Monday, June 30, 2008

My last five hours in WoW

The other day I came by an old 20-questions-interview made by Matticus. He put the following question to Phaelia from Resto4life:

Let’s hypothetically assume Blizzard goes out of business and decides to shut down their servers and WoW for good. You have 5 hours before the server shutdown is permanent. What would you do in 5 hours?

Actually this type of question often is used to help you to find out what’s most important to you in real life. Usually you’re supposed to imagine you’ve got a certain amount of time left to live – be it a month or a year. How would you best use the time you have left? Sometimes the question is put in another manner: what would you like people to say about you holding a speech at your funeral? Thinking this way many people realize that having a successful career may not be so crucial after all, not compared to relations with friends and family.

Using this model of a question in a WoW context is a great idea and I couldn’t resist starting to think about how I would have answered the question. What aspects of the game do I appreciate most of all and what kind of last memory would I like to keep in my heart the day I’ll have to leave Azeroth forever? Limiting the time to five hours makes it quite hard to make up your mind – you really have to use the time wisely.

So what have I come up with so far? Well I think I’d want to grab nine of my best friends in the game and have a last run in Karazhan or possibly Zul Aman. Sticking to ten people I’d be sure to enjoy some of the best sides of raiding – the smooth cooperation, like a well-working machine, the comradeship, the laughter in the vent, the playfulness and brightness. I do love 25 man raiding but considering the short time available I’d rather play safe and stick to the small format to make sure it would be a success.

After clearing a last raid instance, I’d however go for a little wipe feast! Yes! I’d like to stick my little curious gnome face into Black Temple or Sunwell. OK, we’d wipe at trash mobs, but at least I would like to open the door and have a look and see whatever I can of it from the hallway.

Whatever time was left – maybe half an hour or an hour – I think I’d spend having some kind of party with guildies, friends – and maybe some strangers as well. We would have some awesome fireworks, light fires everywhere, do silly dances, eat chocolate cakes to grant us happiness, hug and blow kisses to each other, crying and laughing, sharing stories and memories from the game.

And what about the very end? At first I imagined I’d find a beautiful, stunning way to let Larísa die. To let her throw herself out of some high spot, let her fall and fall through the world, like Alice falling into the Wonderland. And then let her fade away, the world turning all gray. She would wander into the land of shadows and forever be a ghost in the deserted Blizzard Space.

But now I’ve changed my mind. I would rather take off Larísa all of her armory and fancy weapons and just dress her in her white wedding dress.

Her feet would be bare, her hands empty. I want her to be plain and innocent, the way she entered Azeroth long time ago.

Then I’d put her in a cheerful place – somewhere were sun’s shining, the grass is green and the water’s clear crystal blue. Perhaps in Nagrand, perhaps in a field in Goldshire. I’d bring her a nice pet for company. Perhaps Snowshoe the rabbit. He’s not exclusive, but he’s damn nice to pat.

And when the server finally would close I could comfort myself at the thought that Larísa would keep on playing merrily in the fields, even without me logging on.

My five last hours in the game. How would you spend yours?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Party time

Softi asked for some kind of opening party – and here you are! I hope you can see the fireworks in the night sky outside of the window and the sparkling confetti filling the air. We’re offering loads of Delicious chocolate cakes, which I guarantee will keep you happy the whole night and free drinks of your choice to go with it. Personally I’d like to recommend Kreeg’s Stout Beatdown which I bought in Dire Maul. It will keep your spirits up for the whole night!

Well now that the party’s going on (yeah, hordies, you’re invited too, don’t be shy, you don’t have to hide in the dark corner, bloodelf or night elf, tauren or dwarf, you’re all welcome to Larísa’s), I come to think of other parties I’ve seen in the game.

To be honest they’re not many. Maybe there are parties going on all over Azeroth in secrecy – it’s just that I’m not invited.

However, there’s one spot in the game which I’ve always thought would be the perfect place for running a nightclub with a crowded dancefloor. You probably know what I’m thinking of? Yes, of course – the cave at the fp in Un’Goro Crater with all those glowing crystals. They look just like spotlights, putting you in the right mood. So far I’ve never seen a party going on there, but who knows, one day I may arrange one myself.

In one of my former guilds they actually used to arrange parties to celebrate those who dinged 70. They used to assemble at one of the less crowded inns in Stormwind. After having quite a few drinks the party would move on to AH, jumping up beside the auctioneer, using it as a dance floor. I say “they”, since Larísa was a young and shy newbie and definitely didn’t want to draw attraction to herself in that manner. I was hiding in the corner, watching my guildies, half ashamed, half fascinated by this way of using the game as a stage of your own.

Anyway I just wanted to tell you that The Pink Pigtail Inn now officially has opened and I hope you feel at home as much as I do.

Let’s party!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm moving into this place

As you may have noticed by now, I've decided to move my blog into this place. I'm still in the process of transfering the old postings, which will take a while. Until that grind is completed I'll post double - here as well as at my old blog Larísa's Corner . When the transfer is done I'll put a STOP ad on my old site and just let it stay deserted, the way it is, so links to it won't end up in an error message.

There still are a few ajustments which need to be done to my new home. Like finding a way to make the frame of the header invisible. If you have suggestions and hints about how I could improve the blog, please tell me! I'm still a blog newbie.

Anyway: if you want to follow the future ramblings of Larísa, you can as well change your bookmarks or blogroll right away.

This place reflects more of my picture of what this blog should be like. Thank you to Gurraberra for helping me creating a header. And thank you Zakesh for naming my pub: The Pink Pigtail Inn.

The blog has sort of a double name nowadays. This is still Larísa's Corner of Azeroth as well as the WoW Community. But the corner is situated in this spot, called The Pink Pigtail Inn.
Readers are free to chose the name you like best.

Feel at home and welcome back!

Your innkeeper


Gnomes, gnomes, gnomes

I don't have many pictures on my blog being such an awful photographer. And I rarely boost about my recent epic loot. But here's an exception. The very sight of this little gnome army which comes with Tiny Voodoo Mask makes me smile and I just had to share it with you. (It dropped for me from Hex Lord the other night.)

Honestly I don't know if this trinket is as awesome as it looks. I'm afraid not, at least not for raiding purposes. Although this picture of an army of tiny gnomes, taking down Illidian, which I found on the WoW forums, tells quite a different story.
The damage isn't really too impressive. The gnomes makes some kind of sparkles which hurt for 150-200 dmg each for a short while. And then there's 10 minutes of cooldown, so you can't use it that often.

I've been told it could be useful in PvP though, so I'd better try it out. If nothing else - just to confuse the enemies a bit by all those gnomes running around. And I'll definitely use it in duels, just to give myself and my guildies a laugh. Which is epic enough in my eyes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moderation and addiction

A new shared topic seem to be coming up among the WoW blogs, although this time it wasn't initiated by Blog Azeroth. I'm thinking about the recent postings about the addictive sides of the game, how WoW easily can consume your whole life if you aren't careful. Balancing RL with WoW playing is a challenge to many players. I think that's why the Confessions from a former hardcore raider, written by Monique, makes many of us feel a bit uneasy.

The situation she's describing is far, far from anything I've ever heard of in this game, it's beyond addiction, it's way out of control... A true nightmare if you ask me. But still, at least I cant just shrug and think "well, that's bad for her, but she's one exception, too bad she couldn't handle it, but 99 percent of the WoW population can, forget about it and move on". Because honestly it's not true. I think many of us sometimes ask ourselves the question if our passion for the game really only is healthy and if we're making the right choices trying to play in a balanced way.

Several bloggers have already picked up this thread and made some great posts about it: Noobding, Matticus, Eye for an Eye, Aspect of the hare and Be Nameless are the ones I've spotted so far and maybe more will come.

So what's my thoughts on this?

Well, the discussion of addiction isn't exactly new. The discussions often tend to become rather black and white. The one's who have stopped playing tells the world about it on the wowdetox site, which sometimes makes me think of some kind of extreme religious meeting. Only the people who have seen the light will count, the others are poor lost souls still stuck in the darkness.

If you look into the WoW forums on the other hand, the community sometimes has tendencies to put their heads into the sand, not wanting to see or hear anything. People and situations as the one Monique describes doesn't seem to exist. Or they react with anger, since gaming as such is so much frowned up from the rest of society, not getting the respect and acceptance it deserves just like any other kind of hobby. Some WoW players refuse to discuss the issue seriously, being sick and tired of the prejudices you meet all the time being a gamer.

The reality of course is full of shades and nuances. Isn't it always? When it comes to me - . yes, I'm probably a bit addicted. Passionate sounds better, but addicted is just as true, it depends on how you put it. But I'm addicted to coffee as well, so that doesn't say much, does it? The problem is that being addicted to WoW easily demands very much more of your time and thus affects your life in general, than having a cup of coffee does.

