Always the discipline of steel remained…

Ok, so last night I went on a death knight bender.  After a few weeks of being all squishy and aichmophibic, I had an irresistible craving to whack some mobs with something sharp and heavy.  I feel like I’m on step 2 of a 12 step program for pointy object obsession.  Hello, my name is Faust, and I am a whack-o-holic.

Old habits die hard, in life and in WoW it seems.  Perhaps I have spent too many years as a tank.  It just feels…odd…somehow not to be smashing heads and slashing through armor.  Indeed, my faith is being tested.  As his father said to Conan (the Barbarian, mind you, not that Destroyer blasphemy), when speaking of the Discipline of Steel: “…no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts.  This you can trust.”  Lok’tar, John Milius!  In WoW, Conan would have been an orc.

By the way, I named him “Angvar” not realizing at the time that Scott Johnson had probably planted a seed in my head with the “I’llpaintmyfacewithyourblood!” emote from Ingvar the Plunderer, of Utgarde Keep fame.  I think I realized it half-way through the starting area while I was painting my face with the blood of the requisite 20 “citizens”.  By then, however, there was no deviating from Angvar’s fate.

The death knight starting area is honestly one of the best things in the whole game.  Playing a Forsaken carries just the slightest bitter taste of evil.  The death knight starting area has the full flavor of damnation, and that flavor is rich. It is strangely, perhaps perversely, satisfying to be the right hand of doom.  As you stroll through the ruined, burning village, people cower and beg for mercy.  Like a true agent of the Scourge, however, you are powerless to give them that mercy.  After all, their skulls are the only thing standing between you and a shiny new quest reward.

I had fun playing through the whole starting area, emerging into Eastern Plaguelands.  It made me wonder what Cataclysm holds for that area.  It seems that they would have to keep the Plaguelands…er…plaguey, in order to preserve the storyline.  However, with Arthas’ inevitable defeat looming, you wonder if perhaps those lands might be under the dominion of a new master.

In any case, like a junkie for the hard stuff, I got my fix.  No doubt I will shortly return to the well-traveled interior of Hillsbrad Foothills and my priest, who I believe is silently meditating in the middle of Tarren Mill, obediently filling his rest bar.  Nice work, little buddy.

My other ride is a reindeer…

Winter Veil is upon us.  ‘Tis the season for overindulgence.  I happily did just that over the weekend with the new Dungeon Finder and I find myself at level 26!  The experience just kind of rolls over you like the tide when you’re running instances, and you realize that your quests have all started turning green and gray – moldy oldies, if you will.

Level 26 is kind of a crucible for dungeons.  Actually, there’s no kind of about it, it’s a goddamn wasteland.  Here are the joys that await you in the random dungeon feature at this level:

  • Blackfathom Deeps: long, boring, grindy
  • Stormwind Stockades: also boring, but this time without the loot!
  • Razorfen Kraul: a quillboar maze…fun!
  • Gnomeregan: my screen barely loads before half the party leaves

As an added bonus, if you die in Stormwind Stockades, you get to run back to the instance from…wait for it…Eastvale Logging Camp!  This seems like an oversight or perhaps, a sadistic holiday treat from Blizzard developers.

Enough griping!  Thank you for the wonderful present, Blizzard.  The Dungeon Finder is actually a great tool, and one that is allowing me to practice the healing arts on real live subjects.  Which brings me to my current theological dilemma. Can one live in shadow, but also embrace the light?

I was told in guild chat by some of our elder priests that before level 40, it doesn’t really matter what spec you are – the differences are not that striking.  It follows then, that I should spec shadow, because this seems to be the fastest way to level solo.

However, I’ve been doing so much healing that I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just jump right into holy or discipline with both feet.  I mean, I kind of enjoy throwing down a Shadow Word: Pain and a few other dots while healing, but it feels a little like I’m paying a “hybrid tax” within the class if I’m not spec’d fully for either role.

I found a fairly good thread over on the European forums that has me thinking, but the consensus still seems to be that shadow is the leveling spec of choice.

Currently, I’m still serving two masters.  Offerings in the form of suggestions are welcome.

Your trauma center, doctor…

Nice healz! My first healer kudos.  Just like that I want to jump right back on the Dungeon Finder and find another group of walking wounded with which to practice my craft.  Last night I finally felt some healing pressure, just the merest glimpse of some actual trauma.  Level 19, peoples.  This is serious business now.

