Images of Azeroth - The Waterfalls of Azshara

These images were requested by Navimie, the author of The Daily Frostwolf. She mentioned to me during my IntPiPoMo run that she had never been able to screenshot the waterfalls of Azshara to her liking. She asked me if I could give it a try.

This was at the end of November. I'm a little tardy.

Still, here they are in all their splendor. I admit, these buggers were hard to properly photograph. They're friggin' big and don't really fit into a screenshot terribly well. I had to get creative with the angles that I was using, and each image is a panorama of anywhere from 12 to 20 different screen shots. But I'm really happy with the drama and grandeur of these images. The first one is a particular favourite.

Going forward I hope to include image requests into future Images of Azeroth posts. I realize that I spend a lot of time in the Eastern Kingdoms, and so those images seem to dominate these posts. I hope that you folks can point me in a direction that I wouldn't normally think of. 

So, what would you like to see featured here? Leave your requests in the comments.

As always, click the images to embiggen.


Scribblings of the Clueless Noob

"There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself; but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life." - Henry David Thoreau
Earlier this month I wrote a rather long essay on the feelings of burn-out that I've been dealing with lately in which I offered ten different things to do to combat them. For those of you with the fortitude to actually read through all 3300 words, I congratulate you; that post was a monster.

Like many people, I don't always follow my own advice. As I was writing that post and thinking about the different things I could do to clear my head and find a happy place with WoW again, I realized that at the time I wasn't really doing any of them. Oh sure, I was playing a different game and taking a bit of a break—which was what the post was all about, after all—but the other things I talked about were merely theoretical. So I figured that I should put a few of those ideas into practice and see what happened.


I'm not sure anyone has noticed but I have been on a bit of a posting renaissance lately. This post marks the fourth post in January, two more than I managed in the whole of October, and I still have two more posts that I would like to get done this month. It seems as if my brain has a WoW infection and has been using my fingers to vomit all over my blog. Gross.

I started out this year with the idea of getting Battle Medic back to where I'd like it to be by posting smaller posts more frequently. Ideally I'd like to get back to doing about ten to twelve posts per month, so the frequency is better but still not where I would like it. The length, on the other hand, I've failed utterly and completely. So far in 2012 (not including this post), I have written over 5700 words and seem completely incapable of keeping a post under 1000. I guess we'll see how this one turns out, although with the amount of things that seems to get added in as I go I'm not hopeful—I'm already at 400!

Either way, writing about WoW is a wonderfully self-sustaining process.  I've got more to write about WoW because I've been writing about WoW, which in turn makes me more interested in WoW and makes it easier to write about WoW. It's a positive feedback loop that has done wonders in making me feel better.


Virtually every second of my WoW experience at maximum level has been spent healing. My first max-level character was a healing priest, the main that I ended Wrath with was my Holy Paladin and now, as Cataclysm draws to a close I've added a Resto Shaman to the mix as well. I love healing, and I have no plans to stop doing it any time soon, but in retrospect, my entire WoW career has been extraordinarily one-dimensional.

Oh sure, I've fooled around with other roles. I even managed to get my warrior tank into a couple of raids back in Wrath—an experiment that ended rather badly, I might add. Retribution, likewise, was used for levelling and then discarded upon reaching level 85. My Paladin has been unable to kill anything efficiently by himself ever since. I am the guy that always hears, "Oh, Fannon's on so we've got a healer" when he logs into Mumble. Simply put, healing has been the absolute focus of my attention for a long time now. And even as experienced as I am I still find it challenging and realized there is a lot for me to learn and improve upon.

However, doing the same thing for two years can get a bit monotonous. Imagine eating the same sandwich for lunch everyday for two years; I don't think you'd end up looking forward to the noon hour if that same damned ham on pumpernickel with yellow mustard was the only option. I think at least some of the reason that I was feeling burnt-out in the first place was because every time I was in a group setting I was doing the same thing that I always did.

And so I decided to do something completely different—for me, at least. I dusted off my badly geared, poorly understood Enhancement off-spec on my Shaman and took it for a spin in some dungeons and the raid finder.

