Things I didn’t know about myself


I just had the last raid of WotLK I will ever have and it spawned some introspection on my part.  There are things that I simply never knew about myself that I’ve started to really see now.

1.  I’m a raiding snob.  Okay, that isn’t something I didn’t know, but I’m -really- a raiding snob, more so than I ever knew.  Lack of progression sparks in me so many negative emotions that I finally have to realize that I’m one of “those people.”  I used to think of myself as one of the level-headed types who supports people going with the the flow, that I would be happy in any raiding group where I could play with my friends.  This is utter delusion on my part.  Not being at the edge of progression, even at such a time as this, makes me filled with discomfort that turns into disappointment and rage if too much time goes by.  It has even gotten to the point where I have started feeling that internal discomfort if other groups who I -do not raid with- are not as progressed as I feel they should be.  Clearly, that is insane.  Why should I care?  Yet for some reason, I do.

2.  I’m a healing snob.  Again, not a big surprise, but it is again the sheer point that it is at that startles me.  My brain gets locked in the spiral of “you are in ilevel 277 gear and I am in ilevel 251 gear on an alt, I should not be out healing you!” and becomes unable to escape.  When I see people doing things that are sub-optimal, my gut becomes a roiling pit of unhappiness.  Again, even if I am not raiding with them!  Why should I care if someone is doing things crazily wrong if they are raiding on another server that I will never play on?  More insanity on my part.

3.  If they came out with an MMO that had a healing class that crouches behind big blocks, out of LoS of the boss, and healed using a sniper rifle, I would be the happiest gamer -ever.-  I really love sniper rifles.

4.  Writing novels is really hard and I now know that I would never want to do so for a living.  I used to get all dreamy with the thought of becoming a real novelist, thinking about how great it would be to do it for a living, but in doing NaNoWriMo I have seen that it is all about slogging through a mucky middle that you simply do not want to write.  I’m going to finish it, because it is way too late to give up, but I am not enjoying doing so.

5.  Being a cyborg sounds really neat.  I’d totally sign up for it.

6.  Going along with that, I think I may hate “gut feelings” more than anything else in the world.  Using “gut feelings” to make any sort of decision is so bizarre and unnecessary that it makes me sigh.  There are facts out there if you look!  Use those!  Your brain is a million times more intelligent than your gut, so you should be using that to make decisions.  If I became a cyborg, then my “guts” would be metal and full of computers.  I can support that.

7.  I have a love affair with logic.  …which is slightly ironic, now that I think about it.

8.  I shouldn’t blog early in the morning before work.  It makes posts like this come out.

I’m staying on top of the healing game for Cataclysm, finally.  I’ll have some things to say about it soon-ish, I’m thinking, especially about the absolutely rotten state of Mastery at all raiding levels.  (Seriously, what were they thinking?)  Stay tuned!


Huh, that wasn’t what I expected


Hi, guys!  Just checking in to let you know that my NaNoWriMo is still going strong and that it is almost certain now that I’ll be back to raiding come expansion.  Be prepared for number crunching galore.

Speaking of, I’ve been playing the druid quite a bit and I was very surprised to see how little healing has changed.  I was frankly expecting a real difference, given what I had been reading from other people.  There has been so much anger at the changes, with people quitting the game or changes mains, but…  Well, it really is almost totally the same!  In fact, the first night I came back, I had a conversation with another non-Tree about it and we agreed that it is almost exactly like T9 with a dose of old, old school added in.  There I was, rolling RJ like always (my internal timing was whacky, though, I’ll admit!).  Really, the only change has been that I replaced my Nourish button with RG, which made me laugh.  It was as if WotLK never happened, as if it was TBC that was leading into this new expansion!  I suppose I’m slightly more thoughtful about who gets my SM now, but just barely.  It has always been my favorite spell.

On the shaman front, -really- nothing has changed!  I just walked in and went to town.  Well, I suppose I’ve replaced LHW usage with HW, but that’s just such a minor change that it isn’t worth noting.

