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I’ve been not around for a while, in the blog world or really, in game either. At first it was just a matter of timing. Right around when the expansion launched, I got super busy with work, and didn’t have a day off for about four weeks. When that finally died down, I had some time to level my main, hit 90, and deal with the immediate overwhelming nature of rep grinds, dailies, and trying to gear up. I was still making a go of it, despite rising frustration with the way things were designed because in general, I really do love Mists.

But you see, then I got completely derailed again. And since images really do usually speak louder than words, I thought I’d just show why:

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The ocean is more or less my front yard. I live a block off the beach in a barrier island town that was right in the path of Hurricane Sandy. This is a picture that I took on the morning of the storm, about twelve hours before it actually made landfall.

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You can see here just how close the water already was to reaching the dunes. The dunes are there to protect the town from storm surges, and slow the water from barreling into the streets and homes of the people who live here. Incidentally, the dunes you see there are completely gone now.

My town was among one of the hardest hit by the storm and my area of New York was crippled by it. Living on a barrier island, we couldn’t be surprised that our town didn’t have power, water, or sewage for nearly a month. But it wasn’t just us. It was everywhere. And despite evacuating my town, which was completely unlivable, we were still living without power for quite some time, staying with family, and generally feeling uncomfortable.

Needless to say, I wasn’t playing a whole lot of WoW.

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Those boards you see are the boardwalk, swept up and away as far as the bayside of the island.

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The streets were covered in about a foot of sand in some places and nearly every car in the town was totaled.

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That boat…totally doesn’t belong there.

Anyway, it was a very stressful experience. And once power did start to come back on, I tried playing WoW again, as it’s always been my escape and stress relief. To my dismay, I found the game wasn’t doing much to calm me down. Dailies were stressing me out, and with a crappy internet connection and only my aging laptop to play on, along with no desk and no privacy, doing randoms wasn’t really that appealing either. Even reading through WoW sites started to upset me, as I realized just how far I was falling behind on gearing and, more annoyingly, getting irritated with people themselves. The final straw for me was when Blizz announced that proceeds from the Fire Kitten would go to benefit the Red Cross and Sandy victims. While most people applauded the move, there were of course those people bitched and got into flame wars about it. While also reading about coworkers who had lost everything and reading emails from my insurance company about how to go through the claims process on a totalled car (something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, btw) I decided I’d had about enough stress, real life or imaginary, and took a break.

Life is much better for me now, of course. We’re back home and I have a new shiny car and my town is slowly starting to rebuild. The Red Cross and National Guard have gone home as well, and things feel normal again. Plus, we were extremely lucky. The only thing we lost was my car, where others around us had their entire homes destroyed.  And so I’ve been trying to get back into playing WoW, though I have to admit it’s more difficult than I would have thought. I’m no longer the  know-it-all in /g telling people whatever information they need to know.

In fact, I honestly have no clue what’s going on in the game right now. I kind of feel like a newb. My main is completely undergeared, I haven’t run the majority of the instances, I have not yet caught all the battle pets, and I have no clue what’s going on in patch 5.1. I can’t tell you how bizarre it is to be the one asking questions! But it’s nice to have Azeroth to go to now that I’ve calmed down again, and there’s something very comforting about flying over Pandaria and seeing the beautiful landscapes Blizzard has made.

And, as it often does, the game has reminded me of just how much I do love my friends. They’ve helped me out with gearing, presenting me with crafted items to help me along. It’s a very overdue public thanks to them, but to Saph, Bim, Xall, and Tor, all I can say is thanks. And to Coups too, for keeping me company on a day when WoW was not where I wanted to be and hanging out with me in GW2 all day. I love you guys so much, and you’re the reason I keep logging into the game.

Anyway, that’s enough depressing stuff from me. I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time, and I guess I finally feel ready to get back to things now. And one of the  nice things about taking a break from the game is that I had lots of time to write, and I have some fun stuff that I might want to share here at some point. I tried my hand at writing a Pandarian fairy tale and provided I’m ever happy with it, I’ll definitely be sharing it here!

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So the other day, I was mindlessly leveling through Zangarmarsh on my hunter while listening to a podcast about writing. No one from my guild was online, and I was still half asleep from having stayed up way too late the night before pvping. I was about to go turn in a mess of quests when a message window popped up. I read the message first, then the name, then blinked.

Navimi? That couldn’t possibily be like…Navimie, could it? Not Navimie from The Daily Frostwolf. Why on earth would she be visiting me?

As it turned out, it was that Navimie. And for reasons that I still can’t understand, she was visiting me. I was being Navispammed!

I quickly switched over to my druid and took her to my favorite zone, Storm Peaks. It’s long been one of my favorite places in the game, mostly because I love mountains and the music there is amazing. Plus I know from past experience that the light there is good for taking screenshots. We started chatting and I’m sure I sounded completely ridiculous because I was quite starstruck. Navimie! Visiting me! And there were no guildies on for me to squeeee about it to.

We talked a bit about RP, which is always kind of strange for me. I often times don’t know how people will react to RP people and if they believe the stereotypes, like that we don’t know how to play the game or that we’re just interested in eRP or that we’re weirdos with no life outside of our fantasy world, but Navi seemed very cool and curious about it. I was all flustered, so I’m sure I wasn’t making sense, but it was fun to talk about all the same. I seem to remember that one of the reasons I started blogging was to be a good representative for the RP community, so this was very nice for me.

