Paladin tanks: If you're oom, you're doing it wrong

I mentioned in my druid vs. paladin tanking post that the one issue that people still seem to have with paladin tanking occasionally is that of mana management. The subject also came up in a WoW.com post the other day, and while the author's comments on it were technically correct, I felt that they were still kind of missing the point.

I'm not a huge expert on paladins, but I do have a frequently played paladin tank and a healer of every class, and with that experience under my belt I feel that it's safe to say that paladin tanks at eighty should never run out of mana. Levelling is a different matter as the poor pallies don't get many of their mana regeneration abilities until fairly late, but for a paladin that's running heroics, mana should never really be an issue. I don't remember the last time I had to stop and drink while tanking with mine. It doesn't matter if you're overgeared, it doesn't matter if your healer bubbles you, if you're struggling with mana then you're doing something wrong.

The main problem seems to be that some paladin tanks appear to be mentally stuck in BC, when spiritual attunement was their only way of regenerating mana. Nowadays paladins have more and much more effective tools at their disposal to keep their blue bar full, and they should use them. Seriously, forget about spiritual attunement. It's still worth the talent points, and particularly handy in raids - where ten percent of healing received is a lot, what with bosses hitting for gazillions of damage - but in five-mans it's nearly irrelevant these days. Personally I only really rely on three simple strategies to keep my mana bar full in instances:

1. Buff yourself with blessing of sanctuary

I cringe every time I see a paladin tank using blessing of wisdom or something else instead. Yes, BoW gives you some mana back, but it's only a static amount and has no other benefits. Blessing of sanctuary on the other hand gives you three percent damage reduction, ten percent extra stamina, ten percent extra strength, and a source of mana return that scales, namely with how many mobs you tank. If you need more mana, just pull a few extra (melee) mobs, and watch as all the dodging, blocking and parrying you do recharges your little blue bar in no time.

2. Keep divine plea rolling

Divine plea is pretty handy to begin with, what with allowing you to regenerate twenty-five percent of your mana over fifteen seconds once a minute, but with the protection talent guarded by the light you can theoretically keep it up forever, replenishing your mana bar from naught to full every minute. All you have to do is keep hitting things. I admit that this can be quite tricky when you're only just starting out, and if I had a penny for every time I went "argh, divine plea fell off" during my early tanking days I would have a fair amount of small change. However, this is simply something that gets better with practice. If your healer has mana and is otherwise ready, don't hesitate to pull the next group of mobs to keep your regen rolling. And well, if there is a brief break after that, the cooldown to reactivate divine plea manually should be available again anyway. Don't forget to use it!

3. Use consecration responsibly

It's an awesome tanking ability, don't get me wrong... but it's also a mana hog. Back in BC judging and consecrating was all paladin tanks could do, but these days they have so many other useful tanking abilities that consecrating on every pull really isn't necessary anymore, especially if you're only tanking three mobs or less. Hammer of the righteous, judging, shield of righteousness and any reflective damage are going to do just fine to maintain aggro most of the time, so use consecrate responsibly and save yourself some mana.

That's all that I usually do and it's more than enough for me, but if you're really desperate you can also use seal and judgement of wisdom for extra mana return.

Following these simple principles you can embrace any shields healers cast on you... and don't even think about taking off your pants in order to take more damage for spiritual attunement. Smart paladins wear their shields with pride and like to keep their pants on, thank you.


Love is in the Air vs. the Lunar Festival

I've written about my likes and dislikes in regards to WoW holiday events before, but with Love is in the Air and the Lunar Festival overlapping awkwardly this year and sending achievaholics from one frenzy into the next, I wanted to talk about my experiences with those two holidays this year in particular.

For starters, I was a little surprised by just how utterly blasé I felt about the Valentine's event this year. Last year I wasn't overly fond of it, what with the high dependence on the random number generator and all the useless items clogging up my inventory, but I wanted to give the achievements a go at the time and ended up having a reasonable amount of fun. I pretty much expected that I wouldn't be able to work up the same amount of enthusiasm this year, but I figured that I might still feel inspired to at least get a fun achievement or two on one of my alts. Nope.

For one thing I couldn't help but notice that they completely revamped the holiday, which I found entirely unappealing. Instead of hoping for some luck with the random number generator while hanging out in a city, you were now supposed to grind mobs for lovely charm bracelets. Now, I agree that placing too much importance on luck with the RNG was a bad idea before, but frankly I think that replacing everything random with a reliable but boring grind isn't really any better.

We all know the downsides of making anything in the game a lottery, but we tend to forget about the advantages these days. The thing with randomness is that it encourages casual participation. This is why my rarely played level sixteen mage alt has a Sinister Squashling for example. I logged onto him during Hallow's End to check his mail one day and figured that I had nothing to lose by playing trick or treat with the innkeeper. I didn't feel cheated even when he gave me nothing. But If he had asked me to go and gather a hundred pumpkins instead I wouldn't have bothered at all, regardless of what rewards were given out, because grinding is "serious business" that I do for reputations and the like, not for a bit of fun distraction.

I suppose that's not necessarily a flaw in the system, if Blizzard wants to cater towards the people for whom things like gathering holiday achievements is actually a primary focus of their game. Personally however I never considered them more than a little distraction, and I don't care for having to invest too much time into these things. Thus, with no option to just have a little bit of Love is in the Air fun on the spot, I didn't participate at all this year, not even on my alts.

You wouldn't know it from looking at my armoury by the way, because Blizzard actually retconned the achievements, which to me is one of the most bizarre things ever. So I now have achievements for all kinds of things that I never did (create lovely charm braclets, do the associated dailies etc.), dated at a point when these things didn't even exist yet. Way to go. I thought achievements were supposed to show off what I, you know, actually achieved in the game? I don't know why they couldn't just turn the things I originally had to do for my Love Fool title into feats of strength or something and then just add the new achievements to replace them. Somehow the armoury making claims about me doing things that I haven't actually done makes me feel vaguely violated.

And I didn't even try the new seasonal boss in Shadowfang Keep once. I was mildly tempted because I just wanted to see what the fight was like, but in the end I have to admit that the dungeon finder has simply made me too lazy. I can be teleported to my next two frost emblems instantly, but just to look at the newest seasonal boss I'd have to manually drag myself all the way to SFK and spam general chat looking for a group? Screw that.

