Playing the Game with Your RL Friends

TL;DR DON’T DO IT!!!

I’ve played WoW with RL friends.  Hell, one of them got me to start playing WoW in the first place.  However… I can’t say that it ever worked out.  I’ve had relationships in-game turn into out-of-game, but the reverse doesn’t work for me.

Different In-Game Priorities

I’m a raider who likes to raid.  RAID RAID RAID.  My RL friends may not have the same style as me.  They may want to wander off and do achievements.  Ugh.  Yech.  And in order to play with them, which I want to do and, let’s be honest, feel obligated to do, I have to do what THEY want, or they have to do what I want.  And I don’t want to say “NO I HAET THAT” which leads to…

Don’t Want To Eff Up The RL Friendship

You can probably tell a guildmate (nicely) that he or she is doing something totally wrong.  You can bench a guildmate from raiding for performance issues.  You can have a lengthy disagreement with a guild officer about a guild policy.  You can’t do that with a RL friend without it being at least a little awkward.  And then your friend is glaring at you.  Or you keep it to yourself and feel a bit resentful that you have to deal with OMG THAT EFFIN NOOB all the time.  Or your friend yells at you to get out of the effin fire and you FUME about it.

Separate Realms

There’s something to be said for leaving RL frustrations behind when you turn on the computer, and leaving computer frustrations behind when you turn it OFF.  I can’t fully escape from work if I’m meeting my coworkers for happy hour all the time.

Game First Then Become Friends IRL

Now, I’ve found the reverse way (in-game friends first) works pretty well.  When you join a guild, you find like-minded people to hang out with.  They already have your priorities, isn’t that convenient (or you wouldn’t have joined THAT guild).  Maybe you hit it off for realsies, and maybe you don’t.  But in my experience, I’m far more likely to find someone in my guild that roughly aligns with my RL style and priorities than to discover that one of my RL friends plays the game – and plays it in a way very similar to me.

And now, you guys, I want to hear about your experiences with commingling RL and in-game friends and worlds.

On Mole Whacking

Guys… have you ever heard someone dismiss healing as “whack-a-mole?” Sure you have.  Did you strangle the person?  No?  Well you have enormous self-restraint, congrats.

It ain’t just whackin’ moles.  If healing were an ACTUAL whack-a-mole game it would be the hardest and most evil whack-a-mole ever.

Don't whack THIS mole. It's too cute.

Welcome to Healer Whack a Mole.

There are a few special moles.  If you miss a whack on one of them, game over.  (The worst part about these moles is that they are whiny.)

Some moles appear to be defective and need extra attention, even though they are not the special moles.  (These moles are also whiny!)

Sometimes, when you whack a mole, it doesn’t go away and you have to whack it again.  Harder.  With feeling.  You can use a Large Mallet for those sorts of moles… but if you use it for all the moles, you will exhaust yourself before the end of the game.

Sometimes all the moles pop up at once!  Fortunately, you have an Wide-Head Mallet to whack multiple moles at the same time, although using it too much will leave you exhausted before the end of the game.

In fact, you’re always switching mallets so you can hit ALL THE MOLES without wussing out before the end of the game.  God forbid you pick the wrong mallet!

Some asshole spilled a soda next to the mole machine.  You have to avoid it or you’ll slip and fall.  If you slip in soda, game over.  Sometimes when you’re tiptoeing around the soda, a mole will pop up and you won’t be able to reach it.

I swear, I think I just saw a mole poking up not even on the table!  How the fuck did it get over there where I can’t reach it?  And how the everlovin’ hell did it manage to slip in the soda?

It’s really nice to have friends help you to get all the moles.  But if you guys don’t come up with a strategy, you end up hitting each other’s moles, tangling mallets, moles start going un-whacked.  If you have a team that is good, it’s an awesome game.

In Which Gnoble Enters the Panda Fray

I’ve been largely absent from Azeroth and blogging for a while. This has been due to a combination of factors ranging from Twig’s resistance to bedtime, feeling let down by Blizzard on the difficult tuning and overnerfing of the Firelands, and not much to say otherwise. If you don’t have something to say, it probably it is best not speak. But with the announcement of the next expansion of World of Warcraft I have seen the community in general start acting dumb. They say write what you know, and I know about being dumb so here we go.

