Using PoM, Cold Snap and Ice Block at exactly the right moment. Not too early, not to late.

Will I die a lot doing this training program? Yes, probably. Will I lose gold for the repairs? Definitely. Will I get annoyed and frustrated? Absolutely. Still, with this gym picture in my mind I think I'll be able to cope with it. I know exactly where I'm aiming.

I want to perform

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My 15 minutes of fame

It all happened this weekend. I had a look at Feedburner, just to check up on how many readers I had on my blog. Usually they're quite few in the weekends: Three or four at the most - maybe just a single one (me). Which made me wonder: do people only read blogs when they're at work?
So I was puzzled - to say the least - to see that I suddenly had 24 visitors. On a Sunday! Where did they all come from? I soon found out. Obviously time had come for my 15 minutes of fame. My blog had been mentioned by Matticus as "upcoming". For some reason my post about WoW as an onion had caught his attention.

Monday came and now my suspicions were confirmed: people DO read blogs as a distraction from work or studies. Now Larísas Corner had it's all time high number of visitors: 48 unique ones! I have absolutely no idea of how it compares to the Major Wow Blogs. Probably it's less visitors then they get any day of the year - New Years Eve included. But for Larísa it's huge.
People from all over the world - US, Hungary, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Brasil...all entering this little corner of the WoW universe, to share my thoughts and company. It's kind of magic.

I often imagine my blog as an inn - or rather as a pub. A place where you sink deeply into a comfortable armchair just by a fireplace. Having a beer, sharing your experience, the joy and the sorrows of the day. Relaxing with friends in Larísas Corner.

This Monday the pub was crowded and cosy. I hope you all enjoyed it. I did.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Proofed to be squishy

I've always been a fan of questionnaires. Don't ask why, it's just an obsession of mine. Once I got a huge one from the Swedish Central Administration for Statistics, asking me about all but everything in my life. I just cheered. Whenever I see a self test in a magazine, no matter how stupid and predictable it is, I'm compelled to complete it and see what kind of lover, how much of a leader or how great a mother I am.

So I was kind of excited the other day when I found out about an online questionnaire about gaming which would give you the answer what kind of gamer you are. (I picked up the link from another blog, unfortunately I'm unable to remember or find out which one right now, whoever it was - thanks!)

I quickly filled in the first one, about what kind of player I am. And then happily a second one, about what kind of guild I'm in. And a third one, about my playstyle. Then it was all over, just like on Christmas Day when you're stupidly looking around you hoping there was another gift that you've missed to open.

Honestly I don't know what to think about the results. They seem a bit too squishy in my eyes. Not that I'd like to be hardcore - I'm not - but when I read the judgements I seem to lack focus. The whole game seems to be like some kind of big zoo to me, where I'm happily walking around, having an ice cream, chatting with my friends. Where's my hunting instinct? Hey! I actually love to shoot those beasts and put them on the wall as trophies. There's nothing that beats a guild first kill! And I do care about Recount lists. It's not the whole world, but I want to do my best.

But according to this test I'm an "ESAK" player. I'm most of all an Explorer (73.33%) and a Socializer (66.67%). A bit of an Achiever (46.67%). I'm definitely not any Killer (13.33%).
And here's the analysis: "ESAK players often see the game world as a great stage, full of things to see and people to meet. They love teaming up with people to get to the hard-to-see places, and they relish unique experiences."

OK, I like going to new areas and having new encounters, but I really want to achieve things as well. Maybe it just reflects that I'm pretty new to the game, comparing to other players. I'm still enjoying exploring the universe. And the extremely low grades for Killer probably is because I'm just not any PvP:er, killing other players doesn't give me the same pleasure as taking down monsters.

Over to the analysis of my guild. According to the test it looks rather soft, just like me, which makes me wonder. Actually I think we're pretty focused at the moment, really wanting to progress in 25 man raiding. But we're called "Colorful-Mellow". This means that we "prefer an environment where *excessive* strong language and discussion of adult subjects are discouraged, but the occasional double entendre or ribald reference is still appreciated." We're also "rarely concerned with how well everyone plays-they are looking for a social experience open to all."

Alright, this thing about our language is true - it's not all that rough (at least when I'm online - I have no idea how the banter goes when the only female player in the guild isn't around). And we're really social, but this thing about not caring at all about how well anyone is playing... That's plain rubbish.

The final test was about playstyle, and if I would follow the results, I should rather drop my pure dps mage and go for a flexible class like druid or paladin. The test calls me "Supporter-Virtuoso".
"This combination is also referred to as the Jack-of-all-Trades playstyle. You are the type of player who likes to fill whatever role is needed in a group; you're not necessarily an expert on all aspects of the game, but you've dabbled with enough that you're comfortable taking on many different challenges. In games that allow multiple types of roles, you probably have several that you switch between depending on the situation. Those who are more interested in guiding and leading the organization look to you as a great resource. "

But except for that I think they're quite right about me. I'm no star in this game. In real life I've been a leader for quite a while, in the game I'm not. I'm perfectly happy being one in the crowd, a soldier doing a decent job, just trying to make things work.So... Did I get any wiser from doing those tests? Absolutely not. Actually they're obviously made not only for WoW players, but for many different games, which makes some of the questions pretty irrelevant. Still: a test is a test, if you're addicted to them you simply have to do it, and if nothing else it gives you a bit of entertainment.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Onion thoughts

Is WoW like an onion? The thought came upon me the other day as I was cooking.

