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Dotonbori in Osaka

It’s been a little while since the last update so here’s what’s been going on lately in WoW and life for me.

The Big Trip To West Japan:

Over the Christmas break I took a trip to west Japan just like I did last year. We bought something called the Seishun Juhachi Kippu which I highly recommend. Basically it’s a ticket to ride the slow local trains all you want for five non-consecutive days, and it’s only about $100 which is great. We went to Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto and spent about a week traveling. It was great fun and certainly something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, however if it didn’t pan out I think I would have been pretty happy just to sit at home and play WoW for a week and relax.

Some of the stories from the trip are a little too wild to blog about, but let’s just say that a good time was had by all. Some highlights include crazy times at karaoke, eating miso katsu in Nagoya, and being covered in pigeons in a park.

Now for WoW stuff.

My priest, Truckspank, is now geared to the teeth from emblems and although I enjoy healing heroics a ton, there is now little to no incentive to continue doing so. I even spent about 40 emblems or so to get exalted with the Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enchants. One thing I like about that is that the enchants are BOA so I bought two and sent one off to my mage, Chipdipson. I suppose I could try to keep doing one heroic a day for the emblems of frost seeing as I’m only about 6 days away from getting a new cloak. I suppose I just don’t really care too much about it.

I guess I could convert some emblems down and get more heirloom chest pieces. Maybe I’ll give that a shot. So far most of my heirloom pieces are only from the Wintergrasp shards that drop from the bosses occasionally.

Despite the long wait to queue for dungeons as DPS, I’ve managed to get my mage pretty well geared up which is nice. There is still a lot of room for gear improvement, but in the interest of time management I think I’m just gonna let him sit for awhile. Although he’s a lot of fun to play, I’d have to say that I prefer to plays priests now. It may sound a little strange, but sometimes I feel more pressure to pay attention when I play a DPS classes which may be the result of having an overgeared priest. Usually I can just throw a couple heals out and just chill.

As for WoW in general, one problem that’s happened to me a few times now is instant boredom and overall lack of interest once I feel that my character is “maxed out” with gear. Sure there’s always raiding to do, but I’ve never really had the time to devout to that even on a very casual level. So I decided to level up on my alts and put my two 80s on hold for a little bit until whenever I feel like playing them again.

Partydoctor?

Alts:

Lately I solely been playing my druid, Partydoctor, and getting him leveled up. He’s currently at about 38 and specced for healing so I can get into groups faster via the LFD tool. I had initially considered dual speccing him as DPS or a tank but I think I’m going to save the gold for later. I came to this conclusion for two reasons. The first being that queueing as DPS takes forever and the second being that it seems like leather tanking gear rarely drops. I’m also not too fond of the druid’s tanking mechanics. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about not being able to see your gear and the same animations and I think I’d agree with them.

So far healing as a druid is pretty fun, but vastly different from a priest. I think overall I still prefer the priest, but I have hope that druid healing will become more fun as I level up some new skills. I did however have to do a little bit of research to figure out how to maximize my spells. One mistake I made was I was trying to use Healing Touch (the really long cast heal) as a sort of flash heal when the tank was getting pretty low. The long cast time really makes this an almost useless spell so I glyphed for Regrowth and now use that as my spam healing spell. I’m also pretty excited about healing as a tree in level 80 PVP. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any PVP so that should be fun.

I’ve also been thinking about tanking a lot lately and have decided to try it out on a paladin. I currently have a level 21 human paladin named Varlant that I hate for several reasons. The first reason is that I give all of my characters funny names that are inspired by podcasts. So far some of these include Chipdipson, Truckspank, Partydoctor, and Phillyboyroy. As you can see, the name Varlant really doesn’t mesh with the lighthearted vibe of my other characters. The second reason is the look of humans in game. For whatever reason I recently took a liking to draenai characters so I think I’m going to delete the level 21 and make a new draenai. The draenai racial healing buff can come in handy as well. With a bunch of heirloom gear to go around, I’m sure I can get a new character up to 21 in no time.