Actually some of the heat was probably unnecessary.  I randomly drew Deadmines from the Dungeon Finder (which, can I just say, is still one my favorite instances in the whole game?), and ended up with a druid, a warrior, a paladin, and a rogue.  Once again, three people that wanted to tank, and did.  This can get tricky for a healer, and I found myself oom in short order.  This is the very essence of Whack-a-mole, which is of course, the real priest mini-game.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, as Salvatore posted earlier this week in his comments on this blog.  In these low-level instances, you end up with people that just don’t understand the fundamentals of the game.  Anyone who has been lurking around Azeroth for the half decade that the game has been around can’t help but be mystified by this.  After all, aggro management is 1st term Freshman stuff, right?  MMORPG fundamentals 101 with professor Kaplan.  How could anyone have missed that class!?  You forget that among the 12 million person student body, there are real Freshman running around (probably drunk, with hormones ablaze) that don’t know a dot from a pot and haven’t even started looking for Mankrick’s Wife.

So like Rodney Dangerfield, I’m going Back to School.  I’m majoring in Whack-a-mole, which isn’t so bad really. It is, after all, a classic.  At this early stage of my career, my heals and the associated health pools are so small, and the tanking is so disorganized, that we may actually be talking about more net whacking than in endgame.  Of this, I cannot be certain.  Perhaps the elder priests among us can speak to the veracity of this assertion.

Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here…

Cattle have herds, wolves have packs, and I guess idiots have the new Dungeon Finder.  I hit level 15 and promptly headed directly for this new cross-realm magical group finder, intent on hitting Ragefire Chasm.  As an added bonus, I got to use the “random” feature for the extra blue item bonus prize, even though I was only qualified for a single dungeon.

This is truly a double-edged sword for the intrepid leveler.  On one hand, you now have easy access to a PUG, complete with a convenient teleport feature that takes you right into the dungeons (assuming instances are available, but that’s a subject for another time).  On the other hand, you will likely be teleported to the instance, only to have one or two people quit, and you’ll be left standing there, incomplete.

I assume people quit because they do not want to be in the “random” instance that fortune has selected for them.  Apparently a 15 minute debuff is not sufficient to discourage this I-want-the-random-reward-but-not-the-randomness behavior.  I’m sure pantheon of design gods at Blizzard will think up some new ignominy to shame them into politeness.

When you do, finally, find your way into a complete group, you are likely to have at least one member of the moron family among your party.  Not just any moron either, but the variety of moron that only the Internet can provide.

I humbly offer several examples of my misfortune for your reading amusement:

  • The tanking warlock who charges ahead of the actual tank and his pet to be swarmed and killed, only to yell for heals.
  • The party member that insisted we stand by the corpse of the first boss because it will respawn and “give us more stuff”.
  • The paladin, warrior, and druid who all wanted to tank and…did.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  It goes without saying, given the above, that there was a general lack of mana awareness among the parties, despite my repeated assurances that I was, in fact, OOM. I hereby create a new acronym for routinely ignored priests: FOOM, in which the F stands for…well, I’m sure you can guess.

Despite the somewhat uneven first experience with this tool, I’m encouraged.  I’m actually considering leveling discipline (gasp), so that I might continue to sample the company of the finest breed of moron available on the Internet.

Call me crazy.

Thirsty?

There is a lot of inertia involved in starting a priest from scratch.  You have this thimble-sized pool of mana and a tiny little fly swatter of holy damage with which to flail your enemies into oblivion (feel my holy wrath, insect!  only twenty more swats and you’ll be dead!).

I exaggerate only a little.  You actually have at least three fly swatters, only one of which is holy, but it’s the only one that won’t make the fly roll on the floor laughing at you.  I refer, of course, to Smite .  But Smite carries a relatively large mana cost at this level, so you need to smite judiciously.  As the Templars of old once said, smite often, but smite wisely.  Part of this can be mitigated with the aforementioned wand, but what else can you do to minimize the time that you stare at your motionless toon, sitting cross-legged on the gound, drinking water?  (i.e. times when even they look bored)

You either use less mana to slay each beast or you stretch that thimble until you have a full tablespoon.  Of course, you can also  sacrifice your body and take a few whacks while you’re wanding them down (you’re a healer, suck it up).  Fortunately, thimble-stretching and improved body-whacking are within your grasp.  You can actually improve your stats relatively cheaply at this level by becoming a tailor!  Running around Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest, you’re going to hit a lot of things that drop linen.  Use it.  You can be decked out in greens before you hit level 13!