The outer coat is kind of hard to get through. You need to be pretty dedicated to make the initial breakthrough. Use a knife. At least if you're new to gaming like I was. To install the game... to find out about spells and skills, how to move, how to kill, how to level... to get a basic picture of it.

Once you're through the coat you'll find new layers, and as you pass them you get more and more involved in the game. For me I only need to go back to the first postings in my blog, three months ago, to realize how much I've been through since then. At that point 25 man raiding was just a distant dream, nothing I honestly thought I would be doing systematically. Now I'm doing it twice every week, and from the initial total confusion being in such a big party, I'm slowly learning to see some kind of pattern, getting comfortable in the situation, getting a better view and better clue of what actually is going on for every fight. I suck from time to time but I improve. I've definitely gotten through not only one but several layers since February.

Still there are so many layers left to explore. I think the next breakthrough will come as I learn more about the interaction between the classes in 25 man raiding. To get the best out of the raid isn't just about watching your aggro on Omen. I need to learn more about exactly what the tank is doing, about how to coordinate my best cooldowns with others, so I actually can make the most out of heroism and other goodies. I need to learn mana management and improve my spell rotations and - above all - become much much quicker, more movable. Often those things come slowly, you learn without really noticing. But if you just stop for a second and look around, you'll see that you've actually put a layer behind you.

The question is of course: is there any core in this onion? Will I eventually reach a point where I can't see any new layer? Yes and no. On one hand I think you'll never ever be so good at this game that there's absolutely nothing you can improve. Or if there was, Blizzard keeps throwing out new challenges, just to keep you away from the core. On the other hand I think you can feel that you've actually reached as far as you can in the game. The point when you're growing bored and start considering quitting the game. Right now I can't imagine that situation, but life isn't eternal, and the same goes with WoW playing, so the day will come. No doubt.

But until then I'll keep on chopping the onion. And I'll enjoy all the aspects of it: the crying from the losses, the sweetness of the victories and the spicy taste from my friendship with all those other lunatics out there.

Yeah. Just like an onion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Phase shifting in the guild

It's just like in a boss fight. Suddenly the fight goes into a new phase and you must think in a new way, reposition and take control. Suddenly the guild goes into another phase.

The thought strikes me as I'm trying to put together a recruitment ad for my guild. We're going into a new phase and we should try to do it as quick as possible, because getting stuck in between won't be healthy, or at least will stop our progress.

We're currently raiding ZA on our own and 25-man instances in cooperation with another guild. The sign ups for the 25 man raids have become more and more crowded. We've only 10 spots available for our guild, while we've got at least 16 willing to go. And for Danish guild we're running with, the situation is even worse, even when they get 15 spots they've still got plenty of players left out. They've been recruiting pretty aggressively in general, apparently with some success. The other night they announced that they'll probably soon be able to do 25 man runs on their own. It's quite likely that we're going towards the end of an era. We must move on, trying to stand on our own feet. And for that we need about 15 more active players, else it will be hard to fill the raids, especially with summer season coming up.

Generally I think it's better for a guild to grow slowly, being able to incorporate new players into the guild body, make them adapt and feel at home. And I prefer recruiting by reputation and personal connections rather than by advertising. But now I think we must put those principles aside if we want to keep progressing in 25 man instances. We need some more people, pretty fast.

It's not an easy task. Being into PR and marketing in my RL profession, I still find it difficult. There are thousands and thousands of guilds at our level of progression out there. Why should anyone give special attention to us? How could I possibly describe the spirit of the guild, make the audience understand that this isn't just Any kind of guild, this is a Special Golden Guild, one of the Good ones, with great people who're fun to play and socialize with, skilled, generous and mature. It's a guild well worth a realm transfer. But how can I get through with the message? How can I make us stick out from the crowd? In marketing vocabulary: what's our USP, our unique selling point?

I got a letter from my blog friend Consentire the other day, who told me about an unusual strategy for recruiting. In order to make people notice their guild recruiting, they decided to attack the Hungarian population on their server. The Hungarians apparently are a nuisance at the moment, since many of them tend to fill general chat with rambling in their own language.

Now the guild stated in their ad that they refused to accept any Hungarian. Suddenly the realm forum was filled with angry letters, calling them racists. They had managed to make themselves noticed, and the applications started to drop in - 30 applications in a short time. What a success! Recruiting by provoking. It worked just as they planned, although it may seem a bit desperate.

So I guess we'll do it the traditional way. Advertising in the official realm forum, and in the major Swedish WoW forum. Writing messages in general a couple of times a day. Spreading the word to people we know on this and other servers. Maybe doing a bit more of PUG-ing, in order to get to know more people on the server, though it won't be an easy way to go since we want to keep the guild Swedish speaking. How many PUGs do I need to do before I meet a nice and skilled Swedish player in decent gear, looking for a new guild? The drop rate should be pretty low.
What else could we do to be noticed, to stick out from the crowd? Any ideas from the audience are gratefully accepted!