It will be at least a month before I think of touching the priest or the paladin, as I need time to get back into the healing swing of things on these two.  Frankly, I’m not looking forward to logging onto my paladin and seeing how things are now.  She was my pride and my main focus for so long that I almost want to leave her enshrined in my memory, undefiled by change.  We’ll see, we’ll see…


I’m not dead! …but my computer was…


I finally have my computer working again (2 months later!), but still no WoW on it.  Most likely I will be back to playing WoW late this month or on Dec 1.  Why the delay?  NaNoWriMo, but of course!  Until then, I shall continue to play my new healer from Dragon Age.  Yes, more Dragon Age and more healers…  I am so utterly predictable.



My expansion plans…


…are still up in the air.  Let me tell you why, shall I?

– Money.  This one can’t really be overcome by any sort of will on my part.

– I really dislike the gutting of paladin healing.  In an effort to make mana more important, they’ve reduced a lot of the fun of it.  Instead of making the pure regen stat more tempting, they’re just getting rid of anything that would give paladins a reason not to take it.  They didn’t make Spirit more tempting, they just got rid of any choice we had not to take it.  They’re using a “stick” method in place of a “carrot” one.  Why not instead give paladins some of what Holy priests or Tree druids have?  If Spirit gave paladins more spellpower, then it would be an interesting choice between that and crit.    Both would be combination regen/throughput stats, only in different ways, giving paladins more to think about when gearing.  Instead, they’ve decided to make crit a purely throughput stat now.  They tried to force paladins to take MP5 before, but we resisted because passive regen is -boring.-

– Because of the last point, I’d be tempted to switch mains again, but doing so is a big pain.  It would be my fourth main (1 in Vanilla, 1 in TBC, 1 in WotLK, 1 in Cataclysm) and that’s just too much restarting for my tastes.  Ugh.

– My faith in Blizzard as a company has really fallen since 2008 when Activision came into the picture.  There is a marked difference in direction since that time, which I just don’t approve of.  I’m tempted not to continue giving them my money as a way of expressing my opinion of the change in business practices.

– I don’t like guilds, but not being in one for raiding would be idiotic, considering how many perks are going to be given to guilds.  Not to mention that people will want my epic to go towards their guild achievement.

Logically, these reasons would lead me to not continue on in the expansion.  The problem is that I want to be with my friends, experience the new content and have fun roleplaying in the chaos.  I still have some time to decide what I plan to do, but not too much time at this rate.


3+ birds with one stone/post


I just finished up what can only loosely be considered a phone post with O over at her blog.  Several things were touched on that I’ll probably talk about more in depth later.  Pardon the extreme rambling!


Business and privilege


Due to some real life things going on, I’m not playing WoW at the current moment, but I figure I’ve seen/done enough in the game to keep my blog open until I can start playing again.  Also, I wasn’t going to write about this.  I really wasn’t, but I had some thoughts on the matter that I wanted to share.

– Why bring it up? –

There have been some very interesting posts on representation of minorities in WoW recently (mostly focusing on women) and I’ve mostly steered away from the conversation, other than just a comment here or there.  This isn’t because it’s a topic I don’t care about, far from it.  It is simply one that I feel deeply about and that I know will make me bemoan how some people “just don’t get it” or cry about the “generation of selfishness.”  Anyone who reads my blog at all regularly knows that I do not as a rule like getting emotions involved in discussions.  Turning a topic into a matter of feelings is the surest way to make an argument into a fight.  Therefore, I’m going to do my utmost best to make myself clear and as emotionally neutral as I can.  Also, this might not flow as well as might be expected, so I apologize in advance for my disjointed writing process here.

– On the question of privilege –

In college, I took many different courses discussing racism in the modern world and one of the things that often happened was that non-minority students often derailed the conversation towards their own feelings.  What often happens at those times is that the marginalized minority ends up having to explain themselves to the privileged group and sometimes even end up apologizing for hurting the privileged person’s feelings.  As a friend of mine would say, “we are not required to educate you about your own privilege.”  Some people don’t mind answering questions, but that does not mean that every marginalized person should be required to and that those that don’t are angry or unreasonable.