Oh my, what a different world. As a healer, I have the luxury to say away from the boss where it's relatively quiet and I can play undisturbed. Not possible in melee range. It's wonderfully chaotic; at times the sheer amount of spell effects that are going off completely obscure both the mob I'm hitting and my character.  It feels odd trusting the health of the party to someone else, and I get damned nervous when my health dips. But then I realize that I'm only DPS, so I'm expendable, which makes me giggle to myself and want to hit the boss even harder.

I suck at it though. Yes, I am that noob at the bottom of the DPS meters in that heroic you're doing. Yes, I am in your dungeon group wearing that gear, horrible as it is. You'd better believe that I'm the one standing in fire or accidentally pulling mobs or doing any one of a hundred things that would make me pull my hair out if I were healing me. Yup, that's me.

And yes, I'm laughing the whole time I'm doing it. Sorry.

But I'm really enjoying whacking things with my giant beer steins. I'm enjoying the new challenge and the new responsibilities (or lack thereof) that come with dealing damage. It's given me something completely different to look forward to when I log into the game.

I'm still raiding as a healer, and it will always be my first, passionate love. But, if I can encourage infidelity to the game itself, why not cheat on my preferred role, too?

After all, unlike real life, in the gaming world, monogamy isn't good for the soul.

This post weighs in at 1029 words (not including the opening quote or this postscript). Close enough to call this one a win for brevity.


This Week in Raiding: Nerf Acceptance... Sort of

"From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate." - Socrates
Yesterday, Blizzard announced that Dragon Soul would receive the first of a series of progressive Nerfs, starting on January 31st. They are starting with a 5% reduction in health and damage dealt to all mobs in the instance. As well, there will be a way to toggle the Nerfs off, similar to how Icecrown Citadel's buff worked.

Now, I'm sure that many of you are thinking to yourself, "Oh shit, here he goes again. Another vitriol filled post about how much nerfs sucks and how they're ruining the game. Where's the fucking exit?"

Well, stick around; I don't plan on spewing any Nerf hate today. No sir, not me. Nuh-uh.

Now, while I'm no fan of Nerfs (as you may recall from this post from September), I am in a zen-like state of acceptance with this round of adjustments for a couple of different reasons:

Firstly, Blizzard approached these changes differently than previously in that they made no attempt to hide the fact that they were coming. Even before Dragon Soul was released on the live servers, the developers told us that they would be nerfed at some point. As well, they are giving us almost two weeks of notice before they come into effect. Contrast this approach with the sudden onset of the Firelands changes and it makes them a lot easier to accept.

Secondly, they are gradual. Looking again at Firelands, the nerfs that were implemented were savage in their  scope and extraordinarily sudden in their implementation. Such is not the case with Dragon Soul. Starting with a 5% reduction in all damage and health is reasonable and won't have such a jarring effect as the Firelands changes did. Dragon Soul will not turn into pale shadow of itself overnight; the adjustment period will be slow as the nerfs are gradually but progressively increased over the next few months.

Thirdly, they can be completely turned off to experience the fights at full difficulty. This brings back the successful buff system that Blizzard put into place for ICC, whereby talking to an NPC will turn off the Nerfs so a raid group can see the fights at full difficulty. This is a tiny bone to the hardcore players out there in an attempt to keep them happy by giving them the option to make the instance the original difficulty.

However, while it's nice to have I doubt this feature will ever be used—even by the extreme hardcore amongst us. And the reason is that there is no benefit to turning off the buffs other than self-satisfaction. With no way to tell whether a boss was killed with the Nerf on or off, any boss kill after the nerfs are implemented are tainted from a progression standpoint. I can say that I am 7/7 in Firelands, but anyone can look at the date of my Ragnaros achievement and see that it occurred after the Great Nerfening of September. That kill is valued less on a potential guild application than it would be if it had been done the week before. Dragon Soul will be the same.

Lastly, Dragon Soul normal modes are easy enough that it felt nerfed right from the beginning. So in that context, what does another Nerf matter? It's hard to get upset when something goes from easy to slightly easier.

