Day Twenty: Denouement

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days. This post marks the final chapter in the saga.


“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending.” - J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been a gamer for a long time, and the games that have hooked me have been many and varied. The Civilization series, Subspace, Counter-Strike, Command and Conquer, Dune 2, Quake 2 & 3 have all, at one point or another, been the focus of my gaming affections. World of Warcraft is merely the latest. It will not be the last.

WoW is different in one major way, however. There will come a day when I make the conscious decision to stop paying for it, which will mark a fairly definitive end for me.

With all the other games, which were free to play once you owned them, my interest would fade from a bright, burning desire to a cool ember over time - sometimes a period of months or years - and the time I spent playing the game would ebb and diminish along with it. With WoW, however, a month spent not playing the game is $15 wasted, so I suspect the disinterest period in the game will be much more abrupt.

WoW has been a part of my life for a long time - and I don't really even want to think about how much time has been spent wandering the wilds of Azeroth - so I imagine that there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth before I finally pull the plug on it. Once the decision is made, however, there is no "popping back on" for a quick game or for nostalgia's sake, because that requires resubscribing.

I wonder if this Blog is going to keep me playing longer, or contribute to and accelerate the Burn Out process? I love writing for this blog; it has reignited a long-dormant passion in me, but will the pressure that I put on myself to keep churning out content make me feel less like playing? Already I find that there are times I have to choose between playing the game or writing about it. And as the demands of the Dwarfling continue to grow, it may feel easier to sit down with my laptop and grind out a post than it would be to log into the game and get something accomplished.

My final day playing WoW will be sad, but I think my final blog post will be even more emotional. As brilliant as the game is, it is a story written by someone else that I'm experiencing, while this blog is my own voice; my own story that I get to tell.

But as with all things, old things wither and die and are replaced with something new and vibrant. So it will eventually be with WoW and with Battle Medic. I can't wait to see what will come along that is amazing enough to top this game.


The Dwarf stood on the shoulder of the mountain and gazed over the white, snow-draped landscape as the sun slowly sank behind the western mountains. The last, red streams of the dying sun bathed the ridge where he stood in light and beneath it, the the tops of the spruce trees were lit with fiery brilliance like a thousand flaming torches swaying slowly in the gentle breeze.

In the valley below a horn sounded, mournful and pressing, calling the Dwarves of Ironforge to yet another battle against impossible odds and implacable foes.

The Dwarf scowled, the deep lines etched on his face hardening. Numerous vicious scars marred his visage, telling the tale of a hard life of heroic adventure. Under his bushy, white eyebrows his steel grey eyes were set with a grim look and yet the sagging sides and craggy wrinkles around them betrayed his age.

In the valley below, the troops of young dwarves efficiently formed themselves into their battle ranks. Faintly, the barking orders of the commanders could be heard, as the dwarven soldiers prepared themselves for the long journey to the battlefield.

The Dwarf let out a long, slow exhale, his breath crystallizing in the air in front of him, and let his shoulders relax. He reached up, his fingers stiff from the cold, and unfastened the clasp of his bulky shoulder armour and let it fall to the snow, landing with a muffled thump. He then grasped his great staff with both hands and plunged it's end into the frozen ground at the edge of the shear precipice.

In the valley below, the dwarven troops stomped their boots and clashed their axes on their shields in unison as they made their final preparations to depart. The din echoed and reverberated ominously throughout the valley. Then, a short, piercing bark from the commander and the troops began to move as one, marching off to war.

The Dwarf stared at the sun until it dipped behind the distant peaks, casting the valley and the mountainside into shadows. He closed his eyes - still burning from the brilliance of the sunset - and a tear lazily slid down his large, pitted nose, finally freezing on the end before it could drip off. To his deathbed, he would always claim that it came from the pain of the intense sunlight and nothing else.

In the valley below the dwarven formation began singing a traditional marching song, perfectly matched to the cadence of their precise footfalls. Their voices, lifted high with youthful vigour and excitement, rang clearly. In what seemed like mere moments, the soldiers moved through a pass between two peaks and out of sight, their song fading until the valley was quiet and peaceful again.

The Dwarf looked out over the dark, silent valley that has been his home for so long and thought about the hardships and sacrifices that he had made to protect it. A part of him - a very dwarvish part - longed to summon his trusted ram and race down the mountain to join the war effort. To once again fight with ferocious determination. To be a hero again.

In the house behind where the Dwarf stood, a piercing cry cut the crisp night air and pulled him out of his daydreams. He turned and picked up his now sodden shoulder armour and walked back to the house, leaving a trail of footprints from the staff that remained, watching over the valley.


Day Nineteen: The Stuff in the Virtual Attic

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days. Repent! The end is near!


"Why grab possessions like thieves, or divide them like socialists, when you can ignore them like wise men?" - Natalie Clifford Barney
Last night when I went to the Stormwind bank in the Dwarven District to take a screenshot of what I had in there, I noticed that I have a whole lot of nothing-worth-mentioning.

I am not a sentimentalist when it comes to items. I don't tend to collect a lot of stuff or keep around a bunch of things for nostalgia reasons. The stuff that I keep tends to be things that have a use - even if it is a useless use. My Argent Dawn Commission, for instance, I keep with the vague idea that it may be useful again (which, of course, it won't be any longer with the removal of the Argent Dawn reputation entirely). The 447 Relics of Ulduar are very useful should I ever decide to finish the Sons of Hodir questline and get that reputation up to exalted. I did it on my priest, of course, but kinda stalled out on my Paladin.

I have a dozen Focusing Lenses for some odd reason. I created them while I was levelling Jewelcrafting and while I can't imagine why I want to keep them, I can't seem to bring myself get rid of them. There are some holiday items like last year's Brewfest mug, some Chilled Meat stored up for the day that I finally get off my ass to level Thosif's cooking skill, some more junk left over from the Argent Dawn rep grind I did before 4.0 launched, and a lot of green quality Cataclysm gems that I should have cut and sold off before the vendor price tanked with the release of Patch 4.1. It's all just a whole lot of junk, really.

The Barov Peasant Caller and Spectral Essence from Scholomance are utterly useless at level 85, but it's always nice to have some servants available at your beck and call for when there's laundry to get done. And I love the idea that there is a whole town of invisible ghosts in Caer Darrow that I can go and visit. These two items are the epitome of the useless, useful item.

There are a couple of things, as well, that I am keeping around for nostalgia. My Lost Pavise of the Blue Flight and Grand Marshal's Aegis, for instance, aren't going anywhere - they are the coolest shields that I've seen, and I am a sucker for a nice shield

And the cup o' Tea With Sugar (that is the quest reward for completing the epic Battle of Darrowshire given by the tragic Pamela Redpath) is still in my bags. I did this quest at level 80 on my Paladin, along with the rest of the Plaguelands quests. This item has no use in the slightest, but the Redpath storyline in the old EPL was so mournful and brilliant that I cannot bring myself to get rid of this thoughtful gift from that poor, dead little girl.

Oh hell, maybe I am a sentimental hoarder after all.
And how can I get rid of this after the hell required to get it?



Day Eighteen: Favourite Outfit?

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days. We're on the home stretch now!

