Sometimes RL has to take priority

It seems there are a lot of bloggers stopping blogging, and even quitting WoW. In my own guild I see a lot of people taking their summer breaks, and other people getting bored with the game and playing less or taking a break.

Personally, I’m still here, and I’m still enjoying World of Warcraft. I’ve levelled my little baby Mage to 55, and I’m still enjoying blasting stuff, although she is still very squishy if anything gets close enough to hit her! I’m also still enjoying running Heroics with my Druid, who is pretty much permanently Boomkin these days, despite my initial misgivings. She’s still predominately in Resto gear, and her +hit leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s a fun way to spend the evenings 🙂 Thankfully my group of friends in game are still enjoying running Heroics, and I’m hoping that enthusiasm only gets more intense with the arrival of 3.2 this week 🙂

I’m not getting as much playtime as I’d like, and that’s probably the main reason this blog hasn’t been updated recently. Work is crazy busy at the moment – we’re in the middle of a major restructure and I’m having to fill out a nightmare application form to attempt to remain employed. This is seriously eating into my WoW time, but at the end of the day, it’s a short-term thing to ensure I can continue to pay the subscription, so it’s well worth the investment of time.

The deadline for submitting my form is tomorrow, so I intend to celebrate with a lot of WoW 🙂 3.2 is arriving at just the right time 🙂

Is it me, or is it Ulduar?

I’m taking a break from raiding.

It just kind of happened. I’d been enjoying the raiding, and had started taking a bit more responsibility in terms of running the healing assignments.  My guild were regularly clearing Naxx10, and could pretty much clear Naxx25. With the 3.1 patch we headed in to Ulduar10, and started making good progress.

And then it just stopped being fun. And I can’t work out if it’s me, or if it’s Ulduar. But at the moment I don’t feel any motivation to raid at all.

I’ve been enjoying the Argent Tournament, and have managed to gain my “Crusader” title. And I’ve been running a lot of Heroics with a group of friends, which is a blast. Scarily I’m now predominantly a Moonkin, and starting to feel like I’m making a useful dps contribution. In fact, I thought I might be needed to heal the group on one occaision recently, and felt quite disappointed. What a turnaround!

I’m also dabbling around with a small troop of alts, but haven’t really set my heart on any perticular one to take to 80. I’ve got a Rogue, Mage and Warlock all sitting at 44 (thank you, Recruit-a-Friend), a 61 DK, and a very low level Priest and Shaman. The Big Red Kitty baby hunter guide videos on ProjectLore inspired me to start a Hunter, and she’s really fun.

I’m certainly still finding plenty of things to keep me busy. And I’m not missing the raiding at all. At the moment. I don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s Ulduar. And it’s not bad. It’s just different 🙂

No Robots for the Euros

Over in the US, Mountain Dew have launched a new WoW-themed drink. Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel is now available in Horde and Alliance flavours, and alongside it is a website with things to do to earn tokens with which to buy prizes.

Although not yet confirmed, it’s highly likely that one of the prizes you can get from this is an in-game pet. It looks like the 3.1.2 patch will introduce two new pets – a little robot available in both red and blue. It looks suspiciously like you’ll be able to get yourself one of these pets by participating in the Mountain Dew promotion…

… as long as you live in the US. I just tried to register for the Gamer Fuel website to see what it was all about, and as part of the registration you have to enter your address. When I tried to log on to the website I was told I was not able to participate, as the promotion is only available to “legal US residents”.

*sigh*

This disappoints me. It seems unfair, when World of Warcraft is a global game, for this kind of thing to only be available in the US.

Where’s the love for all the other WoW players?

A Reinstall Helps

I’ve not blogged much recently, which is partially due to the fact I’ve been getting very frustrated in game. This is mostly to do with the terrible performance I’ve been getting out of my PC and Internet connection in the last few weeks. I’ve experienced times in game where I’ve been getting only 1 or 2 frames per second, whilst my hard drive thrashed and thrashed.

It was most frustrating when trying to do the Argent Tournament dailies – to be getting the better of a Champion, only to have my machine lock up for long enough for him to shield-break and charge me into oblivion was making me very cross.

I’ve got a savings scheme maturing in June, and so I resolved to use some of the money to buy myself a new PC. But when my husband and I started investigating what was available I discovered that I actually have a pretty good spec PC. It’s only a couple of years old, and is a Core2 Duo processor, plus I got a brand new Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 graphics card at Christmas. So I’d be spending a lot of money for not much of an upgrade. It didn’t seem a sensible thing to do…

So we bought me a new hard drive, and I used that to install Vista from scratch, keeping my old hard drive as a data drive so that I didn’t lose anything. I hate reinstalling PCs. There are always so many little “tweaks” that I make and forget how I did, and I have to dig around and find everything out again. Moving the iTunes library around is fiddly (but thankfully not impossible), and it was only after several days that I realised that I needed to dig out my password manager data file. Times like those I’m glad I kept the old hard drive intact!