I probably should have summoned her on Koralie as well, since my pally has more fun toys than Fayasha does, but it didn’t even occur to me until after she had logged. But all the same, it was such a nice thing, and it actually totally made my day.

Thank you Navimie! I’m so glad I got to meet you “in person.” :)

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Contrary to popular belief, this is actually true. 90% of the time (made up percentage) it’s easier to be respectful than to be a dick. This goes for real life and WoW life, professional life and personal life, and everything in between.

I work retail. I haven’t always worked retail, but the economy being what it is, it’s very difficult to get a job in the creative fields. So retail works for now, and it lets me do something I really enjoy, which is study human interactions.

And let me tell you something. Those interactions? A lot of the time they make me sick. It’s hard to say where I’ve seen people be treated worse, in the retail environment or in a PUG raid. I’m going to say PUG, but only just. It’s amazing the sort of things that people say to those lowly retail employees that they’re buying things from despite knowing nothing about them. I’ve had coworkers who are smart as hell be called stupid for no good reason. One of my coworkers had a woman tell him that he was useless and should be her landscaper (said coworker is Latino).  I’ve had to give hugs to crying coworkers after they’ve been cursed out by some person they don’t even know because that person didn’t get their way. It’s depressing.

And the worst of that is, it has a cause and effect. When you ruin someone’s day, chances are, they’re going to ruin someone’s day in return. Plenty of the arguments that my husband and I have are not, in fact, about the dishes, but about the fact that he had a shitty day of work because someone he didn’t even know  acted like a dick to him at work. Is it fair? No. Should people be able to rise above that? Of course. But the point is, negativity breeds negativity, and it’s awfully difficult to fight against when it’s a constant thing.

Which brings me to WoW. I was in an LFR the other day. I don’t need any of the gear from LFR. My pally has almost all of the gear she could want out of regular DS and I’m really only there because I need the valor to convert to conquest and because I like playing my pally. I generally pass on everything, even the healing off spec stuff that I would sort of like to have. I don’t care if there are people in there pulling low healing and DPS  numbers, as long as we’re not wiping. And yet there were (of course) people in /raid spewing such seething hatred for those at the bottom of the DPS meters. These same people bitched about loot the entire time. These same people tried to troll newer folks during the ooze fight by calling out the wrong color to kill. Or they pulled extra groups of trash. Why? To make their epeens bigger?

Guess what? Doing stuff like that just makes you a dick. And again, contrary to what  popular society and especially the internet would have you believe, that’s not a good thing. Saying things like “I’m an asshole and proud of it,” means that you enjoy treating other people like shit. What does that say about you? Human beings are social creatures. Even the introverted ones (like I tend to be) generally feel better when they have positive social interactions. That’s why having friends or a loving family feels good.

Respect has always been a big thing for me. I might be snarky and sarcastic, but I generally try to go into situations believing that the person I’m interacting with deserves some measure of respect. After all, I don’t know their story. All I know is that they’re a person, just like me. And that goes for pixelated people too. Behind every blood elf or orc or tauren there’s an actual person sitting there with a real life and real problems that they’re probably playing WoW to escape from, if only for a little while. Who am I to ruin that for them just because they weren’t sure which ooze to DPS first? In fact, it’s when people start acting like disrespectful dicks that I lose my respect for them.

Here’s something that I’ve come to learn in my adult life. Being nice to other people almost always is easier. There’s this belief that if you want to get your way, especially in situations with strangers, that you have to be a jerk about it. I just don’t think it’s true, at least not most of the time.  Most of my coworkers will bend over backwards for the customer who is nice to them and, you know, treats them like a human being. A lot of people say things like “oh but if you’re nice, people just walk all over you and take advantage of you.” To that I say…bullshit.

You can be firm about things and still not act like a dick. You can explain why something is wrong without tearing everyone else down. And in situations with random people that you’re never going to see again, how hard is it to just shrug things off and let it go? Or, even more unbelievable, give people encouragement or real advice? Guess what? It’s just as easy to type “Stack please,” as it is to type “OMFG STACK YOU FUCKING NEWBS.” Seriously. It might just even be easier.

And that’s the thing. When you have respect to other people, they’re more likely to turn around and be the same to others in return. Just like negativity breeds negativity, respect breeds respect. If you accept that there’s a real living person on the other end of those pixels and actually treat them that way, they’ll turn around and do the same. And maybe next time when it’s you taking your undergeared alt through something, you’ll get that positive vibe back.

The most fun random groups I’ve had are when people are actually friendly. I’m not talking about chatting the whole time or anything like that. But someone saying “whoa, nice DPS,” or “I love your transmog set!” or even “Hey guys, thanks for the painless run!” always feels better than someone spewing out hate the whole time. Carrying on the good feelings that come with positive interactions can make your day that much better and easier too, since you have something to feel other than anger or frustration. And I’ve always had to really question how happy it really makes someone to act like a dick. I don’t think those after school specials about the bully who really just wanted love are too far-fetched in this case.

