I killed the Lich King and all I got was this lousy title

Tonight I killed the Lich King.

No, this is not a jubilant bragging post; in fact it's the opposite. I was very disappointed by the whole experience, and while I didn't say anything about it right after the raid (since everyone else in the group seemed to be very happy with the kill and I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade), I do need to vent somewhere.

Basically the whole thing left me almost completely cold. Maybe because we were on the frozen throne? /rimshot. But no really, the biggest emotional reaction that the fight got out of me was me laughing out loud when I saw the popup asking me whether I wanted to accept Terenas Menethil's resurrection. The rest of the time I just stared at the events unfolding on my screen and felt vaguely disappointed. There are a couple of reasons for this:

My alt is not my main

The thing that stung more than anything I think is that I got the Kingslayer title on an alt before getting it on my main. It's not just any old alt, it's my "main" alt, the one with whom I've been running ten-mans pretty regularly since Trial of the Crusader, but still an alt. At the same time I've been working on the Lich King fight with my main as well, my main who has much better gear, while playing the class that is closer to my heart than any others, playing a role at which I am much better than I am at tanking (which is what I did on the kill tonight)... but still that wasn't good enough. It leaves me with a certain bitterness that I find hard to explain somehow.

One-shots are very anticlimatic

Don't get me wrong, before tonight we spent many hours spread out over several weeks practising the fight, wiping a lot and improving only relatively slowly. But tonight we went in and killed him on the first attempt, and regardless of how much we practised in the weeks before, it just felt kind of wrong to me. The last boss of the expansion strikes me as someone who should go down after a night filled with blood and sweat, close to the end of the raid, after you just had a one-percent wipe on the attempt before. Those are the boss kills that feel truly glorious and make everyone erupt in cheers on Vent. Downing the Lich King with relatively little effort on the first attempt of the night didn't make me feel heroic; it just left me feeling slightly confused and wondering whether that was really all there was to it.

Welcome to the Tirion Fordring show

If you don't want to be spoiled about what happens towards the end of the fight (not after), don't read this bit. Basically I already knew that the fight would effectively end once Arthas' health reached ten percent, but I didn't know what exactly would happen after that. I didn't think it would affect my feelings about the fight negatively because I remember reaching the ten-percent mark on Archimonde on Mount Hyjal as something that felt extremely exciting at the time even if it meant that we had already won. Basically lots of wisps show up, you become immune to damage and pwn him for the last ten percent - awesome. I thought the Lich King fight would have something similar, but no.

What happens is that the whole raid dies for no reason and Arthas laughs about how he's going to resurrect all of us as scourge now. Then Tirion finally decides to break out of the ice and kicks his arse, while the ghost of Terenas Menethil graciously decides to give everyone a res so they can assist Tirion. I don't think I've ever seen a boss fight that made me feel less heroic in my entire life. Basically what it comes down to is that all that struggling with val'kyrs and defiles was utterly pointless as the Lich King was only playing with us anyway, as evidenced by the fact that he one-shots us all when he grows tired of the game. Good thing that Tirion was there to save us all, huh? I don't mind fighting alongside friendly NPCs, but Mr Fordring really just makes the whole raid look like a bunch of tools. Couldn't he have saved us those repair bills and asked the light to get him out of that ice block sooner? It would have saved everyone a lot of hassle. Bah.

The video at the end just makes no bloody sense

Then it's all over and you get to see a special cinematic, cool. Originally I wanted to avoid watching it until I actually got to kill the Lich King myself, but I kind of spoiled myself by accident when the monument in the middle of Dalaran went up and I went "ooh, what's that", clicking on it like a clueless fool. I wasn't too impressed by the video but didn't want to be too judgemental in case I was missing some context from the actual fight. Now that I've seen it... nope, there's nothing missing, it still makes no bloody sense. I can only agree with everything that Chastity from Righteous Orbs said in this post a few months ago. "Okay, this was kind of stupid," is not really what I wanted my final thoughts about the end-of-expansion boss to be.

So yeah. My alt is a Kingslayer, woo. Yogg-Saron excited me a lot more.


What's in a name?

I know I've been talking a lot about Cataclysm as of late, so let's have a post focusing on the here and now for a change. The question that I'd like to talk about is: What the hell are some people thinking when they name their characters? It's something that I ask myself quite often, but the latest opportunity for me to wonder arose yesterday when I looked over my boyfriend's shoulder and saw him pugging Gundrak with "Lalapala" and "Pallytard". What's worse is that I looked them up on the armoury later and there were no less than twenty-one results for Lalapala and five different Pallytards. I then started to randomly search for what I thought were really stupid names and was alternately amused and horrified to find that yes, there are characters out there called "Imdumb" and "Phukoff".

Now, I guess that as someone who mainly plays on a roleplaying server I'm predisposed to be a bit of a name snob, but I'd like to think that I'm really not that bad. I understand that not everyone likes to get into the roleplaying mindset and work on coming up with something that someone in the World of Warcraft might actually have as a name. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to roll up a troll warrior right now but being unable to come up with a good name, so you just take a brief look at him and decide to call him Tuskinator. I may wince a little, but I won't make fun of you for being named Shammyheals or Moohoof. Tusky, Shammy and Moo at least make for decent nicknames.

But some names just make me want to strangle someone because of how stupid they are, like the aforementioned Lalapala and Pallytard. I mean, really? That's the best you could come up with? You want people to address you as "hey tard"?

Which kind of brings us to what I can only guess is the root of the problem: I think people who give their characters really stupid names, the kind that will be cause you actual annoyance and embarrassment to use, is that they don't think about the fact that what they are naming is their avatar. They look at the character as something completely isolated from themselves and go "yeah, I'll just name this little picture Lalapala". The thing is, no matter whether you're into roleplaying or not, that avatar and its name will be all that people see of you in the game, so for all intents and purposes it is you. So before you name your next character something silly on the fly, think about whether you would want to be addressed by that name day in, day out yourself, or whether you would really like having to call out things like "Phukoff, taunt now!" in a raid every week. Names are for life - or until you reroll or pay for a name change - so the least you could do is spare more than a few seconds of thought on them. Otherwise I fear for any children you might have one day...

If only NameScore was as popular as GearScore!


About fun and rewards

One argument I keep hearing in the debate about the Cataclysm raid changes is that there's nothing wrong with twenty-five-man raids dying out (if they do), because if they do then that's just a sign that they aren't enjoyable enough anyway and people are only doing them because the loot rewards "artificially" keep them interested.

