Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Two weeks ago, after raid, I finally asked the officers to demote me. It took a bit of doing, some hemming, some hawing, a lot of asking, "Are you sure?" and when I demoted my alts from Officer-alt to Member-alt, Thistle finally knocked me down a peg and there I was, for the first time since the summer of 2009 without an officer title in a guild.

It feels strange - liberating in one sense, disenfranchising in another.

Asking one of the officers to withdraw materials from the bank so I could cut gems and enchant the latest drops was strange and confusing when I've been used to having open access for such a long time. Not having to log in until 5 minutes to raid, not having to worry about signups and more-or-less just showing up to play was... refreshing.

It will take me a bit of getting used to as I can't help wanting to contribute my ideas because, at the end of the day, I am a loud-mouth. I can't help it, I just have to talk and say something - I'm one of those people with an opinion on everything, for the better or worse. As a member, I have taken to couching my statements with, "If I might suggest," and "Perhaps we could," instead of, "Here's what we need to do."

That, along with a role-switch has made raiding somewhat new. Pushing numbers, collecting gear (for the third time), and just plain working at the game is a nice break from the usual routine. I think tonight we might finally begin on the dreaded Heroic Spine encounter. When Dragon Soul came out, I still wore a shield on my back. I remember watching the Korean world first kill, and staring at the ocean of Blood chasing the pro-tank as he kited them all over Deathwing non-stop throughout the third plate. It reminded me of Nefarian, and I thought to myself, that's the kind of pain I'm up for. That's my job, right there. And here we are at last, at least two to three months too late, but here never-the-less, and my job is not to kite adds all over Deathwing, after all, it is, instead, to bring the fire and the fury of the Heavens down onto his body and rend it into pieces. We'll see how it goes. I'm prepared for many nights of pain.

But I was talking about being demoted.

I've talked enough about the why and the how and the what if and all that. I also wonder if this is my first, shuffling, slow step towards quitting WoW but I doubt it. I really do love the game, Azeroth is so familiar to me that I would miss it greatly and I still haven't found anything quite as engaging on a regular, weekly basis as raiding is for me. It's 6 hours a week of focused attention and creative problem solving - nothing comes close to beating that in terms of regular activity that keeps me hooked weeks on end.

But perhaps it is a way for me to ease back on the level of control I feel like I need to have in most situations. This releases me from control, it allows me to sit back and let someone else steer the ship without me on the shoulder tapping and pointing out that I would be driving in third gear not second, and maybe they should ease off the curb-hugging. I'm sure that was annoying as hell while I was doing it for the last few months, and now that I'm out of the Officer chat completely, I'm not even capable of that.

What this has opened up to me, are the quiet, secret little conversations that the DPS have, to implement the plan handed down. For example, my rogue friend and I were in charge of kiting lightning on Heroic Hagara for one of the sides, and she whispered me to coordinate our movement and we practiced it and I realized it was something that happened completely away from the eyes of the officers. Same thing on Heroic Warmaster, where we coordinated where and how to soak the Barrages together and when to take them alone. It's the nitty-gritty plan-meets-dirt kind of coordination that I was completely blind to until the last two weeks.

Sometimes, I feel like there are so many undercurrents, conversations, and crosscurrents in any given raid that there would be a network, a tangled web of lines of communications between the different chat channels, the public channels, the actual live audio channel (barring any custom chat channels there) and any number of individual whispers between members. All in the space of a few hours while playing video-games. It's almost enough to make me want to write a book about it.

But I've rambled on long enough, and long past any edge of reason. And my writing is... well, I don't know.

That's a different topic entirely, one of great consternation, frustration and anxiety. I feel little and less confidence in my writing, as if all sense of meter and verse has evaporated. I feel as one might on the far side of grace, downhill momentum growing as gravity takes hold. I don't know. Even this feels dull and monotonous, leaden and heavy with ill-intent. As if what I'm writing is just blunt commentary, deaf to any sort of poetry or insight, mute in any significant, or even insignificant matter. Mechanized metronomic words.

We'll see. We'll see. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I bring the fire and fury of heaven!

So. Having about equivalent damage done and DPS on the meters as a Rogue and Shadow Priest, both wielding Legendary weapons, is kind of awesome.

I've really grown to love playing a damage role recently, and it feels a lot more visceral in terms of having a direct impact on the encounters. You can see that when you're given a task, there's a real, active process you can apply to it and whittle down the enemy - especially when you're assigned a particular target like working down the Mana Bubble on Heroic Yor'sahj, a specific tentacle on Heroic Zon'ozz or the pylons on Heroic Haggara.

It took me a while, but I've gotten over the whole, "I need to save my cool-downs for Heroism." The fact is some of my cool-downs are very short, and even the long ones will get used twice in most fights (though Morchok died in ~3 minutes this week just as he cast the second pool, which was hilarious).

So, if I hit Guardian, buff Inquisition with 3 HP, hit Wrath and Zealotry, right at the pull, over a 6.5 minute long fight, I will get to use Guardian twice, Wrath and Zealotry 3 times, twice along with the Guardian buff if I wait just a bit for the 3rd use. That is awesome, and it really makes an impact on damage throughput. Having trinkets that buff me either through stacks from swings or from an ICD rather than on-use is also great because that's one (or two) less things to worry about (though I tend to just use those with a macro on Crusader Strike anyway).

Both our tanks are quite good at threat output (Death Knight and Warrior) so I give a two second count before exploding into a gibbering rabid animal, and I've never come close to pulling off of them. Even if that was an issue, that's what we have Hand of Salvation for, and the few seconds of decreased threat will give tanks the time to build up Vengeance and get their lead and after the first 10 seconds, threat is just not an issue anyway. We'll see how that holds up in Pandaria.

Now that I've gotten used to Retribution, the play-style has gotten rather simple. Keep Inquisition up, build up to 3 HP and spend it on Templar's Verdict. Hit Wrath and Inquisition more or less on cool-down except if Guardian is within a minute or so of coming up. With 4 piece Tier-13, we build Holy Power through Judgments so fast, those Templar's Verdicts just keep going out.

It almost makes me consider picking up Selfless Healer as it wouldn't be hard to setup a macro to throw a heal on the tank on a press just to keep that extra 3% damage done buff rolling. But it probably isn't worth the trouble. Very rarely do I use Holy Power to self heal except maybe on Zon'ozz and Haggara.

Warlocks are looking like so much fun on Beta that's all I play when I log in, but I should spend some time running some dungeons as Retribution just to get used to it and see what's changing. It doesn't seem like Retribution has a lot of changes but the 2 extra HP buffer and the new Talents might make a difference and I'm curious to see how weaving those into the game will change the rotation.

My off-sepc is still Holy and I'm running dungeons and LFR now and again to keep that in shape, as our 3rd healer slot was filled by an actual healer and not a pretender to the throne like me, so I can focus hard on keeping my number up.

At first, I was intimidated by the two legendary-wielding DPS in the raid - one of whom frequently lands on the WoL top 100 rankings for Shadow Priests on certain fights - would I embarrass myself in front of them? But their numbers have become my benchmarks instead.

It's not like I'll be ranking anytime soon, but hey, I'm going to play like I'm about to!