Shades of Kae

Caster Shaman Gear List

Note: If you’re already somewhat geared up and looking for epic pre-raid gear from 4.1, check out this post

Before I begin let me give you the caveat that this is NOT a BIS list, or even a BIS pre-raid list. I haven’t done a ton of math or put this gear through spreadsheets. As such, I’m not ranking the gear – I’m just giving a variety of good options per slot to grab on your way up to and at 85. I know there are already other gear lists out there, but I like to do things my own way. This is targeted towards a more casual player who will actually do the standard gear progression of quest greens > normals > heroics > raids.

I will include at least one quest item per slot as well as rep items, Justice point purchasable, crafted items, and normal and heroic drops. I did not include items purchased with Valor points as those will be very slow to obtain pre-raid. If i left a Normal drop version off of the list its probably because it either wasn’t very good, or there were plenty of alternatives. With that said, if you find yourself in a dungeon while leveling, grabbing a normal drop of any of these items is a good idea. Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines are heroic only (normal version is under 60).

Due to the new mail specialization, I have included only mail items. I’m also mainly looking for items with Spirit on them instead of Hit, since I will be dual-speccing Elemental and Resto. All items would be good for either spec unless otherwise noted.

Elemental stats to care about are Spirit or Hit (until cap), Intellect(or Spellpower on weapons/enchants), Haste , Mastery, Crit. At this point i would advise to keep your stats balanced. The hit cap is extremely high due to Blizzard’s new methodology, and I wouldn’t worry about reaching it until you’re raid-geared.

Resto stats to care about are Intellect(or Spellpower on weapons/enchants), Spirit, Haste, Crit, Mastery. The precise order is still under discussion, but I would advise getting a nice base of intellect and spirit, and then balancing across the board. Our mastery is still questionable at this point – we’ll have to wait and see.

I will try to keep this list updated as new stat priorities are determined or if Blizzard makes any changes.

So how would I use this list? Well I would make sure I grab at least one of the quest items per slot while leveling, unless I found a normal dungeon drop to supercede it. I would also start working towards the rep items on the list. Then, when I hit 85 I would go for those heroic drops, purchase any JP items or crafted items, and continue working toward the Rep items.

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A Place To Call Home?

Forgive me for the awful RP, but this is just one of those moments I needed to try.

***************************

Kaelyra took an uneasy step off the boat onto the worn wood of the Stormwind docks. She’d made the rough sea journey from Borean Tundra to Stormwind countless times, but there had been something different about it this time. This time, she was returning for good.

The icy north had held many horrors. She’d watched friends fall on the frozen battlefields, only to be raised again as abominations. She’d been betrayed, she’d been wounded, and she had seen unspeakable evil. From the ghostly Vyrkul that appeared out of the fog, to the endless waves of Scourge that spread disease and death across the contintent, Northrend was a frightening place.It was a relief to be free of the cold winds that whipped across the tundra, cutting through even the thickest cloth.

An impatient human paladin jostled past her, his golden hammer swinging with his jaunty stride. You’re doing it again – the daydreaming. You’ve got to start focusing, she admonished.

Kaelyra tossed her bag over her shoulder and trudged down the docks towards the rising staircase. Other travelers hurried around her as they disembarked from the ship. It had been a long journey, rife with storms and rough seas. Everyone was excited to return home, to see their families and familiar places. Except me.

They were returning home, not because the war was finished, but because there was a new one all around them. Azeroth was in dire peril, and they had ignored all the warning signs.

She still remembered the moment that the Shattering had begun. She was asleep in a soft feather bed in A Heroes Welcome Inn in Dalaran. Her dreams, or nightmares rather, were filled with pain and fear, as usual. She woke suddenly to a deep and utter silence. Then a dull rumble, building to a intense crescendo as the earth convulsed beneath her. The elements cried out in terror, and through them she could see flashes of the destruction that was consuming the world. A tidal wave in Tanaris, blasting across the sand. A dark shadow over Stormwind, breathing fire everywhere. The whispering voices coming from deep beneath the earth, chanting.