The problem I see with this argument is that it tries to completely separate in-game rewards from the concept of having fun, which is simply absurd in my eyes. Almost every WoW activity worth mentioning gives rewards of some sort. If they didn't, if all of WoW was there to be played "just for fun" as some people call it, there'd be no levels, no experience, no items, no gear, no money, no achievements. We'd all just run around randomly slapping boars, do a bit of exploring until we've seen it all, gank a few lowbies of the opposite faction and then log off. That would be a very different game than what we have now, and personally I don't think it would be very fun. As it is, rewards and fun in WoW are closely connected. Most of the time getting rewards of some kind if simply part of the fun.

I agree that there has to be some kind of balance though, in regards to how large a part these rewards play. Before the introduction of the dungeon finder and before Blizzard started to hand out emblems like candy, fewer and fewer people were running instances, especially while levelling. Does that mean that instances were no fun and should have been removed from the game? Hell no! They were good content and oodles of fun. However, the effort of taking ages to put a group together was un-fun, and you could generally get better rewards by investing your time into something else. What did the clever people at Blizzard do? They completely automated the un-fun task of assembling a group so players wouldn't be bothered by it anymore and added massive extra rewards for running instances at the same time. Bam, suddenly they were popular again. And that's a good thing.

However, many would argue that Blizzard swung the pendulum too far into the other direction. At max level, running heroics every day is simply the easiest way to gear up now by far (if very time-consuming), so people continue to queue up for instances long after they actually stopped having fun in them, which obviously isn't great either. PvP was like this back in BC: many pieces of gear that could be bought with honour and arena points blew raid gear for dps classes out of the water, so raiders felt that they had to PvP in order to improve their raid performance, even if they hated it - which in turn ruined the experience for the genuine PvP enthusiasts, as they kept getting into Alterac Valleys where half the group just sat in the cave waiting for the honour to roll in, because they didn't actually care about the game at all, only about the rewards. I don't think I need to explain why this is bad too.

I think in the fun vs. rewards aspect raiding has been pretty well-balanced in this expansion. I don't think anyone who hated raiding felt forced to do it just for the gear. You can get pretty far just by queuing for a dungeon every day, collecting emblems and drops from the Icecrown heroics, without ever setting foot into a raid. And as far as the ten vs. twenty-five-man loot discrepancy goes at the moment, I viewed it as a reward for the large scale co-operation, in the same way that running five-mans gives better rewards than just soloing all the time (which is obviously more convenient than having to set aside some time to devote to a group without pause). Few people question that system it seems. The proposed changes for future raiding sound to me like the equivalent of giving out frost emblems for a solo daily quest. I bet that would hurt five-mans a lot too - except not quite as badly because finding four people who'd be willing to put up with the extra effort for no extra reward would still be easier than finding twenty-four of them.

Unbalancing the effort/reward ratio for what's a reasonably popular form of content doesn't tell us anything about the content itself, only about the effort and the reward involved. People rarely running instances was not a sign of instances being inherently un-fun, and people camping in the peace cave in AV was not a sign of battlegrounds being more fun than anything else, these things were just signs of something being out of whack. So if people suddenly stop twenty-five-man raids in Cataclysm (and I agree that it's not yet decided whether that will happen or not, even if I kind of suspect it will) that won't be evidence of large groups being inherently un-fun either, only of Blizzard either messing it up or intentionally stopping to support a certain style of play.


It's the end of 25-man raiding as we know it

... and I'm not sure how I feel about it. All I know is that I'm appalled by all the (what I can only assume are) ten-man-only raiders that downrated every single negative comment on the WoW.com article on the subject into oblivion and who are now ridiculing twenty-five-man raiders for caring so much about loot - and that after many ten-man raiders spent all of this expansion whining about how having gear with a lower item level supposedly meant that they couldn't be taken seriously. Hypocritical much? (Disclaimer: I know not all ten-man-only raiders are like that of course.)

For the record, I'm in a twenty-five-man raiding guild myself, but I like doing ten-mans too. In fact, when I joined the guild back in BC, people were only just working their way through Karazhan and we were thus restricted to ten-mans only. We grew into a twenty-five-man guild simply because that was the only way to progress and our raid leader at the time was ambitious. Throughout WOTLK we still remained focused on twenty-five-mans, but people also ran tens on our "off-nights". Currently we field four ten-man teams on top of our three twenty-five-man raids a week. (The maths works out because a few of our guild members do tens only and some raiders run them on multiple characters.)

Nonetheless I'm not entirely happy with the way Blizzard has handled ten-man raiding in WOTLK, which is something I talked about before. I loved doing both raid sizes back in BC because they offered a different bonding experience as well as different content. I still enjoyed the small group experience in WOTLK, but having to run the same content that I was already doing on regular raid nights anyway was a bit off-putting to say the least, and it caused me as well as others in the raid force to occasionally "overdose" on the same raid much faster than we normally would have. I know why Blizzard went down that road, I understand why and don't expect them to go back to the old way, as I know that many people love it. I'm just saying that for me personally, unifying ten- and twenty-five-man raids diminished my raid experience somewhat.

That said, shared raid lockouts for ten- and twenty-five-man raids don't faze me all that much to be honest. Assuming my guild keeps running twenty-five-mans, I can still do tens on an alt if I really, really feel like having some fun in a smaller group and don't mind the repetitiveness, but at least there'll be no pressure to do both modes on my main for extra emblems or anything like that, so hopefully I won't grow tired of the content as quickly.

However, giving out exactly the same loot in both settings is something that I don't like. Simply put, the alternative rewards that are currently being proposed to compensate for "the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people" sound like a bunch of rubbish to me. As Larísa notes, bringing up gold drops as a reward is a bit of a joke. I couldn't even tell you how much gold any of the bosses I kill each week drop right now, because I don't care one bit and have never paid any attention to it. Emblems really aren't all that hot anymore either, assuming Blizzard continues the trend of handing them out for completing even the most trivial of tasks.

And more item drops per person? Hrm. I'll admit that I can't make a definite call on that one without actually knowing how many more items per person you'll get in twenty-five-man. If the ratio is going to be something like 2:2.5 it's just going to be another joke, but larger numbers might actually entice some people. However, as Spinks commented in response to Larísa's post, getting items faster also means that you'll end up gearing up faster and then getting bored faster. I'm sure many a raider knows what it feels like to gear up too fast and how it can be just as demotivating as gearing up too slowly. So this could turn out to be a double-edged sword either way.

Fact of the matter is, twenty-five-man raids require more effort than tens. Not necessarily in terms of personal skill during the boss fights, but in everything else. You need to find almost three times as many people who are willing to commit to a raid schedule and then get them to always show up on time. Making twenty-five people dance in sync is harder then doing it with ten. And progression is slower as well, simply because it takes longer for twenty-five people to all wrap their heads around a new concept than it does for ten. (And I vehemently have to disagree with Big Bear Butt here who claims that back in early WOTLK, when we were all on the same gear level, ten-mans were generally more challenging than twenty-five-mans. Looking at my achievements from back then it took us more than twice as long to clear Naxx on twenty-five-man than it did on ten.)

