Monday, January 28, 2008

Blog Azeroth - Shared Topics #1

Explanation: Over at Blog Azeroth, Siha suggested a semi-regular shared blog topic and kicked it off the first round with this question. Check out her response here. The link to other's responses is here.

Q: What do you enjoy about the class you play the most?

I haven’t been playing WoW long enough to really get a solid feel for any of the other classes, but I really enjoy the Paladin. I’ve tried Priest, Shaman, Rogue, and Mage as well, but only the Mage has reached a level above 20.

So why did I choose the Paladin? The perception.

I’ve been an avid fantasy reader since I was young. I spent a lot of time reading Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, David Eddings, and Robert Jordan to name a few. I also grew up with the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and idolized the ideology of the Jedi Knight. In all of these stories, the characters that I’ve always been drawn towards are those that strive for honor above all else; a desire to rise above the natural man. Sturm Brightblade immediately comes to mind for example. Whether this is because I strive for that ideal as my own life permits or because of a lack somewhere in my life, I do not know. I’d like to think I’m honorable though. :)

The Paladin represents all that is good and decent in life. For me, they are the epitome of righteousness and good society. They uphold values that all should strive for in being decent with each other and with helping their fellow man (elf, dwarf, gnome, orc, troll, tauren, etc.)

So what about gameplay? Much like Siha, who started this shared blog, I like the survivability! Let me clarify this statement. I like survivability when it comes to PvE. I can’t survive a sneeze when it comes to PvP!!! Maybe that’s because I always get hit by at least four players in BGs, usually casters and rogues and NO ONE defends the healers.

When I first started playing the Paladin, I kept dying quickly, couldn’t do damage and had no clue as to what I was doing wrong. Then I discovered some of the Protection talents and found that although I couldn’t DPS to save my life, I could take a beating that could! I’ve since learned that a Paladin supposedly can do a fair amount of DPS, but I’ve never tried the Retribution talents so don’t know personally.

My current favorite thing to do is the Banish daily quest. I head north and take on as many of the various demons that I can. So far I can only aggro four and that’s tough because someone always thinks they’re helping and steals at least one. But I have aggro’ed four and then taken on the two humanoid spell-casters that wander around somewhere in the middle of my fight and survived! This all as a Holy Pally too!! I’m not sure why I get such a thrill out of doing this, but I do!

If you read my other blog, WoW Healers: Is there a more frustrating job?!, I make comment on how healing is a frustrating job. There’s nothing so fun like spamming Flash of Light during a fight and only watching the green bars of your party members! But as boring as that can be, I get a thrill out of being such an important support member when we succeed. What can I say? I enjoy healing.

Finally, the ability to wear plate! Plate armor just looks cool. Oh wait, we have Redemption Armor. /sigh. OK, so most of the epic armor for paladins leaves something to be desired, but generally speaking it makes your guy look that much bigger and badder.
Continue reading 'Blog Azeroth - Shared Topics #1'

Thursday, January 24, 2008

FIELD OF HONOR – A World of Warcraft Guild; Friends in the Making

I started playing WoW in June of 2007. It was primarily because of buying a new laptop for my wife. (See World of Warcraft Addiction.)Burning Crusade had recently come out and there was a lot of hype about it. Everyone was excited. I had never played and actually had never talked to anyone that had. I just didn’t see the point of paying for a game and then re-paying every month to keep playing. The whole concept still baffles me a little and I wonder if I would do this with any other MMORPG.

When people are asked why they play WoW perhaps the most common answer is the social aspect. I have nothing to base this on, but after reading several articles, talking to people within the WoW community, reading blogs, etc. this answer seems to be a very common one. Initially I didn’t really see the attraction. For the most part, I am a very private person. I have only a handful of people in my life that I would call friends and only one in my life that I truly consider a friend. But I have to admit that I have gained a few social bonds within the WoW community that I enjoy. Those social bonds are found with the guild community.

As stated, my first couple of months was spent soloing because I hadn’t really gotten into the social aspect of the game. I ended up joining a guild somewhere near level 20. The guild was brand new and didn’t have many people, but there were a couple of cool guys in it. Unfortunately the guild started to stagnate quickly and eventually I left to find another guild that could help out and that I could join for instances. I eventually found a larger guild that had quite a mix of players. I was actually impressed with the guild because the guild leader was maybe 14 and acted a lot more mature than I would have expected from someone that age. But the majority of the guild was refusing to get Burning Crusade and I was quickly approaching level 58. Although I debated leaving the guild, even though I still wasn’t extremely social within that one, I eventually left when a friend of mine invited me to FIELD OF HONOR.

