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On Enjoying Your Play and Taking Breaks

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The WoW Mogul has a good, short series of posts on how to enjoy playing WoW (part 1, part 2, part 3). I really enjoyed them, especially this bit:

(O)ne of the best things you can do to enjoy WoW is to stop playing it! WoW is designed to get you to sub each month and keep you playing repetitively, reinforcing the habit. As such like many MMOs it employs various techniques to keep you in; large MMOs are not always working in your interests. Take a month off and see what else is happening in your life.

I think that’s good advice. Things have been stressful outside of WoW, and when a patch hits all bets are off if WoW is actually going to be fun to play or not. Even though I try to remain neutral on CBM, I remain pretty damn pissed about how the endgame PvP gear transition works, so having to face it with the new patch just ratchets up my stress levels. Then there are class changes and unannounced changes and bugs and miscommunciations and …

Transmogging was actually a breath of fresh air amidst all of that. I had a lot of fun last week playing around with it, both on alts and on my main, in the intended and unintended ways. :) So I was pretty disappoined when it was taken away, but then having it happen at the same time I needed to decide if I was going to leap back into gearing up Cynwise for PvP or not.

It brought the fun to a screeching halt.

And it caused me to think of that WoW Mogul article and go, you know what, maybe I need a break. This game shouldn’t stress me out, it should be fun. I should be able to pick it up for a while and put it down for a while. Why put in liesure hours on something that’s going to just stress you out, when you’re already maxxed out on stress from other parts of your life?

So I did three things.

First, I’m taking a WoW break for a little bit. I need a few days off, just to go take care of holiday things and family things but also to just decompress. I’m burned out at work and it’s showing. It’s showing in every aspect of my life, not gonna lie. A few days off will hopefully help me clear my head.

Second, I am going to try doing some different things in WoW when I come back. I talked to some friends and we’re going to level some stuck alts through Northrend, then hit the Cataclysm dungeon circuit. I have only done 1 dungeon this entire expac – one.

To say I haven’t seen very much of Cata PvE is an understatement.

So I’m going to say, let me do something different, let me do it with friends, and I’ll see if I enjoy it. I expect I’m going to level Ashwalker up to 85 and warrior tank heroics, just for a change of pace. I like tanking! Let’s see how it goes!

If it doesn’t work out, I’ll try something different – maybe a DK? Maybe even Ms. Cynwise? – but if it’s not fun, I’ll stop.

Third, I’m going to try disrupting some of those techniques MMOs use to keep you playing even when you don’t have any concrete goals. (Just like walking backwards through a supermarket! Don’t go to the right!) I cancelled my subscription today, not because I’m quitting, but rather so I have to actively choose to sub during any given month. It also places constraints on the things I want to accomplish in game – instead of “I have all the time in the world,” now it’s “I have until mid-February, I can’t do everything, so I have to say NO to a lot of things and YES to a few.” Once I get to the end of a time card, I can reevaluate if I’m having fun.

Having done it, I feel like there’s a great weight off my shoulders. There’s a plan. There are limits. There’s no endless horizion of the same old thing night after night. There’s something new to try, and a clear goal and focus. I don’t feel chained to WoW for the first time in months.

I’m looking forward to the break, but I’m also looking forward to coming back.

I think that’s a good sign.

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Five Quick Things That Are Different in Season 11

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I’m in a mood tonight. I’m just warning you.

  1. Valor Points cannot be exchanged for Conquest Points. Sorry, raiders, this is just gone. It’s probably due to …
  2. Epic PvP gems are available for sale. 750 Conquest Points gives you like… +5 to a stat? Oh yeah, that sounds like a sweet deal.
  3. Weapons require different amounts of points to purchase. You need 7250 Honor Points for the Ruthless 378s, 7800 Conquest Points for Cataclysmic 397s, and 15,700 Conquest Points for the Cataclysmic 410s. Yeah, sure, like I’m going to fucking remember those numbers.
  4. MMRs didn’t reset. Oh wait, that’s the same as last season. The difference is that this season they were supposed to reset. Whoops.
  5. Conquest Points from regular battlegrounds will screw things up for a while. It will take a while for everyone to find equilibrium again. Shit’s all stirred up right now.

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On the Highly Cerebral Joy of Resto Druid PvP

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Cynli didn’t want you getting the wrong idea from the last post.

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On Sucking

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I was playing Cynli in WSG the other night when I got whispered by a rogue on my team.

God, you suck.

Wait, what? What the fuck?

Holy shit man, do you even know how to play? I can see what you’re doing.