Does privilege exist?  Interestingly enough, being able to question whether you have it is how you -know- you have it.  And there are various levels of it.  A white, straight woman has privilege compared to a black, straight woman and they both do compared to a black lesbian.  Western society is like a Venn diagram of “-isms,” with those falling into the fewest categories being the ones that generally raise the most objections about an action being due to an “-ism.”  I was reminded of this fact while reading some of the posts regarding Blizzard’s record with feminism; the ones saying they weren’t offended and thought others were overreacting seemed to be those who only fell under one or less “-isms.”

Privilege is an interesting thing because it is most regularly invisible to members inside a given society.  The fact that I am more likely to be attacked walking down the street than a man is just a logical given to my mind.  That is just the way it is to me.  Someone coming from a different society might be shocked at that fact and point it out as a symptom of the man’s privilege.  And that person would be correct.

The question then becomes whether privilege is also part of WoW.  Of course it is!  The people who make it have the Venn diagram of “-isms” as an ingrained part of their upbringing.  So, too, do the players.  As my old professor would say, “anyone who grew up in a racist society -is- racist, no matter the color of their skin.”  Therefore, because people who grew up in a sexist/racist/heteronormative society have created WoW, the game must be expected to contain traces of those traits.  It is then up to the people who interact with WoW (creators and players both) to go about rooting out those traces, just as they would with any other aspect of their lives.

– WoW the game, Blizzard the business –

“But it’s just a game, go work to change something important.”  WoW as, according to this article here, over 11.5 million subscribers.  -More- than the population of Cuba.  Moreover, it has direct contact with children.  How, exactly, is working to reduce the “-isms” in a media source that is so incredibly massive somehow not a worthy use of time?  Even if the “-isms” are slight, if even .01% of their player base notices it and thinks there is a problem with it, then it should be addressed.

Which brings me to the business side of things.  Many people have discussed the victory fountain that is created when the Lich King is killed on a server for the first time and whether it having all male figures is sexist.  It is an excellent example to use here to show the balance between cost of ignoring privilege and cost of addressing it.  By not addressing the real-world privilege in having all male figures in the fountain, the cost was in upsetting feminist and possibly losing subscribers.  Seeing as designing the fountain with a female figure would have cost them nothing extra (the monetary cost of designing a female figure being the same as a male one), the company suffered a “net loss.”  Seeing as no reputable company -ever- wants the public to see them as intentionally falling into an “-ism,” this is obviously an oversight.   Management is there to keep such “net losses” from occurring and they simply failed to see this one.

A few sidebars on the fountain issue should be made.  One, drawing a comparison between the being the lack of female figures and the lack of, say, Nightelves is an obvious misdirection.  Sexism is a real-world issue that should be addressed by the real-world company of Blizzard.  Nightelf-ism is not.  Second, Azeroth is not the modern world, but the players and designers -are- part of the modern world.  If Azeroth were to be more medieval as a setting as far as gender relations go, Blizzard would make that an apparent, obvious part of the lore.  A designer does not go about creating gender disparity by being lazy; that is just a bad business practice.  By allowing female characters the opportunity to do all of the heroic things male characters do with -no negative repercussions,- any details that fall into the “-isms” are obviously unintentional and not design choices.

– I should not be expected to fix your (real-life) stupid. –

Ophelie listed me as a “hardcore female player” on her blog, amongst a list of feminist posts and other strong women.  To be perfectly honest, I feel a bit uneasy about it.  Not because of the whole “hardcore vs casual” shindig, but because I do things that other feminist bloggers would probably not approve of.  For example, to address one of the things she talks about in that post, I do not talk on PuG vents.  Allow me to tell you a story.