Granted I’ve only now been in three guilds, but I have to say this is the BEST GUILD EVER! When I first joined there were maybe 6 members that were level 70. I wasn’t level 70, but ended up being the 7th or 8th to reach that. Generally speaking we average 70 members at any given time. Granted nearly everyone has at least one alt and there’s a couple that have several. I’ve never done a count of how many actual players there are in the guild. But that doesn’t matter considering it’s the quality and not the quantity of the guild. Sure we have aspirations towards raiding someday, but we can always join up with other guilds to do that.

The best thing about this guild is that the “Founders” and “Officers” generally have online personalities that coincide with mine. What do I mean? They are all very willing and ready to help anyone in the guild and even others that aren’t. But they resent those that are looking for handouts. We often have people join the guild thinking that they can ask every level 70 to help them with every quest, every instance, gold, equipment, enchantments, etc. I once had someone who had been in the guild two days ask if anyone could enchant his weapon with fiery enchant. I told him I could, but he’d have to provide the mats. He expressed his disappointment and without a word ended up leaving the guild about five minutes later. We all got a pretty good laugh out of that one!

As odd as it sounds and even though this may come out as sentimental drivel, I feel I’ve made four really good friends on WoW through FIELD OF HONOR and good friends with the rest of them. Because of that I look forward to playing WoW even more than I normally would. The game really is designed for the social environment and the guild is perhaps the best way to do that. I give thanks to all those in FIELD OF HONOR that make WoW that much better!
Continue reading 'FIELD OF HONOR – A World of Warcraft Guild; Friends in the Making'

World of Warcraft Addiction

If you scan the internet, especially blogs, for WoW addiction you will find some interesting opinions out there. [Edit: 1/25/08 - Read this interesting blog.] Here’s my take on it with my recent bout of WoW addiction.

Last Friday, my laptop went out. I took it back to Best Buy to have them look at it. I purchased it last April and so at least it’s covered by the protection plan. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but the guy thought it was due to the video card being burnt out. He then told me that if that’s gone the motherboard will have to be replaced. I’m an idiot when it comes to computers. The last time I felt caught up on the whole computer thing was when the Tandy 1000 was the computer of choice.

Well, Best Buy had to send the laptop back for repairs. I should get it back by the end of next week. I’ve actually managed to go a week without playing WoW. I deserve a medal! Actually it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. But I’ve had a crutch to lean on. Call of Duty 4!!! I also spent the time to finally complete Assassin’s Creed as well. Both are great games and diversions from WoW.

I never played a MMORPG before. Refused to purchase any game that required a monthly fee out of principle. Felt that I already paid the game, why keep paying? Anyway, I fell for it and wish I’d done it sooner. I have to admit that I’m one of the people spending about 4 hours a night and 8 hours/day on the weekends playing WoW.

How did I get addicted to WoW? My wife can’t figure it out and doesn’t understand the obsession. She also regrets that it was her idea to buy the game in the first place. We were at the store buying the laptop for her. I was looking around and saw the game and expressed mild curiosity about the game, mostly because the new expansion came out and I had read about the success Blizzard was having with it. I still couldn’t understand why anyone would pay a monthly fee though. Since my wife always has a guilty conscience whenever she spends money, she suggested I pick it up and play it for 30 days. I guess she didn’t think I’d get hooked! LOL! Her bad!

What is it that addicts me? Well originally it was the new experience of learning a class, getting talents, learning skills, upgrading weapons/armor, questing, exploring, etc. Now that I’m finally level 70, it’s about getting that blasted epic flying mount, getting to Karazhan, daily quests, and getting tier 4 armor. Eventually I want to get tier 6, but I need to remember to take baby steps. I kept trying to get tier 4, but wasn’t geared for it. Finally I got into the battlegrounds to get the Ornamented Gladiator’s Armor. I finally have all that. There are a couple of more items I’d like to get, but I think I burned myself out on the BGs for now.

So I’m addicted to WoW! But I don’t care! It’s my escape from the real world, helps me calm down after a rough day, and is something I thoroughly enjoy. I just need to remember; I have a family and need to spend time with them. As long as I’m able to find that balance, I should be OK. I’ve been able to cope without playing a little better than I thought I would, but I do miss it. Hopefully, I only have to endure this one more week. Maybe this was a good thing for me. Hopefully it will refresh me for when I get back. I have to admit that the last month was starting to get real repetitive and I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.