She’d heard the rumors of the elemental invasions in Stormwind and Ironforge, and had seen the rifts strewn across Northrend. She had been unable to make sense of it; her mind was weary of the fighting. If only I’d tried a little harder… I failed my duty as a shaman. If only I had listened.

But it was too late. The world had shattered, lives had been lost, and it was only the beginning of the horror to come.

She gazed around as she climbed the steps of the harbor. Stormwind bore the marks of Deathwing’s return- the Park was in shambles, with its walls crumbling into the sea. Fires still burned among the the molten rock.

Many had already left Northrend before the Shattering, but she had hesitated.  Finally back in Stormwind, her reasons for hesitation came rushing back to her.

The city she’d once called home no longer felt familiar. Even setting her hearthstone here did not make it a home. It wasn’t just the destruction caused by the Shattering – it was the years spent away. A new generation of heroes wandered the streets, full of fresh enthusiasm and vigor. Auction houses had been torn down and rebuilt, shops had moved, and the walls had been opened up to allow access to the lake. The canal was filled with strange blue crabs. Even the trees were taller. It was still Stormwind, but nothing felt the same.

It was an unsettling feeling to realize that you had no place to call home.

She trudged along the canal towards the Dwarven district. Supposedly a new inn had opened there, and she was curious to see if any of the new Dwarven shaman had made their way to Stormwind. It would be a good place to ask around.

The smoke from the forges rose overhead, and the scent of hot iron permeated the air. At least that hasn’t changed. She ducked instinctively as a crane holding beams of wood swung over her. The dwarves always forgot that there were taller races wandering around.

The sound of racous dwarven laughter and glasses clinking grew stronger as she continued to walk. The inn soon stood before her, a cheerfully carved wooden sign with a foaming beer mug on it decorating the entrance.

Kaelyra could still feel the elements churning around her. She would rest here for a few days, but soon she would begin to fight again. We must unite, and strike back at Deathwing and his Twilight Cultists. If we fail, no one will have a home.

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Happy Blogiversary

Today is the one year anniversary of my blog (although I don’t think I opened it up to the public until a few days later). I was inspired by all the fantastic bloggers surrounding me, in my guild and in the WOW community at large. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and find that I can express myself much better through the written word than verbally. I completely fail at eloquent conversation or debate when required to formulate my words on the fly. I need time to think, to digest, to push the words around until they actually have some semblance of flow.

Last year, I found myself entranced with the WOW blogging community. I didn’t want to just comment on others’ sites – I wanted to get involved, to spill my own rambling thoughts across the page, and maybe even provide some helpful information. I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, churning out several posts before I even let anyone read the blog.

I got off to a great start – mostly thanks to the encouragement of my guild-mates, which included several prominent bloggers. I even got a post linked to by WOW.com. I wasn’t out to find fame or readership, but it felt nice to be noticed. I actively commented on other people’s blogs and introduced myself on Blog Azeroth. I felt like I was adding a tiny bit of value to the community, and I was proud of it.

As the year sped on, my blogging motivation waned – WOW became less captivating due to the pre-expansion slump, and my RL overwhelmed me a bit. I had trouble dealing with a few negative comments, because I take everything way too personally. The various Blogger-gate dramas throughout the community left me rather disenchanted as well. I began to lose sight of why I wanted to blog in the first place.

The months leading up to my wedding caused the blog to grow dusty and neglected.  I’m sure I lost most of my readers along the way. I failed to provide anything helpful, useful, or even entertaining.

Now, with a bit more “free time”, I find myself drawn back to this place. I want to write. With Cataclysm close at hand, my goals for the next expansion involve making this blog into something better. It will be a slow process as I strive to improve, and I’m not entirely sure how to go about it, but I will definitely try.

Step 1 involves re-inventing myself. This home on WordPress.com met my needs just fine in the beginning, when I didn’t know if I would even like blogging. Now though, it chafes at my creativity. I love dabbling in web-design, and tweaking plugins and such. I love having complete control. So, as I may have mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m going to move to a self-hosted blog (link to be announced soon).

Step 2 is actually getting myself to write on a regular basis. At least once a week is my goal.