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” - Oscar Wilde
I can honestly say that I don't have the first clue how to respond to this question, so this post will be nice and short.

Being a Wrath Baby, I don't have any tier sets from Vanilla that I keep to memorialize the sixty-seven Molten Core runs that I did. Tier 9 was the first set of tier gear that I ever even had the opportunity to collect, and it was sharded or sold as soon as it was replaced with something better.

Robes by Armani. Shoulders by Gucci. Off-Hand by Louis Vuitton
Not Pictured: Christian Loubouton Combat Boots
As such, I don't really have a Favourite Outfit for any of my characters. If I was held at gun-point and forced to choose one under threat of death or worse (like hearing a Rebecca Black song), I would probably choose the one that Fannon finished off Wrath of the Lich King in and is still wearing today.

There is no real reason for this: It doesn't match, it's not best-in-slot or particularly noteworthy in any way other than the fact that I've had it and been looking at it for so long. Although, that being said, I do think the Tier 10 Shoulder designs are far nicer than the T11 ones: Who wants to carry around bowls of water on their shoulders, anyway?

This outfit is in the photo in my Blog Header, my Twitter profile picture, and in my "signature" on my guild forums; so I've become very familiar with it. And because I've used it so much it has become almost a logo of sorts.

In the end, it will be sold off as I begin levelling Fannon through the Cataclysm content and finding replacement gear. In fact, there are already a couple of new lvl 80 items sitting in the mail waiting to be equipped, so very soon Fannon will have a different look. I don't really get all that sentimental over my gear or what my characters are wearing.



Day Seventeen: Favourite Place in the World (of Warcraft)

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days. Originally I had hoped to do one post per day, now I just hope I get them all done in the same month.

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own." - Andy Warhol
When I first stepped foot into Azeroth as a new Dwarf, I found myself in wide-eyed awe at the world that I found myself in, and wandered the snowy wastes of Dun Morogh for hours soaking in all the details. I was amazed at how large the world felt, and how it had a definite sense of place, as if it actually existed in reality. Since then I have become quite attached to the little virtual world we inhabit, even as it grows smaller from familiarity.

Before the great Shattering it would have been very easy for me to tell you where my favourite places in the game world were. They were the places that felt unaffected by all the chaos in the world; little pockets of normalcy in a world gone completely bonkers. They were the places where you could see a little snippet of normal life in Azeroth - where the biggest problems that the people have are other people's prize-winning pigs, finishing the construction of a bridge, or the gigantic yeti living in the hills above your house and eating your livestock. You know, everyday-type stuff.

Dun Morogh, Loch Modan, Southshore in Hillsbrad and Redridge Mountains were some of my favourite spots because of this.

Loch Modan in particular felt like a vacation spot: beautiful scenery, a big lake with lovely water-skiing potential, and not much to worry about other than the odd trogg or ogre who kept to themselves for the most part. I always thought of it as the place that my character would retire to when he was done adventuring. The most alarming thing (aside from the smell of the ogres) about Loch Modan were the five or six Dark Iron dwarves trying to blow up the dam. But I always got the feeling that they weren't all that serious about it, and that they were just doing a half-assed job to keep their supervisor off their backs while they chilled by the lake and smoked the Dark Iron equivalent of a doobie.

For Sale: Vacation home with scenic view of mud, murlocs and giant, rotting fish carcasses.
Dirt cheap or best offer.
And then Deathwing came and blew it up for them. Goodbye serene, beautiful lake, hello slimy mud pit.

Aside from the occasional attack by ninjasunstoppable undead killing machines, or an army of frothing-at-the-mouth Horde players bent on massacring every Alliance lowbie in the area, Southshore always felt very peaceful; a piece of untainted Lordaeron that escaped the ravages of the plague and remained a reminder of that once great kingdom. It was so peaceful that in order for the quest givers there to have anything for the players to do, they had to send them to an entirely different zone.

Mourn for Southshore. Plague slime stains are impossible to get out of your tattered, zombie rags.
That is, until the Forsaken needed a new toxic waste dump. I mourn for the people of Southshore. People like Bartolo Ginsetti and his weird fascination with ravaging the local Yeti population to make sure that everybody was dressed as badly as he was.

On the other hand, as favourite places go, I also enjoy the forlorn, tragic lands of Lordaeron that were devastated by the Scourge. The Plaguelands had an emotional hold on my heart-strings since the day that I first read about them; the stories that were told there were extremely touching. Mournful tales of loss, heroism, betrayal and death were everywhere. Places like Andorhal - destroyed by it's own food supply, Caer Darrow betrayed, corrupted and ultimately destroyed by the very people charged with protecting it, and Darrowshire and the battle that condemned its defenders and its daughters to a mournful unlife. Sad, wonderful tales that tell of the suffering of the people of that dead land.

What the hell? Where are my zombies? I come to the Plaguelands for
hordes of ravenous zombies, not corn!
Of course, with the death of Arthas and the fall of the Scourge, the cleansing of these zones is well underway. There is still a lot of wonderful stories here, but the Plaguelands have lost the tragic air that made them so compelling. There is something deeply unsatisfying in cleansing a farmer's field of angry mutant pumpkins when compared to a horde of mindless, pitchfork-wielding zombies.

Duskwood is another great, atmospheric zone that ranks high in my list of favourite places. I have always loved the undead as a villain, and Duskwood was packed to the gills with them. Before Blizzard reworked the zone you would spend hours upon hours in the Raven Hill Cemetery surrounded by ghouls and skeletons of all sorts. Duskwood had terrors aplenty for the level-appropriate soul: Stitches periodically wandered the road, ruthlessly slaughtering anyone not paying attention; Mor'Ladim wandered the cemetery and would dispense his elite, undead fury on anyone who got within his incredibly large aggro radius; and the rare spawn Commander Felstrom who annoyingly resurrected himself just when you thought that he was dead.

But at least there's always Raven Hill Cemetery. Fewer ghouls than before,
but always good value for your undead hunting pleasure.
With the rejiggering of the questing experience, however, the zone has lost a lot of its dark charm. While the Embalmer storyline still exists, it ends in an phased battle against Stitches in the burning town of Darkshire, removing the ever-present danger of randomly meeting an elite abomination ten levels above you. The sheer number of undead haunting the graveyard, and the time spent questing there has been drastically cut. It's still one of my favourite places, and the stories being told are still great and the flow of questing is smooth and flawless, but the atmosphere that they create is not as captivating as it once was.

In the end, with everything taken into consideration, the place that holds the most emotional attachment to me is Dun Morogh. The snow-covered peaks of the Dwarven starting area are gorgeous, quaint, homey and have a majesty to them is only rivaled by the much more greatly detailed Howling Fjord. I'm sure that my fondness for this zone has to do with it being the first zone I set eyes on, and walking its roads evokes the memories of those first innocent days of playing the game.

The great Dwarven city of Ironforge.
I always imagined that my dwarf priest Fannon lives there in a little home tucked away high on the shoulders of the mountain that Ironforge is carved into. In the only piece of Warcraft fiction I've ever done, I wrote a little bit about that in a post from last month.