Anyway, Blizzard knows how to cater to my addiction and to everyone else’s apparently. Give us the satisfaction of working hard at something and we’ll keep coming back for more. I can’t wait until Wrath of the Lich King comes out!
Continue reading 'World of Warcraft Addiction'

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WoW: Healers. Is there a more frustrating job?!

Healers. Is there a more frustrating job out there?! I know everybody thinks that their job is the hardest in the group and I’m not saying they don’t have valid points. But take a moment to think about it.

Every group must have a healer. It’s a given. Unless you are a level 70 running a group through Deadmines, YOU NEED A HEALER!!! Every group will of course need a tank, dps, cc, etc., but you can vary this effectively based on the instance, quest, pvp, raid, gear, etc.

But really is there any more frustrating job?! The reason is because of the nature of the job. In order to be an effective healer, you MUST be spec’d and geared for it! This is to help minimize the problems that I will discuss below. Now I can’t speak for druids and priests having never played a druid and only having a priest alt that’s currently at level 9, but for paladins this means sacrificing a lot of other attractive options in order to make this happen. [I’m currently looking around the internet for advice on how to re-spec my holy paladin to be more effective at healing as well as increase my dps.] But all-in-all every class has to make sacrifices to do whatever their job is effectively, so this is a weak argument at best.

One issue is you really need to be someone that likes healing. There’s a certain thrill in healing a group that’s being pounded on and coming through it alive, but more often than not we’d all rather not have to deal with close calls. In those cases it becomes rather boring. The effective healer stays out of range and watches his/her aggro to keep from getting killed. In most cases, you don’t even watch the battle. Unlike many spells in which you have to face your target, healing requires only that you be within range. I generally miss most battles because I’m so focused on watching the parties’ health bars on the left side of my screen. For those of you not familiar with this concept, it’s really exciting watching the green bars go left and right for the duration of the battle. I can only equate it to watching paint dry. So again, you really do need to enjoy being the healer, whether it’s the praise afterwards, the excitement of pulling through on a difficult run, or just a personality thing, it’s important to enjoy.

The real frustration lies in the way healers are treated. You are everybody’s hero, when you perform. I’ve been praised for great heals for some of the dumbest situations. One day a few of us in our guild got an itch to take out a Fel Reaver in Hellfire. It might have been a quest for some, but I can’t remember anymore. All I remember is that I had wanted to take one out ever since I first got to Outland. They were so impressive back then! The fight ended up being a joke because of our druid tank. I believe I had to heal her with Flash of Light less than ten times and once was critically hit so I had to use Holy Light a couple of times. For whatever reason she was taking almost no damage and the others were doing a good amount of dps on the thing. Mostly I stood there and watched the thing fall, which was fun in itself! I got thanked for the heals, and rightly so, but I didn’t do anything special. I did my job. Bottom line, I got thanked because we survived.

When you don’t perform, you are everybody’s “whipping-boy” or “-girl”. You not performing doesn’t necessarily mean “you” specifically. More often than not this means the group. I’ve been in groups where the tank was so poorly geared that I couldn’t use Flash of Light to heal him because of the amount of damage he was taking. Each heal had to be Holy Light depleting my mana quickly and leaving the rest of the group to their own devices. Guess who got blamed? The healer was unable to keep up. I was poorly geared, not having enough bonus heal, mana regen, or mana in general. I wasn’t healing the rest of the group. So on and so forth. Bottom line, I got blamed because we wiped. There’s nothing more discouraging.

If you’re in a good group, it will be obvious to all that although the healer may need better gear or talents, that often the rest of the group needs better gear and talents as well, or even a new party dynamic. I was once in a group with one warrior tank and three hunters. We kept wiping on the second boss and they were getting very frustrated. I was finally asked to leave because I was under-geared. I’ll admit at the time I definitely was, but having three hunters in the party did nothing to help the situation. Our group dynamic was such that we didn’t have a range of effective damage and control for this boss. Following up later with the warrior, who is a friend of mine, the party never did get past the second boss even after replacing me.