You can't deny that the game can be a huge time sink, depending on what aspect of the game you enjoy most. I imagine it's quite easy to play the game with moderation (which in my world would mean maximum 7 hours a week) if you're happy with soloplaying, just levelling a toon, questing or doing a little BG now and then for pleasure, not participating very much in group activities. But once you get hooked on raiding in endgame or really want to climb the ranking lists of PvP it's quite a different game. There's a minimum level of how much time you need to spend weekly farming consumables, gold, gearing up and looking up on boss strategies to be able to get anywhere at all with the things you enjoy most in the game - even if you consider yourself a very moderate, casual raider. And once you get friends in the game and a nice guild you'll also feel that a couple of hours a week really isn't enough - if you're unlucky you may not even see them online. The social side of the game is probably even more addicting than the well known psychological mechanisms that are triggered by the loot-reward system.

Sooner or later we're all facing the choice: can I enjoy the game with the hours I'm able to put into it without actually sacrificing friends, family, job or my physical health (due to lack of sleep and exercise)? Or will it become too bleak?

For me playing the game without raiding at all seems quite impossible. If I had no other choice, due to RL obligations, but to play it for just a few hours a week, I'd rather drop WoW altogether. It would be too painful to see all the doors available in the game, leading to rooms I know I'd love to explore, but closed for me simply because of my lack of time.

On the other hand I really don't have to be raiding Sunwell to be happy in the game. I'm perfectly happy doing a little progress in T5 raid instances, learning to master ZA, getting regular challenges for my mage which force me to become a better player. I can satisfy my raid cravings by raiding twice a week - I don't have to do it five nights a week to be happy in the game.

Still I know I've got to watch out. I think it's easier than you believe to end up like Monique did if you're not careful. Once starting to make progress - personal in the guild - you may get blinded by the speed, becoming to greedy. One thing leads to next and suddenly you've ended up as a hardcore player though it never actually was your intention.

The risk of doing that - losing proportions, giving the game more of your time and engagement than you really want - is probably enhanced by the quite democratic structure of the WoW community. I think it's a bit different from the sports world. When it comes to football 99 percent of the population is totally happy playing for fun in a field near their home. They don't think for a second they'd ever get into the national football team. They play at their own level without reflecting about it. But in WoW the national team is much more available.

The other day I found myself chatting with a guy in the second best guild of our server. He spends five nights a week in Sunwell and god knows how many hours farming for consumables and repairs. We live in quite separate worlds - but not more separate than that we've pugged together a couple of times. We soon found that we really enjoyed discussing different aspects of the game - no matter that he was on a different level of it.

Likewise I can take part of the quite advanced discussions at Elitistjerks if I want to, learning from the absolute top click of players. I find it hard to believe that you could so easily get in touch with top players in football or any other kind of competitive activities as you can in WoW.
This availability may be a bit treacherous - it can lead into a path where you want to become one of them yourself - which may end up in disaster, like it did for Monique.

What's the solution to this? Well apart from watching out for your own part, maybe we should watch out a bit for those that we care about. Guildies and people on our friends list. If we see signs that they're obviously out of control - maybe we could try to tell them that - in a nice manner. I think it's easier to take that kind of advice or interference from someone who's in the game themselves than listening to non gamers who don't have a clue.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

10 top WoW-moments of Larísa

Blog Azeroth has come up with another shared topic: you're supposed to list the ten most memorable moments of your time in Azeroth. While I refuse to actually rank them from 1 to 10 - I find it too hard - I'll make a short list of what comes to my mind right now, not pretending that I've put any deeper thoughts into it. If you'd ask me about 10 moments to remember next week I'd probably give you an entirely different answer, depending on my mood and the shape of my memory resources on my mental hard disk. (unfortunately I've got a quite bad memory in RL as well - you could say that I prefer to live in the present to put it nicely).

Here we go:
  • Seeing the movies that come along with the game after successfully installing it. I had no idea what to expect and I was thrilled! When I then zoomed in, sort of flying towards my char and then found myself standing there, not having a clue about what the whole thing was about... I was totally confused but in my heart I knew that very moment that this was a brand new world opening up for me.
  • Entering Ironforge for the first time. The huge building, the guards standing there...the glory! The mystic river of fire, the people and creatures walking around. It gave me a true Sense of wonder-feeling! I began to realize this game was huge and offered so much more than I could grasp at the moment. I had only seen a tiny little corner of what was awaiting me.
  • Getting my first mount. I was sick and tired of the slow walking, especially since the guys I played with at that time all had mounts. I hated running behind them and at last I could keep up pace with them. It was the end of the era of painfully making my way through the entire of STV. I rode around merrily, amazed at the incredible speed.
  • Entering Un'Goro Crater for the first time. It was teaming with life, it was beautiful and mystic at the same time. Everywhere those crystals and seeds which I had no idea how to use. And still it wasn't bigger than that you could explore it without getting lost. I was so enthusiastic that I told a game friend of mine that he really had to join me, this was such a great place to explore. We did a crazy exploration ride, getting ganked by mean dinos all the time, still just laughing at it, it was such a great place to see.
  • Entering a Teamspeak server for the first time. I had just joined my first bigger guild, based in Scotland, and they patiently helped me to make it work and cheered when they heard my voice. Until then I had never ever even used Skype... Just imagine the feeling of actually speaking to players from other countries! It gave me access to the game in another way than I had had before. It was the end of the walking-around-on-my-own-era and the beginning of my view on the game as a social teambuilding activity.
  • Going through The Dark Portal to Outlands. An ex guildie of mine was my guide, dragging me through it and then running me through several areas of Outlands in order to get me some valuable fps a bit faster. It wasn't just out of kindness, I think he enjoyed hearing all those enthusiastic Oooohhh exclamations from me!
  • My first run on my flying mount at level 70. It gave the game a new dimension - I just flew happily around over SMV for half an hour, thrilled by the feeling. The only thing that could compare to it is getting my epic flying mount the other week. The change of the game experience was just as big - another truly epic that will share this spot on the list.
  • The first time the guild I was in at that time downed the Prince - and I got my dagger. A guild first kill in combination with getting a nice drop - how much better can it get?
  • The night when The Suneater dropped for one of my game friends. We had run Mechanar a hundred times for it - or at least that was how I felt it. It was like if it was meant never to happen. But miracles do happen. It was an epic moment, the last one I brought with me before leaving that server.
  • My first 25 man raid on the Stormrage server, which I wrote a blog post about. We didn't only clear Gruul easily, we also went to SSC just to clear some trash and have a look. Suddenly I was staring Hydross in the face (or whatever he has). I realized that a world of new adventures was awaiting me. I had just switched server, taking a huge risk, leaving friends and everything I'd fought for behind, not knowing if I'd taken the right decision. Now I knew in my heart that I had.

This list is quite predictable I guess. I think you'll probably find Entering Ironforge (or Stormwind, depending on your starting area) on most of those lists that the BA community now is producing, as well as Going through The Dark Portal. But I think I divert a little bit from others, since I actually don't have "dinging 70" on the list. I don't even know where or when it happened! Which is something a friend of mine just can't understand, she's even got herself an addon to help her keep track of xp and to ding exactly at the spot and in the manner she had planned. I didn't even take a screenshot from the event. On the other hand I remember my first flight on the flying mount which followed very clear - that was the glory of dinging 70 in my eyes.

Well worth mentioning are also a bunch of first meetings with people who became my friends in the game. You're not on the 10 top list, since I couldn't really chose between you. So no one mentioned, no one forgotten. Those random meetings actually have meant almost everything for how I enjoy this game. Maybe I didn't always know at the time for the meeting how important it would turn out to be. But many times I think I did. Sometimes it just "clicks" with people you meet out there and you know instantly that you've actually made a friend. You have just found a truly epic gem - and added a top WoW moment to your bank of memories.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Roleplaying in the closet

Could there be a little roleplaying creature living inside of me, just waiting to be let out?

Sometimes I think about it. What would have happened if my sister hadn't been playing on a normal PvE realm when she talked me into starting playing? I only did as I was told - rolled an alliance character on a certain EU server. If she had told me to start out on a RPPvP server as a horde I would just have obeyed since I didn't have a clue about what kind of game I wanted to play.

Until this very day I haven't played Larísa in any other way than just like the average PvE player. Even though I may be a little more sentimental about my char than many other players I know - for instance I would never dream of logging out Larísa being dead or unrepaired, and for a long time I always tried to make her go to sleep in a decent bed - you can't say I really play her in character.

I've never even tried to invent a story for her. The only time she actually is acting like a character it's passively, when the script makes it happen - like when the ogre masses bowed and celebrated her as a queen after completing the Ogrila quests to open up for the dailies. (I've always loved any dialogue where NPCs actually address me with my name).