In short, twenty-five-man raid forces are already struggling as it is, having to recruit more, having to teach and gear more people, having to have more patience with their raiders as they have to wait for several dozen people to each learn at their own pace. And here Blizzard comes and says that they plan to take one of the last big incentives for running twenty-five-mans over tens, the exclusive ability to get the best loot in the game, away as well. I'm not surprised to see officers of large raiding guilds already ask why they should bother anymore.

It's not really about the loot for me personally; I genuinely like the epic experience of downing bosses with a larger group of people. However, I'm sure many people will be turned off by this change and turn towards tens simply because they require less "paperwork" while giving the same rewards. Others who don't care for having max level alts and are currently doing both modes on one character will be forced to choose just one group size, and many of them will likely pick ten-man also, reducing the pool of potential twenty-five-man raiders even more.

I have no idea what will happen to my own guild. I think we currently have enough people interested in twenty-five-mans that we could keep going down that road in Cataclysm, but I'm afraid that as soon as we'd hit our first snag in recruitment and had to fall back to just doing tens instead, many players might find themselves wondering why they don't do it like this all the time and just give up on the unrewarding task of struggling to get twenty-five-mans together, seeing how the net result for their character is the same anyway.

It wouldn't be the end of the (raiding) world for me, because as I said I do like tens. But there are definitely more than nine people in my guild whom I like, and I wouldn't be able to raid with all of them anymore, which would make me sad. Not to mention that I'd miss the thrill of so many voices crying out with joy on TeamSpeak whenever we finally beat a difficult encounter. I can only hope that Blizzard will still change their minds on this and come up with something to make sure that twenty-five-mans remain sufficiently rewarding to be worth the effort, so large raiding guilds actually stand more than a snowball's chance in hell to survive the Cataclysm.


Can crowd control really make a comeback?

In the recent Twitter developer chat one of the questions asked was whether crowd control would make a comeback in Cataclysm, and the answer was "an emphatic yes". My first reaction to this was: "Nice!" My second was: "Erm, how?"

Spinks touched on the subject of crowd control in a recent post of hers as well, and on how people tend to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. It's fun to be able to use different abilities for a change, but it's not necessarily fun to have to wait around while other people go through their own special moves, or even worse, to have to limit yourself so they can do better (for example by leaving a high-damage AoE attack out of your rotation so you don't break the shackle).

In casual group content you're likely to gravitate towards working in whichever way is fastest and most efficient, even if that leaves out certain bits that you personally find fun. It's human nature. Thus, if you want people to use crowd control, you have to make sure it's part of the most efficient way of handling things, or in other words, you have to ensure that not using it is so inefficient that it gets you killed.

In BC heroics we had to use crowd control mainly for two reasons: Firstly because tanks simply didn't have the tools to reliably hold aggro on four or more mobs at once, and secondly because some mobs did so much damage (whether on the tank himself or with abilities that targetted the rest of the group) that trying to tank them all at once - even if you could theoretically hold aggro - would result in death because the healer couldn't keep up.

Both of these factors pretty much disappeared completely in WOTLK instances. Tanks got AoE threat abilities that applied to an unlimited amount of targets, so they tanked unlimited amounts of targets. Like, duh. (One of my very first posts was about this subject as well.) And the mobs in Northrend heroics didn't really hit that hard anymore either, not even back when we were all in blues.

I still remember the very first time I set foot into a BC heroic at seventy. It was Slave Pens, by many considered the easiest one of the lot. Nonetheless we wiped about three times in the first room alone, as our tank just got turned into paste over and over again. Eventually I figured out that I had to wind up my biggest heal before the pull and time it so that it would land exactly at the moment when the mobs started to hit the tank, and then I had to keep spamming that same heal non-stop until most or all of the mobs were dead. I never encountered anything even remotely as unforgiving as that in WOTLK.

This is how we got into the "just AoE it all down" mindset that is so prevalent today. But can we actually go back to the way things way before? I actually don't think we can.

As far as tank threat goes, the problem with being able to generate threat on an unlimited amount of targets is that it's... well, unlimited. You can't make a pull of "unlimited plus one" mobs and then say: "Ha-ha, now you'll have to crowd control one!" No matter how many mobs you throw at a tank, his ability to keep their attention will be the same whether he's up against four or fourteen opponents. Thus the only way to make lack of tank threat a reason for crowd control again would be to severely hit all tanks with the nerfbat. The devs have actually made a comment or two about wanting to nerf AoE tanking a little bit, but to be honest I have a hard time imagining that they'll actually go through with it, not when there still aren't enough tanks to go around for most groups, despite of several tank specs having been buffed to hell and back. I don't think anyone wants to have crowd control back so badly that they'd rather wait even longer for a tank for their pug group.

Making heroic trash hit harder again would be an option of course, except that that would go completely against Blizzard's plans for making healing less frantically spammy in Cataclysm, because spam is what you have to do if a mob can hit your tank for half his health or more. Yet if the mobs don't hit that hard, there's no reason for your tank not to hold them all at once, and thus again no reason to use crowd control.

The only alternative I could personally see would be to make sure that a lot of trash mobs have extremely disruptive non-damaging abilities on short cooldowns. Imagine a pull of three mobs who all try to cast mind-control on someone in the party every five seconds. Or mass-fear constantly, or keep spamming heals on each other. The abilities would have to be fairly powerful and highly stacked to be really disruptive though, considering that a lot of mobs in WOTLK instances stun, heal and so on as well, but still don't cause considerable issues.

Then again, maybe the creative people at Blizzard have a completely different solution in mind. No matter how they go about it however, it will have to be quite punishing to not use crowd control, or else people just won't. The new ICC five-mans for example struck me as an example of mechanics that tried to "encourage" crowd control but pretty much failed utterly. Forge of Souls for example is chock-full of annoying, high-damage-dealing casters who are so far spread out that it's hard to AoE them properly, an invitation to just sheep at least one mob if I ever saw one. But how many people actually do it? In all the runs I've done of the place I think I had a mage sheep something once and a hunter who used a freezing trap once or twice and that was it. Or take the two pulls at the bottom of the ramp in Pit of Saron. Again, casters that are quite spread out and deal massive damage, yet most groups would still rather wipe three times trying to brute-force their way through than use crowd control. I'll forever remember the one time a death knight tank asked me to trap one of those casters while I was on my hunter, because it was just such a rare event.

If they know it can be done without CC, people will try to do it that way. Which kind of makes you wonder how many players really want it back anyway.


Sometimes I miss linear progression

Sometimes it's hard not to act like a grumpy old man, even when you're a woman.

