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You know cats are very independant, and if we didn’t feed them I am sure they would be happy to ignore everything else for their entire lives . Dogs though, dogs are needy, they need company, attention, companionship.. and a rare dog needs someones throat to rip out but I won’t follow that line of thought. Humans though are incredibly dog-like, we instinctivly reach out and make connections with others, forming bonds without even realising it.

When I started playing World Of Warcraft a little over three years ago I never imagined that I would be sitting behind a computer deeply mourning the loss of someone I have known only via the internet for three years .. yes I know a bit about the persons work, family, life, etc .. but in essence what I know of this person was from how she behaved through an online avatar. Those who don’t play online games probably will think this is a little odd, but I have come to realise that as someone running a social guild we make a lot of connections andprobably invest more of ourselves into the game and helping others than I had realised.

The death of a Guild Member and how it has effected myself and other players is probably the strongest example but as I look back there have been numerous times in the past three years where I have felt emotianal highs and lows based on news of what is happening with other players and their lives. I guess what I am getting at is that we are such communal creatures that even when we can’t see each other we instinctively make bonds with those we can interact  with.

When I think of all the people I have met in game who through their lack of good behaviour makes my blood boil compared to those who act like reasonable and sociable human beings I do have to admit, it is the latter who I remember best and who make gaming worth while. For those whom I have had a lot of contact with over the years, if I haven’t said it before I’ll say it now .. you are part of what has made online gaming as addictie as it is, and I have appreciated your company.

Now throw me a bone here and clean out my kennel!

So I finally dragged myself around to reading the Interview that Wowhead did with Ghostcrawler, and overall it was a refreshing read to see the developer speak his piece and it should remind everyone out there that Blizzard is actually listening. One thing did stand out for me though was this:

Malgayne: Lots and lots of people were asking about raising the character limit per server.

Ghostcrawler: *laughs*

Malgayne: That’s a very common question, especially since you’ve got twelve races now instead of ten, but only ten slots.

Ghostcrawler: Yeah. Um…there are—it’s funny, there are really mixed views on that on the team. Some are like well, why don’t we just do it, people are asking for it? but then others are like, players say they want it, but do they really want it? Or are they just like, camping on a bunch of names for alts and stuff like that? Are they really playing all of those 10 characters pretty regularly? And I think where we left it is, we were going to do some pretty hardcore research to try and figure out how many players are really at that cap, and are they at that cap legitimately, or do they have like, six level ones they never play, or something like that.

Now this is something that I’ve talked about with my guildies before, and probably will again. Looking at Ghostcrawlers response to the question I can see where they have concerns and I can understand what they are thinking..  which is not what the nay sayers I play with are saying.

When I originally asked in guild if peeps would want to be able to create more then 10 toons on one realm, or heck use up all 50 character slots on 1 realm most said they would prefer that, others said they didn’t like the idea, and some said that they thought it would add stress to the servers. (Though if you can only be logged in on 1 toon at a time I don’t know how this would help keep lag problems away).

Here is my opinion though, I think it should be allowed, admittedly I would probably still have toons on two realms but I would like the option to have more than 10 toons on a realm. At this stage I have 2 realms I visit regularly. The first houses my beloved druid, my shammy and a host of other horde toons, oh and a single alliance pally. The second houses my alliance toons who I made initially to see theopposite side of the storyline and who have now formed a new guild with guildies from my other realm so that we can all enjoy lvling alliance toons together. So at the moment everything is all good.

But Cataclysm is coming .. and I want to try out the options it is bringing, and I want to be able to interact with those people I know. With 9 toons on my main realm this leaves me with hard choices .. do I look at the Tauren and finally make a Horde Paladin that I won’t be ashamed to play on, do I roll a second druid (troll of course) so I can check out what the tanking/melee side of it is like, or do I roll a goblin priestess because a horde priest is the only class I  currently don’t have on the realm?

Those, those are only the basic questions, but there are other things to consider. One of the main tanks in my Guild is now up to his 5th level 80 with a 6th in its 70’s because he enjoys levelling and crafting and the different playstyles, but he likes to be able to gossip with people while he levels. I, on the other hand, after over 3 years playing have finally gotten a 2nd toon to 80 (my shammy) after he languished as a little used character for most of that time, even though I created him on the same day as my druid and my hunter (who is just over 40), you see I prefer to try and get everything done on the one toon and only use alts as an escape when needed.  Just because I may only jump on them brielfy once a month doesn’t mean that I don’t feel invested in the toon, or that I don’t want it somewhere where they can still easily talk to people I know.

Now I can see why Blizzard would be concerned about camping and about how much they are played but I feel differently. Everyone plays the game for different reasons and as far as it doesn’t cause Blizzard any harm I don’t see how allowing this would effect them badly .. it may actually solve some problems. Either way, its good to hear Blizzard is considering it, and I personally hope they allow more toons per realm.

You know looking back over the last few months of varying posts and threads on the official WoW forums I can’t find many people who support the Icecrown Raid Buff. Most seem to bemoan how it ruins te game and blah blah blah. I have to admit though when it was first introduced I didn’t know what to think and it has taken me some time to make up my mind.

