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First week of Cataclysm, a Death Knight’s perspective.

So, we’re one week in.

I’ve made 85th level – took me longer than I expected, but I was messing around with goblin and worgen alts and I wasn’t getting enough rest. For those of you who have not yet plowed to 85, my advice:

  1. Rest. I didn’t get enough rested XP, and it hurt. If you do nothing else that I tell you, getting enough rest will help you immeasurably.
  2. Quest.  I tried leveling via the Dungeon Finder. Hour-long queues for dungeon runs that disintegrated after the second pull. And you have to go find the dungeon instance entrances anyway.  So, unless someone posts a list (multiple links) you’re probably better off questing anyway. Plus, the storylines and lore are invaluable in letting you know just what in Arthas’ name you’re doing.
  3. Swap out your gear. You will think that your 4T10 BiS ICC 25 Heroic gear will be good until Cataclysm heroics at least, and possibly the first few Cataclysm raids. You will be wrong. Green is the new purple, and the sooner that you realize this the easier it will be on you.  I waited too long, and my hit points have more than doubled. And I haven’t gotten any good dungeon gear drops yet. Plus, I think Ramkahen styles look good on me.
  4. Archaeology.  Archaeology gives XP. Good XP. Great XP when rested. Go do Archaeology.
  5. Learn the instances. If you want to get your tanking practice in on the instances, don’t just queue up and plow in, AoE tanking like mad. All those things you read about how Cataclysm instances are like mini-raids are not Twilight Hammer propaganda. If you try to go in there with a Wrath heroic speed run mindset, they will eat you.  Learn the strategies. Oh, and DPS DKs, watch your AoEs. Yes, I mean you, Howling Blast – although Unholy needs to remember that just because diseases don’t break Hungering Cold doesn’t mean that they don’t break other classes’ CC so watch Pestilence and Blood Boil too. If you aren’t absolutely certain the CCd mob is out of range, then use your single target priorities.

This is what I’ve been able to learn so far from a DKs perspective. Oh, trying out an Unholy DW build for my secondary spec to see if it really is all that, and because there’s no way in Icecrown I’m tanking instances.

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Yes, I managed to break a bunch of things updating. I’ll fix them as and when I can.

Last night, after strong urging by my guild, I was able to join the progression team in the assault on Icecrown and after working through several bosses I’d only wiped on previously and more that I’d never seen before (Hello, Sindragosa. Pleased to meet you. Now drop dead)  I was able to finally, finally meet the Lich King, Arthas Menethil, in combat.

Though I got trapped between a Defile and Everlasting Winter and went down like a warlock in the Deeprun Tram, I managed to last long enough to help and not make it harder for the crew, and was able thanks to a timely combat rez to land one of the final blows on the Lich King.

After a few surprises, the one that I can talk about being that I still exist, I’ve spent the night walking Northrend, contemplating our failure to rescue Bolvar and what it will mean for the already shaky peace with the Alliance. I would like to find some out of the way place in Mulgore and contemplate a life of peace, but the Horde will always need something killed, and it is after all what I was made for.

Besides, I should really look into those earthquakes I keep  hearing about.

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So, patch.

Well, here we are. Our talent trees “simplified”, our rotations moved over to priority systems, Defense gone, rune recharging changed, and Frost and Unholy tanking gone for good. What do we have?

Unholy: Apparently, since everyone who knew what they were doing took it anyway, Master of Ghouls is now included in selecting the Unholy tree. And what’s this Dark Transformation noise? Oh. Oh my Arthas in Icecrown. Also, Festering Strike to even out our rune usage and keep our diseases rolling.  The presences have been reworked and we now fight in Unholy presence for the added haste and faster rune regeneration.

Thanks to those fine people over at Elitist Jerks, we have a suggested build (4/0/32) that, once Cataclysm drops and we can level to 85 (7/0/32 +2) gives us two floating talent points.

Frost: Nashiira, and many other Death Knights, will be happy to see that 2H Frost is, if you’ll pardon the phrasing, alive and well. Here’s the suggested build: (3/31/2) I may go to this as my secondary spec if I give up on tanking.

