Thursday, April 30, 2009

Once a leader not always a leader

Last week Stabs at Death Knight Spree published a series of articles where he launched a model of how to regard the WoW players from a sociological perspective. He suggested that we all could be sorted into one of two categories. Either you’re a producer or you’re a consumer. To get the full picture of his ideas you should read the original articles:

The short version:

“Producers make player-enhanced content happen. They start groups, form guilds, lead raids, invite other to battleground pre-mades. Consumers join these activities once they have been initiated by someone else.”

Typical producers according to Stabs are guild officers, raid leaders, tanks and healers. Typical consumers are dps. Producers like to craft things. Consumers like to shop at AH and love vanity items. Consumers expect to be summoned to instance runs and won’t tell people when they go AFK. All according to Stabs.

Spinksville did a post that connected to this topic, but preferred to call the categories “Active” and “passive” players. She also gave some suggestions about how to encourage the active players – or at least refrain from discouraging them.

Not following the pattern
After pondering upon this for a few days (it really gave me some food for thought, so thanks for sharing your ideas Stabs!) I’ve come to the conclusion that I disagree to some extent. Or at least I don’t quite recognize myself.

For instance I took Stabs questionnaire, and ended up with a more or less even result, with a slight overweight to producer – in spite of Stabs suggestion that most players are leaning heavily towards either side or that dps are consumers per definition.

I’m not a raid leader, that’s true. I don’t think I have the deep knowledge about the encounters and the mechanisms of each class to do a good job doing it (unless it’s a very easy encounter that everyone in the raid knows by heart). That makes me a consumer. On the other hand I always make my way to the instance without expecting to be summoned and I’ve never ever failed to tell the raid when I go AFK. That’s not about being a producer. That’s about showing common sense and it’s something that is expected from everyone in a raiding guild, officer or plain member, tank or dps, “producer” or “consumer”.

The lack of flexibility
However, even if I disregard of those details, I see a problem when you categorize people this way, pointing out some ones to be leaders and others to be followers. The problem I see is the lack of flexibility. It’s so easy to let those ideas become “truth”. It’s so easy that people get trapped into roles that suited at one point in their lives, but that they currently don’t enjoy.

Have you ever heard of officers and guild leaders being burned out? No wonder. This is the effect when you – and others – look upon yourself as a “producer” by default. Once a leader – always a leader. This assumption isn’t only wrong; it also creates a lot of unhappiness – in Azeroth as well as in real life.

This is the reason why so many people who have proved not to be suitable for leading others still are found in managing positions. They don’t dare to switch and take the role of a “follower” or a “consumer” for a while, even though they’d be better off in it. Because one way or the other they make a judgement, where the “producer” role is supposed to be more prestigious, so they fear to let go of it, no matter of what it will cost them.

A different approach
What I am suggesting is a different approach to being a consumer/producer, follower/leader, passive/active or whatever you prefer to call it. I think that we have the capability of both roles within ourselves and that we should see WoW as a great opportunity to try it out. In real life I’ve lead people, in WoW I don’t, and I’m quite happy to be one of the foot soldiers. It gives me plenty of opportunities to study the leadership of others from the side and to see and learn from what they’re doing.

I understand quite well though that leading other people, being the organizer and the initiator, is stressful in a way that many players who’ve never tried it probably don’t realize. The little I’ve done of this, as when I more or less accidentally ended up leading a pug in Karazhan, gave me a completely new view of what raid leading is like. And because of this I think that we should be much more open to take turns in both roles.

Just because you’re leading the 25 man raids you don’t necessarily have to take upon yourself to lead the 5 man instances. Let someone else be the initiator, let someone else “make the content happen”, as Stabs puts it. Just relax and let go for once!

And just because you’re not a raid leader or officer in your guild, it doesn’t disqualify you from initiating an instance run. Of course you’ll feel a bit insecure and uncomfortable in the role to begin with, but if you’re honest about it I bet people will understand and give you any support you need, at least if you’re playing with guldies. (Puggers may be more unforgiving).

Look at flock of birds on the move. See how they take turns in being the one leading. They share the loads. Sometimes they’re in the front. Sometimes they’re not. And there’s no big deal about it.

Am I a producer? Am I a consumer? Yes and yes. It’s all depending on my mood of the day, what shape I’m in. Sometimes I’m a producer, not hesitating to swim against the current if that is what is needed. I’m full of energy and I’ll happily try to form a group for an instance, an achievement or whatever my current goal is. Other days I want to relax after a long and intense day at work and I can’t assemble enough motivation to initiate anything. I’ll come along if something comes up, or else I’ll just consume and enjoy whatever solo content the game has to offer.

Azeroth may be digital in one sense, but humans aren’t. We’re not one way or the other. We’re all full of shades and possibilities – if we're only openminded and humble enough to be willing to explore it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I should be mad but I’m not

I should be mad. I really should.

When I think about it I must agree with Green Armadillo at Player versus Developer. The concept of the “Shake your Bunny-Maker” achievement IS an example of objectification of women. You can’t come around the association to Playboy ears – even though the tail is missing – and this is emphasised by the “age limit” put at level 18.

But no matter how I try I can’t work up any real rage. Probably I’m too used to it. This is how society looks like; it’s just how things are. So I’ll let Green Armadillo stand for the serious side of this and throw myself into the play, ignoring what it represents. Because to be honest: I think those ears are just adorable! At least on a pink pigtailed gnome – they look absolutely natural and adds some more cuteness to her. (I didn’t think it was possible, but it is.)

Clicking until nausea
I can’t say that I adored the egg-hunt as an achievement. I switched between the methods. Sometimes I camped a strategic spot with several spawn points within reach. Sometimes I grew too bored and ran around in circles, constantly spamming my rush buff to speed it up. That was a little bit more fun, even though it didn't give as many eggs. But no matter of method this event was most of all about clicking and clicking and clicking until nausea. Winner was the one who didn’t get cramp in the mouse arm. You didn’t just have to collect the eggs. You also had to loot them and to some extent eat what was inside.

Some players tried to make it a bit more convenient, making up a script to do it automatically. That could be treacherous though. I spoke to one of the readers of PPI who plays at the same server as me. Suddenly there was a bitter exclaim from him. He had just realized that he had kept eating every chocolate egg he looted for the last half hour, even though he already had completed the eat-100-chocolates-achivement. He had forgotten about the script he had made….

Bunny ear hunt
In that perspective, the bunny-ear-thing felt like a blessing, something else but eggs to worry about. And it requested you to leave your chosen egg camp for a while. Since people didn’t bother about clicking away the buff, it was quite impossible to tell which race and gender all of those pink bunnies were. It was better to head to one of the capital cities for that part.

But one player actually did something about it. He sent out a question in general, asking if there was any female gnome around that he could put bunny ears on. And I was happy to answer him: “Yes, catch me if you can!” Then I took off my rabbit costume, used my egg rush ability and started to run around all over the place, sometimes crouching in a bush (they’re perfect hiding places for a gnome and you can giggle at all the people who try to loot you, thinking that your pigtails are eggs) .

A minute later there came a happy exclamation: “Got’ya!” and I found myself wearing another couple of extra ears. I smiled happily at him before I took up the hunt for my last few treasures.

Teasing the raid leader
Now I’m so done and over with this event. I don’t want to see another egg. Ever. I’ve got my title and I gathered the extra 100 eggs to get the new polymorph. It’s not necessary to have in any way, it is all about vanity, but I as a gnome mage I just feel the urge to learn whatever spell I may come across. It’s in our nature.

In a few days the eggs will despawn and a new mad rush will start for The Children's Week. We’ll see as many orphans around as we saw bunnies before.
But I don’t think Noblegarden is quite over yet. We’ll live with those ears for a little bit longer. The Spring flowers won’t despawn, as far as I know. While we were setting the best strategy for the rather difficult Auriaya pull in Ulduar, people started to amuse themselves by putting bunny ears on the bald head of our gnomish raid leader. That wasn’t a pretty sight, to put it mildly. But it surely annoyed the hell out of him, which of course made it a lot more fun. The question is: how many ears can you put on a rl before he kicks you from the raid? Who will be the one to cross the limit? That remains to be seen.

All I know is that I don’t mind wearing those bunny ears. I see the problem, but I love them too much to care. Feel free to use your spring flowers whenever you see me. I look great in them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gold can’t buy you golden memories

Finally the day came when Gevlon hit the ceiling. No more gold to be earned! The silence at his blog yesterday was dramatic and caused some worries among his followers. Has he put an end to his blogging? Or was this just one day off, a well deserved temporary break? That remains to be seen.

Now, the question arrives: what is he going to do with his 214 748 gold?

Selling or charity
There are some options around. Sell it for real life money, like an illegal farmer? I don’t think so. Even if Gevlon embraces ideas such as that “tax is theft”, I’ve never seen him as an outlaw who advocates that you should do illegal things. He may be greedy, he may not encourage “being nice”, but as far as I know he’s always played according to the written rules. It’s just the unwritten ones that he loves to break. And apart from that I’m not so sure that selling gold actually is very profitable anymore. Since there’s such an abundance of gold in game and there’s a general feeling spreading out that WoW has peaked and slowly, slowly will drop players, the cost for gold probably is going to fall quite a bit.

What else could he do? Throw himself into charity, giving it away? That’s out of the question. He’d rather let it despawn with his character the day he finishes his account than encourage “Moron & Slacking” behaviour supporting them with gold. If he could find someone who really deserves it he’d be happy to give it away, but the problem is that if he’d find such a person, this person would have all the gold they needed anyway, by their own means, since they know how to support themselves.