I guess we all have those moments sometimes where we think that everything was better "back in the day" (both in WoW and in real life), but generally we realise that even at best that's only partially true, so we don't necessarily say it out loud. Many things are better now than they used to be, also both in WoW and in real life. But sometimes... sometimes it's hard not to be cranky.

I just came out of a normal Azjol-Nerub run with my draenei mage. We had a level eighty paladin tank in epic gear of a very high level: several drops from ICC ten-man and several pieces of emblem-bought ilevel 264 gear. I don't know what he was doing in normal Azjol-Nerub; I didn't bother to ask. Either way I figured that it should be a breeze as long as nobody got too cocky over having a level eighty in the group.

On the second boss the tank pulled Hadronox before he had a chance to web the tunnel entrances... and then kept spamming consecrate. The healer yelled at him to stop AoEing but he ignored it. A very slow and painful wipe ensued as the boss was endlessly healing himself for massive amounts with every add death.

As we ran back the tank asked why the adds had kept on coming. We explained. He seemed to think that our tone was condescending or something and told us not to talk to him as if he hadn't been here before. Um, he had just shown that he had no idea how the boss worked, hadn't he? "Anyway, the adds just kept on coming, there was nothing we could have done," he declared. Yes, there was. He could have stopped AoEing like the healer asked him to and we could have nuked down the big spider with single-target dps. He didn't argue the point any further - he seemed like a nice enough guy overall and the rest of the run was perfectly smooth, but I still couldn't help gnashing my teeth a little.

After the run I looked him up on the armoury. He had done Azjol-Nerub five times before, so there really was no excuse to not know the basics of the instance. Except, he also hit level eighty less than three months ago. I guess if you started running heroics at that point it wouldn't really teach you much, considering that you can largely ignore many boss mechanics these days. It's kind of depressing.

Back in BC (here it comes), if someone had gear from Black Temple, you could expect them to know their way around SSC and Tempest Keep too. If someone had the key to Karazhan, they weren't going to be completely clueless about the bosses in the Shadow Labyrinth. These days, none of it means anything. Someone could be in full ICC gear and get lost in Naxxramas. Or they might have hard mode achievements and die to something trivial and easily avoidable in a random heroic. I don't like it, because it makes something that used to have some meaning (level of gear) completely nonsensical and deceptive. Is it really that surprising that people go for silly requirements like "link achi plz" in search for something more informative?

I can deal with gear resets every so often, but if every other patch immediately pushes people into the newest piece of raid content, you can never expect anyone to have experience with anything but that content. And I think that kinda sucks, because I still like to enjoy the world beyond ICC as well.


Invasion of the sparkly ponies

So Blizzard is now offering a special mount in their online store, and everyone's going wild about it. On the blogs I read people mostly seem to be focused on the business aspect of the whole thing, whether they see it as a good thing that the mount doesn't actually give anyone an in-game advantage or frown at what they consider a very steep price tag for a virtual vanity item. For the record, I have no problem with this kind of RMT, and I don't mind the price either. People spend much larger sums on much stupider things, so twenty euros for a virtual horse don't strike me as that outrageous.

On my server, the pony craziness has already hit the community with full force. Krasus' Landing has turned into a horse show, and people are racing the things all over Dalaran as well. Last night I got to watch a grown man explode into excited squeals in guild chat as soon as he spotted his first pony after logging on. Earlier today I saw an orc warrior, whom I know to be a fairly "tough guy" type in real life, squat on top of one the sparkly horses in front of the north bank, looking extremely silly. The poor mount's legs looked as if they were about to buckle under the orc's weight at any moment. It looks quite cool when in flight, but something about the partial transparency makes the proportions look out of whack when it's on the ground, as if the torso's too fat and the legs too spindly. It looks utterly ridiculous.

When images of the celestial steed were datamined for the first time there was a lot of speculation about it being a drop from Arthas, or maybe from some boss in Ulduar. The ghost of Arthas' old horse? The mount of the titans? It all sounded very cool. From that point of view I'm a bit disappointed that it ended up in the cash shop instead. For me things only really have value in the game if that value is created in context. I like my mounts because I had to work for them, or I have a fond memory of getting really lucky with a drop rate or a loot roll, or because they are just the perfect fit for my character. A sparkly horse that randomly shows up in everyone's mailbox one day just because they spent some real cash in Blizzard's online store means nothing to me. If anything, this openly advertised breaking of immersion makes me frown a little. However, I realise that this is just my view of the game, and others will probably disagree.

So if you think that the celestial steed is just the mount for you and you have the money to spare... good for you! Still, remembering Lil' K.T. and the pandaren monk pet, I can't help but wonder if many of these newly-made horse lovers aren't fooling themselves just a little. When these mini-pets first came out they were all the rage as well - people were going on about the awesome animations they had, and I swear that half my raid force bought at least one of the two. There was a veritable army of these little guys out during out first couple of raids after their release. A few months later however, and they are completely forgotten. Many of those former impulse buyers just don't bother to have any vanity pet out at all, while others have gone back to showing off pets to which they actually have some kind of emotional connection. I can't blame them, and I'm sure that the sparkly pony will end up exactly the same way: it'll be a big fad for maybe a few weeks, but then people will grow tired of having the same mount as everyone else, something to which they have no real connection to other than that it gave them a brief feeling of "oh cool, I must have one of those", which then led to an impulse purchase.

But then, if everyone actually considered whether they really want a mount like that instead of going "OMG A PONY MUST HAVE", Blizzard wouldn't be printing money the way they do. I hope they put the extra millions they earn from that to good use at least.


Ignorance is bliss

Some time ago a friend and guildie of mine asked me how I felt about the concept of putting guild members on my ignore list. When I probed him about what had inspired this question he admitted that he had put another guildie (whom he barely knew) on his ignore list because whenever said guildie said anything in guild chat he just found it extremely annoying. I said that I didn't see a problem with that.

I suppose that in an ideal world everyone in a guild should like each other, but I can't help thinking of my guild as more of a large family (what with it's hundred-odd accounts), which simply has both its bright and its ugly sides. On the plus side it means that we have a strong core of long-time members who are very attached to each other even if they fight sometimes. On the downside you also have to deal with the guild equivalent of "that uncle you can't stand because he doesn't seem to do anything but tell stupid jokes", or moments of bewilderment as your third cousin's second ex-wife greets you warmly and you have no idea who the hell she is except that she's "family" and you're supposed to be nice. (I get the latter feeling a lot when people invite the alts of friends of friends into the guild.)

Anyway, the thing with a big family is that you kind of want everyone to get along, but at the same time you generally accept that this probably won't happen. Since I'm looking at a large guild the same way I see no problem with someone ignoring a fellow guild member, though when I discussed this with my friend I qualified at the time that it would probably be a problem if we were talking about two raiders. After all, raiders are supposed to be able to communicate during raids. In fact, there were one or two people in the raid force in the past year that I considered ignoring because they bothered me so much, but in the end I didn't dare to because I was afraid that it would come back to bite me in the arse at a crucial moment during a raid.