My warriors and paladins were always blacksmiths for similar reasons, and while it’s hard to visualize my unholy Forsaken priest cackling with diabolical laughter while executing a Herringbone Stitch, it’s hard to argue with the results.

Finally, my fellow true believers, you should look into maximizing your bang for your buck.  What are the three most important secrets to maximizing your damage per mana point?  As my realtor would say: rotation, rotation, rotation.  …or do they say something else?  Anyway, when you are fresh out of Sunday school you pretty much have only Smite to work with and your non-effective fumbling with a melee weapon.  But now that you’re, say, at mighty 13th level, you have a few options.

Here’s what I’m using now (half-way through 13th level): Power word: shield, Shadow word: pain, Mind Blast, Smite, Smite, and wand, baby, wand.

I find I can get through at least 3-4 mobs this way without drinking.  You’re mileage may vary.

Watch as the Happy Pet runs and runs inside his spinning exercise wheel!

The focus of this blog, my fledgling priest Faust, has to be alt character number…what?  I’m going to conservatively guess a number that implies a certain level of fanaticism but falls short of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Let’s say 14.

When you read any advice about writing anything of enough length that it might register on a bathroom scale, the first thing you invariably hear is that you should just keep writing. The theory is that if you frequently go back and read what you have written, edit a word here or there, add a sentence or two, or polish a descriptive passage, you’re never going to reach the end.  Let’s face it, nothing is ever perfect.  In this case, perfection keeps you from reaching endgame.

Perhaps alt-o-holics are the aspiring novelists of the MMO world.  You create a shiny new avatar, run around thrilling at the fiery death that you can call down on other pixelated blobs and exalt for a short time in your new identity.  Then you start to think that maybe you’re not the fiery death kind of person at all.  Maybe you’re more of a cold steely death kind of person.  Maybe that’s what you’ve been all along!? Pause, re-roll, lather-rinse-repeat.

Am I more of an Orc shaman kind of person?  If I grew a mustache, would it fully qualify for work in the porn industry?  Perhaps if things had went differently in my formative years, I might have stayed in boy scouts and eventually become a paladin!

The answer is more than likely, D: all of the above.  We are, each of us, all of these things on any given day.  Do you always feel like a sneaky rogue or a noble warrior?  Probably not.  The game ebbs and flows, the grass is always greener in Orgrimmar or Stormwind on any given day.

The truth is that MMOs are treadmills by their nature, but some treadmills are of our own making.  Can you ever win at an MMO?  I think so.  I’ve made so many friends in this game and had so many memorable experiences that I think the victory has been the journey.  The thing that continues to elude me, however, is making any significant impact at endgame.

I’m going to take a page from the “How To Write A Damn Good Novel” book that’s sitting on my bookshelf this time around.  I’m just going to keep writing.

Good morning, staaarshine!

Ah, patch day.  The inevitable slow build to a fever pitch of anticipation, the equally inevitable few days of server instability and login issues.  Oh, World of Warcraft, you bitch goddess.  You giveth, and you taketh away.  Blessed be the name of my realm server.

I haven’t had a lot of time to play lately, but I did manage to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to get to level 11 (fear me).  More advice to my fellow acolytes: use those first two precious talent points on spirit tap.  Even at level 11, you work up a pretty severe thirst for mana, and every little bit helps.

Rumor has it that in 3.3 (which is now officially out, even if you can’t log on to your server – you’ll just have to trust me) there are changes that significantly buff mana regen for young priests of level 15 and lower.  Moreover, low-level spells will cost less.  Shadow priests in general also got a big buff that has something to do with haste and hots/dots.  The theory-crafter in me is…aroused.

I added a little sidebar that will track my currently-loaded mods.  Feel free to suggest additions, subtractions, or a complete UI overhaul.  I’m playing on a MacBook Pro most of the time, so I try to keep it light.  I’m all about the light (youseewhatIdidthere??)

Anyway, so I’m standing there at the zeppelin towers outside of Undercity late last night, minding my own priest business, when I get the patch smackdown.  This particular brand of smackdown involves lots of people logging on the night before the patch to speculate on the auction house, spend honor, or do some other thing that can’t wait for the patch but I’m sure is soooo important that it’s worth messing with my game time…

…sorry, a little nerd rage there.  Anyway, this particular smackdown is like a little community-generated preview of the “official” smackdown that later comes with the patch.  If you happen to be online for this, you might find yourself falling through the world endlessly, like this:

Ala peanut butter sandwiches!