And if someone's curious about the guild, you'll find us at Be warned though, the website's all in Swedish.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sharing knowledge

The other day I was in the bank, as usual trying to squeeze in some more items to my slots, which is hard since I stubbornly refuses to let go of any pet I have, no matter how common and trivial it is. Then I suddenly got a whisper from a hunter standing beside me.

"Wow, you're mana pool is so huge" he said.

"Oh, you really think so? I don't think it's that special, it's got to do with my arcane spec" I replied.(A short interruption here to explain a bit: the other day I wrote Fire mage is a way of life. Which it is. Still I'm currently testing an arcane/frost spec 40/0/21 and so far I'm happy with it. It's never too late for a change...)

It turned out that this hunter had a level 63 mage. And he seemed to be quite fascinated by me as he inspected me. He'd never seen a spec like mine (cough... it's just ordinary raiding spec, I told him, trying to explain a bit about the idea of it) and he all but fainted when I told him about my bonus damage.

"Please show me! Duel me outside of SW. I'd like to see what you crit for".
OK, since I had nothing better to do (except for farming, which I gladly tried to get away from) I agreed and we went out for some demonstrations.

This was the first and last time I won any duel - it turned out he didn't do any resistance at all, he just wanted to see my damage. So I nuked him down with three frostbolts. Then I demonstrated Arcane Blast as well, but also told him about the disadvantage about it - the insane mana cost.

He even recorded our duels, saying he wanted to keep it for further reference. And then he started to beg me for advice about his level 63 mage. Should he go for my spec now?

"Honestly no", I told him, arcane isn't great for levelling purposes. But his current fire spec seemed a bit odd in my eyes. Blazing speed...? Well if you're truly dedicated to PvP but else...? After a discussion he ended up respeccing to deep frost.

"Is it OK if I add you and ask you about things in the future?" he asked. "You've been so kind taking your time. It's the first time anyone does such a thing to me".

"Please do", I said. "I'll try to answer you, unless I'm in a raid, then you probably won't get any reply".

When I logged out I had ended up spending up to an hour on helping this guy. This was time that I could have used to get gold or consumables. Did I feel like had wasted it? Absolutely not. I had a big smile on my face. I just couldn't believe in the first place that someone was thinking that I was a person worth asking. It was really flattering, once I had realized that he actually wasn't making fun of me, which I thought at first. This guy was less experienced than me and he wanted to hear about what I knew about the mage class.

Me! Newbie-Larísa, who is still attending the primary mage school, trying to figure out how to make most out of her class, reading as many forums as she can manage to widen her horizon,. Larísa, who usually is the one asking for advice from experienced players. Now I suddenly was in the opposite role, being someone who was supposed to share her knowledge. OK this guy could probably have found many mages who could have given him better advice than me, but at least I gave him some attention, which he obviously hadn't got before.

Lesson learned:

From now on I'll try not to feel so bad when asking for advice. Now when I've just for once been on the other side I see how rewarding it can be. Not in gold but in boosting your self-confidence and in feeling that you're a quite a nice person. I just hope I'll get the opportunity to do it again.

PS - brief progress report

Tonight we downed Hex Lord for first time and I was there. It was the first time we ever faced him. We had a first try to understand the fight. Wiped. And then we nailed him at second try! I just couldn't believe my eyes. Just a shame that I was so thrilled that I forgot to take any screenshot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I killed my mount

"Have you kept your first mount"?

A guildie put the question to me the other day, in response to another whining outbreak from my side, where I was cursing my constant lack of bag space. From the tone in his voice I could tell that there was only one acceptable answer: "yes, of course!".

Blushing I had to admit that I not only kept it, I even carried it around everywhere in the world where Larísa is going for her adventures. For what reason? I have absolutely no idea. Out of old habit or nostagia I guess. Now, taken off guard, I tried to invent a good cause right away, to be able to say something.

"Yeah. It's nice to have if you're boosting a low level alt in the guild with a slow mount. It's easier to be in company then".

The excuse was lame and I knew it. And so did my guildie.

"That's no problem. Walk a short way. Then stop and wait. Then walk again. There's no reason to keep it. You must clear bag space if you want to get gold easier (we had been discussing why I don't yet have any epic flying mount)".

He was dead right. It was time to take farewell of my old companion, the Blue mechanostrider. I felt it in my heart and I decided to do it right away before I grew soft and changed my mind.
So I went where I always go in Stormwind when I want to vendor something quickly, to the closest inn right beside the bank.

I was wondering how much I would get from it. This mount that had cost me such a fortune at level 40. What would it be worth now? One gold? 50 silver?

Believe my surprise when I found out what everybody else probably already know: the inn keeper just frowned upon me! No matter how I begged, no matter how experienced this bird was, knowing his way in every corner of the Old World. No matter how sweet he was (in comparison with the epic version, which in my opinion is rather ugly, to be honest).