I do have some questions though:

Why a raid-wide nerf? I don't think that a raid-wide buff was needed, honestly. Some of the bosses in normal modes could certainly use some tweaking: Zon'ozz, Ultraxion and Warmaster Blackhorn being the three that gave our raid team the most trouble. I sincerely believe that it's better to balance specific fights that are overtuned rather than nerf the entire instance. If a specific encounter is tuned such that the majority of people with the appropriate gear level cannot beat the encounter then by all means it should be re-balanced to bring it in line, but I feel the raid-wide approach is a bit like using a jackhammer to open a can of beans.

Why so fast? If, as Blizzard says, these Nerfs are being implemented because Raid Groups are hitting "brick walls" and not progressing, we now can gauge exactly what pace Blizzard expects their content to be cleared. These nerfs are appearing 9 weeks after Dragon Soul launched, meaning that Blizzard expects raiders to clear one boss per week at minimum before it considers them "stalled". Apparently, wiping on a boss for several weeks is now considered "hitting the wall" and "getting stuck on progression" and thereby grounds for nerfing the instance. Whereas in previous expansions wiping on a boss repeatedly was called "figuring out how to do shit" and an essential part of the learning process.

As with Firelands (which was nerfed in 12 weeks, giving slightly less than two weeks per boss), Blizzard isn't giving us enough time to figure things out. They continuously make more difficult and more elaborate dances in their encounters and are continually cutting short the time we have to learn them before getting heavy-handed with the nerfbat.

Kurn wrote an excellent article talking about the Dragon Soul nerfs and goes into a lot more detail on the timelines that previous instances have see in regards to difficulty changes. Check it out here: A Sigh of Resignation. She seems... uh... a little more angry about these nerfs than I am.


Matthew Rossi of WoW Insider shares an interesting statistic:
The Raid Finder is head and shoulders above normal mode raiding in terms of popularity. 35% of level 85 players have completed Raid Finder vs. 4% completing normal mode; that's a huge, huge shift. Keep in mind that Blizzard has more exacting statistics available internally, but this serves as an indicator of a trend.
On the surface, that is a shocking number. It seems like a lot of people have jumped in the Raid Finder at one point or another and have succeeded in killing Deathwing, far more than have done it on Normal difficulty. A 29% difference is significant, certainly, but let's think about this for a moment.

First of all, the statistic is for those players who have completed Dragon Soul by defeating the Madness of Deathwing encounter, something that can be done in the Raid Finder in an hour or two. Normal modes require a significantly larger investment in time, so it's not surprising that fewer people have completed it. Not only that, but divergent schedules of the raiders and other factors that aren't a concern in LFR can lead to slower progress. Nerfs can't fix that problem.

I don't know about your guild, but ours hasn't had enough time to even pull the Madness of Deathwing encounter yet after only 7 weeks of raiding, and yet I don't feel that we've hit a roadblock in our progression. In fact, at 7/8 I had thought we were making damned good progress towards our goal—until I heard about these nerfs that is. Now it seems that we're behind the curve and require some divine intervention from the developers.

I think Blizzard is making the classic mistake of underestimating it's user base. We're a resilient, intelligent bunch of people who are very good at figuring out what to do to get an encounter down given enough time.

I would be very interesting to see just how far people are getting in Dragon Soul without the nerfs. If 4% of level 85 characters have cleared Dragon Soul on normal, how many have gone 7/8 like me? How many are 4/8 and stuck on Ultraxion? How many are 2/8 and stuck on Zon'ozz? How many people just need more time to clear 8/8?

If specific encounters can be found that are causing the majority of the problems, then adjust those encounters to help those that are stuck and let the rest of us get back to work.


Frankly, I've come to accept that the days of the exquisitely difficult raid encounter are gone for good. No more will a raid encounter stubbornly refuse to yield to a dedicated and prepared raid group because the developers were feeling really evil when they designed it and just made that particular boss a massive son-of-a-bitch. The hard work, preparation and min-maxing that those encounters required are an out-dated mindset, apparently. And the raiders who enjoyed that type of challenge—the smart, resilient problem-solvers who think figuring out a problem is half the fun—are continually being marginalized.

