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Catching UP

 Many of you may have noticed that I took a good break from providing you with the ooey gooey Healadin content you love. Well unfortunately due to semi-serious life rearrangements I have had to take a break from WoW. I have thought about it a lot and I feel really conflicted.

I miss writing for you. It was so much fun to watch as my seedling grew up, nutured by the community. I miss the community, not just the friends that I had made during what was practically a career of WoW but also the folks who were nice enough to email me about the blog and chat through comments.

I used to joke that being a Guild Master was on  on my resume.  It’s not but wouldn’t it be nice if we could explain to folks who are unfamiliar with the game why we love it so much and what we get from the experience? There are those of us who eat, breath and sleep WoW. Heck I’ve even heard one of my guidlies theorycrafting in his sleep!

I am reluctant to say that this will be my last post so keep an eye out for the ocasional thought bubble popping up on the site.  I was really happy to see people still visiting, reading, and commenting on past work. Feel free to check in from time to time and drop me a comment and I will do my best to respond.

In the off chance that this is my final article I would like to offer one piece of advise that I am sure most of you take to heart. It’s life is short so live it the way you want, love the life you live. I feel that so many people try to fit themselves into a box with the tag “Normal Life” but that box is tiny and cramped. Never be ashamed or embarassed to let your freak flag fly.

 I am beginning to loathe the dungeon finder tool but not for the reason you’d think. It’s true that most of my recent experiences with it in Cata have been terribad.

I have encountered tanks who think we should be able to heal them through everything, tanks who think we don’t need cc, tanks who regularly break cc then don’t bother to pickup the breaks. I’ve butt heads with dps who go afk, dps who can’t target of target, and dps who get really mad when they die from standing in the poop.

But none of this really bothers me. Aside from the occasional ground slam, I am now at the point where I can heal through anything a pug group has to throw at me. I dislike the LFD tool for a totally different reason altogether.

Before the LFD tool, most of my time in-game was spent tanking. This was before I fell head over heals for holy. I collected healers like they were epic mounts. I had a continuously updated friends list full of healers from the server who I had run with and knew were reliable.

I used to be a go-to tank for a lot of healers as well. I would get whispers when I logged in because folks were just waiting to see a tank who was available to get in a quick daily. Random people would even offer me gold to tank for them. Of course I would never take it but it was nice to feel needed.

I don’t want to come off wrong here. I’m not hatin’ me some LFG because I don’t feel popular anymore. I’m rallying against it because it has removed the need to group up with players from my server community.

This constant need to find reliable players to pug heroics was the best reason for interacting with the community. Now with segregation between 10 man and 25 man raids and the LFD tool, the only players I regularly interact with are my guildies.

I miss  the days of LFGs and LFMs laced between the ongoing steam of verbal diarrhea that is Trade chat. I miss socializing with members of Bladefist while casually making our way through AN or UP; chatting about old guilds like 40 Man Failboat and infamous players like Blackball and Panobad.

Is this the case on most servers nowadays?  That there is little reason for venturing outside the social confides of your guild and meeting new people in a social game like WoW has become a chore? What sort of things are you doing to meet new people on your server?

Filling in the Gaps

Here is my Holy Paladin loot list for the 4.1 instances Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman. I am really excited about running these new and improved dungeons.

There is going to be random boss encounters in Zul’Gurub so you never know what you’re in for when it comes to this one. I imagine its sort of like the TOC 2nd boss encounter Eadric and Paletress. Except there is going to be a ton more bosses to choose from and an achievement, Gurubashi Headhunter for everyone who sees all of them. “Gotta catch ‘em all” to get this one.

There is also going to be a new daily questing hub which I’m thinking will have fun stuff we can win with points, or badges, or commendations like the Argent Tourney. I would love it if this trinket was a quest hub reward but it’s much more likely especially because there is a heroic version that we will not see it until 4.2 Firelands Raid. It may not be BIS but its definitely a fun little proc.

Ring

Soul Drain Signet

  • +180 Intellect
  • +114 Spirit
  • +270 Stamina
  • Item Level 353
  • Equip: Improves haste rating by 123.

Mace

Amani Scepter of Rites

  • One-Hand
  • Speed 2.60796 – 1478 Damage(437.3 damage per second)
  • +138 Intellect
  • +92 Spirit
  • +207 Stamina
  • Item Level 353
  • Equip: Increases spell power by 1848.Equip: Increases your mastery rating by 92.