Step 3 is publishing useful guides – things like Addon configuration, leveling, dungeons and more. This will all of course be from my casual perspective. I’m not a hard-core raider or theorycrafter, and have never claimed to be. I do, however, want to provide “cheat sheets” to others who don’t have time to do a ton of research, or keep forgetting how something works.

But that is all in the future. First, I want to take a look back at some of the posts I’ve done over the past year:

Reading my post on the essence of a rogue makes me a little wistful that I’m demoting my rogue from main character. I think I need to do one on the essence of a shaman to make me feel better.

My first rant wasn’t very eloquent, but it still rings true today.

On December 7th, 2009, it was the eve before Patch 3.3,  I was still reeling from my guild’s own mini-Cataclysm. I was never quite able to formulate an intelligent post about what happened, and I probably never will. It still stings a bit to think about that whole ordeal. There were so many hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and accusations that occurred. Azeroth may be a wonderful escape from real life, but its not an escape from real emotions or drama.

In January, Blizzard caved and tried to entice people to stick it out in the Oculus.  Will Cataclysm bring us a new Oculus? What new mechanics or concept will be introduced in the new expansion, only to fail despite their best intentions?

I wrote a review of the first volume of the WOW magazine, and got linked to by WOW.com.

The blogosphere burst into uproar about the concept that healers and tanks somehow “deserved” more than DPS.

The Shared Topic “Surviving as a Melee DPS” was a fantastic one. Those of you looking to roll a rogue or other melee class in Cataclysm might want to check it out. Most of the specifics spell references are still accurate, although rogues have added Recuperate to our toolkit as nice way to regen health.

I reminisced about all the noobish things I did when I first started WOW.

I completed a Long Strange Trip and found myself astride a purple dragon.

My UI posts were some of the more comprehensive and useful posts I’ve done. See UI Design, Part1 and Part 2.  I’ll probably do another round once I’ve settled into a UI for Cata.

I participated in another Shared Topic, “Starting Over“. A part of me still wishes I were a druid – and I’ll have the chance in a few short weeks.

I became a Loremaster and did a review of the quests I’d encountered over the years. It’s sad to realize that so many of them are gone forever. I hope the new quests are just as epic, and look forward to completing them.

The Real ID launch caused a lot of commotion throughout the community. Blizzard has since added more customizable options to Real ID to help appease those that are concerned about privacy. I still wouldn’t mind a “invisible” mode. I do use it frequently when I play on Horde-side. It ensures that I don’t miss out on raids and I’m able to whisper to guildmates that I want to chat with.

I dabbled with Power Auras on my resto shaman. Look for future Power Auras posts in the future as it will play heavily into my UI strategy for Cata.

So there you have it – a smattering of interesting posts over the past year. I wrote this blog post once and WordPress mystically lost half of it, which is always a treat. I really need to start using another tool than the built-in client.

Anyways, stay tuned for the move to a new home. I’m thinking of launching within the next week (if the CSS and PHP theme tweaking doesn’t kill me first)!

General Blog Stuff 7 Comments

Old Friends, Enemies and Places

Azeroth is likely being destroyed by an angry dragon, with fire bursting from his core. But since all the residents of Azeroth are stuck in a comotose state, I’ll daydream about yesterday instead of worrying about today.

First, I said goodbye to Dalaran. It’s time to move on.

Daralan in all its beauty

I said goodbye to my dear friend Applebough. I will always remember him as my favorite vendor.

The friendliest non-druid Tree

Then I packed my things and stepped through the Dalaran portals for the last time. Everyone is returning home – the war is over. The wizards of Dalaran have decided that there is no need to waste magical energy keeping them open. I’m glad I was prepared enough to leave before they closed them. It would be a shame to get stuck taking the long ship ride back to Azeroth.

Portals - such handy things

I took a quick tour around Stormwind. I went for a stroll in the Park, and wandered around the gates area, gazing at the grand statues.

The Park
The glorious gates of Stormwind

Then I went to hunt the enemies that haunted my beginnings as a hero. It was time to make them suffer.

The first dangerous foe was Hogger.  He didn’t have a chance this time…

Hogger's demise

Or did he? I’ve heard rumors that he may have respawned and been captured by the Stormwind Guard.