If Blizzard feels that the raid is difficult enough that it is preventing people from completing it, then they should do what they feel is in the best interests of the health of their game. I can accept that.

Really, I don't much care what difficulty baseline Blizzard wants to set for it's raids. Whether it's incredibly hard, ridiculously easy or walking a fine tight-rope in between, I just want to complete the raid at the same difficulty level as the top-end guilds and everyone else. I don't want help and I don't want charity.

I'm not trying to sound elitist here. I don't consider myself a hardcore raider by any stretch of the imagination. I don't spend hours thinking about my spec or my gear or where I need to stand during an encounter. I have never run a gearing simulation and wouldn't know how to use a spreadsheet to tell me anything about WoW at all. All I do is show up and push buttons and dodge the fire until the boss dies.

If the fights are legitimately too hard, I'm all for nerfing them carefully and thoughtfully until they provide a good balance between challenge and accessibility to everyone. Everyone deserves to be able to play all aspects of this game, including Normal Mode raiding.

But I hope the developers never forget that there is a benefit to hard work. We as human beings learn from failure more than success. And while making raids simpler and easier is a good way to increase the overall number of raiders, allowing people to fail every once in a while—to truly have to work at something before succeeding—will make them better raiders.


Cross Realm Raiding and Crystal Ball Gazing

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
 - Norman Maclean
Looming quite close, just over the metaphorical digital horizon, is Patch 4.3.2. A minor patch with a few tweaks, a few fixes and one new feature that, had it come a year ago, would have sent the WoW community into a frothy orgy of excitement: Cross-Realm Raiding.

People have been clamouring for the ability to Raid with their friends on different servers for ages, and it seemed like an idea that was inevitable ever since the cross-realm Looking For Dungeon system was introduced in Patch 3.3. And, of course, Patch 4.3 introduced the Looking For Raid system which allows raiding Dragon Soul with random cross-server people at a unique difficulty level. 

But what LFR does not address is the ability to form Raids to tackle normal and heroic difficulty modes with people who are not on your server. And while the current raid tier, Dragon Soul, will not be available initially, that's what this new Cross-Realm Raid system is designed to do.


Unfortunately, excluding Dragon Soul leaves me a bit underwhelmed with cross-realm raiding. There will be no scouring Twitter to find a last minute replacement to fill in for your Mage who is being rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning leaving you one short for your regular raid night. No cross-server guild partnerships to form a 25-man raid out of two 10-man guilds. No Dragon Soul All-Star Raiding Dream Teams will form up spontaneously to crush the heroic modes.

Portrait of a Pissed-off Dragon Aspect
No, without the ability to run the current raid in a cross-server group, this feature will be an afterthought, and is probably the reason that it seems to have been welcomed by the WoW community with a resounding wave of meh

What it can be used for is to join LFR with a larger group than was previously available (yes, it's Dragon Soul, but only the watered down version), join a Battleground as a premade group, and to run through older tiers of raiding content.

Very useful stuff, and I think that the Battlegrounds feature especially will be used a lot. However, the system will never live up to it's potential until the current raid tier is able to be done with a cross-realm group. 

I can only speculate as to why they decided not to include it. Perhaps they felt that it would dilute the value of guilds. Maybe Blizzard didn't want people instantly transported to the raid instance as they are with LFR, thereby preserving the one, final reason people have for actually leaving the capital cities. It's possible as well that there is a technical reason, too, but most likely Blizzard decided to exclude Dragon Soul for a gameplay or balance reason.

Regardless, it seems that Blizzard is taking the cross-realm capabilities of WoW very seriously, and I imagine that seeing cross-realm raiding with no restrictions is only a matter of time. Which is great. I really look forward to the days ahead where the entire WoW population (faction permitting, of course) is at my disposal when I need to fill a hole in a raid. 