Faction: Panda Hater Crew

The first faction in the Panda war is the Panda Hate Crew. I have many friends who fall into the Panda Hate Crew. They view the Pandas as a joke, ruining the game for me, make it too comical. “I’m gonna leave over this Dreamworks knockoff!” Well good for you. It is nice to know what you want and what you don’t and be able to make those decisions. Best of luck!

Faction: Panda Lover Crew

These are the people who are absolutely and utterly stunned that the Panda Hater Crew exists. They are Pandas. I mean COME ON THEY ARE EFFING PANDAS! How can you not love these guys?!? They do martial arts and all those gorgeous Asian styled landscapes and architecture. This is gonna be so awesome. Well good for you. It is nice to know what you want and be able to look forward to it with the optimism which helps build community. Best of luck!

The Dumb Debate

If that was the extent of the divide it would be fine, but you idiots can’t leave well enough alone. See the Panda Hater Crew probably has their panties in a wad a bit too tight and are getting evangelical about it. You know that guy who graduated high school the year before you and bitched about how much high school sucked, but stuck around for another year still bitching? Yeah, don’t be that guy. Take the time you had with WoW pack it into a memory scrapbook of screenshots, probably write your farewell letter and put it all in a virtual shoebox in the back of your closet. Five years from now you are gonna open it up and be in a nostalgia overdose. You will forget every crappy thing about the game you ever had to deal with, and it will be great.

And Panda Lovers you are not off  the hook either. You guys are idiots because in the rally about how the Panda Haters are dividing the community thus ruining the game, you are in turn dividing the community and doing damage to the game. Everyone plays for different things. You have to be willing to let your friends make their choices about it and walk away if they want to see another game, or just want to sit this expansion out.  But if you get on your high horse and berate people for having a different opinion than yours you force the issue and make them less likely to calm down and rethink it and maybe be Panda Neutral.

The Real Answer

Gnomes. Seriously. Gnomes have always been the answer. You didn’t hear me complain about Goblins, Humans, Tauren, Forsaken, Orcs, Trolls, Draenei, Elves (Blood or Night variety), or Worgen. And you won’t hear me complain about Pandas. Why? Because I know that not everyone gets it, and I’m okay with that. And if I get worked up to the point that a race addition to the game makes me hate the game or hate people who hate that race, then I’ve taken it too seriously and need to quit the game for my own sanity. Like the game or don’t. Play the game or don’t. But arguing over whether this is a betrayal of what WoW is, comes off as ridiculous.  If you want to know what a betrayal of a game is like go talk to an SWG vet about the NGE.

Discontent is Contagious. So is Enthusiasm.

You know when you get to school/work and OMG you are wearing the SAME THING as your friend?  How. Embarrassing.  That’s kind of how I felt when Alas, Morehnai, and I all posted on the same day about discontent, disappointment, malaise, and burnout in this latest patch.  We didn’t plan it.  It was just “going around.”

A few weeks later, we had positive thinking going around.  We had some unfortunate drama, people left the guild, and suddenly the guild was revitalized – bouncing back from a potentially disastrous situation with a stubborn determination and dedication to our guild.  WE WILL BE AWESOME, DAMMIT, DESPITE ADVERSITY!

Wednesday night, we had NOTHING planned, yet a bunch of us were in guild chat making horribly inappropriate remarks about pedo-tree.  It was the most fun I’ve had on a not-raid night in a long time.  And the thing was… fun begets fun.  Socialization begets socialization.  On another night, I might have logged in, seen nobody online, done a few herbing laps, gotten bored, and logged off.  But people WERE online and having fun… which made ME stay online… and THEY probably stayed online longer than they normally would… and subsequent loggers-on saw ALL OF US having fun and THEY stayed around too.

Rinse, repeat on Thursday Night.  This time, we were in vent and I discovered that I was TOTALLY SPECCED WRONG in cat form.  Ok, not totally wrong, but let’s just say that EJ sometimes has a tenuous grasp on the reality of non-elite playing.  Twig made some cute comments into vent (dammit, she needs to SLEEP).  We did some SRS BZNS orb farming for guildie boots.

So, this feels so “back to normal”, though I can say that we probably haven’t been this “normal” since the disastrous Patch 4.2 hit.  It’s nice.  Gnoble says I’m getting my WoW second wind.  Hell, I think we all are.