I also said hello to a few friends on my journey. Old Blanchy was always kind to me. He even gave me his old feed sack when I most needed bag space.

Old Blanchy was a good horse...

The Defias Messenger was wandering around Westfall. I gave him a parting blow with my dagger.

Defias messenger fails to deliver his last message

Klaven is no longer useful to the world. I will forever be greatful to him for allowing me to learn my poison skills. I thanked him with a swift death.

Klaven think's he's safe in his tower...

The Blackrock Grunts hid behind a tree in Redridge, just waiting for their moment to strike. I showed them what it was like to be surprised from behind.

Darn ogres

Mor’Ladim had a very sad story, but he also had a tendency to sneak up on unsuspecting low-level characters and annhilate them. I paid him a visit to set things straight.

Mor'Ladim will terrorize the graveyard no more

Stalvan was a very odd man, with one of those epically long quest chains that sent you scrambling around Azeroth. I ended his sad existence as an undead revenant.

Stalvan

The Ogres in Loch Modan have a massive cave complex that is full of treacherous turns and twists. I cleared the area. I’ve  heard they’ll come back stronger than ever, but at least I made them hurt.

Ogres

I took the opportunity to pause and look out over the dam. It is such an such an epic work of engineering… it’s too bad Deathwing had  to crash into it.

What a lovely view

Sadly, I said goodbye to Muradin Bronzebeard. Such a strong, proud dwarf – a wonderful leader. He will be greatly missed. I hope that someday we can free him from his earthen entanglement.

Muradin will be missed

Murlocs are fun to kill, even if they aren’t ever going to leave Azeroth.

Scattering the murlocs in the wind

I stole Araj the Summoner’s phylactery for the last time.

Araj the Summoner

I was never quite able to figure out that outhouse…

Very interesting...

The entire zone of Desolace was my enemy. A barren wasteland full of nothing friendly.

Desolace

Linken has always been one of my heroes. I keep his boomerang and sword safe in my bank should I ever need them.

Linken

I hung out for awhile with the ghosts of Azshara. I have a feeling they wont be lonely any more.

Azshara... formerly the most useless zone ever

Finally, I watched the sun set over Darkshore.

the docks of Darkshore
Darkshore sunset
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The Collection

I’m warning you now – this is an image heavy post. I decided to play with my camera today and take some pictures of WOW items in my collection. I didn’t realize how much WOW paraphenalia we had until I got utterly tired of taking pictures.

I’ve had the figureprint for a few months – Jardal got it for me this summer, but it didn’t arrive until a few months later.

Kaelynn's Figureprint

It is absolutely gorgeous and a perfect replica of my in-game character. My only complaint is that it’s incredibly hard to take a good photo of! It’s made out of some sort of ceramic, and enclosed in a glass dome that is not removeable.

I also recieved an Onyxia hatchling figure pet from Jardal as a gift. It’s so adorable!

Onyxia Hatchling. Whelps...handle it!

Then there are the steins that I got for Jardal last year:

Stein Lid
Stein Lid
Alliance Handle
Alliance Stein

They are very expensive, but they make a wonderful collector’s item.

Dragon Stein
Handle

Of course, we also have various plushies:

Gryphon Hatchling
Talking Murloc
Baby Murloc

We also own most of the WOW novels that are out there.

So much Lore!

There’s a WOW calendar in our office:

Calendar

In addition to all the above, we also have the WOTLK Collector’s edition, at least one Tshirt, and every issue of the WOW magazine so far. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Our collection is a little ridiculous, but it just goes to show how much we love the game. We get incredibly geeked out when a new WOW themed item comes out. There are of course things we are missing… anyone have a Frostmourne or Doomhammer replica they’d like to send us? :)

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Fighting Off the Gloom

I’ve felt a bit gloomy lately. It could just be the weather — it snowed last weekend and the ground is coated with gray slush. The bitter hint of cold in the air reminds me that the long Minnesota winter has begun to set in. I can look forward to the grey skies, biting cold, and darkness.