It's odd which zones will capture your imagination. In thinking about this article I'm trying to come up with the specific things about Dun Morogh and Ironforge that appeal to me so much to make them my favourite zone in the game, and I can't really think of anything. I can't point to specific quests that are charming, although I always found Brewnal Village fascinating: a whole town that is so drunk on Barleybrew that they can't even be bothered to construct any buildings, but are content to live in tents as long as there is beer to be had.

The feel of this zone is, to me at least, undefinable. It's home, and that's what matters.




I logged in late Monday night to grab a couple of screenshots for a post I am working on, and as I am flying through the Western Plaguelands I see this:

He's comin' right for us!

All I can say is: FINALLY! I have been waiting for that stupid dragon to kill me for months now! I think he's been avoiding me, frankly. Our relationship has been a little bit strained ever since that party a couple of years ago where we both got completely drunk and he kept bragging on about how he was going to destroy the world - and when I told him he was full of shit he stormed around the room, flailing his arms and breaking furniture and saying how he was the freakin' Aspect of Death and how he'd show us all. Nobody really took him all that seriously due to his spotty, teen-age moustache and the purple Kylie Minogue T-Shirt he was wearing, but eventually he passed out and his girlfriend Sheila dragged him by the ankle to her mom's Buick.

OK, that actually didn't happen.

But, yay! Achievement!


Day Sixteen: What I Miss Post-Cataclysm

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.

There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Today's topic comes and an opportune moment, actually, because I've been longing for a pre-Cataclysm feature lately.

I really wish Blizzard had left the 25-man and 10-man raid lockouts separate.

Now don't misunderstand me; for the most part, I am a huge fan of the Raid Lockout system that is in place now. While things may get a little bizarre when Heroic modes are thrown into the mix, on the whole the Lockout system is a marvel of simplicity and flexibility. And I love that both raid sizes give the same quality of gear as it ensures that 10-man raiders are not second class citizens.

But it would be nice to be able to do run both sizes in a week if you wanted to.

I am running into a peculiar problem right at the moment that being able to run a second raid lockout during a week would help solve. I have been raiding twice a week for almost 4 months now, am 9/12 and yet my gear still sucks. Apparently my luck with gear drops was a feature that was nerfed in 4.0.

Back in Wrath I could have ran a 25 man raid to try and get another shot at gear but with a single lockout system, I'm stuck at waiting until next week for a chance at a drop. For all the flexibility that the Cataclysm system gives us, this feels very restrictive.

In my opinion, with a Valor Point cap and no difference in the gear being dropped, there is very little point in having the lockouts tied together. The reason behind the change was that Blizzard did not want people to feel they needed to do both, but all they have accomplished is taking away the possibility for people who want to run both. And in doing so they have unnecessarily slowed down the gearing progression.

Oh, on a slightly unrelated note: what's with all the Holy Paladin gear being on the really hard bosses? A Retribution Paladin gets his bracers off of Omnotron - which once you figure out is a piece of cake - and a Holy Paladin has to kill freakin' Cho'gall to get his. I think Blizzard really does hate healers.


The Great Blog Noblegarden Egg Hunt is On!

It's almost time for my favourite Azeroth holiday that doesn't involve beer, racing rams, and Dwarven fart jokes: Nobelgarden! And that means that it's time for the Second Annual Great Blog Noblegarden Egg Hunt, this year hosted and organized by Kamalia and Angelya!

This is not the Egg you're looking for.
Seriously, I  wouldn't make it that easy.

This is a Red Herring.
All around the intertubes, authors have used every bit of their cunning and guile to hide an egg somewhere on their blog, and it is up to you to find them all!

The event will be starting Sunday, April 24th and going until Thursday, April 28th. Go to Kamalia's blog on Sunday for a complete list of the participating blogs, rules and a list of the fabulous prizes for the person who finds them all first!

Now, if only they could figure out a way to get some Thunderbrew Stout inside these eggs it would be the perfect holiday! Good luck, egg hunters!

edit: Please feel free to leave a comment on this post if you find my egg!

UPDATE: If you still haven't found my egg, I offer the following clue:

Searching the grey places,
opaque as blank ink;
A pinpoint of light,
in bright, vibrant pink!

Just as your mind becomes
lost and delirious;
There hovers an EGG,
all strange and mysterious.



Day Fifteen: Art, Inspiration and a Desktop Background

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.

"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." - Ansel Adams

In the context of the 20 Days of WoW Challenge, I figured that Day 15 would be a bit of a cakewalk - a day off, almost - and one that was especially needed after the surprisingly gut-wrenching topic I wrote about yesterday.

Sharing my desktop background is easy enough. However, explaining its significance is going to require a larger word count, I think.

Sundown.      Click to enlarge.

This is my desktop background. It’s a piece of artwork that I created entitled Sundown. It is a digital layering of photographs from a single, staggeringly beautiful summer sunset taken a couple of years ago. In its printed form it measures approximately 60”x24” and hangs above our couch in our living room. It graces my monitors at home, at work and on my cell phone.

As I have mentioned before, I was a professional photographer for a number of years before leaving for the car industry. Running my own photography studio was immensely rewarding from an artistic and personal perspective, but ended up being financially crippling.

In leaving the business I was also giving up my main creative outlet. Once there was no professional reason to create images any longer, I lost the impetus to do it at all; and my camera and all my photography gear was shoved into the basement and left untouched for a long time. Doing so left a void in my life and made me feel artistically incomplete and creatively unfulfilled. Frankly, there is not much room for creativity in the car business – in fact it can be utterly soul-crushing at times.

I have always found that my creative muscles tend to wither when not exercised frequently, so once we moved into our new house I picked up my camera and began photographing and creating images again, this time for no other reason that the simple joy of creating art that was personally relevant. I don’t do it nearly as often as I would like – it’s hard to feel creative after slogging through corporate sludge all day. But the days that I can grab my camera, go somewhere and indulge my creative side are rare and wonderful indeed.

Sundown was the first piece that I did in this style, and I cannot describe how excited I was when it was finished. Seeing it hanging on the wall was an incredible and emotionally fulfilling experience; it made the room complete in a way that I didn’t expect. I have created other images, of course, some of which are arguably better in many ways, but none have the emotional resonance with me that this one has. I feel that the creation of this image was the moment when I found my voice creatively again after losing it for so long.



Day Fourteen: This Upsets Me

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.

Well, I gotta tell you: I'd be very, very careful who you talk to about that, because the person who wrote that... is dangerous. And this button-down, Oxford-cloth psycho might just snap, and then stalk from office to office with an Armalite AR-10 carbine gas-powered semi-automatic weapon, pumping round after round into colleagues and co-workers. This might be someone you've known for years. Someone very, very close to you. - Fight Club
This post is, by far, the hardest of this series so far for me to write, and it has caused me to fall off the one-post-a-day pace in a rather spectacular fashion. This is upsetting.

I am a pretty even-tempered guy and it takes a lot to get me upset. I'm not the kind of person to start frothing at the mouth and stomping around the house in a blind, red-faced rage that causes the neighbours to hide their children and fetch their shotguns. That's only happened once, honest. Since I started taking the pills I'm much better.