It was at the end of a long day at work. I was in my son’s room, waiting for him to go to sleep. It wasn’t a great game for us – the Horde was working well together, putting a lot of pressure on our GY. We weren’t getting farmed, but we were starting to get bottled up.

I CAN SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING YOU SUCK

I decided to take my chances and try to break through their lines – I was able to keep a few of them off of me, perhaps if we made a concerted effort to punch through their lines we could break the vice – worst case, get someone through to the flag. I ran through them, healing healing healing healing dead. They overwhelmed me.

You just ran straight at them. Holy shit you’re terrible. Stealth around them!

This rogue was not going to give me a break. I got pissed, really pissed. I’ll be honest – I think my first thought was a very uncharitable, “holy shit, do you know who the fuck I am, buddy?” – but then I came back to reality and just ignored him.

Release Spirit Y/N?

/ignore rogue

29 seconds to resurrection.

Well, damnit. We’re losing. Am I healing okay? Scoreboard says I’m healing okay, I’m 3x the nearest healer. I’m doing things right.

24 seconds to resurrection.

Damnit.

What the hell was I thinking, running into that pack? I might not be able to stealth that well, but at least I could have not just suicided into the Horde.

15 seconds to resurrection.

I shouldn’t PvP when I’m this tired. What the hell was I thinking, that I could distratct a group like that? That shit only works in Strand and EotS.

10 seconds to resurrection.

WTF am I thinking, justifying myself with the scoreboard? The scoreboard doesn’t mean jack or shit.

5 seconds to resurrection.

Damnit.

Maybe he was right.

—-

The problem with hostile criticism is not that it’s criticism, but rather that it’s hostile, which makes us immediately defensive. When we’re defensive, we’re closed to the possibility that we could be wrong. That’s why effective criticism isn’t hostile – if you want to actually change someone’s behavior with your criticism, how you say it is as important as what you say.

But being hostile doesn’t make the criticism any more or less valid. It just makes sucking hurt more.

It’s important to distinguish between criticism of an activity versus criticism of yourself as a person. This is a tough thing to learn in life; doing things poorly doesn’t mean you’re a failure at life. It doesn’t mean you’re doing them well – but failing at something doesn’t make you a waste of human genome.

Attitude is key. Jesus christ, I’m sounding like my father, but he was right – attitude is key. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to let people down. It’s not okay to stop trying to do better. It’s not okay to give up. Claim your successes, learn from your failures.

I remember the first time I got actively ridiculed in Warcraft. It was on my 59 DK, and some guy came up to me while I was at the training dummies. He laughed at me and said my spec was terrible. “Okay, I’ve been playing him for about a week, any suggestions how to improve?” “lol noob l2p” was all I got back.

I was pretty chuffed at that. But I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing on my DK yet, I knew I didn’t, so once I got over the gall of someone criticising a stranger, I went and asked for Twitter help on my build. I rebuilt my Frost spec and, indeed, did better. I stopped sucking.

It was easier for me to accept that criticism on my DK because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and the criticism was open. On my Druid, I actually felt like I knew what the haps are, and in WSG I feel like I know what the fuck I’m supposed to do.

So this impertinent rogue had a lot of gall telling me to learn to play. I know WSG, buddy!

But the rogue was right. I wasn’t playing well. I certainly wasn’t playing as well as I know how to play.

I pulled my shit together, waited for teammates to rez, and healed them as they went out of the GY. When they went down to the zerg I hid and abandoned them to die, sneaking around the Horde and getting into the base. The rogue was running the flag and I healed him as best as I could – which was pretty well – but we couldn’t get the other flag down, we were behind 2-0. We lost.

It’s okay to suck. Honestly, it is. There are plenty of times I really shouldn’t PvP – I’m exhausted, I’m stressed out, I’m not really focused on what I’m doing – but sometimes, PvP is really what I want to do right then. I don’t need to be at top performance all the time, as nice as it is. PvP takes my mind off my day, it makes me focus on pushing buttons. BUTTONS I LIKE TO PUSH YOU LET ME PUSH YOU PUSH PUSH PUSH.

But I should be honest with myself when I’m not playing well, and accept criticism when it’s deserved.

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Five Ways I’m Amusing Myself with Heirloom Transmogrification

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Oh, Cynderblock. You offer me all sorts of opportunities to do silly things, and I admit, I’m hitting the transmogrification cardboard box pretty hard with you. It’s a pity that you wear plate heirlooms, though – I have great outfits picked out for you, but they require a mail chest and shoulders. And mail chests at your level just aren’t BiS.