However, once cross-realm raiding of current content goes live, how long until we have cross-realm mail? Cross-realm chat channels? Cross-realm universal auction houses? And eventually, are cross-realm guilds possible?

I am just indulging in some wild and completely unsupported speculation here, as Cross-Realm Guilds are certainly not a feature that anyone has even hinted at being on the horizon, but it seems as if it would be the next logical step in the direction that Blizzard is taking us. It would pretty much remove all the remaining barriers between the various different Realms and create a single cohesive WoW population. 

If this truly is the direction that Blizzard is moving, it may serve to be a very clever way to prolong the games life.

I think that it is clear that after being at the absolute top of the MMO world since 2004, there are more days behind WoW than there are in front of it, at least as the biggest and most relevant of the genre. Don't get me wrong, I don't think WoW is going to die any time soon, but I don't think it's possible that any game—even this one—has 14 years of staying power. Times change, games change, new games come out. Such is the way of the world as so will it be for WoW.

It is a certainty that at some point WoW will start to diminish in terms of active players. It will be slow and subtle but will eventually leave some servers as ghost towns, their capital cities echoing with the unheard cries of NPCs trying vainly to add colour to an empty world. I've always believed that the first definitive sign that WoW is truly on the downward slope is when Blizzard starts consolidating servers in order to keep the population of active players high enough to be viable.

However, what does it matter if your server is virtually abandoned if your guild is spread-out over 20 or 30 different servers? While it would be rather odd to go to Stormwind (or whatever the hang-out du jour is in the distant WoW future I'm describing) and have it deserted save for a single, lone naked Night Elf dancing on the mailbox, as long as there are enough people online on some server somewhere to do the group activities the game will have the appearance of vitality.

And in the end, in order for a game to survive it has to still be fun to play. WoW without people isn't fun. And the perception that there are loads of other people around ready to do something with is critical for any MMO to stay alive and vibrant. 

To that end, the cross-realm features that Blizzard has implemented, as well as those we can speculate that they might implement at some point are great steps to unify and enlarge the pool of players that a person can interact and play with, which will help the game survive and prosper for longer than it might otherwise. And as someone who plans to play this game for a long while yet, I think that is a great thing.


Encouraging Infidelity: On Burn-Out and Blood Bowl

"The universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. There is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it." ― Terry Pratchett

When I was in high school, O those many years ago, my best friend and I would spend countless hours in my basement sitting on our billiards table playing games. It was an old, heavy commercial pool table, originally used in some bar somewhere, and very sturdy. We would sit on it—inadvertently destroying the felt in the process—and endlessly play a game that captured my imagination fully and completely. The game was Blood Bowl; a tabletop fantasy football miniatures game from Games Workshop. It was (and still is) a game of mayhem and bloodshed, all about the unfettered joy of bashing the living hell out of someone all in the name of good fun.

Back then I was completely hooked on Blood Bowl and pulled my friend Mike along with me. We had a large league just for the two of us, and we played literally hundreds of games against each other. I kept detailed statistics, agonized for hours trying to come up with names for new characters to replace fallen players and created logos and back-stories for my teams and players.

Yes, I was a massive Blood Bowl geek. Needless to say I didn't have a girlfriend at the time.

Still, the time I spend with Mike playing Blood Bowl was well spent. An absurdly high number of inside-jokes were created on the top of that billiards table and each square of that polystyrene pitch that we played on has a great memory attached to it—often involving the death of some innocent Goblin or Halfling who unwisely chose to try his hand at football one afternoon. In fact, the phrase, "squit like a pimple" was used often to describe the precise way that a Halfling dies when faced with a large, angry Ogre. A lot of these jokes have stuck with me, and thinking about any one of them can send me into a giggle fit. The name Steve Tuttle, for instance, cannot be spoken around me unless you want our conversation to be cut short by a lot of frantic chortling. Best not to ask why.


Why am I writing about this on Battle Medic, an unashamed WoW-centric blog? Clearly, reminiscing about games played during high school has no relevance to slinging healing spells during Spine of Deathwing, right?