We have this saying at work. We call it the feedback bank, and the idea is that when you give people positive feedback (for things they deserve that feedback for) on a regular basis, it makes it ten times easier to give them negative (yet respectful) feedback later on. The idea is that if someone knows that you respect them, they’re much more likely to take criticism you might have because they know you just want them to be better and that you respect them enough to help them with it. It would be nice if people treated their WoW life the same way, whether it be between guildies or just random pugs. And besides, making someone’s day by giving them good feedback makes you feel good too. Helping someone who needs help makes you feel good. WoW is at it’s best when it shows how positive human connections can be made through a silly online game. Realizing that there are connections between people, even if we’re only in an instance together for 30 minutes feels good. And if you don’t believe me…

I still remember the name of one guy I was in a group with when looking for group first launched. The group was largely fail, but this one guy was nice. He didn’t curse anyone out, despite obviously overgearing the content. When he died due to a tank fail during a fight and I threw a brez on him, he whispered me to thank me and then complimented my healing. And then he said, “The worst thing about these random cross realm groups is meeting cool people and not being able to add them to my friends list. Look me up if you ever switch to my server!”

The worst thing about the group wasn’t that we wiped on an easy boss. The worst thing about the group wasn’t that the shadow priest was doing less DPS than the tank. The worst thing about the group was that a connection that was made couldn’t be continued.

If more people in WoW, and really the world at large, would think like that, we’d all be a lot happier.

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The other day I was going through the AH, looking to see if any interesting looking shields were available for my level 60 resto shaman. The shield that I would love to have for her isn’t actually available unless I want to race change her to Alliance then back again. My shammy is supposed to be part of the Horde Navy, so running around with a ship wheel on her back seems appropriate. Alas, it’s not to be.

As I was flipping through the available shields, I happened to see a Zulian Swirling Shield listed for a mere 100g. Clearly the person listing it didn’t realize what an amazing transmog piece this is, as demonstrated on Water Bender, Mist Weaver. I knew it had to be worth more than 100g due to the transmog market alone and I bought that thing and sent it off to my bank alt, considering what to do with it.

I should stop now to say that I suck at the Auction House. I just don’t have the interest to be good at it, and therefore most of my gold comes from doing dailies and randoms. This has always been enough to sustain me just fine, though I can’t get the higher priced vanity items and mounts that I like. I’m okay with that though. I always think that I’m going to somehow use my professions to make money, but I never do it. I’m just not interested in the buy low/sell high nature of the AH. There are other things I’d rather do with my time.

Transmog had slightly sparked my interest more in the AH, mostly because I had a huge collection of BoE gear sitting on my bank alt from years of questing that I think I intended to use to “level enchanting.” Since that never happened, I decided to send it all off to my Alliance alt before I transferred her to Wyrmrest Accord  to put up onto their AH since it tends to be better than Argent Dawn’s. I’ve made a nice little profit so far, enough that I can fund my alts there to get them flying and decent sized bags. But still, it was never enough to get me to want to try to do much else with it.

Until that shield. After I found that shield so cheap, I decided to look through the rest of the AH to see if there was any cool looking gear priced low. There was. I bought that too. It didn’t feel like a waste of time either, because I like looking at pretty gear.

As I was buying up all this gear, I had flashbacks to last summer. I was visiting my grandmother and we were watching American Pickers together. She used to be a bit of a picker herself, and I always remember the wonderful things she would find at yardsales and flea markets when I was growing up. My entire collection of Star Wars toys was due to my amazing grandmother, who would find buckets of them selling for $5 and buy the entire thing to bring home to me. I’ll never forget when I was 8 and  she called me to say “You have to come to my house right now, I got you something neat.” I jumped onto my bike and sped to her house and then was totally extatic to see that she found me an Ewok village. My grandmother was a cool lady.

Anyway, she loved American Pickers. I think she might have had a crush on one of the guys, because when we would both stay up late playing out respective video games, we would either watch that or Phillies games. And the best moments were when she would turn to tell me about some amazing little gem she found at a yard sale 40 years ago that ended up being worth thousands of dollars when the person only wanted $50.

I could almost hear my grandmother sitting next to me when I was looking over this bag full of transmog gear that I bought cheap on the AH. It’s not quite as cool as finding a giant owl umbrella stand for $5 or a Tiffany lamp for $35, but it still felt fun all the same. And it gave me a little connection to the grandmother that I lost around this time last July.

I doubt I’ll ever be an Auction House maven, but it’s a fun little thing for me to play with, especially since it reminds me so much of my grandmom. So yeah. If you see a feisty redhead with a name like Charlotte on your realm, watch out. The Azerothian picker is there to find rusty pieces of pixelated gold. I might not be making too much of a profit, but I still think my grandmother would get a kick out of seeing her namesake running around laughing about people who are silly enough to sell their Arachnidian Robes for 50g.

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So it’s been a pretty exciting WoW related week for me. On Monday, my wonderful husband gave me an early anniversary present, which is an all new gaming rig. Goodbye 6 year old iMac with all the graphics set to low. Hello ultra graphics!

We’d been talking about building me a computer for months, but I guess he just got the itch to build a new machine. Last week he told me he was ordering the parts and what case did I want? Not bad at all considering his general feeling towards WoW is “loathing.” I’m feeling like a real gamer now with my set up and I’m really excited to play some games that I couldn’t before because most companies don’t release things for Macs. Now all I need are some pink lights inside my case and I’ll be set. ;)

Computron…My precious.

I had no idea WoW was so pretty. And yeah, I know the game’s graphics aren’t that great, but I don’t think people realize just how bad things looked for me. The first thing I did when I got everything up and running was join an LFR. Previously, doing an LFR meant that my computer showed me maybe one frame per second as I blindly clicked around Vuhdo hoping that maybe I was healing someone. Now? It’s like night and day. I had no idea there were so many ground effects in this game!