Buy a raid spot
Could he get some entertainment from it, using the gold as a sort of entrance fee to buy whatever experience he’s looking for. Maybe. Maybe not.

Gevlon has seen content that way before, when he successfully bought himself a spot in a guild that Naxx on farm. So it obviously suits him, and maybe that’s all he’s asking for.

I just can say that it’s not for me. I never ever quit my raiding spot in Adrenaline to buy myself in a further progressed guild. Period. I wouldn’t even do it if I got paid. I’d see the bosses go down quicker and with more ease, but for what enjoyment? If I only want to see them I can watch a YouTube video. Raiding for me isn’t about seeing or looting. It’s about the experience of overcoming challenging together with people you get to know a bit over time. Epic memories will come where you least expect it. And generally I think it isn’t anything you pay for.

Epic concert memory
I’ll tell you a real life story as an example of what I mean. Last Saturday I went to see a rock concert in company with my 15 year old daughter. We were going to see the Swedish group Mando Diao, which had their final gig at home in Stockholm after touring around in Europe for a month. They seemed to be as excited as the audience. There was love in the air.

It had been over 20 years since I last went to a concert without any available seats, but it was as if no time at all had passed. I spent the night in one of the front rows with my daughter and we were dancing, jumping and singing our hearts out. As it ended I was completely squeezed, exhausted and wet with sweat, but I felt happier than I’ve done in a long time. The amazing thing was that even though I stood out in the crowd, to say the least, she wasn’t embarrassed at all in having me around.

This was our night. And it wasn’t over yet. Suddenly, as we were waiting for the audience to start to head for the exits, one of the security guards approached us. She handed over one of the drumsticks to me (the other one had been tossed out in the audience after the last song). She said that she thought I should have it, since it was so rare and nice to see a parent present among all those kids. I stared at it, not quite understanding. “Hurry up”, she added. “Hide it!”. And finally I grabbed it and put it under my shirt, trying not to show it as I made my way towards the wardrobe. My daughter struggled not to shout out what just had happened. She squealed silently to herself and her face was brighter than the spotlights had ever been on the scene.

It was a magical night and we started out our long journey home, our epic loot now safe in the backpack. I knew that neither I, nor her, would ever forget it.

Golden moments not for sale
Now, I have no idea if this band is big enough to carry a market for “things that have once belonged to them”. But let’s say they were. And let’s say that I wouldn’t have joined my daughter at the concert. In stead I would have used my fortune to buy a similar drumstick, wrapping it up and giving it to her. Would it have been the same thing? Definitely not. Of course she would have been grateful, thanking me for this cool and quite unusual gift. But as time passed, her preferences switched. There would be new rock bands to admire and the drum stick would end up in a garage sell since she didn’t have any memories attached to it.

I think it’s the same thing in the game. The most golden moments just aren’t for sale. They come for free, mostly when you least expect it.

And I bet that the biggest pleasure that Gevlon has gotten from his project isn’t the gold itself. Watching the number on the screen can only hold your attention for a few seconds, no matter how insanely big it is. I think running interesting discussions, trying arguments on worthy opponents and getting an opportunity to spread his political views is what has kept him hooked so far.

Back to the initial question – what to do with all that gold? I asked myself what I would do if that wallet was in my little dirty gnome paws, and I really had a hard time to think of things to spend it on. The only thing I could think of right away was to buy my alt an epic flying mount. Yeah, I know some of you think it’s a waste of money, but since she’s a herbalist and will spend some time farming when she’s sitting out raids or looking for a group, it would come quite handy. The slow flying feels a bit uncomfortable, not to say tedious.

But what to do with the other 209 748 g? I have no idea. It will be interesting to see if Gevlon has.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some thoughts about WoW blog improvement

There has been a lot of talk about self improvement in the Blogosphere this spring. Quite a few of the blogs on my roll have been participating in an improve-your-blog-in-31-days event. Or at least they did to begin with, most of them seem to have dropped off by now.

The task that for some reason filled them with enthusiasm was the first assignment: to create an elevator pitch – some catchy way of expressing what their blog was meant to be about. Suddenly bloggers who usually write about whatever crosses their minds, thus offering an interesting mixture and flow of ideas started to violate themselves, desperately fumbling for a unique selling point. I guess they hoped it would make them attract more readers.

Now, there’s nothing bad about formulating marketing ideas and I’m into the area myself in RL, but to be honest, the idea to apply this on amateur blogs left me dead cold. I couldn’t help asking: for what reason? What are you aiming at? Are you hoping to one day go professional and make a living out of your blogging? I bet most of you don’t. And if not, why not enjoy the freedom of the casual blogging?

Of course, by all means, it’s your blog and if making a pitch somehow helps you to find your own blogging voice or gives you inspiration, go ahead and do it! As a long time reader of your blogs I must point out though that I haven’t noticed any difference before and after you formulated your offer to the market.

And even if there was a difference I’m not sure it would be to the better. I actually love blogs that offer variation, blogs that are like wild growing gardens, where you’re sometimes caught by surprise. Don’t you too find gardens with perfectly raked paths and bushes cut by the means of a pair of nail scissors pretty boring?

Two great tutorial posts
But OK, even a wild style garden needs some care and maybe some of you DO feel that you need some fuel. Especially new, inexperienced bloggers may feel a bit lost, wondering where to focus. If you’re one of them I suggest that you turn your back to the 31-day-thing, which I think is too general and commercial in its style to be really interesting to a WoW blogger. Instead I suggest that you look at two great tutorial posts written by two of the biggest icons ever in the WoW blogosphere.

The first one is So you want to be a WoW blogger? written by Pike. She gives an unforgettable example of what she means by good blogging, referring to the movie Mrs Doubtfire. And her short version advice is probably the best formulated piece of advice about blogging I’ve ever read:
Write what you love.
Love what you write.
Comment often.

I /sign on that!

The other post I’m thinking about is of course the one written by Daniel Howell, ex BRK. His post The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a WoW blogger is like a testament to the Blogosphere and a wonderful companion to Pike. Read them both and you’re pretty much covered.

Some suggestions from Larisa
Do you really need to improve your blog? I asked it initially and I ask it again. As Daniel puts it so well in his post: blogging shouldn’t become a work. Most of all it should be fun.

Because of this I hesitated a bit if I should offer any blog improving suggestions myself. Finally I decided to do it, out of selfish reasons. I’ve seen quite a few of my favourite blogs disappear lately and others have decreased their activity drastically. If I want the new upcoming bloggers to take their place I’d better give them a few hints. Maybe I can influence them a little to go in a direction I like?

1. Keep writing
First of all, I want you to keep writing! You don’t have to publish posts every day, but if there are weeks and months between the posts you’ll lose me. When I start to follow a blog I’m entering a relationship. There have been examples of bloggers who become stars overnight, but to most of us, establishing ourselves in the Blogosphere, finding our own voice and our regular readers is a process that will take months. It makes me sad when I see new bloggers, like Quiet Kjun at I quest alone, who writes a handful of posts, goes silent for two months, and then wonders where all the readers are and if he should give up blogging. Have some faith, Kjun! As long as you enjoy your writing you shouldn’t bother that much about the audience. They will come!

2. Focus on content
Secondly: I want you to focus on your writing! Yeah I repeat what I just said. Content is far more important than the looks of your site. Look at Gevlon. Look at Tobold's. They have thousands of subscribers, they’re cited everywhere, they have more comments than they can take care of and they don’t give a damned about fancy screenshot, movies and such things, which by the way are a waste of time and effort on many readers who will read your blog through a feed reader anyway. They focus on regular posting, providing me entertainment or food for thought. That’s why I love them. If you want some further ideas about how to write, I suggest that you check out my old ethos-pathos-logos-post. It’s still valid.

3. Interact with the Blogosphere.
Comment on other blogs, link to others, and throw yourself into the ongoing discussions that you find interesting. Don’t market yourself openly in the “please come and visit my blog”-style, it’s just as annoying as any gold beggar in Stormwind. But be present. Let your voice be heard so we get to know you. I gave some advice to Gevlon when he started out and it seems as if he succeeded pretty well, even though I won’t take the whole credit for it. :)

4. Keep your blogroll alive.
This is a detail and maybe a smallish piece of advice, but it really annoys me to see apparently outdated blogrolls on blogs. It gives me the impression that the blogger doesn’t read other blogs, doesn’t care and is generally a bit sloppy. Believe it or not, but your blogroll tells me a bit about yourself, where in the blogosphere you have your home. And it’s like a living creature. You don’t have to look it over daily, but give it a glance at least every month. Do those blogs you’re linking to still exist or did they die six months ago? Personally I’ll take away blogs that haven’t been updated for more than two months from my roll. It’s with regret, but nobody gets happy by being reminded of their absence. So when Zupa disappeared he also eventually vanished from my blogroll. Now he’s back again, and I'm very happy about it. But if he’ll take a two month break – he’s out.

And of course you shouldn’t just take away outdated blogs. Keep looking out for new, promising bloggers who yet have to find their audience and make sure to add them. Share your knowledge about hidden gems. You can link to the “big names” (I do it too), but don’t let it stay there.