Still I can't help being a bit curious. Maybe I could become a closet roleplayer from time to time, just like Eye for an Eye, who recently wrote about his experiments in this area. Playing in a normal raiding guild on a PvE server, he has been sitting in his chamber, trying to put together some kind of story or information about his character. He's tried out two different ways to do it - one by just putting together a little story about his char - where he comes from and what he's up to - the other one by using a kind of form that he had found on a RP Forum.

This post is actually quite inspiring. It revealed to me that you don't have to put up a black-or-white-attitude towards role playing. Even if you're in an environment where it would look a bit odd to act in character, there's nothing that stops you from enhancing your own gaming experience by using your imagination. It dawned upon me that while pulling all those trash mobs in a raid instance you could very well think about what brought your character to this situation, what she feels and thinks about it - and not only about boss strategies, possible upgrades or your current position on the dmg list.

Lately I've been starting to think a little about the former life of Larísa, trying to find some kind of story that would fit the kind of activities I usually take part in when I'm playing. I can't say that it's easy - on the contrary. The main challenge I think is to find up something that feels the slightest original, and not just like another copy of all the long time ago worn out clichés from the fantasy genre.

I'm not an easy judge to please. So far everything I've come up with has been classified as "rubbish", "seen it a thousand times" and "too plain and predictable". So that's why I have no inclination whatsoever to share it with anyone else, not even the readers of Larísa's Corner. Not yet at least. Maybe one day I'll be ready to share some stories - if anyone will bother to listen - but for the time being I'll keep investigating the life of Larísa in secrecy, for my own pleasure, roleplaying all on my own in a locked closet. That's probably the right place to start anyway.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This could be my new home

This could possibly be the new home of the World of Warcraft blog Larísa's Corner.

I'm checking it out to see if it's worth all the work to make a transfer.

If you want to read the latest postings of Larísa, go to my current location:

See you there!


Friday, June 20, 2008

My dislike for Swedish

I just hate it when I hear my own native language in the general chat in Stormwind. It makes me shrink and want to go hide somewhere, pretending not being Swedish.

Lately I think I've seen more of Swedish in the general than usual. It may have to do with the fact that Sweden for the last week has been participating in the European Championship of football/soccer, an arrangement which by the way actually has some impact on the European servers in general. I've got the clear impression that the interest of playing is going down - Azeroth seems a bit deserted when the major matches are show on TV. This game is for some reason seems to enhance whatever nationalistic feature there is within the players - suddenly they seem to forget where they are and what they're actually doing and the general chat is turned into a forum for football ramblings - in Swedish.


Honestly I think there's no excuse not to speak English in public as long as you're playing on an English server. If you want to speak Spanish, French or German - you've got plenty of other servers to choose. But what if you come from a smaller language area? There's no Swedish server available - you're forced to pick one of the major languages.

Well that's no excuse in my eyes to suddenly fill the chats with Swedish. We've got an extremely good knowledge of English, learning it at school from the age of 8. And by the way, the whole bloody game is in English. There's no way you can quest and get by in the game without a basic knowledge in English. So speaking Swedish or by the way Hungarian or Dutch aloud is just a sign of laziness or that you don't give a shit about the people around you.

I think you should stick to English as long as you're using channels like general and trade - especially in the major cities, where the chats sometimes are filled with crap. It's rude to add things to the chat that 90 percent of the players won't understand. I can live with the original Orcish, I certainly don't need ten other Orcish-like languages.

I even hesitate to speak Swedish in /say, at least when there are a lot of other listeners around, people who don't want to hear it. If I'm seeing some Swedish people in a not too crowded place it's different, then I may use it, if necessary, even though I prefer making a party of it, so that people who aren't concerned won't have to listen to the conversation.

What about parties then? Well in Battleground I think it's totally unacceptable to use anything but English in the raid chat. And the same goes with PUGs. I often check out where people come from before starting. And even if we turn out to be 4 from Sweden and just 1 from UK, we stick to English in the party chat as long as that foreign guy is around. Anything else would be extremely impolite. (I've seen it myself a couple of times from "the other side", partying with some Dutch people once, and a Polish party another time. It was SO annoying having to look for the few English Lines mixed in with all those incomprehensible sentences.)

I guess I've made my point pretty clear by now; if you're in public - use English! Still most of my current playing actually is in Swedish. How come? Well, I belong to a Swedish speaking guild. We're quite strict about it, our current policy is that we won't even accept players from other Scandinavian countries. Of course this makes recruitment much harder than it else would be. But on the other hand we never have to think twice about what language to use in guildchat or on ventrilo. It's really relaxing and convenient to be able to run instances in you own language. No matter how well you understand the foreign language - there will always be a little room for misunderstandings, and you'll always have to pay more attention to actually understand everything that is said. You'll easily miss the small nuances, ironies and jokes.

Still we're raiding in English for the time being, since we've got a raiding alliance with a Danish guild. Being neighbours and having related languages, you could think that we should understand each other using some kind of Scandinavian mixed language, but sadly enough we don't. The only way to make the raid work out is actually to speak English in raid and on vent. But at all other times my main language in WoW is Swedish.

Some players thinks differently. Like an old game friend of mine, a Norwegian guy who I used to party with on my former server Kul Tiras. He had some odd features, including that he always refused to speak anything but English, no matter where the other player came from. Even if he would understand me writing in Swedish (he was even half Swedish himself) he would reply me in English, claiming that the international atmosphere was one of the reasons for him to play the game. Using Norwegian would simply destroy the game experience for him. So when his English guild stopped raiding, he couldn't join the Swedish one I was in at that time - he just couldn't cope with the idea of playing in Swedish.

Right now I think I'm getting the best out of the two worlds. I love being part of a Swedish guild - with the possibility to actually see a few of my guildies one day in a much easier way than it would be if we were spread out all over Europe.

Still by reading blogs and forums and blogging in English myself, I feel that I connect to the World Wide WoW Community - including the US and Australia (where many of my readers come from). I don't feel isolated at all - I can exchange experiences and ideas with players from all over the world - and I get the opportunity to practice and improve my English a lot.

I'll end this post in a hopefull way. I think we're about to see an improvement when it comes to the Swedish poluting the general chat. You see - the other night Sweden lost against Russia in a glorious wipe. We were owned - we didn't stand a chance against them. It was like a newly 70 dinged party in all greens entering a T4/T5 instance. So now we're out of the football tournament. It was a pain to watch, but if you watch it from the bright side - this will probably mean an end of Swedish football ranting in general chat for a while. We'll be hiding in a corner, tending to our wounds pretending to come from any other country but Sweden.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Focus - where do you find it?

"Come on now guys! Focus!"

How many times haven't you heard that exclamation on the vent when things just aren't running as smoothely as they should, when small but annoying mistakes are made one after other? It's not necessarily that you're wiping, but one or a few players seem to die every trash pull, out of carelessness or a little bit too much of "bad luck" or whatever it is. You're evidently progressing a bit too slow and anyone who thinks a bit ahead realizes that there won't be time for many boss trials before raid is supposed to end or before respawns will put an end to it anyway.

"Please! Focus!"

What I'm wondering from time to time (being one of those who're crying "focus!", if not in vent, but silently to myself) is: does it really help? Will people focus better just because you tell them to? Honestly I doubt it. It could work if you call it maybe once or twice in a whole raid, but if you do it like ten times in an hour you'll stop hearing it, it won't mean a thing to you.

Still there are situations when the raid actually is showing lack of focus. Evidently something needs to be done. But where do you find it, the focus?

Well, personally I think you shouldn't underestimate the value of mana breaks for the players too, not just for the characters. To actually schedule a few minutes break a couple of times during a long raid will help a lot I think. At least I will get pretty low on energy after being completely concentrated for an hour or two. I know that having a glass of orange juice, a banana and maybe another cup of coffee will make me a lot more fresh and alert. Others may need to say goodnight to their children or mate, take care of bio needs, satisfy their cravings for nicotine or whatever it is that takes their focus away from the raiding. I think that skipping all the breaks just to use every single minute of the scheduled raid for being in combat is stupid, it will hurt the raid in the long run and cost you more time than you save. So don't be greedy. Take a decent break, why not after the first boss kill (if it's 25 man raiding) or after clearing a couple of bosses (if it's 10 man).

On the other hand: don't accept unscheduled breaks and AFK:s, out of any other reason than real emergency. Those breaks ruin focus if anything. For me focus comes with some kind of flow in the game. Actually it's easier to focus if the raid goes on at a decent pace, at least when it comes to clearing trash mobs. The tanks are sort of chainpulling, once you're done with a pull you've moved your attention to the next one. Of course it's a challenge sometimes for mana drinkers like me, but usually I'll manage. I've realized what I didn't understand when I first started to raid that I don't necessarily have to have a full mana pool when every single pull starts - and often I'll be able to mana up while the tank's building aggro. Keeping the flow and the pace up means more to the raid than that Larísa has got 100 percent mana. Honestly. I think that if you take to much time between the pulls discussing buffing, loot, mana drinking etc, or thinking too long about how to mark up the mobs, you really risk losing the focus of the raid.