She didn't want it.

So with a tear in my eye corner I decided to give my old companion killing blow. I trashed him right away, and on the question "are you sure" my answer was DELETE. For once I had taken a rational decision. I just hope it was the right one.

Still I want to send a little plea to Blizzard, if someone from them one day happens to stumble upon my blog:

Couldn't you please invent some kind of mausoleum for outdated mounts and pets? Somewhere to keep those creatures who have served us so well, just for nostalgic reasons? I would even be willing to pay 1 gold instead of getting one, just to know that my mount got a better ending than now, this heartless deleting.

We may need to kill our mounts, but at least we want to give them a decent funeral.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a cry for joy

Oh this isn't any real blog post. Just a little outcry to share my pure joy after the progress we did tonight!

First we downed Void Reaver - a first kill for my guild as well as for me. He didn't drop any mage shoulders at all - but who cared? A dead boss is a dead boss!

And then we went to Zul Aman and had some really good tries on Jan'alai. The last one he was way below 30 percent, all eggs gone since long. We learned the drill with the eggs and the bombs (putting the camera so you see it from above and zooming out really helps a lot there - first time I've seen myself as an ant in the game) and I know for sure we'll get him next time we pay him a visit. We've really gotten to know that gentleman.

All my stores are empty after yesterday. Potions, buffood, elixirs - you name it. I ate mad alchemist potions like mad, giving away all my mana pots to the poor healers. And the repair bill was huge, armor down to 4 percent after Jan'alai. But who cares? To me this is was raiding is about. The learning process. Nothing in the world can beat it. I'd rather have 2 badges from Void Reaver and a huge repairbill as my only reward from 5 hours of raiding than 22 badges from the hundredth run through Kara.

I already long for next time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Times They Are A-Changing

"Oh you should have been around in the old days... Naxx...bla bla... much better in BG...bla bla... When epics ware really exclusive and the game wasn't populated by noobs...."

Have you heard it before? Being a late starter I can't help getting a bit fed up with that kind of talk. I can take some of it, but after a while I just want to shout:
"Congrats for having so much fun in the old days, but if you think the game has become spoiled, why don't you just leave it and leave us, who still are enchanted and thrilled, alone? WE still enjoy WoW in the TBC shape, don't ruin it with your whining!"

I wonder what will happen to me with the expansion? Will I become one of those grumpy old self-pitying players? I see myself talking about how good the game was in The Burning Crusade Era, when raiding instances actually took some commitment and you had to get through endless attunement procedures, sorting out the weed, before you could enter. I'll probably tell new players about how excited I was, even to just enter the doors of Karazhan, since it had taken us so much of work to do it. Now with The Wrath of the Lich King, just anybody will be able to go into a raid instance without further preparations. What has become of the world? Oh dear, oh dear...

Yeah. I've been reading the glimpses of information about the expansion that went official the other day. Actually I think what I've heard so far seems pretty promising.

Though I have some mixed feelings about the lack of attunements, there are other things that sound really good to me. 10 man versions of the 25 man raids, yay! Still you keep the best rewards for the 25 man ones - that's only fair. This change should make the transition easier for a small guild trying to go from 10 to 25.

Another great thing is making the 5 man instances a bit shorter. It will be more friendly for people with families and other RL commitments. And the ones who are free to play as long as they want - well nothing stops them for running several instances in a row.

What about the Death Knight class then? Well, I don't know yet. I guess it will increase the tank supply, which is a good thing. And I see no reason not to start one for myself, it seems like a bonus for anyone of us that have a char past level 55. So why not use it? If I'll level it is an entirely different question. To be honest I think my first priority will be to get Larísa to 80. Only after I've done that I'll want to try out the new class and see if I fall in love with it, if I'll feel the urge to bring it up.

Oh those new pictures and glimpses from the new world, they're really tasty samples that make me want more of it. (Exactly what they want to achieve I guess). I can just imagine the feeling of leaving the well-known grounds of Outlands, setting course for an entire new world to explore. Yummy!

Still... as I've said before there's no rush to me. Please, please, Blizzard. Keep working on WotLK for a while... Give me time to see a few more of the bosses in SSC, TK or even beyond!

The Times They Are A-Changing. And there's nothing we can do about it. Just pray and hope it will take some time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Projects - a matter of choice

We all have them - to greater or lesser extent. Our Game Projects. Like if they were small plants or babies, we care for them, nourish them, give them their daily fertilizer. But there are different ways to handle them.

Some of us prefer to dive deep into one project at a time. We call it The Project, The One and Only, and we give it every single moment we can spare (outside of raiding, pvp-ing or whatever is the main purpose of our playing).

Nothing can pull us away from it, once we've started. We become like rabid dogs, refusing to let go of our pray. It could be levelling the fastest possible in order to join some friends at a higher level. It could be collecting mats for our spellfire set that will make us ready for some decent raiding. It could be the god grinding for an epic mount or reputation grinding for a pattern or recipe we desperately need. As a reward for our commitment we'll reach our goal pretty fast. On the other hand it's only ONE goal we'll reach. In every other aspect of the game our progress will be minimal, everybody else will seem too rush ahead of us when it comes to other tasks - badge collecting, honour point grabbing and such.