One problem however is that I really have no idea how to tank and it seems a little intimidating. I’m trying to read up on some basic strategies on blogs and hopefully it won’t be too bad. I figure that if I learned to heal pretty quickly, there shouldn’t be too much stopping me from learning how to be a badass tank. I’m mainly interested in tanking to get groups faster via LFD and to learn another aspect of the game.

Well that’s gonna do it for this post. Thanks for reading!
https://thoughtsofwarcraft.wordpress.com

Brad

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I still haven’t chosen a favorite dungeon out of the new Ice Crown Citadel 5-mans, but Halls of Reflection certainly is interesting. So far I’ve found all of the instances to be quite a challenge as well as a good opportunity to snag some new loot. Out of the three times that I’ve actually been inside HoR, two of them were under some odd circumstances.

The first time I entered the instance it was during a glitch where no mobs spawned at all. Even though I certainly wouldn’t count this as an attempt, I was still able to walk around and get a feel for the last section. Once we realized the glitch, our group decided to see if the gunship was there to get some free loot but we were thoroughly disappointed. Of course we were stuck with the 15 minute debuff, but that’s about it for that story.

I later joined up for a random dungeon and found a group who downed everything up until the gauntlet section at the end. They had told me that they wiped about 10 times so far which didn’t bode well for me, but I figured that I would give it a shot just to see how hard it was. Not surprisingly, I found it to be pretty damn hard. This being my first time there, I later assumed that the entire instance was only the last gauntlet section.

We started the event and I pretty much knew what to do. Once the ice walls came down it was fairly obvious that all we needed to do was not die until it came down. It also wasn’t long before I had to go into what I’m now affectionately referring to as “The Zone.” Although I’ve found that I can really force myself to get in “The Zone,” it’s a pretty cool feeling when it does happen. It’s a feeling akin to being on autopilot, where every decision you make is pure instinct based on past experience. Perhaps it’s like the tale of the mother who found the strength to lift a car off of her child. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing, but it was the right thing.

I healed like this for wave after wave of scourge until I finally died at what was literally the very last moment. This being my first time in HoR, I didn’t know if it was finished and considered it a wipe until I was able to roll on loot. It was quite exhilarating and I was able to get some good epics out of the deal too.

That group and I continued to run about four more heroics until the tank started acting odd and doing dumb wipe-causing pulls and high-jumps from bridges. It was then that I thanked them and excused myself from the group and queued up again, only to instantly find myself back with the same group. We all had a pretty good laugh about it and I decided that it must have been fate so we finished the instance.

Finally I was able to get a full clear of Halls of Reflection and it was a lot of fun. I even got some compliments on my healing which is always a nice feeling. There were a few close calls on account of the fact that I started playing not long after I woke up, but overall it was pretty good. However, I did find it a bit weird that almost the whole group had to spend most of the first section staring at a wall. Kinda strange considering that there was so much cool stuff to look at.

As for the final gauntlet, this group had it together and there really weren’t any close calls in the least. It was so smooth in fact that it made me wonder as to whether or the first had any business being there at all.

Stay tuned for more posts. There’s tons to talk about after 3.3 dropped! Thanks for reading.

Brad

This past Sunday morning (6 p.m. server time) I joined up once again with the people from the Raiding 101 group and we headed in to Naxx 10 man. Even though it was only Naxx, I did my best throughout the week to gear up as much as I could via the new LFG system to get just a little more healing coming through. I also made a point to be sure that all my gear was gemmed and enchanted out. So far I’m really enjoying the vibe of the group. Although many of the people are different from week to week, I think it’s a pretty nice and valuable thing that the raid leaders are doing.

The group had already taken down a couple of the bosses earlier in the week, so we were able to get a little deeper into Naxx than last week. We began on Maexxnna and I think we had one wipe, but we were off to the Plague Quarter soon enough. Noth went down far easier than the week before. It was actually pretty shocking considering how hard it was to heal him before. Of course after that we headed off to Heigan the Unclean and the infamous “dance” of his. Everyone knew this is where the trouble would start, but then again it was called Raid 101 for a reason.