People who aren't involved in those tasks will be tempted to start whispering with friends outside of the raid, alt-tabbing out to check their mail and such stuff. If you go ahead quickly you won't even give them the chance to think about it.

Then there are other times when just a break or keeping up the tempo won't be enough. After a number of wipes on a boss - the amount of tries varies from guild to guild - a certain mental fatigue will come. Players will start doubting their own ability as well as the ability of others. And when those thoughts come sneaking upon you focus will be gone. Now is the time when the raid leader will have to prove himself as the leader he or she is supposed to be, to step forward and to hold an inspiring speech. What will make the raid focus better? Is it words of encouragement, which points out what they're capable of, how you have confidence in them, reminding them of earlier victories - a verbal sort of hugging? Or do they rather need to be spanked a bit - being a bit nasty, shaking them up and telling them that their current performance sucks and that they clearly need to shape up or they don't deserve to be in the raid? Well, that depends on the situation and on the party. It could work either way, as a raid leader you need to have the intuition to know what kind of speech that best will help the raid to focus. Chose the moment carefully and only do it when absolutely necessary. If you overuse it people will stop listening and rather think you're ranting again.

So to summon it: what methods are there for a raid that needs to find some focus?

  • Take scheduled breaks for the players to tend to their physical needs
  • Keep up a decent pace in the raid, not taking unnecessary pauses for discussions about buffs, loot distribution, getting mana to 100 percent etc
  • Inspire the raid by a good speech - whip them or hug them, whatever they need at the moment.

The idea of all of the methods is to help the raiders to keep up their energy, to be alert and totally present, not only with their character, but with their mind, not letting hunger, thirst, boredom or discourage make them drift away.

Of course this is written from a quite fresh raider's point of view - and I'm not a raid leader myself. So now I humbly ask for some more advice from my readers? Have you got any further suggestions how to find focus when you need it in the raid?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A new level of pugging

If someone would have told me a couple of months ago that I'd be pugging Zul'Aman in June I would have just laughed. Even to run a heroic in a pug is a bit of a gambling, which very well may make you come out angry, frustrated, without any badges, having to pay a huge bill for repairs and pots... The easier one like Slave Pens, Botanica and Mechanar may work, but I'd think twice about pugging some of the others. And the idea of pugging a raid instance... Without having access to ventrilo, without having the common agreement we have in our guild on what tactics we use... It would be a challenge, to put it mildly.

But last weekend I actually ended up in a pug for ZA and I found that it wasn't too bad - I even liked it!

Summertime means that we won't be able to run ZA quite as often as a guild as we'd like. And late last Friday night there definitely weren't enough players online to fill a raid. Still I was in the mood for raiding, and it had been a while since I'd last been in ZA. I clearly felt I had got a bit of a raiding fever, you know that itching feeling. So when I found out that some guy on the server actually was trying to assemble a pug for ZA I thought: well, why not give it a try?

A good sign was that the guy arranging it actually had some requirements from players who wanted to join. You should have experience from clearing the instance and you should be well geared. So I linked him my gear and was accepted into the raid.

Then a guildie of mine helped me to do some research about him and the other guys, looking them up at be.imba. It turned out they all had the same level of gear as I - one even had some T6 pieces and was from one of the top guilds of the server. At that point I started to relax. I also recognized a couple of names - people I remembered from a pug I'd made the week before (heroic MgT actually), and I knew they were decent guys.

The most frustrating thing about pugging often is to actually assemble the party and this time was no exception. It took us one and a half hour from the first whispers until we made our first pull... It took quite a lot of patience and for a while I doubted we'd take off at all, cursing myself to be so stupid even trying such a thing. The hope I'd felt looking at their gear started to fade away.

But suddenly we were full party and everybody online and once we started... it was awesome! We did the first two bosses on timer, and would probably have been able to make a third one if we had just taken a few shortcuts and planned a bit more ahead. Actually we cleared the whole instance without any major problems. (Well except for on the last boss. By then it was three o clock in the morning and I was getting tired so I managed to get locked out of the boss fight, staying on the wrong side of the line. I really felt stupid and apologized a lot, feeling that I was that terrible pug-noob you want to avoid. But then I shaped up and on the next one we downed him without a single dead player).

All in all I was surprised how smoothly the run went. For example I had imagined I'd miss ventrilo communication more than I actually did. Since everybody knew the fights pretty well we managed anyway, people knew to move out of bombs, to place themselves correctly in the electrical storm, not to cast spells in the wrong phase and so on. Nobody had to shout to us, we did what we were supposed to anyway.

What was my reward? Well, thinking about it lootwise: just another bunch of badges. The lovely trinket Hex Shrunken Head didn't drop this time either. And I had consumed huge amounts of Mad alchemist pots, since my spec makes me chain eating mana pots, especially when doing a quick run without any long mana breaks.

On the other hand I got other payoffs:

  • the nice feeling you get from clearing a raid instance in one single run
  • a bit of self confidence - the knowledge that pugging ZA actually is doable and that I can handle the situation without having to get instructions by vent
  • a few new names to add to my friends list, people I'd love to party with again whenever I get an opportunity (if they'll forgive me for getting locked out that will say...)

I really couldn't have wished for much more. Was I just extremely lucky? Maybe I wasn't. Could it be so that only experienced and well geared players would even consider doing such a thing as to pug ZA? It remains to see. I'll definitely give it another try if I'll find myself in that situation again, with the urge to raid and too few guildies online.

Pugging ZA isn't such a bad idea after all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A few words about you

Who are you people that are reading Larísa's Corner on a regular basis? Sometimes I'm wondering. Trying to imagine who you are, how you look, what your real life is like.... I'm simply curious about you!

I guess it's out of this curiosity that I use Feedburner, which won't answer those questions, but at least gives me some statistics. I don't think I'm alone among WoW bloggers keeping some statistics, but until now I've actually never seen anyone sharing those numbers. Anyway I've got no secrets (at least not about this) and maybe there are a few more of you out there who would like to know how many people that actually read a smallish blog in a far-away corner of the world like mine.

So here we go! Let's see how Larísa's Corner has been the last 30 days! I hold up a mirror for you:

On average I've had 32 daily visitors. As a few of you know I like to picture Larísa's Corner as a pub - thinking about the number of visitors I guess the analogy is pretty relevant.

Of all the visitors 53 % are new, which means - I guess - that the rest have been here before. 34.4% come directly - maybe they've bookmarked me somehow. 59.4 % have used links from other sites and 6.2 % have come here out of doing searches.

The average visitor spends 2.59 minutes on the site (So it's a rather quick pub visit, but at least there must have been something worth reading.)

The link that without any competition gives me most visitors is the one from the bloggroll of Blessing of Kings. No less than 144 visitors found me this way! (I can just imagine how many visitors BoK must have...) I can only humbly say "Thanks. You have no idea how much this means. Or I guess you do, encouraging also the less known blogs, which you've said was your intention"

Quite a few have found me the last month by Big Red Kitty, but I know that's just temporarily. It was just me commenting on a popular post, and it probably won't give me much of visitors in the long run.

Resto4life linked to my posting about innervates and that gave me no less than 57 visitors. And 37 visitors found me by

A few visitors have stumbled on my page after doing a google search. Some of them will probably be disappointed. I've never ever written about "what's the first boss in plain ramps on wow". But two visitors actually did a search for "Larisa's corner" and that made me smile!

The majority of my readers are English speaking - 664 , followed by 173 Swedish and 38 German. Feedburner also provides flags telling where the visitors come from, and the one I see most often definitly is the US flag. But there are some British flags around as well and I also have a couple of regular Canadian visitors.

All in all I must say that I'm very happy with the numbers. When I converted Larísa's Corner from Swedish I remember I had about 7-8 visitors a day and I thought it was a little too small audience to be inspiring. I wanted to double it - and I've clearly managed to do that and quite a bit more. I've also become connected to the WoW blogging community and I just can't tell you how fun it is to get comments from other bloggers and found new lovely resources to check out.

Every little comment makes me all excited - I'm very easy to please you see - not to speak when an other blogger makes a post on a nearby subject, linking to my blog, which has happened a couple of times. It's just amazing.

You're amazing.

Thank you for coming by to this corner of the world. Whoever you are.

Is the WoW population really rude?

"I've found the WoW population as a whole is mostly rude".This statement of the blog Omen of Clarity caught my attention a few days ago. The post in itself was actually not about rudeness but about kindness, the unexpected sort, when players spontaneously help other players out, without even being asked about it. And while I do agree that that kind of completely unselfish behavior is quite rare, I disagree about the WoW population being generally rude.