5. Don’t let Gold ads invade your blog.
Finally: a humble request: try to keep the gold ads away from your blog. I know some readers don’t mind, but it really puts me off. I can’t stop thinking about everything bad that is connected to them, for instance hacked accounts. Don’t support those people. I generally dislike ads on blogs, but I can accept and understand that self-hosted bloggers need some coverage for their expenses. But if you need to have ads, make sure that they’re marketing things that don’t go against your inner moral compass. I don’t buy arguments as “they come automatically”. Follow the example of Matticus and work with selected partners.

6. Have fun!
This blogpost has now reached a length where it’s probably breaking any kind of thumb rule for blog post writing. And I don’t care. I had fun writing it. That’s really the most important thing of all. Enjoy what you do and the readers will love you. Just as Pike said.

But don’t forget: You don’t necessarily have to improve your blog. It may be absolutely fine as it is. Consider this option and let go of any stress you may feel. And for God’s sake, stay away from that 31-day program!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A tourist in Azeroth

A month ago there was a lot of talking in the blogs about WoW tourism. Eventually it dawned upon me that the label was referring to dedicated WoW players who temporarily tried out other MMOs, found them inferior to WoW and then expressed their view publicly. People who fancy those other games were somewhat upset, I don’t quite understand why, but I they seemed to be afraid that other games didn’t get a fair chance whenever they were evaluated and always compared to WoW.

Whatever. This post isn’t about this kind of tourism. Since I still have plenty of unseen content in WoW, I don’t feel any urge to go for game sightseeing. Instead I’m going to talk about another interpretation of the word “WoW tourist”. You see, when I first heard it I gave it a completely different meaning. A WoW tourist to me is someone who’s on a temporary visit to Azeroth. A WoW tourist will watch and discover, participate in activities to some extent, but still isn’t a “real inhabitant”. He (or she) has his natural home somewhere else; there’s something holding him back, alienating him from the game (or keeping him at a sound distance if you want to put it that way).

And then I started to think about myself. I’m passionate about WoW. (I don’t think anyone has missed that!) This passion has even driven me so far that I feel an urge to rant about it publicly in a blog. How weird isn’t that? WoW is by far the most time consuming activity I do outside of work. I’ve never ever before been close to have a hobby which I’ve offered so many hours, so much love and so much energy.

Against all odds I feel that I’ve found a home in game as well as in the Blogosphere. People have grown used to that WoW players come in all sorts of shapes and most of the ones I’ve met don’t judge you from prejudices but from your actions. I think that I’ve been fully accepted as a citizen of Azeroth.

Still an alien bird
All this said, my gut feeling says I’m still a bit of a tourist, an alien bird who ended up here more or less by accident. If you would put up a gnomish measuring device it would be revealed that I really don’t belong here; I’m an abnormality, like a temporary visitor from the future or an alien spaceship.

For a while I’ve been trying to pinpoint why I feel this way and I think I’m starting to understand it. It’s it’s not about WoW in itself; it’s about gaming in general. My gaming experience is limited to WoW. I haven’t got a clue about anything else – and actually I don’t feel any urgent need to try it out either. In my blogroll you’ll find quite a few general gaming blogs which I follow with great interest – such as Ixobelle, Player versus Developer, Spinksville, Stylish Corpse, not to mention Tobold's. On an intellectual level I enjoy reading their sometimes rather heavy articles about game mechanics in general, not necessarily only in WoW. But that is how far my general interest in computer games goes.

Since I started to play Wow at least three candidates have been launched and (by some) claimed to be the Big Challenge to WoW: LotR, AoC and Warhammer. (We all know the outcome by now). Not once have I considered even downloading a free trials version of it. On the rare occasions when I’ve visited a gaming store, picking up a WoW expansion, I’ve felt as lost as I would have been if I entered sex video store or a heavy metal record shop. I just don’t belong.
When I think about it, I’m pretty sure that there will come one day when I’ll return to the world I came from. I’m a WoWer, but I’m not a gamer if you get the difference. And that is what alienates me.

Still enjoying the magic
Ysharros at Stylish Corpse wrote a beautiful post about her MMO-melancholy, the sadness she feels at the fact that no MMO can keep her hooked for more than 2-4 months any longer.
“Last but not least, there’s the creeping ennui that grows from having done something many many times before. MMOs aren’t substantively different from each other, and part of that magical first MMO experience was, literally, experiencing everything for the first time. That’s just a fact of life and the way we’re built to apprehend the world, but it’s important in terms of the longevity of any given playing experience.”
Reading this I realized that I’m privileged to be in the position where I am. I’m still enjoying the thrill and the magic of my first MMO. I’m not on a week-long-charter; it’s more like a long backpacker trip, going on for years.

However: when the time comes when I’ll be done with it, or Blizzard will start shutting down the servers, it’s not likely that I’ll start to look for new MMOs, switching subscription every second month. Probably I’ll just turn my back to this world altogether, throwing my heart into some other activity, such as mountain trekking or aikido. My hobbies tend to work like that – they’ll last for some years and then suddenly some other aspect of life will call for my attention. I'm one of those that Spinksville talked about the other day, the many players who won't necessarily jump onto the successor of WoW.

But right here, right now, I’m happy to continue the exploration of Azeroth, the MMO concept and the community belonging to it. I’m having a blast. And to all of you real gamers, I just want to say: “thank you” for letting me in and showing me your world, even though I’m just a tourist.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things to do when you're on the bench

A miracle has happened to many of the raiding guilds. It seems as if the real life obligations that prevented people from signing up for raids suddenly vanished with the arrival of the Ulduar patch. People’s employers don’t force them to work overtime anymore, their spouses don’t have birthdays, the upcoming exams are non-existent and the football teams don’t have not-to-be-missed matches anymore. How convenient!

While it wasn't unusual that guilds had to cancel raids due to lack of signups a few weeks ago, this is more unlikely to happen now. On the contrary, the risk to be benched for a raid has increased quite a deal, and my guess is that this is how it will be for a while. It will change again eventually, when people either get bored with the new content or think that they've have had enough of wiping, if it turns out that Ulduar is as hard as it's supposed to be. If nothing else the upcoming vacation season will put and end to raiding for many guilds. But right now the interest is probably on top.

Reasons for staying online
All over Azeroth, raiders have to find ways to spend nights from the sideline. Some players dislike this so much that they don’t bother to log in if they’re not drafted. Others decide to go online anyway and I’m one of them. There are several reasons for it:

  • There is always a chance that someone won’t turn up or will have technical issues, such as disconnections. Things happen and you may get an invite eventually.
  • There’s a guild incentive for it. In our guild you get a few dkp for showing up and staying available as a reserve for the first hour. And there may be even more; if the night will turn out to be a wipe night or if there will be a first kill and extra dkp award will be handed out for this, you’ll get your share of that too.
  • I want to share the experience. I can’t see the fight or read the raid chat from the sideline, which is a big difference to being benched in a sports team. (I can’t help wishing that Blizzard did something about this, enabling spectators to see what’s going on in a raid without participating in it). But at least I can listen to what’s going on in vent. It doesn’t give me the whole picture, but it gives me some fractions that will add to the knowledge I have about the fights.

How to spend the time
So how do you best spend your bench time? Well, you are a bit restricted in your pick of activity.

Firstly, it has to be something you can do on your own. Joining a group for an instance or even a group quest is out of the question, out of courtesy both to your raiding team and to the party members.

Secondly, it has to be something that you can easily stop doing at a moments notice without losing too much. So it may not be such a good idea to let your levelling alt go to a far-distant-spot, far away from any flight point, into a cave full of mobs and a complicated task to perform. If you log out on spot you’ll lose important rested xp. And if you let your alt HS you’ll have wasted a ton of time and effort you’ve invested in travelling and clearing your way.

Here are some things you can do:

In my guild you’re supposed to have your raiding character standing just outside of the raid instance, ready to enter at any point without needing any summon. If I insist on staying online with my main, there isn’t much else I can do with her but chatting. Chatting is nice for a while, but hardly a way that I want to spend an entire night when my mind was set for raiding.

Go fishing
Do you remember DWP, outside of Karazhan? Oh, how distant it seems in our memories! It was no doubt a gloomy spot, but a nice thing about it was the handy fishing pool right outside of it where you could level your fishing if you were benched for a boss, hoping to get in again later on. I haven’t seen any similar spot outside of Ulduar, but maybe I haven’t looked closely enough. Fishing is a great activity for the bench. However, I’ve only levelled it on my main and it wouldn’t come to my mind to level it on another character. So I’m quite limited to whatever Stormpeaks has to offer (if it has anything at all?)

Farming herbs is a perfect thing to do while listening to the raid and waiting to see if a spot will turn up. Actually it’s so good that it’s one of the major reasons for me to bring up an alt to 80 and pass over the herbalist profession to her from my main. Now Larísa remain parked by the raid instance and I can happily collect my herbs on my alt, ready to switch to my main within seconds.

Clean up
Are your bags a mess? Is your bank full of outdated stuff and old quest items that you’ve forgotten the use of? Are you constantly short of space, panic selling and throwing away stuff out of emergency? This is a golden opportunity to sort things out. You won’t reach the bank of your main if he’s standing outside the raid instance. But at least you can sort out the bags and then go on cleaning up among the possessions of your alts. That’s a great start.

Get rich
I know I don’t spend as much time as I should at AH. I just don’t come around to do it as long as I’m raiding. Killing mobs is more fun than making business in my world. But we all need to finance our raiding somehow, especially with the drastic change to the loot/wipe ration that comes with a more difficult instance. So why not let an alt spend an evening seriously exploring the AH, searching for business opportunities. You didn’t get the boss kill or loot this night, but at least you got rich!