A few weeks ago someone finally managed to make me snap though and I ended up putting a raider on my ignore list for the first time. And I have to admit that it felt good. I found that he hadn't done anything that I could outright complain about to anyone and maybe I was being overly sensitive anyway, but his attitude and the way he talked to people were really starting to grate on my nerves. When he finally started to target me as well and chewed me out in whispers for not knowing how to do something or not doing it the way he wanted, I decided that I had had enough of it and just clicked ignore. It's really helped to make me feel better and suddenly I became a lot more relaxed and cheerful during raids again. At first there was still this vague fear that I might miss something important, but in reality that's extremely unlikely, as he's not in a leadership position or even doing anything remotely related to my own job in raids (which is precisely why I found his constant attempts to tell me and others what to do very annoying).

If anything I only feel vaguely guilty about basically just ignoring the problem, because as I said in the past I believe that a good guild is worth fighting for, and if I think that this guy is ruining the fun for a lot of people, shouldn't I do something? In all honesty though, I'm still feeling the lull and not really in a fighting mood, plus I have a hunch that this might be one of those problems that will sort itself out after a while. Sometimes simply ignoring something can make it effectively go away in my experience, as I've already "outlived" quite a lot of guild members that got on my nerves at some point or another.

Have you ever ignored a guildie or fellow raider?


Mr. Floppy's Perilous Adventure

This was the title of a quest that I encountered in Grizzly Hills today while continuing my casual investigation of Alliance quests in Northrend. I was innocently riding along the road when I noticed an exclamation mark inside one of the abandoned towers on my mini-map.

Curious, I went to investigate... and beheld a humongous rabbit. Okay, so it wasn't really humongous, but when you're used to tiny critter-sized rabbits, seeing one the size of a normal mob and with a level tag of sixty-eight is quite a shock in comparison.

For a brief moment I was overcome by panic. I'm not a habitual critter killer (in fact the sad squealing sounds of brutally murdered rabbits and squirrels tend to make me sad), but I'd lie if I said that I'd never committed such an act. In my mind's eye, the giant rabbit became even larger, until it eventually enraged and pounced on me with the words "That's for all the little bunny rabbits!"... but no. In reality he just sat there quietly with his level five girl non-combat pet, who proclaimed that she was lost and asked if I couldn't lead her and Mr Floppy back to camp. An escort, alright.

For a supposedly lost girl she was very quick to stroll off without waiting for any guidance from me, and immediately made a point of getting off the perfectly serviceable road just to walk through the forest - which was of course heavily populated by worgs and bears. Why do escort NPCs always have to be so stupid?

As a random bear came into aggro range it decided to ignore the girl and went straight for the rabbit, which caused her to break out into panicked squeals asking me to save the little guy. I did so multiple times.

But then... a worg spawned right in front of me, made a beeline for Mr Floppy - and it was unattackable! It viciously closed its jaws around the giant little rabbit and started shaking it to death. "Nooo," I yelled at my screen. "Mr Floppy! This is unfair and way too dramatic for my poor little heart!" My boyfriend even came over to look what the hell I was going so crazy about. Finally the wolf became attackable and I killed it as quickly as I could. "Don't go toward the light, Mr Floppy!" I echoed the girl's words... and lo and behold, he got up again and they happily pranced towards the camp together, allowing the escort to complete successfully.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Who said WoW quests aren't interesting and engaging?


Planned priest changes for Cataclysm: miscellany

So I already made a post detailing my thoughts on the new spells priests are supposed to get in Cataclysm, but there were a few more things in the preview that I wanted to comment on.

Dispel mechanics

Okay, I cheated, that wasn't actually in the priest preview, but it does concern priests as well. We're going to lose abolish disease and I'm honestly not that bothered. It was a useful spell, but more so in PvP than in PvE, and whenever I did have to dispel diseases in PvE I mostly just ended up spamming the spell anyway because I was too impatient to wait for the three second tick to attempt another dispel on its own.

I've heard rumours that mass dispel is going too, but couldn't find anything official about that. Does anyone know? It's hardly a core tool for a raid healer so I'm not that worried either way, but I would find it a bit odd if that one was removed, because aside from the obvious dispelling en masse it also allows you to dispel things that aren't affected by normal dispels (like pally bubbles and mage's ice blocks), so that would be a more considerable nerf than losing abolish disease.

More than anything I feel sorry for the other healing classes who'll have their dispels changed/nerfed, especially the shamans. I don't mind the idea of all classes having an equal number of dispels overall, but it bugs me that Blizzard is including offensive dispels in that count, because they are so PvP-only it's not funny. I can't think of a single PvE encounter where healers dispelling offensively would be considered essential (I dispelled Jaraxxus' nether power a few times, just to get yelled at by the mages who now didn't have an awesome damage buff to spellsteal anymore), and even counting those where it could be marginally useful I don't even have to use all the fingers on one hand. I bet a lot of PvE resto shamans would have happily given up their ability to purge to keep their disease and poison cleansing, but PvP balance rules all I guess.

Less mana regen and no more spirit buffs

Okay, so Blizzard wants to make mana regen a concern for healers again. I welcome that change, because I always prided myself in my ability to heal efficiently, time my cooldowns properly and so on. It's a fun aspect of gameplay in my eyes.

Nonetheless the removal of all spirit buffs has me baffled to say the least. "As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don't want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play." Excuse me, but why? I'll definitely need a lot more mana regen during a ten-minute raid boss fight than when I'm solo questing and can sit down to drink whenever I feel like it, so why shouldn't my mana regeneration be different in those two situations? Somehow that smacks me as illogical. I can only guess that Blizzard's main reasoning behind this change is to make it easier for them to balance mana regen, seeing how they now won't have to worry about healers being buffed in a group setting, ever, but it strikes me as a very unelegant sledgehammer solution. Surely they can do better than that? Tanks will still get to see their health double in raids, damage dealers get to watch their dps skyrocket with the right buffs, but healers will always be the same. Joy. I'm surprised most priest blogs I read just shrugged this change off as "eh, one less candle I have to buy for buffing".


This is currently supposed to be the name for an ability to allow priests to become better at a certain type of healing after casting a few specialised spells in a row. I think that sounds like a solid plan, though the cited example of getting better at group healing after casting three prayers of healing in a row raised more than a few eyesbrows... because who casts three prayers of healing in a row, ever? Even more so when we're supposed to watch our mana pools more carefully in cataclysm...

What I'm curious about is what this will look like in practice. People have made comparisons to serendipity, which is simply a stacking buff, but since there was also mention of UI changes to make people feel more like they are "in the zone" I wonder if it won't feel more like stances and forms do currently.