Still, we can work around it, especially since you can mog heirlooms on high level toons and send them to leveling alts with the new image intact. Here are five silly ways I’ve been amusing myself with transmogrification.

1. Smite’s Mighty Hammer on Repurposed Lava Dredger. The thing about the Lava Dredger that I’ve never really liked is that it’s an awesome looking weapon that’s itemized for a thematically-conflicting class. Druids, defenders of nature, wielding something with gears and a turning key? Doesn’t fit. So I took Smite’s Mighty Hammer – which looks either like a massive boulder on a stick, or a big pillow on a stick – and replaced it. I don’t get to use Smite’s hammer anymore, but I’m sure one of my future putative Druids will.

2. Armored Titanium Goggles on Burnished Helm of Might. These goggles have been tanking goggles in my mind ever since I started playing WoW, at first due to Aggrojunkie’s love for them, and then later because they were my tanking goggles, too. I was disappointed when I got a helm upgrade for Cynwulf in ICC, because that meant his goggles were no longer for tanking. Now, with mogging, I really want to find a good complementary chest and shoulder look so I can level all my tank alts with his goggles.

3. Argent Avenger on Bloodsoaked Skullforge Reaver. I like the look of the Reaver, especially since it’s one of the few 1H swords to go across the back. But I’m kinda disappointed that Cynwise never gets to use her lightsaber, especially since PvP spellswords are usually not available. (Maces and Daggers cover more classes. Phooey.) So now my tanks get to experience a little bit of SW:TOR and tank with a lightsaber. (If you are leveling Arms/Ret, use the Very Light Sabre from a gnome warrior alt on the Reforged Truesilver Champion – another sword with a great model, but not a lightsaber. If you don’t have the Argent Avenger, the Spellfire Longsword works too.)

4. Scarlet Sin’dorei Robes on Tattered Dreadmist Robes. I rather liked the purple Dreadmist heirloom set when it first came out, but, oh god am I tired of seeing it. Level with something pretty, like the gorgeous Scarlet Sin’dorei Robes instead. (There are a lot of great looking robes in the game – I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to stick with just one.)

5. Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix on Charmed Ancient Bone Bow. I have this bow on my Warrior, of all toons, and she’s not going to be able to use it come Mists. Time to put that flaming bow to good use.

I’m honestly really excited by the possibilities of changing the look of my heirloom gear. It really opens up possibilities I hadn’t considered for leveling outfits, and makes me think about how I want my character to look like for 80 levels, and that I can change my mind. 

I love it.

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On the Hero with a Thousand Faces

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We, imperfect humans that we are, are always seeking self-definition. By our actions, by our choices, by our beliefs, by our tribes, by our appearance – all seeking to give us a sense of self.

I am this and not that.

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The choices we make coalesce, slowly, into something grand and magnificent. A person. A hero. A hero of many stories, but most importantly, our own.

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We head out into the world, seeking. We try new things, try to to find purpose and meaning amidst the struggle for survival. We experiment. We find things that work, and things that do not work, and hopefully we learn the difference.

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We may fail. We may go astray, fall victim to despair and chaos. We may surrender to our dark impulses. We may redeem ourselves.

Or we may not.

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We learn that there are many perspectives, many voices, many sides. We have to choose. We learn that there are some choices, once made, which cannot be undone.

We learn that there are other choices which never mattered in the first place.

Sometimes, we don’t know the difference.

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Each day, we arise, and wonder in what way will today call upon us to be a hero. Every day brings a new opportunity, a new chance, a new story. Sometimes we succeed. Often we fail.

But we can never go back and rewrite what has come before.

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Then one day, we realize that we were seeking ourselves the entire time. That the journey itself defined us, that we are naught but the sum of our desire to define a sense of self.

No more, no less.

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I am this, not that. This is my story.

And it is the story of a journey.

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On the Mists Warlock Talent Preview

Blizzard released a new Mists talent calculator. Warlocks have some interesting things going on. Quick notes on just the talents:

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Level 15 Talents

Soul Leech leaves the Destro talent tree and becomes something that any warlock can use. Has good potential to be the default PvE talent for this tier, as the three nukes involved should still see heavy rotational use. PvP utility is really dependent upon the fate of Nightfall and Backlash, which are absent from the current model. These are the long nukes.

Harvest of Life could be really interesting in BG PvP, but less so for arena or duels. PvE would be situational based on an encounter with a lot of adds.

Dark Regeneration is probably the Arena PvP talent of choice. Situationally good for PvE if there is burst damage that needs to be mitigated.