So I got a good tip recently from a long-time priest (first time caller) when I complained about the miles I was accumulating with my frequent dier card.  He said, “Get a wand.”

Get a wand! So concise.  So simple.  So mind-bogglingly game changing.  These old time priests really are clever.  I feel like my mana bar just doubled.  My drinking problem has been mitigated significantly.  I’m a new man.

So, fellow acolytes, I felt compelled to share this pearl of wisdom, even in the middle of my work day so as not to deprive you of it one more second than necessary.  Now go forth and exercise your wands.

/chuckle

Brutally mohawked for no good reason...

Brutally mohawked for no reason…

Let’s assume for the moment that someone other than me is reading this blog.  No really.  It occurs to me that such a mythical creature might appreciate a signpost at this, the near start of the what is sure to be a Hindenburg-sized volume of hot air.  What’s this blog business for exactly?

As the name implies, it’s mostly about playing a priest.  I thought it might be fun to chronicle all the noobish discovery that occurs when you’re learning a class for the first time.  Having played this game for so long, I know shockingly little about the ways of healing in general and priests specifically.  Last night I dinged level 10.  Feel free to hold your applause.

It actually was a bit of a struggle.  Priests, it turns out, are absolutely dreadful in multiple add situations – at least junior priests.  I think I died a half a dozen times pulling nearby level 6-8 mobs unintentionally with my crop circle-sized aggro radius.  I rapidly learned that a priest with no mana is a dead priest.  In this case, dead again…and again.

This mana business is going to take some getting used to.  My smite is doing something like 17-28 points, while my pitiful mace is doing 3-5.  Plan B, as it happens, is not to rely on the mace.  Plan B at the moment is to run away.  And now I have a shield that helps out with that as well.  So take that, level 5 demon dog!

Anyway, pray for me, I’ll need it.  I joined Alea Iacta Est today.  Yay!  That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now.  I joined and was promptly greeted with a few Faust jokes.  I feel welcome. :-)

“Dark lady watch over you…”


Ahhh, back in the loving embrace of the Horde.   It’s a strangely liberating feeling.  After quite a few months of playing Alliance-side on Uther, I’m back among the Horde.

Let me back up.  I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since its launch in November of 2004.  I can remember cajoling several of my real life friends to join me in their first MMO experience.  I was essentially a MMO virgin as well, though I had suffered through a couple of months of Lineage II before WoW came along.  If you also experienced that game, you have my sympathies.

Moving on.  Being the typical red-blooded, Tolkien-loving, former D&D-playing geeks that we were, we naturally gravitated to the Alliance.  Despite the porn stash wearing humans and the oddly annoying gnomes, it felt fairly comfortable over there – perhaps a wee bit stuffy.

Nevertheless, I played Alliance with my friends for a few years, mostly tanking with a warrior and then a paladin.  I dabbled in roguery and druid..ery as well, but suffice to say I felt most at home with a sword in hand, toe to toe with the bad guys, bashing heads.

Enter Burning Crusade and my friends and I decide to see how the other half lives.  You know that thing they say about ducks and water?  Yeah, that.  I felt like I had just been invited to the smoking area of my high school by the cool kids.  The cities were a little dirtier, the leaders were cooler, the quests were a little naughty, and so were the elves.  For the Horde, baby.  For the Horde.

But not everyone shared my pond-affinity, and eventually, we were back among the porn stashes and pink pigtails.  That’s cool.  Honestly, playing as a group with my guildies has always been the best thing this game had to offer.  We’ve made some good friends over the years, some of whom don’t play much anymore but continue to stay connected.  So, I’ll take one for the Alliance.

Recently, however, folks have gone from casual to entirely absent, and it became time to try something new.  Over a plate of sushi and a couple of beers, one of my good friends and I were talking about WoW angst and how to beat it.  We decided to re-roll (again!?) on Earthen Ring, home of our kindred spirits in Alea Iacta Est (of The Instance fame) and to really do something new.

Enter the Priest!  I have never played one, despite a large pile of forgotten alts strewn across several servers.  Never. Healing is just something I have never done.  I’m not sure why – it just never occurred to me, I guess.

So I re-rolled last night, a brand new undead named, “Faust”.  If you’re on Earthen Ring, stop by and say hello.

July 2014
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Faust’s Modlist

Bagnon
Lightheaded
Jame's Horde Leveling Plugin
AuctionLite
Gatherer

From The Grave

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