Oh, and I agree that Chakra is an awkward name. I wouldn't mind if they settled on something else in the end.


This is supposed to be the top tier of the holy priest "mastery tree", and the thing that struck me about this one is that it doesn't seem as obvious as the disc tree's absorption bonus, because holy isn't exactly "the HoT tree" right now. Yes, our renew is quite good and I'm a big fan of it myself, but still, that's one spell. Otherwise we're really more of a direct AoE healer, so shouldn't we have a mastery bonus that goes with that? Like, I don't know, a small splash effect to some of our heals, along the lines of the effect from Althor's Abacus or a paladin's Glyph of Holy Light? Or simply a flat-out bonus to all of our multi-target heals? Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely against the tacked-on HoT idea, it just strikes me as something that could really change the overall feel of the spec. We'll see how it pans out I guess.


Funniest rage quit ever

Now, I've seen a lot of strange things in my pugging career, but what I got to witness today was definitely a special kind of bizarre. The scene: normal Old Kingdom. I'm on my draenei mage. We have a warrior tank, a paladin healer, and the other two damage dealers are a gnome death knight and a shaman.

Things go perfectly smoothly until after the first boss. There's this bit where you run around the corner and down some stairs, and there's a patrol there that you can avoid. The tank does so and we follow, but the healer trails a little behind and aggroes it anyway. The dps notices and jumps to his aid. Meanwhile the tank has obliviously continued down the stairs and repeatedly tells us to come, IN CAPS, until he finally asks us where we are and what we "useless people" are doing. "We're fighting some mobs here," someone explains. By the time he makes it back they are dead anyway, but he angrily demands to know who aggroed. We explain what happened and I fully expect him to start chewing out the healer for being stupid or something, but to his credit he restrains himself. For now.

On the terrace below, with the patrolling giants that fear, we somehow end up pulling more than we can handle and wipe. I don't know if this was actually because of the fear or if one of the melee dpsers simply body-pulled, but I thought that it was quite obvious that it was an accident either way - as opposed to an overeager dps deciding to pull for the tank or anything of the like.

Now, the conversation that ensued as we ran back was so priceless that I had to take screenshots of it, but unfortunately I messed them up so they aren't really fit for posting. Let me just transcribe things instead, bad spelling and all:

Tank: WHy
Tank: why
Tank: u run over there ang aggro them
Gnome: I need repair now :(
Healer: u line of sighted me sorry stay in the open
Tank: Im gonna say this one time... DONT pull just follow me
Healer: ur extra use of capitlas definantly make me scared :)
Tank: If stupid pulls werent there.. we wouldnt have wiped and theres no sense in wiping in this sad dungeon

I mentally gave the healer a thumbs-up there for being snarky in response to the tank, seeing how he had managed to convey in only two sentences that 1) he thought everything revolved around him and an overpull couldn't possibly be an accident or anything, people were just intentionally trying to be difficult, 2) he clearly considered himself above this dungeon and 3) he hated it anyway. Excuse me, but why are you here again? Anyway, the really good bit came as we corpse-ran back:

Healer: tum tee tum
Tank: tum tee tum wtf is that

Yes. He got angry over someone saying "tum tee tum". I'll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Healer: uhh words?
Me: the written out equivalent of humming a tune?
Healer: u should see a councilor if tum tee tum angers u, I hope u know tht
Tank: Do this instance by ur urselves.. hippies
Gnome: haha
[Healer is now the Dungeon Guide.
Tank leaves the party.]
Everyone at once: lol

And it was enough to make him rage-quit, after calling us a bunch of *gasp* hippies. I couldn't help picturing this really butch guy sitting behind his PC, fuming over the insolence of puggers today, mocking their tanks with "tum tee tum"s or whatever it was they said! I AM THE TANK HERE AND THERE WILL BE NO HUMMING OF TUNES UNLESS I SAY SO!

It probably took us less than a minute to get a new tank and we finished the run without any further problems. We may have been a bunch of tune-humming hippies, but we were far from incompetent, thank you very much!


Planned priest changes for Cataclysm: new spells

So, the priest class preview for Cataclysm is out (forum link, WoW.com link). And wow, it contains some crazy stuff. I'd just like to talk about the announced new spells in this post.


This might sound underwhelming to many people, but I'm quite excited about good old Heal making a comeback. I love it when Blizzard takes an ability that is largely ignored because of its uselessness and actually gives it a purpose again - better than just constantly adding new stuff on top, and it goes well with the whole revamp theme of the expansion.

I was never one to downrank much back whenever I healed back in BC (which wasn't all that often), but going from two to three different sizes of single-target heals strikes me as a nice addition of more choice. If mana management really becomes relevant again like the devs claim, being able to choose the right heal for the occasion will become a more important healing skill again, and having more to choose from will allow that process to be more finely tuned and skillful.

Mind Spike

Now, I haven't been shadow in a while, but this sounds like a good idea. That is to say, every point of reasoning brought up in the blue post to justify the addition of the spell sounds sensible.

There's just two things that concern me slightly. First off, why level eighty-one? I seriously hope that this is just the level where it will be introduced initially, but that Blizzard will then decide to give it to priests at lower levels too. (And while they are at it, they might lower the level requirement for Mind Sear as well.) As I understand it, this is not meant to be an uber powerful spell but simply something to fill a certain niche of damage dealing. Last time I was shadow and soloing some mobs in Icecrown I was annoyed by the fact that with dot application and how slowly they ticked, mobs didn't die much faster than they did when I just holy-smited them, even though my character was much more powerful. I'd love me a fast nuke for that kind of situation, and you bet that people will have similar encounters all the time long before level eighty-one.

The other concern I have is that I think a new spell like this might be difficult to balance in terms of power. Personally I've found that the whole dot system only really works well on mobs with very high health, like raid bosses, of which there aren't really that many in the game if you think about it. So if people suddenly have a powerful nuke to use instead of dots, what's preventing them from using that nearly all the time, while soloing, in PvP etc.? It could really weaken the overall flavour of the class if dotting things becomes the exception instead of the rule. On the other hand, if Mind Spike is too weak, people won't have much reason to use it at all. I wonder which way the balance will swing first.

Inner Will

I really like this one as well, though we'll see how useful it actually ends up being. Inner Fire is great, but I do like the option of using another buff as a point of strategic interest. Depending on the fight, smart priests might even switch back and forth mid-combat! Warlocks and mages have had different armour spells for ages, so why not.

Leap of Faith

Ah, the big one. The first words that came to mind when I read the description of that spell were "bad idea". And I'm not the only one. It's kind of funny though, all the priests seem to be going "WTF what is this crap", while the death knights are bewildered and jealous.