Plus I think that seasonal bosses are generally overrated. When the Headless Horseman first came out I was excited simply because of the novelty value, but the way people felt the need to grind him and other seasonal bosses over and over again for rare drops was simply mind-numbingly stupid. I remember standing in the graveyard of the Scarlet Monastery, with the whole ground being covered in decapitated horsemen, while we summoned in the fifth alt of one of our dpsers to get yet another chance at killing him. There is repetition, and then there's killing the same guy twenty times in a row in rapid succession. Hopefully that is something that will get better with the changes coming in the next patch. But yeah, the thought that wanting to have even a brief look at the Valentine's boss would likely require me to kill him at least five times in a row right then and there was off-putting enough for me to not even try.

So that madness passed me by, getting nothing but a sneer from me and maybe a wistful sigh about how things were much better back in the day. Along comes the Lunar Festival, an event that many deride as boring, and I love it. I'm not sure if I'll actually manage to reach my tentative goal of getting the Elder title for my shaman, but even if I don't I won't feel that I wasted my time because I enjoyed doing what I did. I like how the Lunar Festival is one of those festivals that doesn't make you do completely random crap just for the sake of it. Like, you know, run over dwarfs in the name of love. It's a festival to honour the elders, and the goal is (mostly) to actually visit the spirits of elders. Shocking!

Also, maybe it's my inner explorer, but I really like seasonal events that encourage me to visit parts of the world that I haven't been to for a while. Navigating the cliffs of Azshara, riding down the length of the Barrens... when you're not in a hurry to get from point A to B those things can actually make for quite pleasant and relaxing activities, especially if you're good at multitasking: You can watch tv on the side, complete various exploration achievements while you're in the area, do a random little quest that you missed before or do a bit of old world material gathering.

My personal favourite bonus activity while visiting the elders is currently what I'd call "rare spotting". I recently installed an addon called SilverDragon, which gives you the equivalent of a polite little cough if you run right past a rare mob without noticing it. "Ahem, didn't you miss something there?" I haven't got much use out of it in Outland and Northrend, presumably because the rares are highly sought after by achievement hunters and thus often dead, but the old world is chock full of weirdly named mobs that nobody seems to care about, and that I like to discover simply because it makes me go "oo". While crossing Felwood alone I ran into no less than five rare mobs, which don't even all show up on wowhead. Named oozes? Whatever will they think of next?


Going from WoW to AD&D

A few weeks ago I ended up joining my boyfriend's Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying group. I'm having a blast so far, but it's also a kind of strange experience for a WoW player, because WoW was my first roleplaying game of any kind, so going back to one of its "ancestors" is both weird and enlightening.

Take the soloing vs. grouping debate for example. I'm guessing that most WoW players, even the really social ones, spend a fair amount of time playing alone, exploring, doing quests and so on. Solo roleplaying on the other hand simply doesn't exist. I mean, your character might temporarily get separated from the group, go off on a short side quest or whatever, but as a rule of thumb being in a group and messing around with your friends is what it's all about. If you spend extended amounts of time making up solo adventures for your character you're basically acting as a storyteller, but you're not playing.

The obvious reason why that doesn't work in an MMO like WoW is that you're going to encounter a lot of strangers, with whom you won't interact nearly as cordially as you do with your friends, so it's a completely different environment to begin with. Still, it does make you wonder what a game like WoW would be like if your first priority after creating your character was not to level up, but to join a party and get acquainted.

Also, character life cycles. In WoW, it's all about levelling up as quickly as possible to hit the cap, which is where a lot of the action happens. Some people might prefer to level more slowly and to create lots of alts, but gaining levels is still a major focus of the game even then. Also, once you've created a character, you never lose it unless you delete it. Death in game really doesn't mean anything but a minor temporary stat penalty.

In pen and paper D&D there is no hard level cap (though I guess in practice you probably won't go far beyond twenty), and levelling is just something that kind of happens on the side as you adventure. You'll want to have a minimum amount of levels and skills before you confront the big bad of the campaign, but your dungeon master will generally adjust the monsters you meet in such a way to be challenging and interesting to fight for the party regardless of your level.

Dying is pretty final... there is a spell to resurrect the dead, but it's designed in such a way that it's rarely feasible to use. On the plus side, since you're almost always grouped, there should always be a helpful party member nearby who'll try to save you if you get into really grave danger, and the DM's encounter design should ensure that you don't end up throwing yourself against opponents against whom you don't stand a chance to begin with.

Still, there's a pretty good chance that you'll lose a few party members throughout the campaign, but players are generally pretty laid back about this, because while you lose your character, it doesn't mean that you're out of the game. Generally you can just roll up a new character to replace your old one, and it will automatically start at a high enough level to be able to join the adventuring party.

Also, regardless of whether your character survives the adventure or not, there will always be an end to the story, at which point you'll shelve your little adventurer and create a new one for the next campaign. It's like a never-ending cycle of alt creation.

Once again, imagining such a scenario in WoW is pretty mind-boggling. Perma-death? Oh noes! Then again, you'd also have the ability to roll up a character at a higher level. Unfortunately it's quite obvious why such a system wouldn't work in a game where gaining levels and hitting the cap is largely the point of the game.

Another thing that really threw me for a loop in my first D&D session was the length of combat. Just playing out an encounter with a couple of monsters takes absolutely ages, as you have to decide on character actions for each round of combat and roll half a dozen dice to determine the outcome. The funny thing is that all of this more or less exists in WoW as well, it's all just calculated so quickly in the background that you can kill most things in a matter of seconds and then go "now what".

To "make up" for this you have travel in WoW, as you actually have to physically move your character from one point to another yourself all the time, even if some of it is automated by flight paths and the like. Compared to that, moving anywhere in a D&D game is instant. Oh sure, getting to the next town might take a couple of days in-game time, but if nothing of relevance happens during that time the DM will just say so and you can immediately continue at the point where you've already arrived at your destination.

In this case I can't actually say that I clearly prefer one solution over the other. Overly drawn-out combat sequences can get boring, but since you have to look at every detail in the process it also gives you a certain appreciation for things like a massive blow just missing your character, or one of your allies pulling off a particularly impressive maneuver. WoW's fast combat is missing that, but on the other hand it means that you're left with more time to admire the scenery and do other things (even if I guess that many players don't actually appreciate that).

Finally, the last big difference that really stood out to me was in regards to items. My current D&D character has a cloak which gives her plus two to charisma. Looking at this from the point of view of someone who's used to WoW's endgame numbers that's pretty lame, right? To make things worse, you can't have two items that give you the same stat bonus, so I couldn't have boots of charisma as well. Thinking of the massive single-stat stacking that's going on in WoW, that just makes me laugh.