Blood: About tanking. Yes, *all* about tanking. Our tanking talents live here now. Hello,  Bone Shield. I hope you write. Yes, I miss you in Unholy DPS too. As far as builds go, I went with this 33/0/3 +1 one, because apparently Bloodworms are cool now. Rune Strike goes on the action bar – it’s apparently on the GCD now, and a certain crabby blue says that it will be useable in Blood Presence without having to come after a dodge or parry. With the Resilient Grip glyph turning Death Grip into a spammable taunt for bosses as well, and with Dancing Rune Weapon’s glyph increasing its threat on top of that, I’m beginning to see why DKs are the go-to tank post-patch.

Until they nerf us, that is.

Well, my connection issues will hopefully be resolved soon (you try getting consistent Netherweb access in Northrend sometime) so I’ll be able to post more and try out these lovely new toys. And yes, by “toys”, I mean “ways to kill things”.

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Why I Started the Wreck List

I have, in other venues, discussed how the Wreck List was formed.  Today, I’d like to talk about why.

I’ve been in other guilds before. Good guilds. Solid raiders. Nice people. But, and this is a big but, I’d find myself watching what I talked about in guild chat. I’d soon learn that there were subjects that I could not talk about – politics, rights, equality, feminism.

Soloing was worse – General and Trade chats were infamous, and still are for the hostility. Arthas, you know this. You’ve seen it. And I was trying to level, and I couldn’t talk to my guildies, and I couldn’t talk to anyone else.

I thought it would be something, not to have a raiding guild or a PvP guild or a leveling guild, but to have a liberal guild. A guild united not by what people did in game, but what people were like out of it. A guild that, founded on the principles of the Daily Kos, would have guildies of varying interests – raiders, PvPers, levelers, crafters – working together to demonstrate liberal principles to WoW and demonstrate WoW success on Daily Kos.

While the organizing and the original recruitment was based on Daily Kos diaries, I didn’t intend for us to be exclusively tied to the site. As I envisioned us recruiting WoW players from Daily Kos, I also envisioned us recruiting Kossacks from WoW.  There are eleven million WoW players, and I wondered how many of them needed the haven from bigotry, misogyny, and racism that we could provide.

I don’t pretend to have come up with the idea myself. Look at Proudmoore. Still, we’ve gone from an offhand comment in Cheers and Jeers to a large, respected, and successful guild, and after getting the signatures on the guild  charter very little of it was my doing.

I didn’t start a raiding guild, or a crafting guild, or a leveling guild, or a social guild. What I wanted was a guild where we could all work together equally, where a person could lead a raid or grind a profession and not be thought better or worse for it. I wanted a guild where who you were didn’t matter as long as you pulled your weight and didn’t hate on your guildes.

And, in a large part, this is the guild you’ve made.

You wanted to hear my further instructions. For those readers on the quest, your next step is to find a hunter dressed as a pirate in a pirate town this weekend. You may also want to remember the letter W.

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Feminism from a Post-Vitalist Perspective.

I’ve been thinking about what it is to be female in Azeroth. Certain posts, like this one at the ‘mental shaman, and certain experiences I’ve had in game have brought me to the point where I should address the choices I’ve made in portraying my femininity, whether they are particularly helpful or not, and how women are looked on in Azeroth and how that carries over from your world.

First, let me reiterate. I am not a woman. What I am is the corpse of a woman, raised by the Lich King as a weapon against the living. You won’t have to worry about me TMIing about periods, for as a corpse I don’t have them. I will never have a child. I cannot blame, or accept blame for my rage as being “hormonal” because I do not have hormones. I am dead. Half of my internal organs are decorating an Abomination’s meathook somewhere. My skin color is bled-out blue-grey. I have no pulse. My body temperature is whatever the surrounding temperature is, and let me tell you freezing solid on a cold Northrend night is an extremely unsettling experience. You would think questions of attractiveness, of sexuality and gender roles, of fair treatment due to my gender would be long behind me. I certainly thought so, when I thought about it at all.

And, well, we were wrong.

I also noticed few, very few strong women in leadership roles, whether Horde or Alliance. Sure, most of the rank-and-file are pretty much even, but when it comes to people I’m getting quests and taking orders from, they’re generally men, or answering to men. Don’t get me started on how the full-plate armor Saurfang wore, that can cover the frame of the mightiest (male) Tauren warrior with thick protection becomes, at best, a sports bra on my slender little frame. The magic that does this is apparently called “teen boys as target audience”, and I have been informed that I should just accept that the gear upgrades or the holiday dresses display my body for their amusement and interest and STFU.