For me it's quite simple: I don't like death grip. It's easily the most annoying spell you can encounter in PvP, closely followed by the various knockbacks, but at least their annoyance factor is limited by the terrain. There is just something extremely infuriating about having your character moved for you against your will - I'd choose a good old chain fear or a stun lock over being deathgripped any day. Or you can just decide not to pvp and save yourself the frustration entirely.

With "life grip", people won't have that choice. I expect that there'll be some restrictions that will prevent people from being yanked all over Dalaran non-stop (you'll probably have to be grouped, maybe even in combat), but even so... not pvping won't be an escape anymore, because now your friends and allies will be your enemies too. Great.

Also, in PvE death grip can both be extremely useful in the hands of a competent player (pulling caster mobs towards the tank) and extremely annoying in the hands of an incompetent one (randomly pulling mobs away from the group). Now ask yourself, which one do you see more often? Priests might not have the same bad reputation as death knights, but we're far from being a unified bastion of competence. In fact, some of the worst healers I've ever seen were priests too. Leap of faith will give them a way of showing that more than ever and make everyone in their party miserable. Can't you already picture all those bossy and juvenile priests randomly yanking the tank around because they'd prefer him to be positioned differently? In fact, more terrible players might be encouraged to play the class too since it'll give them a way to grief people for fun. Yegads. I wouldn't be surprised if priests became the most hated pug healers in Cataclysm with this change. The griefing possibilities are endless.

And for those of us who try to play our class well and be a boon to our party? We'll be burdened more than ever with the responsibility of not just being a healer, but being a babysitter. Huntard is lagging and can never make it out of the fire in time? Oh, I'm sure Priest can take care of that, right? I've seen comments that no raid leader would ask for such a thing, but I've never seen a raid where people weren't asked to use all their abilities to their fullest extent, and it's almost always easier to force a good player to compensate than to replace a bad one on the spot.

I like healing, I like helping, but I don't want to have so much power that I have to feel responsible for every little thing. And I don't want juvenile jerks abusing that same power and giving my class a bad rep, so I really hope that life grip doesn't go live as it's described.


Book review: Beyond the Dark Portal

After being reasonably pleased with my last couple of purchases of Warcraft fiction, I decided to also acquire this novel by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden when I spotted it on the shelves of our local book store. Unfortunately this one was a bit of a letdown for me. It wasn't bad per se, but neither plot nor characters really managed to pull me in and hold my attention. I'm a slow reader when it comes to books these days, but the way I could only get myself to read a few pages of this one at a time and then always proceeded to not even touch it for days was lackluster even by my standards.

As far as the plot goes... well, I felt that it didn't have that much to begin with, and what was there was awkwardly structured. It starts with the Dark Portal being closed after the Second War, then Ner'zhul opens it again, then some Alliance come through the portal to Draenor and close it again. In a nutshell. And since the opening and closing of the portal is what everything is centered around, the fact that it starts with being closed and ends with being closed makes it feel like the story goes exactly nowhere. Everyone is constantly referring to all the interesting stuff that happened before the start of the book (the Second War), and there are hints at more interesting stuff happening after the end of the book (the Third War, among other things), but the actual book you're reading feels like it's just a bit of filler in-between, and that just didn't cut it for me in this case.

That's not to say that nothing of interest happens at all: You find out how the Alliance got established on Draenor ("Oh, they just built the Allerian Stronghold! And that must be Wildhammer Stronghold!"), get to follow Deathwing through the Dark Portal and get to experience the destruction of the planet. Yes, you get to read about how Outland came about, but somehow the authors manage to make even something as massive in scope as the destruction of an entire world sound relatively unremarkable. Oh look, there's some earthquakes and floating rocks and the sea is gone... but never mind, we must catch that Ner'zhul guy! /facepalm

Character development was also lacking in my eyes. Ner'zhul is an interesting character, but compared to say, his portrayal in Rise of the Horde, his second descent into madness in Beyond the Dark Portal doesn't get fleshed out in nearly as much detail. There are more interesting personalities roaming around on Horde-side, but they all tend to only make brief appearances before disappearing again, making it hard for the reader to ever get particularly attached to any of them.

On Alliance-side we have a more consistent but less interesting ensemble: I loved Khadgar in The Last Guardian, but what he gained in experience and power since then seems to have come at a loss in personality. Turalyon the paladin is such a goodie-two-shoes that it hurts sometimes; at first you wish him well and root for him, but after a while his eternal and unwavering faith in the light and all its goodness just gets boring. And Alleria? She basically starts out as a traumatised and angry bitch, which for some reason everyone sees as an obvious sign that she needs some man-loving from Turalyon (no really), and when she finally caves to the peer pressure and lets him have some, she then transforms into an empty shell of a love interest who's only there to encourage her man by occasionally squeezing his hand and giving him loving smiles. Blech.

Also, I'm all for creative use of language, but "young-old" as a casually used adjective needs to die in a fire. Okay, so Khadgar is a young person in an old man's body. I don't mind being reminded of that occasionally, but if you do so then take the time to bloody type it out. Casually throwing out a phrase like "the young-old mage said this and that" is just... no.


You want me to do what?

Questing as Alliance is certainly turning out to be interesting. I had heard that there are some cool Alliance-only quest chains in Northrend, including things like a flashback in Frostmourne Cavern or finding out that Muradin Bronzebeard has become the king of some frost dwarves, but already at level seventy-five I'm realising that there's much, much more.

For example I thought that Blizzard had left the poo joke quests behind in Outland, but as I found out they did continue that tradition in Northrend, they just made it Alliance-only.

As early as Howling Fjord I received an assignment to literally scare the shit out of some bats for example. Why not wait until the inevitable happens on its own? Or, um, just cut it out of them? At least there's a precedent for that. No, we have to throw firecrackers at them so they crap on our shoes and then we get to kill them. Happy flashbacks made me feel as if I was back in Outland, taking felhounds for a walk with a poo bag.

Then I continued to Grizzly Hills. In the Amberpine Lodge there was a quest that started from a bucket of nuts next to the door. You click on it and it says something like "how nice, you were hungry anyway, so you eat them". Then it tells you to talk to some guy in the lodge to find out what it was that you just ate - anyone else immediately had the thought that it would have been much more sensible to do those things in reverse order? So you talk to this guy and... he's upset that you ate the seeds and demands that you fetch him some roots so he can give you diarrhea. Yes, you read that right. And it's got a punny quest title too.

So you do as asked, feeling slightly bewildered, and just as you think it can't get any worse - it does. You actually have to play through going to the toilet! You click on the outhouse, your character portrait gets replaced by a pain suppression icon, you gain a debuff called indisposed and get to watch the outhouse emitting fumes of smoke for ten seconds or so.