Nonetheless good items are still highly coveted. It's just all on a much smaller scale, so even a small plus to a single stat can make a lot of difference. What really differentiates it from WoW is that you won't actually change your gear all that much throughout the adventure. It takes a massive backseat to other kinds of development.

Looking at all these differences, you can't help but wonder how a game like WoW ever got to where it is now. Who said that there had to be a hard level cap? Why did reaching that become the main goal and why was so much more content placed there than anywhere else? It's funny how we take a lot of these things for granted and accept them as necessary without even thinking about it.


I like two-healing ten-mans

How many healers do you need for a ten-man raid? Some will say two, some will say three, some will say it depends on the fight. There are certainly a lot of different factors to consider, such as raid composition, everyone's gear, skill, your healers' confidence and familiarity with the fight... so there's no single answer to that question that is right for everyone.

From what I've seen on a lot of healing blogs, most ten-man raids seem to prefer having three healers a lot of the time. That's their choice and as I said there's nothing wrong with it, but one thing that bugs me is that this choice often seems to accompanied by a strong disdain for people wanting to two-heal raids and I don't quite understand why.

My own ten-man group just runs with two healers most of the time as per my own request, and for two reasons:

1. I like to have something to do. I touched on this before in my post about heroic Northrend Beasts, saying that to make healing fun, it needs to be balanced somewhere between the unpleasant extremes of being bored because you have nothing to do, and having to spam like crazy with little room for anything else. And for me personally, I've found that in ten-man raids having three healers quickly leads to boredom, or at least to pathetic attempts at heal sniping as I try to keep myself busy even if technically there isn't anything to do. There are exceptions to this of course, but as a rule of thumb I found it to be true.

2. In most fights it's simply the nature of the beast that you only want to bring as few tanks and healers as possible, because the main focus of most fights is to maximise your dps and kill things as quickly as possible. So once I know that we can do it with two healers... why bring more? Having fewer healers makes the raid faster and more efficient. I don't see that as any different from trying to optimise it in other ways, such as asking everyone to use flasks and to not go for a bio break every five minutes.

And yet I keep seeing these remarks that call people elitist jerks if they suggest that a fight could be done with just two healers instead of three. I just don't get it! I mean, I'm not saying you have to agree with the suggestion because as I explained above, there are good reasons to want to use three healers, but I resent the implication that simply wanting to have a fun and swift raid is somehow a sign of elitism.

So why is this? Are healers afraid of being pushed to their limits since they already have enough pressure on them simply by being responsible for life and death? Or is advocating fewer healers against some kind of secret code that I'm not aware of, perceived as putting "third healers" out of business?


I create drama and I don't think it's all that terrible

Guild drama is something that is admittedly entertaining to read about, if usually not pleasant to experience first-hand. Many people will say that they try to avoid it, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible to never get involved in any drama if you're guilded for any period of time. Still, when was the last time you created guild drama?

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I might actually be a reasonably large source of drama in my guild. At the time I was having a pretty big row with our healing lead - in private messages, so at least it wasn't public guild drama, but I'm sure it gave him quite a headache nonetheless. I was pretty heavily affected by the whole ordeal was well, and felt down for several days afterwards. I asked myself why I was bothering to argue so much anyway.

Last night I stumbled across this post by IndecentHealer, in which he talks about cliques in his guild. This quote really jumped out at me:

Now, I would be claiming to be a better person than I am if i didn’t admit that there have been people whom I thought had no place in the guild I am in. [...] Therefore, I am left with two main options when something like that happens. I can accept that said person is part of the guild, and stay because I want to stay with the rest of the guild, or i can decide that it is really unacceptable – and leave. The often perceived third option – trying to convince the guild that this person really is not good for them – that is in my eyes invalid.

I quite disagree with that last notion, but that aside I was wondering why he considered the third option invalid; unfortunately he didn't elaborate on that. The fact that I had such a strong gut reaction in response to the subject however immediately reminded me of the argument with my healing lead - I don't consider it wrong to fight when I feel that people are harming the guild. Does that make me an inciter of drama?

I pondered what Indecent apparently considers the only alternative options. Acceptance... well, it goes without saying that there is a lot of behaviour that we have to tolerate even if we don't like it, else we'll never be able to settle down anywhere; such is life. But at the same time it should be obvious that just tolerating everything, no matter what, is unlikely to be a good idea.

And flight? I've considered that one quite often when I felt that things were going badly, but at the end of the day I always felt that it was unfair that I should leave my guild of several years, with many people I care about, just because of one upstart newcomer, regardless of how much he bothered me. It's the equivalent of getting a divorce because your husband's new co-worker is a tit; it just feels... wrong. Also, I've seen this kind of scenario often enough to know that if anything, a long-standing guild member leaving over one incident is anything but a peaceful solution, it just creates a different kind of drama.

The problem with arguing and putting up a fight is that no matter how much you try to keep it reasonable and on topic, it never stays that way. I've often put up forum threads when I didn't agree with a change in general raiding or loot policy, trying to gauge other's opinions and give some input. However, no matter how polite these threads start out, they are almost always derailed into something completely different, with at least two people snapping at each other over something or other by the end of it.

Also, some disagreements don't even need to be derailed to be looked upon as nasty. Say, you've seen a trialist act like a complete c-weasel and tell an officer about it because you think he should fail his trial. Looking at it from a more detached point of view, you are simply trying to subvert someone's position in the guild, which isn't a nice thing to do regardless of reasons. But does that always make it wrong?

And then of course there is the biggest issue with opposing something or someone in the guild... since the world isn't black and white, you can never really be completely sure that you're actually right. For example we had a guy in our guild who had given me nothing but reasons to dislike him, but for some to me completely unfathomable reason he was extremely popular with a large part of the guild, including all the officers and some of my friends. I spoke up against him once or twice, but everyone just responded with annoyance... he's such a great guy, why do I have a vendetta against him? In the end I gave up that fight, feeling very bewildered. I still thought that my reasons to dislike him were valid, but at the same time so many people that I cared about and respected seemed to think the opposite, so maybe I was mistaken in some way? It didn't make me like the guy any more, but it made me feel awkward about having made his presence an issue.