Right. That’s going to happen.

The thing is, if it were my choice to display myself more sexually than a male avatar, if I could choose my responses as to whether or not they were gendered, that would be one thing. But, like world PvP, I’m not really given the choice to avoid it.

And men are.

You may think it’s hypocritical of me, seeing the art and fiction on this site. But those are my choice. And it’s supposed to be an ironic juxtaposition of “come-hither” sexuality used by a dead person. But a lot of you, and I hate to point my finger at men but most of you are, don’t get that. I can see the confusion – look at the art on the Blizzard site for female blood elf death knights sometime. The one I found looked alive, was on all fours, had breasts the size of her head, and was wearing painted-on black leather. And this is the only model I’m given on how I should act.

I don’t need to modify my behavior for you. I don’t need to be a stone-cold harridan or a fragile flower that needs protection. I can get up there in the front line and stand up to the most terrifying threats to Azeroth imaginable without flinching and still have my soft, emotional side. And neither of them needs to fit your stereotypes.

But I shouldn’t have to worry that a feminine voice over Vent, passing on a mark of sanctification, will get me nominated as the centerpiece for a gangbang – or, to be more precise in my terminology, gang rape. I shouldn’t have to be called a bitch because I won’t drag your lazy ass through AQ40, or drop whatever I’m doing to walk you through a lowbie group quest or the DK starting zone. If I won’t take my top off for ten gold pieces, the problem is not mine. And I don’t need to shut up, or go away, or roll a healer, or act like I’m alive and I want to have sex with you, or conform to your stereotypes. And it is not sexist or hateful of me to refuse this.

And again, I’m a corpse. How much worse is it for living women?

So what does this have to do with feminism?

Feminism has, and has been given, many different meanings. My meaning is simply that being female should be no worse than being male. If I present as female – though, biologically I have no gender because I don’t have a functioning biology – I should have the same opportunities, the same chance to succeed at whatever I choose to do as a male would.

And this is not true in my world, and it is not true in yours.

I have been told that I shouldn’t tank or I tank poorly because I’m female. I’ve been told I shouldn’t DPS or that I DPS poorly because I’m female. I’ve been told I’m a humorless feminazi bitch because I don’t find jokes about gang rape funny. And many of the people that tell me these things are the first to accuse me of “reverse sexism” and tell me that feminism is no longer needed, but that WoW is a guy thing so I should shut up or get out.

With all due respect, I don’t feel it necessary to justify the existence or need for feminism in Azeroth. When a main endgame raid boss can be female, when a female faction leader doesn’t have to be the “bitch” stereotype or the “weak-willed victim” stereotype, when we don’t get cookie-cutter hourglass figures and chainmail bikinis unless we want them, then you can argue with me over the necessity.

Because for better or worse, dead or no, my very corpse puts me on the feminist side of this issue.

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IDP, We Hardly Knew Ye.

It’s official.

Not that we weren’t expecting it – with Blood being the tanking tree, and the presences being changed accordingly so that you’re not in the Blood tree in Frost presence tanking, it would only make sense that they’d remove the threat multiplier for Icy Touch in Frost Presence.

Still (though *ahem* I’ve yet to get my beta invite. Hint.) I’ve been hearing from other DKs that we are hurting for threat tools tanking in Cataclysm, and taking away a popular one that fits in our rotations can’t be helping.

Admittedly, what we need is some kind of AoE taunt. Death and Decay is great, but the cooldown is just too long. Often, I’d barely keep threat on a group with DnD, Howling Blast *and* Blood Boil. And there are times that the DPSers have been so outrageous – I’m thinking certain highly geared hunters mostly, but mages and locks as well – that even single target it takes Empower Rune Weapon and IDP spam to  keep the mob.

We’re having threat issues as it is. I don’t think taking threat tools away is going to rectify this.

But, still, we knew it had to happen. Farewell, Icy Dickpunch. It was good while it lasted.

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Obligatory RealID/Forums QQ Post. [Updated]

At first, I didn’t really mind RealID.  What with the not sleeping or eating, we deathknights have time to kill (to coin a phrase) and firing up a WoW client on the steam-powered gnomish computing device lets me see what the World is like to those outside it. And RealID gives me the chance to keep a  line of communication open with my raid leader no matter what server or faction I’m alting on.