So how about you? Will you stay online or will you go and do something outside of WoW if you’re not drafted for the raid? And if you chose to go online, how will you spend your night?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From chaos to order – slowly climbing the learning curve once again

Once again I’ve been tossed into chaos with the arrival of the Ulduar patch. It happens every time there’s major new content added to the game or they change the game mechanics or user interface. I get lost.

It doesn’t matter how quick the major blogs and fansites are to publish informative guides on how to beat the new raid instance or perform the new dailies. I read it but I can’t apply it straight off. I have to see with my own eyes and experience it myself. I have to try and fail a couple of time before I slowly, slowly start to get the picture of it and it finally “clicks”.

Slow learner
This process is rather slow these days. I don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s my age. Tobold has talked a lot about this lately, how the aging population in WoW has problems with new game mechanics that most of all demand quick reactions. Honestly – we DO learn quicker when we’re younger. My mental hard disk isn’t what it used to be. Either I need more brain cells or a defrag to speed up the processor. I won’t speculate on the cause. It could also have something to do with my lack of gaming experience. But the fact remains: it takes time for me orient myself in the new post-patch landscape.

My limited gaming time doesn’t make the learning process easier. While some guildies already have spent four nights in Ulduar – trying it in 25 man as well as in 10 man – I’ve only been able to see it once. I would be tempted to do like many others do and increase my gaming time to enjoy all the new shiny stuff. I know better though. Now it’s time to stick to the agreement I’ve made with my family when it comes to raiding hours, no matter what.

This will make me miss some of our guild first boss kills and it will also mean that I get less practice in the new fights. This sucks a bit. But after all I know I’ll see all the bosses and do all the bossfights eventually, as long as I manage to balance real life and playing. If I fail in this I’ll end up in game over and that would be much worse.

First impressions
So what did I think about my first peek into Ulduar? Well, it certainly was chaotic enough. I’ve had a little practice of the siege weapon concept in Wintergrasp, but that’s far from enough to be able to perform well in a vehicle fight. I feel lost without my normal action bars and abilities. I would need to explore the new interface that suddenly is presented at my own pace, without any pressure to get on with the fight. There’s no time for figuring out things, experimenting on your own. You have to get the hang of it asap.

I was assigned as a demolisher passenger and even though I read about what to do on WoWwiki and even watched some videos, I was quite clueless when it came to execution. All I could see around me was a mess of vehicles, mobs and explosions and doing the trash I shooted all around quite randomly. Luckily enough my guildies are more cleaver and quick at grasping the situation than I am. I didn’t take us many tries before we downed him. And when we succeeded I actually managed to use the catapult mechanism and get an achievement for taking down a tower, so I guess I did something right after all.

Figuring out Razorscale
The rest of the night as spent on figuring out how to kill Razorscale. It was a wonderful learning experience. While there are strategies published, they’re still not polished and discussed in the community until perfection. There was still room for doing our own trial and error, step by step working out a strategy, analyzing what to change after each wipe. And that’s exactly what makes raiding interesting to me.

Once again my first impression of the fight was: complete chaos. There were mobs spawning everywhere, some of which I was supposed to sheep – preferably before someone had damaged them. There was fire and there were random bombs and unlike for instance the Heigan fight it wasn’t enough to just stay alive – you had to push out decent dps as well. Quite a challenge! To be honest I died way too quickly to begin with. But in or last and best try, which ended at 53 percent, the encounter suddenly didn’t seem quite as chaotic as it did at first. There was a pattern. And I knew that we would get him pretty easily the next time. (I was right about that – it didn't take long before my guildies killed him in the following raid).

From chaos to order
Tonight I’ll hopefully be drafted to our third and last 25 man raid in Ulduar this week. A new encounter awaits me: XT 002-Deconstructor. This will be challenging to me, who wasn’t there for the first attempts, but I’ll do my best to catch up. And slowly, slowly I’ll climb the learning curve of Ulduar. Finally I know we’ll sort it all out and the place will be on farm. That will make me a richer girl, but it will make it all much less interesting. And we’ll ask ourselves how we could have such problems with those “easy”, free-looting bosses. Because so short is our memory. But by then the magic will be gone and we’ll be craving for something else.

If someone asked me what aspect of raiding I love most and I only was allowed to pick one, it would be this one – the process of learning an encounter, to see the transformation from chaos to order.

From what I saw of the first night in Ulduar, it will offer me exactly what I’m looking for in the game. Resistance, confusion and a riddle to solve. Wipes and trials, eventually followed by triumphs. We’re not Ensidia, and we’ll have to struggle quite a bit before we’ll have it all sorted out. I’m quite sure it will keep us occupied until the next raid instance is released and another chaotic period can start.

Do I need to tell you I’m happy about this patch?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It’s like pasta with chocolate sauce

I like spaghetti. I like chocolate sauce too. But it wouldn’t come to my mind to serve it together. Some good things are best to enjoy separately, not together.

In WoW for some reason, the designers have decided to disregard of this. They mix high fantasy concepts such as knights, swords and dragons, with crashed space ships and gnomish high tech engineering. Anything goes and my thoughts go to odd dishes as Jambalaya or Paella, where you mix seafood and meat, ignoring that they’re normally served separately.

When I was new to the game I reacted against it intuitively. I remember clearly that I was a bit shocked when I first noticed a hunter using a loaded gun. A gun? I would have expected a crossbow, but hardly a modern shooting weapon in this supposedly magical world.

A wild mixture
Over the years Azeroth has developed in a manner that it doesn’t keep together in any way at all. It does if you just stay within Northrend. But if you travel from a vanilla zone to a TBC zone, ending up in Stormpeak, you can hardly understand that it’s the same game, especially when you look at the NPCs.

However, as I’ve grown into the game, I’ve become used to it. I’ve even come to the point that I appreciate the insane mixture of fantasy and science fiction. Anything goes. There’s no logic, but you can’t complain about lack of variation. There’s a zone and an atmosphere that will match every thinkable mood.

I consider myself pretty openminded and flexible when it comes to the game design. I don’t expect everything to be coherent; I accept that the game has evolved over time and that the built in differences makes it feel rich and interesting.

Following this let-it-be-philosophy, I’ve accepted inventions such as siege weapons and motorbikes. I’m fine riding my Alterac valley ram, side by side with a bandwagon; I can ignore that it doesn’t make sense. But there is one thing I can’t get used to, something that makes me shiver every time I see it, because looking at gives me the same feeling as when you scratch your nails at an old fashioned blackboard (I reckon some of you are old enough to remember that sound.)

The surfing disaster
The one thing I can’t stand is the surfing. I’m thinking about the pose that tailors have when they’re riding their flying carpets. For some strange reason they don’t sit down as any decent mage riding a magic carpet would do. They use it as a flying skateboard. If you have a gnome the animation looks even worse – our short legs seem to have grown together with the mat and if you have a dagger or a sword in your hand, it’s too long and will cut a hole in it, sticking out on the other side.

I don’t know why I find the surfing so appalling, but it may have something to do with my associations to the LotR movie where they for no reason at all suddenly had Legolas surfing on a shield. It was such a shame and ruined something that in other aspects was pretty good. Surfing for me is a part of modern everyday life. I don’t want it in game any more than I want them to open a fast food restaurant.

Don’t think I’m a surfing hater. On the contrary. A couple of years ago I visited San Diego and when I saw the surfers dancing on the top of the waves I fell in love with it and swore that I’d become one of them if I’d ever be offered a second life. Surfing is fine. It tastes delicious on it’s own. But it has no place in WoW!

The flying carpet remains unused in the packing of Larísa. The only use I had from it was obtaining one not-too-expensive skill-up point.

You don’t see many of the carpets flying around these days, do you? Dragons make much more sense than surf boards in Azeroth. The gamers know that. It’s just the designers that haven’t realized it yet.

Spaghetti and chocolate sauce don’t mix well.
And a final note...
Some of you may wonder if I haven't noticed the 3.1 patch. Why don't I blog about it? Does PPI exist in a patchfree bubble of its own? Well, to be honest I can't see the point of copy-pasting patchnotes into a blog post. Or to tell the world that your server is lagging too. But I will come to my experiences from it, at some point. It just needs to be digested first.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gear matters

It didn’t take me more than ten meters of skiing before the insight dawned upon me, like a Hot Streaked Pyroblast: Gear really does matter!

For over 20 years I had been clinging to the skiing equipment I had bought in the mid 80’s. Since I only go skiing a few days a year – at the most – they still looked quite new and fresh, not worn out by any means. And being just a casual skier – why should I strive for anything better?

This year however, I had got a new idea into my head. I wanted to try a pair of rented carving skis, more than 10 years after everyone else had switched to the new standard design. I wasn’t expecting too much; I think my intention rather was about to proof to myself once for all that I was doing fine with my current gear and that an upgrade was a waste of money.

Two turns in the slope was all I needed to decide that my old skis were doomed to destruction. Suddenly I could change direction whenever I wanted to. Suddenly I could ride pretty quickly (for being me, I’m still a bit of a coward, afraid of the steeps), still feeling that I had things under control. I could chain pull the whole way down from the top to the valley, not stopping even once to rest because my legs hurt so much because of the heavy, sorbet-looking, winterspring snow.

It was amazing, it was thrilling and I couldn’t stop smiling out of sheer pleasure.