After my group wiped on Morchock (yes really), I decided to go do something more fun, so I flew around looking at different zones to see how things looked. I had no idea there were floaty pebbles all over the place in Derpholm. I had no idea you could actually see details in Uldum beyond “more sand.” Twilight Highlands is…still kind of boring, but at least it’s a detailed boring. There are flowers growing all over the place! Even Orgrimmar is pretty! I’ve always said that Vortex Pinnacle is one of the most beautiful places in the game, and as it turns out, and I had idea just how true this statement is:

I’m not going to have to do nearly as much work doctoring my screenshots so they look nice enough to post on this blog anymore.

Tuesday morning while I was working on getting my UI all set up again, I randomly clicked over to battle.net and LOW AND BEHOLD! There was a release date there for Mists! Two months away, which seems like just about enough time to get most of what I need to done. Of course, then I sat down to look at my list of things to do and um…well maybe not.

Fayasha Druid

  • Actually finish of feral set/stop forgetting to roll on agi stuff during DS
  • Finish t11. Seriously. I never killed Cho’gall or did Throne because I happened to miss the night that my guild took them down and then we never went back again.
  • Kill Rags.
  • Somehow find people who want to do that old content.

Koralie Paladin

  • Collect current season pvp set (2 3 4 out 7…hope they don’t remove this from the game when the expansion drops or I’m screwed)
  • Firelands dailies every day
  • Tol Barad Wolf
  • Finish off current story plot so she can move onto Pandaria without issue

Tenian DK

  • Possibly work on stocking up on leather and ore for putting up once everyone is trying to level up professions on their new pandaren and monk alts

Kariki Priest

  • Finish leveling inscription
  • Get gloves and belt for transmog set
  • Try to get the rest of t13

Katalinia Warrior

  • Nothing. She’s such a neglected toon which makes absolutely no sense since I actually really like her.
  • Oh wait. Continue getting trolled by the Oracles for their stupid green protodrake.

Fayliana Hunter

Jasael Pally 2

  • Tank? Maybe. Doubtful.
  • Finish leveling mining
  • Maybe level blacksmithing depending on how much I hate myself

Letana Rogue

  • Undecided if I want to level her to 85

Ayamei Alliance Warrior

  • Learn to play arms
  • Finish leveling JC
  • Firelands dailies
  • Figure out backstory/RP on her

Adeiran Alliance Rogue

  • Hit 85
  • Level professions
  • Figure out backstory/RP on him

I see a lot of leveling professions here. I actually really loathe leveling professions (in case that wasn’t completely obvious) so we’ll see how that goes. My non-character related goals are:

  • Redo guild forum
  • Possibly build an entirely new guild website, if I can get others on board with helping out
  • Figure out how to spark interest in guild RP again
  • SAVING GOLD, NOT SPENDING IT ON TRANSMOG
  • Finish writing my post about DS vs ICC
  • Continue trying to get the Azure Whelpling. Cry when I realize I have close to 6000 kills, yet no adorable blue dragon to show for my efforts.

Less than sixty days before I can say goodbye to this expansion and all of the stuff about it I haven’t enjoyed. I’ve got a lot to do. It’ll be interesting to see how much of it actually happens!

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Pixelated Guilt: Changing a Main

I did something today that I might come to regret.

I’ve never really loved the name of my main toon. I chose it because it seemed like it suited her, and didn’t give much thought to it beyond that. Over the years of playing WoW, her name has become my name. But it doesn’t suit me. I don’t like it when people call me that. And so today, I forked over the $10 for a name change. And now I feel guilty about it.

My main is almost the first toon I ever made. I say almost, because there was one other toon before her, a night elf druid with the name of Faylina. I instantly fell in love with this character. I liked her long purple hair and her athletic looking body. Her name suited her well, and it suited me too. I’ve long used variations of my middle name, Faye, as identities online, and I didn’t see a reason for WoW to be any different there. As I ran through Teldrassil, I felt a wonderful connection with this character, even though I didn’t know much about the lore of Warcraft or anything about MMOs in general. I was just looking for an escape into a pretty fantasy land for a few hours, and I thought I had found it.

A few days later, I told my friend I started playing WoW, and he said something to the effect of “No, don’t do it! Save yourself now! Don’t let yourself get sucked in by that game.  But if you’re going to play, roll up a horde character on Argent Dawn.”

“Horde?” I asked. “But if I want to be a druid in the Horde, don’t I have to be one of those weird cow things?”

“They’re Tauren!” my friend replied, sounding quite put out by my words. “And they’re the greatest race in WoW, totally noble and honorable, and…hang on, I’m going to re up my account.”

Since the prospect of having a friend to play with was far too tempting, the next time I logged in, I switched servers and went to Argent Dawn and then clicked on the tauren for the race selection. I chose druid again for class, of course, and then I stared at the bovine avatar, a little line probably appearing between my brows.

“You are not a Faylina,” I told her. “Faylina means graceful fairy or elf. You are none of those things.”

The name that I was so fond of didn’t suit this new character, and it felt wrong giving it to her. I wanted to RP in WoW. The whole reason I started playing was that I wanted a creative outlet again. I didn’t know much about these tauren things, but I could see from the background on the character selection screen that it looked like they were part of some sort of Native American culture. My then boyfriend (now husband) is of Native American descent, so I really wanted to do the right thing for the culture. This character couldn’t be Faylina. She had to be something else. I went to a wiki about WoW and read about the Tauren and their culture and their language. I read that:

The language of the tauren is often harsh and low sounding, which is reflected in the names of their children. The last name of a tauren is usually a family name, handed down through the generations.