Or it could just be my job. I’ve been in my current position almost 6 months — long enough for the apathy to creep in. I’m constantly reminded that being a programmer is nothing like I imagined. I’m not designing elegant code and engaging in stimulating discussions about the best way to do X, or using cool new technologies. Instead, I’m wading my way through a poorly written POS and trying to make sense of financial data that doesn’t match up with some user’s report. There are good days… but I haven’t had one lately. I find myself leaving every day with a headache and a sense that everything I do is futile.

When I arrive home from a long day at work and a 45+ minute commute through bad traffic, I’m completely burnt out. I would love to come home and clean, to work on my hobbies, to check things off my to-do list — but I rarely find the motivation.

I’m not saying any of this to just to complate or incite pity. I know, I really don’t have it that rough. I have a job, no kids, etc. I’m just explaining this to get to my point which is:  that playing WOW is one of the few things that I feel like doing when I get home. It energizes me, inspires me, and helps me blow off steam. These past few weeks, I’ve seldom logged into the game. My desire to play is waning. I’m sure this is contributing to my gloomy mood.

This brings me to my realization of the day— WOW has held my interest consistantly for longer than anything else. I tend to get bored easily. I throw myself into a project with a fervor, and then after a short period of time, get completely burnt out and frustrated with it. I rarely finish anything. For the past 2 1/2 years, WOW has been a consistant part of my life. I daydreamed about it at work, and planned out my next goal in-game. It has excited me, motivated me, and given me something to look forward to. It’s actually hard to believe that a game could hold my attention for so long. Why is WOW so different?

The magic that WOW holds for me is hard to pin down. I love so many aspects of the game, from the lore, to the art style, to the interaction with people. I love how vast and seemingly endless the game is. It’s not something that I can ever “finish”. Add all of that to a solid, polished product with interesting mechanics and quests, and apparently you have a recipe for something that works very well for me.

There is something incredibly frustrating about the short time before a new expansion or patch launch. It’s not really that there is nothing left to do in the game — it’s more that so many of the things I would like to do will be somehow better or different if i just wait.

Some people have gone on to other games to get their fix. I’ve learned by now that other MMOs just can’t capture me in the same way — I keep comparing them to WOW.  I also just don’t have the heart to start over — I have such an investment in WOW. I should be finishing up Dragon Age, or one of the countless other single-player RPGs that I’ve left untouched, but somehow I can’t get into it. WOW has become a habit… and without it, I feel rather lost.

Just over two weeks left until the launch. In the meantime I am trying to focus on other things — trying to summon up some motivation to get back into drawing, to edit my photos from Europe, and to finish my theme design and blog relaunch. I’m trying… but most of the time I just find myself watching TV.

I can only hope that these next two weeks pass by quickly. I need Cataclysm to come out and save me from being so emo.

Kae's Life 3 Comments

Install WordPress Locally

I’m working on possibly self-hosting my blog soon, and as such decided it was time to dabble with a theme design. Those of you who love playing around with layouts or plugins on your self-hosted blogs know that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you end up with broken layouts and everything goes just a little wonky. Since your blog is essentially broken, you panic to fix it before anyone can see it.

A great practice is to actually test your theme/plugins locally on your own computer - then you have all the time in the world to fix things. This used to be a rather daunting task for non-techy folks to do, requiring a full manual installation of WordPress and it’s dependencies(PHP, MySQL, Apache/IIS,etc) on your computer. For those of you who have access to a Windows computer, however, it’s become quite simple. (Mac users will still have to do a few more steps – check out  these instructions on how to do a WordPress install on MAMP).

Microsoft actually did something intelligent! They built a Web Installer Platform, which allows you to install a bunch of web applications with just a few clicks. Here’s a direct link to install WordPress via their tool.

Just select WordPress from the list of applications and click 'Install'

The installer will ask you set some passwords, but other than that don’t worry about tweaking the options unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s incredibly simple.

After it’s installed, you can view your local blog by pointing your browser at http://localhost/wordpress/. The files are all stored at C:inetpubwwwrootwordpress.

You can see how your own blog looks by exporting your blog content (Tools > Export) to your computer, and then doing an import on the local installation (Tools > Import). Install your theme and matching plugins on your local installation as well, and you’ll be able to test any changes before making them live.