Then there are others who won't put all their savings into just one single bet. We'll spread our efforts between not only one or two, but up to ten or twenty different projects. A little now, a little then. In one single evening we'll finish two quests levelling our alt, get up our fishing skill one point, run one Eye of the Storm to get a few honour points for that PvP piece we want, gather one primal mana to that thing we're crafting, collect a few Marks of Sargeras for that Aldor rep and finally do three daily quests to gather a little more gold for that mount of our dreams. With this approach we'll be rewarded by getting a character that is improved in an allround way. Eventually we'll achieve a lot. And we'll get a lot of variety while doing it, the game will never become repetitive and boring. On the other hand it will take us ages to go there, for a long time we'll feel like not progressing at all, just standing at the same spot.

So - what approach is best then? And what about me? Am I single focused or do I do a little of everything, tasting every single dish on the buffet? Well, if I have to choose I actually believe more in the former strategy - to try to focus on a few things rather than to split your attention into dozens of projects that never seem to come to an end. My main reason is that I think you really need to complete projects every now and then in order to get some energy to proceed. You need the reward, the feeling of achievement, to manage to continue doing things that can become a bit monotonous after a while. And if you reach one goal it can often help you to reach other goals more easily, at least when the goal is about gear upgrades.

Knowing this, I still tend to end up having too many projects. Whenever I manage to finish a project there seem to pop up at least two new ones. It's a never ending story, though I guess it's the way the game works. If you haven't got any projects it's probably a sign that you're losing interest in it altogether. Still I think I should try to focus a bit more on one or to projects at a time - if I only could chose. I'm really angry with myself from time to time, finding it so hard to make decisions and stick to them.

Last week I managed to get end two of my projects and I'm happy about that:
One was the achievement of the Champion of the Naaru title, where I ran quite a few instances in a brief time - which was quite easy to do since there were a few more guildies striving for the same title. If I hadn't had that help it would definitely had taken me longer. I also got the badge dagger that I had been collecting for for a while - something that certainly was helped by my instance running for the title.

So what's up next then?
  • The never ending collecting of gold for my epic flying mount. I'm halfway now.

  • Collecting gear for the Sorcerer's Alchemist stone. One more primal might needed, a diamond and a bunch of primal fires, but I'm not too far from it.

  • Getting mats to have someone make Belt of Blasting for me. I've already got a great belt, but that one is awesome since you can gem it. It will be the next gear gathering project after I've got the trinket.

  • Getting exalted with Keepers of Time. I was just pointed out from a guildie that Flask of Supreme Power would be a much better choice for me currently being arcane/frost, since it will boost both frost and arcane spells. Until today I've been using Flask of Pure death. Mats are a bit less expensive for that flask as well. But to get the recipe I have to get rep with KoT unless I want to run Scholomance numerous times to see if it drops. I gather doing a few BMs is quite a lot quicker.

  • Getting exalted with Consortium. Currently I get crap gems in my monthly bag.

  • Gathering some Eye of the Storm marks and honour points to get that PvP neck with spell haste rating that seems pretty nice.

  • Start out working on the Black Temple attunement quest line. I'm still stuck on Tablets of Baa'ri. Though there's no logical reason for me to do it, attunement requests removed since the last major patch, it still feels nice to do it the original way. And it will probably give me some gold and fun while doing it. Even though I may never ever see BT from inside before the expansion.

  • Levelling Arisal, my rogue alt. I love her. How can I let her stay at 23? She hasn't even done any instance yet (unless boosted, which doesn't count). I want to learn how to play a rogue!
Oh dear. What a list. Eight projects that I come to think of instantly, probably there are even more of them that just slipped my mind and others I have never dared to look closer at (like collecting cards for a Darkmoon faire trinket). Eight projects are at least five to many. Every one of them has its rightful place on the list. Yet some of them will have to wait. If I could only make up my mind! Too many projects. Too little time. It's the constant state of my World of Warcraft gaming.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Things I've yet to learn at level 70

The other day I wrote a blog post about things that I've learned since level 1. Now I'll tell you about the things that I still haven't learned, no matter how stupid it will make me in the eyes of the readers. Yes, it's time for some more confessions from Larísa. Here we go!

How to win a duel
I've got a full epic mage, still I'm a disaster when it comes to duelling. Nowadays I challenge my guildies frequently since I really want to improve. And some of them are polite enough to give me a few seconds advantage to begin with. They let me sheep them for a little while since they know it makes me so happy. But if we're duelling seriously it always ends up with them sapping me, making me completely incapacitated for a while. And then before I know it I'm dead. Could someone please start a summer course of duelling? I'd definitely volunteer as a pupil. Oh, wouldn't it be sweet if I one day could own a guildie of mine in a duel, in a honest fight. Just once!
How to find my way in Karazhan
This one is embarrassing, but it's quite evident that my bad sense of orientation in RL breaks through in Azeroth as well. Though I've been there every week the last six months, I still fail to find my way and sort out what ramp leads to Netherspite and where to go to find Aran. I can orient in the lower parts, but the higher are just confusing. (Thanks god for warlock summonings).