So I sat there typing out names, choosing to start one with a K, since that sounded harsh and I tend to just like names that start with that sound. Another site had suggested that female names have “round” sounds in them, so I thought O’s would be the way to go. And after messing around for awhile, I finally came up with Koloma. It suited the character. Ko seemed like a cute nickname for her. And most importantly, the name was actually available on the server. I hit done and zoned into the world, blinking at the plains of Mulgore and trying to decide if I liked it compared to the pretty night elf forests I had left behind.

Having a friend to play with was a good draw though, and so I stumbled my way through Mulgore and then the Barrens, leveling slower than I’m fairly sure anyone has ever done before. My friend eventually met up with me, playing a cute little blood elf paladin girl, and I felt a little jealous of how…not clumsy his toon looked. But I was getting used to my tauren girl, even if she did look goofy when she ran or emoted.

A few days later, I got a text from my friend.

“Hey,” it said, “Were you being unintentionally hilarious, or did you know that Koloma means ‘snort’ in the Makonde language?”

“Uh….” I replied. “Unitentionally hilarious, but that kind of fits, huh?”

We both laughed about it, and a few days later, I made this picture.

What I didn’t realize when I gave my character this name was that it would eventually become my name as well. WoW is my first MMO, and so I didn’t really understand things like instances or raiding, or that eventually I would be talking to people on Mumble and they would actually be calling me Koloma out loud. For her, the name is perfect. For me, not so much. When people talk about Koloma doing something, there’s always a disconnect there. It doesn’t feel like they’re talking about me. It feels like they’re talking about my awkward but awesome tauren druid whose name means “to snort.”

I came to realize that forcing myself to be Koloma felt just as wrong as forcing her to be Faylina. It’s not fair to make either of us be something that we’re not. And so I went searching for a new name, one that would suit us both. I looked up actual Native American names, ones that I could modify to include a little bit of myself. After searching through, I found two that I thought would work, Aiyana and Ayasha. Fayana, I discovered, is a name for some sort of fanfic shipping couple from some supernatural teen show that I have absolutely no desire to be attached to. Fayasha, on the other hand, seemed safe. I quickly reserved the name on my server, and then sat there for a month, trying to figure out if I really did want to change it. For some reason, changing Koloma’s name made me feel guilty.

Okay, I know she’s just pixels. I know that she doesn’t actually exist and have feelings. But for whatever reason, I feel like I’m betraying her somehow. It’s why I didn’t turn her into a troll, despite generally liking that model better. I can’t even change the color of her fur to get a different cat when I’m in kitty form. How did I think I was actually going to be able to change her name? She and I have been through so much together! We survived Barrens chat and the Scourge invasion before Wrath dropped! We experienced our first pug and discovered the need for a decent guild! We found that a mix of rest, cat, and balance talents do not make for a good leveling experience and then found out about the wonders of dual spec! We killed the Lich King! We killed Deathwing! I’ve written stories about her! How could I go and change her identity like this?

But in the end….I’m not Koloma. I’m me, and I want her to reflect that too. Fayasha seems a good compromise, and it’s not that hard to go back and replace Koloma for Fayasha in her stories so she’s still the same character.  And rather than “to snort,” Ayasha means “little one.” It’s ironic and appropriate, because in our raids, my druid is always the tallest toon, yet in real life, I’m probably much shorter than all of the people I raid with.  So despite the weird guilt I felt, I typed in the name, then loaded up WoW and  stared at my toon for a little while, trying to imagine her in game. “I think we can both be Fayasha,” I told her.

And with that, I hit the “enter world” button, ready for both of us to be ourselves.

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Therapy

Recently, I got a phone call from my dad.

“Kaiya’s not doing well,” he said. “You should probably come down and spend some time with her.”

Kaiya is my dog. For a list of reasons which I won’t get into here, she hasn’t lived with me in a few years. My dad has been an amazing caretaker to her, and loves her as much as I do. So that call…was not something I wanted to hear.

As it turns out “not doing well” translated to my dog having a quickly devastating decline, and in the space of about three weeks, she went from being able to run around just fine to barely being able to walk. Decisions were made, and it turned out my drive to spend time with her turned into a drive to say goodbye.

I loved this dog with all my heart, and seeing her so weak and knowing that I every second I was spending with her was one closer to sending her on her way was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And weirdly, what got me through it without completely losing my mind was this stupid MMO that so many of us love and are addicted to.

I sat on the ground next to her with my laptop in front of me and Kaiya’s head on my lap, feeling thoroughly depressed. And then without thinking much about it, I fired up WoW, deleted a mage I didn’t care about, and made  a toon of a class I’ve never quite been able to convince myself to play, a hunter.

Sure, I’ve started them now again. They usually stall out around level 20, and I go level another melee class. I’m not much for ranged DPS, and I don’t like pet classes either. Plus I’ve just met too many idiot hunters along the way that I couldn’t stand the idea of playing the class. But looking down at my sweet dog, I decided that the only way I could make it through those next few days without totally losing it was to have something to distract me. So I gave myself a goal. Start a hunter and tame a pet that looked like my Kaiya.

Throughout her life, Kaiya got a lot of attention from people wondering just what the heck kind of dog she was. Jindos aren’t well known in this country, and I spent a lot of time saying “No she’s not a wolf. Nope, not part fox either. That’s not actually biologically possible.” Still, she did actually look both somewhat like a wolf and somewhat like a fox, so I decided that in the hours I had left, I would level that hunter as much as I could, and hopefully get her the Red Worg pet.