Koralon had just come out, so I decided to PuG him to try for PvP gear on my priest.  Seeing as I had already done it once each on my paladin and my druid, I hopped onto the PuG vent all ready to explain the fight and organize the healers.  (No one ever organizes the healers in my PuGs unless I do, it seems…)  I believe I got as far as “hi, this is Nikkal here.”  There were a few “omg hi” people and then someone piped up with “you sound just like a cam girl.”  My jaw dropped as the rest of vent seemed to agree with him and they decided to call me that for the rest of the run.  Trying to keep control of myself, I asked them to please not call me that and went about doing healing assignments.  They persisted in ignoring me on both counts.  It didn’t take long before I simply stopped talking.

That one story is why I don’t talk on PuG vents as a rule.  Just as it shouldn’t be required of me to tell you about your own privilege, it also shouldn’t be required of me to stand up and put myself out there for the sake of feminism.  I should not have to “step up and take control” and subject myself to idiotic people in an effort to help them change.  It is -their- place to change and treat me like a normal human being.  That, to me, is real feminism.


Divine Wine #2


I tried some sweeter wines this time around!

– Kikkoman Plum Wine ($10) –

I first had some of this little beauty when out for Japanese and was surprised that this actually tastes even better to me than my usual Gekkeikan Plum Wine, despite being less expensive.  It is very much a dessert wine and is best served cold, straight out of the fridge.  The taste is light on the tongue, which is hard to find in good sweet wines.  Refreshing is another word I would use, perfect as the finish to a meal.  But don’t doubt it, it is -sweet.-  As it warms up, it isn’t nearly as good, so I suggest small glasses of this at a time while you keep the bottle in either the fridge or in an ice bucket.  No webpage for this one, since I can’t find it!

– Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato 2009 ($11.99 for a double bottle) –

Since I had such a big bottle of this, I got to have several different times to sit down and try this.  I kept going back and forth between “hate this” and “it’s okay.”  What I can say about this one is that it is -picky.-  It only likes to be sipped without any sort of food.  And it has to be in small sips!  After 1 minute sitting outside the fridge!  If you don’t follow these exact things (and probably get a bit of luck), it really is a pretty terrible wine.  The sweetness can be delicate if you drink it in exactly the correct manner, with an interesting palate to it.  However, if you don’t treat it in the exact manner it wants, a strong bitterness comes out which just combines horribly with the sweetness.  Personally, I won’t be getting this one again.  The website for this one can be found here.

– Marcus James Merlot 2006 (2 for $7) –

The deal on this was way too good to pass up.  I didn’t hope for something terribly good, just something moderately drinkable.  Probably the first thing I noticed was that the nose on this is rather vinegar.  Merlot wine in general tends towards the stronger and darker, so I won’t let the nose throw me completely off.  Well, okay, it is pretty off-putting considering that it is ever-present in this wine.  There are elements to this that are quite tolerable, but that vinegar is really sticking with it.  It makes me think that this didn’t age well at all.  With each sip I take, it becomes more apparent that… well, I’m not going to buy this again.  I’ll try my other bottle before marking off the entire brand, though.  It’s just too good a deal to completely write it off.


Dealing with the Deplorable Drape


Alliteration is fun!  Kurn and I had been talking about this a bit and I thought I’d post about it.

– Why the Drape of the Violet Tower is mediocre –

First off, this is obviously written for healadins, but shaman can get on this boat as well, as the gearing needs of shaman tend to closely resemble those of healadins these days, at as far as back slot goes.  The Drape of the Violet Tower is the cloak purchased with 50 Emblems of Frost.  The stats on it are crit/MP5 and the socket color is blue.

The main problem with this cloak is that both crit and MP5 are considered regen stats, both of which are undesirable.  The truly desirable stat is that our throughput stat of haste, which is what we gear towards, is completely missing from this piece.  I am going with the generally accepted stat weighting of:  INT > haste > crit and MP5  There will be some light use of numbers to explain ways to work around or work with this item.

– Solution #1:  Avoid it –

It is important to point out that ilevel is generally -not- an important element to gearing for healadins if the stats are not optimal.  The loss of some INT is worth keeping the correct itemization on a lower ilevel cloak.  There are some quite acceptable alternatives to this piece at varying levels of difficulty.  I will write out the loss/gains of choosing each alternative.  Also, I am trying to list them in order of “best alternative to weakest alternative,” but all of these can be considered instead of the Drape.