Chest

Troll Skull Chestplate

  • +3366 Armor
  • +303 Intellect
  • +209 Spirit
  • +484 Stamina
  • Yellow Socket
  • Socket Bonus: +10 Intellect
  • Item Level 353
  • Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 201



Feet

Boots of Bad Mojo

  • 2314 Armor
  • +220 Intellect
  • +151 Spirit
  • +360 Stamina
  • Yellow Socket
  • Socket Bonus: +10 Intellect
  • Item Level 353
  • Equip: Improves haste rating by 146.



Headpiece

Plumed Medicine Helm

 

So where this new gear isn’t too exciting for many of us, it does afford raiders like myself, who are too stubborn to run daily heroics and earn extra valor points to fill in the ilvl 346s with 353s.

Also if anyone has the skinny on Amani Battle Bear leave a comment. Will this model look better than its predecessor?  Will it be easier to get?

Warcraft Gone Analogue

When I first mentioned on the blog a few weeks back that I was going to PAX East I got an email from a reader asking me if I played the Wow TCG and if I would recommend it.

Being that I am a nerd of epic proportions and that I have enjoyed other card games, I started wondering why I had never picked up the Wow TCG? I put on my thinking cap (my knitted Megaman thinking cap) and started brainstorming a possible article for newbies, who might be thinking about picking it up.

Having never played, I was completely in the dark about this game. So, I thought it might be cool to go straight to the source and bother them with questions until I fully understood what the game is all about. I emailed the folks over at Cryptozoic and they were nice enough to set up an appointment with me for Saturday morning, during PAX.

For players like myself who love Wow and know nothing about the TCG, the first thing you should know is that all you need to play this game is two people with class starter decks. Class started decks are preconstructed and come with varying cards but are still  balanced with each other. So if you just want to check it out, you don’t have to spend mad money just to see the game.

The second and most important thing you should take from this article is that most class decks have loot cards and some even have the über Spectral Tiger loot card, which is selling for over 500$ on eBay as I write this.

So , in spending ten dollars on a class starter deck and trying out the game with your buddy you have a chance at loot cards printed in past sets and possibly getting some really cool in-game bling.

My ears perked up when they said loot cards because that was almost the only thing I knew about the TCG before I started talking to them. It reminded me that I also knew that the game offered a raid deck set and that I had this on my list of things I wanted to know more about.  

When Cryptozoic took over the game they improved the raid deck sets with the release of Icecrown Citadel by making it a standalone set. Meaning, everything you need to play with three of your amigos in one box. This set offers four preconstructed decks where you play 3v1, the heroes of Azeroth vs the forces of the Lich King.

This wasn’t the only thing that Cryptozoic set their sights on improving. They hoped to buff the Wow TCG community, and have been largely successful. They now have twice as many events as well as better access to resources for retailers who want to run the events.

They have a forum where players can interact with community managers called Champions of the Black Flame, who have led live Q&A, much like the Wow forums. They also have a community blog with news about plans for development of the game, which is something most companies are reluctant to share ahead of time. Looking over their most recent Wow TCG article I get the impression that they are very open to community input.

I got to demo the game and thematically it works really well. I love the idea of being able to play the same class and spec I play in-game in deck form. Also I love, love, love the artwork. I am a huge fan of illustration and Warcraft fan art. I felt kinda bad that most of my demo I was distracted by pretty pictures but I blamed it on a sever lack of sleep as a result of PAX.

So the five million dollar question… Would I recommend this game to Wow players who have never tried it? I would recommend it for people who are either fanatical about Wow or to people who have played and liked other CCGs with the caveat that you should make sure you have someone to play with.

If you have a local game store they may be able to demo the game for you. Also they may have sealed deck tournaments which are going to be friendly to newbies with some sweet door prizes just for playing. If you’re starting to feel WoW burnout, this might be something fun to keep you busy while we wait for Firelands.

Chase The Chicken

Brought to you with lulz from Obsessive. Clearly we spent to many attempts on this boss and lost our minds when we finally downed the encouter. Happy PAX East for those of you that I may or may not see this weekend.

Last week my team downed both Cho’gall and Al’akir. We put a good many wipes into both these encounters and then we finally saw them fall over and go poof, respectively. At this point just under half my gear is ilvl 359. I don’t yet have the four set bonus but I will be desperately seeking it if they make the changes listed on the PTR patch notes. This change would make the spirit proc work off of HS instead of HR. Which seems to me to mean a whole lot more uptime.