I like the Icecrown Raid Buff, and in retrospect I think adding a similar buff over time to any tier of raiding is not just a good idea but a great idea. Having said that I have probably offended a lot of “hardcore” raiders, but why I don’t know.

3 Simple Reasons the Buff is Good:

  • Buff will allow more people to see the end raiding content when it is current rather than having to go back to it as old content when not everyone wants to run it anymore.
  • Buff will allow those who wouldn’t normally see it, see it without detracting from those who wanted to be the first and have challenges that met their mettle
  • Buff will allow more people to follow the overall storyline to its conclusion then raiding did in 3.1, or as a better example Black Temple or Sunwell, or even the Original Naxx when it was 40 man.

First off Blizzard makes these huge fantastic raids like Icecrown and Ulduar, but the sad fact is that even with the changes brought out in Wrath not everyone still gets to the end boss of a dungeon before its time to move onto the next one. There are still numerous people out there now working on Dreamwalker and the Blood Queen who have never seen Yogg Die.

For example a quick look at of guilds have cleared ICC in normal mode to date, Guild Ox shows that the figure is around 30.63% of Guilds as having killed him in 10 man. Now compare this to the “Descent into Madness” which Guild Ox shows as having been completed by 39.51% of the population since it was brought in. As a 2nd point we can see that 54-60% have downed Dreamwalker, Blood Queen and Putricide. These guys are approximatly equal to the Keepers of Ulduar which Guild Ox shows 68.5% of guilds having killed since Ulduar was released.

Ulduar was released in 3.1 and in 14 months there have been as many Yogg Kills as Lich King Kills … although Icecrown has only been out half that time. So come 14 months out from 3.3 (or say the release of Cataclysm) how many people will have killed the Lich King? Who knows, but my bet is it is a bigger % of the population that anything in the past – and if thats the case that is a good thing.

You know usually I am the one that trys to not cause tension in dungeons and to keep things going, whether the dps is doing less than 1k or pulls crap before the tank gets to it, if the tank can’t hold aggro or leaves dps behind, you know the everyday stuff that a healer has to deal with.

There is one thing I hate though, and I have done so since back when Druids could only rez once every half hour and the run back to Razorfen Kraul as ghosts was all the way from Camp Taurajo, and that is people who do not run back after a wipe. Everyone else could make it why couldn’t you? Now I am not picking on all people here who don’t run .. in fact I can understand the situation say if you chose a wipe to make a quick bio break or to nip away from the computer briefly. But to sit there talking, or not going afk and then demand a rez .. more than just Irks me, its rude and  inconsiderate.

As far as I am concerned if you are behind your computer there is no reason to not run back. Refusing to run back slows the whole group down, especially if it wasnt a wipe near the start of a dungeon.  It means that whoever does run back is left waiting for the person who didn’t to then sit, drink and eat as well as then having to wait for the rezzer to replenish their mana – and in low level dungeons this could be significant depending on gear and number of people to rez.

Anyway last night we had a tank in Draktharon keep who thought of himself as Mr Wonderful, so wondeful in fact that while I was skinning poor King Dread he had raced up the stairs and pulled the entire balcony while I was skinning and while 2 of the dps were sitting down drinking. A wipe ensues, with that I have no complaint .. the tank was impatient and things went bad, it happens, no problem. 4 people release, as we reenter the instance we notice the tank hasn’t released or moved .. so very casually I ask “Is Tank AFK? Hes not running back”. To my suprise he replies that he is still at the computer .. at which point I replied “thats OK, I don’t have to Rez” at the same moment the dps pally who had been doing 60% of the damage says “thats OK I can tank”.

Now as you can imagine I was overjoyed because I could now in all good consious leave the lazy little bastard exactly where he was. To this point in the dungeon his work as a tank had been unispiring .. hell the warlock doing 1.8k dps had tanked half the adds in the chamber prior to the first boss and the pally who was taking over often had more hold of aggro then the tank himself. So the pally tanked and we cleared the rest of the dungeon faster than we had moved through any part of the dungeon previously despite the fact that there were now only 4 of us active rather than 5.

We cleared the trolls on the landing and those damn fearing undead trolls at the base of the steps to the last boss. In all this time Mr Wonderful had remained unmoving not releasing telling us how needed he was as a tank because he carried the groups he tanked for, how it wasn’t right that we didn’t rez him, how it was in specific my fault we wiped in the first place, and how we were all in general a bunch of bastards for not rezzing him. So when we got to the boss and he still hadn’t released, we booted him.

Now you may say that what we did was wrong, and that either I or the Pally should have just rezzed him and kept going because “its only a random dungeon”,and that in the end we ruined mr Wonderfuls gameplay experience, you can tell me what you want but I don’t agree. Mr Wonderful was a bad tank who was totally unmindful of anyone in the group but himself and more to the point he was rude and couldn’t even follow basic dungeon etiquette. It may sound petty, but it felt good to leave him lying there.