In other words, any attempt to argue and overcome a problem you have with your guild has a huge potential for creating drama. Yet I've done it all regardless: I've started forum threads that were derailed into arguments, and I regularly send officers private messages when something or someone bothers me, trying to achieve change into a direction that I find more appealing. Does that make me an officer's nightmare I wonder?

The one thing I can say though is that I feel very strongly connected to my guild, and I think my urge to fight what I consider unjust or inappropriate behaviour in that environment is simply an expression of that. If I didn't care as much it would be much easier to just ignore things or leave; I've seen enough people do it. Because I care, because I want the guild to remain a place I can care about, I fight for it, and in the end the old saying holds true that what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, and with every bit of drama that the guild overcomes successfully I feel even more connected to it. Surely that can't be an entirely bad thing?


An exemplary UP pug

Yesterday I got into quite an interesting pug for heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. I say interesting because several things happened that could have turned the run into a bad pug story very quickly, but thanks to (almost) everyone in the party being good sports about the events it didn't. It's kind of unfortunate that people being able to shrug off failure and being willing to actually deal with problems that come up have become so rare that it's worth mentioning. On the other hand I've lost count of the amount of times when people started flinging insults around as soon as anything went wrong or even slightly not to their liking, or simply rage-quit without a word.

In the run in question I was playing my holy priest. I noticed right away that another party member, a dps warrior, was from my server, which is reasonably rare. After we killed Svala he got the achievement for looting his first dungeon and raid emblem. I cheered for him and he said that he had a long road ahead of him... indeed, he was wearing nothing but levelling greens and a few lower-level blues. For a moment I was worried that someone might make a disparaging comment about his gear, even though complaining about bad gear is one of the things I truly haven't encountered in my battlegroup yet. But you never know, right? Nobody said anything though.

We happily cruised up the stairs, but with one trash pull left before the second boss our paladin tank suddenly came to a standstill and eventually disconnected. The dps warrior immediately said that he could take over tanking if so desired, even though his tanking gear was pretty poor. I thanked him for the offer but said that we should wait at least a minute or two for our tank to come back. His response? "Of course, DCs can happen to the best of us."

Unfortunately the paladin didn't come back and we eventually had to remove him from the group. Now, we could have just queued for a new tank, but that probably would have involved some more waiting, so the warrior selected "tank" during the role check, respecced to protection and put on his tanking gear. Said gear really wasn't anything to write home about, but just going by a quick glance it seemed to have all the right stats on it and brought our tank up to nearly 30k health fully buffed, so how bad could it be?

The dungeon finder gave us a dps death knight, and we continued to clear trash and kill Gortok Palehoof. Skadi's gauntlet took a bit longer than it should have because we seemed to be having one of those groups where one of the dps kept picking up the harpoons without knowing what to do with them or maybe even without noticing, until the rogue started to yell at people to shoot their harpoons already after the fifth flyby or so.

Eventually Grauf was shot down and we should have downed Skadi easily but... I ballsed it up. Suddenly our tank did seem very squishy after all, and the melee ran along with the whirlwind instead of away from it, but I was so determined to keep their little green bars up regardless that I didn't pay enough attention to where Skadi was going... and suddenly he was in my face and I went splat. Since our tank really didn't have the kind of gear to survive very long without a healer, a complete wipe followed quickly.

I was mortified. Dying to Skadi's whirlwind as a ranged player, what a noob mistake! I honestly don't remember the last time that happened to me before yesterday, I'm only sure that it must have been a long time ago. The rogue snarkily asked me if I was bad or very bad and I gnashed my teeth a little, but of course he had a point. So I apologised profusely for my stupid mistake while we ran back, and people seemed to be sufficiently pacified. The warrior even told me not to worry about it, one of the gauntlet adds that was still alive had netted him in place under the whirlwind and that probably didn't help. What a difference from the usual rude blame throwing!

We got the boss down easily on the next attempt, but as soon as he was down I saw the rogue stealth ahead towards where a little exclamation mark on the map marked the location of an elder, and immediately afterwards he dropped from the group. Is this going to be the new Lunar Festival trend? As if it was that much work to actually complete the dungeon too...

The warrior agreed that this was a lame move, but we got a warlock to replace the rogue right away. She reached us just as we were about to make the first pull in the room right before King Ymiron. You know the one, the one with the patrol that fears. Our warrior tank charged right in and... I actually don't know if he got the patrol or any other adds; all I know is that people, including me, got feared, and that those few seconds without heals were enough for the tank to go squish. So we wiped again. Zomg, two wipes in Utgarde Pinnacle? Outrageous fail!

The tank commented somewhat sheepishly that he was probably much harder to heal than what I was used to. I said that it was no problem, that he just seemed to have trouble staying alive for the few seconds during which I got feared. His response to that? "Yeah, I'm not def capped yet, which is why I didn't queue as tank originally."

At this point I fully expected the warlock to either make a snarky comment or immediately quit the group. I mean, put yourself in her place... you just joined a run in progress, as soon as you manage to catch up with the group they wipe, thus immediately slapping you with a repair bill, and then the tank tops it off with saying that he's not even uncrittable? WTF, man?

But nobody said anything and nobody left, we all just ran back. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the fact that our tank had managed to get as much health as he had without reaching the defense cap as well, but he had stated before that his tanking gear was a work in progress. And in all honesty, I didn't find him hard to heal regardless of that. So I just asked him to please be more careful on that pull the next time and we should be fine.

This time he made a line of sight pull, while musing that it had been a long time since he had to be careful in a heroic, and our warlock laughed. Utgarde Pinnacle was kicking our behinds and people thought it was amusing! I haven't felt so happy in a random pug in a while. After that we finished without any more incidents and our impromptu tank got a shiny new tanking sword.

Basically, I had a heroic UP pug in which we wiped repeatedly, our tank DCed, our new tank wasn't defense capped and one dps left halfway through because he only wanted his achievement, but it was still a pleasant experience. It's amazing just how much of a difference a bit of patience and kindness can make, isn't it?


Book review: World of Warcraft Volume 1 & 2

Has there ever been a more nondescript title for a WoW book? I think not. To clarify, these are the first two hardcover collections of the ongoing World of Warcraft comic book series, containing the first fourteen issues, which form a single story arc. I bought the first one on a whim ages ago and saw the second one in a store the other day, so now that I've read the whole story I thought I should give it a review.