 

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In Which I Admit I'm an Impatient Jerk

Members of the blogosphere prove to be fantastic at judging each other, and making bold statements about how others should or shouldn’t behave. I’m not interested in participating directly in this drama – as always, I prefer to stay on the sidelines and make silent judgements about everyone involved, without the risk of actually having to back up my opinions.  Instead, I’ve decided that today I’m going to be candid and reveal something personal. I have a confession to make – I’m a jerk.

An early morning meeting  with a team member over in India left me filled with intense annoyance. It’s partly because it was so early and my brain doesn’t like to fully function at that time of day, but mostly because he asked so many questions. Questions I know I’ve answered before.

This got me thinking about how I would make a terrible teacher. I have zero patience. I get filled with an irrational rage when someone asks me “stupid” questions, or asks the same question more than once. I can’t possibly comprehend how someone can’t get it, when I figured it out so easily. Essentially, I’m an egotistical, impatient jerk.

I also get incredibly pissed when I can’t understand what someone is saying. Accents, bad Vent connections, etc, leave me swearing under my breath as I struggle to discern the probably-important words the other person is speaking. On the flip side, I also get angry when someone doesn’t understand what I say and I have to repeat myself. I am such a hypocrit.

This bad attitude manifests itself quite frequently in WOW, although I do a fantastic job of keeping it to myself (and my poor husband who has to listen to me ranting). My guildies probably think I’m such a nice person – sadly, they are incorrect.

In PUGs, getting pissed at some faceless person is easy. I swear and rant at every lousy tank, every stupid DPS who stands in the bad or pulls mobs. The thing is, though, I never type out any of my angry thoughts. I don’t need to take out my rage on that person… they probably wouldn’t give a damn anyways. I’m not going to try to teach them a lesson, or intentionally make their game-time miserable. It wouldn’t solve anything. It wouldn’t even make me feel better.

But this is just my way of dealing. Other people seem to think that letting others intentionally die, or pulling a bunch of mobs and then leaving the group, or ninja-ing loot is a more reasonable reaction. We’re all jerks on some level – some people are just more visibly so. It’s part of what makes us human, like it or not. We all have slightly different moral compasses, which are shaped by experiences, religion, culture, etc.

I get extremely agitated when I make a mistake in a PUG, because I’m sure that the other members are swearing about me. But they’re probabaly not. I’m the passive-aggressive one, and I shouldn’t attribute that to everyone I meet.

During guild runs, the fury takes longer to build. I cut my friends some slack - after all, it is just a game. But after 5 wipes on a boss we’ve easily killed before, when its obvious that certain people just aren’t paying attention… I snap. I stop having fun and start gritting my teeth, just waiting for the night to be over. I keep my finger away from the vent key on my keyboard, as I assign blame and mutter about the incompetence that is occuring. I don’t ever share these thoughts with anyone but my husband. I hate confrontations, I hate causing drama, and I would rather suffer through a night of wiping than risk calling someone out.

So there you have one of my dark secrets. I am very quick to anger, and but you will likely never know when I am. I’m passive-aggressive, impatient, egotistical, and selfish, but I’m very good at choking it down and putting on a smile.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we all make mistakes, and we all act like jerks sometimes (unless you’re some sort of super-genius-saint). Thats not to say that said jerkish behavior is good, but it is understandable. It’s really easy to point out the  perceived failings in others, so I thought I would point out some failings in myself instead.

PS:  Trust me, I’m much harder on myself than I am on others. I truly excel at self-bashing.

PPS: I have no idea why I’m posting this – I’m just in a brutally honest mood

WOW 4 Comments

Entirely Unconstructive

Now that the wedding planning isn’t sucking all the creative juices out of me, I’m feeling the urge to write again. I want to write something helpful, something constructive that might actually contribute to the community. Unfortunately we’re stuck in that limbo zone before the new expansion where everything is transient and uncertain. I won’t write a class guide, because what really is the point, when no one is raiding in any sort of serious or even casually serious way? Talking about addons would be futile, because whatever addon I mention will likely break in Cataclysm.  I’m not on the beta, so I can’t discuss anything there, which is where most of the news is coming from. I can’t even talk about leveling, because the whole experience will change in a few weeks.