How often does it actually happen to me that another player takes advantage of me fighting the mana fishes in BE and then steals the charged battery thing or whatever it is called, right in front of me? Could it have happened once? And then it was a hordie, and well... I guess I can forgive it, everybody isn't such a carebear in this game as I am.

Of course it has happened occasionally that I've ended up in PUGs with some... let's call it... less well mannered players. But if you compare it to how many PUGs with decent people I've attended, you can hardly call it a majority.

I think the population in Azeroth looks just like any normal curve if you put it into a diagram. There are a few true heroes out there, unselfish, wonderful people who lighten up the game for the rest of us. There are a few bastards who make the game miserable, most of all for themselves, but unfortunately they sometimes manage to pest their surroundings as well.
And then there's the big bulk, the crowd, who play their game, thinking mostly about themselves, or possibly about their closest friends. Who just don't care if they see a little weak mage in trouble, after pulling three mobs instead of one. They won't lift a finger, actually they won't notice the mage dying. But on the other hand - they won't laugh about it either, making rude gestures or mean comments. They just mind their own business.

But maybe OoC is right in one way? If WoW is a social game where you're supposed to interact with others, maybe you could see it as a bit rude to just ignore what's happening around you? On the other hand - you can't possibly be there for everyone that comes in your way. We've all got our own ideas about how to play the game, different paths to travel, there's no reason why we should set our own goals aside just to please everyone else.

I think one reason why we sometimes may find other players rude is that we're simply not connecting to them. We lack a bit in communication - we're sort of strangers - we don't understand the code words and what's really being said. It's just like when I'm overhearing conversations of teenagers waiting in a subway station. To me their jargon sound pretty nasty, the tone is aggressive, they're pouring out perogative words to each other, calling them names. Sometimes I hardly get what they say; it's more like they're making noises. But if you ask them about it they will assure you they're the best of friends! It's me that is the problem, as an outsider I don't have access to their codes.

Why would things be different when the same teenagers move into Azeroth? It's quite possible that the "rude" impression I get from time to time just is a matter of cultural differences. And it could very well be the opposite way. It's quite possible that younger players from time to time could think that my more adult approach to things, where I sometimes can't help using some of my experience as a mother and leader in RL, is a bit harsh. Maybe they could even think I'm rude, what do I know?

My theory is that what we see as rudeness often is rather a sign of lack of communication - or a lack of will to communicate. You could call it laziness. It's easier to throw out "FFS" than to actually try to help the player who did a mistake by telling him how he could improve.

But why dwell on the rudeness? Just like OoM I prefer to focus on the kindness. I never grow tired of hearing stories with good examples of kindess in the game. And I love to tell others about when I've met it myself.

One moment of kindness I met which I'll never forget was when I ran into Woulfie in Stormwind, I guess I was around level 40/50-something. We had met about ten levels earlier in Thousand needles, but had hardly had any contact since. But he remembered me and now he took some time to inspect me. He wasn't pleased with what he saw - my gear was sort of "random" as he put it. So he brought me to AH, where I at that time hardly ever dared to go, and helped me to buy some priceworthy green stuff. Not anything expensive but still a lot better than what I was carrying at the moment. And then he enchanted whatever he could of my gear, for free. After that session, my questing and killing went SO much easier. I spent more time levelling and less time corpse running. Those 20 minutes he spent on helping me out did the whole difference and I'll never forget it. I just hope I'll be able recognize and grab the opportunity to do the same thing for someone else one day when it shows up.

If more of us put up a "pay it forward" attitude, where we gave without expecting any other reward but knowing that the one we helped one day would help someone else, I think the game would be even more enjoyable than it is today.It may be so that most players aren't rude but indifferent. But I'd prefer to be classed as one of the minority - one of the Nice Guys.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not preparing for WotLK

How are you preparing for the Wrath of the Lich King? This is the title for a suggested shared topic of the Blog Azeroth bloggers.

Honestly I've got to say I'm not preparing at all. Not in any cunning and organized way at least. Some players make a huge fuss about the information leaking out from the Alpha testing version. I just throw a glance at what's said about mages, but then I shrug, since I think things will change quite a few times before it's actually launched in the market. This isn't anything I want to waste my brain capacity on, I've got plenty of other things that I try to learn and remember about the game I play right now - about spell rotations, boss strategies, useful macros I should create - those things belonging to the future will only confuse me if they sneak into my mind.

Other players seem to be preparing by taking a break from the game until the sequel is available. They see no point in continuing gearing up their toons since the epics soon will be outdated when we start levelling towards 80. That's an attitude I can't understand either - unless you've actually seen and downed all the bosses in the game, including the Sunwell bosses, but how many of us has done that? Could it be one player in a thousand? At the most. To me the game is about seeing and beating content. Not about just collecting gear. (Then I could as well collect stamps or bookmarks or something less time consuming, heh?) Gear is mainly a tool to make it possible to beat more content. So if possible I'd happily keep progressing through TBC until the day before the WotLK is released. It remains though to see if there are others out there who think like me.

Since I started to play after TBC came, I've never experienced the effects of an expansion. Maybe that's one reason why I take it a bit cool. Thinking about it I realize that I'll probably throw myself into levelling my main, trying to keep a decent pace, not getting too far behind of my guildies, many of whom will probably have more playing time than I have.

Even though we won't be using our flying mounts to begin with, I must admit that one of the things I wanted to accomplish before the expansion was to get the epic flying mount riding skill - so I didn't have to worry about that anymore, but could concentrate on the levelling process. Now I've got it and I'm happy about that, I feel prepared in that aspect. I honestly can't believe it will turn out to be a waste of money.

Another thing that I'd like to accomplish before the expansion is to bring up at least one other char to 70. That would make me more flexible about professions. I can't help being a bit interested in the new inscription profession, but if Larísa should be able to pick it up, she must drop something else. Probably herbalism would be a better thing for an alt to deal with than for a main.

But pretty much, the game is business as usual for me. I don't stock up on materials, speculating about what will be necessary for levelling trade skills. I don't collect gold to be prepared to buy gear and skills, I just keep my bank account at a decent level, a few hundred gold, so I can repair and buy a few flasks or food for raid if I haven't got the time to make it myself.

My plan is simply to take the day as it comes, to keep enjoying the TBC just as it is, with everything it's got to offer. Maybe it's a bit naïve. But it's the Larísa way of doing things.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Twins - to love and to hate

How do you feel when you unknowingly walk into the bank to sort things out and just as you're about to join the queue for the banker, you're suddenly staring into the neck of yourself?

When it comes to me, I never get used to it. No matter how much I love the pink pigtails of Larísa, I don't really like to see them on other characters. Especially not if they combine it with a face and piercings similar to mine. I get the feeling of meeting an intruder or a copy cat, even though I realize that they're perfectly entitled to chose the same appearance that I have. As a matter of fact, those players actually have got pretty much the same taste as I do, so logically I should consider them potential friends.

Where do those hostile feelings come from? I guess it's pretty much the same as girls can feel going to a party or school examination: you definitely don't want anyone else to wear exactly the same dress as yours. You want to pretend you're unique, even if you and everybody else is perfectly well aware of that you've bought the dress at the same bargain store as 90 percent of us visit, since we can't afford anything more exclusive.

In WoW the possibilities of variation are smaller than in RL. Mathematically there are quite a few combinations that are possible, but in practice, many of them still look pretty much the same. And some of them are quite unattractive to most players. (For example: how many female dwarves do you really see around? I think there's a reason for it. I don't say they're all unattractive - actually I managed to compose one myself which I think look pretty decent. But it takes some work.)

It isn't strange that some looks are more common than other, I think. That's probably one of the explanations for why some of us are so crazy about vanity pets or why we're collecting mounts - the more unusual the better. There's absolutely no practical need for those things, they won't make any difference at all in our performance in a raid or BG. But they make us feel exclusive; they help us to show individuality and stand out in the crowd. To avoid looking just like anyone else.

Until now I've mostly felt dislike when I've met twins. But the other day I experienced just the opposite. Lately I've been thinking about picking up an old project of mine, to actually start levelling my little rogue alt, Arisal, who's currently stuck on level 23, since I've been so busy keeping gearing up Larísa. Now Larísa's pretty much in top shape and even got an epic mount - and it should be possible to spare some time for an alt. So I brought Arisal out from the closet and asked a guildie to come and see me, just so I could show her to him. (Arisal had been created on another server months ago and hadn't yet been introduced on Stormrage.) "She looks so sweet, and still she's a bit more cruel than Larísa, as a rogue should be. You'll just love her", I said.

We met, and for once sake this quite talkative guildie went all silent. "Oh", he said. "Wait". And then he relogged and brought out an equally old and unplayed alt of his, a warlock at - believe it or not - level 23. We agreed to meet in the mage quarters. I saw his point getting closer on the minimap and then suddenly I stopped, just staring. It was like if I had ran into a mirror, and it was even more evident once I took of my rogue head, covering half of my face. Right in front of me was another Arisal, just dressed in a warlock cloth dress. Everything was exactly the same, except for the eye colour (my eyes were green and his blue) and a slight difference in the shape of the mouth.