Good enough
And I thought about WoW. You don’t need to be a perfectionist to have fun in the game. There are even good reasons to settle for a level that is “good enough”, where you feel that you can pull your weight, not being a burden to anyone else. (Where this threshold goes is a subject for discussion. Gevlon has a pretty clear picture of it; Rohan, Matticus and Big Bear Butt have also made some great posts that you should check out if you’ve missed it.)

However, even though there is a “good enough” limit, you definitely shouldn’t settle with the “not-good-enough” gear just because you’re casual, thinking that gear doesn’t matter to you. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE to make your way down the hill on 20 year old skis, but the experience is far from what it could have been with different gear. Better skis didn’t make me OP for the hill. It enabled me to go down with a higher amount of control, speed and self confidence.

I’ve often heard it said as some kind of truth that you shouldn’t bother going to AH while levelling a character. You’ll get all the gear you need from quest rewards and drops. I must say that I disagree on this. While I don’t suggest that you invest tons of gold into luxury twink gear, I still think that it can be pretty worthwhile to throw in a handful of gold to give your toon a smother levelling ride.

My daughter is still levelling her druid, now level 19. I still try to stay away as much as possible, letting her explore the game at her own pace. But I did send her 100 g, a bunch of 18 slot bags and a pair of levelling shoulders to make things a little bit easier. And when I one day found her exploring the content of AH, I didn’t advice her against it. On the contrary, I helped her to invest some 20 g to fill some still empty slots, getting her a better staff, a necklace, a ring and a few other things. She’ll grow out of it, sure, but it won’t happen tomorrow, considering her pace of levelling.

And what a joy it was to see her on her first killing assignment after the gear upgrade! She was all sunshine, not having to take breaks after every mob for self-healing and mana drinking. She could ride the whole way down the hill on her new carving skis.

Reasons for improvement
We all have different reasons why we want to improve our gear. Some players feel that they haven’t beaten the game until they have best-in-slot everywhere, be it for vanity and status or just for their urge to feel complete. Other players work on their gear because they think that it will miraculously take them from mediocrity to awesomeness. (They’re wrong!)

I don’t think I belong to either category. Hopefully my view on gear is more balanced and down-to-Earth. But still. Gear matters and there’s no way around it. It’s strange that it took me so long and a skiing experience before I finally could embrace it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A snowboard lesson in WoW perspective

“Mum, I want to ride a snowboard this year!”

I stared at my soon-to-be 15 year old daughter and tried the best I could to hide my doubts.

“Are you sure about that? You’ve never ever set your foot on such a thing, and we haven’t got a clue about what to do with it, so we can’t give you any kind of advice. You haven’t even seen any friends going on a snowboard. It seems pretty hard”.

Then I bit my tongue. I didn’t want to sound that negative and talk her out if it. Sometimes kids get stupid ideas into their heads that you should try to rid them of, but this certainly wasn’t one of those moments.

Luckily enough my daughter didn’t listen to the hesitating tone in my voice. She had made up her mind. She wanted to see if snowboard was as fun as it looked. End of discussion.

Teenage attitude
I looked at her, a little bit envious. Such a confidence she had in herself! Such an attitude she had! When you’re a teenager anything seems to be doable; you can reach the moon, you can become a movie star and you can ride a snowboard if you want to.

If I could only show half of that attitude in WoW! Then I would have dared to be the mage tank in Gruul (I never came around to do that, there was always someone else, willing to do it). Then I would roll a tank or a healer, being one of the core roles in a raid, rather than one in the dps crowd. Then I would lead an instance run. Then I would form an arena team and just give it a shot. I wouldn’t care so much about the risks of a failure.

Adults often tend to grumble about kids in game. We don’t like their sometimes quite unpredictable behavior, their tendency to jump the ship and go for something else within a second. And since we have kids of our own we don’t want to play the role of their father or mother in game, which is pretty easily done. It’s pretty common that guilds have a +18 year requirement, just to save themselves a lot of fuss.

But with all their faults I can’t help thinking that kids sometimes succeed where the elder players fail – thanks to their nothing-is-impossible-and-I-can-kick-ass-attitude. There are moments when we should throw all our grown-up-self-doubts overboard and just follow their example.

Private lessons
Now, attitude is fine, but it won’t teach you to do such a technical thing as ride a snowboard. And since time was precious – we only had rented equipment and bought lift passes for three days – I decided to give her a kick start. I hired a private teacher for her for a couple of hours over two days. And what difference didn’t that make! Of course she fell a lot – in the trails as well as in the lift. Of course there were times when she swore in frustration. But she got instant expert feedback on everything she did, she was taught the basics properly and the progress rate was amazing. On the third day she could ride all the way down from the top, looking as if she’d been doing this for years. And the sparkling smile on her face was priceless.

So, why do I rant about the skiing lessons of my daughter? There’s nothing special about attending a skiing class or taking a few private lessons if the schedule doesn’t fit you. What about it?

Well, the thought struck me that it’s strange that it’s so different in Azeroth. In real life there’s no shame at all to admit that you’ve never ever before stood on a snowboard. If you want to try it, you go for it, you hire someone to help you out and everyone’s happy. But in WoW it’s different for some reason. If you’re a beginner, you’re supposed to find out how to do by yourself. If you’re new to a role, tanking or healing your first instance and do a lot of mistakes, falling in the slope, you’ll be likely to get comments as “L2P”.

Yeah, I know, there are many great resources available on blogs and websites. You can read about how to spec, how to heal, how to gear and what strategies to use. You can even see some videos. But seriously, reading is great for learning theoretical things, but not perfect for developing skills. I for one wouldn’t expect my daughter to learn how to ride her snowboard by looking it up on Internet.

A private WoW teacher
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some real tutoring online in WoW from someone who could give you immediate feedback and instructions on vent? How much quicker wouldn’t you learn if someone joined you in an instance, specifically looking at your timing, your movement, and your pick of spells, giving advice to you in real time (rather than commenting afterwards studying a wws)?

I’ve never ever understood the idea of offering gold for boosting, since boosting is such an extremely boring thing to do and it really isn’t the most efficient way of levelling anyway. But private tutoring would be something different. What if there was a tanking school, a healing class, a frost-aoe-grinding workshop? I wonder if players would be prepared to pay for that kind of service. I suspect not, but I can’t pinpoint why. What’s so different in learning how to master a character in WoW to learning how to master a snowboard? Is it that we find it humiliating to learn from those who know the game better? That a computer game is supposed to be much easier to learn than skiing? Or maybe the problem is the opposite – there are people prepared to pay for good teaching, but there’s a lack of willing teachers? The good players, the experts, will rather enjoy the end game at their own level than teaching newbies.

I can’t help thinking it’s a pity. It’s not just that new players have to spend more time than they’d need messing around on their own, painstakingly figuring out things that someone could have told them in a second. It’s also that I think the experts miss something too. I believe that taking a few adepts and being their mentor could be a great cure against the boredom and burnout that some veteran players fight.

When my daughter returned from her skiing lessons, it wasn’t just she that was smiling. Her teacher was too, and I can swear it wasn’t just because she was paid to do so. She actually enjoyed seeing the quick progress of her pupil, knowing that she had a big part in it.

I wish I was so skilled that I had something worth teaching others. Then I wouldn’t hesitate to take an adept under my protective wings. And I wouldn’t even want any gold for it.

Who knows, one day I may get there! There’s no limit in what you can do if you just believe in yourself. It’s true. I just learned it from my daughter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Endgame once again!

When you get your second child, can you really love that one as much as you loved your first one? Will there still be love enough for the first one? That is a question that many children who are about to get a sister or brother anxiously will ask. And perhaps their parents too will worry a bit, secretly, not admitting it even to themselves.

The answer is of course is yes! There’s always room for more love. The strange thing about love is that there isn’t any limited supply of it. It doesn’t follow the natural law. You won’t run out of it; you won’t have to split it in half once child number 2 is born. It will double by itself.

Reaching 80 once again
But real life is one thing and game is another. As I’ve been closing in, approaching level 80 on my second character, my rogue Arisal, I’ve been wondering what it will feel like to ding 80. Will I feel the same satisfaction? Will I feel the same lust to go on and finally start the “real game”, gearing her up, grinding for reputations and challenging her in instances and maybe even a 10 man raid? Could I possibly feel the same affection for her as I feel for Larísa? Won’t it just be a “meh”? After all, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. She’s got black hair instead of pink pigtails, but so what? Couldn’t I just expect a feeling of déjà-vu?

Now I know better. Reaching max level on your second character can be just as exciting as it is to do it the first time. Yesterday Arisal dinged 80 and I was completely blown off by the happiness I experienced. I know this will sound a bit weird; probably it’s a sign of my rather unhealthy relationship to my characters, but I actually felt quite proud of the little creature.

Arisal hasn’t had an easy ride since she was born in February 2008. Larísa has always had my first priority – now and in the future; that’s the life of a raider. You pick one main and you work that character to perfection. Otherwise you won’t be competitive and useful in raids. During some periods Arisal has been completely abandoned, deserted at some godforsaken inn where she’s had nothing to do but to collect rested xp. And when she’s finally been let out in open air again, her master has forgotten just about everything of the way of a rogue. To be honest her way of killing stuff has been “interesting” rather than efficient. I’ve never ever considered giving her proper enchants and gems. And the level of her lockpicking skill is something I’d rather not talk about, it’s too embarrassing.

But she did it, eventually, in spite of the bad odds. I guess I can thank Easter and the pre-patch apathy for it. When we had to cancel the raid I didn’t have much else to do but to level Arisal. And then there was another day off from work due to the season holiday and before I knew it the achievement message flashed over the screen.