Now it’s time to talk about the role of a PvP healer. As I have no experience with Arenas, my focus will be on battlegrounds. I am not an avid PvP fan. I don’t particularly like it for a number of reasons. First, it always seems like the Horde win 90% of the time. This probably isn’t true, but it sure seems like it. This makes battlegrounds a test of grinding patience. When I first started last Thanksgiving, I found that I could do well in Alterac Valley. The Alliance was winning about 75% of the time. I raked in the honor points averaging 500 each battle. It was new, it was fun, and definitely worth it! However, the other battlegrounds were miserable tests of patience just trying to get through the thing as quickly as possible to get my single mark, 150 honor points, and move to the next loss. It’s frustrating because I do not believe in AFKing a battleground. In my opinion, it is just cheating and unfair to the others. Thankfully, Blizzard is now taking steps to really rectifying the situation. We’ll just have to see if the new announcement works. Also, I can’t just sit there. I get bored quick. The only reason I even started battleground PvP was to get geared for tougher instances. I wasn’t able to effectively get gear in the instances I wanted to get into and the ones I could do, I already had the best or better gear . I needed something for the in-between to help me get the better PvE gear.

But being a healer in battlegrounds is even more frustrating than being a healer in other areas. Why? Because I believe that the hardcore PvP fan is also a complete @$$hole. This is a generalization and perhaps an unfair statement, but these guys like PvP because they are overly-competitive in nature, like to trash talk those they beat, love bragging rights, etc. Unless you succeed, you’ll get no thanks and often not even then. On the Alliance side [in Reckoning], we often fail in the battlegrounds and these guys are very vocal about it because of how quickly they get frustrated. The two largest complaints I see are that nobody knows what they are doing hence no coordination and the healers don’t heal anybody.

For the latter complaint, I can only say that it appears they are right. I always compare my healing points at the end of a battle against everyone else. Usually I’m in the top 10 overall and in the top 3 with Alliance. Unfortunately this means that up to 7 Horde will beat me out on healing. That’s extremely bad!

I believe there are three reasons for this. The first reason is their first complaint. There’s absolutely no coordination in most cases. This means healers are all over and not always in the right place. It also means that when the healers are in the right place, they don’t have the protection they deserve. The Horde seems to do a better job of targeting healers than the Alliance does. And Alliance, you guys don’t protect healers! I’ve been yelled at for not healing, but I’ll have a Rogue stunning me, a Warlock cursing me, a Mage hitting me with every DPS spell he’s got, and a Warrior kicking the crap out of me and not one single Alliance member trying to get them off of me!!!

This is the second reason. You have to protect your healers!!! If the Horde are taking them down faster than you can spit, then of course you won’t have the heals you need! I can’t believe I have to explain that logic, but I’ve had to on several occasions in battlegrounds. A few arguments lead to the ever favorite “You’re not geared properly”. This is where a healer has to be the bigger person. It’s very easy to decide not to heal that one guy who complained about your healing capabilities, but remember this is a group effort and even though it possibly won’t matter, it could cost you.

The third reason is often the Alliance doesn’t have enough healers. I’ve been in battlegrounds where we will have 7 paladins, 7 priests, and 7 druids in Alterac Valley, but more often than not we have 2 paladins, 2 priests, and a number of druids, but usually not healing spec’d. This varies from the time of day to the time of week though and is unpredictable.

No one likes to be the reason something failed. From time to time, it will be the healer’s fault, but more often than not there are contributing factors that lead to that failure. Whether it is poorly geared party members, poor group dynamic, inexperience in the quest, instance, or group, or pure dumb luck, just remember that there’s enough blame to go around. Learn from it and do what you can to prevent it the next time. Just don’t take it out on your healer, because one day he/she will get better and you’re going to need him/her.
Continue reading 'WoW: Healers. Is there a more frustrating job?!'

Monday, January 14, 2008

WoW: Asking someone to leave the party

Last night four members of my guild, including myself, along with another friend, attempted to complete the quest in Black Morass to gain the key to access Karazhan. Obviously I was the healer; we had a druid tank, two warriors, and a warlock. Unfortunately, it was taking an extremely long amount of time to take down the elites. As such, we were unable to effectively control the swarm of adds that kept appearing through the portals. I believe we only made it to the 6th round before Medivh succumbed to his “mortal coil”.

Eventually, one of the warriors stepped out and allowed another DPS warrior to step in to assist. We tried again with no success, although we started to take down the elites a little faster. Running a damage meter showed that the warlock was at 2% of the total damage, only remaining from the bottom because I was at zero (something I jokingly complain about; they make me feel better by running the heal meter).

What came next I’m sure is a classic problem with guild groups throughout WoW; how do we ask someone to leave?