In a nutshell, the books tell the story of how amnesiac King Varian washes up on the shores of Durotar, gets captured by an orc and trained to be a gladiator, eventually escapes, gets his memory back and then goes off to do the Onyxia quest chain to get control of his kingdom back from Lady Katrana Prestor.

First off, let's talk about the art. As a layman, I'd call it slightly manga-ish for the most part, reasonably well drawn and nicely coloured throughout. It's probably a matter of personal taste whether you like that particular style or not. I did for the most part, especially the full page views of the landscape early on - Thunder Bluff and Teldrassil really look gorgeous.

Towards the end of the second book the style suddenly changes a lot though, something I didn't like too much personally. Varian suddenly goes from well-muscled to looking like he's got a bunch of balloon animals trapped under his shirt, and his little son Anduin, who initially looked a lot like his in-game model actually, suddenly seemed to age by ten years over the course of a few pages and acquired a few balloon animals of his own. Blech.

I also can't help commenting on the ladies. I have no problem with the way they are drawn per se, but in the context of the story there was a certain... dissonance between the art and what was happening at times. For example there's Valeera the blood elf, who looks like your typical scantily-clad female eye candy. Now, that's fine, but then everyone in the story keeps going on about how she's obviously just a child. Child... flashing boobs and buttocks in everyone's faces... does not compute!

I also didn't like what they did with Lady Prestor. While her model was still present in the game, she always looked like a relatively modest woman to me who quietly steered things from the background. In the comic on the other hand she looks like a complete hussy, fondles Varian at every opportunity and makes a point of loudly contradicting any sensible suggestions in matters of state, so you really have to wonder how the hell nobody noticed that something was off with her earlier.

This leads us to the story. While the dialogue is pretty forgettable, it doesn't really matter too much for the most part since a lot of page time is simply spent on hacking and slashing bad guys, which means that the gist of the story can be conveyed in a few panels anyway. Over the course of fourteen issues it still manages to be reasonably interesting, though I rolled my eyes a bit whenever Varian decided to spend another issue off on some side quest instead of getting on with the important part of the story.

The first volume is basically all about Varian's gladiator life and him recovering his identity. Plot-wise I thought this was the weaker part of the story since it had one glaring flaw in my eyes: How could Varian become a world-famous gladiator, watched by hundreds of people from all races, and nobody recognises him? Not even Jaina does at first; it's just silly. This is even more accentuated by the fact that as soon as the plot reaches the point where Varian remembers who he is, everyone who spots him, even from a distance, goes "oh hey, isn't that the king of Stormwind"? Rrright.

The second volume is basically Varian doing the Onyxia attunement chain for Alliance, including Jail Break! and the big face-off between Marshal Windsor and General Marcus Jonathan. I actually did that quest chain back at level sixty on my night elf priest, without even knowing what it was for, and I remember how epic it was, our characters walking through Stormwind, being saluted by the guards and random players tagging along to find out what the hell was going on. In a way it was cool to see that played out on the page, but it also made me a little sad again to be reminded of why they removed that chain. I would have preferred to keep that in the game, and Blizzard could have kept Varian out of it. Meh!

In the end he also goes off to kill Onyxia himself, because clearly we can't have any random adventurers do that, only the king of Stormwind himself could best her! /cough. That said, it was quite humorous to read about that encounter in comic form, as it was very true to how it works in the game. (Look, the dwarf got tail-swiped into the whelp cave!) Except that she's totally immune to roots in the game, yo.

So what's my final verdict? If you see this in a store, flip through the pages a bit to see if you like the art, and if you do I'd say that it's worth a purchase. I wouldn't recommend it just for the story though, as it's really not that amazing. Myself, I originally bought it in the hopes of learning a bit more about Varian and maybe discovering the reason for why he acts like such an arrogant prick in the game, but I have to admit that I was utterly disappointed in that regard. In the comic he's actually reasonably nice and sensible, especially during the first half when he interacts quite normally even with the Horde. However, once he remembers who he is he suddenly seems to stop having any facial expressions beyond angry brooding. I mean, I get that the whole Onyxia business would piss him off, but it really gives no explanation for why he'd suddenly be so hateful towards the Horde when he treated them alright before, even while he was being abused for their spectator sports.


Why I don't like skipping bosses

Have you ever read something on the forums or on a blog about a new and disturbing trend emerging in pugs and thought, "wow, that sounds so stupid, I'm glad nobody is doing that in my guild/on my server/in my battlegroup"? And then, as soon as you queued up for your next random dungeon, someone actually did that very same thing? I always find it a bit unsettling that someone might have read the same articles as me and actually came to the opposite conclusion, going "oh, that's awesome, I'll have to try that on my next run".

Case in point: skipping bosses in heroics. For a few weeks after the dungeon finder's introduction, all the runs I got into were still full clears. Then it slowly started with things like people skipping Amanitar in Old Kingdom, then Jedoga Shadowseeker too. Then people wanted to go straight to the Tribunal of Ages in Halls of Stone without taking a detour to Crystallus and the Maiden of Grief. Then my parties started to ignore Eck in Gundrak. And last night it reached an all-time low for me when I got into an Utgarde Pinnacle run where the tank didn't want to kill Svala Sorrowgrave.

Now, part of what made that incident so annoying was simply the tank being a twit, as his response to people saying that they did in fact want to kill her was, "I'm the tank, I decide". I tried to type out a reply to politely express that I thought this was rather inconsiderate, but before I even had time to do that the tank had rushed ahead, pulled multiple packs at once and wiped the group. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I left that party...

But that aside, skipping Svala would have bugged me even if it had been asked for in a polite way. It's not that I expect every instance to be cleared down to the very last mob, though I think people have become ridiculously spoiled in that regard. It's one thing to skip a few bosses in BRD, it's another to argue that Amanitar is "totally out of the way" because there are three trash mobs between him and your party. Seriously.

Weirdly enough, I think what bothers me the most about boss-skipping like that is how it breaks my immersion. I hated the "ledge strat" in Halls of Reflection too, because it just felt ridiculous to stand off to the side while the Lich King walked past, completely ignoring us. I know WoW heroics aren't hugely immersive anymore to begin with, but players making a point of destroying even the last remnants of make-believe annoy me nonetheless. And yes, that includes running right past a val'kyr that we just watched get empowered by the Lich King just because you want your instance run to be two minutes shorter. Bypassing bosses that are down a tunnel somewhere bothers me less, because I don't find the idea of our party not exploring every nook and cranny of the instance that immersion-breaking.