How to handle DKP
Though I've been raiding for a while now I've never played in a guild using DKP. Which is good for me, since I'm pretty scared of it. I'm just such a lousy poker player, I know I'd be a loser at all times, I just wouldn't know when to bid and when to save. It's the same thing as in AH, I'm never the one that make bargains, I'm the one that other can make good affairs from.
How to act in Alterac Valley
I still haven't got a clue what to do when I'm there. If I'm not with guildies I just tend to follow the stream, though I instinctively think it must be wrong. Should we really be like flies, going for the sugar, everybody at the same spot? Wouldn't it be wiser to spread out a bit?
If I'm with guildies I do as they say and try to follow them, they seem to know what they're doing. The only problem is when I die at a different spot to them. Sometimes I manage to connect to them again, sometimes not. Oh, will I ever get out the complete noob stadium when it comes to Battleground? I guess 900 lifetime kills isn't enough?

How to mark and lead an instance run
One day I'll do it. It's one of those mountains that begs me to be climbed. Will I ever be ready? I guess the first step is to actually try to memorize how others mark up the mobs (not only executing the orders without thinking about them further). And to do some homework, looking up tactics on wowwiki. Although I've done all of the instances by now, it definitely takes more of knowledge if you're supposed to lead it than if you just follow.
How to do the bombing in Blade's Edge without getting shot down
I hate the bombing quest in Blade's Edge. I guess it's because it really sorts out the skilled players from the... well... less talented, like me. In theory I know I should fly in, shoot, and then quickly dive or turn either way. Just not hang around close to the cannon. Still I've never succeeded in completing that quest without getting shot down once or twice. Some people say it's easier if you've got an epic flying mount. Which I haven't. But I think it's a lame excuse. However I've given up that quest altogether now, with all the new dailies at the Island. Bombing Pit Lords and Sourcerers is a hell lot easier and less time consuming.
How to run, jump and hit a spot of my own choice
It isn't often, but every now and then in the game, you're required to make some precision jumping. Like a quest in Searing Gorge, where you're supposed to kill a bunch of elites standing around a pool of lava. Then you must jump exactly to a small step stone in the middle of that pool. If you miss it you'll die. And you can't just jump from a spot, you need to do it on the run to have the right speed to land right. Oh, what a pain it was. I remember ending up using some fire protection potion in order to complete it... In Slave Pens there's a shortcut you can use that also takes some precision jumping onto an ever so narrow shelf. I hate it when parties suggest you take the shortcut. Sometimes I reach it, sometimes I just have to deliberately drown in the water (where you land if you fail in your jumping) and get ressed so we can proceed. It's humiliating. I really need to improve my jumping skills.

How to make the best out of the addons I have
I'm just so lazy when it comes to addons. If I only could put in a little more time and showed ever so little patience I'm convinced they'd offer me so much more support than they do today. Take Scrolling Combat Text for instance... It looks just ... so messy. I'm sure it could be much cleaner, less distracting, without losing information value. The same with X-pearls that has a ton of settings I haven't bothered to check out. Or Arkinventory. I have just done a little basic sorting, keeping herbs, food, questitem and gear apart from each other, but I could surely do much better sorting than that. It's really stupid, why do I overload my memory with a lot of finesses I never ever take benefit from?

How to perform World PvPing
Being on a PvE server, there still seems to be some world PvP-ing going on. From time to time there's warnings coming in the chat. "The Horde has taken over...XXX!". That doesn't tell me a thing and even if I bothered I actually have no idea at all of what I should do. The question is: am I absolutely right in neglecting that stuff? Or am I really missing something?

How to survive as Little Red Hood
I hate that boss. I just hate him. Enough said.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Things I've learned since level 1

Matticus had a nice blog post the other day 20 Things I Know at Level 70 that I Didn't Know at Level 1, about things he would like to tell someone who was just about to pick up the game, to save them learning it by themselves the hard way.

I love that kind of list posts. Just making a list out of an idea gives you some kind of authority, doesn't it? It seems so well thought over. Here's someone that has dived deeply into a subject, systematically, if he's made a list of it he must have covered it all. Is there really anything I would like to add out of a Larísa perspective? I doubt it, but I'll give it a go.