Well… were getting our wow second wind.  Then, Friday, we heard about the fucking pandas.  A bunch of people are probably going to quit because of it.  Not now, but our guild definitely has a shelf-life ending at the next expansion.  And possibly sooner, after we kick the next patch’s ass.  Depressing, right?

But screw it.  Live for today, right? Tonight is RAID NIGHT.  I’m getting pumped watching Francis.  It will be spectacularly awesome.

Twig’s Reactions to Blizzcon

Hi everyone.  Twig here (your favorite 3-year-old).  I thought I’d give you my in-depth analysis of Blizzcon news about Wow.  Mom’s analysis would be lame and cursory.

Panda!!!

Guys, I’m so excited, they’re making my favorite movies (Kung Fu Panda, of course) into a video game!

Racial Bonuses

Shall we look at the Panda racials?

Bouncy: reduces fall damage by half.

Po can definitely bounce.  Not only does he fall down the stairs, multiple times, but his belly makes that “BOING” sound whenever anyone hits it.

Inner peace: double rested XP.

This was one of my favorite parts of the movie!  That rat, I mean “Red Panda”, finding inner peace.

Gourmond: +15 to cooking.

Papa Goose was a noodle chef.  Looks like the panda doesn’t fall far from the tiny goose tree.

Epicurean: double stats to food buffs.

Do I really need to tell you how much Po loves to EAT?

Quaking Palm (from the live stream): Puts a target to sleep for three seconds.

Ok, so in the movie the “special hold” actually obliterates all the things, but let’s not nitpick.  It ain’t the Vulcan Neck Pinch.

Go watch the movie.  Slackers.  Or you’ll be totally unprepared for this expansion

Pandas Can Be Good Or Evil

This is a stinky lie.  There is no such thing as an evil panda.  If you choose Horde, you should automatically transform into a leopard or peacock or other suitably evil race.

Monk

OMG!  Panda has a stick just like Po in the freakin movie!  And in the action figure.

I guess other people can have sticks too.  Where’s the monkey or tiger race?

6 Talent Points

Score!  I can totally count to 6!

Granted, I, being awesome and all, can count to 20, but the rest of them (who are clearly not as awesome as I am) can at least get to 6.  Yay for Blizzard making the game accessible to the average preschooler!

A New Continent

This is totally plausible, guys, that there’s a continent that we never discovered before.  Hell, I just noticed that we have a hot tub in the back yard and I’ve lived here, like, since I was crawling.  Let’s cut them some slack for not stumbling over this continent until now.

Minipets Can Battle

OH. My dreams have been answered.  Ima gonna get mah core hound and roast you guys with fire (Gramma Murloc says not to stand in it).  Mom also says that pokemon cards are too pricey, but we’re already paying for a Wow subscription.  This is what Dad calls “revenue neutral.”

It won’t be revenue neutral when I buy this little bugger from the Blizzard Store.  Eat my Lightning!

Year Long Paid-Up-Front Subscription = Free Stuff

You buy a 12-month pass and you get a mount, Diablo 3, and a beta invite.  Now, being that this is the ONLY way a 3-year-old is going to get into a beta, I heartily support this plan.  My feedback on bugs and features will be legendary.

This is what Dad calls “bundled goods and services encouraging overconsumption.”  Then Mom did an eyeroll like she does when he talks about “the deficit.”

Challenge Mode Dungeons

Mom was muttering something about “more gogogogo stupid DPS”.  Even I know that there is no such word as “gogogogo”.  When it’s time to slow down, do you say “stopstopstopstop” because that’s the opposite of “gogogogo”?  You grown-ups are confusing.

PvE Scenarios

No tank?  No healer?  No problem!  Which is good because nobody except Mom wants to play a healer.  I worry about her sanity.

Final Analysis

Is this expansion going to be awesome or what?! (Mom says “or what.” Mom is also babbling something about Republicans of the Old Space Wars, or something of that nature.)

Holy Priest Mastery Versus Haste (Fortunately, No Math)

I’ve been displeased with my thoroughput lately.  Well, I know, Holy Priests need a buff, and we will, but still… need more.  Plus, for the first time this expansion, my mana is under control.  Probably because things have been nerfed to high hell.

On Friday, I raided with my mastery-heavy build with only the 12.5% haste, buffed.  This turned out to be quite painful because for the first time in a long time we did not have the 5% haste buff.  The. Horror.  (Which is what prompted me to try a haste-heavy build.)

