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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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Let me introduce you to the bane of my existence. It’s called Masterwork Elementium Deathblade. It’s not the bane of my existence because of the weapon speed (though I hate that too) or the fact that it has haste on it (also not a fan of that problem). No no. My issue with this sword is the hideous, horrible, overused model. Dear god, I am sick of it.

Let me explain. My pally is my favorite toon. She’s not my main and I don’t get to raid much on her, but she’s my favorite. While I spend most of my play time on my druid (and I love her too!) the pally is the one who has most of the achievemtents and collects the mounts. She’s my main RP toon, and during Wrath, I got to raid on her as well, and she was extremely well geared. I obsess about her dps and I keep up with ret pally theorycrafting. I don’t get to raid on her because I am the raid healer for my group, and that’s where I’m most useful. I’m not particularly good at holy healing, so even when I can bring alts into the raid, I usually don’t get to bring her. It’s sad, but I’m okay with it.

I still like making sure she has good gear though. The Deathblade is the best that’s available to me without raiding, so that’s what I’m using. But MAN do I hate that model.

Prior to the Deathblade, I was using the pink version of the sword, Blade of the Fearless. I had been using that since about….I don’t know….maybe three or four weeks after Cata dropped. I joked with my guildies that I felt like She-Ra with it, and changed my pally’s hair to resemble her for awhile. But after six months of looking at that sword, I’d had enough. I was stoked when I saw there would be a crafted sword because it meant I wouldn’t have to look at that awful thing anymore. Then I saw the preview and it was the SAME MODEL. It’s just blue this time, which I guess makes her He-man? Arg.

Needless to say, when 4.3 hits, the first thing I will be doing is running to the ethereals and transmogrifying the crap out of that sword. My first choice is my long lusted after favorite sword model in the game, Twinblade of the Phoenix from Tempest Keep. I honestly think this is one of the best swords around for a blood elf paladin. If RNG doesn’t smile upon me, I’ll probably use Greatsword of the Sin’dorei  until it does. I loved that sword model during Wrath, and I only got to use it for a few days before an upgrade dropped for me in the five man ToC.

And possibly more exciting is that, as a ret pally, I have grown used to my belt and boots never matching my tier. It’s always either DK or warrior stuff, and sometimes that looks okay (like in t11) and sometimes it looks terrible (like in t10). Finally I will be able to use the models from those healie belts and boots and will not look like I’m color blind. And I will never have to wear a WWE style belt EVER AGAIN!!!!

I’m not just excited for my paladin here. My first thought when I heard the announcement was that I needed to go farm up the entire t6 set for my druid. Then, while playing Atlasloot dress up in guild chat last night, I realized that the off set drops from Black Temple look amazing with T12. While it’s not my favorite, I don’t mind t12, except for the shoulders and helm which I don’t care for in general, and make my poor tauren girl look like a deranged linebacker. But oh, it looks amazing with those two off set pieces!

Plus all of those gorgeous feral staves that look so perfect for a druid? Yeah. They will be mine.

My mains aren’t the only ones I’m excited for. I’ll probably deck my DK out in his starter gear again and will dual wield Tankard O’ Terrors. My engineer priest will be wearing her Wrath goggles full time. My warrior will get any other sword model than the freaking Blade of the Fearless….twice. And the beauty of it is, I’ll be able to change the look of these rarely played characters of mine who don’t often get upgrades, so that when I do get the chance to play them, I don’t have to look at the same gear for months on end.

I’m happy with the way Blizzard is doing this as well. I like that you still need to go get the gear if you want to wear it. I think it adds another level of achievement onto the whole thing. And I’m really looking forward to running old content with my guild so we can deck out our toons the way that we envision them. I would say that this is such an awesome thing for RPers, but really, I think it’s awesome for everyone to have more options. And it will be great that max level characters won’t just be complete clones of each other.

Oh, and as for void storage? Let’s just say my pally’s bank is rejoicing.

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Tree dance!

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to start a blog that chronicles my love of WoW.and the community attached to it. I kept myself from doing it because I felt I lacked having anything to share that hasn’t already been covered somewhere else in the blogging community. I’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway, and hopefully along the way I’ll have some interesting views that others in the community will find entertaining.

About me: I started playing WoW almost three years ago, a couple of months before the launch of Wrath. I had always been interested in WoW, but never had the time to play. I blame Mr. T for finally luring me in. After seeing his commercial, I went and downloaded the trial (and was thrilled that it ran on my Mac, by the way), rolled myself a night elf druid, and immediately fell in love with the world that Blizzard gave me. The moment I walked into Darnassus, I was completely overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. Something about the entrance and the huge “Alliance Territory” that flashed on the screen really hit home for me that something epic had occurred. Then I glanced down at trade chat, was vaguely horrified by what I read, then was asked if I wanted to eRP by some random night elf warrior, and I promptly signed off. A few days later I told a real life friend of mine (who was a former WoW player) about my experience, and he told me to reroll Horde on his old server. Despite the fact that I didn’t want to be “one of those big cow things,” I listened to him and have been an avid Horde player ever since. I still love Teldrassil and Darnassus though, and will occasionally roll up a new baby druid just to experience the zone again.

Do not invoke the wrath of an angry tree

These days, my mains are a restoration druid and a retribution paladin, because I enjoy healing things and smacking stuff in the face with a sword. I’m an officer in a guild that focuses on both RP and 10-man raiding. I’ve never been interested in doing 25-man raiding because I like the tight nit nature of a smaller group. I make it a point to set aside time each week to RP. For me, if a toon doesn’t have a good character and story behind it, I can’t get into playing it.

In the real world, I work in the a creative field, and my degree is in graphic design. Unsurprisingly, I’m fairly obsessed with having a nice looking UI. I’m the person in my raid who will say random things like “Huh, interesting, they’re using the main melody from ‘Invincible’ as the undertone for the music that they play here,” while waiting for people to come back from a break. I love that Blizzard takes the time to add so many “flavor” items to the game, and think it would be pretty boring if everything in the game were about upgrades.

My hopes for this blog is that it will have a fair mix of entries about raiding, RP, lore, and general silliness in between. I’ll let it evolve naturally and see where I can find my niche in this very vocal community.

-Faye

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