The first obstacle was that all of us needed to complete the quest. The warrior from our guild volunteered to leave, provided when we were done that we would help him later. That’s when the DPS warrior from our guild joined. When it still wasn’t working, the next obstacle was that the warlock was not performing effectively as a DPS like the group needed.

I had previously tried this with others from our guild that included a mage who was very good at DPS, but hadn’t completed the quest due to a time constraint. We wanted to invite him to help as he had done extremely well with the adds last time. But how to ask the warlock to leave? Finally after beating around the bush and not getting anything accomplished, I finally decided to be the bad guy; this was after several hints about replacing either the warlock or another in the party. I told the warlock to not take it personally, but that we really needed to ask the mage to come and we’d get her back in once completed.

Why are we compelled to say “don’t take this personally” when we already know that they are going to take it personally? I felt stupid saying that, but couldn’t stop myself.
Well, we got the warlock to leave and invited the mage. We ended up making it to round 12 or 13, but didn’t get past that. Our party make-up was now better, but we still didn’t get the deed done. We all decided to try again next Sunday.

After leaving the instance, we headed back to repair and figure out what to do next. We ran into the warlock in the bank and she and I began a conversation. She felt really bad. Some of the comments were that she didn’t have the DPS that she should have. She should think about re-spec’ing and do something different. None of these comments were negative; however under the given circumstances they weren’t well received.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know the first thing about warlocks, except that they kick my butt in BGs all the time. I can’t stand all the afflictions they cast on me to beat me down. I can usually survive it, but it’s the warrior and rogue standing next to them that finish me off. So I’m definitely not the guy to be asking for advice when it comes to how to play a warlock and I told her so. I also couldn’t give any advice on how to spec. I was a protection pally for the longest time and struggled with making that work. When I finally did start to get somewhat good at it, I switched to holy to fill a need. Although I like being a healer, I definitely miss being a tank. My advice; spec to how you like to play. Don’t spec to what people tell you. It will eventually destroy your own enjoyment of the game. That’s not to say don’t be afraid to try new things. If you don’t like it…switch back.

Needless to say, she was embarrassed, upset, hurt, etc. I tried really hard to make her feel better. I told her that it wasn’t her fault. Although we were able to get further, we still didn’t finish. There were other factors including inadequate gear, additional DPS problems, party make-up, and inexperience with the instance. She was still pretty hard on herself and we all felt bad. I think I may have done some damage control to at least keep her from leaving the guild. I also shared the experience I had when still fairly new with the guild. I’d only been in the guild for about a month. I grouped up with the tanking druid from our party and another tanking warrior from our guild. There were two hunters in the group and we were in one of the Coilfang instances. I don’t remember which anymore. Anyway, we were trying to get past the second boss and it was impossible. I was eventually blamed for not having the proper gear and I’ll admit that I was trying to be the healer with half protection and half retribution gear. However, I didn’t feel it was my entire fault because I had completed the same instance the night before with an entirely different group and we didn’t have one wipe. Actually, if I remember correctly we finished the instance in about an hour.

Anyway, in this particular instance, the druid spent a lot of time trying to make me feel better. We became pretty good friends about this because she felt bad for me and was a little upset with how the other two non-guildmates handled it. We still joke about our "sucky" armor to this day. Our other guildie also felt extremely bad as they were his friends. I’ll admit that I was offended and upset about being asked to leave, however I knew I’d get over it as well. It’s just a game after all and I wasn’t going to let a couple of jerks ruin it for me. This was the driving force behind me entering the BGs and going for the epic gear, but I’ll save that for another time.
So how do you handle a situation where you have to ask someone to leave? I don’t know that I know the answer to this as each situation is different, but I hope with respect and concern about how the recipient will take being asked to leave.

How do you handle being asked to leave? I hope with respect and concern about how the others feel about asking you to leave. Sure there will always be the jerks who could care less about how you feel and to them I say "Grow up!", but I believe the average person will be very uncomfortable asking you and will genuinely feel bad about the whole thing. Try to use the experience to learn where you can improve for yourself. Don't worry about what they think you need to improve and I think you'll come out with a better look on the situation.
I'm curious to hear how you feel about both sides of the story from you.
Continue reading 'WoW: Asking someone to leave the party'

Starting up...

I've not been one for blogs. Heck, I still don't know what that means! But since playing World of Warcraft, I have spent a little time searching for tips on how to play my Holy Paladin. I've seen some really interesting blogs regarding WoW and some really bad ones. I hope mine is not one of the latter.

This is my attempt to create a blog about something I enjoy. Continue reading 'Starting up...'