Once the reinstall was complete everything started off well, and WoW was much better, but after only a couple of days I had some more problems with WoW. I exited the game one night, and my computer locked up completely. I wasn’t happy with this with a clean fresh install, so the only thing left to do was reinstall WoW. So I downloaded the client from the Blizzard website, and for the first time since I rolled on the EU servers a year and a half ago, I installed WoW cleanly from scratch. I removed all my addons, and logged in to see if it made much of a difference.

It has made a HUGE difference! My loading times are much improved, and even though most of my addons have snuck their way back in, I’m still getting great performance. Most importantly smooth loading with no grinding to a halt to hammer at the hard drive. So I can now best the Champions once more (usually), and my enjoyment of the game has come back 🙂

Two Trees

Things have been quiet on this blog recently, which is due to the amount of fun I am having with Patch 3.1, and in particular the Argent Tournament. As soon as I saw the list of non-combat pets available I wanted them, and of course the first one I wanted was my own little pet tree.

Isn’t he cute? He dances and sleeps, just like me!

Children’s Week

There’s been a lot of commentary regarding the Children’s Week achievements, and I don’t have much to add. I didn’t complete the meta-achievement, and the one achievement that prevented me from doing so was “School of Hard Knocks”. Unlike a lot of people, I already have incomplete World Event achievements, so that Proto-Drake is never going to be mine. Thus I didn’t even try to complete this one.

This particular PVP requirement was always going to bring out the worst in people. There are stories of people co-operating to get it done, and other stories of people deliberately setting out to kill anyone with an orphan out on the Battlegrounds. Personally, I have no idea how the Battlegrounds work, I don’t know where to go or what to do to “cap” or return a flag, and I wasn’t going to start now. One very kind Guildie who knows more about PVP than I do did very kindly offer to run me through the Battlegrounds and “show me the ropes”, but now that my playtime is more limited I have far more things I’d rather be doing with my online time. But the offer was very much appreciated 🙂

Perhaps my lack of Merrymaker title allowed me to be a little more relaxed about this one. I felt hugely frustrated at Christmas-time when I did fail to achieve the title. The main cause of frustration was the PVP element, which I did try for. So I do sympathise with all those who tried and failed for this one.

I do think, however, that if Blizzard were to remove the requirement for School of Hard Knocks it would make this World Event achievement trivially easy. Nothing else in here was difficult or time consuming, unlike the others. It could all be completed within a few hours. I suppose I am lucky in that I am a member of a guild that runs instances quite a lot, and I managed to join an Utgarde Pinnacle group that blasted through on Normal mode just to get the achievement. I’m sure some people found that one as difficult as I find the PVP.

I will still like Blizzard to find some way of making some of these achievements not require PVP. I’ll reiterate again the suggestion made by Renata on the World of Warcast podcast – how about making it a requirement to complete all but one of the achievements, allowing those who don’t want to PVP to skip the PVP one, and those who can’t PVE to skip the instance one? It seems that Blizzard are trying to make the World Event achievements span the whole range of WoW content, and there are a lot of players who do not want to experience that whole range!

Is this the end for WoWMatrix?

In other news, Curse and WoWInterface have finally done what they’ve been threatening to do for ages, and blocked WoWMatrix from accessing any of their hosted files.

I use and love WoWMatrix. I love the “one click” updating of all my mods. I love that I don’t have to configure it in any way – it just works. It spotted all my installed mods, and needed no “fussing with”. I use it to search for new mods – after all, I’d rather have mods that update through WoWMatrix than not. There are only a very few mods that I update manually, and that’s because I don’t want to live without them, and they don’t update through WoWMatrix. It’s fair to say that I only internittantly check for updates of those mods.

So this morning I downloaded the Curse and WoWInterface updaters. I haven’t had much time to play with them yet, but my first impressions are that I will not find them as easy to use as WoWMatrix. And quite frankly, the fact that I will now have to use three different programs to update my UI mods, when up until yesterday I just used one, is a real inconvenience.

Both are limited by only providing updates for the Addons that they host. This means that there are a number of addons that they can’t identify when they initially scan your Addons folder, and both required some manual intervention from me to confirm which addons they should be able to update. To add to the confusion, there are some mods I have installed which are available on both sites, so I think I’ll need to go through and decide which site does the updates. To add even further to the confusion, the WoWInterface updater download page states that the product is no longer being updated, and a new one is being developed, and a quick search on the WoWInterface forums finds people being advised to use the Curse installer instead until the new one is ready, on the grounds that most mods on WoWI are also available on Curse! So why do I need both?

I think my best bet from here is to backup my existing addons, and remove them all. I’ll then use the Curse or WoWInterface updaters to re-install each one that I need. As there’s a new patch out I’ll drop down to the bare minimum that I need to survive for a short time, and gradually re-introduce the others. According to WoWMatrix I currently run 143 addons, so this might take some time! As long as I can get Clique working, I’ll be happy 🙂

I am concerned that both Curse and WoWInterface are talking about introducing a “Premium” service to use their updaters. I don’t want to be forced to pay to use a service that is a less pleasant user experience than the free WoWMatrix. I have read the arguments on both sides, and I sympathise with Curse and WoWInterface, but at the end of the day I want an easy to use product that works without intervention, and only WoWMatrix has delivered that so far.

