Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things are Shiny

I had to wait a couple of days to start Cataclysm, so this marks MY FIRST WEEK in the new expansion. Of course, I'm having an absolute blast. With this also being the end of the semester - also the end of school, period, for awhile - I can drag the fiance back into Azeroth with me. He's not quite as excited as I am, but that doesn't mean we haven't had tons of fun.

This post is broken up into sections, mostly for my own wandering train of thought.

-Mara and Sen are Coming Down the Mountain
-Aioka is Sinking into Vashj'ir
-Under Construction
-Blog Woes
-A. D. Temple's Azeroth

-Mara and Sen are Coming Down the Mountain

My fiance plays an Arcane Mage, Senach. I like to say its proof that Mages and Warlocks can get along... sometimes. Leveling as two casters might sound like a goofy, inefficient idea but we've had 80 (now 82) levels of practice.

I level almost exclusively as Demonology. So we have Flaag, my mighty felguard, to do some tanking if we run into trouble. Sen cranks out the big numbers so things die quickly. I supply the slow damage for adds or extra mobs and the healing for the tank.

Occasionally, if we come up against a "Kill X number of mobs", we'll split up and each tackle half the group separately. Usually, though, we prefer to kill things and experience the quests together.

However, that didn't stop Sen from continuing on while Mara played with some new friends:

Sooooo Cute!

What have they been feeding you?

He does tricks!

I am NOT rubbing that belly!

We did catch up shortly after that to check this place out:

-Aioka is Sinking into Vashj'ir

Meanwhile, Aioka was leveling through the aquarium underwater world of Vashj'ir. In some ways, its a complete nightmare. Full 3D environments and I don't always mix well. Occasionally, when something is attacking me from afar I just have to sit and eat the first bolts of damage just to see where they are coming from.

On the other hand, I think the storyline in Vashj'ir is better than Mount Hyjal. It has great continuity through each of the three sections of Vashj'ir, its deeply engaging, and it actually creates a world where you care about the NPCs around you.

The most common complaint about Vashj'ir that I've heard is that there are too many gathering quests. I can understand the frustration. Having Aioka out on her own means I don't have to share gathering quests with anyone else. And the only one that I found was truly terrible was Fish Lure.

My biggest complaint about Vashj'ir is that, if you're strictly following the storyline, you won't hit the Throne of Tides until the very end. It's extremely impactful that way, but a little less on exposure to the new dungeons.

My first group in the Throne of Tides was worth the wait. Our tank was level 80 and extremely squishy, but the druid healer was on the ball. Most of the time. I went in as a DPS and I am actually more scared now to try healing that I was before. I ran out of mana faster than the healer did. Very frightening. But my Hymn of Hope saw some use. I used my bubble when I thought it might be useful. And I used bandages and health potions on myself to ease the healer's mind.

Didn't stop the squishy tank from dying a lot. But between me, a hunter, and a shaman we were able to bounce aggro around enough to keep all of from eating big damage and the healer kept us alive long enough to kill things.

On trash, its kind of insignificant.

On a boss, its a trip and a half. On one boss, the tank went down at 70%. We dps bounced it around until 4%. Our totally awesome druid healer took it down the rest of the way. It was amazing. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it.

-Under Construction

Some of you might have noticed that this is OP's second major make-over this year. Memento's guild site is under similar construction. We've been trying to get things shaped up for the new expansion. Not that we're anywhere near raiding, yet, but I've think we've got several things to decide on and hammer out before we're ready to tackle anything.

Memento essentially floundered its way through Wrath. Never having a complete 10-man group it was difficult (at best) to accomplish things. For some reason or another, none of our recruits really hung around very long and I think this is something the guild needs to discuss. Being as small as we are, I think we can arrange an all-guild meeting to discuss where we want to go and what we want to be doing.

Additionally, with most of our members in college, it's difficult to determine a night and time where everyone is available. I'm trying to find out at the moment how many nights a week everyone is interested in raiding. It seems obvious to be that our once-a-week attempts at ICC were fairly ineffective. Now, however, several of members have graduated and have their evenings free. Hopefully, we can find more than one night that fits into everyone's schedule.

Memento's distribution of responsibilities is almost nonexistent. Our GM is mostly hands off and everything goes through the Council. As a single body, the Council is expected to accomplish or delegate anything that needs to be done. However, Council members are pretty lax in both identifying things that need to be accomplished and... accomplishing them.

I took it upon myself (maybe rightly, maybe wrongly) to make changes to the Guild Website. Frankly, I think it looked terrible and the forum system is a bit unwieldy (my fault, since I designed it the first time) and Ann and I were just generally dissatisfied with it.

As far as that goes, Ann and I weren't totally sure we'd be sticking with wowstead. If you have a suggestion for a new/different/better guild website provider I would be delighted to hear it.

-Blog Woes

Closer to home, we have the updates here. I think that my dissatisfaction with how my blog looks has a lot to do with my... not knowing what I want to do with it. OP started with a specific purpose - to talk about how I, being level capped for the first time, was handling the multi-faceted beast that is raiding. That was almost a year ago.