So you’re stuck with me musing and rambling instead of something constructive.

The Shattering

I read The Shattering a few weeks ago. If you want a nice review on it, check out this review by fellow rogue Daria or a post on my guild’s blog by Faydre, or of course WOW Insider’s review. As for my opinion – I think  it was wonderful (at least in the context of a WOW novel). Christie Golden wove together the many different viewpoints in a simplistic way, but it worked very well. It was a smooth, well constructed, and enjoyable novel. Each character she touched was brought to life with a great deal of depth and dimension. I truly enjoyed every character, even those that I would traditionally say I hate – like Garrosh, or Moira Bronzebeard. Golden made the lines between right and wrong blur in an interesting way, revealing the good and bad in both Horde and Alliance. Also – if you were pissed by Blizzard turning Jaina into a whiney, weak and crying girl in the Icecrown events, then you will be pleased to know that Golden gives her merit again as a strong and intelligent woman. The depiction of young Anduin Wyrnn is fantastic, especially his relationship with Varian. Even young Baine Bloodhoof won my heart over, and gave me a character in the Horde to actually care about.

The Shattering - available at your local bookseller, online, or via Kindle

Is The Shattering it worth reading? I would give that question an emphatic yes. While other novels had merit simply by moving the plot forward or filling in gaps in the lore, this novel shined by fleshing out important NPC characters and truly making them come alive. The plot is still important of course, as it provides the material needed to transition us from WOTLK to Cataclysm. Hints will be made to the events of The Shattering in-game, but Blizzard makes a practice of using these novels as complimentary to the in-game events rather than fully explaining them in-game as well.

Healing in Cataclysm

There’s been a lot of discussion going on in the blogosphere about healing in Cataclysm, and whether Blizzard has managed to accomplish changing its healing philosophy. One notable post is one by the always eloquent Tamarind at Righteous Orbs, where he gives a differential diagnosis on healing. Vixsin at Life in Group 5 writes another very intelligent post about the disparity between efficiency and fun when healing.

These posts make it clear that their are still some inherent problems with the healer role. Blizzard hasn’t magically reinvented healing – they’ve just tipped the scales in a slightly different direction. Healers are truly struggling to find their place, what tools to use when, and which classes are more optimal in which situations. As our abilities scale with gear, and as Blizzard continues to play with the numbers, we may end up with further shifts in healing style during the expansion. Having to worry about mana and choose spells thoughtfully sounds fun, but in practice it might not be implemented in a way that truly works. I suppose we will find out in a few weeks.

The other problem is that no matter what Blizzard does to the numbers, sometimes the mindset of the community causes problems. Healers have the ability to compensate for poor player performance in Wrath – whether it be that the other players are standing in bad stuff or aren’t killing the boss quickly enough. With the goal to make healing more challenging and less twitchy, we start to lose that ability to compensate, and we get “blamed” for others poor performance. I’m honestly quite nervous about healing PUG dungeons in Cataclysm. I love a challange, but I’m certainly not interested in dealing with asshats who blame me for their own incompetance. On the other hand, I’m very excited at the idea of guild dugeon runs that actually require us working together as a team.

The Calm Before the Storm

We’ve hit the one month mark until Cataclysm’s release (as of yesterday). Some people are scurrying around trying to finish up last-minute achievments, to level an alt, or to amass a pile of money in preparation. Others have stopped playing the game entirely until the expansion release date. All of us are waiting, and likely impatiently. It’s been over a year since the announcement of Cataclysm, and I’ve felt a bit twitchy ever since then. There are so many things I want to do, so many things on hold until the release.

The world events are interesting – the quests are fun, especially if you actually read them (I’ve done them on almost every toon). I certainly look forward to the next phase, which apparently kicked off today. Unfortunately these events are are overshadowed by that sense of anticipation. The third phase will hopefully be more captivating, with full-on city invasions, random bosses, etc.

That cultist outfit is hot! Maybe I should really join up...

What am I doing now in the game? I’ve been trying to grind through to get my Dungeon Set 1 on my rogue, but due to my poor luck, it’s proving to be incredibly tedious. I likely will give up. On the bright side, she reached Exalted with the Argent Dawn. I’ve also been doing a smattering of retro raiding, and playing around in ICC.