There are many things in the game that annoy the crap out of me. People not eating and drinking after a resurrection and expecting me to heal them annoys me. In fact, most people these days don't even bring food and water into a dungeon anymore because they know the healer will be there, and that annoys me as well. Tanks not waiting for mana, DPS pulling for the tank and taking too much damage, healers who don't actually know how to heal are all things that are annoyances, but I wouldn't say they upset me.

I can also get frustrated. Progression content frustrates me at times. Last night Nefarian taught us a lesson in humility as he proceeded to wipe our raid repeatedly and efficiently; with most of our attempts ending after a minute and a half. That was frustrating, but as we were just learning the fight it wasn't upsetting.

Nothing in World of Warcraft really gets me upset or mad. Real life, on the other hand, is a different story.

Writing this post has been upsetting. In thinking about all the things in the real world that upset me, I have managed to piss on my own brain and my mood has gone downhill. So let me conclude this post briefly.

I have a long list of failings, and any time one of these personality flaws affects my life in a negative way I get upset. I have no desire to go into detail about these things, because frankly, I have never been a person that likes to dwell on things that upset me. This is why this post is so freaking hard to write.

Whenever I get upset or mad about something I invariably do two things: express the emotion, and then move on. I try to keep a positive mental attitude as much as I can and so I never stay upset at anything for long. This, in turn, upsets my wife who says that I am no fun to fight with.

Now, I need to go to my happy place and reset my brain to get rid of this post.



News From the Lower Levels

Over the past several weeks while I have been working on the 20 Days of WoW Challenge, I have kinda been neglecting writing about anything else. While I managed to sneak in my take on Call to Arms, it's been hard to find the time to write about other topics, even though my mind and my notebook are bursting with ideas.

While playing, I have been spending much more time these days on my alts and yet oddly, I still only have one 85. My lowbie Shaman and the other Fannon have been keeping my attention these days at the expense of my higher level alts. Fannon the Second is about to hit level 40, and Thallie the Shaman just dinged 30 last night.


I must say that the levelling experience after Cataclysm is superb. The pace seems fine tuned; it's quick and fun, but doesn't overreach the level of the zone unless you use heirlooms or run dungeons. The quests themselves are executed better as well, with a vast majority of the tedious and time consuming running back and forth between quest-givers and quest areas removed. Duskwood in particular has benefited from getting rid of the need to run back to Darkshire from the Raven Hill graveyard every 10 minutes.

The two alts that I am levelling up simultaneously are both using a different approach: Fannon, my Protection Paladin on Azuremyst, is questing and trying to amass as much gold as possible, while Thallie, my Shaman on my main server is in full heirlooms and levelling up through the random dungeon finder.


Firstly, I am finding it damned confusing to have two characters the same name. Normally, all of my characters have unique names and, while I don't do any roleplaying, in my head at least they are all unique individuals. When I created a new character on Azuremyst, I named him Fannon because the guild I was joining is full of people from the Blogosphere and Twitter who know me by that name.  However, I'm finding it annoying when referring to the two Fannons in writing, and calling the Paladin "Fannon 2.0" kinda ruins the immersion for me.

Anyway, attempting to put aside my own mental problems, I am astonished at how quickly Fannon of Azuremyst is progressing through the levelling content. Obviously, starting on a new server means that this Fannon doesn't have access to any Bind to Account Heirlooms or any help other than the perks that being a member of a Level 11 guild will bring.  However, even lacking heirlooms I am plowing through the levels.

Same-level quest mobs get mowed over like tall grass in front of a riding mower piloted by a cocaine fiend. Quests are turned in by the bunch. Quest hubs are squeezed and used up like limes during a tequila drinking contest. The quests and the levels just fly by.

In what seems like very little time (in fact it's a little over a day of actual playtime), my little Effin' Paladin is about to ding 40. All of these levels were done with questing; he hasn't stepped foot into a dungeon yet. It's a little hard to believe he's that high, because the levelling process has seemed completely effortless.

The other bit of interest with Azuremyst Fannon is my goal of becoming wealthy by level 85. This isn't going as fast as the levelling, unfortunately. As of this writing, he is sitting at 440g with another 100g or so on the Auction House. I'll talk more about this in another post (hopefully this week) and give some more details on how I've gotten to where I am.


Note: I was too lazy to take another screenshot of her.
Thallie, as you may recall, is my little levelling Resto Shaman on Sargeras. At some point she has managed to acquire a full set of heirlooms - although her shoulders are cloth and her mace is the wrong itemization for healing. She has been spending her time sitting in the Dwarf District of Stormwind next the the Shaman trainer and faithfully running dungeons to gain experience. I haven't spent as much time playing her as I have with Fannon of Azuremyst, but she's been packing on the levels too.

Over the past week or so, any chance I get I log onto Thallie and hop into the Dungeon Finder. I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with how well these low level instances have gone. Admittedly, some of the lowest level dungeons go by extremely quick and they sometimes remind me of the final days of Wrath when Tier 10-wielding 10-man PUGs would storm into Naxxramas for the weekly raid quest and steamroll over the bosses in 30 seconds.

She has seen more low level dungeons than any of my other characters ever have, and I've done a few that I had never seen before. Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns, Stockades, Gnomeregan and most recently Scarlet Monastery Graveyard have all been conquered by this intrepid little braid-wearin' healer. Oddly enough I have never got Deadmines or Shadowfang Keep. Go figure.

With full purchasable heirlooms - Cloak, Shoulders, Chest, Hat and Weapon - in addition to the experience bonus that comes with being in a level 24 guild, each dungeon is easily a full level or more. And with the way Blizzard has restructured the dungeons, most of them are very quick runs. And her gear is fantastic. She has gained seven or eight levels in the past few days with 5 or 6 dungeons and very little effort.

The biggest problem I've seen is just trying to keep the same group throughout the dungeon. People drop out after defeating a boss, finish a quest they need or dinging the level they wanted then leave, and new people quickly take their place. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I have had very few long waits for a group, and most of the tanks I have had have known their stuff well enough so as to not cause any problems. Running all these dungeons has been quite enjoyable.


It's not exactly a fair comparison given the heirlooms, but even so there is no question in my mind that levelling through questing is much faster than levelling through the dungeon finder - assuming you are playing a non-healing spec. Mobs melt like butter in front of my Protection Paladin, but are not surprisingly quite a bit tougher to my Restoration Shaman.

The questing zones are just so incredibly well designed that there is virtually no downtime while questing. The quests are varied and fun, and proceed in a logical, story-driven manner which is completely engrossing. I have not felt as if I were grinding once since I started taking Fannon 2.0 through his journey.

The biggest advantage to running dungeons during the levelling process is the same as it always was: gear. For a minimal investment of time and effort there is a whole lot of great, blue quality gear available. Thallie's gear is a lot better than Fannon's paladin gear was at the same level. On the other hand, having great gear is far less important during questing than it was (or it may be that Protection Paladins are just ridiculously overpowered), and the mobs die just fine in quest greens.

Images of Azeroth #4


A Ship Entering Stormwind Harbour

The Wetlands, At Night

A Lonely Rider in the Southern Barrens

As always, click for a larger image.