So, when I heard that the official forums were going to go to RealID, and  display the poster’s real first and last names, I thought that the answer was simple – just don’t use the forums.

Then I thought about it. And I talked it over with my guild. And one of my guildies, Kaels, had this to say:

They’re basically cutting off the following populations from forum access:
– All women
– People who have reason not to use their legal name socially (trans people, people with embarrassing or intolerable names)
– All stalking victims
– All victims of abuse, past or present
– All public figures
– Anyone with reason to think a current or prospective employer may Google them
– Anyone who’s financially dependent on someone who disapproves of WoW (college students, etc)
– Anyone who is or may ever be in a divorce or custody dispute
– Anyone who’s ever let information slip in game that could endanger them (LGBT identity, age, certain jobs)
– Anyone who has concerns about the mental/emotional stability of anyone they’ve interacted with in the game
– And anyone with privacy concerns who just doesn’t want their real name linked with WoW.

But still, you don’t have to use the forums, right? Unless, of course, you’re beta testing or you have a technical issue or something. And the Blizzard employees have the same exposure…only maybe not.

And what’s this about RealID integration with Facebook? That would make me sick to my stomach, if I had one.

Apparently Bashiok has already had his privacy violated when he posted his real name in an effort to show that it was all okay. Maybe the experience will teach them something.

Or, maybe, we’ve found the real WoW killer – RealID. I know if the Facebook integration shakes out like it’s sounding it will then, well, I’ll miss you all terribly.

And don’t you have some Federal law – COPA – about sharing children’s identities? I know that a lot of my guildies have or *are* kids. How is that going to work, again?

I can’t believe that Blizzard hasn’t put thought into this. I’m forced to conclude that they have, and they either don’t understand the issues (likely) or don’t care.

A lot of people claim that they’re already public and that it’s no big deal. I note that very few of these people are – or think they are –  on Kaels’ list.

[UPDATE] I think I’ll portray this as “came to their senses” rather than “backed down”, okay? Still keeping RealID disabled, though.  Looks like all the concerns I had when I was agonizing to sign up in the first place had some justification.

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Thoughts on Healing

As Level a Healer Month draws to a close, I’d like to share five things that I’ve learned as a low-level shaman healer.

1. You have more mana than you think you do. Seriously.

I usually start asking for mana when my Xperl raid warning goes off at thirty percent.  For many instances, however,  “mana plz” is PuG for “Keep going! Bigger pull this time!”.  I’ve had a tank pull a huge group when I was at 20 percent mana, have the patrol jump in and start beating on me (see #3) when I was at five percent, and still keep everyone standing. How? I have absolutely no idea.

2. You don’t learn healing from the good groups.

Nothing makes me happier than to get a PuG that works together like a well-oiled machine. The tank has the right gear and spec, the warlock manages his own damn health, the mage and hunter manage their aggro, and I just have to throw the occasional Lesser Healing Wave on the tank to let him know I’m still awake. LOS? Huge pulls? Charging ahead? No problem, because everything will be fine by the time I get there. Arthas, I can disconnect and everything will be fine.

These, enjoyable as they are, are not the instances that teach me how to heal. The ones that teach me how to heal are the ones I hate – with tanking hunter duelling for aggro with DPS ret pally, a warrior in dps gear and spec queueing as tank, and a mage that Blizzards everything that moves. Druid tanks that don’t swipe. Hunters that don’t feign. Rogues that don’t stealth. And I have to keep them all standing, to a chorus of “shammy heal fail”. I loathe these instances, but that’s where I learn the limits of what I can do.

3. Dead healers don’t heal.

If I’m surrounded by mobs and taking damage, I won’t be healing you, I’ll be trying to stay alive. I will generally fail, but I’m trying to give you time to get aggro off me so that I can get back to healing. This, by the way, is why I’m trying not to heal myself either – to keep from making the healing aggro worse. Eventually I will give up and heal myself, or I will give up and die.

Corollaries are “A healer with zero mana can’t heal”, “A healer without LOS on you can’t heal”, “A healer that has to get out of the ground effects can’t heal”, “A healer too close to the stunning mobs and flat on her ass in the corridor can’t heal”  “A healer two turns back, healing herself up from 15% of health can’t heal”, and so on. I’m paying attention to what is happening to you. Sometimes, as in many of the cases above, with bitter amusement as it becomes obvious you’re not paying attention to me.