I had reached Endgame once again, and to my surprise I felt instantly that I couldn’t wait to dive into it.

Five man instances
It’s been quite a while since the 5-man instances were really interesting to me. I’ve always said that I don’t care much about loot and gear; measuring the size of my e-peen isn’t typical of me. But to be honest, the possibility that you’ll get at least SOMETHING of value out of the instance – more than a shard, adds another dimension to the go. When you don’t even want the badges and you’ve done every achievement there is for the 5-mans (well, except one in Occulus, but I really hope to get that one soon :)), when you as well as the rest of the party is completely overgeared for the instance, making any kind of strategy thinking a waste of effort – well… then it isn’t as fun anymore. Nice company is a great thing, but at least I need a little bit more to motivate myself, to make a real effort, focus and have a fun time in an instance.

Now, with a brand spanking new rogue, begging me to gear her up, I find myself in a completely new situation. And the instances don’t only offer upgrades again; they offer a challenge too! Playing melee dps is completely different to playing ranged, believe me. Suddenly those poison clouds, void zones and nasty stuff that comes in all colours, which the bosses love to wrap themselves in, become a real threat to me. I have to figure out how to avoid them and STILL be able to make decent damage, even though you can’t really stab and hit someone with a mace keeping a healthy distance. The positioning is far from easy, and I wonder if I’ll ever get used to the idea of constant movement in order to hit from behind.

I know I will suck. I know that when I pug, some players will probably mutter “L2P”. But so what? I can live with it. WoW has come alive to me, not only in the raids, but also during the off nights.

I’ve got a ton of work to do on Arisal. It’s endgame once again and I love it! Arisal may be my second child, but she’s definitely just as much loved as Larísa ever was.

And Larísa has no reason to worry either. A patch will come, hopefully loaded with challenges to keep a veteran mage happy and occupied.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wanted: a suicidal spell

Think about a mage. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? (Apart from our general awesomeness and brilliance of course.)

Probably you’ll say something about "squishy". You think of someone who for some strange reason thinks that a think silk gown is an appropriate way to dress when you’re about to face a big evil dragon. You imagine someone who is so vulnerable that he or she will die instantly if the monster as much as look in their direction.

We’re supposed to be fragile, not to say suicidal. If there’s anything in the game that we’re good at, it’s to die quickly. We’re the Masters of Corps Runs.

Now is the time to inform you that you’ve got the wrong picture. As a matter of fact I’ve recently become more and more annoyed with my inability to die.

While we've been struggling with Sartharion + 3d, it happens all the time that wipes are called for different reasons. We've lost a tank, we've lost too many healers and there's no point in continuing. It’s standard procedure that the RL will order us to die ASAP in order not to lose precious raiding time to a futile attempt.

And this is when my usually so weak mage for some reason suddenly becomes surrounded by some sort of magical shield, making her more or less impossible to kill. (And mind you, I’m not a frost mage!) I plunge into fire walls, I look all over the place for void zones, I wave at the add elements and dragon whelps, begging them to make the procedure short. No result. I end up chasing Sartharion himself, begging him to kill me out of pity. And as one of the last persons in the raid I’m finally allowed to release and run.

What kind of a joke isn’t that? Where is all that survivability when you actually need it?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be given a suicidal spell to be able to finish our lives on short notice when needed? That wouldn’t really count as OP, would it? And if not, why not let the alchemists come up with something? Let us make a lethal potion for suicidal purposes. Honestly, I think there’s a market for it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Serving some mage poetry

I’ve never ever in my blogging life seen so many memes going around. There are currently more meme posts than there are original one-and-only posts. I think many bloggers feel a bit stuck at the moment. Progress is slowing down, we seem to have reached a phase where guilds are farming the content they’re able to farm and giving up about the rest.

It’s not like the pre-expansion apathy last autumn, but not far from it. Bloggers lack content to write about; they're just waiting for the Patch to hit. So what do they do? They clinch into those memes as precious pearls, providing you a topic for one day.

The latest meme in the row was started by Fimlys at Asleep at the WoW. He revived an old topic of his, namely asking us to write haiku-inspired WoW poetry. This time it’s supposed to be class related. Critical QQ did this one last week and required his fellow mage bloggers to do the same.

Actually I’ve posted WoW haikus twice in the past. (Here and here if someone wants to read it all).

A few of the poems I wrote at that time had mage theme. Considering how few readers I had at that point I’ll reprint them here.

Mages were nuke kings
until warlocks took over
Blizzard must hate us

The sheep was broken
by a noobish elf hunter
Go invisible!

Nuking Attumen
the fire mage took aggro
Iceblock saved her life

I’m out of mana!
I can’t even hurt a rat
No one notices

I admit they are a little bit outdated. Aggro problems aren’t quite as common as they used to be in TBC; I think they’ve strengthened the aggro building abilities of the tanks a bit. Warlocks have been nerfed a bit. And we don’t have any reason to fear some crazy shooting from hunters breaking our sheep, since we don’t sheep in the first place.

Anyway: I don’t want to only serve the food of yesterday here, so I made up a few more, better adjusted to the current game:

Farewell to sheeping!
All we do is aoe,
portals and cookies.

We’re nerfed to the ground
- but will be compensated:
Polymorph rabbit!

Nuke, nuke, nuke, iceblock
Nuke, nuke, nuke, invisible
The fire mage song

Mid fight evocate
- giving me a leisure break
from main nuke spamming

What about the tagging then? Nope. Feel free to join if you want to.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Twitter and chat – will it drain or feed our blogs?

The interaction between the blogs is a great part of the fun of blogging. I don’t think I would have half as fun doing this if I was like a lonely island, inhabited by myself and rarely ever visited by someone else. The PPI is not intended to be an eremite cave for contemplation in solitude. It’s supposed to be a pub and a hub.

Until now the Blogosphere has worked just fine for me. We constantly exchange thoughts through our blogs in several ways. We make short comments when we stop by, we extrapolate on the posts of others in follow-ups and respond to memes. You can literally see the ideas bouncing around like a pinball ball.

Recently however, I’ve realized that there is a lot of other interaction going on that I’m not a part of. As a matter of fact, I’m standing by the sideline, or rather – I’m completely outside of it; I haven’t got a clue of what’s going on behind those curtains.

BA Chatroom
The insight has dawned upon me step by step. I’ve noticed how bloggers more and more are referring in their posts to discussions they’re having with each other in other media than their ordinary blogs. “As we discussed in the Blog Azeroth chatroom the other day” or “On Twitter we talked about…”

I never know what they’re referring to since I don’t twitter at all. I have occasionally stopped by shortly the BA Chatroom, but I can’t hang around there all day long while I’m working. And if I’m sitting at my computer at night, I’m either playing, having the whole screen covered by WoW, and my attention directed towards what’s going on there, or I’m writing blog posts.

Have you ever tried to write a text and follow a chat conversation at the same time? Maybe some of you younger bloggers have that simultaneous capacity – I definitely haven’t got it. Either I’ll write a lousy blog post or I’ll lose track of the ongoing discussion. So my visits there tend to be not more than a brief “just saying hi”. I’m nothing but a temporary guest and I will never feel as I’m one in the crew.

And then there is this Twitter thing. Taking the risk to sound terribly old fashioned, not up-to-date with the modern media landscape, I must admit that I still fail to see the point. I’m not quite sure what’s holding me back, but I think requires me to split my intention in too many directions. I’m split up enough as it is, since I’m notoriously curious about things and tend to inhale all sorts of useless information, just because it’s there. Add Twitter into it and my head will explode.

Another issue I have is the 140 letters restriction. I know I tend to rant, and that putting things brief is a noble art, but that is too little for my taste. The level of the conversation gets so low that it becomes completely uninteresting to me. I want to exchange thoughts, not random shoutouts of whatever thought comes into my head. I don’t settle with those fragments, blowing around in the air as dry leaves. I want them to grow on a tree; I want them to be connected to something bigger.

So I don’t hang around much in the chat room and I don’t twitter. The question is: is it a problem. Will my blog be cut off from the rest of the Blogosphere, since I’m not into those other networks, which obviously are getting stronger?

Probably not. I still have interaction with some bloggers through comments and linking. And the blogosphere is no different to real life in the manner that you can’t be everywhere and do everything at the same time. You have to choose which fields you want to play with and I’ve chosen to focus my time and effort when it comes to WoW-related out-of-game activities to my blog instead of a chat room or Twitter. Let the chatters and twitters have their fun; there are still enough people around who want to read blog posts rather than one-sentence messages.

Drainage or inspiration?
Still I can’t rid myself of a nagging worrying feeling, and I’ve been trying to pinpoint it. I think what’s bothering me is the question if all this chatting in other media in the long run will distract bloggers from maintaining their ordinary blogs.

If they’ve already shared what’s going on in the game through other channels and ranted their heart out in the chat room, will they still be motivated enough to post about it as well? They’ve discussed it, they’ve formulated their thoughts and they’ve had some feedback. Will the urge to blog be as strong as it would have been without those other let outs?

On the other hand, it’s very much possible that the chatting and twittring has the very opposite effect. Maybe they provide ideas and inspiration for bloggers to come up with new posts.
If you look at institutions such as Blog Azeroth and Twisted Nether, I’m convinced that they contribute a lot to the fact that there are so many new blogs popping up every day, and that there are so many blogs that keep running, month after month, year after year. Maybe Twitter and the BA chat are just two more institutions to provide the community an infra structure.