Now, I can talk about being level capped for the second time. I could talk about my happy-meal-sized guild and how it handles the transition from Wrath raiding to Cataclysm raiding. I can talk about having a priest as my primary raider. I can talk about Marariel and her adventures in solo'ing/duo'ing content.

I could branch out some with some projects. I could level some tanks and/or some more healers and see where that takes me. I could include some story/fanfiction elements.

My demonology guide was well received. I could scour the internet resources and put together a few more.

What would you like to see?

-A. D. Temple's Azeroth

My first project that I would like to introduce is called A. D. Temple's Azeroth. A. D. Temple is a renown historian from the story I occasionally get to work on. He travels the world investigating historical sites, writes books about the ancient gods and goddesses, and provides assistance to a particular team of cartographers, mostly just for fun.

What I'd like to do is a profile of each zone in Azeroth. I plan to talk about its history, its recent changes (omg, cataclysm), its settlements and people. I have no idea if other people will find this interesting or not. At the least it will be interesting for me and I hope to learn a lot about the world we all (virtually) live in.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

At the End of an Era

If I were starting a wow account for the first time, with all the information I know now, I wonder if I would have picked the same class/race combination to start with.

This thought strikes me from time to time. On the whole, I think the answer is no. As much as I enjoy playing my warlock, it's not what I would now recommend for my younger self if I could step back in time and advise myself on what my first character should be. I would have told my younger self, "Listen. You're going to have a lot of alts. A lot, a lot of alts. And what you will learn to call altoholism, is really just another way for you to say 'sometimes I get bored'. Save yourself some grief and start with a hybrid class." Regardless of the fact that my younger self would not have understood much of that.

This is not to say that there is no value in altoholism. My discovery of hybrid classes has not made me any less likely to create new characters (of both the hybrid and the pure variety). I would like to acknowledge that my use of the word 'altoholism' - sometimes I get bored - may not be the same as another usage or even the generally accepted use of the term. Perhaps it is simply that my use of the term 'altoholism' is lacking in definition.

It would also have been nice for someone to discuss with younger-me the Tank-Healer-DPS triangle. I doubt very much that I would have found the idea of a tank very appealing. But I might have thought that picking a class that could dps and heal would be beneficial. Having the option to switch later if I didn't enjoy my current role should have been a powerful motivator in picking a class.

Why wasn't it?

As much as these thoughts occasionally plague me, I would not actually trade my warlock or my first leveling experience for anything else. If I were given the option to do it all over again (three years ago, of course) I wouldn't take it. I learned and leveled at the pace that I learned and leveled at and that's all it is.

It does, however, generate some other interesting questions.

Does caster dps feel natural to me because my first character was a caster? Or was my first character a caster because caster dps feels natural to me?

I've always favored the mage stereotype in video games. Disciples, Lords of Magic, Final Fantasy... whatever it was, if I played it I played a caster. It wasn't uncommon for me to dabble in the dark side even then. My first character that I ever played in a tabletop RPG was a "Dark Cleric". I'm not sure such a thing even existed at the time, but my DM assisted me in putting a "dark" twist on each of my spells. Grant Life became Steal Life, Cure Poison became Poison, you get the idea.

So, perhaps a warlock was not such an impetuous choice for a first character after all.

Which makes my decisions for Cataclysm that much more difficult.

I'm extremely proud of what I've accomplished with my warlock this expansion. Marariel killed the Lich King. The dungeons I wasn't able to see while leveling - namely everything but Scholomance, Hellfire Ramparts, and the Northrend Dungeons - Marariel solo'ed. It may have been out of order timewise, but after hitting 80 Marariel visisted Karazhan, the Black Temple, and Magtheridon's Lair. Marariel befriended the Netherwing dragonflight. Marariel became an Ambassador of the Alliance.

In many ways, Marariel will always be my main.

But in a week's time, it won't be Marariel powering through the levels to 85. It won't be Marariel racing through the dungeons and quests to start the next gearing race. It won't be Marariel farming loot, experience, and reputation to get ready for raiding all over again.

Marariel will be taking it slow. Exploring a shattered world takes time. The fact that Marariel leveled and learned slowly in the beginning is not something to look back on with regret, but rather a learning experience for the future. Everything I learned about warlocks in that way I learned by doing. Not by reading the forums, Elitist Jerks, or any other guide. I'm looking forward to getting that experience back.

As for rushing towards the level cap, the heroic dungeons, and the shiny new raids - there's an alt for that. Aioka will be running the race - questing as shadow and queueing as discipline - to, hopefully, be in place as a healer whenever Memento is ready to start raiding again.

I know a lot of people are switching their mains for Cataclysm. I am... reluctant to call it that. Warlockery is near and dear to my heart and being a Shadow Priest is not always comparable. However, as I evaluate my experiences I am starting to recognize that flexibility in raiding is important to me. I want that.

Cataclysm is here. Whatever it is that you want, pursue it with everything you have.

Good luck.

I'll see you on the other side.