On Saturday, I reforged all the things and raided with a haste-heavy build.  My goal was to be able to hit the 12.5% mark unbuffed, but I was just shy of that.

I’m comparing logs for Beth (Friday) and Majordomo Jerkface (Saturday) because I did a similar total amount of healing and both of them have similar AOE HEAL ALL THE THINGS phases.

Friday (Mastery build). Echo of Light was 13.1% of my healing and 30.8% overheal.

Saturday (Haste build). Echo of Light was 11.9% of my healing and 30.3% overheal.

What does this mean?  It’s not conclusive that haste is better than mastery by any stretch.  However, the shift from mastery to haste did not harm my performance.  I’ve since swapped in a couple of haste-heavy sidegrades I had sitting in the bank, and we shall see how it goes next week with an even-m0re-haste set.

But HOLD ON THERE, you say.  This is post-nerf.  Generally speaking, at the start of an expansion, when things are extremely difficult and nobody is geared yet, holy mastery is less overheal because people are generally at lower health and benefit from more ticks of the Echo of Light HoT before being “topped off.”  Or they are never topped off because the healers are struggling.

A fair point.  The furthest back the logs go is August 26, well before the nerf.  For Beth’tilac on that date, Echo of Light was 12.2% of my healing.  And overheal was 32%.  Just because we were earlier in the expansion AND the fight went on longer (so more healing was needed at the end) did not affect the overheal of mastery.

Now, don’t go running off to reforge all the things to haste just because MY logs are supporting the change.  You need to look at your own logs.  It’s quite possible that Echo of Light won’t be that much overheal for a different team that has a different healing style.  We tend to be a nervous bunch and try to keep people close to topped off.  We also don’t do hard modes.  And, we have a druid hotting all the things.  Any of these factors can change how effective your Echo of Light is.

Using Jaws of Defeat Trinket and Other Cooldowns to Burst Heal All The Things

This is the part where I brag about getting the Jaws of Defeat.  Note that it is an on-use trinket, as follows:

Use: Your next 10 spells cast within 20 sec will reduce the cost of your holy and nature spells by 110, stacking up to 10 times. (2 Min Cooldown)

Ok… in order to get the most out of this trinket, you want to cast 10 spells in the next 20 seconds.  This might be hard to pull off if you’re not spamming your 1.5 second heal or casting instants on the GCD.

For the Discipline Priest

Power Infusion.

Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%.  Lasts 15 sec. (2 min cooldown)

So… a haste buff so I can squeeze more spells into the 20 second window?  Yes please!  Also, note that both spells have the same 2 minute cooldown (and a close duration).  It’s quite easy to macro those suckers together.

For the Alchemist

Lifeblood

Uses your skill in Herbalism to absorb energy and nutrients from the earth, instantly healing minor wounds and granting 480 haste rating for 20 sec. (2 min cooldown).

This is basically the same reasoning behind macroing with power infusion.  A haste boost allows you to cast more spells, ideally hitting 10 within 20 seconds.  The cooldowns also line up with both being 2 minutes.

For the Resto Druid

Tree Of Life

Shapeshift into the tree of life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120%. Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects. In addition, some of your spells are temporarily enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 25 sec. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Wrath.  (3 min cooldown)

Now, when you hit Tree of Life, you’re spamming all the things.  Lifebloom multiple targets, instant regrowth, etc.  What’s not to like about a reduced mana cost for the spam-frenzy?  Now, the cooldowns don’t quite line up, but it might be worth delaying triggering the Jaws until you trigger Tree of Life.

Holy Priest: They Like Us, They Really Like Us

Oh hay, there’s a change to the 4.3 patch notes.  For priests.  And both items pertain to Holy Priests:

Guardian Spirit’s healing bonus has been increased to 60%, up from 40%.

I felt like the BEST use of this spell is when a tank is plummeting to death, and you just hit it, wait for it to proc, THEN heal.  Now, it seems more robust.  I noticed that similar heal-enhancing abilities were not increased in this same patch (i.e. Vampiric Blood).

Holy Word: Serenity now has a cooldown of 10 seconds, down from 15 seconds.

10 sec cooldown is appropriate.  This brings it in line with Penance (glyphed), disc’s main single-target heal-bomb.  Suck it, bubbleslingers.

Transmogrification And Dressing Your Gnome

Woot!  Transmogrification!  Awesome.