In which Jardal thinks he is king of BWL

Mainly though, I’ve been continuing to level my horde priest. Northrend is slow going, but we’ve managed to get through the Wrathgate, which was our main goal. I’ve finally become comfortable on the Horde side (although I still find myself heading towards the Alliance portals in Dalaran). The Wrathgate was much as I expected – a slightly different slant, but still epic.

I’ve done a few battlegrounds on horde-side, mainly to keep up with Jardal’s shaman and his herb addiction, which now gives a surprisingly large portion of XP. Horde has always dominated on our battlegroup, so it’s quite refreshing to actually win – and dare I say makes PVP a little bit fun. I’m certainly not good at battlegrounds, especially as a Holy priest, but I feel I contribute much more as a healer than I would as a DPS. It also gives me a chance to practice with the ridiculously-sized toolbox that priests have to lug around. Maybe I’ll actually give rated battlegrounds a shot in Cataclysm – especially as they combine the battlegroups and hopefully even things out a bit.

The Release of WOTLK Retrospective

Although I had been playing WOW for a few months before the release of WOTLK, I hadn’t even reached 70 yet.  I was excited for the expansion, but not like this – I still had plenty of new content to explore, professions to level, and thousands of XP left to go before I hit the cap.

We had pre-ordered a Collector’s Edition from Amazon for me, but it didn’t arrive right away. I took the Thursday and Friday following the release date off of work, and ended up buying a CE from Target that we found, because I just couldn’t wait for mine to arrive. We later sold the second CE on Ebay for a slight profit.

Our server at the time was Cenarius – one with a rather large population. The queue times were incredible, and the server stability was very questionable. Jardal and I found ourselves in Outlands surrounded by a flood of new deathknights (or, I suppose a plague of DK’s?). It took about a month after the release of WOTLK for us to hit Northrend.

Release Plans For Cata

This time around, things are different, and yet the same. I’ve pre-ordered my CE from Amazon (because my husband is nice and knows how much I love the mini-pets). He snagged the digital download, which is a fantastic idea on Blizzard’s part. If the CE doesn’t arrive right away I will probably try to find a copy elsewhere and resell it when it does arrive. I don’t have a lot of vacation to spare this year, so I’m only taking a half-day on December 10th.

We’re on a lower-pop server this time, so I’m hoping that the queues will be less ridiculous. I’m sure there will be some instability, especially in the Worgen and Goblin starting zones.

I have two toons at 80, one at 74, one at 45 and one at 39 – all of which I want to play when the expansion releases. That’s not even counting the worgen druid, dwarf warlock, and worgen hunter that I’m planning on rolling, or the goblin shaman I will dabble with. I have 4 professions at max that need to get leveled, and of course there is archaeology,  and Peaceblooms vs. Ghouls to endlessly consume my time.

It’s a bit overwhelming. I’d love to say I’m going to formulate a plan… but that’s unlikely to go beyond a rough draft. It all depends on zone stability, what my husband wants to do, and my own whims at the moment.

I do know a few things though. Kaelyra (my newly renamed shaman) will be my new “main”. I’m leveling her first to 85 along side Jardal’s druid. We will also be rolling a worgen druid and rogue, respectively to play together (a nice reversal of our first set of toons). The worgen will NOT have heirlooms from 1-60 at least, to give us the opportunity to fully enjoy the revamped content without outleveling it too quickly. My worgen druid will be an herbalist/inscriptionist, and I’ll be going Balance (and Resto as soon a I can purchase dual-specs).

Enough rambling for today. I’m off to do some work… or maybe just finish getting through my feed reader. Speaking of which, WTF WOW Insider… how many times do you have to break your feed, spamming me with 50 posts?

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The Cataclysm World Event Has Begun

The Cataclysm world event is now active on the live servers!

New quests, including one from this guy have become available as the elementals and cultists begin attacking Azeroth.

More information about the elemental invasion can be found at over  at Wowpedia.

One more hour until I can go home and participate in defending the world. *sigh*.

BTW, I totally called it. I knew they would begin the event when Hallow’s End wrapped up. It feels good to be right.

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