All and all I am happy with our toolkit as healadins. I like that it keeps me busy juggling various Cds and that I do not have to spend the entire raid spamming one spell and keeping SS on the tank like in Wrath. We have a lot of heals and Cds to use when we run into trouble and most of the encounters require we use them.

Using HS and Judgement on Cd and taking advantage of procs is a huge part of our new playstyle. This, along with knowing when to use Cds to help spread around the love is what separates the goods from the bads.

As I stated in a previous post, I would like a Cd that reduces the damage to the entire raid to allow us to have a little more raid healing utility. Coupled with HR something like this would be OP.

I have seen a lot of QQ on the forum about our Mastery stat. Many people believe that it is not adding anything to our healing ability. At the same time I wonder how many of us have set up our gear to take advantage of this stat. Rendaelyne of Artifice on Shadowsong US is stacking Mastery like most of us are stacking Haste and says this about the stat,

“Yes, some shields are wasted as people aren’t hit right away (in turn a wasted stat to some people) but I bet I could hold my own against most holy palies with my gear. I am building a full on haste set to test some numbers out but it’s not 100% finished.”

I admire this players drive and tenacity to follow the road less traveled and to hold his own while blazing that path. The biggest complaint I see about mastery is that it does not work with our AoE heals or through Beacon. But our Mastery definitely works through LoD. By stacking Mastery you can basically increase the healing ability of LoD in AoE damage intensive moments.

I don’t see Mastery as a weak stat. I see Mastery becoming more useful in the next tier of raiding when our healing spells becoming even more powerful. We are not getting the full potential out of our healing Cds without stacking Mastery.

Here’s why, the bigger the heal, the bigger the shield. A big shield will not be overwritten by a small shield, instead a small heal will refresh a the shield as for the same amount of mitigation as the big heal. As long as you refresh the shield before it drops off then you will be able to continue getting IH from your beastly Cds long after they have fallen off.

Whoa, really Pork? Really? Yup really.

So before you get out on the forums and QQ all over mastery, do what Rendaelyne did and try it out. See how you like it and if it fits with your playstyle. Rendaelyne, my hats off to you for trying something different and finding success!

Videogames and Music

Music has always served to enhance our gaming experience. I look back on what I think are some of the best game franchise and strongly believe that so much of their grandeur comes from the soundtrack. I have played games with my own soundtrack. Game soundtracks carry with them the ability to take us back to the place and age where we became lost in-game worlds. It’s interesting to me to think about the way music and video games have evolved together.

Today many game production companies spend large amounts of time and resources creating soundtracks for their games. These companies sometimes release copies of soundtracks and even sheet music for purchase by the players. There are bands that range in genre whose music is inspired or derived from classic games. A bunch of these artists are going to be playing at PAX East next weekend.

I was checking out the bands and was disappointed to see that Anamanaguchi is not going to be back this year. If you have not heard of them, they are my favorite 8-bit band. They composed the complete soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim: The Game, the double dragon style brawler. Their music is created using a NES System so they have to keep multiple on stage in case one stops working. It was really cool meeting them at PAX and hanging out a bit last year.  Despite this minor setback, there are some acts I am stoked about.

PAX features two nights of nerdy gamer music fun. MC Frontalot, The VGO and Metroid Metal are going to be returning to the stage this year. I am stoked to see these acts back again. I can’t wait for The VGO to tip over their awesome repertoire of video game classics and see what comes pouring out. It’s going to be hard to top last years performance which featured tracks like Yoshi’s Island (Super Mario), Vampire Killer (Castlevania), FFVII Opening/Bombing Mission, and Snake Eater (Metal Gear Solid). You can check out some cool vids of these tracks over on the Youtubes.

I will welcome newcomer Jonathan Coulton to the stage here in Bean Town. JOCO wrote what is probably my favorite video game theme song, the song that marks the finale of a game near and dear to my heart. I would hope that everyone reading this has played through Portal and heard voice actress, Ellen McLain’s singing this insta-cult classic. In case you were wondering, the vid I posted is the coolest kids ever performing this song Still Alive. I haven’t heard anything about whether JOCO is going to try to follow this up in the sequel to Portal.

 Well, this all got me thinking. When will Blizz bring some acts like this to their Con? Would it be hard for them to live up to the spectacle and auditory prowess of former players like Ozzy and Tenacious D.  Could they fit an orchestra on stage to perform some of the tracks off Cata? I am hoping that Elite Tauren Chieftain will be making a return to the stage this year. I hate that I did not get a chance to see them do their thing. Who would you like to see come to Blizzcon? What are some or your favorite game tracks? I’d love to know.

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