The reward for the quest was a Fetid Loop - what, did that come out of my butt as well? I don't remember swallowing any jewellery lately... and the best thing: after the quest is completed, the quest giver calls over another NPC and tells him to put the seeds back into the bucket again. Oh, so that's why they smelled so ni... hurk.

Looking at the comments on wowhead there's apparently yet another Alliance poo quest in Borean Tundra that I have yet to see. Oh Lordy.


The Mechanar Reloaded

I decided to revive yet another one of my Alliance characters, namely my night elf druid who has been hovering around the late Outland levels for ages. She had no talents when I first logged on, but gear for several different roles was packed in her bags so I specced her feral and decided to do some randoms as a tank.

After tanking Sethekk Halls for the third time in a row (not on the same day, I'm not that insane), I ended up with three people staying in the party and asking me if I wanted to do another run. Since I did fancy it and had actually had a pretty long queue beforehand (as a tank, what is the world coming to) - an experience I wasn't too keen on repeating - I agreed. After some discussion we decided to queue for one of the old level seventy instances at random. We ended up in the Mechanar.

I knew that it would be challenging because we were all one to three levels below seventy, but I also felt a pleasant wave of nostalgia wash over me immediately. I had run the Mechanar so many times back in the day, first for Sha'tar rep, then for people wanting Sun Eaters, then again for badges of justice. I knew every pull, I knew every patrol, I knew which mobs had to die first, I knew which special abilities to watch out for - and it was good because I don't think anyone else did, and they appreciated me confidently taking the lead and explaining things.

My healer was a night elf priest who said that it was first time doing this instance and who had no visible heirlooms, but from the way he played I got the impression that he wasn't really new to the game either. He apologised all the time when people died, even if it wasn't his fault at all, which made me very sympathetic towards him. I don't think healers should beat themselves up too much over people dying (regardless of whose fault is is actually), but I have this theory that all really good healers at least go through a phase where they feel that they should be able to save everyone, all the time, and feel bad if they can't pull it off. Be grateful when you get a healer like that; you know their heart's really in it.

Our mage was in the same guild as the priest and didn't talk much, but I found him likeable for the simple quality of being what I'd consider an "old-school mage", meaning that he had about half as much health as everyone else and ended up hugging the floor a lot, while being completely stoic about it and never saying a bad word. I love me a mage who knows his place. (/joke)

Then there was the dps warrior, who was a bit of a numpty to be honest - needing on everything he could use in any way, always dpsing the mobs from the front or body-pulling things by accident... but we couldn't really hold it against him, because he was also friendly, patient, and genuinely enthusiastic about kicking boss butt.

Lastly we had a hunter from my server, who was also clearly a bit inexperienced, as it turned out when she wanted to know how to display statistics about damage done and so on and I struggled to explain the concept of addons to her. She was clearly still learning and her pet wasn't always attacking what it should, but overall she was very well-behaved and did her job.

So our little group ventured into what used to be endgame in Burning Crusade, while being one to three levels too low for it really. When Gatewatcher Iron-Hand "raised his hammer menacingly" both the warrior and the hunter got mashed into a pulp, leaving just the level sixty-seven mage to slowly whittle away at the mini-boss's health. After a while the healer asked if we should just give up and try again, especially as he was running out of mana, but I managed to throw him an innervate and we successfully pulled through. I was proud.

We had one wipe on Capacitus as the healer ran out of mana and I didn't think of trying to innervate him until it was too late. I promised that I'd do better on the next try, and he said that he'd make an effort to heal with more mana efficiency. In the end he didn't even need that innervate. Everyone complimented him on his healing and he was positively glowing.

We killed Gyro-Kill for the second piece of the legion key - I was worried that we might be in trouble if people from different servers looted the two halves, but fortunately one went to me and the other to the hunter, so we had no problem trading them. Just out of curiosity though, does anyone know if they adjusted this for the cross-server LFG? I know they made adjustments for the item to summon Ironaya in Uldaman, but I don't know if anyone remembered to do this for the Mechanar as well, considering it probably sees less traffic than Uldaman these days.

Nethermancer Sepethrea was as much of a bitch as I remember her being in the old days. Our first attempt was pretty good though, with us getting her to about twenty percent before we wiped. Just as we were about to pull her again, the warrior suddenly needed to go AFK because his girlfriend was on the phone. Now, this is the kind of thing that can easily be annoying for everyone in the group, especially in a pug, but as it was I felt incredibly laid-back and patient. We were all in this together, working together, fighting together, communicating... it's funny how quickly you can become more understanding of people's little quirks and flaws if you're only sufficiently invested in the group itself. Unfortunately invested is exactly what many people aren't in heroic pugs these days, and that's why you get all these rage-quits and demands for kicks as soon as someone does as much as look funny.

Anyway, so our warrior was practically AFK. He was still bouncing around however, which confused our priest, but by the warrior's own admission he was only doing that randomly while holding the phone in his other hand. I couldn't suppress a wry grin at the thought of the kinds of things I tend to do on the PC while talking to my mother on the phone and going "mm-hmm", "yes, Mum" and "really" at irregular intervals - let's just say that I could relate. Eventually the warrior told us to just pull without him. I was getting bored enough to give four-manning it a try, but the warrior doomed us when his random bounces led him into the next tunnel and triggered the first wave of the gauntlet mid-boss fight. Again this could have been massively annoying, but somehow we just laughed it off.

I think we had one more wipe after that, but eventually we got her down and much cheering was heard across the land. Seriously, you'd have thought we downed a raid boss or something. She dropped Stellaris (which the warrior needed of course) and someone commented: "An axe?! How anticlimatic."

We managed to get through the gauntlet reasonably well, until I missed a mob running loose within all the AoE on the last wave, and everyone but me and the hunter died. I tried to res people up quickly but Panthaleon was already coming for us, so we made a run for the elevator to reset him. Just like old times! The actual boss kill was a piece of cake in comparison.

Even though it was a pug that included lots of wipes, that run left me feeling extremely happy and satisfied. It was nice to feel somewhat challenged in an instance again. We didn't go as far as using crowd control, and some abilities being more powerful these days than they were in Burning Crusade was very noticeable (I remember when it was impossible to expect a tank to pick up Panthaleon's adds... nowadays one swipe at the right moment will pretty much do the trick), but it still felt much more engaging than most WOTLK instances do these days. So many abilities to watch out for, so many pulls that require care... sometimes I think my longing for the good old BC days isn't just nostalgia. As far as mechanics go, it seems to me that the instances really were more interesting and challenging a lot of the time, because they still play differently these days, even as you AoE things instead of focus-firing.

And of course, the camaraderie. I had almost forgotten how much fun it could be to actually bond with a bunch of strangers, to chat, laugh and work on a challenge together, as opposed to just being grouped up for what might as well be random mob grinding for how engaging it is.

I think I'll stay in Outland for a little longer.