Things don’t always go as planned, and nearing that night, I realized what I really wanted to be able to do was play for a few hours with this new pet and my Kaiya, so I could feel like there was some kind of bond there. So instead of the worg, I went and tamed a fox instead, which would look more like Kaiya anyway, if only it had white paws. Still sitting on the ground with my dog, I found a fox in Loch Modan, and as I hit tame, I held onto my dog’s paw. I promptly named the fox Kaiya and then went on my way, spending some more time leveling with WoW Kaiya as I gave real Kaiya belly rubs.

In the days following Kaiya’s passing, I didn’t really feel like doing much of anything. But turning on WoW and running around with fox Kaiya as a blood elf that looks suspiciously like me has, oddly enough, been a huge help. We’ve had fun romping through the Barrens, witnessing the events in Stonetalon, going back to the Barrens again, and now we’re in Feralas, a place I suspect real Kaiya would have loved. And sure, it’s just pixels on a screen, but my dog was there with me when I started this character and tamed the pet that looks so much like her, and it gives me a way to feel like I’m still with her.

I feel like a lot of times, people miss some of the great things this game can do while they’re busy worrying about what Blizzard is doing to their class or arguing about progression in their guild or dealing with jerks in random groups. But I’ve heard so many stories of “WoW really helped me get through this difficult time in my life,” and often times those difficult times seem much harder than my own. So I just wanted to say thanks to Blizzard for giving me this beautiful world to run around in with my dog at my side. It really has helped.

Most of the time, for me to care about a character, they must have a really good backstory. I can’t seem to level them otherwise. Fayliana’s backstory is simple. She was lonely. She found a fox locked in a cage, and it was lonely as well. A little more research told her that poor fox had been locked up for her entire five year life. Fayliana rescued the fox, and they became the best of friends.

…Maybe not the most creative of characters I’ve come up with, but it makes me smile all the same. Thanks again, Blizz.

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I love tanking classes. Of my 5 85s, 4 are capable of tanking. I have one of each tank class, and the next closest toon I have to max level is a second paladin. My most played toons are a druid and a paladin, and my DK and warrior are pretty much tied for third.

But I don’t play tanks.

It’s not that I don’t want to. In fact, I’ve said for at least two years that I want to try tanking. But not on my druid, because she’s my healer. And….not on my pally, because she’s my DPS toon. I had high hopes for my DK, but I had so much fun with blood dps that I didn’t want to switch to a tank spec. And my warrior, well. Warrior tanking just seemed too complicated, and besides, there’s nothing more badass than a forsaken chick running around with two gigantic 2h swords doing front flips.

Then there’s my second pally. He was  actually leveled as prot, and so I understand how to play a prot pally somewhat. But I still don’t know how to tank because…I just don’t tank.

Considering my love of melee dps, and plate wearers in general, me not having a tank has become more and more glaringly obvious. I heal on my druid, priest, and occasionally pally, and I’m bringing a resto shaman up through the dungeon finder. Healing comes naturally to me. Melee dps comes naturally to me. I like playing support classes and having responsibility. So why can’t I tank?

Enter Ayame. She is my one alliance toon on my home server that has a function beyond standing at the neutral and Alliance AHs. I have a soft spot in my heart for night elves since my first toon was a night elf druid, and I particularly like their starting area. Sometimes when I’m stressed or just want to take in the pretty world, I’ll switch over to my nelf, away from my guild and chatter and from the grinds that I feel compelled to do. Ayame is freedom, and I usually feel like I’m playing a completely different game when I’m on her. The quests are all different, the feel of the zones of the different….Even the AH is different because there’s a ton of stuff on it!

But I can’t play a toon without giving them a backstory, and Ayame is no different in this regard. I’ve always liked the idea that the night elf women are the warriors and protectors for the race, and so I decided to make Ayame one, figuring she could be a sentinel of some sort. A friend of mine rolled up a night elf druid around the same time, and after kicking around a few ideas, we decided they were traveling together so she could protect him while he learned the finer nuances of being a druid. Since I so recently leveled a warrior as fury, I decided to spec Ayame as prot.

Yesterday, as I got irritated over still not having found that damn azure whelpling on my main, I switched over to Ayame and  did a couple of quests, then stared at her tanking heirlooms for a while. There was really no reason I couldn’t tank a low level dungeon. They’re not that terribly hard. So I tried to boil down what exactly it was about tanking that scared me.

  • I get lost easily, especially in older dungeons
  • Having leveled a healer through the dungeon finder, I know that the DPS problem of letting the tank pull is no better there
  • I don’t like getting yelled at by random strangers on the internet
  • I also don’t like embarrassing myself in front of my friends
  • I also don’t like the idea of playing badly and being a bad example of what my guild is capable of
  • The idea of trash pulls scares me more than an actual boss fight

Looking over the list, I realized most of my issues with tanking are pretty much about me not having confidence in my abilities, not about tanking itself. The only one that isn’t really about me is wanting to represent my guild well, and since Ayame isn’t in a guild and she’s on the opposite faction from the people  I normally hang out with, that really wasn’t an excuse.  I decided that I needed to get over it.