However, the excitement that Blood Bowl filled me with has only ever been matched by one game: World of Warcraft. When I first started playing WoW it engulfed my imagination like nothing else had since those long lost days on the pool table, and in my excitement I yearned to learn everything I could about the game; to get a deep, fundamental understanding of everything that Azeroth contained. This blog is the result of that passion.

Lately, though, I have been feeling a little tired of WoW. Looking at the character selection screen made me feel like I was going to work―doing something I had to do, not necessarily something that I wanted to do. Obviously, that is a counterproductive feeling towards a recreational activity. The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is to go to another job. I want to have fun, damn it.

Now, please don't misunderstand me, I am not quitting World of Warcraft. Far from it, actually. I am still raiding regularly, and my guild and I are progressing nicely. In fact, on Monday night, Mountain Top went into Dragon Soul and managed to down 7/8 in a mere three hours. Aside from a couple of hiccoughs on Zon'ozz, it was a very smooth raid, really. But I wasn't truly excited about it. Not like I was when we got the good Majordomo down, nor did I feel the exhilaration of when Cho'gall fell for the first time. It was just... something to do.

Dwarven cheerleaders come prepared
with their own kegs.
I contrast this to the joy that I felt playing WoW when I first started raiding, and there is definitely something missing. This was crystallized in my mind over the New Year holidays when I installed a new game to try out: The video game version of the game that absorbed so much of my youth, Blood Bowl. When I tried it for the first time on New Year's day, I was enthralled. All those old feelings and memories came flooding back and I remembered what being truly excited about a game felt like. And I also realized that it had been a while since I sincerely felt that way about WoW.

(Then again, he thinks, as his silly Dwarf team fumbles the bloody ball yet again, this damned game is the stupidest, most frustrating, damned, arrrrrrgh, fargin' greasy bastich son of a ...)

Burn-out is a mental state. I think it happens when one perceives that the effort expended to do a task becomes greater than the reward one expects to receive upon it's completion. Considering that the reward for playing WoW are intangible things such as relaxation, enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment, it's a tricky thing to gauge. At what point do I think that my playing time could be better spent doing something else?

WoW is an interesting game in the sense that it becomes somewhat like a relationship. Time needs to be spent to maintain the relationship or else it will begin to decay—manifested by characters falling behind in progression, gear or daily quest rewards and the like. The more developed the relationship becomes the greater the feeling of obligation to maintain the relationship. For me, at least, it's this sense of obligation that has contributed more than anything to my burn-out.

And I don't know about anyone else, but WoW is unique in that, like a relationship, it creates a feeling of monogamy unlike any game I've ever played before. The notion that the characters in the game need to be constantly maintained leads to the feeling that playing anything else is like cheating on your spouse. I think this is the reason that a lot of WoW players get upset when their fellows begin dating another game such as Rift or Star Wars: The Old Republic. Faithful spouses are the ones that are most likely to look down upon infidelity. Frankly, this idea is kind of insane; it's just a game after all.

I think it's normal and unavoidable that after doing an activity like playing WoW for a long, continuous period of time to feel less enthusiastic about it than when it was fresh and new. I've been playing it to the exclusion of just about anything else for over three and a half years now, and at least for me, right now, the lustre of the game has worn off a bit.

And given that it's unrealistic to play the same game for three years and still remain as excited about it as when it was new, yet not wanting to give up on it, means that I need to manage my feelings of disinterest.

I have been giving some thought as to what can be done to take a break from WoW, get refreshed and get one's mojo back while still maintaining the relationship.



The first step for me is to remove the feeling of obligation. I want to play the game because I want to play it, not because I have to play it. During the Firelands patch the prospect of grinding out a month of dailies was an incredibly unappealing thought that made me want to think twice about logging in until eventually I just stopped doing them and felt a lot better. Same goes for capping Valor Points; it's something that is nice if I can do it, but if I don't manage it every week I'm not going to fret about it.