Up to this point I had only done Heigan as a DPS once and needless to say I died pretty early on. After about 3 wipes we were about to call the raid as it was nearing towards our three hour time limit for the raid. But, we decided to try one more time and that’s when I finally got the hang of the dance. My strategy, although a little flawed, was to just run straight through without stopping. This got me clipped a couple times, but with a preemptive shield and some HOTs I was able to make it through, although it was pretty close.

Luckily, as a holy priest I have a ton of instant cast spells which really saved the day. While running I was able to get off some Prayers of Mending and a few Circles of Healing. Not too bad. I think it took about three dances or so before downing him, but it was quite the thrill with people screaming into vent again. It was definitely a good feeling. My main thought while running was pretty much just “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”

With spirits high, we decided to give Loatheb a try. Despite being past our three hour limit, everyone was still game for it. The main thing he does, from a healer’s perspective, is to only allow healing for three seconds at a time, every 20 seconds. I had the Deadly Boss Mobs add-on installed, but it was really confusing. One alert would pop up on the screen and then stay there, while another alert would pop up somewhere else. I pretty much had no idea when the window was so I just kept casting normally and hoped for the best. This strategy almost made me run out of mana, but we had a druid who stepped up to heal as well so we were ok.

I gave it my all and got an invite to join the group’s progressive raiding team which is pretty cool. Again, because of the crazy time difference I won’t be able to make it to too many raids, but it’s a pretty cool feeling to get recognized. It kinda make me feel like a “real” healer, although I still haven’t gotten used to that title 100%. So I’m gonna try and make the schedules match up as best I can and see what happens.

Considering that I played WoW as a mage for about a year and a half, I still question my abilities as a healer from time to time despite getting frequent compliments. In all fairness, I think I’m actually not too bad at healing and have taken to it quite well. Most heroics are incredibly smooth with little to no “Oh shit!” moments as I like to call them. However, I still find myself getting very nervous when trying out new content for the first time. A large part of this nervousness is probably due to the fact other players don’t want to, or don’t have time to explain strategies, especially in PUGs.

If I remember correctly, this is how the conversation went during my first time in heroic TOC:

Me: “I haven’t healed this yet so please let me know any tips, etc to heal better here”

Tank:
“easy”


To make matters worse, the first time I tried healing TOC it was on regular and it wasn’t long before I was kicked from the group for the usual “L2p n00b!” style stuff. That was a pretty crushing moment. For whatever reason, I become a far more sensitive player while healing. I should point out here that it’s not the offense of being called a “n00b” by some kid, but more so that it makes me question whether or not I’m a good healer. There seems to be a lot more personal responsibility on behalf of the healer as opposed to the kid only eeking out 700 DPS in the same instance.

So, needless to say I was damn near terrified to try out the heroic version when faced with it via the random dungeon finder. In fact, I was even a little afraid to hit the “Enter Dungeon” button each time for fear that I would end up healing H TOC. But I manned up and figured I had to learn it eventually so I put my game face on and did my best. This is where it gets pretty surprising to me.

Because I knew that TOC may be a problem for me I read up on the strategies a little bit so I would know what I was getting into. Basically what I took away from this was to turn your back when the one guy does the thing, some zombies blow up a lot, and that’s about it. As we dropped boss after boss I was astounded at just how it easy it was. Perhaps the other people I was grouped with were well geared and experienced. I’m not sure why, but it was absolutely no trouble at all to heal. Sure there were a couple tight moments, but even during the black knight boss I just kind of stared at my computer amazed at how little damage people were taking.

Right after the run I wanted to do it about 10 more times because of the great drops and my new found confidence. Hopefully I don’t get too confident, but now I feel much better about my skills as a healer and ready to tackle some more difficult content. I’m looking forward to healing the hell out of heroics this coming weekend with the LFG tool so I’ll be sure to post anything interesting that happens.

Thanks for reading Thoughts Of Warcraft! @ https://thoughtsofwarcraft.wordpress.com

Brad


While killing some time on an alt as I waited for patch 3.3 to drop, I found someone spamming trade chat about running Naxx for something called Raid 101. I sent a tell out to him and was surprised at his politeness and general good demeanor. At this point I’m a little overgeared for Naxx as a result of heroic badge gear, but I still have yet to heal many raids. As it turns out this is precisely what Raid 101 was about so I confirmed the run.