So, I opened the random dungeon finder, clicked on the tank button, and then queued specifically for Ragefire Chasm. I know my way through that one, and I know what to do in there as well. It’s not like Wailing Caverns, which I know I would just get hopelessly lost in. Predictably the queue popped seconds later, and then, there I was, standing in the front of the dungeon with a bunch of weird looking Alliance toons. Where was the comforting hulking presence of the orcs, trolls, and tauren? Where were the spinny jumps of the blood elves? And where were the hunched forsaken with their wicked laughs? Where were my friends?! Oh that’s right. They were right outside that dungeon portal, hanging around in Orgrimmar. And….they would kill me if they saw me because I was a night elf! A tanking night elf!

After a few moments I realized that, oh shit, I’m supposed to be leading this group. Because I’m the tank! So I quickly typed into /p that this was my first time tanking and that I might mess up a bit. And then….I pulled.

First couple of pulls went okay. I didn’t really feel confident. That’s an understatement. My hands were shaking horribly, and I forgot about important things like, warriors need rage to start hitting stuff. Then the first boss fight began and I managed to lose threat on an add somehow. Fortunately, my tidy plates made it COMPLETELY OBVIOUS that was happening, and so I calmly switched targets and hit taunt. Nothing happened. Hit taunt again. Nothing. Swore. Taunt is broken! The add is eating the druid! OH GOD I SUCK AT THIS!

Then realized, no, I’m just not in defensive stance. Silly me! I quickly switched stances and then realized that I’d never actually set up my bars for defensive stance. I’m a smart one.

Fortunately no one died, and I quickly set up my bars so that there were actual attacks in it. And then….I proceeded to tank my way through the dungeon. I wish I could say that I did a good job with it or that I handled  things flawlessly, but honestly it was pretty rough. No one died, but that’s because it was RFC. I managed to lose control of mobs during trash pulls, and I’m not sure if that was my fault or DPS hitting something before I even got a chance to thunderclap it. Fortunately, my taunt button did actually work after I was in the proper stance (imagine that!) so I was able to mostly get things under control. It was probably a slower run than people were used to, but no one complained and no one made fun of me, so that was a good thing. I decided to make a new list of things to think about for the next time I attempt tanking

  • Turn on defensive stance. Really! In fact, set up a Power Aura for this.
  • Get better about turning groups of mobs around. As a primarily melee DPSer, I very much appreciate tanks who do that.
  • Set up my unit frames so that the healer’s mana bar is easily visible. As a healer, I appreciate tanks who are aware of that
  • Set up a macro that says “Hi! I’m a new tank, please be patient with me! If I’m doing something really wrong, please feel free to let me know.”
  • Install threat plates
  • Set up some start attack macros so that I’m hitting things even if I have no rage

I probably won’t use the dungeon finder that much as I’m leveling, because the whole point of this toon is that I get a new story to level through, and running RFD yet again really isn’t going to give me that. But I think I can do it occasionally, especially if I specifically queue for places I know I won’t get lost in. And more importantly, I did it. I finally got over that fear of hitting the tank button and going in to lead the group. My second pally is really excited about this prospect, and so I am because….man I really don’t want to level through Uldum again!

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The other night, I got a text from one of my fellow officers, asking if I wanted to go run Black Temple. We all want T6 for future transmogging endeavors, so I said yes and signed onto WoW to get it done. Five of us met in Shadowmoon Valley and jumped in with the intention of kicking Illidan in the pants and stealing his stuff.

I started playing this game shortly before Wrath launched, so I missed the apparently glory of BC raiding. On my very long trek to 80, I got invited to a  couple of retro raids, which is how I saw things like Ony, ZG, ZA, and Black Temple along the way. I never really had the pleasure of running those with the guild I’d just joined though, so I mostly spent those raids feeling very confused, completely unwilling to roll on any of the cool stuff, and feeling too shy to talk in raid chat. Still, I was intrigued by the entire thing, and made a note that it was something I wanted to look at again when I had the chance.

Ony, ZA, and ZG I have obviously now had far, far too many looks at. In fact, if I never see the inside of the Zuls again, it will be too soon. (Somewhere, my pally is screaming that she wants to be geared too, dammit!) But Black Temple…man that place is amazing and epic feeling, even now.

It took my group not very long at all to smash our way through the place, and we got very lucky with drops and tokens. Our pally managed to complete her T6 set, and I picked up the shoulders for mine. But even beyond the gear collecting, this was one of the most fun and relaxing nights I’ve had in WoW in a long time.

I won’t lie. Firelands has been very difficult on my raid group. We lost a great DPSer early on to boredom, had countless computer and internet problems, gotten unlucky with drops for the majority, and generally aren’t making the kind of progress we’re used to. It’s been disheartening, and it’s taken a lot of fun out of the raiding for me. But after the Black Temple run on Monday, I felt like I started last night’s Firelands raid with a much clearer head than I have in weeks. And judging by the pleasant chatter in Mumble, it seems like other people did too.

This got me thinking. I haven’t run a Zul in awhile because I’m sick to death of them and needed a break. My druid is geared to the point where I don’t feel like I need to rush to get that next upgrade. So most of my recent game time has been spent collecting pets and either soloing old content or doing it with small groups. And suddenly a lot of my negative feelings about the game have lessened to the point that I actually want to go back and finish the Molten Front grind on my DK.

After playing around in the fun of Black Temple and Tempest Keep with ragtag groups or soloing Karazhan on my own, my first thought was, “Augh! Why didn’t Blizzard revamp THESE places to become five mans instead of the freaking Zuls?!” Then I realized this is the very last thing I want Blizzard to do. Inevitably if they were to update these old raids and throw them into the random dungeon finder, they too will be ruined by the monotony of being forced to run them constantly and dealing with idiot puggers while doing so.  The moment that these places lose their relaxed, non-mandatory nature is the same moment they lose what I think is their current amazing (and important!) contribution to the game.