As long as the bloggers won’t turn lazy I’m fine with it. But if people slow down on their posting because of it, I think it’s a loss.

A sentence in twitter or a chat will be heard for a second by a few, and then be lost in time and space. A great blog post will last for years. Think about that when you decide where to put your energy and focus in the blogging community.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time to go to Winterspring

Winterspring. I fell in love with the place the first time I saw it. I remember the painful levelling of my reputation to be let through the tunnel. And I remember how happy I became when I reached the other side and saw the beautiful crisp snow that waited on the other side, a sharp contrast to the green and rather gloomy Felwood.

When I was told to leave the area to go to Hellfire and kill boars in the red desert, because it would give me better gear, I only went reluctantly. (And honestly I don’t know if it was the right decision, considering how much I died from those pigs.)

I’ve always preferred the winter landscapes in WoW to the deserts and forests. I don’t know why, but I guess that they remind me of my innocent childhood, my first stumbling steps as a young gnome in Dun Morogh.

If you go to real life, this winter has been one of the longest I’ve seen in several years. There was still some snow on the ground last week. But now spring has arrived with full power. However, I’ve decided to enjoy winter a little bit longer, at the time of the year when it is at its best. So now I’m going north, to the Swedish mountains, for a few days of downhill skiing in the warming April sun. That is what I would call Winterspring!

For the first time since last summer, I won’t be online in any way. No WoW, no blogging, no forum reading, I won’t even read e-mails. And the cell phone won’t help me since I refuse to twitter.

The inn will be open – I’ve prewritten a couple of posts. Nothing fancy really, but something to munch on while I’m gone. So sit down by the fire and enjoy yourselves.

I won’t be able to reply if you make any comments this week or comment myself on other blogs, but please, reply to each other if you feel like it! I'll catch up when I'm back.

See you soon again!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Burning bridges over achievements

X has left the raid group. X has left the guild.

It came out of the blue yesterday night, during a wipe recovery mid-raid. Not a single goodbye in the guild chat from this warlock on trial. He just left and my jaws dropped. I’d never seen anything like it before. What was all that about?

It turned out it was about achievements. Some of us love them. Some are obsessed; others just think they make the game play more fun. Some are quite indifferent to it, but will help out the poor lost souls who just “have to” get them. But then there are those players who really can’t see the point in them. They will take every single gold coin paid in repair bills due to unnecessary achievements as an insult. And he obviously was one of those guys.

Bringing entertainment
I think it’s the lack of lack of raiding content in WotLK that brings guilds to go for achievements. Or rather: doing achievements is the raiding content that currently is offered to us. Without them some of the raid encounters are slightly more interesting than doing daily quests.

This week our guild was in a new situation. We were done with the progress encounter, Sarth+3d, only one hour into the first of our three raiding nights. If we didn’t want to cut down on raiding nights, we had to make the raids last a bit longer. So after Sarth, we only did one wing in Naxx and then called it night. Yesterday night was our second night this week. Now the idea was to knock off a few 25 man achievements. That would prolong the raid a bit, we could leave some content for the third night, and above all: it would make it a bit more interesting, challenging and thus entertaining.

And this was what we were doing when this guy just disappeared. We had called two wipes on Loatheb, which we were going to take down without touching the spores. That’s harder than you may think if in the first place. It’s not hard to kill him; the hard thing is not to hurt the spores whatsoever. You have to recall and remove any kind of ability that may cause aoe damage. The first time we failed it was because a warrior hadn’t thought about his reflecting abilities. And the second wipe was called since our GM and raid leader accidently had applied a living bomb, which will cause aoe damage and kill them. (He was cursing at himself much more than he would have yelled at anyone else doing this, and leading a raid is rather stressful so I really don't blame him.) Anyway, two volontary wipes was all this guy could take before he had had enough of the raid as well as the guild.

Shared values
The different views on achievements have become a tension in some guilds. Sydera at World of Matticus wrote about the discussions going on in Conquest.

Now, I sincerely hope that Conquest has worked out those problems. Considering the writings of Matticus and Sydera I think they’re good enough leaders to know what to do.

But in the long run I think that a guild can’t survive if there are too big gaps within it And I’m talking about all sort of gaps - gaps in ambitions and desire to beat hard encounters, gaps in skill and dedication or gaps in how many playing hours we have available for raiding and improving the toons out of raids. And gaps in how we look on achievements. We don’t all have to love them, but at least we have to be able to accept that some other players will want to have shots at them when there’s an opportunity.

Love and friendship may carry us a long way, but eventually you’ll hit a wall. All those gaps will only cause us disappointments and pain. Tobold’s struggles on Malygos is such a typical example of it. There’s always room for some differences in a guild; differences is actually good to some extent. But there will be a point when they’ll become a burden.

The warlock obviously didn’t share our ideas about what good raiding is about. We shrugged and pushed forward. We had a few tries on Shocking but didn’t nail it this time. Then we did And They Would All Go Down Together. It was elegant rather than zerg mode, requiring some coordination, and I had much more fun at that encounter than I’ve had for a long time, and I don't think I was alone, listening to the comments on vent. I ended the raiding night with a big smile on my face.

Doing us a service
The leaving lock had another perspective though, and he took the consequences. I can’t help thinking: “good riddance”. To leave a raid in such a manner is really not OK, to put it mildly. He could have asked to be replaced – there were reserves hanging around, so that wasn’t any issue.

But at a second glance I actually think he did both himself and us a service, taking this quick decision and acting accordingly. Even if we could have worked this raid night out, would he be happy in our guild in the long run? Probably not. The gap was too big. Now he didn’t go around sulking about it, suffering silently or whining, being a pain to the officers. He left, just as Gevlon suggests. Quick and painless, both for him and the guild. He can surely find a guild that raids the way he wants them to, where he isn’t ordered to kill his toon deliberately in order to get an achievement. And we can keep working towards perfection just because it’s fun.

Actually I think a lot of the unhappiness and guild drama we read about in the blogs could be prevented if more people acted like him and just let go when they found that they didn’t share the values with the guild. Leaving mid-raid isn’t a great idea, but at least he burned the bridges properly. I've got to give him credit for that.

Positively Wonderful!

“I hope one day you'll believe in yourself.”

Gevlon wrote those words in a comment on my blog the other day, where he also argued logically why I should. I must admit that my eyes turned a bit wet. I’ve got some tendencies to pick on myself excessively. There’s nothing wrong in being humble and questioning yourself from time to time, but doing it all the time is destructive and pointless. Gevlon, you help me to see things a bit clearer. Thank you.

Now I’ve got another reason to believe in myself. A few days ago I received an award from a blog that I think most of you haven’t read or heard about.

It’s a blog called Rick’s Place, where Wildwynd writes about his experiences in game, but also about his real life struggles. He’s got more than his share of sorrows and burdens and he shares his thoughts and feelings about it openly and skinless. Whenever I read it, it becomes evident to me that Azeroth really is a place where people can recover and get a well deserved break, even for just a few hours, when we’re facing one of those life crises which eventually will occur to everyone. Slipping into WoW doesn’t necessarily mean that we neglect Real Life Responsibilities. It’s rather the opposite – this is an escape, a pocket of air for people who are fighting to survive at all.

I’ve been reading Rick’s Place for a while, writing a comment now and then, and obviously it meant something. Wildwynd has initiated a new award, which he calls Positively Wonderful. Since he’s the one making it up from the beginning, he has also set up the rules:

“Link one blog that has had a positive influence on your life, blogging or game. Write what the positive effect was and hope it gets passed on."

He picked me for his award, and I can only say that I’m very, very proud, especially when I read his motivation. I really don’t know what to say, more than that I’ll keep this achievement close to my heart and do whatever I can to deserve it.

Now it’s time to pass this reward on to someone else. There are many blogs out there which means a lot to me. But there's one that has a special place in my heart:


I know this doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone. Because, as Gnomeaggedon put it:

There are two things you can be sure of in this life:
  • If Larisa has to tag someone, I will be on the list.
  • If I have to tag someone, then she will be on my list.

But expected or not, this needs to be said: Gnomeaggedon, you are by far the most persistent, loving, cheerful and caring supporter I have in the Blogosphere. From the first day you made your blog you gave the PPI a special “recommended link” spot. You constantly link to me whenever you can. In September you even wrote a special tribute post, highlightening some of my older posts, just to make sure that new readers didn’t miss them. You silly old gnome! I don’t really know what strange spell you're under, but to be honest, if it wasn’t for all the love you’ve gave me during the passed year, I’m not sure I’d still be blogging.

And apart from that you’re running a wonderful blog of your own. You show me and everyone else that it’s perfectly doable to have tons of fun in the game even if real life and time restrictions prevent you from raiding. It’s all up us how we choose to see the game – as a boring grind or as a wonderful, sparkling adventure. You manage to find the adventure and a humoristic perspective in places where no one else bothered to look. Your blog sparkles more than any quest item in Azeroth.

You are Positively Wonderful!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Twilight Vanquisher Larísa

My Moby Dick is dead.

I normally try to avoid gloating posts. They’re really not interesting to anyone but the blogger himself. But this one I’ll make an exception. Since I told you about my Sartharion obsession yesterday, I thought that I ought to tell you that it’s over now. Thursday night we killed Sartharion and his three companions, only after an hour of raiding. It was amazing, and I enjoyed it even more since I was actually alive and kicking when he fell.