Emblems actually don't come into it for me. Some of my alts can still use triumph, some don't... but that's not the point! It may be hard to believe, but I actually still enjoy running instances for the sake of running them. Getting rewards is nice, but they aren't the point. When I don't fancy a heroic, then I skip it that day, so what if I miss out on frost emblems? I play to have fun, not primarily to earn virtual currency; and I really wish more people would remind themselves of that fact, as I'm getting increasingly tired of the "I just want my frost even though I hate instancing" mindset. It sounds a lot like the gold buyer's mantra really: I want to be able to buy all this stuff in the game, but I don't actually want to play it!

Really, if you're not having fun doing something in the game... don't do it! Or rather, I'm obviously not going to stop you if you want to get some obscure old world reputation to exalted while all the time moaning about how much you hate it, because it doesn't really affect me. But please stop trying to ruin my fun by participating in group activities that you hate and making everyone else in the group miserable by skipping half of the fun and having a crappy attitude.


Druid vs. paladin tanking

My druid was originally supposed to be my tanking alt. Back when I created her, I already had a healer and a dps character at the level cap on Earthen Ring, so levelling a tank as my third toon seemed like a logical next step. This was back in BC and it worked out well at the time, as I really enjoyed being a feral tank. Towards the end of BC my boyfriend encouraged me to level my paladin alongside one of his alts, which I did, but with no particular purpose for the character. She was retribution most of the way for ease of killing things, and I only respecced her to prot when I wanted to do a normal Nexus run with friends one day and we just couldn't find a tank (this was pre-dungeon finder, obviously).

And yet, over the course of WOTLK my paladin somehow ended up becoming my main tanking character and my druid is resto most of the time. I still work on her tanking gear, but I only really put it on as a favour for friends and guildies; on random runs I'm staunchly resto. As far as I'm concerned, druid tanking is just too lacking in several areas compared to paladin tanking these days.

1. Caster mobs

Once upon a time, every tank worth their salt had to learn how to make a corner pull at some point in their career, because it was the only way to force caster mobs to come into melee range along with their mana-less brethren. It was sort of an art form, if slightly annoying at times, but I didn't mind having to do it because it was simply part of being a tank.

Then WOTLK came around, death knights appeared with their shiny death grip, avenger's shield was buffed with a silencing effect, and protection warriors got heroic throw combined with gag order, so they were all able to maneuver at least one caster around as desired all of a sudden. Druids however were still stuck having to make line of sight pulls, in a world where every other tanking class quickly got the dps used to the idea that strategies like that were obsolete now. Yeah, good luck with that!

I'm not really someone to promote complete homogenisation of all classes, but this one just irked me, and continues to irk me every time I have to tank a pull with casters on my druid and find myself thinking "damn, this would be so much less annoying if I was on my paladin". It's quite an important part of tanking, and I still don't get why Blizzard made a point of giving every tanking class but druids a helpful tool to deal with casters in WOTLK. Why do bears have to play with a handicap in that regard?

2. Boring AoE rotation

AoE tanking is by its very definition not as interesting as having to focus on one or more targets individually, but on my paladin it doesn't feel that bad because I still get to use a variety of different skills. Yes, I'll lay down a consecrate if there are a lot of mobs, but I can also hit three (or four if you've got the glyph) targets with hammer of the righteous, then slap a judgement on the mob with the highest health and follow it up with a shield of righteousness... the fact that none of my tanking abilities are spammable and I have to alternate between different spells makes things interesting.

On my druid? Swipe, swipe, swipe, and nothing else. If I have enough rage I'll also keep mauling with every auto attack but that's it. Trying to do anything else, like putting a lacerate on every target, will simply result in insufficient threat generation in this day and age of AoE damage. Unfortunately doing nothing but spam swipe and maul gets old really quickly.

3. Wonky single target threat

On the other hand, building threat on a single target like a raid boss is fiddly and extremely unforgiving as a feral druid. Mangle and maul work well for initial aggro, but to really keep your threat up you also have to build up and maintain a stack of five lacerates - and this while a single lacerate application doesn't actually produce that much threat anymore. This is bad because if your stack falls off for whatever reason - be it you hitting the wrong ability while trying to move out of the fire or the boss undergoing a phase change or whatever, you have to start over and accept that you'll produce diddly squat threat for the next ten seconds. I absolutely hated bear-tanking the two jormungars in Trial of the Crusader for that reason for example - after the first burrow I'd just spend the rest of the fight taunting constantly because I was always behind on aggro.

Now compare that to my paladin, whose threat generation is through the roof no matter what I do. I'm vaguely aware that there's some kind of rotation (6-9-6?) that you should be following, but I've never even bothered to read up on it because I simply didn't have to. I just use whatever threat ability isn't on cooldown and for the large majority of groups that's more than sufficient. Sure, it's not perfect and every now and then there'll be a gap in my rotation (which is usually where I improvise with an avenger's shield or something), but it's not a matter of life and the warlock's death.

Is it true?

Now, this is just my personal assessment, and other people might still prefer the bear style of life over paladin-tanking (though I don't know why). I still occasionally hear about players struggling with the pally's mana bar, but personally my tankadin's blue bar never goes below fifty percent or so since they made it possible to keep divine plea rolling non-stop.

Just from my own observations in random heroics, paladin tanks seem far more common than any other type these days, with druid being one of the, if not the rarest. They might still be competitive in a raiding environment, but as far as the pure fun of tanking goes, I think bears have lost a lot of appeal.


What is it with all the discipline?

I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but I'm priest class leader in my guild and thus have to take a look at all the applications from priests that we get. And one thing that's been bugging me as of late is that nearly every single priest that's applied to us has been discipline. We don't need any more discipline priests because they don't stack all that well, but we could use another holy priest or two. So I always end up going "well, we could use you if you were holy" and I hate having to say that. I don't like telling people how to play.

The thing I don't get is why all these people are discipline in the first place. Yes, it's a viable PvE spec these days and that's great, but according to armoury data, holy is still more popular, so where are all those holy priests?

Seems to me that discipline has somehow become the "serious business" spec of raiding priests. Not long ago Tamarind also observed that he seemed to get more respect after respeccing to discipline. Holy seems to be for people who don't have a clue how to play a priest but want to try out this "healing" lark. Or at least that seems to be the common perception, but you know there's some truth in it. So what better way to set yourself apart from those "noobs" than to be a healer without being holy?