But this time I actually didn't feel threatened or disappointed that we looked the same. It was rather pretty fun to suddenly get an unexpected twin sister. We looked just amazing, side by side, and I could just imagine what a sight we would make further on, taking down elites or running instances together. Actually I tried to talk him into levelling this char just because of the awesome appearance we would have.

I guess it's inevitable that you'll find a twin in the game sooner or later. Will you love it or hate it? It all depends on the circumstances.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The hugest grinding session ever completed

Finally I'm done! I've finished the biggest grinding task ever since Larísa was born in the beginning of 2007. This includes killing harpies for brilliant feathers at level 30, and the primal farming for my spellstrike set. (Which makes me shiver just thinking about it.)

The achievement is that I've translated every single blog post from the start the 2 February from Swedish into English (for all of you who have English as your native language I suggest you imagine translating 100 of your own posts to French... quite a lot of work, heh?). It hasn't only taken me a lot of work - it's been a bit embarrassing and painful too, to actually re-read all the things I've written - everything isn't brilliant when you have another look at it. Still I felt it was a waste of work to just leave them as they were, unavailable for 99 percent of my readers. That's the reason why I finally forced myself go through with it.

The blog still lacks a lot when it comes to categorizing, functions and layout, not to mention the name. I see it in front of me, how things should be. I would like to call it The Pink Pig Tail Inn (A lovely suggestion from a guildie of mine). And there would be a wonderful heading where you could se a couple of pigtails in front of a cosy fire... maybe a sidebar with a wood pattern, making you think about the armchairs I want my readers to sink into. And the blog should have a real net address instead of this obscure Swedish address. But for now those visions remain on the idea stadium. After all, Content is King, according to me, and I've finally filled this blog with all the content I've got available so far.

A really stupid thing about the Swedish blog provider I randomly chose when I began to blog, is that they seem to be unable to make the months in the archive to show up in English. I hope you can all figure out what it means though. It's quite evident. If not: here's a lesson in Swedish:
Februari = February, Mars = March, April = April, Maj = May, Juni = June

Another thing: if you'll look up one of the months you won't see all of the posts among the headlines in the right column, just a few of them. There are several more which you only see if you scroll down the month.

So, what have this blog been about so far? Here's a brief orientation, a few examples of the subjects I've been covering during the four months the blog has been running, posts that I enjoyed especially writing In February I had qute a few nostalgic posts: one about quests I loved particularly much and a love declaration to The trinket. I also made a trip into a lost world, AQ20. One post that I put my soul int writing was about our guild split, which was sort of heartbreaking at the time when it happened, but seen in a distance, four months later, isn't much to fuzz about. Time is such a good healer isn't it?

Right from the beginning I started to write quite a lot about guild life, management and motivation. Like in this post, where I wrote about group composition out of a perspective which I think is slightly different to the ordinary one. In this post about secrets, I discuss how we keep the worlds apart, why we don't want to tell our colleagues at work about our WoW playing, and why we rarely tell other players much about our RL, not even our names. This is something I still think about from time to time. I clearly lead two parallel lives currently, and it seems pretty impossible to let them connect.

In March another thing happened which turned my world upside down - I quit not only my guild, but my server, which I wrote about here. After a long time of hesitation I finally managed to write down thoughts about being woman in a game dominated by men. Do I think we're discriminated? Find out by reading this post! I wrote about how music gives me inspiration in the game and looking at it I realize that I nowadays spend almost entire my online time on vent, meaning I'm missing that dimension, which is a bit sad.

In April I wrote a post about how much I enjoy being a fire mage, which looks a bit fun now, since I just a little more than a month later is a dedicated arcane/frost mage... Things change fast sometimes. I really enjoyed writing the wow-kus, even though the idea wasn't mine from the beginning. From time to time I've shared the shortcomings of Larísa. I've never feared telling the world about how much I suck. One example of that was my post about getting stuck, actually a subject I've never seen covered in any other blog (Maybe other bloggers are too ashamed to admit they get stuck tooo...) I still like the post The night is my very own, since it really catches how I experience the game.In May I've been writing quite a lot about raiding and about self development and motivation in posts like Onion thoughts, Heading for the WoW gym and To Press under pressure. I also did a summary of what I've learned in the game and what I still need to practice until I'll learn.

We're approaching the end of this post - the very 100th post - I thought it would be an appropriate way to celebrate it by completing the translation project.Four months isn't a long time if you compare it to those blogs that have been around for years. Such as Blessing of Kings, a blog that I highly respect, which has been on internet ince 2005!. From another perspective four months it's a very long time. When I read my first posts I smile at the memories, it all feels so distant. How much haven't I been through during those months?- I've progressed through Karazhan and later Zul' Aman and in 25 man instances, currently running T5 content.- I've been through a painful but necessary guild split. I've changed server, jumping headless out into the unknown.- I've become happier in the game than I've ever been before. - I've reached another layer in my knowledge about the game, though I still lack A LOT to be honest.- I've respecced.
But above all: I've become more connected to and fond of my readers than I ever could have imagined. Changing into English was the best thing I ever did about this blog. Not only that more people can understand it - it also makes it easier to connect to the WoW Blogging community. I love getting comments generally, but the ones I love most of alls are the ones written by other bloggers, attaching a link to there own blogs. I never grow tired of checking them out.

Will there be a 200 post anniversary in the future? Honestly I can't tell right now. Larísa's Corner is still a project run on a day-by-day basis. It's not written out of duty - it's written out of lust, just because I just can't shut up.

Maybe I'll run out of words and ideas one day, who knows? But right now I fell quite easygoing and inspired about blogging. I'm finally off translation duty, free to write new stuff whenever I get the inspiration. The writing process entertains me and if it entertains a few more - the better.

Larísas Corner will be live and kicking for a while.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Random thoughts about randomness

Would World of Warcraft be as attractive (or addicting, as the critics say) as it is, if it wasn't for the element of hazard or gambling? I doubt it. The lottery is everywhere when you think about it. It's not only when you're rolling for an epic in an instance, it's in your everyday life, whenever picking a herb (will there be a fel lotus as well or will there not?) or opening the reward bag from the fishing quest to see what's inside).

OK, there are a lot of other aspects in the game that haven't got much to do with randomness. Like PvP, which is more about competing, trying your skill against other players, just like any wrestling game in RL. Or RP, as I imagine it, though I don't perform it myself, where you explore your imagination, creating content yourself in cooperation with others.

But for many players I still think looting and rolling is a essential part of the game. (I can't help feeling a bit silly when I think about it. I'd rather be one who didn't care a single second about it. Doesn't it sound a bit more sophisticated, to be a role player dealing with performing art rather than craving for loot?)

I don't think I care more about loot than most people do. I love to raid even if I don't get a single drop. Beating content beats everything. Still - rolling can be a thrill, can't it?

Thinking about it I realize that my first experience of a computer game ever was a lottery one. It must have been in the beginning of the 70s, around 1974, when my father worked at a university institution where they hosted a huge computer in a chemistry lab. This machine filled a room but still didn't have more memory than an ordinary pocket calculator today. My father used to bring me there sometimes during the weekends, when he had some work to do, and he made up a little program to keep me occupied. It was really simple stuff, small games where I had to use my sense of logic. But the game that I thought was most fun of all was just a sort of hazard generator, which allowed me to play on tombola. I never got tired of doing it, no matter how mindless it was.

I guess our fascination about randomness has got to do with the fact that it resembles to real life. Life isn't always fair, neither is the game. How many times haven't we seen it? The guy who's been working harder than anyone else, always helping others as well, the Good Guy - who only has one flaw: his bad luck, which makes him constantly lose any roll - if the items he wants will drop at all... And on the other hand The Lazy Bum, who never thinks about anyone else but himself and still gets any loot he want, without even thinking about it. And we never stop hoping that one day there will be some justice and the Good Guy will win.

There are ways to decrease the importance of being fortunate. Using DKP is one. Or you can simply appoint a loot council, supposed to take wise decisions about loot distribution, based upon principles everyone has agreed about. In our raids we use the latter. Having two guilds which raid together, we usually form a loot council of officers from both guilds. The disadvantage about this is that you risk quite a prolonged process of loot discussions. Sometimes it ends up in a roll anyway. Common sense only gets us to a certain point - after that it's all about chance again.