Cloak of the Burning Dusk (-30 MP5, +4 INT, +4 crit, +7 SP, + 64 haste, yellow socket for +5 SP):  Obviously, this is the best bet of cloaks.  You’ll have to fight every other caster out there for it, but Halion-25 is puggable in this day and age.  It might take a few weeks, but getting this cloak is doable with some patience.  (Heroic: -30 MP5, +14 INT, +13 crit, +21 SP, +73 haste, yellow socket for +5 SP)

Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape (-30 MP5, +8 crit, +52 haste):  This cape comes from Valithria-25 and used to be the best caster cloak.  Since the release of Halion and his cloaks, this one might be easier to get.  Healadins also have a leg-up on getting this boss down in a PuG, since we are so useful for the fight.  Any PuG that can clear the first four ICC bosses should be able to get this encounter finished no problem.  (Heroic:  -30 MP5, +9 INT, +16 crit, +13 SP, +60 haste)

Abduction’s Cover (-6 MP5, -4 INT, -52 crit, -6 SP, +57 haste):  This cape off Halion-10 is a great example of why ilevel means so little compared to itemization.  Despite the slightly lower ilevel is it quite obvious that this cloak is superior to the Drape.  Again, PuGs for this are not terribly hard to find.  With some time and some lucky rolls, this is quite the nice upgrade.  (Heroic: -2 MP5, +4 INT, -52 crit, +7 SP, +64 haste)

Heartsick Mender’s Cape (-3 MP5, -8 INT, -52 crit, -12 SP, +45 haste):   Compared to the first three options, this cloak off of Princes-10 is a little light on the haste, but is still an excellent choice.  This encounter might be harder on PuGs than some others, but it is at the least available to strict 10-man groups.  And yes, despite the lower ilevel this is a far and away better choice than the Drape.  The hardmode version is even better, if you can get your hands on it.  (Heroic:  -52 crit, +52 haste)

Pennant Cloak (-30 MP5, -23 INT, -18 crit, -33 SP, +42 haste):  People hate to hear it, but this Sarth+2 25-man cloak is actually generally better than the Drape.  That -23 INT is a bit hard to bear, but the gain of haste makes up for it.  Point for point, this cloak is going to yield better results than even the ilevel 245 listed below.

Flowing Sapphiron Drape (-30 MP5, -15 INT, -2 crit, -8 SP, +35 haste, -socket):  The loss of the socket on this is a major “ouch.”  The total INT loss with that socket would be -35 INT, so it is important to look at the rest of your gear before grabbing this off of Onyxia-25.  Do you have at least 675 haste?  Do you have enough regen on other items?  Generally, if you answer “no” to the first question, this is a better choice than the Drape.  If you answered “yes” to the first, then the second question is one you might have to play around with to figure out.

– Solution #2: Work with it –

It is possible to use the Drape if you are careful to cover the item’s weaknesses elsewhere.  Generally, a healadin can get away with a single slot without haste if we take the time to compensate elsewhere.  This really only works if the Drape is the only piece of crit/MP5 gear you are using.  The use of any other crit/MP5 piece upsets the balance too much to make this a viable solution.

Gearing changes:  A way to work with the extra load of regen from the Drape is to replace 2-3 haste/MP5 items with haste/crit items.  It is important to do this -only- with slots where switching would yield either more haste or equal haste.  For example, switching your Mail of Crimson Coins to Meteor Chaser’s Raiment.

Consumables:  Switch your food to either Imperial Manta Steak or Very Burnt Worg.  The 40 haste from either of these choices is really the way to go for healadins.  (Dare I say that all healadins should be using these, regardless!)  A more costly change, but one that should seriously be considered by anyone wanting to use the Drape, is to switch from using a flask to using two elixirs.  The two best choices for elixirs would be Elixir of Lightning Speed (45 haste) and Elixir of Mighty Thoughts (45 INT).  The haste gain is great and the INT elixir will help make up for losing the 65 INT from the Flask of Distilled Wisdom that all healadins should be using.  (Pardon me while I yell at myself for not doing so 100% of the time, too.)