Why can’t Curse and WoWInterface come together to provide a rival to WoWMatrix that people will use because it is better, not because they feel forced to? Not to produce two products, both of which do less than half the job, but one single product that works as easily as WoWMatrix. That is the true spirit of competition.

I am prepared to pay for products and services that I find useful. I paid for the full Carbonite before Blizzard changed the rules on UI mod authors not being allowed to charge for premium content. I have sent donations to UI mod writers of those mods I find useful. I would pay for a single product to update all my WoW addons easily as well. But I wouldn’t pay for either the Curse updater or the WoWInterface updater in their current state.

It’s time for 3.1

I think quite a few of us were caught by surprise by patch 3.1 arriving this week. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve done enough reading into my final talent spec for my dual spec, and I haven’t made any glyphs yet in order to make a killing on the AH as people frantically stock up. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever become a WoW millionaire! And I haven’t read as much as I could have about the changes to druid healing, and in particular the big changes to Lifebloom.

Whilst I read blogs and listen to podcasts that talk about upcoming changes, I don’t go out of my way to test things. I have not set foot on the PTR, and I like it that way. Oftentimes a change will be reported as a nerf, and then not have as big an impact on the game as expected when it goes live. Things change so much on the PTR that I’d rather focus on playing the real game, and cope with the changes when they happen.

There’s a nice write-up on the Rolling HoTs blog with some testing that Sylly has done by changing her rotation before the patch hit. This gives me hope that my healing style will not need to change too dramatically, and will remain a primarily pro-active style. I’m at work today, so I hope that the servers will be back up and operational by the time I get home. I won’t be raiding tonight. I’ll be sorting out my main and dual specs, and making sure all my UI mods work.

For any other druids out there, like me, who don’t feel prepared for the 3.1 patch, I’d like to recommend the excellent Restokin list of resources for all druids in 3.1 – I’m going to be finding that very useful I think 🙂

The Leaves are Back

We had a Naxx 25 run last night, so it was the end of my brief flirtation with Moonkin dps, and a very welcome return to the comfort and familiarity of my branches and leaves 🙂

I’ve thought a bit more about what made me uncomfortable with the whole moonkin thing, and I think it’s the competitive nature of dps. I know it doesn’t have to be competitive, but I have a very strong competitive streak (my husband won’t let me play Monopoly any more!), and I found myself quite disappointed that I wasn’t putting out more damage.

As a healer it’s easy to keep my competitiveness at bay. Everyone knows healing meters are fundamentally flawed and not to be relied upon, and as long as people are staying alive, and my performance in the meters is comparable with the other healers I am quite happy.

For some reason I felt differently about dps. I felt I should be doing better. I felt that I ought to contribute more. Some of it is obviously gear shortages, as I’m still mostly wearing my healing gear for Moonkin form. Some of it is just inexperience showing (one boss fight it took me half the fight to get in range to cast my little tree friends, which will have lost a lot of valuable dps time). I’m sure it will come with practice, and as I still intend to has a dual spec of Moonkin with patch 3.1 eventually hits, I’m sure I’ll get more practice. I think I need to lower my expectations a little of how much I can contribute as a Moonkin, at least in the short term, but I still feel much more valuable as a healer.

I’m sure when dual specs are implemented there will be some people who find themselves happy in either of their selected specs, and able to switch whenever needed. For me, I suspect I’ll be a tree as much as possible, keeping the moonkin option for solo farming or for those times when I want to do something with friends who already have enough healing.

The Dark Side of the Moonkin

I’ve been running a few 5-man instances with a group of friends from my guild recently, and it’s been great fun. I think I enjoy 5-man instances more than 10 or 25. They’re just that bit more “intimate”. I love to be able to joke around in TS, and not take things too seriously.

One of the chaps in the group also plays a healer as his main. We’ve done some runs with him playing his dps Paladin so that I could heal, but he really enjoys healing and would like to play his healer more. So I said I’d have a go at playing dps instead, and for me that meant Moonkin!

With the help of another guildie I installed the Talented UI mod to make it easier to switch my specs around (I still plan to raid Resto), selected new Glyphs, dug a few pieces of gear with +hit on them out of the bank, and headed over to Moonglade to have a little chat with my trainer. Some gold changed hands, and I was suddenly a level 80 n00b!

My first impressions were that it wasn’t so bad. I still need to learn a bit more about spell rotations, and I needed to be a bit more aware of the strats than when I play healer. Healer is easy – I just need to know where to stand and who to heal. DPS is a bit more complicated as I need to know where to stand and who needs to die first. I don’t have a great memory for strats, so I’m sure I did loads of things wrong, but we got through Heroic HoL and a CoT timed run. I was pleased to be out-dpsing the tank, according to Recount, but I think I need to tweak my gear and my technique if I want to produce more dps.

I warned my friends that they might not want me to play Moonkin too much, as I might love it and decide not to heal on raids any more. I didn’t enjoy it *that* much, but it’s certainly something I’d do again in order to be able to group with friends. Providing they’ll put up with me, of course!