So... how come that I suddenly got all those thoughts about randomness in my head. Well, of course there's a reason for it: it seems that I suddenly jumped into a cluster of Larísa Luck. There's no way else to put it. I used to be one of those unlucky players who rarely got the drop they wanted, and if the item dropped I'd lose the roll anyway. But the last week was just the opposite. Wednesday I won my T5 shoulders from Void Reaver in a roll. And Sunday I got the T5 trousers from Karathress. Since we've just started out doing T5 content, there's always plenty of needers - I think there were ten of us this time, and it seemed that the loot council was overwhelmed with the task. All needers were asked to roll. Two rolled 90 - I was one of them. Reroll - and I rolled 100 for the first and probably last time in my WoW career. I just couldn't believe my eyes. To have two T5 pieces is a such huge upgrade for an arcane mage, because of the set bonus of 20 percent increased damage from Arcane Blast. I hadn't expected to get it though in a very very long time, and now I suddenly had it, thanks to chance.

For a brief moment I couldn't help feeling a bit bad about being so lucky. What had I done to deserve it? It just wasn't fair, there were other guys in the raid who hadn't got a single T5 piece and now I had two. But then I shrugged. We had all agreed on the rolling. Next time I'll lose. And the time after that I'll lose again, over and over again until I may - or may not - stumble into another cluster of luckiness. It's a part of the game. The tombola we're all playing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My lost faith in WowJutsu

Suddenly our guild started to climb on the ranking lists of WowJutsu. How sweet it wasn't it to watch! From around 69 on our realm we jumped to 50-something, then 40-something and now we're ranked as number 38 on Stormrage/EU. (Which sounds a lot better than 7867, which is our actual ranking out of all EU guilds).

It didn't come as a total surprise that we climbed. Actually we deserved it. We had done some really good progress in a few weeks, boss after boss in ZA going down until it was all cleared. We had gotten Gruul and Maggie on farm and taken down a few bosses in TK and SSC. So we should definitely be climbing. Still - when I looked closer at the little signs symbolizing our kills- I didn't recognize the picture. How came that we suddenly seemed to have taken down bosses in MH and even Black Temple? Had the guild done some secret raids at off hours, only open to a few chosen? It seemed pretty unlikely and would have been damned impressive if the guys involved had been able to keep it a secret. And why should they by the way?

After doing a bit of more of research I finally got the explanation. It turned out that WowJutsu actually is a bit broken. It can't handle realm transfers properly. Every time you get a new member from another realm who's been around a bit and gained some nice gear from higher raid instances, you'll actually get the gear registered for new boss kills. And we had been fortunate enough to get a couple of new characters in the team lately, people who had done a bit more of progression than we have as a guild.

Watching our guild ranking on WowJutsu should make me feel proud, but my feelings are a little mixed. It would feel so much better if it showed the real picture and else. Still I guess we're not alone in this situation. If we get a bit higher points than we actually deserve it probably is the same with other guilds. I don't think we see more or less of realm transfers than anyone else.
Finally: even if the tool's broken, of course I'm grateful to the guys who have developed WowJutsu and provide it as a tool. With all it's flaws it's a lot easier to use and maintain than any manual system you could think of. I just hope they'll find a way to fix the realm transfer bug one day. It doesn't matter if the fix will make our guild ranking fall like a stone. I just want the plain truth. What counts to me is that we're actually progressing - if we're number 30, 50 or 70 on the server isn't the whole world.

I still know we're awesome.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A look into my bags going for raid

Ideally I think your bags when going to a raid should only contain Really Necessary Things. Bag space shouldn't be any big issue, there should be plenty of space left over. Consumables, exchange gear, reagents and specific items you could need - that's what you should bring. The rest should be stored in the bank or on bank alts.

However, reality doesn't look quite like that. At least not for me.

I'm constantly dragging around a bunch of more or less stupid items. Quite a few of them are quest items. Whenever I visit Sunwell Island I start out picking up every daily quest there is. And as you know those dailies include a crazy amount of quest items. Sometimes (or rather for the most of the time to be honest) I won't complete all of the quests. I'll start some of them... collecting 3 out of 4 mana residues etc. Or I'll never even start the bombing. And then I tend to be too lazy to drop the quests - I want to do them right away next time I'll arrive there, without having to pick them up again. So I let the quests stay in the log and with them all the bloody items.

Still those items make sense. Others... don't. I'm a bit nostalgic about gear, find it hard to get rid of it or think "well... it COULD be handy... at some point... better keep it". Like trinkets: why do I always carry Quagmirrans Eye, though I right now use The Silver Crescent and the Alchemist stone? OK I could keep it in case I'll dump alchemy in the future (it's great trinket, one of the best in my opinion). But it could as well stay in the bank, not taking up place in my bag.

In short: I'm a bad bag manager. My bags look pretty much like my Real Life hand bag - full receipts, used tickets, notes and loads of plain crap. Not a beautiful sight, to tell the truth.
On the other hand I DO care a lot about what to bring to raids. I really want to bring the best I can - no matter how much it will cost me. And I love to hear about what other brings to raids in order to pick up new ideas for myself.

So this is for all of you who share this passion of mine: this is what Larísa will bring for raids for the time being (the things she really wants to bring, not the junk she's always dragging around). Here's a look into my bags:

Flasks and pots
  • 3 Flasks of Supreme power (I mostly throw AB, but have to mix in some frost bolts because of lack of mana, so it seems to be a good compromise, even though Flask of Blinding light would be better for the arcane spells)
  • 30 Mad alchemist's potion. Great one. Gives me mana and health at the same time and Ragveil isn't too bad to grind either.
  • 10-15 Bottled Nethergon Energy if I'm going to Tempest Keep... (when there's no need for health it may save me some mad alchemist potions..)
  • Destruction Potions isn't actually anything I bring for raid yet - since I don't have the recipe and they're expensive to tell the least. But probably I'll try it out sooner or layter - I'm aware they're great for boosting damage.

Buff food:

  • 30 Blackened basilisk or equivalent spirit+spelldamage food (basilisks seems to be easiest to grind for me)
  • A few pints of Kreeg's Stout Beatdown (it works just like RL beer- it increases your spirit, while decreasing your intelligence... I use it for boss fights when I'm afraid I'll run out of mana)

Other consumables

  • 5 charges of weapon oil - I recently switched from Superior Wizard oil to Superior Mana oil - anything to gain mana
  • Nightmare seeds and Fel blossom - got a bunch of each in my bags, but honestly never use them - they share cooldowns with other stuff and never seem to be available
  • Demonic Runes - got a few of them right now but haven't yet have the guts to try using them. Hey - I'm kind of fragile, losing life isn't really something I do deliberately.... But one day I'll try them, I promise.
  • 20 Heavy Netherweave Bandages
  • 80 manna biscuits
  • As many healthstones as I can get from the warlocks
  • Mana stones (at least Emerald and Ruby)


  • 40 arcane powder
  • 10 teleport runes
  • 10 portal runes
  • Light feathers - a bunch of them for Slow fall (you never know when you'll need them)

Exchange gear

  • My only stamina gear: Gladiator's Silk Amice, which I put on sometimes when stamina is needed.
  • Violet Badge - can be handy in some fights when you need arcane resistance
    (I'm a little ashamed about this part - I guess I should have more gear to change between - one spellhit capped for boss fights, another one for max damage on trash and one stamina boosted set for certain fights... but I don't. I wear the same gear most of the time.)

Other raid related items

  • Blackened Urn to be able to summon Nightbane (only needed in Karazhan ofc, but if I put it in the bank I'm convinced I'd forget to bring it when needed).
  • Ashtongue Cowl - a head I must wear when A'lar for BT attunement quest line (a current project of mine). I bring it all the time - you never know when you'll get the chance.

And last but not least

  • One Pet to keep me company. I've got plenty of them in the bank but never allow myself to bring more than one at the time.
  • A Romantic Picnic Basket ... You never know when you'll find a reason to celebrate. :)
  • Fishing pole and lure (not really necessary for raiding, except for whebut actually now a bad thing to occupy yourself with while waiting for others to arrive, when your outside Karazhan and SSC there are fishable waters just beside... (only remember to swich back to your weapons)

So dear readers... how do your package lists look? And what do you think about mine? Is there something I've overlooked (except for the cleaning-up-part)?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I still love the cheese

How long will we keep playing WoW? Has the time come that it's time to move on, or does the game still have that magic attraction to us? Is it still a piece of tasty cheese which gives us what we want?

The Big Bear Butt recently published a very well written blog post about this. The cheese analogy originates from a management book in the form of a fairy tale. The point in this story is you shouldn't stick too long to something that used to be good but actually isn't as good as before, just because you feel secure with it. You must look ahead for new opportunities.

He raises the question for how long WoW will be the good tasting cheese. And it's not only a good post - many of the comments are also well worth reading. The answers are pretty mixed - I guess they reflect the diverse opinions there are about this in the WoW community. Some players are definitely on their way somewhere else - they've clearly lost their appetite for the game. Most of the ones who still love the cheese in it talk about the social aspects, rather than the game itself. They'll hang around in Azeroth as long as their friends do.