Though that is all a fun tale it bring me to the point that Mr Wonderful isn’t the only bad apple out there, and since the intoduction of the new dungeon tool it is becoming more prevalent, and with the overgearing and simplicity of Wrath Dungeons I’m finding that the idiocy that is now experienced end-game is also being felt at lower levels where simply plowing through a dungeon is not always possible.

There are a number of simple things that anyone, whether they are a tank, a healer or a dps should remember in dungeons that will make the experience better for everyone.

  1. Be friendly and give the other players, no matter what their skill, some respect. After all its another living breathing person you’re dealing with.
  2. Don’t run off ahead and leave someone behind with trash that “they should be able to handle”, especially if your a tank .. and especially in lower dungeons where trash is liable to run off a side corridor you haven’t been through to summon help.
  3. Tanks shouldn’t pull if their group isn’t there. It can work at times, but if your group is drinking or not with you then you are not going to be able to survive long.
  4. If people need to drink wait for them to drink. At 80 this isn’t much of a worry but still happens from time to time, and if you are in a lower dungeon and not wearing BoA gear you may need to drink a lot.
  5. Let the tanks pull, after all they have less chance of being one shot and causing raid wipes.
  6. Be patient with those new to roles. If they are a new tank or healer they need to get their footing and this can take a while .. give constructive feedback and don’t be an arse. If they are dps who are not doing well compared to their gear don’t ridicule them, try and give them a useful tip or two that could improve their performance .. who knows they may have levelled solo and never figured out that certain stats or spells are useful.
  7. If you need to go afk say something. If you just need to pee or grabe a coke fine most won’t care, but when someone goes afk without warning (especially heals and tanks) and doesn’t move for more than 5 minutes then your detracting from everyones gameplay .. don’t waste the groups time uneccesarily.
  8. Don’t make stupid comment. Saying things like “Tank Hold Aggro” or “Heal Me” won’t endear you to anyone.  Tanks and Healers know their jobs as well or better than dps and have their own priorities. Also “Hold Aggro” is a usless statement, saying “umm hey you forgot to put on Rigteous Fury” is more constructive,  useful and less insulting.
  9. If you wipe run back. Not running back causes the entire run to slow down. There are exceptions to te rule but if you are sitting behind your computer and not taking a quick afk there is no excuse. Your the same kind of people who always show up on tour 10 or 20 minutes later than agreed meet up times, you slow everything down and piss everyone off.

Theres probably more but those are tha basics that I can think of. It’s a matter of treating people how you would like to be treated. Remember if you keep being a wanker then people will treat you like one. So play nice and you’ll find that everything works better for you, and remember with the way the dungeon finder works no-one is irreplacable these days, even tanks.

So the other night I was blackmailed, yes that sounds right blackmailed, into getting my shaman to turn his off-spec from Enhancement to Restoration. With my main toon who goes everywhere as a healer I was reluctant to commit my only other end game level toon to the same ordeal. Don’t get me wrong, I love healing, but at times you need to do something different.

So here is my Elemental Shaman preparing to heal a raid group in the same gear he does dps in, and I will say now that gear is terrible, a mix-match of crafted items, a few EoT Pieces, even a few blues with a shamble of Engineering Enhancments thrown on and half the gear not gemmed or enchanted. Now his dps isn’t bad .. around 3k which is enough for him in heroics (never planned on him really raiding), so I wasn’t expecting much on the healing front.

As we worked on downing Ignis, as usual I didn’t have a lot of time to watch moment by moment the meters, but I was more then pleasantly surprised at the end when I showed up on the top of the healing meters even if it was only by 1%. Now from experience I know that healing meters don’t truly show anything, but they are useful to gauge if you are doing your part. The people I run with traditionally have 3 healers for a 10 man, it may be overkill but its a safety net that doesn’t let us down, and in this case the other two were a disc priest and another shammy. I didn’t think I had done to badly for first time ever healing on the shammy.

After the raid I did a dungeon and while I did forget to pay attention to how my mana usage was going, I wasn’t in any sort of real worry about not keeping up. While I have to play more now as healing on the shaman to get used to it I can say right off the bat that they are a lot simpler then a Druid.

I am not saying Druids are complicated but from the fact is that shammies just have less spells available to them. When I’m playing the druid I have a whole range of options available on longer casts, Hots and Multi-Heals, and surprisingly I tend to make the use of nearly every spell … probably with the exception of Healing Touch which only seems to get used with Natures Swiftness in an “Oh Shit” moment. With the shammy I have most of those healing options but seemingly less variety, and when I heal with the shammy it feels like I am only spamming 2 buttons.

The question is though .. is this all a trick of my mind? I’ve had priests who tell me they think druid healing is easier, shammies who believe priest healing is easier, and Paladins who ask me “what do I mean how many buttons do they press, isn’t there only 1?”. So are large varieties of healing options in any one class tree  excess bloat or balanced variety of choice? and more importantly does that excess of choice enhance or detract from gameplay?

I’d like to think that for the majority of healers having a range of tools at their disposal to pick and choose from would enhance gameplay and be considered good balance rather than bloat , but I also know where my focus lies and what I am not interested in which always makes a choice biased.

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