I’m excited!  Remember how when you got a new piece of gear, you could not WAIT to see how it would look?  Sometimes it was awesome.  Sometimes it was not (remember the Outlands clown suits?).  But it was usually different.

I set forth to find the coolest gear evar, at which point I remembered that my priest is a gnome, and the gear must look good… on a gnome.  This is a very difficult proposition.  There are a lot of perfectly nice outfits that look ridiculous on a gnome.  So here are the criteria for transmogrifying a fantastic outfit.

  • Less skin.  No low necklines, belly cutouts, leg cutouts, low back, or, god forbid, side-of-boob showing.  Sometimes a shirt can fix this.  Sometimes not.
  • No vests.  Robes ONLY.  Please, do not make me look at teeny gnome legs.
  • Less ornamentation.  On a tiny gnome, very ornate or intricate designs just get lost and end up looking… well, silly.
  • Smaller is better.  Huge shoulders look ridiculous.  Big hats look like a bobble-head.

With that in mind, I hit the wow model viewer.  As might be expected, the robes that were modest and solid-colored were primarily the low level ones.  Which suits me just fine, since I don’t want to look like everyone else.

The Aurora Set. Very cute. I might put a shirt under it for the low neckline.

I’m going to be lazy and send you to the World of Wardrobes Aurora Set page to find out where to get these items.  They have the links to all the pieces of the set AND pictures of how it’s going to look on YOUR toon.

(At this point I was thinking “I know!  I’ll post something revealing that looks hideous on a gnome!”  Except… trust me, you don’t want to see it.  It looks like a toddler who just raided mom’s lingerie drawer.  Like those damn halloween costumes for little girls that are getting skimpier every year, don’t even get me started.)

Now, because I’m a dork, I’m creating a SILLY set.

We're going to pretend that my hair doesn't clip in the wow model viewer.

This outfit is pretty easy to get (on the AH).  All BOE Greens, no farming required:

I know that many people are hitting up the “super awesome” tier gear.  Anyone out there like me who has a transmogrification plan that is off the beaten path?

From Casual to Casual-er

I’ve been playing EVEN LESS lately than usual.  Hey, George R. R. Martin isn’t going to read himself, nor is Dr. Who going to watch itself.  However, I had already cut out “nonessential” activities to accommodate my casual gaming.

Shit I Didn’t Do Before

  • Dailies
  • Cap VP
  • Holiday Events
  • Achievements
  • “Fun Runs”
  • Collecting of Mounts/Pets/Etc

That’s a lot of stuff that is quite time-consuming, if I do say so myself.  But wait, I cut out even moar.

Shit That I Don’t Do Now

  • Get any VP outside a raid 1
  • Gather and Craft 2
  • Get Online Just to Blather with People3
  • Auction House
  • Alts At All (not that I spent much time on them before)

Now, this is not a sustainable model, by any stretch.  When the next patch comes along, I’m going to have to step it up.  But, for now, I can maintain this holding pattern and still manage to raid.  I should point out:

Shit That I Still Must Do

  • Don’t Flake on Gear Upgrades.  This means:
    • keeping track of rep as it accumulates so I don’t miss an upgrade by weeks cause I wasn’t paying attention
    • remembering (with spreadsheet) which drops are good and which are not. 4
    • get VP gear as the VP comes in.5
  • Enchant and Gem all New Gear
  • Reforge ALL THE THINGS when new gear comes along.  Hey, can’t be a slacker and eff up my 12.5% haste.6
  • Make sure to have consumables for raid time
  • Read the logs after the fact
  • Read strats/watch videos
  • Keep Addons Updated
  • Remember to sign up (it’s easy to forget if you’re not in game much)

That’s still a decent amount of work, even if most of the tasks are only necessary when I get new gear, which happens almost never.7

  1. It helps that I get near cap post-nerf just by raiding.  It also helps that I just got my last desired VP piece this week.
  2. Except the occasional herb run through Vash.  I find it relaxing.
  3. It helps that Team Heal is on GChat.
  4. So you don’t *COUGH* bid on the wrong damn staff and have to trade it 2 minutes later and redo all the gear lists…
  5. I may have finished the VP grind for my main spec, but there’s always the shadow set. Unspent VP does nobody any good.
  6. Reforge Lite is one-click awesomeness.
  7. I went a little footnote-wild in this article, I know.