I'm not implying that people spec discipline just to show off by the way. I reckon for many priests who played holy for a long time it's simply been a nice change of pace and they like it enough to not want to change back.

Still, it's weird. It's running rampant in the blogosphere too. How many great holy priest blogs can you name off the top of your head? In the post linked above, Tamarind (who used to be holy all the time) also brings up how much he loves discipline now. Miss Medicina used to be all about the holyness as well, but has since changed to preaching about the pros of penance like so many others. Matticus has also been discipline for a long time now. Where are you, dedicated holy priests?

I guess my aggravation is increased by the fact that I really don't get what all the fuss is about, and why so many priests talk about disc as if it's the best thing since sliced bread. I have it as my dual spec for PvP and like it well enough for that purpose, but whenever I used it in PvE I found it dreadfully boring. I like yelling "Bubbles!" as much as the next person when I get a divine aegis proc from someone else, but being the one to cast them strikes me as quite unexciting. I mean, I sift through the data from our raids at World of Logs, and for our discipline priest it often shows about half of her effective "healing done" as coming from bubble absorptions.

As holy I hardly ever use a single spell that much, regardless of encounter and assignment, simply due to the nature of my main spells. Prayer of mending has a cooldown, circle of healing has a cooldown, and while renew doesn't have one it's generally not advisable to keep spamming it. And in-between timing those spells just right I can still throw in other abilites. As disc? Bubble, flash heal, penance if there's a bunch of burst damage and it's off cooldown. Yawn. It just doesn't compare to the symphony of dings and plings I get to create as holy.

Believe me, you can be a really good and serious raiding priest as holy too. Join the revolution today! (Or something.)


Instances in Cataclysm - predictions

Some time ago I read a post somewhere, I don't remember where, in which the author predicted that there'd be fewer instances in Cataclysm, but that they'd be more polished than ever before. I don't remember any more details of this post - apologies, anonymous author - only that I disagreed with the notion.

I think with the way the dungeon finder has changed instancing, it would only be logical for Blizzard to make more instances than ever in Cataclysm. I mean, WOTLK started with twelve new dungeons (now up to sixteen), and at the time that felt like plenty, but now that people are running them over and over day after day due to how easy it is to get a group and due to the improved rewards, even that almost feels like too little. If you run heroics with any kind of regularity, it's become impossible to not get that feeling of "oh no, not this one again" with every other loading screen. So if Blizzard wants to keep people running heroics as part of Cataclysm's endgame too, they'll have to offer as much variety as possible to keep things fresh that little bit longer. The addition of new five-mans in patches might also become more common.

In the same vein, these new Cataclysm instances are likely to be shorter than ever to make chain-running them as painless as possible, and possibly less rich in story and lore, since that only tends to get in the way of repeated runs (just think of how many people hate Culling of Stratholme now, for having "too many unnecessary roleplaying elements" which slow things down).

With the dungeon finder granting instant access and teleports to places all over the world, it's also to be expected that fewer people will know what any given dungeon's place is in the bigger picture. In WOTLK all the instances were still reasonably connected to their environment: just think of things like all the quests in Coldarra sending you to the Nexus, or the Grizzly Hills storyline that wants you to take over Drak'tharon Keep. People were generally likely to pick up at least a few of those as they were questing in the nearby area, but in Cataclysm many will likely hop into the dungeon queue as soon as they start levelling, maybe never doing much questing at all. I could see Blizzard supporting this by putting more quest givers directly inside the instances so people can get a feel for what they are about without having to rely on outside quests to clue them in.

Lastly, I also expect them to add some new low-level instances. I don't know if it's true, but I read somewhere that the gnomes are actually going to take back Gnomeregan, which would mean one less levelling instance to go to, and it's entirely possible that other old world instances might suffer a similar fate with the way the world is going to be shaken up. These would need replacing of course, but even if we keep all the low-level dungeons as they are, the dungeon finder has promoted a new levelling style that's entirely limited to instances, and it has shown that there are certain "gaps" where you can do nothing but run the same instance over and over. The graveyard section of the Scarlet Monestary is a prime offender of this for example, and it would make a lot of sense to introduce something new in that level range to give people alternative dungeons to run, if the devs are trying to make the levelling process more fun anyway.

What do you think will happen with instances in Cataclysm?


Why I think that main specs should still go before off specs

Spinks made a post the other day in which she mentioned winning the Black Heart in Trial of the Champion on her druid. She was healing at the time and outrolled a dps death knight for the trinket, who then proceeded to call her a ninja. A commenter asked if she would have rolled need against the tank as well, and she said yes, spawning a lot of confused or even somewhat annoyed responses from other commenters.

Today she posted a sort of follow-up in which she talks about loot lust in general and how the random number generator is fair, but she doesn't actually address the main question that was on my mind after reading her earlier post: Who should get to roll in the first place and why?

Basically, I found myself agreeing with the commenters from her previous blog entry who mostly expressed the opinion that rolling need on something for your off spec against someone else's main spec is wrong. I was even thinking about adding a comment of my own, but then I hesitated. Why do I think it's wrong? Why do I think the tank would be more deserving of a tanking trinket than her (at the time) resto druid? She's going to use it too, after all, and she made just as much of a contribution to the run.

After thinking about it some more, I came up with two reasons why we generally expect main specs to have priority: practical group benefit and fair distribution.

Practical group benefit is easy to explain. Back in Ye Days Of OldeTM, when instances were hard and wiping repeatedly was an accepted part of the experience, making sure that the loot was given to someone who was going to use it right then and there made sense. If the first boss dropped a blue shield that was an upgrade for your tank, it was a no-brainer that it should be given to your tank - to make him that little bit stronger and the run a little bit easier. Who cared if the dps warrior also wanted it for his tanking set to off-tank trash in raids? The here and now was what counted.

It's not hard to see why this way of thinking has lost significance, considering that most people who run heroics these days overgear them by a huge margin, so everyone's a bit blasé about a lot of the loot there. Ok, so that shield is an upgrade for the tank, but we're killing all the mobs so quickly that they barely have time to touch the tank anyway, so what does it matter who gets it?

That still leaves us with the question of fair distribution, however. Spinks notes correctly that handing out loot "fairly" is very difficult... however, in pugs people are generally happy to settle for "evenly". Even Spinks mentions that her raids had a "one item per person" rule, which strikes me as a bit inconsistent with her claim that the RNG is fair, but anyway... the idea is that since it's hard to figure out who's the most "deserving" of loot, it's alright to not get into that, but at the very least you should make sure that as many people as possible get something. I once ran a raid without any rules to ensure even distribution of loot, one paladin rolled on everything he could use and won three items or so while many others got nothing. Hey, the RNG is fair, right? You better believe that the other raiders didn't think so.