Once I realize that I don't need to play if I don't want to, I need to find a goal that makes me want to log in. I realize how much stuff that I haven't actually seen or done in the game, so there are lots of potential goals or achievements to go for. For instance, I decided that I wanted to get Jeeves for my engineer, and while it was a grind to try and get the recipe, I actually enjoyed the process knowing that the reward at the end would be something that I and my raid team would find extraordinarily useful.

Make the goals small and doable in easily accomplished chunks. There is no point in taking on a task with a grand scale that will simply increase the feeling of obligation or force you to quit before it's done. Failure to accomplish a goal will only make the burn-out worse.


While there are some people who have been playing this game so long that they have literally done and seen everything, I cannot even begin to list all the things that I have yet to do. I have never levelled a horde character past level 15, and there are whole zones that I have never experienced other than riding through to get the explorer achievement. PVP is still more-or-less a mystery to me. There are more than a few raids I haven't seen, and I really haven't raided seriously in any role other than as a healer. I could go on as the list is extensive.

When burnt-out from doing the things that one normally does, it's time to change it up. Find something—anything that you haven't done before and try it out. The worst thing that can happen is that you won't like it.


Enthusiasm is very infectious; if it caused sneezes it would be considered a Level 4 Biohazard and very serious men in very serious suits from very serious government agencies would be present to monitor the situation any time a 13 year-old girl told her friend about Justin Beiber in case a pandemic broke out and doomed the Earth. It's serious shit.

It's interesting to see a game that I'm so intimately familiar with through the eyes of someone new to the game. I watch my young nephew play, for instance, and am amazed at the things that he finds interesting and fun. Fishing, for instance, is tremendously entertaining for him. And he would happily have his character swim for hours in the rivers and lakes. Seeing the things that he finds interesting and fun is fascinating, and allows me to see the game through the eyes of a 9 year-old.

So try finding someone who hasn't played the game before and show it to them. Even if they don't go and pick up a copy, show them how to play and let them give it a try. Sharing their experiences as they see things for the first time is a fantastic way to rediscover the magic yourself.

Alternately, help someone learn to do something that they don't know how to do. Try showing a guildmate the ropes of a role they don't often do. I have often found that they best way to discover new ways to do something is to try to teach another person how to do it. It can be a lot of fun, and is very rewarding.


It cannot be argued that the most compelling feature of any MMO has nothing to do with graphics or quests or gameplay, but rather in the people that play the game. Whenever I log onto WoW and see our guild chat silent, it's a little bit deflating. I love lively chatter, and having a fun conversation is a great way to get me in a great mood.

Meeting and talking with someone new is a great way to reinvigorate interest in an MMO, and can potentially expose you to a different way of thinking about it. There are literally thousands upon thousands of potential friends online at any particular moment; all it takes is a little bit of effort to meet them.


There are a gazillion support groups out there for just about every conceivable problem that a person can possibly have, and they work. Talking about feelings and problems with people who share them is a great way to begin to get a grip on them.

So talk about how you're feeling about the game. There are any number of places you can do it: Post on forums; comment on blogs (like this one!); write a blog or hell, even talk about it in trade chat if you're desperate. The point is, don't keep it bottled up. You'll feel better. Honest.

As a blogger, Battle Medic has been my outlet for a lot of things when it comes to WoW. This post has been wonderfully cathartic in getting some of this stuff off my chest and feeling better about this game. I plan to do this more often, and focus more on the things I really enjoy about this game.


I think I may need to tweak that title somewhat. It's not exactly pithy, is it?

There comes a point when it's just time to get the hell out of dodge for a while and actually take a break. Even though I don't plan to quit WoW any time soon, the past week or so of not really playing WoW very much has been nice. A little distance has been a very nice thing, indeed, and I'm starting to feel the irresistible urge to return to the sunny shores of Azeroth.

So what can be done to take a break from the game and reinvigorate the gamer's soul?


Feelings of infidelity aside, there is no reason why anybody needs to be a monogamous gamer. WoW's feelings won't be hurt if you start seeing something else on the side, regardless of whether it's a single player game or another MMO. I flirted with Lord of the Rings Online for an afternoon, and other people have dived into other games head first, and through it all WoW has soldiered on and is always ready to take back it's players who have strayed. Variety, as they say, is the spice weasel of Neptunian cooking.