Gemming:  I do -not- suggest switching any INT gems to haste gems.  If you are running so low on haste that gemming for it becomes a consideration, then you shouldn’t be using the Drape at all.  Likewise, there isn’t a metagem that will make up for the loss of haste, so just stick with your IED.

– Blizzard hates good itemization –

They pretty much always have.  The question is how to deal with what they give you.  While working around the Drape of the Violet Tower is possible, most people are going to find that simply avoiding the thing will take far less time and effort.  Of course, part of the reason I bothered to write this all out is so that Kurn will no longer tease me for using it myself.  But hey, using it thoughtfully and balancing out the weaknesses is okay.  Using it just because it’s there, without thinking about it, is what causes issues.  Remember, higher ilevel does not mean automatic upgrade.


Divine Wine #1


No, I’ve not gone anywhere.  I do feel that I need some levity after all the fuss, so I’ve decided to start a brand new series of posts.

– …what? –

One of the things I’m most known for in my raiding circle is the fact that I drink wine at every raid.  Cheap wine and in quantity.  Usually from a box!  Wine has become such a major part of my “raiding ritual” that those nights where I can’t just don’t seem to sit well with me.  It helps that I -really- love wine, I guess, and I really love buying new and exciting bottles of the stuff just to try out.  Seeing as it is such a large part of my raiding experience, I figured I’d get my thoughts down on some of my discoveries.

Generally, I prefer white wines (which is unusual amongst wine drinkers, I hear), but I do like to experiment with reds as well.  Rosé wines (blushes) tend to be reserved for when my goal is to really drink.  Okay, my goal is to always really drink, but when it is less about taste and more about quantity, I break out the rosé.  Nothing says “I had a rough day” more than breaking out a box of Franzia Sunset Blush!  You probably won’t ever see me review a spumante or other wine with bubbles, as for some reason it makes me royally ill, even just a single glass.  It sucks at special occasions, believe me.

As far was the boxed wine goes…  For as long as I can remember, my mother has kept a box of Franzia Merlot in her cupboard, pouring herself a glass from it every night.  It is the first wine I ever tasted and getting to share her daily glass with her was the first truly adult thing I was able to do as a teenager.  I laugh along with everyone else when they make fun of me for it, but it is so much a part of history that even if I didn’t love wine for its own sake, I’d still love my boxed wine.

– Barefoot Merlot 2009 ($5.95) –

Okay, I just had to start with the cheapest bottle I could find.  And it’s a surprisingly decent wine.  The flavor is rich and fruity, but my favorite part (the part that makes is so easy to drink) is that the tannins are very smooth for such a cheap wine.  My major problem with most red wines tends to be that they have a bitter finish to them or too sharp of a nose.  But this bottle quite happily doesn’t suffer from that.  Even for a white wine drinker like myself, it is smooth to drink.  It really is surprising how enjoyable this was, considering the price.  I enjoyed it more than some more costly reds I’ve had.  You can find their website here for more information.

– Little Chica Malbec 2008 ($11.95) –

This is probably the third or fourth malbec I’ve ever tried and while I know that Argentinian varieties have less robust tannins, I was really unimpressed with this wine.  The richness is really lacking in this and the tannins are just really, really understated.  For a red wine, the taste was very lacking.  It isn’t a bad wine, but it is terribly bland to me.  It was almost as if it was cut with a small amount of water, it was so bland.  I personally can’t recommend this, even as a budget wine.  You can find their website here, though.

– More coming soon! –

I don’t know why, but the idea of doing this on a weekly basis just make me happy.  See you guys after the next couple of bottles!


I’m sorry for any hurt feelings


My previous posts were never meant to be insulting to anyone.  I’m sorry if I hurt any feelings or angered anyone.  It was not my intent.  Please accept my apologies if I caused any sort of distress.