Now, in a five-man pug you'll pretty much never get even distribution of loot. Most modern instances don't even have five bosses, but even in the ones that do it's highly unlikely that the loot gods will smile upon you in such a way that you get a useful drop for every party member in the group. If every boss drops spell power leather and you only have one druid, there simply isn't anything anyone can do, and you can only congratulate the guy on being a lucky sod.

However, we can influence loot distribution by limiting who gets to roll on which items, and "everyone rolls on items for his current spec only" has served people reasonably well in the past, as it will limit competition for each drop considerably. Yes, the dps death knight and the fury warrior will still both want the two-handed weapon, but the warlock doesn't have to worry about the tanking druid nabbing his caster dagger, and the druid doesn't have to fear that the holy pally will roll for the tanking ring.

The problem with chucking this old rule of thumb and just letting everyone roll on everything they can use is that it gives a massive advantage to those who have a dual spec, and an even bigger advantage to hybrids in general. Suddenly the druid gets to roll on tanking loot, melee dps loot, and all caster loot, simply because he's a druid and he could theoretically use all of it for one of his alternate specs, while rogues, mages and other single-purpose classes are still bound by the same limitations as before because they only have one role. I can accept that loot distribution isn't always going to be even and fair, but I definitely don't want to encourage people to intentionally make it even more unfair by giving some individuals three times as many rolls just because they play a certain class. It's not so much about main spec vs. off spec as about one spec vs. multi-spec.

With that said, I don't think it's wrong if say, a druid goes to heal an instance and then rolls on tanking loot, as long as that's the only type of loot he needs. However, in all honesty I don't like it either, because it makes things unnecessarily complicated. He'd have to state beforehand that he's only there for the tanking loot since it's not obvious, and to avoid looking like a greedy bugger who just rolls on everything he can use for one of his quadruple-specs. Then the tank might decide that he doesn't want to take his chances with a group where he unexpectedly has competition for tanking loot and leaves the group (I've seen it happen), making everything grind to a halt. So I still think that it's preferable to just queue up as the role you want loot for if you're just going for a specific piece of gear.

Finally I just have to say that I hate the argument that people shouldn't get upset about losing loot rolls because "it'll drop again". That's like telling someone that they will win the lottery one day - it's only true if you assume that the person has an infinite amount of time and patience to keep trying, which most people won't have. I mean, I've raided the same content every week for months and still some much-coveted drops completely failed to appear in the boss's loot tables, ever. I'm not saying that people should always throw a fit when they don't get the item they wanted, but telling them that it might drop again if only they run the same instance another thirty times is hardly comforting or reassuring.



The other day my shaman got heroic Gundrak as her daily random. The tank was a paladin of the always-in-a-hurry variety, so he pulled almost all the trash in the first room at once and then charged straight at the boss. We managed to down him, but I died under a pile of snake adds, because as it turned out only one of our three dpsers, a rogue, was actually helping us to kill things. The other two, a death knight and a mage, were motionless at the entrance or outside the instance (we couldn't quite tell at first).

When the pally started to swear at them quite profusely, the death knight suddenly came to life, complaining that he was stuck in the passenger seat of someone else's mammoth. This actually caused the tank to quite miraculously transform into a very decent human being and he patiently talked the guy through the proper steps of exiting the mount. Quite a silly predicament to begin with, but there you go. Eventually he managed to join us and we were one dps up, but the mage remained blatantly AFK at the entrance.

I had vaguely picked up on other blogs that you couldn't kick people from pugs until the fifteen minute timer had run out, but it had never actually been an issue for me before... until that night anyway. With the mage camping at the door and leaving us a member short, we found ourselves in a lose-lose situation: We could either all leave the group, eat the debuff and put up with another ten-minute wait for a new group afterwards, or we could continue to four-man it in less time and accept the fact that we were feeding a lazy loser free emblems. We opted for the latter option, but still felt mildly annoyed. Gundrak is such a breeze these days that we were already at the last boss by the point at which the timer ran out. We kicked the mage as soon as we could, so we could at least deny him the free frost emblems on top of the three triumph he had already received, but that was for all intents and purposes too late already.

This was one of the rare things that actually prompted me to make a post on the official forums to complain, but the response I got was mostly along the lines of "yeah, everyone's complaining about that already but it does us no good, so shut up".

I just found it striking to what lengths people will go to abuse anything in WoW in their favour. I know, hardly a news flash, but even so. That mage must have been paying at least a moderate amount of attention to make sure he didn't miss his dungeon queue... just to go AFK as soon as he got in. Really? What kind of warped mind thinks like that?

I also thought that not being allowed to kick people right away sounded like a good idea before, to avoid any jerks kicking people solely based on their gear, their name or whatever. But fifteen minutes of wait is a very long time to spend with a useless party member in an instance that barely even takes that long to complete nowadays.

The whole incident has also confirmed to me that the dungeon finder really has turned instances into the new battlegrounds, with all the bad side effects - who could forget the times when up to three quarters of an Alterac Valley team were sitting AFK in the spawn cave just to farm honour? I didn't think this would happen in five-mans, but with Blizzard forcing us to keep the AFK guy on our team or wait another half hour for our next run, they made it possible. Good going, that.

I think it also highlights a major design flaw with the current system. You could rant about the people camping in the "peace cave" all you want, but they wouldn't have felt the need to do that kind of thing at all if disproportionally powerful rewards hadn't lured them into an activity that they didn't enjoy, leaving them searching for a solution that allowed them to get the rewards while still avoiding participation.

I've heard more than one person suggest that maybe giving out frost emblems for the daily random wasn't such a great idea after all, and I'm starting to see their point. I like running instances, I liked them even before they gave great rewards, and I could mostly rely on the people running with me to feel the same way and to make it an enjoyable experience. Only since Blizzard has started funneling everyone and their mother into LFG for frost emblems I'm suddenly surrounded by people who hate five-mans and just want to be out of the instance again as soon as possible, looking for ways to skip content at every corner. Or as of now, by people who hate five-mans and go AFK at the entrance, waiting for the rewards to arrive in their currency tab without any participation at all.

Enough of this rubbish I say. Give me back instance-running for fun, with people who actually care.