Day Thirteen: People I Admire

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


When I started thinking about this topic I started compiling a list of people that I respect and admire in my head. After about an hour - once the blinding, searing headache went away from trying to remember all those names - I decided that a monolithic list of people was not the way to go with this post; especially since most people will just scan those to see if their name is mentioned and not actually read it. So I started to think of a different way to approach this topic.

The people I admire are the people who do the Thankless Jobs™ in our game. I'm talking about the Raid Leaders, Role Leads, Recruiters and Guild Leaders out there.

These people are responsible for an job that has been glibly compared to herding cats, but would be more accurately described as herding short-tempered, egotistical badgers who are fine when left alone but viciously attack anyone who pokes them with a stick. It's the leader's job to figure out how often it's possible to poke the badger without your face getting ripped off.

I have led online communities before (successfully, I think), and it's not an easy job. There is enough drama to deal with to make a young William Shakespeare quit the theatre and take up chartered accountancy. Often you're trying to provide direction to people who seem determined to remain directionless. Just trying to make yourself heard over the relentless din of internet chatter is often impossible; and on the occasions that you succeed you're often called a tyrant.

So my hat is off to you folks. You're doing a tough job requiring exceptionally clear communication, but doing it in a medium that makes everything you say easy to ignore or misinterpret. Considering most of you volunteered for this job speaks volumes of your character. Selfless, some would say. Noble, even. Masochist? Certainly.



Day Twelve: A Day In The Life

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.

"Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Found my way downstairs and had a cup; and looking up, I noticed I was late. Found my coat and grabbed my hat; made the bus in seconds flat. Made my way upstairs and had a smoke and somebody spoke and I went into a dream..." - The Beatles
In my mind, the true test of any writer is making an uninteresting topic read as if it's the last chapter of an epic novel.

Talking about my typical day is, at this point in my life, like writing a 400 page novel describing whaling in excruciating detail and expecting people to read it and stay awake.

Oh wait. Somebody already did that. Damn you, Herman Melville.

Anyway, literary criticism aside, my days right now are dull. I get up, I go to work, I try to sell stuff while I'm there. If there is nothing else to do I try to squeeze in some writing. Then I go home and take care of the Dwarfling for a while so my wife doesn't pull her hair out in great, screaming fits of exasperation. It's not exactly the stuff of great literature. In fact, I think I can hear the snores from here.

However, given that this is a World of Warcraft blog, I thought that it might be more interesting to let you in on how I squeeze WoW into my day. The Dwarfling has seen to it that my hours of WoW time are restricted, regardless of what plans or agreements I may have made before she showed up. She's the boss now.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a car salesman at a luxury dealership. There can be an excruciating amount of downtime at my job, so I am able to spend some of my time thinking about WoW during the day. I follow Twitter (my follow list is almost exclusively WoW people) and am able to read a fair number of blogs when things aren't busy.

At about 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon, things slow down and most people who come in at that point are just there to pick up their vehicle from Service, which gives me a chance to write. This time of day is when I get the vast majority of my blogging done. I know, I'm horrible for doing this at work - but I don't often get a chance to do it any other time.

Baby aggro is much more
frightening than any Raid Boss.
Please don't ask about the wipes.
When I leave work at 6, I have a half-hour drive before I get home and immediately have a baby dropped into my arms. I love my daughter, and I love holding her, but she is needy in the evening; the price we pay for having her sleep through most of the night, I guess.

So the amount of WoW that I can play really is determined by the Dwarfling. She loves being held, and so putting her down to play results in getting screamed at by both baby and mommy (I'm not really sure which is worse, honestly). Playing WoW one-handed is tricky and not very efficient; especially if I want to run a dungeon or raid where I can't stop and turn it off at a moments notice.

I can normally slip in an hour or so of gaming spread throughout the evening whilst the Dwarfling is napping or feeding off of Mrs. Fannon. It's rare to get any uninterrupted gaming time, except for my two raid nights a week, which my wife has accepted somewhat grudgingly. I can count the number of heroics that I've managed to complete on one hand in the past couple of weeks.

Writing time is very hard to come by at home as well. There is rarely a moment that is quiet enough that I can let my mind wander into the creative space that I pull all of this gibberish from. Most of the time my mind is on other things - diapers, soothers, cranky wife or barking dog.

Still, Dwarfling smiles are worth it.  Azerwhat?



Day Eleven: Faults, Flaws and Bad Habits (Part One of Six)

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


Well, for starters the fact that I am writing this post at work while I am supposed to be being productive is one obviously bad habit.

This day of the challenge is one that I’m not really looking forward to writing. I mean, who really ever likes to take a good, hard, honest look at their own flaws and bad habits? Personally, I like to shove them into a dark hole with a thousand, rabid murlocs and pretend that they don’t exist. Denial is a very comfortable place to live as long as you keep the lighting levels low.

Interestingly, Kurn wrote up her Day Eleven post and as I read it, I realized I could just cut and paste it here and it would have been remarkably accurate. We share, it seems, a lot of the same issues.

Procrastination: I’m an absolute expert at leaving things until the last possible moment. And it really doesn’t matter what the task is or whether I am excited to do it or not – things with me get done just before they need to be done and not before. It’s a major flaw with me (and it drives my wife bonkers).

Follow Through: Quite often I will start a project with high, professional level expectations and then not follow it through to its end. Things will start brilliantly and then slowly begin to fizzle, until I eventually give up and move on to something else. This blog is a lovely counter-example, but I can think of a dozen others; the most egregious of which is my attempt to teach myself guitar (I haven’t picked up the instrument for 6 months or so after spending a couple hundred bucks on the guitar and Guitar for Dummies).

Lack of Focus: The skanky twin sister of the previous flaw, I am quite often distracted from a project with the shiny allure of a new, different project. Of all of my flaws this one… ooo, hey… I wonder what twitter is saying right now

What? Oh, right.  Umm, of all my flaws this one bothers me the most. I want to be an expert at everything, but since I can’t focus on anything for long enough, it’s impossible to master the things that I am trying to learn.

Lazy: I had a huge, long write up on this planned, but meh, seems like too much work. I think I’ll go have a nap.

Regarding the game, I have many bad habits as well.

Cooldowns: I am terrible at using my cooldowns. There are a large number of fights that I have forgotten to use any cooldown at all. I’m making a concerted effort to get much better at this, and during our kill of Cho’gall last week I managed to be very good at using all of my tools at the appropriate time, but overall I suck at using them. I’m worse with my Priest, too.

Interface: If I were to look at my game, the one thing that could stand improvement is my interface. As of right now I have a usable UI, but it’s hardly optimal. Grid is probably doing too much, my Stuf Unit Frames are probably doing too little, I’m not even sure why I have Omen installed since it’s in a location I never look at, and DBM spews stuff all over my screen like a hung-over sorority chick.

I’m not a fan of having a million different add-ons installed, but I think that I need to do a bit more optimizing.

Fear: Even now, after having raided and instanced as much as I have and having played this game for almost three years, I am still intimidated by this game at times. For instance, I don’t know the classic dungeons very well, and so quite often I’ll worry about whether or not I’m ready for them. I am proved wrong every time that I end up doing one, but the fear that I don’t know enough – not ready – can be paralyzing.