The regular readers of Larísa's corner probably know where I'm standing in this issue: I still love the cheese. I still have sparkles in my eyes every time I enter a raid instance or even a simple heroic. I'm not burned out and have no intention whatsoever to go looking for some new kind of cheese. There's still plenty of it in the game that I haven't tasted yet. But then I haven't played it half as long as Big Bear Butt and many of the ones commenting the post. I could imagine I would feel a bit different if I had been on this cheese diet for over three years.

Still the social side of the game has a strong hold on me as well. Let's say that everyone in my guild agreed on leaving the game, but keeping the guild as it is, just moving to another MMORPG. How would I react? Would I stick to WoW, trying to find a new guild? Or would I move on with the others? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if I moved on with the others. After all most of us are herd creatures, aren't we? If we've found a clan where we feel that we belong, a sort of family in the game, we'll stick to it if we can.

But if the guild wouldn't assemble again, if we were lost and gone in the wind, spread out in emptiness, how would I do then? I'd probably keep playing WoW until I got bored one day or until Blizzard stops developing it. And then I'd quit, and honestly I'm not sure I'd start another online game. After all it's pretty time consuming. Maybe I would try out some completely different hobby. Like learning some kind of budo discipline, which means levelling too, but from another point of view. Or taking up mountaineering or becoming a gourmet chef or writing a novel or whatever kind of challenge that came to my mind. There are many different sorts of cheese out there you know.

For the time being WoW still tastes wonderful to me. It's just a bit saddening to think about all those players who now seem to have lost there appetite. I've got the feeling there's more of those "I'm quitting the game"-posts on the forums and blogs than there has been before. I can't help feeling that we're viewing sunset rather than sunrise.

On the other hand there are new players coming. I used to always be the "new" player in any party I entered - now I'm not. Every now and then I meet players who started half a year ago or so, and they're in the same wonderful learning curve as I am, still hungry for progression and new adventures to come. It's just that you seldom hear their voices on the blogs.

So I guess we'll stick together for a while. The Secret Society of Cheese Lovers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A new game

So Larísa got her epic flying mount the other day and at last I'm playing the same game as I guess most of my readers do.

I never knew the difference was so huge. And I just can't understand how I could cope with my slow flyer for such a long time. I don't exaggerate when I say that it feels like a different game.
Larísa probably needs to take a few flight lessons, she just isn't used to the new speed. I can't put the mount on autorun anymore, knowing it will take ages before she has to turn. My biggest problem collecting herbs is that I tend to fly too long, not being able to stop in time as I see the nodes.

Maybe I'll stick to herbalism after all. For a while it was such a pain and so time consuming that I seriously started to wonder why I kept it - I frequently had to go panic buying herbs at AH anyway in order to make potions and elixirs needed for rading.

I remember thinking there seemed to be some kind of mysterious lag connected to farming, making my mount go twice as slow as ordinary. Now it feels like I can cover the whole of Zangarmarsh in no time at all. And covering such great areas of course gives me more value for the time spent - suddenly I actually get some herbs when I farm. Earlier I often ended up disappointed with a more or less empty bag.

A new game has begun - it's a feeling just as great as when I got my first mount at level 40 - or maybe even a bit better actually. I hope I can keep this feeling, not getting spoiled and taking it for granted.

I can't help wondering though: what will it be like in the expansion? Could they possibly make an even faster mount? Or rather: could I handle it? Honestly, I doubt it. But until then I'll keep practicing my flying skill. The birds of Skettis, beware! Here comes Larísa on her brand new mount, craving for revenge.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A story about leadership

Yesterday something happened to me, that gave me an insight about what good raid leading is about. It's really nothing fancy, just a small incident, still I think it's important because I honestly believe that successful raiding isn't just about knowing the boss strategies by heart, bringing the best gear and then nuke the hell out of him. To be successful you've got to care about details, grabbing every single opportunity for the raid to improve.

This is the story:

We were in SSC and had just downed Lurker, now we were on our way to Karthress. Generally we were doing pretty well this night, working our way through the trash at a decent pace. Then it happened. After sheeping a mob I took one step in the wrong direction on a platform and tumbled into the water. I could only ask another mage to take over the sheep while I desperately looked for a way to get up again. A good thing was that the water didn't seem to hurt me anymore. Still I drank one of the water walking elixirs you get from the fishing quest, so I could concentrate on finding a ramp, rather than on swimming (on which I suck). But it was all in vain - as usual I had no sense of direction whatsoever. Finally I saw some kind of ramp which would bring me up a level but how could I know it was cleared up there? I certainly didn't want to pull some unnecessary trash.

Then I heared on vent that the fight was over - they were preparing for the next pull. I acknowledged I still wasn't up, could I possibly get a summon from one of the warlocks? They gave it a laugh (while I was actually pretty annoyed with myself) and started the procedure. But then it came from a co-leader of the raid: "No, don't!"


This made me a little worried. OK, it was really stupid to fall down like that, but wasn't it a bit harsh? Should I be condemned to stay down there, spending the night fishing instead of raiding? Was I so useless that the raid didn't need me anymore?

Then I saw him. The guy who had said "no" was suddenly right beside me, he had jumped into the water.

"I'll show you the way. Follow me" he said.

And so I did, up from the water, and we arrived back to the raid halfway through the next pull, so there was no big delay because of our little trip.

The point in this little story is that he actually grabbed the moment. To be honest it could very well happen again that I'll end up in the waters of SSC, even though I'll be more careful from now on. But the next time I'd rather die than be summoned - I've been shown the way and damned it if I won't find it again.

Raid leading isn't just about sorting things up at the boss fights. It's about grabbing the moments when they're presented to you, to get every opportunity you can to make your raiders improve.
The guy's pretty new in our raiding team and I asked him about his experience as a leader. It turned out that he had lead raids for at least half a year before TBC. I wasn't the slightest surprised.

"I love to lead people" he said, simply.

And I knew he told the truth. To know your way in the instance, to know the encounters - that's basic and something you can just expect from someone leading a raid. But to be a really good raid leader, who makes the raid go further than anyone had thought from the beginning, to make wonders happen - I think it takes something else. It takes talent, it takes hard work and it takes passion. You've got to love to actually lead people.

And you've got make the raid learn from everything that happen - even from small mistakes and trivial mishaps.

Thank you for the lesson.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Walking The Path

Currently I'm happier in the game than I've ever been since I first started it in the beginning of 2007. I've been wondering why, but the other day it dawned upon me, after reading a wonderful blog post by Blessing of Kings.

It made me realize I'm actually On The Path.

Originally the post was intended a comment to the Season 4 PvP gear and the rating system (which I honestly couldn't care about less - I don't even know how the rating system works or what Season 4 means - and I'm even not ashamed about being so clueless).

But there is passage where Blessing of Kings compares PvP progression to PvE progression, which goes straight into my heart. This is what he wrote:

The key is the concept of "Being On The Path" for endgame content. In nutshell, the number of people who reach the highest point of endgame is less important than the number of people who are working towards--and feel that they one day could achieve--that point.For example, in PvE, the number of guilds in Sunwell does not matter. What really matters is the number of guilds who make it to Gruul and Magtheridon. Once a guild reaches Gruul and Magtheridon, they are "on the path" to Sunwell. Most of these guilds probably won't reach Sunwell before WotLK, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they are steadily working on content, and feel that they could reach Sunwell eventually.

It's just so true! Without realizing I entered The Path two months ago. And since then we've passed Gruul and Magtheridon, and now we're step by step conquering SSC and TK. Killing Lurker as we did the other week isn't much to brag about in the circles of hardcore raiders, neither is taking down Void Reaver- Loot Reaver, who in the eyes of experienced players isn't much harder than Chess Event.

But progression is progression, no matter on what level you do it. Almost every week we've taken one step further in the direction of Sunwell. The first time we entered TK we hardly knew how to deal with the trash. Last time we one-shotted VR and made our first try on Solarian.
We're on the same Path as any other raider in the game, just quite a bit behind the Top Guilds. But that doesn't diminish the feeling.

To be honest we'll hardly reach Sunwell before the expansion (unless something really weird happens like Blizzard employees going for a strike, causing a one year delayer, which would probably make them bankrupt anyway). Actually I doubt we'll even clear Black Temple. Probably we should be able to clear the most of SSC and TK and do the first boss in MH, but it all depends on what will happen when summer hits. There always is a risk that vacations and other RL issues will make raiding decrease to a minimum.

Still I'm not the slightest worried about it. Because all that counts to me is that I'm On The Path. I'm not a spectator of the end game, I'm a participator, if you see the difference. I COULD very well reach Sunwell. I'm walking The Path. And honestly - I don't think I would be happier if I knew I would reach the end of it. The journey itself is what makes the trip worthwhile. Not the destination.