  • Be honest. You could be secret about your private life for whatever reason, shyness, lack of self confidence, the wish to hide from the world... but don't lie. Don't pretend to be a girl when you're not, trying to get some favours out of it. (Maybe you will to begin with but you'll also easily enough tangle yourself into a web of lies that will be harder and harder to get out of. ) Don't say that you've got more experience than you've had, that you've "done Karazhan" when you've only been there twice. People don't hate you for being new to the game. But they hate you for lying. I've been honest about myself from the very first day - not pretending to be anything but a 40 year old female newbie (though a pretty serious newbie). It hasn't hurt at all - it has given me a tonnage of game friends and wonderful gaming memories.
  • Do your homework. There's a wealth of knowledge out there, things that will help you to become a better player, to level smoother, to perform better in Arena, instances or whatever you prefer. Theorycrafting isn't only for hardcore players in top rated guilds - it's even more useful for us casuals that can benefit from the research of others without having to figuring out everything for ourselves. It will take a few hours from your gaming time to actually read up a bit about an instance before pugging it for the first time, or picking your spec out of some kind of idea rather than by hazard. But it's well invested time that will pay off in the long run.
  • Don't be shy. Don't just play safe. Overcome your prejudices and barriers and try out aspects of the game that you thought wasn't for you. Take challenges that are offered to you - leave your comfort zone. You can surprise yourself and you'll definitely learn a lot from it. I waited way to long before doing instances in a systematic way. I guess I thought I knew too little about what I was doing in order to dare playing with complete strangers, making a fool out of myself. If I'd known by then what I know now I wouldn't have hesitated doing Deadmines at the right level. I really regret that I've only done it boosting others or being boosted myself. If I had had the guts I would have improved in the game much faster than I did.
  • Think ahead and put up long term plans and goals. There's no reason you shouldn't think about the future while levelling. If you intend to enjoy end game with your char, raiding for instance, plan for it right from the beginning, when picking professions, when thinking about what instances to run, what drops to try to get, what reputation to focus on. I had no idea about those things, just randomly making my way through the levels. If I'd known then what I know now I would have made Larísa a tailor, making a spellfire and spellstrike set to put on as soon as she dinged 70.
  • Don't settle with mediocrity. Try to level a bit not only when it comes to your char and your gear, but also when it comes to guilds. This doesn't mean that you should constantly be guild shopping. You could perfectly well be so lucky that you find The Guild of Your Heart early in your gaming career. Then stay there, but don't settle with it - try to participate in developing the guild, making progress one way or another (not necessary in downing bosses, there are other ways to progress). A guild can always become better. What I'm trying to point out is that there are so many really good guilds out there. Don't settle with a mediocre guild just because you randomly got into it when you were ninja invited to it when you didn't have much clue about the game at all. Give yourself the decent guild that you deserve.
  • Gear will get outdated at the next expansion or even the next patch. Friends won't. The most precious that your character has is not in the bank slot, your bag or something she wears. It's the friends list. Take good care about it. This game is as much about socializing as about skill. Your friends will be your best teachers. They'll laugh with you when you make a stupid error in an instance, causing everyone to die. They'll cheer for you when you win the roll - and cry with you when you lose it. They'll help you to see things clearly, when it's time to move on to another guild, when it's time for a change (that will inevitably come sooner or later in your gaming career). Fiends are epic. Gear is not, at least not for long.
  • Use your gaming time wisely. You'll soon enough find out you haven't got the time you need to do everything you want to in the game. Why waste it on nothing? This doesn't mean that you should treat the game as a work, only doing "useful" things all the time. But it means that you should spend time on things that will give you pleasure and entertainment in one way or another - for the time being - or later on, if you're for instance grinding mats for some resistance gear you just have to obtain before a certain raid encounter or trying to get the gold you need for your epic flying mount. Using the time means that while you're waiting for a party to assemble you could as well organize your bags, pick some flowers in the surroundings or train yourself to become a better player by duelling your friend. Do whatever that suits with your current goals and plans. But don't just aimlessly stroll around, telling the world that you're bored with the game or spamming crap in general out of pure frustration. If you can't focus on doing something fun or useful, then you should just turn of the PC imo.

That was my philosophical kind of list. Then I can't refrain myself from giving some more hands-on kind of advice for people who are completely new to the game just as I was myself in the beginning of 2007. Those players probably won't find my blog to read those ramblings, but what the hell:

  • Repair your gear. It took myself quite a few levels to understand the meaning of the red guy that appeared on the screen, the concept of repairing the gear.

  • There are several tabs where to put your talents. Not only the top one. Explore them all! (I think I'm not alone in that error).

  • Get used to visit AH early in the game - but concentrate on selling rather than buying while levelling. You would be surprised if you knew how well just some copper ore will be payed. (I didn't dare go into AH until at least after level 30).

  • Don't ever buy gear from the vendors, trying to tempt you with staffs, daggers, cloth gear and so on. It's just crap and expensive if you compare it to quest rewards, drops and whatever you'll find at AH. (Isn't it kind of mean of Blizzard putting up all those vendors, just in order to fool new players?)

  • Get yourself some basic addons. It will make your playing so much easier. And it's not only for pro gamers. From my point of view Blizzard hasn't really completed the game UI, they have left the last finish to the gaming community. You should get that part to.

  • Learn first aid right from the beginning. It will save you loads of time and pain.

  • Take up cooking as well. It will save you a lot of money and boost you in the long run.

  • Use whatever money you can spare to buy bags. It will save you sooo many trips to vendors for clearing bags or even the saddening process of destroying things just because there isn't room.

  • Talk to other players! Don't be shy. Ask people in the same area that obviously are doing the same quest if you could join the party. You'll make the quest twice as fast and have twice as fun. At least. (It took myself ages before I realized that.)