Geez, that’s enough for now.  It’s getting uncomfortably bright in here and the murlocs are getting restless.

Tune in next time for Part Two of my Flaws: Glaring Sexual Deficiencies.*

* Note, this will not actually ever be published. It’s trapped in the dark with the murlocs forever.


Day Ten: Blog and Website Favourites

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


If there is one thing that I have learned after getting plugged into Twitter, it's that there are far too many WoW blogs and resources to ever keep up with. Everyday it seems that I run across another new or new-to-me blog that is exceptional and worthy of being in my feed reader and my blogroll. It's impossible to keep up with all the excellent writing out there, and every morning when I open up Google Reader I am a little daunted at the sheer number of posts to get to.

There are, however, several blogs out there that I make sure to read whenever there is a new post. These are my essential blogs, most of which I have been reading well before I started blogging myself. All of these blogs are linked on my blogroll, of course.

(Un)holy Randomness by Endyme

There are more, of course, but those are the ones that I go out of my way to read as soon as something new shows up.

My blogroll is quite small at the moment, but I plan to do an overhaul very soon and expand it greatly.

Wowpedia, Wowhead, Tankspot and Youtube are all essential resources when you need to find out some factual information on the game, of course, and I use them all as often as needed. When I need to dig into the nuts and bolts of a class or spec, it's off to Elitist Jerks and the PlusHeal forums. And I spend more than a little time everyday reading WoW Insider WoW.com WoW Insider by Joystiq or whatever the hell they're called these days.  One day I will be linked by them, oh yes... one day.

And last but not least, I check my guild forums frequently throughout the day to see if anything is going on.

Tomorrow, DAY ELEVEN: BAD HABITS AND FLAWS (Part One of Six)


Day Nine: The First Battle Medic Post

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


Looking back on the first entry that I posted on Battle Medic I am struck by how extraordinarily timid it sounds. It really comes across that I was unsure what I was going to write about and that I was really unsure if anything that churned out of my keyboard was going to be worth reading.

I asked the question, "Why does the WoW blogosphere need another healing blog?" Four months and sixty-two posts later I think I have a better idea of the answer to that question. My experiences in writing this blog has really shown me that the subject of the blog really isn't that important - the real reason that each new blog is important and needed is that each voice adds something unique to the community. I hope that I've managed to add something positive to the discourse.

Re-reading the first few blog entries, I can really see the writing grow as I went through the process of trying to figure out what to write about. I pumped out a lot of posts in the last two and a half weeks of December. My favourite posts of those first, fledgling weeks are Slowing Down is Hard to Do, The First Annual Peevie Awards and First Lesson from Heroics - Communication. There is actually some readable stuff in there.


Day Eight: Ten Things About the Battle Medic

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


1.  I'm 36 years old and live in Edmonton, Alberta with my wife Jenn, two beagles named Milo and Sisko and, of course, the darling little dwarfling, Teagan. I've been here for almost six years and moved from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Like all Saskatchewan ex-pats, I am curiously and fiercely fond of where I come from.

2.  I am a moderately large sports fan with a twist. I don't follow a sport, I follow a team. I follow and cheer for the Saskachewan Roughriders of the CFL, and try to go to the two games per year that they play here in Edmonton. Other than the Riders, however, I have no interest in the CFL whatsoever. Same thing for baseball - I was a mammoth Montreal Expos fan. I actually took my future wife to Montreal to see 8 games in 10 days in the spring of 2000, which was a blast.  She doesn't have any interest in baseball so to make the trip memorable for her I proposed to her at the top of the Olympic Stadium tower.  When the Expos moved to Florida Washington I lost all interest in baseball.

3.  In the winter I Curl to keep fit. I have been curling for a long time - about 25 years now. The problem with curling as a fitness activity is the bar that is attached to the rink. Beer, oddly enough, is not a health food drink.

4.  My very first computer was an Apple ][e with an incredible (for the time) 128KB of RAM, a Green monochrome montior and two 5.25 inch floppy drives. I grew up on this thing and I still think back fondly on all the games that I had for it. I have played around with emulators, but it's just not the same as the real thing.

5.  I have what can only be described as an insane amount of computers in my house. As of this particular moment I have 5 computers running and 3 more sitting idle, just waiting for a purpose. My wife thinks I need to seek professional counselling for this.

6.  I am very proud of my touch-typing skills. I have been typing for about 25 years. My mother was a secretary and could type something like 100 words per minute on an actual typewriter, which always impressed the hell out of me.  I learned how to type with an antique, manual typewriter which, once I got even remotely fast became frustrating very quickly as I began to jam the keys.

My own typing skills are pretty good, although occasionally suffer from disuse. I don't know how many words I can type per minute (I haven't tested myself in a long time), but my accuracy is pretty good when I'm using a keyboard that I'm used to. Interestingly, although I seldom use my laptop, I find it's keyboard the best typing keyboard I've ever used. Go figure.

The hardest thing that I have yet to master when it comes to typing is to slow down my brain enough so that my fingers can keep up.

I am trying to break myself of the habit of putting two spaces after a period, which in the era of proportionally spaced fonts is no longer necessary. Because I learned how to type in the age of typewriters, it was ingrained in me to double-space at the end of a sentence and has become a completely subconscious habit. Wow, is this ever a hard habit to get out of. If you look back at the last 10 articles or so on this blog you will see a crazy mish-mash of single and double spaces at the end of my sentences as I struggle with Double-Space Addiction.

7.  In many ways I am a perfectionist. Whenever I try to learn something new, I always reach to do it at a professional level. Whether it's designing a website, taking a photo, playing chess or the guitar, or writing a blog - I always want to take it to a very high degree professional quality or competence.

A really telling example is this 20 Days of... Challenge. There is no reason for me to have tried to actually do it in twenty consecutive days - heck, even Saga isn't actually doing one of these posts every day.  However, I feel compelled to push myself.  I was doing pretty good until this post, which is one day late.

In many ways, however, I am an utter failure at being a perfectionist because it's really an impossible standard to hold yourself to.  It's impossible to be an expert at everything.  I'll talk more about this on Day 11.

8.  I am a Wine and Whisky aficionado. I love a great wine and I absolutely go weak-kneed for a fine Single Malt Scotch whisky. I've been drinking wine for a long time, but was really educated when I met Andrew - a Scotsman friend of mine with an amazing palate for liquor. He taught me how to really taste the differences, and how to analyse and express what I was tasting.

Since then, I have tried to become an expert. I left the car industry for a job as a wine sales rep a few years ago and I have hosted dozens of whisky tastings. Needless to say, I've spent more than a few mornings feeling like Magmaw after a 25-man raid had their way with me the night before.

9.  I have been in the car industry for about six years now, not including the year that I spent selling wine. I sell Jaguars and Land Rovers. Contrary to popular opinion it is possible to be a car salesman without being a complete scumbag.

10.  My personality is an odd mix of introverted, quiet loner and exuberant, outgoing life-of-the-party guy. It all depends on my mood. I am completely and utterly dedicated to my wife, but can be an absolutely outrageous flirt at times. Yay, contradictory personality traits!



Day Seven: Why This is Dwarven Battle Medic

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


As I mentioned in Day Two, the key thing that finally made me decide to start a blog is when I thought of a name for it.