4. Tanks want to die.

You ever wanted some thing so badly you’d do anything to get it and only physical restraints would prevent you from achieving your desire? Because tanks want something this badly. All of them. And what they want is to die.

They know the moment you’re not paying attention to their health bar – whether you’re gratzing a guildie, adjusting your headphones, or typing an answer to the question the tank just asked you. They can sense that brief instant when your concentration slips, and are quick to take advantage, pull, and die. If they overpull and it takes everything you have to keep the group standing, and all that’s left at the end is the tank, the tapped out healer, and three dead bodies begging for rezzes, this tells them the next pull needs to be bigger still.

Yes, tanks want to die. They will use every trick in the book – line of sight, over pulling, ground effects, witty repartee in party chat, anything to distract you so they can die. It’s your job to prevent this. If you must, say “Hello” at the very start, if you think you can get away with it. Otherwise your attention needs to be locked on the tank  for every moment until the instance is done – no talking,  looting or Arthas forbid gathering or dungeon quests. Because that is just the opening your tank is looking for to die.

5. If the warlock soulstones you, the warlock gets heals.

‘Nuff said.

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The Return of Level a Healer Month.

We’re running short of healers four our four ICC 10 progression groups, so we’re going back to Level a Healer Month.

Looks like after the holiday weekend I’ll be dusting Shamwowloner off and trying to level her up as heals some more. I do have the new UI with Grid which should be making healing a lot easier. On the other hand, the low level dungeon finder healer queues were getting as excruciating as the dps ones in my last attempt, and this will make it harder to get Magey up to 80 before Cataclysm.

But we need a healer, and frankly what instance healing I’ve done I’ve enjoyed. It’s good to have things not my fault for once, and at this level it’s a lot less stressful than progression DPS or, Arthas help me, tanking.

So, suggestions for a low-level Shaman? So  far I have a brain-damaged-monkey Enhancement spec, but I can level Resto if it gets me healer training, or go with a standard Enhancement leveling spec. Suggestions? Also is Alchemy/Herbalism a good healer proffession combo?

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Because I Haven’t Updated in a While:

It’s been a while. Here’s some catching up:

I tried a Blood tanking spec for a while. Was asked to go back to Frost before I could update my spec here. And I’m OK with that.

While I really think I should be learning Blood tanking for Cataclysm, face it I like Frost tanking, and I’m going to miss it. It’s going to make relearning my class in Cataclysm harder, but it’s more enjoyable now. And hey, maybe with all the Tauren Paladins there won’t be such a call  for tanks. Yeah. I crack myself up.

My guild is moving the ICC 25 to Wednesday temporarily. They’re trying to get me in, and I really appreciate it, but it could be that I just won’t be able to negotiate a time that other people can handle. It upsets me, but I’m not upset at my guild. I really want to kill Arthas before Cataclysm. I don’t necessarily want the gear or the title – though it looks like the difficulty in getting into the progression raids has cost me a slot on the list to get Shadowmourne, and that upsets me more than I care to admit. Not enough to start loot drama in the guild – the people that are on the list are good guildies and solid raiders, and deserve it every bit as much and more.

Also, I may have more stories rattling around. I’ll inflict them on you when I must.

Speaking of Cataclysm, I’m guardedly optimistic about the raid changes. I think it will be much easier to gear up with 25s and 10s being equivalent.  And with more and shorter raids, there should be enough to go around. I’m not as sanguine about the Dungeon Finder change, as I have no idea where half the instances are to begin with, but I also hear that unlike Wintergrasp Tol Barad won’t automatically flag you PvP unless there’s a battle going on. That makes me feel a little better about them routing a quest hub there.

What else? Still at 4T9, though my DPS kit is ICC 25 ready. Saving up Frost emblems to buy 2T10 at once, though that war token trinket is very tempting. Leveling a mage, because it’s occurred to me that I haven’t leveled someone from 1 to 80 since WotLK dropped. And after Dancing with Runes and Six Seconds of Terror playing a mage is a vacation 🙂

That’s the highlights, pretty much. I’m ignoring Children’s Week as much as I can, despising once again being “encouraged” to PvP. That, last year, would be about when I realized I’d never get the “Long, Strange Trip” achievement or drake.

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