  • There's a subway between Stormwind and Ironforge. Use it. Don't try to invent any other way by swimming or running through hostile areas.
So this was what I've learned since level 1. One day or another I'll write a post about things that I haven't yet learned. They are numberous. Luckily enough. Because when you've learned everything about the game, what is there really left to do?

Monday, May 5, 2008

To press under pressure

In theory everyone in a raid is equally important. There's no room for slackers, if you mess up and just don't do your job the raid will fail. To raid is to be under a certain pressure, that's a part of the deal, what makes it so fun if you're that kind of person. It's the tension and the adrenaline rush that gives us the kick.

In practice though, the pressure varies. There are always those roles in a fight that are more exposed. It's those tasks that have the effect that if one single player fails in doing his job the whole raid will wipe. There's no pardon. For instance there's the mage tanking task in Gruuls lair. You have to manage to do a good pull and just cant mess around with the spellsteal hot key. People will notice. Trust me.

I've got mixed feelings for those tasks, being aware of the limits of my skill as a player. Am I really reliable? I ask myself. And once you start asking yourself those questions there's an increasing risk that the answer will be "no". On the other hand you can't just chicken out of it. Everyone has got to do what the raid leader tells us to. If not - what are you there for? Pushing your limits, acting under pressure, that's what's raiding is all about. And above all - if you actually perform those highlighted assignments you feel pretty good about yourself afterwards.

Yesterday I suddenly found myself in that situation, without planning for it at all. We were in Magtheridon for the third or fourth time or so. In this fight, for you that haven't done it, there's a thing about some cubes that need to be clicked at a certain point in order to prevent huge damage. They must be clicked at the same time - not to early, not to late - by five players. If you fail - the raid dies. So just to be sure the normal procedure is to assign not only clickers, but standby-clickers, that can step forward if the first one dies. It sounds pretty easy and I guess it would be if it wasn't for the fact that there's something in the fight that makes you bounce around every now and then, which makes at least me pretty disoriented. It can be a bit tricky to actually know you're position in the cave and move over to your spot in time to click. So until now I hadn't volunteered as cube clicker, I was pretty happy that others did.

But the raid leader yesterday wasn't asking for volunteers. He just assigned us. And suddenly I found myself being second clicker on one of the cubes, in case the first one would die. OK I thought, I had to try this out at some point in my raiding career and being number second seemed a good way to start. But I asked another guildie to be third back up clicker, in case I would fail. Just to be sure.

The encounter started and everything went on as planned. The dps was good, channelers went down fast and soon enough the raid leader called out that we should move over to the cubes. So I did - and found that there was no one there except for me. Were the heck was the first clicker? Had he died? No - everyone was up and healthy. Had he gone invisible? Probably not, being a warrior. What would happen if he was somewhere around and I just didn't see him - if we doubleclicked it, two players at one time? Would it work? I had no idea, but I knew someone just had to click the cube, so when the raid leader called it out I pressed it. "Well done", the raid leader called out. Apparently it had worked. The five-man clicking team had done their job. And I was a part of it! The fight continued and we did the same procedure again a couple of times. Towards the end things went a bit more difficult, the roof falling down when Magtheridon's down at 30 percent. But I iceblocked it and then made it to the cube again. Still no first clicker in sight. As a matter of a fact I clicked that cube for the whole encounter, since I managed to survive, despite falling stones and other obstacles. Actually most of us did, we just had a few dead players and we nailed the boss in the first try.

Oh, happiness! I found myself way down on the dmg list, which sucks, but being a clicker I spent a little too much time out of range of nuking him. But what did that matter, really? I had been under pressure and I had pressed the button exactly in the right moment for the whole fight. The raid leader had trusted me and I hadn't failed.

I know that for some of you that are reading this blog, this fight is so easy that it's boring, no challenge at all. But at my level it is, believe me. Most of all I was happy that I actually had noticed the absence of the first clicker and that I had taken action. Sometimes I get just to busy watching bars of different addons or listening to the raid leader that I actually miss to see what's really going on on the screen. This time I hadn't and I had thought for myself, made my own decision to jump in. This really boosted my self confidence. (It turned out afterwards that there had been some misunderstanding about who really was the number one clicker. Two guys were thinking the other one was.)

It only felt appropriate that I also got my first title ever in this game the very same evening: Larísa nowadays is a Champion of the Naaru, since downing Magtheridon was the last step in a huge quest chain that I've spent the last week doing.

Then we went to The Eye and got Void Reaver to 15 percent, which wasn't bad since it was our first time there - next time I'm sure we'll get him. And as a dessert of this lovely evening we had a quick trip to Kara, taking down Prince and Netherspite, which gave me the last few badges I needed to buy my 150 badges dagger that I instantly got enchanted and equipped before calling it night. This was a wonderful ending of a wonderful night that I'll try to keep now as a treasure in my collection of raiding night memories.

There will be times in the future when I'll be put under pressure and fail it. Those things happen when you raid. But then I can always recall this night when I did my job, faultlessly. If I did it now I can do it again. Larísa is growing up. Who knows, one day I'll even have the guts to volonteer?