As the week went on I was found myself really looking forward to running, and more importantly healing, Naxx. I had DPSed it in the past with my mage and was aware of some of the basic fight mechanics, but on the whole I don’t really have time to learn boss fights. The scheduling difficulty raids only gets worse considering that I’m living in Japan now and I’m a good 14 hours ahead of EST. So, the more I thought about it, this was beginning to seem like it would be a lot of fun.

I woke up Sunday morning after a long night and really wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. I had stayed up really late calling family in the States, and was awake for about a day. But, a promise is a promise so I dutifully headed out to Naxx and the raid began right on time at 11am. On heals it was me, a holy spec priest on raid/tank heals, and the raid leader who was a disc priest on main tank heals. The rest of the group was a mix of the raid leader’s guild and other random people who came to learn.

Since I was mostly unaware of what the bosses do, I spent a little bit of time reading up on the fights which seemed to help me out quite a bit. I’m more of a hands-on learner so nothing really compares to actually doing it, but a few things stuck with me that helped out a little bit. We started taking on bosses and knocking them out in no time at all. In the end we ended up dropping Noth the Plaugebringer as the last boss and called it there after three hours. I could have used a couple gear upgrades considering that I’m still using PVP shoulders, but I was there for the experience and that’s what I got.

The Noth fight was by far the most intense. I think when someone reposted the timer in raid chat it came out to be about 10 minutes long. 10 very long and stressful minutes, but some of the most fun that I’ve ever had in WoW so far. Because I wasn’t really looking at the boss’s health at all, it was a huge relief when he finally dropped and people were screaming on vent. It really reminded why I play this game.

As for the details of the Noth fight, I’ll try to write what I remember from that crazy experience. We wiped once because of how we layed out the fight, so we switched strategies up on the second attempt. Basically, my mind just went into full-on panic mode and instinct. I frantically kept an eye on my Circle of Healing cooldown and threw it on the tank almost every time it was up. I just glyphed for Guardian Spirit which resets the cooldown to one minute which I kept up on the off tank. I’m very glad that I did because the extra healing bonus saved us from some near wipe moments.

In addition to my “real” healing spells, I also kept Gift of the Naaru on constant cooldown for some extra help. While I use it quite often on the tank during heroics, I’m not sure if it’s really worth using a GCD for it during raids unless I cast it on myself. Aside from that, I kept my re-usable alchemist potions on CD for extra mana, as well as Lifebloom, and Shadowfiend. I think I had time to get a Hymn of Hope in for mana help, and I definitely popped an “Oh Shit!” moment Divine Hymn.

I’m running Naxx again with the same group of people this coming Sunday as well so it should be a nice break from all the 3.3 heroics I’ll be getting in provided that the servers remain stable.


What I learned:

Managing cooldowns: Pretty early on in the boss fights I learned that I should be casting something on somebody on almost every single global cool down. This is something that I’m not really used to since most of my experience comes from 5-man heroics. The closest thing that I think raid healing comes close to is battleground healing, just with a lot more pressure. Sure, there was a tiny bit of downtime here and there, but if nobody needs a heal I should probably do something else like cast Hymn of Hope.

Dealing with pressure: Even though there was another healer there to get my back, it was still very hectic and stressful knowing that 9 other people there counted on me not to suck. Even though I was on raid heals, I’d say the majority of my heals were spent trying to keep the tank up. Maybe it was because I was really tired, but eventually I was able to settle in a good groove and I stopped thinking and worrying and just kind of went off of instinct. In fact, it reminds of some Bruce Lee clips that I was watching last night.

Play nice: I’ve yet to run Naxx PUGs very often because even though the idea of 5-man PUGs is ok with me, somehow raid PUGs are bit scary. The reason for this is because I don’t know all of the fights that well and I wouldn’t want to waste someone else’s time with me trying to figure out what to do. The second reason is because I’m assuming that most other people don’t think like this and would probably waste my time without thinking twice about it. What made this Naxx run great I think is that from the get go we all agreed that we would be patient and polite in the case of a wipe.

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