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Level 30 Talents

The biggest change here is not that Affliction can get Shadowfury or Destro can get Improved Howl, but rather that every spec loses some depth of their CC toolbox here. Instead of Howl + Death Coil + Fearbomb or Shadowfury, you now have to choose one of three.

The loss of Death Coil, which I think is implied by the addition of Mortal Coil, is going to take some adjusting for all warlocks.

That said, Howl of Terror is now instant. The CD gets reduced when you take damage, a nice touch.

Mortal Coil replaces Death Coil, I think. Health boost is a little bigger, easier to understand as % of total.

Shadowfury. Of note is that it loses its damage component and becomes a pure stun.

I expect we’ll see Mortal Coil and Shadowfury be the favored PvE choices, depending on playstyle and raid comp. Mortal Coil will be used as a self-heal, while Shadowfury remains a great AoE stun.

I honestly don’t know which I’m going to take. I hereby dub this talent tier the “Choose Between Your Favorite Children” tier, because, man, I love all of these things as they are right now.

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Level 45 Talents

Some interesting choices here in the damage reduction tier.

Spell Drain is going to be an interesting PvP talent. If you time it right, it can negate big burst attacks and turn the tables on your opponents. If you time it poorly, you waste it. This will be a skill talent to watch in Arenas.

Soul Link doesn’t say 20% damage anymore, but if we assume that it stays the same then this becomes an interesting passive choice for PvE and PvP alike. The big difference is that healing will now be shared with your demon, too, reducing healing effectiveness on the warlock. Woah.

Because of that little change, PvE warlocks may flock more to Sacrificial Pact, giving them an immunity bubble to just ignore huge boss attacks. This has a lot of PvP utility too, allowing warlocks to negate a focus fire situation where a lot of CDs are chain-popped.

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Level 60 Talents

Blood Fear makes Fear instant, but takes 10% of your health when you cast it. Depending on baseline self-healing abilities, this might be worth it for PvP. Not for PvE.

Burning Rush looks to address one of the biggest weaknesses of the warlock class – mobility. Depending on the CD of this ability (right now there’s none) warlocks finally have the ability to run away from melee REALLY FAST. Obvious PvP utility, obvious PvE utility, and damnit, I think Engineering just got nerfed.

Dark Bargain is a damage reduction CD with a twist – you’ll take the remainder of the absorb shield as damage. How typically warlockian, I like it. :)

Dark Bargain might be required in some PvE encounters, but there’s a lot of overlap with Sacrifical Pact. It will be best used against DoT classes in Arena PvP, since people will learn to see the graphic and immediately shift to a different target while CCing the warlock, negating the use of the CD as well as causing damage without doing anything. It might do okay in BGs.

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Level 75 Talents

Ah, the Demon tier.

Grimoire of Supremacy buffs your demons 10% and gives them better abilities. The abilities will need to be evaluated to say if this is a good move in PvP.

Grimoire of Service gives you a second demon. I don’t know if it’s a different demon, in which case do you get all their abilities, too? Or will it be a duplicate of the one you have, in which case this is again a straight up DPS increase with possible PvP use.

Grimoire of Sacrifice could be really good for PvP, giving each spec some burst that it might otherwise lack. The tradeoff of sacrifice in PvP is an interesting one – do you lose the demon’s utility for increased damage and health? There are going to be a lot of situations where this will work well. But what if the demon is banished, etc.?

In PvE this will come down to number crunching and situational DPS increases. If Sacrifice gets you more DPS than having a pet out with a 10% buff, then raiders will go with it. If not, Supremacy will probably be prefered. Service will probably be the skill talent for PvE, working well with abilities like Heroism/Bloodlust making its burst more effective than the 10% buff.

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Level 90 Talents

Archimonde’s Vengeance will probably see a lot of use in Arena, and should be appied to the focus target whenever the warlock comes under attack. Good for comps where the Warlock is the soaker. Situationally useful in PvE if there’s a lot of raid damage going around.

Kil’jaeden’s Cunning is another one that has a lot of PvP potential. Casting while moving, coupled with a 25% speed buff? Oh yes, even if it’s slow casting. The challenge will be casting while moving and not getting interrupted – almost every spell will go to a 2.5+ cast time while moving. Obvious benefits on movement-heavy PvE fights.

Mannoroth’s Fury adds spash damage to the spec nukes, and 100% burst splash damage on CD. With the right positioning, this can be great for big BG PvP and PvE alike. Less useful on small-scale BG PvP and Arena, but certainly not a bad choice. Again, depends on the fate of talents like Nightfall and Backlash, which appear to be gone.

There are changes to the spells as well – click on the talent tree and you’ll see the new spell abilities. That’s a different post, though.

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