This is a completely new situation for me. I’ve never ever been on the edge of the progression before, doing the hardest encounters in the game, at the proper gear level. Since I started to play the Wow pretty late, in February 2007, and didn’t discover raiding until after a while, I did Karazhan in the autumn 2007 and T4/T5 instances in the spring 2008, and I never had a chance to do Sunwell until it was too late. Now I’m on the edge, done with the content, waiting for Ulduar to arrive.

A long way
It’s hard for me to believe, to accept, that this actually happened. Sometimes I pinch myself, wondering: do I really deserve this? Am I really that good? Am I not just some hoax, someone who slipped into this accidently?

But I guess I’ve worked pretty hard for it, when I think about it.

I looked back in my blog and found a few posts that marked big steps in my personal progression. It has certainly been a long way. (Hm, how come that the signature from ST Enterprise is starting to play in my head?)

On February 7 last year I wrote about my first impressions of a 25 man raid. We were all winded up, like school kids on a summer vacation. It was chaotic, big and confusing. But obviously I liked it.

I even liked it so much that I moved to another server and another guild to be able to do some more 25 man raiding. On March 20 2008 I was still a quite shy, starry eyed and very easily impressed little gnome girl, taking her first stumbling steps in big party raiding. For the first time I took a glance at SSC and I all but fainted.

Quick jump to August 15 2008. I had decided to give myself a chance in a little more advanced guild. I entered Black Temple for the first time. The discipline and efficiency was impressing but also a bit scary, especially since I was on trial. I was all excited when I wrote this post about it.

Things worked out though and I was accepted. And with Adrenaline, I’ve been wiping and fighting my way, first through Mount Hyjal and Black Temple (we did all the way up to and including Mother Shahraz before the big nerf) and now through the content of WotLK.
A casual friendly game?
I didn’t win the mount, but who cares? I’ve reached a goal I’ve been fighting so hard for. I survived through void zones and fire walls and hopefully I even managed to do a little bit of damage. I’m so proud over my guild that I lack words for it.

I guess it’s a sign that WoW seriously is casual friendly, when an old lady like me, without any previous gaming experience, in two years time can progress through the game and ending up doing the most advanced things. Some players don’t like this development. They wish that people like me were kept out.

But I seriously don’t care.

Coming from where I am, this IS an achievement. My Moby Dick is dead and I couldn’t be happier.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Larísa fixates her eyes on Sartharion

Let’s put it straight.
Larísa is currently completely out of balance.
She’s not moderate.
She doesn’t keep a healthy distance.
She doesn’t laugh the defeats away, shrugging her shoulders, thinking “so what, it’s just a game”.
She is obsessed. Or should I rather say possessed.

The wrong moment
This hardly seems the appropriate moment to talk about it. You see, right now the WoW Blogosphere is all shaken up by the loss of BRK. His farewell letter has touched our hearts; the 944 comments (so far) speak for themselves. As a matter of fact I haven’t been able to come up with a proper commenting hommage post; I seriously can’t think of anything to add that hasn’t already been said.

I think many of us are looking ourselves in the mirror, wondering if we like BRK are on a road heading right into a wall that suddenly will appear in front of us. Maybe we too will come to the crossroads where we’ll have to choose. An easy choice – some people may say – since “real life comes first”. But for many of us it’s not just an easy, but also a painful choice. Yeah, it’s a game, but we’ve invested our hearts in it - we’ve got friends in Azeroth, friends in the Blogosphere, and to separate from friends hurts, no matter how good the reasons are.

We’re all in a bit of a shock and if you’re supposed to blog about anything these days it seems more natural to talk about how to manage the delicate WoW-RL balance, or possibly about how to fight the lethargy and boredom while you’re waiting for Ulduar.

One single thought
This is hardly the right time to talk about passion, obsession, not to say possession.

And yet I will do it. So troll me, shoot me, throw rotten tomatoes at me, call me a freak if you want. But I tell you: right now – when it comes to WoW related thoughts (I DO spend some time thinking about my job and my family:)) there is currently only room for one thought, one goal and one desire. And that is to kill Sartharion and his three helper dragons in a single fight.

Tuesday night was the last time I was there. We did some 20 + tries on him, and actually did real progress, if you compare it to our previous wipe nights (there have been several, I’ve honestly lost count.) Our best try lasted 17 minutes and got down all adds and Sartharion himself to 3 percent before it was a wipe due to the fact that there were too few players alive to properly deal with the enrage mechanism.

It’s doable. It’s within our reach. And yet we haven’t done it. When we finally called it night, it was reluctantly. I don’t think I was the only one who wished that you could turn back the watch and give us another couple of hours. It was 11.30 pm and I was mentally exhausted after spending 3 hours completely focused and on my toes, with only a five minutes break. To go to sleep in that state of mind was still impossible and I tried to cool down a bit, doing a quest on my rogue. But all I could see in front of me was fire walls and void zones.

Insane? Yes, definitely. But currently it feels as if I’m not going to enjoy anything else in the game at its full potential until I’ve got this done.

A personal vendetta
A couple of months ago, Bre of Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick asked us about our “unicorns”, pieces of loot that we had hunted for a long time, but had kept evading us. Sartharion + 3 dragons isn’t a unicorn in that sense – even though I’d really appreciate the mount, it’s not about the loot. This is rather a personal vendetta, as if I was chasing Alien, Jaws or Moby Dick.

Luckily enough I’m not the only one. We’ve been told that there won’t be any farm runs in Naxx or anywhere else until we’ve done this. It’s a decision I fully support.

When I log in tonight Larísa is already parked right outside the gates of OS, ready to spend another night and 150 g on repairs. But maybe it will be different this time. We could make it into a one-hour session, ending in a beautiful, triumphant screenshot.

My eyes are fixated on you, Big Bad Dragon! Run away little girl! Your days are counted and we will make this happen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do I really miss sheeping?

Larísa obviously isn’t the brightest of mages. I don’t know it’s because of her age or her hair cut, but it has taken her over two years to complete her mage training. But finally she’s got it, the crown jewel in the spell arsenal of the wizards:

Polymorph Turtle.

It dropped for me a little while ago in ZG on a run to get the achievement. I don’t know if it was to put an end to my begging or just to prevent me from starting a mage QQ session, but finally the party agreed to spend a few extra minutes in there, taking down the fish boss. And it certainly paid off. Finally I had got hold of that annoying, missing puzzle piece.

Will I use it?
After rejoicing for a couple of minutes the thought struck me: when will I ever use this spell? Will this turtle ever see the light? I don’t remember the last time I sheeped anything. I think I cast it a couple of time in UK while levelling up. That last huge pull before the first boss, yeah, I definitely made a pig there, as long as the tank wasn’t a pallie. But that was ages ago.

The sheep spell (reinforced by a wonderful focus macro, oh I remember the joy when I found out about the existence of it, it certainly revolutionized my game play) has always occupied the 8 button on my keyboard. It still does, in theory, but since I move around the spells a bit before a boss fight, throwing in specialties that may be needed for that very fight, I often find the sheep moved away to a godforsaken corner where it dwells with the other useless stuff such as Cold of Cone and the Warlock HS (the later never used since it shares CD with the mana gems).

Looking at my action bars I can’t help wondering: will I ever see a turtle of my own, apart from Speedy?

Some QQ:ing
My dear fellow blogger Gnomeaggedon has recently written a couple of posts on the issue. In the first post he recalled all the spells and skills we used to practice, nowadays ditched since all that is asked from us is aoe. It tastes like cardboard, was his conclusion. He also did a wonderful, ironic rant on the history of polymorph development. While other classes get buffs, mages get new versions of sheep. It resembles somewhat to the clam obsession and it makes you wonder: is this REALLY the most urgent changes that mages need? Especially considering that sheep aren’t required anymore?

It’s easy to QQ over the lack of utility of mages nowadays, especially considering that the hybrid classes have been buffed so much that their dps specs are at least on par with us. I’ve done a bit of QQ:ing myself, wondering about our future market value.

But as I got the new turtle spell I asked myself: if you forget about the sexiness of the mage class and think about the sheeping as such: do I really miss it that much? And I found out that the answer was yes – and no.

Having the extra task to keep a mob sheeped during a fight, to keep an eye on it and to stay in range to resheep it, added variation and sometimes a little bit of a challenge to a fight. You had to stay alert and wouldn’t fall a sleep due to the boredom of casting the same single nuke spell over and over again until nausea. And sometimes you really felt useful, that the fact that you kept one mob sheeped actually made a huge difference to the outcome of the fight. (Priestess Delrissa in Magisters Terrace as the most evident example, if you had the MS Warrior and didn’t have a sheep, it would be quite challenging).

The drawback of sheeping
On the other hand – being on sheep duty in a raid wasn’t always something you were looking forward to. It could gimp your damage output immensely, and even though everyone in theory knew that you had been performing other duties than dps, it still didn’t look nice in the charts. I don’t recall that the chain sheeping required for some pulls in SSC was something I particularly enjoyed, an assignment I was hoping for, on the contrary. (For readers who weren’t there, chain sheeping didn’t mean renewing the sheep spell once every minute, it meant constantly spamming the polymorph spell, since it would break within seconds.)

So: Yes, I miss sheeping a little bit, especially in five man instances. But I don’t miss it to the extent that I hope for a huge amount of chain sheeping in Ulduar. In my heart and my soul I’m a damage dealer rather than an amusing clown like character, pulling rabbits out of hats, turning humanoids into silly shapes.

And even the awesome look of the turtle can’t change that fact.