You know how during a fancy meal, you get lemon sorbet after the first course? That’s Illidan. That’s Ulduar. That’s Karazhan. Hell, it might even be ICC.

I think the game needs the old places, not just for their sense of nostalgia, but because they serve as a palate cleanser for current content. Running them is purely for fun, not for personal or guild advancement. We can chat on Mumble about completely unrelated to the raid sort of things while running through, but we’re still doing something together as a group. Or I can listen to a podcast or audio book while I solo old stuff and curse Attumen for not dropping that damn horse. Again. But the thing is, even though I would really LIKE to see those reins drop, it doesn’t ruin my night the way a bad session of progression raiding can. I just shrug and move on, figuring that next week, surely, I will see what I want. And if I don’t feel like flying over to Kara on the next lock out….eh, no big deal. It’s not like it won’t be the week after.

WoW is a grindy game. There’s no denying that fact. You “have” to run your dailies and your randoms and your progression raid so you can get the gear that will make it easier to do all that stuff. Somehow I feel that no matter what Blizzard does, eventually it will feel like a grind. But these old treasures break up that grind and make it easier to jump back into smashing your face against a Firelands boss the next week.

Blizzard,  let these old favorites stay in the past rather than revamping them. They’re much more powerful there.

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I may not play a hunter, but man do I hunt pets. Just not the helpful kind that actually assist in battle. No, I’m more of a minipet collector, though my true dedication to the pursuit has only happened recently.

I’ve always liked pet collecting on my main. I made it a point to get whatever holiday pets I could for her, along with all of the Horde and Alliance faction pets. At level 60, I prowled my way through LBRS to get myself the worg pup, which is actually what kicked off my love of minipets in the first place. Still, I never went particularly crazy for farming the rare drops. The only rare drop I had is my magical crawdad, and I got that from pure luck after five casts in Terokkar. Really getting into the collecting was always something I planned to do “someday.” A couple of weeks ago, I realized I was really close to 100 pets and the Petting Zoo achievement and figured that I might as well work on getting there. Possibly up to the 150 achieve if I was lucky because the Celestial Dragon is awesome.

Around that time, I happened to notice one of my closest WoW friends hanging out in strange places like Winterspring and Zul’Drak. When I asked her what she was up to, she said she was working on getting to 150 pets as well. I suppose that motivated me, because since then I’ve been actually putting effort into my collection.

So I started looking over my collection of pets, seeing what I would need to do to hit 150. Unfortunately, since I started playing only shortly before Wrath, I’ve missed out on a lot of promotional pets and one time event pets. I’m still missing two Children’s Week pets. And that’s when I realized…..shoot, I have a crap ton of farming to do!

After getting lucky with a quick Sprite Darter drop, I spent a little time on WarcraftPets.com trying to figure out how long I could expect to see an Emerald Whelp drop. When I saw people saying things like “700 kills and still nothing!” I wondered if there was some addon out there that kept track of these things. The only one I saw on Curse was outdated, but in the comments, another author linked to the addon they’d been working on. I quickly downloaded it and was thrilled that it does exactly what I wanted!

Rarity is currently in beta, and from what I’ve found, it’s an awesome addition to pet collecting. Now I know exactly how many times I’ve killed random mobs in Winterspring, hoping that the stupid Azure Whelpling will drop (Hint: way too many times).

From Allara, the author:

Inspired by Bunny Hunter, Rarity tracks how many chances you’ve had to obtain various rare items throughout the game. It will tell you how likely you are to obtain the item, track how long you’ve been farming for it, etc. Primarily, this is useful for farming companion pets and mounts, but it also supports virtually any item including patterns and designs, archaeology projects, etc.

Some of the features are:

  • Fully user configurable—you can add things to track on your own
  • Supports zone-wide drops (i.e. Hyacinth Macaw)
  • Supports containers (i.e. White Polar Bear)
  • Supports two-level loots (i.e. Disgusting Oozeling)
  • Supports archaeology projects (i.e. Scepter of Azj’Aqir)
  • Supports fishing (i.e. Sea Turtle)
  • Supports item usage (i.e. Mojo)
  • Supports items dropped from bosses that require a group to defeat (i.e. Flametalon of Alysrazor)
  • Supports items obtained from the holiday boss bags (i.e. Big Love Rocket)
  • Supports some special cases (i.e. Elementium Geode, Mysterious Camel Figurine)
  • Supports things other than pets and mounts (i.e. recipes, legendary components, etc.)
  • Will properly ignore skinning
  • Lets you modify your kill count without having to edit saved vars, in case you started farming before you installed Rarity
  • Automatically imports data from Bunny Hunter
  • Shows an “achievement” alert when you finally obtain the item!
  • Automatically scans you to determine if you already have any companions or mounts
  • Shift-click to report your progress to chat

Personally, I mostly love this add on for showing me how many times I’ve killed stuff, and I especially love the achievement pop up telling me when I do actually get the pet. I would have definitely missed looting my Firefly without it, since I was half asleep when that sucker dropped and my bags were full!

Pet farming is generally a mind numbing experience, but addons like this actually make it more fun. Or at least easier to scream about how bad your luck is. If you’ve decided your crazy enough to try for the 150 achievement, definitely download this one to help you along the way.

Oh and as for me? I’m at 132 pets now, with a bunch of rare drops in my collection. 18 more and that dragon will be mine!

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