Before I had actually decided to start a blog I had started brainstorming names for the blog, just for fun; some of which are now quite embarrassing.  I thought of calling it, among other things, Fail Angel Mindfreak, a tribute to I Like Bubbles, but thought that would be a little too priest specific.  And well, the Fail Angel wasn't my idea and I wanted something wholly my own.  Into the Dungeon with Shield and BookExtremely Squishy Heals (a tribute to Saunder and referring to my Priest's tendency to splatter violently in the slightest breeze), and names based on various different talents or abilities were names I considered and rejected as just... wrong.

The epiphany came in mid-December during a particularly slow Saturday at work.  Battle Medic.  I was so excited when I wrote that down.  It was unique.  It spoke of how I thought of my healers, it wasn't class specific but it was very indicative of the topic that I wanted to discuss.  It just lacked a certain... something.

I stared a the page that I had scrawled Battle Medic in my chicken-scratch handwriting and tried to wrap my head around it. The idea that I was going to start a blog that day had very suddenly become perfectly real, but I had to perfect the name.

Battle Medic.

I thought that it needed a descriptor of some kind to make it more Warcrafty. Azerothian Battle Medic? No. Stormwind Battle Medic? Definitely not. What about Ironforge Battle Medic. Now this had some possibilities, but didn't quite roll off the tongue.

Then I scribbled DWARVEN BATTLE MEDIC in caps on the page and, at least in my head, my blog was born.

Since I wrote that down on that fateful December afternoon I have established a whole new identity. Battle Medic has become (again, at least in my mind) a brand name. It has caught my imagination in a way that nothing really has in a long time.



Call to Arms, A Rebuttal

Blizzard announced yesterday a new tweak to the Looking for Dungeon system to help alleviate the long dungeon queue times that are experienced by many.

The idea is simple enough: Incentivise the least represented role to encourage players of that role to queue up for dungeons more often by offering perks and a chance for rare in-game items.

From Blizzard's post:
"Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you'll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister's Terrace, and Deathcharger's Reins from Stratholme."

This is aimed primarily at Tanks, since 99% of the time they are the least represented role and the queue time bottleneck, but occasionally healers will benefit from this as well.  The benefit to Damage Dealing players is, if this system works as intended, drastically reduced queue times and a better, less frustrating experience with the Dungeon Finder.

I'm not going to go into the details of this new idea as I think it's been covered really well by others. Psynister has a great post up that dissects the advantages and potential problems with this new system extremely well, and from a DPSers perspective.

However, I do want to offer my own opinion on some of the issues that have been raised.

First off, this is a great first step into alleviating the Dungeon Queue problem, but it's not a long-term solution. If the fundamental problem with the LFD system is the lack of tanks, then the solution must be to encourage people to roll and play tanks. Having this added perk is nice, but it does nothing to change how the role plays or to encourage more people to do it.

Secondly, since the Damage Dealers are the ones suffering for the long delays, it makes sense to reward them as well. I suggest a scaling buff tied to the Queue time so that for each 15 minutes spent waiting in the queue, that person would receive a 5% buff to all rewards generated up to a maximum of 20%. Experience, gold and Justice/Valor points received would all be boosted.  Perhaps anyone with the maximum 20% buff would also get a chance at the rare drops that are now being dangled in front of the tanks. Adding this incentive would hopefully increase the patience of DPSers because they would be acknowledged and rewarded for enduring a wait time longer than the other roles.

Of course, doing this means that the only role getting screwed over would be the healers.  C'est la vie.

Lastly, one of the largest concerns that I've heard, especially from healers, is that this change is going to encourage more Plate DPS to try their hand at Tanking in gear that is unsuitable for the role, which means we are about to be innundated with a whole wave of LOLTanks in DPS gear that are completely unprepared for what actually needs to be done as a tank, but will get the extra rewards as the rest of the group stuggles to carry him through the dungeon.

This is certainly a possibility, and I'm sure there will be instances of it, but I don't think it will be any worse that it is now - DPSers are already queuing as Tanks for the instant queue.  Preventing that is what the Votekick function is for.


However, what if this change encourages a Death Knight or a Paladin DPS to try tanking for the first time and he likes it?  That's Blizzard's hope and the only way that the Queue situation can be improved long term.

It has never been easier than it is now to try a role that you've never done before. With Dual Specs being so cheap as to be inconsequential, and between the Auction House, Justice and Valor points and quest rewards and dungeon drops it's possible now to gear up for a different role without ever having to run a dungeon as that spec.  This is a mixed blessing, obviously, since at some point our fledgling Tank is going to have to bite the bullet, enter the queue and actually tank a dungeon. But there is no excuse for ever tanking without the proper tools and gear.


I have done some tanking in my time. I have a level 80 warrior that went through the Lich King expansion as Protection - even tanking some raids. I enjoy tanking, but the pressure that is put on a tank, particularly a new one, is pretty extreme. A new tank is expected to know which mobs need to die first, where to position them and when to interrupt them. They are expected to know where to go and what to do.

A new tank, especially one that is just dipping his foot into the role as a secondary spec, isn't necessarily going to have all the tools that he needs for the job. He's not going to be as quick to pick up stray adds; he may not even have a threat meter installed or know that he should, for that matter. He's likely going to make mistakes that will wipe the group.

And odds are he's going to get told off, insulted, belittled, called a bad, kicked from the group or simply ignored as a "noob".  It's happened to me before, and is frustrating as hell. Simply put, learning how to tank is not fun.


There is only one sure-fire, long term solution to the tank shortage: Tanking needs to be more fun. Blizzard can do their part, but certainly some of the reason that many tanks will only run with a guild group, or have given up Tanking altogether is because of how Tanks are treated by the other players.

It's up to us to solve the long-term Tank shortage by making life just a little bit more pleasant for them. Offer to help or coach a new tank that looks like he's struggling. Offer up a "Great tanking" kudo more often. Pay attention to the DPS order and CC targets. Or even do something simple like ask the tank what he wants from his raid markers, or offer to put them up for him - especially if the tank is a new one.


It's been a long time since I tanked - not since Wrath. But to prove that this change might just make things a little better after all, I am going to pick up my shield again and bash some heads with it.

I have three different characters that can start tanking right away:  Thosif, my Paladin is dual-specced Protection and I have been collecting gear for a while now (as of this moment he has a weird collection of tanking and DPSing gear, which means I'm going to have to spend some money to fill in the holes); Krupel, my Warrior who is level 80 and hasn't been into the Cataclysm zones yet; and my level 33 Paladin on Azuremyst, who is levelling as Protection but has yet to step into a dungeon.

If I, a dedicated Battle Medic, am tempted to give Tanking another try because of this, perhaps I'm not alone and this change will make a difference. Even if it doesn't, it's a step in the right direction. And if absolutely nothing else, it just proves that Blizzard does get it - they do understand what the players are going through and what the problems are, and that they're working on it - whether the community agrees with their choices or not.


To sum up:  Looking for Dungeon: Call to Arms is a good idea, but only time will tell if it's enough.


Day Six: Dwarven Battle Desk

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days and I, foolishly, have decided to take up this most daunting task because clearly my schedule is not full enough.