Games—all games—are a lot of fun. Over Christmas my Dad and I played a game of Tiger Woods golf on his Wii (the fact that my father has a gaming console and I don't felt a little odd, honestly). As we were starting up the game he said, "I didn't take you for a golfer."

My reply was simple, "I'm not a golfer, Dad. I'm a gamer. Let's rock." And despite the horrifically bad slice in my golf swing, we had a blast that night (and the whisky helped, certainly).

Exclusively playing a single game—even one as vast and deep as WoW—is very limiting. Expand your horizons and try something new. You may find, as I have, that cheating on your game may just remind you of why you fell in love with it initially.

In fact, it was cheating on Warcraft that inspired me to start writing this post. The days I spent transfixed to my computer pitting eleven stout Dwarven footballers against enemies on the Blood Bowl pitch were so exciting and so much fun that I was reminded of why I play games in the first place.


Of course, there is more to life than gaming. Sacrilegious, I know, but perhaps the best thing to do when you're burnt-out on a games is simply not to play anything.

For me, whenever I'm feeling in a rut or depressed, I find that doing something creative will always lift my spirits. Writing, for one, is a phenomenally powerful power-scrub for my brain, and always helps me regain my emotional balance. Likewise, spending some time working and playing with photographs is always good for my soul, like eating a bucket of chocolate at Halloween.

Personally, I find that doing something that allows me to flex my creative muscles—especially if it produces something tangible, like a finished print I can hang on my wall—is a tremendous stress reliever. I don't ever do it often enough for my liking, but I always feel better after I'm done.


I am the single worst person you could ever imagine to give this advice given that I am one of the most sedentary people on the planet, but physical activity is a perfect way to change the switch in your brain from the CRANKY BASTARD mode to the ULTIMATELY CALM CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE setting. It's good for the body and the mind.

Every Friday during the winter my wife and I go Curling. I always feel emotionally recharged when I get off the ice, especially if I've had to sweep hard and am physically drained. There is just something purifying about getting a good sweat on, especially if it is then followed up by a pitcher of lager at the bar that's attached to the rink.

Yes, I know, it's not the most effective diet and work-out plan. This could explain why I don't ever lose weight.


Likewise, giving the mind a workout is equally good for the spirit. Plopping down in front of a cozy fire, or on the couch with a glass of wine and a great book is a wonderful way to change your attitude. It always works for me. It's very peaceful, very zen, and allows me to put my mind in neutral and forget about all the crap that I have to deal with during the day.

Of course, when the Dwarfling insists that she wants some attention and oh my doesn't that book look like a fun thing to grab and see if it fits in her mouth means that I seldom get time for this particular option these days. But any chance I get to steal a bit of time to plant my face between two pages, I take it.


The final, most obvious and infinitely most effective tip I have to combat burn-out is this: Go spend time with someone that puts you in a good mood. Hang out with your buddies, get a hug from your wife or a cute Holy Paladin that drops by your house occasionally, go play with your kid or even chase the dogs around the backyard. Just find someone who makes you smile and let them do the hard work of cheering you up.


Feeling burnt-out on WoW is an emotional state that can be reversed. Any of these tips can be utilized to get yourself in a better mood and back to doing what you want to be doing. The real trick is, and one that can't be answered by anyone but yourself, is to figure out what you really want to be doing. There is no point in forcing yourself to play a game you no longer find fun.

However, I think that most of us still enjoy World of Warcraft and don't want to leave the game permanently. I think it boils down to giving yourself permission to do something else, to remove the pressure of needing to maintain the high maintenance WoW relationship, and allow yourself the freedom to do other things.

Go ahead, cheat on WoW with another game or with your family. Take a step back from your sense of obligation and take it easy for a while. I think you'll find it will still be there when you have the urge to come back.

And I think that you will want to come back. It's been two weeks for me and I already do.