My office space is exceptional, and is my oasis from the hectic world.  I raid in the private luxury of my own computer room that is a good size, with a magnificent, winged desk that takes up a whopping thirty-six square feet.  I have two large bookshelves behind me that keeps my library of books and CDs within easy reach.  My chair is huge and incredibly comfortable, with both heaters and massage functions.  This room is my own personal version of a security blanket.

Or rather, that's how my office used to be.  Before the Dwarfling.

Along with virtually every other aspect of my life, my computer arrangement needed to change to accommodate a baby.  My office became the Dwarfling's room, and I had to give up my office nirvana shortly before the she arrived.  In it's place I got a new desk, new chair, and a new location in the house.  I honestly think that the change of my office space has been the hardest adjustment that I've had to deal with since the Dwarfling was born.

My new desk space is actually quite good, and I customized the IKEA bought unit a fair bit to suit my needs. It's nice, but it's not the same.  I had my old desk for about fifteen years, and as you can imagine I got pretty used to it.  It felt absolutely perfect - custom moulded like a really great ass-grove in a nicely broken-in couch.  It was comfortable and familiar.

This is my new setup.  As I said, it's nice, but not nirvana.  I custom built the monitor shelf with spare parts from the desk, which came with an upper hutch that was beyond useless.  My wife has a matching desk in the opposite corner, and both corner desks are connected by a long, skinny, straight desk with drawers.  The desk is located in our family room, which is where our TV is and where we spend the majority of our time while at home, so there is very little privacy.  I use headphones when I play now so I don't disturb my wife or the baby.

The Dwarven Battle Desk:  Click to Embiggen!

1.  My Logitech G15 keyboard.  The keys glow orange, which is just cool since it goes with the colour scheme on my blog.  Also, the six extra keys on the left side are very useful for keybinding cooldowns.

2.  A coffee mug from work.  It's not my desk if there isn't a coffee mug on it.

3.  A stack of unused CDRs.  I don't even know why these are on my desk any more, let alone why I have three stacks.  Who uses blank CDs any more?  Do I even have burning software installed?

4.  A stack of games that I'm not really playing any more but can't bring myself to actually put away.

5.  A baseball signed by the 1999 Montreal Expos.

6.  Altec Lansing 4.1 Surround Sound speakers. They sound gorgeous, but with the baby and the wife in the room most of the time they seldom get used anymore.

7.  Dwarven Battle Mouse.  I'm looking to get a new one and considering either the WoW Gaming Mouse or the Naga Razer 17 button one.  I'm having a tough time deciding which, but it's irrelevant since I can't afford either of them at the moment anyway.

8.  A baseball signed by the 2000 Montreal Expos.  I used to be a huge Expos fan, and was devastated when the team moved to Washington.  Since then I have lost my passion for baseball, but I still display these as a reminder of a long lost love.

9.  My wallet and cell phone.  I desperately need a new phone.  I have a Samsung Blackjack phone that works perfectly well, but I have a festering case of iPhone envy.  I would really love the extra capability that the iPhone would provide, especially the better internet experience.  Reading the web on a Windows Smartphone is brutal, to say the least.

10.  This is the monitor stand that I fashioned for my new desk.  I'm actually really quite proud of it.  Which is kind of sad considering it represents the most elaborate thing I've ever built.  Still, it's sturdy as hell.

11.  Atramedes killing me.

12.  The Dwarfling and both of my beagles doing something so incredibly, epicly cute that words simply fail to describe it.  I can't believe how lucky I was to capture this adorable - and completely indescribable - moment in this shot.  It makes me tear up just thinking about it.  It is... just wow... look at the photo, because I can't begin to do justice with words how precious this is.

13.  My second monitor.  It's an 18" LCD monitor that is insanely old.  It's refresh rate is slow enough that it's impractical to play games or watch movies on it.  I use it while I'm gaming to have boss fight strategies visible while I'm playing.  I also keep Ventrilo, Twitter and my website stats up at all times while gaming.  I love multitasking.

14.  My blog stats page.  I am so bloody addicted to watching my stats that I almost never turn them off.  They got washed out in this photo, sadly.

15.  My main monitor.  It's a 24 inch Acer monitor with a 2ms response time.  It's sexy and fairly new and I love it.  Previously I had a Viewsonic 19" CRT monitor that was as big and heavy as a barrel full of really heavy things.  This one is much better, and I love the widescreen format, but the colour reproduction of the old Viewsonic was better.

16.  Rottingham.  My only WoW figurine of any kind, and the one thing that lets people know that this is desk belongs to a hardcore geek.

17.  A Hasselblad 500 C/M circa the 1960s.  I bought this camera secondhand about 15 years ago.  It was my primary camera when I was running my Photography Studio.  It no longer works, sadly; it seized up after a photo shoot that was done on a wet, rainy evening.  I really miss shooting in a square format - the rectangular format of my Digital SLR just doesn't really get my creative juices bubbling quite the same.  I loved the simplicity of that camera; in fact this new-fangled Digital SLR is the first camera that I've ever owned that actually needed a battery.  All the buttons and blinky things just make me nervous.

18.  A picture of my beagle, Milo.  As of right now it's the only framed photo on my desk, but once I get around to printing up some Dwarfling photos, I'm certain that will change.  I really adore that photo of Milo, though.  It really shows off his sad, sweet eyes.

19.  A stack of crap, on top of which is my notebook that I carry with me where ever I go.  I use it to jot down blog ideas and post outlines when I'm at work.  It's so full of scraps of paper with ideas on them that I need to hold it together with an elastic band.

20.  A drawer full of crap.  Really, I need to clean that out.  It's got a lot of junk in there that doesn't need to be in there.

21.  All my important papers.  Note the complete lack of a filing system.

22.  My Metz flash.  I hate on-camera flashes, and so I use that bulky thing when I need to photograph the Dwarfling at night.  It's a pain in the neck to use, but is much more flexible than the flash built into my camera - I can easily bounce it off the ceiling for much softer light.  The only bad thing about it is that I haven't used the batteries in a number of years and they don't really hold a charge very well anymore.

23.  A chess set that my wife bought in Europe.  I love chess, although I'm not very good at it.  I have six or seven different chess sets in the house.  This particular one is notable because it's made of a beautiful green and white stone, and is completely impossible to play with because, aside from the Knight, all the pieces look virtually identical.  The only think that distinguishes the pawn, rook, bishop, queen and king is either height or a small, hard to notice detail.  It's like looking at a room full of Blood Elves and trying to decide which one is using a different hair gel than the rest of them.

24.  My computer. It's an Alienware system.  I won't bore you with the specs, but this is the first computer system that I bought prebuilt since high-school.  I've always built my computers myself, but this time I just said the hell with it and picked this one up refurbished.  It's been weird not having a personally built system, but the insides of this thing are spotless as hell - not the jumbled mess of wires and cables that I normally leave when I build my own.

25.  Way, way too many pens.  Really.  I have two pen holders that are absolutely jammed with pens.  Why do I need so many?  I type everything!

26.  My subwoofer.  Also makes a great footrest!

27.  A mess of cables that really look hideously ugly in a photo, don't they?